Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Amazing Race is coming!

Andrew and Dan! Andrew and Dan! Please watch Amazing Race as it premieres this Sunday and cheer on my son's frat brothers Andrew and Dan! (okay, only if you want to, but they would be really really happy!) Andrew has been a house guest of ours in the past and let me say that I am fascinated to see how this guy (he's one who bears an uncanny resemblance to Seth Rogin) managed to race around the world. He was, let us say, very laid back. In any case, I can attest, they're both great guys and are obviously contractually bound not to tell anyone - even their parents - what the outcome was! So watch with me.

Til next time...

Monday, September 22, 2008


Serena's back to being bad. And the guilty pleasure just got guiltier. And more pleasurable. Not quite up to the all time best of the BTVS ep where Angel turns bad after sleeping with the Buffster, but still, not too shabby GG, not too shabby.

Just sayin'

Til next time... XOXO

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting ready

Going back to the "real world" tomorrow. School's starting up. The high school where I teach has power, sustained little damage. Likewise for our 9th grade campus. Most of our feeder schools (the elementaries and middle schools) are still in the dark. Meaning that most of our kids are, too - and I mean that in a literal sense, of course!

Still kinda crazy here. Still a million or so without power in the region - that's a lot of hot, cranky folks. Galveston is trying to rebuild. It will be a long, long haul. The area around Bolivar Peninsula is simply gone for the most part.

And we are going to have to finally replace our fence, which while still standing politely does not quite stand in the same exact spot and thus one of the gates is never going to actually close again on its own.

Think I'll move to posting about things other than hurricane, but it's sort of hard. Lots of things in my world are in flux right now, some bigger than others. Gonna be interesting to see how everything shakes out. (yeah, I'm being cryptic; some of you know these stories; none of them are post worthy quite yet)

TV has sorta lost its luster for the moment. We're keeping the AC on, but at higher temps than we normally do both to conserve and in a sort of lame solidarity with those who have none. (Yes, I know it's 95 degrees in your bedroom. But I'm keeping the thermostat hovering just under 80 if it makes any diff to you. It doesn't?) We've been opening the windows more than usual cause we got used to it. I finished Tom Perotta's The Abstinence Teacher and adored his spot on characterizations but felt a little let down by the leaky sort of ending. My refrigerator hasn't been this spotless since it was delivered. I actually dusted my dresser. A lot. Dusted all the mini blinds, too. Got a reminder of the days when I wasn't teaching full time and writing full time and sleeping little. Okay, that was a three day period a few years back. But I remember it fondly.

But oh how I'm glad that land line is back.

Til next time...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Back on the grid

But feeling a little guilty that so many still aren't. I drove around yesterday afternoon in honor of the return of the land line, distributing bottled water to any lineman I could find. Thank you electric workers, aT&T workers, tree guys... The list is vastly endless for those profound thanks.

So much to process through all this. I can quip about how everyone would stand outside in the street facing east holding their cell phones up trying to get bars. Or how absurdly happy I was to find that my walking distance Starbucks reopened yesterday. (real coffee! WiFi!) It was a hive of happiness as we all checked our emails and just breathed in the caffeine. Or how clueless the info disseminators were for awhile, with their announcements of "Call us at ____" or "check our website at _____." So which part of close to 100% of us have no power and no land lines and virtually no cell phone service and had to just promise something really creepy to some guy named Kyle at the At&t store just to get a car charger don't you guys understand? Cause I'm saying - if we could check the website, we wouldn't be standing in line for ice.

But here's the other stuff, at least some of it. I could afford to throw away my rotted food and will slowly (once I'm sure this is all sticking) buy more than just what I need for one meal. I had baking soda and cleaning products and a shitload of 409 to clean the fridge. In fact, I keep our old fridge in the laundry room for drinks and water and the like and I cleaned that too. My house didn't flood, only almost. I teach public school so I have a job to go back to once the school gets power which will probably be Monday. They paid us early cause they knew the storm was coming. I have good neighbors who know how to cut stuff down. One who runs a landscape company and has a crew of guys with lots of chain saws and muscle. A husband with a Prius and a bunch of ingenuity who's even relatively interesting to talk to in the endless dark that began around 8PM.

But what if I didn't? What if I couldn't throw away my milk because I couldn't buy more and I couldn't walk to the FEMA POD or I had three little kids and the line was too long and I didn't have a support system to help me. What if I had no insurance? What if I was only one crisis away from homeless? (Hey, most of us are probably only 2 crises away anyway, so it's not such a huge stretch and if you think it is, think again) Money makes a difference. I always want to think it isn't so. And people yak like it isn't so. Just a little love. All that stuff. But it ain't so. Not to me. If you can't rebuild, you're stuck. And if you take away our ability to get out cause there's no gas to fill the car and our ability to network cause the communication infrastructure fails for too long, and limit what and when we can purchase... well folks, you've got the problems of every third world country and lots of poor areas right here in the good old US of A. And I always knew that. Only now it's really, really clear. Oh money might be bartering stuff and having skills and talents to share and to survive. People do it all the time. Lots of people doing just fine with their choice to be off the grid. But what if it wasn't their choice. Just bad luck and poor education and a whole bunch o' other stuff which might even include lack of intiative but mostly is just circumstances piling beyond one's control. When even listening to the area news on 99.7 - in between Johnny Cash songs and endless looping of Kid Rock's All Summer Long - do you know some stations around here censor the "smoking funny things" line? I mean seriously folks! Get a life. - doesn't really tell you what to do.

Okay rant over. Soap box put back in bathroom so I can wash the floors.

Til next time...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Like Pilgrims with cell phones

If only the cell phones worked, that is. Or as my friend Anne just texted me, "Like pilgrims with cell phones and banjos" because her husband has a banjo and has been playing it in the evenings.

Last night I got very excited while shopping for dinner in the darkened Krogers because I scored a tiny little hot rotisserie (sp?) chicken and a bag of lettuce. It beats the peanut butter.Power is slowly returning. Not in our neighborhood, but mother in law had hers for almost a day til it went off again this morning. The customers served by Entergy (including us) were about 97 percent out of power after IKE. Centerpoint (Houston) was about 80 percent. Centerpoint seems to have some easier fixes. Some places, like the Galleria shopping center and surrounding homes never lost power. Husband's office, obviously, has power or I wouldn't be on line. But up in the northern suburbs, we took the eye wall, so they say, and the result isn't pretty. You know, I think because this wasn't the loss of life like Katrina, the media has stopped showing all of you what's going on. Well let me say, just so you're sure - the 4th largest city in the US is still largely living like a third world country. But the convoys of electric trucks keep rolling in. So help is here.I keep pretending it's like camping.

Last night we: ate our little chicken. Checked on Alva next door who lives alone and spent some time chatting. Went for a drive to charge the cell phones. By 8:45 it was too dark to drive around safely. So we sat on the porch by the propane lantern and listened to AM radio. There are two types of people in this world: Those who think it's a good idea to call in to AM 740 and say things like "Do y'all know when the power will come on?" or "What we all need to do is just put a little love into this" and those who just want their power on and don't really want to chit chat pointless platitudes but nonethless find it entertaining to listen to the clearly stoned 16 year old calling from his father's car to whine that he has had to spend 8 hours a day with nothing to do and does anyone know when his (he gave the name but I'm keeping his stoned self anonymous out of courtesy) high school would open up again cause he really, really needed to know. (Uh, dude! Could it be any more obvious to the listening public that your dope connection is a fellow student and you're running low on weed?)

Til next time...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Surviving Ike

So, what happens when a Cat 3 hurricane hits you? (they say it was one mile less per hour than a cat 3 and thus a cat 2, but I say that's quibbling)

Well, the good news is that our house and our neighbors' houses sustained little if no damage. There was one dicey 30 minutes where someone's pool sort of backed up into our back yard with lots of sludge and husband and neighbor Rod had to get out shovels in the pouring rain and dig a trench so Ike didn't end up in our kitchen. But they dug and water flowed out onto street rather than into our house. There was the long night of wind and things hitting the house. A little squabbling - "Joy - you can't scream every time something bangs into us!" Me: "I'll try..."

And now... no power, no land line for reasons I can't fathom since that's why I kept the old wall phone in the first place..., spotty cell service, and lines for ice, food, gas - whatever there is of it. Houston is coming back on piece by piece. Obviously, I'm typing this in a piece that is lit up. It is better known as husband's office. I just drank hot coffee. I'm in ac. There's a working McDonald's across the street. I'm trying not to be a baby about this. I got excited when the at&t store opened up yesterday and I was able to score a car charger for my cell. (cash only; let into store only if bouncer in front deems you as someone they could actually help; my Russian genes have kicked in at this point - "Is line. Go stand. Maybe something good at front. This pogrom won't stop us...")

I've emailed my editor. We're supposed to move on line edits now. (wasn't gonna blab about that quite yet, but I need to talk about something positive, so yes, I nailed the macro edits and get to move on and Ike or no Ike I want SPARK to stay on schedule. Fall of 09!!)

People have endured worse. Right now weather is unseasonably cool and dry. 60's? in Houston? in September? Crazy talk!

Ike sucks! Long hair and no ability to blow dry and flat iron sucks. (okay, I'm still a shallow gal) But we are alive and kicking and have great neighbors and lots of water and hot showers and the promise of power... some day...

Til next time..

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I hate IKE, but -

I had to love the sixteen year old girl who asked me the following when I told her that because of the impending landfall of Ike on the Texas coast, school was cancelled for tomorrow:
"Do you think they'll like cancel the mall, too?"

Til next time...
And if you're in Ike's path, stay safe and dry.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Must read

Yes, you must read Leonard Marcus' Minders of Make-Believe if you want a meticulously researched book on the history and shaping of children's literature in America from Colonial days til now. I heard Leonard Marcus speak for the first time at SCBWI in LA and I was hooked. He's amazingly smart, and that really great combination of lover of children's lit and first rate historian. If you want the "dish" about the publishing houses and editors and you want it in historical context, then this is the book for you. I've also now read (most of) Marcus' Golden Legacy, which recounts the history of Golden Books (just the pictures alone will send you on a nostalgic journey) and his The Wand in the Word, which is interviews with fantasy writers. But Minders of Make-Believe has been my favorite so far. If you think of names like McElderry as only the name of an imprint, pick it up and find out about Harcourt's actual Margaret K. McElderry. Find out about who liked whom. Who fired whom. Who thought certains books would be good or bad ideas. And of course, the industry changes sparked by Harry Potter which, among other things, Marcus reminds us, sparked the creation of a separate NY Times bestseller list for children's books only designed as Marcus puts it, "in an effort to make the world safe for Danielle Steel and Tom Clancy." He follows that up with Harold Bloom's snarky opinion about HP and Bloom's request that readers shun the book!

A good read. Try it.

Til next time...