Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Dream of Blogging

I started this blog for very pure reasons. For that matter, I started my last blog--and the one before that--for very pure reasons. To write. To share. To update family. Because I am notorious for not being able to afix stamp to letter. And even rather infamous for possibly not even knowing where my post office is to buy such mailing equipment.

Then I found dooce and I liked it and I heard about how she and her husband quit their jobs and blog and create blog-related product pretty much full-time. Well, very much full-time except for those occasions when they have a life, which seems to happen to them a lot more than it happens to me.

And then, about a month or so ago, I read this entry and saw this one, wherein, to sum, they buy a house and actually hire people to do things, like decorate it. For them. All funded by ad revenues and other sundry financial perks related to blogging.

And I realized. They don't just have a life, they actually live The Life.

So I relaunched my blog to follow in her footsteps--and so many other blog-for-food Sherpas. I also added a wee little ad, way down the page (maybe you've seen it?) with the dream of very large paychecks landing in my mailbox because the folks who visit my blog really do wonder if they're gay.

(I'm wondering what exactly about my content trips that ad. Hmm.)

Now, I'm reducing this, I know. I am neither successful novelist nor successful bloggist. Because in both fields of play I can count my readers on one hand. And odds are good I just got off the phone with half of them.

But that's my version of the American Dream. And someday, and I'm hoping real soon like, it will be brought to you by a leading fast food restaurant that I won't even let my kid eat at.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Boy and His Dinosaur

Today, you turned four years old. Four. Way past babyhood and just a few very assertive steps (re: Year of the Tantrum) out of toddlerness.

You are officially a Kid.

And you prove that everyday. Just a few months ago, you used to "womb"; you'd cling to my leg when we entered your classroom, burrow your head when you met new people, and go grinning catatonic when someone asked you a question. But now, you boldly order your own chocolate milk (obviously free of my socially debilitating shyness), rush to play with your friends with nary a glance back at mama, crack jokes, and even cop a little sass now and then.

You just don't need me as much anymore. I mean, I'm no longer a food source. You can do your bathroom duties pretty much on your own. You can even roll your own sushi. And I have to admit, because I'm all about the admitting here, that it stings. But just like when you get booboes, it only hurts for a little bit. You tear up a little, complain a little, maybe whine a little. I offer to apply a little mommy magic, to kiss the hurt away for you. More and more often you decline and just go straight for the Incredible band-aid, because you understand that it's a part of the game, that it will only hurt for a little bit, that the pain goes away and you come out of it with a killer bruise and story. You come out of it a little stronger.

(Or maybe you're just after the sticker?)

And you've certainly given me plenty of stories over the past year (remember the box?)--and plenty of not so metaphorical bruises. But even the figurative bruises ain't so bad, because I'm starting to see what happens on the other side.

As you let go of my hand or my leg, you start to work your way through your little piece of the world. And I love to watch you weigh it, consider it, laugh at it, stomp it, or save it from an aggressive bird.

And then I love to see you come running back to grab my hand and show me what you've found.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Because the Boy Must Embrace His Heritage. Whatever the Cost.

Me, reading: ". . . The dragon breathed a long blue flame. Fionn aimed and . . ."

Finn: "Mama, is the dragon healthy?"

Me, not reading: "Well, I suppose dragons do have to command a high-level of strength in order to effectively attack cities."

Finn looks confused, and little disconcerted.

Me, still not reading: "And he can fly. That takes muscle."

Me, reading: " . . . Fionn aimed and fired the spear. The dragon--"

Finn: "But does the dragon eat healthy?"

Me, wanting to say, yes, only the most organically grown villagers, actually says: "Yes. He probably watches his diet, doesn't eat too many fried foods, that kind of thing."

Finn: "So he can fly."

Me, reading: " . . . The dragon fell dead on the spot. Fionn cut . . ." and wondering if I should read the next line and in that split second of sterling parenting I decide that it's better to give Finn a little violence than to leave him without a direct object, I toss the rest of the sentence out rather quickly, "Fionn cut off its head."

Finn looks very disconcerted. And concerned.

Me: "Finn, what do you think about that. What Fionn did?"

Finn: "I think he should've told the dragon to go away, first.

Finn, thinking: "And if he didn't listen, he should have sent him to timeout."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

But We Do Have Good Food in KC

So we eat out a lot. A lot. Wait a minute. I mean A LOT. Caps lock on and no looking back.

We've tried to curb the extra-abode feasting. It hasn't worked. And it should work. Here. There just isn't as much good eats in KC. Well, that we've found anyway.

But a few weeks ago, we eavesdropped on our local NPR conversation about food. And one of the food critics mentioned this little El Salvadoran cafe in Merriam. Or Shawnee. It's so hard to keep track of KC's outerbanks.

They critics ended up having the folks at El Pulgarcito make them what sounded a lot like migas. (Whatever, like, so entry level.) We decided that the glowing review deserved a taste. Like we're hard to convince.

El Pulgarcito (does it mean lizard? I can't remember) is just south of Johnson drive, nestled quite firmly among autobody shops. Oddly, it is just, just to the left of the street we take to our good friends' house, who we visit so often I do think we've suitably worn out our welcome. Yet we've missed the El Salv revelation and tiny sign every single time.

(And the eats, especially the pupusas would've come in quite handy on those occasions when we had to spend the night. If you get my meaning. Oh God, not that one. The other one.)

We had the pupusas, these corn tortilla pancakes, stuffed with pork, beans, and cheese. And it's accompanied by (and this is why I'm not food critic), a large jar of jalapenoed coleslaw whose El Salvadoran name I can't remember. Finn dished that up, and yet surprisingly (I'm waxing ironic here) avoided it. But he did gobble up the pupusas and chased them with watermelon juice.

Note: the 'slaw is called curtido.

And they do have damn good salsa. And that comes from a girl who has seen Las Manitas' salsa on a good day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

They Used to Be Bears. Upgrade.

"Mama, you have to be quiet. Dragons are sleeping on the side of the road."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Mouthful of Austin. (I Miss You.)

Some friends of ours are making the trek to Austin for the Austin City Limits Festival. And since we, once upon a time, were all things Austin, they've asked us for some crib notes to our former hometown.

So Bear and I started brainstorming.

"Oh, they have to go to Las Manitas."

"And then to Guerro's."

"And polish it off with Amy's."

"And start it up again with Salt Lick."

"Or Ruby's."

"Kerbey Lane pancakes?"

"Magnolia Voodoo Chicken."

And together: "Texadelphia!"

Nary a spring or a trail or a store--outside of Waterloo Records, of course--came up in our first-draft picks. It was all food.

And, of course, that got me to thinking. As I am wont to do and as I have the nasty habit of spelling out here. In great detail.

I don't think I have an unhealthy relationship with food. The extra 10 to 15 pounds I'm packing just give me a cushy landing when I invariably trip over one of Finn's transformers. But most of my memories have surrounded not places or people or even things, but food.

When I was growing up, we didn't take any elaborate vacations, but we went out to eat every Friday night. When I was in college and graduate school and near improverished, the big credit card splurge would go to Castle Hill or Irish Lion, not a spa treatment. When I think of Prague, I think of those hot dogs stuffed in skinny rolls with moutard. When I think of Italy, I think of gnocchi. When I think of France, I think of bouillabaisse. When I found out I had cancer, I wanted cupcakes and chimcurri. (Not together, of course.)

There's something to be said for exploring the world with your mouth and not just your eyes--biting off a morsel and savoring new cultures, experiences, a city's flavors on your tongue. Getting to know the textures of the places you've been and really making them a part of who you are. That's how Finn started--stuffing the world in his mouth, block by stuffed bear. And now we know where he gets that.

(And I just remembered, they have to, have to, order up a batch of Hyde Park fries.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whoops. I've Done It Again

I have yet another art review in the Kansas City Star. Let me know what you think.

Or maybe not.

Maybe it's best if you keep those thoughts to yourself. It's probably more fun for both of us that way.

For those inquiring minds, a little light on the editorial process: It's not my title. It never is. I think I gave it the much more substandard and Johnny Cash-y title of "KC Artists Walk the Lines."

And I was damn proud of it. Sure, not deservedly so, but I really thought that would be my first title to make it into print.

Not so much.

But wait till next month. A real doozy awaits. We'll see if they bite.

Monday, May 14, 2007

On Mother's Day

Being a mother is not about what you cook or bake or clean or sew (and I very much ascribe to that philosophy, obviously). It's about who you share with the world.

So this is to Barry's mom, my mother-in-law, for sharing such a rock out scone-maker, omelette crafter, protector of my beauty sleep, and uber-papa.

(And well, other stuff that, since she's now a reader of my blog, I don't feel comfortable enumerating here. You know. That Stuff That Cannot Be Named.)

Thanks for being so generous with your love, your humor, your patience, your really good hair--and, of course, and your really hot progeny.

Making an Entrance

Bear here.

Mother's Day seems like a good time to put my first post onto the blog. The Smab Mouth herself has been hounding me for months to post. She keep reminding me that SMAB is an acronym for both of us. But hey, I communicate in images not the written word.

Still, here we go with the words...

I woke up early today to begin the prep for the Mom's Day brunch. I was taking my first crack at making scones so I wanted to allow for ample time for screw-ups. I'd like to think that I can get around fairly well in the kitchen. Who am I kidding, I rock the kitchen, as long a it doesn't entail baking. Can you see where this is going?

I didn't feel quite ready for the full-on, from-scratch scones so I went with the box variety. And yes, I screwed the pooch on the first round. Black bottoms, doughy centers. Just as I was about to leave for the grocery for another box, Finn called out from his room.


I asked him if he wanted to go with me to the store, but he said he wanted to wake up Momma. It was still quite early, so I reminded him that he should let her sleep in a bit, it being her day and all. It's not always a good idea to wake her up too early anyway. She is known to be a might "unpredictable" in the mornings.

I couldn't convince him to go with me to the grocery, so, being the stellar parent I would like to think I am, I sat him down in front of cartoons. The Perils of Penelope Pitstop to be exact. One of my childhood favorites. I asked him to stay put until I got back.

After buying another box of scones mix, as well as the eggs the I forgot to get the day before for her favorite lox/spinach/cheese/sour cream omelet, I returned home to find Finn dutifully watching the Boomer network.

Here's the impressive thing. This is why I love and respect my child so much.

As soon as I returned, my 3-year old boy got up from the couch to turn off the TV and the surround sound stereo. I asked him if he was done and he replied...

"Yes Papi. I watched cartoons while you were at the store but it's Mother's Day and I have to clean up the toys in my room before Momma wakes up. I told her that would be my present."

He proceed to clean up all of the Legos, Megablocks, Transformers, and Star Wars figures that he literally threw into all corners of his room yesterday will trying to empty boxes to use as his impromptu transportation vehicles.

I really can't stress what a milestone this was. He is a good kid, but like most kids, he always refuses to clean up his toys. I can't say that I really blame him. How can you truly survey the landscape of your imagination with all of your components neatly piled into boxes on shelves. Still, he was willing to make the sacrifice for his Momma.

Of course, as soon as he was done, he went to find his card for her and ran into her bedroom to wake her up. Luckily, our window of "unpredictablity" was over and she was happy to begin her day.

However, Finn didn't allow her to open the card herself because as he clearly informed her...

"I have to open this. I'm a much better opener than you."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


It's 2:08 a.m. and I'm still up. That's what having a bowl of tea after midnight will do to you. You know, Keep You Awake.

(Apparently, caffeine has something to do with that.)

So this, in case you were wondering, is the life of a freelancer. Stealing hours in the middle of the night, so I don't have to steal them from my child during the day. And this is also a product of taking the weekend off.

Yes, the whole weekend.

The entire weekend.

And I'm sorry, it felt real good. Even better than this caffeine high I've got going on.

Now, at 2:15 a.m., I'm finished with my project and rather spent. I'm scanning Proof of Life--the movie that ruined families! that broke up the pixie and the smile! the one where I, like Meg, fell in love with Russell Crowe! and the same film where Meg and Russ have no believable onscreen chemistry whatsoever because, well, I suppose because they were so believable offscreen!--all because the other 1,500 channels I have on my digital cable (only like 2 of which are HD) are dedicated to helping me make money off of newspaper ads while I finally get my washboard abs that I've been asking for every Christmas.

Where's my phone?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sometimes People Actually Ask Me for Advice and Sometimes I Just Stare Back at Them and Gawk

Once I month, I go to these networking events--lots of entrepreneurs, lots of introductions, lots of swapping of job descriptions with me standing there, usually glass-eyed, wondering if I'm actually supposed to understand the finer intricacies of investment banking.

(This is where the yummy buffet comes in handy. I like smoked salmon.)

Sometimes I get reciprocated upon. Not often, but enough. So I have a 30 second speech I give about what I do. And they usually say, "Neat," or if they don't have a mouthful of smoked salmon, "I wish I could write." To which I reply, "I'm glad you can't."

Well, not really.

But that usually rounds out my end of the conversation. Because I'm a writer and I'm better at "listening." Or because I'm socially inept. It can really go either way.

Last week, though, I entered one of these conversations empty plated. (I had just cleared it on an insurance broker.) He asked me what I do, I gave him my speech, and then he went off-script:

"So, tell me this, Sarah"--notice dropping of name, good networker that--"how can I become a better writer?"

He's supposed to give me the conversation closer, "I wish I could write." Then we could smile and make our mingling excuses and go on to other conversations and that Greek pasta salad that I haven't had a chance to try.

And I should have an answer for this. I teach writing. I should have some exercises in my purse--just let me go get those--that I can toss out to folks who want to improve their writing on the spot. Even at networking events. Because a good teacher never lets her guard down.

Or I could've given him a business card and told him I would guide him, for a fee, to a lucid style.

But instead I prattle something about reading a lot and getting an editor who's callous enough to give you a good smackdown, apparently not me since I followed that with a giggle and not my card. Because that's what professionals do when they're trying to teach or get business or make connections at networking events.

I have no social survival skills. I am a social moron.

So now I have to redeem myself. And since I can't talk my way out of it all impromptu-like, I'll have to craft it out here. Yeah, lucky you, I know.

Tip the First: Read good stuff--and read off script.

I have this theory about my personal word count. If I write too much stuff in a week, I run out of words, out of fresh ways to say things. So I read. Marketing brochures, ads, art reviews--things that are on script. And then I also go off the page, to things that I don't write. This afternoon I stocked up with Guy Gugliotta's "Mining for Dark Matter" in Discover and my supergem of the day, "50 Things Every Sportsman Should Know" in Field and Stream.

And so today, I may still not be able to network to save my life, but I might be able to survive a bear attack and I feel quite confident, given enough time, that I could start a fire with a Coke can and a Snicker bar.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007