February: Short post, pictures of Super Bowl party and Lake Chelan.
Married to Reptile Night? Is my wife also married to reptile night? No, that’s just a writer’s blip. Grandpa Jim invited the gang over to his club to check out some snakes, lizards, turtles, and other cold-blooded critters, a show put on courtesy of the Reptile Zoo in nearby Monroe.
Married to a writer: This month saw the launch of I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, and this sent me to Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the first time my wife’s stayed home. So what’s it like for her supporting a stay-at-home father/writer?
Glass half-full: I like riffing on glass half full/empty analogies. Take the way my wife looks at my writing career. My wife sees writing as a half full glass – namely, half empty, half full of piss. Or she sees a half full glass as ninety percent empty. She’s had to put up with my distractions and absent-mindedness as I focus on writing, sometimes at the expense of family, so I’ll give her that. Writing can be empty.
The Profits of Writing: Over the last five plus years my biggest writing victories have been publication in the small press. When I get something accepted, my wife often asks, “How much do they pay?” And I say, “Well, I’ll get a couple contributor copies, maybe a subscription, and a discount on additional copies.” My wife says, “So let’s see, when you go to the supermarket and fill up your basket with food and check out, what does the clerk say when you hand him contributor copies?”
A Page Half Full: Okay, so I can’t say I have a literary career yet, but we do have a movie premiering this spring (more later).
Preview Video: From the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! 圣诞快乐！ 恭喜发财！ 新年快乐！
Our exchange student, Flora, “walks for fitness.” She is quite the comedienne. She’s enjoying America, along with the challenge of our schools, a definite contrast with China’s. At Meadowdale High Flora is taking two Math classes, History, English, Photography, and P.E. – “Walking for Fitness.” Really. In “Walking for Fitness” Flora and classmates do just that, walk around the neighborhood; on rainy days they walk around the gym. One time I asked her what she did in the class, and she said, “Today we walked to McDonald’s.” Funniest thing she’s said all year, and she wasn’t joking.
Flora Learns U.S. History: Flora finds History difficult, as studying law and wars and politics in a second language would be for any foreigner. Her teacher was talking about Jim Crow, Civil War, segregation, and equal rights. Someone said, “Hey, if we’re equal, why do girls and boys have different bathrooms?”
Flora blurted, “It’s science!”
Math Good! Flora switched an Art class for a second Math class. Why? She said, “The math is so easy, we did this in 8th Grade!” However, upon arrival she couldn’t ride a bike or swim, and has little art training. True conversation, paraphrased:
Us: “Flora, don’t you have Art in China?”
Flora: “Yes, we call it Math.”
Us: “What about P.E.?”
Flora: “We have that, too, we call it Math.”
Food break – Cooking with Ava: Ava’s got noodles. And she’s starting a cookbook. Check out her recipe and follow step #6. Enjoy!
You say potato, Kaya says tomato! Whether I bake ‘em, mash ‘em, fry ‘em, do au gratin, or roast ‘em, Kaya gets all excited and says, “MMM, I love tomatoes.” We correct her, she seems to get it, and next time we bring out the spuds, she’s, “Can I have some tomatoes?”
Here’s to a great 2015!
In Mexico, sis-in-law Tracy Perkins-Chopra said, “I hope you’re not going to just do an all photo blog.” Sorry, Tracy, but aside from this brief note acknowledging good times, Flora and Ava becoming “Flava,” and the bros watching the Seahawks crush Arizona, there’s not much to say this month but, “I’m lazy, enjoy the photos, and Happy Holidays to all!”
Harvest Festival: Fall is here, enjoy the Harvest Festival photos and Happy Hauntings!
Will Ava Ever Be a Hawk? I’m watching football with Ava, and she tells me, “Dad, I don’t ever want to play football.” I ask, “Why?” She says, “It’s too easy to be injured.” So there goes my dream of raising the first female NFL star.
Picture Day: On photo day at Edmonds Elementary Kaya lost a tooth, thus she didn’t want to go to school and have her picture. I asked, “Why? She said, “I want to wait until my tooth grows back!”
Boogers vs. Vomit: Because of a shortage of girls, Sno-King combined 3rd and 4th graders. Ava and Gia wanted to play with their friends and thus are on rival teams: Ava’s Tigers vs. Gia’s Green Dragons. The Tigers’ uniforms are orange, and Gia’s, well, you can guess. The week of the big game became a war, the rival grew nastier, and by game time it was the Green Boogers vs. the Orange Vomit. Final score, Vomit – 4, Boogers – 1. The Green Dragons, as third graders playing fourth graders, did very good to stay in the game.
The Inappropriate Cup: One morning, as Terry started the day with coffee, Ava saw my cup and blurted, “‘Write like a motherf****r!'” Mom said, “What? What did you just say?” Ava said, “I’m just reading Dad’s cup.” So Mom said, “Dad????!!!!!” I said, “It’s my writer’s cup.” Ava said, “Dad, you have an inappropriate cup!” I bought the cup at AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference, an homage to Cheryl Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” column at The Rumpus. Somehow I thought the girls wouldn’t read the small print.
Family of Six: We’re now six, with Flora our exchange student, who attends Meadowdale High School. It should be a good year.
Stockholm Syndrome: Lately my wife, Terry, has been screaming “Stockholm Sydrome” every time I’m not performing to her standards. She’ll say, “Why did you drink all the coffee? You’re giving me Stockholm Syndrome!” or “It’s family movie night, if you don’t watch with everybody then it’s Stockholm Syndrome.”
Huh? Stockholm Syndrome is having empathy and even positive feelings for your kidnapper/oppressor, as happened when Patty Hearst was kidnapped and eventually became an accomplice of the Symbionese Liberation Front. I try to tell Terry this, and her response? “You oppress me and I have no empathy for you.” Geezish! Then stop saying you have Stockholm Syndrome.
West Space Fossil Lane: Flora has a classmate, Maggie, from her school in China doing an exchange program on Whidbey Island. Maggie’s host family lives a fifteen minute drive from my parents’ house. Last Sunday I took Maggie to our place, Maggie said her host family needed an address to pick her up. I told Maggie, “It’s…West Fossil Lane.” Maggie typed, “Westfossil Lane.” I said, “It’s West ‘space’ Fossil Lane.” So Maggie retyped and showed me, “Westspacefossil Lane.”
Crowded Bed: Often I’ll tuck the girls into their bed and stay up late, and one of the girls sneaks into mom and dad’s room. When I’m ready to sleep, there’s no space, which means dad has to carry said girl to bed. Recently, I discovered not one girl, but all three clustered around mom, legs and arms everywhere. Kaya’s awake, looks at me, and says, “It’s okay, you can sleep in my bed.”
Grandpa turns 80: Happy Birthday!
Random Thought: Why are there people who make $50/hr or more but drive ten minutes and four miles out of their way in order to save 12 cents a gallon on gas?
Welcome Flora! 欢迎周灿！
Zhou Can: In March we started the process to be a host family for an exchange student from China. We looked at applications, and felt comfortable with a girl from Chongquing, Zhou Can (周灿 – pronounced close to “Jo Tsan”). She had solid grades and eclectic tastes, including Kafka, dancing, and cats.
Zoo Can: My wife, Terry, in her Terryesque way, insisted on calling her “Zoo Can” every time the topic came up. We had a lot of questions concerning having a stranger live with us for an entire year.
Cultural Homestay: After a lot of back and forth and psychological preparation, including my eternal promise to be the best husband ever (a deal I make repeatedly with Terry), we agreed to give it a shot. Cultural Homestay International, the agency responsible for setting up host families with exchange students, did a great job of hooking us up and answering questions.
Flora and the Girls: Flora arrived on August 19. So far so good, the girls like Flora, Flora has not tired of hanging out with them. She even chooses to sit in the back seat of our minivan, and when shopping or at parks the girls clamor to hold hands with Flora. For the first two days the girls didn’t fight with each other, little by little, though, they’re reverting, but we think Flora will be a good influence. The 2014-2015 school year promises to be a lot of fun.
Birthdays this month: Nephew Nikolai, Danny, Flora, and I.