Monday, May 30, 2011

Soy is our friend.

I've found that lifelong omnivores tend to be a lot more tolerant of my veganism than ex-vegans. Seriously, what is it with ex-vegans? A lot of them are downright belligerent. I've noticed this trend online (don't think I know anyone who's actually followed this path IRL) where former vegans become followers of Weston A. Price and start praising the virtues of meat and raw milk and stuff. It's kind of like former diehard atheists who become born-again Christians (or vice versa).

Anyway, here's a good article about the science (or lack thereof) behind the WAP theories and the health benefits of soy:

Book club

I've started reading Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin on my Kindle for the Atlantic Monthly's online book club, which takes place on Twitter. I hadn't read this book before, but it was on my very lengthy "must read" list. The schedule for discussion and more details about the book club are here. Join us! There are a lot of us!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Disaster birthdays

My birthday is December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day).

My mom's birthday is September 11.

My stepdad's birthday is August 29 (Katrina day, for those not from NOLA).

I asked my guy if there have been any horrible disasters near our baby's due date, and he mentioned the bombing of now I predict that our baby will be born on August 6 (actual due date is August 1).

We'll see if I'm right.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Memories and truth

NPR has an interesting piece about the memoirs written by Augusten Burroughs, his brother, and his mother. I loved Burroughs' Running With Scissors and Dry, and although I found A Wolf at the Table somewhat harder to read (because it lacked much of the dark humor of his other memoirs), it was certainly well written.

The NPR piece raises the issue of truth in memory - the emotional truth is what tends to stick with us, though the factual details can get fuzzy. I thought of my 30th birthday party, where my Playback theater group performed, and I sat in the audience as party guests told stories about me and Playback turned them into theater. Many of those stories bore little resemblance to the events I remembered. For example, one friend told a story about a day when I was called him on the phone, stressed and upset. He implied that my emotional state was due to the difficulties I'd encountered directing a play, coupled with the chronic unreliability of my then-boyfriend. Now, those things were present, but the friend omitted that he himself had just sent me an angry text message, and my memory of that day is that I was upset that he (my friend) was angry with me. I don't know if he forgot that part, but if I were to tell the story of that day, that text message and my reaction to it would be what it was about. Now I suspect, in retrospect, that my friend was never really that angry at me to begin with (I probably over-reacted due to my already stressed out state), and that's why that piece of the story was irrelevant to him. But it's interesting how different that experience was for the two of us.

I can only imagine the differences that could occur over years and years of memories, in the case of Augusten Burroughs and his family. His brother's account sounds especially interesting, and I plan to read it.

I've joined the tweeting flock.

I wanted to join the Atlantic Monthly's online book club, so I have signed up for a Twitter account. Follow me and I'll follow you...I think that's how this thing works ;)

I'm chaikavegan.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Does baking count as nesting?

We spent all day yesterday organizing the house, and today's plan is more of the same. I like seeing my stuff integrated into the makes me feel much more at home. Especially my books. I have two tall bookshelves, one with fiction and one with non-fiction. It's a good thing I have become a Kindle addict, because I don't have much more room on those shelves!

I wish I could say I loved every minute of the cleaning and organizing, but...not so much. I keep waiting for that nesting instinct to kick in. So far, I'm still a far cry from Martha Stewart.

One thing I have been really into lately is baking. For Mother's Day last week, I made this amazing blueberry coffee cake, which got rave reviews from the non-vegans I fed it to. I got a good deal on a LOT of local strawberries at the produce market, so I froze several for smoothies, then used the rest on top of these shortcakes, with some vegan whipped cream. And then today I made these cinnamon muffins - thankfully I made a double batch, otherwise the still-sleeping dude would probably not have gotten any!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The importance of revision

I went to Jazz Fest again yesterday. The weather was lovely, Cyndi Lauper was great, and it was my guy's first time there, so it was pretty neat all around.

I recently finished another round of revisions on the novel I've been working on for two years now. I was so proud of myself when I wrote the first draft in three months, but little did I know that revisions would take much, much longer than that original draft. Of course, I haven't been working on it constantly during the revisions phase. I took breaks for months to work on theater projects, and this turned out to be quite helpful, because when I returned to my manuscript I had established some necessary distance from it.

But back to Jazz Fest. I saw something there yesterday that reminded me of the importance of revision. A musician announced that he was going to perform a song that he'd written "about three hours ago." Then he proceeded to start and stop the song more than once, to complain about the sound mixing (and tell the sound tech "You're killing me, here!") and to communicate with the band backing him on stage regarding what he wanted them to play. Once it became clear that he was actually going to proceed with the song (at this point, the tent began to empty out - some people had already given up on this guy) he started singing some of the worst lyrics I have ever heard. I turned to my mom, sitting next to me, and she said "I think he really needs to work on his lyrics." We ended up leaving the tent before that song ended. By the looks of it, most of the other audience members had already had the same idea.

Now, it is entirely possible that this guy is capable of writing good lyrics. I had never heard of him before and am not familiar with his work, but he did seem to be a technically skilled musician. The song was about something he clearly felt passionate about. But it was just not working. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is because he had just written the song, and was full of I-just-wrote-something glow, and didn't have any perspective on it yet.

I wonder if, a few months or years from now, he will come across the notebook where he had hastily scrawled those lame lyrics, and he will think, "Oh my God, I can't believe I performed this at Jazz Fest."

Perhaps not. Maybe he will always think it was a great song. Maybe it really is the best lyrics he can write. But most of us hearing him perform that day gave up on his performance because of that song (and, I suspect, because of the negativity and tension in the room when he started complaining to the sound guy). After all, there were several other bands playing on other stages at the same time, not to mention food to eat, art to admire, and everything else Jazz Fest offers.

Failure is a painful but important step in the learning process. I certainly can't say that all (maybe not even any) of the art I've produced is the absolute best that I'm capable of. But it's important to remember that your audience has options, and if you don't really strive to do your best, they are likely to give up and seek out someone else's efforts. You don't automatically get an "A" for effort. Practice, refine, and for God's sake, REVISE!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cranky pregnant lady gripe of the day

What happened to Sunday matinee performances, New Orleans?

I, and the old people, would love to see your play, but if you only have performances that start at 8pm, I have 2 options: try to convince David to go with me, or skip it.

Unfortunately, tiring easily + saying no to caffeine + living 1.5 hours away from NOLA means that I really can't start my drive home at 10pm or later. I drive up I-55 surrounded by swamps and pine trees and have a really hard time staying awake.

Heck, even before I was preggo, I liked seeing Sunday matinees. It was a not-as-busy time of the week for me.

Gah, I hate missing interesting plays :(

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jazz Fest!

I survived an entire day at Jazz Fest while 6 months pregnant! I think I should get some "honorary NOLA citizen" points for that.

I love Jazz Fest. Yeah, I know...expensive, crowded, hot, full of musicians whose music is definitely NOT jazz...whatever, I still love it. My mom loves it too, and we often go together.

But here's the mom is a festival MACHINE. She prints out the schedule, she plans, she highlights, and she marches all across the fairgrounds, or French Quarter, or wherever said festival is occurring, never tiring. I can usually keep up with her, but not this year! So I warned her that I wanted to spend all day, if possible, with my butt firmly planted on a chair in a tent. She kindly obliged, and spent her extra energy going out on food missions and keeping me well fed and hydrated. Score!

We spent most of the day in the jazz tent, then headed over to the blues tent to see Arlo Guthrie at the end of the day. I admit, had I not been pregnant, I probably would have opted to see John Mellancamp over on one of the big outdoor main stages. I can't help it, I grew up with his stuff and I love it. BUT I'm glad I'm pregnant and lazy, because Arlo Guthrie was phenomenal. A great storyteller, with such amazing positive energy that you could almost feel the tent buzzing with it. I ran into some friends, ate great food (yes, it is possible to find vegan food at Jazz Fest!), and treated myself and my son to a full day of music. He's going to have to get used to the fact that is his mom is a hippie.