It's that time of the year again.

I'll be writing a novel in November. Somehow.

I've joined a few hundred thousand other people participating in National Novel Writing Month. Starting November 1st, we all try to write 50,000 words in one month. Last year, I was able to pull this off, but then, Nola was napping a good 3-4 hours each day. And we weren't spending a week in Texas for Thanksgiving. And we weren't closing on a house.

So, in order to get this done, I have to write two thousand words a day, November 1st through the 21st. Two thousand words a day. It should be interesting -- it most definitely will be sloppy -- but I think it can be done. And then, added to what I completed last year, I will have the first draft of my novel done. I'm so excited!

Here's a quote that really inspires me around mid-November, when the house is getting filthy and I'm about ready to tear my hear out:

It costs a lot to be authentic… And one can’t be stingy with these things. Because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you’ve dreamed of being.
--Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother”


Life in the PJs

The cable guy called them the projects. Nola's physical therapist mistook them for barracks. But really they're not so bad. Can a place with hardwood floors actually be considered a project?

Still, they're definitely subsidized housing that we couldn't afford if not for the good graces of a paternalistic entity. In this case, Princeton University. If we depended on Princeton, the City, somehow that would be less okay. Why has government aid become so stigmatized, while accepting the bounty from an enormous endowment fund brings no shame? In either case, due to economic conditions, a family cannot afford to rent housing in their community.

The answer to this is too long for one simple blogger like myself to tackle. We are lucky that our "Projects" have less crime, neglect, bureaucratic indifference, and all the other lovely problems that our brothers and sisters two blocks over, in the Princeton Township projects, have to put with. They may not be lovely to look at, but we're actually quite happy to be here.


You're Not Allowed

Nobody said that you could grow up and become a toddler, Nola. Sure, you're not quite one yet, and you certainly aren't "toddling." But look at you. That's a not a baby, that's a big girl!


Viva La Whatever

We stumbled upon the Grammys last night. Why are the Grammys even on a major network anymore? Why haven't they scampered off to some MTV-type network?

I guess the Grammys are for less grumpy people, people who actually believe that the most popular music is the best music. Those folks who want an authority to decide what should be "awarded," even if said authority figure consists --in the main-- of fifty-five year old record company executives wearing tiny little ponytails.

Now, Svendlor is getting old, too, so we shouldn't be deciding what's hip, either. But we can guess it's not Paul McCartney. Or Coldplay, even if Jay-Z is rapping with Chris Martin. MIA was pretty cool, but all people seemed to remember was the outfit semi-covering her nine month pregnant belly. Anyway, the point is, we won't pretend to be up on the latest musical groundswells (although Charlie certainly knows more about it than Laura!), but this mashup by DJ EarWorm certainly summarizes the past year in music better than the long-ass Grammy celebration we sat through.

p.s. the link was stolen from one of Charlie's other blogs, MuttLife.


'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

Charlie and I were sitting around talking smack during the Superbowl (which, disappointingly, did not feature the Patriots or the Cowboys, so we had no stake in it, although it was a great game). We had finally seen The 40 Year Old Virgin the night before, and I was still loving the opening song by Joe Walsh. Man, that brought me back. The soundtrack from my childhood would feature many tunes from the Eagles, and former Eagles, and Paul McCartney's Wings.

Anyway, we got to comparing Joe Walsh's solo career to that of his former bandmates, Don Henley and Glen Fry. For instance, we both feel that Henley's "Boys of Summer" has this heavy vibe of "now that we Baby Boomers are older, there's nothing good in the world anymore." We can't stand this attitude in all its forms (reunion tours, 70's retro fashion, Clinton worship).

Just to annoy, I started singing the chorus, "I can see you / your brown skin shining in the sun..." and Charlie stopped me right there, laughing. Seems he always thought the lyric went "your boys still shining in the sun." Which is infinitely funnier. If only Don Henley was expressing his fond memories of male nudity on San Francisco's Baker Beach. That I could get behind. But no, it's just a cheesy song about missing life before SPF30 came along.

We would love to hear if anyone else has a good, garbled song lyric. Yes, we know there's a book. That's where this post's title came from.


Baby, It's Cold Outside

Poor Nola. She's just beginning to perceive the world in new ways. She loves to look at the sunlight as it beams into our apartment, and to make shadows with her hands. She's recently learned to imitate mommy and daddy, and especially likes clapping. She should be going out into the world everyday, exploring and making new friends.

Instead, she and mommy are house-bound with an indifferent cat. When it's really cold like this, a thick sheet of ice forms on the back stairs, making them dangerous for a mom carrying a kid. And, even if we went down the front stairs and around the back to where our stroller is stored, the snow pack in the alley makes it impassable. So, if it's warm enough for mommy, we take a short walk carrying Nola. If it's below fifteen degrees or so, mommy throws in the towel. We stay inside all day.

For company, we watch the daytime version of "Deal or No Deal." Howie cheers the contestants on even as they make bad choices and open more cases than they should. Mommy lectures Nola on the importance of calculating risk and maximizing opportunity. Mommy is not much of a risk-taker, herself.

Nola claps. Luckily, just about everything makes Nola happy.


When the Levees Broke

This is a completely untimely post, since New Orleans flooded over three years ago, and the HBO series came out two years ago. But we highly recommend checking out When the Levees Broke, a four-part documentary by Spike Lee. We finally watched it this week, and it broke our hearts. But it made us fall in love with NOLA all over again (as many of you know, our daughter is named after New Orleans, LA).

We last visited New Orleans in 2007, and there was still so much to do. Since much of the population was bussed to far-flung places, "Help Wanted" signs hung everywhere. We didn't do "disaster tourism," so we didn't see the Lower 9th Ward, but even in the wealthy Garden District, where we stayed, people were rebuilding two years in. And the Mississippi coastline still looked like a disaster area.

President Obama vows to fulfill the broken promises of the Bush Administration and rebuild the coast. We'd love it if he created some sort of service component to help finally get gulf coast back where it used to be -- the Katrina victims back home, the neighborhoods rebuilt, and the levees actually strong and stable. After viewing this series, we'd be the first to sign up.

Oh, and if you ever stay in New Orleans, we highly recommend the Avenue Inn!