(I have run off to Philadelphia for the long weekend, and am en route to my home stay.)

Cabbie: (in thick Slavic accent) excuse me – do you know when is this Valentine’s Day?

Kim: tomorrow.

Cabbie: Ah. So tomorrow everywhere is chocolate and flowers and love and sweethearts.

Kim: Yup.

(pause)

Cabbie: And what should other people do?

Kim: …We can still go out and have fun for no reason at all.

(The cabbie laughs uproariously at that for the remaining five blocks of my ride .)

Well, I tried — Pat and I finally tried having a pool lesson. With E along as the “femme fatale.”

…Except the three of us just ended up sitting in a corner and sampling the whiskey and never even went over to the damn table.

I’ve asked Pat for another real lesson at some point. He insists that perhaps trying at a place that is not a bar may be prudent.

There was a time I took a number of writing classes — but none of them really got me anywhere. It got to the point that I was re-learning things over and over that I already knew. I was also starting to get busy with work on the job anyway — at the time, I was working in television — so I stopped.

….I think it’s time again. I have had people tell me that various posts on my other blog could and should get published somewhere, but…I can never seem to figure out where I would send them. Or how to edit them. Or how to refine your work for a particular market.

You know, those are probably the kinds of things a writing class could teach me.

Next year.

On the one hand: I’d love to write about the process trying to invent and create a cookie recipe for the upcoming Cookie Takedown in December.

But on the other hand — I’d be giving away state secrets if I did that. Hmm.

….I could do what the Mythbusters do — instead of actually naming the ingredients in various explosive compounds, they “bleep out” the names with funny noises or blur out the printed names. And then Adam usually lampshades this by saying, “as we saw a moment ago, adding blur to blur causes a dangerous reaction…”

So that said:

My family grows yahtzee, and I got a bunch from my parents recently. I also know of this incredibly rich bromphulty cookie recipe — the flavor of which, depending on how well the dough handles, could blend very nicely with the yahtzee. Especially if I insert the yahtzee in the brumphulty somehow — but how, should it be jellied? Or dried? I keep leaning towards jelly.

Things fell a bit silent here, my apologies. Caring for my cat left me somewhat exhausted.

This past weekend I rallied some, just in time for my parents coming into town. One of the sights we visited while I played tour guide was Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden – where, conveniently, they were in the midst of their annual Chile Pepper Festival. (I figured it would safely appeal to them both — Mom would ooh and ah over the gardens themselves, while Dad would get into the various food and tasting booths they had set up to celebrate the chili pepper.)

One of the events they had was the annual return of one of Matt Timm’s cooking “takedowns”. I told him how I’d missed out on the signup for the next bacon event – but he tipped me off to a couple of upcoming events that aren’t on the web site yet.

And one of them is a cookie takedown.

Well.

The last takedown I competed in, the bacon one, I think I suffered by not putting enough thought into what I was doing. But with a two-month lead time…I think I could at the very least give things a good run for their money.

I’ve gotten a couple ideas already, so I may be spoiling friends thoroughly over the next couple months asking them to play guinea pig for various cookie ideas.

…Oh, and did I mention that one of the things my parents brought for me from home was a couple big bags of just-picked cranberries, and that both the ideas I have for cookies incorporate cranberries as ingredients?

A new line item for the list — and this time, it’s the first item about cutting something out:

* Try to stay offline on the weekends.

There’ve been a lot of articles recently about how computer use fragments your thinking or disinvolves you from the world around you or prevents you from effectively sleeping or… I’ve been thinking about them more and more. I do fall into the “let me just surf the web” trap when it comes to trying to find something to do, and I do that more often than I’d like.

Ten years go, before the Web got as big as it is now, I did a lot more. I wrote a hell of a lot more. It was harder to do research – and I would never want to give up the access to information that I have now — but there weren’t as many web pages to goof off on, and I had more brainspace to focus on what it was I was writing.

But today my thinking is a lot more fragmented, and my writing voice is noticeably more…mundane. I don’t take the time to find the right words any more — mainly because it’s too easy to just write something half-assed and then go surf some.

So I’m thinking that I need to get into a “web-free weekend” habit. Unless I am researching something for myself, I will simply not log on to the web on the weekends. Check email, sure; but the New York Times online and Metafilter and IMDB and Facebook and Ravelry and all the other time sinks I’ve been playing on? No more. Save that for the weekdays. Take back some of that time to go see movies rather than read about them, to knit rather than hit up Ravelry, to see friends in real life rather than on Facebook.

I think I just found the Master’s Program for me.

It’s tough for an older student to go back to school; it’s got to be a serious commitment. And — it’s one I have neither time nor money for. Plus, I hadn’t quite made up my mind what I would get a Master’s in.

However – I think I’ve found something that could cover all bases quite nicely. Columbia University has a really incredibly intensive crash course in the publishing industry — which lasts only six weeks, and only costs $5,000.

And…most importantly, it’s something I could see myself doing. Maybe not this year or next, but…very soon.

The past couple weeks ended up being my cat’s last. It was right to stop and just be with him, at the end.

It’s just as right to now be getting ready to turn back towards life, so I’m back in this. And one of the things I may be doing soon is getting going on the t-shirt quilt pillow sham.

My biggest instinct now, firstly, is to do a massive clean of the whole apartment — my roommate earned canonization by starting me off (she cleaned the entire living room the day after he died, partly to just do something helpful and partly because she says she generally does a massive clean before her grad school semesters start anyway), and I’m going to be doing a lot of haul-stuff-out-of-closets-and-figure-out-where-they-can-go-instead over the next few days. Including — finally setting up a storage system for all of my yarn, and all of the other random craft crap I’ve picked up.

So really, there’s no excuse any more for me to not finally just cut down the t-shirts I’m using so that is at least started. Then I’ll only have a few squares of fabric staring me in the face waiting to find a sewing machine, rather than entire t-shirts.

Unless, you know, my roommate happens to magically produce a sewing machine with her Miraculous Fairy Wand or whatever she seems to have. But something tells me to look elsewhere first.

So this coming Sunday, I had a reservation for a car to take myself out to Long Island and finally see the damn Perseids. I made it about a month ago.

Last night, I cancelled it. My cat is just too ill — it’s possible that Sunday or Monday, I may need to have the vet come to help him let go — and I don’t want to leave him if that’s the case.

It’s another delay. But, the Perseids will be back next year. My cat won’t.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. –John Lennon

Astute readers (all…what, two of you?) probably have noticed I haven’t said much in here in the past couple days. This isn’t because I’ve stopped the pursuit of the life list, though; it’s just a pause.

There are times when to pursue the goals, but there are times when responsibilities and life itself takes precedence. In my case, hospice care for a beloved cat is the priority now; providing care and affection through the last days of a long life. And there are rewards here, to be sure; all the Perseids streaking through my apartment couldn’t compare to the gratitude I felt the other night when he tried to feebly climb up on the couch with me, to curl up in his usual spot in the crooks of my knees, for what could be the last time ever.

The list is there; the world’s out there and it’s not going anywhere. The list will give me something to do after he’s gone. The last time I was affected by death, I was comforted by my then-boyfriend who advised me to “turn your face towards life when you can”, and he’s right. The list is the way I am going to move towards that. But for now, life itself is the priority, and staying put in it. There are still small things I can do – I can continue reading another of those 1001 books, or cut up one of the t-shirts while he sleeps — but it may also be better to just sit with a little dying cat as he naps with me, and let the pursuit of the goals go by for a while. Because if you’re too busy chasing things, you don’t get to see what things look like as you’re running through them — and there’s good to be found there too.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you’ll miss it. –Ferris Bueller