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Posts by Carol

Song of the Week: “The End of the World As We Know It,” Great Big Sea (cover)

Only in So Cal: kindergarteners enjoying man-made snow

As I dropped my sixth grade son at school this morning, it hit me. This is my last week as an elementary school mom. Admittedly, I’ve had some time to get used to this idea — eleven years, to be exact. That’s a lot of cookie dough and wrapping paper sales. A lot of field trip permission slips, holiday performances and bring-something-that-represents-your-heritage classroom potlucks. (My macaroni and cheese has always been popular. It was that or beer.)

My son is ready to transition to the big world of junior high. I thought I was too, until I found my eyes welling up as I pulled away from the curb.

Every once in awhile, the world — or at least Sirius radio — provides the perfect soundtrack to our lives. As I drove toward home, R.E.M.’s “The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” began to play. I’ve always liked that song, especially the super-speedy Great Big Sea cover. I’ve never understood the song’s meaning, so when I got home I looked it up on And guess what? It doesn’t really mean anything. Michael Stipes, who wrote it, calls it “a collection of streams of consciousness.” Hey, I can relate to that.

This one’s for all the moms and dads who are attending promotions, commencements, graduations or any other ceremony that marks the end of an era, for both your child and yourself. We’re all going to feel fine. Just give us a little time (and a whole bunch of tissues).

“The End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine,” Great Big Sea (Cover)


My Meta Blog

Wait — whoah. It’s June? And I haven’t blogged since February? How! Did! That! Happen! Oh, right: I’m kind of a slacker. This time around, I’m not going to promise to keep to a schedule because if you have any sense at all you won’t believe me. (And if you do, you are excessively trusting toward people who have repeatedly let you down and should maybe consider talking to a professional.)

So why am I blogging now? Two reasons:

1. I’ve started watching cat videos.

A week ago, I handed in the revised version of my upcoming young adult book, Bubbleworld, which should be out next spring. Someday soon I’ll write a long blog post and tell you all about it.* Now I have time to work on my vegetable garden, clean my desk, go through my closet, and take up pilates.

Pilates? Seriously? That is so not going to happen. Ditto for anything involving the phrase “clean” or “go through.” I can only check my Amazon rankings so many times in a day (“Bad . . . still bad . . . wow — I didn’t know they could go that low”), so it’s come down to watching cat videos versus writing a blog post. So here we are.

2. I’m just in this business for my fans. (And maybe a little bit so I don’t have to get a real job.)

After I handed in my manuscript, I spent a day** answering my fan mail from the last few months. My favorite letter came from a young Russian woman with an extreme fondness for exclamation points (unlike some of my writing peers, I love exclamation points!!!!) who told me that she hopes to come to America some day. In the meantime, she reads my books and blog to work on her English. So, yeah, I pretty much owe it to the international community to keep blogging. Plus, I love the idea of a future America populated by Eastern bloc immigrants who sound like deeply sarcastic, slightly neurotic women from New Jersey.

*You fell for that, didn’t you? Again: you are WAY too trusting.

** Okay, a couple of hours. If that.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be … La Jolla

Once my husband and I were at a Mexican restaurant with an English friend. Unfamiliar with several of the menu items, he asked the waitress what “fah-gee-tahs” were. Isn’t it cute how he mispronounced “fajitas”? We all thought so! Once we finished laughing, our friend told us how he’d amused Californians by mentioning La Joe-La, an affluent seaside community on the north side of San Diego. Of course we laughed at that as well.

Free tip for Brits, Aussies, Scots, Irish: In America, you can say pretty much anything and we will think you are either clever or adorable or both. (Sorry, Canadians: your accents are too close to ours.) Sadly, the reverse does not apply, plus you get points taken away if you sound like you’re from the New York area.

So first, a pronunciation guide and definition: La Jolla, pronounced “La Hoya,” is a Spanish phrase that means “you can’t possibly afford to live here.” But it sure is pretty.

Over the Thanksgiving break, my family headed down to La Jolla to visit UC San Diego and The University of San Diego, which I’ll write about some other Tuesday. (I don’t travel much; I need to drag things out.) We stayed a block from the beach, in a really, really nice hotel within easy walking distance to some really, really nice stores and some really, really nice restaurants. My mother bought some lemon-infused olive oil at an olive oil store. Because La Jolla is the kind of place that has olive oil stores.

Children's Pool (but the only children here are of the seal variety)

Even better, La Jolla has the Pacific Ocean: miles and miles of spectacular coastline. It’s got sea caves, surfers, and seals. Lots and lots of seals. Seals caused quite a bit of controversy a few years back when they took over a beach originally intended for children. La Jolla is the kind of place where seals count as a problem.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. They also say that when you start using cliches like “a picture paints a thousand words,” it’s time to upload some photos and wrap up your blog post. So, enjoy these shots of La Jolla, which is a nice place to visit even if you, like me, can’t afford to live there.

"No Alcohol. No Smoking." Good luck with that.

You know what this is? Me neither.



I'd take up bridge if I could play here.

Song of the Week: “Chanukah in West Virginia” (Scott Simons)

With the exception of The Hallelujah Chorus and the Charlie Brown soundtrack, I loathe Christmas music, partly because most songs are like Katy Perry tunes — fun and catchy the first ten times you hear them, fine for the next twenty to one hundred plays, and irritating thereafter — but mostly because they function as an omnipresent reminder of ALL OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO ACCOMPLISH BY DECEMBER 25, most of which involve spending money on stuff no one really wants.

So. I won’t use this space to promote a Christmas song because we’ve all heard too many of them already. Instead, here’s a fun and heartfelt Chanukah song with a homespun video that I love — it’s like a digital equivalent of the shoe box dioramas we used to make in the days before Michael’s craft stores. Happy Chanukah . . . merry almost-Christmas . . . and a joyous new year to all.

“Chanukah in West Virginia,” Scott Simons