29 May 2004

Raising the bar

I've decided that my new standard for a terrific website (or at least consistently compelling content) is that, when I am going through the archives to read all your previous piles of insight and fun, I forget to blink and my contact lens spontaneously pops out.

Now that's entertainment.

28 May 2004

Welcome holiday travelers

I rule, and here's why.

Today is the beginning of Memorial Day weekend on Cape Cod. Yes, it's Memorial Day weekend everywhere, but specifically on Cape Cod. This marks the beginning of the Big Crazy, and there will, as always, be multi-mile back-ups of cars at both bridges, all weekend long, wild traffic snarls on Cape, and hordes of confused drivers cursing as they fail to navigate the rotaries with aplomb.

The T-Shirt shops on the sleazier stretches of Route 28 in Yarmouth and Route 6 in Eastham will be open, the fried clam strips with onion rings fries and cole slaw please will be ruining somebody's circulatory system, and the traffic cops will be ticketing anyone with a Rhode Island license plate.

And here's a word to the wise: they really really really do mean 40 mph on Route 6 in Eastham.

Ever since leaving grad school about 5 million years ago, I have spent Memorial Day weekend slaving away in some restaurant, usually literally over a hot grill -- and not the good kind where you're outside, sipping beer and playing horseshoes.

Not this year.

This year, the beginning of Memorial Day weekend has been marked by the arrival of my very first payment for freelance work. I am officially a professional freelancer, and therefore officially not working in a kitchen this summer.

Sorry, tourists (whoops, "seasonal guests"), but your medium-rare strip steak will just have to be grilled to perfection (and then re-grilled, when you send it back, because you really meant to say medium-well, you meat-hating philistine) by some other chick.

I will be busy blowing a significant portion of my shiny new income at the Beachcomber, grooving to Dick Dale tunes, and slurping down littlenecks at the raw bar.


OK, snarky gloating episode over. Gotta go. It's my turn in the horseshoe pit.

25 May 2004

Paging Cleavon Little

Last night I made the alarming discovery that my husband, whom I have known for almost ten years, had never seen The Princess Bride.

Shocked, I tell you... shocked.

Especially because both my best "Maid" (snort) and his awesome cousin BOTH quoted the movie extensively when toasting us at our wedding. I recoil at the hypocrisy involved in smiling and nodding and raising a glass to filmic references that mean nothing to you. At Your Wedding. Damn.

So of course I set about rectifying the situation immediately. I found my old copy of the video tape, marveled in a kind of stoner fashion at the analogue-ness of an actual Video Tape (bizarre!), and fired that baby up.

Not surpisingly, the movie doesn't hold quite the same charm as it did when I was a swooning, romance-obsessed teenager. And whenever I looked at Robin Wright, I couldn't help trying to send her telepathic messages back in time, along the lines of "Sean Penn is an evil genius, don't marry him!!!"

Matt really liked the scene with Miracle Max and the fabulous Carol Kane. Also the Fezzik/Wesley fight scene. And I heard geniunely startled laughter from his side of the couch during such gems of dialogue as "It's possible, Pig," and "you warthog-faced buffoon..."

Next up, I think it's time to check in on Blazing Saddles, and see how well that piece of comedic genius stands the test of time. If only for the Lili Von Whatsis stage number, which, when I was sixteen, I thought was the best thing I'd ever seen.

18 May 2004


I've been cruising about all day, walking my walk and talking my talk, and I am finally almost ready to give in to the nap fairies. No idea why I'm so tired. Could be the humidity, or the lovely soothing rain I woke up to this morning. It's just felt like a sweatpants kind of day all day.

Guess what I'm wearing. Go ahead, guess.

I was a good pup today -- did all sorts of onerous tasks that I'd been putting off. Paid my brother back the money I owe him, which involved driving a half-hour to a great coffee shop near his house. He's a sweet guy, but he always looks at me like he's trying to figure out what happened to his little sister. Tiresome. But sweet. And he had some great honeymoon photos to show me.

Did the dishes, vacuumed, hand-washed delicates in the sink. Made a haircut appointment.

I also wrote letters and emails to people who owe me either money or responses or at least the time of day. One emailed me right back with lots of tasty cheerful good news and an invitation to visit her in New York City. This made me excited, and also made me want a sandwich.

Sandwich in hand, I went to the beach to eat it while staring out to sea, but decided we would all (by which I mean greater humanity, of course) be better served if I put off the sandwich for an hour and instead walked the two miles of this gorgeous expanse of town-owned ocean-front property.

I only ogled the windsurfers a little.

I ogled the lone surfcaster in hip waders a lot (he had a really nice cast...)

I picked up a few shells (sailors' toenails, mostly), and then I laid face-down on the rocks of the jetty and trailed my hand in the current to feel how strong it was. Strong.

I also picked up a fair bit of trash that ignorant folks had thoughtlessly left on the beach, but I also found the bottom half of a bikini swimsuit, which I thoughtfully hung high on one of the lifeguard chairs, in case she came back for it. I'm a helpful gal.

...had a brief chat with the Mass Audubon guy who was checking on the birdie nests (piping plovers, no doubt) in the beach grass. Lotta coyotes this year, and they do love little birdie nests. Cats, too.

Then I came home and had a great long chat with my best friend, who is also a freelancer (journalist), and she calmed my fears somewhat about how long one can reasonably wait to get paid (a long time, but it's really nothing personal). Then we ranted and raged about how long it takes anyway.

Now I need to wash the salt off the outside of me in the shower, and wash the salt off of the inside of me with a cold beer.

Then I will lay my head down...

15 May 2004

so gay

Well, here it comes. This Monday, the media masses will converge on our neighbor Provincetown, to document the first legal gay marriages in the state. OK, in the country. Not civil unions, none of that separate-but-equal crap. Marriage.

I'm so there.

P-Town is always a bit of a carnival in the warmer months (you should see it in the colder months -- full of hard-drinking out-of-work fishermen playing pool and reeling down Commercial Street in paint-splattered jeans and Carhart jackets -- fabulous in their own, irony-free way) but this frenzy promises to top any recent spectacle.

The good news is that that wack job who occasionally pops up in P-Town to randomly harangue against gayness has decided to picket in Cambridge this time around. I'm sure some lesser, substitute wack jobs will show up, spouting some blather about God having created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve (huh?)... but in general I expect it will be a good ol' love-fest.

I mean, really, who can be against this? God forbid people be encouraged to form long-lasting, monogamous relationships, and to celebrate them with the approval of their community. Oh yeah, and the legal benefits of marriage don't exactly suck either.

As I said, I am so there, and I will report back from the front lines of Commercial Street for your reading pleasure.

This might even call for pictures to be posted...

13 May 2004


My all-time favorite restaurant on the Cape is advertising for a sous chef. This is a great, high-end joint, only about two miles from my house. Call me conceited, but I could get the job if I applied for it.

Now, dammit, do I want it? I'm still waiting on payment from the copyediting jobs I've done. So I guess I'm a little lacking in the confidence sector there. I mean, did I suck that much? That I don't even get paid?? Or is this just the usual time lag on getting paid as a freelancer?

Christ almighty, I don't want to work in a kitchen again. But I feel almost obligated to, since the money isn't exactly rolling in, and who knows when I'll get my next freelance job?

On the other hand, I'm afraid that if I start working as a cook again full-time I won't have the time and/or energy to pursue editing for real. dammit.

dammit. dammit.

09 May 2004


So we made our semi-annual pilgrimage back to Syracuse (or, as my husband calls it, Syra-ma-cuse) last week. Naturally, we packed as much fun and friends as we possibly could into the space of two and a half days -- even spent one night visiting our old favorite haunts, drinking and dancing and cavorting shamelessly -- good god, the cavorting...

Other, tamer pursuits were pursued as well... we visited with Matt's parents, which was nice (I love them), saw Matt's uncle and aunt from San Francisco, which was eerie (Uncle is a vivid image of Matt, 30 years from now), attended his (our) niece's third birthday party (she's adorable, natch), which was exhausting.

Then, when we returned home in our zippy little rental car, we discovered that my Dad had gone over and above the call of the cat-sitting he had agreed to do... the front porch light was replaced (a brand new light fixture, updated wiring -- we're not just talking a replaced light bulb here), and he had taken all our trash and lawn refuse to the dump (our dump sticker expired last week, and we needed that hundred bucks for other things), and he had cleaned out the fridge (ohmigod), and he had cleaned out the kitty litter box (wow). Yay Dad!

What is odd, and very very ungrateful of me, is that all this cleaning and trash-removing (and the lack of our all-too-human presences for a few days) has made our house smell, um, like someone else's. Someone nice. Someone clean. Someone with a steady job, and regularly scheduled laundry-related activities.

So tonight I am lounging -- lounging intently, lounging prodigiously, lounging with a vengeance. I am making sure to spend equal amounts of time in each room, exuding. I am cooking red beans and rice with cajun spices for dinner, baking cranberry scones for breakfast, and simmering a triple-batch of chicken stock for later. I am spilling red wine on the hardwood floors, eating cheese and crackers, and encouraging the cats to shed.

That new front porch light, though, that's pretty neat. That can stay.

05 May 2004

vaster than empires and more slow

We've been having tons of people working on various elements of the house lately, in our naive quest for a garden. Yesterday, it was nubile young lads on ladders (ladder lads!), cleaning out our gutters, clearing away leaves and dead branches from the ground all around the house, and even toppling and hauling away one tall tree that was deemed diseased. Next step, the laying down of the topsoil, which will probably be next week.

Today, in a non-garden-related event, it was Wally the Surly Plumber, who seemed only to succeed in making the toilet fill more loudly, and more slow. Thanks Wally!

(less Wally! more Ladder Lads!)

(what do we want? Ladder lads! When do we want 'em? Now!!)

And... yesterday was town meeting in our wee New England burg. I'm a big geek about town meeting. I get there early, collect flyers from all the politicians lined up out front, grill them about their positions on hot-button items (how about increasing that library budget? and continuing to fund the dental clinic in town? and how come I have to pay for a second dump sticker?), collect as many free, energySmart light bulbs as I can get away with, try and sneak down the hall of the middle school meeting is held in, to sneak a peek at the photo of my 8th grade graduating class and whisper a fervent prayer of thanksgiving that those days are long long past;

Then I wander around, looking for the seating area with the highest concentration of cranky loudmouths in it, helpfully identified by all the oversized buttons on their shirts, saying things like "YES on 22B!" or "I heart Proposition 2 1/2!" (You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. True-Life Stories of Town Meeting Buttons!)

This particular town meeting was fun because we were voting on the Resolution to Give Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft The Finger (a.k.a. a non-binding resolution to defy the so-called Patriot Act). I live in a rather conservative town, filled with wealthy retirees. I was prepared to represent (yeah boyee) and agitate, but never expected the resolution to pass.

Many people spoke, for and against the resolution, one of whom was my old high school History teacher. He waved his copy of the Bill of Rights, spoke of the internment of Japanese Americans, McCarthyism, the Alien and Sedition Acts... (yeah, he's dreamy...) A local newspaper columnist, a retired military guy, spoke and told us we were being silly, that it was "much ado over nothing". I noticed the clerk had typed "adieu to nothing" (the record is typed into a computer, and the text is shown on a projector screen next to the stage). Nothing, I will say Good Day to you! Take that, Sartre!

Finally some old crank (and I mean that in the best, and most respectful sense -- I look forward to being an old crank at town meeting myself someday) motioned for an end to debate, and we voted by voice. It was impossible to tell if the yays or the nays had it, so we voted by holding up our cute little tags stamped by the Town Clerk.

263 (for) and 232 (against), baby. Read em and weep. Here's to all the losers who left early, after the hotly contentious debate over dog licenses and kennel fees a half-hour ago.

Never. Ever. Leave the ball game early. The team can always come back in the ninth.

I Heart Participatory Democracy!

01 May 2004


Two years ago today, we moved here from New York -- back into this tiniest of cottages that my grandfather and grandmother bought, new, in the fifties, and moved into with my father, his brother and his sister. My grandfather had retired from the Boston police force many years before. He had been one of the first to respond to the Coconut Grove fire -- a nightclub fire that killed hundreds, while the unlucky patrons stacked up behind the immovable revolving door that was the only exit. My grandfather, traumatized and grieving, commenced to drinking heavily, and was granted early retirement.

When they moved to this house on Cape Cod, my grandmother immersed herself in activism and politics, often hosting meetings of the local Democratic party here. She, along with her family, was doubly in the minority here at mid-century, being both Democrats and Catholic. She died a few months before I was born.

My aunt slept in what is now my bedroom throughout her high school years. Not long after I moved back here, I found her initials carved into the wood of the tongue-and-groove-paneled wall: A.M + ?

She ended up marrying a very nice man, a dark and handsome Greek man. At my brother's wedding last fall, I told her about the initials, and she denied any knowledge of the carving, blushing.

My father's brother died shortly after finishing high school, in a car accident. He might have been on a motorcycle, or in a jeep, I'm not sure. He isn't spoken of very often.

My father finished high school here, joined the Navy, then returned to the Cape, where he met my mother and married her. I think he lived in this house while they were dating. About 10 or so years into their marriage, his father died, leaving Dad to inherit the house. It wasn't long after that that my parents divorced, and he moved back here by himself. My two brothers and I would visit him here sometimes, for our weekends together.

Dad has been living with his partner, a lovely, sparkling woman, for many years -- in her house, the next town over. He'd let certain friends of his live here for brief periods of time, but was reluctant to rent to strangers. Sometime during college, I started using the house on my short, annual trips home. My three closest friends and I spent Senior Week here, just before college graduation -- some of the shells we collected are still on the mantel.

And when it became clear that my boyfriend and I would have to sell our business in Syracuse, and desperately wanted a fresh start, my father invited us to move in here for as long as we liked. i hadn't lived on Cape Cod since i was eighteen, and off to school.

I'm planting a garden this spring, something I've never done before. As far as I can tell, nobody ever planted anything in our yard intentionally, except for the daffodils my grandmother planted next to the house, which are blooming this week. I can see a great expanse of water -- a broad river, from the front of the house, although that view will be temporarily obscured in the summertime, when all the trees are in leaf. We're on a quiet road that only runs for about 200 yards. There's room for an addition on the west side, if we ever can afford it.

Now, I can't imagine living anywhere else.