27 December 2005

It's a towel... for the floor!

I hope everyone else had a holiday weekend as mellow and nice as mine was. It's amazing how peaceful life can be when you give in to your basic misanthropic feelings, pull the shades, and turn off the phone.

My husband and I are both happiest at home, lounging around and variously reading or playing video games according to our tastes, so it's not surprizing that we both gave gifts with a sort of Home Spa theme. I gave him all sorts of fun toys for the bath, including a shower cap with bees on it, a vat of bubble bath, and some squeaky toys. The first present I opened from him was a bathmat, the perfect size and the most wonderful shade of green.

To truly understand my joy about this gift, you would have to be privy to some seriously intimate knowledge of our relationship, and you would have had to have listened to the Holiday Spectacular of This American Life over the weekend. Or just be David Sedaris. In which case I am seriously freaked out that you are reading this.

Freaked out in a pleasant way, though, like in the way that Frank Zappa meant when he said freaked out. And with all of the groupie-ness that implies.

Wow. I wonder if anyone ever throws underwear at David Sedaris at his readings?

Other notable gifts were trinkets for my new office, since I will have my own office with a door you can shut and a dedicated phone line for the first time since grad school, which was literally a decade ago. I realized about a week ago that I was entering the land of the desk decorations, and started fixating on what one needs to personalize one's office space with. I've been working in such totally non-office work spaces for so long (show line at a fancy restaurant, live-music nightclub, a children's theatre, the spare bedroom) that I have absolutely no idea what the standards are anymore.

Do people still put pictures of loved ones on their desks? Inspiring bits of poetry on the dry-erase board? Little mementos of past triumphs?

When I was in grad school I used to have whatever bits of Shakespeare or Keats were running through my head that week on the dry-erase board in my office, which was maybe a tip-off that I wasn't wholeheartedly invested in becoming a geologist. My advisor pointed that out when I asked her if there were any good courses available in Early American Poetry next semester, when she was hoping I would maybe take some more Radiometric Geochemistry.

I started working at the nightclub shortly after that conversation.

So I got a few Doo-Dads for the Serious Young Professional this Christmas, and this, which is perhaps more of a give-away of my true proclivities than the pen set and mousepad.

The only drag about the weekend was that I woke up Sunday morning with my eyeball on fire, seriously considering going to the emergency room. I had some eyedrops left over from my last eye infection not long ago, so I emptied half the bottle into my sore eye and felt better after a few excruciating hours of searing eyeball pain. That night I realized that my right eye had become noticeably more nearsighted during the ordeal, so I suddenly need new glasses and contacts. Gah. Why am I always breaking all over?

23 December 2005

Don't make me go out there again

Last minute shopping. Why?!

It started off very well, going to a local lavender farm that has a gift shop with nifty gifts you can buy on the honor system, which was pretty much the perfect shopping environment. Just me, by myself, in a lovely old shed redolent of lavender, picking out little soaps and things. Then I checked myself out (woo!) by writing down my purchases in their little sales register book, tallying it all up with their little calculator, and putting my money in the cash box. Splendid. There were even nice bags to put my stuff in.

So peaceful. So civilized. Emboldened, I headed out for town. I had to pick up a couple of small gifts I had forgotten I needed, since I had forgotten that my brother, single for lo these thirty-seven years, now suddenly has a girlfriend with two small children. Oh, curse you people with your growing families.

So I picked out some nice puzzles and books (I buy semi-educational gifts for kids, always, and I NEVER gender-theme gifts. Gad. Zooks. No.) and got some nice wrapping for the putting in. My last stop was the grocery store, which was of course a mob scene, but I was interested to find that virtually all the patrons I came across in the aisles had that grim sense of we're all miserable together type of forbearance, and any grumpiness was pretty much tamped down. I had a bit of a hassle at the self-serve register, but the loveliest gal was right behind me in line, patient throughout, and she even wished me a nice holiday when I bagged up and departed. Nice person.

So why am I so frustrated and grumpy? Is it because I have now spent my entire paycheck on the day I received it? Is it because I haven't yet told my mother I have no intention of going to church this year? Is it, in fact, because I received my mother's card today, on which she had ostentatiously crossed out the pre-printed "Happy Holidays" and written in "Merry Christmas"???

H'm... perhaps that's it.

Why? Why? Why?

One can only assume that she bought these cards herself! And that she had every opportunity to pick out cards that mentioned the holiday of her choice on them! Did she knowingly pick out secular cards so that she could write in "Christmas!", and make some sort of War On Christmas point? Mom is pretty much all about teh Jesus, and she has a tenuous grasp on social skills as it is, so I really can't rule it out.

When I got home I showed this card to my husband, who is Jewish, without comment. He read it, rolled his eyes, and said Well, Christy Christ Christ to you too, Mom.

*** Edit***
In the interest of furthering not only the proper holiday spirit, but also a brilliant radio show, check this out.

20 December 2005

The thing with feathers

The Grinch has apparently stolen all the Christmas trees, this time before they even got into people's houses, hung and strung and jammed underneath with presents. Good thing I don't have room for a tree in my wee cottage anyway.

I usually do this, wait until the last week before Christmas to decorate. It isn't that I'm too busy, necessarily, or that I need to wait until the prices go down, although that is certainly a delightful side effect. I'm pretty sure it dates back to my upbringing as a strict Episcopalian. I bet you didn't know there was such a thing, except as it applied to the daily required intake of sherry, what-what old chap?

There is such a thing, and my mother is it, God love her. Strict Episcopalianism involves paying a great deal of attention to the liturgical year. This mostly translates into what color to wear during the coffee hour after church, since each season has an assigned, appropriate color. It's really only supposed to be for the altar vestments and those wacky folks up on stage, but everyone likes to get in on the act and wear the team colors, as it were.

You get to wear green all summer long, because that's Pentecost, a period of time that goes on and on forever without any interesting readings from scripture or Events in the Life of Jesus to celebrate. If you ever wondered when they ever got around to reading all of those "begats" in the Bible, it's during Pentecost. This is when all the priests take vacations and go fishing with their spouses. Episcopalian priests are allowed to have a wife or be a wife, if they so choose. It's all quite up to the individual, which I think is damned civilized.

There's some sort of bloodless battle over whether one should wear purple or red during Passion week, the week before Easter, but I try not to get involved. Choirs have been broken up over less.

One quirky side effect of all this strict adherence to the church calendar is that one realizes that it is not Christmas until it is, well, Christmas. The four weeks prior to the blessed day itself are collectively known as Advent. During Advent one sings Advent carols, such as O Come O Come Emmanuel, not Christmas carols, such as O Little Town of Bethlehem. Advent is a time for preparing oneself for Christmas, but you are not supposed to act as if you know what is going to happen. It's like Christmas is a surprise party we have every single year at the same time. And at the same person's house.

So I tend not to decorate until it's just about Christmas, because until then, it's just Advent, which is mostly celebrated by humming Advent carols and munching on the stale chocolate found in cheap, imported Advent calendars. Why is the chocolate always awful in those things?

I am also more of a pagan with a serious Zen meditation habit these days than an Episcopalian, and so I feel less burdened to follow most elements of the liturgical year. But since so much of the liturgical year is lifted directly out of old pagan traditions, I am mostly down with it anyway.

So today I hauled in my twelve feet (for the twelve days of Christmas) of evergreen garland and a nice, big, fir bough wreath, set some nice little votives in and among the branches, being very careful not to set fire to anything, stuck in a few of the cards we've received from our friends this year, and hung the wreath over the fireplace.

Then I lit a whole extravagant mess of sandalwood incense, the kind we used at the Zendo in New York where I learned to meditate, and thought for a while about the sun gradually returning by degrees, the days finally getting longer and lighter. I like the feeling that I am keeping at least a little bit of green life inside, warm and safe, during this coldest and darkest time, so that if the worst happens and all else is blighted, not all is lost.


Lighthouse Wreath


And because I am my mother's daughter, it will all come down, like clockwork, on Epiphany. Now if only I could find a good performance of Twelfth Night somewhere nearby.

18 December 2005


Last week I spent a couple of pleasant evenings working on a scarf for a friend of mine, made out of soft, furry purple angora-blend yarn and some silver iridescent eyelash yarn. Sounds like a fright, you say? Correct.

So I frogged it just now, entertaining the kittens to no end -- sparkly eyelash yarn is now their best friend -- and started knitting a scarf with just the purple yarn, ripped it out after a couple of rows, started it again in a new stitch pattern, ripped it again and threw the yarn across the room.

I hate this yarn. I want a divorce.

It is entirely repulsive to me now. I have no idea what I saw in it in the first place. I find its presence in my closet to be passive-aggressive, almost sinister. It exists to prove my bad judgement, my poor taste, my rash decision-making.

The color is brash and unsubtle. The fuzziness is tawdry. No possible stitch pattern could redeem this yarn. I am, however, considering turning it into a tiny pocket creature like this. With the silver iridescent eyelash as the hair.

In absolutely unrelated news to my foul mood and irritability, my husband just left for his radio show. He has a little book that he writes down all of his song titles in as he plays them, and can never look for this book until he is running late. Back when he had a car that was reliable, he just left it in his car. Along with six month's worth of food wrappers, dirty coffee cups, newspapers, and ATM receipts.

Now that he uses my fabulous new car, I struggle to keep the interior clean. I do not leave shit in the car. Not a thing. I consider this a slippery slope, a matter of principle. So, on Monday mornings, when I get back in the car after he has driven it to the radio station and back in the middle of the night, I empty it of his debris.

Now he wants to know where his book is.

I tell him where I put it when I cleaned out the car last week. It's not there now. He is late. I tell him to take his notes on scrap paper, he can transcribe it to the book later.

In a fit of getting-the-last-word-in, he says, as he swings the door shut behind him, I don't see how my little book is ruining your car.

Your little book does not ruin my car. One little ATM receipt also does not ruin my car. But I know what will happen: I have been here before.

I buy a nice shiny new car, resolve to keep it clean this time. After a week or so, you spill coffee all over the dash and do not clean it up. The dash is now sticky and gross, and it is not my fault. I do not wipe it up, which is admittedly my bad. Having gotten your dirty little foot wedged in the door, however, it is only a matter of days before there is a change of clothes, five empty coffee cups, and a half-empty bag of Doritos in the back of my car.

You do not get to leave your book in my car because it is not just a book. It is the opening, the tiny hole in the dike, the hairline fracture in the dam.

You do not get to leave your book in my car because we live in a tiny house the size of a postage stamp and are therefore in each other's earholes with each other's stuff. There is no corner of the house that is entirely mine, and you are a tornado, spewing your personal effects wherever you touch down. This is my car, and I get to decide how it is kept.

You do not get to leave your book in my car because you are not in the house for two minutes without dropping a pair of dirty socks in the kitchen, your belt in the living room, your pants in the bathroom.

You do not get to keep your book in my car because that is not where it goes. The lid goes on the sugar jar, not beside it, dirty dishes go in the sink, not where you ate off them, and the book does not go in my car.

You do not get to leave your book in my car because it is my car, dammit. You have a car. It is a piece of crap. It is already over for your car. My car is in the prime of its youth, unspoiled and clean. There is no reason to hasten its demise.

And now you really don't get to keep your book in my car because you have now made this An Issue: evidence of my inflexibility, my tenuous hold on sanity, my lack of cool.

Well, suck it up. It doesn't go in my damn car.

17 December 2005

Lane marker

I gave myself an early Christmas present yesterday and bought a membership at the Y. I've been dying to start swimming laps again, something I did a bit obsessively in college. I am generally obsessive about all that I do, really. And the thing that was killing me was that I had a relatively new racing suit languishing in my sock drawer at home, having bought it a few years ago on a whim. And I also still own a very nice, rather expensive pair of goggles with prescription lenses in them, so that I don't bump into the sides of the pool, as I am blind as the proverbial moonbat without my contacts or glasses.

This isn't one of those New Year resolutions to get fit or anything, screw resolutions. It just so happens that the timing is finally right, and I finally have the money, and the Y is right off the highway. I'll be seeing a fair bit more of the highway in days to come, what with the new commute and all.

(Oh, did I mention? I got the job. Wheeeee!)

And so, I will swim laps, sometimes in the early mornings before work, sometimes in the late afternoons after work, perhaps the occasional lunch hour dip, depending on how hard it is to get a lane to myself in this pool.

I wonder how hilariously out of shape I am, how many laps I'll be able to complete without clinging dazedly to the side of the pool and wondering if it would be easier to swim if I shaved my legs more often. The last time I tried to get back into swimming I was smoking an insane number of cigarettes daily and working in a nightclub. That didn't go so well. There's a law, I think, that if you work in a nightclub, you aren't allowed to have any healthy habits. Even bouncers aren't really supposed to work out to get all big and strong and surly; it's best if they are just born that way.

At least I don't smoke any more. That at least gives me a fighting chance in the pool.

And how out of shape I am really doesn't concern me too much, either. I used to be all, ooh, I have to lose some weight before I can get back into a suit. But -- I don't know if it's age, or wisdom, or apathy -- I've reached the point where I honestly don't give a damn what anyone else thinks about me in a swimsuit. I want to swim, dammit.

And I have these really cool goggles!

13 December 2005

Lighten up, Francis

I was at the store the other day getting my daily fix of this tasty beverage and not much else, maybe a magazine. Two 2-liter bottles and a magazine. It was after the dinner hour, so the place was pretty deserted, but it wasn't so late that they had already closed down the self-serve registers, so I headed for the nearest one of those so I could zip in and zip out.


I had a sense of forboding as soon as I got in line behind this chick who was just finishing paying. She seemed, how shall I say, highly strung. I hung back a bit, giving her some space while she started bagging her not-small pile of groceries, and then I stepped up to the scanner in as non-threatening a way as I could muster.

I scanned my two bottles of soda and sent them merrily on their way down the belt. As the first bottle neared her pile of unbagged groceries, the highly strung lady did a remarkable thing: she suddenly flung her upper body across the conveyor belt... in what could only be interpreted as a desperate attempt to protect her groceries from any befouling contact with mine.

Arms outstretched, feet off the floor, her body weight balanced on her torso, lying across the side of the check-out counter, she glared at me as I helpfully tried to hand her the sturdy plastic bar they have velcroed to the side for just this purpose: to separate people's orders. Trying to reassure her that our items wouldn't get all confused together, I smiled and said something like,

It's OK, I only have these three things, I'll be out of here in a moment...

Her glare grew incredulous, as I clearly didn't appreciate the gravity of the situation.

MY BERRIES!!! She gritted through her teeth. YOU'RE CRUSHING MY BERRIES!!!

I looked down, and sure enough, there -- getting profoundly squashed under her allegedly protective torso, I might add -- were two little plastic-wrapped pints of raspberries.

First of all, who buys raspberries in December? And then expects them to taste like anything approaching raspberries?

Second, it ain't my bottles of sparkly water that are endangering your precious berries, ma'am, it's your own flailing limbs.

And finally, lady, lighten up. I'm guessing everything you cook, including your famous raspberry strudel or whatever the hell it is, tastes overwhelmingly of stress, anger and fear. And that probably tastes even worse than the Unhappy Marriage Upside Down Cake my aunt used to make.

08 December 2005

Buried lede

I have spent WAY too much on yarn and needles since I took up knitting a couple of months ago, but because it's the holiday season I am able to justify it all as "gift expenses." As if I ever spend this much money on anyone I'm not currently sleeping with. Or hoping to. Wait, I'm married. Never mind that last bit.

So everyone is getting knitted things this year, and they better like it. Because it wasn't that long ago that I had to fall back on the old standby of giving "gift certificates" for me to come over and cook a nice dinner, weed your garden, wash your windows -- basically debase myself and be utterly servile in order to wash away the shame of not being able to afford presents.

I've actually become pretty good at this knitting thing in such a short period of time. I'm mean, I'm not setting the world on fire, but I'm at least adventurous and willing to experiment. Wait, when did this become a personal ad?

I stayed in Scarfland for only about two weeks, then I discovered hats and mittens, then I realized that everything would look much better if I knitted it with much smaller needles, so my gauge has gotten progessively smaller and smaller with each project. The last hat I knit has been widely assumed to have been store-bought, which is of course high praise.

I have only recently attempted to tame the Power of the Sock, a quest that has caused my first real moments of teary-eyed frustration so far. Some idiot convinced me to jump right into the Magic Loop method, which I think was designed to make you cry, and I have no idea why I listen to yarn shop bullies. But Yarn Shop Bullies would make a good band name.

But wrassling with socks is doing a good job of distracting me from today's very distracting news that I might actually get my wish for a megafuckingbrilliant job. Keep those fingers crossed, and maybe I'll reward you with some naughty knitted knickers. oooh yeah.

05 December 2005

The old Cross house

I grew up in a crumbling old Victorian house, in a neighborhood of crumbling old Victorian houses. At the time, ours was no more falling-down that the rest -- this was the seventies and none of the families had the wherewithal to gentrify anything yet, least of all this gang of old sea captains' houses clustered around the cove. But the house that the Cross family lived in was particularly nice.

It had a garrett -- a round, pointed turret sticking off of one side of the house -- and, like most bookish young girls, I thought that having a garrett in which I could retreat and read and write and enjoy Dickensonian solitude was the answer to all my problems. When I finally got invited to play in that garrett, it was full of dress-up clothes for little girls; princess gowns and tiaras and fairy wands instead of shelves of books and a writing desk and scones wrapped up in linen handkerchiefs for nibbling on. It was someone's fantasy hideaway, but not mine.

The Cross family was like the Brady Bunch to me; the parents were young and attractive and frequently kissed, and the three kids were well turned out individuals as well. They were culturally hip and current and watched the Monkees and Little House on the Prairie while we watched the Gong Show and old Danny Kaye movies over and over again. The kids called their parents by their first names, Joanne and Gary.

I remember the youngest girl, when she was about five, watching me as I stood over my bike, stradling the crossbar of my girls' Schwinn three-speed. She told me, loudly so that everyone could hear, that I would "hurt my vagina" that way. There were boys nearby, including her brother and mine. My mother was a nurse, and had taught us all the anatomical names for such in things, but hadn't forgotten the manners portion of the lesson. I knew I had one, but it never would have occurred to me to discuss someone else's with them.

They didn't trust doctors; they went to a chiropractor, which my mother the nurse strongly disapporoved of. To this day she looks down her nose at chiropractors and thinks of them as hippie fake doctors, and I can tell she is thinking of the Cross family when she wrinkles her nose at the mention of a bone doctor.

I noticed at Thanksgiving that the old Cross house was being gutted and turned into a bed and breakfast. The house has aged beautifully, over the years acquiring gingerbreading along the trim and a rolling, elegant garden out front. Meanwhile, our house has turned into the haunted house of the neighborhood, the roof caving in, ivy growing through the windows, my brother's creepy statuary in the side yard.

I asked my mother about the Cross house, which she remembers by a different name, the name of the family that lived there when she was a kid. The original sea captain was a Baker, she says, which would make it part of our family. I think my mother still thinks our family owns half the cove and sails the seas in search of whale oil. For that matter, I think I do, too.

Now it will be called something else by the kids in the neighborhood, just like none of those kids know now that the house with the sledding hill on it was my great-great-grandfather's, just two doors down from the Cross house, and that it is properly called The Old House, as it predates those bourgeous sea captains' houses by a good hundred years.

I wish someone would turn my mother's house into a bed and breakfast, and rescue the beautiful marquetry floors and mohagany secretaries filled with blown eggs and little brass bells. Someone should stop the ivy from climbing in to my old bedroom through the windows, revive the garden, wallpaper the hall. It has become the neighborhood embarrassment, the place to avert your eyes from, the house not to go trick-or-treating at.

This house, among all the houses built by seafarers, was built by the widow of a whaling captain, not by the captain himself. It's less pretty, less of a showcase. More of a place to stay home in than a place to dream of in far-off places. And when they finish renovating the old Cross house, my mother's house will sink down into the ground a little more, as it becomes increasingly shamed by its surroundings, and its failure to keep up with the times and retain its youthful charm.

02 December 2005

Post-it notes of Sodom

Man, I have tried five times to write about something other than work tonight and each and every story turns into a work story, so I delete it and start over. It's all good, they're happy, funny stories, and I love my work, but I'm pretty tetchy about discussing work too specifically here.

But apparently it's all I can think about right now! Work! And the possibility of it being awesome!

What do other people do at times like this, when they are stumped for wry, insightful stories to tell? Oh, I know, I can post pictures of my cat:



Satchel, still possessed

OK, nevermind, there's one story I think I can tell.

I was on the phone today with someone who I know is a vocal activist of the super-ultra-right-wing stripe, someone who is vehemently against just about everything I think is true and good. Like my right to not have to submit to the will of my husband as my lord and master. Like the right of my lesbian best friend to get married, never mind the right for her not to be considered a vile sinner in the Eyes of Gawd. Like the right to determine for myself whether or not I want to have a kid. Like the free exchange of good, honest porn. Really. This guy is a real Falwell.

Which reminds me, you should totally read this.

And I couldn't help but think, as I took down his message, about how much he thinks I am wrong, wrong, unholy and wrong, and am going to hell hell hell. Like I've been in the real-life version of every single room of those Fundy Christian "House of Horrors" they have at Halloween, and LIKED it.

Which, of course, I have.

Of course I didn't declare myself, didn't interrupt our perfectly innocuous conversation to let him know that I am totally a commie pinko queer leftist. I may be evil, but I am a professional, for crying out loud.

But I did try to think particularly perverse thoughts while I took down his number, and then I doodled lesbian symbols and pentagrams next to his name.

Then I transferred the information to a fresh post-it note, sans doodles, and went on with my day.

30 November 2005


This is me not writing about my potentially new, potentially absolutely brilliant new job.

This is me not jinxing it.

This is you crossing your fingers for me until further notice.

Cross your toes, too. It's that good.

25 November 2005

Just OUT, okay?

Today I woke up all ansty and rebellious and could think of nothing better to do than to go riding around all day in my car. Just around. For hours, all day.

I wonder if this is really why everybody in this country inexplicably goes shopping the day after Thanksgiving, when they KNOW it will suck, when they KNOW it will be hell on earth, from the traffic to the soul-sucking atmosphere of the mall to the angry young mothers body-checking you to get to the last Xbox 360. That it is actually a primal throwback to those first few Thanksgivings at home after we went to college, when suddenly everything about home and family is DRIVING US UP A FRICKING WALL and we have to get OUT just OUT.

Of course I had the good sense to head in the opposite direction of the mall, so I was treated to the surpassing beauty of the outer Cape. I made it all the way to Truro before I turned around, having read something the other day about Provincetown hosting some shopping extravaganza today as well, and wanting avoid those crowds, groovy though they may be. So I noodled around on Truro's backroads, admiring the beauty of the saltmarshes in the late afternoon sun, and reflected on how thoroughly awesome it is to live here.

For now let's agree to forget about the lack of good jobs, friends my age, and any sense of connectedness to whatever is currently hip and trendy out there in the world. This place is fuckin' gorgeous, and I'm thrilled to be here.

And to be honest, I'm thrilled to not be nineteen anymore, and to have to go through that first Thanksgiving at home after going to college. So judgemental! So know-it-all! So disdainful!

And that was just my mother!

Ah, I slay me.

22 November 2005


I am filled with dread at the thought of attending this year's Thanksgiving dinner at my mother's house. I am fearful that the fact that I have been able to dodge this annual bullet by forcing my family to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner will double back on me and this year I will pay, I will pay tenfold, I will pay in spades, I will pay pay pay.

I am the black sheep in my family, in that I am the only one to have chosen to go out into the greater world, go to college, actually rent an apartment from someone other than a family member, take a chance on living in a different geographical region and make a life for myself. I know that the fact that I have recently returned to my hometown to live for the last few years was taken by some in my family as a sign of defeat, somehow as an admission that they were right and I was wrong, that the world across the bridge really isn't so great after all, and what did I go and make all that fuss about.

They are wrong to think this, because I am just about ready to hike up my skirts and take a job in the big bad city, but this is super duper double top secret, so don't whisper a word to anyone, ok internet?

One of the things I learned about out there in the wider world was good food, and how to cook it. Until about two years ago, I made my living by cooking good food for other people. Then my back informed me that those days were over, so I turned to more cerebral pursuits, like editing bodice-ripper romance novels and obscure Chinese scientific monographs. Hey, it beats working.

The rest of my family, with one notable exception, literally wrinkle their noses and make moues of distaste at anything not made out of a box, like if it isn't from a brand name like Kraft or Stove Top then it can't be any good. My brother likes canned cranberry sauce, and always serves it still in the shape of the can -- just like some pop art sculpture, with its well-defined ridge lines and perfect tubular symmetry. My mother, she will only eat instant mashed potatoes. Prefers them to fresh.

You see what I am dealing with here?

This will also be the first time I can't drown my citified sensibilities in liquor, since I quit drinking this past year. Ahhh, the gifts of sobriety -- perfectly functioning senses, un-benumbed-by-liquor taste buds, offering themselves up for sacrifice on the altar of familial love.

But I am a good daughter, and I love my family, so I have just made a nice batch of cranberry sauce to share on Thursday, and it's only a few hours out of my selfish, solpsistic life, and anyway soon, if all goes well, I'll be relocating to the big city and I can indulge my stupid pompous "sensibilities" more often by myself and won't have to act out so shamefully on my poor, unassuming family who are, after all, happy just the way they are.

19 November 2005


I was working an event today with a bunch of awesome kids and their grownups, and there was a lull at one point which found the kids all chortling easily with each other in a corner while we older folk discussed recent movies. Since all the other grownzedup were of the parental variety, most of them had spent the last couple of days going to premieres of the latest Harry Potter.

So we started a serious discussion of the themes and issues explored in the HP series, and what we thought was scarier to kids, the portrayals of death or the embodiments of evil, and also which actors we liked in them. I particularly and enthusiastically ADORE Alan Rickman, and am therefore convinced that Snape is actually NOT a deatheater, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

It was at about this point in the conversation that the cluster of kids sort of started to edge closer to hear what we were talking about, having no doubt heard the magic word "Hogwarts" issue from our lips. I was still propounding my theories of Snape's double-double-agentness, referring to chapter and verse of events in the books. Another woman my age chimed in with a few theories of her own, and I was intrigued, but then saw the flaw, and interjected:

But you see that can't be true, because Harry's birthday is July 30 and that means...

...it was then that I noticed the kids had their jaws agape at my all-surpassing nerdiness and I had to fake a fit of coughing and try to cover by muttering something about Themes and Motifs like a goddamned Lit Major or something.

Imagine if they knew I had this bookmarked.

14 November 2005

Here comes the cavalry

I've been summoned to the western part of the state to help my best friend in the process of recovering from having her house burn down with all her possessions. I hear they have a new apartment that they can move into tomorrow, so I'll be sleeping on my air mattress in it with them starting tomorrow night. This is all very last minute -- I just got the call an hour ago, asking if I could come help, and of course I said yeah and called my boss and told her I'd be taking the week off.

So tonight I gotta do some laundry, because I'd already put that off way too long, and pack up all my necessities. i just made a big batch of chicken stock, so I think I'll make that into turkey-and-brown-rice soup to make their new house smell nice and homey. And because they probably haven't had home-cooked food in over a week.

I think I'll also bring all sorts of crap to put on her shelves, to help make it feel more like home. Ya know? Pictures, doodads, pots and pans. I have eight plates -- I don't really need 'em all. I also have way too many forks. And all that cast iron ware that I never use... and those mixing bowls... and what else? I guess I'll just bring what I can and assess the sitation when I get there. They should be getting their insurance check while I'm out there, so I can help them replace all their furniture and clothes and computers and stuff.

And pour them scotch and tell them jokes and help wash the smell of smoke out of their hair.

Be back at the end of the week.

10 November 2005

Feelin' Irie

I am increasingly bothered by the Red Hat Society. Here on Cape Cod, where the average age is pleistocene at least, there are a lot of these lovely ladies sallying forth in similar garb, festive and often wonderfully rowdy gangs of older women who are standing up for their rights to be non-conformist, wacky old broads and having a ball doing it. The only beef I have is that they are voicing their right to be wacky nonconformists... by all wearing the same color hats and clothes.

It all started because of that rather nice poem by Jenny Joseph that you used to see in dorm rooms, titled Warning, When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple. I am entirely down with the sentiment of this poem, and I'm totally hip to women of any age getting their schwerve on, but it's become this thing where now they have to wear a red hat and purple clothes to show they are wacky. Or, that is the only acceptable form their wackiness takes, which makes it, ipso facto, not wacky.

It's just like any lifestyle uniform, like Goth or Hippie or Preppie or Hip Hop. People advertising their cultural affinities through dress and hairstyle. But if the impulse behind it all is to show your individuality and countercultural elan, why does it then result in massive flocks of identically dressed people wandering around?

In fact, I think the Red Hatters are worse than those other lifestyle clans, because these ladies don't just go about their daily lives dressed in red and purple, they don these special uniforms for sanctioned Red Hat gatherings only. At least practitioners of the Goth, Punk, or Hippie thang venture forth into the greater world flying their freak flag twenty-four-seven. It takes guts, and not a little patience and forbearance.

For instance, my husband has dreads. Pretty long dreads. There are some places in this country where nobody blinks at his hair, like some of the nifty progressive college towns dotting the northeast and elsewhere, but we don't live in one of those hotspots. Instead, he gets asked on a daily basis if they are real, if people can touch them, if he bathes, if they smell, if he smells, what it means. Even worse are the people who don't ask, who are NOT curious, who just assume that their ideas about dreadlocks are true, and act accordingly.

He's been fired from at least one job I know of because some folks were convinced that having dreads meant you didn't bathe, ever, or that it meant he was a drug dealer. Neither of these are true. Having dreads means, um, he has dreads. He showers daily. He is -- how do you say -- a legitimate businessman. He has his reasons for wearing his hair the way he does, and actually they are remarkably similar to those cited by the wonderful Anne Lamott for her decision to go dread.

My point is that he doesn't just put on a dready wig when he's feelin' irie. It's something he lives with every day, and no matter where he goes. Thanksgiving dinner? Dreads. Job interview? Dreads. Grocery store? Dreads. The same is true for those friends I have had of the Goth persuasion -- they wear it all the time. Sure, it's a uniform with its own rules, and often very rigid ones at that. I've heard that the punk movement back in the late 70s had a similar ethos of How To Be Punk. As if there was some sort of method to anarchy. Still, all these folks made a choice to broadcast their worldviews, be it Spooky Alienation, Creepy Malaise, or Anarchic Fuck You-ishness and they go with it. Every day, every where.

I say to the Red Hat Ladies, do it! Be crazy! Get your funk on! Be unruly, disobedient, wacky women of a certain age! But my God! Not just on certain days of the year, when it's safe, and all your friends are around! Read the poem again. Eschew the herd. Choose your own damn adventure.

07 November 2005


Yah so my best friend's house burned down to the ground the other day.

To. The. Ground.

I watched the footage online today, and in the video, the firepersons are streaming water through a waterhose and into an upper level window, a window formerly known as her living room window. If that is unreal for ME to watch, only imagine how she must have felt, standing on the sidewalk, barefoot, and watching it.

I am immobilized by my desire to mobilize and help. Where do you begin? For God's sake, they ran out of the house WITHOUT SHOES ON and so now they have no shoes. For some reason I keep fixating on the fact that she doesn't have a pen. Or paper. For some reason this strikes me as the essence of having lost everything, when you can't even write down the phone number of the Red Cross because you don't even have a pen and paper to your name.

Thank God she had renter's insurance.

I want to send her clothes out of my closet this instant, but she has no mailing address any more. If I went out there to help I would have no place to stay because HER house is where I stay when I go to that town.

Me? I'm fine. I'm finer than frog's hair. You can read about it here. Meantime, I'll be sitting here, immobilized, having my mind utterly boggled by the idea of losing all your possessions in an hour.

29 October 2005

Green Mountains

Well, the weather was just as bad as I feared it would be on our journey to Vermont, but we soldiered on and reached our destination without incident. It was fully snowing by the time we reached Montpelier, and traffic ground entirely to a halt on Route 100 heading into Stowe because of all the fallen trees and downed wires from the heavy snowfall. But I was serenely knitting away, thankful at least that we were no longer whizzing away at warp speed through quarter-mile visibility, so I was probably the least pissed off person in the stopped line of traffic during the hour it took to reach the village from the highway.

The next morning when we woke up the weather was fine, cold and grey and perfect for strolling about and sipping hot yummy beverages by the fire in roadside taverns, and as we are highly suggestible persons we did a fair bit of strolling about and sipping hot yummy beverages in roadside taverns, and then we ate amazing food here and I satisfied my jones for some mind-blowing local goat cheese from here.

Guys, just a reminder here: Vermont is freakin' beautiful. I don't know if you've never been, or you've just forgotten, or what, but seriously, why aren't we all there right now? I'm pretty sure there's plenty of room. I may or may not have further remarks on the subject of the broadening aspects of travel, and the lively debate in our household now about the pros and cons of life by the sea versus life in a certain small progressive college town in the mountains, but in the meantime, enjoy the pretty pictures.

Church Street

24 October 2005

Winter storm watch

We're going off on vacation tomorrow to Stowe, Vermont, and I am, as usual, a bundle of nerves. I have this rare condition that causes me to totally freak out and become insanely stressed when travelling, a situation that doesn't really support the idea I have of myself as a person who loves to travel.

I don't love to travel. I HATE to travel. I love it once I get there, but I am hella lousy at the journey.

So naturally there is a ferocious northeaster bearing down on us, scheduled to arrive exactly during our planned hours of travel. I would say we should wait a few hours and travel after the worst of the storm has passed, but then there's a winter storm warning for the hours following that in Stowe.

Do I sound negative for someone going on vacation?

I am not a negative person. I am, generally, not a worrier. Being in a car under adverse road conditions flips me right the fuck out. I literally white-knuckle it. My boss wonders if there isn't some childhood trauma behind it all.

If I went in for that sort of facile psychological analysis, which I don't, then I would relate this story:


I am nine years old. I am attending my grandfather's wedding in Vermont. My grandmother died just over a year ago, quite young, really, but that's emphysema for you, so Granddad is marrying his old college sweetheart, a woman who will quickly gain fame in our family for her utter awfulness. They are both graduates of Middlebury College, so that is where the wedding is held.

I am pissed that I am not a flower girl.

During the reception, snow falls lushly over the landscape outside. My favorite cousins and I create goofy line dances to the stupid grown-up music, and make gagging noises at the couples who dance clenched together during the slow, mushy love songs. My thick winter tights keep falling past my waistline, and I repeatedly yank them back up every few minutes, thinking no one can see.

When it is time to go my cousins and I are having so much fun together that my mother and my aunt and uncle decide to scatter the children according to their tastes for the ride back to the Cape -- my cousins and I will go with my mother, and my brothers, older and bored with me and my younger girl-cousins, will travel with our aunt and uncle.

My mother drives an old Ford Camp-O-Van, almost an RV really, with the cushions in the back folded down to form a big communal bed, and we romp and squeal back there for a while until my mother asks us tensely to please keep it down. I notice that it is snowing quite heavily now, and that my mother has assumed her "concentrating on driving" pose, her hands clenched close together at the top of the wheel and her shoulders hunched up around her ears. The road is twisty, and as I know we are in the mountains, I imagine steep cliffs falling off to either side of the road, like in the Road Runner cartoons. I imagine the camper going over the edge.

I decide my cousins need calming down because they are very young and probably frightened by the storm. I tell them stories for a while, made-up fairy tales that come sliding out of my mouth without my having to think about them, and they hang on my words, eyes wide. When I run out of stories we tell each other jokes.

Because my cousins are about 4 and 5 years old, I think their jokes are very babyish and I have to fake laughing at them, but they are cracking themselves up way too much to notice. One of the jokes is such a favorite that they repeat it over and over for a good half-hour, retelling it each time the hysterical laughter dies down.

Q: Why did the baker sell the donut shop?

A: He wanted to get out of the (w)HOLE business!!!

I am no longer capable of being distracted by their jokes and laughter, and instead stare, mesmerized, out the windshield from the way-back seats. The snow flying toward the car reminds me of the stars in old episodes of Star Trek when Scotty goes to warp speed, and the pinpoints become lines streaking past the ship.


But I'm not really one for tracing things back to childhood trauma.

Tomorrow, Matt will drive us in our rental car through the rain and wind and possibly snow and I will knit a long purple scarf in the passenger seat and repeatedly ask myself why the baker sold the donut shop.

And then I will answer myself.

21 October 2005

Old fashioned tranny seeks same

I must be going on vacation soon, because everything is suddenly falling apart and requiring that I throw massive piles of my savings at it. A few days ago it was my eye, which got infected, and fortunately cost less than I feared it would to fix, but today, TODAY it is my car.

And the mechanic just basically told me that he wants nothing to do with fixing my car, because it is a mysterious poltergeist that has taken up residence in the driver's side door, causing it to fuse shut forever and all eternity. He says there is no way to fix this sort of thing, certainly not in a cost-effective manner suitable for a car that is worth as little as mine is, but what a stupid lousy thing to have to give up a car for!

The only good news is that I can actually continue to drive this car around until I can find a decent replacement cheap-o car of the Honda or Volvo persuasion (I'm picky, ya know, and it HAS to be manual transmission!). It just looks a little funny when I do the little slither-dance across the passenger seat to get in and out.


After I got the news from the mechanic I was thrown into a serious funk, and sulked very sulkily for a few hours until I had the good sense to find something to eat, which almost always calms me down. So I grabbed the keys to Matt's car and zoomed off to my favorite sandwich shoppe where I bought the special of the day and a newspaper, settled the fuck down with them on the porch, and snuggled with the two golden retrievers the owner leaves out in front of the shoppe as a public service.

Thank god for sandwiches, and for dogs. Because it only took me a few minutes to get over the grumpifying financial aspect of needing to buy a new car and realize that this was a brilliant opportunity to SHOP for a new car!!!

Of course, it goes without saying that it will be another cheap-ass car, but I think I've grown enough now to spend over a grand on a car. My record so far is $1200, and even then I thought I overpaid. I'm very much not into the whole concept of a "car payment." I make those to the mechanic, not the bank. I like my mechanic a lot more than I've ever liked any bank, and he lets me pay when I can. Banks? Not so forgiving, I've heard.

So this time around I'm going to give myself a budget of a little bit more, maybe break the two thousand dollar barrier. And damn it, this time I want a radio that works! It's been two years since I could listen to the radio in my car, and dammit, I want my NPR back! A CD player wouldn't hurt either... But I'm not greedy.

Five-speed transmission, though. On that, I will not be moved. Ya gotta have standards. HA!

20 October 2005

Doctor Didactic

My left eye got all red the other day, so I took out my contacts and put on my glasses, despite how boxed in and separated from the world wearing glasses makes me feel. Today my eye was still red, and I guess a whole lot redder, since one of my co-workers actually shrieked when she saw it, so I made an appointment at my eye doctor's to have it looked at.

Of course I immediately decided that I was being silly, and it would probably go away on its own, but then I recognized that thought as the seriously fucked-up survival instinct of someone who hasn't had health insurance for ten years. Your favorite medicine very quickly becomes saying "it'll go away" over and over again.

But I went to my appointment anyway, with fear and trembling, and it turned out to be no big deal, which is good for my eye doctor because if he hadn't lulled me into a state of calm and relief by telling me it was no big deal, I would probably have ruined his day by responding loudly and belligerently to the next thing he said.

In explaining to me what was wrong with my eye, he went to WebMD on his computer (for real) and called up the definition for an "epischleral" infection. Then he helpfully broke it down for me so that I would know what he was talking about, with all hiz fancy book-learnin'.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good thing -- a very good thing -- for doctors to actually explain to patients what they are saying, but it's poor policy to assume the patient is dumb. Or, in my case, didn't minor in Greek.

Doctor: The word is EPI... SCHLERA. The word EPI is Latin...

My Brain: No, it's very much not Latin, it's Greek...

Doctor: ...meaning "part of"

My Brain: No, it doesn't, it means "over, above, or beside..."

Doctor: ...and the SCHLERA, which is VASCULAR TISSUE, meaning BLOOD VESSELS, meaning BLAH BLAH BLAH...

But I was feeling good from his reassurance that the eyedrops I needed were inexpensive, so I said nothing. I also figured that if I was bristling at his condescension (the biggest sin going, in my book), I was just becoming part of the problem if I corrected him. Also, he might then get annoyed and change my prescription to a gallon of eyedrops made of crushed diamonds and dodo eggs.

Listen, Doc, lots of people know big fancy words, scientific ones included, and epi is a pretty damn common prefix, you know? And aren't there enough idiotic TV series set in hospitals by now that most everyone knows at least vaguely what vascular means? And honestly, if you're going to instruct me in such an endearing manner, shouldn't you at least be right?

So I left, filled my prescription (only fifteen bucks!), settled in at home in front of the computer, and comforted myself and my inner language geek by pre-ordering this.

...it's ILLUSTRATED...


14 October 2005


I love all this rain we've been having lately, but it is making it very difficult to do any work. One of the reasons I love rainy days is because I always feel like you're justified in blowing off work and curling up in front of the fire with a book when it rains.

When it rains for a week and a half, that's where I start to run into trouble.

And trouble is, apparently, where I am, but I am still planning on spending the evening making and then eating my trademark Winter Beef Stew with Eastham Turnips and Mustard Sauce, sipping a glass of the finest Pellegrino, and watching bad historical reenactments on the Beeb.

And that stack of papers I'm supposed to be editing is not getting any smaller, is it? Well, hell. I'll do it tomorrow.

And anyway, getting a job is kind of like doing a job, right? Because today I got a very sweet job lined up at an event scheduled for a couple of weeks from now, a job that offers the prospect of lots of fun, interesting new people, and therefore new contacts for other fun and insanely nifty gigs.

So that accomplishment -- lining up work that will probably lead to more work in the future -- that lets me off the hook for the day, and opens the door to a guilt-free evening of beef stew and Victorian drama, right?

Right. God, when I'm right, I'm right.

08 October 2005


I have lived here for almost four years now. I grew up here, but naturally left to seek my fortune when it was time to go to college, run away to California, go to grad school, start a business, etc. etc. So I lived elsewhere, mostly in small cities of a progressive bent, for all of my adult life up until four years ago, when I moved back here.

I love it here. I love the natural beauty that I am surrounded with on a daily basis. I love the quiet contemplation that comes from so many days and nights drenched in fog and rain. I love toughing out storms with bags of candles, waterproof matches, flashlights, and a campstove. I'm starting to educate myself about the local flora, and can now refer to certain trees and shrubs on my daily walks by name.

I love self-important town committees, and old cranks that monopolize the microphone at town meeting. I love town meeting! I love the local rags that keep us informed on whose dog barks too much, whose fence is taller than the town bylaw says it can be, whose seven-year-old daughter is cutting off her hair for the benefit of chemo patients.

Over the last few years, I have weaned myself away from one profession and into another. Now I am able to support myself largely through freelance work that is entirely independent of the seasonal fluctuations that plague the economy here. For a little extra money, and for fun, I work part-time in theater. So I've got a really terrific balance -- I've got home-based work that pays the bills and even uses my over-educated brain in interesting and useful ways, and I've got a compelling reason to leave the house on a daily basis, one that involves me intensely in the community and with people of many ages, experiences, and attitudes.

What I still miss -- and intensely so -- is the network of my peers that I so enjoyed in the cities I used to live in. Where the hell are the thirty-year-olds? Well, to the extent that they are here at all, I believe they are busy making babies. I like babies fine -- quite a great deal, actually -- but I don't have any right now, and I'm not particularly planning on having any in the near future. So I don't travel in the same circles such people do (school, scouts, youth sports, etc.), and thirty-somethings with babies are generally way too busy to make new friends anyway (with one notable, bloggy exception, of course, Nita...), and I grant them that. Babies are very time-consuming, and I fully respect that.

I guess the people I'm looking for, the folks my age who have maybe traveled a bit, maybe gone to school a bit(formally or informally), folks who are maybe the merest bit progressive in their views politically and socially, I guess they still live in those small, progressive cities that I so recently forsook for the natural beauty and relative isolation of Cape Cod.

I like having friendships with people of different ages and experiences, but sometimes I just miss hanging out with my particular tribe, you know?

I feel myself falling irrevocably out of touch with what indie/underground bands are doing these days. I know fewer artists than I used to. I want to take a night class in something strange and fascinating, like pre-modern Japanese poetry, or South American Queer identity theory.

I want somebody to make me a mix tape of the conversations I haven't been having, I want to hang a collage in my bedroom of all the art I haven't seen, I want to thumb through the class catalogue of a hypothetical university nearby that I could take public transportation to, and to peruse the take-out menus of restaurants serving food I can't pronounce. I want to buy a pair of knee-high boots I can't really afford and wear them with a skirt that's too short for my thickening legs and walk down the block to a dinner party where I will roll my eyes good-naturedly when someone mentions Derrida, as I help pass around the appetizers and flirt harmlessly with other happily partnered-off people.

Can I do all that here? Wonderful. Because I have planted over a hundred bulbs in my front yard, and they will bloom in the spring, but meanwhile there is this winter to get through, and I haven't met you yet.

04 October 2005


This guy I know, he likes to sigh a lot. He's a complainer. His normal tone of voice is something between a groan and a moo.

Historically, I have gotten along not at all well with this species, as I am of the happy variety of person. Or perhaps practical is a better way of describing my general state of mind: If there are things to be unhappy or worried about, I will be unhappy and worried for a while until I figure out if I can do anything about the situation or not. If I can, I will take action. If I cannot, I will Let. It. Go. A shrug is one of my most powerful spiritual practices.

Or, as the Dalai Lama said, "If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry."

Or as my Mom likes to say, If you're worried, pray. If you pray, don't worry.

Historically, I should point out, I have had plenty to worry about, not least of which being whether or not my business would be boarded up and condemned on any given workday. Just as a for example. In fact, it was when I was a stressed-out nightclub owner that I learned the shrug method. When things are just that much out of your control, you kind of have to. Or you explode.

So anyway this guy. Moo moo moo, he says to me today. I got something to tell you moo. Hooray, I think. But it turns out to start sounding like good news, something about suddenly finding out he is getting a tidy little sum of money for no good reason, some distant relative left it to him. (See how I said that in about twenty words? It took twenty minutes to get this tale of woe out of the guy, with all the sighing and groaning and side stories about his cat's various illnesses. Good lord.)

So congratulations I say! Free money! But he shakes his head.

Moo moo moo! You don't understand! Now I have to pay TAXES on it!!!

So it's a little less free money, but free money all the same. This is why I don't get along well with such people. They make me want to punch them in the face, give them something to really cry about.

I guess that's where the Dalai Lama and I part ways, huh.

27 September 2005

My delicate condition

So a head cold snuck up on me and bit me in the throat a couple of days ago. One second I was lounging comfortably on my couch, watching Tivo'd episodes of Mystery! (mostly dorky old Sherlock Holmes stuff, but I'm all a-flutter over the return of Foyle's War for a third season -- Yay for more Honeysuckle Weeks!) and the next thing I knew I had this weird tingle in the back of my throat.

Ten minutes later it hurt to swallow.

Twenty minutes later I was on all fours, desperately scrounging for cold medicine in the cabinet under the sink in the bathroom. WHY do I always get sick when I'm entirely out of tea, honey, broth, theraflu, AND ginger ale?

So I suffered through one night of breathing through the delicately woven barbed wire that had been shoved down my throat and struggled to the store the next morning to spend fifty bucks on everything that I thought had a shot at making me feel better -- vats of chicken broth, beef broth, tea, honey, throat lozenges, garlic and cayenne for magical heal-all soup, etc. Luckily I was able to call in sick to work both yesterday and today (things are slow around the old shop this week, thank god) so I've been able to roll around from bed to couch to bed again, pouring an unending stream of hot tea with honey down my throat.

Honestly. I went through an entire box of ThroatCoat tea in Day One alone.

Still feeling like ass, still having a hard time forming coherent sentences, still weak and sore and meh.

And it's so damn beautiful out, I just want to go out and play but I get tired just putting my shoes on. Somebody go out there and have a great time in the sunshine and perfect fall weather for me. Then report back to me on your wild shenanigans, in short, easy-to-understand sentences, in a soft, murmuring tone of voice.

Then arrange for me to have a full-body massage while in a hot tub. Asleep.

22 September 2005

House of Sloth

One of the things that gives me the most satisfaction of a non-naughty sort is having all the dishes done and the kitchen neat as a pin only hours after creating and consuming an enormous and intricate meal involving the dirtying of most of the dishes I own. This admission would surprise and confuse most members of my family, as I am descended from a long and proud line of bad housekeepers. I remember cleaning my great-grandmother's brush of her long, grey strands of hair and thinking I have to do everything around here!

Some may postulate that my attitude is the result of having been raised in the Mad Victorian House of Sloth, where lasagna pans went unscrubbed for weeks, ivy climbed through the livingroom windows, and un-house-trained Newfoundland dogs had their way with the carpets for decades, and that I am somehow scarred by this upbringing and am now overcompensating.

Those people just couldn't be righter.

Now, normally I am not a domestic goddess, nor do I walk around being all OCD about cleanliness -- far from it. I enjoy taking a day off from bathing, for instance, as I have remarkably short hair and tiny little WASP pores, and honestly, Americans bathe too often. We do. Chill out, and step away from the antibacterial soap. That stuff will, in fact, kill you.

I am also notoriously bad about doing laundry. I have been known to just go ahead and buy more clothes rather than make a pilgrimage to the laudromat. Everyone has a chore they find odious to the point of death, and laundry is it for me.

I also allow spiders to build little arachno-condos in various locales of the basement, giving in to a little of the old joie de vivre and live-and-let-live that doubtless inspired my mother to allow five unhousetrained Newfoundland dogs to spend the day inside -- all day, every day.

This, THIS is why I never brought any friends home to play after school.

Spiders at least clean up after themselves, and keep the house clear of other buggies. Also, they are awesome. I dig spiders. And no, I am not now nor have ever been Goth. My ghostly pallor is entirely due to my superior New England genetic breeding. Although I did once date a very sexy goth guy who occasionally wore vampire teeth to clubs and who painted spooky pictures for gothic fantasy novel covers and who named his daughter Raven. I really shouldn't do this, because Google will somehow lead him to me now and he will be angry at me for mentioning his daughter by name to the internet, but you have to know: His last name was honestly, legally, by birth, Savage. Hence, Raven Savage.

There. I've done it. Maybe he'll forgive me if I remind the internet that he was really, really sexy.

So. Back to my selectively strenuous house-cleaning habits.

For dinner tonight, we had (try running a mental tally of how many dirty dishes this meal produced, if you can keep your mind of off the mind-blowing deliciousness of it all):

1. Cheese and crackers (Brie and Carr's Water crackers with cracked black pepper, natch)

2. Raw bar appetizers of oysters and littlenecks on the half-shell with horseradish sauce and lemon

3. Steamers with hot broth and drawn butter

4. Basil/Garlic encrusted roast chicken

5. Pan-roasted fingerling potatoes

6 Dessert, for those who could face it, was Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk. I had tea for dessert. Good, clean, honest green tea. With honey.

And those dishes, they are done. That sink, it is scrubbed.

The cycle of slovenliness, long passed from mother to daughter, has been broken. Let the healing begin.

16 September 2005

Fairest Ophelia

My in-laws are hurricane magnets, so of course they are here for the weekend. Ophelia has been demoted to a tropical storm, but that still means we have to batten down the hatches, put away the Paddy O'Furniture, and stock up on batteries. The in-laws (who, by the way, I absolutely adore, so stuff it with the in-law jokes -- these are the people who like to send me on trips to Amsterdam and New York City for no apparent reason) are actually staying in Provincetown, so they just stopped in this morning to say hello goodbye until our scheduled fete Sunday evening. By then Ophelia should have said hello and goodbye, too, so all should be well.

It's the truth about those guys being hurricane magnets, but maybe it also has something to do with their propensity for visiting friends and relatives all the time in hurricane-prone locales like North Carolina, Fire Island, and Provincetown. So when I heard they were visiting this weekend, I figured on inclement weather.

Word to the wise: They're coming back in October. Which is still well within official hurricane season.

So they stopped by this morning, I brewed up some tasty coffee and gave them a tour of the garden, such as it is. They made appropriate "EEWWWW" noises at the monstrosity McMansion across the street, and recommended stealing the lightbulbs out of their 500 mega-watt driveway lamps that have stolen our night sky. I mentioned that we had considered shooting them out with beebee guns, or spray-painting the lamps with black paint and they said that was a good idea too.

You gotta love in-laws who endorse creative vandalism in the service of a good cause.

I was gratified to receive, in their presence, a phone call from one of the folks I freelance for, offering me a nice big fat job, just to show them that I am in fact gainfully employed. I couldn't have set up that phone call any better if I tried, right down to my mother-in-law looking at the phone as it rang, reading the caller ID, and exclaiming "It's from (big fancy New York City publishing house)!!!" I took it in the other room, feeling important and well-connected.

Almost makes up for the whole No-Grandchildren-Produced-Yet thing, doncha think?

I also think they're a little horrified, or at least mystified, that we live so happily in just about the tiniest house ever in the world -- you could fit about twenty of our houses into theirs, and their upstate New York farmhouse is far from huge. But they are also jealous that we live by the sea, and they can see that we are happy and content, and this motivates them to send us on trips to Europe.

Then we checked the radar and decided it was well past time for them to find their B&B and fortify their provisions with suitable amounts of wine and cheese and candles and magazines and other pleasant things to sit out a storm with, so we sent them on their way. Like I say, we'll see them for dinner on Sunday.

And it has just now begun to rain, so I guess that whatever is going to get battened down has been battened, my car windows are rolled up and the candles are lit, so let's see what this latest storm can do.

13 September 2005

Always did want a mohawk

It's very unusual for me to be doing this, really, but I'm working a heck of a lot this week. So much of a lot that I am working as much as I can and am still managing to not get around to doing stuff that needs to be done. So I'll be a bit less apt to post than usual this week.

A week from now I'll be able to return to my usual slacker ways. But for now, I am running in 72 different directions at once. Bet you didn't know there were that many directions, huh? Well, there are. And if you were to choose any combination of those directions, and go there, you would find me. There. Um? Yes, I suppose I am insanely tired. Wh--why do you ask?

My life would be much easier if I were a web-based comics game superhero. Oh, wait! I am!

Well thank God for that, then!

08 September 2005

Baby please come back

I am confused.

I make a habit of bringing some nice chocolate to meetings that are long and tedious, to share out amongst my fellow-sufferers. They like it, and I am not at all above buying friends with candy. You know you are no better than me.

This week I bought a particularly nice bar of imported chocolate. Last thing I remember, two nights ago I had six little squares left of deliciousness. I remember putting it in my purse.

I just went to retrieve the buried treasure and it is gone. I do not remember eating it. I did not give it away. My husband does not go through my purse, nor does he like chocolate much.

I am now sad and lonely. Where did it go? Why did it leave me? What is it doing now? Does it ever think of me?

04 September 2005

Things that are nice

1. the sound of very distant fireworks

2. the smell of a charcoal grill down the street

2. crackers with goat cheese and just a drop of honey on top

3. freshly cleaned sheets and pillowcases

4. sliding between those clean sheets on the bed with freshly shaved and moisturized legs

5. finding your favorite person already between those sheets, happy to see you.

02 September 2005

O capo, my capo

I went to a different library branch today than I usually frequent to pick up a couple of nerdy books about Chaucer. I hate going to a different branch, even though almost all of the town libraries have more convenient hours of operation than my local does. I hate it! Those strange, unfamiliar librarians! Those strange, unfamiliar floorplans! Those strange, unfamiliar Belarussian seasonal workers emailing home that are not MY Belarussian seasonal workers emailing home!

The worst is the librarians. My relationship with my regular librarian is like many people's relationships with their bartender. She knows me. She knows what I like. She runs me a generous line of credit. If she feels I deserve the penalty for overdue books, she lets me pay when it's convenient. If she feels I don't deserve the penalty, she makes it go away. Poof!

How does she differentiate, you ask? Easy. Fines on books she doesn't approve of, like the latest Janet Evanovich or Anne Perry or any Martha's Vineyard-based murder mystery, she charges me. But if I need a few extra weeks with Anne Lamott, Philip Pullman, Marge Piercy, or maybe Joe Ellis (even though I told her about his nefarious past, he's still an outstanding historian), then she quietly clicks delete when they come up as overdue on my account.

She's also an old hand at theatre, so she pimps hard for the shows I'm involved in, and she taught English Literature at a prestigious college near my prestigious college, and she occasionally lectures on art history. Get the picture that no other librarian in town could possibly hold a candle to her?

It doesn't help that the librarians at this other branch today are of a particularly snooty brand. But I squared my shoulders and went in, figured out their stupid, foreign floorplan, and found the books I wanted. Then I stood patiently at the circulation desk while the librarian yelled at the Belorussian students emailing home, because they hadn't "signed in." The Belorussians made the excellent point that it shouldn't matter that they hadn't signed in, since there were several other computers available and nobody waiting, but the snooty librarian was having none of it. So the Belorussians shrugged, ignored her, and went back to typing in Cyrillic.

I already had one strike against me because I was wearing a Yankees shirt, something I rarely do around here out of sensitivity to the fragile psyche of Red Sox nation, who can't seem to see an interlocking NY without either flying into a rage, sputtering in umbrage, or breaking down in sobs (seriously, despite last year's historic win, some people's knees still buckle at the mention of Bill Buckner). My nemesis librarian was wearing a little enamel pin of a teddy bear wearing a Red Sox jersey. A... teddy bear. And she turned her nose up at me. She probably wears blinking little Christmas tree earrings in December, and oversized Tom the Turkey applique sweatshirts in November. Seasonally-themed clothing and accessories make my eyelids itch.

My second strike against this librarian was recorded when I realized I had left my library card at home (but my usual librarian never needs my library card!) and so she had to look me up in the computer system.

Then she saw the fines.

Ooooh, you have over eight dollars in overdue fines... I can't let you take these out until you pay this balance!

I don't know what came over me -- maybe I just wanted to confirm the opinion of several that I am secretly a gangster hiding from my nightclub-owning past -- but I responded by leaning way in over the counter at her, narrowing my eyes meaningfully, and telling her that I had an arrangement with the librarian on my side of town, and that we would take care of it... between ourselves. Then I just silently, balefully, stared back at her.

After a blink, and then a more rapid double blink, she scuttled back to the keyboard, scanned my books through, and hurriedly stacked them next to the metal detector near the exit.

Things to do today:

Terrorize little old ladies who volunteer at the village library.


31 August 2005

Hey baby, do you swing?

Here's a brief sampling of what it's like to live inside my mind the last couple of days:

What a beautiful day it is!

Sunshine is STUPID.

You're the greatest co-worker ever in the world!

Why is everybody here such an IDIOT all the time?

I am so lucky.

This sucks.

I'm so sleepy, I need to nap for three days.

Let's go play!

Sometimes I think I should quarantine myself for the good of the planet.

Then I think, screw you all! You deserve me!

Maybe I should take that nap.

28 August 2005

In the summer, in the city

Hooray! I made it safely back from a stunningly fantastic trip to NYC, which you can read about here. It was a great break from the insanity of the end of summer on Cape Cod and the ramp-up to Labor Day weekend, during which I intend to revert to my old hermit ways and stay locked up in the house, and I had a ton of fun admiring the hipsters with their extremely Never-Seen-On-Cape-Cod clothing, and just reveling in being surrounded once again by people speaking lots of non-English languages, with lots of non-WASPy features and such.

This area is pretty maddenly homogenous, and it is so very necessary to throw oneself periodically into the fray of an international city like New York to remind oneself what the world really looks, sounds, and smells like.

While I was there, my cell phone rang more in 24 hours than it usually does in a week, which made me feel very much like a real New yorker, striding down Lexington with my phone plastered to my ear. One phone call was particularly odd, as it came from one of the folks I edit for -- a pretty huge corporation that is based in NYC -- and it was strange to field the call while I was, like, ten blocks away from HQ.

I felt like I should offer to drop in and meet my contact face-to-face, but then I came to my senses and realized how very grungy and on-vacation and really-not-from-around-here I looked, and kept my mouth shut. For all I know, my contact has a mental image of me as some smart-looking sophisticate who happens to be a big geek about grammar and punctuation. And who am I to disillusion her?

But now I am home again where, it is true, most of us are blond and blue-eyed and don't go around in fantastic, cutting-edge clothes like we got them out of a trash can (oh, this old thing?), but where I can see so many more stars, and smell the ocean through the window, and walk barefoot outside on Sunday mornings to get my newspaper.

Which is, of course, the Sunday New York Times, so that I can read about all the concerts, restaurants, lectures, and shows that I'm missing, and start planning my next trip.

23 August 2005


We're leaving tomorrow early in the a.m. to take our wee vacation in NYC. Up at 7, catch a train in Connecticut at 11, then two glorious fun-filled nights at a posh hotel on the Upper East Side. All of this is, as usual, courtesy of the greatest Mother-in-law that ever lived, mine. She is the same benefactor that made our epic trip to Amsterdam possible last winter.

She pretty much rules with how free and easy she is with sharing the old Marriot and frequent flier miles.

Last time we were in NYC, very bad things happened. This time around we hope to break the jinx. OK? So everyone cross their fingers and jump on one foot and turn around widdershins or whatever works for you in the hopes that our trip to NYC will be be fun, frolicsome, and full of good food. And maybe, I don't know, terrorist-free.

We're making it our mission to eat at as many tiny little delis, diners, holes-in-the-wall, and street vendors as we possibly can this time around, and this is my first real trip with a digital camera, so many pictures of delicious city food will be taken.

Also, keep an eye out for all the home runs we'll be catching near the right-field foul pole in tomorrow night's Yankees game. yeah. that'll be us.

Will someone keep an eye on my cats for me? At least psychically? thanks.

back soon!

21 August 2005

Erin go bra-less

I realize it is probably the height of disingenousness to suddenly notice that people on the internet like to talk about boobies, but honestly!

My weekly post here this week was all about breasts, mostly at the insistence of the charmingly juvenile inmates who also write for that site (which is, officially, the bee's knees). Then my pal over here wrote about her proclivity towards public nudity from the waist up -- a proclivity I definitely share, and have pictures to prove it, and no, I'm not about to post them in a million billion years.

Then this morning -- when my BFJ post still hasn't even appeared on the site, therefore absolving me of primary responsibility for unleashing this torrent of reference to things hooter-ish, I opened my mailbox to read my daily Bloom County strip, and found this!

I'm a little excited about going outside today. The apparent zeitgeist, based on three or four websites out of fifty-seven ka-jillion, is definitely encouraging!

19 August 2005

Missing morpheus

I've signed on to another massive project at work, which is why I woke up at 4:30 in the morning today and was unable to fall back asleep until I had churned out the documents that were dancing the mazurka in my head. So now, of course, I am fully awake and entirely insomniacal, and I don't have to be at work for hours and hours, which is probably about the time I'll feel like falling asleep again, so I got that goin' for me. Which is nice.

But it meant I got to see a sunrise over the river outside my window, which is a phenomenon I've been missing out on all summer long, slacker that I am. It was a stunner. The weather has finally surrendered to our pleas and given us a nice string of low-humidity, low-temperature days. I'm even wearing a hooded sweatshirt, it's so cool and comfy this morning! (Tony, Ed, never let it be said I never tell you what I'm wearing. You may also be interested to know that this particular sunrise is finding me joyfully bra-free. As most do, in fact.)

So now I've whacked my over-anxious mind into submission by caving in and doing what it wanted me to do -- trudge over to the computer and log in some unpaid hours for the good of the arts community -- and the question remains: go back to bed, or make some extra-strong coffee and delicious over-easy eggs on toast and slug it out for the rest of the day? I am kinda hungry. But I think we only have one egg left in the house, zero bread for toasting, and grinding up the coffee beans would wake up the slumbering giant in the next room.

Le sigh.

Why can't I still be a feckless and irresponsible grad student, finish my stay-up-all-night homework, crack open a beer at sunrise, and hit the hay until my afternoon seminar? God, those were the days.

Growing up is a real pain.

14 August 2005

Many words, little information

Wow, that was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

My computer went batshit-nutso all last week. So batshit-nutso that I couldn't even get onto the internet. So batshit-nutso that nothing but word processing worked, and what good is it to process any words if you can't share them with the whole entire interweb?

So, since I'm wise enough in my advanced years not to visit blogs (never MIND my OWN*! Perish the thought!) on the computer at work, I have been wandering, parched and alone, in the desert of non-blogdom. And, hell, non-anything else on my favorites list! Do you know how annoying it is to even visit the weather channel site and not have it instantly know who you are and where you are and which map you want to look at? God, I love my cookies.

*At my last job, there was a foolish college girl who used to write in her live journal -- on the computer at work -- during her lunch break. She usually wrote stuff like "My boss is the biggest, fattest, meanest whore-bitch in the universe!" never suspecting that there is such a thing as a "history" button in the toolbar that we could -- and did -- use to access her blog and see what she had been writing about us. When the boss fired her, she mailed her last paycheck to the girl's house with a fistful of printouts of her (the boss's) favorite journal entries; the ones that were the most bilious and hateful about herself as boss. What a silly little whore-bitch that girl was.

Also, I've been super busy at work this week, as the summer is rapidly snowballing to its apocalyptic end, so I haven't had the time until today to sit down and try to figure out what the feck is wrong with this fecker. But I finally did. Turns out it had something to do with my Google toolbar, which I ended up having to uninstall. So now my computer works, but I'm one click further away at all times from the glory that is Google. I'm not sure how long I can live with this intolerable situation, but at least it's less intolerable than having NO INTERNET ACCESS AT ALL so I guess I'll deal.

So anyway, I missed you. Hold me.

In other news, the story on me came out in the paper a while ago, and it was quite nice. I won't link to it, because I want to preserve whatever shred of anonymity I still have around here. If I know you, and you want to read it, email me and I'll send you the link. So it was nice, and I didn't even hate the picture too much. Only a little. At least they captured that devil-may-care sparkle in my eyes.

Also, I've been busy effecting a rather drastic lifestyle change which I might write about someday but not right now. Suffice it to say that I've been living inside my head a hell of a lot lately, and the end result is I'm making a change for the better. No major relationship or geographical upheavals or anything, just a realignment of my personal priorities. Very much for the better.

Also also, I finally downloaded some free sheet music for my beautiful, long-lost euphonium and have been practicing diligently. Soon I will dazzle the world with my heartbreaking renditions of Don't Get Around Much Anymore and Stravinsky's Pastorale. Come on over. We'll jam.

06 August 2005

Food fight

It was time for the annual barbeque at my mother's church today, and I was free, and so was the food, so I graced the joint with my majestic presence.

Once again it was a beautiful and perfect summer day, adorable children were scampering adorably, a great many old ladies came up and hugged me, the sauce was slathered and the lemonade was fresh.

Yeah, I know, nauseating, ain't it? But hey! Free food!

I was about to sit down with some old friends whom I was very pleased to run into again, especially since they were accompanied by their two-week-old baby, who was perfecting the art of the nap, when my mother directed me to sit with my brother's girlfriend. Mom referred to her as his "fiancee," which was news to me? But who am I? Apparently, I never write, I never call. I hadn't even noticed her sitting way over there in the back of the room with her two small children, but since I was doing the semi-annual family meet-and-greet, I amiably complied.

I very rarely get the chance to observe close-up the foraging and eating habits of small children, unlike most of the folks I know online. Diagnosis: Fascinating!

The older one, the boy, took great delight in throwing his finished, thoroughly gnawed corn cobs as far as he could fling them, preferably in the direction of the choir director who was playing show tunes on the baby grand. The younger, the girl, was in a high chair, so her "eating" was more of an attempt at abstract face painting. her eyes were glued on me, as I was talking quite animatedly, using many wild hand gestures that she enthusiastically copied, waving her brownie-and-whipped-cream spoon in the air.

The kids' mother (my absent brother's girlfriend) was totally laissez-faire about the whole production, pausing in her conversation only to wipe the more egregious smears from her daughter's face, and overall displaying a dignified calm that I found most refreshing.

It was only later that Johnny Law noticed the fracas, and stepped in.

I think Madam Officer thinks my soon-to-be-niece is Good For Licking.

02 August 2005

High cool

I realize this is a song we're all singing these days, but it is retardedly hot. And don't give me some sob story about how it's hotter where you live, because your little game of oneupsmanship won't make either of us less hot. Although I'll admit that it probably is hotter where you are, because I live on a breezy ol' sandbar stuck out in the middle of the Atlantic, not in some foul city where the subways are ovens and the narrow streets trap the heat and restaurants stay open past 7:45 pm and serve something besides baked scrod and there is a chance of hearing music at least slightly more fresh and innovative than Don Henley.

Hey. What was I saying?

Anyway, it's still hot here. At least, hotter than it's supposed to be, since all those awesome things that cosmopolitan cities have like people younger than 65 and sidewalks and folks who don't necessarily look like they just stepped out of the country club and might quite possibly answer to "Bobbi" or "Chip" are woefully lacking here, so being relatively cool and happy in the summer is supposed to compensate for all that.

It's also supposed to compensate for the lack of a decent bagel, but let's not push it.

So I cut out of work early today because I'm a slacker and because I can, and went home and turned the AC to its highest setting, took off my pants and waited for the bliss to begin. Half an hour later, it's bearable in here, but only just. In another half hour it'll be perfect, and I'll be an evil, energy-wasting jackass, but I'll be cool.

And just in case you get any ideas, the pants are staying off. I don't care what the neighbors say.

29 July 2005

Cock. And also Tail.

Went out for drinks with an old friend tonight. I got to the bar before he did, so I grabbed the only barstool available and ordered myself a cocktail. What a satisfying word to say that is: "cocktail." Really rolls right off the tongue quite nicely. Mmmmm... cocktail.

So anyway, enough of the cock and the tail. I found myself sitting next to a lovely gal who was avidly watching the Red Sox game. Shortly after I got my drink, Olerud hit a very uncharacteristic grand slam, and she pretty much went nuts, a form of behavior that I highly endorse when grand slams are hit. So I went nuts along with her, jumping up and down and screaming and whatnot.

We sat back down, trying to retain what little dignity we had left, and she remarked on how nice it was to meet a similarly enthusiastic female Red Sox fan. In the spirit of being Fair and Just, I disclosed that I was indeed a true-blue baseball fan, and therefore grand salamis are always to be celebrated, but that I was a supporter of The Dark Side.

I'm a Yankees fan.

She took it in stride, pulling her purse closer to her chest while warily eyeing the bar for a less dangerous bar stooll. But I won her over by singing the praises of Francona, and expressing my admiration for Papi, and also of Fenway, which is truly one of the greatest places ever. If ever there was a shrine to baseball, that is it.

As I have asserted in the past, I'm a baseball fan first. I've been to Cooperstown a few times. I named my cat after Satchel Paige. I just finished reading the biography of Lou Gehrig.

I know, I know. This whole Yankees/Red Sox thing. Well, let me tell you, folks, it has gotten completely out of hand. Yankees and Red Sox fans have a lot in common. I find that we are all the most passionate, well-informed, true fans of the game in the universe.

My girlfriend at the bar and I were discussing this very salient point when my date showed up. I made my goodbyes to the Sox fan, she hugged me goodbye, and said "Go Sox!"

To which I responded "Go Yankees!"

And then we made out.

Can't we all just get along?

28 July 2005

Brass in pocket

I was a band geek when I was a kid, and a pretty damn good one at that. By which I mean it was equally true to refer to me as both Band Member and Geek. I played the euphonium, which if you're not a member of the Glorious and Resplendent Order of the Band Geek, looks like this.

It's about half the size of a tuba. Sounds kind of like a mellow trombone, or like a smooth brass cello.

I had a pretty good natural ability at the thing, too. So much so that my mother, broke as she was, bought me a brand new Yamaha euphonium when I was a freshman in high school, mainly because I had recently become the youngest member of the local conservatory orchestra. I never really considered playing it for a living -- I knew perfectly well I didn't have the chops -- or the dedication -- for that. But I always swore I would not grow up to be one of those adults who used to play an instrument. Nothing, I thought at the time, would be lamer.

Then when I was a sophomore in college, still playing the horn and even paying for private lessons at the college a half an hour away because my college didn't have a low brass instructor, my beautiful Yamaha euphonium got stolen out of the storage area in the basement of my dorm.

I won't say I was devastated, because I don't remember feeling that way. At that time in my life I had an alarmingly cavalier attitude toward my possessions, and was prone to losing just about everything I owned. (This is why I only have two mix tapes from my youth -- luckily, one is my favorite.)

At the time, I liked to think that this attitude was due to my occupying a higher spiritual plane of non-materialism, but really I was just irresponsible.

So when my Yamaha went missing, I was upset, but I got over it very quickly. Those lessons were expensive, after all, and that half-hour bus ride was a pain in my ass.

It wasn't until years later that the dreams began.

At first, there would just be someone in the background of a dream playing a euphonium. Then someone walking down the street, playing the euphonium. This pattern progressed over the years until I reached the point where I would dream about getting the chance to play a euphonium just about once a month.

More recently, it's appeared as an antidote to my odd anxiety dreams. I'll be in the midst of a full-blown anxiety dream, and suddenly I'll walk into a room full of fifty or a hundred people playing the euphonium, and one of them will shove one into my hands and urge me to play. When I had another one of those dreams two nights ago, I woke up and said OK! OK! OK! I'll look on EBay for a fucking euphonium.

True to my word, I did, and I found one and bid on it. And today I won that auction, and for a remarkably low price.

The odd thing is that it is the exact same make and model as my stolen horn from long ago. Hell, for all I know it is the exact same horn, much-traveled. I'll think I'll make an effort to start believing that.

So in about a week I'll have my horn back, for the first time in fifteen years. Clearly, my psyche has been strongly urging me to reunite with it for some time.