28 May 2005

Rules of the road

It's Memorial Day Weekend again, despite the crappy weather's best efforts to make it feel like it was still March, so it's time again for Rock Grrrl's Guide To Driving on Cape Cod During the Summer Season!

Whether you're from here or away, here for the summer or a day, this handy guide will ease your way!

...and, not incidentally, mine! So listen up!

Rule #1.
(A.K.A. Absolutely Inviolate Cardinal No Joking Rule Number One)

No Left Turns Into Traffic.

Unless if you took a right-hand turn you'd softly glide down the boat ramp and into the loving arms of the mighty Atlantic, left turns are never ever necessary and they cause emotional pain and anguish to motorists behind you (waiting for your dumb ass to move so they can take their sensible right-hand turns into traffic), motorists in the lane of traffic traveling to your right (yes, they are shaking their heads ruefully at you), and motorists traveling to your left (they are just ignoring you, you silly-billy).

All that you have to do -- and trust me, this maneuver takes far less time than it does to take a left hand turn into traffic -- is to take a right turn, travel a short distance down the road, find a convenient (commercial! not residential!) parking lot to your left, turn around, and take another right-hand turn.

Presto! You are going the direction you wanted to go, and have inconvenienced the fewest people, including yourself.

And no, sticking the big ol' nose of your big ol' car into traffic to stop one lane of cars so you can scam your way in to another is not an acceptable alternative.

Rule #2.

Always use your turn signals. Always use your turn signals, well in advance of making the actual turn. Flicking it briefly on and off while in the act of turning does not count. If you just assume that we will know what you are up to just because your brake lights are on, then you are just a very sad and lonely person with a hole in your heart that blinds you to other people's pain.

Rule #3.

When making a turn, make the goddamn turn like you mean it. Not like you're still keeping your options open, and maybe going straight might not be out of the question after all, let's just see how things develop. If I can listen to an entire Yo La Tengo song while you ponderously rotate your steering wheel, you are mooooving toooooooo sloooooooow. Go. Turn. Do it. Move.

OK, enough with the Do What I Say portion of the handy guide to Moral Motoring. Here is some genuinely useful information, delivered (somewhat) less condescendingly.

Helpful Hint #1.

Around these parts, we have a truly lovely custom of letting people into traffic when we are feeling generous, which actually tends to be often, given that we're all in this mess together. And the best part is, it comes back to you! You give, you receive. It's instant karma. So just so you know, if someone flashes their lights at you, they are saying C'mon in! I'm in a benevolent mood! If you're wacky enough to want to join the Death March to the Mall on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I'm just wacky enough to let you board the crazy train! The appropriate response is to give a little wave of thanks to the driver and graciously pull in front of them in line.

Without this tradition, no car on this sandbar would move an inch between now and Labor Day.

So return the favor as soon as possible. I find, when I'm feeling steamed by recently sighted infractions of rules 1-3 above, letting someone into traffic ahead of me cools my jets somewhat. Doing my part to balance out the bad in the world with a little bit of good, you know?

Helpful Hint #2.

I said this last year, I'll say it again. Along the highway in Eastham (Route Six -- I know it doesn't look like a highway to outsiders, but it is) they really really meant it when they posted 40 miles per hour. They are all over the place, and they will get you, especially if you are sporting a nice, juicy, out-of-state license plate. Obey.

They also really meant it when they posted 25 mph in wee little town centers, especially at night, when they are hoping they can find you with an open six-pack cradled in your crotch. Good lord, don't be an idiot.

Helpful Hint #3.

Cape Codders don't speak like Bostonians, nor do we speak like Mainers. So please can it with the "chowdah" and "pahk the cah" cracks.

And finally:

Welcome, welcome. Oh good God, welcome. It has been a long and bitterly cold winter, with many backs thrown out from shoveling and many downed wires and downed trees and branches and long days and nights without electricity or heat and months of pent-up cabin fever and we are all just the merest bit cranky and strung out and hung over and oh God that sun hurts my eyes. But we are also, as usual, starved for any human company other than the few year-rounders we can stand hanging out with and we are honestly kind of sick of each other's shit by now, so welcome, welcome. We missed you.

23 May 2005


Went to get my hair cut today at the El Cheapo haircut shop, and was pleasantly surprised by the awesome chick who ended up getting assigned to cut my hair. You know how those places work -- you walk in and put your name on the list, then you sit there and read awful magazine articles about "Fashion Do's and Don't's" and "Top Ten Turn-Ons" until some over-bleached bimbo calls your name, sits you down, and commences to commit atrocities on your hair. The end result is I usually walk out of the place shrugging and thinking, "What do you want for a ten-buck haircut?" and, "it'll grow out."

Some of them actually try to give me bangs.

This time, the gods had pity on me. I was actually just about to walk out of there because I had been waiting for over a half-hour, and the fumes from the perfume samples in those magazines were making me ill, and I already did not like the look of the one "stylist" who was working -- long, multiply bleached and extended hair with mountains of gunk in it, and her conversation was bordering on the provincially-racist from what I could overhear, when in walked this awesome, vaguely goth chick about my age (early thirties).

Her hair was cut in a severe, straight bob, dyed bright pink. She wore a spike and leather choker, heavy eye make-up, and an Evil Dead T-shirt.

I started praying right then for her to call my name.

A few minutes later, she did, and I strutted over to her chair with much rejoicing. I could just tell this was going to work out.

She asked me, in actually a pretty surly tone of voice, what she could do for me today, and I gave her my usual instructions, which are almost universally ignored by the people who have cut my hair over the last few years. (I had an outstanding haircutter in Syracuse, the kind who is always stoned, bald, with a waxed handlebar mustache, waaaaay gaaaaay, and who takes over an hour to get the wacky three-pronged hairline at the nape of my neck just so. I was spoiled, I knew it, and I've been pining for him ever since.)

Very very short on the sides and back. Kinda spiky on top. I usually go for a number three clipper. Maybe texturize the front to make it more fun.

Usually, I get a response like this: A three??? Well, we'll just start with something longer and work our way down, shall we? I mean, you don't want to look like a boy.

Um, actually? I know what I like. And I have round curvy hips and big juicy boobs, so nobody is ever going to confuse me with a boy. I'm way cuter than a boy.

My Evil Dead goddess, however, just nodded curtly, took out the clippers, and started in on me.

Oh, rapture. Oh, bliss.

She gave a half-hearted attempt at your usual haircutter chitchat (So, you live around here?) and I told her flat out that yes, I do, but you really don't have to sweet-talk me, I'm cool with silence if you are...

And she beamed at me in the mirror.

That totally broke the ice, and we bitched for a while about the oppressive social conformity around these parts, how much fun it is to tweak people's assumptions, and where we like to go drinking in Boston. She said something about how she doesn't really like people that much, and I told her about my year as a semi-hermit reclusive freelance editor who never left the house.

So she goes, "I love misanthropes!"

Best. Sentence. Ever.

So yeah. It's wicked short on the sides and back, and kinda spiky on the top. Also texturized in the front. She tried to talk me into the pink dye, but I demurred.

But yeah, I'm thinking about it.


You know how amazed you get when somebody else loves the obscure musicians you love? I was just browsing the site of my friends over at a softer world, and one of their back-logged cartoons just slayed me. ...the one that mentions John Prine. ...go on, click down to it.

Hope introduced me to John Prine. I was a freshman in college, and she made my toes curl whenever she winked at me, which was often. She had been married before, and she was only 25. Her husband had died in a head-on collision -- and Hope had been in the passenger seat at the time.

Hope was cute as hell.

She also already had a girlfriend.

She used to come to my dorm room and play her old John Prine albums, and we'd laugh, and roll around, and I'd wish I could kiss her. Later, I did.

Listening to John Prine brings up all these old feelings of being 19 and in college and in crush and... well, 19.

Hope? I hope you're OK. I hope things have worked out for you. John Prine still makes me very, very happy.

20 May 2005

Turkey baster

As I was diligently trying to get some freaking editing done -- ya know, the thing that kind of bores me to tears but I actually get paid decent money to do, rather than the thing that I love love love (swanning about in a headset, wrangling children backstage, and messing about with power tools) and get paid noticeably less to do -- the phone rang.

"Hooray!" I shouted as I sprang up from the desk to pick it up. "I mean, damn, this is going to interrupt my woooooork..."

It was my best friend in the whole world, the one I would take a bullet for and who is, I've decided, my sister in disguise. I knew immediately what she was going to say, but I let her say it anyway.

She told me that her wife was on the phone, too, and that their puppy was in the room too, because the whole family had some news.

They're pregnant!

More loud whooping and shouts of joy ensued...

So that means, because my brother (OK, his wife) got pregnant last week, that I'm going to become an aunt twice in January of 2006. In one little month! Twice!

I am SO DOWN with being crazy Aunt Rockgrrrl, who gives them presents and takes them to plays and writs them funny little poems on days that are not their birthdays.

I am ALSO down with the two children forever being linked in our families' minds, and possibly sharing birthday parties at my house, because my brother is tres homophobic (although he won't admit it), and I will have so much fun pairing his kid with my lesbian best friend's kid at every opportunity. Even if all I get to do is say their names in the same sentence all the time.

Petty and spiteful? nah.

Petty and spiteful is saying that you don't think two people should be allowed to get married because you think what they do is icky.

17 May 2005

Perfect Day

Trying on clothes this morning, I am disgusted at having Nothing To Wear. So I dig into the archives. The back of the drawers, the sides of the closet -- all the clothes I never wear any more, probably don't fit into any more, but I can't bring myself to get rid of.


For the first time in ten years, I find I can fit into my favorite old pair of jeans (acquired one chilly October morning out of an old boyfriend's dresser) and an old plaid flannel shirt (acquired in exactly the same manner -- different October, different sexy boyfriend).

So I may look like the Walking Nineties today, but I'll have you know that I am dressed from head to toe in I Got Laid Last Night clothes.

This, my friend, is going to be a good day.

10 May 2005

Heir spray

So my brother calls me yesterday and leaves me a message because, like, I'm never home. He says something to the effect of:

"Hi guys! I have some really good news, but I don't want to leave it on a recording, I want to actually tell you. But it's um, really good news. So call me."

Now, I'm no Nero Wolfe (not even his dapper sidekick, Archie, more's the pity), but even I could piece together a theory as to what this great good gob of news is.

Sounds like a few cells have split and split and then split again in a fledgling effort to build a person inside of my brother's wife. And they are ecstatic, because they have been trying. And not just trying like in trying my patience, which they do. No, they have been trying in the sense that once a month they go to a doctor in Boston and my brother does naughty things in the men's room and then they do something creative with it that I'd rather not go into.

Because, you know: my brother. Ewwwwwww.

But it seems to have planted its little fetal flag in my sister-in-law's uterus, which is great.

Really takes the heat off of me for perpetuating the ol' family name, if ya know what I mean. Which I wouldn't anyway, because we were all wacky and took an entirely different name when we got married, which is a whole nother story.

Not that I've ruled out kids, but I don't particularly feel the urge right now, and I have this quirky little conviction that having a kid should be something that you do on more than a whim and a general baseline of benevolent ambivalence.

I'm funny that way.

And anyway, my work kind of fulfills my kid jones. I can take a hit at work and then go home and enjoy the sounds of silence. Or the sounds of P-Funk, if I so desire. And I often, often do.

So hooray for the proto-kid! I'm your biggest fan! Just remember, round these parts, we say "Ont" Rockgrrrl, not "Ant" Rockgrrrl. I will not answer to an honorific that I share with a bug.

I hope it's a grrrl.

03 May 2005


There is a large white swan floating on the river across the street from my house right now. I can see it directly out my window, through the few trees that the asshole across the street didn't rip out for his megalomansion. On this mild, sunny spring day, the river is a bright blue, and the swan is the purest white slash drifting across it. Every now and then he cries out -- you know, makes that swan noise.

The damn river's name is actually Swan River and yet I am still stunned motionless every time I see one of them. And now, now that I'm focussing on them, I can suddenly see the tribe of downy baby swans floating around behind their parent (who am I to say it's the mommy that takes them out for a swim?). Cygnets, they're called.

My very own cygnet committee. God, I love spring.

Even the part where my libido goes haywire and I want to throw various people amorously to the floor mid-sentence. The third or fourth time it happens, it gets a tad awkward.

02 May 2005

Gadding about town

So today I drove myself out to Orleans, the hub of the Outer Cape, and tooled around fetching various items that were both various and fetching. Birthday card and present for my best friend, thank you cards for the cast of the show about to end, computer paper for home (it's been a month at least since I've been able to print anything out -- I keep forgetting to buy paper), candles, a replacement votive holder for the one that cracked the other night with a lit candle in it (kids, this is why you must never leave lit candles unattended, and that includes sleeping. just becaue I have fire and renter's insurance doesn't mean I really want to use them), and other delightful nonsense items that I've been too furrowed of eyebrow and hunched of shoulders to find the time to buy lately.

It was great, and really just an excuse to go joy-riding and ogle all the forsythia currently abounding in everybody's yard. My neighbor was kind enough last year to install a hedge of forsythia along our mutual property boundary, which in effect means that i now have a forsythia hedge. And no responsibility for pruning it. Thanks, neighbor! You're the greatest!

Daffodils and tulips are bustin' out all over these days too, although what I really like is what I think is woodland phlox growing wild on the roadside. Kind of spiky and purple with tons of green foliage underneath. Love it. Want it.

My main gardening mission this year is to plant a bunch more beach roses (rosa rugosa) along our roadside in front of the house. First because I love them and they require no care and can withstand anything (even, apparently, a freak electrical fire caused by a snapped electric wire during a blizzard that burned out of control for more than two hours, scorching the earth and our quaint old fence, but apparently not bothering our beach roses in the slightest). Also because I need a visual barrier between our house and the massively grotesque Ode To Capitalism Mansion going up across the street. Honestly, you could fit TWENTY of my houses into this thing. And it will probably be occupied only about two weeks each summer. So. More beach roses, please, on the double.

But back to my day off. I tooled around all afternoon, and my mood rose with each errand because I appear to have finally been here long enough to Run Into People I Know. Every place I stopped, I ran into someone I knew, and even better, liked. This feat has taken some time.

As I was riding around, happily pondering how many people I had run into, I suddenly realized that today is my three-year anniversary of Moving Back to the Cape. I remember, when we moved back here, thinking that it would take about six months to find my groove and establish a network of friends, mainly because that's about how long it took in Syracuse.


Three years to the day. And my biggest accomplishment is running into a few well-liked acquaintances. Whatever. I'll take it.

And I do seem to be establishing my first honestly close friendship since moving back here, and honestly good friendships are rare, so I'm pretty thrilled about that one. It's tough when you realize you want to go see a movie but you aren't even close enough to anyone to invite them.

That's how isolating it can be to live here.

But. I am beginning to see the fruits of my labor.