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.