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.