Saturday, July 30, 2005

Idle

“Going Nowhere” by Oasis in the process of breaking my heart. The Gallaghers and I are probably the only ones who still agree they are bigger than the Beatles.

My sister asked me, "Do people stare at you?”
I said, “Yes, why?”
“No reason.”

In my twenties my mother said, “They stare because you look like someone who went to Bryn Mawr.”

Went to the WOW Deli for a sandwich because it is the 900th rainy Friday in a row, the deadline for this “deliverable” is August 1st, and it seemed like, really, only a grilled ham ‘n cheese would do. No turkey breast Swiss cheese minimalist spinach “wrap” with sprouts instead of lettuce. No, lay it on us. The full grease monty. Crossed major deli threshold: the Korean sandwich order taker knew my name without asking.

Watched Million Dollar Baby last night. MZA turned to me and said, “Who said this was good?” Only all of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences and Beverages. Clint Eastwood doing a bad channel of Burgess Meredith. Hillary Swank with the “plucky,” ingratiating “boss” business. I found myself longing for the KO that would twist the plot. ANYTHING to veer it off its hackneyed course. Euthenasia indeed. MZA turned to me and said, “Life’s too short.” And went to bed. I lay on the fully loaded couchapalooza and fell asleep. It was that good.

Now it’s now. Listening to “Golden-Vein” by the Cocteau Twins. Aural heroin. Slipping away. Must return to feverishly concentrating on hamster cage of paper. Turn up computer speakers, fend it off a little longer. Elizabeth Frazer’s Scottish trill carrying me above the mundane for a bit.

|

Friday, July 29, 2005

Crabby!

|

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rain, Celestial Mountains, Coffee

Big bad storm last night. MZA kept saying to the kids, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Because he likes rain. I found this out early on when he took me to a factory worker’s rest “sanatorium” on a reservoir formed by three wild mountain rivers in a gorge of Uzbekistan's Tien Shan moutains. Tien Shan means "celestial mountains" in Chinese.

He invited me, so I flew up from Samarkand to Tashkent. He met me at the airport and we took the train with Jonathan and Alona up to the foot of the climb. Alona and I got a taxi (someone who will stop their car for a fee) and climbed up into the mountains until we got to a four story white block building with no markers or adornment situated on the shores of the artificial lake. Jon and MZA walked up themselves because there wasn’t another car to take them. Alona and I sat outside for a long time, just waiting for the men. It was a little awkward but we finally saw them, tall American Jonathan and shorter Uzbek MZA, walking jauntily in a heat wiggled haze toward us.

It was a beautiful weekend, a really beautiful weekend. On one of the mornings, there was a huge downpour. I remember lying in the pushed together twin beds and looking at the small cloudy glass next to my bed with wildflowers in it. I got nauseated the first day I was there. According to everyone (Russians and Uzbeks are excellent diagnosticians), the sun at that altitude was famous for making people nauseous. MZA brought me the wildflowers to cheer me up. The morning of the downpour, he wrapped a sheet around himself, stood on the balcony and watched the rain sweep across the aquamarine colored water, obscuring the surrounding green, snowcapped moutains. It was nice to know that he liked the weather when it wasn’t perfect; that he appreciated every facet of things and not just the simplistic, one-dimensional, narrow-minded, visionless interpretation of what constitutes a beautiful day.

Anyway, last night MZA had just finished nuking the Stouffer’s mac ‘n cheese--the no-brainer, reach for it, crowd pleasin’, sure fire alternative to cooking--when the electricity went off. We had dinner by candlelight, then walked out and convened with an impromptu gathering of neighbors. We walked around the neighborhood surveying the damage. I will say this for Americans; they are a curious, determined, pretty resilient lot. They always want to know what happened, what was the damage—how can we help.

Afterwards, we sat in the living room with the windows open and lit the leftover red Christmas candles MZA salvaged from my mother’s house. Ian said, “I really, really scared.” And he really was because, “it’s dark.” Daisy and Nick were oblivious to any potential invisible threats. I took a shower in the candelight to cool off and we went to bed with the windows open.

I woke up in a good mood for the first time in a long time. The air was clear after the rain pushed everything away. Ian said, “Can you stay to me, Mommy?”

Still no electricity, so no coffee. I stopped at Starbucks and my jaw dropped at the price. No wonder every single solitary money guru in the universe cautions against spending your retirement at Starbucks. Holy shit. $3.50 for a venti skim latte. Before I got to the coffee bar—I felt like I was going for methadone or something—I went to Safeway for a frozen organic lunch and the checker kept saying something to me and I could NOT figure out what she was saying. I had to turn to the woman in front of me—yet another Natalie Wood in a black tulle skirt, black beaded flip flops and a white top—to imploringly beg with my eyes what the checker was saying to me. She looked at me like I was a serious moron, which—no offense—I am not all that used to, and explained in really clipped, talking-to-an-idiot consonants what the woman was telling me. The checker said, “You’re not quite awake yet are you?” Uh, no, I guess not. Hmm weird. Life without evening TV brought on a cooling nighttime candlit shower, a glimpse at the New Yorker, conversation with MZA and a decaff morning. And I was happier. Hmmm.

|

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

After Dinner Cry

OTHER than the fact that I have lost my will to live, things are going great.

I decided to wait until after dinner to cry, since crying during dinner has proved upsetting for the babies. Nick, however, is used to it. I told MZA how, since I have lost George Peppard, my erstwhile helper and also my helper after him, the black Aunt Eller, I now have Sue, a 72 year old Jewish grandmother with four highly accomplished children and eight similarly gifted grandchildren who divides her time (do you think I could get a job with Town and Country?) between DC and St. Thomas. Oooo la la. She just lost 22 pounds banging out a proposal from the St. Thomas residence, subsisting on mangoes and stress. OOO la la. Again, reason for blog: chance to catch up on MY side of the conversation, which never (rarely) comes into play due to my extraordinary listening skills. I am on a permanent “listening tour.”

So upon hearing of Sue, the Jewish grandmother I never had and am not sure I ever wanted to have, Nick says, “Hey I have a song about that, a variation on ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.’ So he warbles, to the tune of the Yoshimi song, “I’m Sue, I’m seventy twooooooo…” Nick’s eight, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. I just sorta looked at him, stupefied, and he said, “I listened to all your downloaded music today. Including Herb Alpert. It kind of skipped around and repeated a lot.”

At some point I lay on the living room floor and tried to recreate theatre exercises like, You Are the Floor. Give the stress to the floor. Become the floor. I am the floor. The floor is hard. I am soft. Pretty Persian carpet. Soft velvety carpet. Sweet Daisy Faire lay on my back. “Mommy?” I thought about people who have died in the presence of toddlers and how people find the toddlers later, dazed and confused, and I thought about how a toddler processes something like that. I thought about that when Daisy Faire was lying on my back—sort of an innate concern and sensitivity that—sorry to discriminate—boys don’t have. A laying on of body, instead of hands.

We put the bambini to bed and MZA and I headed to our posts on the new leather couchapalooza. Oh YES! It is a brilliantly tacky but lush ersatz La-Z-Boy. Yup. It has plump soft cushiony luxurious padding—it feels like down, honest—and two (2) recliners. AND if you push back, the seat reclines to a ¾ position of 100% American-engineered comfort perfectitude. No lie.

“House” comes on, which we watch every week only because Tuesday nights appear to be the only night we can actually land on a weekly show. And it’s “House.” Hugh Laurie, the lead doctor, looks like Grover from Sesame Street with that carefully cultivated fuzzy growth. The show is so formulaic it makes Marcus Welby look like improv and it is so damn implausible, but we watch it. It’s like TV crack for me. I like having a show I “follow” even if it is only by default.

I lay in my Freudian couch splendor in one of my catatonic Betty Blue hazes. I cried while MZA was still upstairs telling Ian and Nick a bedtime story. That was the “after dinner cry.” I was trying to keep it on the down low, doncha know. I cried because I wondered why I wasn’t as accomplished as Sue Who’s 72’s kids and grandkids. I cried because I was tired of having a crappy summer at work. MZA came down and said, “Are you unhappy?” I murmured, “Yes.” He said again, “Are you unhappy?” I said, truthfully, “No.”

I am not unhappy. I am dissatisfied with certain aspects of my life, but other components balance the bad parts. Honest. I just have to remember that ALL THE TIME. So as not to succumb to the despair. I was going to explain why things are so hard here, but it would take too long and it’s not really that interesting and it doesn’t involve eviscerating certain personalities and all that fun part of work bashing. Because I adore the people I work with, almost to a person (ALMOST). It’s just the unrealistic unrepentant looming crushing deadline and stuff. And all this pressure and responsibility. That’s not my thing. Some people get off on saying, “my staff,” but that kind of shit only makes me want to hurl. I have no interest in ballyhooing my workload or importance or fabulousness or how many windows and assistants I have. This blog is making me turn more and more back to what I really (really) care about, and that is the writing. The fiction writing. It’s like therapy except better and cheaper—by talking through it you come around to what is really at hand.

Thanks for listening even if it skipped around a lot, like Herb Alpert.

P.S. I just went downstairs for my 8 billionth Diet Coke this week and, no kidding, there was a poster for a seminar led by a woman who looks just like Joni Mitchell called, "Authentic Happiness: It's About Learning, Not About Luck, Come on Get Happy!"
  • Rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10
  • Learn the rules that will take you higher
  • Recognize and discard the 2 most seductive myths about happiness (ooooo!)
  • Identify the 3 major routes to happiness and how you can travel them
  • Discover the 5 strengths that distinguish the happiest people on earth
  • Increase the positive feelings you feel every day of your life

|

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Literary Magazines

Someone in my vast readership suggested I write about literary magazines, so here are some lit mag letters I have received and written and some thoughts on who’s out there and who’s not.

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for submitting your story "Paradise" to
Night Train. Unfortunately, it was not right for us.

Some of your writing is exquisite. The first paragraph
is aggressive:

I inhabit a drywall miracle of rodent-like proportions
above St. Mark's Pizza in the East Village. The
stairwell smells like urine and the Korean peddlers
have slowly taken over my front stoop, so I have to
bat scarves and crystal necklaces in order to enter my
sad little plot of urban grandeur. I work for the
Antichrist. Her name is Cynthia and she is all about
the black Capezio flat, expensive moisturizers,
personal humidifiers, and a classic cut. Her bangs
present an unwitting contrast of youthful fringe
offset by aging skin.


And there are interesting characters and a lot of
strong characterization here. But there are too many
long stretches where you lose the storyline by
indulging in character description / backstory. Take,
for instance, this long stretch:

Danny is the anemic boyfriend with ravaged cuticles
and a frustrated death wish. She has found him
crumpled on the floor twice, once in the garage and
once in the kitchen. The stove was electric. I am
not sure what he was intending to do, or if he just
fainted from the heat. He drives a 1976 Oldsmobile
and the interior ceiling material hangs down, causing
their hair to stand up with static. Marlee has an
acute case of Boyfriend Pride. Not proud of the
boyfriend, proud to have one.

I had a boyfriend early on, so I got the magic out of
the way and moved on. The requisite
Svengali-college-professor-arrangement wherein the man
beguiled me with how beautiful and pre-Raphaelite I
was, and then dumped me for the 30-year-old wife of a
colleague. They drank Scotch together, laughed about
Hemingway; then he pulled me surreptitiously back into
his force field. He laid me down on a broken pink
electric blanket, leaned in for the kill, and planted
a soft one on my trusting lips. Those kinds of men
are hard to erase.

I met the professor in California, where I moved in a
misguided attempt to replicate the verdant landscape
of my lost Calcutta childhood. I can hardly look at
the Pacific without my heart surging forward and my
nose filling with salt air. It was hard to
distinguish the salt back then. Tears and the sea.

I dropped acid with the professor and his brother once
and we walked down to the ocean. The brother lured
me in, Svengali Junior, but with blond hair. He
explained to me how he liked to paint the images he
saw flashing on his eyelids when he closed his eyes in
the light. He bowed his head when he talked to me.
As the acid wore on and the colors began to bleed, I
saw air cathedrals and held the professor and made
him promise to never leave me. The brother put on
"Crimson and Clover" and we all sort of melted
together as we came down. The only thing I could see
were the LED lights on the professor's stereo, then I
had water images of bougainvillea behind my eyelids I
wanted the brother to paint.

Instead, I would have liked to have seen more elements
of the story pulling around the event that seems like
the potential pivot point: the news of Danny's
suicide. The last third of the story deals with the
aftermath of this death, but a good portion is
backstory as well and feels isolated from the rest of
the story.

I am sure another editor would completely disagree
with me. Thank you for giving us a chance to consider
the story. Good luck placing it elsewhere.

Best regards,

[name withheld—no pissing off editors of lit mags]
Associate Editor
Night Train

*********************************************
Dear Lisa,

I love your writing style: it is intoxicating, and "Sam
Flute" is full of wonderful example of your ability to
turn a phrase. The opening for instance:

"I work in the underworld of Georgetown University for
the Director of Landscaping. I am the invisible
woman. I didn’t know what to wear my first day, so I
wore a blue cowl neck blouse and a pink silk skirt. I
wasn’t invisible that day. My mother said, “Dress
professionally and the rest will follow!” There’s
nothing to do for the Director of Landscaping except
take calls from his friendly wife and write them
neatly on yellow message pads. I am a silk wearing
anomaly from the world of light that exists above this
John Deere cage.


I sit in a room with an accountant and a tall pimply
work-study kid with a lurking smile. He looks as
though he has a stash of explosives in his parents’
basement. He and the accountant snicker about me as I
sit at the computer and type non-sequitors and take
messages. When the accountant speaks, I try to
decipher his subtext. I am good at that. It is not
like gutting a fish, it is more like filleting it.
You have to peel back the flesh of the statement and
leave the spindly bones in tact so you can remove
them. The bones are paranoia. It is better to remove
them whole so the fillet lies pure before you."

Great stuff. However, I would have liked to have had a
firmer narrative (or thematic) center than "Sam Flute"
currently has. Sam's seduction of Alice currently vies
for that honor, but the introductory flashback (as
well written as it is) does not (specifically) elevate
the scene to a pivot point. Additionally, the backend
of the story (and the ending, which is supposed to
give final meaning) does not flow from it either. (Or
is there another scene / moment that might serve as
the center?)

Good luck placing this story elsewhere. Our reading
period reopens on August 31. Hope to see your fiction
again then.


Best regards,
Associate Editor
Night Train Magazine
[name withheld—again, no pissing off editors of lit mags]

These are super nice letters that were very helpful. The good news is “Sam Flute” is scheduled to be published next year in a different venue. “Sam Flute” was the subject of another of my all time favorite rejections from Zoetrope: All Story. Indeedy. The editor wrote me and said she was sorry for the delay in replying to me, but the story had passed through “so many appreciative hands.” Sniff. That broke my heart. You know? To know my story was being passed around and people liked it. It so very took the sting out of the ultimate rejection.

After several handwritten but short replies, I finally got a payload from Other Voices on “Paradise,” my favorite damn story that I can’t get anyone to take. She (I believe it was Gina Frangello) said that the story wanted to “spin out into a novel.” But that she was “sure” I would place it elsewhere. I like the “place it elsewhere” consolation prize. Hey, it was an honor just to be nominated. In addition, I got two SUPER nice notes from the editor of Archipelago on two stories.

My least favorite reject was from Pangolin Papers, who published one of my stories AND nominated it for a Pushcart Prize, in case I haven’t mentioned that enough lately, but they sent me this horrendous reject for “Sam Flute” that reminded me they didn’t do “genre fiction.” GROSS! Like they were saying it was “romance” fiction. I could have died on the spot. One of those times where you compose the letter of death, dig deep and find writing BY the editors to slam them directly and all that tommyrot.

I get canned rejects from Antioch, Cimarron, Bellingham, Ascent Literary Journal, McSweeney’s, Crab Orchard Review, Literal Latte, The Carolina Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Third Coast, Iowa Review, Tin House, Harper’s (duh), Fence, Kenyon, Ploughshares, New England Review, Meridian, Alaska Quarterly, Clackamas, Black Warrior and Crazyhorse. Then I get reponses from places I didn't think I would have a prayer of getting a handwritten note. I treasure the INK on those pups. Two from The Missouri Review, which in hindsight I should frame or something. The Florida Review—excellent note and follow up. StoryQuarterly was right snippy and that hurt my feelings. Sniff.

And sometimes there is the “close but no cigar factor:”

Senior Fiction Editor
Thin Air Magazine
P.O. Box 23549
Flagstaff, AZ 86002

Dear Ms. M:

Thank you so much for your letter dated May 15, 2002 explaining that my story “Sam Flute” had been considered for publication in your magazine but due to budget constraints the issues did not get published. As you suggested, I am resubmitting the story for your review now that you have resumed a normal schedule. I really appreciate your taking the time to explain to me what happened.

In short, or long, there’s a camel. There’s a needle. There’s an eye in the needle. There’s your story. Good luck.

|

Monday, July 25, 2005

It Goes On, And Then It Rains

I think I have an ulcer so I’m having a Diet Coke, which is sure to mollify things.

Thursday night my very fun cousin Carolyn blew into town with Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame in tow. Friday night Moira, Sheila and all the younguns came over and we had mojitos, Mai Tais, Carolyn's homeopathic barbiturates and Chinese carry out. It was wild and fun; the kids watched The Aristocats and The Goonies. (Disclaimer: they were not barbiturates, but they were homeopathic! Sort of like taking vitamins. That make you sleepy and weird.)

Saturday was lunch with T, my mother and Carolyn at Crystal Thai in Arlington. Swell fun lunch, les grande dames indeed. Ian came along and felt Very Special to be singled out. My mother, T and Caro comprise the Executive Board of his fan club, so he was in seventh heaven.

Dropped Caro at the airport and then stopped at Gravelly Point, where they used to take me when I was a little girl to watch the “hairplanes” (wasn’t I cute?). I wanted to show Ian the “hairplanes” too. Very exhilarating and, of course, slightly eerie, what with it’s being Washington and all, and suddenly planes don’t have that aerodynamic wondrous innocence anymore. Sometimes they look like scary beasties that can so easily become tools for nefarious plots. In Ian’s eyes they remained innocent. This is what cracks me up about todds, you kneel down and point at this lumbering mass of steel that is barreling down the runway and say, “See the airplane?” And todds always say, “Where?” Right THERE!

Then I had a post-Thai restaurant severe abdominal attack, caused in part by this fucking job and the ulcer it is giving me, and I had to swerve the car into a handicapped parking place and grab Ian’s chubby hand and BOLT for the Sani-Jon. I was a little freaked out. It’s a good thing Ian’s only almost-three and will never remember that moment. He’s standing in the Sani-Jon with me and I am holding his hands so he won’t touch ANYTHING and he says, “Can we get out of here?” Yeah. So we take our leave of the “Airplane Park,” hit GW Parkway and cross Memorial Bridge, on a gorgeous, uncharacteristically un-humid summer day.

Come home and sit on the couch and read the People magazine that Caro has left behind, cover to delicious cover, uninterrupted. I don’t even know what I read about—something about Sandra Bullock’s wedding—but it was bliss.

Sunday morning I came to…work. Yes, it’s true. That deadline looms and we were highly mandatorily coerced into coming in. Only one person was there. I brought Ian for comic relief, or as a really airtight excuse to leave when the urge hit me. I printed out about 30 pages of Thomas the Tank Engine coloring pages and he sat in the conference room and “colored” with a purple felt tip, a pink highlighter and a yellow highlighter. Another excellent toddler feature: they think highlighters count as magic markers. When it became clear to me that this was not going to be an England-pulling-together-after-the-Blitz kind of soft focus Disney office camaraderie day, but instead a day when I felt persecuted and ulcerated, I did what anyone would do and promised Ian we could go to McDonalds BECAUSE he has never been. I ordered lunch for the whole family. And I realized the curse of the working class stiff is that when you are stressed and your soul has been systematically sucked out through the meaningless taunting carrot of a paycheck 9-5 world, then you start making weird unhealthy decisions like lunch for all from McDonalds. As though somehow that homogenous, processed, predictable, cookie cutter food will ameliorate all the bumps and bruises of life. Or something.

After lunch I logged onto iTunes and went insane downloading every song I have yearned for in an ongoing unrequited catalogue. It was fun! The best was finding Herb Alpert’s "A Taste of Honey" AND Johnny Mathis (oh YES) singing “Bring Him Home” from Les Miz. I have a very serious thing for Johnny Mathis. I mean, don’t fret, I also downloaded plenty of “alternative” whatever stuff. I just happen to be very multifaceted. And depressed. But I am trying to talk myself out of the latter.

After the download festival we geared up and got ready for a poolside BBQ with parents from Nick’s school. I have a really hard time with “insouciance,” hence my disastrous “casual Fridays” and anything (ANYTHING) to do with “poolside.” All three mommies were in absolutely perfect, fun, definitively insouciant attire. I failed miserably with an Irish linen shirt over a white camisole and jeans. It was the jeans that screwed everything up. The mommies were in halter top/tankini mode.

I like them all a lot. We had irreverent conversation about the new priest at the church. Of course I didn’t know we had a new priest, given my “poor” (nonexistent) church attendance. Nice Dad said, “Maybe you need to move closer to the church.” A reference to our alarmingly close proximity to the church, as in, it’s in our back yard.

The pools at the pool club are terraced into a sloping grassy hill and it’s a very nice affair. There is a wood gazebo and Nice Dad grilled burgers and dogs. I stood at one point on the grassy hill and felt more incongruous than I have ever felt in my life. My kids running down the slope, Nick cannonballing into the pool, Daisy frolicking and girlish, MZA with all the boys hanging off of him in a twirl. And me. The casting director screwed up on me, I think sometimes.

Lady Miss Daisy has taken to waking at 4 a.m. and crying like a disgruntled hyena and can only be placated with a bottle. So now it’s like a nightly tradition. Prior to her scheduled outburst, however, Ian woke up from a bad dream and MZA put him in bed with me. It seems a baby was trying to eat his “leg” which was actually his “arm.” Some body part confusion. So I had a flopping flounder of a kid lying next to me, who kept randomly flipping and tossing until I finally threatened him with a return to his own bed. Then he fell asleep horizontally with me hugging the thin narrow edge of the bed. Awake. Ready for Daisy’s 4 a.m. wail. Which I toughly decided to ignore—let her cry it out—but of course that didn’t work and MZA, from his station on the living room couch, caved and gave her a bottle.

I wandered tragically to the basement and crawled into the futon bed where I lay, awake, until maybe 6 a.m., when I finally experienced a hummingbird-like, fragile, fractured semblance of sleep. My stomach was twisted into a ball and I lay there, looking at the comforting knotty pine paneling wondering when the good part would come. I am basically waiting to inhale, not exhale. I thought, I just can’t sustain this. This being and nothingness. Except for the sporadic good parts: the friends, the acquaintances, the family, the love.

MZA called me this morning so we could commiserate about our epic fatigue. He said, “OK, start…” I interrupted, “Writing my blog!” He laughed and said, “Whatever you do to make yourself happy.”

This is it for now.

|

Friday, July 22, 2005

Karl Rove, A Fat Gay Eunich? Our Suspicions Confirmed!

Our far flung correspondent Marc writes, "My gaydar has been flipping on Karl Rove for a while, but I don't think this will improve our image any."

|

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Morning Haiku

Fucking aluminum coffee mug had soap residue, so an entire hot yummy cup of 100% Columbian fancy pants coffee maker brewed coffee was ruined.

Moron radio “personality” Mathew Blades (welcome to DC’s morning radio!) irritated the hell out of me with his lazy, arbitrary, “cool” vocal intonations as in, “Welcome to the Z104 lowwwwwwwnge,” and his inability to say “four” with an “r” on the end, so it sounds like he says, “Z One Oh Faw,” like a kid who can’t say “drawer” and instead says “draw.” It is not a speech impediment; it is some kind of bizarre affectation that is meant to sound whacked out “hip” or something.

He is SUCH A NERD. This is how much of a nerd. One time when they were coming up with “fun” things to talk about in the morning he had a “pet peeve,” as radio “personalities” are wont to have, as a convenient and “spontaneous” conversation starter. His pet peeve? Why won’t a restaurant let you take your UNFINISHED bottle of wine home with you. There are so many things WRONG with this peeve I hardly know where to begin. First and foremost, what kind of lame ass loser orders a bottle of wine at a restaurant and can’t finish it? Second, how much of a low class rube do you have to be to know that this isn’t Chuck E. Cheese and there is NO SUCH THING as a doggie bottle bag because dogs don’t drink wine, but humans do, and when they do, they need to be man enough to knock that puppy back and not ask for the remains! And finally, uh, ever thought about wine by the glass? Or just having water—what fish fuck in—as Tallulah Bankhead put it so disdainfully, since you are too lame to…. OK. I am better now. Mathew Blades: the wrong man for DC radio, as if it weren't bad enough already. He is our penance for the Greaseman and Howard Stern.

Some fine Car Karaoke with the jumped-to-in-frustration oldies station playing “Brandy.” All together now, “The sailors say BRANDY such a fine SUCH A FINE GIRL/What a good wife WHAT A GOOD WIFE you would be/ But my life, my love and my lady is the SEAAAAAAAA……..”

Pull up to the pink granite cube atop the Goose Rancharoo, apply Aveda Purple Sage (Riders of the Purple Sage?) lipstick and quickly assess damage in rear view mirror. Hmm. I look just like Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Not a good look. Corral the errant Purple Sage smears and tidy up overall look—blush is a little unsubtle, mascara is all tweaked and weird. It’s gonna be a Bette Davis day!

Walk in, grumpy, dodge the cooked-to-the-surface goose poop, commune with the tall guard from the Ivory Coast, Cote d’Ivoire sounds better.

ME: Is it hotter here or on the Ivory Coast?
Tall Guard: It is the same, but here it is humid and there it is dry.

Toldja I had some major interlocutor skills, didn’t I?

Come in and face the tower of power paper siege at my desk. Become sullen, overwhelmed, deflated. Go fer a Splendafied Diet Coke—a nice cold brown carbonated splash of caffeine to make up for the soapy metallic coffee fiasco in the car. Write to you.

Now start the perilous, thankless task as hand. Zero hour and we’ve already had one annoying phone call from a nice woman with one of those ACCENTS that is all over the map-- Finnish, Australian, Scottish---ARGH. I asked her where she was from and she said, “Alabama.” ARGH! I mean, where are you REALLY FROM with that Euro-weirdness accent, not where are you right now. South Africa. G’bye nice lady. DON’T CALL ME AGAIN. Go throw some shrimps on the barbie or something. Mine a diamond. What is it that you South Africans do anyway? Is it hotter in South Africa than it is in Washington DC right now?

I wonder if I can go borrow a stun gun at the zoo. For myself.

|

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dragonflies and Nominees

I have this neat thing in my car where I can hit “repeat” on the CD player and listen to the same song over and over and over again. I was on a serious Jeff Buckley swoon ("Lover, You Should have Come Over") for awhile, then on to David Gray ("Last Boat to America") and now I am listening to the new Coldplay album which, sadly, sucks. But I like the new single, so that was on perma-peat. Ain’t no thang like Chris Martin’s vocals, even tho I know he inspires the ire of music snobs worldwide. Open your hearts! However, the album clearly reveals
Gwyneth Paltrow=Linda McCartney. In addition, the goopy love struck lyrics prove once again that Happiness is a Lousy Muse. Despair=much more interesting. There’s a song in there with these lyrics: “I will fix you.” Uh-oh. Run for the hills!!!!

There was an article in the Wash Post Style section today about a woman who maintains her husband’s makeshift roadside memorial. She said she sees her husband in dragonflies that alight on her car. As I was walking into work this morning, I saw a yellow dragonfly and wondered if Chuckie was saying hi to me too. She pours ponies of Jack Daniels on the memorial ground in his honor and has a tattoo of his face over her heart.

Oh yeah! And there were all these articles about the new Supreme Court nominee! I was very defiant and read every single other article in the paper except those. Including an obit of a truly classy and classic newsman, Paul Duke, who used to host Washington Week in Review. It’s a day of farewells, then, to Chuckie and Paul.

No need to worry about that nominee! I can’t even think of his name. He looks like a bland can of tuna. White albacore. I am not even going to attempt a tirade on how they absolutely should have chosen a woman. I know it doesn’t HAVE to be tit for tat, SO TO SPEAK, but he should have picked a woman. Salon has a coupla good pieces on him and a line from one of them chilled me: Roberts (remembering his name reminds me of the scene in The Witches of Eastwick when none of the women can remember the name of the Devil) will be the 105th white male to serve on the Court. In addition, his wife is a member of something called "Feminists for Life," not to be confused with "Feminists for Death," or "Death to Feminists for Life." He also supports Operation Rescue's right to bomb abortion clinics under the First Amendment. In addition, he told the Supreme Court that its historic decision supporting a woman's right to an abortion was "wrongly decided and should be overruled." Sounds liberal and unbiased to me! Back to my posture of ostrich, head in the sand, defiant pouting. Mealy mouthed bastard. Where’s another David Souter hiding in the Vermont woods when ya need him? Or was that New Hampshire?

A team of younguns just came to my desk to offer to help out with this monumental project thing I am working on, so I guess I would be really naughty and cheeky to keep writing today. Dammit. Back to the stones of grind.

|

Monday, July 18, 2005

I Coulda Been a Retiree

Kathy Bates once quipped at the Oscars that every time an actor wins an Oscar, an agent gets his wings. Well, every time a wife attends a spousal office function; she gets a set of wings too. Ladies and germs, I am tricked out with an Angels in America set of power feathers.

Saturday was a party at one of MZA’s colleague’s house and it was very nice and touching, in that the colleague’s husband was retiring after 38 years as a military and then commercial pilot. He seemed like a nice guy. He married her, a wisecracking, Westernized Asian dame who came to him complete with two kids that he raised as his own. I don’t know, I like that—unlikely couples making mixed families that never would have happened otherwise—a blending of continents and disparate cultures.

We got a babysitter—always a good and righteous thing—and headed off to the serious hinterlands of olde Virginny, to a subdivision of trumped up split levels made of freckled brick. The heat was staggering, obliterating, virulent—absolutely stultifying—and the party was outside with a tent providing only a nominal relief. I didn’t know anyone, always a great way to start things out. MZA abandoned me immediately to drop off his famous Russian tater salad. So I stood there, marooned, but kind of numbed by the heat, as people walked by me smiling. MZA has a habit of disappearing on common errands for periods of time similar to eternity, and then arriving just as I have reached the end of my tether.

I was determined not to be a wimp, but I approached the hostess, Tokyo Rose, to ask if he was inside. She said, in that clipped, perpetually impatient, semi-barking way of many Westernized Asian women, “I have no idea where he is! Why? You hot?” Which means: Get lost you pain in the ass entitled bitch. Mix and mingle and grow a spine. MZA is helping ME now. You’re not the princess you think you are. Shall I go on translating? I am getting pretty good at this!

MZA resurfaced at some point, long enough to recognize that I was going to melt into the spongy, suburban, hybrid grass if I was not immediately transfused with an enormous alcoholic beverage. When I went back for a second glass (ten seconds after quaffing the first one) Tokyo Rose said, “I’ve seen you at the wine table but not the food table!” So I obediently went over to the elevated deck/patio and there was a platter of un-chilled shrimp, hot crab dip, veggies ‘n dip and cubes of rubbery jalapeno ‘n cheddar cheese. Mmmm.

In an unprecedented move, I had to forego the shrimp/crab dip lunge, due to worries of heat+shellfish. I took a carrot, sans dip, and jerked around to see if Tokyo Rose would notice my virtuous and healthy eating habits, despite my inclination, in her eyes, of drinking like a sailor. You know though, at events like that, in the agonizing heat, when you don’t know anyone and it is office related, wives like me should be offered a refrigerated wine tent--somewhere to repair between sessions of pained small talk.

I quickly surmised that the only way I was going to make it was to whip out my incredible and amazing interlocutor skills. Oh yeah! That’s when you realize that the only way the person standing next to you in Cocktail Party Purgatory is going to speak, is if you pepper spray them with ceaseless questions, punctuated with exclamations of unmitigated fascination. Which is probably why I have a blog—to unload all the answers I have to a lifetime of unasked cocktail party questions.

I was introduced to MZA’s colleague Henry, who had a pleasant, laid back way about him. The more I talked to Henry, the more I realized he was actually, to the letter, minus the fish hooks, McLean Stevenson from M*A*S*H—the laconic drawl, the mischievous twinkle in his eyes, the war stories.

He told me a great story about taking up an older couple, against the rules, in a Black Hawk chopper he was flying. The husband had been a pilot in WWII and so Henry took him and the missus up for a spin. I got along with him right well but his wife was wearing cologne that smelled exactly like the paste they apply with a Q-tip on your gums before injecting Novocain. It was killing me. When he told me the Black Hawk story, she stood next to him, giggling nervously and tugging on his arm, asking why he had never told her that story.

I talked to Young Couple and was prepared with a roster of questions, since I knew they had lived in California AND she was expecting a baby! Perfect. But I was wrong! Husband was on low-battery auto pilot—nice, but not even faking his abject boredom and “dragged along spouse” status. He was in what I call “play, stop, pause” mode, wherein the individual is asked a question, which they answer, that is “play” mode, then they hit “pause” until the next question. When there has been a significant gap in the conversation, they hit “stop” to conserve energy. They never hit “record.”

Young Couple Wife was very nice, very friendly, but clearly consumed with pregnancy, birth, the baby, life during pregnancy and the fantasyland of life après baby that in no way related to anyone else who had ever had a baby. This happens a lot with pregnant women. It has to do with egocentricity, as in, I am having a baby and no one else has ever experienced this! Like a young guy I used to work with—extremely nice—who, when he found out I had a son said, “Oh, I have a dog, but I guess it’s not the same.” No, as a matter of fact you’re right! It is not the same! Not at all! And then he turned around and his wife had a baby and suddenly he came close to being Insufferable Daddy, what with the emailed updates and baby photos. And, no questions about anyone else's baby. Or dog.

I guess what I am observing is, there is so little empathy left. And graciousness. And genuine interest outside of carefully calibrated, fenced, homogenized circles. No one knows how to operate outside of their element anymore—beyond the prescribed, predictable, rehearsed, known aspects of life. Hence, lifeless cocktail party banter, not to be confused with canned office banter. Similar breeds, different animals.

There was Comb Over Platitude Man, sassy spaghetti strap Hostess/Daughter, lively, chesty, spitfire Palestinian Woman, and a family of Sikh neighbors who were uncharacteristically belly up to the bar. The guest of honor gave a speech, with notes that he wrote on a name tag. It was very sweet—I was touched because he was humbly referring to his long, and probably interesting, career as a pilot. I could see he felt a little lost, as though he wasn’t quite ready to give up his professional identify and surrender to the deck chair, the tilted, over tilled, V-shaped lawn and a stein of German beer.

So there he was, a man at the end of a 38 year career, reading his professional highlights from atop his patio/deck to a garden full of mostly strangers—his wife’s colleagues and some of their neighbors. He thanked his wife and his adopted kids and made light of how he was truly going to relax. Not do anything. Really. At which point I almost cried because, while he may have felt lost, I would have felt like a heroin-injected wood nymph racing naked through a dewy forest if someone said I could retire right now. Even if I had to spend the rest of my days on an oddly situated plot of land, high above a Virginia subdivision cul-de-sac, with freckly split levels and mismatched neighbors.

I’d take my stein of beer and reflect gently on my patchworked career and look out over the outline of the Blue Ridge mountains in serious contentment. Hey, hand over that retirement buddy! I know. I know he earned it. I’m just a piker, relatively. Twenty years to go and counting. Or something. And there I was, just getting used to the view.

|

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Kiss My Rusty Dusty!

Well who knew that the blogosphere was riddled with the same kinds of clubby, insular, cliquish people we found in high school? Pas moi apparently. I couldn’t figure out why I was getting stonewalled from some of the blog women I was writing. I thought maybe they were busy or something. But then it dawned on me that no, they weren’t writing me back just because. Which made me feel like Dennis Christopher in Breaking Away you know, when he tries to befriend his fellow Italian bike racers and they gang together and push him off to the side. I mean, ouch!

I would feel really bad and really kicked in the sand, especially since I don’t have Dennis Quaid’s six pack abs around to make me feel better like Dennis Christopher did, but the deal is, the FIRST person I ever wrote when I started my blog was Heather Havrilesky, who is a real writer—I don’t mean that in the bitchy petulant way, but in the way that she is actually a working writer (for Salon) and has maintained a blog since 1999. Guess what? She wrote me RIGHT back and it was the nicest damn email I have ever gotten. So there, all you superior, non-writing-back tramps. Hmph!

I feel like such a dork because I wrote them fan emails, you know? Like, Hi I like your work and here is some of my work kind of thing. I mean they could at least write back and say, “Good luck!” Holden Caulfield’s favorite blow-off. Or, “Kiss my rusty dusty,” my mother’s favorite come back.

So I guess the moral of the Dennis Christopher, sand in the face attempt at befriending or CONNECTING with fellow blog writers is: go to the top. Even the New Yorker will write ya back if you submit something to them. Yeah, it’s computer generated, but you know what? I treasure those stilted robotic emails. It means the New Yorker cares! But we always knew that. It has to do with class, ladies and germs. Class, and nothing more. Such a rapidly diminishing attribute.

I’ll tell you ANOTHER real writer who wrote me a LONG letter (as long as we're on the subject, dammit), Stephen McCauley, who is a heartbreakingly beautiful AND funny writer. Now, this may lead you to believe that I write people fan mail all the time. I don’t! That’s what's so crushing! I wrote three blog tarts whose work I admired, one to Heather Havrilesky, and my one letter to Stephen McCauley because I read his book when I was in Peace Corps and had fallen in love and gotten married and his book was all about love. When I got home from Peace Corps my mother had the letter from him waiting for me. It was so touching. And real. And polite and kind. I reached out to him and he responded all about love and told me he was happy I found love. He found time, in the middle of his busy, Hollywood screenplay writing, best seller book tour, real writer schedule to not just throw me a bone, but pen a touching, connected response.

So really, when you’re going to reach, make sure it’s high, and not into a snotty clique of tragic wannabes. Whew, there, I feel better now. Gotta go scare up some Friskies Buffet…

|

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tidbitz

There's a hilarious article in the Wash Post this morning by Dana Milbank about the press briefing at the White House yesterday that turned ugly. Milbank gets in some excellent jabs--including mentioning how much makeup McClellan wore. Priceless.

People wonder why, with the bombings in London, the disaster of a war in Iraq and escalating oil prices, the press finally woke from its collective five year coma and started nipping at the heels of the administration. Simple: one of their own got jailed, generating lots of journalistic sanctimonious outrage. A day late and a dollar short.

E.J. Dionne, my boyfriend (it’s unrequited) also has a great piece on the op-ed page.He is close to being the sole voice of consistent reason, maybe in the universe. He’s writing about how Bush stuck his foot in his mouth yet again by saying we are fighting the “enemy” (there’s that all-purpose, meaningless term again. Why doesn't he just say "bad guys" and get it over with?) in Iraq and Afghanistan so we can be safe at home. Ouch.

I am sure the British will be thrilled to learn that their soldiers are fighting alongside our troops so Americans can be safer. To hell with everyone else. As for the Brits, let them eat crumpets, oh yeah, and sorry for the recent spate of bombings that had nothing whatsoever to do with your participation in the war in Iraq. I like Tony Blair A LOT, even though I have to get past the fact he looks just like Fievel. I guess he has to say the bombings were because of the British “lifestyle” and not because of the war, but it’s still a crock. In any event, man, he is smart. Proving once and for all that intelligence and power make a swimmy aphrodisiac.

|

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

If It's Not Fun...Go Talk To Someone More Neurotic Than You Are

The philosophical mindbender for today is: what is it like to enjoy your job? Anyone who knows, send me an email, wouldja? Because I WANT TO KNOW.

I look to Oprah for the big picture celebrity gratification tidal wave of Eternal “Blessed” Appreciation Syndrome (EBAS), but I come away empty. Something about not having the matching opiate money symmetry or something. Because with her, it’s the dough. You can just tell that she is getting all her “gratification” from the money and ALL it can buy. She traffics on our petty, stupid, private Bahamian villa torpor as well. DREEMS. When I watch her show (which is almost never, due to the oppressive nature of my Clydesdale lifestyle) I slobber and succumb to the 10 trillion flower surprise weddings, the queen for a day stories involving a new house for a long suffering mom and the guy who lost 800 pounds and got a new Porsche. I cry through all of it.

Anyhoo, I just don’t think that Monday mornings I should be talking myself off the ledge. This is my interior monologue on Mondays, “I am not depressed I am not depressed I am not depressed. Count blessings, start gratitude journal. I am not depressed. I love my husband. I love my kids. I am not depressed. Except I feel kind of…depressed. But I am not depressed."

Oprah’s not depressed. But Oprah’s biggest worry is getting dissed by Hermes. She has found life totalitude. Splendiferous fulfillment.

WHY DID JERRY GARCIA EVER UTTER THE WORDS: If it’s not fun don’t do it. WHY? Maybe he was talking about drugs. Fucker. Sitting around painting ties, making even more money postmortem.

Do you think you can find your inner raison d’etre through a gratitude journal? Will a makeover get things going? Microderm abrasion? Laser hair removal? If I were a hairless, microabrased, Hermes-shopping, gratitude journal writing, 800 pound Porsche aficionado, would Oprah save me? Could I cut out all this figurative wandering in the desert wondering who the next Messiah is? Because everyone knows she is alive and well and living in Chicago.

Seriously, if there were ever anything more fatuous than listening to what Oprah likes to buy, I don’t know what it is. But I follow the list RELIGIOUSLY. Some people say the rosary; I buy Oprah’s fascinations. Cuz you gotta figure if she likes it, with all the money in the universe, it’s got to be good. She had a show one time about what special things to do for your guests, because you better believe girlfriend knows how to treat a guest, and she suggested, and I kid you not, that you have soap and shampoo available for the guest that has not been used. Thanks for the tip! Wow, I never would have thought of that. You mean a guest might not want a hair-encrusted bar of soggy Ivory soap or something? Boy, I’ll have to write that one down.

I was feeling a little “unmoored,” shall we say, a few minutes ago, so I went to talk to Carol. I like Carol, but...Oh. My. Sifting through the absolutely staggering neuroses of her children, her spouse’s children and every other child that they have ever been in contact with, is like watching the welcome home party in The Graduate backwards, forwards and in super-slo mo. It made me feel like Beaver J. Cleaver inhabiting my own antiseptic bubble world. Makes my 24/7 suicide ideation look like child's play.

So remember, in the place of finding out your true calling, or the right "life path," if it’s not fun, go talk to someone more neurotic than you are (and if you just read this, you're halfway there!). Feel better. Gain perspective. Toss your gratitude journal out the window. Reconnect with your inner kook.

|

Friday, July 08, 2005

Psycho Mommy!

"Cranky" isn’t going to cover it today. "Psychotic" may be closer to reality. I need to be contained or subdued or whatever it is they do to animals in the wild that have become “unmanageable.” Oh, where to begin? Should we start with the leaky roof over the family room? Why not.

Last night we had a “flash flood" type of affair, leftovers from Hurricane Cindy, and MZA crawled out onto the roof, at 2:30 in the morning, in the rain, and applied plastic, moored with bricks. My heart officially stopped as he crouched out on the roof. I stood there to offer a hand—somehow, anyhow—like Jimmy Stewart in “Vertigo.” And I would have been just as effective. That’s when you start doing weird calculations in your head like, “If he falls, he will hit the shrubbery and so…but there’s the concrete walkway…but it’s not that high…I could leave the kids with the neighbors across the street…first call 911…right.” He came back inside. Wet, cranky, worried. The primal prairie reaction of a man protecting his home and family against the elements. Back to his wife, nervous, acrophobic Jimmy Stewart. Hi honey!

This morning was dank, gray and rainy, just the sort of Friday morning we all feel like bounding out into! Hooray! Ian thoughtfully left a half-finished bowl of cereal that I emptied into the sink with a resounding CLUNK, as a whole bowl full of coins, hidden within the opaque milk, fell into the disposal. Thanks Ian! So I fished out the coins, imbedded in the metal works of the disposal—along with mushy bits of yellow squash from last night, squishy Sugar Pops, all coated in a light milky/watery film. No really, THANKS IAN!

This caused Mommy to get “scary,” in that Joan Crawford/wire hangers kind of way when the voice goes up about 12 octaves into shrill psycho range and I turn on Nick, because he’s right there, and say “Why were these coins on the table?!?” Because nothing can be left in Ian’s path. “Things” become like straws in Ian’s tumultuous path. Books are shredded, dolls have all the air pushed out of them, we call it being “Iannized.” He has a uniquely adept ability to break or maim almost anything! Resulting in the “Ian Opera” which goes something like this: “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, STOP IT!” This refrain can be heard on all levels of the house. Replace “Stop it” with “You’re driving everyone crazy,” any old expression of abject frustration/rage/disbelief will do. Which is not to say he’s not the sunniest, lovingiest bunny in the world—he is. He doesn’t mean to destroy everything in his path. He just doesn’t know his own strength. Or something.

When the nanny comes, Nick and I are poised at the door like Olympians in a relay race, ready to pass the baton and surge to the car to MAKE THE CAMP BUS. Nidia arrives and we exchange brief pleasantries like “Hi, don’t turn on the disposal. Goodbye.” And head for the Beltway, which is never crowded on a Friday, but because it’s raining and no one wants to take the Metro after the bombings in London, it's jammed.

We pull into the camp drop-off lot with two minutes to spare AND YET the bus is pulling out of the driveway. I stop the car and wave frantically, like a GOON, violating every mother-son pact there is about not embarrassing the kid in front of everyone. But Mommy is psycho this morning, so the handbook has been thrown out the window. All bets are off. It’s take no prisoners time. The bus driver mimes signing a clipboard, at which point I almost board the bus and we come close to having another sequel to “Speed,” with me in the Dennis Hopper freak role. Yup. “I'm taking the bus! Look out kids! Don’t be embarrassed Nick!”

In my frantic scramble toward the bus, I will have you know, a parent in a car behind me has the audacity to honk, as though perhaps she cannot surmise what is happening—that a scary Dennis Hopper Mommy on the VERGE is trying to get her son, who has a Very Important pie eating contest today, on the bus for camp. I decide to leave that honker to a higher authority because I am sure there will be divine justice for that infraction. Nick races for the bus and I tartly inform the driver that I will SIGN THE CLIPBOARD.

I walk up to the friendly fun counselors looking, I am quite sure, like Jack Nicholson when he gets really pissed off in “The Shining,” lowered head, glowering eyes, crazy half smile. You remember. They kind of nervously giggle and say, “Hee hee, it was cold, so we let the kids get on the bus and it left a little early.” Well girls, what a capital idea! On a rainy Washington Friday when parents are frantically battling the elements and all the cell phone jabbering Beltway morons! Fortunately, before I can unleash my full Linda Blair pea soup fury, a daddy behind me, whose kid has not made the bus, steps forward. Ouch. Daddy looks m-a-d. Disgruntled. Postal.

I skulk away; proud of my psychotic Incredible Hulk adrenalized fury that managed to get my kid on the bus. I decide to let Postal Daddy handle the ire for the morning. I need a treat. As I walk off, I can hear Postal Daddy saying, “I have a real problem with this.” It’s fun to silently hand the anger over to someone far more angrily rational. Left to me, I would dissolve into weird crazy tears or something. Or loony invective. Something wholly ineffective. Postal Daddy has it in hand: I have a real problem with this. Good one Postal Dad! Good luck getting your kid to the new camp locale they're shuttling them off to this morning because of the Residual Hurricane!

My “treat” is an unconscionable stop at McDonalds, where my kids don’t even want to go anymore because it’s so disgusting, for a sausage biscuit. It’s true. Since McDonald’s and no other store along the way traffics in Valium or Oxycontin or any other sort of brain numbing potion, I have to settle for a vile, temporary fix of grease and cushy, biscuity insulation.

P.S. In the middle of my psycho morning rage, when I was looking for my other shoe (future postings will deal with "looking for keys," "the other shoe," etc.) Nick came up to me, this was after I screamed at him for leaving coins in Ian’s path. He said, “Thanks for all your help, Mommy.” I said, “I know I’m being awful. I’m just really stressed out.” And he said, “No, I’m serious Mommy, you’re doing a great job. Not every mother would want to pull coins out of the disposal.” Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrack—that’s the sound of my heart breaking. Thanks Nick. You’re a dude.
P.P.S. Nick won the pie eating contest!

|

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Summah Interlude

Maybe Clydesdales aren’t supposed to go on vacation. It’s too confusing.

We bolted, ladies and germs, up to the Cape, or the “Cod,” as I cleverly like to call it, for the July 4th weekend. Look out Muffy! Here comes the “blended” Catholic Muslim family ready for fun, lockjaw and Kennedy-esque respite-ry. Ooooooooooo the Cape, where everyone goes to get in touch with their inner WASP, hence all the Jewish therapists who live there year round.

Nick’s after-a-fashion namesake, Nicholas (the "Will" to my "Grace") met us at the Provincetown pier and so began our luscious sojourn among the brightly brimming fleurs, magic flat blue ocean and seductive curvy grass-topped dunes. The Cape messes with your mind because every era and style is relevant there. The ‘30’s, the ‘50’s with that mock Neutra style, the grey shingles, the white cottages, all of it. It is a place you want to be. It is a place you want to “summah.” It is a place you want to tell everyone you “summah.” It is a place you want to stake a claim on, no matter how small, how dingy, how sea weathered. Because the Cape is sea weathered, in a beautiful, muted way. The shingles all turn a lovely silver gray, as we all know, and the dunes have been smoothed to a lovely beige and grassy ripple along a sun soaked sea.


Um, I like the Cape. Can you tell? I think the bug was planted during the movie “Julia” when they showed Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett living in their house on the Vineyard. I wanted that--the writing, the sea, the arguments, the art wrought from love and rewriting and the brutal but necessary editing of a lover who also happens to be a master.

Nicholas scooped us up and placed us in his new spiffy black Acura SUV with leather seats, a navigation system, Bose speakers and a talking steering wheel, and we ascended to his crow’s nest, cozily ensconced on a steep hill amid lots of scrubby pines and plump vegetation. I love Nicholas’s house—it’s all airy and comfortable, mango colors,
hardwood floors and walls graced with husband Marc’s gorgeous warm Cape landscapes. The windows are all open and the air is light and breezy, always flowing through the open floor plan. The house has a Very Good Feeling.

Ian broke their exquisite King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Mabel’s bowl in about the first five or six seconds of arrival. Always a calming feeling! Ian is a force of nature, an out of control li’l beastie boy who is governed wholly by love and attention and his insatiable need for both and his desire to distribute both, constantly. We kissed naptime goodbye and braced for an evening with fully traveled, un-napped todds. Fun!

Nicholas and I slipped out to the Wellfleet market, which I LOVE because it’s WASPy, Witches of Eastwick, New England-y FUN. In the market, all the staff wear adorable little straw boaters, so you feel like you’ve just wandered into a WASPy version of a Renoir painting. That’s the other thing about the Cape—you like how you look in your mind cinematography a lot better. Better, say, than barreling down Interstate 270 as I do every day in a hamster 8-track loop.

Yes, walking insouciantly through downtown Wellfleet paints a much more desirable self picture than the mundane world I actually inhabit. I wore sunglasses and walked in stride with tall, buff, WASPy Nicholas and felt, dare I say it? Impervious. Brilliant! We bought delectable Wellfleet market type items that are doubly fun to buy from straw boatered Eastern European summer help, like Saga cheese, Port Salut, crackers, pinot grigio, pinot noir and creaked along the agreeable wood floors, dodging other jaunty summer wayfarers in a quest for a suitable array of potables and hors d’oeuvres to toast a summer twilight.

We made cocktails out of vodka and tangerine crush, sipped (swilled?) wine, and ordered in Italian carry-out of veal, mussels, fish and pizza. We stayed up late talking and went to bed exhausted but encased in a convivial bubble of open hearts. Next day was a trip to Corn Hill Beach, so named for the corn the pilgrims thoughtfully stole from the Native Americans back in the day and attributed to divine intervention—that God had looked out for them and magically provided with a hill of carefully harvested and collected corn. Good one.

The day was spectacular—all crystal clear skies over a gently lapping saline bay, licking the warm sand. The kids were in heaven, as only cute rubbery kid bodies can be in the delicate surf. That night we went to the Bonfire of the Lesbians on the beach, prefaced with a brief trip to the Pamet Harbor Yacht Club
for a brilliantly Americana plate of hot dogs, baked beans, red cabbage cole slaw and cold canned Bud. Nick was especially excited about the bonfire as he harbors tremendous California/surfer fantasies and this was the perfect Moondoogie event. Hang ten! The lesbians were all very friendly and the food was yummy—lentils, potato salad, grilled London broil and a big spinach salad with strawberries.

Next morning, Nicholas and Marc took Nick and me on a boat ride on their new boat, docked at Pamet Yacht Club. We went through Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown Harbor, past the famous tip of the Cape that curls around in a beckoning crooked finger—all Edward Hopper tilted sailboat images.
MZA and the babies were landlocked at Corn Hill Beach building sand castles and going Geronimo into the water. Nicholas made an impromptu picnic of rosemary ham and Jarlsburg sandwiches that we ate on the boat before Nick and I swam to shore so MZA could help out with putting the boat on a trailer.

We revitalized in the hot tub, soaked in the sun, Nicholas took Nick to Longnook Beach, beneath the high orange cliff dunes to boogie board. It was all too short, and yet perfect. Our last night we made grilled chicken and vegetables, had Ben and Jerry’s, put the babies to bed and watched two episodes from the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore show.

Next morning we got muffins for the journey and hopped the ferry back to Boston and a water taxi to the airport to fly back to Baltimore. Somewhere in the Amelia Earhart terminal of Logan airport I thought I had certainly lost my mind as both babies ran in circles around me, Cowboys 'n Indians style. On the puddle jumper Embraer “jet,” Daisy lurched back and forth, dropped her bear and/or sippy cup into the aisle about 500 times and then, unbelievably, fell asleep on my lap.

The reason it’s confusing for Clydesdales to go on vacation is that sometimes they return from their sojourns deeply depressed and inconsolable about the nature of their routine-driven lives. The overwhelming schedule, the logistics of commuting, making the bus for Nick’s camp each day, coming into the dysfunctional, displeasing atmosphere of an office led by the autocratic, appalling, tactless Maralago—these are the reasons maybe it is better for the Clydesdale to remain on the deeply grooved, trodden path with the blinders firmly secured, so as not to see the wide, mango colored, art splashed world by the sea that is so elusive.

Thanks Nicholas and Marc for a lovely respite.

|

Cynicism is another word for reality

Email me, you derelict wastrel

Image hosting by Photobucket

  • Self-Aggrandizing Slut
  • Finale
  • Ian's Cooking Show
  • Spring is the Cruellest Month
  • The Diasporic 1980's Film Festival, with a Special...
  • Happy Anniversary to...Zeldafitz!!!!
  • HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!
  • Poems in Response to the War
  • Saving the World: One Bee at a Time
  • Sex with Bob Newhart or Che? I'm going with Che......



  • Gargoyle Magazine
  • Paycock Press "Enhanced Gravity: More Fiction by Washington Area Women"(JUNE 2006!!!!)
  • Chattahoochee Review Winter 2002
  • Main Street Rag, Volume 7, Number 4, Winter 2003
  • Pangolin Papers Spring 2001


  • Gargoyle Magazine
  • Gorgeous Cape Cod Paintings
  • Mimi Smartypants
  • The New Yorker
  • ninjapoodles
  • Rabbit Blog
  • Reader of Depressing Books
  • Sexy Brussels Lady
  • Suburban Bliss
  • Thumbless Wonder
  • The Washington Post
  • I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Wino
  • Weaker Vessel
  • Gingajoy
  • MOM101
  • Suburban Turmoil
  • The Wit Memo
  • - Crazy/Hip Blog-Mamas+




    Designed by Troll Baby Graphics