Thursday, August 18, 2005

Landslide

I don’t think it’s a good idea to say that I got really choked up this morning listening to Stevie Nicks singing “Landslide,” but there you go. Choked up on the Beltway headed toward the Mormon temple, spinning around the concrete steel toward the ganderlands, with hot fat choked tears about to spill from my pink eyelip curl down m’cheek.

BECAUSE we used to have this boat in Minnesota, a Century Arabian, with maroon and gold seats that had a cassette player that played 8-track tapes. And we had three (3) 8-track tapes that summer we retrieved from my cousin’s house: The Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue,” Pure Prairie League ( I am proud to say I have no idea what the name of the album was), and a Fleetwood Mac cassette with Stevie Nicks singing “Landslide.”

So what we would do is, Moira, Lissy and I would play “Landslide” over and over and over and over and over again. Lying on the soft cushiony padded layers of the Century Arabian, out on the bay, we felt compelled for reasons that are still mysterious, to play “Landslide.” It thusly became this sort of anthemic memory of when we lay between our youth and our inevitability.

It was a loaded time in that my father died that summer—July 27th 1980. I was 17 and very numb and mean. My mother and I were in a post-death limbo and so we did the only thing we knew to do and repaired to our beloved Brideshead. Relatives shifted schedules and opened doors and we found ourselves, through Aunt Frances’s kindness, at Bayside, a soaring knotty pine paneled house on the bay.

My mother and I were occupying separate realms of grief—she sat at the card table beneath a Tiffany lamp in the living room and wrote responses to all the sympathy cards. I sat on the dock and read Lady Chatterley’s Lover with my highlighter.

Then Moira and Lissy came and we ate about fourteen tons of Rondele cheese and Double Stuff Oreos. Lissy lay on the tennis court, slathered herself with Hawaiian Tropic, and said, "I am going to have a SAVAGE TAN!"

We drank Heileman’s Special Export—which was a nod to my father in its own way because he always drank the local beer wherever he was and read the local paper. No matter what. Because he was a journalist first and he believed in adapting to indigenous climes, which is also why he made a great Foreign Service Officer.

Before Moira and Lissy got there, I was a petulant bitch (I know this comes as a shock). I mean, I was already a bitch just by virtue of being a fucked up teenager, but my father’s premature death emboldened my attitude to a toxic level.

My cousin Aubrey saved me that summer by coming to my princess bedroom in Bayside, where I lay on my bed listening to Bruce Springsteen croon “New York City Serenade” over and over and over again on a small cassette player. He lay at the foot of the bed, on his stomach, and he said, “You know what? If you keep acting like this, no one is going to care about you.”

When he left, the only lyrics that jumped out at me were, Sandy, the fireworks are hailing over little Eden tonight/forcing a light into all those stony faces/left stranded on this warm July. I felt like I had been spoken to and was being spoken to—that the fireworks were the revelation to me, in my own Little Eden, and that someone had forced a light into my stony face, after I’d been stranded on a warm July. It was an epiphany.

And I never looked back. Because what I realized was, I had been experiencing a manufactured depression and attitude and when something happened that was genuinely depressing, I needed to overcome it, not nurture it. If for nothing else than to honor my father.

So that’s why I cry sometimes when I hear “Landslide.”

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dear Olde Macalester

My alma mater was named HOTTEST LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE by Newsweek magazine, which confirms what we already knew, that all graduates of the HOTTEST LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE in America are the smartest people in the world.

(And that we know the difference between Henry Miller and D. H. Lawrence)

(Time for my Meow Mix)

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Do Not Fuck with Henry Miller. Ever.

A certain smart ass blog bitch is now officially dead to me. Not because she insulted Henry Miller, which she did, but because she INCORRECTLY insulted Henry Miller. And I don't like that. Because I am a cranky macabre Bette Davis lookalike. Here's what she wrote:


"Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into itself." That sounds like something Henry Miller would yammer on about.

As fucking IF, is what I say. I think what our smart-assed "friend" was trying to "cleverly" "mock," is perhaps the style of another well-known sensual writer, named D. H. Lawrence, who wrote "Figs" that was included in the film version of his novel Women in Love:

(Just a guess, but I think he is using the fig as a metaphor for the
V-A-G-I-N-A. See if you concur.)

"Figs"

by: D.H. Lawrence, not Henry Miller, who tended to compare women's asses to pinwheels and waxed plenty rhapsodic about women's sexuality, but in a much less fruity, shall we say, way.

The proper way to eat a fig, in society,
Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower.

Then you throw away the skin
Which is just like a four-sepalled calyx,
After you have taken off the blossom with your lips.

But the vulgar way
Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in one bite.

Every fruit has its secret.
The fig is a very secretive fruit.

As you see it standing growing, you feel at once it is symbolic:
And it seems male.
But when you come to know it better, you agree with the Romans, it is female.

The Italians vulgarly say, it stands for the female part; the fig-fruit:
The fissure, the yoni,
The wonderful moist conductivity towards the centre.

Involved,
Inturned,
The flowering all inward and womb-fibrilled;
And but one orifice.

The fig, the horse-shoe, the squash-blossom.
Symbols.
There was a flower that flowered inward, womb-ward;
Now there is a fruit like a ripe womb.
It was always a secret.
That's how it should be, the female should always be secret.
There never was any standing aloft and unfolded on a bough
Like other flowers, in a revelation of petals;
Silver-pink peach, venetian green glass of medlars and sorb-apples,
Shallow wine-cups on short, bulging stems
Openly pledging heaven:
Here's to the thorn in flower! Here is to Utterance!
The brave, adventurous rosaceæ.

Folded upon itself, and secret unutterable,
And milky-sapped, sap that curdles milk and makes ricotta,
Sap that smells strange on your fingers, that even goats won't taste it;
Folded upon itself, enclosed like any Mohammedan woman,
Its nakedness all within-walls, its flowering forever unseen,
One small way of access only, and this close-curtained from the light;
Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,
Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilisation, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see
Till it's finished, and you're over-ripe, and you burst to give up your ghost.

Till the drop of ripeness exudes,
And the year is over.
And then the fig has kept her secret long enough.
So it explodes, and you see through the fissure the scarlet.
And the fig is finished, the year is over.

That's how the fig dies, showing her crimson through the purple slit
Like a wound, the exposure of her secret, on the open day.
Like a prostitute, the bursten fig, making a show of her secret.

That's how women die too.
The year is fallen over-ripe,
The year of our women.
The year of our women is fallen over-ripe.
The secret is laid bare.
And rottenness soon sets in.
The year of our women is fallen over-ripe.

When Eve once knew in her mind that she was naked
She quickly sewed fig-leaves, and sewed the same for the man.
She'd been naked all her days before,
But till then, till that apple of knowledge, she hadn't had the fact on her mind.

She got the fact on her mind, and quickly sewed fig-leaves.
And women have been sewing ever since.
But now they stitch to adorn the bursten fig, not to cover it.
They have their nakedness more than ever on their mind,
And they won't let us forget it.

Now, the secret
Becomes an affirmation through moist, scarlet lips
That laugh at the Lord's indignation.

What then, good Lord! cry the women.
We have kept our secret long enough.
We are a ripe fig.
Let us burst into affirmation.

They forget, ripe figs won't keep.
Ripe figs won't keep.

Honey-white figs of the north, black figs with scarlet inside, of the south.
Ripe figs won't keep, won't keep in any clime.
What then, when women the world over have all bursten into affirmation?
And bursten figs won't keep?



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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Anatomy of Fatigue

I can honestly say, without any exaggeration, guile, or self aggrandizement, that I have never been so tired in my entire life. Even after giving birth to each of my babies. In addition, today I look like this . Except my eyes are puffier. I am fuh-king tired. I would be flatlining were it not for the artificially rendered heart beats that are being spurred by a near constant infusion of Diet Coke.

I just found out I have to write 20 more “things.” Added at the last minute. I am supposed to be finished, what with passing the Deadline of August 1st and all. It's kinda like telling Lance Armstrong he has another 20 kilometers up an alp or two before he can be champagne soaked on the Champs Elysees. I want my champagne soaked moment NOW.

Besides the Diet Coke, there is a magical white painted house with a stone fireplace that faces a small bay on a big lake. My grandparents built that house in 1939, plank by plank, and my grandmother picked each stone for the fireplace. The bay is named after an Indian squaw who was married to a Canadian trapper. If you could marry a place, I would marry that place. My ashes will be spread on that bay. I have dragged two babies at 6 weeks and 2 weeks to that bay to baptize them there. The third baby had to wait until she was almost one to see it. She greeted the bay with open arms.
I love Cimono Bay. And I hope to be there in a coupla days watching the water ripple like a liquid Hope diamond, surrounded by soft wild grass and light sand, accented by a cobalt blue pitcher full of crayon colored zinnias.

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Friday, August 12, 2005

The Muse Vulture and the Bliss of Subtly Allusioned Sex

This is what happens when you meet your deadline and you're sitting at your desk in a post-fallout torpor, like a sun gassed cat, surfing the Web. I fully disclose I found this book review by Sandra Tsing Loh through Mimi Smartypants this morning. The whole thing is faaaaaaaascinating.

This woman, Maria Housden, has written a memoir about her decision to leave her husband and two children because she needs to get with her inner creative slothmonkey. But there is a really sad part too, she is basically recounting the catalyst for all of this life change, and that is the death of her first daughter, Hannah, to cancer at age three (I don't even like typing that it's so sad). So it is a very prickly pear this. Very.

You would think it would be hard to tarnish such a fully loaded Oprah moment. And yet she does, but in a way that is so 1970's-softfocus-cheeseball-sunset-photocard that it is almost cathartic. Because there is the very sad aspect, and then there is the sidesplitting aspect. Like a plunge in a cool lake following a sauna or something.

The review is amazingly and insightfully written. Sandra Tsing Loh (where has SHE been all my life?) is a writer/performace artist/musician. Here's an excerpt of the review:

Enter, to the artists' retreat, Roger Housden -- English writer, photographer, and explorer of such exotic places as Africa and India. Although he's fifty-three and she's thirty-five, the two speak a similar metaphysical language. He is given to utterances like "Beauty, Beauty, you are the sun." And later, when he asks in wonder, "Who are you?," she elatedly replies, with typical Boomer math, "I am the second half of your life." Roger exudes boyishness and a kind of heady European sophistication; personal details given include both that he wears clogs and has a medicine kit containing Eternity cologne and a tiny bottle of tea-rose oil. Often seen sweaty and wearing only running shorts, he is described rapturously as having a "mossy, musky" scent.
Here is an except of the memoir, Unraveled:

Soft, moist mouths, bellies rising and falling, swollen, oozing, trembling, I had felt my heart, petal by petal, gently opening. I had been both in my body and outside it as he entered me, as we stared into each other, eyes wide open. "We are there," he had whispered, his eyes filling with tears. Later, he had gradually unwound his body from our embrace and, kneeling at the foot of the bed, pressed his hands together in a posture of prayer, then lifted and kissed my feet.

She came back from the writer's retreat and left her kids, giving her ex-husband full custody with summer rights for her. This brings up many issues. Yes it does. First of which is, "kissed my feet"???????? Gross! Sex buzz kill if there ever was one. Oh yeah, and abandoning your family for your muse. The stress of the 21st century mommysaurus. I know a little bit about that. And sometimes in the dark heart of my brittle vile insanity, when I think about how nice it would be to actually be in a round rubber room with my arms strapped securely to my being, I think: could I leave my family for a month* and go to a writer's colony? I think, is it because I have three children eight and under and a ball-busting full time job the reason why I have not written TGAN? Here's what I tell myself: no excuses. It's the Nike defense--just do it. And I get back up on the pony and guide him over the jump again.

This does not make me a better person than the petal opening foot fetishista, in all seriousness. OK, maybe it does make me a better person. Because MZA just called me and we are out of swim diapers and I need to leave a little early so we can pick them up on the way to the pool ce soir. So I can't finish this post with all of its unresolved post-feminist dilemmas. Chalk it up to Swimpers.

*Note: a month, not forever with an option for summer months

And finally, this moment brought to you by e.e.cummings (as a way to cleanse the cheeseball 1970's sunset photocard musky moment above):

...meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the mud et

cetera
(dreaming,
et
cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)

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Neil Diamond: Antichrist?

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Birthday Boy Turns Three

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Job Interview

I went for a joooooooooooob interview yesterday. It’s true. For a really good place that does worthwhile, excellent, commendable, global, productive work. I’m totally serious.

Amazingly enough, I do really well in interviews. It is a stunning phenomenon. Also, my resume looks pretty good. My career is something that seems to have happened while I was VERY busy making other plans—to riff on John Lennon’s phrase. Sometimes I look at my resume and I think: who the hell did all that stuff? Surely it wasn’t me! But it was. And I am not bragging or being arrogant, because that is not my way. It is so not my way that I had an epiphany, or more precisely a re-epiphany, about myself yesterday: I am terrible at self-promotion. Let’s just keep it that way. Except for this: I looked so good for the interview. I mean not my hair, of course, but I have given up on the hair part of life for now.

I dusted off ye olde Talbot’s blue claaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasic blazer, put on an opaque, cream colored lace shell and a navy blue column skirt—ankle length—with a subtle pattern that compliments the lace shell.

I was a little nervous about two things, which will reveal in no uncertain terms what a dork I am, and also that I live in another era and on another planet. My first worry was that I would be wearing sandals for the interview because I couldn't scare up a last minute pair of navy pumps from Nordstrom Rack the other day. Therefore, I would not be wearing stockings* for the interview! Zut alors! I thought, in my quaint another-era-way, does one wear sandals with no stockings and a blazer? Does someone go to an interview in sandals and no stockings? The agony.

[*Seriously, I just can't call them "hose," for the life of me]

Then, here’s the kicker, I was worried that I had not purchased a navy blue purse to match the entire ensemble. Clearly, I need a rest. From a lot of things, mainly from manners and good breeding. Because really, they have become like the appendix: obsolete.

I put on my fabulous, classic, tasteful pearl chocker and pearl earrings. Then I did something cataclysmic. I recently ran out of my regular perfume, so I went to the linen closet and pulled out eau de 1980’s, Ysatis by Givenchy. Oh yes, ladies and germs, full throttle. I think “Ysatis” actually means “Jungle Gardenia Ripple” en francais. I spritzed a spritz onto my neck and was attacked by a virulent strangular scent that was more than overpowering; it was post-atomic. It did not so much “spritz” as “detonate.” But this is what you do, you think, no one will notice. Right. So I go downstairs and Nidia, our nanny, says, “What is that perfume?” Uh-oh.

I get in the car and, honest to God, I have to roll down the window in the unforgiving August blaze to cut through the fog of the Gardenia Mushroom Cloud. With ylang ylang undertones. And I am running late, which does to me what germs did to Howard Hughes: it makes me c-r-a-z-y. Not that I need any help.

I frantically pulled into a parking garage and the guy demanded $14 UP FRONT. Of course, also like Howard Hughes, I never carry cash. I nearly went freak on the parking guy but he was calm, as many Third World habitués are when they deal with someone who is acting like an enormous child, and he quietly pointed me down the street to another garage. I backed up and nearly took out several pedestrians who all looked more frightened of my consternated face than they did of the imposing backside of my mini SUV.

I parked and walked the two blocks to the building. It was weird to be downtown again after all this time. I worked there for about 50 years, give or take. I have worked in every office building and on every single street of downtown DC. Seriously. If I ever, God forbid, lost my sight, I could honestly tap out the spaces to the Wachovia bank on Connecticut Avenue or the Borders on 18th and L. Or, more realistically, to the Post Pub at 15th and L. Goldfish and drafts!!!!

Anyways, I felt like a transported creature walking down the streets of my former city. I definitely “stood out,” what with the blue blazer in August and all. Because all the other people had already gotten their jobs and so they could wear linen burlap sacks and fuzzy suede bottomed comfort sandals. Ah, the loveable hypocrisy of America. In order to get a job you have to put on the monkey outfit and dance to the job hunt tune. Or maybe you don’t, but in addition to my Emily Post problems, I have superstition problems, and I will never be able to show up for an interview without being In Costume.

Navigating sidewalks in one-size-too-big strappy sandals is not so easy. And as I walked, I could see a cartoon white aroma cloud following me like the one that hovers over Pepe le Pew. Except instead of skunk, my scent was Jungle Nuclear Gardenia Travesty.

I got to the 7th floor, and the receptionist gave me a packet and told me to go to the 8th floor. As you might know from a previous post, the past week and a half has involved this sort of musical floors theatre of the absurd aspect. I was apprehensive that it was Not a Good Sign, but it ended up being fine. I loved the interview because I loved being asked questions I could answer and asking questions I wanted to have answered.

Seriously, this place is doing very, very good work. But I think I am overqualified for the job. C'est vrai. However, it would be nice to be offered the job and to maybe take it, because it will put me on a good path in terms of working on programs that help people in developing countries, something I would like very much.

It was nice getting out into the world and walking on city streets again. It was strange to see my face reflected on all the glass windows as I walked. It was older and different from the face of the girl who used to traverse those streets in the 80’s and 90’s. But the blazer helped out, in making me look sleek, fabulous, professional and weird and out of date.

But I had confidence! And that’s all that counts.

P.S. After the interview, I took the serendipitous time that I had available and went to see my mother in The Joint, as I like to call it. She's in an assisted living place, that is the nicest place in the entire universe. It is decorated like the set of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford's house on All My Children. Love it!

I found her in the dining room and it was custom omelette day. I walked into the room and you have to feel very self-confident to do that at The Joint, because ALL EYES are on ya. Here is where a blue blazer comes in very handy.

My mother looked up and threw her hand in the air delightedly and said, "I hardly recognized you!" This is why we love mothers. So proud when you have made the effort to look nice! Classic lines look so much better on you! Etc.

We had a lovely afternoon back up in her apartment with the sun shining through the bay windows. She looked so good and like herself. She walked me down to my car and said, "I thank God for you everyday, Lele."

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Endless Summer, Not Just for Man-Eating Aliens Anymore

It is Tuesday. The Hispanic office maid is vacuuming. Sue Who’s 72 is having her 10th MRI. It is peaceful at the Preserve. Post hurdle as we are.

I took Nick to the dentist yesterday and used that diversion as an excellent excuse to take him to the movies and forego the perfunctory “return to the office mid afternoon” charade. We saw Madagascar, which was cute and all, but not THAT cute. Not as cute as everyone would have you believe. The big thing now is to say, "Adults will like it too!!!" All those swell inside jokes. The only inside joke I liked was a reference to my FAVORITE Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man,” when aliens come to earth and convince humans to go to their planet because they are humanitarians. The aliens leave a book with the earthlings and the decoding team translates the title of the book as, “To Serve Man.” That sort of proves to the earthlings that the aliens did come in peace. So earthlings start loading up on the spaceships and setting out for Planet Alien. But then the decoding team translates further and finds out the book, “To Serve Man,” is a COOKBOOK. Love it.

I’m sad that Peter Jennings died. I had one of my accidental premonitions that he would. A nagging fluttering unease in the milliseconds of sleeplessness—nothing prolonged or well thought out—just a feeling from nowhere that he was slipping.

Heather Havrilesky is hilarious and I know she’s writing about TV, but I always like it a lot better when she writes about life before she gets to the TV part. The first part of this article is about work and summer and Europeans and it made me laugh because it’s so damn REAL.

Newsflash: it’s still August. It’s raining, sloppy petulant rain. I had La Brea Tar Pit chicken wings for lunch. Good recipe. I made them yesterday in the luxurious insane splendor of not being at work and actually being at home with my sleeping babies and post-movie Nick playing on the computer. Dinner was ready when MZA came home, as it should be, as he wants it to be, as I wish it were.

Searching for life balance. In August. Endless summer, not just for man-eating aliens anymore.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

There is No Free Lunch

I set off this morning for the Mothership because I had some pesky paperwork to drop off. I found a metered parking spot right in front of the building, which might have given me a false sense of hope, had I not known from the get-go that there was no need for a false sense of hope.

I went to the 12th floor and was greeted by the insufferably rude and blasé receptionist, Laurel. I told her I needed to go to the 11th floor and to please call Sally and ask her to let me in. See, when your day starts with all these weird, tortuous, up/down, 11th floor/12th floor, call-and-buzz-me-in kinds of convoluted stuff, then you might as well just hang it up. Because a theme is being set in the cosmos for your day.

Laurel, in her fabulously noncommittal way, said, “You can call her yourself from the phone downstairs. It’s 4545.”

I wasn’t operating on all cylinders, due to an ongoing, unresolved coffee problem and this almost convulsive fatigue, so I went downstairs and called Sally from the phone outside the moated walls of the 11th floor. Sally is like Jack Torrence in The Shining, she is always there. She has always been there. If they tore down the building, she would still be there. HOWEVER, of a Friday morn, when I needed her most, she was not there. At 9:00 a.m., on a desolate August morning, NO ONE was there. So I stormed back up the stairs. I knew I was in kind of a nuclear phase of fatigue/hormonal imbalance/uncaffienated bitchiness, where I start blurting out things I would normally keep confined to the polite recesses of my mind. I said to Laurel, “The whole point of me having you call her was to make sure she was there.” GRUMPY! She retorted something equally venomous, that I ignored. She finally got someone to let me in downstairs, and I dropped off the paperwork and walked back out to the heat and my car, with the 12 pack of Diet Coke in the passenger seat, my only friend in this world.

I got to work, and was pissed off to have to be there after this helatious four months or however long this “project” has been going on, that has sucked the marrow out of my very being. I was there for one reason: we were getting a “free” lunch for all of our hard work. We were supposed to get it from our favorite place—the place where our firm goes for our “thank you” banquets, called Celebrity Deli. It has, no kidding, the best New York style deli sandwiches ever, with pasta salad in balsamic vinaigrette and chevre cheese, red cabbage cole slaw, kosher pickles and cheesecake brownies. Yes. It’s very naughty and very good. Like me.

But our “boss,” the Linebacker in Drag, Maralago, who is on an “extended leave,” told our administrative assistant that she would order the lunch. Wha’? Because you see, Maralago is an “event planner” on the side. Here’s the deal, when someone tells you they are an “event planner,” run. Just run. Hyacinth, my “eccentric” neighbor, is also an “event planner.” Somewhere, somehow, they got it into their heads that they are really good at entertaining and coordinating and “pulling things together,” and so they decide to make a business out of this fantastic perceived talent. The only problem is, in order to entertain successfully; you have to have 1) good taste, 2) a soul, and 3) some class. I can say, unequivocally, that Hyacinth and Maralago have no class. Not even a touch. So I sat at my desk stewing and thinking, “I just want my free lunch.” And then I tried to log onto my computer and all hell broke loose.

We’ve been having a log on carousel phantasmagoric blitzkrieg for the past few weeks and, since we are all so cute and charming, the computer dudes on the other side of the floor have always looked out for us. We had the surfer computer dude who set me up with all kinds of beyond-the-firewall courtesies, and now we have my little friend Victor, who waives all the formal paperwork for me and just comes to my computer and gives me what I want because he can sense my feral untamed nature and knows that it needs to be placated.

I stormed over to “Doug,” the new computer maestro, and he said, “What is your name?” I told him and he said, “We’ve been waiting for you.” I’m not kidding. “Doug” is a little needle nosed rodential sort of man. If this were a movie and there was a mouse who suddenly transmogrified into a man, that would be our Doug. The Mouseman Cometh. He has a bald pate on top, a receding mouselike chin, a beaky nose and, here’s my favorite feature, he has little tufts of fur right above each knuckle. I don’t even want to think about his back, because I know it is a ruglike haven of black tufty fur.

I took off on him, I took off on his colleague Patty, with the horrendous pictures of two no-necked monster sons proudly featured on her credenza. I took off on grumpy Pete, who sits in his office looking at porn and gets pissed when you come by for anything. He of the perma-stubble and the endless sigh. I went back and found our client, Mr. Cardigan, and took off on him. He brings out the beeyatch 16 year old in me because he is such a perma-dad. He’s just a dad. He has a “Best Dad in the World” mug in his office and a perma-cardigan, and a hangdog expression that says he has had the masculinity summarily stamped out of him by years of marriage and suburban torpor and way too many years of government “service.”

When there was no one else to take off on, I went back to my desk and took off my glasses and buried my head in my keyboard. And thought about the free lunch. My colleague came by to say that lunch had arrived. They laid it out in the big supply room. Thanks for all the hard work guys! Except no one said, “thank you.” They just put out the food like keepers in a zoo: here. Here’s your reward. Keep balancing the ball on your nose like a good seal. Except I think the seals get better food. Maralago ordered food for 60, even though we only have 30 people in the office. This was not out of generosity or kindness, and did not have anything to do with her gratitude for all of our hard work that she wouldn’t know about since she went on an “extended leave” at precisely the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th minute that our project was due. But that’s another story.

Our administrative assistant, Carole, told me the catering invoice was dated for March of this year, and that she thinks Maralago had to cancel an “event” with this caterer and this was her way of making it up to him, on our company’s dime. And so we, the hardest working people in show business, were the happy recipients of an ill-gotten lunch, a crummy substitute for our own beloved deli.

There were bland meats wrapped in stale tortillas; a curry chicken salad made with canned chicken and whole green grapes; sodden, overcooked zucchini and bloated snow peas; a limp array of “mixed greens” with a glamorous bottle of green goo on the side; some individual bags of Lays potato chips; warm cans of soda, heated to perfection in the August sun; and some crumbly “gourmet” cookies with greasy oversized hunks of chocolate.

I took my plate back to my desk, bypassing the clusters of people gathered in conference rooms, and marinated in my misanthropy. I went to the kitchen for some ice, to take the heat off of my soda, and Sue Who's 72 was holding court with a table of younguns. She pulled up a chair for me and I sat with them and got even more depressed, because my timing was off and every time I opened my mouth to say something, no one heard me and the guy next to me just looked at me. I sort of closed my mouth and smiled to pretend it didn’t matter that I kept saying things that suddenly got swallowed in an unexpected swell of laughter or banter.

I took my leave of the table and went back to my desk. Of course I ate the stupid cookie. Then I thought, I just need to go home. But first, I need to stop at Nordstrom Rack. Not always such a great idea because for some reason, this Nordstrom Rack is a magnet for some of the most irritating people on earth. Last time it was a bald muscle man with a headset phone bellering inanities, this time it was Horrible Vile Mommy yelling at her Horrible Vile Children.

I mostly grazed in the baby clothes section, then I checked out and drove home. I didn’t feel happy and crazily elated as I usually do when I am sprung early. I felt disconcerted—that post tantrum swelling of the eyes and the heart still fluttering from adrenaline and anger. I came home and the babies woke up and were so cute. I gave them their new clothes. I got Ian some “pipes,” those long surfer shorts and a surfer tank and Daisy got a bunch of stuff including a seersucker halter dress that she wanted to put on immediately.

I tried to watch Oprah amid an ongoing toy fight. Then, just when it got to the Oprah payola moment, when your heart surges and you put your hands to your face because the emotion is so strong, Ian stood in front of the TV and I couldn’t see the mother of the drunk driver who crashed into a woman and burned her alive, lean over to hug the brave resolute wreckage of a woman, disfigured horrendously by burns. Oprah said the "moment" for her was when the burn victim leaned over to hug the mother and said, “It’s OK.” I cried. Tried to regain some perspective. Oprah is really good at teaching you that! I still felt deflated—I think anticlimactic is the word.

The whole time I was walking through Nordstrom Rack, I kept thinking, “being and nothingness, being and nothingness.” And I knew I was a capitalist pig for being in there for “retail therapy.” I questioned why I was buying into that whole thing of buying stuff to make myself feel better. Then I looked at the pink terry cloth two-piece outfit I got Daisy. And I felt a little better, in spite of myself.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Of Gas Masks and Divas

I’m now a member of the “I was here until 11:00 p.m.” asshole club. And now that I have done it, everyone has to be impressed. None of my jaded cynicism can’t-you-set-your-life-priorities bullshit. Now I also know why people who stay at work until 11:00 p.m. tell everyone they can get their hands on—because it SUCKS and you deserve a medal for it. The only good thing is, Jon Stewart is on in real time at 11:30 p.m., when you finally cross the threshold.

Cold leftover homemade French fries for “dinner” then plop down on the couch in sort of a weird haze to watch Jon Stewart be brilliant with the infinitely elegant Fareed Zakaria from Newsweek.

Look in at Ian in the upper bunk. He rustles and sighs and turns, air hugging his stuffed pony that is too low for him to reach. Check on Daisy. At that time of night they have been asleep for so long they are in a deep blue trance, their little faces slack with complete submission to slumber. That is when you are witness to pure innocence. Honestly. Then into bed for a toss turn, when the fatigue is so acute, sleep won’t come.

Morning, more bad goofed up coffee—still haven’t been to the store to replenish supply—exercise on the elliptical, read the Post, then look out above the shutters of the family room and observe a man in a gas mask with light blue HazMat gloves surveying Boo and Hyacinth’s house. He has some sort of sophisticated night goggle camera apparatus. It’s like living next door to John Wayne Gacy for crying out loud. I stand there at the window, partially obscured by the shutters, feeling every inch like Mrs. Cravitz from Bewitched. “Abner!!!!!!!!!!!!”

It’s 7:30 in the morning, but I just have to run this by an eyewitness, so I call Barbara and Marie across the street. Barbara sounds a little sleepy but I know she will want to be alerted to this neighborhood development. She says, in her inimitable, polite, kind-person way, “Is this sort of thing consistent with Boo and Hyacinth?” As in, are they always tied to weird ritualistic freak incidents? I stifle a, “yes,” And mumble something noncommittal.

I call T and she says, “Go out there and ask him what he’s doing! Tell him you need to know if it’s chemicals. You have kids!” Kids! That’s right. So I walk out sheepishly to the front stoop and ask the masked man, as he is about to ascend a step ladder to inspect the roof, what he is doing. He says he is just inspecting the house. I say, “For hazardous materials? Because I have kids!” He laughs and says no, it’s just a regular inspection. Another link in the chain of hope that they’re moving!

I get ready and stop again at Starfuckers for a Bucket Skim Latte—they should look into a “bucket” size because the venti isn’t cutting it for me anymore. Man, Starbucks is quite the scene, ain’t it? Man. I had this mosquito woman in front of me and I was right about to swat her out of my path. She had the pony tail, the flowered nylon running shorts, the racer back running bra with a turquoise tank over it, and she kept pacing back and forth in front of me getting organic chocolate milks and donuts—obviously filling a multiple kid order while still trying to get her caffeine fix. I wanted to tell her to just go to 7-11 and get it over with. Hmm, someone’s grumpy. I WONDER WHY. Then the blaze up the Interstates to the Gooselands only to receive a dramatic message informing me that Sue Who’s 72 has had yet another convoluted dramatic incident that has prevented her from coming to work by noon.

Sue is a diva. No, excuse me, she is a D-I-V-A. Having been raised by a diva and exposed to all her virulently strong diva friends all my life, I am an experienced diva handler. Kind of like the crocodile dude. I am a diva whisperer. But since I’m getting a little cranky and because Sue the Diva’s sloppy work is one of the reasons I was HERE UNTIL 11:00 P.M. LAST NIGHT, my diva handling skills are waning. The diva patience is ebbing.

Since she has worked here—she is an overpaid consultant—she has been to the emergency room to get a contact out, she has been to the eye doctor twice, she had an MRI for another ailment, her electricity in her building went out and the garage door wouldn’t open, her friend was diagnosed with leukemia and she wants Sue to come to Buenos Aires with her, she lost the keys to her house and had to have the keys re-made, the computer ate her document, her home hard drive crashed, and this morning she was back at the eye doctor. You know what? Divas are a pain in the ass. Period.

Then our client, Mr. Potato Head, came up to me this morning, gleeful, because he had found a sentence that was vague!!!!! And he wanted me to take it out. Right on it Tater Head. It’s what I like to call “fiddling while Rome burns.” He is so excited to have a perceived “role” in this mammoth process that he’s giddy.

Grrr.

Onward ho! When this project is over, and when Boo and Hyacinth move out, we’re going to have an all-night champagne bacchanal. You’re invited.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Mr Ed, Hyacinth and Boo

The thing about working all weekend is that you run out of diaper wipes and coffee. Also your babies greet you at the door with such loving adoration it’s painful. Daisy must have buried her head into me, at all levels (knee, chest, shoulder) about 50 times. I am not given to gratuitous warm cake mommy nerdiness, but I swooned.

Pete Yorn (you’re gonna thank me for this link) is this week’s car CD perma-peat featured artist. Featured repeatable ad infinitum songs: “Strange Condition” and “Just Another” from musicforthemorningafter.

I realized that I will have no retirement fund after all because I stopped at Starbucks again this morning due to a disastrous combination of leftover Ghirardelli chocolate coffee grinds mixed with an emergency stash of Chock Full O’ Nuts. Note to Starfuckerbucks: Not fair to lace the coffee with addictive crack.

I love my neighborhood because it reminds me of all my favorite ‘50’s sitcoms, especially Mr. Ed. Comforting slate rock fireplaces and smartass equine humor. I learned, from Mr. Ed, a rule about prepositions that I can’t remember right now.

That prayerful keening sound you hear is MZA and me hoping against hope that our neighbors, Hyacinth and Boo Radley (aka Weirdly and Creepella Gruesome), are actually moving away!!!!! There has been a lot of nocturnal activity. Boo has been ridding the ole homestead of a lifetime supply of motherboards, monitors and dust caked spindle headboards.

Hyacinth hired a crack team of redneck “landscapers” to mow down the crabgrass, ten foot weeds and man eating plants in order to plant New Guinea impatiens. A trained chimp coulda done it, but I think Hyacinth was down with the whole “hired help” scenario.

Each day a new accoutrement is carefully added to the “trying to look normal” tableau. A slate colored obedient dog statue, two “spontaneously” placed green plastic Adirondack chairs, a fun creative "my kids only engage in imaginative play" turbo plastic log cabin.

Now all that remains is a white tornado to sandblast 50 years of eccentric living from the façade. Keep your fingers crossed. I’ve lost the circulation in mine.

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What I Learned This Summer

It's Sunday. I am at work. Some things I learned this summer:
  • I have a rapacious work ethic
  • I can use rapacious in a sentence
  • I am a recovering slacker
  • I like being a slacker better
  • People are full of shit (not so much learned as reinforced)
  • Music=survival
  • BlogHer is a convention meant to make us neophytes feel like uninvited prom dates
  • Lots of bloggers are bipolar
  • Sex is about release without contrivances and artifical ingredients
  • Sex is a mood enhancer
  • Work is a soul depleter
  • Music=sex
  • Birth School Work Death=truth
  • People really, truly, absolutely do not like to work hard
  • People are really good at pretending they work hard
  • People are really good at saying, "I was here until 11:00 last night"
  • I am really good at not being impressed by people who say, "I was here until 11:00 last night"
  • Some people want a baby for the wrong reasons
  • Sometimes a man who has had the brain sucked out of his head by a shitty marriage gets a second chance
  • I need to get back to work
  • I want to go on vacation. Right now. Splash. Lake. Ancestral summer home
  • Brideshead needs to be revisited

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Cynicism is another word for reality

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  • 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


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