Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Word to the Sistahs!

Weeeeeeeeelllllll, went out a drankin’ with the lasses last night and what a scurvy lot we were. AYE! Blow the man down (if ye can do it while walkin’ and chewin at the time matey!). Man overboard! Or was that a champagne glass spillin’ it’s dainty contents onto Lady Holly’s skirt?

Siobhan, Holly, Mary, Glenda, Moira, Linda and me. IT WAS SO FUN. We missed ya Hope! There was talk of sex (69, so ‘80’s or still relevant?); cross pollination with scurvy lads at our favorite watering hole, DAN’S CAFÉ; several loud proclamations (you guys are all ASSHOLES!); laughter; gift giving—ba ba ba bling! Topped off by Miss Suzy Q’s generous purchase of a bottle of the Verve to complete the night. And crème brulee and a chocolate explosion thingy and many sloppy heartfelt kisses on the curb of 18th and L as we all melted into the night with our umbrellas and the glow of an evening truly spent with women who take each other in—literally and figuratively—without the bullshit, the competition, the sizing up.

I’ve been so spoiled knowing true women like this—all my life—that when I come up against the usual girlzilla I am always stunned. We are a group of women made up of two sets of lifelong friends, Holly and Susie (Hope in absentia) and Moira and me, two lawyer colleagues, and my Peace Corps comrade.

It was Glenda’s 43rd birthday—viewed in the mirror, object is much smaller: 34! Holly proclaimed that her skin and cleavage were top notch! Impromptu cleavage assessment. Susie was almost a local hero in Ireland—she made the journey and God sent her back to us and we’re overjoyed to have her back. Susie broke my heart when she told me she’d help out with my kids if I applied to the MacDowell Colony. BROKE my heart. Moira and I were back up belly to the bar at the beginning of the night—ECSTATIC with the stolen freedom. CHEERS.

For Christmas we get together every year, no matter what and we always give gifties. This year we’re going to make donations to a charity that we want to support and then say why we did it. We want to start a stock club and then become millionatrixes and star in our own NUDE CALENDAR! The last part was my idea. No one seemed too excited about that. But we’ve got the cleavage girls! Think about it.

Mary shimmered in her baubles, looking every inch the seductive Gibson Girl. We coveted each other’s jewelry—which is all so unique and so reflective of the personalities. Nothing cookie cutter, nothing predictable—proud, asymmetrical, totemic, gaudy, bright, and brilliant pieces. I love y’all. As Jeff Buckley would say, LET’S DRINK and SLEEP! And as E.M. Forster would say: ONLY CONNECT. And we did.

Overheard: ...the Kate Moss vacuum...My monkey is dead!...Your necklace will point him in the right direction...You guys are FUCKING assholes!...You slept with him too?...HOT MONKEY LOVE!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday's Lessons Questions and Confessions

The question for the day is: Is it necessary to exercise if you are unattractive?
Answer: I don’t think so.

Case in point, the jogger I saw this morning running WITH A BACKPACK, like running itself isn't torture enough, fer crying out loud. I mean, basically what I am trying to say is--you wouldn't preserve a velvet painting in a climate controlled room, would you? You would, however, restore a masterpiece, like the Mona Lisa (no relation) to its former glory. But if you are dealing with flawed goods from the get-go, I wouldn't waste the money. Skip the botox and the facials and the manicures. Look in the mirror. Do you look like Vivian Leigh? Then put down that scalpel and those fussy delusions of grandeur! Then thank me for saving you lots of money. Now go and learn to be happy in your own skin.

Oh, we’re just being tacky and mean this morning. Having to do with existential quandaries and all. Damn those existential quandaries!

The new job is good but the problem is, it is a “job.” It is a better “job” than the last one I had, but I don’t seem to be in a chalet hugging a Swiss alp pondering the next sentence to grace my purple Mac laptop or anything, you know? Yeah, THAT kind of existential breakdown. Or chugging through the rugged terrain of Afghanistan freeing women from religious oppression and breathing in the ancient charmed air of conquerors and turbaned men. Pass the cumin.

Went up to the kook bank yesterday and I am starting to get a little scared of it. Like I can hear the people in the audience whispering like they do in a horror movie, why does she keep going in there? Appalling Bank Executrix was on another Very Loud Perfunctory Call; the introductory greeting stewardess was on a personal call; the only productive teller was wearing an ‘80’s pink tie.

Walking to the bank there was a Wallace Beery sort of man sitting at the Starbucks twisting his nose hairs into a solitary braid. When I walked back from the bank, he was still there.

I went into a precious little boutique filled with sequined satin jewel boxes, whimsical magnets and grapefruit and fig soap. I thought about nuclear holocaust and communism, naturally. As in, there was not one single thing in there that would be helpful following a nuclear holocaust and no wonder developing countries hate us. Because we have entire stores filled with useless gewgaws manned by barking Chevy Chase beeyatches. I picked up two candles and the owner said, “Those are the best candles.” I said, “Do you have candle sticks?” “No!” Was the breezy and unhelpful reply. I thought, well maybe you should. Since you have 8,000 other useless little trinkets why not have one thing that actually supports, holds and makes sense with another item? How about that?

Here’s another confession: I have developed the weirdest yen. I want a Land Rover Discovery. Speaking of capitalist pigs…

Reason #802 that it’s good I’m not at my last job: they had to work the day after Thanksgiving AND Saturday and Sunday. Ouch.

Do you ever get weirded out when you send someone a really nice email or an email with a question and the person doesn’t write you back?

Does it hurt your feelings when you have a party and someone doesn’t write or call to thank you? It hurts mine. Of course. And if you’ve known me for ten minutes, you would know that. And the people I have to my house I have always known for at least ten years. So anyone who comes to my house would know that it would hurt my feelings. But the problem is, I think some people confuse saying “thank you” with standing on ceremony. Saying thank you is not a formality. It is not a matter of adhering to archaic etiquette rules encased in mothballs. It’s about telling someone who has made an effort that you appreciate it. Because people who welcome you into their homes and their lives are usually people with sappy sensitive hearts. And they need to be acknowledged.

So, lessons learned from today:

1) If you are a dog, put down the barbell. 2) If you put your feet under someone’s table, say thank you. No excuses on this one! 3)Don’t stock up on gewgaws in the event of a nuclear threat. 4) Don’t go to the bank on Wisconsin Avenue above Woodmont. It’s scary. 5) Have a great day!!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Flabgiving!!!

We had a great weekend. Most excellent! Nick’s Boy Scout Pack was invited to be in the county Thanksgiving parade and so we hustled downtown and parked about a million miles away (all streets were closed) and huffed and puffed up the street. The Pack Leader is a bit of a sarge, so I was terrified of being late. As usual, we were one of the first people there. I put myself through such agony…It was a stunning day—all fall crispness—and Nick looked so cute in his Cub Scout uniform.

The boys all lined up and they had a very fancy banner and they marched through the streets. I walked along the sidelines, taking pictures and clapping and rocking back and forth (like a DORK) to the Redskins marching band that was right in front of them.

I mean, yes, Norman Rockwell and Frank Capra and Andy Griffith and just about every other icon of American down home perfectitude shone down on us. I had…so much fun and Nick did too, although he was a lot more blasé about it. For some reason, ever since he was a baby, he never really cared about parades. And I of course have some kind of daft thing about them. Which is why I cry every year watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (e-v-e-r-y year). Onward…

Then that night we had a dinner party that...worked. It fell together and it was beautiful. One of those times where everyone arrives and the coats slip off and the conversation starts and there’s just so much revelry and bonhomie and warmth, that it’s great. Oh yeah, and lots of vodka.

It was plov night, which has become sort of a tradition chez nous. MZA makes the national dish of Uzbekistan, plov, and we serve shots of vodka (the hostess does not partake, let’s be clear) and LOTS OF RED CAVIAR. Nick and Daisy practically inhaled the red caviar and Ian was the master of ceremonies for the 4 and under crowd—serving juice boxes and distributing pizza slices.

Everyone looked beautiful—we’re all old friends, from different paths of acquaintance. I liked it. It was nice.

Then Tess, Sheila’s daughter, spent the night. Nick slept on the floor and she got his bottom bunk and Ian slept in his usual top bunk. He calls Tessa “Sara,” for reasons that are not quite clear.

The kids slept late and I made a big smokin’ stack of Bisquick pancakes and we all had breakfast together. Then we took them all to the playground. Nick and Tess took turns riding his bike to the playground. There was Nick, riding down a side street with Tess running, tall and beautiful beside him, her feel getting in her way every once in a while. And I looked at Nick, pedaling away from me, with his goofy helmet teetering on his head and I thought, “This is his life.” It was an epiphany, like here he is, living his life with his babyhood friend running alongside him, in his neighborhood, where he has grown up.

It was another lovely day—absolutely clear and bright and the kids rode bikes on the tennis court. Daisy drew with chalk and Ian blazed around the court on his low slung three wheeler. He’d come whipping around a corner, smile, look at MZA and me and say, “See ya suckers!” Daisy fell on an asphalt curb and scared her self more than anything. I scooped her up and MZA kicked the curb and dutifully told it how bad it was.

The babies took a long nap, Sheila came to collect Tess and we deconstructed, then we puttered in the afternoon. I bought a Stouffer’s lasagna for dinner, for ease and crowd pleasin’ certainty.

Yeah, we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and even this dyed in the wool old crusty cynic must say I am thankful, grateful for my friends and my family, immediate and extended, I love y’all. I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving. Tucked in pockets all over the country, I feel like we are bound by such a lovely cord.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kook Garage

Now instead of plowing against traffic, and against the grain, and against logic up to the Gooselands, I have entered the “real” direction and natural flow of the world. Which is better? Oh so hard to say! Not really. I find the ceaseless bleed of red taillights somehow gratifying in that I am also headed in a direction other people are. Because they are GOING somewhere and not just blazing up the highway to nowhere (Pennsylvania?) to inhabit an oddly placed building with temperature control issues and canned art on the walls. Give me grubby!

And seriously, I am going to do a documentary about Bethesda. Because, let’s get this straight, it is NOT without its kooks. And yesterday apparently someone unloaded a Central Kook Garage and they ALL came out to play and talk loudly. I walked (walked!!!!) to the bank—this enormous national bank behemoth—and there was only one (1) teller on duty.

I noticed right away that things were weird because these two people were having one of those patented super-nerd borderline retarded conversations about airfares. And they were strangers. Then there was a foreign sort of man who had a serious nasal problem, just sitting on a chair in the middle of the bank, kind of switching his snot load from one nostril to the other. Then there was the horrendous “bank executive loan finance woman” in a comer office who was having an EXTREMELY loud PERSONAL conversation on the phone.

It was the definition of a perfunctory, suit wearing, tight ass, bank executrix kind of conversation. “So, how are you/how are the girls/I could give a shit/let me fire off some more meaningless pleasantries and then get to the important part: myself.”

Then there was the teller at the window who kept putting her fingers in HER MOUTH. And that was a double gross—as in, do you KNOW where that money has been and ew gross, your spit stained hands are touching all the money.

I stood there and HONESTLY, I felt like I was in a Kafka play. I know everyone says that, but this was existential theatre of the absurd drama at its worst. Then it was on to CVS where the Kook Garage had also unloaded a bushel of its contents. There was another ENORMOUS line—I have measured out my life in CVS lines—and when it was RIGHT ABOUT TO BE MY TURN this batty Italian dame in a beige felt fedora comes rushing in and slams into the counter and babbles gibberish about how she was sold a bottle of BROKEN Italian seasoning. She keeps jamming the broken bottle with its fragrant spilled contents into the cashier’s nose. The cashier waves her off, finishes with the customer and then tends to the wiry panicked nut. She wields the broken bottle and the cashier actually tells her to go get another one, even though she mumbles something about how the woman must have dropped it AFTER she bought it. Duh!

So that woman, with her new bottle of Italian seasoning, scurries out onto the sidewalk. So I walk past her, huffy and imperious, I want to say, “Don’t drop that one too, ya kook!”

So, Bethesda, tony suburb, land of sushi, is also a closet kook haven. Which is why I fit in so well. I like walking the streets, pounding the pavement, looking at all the people and checking out restaurant after restaurant. And it’s not a piggy type thing; it’s like a life fascination type thing. Like I have NO DESIRE to bring my lunch. It would feel culturally insensitive, like looking for a McDonald’s in Tokyo or something. I just feel like I should partake of the culture, the variety, the feel of it. The neighborhood, the town. It’s a place. With a feel. You’d understand my rabidity if you’d ever spent any time in Rockville and Gaithersburg, where I was for the past two years. Horrendous. Panera Bread anyone?

OK. That’s all I can sneak in sur le moment. This place is hopping. In a different way from the olde haunt. Much more “next steps,” “calendar items,” “action items,” “to dos,” and stuff. And I work for someone who SHOWS UP and takes her work seriously. I know, be careful what you wish for. But at the end of the day, you just can’t respect yourself if you don’t respect the person you are working for. Or I can’t respect myself. Must go now and check “task” list with cleverly lined out items and feverish, insistent little red deadlines…

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Notes From the Underground

Literally...geez. Miss Fancy Pants goes and gets a new job and doesn' t have time for the important things! Like this! Man. Plus there is a firewall at work that prevents me from directly accessing this site. Annoying! I can still get there, but I haven't even had time to compose as I would like. So I'm here in our basement of a Thursday morn, furiously typing away.

The new job is swell and if there is ANYTHING at all you want to know about menopause or chronic fatigue syndrome, I want you to write me. Are they the same thing, you ask? No. The most important thing about my new job is: there are LOTS of sushi restaurants nearby!

I work in Bethesda, which is a tony li'l suburb of DC that hugs its northwest quadrangle. Scrumptious! The reason I like Bethesda is because, since it hugs that aforementioned quadrangle, where I grew up, I have spent a lot of time in Bethesda! Just incidentally and because it was so close to home and all.

My mother's favorite Chinese restaurant was there, China Village. The owner was a stooped little feverishly busy man who would come out from the kitchen when word that my mother had arrived got to him. He would greet her heartily with her last name and then ask, ignoring any daughters at the table, "How your SON?" Then he would put his arm around my mother and say, "Your mother STRONG! Like tiger." And then rip up the bill.

Often my mother would then say, "Do you want to sashay over to the Opp Shop?" Groan. But we would go and linger among rich people's sensible cast-offs in a church-run thrift store. That's where I went yesterday on my lunch hour. The Opp Shop. I was sorely tempted by an Asian "old" framed print of a Canada goose (you know how I love them) sort of toppling over with unlikely grace. I think I might actually go and buy it. I liked it because it would represent my moving on from the goose preserve and all.

There is also a HUGE Caribou coffee nearby. Every single solitary person in my office has a giant Caribou coffee cup on their desk. It's hard not to get sucked into the cult.

The nearest li'l sushi place looks like it was just yanked out of a Tokyo alley. The crammed front is a store with weird fixins like small dried crab shells coated in sesame seeds called "Party!" Yum. In the back there is a small sushi counter where a very Japanese woman takes your order while carping "Hi!" (that means yes, in my extensive Japanese) into the phone.

The excitement of coffee! And sushi! And staid preppy patrician charitable hand-me-downs. WHAT, I ask, is not to like?

I missed ya.

More anon.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

I am starting my new job today. Am I a little flipped out? Yes. Hardly anyone was at work yesterday, you know how that goes. You imagine this movie send-off and instead it's this total anti-climactic whimper kind of thing. But they had a nice luncheon (doncha love that word?) for me on Monday, catered by my favoriate place. That was nice. My uber-boss gave a really nice speech. About: me. He thanked me. And lemme just say, I was grateful. Because, while I certainly don't want to appear immodest, I DESERVED IT. Brother. Or, bruzzer, as Ian would say.

OK, I gotta go. More later on the Mary Tyler Moore imaginary theme song as I traversed I270 south yesterday with all my papers and photos and plants in my car...headed for new terrain...

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