Friday, December 30, 2005

The Longest Day in the Whole Entire Universe

Google: self, weird guy from old job, intermittent boyfriend from college, self, caviar bowls, traditional quilt patterns

Consider: Organize files?

Speculate: Perhaps overpriced Google stock is worth it?

Strategize: If that stupid boutique up the street can sell $78 hand painted salt and pepper shakers and goofy painted canvasses that say Once Upon a Time There Was YOU, couldn’t I make a fortune painting whimsical sayings on canvass? Embroider white hand towels with the word “bitch” on them, embellish small magnets with cynical witticisms, craft ceramic drawer pulls in cute shapes like airplanes and fish…

Google: Blank canvases

Re-hash: Phone conversation with Nicholas (on Cape Cod) over Christmas. I confessed that I bought myself a tea towel for Christmas and he replied,

"I bought myself a throw for Christmas."

“A throw?”

“Yeah, you know, a thing to throw over your knees when it’s cold.”


“Yeah, it’s really butch.”

As if Nicholas needs to be any more butch!

Look: Out window. Parking garage is still there. Steam is emanating. From somewhere.

Most exciting part of day: Lunch at Indian restaurant with Nick and MZA. Palaak paneer is fabulous!

Resolve: I will never ever eat again as long as I live. The Palaak paneer, on top of all the holiday indulgences, was like the “wafer thin mint” at the end of that Monty Python movie.

Google: Wafer thin mint Monty Python

Results: Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, wherein the super fat Mr. Creosote explodes when he eats a wafer thin mint.

Speculate: How bored is bored?

Wonder: How come when you are really busy and you can’t spare a minute, you find time to race down to Caribou Coffee for a Large Skim Latte (topped with cinnamon), but when you have all the time in the world, you just sit at your computer wondering about things?

Nihilistically posit: Is caffeine necessary when you have lost the will to live?

Ruminate: I could walk outside. Somewhere. On this gray cloudy overcast day.

Moment of virtuosity: Organize files? Tidy up desk?

Dubiously consider: People who say they use the downtime at work to “catch up.”

Question: Why aren’t I more like that?

Conclude: Lazy.

Fantasize: About Thailand. I like Thailand. I like every single solitary thing about Thailand—the people, the food, the elephants, the big Buddhas, the beer, the Gulf with its turquoise beauty, wild unadulterated Bangkok, the Chao Praya River, tuk tuks, driving a Jeep all over a small island, walking on the beach, eating shark and carved watermelon on New Year’s, sleeping near the sea, luxury, simplicity, lavender Thai silk, orchids…

Analyze: The parking garage across the street is misnumbered, so if you park on “3” you are really parked on “4.” This is sometimes difficult to remember.

Philosophize: Isn’t it weird how we sort through our exotic experiences and make peace with the fact that they only make up 2% of our lives whilst the mundane, like keeping track of parking lot floors, makes up the other 98%?

Realize: It’s really important not to slide into an existential torpor. At work.

Sticky note haiku: Aveda, 1/7 Sat 1:30 pm; Mackenzie-Childs; Pine Cone Hill; Dresden Plate pattern; Must Love Dogs; print logo vector based, not bitmap; check intern’s research.

It goes on. And then it rains.

Philosophy: Brought to you by the Psychedelic Furs, and me.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dickensian House Parties, or a Tale of Two Dalmatians

Hmm, I wonder what it would feel like to be the only person in the entire city of Washington DC to be at work. Oh wait a minute! I know how that feels!

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I took yesterday off and snuggled deeply under the down comforter and thought about coffee and the Today Show and all those other perks of a morning spent at home.

We took Nick to Chevy Chase for the day. Oh splendid sunny blue sky! Oh fabulous over-the-top extravagance! Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Barney’s…all in two city blocks. The magnificent half mile. So silly, callow and overwrought, but who cares!

We took Nick to lunch at the Hall of Cheeseball fame—that even has cheese in its name!—The Cheesecake Factory. Which was actually really fun because it’s an Italianate gobstopper with lovely tapestry booths overlooking the hustle ‘n bustle of Wisconsin Avenue below.

Nick liked it right away. He ordered a “Tons of Fun” burger “medium rare” and started things off with a tropical smoothie made with mango and passion fruit. He took one taste of the confection and pronounced it “to die for.”

There are few things more irresistible than an excited little kid in a restaurant booth—ordering with a grave seriousness and attacking new pleasures with relish. And looking out the window, and unfolding a too-large cloth napkin and eating sourdough bread.

We hit Neiman’s, just cuz I love it—the mink and chinchilla scarves, the Michal Negrin baubles, all topped with a phalanx of white fluttering butterflies strung in the glass atrium, like a mad lepidopterist’s conservatory.

Williams-Sonoma—fingering the copper, the Calphalon, the fanciful bundt tins, Villeroy and Boch, wanting everything (sort of, not really), MZA said, “None of this is really your style.” Yes, but it’s 50% off!!

The most fun was T.J. Maxx because it had things you could actually procure, AND there was super duper World Market, a new addition to the Chevy Chase strand. MZA loved it. They had Indian glass bangles, like I used to wear, and sensational zonked out rosey/pomegranate smelling candles. Nick liked the candy section. On and on about Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans—flavor highlights: Earwax and booger. Mmmm.

We walked past all the new behemoths of luxury with beefy black bodyguards at every entrance, but did not walk in. Not out of intimidation, but out of irrelevance—as in, how do hideous brown steamer trunks with beige LVs splashed on them apply to my life?

That night we got ready for Hope’s après Christmas fete. I was wearing black stockings and m'skivvies—still getting ready--and Nick said, “You look like a centaur, Mommy!” MZA said, “What’s a centaur?” I said, “One of those half man half goat things from mythology.” Ian chimed in delightedly, “Mommy is a go-at! Mommy is a go-at!”

Sheila’s holiday party was Dickensian, and Hope’s parties at her parents’ formidable town house on Dupont Circle are Dickensian as well, in that sense of the cold, gray unforgiving city outside and the heightened contrast of glowing yellow lights, tinkling glass and mellow conversational grooves from within. There are Venetian glass mirrors, gilt frames, Japanese art, and voluptuous chandeliers draped elegantly from high ceilings.

Hope, just in from Brussels for the holidays, serves an ex-pat’s dream meal of macaroni and cheese made with penne pasta and little perfect ham sandwiches on mini-buns. All kid friendly. Hope’s father was in the diplomatic corps and so is a familiar archetype for me—the gracious gent, the instant name recognition, the interested gaze, the effortless courtesy and the ability to welcome one instantly to the fold. He greets MZA warmly, always, and says his name perfectly.

Daisy, the committed dog lover, immediately reaches for a stuffed Dalmatian toy from the “Japanese altar”—filled with Dalmatian paraphernalia meant to honor a family member, in this case the family Dalmatian Jessica—and carries it with her, proprietarily, everywhere. She keeps bringing it up to show to the real Jessica.

Hope’s parents kindly decide that Daisy needs the stuffed Jessica and they give it to her. I tell Daisy to thank Hope’s father and she goes up to him, shyly, clutching the spotted dog. He leans over and asks for a kiss on the cheek. I have that breathless Mommy moment—please God let her come through—and she sweetly walks up and plants a dainty one right on his cheek. It’s m’girl’s one touch from a fading era, that the eye catches in the form of a heat image from an infrared camera—a light that detects warmth the naked eye cannot perceive.

Hope and Nick are old friends. I walk upstairs to the informal sitting room and hear Hope giving a discourse to Nick on how “Flemish is actually much more guttural…” while he listens intently.

We drive home through the curving tree-thick Rock Creek Park, watching for deer and minding the low curbs and misted fog, made more opaque by the headlights.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005


My hair looks spectacular today. If anyone’s looking for a Breck girl, look no further!!

I’m at work now with 1.5 other people. We are in “show up” mode, which means we are next in line for a Congressional Medal of Honor. BECAUSE if you show up at work the week between Christmas and New Years, you are made of the finest stock of human flesh in the world. Or “whirled,” as Ian would say. “I’ve come to save the whirled!” He also likes wishing everyone a “Very Christmas.”

Christmas Eve was nice at our house—all muted lights and warmth, a fire in the fireplace and babes squealing and scampering hither and yon. Marie, our neighbor, came over and so we were able to share our odd tradition of caviar, champagne and French fries with someone new. I upped the ante and also got ENORMOUS frozen shrimp (that I thawed). That day I made the scalloped potatoes and a caviar pie (again??) for Christmas dinner the next day.

Marie seemed to like the French fries, even though I burned the first batch which I NEVER do. ARGH. Oh well, the second batch came out swell. Then we had a zany Russian cake with hardened meringue-type swirls on top that looked like the domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. They blinded the architects of that building because they never wanted it to be recreated. If that doesn’t put you in a holiday mood, I don’t know what will!

Oh, the holidays are packed with enough emotional dynamite for a building demolition, aren’t they? And I never really recognized that before because I had kind of a swell childhood and my parents were very festive, fun people and so they were excellent during a festive, merry season.

Our house was always bright and nicely decorated—nothing psycho mind you—just the Christmas cards hung on a ribbon across the mantle, a humongous Christmas tree in the living room decorated with all of my mother’s carefully chosen, unique ornaments—nothing “predictable!” That’s the dirtiest word in her vocabulary: “predictable.”

My mother would put an antique kimono obi as a runner down the table—it would come down, wrapped in dry cleaner’s cellophane from the linen closet, and she would put the silver candlesticks with three red candle each. Red was as zany as we ever got. We’d use the good silver and for Christmas Eve—we were avowed evening openers—she would make roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and green beans. Santa came on Christmas morning—just for me because I was the only kid in the house. My brother and sister are older and so they were the ones actually setting out the goods. My stocking would be full of oranges, walnuts and small toys.

Now my sister has taken the mantle and she does Christmas just like we used to have it with lots and lots of presents and mayhem, champagne, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It was lovely. And it was a little bit sad. Just because everyone can’t stay as young as they ever were. I think my mother thrived in the role of hostess—in every sense of the word—the planner, the presenter, the provocateur, the ringleader, the grand dame. And now she is a guest. It is a diminished role, one that she is not familiar with.

OK, but we don’t want to be sad right now.

Christmas really and truly is about the kiddies. I love buying presents for the wee ones and then setting up the charade in the living room for them to come down to Christmas morning. Daisy and Ian were especially into it, Nick was too, but he is on the precipice of not believing. Nick was the first one down the stairs. He got an Mp3 player and a remote control car but seemed WAY more excited about the Silly Putty in his stocking. Hmmm. I like playing Johnny Mathis’s Christmas CD over and over again. I get really emotional on “WHAT CHILD IS THIS” Pass the hankies!! I don’t know why either.

We have cards on the mantle and poinsettias and a big fat tree decorated with all my mother’s unpredictable ornaments starting with the little gossamer angels holding little faux candles she got when she was first married, through the weirdness of the ‘70’s Holly Hobby angel people, to the White House Christmas ornaments, to the red velvet embroidered ones from India, to the pipe cleaner circles my brother made on the plane to Australia when he was four. Nick made a paper angel in school to top the tree. MZA gave me my perfume, aptly named EXTRAVAGANCE! And some lovely tea rose Roget et Gallet soap.

The shutter is closing, in a concentric flash, buffered with softness, broken toys, hand-me-down embellishments, cold fluffy champagne, red paraffin, and stains on gilt fabric that may or may not have once encircled the waist of a geisha.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!!

I had a little Christmas parable happen yesterday. It turns out someone dropped off a whole bunch of gifts for our whole family—spouses, kids, my mother, everyone, except ME. Seriously. And at first I just sort of blew it off, like, ha ha ha! Gifts do not define Christmas, silly old rabbit! We learned this yet again from watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas the other night, wherein the true meaning of Christmas is divulged by the saintly and Biblical Boris Karloff.

Then a nasty little thud landed upon my heart and I felt: hurt. It hurt my feelings. MY FEELINGS WERE HURT! Sing muse! So I composed a series of very mean, naughty, vile and libelous notes in my head, then I thought about religion and going to church and how I had to become a better person and then slights like these wouldn’t matter so much. This is how my mind works—evil poison pen...then church…then redemption…then back to poison pen. The old get-it-out-of-my-system plea.

I got home and got the phone call. It was a mistake! There was a gift for me after all!

I think what this teaches us is, never actually send the nasty, vicious, cathartic, vilifying note UNTIL you have checked the bottom of the bag of gifts. Isn’t that a beautiful lesson? Hold it dear to your heart from now on.

Then I started thinking about Capricorns and how much I hate them—just women Capricorns, like SledDog and others. I had an interview when I was going through THAT whole drama, and I had this instant reaction to the woman who was conducting the interview that Eve (hi Eve!) calls “instant hate.” You know that reaction? Not to be confused with “instant like,” which happens more frequently (I just said that so I wouldn’t seem too negative all the time, what with it being Christmas and all).

Anyway, I walked in to the interview and the high priestess came in, all fresh Ivory scrubbed sensible frumpiness with no makeup and naturally graying hair and a plain white knit shirt and a necklace with no soul. Just a stupid adornment, an accoutrement, a meaningless bit of “flair” with no heart, no color, no imagination. GOD I HATED THAT NECKLACE. And she looked at me and I could see it. I could see that sensible little prudent mind shunning all my impracticalities and my whims and irrationality. My black tar mascara, the zany glasses, the impertinent blond streaks in my hair that are grown out and mixed with other hair colors (brown, gray, a mélange!) and I just knew I wasn’t getting that job.

SHE is the one who asked me what my best friend would say about me if they called her. AND I GOT CHOKED UP, for crying out loud, because I don’t like mixing metaphors. I have a work life and I have a home life and never the twain shall meet. And I got all confused thinking about what my best friend would say, and then I thought about what she probably would say, and I got all TEARY and goofy. It was a super weird interview moment. And here was her reaction: she got impatient. And boy HOWDY that’s when I knew things were really going south. Because that type of person, the type who just looks at you patronizingly as you leak and sputter with inefficient emotions, is not someone I am going to get along with too well. So I was mad at myself, because I REALLY wanted a new job.

As it turns out, my then company threw this gargantuan, extremely fabulous, anniversary party AT the Mandarin Oriental hotel in downtown DC (it was spectacular, seriously) and I was seated next to this beautiful woman and we started chatting and for some reason I asked her if she was a writer and she said yes and we talked some more and it turns out that I had interviewed for HER job! The sensible Capricorn frump was her boss! And she leaned over to me, in strict confidentiality, and said, “I have never had such a horrible time working with anyone, ever.” She said she got along with everyone, but for some reason they just did not hit it off. And so I asked her, “Is she a Capricorn by any chance?”

She looked at me with her eyes wide open and she said, “Yes! Why?”

I said, “Oh, I could just tell. She reminds me of several people.”

She said, “She reminds me of my stepmother!”

Then I asked, “What sign are you?”

And she said, “Cancer.”

I said, “Me too!”

You see? It never would have worked.

She asked, “But are all Capricorns bad? Because my boyfriend is a Capricorn.”

And I replied, “No! Capricorn men are fine. It’s just the women. After all, Jesus was a Capricorn!”

So I think we have learned some really valuable lessons today about revenge and spite and the true meaning of Christmas, to wit—search the bag 'til you find what you want, avoid Capricorn women if you are a Cancer, and celebrate the most famous Capricorn man in the world’s birth with love.

Merry Christmas, y’all.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

I, Sassie

I dreamt I went up to Jack Black and told him I thought he was the funniest person in the universe and then I was about to kiss him. I don’t know what it says about me that I have sex dreams about Jack Black, but there you have it.

I have pink eye right now and I look like a cross between a Cyclops and Richard Gephardt. It is NOT a good look. I have the stupidest diseases—ear infections, eye infections—like some gigantic baby. But that’s OK, in the realm of diseases I guess I’ll take my puny infections. BECAUSE I am editing some mighty powerful documents right now. I know, when I am working that takes time away from you, so I thought I’d share a sentence I am working on: When these cells are introduced into nude mice, they form tumors. Hmmm. Nude mice. What does that mean? That kind of takes the thunder out of the whole “tumors” thing because all you’re thinking about is: what is a nude mouse? It goes on, ...agouti sister mice are genetically identical but environmentally distinct. One is of a normal size and has a brown coat, whereas her sister is obese and has a blond coat. Are you imagining a mouse in a blond mink right now? Nude underneath? Like she just put it on to go to the store? Me too. I also think the blond mouse hates her skinny ass twin sister. Wouldn't you?

Anyhoo, when you have PINK EYE you can’t wear mascara and for me this is a very serious challenge. Some people compete in marathons as a challenge; I have to talk myself off a ledge every morning because I can’t wear mascara. Like I need a 12-step mascara group er something. I would like to say I don’t wear a lot of mascara, but the fact is, I do. I USED to wear Lancôme Aquacils (I have written about my mascara habit before—sorry) and now I wear L’Oreal’s Lash ARCHITECHT.

It is not enough to dust my lashes with a hint of black color, I need to steel gird them with an impenetrable layer of decorative tar. Sooooooo the problem is, when you suddenly strip yourself of this black armor steel girded coating, you look like a really horrendous version of yourself—the version you are HIDING from the world when you carefully sculpt and layer those dainty translucent lashes every morning.

Do you remember that episode of The Flintstones when Dino gets cast on “Sassie” a TV show about a loyal dinosaur (think: Lassie)? Remember that? NO? How come? Don’t you have every episode of The Flintstones on a convenient brain rolodex that you can call up at will? Hmmm, that’s weird. Well, I'm here to help you out, whilst searching for a picture of Sassie, I found this French version of the show subtitled, "An Amour de Dino." The synopsis is Dino quitte la maison: Les adventures de Sassie! Ze French! Mon dieu...zey make even the love between dinosaurs sound romantique!

Anyway, Dino gets cast on “Sassie” and Sassie is this beautiful dinosaur with curly hair and long lashes and, of course, Dino is in love with her, nay obsessed (kind of like me and Jack Black.) So one day, on the set, he is standing outside her dressing room, looking in the window, and all of a sudden she pulls off her wig AND peels off her fake eyelashes and there is this bare bones straggly haired bald-eyed dino sitting there and he is AGHAST. I, ladies and germs, am Sassie. Robbed of the illusion, no paper lanterns and candlelight to hide the glare, the reality.

MZA has been sleeping on the couch because he is so afraid of getting my pink eye so I have been sleeping, sprawled and uninhibited, across the entirety of our bed. I woke up this morning with my face firmly buried in my pillow, my arms outstretched, like I had been slammed into the bed with a great velocity. Ian came in and lifted one corner of the covers and surmised that no one was there, so firmly implanted in the downy depths was I, and he got that worried inner/outer toddler voice and started walking toward the stairs—“Mommy? Daddy?” Convinced that he had been abandoned somehow in the night. I told MZA later and he said, “Why didn’t you call to him?” THAT is a really good question! I guess because I was so immersed in analyzing his toddler response. Or I just couldn’t barter the cushiony solitude of the dark warm morning for the reality of tending to a forlorn cub. Or something.

Because I was sleeping so hard and so soundly, with my face pushed into the downy depths, I have these super attractive LINES carving a gorge down my swollen puffy eyes and cheek. It’s so cute. I look so cute today. AND it is “casual WEEK” which means I have had to summon FOUR adorable, casual, yet professional, yet tasteful, yet “young” yet...ARGH...outfits from a very uncooperative closet.

But really, these are small things aren’t they? Wasn’t there something else I was supposed to focus on? Oh yeah! World Peace! That old fussbudget. And goodwill toward men. Jack Black is a man…


Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Our Little Sneesh turned 40 last weekend AND SO her sweet sister Moira squired us all to a wooden soaring manse on the edge of a salted marsh to wish her well on her fourth decade. The bonhomie! The gatheredness of it!

The gourmet dinner of shaman-cooked lamb chops, the chocolate confection cake, a stellar antique ring…several (20?) bottles of lovely red wine…a smashing poker match in which the Uzbek proved to be ruthless AND competitive…LOTS of kids underfoot, overfoot and in the air…a long lovely dock leading to the lapping salted mysterious water…an island named after an Indian tribe…birds, ancient exotic Audubon perfectionism…egrets, osprey, cranes, and gigantic blue herons…day trips to the ocean…paying homage…standing at the licking curling foam flecked edges in awe…
Ian chasing seagulls…all capped by the most amazing and wonderful ranger in the world who educated us on the convoluted inner workings of conch shells and whelks…he fished into the tank for a spider crab… Nick cradled a hermit crab in his hand I wish I could have a hermit crab…the ranger said that scientists extract the blood of horseshoe crabs to test the purity of medicines…the blood has magical congealing powers…its blood is its immune system…crab blood…I told Ian to say “thank you” to the ranger and Ian just stared at him shyly…the ranger said, “His smile alone says 'thank you'”…I loved the ranger…he was so kind…and we all became his rapt students, a collective field trip studying bones and shells and evolution and natural selection…the inherent puzzles of mollusks, crustaceans, sand, dunes, wind, sun and rain.

Happy Birthday Sheesh!

Oh, and P.S., our bedroom had knotty pine cathedral ceilings and a skylight...I lay in bed looking at the moon, incongruous and elegant, and I thought how nice it was to be warm in bed (instead of camping or something), and looking at the moon. Cue Cat Stevens...


Thursday, December 15, 2005

This is a Post All About PATRICE...

...BECAUSE she came into town and so we all convened—the coven convened—at the infamous Dan’s Café in Adams Morgan. Dickey, the proprietor, has a capricious schedule based on whether he feels like opening for the night or not. Mary asked him so very kindly, considering Patrice’s imminent arrival, if he would open on Wednesday. He said if we were all coming, he would open. And he did, with a “Closed” sign slyly placed on the door.

You’ve heard about “holes in the wall” and “dive bars.” Everyone has a favorite! Let me just say, Dan’s Café is the penultimate dive bar—it is so quintessential that it may or may not exist. Maybe it is a manifestation of our desire to be in a real place with real people run by no-nonsense wise men. Or maybe it is real. Last night took on the feel of many a fantastic story—Peter Pan, Brigadoon, The Shining, Lost Horizon…a misty surreal past-in-the-present place with only the chill in the air to serve as a reminder of actual time and place. The ONLY thing that has changed at Dan’s Café since I started going there, I don’t I know, back in the late 19th century, is the new jukebox.

It is important to say that you either get Dan’s or you don’t. Period. I don’t hold it against people who don’t get it because we must be inclusive of all ignorant swains, mustn’t we?

Back to Patrice. Patrice is the coolest person in the universe, and this is a widely and pervasively held belief. She suffers precisely zero (0) fools and was heard to say some very naughty but dead-on things about a certain president of ours last night. In fact, she was going to go down to the White House, in a zone chart cab, and elucidate Mister Bush on some of her thoughts. I think the hallowed white façade would have shook from her visceral invective. That I applaud wholeheartedly.

What this is really about is continuity. I love continuity. I like references, enduring symbolism, constants, and linear pervasive themes.

Dan’s is run by Dickey, a sage, tall black gent who brings to mind the dignity and wisdom of Frederick Douglass. He has a keen level stare, a countenance that has observed enough folly, idiocy, human braggadocio and frailty for several lifetimes. He is a black man proprietor in a callow white man’s nightlife playground—Adam’s Morgan—who is interested in you if he’s interested in you, and could give a shit about you if he’s not. I count myself as one of the fortunate ones. He treated me gently, respectfully and sometimes lovingly. And it was splendid. He used to lean over the bar, this was after I had gone there for many years, and ask me so sweetly to come up to Atlantic City with him. It was never lecherous or weird, and I can’t quite explain that, but it just wasn’t. It was real, that’s all. I think I was just someone that he liked, period. I know I wasn’t the only one, but there weren’t many others, and I felt honored.

Dickey’s son Victor is the main bartender—there is a baroque hierarchy and division of labor only a taciturn father and son relationship can comprehend. Victor sits menacingly at the right hand of his father on the opposite end of the bar. He hunches over and lifts his head to take you in, chin down, eyes up. Both men engage in serial bemusement. Victor is very handsome, and knows it very well, and he has a body—pecs, abs, the whole piñata—that won’t quit. He did time in a federal penitentiary and he has the residual buff prisoner’s build. And the sweetest, slyest smile.

I walked in last night and there is—trust me—no fanfare whatsoever. No hale-fellow- well-met call from behind the bar. You go pay your obeisance. To each man, separately. I walked up to Victor and said, “Hey there.” He said, “Let me get up here…” and he hoisted himself up and leaned over the bar so he could give me a kiss. This is a benediction—it does not come perfunctorily or lightly. Then I walked down to say hi to Dickey. The years have finally tagged him, he did look older to me. He was wearing a navy blue knit cap and was playing a nonstop game of Solitaire. He offered me his hand, and I took it, rough and large, and he smiled and said, “Well, look at you! You look as young as you ever did.” And he smiled and if you want to know the truth, I will treasure that compliment, with its inflection and cadence, for a long time. It meant a lot to me to still look like the girl he wanted to accompany him on his jaunts. He smiled and seemed so pleased that life and age hadn’t changed me too drastically. “Look at you…” He knew I had three kids and asked all their ages and asked about MZA and then asked what I was doing—I told him and he said, “Oh! You’re making the big money now!” I said, “No.” But honestly, it was like talking to a professor who had once held a vested interest in you. He asked where I lived and put in perspective. He told me who else lived there too and then about Mark’s Z.’s new baby, because there was this time, that spanned many years, when all of us, this large amorphous, interconnected group, used to habituate that place. And it was a time.

It would be so easy to trivialize, but I always believed there was a reason we were all drawn there—and it wasn’t for the pool or the beer (solely), there was something else. Foremost is the native Washingtonian component (Holly, Hope, Susie, Polly, Moira, Sheila, Colum, JP, etc.)—that is the strong base paint, added to that the longtime DC residents like Patrice, Mary, SueLa and Suzanne. We all used to go and it was a scene, but a very subtle scene. We’d all regard each other and spar with Victor and talk to Dickey and watch each other until finally one day there was a West Side Story breaking down of cliques or gangs or whatever, and we started talking to one another. Susie and I started a salon—one of our first meetings was at the Yenching Palace on Connecticut Avenue—and THAT is when Dan’s really became, not just a place we hung out in individual pods, but a place to find each other and count on having an evening out, no matter what.

Last night, the weird neon signs and the plastic dead hanging plant type things from the ceiling were all there—the frill free bathrooms at the back of the bar—and a new jukebox that sadly did not still have “Sexual Healing” or “To Sir With Love” on it. It was Mary, Suzanne, Patrice, Moira, Sheila, Glenda, Mike and Charlie. That’s it. We talked and cracked each other up—a favorite feature. Either who can out-liberal who or who can crack up who. Toothless insults, and then one very heartfelt toast for our friend Susie on the opposite coast.

Later in the night three black coated lads entered the bar and Sheila stood up vibrantly, exuberantly, and said, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see the sign says ‘CLOSED’?” And they sheepishly retreated to the door and then Victor waved them in, reluctantly. The ringleader looked like a young Kiefer Sutherland and I could see him lean in to his friends, conspiratorially, so proud of himself, and say, “This place…” As in, You see? You see what I’ve found? Where I’ve brought you? And that made me glad, as a charter member of the ancien regime, to see that its appeal was still clear to some, while we sat on the lopsided barstools and smiled in the luminous blue chilled neon.

I paid my tab and tipped Victor nicely—which always makes him happy. I leaned over to shake his hand in mock formality. He said, “Don’t shake my hand.” And I leaned over and blew him a kiss.

Moira, Sheila and I said goodbye to Patrice. She said earlier in the night, “I can’t tell you how much this means to me and how much I miss all of you. Thank you for coming out.”

We wouldn’t have missed it.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Crazy Glue and Graciousness

I was awake in the night thinking about bitterness. And love. I have never been a bitter person OR a jealous person, which is practically impossible, but it’s true. Ask anyone. I mean I joke around about being bitter and all, and I am cynical, but mostly I let things go because I know that if you harbor them, they will cause you more harm than the person who is making you feel bitter.

About two years ago, there was this Series of Unfortunate Events, you know how that goes—a train wreck of discovering certain people’s true colors, a King Lear play of division and greed and selfishness and avarice—and I found…I found I could not get over it. It has kept me awake at night, it has gnawed at me, it has disillusioned me to the core of my being, and it has filled me with this sort of low-grade, invincible, secret, enduring malevolence.

Oh, I am going to write about it one day. In BIG splashy Technicolor. I feel like Truman trying to decide if he should detonate the atom bomb. Because that is the effect it will have—that sort of comforting obliteration of an entire obstacle. Maybe I’ll call the novel Enola. Did you know Enola spelled backwards is “alone”? Ha! That's what I'll be if I ever let those nasty cats out of the bitterness bag. But at least I'll feel better.

Anyway, as with most things, having this weird unshakable bitterness has made it easier for me to empathize with people who are continually bitter. And they’re out there! It’s the Stanislavski method of living—take an emotion and magnify it so you can use to realize how a character feels. I do that a lot. Because I’d rather be an informed bitch rather than just an armchair bitch. Being a bitch takes research!

Now, let’s move onto love. My little girl…cue Bryan Ferry…is one of the sweetest little confections ever to grace my life. Last year my sister T gave me this beautiful folk art blue angel for Christmas and she is on the mantle of our living room. My daughter, whose real name is Clare and not “Daisy,” looked up and said that she wanted the “Barbie.” I gave it to her and I said, “It’s an angel. Do you know what her name is?” And she said no. I said, “Her name is Angel Clare.” Because I have always loved that name and I loved that Art Garfunkle album and everything and it’s one of the reasons I named her Clare. And she said, “That’s right! Angel Me.”

I handed her the angel, because she wanted it so much, and told her to be careful, but of course she dropped it and the wings came off. And I thought about Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie when the gentleman caller breaks the horn off of Laura’s unicorn and she reassures him that now he’ll be just like all the other horses. It’s one of the most heartbreaking comebacks in American theatre...that and, “Years from now, when you talk about this...and you kind.” That’s from Tea and Sympathy. Those lines are all about preserving a secret shared moment, kindly.

I think there is rather a casual inclination—a bravado Americans have—of speaking of the past as something that needs to be discarded. I was listening to this radio moron talk about how she donated her old boyfriend’s clothes to charity, “just to get them out of the house.”

I don’t have bitter feelings about past loves. Which, I think, makes me the MOST FABULUS PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE! But seriously, I guess that I believe if you have this closet full of people you are sorry you spent time with and revealed yourself to, then you ultimately don’t have much respect for yourself, you know? I love my friends--and all the old loves, and they know it too. Hey, I am still hanging out with my best friends from second grade—in person and in email (hi y’all!). I just got invited to a reunion of the American International School of Calcutta where I went for two years—kindergarten and 1st grade. And I’m going.

Which is all to say, I have never, ever respected Madonna because I think people who have a need to recreate themselves and morph and nip and tuck and shed skins like a molting bird or snake, don’t like who they are.

So don’t get mad if someone breaks your unicorn or if your little girl, Angel Me, drops the angel and breaks her wings.

Because that’s the reason they invented Crazy Glue. And graciousness.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Echoes and Reverberations

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
--George Bernard Shaw

Oh the Clydesdale is tired today. It was a busy weekend because all of our weekends are busy. Just cuz.

Saturday MZA, Ian and Nick manned the Christmas tree sale at Nick’s school whilst Daisy and I had quality time together. Sort of parallel quality time, as I scoured the bathroom and she watched Dora. The boys came home, I made lunch, then we put the babies to bed and Nick had to lie down too because he had a slight fever. This meant we didn’t have to drive him to an aquatic amphitheatre in Laurel, Maryland for a birthday party.

I went to the enormo grocery store and got massive ingredients for fudge and coffee cake and chili and I don’t know what else. I came home and morphed into a white tornado and made two coffee cakes, a double recipe of my Christmas fudge (marshmallows, dried cranberries and whole almonds), 2 alarm chili in the slow cooker and quesadillas for the kids. And caviar pie for Sheila’s holiday party. INSANE! And I loved it. I made the caviar pie in a yin yang pattern, as I do every year.

See, Moira and I went to this party one time down on Capital Hill. There were hallucinogens involved, but the less said on that the better. Anyway, we kind of crashed the party, as we were wont to do in those days. The girl that was having it wasn’t very nice (imagine that!). There was this really cool bed in a loft area with an entire skylight over the bed and there was a really neat photograph of a husky that I think Moira’s brother took, AND there was this crazy caviar pie which was the best damn thing I have ever had. They also had flavored vodka that they were serving in little etched colored shot glasses. I am not particularly proud of this, but for some reason, in my “altered” state, I felt that it was necessary to “liberate” the little colored glasses from the mean hostess. Honestly. Like I was “saving” them or something.

It was New Year’s Eve. And I remember dancing and then afterwards Moira and I drove across Memorial Bridge—several times—as the sun came up. We were in my 1970 VW Bug and Moira was standing up on the seat with her head through the sun roof. We were 18 or 19.

So anyways, for some weird reason, the shot glasses and the caviar pie stayed with me and one day I typed in “caviar pie” on and up it came. Seriously! I made the zany thing and it turned out just like Mean Lisa’s!

Sunday was “Scout Sunday” and you know what that means!!! Mandatory church attendance with my li’l scout. And because I was feeling reckless, I took Ian too. Nick was REALLY nervous about it. Of course, just because he goes against type with everything, he was a perfect angel in church. Except he had to mess with the kneeling apparatus, because every kid in the entire universe has to mess with that thing. He clung to me and basically, he was so damn thrilled to have me ALL TO HIMSELF for 50 minutes, that he didn’t really care what the venue was.

Nick and the other scouts came in with the priest and the altar kids. It’s so emotional for me. Go figure. To see my son in the processional. They sit in reserved pews and Nick loves it. I went up for communion and the priest blessed Ian. Then we went home.
Barbara and Marie invited us over for savory small pies and a drink and then we got in our sled (figuratively) and whisked off to Sheila’s annual holiday party, which is the most splendid event of the season. It is when Charles Dickens comes out to play and the whole spirit and feeling of the late 19th century is reenacted. People come from all over and from all walks of life, ages, interests, etc. and Sheila’s table literally groans--not with food, that sounds so pedestrian-- victuals is more appropriate. Hot artichoke and crab dip, Virginny ham and biscuits, a rich strata, cookies, fudge, venison, cheeses, caviar pie.

The holiday party is a chance to see the same people—the people that we see once a year, or maybe twice. The kids love it and instantly fold into the house and all know each other from year to year. Jon beams and brags about how he didn’t do anything, Sheila flits around delightedly. It’s just so fun. Because, I think, Sheila puts her whole heart into it. Which made me think about Iago a little bit and how sometimes there’s someone on the fringes and you can just feel that they are not experiencing the happenings in the same way. And then there were the moments where I was standing, talking to someone, and I thought, here it is, this is life. Like: quickly right now, this is life. Happening. All at once. Amid spices and flavors and aromas and children and GLUGG.

Glugg is a rich naughty Icelandic blend of Aquavit, burned sugar, cardamom, whole figs, slivered almonds, vodka and red wine.

We all get together with these potions and spells and recipes and feelings and recreations and we evolve. I’ve been pregnant at that party, I’ve had small babies at that party, and last night I had all three kids, running up and down the stairs they once couldn’t scale. Sheila’s parents used to invite my parents up the street for Glugg every year. Sheila’s son and my son (Ian) body slammed a sweet woman on the couch together.

It was time to go home and none of us wanted to leave. Lots of rich colors, tapestries, old statues, gilt mirrors, echoes and reverberations.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Willy Loman and the Downtown Train

The problem with speaking fluent subtext is, it gets really loud in meetings sometimes. And trains.


What I have noticed about meetings is: no one likes them. Everyone has them. People like to digress in meetings. Meetings are an excuse to get up and go to a different room and sit down and doodle, get nervous when it's your turn to speak, and zone out when it's someone’s else’s turn. It is also a time to watch your colleagues to see how hard everyone is trying to impress Le Grande Fromage.

I had a meeting recently with an updated Willy Loman sort of fellow—an anachronism circa 1965 in the IBM uniform—white shirt, blue suit, festive tie. The costume least likely to offend. And all of these montages started to play out—the lonely businessman crying at the foot of a prostitute's bed; the encroaching realization that the trinkets of his ordered life—the slim pleather portfolio, the briefcase with the worn handles, the useless Blackberry that he reaches for to suffocate an awkward moment—are all meaningless. His inability to classify; the inert neutrality of his stare, robbed of all sexual inquiry in literal keeping with all personnel dictums; the cheap chiseled-for-extra-glintiness wedding band—another relic from a bygone era—the clear belief that adhering to all the unwritten strictures of protocol will yield The Reward.

Watching him struggling with the exterior, the sham, the role, the costume, the suit, the plainess of right and wrong, the black and whiteness of it all, made me sad. He didn’t like looking at me. It was something about my eyes and my glasses and maybe the fact that I wasn’t playing by the rules. Maybe he could tell I could see him crying at the foot of a hooker’s bed. You know that’s not true. People like that never realize that the scam isn’t working.

The other subtext was, he wasn’t ready for this new job. He had been a company man, something must have happened, they didn’t need him anymore, here’s a new opportunity, the title sounds good! But he’s not happy. It’s not the same. Past the old heyday. A million references to “When I was at…” This is indicative of someone who feels ripped off because the groove has shifted. He had it good. He had his own well-worn path, a groove if his own and now... Now there are all the young people, the stupid underlings. The good title can’t mask that these are just laundry lists of silly to-dos.

That vacant friendly insecure misogynistic stare. The blankness of the outfit, the false gaiety of the seasonal tie. The raised eyebrows and business-perfect smile at a cocktail reception later. The loneliness and perfunctory rigidity just emanating across the room. The hollow little rituals some people feel the need to perpetuate. It must be comforting, making them believe the planets are all aligned and the correctness and the nonoffending nature of their demeanor somehow ensures that they are in synch with the larger plan of the universe.

I think I have a hard time with people who think that playing by the rules guarantees a reward. I also have a hard time with …people who are not real and who use props and symbols and stock phrases and clothes to mask the messy chaotic chicken blood spattered reality of life.

It’s sort of a simplistic approach to the world. White shirt, blue pinstripe. Like he’d taken a vacuum and sucked all the impurities and imperfections out of everything.


So I have a hard time. In meetings and on trains. It just gets too loud—all the thoughts and posturing and fake visages. It’s like having really loud schizophrenia. All the voices and my own mind racing to conclusions. The 67 year old former ballerina on the Metro last night. Stop making me wonder how beautiful you used to be. All haughty and yet defeated on the butternut squash colored Naugahyde of the Bethesda train to downtown.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005


We got a fair dusting. A fairytale enhancement to the landscape. Sugar coating. A genteel sufficiency.
Montgomery County schools? Two hours late, naturellement. That’s the one thing I neglected to mention yesterday—the two hours late business gets really old after awhile. It’s the full Monty you’re looking for, and that is the government closing. That’s where there’s no guilt all around.

Nick said it was the best morning in the world. He started a snow fort and made the perfect snowball, which Ian summarily crushed with one boot stroke. (Daisy was only an onlooker). Depsite his momentary snowball setback, he had a great time.

Daisy, like a true girl, was FAR more excited about donning her iridescent purple snowsuit. But once her dainty hands got buried in the snow, she was ready for a teary repair to the inner sanctum of the chalet. Ian didn’t like it when the snow found a way to trickle into the space between his sleeve and his mitten. He shook his hand in fury and looked up to the skies in Biblical indignation, like Job.
I am having coffee typing on the computer. I am sitting at home with the sun streaming in. All the trees still have the snow delicately lining their boughs, all the way up. That intricate winter filigree thing.

As I said, I am drinking coffee. I am sitting at home on my computer. I know this would get old if I did it every day. RIGHT? I know. I wouldn’t be able to afford the daycare, which is granting me this serenity right now.

I saw my neighbors this morning. Barbara kindly asked me about my job. My job is great. There is no doubt about it. Nice people, excellent location, worthwhile subject matter. I am no longer working for a dishonest water buffalo. And yet…Don’t you hate the “and yet” part? That’s the part of your secret crummy heart—that fickle worthless place—that refuses to be satisfied. That always wonders, um…is this enough? Why aren’t I happier? That’s so dumb. Be grateful…be grateful…be grateful. I am so grateful and so mindful and Christian and perfect on this subject of being thankful for what I have. And yet tormented that I know it’s not enough. Not only is it not enough, it is not what I want. And yet the olde Clydesdale can’t seem to outfox The Man. Damn Oprah! Follow your dreams and all that.

Time for the shower. The lather rinse repeat. It’s OK. Just the customary, frivolous life assessment. It will be quiet driving in. Transformed landscape. Everyone will be more holiday-oriented. The snow is the best special effect—the seasonal fairy sprinkle that alters the picture and puts us in mind of The Season. And all that.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Of Sled Dogs and Snowflakes...

It is supposed to snow today in our Nation’s Capital and you know what that means!!! Widespread panic! Oh yeah, then there will be the inevitable party poopers, the dorks who grew up in NORWAY/Antarctica/fill in the blank, where they get 15 feet of snow, even in the summer, who write snarky op-ed columns about what losers DC residents are. We’re not losers! We just like panicking in the snow BECAUSE we like snow days.

Listen, in a city where people take themselves as seriously as they do here—the snow day is mammoth. This is a company town and the company is the gummint. You either work for the gummint or you feed off it like a parasite, as I do. That’s called being a “consultant.” We don’t like the word “contractor,” so save that for your dishwasher installer.

Anyway, this town is so straight-laced, wonky and gooby that the ONLY fun we really truly have is our addiction to freaking out about snow. It’s like living on the North Pole—everyone’s a believer. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E freaks out, talks about it incessantly, buys too much toilet paper/milk/snow shovels/frozen pizza and then waits for the gummint to close—please oh please. Parents PRAY that school will be closed. Oh they PRETEND to be irritated and there is frequent mention of “I grew up in Buffalo/Minneapolis/Nova Scotia/Alaska…” But the real inside dirty secret is, WE LOVE OUR WEENIE SNOW STATUS!!! Because it is the only time goofing off is sanctioned.

In DC when it snows it is “snow” of course, not the real SNOW of the northern steppes. No, our “snow” is precious! A wee dusting and the Gov closes and everyone starts driving VERY BADLY, (not to be confused with Every Day Bad), and MONTGOMERY COUNTY public schools basically close for the entire winter. Give or take. Which is GREAT because I live in…Montgomery County! Of course Catholic schools answer to a higher authority, but they often go the way of the county schools.

Talk of snow naturally leads me to Sled Dog, or Chien de Sled, a lemony bitch I used to work with who accused me (imagine!) of using my kids’ snow days as a way of intentionally missing work! She would get progressively huffy if I was late or if I--GOD FORBID--called in to say my kids’ daycare/school was closed or something. Yeah, imagine my nerve.

Sled Dog, who was unmarried and did not have children (quel surpris, mais non) would get up early AND WATCH THE SCHOOL CLOSINGS to see if I was telling the truth. True story. Clearly, she was not with the DC program. Hmm, that reminds me. I’ll have to write about Sled Dog one day. You’ll love hearing about her. Because who doesn’t have a bitter, sad, resentful, little twerp lurking in the shadows? Hmmm? The little troll with no make-up who sits like a hunched turtle at her computer monitoring when everyone comes in to work and when they leave and how long they take for lunch. People like that make me want to HURL. She was the kind of person who would say, “I am going to skip lunch today because I’m going out for dinner tonight.” You do that.

See the problem is, people like that think that there is a logical grid to the cosmos and that they can reapportion time, space, calories and snowflakes into a fusion of centered complicity. They think they can CONTROL the universe. My beef (or boeuf) with people like this (it is an archetype) is that they think there is an invisible balance, level or gauge somewhere in the planetary web that weighs all of our contributions on a big fat scale somewhere. Hence, the resentment. In their petty, vengeful minds, Other People are somehow scamming the universe, chalking up endless hours of fun and laziness and contentment while they, the worker drone bees, are keeping the planets aligned with their selfless commitment to toting that bale. You know it's true.

ANYWAY, we all love our “snow” days BECAUSE we love our prized little time-honored excuse to go SLEDDING somewhere really picturesque in DC, like Battery Kemble, with our kids, so we can relive the slushy, wet butt fun of careening down a hill toward a tree screaming our lungs out. We “pretend” to think it’s all “ridiculous” but we all enable one another. The weathermen start manning the SNOW EMERGENCY HEADQUARTERS, the grocery stores start hiding the milk to create a frenzy, the Washington Post starts camping out at Battery Kemble to photograph the patented yearly saucer flying over a bump, and Pop Tarts become scarcer than hen’s teeth.

And Sled Dog, who now lives in Alaska, because she doesn’t like snow and sold her condominium waaaaaaaaaaaaay before the DC housing bubble even thought about popping, is probably sitting in an igloo somewhere missing the winter rite of passage here in DC. She probably had to hire a pack of Iditarod dogs to hoof it to work, while we all "bite our nails" in anticipation of the wintry “deluge.”

My office is ordering pizza for all of us (which is the nicest thing I have heard of, honestly). In case we have to leave early. And, so far, not a flake has fallen.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Wild Horses

It’s hard to say who gets broken in the mornings, me or my wild pony Ian. Because, as I said yesterday, by the time I am lurching toward the car like a fevered hurtling train (as the Waterboys would say) I feel like my spirit, body and mind have been summarily broken.

Ian came into our room at about 3:30 in the morning, so he infiltrated my system early. Unlike other wonderful, loving, fabulous parents, I DO NOT like it when my kids crawl into bed with me. I LOATHE it, as a matter of fact. Because I am really weird about “boundaries,” even tho I don’t like speaking in psycho lingo. Boundaries. My bed is for me. It is for sleep. And whatever else you do that you know I do OTHERWISE I WOULDN’T HAVE THREE KIDS. But it is NOT an interim kiddie bed.

My friend Eve said, “Oh but sometimes it’s delicious.” Eve said that because she is an adoring, loving, doting perfect mother. And I am a grumpy mean nasty bed grinch. BED GRINCH ALERT!

Well, and Ian is not your garden variety kid. Or maybe he is, I don’t know. But he tends to suck the life, blood and marrow out of everyone he loves, and he doesn’t stop when he’s sleeping. He is 40 pounds of compactly distributed toddler body mass and he is the type of kid who barnacles himself to you in bed, no matter how subtly and deftly you try and pry him loose. And he is a big breather-in-the-face. That hot, salty, snot-nougat toddler breath. Mmmm. And he snores.

When he woke up he came tumbling down the stairs, grumpy and confused, already defying the day for starting. And we were off to the races. “I want hard boiled eggs!” “We don’t have any.” “YES WE DO!! I WANT HARD BOILED EGGS! Do I HAVE to go to Nina’s today?" “Yes.” “Why?”

Then I went upstairs for my shower. Woke up Daisy who sat in her crib with those precious swollen toddler bed eyes, staring at her blanket. Sweet girl. Nick corralled the younguns downstairs. He made them each a waffle and got them their juice. All hail Nick! I told him I didn’t know what the hell I would do without him. I said “hell.” I didn’t mean to. He was really appreciative.

I could just feel the morning unraveling, slipping away from me. I had to open yet another package from Eddie Bauer with appropriately “casual” wear for dreaded “casual” Friday. If I were nominated for an Oscar, I would spend less time getting dressed than I do for “casual” Friday. And let’s not forget, I have a NEW job and so I have to dress “casual” PERFECT. Matching jewelry, carefully calibrated “insouciance.” AGONY.

Last night at the table Ian all of a sudden starting singing this Beautiful South song about a cad who lists all these women’s names: Annabel, Jessica, Phillipa, Sue…I wrote this song for you…” Except he combined lyrics from U2 and that song, which Nick picked out. He sang, “Annabel, Jessica, Phillipa, Sue…no one gets hurt!” Which was a little disconcerting, especially coming from the Terminator. “No one gets hurt!”

I am very proud of m’ son Nick, as you might have discerned. He is very intelligent and polite and funny and just all around a splendid little boy. But Nick’s favorite talent of mine is his UNCANNY ability to decipher lyrics!!! Like, to me, that is the most exciting thing! Honestly, that kid can pick apart any song and he has some amazing taste too.

I showed him how to make his own CD from iTunes—he has his own iTunes list—and he made a very nice CD. He asked if we could listen to it in the car this morning. And it was so weird to be driving along, listening to my son’s CD. U2, Green Day, Outkast, Travis and then, just as I was turning into the garage, Jakob Dylan. My son’s selections. Next he wants to download The Killers’ I got Soul But I’m not a Soldier.

Anyway, as we were leaving the house, Ian burst through the door and let it slam right into Daisy’s face. He ran out into the front yard and said, “I want to run through the field!” And I thought how apt it was that I tell people I feel like I’ve been given a wild mustang every morning that I have to break by 8:00 a.m. There was my pony, running with his arms in the air through the “field” of our front yard. Daisy trotted out to the car. Nick was in the front seat, and I had to retrieve the mustang from the field and strap him into the car. At the babysitter’s he held onto me. My little anomaly—the wild spirited rebel, so full of love that he can’t break the tie that began at 3:30 a.m.

Then I drop off Nick at school. He sees another little boy and they race for the front door.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Morning Basketcase Bingo

In the kitchen this morning, as he prepared his own bagel and a bagel for Ian, Nick said, “I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamt that the real world and the fantasy world combined to form an apocalyptic world.” I said, “Hmmm. Well. I hope you’re not right about that!” And descended into the basement to face the elliptical.

My elliptical sits, in the furnace room, facing the panoramic view of—the furnace—AND a bald light bulb. It’s so exciting! But I love it. Cuz you know I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. BECAUSE I read the paper whilst on the elliptical in a funky multitasking exercise that is probably a lot better for the op-ed side of my brain than my buns of steel. But who the hell cares. At least I make an appearance! It’s sort of like locking myself in a room to have my own damn time for 30 minutes every day. So I was not thrilled when Nick came down and said, “Mommy, Ian is screaming his head off and being impossible.” But then he followed it with, “I haven’t even eaten my bagel. Now I know how you feel.”

Then we got the mandated visit from Master Ian the Terminator, in his grey and yellow Batman jammies—he looks like Batman: The Hard Boiled Egg (what with the colors and all). He stands there and does the Coy Whiny Thing. He knows I am irritated, he mumbles, he fingers items on the basement shelves; he asks me what I’m doing… I finally get off the pony and chase him back up the stairs. If I can’t have 30 crummy minutes masked in exercising virtue to read the Wash Post, then I DON’T KNOW WHAT.

Came upstairs, Ian was super poopy, still whining, Nick was crumpled in half, too tall for the kiddy table that was once his very own banquet table for one, reading the comics, eating his bagel and half watching Read Between the Lions. I changed the poopy diaper with Ian wriggling, whining, resisting, and started to feel: persecuted. Yes, persecution usually follows the existential breakdown. Existential breakdown followed by that sunny persecution feeling, with a side of free floating depression. Hold the mayo!

Um, I don’t know what it is with Ian, but he trounces on every single solitary nerve I have, and then he reaches in further and finds the last crumpled remains of a nerve and crushes that too. He is what is known as exasperating. Everything is “no,” or “why” or “do I have to” and he is only THREE, not 16. He is wild, unpredictable, contrary, impish, mischievous, naughty, adorable, perfectly divine, and IRRITATING.
You know the Jonathan Saffron Foer novel Everything is Illuminated? Well my life is Everything is Irritating. And he and I went to the same high school! Coincidence???????

I lurch through the morning, playing a wicked game with beat the clock. New job, must be on time, doncha know. MUST be out of the house by 7:50 or the whole house of cards is in disarray. Nick tries to put Ian’s coat on and chases him around the house. He finally says, “I had to hog tie him to get his jacket on.” I laughed so hard. Meanwhile, Daisy stands in the living room with her yellow jacket on, her hair combed; her teeth voluntarily brushed and says, “I’m RIDDY Mommy!” With such pride of accomplishment and cooperation.

Nick has his backpack ready and is in his coat. We hurtle through the door, the babies running to the car, and Nick stands there, quietly, with no fanfare, holding the storm door for me as I lock the house. Honestly, it’s the most touching part of every morning for me. I never told him to do it, he just does it. It breaks my heart, if you want to know the truth. Then we get to the babysitter’s and I fumble and unbuckle and liberate the babies from the constraints and hold their little hands and cross the street to her house. As I cross the street I think, I’ve just lived an entire lifetime and it’s not even 7:57 a.m.


Cynicism is another word for reality

Email me, you derelict wastrel

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