Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Baby Birdies Need Pitas too

I had to finish up some reading for my Temple class today and so sat outside to eat a chicken wrap from the Grub Truck (by the way, the guy sends you his love, Ms. A. and K.). I realized when I was almost done eating that I was being taken over by curious sparrows, their heads cocked toward me and their black button eyes honing in on my sandwich. I would toss out a small scrap (without the honey mustard) and they would hop over and grab the piece and a couple of them would squabble over it. I felt very popular and generous. One mother bird fed the pita to her baby bird who didn't look much like a baby anymore, except he was peeping and shaking his feathers and had his beak open wide to be fed.

For our writing class yesterday, our teacher laid out a blanket and then place several different objects on it: a blue teapot, a vase, a retainer, a shell, two masks, a skeleton key, a smashed up license plate, and a few other things. We were to choose one of the objects and then use it as a way into the writing. I picked the key and this is what I wrote:

She can’t now remember why she holds the key pinched between her fingers. It is as if she has been dreaming and come to; isn’t sure either how long she has been standing on the back porch step in her nightgown with the white moon shining above the barn roof. Her feet tingle and that means she’s been there long enough for the chill September night to begin to turn her toes numb.

She has a song stuck in her head too; one she hasn’t thought about in ages and ages, not since she was a little girl. She’d sign it with her sister Margaret. They’d scream it practically with delight while they were out back on the swing, pumping their legs hard to see you who could go higher until it almost appeared that one of them would rocket off into space.

They sang-screamed because they could. Because they lived in the country and there was no one to overhear them except the animals and their mother. Her mother, who she always conjures first as being in the kitchen, as if she never went anywhere else. Just mother in the kitchen wearing a pressed apron and whisking batter in quick, precise strokes with a flat wooden spoon.

The song was called “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates.” She and her sister Margaret did both have roller skates at one time. A Christmas present even though the driveway was gravel and the rest of the yard made of grass or hard-pressed dirt. They skated instead on the cement in the basement, next to the huge white meat freezer which hummed as they went around and around.

The skates were the kind you fit over top of your shoes. They came together with a neat little key that you could hang around your neck.

Not like the key she holds now. She places it in her palm. No, this is a skeleton key, an old-fashioned key meant to fit into forgotten places—the small cellar door in the back of the house or the stable where they used to keep horses, or the lock on her mother’s truck which she opened only every once in a great while so that each time remained special, a hiccup in an ordinary day. She would show them one or two things at a time—a slippery green dress with thin shoulder straps, a black velvet clutch with a ladybug snap and a tiny mirror that tucked neatly into the interior pocket, and best of all, their own baby clothes, impossible tiny bonnets and white dresses with faded daises embroidered around the collars.

It had been hard to imagine that there were parts of her life she couldn’t remember. She couldn’t recall one single line from a lullaby or a view from the crib. Nothing. How could that be?

Now, she understands. There are whole years she has forgotten and faces she has lost. Things like this key and not knowing where it fits or how she came to be holding it. At some time, it must have been important. She closes the key in her fist, pressing tight, waiting to remember something more.

The end...It's funny the random idea that will appear from a certain trigger--this narrator is for sure an older woman, older than I am now, even older than a "woman of a certain age." A lot of people in class excel in the freewriting--they can come up with some breathtaking sentences and images. The teacher says that every writer has his or her own emotional acre--the landscape that they are most familiar with or intrigued by and that they go back to again and again in their writing. For instance, one woman in our class was married for awhile to a man from Vietnam who had survived the prison camps there. So, part of her acre is writing about him, their relationship, and how his past and her own past and cultures intersected. I mean, assuming she's interested in writing about it, which I think she is.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Laughter is the best best best

Julie and I were talking today for awhile during work and she found something on the Web that she sent me as a link and I have not laughed that hard in a really, really, really long time (well, except for the other day when Liz almost made me pee). But I was crying, it was almost painful to laugh that much. And coincidentally, there's a line in Jazz, the Toni Morrison book I read for tomorrow's class, that's about laughter and how it is about the most serious thing in the world. I'll try to find the quote to put in here after my class today.

So Liz is moved in to her new air conditioned, windowy apartment on Wilder and she let me come over to do laundry and I did not bring her a present and I ate all of her food. But I am a friendly neighbor!

Jodie's coming for a visit tomorrow and I can't wait! I bought an air mattress at Target the other day so that she can have her own room (in the second whatever it is. Closet?). She may be surrounded by shoes and skirts, but she will not have to contend with Emma Carol in her face (unless she wants it). EC is forevermore known as The Licker, because she will not stop grooming you if you let her near you. It's not wholly unpleasant, but it's kind of gross and hurts slightly. I have a deep scratch on my arm that I got at some point yesterday--before bed? Seems like that's when it happened, if I remember correctly.

Here's a situation someone I know was in recently and I am wondering what the correct etiquette is in this particular scenario.

Scene: A date at a nice restaurant where the waiters wear ties and speak in low voices. The woman excuses herself to use the bathroom which is one of those single rooml unisex byob type bathrooms with a candle and low lights. And it really smells. Bad. And it's not her fault. She just has to do a little tinkle in a very ladylike and quiet fashion and that's it. So she does. And then she goes back out to the table and takes a seat and her date says, Okay, I'm going to go wash my hands now. What should she do to keep the date from thinking that she has just excused herself to go paint the bowl and then come back out and order penne pescadaro in a white wine sauce?

a). Blurt out, "It stinks in there! It wasn't me though!"

b). Grab his arm as he's getting up to go and say, "I have to tell you something really important before you wash your hands" and pray that she can stall him until either a different person goes into the bathroom or the smell has time to dissipate.

c). Other??

Sunday, May 27, 2007

How is it already Sunday?

I woke up a little disoriented this morning for some reason--couldn't at first remember if it was Saturday or Sunday. We have tomorrow off for whatever special day it is---Memorial? Labor? The 4th of July?

Yesterday, had my second appointment with the chiropractor, a very nice man who cracks my neck with a loud pop. I started going because my friend from work sees him and she told me that our insurance will pay for the massages he prescribes--this happens to be true. I've had one half hour massage so far and another scheduled for next Saturday. My only complaint is that the massage therapist talked a lot. It's really hard to carry on a coherent conversation with someone when your face is stuffed into a cushion and that other person is pummeling your back with her fists. Somehow, we managed. Every time I go to see the chiropractor, I am reminded of that book, The Road to Wellville--the book about the guy who started this sauna/spa/resort for bored rich people. The chiropractor does this weird thing where he loosens my spine by moving my legs a certain way. I can't decide if it's all bullshit or what. He gave me shrugging exercises to do. I did them. I am a very obedient patient even as I'm doubting your authenticity.

Friday night, went to Art After Five at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I bought Shawn and I a dual membership to the museum for Christmas and have never once used it or set foot in the museum. The membership gives you free access to the museum at any time and to a bunch of other places in Philadelphia and New York. On Friday's, they have live music and wine and you can walk around and look at everything. They have a pretty comprehensive Marcel Duchamp collection, including his urinal. Here's the kind of paintings that leave me blank: landscapes and impressionism. I took an entire class on impressionism when I worked at Northwestern and still never learned to like it. I also vaguely remember taking a class on John Singer Sargeant, but could that be true? An entire class? I remember nothing about him except I think he owned a country house.

Had to get a point of clarity from my new neighbor, Miss Liz, about the term "chuff" (chest muff). I understood that chuff referred to someone with lots and lots of chest hair, most likely visible. But then I met a man who has visible chest hair, but not a lot of it. You could just see it and his shirt wasn't unbuttoned to his navel or anything. Liz told me that this is what is known as "chuffing."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CB for my girls (image by Ana Benaroya)

What is it that makes someone socially awkward? Is it a way of walking, with toes splayed out or head jutting forward? Or is it how you hold your body in a chair with your knees too far apart or too close together? I guess it's this palatable sense that you are worried about how you appear to others that makes one seem awkward. I know I'm awkward on many occasions--I don't like long pauses and fill them with jabber, I don't like conflict and will deflect it with a joke or a self-deprecating comment, and I don't like being stuck in a conversation with another awkward person for more than 2 minutes. And there's definitely a difference between nerdy people and strictly awkward people--though you can be a nerdy awkward person, you aren't necessarily always an awkward nerdy person. I've known plenty of nerds who seemed utterly fine with themselves and though maybe were boring, they weren't charged with this strange energy awkward people have. I'm always afraid that an awkward person will totally fall apart or do something really embarrassing that I'll then have to play off as normal to avoid further shame. Like, his glasses will fly off and shatter or an unintentional bodily noise will escape him or he'll ask an inappropriate question and then try to get out of it, but end up saying something even more weird and uncomfortable. My friend here uses the phrase awkward sort of interchangeably with the word "douchebag" but I would argue that a douchebag is someone who is both awkward and jerky at once. I don't know if awkwardness is something you can grow out of though I guess it must be because I certainly don't feel as ridiculous now as I from the ages 12-15--the adolescent years are the hardest in terms of being self-conscious and not knowing where to put your hands. In your pockets? One hand on hip and the other dangling? Help!

On my way to work most mornings, I pass a Catholic middle school and it is the best for catching a few horrible adolescent moments. Today, I saw a 12 year old girl trying to show off to another girl and boy her age by doing some kind of cheer that maybe she'd seen on One Tree Hill or the OC. It was horrible.

And sometimes, you'll find that the awkward person has a certain funny little smell; I think it's the smell of fear.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Subway

I love the subway. I saw a girl on the train yesterday who had grown her hair past her knees. She had it in one long braid. My dream at the age of 10---to have Rapunzel hair. When she stood up to exit the train, the end of her braid brushed against my knee. Also, in the morning, I sat across from this high school age boy in a bright pink shirt. He was very cute and sweet looking. Later in the day, on the way to the doctor's office, I saw the same kid. I recognized him because of the shirt. There are two kinds of people who ride on the subway--those who are nervous about getting out of the subway car in time and so make you stand up before we've reached the stop and those who wait until the last second to get up and out. I am the latter. I like to think I'm tricking people who think they can predict what I'm going to do next. You know, because so many people are watching and all.

I didn't go to my class last night b/c I had two appts., but I did ask the teacher for the writing assignment and she sent it to me. I've been trying to write for 10 minutes each morning, just for two weeks, just to get back in the habit. Her writing exercise is as follows:

Use one of the following to "kick off" your writing, whether directly as a
first line, an epigraph, or as an theme/idea behind the scenes. Feel free to
modify the line in any way that's helpful, for instance, changing "I" to
"he" "she" or a name, changing tense, or even adding or substituting words.

". . . I have been practicing
a new way to say hello and it is fantastic."
(Matthew Rohrer)

"The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell."
(Eavan Boland)

" It is winter
and the stars are hidden."
(Eavan Boland)

"How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder."
(Eavan Boland)

"Because it turns out the world really is a hospital,"
(William Olsen)
I picked the first line and wrote this piece that seems to be from the point of view of a business man. The other free write I did on Tuesday morning was called "The Cat Lady Cometh" and is about someone who decides to give up any hope of ever meeting anyone and just keep getting
more and more cats. Just like in my real life!

Tonight, I'll be attending my first grad class at Temple, something about displacement and Toni Morrison and the diaspora and all that other academic jargon that I've been away from for several years now. I read the introduction to our theoretical text and felt myself getting dumber and dumber. It reminded me of my first grad class, Queer Theory and how I couldn't believe it when someone said, "And all of this just springs from the primordial ooze of the subconscious mind, right?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Winnie Won

Sorry to spoil it for your, but Winnie/Tessa is the nation's newest most famous engaged person to the Bachelor from Ipenama. This is of course the only important show in the entire season and I missed all but the last five minutes of it due to social obligations. I saw him smile when he spotted WT coming down the aisle, I saw her Little Mermaid blue dress, I saw him get down on one knee and he asked her to marry him and she said yes and then I think he spun her around in a circle and nearly dropped her off the edge of the balcony into the water. Here he is trying to pick her up and almost toppling over b/c they weigh about the same:

Isn't this the dorkiest picture you've ever seen? It looks so awkward and painful for both of them. Anyway, I have no idea what he said to Bevin but I bet she faked a heart attack right after he told her she wasn't going to be his special lady. Tonight is the special "tell all" show so I'll watch that, and try to be a better show correspondent for one last time. I'm sorry, Jess! What happened??

Monday, May 21, 2007

What the hell are you worried about anyway?

Shawn (who insists that if I had gotten to mentioning him in the last post about music, would've written that Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" reminds me of him. I guess this is true, but it wouldn't have been my first choice) sent me a link to a blog of a woman who has been fighting breast cancer--who went into remission and got married and bought a house and who now is having a recurrence of the cancer. It sort of puts into perspective the dumb shit that I obsess over every day--my appearance, my writing, my lack of savings--and makes me realize that I could be grappling with much, much more. And maybe will some day, but not today. She's doing all of this positive stuff like visualization and meditation and reading and holistic medicine and unholistic medicine--everything she can attempt to fight back. Don't you wonder how you would do in a similar situation? My fear is that I would give up immediately and become a morphine addict right away. I'd be given the diagnosis, and before the doctor could finish his/her sentence or discuss options, I would have my sleeve rolled up and be tapping for a vein.

I don't think I've ever had to face any serious adversity. I've never been a hostage or kidnapped or held at gunpoint or attacked or run over by a car; have never been seriously ill or hospitalized for anything. No broken bones, no overnight stays to determine a cause of pain, no stitches, crutches, or bandages. I had my wisdom teeth out and that wasn't fun, but it only took a couple of hours and I was under anesthesia the whole time. Oh, wait, I did have stitches once--in college, on my pinky finger because I cut it on a mirror. I have that scar and the one of the top of my left foot which I think was from either getting my foot stuck in the back wheel of a bicycle or falling on a piece of broken glass. I can't remember. Shoot, I just thought of a few others, but my point is that I haven't had anything really difficult or challenging happen to me, not like my cousin who was hit by a car when she was little and had to spend months in a wheelchair and learn to walk again. Not like my uncle whose son was killed in a fight. Our neighbor's dog died when I was 12. That's about it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm Dating my i-Pod

I am deeply in love with my i-Pod. You know how the ad campaign shows people dancing around while listening to their little silver music contraptions? That's accurate. That does happen. I just did a little dance for Ernesto because Liz Phair's "Why Can't I" came on during my shuffle selection. Ernesto was not impressed. Really, though, it's crazy that you can have every single song you love all in one place. I didn't realize that I knew so many songs that make me want to stand up and shake my money maker. Still, I tend to listen to the same artists over and over again--Liz Phair is one and also Aimee Manna and my worst, worst guilty pleasure is Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone. I like a song that uses bad grammar. (Now playing: Scandal's "Goodbye to You.") I should write an essay about how certain songs remind me every time of one person or another. And so for just that song, I'm thinking about whoever the "he" is (almost always a "he"). Lots of guys in my life who either have good taste in music or who happened to be around when a particular song was popular. Just a few off the top of my head:

R.E.M.'s "Strange Currencies" reminds me of Chicago and dating M.D. , a bartender/writer ten years my senior who also had a serious drinking problem (Absolut vodka on the rocks). He was a tough Italian guy with a deep romantic streak. I think he bought Monster for me when we were in the midst of breaking up. Here are a few lines from that song that sum up our relationship succinctly: "And I don't know what you mean to me/I want turn you on, turn you up, figure out, I want to take you on...These words, you will be mine." (I might be getting some of that wrong. Michael Stipe is a bit of a jumbled singer). He couldn't get it together; he tried, but by the time he wanted to get me back, I was done.

Liz Phair's "Why Can't I" reminds me of M--I was listening to that song a lot when he was around. "Got a girlfriend you say it isn't right...What it is is just the beginning (note: more bad grammar). We're already wet and we're going to go swimming...It's inevitable, it's a fact that we're going to get down to it." He did have a girlfriend in fact when we met and for the remainder of our knowing each other, but we had this instant attraction that seemed impossible to resist. "Why can't I breath whenever think about you/When I can't I speak whenever I talk about you..." etc. Coincidentally, when he left, the song that applied most aptly to our relationship was Liz Phair's "Fuck and Run." (Sorry, mom).

And then there are all those songs from the 80s when I had horrible crushes on high school boys. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" reminds me of the blue Converse sneaker wearing RD who played keyboard in a Christian rock band and was the only reason I was (fakely) saved twice. We had this low level flirtation for about four years and finally, finally kissed. I wrote him about a mini story about it later--using a game of tennis as a euphemism for our making out entitled "Will You Still Lob Me Tomorrow?" He didn't find me amusing. He once told a mutual friend that he couldn't date me because my chest was too big. I guess God doesn't approve of buxom girls. He married a demure girl who wore Laura Ashley dresses and really did want to be saved from Jesus.

The Outfield's "Use Your Love" (or whatever it's called) brings back Jimmy Deputy--he was a senior who went to a different high school and was always the star of the plays and musicals. I'd see him a couple of time a year at the high school Thespian competitions. I tricked him into going out with me--it's sort of a long, convoluted story. I used to work at a beach tourist shop and had this really silly friend, Shannon (I have her memorialized on my iPod with the song "What Have You Done for Me Lately..." She owned an old Dodge Dart that didn't have a stereo so we would drive around listening to Janet Jackson's Control on a portable tape recorder. She always changed the lyrics and would sing things like "What Have You Done for me, Stanley?" We knew a Stanley. I thought she was the funniest person in the world and she could also do hair really well because her mom was a hair dresser). Anyway, Shannon and I worked together and one night, we prank called Jimmy Deputy, using a British accent and pretending to be a girl he'd met at a Christmas party. "I am staying on the beach if you want to meet me at the Shirt Cellar." He fell for it and showed up. I pretended to be surprised to see him, asked him what he was doing there. He made up an excuse and then took me to buy a yogurt. If he ever figured it out, he never said. He drove me home and jokingly dipped me at the front door and kissed me in a sort of pretend romantic comedy way. It was the best.

Oh, and Basia's "Time and Tide" is TB--another person who was older than me. I was 18 and he was 26 when we met. I thought he was so grown up because he listened to Basia and Sade instead of like Twisted Sister. "We've got time/Oh baby there's no rush/Gonna be a better day for us. Hang on and I will wait for you" Yes, he was involved with someone else too. "Don't want to hurt anybody, but can't help loving you." I truly believed that. Oh, also "Tom's Diner" I guess because it's a sad song about someone waiting for her lover to show up and there's a line at the end "...I am thinking of your voice." I waited for him for a long time but once again, by the time he was ready, I had moved away, to another state in fact.

Probably my biggest obsession in college was another drama major, MC. So handsome--curly hair, bright blue eyes, and always a flush of blond stubble on his square jaw. We once made out on the darkened theatre stage where they were putting on a production of some Russian drama; he was, of course, the leading man. He once said to me, "You're a puzzle." I had no idea what he meant--I thought I was as transparent as a ghost to him. He would go away and come back and sometimes, he would seem not to know who I was, but other times, he would look at me like there was no one else in the entire world but he and I. The funny thing is that I can't at the moment remember what songs belong to him. Oh, okay, yes, more R.E.M. songs "Losing My Religion" because there's a line in it like "That's me in the corner...That's me in the spotlight..." Maybe that's just because he looked a little bit like Michael Stipe, although not as gay. Also, "It's the End of the World as We Know It." Impossible to listen to that song without dancing around like Armageddon is around the corner. Seriously, I challenge you to listen to that song without moving to the beat.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hooray!

It's my birthday for the next 40 minutes--still time to send gifts. I took today off from work, woke up late, and had 3 happy birthday messages on my phone already. I got dressed, packed boxes into my car for Amanda (she's moving on Saturday, good luck!) and drove to Penn's campus to have lunch with Amanda and Kelly. We went to White Dog, where Kelly had a ham and cheese sandwich for a mere $10. I miss my girls. Saw Amanda's office, then went to Urban Outfitters, despite the fact that I am now officially 300 years too old for that store. Pretended I wasn't and bought a pair of black flower earrings and a pink shirt ($4.99 on sale). Didn't get a pedicure as planned because I wasn't wearing flip-flops (long story). Drove to the new Circle Thrift by me and bought a new-used skirt and blue cashmere sweater for only $8.00. Came home and meant to take a nap, but instead, ended up playing Solitaire and answering email. Padhraig and his friend John picked me up, drove to Spring Garden, ate noodles at a Zagat recommended Chinese restaurant (lo mien for me, some weird chicken dish for P.), then on to the Electric Factory to see Arctic Monkey's--an excellent band starring four enthusiastic 15 year olds. Loved it--reminded me of when I was in high school or college and saw Violent Femmes, though maybe I dreamed that. Watched as kids tried to body surf across the audience. Did not wish I were one of them.

Thank you to all of my friends who made this a good birthday, including Celia and Irina who took me to lunch yesterday, gave me a bouquet of flowers and yummy bad magazines, and two very cute cards. And Kelly and Amanda who took me to lunch. Also, yeah for my work peeps who gave me a gift card to Qdoba's and chocolates. And thanks also to Padhraig who risked his life to buy me a scalped ticket to Arctic Monkeys.

Oh, okay, I just remembered why I called this post "Hooray!" It's because that's what Padhraig said when the band went on, Hooray! Hooray! He's so Irish.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Going Hawaii with the Bachelor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is Randy a Republican? I think he may be. He wants to show the girls Pearl Harbor, because it's the most important place in his entire monotone life. He is now showing Bevin where people blew up and died. Bevin is pretending to care while worrying that her little white daisy will blow out of her hair. He's wearing his white uniform and looks completely dorky. He can't stop giving facts: Those are black tears in the water, 501 men and women died in Pearl Harbor, 14 of those soldiers were ambidextrous.

Aloha Count (three minutes into the show): 3

Dani is quite impressed because her grandmother was a nurse who was blown up (or impregnanted or both--it's not clear) on the shores of Pearl Harbor. He's forcing Dani to disassemble her flower and throw it into the inky water. "The shape of the monument is a symbol of our country and of my penis if you accept the 'stay overnight' card later.")

Here comes Winnie/Tessa. She's still ambivalent about the Navy lifestyle. For the third time, he is showing the USS Missouri and the sunken remains of the Titanic. "Toss the flowers into the water, Winnie. Make this little red-headed child throw hers in as well." To the child: "See this woman? She's my girlfriend, one of my 3 girlfriends, actually." The parents just snatched up their daughter and ran away.

Use of the Word "wife" by Randy (five minutes into the show): 17.5

Randy's first date is with Winnie. They are wearing yellow hard hats and walking across a bridge. Randy takes the moment to explain how helping each other across the bridge is a metaphor for relationships. Now they're drinking wine and watching the sunset and Tessa is telling Randy how to fight off sharks by punching them in the face which I think is her hidden metaphor for their relationship.

In other news, just got the Texas A&M University Press guide which has Wonderful Girl (my book) advertised on page 49. The cover of the book makes me laugh nervously every time I see it, because the girl on the cover is so dorky looking. I just know readers are going to think it's a picture of me. The girl looks startling similar to a friend from my childhood, Dee Enzmann. It's a pretty garish cover--yellow and purple and crazy. Buy it anyway.

Now we are back to The Bachelor, where I am sure Tessa is going to f it up by not accepting the sex card at the end of the date. He's dressed like Danny Terrio--a white suit with a black shirt (no "chuff" though, Liz). He needs to find a new adjective other than "incredible." Are his teeth real or were they stolen from a cartoon character? "I feel like a King with my Queen..." Oh, hold on, she just accepted the sex card. Okay, so maybe she'll make it to the final round, but it looks like first they will have to blow out the 5,000 candles lit around the suite. She's so cute.
She's wearing a bikini in the tub while he is fully naked. (Note: gratuitious shots of Randy jogging without his shirt on to show his manly body, good enough for any wife).

Next up, Danielle and the ghost of her dead boyfriend. They are kissing while both wearing their sunglasses. Ick. Somehow, ABC was able to get dolphins to swim by the boat. Oh, whoops, they just ran over a few. Cut to: killer whales diving in and out of the water or at least edited in at a later date. Now they are snorkeling and making out underwater in swim masks. Bubbles everywhere. "It's wunnerful." Danielle is telling Randy about how a psychic predicted that she will be with someone on a TV show. I think he should break up with her just based on the fact that she went to a psychic. He may like her better than Tessa or else ABC is messing with us. "Romance is brewing and it's starting to bubble up and it feels really good." Not sure if he's talking about the date or about his dinner.

I bet that Bevin is going to cry on her date.

More naked jogging shots.

Oh, he is a total dork--he has brought a psychic who is either slightly illiterate or else has a foreign accent. Hard to tell. Psychic: "This card means that there is something in the future and also loses in the past. It also means that there are cameras all around that may be recording this right now. "Andy asks, "Will I get engaged in a week?" Psychic: "Let the worrying go. When you are making choices, you have two choices: how would love decide or how would fear decide, and you must let love decide how you want things to happen." I mean, I wouldn't hate it if he ended up with Danielle, but I like Winnie so much better. Why do they pretend that the fantasy date night is a surprise? They do it every time. Instead of making out, they are discussing how many children they want to have. About three.

He is totally messing with every single one of these women. He acts exactly the same toward each one. Bevin has a stupid tatto of Hell's Angles on the small of her back. He needs to stop yelling, "Whoo-ahoo-hoo-ahoo-hoo!" He's done it on each date. Again with the making out under water among the floating algae. He doesn't have to even ask Bevin if she will take the fantasy date card since I think she's giving him a bj under the waterfall.

I admit that I missed some of this date b/c I went upstairs to put on my glasses, wash my face, and pick my face. Sorry, Bevin.

The Samoan fire dancers have arrived to throw flames at them. Bevin is pretending to find it oustanding. Now they are dancing awkwardly together, though he just told her that he thought that dancing with her was "totally hot." He won't pick Bevin b/c she's the girl he wants to sleep with, but he's not sure he wants to be with her forever, in part, because she keeps putting flowers behind her ear, but more importantly, because she's been divorced. He's a traditionalist. I guess he'll end up with Danielle.

He kisses too loudly. He's pulling out the fantasy date card. She's ripping it open while saying yes. Oh, wow, she's telling him that she will go with him to the suite but that they have to talk for fifteen minutes before she gives him another bj. God, now they're slow dancing without any music. He just accidentally set her hair on fire.

The third glimpse of him jogging without his shirt on. Enough!

Okay, I missed reporting a lot of the last 15 minutes because of eating cheese and crackers. He picked Bevin and Tessa, which means that he will end up with Tessa. Danielle is being very gracious. She's pulling away in a white limo and will now sob. But really, not as much as she did when her boyfriend died. Randy is crying too. I guess she'll be the next Bachelorette. I guarantee it. She's likable.

There is now way that Bevin will win. She's boring.

Oh, group hug! "What's up!" They're going back to Lancaster, PA to meet his family. Bevin says, "Awesome!"

Two hour season finale next week. Both women say that they love him. Bummer!

"I can't wait to be engaged to the women I mean woman who is the best wife for my Navy babies."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Discovery Health Channel is my new horrifying addiction

Okay, for the record, I cannot possibly get any more technology in my life. I went to Black N Brew this morning and realized I was packing the following: my laptop and 2 accompanying cords, my cell phone, and my iPod and it's two cords. Now all I need to do is strap on a camcorder, an electronic step measurer, and battery powered roller skates and I will be the world's best lightning target. Add to which I now have digital Internet and it becomes apparent that I need to stop buying things.

Spent most of the day with Liz and we laughed a lot--at one point, I laughed so much that I had to cross my legs and shout, Stop! at her. One of the things we were laughing about was her word "chuff" which stands for "chest muff" which is visibly puffing chest hair (most often, but not always, on men). We are quite mature. She took me to see her new apartment but the key wouldn't work so instead, we went to Chop Shop for a new haircut for her and bad magazine reading for me, then over to Tattoo Mom's for the best chicken sandwich in the city. Tonight, I am laying low instead of going out as planned. It's okay--one weekend night of debauchery is enough for me.

Anyway, I've taken a break from watching this show on Discovery Health about morbidly fat people. I mean, super fat. They can't walk or even get out of bed by themselves. It's unbelievably fascinating and scary. The show before that was about a teenager who had gastric by pass surgery and lost 300 plus pounds. They had to do any additional surgery after his dramatic weight loss in order to take off the excess skin which he then donated to the musculoskeletal foundation for burn victims. So, if this kid can have that kind of surgery, why can't these other people who have to get around on wheels? Is it a money thing? It must be.

So, aside from watching You Tube, what does one do with the Internet? I feel like I should take advantage of this techology by taking tutorials of some kind--improving my mind.

Oh, dear God, Richard Simmons just showed up in his short shorts on this show. He looks exactly the same as he did twenty years ago. "Does anybody want to sweat to the Oldies???" He's screaming in their faces. I can't watch.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Still Internet-Less

At home anyway. I can go pick up a modem at Best Buy, but they are only open until 6 p.m. and I'll never get there in time. Sad for me.

Did you ever have one of those days where your hair is so dirty, it's almost enjoyable? Mine is currently ridiculously dirty. Like, I could easily run my fingers through it and some of it would stick up in place. Very glam. I can't wait to shower.

I don't have a topic today--just killing time until Celia gets over here and we can walk to the subway. Liz is moving to my neighborhood soon. That will be awesome. She has a roof deck AND a gay neighbor AND a washer and dryer in the kitchen. I gave up on my idea to buy a w/d because who knows how long I'll stay in this house and where I'll move next. I don't want to spend close to $1,000 on something that I might not need in another year. My next big selfish electronic purchase will be a digital camera.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Write Away

Writing class tonight and the writing prompt was to write a list of instructions—a how to list. Everyone did well. One woman wrote a list of what you need to teach in an Inner City Public School (money to decorate and to buy plastic cups, the ability to deal with a broken car window, an extraordinarily good immune system to fight off colds). Another woman wrote a list that I would call How to Live Your Life. It included picking up pennies off the sidewalk, watering your plants, writing until you get a blister on your finger, inching toward who you want to be. Another person wrote something like What You Need to Have a Nervous Breakdown and then described what it’s like to have a dad dying of cancer. Someone else wrote “How to Be Silly” and included a description of what you would need to do in order to duplicate the Charlie Chaplin shuffle. All good; all interesting. These women are awesome and you know I must be telling the truth because I am normally a total cynic. But how can you be cynical when you are surrounded by very centered and positive women in good clothes who feed you homemade brownies? Also, my teacher gave me four pages of single-spaced notes on my story last week. When I thanked her today, she said, Well, it’s an award winner.
I came up with How to Plant a Garden, but quickly realized that I don’t know anything about gardening. How to Create a Sim Family. Interesting, but only to me. Here’s what I wrote instead:
How to Become a Writer
First, you must experience an early trauma. It can be as dramatic as a kidnapping, a house fire, or abuse from a trusted adult or something as simple as being an only child to any absent-minded mother. The degree of trauma doesn’t matter; it just helps that you experience it and tuck it away in the sleeve of your heart to unpack later. This trauma must happen before the age of four, so that it can imprint on your still forming self.

Next, you must feel a sense of loneliness and isolation from others. This sensibility can be manufacture if necessary. You can force yourself to hide in the closet under your mother’s winter coats for hours on end. You can give away all of your toys to the rowdy neighbor boys and then stare out the living room window, feeling sorry for yourself.
The critical thing is to somehow disconnect from others, but also from yourself, so that you can start thinking about your life in third person as in:

The girl played alone in the den while her mother baked a cake and didn’t offer her any of the batter.


Now you must start reading books that are too old for you, preferably books about misunderstood, sensitive girls. Not Nancy Drew, in other words. Nancy Drew could set any potential writer toward the exact opposite direction away from dreaminess and into practicality and sensible, rubber soled shoes.

Daydream in school. Make up entire conversations between you and people you’ve never met—movie stars or jockeys. Invent a plausible situation or an implausible situation, but be sure that you come out on top in the end.

In junior high, stumble upon the poetry of Sylvia Plath and believe for a time that you are the only person your age to discover this dark, tortured genius. Do not think of yourself as a cliché (that will come later in writing classes where the word “cliché” is spit out with great venom during workshops). No, you are thirteen and the world is horrible and you will never fall in love or kiss a boy and no one understands you and for God’s sake, all you asked your mother was for one pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, is that too much?

Write about it all in your brand new Hello Kitty diary, a gift from your grandmother. Make sure to lock it tight and slip it between the box spring and mattress like a little secret all your own.

Then our teacher rang the bell, ding! And we had to stop. I suppose I could’ve gone on, but it was sort of cheating, because Lorrie Moore has already written a similar story, possibly even with the same title.

I am lucky to have found this class, these women. At the very least, it makes me write for twenty minutes once a week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

He Loves Me/He Hates My Guts

Okay, missed last week’s Bachelor and so will try to make up for it tonight. I’m not sure who got kicked off, but I believe there are only four tingling Bachelorettes left, including the crippled Bevin.

I don’t understand the attraction of the show, Dancing with the Has Beens. The saddest thing about this show is that Muhammad Ali’s daughter is on it and her dad, the former heavyweight champion who used to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee now sits in the audience looking like he’s made of stone, or perhaps dead and propped up with cotton stuffing.

Billy Ray Cyrus took the opportunity to be on a live program to tell them bitches, the judges, that he is a Southern gentleman, goddamnit and them high-faluting judges need to learn them some Southern manners for Christ’s sake and Jesus on a cracker, and then he burst into his own rendition of Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” This last couple, Apolo (yes, with one “l”) and Julianne are doing something strange weird tango to “Oh, My Darlin’, Clementine.” I don’t know who the real dancer is and who the fake dancer is—neither one is recognizable. But who cares, the fake audience loved them all so much and you, the viewing audience, sitting on your sofas and eating potato chips, can call in and vote.

Here’s what I hate about Bevin (aside from her name), how every time she sees Randy, she leaps up onto him and throws her legs around his waist in a death grip. How many tears will be shed tonight? And why is he driving that utter penis mobile sports car that makes him look like a complete idiot? I hate him. Also, someone please find him a suit that fits his body and is not three sizes too big for him.

Another great thing about this show: they just played the same four scenes (the home dates) twice back to back. Cheesy voice over: And what happens on Winnie’s date? Well, we’ll show you! Thirty seconds later: If you’ve already forgot what’s going to happen on Winnie’s date, here it is again. Aren’t you excited to see it three more times??? (Please act surprised).

I like Danielle, but she’s the least attractive. She has a huge head—it’s bigger than her entire torso and she keeps bringing up her dead boyfriend at every turn.

Would you like some champagne, Danielle?

You know, that’s the last thing my boyfriend said to me before he died.

Oh, I’m sorry.

That’s the second last thing he said to me. He actually said. I’m sorry, would you like some champagne?

Bevin’s home date is first. Oh, there she goes with the legs wrapped tightly around his waist. I wish she would knock him over that log and give him a concussion. He just said, “I’m in heaven when I’m with Bevin.” Sick. If she’s from Seattle, why does she have an accent like she’s from Farley, North Dakota? Yes, yes, fine, she was married before. Who cares? She’s trying to tell him about it and he just keeps chewing his cheese. “And…I’m really a man!” He has this fake smile plastered on his face—he can’t decide if he should smile or frown or swallow his mouthful of cheese. Star crying, come on, cry!! He doesn’t like you any more. You’re used goods, lady. The 23 year old is looking better and better. Cry, damnit!

Bevin’s family lives in a mansion. Her dad is crying because he hasn’t seen his baby girl in two weeks. That is where she learned the death grip—her father taught her. Thank God they have wine. He’s chewing again. I wish someone would give him elocution lessons, or maybe acting lessons, so that he doesn’t continually talk in a monotone. Oh, okay, now Bevin is crying in embarrassment because her mom gave Randy this boring painting. She has retired to this massive parlor with her father. She and her dad are about to make out. Too much wine. Now dad’s crying. Now Henri’s crying. Now I’m crying. She’s tired of getting her heart broken. The whole family is a basket case. Randy announces to the family, “You have a wunnerful daughter. She’s wunnerful. I can’t believe someone this wunnerful could be so divorced.” Omigod, Randy’s hitting on her younger sister, Oona. Oh, no, wait that’s Bevin. I don’t think he knows the difference at this point.

Hey, here’s an idea. How about if he stops wearing that Old Navy zipper up fleece on every date?

And now it’s time for his date with Danielle, the horsey girl. She lives in Alaska or somewhere with tons of snow. He runs at her with the same level of enthusiasm as he did toward Bevin. In fact, I think his step is a little lighter. He just clicked his heels together. Oh, I love the family; they have two dogs. Dad is scary. He has a dome bald head like a monk. Randy just said, “Oh, hey, you’re her little sister.” He’s now hitting on Danielle’s sister, Kaitland. Randy looks at the cue cards—it’s hard for him to see them because of the shine gleaming off dad’s head. “You have a Charmin…uh, whoops, I mean, charming daughter. Sorry, can we take that cue again?” He’s droning on and on about something. The family is nodding and saying, “Mmhmm. Mmhmm. Yeah. Mmmhmmm. Sure. What?” They’re belly dancing. How fun! He just did a pelvic thrust at Danielle’s face, right in front of the dad. The dad doesn’t care because he just wants his daughter to be Mrs. Lieutenant Captain Doctor Randy Danielle Gentleman.

I love Winnie the most. She looks like she doesn’t wear any make-up at all and she’s so so cute and sweet. He LOVES her!!! He ran at her even faster than the other two. Look at her adorable hat she’s wearing with a white pom-pom on top. She made him a huge snowball and now they’re wrestling in the snow. I am dying! She is so happy. There is no way that they won’t end up together. I will stake my Henri on it. Now granted, Henri doesn’t have long to live, so it’s not a huge risk, but still. God, he’s now hitting on the third sister, Mercy! Mercy is right. They have a dog too—a little black dog with a waggly tail. Oh, and a brown dog too. He’s making more jokes with them than anyone else. Hi, hello, Samantha, the best friend, why don’t you just go home? We don’t want you here. Quit asking him the hard questions until he’s had fifteen more beers.

How cute, dad and Randy are doing the dishes. He keeps saying, “That raised some red flags” just because dad said that Winnie went on the show because she thought it would be fun. Hi, there were plenty of red flags the whole time with all of the girls. Just because she’s not jamming her tongue down your throat doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you. Haven’t you ever heard of playing hard to get?

Now Randy’s hitting on the brown dog.

They are sitting alone in yet another parlor. He says, “You, are like, across the board, like so incredible. I feel, like, so much, like, I don’t know, potential with you. You should go for it.” (Please don’t high-five her and please put your dog tags back in your blue oxford Old Navy button up, Randy. Why did the cameraperson just zoom in on Tessa’s bra strap?). “I think you’re a wunnerful girl, Tessa or Danielle or Rufus, or whatever your name is.” He just forced her to say, “I want to fall in love with you.” Then he said, “Good, cause I’m dumping you in the next half hour.”

No, he’s definitely going to get rid of Ramona from Sugarland, Texas, probably in part because she’s wearing a baby doll dress with the hemline right below her ass. “That’s awesome! That’s awesome!” Hahahah. They’re fake-joking around. Here come the students, hugging their teacher because they’re on TV. Hey, I didn’t know he was from Pennsylvania. What grade are these kids in? Aw, he’s cute when he talks to the kids, though still in a robotic way. A very warm robot. I don’t know why he’s not meeting her family—I guess they’re not supportive of her being on the show. Neither are her aunt and uncle. Neither are the neighbors or the school crossing guard. None of them support her. He is sticking his fingers in her eyeballs to stop her from crying. It is kind of sad.

I was not able to do a blow-by-blow of the Ramona date because I had to eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Suffice it to say that she lives with Nicole Richie and that her little puffball dog, Fluffernutter, peed on the carpet during dinner. He will send her home, back to her sorority house apartment and she will have to go into therapy to work out why her family destroyed all of her chances for marrying him, even though he wouldn’t want to date her regardless of what happened with the family because of her college girl lifestyle.

In the most difficult rose ceremony yet…………

I hate Bevin.

“You are four of the most incredible women that I have ever met and now to have gone to your hometowns and met your parents, your siblings, your dogs, I feel that even more so. You all are amazing. I am responsible for my heart and responsible for all of your hearts as well. In the end, we are all searching for the same thing, true love.”

Picked:

TESSA

BEVIN (she’s wearing black nail polish and has a stupid tattoo of herself on her shoulder. Idiot).

The final rose tonight, goes to…

DANIELLE (dressed like a Grecian princess)

Not picked:

RAMONA (she is going to punch him the face) Oh, whoops, I just realized that her name is Amber. She is so going to kick his ass. “Why didn’t you choose me, why? I just want to know why. WHY?” She is crying so much that her entire face is wet. She’s got snot on her upper lip. Her whole face is glistening with snot and tears. He just stuck his thumb in her eye again. She’s destroyed. She can’t stop pulling her strapless baby doll dress up. She is sobbing. He is upset, but I think even more excited to have that weight lifted off his shoulders. She said, “I just don’t understand. I just have no frickin’ clue. All guys break my heart so I should just be fucking used to it.” Yes, she’s mature.

Next week: They are all going to Hawaii and they will be seeing whales and Randy in his really bad uniform. “It’s about being a US Naval officer. This is a serious mission I’m on. To find my wife.”

Tune in again in seven short days and do a shot of whiskey every time you hear the word “Aloha!”

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Cat Who Loves Me


Don't Bother Me, I'm Singing

I keep thinking about that Ray Bradbury short story, "The Veldt." Have you read it? It's a futuristic piece about family life in the year 20++ where technology basically takes care of everything. The two children in the story have this amazingly life-like video projection of life an African field projected on their playroom walls--so real that you can see the lions breath and hear the sounds of the birds in the sky, feel the heat from the sun, etc. I keep thinking about it because it feels like we're not far away from that--these alternate realities in video games and the computer world and then there's this iPod thing that I now own which allows me to listen to any song I want in the entire world. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the coffee shop downloading music. I added pretty much every song I could think of and I still have half the space left. I walked around on both days listening to the songs on shuffle and I can tell you that the ads for iPod are right on--the ones where person is rocking out and not paying attention to the world around him/her--it's amazing how music can make you more introspective and less self-conscious. Since I can't really hear myself, it doesn't bother me to sing along in public. Plus, I feel it's somewhat beneficial to appear a little crazy on the streets so as to detract from potential iPod muggers.

I'll try to write more later. I worked out this whole essay in my head about how there are certain songs that trigger very particular memories for me every time I listen to them.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Too Many Options

My friends and I went to a health fair at work, mainly to get free candy and toothbrushes. In the process, we also received a three-day pass to the Philadelphia Sporting Club. On Wed., Celia, Molly and I decided to try it out. We were given a brief tour of the 198,098 square foot facility. It houses a pool, sauna, steam room, massage parlor, gift shop, food lobby, Pilate's room, yoga room, boxing ring, squash and racquetball courts, an indoor track, and acres and acres of locker/shower rooms. In the locker rooms, you can freely use the following: white towels, shampoo, spray on deodorant, hair dryer, body wash, lotion, tampons, shower caps, and pink razors. We felt very luxurious. The only drawback was that the locker rooms and cabinets are these square areas that aren't very large and there were many women there who were in various stages of undress (or completely undressed) and just milling around and chatting. I am not a completely self-conscious person, but I do find it difficult to change into work out clothes in the midst of a dozen other strange women.

It was then that I realized problem number two: I had forgotten my sneakers. The only footwear I had were these pair of black laceless, rubber soled slip ons. However, Celia assured me that no one would notice. She lies. We decided to take a class called I Will Kick Your Butt Plus Pantomime. It became clear almost immediately that the most difficult part of the class would be seeing how I could keep my shoes from slipping off my heels during lunges. We did a series of odd moves, including lots of punching and pushing away of invisible balls (?). Celia stayed for about 20 minutes and then laughed her way out of the room. I endured, despite the fact that I was in danger of hitting myself in the face with my own fist when the instructor increased the tempo by 105%.

The following day, we bravely returned to take a different class called Pilate's and Sitting on a Small Rubber Ball. This class involved a very gentle version of pilates--I was so unbelievably happy to discover that we weren't going to be asked to do roll backs. The last 15 minutes, we were each given a red or yellow rubber ball, a little smaller than a soccer ball and told to sit on it. From there, we used the ball to massage our gluteal and leg muscles. In the midst of it, I glanced at Celia and my head almost exploded from having to suppress a fit of junior high laughter. It occurred to me that I live in a society that has way too much money and way too many options and that none of them really should consist of exercise on a small ball.

If I had a little more money to spare, I guess I might join--with my job discount, it's $84 a month, which is expensive but not prohibitive. The people were very nice and, aside from the stark nudity, the amenities were pleasant too. But I don't know if I could justify that kind of pampering to myself, especially when the gym at work is five minutes away.

To the left, you will see the move the Celia hates the most.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

More Than You Want to Know

I have been crazy busy at work these days and still don't have Internet at home so I am remiss in writing. Not that anything exciting has been happening, so it's not like you're missing anything.

We went over my story in writing class on Tuesday and everyone was very positive. They did say, though, that the boyfriend character was somewhat one-dimensional and that it was hard to understand why the narrator was with him. Hmm...I'll have to think about that one. The story needs better description in several scenes and a more solid conclusion and a better description of brain death. People were confused about how brain death works. I also found another story this weekend that I started a long time ago. I don't even remember writing it, but the central character is a man named Cal who is returning home after being gone for a long time. I liked it--I want to work on it, if only because I need to have at least one story that features a male protagonist.

The writing exercise for the beginning of class was to write an erotic scene. I won't retype mine here---not because it's embarrassing or explicit, just that it might be too revealing in other ways (for certain peeps who read this blog). We all read our pieces in class. It was interesting to hear the other members of class tackle this exercise. Most were memories, but not all. One woman wrote about her high school crush, another about a love affair with a professor, another about one or two vivid moments with an ex husband. Try writing erotica some time. It's not easy.