Thursday, February 27, 2014

TBT: Chi-town, mid-90s

I've been working on a story recently that centers around a waitress in Chicago and so have been thinking nostalgically of those days, though I have not gone so far as to revisit my journals from that time, because I'm certain they would be full of depressing anecdotes; probably me obsessing over some guy whose name I no longer remember. What I do recall about Chicago is that the winters were dastardly cold, Lake Michigan was beautiful, they had great thrift stores, I was incredibly lonely most of the time, and I had a lot of really funny and talented friends. Here's Hancock Tower (thanks, Emily!). I don't think I ever went up in it and there were also entire neighborhoods in Chicago that I never visited.


My first apartment was a garden apartment in the Belmont area--pretty close to Wrigley Field and Gingerman Tavern. The apartment itself was okay, though it had a mushroom-y smell and clanking radiators. Below is my cat on the left (Gretel) and my roommate's cat on the left. I've forgotten his name, but they didn't get along.


I lived with a very soft-spoken girl named Tara, who was a social worker I met through the "looking for roommates" section of The Reader. Tara didn't shave her legs or wear make-up , was the first real live person I'd ever met who wore Birkenstocks and socks, and was super passive aggressive (even more so than me). She smoked one cigarette a day and didn't wear make-up. I remember that I would tell her stories about my dating life and she would just laugh and laugh, even though I wasn't trying to be funny and it hurt my feelings. We painted the entire living room dark purple and lime green, and when it came time to move out (she was going to Guatemala for a year), she said that she was just too tired to repaint it.  For the record, I also was a bad roommate, as I brought a parade of bartenders and waiters through the house that first year.


Below is my second roommate, who I also found through The Reader. Her name was Nadine, and she lived on a really cute street with metal giraffes on one end. I can't think of the name of the street just now. I only lived there for nine months before the lease was up and she told me she had decided to live alone. I didn't really like her that much either because she had an annoying boyfriend who came over a lot and smoked pot and the two of them would laugh and watch TV all night long in the living room while he farted every ten minutes and she giggled. But she did have an interesting family--a schizophrenic dad who called her up one time and said, "Oh, I just saw your head in the refrigerator today and thought I'd give you a call."


This was my room in the second apartment. I was sold on the fact that I would have my own bathroom and that the place had brick walls and a little balcony. And also that it wasn't five feet below sea level like my first place. Below is representation of my art aesthetic at the time, which includes my college roommates old robe refashioned into a curtain, "The Kiss" poster by Gustav Klimt, owned by 90% of female college graduates, and a painting that I repainted with the same house paint we used on the walls in the previous apartment. I still have that one in a frame. It and its companion has followed me everywhere.



Then, lastly, below is my only serious boyfriend in Chicago. He was ten years older than me, from Boston, and a bartender at a theme restaurant. He ran ten miles every day and drank Absolut vodka every night. We broke up because of his drinking. He was also super Italian and smart and a writer. The picture below is him after finishing a marathon---it might have been the Chicago marathon (you have to at least finish in a certain time a marathon before you qualify to run the Boston marathon).  I don't know what happened to him. I think he struggled with depression and, if I remember correctly, his dad committed suicide when he was a kid.

Oh, no. I just Googled him and discovered that he died five years ago. I don't know what happened:

DiMINO, Mark David 49, died June 8, 2009. An avid reader, writer and runner, he graduated from Boston College High School in 1978 and was part of the State Championship Football team. He completed the Boston Marathon in under 2½ hours. He recently worked as a Faculty Assistant at Harvard University. He is preceded in death by his mother Teresa DiMino and his grandparents Anna and Ralph LaCambria. Survived by his siblings, Maria DiMino (Jim) and Michael DiMino (Joni), his Aunt Camille and John Oliver, his godmother Evelyn LaCascia and his yellow lab Harry. Uncle to Teresa, Elena, Michael and John. Beloved friend of Mary and Tim Green. Visitation in The Robert J. Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home, 1803 Centre St., WEST ROXBURY, on Saturday, June 20th from 9-10:30am, followed by a graveside service and interment at St. Mary's Episcopal Church Cemetery, 258 Concord Street, Newton Lower Falls at 11am. 

 I can't find out anything else about what happened to him and it's probably best if I don't. I hate that I found this.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Starting Over and Over and Over

It dawned on me the other day that I live in New Jersey. You think this would be obvious, but for the last few months, I've been  thinking of it like an extended stay--like how, in high school, I went to Einbeck, Germany for two months. In fact, it's a lot like moving to Germany--everyone talks with an accent, seems somewhat indifferent to hardships (like driving) and takes it for granted that there will be breweries/strip malls to your left at all times. But I've done this before--started over from scratch in another city--a bunch of other times as a kid, and three other times as an adult.

When I was twenty-three-ish, I moved to Chicago, where I knew exactly one person who was moving away at the end of the summer. I transferred from a TGIFridays in Dunedin to a  TGIFridays on Erie Street, and instead of leaving when I was supposed to at the end of August, I found a roommate in The Reader and stayed for five years.

After that, I applied to grad school and moved to a completely different place, State College, PA, a little insular college town in the valley of rural Pennsylvania. I again knew no one, but made friends pretty fast with the other people who were in the same boat--a bunch of nerdy English majors stuck in a town where football was king. I stayed there for six years.

Then, I moved to Philadelphia, a city that I'd visited a few times, but where I again didn't know anyone except for Liz and Tara, and I'd only met them once or twice before that. The city move was harder because it wasn't like grad school where everyone was struggling to make friends and also, it had more rats and homeless people, though was definitely more manageable in size than Chicago. I stayed there for eight years.

Now, I'm in another completely different state--and I know Dan and Luke, but not that many other people, except for my friends from work; and those are people I still don't spend much time with outside of the nine to five hours. And it's more like Florida than any other place I've lived---meaning that it's fairly suburban and people are used to driving everywhere and you don't really walk places. In Chicago and State College, and Philly, I walked everywhere; I walked way more than I drove and when you walk, you run into people and you get to eavesdrop on strangers conversation and take pictures of the things you see along the way.

Here, I'm in a bubble--a car bubble, and sometimes, I look over at the person in the next car, trying to pass the time figuring out what that person is all about and failing, because on Route 1, you're only ever stopped in one place for three seconds. How can I make this place more like the other places I've lived? Or is that the wrong question? Where can I find the new things that I'll enjoy doing? Can you ever enjoy being in a car to get from one place to another? Yes, you can, a little. One thing I do now is look for this horse at a farm I pass if I go down Clarksville Road to work, and then today, I saw the same little bull terrier dog pulling his owner along, and I was like, I know that dog! That's the same dog from yesterday! 
Is that enough to go on?

Maybe it will change in the warmer weather--I'll have more than a five second conversation with Mimi, the lady with the little dog and I'll offer to walk the dog on the weekends. I'll realize that I can walk on the path all the way to the coffee shop in the fake, dying town center. Or maybe we can move to Lambertville.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Diabolical Fantasy Suite/Don't Sleep with Soccer Players

I learned this lesson about soccer players in high school when I had a crush on a guy named Charlie D. who was a year older than me and had a gravelly voice and green eyes and worked as a janitor in McDonalds. That's a great job for a high school  kid living in Florida. I'm not saying I slept with him, because I am pure as a Sunday snow storm, but I did learn that you can't trust a guy who kisses you in the women's rest room and presses you up against the hand dryer while wearing coveralls and carrying a mop. More on that another time.

Tonight is the non-shocking reveal of Andi leaving the show because JP sleeps with her in the fantasy suite and then tells her she' so-so as a contestant . We know about it all because of the endless previews and because of this cover of US Weekly.

Dan asks, "Is this the fellatio suite episode?" He's been working on that line for a while.

We start with Clare and what else? A yacht, of course! She's not sure if she will say yes to the fantasy suite card, but we know that she will. She wears a long white wedding dress to dinner. Clare has that baby talk thing going on where she is all coy and acts like a little girl, pursing her lips and wearing a giant necklace with her dad's name on it, "Joseph" in large gold letters. JP just wants to sleep with all of these women. Clare asks if it's weird that she would want to meet Camilla. He's again barely listening. Clare reads the card from Chris Harrison, who has very nice handwriting. Dan says, "The card even comes with a Trojan." And a do-it-yourself  STD test, I hope.  Clare keeps bringing up his daughter, which is a total buzz kill. JP is picking his toenails, and you can't blame him, because his toes are huge and he is wearing flip-flops. He says, "I am 100 percent, how you say, happy?" You say "happy" in just that way, JP. Bellissimo!

They go back to the how you say, fellatio suite and toast to all that. He tells all the women that they are so cute. CUTE. White terrier dogs are cute. "How are you thinking so much?" he says, pinching her nose, pulling her lips, rubbing her cheek, grabbing her earring. She says that she's enjoying falling in love with him, and he says, "It's okay," and rubs his mysterious orange bracelet on her forehead. STOP TOUCHING HER FACE! Suddenly, the bitchy sister pops out and pulls them apart! I wish. She says, "Ever since you put the bandana on me and said that I should trust you, I did." Except she clearly doesn't, or she wouldn't be making such a big deal about it. Cue the hot tub and the mandolins. She wants to have babies with him and she's starting right now among the bubbles.

By the way, this is what comes up when you Google "fantasy suite." I can't tell if it's a rose-filled hot tub or pictures by the first photographer on the scene of a brutal disembowelment.


Next up, Andi. He wears a wife beater and takes her to a village in Saint Lucia and we are forced to listen to annoying tin drums. Andi is an extrovert and jumps right in and starts pounding the drums. He says that Andi always goes with the flow. We'll see about that. They try to give food to a little lost black boy and feed him pieces of corn and chicken with their hands. Is this charming or freaking condescending? JP forces the villagers to play soccer, the better to show off his bare chest. Next, he steals a Jeep and they go for a drive in the mountains with the cops in hot pursuit. He takes her to a designated spot that will no doubt have a waterfall. I am right, for the 5,000 time. The only thing they haven't done yet is to go up in a helicopter. Or have they? They all blur together after a while.  JP amazes me by actually remembering that her dad gave him a hard time. They make out in under the water, again. I mean, he did it once before, but not with her, I don't think.

When you Google "waterfall romances" you get a series of pictures of this couple and their pug, which I think is a way more realistic representation of romance than any of this nonsense.


They sit on a tiny sofa that might be outdoors or it might be indoors. Why are the crickets so damn loud? I guess that means they're outdoors or else they need an exterminator. He says that there is nothing wrong with thinking, sometimes. He wants to know if she is forcing it or not. She recovers well, making up some nonsense about being concerned about his daughter. The word "concern" gets bandied around about ten more times. He says he doesn't know if she will be a good mother, but he does think she might be a good babysitter whenever he needs to go out. He actually really said that. Kind of. They read the card and pretend to be concerned about whether they will do it or not. They go back to the fantasy suite and he tells the camera that she would be great wife material.

JP puts on the same wife beater shirt. He says that she has cute round chipmunk cheeks. He demonstrates by pinching his own cheeks. Andi comes down to see him in a long dress. She says that she could not wait to get out of the fantasy suite--that the fantasy suite was really a nightmare. He does not seem to have a clue. She says that he told stories about himself and wasn't listening to her at all. He didn't ask her any questions and she's blown away by the name dropping and that he talked about his over night with Clare. She says, "It's really important for me to be with someone who cares more about me than he does about himself." Stay strong, Andi. Don't cry. She's crying. Oh, well. She is very sure that he is not the one.

He is grooming  a horse for some reason. Oh, we're skipping over to Nikki's date with him. She's dressed like a stripper from the 1960s. In a fringed biking top and paisley bell bottoms. Ay-yi-yi, he says, hoping that her halter comes down while they're riding horses. Nikki is the one from him. But I don't want to say that she's vapid--because she is a nurse, you know? She can't help it that she's model gorgeous. But she also doesn't have to wear those clothes or have that giant ink tattoo of a mermaid on her side.  He says that she should ride the horse wearing a thong. Please reference the above picture of the pig again. Why does he keep saying that it's weird that these women seem to be thinking a lot? Because it's such a foreign idea to him. He's also never heard the phrase, "Wheels are turning?" Come on!


More crickets. I find watching him kiss all these girls excruciating, especially with the deafening sound of crickets in the background. Nikki says, "I love you, and I think you probably already know that." He says, "I really like you." I can't really hear what they're saying because of the insects. He makes a hand motion to show that his wheels are not turning and he has absolutely nothing to say in return.  He can't wait to learn more about Nikki. How you say, Naked. Be careful, little Nikki.

He already has tears in his eyes going into the final rose ceremony, though he has no clue about what's about to happen. I am pretty sure that he would plan on eliminating Andi if she wasn't already going to excuse herself. Chris wants to know what JP means when he says I like you. JP says that when he says I like you, he really means, I want to have sex with you right away. I don't think the producers will ever make the mistake of having a bachelor who feigns the inability to speak or understand English. Dan's main complaint about JP is that he never really says anything at all. In any language. He watches the videos of the women recapping their dates and making a plea for him to pick her. "Remember me?" says Nikki. "My favorite adjective is 'awesome.'"  Clare wears a giant turquois necklace, again with her dad's name on it. She confesses that she has fallen in love with him. This makes him tear up. He smiles as he watches Andi's video and I can't wait for the smile to falter. She says that she wants to share her thoughts in person. I love Andi even if I don't love her tiny eyelet shorts. Dan says, "She's done with him! He's not the catch that she thought he was!"

Cue dramatic scenes of Saint Lucia, plus a commercial advertising the resort. Andi says that she doesn't think he's there for anything more than having fun. Thank God she's not going back on her thoughts. She says that it's amazing how little he knows about her. He wears a banana colored shirt. He says that he really likes Andi, and he doesn't know what she wants to talk about because he's clueless and pretending to be a nice guy. He touches her face, and I hope it's for the last time. She keeps saying that she has never felt that way about anyone before.

She says that she realizes that she wasn't in love with him and wasn't going to be. He says, "That's okay." He says it's good that she tells him the truth. She gets mad that he keeps saying it's okay. He says he respects her as a woman and appreciates her being honest. He says he's not going to die from it; She says that she wants to die if he says it's okay one more time. He keeps referring her in the third person, as in, "I like Andi." She says that he hurt her feelings by saying that she barely made it in place of Renee. Then she accuses him of using the word default to refer to her and he says he does not know what this word means. Dan and I then get into a bit of fight because Dan says, "I think maybe she's the one with the problem."  Now we're fighting about whether or not we got into a fight. See what this show does to people?

Their argument continues about whether he uses the word default or not. She says that he doesn't know anything about her, who she is or what she likes, what her religious beliefs are. He shoots back, "What is my religion?" and she comes right with, "Catholic."  Which shuts him up. He touches her eyebrow one last time and then walks her out. He says he is a little disappointed. He puts it back on her for not telling him how he should acted. He doesn't like how she argues with him. That's not what women should do. He is the worst. When women talk to him and express their feelings, it kills it for him. Yay for her for leaving. Can they ever express their feelings without crying? Once?

Now we're going to have to see more tears as the other two women realize that Andi left for some inexplicable reason. I mean, they can't sense his lack of interest in them as people either? On some level. Close up of two frogs mating and a horse eating grass. JP was shocked that Andi wanted to go home; fine, go home, he says, IT'S OKAY. Andi says, I think JP is probably going, It's okay, right now. She is right! The two girls are being brought to the patio to find out that Andi left. It's funny that the two women who dislike each other the most are left.  JP must now explain to them why Andi left. Nikki is confused, she says. He tells them that she decided to go home because she didn't have strong feelings for him. He says he cannot force someone to like him or to spend the rest of their lives with him. He hands out to roses with an air of defeat. They will both accept the roses. He is the first bachelor in history to have two women decide to leave.

Next week is the reunion show and 5,000 tears will be shed. The two girls remaining are really there just to be on TV. Last scene---Juan Pablo walking on the beach and pretending to be reflective while drop kicking a sand piper like a soccer ball.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Family Time + Language Barriers = Awkward TV

I wrote the above title and the show has not yet started. It's my guess that Juan will not really know how to best talk to mom and dad, but, depending on the family, mom and dad might not care all that much--they'll just be happy to be on TV.

First home town date: Nikki in Kansas City
Photo courtesy of my friend Kristine
She wants to know how Juan feels about the other girls. Oh, I wish they  would make him to do a lot of the dumb shit they had to do on his dates--like making him ride a unicycle naked in a Shriner's parade wearing a clown hat. "What is this thing called bbq?" he says, feigning (?) idiocy. Oh, goodie, she's going to force him to ride a bull. He jumps right onto the fake bull and they have it on the kid speed. Turn it up, man! Finally, he falls off really just from leaning over too far. Nikkie wants to tell him that' she's in love with him.  She's hesitant, for some reason, perhaps because she's only spent about half an hour with him collectively?

Nikki has two younger brothers, a mom and a dad and a house with a fireplace big enough to roast a Juan Pablo in. Dad may be using a hair dye or wearing a toupee. He seems like a nice man, but I don't trust his hair. Mom wants to talk to Nikki and see if there is both a physical and emotional attachment. Nikki says, Wha?? She's too swayed by the sexual attraction to even know what her mom is talking about. "There's just something about him that I can't put my finger on, but it's awesome and there's something magical about him," she says. I don't think I've ever thought I was in love with someone without being able to articulate why. She has to say that he's magical, because she doesn't know anything about him at all--like, other than the
word awesome, she can't think of one (Juan?) other adjective to use to describe him. They stand outside of Nikki's mansion and he says that she's very cute. Ew, he's slimy. Please, please, don't say it. She doesn't, thank God, but then she stupidly goes, "I just don't understand why I couldn't say it to him? Why couldn't I tell him I loved him? Why?Why?!"

Second home town date: Ali or Andi in Atlanta, GA

We already know that Andli is the one who decides to go home after spending the night with him in the fantasy suite. I read about it in US magazine. Andli takes him to shoot guns. Of course, though I never suspected she was a redneck, but maybe if you're from Georgia, you have to carry? She tells him he can't go home with her until he shoots a bullseye. Is this some kind of sexual innuendo? Like, is there some correlation between being able to shoot a gun and, I don't know, being able to find a woman's cervix? I missed that day in health class.

Dad is skeptical of this Juan Pablo. He, like every other sane person in the world, doesn't really buy this Lothario's act. He says, "I'm looking at two people who are a little infatuated with one another. but he may be infatuated with her, or with any one of these other three girls."  Andli's mom is cute, but Andli herself sounds like she has a perpetually stuffed up nose. Andli's mom asks JP what he finds special about her daughter, and he says..."Uh, well, she's pretty and uh...she has brown hair...I think she has a brain." Mom forces Juan and her daughter to dance salsa together. So awful. JP says that his way of finding a partner is to first see if she'll be a good mom and then if he'll decide if he likes her. Well, that should be easy!

(Aside, I have no desire to see the movie Gravity on Blu-Ray, even though it has been nominated for 100 Academy Awards. Even the previews make me feel like I can't breath; something about the idea of being trapped in space that triggers me).

JP asks dad if he would be accepting of him if he asked Andli to marry him and Dad basically says, "Put yourself in my shoes. Would you accept someone who is also dating three other women?" Andli asks her cuter sister if she thinks they're a good match and her sister said, "I just don't know." They are drinking wine out of giant fishbowl glasses. Dad tells Andli that he has only one concern, that she doesn't get hurt.  Dad obviously thinks she's nutso for even being on the show in the first place. Andli says she's very close to being in love with him. Like this close:


Third hometown date: Renee, Sarasota, FL

They meet in a bunch of sea grass and she's wearing a bikini under her see-through blouse. For some reason, when he first sees her, he says, "Welcome to Sarasota." They sit in a field in the grass, waiting for her son and her ex-husband to show up with a shotgun. What if this show suddenly took a turn and became an episode of 48 Hours, where the murders always involve people from Florida or New Jersey exclusively?

The kid is this dorky eight year old wearing his baseball uniform. I hope that there's actually a game and that it's not just what he wanted to wear. Renee has a thumb ring; that's Florida for you. JP isn't terrible with the kid; I guess because they kind of match on a maturity level. This kid better be good at softball or JP will break up with her. No pressure on the kid--all these TV cameras everywhere. He at least makes it to first base, while mom is hoping for a home run, if you know what I mean.

My guess is that Renee will get sent home. JP sits with mom on the smallest coach ever made. Meanwhile, Renee says good night to her son and says how proud she is of him for... acting normal? Mom  offers a down home witticism by saying, "You can love your pets, but you need to be in love with your partner."  She got that from a fortune cookie at the Chinese Express. Dad says that he can tell that they're in love. They all squish on the sofa and then JP decides it's time to leave. I am so sick of his five o'clock shadow and him pretending to care what they're thinking when he obviously doesn't. I am also sick of him playing with their eyebrows. I feel like he read a manual or got some coaching on how to pretend to be a sweet guy. Renee also isn't able to tell him that she loves him. Hmm...

This is what came up when I Googled "Welcome to Sarasota:" Apropos, no?


Fourth home town date: Clare, Sacramento, CA 

Clare tells a touching story about her dying father while Juan Pablo feels her up on a public park bench. She's describing this most heartfelt story about a rock and JP is having a hard time staying focused because a couple of kids are kicking a soccer ball nearby. How many pairs of sneakers does he own? These are electric blue, the ones before were electric orange. "Go ahead, throw a rock in memory of your dead dad," he says, and immediately after she does, he sticks his tongue down her throat.

In meeting all fifteen of Clare's sister and carrying a bouquet, JP gets confused and gives every one of them a rose, except for Grandma, who gets sent home in a limo.

They are clearly the poorest family of all. Clare is talking to a lady who may be her sister or may be her mother if she had Clare when she was fifteen. Mom and Daddy knew each other for three weeks before they got married. Clare apparently has a tender heart, the sister says. I wouldn't have guessed it. She seemed tough as nails to me before this.

"Every time she talks to me, I put herself underneath my shoes," he says, and everyone pretends like that makes sense.

Her least attractive and largest sister confronts her about how weird the situation is and the fact that she can't stop crying. Is mom Latino? Why won't the sister sit down and/or let Clare and the mom talk together? I didn't understand any of it and it seems like JP has fallen asleep on the futon upstairs.

A little white terrier dog is running around, which is at least something positive. Clare doesn't want her big sister to talk to JP alone and the mom is a mute. This family is still reeling about the loss of their dad. They are being swayed by his pretending that he wants to be more like the dead dad. If I knew I were going to be on a TV show, I might choose to wear something other than a v-neck T-shirt. Juan speaks Spanish to Clare's Venezuelan mother. She is beautiful, though wearing an afghan. The mom is trying to explain her feelings and Juan interrupts her to give her a hug so that he can get the hell out of there. Clare also did not tell him that she loves him.

Hardest rose ceremony ever, Nowheresville, Hollywood

The four women have to get back together once again. Here comes Nikki in a tiny dress with her roots showing from both ends. Clare wears a red dress that shows off her cleavage, and Andli has an off the shoulder black dress. Renee is doomed in a blue dress. He doesn't want anyone with substance--he wants a baby doll, like Nikki. Nikki is perfect for him. Even Clare has a little too much substance for him.

He says, "You guys look good, holy moly!" Can someone coach him (and all of the other bachelors who do the same thing) not to call the women guys?

First rose: Nikki will accept this rose and any card you may have for a new hair dresser.
Second rose: Clare will accept this rose and so will her heaving breasts.
Third rose: Andli will accept this rose and then decide to go home in the next episode.
Going home: Renee, whose life is too real.

He will fake some tears of regret, and she, I hope, will take it calmly. He wishes he could marry all of them or at least continue rotating them around. Renee says she's never felt this way before about anyone, but she's grateful that he opened her eyes to a whole new world of...I'm not sure what. What she doesn't want in a man?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Moment, Not the One Before or the One That Hasn't Happened Yet

Downton Abbey will be a two hour extravaganza, and I don't think I have the stamina to blog through it, plus, as I've mentioned, it takes away from the pleasure of watching to some extent, because I'm looking more at the computer screen that at the TV and I'm also multi-tasking--uploading photos, correcting spelling errors, etc. So, for tonight, I'll just watch. And maybe have some tea and ginger cookies that my mom made and brought for us today.

When we go to bed, both Dan and I read for a while, but I'm almost always reading a novel or short stories (just got The Best American Short Stories for 2013, which has stories from many of my favorite writers--Lorrie Moore, Junoz Diaz, Charles Baxter, George Saunders) and Dan is almost always reading something related to yoga or meditation or Buddhism or some such crap like that. He uses what he reads to teach his yoga classes, and he will sometimes come across a phrase that strikes him as particularly meaningful and will read it out loud to me. I will tolerate this and nod, and wait until he's satisfied that I've taken that in before I go back to my book. But usually, whatever he reads stays with me for at least a little while. He's currently reading Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now which is a basically a book that points out how most of us live in a constant state of not now. We are either thinking about the past or projecting into the future; neither of which is useful, of course, because the past has happened and is unchangeable, and the future hasn't happened and is mostly out of our control. I'll try to find the sentence he read to me, because it was startling and because I identified with it--as I am usually in some state of replaying a moment from the past or worst-case-scenario-ing something that's going to happen in the future.

Part of my problem is that I function under the misconception that there is a right way to do things; or like, there is a secret key to the way any given situation should be handled, and so I sometimes rewind a scene to imagine what might have happened, had I said or done something differently. Or, in the same vein, if I'm worried about something, I imagine what could occur, if I say one thing or another, or if I act completely out of character--as if I'm likely to suddenly develop Tourette's and stand up in the middle of a dull meeting, screaming obscenities. It's never happened in my life, and it likely will never happen, but I am capable of making up tons of ways I could mess up a situation.

Eckhart Tolle would say that this is not a useful way to spend one's time; though it does serve a purpose; it helps to keep you from experiencing whatever is actually happening in the moment. Why would person want to avoid this moment? Because, I guess, this moment might show you something you don't want to deal with--it might mean you'd have to face the fact that you're not writing enough, or not active enough, or that you're sad or disappointed or that maybe you might miss someone and don't want to think about that either.

Here is the quote he read to me (fair warning, he sees the word "now" as a proper noun:

"Have you ever experienced, done, thought, or felt anything outside the Now? do you think you ever will? Is it possible for anything to happen or be outside the Now? The answer is obvious, is it not?

Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now.

Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.

What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace--and you do so now. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are the past and future only pale reflections of the light, power and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is borrowed from the Now."

In other words, instead of watching DA and thinking about what I am going to write about it, if I will have time to put it out on social media without mistakes, I'm going to watch the show.

Here is Eckhart not now, but at some point in the remembered Now with a calico on his shoulder.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Outfield

How many songs can a brain hold? It happens to me often where I'll hear just a chord from a song I haven't heard in a long time, and all of the lyrics rush back. That occurred to me driving to work the other day, where I heard a John Denver song--can't recall the title of it now, something about going home, and I was thinking how I hadn't heard that particular song in probably fifteen years. I'm certain there are songs that I will never hear again that I used to listen to all the time, and some that I don't ever want to hear again (the first one that comes to mind is "Cat's in the Cradle").

And then there are some songs that I thought I would never hear again but that I can't seem to shake, like "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight," by the Outfields, a song that always reminds me of this guy from high school, Jimmy Deputy, who was an actor and went to a different school, but who I had a huge crush on. He had a really deep voice for his age, which I thought was unbelievably sexy. But, like, why do I have to keep hearing that song; one whose lyrics I still don't really understand, "Josie's on a vacation far away, come around and talk it over..." Who is Josie and why do they have to talk about it and who exactly is he singing this song to? I mean, it's a direct address, but it's not anything that a person would want to hear: "I don't want to lose your love tonight. I just want to use your love tonight." Oh, okay. That sounds like a good idea. 

Here's the group singing the song in 1986, in case you're interested in getting the tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Every single member of the band has a mullet.




Thursday, February 20, 2014

That Dumb Hat

I'm testing out the Blogger feature where you can take a picture with your phone and have it automatically upload to your blog post versus snapping the photo and then finding it and emailing it, downloading it, etc. I'm sure this feature has been available on the app for a while, but just this morning, I thought, wouldn't it be nice if you could take the picture and it would automatically be in your post? And voile, my wish came true.

This photo is a result of something I said to Dan last night. We were getting ready for bed and he was still wearing the hat below, because every time he gets his hair cut, it's more like a massacre where the barber takes the electric clippers to it and leaves him with a millimeter of covering on his head. Consequently, he's always chilly in the winter. So, he sometimes wears a hat around the house.

Anyway, we were going upstairs and I said, "Take off that dumb hat," and for some reason, this both struck us as really funny. It's a pretty mean thing to say, but honestly, it is a dumb hat. I mean, look. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What is Thing Called the "Winter Olympics?"

Luke would like me to write about the time the USA beat out the Russian in an ice hockey shoot out, and they played this song that goes, "Oh, say, O'Shea," but I don't even know what he's talking about.  I don't watch the Olympics, for a couple of reasons, but the main one is that I don't like competitions. I think this comes from being an only child. I never really played a lot of board games as a kid, and I remember being disappointed whenever anyone gave me one.  Because other than my pretend friend or my mom, who was I supposed to be playing Sorry with? Or Clue, for God's sake? I have never once played Monopoly and I don't think I missed anything. The game Operation made me nervous because of the buzzer and Shoots and Ladders seemed too babyish by the time I saw it. So, I never learned how to play board games, and I wasn't athletic at all growing up, so I also never competed in any sports.

As a result, I'm not drawn to watching sports of any kind (except for football, especially college football). The other reason is because I don't like there to be losers. I want to watch a game where everyone is nice to one another and they all win in the end, even the bad guys to some extent. I don't like to watch anyone fail, which is the main reason I can't be witness to ice skating or gymnastics, because it seems inevitable that someone is going to fall on her ass on national television. This is also the reason I'm not interested in watching American Idol--I don't want to see anyone's face register disappointment. And it's why I don't like awards shows--especially the ones where they show all of the potential winners through the announcement of the actual winner, and you watch the other four or five losers struggle to put a smile on. On top of that, I hate the bumbling of the actual winners, where they say dumb, boring things and thank everyone but the most important people.  To sum up,  I don't want to see people show their vulnerabilities, whether that be in messing up an important goal for the team, or not nailing a routine, or accidentally letting an unhappy emotion pass across their faces when they lose.

And yet, I don't feel that way about shows like The Bachelor, where there are tears and people's feelings get hurt, etc. but it's so antiseptic and cliched at this point. Of course the person who doesn't get a rose will cry. But how high are the stakes? Whereas when a person who has trained her whole life to do a double back axle handstand spring jump doesn't stick it, I can't stand it, because it feels like a more authentic disappointment.

Luke is an only child and unless we decide to get on a plane to China tomorrow to adopt a baby, he will remain one. But he's pretty good about board games, I think because he and his dad have played them his whole life, so for him, it's not this weird thing sitting on the shelf in his room, neglected. He is on an ice hockey team too, so he'll learn the benefits of working together, and he will know that his life isn't over when he doesn't score a goal or if he messes up.  I didn't pick up that stuff. What I recall from team sports is getting picked last for softball because I was a terrible player who wore Coke bottle eye glasses and ducked whenever the ball whizzed my way, including when I was at bat. Either that, or I closed my eyes when I swung. See below for evidence of the glasses. Here is yet another birthday where I'm hoping one of my presents isn't Connect Four.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Little Foxes

Wasn't that a movie starring Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichols? Remember her and remember that show Family where she played one of the daughters and wore knee-high athletic socks that are all the rage again? All I can recall from that show is that the actress who played the mom always had a pained look on her face, regardless of what was going on. And maybe that Kind of like how the actress who plays Cora on Downton Abbey perpetually has a simpering expression. I just looked it up and no, the movie I was thinking of was not Little Foxes, but Bad News Bears. I knew there was an animal in the title. In any case, it's interesting how certain animals can become faddish, like, a few years ago, it seemed like owls were the rage, and all you saw at Urban Outfitters were owl pillows and owl lamps and ironic owl sweaters. Now, and for the last several months, it's foxes. And I totally buy into it. Like, I love foxes now. I never didn't love them, but I want fox things around me all the time. I bought a fox coffee mug from West Elm the other day:



Also, this necklace:


I am so easily co-opted by whatever they want me to wear. The "they" being the faceless people who determine trends. It's odd how that happens and what a person decides she likes, thinking it's really her decision and not something created in the trend making shop.

Now that I'm older, there are so many things I can't buy into because I've aged out of them. Like anything from American Outfitters, including their neon tights. Leggings for sure are no longer on the list, though I wore them pretty much every day in college, along with bunchy socks and Keds. Those were also the days of Flashdance fashion sweaters hanging off of your shoulder and leg warmers. We all looked like we were just stepping out of a Jazzercise class. And scrunchies and hair bows. The depressing thing to me is that those styles are coming back now, only labeled as retro. Similar to how I thought poodle skirts and cardigan sweaters were totally cute because they harkened back to Happy Days era. Look at Olivia. Please tell me though that we've given up bandanas as hair decorations. And mullets.





Monday, February 17, 2014

The Bachelor Sings an Aria

Perhaps this will be the episode where Sharlene realizes she's had enough air time to have her own reality TV show; one that follows around five aspiring opera singers as they make jokes about Puccini and arpeggios. Obviously, this would appear only on PBS. Or maybe she'll do that thing where she continues to pretend to be falling more in love with him, despite their stark differences in languages, common interests, IQ, maturity levels, cultural background, class, and personality traits. "I find myself being pulled closer and closer to his five o'clock shadow, in ways that I never imagined could ever have ever ever happened," she might say, staring off into the distance, hoping her high school choir teacher isn't watching.

I finally figured out who that perpetually teenage-looking contestant Clare reminds me of.

Actress Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars fame

 
Actress Clare Someone who will after this, make her living at car shows in Vegas
Uncanny, isn't it?

This will be the show where they are hanging out in Miami. The girls go to this lovely home and they are given tiny bikinis in little boxes. They can't believe it!!!

Juan is reunited with his daughter Camilla. Is this a weird photo for him to post with his daughter?



At home, Juan goes on an on about Sharlene and how classy she is. This is a sure sign that she will be leaving the show. "She's an Oprah singer," he says. I'm spelling it phonetically for you.

Sharlene says that she's missing the cerebral connection with Juan. Yes. And if she said that to him, even his own language, he would say, "I do not know what this word it means, cerebal? Is it something you want for breakfast?"

One-on-one date with Sharlene on a yacht. She says that they don't get each other. That is an understatement. He is wearing all pastels as they lay on the front of a yacht and make out. She says that she's very attracted to him. I mean...as she says, he is ridiculously sexy. I guess. Please don't let them do that Titanic thing. Back at the ranch, the girls talk crap on Sharlene, wondering why she's there when she has this international career and will have to be in Germany and London all the time. The producers are really trying to sell this idea that the two of them could be compatible by showing them on sunlight beaches rubbing noses. I feel like in real life, Juan would sit around in his underwear drinking beer and watching soccer all day. Like that would be his dream Sunday whereas she would be a the Metropolitan Opera House practicing the lead for Aida and then maybe going out for tapas and red wine afterwards.  Juan says he really wants to go see her parent. We have to watch a close-up of them making out and him sliding her the tongue. It's uncomfortable. ICKY. Juan says, "I like when you think." Stop with the back and forth--"it's right, it feels right, it's not right, I am very attracted to him, but there's a little voice saying, 'You're nuts'. It feels good though. In a bad way, but nicely." Hey, finally though, a woman who is making her own decision about how she feels instead of waiting to see how he feels about her. I guess that's progress?

In direct contrast, we have the next one-on-one with Darling Nikki, the pediatric nurse with the heart-shaped face who can't keep her hands out of her hair. Itty bitty jean shorts with the pockets hanging out are back in style, ya'll. 

 
What the hell is Juan P. doing bringing Nikki to his daughter's recital? We are forced to watch little girls singing in a gymnasium. Boring and odd. Camilla ignores her completely, as any kid would because what the hell?  I thought his whole thing was protecting his daughter from meeting too many of the women until he was serious about one of them? Seems like an odd twist. He then takes Nikki to a baseball field where he seems to have an office and Nikki---I am amazed. I don't know she is able to keep that shirt on. I wish I could draw it for you. It's a very low cut backless white shirt and she cannot possibly be wearing a bra. When is her titty going to pop out? Pair that with a teeny tiny skirt and she looks like she's the second act in a sailor-themed strip show. I mean, like classy strip show, but it's definitely not an outfit that leaves much if anything to the imagination. Wait, did she also meet the ex-wife at this recital? I'm confused about who was there.  
Show stopper. Sharlene decides to leave. She whispers the break up news, which is the best way to leave someone, because it's hard for that other person to get mad at you, especially if they can barely hear what you're saying. LOOK AT ME, he says. What is it with him and crying? He actually wipes the tears off their face. With his tongue. It's weird. It's like maybe he had to take care of his drunk mom when he was a little boy and so may never see another woman cry his entire life. He says that the only thing that pisses him off is that she didn't sing enough for him. A moment of brevity. Stop crying, Sharlene. I mean, seriously. Is this the first time in the history of The Bachelor that a girl has decided maybe she needs to leave the show instead of waiting to get rejected first? I think maybe so. "He doesn't have what I'm looking for in terms of forever," she says. Yes, that is an important thing to know.
 
Group date with a caveat--whomever gets the rose from him on this group date gets a special on-on-one date with JP. I guess there will only be four women left. Chelsea is humiliating herself because she's reading out loud the stupid, clichéd letters that her parents gave her. Ali wears a giant mumu  and/or pant suit on the beach like she just time-traveled from an episode of Maude. She starts crying and says she's nervous about next week and him meeting her family, but I think what she's more upset about is the fact that she might not make it onto the next episode of the show. Why is it important that these girls say that they love their families? Can't one of them be like, My family sucks and I really don't want you to meet them because they're embarrassing. By the way, Clare is one of six girls? No wonder she craves attention.  JP gives the date rose to...Andi, the mumu-wearer. I am surprised, but I like her okay. I mean, she's a lawyer and she doesn't seem that dumb.
 
Mini one-on-one date with Ali. She also wears a stripper-type dress, this one is red and short and she wears it with high heels that barely fit. They dance in the middle of the club and it's painfully bad. Andi can't stop smiling, but I think she's living in a dream world. He doesn't like her either. His true love left the show.
 
Illogical arguments between the Veronica Mars and Nikki that allows both of them to get more air time. Neither are that likable, so I don't care. Is there a class you can take in LA, like an acting class for reality shows where you get advice about how to define your character early and how to create conflicts and how to get more time on the show? I bet you a thousand hundred million dollars that this class exists, if not multiple classes like it.  Oh, yes, I just looked it up and there is actually a Reality TV school in New York. Can you imagine the people who sign up for that nonsense?
 
Final cocktail party. My psychic prediction is that he will go pick Nikki, Clare, and Renee. Chelsea is definitely going home; and I can't really tell who else is left. Clare and Nikki don't like each other. Nikki thinks Clare is psycho and Clare thinks Nikki is a brat. In the background, we hear a truck backing up. Who will break the silence first? I bet you anything that they wish they had their phones so that they could pretend to be doing something else. No one is talking or moving, and Renee says that Nikki is just sitting there, like a mannequin. Come on, get on with it, for God's sake.
 
 
Only one "ay" this week.
  
Final rose ceremony: Chris has on his serious face because it is "one of the most important rose ceremonies to date." He has now said that same phrase 304 times. JP makes a speech about how he has to make a decision and hopefully it's the right one. How did we get this far and I don't really like any of them, except for maybe Renee and Ali a little?

First rose: Nikki
Second rose: Clare. Huge long pause, music swells.
Last rose: Renee, she has a kid. I guess I like her the best, but they haven't given her much play. Why does Chelsea just have to stand there like a dumbie? Was Chris in the bathroom or what?

Going home: Chelsea, but we already knew that since she escaped by the skin of her teeth last week.  He is crying again. LOOK AT ME, I can't stop crying. This show is a travesty. "Your breasts are too small,"' Dan says in JP accent. He walks her out and she says, It's nice to date a good guy for once. She remains chirpy and happy, but we know she will crumble into bits in the limo. She's only 24--I do not feel bad for her.

Oh, no, next week is a two day event. Two episodes, two nights?? I can't deal with it. Supposedly, next week, it's the most shocking thing we've ever seen. Does someone die of jealousy? Clare's family looks pretty darn trashy and I can't say for sure if her mom has all of her teeth or not. Stay tuned.



Sunday, February 16, 2014

How Many More Gentile Rapes and Near Abortions and Murders Must We Endure?

Only two episodes worth, according to my mother. But it feels as though we have just begun! That's what happens when you wait for an entire year for a show that only goes for eight total episodes. I guess that's how the Brits do things.

Dan has predicted that Mr. Bates will be killed or become a paraplegic and be left out in the garden in the rain. I predict that he will come up with a foolproof way to kill the rapist, but that Anna will leave him because of it. My prediction that Tom and Lady Mary will end up together seems to have come to naught, as she was flirting recklessly and throwing pig feces at that other guy last week.

We begin with the pigs and Mr. Drew, not to be confused with the rapist, Mr. Green, which I have. Tom is there with Mary and Lady Edith is checking to see how the piglets nurse to get ready for her upcoming baby.

Mrs. Crawley visits the Dowager who is especially bitchy because she's been ill and hasn't been out of house in ages. Mr. Mosley hits on the new lady's maid who is using a new fangled Singer sewing machine. She offers to mend his britches. "There a bit tight down there," she says gesturing to his fly. (I make stuff up sometimes to amuse myself). Ivy gets a letter that will hopefully be an audition to go to another show. Tom finds himself in the drawing room again and Lady Crawley suggest that he run for student council president.  Lady Mary wears a mauve sailor's dress that does nothing for her swanlike neck. In comes the baby for his one visit an hour. That guy holds him--don't know his name, but he's not much good with the baby. Is it Lord Gilliam? He's the one with the rapist valet. Will Anna confess to Lady Mary???? Oh, please! She tells, "It's his man, my lady. His servant." She need not say more; Lady Mary is floored. Anna goes on about how Bates will kill him and then be hanged.

Ivy has had  proposal by letter from Alfred and no one wants to tell Daisy. Did people really ever do that? Propose by mail. Edith has a surreptitious call with Lady Rosalind, who is the only one privy to her pregnancy.

Tom spies Rose in the tea shop with the black musician. What a coincidence. What she doesn't realize is that she is endangering his life by being seen with him. Fast forward to him getting beat up or something.

Tom introduces Lady Crawley to his love interest, the very political and ordinary looking Miss Turnip. She shows a bit too much of her cankles for my taste. This could be because I'm still rooting for Tom and Lady Mary. Tom goes to LM to gossip about Rose and the black man. Lady Mary has quite a few too many secrets to keep right now.

Edith wants to give her baby to a farmer so she can visit in on occasion; perhaps the pig farmer can keep it, she thinks. Rosalind recommends that Edith give the baby away to a Swiss couple with all their nice IKEA furniture. Lady Grantham has zero qualms about this and gives her consent.

Two suitors at the table vying for Lad Mary's approval. I am confused as to why Mr. Green the rapist is at dinner, forcing Anna to try to butter her toast in a normal way without bursting into tears. I wonder if he will try to get at her again? Dan suggests that they go ahead and set it up--like make it so that they can kill him in self-defense. Mr. Green in the library with the candlestick, or some such.

The show dies whenever Lady Grantham is stinking up the scene with her terrible, one note acting. Lady Mary confronts Rose who says she is in love with the black man and she can't wait until she tells her mother, to watch her face crumble. Cleary, this is a rebellious move.

Lady Mary tells Tony (the guy with the rapist valet) that she's not available and not on the market. She asks him how likes his valet, hinting that he might be a bad egg.

The dowager takes Edith and Rosalind to tea and interrogates them because nothing gets past her for long. This is an episode about confessions. Hub-bub about a bazaar; no idea what that is but like last week's pig man, it's caused quite a stir. They're hanging flags and making puddings like nobody's business.

Bates tells Mr. Carson that he wants to go to York while Anna is in London with Lady Mary--we suspect he's going to go and do some damage to the rapist.

Tom runs into the turnip lady on the road and is able to help her with her car. Huge coincidence number two. She checks out his ass when he bends. I did not make that up.

I have to get a snack now, so Dan will write for a while in the meantime.

This guy is trying to fix her car. The school teacher seems to be into him. He's a good mechanic. The car starts and she drives away. 

The old lady is sitting on a bench with the pregnant girl. They are trying to figure out what do with the baby that's not even born yet.

Cut to another old lady wearing a goofy hat. She's talking to a guy in a three piece suit. He envies her and her wonderful memories.

The black musician is singing and playing the piano Mary pays a visit. He had made tea. Mr. Ross is his name. Aimee is eating frosted flakes right now. They are wondering if Rose's life will be spoiled. He won't marry her to save her from the angst of marrying a black dude.

Now Lady Mary is reading a good book and talking to the rape victim, Anna. She's going to blow the whistle on Mr. Green.. She's invited Mr. Green over along with Lord Gillingham. Anna gets tense.

I am back. Thank you, Dan. Lady Mary takes tea with Tony and she tells him he must dismiss his valet, even as we know that Mr.Bates is on his way to see the guy and beat the shit out of him. He agrees to get rid of Mr. Green because he loves her.

Mr. Bates is back from York and continues to casually shine a shoe. "What were you up to? Anna asks. Oh, this and that, he says trying to get the blood out of his welly.

Dan notes that there are quite a lot of hats on this show. Mr. Carson has the deepest voice ever. Lord Grantham arrives back from the States, reminding us that he has been gone. "He shows up wearing a Phillies hat!" Dan says, and then nudges me to add that to the blog. Lord Grantham is reunited with Cora and they have a tepid kiss as the actor playing Lord Grantham tries his hardest not to despise the fact that he's acting next to an amateur.

Edith laments that she will never see the married guy again. The dowager seems to be taking her pregnancy in stride and even says that they should have an ice cream together. Perhaps she's hoping it will cause her to loss the baby.

Lord Gillingham is back to tell Lady Mary that Mr. Green is dead, having slipped in front of a bus and being hit. Anna knows that it must have been Mr. Bates. Charles advises Lady Mary to not tell anyone either even though he's not sure what the secret is.


Did you know this show was going to be an extra 25 minutes long? Maybe it spoils the experience a little for me to write about it while it's going on--it's a different kind of attention. Alfred and Daisy decide to be friends forever instead of anything more, but one suspects that he might come back for another go at her, as they say.

Another suitor, Charles, confesses to Lady Mary that he's in love with her. She's flattered, but she thinks it kinder to refuse him now and let him off the hook. He will not allow it without putting up a fight, he says. I am totally not into this whole thing about the men vying for her attention. It's boring. Lord Grantham wants to know what sort of ménage a trois has happened while he was away. If only!

And that's it. We are building to a conclusion, certainly--and I hope it's not Mr. Bares being taken off in shackles. I hope it's a kiss with Tom and Lady Mary.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Atonement

We watched the movie last night at my mom's house. I've read the book, but had very little recollection of the story line, other than that I didn't think it ended well and that I liked the name of the little girl (Briony--played in this case by a perfect little girl with a bobbed cut and bobby pin and round blue eyes).

In a nutshell, the story is about a little girl who has a crush on an older boy who works on their estate.She witnesses a series of adult interactions between her sister and the boy, ending with catching them in the act in a scene that must have been titled, The Green Dress. Later in the night, another little girl is raped by a dastardly mustached visitor (the British guy who plays Sherlock Holmes in the current PBS series) and Briony lies and says that it was the boy she has a crush on who did it. "I saw him," she says, even though she didn't. Thus, she sets in motion a series of events the splits apart the lovers, sends an innocent man to jail as a pedophile, and eventually, inadvertently leads to his death from sepsis.

The first part of the story takes place in 1935 and the sets were amazing plus who doesn't love the clothes they wore with the many pleats and tucks. Dan and Mom had both seen the movie when it first came out in theaters years ago, but neither could remember much about it either. I kept saying, Does it end well? They said no, they didn't think so. Not even a little bit? No, not even a little bit. Were they sure? They weren't 100 percent sure, but they were pretty certain that it didn't tie up in a nice little bow.

We watched it all, through the betrayal of the little girl, then a jump forward to four years later in the middle of the war and then the very end to the present day with Lynn or Vanessa Redgrave as the older Briony wearing her hair in the same neat bob with a pin.

The interesting thing about the movie is that they don't do that typical Hollywood thing where they give you the ending you want and then maybe pull the rug out from under you to let you know that it's all a dream kind of thing. Instead, they have the adult Briony telling her interviewer (as an adult authoress, dying of a brain disease) that she invented the ending. That she went ahead and made it happy in her novel--gave her sister and her lover a life together, when in reality, both of them died because of events related to the war; they never were reunited, she never did mend fences with her sister, she never got to make that final atonement she'd spent her life trying to pay back. Then they showed the scene she'd written in the book, of her sister and the love of her life frolicking in the beach happily. I just thought it was kind of cool that they didn't do it the way and then make the audience mad by saying, Gotcha!

The only thing I didn't like that much about the movie was Kiera Knightly--not for any other reason than that she's painfully thin. Unhealthily, disconcertingly rail anorexic, ladder thin. And because she looks so much like Winona Ryder with less interesting features.

It makes me want to read more McEwan--I started his newest book and ruined it for myself by reading the ending before I got there, and it had a similar theme--you learn that the details you thought were true were inventions of one of the characters; another sort of "ah-ha" ending that's beautifully done. I have another one of his on my bedside table right now, can't think of the name, but I'm saving it until I've run out of library books. Will let you know how it turns out, and if it turns out in a surprising way.