I am a creature of rare social grace---the GAZELLE of the dinner party. If you have ever seen video of a springbok or Thompsonâ€™s gazelle sprinting and curving and reversing at 80 miles an hour, pronking joyfully upwards, executing long-legged flying leaps sideways and then landing and bending and tearing off in another direction entirely...thatâ€™s me.
Now imagine a GIANT springbok engaging in these behaviors in your kitchen. Yeah...Sorry about all your crockery. And chairs. And walls. And the guests with concussions and hoofprints in their hairdos.
Up until this week, my most socially awkward memory of all time---the one that could make me feel the hot liquid rush of shame-creep come up my spine lo these sixteen years later--- was sitting on an airplane flying up to see Scott in Chicago for the first time after we had mentioned to each other that instead of being BFF, as we had always thought, we were actually quite madly in love.
We were (OF COURSE!) living all the way across the country from each other and were (OF COURSE!) both in serious relationships when we made this discovery, so we just kinda TABLED the discussion and went to our respective homes in our respective cities to respectfully end our respective relationships---we didnâ€™t want to start out by being sneaky or cheaty. We wanted to start RIGHT.
So, after the dust had settled and we were both free agents, I got on a plane to Chicago, and went to have my first date with him and make a planâ€”because there MUST be a plan. (I am so enamored of HAVING A SET COURSE OF ACTION that when my friend Mir sees my name on the caller ID, she answers the phone by saying, â€œWhy, hello, Plan Cat!â€)
Without a plan, I get antsy, and I had just exploded my whole THE REST OF MY LIFE plan with no solid replacement. When I took my seat on that plane to Chicago, I had just given up a full ride to a grad school in Georgia, put everything I owned in a U-Haul and moved back into my parentâ€™s house on the strength of seven years of best friendship and a midnight to four am conversation about love that took place in my momâ€™s backyard gazebo.
After we were airborne, I ordered a glass of red wine to calm my nerves. I took two sips, and the third time I reached for the glass I BATTED it brilliantly sideways in a spectacular arc, and the wine splashed and sprinkled itself ALL OVER the woman beside me. Not even a molecule landed on me. I was spotless, and she had wine droplets trembling in her BANGS.
I apologized profusely and blotted her down, and the stewardess came with warm, moist towelettes from first class and sent her to the bathroom with club soda to repair it as best she could, and when she came back I explained---no, I OVEREXPLAINED--in a mortified babble how nervous I was and about Scott and love and Scott and upended life and NO PLAN and Scott, and the poor woman graciously accepted my apology and we resettled ourselves and the flight attendant brought me a replacement glass of Shiraz on the house. I did not even get to taste that replacement wine. Because the FIRST time I reached for it I tipped it over and dumped the entire contents in my seatmateâ€™s lap.
OH. YES. I DID.
We repeated the WHOLE cleaning and apologizing and overexplaining process, though somewhat more FROSTILY on her side, and I refused a replacement wine. For obvious reasons. And then had to sit there for more than hour with this POOR DAMP SHIRAZ-SMELLING LADY....GAHHHH.
That was, hands down, my MOST socially awkward moment, a memory that SHONE brilliant blush red even in the TREASURE TROVE of graceless, spastic, socially awkward moments that have plagued my gazelle-at-a-dinner-party life.
Until last week.
When I managed to top it.
To be continued...
Once on a chorus trip in high school, the bus stopped at a Mexican place and we all got off to eat. I had a crush on a guy namedâ€¦Letâ€™s call him JOHN. His name may well have been John. I do not remember. I remember he was tall and had thick dark hair that flopped over his forehead in SUCH an engaging manner, and olive skin with VERY blue eyes. A delightful looking boy was the name-forgotten boy we are calling John.
By the way, if I DID remember his name, I would STILL probably call him John because of FACEBOOK. Suddenly I am back in touch with four kids I knew from CORDOVA PARK ELEMENTARY, a tenth of the folks I went to middle school with, and half my graduating class. SO WEIRD.
(PS I just heard from a girl I was rather close with back in middle school, and I remembered the EXACT SONG she chose for her gymnastics routine in 8th grade. It was ONCE TWICE THREE TIMES A LADY. And I remember she did a balance beam step thing with her arms out on every counting word, ONCE! TWICE! THREE TIMES! And then she would FLIP on the word lady. That memory takes up one of the brain cells I had PLANNED on using to retain GERMAN. Alas. It is there forever, next to all the words to the Cureâ€™s Love Cats and most of the dialog from the Breakfast Club
Sprechen sie deutsche?
ANYWAY, even if I could recall the name, we would call him JOHN because next week I could be friending his sister or his best friend on Facebook, and LORD but this is a hateful memory about John. Less said, the betterâ€¦Also, you know, I had a crush on him, and I lied about it. To everyone.
I SPECIALIZED, in fact, in lying about who I had a crush on. I remember an intense three week period when I had a TERRIBLE crush onâ€¦ Something Bosco. Tim? Some one syllable name like Tim. Maybe HE was John. SOMETHING Bosco. JOHNROBTIMJAMESDANTOM. Did not matter---I thought if he was ever my boyfriend I would CALL him Bosco, and that would be SO cool. He would call me Jackson. Like that.
My LURVE for him was my especial pet dirty secret and I vehemently denied it at the time. SWORE it was not true. Said I would MURDER FRIENDLY LABRADOR RETIEVERS and EAT THEIR RAW DEAD LABRADOR RETRIEVER MEAT with no bun or mustard if it was true. I looked my best friend in the face and said, â€œSomething Bosco? Iâ€™d sooner lick a leper.â€ LIES LIES! He was DARLING and when he passed me in the hall, washing the air with his Polo, I swooned inside with hopeless swoonings.
I liked him so much I used his name in a short story I wrote back in gradschool--- Bosco, I mean, not the name I donâ€™t remember. Obviously. I think that one was published ina lit mag out of Berkeley called OUTLET. The first line is something like â€œBosco has become an animal rights activist. He wonâ€™t let Piper kill the rats that are living her sofa.â€
But this guy, letâ€™s-call-him-JOHN, was on the trip, and I was at his table BY CHANCE AND LUCK and I was dying of swoon and adoration and only half paying attention to the whispery conversation I was having with my friend. She mocked me for eating my chips sans salsa and I said, â€œI canâ€™t eat spicy food. Iâ€™m Irish, we are potato eaters and our stomachs are made out of Play-Dohâ€¦I probably have a titanium liver though!â€ SO then we started listing foods by country, and we talked about who had Irish Play-Doh stomachs (The British) and who had stomachs that could win a cagefight with a grizzly (Indians) and when we came to Greek food I said, â€œA lot of it is spicy---Greeks have cast Iron Stomachs.â€
That line fell into a little silence.
And John said, in INJURED, mighty, WOW-YOU-RACIST tones, â€œI am Greek.â€
While I sputtered and tried to explain what I meant and sounding MORE MORE MORE like an enormous Greek hating racist every second, he got quietly up and changed tables. As did his two friends.
I spent YEARS and YEARs and SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS ON HYPNO-THERAPY to NEVER REMEMBER THAT MOMENT AGAIN. And then the girl I had the Irish Liver conversation with friended me on Facebook, and it came TOE-CURLINGLY back. You know that SICK pit feeling certain memories of your own ass-headed moments bring, years later?
Yeah. Me, too.
Oh Facebook, thou art a mixed blessing!
My brother and I were never Mother Goose kids. We believed in DO IT YOURSELF nursery rhyming, and I can recite the songs and poems we perpetrated together on long car trips more readily than I can recall the name of that PIE obsessed thumb-poking fellow, or summon up the end line of Wee Willie Winky---poem which seems to me, in retrospect, to be about an under-endowed flasher.
Case in point: I just got an email from my date to the senior prom. HEE! I havenâ€™t heard from him inâ€¦*cough* well, SEVERAL years, letâ€™s say. Not since high school. He recently moved back to our hometown after years in San Diego, and I suppose he was googling around to see who from the way back back might still be around. He ran across my website and dropped me a line, saying, among other things, how he remembered me reciting a poem called The Tiny Piny, and that he was glad I was clearly still writing, as he didnâ€™t remember the poem, but he remembered how much he liked it.
I didnâ€™t have the heart to tell him that Tiny Piny was my BROTHERâ€™s work. *grin* I may have had stuck in my thumb and pulled out a line or two for it, but I REALLY think that one was Bobbyâ€™s.
The weird thing is, I hadnâ€™t thought about it in YEARS ANDYEARS AND YEARS, but the whole poem came back to me almost immediately, and I think the way I remember it is no more than a few words off. Here it is:
The Tiny Piny
Once back in 1883
There lived a Tiny Piny Tree.
But all around large trees did stand.
The people said, â€œHow great! How grand!
This big one is a sight to see,
Let's take it for our Christmas tree.â€
But little Tiny Piny Tree
Got peed on by a dog.
And little Tiny Piny Tree
Got rooted by a hog.
The other trees all sold and sold
While Tiny Pinyâ€™s limbs grew cold.
â€œIâ€™ll never be a Christmas tree,â€
The Tiny Piny said.
And sure enough,
When Christmas rolled around,
The Tiny Piny Tree was dead.
HA! Thatâ€™s got to be 90% accurate, and if I have said that poem out loud or even thought it all the way through in the last 20 years, I will eat my hat. It simply stayed in my brain cells. All my brotherâ€™s work was JUST that macabre, and you can see his Barsoom and Bugs Bunny coated influence on ALL the things we wrote together. This includes The Clarence Song, which we wrote while our folks drove us to Alabama fro Christmas one year. It had a charming and upbeat tune, all bouncy and warbly, to go with it:
Clarence was a butterfly
Flew way up in the big blue sky
Gentle breezes furled his wings
Clarence listens while the BIRD! EE! SINGS!
Other butterflies sailed around
Clarence got too close to the ground
Clarence didnâ€™t get too far,
Now heâ€™s the SPLAT! On the FRONT! of our car.
You clap loudly when you sing the words Splat and Front, for the record, should you wish to make up a tune and sing this charming ditty with your own bloody-hearted and unsentimental wee ones.
Clarence was a collaboration, but Bobby the one who came up with the LOVE YER DOLLY song, though I certainly added my own verses over the years. It was sung to a rousing square dance tune, I believe the one that played on the cartoons when Bugs Bunny ended up dancing with Yosemite Sam. It had about a THOUSAND verses, all violent, some scatological, and most highly instructional in the ways of naughtiness and cruelty. This is my favorite verse, the one that traditionally kicked off a 50 verse improvised LOVE YER DOLLY SONG marathon:
Love yer dolly evermore
Nail her to the kitchen floor,
Drink yer milk in gulps not sips,
Kiss a puppy on the lips
AH J. M. Barrie got it so exactly right, when he wrote about the beautiful heartlessness of children. If you havenâ€™t read the REAL Peter Pan in years and years, you should. It is practically perfect in every way.
EDIT: For more, peep comment #2. That's my brother, who read this entry and immediately recalled ALL the words to the Jackson Kids classic hit, "Hoppy the Toad." And he posted them.
I am sorry.
â€¦So I went to the mall and I started wandering into clothing stores and looking at what the mannequins were wearing. Most of the mannequins didnâ€™t have HEADS and yet they still had a better understanding of how to accessorize than I did.
As I wandered in and out of stores, I tried to imagine what kind of HEAD would go on top of various mannequins. I saw elegant ones best topped off with my momâ€™s head, cheerful, bouncy colored ones that needed the head of my teenaged babysitter, and a more than a few butt-crack showing, cleavage happy objects that were clearly asking to be topped with the over-painted noggins of whores. Nothing I could see myself wearing.
UNTIL! I wandered into Ann Taylor Loft. Right in the front was a mannequin in â€¦GASP!!! A v neck black knit top and a black and white print skirt. HURRAY! I WAS SAVED!
I was assiduously gathering newer, more expensive versions of my tragic wardrobe when I got â€œOH HONYE NOâ€ed by George. George was the manager. George had a certified fashionable hair-do that looked like it required PRODUCTS and the assiduous application of hot air to make it fluff and twine correctly, and then post-process, a HUGE portion of SHEER ANIMAL WILL to make it maintain through a long day. George had that sheer animal will by the BUCKET. (His carefully constructed hair in its perfect, artistic tousles would one day appear on top of Stan Webelowâ€™s head in THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, but that day, I simply bowed to his hairâ€™s superior understanding of fabric.)
George took my black V necks away and insisted that with my hair and eyes and skin, I was a SPRING. So. George would know better than I, and out of sheer touring-horror I bought a LOT of outfits that George assured me would help me look my best. Lots of pink, God help me. Lots of true green and turquoise. No black. Brown in moderation. I traded my birth control glasses in for contacts.
I looked like this:
And you know what? It was good. It was very good! Because I was terrorized and I KNEW in my DEEPEST HEART that I was ABSOLUTELY not the sort of person who could manage to pull off a book tour. After all, I play WORLD OF WARCRAFT. I knew who IRON MAN was before they decided to make a movie about him. I trip over dust motes, vomit when I get nervous, and have a braying cackle of a laugh that gets away from me sometimes and shatters glass. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PEOPLE, I HAVE, WITH GENUINE LONGING, CRUSHED ON SPOCK! I am so CLEARLY a total, spasmodic GEEK.
But in the George clothes, I also wasnâ€™tâ€¦ME. I looked in the mirror and it wasnâ€™t me AT ALL. With my background in theatre, this was a HUGE advantage. I went out on the road and acted as if I was someone more confident than I actually am, and the clothes made it seem like it was true, even to me. I acted as if I BELONGED on a book tour, and people seemed to magically accept that it was so.
At home, I kept everything rigidly separated. MY closet in the master bedroom was full of shabby, floppy, drab objects I called â€œMy REAL clothes.â€ The GEORGE clothes moved into the pristine guest bedroom closet, and I called them my, â€œDress up and pretend to be an Author clothes.â€ And if it gave me a teeny portion of Multiple Personality Disorder, so be it. Itâ€™s not like another dot of mental illness was going to get LONELY, hanging out in my brain. It had PLENTY of other mental illnesses to keep it companyâ€¦
BAH! I am out of time again. I will finish the Plumage Meditation tomorrow â€“ OH, and for those of you who asked to see Sam â€“ now ELEVEN! â€“ here he is at Maisy;s birthday dinner at a local Japanese steakhouse. Maisy is cowering in her cousin Danielâ€™s lap:
Researching again. I need to learn guns. I need to learn them inside out and backwards. I shot a BB gun as a child, and later, I may have taken a few potshots at a trashcan with my brotherâ€™s pellet gun, but thatâ€™s about it. You may remember what happened the one time my dad and my brother let me go hunting with themâ€¦ (If not, see #90 - # 94) So. Calamity Jane does not need to move over.
Althoughâ€¦once, at a local fair, they had a ROOTINâ€™ TOOTINâ€™ SHOOTINâ€™ BOOTH <----not kidding. They lined up 5 Miller and Bud cans, handed the next guy in line a BB shooting pistol with sights so wonky that attempting to use them to AIM would likely end in you shooting your own eye out, and told him he had six shots knock all five cans down. It cost fifty cents to try. Winners got five silver dollars.
The boy I was with got tired of waiting to see if we would leave rich---we had purchased a square in COW FLOP BINGO <----once again completely NOT kidding. The available games should indicate to you that this was not the state fair or even a county fair. This was a FAIRLET. A thirty booth hopeful carnival-wannabe with a livestock show and a single exhausted Candy Floss machine slowly grinding out strings of cotton candy in simple pink. They had no Ferris wheel, but plenty of homemade JAM competitions, right? They had one creaky old death trap of a carousel imperiling the lives of children, and a dunking booth, and a guess your weight guy losing money hand over fist.
So anyway, My Boyfriend---letâ€™s call him Jim--- got bored waiting for the earth to move over at Cow Flop Bingo, and the Rootinâ€™ Tooâ€”etc booth was right next door.
By the way, I said letâ€™s call him Jim not to protect his anonymity, but because I canâ€™t remember his name. It may well have been a Jim. A LOT of them were named Jim. Most of the boys I dated in high school have sort of RUN TOGETHER into an amalgamation, a floppy haired decent gent with slightly buggy eyes. In actuality I changed boyfriends about as often as I changed shoes; I dated a lot without ever really falling in love. I liked having a boy friend, but I wasnâ€™t the sort of girl who knew exactly what one DID with one after you had him, and so I would switch out and hope the next one might know what to do with me.
My MO was to crush hard on a boy and then date him a few times, make out a little, and then Iâ€™d blink at him, puzzled, not sure what boys liked to talk about and not willing to let things progress any farther in the backseat. So Iâ€™d put him back where I found him, like a fisherman who is VERY excited about making his own lures and trolling, but who doesnâ€™t know how to clean or cook anything. Most of the boys I dallied with WERE named Jim or James, though there was a Trevor and a Dillon and a Damien (Yes, really --- he must have been born BEFORE the made the Omen? One hopes?) and I think a pair of Michaels, and one I had for several months running with dark red hair and puffy lips â€“ I remember him specifically because he had a black Mustang, was a dern good kisser without being too handsy, and often drove me through the Krystal Burger for a cheese off the grill and a coke after school; these three things combined made him last an inordinately long time for a boyfriend of mine.
His name started with a T and I THINK at this fair, I think it was him. It was a double date, so we must have been with Jennifer and her main squeeze, Billy, or no, my boyfriend was old enough to drive so maybe by then she was dating Len? Or maybe the others my boyfriendâ€™s friends, and it wasnâ€™t T, but one of the Jims, the one who went to a different high school? You see how it is.
Anyway, there were four of us, and we got bored at Cow Flop Bingo and My Boyfriend laid two quarters down at the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Shooty and picked up the pistol and through sheer animal will made a couple of the cans fall down. He couldnâ€™t have SHOT them down because the sights were worse than useless and he was actually aiming instead of, you know, just pointing and hoping. AIMING made it harder with sights like that. He tried three or four times, protesting that he actually wasnâ€™t a bad shot, before giving the gun up as a bad job.
Him: You want to try?
He paid the fifty cents, and I picked the BB pistol up casually, pointed the end with the hole in it at the cans, and squeezed the trigger rapidly, six times, so fast it was like blinking with my finger.
All the cans went down.
My Boyfriend: NO WAY! NO WAY!
Me; *casual shrug* My dad was in the Army.
My Boyfriend: NO! WAY!
I got my five silver dollars, and then they all wanted me to repeat the miracle, and of course I could not, but the four of us must have spent another ten bucks between us trying. Over at Cow Flop Bingo, the cow chose to grace a square that wasn't ours, so we stayed and we shot, and I donâ€™t think I ever knocked more than one can down again. The best anyone else did was three. But it left me with the inexplicable belief that if I ever WERE to take up a gun, I would monstrous-superlative at it. Or monstrous-lucky, which can look a lot like the same thing.
ANYWAY â€“ I am out of time, but..I find it interesting that I set out very deliberately to talk about SHOOTING and ended up accidentally talking about BOYS. Hrm.
Moral: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but a gun is NEVER just a gun.
I went to Paris when I was about 16 years old with a gaggle of big smartipantses from every high school in my hometown. The hard sell at the schools was that we would PRE-get college credit for going, because we would look at a LOT of art and open our fresh pink American mouths wide to experience great heaping tablespoons of culture.
Some true things about me in high school:
1) I was a GOOD kid. Except I had a foul mouth. I could, with pride, out-curse any chick in the school. In several languages. I could curse in languages I couldnâ€™t use otherwise to ask where a bathroom was or even opine that my pencil was yellow. I considered it a vital part of a complete vocabulary.
But to mis-paraphrase the immortal Adam Ant, I didnâ€™t smoke, I didnâ€™t drink, and I most certainly did not â€œwhat do you do.â€ How many shoes did I have? Two. What kind were they? Goody. I had never had an alcoholic beverage before I went to Europe, barring perhaps a sip of oversweet communion wine when I went to a friendâ€™s Episcopal service after a sleepover and maybe a parentally administered taste of champagne at New Years.
2) In my freshman year, I went from being five foot nothing with the figure of a broomstick to being 5â€™ 7â€ with a C cup front that can best be described as mighty. The Mighty Rackâ€¦and THAT perfect phrase is stolen willfully from Julie at A Little Pregnant who has one, too--- was the biggest part of me. It was absolutely my widest point. <---this will be important later.
While in Paris, one of the EDUCATIONAL SPOONS we were to open wide and swallow was a trip to The Moulin Rouge to see very culturally laden but often top-free singers and dancers and every table of four would get a bottle of REALLY FOR TRUE French Champagne so we could experience a mild French culture laden buzz. No drinking age in France, right?
My parents had discussed this with me BEFORE I went, and said part of the reason they asked me not to drink at home was that it was ILLEGAL, BUT that while in Europe they knew this Champagne thing was happening and also that a wine tasting thing would be happening in Italy, and they encouraged me to enjoy these events in Moderation while using my Good Judgment.
My good judgment told me that my friend Charlotte and I should CLEVRLY PLOT to be seated at a four top with these two girls from Catholic school who DID. NOT. DRINK. Charlotte and I downed the whole bottle between us. In the interests of culture, you understand.
Now, back at the hotel there was a beautiful lion man who ran the front desk. He was veryveryveryreallytruly French and he could not POSSIBLY have loathed us all more and he had deep limpid blue eyes and a noble nose and BLACK hair that had gone prematurely gray so it had I SWEAR TO YOU genuine silvery streaks and it was long and luxurious and thick and swept back into an ENORMOUS mane and all the girls loved to think of dumb reasons to go to the lobby to ask him things so he would sneeringly answer and make us all swoon.
When we had arrived he had stood NOBLE AND DRIPPING WITH MALE ANIMAL HOTNESS before our whole group in the lobby and said, in his elegant sexy-accent, â€œFoul teen spawns, drink not of the liquors in the mini bar, for I will look and know and tell on you, and you will be punishâ€™ed most mightily.â€ And every girl there sort of sighed and dreamed of what the punishment might be while the boys said, â€œDAMMITâ€ under their collective breath.
So anyway, after the show, we went back to the hotelâ€¦
Charlotte and I are BEYOND buzzed. Were we SO enriched by culture we couldnâ€™t walk a straight line. My ability to make good and wise decisions, never that keen to begin with, was wrapped in a cozy blanket of REALLY FOR TRUE French Champagne and it had already nodded off.
A few of the boys had this GREAT idea to TRICK the lion headed Man-beauty below.
They decided they would go from ROOM TO ROOM, to EVERY ROOM THERE WAS, and remove the caps from all the small bottles of CLEAR liquor in a delicate fashion so the little tabs did not break off and the little screw-caps could be put back exactly. Then they DRANK UP ALL THE CLEAR LIQUORS and refilled the bottles with water so they looked full and unmolested.
Oh best beloveds, my good judgment let out a lingering snore and declined to object when a boy I knew suggested it might be culturally enriching as ALL GET OUT to experienceâ€¦
He had already drunk up all the clear liquor in my room, so we went to the room of a tiny, pretty doe-eyed girl named Jodi Gup, who let us in to ravage her minibar. Okay, look, let me just say here that CHEAP LUKEWARM GIN IS VERY VERY BAD. It tastes like petrol and it burns and hurts. While I was busy choking to death, I accidentally DROPPED the little oh-so-carefully-removed cap and it went scampering off under Jodi Gupâ€™s low bed.
Now, Gorgeous Lion Man-Beauty aside, this was not a ritzy place. This was a tour for HIGH SCHOOL KIDS. The TOILETS in the hotel were FRIGHTENING FLOOR HOLE LOOKING THINGS (<---this will be important later) and the beds were these low slung metal objects that looked like what would happen if a cot and a bear trap had a baby. I got down on the floor to go after the cap, but the earth started to spin REALLY SUPER FAST so I turned onto my back. Then I pushed myself along the floor with my feet, stuffing myself under Jodiâ€™s low bed, going after the cap.
There was this sort of BAR THING under there and I managed to goozle the mighty rack UNDER the bar. My head hit the wall then, and I looked left and SAW THE CAP! I grabbed itâ€¦and couldnâ€™t get back out. I could have easily slid my belly and hips under the bar, but my head had hit the wall and I couldnâ€™t get out that way. And I couldnâ€™t get the boobs to go back. They had passed under once, but they absolutely refused to go the other way.
By then the boys had moved on to ravage the mini bar in the next room. It was just me and Jodi Gup (who was MAYBE 5 feet tall and probably couldnâ€™t bench press a puppy) and her roomie, a girl whose memory I have entirely repressed, and they could not lift the bed. It was made of IRON or LEAD or possibly BLACK HOLES, so DENSE was this cot-bear-trap of a metal bed. It would not be lifted.
So Jodi, none too sober herself after her little nips of French Culture and Vodka, went and gotâ€¦.wellâ€¦everyone. Everyone and all their friends. The ENTIRE TOUR ended up in Jodiâ€™s room alternately laughing their butts off and trying to make a getting-my-boobs-out plan that did not involve beautiful, evil lion-man knowing what we had done to the minibars and destroying us. Jodi stood at the door welcoming late comers and helpfully explained over and over what the problem was. ("Her boobs stuck under the bed, doncha know.")
Finally I think it took about 4 boys, ALL OF THEM THRASHED BEYOND IMAGINATION on clear liquor, to lift the incredibly heavy bed just a FEW INCHES so another boy could grab my ankles and pull me out, and I SHOULD have gotten college credit for the rest of that evening, because I spent it learning SO SO VERY much about what French toilets look like from REALLY REALLY close. As a bonus, I learned that cheap gin burns as much coming up as it does going down, and I made an important and mature decision I have stuck with to this DAY, which is that when I became legal, I would be a top-shelf-or-nothing girl.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I feel obligated to point out that THAT WAS JUST ONE NIGHT THOUGH! In Paris, I pretty much spent ALL the rest of my time at the Louvre and an assortment of Medieval Chapels! I didnâ€™t even get drunk ever again. Oh, except for that wine tasting. I seem to remember making out in the hotel lobby with an excrutiatingly lovely Spanish boy on Holiday with his parents and little sister. He spoke about nine words of English, all of which seemed to be about me being a most beautiful lady.
Thank you for sending me to Europe. I experienced really a lot of art and also culture and also Spanish French Kissing in Italy. It was completely great.
My grandmotherâ€™s skin â€œdone gone pure punkin color.â€
Thatâ€™s how my dead grampa would have said it.
When my mother called, she said it like this: â€œMy mother has hepatitis.â€
I thought that it was not true. I couldnâ€™t imagine it was a joke----but how on earthâ€¦?
I said, â€œHas Grandmother been partying with Aerosmith? Again?â€
Now Iâ€™m thinking about the white house Grandmother lived most of her life in----she had to sell it and go to assisted living a few months ago. My grandmother does not like to be assisted. Sheâ€™s old and viperous and strong willed. She went haring off unassisted and broke her hip into teeny tiny unfixable pieces, so they cut her open and put in a fake new hip, and she had to have some blood and the blood they gave her was chock full of Hep B. Neat.
Aerosmith would have made a better story.
This particular grandmother and I are not what you would call close. She was viperous for a long time before she was old. I respect her toughness, I have to say. There are days I want to borrow it.
I remember staying at her house when I was too little to be asked my opinion. I remember playing make-up with the pink puffs on the mimosa tree in her front yard and watching a moccasin go wriggling up her creek bed with his head held high out of the water, his body making a writhing series of S shapes as he propelled himself along. I remember the dry gas heater smell of the house inside at Christmas, and the outdoor baked black earth smell of Alabama summer.
Dogs came and dogs went, but the best one was a wiener dog with extra nose. A good four inches extra. He was pointy and stubby-legged and wary.
I donâ€™t recall his name but I do know he loved a particular foam red ball. It had chew holes in it and smelled of 1,000 coats of dried dog spittle and it didnâ€™t bounce for crap. Still, he loved it beyond reason. It was about the size and shape of a fine tomato, and when my brother threw it straight up in the air, toward the sun, as high and hard as he could, the dog would stare up into the sky like an outfielder and crane up toward the ball so that his front paws left the earth in little hops and he would yearn at it and follow the arc with his crafty bright bead eyes and leap and snatch it hard from the air it as it came down.
He wanted my brother to throw that ball up at the sun all the time, one throw after another. Forever.
One day we went down the yard past the neighborâ€™s horses and the shed where I once found (and stole) the chipped glass pig, all the way to Grandmotherâ€™s huge vegetable garden. Bobby had the ball with him, which meant he also had the dog. Once there, he threw the ball up toward the sun a few times. Then he swapped the ball out for one of Grandmotherâ€™s prime tomatoes, and threw that.
The dog braced and yearned and leapt for the red orb, and his long snappy jaws slammed shut on the tomato. Which exploded. Juice and pulpy jelly went splattering in an ASTOUNDING radius, spattering our t shirts and shorts and freckling the bare belly-white skin of our Irish legs. The dogâ€™s eyes rounded in surprise----we saw his eyes actually had whites. He wasâ€¦.nonplussed.
My brother threw the ball again. The dog leapt at it almost by reflex, and seemed pleased when his jaws closed around its familiar foam surface.
We did it again. All day. My brother would get him all comfortable with 5 or 6 ball throws, then slip in the tomato. SNAP! Went the dog. SPLAT! went the tomato. We went home covered in bloody vegetable remains and got yelled at for throwing something edible and valued at each other.
All we learned from being in trouble was to run backwards after throwing the tomato, so that the jellied shrapnel didnâ€™t reach us. All the dog learned was a taste for fruit.
He starting eating Grandmotherâ€™s tomatoes right off the vine, and then he figured out how to crack melons open by pounding at them and rolling them with his long snout, worrying a hole them, and then heâ€™d insert his ridiculous spare nose inches in the hole or crack he made and eat the sweetest meat out of the very middle, so that the next day, two or three melons would be listing to one side, half deflated like old footballs.
After a few days, all that fruit gave him horrid gas and then even more horrid diarrhea that he left all over the lawn as he waited for more tomatoes to sweeten and get fat and ready for him.
One day the dog was gone. He had been a stray before, perhaps he went on the road in search of low-growing peaches. Maybe Grandmother had him put down. If it came down to a dog or her â€˜maters, fear for the dog.
She TOLD me she had found a home for him â€œin town.â€ Meaning Florence. You always hear about the dog of bad habits who gets sent â€œto live on a farm,â€ and they of course mean the vet has put him to sleep. But I like to think that for this good dog, it was really true. Maybe my Grandmother has a secret soft place in her that I never saw.
I like to think of this wary road dog somewhere in a town apartment. It would have been a small place that smelled like apple potpourri and had cabbage rose print on the sofa. There would have been an Old Dear with a soft bun of white hair, doting on him. Maybe he lived his whole long life out in a small warm place, getting fat on canned food, hot house grapes, and Bing cherries.
If he didn't. And I think he didn't. I don't want to know.
HI! I am become a hermit. I am quitting everything I can quit, backing out of everything I can back out of, dodging the phone calls of old friends and refusing to make new friends. Me and my laptop, we will be under the bed for the next three months should you need us.
Last night I went to eat humus and talk writing with Karen and Anna, and they SEPARATELY, one on either side, said almost the exact same thing at the exact same time about my work in progress. (Remember THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING which we are fondly calling TGWSS? Or, to be phonetic, Togwiss?). Anyway---It was like a stereophonic message from the Lord, and A HUGE DANGLING MASS of CRAP that happens in the middle and that made NO sense realigned itself and fell into place in my brain. WOULD THAT it would ALSO spontaneously fall into place in my MANUSCRIPT. ALAS, the paper part must be done manually.
I have been up since four, ripping out great useless hunks of text like it was gelid, floppy meat and replacing it with bones and muscle, some veins and blood and other working bits. Maybe later today I will give Togwiss its first internal organ; Maybe start with something relatively simple. Maybe plop a kidney down in the middle and see how it attaches itself and what it decides to do. Maybe if I extend this surgery metaphor a LEETLE bit farther, it will get so gross I actually throw up in my mouth.
I love revisions.
From INSIDE this process, I am going to be having a high old time. From OUTSIDE... it is going be pretty much a 3 month long a view of a person squatting in front of screen, cackling to themselves. SO. SINCE I HAVE NO LIFE OF MY OWN DISCUSS starting now and up until November at the earliest, let's talk about reality television.
I am not a fan. Hate survivor. Hate Big Brother. Hate Bachelors and Bachelorettes with equal vim. Hate Elimidaters, Moles, Real Worlders and Road Trippers.... I think these kinds of shows bring out the worst in the people on them, and I get such HUGE sympathetic embarrassment as folks make COMPLETE asses of themselves and have only their worst moments edited together so they become a character that works for the show. I always think that SOMEDAY the former participants will attain spiritual enlightenment and when that day comes, they will hardly be able to LIVE with the shame of their immortalized hideous behavior being eternally available on Netflix.
It's that same sympathetic embarrassment that caused me to be a Lamaze Class drop out. When I was pregnant with Sam, we had a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE Lamaze Teacher. She wore no base or powder or lipstick or blush or mascara, NONE, but then, inexplicably, she painted her eyelids with iridescent powders to look like tropical fish. She'd stripe her eyes in turquoise and gold and purple from the lash line up to her eyebrows, and fan the colors out WAY to the side, far beyond the eyelid...Make-up like that should be listed along with hallucinations and cannibalism as a clear sign of mental illness.
At EVERY SINGLE STINKING LAMAZE CLASS! Without Fail! She would show us a birth film. So we could, you know, see some birth.
I hated it. I REALLY don't like to see birth. If you've been reading this blog a while, you know I have odd notions about biological functions and manners and what's proper. I had this horrid feeling that the ladies that agreed to have their births filmed had no idea that they would be rocking around stark naked and moaning like animals and spurting blood and other moist horrors and calling out, "I HATE YOU, YOU _$^^@@&(#)$#^*$$%!*!!" to their husbands when they agreed to let the camera crew in.
Watching the films, I imagined that right before the class, the featured birth mother had CALLED up the Tropical Fish Eyed Lamaze Lady and said, "Please don't show any more people that video. I feel, in retrospect, that I behaved with...impropriety. And I don't want people other than my husband and my doctor and the 45 nurses and interns that were in the room to see me in that primal and extremely private state."
Then the Tropical Fish Eye Lamaze Lady would say, "WELL YOU SIGNED A RELEASE, DUMMY, SO SUCK IT UP. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE PART WHERE YOU VOMIT INTO A BASIN AND THEN ASK GOD TO KILL YOU! HA HA HA HA HA!"
I talked to Scott about it, and it was making me so UNHAPPY with sympathetic embarrassment that we decided I should not watch any more of them. BUT! I never knew when the films were coming! She sometimes played the film at the beginning, sometimes at the end, sometimes in the middle. THE ONLY consistent thing about the class was that we WOULD be watching a graphic birth. With screaming. And epesotomies. And sometimes poo.
So I went to her privately and calmly and sweetly and asked her to please begin showing the films at a consistent time, either at the beginning or at the end, so I could either come late or come early and NOT see them. I explained my reasoning and my reactions to her just as I have explained it to you, except I left out the part about her make-up causing her to look like an escaped mental patient. She was VERY displeased and was NOT open to me leaving and I started to get a little bit ticked and she got shirty and belligerent and I got defensive and retreated, as I generally do, into humor, and she would NOT hear what I was trying to say.
Her: But you are going to GIVE birth in five months. How can you GIVE birth if you can't even WATCH it?
Me: When the contractions start, I think I'll give birth whether I've watched a bunch of poor women I do do not know cry and scream and bleed and heave or not.
Her: But YOU will be doing it. You NEED to see it.
Me: Okay, but I won't have this "straight up between the legs" sort of ANGLE. Because my head is at the top, see. And I feel very embarrassed watching total strangers from that angle. It seems a little...personal.
Her: But THAT IS HOW WOMEN GIVE BIRTH.
Me: Right....well, I have a pretty good handle on what comes out of where. Can't I please just learn breathing and not watch the films? Think of it like sex. I'm pregnant, so you can guess I don't have any qualms about HAVING some myself, but trust me when I tell you, I have NO desire to watch OTHER people have some. Unless the other people are Johnny Depp and Someone Pretty, and the LIGHTING is good and the director is careful about angles, you know?
She didn't think that was funny. But eventually she agreed to start showing the films at the end of class, and Scott and I would quietly slip out early.
Except that was not how it happened. THAT VERY NIGHT! At the end of the class, she ANNOUNCED in patronizing and mournful tone, "JOSHILYN AND SCOTT ARE LEAVING NOW. We are going to watch our BIRTH FILM, and JOSHILYN is having PROBLEMS with witnessing this completely natural and beautiful act. SO, we will let JOSHILYN leave, and we will all hope she will soon EVOLVE to a place where she accepts the process."
Scott and I got up, took our pillows and left, me fervently hoping that she would soon evolve to a place where her leg was broken in the wilderness and wolves ate her.
We never went back.
Reality shows give me that SAME vibe. I can't bear to WATCH the naked pain and poor ethical choices of strangers, because even the most shameless among them, I suspect, will someday realize how BADLY they have behaved, and feel great gouts and spurting of FUTURE shame. I'm an optimist.
And I say all that to say, for some reason, that makes no sense, I LOVELOVELOVELOVE PROJECT RUNWAY! Project Runway is the best thing that has ever happened on television. I LOVE HEIDI! I LOVE TIM GUNN! The day Vincent gets Auf'ed I am throwing a party, revisions or no revisions. COME SOON! OH LOVELY DAY WHEN VINCENT IS FORCIBLY REMOVED! I ADORE for Uli and Laura and my very most especial favorite THAT BIZARRE GUY WITH THE BEARD, the one who says he is a sea otter bereft of oceans.
If you aren't watching this show, clear your schedule and start. This is the BEST. SEASON. EVER. of the best show ever made.
That is all.
Thank you for the comments. It's weird -- most of my blog entries are just whatever is wandering through my scattered brain at the moment, but sometimes the stuff I call "my real writing" escapes and sneaks in here, and that happened with the last entry. It felt odd to have something that felt close to me the way my fiction does so IMMEDIATELY out there. Thanks for saying reassuring things and for having insights and for responding when I stuck myself out there in a way I generally do not. Now I am all toe-scrubby and shy. SO! LOOK OVER THERE! SOMETHING SHINY!
This is me in the box where I crouched like a feral rodent for four days straight, reading the audio book version of BETWEEN, GEORGIA. I look drunk and possibly insane in this shot, so let us kindly assume I am reading one of Ona Crabtree's lines. Did you know I stole the name ONA from my teeny tiny poodle-headed gramma? She died while I was writing Between, and in a crazy memorium, I named this vicious pit-bull of an alchoholic character after her.
My gramma liked VERY much to be the center of attention---I think she would have been charmed and amused to have her name in the book, even pasted on an evil whack-job like the Crabtree Matriarch. Mercifully, Ona Jackson and the character of Ona Crabtree have very little in common. Ona Jackson was tiny and dark and and a more-flies-with-honey-than-vinegar sort. Ona Crabtree believes you get more flies with a shotgun. Also, my grandmother was a strict teetotaller.
Now here I am looking moonfaced and lobotomized with BOB, the producer/director of the audiobook. He's cool, and I include the pic because HE looks nice in it. Bob had never had a Muffeletta!!!! I was like, SWEET MERCIFUL LORD what do they FEED you out there in Los Angeles?. I think it must be pretty much wall to wall Sushi with Tofutti Dreamsicles for dessert. If YOU have never had a Muffuletta, please, rectify that as soon as ever you can manage it.
NOW here is something cool...as you may recall, my brother makes his living as a sculptor. We're very close, and I have always wanted to find a project we could do together. In fact, a long long time ago, LONGLONG, I think back when Sam was VERY new, in fact, my agent shopped a children's book series I was working on with co-author Lily James and my brother as the illustrator. It was, please excuse me, an awesome project. Mr Bungaloo and the Soup Mines. Mr. Bungaloo and the Well Built City of Sand and Cheese. It employed that sort of STIFF VICTORIAN prose that was completely out and no one liked back then, but that now the glorious Lemony Snicket, may he live forever has practically reinvented and certainly revitalized, but it was for the picture book crowd.
My brother did AMAZING sample drawings, but they were very PEN AND INKY. In some ways they reminded me of John Tenniel's original illustrations for Alice and Wonderland
Alas, this was more than ten years ago. The two sample color plates weer stored on an old comp of his that DIED A HORRID death, but he had the paper copies of the original pen and ink prelim sketches and I had him scan them and send them to me.
The project didn't fly...Here's the reasons I think it was a no go:
1) It's harder to sell a writer/illustrator package than just a writer. Houses like to use their own illustrators.
2) That freakin RAINBOW FISH phenom was still happening. First of all---I hate that fish. I hate the whole idea. I mean, I guess you can read it as a book about sharing and sharing is good. Sharing is important. Whatever. BUT. This isn't about OBJECTS -- this is the FISH HIMSELF. Here we have a fish who is different and special, and so everyone hates him, and the solution is dumb himself down? To Conform? This poor fish has to tear CHUNKS of his OWN FLESH off and let everyone be just like him? CREEEEEEEEPY. Shades of Vonnegut. BUT! It was very en vogue, so the writing was off.
Mr. Bungaloo is kindly and virtuous and upright and into having a WORK ETHIC and sticking to his own moral center. NOT a conformist. He has a horrid little sociopathic dog named HORACE as a foil. Horace is Pure Id, the incarnation of willful fulfillment of one's immediate desires. Mr. Bungaloo loves him even though Horace is often Very Very Naughty Indeed. It was not a very I'm okay, you're okay touchy feely we're alike Rainbow Fish sort of book, and stiff victorian writing was exactly what the market hated that day. Look, here is Mr. Bungaloo and Horace. POOR HORACE, his awful naughtiness got him into trouble -- he eventually had to be decanted in the dreadful machinery of the Soup Mines where Mr. Bungloo works. You should have seen this after Bobby did all the colors and shading ---amazing. The sketch can give you an idea though.
3) The illustrations missed the market, too. Everything picture book was all about big blowsy watercolors and torn paper collages. Bobby did the exact opposite with his skritchy detailed pen and inks. LOOKIT! I alos still have the prelim "what does Horace LOOK LIKE" sketch. I remember watching Bobby draw several Horaces while I sat on the sofa and said "Make him Grumpier! Make him SQUANCHIER! OH YES! THAT IS HIM! THAT IS HORACE! LOOK LOOK I LOVE HIS SPRONCY EYEBROWS I NEVER THOUGH HE WOULD HAVE BIG MUSTACHES BUT OF COURSE HE MUST! HE IS PERFECT!"
Look at his FEET. I LOVE the feet.
I told those stories to Sam back in the day, and Maisy is four now. I should drag them back out for bedtime if i can find them. We wrote them 4 computers ago, at least.
ANYWAY, that was a HUGE digression, but I had the drawings and I think my brother is cool. So I WILLFULLY digressed. And there was a point, which is often not the case with my digressions, so let's celebrate our moments as we find them. AND THE POINT, Oh My Best Beloveds, the point is this:
I FINALLY got to work with my brother on a project, and it was secret, and it was related to BETWEEN!!
He did something for me---something COOL, and you can win a piece of it, as soon as I think of a good contest, which I will do LATE|R TODAY I hope and maybe even post tomorrow. This was that secret thing I have mentioned several times....YOU! WILL! LIKE! IT!
Any contest suggestions? I guess I can always do a bland old hat drawing, but if you have a BETTER idea I am SO game to hear it.
I have decided....to live. I admit I was fading. Then someone mailed me a newspaper article about gods, and it was GREAT article, except I realized I had accidentally indicated to the BOTH a reporter and a ROOM FULL OF 135 people who showed up to hear me talk that, HEY! I'm a slut! Yep. THAT got me out of bed. Nothing to pump a great big old SHOT of adrenaline right through old pink blood-pumper like realizing you told 135 of your dearest just-met friends that you are a trollop....
Oh dear. And sluts everywhere are falling out of their chairs laughing that I should dare to aspire to walk in their spike-heel thigh booted footsteps.
There's this story I tell about how I came to write Between, Georgia, and it came up during the post-chat Q and A, how I get my ideas. I realized that if I leave out this one little KEY PIECE of information, tthen the whole thing is VERY easily misinterperted, SO easily misinterpreted that I might as well write SLUT BAG on my Hi My Name Is...sticky tag.
The front of the story goes like this. I will indicate the KEY piece of information I left out at the appropriate time...
I lived in Athens as a very young woman---maybe 19. I very busy at that time, what with my full drinking and failing out of colleges schedule, and when I was NOT tied up with with that, I had to get all the way to the end of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS in a single tequila fueled run and fill out forms to stop my report cards from being mailed directly to my parents. I also discovered that this extremely full schedule and the irrational mood swings caused by not sleeping for 40 hours at a stretch meant I was a bad dater. Now, granted, I WON SUPER MARIO BROTHERS and accomplished many other similarly vital and great works in my insomniac sprees of busy-hood, but in the process, I broke hearts and had mine broken with mad abandon (important to note here, not in a SLUT BAG manner) and I got tired of being glared at by the heartbroken and glaring at the heart breakers on a campus that claimed to have thousands of millions of students, 99.99999999% of which I had NOT DATED, and yet, everywhere I went I found that fate would insta-cast me either as the glare-er or glare-ee, or in some schizophrenic situations...BOTH.
ATHENS. IS. SMALL.
I decided not to DATE anyone from Athens. So, I started dating exclusively in ATLANTA and would drive over there to date, and HERE IS THE IMPORTANT KEY PIECE I DID NOT SAY: I had a good friend over there, and went I went to Atlanta to go out and meet the potentially date-able, I would STAY AT HER APARTMENT. See what a difference that makes? I wasn't driving over to Atlanta and assuming I could, you know, find a place a sleep. I was going out with friends and meeting their friends and etc etc exactly like every other dating 19 year old NON-SLUTS, but one town over, in case of heartbreak.
Yeah, so when I said I dated in Atlanta, without CLARIFYING exactly where I was SLEEPING, 135 people and a reporter took that to mean "Hooking, Or maybe just had wild orgies with total strangers I met in bars where even the STOOLS are so thickly coated with venereal diseases that you need to put on a full haz-mat suit just to safely sit and drink a beer." NEAT!
And after I had gone to so much trouble to point out that gods in Alabama (especially Arlene's um....nametag) is NOT autobiographical, too.
Oh well, the crowd clapped for the slut and MANY OF THEM bought my slutty book and the article that came out of it is a VERY complimentary, very POSITIVE about my talk and my book, and it points out that I confessed to being a massive slut in the most cheerful and delicate and NONJUDGMENTAL language, and as long as I NEVER have to introduce anyone who was at that talk to my mother ("OH! You raised the slut! Well, at least she got a lot of good DIRTY RESEARCH out of it, but yish, Lady, I feel for ya!) and can hide the article in the BOTTOM of a SECRET box of memorabilia that my dad will not ever see or read it, I am going to chalk it up as a nice keepsake. Did I mention that I look wildly drunk and lascivious in the CANDID PHOTO? No? Well. I kinda do.
Maybe I better hide that box in, say, GUAM.
The number is down. I wrote the unrelated chunky hunks of the disembodied scramble formerly known as "Chapter Four" into an ACTUAL Chapter Four. It even has plot points! And segues! And a circulatory system! AND A BEAK! This is the part I LIKE, taking some half formed mucalage and turning it into WRITING. I was very pleased with myself all weekend, AND we painted the trim in the basement. I want several gold stars. I also got into a discussion on an e-mail list I belong to about reproductive choices (NO NOT THAT DISCUSSION, A different one...)
You know, after I had Sam I really felt I was done because as much as I adored him, he ate up 93% of my life. I could live and work just fine in the seven percent left to me. But then when I thought about another baby, that would be ANOTHER 93% of my life, leaving me with Negative 86 % of a life, and I thought my sanity deficit would rival the Federal Government's if I were trying to live and work in Negative 86% of my life.
By the time Sam was five, I felt I had it as together as I ever have it, and we made ourselves a Maisy with Malice of Forethought. BUT, I have to say, for the four+ years I did not want any more children I was driven INSANE by The "when-are-you-having-the-next-one" People, who then looked at me like I was a BUG, an INSANE BUG, a BUG who had clearly gone OFF HER MEDS if I said I did not think I WAS going to have any more kids. And of course, when I then DID decide to have another one, all the SAME people who had driven me crazy to have one EITHER puffed up with smugness and had to get in my PREGNANT FACE and say "Oh, well, we KNEW you did not mean it" or worse, they would say, "Well, if you were going to have another why did you wait so long, goodness you have to start all over and they WON'T play together."
WORST were the ones who BOTH smugged to me that they had TOLD ME SO and ALSO fussed at me for spacing them five years apart. YISH! And really -- you should not bait the pregnant. They are lucky I didn't leap at them and chew their throats open. I am a VERY grumpy pregnant person. I got VERY fed up with and one time when a couple with three kids brought it up again, AGAIN, I launched into a HUGE and very descriptive riff about what my OBGYN had said my CERVIX looked like at our last appointment, and when they got flustered and embarrassed said, "Oh. I thought you WANTED to discuss my personal business...." <---lie. I never did that. But it was a HUGE fantasy of mine.
I also loathe it when people ask you, when you are pregnant, what you are naming the baby, and then wrinkle up their noses like they just smelled poo and say, "Really? No but....REALLY?"
I remember when I was about 3 thousand months pregnant with Sam, we had to go for another ultra sound because he was late and big. And I was in the room with another hugely pregnant women, a pretty little blonde who was about 75% belly, and she was also having a boy, as our side-by-side monitors clearly showed, and she asked me what I was naming my baby. I said, "OH, we aren't positive. Maybe Samuel, maybe Harold or Maxwell, we have to see who he is when he gets out....what are you naming yours."
And she said, "Simian."
And I said, "I love Old Testament names---are you guys spelling it like S I M I O N?" (Which means, by the way, "He Who Hears")
And she said, "We are spelling it S I M I A N." (Which means, by the way, "monkey.")
And if I could restrain myself from saying HI YOU DO REALIZE YOU ARE NAMING YOUR CHILD MONKEY???? (and I did!!! I DID!!!) you would think that the three hundred people who wrinkled up their noses at me and said, "Maisy Jane? Two names like that sounds Rednecky." Or "Maisy? Isn't that a CARTOON MOUSE?" or "You mean, MACEY, right? Not MAISY. MACEY. Because, you know, MACEY is a nice, normal name. Very popular!" would have been able to control themselves a little better. Alas. They were not.
I better shut up now. I was PRODUCTIVE all weekend, but this blog entry is PROOF that productivity makes me GRUMPY. Sane, but GRUMPY. Or GROMPY as Maisy Jane (who was, BY THE WAY, named after a character in a Henry James novel, NOT A MOUSE) would say. Perhaps I can use this as an evidence that I must henceforth lie on the sofa and eat cheese popcorn and read Lee Child novels all day....
So. Kimmi stories... (You remember my OLD internet alter-ego, Kimmi, right?) Kimmi found a BBS called DARKEST POETRY!
Oh! My! Goodness! Their web address was actually: www. Yes, we take ourselves waywayway too seriously around here. You may THINK you take yourself too seriously? But you are a RANK amateur. WE are going to the Olympics for it, k? .com
Basically, BBS surfers would come and post LONG poetry about how their busty deamon lovers would pull their broken hearts from their weep-wracked bodies and bite into the still beating organs as if they were delicious fruits EXCEPT that would have been a SIMILE, so, no, NOT like fruits, just, like hearts. Because there was NO FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE on dark-poetry. Just, you know, despair and hearts and brokenness and blood and dark deamon lovers and woe and angst. And torture. And outfits.
So, Kimmi wrote a poem and posted it. I still have a copy of this poem, and I am going to share the gift of her poetry with you here today. Brace yerself, Bridget.
I like Goats.
Goats are nice.
They eat Grass.
Sometimes, they eat tin cans.
It doesn’t upset their stomachs.
But if I ate a tin can,
It would upset my stomach!
Then I sat back and waited to be KILLED by the inevitable soulless howling fanged critics.
Here is the weird thing. IT DID NOT HAPPEN. All these terrible Terrible TERRIBLE poets turned out to be dear, sugar-hearted RABBITS with gentle paws. They must have gathered together and discussed how to handle Kimmi. Had they been capable of committing simile, they might have said, “Let’s pat her on the head as if she were Cindy Loo Who and we were a soul-sucking Undead Grinch-slash-incubus dressed in a really sexy black leather outfit. And a CAPE! With BLOOD ON IT! Oh wait, we are digressing, but, anyway, let’s get her a drink of perfectly innocuous unpoisoned lime Kool-Aid in a NICE PAPER CUP, no chalices or god-forbid human skulls, because she has wandered in here all INNOCENT and DUMB AS ROCKS and placed her poetry at our feet, and, like, it’s POETRY, man. It’s her inner core. So we have to be … KIND."
Do I need to tell you I felt about THREE INCHES TALL? When you go trolling for buttheads and come up with DUMPLINGS… oh MAN did I feel bad. I am sure all those dark poets will be one of the five people I meet in heaven etc etc, and indeed, I have taken some VERY valuable lessons from the incident that are MOSTLY STILL TRUE TODAY!
1) Sometimes there is nothing to be done but say gracious and sincere thank-yous for the mercy of strangers and less-than-sincere but KIND interest in your poetry, and creep away feeling ashamed of yourself as you gently close the door on the way out and never try to mess with that group again.
2) On the other hand? Guys who write poetry like that will almost ALWAYS be kind to a girl with a C-cup name.
3) THEREFORE! I needed a better venue and a less CUTE sounding alter-ego if I wanted to REALL Y troll up some buttheads.
Thus was born THE MIGHTY PRONG. Ill tell you about him next time…
By the way, I have been VERY GREAT this weekend. A nice, low mental illness number and relatively calm good cheer abounded. This is probably do to the healthy dose of living opium I had the good sense to marry. He HEADLOCKED ME on Friday and marched me to the phone and made me call my editor BEFORE she could have reasonably gotten the book placed in her hands.
Me: I JUST NEED TO KNOW SOMETHING. I JUST NEED TO KNOW.
Her: I am not reading the book this weekend, and if I do not have time to read it next week I will call you and assure you I am STILL not reading it.
Me: HOW DIDYOU KNOW THAT WAS THE SOMETHING?
Her: I did not become an editor yesterday.
Me: (Babbles incoherently and with almost no segue about racial profiling in the South. I have no clear memory of my exact speech but I MAY have used the word “Gerrymander.” Incorrectly.) *
Her: (backing slowly away from the phone) Okay! That’s, um fascinating! And apropos of, um, well… Nothing! Nice talking to you and all, but I need to go!
Me: YOU MEAN YOU NEED TO “GO, AND NOT READ THE BOOK.”
Her: That’s exactly what I mean. I need to go and NOT read it. Pinky swear.
Which strikes me as SUPREMELY ironic. I think of all the years I spent trying to get NYC editors to read my work, and yet NOW I am having a lovely weekend EXACTLY BECAUSE I know for a fact that one is NOT reading my work—it’s an anomaly. It’s crazy. And truthfully, yes, okay, I want her to read the book. I am excited to have her read the book. Just not right NOW…. I was SO enjoying the preening.
* This is a reminder to me to after Thanksgiving to tell you about GERRYMANDER the way we use it in this house, and also how we say COLANDER, and why I can’t stop saying “VERY GREAT.” This is all the same story. SERIOUSLY, remind me. I will forget as I sink into a food-coma over Thanksgiving.
Ah! The fecund virtual world of the 1990’s! BBS-es were hothothot, chat rooms were proliferating like rabbitses, the phrase “A/S/L???” was being invented and NO ONE TOLD THE TRUTH when they answered it. A fascinating time, and one that I chose to spend
1) Reading (things like) Artuad’s The Theater and Its Double,
2) Taking Myself Way Too Seriously
On a good day I could manage all three simultaneously.
Long about 2 am, when options one and two had become burdensome, Kimmi would wend her way to a chatroom. Here is a (heavily edited down to three people for the sake of clarity) ACTUAL LOG of KIMMI INFESTED CHAT I that I have apparently SAVED TO MY HARDDRIVE and MOVED from computer to computer in a pile of other files. I have moved this file through FOUR COMPUTERS NOW.
Kimmi: Is this a room to talk about Cananda?
BigRocket90: Want to go to Private?
Kimmi: Oh yes! I do! Is Private in Cananda?
Kimmi: I am not from Cananda though but I want to go to Cananda very bad it is my dream to go to Cananda I am saving for it but it is very hard to save enough the ticket will be thousands of dollars because I am all the way in Illinois.
JoeBlow: You could just drive.
Kimmi: No because the ocean.
JoeBlow: Do you mean…the lake?
BigRocket90: Want to go to private chat?
Kimmi: Yes I do! Do they speak French in Private Chat? Because the Chat part is French for cat! And last time I was here chatting about Cananda a Canandian man said they speak French in Canandia but I thought they spoke English with a funny accent like Crocodile Dundee who was really cute I thought but no because this Canandian man last time said they speak French in some Cananda places but I don’t speak French except for cat I can say in French. It’s “chat.”
JoeBloe: Hey. Moron. It’s spelled “Canada.”
Kimmi: I want to go to Cananda and see the dingos.
And so on. Usually DD would be in the same chatroom with one of her characters. Whoever could get the ENTIRE ROOM to put their character on IGNORE first, won.
BY THE WAY, are you wondering why I am blathering on and on about INSIGNIFICANT VIRTUAL events that happened more than ten years ago? And am threatening to continue to do so ALL THIS WEEK? I cannot TELL you why. But I can tell why it is NOT:
It is NOT because my agent has my new MS. It is NOT because he is POSSIBLY READING IT RIGHT THIS SECOND! It is not because I am having multiple nervous breakdowns ever since the package containing my new book was accepted by my agent at exactly 5:46 PM on Monday which I DO NOT know because I CERTAINLY NEVER checked the UPS tracking system 500 times a day until it was placed in his hands.
Want a more recent conversation? I have had this one about 900 times since yesterday.
Me: What if he hates it?
Scott: He won’t hate it.
Me: Do you think he is reading it right now?
Me: So he finished already and he hates it and he is trying to think of a way to tell me gently that the first novel was a fluke and I should go get a different job.
Scott: He has had it less than 24 hours.
Me: I could become a pet embalmer.
Scott: No, you couldn’t.
Me: I bet it would be depressing. All those sad, dead cats! Lying so still! And glassy-eyed! Surrounded by weeping children! I would fall into black sorrow and get addicted to Atavan.
Scott: Then it is a good thing you don’t have to be a pet embalmer.
Me: I bet it would make my hair smell like formaldehyde ALL THE TIME, no matter how many times I washed it.
Scott: Would you like some Atavan right now?
Me: I bet he hates it. I bet he already read it and he hates it and that’s why he did not call. Who wouldn’t hate it?
Scott: ANYONE WHO HAS READ IT.
Me: That’s like a textbook answer. I mean, PERFECT. How come you just ACED that without BLINKING and yet you can’t EVER seem to win, “Do these pants make my butt look big?”
Scott: There is no way to win that one.
Hey! LOOK! OVER THERE! SOMETHING SHINY!
Tomorrow I will write about KIMMI HEARTS GOATS and then see if I can dry swallow the new SUPER-SIZED Tic-Tacs! IT SHOULD BE A REALLY FUN DAY. Especially if you are Scott!
Today we are getting in the way back machine with that DOG? Remember that cartoon dog with the glasses? If not? You are probably too young to read this entry. *grin*
A long, long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was very irresponsible and had a gross-average metal illness number of MUCH-HIGHER-THAN-NOW, some fool put a stamp on a piece of paper, thereby allocating for my use a giant pile of theoretical money and throwing wide the doors of academia.
I never SAW the vast bulk of this money, you understand, but mysteriously my tuition and housing was paid and the dining hall waved me past the register when I appeared with a tray full of Random Casserole. I did see some of it--- on the first of every month, exactly enough cash to keep up with my monthly tequila intake appeared in my checking account.
I had two close friends in grad school. A wilder-than-me friend and a designated driver friend. DIGRESSION: If any of the parents of the three of us are reading this? Assume YOUR kid was the designated driver. She probably was. Unless you are MY parents, in which case, ignore that funny MONTHLY TEQUILA NEEDS joke (Ha! Ha!) and assume *I* was the designated driver.
Late in the night, after the clubs closed (NOT THAT WE WENT TO CLUBS, OH THEORETICAL READING PARENTS, JUST AT AROUND THAT TIME,YOU UNDERSTAND), Designated Driver and I would crouch in front of her computer monitor surfing for these new fangled amazing things called CHAT ROOMS. We were like cavemen who had just discovered FIRE. Oooooh! Ahhhh! I’d be drinking Liquid Yorkies (I know it sounds like a Small Dog Frappe, but really it is Peppermint Schnapps in chocolate milk, and no, I am not kidding. Drank that. Called it that.)
Remember, this was WELL BEFORE the dawn of time, and as we discovered this new and untamed virtual world, we came to an inescapable conclusion: We were THE ONLY REAL GIRLS ON THE INTERNET.
90% of everyone else fell into one of two categories:
A) Guys trying to find REAL GIRLS who were willing to go into private chat rooms with them
B) OTHER guys pretending to be girls who were willing to go into private chat rooms with Type A guys.
That was it. Guys on the make. Guys pretending to be girls on the make. And us. Real, live, actual girls, 50% of whom were blasted out of their MINDS, and 100% of whom had ZERO interest in going into a private chat.
Since walking into a chat room with a name that even SUGGESTED female-ness meant being instantly swarmed by Guy Type A and snipped at and attacked by Guy Type B, and since I was generally WAY WAY less than sober, (HA! HA!) we started creating FAKE PEOPLE to go into internet chat rooms, and thus the games began. DD and I were unmarried and childless at that time, and therefore more nocturnal than your average Opossum. We’d be in chat rooms from 2 to 5, easily.
My favorite creation for a LONG time was probably KIMMI. I Loved being KIMMI. KIMMI’s modus operandi was to have an obviously female name ---and a C cup sounding name at that--- and to be WAY TOO STUPID to understand or respond coherently to even the MOST BLATANT INVITATION into a private chat.
Tune in tomorrow for the first installment of VICIOUS CRUELTY WEEK
aka Tales From the KIMMI Files.
My brother read the blog and called me.
Bobby: So someone really thought she could outgeek my sister?
Me: I know. Sad, huh.
Him: If someone seriously wants to take you on, all I can say is…she better speak Klingon.
See? He knows. And why shouldn’t he? After all, it is ALL HIS FAULT.
I was a perfectly NORMAL baby and toddler and little kid. I was normal all the way to seven, when my favorite book in all of life was CHARLOTTE’S WEB. I read it and read it and read it, meanwhile my brother, a middle schooler, was deep into swords and sorcery and all manner of sci-fi. All was well, until he made it his business to turn me to the dark side.
One day, when I went to get Charlotte’s Web off the shelf, he leapt in front of me, blocking my access to the bookshelf.
Bobby: thrusting a copy of Conan the Cimmarian at me.* READ THIS INSTEAD!
Me: *reaching for book* That looks stupid. I want to read Charlotte’s Web.
Bobby: *blocking me* Charlotte’s Web is stupid. This has swords! And magic! And Adventure! And bloody death!
Me: *reaching* I want to read CHARLOTTE!
Bobby: *blocking* I glued all the pages of Charlotte’s Web together.
Me: *snatches Conan book and stomps off cursing all things brotherly*
Of course that was a BIG LIE. He had NOT glued all the pages together, but what did I know? I was seven. And two Conan stories later, I was ALSO hooked. And via Conan he introduced me to a world of boy-centric pulp fiction I had NO BUSINESS reading while my brain was still so unformed:
Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan and Pelucidar and Barsoom, and I ate them like candy and never once realized they were ALL THE SAME BOOK.)
Robert Heinlein (EARLY Heinlien, pre Stranger in a Strange Land. After Stranger he kinda slipped off the deep end and began writing inter-galactic porn.)
H.P Lovecraft (who kept me up all night cringing because Something Evil was OBVIOUSLY spawning in the crypt beneath my bed.)
I remember stumbling through the kitchen, 8 years old, with my nose poked deep into Cormac Mac Art. My mother saw the boobalicious chainmail bikini chick cover art and blanched and said to my brother, “Should your little sister be reading that?” And Bobby said, “MOM! IT’S ROBERT E. HOWARD! It’s, like, CLASSIC LITERATURE.” And so my mom let me. And that opened the door to Arthur C. Clark, Vonda N. MacIntyre, Michael Moorcock, Star Trek, and a pervasive and pernicious interest in Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology that haunts me TO THIS DAY.
Reading is dangerous. Burn ‘em all, I say.
My brother, meanwhile, grew up to make his living in the arts as well. He’s a sculptor, and and a dern good one. He sculpts the greens for miniatures and toys. Companies buy his sculptures and cast molds from them and make little guys that are sold in blister packs all over the country, and Bobby was one of the first miniature artists to have his work sold under his name. Because he’s just. that. good.
If you are a TRUE GEEK of the Gaming variety, let me go ahead and answer the question that is burning like Smaug's belly in your head. Yeah, he’s THAT Bobby Jackson. Pretty cool, huh? That’s like, 200 geek-cred points I get, right there, just for being related. Beats speaking Klingon, any old day.
A certain friend of mine (who shall remain mercifully nameless) is trying to outgeek me. What can I do but put on a pleated Kirsten Dunst-esque flippy skirt and try to make my hair be bouncy as I snarl, BRING IT ON.
Between you and me? She hasn't a prayer.
This whole thing got started because she found out my DEEP DARK LEET SECRET. Which is this. *cough* My husband and I have been known to enjoy an online game or two. So. She tried to counter my fondness for Ultima and Neverwinter Nights with a judcious application of MAGIC THE GATHERING ONLINE geek-goddess smackdown.
Which was, I must admit, a helluvva good opener.
At that point, I tried to give her a way out. I told her not to EVEN start with me, because my husband and I had geek cards as yet undreamed of, as yet unplayed. WHOLE CELLARS FULL. But alas, she would not listen. And lo, she did indeed start with me. She brought forth a pretty tame opener, a LORD OF THE RINGS movie addiction. Which, HELLO, with Orlando Bloom playing Legolas, show me one red blooded American girl who DOESN'T secretly like elves at this point? You can't.
In response to this, allow me to lay before you a few -- JUST A FEW, mind you -- of the astonishing array of Geek Cred Cards I keep in my hip-pocket.
You want Lord of the Rings? I will GIVE you Lord of the Rings. I am currently reading the ENTIRE SERIES out loud to my son. He enjoys it, sure, but I AM SECRETLY NOT READING IT BECAUSE HE ENJOYS IT. He also, after all, enjoys Magic Treehouse. *shudder* I am reading it out loud because *I* enjoy it. In fact this is maybe the 5th time I have made my way through the books, starting with The Hobbit and going all the way through to Return of the King.
I have ALSO read EVERY CONAN BOOK EVER WRITTEN, I have been dear friends with Fafhrd AND the Grey Mouser AND the Stainless Steel Rat. I've been to GEN CON four times, though not, I hasten to insert, in costume. I do have my limits.
I STILL have a POST CARD from Vonda N McIntyre that she wrote to me over TWENTY YEARS AGO in response to my RABID RAVING FAN LETTER about how Dream Snake CHANGED MY LIFE. AND AND AND!! My first crush EVER was on SPOCK, my second was on LURCH, my THIRD was on (no SERIOUSLY, this is TRUE) THE CONSTELLATION ORION. To top it off? AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I had actual teen love fanatasies about kissing Elric of Melnibone on his PALE! CRUEL! MOUTH!
Lord of the Rings? PAH! Come back when you can say you've read....AND ENJOYED...The Silmarillian.
And who knows. Maybe she has a counter for all this. MAYBE. I am doubtful. I mean, how do you outgeek a crush on a GROUPING OF STARS? But maybe she does. If so, I will shamelessly play my BROTHER card, because my BROTHER is the tru-geek equivalent of a ROCK STAR. Just being RELATED to him gives me like a +7 bonus to any geek defense roll I have to make. PS if you understood that last sentence? You're a geek too. *grin*
I'll tell you about my brother tomorrow.
...I am too stinkin’ old to stay up past 11 watching the closest thing to porn on basic cable, then get up at four and whip chapter 15 into a reasonable facsimile of Un-Ubersuck, then strap on six pounds of ankle weights and toggle up and down a Reebok Pro-step for thirty minutes. Long about minute 29, my heart burst and I lay on my face on the carpet DEEPLY REPENTING the decision to eat a Boca-Burger thirty minutes prior.
...The new plan is ALREADY in the crapper (So Klint is happy!) but I AM going to nap through Dora the Explorer. And yes, I CAN sleep while Dora, Boots, et al flimps and gyrates and sings odes to the map. It is a gift.
...I DID NOT ever eat horse vitamins or any sort of veterinary drug, AMY. I ate diatomaceous earth, which, okay, granted, you do feed it to horses as a dietary supplement. But it is not any sort of DRUG. It’s actually – well. I am embarrassed to tell you what it is. I sort of wish I had instead eaten horse drugs because I could have gotten a nice deal for a MEMOIR out of a triumph over veterinary medicine addiction (Weening My Inner Pony, the True Story of a Horse Vitamin Junky’s Survival). But what I ate was essentially….Dirt. With diatoms in it. Lily and I felt it would give us sleek hides and glossy pelts. Which considering 1) we were in our twenties and 2) in grad school, muddy algea was not the worst thing we put into our poor abused bodies. Not by a long shot.
...In spite of the fact that I am INDESCRIBABLY MUSICALLY CHALLENGED I today recognized that a song I had never heard before HAD TO BE a Basement Jaxx song just by HEARING THE BASE LINE. Then my heart burst and I had to stop listening to deeply repent a Boca-Burger. Thank you, I’ll be here all week.
...I AM NOT GOOD AT THE INTERNET. There are some songs I NEED TO OWN and I can’t find them to buy and DL online. This is because I want the weenie eurotrash remixes, not the actual original song. If you know where to find these PLEASE TELL ME.
1) Manhatten Clique’s dance remix of Kelis’ Milkshake.
2) Tim Deluxe’s Radio Edit of Basement Jaxx’s Good Luck (Does anybody speak deluxe in here???)
3) Basement Jaxx with Meshell Ndegeocello doing Right Here’s the Spot (NOT SURE WHO THE REMIXER IS! Which is Shameful!)
ADDENDUM! If YOU want to eat a big heaping spoonful of DIATOMACEOUS EARTH, you do NOT have to go to your local tack and feed shop to find Food Grade DE! It will kill your tape worm AND give you a good idea of what GROUT might taste like!
ADDENDUM 2: I called Lily and told her I had bloggedly outed her as a great big dirt eater and she said: Do you know what I remember? We were choking down our cups of sandy water, and I said something about this maybe not being a great idea, and you said, "OH NO I AM SURE IT IS FINE! A LOT OF PEOPLE EAT DIRT! WHAT ABOUT THOSE WOMEN IN THE ADIRONDACKS OR WHEREVER THAT EAT CLAY. THEY RELENTLESSLY EAT IT! YOU CAN'T STOP THEM! and I kept seeing this woman squatting on a hill just shovelling it in, you know, while her family stood around bawling and saying "Mavis, please, stop eating the clay. For the children, Mavis."
She cracks me up. AND FOR THE RECORD, it was HER idea to eat the stuff in the first place. And I just went along with it because I was already shampooing and conditioning with Mane n’ Tail (Leaves hair silky and manageable! Also repels biter flies!) so WHY NOT.
The bad news: Everythign I own (except this computer) is in a box
The good news: All the boxes are in MY NEW HOUSE.
SO I am being quiet because of moving, but hey, how about a movie review!
Why thanks, you say, Don't mind if I do so Cut me a small piece of movie review and do not stint on the frosting.
OKAY I say because as it happens I saw one. On nights when I am physically and mentally blown, I have to have TV to go to sleep…and last night I was SO blown. And there we were in a new house with NO CABLE YET, so I went out and rented a movie to rock myself to slumber land. WELL, it is a weekend so NO new releases were in… DIGRESSION: THIS IS WHY I HEART NETFLIX but oops with mail forwarding and all, I did not get my netflix today. SO. I rented an OLDY --- A movie called City of Angels, starring Nicholas Cage after he quit shaving his chest hair into the shape of an eagle and Meg Ryan before she had half her butt-fat injected into her lips.
You think you want to see this movie too? Missed it the first time around? Hmm. Okay then. Go take an IQ test. Then have your bowl of Cheerios take it. If you score significantly lower than your bowl of Cheerios, rush right out and buy the special edition DVD. You'll really, really like it. As for the rest of you, RENT SOMETHING ELSE.
If you STILL want to rent it, then quit reading this blog right now because I am about to spoil it, if it is possible to spoil a movie that is made entirely out of Velveeta cheese. (HINT: It is impossible to spoil Velveeta. After the third world war that wipes humanity from the place of the planet, Velveeta will rise up and compete with bees and roaches to become the next sentient life forms. PS I am rooting for bees.)
THE SPOILER: Meg Ryan dies. UGH UGH. She is too stinkin’ cute to die. She shouldn't even attempt it. This is SO HEAVILY FORESHADOWED that you ought to know this ten minutes into the film, but then you think to yourself, "Oh, surely not. Oh, surely they wouldn't telegraph her death so broadly if she was really, really, actually going to DIE. RIGHT??? RIGHT??"
Wrong. She dies. And it isn't even like I hated the movie because she died so tragically and I wept and OH THE HUMANITY. It's an irky stupid death that involves a LOGGING TRUCK. A LOGGING TRUCK? You say. SURELY NOT. But Alas, I sorrow to tell you, it is so.
In my head I kept hearing, "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok, I kill Meg Ryan and I sleep all day." Clunky, terrible plot device. It's actually not a completely bad movie up until Meg Ryan bites it and Nicholas Cage starts spouting IMPOSSIBLY sentimental lines like, "I would rather have picked one booger from her nose and then watched a logging truck smash her than spend eternity with out her." UGH UGH.
THE GOOD PART: the angels are so placid. They stand around and perch on things and move v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. We don't have to watch the tired, old oooooh they walk through walls sort of special effect that has been done to beyond-death ever since Ghost reared it's stupid "Demi-cries-on-cue" head 20 years ago. They simply are where they need to be next with no fanfare or popping around. This could have been 800% more fascinating though, if PEOPLE hadn't been so EQUALLY placid in this movie.
I wish the director had thought to himself, "Hmmm, chaos versus order....Hmmm What about THAT?" Instead it is just placid order versus MORE placid order. Not very exciting. Angels can hear people's thoughts in this film, and if people had been wildly chaotic, unorganized systems that babbled and sang and flip floppied all over themselves and wept and screamed and bubbled and foamed, AND IF MEG RYAN HADN'T SMASHED HERSELF UP UNDER A STUPID LOGGING TRUCK, this could have been a very nice film. Instead, the inside of humanity's collected heads is a nice but sleepy place where people think to themselves. “I think after supper, I shall kill myself, Or make tea, Whatever….” in the same ordered, polite language in which they ask someone to please pass the donuts.
As a final note, as a methodist – and not just ANY methodist, but one who was raised in the wilderness by untamed honey-and-locust eating fundamentalists (HI DAD!) I HATED how angels in the movies get to earth and IMMEDIATELY rush on out and break 3 or 4 commandments. It seems like they would know better, having been angels and all. It seems like EX-ANGELS wouldn’t so NONCHALANT about MORTAL SIN. At any rate, If you do rent this ancient problem-child- And you have been warned - but if you WANT IT and NO ONE CAN STOP YOU, then flip off the tv and go for Brusters Cones right after Meg Ryan says, "Mr. and Mrs. Plate." Up until that point, it's at least bearable.
The second of my three daily dose blogs is KiWords. Can't not read KiWords. Its the first blog I check in the morning, even before Chez Miscarriage. I cant read Chez Miscarriage before my second cuppa. KiWords is softer---it's a love letter to motherhood. A love letter written by a hip chick with a great sense of humor and a Mental Illness Number that is similar to mine. Like todays entry. The purse. Mentally Ill, obviously, but not DANGEROUSLY so.
I bring it up because today she talks about rollerblading, and I was commenting on her blog and my comment kept growing and growing until finally I said FUGGETIT and came over to here to write about rollerblading myself. WHY NOT. All the cool kids are doing it.
I USED TO ROLLERBLADE! I had hot pink and lime green skates and some of those bicycle shorts that are like Canadian Geese in their migratory habits except the geese go inexorably to Canada and the shorts only go to ones buttcrack. But inexorably. So.
I had a lime green helmet that made my skin look like CHEESE! And I had SAFETY PADS! I had all the pads there were. Knee, wrist, I even had ELBOW pads. I have long skinny arms and long skinny legs and with the bulging round knob of pad on each joint I looked like a bug.
I had them all because I am essentially graceless. Kira says theres this one curve she cant take so she CHOOSES to bottom out on the soft grass. Heh. For me, bottoming out was not a choice. I fell over all the time into the soft grass or the soft asphalt or the soft approaching traffic. Whatever was handy. It finally occurred to me that, yes, I WAS going to die if I kept it up. SO now I have a pair of "outdoor skates." They do not go half as fast and HELLO no one but a five year old wears OUTDOOR SKATES. Oh well, at least mine are lace-ups and do not clip onto my shoes. I say this to comfort myself but I KNOW, okay. I might as well tattoo SUPREME DORK on my forehead.
Still---Better dorky than dead. Anyone who thinks bottoming out in the soft grass is a CHOICE is probably
1) not me
2) able to survive rollerblading and
3) a pretty good dancer!
I was cleaning out my old computer files when I came across this -- it's the rough draft of a personal ad I wrote seven years ago...
"Mean heartless lady with no sense of personal responsibility seeks to unload terrible feline pestilence on unsuspecting household. Said pestilence pokes sleeping people with a dreadful prehensile finger of doom if it can see the bottom of the food bowl. It also hits babies and is ugly. And stupid. And hateful. Please come by my house and pretend to be a nice person so I can give you the cat with out waking my dozing concious, and then immediately sell it to a lab that will put horrible burning salve in its eyes so my shampoo can be safe and smell pretty."
I never placed it. Mostly because my husband told me it was not a very good ad because it was so long that it would cost a hundred bucks. Good point, said I. He also pointed out that not many people would line up to have a chance at a "terrible feline pestilence." Another fine point. And lastly, he mentioned that if I asked people to sell the cat to a lab, someone might actually do it.
The ad I eventually placed read somethign like this:
HELP MR. CAT!!! Charming people-loving weirdo with elegant Roman nose doesn't like our new baby. Great with school-age kids. Has shots, is neutered. Needs good home.
It was while I was writing this version that I dimly remembered that once, a long long time ago, I actually liked Mr. Cat, otherwise known as Stewart. I liked him a LOT. I thought he was his own pajamas, if you follow me. Because he WAS actually cute, he did have an elegant Roman nose, and he WAS a big funny weirdo. He slept in entertaining shapes, folding himself into a U belly up, or tucking himself all in and then pressing his face on the floor. He trilled charmingly when people entered the house, as if he was delighted to welcome them all to his humble abode. He sat on the back of the sofa as I read, peering over my shoulder as if he was reading too. When he was sleepy (and this is a cat we are talking about, so read this as "just about any time") I could set a full cup of juice or soda DIRECTLY ON HIS HEAD and he would hold himself remarkably still and act like a patient furry coaster.
So my real problem with Stewart (or St.Wart as my crack smoking ex-vet accidentally named him by leaving out the E) is that he hit babies. Particularly my baby. My friend had two little boys, ages 5 and 7, and Saint Wart worshipped them. He thought (Two Little Boys) + (x) where x was a piece of string or possibly a feather duster was the true mathematical formula for fun. And he may have liked other people's babies, who knows.
The main thing was, he hit mine. And to give credit where credit is due, he never bit the baby, or used his claws, he just hauled off and whanged the baby in the head. And to give more credit where credit is due, the baby usually whanged him in the head first. Never the less, it was righteously unacceptable to me, The Mommy of said whanged baby.
It made me nervous, and it made me worried, and worst of all, it made me VIOLENTLY LOATHE a perfectly darling little cat who was the blossom on the tree of my life until Mr. Baby replaced him. Which, if I cared about the psychological whatevers, is probably WHY Stewart hated the baby in the first place. But I do not care about the psychological whatevers. I cared about not having my baby hit. And since I was absolutely set on keeping the baby, Mr. Cat had to pack up and go.
We had another cat at the time, Walley, who NEVER hit babies. NEVER. If the baby hit Walley he just LEFT THE AREA which he could do, and which the baby could not do. So Walley was allowed to live. And with us. Stewart is gone...he went to live with folks in our neighborhood who had older kids and they ADORED him and he adored them back...He was still with them and happy (and getting obscenely fat) when we moved to Atlanta.
Ah the lunacy of new motherhood. The baby is now a 7 year old Manling who is perfectly capable of defending himself against multiple cats, but at the time I could not see past my hideous new mommy fear of CAT INDUCED BRAIN DAMAGE. I wonder where St. Wart is, and indeed IF St. Wart still is at all. He would be about ten? God Speed Saint Wart, where ever you are....
We're leaving Thursday, not today, but still. You know the song, so. New York. I have never been. I am wild with thrill.
I am going to meet my editor, spend a day in Connecticut with my agent, and then just hang out with my husband. It's our tenth anniversary.
I have to admit -- I am a little freaked with nerves. I feel like it can't possibly go well. heh. Unless you count our rather nice honeymoon in New Orleans, Scott and I have gone on ONE vacation, just the two of us, in ten years.
In December of 1999, I flew out to Vegas to join him for New Years. He had to work a trade show there January 2nd through the 15th. That was the year Y2K was scheduled to bring on the apocalypse, so they sent him on December 27th. In case, you know, PLANES ceased working and the world ended. I MEAN COME ON. If planes had ceased working as society CRUMBLED, what are the chances the TRADE SHOW would have gone ahead as scheduled? So either NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN and they could easily send him out there the 2nd, OR they were basically sending him early so he could be in Vegas in time to squat in the dark while 9 fanged horses brought the death riders through, spreading war and plague. BUT OKAY WHATEVER.
I decided I was NOT spending New Years alone, especially as a Millennium ticked over. I mean, what are the chances we'll be around for the next one of those? SO I threw Sam at my parents and hopped a plane out to join him on the 28th. We had a nice time the day I arrived. Marched up and down the strip, gambled a little, saw a pirate ship battle, and were offered the services of many hookers -- the hookers out there have LEAFLETS, like FLIERS, and little weaselly men in HATS to pass them out.
ANYWAY, day 2 of our big JUST US vacation, I woke up with a fever of 104 and spent the rest of my vacation shivering and puking into an ice bucket. Very Romantical.