Friday, September 30, 2005

Getting down, standing up again

This feels like a tragedy. One that will go on for a long time.

is somewhat heartening, though.

What I wonder is how do people work with this in politics? When you get just beaten hard how do you get up and start over again?

Maybe Tracy (formerly known as PG) will tell me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Honesty is the best policy?

I'm pretty honest. It may be more accurate to call me incisive and unable to keep my mouth shut.

For example in my apartment complex you're only supposed to have 2 of the special Fort Knox type front door keys and if you lose one you have to fill out a bunch of papers and apologize publicly to the entire community and pay a bunch of money. I wanted a couple of extra keys and I was willing to pay and fake apologize and fill out as many papers as they could bring. I was also willing to make up a story about why I needed them - mother, dog walker and cleaning lady (HA!). So I run it by the guy who answers the phone who immediately shunts me up 2 levels to the Mean Guy. Mean Guy tells me no, listens, tells me no and why he has to say no, listens and finally says that if I give 3 pints of blood, fax the photocopied ass cheeks of each person getting a key and pay the money that he'll "give" me the keys. The ass cheeks and the money were easy enough but the blood was an issue (Mad Cow problems, don't ask) so it took me a couple of months to get everything together. I do and I call and ask how he'd like it all presented and he says I can't have the keys. I explain that he told me I could have them given the restrictions and that I've met the restrictions. Silence. Kind of a ton of silence. So I snapped.

"Mean Guy, I know that you told me I could have the keys if I did my impression of Jason & the Golden Fleece because you thought I wouldn't do it so you could get out of giving me the keys but I've done it so can I have the keys now, please?"

Funny thing is, I had to say it twice before he managed to even get breath past his vocal cords again. Bastard.

Lately I've been fond of saying another honest thing that might be best unsaid.

"Construction takes twice as long as they say it will. Every. Time."

Queen Bee, Chili and ChemE are all having major construction projects done in their homes.

From least to largest:

ChemE - redoing master bathroom
Queen Bee - gutting and redoing kitchen
Chili - an addition on her house that will double the square footage of the dwelling

Now for history:

ChemE - Timed her drive to high school. I don't mean, "Oh, it takes me about 10 minutes to get to school." I mean, "It takes me 8 minutes to get to school from the time I put the key in the ignition."

Queen Bee - When I sleep at her house I sleep on the living room sofa. In December the Christmas Tree (artificial to limit mess and fire hazard in one fell swoop) resides at one arm of the couch. On December 26th 2004 at 7:30am I heard a rustling and pried one eye open to see Queen Bee setting down a stack of rubbermaid containers. She said, "Shh, it's OK, go back to sleep." and proceeded to dismantle the Christmas tree, put each decoration in its properly labeled slot and possibly even put away the snowy Christmas Village in the bow window behind the couch. The room was back to basic winter decoration (including the replacement of the stone-topped end table) before 9am. No one else ever woke up.

Chili - Has all the dry goods contain...OK, first of all she has dry goods containers in her kitchen and each of them is labeled. She does a family Christmas photo every year, and it's the same one in the same place so people can see the progress the kids make. When she visits me she packs her own pillow and her own Ovaltine. She balanced my checkbook. 'Nuff said.

These are smart women, organized women, focused and driven women. And I have been making fun of them.

"It's CON! STRUC! TION! It ALWAYS takes longer than it's supposed to. There's SUPPOSED to be a footprint on your counter! What are you bitching about? Didn't you expect this?"

In my defense it's construction, it ALWAYS takes longer than it's supposed to. There are many logical reasons for this but the extension of building time isn't always about logic.

ChemE has actually been lucky in that her foray into construction and the hemmorhaging (sp?) of money (which gives her husband actual hives and shortness of breath) has been justified. When they took out the windows to replace them they found that they were fortunate not to have started demolition by accidentally leaning on the window sill one day. So, they saved the structure of their house. They also found that the medicine cabinet was ordered the wrong size, the vanity was the wrong color and the toilet arrived broken. Like with the bowl in 2 pieces.

Queen Bee has battled high humidity which makes tiling take longer, a long shipping time for cabinets and having to choose countertop twice. The second time it was so late that it meant that most of the project would be finished and she'd still be resting her coffee mug on plywood. On the up side, though, she also discovered that the wall separating her kitchen from the outside world has no insulation in it. Which might explain why it's fairly cold up there in the New England winter.

Chili is currently trapped in some kind of evil construction loop. Mini-project, inspection, next project, inspection, re-do of project, inspection, repeat, repeat, repeat. Her reward? Lots of extra outlets. Someone put cabinetry over outlets! Oh yeah, and she'll have a house that's twice as big!

The thing about construction is that there are a lot of people involved and a lot of teeny tiny steps to take in very specific order to get stuff done. It's a recipe for disaster to have a a lot of moving parts and a lot of people in charge of those parts. There's always going to be a breakdown (or two, or three or, well you get the point) in a system like that. It's not as cut and dried as these ladies would like the world to be.

I love these Type A's. They take care of me 'cause I'm like a type C, maybe D, somewhere along the lines of a K on a bad day. They have all been freaking out over the dust, the mud, the smell, the disorder (Oh, the disorder! They should check out my foyer after the groceries get delivered. Sometimes I just use the produce out of the box and never even put it away. Please don't tell them, it'll keep them awake at night.) I have heard the following:

"They were supposed to put up the drywall today. Why didn't they put it up today? Why?!"

"OK, so we're almost there, tiling today and tomorrow then the sink then the stove then the cabinets, (insert long list of each teeny tiny step and the day it should be done.)" Then repeat this with a re-ordered list every day as things change while increasing volume and hysterical pitch.

"I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!! IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE OVER!!!!!" (Make note that this last was said after just 1.5 weeks of construction. She's even an overachiever in the panic department.

Today, however, I was reminded to cut them some slack.

In the office where I work we use a key to get into a bathroom in the hallway. There is one other company on our floor so if you're really unlucky you'll run into a lady from the other company as you head in. Today was one of those days. The woman is one I tend to meet by accident. She's in her late 60s probably and she's a big gossip and she loves to chit chat while I pee. I hate that. But I still think the fact that she sneaks into the bathroom to call her friend and gossip about her co-workers is cute. There office just went through a big renovation. It's in the touch up stage now.

Today she lets me in and proceeds to talk to me. "Oh, I can't believe it, I got paint on me. Paint! White paint!" At this point I'm scouring her outfit to see a swathe of white on her black pants. "Oh I hope it comes off, what will I do if it doesn't come off?" She points out the paint so I can see it.

It's on her pinky.

Her PINKY people!

If it doesn't come off you take some nail polish remover at home to it and you clean it that way. Or, if you're feeling particularly racy, you could just wait until it wears off. I know it'd be wild and crazy but you might find it refreshing. You could keep a diary of how many people notice the paint on your pinky. A very short diary.

(I know you're dying to know. It came off with soap and water.)

So, ladies, good luck with your projects, I'm sorry that construction always takes longer than they say it will but I promise you're going to be so happy with the result when it's over. Just hang in there.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Good Date

Since I tell you about the bad dates and the semi-dates and the boring dates it only seems fair, in the spirit of full disclosure to tell you about the good ones.

Last night I had a good date.

We had dinner, saw some music, talked a lot. I mean a lot. He really seemed to think I was smart and interesting and worth spending time with.

We got introduced by a couple of great musicians and then we headed to a local pizza joint and he immediately launched into conversation, just made it look so easy, and proceeded to tell me everything I need to know about zoning in Sim City. Which would have been a lot less charming if he wasn't 9.

The musicians are his parents and we ended the night seeing them play. Sound check and waiting around can be boring when you're 9 so I got to meet JA and spend some time with it to reduce boredom. I don't know if it reduced his boredom but it sure as shooting reduced mine.

I was tipped off by his mom that he loves pizza so I ruthlessly played the pie card to kick things off. Knowing me less than 3 minutes he heartily agreed to come with me. Which, if you've been paying attention, is pretty unusual. We wandered out of the club and I realized that I had no idea how to start the conversation. Two doors down, just before I start to panic-babble and after all I've had to offer is, "Hey! There's a pizza place!" he just launches in, asks me if I know Sim City, tells me all about it.

Later on I played the Hot Chocolate and Books card and we went to a cafe in a B&N and hung out for a while. I wheedled him into doing his homework and even running through the "Challenge" words for tomorrow's spelling test. (His teacher gave them these great things called a BEAR Book - Being Equipped and Ready - where they can keep assignments and in-class work and everything they need to be able to do their homework, very impressive.) He was really very easy to convince. We also studied for his math test. Did you know they're teaching geometry in 4th grade these days? I broke out in a cold sweat. Turned out to be with good reason since my 9-year-old companion proceeded to break out the term Venn diagram in a sentence while explaining the difference between concentric other kind of circles where they touch somewhere like in a Venn diagram.

However, my favorite part was in between the general homework and the studying for today's tests. He said, "We should read now." I eagerly pulled out my book and declared we could read for 15 minutes and then study for the tests.

For anyone out there taking notes, I am convinced that if every date had a short interval where we just sat quietly and read our books and maybe occasionally shared the funny passages they would all end better.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's simple

For a year I lived in a two horse town a couple hours north of Detroit. I worked for an educational (hah!) theatre company. We had 5 or 6 teams of 3 people each that brought live theatre to the children of the midwest.

On Employee Appreciation Day each week a bunch of us would sit out on the porch of the managers' house, drink beer (both ginger and alcoholic) and complain. Our biggest complaints were slackers and divas. Our response to that was always, "Just DO your JOB!" Have your period? Drank too much last night? Going through a bad breakup? Well, that's all very touching but let's do the moaning and complaining after you've done your chores, please.

And we were just driving, moving scenery and singing some cheesy songs.

Last night I saw an event that should actually be in the encyclopedia to illustrate the phrase, "Just do your job!" In the face of some fairly major distractions (oh, you know, the threat of fiery death and the like) a pilot for Jet Blue made a (to borrow Pony Express' phrase) pitch perfect crash landing. Everyone on board survived and the fire department wasn't even required. It was awe inspiring to watch.

I hope that S/He was provided with the drink and sexual favor of her/his choice immediately after the plane was evacuated.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And we're back with the gratitude

On a sunny day in September of 2001 I arrived in the elevator lobby of one of my favorite companies for my last day of a temp gig. Someone joined the gathering crowd and said, "I just saw on the screen in Times Square, someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center." My thoughts went something like this, "Oh for fuck's sake! Some JFK, Jr. motherfucker has just ridden his joy into a major metropolitan area. What an ass! That's my train line, it's going to take me for frigging ever to get home." As a matter of fact I went upstairs and called Carmencita and asked her to walk the pooch because I wasn't sure how much transit snarl there'd be.

And unless you've had your fingers stuck in your ears and been singing the La La La song for the past 4 years you know the rest of that story.

After all that it became easy to squelch the 1980s voice in my head ("me. Me. ME!") whenever there was a problem. Crowded train? Eh, I'll wait. Detour? It's an adventure. On wheels! Citywide blackout? No problem, I'll walk, I've done it before.

Today it took a bus, 2 trains (no, 3, no, 2) and a whole lot of extra walking to get to work. As I found a place to stand in the sweaty mob at 42nd Street waiting for the third train I heard an announcement that there was a police investigation at Bowling Green. It was at this point I decided to bag any more transit and walk. As I trudged against gravity to the street the following thoughts charged angrily through my brain, "Fuckers! Can't anyone keep their homicidal and suicidal and terrorist plotting mother fucking tendencies to the hours outside of the rush? Can't they see how inconsiderate this is? Thousands of people inconvenienced." ("me. Me. ME!")

So, it seems it's time for me to get my ungrateful ass back on the gratitude train. Take a look at these folks:

Marky B and C-ann.

On more than one occasion a version of the following conversation has taken place:

Kizz: Would you guys possibly be able to maybe do (insert name of incredibly intrusive yet creative and nutty plan I have concocted).

Marky B: Sure.

K: You can think about it. I know it's a lot to ask and if you want to discuss it and get back to me.

C-ann: Kizz, whatever you want to do, any time, we'll do it.

M: Yeah.

K: (stares dumbly)

Sitting outside a Dairy Queen in the wilds of Maine waiting to perform at a wedding our talk turned (fancy that, Hedda) to weddings.

K: I think it's crazy, completely nuts. But not necessarily in a bad way.

M: The more weddings I go to the more I'm glad we didn't have one.

K: I admire people who get married. I mean, you've got to be incredibly brave to decide to jump off a cliff with someone like that.

C: (thinking it over) I didn't feel like I was jumping off a cliff when we got married. It was more like stepping into...a bath..into warm pudding.

M: Mmmm, yeah, pudding.

This conversation made me feel inexplicably stupid and also made me love them more.

Marky B is a hard core New England boy. He builds friendships slowly and ours gelled when we were living parallel lives for a short time. As is mandated in the New England People's Interpersonal Relations Handbook he doesn't talk about the mushy stuff very often.

C-ann decided to forge her own relationship with me after they started dating and she and I had met. She called to tell me they'd gotten married in a family ceremony in a favorite restaurant just after Christmas. She's always the one that offers their support in everything.

We were rehearsing, a little living room concert at Queen Bee's house before the aforementioned wedding, and it was fun and I felt good and C-ann was taking the lead, being the impetus and I was grateful. We had a good run through, we felt solid so she said we could pack up. Mark said, "If it feels good that's your cue to do it one more time." So we did.

They're good for me and to me. I've got crazy ideas and not always the talent or resources to bring them to fruition. And I'm always willing to turn off the road a little early.

I hope I can be as good for them. I've got some ideas for how but I might need some help bringing them to fruition...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

You can ask but they still won't tell

So someone I voted for didn't win yesterday. Seems as good a time as any to talk about someone else I never voted for.

The executive branch of our country's governmental foliage is visiting New York today. It seems that my new office is on the path of his motorcade when he visits the UN.

Let's leave aside for the moment the fact that he doesn't even think the UN is a legitimate governing, let's leave it, it's hard but I'm going to.

For about 2 days the police have been lining barricades up along some of the streets near the office. I should have asked when I went out to lunch, I should have backed a nice officer up against a wall and demanded full disclosure. But that's really not my style I prefer to observe and see if I can figure it out on my own and ask only as a last resort. (Yes, I'm kind of a guy, I also have little besides beer and cookies in my refrigerator, some people find it charming.)

I go out of my office, walk West for a block on 50th Street and can see from there that there are barricades in front of my subway stop which is across Lex from where I'm standing. I cave and speak to a peace officer.

K: Is that entrance completely closed?
PO: Yeah
K: Can I get in at Grand Central?
PO: Uuuuhhhhh, yeah, that's running.

Now, if I were any sort of detective at all I would have noticed the hesitancy and the evasive answer right away. Instead I walk a block down Lex and run smack into another peace officer blocking the sidewalk.

K: How do I get to Grand Central?
PO: (with a shrug) You're gonna have to go to third and walk down and see if you can get through.

Um, see if I can get through? The hell? It's a major transportation hub. I'm now seeing the light about that first officer. Yes, the train is running, but can you get there from here? Frankly, ma'am, it's a crapshoot. What is this, the wild west? I'm just trying to get on the public transport and get my ass home and barefoot and into the kitchen, just like the president wants me to be. Really, you'd think he'd be more helpful.

Which all means that I then go back down 49th Street, effectively circling the block and ending up back at my office building, then walk downtown another 5 or 6 blocks and across a block and into the teeming mass of humanity that is Grand Central. Grand Central on a day when half the pedestrians have just been dicked around for 8 or 10 blocks like I have. Now that's a happy, healthy mob of constituency right there.

I thought I'd be more angry about it but I come from a state where the road signs tend to say stuff like: "Alton - 2 (2 miles back where you came from, didn't you see it?)" so I wasn't all that surprised.

*Photo credit for this entry to Steph who observes I Love New York Day just like I do but takes better pictures.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What it's like to be 36

It's like all your friends move to Paraguay.

OK, that's an exaggeration, they don't all move to Paraguay, and it's not only when you're 36, but slowly, surely, the lion's share of them go. Most of them move to Jersey first. Some stay in Jersey for a long time and you get a chance to learn how to deal with them being out of the neighborhood while it's relatively easy to visit. Some of them, though, some just like spend a week in a cheap motel down the shore and then move straight to Paraguay.

Actually you know quite a bit about Paraguay. You've spent a lot of time with tourists from there and you know a ton of people who live there. You know a good mortgage broker over there and you know where the good neighborhoods are and enough about local cuisine to get by. But you don't want to live in Paraguay. You've thought a lot about it, you've done the research and somehow you just don't feel like you're ever going to pick up and move that far away.

You don't mean anything disparaging by that, though. Paraguay is a beautiful place and you can see the appeal and you're just certain it's the perfect place for most of your friends to live. Hell, in a lot of ways it's less frightening than Jersey. The ones for whom it isn't perfect, well, you know the locals are good and you figure they'll get by and you'll do all you can to make sure they're happy there. You can't make it perfect but you can give them support and what guidance your small experience can offer.

You like to visit Paraguay. It is, after all, an amazing country with a rich culture and the tax benefits are enormous. They're very lucky to live in Paraguay and very brave to move so far from home and try something that, though it's been done before, is so new and different for them...for us.



But you aren't going to live in Paraguay. You can't afford a house there or you're allergic to the flowers they grow or you just love New York too much. It doesn't matter why you won't live there, it only matters that you've come to understand, fairly recently even, by increments, that you're never going to go. It's hard to say exactly why, you just know (as much as anyone can know such a thing) it's true. Even though you'll probably always wonder if you're doing the right thing by staying here and you worry that all your friends sit in cafes in Paraguay drink exotic cocktails and talk about how backwater you are for staying.

Sometimes you know long before a friend tells you that he or she will move. They might not know for sure but you do. You even dream about it. You can't wait to see them have their first glimpse of the landscape as their plane lands, you look forward to hearing their account of their first night in their new palatial home there. When you're feeling particularly selfish you dream about what your visits with them will be like, what kind of sheets they'll have in the guest room and which local restaurant they'll take you to first.

Oh, you visit Paraguay. Not often, but almost whenever you're asked. You like to spend time there, you know it's a privilege and you try to leave it a better place in some small way than it was when you arrived. You want to be asked back. It's a wonderful place to visit and you want to maybe spend your winters there when you get old.

You don't dream about the announcement, though. That part is hard. No matter how often you go through it or the enormity of your good intentions and your true joy in their new adventure it's the announcement that you never learn to receive well. You never quite manage to train yourself to express the depth of your belief in and love for them on the spot like that. To show them the bottom of that well you have to take down the safety fence around the opening and you need time for that. You should build a gate, one of those ones that keeps the dog out of the kitchen, so you can take it down quickly then put it right back up. Those gates aren't strong enough, though. You need something hardier to keep you from tipping over the side or even from just spending all your days looking down for your reflection. The fence does you a disservice, though, and them. Although, they probably don't know about the fence, you've learned to cover pretty well with practice, to throw up your hands to shield your face but make it a gesture fueled by the joy you know you have and just need a moment to reveal.

You know why it's hard. For all the good that does you. It's because the announcement is the part where you learn that they're leaving. And you're afraid they'll forget you when they've gone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Crash (and burn)

You know how sometimes a song or a singer or songwriter will get to you and you just have to listen to them and read their lyrics and talk about them over and over and over until you get it out of your system? Amanda Marshall has that spot in my head right now.

I give you these lyrics in honor of Crash who, despite my recent good work on the subject, I can't seem to shake right this very second. I think I'll blame my backsliding on Amanda.

Red Magic Marker
Written by Amanda Marshall, Billy Mann & Molecules

'Amanda, come on'

Where are you livin'?
What planet do you come from?
Is their TV, e-mail, or a telephone line?
Do you have friends?
Or family to warn you when there's trouble?
'Cause up to now you're deaf, dumb and blind

This is my line in the sand
This is my last open hand

Can't you read?
Cause it's written all over my face
That I love you
It's in red magic marker
Can't you see?
It's the kind of ink that you can't erase
Says 'I love you'
It's in red magic marker
I try to wash it off
But it won't go away


Are you gay?
That's cool, just tell me
It's okay, I'll feel stupid but then we can hang out
But if you're straight
Then what the fuck's the matter?
'Cause my deepest intuition tells me there is no doubt

This is my line in the sand
This is where I take a stand


Won't go away, no

Sit up and pay attention (I just need to know)
You're in your own dimension (Somewhere I can't go)
I can't help the way I feel
This is my last appeal

Can't you read?
'Cause it's written all over my face
That I love you
It's in red magic marker (Red magic marker)
Can't you see?
It's the kind of ink that you can't erase
Says 'I love you'
It's in red magic marker

Can't you read? (Can't you read?)
'Cause it's written all over my face
(What's the matter with ya)
That I love you
It's in red magic marker
Can't you see?
It's the kind of ink that you can't erase
Says 'I love you'
It's in red magic marker

Let's hope he has something better to do with his life than search for me on the internet, shall we?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

4th Annual I Love New York Day

People handle things different ways. For the most part I stay alone and do stuff in my own little bubble. My decision at some point was that this day in the world is going to be I Love New York Day. But just for me. I usually don't spend too much of the day with other people. It's less about what I want than being afraid that the other people will have definite ideas about how the day should be spent. I like to go with the flow. Here's where the flow took me today:

This delicious restaurant. It was a brunch Sunday and I didn't think it was a good idea to cancel it.

With, among other people, this short person.

Then I walked over to this cocoa-licious institution.

I passed by this place in honor of the 2 cousins of mine that live in New York. For all I know the younger one was in there but I failed to check.

I knew about this but I don't think I'd ever spent a lot of time looking at it until today. The tiles are memorials and they come from all over the country, possibly the world.

Bought a book here in honor of ChemE who LIVES for her trips here.

Passed by the garden where Miranda got married in Sex and the City but didn't take a picture because a man with a lot of duffle bags started talking to me about his college reunion yesterday.

Then there's Washington Square Park.

The 2 guys in front have been doing this act in this spot in this park for as long as I've been here. No pictures of the action because I came in at the beginning and as the years have passed the rabble rousing, crowd raising part of the show has gotten to be about 25 minutes long and the performance part is like 3 minutes and I just couldn't sit through the berating again.

Then, right in front of the University library I used maybe once in the 4 years I attended, I bought another book. Gangs of New York, actually.

Then I bought toilet paper, no picture of that, but it's important to preserve a sense of normalcy on days of remembrance I think.

Just took a picture here, didn't see a movie.

There's one picture I didn't take. It happened early this morning. Usually when I walk the dog on Sundays or any day that's really an off day I let her lead me around. She led me all around Robin Hood's barn today and at about 10:23 we ended up walking around the corner toward the local fire station. There were maybe 15 firefighters milling around outside. Some were in their working uniforms and some in dress ones and one had his son with him, a towhead of about 2 years old. As we sniffed our way by on the opposite side of the street the commander came out and started organizing them. They got into their rightful places and they were still laughing and joking and messing around. The father picked up his son and stood in the back row where the boy proceeded to play with his hat. And, at the exact time of the last moment of silence, they were called to attention and I stood up straight and observed the moment of silence with them. No one else was around. I wouldn't have thought to come there. They did it for themselves, a formal observance with the people to whom they're close.

This is looking downtown on Broadway today.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

As usual I had no idea



Jesus love felt a lot like a hangover.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

(Finally) Kissed the Girl!

Take a good look at those lips, 'cause shortly after this photo was taken [The. Boy.] KISSED THEM!

I have known Quewlkat since she was 3 years old. I should know by now that she's not exactly the kind of person who just lets something go once she's set her sights on it. In this case she set her sights on True Love (awwwwwwww).

When she was 14 I showed up at her place for dinner one night and was ushered onto the living room sofa and shown a video of [name omitted to protect the innocent-ish] being the appropriately intelligent average teen on a big group hug teen interview thingamajig. The video was accompanied by live running commentary on his (many and varied) admirable attributes.

In the intervening years [that guy she luuuuuurvs] has been lightly sprinkled into conversation but always as a secondary character, never the focus of conversation but lovingly dropped. Like the smaller statues in a Rodin exhibit, not taking center stage like The Kiss (heh) but carefully placed and well lighted so that if one wanted to one would be free to examine its perfection.

Today's IM went something like this:

Q: KIZZY!!!!!!!

K: Hey


K: No, please, tell me.

Q: [The perfect, fabulous, intelligent, amazing, delectable guy] KISSED ME!!!!!!!!!

K: Oh.

K: My.

K: God.

Apparently after some studied "hanging out" over the summer he waited until the very last day, the night of the last day, I'm guessing pretty late on the night of the last day before Quewlkat left for her sophomore year of college to put the moves on my little baby girl.

Later in our conversation she was telling me she had refrained from blurting, "Well, that's out, let's get hitched!" She's not a terribly girly girl but she actually typed, "Getting married would be nice." My cavities ache.

Hey, I'm not disparaging her iron will, she waited 7 years, she smoked him out and he finally did the kissing.

Well done [Adonis], let's not wait this long for the next one, shall we?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gratitude: Part two of a bunch

My grandfather died. Don't worry, it was almost 5 years ago.

Background part 2 is that my mom's house looks like this. Well, except that where that woman's yard is empty and neglected Mama Kizz's yard is a riot (S.W.A.T. not hilarious) of flowers and statuary and bird baths.

Five years ago the house was pretty bad but had paths and my bed was clear and you could use the shower and probably make toast. But just barely. Being there made everything a little harder and it totally freaked the dog out because she was constantly being ambushed by cats or having to back up. The paths weren't wide enough for a passing lane and dogs really aren't fond of the backing up.

Papa Kizz's Pop died very suddenly. I had to go home, I had to go right then and my brain was scrambled. I went to Queen Bee's.

I've known Queen Bee since I was 5 months old. We lived next door to each other, then across town, then she moved to VA then I moved to NYC and then she moved back to our hometown right around the same time that I thought I might have to, too.

It was, yeesh, I have no idea when it was, maybe 9 years ago, probably more like 10 or 11. Her mother, Nanny, had just had 2 massive strokes and someone needed to move home to help and it turned out that she was the right person. My mother was having a lot of little strokes. A lot of strokes, people. Remind me to tell you about the seminal Thanksgiving moment with that one, will you?

I went home for a month and Queen Bee came home for good. My mother is back on her feet, Queen Bee's mom is in a local retirement home and no longer knows our names, although I believe she still knows who we are to her. During the month that I was home it was one of those crazy growing up times. We took our mothers on outings and walked around the mall whispering to each other about them while they giggled and hooted and generally broke all the rules. Change who was driving and our hairstyles and they were the same outings we went on when we were toddlers. Remind my mom to tell you that story about Harry's Department Store one. more. time.

Ever since the fateful trip 5 years ago I have stayed at Queen Bee's house when I got to the hometown. She has a lovely 3 bedroom house for her and King Bee and the 2 younger bees. I came that one time and stayed for a week, came back to New York for a week and a half and came back again for a week so we could bury my grandfather before the ground froze. I have called her 2 days before I plan to come home and she's said OK. I've stayed there at Christmas when her whole family was there. When I go I pretty much pack a book, my phone and a change of underwear. She has a toothbrush for me, we share sweaters, shirts, deodorant, shoes (oh, thank god, the shoes!), hair products, everything.

When I wanted to restore a chair I inherited she had a wood restorer, she knew the people who would make new cushions, she transported the chair and she stored the chair and she probably paid for big chunks of the chair until I got home and wrote a check.

Christmas? I bring presents, she provides gift bags.

About 7 years ago I got a job which was the first time I would be supporting myself with full time work acting. It was in Michigan. I whipped to NH on a magic carpet of excitement and surprised Queen Bee on a Friday afternoon. In the breakfast nook of her old condo I told her my big news. She cried. She was going to miss me that much. I had no idea. I mean, really, none. We've known each other over 35 years and much of that has been form a distance. I just never guessed.

That, the part about 35 years, is what I'm so intensely grateful for. To know that someone likes and respects you even though they've known you since you were pedalling your Big Wheel as fast as your stubby legs could handle and still not catching up.

Queen Bee is a hard working and wonderful one of the following: daughter, sister, wife, mother, assistant, homeowner, neighbor and, of course, friend. She's a good person. She's a great person. I suspect I will never catch up but I am enormously grateful for the way she has never left me behind and she keeps looking back over her shoulder and encouraging me to pedal faster.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Gratitude: Part one of many

When faced with the question of what to write these days only one subject comes to mind. Yet I feel I've said as much as I know and pointed readers in the direction of people that know more, so aside from asking, "Why aren't we impeaching yet?" I'm tapped. But it's all I can think about for the most part, an undercurrent.

Rather than harping, I thought (as I tried in vain to sleep last night) that this is a good time for gratitude. Grateful for having clean underwear, the option to shower, friends and family, my home and a lot of other things too.

For this first post I'm grateful to ChemE. I don't have authorization to post pictures of her and I only have one and it's not very good so I'm using pictures of things and people she likes.

ChemE is an engineer. She's highly practical and cautious and intelligent. Whereas my fears and phobias are unreasonable and uncontrollable for the most part (I mean, really, we don't have a lot of rattlesnakes in Brooklyn, and I love the beach but fear drowning? What the hell?) she researches her phobias and controls them through information. When she makes a flight reservation she doesn't just ask for arrival time and layovers she asks what equipment is being flown and is not above asking for a maintenance history. Once, when she was waiting in a gate for a plane delayed by a maintenance issue, she stopped the pilot as he re-boarded to ask what had happened and how it had been addressed. And she fully understood his answer, too, due to all the research she's done.

Back when her job involved going to trade shows ChemE would take the weekend before, save the company money on her flight because she stayed over a Saturday night, and we'd play until she had to go deal with her show. In October of 2001 she was scheduled for an nearly week-long visit to New York for a trade show.

In the days (and weeks) following 9/11 a lot of people (probably even ChemE) assured me that if (when, they were sure) I wanted to get away ("come home") I was welcome and they would do anything they could to help me do it. Surprisingly without losing my temper I was able to explain to all of them that I was staying put. I don't think I even once said to the offerer, "I am home for Christ's sake! Someone flew a plane into home and fucked it all up! And I'm afraid that if I leave they might not let me come back. I'm staying right the hell here with the funny smell and the one TV channel and my dog, thankyouverymuch."

I assumed that ChemE wouldn't come down for her trade show. Even if the show was held I figured she'd want to postpone indefinitely. I mean, people had blown up in a plane, she has plane fears, it seemed logical. And that was OK with me, I understood, and didn't want her to come down and be scared and hate it all week. That may not have come across in my jittery, defensive conversations from that period but I hope that it did.

She said she'd think about it but she never once mentioned not coming. And she didn't cancel or even shorten her plans. She came to New York, by plane, and we ate at a fancy restaurant and I think we probably went to something on Broadway and we lay on her hotel bed and she singlehandedly boosted the New York City economy, as she likes to do when she's here ("I can't get this where I live!").

Now, I appreciated it at the time. I was so glad to see her and the vote of confidence from someone outside of my New York life coming to visit was invaluable. Any approximation of normalcy was the best present I could have gotten and she gave me days of it. I mean, nothing was normal, we were rebuilding what we were to call normal, but she made a concerted effort to give me what passed for it. However, it was a few months before I truly appreciated that it had been given to me.

I can't remember where I read it, might have been Tomato Nation but it doesn't seem like the sort of thing that Sars usually writes about. Whoever it was talked about how their best friend was scheduled to visit them in New York City in the months following 9/11 and had declined. More than that the friend said something akin to, "Oh god no, I'm not coming there, it's like Sodom and Gommorrah but scarier and no doubt I'll be flayed and eaten upon entry!"

I finished reading the story and I cried. I mean, what sort of friend does that? I'd understand not being able to come to New York. I know plenty of people who are wary enough of it in the high times much less when its foundation of landfill is still burning so I wouldn't fault anyone for deciding not to come. But the correct way to cancel the trip to the ravaged home of a friend is, "I'm so sorry, I just don't think I can do it. I'm too nervous." To take it on yourself, not to enumerate the suspected evils of your friend's violated home town. And my friend? Didn't do any of that. She acknolwedged that things were scary and she declined to leave me alone while they were.

And for that I am truly grateful.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Just another day

I figure we all need a little something to turn our minds from the constant coverage and keep our spirits up. It's important to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. So I had dinner with Miss Alita and her Mama.

Scene: The new hot dog/sub/ice cream joint.

Alita leans conspiratorially toward her mother and points at me.

Carmencita: Yes honey, that's Kizzy. What about her?

Alita: (whispering) I love her.

Right back atcha babe.

However, the world keeps turning and bad messes don't just melt away while you agree to "see somethin' cool" and "watch me" over sushi and ice cream.

I find that John Scalzi's opinions are always informative. I don't always agree with him but I always appreciate the care with which he and his commenters tackle issues. Do yourself a favor and read the comments as well, you'll probably learn something. I find that in this case I find myself pretty firmly in his camp.

Mr. Scalzi once led me to Ms. Granju. I'm still figuring out if I like her but from the beginning I've respected her and find she, like John, does good journalistic research. I can only give you the main link to her site, she has it set up in a way I don't understand at all. No matter where you click on the site the url displayed is the same. But you can just scroll down and learn about her varied areas of expertise and interest.

DJ Blurb speaks eloquently for the members of the Blurbodoocery as well.

Me? The more I learn the more angry I am. I've been too willing to believe that the money diverted to Homeland Security was necessary. If it's taking this long to respond to the needs of people hit by a catastrophe that we knew was coming then all this hot air about how we're set to respond to a surprise attack is pure bullshit and everyone who professed such a thing should be summarily fired. I'm not heartless, I'll give them a new job. Their new jobs will involve heading south and explaining to individuals why their children are dead, their homes destroyed and their tongues parched.

The fall of 2001 sucked in New York City. Things were bad. But you know what? Dead bodies weren't floating past our homes. OK, technically in some ways yes they were. It's foolish to play a "this was better and that was worse" game but man, this is so far different and so much less contained and the rebuilding so extensive it boggles the mind.

Oh, and give blood. I can't (somehow it doesn't matter to the proper authorities that I was at least this crazy before I spent a year eating beef and Guinness stew) but it looks as though it will be needed so it's a good idea to shore up the supplies.

Kiss your kids, hug your animals, enjoy your friends and do what you can to help. I'm sure you're doing all that and I'm proud of you.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I know, and I'm sorry

I'd like to blame ridiculous blogging of petty personal issues while people are having loss of life and limb and everything else on the PMS but we all know it's just because I have a streak of the ostrich in me. Just couldn't stand it for a minute.

I'm back now.

Read Allison. And read Allison's archives about her own experience with losing everything she and her husband owned (including their dog!) in a fire a couple of years ago. She knows whereof she speaks.

Check out the smart bitch telling you about some of the history behind the breach of the levee. I can't even describe it because it makes me so angry.

Don't forget the animals. I can't even begin to think of the horror that people must feel when they've had to leave pets behind, thinking they would be back in a couple of days and being so very wrong. This is the crux of why my mother, who lives within the (ridiculously inadequate) evacuation zone for a nuclear power plant, always says she has no truck with going to a shelter, she will be packing up the pets and driving south until she gets to me. If she runs out of gas she's going to walk. I don't think it'll work but I understand she has to try.

And last but certainly not least there are the people. They need underwear. They need toothpaste. They just need to know that someone gives a shit that their home has been whipped and shaken and sodden. The fact that they haven't had more help sooner is, quite possibly, disgraceful. I don't know all the facts but it seems as though, had we more national guardspeople on American soil, these people may have had at least WATER much sooner. I despair of the state of our union.

My (quite possibly useless bu truly heartfelt) thoughts are with everyone who is going through this.