Monday, February 28, 2011

A peek at The Great Wall

This one is Sister Bee and our tour guide, Tracy.

Here we all are on The Great Wall of China!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Don't look if you're hungry

Tonight's dinner, with Mr Li and Queen Bee.

The Return of the Phoenix

You know, there's nothing like a list serve to bring you back to grim reality. I was feeling a little disconnected and homesick without phone or email for three days. Got back, pulled out my iPad, checked the 124 emails and, along with a few nice notes and a ton of junk mail, there was a thread from my apartment complex's list serve. Took it five replies to turn shallow, accusatory and poorly spelled. Being connected is overrated, I get that now.

However, I have a lot to tell you and I can't wait so I'm sitting here in my silk mumu, freshly showered and feeling good, ready to write a little bit about what we've been up to.

Here are a smattering of things I can't say anymore:

I have never walked the Great Wall of China
I have never seen the snow in Beijing
I don't know how to distinguish a genuine pearl from a fake
I have never eaten Dragon Fruit
I have never enjoyed the services of a private tour guide
I have never flown on a non-English speaking airline

Fortunately I can still say that I have never puked on the Great Wall of China. Close call, though. We were short on time and wanted to make it to the highest point on the section of the wall we were visiting so we had to really hike. I don't hike. But I made it and I'm smiling in every picture.

My brain is so full of history I can barely process it all. We saw two sections of the wall, Tianneman Square, The Inner City, Imperial City & Forbidden City, The Imperial Gardens, The Hu Tong (Narrow Alley) section of Beijing, we've taken a rickshaw ride and seen how pearls, silk, jade and cloisonné are crafted. Our guide, Tracy, knew all manner of facts and figures and was brilliantly easy to spend time with. Though we weren't able to bring Mr. Li with us we were just as well taken care of.

I know that I was apprehensive about the food. I'm a little picky as an eater, not terribly so but a bit, and I didn't know if there would always be something I would love to eat. As it turns out we've eaten at places that cater to Westerners, deeply local restaurants and many degrees in between and, with perhaps one exception, I have loved at least one thing on the table and usually all of them. The food has been some of the best I have ever eaten and I'm really hungry right now and looking forward to more.

In a couple of hours, after unpacking, chilling and showering Beijing off us (turns out I had half a cold and half just can't quite take the high levels of pollution, I'm nearly better now) we're headed out to explore the Bund and walk around in the brilliant weather, should top out around 66F.

Sure, I'm still a little homesick (you'll laugh at how many pictures I've taken of dogs) but coming back to Shanghai feels a bit like coming home so I'm raring to suck the marrow out of then few days we have left. Hope you had a good couple of days. Thanks for sticking with me and I can't wait to see the Photo Challenge when I get back in range. I've got a biggish layover in Detroit, it'll be nice to have that ease my re-entry.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Spent a nice day today going slowly. Took a drive, wandered Old City, toured the Yuan Gardens, had a tea tasting, ate soup dumplings, shopped the fabric market then home for some napping. I've filled up my first SD card from the camera, that's got to be some kind of vacation milestone, right?

Tonight we pack for tomorrow at 6:30am we leave for the airport to head to Beijing. We'll get back here around Sunday midday for us, Saturday midnight for the East Coast of the US. I'm not going to take the iPad so I don't think you'll hear from me until then.

Fun fact for the day: The street sweeping vehicles in Shanghai play the first 3 notes of How Dry I Am over and over and over. Makes me laugh.

Hey all, please don't forget the SIGHT photo challenge coming up, the pool is still looking a little shallow! Cheers, Bethany

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Delicate Flowers

I realize that I'm saying a lot about Mr. Li but he is possibly the kingpin of our experience. I've never been in a position to have a driver or a caretaker like this and it's invaluable. I don't know how we will ever repay him but rest assured that is on our minds almost constantly.

An example of his deep caring is our lunch today. Queen Bee and I asked him for a recommendation and he checked to see if we liked vegetables and meat with our noodles. We do! So he drove us to a small restaurant with wooden tables and stools. He pointed out a place for us to sit while he ordered for us, he had already eaten while we were wandering the French Concession.

"No, we have to pay." we reminded him. His child-like grin broke out and he refused to take our money. A few moments later he brought over our ticket and showed us the number, reminding us to listen carefully for it to be called. He reiterated that he'd be right outside in the car and off he went.

A few minutes later, before our food had arrived he came back in and conferred with the girl at the counter. I wondered if he was complaining that we hadn't been served yet. The girl pointed him to a wash up room so I thought he might be getting himself something. A woman in that room leaned in then handed him two mugs and he came to our table.

"The noodles are maybe a little bit...salty." he said, "So I bought this." He'd gone to a store and bought us a big can of the guava juice we'd enjoyed with our duck dinner. He poured it for us then went out to the car.

The lunch was delicious, I hardly need to say that. We've yet to be steered wrong by our guardian. Thicker noodles than the ones on our first day, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, beef and perhaps a tiny bit of tofu. The broth was a little thicker as well. Queen Bee added a little spicy oil from the pot on the table to hers and she loved that kick. When we couldn't hold another thin noodle we headed out to the car.

We told Mr. Li how much we loved it and he told us that he was glad but that the specialty of the house was actually....he had to grab his fantastic little pocket digital translator. After a minute or two he showed us the screen and it said, "bowel, intestine." "Tripe!" I said.

"But most foreigners don't like that."

I made noises about how I'd heard it was really good but we thanked him SO much for knowing us well enough to order us the beef and vegetables instead.

Have you ever been taken care of so carefully by someone who wasn't close to family? He is incredible. And we are incredibly lucky.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shipping and Receiving

Today we went to Sister Bee's work place to see what she's been doing over here. I can't really go into it, it's not public info but I can say that she takes huge complicated processes and breaks them down into small chunks and teaches them to other people then puts them back together so they accomplish one big goal. Also, she's very very good at what she does. It was fascinating and super fun and I accidentally shut down her big process with my butt. Whoopsie daisy!

In the midst of our tour Mr. Li took us out to his favorite restaurant in the town (about 1 hour from Shanghai, a city really, of 4 million people but a town compared to Shanghai's 20 million) where the processes proceed. We made a little fun of him for ordering so much food after trying to slow down Sister Bee's ordering last night but we were glad he did it. I am far too tired to do it justice in words but I'll probably dream about the thick cut local bacon cooked with the scallion-like tops of garlic bulbs. You simply can't beat that and Mr. Li asked his friend, the chef to cook specially for us so we were treated like royalty.

We're always kind of treated like royalty here. Everyone is terribly kind.

I'm medicating this cold pretty hard at this point. I was miserable this morning, really didn't know if I'd make it through the day. Fortunately I rallied and felt a lot better and even feel better right now than I did this time last night. If you could, please, spare some healing thoughts I would appreciate it. It's such a bummer to be trying to experience all these wonderful things and to be slowed down by my stupid body. Not to mention that I really don't want to pass this along to my companions. So maybe I should ask you to send healing and fortifying thoughts to them first!

Thank you again for all your wonderful thoughts and encouragement. Over here we're putting a cap on Monday while you're (mostly) just starting it. It went pretty well. I think you'll like it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


If I'd been tweeting yesterday I'd have said, "Just peed in the Ritz."

Sister Bee describes Shanghai as a study in contrast. Right after we peed in the Ritz we got into the car in search of a knitting store. Since we were working with google directions and that's not always updated or accurate we wound up going into a part of the city we would surely never have gone to otherwise. As we came up to a corner with a cinema Mr. Li told us that he'd lived in the neighborhood for 2 years when he was a kid. As we bore right down the road google had recommended he also pointed out a house as being very old. It had shingles like half flower pots and was sooty and run down but kind of beautiful. The further we went down the road the older and more run down the buildings became. Lots of food for sale in the open unwindowed fronts of buildings, dried chickens hanging from wires out front, lots of salvaged materials being used. Not like the Ritz at all. I don't know that anyone would have voluntarily taken us there if we hadn't asked specifically for something that was on that street so I'm glad we had a chance to see that part of the city.

Another sharp contrast was the way I felt by the end of the day. Things have been going pretty well physically but by yesterday afternoon the post nasal drip was making me cough constantly which was annoying the hell out of me and giving me anxiety about keeping my roomie up all night. We were both tired and after our delicious Peking duck dinner my stomach decided it was off the happy vacation bandwagon as well. Given how I feel this morning (Monday) I'm pretty sure that was about all the fat I ingested during the day and the one chunk of sweet crispy duck skin I indulged in rather than any kind of bug I've picked up. So I dosed with Immodium and Mucinex and was abed by 8:30pm. After a good 9 or so hours of sleep I still have a bullfrog in my throat but I feel better.

Today we're going to see where Sister Bee works and check out that area of the country, about an hour outside of Shanghai. The adventure continues!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Learning the Ropes

There are some things I realize you might not know. If you do, skip ahead until you hit new information.

1. Time zone: Shanghai & Beijing are NY City + 13 (12 during the summer which you may remember from the Olympics) so I am writing this and sending it around 8pm Saturday local time and it will land in Bethany's mailbox (internet willing) around 7am Saturday her time.

2. Internet access: I couldn't be happier that I decided to have a blog baby-sitter or more grateful that Bethany agreed to hold the reins. I have not been able to access Facebook or Twitter at all and don't expect that to change. I can get to the homepage of Chili's blog ( but can only see what the screen captures, no scrolling down and I don't think I could get any of the links to work. I cannot even access my own blog yet. It says the server is not responding. Maybe I'll try again and see what happens but I'm probably going to assume that'll be a no go. I have all the comments from the blog emailed to me and my email is working fine so I am able to read everything you're saying and thank you very much!

3. Food/Priorities: I suspect some of you were disappointed to hear that our first meal in China was a pulled pork slider. The reasoning there was that it was late and it was the one place we knew that was open and serving. It's also a frequent haunt of Sister Bee's and we wanted to meet the people in her neighborhood, as it were. Last but not least, it was fucking delicious! However, today we went authentic. Mr. Li, our driver, is a font of information. We asked him to recommend a noodle shop for lunch and he took us to a real local joint. We had pork dumplings and a huge bowl of noodles with a slightly hot flavor and the sweetest, most tender, juicy tiny chunks of pork in it and it cost about $1.20 per bowl. I will dream of that for years to come. Then we wanted some real Chinese tea (Note: Not being a caffeine drinker I am terrified of drinking too much caffeine and having my head try to explode.) and he found us a place that looked kind of swanky and lovely. When we got back to the car her told us it was to tea cafes what McDonald's is to American food. It was still delicious. Later we had the opportunity to sit in a tea shop and try different loose teas prepared specially by the shop mistress.

4. Learning Curve: We went shopping this evening. You know I'm not much a shopper anyway but this is a whole different experience. Nearly every shop dickers prices and it is rough play. No, seriously, ROUGH play. Between learning to do the math for the exchange rate and learning the verbal and physical banter to get the price you want it's like doing calculus while riding a bike. I'm not great at one and a complete failure at the other, you can guess which. But I'm learning. Let's just say that so far we haven't bought much. We have to let the shop keepers learn our limits. It's OK, we're here for a couple of weeks.

5. Jet Lag: Tired. OK but tired. Slept on and off from midnight thirty to 7am. Have felt pretty good most of the day. Getting a sore throat and feeling a little achy (air quality is an issue here and I showed up with a cold so I may be screwed but I have meds and will just power through, dagnabbit) but we're hunkered down at home for the evening, getting ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Note from Bethany: Sorry to those of you whose feed-readers got hit twice yesterday, my Blogger skills are a bit rusty! 

Friday, February 18, 2011


Hey Everyone! I made it and they didn't even have to put me in a straight jacket before landing. Don't get me wrong, it's a long flight. A long, looooooooong flight. But doable. We had an admin snafu that resulted in our seats not being together but when all was said and done a lovely man traded his middle seat for one row up on the window so we could be together. I took the Tylenol PM, I did sleep. My neck and shoulder acted up something fierce but pretty much as soon as we landed it was just fine.

I love the feel of the wheels touching ground. It's like a new beginning. When they met the tarmac here I leaned over to Queen Bee and whispered, "We're in China." and we laughed and laughed.

We've made it safely back to Sister Bee's house, walked around her neighborhood and gotten a feel for the place. We stopped into her local bar - a Texas BBQ joint where everyone knows her - and had pulled pork sliders for dinner. Delicious and really nice to meet some of her people.

It's about 11:30pm on Friday for us and we're a little grungy. Going to shower and try to hit the hay, ready to start a new day tomorrow.

Thanks for all your kind comments.

More when I can!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

On the Plane!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Continental Shift

It's no secret that I love New York City right down to the center of my being. I've lived in London and in Saginaw. I've visited Edinburgh, Dublin, Athens, Paris, Detroit, Chicago, both Portlands, Seattle, Boston and probably some others. I've lived in a small(ish) town, too. New York, as I all too often note, is just right for me.

I'm writing this next to an electrical outlet I'm prepared to defend with my life in the Detroit airport. My plane came in early and to the same concourse from which our flight to Shanghai departs. Queen Bee has been delayed about an hour, something about a bolt, then she'll make her way to me and, I hope, we'll have a meal before we hunker down gateside to wait. I'll admit that it's starting to feel real now. Until I heard the landing gear come down above the Motor City it didn't quite.

I'm going to Shanghai. I'll visit a lifelong friend who has been living there for a while now. I'll get a taste for what that feels like. We'll visit Beijing, doing mostly the touristy things but, surely, getting to know the city a tiny bit at the very least.

I expect that New York, Brooklyn especially, will always feel like mine. How will I know, though, if I don't keep trying other cities? It's not lost on me that I am so lucky to have this opportunity.

For weeks people have been asking me, "Are you excited for your trip?" and I've had to make excuses for my lack of feeling. The logistics of pets and houses and job and my own brain pulled focus. Maybe that's not "right" but it's how I am whether I'm headed across town or across the world. I'm not broken though.

I'm excited now. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tram(p)ing Around

There's a tram, like, right in the room. It's to get you from one end to the other. It's a really long room.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photo Challenge: Thrilled

You know what I'm thrilled about? We've got a great mix of familiar and new faces in this week's results post for the THRILLED challenge. Welcome new folks! Remember to click through to see the photographers' other work. I think you'll like it. Don't forget to scroll all the way to the bottom for some fun news, too.

As may of you know I am headed to China tomorrow for two weeks. The excellent Bethany of SaneMoms (aka herm007) has agreed to babysit my blog while I'm gone. I know I'll be able to email but I don't know what other kind of time or access I'll have so she's going to let me email her and she'll do the heavy lifting for me. And that's not all! She's going to curate the next photo challenge so we don't have to go on hiatus. She is very very kind to me.

As per our guest curator the next challenge is SIGHT. Think on it then make sure to enter some photos in our Flickr pool. Tag them with PHOTO CHALLENGE and SIGHT. Enter as many times as you like but do so by Tuesday March 1 at 9am for posting on Wednesday March 2. I can't wait to see it when I get back on the 3rd.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Schnitzel, No Noodles

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Is That What You're Really Saying?

If you're recently tuning in to this blog you might want the back story on my commitment to making our world safely pro-choice. That background is located here, in a piece I wrote just before the 2008 election.

This week a bill has been introduced in South Dakota that includes language that could make the killing of abortion providers justifiable homicide. That sentence is too short. I need to reiterate so you really take in what I'm saying. This bill would provide a legal way for a woman's parent, child, spouse, sibling or friend to kill the person who performed an abortion requested by that woman. If you are not pro-choice (let me be perfectly clear, no one is asking you to be pro-abortion, but pro-choice is vital) these are the people with whom you are aligning yourself. They speak for you. Is this complete disregard for the woman in that equation what you're trying to communicate?

South Dakota already requires shaming women out of abortion using sonogram pictures and a script read by the doctor describing the fetus as a living being that she will be killing. The implication being, of course, that the latter is something the woman will surely not have considered. Is this presumption that women choosing abortion are stupid and flighty enough not to have thought through the procedure what you want to be saying?

There are no abortion providers practicing in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood flies in one provider one time per week to help patients. Today, right now I believe, Congress is voting on whether or not to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. This would not, I suppose, harm South Dakota greatly since they barely allow the services already but it would be a nationwide blow to women and men trying to make responsible decisions about reproduction and sexual health. Planned Parenthood provides gynecological exams, sex education, STD screening and treatment, pregnancy tests and counseling on all options for women who become pregnant. They also employ abortion providers. The latter is, we can assume, the only thing the legislators are actually voting on today. Anti-choice legislators are willing to achieve their anti-woman goal by not only insisting on pregnancies being seen to term but also keeping both women and men from learning how to care for their bodies and plan their families. Is this carpet bombing approach (you'll pardon the terrible implied joke there) to refusing care what you would recommend to any woman you know?

Readers have come here and said that they are anti-choice (they call it pro-life but you can't be pro-life if you're only pro certain kinds of life) and that they hear me but don't agree. They say they love the women in their lives and that it is out of this love that they require legislation to keep their women from making bad decisions. Men, of course, make all the right decisions and decisions, certainly, are all either good or bad, no gray area, no rocky ground, no room for interpretation. Ideally, when I write about these atrocities being perpetrated against over half of the population of our fancy first world country I want those people to come to back to me on bended knee crying, "I was wrong! I was so wrong. You are right and I apologize to you and to every woman in my life. You are adults, life can be murky and difficult, and because I love and respect you I support your journey through it. Thank you, thank you for showing me the error of my ways." I don't expect that. I may be a little off but I'm not yet delusional. Moreover, I don't need that. I need them to change their minds. They don't have to tell me about it, they don't have to write a letter to any editor, they just have to shift (and to vote) their newfound perspective.

I hear you say you love women but if you are anti-choice that is the love of a child who carefully pursues a butterfly, coaxes it into a jar and screws the lid on tight with no air holes poked in. And that's no kind of love at all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Now We Are Two

You could usually count on me for something sweet and schmoopy on such a day but not today. Today we devote to a different kind of love. It has questionable breath and terrible table manners. OK, maybe not so different after all. Today, Mr. Con Edison, aka Ed, aka Crazy Eddie, aka Ed man, aka Fast Eddie, aka Little Dog, aka Quit. That. NOW! turns 2.

Sort of.

When he appeared in August the vet poked him and prodded him and snipped him and drew some blood and did some tests and declared him to be 12 - 18 months old. I considered the options and decided he should share Emily's (and Teddy's) birthday, February 14. Which means that, as of today, Eddie is (approximately) 2 years old. Now I can finally stop waffling when people ask how old he is and just say, "Two" even though I know myself and know that the impulse to read off this entire paragraph instead will be strong.

At (about) two Eddie is a pretty good companion. I think. I tell you, it's hard to figure this one out. Why will he have a great day with dogs then come home and torture the cats? How can you tell when he's comfortable enough in a situation to start exhibiting his worst manners? Is he shivering from cold or fear? I do not know and he will not tell.

I do know that he's a good snuggler, he likes people food, he likes to figure things out, he isn't a cat eater, he loves his people, he will come when he's called and he's a very big dog in a package he has deemed too small.

Tonight, provided his tummy upset of this morning has passed (too much information?) he will get some extra treats and lots of extra love and as much fetching as I can manage while packing things up for his sojourns with Sara and Kath while I'm in China. His real present, though, will wait until I return. It looks as though we'll be able to take a 4 week tricks class starting the week after I return. I'm already making up a list of things for this little circus dog to do at parties. After all if he's going to be around a long time, he should learn to sing for his supper sooner rather than later.


I'm also over at Kizz & Tell talking about romantic situations. I'd love to have you join the conversation.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

My First Wafel Cart Experience

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Come A Little Closer, My Dear

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious but I've been thinking about this trip to China a lot lately. Queen Bee and I keep saying, "If only Nanny & Joe could see us." (Maybe they can, we don't know.) "Who would have thought when they were having the big girls wheel us around the block to shut us up that we'd be going to see the Great Wall of China together? No one!"

I've known Queen Bee since I was 5 months old. That's over 40 years. Well over 40 years at this point. Whenever I think about that I start to wonder if any of my other friends have relationships that have lasted that long. Not a lot of them do. Well, non-blood relationships. I start to think how lucky we are and sad for other people that they don't have this.

Finally, after many years of having these (frankly a little sanctimonious, I know) thoughts, I realized tonight that this is what people are talking about when they get all hot under the collar about having another kid to make sure their first one has someone to go through life with. Voila, I've got blog content in PSA form.

Pssst! You don't have to have a sibling to have someone to go through life with. You're welcome.

Queen Bee and I are about to spend 2 weeks exploring a country we know nothing about. We've never been traveling together before but we've got a lifetime of a foundation that tells me we're going to be OK. I mean, if all of my fear reducing techniques fail she's the perfect person to taser me into submission so I don't get shoved out the emergency exit for insubordination. I'm sure she'll be careful that I won't hit my head and she'll lend me a pair of undies if I pee myself.

I know it looks like I'm an only child but that's only because you aren't looking closely enough.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will They Won't They Will They Won't They Won't They Join The Dance

The thing is, I'm not afraid to die. I've told you a million times that, barring something bizarre, my people live as close to forever as you want to imagine. Maybe a little closer. The actual death part, whatever happens next, that doesn't worry me. Maybe it should but, frankly, I don't have enough information (even after watching all six seasons of Lost) to form a worthwhile anxiety over it. So, when I say I'm afraid to get on this plane (or roller coaster or boat or adult film star) I'm not saying that I think I'm going to die. I'm really not, even when I tell you who has to dispose of my porn before the authorities take over.

I'm afraid of everything else.

There's traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage or loss of sight or loss of hearing or homelessness or having to sew up my own wounds on a deserted island (much better to have Matthew Fox do it). There's the loss of a pet or a family member or a friend. There's not being there when that happens. There's being responsible for that. But mostly?

There's the time before I die.

From the time I was a kid I was afraid of nuclear holocaust (Thank you, Cold War participants.) but I never pictured the moment the bomb dropped, the blinding light, the searing heat, the melting skin. Writing that doesn't bother me much. That's a pass/fail exam right there. I always fixated on the 20 minutes between launch and impact. People screaming and crying and fighting and fucking and killing and running. I'm core-deep terrified of that feeling.

My Shakespeare teacher used to tell us never to fly with him. He had the worst luck. At least 5 times in his life he'd been on planes with the kind of turbulence where they put you in crash positions and even secured drink carts careened around the cabin. That's the part I do not want. The bit where you know it's coming. The end of Titanic with the people in the steerage cabins pretending they weren't about to be horribly tortured? Almost undid me. (Didn't help I saw it in a theatre that was flooding.)

Those are the things I'm thinking of as I prepare to spend upwards of 12 hours (18 on the way back!) on an enormous plane over water (Eek! Water! Drowning! God, it takes so long!). Short hop flights I can handle because I can keep myself distracted. My brain is strong enough to split in two and allow one side to pull the wool over the other's eyes. After about 6 hours, though, it's too long a course to run. I'm only made to spectate the marathon. I can't stop the thoughts and can't stop feeling whatever free floating anxiety is trapped in the long metal tube with me. (People and their fucking feelings!) Then I can honestly feel the recycled air and know that we don't have any plants on board so the oxygen levels are dwindling and it gets hard to breath and weird to sit still and I'm sick of all my toys and, if I'm on the way back from London, that's usually about the time I can look out the window and see the Empire State Building. In this case I'll have about twice as long to go at that point.

So, when I joke about who will blog my death (anyone?) or find homes for my pets (Pony Express) or clean out my porn drawer (Misti) don't worry. I don't really think I'm going to die. In a way, I'm afraid I won't.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

10 Things I Have Seen Lately

1. That only one person has entered the THRILLED photo challenge. Will you join her? (I am among those who have not joined her. I'll get on that.)

2. That my face is super flushed even though I'm feeling better than I have been the last couple of days. Please send healing vibes so I do not head off on my global journey with creeping crud as passenger.

3. An obituary for my great uncle. He was honored by his home state for caring for its land. How cool is that?

4. The grim, silent look on a woman's face when I asked her if she might give me a bag for poop pick up in the park when I ran out. I had two choices, face that look and ask or walk away and face the disgusted one she'd surely throw because I wasn't picking up. How would she know that I was hiking off to find a bag somewhere else and that I'd come back?

5. The bewildered then condescending look that same woman gave me the following day when I saw her on the street, reminded her that I owed her a bag and tried to give her two. She politely refused then revised and asked if I would hold on to it for her for the next time she had an emergency. So, she thinks I'm a nut but at least she thinks I'm a polite nut.

6. The final episodes of the final season of Lost. I didn't hate it as much as everyone else did but I'm willing, nay eager, to hear testimony from either side in the comments.

7. Many episodes of Season 2 of In Treatment. It remains such a well-executed show in all ways. This season, though, deals with parental issues and, I can't lie, it's kicking my ass. Every single episode makes me bawl with one emotion or another. I cannot recommend this series highly enough but I can strongly urge you not to watch it in bleak February. Perhaps June is better. I would also like to know how the Netflix discs can have such an uncanny ability to skip only at the highest emotional points.

8. Some role playing between a mother and two sons on the subway. Each one had an animal figurine. The older boy was Mothra ("No I'm not, I'm a butterfly!), the mom was some kind of dragon ("I wonder where I got this horn.") and the younger boy was Godzilla ("He doesn't talk."). Godzilla did a lot of hitting and biting. The mother used her character for a teaching moment about using your words. She went on and on with all the useful stuff. "He can't talk. He must be very frustrated. Ow, Godzilla. Please stop. I don't like it when you do that. I'm going over here and I'm not going to play with you." She tried to teach him to talk. She tried to model good monster behavior. She included him in their impromptu baseball game. Then she started in on that, "He can't use his words and he seems to be upset. We have to help him use his words and find out what's bothering him." So Godzilla redoubled his efforts and poked her dragon over and over and over again. I kind of dug Godzilla even though he kept kicking me with his big slushy moon boot.

9. A guy who was so concerned about being chivalrous that he leapt back from a doorway so that the woman approaching him could exit unimpeded and stepped on my toe. Twice.

10. Some delicious Chinese pastries, the ones with the sweet dough and the hot dog running through them. Mmmmmm, I should have just seen not eaten. But I did both.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Good Rainy Day Dogs

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Also Important But...

I went to a Ben Affleck movie and there was a Matt Damon trailer before it began and...

Wait, you know, there's some serious shit going down in the world these days. You should be paying attention to those things instead of the frivolous little thing I'm about to tell you. Go read Bossy's comprehensive yet accessible primer on Egypt and what's going on there. Go read the Feministing round up of information on HR3, the bill that the GOP is concentrating on right now instead of on the economy or jobs or anything they talked about in their campaigns. Short version is that it's going to restrict (read: near eliminate) federal funding for abortion and it had language in it that was going to redefine the federal use of the word rape to include only instances in which the woman was beaten in conjunction with the rape, then they took that out because lo many women asked, "I'm sorry, what? So unless he punches the shit out of me the forcible introduction of his penis into my orifices doesn't count as rape?" And the GOP said, "Shhhhhhhh!" And then they took that specific language out but they're still trying to get all up in my cunt AND by even introducing it they've proved that it's not really about the fetuses, it's about devaluing women, which is what I've been saying all along. Whew!

Then when you're done with that stuff and feeling properly informed, not to mention despondent, come back here and read this fluff.

I was indeed seeing The Company Men this afternoon and there were many previews and one of them was for a Matt Damon/Emily Blunt movie and it got me to thinking. What is the most intense, truthful, important exchange between a romantically inclined couple on screen? You might think it would be the I love you part or the I can't live without you one or the one where he stands outside her window holding up a boom box and playing Peter Gabriel tunes. It isn't.

The most important exchange between an on screen couple is the following. They are at an impasse. There is time pressure in the form of a chase or a plan or a pregnancy in progress. Finally one half of the couple takes the other by the hand, looks intensely into his or her eyes and says, "I need you to trust me." There's a beat, sometimes more, hell sometimes they walk away and come back a week later but eventually, usually quite soon, especially in the event of the chase scenario, the other person takes a deep breath and....nods.

If you want to grab your audience, if you want your characters and their connection to be believable, you don't do it with love, you do it with trust.

Seems like that's something we might want to keep in mind out here in the regular, non-celluloid, world as well.