Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Oil. Me.

My friend, TA, was diagnosed with a chronic illness a number of years ago. She's controlling it, with a lot of success, largely by exercise and a very low fat diet. Back when she first started doing this I was at a restaurant with her. Near the end of the meal she offered me the last 2 shrimp from her plate saying that she'd had enough fat for the day and knew she couldn't eat them. This has remained burned in my brain as one of those how-do-they-do-that moments, along with people who are double jointed or walk across hot coals or know how to get out of a relationship when it isn't good for them. Never understood it, and part of me probably didn't believe that she actually could "know" such a thing.

Changing my tune.

I now seem to have a chronic thing that can't be glorified by the name illness. It's more of a chronic annoyance. Or a chronic kick in the pants.

I am chronically dehydrated. You'd think this would a. not be that big a deal and b. be pretty easy to fix.

Well, yes. And no.

I found out about it because I was having trouble with my eyes, I was afraid my eyesight was being damaged. Eye doctor said he couldn't find anything and I should talk to a sinus guy. So I found a sinus guy. And he explained that I had a sinus infection because I was dehydrated and the inside of my head was essentially cracking and peeling which he advised putting a stop to.

I did my best.

And I found it annoying.

I stopped taking the lovely allergy and cold meds that make you sleepy and not stuffed up. Many thousands of humidifiers were purchased and filled and refilled and tended. Many thousands of gallons of water were drunk. Every. Fucking. Day. And as a result many thousands of trips to the potty were made, thus turning me into the person I hate who has to stop mid commute to pee. This is NYC, we walk, we take public transport and we don't have public bathrooms. Having to pee is a weakness, and you all know what Darwin taught us about the weak members of the herd! And last but not least I started washing out the inside of my head regularly. This is a process too gross even to be exploited for internet interest.

And I seemed to find balance.

But then it wasn't so much winter anymore and I was feeling better. So I didn't fill the humidifiers as often and I drank water but I wasn't all freaky about being certain I got every last drop of the daily 3 million gallons and I did occasionally indulge in an alcoholic beverage and not ruin the buzz by chugging 4 large glasses of water afterwards. I felt OK, I'd commence the head rinsing whenever I felt symptoms start to recur. It was a nice system. Not too restricting and yet I wasn't in horrific pain, a sweet deal.

Then there were a couple of days where I had this weird cold and the blahs. A week after I conquered that my ear started to hurt. And then REALLY hurt, it was distracting and awful and OTC pain meds weren't even touching it and I was just waiting for the part where goo oozes out of your ear and you can't hear and the muscles of your face start to twitch.

Then I remembered, I have health insurance now!

So I convinced the nurse at my doctor's office to get me an emergency appointment the next day and went in. Verdict? Dehydration. Which had caused the skin inside my ears to crack and peel and bleed and get all fucked up. Since the bones that vibrate and make you hear stuff are very close to the surface they were now close to being exposed and so every time I moved my facial muscles I pulled on the cracked skin and cause more pain to radiate out from the bad place.

The cure? Drink more water. OK, that wasn't the only thing. There were ear drops and also, I should probably oil my ears.

What am I, the freaking Tin Man?

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that I really do have a chronic problem. I'm realizing that I'm going to have to start being more methodical about how I take care of the problem and I'm going to have to actually start listening to my body on this score. I think I'm finally understanding how TA did her fat calculation party trick. With a few false starts I may be able to learn it.

I'm not great with doing stuff that's good for me though. I really don't want to know where this annoyance will crop up next, though, if I'm careless.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Good Morning Brooklyn!

Time: 5:30 am

Place: My bedroom and the courtyard RIGHT BELOW my window

Cast: Me
The same damn kids that have been hanging out below my window every warm night since I moved here

Kid #1: mumble mumble mumble

Kid#2: You call me a bitch? Did you call me a bitch? No, no, DID YOU call me a bitch. I ain't a bitch, you a Bitch! Don't EVER fucking call me a bitch. No, don't, don't you EVER call me a bitch. That's my word. That's MY word. DON'T you call me a bitch. Did you call me a bitch? DID YOU call me a bitch?


Until led away by some blessed soul who I would like to kiss on the lips...and advise to start the leading away process earlier next time.

Kid #1: Mumble, mumble.

Kid #3: Giggle

Kid #1: Mumble

And they left.

Now every time they sit under my window I think about going down there. Maybe asking politely for them to leave, maybe asking where their mothers live so I can go talk to them, maybe asking where they live so I know where to stand and talk bullshit for half an hour say at 6am on a Monday when I know they're sleeping because they've JUST left the courtyard below my window.

This time, though, I thought, school is still in session, I'm gonna go down and ask after this kid's English teacher. Because the debate team is missing a gem here. I think the key here is his skillful twisting of the language, of doublespeak and double entendre. The whole "that's my word" thing? It could mean, "Bitch is my word and no one else is allowed to use it." Or it could mean "I give you my word of honor that I will make good on my (somewhat vague) threat of physical violence should you call me that again." In the scoring process keeping the judges guessing is always smart. I also hear that filling your 2 minutes is important, which he did with ease. And last, but not least, the courage of your convictions. He absolutely felt that his side of the argument was the right side and he was willing to stand up for it despite having somewhat limited research with which to back up his facts. That can be rectified, though, and I'm sure his English teacher will be able to give him the tools to work with. I'd even be willing to go in an volunteer to tutor a couple of afternoons a week if they need extra help.

Maybe he'll show up again tomorrow morning and I can get the number for his school.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bits and Bobs

Quote of the week comes from PonyPonyPony, "We just fit together, like maple syrup and snow." Something really sexy about that.

It sucks that Joan of Arcadia was canceled and for that someone should be punished.

I noticed in the trash in the ladies' room today a scratch off lottery ticket. Is it just me or are we all picturing someone hunched up on the seat with her panties around her ankles spending a carefree 15 or 20 minutes in the john scratching lottery tickets?

MarkyB's CD release party was awesome. More on that later, tomorrow maybe.

I finished writing my play and outlook is good that it'll get a reading in MA at the beginning of July.

And there were probably 3 other things I was going to include here that I'll think of as soon as I hit post. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Starting Early

On today's wildly belated walk to the park with the dog I spent a few hundred yards walking behind a pair of approximately six-year-old girls holding hands. Girl A leans over to speak confidentially to Girl B.

Girl A: Do you know that I'm scared to say Henry's name?

Girl B: Why?

Girl A: I'm afraid that if I do someone might think I like him. I don't know why, but I'm afraid.

As you grow up, young lady, so many things will change.

And so many will stay exactly the same.

Good luck and godspeed in figuring them out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Oh, no you didn't!

If you're saving the season finale of Gilmore Girls for viewing later don't read this post.

Fucker! Fucking fuckers! Amy Sherman Palladino is a minion of hell and her husband stands at her right hand!

It was perfect.

I watched the previews:

"One of these people will say these words"






And then it was 8:58 and no one had said them and I KNEW that, as usual, the preview was just a tease and the proposal would be fake or entirely unearned. They've done it with other things, most recently Lorelei's pregnancy scare, and I was sure it was going to be a pattern. The gentle beginning of a downward spiral. I mean, they're setting the groundwork for Lorelei to start traveling around the world and everyone knows that as soon as the characters start working in front of a green screen of the Vatican or the Seattle Space Needle it's downhill from there. You did see the last season of Roseanne didn't you?

But then.

At 8:59 no less.

Luke's diner.

Lorelei is wigging, everything she stands on is dissolving and Luke, well, Luke is being Luke and he's not offering good solutions but he's offering solutions and he's giving everything he has. He is using the word "we" like it's the last oar in a life boat off the Titanic.

And we're listening to him and watching her and you see her decide and...

"Luke, will you marry me?"

Reaction shot, Luke.



Perfection. Beautifully acted, beautifully written and exactly what many of us have been waiting for since this damn show started.

Yeah, I know, there are 30 million ways they can screw it up or blow it off or retroactively fail to earn this moment.

But I've got all summer before that.

Growing Root

Do you ever see just a part of someone you know but on someone else?

Let me 'splain. This happens to me a lot, mostly with hands, sometimes with lips. I'll see someone I don't know walking down the street and part of them will look exactly like someone I know.

Today it was Carl (sorry Carl, I couldn't come up with a pseudonym). I happened to be walking into the park behind a young dad and his approximately 2 year old charge. I'd been following them for a couple of blocks and this dad was a master at guiding without touch and following this luminous little boy's whims. They investigated some flowers, hung out with a few people on a stoop and were navigating the stairs at the park entrance when I caught up to them. The boy was insistent that he didn't need to hold a hand so Dad let go, but leaned down and held a hand, hovering, a bare inch behind his son, ready to support him if his wobbling turned to falling. And that gesture was Carl. It was Carl's hand with Carl's wedding ring placed just so on it and it was a gesture that spoke so strongly of Carl that I nearly asked the guy if he was Carl's brother. Having met Carl's brothers I know that he wasn't so I let it go. You know how hard it is for me to let stuff go so I get a pat on the back for this.

And all that reminded me that I failed to mark the entrance into this world of Little Root.

Pseudonyming her took me a while. I thought I'd go with something reminiscent of her dad, my cousin, TG. TinyG? G Tiny? TG Redux? Or maybe I'd work with her mom, LP, and call her 45RPM. At the end of my park walk I decided I'd rather play with her real name, so I pseudonymed her Root.

Root arrived on Mother's Day, much to the excitement of her parents. I don't know about TG but I suspect that having a root is something that LP has wanted for a long time.

TG has nothing if he has not energy. Hence the carefully inclusive mass e-mail of about 30 pictures of Root three days after she was born. She's gorgeous! Pretty reddish hair and these long gangly baby limbs. She looks like the prettiest little frog you ever saw. I am unreasonably excited by her appearance and I hope I'll get to see her in person soon.

Welcome Root! This is the world, I think you're going to like it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Yank Me Swap

A friend of mine is getting married in August. Chili is throwing her a wedding shower. For some reason this makes the Bride uncomfortable so she's found a way to make it feel better for her, she's making it a Yankee Swap.

First off let's be clear, it's her engagement, her wedding, her life so she has every right to do whatever she wants and my opinion is of no consequence. That being said, my opinion is that a Yankee Swap is the cruelest form of gift giving known to man. It manages to combine the worst stereotypes of New Englanders. It is at once frugal and isolationist, using both "virtues" to express repressed anger. Which I guess makes it wicked efficient too.

Now, those of you who live outside this particular Yuletide Circle of Hell are probably wondering what a Yankee Swap is. I'll do my best to make it clear.

There's a party. You're invited. At the bottom instead of a dress code it says, "Yankee Swap, $10 limit." I mean, really, dress code? It's going to be like 30 below, the dress code is anything that protects your privates from chapping. As for the swap, you purchase a $10 gift that would be appropriate for anyone in attendance. So, a nice pair of earrings is appropriate if it's a group of chicks from the secretarial pool but not so much if it's your couples golf league. If it's the guys from the biker bar then I guess you've got a 50-50 shot.

A word about the gifts. In keeping with our frugal nature, if the limit is as much as $20 it's a fucking black tie event. The collection of gifts usually runs the gamut from plastic penis mug to paperweight with kissing kittens. Except for one. Almost every Yankee Swap has one newbie or latent Martha Stewart who spends time and energy to find the PERFECT $10 gift, thoughtful, useful and fun, possibly even hand made. This person is generally under the foolish assumption that every attendee will do the same thing. The truth is that most of these people take their swap gift home, put it away (often in the same wrapping paper, painstakingly removed to avoid tearing) and bring it back to the same swap the next year. If you have an annual Yankee Swap with the same group you can pass around the same shitty gifts for a decade or more.

OK, on to the swapping part. You show up at the party, you put your swap gift under the tree, you have a couple of drinks and some cocktail weenies and wait. Eventually the Mistress of Darkness, I mean, the hostess calls everyone to gather around the tree for the Yank Me Swap. She's got numbers on little pieces of paper in a hat and everyone picks one out. In order to inflict maximum suffering you want to choose #1. At this point I wish I could use diagrams but you'll have to just work with me.

Person #1 picks a present and opens it. "Oh yay, the Penthouse Flashlight Keychain/condom holder. Fabulous!"

Person #2 picks a present and opens it. They can then keep the present they opened OR switch it for the present that Person #1 got. "No, you know, I already have a condom holder and it doesn't get a lot of use, I'll keep this slightly dented box of penis shaped pasta."

Person #3 then opens a gift and can choose to keep it or trade it with either of the people that come before her. "You know, I've already got a bright orange scarf with the Dukes of Hazard logo on it, and I have a hell of a time finding my condoms in my purse and it's always nice to have a little extra light when you're rolling those slippery bastards on so, tough luck Bernie, here's a scarf, fork over the condom holder."

And so on until you've opened the last gift. The crowning achievment of the Crankee Swap is that Person #1 then has his or her choice of all the gifts that have gone before. "Ha HA! Victory is MINE! I've been waiting for that handmade testicle cozy for years, I don't care that you've had a decade long case of blue balls Mort, my sac's gonna be toasty warm this winter. Here's a scarf, maybe you can jury rig something with the part that has Daisy Duke's shorts on it."

A die hard Swapper gets situated right by the tree and watches each gift with a gleam in his eye. He's got Swap Calculus going on in his head as each gift is opened. He calculates personality times number chosen divided by a specific prime number assigned to this year's newbie and lies in wait. It's the sort of thing that should have its own special on Animal Planet.

You can also layer the underlying malice of the event with whatever neuroses your particular group has lying around. So, for instance, Yankee Smackdown with my mom's family is like adoption day at the Whippet Rescue Society. Wide eyes, a lot of generally nervous shivering and the possibility that someone will pee on the carpet before the night is through. The family motto comes from my grandmother and is her advice for what to say when you are on the verge of a disagreement with someone, "You may be right but I don't think so."

I am a big fan of the passive-aggressive.

She is my hero.

This translates to Yankswap by making everyone too afraid of swapping because it's impolite to take something that someone else might enjoy. And Grammy likes everything to be polite. Yet, Grammy's sister is a stickler for rules and it won't be an actual swap unless swapping occurs. So eventually someone cracks under the pressure and makes a shuddering swap accompanied by profuse apologies and usually in order to obtain the crappiest gift so they can play the martyr card if need be, "I hate banana flavored chewing gum and I thought you did too. I was trying to make sure you didn't get stuck with them. Jeez! Next time you be the swapper." Yeah, not a lot of condom holders getting exchanged in that family, usually After 8 Mints and Canada Mints and Mint tea, pretty much anything in the mint species.

The Bride says that she goes in to every Yankee Slap expecting to get crap and planning to enjoy the fun of it. I had no idea she had that sadistic streak. Good to know while I'm shopping for a shower gift.

Anyone have a flashlight in the shape of Barry Manilow (batteries not included) that I can wrap up?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


In the past week I have received the following 2 messages via electronic communications.

"I still love ya and think of you often. Be well."


"Luv ya! Just wanted you to know that."

2 different guys.

Neither of whom I'm dating.

Translation please?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Love you, Mom. Nice tat!

Once a month Pony Express and I get together with a group of friends for brunch. The cast list varies with availability and the whole point of the gathering is to vary the location but we do have one fixed tradition, Mother's Day. On Mother's Day we gather at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village. It's the unofficial home of our brunch group. My mom happened to be in town for it once, Pony Express' mom sometimes comes in and aside from that we're open to any and all mothers. We had 3 this year as well as a few non-mom attendees, Marky B, C-ann and SK was in from the land of William Wallace.

I am well aware that my mom is not my only mom. I grew up with a number of female role models who took their resopnsibility as part of the proverbial village fairly seriously. I try to keep up the good work with the next generation. I don't know that I'm quite as successful as, say, Auntie Blanche, but I try and it's the thought that counts, right?

As such I spent a lot of time at yesterday's brunch talking to, drawing with, cuddling and giving and receiving raspberries (aka Zrrbits, tm Bill Cosby) with Alita. Oddly enough I was the one who got restless in my seat, not her. So, near the end of brunch I included C-ann in our Zrrbiting extravaganza. Then I carried Alita over to Marky B to give him the gift of toddler saliva which he received with great good humor. But still, I didn't feel like going back to my seat where Carmencita was being read the riot act by BeBe. So off we wandered. As we got to the end of the table I noticed something I'd never seen before. SK has an elaborate tattoo on her lower back and her shirt had ridden up showing it off. Completely oblivious to the line of toddler logic along which I had been leading Alita I pressed my finger to SK's spine and said, "Hey, look at that. Isn't that cool?"

Alita leaned down and gave it a good raspberry!

Thank GOODNESS everyone laughed or I would have felt really, really bad. SK wins the good sport trophy for the day. OK, well, she shares it with C-ann who happily took Alita to the restroom with her, something I weaselled out of.

Moms are cool! And so are Zrrbits.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I'm OK

Yes, this happened.

Yes it's very close to my office.

No, theres no serious damage.

Yes, I had to come to work today.

No, my commute wasn't affected.

No, I don't think that there will be other incidents following.

Yes, I'm OK, perfectly fine.

Thanks for asking, though.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I do love it I do I do I do!

My love of New York is well established. The only person who is still shaky on the committment I've made is my mom and I guess that's understandable. Here's another in the long list of reasons why.

My friend, Carolann , is a member of a new band, Red Molly . They don't play in New York very often and they were playing last night, doing a song in a group show. I didn't really pay attention to what the evening was all about, I just wanted to hear the new group so I headed down.

First, it was at the Parkside Lounge . You know the biker bar in the beginning of Terminator 2 ? Parkside was probably the model for that. There's a performance space in the back where they have comedy and music most nights. I've been there before to see the Brian Mitchell Band with Pony Express.

Turns out that it was an evening of Bluegrass dedicated to singer/songwriter Jimmy Martin . I didn't expect to see a ton of people there. Neither did Carolann. She and the rest of Red Molly had expected it to be a very low key event so they arrived in jeans, boots and cowboy shirts.

Um, no.

I've never been to the Grand Ole Opry so I'm really only going by what I've seen on Hee Haw and in Coal Miner's Daughter , but I'm pretty sure that this evening was a really well done replica of the Opry. The women wore big skirts with crinolines, the men wore hats or fancy vests or full suits. And MAN could these people play! BanjoBen , The Dixie Bee-Liners, Sherriff Good Times, The Cobble Hillbillies , Astrograss Astrograss and, of course, Red Molly.

I had so much fun, and it was great to hear people who can really play and sing. Red Molly was wonderful. I know it's not the sound they generally sing but they can sing like nobody's business!

And what makes it an I Love New York story is that the place was fucking PACKED. People were waiting to get into the back room, were squeezing into bench seats and they kept on coming right up until I left around midnight. A little while before we left Carolann turned to me and said, "Would you ever have believed there was a scene like this in New York?" And I'd been thinking the exact same thing. You really can get everything in New York, stuff you didn't even know you wanted.