Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bits, bobs, pieces, parts, blah, blah, blah and, of course, fishcakes

Not much of note to say but a lot of little things.

1. Mr. Sorkin WHY THE SNAKES? I've been freaking defending your ass and providing constructive criticism and generally calling you a sexy beast for years now and this is how you repay me. Thanks. No, really, thanks so much. Please send @mbien.

2. So, this is happening. It would never have occurred to me that this was an issue. This year my NYC birthday celebration was in a bar. Attendees included but were not limited to 2 mothers, 1 pregnant woman, 1 father to be, and a 5 year old. Had there not been a Patriots game on (*crosses self, kisses thumb*) we probaby would also have had a 10 month old and his father in attendance. I understand that it's unusual that we had a 5 year old there but I would have assumed that we'd get the hairy eyeball for being disruptive rather than for drinking in the presence of an impressionable young person. (Full disclosure I received comments on the 5 year old's impeccable behavior. No one commented on my or Alex's behavior while we played with her, I suspect we weren't such good kids.)

3. I'd like to take Tai Chi, again it's a question of finding a place I like that has a good schedule for me and I haven't a clue where to start with that.

4. Thank you for the kind offers of yoga instruction. You are forcing me to admit yet another way in which I am nutso crazy. I don't like to exercise in front of other people. If I have to do so it is far preferable to exercise in front of strangers than friends. To be taught something I'm so inexperienced in by someone I know would be wildly humiliating in my very core. Again, I do thank you so very kindly for the offers and I will consider them carefully...you know, if I have a pretty sharp movement toward sanity.

5. The whole yoga comments section has me thinking about doing 1 post a week that's direct response to comments. There's so much going on in there and I don't get around to responding enough.

6. I read an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal today (hee, I sound so smart and up to date, not to worry, it was given to me by my boss) that compares and contrasts the "solutions" to the Iraq "problem". Have you checked these proposals out? Because, really, there are no good answers, however, the only one with a snowball's chance of success might be this asinine escalation. And, worse than that, escalation might even be the only honorable way out. I suspected this months and months ago but I hate to hear it.

7. Reading Lolita in Tehran is profoundly disturbing while still not being a very compelling read.

8. Go check out what Kath said about Jack. She includes a classic Halloween photo of Jack and Emily together and her last line is what brought this loss home to me. They should live forever, they deserve it so much more than the rest of us.

9. Class reunions - pro or con? Be sure to tell me why. Because it's important to me, that's why.

10. If I had one more thing I could participate in 10 Things Tuesday.

Happy Tuesday All. Wish me luck. Nope, I'm not sure on what just looking for some luck. Damn, I'm greedy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Long Live the King

Jack was a dear friend of Emily's from our early days in the neighborhood. He was the lawnmower man, with a hilarious sort of panting that could be heard all the time. He was always smiling even the last time I saw him, just a day before he died. He is already sorely missed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Not just a drinking game

Bobby is hanging out here for a couple of hours. You remember Bobby, right?

If he's left alone too long sometimes Satan starts to speak to him and property damage ensues so I brought him over for a little visit. He's been very good. Not perfect but not Devil Dog, either. Sort of mellow with a side of "What does that taste like?". Mostly it's been business as usual.


In over a decade of dog owning, walking and sitting I have never had someone snout aside the shower curtain to see what I'm doing in there.

Until today.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bad boss, no biscuit!

There aren't any specific spoilers here but if you haven't seen last night's Studio 60 you might want to just come back to this one later.

What the hell just happened here? I know that his press statement said they were refocusing the show on relationships but did I miss the part where they they put a cap on the number of words per episode that they'd film? Did they rejigger the actors' contracts to allow for weekly bonuses based on minutes of "smell the fart acting" performed?

Slow is what I'm saying here. And slow is not Sork.

Or vice versa.

I suspect someone told him that he had to slow down so the plebes could catch up. That's a shitty thing to do to Sork and to the plebes, frankly. I don't know whether to be more pissed that the proverbial "they" allegedly said it or that Sork allegedly listened.

"We" are not amused.

Grimly inspiring

This post contains a graphic image and links to graphic images that will not be safe for work. Please be thoughtful as you read.

Chili is talking about observation as a tool for writers. In so doing she's expressing anew her love of a painter named Samuel Bak. I was in attendance for the high school class she taught with the painting she includes in the entry. It was amazing and interesting and I loved both the painting and the observations of the students. I made a promise to myself that I'd seek out more of Bak's work, I should get on that.

Last week I caught the Annie Liebowitz exhibit just before it closed. I love photography and I've always been drawn to portraiture. I like Singer-Sargent, I like a good headshot photographer, I like Liebowitz. For the most part I only knew Liebowitz's celebrity work for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. Me and the rest of America. So it was amazing to see the rest of her work and to see how they're all, of course similar.

Liebowitz says that she's a hack because she's almost solely observational. She doesn't use a lot of processes on her prints and she doesn't mess around with fancy depth of field shots or anything. She looks at things and clicks the shutter. Some might say that her more fanciful set ups, like Whoopi in the milk bath, are gimmicky and not observational but I disagree. What I like most about those shots is that it's always seemed as thought she observed the subject and found a quirky set up that magnified what she saw inside them. Nobody thinks of Jodi Foster as a glittery girly girl but we can see that glitter inside her, Annie just put it on the outside and let her live that in a photo. Check out her portrait of Ellen Degeneres for an even more complicated instance.

Bak's paintings make me think of a photographer I fell in awkward love with over a decade ago, Joel-Peter Witkin. I have only seen his photos, I haven't done any research on the man so I can't tell you what makes him do what he does (did?). They are fairly grotesque and feature people who are disfigured, maimed and generally not pretty. But somehow there's a glimmer of something gorgeous, or rather something that used to be gorgeous and has been ruined. Like Liebowitz I think that he tends to see what's inside and pull it out to drape it on the surface. I built a dance-theatre piece around the picture below, Woman Once a Bird, and I remain fascinated by the implications of it. The story I told in my piece was of how she got that way but it was superficial, not nearly enough to really get to how this could happen.

So many of us write to get through a horrible time but I think it's the visual arts that have more leeway to truly convey the emotion of horrors like that. They have a divine ability to combine the beauty and the horror in some of the worst experiences.

I couldn't agree more with Chili about how important observation is for a writer. It's no coincidence that every other blogger out there has a Flickr account. Go out and look at something for a while today, will you? You'll love it, I promise.

More treats for everyone

Go read these two lovely posts about our old friend Charley. Then go give your beloved pets an extra treat...or 17.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I've got plenty to say, and I'm thinking a whole lot more than that. Oh and, also, exactly how many of you teach yoga for cripes sake? Show of hands, please?

But I aggravated my old whiplash dealio so, all I've got for you today is, I just love this kid. He's awesome.

On Friday we hung out and we took a little jaunt to a coffee place that shall not be named to people watch. We were just sitting there, me in my uncomfortable plastic lawn chair and him in his stroller, and stroller bag and winter coat and harness and possible some sort of air bag, looking at the various fauna of a remote Brooklyn neighborhood. Then, out of the blue, his little hand just reached over and scratched me gently on the knee. I looked down and and he looked at me briefly as if to say, "Hey, just checking in." then looked back at the sidewalk. But he kept his hand there. So I picked it up and we held hands quietly for a while. It was really nice.

I just love him.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's a club

This post will contain specific Grey's Anatomy spoilers for last Thursday's episode. You have been warned.

Tonight George's father died. He was very ill and George had to make the call to tell his mother to unplug the life support. George is in the room with his brothers and his mom and then, as we'd expect, all his hospital brothers and sisters (even Korev!) are outside the room waiting. He walks right past them and then Christina (Christina? Yeah, Christina.) follows him. She catches up with him in an alley outside and she says (paraphrasing), "There's a club. The dead dad's club and you can't be in it until you're in it. I'm sorry you're in the club, George."

George says, "I don't know how to exist in a world that doesn't have my father in it."

And Christina says, "Yeah, that never really changes."

I've always thought of it like that. I have a few friends (and you know, my dad) who have lost one or both parents. So I keep waiting for one of them to step in and say to Steph & Bud, "..." well, to basically say exactly what Shonda Rimes had Christina say. To welcome them to the club, albeit with regret, and thereby let them know...I don't know that there's something.

No one's stepping up.

Which makes me feel like Shonda Rimes isn't telling the truth.

Or maybe not. But still it's not right. Someone should be assigned welcome wagon duties. There should be a basket and some sort of informational packet and, if it's not too much trouble, an intiation DVD.

Also chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Just around the corner

This is what Steph read at her mom's funeral mass. It is...just what I needed to hear? Steph has a lot of good things to say and this year she's planning to school me, and the rest of the internet, in some music we may be missing. Go check her out if you're interested in joining the class.

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effort, without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind just because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.

--- Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St Paul's Cathedral

Saturday, January 20, 2007

On yoga and death

So I went to that yoga class today. Wore my sweats and a tank with a tee over it. I was a little rattier than most of the women and about on par with the men which is about where I usually am.

I can't say that I'll never go to another yoga class ever again but it won't be any time soon and I'm pretty sure I'll never go to another class at that particular establishment. No, I don't blame them for my pain but their style probably isn't a good fit for me.

Since I got finished I've felt sick to my stomach, sad, humiliated, I've got some soreness and weakness in the legs, same with the right arm, and I know exactly when I injured the left arm. It's very weak now with pain in the bicep and wrapping around from the shoulder blade to the same point in front. Oh, and I've got a headache. It's low level generalized, completely separate from the pain that's radiating from the shoulder.

Here's the thing, I'm just not very strong physically. Really I'm not. I know this and I try to improve and it's why I took the basics class instead of the open class. Fortunately the web site specified that you should get some basics under your belt before you go to the open class. Imagine what I'd feel like if I'd taken the open class first. Maybe this class wasn't very basic, the teacher didn't specify a lot of modifications if you were having trouble and he did it all with pose names so if you didn't know any of them you were stuck looking around at other people. Which, frankly, wasn't a lot of help. Also there was no breaking down of different poses, showing you how they go or walking you through getting into them, it all happened - in theory - on your breath, which if you're struggling is pretty freaking quick. This combination made it really hard for me to follow mentally, and physically I was simply not up to the challenge. Things were held far longer than I was able to stand, almost every pose was one I wasn't strong enough to hold and I had no idea how to fix it. It's making me tear up just to talk about it because I felt like such an ass and so helpless.

I'll tell you the funniest thing about it just to stop that part. By the time we got to the first downward dog of the day (first) my hands were sweating. They were sweating so badly that they kept slipping. This meant that instead of relaxing into the pose and enjoying the stretch and the relative rest of it I was scrambling to find a purchase or kneeling and wiping my hands down or trying to figure out how to make myself stop sliding. It also took my focus away from my breath since I needed to calculate whether it would be considered rude to interrupt class by slipping and breaking my nose.

I'm aware that this makes me sound a bit like I fulfilled my own prophecy. The thing is, I'm aware that I learned stuff today. I'm aware that it wasn't a total loss, that it's a good thing that I went despite the fact that I hated it. Let's review, hated. The guy did a little Q&A about meditation and then we had a 10 minute meditation at the beginning. He made me feel better about my level of ability there. It's the first time someone has explained that learning process in a way that I understand. He compared it to teaching a puppy to walk on a leash, there's constant correction but not in anger and eventually the puppy sticks with it longer and it's all about...OK, you know what I'm saying, it's a good analogy for me since it's something I understand...and continue to struggle with daily despite my dog's advanced age.

That's the key here, I think. I'm finding this year that my lesson from the world is that I don't know as much as I think I know. I'd seen some yoga on TV, I'd done a tape once, I had a whole bunch of people telling me I was going to love it. (And to you people I say, "Yeah, thanks.") I didn't think I knew everything about it but I thought I knew enough to go into a class and feel marginally comfortable.

Some people like goals that are way ahead of them. Huge goals like when you're 5 and you decide you want to be a firefighter. Or when you're 50 and you decide you want to run a marathon. Not impossible goals but goals that are going to require a big helping of failure on a regular basis as the person learns. I am not that person. I like a smaller stretch. I like a goal that I have the skills for but maybe am not using them yet or need to practice them or whatever. I wouldn't say I wanted to run a marathon. I'd start with a goal to run a mile and see how it went. The failure sets me back a lot, gets me really down on myself and saps my motivation. I know, you're shocked to hear that, I'm usually such a cock eyed optimist, sorry to burst the bubble.

It turns out that when you blog you start to see certain things as being sure content for the blog. There are other things that are definitely not content and then a few things that you can't decide about or that you need to approach from a specific angle before you can write about them in public like that. The problem comes when you have one of the latter category but it's so consuming to the writing part of your brain that you can't quite write about anything else until you've handled this one thing.

That other thing is Mrs. X's funeral mass. I knew I had to write about it but I didn't know how much I could write about it or how and yet if I didn't I couldn't go on to something else. Then I took this stupid yoga class (yes, I'm three, yes, it's not very enlightened but tough I need it, stupid yoga class) and it was the same thing. Which should be a ridiculous joke about how close to death I feel right now but it's not. They're both things about which I thought I knew, not everything, but enough to be called a foundation and therefore I would have at least the tools to handle the new parts. Just running a mile, not a marathon, not even a 10K, just my little mile, longer than I want to run but not so far that I'm discouraged.

I was wrong.

I've been to a lot of funerals and memorials and burials in my time. I've been to a decent number of Catholic masses in my time, even. Turns out that, much to my surprise, I've never been to a funeral mass before. Man, are those ever impersonal. That's what I thought anyway. The music was almost entirely new, composed in the early 80s and I found it wildly boring. I like classic old school hymns with the 4 part harmony written out in the hymnal. Steph and Bud each read a short piece from the bible but aside from that the priest was the only other person who spoke. No, wait, I think the cantor did a couple of pompous introductions to hymns. It made me angry. I wanted something personal to hang onto. I kept blaming the priest and the church for making such an impersonal service and not letting us, as a congregation, have any of her. I thought maybe if I'd been going to mass regularly all my life that the ritual of it might have been comforting and I hoped that was why Mrs. X chose this type of service but mostly I was mad at the stupid church (stupid yoga!) for doing such a crap funeral.

Then Steph got up again. She read a beautiful piece that I'm not re-printing here until I ask her what she thinks about that (Steph, what do you think about that?). It was far and away my favorite part of the service. It was something that Mrs. X left behind and it was delivered in a way that let us know it was part of her and it said as much within the reading. In speaking about the reading, though, Steph explained that her mother had designed the service. She hadn't chosen readings but she'd chosen all the (wait for it) music.

I felt horrible. Hideous and unworthy. So I cried. Finally. But it wasn't really for Mrs. X it was for me. Which made me feel more horrible. In the one all to brief moment of silent prayer I simply thanked her and apologized over and over.

I don't remember when I realized that the mass had been personal. It wasn't right then. It might have been outside the church on the way to the reception. It might have been on the plane home that night. It might have been days later walking the dog in the neighborhood. I realized that she'd crafted a service of people. I suspect that Mrs. X's mass was this particular young priest's first funeral mass for a person he had known in life and through last rites. He told a story of Mrs. X asking him to play his viola for her. She was the only other person who had ever heard him play besides the other priest in the rectory. There was a harpist (yet another thing I was all pissed about). My mom spoke to her later, though, and found out that she's only been playing about a year and I don't know how Mrs. X met her but she'd had the harpist in to play for her before she died. Steph found that brilliant piece she read in her mother's night table. And the last hymn? It was Amazing Grace. My mom and I sang it in harmony.

I am so not done with this. I keep thinking that I am or that I at least know where I am in the process but I don't. I don't feel done with her. Me, the girl who really does believe that every time I see you is the last time, wasn't done yet. Mrs. X was the first woman friend I had who didn't know me as a kid or because of my parents. She just knew me as and for me and she liked me. Later she bridged that gap between being my friend and being my mother's friend in a way I can only hope to emulate as I grow up and have younger friends.

I want to tell you about the year ChemE and the kids and I made her a birthday cake. I want to tell you about ChemE's wedding shower at Mrs. X's house. I want to tell you about the last time I saw her and the way she, quite uncharactaristically, held my hand. I guess I will someday but I can't right now. It all seems sort of stupid (stupid yoga!) and useless and over-dramatized compared to how everyone else is feeling about it. While also feeling like it's not exactly right to publish all that. You know that feeling where if you say something out loud then you lose it? It feels like that.

Two words about yoga

Um, no.

More later, after I've cried myself to sleep.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cold as...

...a witch's tit in a brass bra face down in the snow.

OK, really it's not that cold. Which isn't to say it's not cold. More of a braless witch's tit sort of a cold. Possibly face down in the snow but a light snow, more of a dusting or a heavy frost.

It's the kind of cold that makes you just say "Balls!" when the shower isn't scalding hot.

Which has me thinking that it's more of a balls front slide into a snowbank kind of a cold. You know, like that guy in Mystery, Alaska who ratted out Ron Eldard's character for being...well, for being the kind of guy you're not even surprised is nicknamed 'Skank'.

Anyway, it's cold here. I'm wearing my padded bra, not for fashion, it's for warmth.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Whiner's Club Meeting in progress

If I were going to take a yoga class and learn some basics with a lot of tiny, hipster bendy people what would I wear?

I don't own any yoga pants.

I can't wear a body suit, I have belly rolls. And yes that's more a won't than a can't but it applies.

Harrumph! I can't go to yoga to get fit until I'm fit enough to dress for yoga!

La Streep reminds us:

"It's amazing how much you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it."

She was referring specifically to wider distribution for independent, controversial films but I feel sure she would agree that it applies to everything.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Make this day better

There is a little girl who has some questionable luck with birthdays. There is a combination of a January birthday and her insistence on living in New England. Also a small town to be factored in and a family.

On many birthdays it snows. Or sleets. Or sleets then ices up then snows on top of it. In a town where nobody delivers pizza they really don't deliver it when the roads are treacherous.

Cakes? They almost never appear unless she makes them herself.

Presents? OK, there are usually presents.

This year, though, she and I exchanged presents before Christmas so I'm not even contributing to that part today. There's nothing I can do about the pizza thing.

Help a sister out, will you? Go send the Pretty Pretty (Ass Kicking) Princess a birthday greeting in her comments section. Let's make this a good birthday, even if it is sleeting and wintry mixing all over her curly, curly locks.

Happy Birthday Chili! Here's to a year of fabulousness, fun and pizza.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Something to come home to

As most of you know I'm headed off to a funeral. Memorial service. Whatever you want to call it somebody died. A different funeral than the one I was planning on going to even.

Anyway, not taking my computer, won't have web access, nothing to see here until at least Sunday. So if you're a delurker or a regular reader or even someone I'm going to see this weekend please leave a comment. Tell me something funny or happy or bizarre so I have something fun to come home to.


And thank you.

Oh, and have a nice weekend if you're not going to a funeral and if I'm not going to see you.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

De-lurk and tell me what your favorite poem is

This one is not, necessarily, my favorite but it is quite a good one and it is important this week.

Cat's Funeral
by E.V. Rieu

Bury her deep, down deep,
Safe in the earth’s cold keep,
Bury her deep—

No more to watch bird stir;
No more to clean dark fur;
No more to glisten as silk;
No more to revel in milk;
No more to purr.

Bury her deep, down deep;
She is beyond warm sleep.
She will not walk in the night;
She will not wake to the light.
Bury her deep.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Abandon hope all ye who lurk here

According to Sweetney it's National De-Lurking Week again. (I am using the De-Lurking image from her site, if this is a violation of anything in even the smallest way please someone let me know and I will take it down immediately if not sooner.)

Trust me this will all make sense in a minute but for now, this warning is all you're getting for a segue.

I found this site while researching a little hockey. Go on, I'll wait here while you click, the rest of the post isn't going to make any sense at all if you don't click. It's totally safe for work, I promise.

I do understand that it's definitely unladylike and probably some version of inhumane to condone a site like this. I also understand how weird it is that I'll go to this site and will scream bloody murder and applaud Brendan Shanahan's first "successful" fight in years but will not watch boxing. In addition to all this I heartily disagree with my new favorite hockey blogger, James Mirtle, (yes I have a favorite hockey blogger, I told you this would be a controversial post) who said of a nasty, pre-meditated and injurious fight last night, "None of these guys enjoy dropping the gloves; it's what they do to play in the league...". Um, none is a little strong. I am lucky to have had seats very close to the ice and directly behind the penalty box for the past couple of years and I can actually see the expressions on their faces. There are nights when glee is not too strong a word. Getting injured, I'm sure, is not among their favorite workplace activities but throwing down the gloves? There are those who at least give the impression of living for it.

Most people are going to ask you to de-lurk this week and tell them where you're from, how long you've been reading, what your own url is. This is all good information and information I'd be glad to have so, please include it but let's mix it up a little, too. Go ahead and tell me a little but about how awesome/insane/disturbing you find it that I get kind of a kick out of that site and that I immediately watched the headlining video of a nice young man getting injured despite the fact that it made me over-brush my teeth, accidentally drool toothpaste on my keyboard and late to work.

I'm still on Old Blogger (Old as the hills, Old Blogger walked up hill to school 9 miles every day. Barefoot! In the snow!!). I've still got access to all sorts of sitemeter info. I know where you're coming from, I know where you live and I know how many of you there are. Let's get to know eachother personally, shall we? The comments section awaits. Or you could even e-mail me if you're shy, there's a link in the sidebar. It's OK if we disagree. Just know that if you come for me I will pull your shirt over your head and swing ineffectually at your lats while we circle around on the ice until we either get dizzy and puke or the ref pulls us apart.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Just a number?

It's really no wonder my concept of home decoration is what it is. In the house I grew up in the only available full length mirror was of the $10 cardboard-backed variety. It wasn't mounted on the wall it was propped here and there in the tiny upstairs hallway, wherever the viewer wanted it most.

Probably my first memory is of waking up on my fourth birthday and going to look in that mirror. It was leaning against the doorframe of my room and the sun was coming into the hallway where I stood from my room in those clear beams that make everything look very soft focus. I was wearing something blue, I think just a pale blue long sleeved shirt and underwear, no pants.

I looked in that mirror and I felt four. My legs were longer than they'd been the night before, so was my hair and it was wavy and maybe even blonder. I was old. I knew things. I was ready to take the world by the balls and it felt great.

Monday, January 08, 2007

One Down for Double! Oh! Seven!

I cooked tonight.

The thing is, it's not that I can't cook it's that it takes a ton of mental effort for me. If I cooked every night I wouldn't do anything else. I can handle like a one cook a week thing where you freeze a lot of things and warm them up all week. That involves being inspired and having ingredients once a week, though. Preparedness is also not a well-honed skill of mine.

Let's not dwell on the negative (let's make today different in some measure from the rest of the year so far)!

I cooked the following:

Pan blackened meatloaf - to be honest I kind of like it that way. I also like it as a dessert item. Lots of ketchup, lots of brown sugar, some bread crumbs, couple eggs, vinegar, mustard powder. It's been about 2 years since I made meatloaf. I'm clearly out of practice. It's a little mushy, too many breadcrumbs, and, you know, the whole pan blackening issue. But it still tastes pretty good.

Brussels Sprouts - If my mother ever reads this she will keel over from shock at this line. I cooked Brussels Sprouts. It's not a typo. Despite Sara's help in giving me thoughts on how to roast the sprouts I chickened out. I cut, I peeled, I blanched (Sara, thank you also for teaching me how to blanch), I tossed in oil and herbs de provence, I cut in half and I saute/fried (not sure what I did, I put them in a pan with that oil and those herbs, what do you call it when you do that?). And, since that was the first thing that was done I ate a bunch of those on an empty stomach. I fear that very soon my entire intestinal system will explode and I will be blamed for the mysterious smell blanketing NY and NJ.

Roasted Carrots - A recent stand by, roasted in olive oil and herbs de provence (can you tell I've found one spice I feel comfortable with and am afraid to branch out?). So intensely awesome that I insisted on eating one straight out of the oven and consequently have millions of tiny little burns all over the inside of my mouth. Totally worth it.

Root Goup - A Pony Express invention that came out of necessity one night when we had three people eating, only enough potatoes for two people...but we had a sweet potato. So it's mashed potatoes but you use both white and sweet potatoes. So good. Especially with meatloaf. Most especially if some ketchup from your meatloaf gets on your root goup...you know, by accident. Crash used to do this thing when he shared food with me. He created the "perfect bite" the precise combination of all the elements of the dish to give you the full experience of it in one bite. The perfect bite of root goup actually is a forkful of goup, topped by a small piece of meatloaf and a squirt of ketchup. Divine!

As an aside with the goup thing, over Christmas I found the perfect kitchen tool for making mashed potatoes. Tough to come by but a well-muscled teenager with mild anger management issues makes an excellent potato masher. Especially when the teenager in question is "starving" and dinner is taking "forever" and you tell them that dinner will be ready if s/he will just mash the potatoes. I hear they're expensive but man, it's the least work I've ever had to do to make mashed potatoes.

So I've got no excuse for not eating my 3 veggies daily, right?

Sunday, January 07, 2007


When my grandfather died I took the train home from work and started making phone calls and pulling things out of closets and drawers and putting them haphazardly on the bed. Pony Express came by and started packing things for me. I kept apologizing for having too much stuff and she said, "When somebody dies you get to bring as many pairs of shoes as you want."

But then, not quite a month later, when I got the call to come see my grandmother I was housesitting and the brain can't even process that this is that call, not really, because it's just a month and you can't write something this foolish and ridiculous. So I ended up packing my dog, a black turtleneck, underwear, socks, one sweater, winter boots, jeans and that was about it. She died 24 hours later and I stayed the week and had to buy pants and shoes for the funeral. Aunt Rena convinced to me wear a sweater that Grammy had bought to wear at Christmas. It was red with black borders and black bows down the front, very Emily Gilmore, very Hartford, very lots of things...except me. I also carried Grammy's purse since I'd just packed everything in my New York purse, my backpack. It must have been her church purse because it had a dollar for the collection and a cloth handkerchief and an old church program in it.

That wasn't the last memorial service I went to that year. Not by a long shot. I've developed rules and plans and lists, disturbingly like Emily Gilmore, except that mine are all practical.

I was saying to my dad the other night that we really, neither of us, are at the age yet where we have to tweak our schedules to fit in all the memorial services of our friends and family. Except, if I'm honest, that's exactly what I had to do this week and it's what we did all year 6 years ago. As I hung up the phone with him I realized that my mind was already running through the list.

1. Black pants or cocktail dress, depending on your relationship to the deceased. Don't be caught in a backwater strip mall settling for a pair of high water gray slacks because you can't go in your jeans and that's all you packed. *As an aside, I did actually really love the shoes I bought that week and wore them relentlessly, even on the walk home on 9/11.

2. Small purse, preferably black.

3. Real, cloth handkerchief, at least one. One for you and, if you are supporting a more primary mourner, one for that person or persons.

*As an aside, little trick, in almost all situations you can find someone who could be construed to be more primary a mourner than you. You can find ways to support them and use this distance to get you through whatever awkward conversations, public speaking or meetings with wooden ministers that confront you. It will not, however, make any difference at all when you go home and are by yourself and are therefore the most primary mourner in that room.

4. Cough drops, I like orginal flavor Ricola. You want something mild so you don't stink of medicine but you need something so that you don't end up being that woman who coughed and cleared her throat through the whole service. Bring plenty. Share. You also don't want to sit next to the person who clears his or her throat through the whole service.

5. Pearls. Preferably all by themselves, no visible setting. At least earrings, ring and necklace optional. Understated a must. Exception to this rule is a situation wherein you have non-pearl jewelry that has significance to your relationship with the deceased.

6. Wrap, jacket, sweater or other means of keeping your teeth from chattering. Churches are cold and crying tends to deplete your resources.

7. Black shoes, widest heel possible, flat as you can stand given your outfit. There's a lot of standing around involved in memorials, often in grass, and you never get to set the schedule yourself so make sure your feet feel OK. Taking your shoes off and dancing on the bar at a wedding is a great story, taking your shoes off and dancing on the bar at a funeral is...well, not so much.

8. A watch. Don't be late. Ever.

9. Directions. Give yourself time to get lost. Even if you've been to that cemetary/church/funeral home/aunt's house a gazillion times you can still get lost. Ask me how I know.

10. Cash. If you don't get lost and if you leave too much time then you deserve a treat, a cocoa, a donut (powdered sugar not recommended), a candy bar and you want to make sure you have the money for it. Also tolls. And the collection plate if you get ambushed by that. Or I suppose valet parking, though I've never been confronted with that.

11. Pen and paper/business cards. You tend to see people you never see elsewhere. They tend to ask you weird stuff. Tell them to e-mail you later. Pen & paper is also useful if, at the last minute, you are asked to give some remarks and want to write something up.

12. Extra makeup. Don't put your face on and then leave the house. Put a little cover up, some mascara and lip stick in that small purse. I don't need to explain this one, do I?

That's it, I guess. There are variations, I suppose. Things that are specific to the occasion or to the location or the relationships but these are the basics. I may not have a lot of useful knowledge but I can pretty much guarantee that what useful knowledge I do have is weird.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I have poached this photograph from Steph's site without her permission. I hope she forgives me. I love the picture. The smile is vintage Mrs. X. She's really happy here, you can tell. Though I suspect that if she knew that Steph and I were spreading this picture around the internet we'd be getting an earful.

She died yesterday with her family around her and her cat at her feet.

I'm not going to Florida. I'm going to go to her memorial instead. I want to see Steph and Bud. Selfishly, too, I'm going because I won't be done, I won't feel the end of it, of her, if I don't go. I don't understand how the pioneers did it. I was watching Carnivale the other night and a member of the troop is killed. They bury her in the town where she died. Then they move on to the next town. No grave to visit. A lot of the people in the troop have left their families. Imagine someone going on tour and never coming back, never knowing where they're buried, not having the body returned to you. I don't know if I'd ever feel the person was gone.

They did something else in the episode, though, something I loved. Each member of the troop placed something of importance to them in the grave with the deceased. A dress, a pocket watch, a trading card, a scarf, a doll, things to send her off comfortably and well provided for. When I was 17 and my maternal great grandmother died I was charged to ride from the funeral home to the grave site with my great aunt and uncle. This meant I had to wait at the funeral home with my large, distraught great aunt while she finished her business with the funeral director. I was there when he handed Aunt Catherine a paper bag containing Grammy's wedding ring, her glasses and other personal effects. I was horrified. How would she see? Had she ever taken her wedding ring off before? Why would someone take it off now? I would have liked to have given her something to take with her instead but that wasn't an option.

I wish Mrs. X speed and peace. I miss her terribly.

Garnis (that's Fronch)

So this morning I find myself simultaneously making lunch for me to bring to work (per the 107 in Double! OH! Seven!) and feeding the pets. They are, as per usual, getting the solid gold premium pet food for their delicate domesticated systems. For myself I'm whipping up Lipton Side Dish Noodles (Parmesan!) with vienna sausages (for protein!) and peas (for veggies...sort of). I cut up the VS into little slices while the microwave was whirring through its first 7 minutes (I have the noodles down to a science. Mix ingredients. 7 minutes on high. Add VS. 5 minutes on high. Add peas. Stir. Eat. Burn tongue.) and still had time left so I got out all the platinum cans of pet food with the accompanying bags of silver studded kibble and started to feed the creatures before the nibbling on my toes became more insistent and/or debilitating. A quarter can of cat food in each cat's bowl and bing! I added a slice of Vienna sausage to each as a topper.

I garnished the cat food.

In a world where 99 times out of 100 I eat my food out of the container it was cooked in, and on the 100th time I eat it out of the container it was delivered in, I added a dash of style to the presentation of food to my cats.

The Crazy Cat Lady Society is having a banquet and I am Woman of the Year.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


1. Did you know that Judi Dench has played all of the major female roles in Shakespeare in age order? When she was 17 she played Juliet...or Viola...no, Juliet and she finished up with Cleopatra. She's awesome.

2. I'm going to St. Petersburg, FL for a couple of days in the middle of the month. I'll be staying at the Radisson St. Petersburg (Hello Stalkers!). Can anyone recommend places close to that to eat? If there was a nice place on the beach that'd be even better. I've got 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts to handle.

3. So, despite Julie telling me that she wouldn't wish an actor on me (she sees more of an academic, something at the college level) I am slightly obsessed with Steven Pasquale (pictured) this week. Chili gave me the second season of Rescue Me on DVD and the rest is history. I've poked around on the internet and can't find any biographical information on him. No age, no place of birth, no marital status, no height or weight info. He's a major player in the Broadway scene, that's about all I've got. Anyone have anything else? Please? Of particular interest would be phone number and where he's having dinner this Saturday. I'm kidding! Sort of. Oh shut it, like you've never been obsessed before. Well, OK yeah. It's not like I'm taking my night vision gogg....er, um, anyway...anyone know anything?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Thank You President Ford

I keep trying to decide if I have a memory of President Ford. I thought for a while that Sara and I had put together an elaborate pro-environmental packet and sent it to him and gotten a pre-printed postcard reply back. But if I'm honest I think that was President Carter. I don't think I have any memory of Ford, except a picture of President and Mrs. Ford in a Baskin & Robbins in the Newington Mall. Which isn't much of anything.

I had a lovely day courtesy of him, though. Too bad it was today and it was in honor of his death. Thanks President Ford!

I went into work to get the lay of the land this morning but I left at 11am. Before I went I checked out the movie listings. I was trying to think of something I could do to make the day special, to really take advantage of having the time but also being up and out of the house before noon. So, I thought movie, I usually don't do that. I saw Notes on a Scandal.

Before I get into specifics I thought I'd try to come up with a way to recommend the movie, to tell you something about it without giving anything away. Here it goes:

When I went to get my ticket today there was a pretty young woman in the booth. She had many tiny braids, then her hair was streaked with red and blue - the colors you'd see in flags, and then the little braids were gathered into two French braids. It was gorgeous. So I thought, "I should say something. She'd like to hear that someone likes her hair." I don't usually do that, though, but I screwed up my courage and complimented her. She smiled and I felt proud of myself for cracking the shell and reaching out to someone. Then I saw the movie and....I feel a little dirty.

That being said I will now talk about the actual movie and I'll try to keep it spoiler free but I can't make any promises, you're really better off going in without any preconceptions.

It's Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, frankly I could stop right there and say nothing more and it should be enough. The depth and nuance they both bring to characters makes everything they do so believable, so real and so riveting that it practically brings tears to my eyes even when the subject matter is off-putting.

I was having a conversation with Media Guy about A Doll's House. OK, actually what happened was he wrote me an e-mail that basically said, "I'm reading A Doll's House. It's ridiculous!" and I wrote back saying, "It's a classic. You're ridiculous!" and he wrote back saying, "But it's ridiculous!" and I wrote again saying, "It's social commentary. You're naive and ridiculous!" and the "discussion" pretty much fell flat form there. I wish I'd seen this movie before he wrote to me.

In a black and white world the plot of this movie consists largely of people doing abhorrent things. They shouldn't do them and if they'd just do the right thing then everything would work out fine. Also, the movie would be extremely short. Mix in Dench and Blanchett, though, and you have all the little emotions and quirks of actual human beings that lead them (or at least those of us lesser humans) to take the wrong path. A character that could be played just as a battle axe, someone without vulnerability or heart, turns out to have soft spots, problems, weaknesses that spur her forward. You can look at a 15-year-old boy and think, "This is gross" but also hear his accent and see him touch a woman and part of you can find him attractive.

The movie is also brilliantly written. No detail is unimportant and no twist appears without being fully supported. It's pitch perfect for each character and for the setting. It's set in London and it addresses the pervasive classism of the Brits head on. If you're American you probably think you can overcome your class. If you're a Brit you probably don't. It grated on me when I lived there but I came to understand it and, as a rule, over there it's utterly true. You are your class and you're more than welcome to have pipe dreams about leaving it (See: Full Monty) but eventually you're just going to fall right back into your niche. The good thing about this rigidity, this hopelessness of progress, though, is what you can learn about yourself if you look at your class and the, well, stereotypes of it. There's a scene early in the movie where Dench discusses Blanchett's attributes with regard to her class and it just made my skin crawl with the truth of it and how it related to me.

As for the other details of the movie, every one is thought through. A cell phone plays an important role in the plot. Philip Glass did the soundtrack. I'm not generally a fan but wow, he couldn't have been more perfect for this. He incorporated tones and pitches that are reminiscent of cell phone rings. It was at once disconcerting and engaging.

The subject matter isn't easy. The writing and the execution are practically flawless. You should definitely go see it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Beginning of a Plan

I only got started on my goals and plans and strategies for the new year. I use some tools from the life coach usually. Didn't get to those today. I decided to use Knotty Yarn's 107 things to do in 2007 (double OH Seven!) as a brainstorming technique and jumping off point.

It was hard. I had to put lots of things on there that I'm pretty uncomfortable admitting. So I thought I wouldn't post the list here. Then I remembered the point I made about how if you declare something it's more likely to happen and I decided I'd put the list up no matter how it felt.


1. Get regular vocal coaching
2. Record full-length CD
3. Scudder Memorial (Jan)
4. Finish DVD
5. Night Before Christmas for fam (make a book? buy them?)
6. Memorize Night Before Christmas
7. Continue Floor Barre classes
8. Add another hour per week of exercise
9. Teach at NSCC (April)
10. See Red Molly in MA (April)
11. Submit play to 20 places
12. Book Shakespeare 20 places
13. Go on a date
14. New Year at the steam pipes
15. 2 field trips with Alita
16. Write 6x/week on blog
17. See Avenue Q
18. Post-Thanksgiving Open House
19. Make 3 cross stitch bibs (Music Baby, ProfDoc kid, Miflohny baby)
20. Find director for Chekhov
21. Reading of Chekhov
22. Full production of Chekhov
23. Sing live
24. Hang pictures
25. Bathe dog once
26. Perform at Boerum Hill nursing home sing along
27. Pick songs for nursing homes show
28. Learn songs for 27
29. Book 5 nursing home shows
30. Lobsterbake (June)
31. Cook Christmas dinner
32. Do stockings for Christmas
33. Polish up 3 short stories
34. 20 short story submissions
35. Go to Met Museum
36. See an opera
37. Go to MoMA
38. Go to Frick
39. Buy back-up hard drive
40. Get back-up hard drive installed
41. Install Final Draft
42. Learn how to use Final Draft
43. Eat 3 servings of fruits & veggies/day
44. Finish work filing
45. Re-do work files
46. Keep work files current
47. Donate mattress & box spring
48. Clean out closets
49. Set up home filing system
50. Gyn appointment
51. Dentist appointment
52. Buy scanner
53. Scan family photos
54. Pay Kath & Alex back for Emily care
55. Auntie Blanche's birthday
56. Trip to beach
57. Art work for CD
58. Post photos to Flickr
59. Invest 1/2 savings
60. See accountant in person
61. Re-work investments to maximize return
62. Sort out IRA contribution
63. NaBloPoMo
64. Brooklyn Museum
65. See Coast of Utopia
66. Update address book
67. Make Christmas cards
68. Take more photos
69. Go to one Share the Wealth Brunch
70. Read classic/good-for-me books
71. Plan birthday celebration
72. Go to Aquarium
73. Set automatic payments for health insurance
74. Bring lunch 3 days/week
75. Give SG1 back to Ulserad
76. Get photos framed
77. Eye exam
78. New lenses
79. Contact lenses
80. Make out will
81. Inquire about grave plot
82. Renew passport
83. Submit for print audition
84. Submit for commercial audition
85. Write Rena once/month
86. Write Auntie Blanche once/month
87. Cook once/month
88. Go to Cyclones game
89. Take all vacation days
90. Make new cookbook pages
91. God's Love for Thanksgiving
92. Solve eletric meter problem
93. Write to The Athlete
94. Write something 15 minutes/day
95. Send Christmas thank you notes
96. Read This Is Not Over once/week
97. Drink 64 oz. water minimum/day
98. Buy rings from Yelle
99. Get painting fixed
100. Vocal warm-up 5 days/week
101. Physical warm-up 5 days/week
102. Daily vitamin
103. Pay extra mortgage payment
104. Pay off loan from Mom
105. Get massage
106. Get facial
107. Buy cocktail dress that fits

Obviously not so much in order of importance, just how they came to me.

Can and can't

I can't do a proper piece about how I rang in the new year, because ringing in the new year involved champagne (and waffles!) but I need to do something to keep myself awake until I can finish off at least this one 20 oz. bottle of water. I choose this interesting exercise I found on Moxie. Read this entry for where she got it. The rules state that you post the first sentence of the first post of each month of the previous year as a way of summarizing one's year.

January: I have to say that this might be one of the best New Year's eves of my career.

February: I just found out that on Tuesday our good friend Cameron died of complications from a surgery to alleviate some problems related to a tumor.

March: Baby Watch 2006 is in full swing.

April: According to CBS Sunday Morning Hugh Hefner turns 80 today and he says that 80 is the new 40.

May: So 2 ladies made fun of me on the train today.

June: It's Pumpkin Chili's birthday today!

July: I think the one with his mouth open makes him look like his dad...that came out wrong.

August: "So I'm going to the cookout in NJ. I'm supposed to bring dessert. I'll have to figure something out."

September: May was a long time ago.

October: What about this woman says, "I am one tough-ass bitch?"

November: I did what I always do and procrastinated and procrastinated and whined and became unforgivably late before actually getting off my ass and doing something.

: Quick bit of housekeeping.

I don't know if this feels representative but it certainly is interesting.