Monday, November 30, 2009

Where's Zero Mostel When You Need Him?

Here we are at the end of another successful NaBloPoMo. I had one close call that Zelda got me through. I'd set the post up to go automatically and for reasons that remain unclear it did not post. This is why community is important, folks.

The whole endeavor is enormous now. I don't feel I participated in the larger community as much as I might have. I could cite the busy or the holiday or the fact that I normally write all 30 days anyway. I would be remiss, though, if I didn't mention that my one attempt at venturing out was met with a frosty, frosty smackdown. No excuse, I could have tried harder. I would like, next time, to do so if for no other reason (and there are plenty) than to honor Eden Kennedy's successful creation of a beloved tradition.

I am a sucker for tradition. I love it. I like knowing exactly how things will go and what I should bring. Small tweaks (all hail veganizing!) are good, huge changes are bad (boo change!). I get that tradition can't last forever. I get that some people hate traditions, or hate their family's traditions, and I hear you. I just don't agree. Did I love driving miles in the snow late on Christmas Eve and having to take a no thank you helping of carnip (don't ask) at dinner the next day? No. But I hate that it's not an option anymore.

Creating traditions is hard. I've tried. Especially as an only child of divorced parents who has remained single and child free, trying to get other folks to jump on my bandwagon is sysiphean in scope. I have met with...varied success. It is success nonetheless.

On Thursday I met up with a Canadian-American friend and we walked around delivering meals and admiring architecture and searching for post-parade sights. It is, for me, the perfect way to spend that day. I had other places to go later in the day and I was grateful for that new experience, too, but when my friend told me (as she does every year) "I want to do this forever" I can't tell you how important that was for me to hear.

Friday brought my annual Open House. I cooked and cooked and cooked - which you've heard all about - and people came and ate and ate and ate. Some years are more successful than others here. I've had years when almost no one has come and then years like this one where we ran out of bubbly and had to send out for reinforcements. What I'm learning, though, is that I'm grateful for the fact of it no matter who shows up. Setting the time aside, having the food and spending time with my people, however many of them are available, is what makes it a tradition for me. And, not for nothing, more than one of this year's attendees made sure to tell me that they counted it as a tradition for them as well.

So today, as we say goodbye to another NaBloPoMo, I salute traditions, the large and the small. What's your favorite one?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How Do You Spend Your Time Off?

I've given myself the treat of catching up on all my photo processing.
 I had a whole month of images waiting to see the light of internet.
I'd forgotten I'd taken a lot of them.
 I'd been eagerly awaiting others.
 As always you can see the rest on Flickr.
 There are plenty more where this came from.
 What have you been doing with your extra weekend hours?
 I can't wait to hear.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An Emily Post (Not That One)

Over the years I've modified my holiday cooking just slightly. At first I realized that I allowed a lot of my ingredients to touch the bird and that I had vegetarian guests so I just made myself a little more aware and made sure there were a few things that worked for them too. In the past couple of years I've stepped it up a notch because a very good friend has gone vegan. This, I'll admit, takes more thought on my part because my brain doesn't work that way. I'm progammed to be dairy friendly for bone health...ok and because I love cheese. It's not super difficult, though. I added a veggie dish and I modified the way I do a couple of other veggies and my vegan friend wasn't the only person who enjoyed them.

Earlier this week when I blogged the menu Monsieur le Vegan thanked me for the tweaking. Here's the thing, though, while that's polite and nice and I'd never refuse some friendly gratitude I'm only doing the right thing. Who invites someone over, really wants them to attend, and doesn't make sure there's at least something each guest can eat? Apparently a lot of families do. I don't know if it's true of my friend's family but I've heard a lot of stories. Actress Sara Gilbert mentioned in an interview once that she's essentially required to bring her entire holiday meal whenever she eats with her family.

Now I've not read extensively of Emily Post but I'm pretty sure she'd tell you those were some shitty manners. You don't have to change your whole meal but why would someone come to your party, especially your eating-til-you-burst food-centric party, if there wasn't any food for them? So you make a few things without butter, you roast the veggies away from the turkey (which actually works better with a lot of vegetables) and you learn a little something new once in a while, like the fact that cranberry sauce in a can is vegan but has two different types of corn syrup (there are two types of corn syrup?).

It's not rocket science, it's just a little love, which everyone keeps telling me is what the holidays are all about.

Friday, November 27, 2009

No, Not Posterior

Mostly this post is for posterity. It's nice to be able to come back later and go over something. If I wrote this down in a diary or something I'd lose the place of it when (if) I needed it. So here it is for all the internet to see, the passes and fails of my cooking this year.

The inaugural apple pie wasn't bad. Teddy's Girl brought one, too, which was nice because I could compare a veteran's work with mine and see the differences. Mine was OK. My crust was a little thin but nice. I had forgotten to dot the filling with butter before I closed the pie and I can see why that would have made it nicer.

Pecan pie was good. Interestingly I had store bought pecan pie yesterday and it was mostly nuts and very little sugar goup. Mine is very few pecans, lots of goup. I prefer with the goup but honestly could have gone with a few more pecans in mine for a better balance.

I totally spaced the chocolate pie filling this morning. It's supposed to be 3 cups of milk not 4. It does make a difference, I'd like to not screw that up next time.

Sweet potato pie was awesome and possibly made even better by the catch as catch can bottom crust only situation I created.

Mashed potatoes were fine. Could have used some sour cream or some full fat milk. Definitely could have used a better stirring post peppering. I keep getting clumps of pepper and being surprised.

Gravy was a bit too thick, a little glue-esque. It's still gravy, I mean it's still the reason for freaking Thanksgiving, but it wasn't my best work. It's hard to get enough base material for the amount of gravy I like if I only cook a turkey breast.

Speaking of which, I hope the turkey was good but I don't know, I didn't have even a bite of it. That's OK with me, turkey isn't a must-have for me and I had a little last night.

The squash was the biggest fail. I don't think the oil instead of butter was a bad thing. I actually think it was a shopping fail. It didn't cook down enough and it was stringy.

Plain carrots could have been roasted a bit longer. They were still crunchy and nice and made a good gravy vehicle.

I did the broccoli with onions, garlic and some leftover carrots. It was delish but I've been making some version of that practically once a week for two years now so I feel like I've got that shit down.

Sugared cranberries a la Belfer were a ginormous hit. Pretty, yummy, simple, fun. I'm trying to figure out how best to store them to see if making ahead for Christmas gifts is a possibility.

I bought a nice stinky cheese and a nice mild one and I didn't wind up with even a bite of those either. Fortunately I'd tasted liberally during the decision-making process at the farm stand so I'd had the pleasure.

Mimosas were splendid. I had 2 bottles of champagne on hand, at least one person brought another bottle. I had to send out for more. They came back with 3 bottles and I still have some leftover, not sure if it's one bottle or two.

I made way WAY too much bread. It came out darned well, though, so I'll keep eating away.

Can you screw up green bean casserole? I don't think so. Which is good because I love it. There's a tiny bit left and I've got enough for another batch.

My pumpkin chocolate chip squares are slightly under done and way dense. I can't get the pan proportions right on it. They always wind up a little denser than I expect. The guys at the guard station never complain, though.

The guest list was impeccable if I do say so myself. Just fewer than 20 people came by over the course of the afternoon and they were all lovely. I got a chance to speak a little with everyone and I don't think anyone went hungry or thirsty. Kath did most of the dishes, bless her pea pickin' heart, so I'm pretty well ahead of the game. I'm running a load of dishes now and do have to pack up the food but it's still early and I think it'll be easy enough.

I should probably ask someone else to make a playlist for next year. My taste in music and the way I put it together is just weird.

Can't wait to do it again!

I Did Not Get Up At 3:00am

I am, at best, an erratic shopper. I'll see a cool shirt or a big sale on my lunch hour, wander into a store and spend some time. If I need something specific I'll sometimes go on a special trip. Once in a great while I'll be a browser. That's usually for drug and hardware stores, though, so it's not especially girly nor gifting-friendly.

Going out for a day of shopping with friends isn't something I'm good at. I have a much lower tolerance for the hunt than most people do. Load my arms up once, go into the dressing room, make some decisions and I'm ready for lunch, a nap, to check my e-mail, whatever but I'm done. And I'm talking about days when I'm really revved up for the shopping. Gone are the days when I could wander the mall from one end to the other and back every day of the week. I had a lot more energy as a teenager.

So, the Christmas shopping thing is kind of a hoot. I'll tell you right off that I find shopping for other people and for anything besides clothes way more fun. Still and all, heading out for a whole day with a list clutched in my fist, pounding the pavement isn't going to happen. I'm neither that organized nor that strong anymore. I have a spreadsheet where I log ideas for what I might give to the people I love. I look on line for stuff, I order things (almost never in plenty of time) and then there's the whole chance part. After work, on lunch hour, on my way to class I'll see a craft fair or a store I like or I'll even occasionally make a special trip but it's the same old 30 minutes or less browsing, grab a few things and run away. I've actually worked it out so that one of the guests at today's party will be bringing me a big chunk of my gifts. That doesn't happen every year, I can tell you that. Pretty sweet, though. Bless her generous heart.

Needless to say I won't be out shopping today, unless you count buying an extra bottle of champagne if we run out. I'm having friends over all day long. We'll be eating Thanksgiving food and drinking mimosas and chatting and having a good old time. Tomorrow I'll try to organize my limited attention span and get going on this holiday shopping whoo ha. It won't be in plenty of time but it'll work out. It always does.

What are you up to on this chilly, rainy Friday?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

OK, I'll Play Along

I'm thankful for my friends and family even when they make me want to club them like defenseless baby seals.

I am thankful that they still like me even when they want to club me like the aforementioned defenseless baby seals.

I am thankful that I had 14 good years with my dog who sometimes lay on the floor with her chin on one leg which made her look like a defenseless baby seal.

OK, yeah, I'm thankful for my cats but they are so not fitting in with my theme, except that one of them is skulking around trying to ruin something and the other is trying to walk across the keyboard so clubbing is not entirely out of the question.

I am thankful for this fantastic city which can, of course, club the hell out of you but I don't mind. Don't mind at all.

The internet and all of you, very thankful  even though the clubbing is only emotional.

(It's the internet and there's no sarcasm font so, despite the fact that I shouldn't have to, let me disclaim that I would never club anyone.

I'm too lazy.)

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for being here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NWW: Let The Wild Rumpus Begin!

"Let the wild rumpus begin!" is how ChemE greeted me when she called at 4:30 last night.


Today, in our respective homes, we cook. Hope you're having fun wherever you are.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ten Things That Are Of The Delicious

Or at least 10 things I'll be cooking for my post-Thanksgiving bash. I certainly hope they are of the delicious.

1. Bread. Already made 2 loaves, will probably make 2 more just in case which will hopefully leave at least 2 loaves uneaten by Friday.

2. Sweet potato pie. I eat mine as a side, smothered in gravy. I do not use marshmallows.

3. Chocolate pie. Yes it is just cooked pudding in a pie shell, you got a problem with that?

4. Pecan pie. This is ridiculously easy.

5. Apple pie. My first time making it. I'm pretty nervous about it. I've never tried anything that required a roofing crust (top crust).

6. Mashed potatoes. I love mashed potatoes. They are food of the benign and loving gods.

7. Mimosas. Can't go wrong there really.

8. Pumpkin chocolate chip squares. I like to give these to the guards on Thanksgiving. They sound weird (the squares, not the guards) but taste heavenly.

9. Roasted carrots. Usually I go with some butter and honey here but we have a vegan on the guest list so I'm going to keep it simple with olive oil and herbes de provence so he can eat it.

10. Squash. It's a butternut. Usually I'd do that with butter and brown sugar but, again, want there to be something for the dude to eat. Can I sprinkle brown sugar on something that has also been sprinkled with olive oil? Will that be gross or fine?

There's more but we're limiting to 10 here at 10 Things Tuesday so you'll just have to wait and see what else adorns my table. This is all assuming I can keep the cats from eating it before everyone shows up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Question That May Be Annoying

Health Care

It's Monday again. Monday is for serious thoughts, right?

One serious thought that's been running through my head a lot as the media flogs it is the trials for the 9/11 suspects. A lot of people are vocally outraged by the fact that these will be civil trials and they will be held in New York City ("Just blocks from the World Trade Center site. BLOCKS I tell you!" No offense but, we in New York City are aware of the proximity of the court to the site. Thanks for double checking, though.) It seems to me that this vocal opposition is, by and large, from outside New York City. NYC residents are polling a majority in favor, or at least unopposed, to the location. It's not an overwhelming majority but it still chimes with a tone similar to my friend's thoughts in September of this year.

The arguments I'm hearing are that it's dangerous. Having these trials will make life in NYC dangerous. No one addresses what killing the suspects in another location and without due process will do so I'll speculate. I think it might make life in NYC (and DC and the occasional airport and maybe some other places) dangerous. I'm just saying we don't get much below an orange threat level in the city lo these 8 years so you have to kind of think of dangerous as a relative term. I live in the flight path of an airport with a history of catastrophic bird strikes. My dog was just fine and then she died. Life is, all around, a bit precarious.

You have to know I'm in favor of due process. You have to know I'm highly conflicted about the death penalty. You have to know I wonder why the residents' concerns in this particular debate aren't at least slightly more weighted.

I can't solve the whole conflict I'd just like to know one little thing. These people who don't live here and probably don't ever want to visit a danger zone like our home are vehemently opposed to putting us in more danger (in this one particular way). Why do they care?

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It has become a topic. I would say a topic of conversation but it doesn't last that long.  Usually it's skated over quite quickly. It's more of a smash and dash just in case I freak out. People are asking and offering opinions, though, on when I'll be getting another dog and what sort of dog that will be. It's a neat way to find out how people see you...and your dog.

NDP and I talked and talked on the night that I got Emily back. She told me she misses Hudson, not less certainly, but less acutely, perhaps, because there is another German Shepherd in the house. Since there is no younger yellow dog at her feet she finds herself still longing for Charlie. She also mentioned, when I told her of my long time Great Dane fetish, that a local trainer is active in Dane rescue.

Zelda has said a couple of times that she sees a smaller dog for me. Maybe a Boston Terrier or a French bulldog. I did enjoy Spock...when he wasn't trying to run me off his ranch.

One of the guards here stopped me the other day, "I miss seeing you out with your dog." "Me too," I told him. "You need to get yourself one of those," and he gestured with his hands just so far apart, "German Shepherd puppies. A little one."

All my life animals have found me. My first cat was hiding in the engine of the family van. Heck, my parents' first pair of felines were, if I'm getting the story right, somehow "liberated" from a neglectful neighbor. Emily was the ultimate found pet, she was delivered almost directly into my lap and I don't know what that voice was in my head but it doesn't get much clearer than something inside you telling you your dog's name.

I broke that rule once. I was in my thirties, I guess I thought I needed somehow to start taking charge of my life. My next door neighbor was doing a lot of cat rescue and had 4 cats in her tiny apartment. When she came up with a 5th who was soft and pretty and friendly to a fault I fell for it and didn't wait for her to ask for my assistance I just stepped right in and said I wanted that cat. Eventually we came to call that one The Mad Carlotta. One evening not long after she came to stay, while collecting my laundry, I backed up and accidentally tread on her. That fucking cat sunk all her claws into me and started to bite my calf repeatedly. I didn't want to shake her off because my skin would tear but I couldn't reach down to grab her or she could get a wrist vein and I might not come out alive. It sounds ridiculous but I was petrified. I don't know how I managed to unhinge her because, frankly, she made it clear that the altercation would be over when she had the leeway to walk slowly away over my lifeless corpse. When I did, though, I grabbed the cordless phone and hid in the bathroom afraid to come out with blood dripping down my leg. My mother's diagnosis was, "She needs to be outside, running around." The Mad Carlotta lives on my mother's block now, sometimes with my mother, sometimes with a family down the way, sometimes in a garage with a family of skunks. She still remembers me when I come to visit and wants some love but, you know, only as much as she can handle. My cats are her offspring which makes them, I suppose, another two who found me from the great beyond.

Understandably, to my mind at least, I am trying to trust in the way it's worked for about 40 years now. I will have a dog again, I promise. Don't worry, OK? I don't know yet when it will arrive or what sort of dog it may be. I'm happy to talk about the possibilities but I'll also tell you why I'm not putting a ton of energy into it right now. I would love any dog that showed up right now the way I love Bobby and Ben and Ally and Tim and Diego and The Buce and all the others. I would not, however, be able to forgive that dog for not doing it "right." That's unfair to me and to the hypothetical dog. I'm willing to wait a bit to keep that from happening.

In the mean time, though, feel free to share your thoughts about what kind of dog you think should find me. I'm taking it all under advisement.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lost Or Stolen Or Strayed

I've lost something. Not her. Well, yes, her but that's not what I'm talking about. I've lost the old fashioned style 1 liter glass coke bottle where I keep all my change. Before I left for Chicago I got coins out of it for laundry but when I came back I couldn't find it. I emptied my purse and pockets of the change accumulated over my travels, went into the bedroom coke bottle. I'm lazy. I'm easily distracted. I could have started to put it away and been holding onto it when I wandered off. I looked high and low to no avail.

Finally I texted Pony Express to see if she'd seen it. In my mind I'd constructed a face-saving scenario where, while she'd been feeding my cats, she'd lit upon a creative idea involving my change and my coke bottle and acted upon it. She had not. It was half full and, as I mentioned, made of glass so it wasn't something you could easily move without thinking about it. I'm a little freaked out that it's gone (I looked around, nothing else is gone so it wasn't a robbery, not a smart robbery anyway) so I took the safest path, denial.

When Pony Express came around for dinner a few days later she asked after my progress. While I'd forgotten all about it she'd been thinking about it constantly. We launched another search. Our results were disappointing. My change is piling up on every flat surface of the apartment.

There's an odd little lady who lives in the building next door. She might be 10 or 15 years older than I, I don't know. She always says hello to me and I return the greeting as part of my ongoing campaign to stop being seen as a community interloper (7 years on December 16th, inroads are being made!). She's a long time resident and she knows everyone and talks to everyone and, I think, has plead my case with a few of her fellow old timers so that I get more courtyard greetings than before. On the day Farrah Fawcett died I ran into this lady while walking Emily in the evening and she stopped me to say, "Oh isn't it terrible about Michael Jackson!" She went on a bit and I nodded and hmmm'd because she's the sort of lady who, when you hear something surprising like that, you think, "How did she mix up Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson?" A quick internet search let me know that, while she may be a little loopy, she hasn't lost her grip on reality.

The other day on my way to work I passed this woman on the street corner. We nodded and said hello and I trudged on toward my fate. Thankfully I keep my iPod on low because I heard her say in her astral voice, "Your baby's gone?" (All the ladies in my neighborhood call Emily my baby and not in a mocking way at all.) I went back to the corner and explained. She then proceeded to tell me the story of putting her dog to sleep. She and her daughter had gone through that particular hell of a cancerous dog together. Her daughter, she explained, also had cancer at the time. It was at this point I realized this wasn't the same old conversation I've been having. Two months after the dog died she went through the same process with her daughter. She thought, and I agree, that it was nice - not nice but good, perhaps - that her dog gave the two humans that eerily similar chance to work through their grief together before she would be left on her own. I feel as though, when we pass again, I should say something more than a simple hello but, really, what is there to say?

I'm still annoyed that I lost my coke bottle and really hope it turns up soon. I don't feel quite so bad, though, about losing a piece of my mind over the events of these past few months. Sometimes going a little loopy is part of the healing process.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I cannot make a decision. What to eat? Whether to come home between class and rehearsal? If the new higher ticket price for this show will prevent me from attending? Which cat is crazier?

Yesterday I filled out a very short application to go along with one of my plays in the hopes of winning 10 hours of rehearsal time with a creative team to continue the development of the piece. It was all good except for the "purpose statement." If you thought that cat thing was tough you should have seen me trying to figure out my freaking purpose. I called in the cavalry and the cavalry was all very helpful albeit while pacing around me at a fair distance speculating about my resemblance to a certain capricious white tiger.

It's Friday so we should do something fun. I'm going to give you a choice (heh). Either tell me about your purpose or you can make one up for me.

Or, I guess, you can do nothing. Nothing at all. But where would the fun be in that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Buck Up Little Camper

Grammar Snob has been having a heck of a week. It's not my story to tell but since I know that some of her friends in cyberspace read here I thought I'd send out the call. Toss her a good thought if you will. She's coming out the other side but she's a little ragged.

Thanks everyone.


As the current health care worm has turned I've been wanting to repost this piece. I originally wrote it just before the 2008 Presidential Election. If you don't know why it's relevant you can click on any of these links and get an update. Here's the text of my post as we all continue to fight for fair reform. I hope that somehow, in some way, it helps.

"If you'd asked me as little as a month ago what my top voting priorities were abortion would not have been among them. Being pro-choice is important to me and the removal of that choice has concerned me since I discovered it might be taken away but it seemed like a marginal issue when economic and foreign policy concerns felt so much pervasive and immediate. Then I participated in some political...discussions. I've probably participated in more of those this election cycle than in any one before and I worked in a freaking democratic battleground in 2004, routinely having my intelligence, patriotism and morality called into question. I noticed that I became heated when the subject of choice arose and had a really hard time keeping myself in check so I could continue to debate respectfully. I wondered a bit why I was so emotionally connected to something from which I am, for all practical purposes, completely removed. I'm almost 40, I'm not having of the sex these days (sigh), though I can see myself having a family it would be a family that was gathered together not born from me, I've never been pregnant so there's no evidence that I could be and the window for that, she is pretty narrow at this juncture.

Then, on a routine read through Feministing I came across this quote by Lynn Paltrow (emphasis mine):

In August, at the Saddleback Civil Forum, Pastor Rick Warren asked both presidential candidates: "At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?" Senator John McCain's answer, "at the moment of conception," immediately established his anti-abortion bona fides. But the right answer, as a matter of international human rights principles and simple justice, is: human rights attach at birth, not at conception.This is the only position that ensures that upon becoming pregnant, women do not lose their human rights.
Political candidates of all persuasions should rest assured that to oppose the recognition of human rights before birth is not to deny the value of potential life as matter of religious belief, emotional conviction or personal experience. Rather, it is to recognize the value of the women who give that life.

To oppose a woman's right to choose, in whole or in part, is to oppose a woman's human right to be a full and participatory member of society. It is to forcibly turn her into a conduit for a portion of her life rather than the complete person she is. Audio Girl keeps talking to me about how she worries that sexism is both more pervasive and more accepted in our society than any other prejudice and I had been reluctant to agree with her until I read Ms. Paltrow's words.

Choice overall is not a black and white issue. You can tell me, "But what if Mother Theresa had been aborted?" and I can reply, "Well, what if the Columbine killers had?" You can believe that the potential for a person deserves a certain respect and I will too, though the sort of respect we seek may differ. All of your arguments are perfectly valid and useful when discussing your opposition to abortion within the full range of choices with an individual. However, when you legislate your beliefs onto my body you, with prejudice and disrespect, remove my right as a fully functioning human being to make the choice for myself.

So, as it turns out, abortion and its full spectrum of choices and responsibilities are right at the very top of the list of issues upon which I vote because if you do not respect my value as that fully functioning member of society then I will be barred from complete participation in the solution process of all these other issues. I will simply be a vessel, too stupid, too untrustworthy to make decisions about things as close as my own heart and therefore unworthy to make decisions about things larger than that and that is a level of disrespect I cannot abide. Ms. Paltrow didn't put this belief on me, she said something that allowed me to find it where it lay waiting to be discovered in myself and that is one of the many things for which I will be grateful to this election. I have already started to make this change of which we speak and while it has been hard it is equally good."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NWW: Calligraphic

"Give me the Liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to my conscience, above all other liberties."
 - Milton

A stone, I believe, from the Chicago Tribune building.

Quick Poll

A friend asked me, "So, do you ever have imaginary conversations with people, like...celebrities?"

I was honest, "Oh yeah, of course!"

Apparently she'd asked someone else and they never ever did.

So, you all tell me, do you ever have imaginary conversations with people, like...celebrities?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All Over The Show

1. See above. Worked on a lot of those last night for a Colony post tomorrow. Not quite done yet.

2. Check out some of Zelda's photos of our healing reunion. I love candids but she's also the mistress of the self-portrait.

3. As someone who was once absolutely terrified by a housecat in my tiny studio apartment I'm both inclined to believe this story and a little shocked that they sent the cat to the pound.

4. Chookooloonks is doing a really neat thing for kids who will be in hospitals over the holidays. If you're in the crafty/picturey mood you might enjoy participating.

5. I've been reading a lot of Jennifer Crusie novels lately. They're light both mentally and physically which I've needed. The more I read, though, the more impressed I am with the way she sticks to the formula but manages somehow to give her characters more depth than the average stereotype.

6. This lovely woman, Kathleen Cavalaro, just did a giveaway at The Colony. I approached her for it because I'd heard about her work through her husband who is a high school classmate of mine. I am currently coveting these two rings. Aren't they all kinds of shiny pretty?

7. Jim over at Sweet Juniper (and in Detroit) wrote about a side of Big Box stores that I hadn't even considered. This is why Robin Williams had his students stand on desks. A new view is critical.

8. Something truly frightening is happening to Melissa of Suburban Bliss. Please spare her a good thought when you have a chance.

9. I love what NaBloPoMo teaches me about blogging. When I put some sort of posting pressure on myslef I get into a pre-posting mode (as I write this it's not yet Tuesday!) because I live under a constant fear of forgetting to post. If I stop remembering even for a second I might forget! I was tense Monday because I didn't have anything in the chute over here. I had a vague idea of something I could throw together about the dog and my vacuum cleaner and how life is different now. Then that poem just appeared in my life and it was clear it was the right thing to post. Open yourself and the content will appear.

10. Is anyone else having any thoughts at all about Christmas gifts yet? I'm feeling the pressure yet not having any grand ideas.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Vessel Setting Sail

My paternal grandfather died November 9, 2000. It was a big blow and I continue to miss him deeply. I think about him often and consult those memories as I stumble through my imperfect life.

Initially I remembered on the 9th that it was his death day and I generally did something to commemorate it. That awareness has evolved so that now I just hear in my head all day, "This is November 9th, this is November 9th, this is Nov...." and I don't always remember why the day is knocking so loudly at my door.

My maternal grandmother died on December 10, 2000. She was a relatively unsentimental person and would, I'm sure, have told me to just deal with my own life and stop mucking around with hers. And to wear clean underwear while I did it. My grandfather would understand. He wouldn't care, I don't think, if I remembered his day but he would wholeheartedly stand behind honoring the past while addressing the future.

Today someone was telling me about a wonderful funeral he'd recently attended. He mentioned that a certain poem was read by the siblings of the deceased and that it had been read at every funeral of a member of that family for over 50 years. It's Tennyson, it's got to be good, right? And it's about boats and the sea so I think my grandfather would like it. In honor of my grandfather and my past and the iron strength of tradition I give you:

Crossing the Bar
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star
   And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
   When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
   Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
   Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crossed the bar.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Regrets, I Have Actually Had A Few

Staked Out

I regret this week's G-spot post.

Funny, I've written things that were leagues more graphic and things that were - to the untrained eye - much more personal but this one did me in. It's probably largely my own interpretation but I feel like a lot of the comments were condescending and I know I should have seen that coming. Most of the readers over there only read me over there. (Hi, all of you who came here from the Colony. Thanks for learning more about me.) My subject matter at The Womens' Colony is relatively...let's call it focused, so anyone who does read me just there is only going to know me in a certain light. Thanks to the cunt brouhaha and the intense and fabulous polls I know what that light is so it's my own fault for not putting two and two together and writing something else for Friday's slot. I'd written the Conversation before the cunt controversy and I made some minor adjustments to have it back on the roster after the banning of the dreaded and dangerous c word and then we were closed for renovations and I was so glad for a blissful break from people telling me I am what's wrong with America, the internet and women in general that I just kept this piece in the queue, grateful for my break to be extended that much longer. Due to a technical glitch I even had to re-enter the piece into the system and re-create the content warning for it so the universe gave me a chance to save myself and I did not heed it.

Sometimes I'm just not too bright.

Well, I've already got 2 pieces in the queue for the coming weeks and they're guaranteed to have people back to pissing in my Cheerios*. It sucks but I like it a lot better than when the spitters think their urine is turning me over to their version of the light side. Miles better than that. 'Cause even with my Darth Vader helmet I am who I am and she's OK. Apparently fully incapable of protecting herself in an internetual capacity but OK nonetheless.


*Another big thanks to those of you who read over there and do not condescend nor do you despoil my breakfast. I know that the haters are a minority, they're just a vocal minority so when my inner iPod isn't turned up loud enough they're all I can hear. There's simply no nice way to explain to someone (especially a vehemently married one) that getting myself married off will not make me a better person. (Go on, ask me how I know, you won't like the answers.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Golden Fucking Rule

If we weren't all writing about how important it is to practice compassion these days this is what I would have said to the dithering idiot of a girl in front of me at the bagel shop this morning:

"No, this place is not confusing or weird. It's efficient. There's a clear system and it's 'one guy - one problem.' You order from one guy, he clarifies, he makes your order, you pay him and you get the hell out of his life. If at any time you have a change to make you look for that guy. Now I don't know if you're hungover, from out of town or just an attention whore but if you'd bothered to learn the face of the guy who took your order you'd know that you, dear, are his problem. Now get out of my way before I beat you over the head with my efficiently prepared bagel."

Friday, November 13, 2009


This was my view for much of the past weekend. 

I love this view.

It's been over 8 years since I've seen Dionysas (driver's seat). It wasn't until we'd been together more than 24 hours that I did the math on that. It was too painful. I missed his laugh and his attitude and his insight and everything else about him. Why do we do so long without that which feeds us? Are we stupid?

I did see Zelda (on the right) just 11 months ago and yet, still not enough. Never enough. We text, we Facebook, we e-mail, we blog. We're in better shape than some long distance friends but it's not the same. Is there anything better than curling up next to a really good friend and talking about this, that and everything else until one or both of you just drifts away to sleep? There might be I guess but not much.

I was bent, nearly broken, when I boarded a plane to Chicago last Thursday. It wasn't until I was in the airport that I realized my hoodie was covered in cat hair and had schmutz on one cuff. I had packed just one pair of shoes and they didn't go with any of the clothes I'd packed. My bag was too heavy and I couldn't heft it into the overhead compartment. I felt schlubby and frumpy and dirty and ridiculous. On Monday I boarded a plane to La Guardia in pretty much the same outfit I'd been wearing 4 days previously and yet I stood taller, I felt cleaner and I could breathe again. I know it's hard to believe but my carryon even fit better in the overhead compartment.

We can live without our tribe, it's possible, but we are not the better for it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I got back Monday night. Had to work a half day on Tuesday then had a rehearsal. I felt like hammered crapdoodle on Tuesday (thank you recycled airplane air and your long time partner, flu season) but decided if I took some A1eve and went to rehearsal it would be the right thing to do. Ever since I've felt miles better. Apparently all those assholes who tell you that a workout will move the germs out of your system are right.

So last night I felt pretty darn good about expanding my horizons and meeting more people I'd never seen face to face before. Let me tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to eat delicious French food with the incomparable Aaryn Belfer you should just freaking do it! She's just as fabulous as you'd expect and she loved New York immediately which always makes me happy. I ate more than I ought, I drank just about the right amount and I stayed out far later than prudence dictated (shut up prudence!) and it was marvelous.

While I'm praising women in my life I realize I failed to let you guys know that, over at the (newly redesigned) Colony I sang Kath's praises yesterday. If you've been reading this blog for any time at all you know what a cool chick she is but I don't know that you've heard the history of Kath & The Great Pupkin so I laid it all out over there.

In conclusion I can only say that during these difficult health times we should all take more Emergen-C and perhaps practice even more compassion if at all possible. (It's possible. Trust me.)

How you feelin'?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Silence

I thanked my favorite veteran this morning. He said I was welcome.

We did it all by text, thereby maintaining a respectful silence, I suppose. At the end of his response he said, simply, "I miss you." He's not overseas, he's a veteran, he's not even on inactive duty anymore so he's in quite a safe place but a place I have never been and probably won't be. I don't know when I'll see him again. I miss him too so I told him. And we move on. He'll call me on his way home from work sometime soon and I'll finally tell him that Emily has died and he'll tell me how things worked out with his son's teacher and finally he'll pull into his driveway and we'll part ways again for an undetermined amount of time.

I had a lot of trouble with his decision to enlist. It took us years of talking to come to this odd balance of our feelings on the subject. He sees all the things he feels he gained from the experience and I remain a champion of the person I lost the minute he started basic training. What we've held onto throughout, however, was the unshakable fact of our friendship. If I were to give him one gift on this day of thanks it would be to say that it's possible (just possible) that his time in the service strengthened that bond by making it something we both had to choose to hang onto.

I have a lot of trouble with this war (these wars) we're in now. I think that it is an absolute and ridiculous clusterfuck built on a foundation of fearmongering and lies. Most importantly on a day like today I think that the people who pay the biggest price for this ineffectual power grab are the men and women of the United States Armed Services. They are keeping to a contract to do as they are asked. The people who are doing the asking, though, have put them in a series of situations with no possible good outcome for anyone, least of all them.

I hope that we can come to a place of peace soon. I hope that these brave, loyal men and women can come home and that it is possible for them to heal. In the mean time all I can do is thank them all, past, present and future, for being the sort of people upon whom one can depend.

Today is Veterans' Day. Please take a moment to hold our veterans in your heart.

NWW: By Popular Demand


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Travelin' Shoes

Last week I traveled by bus. Many buses actually. I don't mind the bus. It's less fun if it's crowded or if there's a lot of traffic or if some asshat is eating a banana next to you but I tend to travel during off-peak hours so I've been lucky usually. Given where I live and where I try to go it's generally no slower than flying and it's approximately 1,000 times cheaper - though my math isn't perfect.

I flew to Chicago. Since I don't travel a whole bunch flying is still kind of fun for me. Well, not the flying part itself, I'm a nervous flyer, but the overall experience. I like hanging out in airports because they can be like whole little towns in themselves and you only have to live there for (ideally) one day. I get there early and don't mind the wait. There's a system to air travel that I respect. I love a good system.

No train travel recently unless you count the subway and I don't. (There was a mouse on my subway car last week. The hell? That's certainly fucking new.) I was toying with the idea of branching out on my own and taking a train back from IN in December. I really like the train. It's smooth and largely unhindered by traffic and more spacious than bus or plane. It takes a little while but you've got power and a dining car and cool scenery so it's not half bad. However, if you want to go from IN to NYC first you have to drive to OH then you have to take a train to Chicago and from there to PA before you can get a train to NYC. With layovers that makes it almost a full 48 hour trip. Well, train, that's a dealbreaker. You are the hot guy who loves me for my brains but is anti choice and roots for the Yankees. Deal. Broken.

Far and away my favorite form of travel is the road trip, though. A good, long car ride is one of life's greatest pleasures. It can be slightly marred by too tight a schedule or too much traffic but mostly it's about the company and the mindset. I have road tripped with everyone from my father & grandfather to, in the case of my MI theatre job, two people I'd never met before who, through the power of the road trip, became close friends. I have fallen in love on road trips. The road makes me happy.

What's your favorite style of travel?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Abs of Steel

The weekend ain't over yet. Right now I am sitting on a hotel bed with a specially requested ridiculous looking u-shaped neck pillow around my neck listening to lines being run for a Christmas show I will never see. We're laughing, even though it's Dionysas' homework and he's got to be ready to perform on Tuesday. We've been laughing all weekend. It's like we're physically unable to stop. Sometimes you don't remember how much you miss something or someone until you see them again. I knew I missed them, I knew this weekend was important but it's almost impossible to gauge the extent of it until you're in the thick of it. I'm sure I can't do it justice. Let's see, though. I'll relate the funniest thing (in my estimation) that was said all weekend and you tell me if it's funny or you had to be there.

There was an...incident during a wild session of Rock Band on Friday night. A chair was overturned unbeknownst to the drummer and she sat down at an inopportune moment, taking a chair leg between her tender cheeks. Still sore on Saturday night she sat down gingerly to play another tune and turned a sad face to Zelda. Zelda replied, "Oh man, you're Brokedown Pal-ass!"

Turning Toward the Thankful

While I'm up here giving thanks for being with people I have missed for so long I think it's time we start talking a little about the holidays.

I have some NYC traditions I've put in place for Thanksgiving. I meet a friend in the West Village and we deliver a few meals for God's Love We Deliver. Then we eat our Thanksgiving meal together at a diner. I usually have French toast and corned beef hash. Then she goes to work on a tour bus and I head home to cook.

I cook because Friday I celebrate with friends. We eat leftovers and drink mimosas and talk about what our Thanksgivings were like. It's open house style and it lasts from 1:00pm until the last drop of champagne has been quaffed. Someone remind me to buy more champagne this year.

What will you be doing for Thanksgiving (or in the case of our Canadian friends, what did you do)?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Why'd You Do That?

It occurs to me that you might not know what I did when I live in MI. Hell, you might not even know that I lived in MI. Since I'm off reunioning with my midwestern peeps (another expression to add to the list of ones I just cannot pull off) now seemed like a good time to clarify.

I'm an actress. I know you'd never know it to read my goings on these days but I am. Long ago and far away I got a job working in a three-person show out of Saginaw, MI. The contract was for one school year. When I showed up in September I'd never met any of the people with whom I would work nor had I read the script. (I have the business acumen of a Buffet or a Soros, do I not?)

The script was...let's go factual. It was a sanitized, Disneyfied knock-off melding of Riverdance; Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk; and Stomp. Our little production sallied forth in one 15-passenger van performing as many as 4 shows per day in up to 2 venues. We were one of as many as 5 shows going out at one time under the auspices of the little mom & pop company. For this job, which included putting up the sets, taking them down and sharing the driving we were paid $200 per week. Before taxes. (Nay, a Gates, a Jobs even am I!)

Fortunately the people were divine. I made friends that year who will be with me forever (whether they like it or not). I was lucky to get that job and lucky to coincide with these people. Sometimes I think I should have pursued more touring work like that but mostly I think I'd never be that lucky again.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Back Through The Writing Glass

I wondered what I wrote in previous NaBloPoMos. So I looked. And now I'll share.

On this day in 2008 I was telling you about scaring a bouncer at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Man I was writing a lot in 2007, like 3 posts a day or something. The biggie for the 6th was the diagnosis and plan of attack for my face cancer.

Apparently I was writing a lot in 2006, too. I choose to share with you the post with Hot People in it.

These are all the yeas of NaBloPoMo, seems like there ought to be more, right? But there aren't and that's OK, we'll make more in the future. And next year all I'll have to link back to is this silly little link post.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Fangled

Back in the day before this whole new fangled internet thing my grandfather would send us itineraries. In the mail. Regular mail with a stamp and an envelope and everything. He'd type them out painstakingly with carbon paper and send them out well in advance of his departure. So, uh, here we are about three and a half hours before I depart and it occurred to me that I might want to tell someone exactly where I was going when and even when I was planning to return. Who better than the internet, right? That'll make my whereabouts searchable and everything.

Thursday November 5, 2009
Depart LGA 12:00pm American #0327 Arrive ORD 1:35pm

Driving up to Wisconsin. Hanging out. Driving back to Chicago.

Monday November 8, 2009
Depart ORD 5:25pm American #0354 Arrive LGA 8:45pm

So, you know, if you hear something on the news...someone cancel my Netflix susbcription, OK?

Off To See The Wizards!

Today I hit the road again. This time I hop to Chicago then drive to Wisconsin. The occasion? A reunion of a portion of the loveable nutjobs with whom I worked when I lived in Saginaw.

Inspired, apparently, by Facebook one of our number convinced his wife that they should offer up their home for our motley band of ruffians to re-assemble. (Not to be confused with Motley Crue, we listen to totally different music.) We'll be straggling in from all corners tomorrow night and drinking each other in for two days before scattering again. Zelda and I will drive back to Chicago with Dionysas then fly to our separate homes on Monday while he rushes back into rehearsal for a Christmas show.

I'm excited. I'm scared. I'm ready.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NWW: Like The Wind

The "elite" runners aren't the most inspiring part of the marathon. They are, however, mesmerizing because they move so fast it seems unbelievable that they will keep going like that for another 18 miles after they pass my block. The timer read just over 48 minutes as Paula Radcliffe came pelting up the avenue. She apparently came up with an injury later in the race which caused her to come in all of 4th. I now mark my progress in photography by my Radcliffe photos on marathon day. I think these might be the best so far. Inspiration to learn more between now and next November.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Siss Boom Bah! (x 10)

I love the concept of NaBloPoMo and I love that it's caught on and I love Eden Kennedy for thinking of it. There is never enough time to fully explore the participants. That's my only complaint but one born of such success with the project it's hardly noticeable. In honor of all those fine folks I'm going to hit the Randomizer for my 10 Things Tuesday today and link to the first 10 blogs that come up. I wonder if there will be any I already know.

1. Strange Pilgrim is from Italy. At first glance it seems quite poetic.

2. Rhubarb Sky has some great fall photos on the front page.

3. A Writer's Guilt/Gilt/Guild seems to be doing NaNoWriMo instead of NaBloPoMo but I liked the entry about the egg harp.

4. A quick skim indicates that 1 Crazy Family is an adoptive family with members from Guatemala and Ethiopia.

5. Oh random is cool. Finding Jane Doe is a blog by two adult adoptees about that experience.

6. Ridiculous! (Math! University! Comics! Blogs!) seems to be really mad about Daylight Saving Time.

7. The Art of Panic should have been the name of my blog. It seems the mayor of a small town has taken it instead.

8. April Elizabeth of But What I Really Hate is Laundry has 2 dogs so I probably love her.

9. Do you like Punk Rock, science and mothering little boys? You might need to check out Punky Mama.

10. So far this NaBloPoMo Inside the Look of a Conundrum seems a bit grumpy. We might need to go over there and cheer her up.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Whiling the Miles Away

There's a certain track of road I've covered a bit. Many of those trips, the ones for Christmas or photo shoots or lobsterbakes don't really count. It's the miles for death that you can feel under your feet. It's those trips that have both an urgency and a familiarity that's undeniable.

Today I make the trek again, hoping to catch someone before she leaves forever. Well, forever as far as we're concerned down here on the road at least. Most of the day will be sleeping and reading. The middle chunk will be among my people for even a little while to share...whatever it is we share. Tonight I'll be home again, sleeping in my own bed, preparing to vote in the wee hours of the morning before I go back to work tomorrow for the first time in a week.

This year hasn't been the worst one. There's been plenty of death in other years. This one, though, it's starting to drive home the point that it's coming for us, for my generation, for my people. The circle is unbroken, sure, but it's also closing in at an increasing rate. Do something nice for yourself today, please, before the circumference gets any smaller.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

First Day of Another One

What better way to kick off a month than by bursting into tears, right? It's NaBloPoMo and it's marathon Sunday and it's the first day of November. I walked the three blocks up to the raceway in time to catch the elite women sprinting by. I measure my progress in photography by my annual Paula Radcliffe photos. The moment I hit the course and hear the joyful freakish noise my neighborhood explodes in for every single runner I tear up. I can't help it. I don't run. I don't have any desire to but I am endlessly moved by the kind of brave and crazy that must be required for people to do this thing. Given what October was like (and even September) it only seemed right that I would stand my feet on my own turf, watch something contradictorily inspiring and cry a little. Hope you're kicking off this month in style, who knows what it will bring.