[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
today, i stared out my window and watched the snow fall onto the bright yellow forsythia bushes that have already come into bloom.
forsythia, with its eye-aching intensity, is the undeniable herald of spring. of those first days when the sun is warm, but air is still damp and chilly.
on saturday mornings, i used to go with my grandmother to get her hair done. we made the 30-minute drive every other saturday morning to anne dodd’s beauty salon.
in truth, the “salon” was simply a room added on to the back of anne’s large white two-story house. from the street, the only evidence of its existence was a small metal sign. it was lettered in elegant script, and squeaked when it swung in the strong spring breeze.
anne’s immaculate yard was ringed by a hedgerow of forsythia, and her winding sidewalk bordered by daffodils. when the first days of spring arrived, her house was like something out of a painting. the stark white house a perfect backdrop for the profusion of bold yellow, emerald green and clear blue. sometimes, on particularly sunny spring mornings, i would wait for my grandmother to take her place in anne’s chair, then i would go back outside to the front steps and stare up at the scene, transfixed.
sometimes the picture was completed by the appearance of anne’s beautiful white cat, princess. she would occasionally slip outside and take a seat at the top of the stairs leading up to the sweeping front porch.
inside anne’s salon, everyone was beautiful. glamorous. like the studio stills of ava gardner or rita hayworth. airbrushed to perfection. it was an effect achieved primarily through the use of low, soft lighting and pink light bulbs. however, in the years that have passed since then, i also think it was due in part to the ever-present mist of aquanet that hung in the air, acting like a diffusing lens. an ozone-destroying gaussian blur.
i would often sit on the floor, princess in my lap. i would stare up at the magical transformations taking place, as woman after woman sat down in anne’s chair looking rather ordinary and, an hour later, emerged a changed person. it was a metamorphosis.
she would twist their hair onto rollers of all sizes and colors. sometimes, i would stand beside the chair, watching her hands work, my own sliding back and forth over the sheets of thin white paper that anne used to blot the excess hairspray from the teased updos she shellacked with aquanet. other times, i would simply sit on the sofa and page through the books containing picture after picture of women with perfect coifs and blood-red lips. dreaming of the day i would be glamorous like them. dreaming of the day i would walk through the world with a chic updo, or a head full of tousled curls.
as with most small beauty salons, anne had a loyal group of regulars. most of them my grandmother’s age. they all knew one another’s affairs, and for years they had shared the floral-patterned chintz sofa, sipping tea out of dainty china cups while they waited their turn. they were a collective group of grandmothers to me. i called them the gammas.
“are you keeping your grades up?”
“sit up straight, dear. remember, no matter how expensive the blouse, it always looks cheap if you slouch.”
“she has such long fingers, dorothy. you really should get her into piano.”
i remember when it came time to lop off my waist-length locks into the trendy dorothy hamill pixie all of my classmates wore.
after an hour of trying to dissuade me from my decision, the gammas all stood around the chair. as anne made the first cut, i heard a collective intake of breath.
when she finally spun me around to have my first look in the mirror, i saw five faces standing behind me with smiles on their lips and tears in their eyes.
“ah, she’s all grown up.”
“she looks so beautiful.”
“dorothy, you should be so proud.”
and so it went.
for years, the gammas offered up advice on everything from etiquette…
“be sure your thank you note is handwritten. no one is too busy to sit down and write a personal note. these pre-printed thank you cards are a horrible thing. just horrible.”
“i know it’s not in vogue anymore, but there’s something to be said for wearing a stylish hat.”
…to life lessons…
“going to church doesn’t make you a christian anymore than standing in the garage makes you a car.”
it was the gammas who snapped photo after photo when i came to anne’s shop to have my hair swept up into an elegant french twist for my junior prom.
“oh, that dress! you’re a vision!”
“you look more like audrey hepburn than audrey hepburn herself.”
“dorothy, i could just cry.”
and it was the gammas hearts i broke when i decided to wear my hair in loose waves for my senior year, skipping a trip to anne’s.
as the years passed, i stopped accompanying my gran to anne’s, filling my saturdays with other things.
my gran would often tell me that the gammas had asked about me. i knew she kept them apprised over the years of my successes. of my triumphs. she probably told them about my failures and my losses, too, but i liked to think that, to them, i remained pristine and infallible.
as is the way of things, the gammas weren’t immortal.
as each one passed, i accompanied my gran to each wake. we always sat with anne, who always got the call to do their hair one last time.
“anne, she looks beautiful.”
all of the other gammas had passed away when my gran was diagnosed with cancer. the doctor talked with us about the prognosis, and about the course of chemotherapy he suggested. the cancer was advanced. the chemotherapy would be aggressive, and should start the next week.
we sat silently together at her kitchen table that night. she drank cup after cup of strong black coffee, chain smoking. we were working crossword puzzles, speaking only when we needed help with a clue.
“you know i want to be cremated.”
“yes, gran, i know.”
“and you know i’m going to lose my hair.”
“probably, gran. probably.”
“i suppose we should call anne tomorrow then.”
and so it came to be that i took my grandmother to anne dodd’s beauty salon for one last transformation. i explained everything to anne on the telephone when i called. i could hear her voice breaking as she told me that she would cancel her appointments for the next day. that we could come any time.
when we pulled up to the front gate that bright spring saturday, the same sign still swung in the wind. it had a few rust spots now, and its elegant black lettering was faded from too many days spent in the blinding sunlight.
stepping into the salon was like stepping back in time. it was all just as i remembered it. the smell of permanent solution. the cherub vase in the windowsill. the handwritten appointment book beside the telephone.
when anne hugged my grandmother, i smiled to myself. she still referred to her using “mrs.” and she still mispronounced her last name.
nothing had changed.
as my grandmother took her seat, i settled into the couch. in short order, a fluffy white cat had found its way to my lap.
“princess?” i muttered.
“oh, that’s snowball, honey,” said anne. “i’m afraid we lost princess years ago.”
i sat quietly, listening to the two old friends laughing and talking. sharing the latest gossip, catching up on each other’s lives, yet never acknowledging the reason for the day’s visit. i picked up a photo album on the side table next to me. there was a picture of anne, standing next to the sign in the front yard. its letters bold and clear, the forsythia in bloom beside her. her first day of business. thumbing through the pages, i saw photos of me, with my dorothy hamill haircut. me before my prom. and, always, the gammas. as i looked at the pictures of them, i realized that that all of them were gone, these smiling faces looking up at me.
and that, soon, my gran would be, too.
suddenly, my throat was tight. my face grew hot and my eyes blurred with tears.
“how do i look?”
i looked up from the photos.
“beautiful, gran. you’re just so beautiful.”
we said our good-byes and stepped out into the sunny spring day.
as we walked down the sidewalk, my gran reached over and took my hand in hers.
that moment her fingers laced in mine is frozen in my mind forever. the profusion of colors is so vivid that it looks unreal. as though i'm walking there beneath the cornflower blue sky, surrounded by the vibrating green of the grass, blinded by the buttery daffodils and the saffron forsythia, holding hands with a ghost.
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motherfucking newsflash: war is horrible. shit is blown up. people are killed.
i've been trying to take it easy this evening. watching television. trying to let my brain turn to mush and run out my ears.
i'm not sure if you've heard: there's a war.
it involves a great deal of shooting. and bombing. and sand. and general destruction of buildings and shit.
this is, apparently, news.
i can tell it's news because it's the only thing on every motherfucking channel. plus, it has logos and theme music. definitely news.
as tom brokaw pointed out this evening: "it's now been one week and one day." and guess what? thanks to your non-stop-in-your-face-don't-even-think-about-trying-to-think-about-something-else coverage, i'm already sick and tired of it.
i'm sick and tired of watching soundbite after soundbite of rumsfeld's "disgust" at the iraqis parading u.s. pows on television. let me just say, with all the respect my already-weary-self can muster: mr. rumsfeld, about 12 whole hours before your declaration of "disgust," i was having my own display of disgust right here on my couch. and what, may you ask, brought on my disgust? why it was television coverage of iraqi pows captured by americans! yes, that's exactly what it was. dozens of iraqi pows, sleeping on the sand while a fucking "news" camera got right up in their face and some "reporter" prattled on about "see how humanely we're treating these iraqi pows? look right here on the ground: we gave them food to eat!" it was appalling. but not nearly as appalling as seeing rumsfeld get all indignant about how unacceptable it was for the iraqis to "humiliate" american pows by putting them on television. i note that, after your grandstanding, mr. rumsfeld, the coverage of the iraqi pows summarily stopped. coincidence, i'm sure.
seriously. i'm trying very hard over here, you jackasses, but you're making it really really hard not to be supremely pissed at you.
and, don't even get me started on the amazing "coincidence" that a subsidiary of halliburton [that's vice president cheney's former employer for those of you just tuning in] has already been awarded the contracts to perform the repair work on the damaged iraqi oil wells. you know, you guys might want to put a smidge of effort into making it a little tougher for people to paint this as a war about oil and corporate interests. just a smidge. that's not too much to ask, is it? i mean, i'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but, again, you're making it really really hard.
for the record: i have unflinching unfailing and unswerving support for our troops. i swear. no, i'm not really clear on what our "goal" is, and, no, i'm not particularly in favor of the war itself. i have mixed feelings, quite honestly. but, that's neither here nor there.
i'm sorry, but i just don't feel we need fucking play-by-play coverage like it's the goddamn afc playoffs. i swear to god, somebody even had one of those john-madden-magic-pen things drawing circles around little tank icons. it's a war. not a game. cut that shit out.
shit is going to blow up every goddamn motherfucking day we're over there. unfortunately, innocent people on all sides of this are going to die every goddamn motherfucking day we're over there. maybe it's just me, but i find it ghoulish that when i get out of bed and turn on the television, the first sound i hear is today's "scoreboard" of how many more lives were lost while i slept.
this could go on for months.
so, please. i'm begging you. stop this right now.
i certainly am not advocating an information blackout, although i'm already weary of the barely opaque propagandist spins -- from both sides. and i'm not trying to bury my head in the sand. but this non-stop-24-7-coverage-of-every-single-minute-detail is just out of hand.
shock and awe? yeah, i'm shocked and awed, all right. shocked and awed that these talking heads actually seem startled that shit is getting blown up. that people are getting shot. and killed. it's a goddamn motherfucking war. what the fuck did you people think was going to happen?!
i'm equally shocked by their apparent disbelief that there are iraqis chanting anti-american sentiments. that iraqis are "playing dirty" and using ploys like disguises adn trickery to attack coalition troops.
i'm pretty sure that we invaded their country. again, just set aside whether you think we're right or wrong, because it is, ironically, a bit irrelevant to this point. bottom line is that they live there and we invaded their country with our own agenda. if some other country invaded the united states -- even if it was because they honestly believed we were suffering under tyrannical rule -- we'd damn skippy be out in the streets, right? right. and we would think we were doing the right thing and being patriotic. beauty is not the only thing in the eye of the beholder.
as for the dirty tricks...what, was i the only person who read anything at all about fucking vietnam? bombs were carried by kids, women...hell, even cute dogs. it was a grass roots war. they used everything they had at their disposal. this is nothing new. what the hell did you expect?
it's a goddamn motherfucking war, people.
pull your head out of your collective asses.
it's not news when there is sand in the middle of the motherfucking desert.
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four days in the asylum
on my first day of kindergarten, i wore a pink dress.
i remember it because it was one of the few times in my life, bridesmaid duty aside, that i can recall wearing a pink dress. there’s even a photograph as evidence.
in the picture, i’m standing there on the porch, all bright-eyed with my pink dress on, excitement all over my face. school. i was going to school! finally!
i spent exactly four days in kindergarten.
i remember that first day, i was all tingly with excitement. there would be learning! there would be challenges! there would be snacks!
about two hours into it, i was bored out of my skull. the teacher’s assistant was sitting at her desk reading the morning paper. we were supposed to be playing with wooden food.
i don’t know why.
i just remember turning the wooden grapes over in my hand and wondering how in the hell i got into this mess. i mean, i was definitely going to have to talk to my mom. certainly she couldn’t have known what kind of place she had sent me off to that morning. and there was no way she knew about the wooden grapes.
so, i remember sauntering over the teacher’s assistant and sitting down in front of her. after a few theatrical sighs, she looked up from her newspaper and spoke.
“what is it, sweetie? do you need to go to the bathroom?”
“no. i was just wondering if you were finished with the newspaper.”
“well, no i’m not. but if you want to look at some pictures, there are some really pretty picture books over there.”
“no, i wanted to read the paper.”
now she looked uncomfortable.
“well, honey, i’m…”
she stopped. i guess she wasn’t exactly sure what to say. after a few moments, she closed the newspaper and put it down on her desk.
“okay. how about you come over here and read me this story.”
and so i did. with a few hesitations, of course. i needed some help with a couple of words. i specifically remember legislature. when i finished, i turned to look at her.
she was white as a ghost, as though she’d never seen a child read before.
she almost ran over top of me in her scramble to go get the teacher.
i sat down in her chair and continued reading. she returned a few moments later with the teacher in tow.
“see, she’s doing it again.”
i looked around to see if there was some girl behind me doing something. again.
“read that story.”
“but i already read you that story.”
“well, read it again. for mrs. morrison.”
“but i’m in the middle of this story now.”
“well, fine then, read that one. just read something!”
and so i did.
this was all a bit confusing for me. what was the big deal? i read to my mom every evening. she never went all pale and ghosty. she never huddled with my dad in the corner, glancing sideways at me as though i was demon-possessed.
deciding i could no longer be bothered with trying to figure out what they were doing, i simply went back to reading the paper.
i noticed none of the other kids was reading the newspaper. or anything else, for that matter. they were all still acting fascinated by the wooden fruit. later that afternoon, a girl bit another girl when she wouldn’t give her a red block. then, during art session, some boy with red hair ate paste. a big handful of it. just put it right in his mouth, as though he was sneaking some magical treat and had to stuff as much as possible into his mouth, lest they take it away from him.
i remember being appalled. and thinking, “these kids are nuts. i’ve accidentally been sent to the nuthouse.”
the next day, we sat around a large table. the teacher handed out sheets of green paper with blue lines on it. then, she gave us pencils as big around as hot dogs, with big blue erasers on their ends.
“today, we’re going to practice writing our names!”
“okay,” i thought, “so, i’ll practice writing everyone’s names. this is okay. i mean, i already know my name, now i’ll learn how to write everybody else’s.”
she really meant that we’d learn to write our own name.
i wrote my name and then set my pencil down. as i looked around, i saw confused looks on the faces of the kids around me. some were staring off into space, clearly dreaming of wooden grapes. others were scratching meaningless lines on their papers, pressing down so hard they wore a hole in the green paper so you could see the shiny table through it. and, of course, the red-headed kid was just trying to eat his big blue eraser.
it was an asylum.
the boy next to me was named paul. paul was a twin. both paul and his brother were so pale as to be translucent. and they both had pale blonde hair that simply disappeared into their skin. their eyes were luminous and blue, as though lit from within.
paul was bent over his paper, focusing intently on his work.
i leaned over and watched him carefully.
after a few moments, he sat up and looked at me, a smile on his face.
i glanced at his paper.
“that’s not right. let me show you.”
and, with that, i took my pencil and drew a line through paul’s six-minute labor of love.
“p-a-u-l. see, you wrote p-a-l. that’s pal. not paul. it’s a-u…it makes the aw sound. like this – aw. you try.”
i put my hands on paul’s pale cheeks and said, “aw.”
he squeezed his lips together. but no “aw” sound came out. instead, his eyes grew big and he suddenly started to cry.
what in the world?
the teacher was there in the blink of an eye. i was grateful. clearly, paul was in dire need of assistance.
“what’s going on? what did you do to him?”
“nothing! he spelled his name wrong, so i fixed it. then i tried to tell him how a-u makes the ‘aw’ sound. then he just started crying.”
“oh my goodness!” she exclaimed as she helped paul from his seat.
paul’s shirt was made from the shiny polyester that was ever-so popular in the 70s. his was shades of blue, while his brother, peter, wore a matching shirt in shades of orange. they both had some sort of pattern on them, although i can’t remember exactly what. palm trees comes to mind, but the memory plays tricks, so one can never be sure.
paul also wore a pair of light blue pants. in retrospect, paul was quite the stylish young man. unfortunately, paul had a rather large dark spot on the front of his baby blues.
he had wet his pants.
the teacher’s assistant was standing there now.
“she made him wet his pants?” she asked incredulously.
“i was just trying to help,” i muttered, rolling my eyes. i was truly disgusted by the whole affair.
what i remember next is the feeling of being a rag doll. you know how you see little girls with rag dolls, and they have a hold of one of the doll’s hands and the doll is just sort of hanging there, almost dangling behind the little girl, bouncing with each step of the girl’s feet?
i remember the teacher grabbing my hand, and we were off.
to get to the principal’s office we had to go through three classrooms. i remember waving to a neighbor who was in the second grade classroom on my way through.
“hey, amy!” i shouted, my head askew from the velocity of mrs. morrison’s gait.
“uh-oh,” said amy. she looked concerned.
i remember being summarily deposited in a wooden chair in the waiting room of the principal’s office. the waiting room was the domain of mrs. cyrus, the principal’s secretary. she was a very large black woman, with bright blue frames for her eyeglasses. she always wore an armful of bangle bracelets that jangled quite a racket as she typed. on this morning, she wasn’t typing. instead, she was filing. her nails, to be precise. they were crimson and shiny, and she was humming in a low soft voice.
suddenly, i heard a raised voice on the other side of the closed door to the principal’s office.
“…get her out of my class…”
mrs. cyrus stopped filing.
“…reading the newspaper…”
she looked at me over the top of her bright blue frames.
“…scaring the other children…”
her eyebrow arched.
i squirmed under her gaze. she was unrelenting. i had to offer an explanation. defend myself.
she was waiting.
“i don’t know why they’re scared of me,” i said. “one of them ate paste. i mean, that’s just not right! eating paste! i think this place is a nuthouse, mrs. cyrus!”
“i know, sweetie,” she said, shaking her head and going back to her filing. “lord, don’t i know.”
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a moment of reflection
well, oscar has come and gone. and, so, a few observations:
note to jennifer lopez: i was thinking to myself, “man, i just don’t know of a worse idea in all the world than an asymmetrical caftan.” then you went and wore one that was seafoam green, thereby proving me wrong. then, when i was ready to say, “okay, okay…i can’t think of anything worse than a seafoam green asymmetrical caftan,” you went and smeared glittery seafoam green eyeshadow all over your creepily over-bronzed-liz-taylor-looking self! and i don’t mean liz-taylor-looking like cat on a hot tin roof. you know what i’m sayin’: caftan-wearing liz. that’s what i’m sayin’.
note to adrien brody: you go with your bad self! although with the floppy hair and the big-ass wide tie, you looked like some sort of emo phillips/matthew lesko freakish hybrid. which is unfortunate. but, you said “holy shit” when you won, and then you said “holy shit” again when roman polanski won, which scores you cool points with me, because i love a good cuss, especially when you slip it past the network censors. plus, you carped the diem and planted a big ol’ tongue kiss [now referred to by congress as a “freedom kiss”] on halle berry. and i have to give you a big “hell yeah” for that. i mean, this is your moment, right? go for it. i would have given halle a big ol’ tongue kiss myself. i mean, seriously…it’s halle berry. she's smokin' hot. i did think it was sad that no one tried to tongue kiss meryl streep, though. although i thought dustin hoffman was giving her a really creepy “hey baby” kind of look during that “here are people who won oscars once…not that you remember that” tribute. peter o'toole had the opportunity to plant one on meryl, but he didn't go for the tongue kiss. man. i bet meryl streep feels like a big loser.
note to kim basinger and marisa tomei: speaking of that “here are people who won oscars once” tribute thing, i noticed your inconspicuous absences. to which i say this: “you're not really trying to make me think that you, kim basinger and marisa tomei, were too busy to come to the academy awards, are you?!” dubious, ladies. dubious.
note to jennifer garner: i applaud your loyalty to your employer and how they probably said, “jennifer, we’re your employer, and we want you to do this really lame-o bit with mickey mouse who is not real and will only be an animated mickey mouse,” but, someone should have talked to you abou the whole rob lowe/snow white fiasco. still, though, you came through like the west virginia girl you are and were able to maintain some dignity by throwing down some mad phat french pronunciation skilz. not that that makes up for the mouse entirely.
note to all the chicks: way to wear some dresses that look like ass. nice job there. well done, you! jesus.
note to michael moore: dude, we know already. blah blah fictitious president blah. blah duct tape. we know. listen, you’re a guy who gets to go on tv all the time. you make movies. you even write books that people actually buy and shit. you don’t have enough bully pulpits at your disposal that you have to go and piss all over the academy awards, too? even susan sarandon had enough sense to shut her piehole and just introduce the "here are a bunch of people who died even though you only clap for the actors, you self-absorbed jackasses" montage. time and place, my friend...time and place. plus, the saddest part is that the band was playing all over your best line: “all i’m saying is that if the pope and the dixie chicks are against you, you really need to rethink your position.” that is pure gold. however, because you got up there and got your jackass on, nobody heard that. except me.
note to that totally hot guy from y tu mama tambien: call me.
note to salma hayek: what in the hell do you have to be so angry about? is it just me? does she not look like she’s getting ready to spit in your face, like, all the time? how can you have a rack like that and be pissed at the world?
note to sean connery: jerry seinfeld called. they need the puffy shirt back. muy pronto.
addendum to sean connery: when one of the nominees is named “catherine” and one is named “kathy” it is seriously uncool to simply say “the oscar goes to…catherine.” ‘cause, really, we’re believe you’re super cool with your whole "check me out, i'm on a first-name basis with all these famous people in hollywood, plus i'm james bond" thing. but, honesly, that was totally not cool. anybody who saw the look of confusion on kathy bates’ face knows: uncool. even if you are james bond and shit.
note to steve martin: call me.
note to jack nicholson and nicolas cage: how awesome was it, the way you guys looked genuinely happy for adrien brody when he won and you guys didn't? man…you guys are actors. seriously. i was totally buying it. of course, it could just be that both of you were drunk and/or stoned off your asses. hard to say, really.
note to pedro almodóvar: i love you so much, but i am totally not kidding when i say to you: dude, you look like a goat. a happy little goat. or maybe pan, that half-goat faun guy. you know, the one with the pipes? yeah, him.
note to diane lane: it's amazing how you just get more beautiful with age. but, although women say supportive shit like, “that’s awesome,” inside we all hate you for it. just so you know. plus there was that one movie where you got to make out with viggo mortensen. so, we hate you for that, too.
note to julia roberts: did someone spray paint your hair “blonde”? when will you learn that you should stop fucking with your hair and just wear it the way it was made? oh, and ps: everyone is over you.
roman freakin' polanski? damn. hope you did better in your office pool than i did in mine.
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where blogs come from
this blog is "born" monday through friday, between 8:00 and 9:00 am. eastern time.
although my day at the office starts at 8:00, the office itself doesn't open until 9:00. so, that gives me a 60-minute window of opportunity. assuming there aren't any important pressing work-type things that i have to do before 9:00. and, honestly, there usually aren't.
the ideas come during my 37-minute rail commute. it's not until then that i let myself start to think about what i'll write that morning. i like it to be as spontaneous as it can be. whatever comes to mind during that red line ride is what you get that day.
once i sit down at my desk, i practice what i lovingly refer to as "gut writing." i sit down with an idea of what story i'm going to tell, and then i type for 60 minutes. and then i title it. and then i post it. sometimes i remember to spell check it first. but not always.
i try not to do too much editing, or polishing, or rewriting. sometimes, if something is really bothering me i'll make a change [for example, i left a word out of yesterday's post. a whole word. i couldn't stand it. it made me crazy. so i edited it.]. but, for the most part, i just put it out there. then, i go back later and read it and say, "well, i wish i'd done that a little differently," or "hmm, i could have conveyed that idea better with this word." and then i try to remember those lessons for the next time i write. i guess it's trial by first draft or something. anyway, i like to think that this process is going to help me improve my writing. but that's just some idea i had. i don't know if it works. i'm not suggesting you try it at home or anything like that.
by now, you must certainly be wondering why in the hell i'm telling you this.
because the winds of change have blown my way.
i know that some of you who come here regularly are used to seeing a new post up first thing in the morning. however, i'm afraid i'm about to throw a change-up. see, there's this massive, obnoxious, oppressive project at work. they're actually making me work. hard. every day. for a month.
clearly, they have no concern for how this stupid work-type thing will impact my ability to meet my obligation to you, the blog-reading public.
again i say to you: bastards.
at any rate, this means my hour of free-writing time is no more. poof. vanisho. el goneo.
so, bottom line: what does this mean for you, the tequila mockingbird consumer?
well, it means that new posts will go up every evening as opposed to every morning. so, you know...um...i guess that's it. i know, i know...earth-shattering stuff, right?
i just wanted to be sure you're looped in.
so. consider yourself looped.
and look for a new post here monday after 6:00. that's pm. eastern time.
and as always, thanks for stopping by.
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my oscar picks. like anyone gives a rat's ass.
as a movie buff, i have a real love/hate relationship with oscar. on one hand, i’m mesmerized. i sit, glued to my television, hoping against hope that those who have truly entertained or amazed me will be recognized [‘cause the oscars should always be about what i like. as should most other things, really. but, i digress.] on the other hand – that would be the “hate” hand – it’s kind of gross the way it’s all turned into some big prom king and queen popularity contest. with advertisements and “well, he’ll probably win, but it will be more of a recognition of his body of work rather than this particular performance.” what a load of crap that is. imagine you’re some guy like john c. reilly who did some kick-ass work and you’re lucky enough to get a nomination and then they turn around and give it to freakin’ paul newman ‘cause he’s a legend. you know he's thinking, "dude, give him a lifetime achievement award. quit cornholing me over here."
then, of course, there’s the whole glamour thing. i love seeing movie stars all dressed up and looking glamorous. on the flip side, i, along with most of america, hate joan rivers. so, there you go.
this year seems to be a pretty interesting line-up, unless, of course, you find the whole thing a bore, in which case it’s never going to be interesting to you and you should go play in the archives instead of reading this post.
if chicago doesn’t steamroll the whole thing, this year’s race could provide a few suprises. actually, i guess if chicago doesn’t steamroll the whole thing, that, in and of itself will be a surprise. at any rate, my in-depth and spot-on analysis of the major races follows. my money’s on the nominees in bold…even if my heart lies elsewhere.
adrien brody [the pianist] followed the daniel-day-lewis-patented-i’m-so-method-i’m-insane route. i don’t really dig on that. jack nicholson [about schmidt] got lots of early buzz for giving a performance that is pretty much your typical jack nicholson performance…only it got labeled “brave” [a big trend this year] because he played a man his own age who isn’t banging a 30-year old starlet. oooo…so brave! michael caine was, apparently, really good in the quiet american. of course, no one saw that movie. therefore, michael caine, you get no oscar love. go home and rub on your hannah and her sisters oscar, okay? as for you, nicolas cage [adaptation], after con air and gone in 60 seconds, you will never receive another academy award. ever. you know how people always say, “just being nominated is an award”? yeah, well, you should practice saying that. a lot. i’m pretty sure that if the academy could actually revoke awards, they’d take back that one they gave you for leaving las vegas, just on principle. this one is a tough call between nicholson and daniel day-lewis. but, when all else fails, go with crazy. this is a principle i use not only in selecting oscar winners, but also significant others, by the way.
salma hayek is the michael caine of this category. except she didn’t win an oscar for hannah and her sisters. or for desperado. hmmm…okay, maybe she’s a combination of michael caine and nicolas cage. but with a killer rack. i mean, seriously, have you seen the rack on this chick? anyway, long story short is that she may have been perfectly wonderful, but, really…who saw frida? and diane lane [unfaithful] also suffers from nicolas cage syndrome. see: judge dredd. i mean, i guess there’s always a chance…after all, you’ve got your kim basinger and marisa tomei…but they were supporting actresses. i think you’re screwed. and, speaking of screwed: julianne moore was the best thing about far from heaven, but she’s her own worst enemy – she's up for supporting actress for the hours, and many people will vote for her there and nobody will vote for her in both. that leaves renee zellweger [chicago] and nicole kidman [another “brave” performance. because she put on a fake nose in the hours. whatever.]. this one may be too close to call, but i give it to nicole kidman. by a nose. sorry. couldn’t resist.
best supporting actor:
my biggest complaint about this category: where is dennis quaid? and, arguably, richard gere? two names one might not normally associate with academy award nominations, but both more than worthy of a nod this year. having said that, the five guys who are nominated are all worthy, too. christopher walken [catch me if you can] and paul newman [road to perdition] are both nominated more for careers than singular performances, i think. ed harris [the hours] is good in everything he does. but, for me, this race comes down to two guys…john c. reilly [chicago] and chris cooper [adaptation]. i’d love to see either one of them win, honestly. reilly was a showstopper in chicago, and he also turned in strong performances in the hours, gangs of new york and the good girl [which i really enjoyed]. he’s awesome. but, i don’t think it’s his year…unless you can vote straight party ticket on an oscar ballot and just vote for chicago for every category with a single stroke. i’ve been a fan of chris cooper since his quietly riveting performance in john sayles’ matewan -- a story near and dear to my west virginia heart. in adaptation, i couldn’t take my eyes off of him, and i think he’ll take it this year.
best supporting actress:
kathy bates [about schmidt] is our “brave” nominee in this category. brave because she got naked and she’s not 25 and she’s not a size 4. hey, i get naked every day. big whoop. i’m brave. give me an oscar. hell, i’d settle for the oscar goodie basket, and you can keep your stupid gold naked bald guy. julianne moore [the hours]…we already discussed that one. and, queen latifah [chicago] was great when she sang that song...but, uh...that was just that one song. so, it comes down to catherine zeta-jones [chicago] and meryl streep [adaptation]. normally, who wouldn’t pick streep here? i mean, sophie’s choice versus the t-mobile spokesperson? but, there’s that whole chicago sweep thing going on, so who knows. here’s what i say: zeta-jones has come off like a total bitch in the press lately [suing some british magazine for millions because they published unauthorized photos of her that made her look “fat”…hey, catherine, standing next to renee zellweger [ aka “the human shoelace”] in next-to-nothing costumes didn’t exactly make you look svelte. maybe you oughta slap a lawsuit on her bony ass?] and most people think meryl streep is the gold standard. man, this one is a tough call. i’m gonna go with meryl streep. but i could be dead wrong on this one.
peter jackson for the two towers. no question. huh? what’s that? oh. not nominated. i see. and, what, may i ask, the fuck? okay, fine. then i’ll go with rob marshall for chicago.
if you don’t put your $20 on chicago, then feel free to mail it directly to me.
and, as a would-be-wish-i-could-be-why-aren’t-i-already writer, let me just say throw these in:
original screenplay goes to far from heaven. even though i didn’t love it like the critics did, and even though i don't think the real achievement of the film was in the screenplay [i thought it was more about the visuals, the direction, the style, the feel of the movie as a whole] , it didn't get a ton of nominations, so they’ll throw it a win here to show mad phat respect. adapted screenplay goes to the hours i think. if you read the book, then saw the movie, i think you’ll agree that the screenplay actually improved upon a pulitzer prize winning book. a whole lot.
one last note: michael moore’s bowling for columbine should be a lock for best documentary. man…i can’t wait to hear his acceptance speech.
so, there you go. commence with the office pooling.
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ah, spring. the time of year when a young woman's thoughts turn to...phlegm
as much as i'm happy to see the arrival of spring [better war protest weather], i'm pretty much already fed up with this whole wake-up-every-morning-with-some-giant-phlegm-stalactite-hanging-down-the-back-of-your-throat thing.
sorry for that. i know it was gross. but, seriously...it's really pissing me off.
so, you might have seen this on the news.
let me be sure i understand this:
cooter, the dirt farmer from north carolina, is able to drive a jeep towing a flatbed trailer with a bright green tractor on it -- which might be laden with explosives and is definitely laden with a big-ass sound system being used to blast john phillip sousa marches -- right out onto the middle of the national mall, closing down parts of downtown dc and the federal government...but you're telling me that we're prepared for terrorist attacks?
forgive me if i have doubts.
this weekend i found an a-mazing deal on a really hot pair of shoes. they were on clearance, and they had my size, and i was very very excited.
i love shoes.
they're black [of course]. nice heel...high, but not too high. ankle strap. very va-va-voom.
so, i took them home and carefully unwrapped them, admiring their sleek and sexy profile. after a few moments of admiration, i sought a permanent home for my newest additions among the long line of black shoes already in residence.
ah. there's a spot. right there.
right beside that pair of black shoes. with the high, but not too high heel. with the ankle strap. the very va-va-voom ones.
those would be the same shoes. exactly the same. same brand. same size. same freakin' shoes.
allow myself to introduce myself: wile e. coyote. supergenius.
does alex trebek really think that we don't know that he has all the answers, including the phoenetic spelling, written on those fucking blue cards in front of him?
i'd love to have a chance to go on jeopardy. i'd totally quote floyd from true romance when he's sitting there on the couch, smoking that bong made out of the honey bear squeeze bottle and he looks at that guy and says, "don't condescend me, man."
seriously. i consider myself a non-violent person, but every time i watch jeopardy anymore, i'm just itchin' to smack the taste right out of his arrogant mouth. between him and those damn clue crew idiots, that show is totally ruined for me now.
this past weekend, someone told me that if i was a song, i'd be van morrison's moondance.
which is really cool because, when i was in college, a guy told me that if i was a song i'd be gershwin's rhapsody in blue.
so, clearly, my cool quotient is on the rise. which is to be expected, right? i mean, they say women peak in their 30's. so, i should have expected to be a much cooler song in my 30's, i guess.
having said all that, i just have to ask: is this a common thing that i didn't know about? like, do people regularly say to other people, "if you were a song, you would be...?"
i don't think i've said that to anyone. ever. it seems a little barbara-walters-"if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" to me.
still, though. i'm grateful for the compliment. it made me kind of swoony*, actually.
*yeah. i said "swoony." last week i invented "jackassical" and everybody thought that was great, so i thought i'd make up yet another word and see how that went over.
speaking of jackassical, i'd like to give a big fat motherfucking "thanks" to the jackassical fucktards over at haloscan. not only has your commenting service been as reliable as ass, but you also managed to lose something like 50 comments. including some really nice ones where sarah said she'd like to put lipstick on me and greg said he had a piece of paradise with my name on it, and someone else said i was a stone fox.
see, if you didn't lick nuts, then i'd know who said i was a stone fox. but, since you do, in fact, lick nuts, i do not know.
i'd like to encourage you -- especially if your comment was among those that got shitcanned -- to send good wishes to the folks at haloscan by way of pinstruck, my favorite e-voodoo source. so, feel free to visit pinstruck and send a happy voodoo message to contactAThaloscan.com.
it's totally anonymous, totally free, and totally creepy. enjoy.
tomorrow: my oscar picks. aren't you just giddy with excitement?
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an offer i couldn't refuse
it was the end of august. a long, hot and humid summer of unemployment after my first taste of corporate downsizing. actually, my company was so downsized that it ceased to exist. we were mostly young and single, so we conspired to live off of our unemployment checks for the summer, getting drunk and getting tan.
like all things too good to be true, it had to come to an end.
and, so it was that i came to work at the attorney general’s office. i submitted a resume to fill a legal assistant position. i’d done that sort of thing before, and the idea of government holidays appealed to me in the most profound way.
i remember how surprised i was that i was to be interviewed by the attorney general himself. i waited patiently in his office.
the door swung wide in what would later become an all-too-familiar ritual. he stormed into the room, a small entourage in tow, blustering about something or other. he was a formidable man, with a headful of thick white hair. his voice had a deep, booming timbre that you could feel in your stomach like a bass drum in a marching band.
he carried on, ranting and raving, for about ten minutes, finally dismissing the others and turning his attention to me.
the standard-issue cursory questions came next.
where had i worked prior to this?
why had i left?
where did i see myself professionally in three years?
“what political party are you registered with?”
“are you married?”
“so, do you go to church?”
i’d always thought such questions were illegal. but, surely, i was mistaken. if the attorney general was asking them, then i must be mistaken.
“i consider myself a liberal, sir.”
“no, sir, i am not married.”
“well, i consider myself a spiritual person…”
“don’t you dodge my question, young lady,” he bellowed. “we do important work in these halls! important work. the work of the people. god’s work. not just anyone is qualified to do the work we do here.”
i left the interview shaking, convinced it couldn’t have gone any worse. i stopped off to have a few drinks, and arrived home hours later to find three messages on my answering machine.
i was hired.
according to the chief of staff, the attorney general had taken a liking to me. thought i was “spirited.” as such, i would be working exclusively for him– and no one else in the office. research, writing…important work.
they gave me a swell office in the rotunda of the capitol building, and i settled in nicely.
about two weeks later, the door to my office swung open. i noticed after a while that the attorney general never simply opened a door. there was nothing grand in the gesture of simply opening a door. if he was to come through a door, it would be flung open. wide.
and, now, here he was, standing in my doorway, his hair disheveled. and he was speaking german.
after a few moments, i interrupted him as politely as i could. after all, he might be telling me about important work that needed done. and i had absolutely no idea what he was saying.
“excuse me, sir? you may recall, i mean, we did discuss this a couple of times last week, and actually, it may have come up during my interview as well,” i began.
he was in my office now, pacing back and forth in front of my desk, his imposing stature made even more so by the shock of hair and the booming voice which was echoing impressively off the marble columns just outside my office door. he was still ranting. still in german.
“sir? i don’t speak german. spanish, sure. some french, and probably could manage some italian…i mean, written italian. probably not spoken italian. but definitely not german, sir.”
it was as though i was talking to the stapler.
after a few moments, i gave up trying to explain to him that i couldn’t understand a damn word he was saying. i figured that, if he stopped and turned to me, i would simply say, with all the enthusiasm i could muster, “eich bein ein berliner.”
but, before i had the chance to proclaim that i was a jelly donut, the attorney general abruptly stopped pacing and turned to me. it was as if he had been in a trance. as though he had no idea how he had gotten into my office, or even who i was. which, actually, would have been just fine with me at that point.
“julia. come with me.”
“yessir…um, do i need a pen? my purse? sir?”
but, he was already out the door and striding purposefully back toward his office.
once in his office, he motioned for me to take a seat. even though i had only been there a few weeks, i had been summoned here dozens of times. a captive audience. i had listened for two hours one afternoon as he waxed poetic about his mother, explaining to me that she and i shared the same name, and what a great burden that was to have placed upon my shoulders. how i should endeavor every day to be worthy of such a noble name.
this was the way of things.
everyone knew it. no one talked about it. and no one had the decency to warn me before i took the job. he loved to hear himself talk. his mind knew no linear track. the attorney general knew things. lots of things. mostly historical things. the kind of stuff so obscure that the people over at the civilization channel don’t even know about it. and he loved to hear himself talk about these things.
his monologues would often last upwards of forty minutes. and all you could do was sit there, stock still. waiting. praying for it to end. he always shouted out to his secretary before one of these sessions, “martha! no interruptions!” as if he found some perverse pleasure in stripping you of the faint hope that you might find salvation in a phone call or a knock at the door.
but, there would be no rescue.
the topic on this particular day was loyalty. i don’t remember everything we covered, but i know we took detours through both the ancient greek and the ancient roman histories. then, we veered sharply into union politics. then, off we went into the machinations of the two-party political system in modern times.
i was dizzy. but, at least it was all in english.
suddenly, he opened his desk drawer. he reached in, and pulled out a book which he threw down on the conference table in front of me.
it was mario puzo’s the godfather.
it was a paperback copy and had clearly seen better days. its front cover was bent, and one corner was missing entirely.
i noticed two post-it notes peeking out from the yellowed pages.
“julia, friendship is everything. friendship is more than talent. it is more than government. it is almost the equal of family. never forget that."
“um. yessir. i see.”
"a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
“of course, sir.”
“julia, do you see those two yellow tabs in that book?”
“yes sir, i see them.”
“i need you to translate those pages into latin.”
“you mean the two pages with the post-it notes on them?”
“no. the pages between the post-it notes.”
“yes, latin. the mother of all languages, the lingua franca of all mankind, the….”
i have no idea what he said after that. there was a screaming chorus of voices in my head drowning him out. latin? it’s not like anyone even spoke latin. not romans. not even latin americans. no one spoke latin. it’s a dead language. surely he had caught that on the history channel at some point.
but, even more loud than the voices droning on about latin being a dead language was the refrain of “why?”
with every fiber of my being, with every ounce of strength i had, i fought them. for i knew better than to ask. i had heard the stories about those foolish souls who had dared to ask that question.
everyone knew the inevitable response to the inquiry. it was always swift, always delivered in the same booming voice, with the same withering glare: “because i. am. the. attorney. general. that iswhy.”
and, so, off i went with the dogeared paperback in my hand and my heart in my throat.
i headed off to the archives, located in the dark, dank basement of a nearby building. i introduced myself to the reference librarian and asked him for help.
“a latin dictionary, huh? lemme guess…the attorney general’s office, right?”
“how did you know? i’m working for him, and he asked me….”
“working for him? what, directly for him?” he laughed. “well, make yourself at home. i imagine you and i will get to be fast friends. hell, i’ll even set up a desk for you if you want. you’re gonna be spending a lot of time over here.”
the latin dictionary was a behemoth. and dusty. i had no conjugation information, no syntax or grammatical structure information. i was fucked.
by the time i was summoned back to the office, i had managed to come up with exactly half a page of what i’m sure would have translated to absolute gibberish.
i remember the long walk back to my office across the capitol grounds. my head hung low. i brightened momentarily when i remembered how much i had enjoyed my summer of unemployment, but my spirits sank quickly as i recalled that the first hint of fall was in the air. it would be a long, cold unemployed winter.
i sat down in his office. he was turned toward the window with his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. in his hands was some massive atlas that he appeared to be studying with great solemnity. i entertained myself for the next ten minutes trying to decide if i should quit or wait to be fired.
finally, he turned to me.
i decided to take the bull by the horns. show some of that infamous spirit that had landed me here in the first place.
“sir, this is all i have. i’m sorry, sir, but i’m afraid i just didn’t get this finished, and what i did do, well, i just don’t think it’s actually translated properly. i’m sorry, sir.”
he looked at me as though he had never seen me before.
“the latin, sir. the godfather?”
“the godfather…yes, of course. a fine, fine piece of work. i’ve called you here because i have an assignment for you, julia.”
what the hell?
“back in 1928, then-president calvin coolidge called upon…”
it was as though i had been transported to another dimension. was he serious? had i spent the entire morning poring over that moldy dictionary, drenched in flop sweat, my head throbbing with each passing second only for him to act as though he had never asked me to do anything at all? the screaming chorus of voices came back, this time demanding an explanation.
but, again, i sat silent.
“…he asked him how much it would cost to outright buy the west virginia legislature…and i need to know what that figure was.”
when i arrived back at the archives, my new friend was waiting with a smile on his face.
“what is it now?”
“well, i’m supposed to find out how much this guy,” i said, sliding the scrap of paper across the desk, “said it would cost to buy the west virginia legislature back in 1928. at first, i thought this would be even tougher than the godfather – some wild goose chase that turned out to be. but, as luck would have it, i understand that someone wrote a biography of this guy.”
he read the name on the scrap of paper. “oh, yeah…it’s your lucky day. i know exactly where this is. follow me.”
we went further down into the archives basement than i even imagined you could go. he led me to a dark corner, and pointed to the top shelf.
“there you go,” he smiled.
“all of them. his biography is fifteen volumes.”
his laughter echoed in my head long after he had gone.
as i pulled the first volume from the shelf and set it on the small wooden desk in the corner, a thick cloud of dust enveloped my head. it smelled like my great-grandmother’s photo albums, and i could taste it in the back of my throat.
i stared at the book for a few moments, then took out my pen and scribbled, “$55,000” on the legal pad i had brought with me.
i reshelved the book and sat undisturbed for hours until the call came to summon me back with my treasure.
“that is fine work, julia,” he said, setting the paper aside with barely a glance.
“now, i need to know how many tiles make up the ceiling of the supreme court chamber.”
“would that be the west virginia supreme court, sir, or the united states supreme court?”
“why, julia, that is a very fine question. i’m glad to see someone around here has an eye for detail.”
“thank you, sir. it’s important work we do here, sir.”
“yes, julia. yes, it is.”
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sometimes it's okay to laugh at homeless people
you probably stopped by today to to read an account of the totally surreal and incredibly wacky experiences i had when i worked as the public information officer for the attorney general of the state of west virginia.
that'll have to wait until monday, though.
'cause this morning, on my way to the office, i was so inspired and amused that i parted with $5.
and i just know you would have too, if you'd been there.
past filene's, but before the godiva shop, there he was. all bundled up in layer after layer of tattered tan workclothes, and gloves that were more holes than not. he was wearing a bright yellow knit cap, because, even though the sky is blue and the sun is shining, the wind is bitterly cold this morning-before-the-ides-of-march.
he had a smile on his unshaven face and his voice was strong and clear in its refrain:
"the department of homeland security has done nothing to protect me! support the cause! ensure that every american has the duct tape and plastic sheeting he needs to protect himself!"
you get a five-spot for originality, my friend. and for making my day.
oh, and good luck with the duct tape. personally, i think they're yanking your chain. i mean, if all it takes is some duct tape and plastic sheeting to protect you from whatever they're bringin', then i gotta wonder why we need a full-scale war. well, i wonder that anyway...but that's beside the point. anyway, good luck with that whole duct tape thing.
notes: thanks to all of you who responded yesterday! especially those of you who said really nice things about my hair and my lips and how hot i am and stuff like that. you guys sure know how to make a gal feel swell! seriously, you're all invited to my place for the most swank-ass cocktail party ever. you can even move in if you want. just bring your own pillows.
i also wanted to follow-up on my father. thanks again to all of you who sent supportive and encouraging messages over the past several weeks. i wanted to be sure and let you all know that my father is being released from the hospital today. his condition has stabilized, although he still has one more operation ahead of him. the doctors plan to perform that procedure in about four weeks, giving his heart time to stabilize before going through yet another lengthy operation. although he still has some tough times ahead of him, we're hopeful that simply being back home among his family and friends will go a long way toward lifting his spirits and helping on the road to a full recovery.
have a great weekend!
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give a little bit…give a little bit of your love
in my surfing adventures, i’ve come across a surprising amount of discussion surrounding that age-old question: "what is a blog?"
evidently there's some definition floating around out there that says that a blog is, primarily, a collection of links to other sites.
okay. i don't get that. i mean, isn't that what google and yahoo and other portals are for?
so, i guess by definition, this site is not a blog.
but, today...today, there will be blogging here in the strict definition sense.
first of all, i'm going to join in the "i'll show you mine if you show me yours" trend that i've seen on a few of my favorite blogs lately.
first off, the always-amusing-always-witty-and-terribly-internet-famous sarah b. gave everyone what they've been clamoring for: a glimpse of her glamorous kisser! then, keeping the ball rolling, jr invited commenters to post links to pictures of themselves [see his march 5 entry]. a great idea!
so, here you go, kids: here's mine. feel free to show me yours. and remember: this is a family show.
next up in our link extravaganza is a list of sites from which i receive regular referral traffic.
link love is a hard thing to keep up with. the list on the left is made up of blogs that i try to read on a regular basis. but, i’m not terribly good about keeping it updated.
so, for the record: it’s nothing personal. i’m just a bit lax about keeping my links updated. i mean, come on – you don’t think i’ve really been listening to the moulin rouge soundtrack for a month straight, do you? no. i’m just a sloth.
but, i am a grateful sloth, so, here you go kids – a bunch of really swell folks who link to me but my lazy ass hasn’t gotten around to thanking them with a reciprocal link:
amidst a tangled web
confessions of an add physics major
happy cutting stone
i see truffala trees...everywhere
not my dissertation
private thoughts of boogie's mom
queen of rambles
secret agent josephine
sitting on a rock
the four corners
ya gotta believe
if i overlooked you i'm really sorry --- so, let me know if i missed you.
my pal [and amazing writer] sour bob was kind enough to suggest my site to the folks at geek philosopher, and they in turn were kind enough to select it as a philosopher's pick. geek philosopher seems to be a great resource for finding some new quality blogs to read. you know...get out...stretch your blog legs...see the blog world. the site has the philosopher's picks section, which is chosen by the site owner, and there's also an open listing section that anyone can add their listing to. the listings include excerpts from each blog so you can get a feel for the writer’s style before you click over. there are some great writers blogging away out here in anonymity…give ‘em some love.
and, by love, of course, i mean traffic, links, comments and praise. we can’t all be household-name-bloggers like dooce [113 comments?! damn.] or moxie [$100 donors?! holy shit.]. most bloggers are just blogging away, wondering if anyone is really out there reading their stuff. wondering if it’s all total crap. i feel very lucky to have a wonderful group of loyal readers, and the days when i pop over and see 20 comments, i’m thrilled…even if some of them say “that was total crap.”
hey, at least i moved you to say something.
anyway, get out there and read some blogs today, and make their day by letting them know they’re not posting into oblivion. tell them that they rock. or that they suck. just tell them something. link to them. email them. and if you're really keen on them, submit them to msnbc’s weblog central or some other site to help spread the word.
[but be sure and come back here when you're finished.]
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post hoc ergo propter bullshit
in college, i took a logic class. mostly to fulfill my philosophy requirement. also because there wasn’t anything else at that time on that day that i could possibly use to meet my degree requirements.
my professor was a red-haired german woman about 300 years old. she was probably 5’ 3”, and the meanest person i’ve ever met. her name was herta.
herta was the most grueling taskmaster it was my unfortunate experience to cower before during my college years. we met twice a week for what seemed like six hours. we constructed argument after argument only to have her dissect them until she had irrefutably proven that we couldn’t convincingly argue that water was wet.
after we would finish explaining, in detail, what we thought was an airtight proof, she would just throw chalk at us and start yelling in german.
she made me cry once. not from the sting of the chalk, but because she said my argument was fatally flawed. man, i hate that.
two guys i went to high school with were in the same class. they thought the class was going to be a cakewalk and were learning all-too-quickly that they were dead wrong. on my way into class one day, they met me outside the building.
“let’s blow off class.”
“blow off class today. we’re going bowling.”
“i suck at bowling.”
“i think you’re missing the point.”
not only did i suck at bowling, but i didn’t blow off classes. ever. never skipped a day of class in my whole life. not because i was some uptight moralistic candy-ass, but because i was such a freakin’ dork that i actually liked class too much to blow it off. especially college classes. i liked the thinking, the talking, the debating.
still, though…who couldn’t use a break from das fuhrer, right?
when we came to class the next time, she asked the three of us to stay after.
“you have missed a test. you can make it up, but it must be done now, and this will be your only chance.”
all in all i thought i’d rather just take a zero, but my partners in crime volunteered us for the make up.
she took us to the bar across the street from campus and made us buy her pitchers of beer and plates of french fries* while she sat across the table from us. she actually interrupted our test-taking to let us know she needed yet another pitcher.
“but, that’s your third.”
the only response was an icy glare, and what sounded like something really rude in german. of course, "have a nice day" probably sounds really rude in german, so who knows?
“okay, then. i’ll just go get you another pitcher.”
so, what made me think of herta after years of trying to force her from my dreams? after years of convincing myself that, while she was obviously a minion of satan, her duties were most likely ceremonial in nature, meaning she probably did not have the authority to damn my everlasting soul?
dumbass ari fleischer, that’s what.
hey, dumbass ari fleischer, thanks for showing me a photo of iraq’s latest “secret weapon” – a “plane” crafted out of balsa wood, with wings held on by duct tape [ed. note: it’s becoming clear to me that this war is not about oil…it is clearly about duct tape. let’s start digging a little deeper into how much money the duct family has contributed to certain campaigns, shall we?]. according to reports, the plane can fly for up to one hour, and is remotely controlled by a person on the ground.
the administration’s position is that this device can be outfitted with biological weapons and is, therefore, a threat to the united states.
as i stared at the photograph of what looked like a model airplane on my television, this is what followed:
q: can you substantiate the credibility of the president's statement that iraq is capable of, or direct an imminent attack on the united states? and i have a follow-up.
mr. fleischer: the president does believe that iraq is a direct threat to the united states as a result of iraq having weapons of mass destruction, particularly biological and chemical weapons.
q: aimed at the u.s.?
mr. fleischer: certainly, the fact that we have a presence in the region means american military men and women, american allies are targets. and even without a buildup, we have american forces in the region that could be targets of such attack.
q: they haven't done anything in 12 years. do you mean our people, the 250,000 troops we've put there now?
mr. fleischer: well, in addition to the troops that are there now, there are the american forces that were in place prior to the buildup. there are our friends and our allies who are there. and the question is, does saddam hussein, in violation of resolution 1441, have weapons of mass destruction? the answer is, yes.
now, i’m trying really hard to keep an open mind about things. i swear. but, let me see if i have this straight:
now we’re saying that the iraqis have a remote-control model airplane that they can use to attack us with biological weapons because we took a bunch of our troops and put them in the iraqi neighborhood?
okay, what about this: iraq is full of rocks, right? and rocks can be weapons. i guess bigger rocks might even be weapons of mass destruction. i don’t know. i haven’t been able to find a clear definition for what constitutes a weapon of mass destruction. anyway, if we had a bunch of americans run right on up to the iraqi border and taunt some iraqis until they threw rocks at them, would we turn around and say, “see, see? they’re attacking us!”
this whole, “well now that we put troops next door to them, they can use their model airplane to attack us, so they’re an imminent threat, and we’re totally justified in going to war and if you disagree with us then you are obviously cowards and enemies of the united states” argument?
dude, herta would have thrown chalk at your head and then failed your ass straight up.
*yeah, i said french fries. not freedom fries.
yesterday, it was announced that the cafeterias that serve the house and senate no longer serve french fries and french toast. no. now they serve freedom fries and freedom toast.
of all the words in all the world, none seems to adequately sum up what i’m feeling.
words racing through my head. words like asinine. moronic. petty. small-minded. offensive. arrogant. and, of course, stupid. not to mention jackassical.
it was bad enough when little restaurants in po-dunk southern towns started this shit.
but now, the cafeterias of the house and senate have joined in this ridiculous crusade.
hey, here’s a question to ask yourselves the next time you step up to the counter and order yourself a supersize freedom fries: “gee, i wonder why the french hate us?”
last week i was watching a nightline town meeting about the impending war. the french ambassador was in the audience, and koppel invited him to speak. i found what he said rather striking. i paraphrase here:
“we have always admired your country. we admire your spirit. we admire your love of freedom. the way you encourage freedom of speech and the sharing of ideas. freedom of assembly. to express opinions and be heard. so, it has been disappointing to see how your nation has responded to us when we said, ‘we do not agree with you.’ because we have disagreed with you, because we come to have an opinion which is different from yours and have said as much, your media has called us cowards, among other things. it is said that we are no longer friends to your country. is it not true that, among friends, some disagreement is bound to occur? are we no longer friends of your country because we speak up when we have an opinion? we believe there is a difference between loyalty and blind loyalty.”
you go, french guy.
it’s like in ninth grade when jamie douglas and allen wymer broke up. and jamie wouldn’t let anyone say allen’s name around her. and she kept walking around saying stupid shit like, “he is dead to me.” do you think jamie, even with all of her melodramatics, made everyone start referring to allen wrenches as self-righteous wrenches? not that anyone was doing a whole lot of talking about allen wrenches in the ninth grade, but i’m just trying to make a point here. work with me. anyway, the answer is ‘no.’ and why is the answer ‘no’? because we were in ninth grade…not fourth grade.
thank you. please drive thru.
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i'm sure he meant it in a nice way
one of the many jobs i’ve had over the years was as a legal assistant at a large corporate defense firm.
it was wholly unfulfilling.
much like my current job.
the only fun part of my work at that firm was that i happened to be the legal assistant to the attorney who did the majority of the firm’s pro bono work. big corporate defense firms like to make a big deal about the pro bono work they do so you don’t notice when they’re helping some big insurance conglomerate get away with screwing some policyholder who has paid their premiums in good faith for years.
not that that ever happened to me.
but that’s a story for another day.
at any rate, the attorney i worked with on the pro bono stuff was the only hippie in the whole damn place. i don’t even know how he ended up there. we used to while away the billable hours in his office, talking about his dream to work winters as a ski instructor out west and summers as a rafting guide back east. how you get from having that dream to being not just a lawyer, but a lawyer at a corporate defense firm, working for the man, oppressing the little people, i still do not understand.
he tried to feed his restless bohemian side by playing drums in some heinous band on the weekends. i’ve never understood how you could be a bad drummer. but, he was. horrible. painfully so.
at any rate, he called me to his office one day, and handed me the file on our latest pro bono case.
“we’re pitching in on the appeal.”
“what are we appealing?”
“the sentence was unduly harsh.”
“cruel and unusual punishment?”
“sure, something like that. it was judge hey.”
judge hey was the local hardass. the hanging judge, i guess, would be the proper term. actually, i wouldn’t be surprised if the term hanging judge was invented just to describe judge hey. he made national headlines when he sentenced a drug addict to have norplant birth control surgically implanted in her arm. “to protect innocent children,” he said.
in an amusing epilogue, judge hey eventually left the bench under a cloud of scandal. turns out that not only was he a stereotypical hanging judge, he was also a lecherous pig-dog who spent years literally chasing women around his office trying to grope them. unfortunately, in an example of true cosmic karma gone wrong, no charges were filed against the good judge and he never had to stand tall before the man and face some sentence which included a lifetime of saltpeter-laced food and drink. you know, to protect innocent women.
at any rate, it seemed that our new client had allegedly antagonized the judge, and it was our position that the sentence reflected personal animosity as opposed to a reasonable punishment-fits-the-crime kind of sentence.
“antagonized him how?” i asked.
“well, he said something to him, evidently.”
“well, like what?”
“i don’t know, i haven’t had time to review the file yet. can you take a look at it, and write up a summary for me?”
“sure. i live to serve.”
and so, i read page after page after page of boring depositions. then, i read page after page after page of boring pleadings. then, i read page after page after page of boring trial transcript.
i couldn’t find a single thing. not a word, not a sound, not a peep. not even some editorial comment or observation made by the court reporter, like, “ooo...the defendant looked at the judge in a really mean way just now!”
with only a few more pages of transcript left, i had come up with nothing.
it didn’t look promising for our client.
as i turned to the next page, the defendant had been ordered to stand to receive his sentence. the judge asked if he had anything he’d like to say before the court passed sentence on him.
the defendant began what seemed like your typical i’m-really-sorry-for-what-i-did-now-please-don’t-lock-me-up-and-throw-away-the-key speech.
“your honor, i know that what i done was wrong. and i would be very grateful if you might….”
according to the transcript, the defendant stopped, and whispered to his lawyer at this point.
judge: “son, do you want to say something or not?”
defendant: “well, i was gonna say how i was hopin’ you’d be understanding and such. but, you know what? you gonna give me whatever you gonna give me and ain’t nothing i can say gonna change that, so you go right on ahead, you honky motherfuckin’ cracker, you go right on ahead and give me what you gonna give me….”
thereupon the defendant was removed from the courtroom.
our appeal didn’t change the sentence the defendant received. but, the work i did on that case did have one lasting effect: there probably hasn’t been a week that’s gone by since then that i haven’t called somebody a honky motherfuckin’ cracker.
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tupperware products feature a unique, virtually airtight seal and are ideally suited to protect food from the drying air of refrigerators. and, also, you can pee in them.
when you’re one of the guys, a lot of your hey-it’s-been-a-long-time-since-we’ve-gotten-together get-togethers take place at sporting events. luckily, i’m a sucker for sporting events, especially those involving some sort of tailgating activity. actually, that might have something to do with how i ended up being one-of-the-guys in the first place.
i was going to the wvu-navy game with t and j, two of my oldest friends. we’ve known each other since we were twelve, and they’re the brothers i never had. and i was their inside track to the complicated workings of the female mind. over the years, i can’t count the number of conversations we had that started out with this:
“jules, let me ask something. if you were a girl…”
those words hold a special place in my heart. “if you were a girl.” it’s the most interesting mix of flattery and outright insult.
so, there we are at ass-crack o’clock in the morning, drinking any and every alcohol/fruit juice mixture we can concoct. we’re waiting to meet up with our friend, d and his then-girlfriend-now-wife-forever-satan's-minion, e. and, they’re late. very late. of course, when you’ve set up a full-service bar on the trunk of the car and are amusing yourself by trying to decide who has the ugliest feet, you don’t really notice just how late they are, or just how long you’ve been drinking.
when they finally arrive, we learn that there was a crisis that morning that prevented them from arriving on time: e needed a latte and they couldn’t find a starbucks nearby. now, i do not know how it is possible that there was not a starbucks nearby. it seems too impossible to believe. and, yet, they claimed it was true.
so, we’re late and the game traffic is shit.
i’m amusing myself in the back seat of the car by playing bartender for t and me. meanwhile, j is bitching because he’s still sober since he’s driving. he’s also bitching because we’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic and there’s no way we’re going to make the opening kick.
suddenly, i have a realization of staggering implications.
“what’s up, jules?”
“i think we have a problem.”
“um. i have to pee.”
there wasn’t an exit in sight. no camouflaging trees by the side of the road. only tail lights and those little window-mounted flag things as far as the eye could see.
clearly, i was in big trouble.
and, as is always the case, the knowledge that there was absolutely no hope of me being able to pee any time in the foreseeable future made me have to do so all the more.
“oh, this is very bad.”
“just go by the side of the road.”
“dude, you guys know i am actually a girl, right? i mean, i know that i’m one-of-the-guys and all that, but, seriously, you are aware of the fact that i am, genetically speaking a chick, right? you want me to just bare my ass right there on the shoulder of the inter-fucking-state? and, let’s pretend for a split second that i might actually entertain the idea of baring my ass here in front of about 300 drunk guys who are all going to the same place i am…what the hell am i supposed to use for toilet paper?”
“okay. well, then, you can’t pee.”
“that is not an acceptable answer. and, at some point very soon, it is not going to be a physical possibility.”
“man, all this talk about having to pee has made me have to pee. hold my beer.”
and t gets out of the car, walks over to the side of the interstate, turning his back to traffic and takes a piss right there. mocking me. and my bladder.
“man…i feel better.”
“you suck raw ass.”
i’m pissed now. not just because t has mocked me by taking a whiz on the side of the road, but because this never should have happened. never.
i never have to pee. one of my former boyfriends – the one i used to take the long road trips with – used to brag to his friends about my amazing never-having-to-pee capabilities.
“dude, jules can go from here to atlanta without a pit stop. that’s eight hours of straight roadtripping with nothing but drive-thrus.”
“seriously. i usually have to pit before she does.”
“unbelievable. man, you’re one lucky guy.”
it always amazed me how impressed guys were by that. they would ask me question after question, as though there was some sort of trick they could pass on to their wives and girlfriends. as if i had gone through some sort of rigorous training to condition myself.
and, if i were to tell the truth, i guess i actually had gone through years of training.
i went to the oldest elementary school known to man. it was scary as hell, an old brick fortress perched on top of a hill. huge gnarled trees surrounded the building, and 178 steps led up to the front doors, which creaked and groaned when the wind blew too hard.
the kindergarten through third-grade classes had bathrooms in their classrooms. but, after third grade, you had to use the bathrooms that were in the basement. the dark, dank basement. it was 47 steps down to the bottom, where steam pipes hissed and clanked as they ran in endless mazes across the ceiling. there was always water dripping somewhere, and every once in a while, you were just sure you could hear the skittish scraping of something running across the concrete floor.
at the top of the 47 steps was a heavy wooden door.
and a light switch.
i was new to the fourth-grade class. i had skipped over third-grade, and the fourth graders were suspicious of me.
i could hear their whispers.
“she’s some sort of freaky genius.”
“she thinks she’s smarter than us.”
“i think she’s puerto rican”
about two weeks later, i was going down the stairs to the bathroom.
and out went the lights.
and i heard the door slam.
i was locked down there for what seemed like an hour. it was so dark i couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. but i could hear things. scurrying things. scratching things. i was so disoriented i wasn’t even sure which was the stairs were.
eventually, the teacher came to find me. but, by then my mind was made up: i would never step foot in that bathroom again.
and i didn’t.
so, you can see how baffling it was to me that i had gotten myself into such a predicament right there in the back of j’s car.
how could my bladder have betrayed me this way?
“j, what’s this?”
“this,” i asked, holding up a plastic bag that was lying in the floor.
“it’s my tupperware bowl that i took my lunch to work in yesterday.”
there was nothing but the sound of the pre-game show on the radio.
“neither one of you had better ever tell anyone about this. ever. and, just so you know, i can see both of you in the rear view mirror. you both better look straight ahead. if i catch either one of you even glancing back here, i’m gonna hit you upside the back of your head with this bottle of vodka.”
“that’s my good tupperware bowl.”
“holy shit, j, i’m about to die back here! my bladder is going to burst and i’m going to die. right here in your car. and then, nobody’s gonna see a football game today, my friend.”
“it’s just that my mom gave it to me. what am i going to tell her when she comes over and doesn’t see it?”
“tell her you saved a woman’s life.”
all those years of practice. all those years of self-control. and now. now, it had come to this. peeing into a tupperware bowl in the back seat of a car surrounded on all sides by drunken football fans with painted windows.
on second thought, maybe that one-of-the-guys thing has less to do with my enthusiasm for sporting events than i initially thought.
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a night to remember. totally ruined.
it was another long day yesterday. the kind of long day that eventually turns into a long night. the kind of long night that screams for the remedy of...a bacon sandwich.
my sister and i are exhausted as we pull into the arby’s drive-thru lane. staring at the menu board, we review our choices:
regular roast beef
super roast beef
deluxe roast beef
a truly staggering number of variations of the roast beef sandwich.
menu? i don’t need no stinkin’ menu. i know why i’m here: the ultimate blt.
so, while my sister continues to study the details of the menu [“i don’t see the difference between the super roast beef and the deluxe roast beef. i swear to god there’s no difference. look at the pictures.”], my eyes are drawn to the three teenagers standing at the back door of the arby’s.
they have the door propped open with a blue plastic milk crate. the three of them are looking surly, their fast-food-workers-are-cool visors pulled low over their pimply foreheads. all three are testing the boundaries of their fast-food-workers-hate-you polyester pants. and all three are smoking.
on a sort of related note: coming home to west virginia can be a refreshing retreat. just about everyone here is a chain smoker. and overweight. it’s a relief after the cults of appearance that i’ve been living in for the past several years. unhealthy? certainly. but, on a certain level, it’s fucking paradise.
i notice that no one has come on the speaker to take our order.
“hey, do you think that’s everyone who is working? those three kids right there?”
“maybe they’re closed.”
in no apparent hurry whatsoever, the kids finish their cigarettes and turn to walk back inside. one of them kicks the milk crate, allowing the door to slam closed.
“welcome to arby’s. can i take your order?”
“yes, i’d like a philly beef and swiss. and an ultimate blt.”
“the one with the bacon?”
right there? i should have just thrown it into reverse and made a run for the border.
“uh. yeah? i mean...the blt. right?”
“right, but the one with bacon?”
i was so tempted to say, “no.” just out of curiosity, you know? i mean, i was incredibly curious. but the idea that i would just end up with two slices of bread with lettuce and tomato...well, my curiosity was quelled by the gnawing hunger in my stomach. my inquiring mind would have to wait to find out what the blt-without-the-bacon is.
“right. the one with the bacon.”
we pull around the corner of the arby’s and sit idly in the glow of the fluorescent light that drenches window two.
there’s a large sticker on the glass.
order a 24 oz. mocha chill...get a free souvenir cup!
i know there isn’t a whole lot to do in the area where i grew up. but, are you trying to tell me that somewhere, someone is thinking, “man, i wish i had something to remember this trip to the arby’s drive-thru? this is a night to remember."
in a trailer park somewhere, someone is directing their friends to the lighted brass-plated display shelf in the paneled living room, “and this is the souvenir cup i got when jay and i drove through the arby’s in cross lanes. man. that was really somethin’. ever had one a’them mocha chills? that’s a moment ou want to remember for the rest of your life, my friend.”
“no way! you had a mocha chill?!”
“yep. went through the drive-thru.”
“you don’t say.”
“yep. got the souvenir cup to prove it.”
“that’s a nice shelf.”
“got it on the home shopping channel.”
“is that gold?”
“it’s real nice. can‘t tell the difference.”
when the still-surly teen hands me the bag of food through the window, the curiosity that had been focused on the blt-without-the-bacon is now wholly intent on the souvenir cup.
“hey, can i get the 24 oz. mocha chill in the souvenir cup.”
“we already shut down the machine.”
“well, can i just get the souvenir cup?”
“you mean you want the cup without the drink in it?”
he’s only gone for a moment.
“we’re out of souvenir cups.”
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you gotta think that's a good sign
yesterday, my sister and i donned surgical masks and rubber gloves. we then made quite the production of placing my father's underwear, which had been removed prior to his surgery, into a bright red hazardous medical waste bag.
his response: "that's not one damn bit funny."
for the first time since all of this started, i actually think he's going to be okay.
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she was exhausted.
just a quick stop to pick up some apple juice for her niece. in and out.
as she turned off the car, she thought about how little her hometown had changed. she didn’t know what she expected. a starbucks, maybe. or even a building that was more than four stories high. but, it never changed.
apple juice. check.
she decided to pick up just a few more things. she was already here, after all.
staring at chicken. legs. breasts. boneless. skinless. can’t focus. can’t decide. don’t care.
she turned around. it took a minute.
his hair was shorter now. his glasses hipper. but his smile was all she needed to see. his smile was exactly the same.
it was her first love.
“oh my god. how are you?”
whenever you run into someone from the past, there’s an initial moment of surprise. then, usually, a moment of happiness and pleasantries are exchanged. but then...well, in her mind at least, the tape starts to run. as you’re asking “what have you been up to for the past fifteen years?” you’re reviewing that tape in your mind. the tape of your history. recalling the first time he sent you flowers. that time you threw a drink in his face. the night you got caught making out behind the presbyterian church.
the first time you caught him cheating on you.
and how he looked you right in the eye and lied to you about it.
and how you believed it. but not really.
and how you caught him again.
and how you were sure you actually felt your heart break.
and how a strong, smart girl like you gave away your dignity along with your heart and kept forgiving him. even going so far as to believe it was your fault.
until, finally, you were all gone. didn’t recognize yourself anymore. didn’t even like yourself anymore. and how you tried to rescue yourself by eventually ending it. but not before the pattern was established.
in the back of her mind, as he’s telling her about his successful law practice, she’s wondering if he has any idea. if he knows how that first taste of love and heartbreak and deceit stayed with her for years. imprinted her psyche. made it easier to believe she deserved nothing more. that she wasn’t worthy of more. not pretty enough, maybe. not good enough, obviously.
as he talks about the friends he stills sees from their high school years, she wonders if he knows how much she cried.
how long it took her to work up the courage to try again.
they’re standing together at the self-checkout now (aha! small change has indeed come to her hometown.).
“so, are you married?” he asks.
“oh, i tried that once. a long time ago. it didn’t go so well. how about you?”
“got divorced about two years ago. didn’t go so well for me, either.”
“think you’ll try again?” he asks her as he scans his healthy choice pizza breads.
“thought i might. thought i was going to, actually. but...i was wrong. couldn’t have been more wrong. got it all wrong.”
he stopped and stared at her.
“sorry, it’s still a bit fresh, that one.”
“sorry i asked.”
they stood beside her sister’s car in the parking lot. it was getting colder, and the first few drops of rain had begun to fall.
“you know, this will sound strange, but i remember the first time i ever saw you. i guess i was about nine. i thought you were the most beautiful girl i’d ever seen. i told my best friend, ‘that girl is my true love.’ what the hell does a nine year-old know about true love, right?”
“sometimes i wonder what a 33 year-old knows about true love.”
“i guess i just wanted to say...i mean...i’ve had a long time to think about things. my ex-wife...she cheated on me. and i thought i would die. i didn’t think i would survive. loving someone that way, trusting them that way, and then to have them betray you. to show you so clearly that they don’t care about you. i know it sounds crazy, but all i could think about was you. and the way i treated you. and the way it must have made you feel.”
she was staring at the kroger bag in her hand. counting the raindrops as they hit the pavement. one. two.
“i guess what i want to say is that i’m sorry, jules. i’m so so sorry.”
they had been kids then. but it had been true love. she had put it all behind her, moved on. loved and lost again. had her heart broken again. even given herself away again to yet another boy who told her lies. she had grieved it all so long ago.
but now, to hear him say it, it all came back.
her eyes stung, and her throat tightened.
“yeah...i just..you know, i just have a lot going on right now. my dad. and i’m basically going to be homeless in about three weeks, and i just lost my best friend and i really needed him more than ever, and he just dumped me, and i asked him not to, but he did, and it’s all just...you know, i just needed to get some apple juice.”
“i’m sorry, maybe it was the wrong thing to say. or the wrong time. it’s just that i’ve wanted to tell you for so long.”
“no, it’s good. i appreciate it. i mean, i thought it was all just water under the bridge, but, i guess i just didn’t know how much i needed to hear you say it until you said it. and...um...i don’t know. just...thanks.”
the next night, he walked into her father’s hospital room.
“no way,” her sister said.
“i hope i’m not intruding, i just wanted to drop off a few things.”
she went out into the hallway with him.
“when my mom heard about your dad, she wanted me to bring some flowers up, and i also brought some stuff to eat. hospital cafeteria food is even worse than hospital food. i hope you don’t mind.”
“no, it’s really thoughtful. i think it just caught my sister off guard. you know, we just, um, haven’t seen you for a long time.”
“i’m not going to stay.”
“i’ll walk you out.”
they walked quietly out the front doors.
“i wanted to give you my card. if you need anything. i don’t know what, but just anything. i was thinking, i mean, i know you’re busy, but maybe we could get some dinner this week. i’d very much like to take you to dinner.”
he put the card in her hand.
“don’t say no right now. just take the card and think about it. i’m just wondering if maybe there isn’t a reason that we ran into each other. i hope you’ll call.”
as she watched him walk out, she sat down on a bench and pulled out her cell phone. she called her girlfriend and told her what had happened.
“it’s like that sandra bullock movie. you know, the one with harry connick, jr. looking all hot in that cowboy hat.”
“yeah, that one. maybe he really is your true love.”
she ran her fingers over the engraved letters on his card.
“how did it end in the movie? i don't remember.”
“it’s a movie. of course it had a happy ending.”
“yeah, of course. i’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“day or night, whatever you need. so...think you’ll call him? think he’s changed?”
“think i have?”
she sat outside for a few minutes longer, tracing the letters on the card. she thought about forgiveness. she thought about second chances. she thought about true love.
she thought about how easily he had hurt her and how easy it had been for her to let him. how willing she had been to give herself away.
she thought about how she had spent the last six years with the same boy...only he had a different name.
she dropped the card into the trash can on her way back inside.
“nothing changes,” she said.
in her heart, she was scared she was wrong. but even more scared that she wasn’t.
note: my father is having surgery to clear his carotid arteries over the next two days. the surgery is necessary to restore normal blood flow to his brain, which is currently receiving only 15% of what it should be. the 48 hours following the surgery are a high-risk time for him to suffer another stroke, but we are optimistic that all will go well. again, many thanks to all of you who have read, commented and emailed. you've been a great comfort. writing today's post was very helpful, too, and i hope to get back into the swing of regular posting within a couple of days.
i had a few inquiries as to whether or not my post about norman was fiction. this isn't the first time i've had inquiries about whether a story i've posted on this site is true. and, although the stories here are all true, or at least solidly rooted in truth, i don't mind when folks think it's fiction. recently, this page received a mention in the arts & entertainment column of the philadelphia weekly, referring to the stories here as "literary nonfiction." i like that, and i like to think it's pretty accurate. i don't always get the dialog verbatim, and some events might be blended together, but they're all based on my very real, very wacky, very difficult-at-times life. maybe my writing is just my life with the rough edges smoothed a bit. of course, the columnist also went on to say that "you're never really sure if the stories are true or not." so, there you go.
at any rate, i feel compelled to clarify that norman, and our afternoon together, were very real. perhaps my story about norman seemed a bit "too good to be true," as some speculated, because that particular post got a little more editing and a little more polishing than most of my posts do. i don't think i've ever explained that what i post here is pretty much all first draft stuff. no real editing. no substantive rewriting. [ed. note: although i've rewritten the hell out of this damn note] i just tell stories. and i wanted to share norman's story with you. but, i wanted to be sure that i did right by him in telling it. so, i tried to take my time and write that one instead of just telling it, if that makes any sense to you. normally, i just let folks wonder about whether or not these little stories are true. but, i felt like it would be disrespectful to norman to let this one go unclarified. so, for the record: it was true.
thanks for reading....
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