Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I wish the rest of the world would figure out that McAmerica is McF*ckedup...

I love Indian food so much that sometimes I dream about it, but this makes me want to empty the contents of my stomach into a Ziploc and mail it to Mumbai. Leave it to the fast food industry to screw with my perfect vision of samosa. Pardon my dry heaves.

Monday, November 28, 2005

As usual, the family converged on Hilton Head for Thanksgiving at my sister's. My first year without tiny marshmallow salad, yeast rolls, or chocolate pecan pie, and I think I did OK. No meltdowns, temper tantrums, or broken dishes. However, we were all too busy adoring the 10-month-old covered in strained peas to fight with each other.

This is how my nephew looks at his mother. It is a good thing he's my sister's and not mine, because I cannot imagine having to say no to a child that looked at me like that. I think my insides are made out of tiny marshmallow salad.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

My shortest relationship...
He came up to me right in the middle of a party, handed me a glass of wine, and said, “You are beautiful. I just wanted to tell you that." And then he walked away, just like that.

I never saw him again. I never even found out his name.

Some relationships can't be improved upon.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In defense of marginalia...
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

~from the poem “Marginalia” by Billy Collins

I’ve always loved writing in the margins of my books, from my Little Golden copy of The Poky Little Puppy (likely “lacking in originality” written in purple crayon) to last week’s notations and underlined quotations in Kevin Canty’s Long Way Home (“if you give the devil a ride, he’s gonna end up driving”).

I used to date someone who was so obsessive about his books — not just first edition hardcovers, but also cheap paperbacks, comic books, and so on — that he once demonstrated to me how a book should be read so one would not crack the spine (held open slightly and turned from right to left depending on which page side you’re reading). The Bookmark King from the Land of No Touchy nearly had an anxiety attack when I (jokingly) told him I folded over a page to mark my space. It made him nuts that I read (my own books!) in the bathtub. And though he tried to be cool about it, he didn't even like leaving books around if there was a chance I might be able to get my negligent little hands on them. Had I actually written in any of his books, I think he would have gone stark raving mad.

I believe a good book should be enjoyed, read, marked, folded, stuffed into bags, loaned out to others, written in, highlighted, notated, and re-read. I buy used books often (Boomer’s is walking distance from my office) and love running across unexpected marginalia written by the book's previous owner. In a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, I found: “character turned to the wall = suicide.” Another, in what clearly was a student's copy of The Beautiful and the Damned, written next to a unidentified splotch (egg salad?), “Pigpen hasn’t washed his hands since 1999” and underneath, in different handwriting, “that’s f*cking disgusting.” And my favorite of all time, found in a battered paperback of The Life and Works of Herman Melville, “if all you had was a harpoon, the whole world would look like a whale.”

I think Billy says it best in the last lines from “Marginalia” -
...a few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil -
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet -
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Another year older...
With age comes wisdom. What I’ve learned, the thirty-[coughcough] anniversary edition:

* I finally broke my mother of her tradition of calling me at 2:35 a.m. on my birthday to remind me that she was in labor XX years ago to the very minute. It was a stitch when I was in my 20s and likely to still be out on the town when she called, but at 30, I am less amused by being woken up at that hour.

* When it comes to tangibles, I have everything I really want or need.

* I stopped aging four years ago so I no longer have to worry about crow’s feet, frown lines, or not being cute anymore. I am as cute today as I was at 16.

* I would have a nine-martini hangover right now if I could still drink alcohol. I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would.

* You can always count on yourself. Rather than relying on other people to make me happy and resenting them when they don’t, the only person who I am emotionally dependent on is me.

* I’m grateful for the years that have led me to the place I am now — including the hard times, mistakes, and heartaches.

* A strawberry with a candle in it is an excellent substitute for birthday cake.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oh masochistic me...
Because I like to put on my waders and muck around in nostalgia this time of year, I recently pulled my box of notebooks out of storage (I have journals going back to high school) and started re-reading them.

Last night, I found an entry that made me realize I should always, always (always!) trust my instincts.

When you know someone well and for a long time, you sometimes forget how you met them. And I had forgotten how I met him, but had written about it shortly after our first meeting, long before the madness began. It wasn't specifically about him (not in the junior high-gushing over the cute guy way), but at the very end I wrote about a conversation we had, adding a footnote summation: "He's the kind of guy who would gleefully break my heart if I let him."

And? And I let him.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back in time...

My 15-month-old DSL modem started fritzing out in August, refusing to connect whenever it rained, early in the morning, or when I stood too close to it. It finally went out for good the week before last. After spending 20-odd hours on the phone with Earthlink Pakistan, my new best friend Naseem (a.k.a. “Sam”) and I decided I needed a new DSL modem. Because I had to pay for the new one with my own money, and was unwilling to pay an additional 30-odd dollars to have it shipped two-day air, I had to wait for UPS ground. For six days.

During the six day wait, I reverted to dial-up. Dial-up! The “squeeeescrrccchhsquee” sound alone makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. But surfing the made me realize how much better my life is because of high-speed Internet access. I know there are people out there who still use telephone modems, but I am positive they don’t listen to podcasts or NPR live feeds, update web sites, juggle five open web pages at once, or surf photo blogs. It made me feel like Caddie Woodlawn, like I should be wearing shoes that button with a tool and churning my own butter. Sitting there and darning my socks while I waited for graphics to load, I wondered if I will ever reach a point in my life when I yearn for the “good old days” — a time before digital cable, DSL, GPS, TiVo, Netflix, and online bill pay.

I have considered wishing to be a teenager again (I don’t actually make the wish, because I don’t want to end up in some Freaky Friday/13 Going on 30 situation). At 16, I could lose three lbs. in a day. At 18, I didn’t know what a hangover was. At 20, my skin was dewy fresh and my ass was two inches higher than it is now. But am I really willing to give up 10-plus years of technology for a faster metabolism and the ability to drink a grown man under the table? Doubtful. Yes, the Internet was around 10 years ago, but I didn’t depend on technology the way I do now. I can’t remember the last time I used a real phone book. I don’t rent DVDs in person. I order tons of stuff online. I keep track of most of the day-to-day functions of my life using a computer or Blackberry.

On the 6th day, I missed the UPS delivery and sat on my front steps, clutching the yellow slip and weeping. On the following day, I left the office early so I could lie in wait find out what Brown could do for me. Four o’clock...nothing. Five, still no UPS. By the time six o’clock rolled around, I was testing the doorbell and peering through the blinds every 10 minutes. At 6:30, I finally gave up and decided to eschew all technology, become a Luddite, and spend the rest of my life buying musical toilet seats from mail-order catalogs and baking cookies for my co-workers.

At 7 p.m., as I was disconnecting power cords and trying to decide if it would be environmentally safe to burn the DVD player in the fireplace, I heard a shuffling noise on the front porch and ran to the window to see a brown uniform sprinting away from my house and toward his truck. Beating on the glass and screaming, “wait!” didn’t slow him down, so I ran to the front door and wrenched it open just as Brown pulled away from the curb and zero-to-sixtied in about 10 seconds down the street.

Sticker on the door? No sticker on the door. Just as I decided to (hand) write a strongly worded letter telling Brown exactly what it could do for me, I looked down and saw a small box with an Earthlink logo on its side. “Mine!” I squealed, and snatched it to my chest. It’s sick, but I actually embraced the box and kissed it (no tongue) twice before going back inside.

It took me less than five minutes to have working DSL again, during which time I completely forgot about my promise that I would swear off all things technological. And like any addict, I spent the rest of the evening pretending that seven days of withdrawal hadn’t given me nightmares about being pursued by giant screeching modem monsters, made me itch like invisible bugs were crawling under my skin, or caused me to offer certain “services” to the UPS man if he could “hook me up.”

Think this was off the deep end? You should see me during a power outage.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What do you love?
Inspired by Margaret Cho, not in any particular order or particularly complete, my list:

NPR, Dorothy Parker, my kitty, Thunder Road, sleep, black underwear, Southern eccentrics, boy-fit jeans, Johnny Cash covers Nine Inch Nails, people who have no boundaries, a name for the condition I take for granted, Meghan Daum's satirical observations, better and faster ways to do anything, 400-thread count, inspiration boards, almond butter, knowing that llamas hum when they're happy and spit when they're not, winter accessories, brush tip pens that don't bleed through my Moleskine, my Moleskine, T.J. Maxx, i.d. bracelets, stay-at-home Saturday nights, pop art, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Confederate jasmine, cashmere, Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate, Julia Sugarbaker, former bitchlings all grown up, Eames office furniture, MAC Cosmetics, girl comix, monkey bars on a deserted playground, Nan Goldin, Slow Food, fellow redheads, kvetching, Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, grilled spinach and garlic, the Sunday NYTimes Magazine, big ass redneck belt buckles, the sound of my own voice, long-sleeved shirts with thumb holes, rollerskating rinks, cheerleader movies, English walnuts, Wonder Woman, wearing my heart on my sleeve, art journals, temporary tattoos, green tea in a bottle, mouthy women, an unexpected muse, a made up language that only my sister Katie and I understand, a nice fresh yarn, my "Harlot" t-shirt, rubber stamps, believing I am beautiful, thrift stores, classics made new, people who start journal entries with "dear diary," Mom, Monkey, you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I wish I wish I wish...
I wish I could be more like Miranda July.

I don't make a habit of wishing I was someone other than who I am. But I do make a habit of wishing to be a different me sometimes. Always aspiring to be better, more creative, wiser, smarter, calmer, more open to new can be exhausting.

Part of me wants to take photographs and write screenplays and buy a motorcycle and live in another country. Another part of me wants to smack the first part for thinking that way, since we spent most of our twenties being a lot crazy and had enough excitement for two lifetimes. That part is fine right where I am, thankyouverymuch.

Someday I'll introduce the two and we'll have a nice chat over coffee and come up with a resolution that will make both of me happy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy because...
...the weather has finally turned from third-world-country-hot to crisp and cool. It makes me wake up happy.

...I haven't had to read the business section of a newspaper in one year, five months, and 14 days.

...the World Series is over and I can have my Fox TV back now. No offense to the baseball fans, but I feel like these things should run on some special sports channel - say like a 24-hour sports news network on basic cable - instead of taking away my Family Guy, Arrested Development, and Kitchen Confidential.

...despite other weekend busy-ness, I managed to log about 3,500 words over the weekend working on short stories (my goal is 1000 words every day).

...two words: Time Change. Two more: Extra Hour.
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