Sep 30, 2009

In case you were wondering

"Any time you thinking evil, you thinking about the blues."
-Howlin' Wolf

The laughing cure

I just don't seem to tire of this one.

A mystery

Sep 29, 2009

The Cosmos cure

If you happen to be feeling a bit too consumed with superficial or egotistical goals, the way one might feel, for example, after watching The September Issue (which is really quite good, by the way), simply watch a few minutes of Cosmos. It's one of those movies you can watch instantly on Netflix and you can find a lot of it on youtube, too. It will immediately put things into perspective.

Sep 28, 2009

How thoughts are made

Normally I couldn't really say what prompts a particular thought. But the other day I had the odd experience of knowing exactly when and where a certain thought came from. It happened while I was looking at the October J. Crew catalogue, in which the clothes are modeled by a variety of nameless beautiful women along with a number of named, male artists, some of whom are attractive and some of whom are not. And it occurred to me that this could be seen as a slightly troubling reminder of the way women in our world are often valued more for their looks than for their accomplishments, whereas it is the opposite for men.

Regardless of whether or not this is an accurate critique of the J. Crew catalogue, the origin of this thought is extremely specific: Cultural Psychology, Wesleyan University, Fall Semester, 1998.

Speaking of the devil

I had one of them dreams last night (see below, first paragraph).

Sep 27, 2009

Pasties, as we used to call it

A few weeks ago I was back in New York, hungry, and near the meatpacking district, so my friend and I decided to go to Pastis. I used to work there, so deciding to go carried a different sort of weight than most food-related decisions. It's a strong experience, serving tables at that place, and not unlike boot camp. Half a year in I actually started crying when I failed a wine test, and everyone I knew on staff routinely had work-related nightmares. I still have them, in fact, although only occasionally.

I ate an overpriced, undercooked artichoke and shared a carafe of wine with my companion. And while we talked I watched everything going on in the room, in the way waiters learn to do, a habit that turns out to be ridiculously hard to break. The place was exactly the same as it always was.

Next to us a middle-aged, short, portly gentleman was eating with a much younger, beautiful girl. "You know, what I always really wanted to do was be a professional athlete," the man said to her.

She giggled. "Well, I mean, you basically already are," she said.

He then started name dropping and I drifted away. Until he called the waiter over. "You know who Nick Nolte is, right?" he asked. Apparently the name dropping wasn't going well.

I hadn't mentioned to the waiter that I used to work there, but when I looked at him to see how he would respond, he glanced back at me.

"Nope, doesn't sound familiar," he said. And then we both rolled our eyes.

Venn diagram

Sometimes it seems that any building around these parts that is both nondescript and intriguing is owned by either the VFW, the Masons, or the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.

Sep 26, 2009

You were my professor

What would one do if one were to see a missed connection on craigslist that appears to exactly fit the profile of one's boyfriend? I mean, hypothetically.

A. Read missed connections obsessively looking for more information about the poster.
B. Contact the poster, set up a fake date, and tell her to back the f up.
C. Nothing
D. Persistently ask your boyfriend about who it could be.
E. Post another missed connection, supposedly from another of your boyfriend's admirers, overwrought enough to give you leeway to poke fun at his dreaminess for days.

I think E is the best option.


Yesterday we were driving through town when we saw a Tibetan monk in long robes scrolling through his iPhone. "Look!" Matt says. "They got the prayer bead application." I was pretty impressed.

Sep 25, 2009


I didn't watch much TV as a kid. There was the Cosby Show, but beyond that not much else. No Saturday morning cartoons, no Mr. Rogers, no Sesame Street. "TGIF!" kids would say to each other, but I had no idea what they were talking about. It wasn't until high school, watching TV at a friend's house on a Friday, that I finally figured out what it meant.


This article, which left me with some very un-blue state feelings about unions.
This article, which gave me some very typical blue state feelings about birthers and the like.
This article, which I reread last night to get my Wire fix after we watched the last episode and I still just couldn't get enough.

Wish fulfillment

A few nights ago I had a dream about my mom's mother. I saw her in a supermarket and had so many questions, but she kept disappearing before she could answer. It turned out she was about to be reincarnated.

I have had a version of this dream before, during another time when I was feeling particularly anxious about where on earth I was going in life. In that dream, she sat in a rocking chair and said she would tell me everything that was going to happen to me. "Can I take notes so I'll remember in the morning?" I asked. She shook her head. And that's all I remember.

Sep 24, 2009

If my day was a test

Percent of day spent feeling hopeful: 40%
Percent of day spent feeling slightly bummed: 60%
Percent of day spent with Matt: 25%
Percent of day spent talking to new friend who just got back in town: 1%
Percent of day spent talking to old friend who hates talking on the phone: 2%
Percent of that conversation spent guilt tripping friend for being bad at returning phone calls: 10%
Percent of day spent with Mirabelle: 100%
Percent of day spent paying attention to Mirabelle: 13%
Percent of day spent dealing with Mirabelle's digestion in some way: .5% (but it felt like more)
Percent of day spent with vague sense that I should probably get some exercise: 75%
Percent of day exercising: 0%

Another memorable phrase from the dinner party

"I have pieces of people like you in my stomach." Regarding something gangsta rappers might say to the suburban kids who listen to their music. Apparently Frank Sinatra said it first.

Sep 23, 2009

The future

Will there one day be 50-year-old blogs? Blogs that someone has kept updating, daily, for decades? Blogs that bloggers' grandchildren look through, culling information after their grandparents have sunk into dementia? Century-old blogs that show up in multimedia museum exhibitions? And imagine how many dead blogs there will be by then, too, vast cemeteries of them, all linking to each other.

Sep 22, 2009

Memorable phrase from the dinner party

We were talking about terrible jokes, and then we were talking about badly told terrible jokes, and someone started talking about his father. He was from the deep South and had little scars all over his face from the time he flew through the front window of a car, which had something to do with an illegal distillery. One day he walked into a bar-that is actually true, and not the beginning of the joke-and he started telling this joke: "Tarzan sees Jane on the beach and swings down. 'What's yo name?' he asks. 'Jane,' she says. 'What yo hole name?' he then asks. To which she replies, 'Pussy.'" So yeah, already a terrible joke. But even worse when told like this: "Tarzan sees Jane on the beach and swings down. 'What's yo name?' he asks. 'Jane,' she says. 'What's yo last name?' he asks. 'Pussy,' she says."

At this point the guy's father burst into laughter. But then he looked around and noticed everyone else's faces were blank. Describing the experience later to his son, he said, "I felt like a turd in a punchbowl."

The girl with the tie-dyed headband

Walking Mirabelle (seen here wearing a fashionable head wrap) is like hanging out with a way hotter friend. A guy on his bike even blew her kisses today.

East Williamsburg by day, Bushwick by night*

If someone had to take the material of my life and make a coming of age movie, it would start, I think, with my moving to Brooklyn after college, to an old warehouse building in Bushwick. Across the hall was a "modeling agent" who hosted a steady stream of hopeful male models from the midwest while graciously introducing them to their homosexual side. He never paid rent and got his electricity through a thick orange extension cord that ran from our apartment to his. Upstairs was a sleazy photographer who lived with two St. Bernards in an apartment completely unfurnished save one humongous canopy bed. I don't think those people would make it into the movie, though. Instead, it would show the two cheerful guys across the street who were turning an old car garage into a vaguely livable space — they fit people's ideas of bohemian and resourceful artistic young people without being quite so ethically questionable.

My roommates' and my resourcefulness centered more on things like finding bartenders who let us drink for free and fingering through our overflowing ashtrays looking for half smoked cigarettes, which may have seemed resourceful at the time but now seems plain disgusting. It was sort of a squalid period. We all had crappy jobs, our windows opened to the dumpster, the heat was off all January, and one night one of my roommates came home with her ear sliced down the middle by a mugger. (I think the movie might have to leave that part out, too). But it was during this period that we all somehow started to learn how to grow up (the movie would go into this in greater detail). Besides that was when we all started dating the men that we're still with, which would be a good plot point.

*That picture at the top, by the way, is from, a photoblog by the guy who does gothamist, who has taken all the pictures I always wished I was taking when I lived in New York. And a lot more.

Sep 21, 2009

Copyright MCMXXXVI

After watching this oddly prescient clip of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck getting evicted, I realized something. There is a direct correlation between old Disney cartoons and Jackass.


To keep the wind up clock in the bathroom going for more than two days.

September 20th

We cleaned the house all morning and around two we took a break to walk to a bakery in town that was having a bread festival. It's really good bread, made from organic grain and baked in a wood-fired brick oven. It's that kind of place. There's a flag outside that says "Yes."

Matt had been cleaning the rugs, so he was feeling irritated at the dog, who has shed enough in the last few weeks to create a whole other dog, and I had been cleaning the oven, so I was just feeling irritated. As we walked over Matt said we should really mop the floors, and I said I've never really understood the point of mopping. You just spread the dirt around, mix it in with some toxins, then tell people they can't walk on the floor for an hour and call it clean. "But that's what all cleaning is, basically," Matt said. And I said I knew that and that was exactly why I was feeling irritated.

On the grass in front of the bakery there were bikes and dogs and people. Right as we arrived, a woman dropped a huge jar of honey all over the sidewalk, the popping of the glass cutting through the noise like a snapshot. Everything broke at the wrong speed, the honey too fast and the glass too slow, or at least this was how Matt described it afterward.

I ate a peach and spilled it on my shirt. We bought bread. Mirabelle tried to eat a bee and met another dog that looked just like her, who also tried to eat a bee. Back home Matt told her that since she hadn't helped at all with the cleaning maybe she could bring the rugs back inside. And if not that the very least she could do was to sit outside and brush herself. But she didn't do any of this. Instead, she waited until we left the door open by mistake and went outside and ate compost. Which I know because she threw it up later, three times, deep black earth colored puke dotted with pieces of leaves.

Sep 19, 2009

Fail-safe date hair

Most of the time men don't comment on the way I do my hair. Except for one time last winter, actually, when a friend told me I would look better if my hair weren't so messy and I ignored him. But ever since I started wearing my hair like this, in a sort of braid halo, an unprecedented number of men have commented. First they say they like it, and then they say something about the Princess Leia look and how it always works.

This struck me as nice but odd, at first, until I came upon what I believe is a good explanation for this unprecedented interest in my hair. The commenters have all been roughly my age, and probably had boyhoods that were strongly shaped by Star Wars. Which means Princess Leia was probably one of the first women they ever thought to define as attractive. This definition lives on somewhere in the deeper recesses of their psyche, leaving women who style their hair in a similar fashion to benefit from a kind of run-off appeal. I should probably pitch this to Cosmo.

Sep 18, 2009

My new friend Hunter Trunk

Today I woke up and found an email from Crate and Barrel in my inbox. "Meet our new Hunter Trunk," it said. "Hide it all for $499." At first I was annoyed, because I thought it was spam. But then I realized actually Crate and Barrel wasn't trying to market a product, it was trying to introduce me to a new potential friend. And Hunter has a lot of the qualities I look for in a friend. He would keep (all) my secrets. He is "surprisingly clever." He seems to always be carrying wine, pillows, and a variety of games. I imagine he would be up for just about anything I wanted to do, as long as it happened in the living room. And while $499 is maybe a bit steep, he would last for a while and wouldn't cost any more after that, and I figure I spend about that on a friendship over the course of a few years (dinners/birthday presents/transportation to and from the friend, etc.), so he might even be a steal.

Sep 17, 2009

Jordan. Catalano.

During my sophomore year in high school I developed a humongous crush on Jared Leto, the kind that was so big and consuming it was almost unbearable. My friend Jenny, who was slightly more sophisticated than me in such matters, had introduced me to his existence (necessary because my family didn't have cable), and from then on we shared and nourished our respective crushes almost like it was one crush, held by two people.

At the same time there was this weird trend going around where kids would make these charts of who had kissed who to figure out how many degrees of separation existed between everyone. So Jenny, who was not only more sophisticated than me but also more enterprising, took it upon herself to see if she was maybe connected in such a way to Jared Leto. And the amazing thing was that she was. I'm not sure how exactly, it probably had something to do with the fact that Claire Danes had gone to private school in New York like we did, but I remember agreeing that all the connections on Jenny's chart were undeniable.

Even more exciting, for me, was that since Jenny and I had swapped boyfriends at some point this meant I also was connected in this way to Jared Leto. So of course I immediately drew up the chart and taped it to the wall of my bedroom, among pictures of Ani DiFranco and Kurt Cobain and numerous, numerous esoteric quotes. It stayed up for a while, a constant reminder of the real and truly vast range of possibilities in life, although I've lost track of it since.


Sometimes the desire to have done something is much stronger than the desire to actually do it. Usually this is still enough to stimulate me, because it is so pleasant to think of being done, even if the getting there is miserable. Not today. 

Sep 16, 2009

German children are very advanced

My friend just returned from Berlin, where apparently this guy is very popular with the under seven set. She says it is all about shaking your fat. I've never wished more that I could speak German.


I really like this painting by Gideon Bok
And this one too. You can see me playing the drums in the corner, which I did do that day even though I can't actually play the drums. For a few years now it has been a secret goal of mine to make it into one of Gideon's paintings, and now I have finally succeeded.

The curse of the chicken bone

There is nothing that distinguishes today from yesterday, except that today it's like there's a rip tide inside of me, pulling me out to places I don't want to go. I was already feeling this way, and then Mirabelle ate a chicken bone, which dogs really aren't supposed to do. So now she is sleeping peacefully while I watch her vigilantly, trying to comfort myself with stories on the web about chicken bones and dogs that have happy endings.

Sep 15, 2009

Embarrassing information about myself

According to my horoscope on, which is a very good astrology website, by the way, if you're in the market, the 17th of September will quite possibly be the worst day of the year. And then the 18th will probably be bad, and maybe the 23rd too. So basically the whole week will be a bust. 

Incidentally, the astrologer behind that site is the mother of Chrissie Miller, who does that brand Sophomore, and of that girl who does that website I Listen to Everything, which struck me as extremely odd when I put it all together, how three people I know of equally vaguely are all, in fact, connected. 

Anyway, the problem is that once I read my horoscope, I somehow incorporate it completely and utterly into my expectations for the future. Which is ridiculous! I mean, maybe astrology has something to it, but it's not fact. It's not like everyone born on November 4th in Port Jefferson, Long Island, could be living parallel lives. Right?

But I have a terrible track record with this. I have always been the kind of person who attracts the crazy homeless people and the kind of girl who the weird psychic (but not actually psychic) dudes want to date. And I know they are not really psychic! But there is always a little sliver in me that wonders if maybe, just maybe, what they're telling me might be true. And I'm sure that is the crux of the problem. I am hopelessly suggestible. 

Sep 14, 2009

Odd but enjoyable

Also, slightly gory.

Epic tales of Matt's youth

When Matt was growing up, he and his sisters always spent summers down in Georgia with their dad. And since both Matt's dad and his step-mom had full-time jobs, according to how Matt tells things, at least, these months were filled with the kind of adventures that are only possible when parental supervision is removed and children are free to return to their naturally feral state. 

Yesterday, we went to ride Go-carts at some Playland-type place in an even more rural part of Massachusetts than we live already, and on the way home Matt was explaining how riding Go-Carts was always a highlight of those summers. And how after they went, he and his sisters would always talk about how incredibly amazing it would be if they had a Go-Cart of their own that they could drive off the track. And then, the summer Matt was eleven, he looked out the window the morning after he arrived and saw his friend Danny actually pull up in front of his dad's house in a Go-Cart, his baseball hat on backwards, wearing a grey tank top.

That was the summer of the Go-Cart. They took off whatever it is that limits a Go-Carts' speed and drove the thing all around town. They built ramps and jumps. There were various repair sessions. They drove it on the roads of their suburban subdivision and would even pass cars, off-roading the thing up onto the sidewalk, through the grass and then back onto the street. Like most stories Matt tells about his childhood it sounds both awesome and slightly unbelievable, like something that would have happened to Ferris Beuller in his pre-teen years, but Matt claims it's all true.

Sep 13, 2009

The saddest garden in the world

If the peak oil people end up having a point, the fact that I live among acres and acres of farmland won't mean a thing for my survival. 
Our garden:
Our harvest:

Sep 12, 2009

Benefits of the recession

For reasons I don't understand, I have been receiving a catalogue called The Pyramid Collection, Magick, Myth, Fantasy & Romance, for the last few months. Available products include this Black and Red Reversible Cape ($120)

and these Black Widow Shoes ($49.95)

along with various "Personal Items" such as a Super KegelTM Exerciser and a nude Aerobics DVD. Goddess Sizes are offered at no extra cost. 

I'm not sure what put me in the target demographic, but apparently this will be the last catalogue I receive. Because of rising paper and postage costs, they inform me, they can now only mail free catalogues to readers who actually buy things. However, a one year subscription is available for $5.

Punching face

This is a pretty awesome essay, even though reading it feels a little bit like being punched in the face. 

Sep 11, 2009

The components of hotness

All of a sudden this song is all I want to listen to. I'm not sure why, it has a certain Tori Amos quality that hasn't appealed to me for over a decade. Maybe it will be a short phase. Anyway, like most things that catch my interest, I suddenly developed an insatiable curiosity about this singer that I tried to sate on the Internet. I now know her father was a professional squash player, and that she's in that photo book, Family, which is full of pictures of Devendra Banhart and all his hippied out musical friends. One of which includes an old college roommate, oddly enough, except that back then he didn't live in a trailer in the California hills and date Mexican soap opera stars (that's what I hear he's up to, at least). 

I was thinking how this singer is beautiful in the ethereal hipster way of all those girls that wear headbands and random stripes of blue glitter on their faces, but then I realized that when she spoke it would be with an English accent. This, I think, increases her hotness exponentially. My boyfriend agreed. But why? Is it the unexpectedness of it? The slight variation on the familiar? Does my American accent likewise increase my appeal in other English speaking countries?

Sep 10, 2009

Deep in Georgia

We go to dinner at a Korean restaurant named, appropriately, Korea. It used to be that graduating seniors from the colleges around here would sign their names on the walls, but 15 years of signatures have just been painted over, leaving the walls a light pink. 

It's a small space and all the tables are full so we take a spot sitting cross-legged on the elevated wooden floor, and they set up a short table in front of us. It is always the same waitress, a beautiful Korean woman who wears elegant elaborate outfits. Matt mentions a person he works with who's retiring and Kevin says that his dad is planning to retire in a year. I ask them how they would like their life to be be when they're extremely old and Kevin says for no apparent reason that he doesn't expect to live past 40. 

From there the conversation turns to Matt's grandmother, who died recently, at an old age home deep in Georgia. Her late husband's best friend lived there too, and he kept tomato plants on the edges of the parking lot and sometimes kissed her on the mouth. Since his stroke he could only say "That's right, that's right," and nod his head. 

Field trips took people to the Walmart a few miles away and outside on the shaded porch the residents rocked and rocked in their rocking chairs. The time I visited one old lady took a look at Matt as we were walking in and said, "Well helllllo there," in her soft southern drawl. When we mentioned it to his grandmother she said, "Oh yeah, that slut." 

"I think she was ready to die," Matt says about his grandmother. She'd smoked for decades, earlier in her life, and she'd quit, but she snuck cigarettes again near the end. She didn't die of lung cancer, anyway.

Before and after

What I would look like if I'd never had my underbite fixed:

My at-rest face would have always made me appear slightly irritated. Instead, I have the opportunity to look pleased:
Thank goodness for retainers.

Why China wins


Something I wrote about being in the Arctic Ocean this time of year in 2001.

(Everything I do) I do it for you

    For the good of all men, and the love of one woman, 
 he fought to uphold justice, by breaking the law.

Next up in the annals of movies I watched at an impressionable age is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which at the time (circa 1991) I thought was just about the most romantic thing in the world. Upon a close rewatching, however, I am perplexed as to the exact logic of my 11-year-old brain. It could have been the swordplay, or the woodsman in tattered rags, or the intentional look Kevin Costner gave Maid Marion after they delivered that woodslady's baby. But I think it came down to Bryan Adams.   

Sep 9, 2009

Hard to say

In a battle of college campus cliches, who would win—the gamer/thespians or the hippies?

Human urine+mercury

At noon I arrive at the place I'm working temporarily, a big brick building that used to house a chemistry lab. All summer it sat empty, growing mold. 

I walk through the truck entrance, which has a layer of those long plastic noodle things you see at car washes, and follow the smell of bleach to find my co-workers. "Fuckin' douchebag widget," someone is saying in a heavy Massachusetts accent. The walls are covered in black circles of mold. Later, during a break, we discover beakers filled with yellow liquid labeled "human urine + mercury." 

My job is to rub water and bleach all over the walls, which is easy enough. But the guy cleaning the shelves in the lab finds that spraying bleach on some of them causes a small cloud to sit in the air for a few minutes, like some sort of terrible biblical omen. The first time this happens he runs out of the room, but after a few minutes he goes back in.

"If it hasn't killed us by now it's probably not gonna," he says. 

"No way," I say. "That's what gives you cancer. That cloud is cancer in vapor form." 

"How do you know?" he asks.

"The Internet," I tell him, which is true, but of course doesn't really mean anything. Either way, the next day I call in sick.

Sep 7, 2009

Mirabelle's so-called life

Normally, if someone claimed another person's life ceased happening when they weren't around, it would be fair to claim they were delusional or egotistical or both. Except that when it comes to my dog, it's true. I leave the house and she stops doing whatever she was doing, chewing her bone, or drinking water, or throwing around that weird fabric bone thing, and just lies by the door waiting for me to return. At which point she says hello and resumes whatever activity she was doing before I left. It makes it hard to leave the house, although Matt would say the problem is that I coddle her. Matt might also point out that another problem is that I think of her as a person, as implied in the first sentence. 

Sep 6, 2009

Intergalactic travel

Ever since seeing District 9 a few weeks ago I have had this experience a few times. I am walking outdoors, usually on the dykes around the Connecticut River where I walk my dog, when I look up and see the trees and the mountains and the sky, normal qualities of earth, in other words, and become conscious in some vague wordless way that this planet, as opposed to other planets, is my home. 

Usually I don't think about such things, like the way that when you're a kid you figure that every other household is just like yours, since it's all you know, but somehow District 9 prompted these thoughts in way Star Wars, say, never had a chance. I didn't much like the movie but I like seeing things this way. It's such an abrupt perspective change, like all of a sudden being able to look down on earth and see it from very far away. 

Sep 5, 2009


I've never been very comfortable with empty space. Usually, when a blank moment presents itself I turn to the list in my head, the one I keep for just such occasions, and pick something off of it to head towards. Even if it's just to cook quiche for dinner and then go running, it works like an antidote. The empty space is filled.

But today anything I could do just sounds unappealing. I want to eat something but don't know what. I want to write something but feel too lazy. I already took Mirabelle for a walk. I want to make something with the blueberries I just bought at the farmer's market but what? We already have homemade blueberry jam and blueberry pie doesn't sound good.

I think the problem is simple, though, and it boils down to this: I stopped drinking coffee five days ago. Drink some strong coffee and immediately everything you do feels so purposeful, even if it's just lying in a park reading a book - I am achieving the challenge of book reading! I have surpassed 100 pages!

A related thought: if coffee is the antidote then alcohol is the opposite, making you forget you care about being aimless at all. 

Sep 3, 2009

Lap Dog


When I was little my mom wouldn't let me see Pretty Woman because she thought it would make me want to be a prostitute. Eventually I watched it at a friend's house, but the fairy tale ending didn't much strike me. That was how all the movies I watched ended.

The other night I watched it again, though, and from the older end of my twenties the movie seemed a lot odder than I remembered. Basically it's about a woman getting the fairy tale ending of her childhood fantasies, and while I understand why this would appeal to a ten-year-old, it surprised me that it would appeal so much to adults. I mean, back then my fantasy was to have a group of boys rescue me, en masse, after I fell off a swing. But at this point, my fantasies are a bit more complex, and life's problems and solutions look a lot more complicated. Isn't that what's supposed to happen?

Sep 1, 2009

How to survive the winter

Last winter's sweet potatoes, forgotten in the bottom of the cupboard until a few weeks ago. After my initial fear (when I saw the tendrils growing out of the top of the bag it felt a little like they could just reach out and grow right onto me)  I turned them into sweet potato salad, but it was never quite right.