Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"Be bold. If you're going to make an error, make a doozey, and don't be afraid to hit the ball."
– Billie Jean King

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge."
– Tuli Kupferberg

Sunday, December 18, 2005

How about never?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.
~Anne Sexton

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done.

- Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lyrical contribution for the day

One of my top 10 favorite songs.

Night lift up the shades
let in the brilliant light of morning
but steady there now
for I am weak and starving for mercy
sleep has left me alone
to carry the weight of unravelling where we went wrong
it's all I can do to hang on
to keep me from falling
into old familiar shoes

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

love has made me a fool
it set me on fire and watched as I floundered
unable to speak
except to cry out and wait for your answer
but you come around in your time
speaking of fabulous places
create an oasis
dries up as soon as you're gone
you leave me here burning
in this desert without you

everything changes
everything falls apart
can't stop to feel myself losing control
but deep in my senses I know.

- Sarah McLaughlin

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sick and Single

I’ve been out of commission for the past few days, fighting a nasty case of bronchitis. Perhaps it was the realization that a dog doesn’t have opposable thumbs and therefore cannot run off to get me Nyquil, orange juice, or tissue. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I tend to have some pretty radical thoughts when experiencing a fever. Whatever it was, eternal list-maker I am, my mind turned to the pros and cons of being sick and single.

All right, the cons first. Because you always start with the cons first.

Cons of being sick and single:
No one to notice that you’re completely dehydrated.
No one to drive to the store to get your meds, your OJ, your tissue or Vicks.
No one to remind you to take your meds when you black out.
No one to notice when the dog has started eating you because he thinks you’re dead.
Having to stay home on a weekday, and when conscious, finding out that Tony Danza has a talk show now (WTF?)

Yeah, that pretty much covers it.

Pros of being sick when you’re single (rah rah GOOOOO Team!):
No one has to see you looking like hell.
No one complains when you throw tissues on the floor.
You can wear the same thing for three days, because who gives a rat’s ass?
You won’t keep anyone else awake with your coughing.
You can lay, listless, unable to speak, and just watch old On-Demand episodes of Sex and the City.

And yet, I'm picking my sister up from the airport in two hours so we can shop all weekend in the new layer of snow that fell yesterday. Bronchitis, Shmonkitis. Maybe I'll buy one of those diamond tiaras at Tiffanys on Michigan Avenue. You know...the ones that are made specifically for blushing brides. If you ask me, they are a complete waste for a married woman. A single woman would get much more use out of a diamond tiara, accessorizing with it daily.

I'd wear mine to go to Walgreens for some more Vicks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Knabe Adoption

I sold my piano yesterday. The piano I was willed at 10 years of age when my paternal grandmother died. Last night, I went and picked up the official cashier’s check from the woman who now officially owns my Knabe baby grand. I assume it’s what giving up a child for adoption must feel like; it’s the closest I’ve ever come, at least. I was a little wigged out to see it sitting in someone else’s living room, but I believe it’s in good (and wealthy) hands.

Its new home is one of your quintessential three-car garage type homes (because two drivers, a stay-at-home-mom included, apparently NEED three automobiles). An old home that still has its character, its grand wrought-iron winding staircase in a breathtaking foyer, with elements of the nouveau riche, just begging for stainless steel appliances and a BMW in the driveway.

The room my piano is now in is a beautiful one, to say the least. It’s almost as if it was made for a grand piano; it’s big and grand itself, and the acoustics are perfect. The new owner spoke of plans to heighten the ceiling by "a story or two"...she also spoke of her 8-year old son starting lessons in a few months; I was four when I started, and near his age when I myself got the piano, so it was like a ritualistic passing of the torch. He better be playing Rachmaninoff in a year to do it justice. I'm just sayin.

She must’ve sensed my underlying sadness (that I thought I was hiding very well, actually), as she looked at me and said, "I know this is hard for you; I’ll send you pictures when we re-do the room to have three-story vaulted ceiling put in. Maybe I'll send you some at Christmas every year..." Then, she hugged me.

Yep. My baby has been adopted.

On my way home, I thought about where it would be in twenty years. If her little boy would get married, ultimately screwed in an icky divorce, and have to sell it himself to pay off some lingering credit card bills. Huh. Who knows...he’ll end up his generation’s Liberace, fabulously gay, talented, rich and famous, and I will point to his image on the Tonight Show and say, "He learned to play on my piano."

It could happen.

So, the end of an era is gone. Kind of like when Cheers went off the air. You knew it was going to happen, but it still sucks when it does. Someday, I’ll have another piano, but for now, I did what I had to do. And, I know my grandmother would understand why I did it. After all, she is the figurehead who taught me to handle things with grace, and if you can’t make ends meet, at least match your shoes, purse, and hat to form an ensemble. That'll help you at least FAKE the grace part, anyway.

Oh, and I have bronchitis. Welcome to the Midwest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pumpkin Rats and a Charlie Brown Tree

Our Halloween front porch pumpkin was covered with bite marks yesterday. Small ones, which could only be rat bites. A byproduct of city life, and the kind of knowledge that gives you a touch of the willies when walking through the alleyway on a dark night. Despite this, it’s the neatest place to live. Looking down our street is like being thrown into a John Hughes movie. Summer and fall behind us, it’s now a tree-lined, midwestern scene complete with cars parked up against each other, packed in with fresh snow as buffer. The houses are old, pristine, decorated now with lights and blow up Santas. This is what the weekend after Thanksgiving should look like.

My personal holiday decoration contribution includes a brand new Homer Simpson Santa. He’s fabulously white trash. My roommate has a small Charlie Brown tree. These are our humble attempts at holiday decorating. The December issue of Vogue makes it official, though. We’re upon the holiday season.

I survived the family Thanksgiving last week, held my share of children, ate too much, and drank enough red wine to last me at least a week. I endured the danger of Black Friday, spent way too much on things I don’t need. On things no one needs….in true American consumer sheep fashion.

This morning, I went to mass with my roommate. We were late, of course, and I was relieved when the holy water didn’t burn my skin. As I walked up to the priest for communion, I wondered, “how many carbs are in the host?” These are the kinds of things that run through an overactive mind, I guess. That, or a sick one.

I’m in the market for a dog now, too. It’s time. I’ve had two years of grieving for animals that are still alive and living with my ex. I’m ready to take the plunge, but I’m going to take my time to really search out the perfect companion. I found one, Molly, who is a Great Dane/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, but when I inquired about seeing her, I was told that I was up against a family. Families win adoption rights over single women any day. It’s discrimination, really. I almost called the ACLU, but I refrained and decided to go back to the drawing board.

The sugar turkeys are gone. Next up will be something resembling a snowman, made entirely from marshmallows and rum, I think. Watch out, Martha.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sugar Turkey

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday of Titanic Proportion

OK, maybe the title of this is a bit of an exaggeration, but Mondays sometimes deserve a bit of drama. I saw the movie Titanic when it first came out in the theatres (forever ago), and then I didn't watch it again until last week, on a "let's stay in and watch a TV movie" date. Then I saw it again last night. It's been like a recurring train wreck lately. It's like there's some Titanic Channel. All Titanic, all the time...there's no escape. Perhaps it was my negative comment in previous post about Celine Dion (and how her music makes me want to stab myself in the eyes with a spork). Karma...

Besides syndication rights, I realize now why I never voluntarily watched it again until recently. At first, I tried to convince myself that it was mainly because the "heroine", Rose, wouldn't move the HELL over to let Jack on the friggin' debris-turned-raft after the ship went down. That never left me. I just don't get it. I never will. I mean, there was plenty of room on that piece of driftwood. The producer even gave us, as viewers, an aerial shot of Rose lying there, all sprawled out in her selfish glory, seemingly uncomfortable in the cold air, all while Jack held on for dear life in that freezing water. I've always contended that their body heat would've probably helped them both survive, but what do I know? I'm not a body-heat-in-freezing-water expert or anything. And, I know the entire plot would've been changed if she wasn't so selfish. It still irks me.

I know better now, though. The real reason I never watched again is that I hate endings like that. It wasn't so much the selfishness as the absolute unfairness of it all. People eat up that unrequited love stuff. The whole It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all thing. I shake my head and do my best to agree with that sentiment, but I'll always prefer a happy ending.

My roommate has a wife beater that says, simply, "Bitter". It really is a great shirt. And, always a conversation starter to boot. I've often thought, in the past couple of years, that I, too, have become a bit bitter. Jaded in a way...stepped on by life's experiences and exhausted at times from the dating maze. Watching that train wreck of a sappy movie for the second and third time made me see things from a different perspective. Maybe I'm NOT a bitter hag. There's hope for me yet.

I still think that spoiled hag should've moved over, though. Total waste.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Death and Chicken Wings

In my salon.com newsletter today, I read an interesting blurb about the top British “death” songs. You know - what most people have played at their funerals.

The article said:
At times of crisis, as ever, it seems most people still resort to traditional institutions and the music that goes with them. That said, more and more contemporary music is being played at funerals. Some 40%, in fact, of the choices collected by the Co-op now fall into this category, and increasing secularisation will probably see that figure grow.

There is of course a Top Ten of funeral faves, an appropriately depressing list:

1 My Way Frank Sinatra
2 Wind Beneath My Wings Bette Midler
3 Angels Robbie Williams
4 My Heart Will Go On Celine Dion
5 Simply The Best Tina Turner
6 I Will Always Love You Whitney Houston
7 You’ll Never Walk Alone Gerry and the Pacemakers
8 Over The Rainbow Eva Cassidy
9 Time To Say Goodbye Sarah Brightman
10 We’ll Meet Again Dame Vera Lynn

Presumably there is some deep truth in here about the changing mores of contemporary Britain, but I'm not clear what it is: something to do with mawkish sentiment replacing religion, perhaps?

A curious footnote is that looking up favorite wedding music reveals many of the same choices.

I love that last statement. A nice commentary on the institution of marriage, no doubt. And, the fact that Celine Dion is number four on the list just MAKES me want to stab myself in the eyes. I’ve narrowed mine down to a few...

"It’s My Life" by No Doubt
"Take it to the Limit" by the Eagles
"Learning to Fly" by the Foo Fighters
"Highway to Hell" by AC/DC (yes, you read that correctly)


The Golden Slumbers/Carry My Weight/In the End three-song-set by the Beatles.

And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

And, there better be chicken wings, beer, and a deejay.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
~Soren Kierkegaard

Monday, November 14, 2005

Case of the Mondays

Today started out just like a Monday. First, there was a huge accident on the Kennedy, which kept me in standstill traffic. When I finally did arrive at the office way past my intended destination time, I was ready to be hooked up to a coffee IV. I got a fresh cup of ghetto office coffee, sat at my desk, then POURED it all down my front. This is always a good look; nice and professional. And third degree burns on my lap feel AWESOME at 7 am. I did not curse out loud. I really should get a raise.

I think all the clumsiness is Mercury retrograde or some hippie crap. Everything has been screwy these past few days.

I had a looming deadline today, too. In honor of me being tired of looking at a computer screen, I'm taking the "list" route. I'm the quintessential list maker, after all. Here is what I've learned today (you must learn something every day):

I am a dork. I think I want a subscription to Scientific American for Christmas.

European men use the word "delighted" a lot. It sort of creeps me out.

I got an offer on my piano today; it was low; in fact, I think it was way too low because I'm more attached to it than I thought I was. Still, it was low. Insulting, even. I almost went Jersey on her…

My roommate was attacked by our house ghost yesterday, we believe; it made her topple down the stairs. I may have to stage an exorcism. But I need to check the level of the vodka bottle first.

I was called a "princess" today by a coworker. I am not a princess. I mean, I don't even own anything, for chrissake. Don't princesses OWN stuff and boss people around? Although, I think I could be very comfortable living the life of a princess. Especially today - this whole work thing is completely overrated.

When making a much-needed run to Starbucks in the late afternoon, I realized that I have a somewhat Pavlovian response to the seasonal red cups. They signify the start of the holiday season…I get a little giddy and start wagging my tail. Strange phenomenon.

Fall is contemplative season. I'm still in it, contemplating away. I am planning a "contemplation weekend", complete with some old cheesy 80s movies (including the must see every year, "About Last Night"). There will be retail therapy, as well as brunch with me, myself, and a good book.

It's getting colder....supposed to snow this week. People keep telling me I need a shovel. I think I need a man to be attached to the shovel so I don't break a nail.

Maybe I was a princess in a former life. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow morning, the coffee stain will be gone, and my mail will have the last name "Hilton" on it.

I'll keep my day job. But tomorrow, it's Starbucks first thing in the morning...no more of that ghetto office crap. Just like a princess.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

City dogs

Today, I miss my dogs.

My roommate's job takes her to faraway places; mine takes me to the suburbs. So, I've been taking care of Charlie, her dog, this week while she jet-setted to Seattle. Charlie and I are pals now, but it wasn't always that way. He's what you'd call a recovery dog. The kind that was either mistreated or neglected, left to his own devices to live on the streets. My roommate found him years ago, and since then he doesn't take to strangers very well. I was no exception when we moved in together, even though I ooze a love for dogs. I thought that the kind of love I have for dogs was palpable; surely they could smell it. Not Charlie, though. No way. We had our standoff. He growled at me for two weeks' straight, until one night, durihg a wicked storm, he crept in my room for surrogate mothering while his real "Mom" was away. I obliged, told him that he'd be OK, and we've been buddies ever since.

I've had many dogs in my life. In fact, I can't remember a time when I didn't have one. Or two. They're like earrings. Once you have them, you feel naked without them.

If I could give a 32-year old, almost-divorced woman advice, I'd tell her not to give up her dogs. The china, who cares...never liked it anyway...the furniture, what the hell...and the house? Don't need it. There's always a studio apartment that needs to be rented somewhere. Boys, acquaintances, even some friends walk in and out of your life. But dogs...those precious pieces of unconditional, never-ending, always-giddy-to-see-you love. Fight for the dogs.

I can still smell my hound's feet...like a bag of Fritos. And, my collie...he used to bite his nails when he got nervous. He was slightly psychotic and overprotective. Sort of like the really mute and hairy brother I never had.

I tried to fill the void by fostering a pit bull back in Atlanta, but that didn't really stick. She made me sneeze like a crazy woman. And she was about 2 seconds away from killing me in my sleep. Otherwise, it would've been a match made in heaven.

I study the city dogs I see everyday. The kind of dog born and raised on concrete and small patches of grass. They're confident...they walk different, with that sort of "yeah, I know where I'm going" thing. Loud horns and cars and busy streets don't phase them at all. I suppose the dogs here really do own the place. A dog does his business, and the man in the three-piece suit stoops down to put it in a baggy. Let's face it. We humans are the city dogs' staff. No doubt about it.

I'm on the lookout. It'll be time soon...time to get another friend for 15+ years. I already have enough earrings.

Always take the dog...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
-E. M. Forster

Monday, November 07, 2005

T-shirt poetry and the Southern Cross

I’m sitting here listening to Crosby, Stills, and Nash singing Southern Cross. One of the best songs of all time, really. I love this song so much. I never tire of it. It makes me think of high school football games and chilly November nights and Atlanta smog. This song singlehandedly made me beg the question, “where in the heck IS Papeete?”

Thank God for Google Maps. Now I know that I have to go there before I die.

Got out of town on a boat goin' to southern islands.
Sailing a reach before a followin' sea.
She was makin' for the trades on the outside
And the downhill run to Papeete.
Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas
We got eighty feet of waterline, nicely making way.
In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you
But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away .
Think about.
Think about how many times I have fallen.
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin'.
What heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world
Lookin' for that woman-girl
Who knows love can endure.
And you know it will.
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way.
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small,
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day.
So I'm sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a dyin',
And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship, and all her flags are a flyin'.
She is all that I have left, and Music is her name.
Think about.
Think about how many times I have fallen.
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin'.
What heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world
Lookin' for that woman-girl
Who knows love can endure.
And you know it will.
And you know it will.
So we cheated and we lied and we tested.
And we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do.
You will survive being bested.
Somebody fine will come along
Make me forget about loving you
At the Southern Cross.

I love words. I’m a quote fanatic…lyrics included. Being a part-time writing professor, I’ve learned that the written word is becoming an art that’s truly taken for granted. Not to sound like an old school hag, but kids today don’t read anything that can’t be read online in about 2.5 seconds. They abbreviate things; they butcher the English language. They don’t take time to really THINK about what they’re saying before spewing a bunch of words on paper. Many of my kids turn in papers without using spell check, for chrissake. It makes me nuts. It’s disheartening. I think the deterioration of the English language is something that’s on the horizon, actually. But I’ll remain steadfast in my optimism. I am a true cheerleader at heart. Words are becoming belittled, beaten, on the verge of being extinct in some sectors of the world, but I remain hopeful. I’m slightly worried, mainly because I’m a complete dork, but also because I think words convey who we are. They convey the vulnerabilities, the realness of a person. Words, as we know them, are fading into abbreviated text messages. IM’d fragments. Branching off into a new genre on t-shirts…

Ah, message-bearing t-shirts. The new form of haiku.

I’ve been known to wear an “I love Nerds” and “Get your Geek on” t-shirt. But I’ve seen some really good ones lately in the city. The infamous “I love Jake Ryan” shirt struck a 13-year old nerve with me. Emotions ensued, so it did act like a poem. It served its purpose, conjuring up memories of how I felt as a prepubescent girl, watching Jake and Samantha on that kitchen table, leaning over her 16th birthday cake to engage in a kiss. How I wanted to marry Jake Ryan. I thought it was my destiny. Boy, was I mistaken. And my roomie’s “Bitter” t-shirt explains, in such simple terms, the angst of a newly divorced 30-something. Yep…t-shirts are the new poetry. Sad as it may seem, it’s true. How apropos…wearing your emotions on your shirt…for all the world to see. I wonder how long it’ll take for universities to jump on the bandwagon, teaching “T-shirt Poetry 101”. What’s the symbolism in this “Ditch Him” shirt? What does she MEAN by that?

When I go to Papeete someday, I’m going to wear a shirt that says, “You know it will."