Monday, July 29, 2002

Life Lessons

Reading Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler's book called Life Lessons. She's the famous death doctor who's written the leading early texts on grief and loss, including Death and Dying.

Check this out. Makes it sound easy sometimes and boy, it isn't.

There are no mistakes in relationships, everything unfolds the way it's supposed to. From our first encounter with one another to our last good-bye, we are in relationships with each other. We learn through them to see our souls, with their rich topography, and to deliver ourselves to healing. When we let go of our preconceived agendas in loving relationships we set aside questions of whom we will love and for how long. We transcend these limits to find a love that is magical and created by a force greater than us, just for us.

["There are no mistakes in relationships" ... whoops ... thanks for numerous readers pointing out all the mistakes and typos in this text. ]

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Red Licorice

I'm going in the kitchen to eat junk and candy. I'm eyeing that red licorice. We've got ice cream too ... I spent so much time swimming today, i could eat ... ut oh, just thought of a favorite thing of mine and I could eat THREE of them -- Black & White Ice Cream Soda (Black = Club Soda w/Chocolate syrup) (White = Vanilla Ice Cream). I hate milk shakes but really get off on ice cream sodas.

All about texture. I hate uniform texture in food. I like something slippery with something crunchy with something sticky with something bubbly -- none of these all-one-texture-foods for me please. Maybe I could mix ice cream and M&M's and crumbled up graham crackers and red licorice ... hmm, I'll have to try that. Oh, shit, now I'm thinking of chocolate covered cherries -- the crunchy shell of the chocolate, the runny inside of the cherries. Ahhhh!

Church Thing

Church started empty but weirdly, was a bit like a Macy's bargain day, with many spiritual shoppers streaming in the door throughout the service and ended rather full, call it bulging at the seams. An unusual slow, but relentless mounting of attendance to be sure.

Simply getting to church takes a bit of work to get faces washed, shirts tucked in, kids out the door and then when you finally get there ... you sit with the other people and you hear the music and you say the words and you start to think of your week and if your heart was kind enough or if you could have done more and then you remember why you are there. And you're so glad you bothered.

Especially nice is to send quiet prayers down the pew, across the aisle, out the door, around town, off to the state capital, out to Logan and get them winging far and wide. Did you feel it this morning, guys? Did you feel me praying for you? Like little carrier pigeons headed your way.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Don't Do This

Have you ever done this thing? It's terribly dangerous and many people seem to be doing it. It's called falling in love and I'm here to report that often as not, it can be extremely painful and end very badly. Strangely, one enters into it with shocking recklessness ... we buy fruit with more care and consideration ... and after centuries of diligent smelling and careful tasting, have no question about which fruits are able to poison us and take us out in a matter of moments. But with this enterprise called love we bring little wisdom to the table.

We trust our senses -- sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste -- for no good reason. We see curves we want. We touch hair sometimes surreptiously, if we get the thrilling chance. We ask for a dance and know we want not to see the artful steps of a partner, but rather languish in the close perfume of him or her. Just to hear that divine word on our lover's lips -- one's name -- we crave. And at last, to kiss and know this ripe fruit in all it's fullness -- few can resist. By then, we are lost, only to learn how lost much later. And is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all? Depends on the day, depends on the day.

And Another Thing

Blogs of a Summer Night ... just miss this little screen a lot after not blogging much regularly... thinking of Autumn and fall leaves which will be here sooner than we expect ... a serious enterprise in Boston, a leaf-peeping mecca. After so long in Los Angeles, the seasons here are so dramatic to me, even a cool breeze tonight gets me all in a lather to realize they're about to change the scene again. Yank the summer beachball backdrop and roll in the back-to-school yellow pencils, the scrapy noise of leaf rakers, the harvest of pumpkins, knee socked girls in wool kilts in Dress Campbell.

This is a serious September state -- kids back to school at Harvard, MIT and all the other fine schools ... those rowboats on the Charles, the river bluer than the bluest eye of any sweaty sweatered coxswain hunk boy you might spot as you linger in Memorial Drive morning traffic ... apple picking farms out past 495 ... Beacon Hill bricky wet in a good autumn rain shower, you can almost hear the carriage wheels and horse hoofs in Louisburg Square of a few centuries ago. This is a fine town for falling into Fall.

Exercise Asleep -- Highly Recommended

Exercising while you are still asleep is the fountain of youth. Believe me, I know. I did it this morning at 5:30 am and the beauty of it is waking up at about 6;30 to realize you're done and you just worked out for an hour without noticing. I mean, I really was half asleep -- stumbling around like a complete idiot -- sometimes I whack myself in the head with my barbells, but no matter since it gives you that quick rush of adrenalin.

I used to look at these morning exercise freaks and think ... "Shit, these people are just too too much," and go hunt up another Scooter Pie for breakfast and a Diet Coke to wash it down. But then something happened ... I'm not even sure what. Actually that's not true. I know exactly what happened. Some people went and died on me.

Five years ago I watched my mom slowly die of lung cancer which is no party and this spring saw my dad succumb to congestive heart failure -- but even worse, they tend to put these sick people together with lots of other sick people and you get to visit these extremely unpleasant places called hospitals or nursing homes or hospices and you can't MISS that we are all heading for ... well, call it some serious entropy. And you also notice that these exercise freaks might have something worth considering -- they are dying a little more slowly than the rest of us.

And some of them are holier-than-thou, I admit and I hate that. But don't think for a minute they aren't drug addicts like the rest of the unhealthy people in the world -- they aren't addicted to nicotine or alcohol or caffeine (some are) or name any other drug like most people, but they are getting gobs and gobs of endorphins which is just plain old home grown morphine (body-grown, that is).

So I'm one of those people now, a morphine (endorphine) addict and a somnambulant aerobic dancer and groggly weight lifter. Believe me it works. There's a zen to removing exercise obstacles and potential resistance. First, start fully asleep, then you think you are DREAMING the whole nightmarish experience of working out. Also, being asleep tends to stop your mind from coming up with 25 great reasons NOT to exercise. I leave my workout clothes on the floor by the bed the night before, looks like some crime scene, but keeps me from thinking of anything else when I wake at dawn. I put them on in the half dark, without thinking. I go downstairs to an already queued-up videotape. I push a few buttons and I start stretching and squatting and stepping and supine French pressing. I do Rodney Yee's AM Yoga and also some seriously rough workout tapes by The Firm. I do it every day even if I feel like hell. I tell myself it's okay to do it really really badly. If the happy girls on the tape are doing ten push-ups, I swear at them and say really nasty things, sometimes throw couch pillows at the snotty little bitches and I then let myself do one push-up ... who cares ... at least I'm doing it and nobody's watching. Just Do It ... Asleep.

Sorry Elaine ... Boston's Bermuda Triangle

Elaine was here to see her super cute new grandson. Every time Elaine visits Boston, she makes all the right moves to visit me and some freaky thing happens and I drop the ball and we don't get together. Thank goodness we actually managed ot meet in Maine a few months back. Elaine, I really wish I'd seen you. But ... forces beyond my control ... actually just my boneheaded lack of organization. I spent the whole day checking my home phone for messages, instead of the cell (though I told her call my cell), then finally at the end of the day, I check my cell to find a message from early that morning. D'uh.

Divorce Diet

Another very emotional day on the divorce front, both of us getting high marks for completely misunderstanding the intent of the other. It kind of reminds me of being pregnant, feeling like I'm going to throw up most of the day ... except saltine crackers don't help. Also instead of gaining prodigious amounts of weight for nine months, this looks like the pounds are falling off instead and after nine (I hope fewer) months, I'll give birth not to a baby, but to my S E L F. Very very strange.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Burning Bird Burning The Midnight Oil

Shelley's back online with a really good post about webloging and unwebloging. Just talked to her on the phone too. As I talk to more and more bloggers across this big old country, I feel like I'm putting together a puzzle of the United States -- one of those kid's ones with each state painted brightly and easy to grab -- 1/4 inch thick wooden jigsaw cut edges which you place in a tray to get the lay of the land.

The big cantaloupe slice of California was slipped in place this week when I left a message for Doc as he drove from Santa Barbara to San Diego. I put Colorado into the four corners Northeast quadrant a while back when I got chatting with Chris Locke. Things are peachy in the Peachtree State connecting with Jeneane, Jenna and now George. Illinois, shaped like a cluster of grapes, is in place with AKMA rarely home but often zipping off to lots of other states on a regular basis. And Shelley ... yikes, I just realized ... I have no idea where you are ... is it Missouri? Wherever ... meanwhile, don't miss her post.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

A Boy Tried To Kiss Me

One time, when I was young, not much more than 14 if I remember right, a boy tried to kiss me ... but there was much more to it than that. There was water and boats and an old AM radio, badly plugged in, and a full moon and a gang of other kids and spin the bottle and summer rye fields grown so tall above your head you could hide there and a metal mesh screen on the window to keep out bugs. It's all just falling out of me this morning, with no narrative to hang it on ... sorry ... actually not sorry ... I mean, let me wrangle it into a story so it might make sense to me and might make sense to you. Actually I don't care if it makes any sense to you whatsoever, but I really would like to make sense of it for me. And it happens that the moon is rising again on today's calendar, going full tilt and I find I long for a boy to kiss me when the moon is rising and it would be best if I could understand that a little since it spells nothing but trouble for me. Always has.

That summer I was 14 there were a number of sailboats in a shed that needed sanding and fiberglassing and fixing up. That's what I had been drafted to do. We rented a cottage, that we called the Marina House, next to the boat sheds in the Marina that summer and the landlord -- the father of this boy I longed for -- came around one morning in early June to see if any of us wanted to help sand boats for the summer. We were three sisters in flip flops, a babyish one in pink flipflops (my little sister just 9 then), a 14 year old skinny tough one in blue don't-mess-with-me, like-I-care, flipflops (that was me) and a slightly plump 16-year-old sneaking-cigarettes-behind-the-shed yellow flip-flopped older sister. Of course we said, yes, we wanted to sand boats.

Did you ever notice you are doing certain activities that in name only seem reasonable, but they are, in fact, a ruse, that you are doing something completely apart from this surface activity and if pressed you would admit it, but rarely do we press each other to the wall in this way. So of course, I thought I was sanding boats, but I was watching this tall boy's butt in blue jeans, and especially his back which was tan and strong and pretty much impossible to tear my eyes away from, and even sometimes when he turned around, I brazenly looked at his chest, his ribs, his hard abs which descended into the waistband of his jeans and noticed the way ... well, let me just say I was learning how to sand boats that summer, so I was watching him closely since he was very good at sanding boats.

Free labor is always a tricky workforce, but we got more accomplished than one would expect. The boy put a really lousy AM radio in the rafters of the boat house and it was on a all-hits-all-the-time station but for some reason I remember it playing only three songs ad infinitum. It played "In The Year 2525" followed by "Positively 4th Street" and "I Think We're Alone Now." I would blush as that song cried out, "Children Behave! That's what they say when we're together ..."

Truth be told I had absolutely no traction on this boy, so to speak. He didn't notice me for shit. He didn't even know my name. He was 17 and he was checking out my older sister of 16 and I hated her guts for that. And he was also ducking behind the shed to smoke, and since she did that too they had a special bond and I hated them both for that and I hated smoking and I hated the way my sister was using smoking to walk some path into being a grownup and being sexy and doing it with some sort of relative ease and I was this gawky geeky hopeless knee-knocking school girl madly in love with this unreachable boy. He might as well have been in another universe, hell, he could have been living in the year 2525 for how close he was to me. But then devastatingly, he might come over to give me a new piece of sandpaper and rub his arm against mine and I was in complete meltdown.

But one night, I got an unlikely chance. Life works that way. My sister had gone into the local town to the movies with some girlfriends of hers -- and a gang of kids were coming to our house for dinner, a barbeque I think, and there were some fairly older trustworthy college girls who used to be nannies for us there, so my parents were off at another couple's rented house down the road for cocktails and lobster. I was scuffing past the boathouse in my flipflops and saw him there at sunset still sanding and actually had the wherewithal to invite him over for a hot dog, god knows how I summoned the words, much less that idea of inviting him and he smiled at me with those dimples and said, "Sure," he'd come by. That was the first smile I ever saw from him that might mean something, I was in ecstacy.

We all ate and had fun. I even spoke to him once or twice, again, it looked as if he had noticed I existed. This was more than I could ask for. It was dark, but there was an amazing full moon brimming outside the window, when someone got a deck of cards out and we all sat on the faded carpet in the livingroom of the Marina House to play cards I somehow ended up seated next to him.

Cards turned into Spin-The-Bottle suddenly, and I felt a little dizzy, I was in over my head. The kids seemed older, the night darker, my inexperience poking into my ribs like a sharp knife. I hadn't kissed any boys and I wasn't sure I could and should or whatever.

Weirdly, the bottle kept pointing to him -- and he was cool, kissing some girls quickly, girls that were older and giggly and I could look slanty sideways at him when the bottle stopped at his place and watch him kiss these girls adroitly and wonder if he might pick me. Once, he caught me looking and smiled at me that way again. The bottle spun and stopped here and there, not at this boy's place for a few turns. But I could feel it coming back my way.

I jumped up to .... go somewhere ... to run away ... to go to the bathroom I said, but it was to go hide out. The bottle was spinning, and again, it landed in front of him. I was on the other side of the room, almost to the bathroom, I heard him say my name, it was like a bullet zinging across the room and nearly took me down. I flew into the bathroom shyly, locking the door quickly but our gang would have none of it. They erupted in shrieks and laughter, yelling "Kiss him, kiss him, kiss him!" I was at the far wall of the bathroom, grabbing my face in both hands. They were banging on the door now. I threw open the window that looked out on the back yard, the moon large and welcoming. The kids were yelling and banging on the door. In a flash I climbed up on the toilet and jumped out the window, no small feat as I realized halfway through that a metal bug screen was on the window and I tore it loose as I tumbled through and onto the ground.

I ran. I ran away from the house, the noise, the laughter, the boy. I ran crying big splashy tears. I kept running. I ran to the moon, to the rye fields where I fell into the soft summer crop, catching my breath, trying to stop sobbing. I walked a long time. Finally I walked back to the very edge of the Marina where I could spy on the house to see if they had gone home. I crouched down under a boat shed, sat on the bow of a sailboat that bobbed in the water, I could watch the moon's reflection in the water form and reform. I saw the kids leave, I saw my sister come home from the movies, I saw a college girl walk out look around, look worried at where I was. I did not see the boy. He was gone. I saw my parents coming from the end of the road so I dashed into the house. The college girl had a few words with me, but covered for me. I hid in my bunk bed, heard her reassuring my parents that all was well. Heard her leaving.

In the morning, we were sanding boats and the radio was playing and he gave me a sideways glance that was just right, and we both laughed a little but pretended it was coughing.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Le Roman Telephonique

Yes, truth be told, Rageboy has created a new medium. The "Telephonic Novel" is a new service on Sprint Voicemail. You sign up for a mere $9.95/month and check your messages periodically to hear a real live EGR-like narrative in the author's own voice. Yes, be the first on your block to get Rageboy's amazing narrative delivered directly to your phone, in truly hilarious, sidesplitting stereo. For instance, you can chill out while listening to him recount the story of his Rochester neighborhood drug dealer who was snowed in, as 6 feet of snow completely blocked the poor guy's basement apartment stairs and door . Rageboy and two other clients were walking by wondering if the guy had gone away for the weekend, then suddenly realized he was probably trapped in his underground lair. They had to dig him out before he died an oxygen-deprived but rather romantic Dr. Zhivago-like ice cottage at Varenkino death.

For $12.95/month, you can get complete audio with vocal selections. You can stand on a street corner, listening to your cell phone voicemail, making a pensive and thoughtful ecommerce-y face, pretending you're talking with some CEO about something of dire importance, as Rageboy sings selections from Rubber Soul to you in the privacy of your own earpiece. Get it today!

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Burning Bird Please Don't Go

At church, did you know, I'm praying for you? Shelley's super cool ultra smart excellento blog, BURNINGBIRD, is going dark and I am so seriously bummed out about that. I'm singing hymns and thinking of you Shelley. I like the sermon a lot -- my minister Judy's talking about God putting a comma in your sentence, not a period. There I go -- I got the words all wrong. And this is no theological text -- ironically, it's a quote from Gracie Allen, the comedienne extraordinaire -- I'll go look it up.

“Never put a period where God has put a comma.”

Anyway, we need all the excellent women bloggers we can get and we really need you Shelley. I'm at the gym now and I'm supposed to go swimming -- my goggles and bathing suit are looking up at me questioningly -- why are you at the computer in the lobby of the health club, why no splashing, they ask. Because Shelly's going dark and I don't want her to. There must be something I can say ... and I feel like a total jerk that I didn't tell her before how great her blog is and I also didn't tell her how brave she is and how courageous it is the way she's talking about divorce and I'm personally sucking up every word and she's my secret hero because ... okay, here goes, I haven't blogged about this because I'm a big coward, not a braveheart like you girlfriend, ... I'm getting divorced and I am a complete wreck and SHELLEY, please don't go dark! Make it a comma,

Friday, July 19, 2002

Small Stairs Loosely Joined

David Weinberger's reading last night at Brookline Booksmith was PUNCUATED by my really noisy arrival -- sorry man -- but I didn't expect those stairs to be so loud, metallic and right next to the place you were reading. I guess my high-heeled sandals on those metal treads sounded more like La Femme Nikita's machine gun fire than the quiet tread of a bookworm. I thought I was late and I did NOT want to miss one word of Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

Your reading was great and I liked the discussion of AI and fat v. thin knowledge was very interesting and especially how you described the way blogs may fit into this paradigm. They are much fatter than simple data ... full of emotion and passion and opinion, and enquiring minds want to know!

No More Chilling Effects Please, I mean S'il Vous Plait

In France, Jean-Yves tells of a story where a really lousy online store site, known by all to be crooked and take a customer's money and not deliver the goods they purchased has sued two web guys who put up a site to discuss their dishonest practices. Check it out. Also, Doc's been blogging about it.

Meanwhile, at a conference in May I met Diane Cabell from Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She is involved in their Chilling Effects project which helps web folks and bloggers defend their first amendment rights to speak freely on their sites and not be told to remove content or face lawsuits. It's a good site to go visit and learn about your rights.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

Happy Bastille Day

Heck, there are so many ways to celebrate this great French holiday. Dis donc, il y a tant de facons de feliciter cet archi-super-cool jour de la fete, la jour ferie francais la plus chouette.

For instance, you could dress up like Marie Antoinette -- sexy shepardess dress, push up decolletage, handy staff for beating the too-eager courtiers off -- spend the day chasing sheep. Don't forget some basic back-of-the-limo French kissing is always appropriate on le 14 juillet, unfortunately, like French Fries, it isn't actually French. I get the feeling it's an American Innovation .

Or if you're really in the mood for a little guillotine fun, you could read this or this or even this today, although this last one might be quite deadly.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Beach Day

Off to the beach today, suited up, ready to go. Load and lock the car. Flip-flops engaged. A day to fade away, to play, to pray and come home late, sandblasted and sunny as the sun goes down. One day.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Tears At Lunch

My friend Liz, who's mother died three weeks ago of ovarian cancer, is in Boston visiting. We meet at the airport as she comes in from Texas and eat a nice lunch -- and talk about death. She's written some great stuff about her mom and gives it to me to read. It's really great writing. I gently tell her she better get on the Blogtrain. She's a natural for it.

She's only in college and I can't imagine how this must be for her. I lost my parents in their 80's -- her mom was 48. We have an amazing view of Boston Harbor out the windows of the Hyatt Harborside Hotel restaurant. It's a beautiful day and we're crying a bit. Everyone dies -- even on a beautiful summer day, we know, everyone dies.

She hits on that painful sensation I kept having after my mom's death -- that interrupted turn towards the phone or towards my mom's room to share something with her and that shudder and stop when you realize there's no more of that to be had.

Excuse Me Sir, Get Off My Ass

Shall I blog the guy's license plate number? Friday afternoon Boston traffic in the Callahan Tunnel -- just trying to make that impossible drive from Logan Airport under the harbor, into the North End. It's bumper-to-bumper completely dead stopped in the tunnel and some JERK IS BEEPING AT ME because I have one car length between me and the guy ahead of me. My friend Liz and I are roaring laughing that this moron is beeping at me, expecting to drive ... where, over me?

I'm yelling "I'm blogging you, you moron, I'm blogging you right up the butt, get ready!"

Bright Pink Metal Jellybeans

Wow! I got a manicure and a pedicure today in a great shiny pink mettalic lacquer. My fingers and toes look good enough to eat, like ten happy jelly beans. At the women's emporium of female wisdom and feminine charm, they tell you all the secrets -- like how to make men go crazy for you, where to get a good nanny, how to keep your sister-in-law from visiting you when you don't want her nosy-ing into your life and who makes the best push-up bra. Essential information, pampering and renewal available for just the cost of a paint job.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

How Elmo Saved Christmas and How Halley Saved The 4th of July

You must have seen the movie "How Elmo Saved Christmas" where Elmo gets three wishes and first wishes for a glass of cold water, since he's thirsty (it's bedtime) but then gets serious and with his second wish, decides it would be cool to HAVE CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY. This ends up, of course, being about as much fun as eating chocolate for every meal, every day, for the year -- it's a disaster. Maya Angelou comes in to straighten him out, but surprisingly, to no avail. Even hearing her simply say the two words, "Now, Elmo" in that haughty, soulful tone scares the shit out of me. Elmo continues partying and Christmas continues day after day after dreary festive day.

Soon enough, we see Christmas every day is just about killing the Sesame Street residents. The gift wrapping alone looks unbearably tedious. By Easter, they're having a pretty lackluster red and green only egg painting party, but by late fall they are completely disheartened, dragging themselves around in faux cheer bordering on total desperation. Elmo still doesn't see what havoc he has wreaked with the relentless celebration of Christmas day. At Santa's urging, with help from the whole burned out Sesame Street crew, and Maya Angelou's arched eyebrow and daunting scowl, Elmo is yanked back into reality, he realizes it must be remedied and he wishes it would all go back to normal and sanity resumes. (It's actually more complicated than this and involves a few reindeer, a sleigh and spinning the world backwards.)

This is all a long drawn-out preface to say -- anyone noticed IT'S BEEN THE 4TH OF JULY EVERY DAY ALL YEAR, SINCE SEPTEMBER 11TH.?!?!? Talk about an impossible day to celebrate! Today will be the anti-climax of all anti-climaxes. And my wish for all of us this year is we can go back to normal one of these days. How? Well, would that I could spin the world backwards, but no such luck. I suggest rather that everyone pick a favorite holiday and surrepitiously celebrate it today. Next to that bowl of strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream with little paper Amerian flag garnish, feel free to plant an obvious bowl of orange, yellow and brown Halloween candy corn. Nothing goes better with hot dogs and hamburgers than Passover matzos. And over by the keg, feel free to stack those iced "Erin Go Braless" St. Patty's Day green beer mugs.

Personally, I'll decorate my red, white, and blue barbeque table with some roast turkey, cranberry sauce and canned yams to give thanks we're all still here to celebrate the 4th of July. But can't we get back to normal one of these days?