Thursday, March 30, 2006

you say you want a revolution

Me: "So, sweetheart, have you thought about what you want for your birthday this year?"

Jim: {pause} "I don't really need anything. After all, we're going to Paris four days later!"

I'm glad he's excited about the honeymoon. I'm also pretty glad that this has not yet been released.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

dude, i so much prefer saturn in retrograde

Because apparently, 37 cents buys you three months in USPS transit:


Thank you for participating in T-Mobile's rebate program!

Your submission for On Line Care Rebate has met the service requirements.
You should be receiving your request in the mail within the next 2 - 3

So to eBay:

Congratulations! You committed to buy the following item:

Sale price: $49.99
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: US $49.99
Shipping & Handling:
Canada Post Expedited Parcel: US $10.00
Canada Post Expedited Parcel - USA: US $14.95

25% of retail? Today, life is good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

the gourmet club

I was all excited for tonight, because Jim had invited a colleague over for dinner and I was going to make the restaurant-quality dish I first made back on Valentine's Day.

I went so far as to buy real nutmeg, as I had been substituting allspice instead (given that it was what was in my spice cabinet). I got four really lovely center-cut pork chops and a bunch of good-looking zucchini. Jim brought up an extra chair from the garage, and I was all set to use the fine china. I even pondered buying an iron to iron the linen napkins.

Unfortunately, said colleague ended up not traveling from Manchester to Portland today, so we were out one dinner guest.

I contemplated changing the evening's menu but we were looking forward to the deliciousness, so I went ahead with the plan.

I think it was even better tonight (maybe because I put more shallot in the sauce?). It's still slightly amazing to me that I can cook food that's more than worthy of company. Seriously? So. Good.

Anyway, I was mopping up the sauce with a good herbed dinner roll when I recalled The Gourmet Club.

When I was young, my parents were in a group called The Gourmet Club. They would meet at the house of one of the couples every so often (probably one night a month? I really wasn't paying attention) and cook fancy food. We kids never ate any of the food, again as far as I can remember -- can you tell this was definitely not a "kids included!" kind of activity? -- but the grown-ups certainly seemed to enjoy it. I don't think there were more than four or five couples in the group, but I do know that my folks became pretty good friends with at least some of them, and I played/grew up with kids of other Gourmet Club members for the whole rest of my young life.

I don't really have even the vaguest idea of where I'm going with this. Guess I kind of just wanted to resurrect the Gourmet Club, if only in the most random of reminiscences. And who knows? Maybe it deserves some of the credit for my love of chefdom.

Or maybe it just got my parents a night to socialize with other adults in a world of child-rearing. Either way, I'm glad it existed.

Monday, March 27, 2006

triple klutz

On Friday night (ah, Shabbat), I was returning from dinner with Alisa and Lyette, and we decided to take the back stairs up to the apartment. I normally have this great routine of turning the door handle a split-second before nudging the door open with my shoulder, but I somehow managed to mess it up (because apparently I cannot walk and talk and door-open simultaneously), thus ramming myself into the still-closed door.

The ladies did an admirable job of not laughing their asses off, but I was still half-embarrassed, half-annoyed with myself. And no, I was not drunk. I was, in fact, not even yet tipsy, despite the two glasses of wine with dinner -- most likely due to the awesome dinner, and all the water I was drinking too -- so I didn't even have that as an excuse.

"I'm such a ridiculous klutz," I explained, as we climbed the stairs. "One day I was sitting on the couch and Jim exclaimed, 'Oh my gosh, sweetheart, how did you get that?' Turns out I had an enormous bruise on my upper arm, probably from running into something, but I had no idea how it got there."

Much commiseration from the girls, who by this point probably thought I was (a) insane or (b) really into self-flagellation.

Today, I managed to whack my right kneecap with my driver's-side back door as hard as is humanly possible for me to accomplish. How I did this, I'm still not sure, but I do know that it hurts like a [profanity redacted] when I walk.

It's destined to put quite a dent in my skirt season, too. Because I'm pretty sure that's going to leave a mark.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

it worries me that i enjoy the nyt arts section

Lately I've felt that the best writing -- not necessarily the best reporting, mind you -- is to be found in the Arts section of the New York Times. (Note: This, by default, excludes Victoria Heffernan and Alessandra Stanley.)

I have found myself utterly fascinated by Jonathan Kalb's article on Samuel Beckett's legacy. As a Literature concentrator with a focus on modern drama, I was subjected to -- er, I mean, enjoyed -- my share of Beckett. But mostly it's the headline that has sucked me in and kept me coming back to re-read the piece:

You Must Go On After Beckett. I Can't Go On After Beckett. Go On.

If you aren't familiar with Beckett, then I apologize, because that will clearly make absolutely no sense. If you are, then I apologize, just because. But I also laud you, because...well, read the damn article.

Happy 100th birthday, Mr. Beckett. You annoy and frighten the bejesus out of me, but you opened doors that my writing depends on no longer being closed.

Plus David Mamet apparently thinks you were a great kisser. That must count for something, although what, I cannot fathom. Good luck figuring it out.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

what do you call a...

Elizabeth: "I'm so pissed I wasn't raised bilingually."

Me: "I know. This is yet another reason I want to live in France with babies."


Me: "I mean, my own babies. Not just a flock of random babies."

Elizabeth: "Haaaahaha. Flocks of random babies."

In any case, clearly I just need something to cheer me up right now, so I am also including the following fact.

Today, Melissa and I had a meeting to block out the big production I'll be doing with my Cape Elizabeth class and the class I'm taking over from her in Scarborough. We met at Scarborough a couple of hours before the class started. We were both having incredibly craptacular days, and we walked into the Parish House to find a bucket of Godiva chocolate goodies.

It probably was not for us. It probably should have been left there. But after three-plus hours there in the worst moods ever, I decided they were a sign from God -- or maybe from Dog, I've lost the ability to tell at this point -- and we divvied up the chocolate and took it home.

And damn was it good.

greatest. dog. ever.

I love you, La-Di-Da. Go and play with Lissy in the Big Dog Park of the Great Beyond. No baggies needed, and all the cookies you want. Nap in the sunshine and know how much you were loved.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

dead last

Dad called last night. It seems the United States Postal Service had kindly delivered one last, errant wedding invitation response, despite the fact that it had merely a thirty-seven-cent stamp on it.

The invitation had been sent to an incredibly distant relative of my grandmother's -- I think. This woman ranked so far on the "distant relative" scale that my father had never met her, at least not within conscious memory, and only my Aunt Ann was even aware of her current location.

The response made us cry until we laughed until we cried. I include it here for your reading horror.

The favour of a reply is requested before the first of November.

I just found this (3/17/06).

Mom passed away October 6, 2005.

She went into a terminal coma from a botched test.

Just thought I would let you know.

Best wishes,
[name redacted]

Dad did ask if we got a gift. We did not. And really? I'm fairly sure it's better that way.

I feel like I should send a condolence note, but that might only promulgate the terrible absurdity of the situation. It's all sorts of creepy and weird, and funny just because some things are so awful that you have to laugh so you don't hurt.

I do think it's probably unique in the cache of wedding responses we got. Someday, well, that's gonna be a hell of a memory. Oy vey.

Monday, March 20, 2006

for the love of a god you say

Clearly I don't often use this space for unabashed sentiment, but today it must be forgiven. My dog, La-Di-Da, is in the hospital.

She was the puppy we got when I was in junior high and our Cocker Spaniel, Lissy -- whom we'd gotten when I was four or five as a physical manifestation of my imaginary friend, and no I'm not kidding -- was getting on in years. Lissy's favorite things at that point were eating (she had a penchant for Kleenexes pulled from the trash) and sleeping and, well, peeing, not always in appropriate places. She did not particularly want a friend, much less a wee ball of fluff that was vaguely Shih-Tzu shaped and thought she was the coolest thing ever.

Lissy was put down when La-Di was a year or two old, I think (my parents and I have the world's worst time keeping track of when dog-related events happened), and La-Di was clinically depressed about it for months. She did eventually get over it. Small dog, smallish brain; I don't think long-term memory is its strong suit.

She's a ridiculously cute animal who is about twice as large as we were told she would be. (Apparently Shih-Tzus come in size classes, like poodles. Who knew?) She has a wall eye and in recent years has gotten even a little blinder and slightly deaf, too, so she occasionally stares at the wall for a while, even when you call her. It's hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad.
Anyway, she's not doing so hot, and I'm sad about it. I miss her. During those teenage years of mine, she always knew when I wasn't feeling great and would keep me company. I like to think it's because I'm the one who trained her, but the word "train" with La-Di can only be used in the most general sense. I think she spent most of obedience school trying to avoid getting drooled on by the massive Saint Bernard puppy.

I had very deep mattresses on the beds in my room and it was rather impressive that she could jump onto them, which she did, particularly if I was watching a movie and eating popcorn. She loved popcorn, which I'm guessing is not really the most normal food for dogs. Also we had to spell the word "turkey" around her because she loved to eat that too, and would go crazy if we said it aloud.

She puts out an insane amount of body heat and when I was growing up in the world's coldest room (until we got the garage heater), she was the greatest thing ever to pick up and plop down on the bed on a cold winter morning.

I hope she gets better. Love you, Lahboo.

the wearin' o' the jean

On Friday last, I fell in love with this pair of jeans.

I know that I should not have even been looking at jeans I might possibly want to buy, since there is less than zero need in my wardrobe for yet another pair. But Lyette posted about shopping for the missing elements of her spring wardrobe, and jeans were on her list.

I responded that I am something of a denim label fiend, and that my mother has found two of the greatest pairs of jeans for me ever, at wildly discounted prices.

Mom, Lyette would now like you to use your shopping sixth sense -- dare I call it the jean gene? -- to find her some awesome new jeans. Just so's ya know.

In any case, because we were having this conversation in blog comments, I was receiving copies of them in my Gmail, and Gmail just loves to taunt me. "Talking about jeans, eh?" it says. "You should go to this site then!" and so on and so forth.

And of course I do what Gmail tells me. Because I am weak.

Several friends helped to talk me out of purchasing the amazing jeans, despite the fact that they are fifty percent off. Half price, people! Think of the value!

But I haven't purchased them yet. See, right after Gmail directed me to the dangerous website showcasing the massively discounted designer jeans in stock in my size (just sayin'), it directed me to vintage prom dresses,

I may be a shopping addict, but come on, Gmail. Even I have my limits.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


There are some hidden perils to working at home and making your own schedule. As many of us can attest -- Fiona first among them -- the worker-at-home can all too easily fall into the trap of working all the time.

I, of course, try to balance this by being constantly signed in to several e-mail and chat programs and studiously avoiding everything I truly should be doing.

But in all seriousness, I definitely have let myself slide into working at any and all hours, every day of the week. The only days I currently don't teach at all are Tuesday and Wednesday, so I generally devote a large chunk of those days to complete curriculum work or other class preparation. When I come home from SAT class on Saturdays and Sundays, I often set to work on more Kaplan items. Although my Drama Kids classes on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays don't start until after school, I generally spend pre-class time reviewing the day's lesson and thinking about how to accomodate an ever-changing roster of attendees (curse you, Cold and Flu Season!).

This spirals out of control. It may not seem so detrimental to the soul on the surface, but trust me -- there comes a moment, when, even though I don't keep normal work days and hours, I find that something like three weeks have passed without a single day wherein I did nothing that contributed to my earning power, and I sort of want to throw my checkbook out the window and run and hide.

Today was one of those days.

However, I saw it coming, and this time I was careful. This time, I decided to put to good use my husband's phenomenal birthday gift to me: a day at the spa.

I booked a massage, followed by a facial. I made sure I had no pressing engagements, and for the first time ever, I had two solid hours of total pampering.

I came home and make myself a lovely lunch. Then, I relaxed on the couch for a while, trying to avoid feeling guilty for not glue-gunning the puppets for tomorrow's class (I'll do it in the morning), and finally headed to the shower to transform my hair from randomly-growing-out highlighted to "Suede" light brown that was on sale for less than $6, and since it's only demi-permanent, that was good enough for me.

All told, it's been a rather impressively wonderful day of doing nothing. The only damper is that the friends with whom we had dinner plans had to reschedule -- but, in keeping with my not having any responsibility today, my adorable husband has elected that we shall go out to dinner anyway. We even have a little something to celebrate: His year-end bonus, which, since it was delivered today, might even be considered payment for my doing nothing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I have, of late, been craving change.

I suppose I should apologize to those of you who just spit your beverages all over your computer keyboards. Obviously, I'm not often a girl who goes for lots of new and different wild adventures. But every so often -- when Mercury is in retrograde? -- I suddenly need things to be...different.

These periods have cropped up infrequently, but consistently, in my life. The last one was in spring of 2004, when I jumped at the admittedly tangential rationale that Jim moving to Portland was a great reason to leave my full-time hellhole of an office job and head to Maine.

I'd say that change worked out pretty well, by the way. Just my opinion.

Anyway, the feeling is back. Maybe it's because we have four weddings to attend this year -- and that's just counting the ones we know about so far. Perhaps it's because we're going to spend eight days in Paris, the City of Chic, er, Light. Regardless, this spring, the desire has led to me chopping my hair (chin length) and updating my wardrobe (colors! I have shoes and a cardigan in a pale lime-y green now!). I'm still feeling the urge for more new-ness, particularly in the sense of new me.

And that urge is manifesting as an overwhelming lust. It's a primal need, an estrogen-activated desire that cannot be ignored.

If you have an opinion, speak now or forever shut it. One more week, and then I'm turning the bathroom into my personal salon, and coming out with whatever new highlighted haircolor suits my feminine fancy.

Monday, March 13, 2006

oh the tangled (inter)webs we weave

Earlier today, Gmail decided it hated me.

I was locked out. Could not even access the log-in screen.

Everyone else I know who uses Gmail for their e-mailing needs had no issues. They could sign in and out at will, use Gmail chat, and access any long-archived piece of mail they might suddenly desire, on a whim, to re-read.

What bothered me more, though, than the mere lack of access to my email, was the sensation I had of being utterly removed from my portal into the world. When I am working at home, I am constantly signed in to my Gmail; I use the chat to stay in contact with my husband when he's at his office, and my best friend when she's at her office, and my friends in California and Boston at their offices (huh, I'm sensing a trend). The little Gmail notifier pops up a message whenever a new email comes in -- not just making the "ding" of new mail, but actually popping up a snippet of the message so I can decide if it needs to be read immediately (almost always yes) or not (rarely the case).

Gmail is the address I use for blog-related items, so comments are sent there. I also have a separate Gmail address just for my SAT students, so without access, I am stranded, unaware of if they've sent questions that need a timely response.

It just felt so wrong to be excommunicated by Gmail. Even though I could access all the other websites I read to stay abreast of news and happenings in the world, I still experienced the internet equivalent of phantom limb sensations. It was vile.

I can barely express the joy I felt when I got home from Drama Kids. Gmail had decided that I'd done enough penance for whatever my original sin was. I'm back in.

I don't know how I deceived you, Gmail, but I will be faithful forevermore.

Friday, March 10, 2006

i also thought "epitome" was pronounced "ep-ih-toam"

I had a habit of neologizing in high school. (Before you Google "neologize" -- hey, I didn't say the habit had ceased to exist!)

Although I was actually not, in the least, a massive procrastinator during my years of secondary education, I did occasionally decide to start my homework/projects/what-have-you a little later than I would normally have done, in an effort not to be the nerdiest nerd who ever nerded.

(It's probably unnecessary for me to point out that I failed miserably at that last attempt, but it's ok, because it's what made my husband fall in love with me later on.)

Anyway, my friends and I enjoyed making fun of our own geekiness, even back then. One of our most favored neologisms was "master procraster," a term we would apply to ourselves as we sat around studiously avoiding our homework during free periods.

Unfortunately, the rampant making-up of words backfired on me when I actually used the coinage "pointful" (logical opposite of pointless) in a class.

All of this is really just to say that I apologize for putting off blog entries of late. I've been busy, yadda yadda yadda, and so forth, but I have a lot to say, and I promise I'll get around to it one of these days.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

job posting

If I ever need a job in Hollywood, I think I shall apply for "seat filler supervisor" at the Academy Awards.

Because, come on. That's the best job ever.

tragedy tomorrow, academy tonight

I am relatively uninterested in the Academy Awards tonight.

I suppose that's only partially true. I enjoy watching the Oscars because I always enjoy watching the Oscars. I don't get into the red carpet fashion smackdown bit -- there is such a thing as overprogramming, and awards shows are right up there with the Superbowl in attempting to shanghai the airwaves for an inordinate number of hours -- but some of the spectacle is fun. Or, at least, it gives me an opportunity to mock and rail at the self-congratulatory nature of The Industry, while secretly coveting the better designer couture and Harry Winston diamond loaner jewelry.

This year, however, along with a good portion of the movie-going public, I am not terribly invested in the actual outcome. Part of that is because in the past year, Jim and I were rarely part of the movie-going public; we saw none of the Best Picture-nominated films, and very few others at all. But I realized how deep my lack of caring went when my friend Seth invited me to participate in his annual Oscar pool, which involved going on to a fancy website and selecting the winners of the 24 (I think) major categories.

Not that I ever have a clue who's going to win something like sound editing, but this year I realized that my only notion of who is going to win anything comes from having read reviews and Oscar discussions. I know that the run-off in Best Picture is probably going to come down to Brokeback Mountain and Crash and that anyone who doesn't believe that cliches equal great movie-making would prefer to see the former win over the latter -- it's all over the news. The Oscars were even the topic of discussion on "Meet the Press" and George Stephanopolous this morning.

On a personal level, I didn't miss the Oscar-nominated films merely because they weren't big-budget action-blockbuster flicks and I have the attention span of a groundhog. Rather, I just didn't care enough to get myself there.

Don't misunderstand me; I'm not proud of this. I'm sad that I didn't make more of an effort to see at least a few of the nominated films. I missed Good Night and Good Luck not because I didn't want to see it (on the contrary, I did and do), but because I'm too lazy and cheap to drag myself to the movie theatre without an extraordinary impetus, and I just didn't get there.

(This seems the appropriate moment for a "Huzzah!" to Netflix, no?)

Oodles of articles and commentary about the disconnect between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the taste of motion picture audiences have surfaced in the lead-up to awards season, so I'm not going to be opening any new cans of worms by getting into that debate. My mind tends to think of it in terms of what we want from cinema. In very broad strokes, do we want it to entertain us, or do we want it to make us think?

I certainly don't mean to imply that the two goals above exist at cross-purposes, or are mutually exclusive. However, it does seem that we tend (or, again, maybe it's the industry folks -- is this becoming an Us vs. Them?) to break our films down into one or the other of the categories, without allowing for cross-pollination.

Do we do this with other forms of art? I don't know. My impression (based solely on personal experience) is that if we do, it's not nearly to the extent that we do with film. Even theatre, the art form most closely related to cinema, does not so actively subdivide its offerings, although I'm willing to bet most of us would probably admit that we expect very different results from an evening at Mamma Mia! or Jersey Boys than at Homebody/Kabul or The Seagull.

Then again, the theatre community has found a way to honor both categories, as has the Hollywood Foreign Press. The Academy Awards give clear precedence, in terms of assigning value via nomination at least, to movies with a "message," while often discounting those that set out purely to entertain us.

The flip side, of course, is that many of us turn to movies for entertainment. We may like to attend the ones that make us think and discuss and debate, but we may also like to go into the darkened theatre for a few hours of not having to deal with the ills of the world. The more the world ails, the more human beings will turn to the movies for escape (think of the massive studio machines churning out feel-good musical comedies during the Depression).

This isn't a judgment of movie-goers of either ilk. One of the perks of art is that the consumer can decide what it means to her, and that can change depending on the influences of the moment. It's also not a cry for the Academy to be more democratic in its nominations. Good box office is merely one type of award, a gold statuette another. Need they devolve onto the same people? Of course not.

Still, when the movies up for awards on Oscar night don't arouse the interest of the viewing public, the television ratings are going to take a hit. I almost thought I wouldn't even really bother to watch this year. But the pool I entered changed all that.

I may have no idea who is going to win any of the relevant awards, but I filled out my ballot in full, by taking wild, blind stabs in the dark. My authority on All Things Entertainment looked it over, and she thinks I may actually have gotten about 60% right on the mark.

Tonight's viewing of the Oscars is, for me, no longer just Hollywood's worldwide broadcast navel-gazing. It's all about an exercise in probablity! Let's see how I do with my close-eyes-point-and-click methodology. It's a flip on tradition, my way of saying, "If you can't join 'em, beat 'em!" I'll have my fun and learn something, too.

And damned if I won't have my eye on that jewelry.

Friday, March 03, 2006

the missing spice girl: sinus spice

I'm sure I have one of the world's lowest illness thresholds, having let this damn cold linger the way it has. However, I do think I can finally say with some confidence that I have turned the corner and am somewhat on the mend.

My head and neck no longer ache, which is a major bonus. I still have the four-pack-a-day-smoker cough, but the fits don't last quite as long, and other than the fact that I think I bruised my diaphragm with the violent hornking over the past few days, I'm feeling almost human.

I'm still slothing around on the couch (thank the Lord for daily infusions of Stacy and Clinton and their grossly misguided subjects), but tonight I think I'm going to step it up and make some Thai-inspired new recipes for dinner.

If I can't cough it out, surely I can spicy-Thai-chile my way to health.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

this is my brain on OTC drugs

I coughed all the phlegm from my lungs into my sinuses.

OK, on some basic level, I understand that the above statement is biologically impossible, but that's truly how I feel.

We watched last night's Gilmore Girls just now, and it contained a scene of what had to be the world's greatest bat mitzvah, complete with Sebastian Bach covering "Hollaback Girl."

Dude. I actually think that, had Sebastian Bach been available in 1992, I'd have sucked it up and done the whole shebang.

Eh. Probably not. But it would have been slightly more appealing. After all, it's not all the time that you get to hear a member of Skid Row exhort the mishpochah to get on the dance floor.

Unfortunately, the intensity of the cold medicine -- most likely in combination with the utter lack of sleep due to coughing from last night -- has rendered me incapable of staying up much longer. At least the TiVo will preserve Lost and Project Runway until I can get to them.

Tim Gunn would probably be fun at a bat mitzvah, too. Just think of the fashion goldmine.