31 December 2008

1 december: a revue



"nothing says 'I love you' like a reindeer with diarrhea."

"i can't imagine anything more hilarious than carrie bradshaw in st. louis."

"i am really rocking the area of the beautiful uselessnesses."

"i was thinking turkey sandwich meat and green beans and a glass of wine."
"that sounds so single."
"well, there's always pasta-roni."
"that sounds so single parent."

"i've been in love. but i've never been rich. i would like to try that."

"he was single and then he was in a relationship and here i can't even commit to 'it's complicated.'"

"do we get snow days in the corporate world?"

"it's right by the transients home on clark."
"there's a transients home on clark?"
"yeah, right by where that bakery where you and your parents got the bad service used to be."
"oh, i always wondered why the transients were always there."
"yeah, it's no wonder no business can thrive there. transients are not ideal for fine dining."

"we've never taken my daughter to church and the other day she asked 'who's jesus?' so i guess the time has come."

"meanwhile, i'm really pissed off because he just changed into long johns when i was waiting to tell him off."

"it was a real, grown-up party, where people introduced themselves and shook your hand before getting really really wasted."

"it is your responsibility as a girl to find unexplained delight in random, tiny things."

"all of the belgians are sluts. you don't learn how to make waffles like that unless you're a slut."

"it doesn't need an editor. it needs an exorcism."

28 December 2008


we need to talk about grandparents for a moment.

a few years ago- just before christmas, on my grandfather's birthday- my grandmother fell and broke her hip and early on in the long year of the doctors putting her back together, she and i shared this nightmarish night alone together in a hospital in tupelo, mississippi. everyone else was exhausted and they all went home. so it was me and her alone at such a late hour our manners prevented us from summoning everyone back for help.

so we sat in her room just looking at each other, waiting.

it was the only time i've heard my grandmother say the word "porno."

we were both of us convinced she was going to die.

she didn't.

there are moments, random tiny fleeting glances during the hour or two we have together every three or four months now, when she catches my eye with a look that i can only feebly describe as quiet pride and unmitigated grit. i don't know what it means. only that it has something to do with the night she didn't die. something to do with me having been there.

she's a tough one. friday night, my grandfather sat in bed- tears shining in his eyes, spilling down his cheeks, falling onto his bandaged hand that was holding mine- his voice cracking as he talked about how proud he was of her.

their victories are precious. coming off calcium shots. good blood pressure readings. no fluid in the lungs.

it's funny how the world contracts when you get older. how everything is suddenly pared down to the essentials, the fundamental level of individual failing body parts.

i worry about what i'm going to do with my life. how i'm going to get to the same place as the boy i love. how i'm going to convince him to let me have four dogs.

right now, my grandparents whole world- where they're going to be in three months, what they're going to be doing tomorrow- hinges upon a heart.

they've been married for eleven hundred years and it's impossible to believe there was ever a time they weren't together, because you don't think about joe without burvil. gran without pawpaw.

she's a tough cookie, he said, but the women in my family aren't always as tough as they look.

in the wee hours of friday morning, when he was hospitalized for the side-effects of a heart attack he didn't know he had suffered three weeks before, my grandmother pulled herself up to her full 4 feet, 9 inches and pulled everything together. she grabbed his toothbrush, his wallet, the phone charger, the roller-board of medicines and the neatly typed list of all their names. she rode in the ambulance. she filled out all the forms. she made it look very easy.

only later did she admit she'd forgotten to put on any underwear.

15 December 2008

6 the break up

my building has become melrose place. this is what comes of our proximity to depaul.

there was the kid who stood by my opened screen door discussing the intimate details of his girlfriend's abortion. then there was the guy who had a breakdown, set fire to his furniture and threw it out his window. and then there are, of course, the nights of well, FUCK you... no, fuck YOU.

but last night pretty much takes the cake as far as award-winning arlington place dramatic performances go.

in the dead of last night, from 12:02 a.m. to 12:37 a.m. and then again briefly from 1:13 a.m. to 1:19, a girl stood wailing in the street, screaming for scott, the boy that broke her heart, who either lived in my building or whose doorstep was close enough to benefit from the exceptional amplification powers of our courtyard.

acoustics that made it sound as though the woman scott had abandoned was now hovering over my bed, keening, in quite possibly the most visceral pain i have ever heard another human being be in.

i should be clear- we are not talking stanley kowalski. this was not STELLA! that was comparatively short. a shout in the night. it was something altogether else. you know kurt cobain's howl in the final 10 seconds of "where did you sleep last night"? imagine that- only it's a woman and it's dragged out over a collective 41 minutes and the lyrics are now i love you... you make me want to die.

maybe she was hammered. or in the midst of a psychotic break. because when we are in our right mind, no matter how much it hurts, we have our limits. we write poems/kiss our best friend/drink zima/watch dr. quinn. we have the mental and emotional wherewithal to step back from the brink and realize that, tempting as it may be, threatening suicide in the middle of a street in the middle of a sunday night may not be the way to win him back.

i'm rather ashamed to admit that while all this was going on, i did nothing. even the neighbor- after an especially shattering scream and the subsequent sound of a body making contact with a parked car- could be heard tiptoeing downstairs to make sure no one had died. but i remained in bed. partly because i could hear the voice of a sober, quieter friend chime in from time to time. and partly because i couldn't fathom coming face-to-face with someone in so much unleashed pain.

because as you move away from one relationship and into another, you kind of forget how badly breakups suck. you have to, otherwise no one would have another relationship ever again. these days, whenever someone is going through that, my less than honorable instinct is to recoil, to pull back. as though being in the vicinity of those emotions might somehow make them spill onto me. might remind me how big a risk we run every time we let someone in and set me roaming the streets, wailing grief for i know not what.

the thing that got me last night and haunted me all today is this: through the whole 41 minutes- in which the torment of this person i do not know was almost too much for me to bear- scott said nothing. maybe scott wasn't home. maybe scott had made a vow never to talk to her again. maybe she had given him a reason to ignore her. maybe she was at the wrong building.

or maybe scott was curled up in bed like me, paralyzed by the harrowing pain being unloosed on our sidewalk.

regardless, he said nothing.

she screamed into silence. she dropped her glove in the snow outside the gate she shook repeatedly. she went balls out crazy person on a night the wind-chill was 12 below.

scary, yes. crazy, probably. but seriously. how fucking romantic.

10 December 2008

0 this raises the tremendous existential question


is it better to be jailed for a blogo-style corruption spree or a brawl at the waffle house à la kid rock?

08 December 2008

0 caroline, yes


despite the fact that i am not from new york, do not live in new york, and do not particularly love new york, it matters very greatly to me that caroline kennedy become the senator from new york.

i was trying to explain this to OK last night. how the election of barack obama was great and all and a huge step for racial reconciliation and hypo-allergenic dogs, but this was different. this was cataclysmic.

if caroline kennedy were put in a senate seat, we would officially have attained heaven on earth.

there are some obvious reasons for my enthusiasm here.

we share a name. generally, i root for all carolines and this would be big win for the team.

a huge fan of socialist monarchy, i also harbor a fervent belief that, put simply, this is the kennedy family seat. rfk carpetbagged his way into it. jfk, jr. was going to snag it if hillary hadn't run and he hadn't died. it seems somehow fitting that it fall into caroline's lap now.

and it seems somehow fitting that this outlandishly intelligent woman whose political role, until this past summer, has been confined to being the family delegate at state funerals of dead presidents, should finally- please, God!- leap into the fray.

05 December 2008

1 putting the piano down


i'm a big fan of euthanasia. i should qualify that. it does not mean i am consistently hovering over hospital beds with cyanide-laced bryer's slow churned. just that when something is clearly going to die, i think, in most instances, (particularly with important things like pets and fashions) it is inhumane not to make that process a teeny bit easier. to turn off the machines. to stop the pain.

in 1963, my grandfather paid $149.50 for what has become Our Family Piano. it's an old upright. a reformed player whose most notable characteristic is that every third key is chipped from the day that a now-legendary naughty neighbor boy came over and attacked our ivories with a drum stick. as in an actual drum stick- not a fried chicken leg.

so this is how i learned to play. measuring the distance and feel of the notes by the jagged razor at the end of every third key. foreign pianos always seemed so strange. pianos with all their pieces that hadn't withstood the inexplicable aggression of passing naughty 1960s youths.

there was a time when i played this old beat up thing every day. for hours. back in the days before books and boyfriends and dr. quinn, when all my love and excitement could be funneled, unadulterated, into an upright and a dog.

i swore i would be faithful. that i would never abandon what i, with horrid pretension, called "my gift."

(in addition to being in favor of assisted death, i also believe teachers should never encourage children in anything vaguely artistic. it only results in the entertainment of lofty impossibilities and belatedly mortifying pompousness.)

as a kid, i used to harangue my mother- often a mere beat after the final note of tchaikovsky in her bi-annual run-through of sleeping beauty for beginners- about how she never played the piano any more and how i was different and music was such a huge part of my life that when i grew up, you wouldn't see me not playing a piano for months and months.

i am grown up.

i have not played the piano in years and years.

that's not entirely true, but it's pretty damn close.

last weekend, in what i am certain was sheer torture to my parents, i played for the first time since july. for two hours, i slogged through the same six-page sonatina over and over again to little avail. by dinner, my father had choreographed an appropriately halting and jerky interpretive dance. trust me, it is nothing like riding a bike.

people always say you'll never look as good as you do in your twenties. no one ever said i'd never play as well as i did at seventeen.

speaking of euthanasia...

the piano- our piano, my piano- has fallen apart. it is dying. the keys are loose, the pedals are floppy, and the sound is akin to a kazoo swallowed by a whale with its head stuck in a bucket. it has been tuned once in seven years. this is no way to live.

but how does a piano die?

instruments seem immortal. you see that violin from 1222 sold by sotheby's for millions and you never stop to think of all the violins of its graduating class that gave their lives along the way.

for years, i've fantasized a lovely reunion scene where Our Family Piano comes pulling up to my house and is plopped in the bay window of the music room and i play all the live long day, the four collies curled around the bench.

there are many impossibilities in that sentence, the greatest being that piano living to see the day that i could afford a home.

the piano has to die, but you can’t put a piano down. i've killed a sofa. i've cut up dresses into shirts. i am capable of creative thought, but here, i am stumped. i just can't.

it requires a hardness of the soul that i do not possess.

at least i didn't think i did, until croftie and i went to macy's and, thanks to our current financial crisis- which is apparently not conducive to the buying of huge, overpriced musical instruments- the basement was stuffed with pianos. one was an ivory baby grand.

love at first sight.

now i am haunted by the thought i'll be saddled with this damn Family Piano for years and years and years. that i will never have something prettier because it will never let go. it will never die. my soul has completely, utterly hardened. but then maybe this is what growing up is. toughening up. letting go.

when Our Family Piano was last tuned, way back in 2002, my mum inquired about its fate. whether it should be internally overhauled. whether there was any hope.

the piano man, whom i always took for a romantic because he would whip out a viennese waltz at a moment's notice, reached out, ran a ginger glissando up those battered, broken keys i love and said this, when you get right down to it, i know ya love it, but let's be realistic here, it's just noise in a box.

he said that and my jaw hit the floor. but now i can’t help but think he might’ve been right. maybe it is just noise in a box. and maybe you can put a piano down.

03 December 2008

4 it's official


between the release of the new britney and monday night's preview for next week's gossip girl, in which bart bass is clearly going to die and lily slaps chuck for reasons we do not yet know, there is not enough day for all the copy room conversations that need to be had.