Saturday, October 31, 2009


Everyone's got their own Halloween costume style. For instance, Bryan always uses a whole roll of aluminum foil in his costume. Hank and Katherine's costumes are generally awesome because they rent them. Genevieve is the sexy version of the thing she's dressed up as. Jane is the cute version of the thing she's dressed up as. Catherine Meeks is usually the Morton Salt girl. I'm usually myself but with some cotton batting on my head (I'm a cloud) or dressed up as an overweight man in khakis (I'm a Promise Keeper).

Halloween has always sort of disappointed me. I think it started in 1986, when I began thinking about my Halloween costume in July, after watching The Neverending Story at summer camp. You know what the scariest thing about the Neverending Story is? No, not the wolf with too many teeth, or the Nothing, or the Swamps of Sadness. The scariest thing in the whole movie is the Childlike Empress:

Isn't she terrifying? She's even scarier in live action:

You okay? Take as long as you need.

Anyway, that year, I decided I was going to be the Childlike Empress for Halloween because she was the very scariest thing I could think of. So, I started trying to get my dad to help me put together my costume, but he didn't take it very seriously. He kept saying "So, let me get this straight--you want to be a ghost?" NO! I want to be a creepy child queen with a pearl diadem and a lot of eye makeup and frosted lip glooooooooooss!

My dad talked to my mom, who was living across the country at the time. I don't know what they talked about, but she sent me a card about a week before Halloween that had a blue Care Bear on the front, and inside she had drawn a picture of a "fashionable ghost" with flowery parachute pants and lots of jewelry and makeup on. I saw that picture, and I knew all was lost. I went to school on Halloween with a sheet over my head with 2 holes cut out for eyes. That's what you get when you're a 3rd grade girl living with your dad.

So, ever since that Halloween, I have known that your Halloween costume simply can't be what you imagine it. And what's the point of wearing a costume if it can't be awesome in the way you think it should be?

But in case you were interested, Odessa is going to be Bob's Big Boy.

I swear I'll try to understand and facilitate her exact Halloween Vision when she tries to explain it to me when she's 8. But until then: hahahahahahaahah! HA!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My poor father

Today I went to Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. I haven't been there since I went with my dad in April of 1991, which I remember because it was there that I got my first period. Sorry to any dudes who are reading this, but them's the facts. You can't be any more mortified reading this than my dad was trying to help me figure out what sort of provisions I was going to need for my long journey into womanhood. At first he enlisted the help of a woman he knew who was selling cornhusk dolls at the festival we were attending (because that's normally the reason you go to Calloway Gardens--that place is Festival Central), but right before she was about to take me to the pharmacy, her son got a concussion because he jumped off his bicycle as he was riding down a hill or some crap that only a boy would do. So she took him to the hospital and my dad took me to the Big Star, where he bought me one of every single feminine product they had, including a tiny bottle of KY Jelly. I remember this because, back in the hotel room, after carefully reading all the instructions in the packages of assorted tampons, sanitary napkins, liners and incontinence diapers for the aged and infirm, I sat there for a long time looking at the little bottle of lubricant like it was the left over piece in the Ikea cabinet I had just assembled.

The poor man also took me to JC Penny's to buy my first miniscule little bra after the first day of 6th grade, but I'll spare you that harrowing tale. I think I've blocked most of it out anyway.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ants and Grasshoppers

I value diplomacy in a person. My husband is very diplomatic, but also honest. This is a difficult balance to strike, because sometimes there really isn't anything nice to say, so he has to say the nicest thing possible. For instance, when he called me Old Thunder Sides while I was pregnant, I knew that comparing me to a WWII battleship was the kindest epithet I could expect because it came from Bryan, who loves me but whose instinct is to call'em like he sees'em. Needless to say, I have a thicker skin now than I did before we met.

"You have something of the Grasshopper about you," he says today when I ask him if he would be able to tell that my parents were divorced if he had just met me. (To Bryan, there are Grasshoppers and there are Ants. Ants are industrious and square. Grasshoppers are lazy freeloaders who can play the fiddle.)

"What does that have to do with my parents being divorced?" I ask, looking at him in a way that makes him nervous because I am prone to violent attacks.

"Grasshoppers don't expect consistency."

I name somebody.

Bryan: "He's a Grasshopper who is overcompensating by trying very hard to be an ant."

I look at him: "Honey, what kind of animal do you think I'd be if I was an animal?"

He makes a face. "You mean right now? A barnacle? I mean a beautiful coral?"

I grab an hunk of skin from around his ribs and he shrieks, "I mean a beautiful fairy who hangs around a coral reef!" I let go.

A couple of seconds go by, and then he says, very matter of fact: "Now that I've buttered you up, I'm going to be needing some dollars. For my coffee tomorrow morning."

"Who's the Grasshopper now? You're not even the product of a broken home!"

"You're right, my darling," he says. "Absolutely right."

He really is a treasure.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Linens n' Things

I went to Ikea (or as my Swedish relatives have it, "ee-KAY-ah") this weekend and bought a duvet cover. Previously, I have made duvet covers with my sewing machine and the sweat of my brow, but no more. Fifteen bucks, ladies and gentleman, and a mid-quality duvet cover of European styling can be yours, courtesy of Scandinavian ingenuity and some rather clever trade agreements with the Chinese.

So, now I'm lying in bed with the computer, writing this blog post with my new duvet cover, and it's heavenly. Below, you will see that I have created a diagram of my Universe in the style of the Medieval astronomers:

Well, maybe not exactly in the style of the Medieval astronomers (their maps didn't generally look so much like a compact disk), but you see what I mean. I have always said that the bed is the center of the Universe, and it's a pity I can't spend more time with it.

And it seems as though making this diagram has drained all the juice out of my computer. Well, drawing the diagram and playing my turn in approximately twelve games of Facebook Scrabble. And nothing is sweeter and less energy efficient than playing Facebook Scrabble in the comfort of my comfy bed.

4% battery left! It's pinging at me! Gotta go!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sentimental Feelings

Today a few things happened.
(PS. I want you all to know that I actually do hum the theme from Doogie Howser MD as I write these posts. Before I had a blog, I wondered if I would. And I do.)
So, today a few things happened.

One. Odessa was whisked away by her grandparents to Rockdale County, which is either 8 or 9 counties away from me, depending on how you do your county counting.

Two. I threw away all my breast milk that had expired. More on this later.

Three. I indulged in a leisurely visit with my dear friends, a. Vicki, who is dear because she, like my mom, would cheer me on even in the event that I was knife fighting Jimmy Carter and the Dali Lama AT THE SAME TIME, b. Rob, who is dear because he starts conversations like this: "Jesslyn, when you were little, did you like Christmas?" and c. Finnegan, who is dear because he is an adorable and charismatic baby (that's him in this post's photo disguised as an elephant. I can tell you're perplexed, but trust me on this one: that's Finnegan in his Halloween costume, and not an actual elephant.)

So, I took this day to consider being alone, because with the exception of a couple of hours here and there, I was by myself for a lot of the day. To some of you, this might be a completely normal thing, but to me, who is someone's mother and somebody else's wife, and yet some other people's employee/ friend/daughter/consultant/etc, I am very rarely out of earshot of another person. This is actually okay with me. However, being alone gives you a little time to think. And today I thought about how different my life is now than it used to be.

Of course people tell you that when you're pregnant: "You better enjoy this because your life is never going to be the same ever again." So naturally I thought having a baby would be sort of like getting a colostomy bag. Well, thankfully, it's not at all like getting a colostomy bag, but they were right in some ways. For instance, last October, I never would have spent an afternoon throwing away plastic baggies full of expired breast milk.

FYI. When Odessa was a newborn, my family called me the Dairy Queen, because I had a milk supply that could probably have fed twin rhinoceros cubs. Since March, our freezer has been so crammed full of little Ziplocs of milk that there was no place for the Fudgecicles and those frozen burritos that I eat for breakfast every day. So, today I filled up a giant garbage bag and took it to the curb. It made me feel kind of sad, throwing away all that milk. Kind of like I was throwing away evidence that Odessa was ever a little grubby blueberry who pooped crude oil and needed to nurse every 7.5 minutes. Odessa's getting to be such a big girl now--spending the day in Rockdale County without me, living long enough for a garbage bag full of breast milk to expire.... So tonight when she came home from Rockdale County, I gave her an extra long snuggle and sang "Moon River" all the way through twice. Because it's nice to spend a day alone, but it's doubly nice when you get your people back at the end.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I'm reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows right now, so I can't talk long.

Seriously, why? Why are those books so absorbing? When I was 18, I quit eating desserts for an entire year and a half. No sugary anything at all--my birthday cake was a sugar-free banana bread. Anyway, towards the end of the year and a half (actually, AT the end of the year and a half, as you shall see), I was waitressing at an Italian restaurant, and someone ordered a brownie sundae, but when I brought it out to them, they were rushing out saying they had to go and had left the money on the table. They were last table of the night, and what was I going to do with this ice cream? So I sat down and ate it, and there aren't even any English words for how good it was. Maybe the Eskimos have a word for brownie-sundae-after-not-having-eaten-sugar-in-a-year-and-a-half good, but us gringos don't have one.

And that's what Harry Potter is like. It's not good for you--it's just good in a way that makes your heart feel like it's wearing a little fleece jacket.

Also: J.K Rowling always has this brazenly smug look on her face (Exhibit A, above). I wonder if it's just her photo face, or she's made that face so much in her life that it stuck that way. Or maybe she makes it because the alternative is that she looks like a kind of harried normal British lady (See Exhibit B).
Exhibit B

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Virginia's House

I spent this afternoon at my grandmother's house looking for a rotary phone. Never mind why I need a rotary phone--I didn't find one, not because there wasn't one there, but because I was looking in Virginia's house, where the tenets of String Theory apply more perceptibly and dependably than they do anywhere else in the Universe. I'm serious--they should send physicists out there to study her closets. If you know any physicists, I'm happy to give them her address.

When I got to Virginia's house, there was a fancy Volvo sitting in her driveway, which ended up belonging to a lady from the board of the public library who was interviewing her about the olden days. Virginia is 91 and has lived in this town since 1945 or something, so people are all the time coming by to ask her about the days when Highway 129 was a dirt track and she kept a cow in the well house and milked it every morning before sun-up.

As I was saying, I wanted a rotary phone, which I had called in advance to ask her about, and she said "yes, there are two in a plastic bag on the top shelf of my closet," which I took to be a good sign, but not conclusive. Virginia is sharp, but she is also inscrutable like the sphinx; I have known her for 31 years and have learned to get my hopes up about exactly nothing. The reason for this is twofold: 1. her house is a wormhole, and 2. she is inscrutable like a sphinx. And here we start with the circular reasoning. Let me stop there and let the remainder of my story serve as an example:

I got to her house and Virginia was having a great time because the lady from the library was recording everything she said, which she took to be her cue to talk about black people: pros and cons. Then Virginia repeated her allegation that there were two rotary phones on the shelf in her closet, and then she began to describe the phones and what color the plastic bag was, etc. And while the library lady chronicled all of this, I felt the probability of my finding the phones drain out of the room with something like a low sucking noise. It's just something I have a feeling for. And sure enough, when I got to the closet, I found the entire thing to be jammed to the top shelf with antique bedding in Hefty bags. On the top shelf, I found the pelt of a small fox, some sort of firearm, a garment bag full of table cloths and a tape recorder.

I spent the rest of the hour looking for the phones, but they are somewhere else now. I hope the people in whatever parallel universe they've ended up in can find a use for them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In the Spirit of Cheese

For our anniversary, Bryan gave me a beautiful golden battle axe on a chain. It is lovely and looks like it was made by wee druids. It also has some grape looking things on it. Hmmm...I think I might just post a picture. Because what I really want to talk to you about tonight is cheese.

I am a person who can be relied upon to like certain things and dislike certain other things. I like to believe that it's comforting to everyone to know that Jesslyn genuinely believes in astrology and hates carrots. (Well, for a very long time I hated carrots. And then I got pregnant and all I wanted to eat for 7 square meals a day was carrots. So that's blown now. But I used to be like an old timey prohibitionist lady when it came to carrots.) I can also be relied upon to like Alan Rickman and dislike alcoholic beverages, except when incorporated into a dessert or pasta sauce. And I adore cheeses. My love for cheese is the mighty rock that you can tie your little craft to in the high seas during a storm.

Tonight, as we sat in the fancy restaurant that you go to when you're on a date with your husband for your anniversary, flanked by 2 obviously rich ladies who had just been to Paris and two men (one of whom had a lightning bolt tattooed on his face) who were securing some kind of business transaction, Bryan and I quietly indulged in some olives and cheeses. Bryan is the perfect person to share a cheese sampler with because he secretly doesn't care for cheeses, and I'm the person to share an olive sampler with because I secretly don't care too much about olives. But Bryan would tightrope walk across a baby pool full of crocodiles and venomous jellyfish to get at a barrel of assorted Greek olives with weird spicy things floating around amongst them. And I would trade my home for walk in cooler full of assorted aged cheeses. I think Bryan, Odessa, Ruby, Robin, Zucchini and I could be very comfortable in a nice walk in cooler, so long as we had cozy sweaters.

Anyway, I thought I was going to talk about cheese, but it's 11:26, and I'm too sleepy to muster up the energy required to do justice to the brave Pecorino, the soft, temperate Coulommiers, and her majesty, the 4 year old aged Gouda with the little crunchy crystals in embedded within. However, know that this blog post was written in the spirit of cheese, for the benefit of cheeses everywhere.

And with that, bonsoir.

Monday, October 19, 2009


You'll be wanting to know about the photo.

This, dear readers, is evidence. I found it a couple of years ago in a box of old photos, and immediately hollered "Bryyyyyyyyyyyyyy-an! OhmyGodcome'ere!" Because this is proof that Bryan was at my 24th birthday party.

I'm not sure who took this photo, but for some reason he or she thought it necessary to capture this moment. Bryan is the guy on the right with long hair and clothes that are swallowing him alive, and who seems to looking askance at my ensemble. I am the one who looks as if she has decided, "Screw-em! It's my birthday and I feel like wearing a polyester plaid pant matched with a tutu and a shirt made by someone in Home Economics in 1978, which I scored out of a bag of scrap fabric at the flea market." I also seem to be eating something which I am sucking out of my teeth while staring wistfully into the middle distance.

I didn't know My Sweet Bryan in January, 2002, so this is very likely the first photograph ever taken of us together. He was at my birthday party because he and Jane, whose birthday party it also was, were friends. When Bryan saw the photo, he said, "Yeah, I remember I had to leave that party early to drive to Atlanta in time for the monster truck rally at the Georgia Dome." He doesn't remember noticing me or my rather conspicuous outfit. I think I remember him because at some point he stood up and said, "Ok--well, I gotta go to the monster truck rally now." Isn't it funny how you can see someone at a party and have no idea you're going to get married to that person in 5 years?

And get married we did, 2 years ago tomorrow. And it's the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of the Universe, including the invention of nachos and the small pox vaccine, as well as the discovery of carbonated water. Plus, that man is the reason for this:
(I know. The other day a six year old asked me if she was an earthling. I had to say I didn't know, because she's way prettier than both her parents put together, so something doesn't add up.)

This is all to say, there is not a happier woman on the planet than I.

Happy Bananaversary, Tenderness.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

General Crap

Almost a year ago, Bryan and I bought a house that was too small for our stuff. We decided we needed to move out of our elderly and palatial duplex apartment, which had one bedroom, into a cramped and rather dumpy two bedroom house because we needed more space for Odessa, who was but an adolescent possum-sized lump in my abdomen at the time.

For a while after we moved into this house, it was a maze of stuff canyons like you would find in Utah, only less scenic and of less interest to geologists. If you walked in the front door, you were glowered over by boxes of books teetering on all sides. Pieces of furniture I once considered elegant and understated became monstrous and terrible to behold.

Now, about 7 trips to the Goodwill and the installation of a back yard shed later, we've wrangled it under control. But there remain some rather complicated items that are harder to know what to do with. One of them is a battered faux mahogany desk which was willed to me by my great aunt Attaway, whom I don't remember meeting in person. Another is a Beseler photo enlarger from 1956 that I'm sure someone in the world who isn't me would want. Another is an IBM Selectric II Correcting typewriter in a lovely pomegranate red that Bryan has a somewhat passionate attachment to. Yet another is a painting I don't want to talk about. And then there is the backpacking guitar that I keep lending to people who are going to places like Uganda and Vietnam, and which keeps finding its way back to me somehow. I'm considering drowning the guitar unless someone stays my hand.

Also, it would be nice to be shed of Zucchini, my 11-year-old cat, but we've got to keep her because she is the price of my 21-year-old folly. For the record, I am not, and have never considered actually drowning Zucchini, although I may have spoken of it in jest.

Anyway, it is Sunday night, and I want to go to bed, and all this stuff is staring at me rather balefully.

Anybody want a photo enlarger? Anyone?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jessica Sterling's Guide to Style

I'm never going shopping again without Jessica Sterling. I know: we will get old and perhaps Jessica Sterling will die or move away or become the President of the United States, and therefore have very little time to spend helping me pick out a sweater with a suitable synthetic to natural fiber content ratio. In any event, if Jessica Sterling forsakes me, I'll just have to rely on my mother to pick things out for me at Christmas. I'll wear my bathrobe and will most likely have an assortment of floral corduroy jumpers to look forward to.

I haven't been shopping for clothes--I mean real clothes that aren't sweatpants or easy-access nursing tops--since I got pregnant with Odessa 17 months ago. These days I mostly wear:
1. A red hooded sweatshirt that belonged to the grandfather of my friend Erica's high school boyfriend. The original owner of the sweatshirt has been dead for at least ten years. Probably more.
2. One of about 10 pairs of yoga pants I have been stockpiling in the event that they (quite rationally) quit making yoga pants for women who shouldn't be wearing them in public.
3. A pair of Bryan's old running shoes. Yes, Bryan and I wear the same size shoe.
Everything else I wear is irrevocably stained with baby puke, or is all stretched out because I misguidedly wore it while I was 8 months pregnant, or is actually retrofitted maternity wear. I realize I sound like a depressed woman in the movies who eats a lot of ice cream and doesn't wear as much make up as she has in previous scenes in the movie, and definitely not as much make up as she will in the final scene of the movie. I can't do anything about this.

But today, Jessica Sterling and I went shopping for clothes. (Jessica Sterling has one of those names I can't shorten in my head, so I won't do it here.) Clothes shopping with Jessica Sterling is like shopping with your own personal Tim Gunn. She says things like "That blazer looks great on you because it masks your belly flab while accentuating your shoulders," and "That print is hideous. Put it down." I'm a big advocate of tough love.

Jessica Sterling also attracts magical savings coupons and somehow always finds a way to make the thing you want cheaper. And she's like your mom (well, not like my mom, but maybe like yours) in that she takes finding your size in something very seriously, and is willing to put things back on hangers as you try things on and discard them.

So, thank you Jessica Sterling. Thank you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interesting enough for Terry Gross

My All Time Number One Top Fantasy of All Time is to be interviewed by Terry Gross. It's hopelessly nerdy, but there it is.

I've already started, so I might as well continue: If ever I'm feeling particularly proud of something I've done, I pretend to myself that Terry Gross is interviewing me about it on Fresh Air, and it's one of those interviews you can tell she's super excited about. She starts by asking me about my childhood and how I made my big break, and then she starts getting kind of worldview-y like she does. And then she asks me a really great question, but as soon as I start to answer, she asks me a really urgent follow up question--cuts me off to ask it, actually (which is how you know Terry Gross either really interested or her guest has just said something possibly anti-Semitic)--and then I answer the follow up question in a way that takes Terry Gross off guard, and Terry Gross goes "Wow." And then there is silence.

The only thing that can make Terry Gross be quiet is when somebody says something about the world she didn't expect--that nobody expected, maybe even the interviewee. Listening to Fresh Air, I often think, "famous people really are as interesting and profound as non-famous people imagine they are."

But then it occurs to me that Terry Gross could grab someone off the street--anyone--and ask them the right questions, and that person would tell us all something we didn't expect, something they didn't expect. The guests on Fresh Air just happen to be very self confident and famous and Terry Gross wants to interview them.

So, this is all to say (please repeat after me--yes, I'm talking to you): I believe there is something deep inside me that's interesting enough to tell Terry Gross. If you don't currently have a self validating mantra, you can borrow that one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


My dear friend Kerry just sent me the following mid-friendship evaluation:

Please answer the following questions as honestly as possible:
1. What have been the strengths of Kerry and Jesslyn's friendship so far?
2. What have been the weaknesses of this friendship so far?
3. What part of the friendship has been most interesting/least interesting/most helpful/least helpful?
4. Do you have any further comments or suggestions?

Now, that's classy.

Kerry gets glowing friend reviews because she thinks up delicate, friendly little compliments like this.

I love to evaluate things because that's the kind of girl I am. I like when I go into a restaurant or crematory and there's a little box that says "TELL US HOW WE'RE DOING!" I also really like it when I'm driving on the interstate and there's a tractor trailer truck with a diamond-shaped sticker on the rear door that says "HOW'S MY DRIVING? 1-800-555-5555" It's times like this that I turn to Bryan and say "Now, that's a good trucker. I'm totally not calling that trucker in." Or "That crematory is totally not partially incinerating my Grampa's corpse and then hauling the rest of it out into the woods to rot."

I believe in the necessity and the wisdom in a good evaluation. I believe that if someone truly believes "Jesslyn has hit rock bottom and has begun to dig," that we need to talk, because there must be some kind of misunderstanding.

I bring all this up because about seven months ago, I got an email from a long-time friend. This email was waiting in my in box when I got home from the hospital, having just birthed Odessa. This friend lived about and hour and a half away from me at the time, and had kindly picked up her quill/keyboard to say:

Dear Jesslyn,
Because of X, Y and Z, we can no longer be friends. Good luck with your new baby! I know you'll be great!
Love, Your Ex-Friend

So, I'm going to give you a hint: "Y" was that I forgot her birthday, which certainly is a glaring offense, but not so glaring as "X" and "Z," which were slightly more unfortunate. However, in my defense, they were sins of omission rather than sins of commission. It was my bad--it's true. But the problem is that, had there been an evaluation process, I wouldn't currently be beginning stories like this:
"One time this thing happened to a friend of mine.... Well, and ex-friend, actually. Anyway, it happened to someone I know...." Nothing flattens a story like "Guess what happened to an ex-friend of mine." People think you're some kind of monster and don't listen to your riveting tale.

Anyway, my point is that if all of us sent each other evaluations from time to time, we would know exactly what we needed to do to make each other happy. Feel free to send Kerry's evaluation form to your loved ones. She said it was okay.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Worky worky

Tomorrow I have to go to work. I haven't been at work for 4 days. When I was in 4th grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Carol who, the week after each school vacation, called me Spiderweb Brain. I feel like a Spiderweb Brain, and I don't feel like going back to work ever again ever. It's not because I don't like my job, it's because I like vacation more than anything in the world except some people I really like a lot. And in order to have a vacation, one must, a. have a job, or b. go to school. So I think I've just convinced myself not to be so sad about going to work tomorrow. Ta da!

I am a magician.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Horror

I'm not someone who enjoys being horrified. Some people like it, and so they go see horror movies. I saw a horror movie once, and I can no longer meet identical twins without nearly peeing myself. I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when I was seven, and I had nightmares until I was 15. (Yes, I consider Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be in the horror genera. Laugh if you must.)

So, I went to the movies today with Hank and Katherine. We saw The Hangover at the dollar theater because it is monsoon season here in Georgia and the internet at our house has been napping. (Seriously. I'm all "Ok, Internet, FIRE THE MISSILES!" And the Internet's like "But I'm le tired." It's pitiful.) Anyway, the movie was funny, but I would have died twice if my mom had been there. No joke--it featured no fewer than 3 discrete penises, and I left the theater once to pee, so I might have missed a couple of them. But really, what I wanted to bring up is the previews. Something must be done about the previews.

I've only seen one feature-length horror movie, but I've seen a couple more horror movie trailers. You want to know what they were? Ok, I'll tell you, because each one of them is seared into my brain. In no particular order: The Others, The Ring, and The Strangers. (Aside: why do all the really scary movies have names beginning with the definite article? The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Haunting, The Shining, The Blair Witch Project. Maybe things are scarier if it seems like there is just one of them...). The preview for The Strangers scared me so bad that two full weeks after I saw it, I found myself in a situation in which I was pleading with Bryan not to leave the house after nightfall because I was sure there were people with paper bags over their heads lurking next to the refrigerator.

Anyway, today we went to the movies to see a comedy and ended up seeing previews for Sorority Row and The Orphan. WHY? Whyyyyyyyy? I don't think I had ever gone to see a movie and been made to watch a horror movie preview before. Sure, if you're going to see a horror movie, go ahead and roll'em. I don't give a care. But they seriously stress me out. They all start with some nice music and laughing children, and they end with a little girl eating the liver out of her adopted father....

Or so I imagine. My eyes were closed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Sunday

I just asked Hank what I should write about and he gave me a list. He's a professional, so I should listen to him.
Hank's suggestions:
  • Pooping
  • Farming
  • Several other gerunds I forget
  • Burritos
  • Eloping in Las Vegas on Halloween
  • Dog Bones
  • Aging
  • Napping Bunnies
Hmm. I'm going to have to visit this list later because I'm drawing a stone cold blank.

I like it when Hank and Katherine visit because they enjoy things like going to the DeKalb Farmers Market: a place primarily run by African refugees, a place where if you try to get Mohamed's attention by calling his name, 7 people turn around, a place that smells like oysters that have been sitting on a cement floor overnight in a puddle of salsa. H & K don't mind going to Target for toilet paper, diapers and the ingredients for banana splits. They like to take Ruby for walks and don't judge me when I throw her poops away in a neighbor's trash can.
Right now Hank, Bryan and Katherine are watching an (evidently hilarious) You Tube video of Darth Vader acting like a little kid who just got dental work done. They also think our cats are marvelous.

Hank and Katherine are visiting. I don't have to go back to work until Wednesday. I mentioned poops in this blog post. Success!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm usually a pretty positive person

But I've had the worst week ever. Like Martin Luther King weekend, 1998 worst. Case in point: I just now wrote the most touching and insightful blog post probably ever written by anyone, ever. And I mashed "post." And then the internet turned off and I lost it. That's just like this week.

It's been one of those weeks that's kind of like a mean bully kid in the lunch line in 2nd grade, and he keeps throwing thumb tacks at you that he harvested off the bulletin board in the hallway, and every day it's like you get a couple of tacks in the back of your neck, and it hurts, but you know it's for just a few minutes a day. And then on Friday, you're standing there daydreaming in the lunch line because that kid had to use the bathroom, so he's not behind you, and you're feeling good because you just made an 85 on your spelling test and it's Friday and you're going to go home and watch Scooby Doo reruns with your sister. And then you get hit by a basketball, like really hard. So you lie on the floor and moan a little and wish someone would turn that light out. September of 1985, Alps Road Elementary.

That's the kind of week I've had. Our house didn't burn down and I didn't break my leg in yoga, and nobody got shot in the face with bird shot, but it was a bunch of little thumbtacks and one big, crappy basketball.

And maybe another time I'll tell you what happened MLK JR Day, 1998. That really was the worst.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blame Photoshop

This is a real life Ralph Lauren ad. I'ma give you a minute.

I know; it's a little hard to process. I saw this today and sat at the computer for a couple seconds thinking, "Wait, so, what---? I mean, uhm.... Well, maybe they're... But look at the--!"

This photo was so weird that there's really only one explanation for it. Well, two explanations:
1. This was generated by a person who lives in a monastery and has never seen a woman before (much like the 15th century Russian monks who drew Little Baby Jesus looking like a weird, skinny little man because there weren't a lot of little babies in 15th c. Russian monasteries).
2. This was generated by a person who had been sitting in front of a computer at 2:30 in the morning, futzing around with a picture for much longer than was necessary, vacillating between Mello Yello and Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos for sustanence. And he clearly didn't look at the original photo before he sent this off...but to whom? Who saw this and said "Gorgeous! Print it!" How did this end up in a magazine? I've eaten with a fork that had more realistic human proportions.

A screw up like this makes me aware of all those people who spend their days at desks, tinkering with images of other people. Their problem makes sense to me: when I've Photoshopped my own pictures, by the end of an hour I can't really tell if they even look normal anymore ("Is my daughter green? I can't remember...."). The poor Photoshoppers have to do it for 8 hours every day. But then again, I can't have too much sympathy for them because PHOTOSHOP IS THEIR JOB, and in order for something to be your job, you kind of have to be good at it. I imagine the guy who "touched up" this photo was completely competent, only he probably took a cigarette break about 15 minutes in, but ended up watching a David Lynch film which took a couple hours, and then was pushing deadline, so he just finished it up in a hurry. By the end he was like, "waist that could be spanned by a cat collar: check. Octopus arms: check. Easter Island head: check! I think we're done here! Good work!

Okay, a week later, and I just saw this:

Ralph Lauren is officially EFFing with me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Water Closet

I'm reading a book right now called Possession by A.S. Byatt. It's good--I've been meaning to read it for ages because several of my loved ones have recommended it over the years. It's name is actually "Possession: A Romance," which I think is a little bit silly because it's a "Romance" kind of like Jim Lehrer is an "Entertainer." Technically yes, many, many people watch The NewsHour on PBS every Sunday, and they enjoy it. But it's not entertaining, per sey. "Enriching" might be a better word. What I'm trying to say is that Possession is a "Romance" if you call endless talk about literary criticism romantic.

But enough about that.

What lead me to write about this is that last night I started thinking, "what is this book about? Because it's sure as sugar not very romantic." And as far as I can tell, Possession is really about Bathrooms. Every character's bathroom is described in the minutest detail. And Boy Howdy are there some fabulous bathrooms! My favorite is the bathroom in the castle with the mahogany toilet seat, hand carved and painted with woodland flowers--swoon! Anyway, once I discovered that the book should be called Possession: Some Bathrooms, I got really into it, because I love bathrooms.

I believe that in a bathroom, you glimpse the interior of a soul. Strong language, I know, but in my mind, taking a look around someone's loo is as telling as going through their garbage. What is their toothpaste management system? Do they clean their bathtub regularly? Close their shower curtain? Do they leave their toiletries out or squirrel them away in a drawer? Products can tell you a lot about how beautiful someone thinks they are vs. how beautiful they believe they may potentially become. A closed toilet seat means they might have pets.

So, thank you A.S. Byatt for validating my long-held belief that you get to know a person--really get to know them--through their bathroom. And as far as Romance is concerned, on a grey day in January, I begin to have romantic feelings about my bathtub, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On being a lady

I think I'm a pretty average sort of lady, into sort of average lady things. For instance, here are some of my interests:
  • Babies
  • Sparkling water
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • yoga
  • Long talks with other ladies
  • Butter cream frosting
  • Expensive haircuts
  • Being admired
Flaming lady.

However, because I'm a pretty average sort of lady, I am a perfect candidate for having my Ladyhood shoved up my nose to distract me while my purse is rifled though and $9 is extracted from my wallet. This is called a Romantic Comedy, and unfortunately, if you like Lady Stuff and you like movies, you end up seeing a lot of these. Romantic Comedies, unlike Lady-Targeted Period Pieces (which I'll get to in a minute), are basically a 112 minute advertisement for things like Diet Coke, The Gym, J. Crew, Makeup, and Hawaii. The point is partly to take your $9, but ALSO to take your self confidence (imagine your keys) and chuck it far, far out into a bluish, crystalline tropical sea. And then they smile at you and say, "Well shoot, Girl! That's going to be a bitch to get back. Luckily, we happen to know about some products that can help..."

The Lady-Targeted Period Piece is a little different, and not quite as lucrative, so they don't make quite so many of them. Basically, there's always a unbearably gorgeous man with a surprisingly updated haircut and eyes like a dairy cow's, wearing a top hat and breeches. He can't live without the heroine, etc etc, and you usually leave the movie feeling wistful, harboring a vague notion that Kiera Knightly is a complete hag.

Anyway, my point is this: I went to the movies this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised to find myself walking out of the theater feeling...well, really good. Like it was fine that I was wearing yoga pants and a button down shirt that fit me before I started lactating, but now, not so much. It made me feel kind, I think.

So, go see Whip It before Matthew McConaughey finds out women are feeling good about themselves and they shut the thing down.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cooking Fancy

My grandmother Virgina is 91 and loud, imperious, opinionated and completely awesome except when you want her to keep a secret, and then you're like "No she did NOT!" Oh yes. She did.

Virginia doesn't cook much anymore, but she used to when I was little. She's got these great big leathery hands like a frontierswoman, and when she prepares food, she uses Serious Cooking Implements like the old meat grinder her mother used to use back in like 1890, with which she creates her signature orange cranberry sauce. This is done by feeding whole cranberries and entire oranges (peels and all) into the grinder, which she cranks with her big, muscly hands until it comes out the end looking like Brontosaurus puke. If you ever go to her house on a holiday, please heed this warning: avoid the orange cranberry sauce. It will CUT you.

All this is to say, my people cook like cave people. Spaghetti tossed in butter, granulated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blackeyed peas and collard greens on New Years. Cornbread made with that kind of crunchy yellow cornmeal--no sugar. Tomato sandwiches in the summer; in the winter, tomato-based vegetable soup with hamburger meat floating around in it. Nothing fancy.

Which is why I have a natural and completely lunatic disdain for "fancy food." Does it take more than a half hour to prepare? Does it contain more than 5 ingredients? Does it require a Cuisinart? A flour sifter? An electric mixer? Well, I bet you cook all your pet's food too, own a pair of bamboo underpants and you probably bought a $90 Patagonia fleece for your 3 month old baby last week, DIDN'T YOU?

See? I just snapped. That was me snapping.

Anyway, I need to get over it. Because I wish I had a pair of bamboo underpants (have you felt that bamboo fabric? It's like the most delicate meringue...), and I actually think cooking your dog's food would probably be pretty cool if anyone other than crazy people did it. Plus, I would totally put my daughter in a $90 fleece if it was like $20. And I love to eat fancy food. I love it, but don't want to cook it.

So, tonight, I'm bucking my heritage, girding my loins and making Cremini mushroom and gorgonzola privilege dumplings. Also known as Ravioli. With a pasta maker: a Swiss watch next to Virginia's meat grinder. Wish me luck.

PS. Hank Green took this photo of Virginia with her cane. Google him! He's internet famous!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I now have a weblog

Well, I'll be. For some reason, I now have a weblog. I woke up this morning and didn't have a blog, and now I do. My best friend's 70 year old father has a blog, and now I have a blog. Blog.

It happened like this. This morning was Sunday, and I woke up and thought, "this is the kind of day it was when Gatsby got shot." I read The Great Gatsby this spring for the second time (or if you don't count high school, for the first time--or if you believe reading something in high school cancels out the adult reading of the book, the 0th time). One of the things I like about The Great Gatsby is that, like early Bruce Springsteen records, it provides mile markers for the summertime. For instance, I'll think to myself, say around the first of June, "this is a good night for a Gatsby party," or on a rainy day in midsummer, "this is a nice day for Gatsby and Daisy to meet," or in late August "this is the night Myrtle Wilson gets hit by Tom's big yellow convertible." This morning, I decided was the sort of day to find Gatsby floating face down in his swimming pool (kind of warm, but not confidently so, a bit overcast, but not the robust haze of August).
Anyway, I wanted to write that down, and so I decided to start a blog.
Other things happened today: Odessa was cranky and teething, an appointment was cancelled, I went downtown after the Georgia-LSU football game to smell the barf and look at the blond lady handcuffed by the police outside the UGA t-shirt store. I went to the library to get a bunch of Dr. Seuss books and paid the librarian $12 in late fees. I thought for about an hour on what to call this blog, and I decided to write down every one of my ideas and pick one at random. Not the best one, in retrospect, but better than "res ipsa loquiter."
Good Night.