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"Squat thrusts". "Burpees". Can't someone come up with a better name for this exercise that makes me think of three-stripe tube socks a la Jack Tripper and my hideous one-piece pull-on gym suit (navy "shorts", navy and white skinny-horizontal-striped "top"), whole-body "rising" nausea at the mere thought of crab soccer or steal the bacon and an all-around sense of impending doom, gloom, and unrelieved dread, not only for the duration of gym class itself but for the inevitable locker room sight of newly sprouted tits and retro-bush running amok thanks to tiny towels? Vietnam vets have nothing on these flashbacks.
Brent J. Kasper-Holtz, Ph.D., or, as his family knows him, "Billy J. Holman, age 7", has just held a microscope slide up to his mouth, told himself several knock-knock jokes, the last one involving the word "orange", and is now laughing like mad directly onto the slide. He quickly places it onto the platform of the sturdy old microscope that used to be his dad's years ago and peers through the lens, making adjustments to the focus with scientific precision. One of these Sunday afternoons, he is certain, he *will* discover that he can see an actual laugh in close-up.
A fast-talking lawyer just dictated the name of an entity that sounded rather German (I could make out "Deutsch" followed by a crowd of consonants that can best be described as having the same sound as a large man cramming a entire Bundt cake in his mouth while wearing oversized mittens), and paused as if he was contemplating spelling it, but then decided, nah, never mind. In cases like this, the client requires me to type the questioned word or term in all caps. I am half tempted to type "DOUCHEBUNDTCAKECOCK". But I fully need the money, so I shan't.
Gee, what a novelty. Yet another 40-ish chick in my Facebook acquaintance is announcing her"gluten intolerance". Another one who, thanks to the glut of online articles, has diagnosed herself with the tasty malaise du jour. Now she can revel in being part of a trendy commiserating community in which she finds validation in numbers and thus voluntarily support an ever-expanding food-stuff industry gleefully hellbent on pumping her and others like her full of gluten-free goodies that, I'm willing to bet, will, in several years, be determined to the cause of future malaise, and thus the savior will become the scapegoat.
I dreamt of it last night, the way I have in the past, but this time in even more glorious color and complete with the latest version of Smell-o-Vision or whatever it is in dreams that convinces you that you're actually experiencing the sense of smell. I was surrounded by homemade eggplant parmigiana, so much so that it was like a deep, plush sofa in which I was almost embedded, and any time I opened my mouth to sigh, as I often did out of sheer delight, a perfect mouthful found its way past my lips. I hated waking up.
Laura wishes everyone in the waiting room had overheard the diagnosis of "tennis elbow" that Dr. McKendrick has just relayed. As they leave the examination room, she purposely tells him she's relieved it was only "tennis embolism" just so he can say, "No, Laura, tennis ELBOW." She giggles and says, "Oh, that's right, TENNIS ELBOW", aiming the words like a dart at her target, a sporty-looking fellow absorbed in his Kindle. Nobody has ever mistaken "Lard-Ass Laura", who wouldn't know a tennis racquet from a spaghetti strainer, for an athlete, but she's sure she sees approval in the stranger's glance.
I'm sick of reading about writers whose characters "speak" to them, how stories didn't turn out the way they originally intended because somewhere along the way the voices of those they'd created started taking control, and the story rewrote itself. I roll my eyes so hard they threaten to lodge permanently backwards so that they peer forever at whatever gooey Turkish taffy or nougat lies behind all the nerves and whatnot. There's a reason I don't join writers' groups or workshops. My tongue would be perpetually bloody from biting it rather than shouting out, "For fuck's sake, get over yourselves!"
She will make a purse out of a pumpkin, she says, and call it a purskin, and she'll get rich and famous and because every socialite on the other side of the river will want one. Diana, I say, that's ridiculous, no one in the city wants a purse from a pumpkin, and even if they did, they could make it themselves by buying one, scooping it out like it's Hallowe'en, and maybe adding a pretty satiny lining for extra pizzaz. Satin, she says? She never thought of that! I should go in on this with her. So I do.
Little Baby Cocoa Cups is talking into her pretend cell phone made from a block of Velveeta. She had rejected the banana her mama had handed her to act as a prop phone, but she didn't quite understand the concept of a "receiver" and instead reached for the brick of white-trash cheese-food because it looked more like Mama's iPhone. I realize Li'l B will never know what a dial tone was and won't have the supreme pleasure of slamming down a receiver in the future when her boyfriend aggravates her and she wants to make a point. What a shame.
I do not ordinarily use the word "blessed" in any form, but today I am feeling extraordinarily THAT WORD, as friends from three different places have written to me asking if, next year, I will be visiting, so they can start getting excited about setting up their guests rooms for my stay. Even if the towns aren't the most classically "exciting", I still have somewhere to go that's delightful just because it's not New York. I am not one of those New Yorkers who thinks there's nothing good going on outside its boundaries. How hideously limiting would that be, right?
Rare moment in which I touch on "craft":
Personal non-fiction is shaking itself out and falling into place, not clacking like Dominos or Pachinko, but more like a fluffy blanket floating over a bed and wafting down onto still-warm sheets fresh from the laundromat. I'm reverting to fiction, using a smooth, cool, well-rounded stainless steel spoon to dip into the chocolate mousse-like mass of my brain-nook. I will not dwell on how or what to write, but just do so without bogging myself down in unnecessary worry about what will result. The only thing that's NOT okay is creating nothing.
Yesterday, more to my horror than my delight, I crammed a dozen medium cookies from the vegan lunch truck and a very large "cinnamon snail" (its eponymous signature sweet) into my maw, along with a generous serving of Korean barbecue seitan with kale inside/atop/ a large slab of grilled flatbread as a nod to adulthood. This morning I ran the fastest I have in quite a long time (at times sustaining a high of 7.6 MPH, which translates into 14 brags per minute). I can't decide if should be asking what's WRONG with this picture or what's RIGHT with it.
"The orange doesn't fall far from the apple tree," Hector says, flopping into the overstuffed chair in my office. He bites into an enormous plum and sucks the juice from his right thumb.
I kind of want him to say, "What a good boy am I!"
He wedges himself further into the chair, holding the plum up to his eye like a jeweler's loupe.
I kind of want him to say, "You're the apple of my eye!"
Also not said: "How d'ya like them apples?" and "I'm plum tired."
Our session may as well end now.
Mr. Potatohead's most shocked facial expression's got nothing on this guy Suzanne's placed on the cutting board she created in Wood Shop last marking period. The potato lies there like the frog she dissected in Biology the other day. "Russell Russet", she's addressed him, giggling, knowing that one day when she has her own baby she'll be the kind of mom who comes up with a great name. She smiles down at Russell Russet and tells him she's going to carve his eyes out right this minute and he'd better not protest. Yes, she'll make a very good mother indeed.
The stuff on the metal bulletin board above my desk has been there so long I barely see it anymore when I glance its way. None of it is time-sensitive, none is informative, and perhaps only one business card has anything to do with travel. Nothing for work. All of it is ephemera, fortune cookie fortunes, magnets, an old hang tag from a vintage coat (with Lurex!) I bought on Etsy, a small "plush" figure shaped like toast with dot eyes and a dash mouth and its strawberry sidekick. Do I evict them for the new year and start fresh?
Now that I've made the tofu-mushroom stroganoff a few times, I can't believe I was ever daunted by the recipe. And now that I've used the mandolin several times to quickly slice the mushrooms and onions, I can't believe I was ever intimidated by it (even though I will never use it without the Kevlar gloves I was smart enough to purchase in tandem). I tend to try one recipe at a time, and then, confident that it's attained Permanent Status in my repertoire, move on to the next. I'm inordinately excited to see what I'll be making in January.
Introductions have been made, and I'm removing my gloves and hat. My back is to the two of them, and just as I'm about to turn around to face them, my cat blurts out, "Are mew my new daddy?" I hadn't prepared her for the possibility -- or, I should really say, the eventuality -- so she's somewhat confused. This is the first straight guy who's been inside my apartment in 16 months other than my good friend who feeds her when I'm away and my best friend's boyfriend.
"Let's just go with 'uncle' right now, shall we?" I say.
So much fun, cramming myself in between chairs and Christmas bundles and bags and coats and Koreans to get to the table where K is quietly eating her food. I wedge myself back through the mass and get in line with the rest of the people who have good taste in inexpensive self-serve Korean food, and fairly faint at the site of the delights before me. I can barely contain myself as I grip tongs that bring these treats to my tray. One bite, and I'm hooked. Amazing. I've lived here 13 years and this is my first time here?
I can now no longer simultaneously delight, horrify, amaze, and dumfound friends by telling them that it's been 19 months since I was last with a man. I had been holding out, putting it off, not wanting to get involved in any way at all (OKCupid/Match/JDate guys were lucky to get a kiss from me, and even then that was rare), and even told myself that that part of my life wasn't that important anyway. I'm pleased to report that I'm now among the living again, revived, and tasting colors I had long ago thought were muted for an eternity.
I woke up and my right "eye tooth" was slightly askew, probably having been gnashed in the course of trying to escape from a dream in which all my teeth were falling from my mouth like seeds shorn from a cucumber spear. It's been years since that tooth dared to even hint that it would try to vacate my mouth, so I was more than a little disturbed. Could it be that my dreams are now trying to manifest themselves into reality? And, if so, why can't it be the delectable dream where Kelly Ripa and I are, y'know, "besties"?
"Are you Eric B___?" I say to the guy behind me, as we stand to alight the bus that's just stopped in Philadelphia. Yes, he says. He acts like he can't place the face. I remind him of our date this spring, the guacamole we ate while watching "Arrested Development" at his place. I want to say, "Let me narrow it down. I'm the one who DIDN'T have sex with you." But I don't. After asking how his dad is, I turn and walk down the aisle, leaving a huge question mark dangling above his head and between his legs.
If only I had been with my fella when he was out 'n' about this afternoon, I'd now be writing a status update about how I just saw Philip Seymour Hoffman at a corner diner in my neighborhood, mere hours after I'd told him about the time my BFF and I saw him rushing, florid-faced and floppy-forelocked, toward Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows on Lafayette Street. Figures this would be the day he leaves his phone behind and thus can't text me to throw a coat on over my sloppy at-home clothes to witness this serendipity in the flesh. Oy.
We're staying in a hotel only a few blocks from my old neighborhood here in Philadelphia. In the 13 years since I left for New York, the city has simultaneously changed so much and remained the same, so I alternately feel like a tourist and a resident. The last time I was in this city, last October, I hung out with the boyfriend with whom I lived for eight years, and visiting for the weekend with my new guy is like having two worlds not quite collide but hover next to each other in only the best of possible ways.
You know me. I don't like to complain. I prefer to see the good in every situation, regardless of ho fucked-up or unjust it may be. Every cloud, I believe, has a platinum lining. But I'd like to lodge a formal complaint against my fella: I need him to stop wielding a hammer and nails to fix a dresser drawer that's been giving me grief for two years; to stop tightening a shower head that's been loose since the Eisenhower Administration; and to stop fixing my bathroom vanity that even my landlord couldn't figure out how to repair. Enough already.
Serious question demanding a very serious answer:
When the delivery guy brings piping hot Chinese food to my building later, for me to enjoy while I finish watching "Lovelace", do I sashay to the door in real clothes (shoes not necessary!) or do I keep on my owl-print flannel pajamas so he will think I'm still in festive "present-opening" mode for Christmas?
P.S. I just realized that the latter option will not work because he will KNOW by dint of the Chinese food that I am a JEW and that I have no presents to open. Oy to the world!
It's not OFFICIAL, is it, unless and until it's on Facebook, right? We're both percolating with excitement, threatening to spill onto the burner with a pop and a sizzle. A few real life friends behind the scenes have been told, as have our moms, but mum's the word in the "social media" world and neither a peep nor a tweet has been uttered although we're both itching to crow. The interior steps of the Constitution Museum in Philadelphia were the first to witness his whispered question, and they're sworn to secrecy. It's up to the two of us to release it!
On the subway, when people are having conversations in a foreign language and it's clear that they not only don't mind eavesdropping but are indeed encouraging it, I like to glance at them periodically, my gaze resting on them just long enough to register that I understand what they're saying, and match my reaction and facial expression to theirs but on a smaller scale, so they know that I know what they're saying. Even though I usually don't. "What? This tiny dark-haired lady understands our Tall Blonde Weird-Vowelspeak?" one probably says as a test. So I smile just in case.
It's not one of the movies he's the proudest of, but hey, it was a paycheck, and sometimes that's all that matters. Not every project can be a masterpiece, of course, and he knows that, and even as we're watching this and howling at how bad it is, I still can't help but be titillated to picture him working with Henry Winkler. I'd told him that before I even knew him, I'd sit through the end credits out of respect for everyone involved, and now we're doing just that, and upon seeing his name, I applaud like a little groupie.
He's driving seven hours from his mom's place in Virginia to spend New Year's Eve with me at a party in New Jersey hosted by one of my best friends and her fella. He's texting updates whenever he enters a new state. When he reaches Delaware, I figure I'm safe for time, and gauge my preparation accordingly. When he texts, "I'm in the Lincoln Tunnel!" I'm still not dressed.
Eventually he texts, "Your chariot awaits." I text back, "Gah! Two minutes!" He says he'll drive around the block. He's not mad at all. I'm so relieved I could just cry.
Michael, Bev, and I are running around Philadelphia like it's still 1998 and we're all so much younger and more ridiculous. We may be 15 years older but we're even more ridiculous than we were then, even with adjusting for, like, inflation or however these things would be calculated. Michael is wishing he could move back from Los Angeles, I'm wishing I didn't love New York so much so I could consider moving back to Philadelphia (which has gotten cute in the 13 years since I left). For the moment, though, it's bliss. It doesn't get any better than this.
Dear Teen-ish Girl on the Uptown 1,
I ordinarily don't put much stock in New Year's resolutions or "advise" people to make them, because as we all know, they're pretty much bullshit, but in your case I must make an exception and demand that you not just heed but adhere to the resolution I am making for you.
Knock it off with the pouty, petulant foot-stomping to make your point with your twin-ash-blonded mealy-mouthed mom. The age beyond which this may be considered marginally cute even by those much more lenient than I am is well behind you.
The Tip Jar