Dear Margaret Hamilton

On October 14, 2008 by Eden M. Kennedy

I spent this weekend in productive silence behind the closed door of our office/third bedroom surrounded by piles of 2007 receipts, all in the name of finally getting our taxes done. The woman who does the books for Jack’s business also does our personal taxes, but she can’t do them until she’s done Jack’s business taxes, and she always files for an extension because she’s so slammed in April. Which is fine, I could put this shit off indefinitely, except there was some sort of government money incentive that went out to everybody except us last spring? Which maybe we’ll now get except the whole thing will get eaten up paying the late penalty for not paying our taxes in April. SO THAT’S FUN.

Yesterday morning after I dropped off all the tax paperwork I treated myself to a $5 cup of coffee at The Daily Grind on Mission Street. While I was waiting for my double soy latte and blueberry bran muffin — and whoever decided that blueberry bran muffins deserve a glaze of frosting on top deserves a note of thanks on my behalf, because really, what better way to aid in the choking down of all that fiber? — and while I was standing there waiting I noticed this:

This person’s tortoise ran away! You know that tortoise is a beloved pet because look at the quality of that portrait. The focus is tack sharp and what a handsome pose! But whatever mink-lined box this guy was living in wasn’t enough, I guess — as we have seen first hand, a tortoise will do just about anything to get the hell out of captivity, even when, as at my house, captivity is filled with organic arugula and dandelion greens. P.S. please don’t send me any more e-mails about tortoise abuse, Peanut has dropped her habit of bashing her little shell down the stairs and every time I see her clomping over to gaze nostalgically over that first step I pick her up and put her on the balcony. Also, Jack has decreed that Peanut now has a middle name, and this middle name is Shell. THE END.

Anyway, I probably didn’t mention that I helped chaperon Jackson’s school trip to a Dodgers game last month.

Jack, a lifelong Yankees fan, chose not to attend, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that beloved former Yankees manager, Joe Torre, is now on the Dodgers’ payroll. So it fell to the more baseball-ignorant of our dynamic parenting duo to go along and explain all this business of corked bats and bench-clearing brawls and whatnot. Not for me, the dull basics of the game! No, instead we had a long discussion about the time this one guy’s bat shattered and a huge splinter of wood stabbed him in the neck.

One of the other parents came armed with blue hair spray. Seriously, it took nearly two weeks for the stain to finally fade from his scalp.

In other news, in those halcyon days before the economy really went down the toilet, we were starting to put aside some money to get rid of our goddamn nasty Home Depot Stain Magnet® carpet and replace it with a nice, dark wood floor, with a sort of strange but interesting dark striped tile around the fireplace hearth.

Jack had that sample plank and tile laying on the floor in the living room for a week or two so everyone could step on the smooth, shiny wood and anticipate the bliss of a real wood floor. Ah, those were the days, before I remembered that my freelance income is all 1099′d and that all the money I’d set aside for frivolous things like flooring was going to evaporate come October 15.

But you don’t care about that! You want to know how the book signing in San Francisco went! Well, we decided to make it a family getaway weekend so we drove up Friday in Jack’s truck, making a stop along the way in Nipomo for lunch at the famous Jocko’s.

Impressive! Impressively locked in a land before time, Jocko’s serves lots and lots of meat, as they have been doing since the days when you saw more cows grazing along the 101 than acres and acres of grapes and signs for some very nice wineries using depressingly predictable mixtures of cursive and heroic serif fonts.

It was too dark to capture Jocko’s church basement ambiance without a soul-destroying flash and I didn’t want to upset the natives, many of whom had forearms the size of my thighs. There are some big fellas drinking at Jocko’s bar at noon and they’re not just having a beer with lunch, they are having ten beers and a fifth of Jack for lunch. Hell, it’s Friday, why not. Come in an monkey round! Jackson was sort of disappointed with his massive non-McDonald’s cheeseburger, but he took one for the team and stayed quiet about it. I would warn any potential Jocko’s-goers to expect a rusty iceberg salad with your meal, but the fries are fantastic.

This was the view from our hotel the next morning. The St. Francis had a “book two nights and get a third night for free” special, so we took it. Our room was on the 24th floor in the new section of the hotel that overlooks the old section, where they appear to store improperly bagged medical waste on the roof. Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous, sunny day in San Francisco and one hell of a lot warmer that it was during the BlogHer conference last July.

I feel like Jackson is getting more beautiful every day while I’m slowly withering into some sort of early-Renaissance crone. Come on over and bring your own cauldron! We’ll bob for heretics.

We met some friends for lunch at the hotel and then I was released from social duties to go shopping. Maybe not the brightest thing to do, given our personal finances, but coming from a crummy mid-range consumer backwater like we do, where there’s not a whole lot between $250 blue jeans and K-Mart, when you get the chance to go a nice old-fashioned department store with seven floors YOU TAKE IT.

Plus, I needed stockings. All I can say is Macy’s Union Square, that’s quite a selection of legware you have. And DSW? Thanks for last year’s Born tango Mary Jane pumps in both brown and black, and the fact that their size 10 is actually a 10 1/2.

So many great people came out to see us at Swig, including Maggie, who makes every event shine just a little bit brighter; my gorgeous friend Maureen, who I worked with years ago at Shakespeare & Co. in New York; Beth, who I was so impressed with in high school and hadn’t seen in 25 years, and who is now a brilliant college professor and blog comment leaver; and Dave, on the left there, who I’ve known since I was 14. This is the only picture I took the whole night and oh no, I’m doing the I’M AWAKE! eye thing! Shit! I met Dave at a National Forensics League speech and debate meet in 9th grade and it didn’t take us long to became good friends. I have more Dave stories than time to tell them — the time I showed up at his dorm at Dartmouth with a car full of eighteen-year-old boys comes to mind, or the time in Bob’s unheated north Denver
basement when he taught me the bass line for As Tears Go By. And now Dave is a fancy genius. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, I got some really good stockings at Macy’s, including these, which I wore last Saturday night to the vegetarian pot luck at the yoga shala. Jackson was all, “Mom, you look like a teenager,” in the same sort of voice you might say, You know you look like a total idiot, right? I may or may not continue to ignore fashion advice from my seven-year-old; he’s pretty good at picking out accessories so I could probably start giving his opinion a little more weight. But really, once Halloween rolls around I think a hint of wicked witch can be delightful.

Next time on Fussy: the world’s tiniest snail, and my attempts to live a chair-free existence.



41 Responses to “Dear Margaret Hamilton”

  • Thanks for an old-school kitchen sink post! With pictures of shoes and stuff.

  • I love the stockings! and Macy’s on Union square is the SHIT! I wish I could have been there to smooch you.


  • are you kidding me? you have a Fantastic face. you look like a woman i’d love to be around and talk to, the kind of person i gravitate toward like…um…sauce to spaghetti?
    cats to mice? palin to gaffs?

    anyhow great meaty post. lots to read and gawk. your son is a cutie.
    love that long(ish) hair.

    love the stockings, October perfect.

  • i forgot to say i HATE MY CARPET too.
    it is my number One peeve. it’s gross i am sick of vacuuming it futilely.

  • I need to go shopping for stockings. The stripes are darling.

  • AAARGH! Too much to comment on. Also: hooray! Long post to read.

    I will say this: when I was at your house I marvelled at your carpet, yea, with two Ls, because I didn’t understand how you had a kid AND two dogs AND a carpet that clean, and I wished our beige Fuck-it CarpetTM coped like that.

    Anyway. We replaced our beige carpet with a wooden floor, and now I live with the sound of BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! as Esme runs around. Even barefoot. BAM! And when anyone drops anything it goes BANG! and I shout ARGH! I’m a fucking nervous wreck. Enjoy your nice, quiet carpets.

    Also, Jackson is beautiful, and so are you.

  • Great post! Although I have to say, striped leggings and red clogs SO don’t do it for me. I think your seven year old has excellent taste.

  • I remember that guy who nailed himself in the neck with his splintered bat! I was watching that game! Awesome.

    My husband is actually rooting for the Dodgers in lieu of the Yankees. Maybe Jack could try that??

  • Beige carpets are the devil. I know; I begrudgingly walk on one everyday.

  • yes, great post…I’m with everyone else, Jackson IS beautiful….and so are you!

    we moved into our current place simply because of the wood floors. ignored the cracking ceiling, the closet sized kitchen, the PAINTED bath tub and sinks, and the lack of central air (in the south!!!). but oh these floors!

  • My son found a turtle exactly like that in the middle of the road in front of our house last week. I’m not kidding, as soon as I post pics to Flickr I’ll prove it! Anyway, do not misunderestimate the wily turtle.

    Oh, we brought it to the local vet who promised to find a home for it the end.

  • So when a tortoise “runs away”, isn’t it always like, right outside the door? Or did this tortoise run away in 1997 and finally made it out of the front yard before anyone noticed?

  • Brilliant posts like this make me want to burn down my own blog and start from scratch. But I have no idea how to burn down a blog. Jackson IS getting more beautiful by the day, and I love that he & Alice's Henry are so whip-smart (whip-smart? Is that an actual term? I mean that they're clever). The turtle having a middle name of "shell" is too good.
    House of Jules

  • Oh man. I suddenly want a ribeye sandwich the size of my head from Jocko’s. I can be in Nipomo by 6:30 if I step on it …

    *checks cholesterol*

    Ok, no.

  • Slow and steady wins the race, Erin.

  • Oooo I got an e-mail from a friend who recognized me in this post as the one from high school and she said I’m! Famous! Now! So I am doing an off-puttingly self-satisfied little dance at meriting a mention in Fussy because I am so not a blogger–far too lazy– just a commenter. It might be my only mention on the blogosphere ever!

    For whatever it’s worth, she IS just as pretty as she was in 1983 and it was all early-Renaissance meets English Beat Girl back then too.

  • I bought my house on the basis of the wood floors that were hiding under the terrifying carpet. I’m sure they haven’t been refinished in the 50 years since they were laid, but still…waaay better than carpet.

    Also, I love the shoes.

  • Oooo, any shoe that says it’s a 10 and runs large is *awesome*. Privos are like that too. I hate that my shoe size is a comma – “sizes 5-10 comma 11″ – as if people with non-petite feet don’t deserve shoes that fit.

  • My husband is off at the Post getting our taxes stamped and sent, so I fellowfeel.I also think my kids have sucked all the juice of life out of me, as they grow ever more lovely and I grow ever more tired and wizened. I thought I was the only one….

  • So deeply, dreadfully in love with your shoes.

  • I would totally come bobbing for heretics with you. That would undoubtedly be the highlight of my (I was going to say week, but let’s get real) life.

    I am sad about the missing tortoise however. I want to call them and check whether they have tried digging really really really deep, down beneath the layers of giant slugs and larvae and cat poo. Or is that just my tortoises?

  • My friend’s neighbor’s dog committed suicide. True story. Jumped from the window of a moving car. That dog just had to find a way OUT.

    And the blue hairspray is a great idea. I so want to use that when I accompany the kindergarteners to the Pumpkin Patch. What a time-saver to make sure you are rounding up all the right kids. They won’t let us brand them.

  • Ok, I’m in, hook, line and sinker, what the hell is a chair free existence? Is that like when we had a sectional but no recliners?

  • A runaway tortoise? This isn’t one of those jokes about the Hare and stuff, is it?

    Love your photos… all the photos… Jackson is amazing.

  • “bob for heretics…” indeed.

  • I used to pet-sit for a family with three dogs and a leopard tortoise and they had their phone number written on the tortoise’s shell because he escaped so much.

    Also, Jackson is totally lovely and describing yourself as “early Renaissance crone” while not accurate is absolutely hilarious.

  • LORDY, I *just* got your W of Oz reference! But in all fairness, I’ve had a LOT on my mind lately.

  • Yea! Jocko’s! and I love those red shoes. :)

  • That kid of yours, Kennedy. Jesus. Great post, fantastic tights.

  • I have shoes like those, but mine are orange. My nine year old daughter calls them “clown shoes”. Maybe that’s because I wear a size 11. What she doesn’t seem to realize is that I get immense enjoyment in embarrassing her, so I wear them a lot.

  • Early Renaissance crone – I am cultivating the exact same look, except with bangs, which means I really have to focus on getting the jowls to carry off the whole crone aesthetic.

  • Just be glad you’re cultivating the early renaissance crone thing rather than than Goya “Charles IV, and his family” portrait thing. I’m going to need a robin’s breast corset pretty damn soon.

    And your son is stunning. Sign that kid up to make you some modeling moola.

  • I agree wholeheartedly that Jackson is beautiful. This many people couldn’t be wrong… now it’s not just bragging on your kid, it’s stone cold fact.

    I also love your shoes and stripy leggings and I also don’t think you’re anywhere near a crone… you were clearly working at it in the picture because in the very next one you are perfectly lovely in a way that also shows your character, even with the “I’m awake!” eyes.

    Also… many people write well, many people write amusingly of their own lives. I think the gift that you have is not just that you write well and are capable of arranging a great tale no matter what it’s about (turtles, old sweaters, tooth fairies, forks, your sweet mom… whatever), but you also have a particular way with honesty that is so appealing.

  • I see you have NOT cut your hair yet. It has been in the air fer sure…

  • but what about those shoes?? they’re clogs, right? that red is really perfect….gimme the details, mrs. kennedy!

  • Standing on the floor samples completely hilarious.

    I actually commented because of your last teaser line about living chair free. I have a pretty bad L5 injury and can’t sit longer then a few minutes in anything without my left leg going into complete sciatic meltdown. So… looking forward to hearing what you have to say about living chair-free.

    Soul stealing flash indeed. I mount a soft box over my flash to try and subdue the draining of life from subjects. hate the flash.

  • Wonderful post, Miss Gulch.

  • OMG! I have the same Stain Magnet carpet! I thought I was the only one who got suckered into THAT deal. Thanks for making me feel better.

  • Where have you gone? Come back to us Fussy!

  • I hope you are ok. And you are missed by the blogosphere.

  • “I feel like Jackson is getting more beautiful every day while I’m slowly withering into some sort of early-Renaissance crone. Come on over and bring your own cauldron! We’ll bob for heretics.”

    I have been patently avoiding this realization for many many months now. But I am living this reality way out here in the middle west. every time i get a photo taken i feel like Elaine on Seinfeld when she cringes each time she sees “the baaabbyyy”.
    remember that? i am The Baaabbbyyy”.