We’re sending $2,512.50 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund today, my friends. You guys rule.
(I’m not saying that your nose is plain, per se, and honestly I never really look at it, I tend to take in your face as a whole. Speaking of which.)
I was helping my colleague look for songs about being sick and getting well for this week’s story time (It’s in 45 minutes! Go take a shower!) because in between reading picture books to the wee ones she teaches them little songs and finger plays. I must have Googled “sneeze + songs” because I ended up discovering a site for sneezing fetishists. Every night when I’m cuddling up with Jackson at bedtime he likes to ask me, “What did you learn today?” and normally I am happy to share all sorts of tidbits from the reference desk, but somehow I couldn’t find the words to try and explain why some people get secretly excited about a common bodily explosion. So we talked about voter fraud and looked at dog-shaming.com instead.
Today is the second and final day that our amazing anonymous donor will provide matching funds (up to $1,000) for your donations to the Red Cross through this site. I will continue to promise to send out drawings to $5 donors ($15 will get yours framed), but it’s the last day that your $5 will turn into $10 and your $15 into $30, and tomorrow is the last day for this whole donation-and-drawings drive on fussy.org. I’m working and traveling this week and won’t be able to keep up with it, but I will tell you that of this morning we are poised to send $1,320 to the Red Cross. I’ll add up the totals and get the final donation sent out on Wednesday morning. I am so pleased and honored and grateful that so many of you have been able to help out in this way.
Peewee Longstocking thanks you, too.
Okay, kids, for days Four and Five of this month I have an anonymous donor who will match everything you contribute to my Charity Water/Red Cross fund, up to $1,000. If you send $5, I will draw almost whatever you want on a postcard and send it to you, and for $15 I’ll frame it, but more importantly, thanks to our anonymous friend, your $5 will magically turn into $10 and your $15 will swell into $30. It will all go straight to the Red Cross AND you’ll get the weirdest charity acknowledgment that I’ve ever heard of. Do it! It’s crazy and amazing that whatever you give will be doubled!
In other news, Friday was my — let’s see, we got married in 1996, so that means it was our sixteenth wedding anniversary. Holy shit, right? We’ve had our ups and downs — I’d go so far as to say that we’ve had entire years that weren’t a lot of fun — but things are pretty good right now. So to commemorate the union of one person who loves olives and one person who thinks olives are disgusting (but olive oil is fine, and even kalamata paste is do-able), the non-olive-lover (me) bestowed upon the olive lover (Jack) this handcrafted and badly photographed olive snuggling device:
(Jack got me flowers and sushi, which is exactly what I wanted.)
My god, I’ve been sick. I’m so healthy most of the time! I must save up my allotment of not-so-hot feeling days and then have them all at once, once a year, when my immune system’s feeling just a little too smug. I could see it coming, days ahead, it was like a slow-rolling tsunami. I had plenty of time to cancel appointments and pack, tell my boss things weren’t looking good. It hit in the middle of the night, and all my hatches were battened except the one where I had to take Jackson to school the next morning.
There I was hunkered down over the espresso machine, making our usual morning coffees, a double cappuccino for me and a 12-ounce travel mug of milk with a shot of espresso for Jackson. (What, he likes coffee. I put half a packet of stevia in his because otherwise he’d demand four lumps of sugar, which = no.) We got in the car.
“Mom? Are you okay?”
“I don’t feel very good.”
“You don’t look very good.”
I was hanging on pretty well, as well as you can hang on when you feel like absolute death. I really shouldn’t have had that sip of coffee, though. Nausea was not a welcome companion on our journey. Neither was Jackson’s morning playlist of Eminem’s greatest hits, even played at elevator-music level.
BITCH, I’M GONNA KILL YOU!
“Mom, are you okay?”
“I don’t feel very good.”
Jackson put his hand on my arm as we drove. He’s such a nice kid.
WANNA FUCK WITH SHADY
WILL FUCKING KILL YOU
And in my head I’m all, “Help me, God, help me Oprah, help me Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me.” Except quietly and without punctuation. Helpmegodhelpmeoprah. Tomcruiseuseyourwitchcraft. Prayforusnowandatthehourofourdeath.
It was just comically awful: me feeling like a shit pancake, my son cheerfully programming his playlist of problematic white genius hip hop mayhem, my dog quietly farting in the back seat.
Naturally, I wasn’t done. I had to drag my animate carcass to CVS because Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine is the only thing that works, they don’t even have to pay me to say that, I will spread the word for free. Buy that shit. When the nice cashier says, “How are you today!” just croak, “I’m so sick” at her and she will give you your change with horrified fingers, it’s been proven in laboratory experiments time and again. I’m not even sure what that means.
I guess I must have made it home, and then I woke up and it was 2:00 p.m. And now it’s Friday, I think? How are you?
Fortunately, before all this went down I managed to put up another post at Babble, this one being a review of the latest J.K. Rowling book written in the form of Harry Potter fan fiction. I’m not sure what I’m going to do for an encore, I’m only halfway finished with Gone Girl, but maybe the cast of Twilight will have some opinions on it.
Tuesday night I went out to UCSB with my friend Jennifer to see Rufus Wainwright. It was a great show, it was just Rufus solo, and he seems like a dear person who was born with/has carefully developed a tremendous vocal range as well as nice, shaggy hair and bare feet and a sparkly scarf, and honestly, sitting there I felt like it would have been okay if he just decided to sing all his songs, forever, and I could just stay there and listen and feel like it was a fine use of the rest of my life. If saying this doesn’t put too far much ballast in the hull of my Rufus Boat: the man totally refreshed my faith in art. When an artist opens up his or her heart on stage like that — if we’re receptive, our hearts open up in response. Maybe you get that feeling through religion, or shopping, or being in love, but a really skillful songwriter can unlock all those little cabinets inside you. Or cabinets inside me, at least, I don’t know what you have inside of you; maybe your big inner ironing cupboard is always ajar, your iron steaming, your spray starch bottle full. (We have one of those old-fashioned ironing-board cupboards in our kitchen — with no board in it, unfortunately — so when I was thinking of something you might have in your chest that wasn’t what I have, which is 26 sticky little typesetter’s drawers, but instead just one, big available thing, ironing board cupboard is what came to mind.)
At one point Rufus covered his face with his hand and bent over the microphone and mumbled, “I spend way too much time Googling myself,” and we all chuckled at his shameful secret. And then he mumbled even more shamefully, “And then I read the comments.” As someone who has lived part of her life on the Internet for — oh! Next Monday will be my eleventh blog anniversary! So, for eleven years I’ve been doing this Internet self-exposure thing, and if there’s one thing I’ve stopped doing it’s Googling myself. I just don’t want to know who thinks I’m an idiot, it’s not going to do me any good unless you really have a plan to help me with all my problems, then I’m totally willing to listen. But you’re going to have to make an appointment. In conclusion, I don’t want to be responsible for any comments that might hurt another person’s feelings, so if you read this and feel inclined to tell the world what you really think about Rufus Wainwright, make sure it’s in rhymed couplets.
Driving up Chapala Street
Me: “Look at the tattoo on that guy’s forearm: Love Laughter Light.”
Jackson (cupping his hands around his mouth): “YOU FORGOT THE COMMAS.”
On Instagram I am Toasteroven, I forget why
Lastly, because I’m finishing this in a dreadful hurry to get Jackson to school on time: I am reading the new J.K. Rowling book, The Casual Vacancy. Is anybody else reading it? Because I feel like I’m the only person in the world who thinks it’s terrific. I will let you know if that opinion still holds when I’m done, but so far, so good.
I went to MaxFunCon again this year and I’m not even sure where to begin.
Saturday I got to sit at breakfast with Bill Corbett. (If you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 you might be dying a little right now because Bill was the voice of Crow T. Robot.) Bill and his wife, Virginia, came to the reading Alice and I did in Minneapolis last year and he laughed, loudly, in all the right places. Bill is the tops. (Bill’s Rifftrax partner, Kevin Murphy, is not pictured, but he is also the tops. They are co-tops.)
About six months ago I cobbled together a small life list which included the item “take an improv class.” Since Maggie (who’d prompted me to make the list in the first place) was with me this weekend along with Alice (from whom I’d stolen the idea of putting an improv class on my life list), and both of them had signed up for the improv class, all three of us (along with Alice’s husband, Scott) went together.
The class was taught with kindness and simplicity by Jordan Morris, and it wasn’t due to any defect in his teaching that I fell flat on my face (metaphorically) several times. In fact it taught me a good lesson: don’t try to be funny. When I stopped trying, I actually got a couple of laughs but, wow. Developing a character, a relationship, a location, and an obstacle on the spot with two or more people is nuts.
I had originally signed up for the pub quiz after lunch, but I guess I wasn’t really in the mood for the nap-inducing effects of mid-day drinking and trivia, so I decided to crash the artisanal pencil sharpening class instead. “Crash” is probably a little strong for what I did; “audit” would be more accurate.
Artisanal pencil sharpening may sound to some like the apex of dandyism, but believe me, David Rees is somewhat dead serious about the art of using a box cutter to carefully shave a shaft of yellow-painted, eraser-tipped cedar to a lethal point. It was satisfying as well as somewhat frustrating and awkward, as learning a new skill can be (cf: improv), and it left me with a lot of questions. At one point David posited that the act of carefully sharpening a pencil and then destroying it through use could be viewed as an exercise in futility, and I wanted to raise my hand and say, But isn’t use an act of love? Don’t we transfer, though the labor of sharpening and wearing the pencil down as it transports our thoughts to paper, a bit of ourselves into this humble tool? You’ve sharpened 600 pencils and call yourself an expert, but didn’t George Leonard say that only after you’ve done something a thousand times can you call yourself a master? But because I was just auditing, David charged me a dollar every time I asked a question. I only had three singles so after asking some basic points of instruction I pretty much had to shut up. Also, I didn’t want to be a dick.
I did most of my sharpening sitting on a bench next to Maria Bamford, who as you can see sharpened her pencil to a tremendous and frightening point. She gave David $5 so she got to ask more questions.
The morning and afternoon speakers this year were Mary Roach and Susan Orlean, both of whom had blurbed Let’s Panic!, so it was a tremendous honor to have two women of their stature treat us like peers. We’re not, of course, but they don’t know that (shhh).
(Here’s my post from last year.)
I’ve lived in California for more than 20 years now and yesterday I was finally able to admit to myself: I don’t ever want to get out of my car.
I was at work yesterday and instead of taking an hour for lunch I arranged to take two 30-minute breaks, one at 12:30 to have lunch, and one at 3:15 to pick up Jackson from school. I didn’t bring a lunch so I decided to go over to the sandwich shop because they’re close, they’re cheap, and they’re fast as hell. They’re cheap and fast because they don’t bother with vegetables. You get meat, bread, cheese, something to make it all stick together, and that’s it. The first time I went in there and asked for lettuce and tomato on my sandwich, the girl at the counter pointed at the menu taped to the side of the meat counter and said, “No.” She didn’t say, I’m so sorry for the inconvenience but we only make sandwiches out of things that don’t bruise when you drop them. She just pointed to a list of meats, breads, and cheeses and said, “No.” NEXT.
The actual point of this story, however, is the fact that the sandwich shop is about 350 feet away from where I work, and I drove to get my lunch. I got in my car, pulled out of the library driveway, turned onto the main road, took my foot off the gas and coasted 40 feet, turned into the sandwich shop driveway, and parked in a spot that had a wonderful view of the bench I would normally sit on while eating my lunch, and you know what? Fuck that bench. Yesterday it was windy and cold and that bench is made out of cement. Did I want to shove my napkin under my leg to keep it from blowing away? No, I did not. Nor did I want a bug to fall into my coke, grizzled pedestrians to veer inappropriately close, or my skirt to blow up and expose my pink thigh-highs to the people staring at me from the warmth of their cars while they ate their sandwiches and wondered what the hell was my problem.
Instead, I bought my Fritos, my Diet Pepsi, and my turkey-on-wheat-with-mayo and then brought it all back to my nice, warm aging-Volvo privacy bubble. I put my soda in my cup holder, balanced the Eastside Branch Library’s copy of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) on the steering wheel, and didn’t talk to, look at, or think about any of the strangers on the other side of my tinted windows for 25 glorious minutes. I was so delighted and relieved to finally be vulnerable enough with myself to admit that this was the most relaxing lunch I’d had in years that I don’t think revelation is too strong a word to describe my feelings. For so long I’d felt guilty about cutting myself off from the energy of nature or whatever it is hippies say to convince you to get out of your car, take off your shoes, and let the wind blow ecstatically through your hair. Hippies of the world: I love shoes and I don’t have that much hair, and the energy of nature is unpredictable. As a matter of fact, it smells like jasmine mixed with B.O.
So, sorry all you city planners who spend your lives sweating over designs for usable, friendly, safe public spaces! Tomorrow I might take my car to the beach parking lot for lunch, and then maybe we’ll hit a drive-in this weekend. We can double date with my husband’s truck.
We are here in our new house and I have a stress cold. I’d show you some photos but all you’d see would be hardwood floors covered in garbage bags full of socks and underwear, because when you move from a place with tons of built-in storage to a place with no built-in storage, furniture doesn’t just magically appear like I somehow thought it would. I may have subconsciously hoped that I’d open up the garage and find the old wooden dresser I bought for $40 from the girl who was moving out of my room on Dean Street in 1988. (If that does happen, you’ll be the first ones invited to join Mrs. Kennedy’s Church of the Miraculous Furniture Manifestation.) Nor do bluebirds fly in to fold your laundry and re-hem that skirt you bought from H&M that seems to be made out of wrinkle-insistent material. I just made that up! Wrinkle-insistent! That’s the kind of thing I can do when only one of my nostrils is functioning. Since our health insurance was canceled on March 1st, my Furniture Church plans are on hold so that I can temporarily become a Christian Scientist. I’ve managed to pray away a full-blown sinus infection, and Jack fixed the knife gash in his hand with Super glue. So far, so good!
When we first got here Peewee wouldn’t go out to the backyard to pee by himself. He’d spent his whole little four-and-a-half-years-long life in a condo where he had to be escorted outdoors on a leash every day, so when we got here and shoved him out the back door, naked as the day he was born, he’d just stand there uncertainly, waiting for someone to yell, “NO! STAY!” and loop a rope around his neck. But when that didn’t happen, he just waited with his little bursting bowels until one of us walked him out to the grass and stood next to him while he did his thing. It was kind of funny until the night I stepped in something that made my shoes sad. It was a lesson in timely lawn-maintenance for us all.
I have a lot more to say but I’ve discovered a pile of bills that was due three weeks ago, and my checkbook just resurfaced, and I feel as though these two simultaneous occurrences have some deeper meaning that will all become clear if I can figure out how to manifest a roll of first-class stamps.
Posting will be light this week, as we’ll taking all of this . . .
over here . . .
. . . tomorrow.
I’ve just finished shredding five years’ worth of bank statements and I’m about to sort through a drawer full of cords that belong to electronics we haven’t used since the last Bush administration. I’m hoping to weed so relentlessly that all we’ll have to move will be our beds and a bag full of shoes. I’d start a Pinterest board about my new interest in possession-free lifestyles but I’m afraid it would be nothing more than an ode to freshly refinished wood floors, aesthetically challenging floor lamps, and Fluevogs. Actually, that sounds pretty good, I might do that anyway.
All of which is to say: posting will resume next week from our new location!
I appreciate the fact that no one’s called me out for not posting ever day like I said I would. It turns out that committing to daily writing, keeping your editors happy, working a straight job, getting a condo into escrow, and looking for a new place to live all at the same time is kind of a drain on mental resources. The good news is, I’ve managed to keep all of those other balls in the air, if not this one. The bad news is, the emotional roller coaster that is packing up all your shit and finding a new place to put it is not one I feel good about sharing online. One minute I’m swept away with excitement and possibilities! And the next I have abandoned all hope and am picturing myself living under a porch with a sleeping bag and a flashlight. Jack is the one keeping us all together emotionally, physically, and spiritually at the moment. Jackson’s job has been to stay home sick all week, complain about homework, and be exceedingly huggable. Here’s a photo he took of his nurse the other day:
In other posting news, here’s a link to the latest Popcorn Whisperer, where the cast of Twilight continues to discuss recent plot developments in season two of Downton Abbey. Special guests this week include Robert Downey, Jr. (in the same photo as last week because I can’t remember where I put all the Iron Man action figures) and the Incredible Hulk, who I love because you’d think he’d just be screaming all the time, but he’s actually very thoughtful.