Monday, December 31, 2007

Politics of New Year's Eve

Yo, check it. This is some thought-provoking stuff.

"Oil/Blood Spill

At Rockefeller Center


White Man's Unburdening

I see oppressive Power as a monstrous beast, fostered by a consumerist
economy, devouring the resources of the world through it's obscenely
abusive consumption.

Since last fall, I have had a vision of a black mass of crude oil
tainted with blood clots.

It is being spilled in a big splash right in front of the "Atlas"
statue at Rockefeller Center.

Ideally I would do a live performance at Rockefeller Center, using my
manufactured fake oil and blood. But in the current political climate,
it may be a problem to get the permit for this from NYPD.

On May 15, 2004 I staged a live performance (see title above) in my
studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn: An oil barrel was lowered from the
ceiling by roper on a pulley system, to coincide with the "burden" of
the Atlas, which was projected from a beamer. A mime performer was also
coinciding with the body of the Atlas statue. I executed the spill
myself by ripping open the lid of the barrel.

This was accompanied by music performed by 3 rock musicians on a
podium, and strobe lights flickering over the "studio stage", The whole
thing took about 10 minutes. On the studio wall, I had pasted a long
list of corporate war profiteers.

Madeleine Hatz"

Riddle me this: what's the point of going to parties if you're not single? I usually spend half of them saying stuff like, 'Look, I'm not going to waste your time. There are a lot of good-looking women here, and I have a boyfriend." It's like swimming: once you're in, there's absolutely nothing to do.

As re: Slim, he's working until midnight or so.

Said someone to me today, in an undertone, "Not to break the fourth wall of blogging, but I read your 'Amazing Girls' rant, and I fucking hate those ethereal bitches."

Monday, December 24, 2007

So the streets of Greenpoint are filled with the smell of fish. I don't know much about Polish Christmas customs, but apparently it involves some kind of feast-of-seven-fishes deal, because all these vacant lots have turned into impromptu fish markets, and every deli's doorway holds a paint bucket containing a sad-looking live carp looking up balefully.

I came home yesterday to find the building festively decked out - garlands, bows, a lone trumpet, even a pair of bells stuck above the door. To say nothing of the wreath, which is magnificent.

My friend Tammy is in town. We met for brunch at a spot she described as "hip, but not oppressively so." She told me about her new crush. "He's like a cross between George Harrison, Big Bird, and Maude," she said dreamily. (Maude is of course Ruth Gordon. Tammy often describes people in terms of Maude - as do I. Useful shorthand for many awesome and not-awesome things.)

She produced a lurid-looking paperback copy of The Golden Notebook which I hadn't read.

"Have you read Long Day's Journey Into Night? she asked. "Well, you know how they're always kind of declaiming and talking abruptly? It's kind of like that, but they're Communists, and they really like strawberries."

Holiday (It Would Be So Nice)

I feel very blue about life. What shall I do? All ideas welcomed.

May have to go back to plan A; international courtesan. Or A1, novelty rapper and brief Youtube sensation.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A few notes on the psychiatric profession

I saw my feelings doctor today, and discoursed on modern love (see below.) As is often the case, he seemed bemused and somewhat baffled. It wasn't one of my better sessions, although I sort of pulled it out in the last fifteen by telling him about my parents attending the Zionist DDiary of Anne Frank which was dominated by mentally-handicapped Jewish adults, one of whom snored loudly throughout, mere inches from the actors' faces.

There was a very furtive girl in the waiting room. I felt bad for her, having to follow that anecdote. Let's hope she had some real issues to discuss.

So, back in the day, I saw a therapist for about five minutes before I graduated to the hard stuff. She was kind of Joy of Sex-y, and I had the distinct impression that she thought I was sexually repressed. In any event, she didn't really like me, which I instinctively respected, but wasn't particularly conducive to breakthroughs.

Then I started to see a psychiatrist on grounds of what my family refers to as "garden-variety madness" or, alternatively, "going strange."

After my first meeting with the feelings doctor (a title reserved for MD's), my dad said,

"Did you make him laugh?"

I said I had.

"I always used to do that too, until he made me turn away so I wasn't facing him and couldn't play to him for reaction. So then I sang "Dogfood is the king," to the tune of the Love Story theme. Ours is not a family that is easily understood."

Modern Love

Since, for the bulk of my adult life, I was securely ensconced in a serious relationship with a young man of similarly unblemished record, I have never before this year been placed in the role of ex-girlfriend, or new girlfriend, or, by extension, poisoner or usurper. It is very uncomfortable. It rankles that I, the most mild-mannered and open-bookish of women, am by my very existence now the potential target of cattiness and Googling and e-stalking. (Not to say this has happened; I'm just aware that now it's a possibility. And it doesn't help to know that, at the click of a mouse (?) there are available at least a score of photos in which I'm hideous enough to reassure even the most insecure old/new girlfriend.)

I hope anyone who harbors such resentments will be comforted by this blog, which shows me to be a non-threatening idiot, albeit an adorable one.

The thing is, I always feel a kinship with anyone who's cared for a man peculiar enough to have won my affection. But I guess not everyone feels that way. Gosh! A hundred years ago, none of this was an issue; folks didn't have artificially intertwined lives and unofficial marriages or any of these things which give other people access to pieces of your souls. Maybe it is still this way amongst the Amish?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Check out this, from twister sister's review of Original Pancake House:

"The food takes awhile which gave us time to watch a waitress deliver a Dutch Baby and envelop us with its fragrant, perhaps sacred, steam. A tray of ruby grapefuit juice in large glasses made me think of luxurious jewels. Obviously we had travelled back to a past time."

A few words on actors

Maeve, scientist, bombshell, milliner, brother's girlfriend, sometime shopgirl, had the following to say about actors:

"They don't know any more about politics than any good-looking person with an easy job. In fact, less, because they just hang out with other actors all the time. And hanging out with other actors must be like being at Hampshire YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. Everyone's an idiot; everyone's "special"; everyone thinks their opinion is valuable."

(I think we got started re: Jake Gyllenhaal; "America's most eligible bachelor talks about the CIA.")


From Roger:

Do you still have the red pocket square (by Charvet)? If so, I would like to have it back as it goes well with my Christmas eve outfit. Which is a black velvet jacket (by Loro Piana), a white shirt (by Faconnable) with a tartan tie (by Polo), red braces (by Trafalgar), black watch tartan trousers (by Ralph Lauren Purple Label), and black velvet slippers with white sequin bunnies with onyx eyes on their toes(by Edward Green).

Vaguely Menacing

From GK4:

"Feeling better? You better be. "

Swoop, swoop. Baby rock, rock.

Here are some of the people I've ahd crushes on:

Reuven Malter: This was a major, major crush. Made it really hard to take an interest in any real 7th-Grade boys, none of whom were particularly gifted at Gemitriya or Talmud or even baseball, or were wonderfully kind to blind boys or adorable Orthodox fathers with hacking coughs.

Lou Reed: obviously. But he's out of my league. I mean, no one's gonna be into me AND Laurie Anderson.

Stephen Pastel: indie auteur, Glaswegian, research librarian.

Waiter at Barney Greengrass: the handsome one in black Chucks. This one is ongoing, by the way. And my friend Mike said the waiter knows it, which means I can never go back. As Mike said, 'he gave me a look that clearly said, 'I could sleep with your girlfriend.' (ed: going on the assumption that he thought I was Mike's gf) Guys know this shorthand. Of course, I also have a lurid imagination and a history of misinterpreting things.' '


"Amy Winehouse was arrested. GHK."

That's from GK4, former fiance.

Last night had dinner with Roger. He was very bitter. Said, 'you look well, but then I suppose an active sex life will do that.'

Persists in claiming he doesn't remember Slim's name, even though it's his own middle name. He also said, 'I believe you know that hirsute Hebrew at the next table.' (I did.) We had a good time.

As re: cold, took a nice bath with a menthol soak last night. Look awful; I am in Cafe Grumpy, but a not anticipating any missed connections unless one of these fellas has an affinity for waxen trolls with rats' rests atop their small heads.

I have managed to post a couple of links, plus my current playlist - although I can't seem to get them just where I want them on the page. Funny old world!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Technology, wonders of

Just got a text from Slim, who is currently winging to the Golden State.

Apparently security guy "laughed and said I had an evil face that must drive women mad."

I wrote back that "your face is the least infuriating thing about you" then regretted it because it wasn't clever and it kind of sounded risque, which I didn't intend.


I have a cold, like everybody else. Mine is of course much more glamorous and tragic, though.

So, last night I went with GK4 to this Christmas party thrown by some wealthy bohemians. This was a major concession on my part, as I was in the first stages of a cold and had been prevented from a good night's rest, by him, as he had a crisis of faith the night before and needed to phone several times between three and four a.m.

In fact, I am too tired to write about it. But remind me to tell you about the old man dressed like a 19th century baby.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Here is something that makes me uncomfortable: "The Good Day." They are trying so hard to make it work, and it's obviously not catching on, and it makes me writhe with embarrassment. I wish they would stop.

The Remedy

Okay, I've swapped my tunic for a wrap cardigan.

Last time I was home, I grabbed some old home movies, thinking they might be fun to show Slim.

Well, the first one we screened featured me, at 3, throwing my legs over my head and "showing the camera my vagina!"

"Do you remember what we talked about yesterday?" my mother asks from off-camera. "How if you're riding in your stroller, and not wearing underpants, you need to keep your legs together?"

"Sades, enough with the vagina," says my dad.

"Harry, put her underpants on her," says my mother.

Last night, went with some gals for pizza at Lucali. Midway through, fielded a call from a friend wondering whether to break off a fling pre-or-post dinner. Points in favor of both; he decided to do it pre-prandially and weather the awkwardness of the meal, in the interests of honesty. Poor everyone. These details can be mined for absurdity, but everything under the sun can just as easily be tragic. See: any short-story collection written in the past ten years.

Then I went to go stay at Slim's house, which was a major concession as I have a long history of hating sleepovers and faking migraines to get out of them. (See: five fourth-grade slumber parties.) He has this immense room with 12-foot ceilings which sort of made me feel insignificant and afraid; plus a bunch of roommates. Maybe it's the fact that in my house growing up people were always stirring and shaking and yelling, but I relish the luxury of living alone, undisturbed by other people's rumblings and the sputter of the burner and the creak of the pipes and other guilt-inducing signs of wakefulness.

We used to spend summers with my granparents in California. There was, in that house, an unspoken competition to get less sleep than anyone else; as a result, no one went to sleep before three, or got up after five. I daresay everyone felt obscurely virtuous, but for an outsider, the experience was tantamount to a sleep-deprivation experiment. Last night reminded me of it.

Then when I awoke (S goes to work at six these days) I was confronted by a row of Georgia O'Keefe prints.

Seriously: enough with the vagina.

Various Failures

I fear my outfit is not wholly successful. I am wearing skinny jeans, high boots, a sort of navy cashmere tunic. So far so good, you're saying, but imagine if you will a striped silk scarf draped around my neck and anchored by a thin belt with a minute turtle closure. Hm, I thought so.

So, the other day, Mike, 'the one who speaks perfect English' and my landlord's henchman, showed up at my door and demanded payment on electric.

'You haven't paid it since you moved in,' he accused.

'Well, I've never seen a bill,' I pointed out.

He informed me that I owed $150 a month, a total of $600.

'That seems very high,' I ventured, wondering if I'd been covertly running a doll factory, in my sleep, for the past four months.

'Don't it?' he replied enigmatically, and disappeared.

A few hours later, he said he'd meant $50. So I paid it. And yes, I probably should have demanded to see a bill with a breakdown. Well, I 'should' do a lot of things. I 'should' fix my toilet so that in order to flush it you don't need to plunge your hand into the freezing water of the tank. I 'should' cash my paychecks. I 'should' take my psychiatric medication. Well, if wishes were trees.

As re my recent nightmare, I called my mom to see if she had in fact poisoned my dad's seltzer with NH3. She said that, on the contrary, she was making him the salt cod gratin from Bistro Cooking, and the recipe made so much that she was saving me half.

"Well, that's a fine kettle of fish!" I expostulated. "I have my own pound of salt cod soaking in the refrigerator as we speak!"

She did suggest, though, that the nightmare had probably been suggested by the fact that she and my dad had been watching 'Notorious' that evening.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Damn you.

I wish I knew how to make The Petite Sophisticate look extremely beautiful.

I took a whole bunch of cheesecake shots of Slim the other day for this calendar he's in; we took 53, the one constant being him, naked, on the couch, with a Financial Times across his lap. He was also very adamant that this wine bottle with a rose in it be in the frame. Basically, the whole production was a Kenneth Branagh-like exercise in narcissism, in which he'd pose, I'd take the picture, he'd look at the camera and tell me to adjust the blinds or something, and we'd take it from the top.

(I am not very photogenic. Actually, I'm just not that good-looking.)

This Week's Social Calendar

It's full, full to bursting.

The highlight will of course be the Brooklyn Supper Club, which is having its second meeting at my house on Thursday. The theme: 80's Yuppie Dinner Party. Everything has to come from Silver Palate or SP Good Times.

The hostess makes the main, so obviously it's Chicken Marbella. People seem to like their dishes to be suprises (which resulted in 2 Green Bean Bakes at the '60's Pot Luck ' dinner), but I've heard rumblings about Grand Marnier, pesto and, of course, raspberry vinegar.

Gotta devote my few remaining faculties to decor and soundtrack. Thinking, respectively: swags and jazz.

As ever -

Or, What Was It?

As it turned out, the shoe was on quite the other foot. Quite the other foot. I awoke from a nightmare about 4 am (my mother was putting ammonia in my dad's seltzer and I didn't stop her and then I couldn't reach 911...)and on my way back from the restroom (note: refer to exclusively as 'restroom' from now on)found Slim, obviously stone dead, standing against the wall with a piece of banana bread in his hand. My scream woke him, though.

In other news of boyfriends, had a very troubling little 2-hour talk with GK4 (yes, my former fiance) last night. Read me a (long) excerpt from a (long) letter containing a (long) quote from "Ash Wednesday," which he'd sent to a girl with whom he's obsessed following 2 dates, in which he made her cry twice and talked A LOT about his views on treason (hint: they're punitive. And immoderate. He really wanted John Walker Lindh to get the chair.) Was discouraged from writing her again/sending her perfume. I hope he finds the love he deserves and can step back from the brink of madness, as I can tell him with authority it's not a terribly fun place to be.

Jesus wept. Or, I did, anyhow.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I smell gas

And in Greenpoint, all things are possible. Especially as I just paid gas and electric. Perhaps the landlord was so thrilled by my check that he decided to gas me to death. Well, everyone knows it's not a bad way to go.

I don't have a Miracle Pet to save my life, but Slim will eventually come back from a show in Williamsburg in a few hours to find me stone dead.

My life is an open book. Self-published.

So, when we were in San Francisco, Slim and I stayed with this friend of his who in turn sublets from a middle-aged lesbian of the old school. The place was stunning, even if we were holed up in this attic space where he couldn't stand up, accessible only by a treacherous ladder. Further, we were perpetually menaced by the elderly dog, malcolm, who could be distracted by a Kraft single just long enough to buy us time to climb the ladder. He also took a major chunk out of my left thumb. (I am now rabid.)

The dog, the lesbian explained, was upset by the presence of a man in the house. Before I showed up, she was laboring under the pleasant delusion that Slim was gay, an impression cemented by the Greek sailor's cap he purchased in the Marina and has taken to wearing incessantly. When it became clear that he was in fact a member of the Patriarchy, things took a decided turn for the worse and she took to glaring at him belligerently whenever they crossed paths. (She was particularly revolted to find him returniing from the shower one day, in boxers.)

Me, however, she quite liked. On our third day there, she happened to walk in on me (why I don't know, since I repeatedly shouted, 'I'm up here!' and 'just a sec!' as I heard her mounting the ladder) in my skivvies. (Well, this kind of brief jersey romper, which I am in fact wearing right now.) After that, she decided I was 'adorable' and 'charming' and took to gazing at me and saying things like, 'do you love to dance? I could tell by the way you move.' (I didn't have the heart to tell her that I just kind of jerk around spasmodically, like Ian Curtis. Or maybe that's how I move, and that's what she meant. Anyway, I don't know that I love it.)

After about a week, she told me that I could stay, but Slim had to go. So we went to stay with another friend-of-a-friend. As we were going to meet up with him for the keys (for some reason, in a bar), Slim said, 'we were actually supposed to be here four hours ago, so be extra charming.' I tried to be, even though the guy was super lame and kept making comments about how grotesque my glasses were, and drunkenly ripping them off my face. This was all very well, as I thought he was gay, but then it turned out he wasn't gay - or, at any rate, started bringing up being straight vry aggressively in the way closeted/seemingly gay men do; rather the way some of us try to work into conversations that we have boyfriends, so someone doesn't get the wrong idea, and it's always very forced and awkward.

I hate San Francisco.

And the bite still hurts.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My god. My god. Late to see my feelings doctor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


So, Slim and I had the biggest fight ever the other day. I wrote him a letter explaining my position. Here is an excert:

"You may argue otherwise; I do genuinely believe you have major boundary issues when it comes to friends/lovers, can make these transitions easily, and don’t realize that not everyone is the same way. But I find it hard to believe that she would expect such a gesture of you or, frankly, find it anything but bizarre. (Remember, you thought before you broke up with her that she ‘understood’ how things stood, and clearly you were not on the same page. I bring this up not out of solicitude for her beyond the general, but rather to establish further how wholly willful this whim is.) (...)If I wanted to think the worst of you, I would say that your behavior, your willful insistence on not being dictated to, was hopelessly cruel. I pay you the compliment of realizing there’s actually something missing with you that allows you to ignore all the dictates of decency and common sense. "

Bet you wish you were my boyfriend! Oh yeah, and the letter is EPIC.

Yes, yes, obviously everything is okay now. I may or may not have thrown my glasses across the room and ground them under my heel in a passion of rage; but that's all over and there's nothing but a little hairline crack on the left frame to show for it. Incidentally, in the course of the fight I still managed to turn out a very creditable batch of marmalade.

Venus in Furs

Happy Hannukah.

I went out for the Post this morning in pajamas and a mink. That's right - M.I.N.K. I think fur softens the face, don't you? Oh, definitely.

Bought the world's tiniest, most dolly-sized menorah today at Winn Discount. Is very cunning. Feel like a Maccabee.

Based on the outrageous true story.


This is a rant:

I first became aware of my nemesis, the Amazing Girl, around the age of fifteen. Well, of one in particular: Anne Weinstock. An ethereal creature who wore scarves on her head and layers of shabby sweaters over her slender frame, Anne worked in clay, made vague, emotional statements of feeling in class, wept, and – perhaps her defining characteristic --referred to many, many things as "amazing."
Then there was her other defining characteristic. From the moment she transferred to our high school, boys worshipped her, and she moved from boyfriend to boyfriend with callousness obliviousness, cleaving to the next one with the same sensitive rapture that she'd shown the last.
Her appeal was, I could see, elemental. It was horribly depressing.
Once I started looking for them, I could see that Amazing Girls were everywhere.
Backpacking through South America, smoking hash with locals; reading Sylvia Plath in the park; earnestly worshipping Frida Kahlo in museums; dancing barefoot in the rain everywhere. While many are hippies, they are not all, by any means. They come in all nationalities, all shapes and sizes, from earth mother to ethereal. Some are insipid, others lively, some bisexual and others not, some vegan and some merely vegetarian.
But to them all there is a certain underlying sameness. All are vaguely creative, all sort of political, all sweet and kind and sympathetic and all lacking in any critical judgment whatsoever. Indeed, a lack of harsh judgment might be called the central tenet of their sisterhood, and perhaps a key to their particular magic.
To girls like me – sharp, mean, opinionated, decidedly lacking in mystery – they are a despair. Normal women cannot compete with Amazing Girls. We lack the mystique, the ready sympathy, the soul. They're twice as threatening as any bombshell, for they promise great depth. Supportive and uncritical in a way no one with any judgment can be, they also offer a famed flexibility towards traditional commitment, and the promise of utter sexual abandon. "Vice, Virtue. It's best not to be too moral." declares the definitive old Amazing Girl, Maude of Harold and fame – a favorite of every Amazing Girl. "You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you're bound to live life fully." Indeed.
"Above all," wrote Joan Didion of Ur-Amazing Girl Joan Baez," she is the girl who "feels" things, who has hung onto the freshness and pain of adolescence, the girl ever wounded, ever young."
Sinclair Lewis captures it perfectly in Main Street’s description of the 1920s varietal: “Every cell of her body was alive – thin wrists, quince-blossom skin, black hair…a fragile child who must be cloaked with understanding kindness. “Psychic,” the girls whispered, and “spiritual.” Yet so radioactive were her nerves, so adventurous her trust in rather vaguely constructed sweetness and light. A girl on a hilltop…credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth!”
I began to keep lists of famous Amazing Girls: Joan Baez and Judy Collins, of course, but also Anais Nin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Miranda July, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Edie Sedgwick, Caroline Blackwood,Vanessa Bell --to say nothing of Rima.( “So vivid was the image left on my brain that she still seemed to be actually before my eyes; and she was not there, nor had been, for she was a dream, an illusion, and no such being existed, or could exist, in this gross world: and at the same time I know that she had been there – that imagination was powerless to conjure up a form so exquisite.” )
Then one day, while staring at Vermeer's “Young Woman with a Water Pitcher” on an excursion to the Met, I had a horrible revelation: an amazing girl! And not just her, either! I thought of all the youthful poets and composers I knew, swooning after the vacant-eyed waifs who sat, chin on knees, gazing up at them at parties, nodding understandingly, breathing "amazing...” then leaping up to dance, abandoned, when someone's band started to play. Surely Raphael had been just as susceptible. The Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Nude Descending Staircase, the subject of every famous painting, poem, and piece of music -- they had all been Amazing Girls. I was as sure of it as I'd ever been of anything in my life -- Amazing Girls are and always have been the world's muses.
The career of an English major at a liberal arts college is littered with Amazing Girls in all their incarnations. Of course, college is their natural breeding ground. It is where they bloom and flourish, come into their own, staring up adoringly at professors and entrancing earnest young poets. They perform modern dances and read their original short stories. They hold forth in class, presuming emotion and feeling a more than worthy substitute for the harshness of fact.
It was infuriating to behold. The most attractive boys, otherwise rational creatures, worshipped them. Worse still, because Amazing Girls, by doing nothing but look sensitive, fit everyone’s idea of an artist, they were treated as such for doing nothing but sleeping with them! How had groupie-ism become such a talent?
“Primarily you belong to a special type, a special race of women,” D.H. Lawrence wrote to the mediocre muse, Ottoline Morrell. “Like Cassandra, and some of the great women saints. They were the great media of truth, of the deepest truth: through them…the truth came – as through a fissure from the depths and the burning darkness that lies out of the depth of time.”
“Like a wild and wise animal," rhapsodized Max Eastman of Isadora Duncan, “she fled from those who sought to capture the essence of her — which was motion — by making her stand still.”
Meanwhile, the promiscuous Edna St. Vincent Millay was, “a spokesman for the human spirit....with an intoxicating effect on people," according to Edmund Wilson, who further observed that this particular charm led many a man “to feel…he had found his mate.”
The world, women-wise, being divided into two camps, my friends – mostly of the wise-cracking girl-Friday school -- recognized the phenomenon immediately, and seized upon it with rage and excitement.
"The girls who hug all the time," said one friend eagerly.
"My yoga instructor," added another.
"Greg's new girlfriend," sighed a third sadly, referring to her ex-boyfriend, a struggling musician ripe for AG picking.
My male friends, of course, had no idea. To humor me, they’d pretend to despise them, and then likely as not show up a week later with Amazing Girls on their arms.
While the 1960s were a golden age for the Amazing Girl, it seems clear to me, after much consideration, that the 18th century provided one important model: the Romantics' ideal of the pure and naturally innocent woman, a creature morally inferior to men but capable of spiritual perfection -- in short, a childlike vessel for the projection of masculine ideals. Wordsworth’s Lucy, dying in romantic perfection; Byron’s muse walking in beauty, like the night –
“And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!”

Goethe is a particular offender in this regard, draping the unremarkable Charlotte in laurels such that, “... - When I have been with her for two or three hours, entranced by her ways and the divine expressiveness of her words, and my senses gradually become excited, my sight grows dim.”
Of course, the poets of our own age are just as bad – from Bob Dylan’s vacant muses, wearing their sparkling Egyptian rings and breaking just like little girls, to the free spirits who masquerade as “ruby-throated sparrows” and go around dancing in the sand.
Mystery is the Amazing Girl’s musical hallmark. “She would never say where she came from …who can pin a name on you?” warble the entranced Rolling Stones.
“Who can know the thoughts of Mary Jane?” wonders Nick Drake.
Literature gives us Murakami’s mysteriously vanishing muses, empty vessel Griet of the pearl earring, and the particularly infuriating Theodore Roethke poem: “I knew a woman, lovely in her bones.”
Of course, they’re movie staples, Amazing Girls -- changing people’s lives, teaching the uptight to live, spreading sunshine. Penny Lane, Almost Famous’s luminous groupie; Natasha Wagner’s wide-eyed rock critic in High Fidelity, or Natalie Portman’s grotesquely adorable “Sam” in Garden State (“This song will change your life, I swear.”)
By the time the latter film made its appearance, Amazing Girls had become an obsession with me. I was not sure how, but I was certain the Amazing Girl was a very important cultural phenomenon. I talked about it endlessly. I discussed it in my thesis (title: “Amazing Girls: Or, on the frustrations of not being a muse.”) When asked to contribute a short story to a friend’s literary magazine, I discussed Joyce Carol Oates’s (admittedly speculative) hatred of Amazing Girls. (“ What she had termed ‘Amazing Girls’ had become something of an obsession with her. In her organized fashion, she had long since started a file on them. Oh, how she hated those blank-eyed children!”) The story was deemed autobiographical.
After a few years, there was some feeling that my interest had gotten out of hand. Fewer and fewer of my friends were willing to share in my indignation, to attend my film festivals, to discuss the Amazing Girl’s cultural significance in the Renaissance. I made a conscious effort to talk about it less, to avoid Young Woman with a Pitcher, to sit though Harold and Maude with a placid smile and keep my mouth shut when my brother showed up one Thanksgiving with Sascha, an ethereal vegan from San Francisco.
Then, not long ago, at the Whole Foods in Union Square, I ran into the original Amazing Girl, Anne Weinstock. She looked just the same – scarf on hair, several layers of ragged sweaters, a faraway look in her eye. She was, she told me vaguely, “an artist.” She was living with a sculptor. She pronounced the mediocre specifics of my own life “amazing” and hugged me before we parted.
Watching her walk away, I felt suffused with guilt. She was so nice, so sincere, so nonjudgmental! I had spent so many years resenting someone completely innocuous. I made a spontaneous resolve to change my ways – to approach my life with the openness and enthusiasm of an Amazing Girl. Then, as Anne’s slender frame disappeared down the Grains aisle, I saw several young men look after her yearningly. My heart hardened. I held a film festival that night.

Lightweight Foreign Legion Comedy in early color process!

“Here’s one for you,” the driver said as soon as the taxi door had closed. “If you’re standing in a house, and every window faces south, what color bear are you looking at?”
I was caught off guard; it seemed to me late in the day for riddling. The last time I’d taken a cab, the driver (who had grown up in an orphanage, was getting into amateur theatrics and whose comedic work had been compared to that of Art Carney) had asked me to name the five flags that had flown over Texas. Which I did. But that had been early morning -- I had been chipper, punchy, full of beans.
I stifled a sigh and marshaled my meager resources.
If you’re standing in a house, and every window faces south, what color bear are you looking at?
I know next to nothing about geography, but it seemed clear that the riddle dealt with a geographically anomalous zone. Probably a pole. Which meant…
“A polar bear?” I suggested.
“What color bear?” he repeated, clearly disappointed.
“Oh. White.” I said. He sighed, deflated.
“Yes.” He said, and we drove in silence for a few minutes.
“What have you eaten in the way of exotic meats?” he asked after a while.
“Let’s see,” I said thoughtfully. “Ostrich, alligator, elk, bison…I guess venison doesn’t count, does it?”
“Oh, it counts all right,” he said with suppressed violence. “I count it. So you’ve never had bear? Moose? Bear?!”
“No,” I said. “Is it good?”
“Bear?” he barked. “It’s the worst damn thing I’ve ever tasted! That is,” he amended. “Grizzly bear is. Tasted like it was raised on garbage. Brown bear, now, isn’t so bad. It’s greasy, of course, but I grilled it up and it wasn’t so bad. You have to grill bear,” he added instructively.
“I guess Indians ate a lot of bear,” I ventured.
“You bet!” he said. “You bet they did! I’ve had lots of animals. Squirrel, muskrat, bear, elk, bison….oh, just about everything you can eat, I guess.”
“Raccoon?” I asked.
“No, I’ve never had raccoon.” He sounded deflated again.
“Well, talk about tasting like garbage!” I said helpfully.
“You’ve had raccoon meat?” he asked resentfully.
“Well, no, but I see what they eat. The raccoons get into our garbage all the time. Do you hunt?”
“No, I don’t. The fishing shop where I buy tackle sells exotic meats. I tell them, ‘I’ll try whatever you get in!’ And they save some for me.”
“Oh. Well, you certainly have had a lot of meats,” I said. We lapsed into silence again.
“Ever had whale?” I said after a while.
“No,” he admitted, “but I have a friend who has,” he added hastily. “It’s illegal to eat it, but he used to eat it when he was a kid. Said it’s tasty – firm, like tuna, you know? A little rubbery.”
“That sounds about right,” I said. “I guess once the blubber’s been scraped off, it’s really fairly lean.”
“Maybe,” he said.
I wondered about grilling whale. I was hungry.
“I’ve been cooking a lot these days,” he volunteered.
“Do you enjoy it?” I said.
“Well, I don’t have much choice,” he said. “My wife passed away six months ago. I was doing the cooking, the housework, for about six months before that, too. I like it all right now. I’m experimenting a little bit, now.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Yeah, well,” he said. There was a prolonged silence.
“Did your wife …enjoy different meats?” I said tentatively.
“She liked the venison,” he said, “and she ate, you know, beef and chicken. Veal. I think she tried the wild turkey. She wouldn’t try the bear, though.”
“From what you tell me,” I said generously, “that was a smart move!”
“What?” he said blankly.
“Not eating bear,” I clarified. “You said it tasted like garbage.”
“I said grizzly bear tasted like garbage,” he said.
“I hear you can get meats now on the internet – clubs, that send you different kinds.” He told me as we pulled off the parkway. “I’d do it if I were you. Nice to get something in the mail. My wife used to order from…Home Shopping Network. QVC. Dolls, all kinds of things. You know?”
“I do,” I said.
“A doll came in the mail yesterday,” he said. “Real fancy. Lace, pearls, everything. I thought it was meat for a second there,” he added. “But it was a doll. Nice to get packages, you know?”
“’Brown paper packages, tied up with string,’” I ventured lamely. He ignored me.
“Gives you a little something to look forward to,” he said.

When I arrived at the reading the bookstore was almost full. I could see Adam Rothstein Kurtin, the wunderkind author, milling around near the podium, talking to some organizers. I craned my neck to get a look at the crowd, and waved and smiled to a couple of college literati I knew and one very earnest girl in my Shakespearean Theory class. Lots of late-middle aged neighborhood types carrying library tote bags, a few professors.
Adam Rothstein Kurtin was small. He was wearing a dark suit. I studied him covertly, wondering idly if I could get him to fall in love with me. Adam Rothstein Kurtin went to the podium then, smiled in an ingratiating fashion and started talking in a rather urbane way.
“So, the publisher gave me all these shirts,” he said in a self-deprecating way, displaying a tee shirt with “Little Circles” written on it and the words “A masterpiece!” in quotations.
“Obviously, I can’t wear this,” he said, indicating the quotation to general laughter, “so I’m trying to think of creative ways to get rid of them. Here’s the deal: if anyone asks me a question I refuse to answer, you get a shirt. I give you fair warning, this has only happened twice – but there are things I won’t talk about!”
Well, that wouldn’t be too hard, I thought irritably. He probably won’t talk about how much money he’s made, or something. And maybe his love life. But who wants that ridiculous shirt, anyway? In the grand tradition of free shirts, they were all enormous.
“So, I’m going to read a little bit for you,” he said, “but only a little bit, and then we’ll talk – that’s what I really enjoy.”
He read three very long passages: a funny part, a sad/ heartwarming part and some other part of indeterminate characterization. His reading was only okay, not how I’d imagined it when I read Little Circles. I was reminded afresh of what I thought didn’t work about the book.
“I just sort of put in the humorous part to entertain people – it’s not really where my heart is,” he parenthesized at one point. What nonsense, I thought. The funny parts were the best thing in the book. The rest of it, while written with technical skill, seemed to me trite and easy. It was pre-approved morality and flights of courage that might have been courageous and taboo fifty years ago, but had been the currency of sentiment for as long as I’d been around.
When he had finished reading, everyone applauded and some hands shot up immediately. An elderly woman asked something about his approach to his craft.
“I regard writing merely as a means of transport,” he said. “The process of writing is to me incidental. The vessel, as it were. It could be painting, or acting, or any form of self-expression. The point is to reach the destination of moral clarity.”
The girl from my Shakespeare class, quivering with earnestness, demanded to know whether he regarded his work as meta-fiction, and what were his opinions of meta-fiction as a genre?
He responded with, I thought, inappropriate irritation.
“My work is not meta-fiction,” he replied coldly. “And I don’t feel competent to comment on meta-fiction.” He turned his attention away abruptly, and the girl looked crushed.
“The cover of your book looks like the Yin and the Yang,” said a moron. “Is it supposed to look like that, and what are your opinions of eastern philosophy, and what do you think about world peace in our lifetime?”
He laughed a little bit, but more at the enormity of the question than its stupidity. No, the cover had not been intended to evoke the Yin and the yang, but he liked that people could see different things in it. He was no student of eastern philosophy, but he found it fascinating and hoped to get into it in a big way. He couldn’t predict world peace with any kind of authority (and this government was doing its best to prevent it – applause), but he devotedly hoped that with mutual understanding and respect things could improve, and such-and-such an author had just written an amazing anti-war tract we should check out. He was much nicer than he had been about the meta-fiction question, and I was annoyed. Really annoyed. In fact, I hated him. My hand shot up.
“You, in the glasses,” he said, pointing to me.
“Building off of the last question,” I said coolly, and wishing he hadn’t referred to me that way, “If you’re standing in a house, and every window is facing south….what color bear are you looking at?”
“Excuse me?” he said blankly.
“If you’re standing in a house, and every room faces south,” I said more loudly, beginning to feel an ass, but brazening it out, “what color bear are you looking at?!”
“What color bear…?” he said again. There was silence.
“Give her the shirt!” someone shouted, and several voices added their endorsement.
“No, hang on,” he said. (“Give her the shirt!” said the same voice.) “I said questions I wouldn’t answer, not riddles that stumped me.”
“All right, what color bear?” he finally asked, in irritation. A bunch of people shouted “white!” and I didn’t have to say anything. I tried to look jaunty.
The worst part, of course, was that I’d already bought my book, and I figured I had to get it signed for my friend David, a Little Circles enthusiast. My tension mounted as the line shortened. When it was my turn, I handed him the book and said, “to David, please.” At least he would know it wasn’t for me! Adam Rothstein Kurtin bent his head over the book, and he looked very young.
“I…I’m sorry about that bear question,” I said timidly.
“That’s okay,” he muttered, without looking up.
It was very clear he was not in love with me. Now I was broke, and I took the bus home.
In addition to an irritating and suspect inability to "metabolize" orange juice, my current boyfriend is possessed of a vaguely sinister, saturnine grin.
In addition to an irritating and suspect inability to "metabolize" orange juice, my current boyfriend is possessed of a vaguely sinister, saturnine grin.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Liveblogging from NWK

Not sure that's actually Newark's code, but close enough. It's 5:15 now; my car came at 4; I'm a little bleary. I paid for some kind of airport pay-as-you-go plan so as to download a few 'Friday Night Lights' episodes for the flight, and might as well get a little mileage, (unintended but I'll let it go.) Nothing's open yet; there's this amazing cereal bar that opens at six, where (the menu tells me) they do custom blends of cereals! There's a list of "customer favorites" and there's this "Very Berry" deal that combines Fruit Loops, Cap'n Crunch Berry, and dried berries, to good effect one imagines. Anyway, I'm going to try it.

The reason I got here so early: I just have that expired 12-year-old Learner's Permit by way of ID, which means extra security plus a few forms. I'm starting to own the horribleness of the picture though, in which I resemble a nine-year-old troll and which neatly substantiates my teen-ugly-duckling claims.

I had all kinds of elaborate plans for getting the apt spick and packing efficiently, but a very trying extra hour at work (confidentiality, sadly) threw my plans off with a bang, and I was forced to eat both the steak sandwiches I'd packed by, well, five a.m. Besides the ID shenanigans, forgot about the little matter of suitcases and was forced to choose between one of the two vintage Lady baltimore hunter green suitcases which serve as my TV stand: a mammoth 2x4 deal filled with Christmas decorations, or a diminutive overnight case quite inadequate to the demands of a week's trip in sweater weather. Went with the latter; sat on it; it will most certainly pop open at some point in transit. However, will be unmistakable on the baggage carousel. Still, like the small scale of my arrangements.

Slim texted me some directions to the place, where I've been told to ascend to the garret and immediately ply some dog called Malcolm with a piece of cheese. I don't have a piece of cheese, but I guess I can find one before I arrive. The key is under a sandollar by a yellow flower in the third window box. In case you were wondering.

(Download progressing well, but it'll be close, for sure. I really, really don't want to have to fall back on this Iris Murdoch novel I'm plowing through, full of arid dialogues and remote interrelationships between asexual persons.)

Turns out Eloise will be in California, too, assisting with the olive harvest. So this weekend I'm going to join them in the groves and hopefully get a little EVOO out of the business.

Really want this cereal bar to open.

I was very difficult the other night and attempted a breakup. The attempt was rebuffed, and Slim very sweetly suggested we get married so he could support me, which is really neither here nor there. The whole thing gave him terrible dreams. Must be very good this week. He has some nice things planned. Hoping one of the nice things isn't some kind of surprise wedding - always possible with him. Not that I wouldn't do it, just to be a good sport. And my calendar's not that full, either.


Gossip Girl

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Because I work on weekends, my news is rather less glamorous than one might hope. I got up early in order to turn the (newly scoured) apartment over to the landlord and co. When they'd failed to materialize by ten-thirty, I hied me down to the basement apartment and rapped smartly on the door. This was in due course opened by a mammoth gentleman (they're all kind of mammoth and weather-beaten) who informed me that they'd all done "too much drinking lat night" to allow for any work; and that he was Joe ('I'm the one who speaks perfect English'), works the door at a club called 'the Fireplace' and that I should go by this weekend, because he'll hook me up because everyone in this building "is like family."

The building, fyi, contains the landlord, an Iraq vet called Bonecrusher, and the Polish family upstairs, who have a little dog with an extensive wardrobe of sweaters and coats. Oh, and me. Because I don't speak Polish, my contact with everyone's pretty limited. Well, I guess Bonecrusher's English is pretty good, but the landlord told me when I first moved in that combat drove him crazy. He's home all the time and watches TV non-stop. Sometimes I see him in the hall and we hug; I've brought him cookies a few times. Oh, and occasionally the family upstairs drops things off their washline onto my little deck. After an unfortunate incident in which the daughter walked in on Slim drinking coffee naked (inevitable; he's naked a great deal of the time, being from California), we devised a system in which we put anything of theirs in a basket in the hall.

There's a party tonight, but my apartment is so lovely and clean; and I'm too tired to brazen out being a shopgirl tonight and act like some kind of z-list 'it' girl and put on an outfit besides. I did all that stuff last week.

There's a meat recall on; good thing I just had frozen peas and canned tomatoes for dinner! oh, and a Kozy Shack. Shak? Inquiring minds want to know. Oh, and apparently the Big Apple Circus is back in town.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Well, now it's three plus months later. In the intervening period, I've embarked, rather against my will, on a relationship with a thoroughly unsuitable boy. (That same cheapskate.) I'm sure his lack of respectability will become manifest in the coming days - for now, suffice it to say that I have major qualms about the whole endeavor. To say nothing about having become the creepiest sort of serial monogamist.

I live in Greenpoint now, with the ever-present threat of pogrom hanging over me, Damocles-sword-style. The landlord (who has a decidedly rapey air) informed me this a.m. that he "needs access to my apartment" tomorrow morning. I must obviously give things a thorough clean. Luckily, have strung a large length of bark cloth across the entrance to the "bedroom" nook, affording me some minimal privacy. Why have I never seen an electric bill, by the way?

Guess where I am now? Cafe Grumpy. Besides having a really gruckimish name, Cafe Grumpy is the closest spot with IT. It's big and airy, has a book exchange and hawks patrons' art. Music's kinda all over the place, too. Not really my scene (as we say), but it's the setting for more than its share of Missed Connections and I'm angling for one. I've been making eyes like crazy but a quick check of Craig's List has returned no dice for either "Cafe Grumpy' or "Glasses." While we're on the subject, how come no one in the waiing room at my shrink's office will ever meet my eyes in a conspiratorial fashion? I'm forever twinkling at people.

('I Walk the Line' is playing now. I hope Slim is being true to me in San Francisco. I daresay; he is a rascal, but very good-hearted. Well, now that we've established that we're not in an open relationship, anyway. Which I thought was fairly obvious but which his father described as a "classic error of judgment" on his son's part. Anyway, I got a funeral's worth of flowers out of it, plus the loss of three lbs in tear weight, give or take. But that was some time ago. Some day I'll tell you about it. Gosh, we have a lot to catch up on! Did I mention that GK4 (my former fiance) and I are simpatico again? Or that British David has moved here for the nonce? Readers of my Paris blog will doubtless rejoice.)

I got a haircut yesterday. (Must remember to change my facebook status to 'is newly shorn' although in fact trimmed and shaped is more accurate.) Monica, the hairdresser, does a terrific job, even if Maeve thinks she was born a man. (I don't think so. Maeve is my brother's flame and a good friend besides.) I learned two things about Monica yesterday: 1. she was married before. 2. she loves Nascar. She and her boyfriend went down to Georgia, devil-fashion, so's he could be grand marshal of a race. (I wasn't clear on a lot of details, but that's okay.)

I just took an antidepressant. Delicious!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Maid in Manhattan

Okay, Brooklyn, but whatever.

So I hired a cleaning service to get the sublet spick and span before Anita comes back on Sunday, and this maid has turned out to be a major pain in my ass.

She's now in her (pay-by-the) fifth hour of cleaning, and has done 1 room. When I went down to open the door for her, she eyed the five flights askance and announced that she wouldn't be able to carry her suitcase of supplies upstairs. So I did it. And yes, it weighed like 20 pounds. Good thing, though, as I still made it five minutes ahead of her, and she was wheezing and winded by the time she made it.

"Are you going to the store?" she asked me after about an hour.

"Why, do you need me to get you something?" I asked, thinking she needed some cleaning supplies or something.

"Yeah, a slice of cheese pizza and a soda," she said.

"Um, okay," I said, with a sinking feeling.

"And when you get the pizza, make sure to put on plenty of hot pepper. And cheese. And oregano. And garlic.

"So, all the toppings," I summarized. "Okay. And what kind of soda?"

She specified Pepsi. And lunched, one assumes on the clock. Certainly on my dime.

"Do you smoke cigarettes?" she demanded after another hour.

"Why, do you want one?" I asked. "I have Camel Lights."

"I only smoke Menthols," she said. "Here's three dollars. Get me a lucy of Newports. It's my birthday."

I forebore mentioning that it's hard to come by "lucys" of anything outside of Europe or neighborhoods full of black people, and dutifully fetched the cigarettes. And a cupcake, since it's her birthday.

Now she's eating and smoking. And we're listening to KissFM.

Do I still have to tip her? Is $40 enough?

Love Actually

Well, not 'love' exactly, but certainly love life. I've been seeing a little bit of a guy who's very caught up in Confederate-General-in-Big-Sur-style schemes, which I can get behind. At first his cheapness irritated me, but then I got totally into it and we had the cheapest date ever the other day: a sixpack of PBR and $4 worth of fried dumplings in that park in Chinatown where all the old men play Go. We have agreed that we are both too raw to want to be in a relationship, which my friend Mike describes as 'a level of emotional maturity I can't relate to at all.' Since most of his 'relationships' seem to involve chicks he picks up at the laundromat, and since he was dressed like some kind of Israeli on vacation when he said it, I'm not surprised.

He has given me very good life advice, though. We've agreed I need to tone down my sharpness when meeting men.

"Well, at least I'm never boring," I said.
"Yeah, that's never really been a priority for me," he replied.


"I couldn't be friends with someone who didn't despise himself, at least a little."

Richard used to say that. I'm calling him 'Richard' now, exclusively. It's a little confusing, when I say something like, 'Richard and I used to go there..." or, "When Richard and I were in London..." in a way that's not at all bitter.

In retrospect, maybe it was a red flag, his love for the self-loathing. Hind-sight, as they say, is 20/20. But then, I don't even know what my real prescription is, only that the left eye is so much worse than the right that when anyone tries on my glasses they always scream and make a big deal out of it. In fact, whenever anyone wants to try them on (which they do, a lot, because the frames are so huge) I have to institute the condition, "only if you promise not to scream about how bad my eyes are. It's the contrast between the two that's so dramatic." And then they agree, but they always exclaim anyway. I guess it must be fairly dramatic. I don't know. I have no head for numbers.

I also don't like loaning my glasses out because the lenses are generally filthy. I don't know why; it seems to me I rub them on my skirt about twenty times a day. Richard said I touch the glass when I push them up the bridge of my nose, and I suppose my fingers tend to have a lot of butter on them, just as my buttons are always loose and my blouses stained and my heels worn and my shoes scuffed within hours of buying them. I've learned not to bother buying myself anything really good; the violence of my possession is very democratic. I can destroy a $500 dress as easily as I can something cheap from a teen store, and with remarkable dispatch. I have a certain tendency to throw things onto the floor, even if they're brand new and very fine. That's no comment on the garments; somehow I need to degrade things in order to feel comfortable with them, I suppose. It's not just clothes, either: books are grubby and tattered; CDs scratched beyond recognition, if not cracked;jewelry broken; any manicure is destroyed within moments. This last is mostly beacuse I need to root around in my purse quite a bit to find anything, and that's sort of the epicenter of the chaos, a sort of morass of junk and papers which is all covered with a mysterious and uniform layer of grime. "An ancient steak, a cactus, and a parliament of fowls," Richard would say.

Ar first people are amused by the chaos of my purse and the execrable condition of bills in my wallet, but I hate it about myself. It's impossible to fight the chaos; it's my natural state; but it's hard to live with, really. When I saw the therapist, she said it was to compensate for the rigid control I imposed on the rest of my life, the wages of being a "people pleaser," which left my muscles bunched with tension, my head pounding, and my body aching with exhaustion every night. I liked that theory, but as I was pretty sure she was an idiot, and had a lot of Joy-of-Sex style women's tomes in her waiting room, I didn't take it much to heart.

I always suspected that the therapist thought I was sexually repressed, and that this was the great issue. She also worried about my self-image.

"Well," I told her early on, "I guess if I had to put it into words, I think of myself as being like a dwarf. A hunchbacked dwarf. Syphilitic, with one of those silver noses."

"Well, most of these people are extremely conventional and not very smart," said my father afterwards. "Did you try to make her laugh?"

I said I had.

"I always did that, too. Once I sang the lyrics "Dog food is the king" to the tune of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." We are not a family that is easily understood."

Brevity is the soul of wit, said the petticoat to the camisole

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Kind of petty: told the owner of the local pizzeria about what gk4 (his real name, sorta) did, and Anthony declared that he is no longer welcome there. Couldn't resist including this information in an email which ostensibly dealt with the few remaining logistic loose ends of our relationship. Know full well it'll cut him to the quick. I feel like a worm, although I guess some scorned babes are more psychotic still.

Full, hot day: after we woke up, got a coffee at d'Amico and walked Court Street. Then took the subway to the Strand, did a little walking tour of the village (more on this later), had a burger at Corner Bistro, went to the Merchant's House Museum, walked the East Village, watched soccer for an hour, watched the beginning of the Met game at Tom and Jerry, met Raha and Tom for Vietnamese, had a cocktail at Milk and Honey (more on this later), and then came home by way of the Community Bookstore, where I bought 2 Graham Greenes, plus The Artist's Way, because Liz had just been telling me to "even if it sounds cheesy" and there was a used copy right by the register. The fridge was fixed, but the landlady (more likely her brother) had taken the liberty of closing all the windows and gates. No doubt I'll get holy heck from them about it, plus it was like an oven when we walked in.

Postcard from Eloise, featuring illustration of Warm Springs, VA:

"Just had a lovely soak in this 18th c. bathhouse that T. Jefferson built in the lukewarm, rather sulfurous water. Sadly, drinking the water is no longer encouraged. By FAR the best part of the experience were the modest bathing dresses issued by a rather mammy-ish woman: cotton calico, cheerfully patterned and adorned with rick-rack and a single button fastening on the shoulder! Inexplicably, NONE of the women in the Ladies' Bathhouse had chosen to wear this darling garment, and were attired in bikinis instead! Fortunately a large group of probable female Civil War enthusiasts arrived and gamely put them on, so I was no longer alone in my modesty. James reported that the atmosphere in the Men's Batthouse was decidedly SEEDIER and that were were some definite lurkers/oglers of the type more commonly associated with batthouses..."

At the top is a little illustration, labeled "Modest Bathing Costume."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Alone Again (Naturally)

In a little while from now,
If I'm not feeling any less sour.
I promised myself, to treat myself,
And visit a nearby tower ..........
And climbing to the top,
Would throw myself off,
In an effort to, make clear to whoever,
What it's like when your shattered .......
Left standing in a lurch,
In a church with people saying .....
My God, that's tough, she stood him up,
No point in us remaining .......
I may as well go home,
As I did on my own,
Alone again, naturally.

To think that only yesterday,
I was cheerful, bright and gay.
Looking forward to, and who wouldn’t do,
The role I was about to play.
But as if to knock me down,
Reality came around,
And without so much as a mere touch,
Cut me into little pieces.
Leaving me to doubt, all about God and His mercy,
Oh, if He really does exist,
Why did He desert me?
And in my hour of need,
I truely am, indeed,
Alone again, naturally.
So, the fridge is broken. The light works, but it's really warm and everything's gone off and smells horrible
(it's hot here.) I'm stuck here until 5 waiting for a repairman, which I always secretly enjoy anyway.

I'm supposed to get a drink with some girlfriends at 4, pending repairman's arrival. Don't know if I have the nerve for girl-power yet, though. Besides, what if he and his poor new girlfriend are around? (There are a limited number of options around here; but then, maybe she lives in a different neighborhood and he's giving me a wide berth. That would be much better.)

(Oh dear, just realized I'm listening to "Alone Again (Naturally)", quite unintentionally, I assure you. )

My dear married friends arrive this evening; I'll try to pull myself out of my slump before they do! Bought flowers and cleaned etc. Found scrubbing the batthub very cathartic, even though it's kind of permanently stained and never exactly glows. I thought we could get a pizza at Lucali and then maybe walk the promenade. Charlie may join; he's been very attentive as there's some concern I may throw myself off the nearest bridge (Brooklyn), which is my preferred method of auto-offing. Well, at least the refrigerator repairman's keeping me alive until five.

Here is what I am wearing:
-royal blue jersey sundress patterned with white birds, given to me when a hole was discovered.
-light brown espadrilled, bought in the sale (have to pay for 'em, forgot when I learned about the new girlfriend and left the store early)
-little gold airplane-charm necklace, which I usually avoid as the girl from One Girl Cookies also wears it, even if she is very nice and has promised to bring me a "naked Sadie" butter cookie without any coconut on the top.

Here is what I ate today:
-iced coffee (they were out of the coffee ice cube but I explained that I didn't mind for reasons stated here before)
-one of those square jelly donuts from the Doughnut Plant, made with apricot jam today!

Get this: I'd been smoking a little bit from stress, but when I wen to my bag I disocvered that while I was at home my mother seems to have confiscated the Camels from my purse and replaced them with a pack of candy cigarettes. Well played, madam.


So I just learned that all the while, "Struan" has had a new girlfriend, while continuing to lean on me for emotional support, calling Charlie to help him move, sending me internet links etc., then falling so silent that I was worried he'd harmed himself.

Here's how bad it was: the other day I was feeling so lonely, and we'd been having such good conversations, that I asked him if he'd think of getting back together. He ddin't say no; but when I called him the next morning he was with a girl.

Then he emailed me: "That wasn't a date; it was the woman I've been seeing for the past month. I really care about you want you in my life am sorry I broke your heart (ed: paraphrased). I'm sorry to do this in an email, but call me and I'll give you as much time as you want."

Thank God I'm not married to him. The worst of it is, he doesn't think he's done a thing; just that I'm so fragile and broken-hearted that I can't handle his replacing me within weeks after an 8-year relationship and an engagement.

As Charlie says, "the worst part is, he's just turned out to be a run-of-the-mill dick."

Of course no one wants anything to do with him and, Charlie again, "he's made a messy bed." There are a lot of folks hereabouts who are going to be crossing the street to avoid him.

I was so distraught that I had to leave the shop early. Felt like I might finally be broken. But I'm not; about three o'clock, in J. Crew, I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders: I don't need this! I don't need to be cheated on and lied to and rejected and manipulated! He saw me through some tough times and he's got his moments, but at the end of the day I deserve much better.

It started to rain hard. I went back into the bar to get that swell umbrella. The bartender said I should read this Freud essay that helped him get through his divorce and, oh, enter into an affair with him. I said I'd think about it.

Missed Connections Boy wrote me yesterday asking me to go to the Philharmonic next Wed. Again, I'll think about it.

After all: it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me. And I'm feeling good (ish.)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Missed Connections

Was meant to have dinner with John, but didn't have my phone and so didn't know he was held up with some 'clients' and so left and missed him entirely. Now have ten messages from him and when I spoke to him he was very melancholy and meaningful and made me just as glad to have missed him, especially as tomorrow is his birthday. Felt wretched and so agreed to watch fireworks from some mogul's roof on Wednesday. Also, must find a nice gift; he gave me a first edition of Noblesse Oblige and a bottle of Pol Roger. Maybe I'll make him a cake, as by dint of careful hinting I've learned he likes yellow cake with chocolate frosting and strawberry jam between the layers. That would be warm and friendly but not, I hope, romantic. Oh, dear. For the world's unlikeliest femme fatale, I'm managing to hurt a lot of fellas these days.

(Suspect I'll erase that bit if I ever tell anyone about the blog.)

Liz and I had loads of refills to do after the sale weekend. Were worked off our feet, as we're already pretty busy with our usual regimen of reading the Post aloud, working out choreography to different songs on the playlist, and exulting over whatever point I've recently scored over that bartender.

Must write that womanizer I know and get a copy of Volume I of collected Paris Review interviews, as I'm dying to mark it up. Dot. Parker's is one of the smartest things you've ever seen; she gets facile on politics but otherwise, jinx, it's fine. Hate petitioning Jim about this sort of thing as he's so peculiar with women and loves having the upper hand and will deliberately wait several days to respond and then I'll just be able to sense the smirk through the computer - but when all's said and done he's got a swell soul, and I'd love a gratis book. Especially as I know just what a cinch it is to stick something in a manilla and dump it in an outbox in that place.

Now it's nearly ten, but I don't think that's too late for cold Chinese. Do you?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."

Or so says my fortune cookie. It also told me how to say September: Jiu-yue. The other cookie that came with my meal (chicken with eggplant, string beans and brown rice, from the Lichee Nut) told me how to say pork (Zhu-ru) which is more useful.

I think I do know how to play, and it is indeed a happy talent.

We're having the summer sale at the shop and it's total mayhem. After things wound down yesterday I took a walk to Dumbo along Smith Street, and discovered both an ancient convent and a Romanesque firehouse. Also passed a crummy toy store and was thrilled by this miniature plastic farm set in the window. Studied it for a long time, and resolved to come back and buy it, before realizing that I already own it.

The concert we were seeing didn't start until 10:30, and Charlie and I had talked about getting some dinner beforehand. When I phoned him, though (10 times) he didn't pick up, then finally told me he was in New Jersey. I felt a bit lonely but mostly because I'd eaten nothing but a yogurt drink all day. Hated everyone and was near despair. Told myself firmly it was blood sugar. So, with an eye to comparing it to its Brooklyn competition, I went to the Australian meat pie place on 1st and 1st and got a plain beef pie. It was bigger than that at DUB; didn't care for the crust as well, but it filled me up very nicely, and I was soon back in good form.

Also felt well dressed, which never hurts. Sasha had planned my outfit, as we were going to see Baby Dayliner play and there was some strong feeling amongst my bosses at the store (Sasha and Dean) that I needed to snare BD as a boyfriend. While I was pretty sure this was beyond my powers (as I've never been one of those who knows everyone in the music scene, and dates them) I obligingly donned my 80s-style silk Deborah Sweeney dress with the birds on it, and boots. Looked very fine.

Much good it did me; sat on a bench with a junkie and two bums (one passed out) for the next hour and a half, reading the Village Voice by the light of an American Apparel sign.

Rendez-vous'd with Charlie and Bevin, who are the sorts of people who know folks in bands, at the venue. The place was absolutely packed! Went to get a drink and some gent, past his first youth, said, "I'd move for you, but I need to lean on the bar, for my lower back." A few moments later I heard him exclaim, "Japanese poetry? You arty motherfucker!"

Took refuge in a sort of alcove; was shoved from behind and who should I find myself regarding but Baby Dayliner himself! "Sorry," said he. Texted Sasha at once.

For some reason the crowd was exceedingly lame and I was quickly in a terrible mood and started muttering about how much I hate live shows, which in the moment I fully believed. Equal parts Murray Hill dbs and dorks who kept shouting asinine things at the opening band's members to prove they knew them. One loud and bouncing girl in front of me was so objectionable that I was considering covertly punching her, when her companion turned around, was someone I knew, hugged me, and introduced the one I wanted to punch as Rachel. Found this so galling that I abandoned Charlie and Bevin for the back of the room.

Was scowling and muttering my way across the room when I ran smack into my boss, Sasha, who'd been galvanizeed by my text and had dragged Dean out of bed. This put me in an altogether better mood and when Baby Dayliner came on, he was so terrific, the performance so virtuoso, that I didn't even mind when Charlie pulled one of his vague disappearing acts to rendez-vous with some friends at a bar a few blocks away. Fully restored my faith in live shows, largely because BD's recorded accompaniment left no room for banter whatsoever, and because we play his music so incessantly in the store that I had the rare luxury of knowing all the songs. Was very dashing and modest.

No doubt, it's an unusual show. Said one friend. "Is this a joke? No, jokes are funny, and this is awesome."

After the show, lots of silly girls surrounded BD and, while I did rather want to make him my boyfriend, if only for Sasha and Dean's sakes, I simply couldn't bring myself to join them.

"What if, as your boss, I order you to talk to him?" said Sasha excitedly. Finally, Charlie (who had materialized)and I approached him. I was shaking like a leaf, and could barely bring myself to shake his hand and mutter that I'd enjoyed the set. I did feel sure, however, that we shared a moment of intense eye contact, although more than likely he just possesses the happy skill of being able to look at omeone when he meets them.

There was some sort of party then at a nearby bar and, while I was terrified, it turned out to have a dancefloor and 60s music and some guy who kept coming over and saying "how about a dance?!" with whom I frugged and twisted a few times. When we left he was still dancing wildly, by himself.

Went home and dropped by the bar to return the umbrella. Had some semi-hostile banter with the bartender, which may or may not have involved my saying, "spare me your sordid cliches" andd his talking about Fassbinder.

When I got home, felt emboldened to email Baby Dayliner's myspace page - briefly, don't worry - to say that I couldn't remember enjoying a show more (true) and that I was "the gal in the big specs." Also true.

So get this: when I got home this evening there was a message in my inbox:

"I remember you. Thanks so much for coming to the show! Glad you enoyed it, bless yoru heart. BD."

Friday, June 29, 2007

On the Supernatural

Back when my grandparents were alive, we'd cap every visit I made to Twin Oaks with a singalong. It was always on the last night, and my uncle always played, and we'd sing "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard" and "I Love You Truly" and "The Band Played On" and, for my grandfather, "On the Banks of the Wabash (Far Away)" (because his mother was from Indiana.)

This singalong was a tacit tribute to my grandmother's childhood, which was generally acknowledged to have been of the taffy-pulling, idyllic variety (despite poverty etc.) and included vast amounts of music. We used a peculiar songbook called "Songs of the Gilded Age", which had been put out, I guess, in the late '60s and featured stylized watercolor illustrations of Gilded Age folks in the good old summertme, or at the Saint Louis World's Fair or whatever might be appropriate to a given song. The book was divided into sections, like "Places," "Travel", "Love" and "Stories." I had my own copy of the book (where either came from is a mystery) and I played from it a lot at home. I can still play "On the Banks of the Wabash" from memory, although I was never much good at accompanying myself, and my singing suffers when I play, or vice versa. I left my copy in Chicago, though, when I moved out of the dorms, and when I went back for it was told it had been thrown away.

Anyhow, after my grandmother died and she was sending signs to people left and right and things briefly became very irrational and full of possibility (my grandmother was a big fan of books like A Search for the Truth, incidentally), I opened my closet one evening and "Songs of the Gilded Age" fell out and smacked me on the head.

That was two years ago this July, and I hadn't thought of it lately. But then, yesterday, I was walking on Atlantic Avenue and noticed a thrift store that I'd never seen. Went in, and although it wasn't very good, and really overpriced, by habit I moved to the book area to check for career romances. And there, of course, was "Songs of the Gilded Age."

I didn't buy it; I hope that doesn't matter. After all, I have my own copy at home. But I can't help wondering what she's trying to say...

Along similar lines, since I've been feeling more than usually superstitious lately, I passed along a Craig's List chain letter on Wednesday, within the specified thirteen-minute time frame. I was told that if I reposted the letter, having opened it (and of course it was labeled with something ambiguous and tempting), between three and four pm of the following day, something remarkable would happen to me. They hinted that my true love would be involved.

Well, between 3 and 4 pm yesterday, I was watching "Le Doubleur" at Lincoln Plaza Cinema with my dad and a bunch of old women, so it's very probable that I missed the extraordinary happening. Or maybe it just hasn't come to my attention yet. But I'm certainly in no position to toss away true love.

I'm reading In Patagonia. Mostly because I've always been annoyed by the Moleskine inserts that proclaim "the legendary notebook of Hemingway, Renoir, and Chatwin!" and never really felt the latter had any business being in such distinguished company, even if he did demonstrate more of an attachment to the Moleskine notebook than did the other two. So, in fairness, it seemed only right to come by my prejudices more honestly - and, really, if it's an educated opinion it ceases to be a prejudice, doesn't it? (But then, where does Creationism fit in? I suppose that's the meat of the problem, really.)

Had a sad realization yesterday about the nature of eccentricity, but have forgotten it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

thurs pm

Saw my shrink today. Didn't have much to say, but his office was deliciously cool. There were loads of other patients in the waiting room, making it difficult for me to steal the ancient New York magazine on the table, for ego-boosting crossword purposes. I always want to exchange roguish, conspiratorial glances with the other patients, but they studiously avoid my gaze. Why?


Okay, it's hardly the time nor the place to get into a long-winded discussion of the social and racial differences in moviegoing behaviors. You'd think after the Skeleton Key experience, I'd know better than to try to watch a scary movie at Court Street UA multiplex. But it was so very hot, and my little fan was so very weak, and somehow I convinced myself that I was the only one in Brooklyn who had the idea of catching the 2:50 1408.

Well, as you may have gathered, the theatre was chock-a-block with middle schoolers, who spent the whole movie screaming "Oh SHIT!" at random moments, wandering in and out of the theatre and, strangest of all, breaking into spontaneous applaude whenever anything scary happened. I appreciated their enthusiasm, but it did make it hard to get really caught up.

That evening, I met a friend for Italian dinner. She was a bit delayed because of yestrday's power outages. Our waiter looked familiar to me, but I couldn't place him. My friend, Amanda, detailed her love life of late, in the process clearly revealing to me that someone needs a copy of The Rules, stat.

"Erase his number," I said sternly, not because I've read The Rules but because I am a fan of dramatic action. She was appalled. I like to think I'd practice this sort of asceticism if I ever got the chance. Of course, I did stalk The Man Who Shamed Me, but that wasn't because I was interested in him; it was because I was furious.

Anyway, after dinner she wanted a drink so we hied away to a nearby bar which I tend to avoid ever since I saw the bartender , Brian, humiliated himself at karaoke by doing a really embarrassing rendition of "The Letter" and rolling around on the floor a lot. Everyone was disgusted - because his heart clearly wasn't in it.

I walked her to the subway and bought a bag of Swedish fish. The skies opened, and I was forced (because I was wearing that white nightgown thing) to take refuge in the old-timey bar nearby.
"I'm here to take refuge from the storm," I pointedly told the bartender, just so he wouldn't think I was one of those silly girls who's taken in by his line and shows up to be flirted with.
"I figured as much," he said. "I know you don't come in here to see me. Give me some Swedish fish."
I did, and fed the jukebox a dollar: Joy Division, Velvet Underground, The Supremes.
The bartender produced a vintage umbrella, which kept me reasonably modest on the walk home.

The umbrella's really something: it's red striped, with a sort of bakelite handle. Far too nice to keep; I'll drop it by the bar tomorrow, maybe with a bag of Swedish Fish.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Apologies for the continuing heat. Against my better judgment, I got bored last night and did the Can-Can.

(Also, watched Bridge to Terabithia - not my first choice, but the only thing that would upload from tv-links, albeit with Chinese subtitles. Disappointing! Didn't feel at all like the book and was marred by forgettable pop music over all the montages. Also, the Leslie looked completely wrong.)

Man alive, it's hot. As is usual in such cases, it's the humidity that really does you in. Impossible to move above a crawl, and unpleasant to touch even the fur of the green rabbit's foot on my keychain. Sometimes heatwaves have a Gershwin soundtrack, but this one doesn't have the energy.

Last night, I wrote a strongly-worded and probably ill-advised email to my ex-boyfriend, going on about not learning from his mistakes or something. Of course I regretted it this morning, but was still annoyed when he sent me the seemingly irrelevant text message, "Post has good headline today." I was all set to berate him about his avoidance of issues, but it turned out he hadn't gotten the email at all, and we had a good talk about the new Australian meat pie place in the neighborhood. Think I'll make him a Mahler mix CD.

The Post did have a good cover. I made it out of the house about ten and walked to the place on Court Street because I know they make their iced coffee with an oversized coffee ice cube, which actually makes the coffee too strong if, like me, you take milk, but is still the sort of extra effort I appreciate. I drank it in the park with my Post and about melted. Then I dropped off my favorite pair of Deener high-waists to be made into shorts as they have a big hole in the knee, and I don't, obviously, have a sewing machine in my sublet.

While out, saw on Henry an advert for an upcoming stoop sale, featuring an illustration of a smirking man wearing a checked cap, smoking a briar pipe, and leading a fey French poodle on a leash. Will certainly go.

I am now working in the apt., but am, obviously, taking a break to write this, as it's certainly breaking news.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Let's get this going, for confessional purposes if nothing else. Lower than an angleworm's belly today. First off, terrific heat wave. I caused it, by doing the can-can. Wore a new dress: white cotton and looks exactly like a nightgown. I felt very a la mode. After the shop closed, I debated walking past the flirtatious waiter at the outdoor cafe, just so the new dress wouldn't go to waste, then gave myself a shake and realized what I'd come to. Wanted to wallow in degredation, but instead just bought some cream-top Brown Cow yogurt and an overripe avocado.

Then I came home - very stuffy - and changed the dress for a real nightie, even though it was still full daylight. Had the remains of some Thai chicken and some tapioca pudding. I watched the end of Death in Venice and was as troubled as before by Tadzio's anachronistic shag, but pleased that Dirk Bogarde was one of the liberators of Bergen-Belsen. Felt bad for Mahler, being implicated as a pedophile. Then listened to some Mahler. Read a couple of deathly depressing short stories, full of remote observations and elliptical precision. Listened several times to "Walk a Thin Line" by Fleetwood Mac, even though I normally can't abide them.

Had some heartbreak today, but you'll just have to read between the lines.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Okay, so maybe it's worth talking about how the dating scene is treating me.

I'm not actually on the scene, as such, but I am doing lots of psychiatric homework in that department. Which is to say, I am now officially "open-minded." I haven't exactly gone out and leapt around and done the sorts of things my shrink wants me to, but then, I am living with my parents in the suburbs or, at absolute best, staying at my grandparents' place uptown, which hardly lends itself to riotous living.

"Go to literary parties," said my friend James, who frequents those sorts of things. "That's where you meet people."

Well, I guess so. Time was, I used to do exactly that, but now I don't work in publishing any longer and it seems sort of sad to just kind of troll them for men. What would I do, just stand around with a glass of wine waiting for someone to talk to me? (Come to think of it, that's exactly what I used to do.) Besides, I'm not on those mailing lists any longer.

I was pleased to be able to tell my doctor that I had accepted the number of a man. I mean, he was no great shakes or anything, and he had some horrible, hippy-dippy name, and up until the very second he approached me I thought he was gay...but, anyway, I didn't blanch or run away or freak out, which is what I used to do in such situations. I have his number in my phone.

It was one of the few occasions I'd gone out. I'd seen The Earrings of Madame de at the Film Forum and then went, with my brother (who, btw, has a broken wrist!) and the friend m y mother refers to as my "cicisbeo" (more on him later) to get a drink at El Quixote.

El Quixote is about my favorite place in the world, and back when I transacted business, I used to make everyone meet me there, which I see now was some kind of eccentric power play, but then I was an ass in those days. Anyhow, we went there. I had a brandy Alexander.

There was this big group of gay men and one British fag hag being really raucous at the other end of the bar, and they kept looking at me and giggling and pointing. I wondered if they were talking about my glasses, which my mother hates, but which in fact are just like the ones Isabelle Adjani wears in The Tenant.

Anyway, this went on for about 20 minutes, until I was thoroughly uncomfortable. We paid and filed out; I was a little behind the others, as my parka's zipper sticks, and anyhow, I knew they'd be starting a cigarette. As I was fumbling with the zipper, this guy came up to me - one of the raucous party. He was wearing some kind of effeminate striped scarf and maybe a porkpie hat, although in fairness I might be imagining the hat.

"You're surrounded by men," he said weirdly, "but I just had to introduce myself and ask if you wanted to go out some time. I'm Quinoa." (nb, not his actual name.)

"Quinoa," I said, "it's so nice to meet you, and I'm flattered you want to know me better. But I think I should tell you, right off the bat, that I just got out of an eight-year relationship, and I don't think I'm ready to date anyone else."

(So well handled. Well, sort of; I was clasping his hand and speaking in this borderline-creepy, confiding way.)

"Well," said he, "why don't I give you my number, and if you just get bored or something some time, maybe we can get a drink."

Now I have "Quinoa" in my phone. Quite a conquest.

Um, that's it, actually. It's not that good a story. In the next installment, though, I'll write all about my beaux, which is more interesting.

A Narrow Escape

Oh dear. I almost posted this really lame rant about depression last night - I compared the membrane that closes over the throat of a diptheria victim with something that happens to the depressed soul...good God. I think that's quite enough of that.

I am out of practice, blog-wise. It's hard not to start off pretty self-conscious, but then that passes and everyone starts to inexplicably think he's completely incredible and that everyone really, really cares about his opinion of some movie that came out 25 years ago and which he, the blogger, has just 'discovered,' and really, unless there's some nifty angle worthy of a publishing deal, which is to say, something dishy or salacious or nichey, really, who cares.

But, gee whiz, I've gotten sour.

Let's face facts:

I recently broke up with my fiance (whom I'd dated for 8 years.) As a result, I live with my parents. Oh, and in case you're wondering, there's not much doing with my career, either.

As to being on my own, well, there is nothing especially tragic or dramatic about it. That's what I tell people too, "it's not tragic, or dramatic. It is what it is." And I say it in this kind of stoic, humble way. Which would be all very well, if I wasn't saying it to customers at the store, who don't really care. But it's true that I don't go in for break-up songs or that sort of nonsense.

Am sort of considering dating Salman Rushdie. I hear he is newly single, too. (His career, one imagines, somewhat less stagnant. Also, better living situation.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Broken Flowers

When I was very, very young, I used to want to put out a CD called "Petite Sophisticate" and of one thing I was sure: the sleeve would feature this midget dressed like Holly Golightly on the Breakfast at Tiffany's poster. But we've all grown up a lot since then.


I remember I used to swear to myself that I'd never, ever say "Have a good one!" to anyone as they left the store. But I just caught myself doing it.

Also, I used to think I could get away with never calling anything "cute." For a while I was really inventive and employed all kinds of stupid-sounding synonyms, and went around shouting,

"Fetching!" and "Charming" and even

But that kind of thing is all over now.