Monday, March 30, 2009

Questions of Travel

On the spur, Maeve, Eloise and I went to Montreal. Although our route, against all the dictates of geographical logic, took us through D.C. (making the one-hour trip, four) in the moment it somehow seemed to all of us infinitely preferable to be in motion.

Much more on the trip later - much more! - but for now the ride home, sadly, needs its own entry.

The unpleasantness began right away at the Montreal airport, and as usual was entirely my own fault. A few years ago I lost my passport and got a new one. Then the old one turned up. I seem to have picked up the old, expired one which, naturally, didn't sit well with various Canadian border folk, who said there was nothing for it but for me to wait around in a series of rooms while people looked very much askance at my story and ultimately allowed me through, but not without much unpleasant sternness and an enormous red "CANCELLED" across the front page. To add insult to injury, the very officious security agent confiscated my tub of maple butter.

We would have been cutting it close - had the flight not been delayed an hour and then an additional on the runway. Storms, or so we were told. Having reached the capital, the stewardess announced nervously that our plane had been "randomly selected" for additional security checks in the "federal terminal" - this despite the fact that we were already two hours late and literally everyone on the plane had a connection to make. Lest we try to make a run for it, the plane's exit led us directly onto some sort of shuttle bus. I was convinced the whole security uproar was due to my faulty passport, and was in agonies of guilt. I took the precaution of removing the moccasins and coonskin cap I'd donned for the flight, as they made me look both suspicious and insane. Maeve, for her part, was sure the culprit was a student type looking around nervously and chomping rapidly on some gum - although we both admitted that it was possible he just needed a cigarette.

We pulled up and ran a gauntlet of sniffing dogs and stern agents. Obviously, as soon as my passport made its appearance, I was ushered into the "special room." Maeve, being my accomplice, was too. The agent was very kind.
"I'm so stupid," I said bitterly.
"Aw, you're okay," he said nicely. He liked to hike and I kind of fell in love with him.

There was another security checkpoint then, but to everyone's disgust - especially the agents responsible for cleaning - human excrement had somehow gotten smeared all over the conveyor belt, so that all took a long time. Maeve and I switched to a standby flight and she had a cigarette in the glassed-in lounge, where a manifest young ass in a German army coat was smoking with a cigarette holder. There was an extremely crummy wine bar, of which we took full advantage. The nervous kid hadn't resurfaced; Maeve was convinced he'd been arrested. I speculated that, even were he not the mule they were looking for, he'd probably had the ill fortune to be carrying a little weed or something, and now they were probably going extra hard on him to justify the song-and-dance of the security checkpoint and attendant excrement. The wine was crummy, the oldies station first-rate.

"I must admit," said Maeve, "I'm really enjoying this."
"Me too!" I said. "Do you know, I don't think I'm constitutionally capable of boredom? I love everything!"
"I know!" said Maeve. "That smoking lounge was objectively the most depressing place I've ever been. And I loved it! I laughed out loud with glee."

We had three glasses of wine each and as a result almost missed our flight.

Once onboard, being tipsy, I for some reason took it upon myself to translate all the captain's announcements in completely inadequate French to a Canadian couple in the next row. And, au lit, as we say in Quebec.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Trench Coats

Someone asked me recently about trenches, and quite honestly I wish I had better answers, since I found my best one at a thrift store! But Eloise, who has the best trench collection of anyone, has found some real lookers at H&M. And if you can splurge, I saw a really lovely, minimalist, Parisian one at APC (of course.)

Sometimes when I am down I watch old episodes of Made on At first I liked the ones where nerds get made over into homecoming queens and such because I identified more with them (and "John is Made Into Prom King" is still my all time favorite)but lately I have branched out into "popular kid becomes brain" and I almost admire them more, because the challenges are arguably greater and because the motivation is very pure...although, because their challenges are very big things like learning robot science (shows what I know!) or debate, they don't tend to do quite as well. Whereas someone might just become prom queen, the "academic" challenges rarely rate more than a third or fourth place finish.

Deep thoughts, you see.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

As I have mentioned in passing, I've had a terrible time with bad feelings lately,and tonight I had one of my walk-it-out moods...I got on the subway and rode home and then when I got out, there happened to be a church service going on at one of those storefront churches that's all over the neighborhood. Just two women, a young child and a minister. Maybe I've been reading too much Flannery o'Connor lately but I went in and I sat there for about 15 minutes and it did me good. On the door, there's an old sign that says "Relax. God is in charge." I don't know what I feel about God, exactly, but I know that comforted me a great deal. This might all sound like a cheap short story, but there you are.

Oh, well. Robert Lowell had Life Studies and talent. I'm afraid I'll have to settle for the Petite Sophisticate.
First of all...Barbara Pym was a snappy dresser. A very snappy dresser.


I saw two movies this weekend: Two Lovers, and Valentino: The Last Emperor. Both good, which is rare. Especially the latter, not that I'd recommend it to most straight men on the street, of whom there are exactly 0% in this film. Slim, obviously, loved it. And it's very romantic! I couldn't believe how crowded it was: one of our party didn't show and we had people clamoring to buy the spare ticket! I told my dad I didn't think he'd much care for it and he replied, "but why? I'm very interested in silent film!"

As to Two Lovers, well I don't want to overhype as I think part of my pleased surprise came from not very high expectations, especially of the cast...but it was genuinely touching,not least because it was distressing to think of such a good actor as Joaquin Phoenix giving it up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have expressed before my dissatisfaction with other patients in the psychiatrist's waiting room who are unwilling to return my knowing twinkles, winks, and roguish smiles.

Sometimes I think I make Dr. A --- uncomfy. Granted, today I did go on a bit of a rant about Walker Percy, existentialism, the Holy Ghost, generational conflict, Pascal, and Arthur Rubinstein - none of which I know the foggiest about. But surely he's seen worse, right? The guy works days in the ward of an uptown mental hospital, after all.

I finally managed to complete my interview for the travel website - quite a feat when one never goes anywhere! (I know I haven't mentioned this before.) I felt very inadequate when I came across all the questions concerning travel tips and internet strategies and the sort of general modern, frugal wiliness that intimidates me. But I did recommend steak sandwiches for a cross-country flight.


Yesterday, I made a batch of stew, wrote a bunch, had a friend over for dinner, bought some new pussy willows and a quince blossom branch, saw a friend's show at Glasslands and starter a Twitter. But. All this pales before the following: I found my summer shoes! At, naturally, my onetime employer Dear Fieldbinder, where the peerless Maeve enticed me into a very tempting pair of pleated dungarees and the pictured sandals (although mine are brown.) This company, Remix Vintage, apparently does literal reproductions of vintage shoes from the 30s and 40s. Not only are these "Gilda" sandals absurdly comfortable, but they have exactly the right touch of what Barbara Pym termed "slightly dowdy elegance." A sandal just isn't a sandal without a hint of the orthotic.


How pretty are these letterpress cards from Jezebel correspondence? I dearly love a good notecard, even if I fall sadly short of Alexander Stoddard's exhortation to mail one thing every day...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Past Few Weeks

Trips on the Fung Wah: 2

Visit to enormous baby heads in front of Boston Museum of Fine Arts: 1

Titian, Tintoretto & Veronese Exhibit: 1

Donuts eaten: 2

Half-hearted suicide thoughts on Manhattan Bridge: 1

Chinese dinners consumed after said thoughts: 1

Books read: 5

Thoughts about Catholicism resulting from The Life You Save May Be Your Own: several

Bottles of gradual self-tan purchased: 1


Me: Going to Boston, need anything.

Maeve: Yeah, thanks! I could use a massive inferiority complex, and I'm plumb out of shitty accent.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


me: what tattoo did you get?

maeve: I got a red shepherd's crook on my ribs
I don't know why