Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Swear I Don’t Keep Doing This Just So George Saunders Will Come Back

And yet, he keeps giving me reasons to keep blathering about him. Finally finished the article he wrote for GQ about Dubai (that I pitifully implored my hairstylist to let me tear out of the salon copy) which is not only fascinating (under construction are hotels that will feature: 300 man-made islands that viewed from above form a map of the world, an underwater hotel, villas that “fly” and replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal that are actually bigger than the originals – and at one point Saunders refers to some of the existing skyscrapers by saying that it looked like a bunch of architects had staged a “weird-off”) but typically Saundersianly hilarious and also managing to squeeze in some life lessons as well. He stays in one more insanely luxurious hotel after another (okay, and while I’m here, GQ or anyone, next time there’s an opening for this kind of assignment, I’m available), makes some pretty interesting observations about their culture and ours, and manages to wrap it up with like some super Zen stuff that I only hope reaches one GQ reader, which in case you are not, as I am, not, I have to give you the last two sentences here: “Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.” Rock it, Saunders. I know I’m going to keep trying.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This Could Be One Of The Most Awful Things I’ve Ever Heard

A fifteen year-old girl with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, who I guess had just had a peanut butter sandwich or something. Dang. This isn’t the first time I’ve stopped to wonder about the whole peanut thing though, which were verboten in the preschool I used to work in for this reason. It’s suddenly become a weird epidemic. Peanut butter sandwiches were a staple of my childhood, and until I gained twenty pounds, were in regular rotation on my lunch menu (mmmm, Skippy Super Chunk…). I can’t really envision childhood without it. What gives, world? What will the children of tomorrow have to forsake next for fear of premature death? Cheerios?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Wait, What?

Among the articles I finished this weekend was the one by Maureen Dowd in the Times magazine about the subject of her new book, Are Men Necessary? which is a silly question I won’t even try to answer cuz I think the real question is, Are People Necessary? Ponder that. The article was interesting – in a section about the influence of women’s magazines – many of which I think do foster some self-image problems – I was especially amused by a sex tip from Cosmo, “…yell out during sex which of your girlfriends think your man is hot.” - What? Wait, what? Anyway, I don’t disagree with some of her points, yes, I think that feminism has changed, and yes, I think it’s okay to be a sexy feminist, although I won’t be posing for the cover of Stuff anytime soon even in the bizarro world in which this might be a possibility, but my answer to this question: Do women get less desirable as they get more successful? to which Dowd suggests the answer is yes, I suggest back that I had a long and protracted history of unsuccessful relationships during my unsuccessful era (er, most of the 80s and a substantial part of the 90s), started dating Ben three months after I published my first book, so you tell me. Do I believe it can be a challenge to date a complicated, successful woman who has opinions on stuff? Yes. Can you take “woman” out of that question and replace it with “man”? I certainly think so. There’s a whole section on “The Rules” which is one hundred percent not my experience of relationships, especially not the one I’m in, starting with “play hard to get.” One woman says, “It’s not about honesty.” Excuse me? Wait, what? Anyway, I just don’t think this subject matter is as black and white as Dowd makes it out to be. Maybe I live in a universe where men are interested in interesting women. Maybe I live in a universe where, even if I acknowledge that there are certain gender differences or even broad generalizations to be made or trends that take place, there are also individuals, and I personally judge accordingly.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Want to Be Diane Keaton When I Grow Up

Actually I think I am already Diane Keaton minus the style and the being a single mom. Back in the day people always used to say I reminded them of her and I never really got it (I did briefly wear vests and ties, yes, but I never thought I really looked like her much) and I always thought they were meaning it in an Annie Hall sort of way, which I’m pretty sure they were, and which I realize was at least loosely based on the real her. At the time I didn’t get the complexity of Annie Hall, I more just got the flakiness, and so my appreciation of Diane Keaton has come late to me, after more viewings of some of her older movies and also with Something’s Gotta Give, which solidified my girl crush. I have come to see her as remarkably beautiful, not just because she seems to be an interesting person, but because she’s proof to me that you can be physically beautiful with a few lines on your face and that Hollywood is so thoroughly wrong in it’s beauty ideal, and I hope that I will remember Diane when I don’t want to look in the mirror anymore because the world tells me I should have lifted my face about ten years earlier and throw in some cheek implants and collagen while I was in there. Last night I tore out all the articles from the last couple of month’s magazines that piled up that I hadn’t read and just started plowing through them, and so I finally read the profile of her in the Times magazine from last month, and related to her on a lot of levels, but not on this one: a friend of hers said she wakes up every morning and “sees her clothes like paint coming out of a paint tube: What am I going to mix today?” I wake up every morning and think, what worked last week, and what’s clean? I’m not saying I don’t have a smidge of my own style, but I tend to stick with what works (jeans + whatever + boots) until I’m hopelessly bored with my wardrobe and then I make declarations like “I’m going to get a new style!” and then I buy a new t-shirt and pair it with the same cardigans I’ve been wearing for six years and the boots I’ve been wearing every winter for five. (Yesterday, I saw a girl I know wearing similar boots, and she told me someone told her, “Oh your boots are like Betsy’s.” I don’t really know what that means except that everyone knows I only have this one pair of boots. Well, I have other boots. But apparently this is a little-known secret.) Last year, I discovered layering a short-sleeved t-shirt over a long-sleeved one, which other people discovered back when I was in high school, but whatever, this rejuvenated my wardrobe (and kept me warmer!) until recently, at which time I’ve been thinking, again, “I need a new style!” So in honor of Diane Keaton, this week I am going to wake up every day and think of my clothes as paint coming out of a tube. What’s weird is that I actually did that yesterday before I read the article, and Ben said, “Oh, what a cute outfit” (or something) and so I am going to continue to do this because it’s not like I don’t have enough options for mixing it up a bit. I have a dresser full of t-shirts, a drawer full of tank tops, and two drawers full of cardigans, and I promise you they’re not all currently in rotation. Look out, Chicago.


People in Queens, lately, seem to go for the aesthetic of a paved yard instead of grass. This quote from a woman named Angela Casaro: “Lawns have ticks and disease and worms and stuff. This way it’s safe and sterile. It’s a cleaner area for the children to play. I love nature and I love grass, but I don’t want my family exposed to disease.”

Oh. Right, the deadly GRASS. I’m sure now that I’ve only lived to see my forties because I grew up high above Manhattan, blocks away from the deadly grasses of Riverside and Central Parks. How my grandparents survived fifty years on an estate with a dozen acres and a pond and like, trees and shit, is, I’m certain, nothing short of a miracle. I better tell my folks to up and move before it’s too late. Thank god we only have a four by ten foot patch of grass in our backyard… maybe that tree ought to come down…


So this couple hit the Powerball jackpot five years ago, taking home $65.4 million dollars, and I guess they thought this was as good a time as any to split up and fulfill their dreams. After multiple run-ins with the law including a deadbeat dad thing and a drunken driving charge, the husband died in 2003 at age 45, while living in a replica of Mt. Vernon. Last Dec., some dude was found dead of a drug overdose in the wife’s custom-built geodesic dome house, then she was sued by a tenant, and then she laid dead in her home for days before being found. I don’t really know what the moral of this story is, except that I’ve never been one to bother with the Powerball, and apparently this has been a good choice.

Too Modern Love

In today’s Modern Love column in the Times, a writer decides it’s a really good idea to break up with her boyfriend via a PowerPoint presentation, and then wonders why he leaves her seven angry messages on her answering machine. I’m thinking this makes “It’s not you, it’s me,” seem kind, almost a classic in it’s simplicity and timelessness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kids Can

I have been very belated in putting this link up, after meeting this awesome kid Nick, during a visit to our friend Nick’s uncle in the hospital. Nick and another kid started this organization. This is obviously a worthy cause, and this kid has an amazing spirit, and the bracelets are only four bucks. I’ll leave it on the side as well.

My List

I keep this to-do list next to my computer and every now and again I cross things off of it, but seriously, a lot of them have been there for over a year, including:

-wedding album
-mend quilt

both of which I’ve started but not made bunches of progress on, and that’s only two. The “Presents For” category (that’s right, my undone to do list is broken down into categories) has several names after it that are many months late. Granted, most of the list isn’t necessarily critical, various crafty projects and such, but still, I don’t even have on there “go to the dentist” which is quickly becoming too overdue and is maybe more critical than finishing my tiny paper bed. (Which is about the cutest thing I’ve ever made, I’m pretty sure.)

Still, I have no plans to go through life without a list, I have always had a list and even when I don’t look at the list, I know the list is there, and crossing things off a list, however infrequently, gives me a feeling of accomplishment that the accomplishment alone doesn’t accomplish.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Seemingly Rhetorical Question

If it ever occurs to you to ask the question, “Does the Pope wear red Prada shoes?” in a rhetorical fashion, you will, curiously, not prove your point. He is, however, still Catholic.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Half of Happy Birthday

Yesterday we celebrated Ben's birthday at Bob San with our friends Gene and Krista and when I mentioned that it was my half-birthday, Gene leaned in and said, "Well, Hap-Birt!"

Friday, November 18, 2005


It makes a lot of good things even better. Yesterday I was deciding between several yummy-looking scones, but the frosted one was irresistible, and you know, scones are all well and good if you’re looking for a certain dry, less-sweet sort of treat, and I wouldn’t have thought of putting frosting on a scone, but it worked, leading me to theorize that if you put frosting on something like even a bagel, I might try it. Anyway, speaking of frosting, it’s Ben’s birthday, and I plan on baking him something yet undetermined, but since I know he shares my opinion, it will be heavily frosting-oriented.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Keeping it Real + Living Large = Good Fun

Time and again, I’m noticing that in celebrity interviews, it’s often pointed out how “grounded” that movie star or this rock star is; Reese Witherspoon cooks dinner in a crock pot! Sean Penn carries his own luggage! Tyra Banks loves a bargain! Cameron Diaz drives a hybrid! Jon Bon Jovi is married to his high school sweetheart! (Okay, I do think that's sweet, but aren't there maybe nine million unfamous people married to their high school sweethearts?)

You know what I think would be awesome?

If someone just came out and said, “Aw hell no I don’t carry my own luggage!” “Damn straight we sleep on a bed filled with diamond dust!” “Yes, my dog wears an astrakhan coat! What’s your point?” Or more to the point, “I’m rich and famous! Why would I even pretend to be like anyone else? Wouldn’t you sleep with movie stars if you could? Wouldn’t you trade in your hatchback for a Bentley if you could?”

If I were rich and famous, I wouldn’t sleep with rotating movie stars (I like the one person I sleep with just fine) and I wouldn’t get six nannies or even one and I probably wouldn’t even lose my mind on clothes or shoes, but I would hire a chef and I would buy a LOT of beauty products. I would buy a quarter ounce of cream that came in a tiny jar that cost $265. I would buy scrubs and lotions and face “systems” and I would buy just about anything if it came in a beautiful tiny jar. And maybe I would even acknowledge that it was a ridiculous waste of money, but I wouldn’t even try to tell you I was keeping the economy strong. I would show you my flawless pores.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thunder Road

Yesterday I was listening to Bruce Springsteen on Fresh Air (who was quite lovely and thoughtful and funny) and they played a good chunk of Thunder Road, which was something of an anthem for me and a friend of mine in college. Out at the Exchange, the local dive halfway between our dorm and the White House, we’d always sing all the words, and we’d always look at each other on the line, “So you’re scared and you’re thinkin’ that maybe we ain’t that young anymore…” because we were like, sophomores or juniors. So, I’m just saying, thinking of this yesterday kind of cracked me up, being that I really ain’t that young anymore. What I know now is that even at my age, I ain’t that old either.

Birds Crash Into My Office Window

It’s turning into like, a thing.

Thankfully so far they seem to be flying away unscathed. Maybe the velocity of a bird is slow enough that the result of its body weight times hitting a window equals not much damage. Still, I’ve walked into a few windows myself, which hurts at least a little. I wonder if birds suffer embarrassment. Like, is the bully of the bird world is out there laughing like the mean kid on the Simpsons going “HA-ha! Tweety did it again.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Okay, But I Still Have One Question

Frank Rich has an op-ed piece in Sunday’s Times this week about how 33 percent of the country still find the president honest, down from 50 percent in January. Which is all well and good but what I really want to know is, Who are you, 33 percent of Bush-believing people? Saying “we do not torture” a year and a half after Abu Ghraib doesn’t convince a few more of you? What about this doesn’t convince you, whoever you are? Okay, yes, that’s three questions. One for each eleven percent of the you I don’t understand. Alright, one more: What can I do to convince you?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dear Hollywood Writers of Bad Thrillers and TV Movies and also Sometimes Cop Shows

One time? When you reveal who the psycho killer/stalker is? Could you maybe think about spooking us some other way besides with a creepy collage on their entire bedroom wall of ripped photos and newspaper headlines? And sometimes also melty candles around the photos, if it’s a stalker? Because really? I’m thinking that in the history of psycho killers? Maybe one or two were into creepy crafting and the rest were maybe not so much into decorating at all. And but, if it’s actually like, a known thing that psycho killers/stalkers do tend toward the creepy collage? What if there were some sort of support group, or a class even, where they sat around and talked with each other about their techniques? That would be fresh, Hollywood Writers.

Friday, November 11, 2005

But My Dreams Are Interesting, Really

Last night it started out perfectly lovely, it was the holidays at my dad’s house, lots of relatives were there, we were all happy to see each other. Then I started to notice mysterious strangers peeking in windows and doorways, then more and more of them until it became clear that they were trying to overtake the house, they were kind of like the "others" on Lost, sort of piratey and tattery and rough-looking and then they did overtake the house and started tearing parts of it down and rebuilding it, and there were probably hundreds of these evil contractors, and I was screaming, and suddenly my family was gone and I was trying to escape but every time I’d find a way out someone would catch me, and then finally I found a way out and ran toward these giant colorful trailers, and there were these women clown-cheerleaders and I tried to get one of them to lend me a cell phone, but no one would, and then I saw some police except they weren’t really police, when they turned around I could see that they were two-faced or two-headed circus freaks, which was when I realized that the evil contractors were there building an arena for the evil circus, and once again I would try and try to get away only to be stopped by some weird circus act or another, then finally I sort of got away and I was coughing non-stop again, this part was real, so I got up and went to the couch so I wouldn’t bother Ben, then went back to sleep only to continue the same dream, and so but I still had no money or anything and couldn’t find anyone who would help me or believe my story, until I ran into a little Chinese boy with magical powers (he flew around in a little cart) who was with an old Chinese man who at first seemed helpful but then his eyes turned large and yellow and his teeth became pointy and weird and he told me to stay away from the boy and that the person who was behind all of this was a woman named Felicity “with scales” he said, which I didn’t understand until I wandered into a Chinese restaurant which featured mermaids that did synchronized swimming and realized that Felicity was an evil mermaid but that she wasn’t working that shift. So then I finally found a guy who believed me and we wandered into a fabric store where there were all these designers and I asked them if they ever designed anything like a mermaid’s tail but they wouldn’t really answer, they just told me they were designing my friend Elizabeth’s wedding dress, and then somehow I was back at my dad’s house and my family was all there, fine, although there had been some stuff stolen by the evil people and the house was sort of different, but not that different, and everything was more or less okay.

Being A Celebrity Does Not Qualify You To Be A Novelist, Part 2

It’s not that I’m concerned that she’ll take my solid place in the hundred-thousands on Amazon, because chances are she’ll sell a bajillion copies, but for the love of god, must I compete even peripherally with Nicole Richie? It makes me positively want to invite Selma Blair over to discuss Kafka.

Stella McToo Late Pants

I’m so glad I was too sick and too on my way to work yesterday to get over to H&M Thursday and find out whether or not I would become someone who pushed and shoved other unrich people to get a so-called affordably-priced tank top for fifty-nine dollars designed by Stella McCartney. Am I the only one who sees what’s wrong with this? I would love to be able to buy a few designer pieces now and again, but not at the cost of my ability to contain my violence, and it concerns me that our consumerist world has led those of us who can’t afford what the stars buy in multiple colors, to be willing to shove somebody out of the way for a pair of skinny zippered jeans that frankly, I wore in 1982 and don’t personally need to revisit anyway? I love a bargain as much as the next guy, but not enough to fight someone for it. I like a quiet bargain, a bargain that nobody noticed, like the deep pink vintage sweater with the little loopy edging I got this fall for seventeen bucks when vintage sweaters are rarely seen for less than sixty, not anywhere in my neighborhood, anyway.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In Other News

I have been relatively absent from my post as President, Vice-President and Secretary of standBy Bert of late because I have been busy perfecting my cough, which I like to do in the middle of the night, preferably for an hour or two at a time. When I have reached this goal, I promise to be back fulfilling my duties here as usual.

The Latest in Federliniana

The tabloids are suggesting there's trouble in paradise. I'm not trying to hear that.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Secret

I’ve been very far below the weather the last few days with a nasty chest cold, and thus, incommunicado. Many soupy thoughts have burbled around in my head in the phlegmmy haze, some deep, some shallow. Yesterday, in bed for most of the gray day, as Ben was upstairs painting, I flashed back to my single life with little fondness. (This is what happens when you have too much time to think, I guess, which I generally don’t, lately, which leads to a whole separate secret, though, which is that thinking is overrated and in my case leads mostly to despair and hopelessness.) Ben would take breaks and bring me cough syrup and tea, and I caught up on some shows I taped during the week and napped on and off. Anyway here’s my secret. All those single years, the longer I stayed single, the more I got used to inhabiting a largeish space all my own and all devoted to me, all about me, all me-centric all the time, and the more I came to conclude that if I were ever going to be in a relationship it would be an unending struggle, ongoing compromise, and a continual effort to “communicate.” To make someone understand me.

I was wrong.

And not just because it isn’t all about me. I did have another pet theory, though, tucked far in the back of my mind, that the above speculation was wrong, and that if I were to meet the right person, it wouldn’t be a struggle at all, and that, my friends, thankfully turned out to be true. So that is my secret for the day, if you are single and holding out. It doesn’t have to be hard to be real and good and true. (Which is not to also say that if it is hard it isn’t also real and good and true, since I can only speak for myself, but for me when it was hard, it was just hard, and it was almost always hard, which is why I thought it had to be hard, which is why I held out, because it was hard enough just being with myself, which is so totally silly, thinking about it now, because it’s of course much less hard to be with someone else, unless of course that’s only true because the person is Ben, which is possible, but I also think that if you don’t have a Ben, that doesn’t mean your Ben isn’t out there.) Yesterday, during the only part of the day that I was out of bed, Ben and I read the paper, and he said he was going to go to the studio for a while to work on something, and I said Ok, and for whatever reason, it occurred to me that that’s our whole relationship. Someone says something and the other one says ok. Ben said, Honey, I don’t like folding the towels in thirds, and I said, Ok, you don’t have to. Okay well it’s not our whole relationship, there’s the talking and the going to see art and the private-like stuff, but you see what I mean. No struggle. We struggle only with ourselves. It took being in a relationship, I guess, for me to see what a relationship was, or could be, and now that I’m in one, a lot of stuff that I thought mattered, towels folded in thirds and what have you, doesn’t matter so much.

Perhaps this is not as deep to you as it seems to me in my clogged-head state, but today it’s all I’ve got.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Oh. Dear.

I feel almost sure Vincent Gallo is telling a little story here. It seems like something he would do. But I would boldly italicize the word almost if I knew how. Anyway, story or not, the mind reels.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

He’s Right, I’m Not Ready

There’s really no need to listen to K-Fed’s upcoming disc to know that there’s no need to listen to it. When, when will these crazy kids today learn that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One Random Opinion

I don’t like it when people say Roe “vee” Wade.

Our Telephone is Curious

In the last year or so, our home telephone will go dead for a while, but then work again after we plug it into different outlet for a night. Then, after a few months when it goes dead again, it can be revived the same way, but not in the same different outlet. It has to be a different different outlet, but only a particular diffferent outlet which will not make itself known until trying several outlets first. I think this can only mean that telephone makers design phones to pretend to go dead so you'll buy a new one, when really, you just need to try different outlets.