Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday morning my father was getting ready for work when he received a call from a sweet young woman asking for him by first name. The caller ID said "JBL Management" with a 410 area code -- Maryland, the parts away from the city.

"I was hoping," the young lady said with a gentle country lilt, "that you'd be able to perform a Jewish wedding ceremony in October."

My father paused. "Um, I think maybe you've dialed the wrong number, Miss. I'm not a rabbi."

"Oh, I know," she said, "I was looking for a rabbi or a cantor."

"And how exactly did you find me?" my father asked. I wasn't there but I imagine the brusque tone he effects for telemarketers softened then, as he recognized the woman's mistake miles before she'd see the sign. The man has the patience of a saint. Or a father of four.

"Well my boss told me to secure an officiant for our client's wedding -- a rabbi or a cantor, since they're a Jewish couple -- so I did a Google search and found your name."

"I see," my father said. "Well, I am a Cantor, Miss, but unfortunately in name only."

"Oh."

A few seconds into the uncomfortable silence that followed Dad realized the message wasn't getting through.

"What I mean is, 'cantor' and 'rabbi' are job titles, but they can also be names. For example..." I can just imagine my father leaning on his arm against the kitchen counter at this point, settling into the lesson he was about to impart; he does love to teach. He explained that a goldsmith named, say, Joe Rabbi might be the go-to guy to craft her clients' wedding bands, but he would not be qualified to declare them man and wife. Rabbi Joe Goldsmith, however, would be of more use on their wedding day.

The woman thanked my father, hung up the phone and probably scratched a few more names off her list.

I just hope the little bumpkin figures things out before the clients ask her to plan a bris.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today I celebrated the birth of spring with my first riverside run of the season.

There's something about the late-afternoon sunlight sparkling on the Potomac -- it's like a long, sequined train on an old-Hollywood Bob Mackie gown -- that makes me so aware of my lungs and my heart and my skin and the incredible mechanics of being alive.

Last fall I brought along my camera and strung together a few shots along the way -- Watergate, Kennedy Center, memorials, Corcoran... D.C. really is such a cool city.

click me!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Not one hour after I'd dropped my parents and my grandmother at the airport to catch their flight to Tel Aviv, my mother called me from her cellphone. Before I answered I made a silent bet with myself -- either she was bored, or someone's passport had been left in the kitchen drawer.

Turns out it was neither: Once the reluctant subject (perpetrator) of so many you-just-can't-make-this-stuff-up tales, my mother has evolved into a devoted field reporter, phoning me without delay to describe every blogworthy run-in with store clerks, family members and low-ranking security officials.

"You're gonna love this one," she chuckled. "Take notes."

Apparently, as my family were inching through the airport security check, the inspectors repeated their mantra - "no liquids, no gels, no aerosols" - in the vain hope that some amongst the herd would take initiative and spare them a bit of work and time.

"We were getting closer and closer to the front of the line, and as we were taking off our shoes Grandma started looking a little panicky," Mom said. "Daddy noticed too. So we asked her what in the world was wrong."

"Dey said no aerosols," said Grandma in a worried tone. "I don't know vhat to do. I hev a few in my bag."

"A few? We're only going for a week. It's not even the humid season yet! Just how much hairspray did you think you would need?"

She spat back, "I'm vorried about how I'm goink to valk around all day; who gives a crep about my hair?"

And for a moment the three of them stood there staring at each other, until the light bulb flashed above my mother's head.

"Oh, Ma..." she said through a relieved sigh, "It's fine. You're allowed to bring your Aerosoles on the plane."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

the lesson of the moth
by Don Marquis

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself



I'm not one for poetry but this I really, really like. Someone sent it to me yesterday.

To the moth I say, "I feel you, brother," though I do plan to stick around a while.

I think a lot of people -- a lot more than would ever admit or even realize it -- remain, hold out, trudge on... out of guilt. As painful as it may be to wait out the hours between waking and sleep, they just couldn't live with the pain they'd cause their loved ones if they decided to depart. Not that they'd have to live with it, but... guilt is largely an anticipatory emotion.

And there are other factors, like hope that this elusive "beauty," or even just a reason to pull back the covers when daylight draws you out of dreaming, is just around the corner. Someone once told me that for years and years she just went through the motions, day by day. "It's not that I wanted to end it all," she said, "but for the most part, I was waiting to die." It wasn't, it isn't, easy to admit that I understood exactly what she meant. If you've ever wondered what it's like to live with medium-grade depression, that pretty much sums it up. (There's also a proprietary blend of guilt, anxiety and self-doubt mixed in; think of it as the Cold Stone Creamery of mental illness.) It's an utter lack of motivation -- no drive to live, no drive to die, you're just carried along by your heartbeat day after day after day.

I think the number of humans who are truly happy to exist -- not like that kamikaze moth but for the long haul -- is... actually, quite large. My first thought was just a few, but globally speaking there are probably far more out there who look forward to tomorrow's wonders than those who wait for the end of their days. We just don't see them, except maybe on the Discovery Channel, because they live in less "civilized" parts of the world.

My take on the secret to happiness? Decivilize: Downsize, simplify, live basically and indulge a few simple passions.

like human beings
used to be

Friday, March 09, 2007

She was never much of a typist, my Mom. You might say my father was the lifeguard who saved her from drowning in the steno pool. Growing up, before we joined the Computer Age, our house would fill with the sounds of Mom's electric typewriter backing up – "corrrrect, corrrrect, corrrrect" – as she hammered out business letters in her office at home.

As you can imagine, my mother's digital deficiency makes for amusement at e-mail time. Last month after reading my Valentine's Day blog entry she sent me an encouraging note, the new-fashioned way. (It took some years but she’s finally realized that the phone is not the best way to reach me. Now Mom's feeding me a steady diet of three to five e-mails a day.) As usual she typed her message fast and furiously and flung it on its way. Shoot first, check spelling later -- that's just how the lady gets her business done.

Here's to beautiful hearts filled with love, good feelings and lots of tasty things to eat. You're my girl!
Happy Valentine's Day Sweetie,
Nothing tastes better than reading your words.
Calorie free, but feels you up!
You made my day!
I Love you,
Mom

Yeah, fourth line from the bottom. You read that right. As sweet as it is fantastically hilarious.

But, as they say, there is no such thing as comedy without victims. Enter: alswrite(at)wrongemail.com.

In attempting to send me the following message – and, apparently, numerous others in the past few weeks – my mother had left a ‘w’ out of my address (she blames the keyboard) and hurriedly hit "Send" without checking the “To” line first.

Hi Sweetie, Hope you got your exercise and rest yesterday. Sounds like they put you thru the mill at work.

Wanted to tell you of some fabulous healthy muffins I found at Trader Joe’s. They are called "Moral Fiber." Very healthy. Flavor is orange/cranberry. No sugar (just white grape juice). Very high fiber, low fat. Cut in half toasted with a little light cream cheese. They are delicious!! I'm hooked. Love, Mom


The message did eventually reach me, forwarded along with this note from the unintended recipient:

-----Original Message-----
From: alswrite(at)wrongemail.com
Subject: great muffins

You know, this is getting really annoying. I'm being nice by telling you that you're emailing the wrong person because I don't want you to think your emails have gotten to your daughter. But it's really starting to get on my nerves.

Honestly, it was kinder than I might have been. I’m sure that after five or six or a dozen misfires this innocent bystander was at his or her wit’s end.

My mother didn’t see it that way.

“Where's his sense of humor?" She was indignant on the phone. (This incident had warranted a call.) "'All's right' my ass. I don’t think all’s right in this guy’s life. I have this little fantasy…”

My ears tensed at the tone of voice that puts the rest of our family on Lucy Ricardo alert.

“I think he’s this lonely, unhappy young man, and all he really needs is for someone to be his Mommy. Maybe I can give him advice and stuff; be his pen pal, his surrogate Mom.”

“LEAVE HIM ALONE,” I warned, bracing for the sort of misunderstanding that involves a 57-year-old Jewish mother and a restraining order.

But I didn’t hear from her the rest of the day and figured the matter was at rest – until I received another forwarded message, originally sent that morning from my mother to alswrite(at)wrongemail.com:

Sorry again for the mistaken identity.
But you might as well try the muffins.
Maybe it'll put you in a better mood!!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

a heart full of love. and butter.

Happy Lonely Consumer Victimization Day! The media outlets are abuzz with romantic tips, tricks and recipes to help you rope and wrangle the object of your desire. For its part, The Washington Post Food section offers a recipe for Man-Catcher Brownies (as tested, tasted and lovingly refined by staff writer Leigh Lambert).

It's a pretty basic concoction that produces twenty-four 2-inch blocks of fudgy goodness. Delicious, I'm sure -- if only I could get past the first ingredient: 12 ounces (3 sticks) of unsalted butter.

I e-mailed the page link to a girlfriend along with my commentary: "I fail to see how a recipe that calls for three sticks of butter could possibly help one catch a man."

"Um, I beg to differ," she wrote back. "Men LOVE LOVE LOVE butter."

"Sure -- in baked goods, not women. Unless you count bare breasts slathered with brownie batter. (What, you think they'd rather lick the bowl?) I guess Man-Catcher Brownies are meant to be given, not shared."

When I watch the Barefoot Contessa dump pounds of butter into her pots and mixing bowls it makes me wretch a little. I'm not sure who's been brainwashed -- she or me. Probably me... though I wouldn't be shocked to find Ina's Amazing Arteries in the cookbook aisle at Borders. Keep it up, Ina, and you might expire before your next batch of scones. (Man, I'll bet her shiva would be catered to the nines...)

But in the sage words of the prophet Woody, "The heart wants what it wants." Ina's heart wants fresh butter. Mine wants a little fresh air, so I've declared a moratorium on romance today. Dating is fun but for now, still basking in that just-out-of-prison glow, I need to keep things light. (My motto of late: "I ain't goin' back inside -- not for you, not for anybody!")

And now, since my office is closed and my neighborhood has finally been plowed, I'm going to express my abiding love for cashmere at the Bloomingdale's V-Day sale.

Ardor, chocolate, sweaters, sex... May you find and savor the thing that most floats your boat.

xoxox,


Monday, February 12, 2007

Didja see me? Didja see me?


Wheeee, that was fun! The neurotic campaign of harassment I waged against one very patient photographer was worth it (to me) in the end: I was not ugly in The Washington Post, and everything worked out fine. Except...

See, just before the new year I succumbed to a seven-year itch and installed cable in my apartment for the first time since Y2K. As part of my Comcast "deal" ("you pay us on time; we serve you when we're not busy scratching our butts"), I had to replace my home phone and DSL with digital cable service. Which meant a new home phone number. That I forgot to un-list.

At about 9:00 Sunday morning my phone rang. I don't use the phone a lot so when my line does light up I feel obligated to answer. I think it's a guilt issue; voicemail feels like such a cold shoulder.

The nameless number on my caller ID was not familiar. Neither was the voice that asked for me by name. He introduced himself politely and told me he'd read my little piece in the paper. "And I wanted to tell you," he said, "not to worry about the wrinkles. It gets better with age."

The man asked me to join him for brunch that day. I politely declined and said I already had plans. He asked if we could do it another time. Then I did the thing I don't like to do: I lied.

"Actually, I'm involved with someone." My face flushed as soon as I said it. I really, really, really hate to lie.

He declared my boyfriend a lucky man. He also said something about wanting to be a racecar driver... I'm not sure how that fit into the conversation, but there it was. I wished him luck with that, and bid him goodbye. He was a nice man. Calling a stranger takes cojones.

I knew my Mom would get a kick out of this.

"What did you say when he asked you to brunch?" she asked. I could hear her not breathing while she waited for my response. She never wants to miss a beat.

"I told him I had a boyfriend."

"Why did you do that!? Give him a chance! He might have been someone fascinating!"

I could already see this escalating into an argument so I played the one card guaranteed to nip it in the bud:

"Ma, his name was Christopher."

She paused. "Oh, well okay. We can let Christopher go. But if Joshua or Moishe calls, for God's sake pick up the phone!"

(For the record, I do not discriminate between Christophers and Moishes; I'm not that kind of Jew. I was merely trying to dodge a pointless fight.)

At that moment my call waiting beeped and again I answered blindly, like a fool. Christopher said that while he totally respects my (fictitious) relationship, he was wondering if we could have a coffee -- just as friends. I told him I'm very busy at work and barely have time even to see my... (God, forgive me for lying) boyfriend. And actually that part is true if you replace "see my boyfriend" with "read last month's Glamour and soak in the tub." Christopher asked if he could call me again a little while down the road. Since I'm as good at saying "No" as I am at ignoring a ringing phone, I answered, "Alright..." in a tone that implied, "Really, don't," and though I'm truly flattered I hope that was the last of that.

That night, while my friend Dave was sleuthing out the origin of Christopher's mysterious phone number (it was a Baptist church in Silver Spring -- I figured he'd called after services; pessimist Dave said he was probably homeless), my phone rang again. This number also came up without a name, but it was a D.C. exchange. Of course by now I knew better but curiosity tipped my hand.

"Is this Danielle?"

"Yes..." I sort of growled.

"My name is Kenneth Lang. I'm writing a book about women with really unique, interesting types of looks, and how their appearances have made their lives interesting..."

I didn't have anything better to do at the moment so I played along. "And what type of look do I have, then?"

Go ahead and say 'Jewish,' buddy. I fucking dare you to go there.

"Well, you just look... different. Unique."

I paused a second longer than necessary. This guy was so not writing a book, but I was dying to see how far he'd draw out the charade. "Alright, I'll bite. What do you want to know?"

My unexpected willingness unnerved him.

"Well... um... would you say your life has been... um... interesting?"

"That's kind of a vague question, Kenneth," I replied without a lick of humor. "Could you be a little more specific?"

"Well I can tell by your voice you're kind of... what's the word..."

"Apprehensive? Suspicious?"

"Yeah. That's it. So maybe this isn't..."

"I guess I'm a tough interview, huh Kenneth?"

He blew a frustrated sigh. "I guess you are." I'm not sure what else he was expecting, phoning a stranger with some cock-and-bull story about a book he'd never think to read, let alone write. I figure he had imagined the scenario playing out more like this:

Kenneth: "So, would you say your life has been interesting?"

Danielle: "Why yes, yes it has! I meet all sorts of interesting people every day. I eat interesting food, wear interesting panties and even sleep in an interesting four-poster king-size bed at 5824 Beach Street, apartment 204! Also, for your reference, my Social Security number is 123-45-6789, I bank at Wachovia, and I am worth 50 million dollars. Say, Kenneth, how would you like to come over right now and have sex on a pile of money?"


Unfortunately for Kenneth I wasn't feeling generous -- not with my time, not with my booty, and not with my 50 million bucks.

So Sunday is over. And while I would like to milk my 15 minutes the same way I celebrate my birthday for a full seven days, duty calls and I must get back to earning a living. That four-poster bed won't pay for itself.

Friday, February 09, 2007

a ninth-grade photo and a root canal, all rolled into one

See my avatar? (It sees you!) That little eye inspired this post a year ago last fall. After much procrastination and quite a bit of forgetting I whittled that baby down to 100 words and e-mailed it last month to the The Washington Post, for consideration as a Sunday Style Life is Short.

They replied immediately! With a form letter. It thanked me for my submission and said if I hadn't heard any good news in three weeks I should resume breathing. I sighed and let it go.

But then! Two days later! A phone call! "Congratulations, we'd like to publish your essay," said Mary-from-The-Washington-Post. In my mind's eye she was smartly bespectacled, with a warm smile and a pencil through her bun.

"We'll be sending one of our photographers out to take your picture next week."

Mary sprouted horns and blew a raspberry with her forked tongue.

I don't like greenbeans. I don't like suburbs. And I definitely don't like cameras.

Oh, I've got my reasons. Shyness, mixed with vestigial insecurity about my goofy adolescent face. Mostly it's about control -- I must be the first pair of eyes on any portrayal of my being, and wield veto power as I see fit. It's like the laser that shoots misshapen potato chips off the factory line: I will decide what's fit for public consumption -- and what is not.

Rebecca the Photographer phoned me the next day. I was fully prepared to tell her thanks, but I'm going to have my father take the picture because, well, I'm a little neurotic, and maybe kinda vain, and while I'm sure you're more than capable, at least if I keep this awkward exercise in the family I'll have some say over the outcome...

She was disarmingly kind.

"But I'm a designer; I'll probably try to art-direct you," I warned.

She said, "It's okay, I'm an artist too."

"I might cry."

Rebecca laughed and told me not to worry. We decided she would meet me Saturday afternoon at Cafe Deluxe, where I'd be lunching with friends.

Somehow I made it through the rest of the week without sprouting a zit. I drank two cups of diuretic tea Friday night to stave off any bloating. Saturday I spent 30 minutes applying too much makeup and another 45 wriggling in and out of every sweater I own, only to yank on my faithful black tee before launching myself out the door, shamefully late for lunch. My mirrored powder compact sat open on the table: First I fished out a rogue sweater fiber that threatened to redden my eye. Then I checked my teeth. And my lipgloss. And my pores, one by one. My friends were very understanding.

You probably expect me to say that all the apprehension was for naught; that once the clicking began I rose to the occasion and posed with the candid grace of a National Geographic gazelle. Yes, I could say that. But it would be a big fat overpowdered lie.

If you have never been on the business end of a professional camera, by all means give it a try. Not only are you painfully aware that each of your cells is being cataloged for posterity, the lens is so wide and shiny you can actually watch yourself shifting, squirming and wearing too much eyeliner -- from a distance of eight little inches. (Rebecca was going for detail.) It was like being pressed onto a microscope slide. I felt like a virus.

Rebecca was kind enough to show me her digital shots as we went along. I was inconsolable. "My face is too round! Why am I doing that with my lip? God, are my teeth really that big? Maybe I should have brought my laptop so we could see this on the screen. Do you want to come to my house so we can look at them there? No? I only live a few blocks away. Please don't let me be ugly in The Washington Post."

Rebecca seemed like a nice person, certainly a talented person, but not the sort of person who has a long fuse for high-strung persons like me. She was nearing the end of her rope so I decided to go for broke:

"Look, I just went through one of the nastiest breakups in the history of the civilized world. And let's be honest -- " I effected my best just-between-us-girls face -- "I'm all for living well, but looking hot in public is really the best revenge."

I don't know a woman alive who'd disagree with that. Rebecca promised to e-mail her top picks to me before she sent them to the paper, though after the way I'd exasperated her I half expected a shot of her middle finger instead.

Whatever the source of my discomfort in all this -- looking at my own face, or my face looking back at me -- the outcome is more or less irrelevant since I am not the intended beholder. My personal Peanut Gallery confirmed that of the three final shots, two were fit to print and one didn't look a thing like me. Which one will be published is anyone's guess.

'Til then, since Rebecca's had enough of me, I'll be bargaining with God. (Please don't let me be ugly in The Washington Post...)

Monday, February 05, 2007

search party

I held out for a while, but you knew at least one "Now that I'm dating again..." post was headed your way:

One month into my social reawakening I've met a few nice boys with the help of my dot-com daters' clearinghouse of choice. It's a capricious little exercise; a flurry of e-flirtations from one man, a resumé delivered line by line from another. Neither the flashes in the pan nor the long, slow fizzles have ignited any sort of flame -- perhaps because I'm not ready to risk another burn.

R appeared in my inbox early last month. Each time I'd answer one of his vaguely interested queries he would wait a few days and volley back a brief, almost laconic response. Just as the fly fishing was getting stale he finally asked me to dinner. I had a fine time. The conversation was better than the pizza. At one point R asked, “What did you think of me while I was e-mailing you, before we actually met?”

“To tell you the truth,” I said, “I felt like you were sizing me up. Y'know, to determine if I’d be worth your time.”

He nodded thoughtfully, like a professor impressed by an astute protégé. “And what did you think about that?” Benign condescension amuses me so I continued to play.

“Well I figured it was one of two things: Either you were a stuck-up asshole who couldn’t be bothered to flesh out a paragraph, or you were a busy man who knows himself and what he wants. The latter I could respect, plus I thought you were kinda cute, so I followed you down the rabbit hole.”

At this he chuckled, a little surprised by my moxie I guess, and we nodded in silent understanding that this was the start of nothing more than a beautiful friendship.

Conversation danced around dating for the next while; R and I talked about those criteria by which we all screen potential mates, and the exhaustive checklist -- ranging from height to multilingualism (Tagalog and Urdu? Go figure.) to a melange of religious minutiae -- put forth by the website that linked us.

"What about you?" R asked. "Deal-breakers? Must-haves?" In a heartbeat I cited honesty as a non-negotiable -- a point on which I'd suspected, since our perfectly level eye-to-eye greeting, he might fall a little bit… short. (Sure, he's 5'8" like I'm a natural redhead.) R then submitted, somewhat sourly, that many women place great emphasis on a man’s net worth. The honest angel on my right shoulder couldn't disagree, though the feisty feminist on my left almost advised him that writing "highly successful business" and "exotic vacations" in his dating profile would not help shake the gold diggers out of his sheets.

Anyway, I enjoyed the evening, and R and I will probably never see each other again, which is fine with me. He left me with some satisfying food for thought: Romantic search procedures, and how they evolve throughout our lives.

In grade school a Y chromosome was enough to precipitate a crush. By the time puberty was frothing our milk we'd refined the search to non-nerds, but experience had yet to impart any useful wisdom. (Smarter girls learned to discern before all the good dorks were taken.) Now, as adults, we approach with trepidation... and if enough aesthetic checkpoints pass muster, the silent questions fire:

Are you smart?
Are you kind?
Can you make me laugh?
Can you make me come?
Are you a Democrat?
Are you gay? (Are you sure?)

The point of all this... I'm not really sure. As a wise and sensitive person recently pointed out, I am "spending time alone and getting to know myself by bouncing off a variety of different people." Writing it out helps me process the new personalities popping and flowing and stomping in and out of my life. It's terribly exciting. And maybe that's the point -- to cease the searching and let it come. And let it go. And watch what happens, instead of looking for something to arrive. Not that I'd approach it any other way.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

He was tall, wiry and Bronx-to-riches chic. From the neck up: Danish frames, meticulous bedhead and a carefully cultivated three-day growth. From the neck down: body-skimming black, crisp and lean.

"You have beautiful hair," he murmured, fingering one copper ringlet so it coiled around his pinky just so. Bold, considering we had only just met.

Then he grabbed a fistful of my locks, in that gentle-aggressive way men learn watching Guiding Light on the home-sick days of their youth, and leaned in close to inhale.

"I don't recognize the scent, but I like it. Very... feminine."

Shameless.

His smile was practiced, almost predatory (to a trained eye, at least). No doubt it earned him an enviable rate of return. I knew of his reputation -- he was good, really good. But not my style.

"Come see me Saturday," he said. "I've got a busy weekend but I promise, if you come I'll be all yours." Any other woman would have leapt at this offer; I knew it and clearly so did he.

"Thanks," I shrugged, "but I'm already with someone." I must admit I felt empowered.

It was my eyebrow that got me out of this one, as it often does, cocking slightly to signal 'enough.' His grin held, but his eyes narrowed. This man was neither attuned nor accustomed to "No."

"Here's my number, in case you change your mind." His card was slick and overstated; no surprises there. I accepted it graciously, careful not to dismiss -- you never know when you might need someone, after all -- and we went our separate ways.

That Saturday I arrived to warmth and smiles from my faithful J. We took some time to get reacquainted before I peeled off my sweater and gently unwound my braids. And finally, as I yielded to those trusted, knowing hands, came the question I'd been waiting months to hear:

"Cut and color, same as always?"

Happy five-year anniversary to Jessica, my one and only.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's just been one of those days. One of those days when your office building catches fire just as you're on the verge on a creative breakthrough, and you have to abandon your Adobe Illustrator document and the idea that went (quite literally) up in smoke when the alarm started to wail, and you forget to grab your scarf and your gym bag with the $140 (totally meltable) Asics inside, and none of the firemen is even remotely sexy, and when Officer Moustache finally gives you the all-clear with two chubby thumbs up you climb seven flights of stairs in four-inch heels and then stop for a pee before getting back to work, only to realize that your underwear has been inside-out since 7:30 a.m.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

have you met my boyfriend?

I know this guy -- a close friend, actually -- who's rather in touch with his intuition. He likes to interpret his dreams. All of them. There was a period several years ago when he would call me each and every morning with a elaborate account of the goings on in dreamland the night before, asking me to decipher the meaning in flaming midgets or the color puce as they pertained to his fate. Finally I bought him a dream interpretation book at my local head shop so he might learn to figure things out on his own.

And I created a monster. A monster with a journal by his bed and a 'clairvoyant' confidence so inflated it threatens to burst at any time. His favorite joke: "I'm so good at divining the future... I can do it in my sleep!" Har. Har. Haaaaaaarrrrrr.

A couple weeks ago, just after the new year began, my friend sent me this e-mail:

"The other night I had a dream about you, and in it I learned that in 2007 you will come to date a young man named James. I believe James is slightly younger than you (but not scandalously so), he is Jewish, with dark brown hair that is somewhat more than wavy and somewhat less than curly. His hair is a bit unkempt and his bangs sometimes hang over his eyes. James is about six feet tall and lanky and I believe excelled at an alternative sport, perhaps ultimate frisbee. James often does not shave for a day or two, in the fashionable way of young men in their late 20's, and he can present himself thusly at his job (yes, he's employed), which I presume but did not clearly see must be a non-profit organization. Here's the kicker: James is French, or of French descent.

"So, you're all set."

I replied:

"Non-profit, you say? I hope James has le trust fund, 'cause baby likes her Neiman's -- and none of that after-season sale business either ;)

(A joke, of course. I have never visited Neiman Marcus, except to use the bathroom once. But I did buy a winter coat for $16 last week at Old Navy (where they probably know me by name) and I've been telling everyone in town about my great big bargain ever since.)

"Thank you for this glimpse into my future -- I hope it proves more accurate than your premonition last June in which G and I lived happily ever after. I'll allow for some margin of error this time and try to muster optimism for suitors with any and all foreign accents, and names that begin with the letter J."


So I'm putting out an A.P.B. for my dream guy, hatched by the psyche of someone who knows me at least as well as I know myself. That may be even better than a dream of my own.

Tall. Dark. Foreign. Five-o'clock shadow and frisbee in hand. If you see him, kindly send him my way.

Monday, January 08, 2007

What time is it? How long have I been asleep? It's 2007? Jesus Christ, I hope somebody's been seeing to my bills.

So I've been gone for a while. Oh, thanks, but I don't really want to talk about it. The CliffsNotes: Someone I loved did a very bad thing. I'd give it an 8.5 on a 10-point scale of interpersonal transgressions. And I went through what I'll call my Dorothy Gale period: Sort of lost, trying to comprehend how I came to land in such a mess, how I would find my way out, how the systemic failure of heart, brain and courage can allow a person to create so much pain, or to absorb it. I'm almost back now... only I didn't hitch a ride in some magic balloon, I had to hoof it all the way from the Land of Blahhhhhs. (If I'd only had a train...)

Here's my silver lining: It wasn't the end of me, so I must be stronger. Now's my time to fashion the lessons of this personal apocalypse into tools that'll save me down the line. I'm resourceful that way; practical, creative... I'm the relationship MacGyver.

If anyone is reading this... thank you for your patience. I'll be home soon.