I went to Mass this morning. It was in the downstairs chapel. Downstairs chapel never bothers me bc I like the secret, early-seekrit-Christians vibe of it plus Our Lady of Guadalupe is always in the "overflow" area of any sanctuary.
Between the homily & the Eucharist, a guy walked in. It is not an understatement to describe him as disheveled. A 7am weekday Mass is all-comers, not unlike a meeting of [Anything] Anonymous, or a tavern on Christmas, or actually any house of worship anywhere at any time, although in my experience, the truly downhearted avoid the lustrous. (To wit: my adoration of Easter vigil.)
Anyhow, since we were to the portion of liturgical rote response, my mind was of course free to wonder if he was a gunman. Well, no, because, in the first place, murderous anti-papist sentiment went out with the air-traffic controllers' union for sure, but what if? We must always be ready! Trust no one!
Then I thought abt how I don't know the names of any of the deceased, although in a multiple-choice question, I'm sure I would pick the right name for the shooter. It made me sad, how he is hogging everyone's mental space, and a little angry so that in the end I was glad to be at Mass. Better than yoga! No changing afterward! Just as much crying!
Had you seen this?
The part about how he sneaked over to see her dance with her girlfriends is too much. It made me happy to know they had been in the world, once.
Garçon is on a canoeing expedition. Or some kind of a thing, I don't care. Fille & I are lying around in the restfulness of his absence -- at the same time as this endless-feeling B-school break -- eating bean salads & taking naps. Mari is working hard or hardly working, idk, prob depends on whom you ask.
He doesn't pay attention the same as the rest of us, for sure. He saw Garçon's portage sneakers tied onto his backpack with two half-hitches & stopped.
"Did you ... How do you ... ?"
Omg, like hello, sailor is how, God Almighty!
Then I took the photo bc bam: bloggable!
It's so warm here! Love you xxoxo
Basically, I just don't know how things are going to be this summer with these kids. Honestly.
I was telling Mari that I don't think I know enough about the Dalai Lama. I was doing something else & then I found out that this Dalai Lama is the fourteenth Dalai Lama & it just seems like there should be more, you know? I mean ... they have to find them in between, I know, but how do they know where to look? Do they look? Or does the Dalai Lama just appear?
Also, whatever I have learned about the Dalai Lama in this life is mixed-up with whatever I saw in The Last Emperor. I'll have to get it right.
While we chatted, Mari commented on how I have seen the current Dalai Lama thrice as many times as the pope, any pope. Yes. Will we see Pope Francis on his stop along the NE Corridor later this year? Who can say? They'll prob find a way to fuck it up back East here. I don't know. I do like this one pope, which would not be a thing which I would think of, except the interim guy between real popes was so awful (!), that guy, Nobody's Pope Now, ugh.
"The cool thing about the Dalai Lama, honey," Mari said, "is that any time you see the Dalai Lama, he is always the same guy."
Yes. He is so smart, my man.
Lillo is ailing! & so far from us, too! It's breaking news! When Mari called yesterday, Fifille said, "Hi, Daddy. Lillo has [redacted]!"
I am pre-eating all the hot dogs. Last summer, I traveled from cookout to cookout with a little Chicago-dog kit, but this year I plan to just not eat bc Hi, love you, let's go, no, ok, noyb, bye! clean getaway. Yk how I am, or you've gathered xoxox
I resolved before I left for February's crazy, revolving-door-at-La-Concha trip to San Juan that a lot of things would be different, that I would be different, respond differently in every direction. Kowalski fell ill which, by definition, (in my plan to be myself/ I became someone else) changed a bunch of things. Oh.
Whether he was ailing or not, I would never tell him I'd gone. First of all bc that guy knows everything about me, starting with the way I tuck my hair only behind my left ear although not including -- until very recently -- how I do not like to eat with my hands. To do anything but slip out the back (Jack) would be an insult.
I think that at first he didn't notice -- maybe it was the re-entry, the kids' birthdays; he was not working -- admitted to the hospital and/or home on sick leave. During the worst of these times, two of his three sisters were predictably-hateful in their reliable engagement of me although he only heard about it because I was uncharacteristically scathing in my refusal of them. All of our exchanges -- what we know, what we think we know -- were saturated in a confusing coloration which blurred for us the time-space continuum of premonition and reminiscence. No surprise it took so long for him to realize.
After he went back to work at the start of May, he reached out a few times. I responded as necessary while covering my eyes so no one could see me, you know, your basic Ramona-style. I am sure my invisibility seemed like my usual sylph routine or maybe a trick of the light.
I was brought to answer for myself here at home when, during the sturm und drang of our son's most-recent capers, Mari noticed I had not spent one minute letting Kowalski push me on a metaphorical swing. He is often aghast when confronted with how terrible I am when it is so little of who he knows me to be.
"After all of these years, you will just let him twist in the wind like that?"
I shrugged. "Especially." I mean, seriously, enough anyway, come on.
Some time in the last month Kowalski used his great, big torch to look all over & underneath the house plus in the garage and came up empty. That is because I was not there. Thursday, he called. I took the call, putting my metaphorical hands over my eyes. Things seemed totally chill, so I wavered a tiny bit to ask without peeking.
Basically he was like: I put down my torch so I can see you. Will you talk to me?
Ahahaha! Yah, ok, it's been 20 years, be my friend or don't but quit being so fucking mad at me.
I didn't say that, lol, (like I don't know anyone can read it here) but in my mind, I stepped into the glowy light of a sconce I watched him put up in 1992. It seemed like I was staying quiet, but at the same time, I told him everything, and things are fine now.
Mari came home that night and, struck by my languor, asked if I had talked to the Israeli (!) that day so I guess we've come to the right tone one time now. Even so, whatever else, I am, like, the luckiest girl in the world.
Hey, elderflowers smell the best. I always want to clip them to dry & use for the herbal pharmaceutical pantry, but they aren't expensive to buy dried and holy wow, the smell, srsly. B-school is still out on break, love you xoxox
The world smells incredible.You know how it goes: Mme Carriére blooms & then I start putting up herbal tinctures like crazy; showing up desultorily to backyard parties filled with a. strangers or b. people I already know perfectly well I don't want to talk to; a few trips all along the Northeast Corridor, long stretches specializing in contractor management & coöp living in our DC house. This year, Fifille will begin Stage 2 orthodontic treatment, so there is my summer. BAM!
I bought an orchid because I felt like I need a project. Sadly, it isn't really much of one, now that I have read up on it. I guess when it goes out of flower it will become a project, if I want it to flower again. In the meantime, it looks pretty.
I was thinking, another day, of what I would say at anyone's wake, like, different people. I guess I thought of it first because of the lava in Kowalski's impending doom. Kowalski wants to come visit us. He isn't working right now but at the same time feels well enough to drive across the country. I don't know.
His request made me laugh, and I told him to call Mari and work it out with him.
"Be prepared to answer the question of the dichotomy of how I can not show my face in your county of residence but you will arrive here, chastely."
He talked for a super-long time longer than normal & none of what he said was surprising.
"I understand why it is different, hon; I understand you. My husband may not, in fact."
I was instructed to inform my husband that he may well be dying. Well, get in line anyway & don't be a quitter besides. If you come, bring an instrument bc we're getting a piano, ahahaha!
Anyhow, once I was thinking of people's wakes, I could not stop.
You guys, don't be mad but I can't hardly think of one story which is relevant to any of our relationships I would share in mixed company. Like, you know, the story about the time [redacted] so I went to get the punch bowl from the top of the china cabinet and [redacted] but we got everything cleaned up and convinced [redacted] it was all a dream, but it actually really happened just like she always said before she [redacted], so it wasn't ever that we were in love, but we were co-conspirators, keeping our enemies closer, surprise!
I was telling Kowalski about this (why not because it was him who started it & get well, anyway) kind of at the time, to prove that I am preparing with great focus for any tasks in reluctant civility which might lie ahead, but wondering what the lack of appropriate material to share even says about me. I mean, even if I would share anything, if the material is not empirically objectionable, it is my story to hold for the other person, who would no longer speak for themselves. So naturally I would shut up anyway. :|
Kowalski said that none of this is surprising & in fact why people open up to me, they always have. Well, maybe so, but to me it's more like people share a little & I stay rooted to the spot, wishing they could stop, and in the presence of my silence, they keep talking. It is a nightmare, one I often & over again brought to a screeching halt by taking off my blouse for a start, which worked until it started again, the confessing, always terrifyingly more trenchant than before.
"Thanks," he said. "That's super-romantic."
Ok, well, sure. Let us wonder no more how I became so repellent after moving to a place where people know no boundaries and still.
People here are so easy to keep back because of their relentless competitiveness & self-delusion. Two days ago, I was asking a woman if she knew the approximate weight of the gold she was crowing to our whole gathering about selling, and she said, "Why, how would that help you?"
Which, ok, rude, question-with-a-question, are you eleven? But I said, matter-of-factly, that I would weigh the gold I was thinking of selling before I bothered to take a trip across the county. Keep up with this story!
She said, to me, "What?! Like on your food scale from Weight Watchers?"
I know, you're like, "What a bitch!" I was, too. Becalm yourself, I was all over it. I was reeling from the acid in her rejoinder, but used it to fuel my scathing reply.
"Oh, my gawd! Are you still baking by volume?!?"
Srsly, look how easy. Believe me when I tell you I guarantee she cried herself to sleep. Also, trust me when I tell you that late at night when I can't sleep I wonder if living among these savages has turned me into an actual sociopath. I think this is what is meant when it is said that you can't go home again, probably.
I made granola from a new recipe in this new-ish Junger book I have out from the library. Je demeure xox
In the ongoing work of nourishing vegetarian children, I made Susun Weed's legendary iron-enhancement tonic. (http://www.mothercultureone.com/iron-deficiency-formula.html)
I had to brew it up twice because the first time, finally finished, as I poured it into the jar, the bottom of the jar fell right out. This was especially upsetting (well, besides the hours & hours of reducing by evaporation to a 25% volume) bc in the whole time I had to contemplate the end of the instructions, I could not figure why a tonic with honey & brandy which would be refrigerated during the eight days it would take to use it up ... well why would you have to pour it so hotly in a sterilized jar? Just don't spit in it & everything should be fine.
But after all that thinking, plus how I skirted the assiduous stovetop minding by putting it in the oven at 205, I just thought, "Yk, follow the instructions." The instructions broke my jar. Plus all but the quarter-cup of the tonic I hadn't poured was gone + kind of a significant mess to clean up.
At least I didn't get burned.
In other nourishment news: the kid who happens to be vegan bc he's a vegetarian who eschews milk & eggs plus is allergic to all the fortified cereal products out there prob needs B-12 supplementation. Thanks for telling me, no one.
I would feel bad, tragically responsible, except Dr iPad is the one who is such a gasbag about supplementation all the time, blah blah blah cult of D3, and she knows the kid's dietary shite so it's not hardly all down to me, what do I hire these condescending nitwits for anyway? Egads. I mean, look! She said iron & I've been all over it! I lost a jar!
Garçon & I had a terrific fracas this morning, speaking of tragically responsible, but I don't actually care too much abt it. He should prob just do what is required of him & stop trying to blame everyone else for how things don't go his way, like, enough, srsly.
See you love you bye xoxo
Seriously ahahaha, & it feels good to laugh but all this time, all the millions of things that have happened in the last 20 years and espesh the last four & Kowalski today texts xo, like I'm his Girl Scout summer camp roomie ahahaha.
That guy. I just want him to get well.
Mari & I have been watching True Detective. At first, I was fussy, like "OMIGOD there is a cop show with Woody Harrelson AND Matthew McConaughey & no one said a word to me, well you're all fired!"
Now that we've been watching it, I see why if anyone watched it, no one said anything. First of all, it isn't binge-watchable: it's too draining! It took us two sittings to watch the first episode bc I didn't think I'd be able to sleep!
Second, what is there to say about it, out there by the water cooler? It's a tough show to recommend! I mean, maybe not when you get to end, even though while you are watching it all along, you're at the end, too.
Man. We have four epis left, so at this rate maybe we'll be finished by May, egads.
I'm in the field. It's time to buy gasoline & go home. I have taken to putting turmeric in the apple pie smoothie & I'm prob a superhero now. I need it xoxoxox
Ever since I did the Clean Program Clean-Up Cleanse, whenever it was, I always eat breakfast through a straw.
No, not that straw, silly! But remember those days? Wow. Let's hold hands. I guess I have not ever liked to chew before a certain hour. When I was trying to do myself in, I was not fooling around was I? Well, now I'm trying to live! Forever!
So, anyhow, when it is cold, as it has been, I usually a. just deal & let the burning hot liter of green tea balance the kind-of-cold-to-room-temp (room temp in our house is 58 degrees, usually, ok) smoothie I make, or b. I drink a pureed vegetable soup, of which there is usually one lying around in a leftover way. (There is one at Food52.com, "Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup" or whatever, and it has some eating-disordery, I-heart-makework comments, but the soup is A+ for my purposes.)
But, I do not put protein powder in a vegetable puree, so it is mostly just a morning-snack. There was a "Chai Gingerbread Smoothie" recipe once in goop which called for yr protein amendment, but gritty! Also, tea with grit is not food. Not at all. Without a heavy hit of hemp protein powder in the first, I wind up too hungry, off-schedule; sometimes I am warmed-up in the late morning enough to face a smoothie, idk, but the other day I decided it was enough. I want to drink breakfast in the morning!
I dove into a warm smoothie experiment. It was a success! I have had one every day since. It is also good bc Chinese medicine hates raw food.
Cut one apple & steam it (in the steamer basket, go ahead), while you make a 12-oz cup of tea. I use a red chai from Trader Joe's but whatever. It steeps for 5 mins, by then the apple is tender. I put this all in the blender (the badass mid-century vita-mix) with 4 or 6 ounces of almond milk (I've been thinking abt the gums lately in plant milk. You?), about a third-cup of pecans, my beloved hemp protein powder, a scoop of chia gel (10tbsp chia seeds, 6c water, whisk it 3x at 3-min intervals), 2 tsp of garam masala & 2tsp ginger. Yk, the garam masala is just because I can never locate my pumpkin pie spice or the cinnamon, or anything normal for a milkshake. Sorry.
Oh, and, if I get around to it, I add a spoonful of coconut oil, since the smoothie is warm & it will blend up smoothly. However, because our house is not warm, often I choose against prying out slivers of coconut oil to amount to a spoonful. You know.
A neighbor was trying to give me the whole dress-down the other day, about our "heating peculiarities" (if we'd been back home, northly, she would have used the word "different" the way it gets used), & she shut! right! up! when I gaily shrugged & mentioned how we get out of the heating season for less than $1000, every year. She shut up talking, her mouth actually fell open a little. Ahahahahaha!
So it turns out well, this warm smoothie for cold mornings. It has fiber & fructose & is a better start to the morning than my usual frozen blueberries & what have we, plus the apples are seasonal from around here. Apples keep, prob better if you keep yr house at 58F, but everywhere a root cellar! I have to go! My desktop is still effed-up & we don't care! I'll take a year to document Serie del Caribe & Matisse Cutouts if I want! Love you, stay warm in this horrific winter weather, ahahaha, xoxox
Yah, hi! Whatcha doing?
My desktop is broken or something, which, ok, sure. I mean, it hasn't been broken for the whole time since I've returned from San Juan, but I don't know.
San Juan was really great, like a vacation inside of a vacation what with all the lazing around the ballpark every day in addition to the regular kind of vacationing nothingness. It seems like it was six months ago, that vacation, which is fine because upon our return it felt like we had been away for six months, also.
Last weekend we had a dumb girl drive right into our car, right into the front wheel well on the passenger side -- the front suspension or whatever is trashed, the car is being competently reconstructed by the Russians, but in the meantime, I don't have a car, which is kind of annoying, but frees me up to not go anywhere except essential places, which is great.
Then the week ending now (the one without the car, not to be confused with the one upcoming, also car-free), Garcon was gone to DC overnight with Sal & Mari for a dentist's appointment ( a child who can ride the NE Regional alone) and that was canceled due to "weather," so he was down for two nights -- relaxing.
The next day I went down & back for my own cleaning (heroic attentions in the office; had lunch with Mari) & then with one foot in the door that night accepted an invitation from Fox to have a glass of wine with him & his pretty girlfriend.
I finally turned on the central heat because -- honestly, because the woman who cleans our house was coming & honestly it was pretty cold in the corridors where she would be cleaning, and I didn't want a report made against me with OSHA. It was pretty warm & now it is warmer outside, so who knows what will happen. I can't see us going crazy & leaving it like this for the next three weeks, but it is novel to not be able to see your breath in the first-floor half-bath, ahahaha!
The house is a complete wreck in 2015 bc travel to a dress-up event, Fifille traveling to Cali, then my trip to SJ, then all this dental touring in day trips. The "weather" creates chaos which spills over into our tidy, weatherproofed lives. But it is enough now. I am home for the next few weekends and then I probably have to go down to DC to fulfill my chatelaine duties there.
I am in a fish phase where fish us less repellent than usual & idk. Will catch up, but it could be bc Mari asked, "Do you eat anything but lamb chops & winter squash anymore?" And all I could say was "Well, lentils. And kale!"
OMFG, & green powder in earnest but then after a couple of weeks of that it occurred to me: this is whence the headaches & puffy eyes omg wtf.
My Lenten action this year is inarticulate (just like this writing!) but I know when I am deviating. Let us see what is possible when I deprive myself of the habitual, again. So far, so good xoxx.
A couple of months ago, the handle to the oven door came off again, for the fortieth time, and this time the thingies were too stripped or whatever to screw it back on. OMG, the piece of shit oven-door handle.
Mari called the company and was basically like, Omg, this piece of shit is how you make an oven-door handle?, or however it is he would express that in his mild-mannered way, which is OMG why I didn't call.
They sent a replacement out immediately, but zero days is how long I could wait for a handle on my oven, was the thing.
You may not know this because yr oven door stays in one freaking piece, but the door is double-sided -- the one big metal side faces the inside & the insulation/air/glass between, like a sandwich, held together by frill picks. The cello in the picks faces the outside & screws into the stopper of the door handle, facing the porcelain exterior.
The handle would always come off in my hand while I was using it to open the door (just! come apart!), so it meant everything was 400 degrees and it was a hazardous situation, every time. Lots of oven mitts and whatever, we managed. I mean, this was not happening at steel-foundry temps.
This is is how Mari hacked the new handle for our oven door. BEHOLD. I can't stop loving it!
I remember the moment when this fix came to him. We were thinking about our lost souls and the lack of an oven door handle. We sat at our dining room table to be in love & think dark thoughts & think of the engineering of a remedy. I probably had a cup of tea, rattling on about fantasy, poetry, ethereal solutions, and something made a picture of a real & possible thing in his mind.
Then he was gone. Poof! Ahahaha! This happens all the time when we have problems like this one, where in response I have a pie-in-the-sky idea but then he (and Fifille, too) can bring it to life within the laws of physics.
This is just a long bolt & a nut and then a strip of that bolt-the-bookshelf-to-the-wall webbing that came with an IKEA bookshelf we never bothered fastening to the wall. One on each side, through those holes that held on the piece-of-shit handle the appliance came with.
I mean, honestly! I don't even hang towels on the handle! We were having it fall off quarterly!
NEVER AGAIN. This remedy is jaunty & cute, it lets me clean the entire oven door (where it gets all grody in the fake-vent slits?), and anyhow, why the fuck would I put back on that piece-of-shit oven door handle? I don't have to! Because my man! Yes!
The four of us were in NYC all day long today & I'd love to dish (MoMA! Last-minute Matisse Cutouts!) but I have to get on with it. Sal & I are going back to San Juan, we leave on Tuesday, for the whole entire rest of Serie del Caribe.
When I return next Wednesday, re-entry may be the death of me, but I am resolved to be a carefree sylph. Another time we can talk about the labor in propping up Mari & the kids to do what they need to do in my absence, and I tell them everything I know, but mostly they become keenly aware of all of my invisible works. I am not just whistling Dixie xoxxx
I was holding Eve's space in the Sephora line the other day -- like, yk, how Mari & I do, where she was shopping & I got in line -- and things became less clear when I saw this in the cash lane.
Yk, bc if you are holding a space in line, it is for just one checkout event, one order. As it happened, no one got in the line behind me before she caught up, so we did not have to throw down about my line-holding (or her line-jumping?), and I was able to go to my own checkout girl to buy it. It's fine, for 3 days, but on this my third day I already forgot a pill. I'm bad with pills, even as I am a pill-popper by nature. I know.
Anyhow, it is fine & definitely detox-y. It took the whole five days since I have bought it for me to catch on to the joke of their "Flatter Me" formula. I thought it was "flatter," as in flattery, but it is as in flattening. LOLOL (not really, but I did notice if I take it before a meal which lags, I feel nauseous.) I know I am already xx-clean, but it is def not bullshit. I'm puffy & also exhausted, and plus: mop-water gurgling in my veins. I can't wait for bed tonight!
I told Ms Minty we would play hair & makeups soon & alors.
Yk, it was the day I cleaned my brushes & spread them across roasting racks to dry that the children knew I was preparing for an event of the likes they had never seen.
Fifille came into our bedroom on the day I thought to see how the length of the shearling coat I planned to wear went on with the dress I could finally wear with the only shoes I could wear. It was at the end of a time-trial of hair & makeup. She stopped and covered her mouth, laughing a little. Because she is 13, I presumed I had a booger on my eyebrow or somesuch, and went back to frowning at my hemlines' reflection.
I asked her to tell me what it was, scarcely looking at her.
She was still tickled, and I rolled my eyes at her because OMG srsly, get out of my room.
"It's just ... you look so fancy, Mommy."
Aw, ok, sweetheart!
Anyhow, yeah, this wasn't the kind of dress-up I do for just going out to come home & get laid by my man. This was a serious outing, come on. But it was sweet to watch her goggle, because I do dress like Roseanne Barr's eponymous character on her old sit-com 96% of the time (obvsly, in my mind, if you are dying laughing. Let's compromise at Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, ok?) so the difference was night & day.
Normally I wear eyeliner. There is a 50-50 chance on any day that I might wear lipstick. I wear sunscreen every day. If I want to be fancy-casual, I put on mascara. If we are going out to a concert, or any kind of a live show, I will wear jewelry besides my wedding band, but mostly I am dressed to clean the garage or solve mysteries with my canine pal.
Speaking of canines: Kowalski just enlightened me as to how the second result in a Google search for my blog is some irate poodle who can't believe the life I report living. Ahahaha! I've looked just like this, all my life, and the things it makes people do. Thank God!
Anyhow, so Fille's memoir will read, "And then early in 2015, our mother spread out all her brushes and started timing every little thing."
Things did reach a point, while I was packing our wardrobing department, when I realized I would have to bring a whole separate bag just to ensure the safe travel of my lighted makeup mirror. Seriously? Like Toddlers & Tiaras?
I was going to leave it, and bring Fille's hand -mirror/stand-mirror instead. Mari told me to nix that plan. Saturday, we were watching that Schwarzenegger Last Stand movie & his character said, Negative! Fall back immediately!
I whapped Mari on the bicep & told him, "That was just like you, about the mirror!" Ahahaha! But seriously, it was.
"You've been doing yr makeup in that mirror all this time. You don't know what kind of vanity lighting we will have in any NYC hotel room."
Que smarto, my guy. Let us once again admire my dazzling decison to accept his vow to be mine forever.
Here is what we have. Let us work from right to left bc that is how it has to be, how you start at the beginning & work yr way down.
Start with primer. For primer on my eyelids, I use MAC's Pro Longwear Paint Pot. I use the #190 foundation brush to paint it on. Honestly, get some brushes of your own. I hear people complain all the time about makeup, but really they are complaining about their own lack of tools. Don't try to use your fingers or the little sponge Q-tip that comes in the eyeshadow duo or the dirty powder puff in the compact. All of that stuff is fucking garbage. Plus, math? How will you put on three shadow colors -- browbone, crease, lid -- before you even get to the liner with that little, two-sided tampon in the compact? Not one of us is 12 any longer. Buy some real applicator tools.
Once you buy them, you have to keep them clean. You can use baby shampoo, a little rubdown with it, rinse them, store them flat until they dry, otherwise the water runs back into the brush binding & causes ruin. I use the brush cleaner that MAC sells. It is pink, so I keep it in a different room on a shelf so we don't use it to remove nail polish or I don't jam it on a cotton ball up to my eye by accident.
The other brushes there are the #266 which gets a daily workout with me for eyeliner, the #213, and I think a #217. The crease brush is from ELF, I am pretty sure. I use the big fluffy-puffy brush to blend my eyes off of my face, in the end of eyes, especially if I used anything sparkly.
I put my primer on my face & my eyes at the same time. Now, the last time I wore a full face of makeup to something, I was a child, truly, so if I wore foundation (which I do not believe; it was probably just a spattering of pressed powder), I would never have used primer. This time, too, I went around & around with primers. Normally, if I want to look a little evened-out -- well, let's start here: for going around every day, I wear sunscreen. Every night I wash off the sunscreen. I honestly do not think I would ever wash my face if not for the sunscreen.
I have been wearing sunscreen on my face every day since I was a teenager, when Clinique started really selling City Block. Lately, I have settled down with Neutrogena's Sheer Daily whatever it is (I like the new stick a lot, too). So let's get that out of the way, when people say I don't look my age, when people pooh-pooh my clean living, etc, I mean, look, clean living goes a long-ass way, but also, yes: I have been wearing sunscreen every single day for more than the last 25 years. So now you know, for when you build your time machine. In the meanwhile, you could see a lot of turning back time (like Cher!, who looks like $1,000,000, if you've seen her this century yet) if you laid off the sauce and the sugars.
Anyhow, in normal, cleaning-the-garage life with Scooby, if I want to look evened-out, I wear L'Oreal's Miracle Blur sunscreen. At night, for evening-out evened-out, I wear my Bobbi Brown foundation (more later) on my cheeks, where I have the freckling of time. That's it! I don't spend a lot of time peering at my skin in the mirror, scrutinizing my pores.
Pores! The pore drama! Which is a thing I found out about during these recent Primer Times! I was reading primer reviews & everyone was so "OMG, bc my pores are so, like, huge and, yk, gross!" I mean, don't hate me bc I'm beautiful but who is sitting around with all the grading & inspection of facial skin?
Which is what I was doing in our hotel bathroom, after I ironed Mari's shirt, and after sundown, but before we went out for his shave. I washed my face, washing off the day's sunscreen, and while I was moisturizing, I was inspecting, thinking, Why do I have to wear any base at all? My skin looks perfectly fine & well-cared-for & preserved like crazy. Why am I putting anything on top of my ineffable radiance? So I look "polished" and "dressed-up," instead of "natural." Patriarchy! Why are you like this to us?!?
Why, indeed. But, as rehearsed, before I discovered feminism in 2015, I did use the primer I had used all week -- L'Oreal Magic Lumi. It was light & not mattifying, which I found in an early trial was not what I wanted in a primer, at all. At the same time -- since I was going to wear a foundation -- I did not want it doing any settling into fine lines.
Ironically, the reason my skin looked so under-the-flourescents fine was because of the making-up. I was kind of dry, weather & all, & it became noticeable when I started putting layers on top of it. I wasn't the canvas I wanted to be for that paint. Which is how I started my affair with the Boots No 7 Hydrating Mask there. Glop it on, wipe it off. Use this enzyme exfoliant on alternate days, followed by witch hazel. The spirit of back to basics + moving forward, at once.
I used that yellow makeup sponge (the one that looks like a butt plug) to apply the primer, after I wet it thoroughly & then squeezed it out, plus rolled it in a towel. Then there is a dabbing of the sponge into whatever elixir & kind of jouncing it around, bouncing it off of your face, to apply whatever it is.
So while the primer on my face dried & set, I did my eyes. The trio I used was some ancient color scheme from Almay, which hardly matters bc when you are priming yr eyelids & using yr own tools, you can lather on any old drugstore formula & it works fine. You know how it goes -- browbone, lid, crease, liner. I lined all around with the Bobbi Brown Shadow Stick in the plum color, but then on the top lash line, I went over it with an old pink MAC on the #266 brush; Pink Venus, I think it is. I like to leave mascara until the end, the last thing I put on, before lipstick, but after that Tarte eyebrow stuff I love so much.
The mascara, natch, the late-lauded Miss Manga from L'Oreal's Voluminous line. It is the best mascara. No clumps, no lumps, no globs, not even with the in-the-tube brush. It is a little waterproofy for me, idk, but for this event, it was the thing to have. One coat! Don't tempt fate with coat #2!
But we are getting out of order. After eyes, shaded & lined, primer set, then comes the foundation. One true utility of foundation in a scheme with all the eyes' pigments is to cover over any micro-spills, yk? Like frosting can cover crumbs, but way much lighter. I use Bobbi Brown's Even Finish foundation in the compact. I let the girl sell it to me in the BB pop-up in Grand Central when Sal & I were there, the last time I was mystified in Midtown East, night after night.
That was the thing that Mari found marvelous, how I could not make sense of Midtown-after-dark. I hardly know Midtown in the light, but when the sun goes down, I am bonkers stupid. But we made it all around, on the E (WTF, the E?)
Anyhow, the foundation goes on really light & gorge with the butt plug sponge. I hope the person who invented that sponge method won an award. Then! Before you are quite blended to your contentment! (this is why before the mascara or lipstick or anything else) -- spray lightly with the Evian & then stipple yr blending to the end.
Then prime lips (I use MAC prep & prime and it needs time to get a little sticky), eyebrows done, and the mascara. Then earrings, then lipstick (I wore the pretty and discontinued MAC Plant A Kiss, because it is girlish and goth, at once), and I was good to go!
It was 20 minutes, the making up, which did not include the rigorous packing of my things before the trip, so that eyes, brushes & primers were all together, with foundations, lips, and eye-finishes in a different bag. The up-do was 15 minutes (first thing, natch), but that did not include assembling the sections of the hair the night before. So, it was just a pony, with a pompadour comb just below where the peineta was going to sit, to make sure it did not slide down & in doing so, tear out my chignon, you see? So it was like a peineta's harness. So, in front of my ears, from ear to ear, I had parted my hair. I made a center portion, with two wings, if you see. Then I braided all the sections, all four, before bed, so that when I woke up, after my shower & some dry-shampooing, I could put it up, BAM. I used Goody stay-put elastics on the ponytail, a ton of Elnett on the pompadour positioning above it. Seventeen thousand pins to place it all.
The sponge-square, like a net beignet, at the top of the supplies photograph? I rolled that up in the ponytail (which, omg, with curls, flattened, was srsly 2 feet long, ridiculous), jammed it to my head, pinned it, pulled the hair rolled around it to turn the corner of the edge, if you see what I mean, and pinned that in place.
Sprayed with another pound of Elnett, and then I wound the side pieces to pull back & cover the elastic and all the pins holding the beignet on. Like so (kind of, but with more pins & supports & props for a mantilla, and my sides at the temples, not behind my ears).
To undo, well, Elnett brushes right out, whew. Ren Centifolia Cleansing Balm is the best-best to get everything off. That is what is in that tiny little jar, which I filled from the full jar too-big for our bathroom shelves before Christmas. I use it when I have a lot of eyes on & when I feel grimy, yk? Or, a full face of makeup. It takes a baby's thumbnail amount to wash a whole face silky-clean.
Don't you wish this were a vlog? Me, too! Love you so much! xoxox
Omigosh, you guys, all this time I was innovating vestments! Ahahaha!
Omigod, this kippah! The Kippah of Rightness! I can not tell you how many kippah chats I had, where I would offhandedly mention to a friend (or urgently, like this, "AAAAH!") how I had to remember to go buy Mari's kippah & every time, someone would say a variation on Oh, they will have them at the synagogue.
Oh, omg, like when they let you borrow a jacket at a fancy restaurant because you were too much of a boor to wear your own?
Holy mackerel, people! I mean, ok, I know not everyone knows my husband the way they could, because he is elusive and taciturn, and that's fine, but look at what is widely known: does the guy who would just blunder around like that unprepared have a job like his?
Plus, every time would reveal what people do not know about me. Does anyone think for a minute that I would leave my husband to be fiddling around in the vestibule of someone's house of worship, looking bad, like he did not know what he needed? Does the girl who would let her husband down like that get to stay home buoyed aloft on a job like his? How am I going to make both of us look bad, at once? Particularly after my own headgear took up 87 woman-hours of our life together. Jesus Christ.
When I brought the kippah home, Fifille sized it up & said (after, "Oooh, suede!") "How does it stay on?"
I frowned, because she had cut to the heart of our next homeschool art-school adventure.
"You're supposed to use bobby pins." I showed her, jamming a couple of pins onto the hat's rim.
She said nothing, in a clear disapproval of the aesthetic misery. I knew how she felt.
I had a length of linen trim, so after she and I discussed my plan & she approved (I just can't see everything at once, all the way through in my mind, like she & her father can), I hot-glued a small strip of the trim to the underneath, leaving a gap to make a loop through which we could fit [what wound up being comb clips] to attach invisibly to Mari's hair.
That took 15 minutes in its entireity. The entire affair took one hour, if you include the time spent tracking down the Judaica store & also going there, buying it, and coming home to do the hack.
Mari had to wear a suit & a kippah. I had to wear a dress that for a week I could not find in my closet. Everything else I pulled out was wrong: too short at the knee, too short at the sleeve, too low in the neckline.
Mari asked, "Don't you have a long wool dress with a flat [bateau] neckline?"
I could not see wearing a jacket over my dress along with a veil bc first of all shopping but also omg Greek widow, yk?
Finally, I found in Mari's closet -- still in the dry-cleaner's bag -- my standby jersey dress, more than long enough in sleeve and hemline, though the neckline needed the help of a stretchy, longline-bandeau thing underneath to pass muster. So my body was clad. This left my outfit above the neck, since none of my clothes, not even amended, covered my clavicles.
Ok, so let me not be too-too boring.
On the third day of shopping & searching the entire internet for this nonexistent badass piece of headgear, this day on Etsy, Mari intervened.
"Why can't you just buy [the one on the screen]?"
I explained to him, a tad archly, that there exists a fine line between a veil and a shmatte, between frumpy & fabulous. There was the headcovering drama in a nutshell: Frumpy or Fabulous?
I showed Mari the top video & he let it drop, immediately. Marriage, when you're wrong, I don't say I'm right. Omg, like come on!
Later in that day, I found an actual mantilla. As it made its way to me, from Madrid, I found the series of YouTube videos -- the above-posted one included -- that would make everything fabulous, and also the find on Etsy of a peineta that was not the size of a Russian Orthodox wedding tiara.
It was touch and go the morning the mantilla arrived, when during its big tryout I melted down at the cartoonish Flamenco Barbie-ness. Mari pointed out, drily and with a restrained heroism, that I was a. dressed to clean the garage, and b. not made-up in the least.
Later that day, after my blowout, I did a full dry run & I was so pleased. Plus, honestly, in the end, I was a foot taller than all the other women in the family -- nay, the entire shul -- so what is a little Flamenco Barbie, anyway? Was I going to blend in? LOLOL
The WWII-widow vibe of the black veil & black dress was muted by a pretty pair of freshwater-pearl earrings, this beauty's makeup tips (nothing matte!) and remembering to smile. Also, the earrings served to prevent me being mistaken for some long-lost frumster Sephardi cousin by members of the congregation.
Mari ordered me to shop for the right purse (husband-requisition for a purse, which will never happen again, omg), one which would fit in my hand discreetly while on my wrist. Um, ok, but it has to match my shoes! I found one in a cast-off pile, a sweet, cylindrical, chocolate-brown number from Tod's.
Mari did the extreme honor of favoring me with the technical measuring of a cut & tie, stitching of the mantilla in place to the peineta so that when I was ready, it was not much more trouble to put on than his kippah. I returned the favor of his labor by picking -- from all the Patry Jordan hairdo videos -- the least intense updo which still looked the most.
I had timed my hair & makeup rigorously for a week, and early in the morning of the reading was freshly-washed in our hotel room wearing only my slip, stopwatch ticking like Denzel Washington's character in The Equalizer. I guarantee you that on Friday after check-in I was the first hotel guest to ever make use of the iron & ironing board behind the luggage rack in the closet of our room.
It was such a pleasure to be there, to watch the child step into the light where halacha says he is a man, to hold a glass of 25-year-old scotch later in the afternoon with family & friends. L'chaim, indeed. This is why we are here, and who we have ever been.
Honestly, I told Mari early-on, when he asked, "What note do we have to hit for this event?" I said, Well ... wedding with a Latin Mass ... maybe the mayor's daughter ... the Cardinal might be officiating. And that was all before I knew it was shabbat Rosh Chodesh, srsly.
In the end, it was only as much work as getting ready for our own wedding, ahaha! We looked as good, too! And were glad to have presented ourselves with willing hearts, still, after all this time.
This snap turned up at Sal's house this weekend! Look how Mari is covered in lipstick! Everyone who came near me was always smeared with lipstick back in those days, and a tiny little bit last Saturday. Je vous adore, so much! xoxoxo
Hi! Hello! Happy new year, little webblog! Let's get on the phone here & I'll type on glass for you.
I learned last year, I think, that while I chafe at the thought of my sidebar guy (now mysteriously in the Southern Hemisphere: like a lot of fine people & soon, Becky) being on the previous month, I obvsly don't care at all abt it being on the previous year.
After two dizzyingly-long holiday weekends in a row, things are swimming along so far, I guess.
This month Fille is going on a long trip, the rest of we three are in diff combinations on two shorter trips, plus there is a xx-special occasion looming large, which was not at all this entertaining day-trip with a detour to Elmo's Whole Entire World.
There is a lot of shopping, and packing, tons of managing lists, makeup-perfecting & hair tryouts every other day (thank you, God, for YouTube). I still need to schedule a manicure.
Fille is all set for her adventure. People keep asking if we aren't afraid to let her fly to LA by herself, but it's just another place we can't chauffeur her to, so she has to take transit. She knows how to do that. We hope she has a great time. I mean, we also hope no one steals her away to sell her for sex, but abstractly, in the way of two people who don't hang onto the cartoon gospel of Law & Order: SVU.
We spent prob $80 on food for her to take on the plane both ways, bc my biggest fear is my children feeling a hunger pang. ahahaha!
I have to say, in all the extra unceasing work this month, I do wonder how anyone (“Anyone") could say Mary chose the better part. I mean, omg, of course that's what a man (“Man") would say.
I have got to make like a banana. Love you, see you soon. Still getting strong Bs in sleeping xoxoxoxzzzZzzzZZ
I was out on the balcony, the first morning in San Juan, taking these photos, thinking that perhaps there was a name for smoke on the water sea monsters and anyhow. I was brooding when Sal came out a little later, just after daybreak, with two cups of coffee.
"Pema Chödrön told me, while we were on the plane, that when we push people away, to protect ourselves, people whom life has given to us to care for us, that it creates suffering"
I sometimes forget that everyone was there for Kowalski, that even though the age difference made Kowalski half again our age then, so we didn't really all hang out, ever, that everyone witnessed the periphery & the real-time unfolding of what is now the backstory. This means that everyone has their own opinions about Kowalski, but also, because we are all from the midwest, people were never, like, blurting out unsolicited assessments. Mind your own damn business.
The corollary to mind your own damn business is but since you brought it up.
"Oh, give me a break, breaking into your apartment."
"Suffering! Had I but known!"
"Suffering! Carrying a deer rifle!"
"He used the scope to watch me sleep! It wasn't loaded."
Sal laughed at me. "Give me a break. We're not going to the port this year. OK?" Then he made little scoffing noises under his breath, mumbling suffering while he walked down the long hall in our suite to the kitchen & started .
I pushed at the coffee-ring he left on the glass-topped table & called "Marmalade!" after him.
"Yeah, but no more!"
That was kind of more than enough time in viejo San Juan, Marmalade was. I am not one of these food disorder food fetishists, so I can't keep that story aloft, but I know more than a few things about restaurants and about the service in food and if you know, you know you can trust me when I say Marmalade was marvelous in every direction & it should not be missed.
We did the full, fullest tasting menu, each of us. Sal had the wine pairing with his seven courses. I ordered a margarita on the rocks just to unwind while I made sense of the menu and all its possibility. The lemon-lime backdrop was entirely handmade, I was told, and it was the best. margarita. ever.
I am not a food disorder food fetishist, but I can speak with a depraved certainty about a number of libations. O, yes.
I kept thinking I would order a glass of wine along the way, and now I can not remember if I did. Oh, no. I did -- I ordered a glass of whatever wine was paired on the pairing menu with my entree when it came. But also along the way, the five courses before the entree, Sal kept enjoining me to help him finish his wine-pairing wines, which were not optimal companions for my plates, but still delicious wines. Even the black coffee at the end was detailed and too-much and fantastic.
It was a lot of fun for one evening. I do not remember the last time I sat down to a meal paced at 4-plus hours, and never was there one where the food and drink was so consistently delicious over every course, at each place. We had a great time. Also: paid for every minute. Oof. It was not an inexpensive sortie, but you get what you pay for and did we, so ok, done.
The decor is so deliciously Jeannie's-bottle, which was a place I had just been gabbling tweeterily about with a friend, about wanting to live there.
Marmalade: after you have eaten all the comida criolla you can hold, get yrself there. Make a reservation. (They are on Open Table!)
But that was it for puerto & all we were left with was rico. We did ok.
We had the same room as last year, lol wtf?
This year we spent more time in the secret pool facing the beach, where children are not allowed, ever.
Last year, when we went all over going native, Sal realized two things about San Juan.
The difference between this year & last year was that last year, I had advance-womanned our sorties, so I had an idea of the texture of what we were going into, if not the flavor. This year, there were things Sal wanted to do, but then he was wholly reliant upon me to pave our streets with a silver-tongue and it was kind of anxiety-making for me.
Like when we were stranded at the baseball stadium, kind of late at night, and no idea how to get a taxi & he did not want to ride the bus. I mean, I saw the bus! It had the same lighted LED front signage as buses here on the mainland.
So we wound up crossing the street, as instructed, to go to the mall. It was a surprisingly glamorous mall & I guess it is a draw for shoppers all over the Caribbean? Maybe all of Latin America? Which I can not believe, so I refuse to confirm. The flagship stores were nothing special -- Sears & Macy's, I think, but the interior stores were Tyson's Corner A-list gallery stores. Maybe it is like when shoppers came from all over the state to shop at the Hilldale Marshall Field's in Dane County. Sure.
There was a lighted Star of Bethlehem decoration there in the Plaza Las Americas corridor, across the way from Santa. Sal & I, from the second I took this photo, argued about the Star of Bethlehem and the manger we would come upon in the background there.
We were still arguing about it, the religious iconography in the mall decoration -- was it the Star of Bethlehem or just a generic and secular holiday light fixture? Was it a crèche or just a little shed for Santa, around the corner, to stash his lists?
Well, Sal said, it is empty!
Of course it was empty on Dec 14, obviously. I mean, that's like, duh, look around -- does yr crèche have wise men in it? Of course not, is it the Epiphany? At our house, those guys are still camping huddled around the trash-can fire with the Playmobil policeman nights for the next seven.
The point is that on our way to the taxi stand, we exited the mall & lo. The mall had its own Town of Bethlehem! At least the stable part. And you know, when I'm right, I won't say you're wrong, but Mother of God, the camel shut me up anyway.
I had no words, but I helpfully read from the signs to Sal:
It says here that starting last week, until Dec 21, every night from 5-7 they act out the Nativity. Right here, by The Cheesecake Factory.
Nearly as awesome as the way Phil acts out the Passion! And you know, the shame of it is not one concierge working in La Concha or Hilton Caribe or the new Sheraton or even El Convento who will tell you to hie it over there & watch the Nacimiento en Vivo. Wow.
Camel. I mean, what? You know what? This is not Tyson's Corner, is it? Amen.
Other things Sal learned this year, besides Latin America: It's OK to be Catholic. When you plan an on-the-beach hike, make it your business to check the thing called a tide chart.
We wound up going back to walk on the boardwalk & same difference, anyway.
I learned (and will never forget), that the signs telling about distance in PR are in kilómetros, not miles. We were seeking the kioskos famosos of Piñones (bacalaitos, disculpanos!), but after this long, long trek, I was too hungry, too-too hungry to go on.
We doubled back.
We wound up at a roadside place recommended by our Marmalade server, anyway. Sal was facing the beach view, I was facing the parking lot. I ordered the red snapper, steamed.
Sal promptly said, "What are you doing?!?" It makes me laugh that I am notorious for my antipathy toward the edible fish. It was delicious, though. I remain open to fish! In 2014, I was lucky! There was a good fish I forget already, a delishy bronzino, and the snapper. All good!
When we were in the taxi on our way back to Condado, the driver asked how we had come so far afield. I was nattering on about our adventure & then when I got to the part about the sign & the distance and how I was so hungry --
"Kilómetros!" I said to him, then asked him to confirm the sign, yes, told us the distance in kilometers. Dang it! 2.7km is like 150 feet, whatever. The endless doing-over of San Juan!
I guess we are going back in February. This is what people are telling me. I will see if I can get the time in my schedule to duck out. Fingers crossed because anywhere which still has new sights to show is a wonder and a marvel.
I mean, that is pretty much everywhere that has something to still show. I am hoping to get to MoMA before Matisse Cutouts leaves, but even with the extension, it looks rough.
Speaking of looks, this vista looks exactly like Ohio Street Beach. Close one eye, ignore the mangrove tree, and you'll see it.
Lillo & I talked when I got home about Pema Chödrön. I mean, the fact is, if I build a wall, and a guy stands on the other side of it, never moving, well he does not have to build his own wall, does he? Yes, which flies in the face of another of these Tibetan rules, the part where it makes him look sainted at my expense, plus lazy.
I'm going to buy this house & then build a wall, I'll tell you what, San Juan.
I'd love to dish more, but I have a mantilla to buy for an upcoming event. Look at the shells I got on our walk to Punta Maldonado, along the way of tiring myself too much to walk 1,000 feet to bacalaitos (hiss!).
If there is anything I forgot, you will have to email. Have a happy new year. Be safe, have fun. I'm done sulking, by the way, and watch yr mails upcoming xoxoxox
Lillo made me think that maybe, while Sal & I are at the cockfight, I could choose the winning gamecock ("But what does a killer rooster look like?") and then meet the trainer. ("They don't train them, Lil! They are born scrappy!")
Then I could buy my own gamecock & entrust that bird's winning legacy, Lillo said, to that trainer. But my bird & my bones.
Omigod! I said. Like Diane Lane in Secretariat! But with chickens instead of horses!
I love it! Sofia Vergara could play me in the movie! I envision the trainer being someone Casey Affleck could play with gritty poignancy.
I know you are killing yourself laughing right now. Breathe. Ahahaha! Ahahahaha!
Ok, seriously. Let's get serious.
I have to do everything, I guess, and that includes the GP Test Kitchen.
It was not selfless. Hanukkah is coming up and I am auditioning fried things because Hanukkah frying night after night is hard on my tummy. Better at breakfast. So when GP put this coconut-flour pancake in a recent issue, I got right on it.
They are not photogenic and they are pretty eggy. If you are familiar with those little Syrian omelette dumplings -- idk what they are called, but they come in all the veg and are standard. Well, this is like a coconut version of those. Eggy. Coconut omelette dumplings.
Isn't it just maniacal, the way she writes about smothering in maple syrup? Ew. Yk what these need? Blueberries. Just a few fresh berries, sprinkled on before you flip. I guess I'll know next June.
Fried! Hanukkah, check! Love you, love love. Man, holiday cards are coming on strong already, egads xoxoxox
I can't manage with all the deals, deals, deals. For what feels like the past five years, every time from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany, I kind of have to keep my head down & not buy it -- no matter how good the deal -- unless it was something I was going to buy anyway. This is how I work out shopping at Costco. Also, when CVS gives us the "reward" of "extrabucks," I almost never use them because it is just a trap to get you in there, buying more stuff.
Anyhow, Black Friday was simple: I bought 2 25-yoga-classes packages (never expiring!) at my secret vinyasa spot at a deeply-discounted $8/class and also a new year of MoMA membership. Ok!
Next Friday will be also simple, as I expect to wake up in San Juan. It is on the eve of this second trip that I finally (at long last) write about the first. Because what if they get mixed up in the historical record? Ahahaha!
Lyle Lovett sings a song -- I think it is a Guy Clarke song -- which in a part says, It's funny how I love that [girl's] book, but I never loved that girl.
I was here, outside of the notorious Hotel El Convento, holding a cortadito from their cafe, staring down past everything to the ocean, trying to come up with the fitting corollary -- There was a guy who loved boats more than anything & I'm here where they are everywhere, but I never loved that guy -- or something. Then my phone rang & it was no one other than Kowalski. Well, hello, sailor.
He had not known I was away, was interested to hear the mechanics of how he had been on my mind every day of the past four, and not so amused as I about trying to work out an axiomatic-but-lyrical expression.
But seriously, every day. Because every day there was some new nautical and/or naval thing which made me think either, Oh, hm. I'll bet Kowalski would love a look at that.
Or I don't even know what any of that is, but I know a guy who could tell me about every thing.
It was unsettling, similar to when the Israeli knows how to interpolate something current, which may have been eating away at me but a confession to my actual husband would require an hour of a narration in personal history & omg, never mind until poof the Israeli unburdens me with an offhand observational remark.
I would turn around, endlessly, and whammo! Good thing I did not go to San Juan for my honeymoon!
It was the truth in the heart of wish you were here, except what I meant was more exactly like wish you'd already been here so when next we talked there would be satisfaction in our commonality plus admiration in your fulfillment and not at all wish you were here with me because we know how that ends & the answer is poorly.
The rest of the time, when I was not facing the port of the city, was the classic Sal & Elle production:
Sal and Elle Conquer the World.
We spent a lot of time in this hot tub. There is a Ferragamo store right across the street. Condado is "the Miami Beach of San Juan" & I guess. Sal would say, "I need a belt. Let's go to Ferragamo [when next]." But then I would signal the waiter to bring him a drink & he would forget, lol.
We spent next to no time on the beach. Two hours, one day & then outtie. I just was not feeling the beach. We have a beach in New Jersey.
We spent most of our time on conventional sightseeing.
Plus an equal amount of time seeing what there was to see (exploradores!).
The exploring agenda was initiated before I even set foot on Carribbean soil. Sal went to Mari, a little piqued. "Why can't Elle just let my driver pick her up at the airport & bring her to the hotel?"
"Because it's like you don't know her," was Mari's reply. "She loves to blend in & ride public transit on vacation."
I do. So I did. It was amazing + with a twist.
San Juan does not want you riding their transit, really, and particularly not from the aeropuerto. It costs 75¢ instead of propping up their tourist economy on a taxi ride to a long way off. So the bus is, like, the biggest secret in San Juan.
Don't misunderstand: you can get to googling right now & find 37 Lonely Planet gasbags arguing about where to find it and/or whether it is safe, the route numbers, the names, etc, and that is all fine. But when you get to San Juan, everyone will deny there is a bus from the airport.
Such a risk of danger -- your bussy seatmate might nod off.
When I landed, I asked at ground transport, told the girl with the clipboard I was looking for the bus. She told me there was no bus. I did not call her a liar, but -- actually, I don't remember the conversation & have I told you this? I discovered this while in San Juan: I do not have an eidetic memory in Spanish. Is that funny? Ok -- I pooh-poohed her & then another guy on clipboard-watch in ground transport told me there was no bus.
I went up the stairs, by departures, and looked around until I saw a skycap.
Discúlpame, señor ... quisiera que usted decirme ¿dónde está la parada? Por favor.
He pointed over my right shoulder & I was a little embarrassed I had been so over the top, but then it stuck. For five days, I was out there in San Juan -- sometimes after Sal would give me a little shove, hissing an instruction -- sidling up to purr,
Discúlpame, señor(a) ... quisiera que usted [whatever].
People -- men and women -- would do whatever we wanted, like a magic trick. Sal & I had not spent this kind of time ravaging the landscape since we were loose in Madison.
The point is, about the bus, that we were talking to the hotel concierge and he was directing us to a restaurant in Isla Verde, when I interjected that I knew just where he was talking about because I had noticed it from the window of the bus from the airport. Both men at the concierge desk exchanged a look before he replied to me.
"No hay una ruta del autobús desde el aeropuerto."
I laughed at him because it was so ludicrous before I detailed, somewhat pityingly, how I arrived from the airport, by riding on one bus and transferring to the next before alighting in front of the contemporary art museum & walking along the way into Condado.
It was pretty crazy, that short walk from Avenida Ponce de León to Avenida Ashford. There is a clear line of demarcation between one neighborhood & the next. Here is the Condado side. I stopped & turned around to take this photo on my way from the bus, to the hotel, because after I crossed under that viaduct, it was a different world entirely.
I took Sal on a walk to take him across the border & shoot these next photos.
It was busy out, a Saturday, so obviously I was not standing around with my camera in my hand. But it is a different street on the other side of the highway.
Anyhow, the concierge did not reply, instead changing the subject to respond to Sal's query about béisbol. Ajajaja!
One thing about the bus I knew from googling gasbags: No luggage. But leaving here in Dec, I was wearing all my clothes at once -- blouse over tank top & two sundresses with cargo capris underneath that -- to avoid baggage charges. I also wore a huge silk wrap. When I deplaned in SJU, I took it all off but the tank & the capris to stuff my Minkoff overnight bag once inside the first women's room I found.
We went out to Caguas to see a game & there was rain & no one seemed v happy to be in the park, as these things go. The Thunder has a better show, overall, but the park was an extremely nice venue & everyone was quiet. Also, waitress service.
There was some drama because I did not know the puertorricanese for cacahuete (¿maní?) but because of my quelle Espagne accent, everyone fussed & dithered until we got to the bottom of it.
There was also concession-unrelated drama in Caguas bc I fell in love with a house. First, there was this badass Jetsons flourish.
Second, the porch all ready to be in + out so your small dogs & parrots can't get away.
The house next door was se vende. Omg, Sal had to tear me away from there. Sal + our driver.
We sampled zero nightlife, probably because the view from our balcony was so nighttime chaotic & the hotel lobby was like The Love Boat Rave each & every night.
My hair was silly curls everywhere. The humidity was like taking a bath with air, but it was v subtle, somehow, not oppressive, not sticky, but the curls omg.
And the coquí! It was our third night there, I think, when I realized what the sound was. It was the night that we went on our adventure to Isla Verde & then around.
Sal did not want to take the bus (the airport route) back to Condado. We went to The Ritz-Carlton to get a taxi. The hotel is in an odd place (across the street from the cockfighting arena, which is next door to the home of the greatest bacalaitos please ever but don't order the chicken, lol) on a weird cloverleaf of highways, and as such, the hotel has this extravagant landscaping detail. It was there that we first really heard the coquí, because of the masses in the trees.
Before that, we thought it was a ringtone or a traffic signal, a tower marking something ... we were on the beach & in viejo San Juan all the nights prior, so we would hear it, but faintly & more randomly and mixed in with street noise. And theirs is a very electronica sound. But once I heard it for a call, I couldn't stop hearing it. They call all night & into the dawn. After I got home, I missed them so much, ahahaha, but srsly!
This hotel has no little froggies.
One night it had a wedding. The bride was so beautiful.
I wanted to be more prepared for this 2014 trip, because last year I was just rather wan and inert, so I looked at the 36 hours travel piece on San Juan in the NYT. We did everything on that list, already, by accident, plus I rode the bus from the airport. The only thing left for us to do is go to a cockfight.
I was riding the bus (the one bringing me from the airport) and we were at a light when I saw the arena the first time. What? Omigosh, PR is a territory! Cockfight on! But last year, I could not find out if a lady has a place at a cockfight. I mean, yk, because how does a lady comport herself at a cockfight? I asked almost everyone on the island, but either got a bunch of mansplainers or ladies telling me they went with their dads when they were girls. This remains a recurring regret for Sal and for me, so expect an update on the imminent cockfight outing of 2014.
Also, last year, Sal wanted to eat at buzzy Marmalade, but I wanted to eat comida criolla morning, noon, and night. If you know, you heard me say last year, Omigod, I could not keep eating like that. No. And even now, one year later, I am still full of mofongo, etc.
Although, Sal was the one who said "What was that thing I ate last year?" (It was mofongo, but it is on the menu at the bacalaitos hotspot with the insanely delish ropa vieja by the Ritz & next door to the cockfighting arena.)
The greatest danger this year is that I will find my way back to the store that sold these beauties & any of them will still be there, let alone that super-dangerous creche. The store was closed, thank God, when I went out adventuring on my last morning in San Juan.
Sal had gone home the night before & I was flying out in the late afternoon. I took the bus into viejo San Juan, hoofed it up the hill, stopped at Parque de las Palomas.
The park was closed, but the gentleman cleaning the park opened the gate for me when he spotted me peeking. I thanked him for his heroic labor, or something, it was totally over the top, and I have to say, this is why I was getting so much mansplaining + also my way there in the Carribbean bc when in Rome just play it.
But when you look at how many fucking birds there were & how clean the pavement is ... the man is a triumph, felicidades anyway.
I made it to El Convento, ordered a cortadito, and in the 27 minutes of island time I waited for it, I was menaced by a tiny indoors lizard.
Here we are where we started again. I love to hop off at the beginning again (omg, like the bus! I found the freaking bus depot, you guys!) and thus endeth my travelogue, but there is more to the slide show (ahahaha!) from that last, quiet morning. The time is now to start baking black cake. Je vous adore, je reviens xoxoxox
The first thing you need to know is that a couple of weeks ago, I threw some hazelnuts into the food processor (because Fifille & I live on nut butters spread on apples) and I was surprised by how runny a hazelnut butter is.
Over the weekend, I did it again and added a half-cup of cacao powder & several spoonfuls of coconut oil. It worked out pretty well. I thought of adding those glittery cacao nibs, but it didn't last that long. Fille & I can go through a pound of nuts made butter in about three days, especially if we are on the run.
More weekend report: The Bob Dylan concert. It was great. He played in a beautiful venue where there are no bad seats, he played many songs from the 21stc, some of which I knew, but not because I'd purchased the albums or anything (they were on NPR affiliates). His voice is rough, like 100 miles of gravel road -- he sounds exactly as ever has Tom Waits. I thought about it, sitting there, listening, how maybe that is why Waits's arrangements are always so spare, so you can make him out over the music, which was hard to do, at times and a little bit, with Dylan in front of his five-piece band.
Mari & I talked about it, later, how his voice set up this bracing contrast for him to blow the pipes of his harp & change your mind about existence. It was staggering every time it happened. It was great & what a privilege to be able to see him at his age, doing what he wants. L'chaim.
I gathered, from reviews and comments about such & whatever else (the 2/3-empty theatre, perhaps) that people are upset because Bob Dylan does not want to tour as a fossil of the 1960s. Hey, you know: the 60s were a long time ago. Like a half-century ago. I think that
That latter is my bête noire, honestly. Please, let us be respectful of Dylan's want to move forward in his creativity & musicianship. The fact is if Dylan wanted to make a mint on tour, he could be like Neil Young or The Eagles or The Stones or any of these people who come out as relics and sing all these songs preserved in amber and charge hundreds of dollars for each seat, and ok. But seriously, no. Anyhow.
Also, this weekend, there was a party and that was OK. I know, you're like OK? Was it a party with Bob Dylan?? No, just parent-colleagues who don't smother their teens, didn't spend their 20s being afraid to leave the party + start a family already, and don't annoy us. They are relatively new to us & I am trying not to develop an immune response, yk? Small doses. In the main, their greatest appeal is their contentment, so familiar to Mari & me -- We're doing what we are doing because we want to & everyone else must be, too. I know. I wish, but everyone here needs you to ... well, anyway. Hey! Dreary personnel update!
Hogwarts called me a couple of weeks ago, blubbering & whining, no shit.
Garçon is so disrespectful! And defiant! And destructive of the harmony in our program we are seeking to create!
Um ... yes. We've told all of this to their outfit. Are they serious? Like, all-the-way WTF? What? But I didn't say any of that out loud. I said, "Omigosh, I had no idea! What on earth?" Then I waited, silently. You know why? Sun Tzu said if you feign disorder you can crush a motherfucker. Motherfuckers. Just motherfucking motherfuckers is who they are.
You know, it doesn't bother me that they were calling me, blubbering & whining & handwringing because they didn't know what on earth to do. Honestly, it has happened to every single highly-regarded, overpaid motherfucker who has been hired to help us with our son. Cry, crybaby, cry. Usually, in fact, what happens is they call & start off the dialogue with the words We quit & then they heave & moan about their troubles.
Well, I don't want Hogwarts to quit. They are doing a fine job, when they do what we tell them to do, which is a thing here, the thing where we have to remind them, quietly, that they work for us. Mari is in charge of informing them of that, invisibly & inaudibly from places they don't expect to look, so that they think doing our bidding was their idea.
And we keep, all the while, writing fat checks. As sayeth The Flylady, Everybody loves money.
Further, things are fine here in our little house -- no one is breaking anything or hitting anyone or pushing anything or anyone down the stairs. In months, the police have only been here to take a missing persons' report. Good enough. So, I was actually surprised by this phone call reporting my son's malfeasance at this place he honestly can't stand or see the point of.
But the thing that was making me so, so angry while I was hearing this poor, pitiful narrative from these put-upon people (who get paid, honestly, so O, boo-hoo-hoo) was that heretofore their whole response to any complaint Mari & I present is some kind of condescending twattery like, Well, if only you would [know what we & our stink-free shitting know so well] and Mari & I are always like, "Ok, keep on showing us your delicate sense of your own self, whatever. Reckless! Hubris!"
So I waited, silently, beatifically, for the door to be all the way open on the confession of their unenlightened vexation -- the part where I was told (omg, brace yourself) Well, and that he would basically be here & make a demand that we can not set limits on his behavior unless we put it in writing, that he would say "Fuck Dolores Umbridge," when he is basically in Dolores Umbridge's house -- I opened and shut my mouth like a trout three or four times, silently & then I ran all the way in.
Mari has been holding me back, tamping me down to keep me from showing my whole incredible resource (nemesis!) to these people, but I knew the time was right for me to take them all under my own control.
Gosh, I don't know. If Sloane & I had answers for how to manage that behavior, we would never have come to you with him. I understand your frustrations, certainly, and I am sorry he is subjecting you to these behaviors, but, you know, I guess only a little because the good thing is that now we can be all on the same page. I mean, you know, so much of what we have already had just feels to us like so much blaming and fingerpointing at me and Sloane and our parenting. But now I feel really so optimistic we can certainly work it out together going forward, just as you have with us, and we can truly help Garçon, instead of just what it is that you think you know about me & Sloane.
Hello? Hello, are you there? Omigosh, what is all these gallons of blood?!? Heck, oh, no, there's a fire over there!
Man, I was fucking pissed-off, which is why I was like a laser beam. I mean, I don't have to tell you they have not been helpful or considerate or willing toward us at all, not one bit because ugh ok. I should have been motherfucking Black Mamba.
The Israeli loves a Hogwarts story, and he was first on the scene, "They asked you what to do? Oh, wow, lady, I looked at your car & the transmission -- do you have another transmission I can put in here? It's bad!" I know! It's just like that! But worse bc all the arrogant dickwaddery we have had to endure!
Please do not think that I am so enlightened & mature all of a sudden that once the door was opened, I did not plant a couple of booby traps along the lines of:
When recently I have talked about this behavior, you have condemned my reaction as [x] and I am sure you understand now from whence this kind of reaction could come
I think of the time you told me Garçon acted like [x or y] because he was "in pain" and do you think that might be part of what is happening here? Let's unpack this.
I mean, I read Sun Tzu, it isn't that I am Sun Tzu, ahahaha!
Motherfuckers. But! in their truly tragic humiliation at the hands of my son, they seem to have gotten over themselves & we can probably keep moving right along, just like I told them we would. No thanks to them.
Hey, have a great holiday! In a moment of weakness I fell for some turkey marketing and I don't know why but for that of course I did, you know xoxoxox
I went to NYC yesterday to look at a Birkin bag. I refused it, ultimately, but it was the end of a few months of flirting & moving forward in this amusing game of supplication & restraint with a local Karachiite vendor of something else. It was fun, but I didn't want a Birkin: I wanted to refuse a Birkin.
I'm sorry. You probably didn't realize I was quite so fucked-up.
The real reason I went to Manhattan was to see the Israeli. I mean, the bag opportunity has come & gone a few times this year & I just could not see getting away. Then it came up again & I had time to put an email out to the sweet Mrs Israeli to check & make sure it was ok with her if I stepped out with her man. It was -- both in the abstract & also our more present time -- but then I started to waver a little in my hermit's undertow before I had gotten around to making plans with my guy and then that James Taylor song (you already know) came on the radio & omg, book it.
Sal has to have his gall bladder out. Seriously, whatever. Let's all fall apart!
Between graciously refusing the bag, leaving my hostess with a fancy gift box of chocolate-dipped figs, and making my way to the 6 (just like J. Lo) to meet up with my guy, I went to Mass.
It started out simple, I was just making my way through Midtown on my regular route, and I stopped at St Francis because there was something I wanted to ask of Bernadette. I didn't light a candle because they are these silly, electric candles & I know the world is full of freaks, but I just can't.
We are donating to their roof project in our 2014 year-end donations. I mean, Mari doesn't know yet, but when all the development departments start calling & mailing next week with their year-end pushes, we are all over the roof at St Francis. He'll say, "Why are we doing this?" I'll explain to him how much time-killing spending has been stayed by the chapel all these years and this will be the first he has heard of such, ahahaha!
While I was lingering on the kneeler before the grotto at the Lourdes altar, the quiet announcement was made that the offering of the sacrament of reconciliation was open with two priests listening in two confessionals. Well, why didn't you say so?
Then before I was quite done with my penance, thinking I had to leave, I got a text that the Israeli had to postpone for a bit, and then Mass was starting, during which time I was able to complete my penance before the Eucharist, so shining with the fullest grace of absolution, I received communion for what may have been the first time since the sacrament of matrimony.
It was just a couple of months ago Kowalski "found out" I got married in the Church. I say "found out" because what he can't see better with that big old torch?
When I met up with the Israeli, on a cold, clear day, with my hat & gloves clutched sassily in my hand and my shearling coat hardly buttoned, he looked me over & took it all in -- my lack of shopping bags, the bare nails, and the still-neat hair -- before he said, "What did you do all this time, go to Mass somewhere?"
We went to a bar, like a hilariously-real bar. The kind of place that opens at 8 in the morning & does not have any food service. One rail, two pool tables in the back, 4 or 5 tall tables with two stools each lined against the wall parallel to the rail, a teevee tuned to NY1. Bartender who was a dead ringer for, and may well have been, a retired law enforcement officer, but I would have never dared get into his business. There are not enough eyelashes in the world. Plus, I was all-eyes for one guy, the whole case of him.
After an 87% analysis of his world & mine -- all four kids, the 37 years of marriage, three jobs -- two beers and one neat Stoli with two lime wedges, we went back out & he walked me over to the Brooklyn & downtown 6, him on the outside the whole way. (Best.)
I stopped at Grand Central to use the ladies' room & why not browse the shops.
I don't spend a lot of time at Grand Central, ever. While I was there yesterday, though, looking for the ladies' room, I was thinking of the whole Penn Station and MSG thing from this year & how I never realized they razed Penn Station to build MSG atop. I mean, it was just kind of in the back of my mind yesterday, along with a little internal grousing about how 32F is not cold so I must act accordingly.
When I came up into the iconic area of the Terminal, I thought, Omigosh, this would all be demolished but for Jackie Kennedy! Love her!
When I went up the steps to the East Balcony to take this photo I found out there is an Apple Store up there. So the sound you've been hearing night & day is Jacqueline Kennedy spinning in her grave. Also, probably why there has to be ISIS, too, I guess. You're welcome.
Ok, but in a kind of journalistic fairness (because there was still a J-School where I could take classes when I was in school), I will report that the store is pretty seamless & I was not sure that it was a store -- maybe it was some pop-up PS 1 exhibition or kooky kids come use technology while we break down barriers or some kind of internet cafe installation ... and then while I was taking it all in, a young white guy in a red shirt approached me & said, "Can I help you?"
I said, "No. I'm sorry, there didn't used to be an Apple store up here." I was only a little tiny bit withering & I judged from his reply & reaction that he gets that a lot + a lot worse, so ok.
After I paid too much for a salad -- although it was kind of stupidly good, I found out on the train home -- I got on the 7 (different from J.Lo), then the N to Penn Station. Upon arrival, I got my boots shined, browsed Duane Reade, then boarded the NE Regional 173 to travel back home.
En route last night, I considered that maybe in the final analysis taking a trip to Manhattan to see my oldest & best friend for elevenses was a little indulgent. I mean, the Birkin thing was window-dressing in a way. ("Are you talking about a purse?" is what the Israeli said. I told you it was embarassing! I said) It was a loss-leader to get me onto the island for a thing way more valuable, and that was good.
I thought about it for a while, the real time I'd spent traveling, how I had left after 9, I would be home before 6, and it was not much more than a workday. Also, I have spent entire days where my son acts out at 8am and then we are all held hostage by his nonsense until long into the night, or maybe the next day. So, whatever, plus who cares? I deserve it. Lean in!
Mari & I are taking a little trip over the river to see Bob Dylan this weekend. That might be cool. Je vous adore, so much xoxoxox
Here are some powers I have as a mother -- powers no one told me I could ever expect to enjoy:
Well that last one just can not remain. Too busy. I had a dream of a mantel clock. It came true.
It chimes a lovely chime on the half-hour and counts off on every hour. It tells you what time it is! Amazing invention!
Three of us spent a long time choosing it from (where else?) the eBay marketplace. When it got here it was, as I expected, poorly & ridiculously packed so that I had to take the disassembled mystery pieces & the whole back stuffed with newspapers I dared not dislodge straight to our local clock shop.
Naturally, I promptly fell in love with another clock, a clock like a sweet jewel box!
Fifille knew I was a hopeless case when I said, "It's like a clock a doll would have in her house! Oh, but say you don't love it!"
"I don't love it, Mom."
"Mom," she was sweetly saddened in her delivery, "it doesn't go with our house."
What self-discipline! The fortitude! I love it!
When we were picking up the clock Sunday, Mari & I, the clock-master was giving us a presentation on Care & Keeping of Your First Clock. At one point, while he was lavishly elaborating on the pendulum & how it is used to manage the keeping of the time, in case the clock is running fastly or slowly, I couldn't keep up with him anymore.
The pendulum -- I got it, logically -- is a weight against the clock's mechanism. By turning a little ratchet in it, you move the weight of it closer or farther from the fulcrum, so it resists with less or more force, respectively. So, I got what he was saying, in the abstract, 100%, but while he was presenting it to us in an application -- the applied science of it -- it was going too fast for me to catch up and I totally checked out of the presentation.
I mean, I was there, still, watching & nodding & receiving the information, but nothing was sticking. But what was great in the moment I backed away inside my mind was that I knew that Mari knew I was checked out. Further, I knew he was all over it, like I've got this, babe and that he knew that I knew that he knew. There was a tremendous feeling of contentment in marriage which settled upon me in that few minutes. Wow.
Then later, at dinner, we reviewed so I am fully caught up. I might need some refreshing if ever I need to fine-tune the timekeeping, but for right now, this last 24 hours, it is right on time. I guess, because it is not a quartz mechanism, we have to settle for within 2 or maybe 3 minutes. Three minutes! What's three minutes to children who it seems can't even work out how to read a calendar?!
Ok, now you know a bunch of the things. NYC this week. I'm not super in the mood for the city, but I looked at the forecast -- clear + cold & let's wear fur anyway! Add a case of my favorite & best the Israeli & ok alors.
I have to go the gym anyhow xoxoxox
It's an all-gourd abstraction of The Trumpet of the Swan, motherfuckers.
On Veterans' Day, I try to honor all soldiers & sailors, past & present, by lounging prettily around, reading a book + drinking tea, as if waiting for every one to come home to me. The first year, this was a Jack Reacher book. Last year, I read a book about Navajo Code Talkers in WWII, and then this year, I read American Sniper. Most of the years, I spend as much of the day as possible in a négligée. Because I know what guys like, ahahaha!
If you have not read this, about Chris Kyle, do. Be warned, it is heartbreaking.
Fifille was working with a piece of copper in her metalworking lab. She was trying to shape it in a certain way, working with whatever it is they use to heat it, and when she was finished with it, she was so happy and proud, she picked it up and kissed it.
Go ahead, re-read that. Maybe read it aloud. Maybe you have wondered how she is always hurting herself, alors.
My colorist doesn't work at his salon anymore. So, like, what? I had become really a fan of Redken's Chromatics line and my other guy -- the guy with scissors -- doesn't use it there. So I thought now I have to do it at home again, egads, but just! now! I got a text back from him, revealing his new spot & omg, they have Pureology, what?
Speaking of services, Garçon is having a facial tomorrow. No, not like that, shhh. He wasn't washing his face well at all & now he is reformed but still so congested through the T-zone, I am going to hire the job out.
I had a manicure with the weekly polish last week -- it's hard to tell if it lives up to the hype, because when I get a manicure, I like them to cut short, so I can fingertip-tip-tippily make a mani last forever already. So far, so good. I'll know if it is longer lasting in a comparison by the middle of next week. I just can't go back to gel.
Anyhow, I am going to bed now. Every night after dinner, I eat one Finn Crisp spread with butter & Marmite. Now you know everything. Well, no, but ok for now. Je reviens, j'espere xoxox
Rainy & dark. Late-sleeping, padding around cozied-up in shearling boots + cashmere sweaters. Last week, I bought a merino wool dress to wear as a nightgown. Seriously. I made use of the downtime pre-reading Never Let Me Go for Fifille. Pre-reading is not my thing, but anyhow.
I finally hit the showers around 2 & then the kids were gone so I made use of what was left around from the lunch I made for them.
Sweet potatoes with a splash of fully-fatted coconut milk, butter, and a couple of pinches of garam masala. Then it was more easy-access carbs than I ever, ever eat at one time & I've been woozy for this last little while. Wooooooo! I'm sugary! Woooooo!
When this rush wears off, I am going to be so hungry for turkey.
Yesterday was a dark day, too, wow. I woke up to a text message from Kowalski, "The news is sad but I'm not surprised because people are fucking stupid."
Oh, wow. Harsh.
I phoned him & we talked while I downloaded the results-by-county map & we talked around our shock over how the state is unrecognizable. Racine, Kenosha, and Door counties all went to Walker -- Jefferson County went to him at 60%! Come on! Then Portage & Menominee, God love them, but ... man. What the hell happened in Wisconsin?
I mean, we know what happened, but shh. Not on the internet. & not anywhere because, you know? Tiring. Love you.
Anyhow, but the rancor in Kowalski's first overture really stayed with me. He isn't like that, my guy. I mean, he does think people are stupid -- that is the reality of the midwesternthropic condition -- but he lets his humility stand in front of it to filter it, normally.
I was still kind of feeling its reverb, hours later, while I making smoothies & listening to all the other bad news pour in from all over, thinking about the grand old badger state's county map & I realized, like a hammer, Oh my God, what on earth, every county on the paper-plant/foundry corridor voted for Walker, overwhelmingly.
Not just that they voted for Walker, but they could have voted for Burke!
Then I quickly texted Kowalski with my confession & repentance because he is right! They are fucking stupid! They are like those dumbasses in southern states who keep voting for these ding-dongs from the Confederacy when not one of them has had a decent job since rural electrification & the WPA!
So, oh, my God. Wow.
Other things I am thinking about: this sexting story in The Atlantic. Did you read it? I did. I had a complicated relationship with the reading of this piece. First, I started reading it, but then I went back to the byline & I don't actually have a high opinion of Hannah Rosin & her handwringing. She isn't Clare Booth Luce or nothing, come on.
But eventually, due to a long bus ride, I got back around to it. Mostly, I did not understand the connection that anyone was supposed to make (and which the writer of the piece failed to make) between these podunk, Friday-Night-Lights communities (in Pennsylvania and Central Virginia) of unincorporated townships and any of the zip codes of Atlantic Monthly readers. Like, so, ok, because hillbillies and kids in the exurbs are into this, what does that mean for Manhattan? Not a lot.
I mean, the whole piece just seemed like one of these click-baity things to stir up panic & generate satellite handwringing. I'm sure Hannah Rosin knows what it means to be a sorgenmeister and it's probably fine with her because look how people let themselves get whipped into a frenzy of fear and hovercraft parenting by that SVU show. Lord.
Mostly, I didn't care. I mean, it came after the whole Starlets In The Cloud panic, so I had already been over this with the kids, particularly Fifille -- If a guy can't close his eyes & remember everything, just everything about you, move on to someone who behaves in an adoration of you -- and there was nothing new in it, to us. I mean, Garçon has an actual girl from camp who sends him letters, written on paper, closed with sealing wax. His atrocious, feral, lefthanded penmanship has improved 200% in this last year of their correspondence. I'm not worried about a Polaroid falling out.
I did tell him that, when we talked about Naked Starlets, the three of us, at the supermarket -- yk, like everyone does when casually imparting sex advice to their teenaged sons because the produce section is so nonthreatening -- not only the inverse of what I told the baby, but also that he could, in fact, accept a naked photo from a lady, but only on the condition that he were serving a life sentence in prison with the possibility of parole & only if she were a lady he had only come to know because of her proclivity to the prison boyfriend machine. Because, naturally, if she were someone who preceded the imprisonment, he should be able to close his eyes or let her go.
It should surprise no one that Fifille was two steps ahead, filling him in on Brides of Alcatraz. Seriously, who taught her to read?
Otherwise, I failed to see how a bored hayseed culture really had anything to do with any of our milieu up & down the Northeast corridor. But what really stuck with me about the story is the sheer wtf wrongness craziness of it, of boys asking girls to send a photo of their naked selves to their device. For what? What?
I'm not talking about the power imbalance in it or rape culture or slut-shaming or any of that kind of a thing. I'm talking about how in days of yore, boys wanted to see your breasts, ok, sure, yes. But what they really wanted -- if you think back -- really, really, was to get their hands on them. If you think about it, clapping eyes on any part of your naked, high-school body was really an upper-tier experience -- something that happened, in my ken, anyway, way, way after a guy had run all the bases and maybe even after you went all the way, depending on where everyone was at on matters of privacy and exhibitionism and compartmentalization.
So, anyway, but the thought of these horny little boys sitting in their rooms and asking for a girl to send a photograph of herself to their smartwatch is just pitiful! So, what? So they can do what? This is a girl they could be actually be making preparations to actually grope & they're on a thing called Instant-Grams? Come on! Explain that to your grandmother! Talk her out of thinking you are talking about trading cards of pin-up girls being the prize in a breakfast cereal, for the first hour!
When I was a girl, I had a steady boyfriend for years, but I wouldn't be ready until after I finished high school to go all the way. For a long time, my hand wasn't even ready to go all the way. I met him at the end of my freshman year when he was heading into his senior year. By the time I was 16, he was 19, first on my dance card, but we were not exclusive. This was fine with me because I was free to go to high-school things with boys who were still in high school & otherwise he was free to do [whatever] with [whomever] and I did not have to give ground to a sad story about the vascular congestion in his undercarriage between dinner & a movie & saying good night. That was everything to me, that the nights were as chaste as I determined and I always decided.
The point is, parked in my driveway on the first night I let him get his hands under my sweater, after I said, kind of breathlessly while we untangled ourselves, I have to go in, he didn't say, Ok, yah, but can you send a photo of your boobs to my smartwatch? He said, right in my ear, I can not wait until I can touch you everywhere and I will remember that until I am dead in my grave.
I will also remember how that was the exact moment I developed my glittering, jiggling smoke bomb. Omigosh, bye! ::whooosh:: Now you know everything.
But kids today, they can do what they want. Evidently, the teen pregnancy rate is down in that county. Because they're too lazy to do it! you can't get pregnant on a smartwatch! There is something good in all the things, I guess.
Sit by me! You tell me everything, je vous adore xox
Plus pignoli! And olives!
I want to tell you everything, please believe me, but here we are on an election night again & I am totally going to bed otherwise I would be up all night, "Red county! Blue county!" OMG. & that's just one race!
Portage County, I see you out there, your raft of blue! Bless you!
Don't be mad, love to you, je reviens, j'espere xoxoxox
I found this hilarious note from Fifille taped to my pet candy bar which was out of its velvet-lined box because of kitchen reorganizing.
It's a thing I say all the time. Yk, we live densely-packed, we take transit a lot, the kids are at things where they are always changing clothes & dressing rooms & leaving belongings -- It's a sin to tempt people is a better platform from which to make self-protective decisions than one which decrees everyone is a larcenous asshole.
In August, Mari asked me if I was going to Brother Kowalski's funeral. I said no in a kind of distracted way, like you might to an interesting-yet-left-field question.
Was I just thinking of Newtonian physics? I was not, no.
He seemed surprised, my husband. I demurred & then unpacked a little -- yes, that sibling & his nuclear family were known to me quite especially & of the entire Kowalski clan, the widow was the one with whom I had the most mutually-felt affection but ... no.
"I can't. Kowalski told me never to show my face in the county unless I wanted to Do It."
"When did he say that?"
"I don't know," I said. Because I do not, in fact, remember. "A couple of years ago."
"Oh, honey, that's just a thing he said."
You know! I am so smart to have married that guy because seriously, yes! I told Mari I thought the same thing when Kowalski said it, too! Like, somewhere, there must be a song sung which has those lyrics, never show your face in this county unless you want to Do It. Right? Like Don't go back to Rockville, but different. Ok! It's just a thing that guys say, naturally.
But, as I explained to my husband, it was last year -- in the fall, maybe -- I phoned Kowalski & for some reason he did not recognize the number or didn't see it when it came in, or maybe I was calling from a different number, the kids' phone or Mari's, I don't know. But what happened was that he didn't see the number & know it was Regular Old Status Quo Elle.
I know that you know, but let us remember that I rarely say hello when someone picks up on my phone call. The first thing I said to him was to tease about his squirrel trap line in his backyard (which I find equal parts appalling & thrilling).
"When will it be time to check the trap line?"
I mean, I was just being kind of an asshole & mocking him about it, which I had already done rather roundly when he first told me about it in an update to his unremitting war on squirrels.
He paused for a long time, it seemed like, before he asked, "Where are you?"
It was the way that he said those words; it was the pause, the tone in his delivery, the sound of his voice, it was everything. His tiny, three-word question was packed full of avarice and prurience and rapacity and lasciviousness and a kind of warinesss in resignation -- so much more in there, things I have heard before from him, about me, breathed right in my ear, maybe while I was crushed between him and something else, and all at once.
I flinched back from his ring of fire & reeled right where I stood, in the vestibule of our home, happy to be 1,500 miles from him. Oh, I'd better never show my face there if I don't want to Do It. Ok.
Mari finished off his cheese plate, considering. "So what if you get there? Is he going to drag you away by your hair?"
"Oh, no. It isn't a threat. It's just him, asking me not to taunt him. He wants me to know that it would be bad behavior for me to come by him; he is controlling his environment. He knows I wouldn't do anything deliberately."
"He's a control freak."
"Omigosh, yes! Do you see how my signature doesn't have his last name in it? Yes!"
Anyhow, it is a sin to tempt people. Behave, everly vigilant, I guess. Ask the people who are dear to you for what you need to protect yourself, maybe particularly if you have never had any defense against their ways.
It was four years ago this afternoon I said goodbye to our fine friend Iris, my spooky Hallowe'en cat.
It is also Samhain, the witches' new year. I once knew a witch & I think of her often. I hope you find comfort thinking of the people and personalities you have known in their time, living or dead. Dig deep because summer is over & there is just you in the dark with the people you hold dear. xoxoxo
Yesterday at lunch, I scooped all of this reheated lamb-shoulder pile, with its tahini sauce & pine nuts & olives + pickles onto a crusty roll for Mari. He often says of [this or that] how he would have never known without marrying me & I usually demur, yk, Qui sait?
When yesterday he said, "I would never know about these tiny pickles if I hadn't married you," I allowed that might be real, indeed.
Here is a real thing which happened, and kept happening more.
Beata went back to Poland in September. She told me this in August & then there was a long, long talk she & I had which I did not follow at all. Not a whit. It started out good -- she was going back for her son's (new husband's son's?) wedding and she would be back in October. So far, so good.
Already, we are at the point where Mari will interject drily, as always he does when I start telling a story which begins with Beata told me/said by saying, "Honey, Beata doesn't speak English." It is fun-making & heckling, also annoying, a little, because he surely knows better by now.
Years ago, we were in our new backyard of our new home with our new-ish baby, newly toddling, and a guy appeared, suddenly, at the waist-high gate. He was about 30 feet from us, and he called out, "Mr & Mrs Sloane?!"
We turned, at once, and together said, "Who wants to know?"
Seriously, this guy, my man. True love.
The guy at the gate didn't miss a beat & took out a shield case & flipped it open. "FBI."
We shrugged, satisfied, and allowed that we were the couple he sought. G-men love the chance to dazzle people by flashing their credentials, so he was fine, too.
Anyhow, I digress, a little. The agent was there because Mari's clearance paperwork & to do our collective interview. The whole point of this visit is to determine that you are who you say you are. I mean, it was in 2000, anyway.
One of the things the agent had with him was a floor plan of the apartment building at our most-recent former address. He asked us to confirm who lived in which apartment. Mari called me in at that point, because even though he walked home for lunch every day I was home all the time & also, I think there is a lot of security in being able to know who your neighbors are -- what if someone is lurking to burglarize? What if someone is really ill & lives alone? What if a lady's spinster sister dies at dinner while she is visiting from overseas & then she & her husband decide to fake her death for the insurance money and then he decides to sneak into the hotel where she is laying low so he can kill her & keep it all? Well?
So I knew everyone living on his drawing. First names, last names, occupations, at least. Then he got to the two elderly women who lived on our floor. Did I know them?
"Oh, yes! Tatiana and Galina!"
The agent asked, again, for me to describe the relationship I had with the neighbor-in-question. Prior to this, it had been, "Parking space next to ours, eats a lot at McDonald's" or "Sometimes saw her going to the bakery when I was parading the stroller around. Nice." or "Home on disability, kind of a hypochondriac, leaves wet laundry in the basement too long." Typical & also, far-reaching in the way of a person who wants a good grade.
Before this relationship narrative, I lit up. I remember to this day, the lighting up & scooting forward to the edge of my seat, a little.
"Wellll ... they are elderly, and they don't drive. So, sometimes I would pick things up from the store for them or take them along ... there is a Russian grocery store by the baby store in Rockville and so sometimes I would ask them if they wanted to go ... "
I told him about how Tatiana had been hit by a car and broke her leg & we three visited the hospital with flowers & also I took her some Russian-language magazines to her to read & a couple of times I drove Galina to visit her and waited around with the baby in the hospital garden until she was ready to leave.
He asked a few more questions, like did they have family here, etc. I answered him fully, full of the deets & then he asked me a question I didn't know the answer to. I think it was why did they come to the US, but I can't recall. It was a question that I guess most people would know the answer to, like it would have come up in car-pool-y, mitvot, small-talking conversation, but I didn't know the answer.
The agent was surprised, flummoxed, even, and I offered helpfully, sweetly, "It's just that they don't speak English. I don't speak any Russian. I mean, spasiba, but that's it."
This did not actually unconfuse him, but I had nothing else to say, so I just shrugged, politely.
The agent looked at Mari, with a law-enforcement face I recognized. It said, "Is this broad pulling my leg?"
As he is from a family of civilians, I'm not sure what Mari took his face to mean, but he shrugged, apologetically, and said, "Now you've met my wife."
The point is, after a long day with Beata in the house, I can tell a lot of stories about what she told me. And we do ok. I have a Polish-English dictionary and I can draw. So, I will pick disembodied words I can't pronounce from the dictionary & they probably have the wrong nuance, but then I also draw what I mean and wham-bam, we are good to go.
But this time, in August, I did not know what she was trying to tell me. I kept trying to call Zosia, saying, "Let's call Zosia!" and she was adamant that I not call Zosia. I kept listening, wearing out my listeners, and having to say, "Nie ruzumiem, prosze."
In the middle of the night that night, I was waiting to fall asleep again after a trip to the bathroom & it hit me. In the morning I told Mari.
"Beata wants to stop working with Zosia. She wants me to hire her directly."
Then I worried, aloud, about the potential for awkwardness & weirdness & what was I going to do, and O, anxiety! Mari turned off worry's power supply.
"Honey, you don't speak Polish. Just live right there."
"But," I am always determined to be worried about interfacing with people.
"Honey, you don't speak Polish. You can pretend you don't know."
Oh, pretend! Yes, like gaslighting & equivocation! Well, why didn't you say so!
Omigod, and I know you had not realized I was actually this crazy. I'm sorry.
Then Beata was gone for the month of September. Zosia sent others to clean in her stead, and it was lovely. Rozafa is from Albania, very kind & thorough, and it's nice to have a fresh pair of eyes, plus she speaks with perfect English. This means I know about her mother's fall which happened in August while she was visiting home and so I have to ask after the mother's health, but I do & not just because I "have to," I guess. Zarya does not speak a word of English, but I still know how to say spasiba, & that is a super-important word for the person cleaning in your home, so it works out fine.
Everything was fine & I had quite forgotten about the trouble with Beata, in large part because Zarya and Rozafa are not so bossy & do not rearrange my furniture so much, and anyhow, one morning the doorbell rang, quite early, and Fifille called up to me, confused, "It's Beata. And a man."
Oh, of course. Because Beata earlier this year married a Polish man with American citizenship who she has told me speaks English. While I was still pulling on a sweater & looking for my right flip-flop, Fifille kind of announced the harbinger of doom from the hallway which was that he kept repeating things to Fille in English as if she maybe did not speak English. Uh-oh. I mean, that is bad. That is hollering-at-foreigners bad, as far as a forecast of productive communication. Hm.
I received them, welcomed them in, and then got all over him to tell me the deets from the wedding. Whose wedding, exactly? Was it lovely? Oh, what did anyone wear? The food? Wonderful! (Stalling for time to find my footing.) Also, either Stan didn't want to talk to me, or his wife hadn't told him this could be a social call, since, yk, English. But not too-too much English. After he waded through my nuptial interview questions, also the international-travelogue series, he wasn't very able to speak usefully.
After I got some tea on the table, with a culturally-relevant & to them v surprising jar of preserves on the tray, we got down to business.
Are you happy with Beata's cleaning?
Would you like to have her continue to clean here at your house?
No, wait, we're not done.
First of all, I wanted to know why this break in relations. I couldn't get a clear answer bc too-too nuanced, but the story was either that Zosia was putting Beata out to pasture or that Beata felt too old to keep up with Zosia's roster of clientele, so wanted to narrow her scope plus keep all the money. Sure.
Complicating was that Beata was proposing not only she clean my house, which meant I would have to terminate the service of Zosia's firm, but she wanted me to get out there in the street with my English & broker a mutiny with my next-door neighbor & across the street neighbor, who also use Zosia's services. Because, yk, one day your phone rings & your sweet neighbor demands to know how much you pay & can she come & inspect with a white glove & also: what is the number?
Very normal, sure, but that will be weird, if the whole block drops out of the schedule at once. And, look, I'm from Chicago -- I know that I can be sly, but no way am I up to double-crossing Eastern Europe. No way.
The second thing is that I wasn't able to really navigate what it meant to me -- besides wordlessly rearranged furniture -- if I hired Beata directly. Is she a business? What is my obligation as I contract her, for taxes & all of those things? Does she have insurance? I mean, she doesn't even drive! And Beata is not a young woman. She is in her 60s (but her husband is totally in his 50s & omg so foxy, too, omg, go, girl) and what if she gets ill? Sad, yes, but who will clean my house? And if I double-cross Zosia? Hate to think. I'll never get my house cleaned in this town again!
I mean, sure, I can always call some Merry Maids filthy slatterns, employees who spray Fantastik around & wipe it off with paper towels, but ugh! The reason my house stays so clean is because I give it a Mop & Glo lick and a promise every day. I hired Zosia's company come twice a month to fill a bucket with sudsy water, wield a scrubbing brush, and mean it. It is hard to find a company who will clean windows or clean the fridge when you need it, or do whatever needs to be done in its time, let along for God's sake vacuuming under the furniture.
Our people in DC, capable th0ugh they are, would for the first year not even do the dishes. Sal leaves drained coffee cups & half-glasses of water lining every room in the house by the time they (or until I) arrive, and the ladies would gather them all up & leave them in the sink. I had to go ten rounds with the guy in the office to get them to load the dishwasher with all that they found. One memorable exchange from the endless negotiation:
Well, they can not know what dishes are fine to put in the dishwasher & which are not.
Then maybe they can use the sponge and the dishwashing liquid before putting them to dry on the drainboard.
Seriously. I finally got through to him by expressing that it really took the wind from the sails of their hard work & diminished the lustre of the clean to have them leave a big sink of dishes, piled up. But that is just it -- clean means clean, but not to every service. Everyone Zosia sends is more than capable of cleaning until clean. I can do a half-assed job of cleaning my house for no extra money.
So, anyhow, being reliant only on Beata herself was one worry I had. At the same time, yk, American Dream and all, why not? I had to talk to Stan's daughter on the phone a little, to really get the details ironed out, but ok, sure. I wasn't enthusiastic, but I was trying to not be attached.
The day after Beata & her husband visited, Zosia was scheduled to send people already. As it was too late for me to cancel, and certainly much too late to cancel forever, I made an arrangement for Beata to start next week, on a different day, and alternate weeks thereafter. I had no plan for what to tell Zosia, but I had definitely contracted Beata. I would see her next Thursday; it was eight days away.
The very next week, Wednesday, the day before Beata was due to begin, Zosia was there to drop off a crew for an off-schedule, special-event cleaning of Kitty Cat Neighbor's home. Kitty Cat had come across the street that morning to see if I could keep her key for when Zosia arrived because Zosia changed the time the night before. Now, as a Kitty Cat aside, she seemed pissed off, like she wanted me to not be able to take the key or be home later to give it out, so she could HAVE IT OUT with Zosia about HER TIME AND ITS WORTHFULNESS. Like, she kept trying to talk me out of my availability & willingness. Ahahahaha, Kitty Cat! Hilarious! Try another day!
Anyhow, that was that first day that my dumb kid was a runaway. I invited Zosia in for tea and preserves & also to ask her to tell me something good. She is lovely & we had a really nice visit. Toward its end, she said something like, "Oh, Beata will come soon & ask you for a job."
Naturally, I started scanning our visit's landscape for a trap. At the same time, I pretended to know nothing & asked Zosia to lay it on me. Zosia said that she knew that Beata had been contacting clients to try to get them to go with her. I said, (thank God for my husband & the way he sees straight through), "But, Zosia, Beata doesn't speak English." Like, so crazy! Who can negotiate business with a diagram?
Oh, yes, no she does not speak English, Zosia agreed. Zosia chirped & chirruped some more about how there is the nominally English-speaking husband and also an Englisk-speaking cousin of Beata. She did not seem like she was really concerned about the poaching. She told me the story of how she found out & what happened when she subsequently checked in with clients, as she was kind of doing with me.
Evidently, girls the age of my kids were home, strictly-instructed to open the door for no one, and Beata came by to sell her services. The girls called their mother at the office ("Mom, Beata is here") and the mother called Zosia ("Why is Beata at my house?")
It was then that I started to really think about the soundness of Beata's business venture & consider how it would affect me. Then, Zosia told me something which could be pure calumny, ok, but spoke right into the heart of my major misgiving about having the ronin cleaner Beata in our home.
Zosia said that Beata once mentioned that her retirement plan (or her husband's, I couldn't tell because sometimes pronouns & I think in Polish the gender might be implicit in the other words bc pronouns, often) was an accident and an insurance payout. Oh, gosh, no! Never you mind! In this house, with all these stairs? No way!
When Beata arrived the next morning, I thanked her, presented her with 3 $50 bills & firmly-yet-somehow-graciously denied her entrance and wished her the best of luck. Goodbye! With severance for a job you never worked! Do widzenia! And then her driver husband, OMG! He didn't see me give her the money, but Beata was pleased to leave with something in her purse, with her sweet, pleasant countenance, so we were doing our usual talking/not-talking lady-chatter. When he finally walked up & we were finishing, I thanked him, and I said, to him, "Thank you, good luck with everything!
"Jak sie movi good luck po polsku?" I asked him. AND HE IGNORED ME. HE WATCHED ME SPEAK DIRECTLY TO HIM & DID NOT ANSWER ME. I ASKED THREE TIMES. I SAID PROSZE, TWICE, although I think the supplication is in the conjugation. OMIGOD, IT IS TRUE YOU PLANNED TO PUSH YOUR WIFE DOWN MY STAIRS. GOOD BYE FOREVER.
This stuff! Is always happening to me! And every time I make a clean getaway! Remember the time my old boyfriend came to town & the Nazis kept stealing me & my stuff! Well, look what happened to those guys! And the whole time, I kept my eyes closed and my ears open! God is so good, let's kiss. je vous adore, so much! xoxoxox
Ballet post, so much to say.
First, thank God Fifille has eschewed performing in The Nutcracker production this year because I just feel full of the ballet requirements already, so much. When Mari & I looked at the schedule for this year -- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday classes, plus an added pointe classes -- we quailed inside and said nothing. Nothing! Fille was standing right there while we opened the mail.
Later, we said to each other, if she will quit ballet, it is this year. One of us used the word crucible. After this year, well, surely there will be other similar testing years, but this is one where we are.
It takes a lot of time, the getting ready to go, the going, the being there, the dressing again, the coming back. So much responsibility & the eating, eating, eating, eating, lunchmaking snackpacking, etc, that has to happen on every of these days. (When you look back & see only one set of footprints, it was then that I sneaked a square of fruit-sweetened, gluten-free cake into your bag, made your favorite soup, and offered to fix your hair.)
It is already a lot of time in & around the studio, and also all the extra attention at home. First of all, I have to be so sweet all the time! I can't lose my patience for one second! She is working pretty hard -- the dancing, the algebra, the independent study I didn't question which confusingly involves reading Studs Terkel's Working. Ok! So that makes it easy to be easy, but still.
Using up more time: dancing is not any longer a way to stay in condition for dancing. These 9.5 hours/week in the studio are asking for a repetitive stress injury, to say nothing of the horror everyone heaps on the part where she is dancing with all her weight balanced on her first two toes of each foot. I have her swimming laps on her days off and I am her Pilates mat-instruction cue-giver, reading from the Pilates book.
The Pilates book was what Pilates Chick told me to get for Fille when I mentioned wanting to get her in to Pilates Chick for a couple of sessions of formal instruction.
"But," I sad, " I don't know how to explain it to her! Can't she start off with you a little?"
"Oh, my gosh, you won't have to explain it to her, she knows! From ballet!"
C'est vrai & she is getting pretty strong. I am almost ready to coach her through the Rollover! But besides the excitement of results in the contortions of old Joe's matwork, there is a lot of drudgery in the stretching through the feet & ankles, endlessly. She likes to mix it up with a funny Tony Horton video she found online and some old-fashioned calisthenics --Turkish get-ups, squats, deadlifts, pushups -- which she gets me to join in. But whatever the case, I have cheerfully added physiotherapy to my list of duties & it isn't too bad. Also, it ensures that I spend at least as much time on my own body because what am I, one of those projector-mom stage moms? No way.
But I still can't do a Roll-up without the Cadillac.
Let us talk about the insidious fatness talk. Oh, I'm so fat. Oh, I am only eating salad all day & candy all night. Oh, I only eat one slice of pizza with diet Coke because calories. Do you see these girls?
I see the ones who complain about being "fat" and I either think, "No," or "Darling, too fat to be a ballerina? Heavens, yes, it seems you will have to make do as a swimsuit model, pity." Come on, anyway.
That said, the dance studio fucks with your mind. Even Mari & I have caught ourselves, just inside of our own heads. We have talked about this insidious mindfuck, how you can take any lovely girl of our acquaintance -- any one of these other teenaged girls we all know, presenting as neither ballerina nor swimsuit model, just tall and long-limbed and capable -- to put her in a leo & tights and in front of a barre & we would all revolt at the sight of her there. It is a fucked-up mess & also why I never would have let any girl except the one spawned by Mari -- the one who is 5-foot-six right now and might at long last weigh as much as 97lbs -- touch one toe to the dance floor. Omigosh.
Thank heaven the pointe shoe issue is finally resolved. Evidently -- and omg this makes me burn up with maternal rage against the tween machine -- when she finally this time brought the old shoes along with her, as I have advised her every time & all along, Ariel said, "Well, it's like these shoes haven't ever been worn!"
Fifille doesn't weigh enough to press & mold into her shoes in the time she is wearing them -- 2 half-hour periods per week. How could she get a papier mache shoe to be comfortable, especially when it is not supposed to feel good? But the v least she could have done all these years was what I have asked her to do for years -- take your old shoes along. Annoying!
Mme Mamonova -- foundress and directress of the school -- is teaching her class this year, the pointe classes. This, along with live accompaniment, heralds the limit of what she has been waiting for. Well, partnering, when that comes, but much later. I ran into Mme Mamonova two weeks ago, and she told me it is such a delight to have Fille in the class. She mentioned how they are learning pirouettes & Fille loves them. She described how Fifille will just smile so big during centerwork.
I said nothing, bc surely our Ballet Matriarch knows already, but this was a sea change from only hearing for ballet's first eight years that Fifille was a good student, a hard worker, but her agony & self-recrimination when she got any step wrong was -- well, it was fine, because the Soviet Union & all, but still -- rather unusual.
Mme Mamonova, evidently, calls her the wrong name about 60% of the time in class. Not because she thinks Fille is someone else, but surely because by the time any of us are in our late 70s, we will have so many names in our heads, and with ease we will pull the wrong one down from another time & pin it on a reverberation of temps perdu.
Fifille mentioned this to me one day. "Mme Mamonova calls me Luciana."
I asked what she did in response.
"Well, the first time she did it, she was calling me over & over again -- Luciana, Luciana! -- because she wanted me to get something for her. I didn't know she was calling me, but once I figured out she was calling for me, just calling me another name, I did what she wanted."
Good girl. I mean, ok! My work is done here & I can lounge around the sauna getting scrubs & eating kalbi in the snack bar, obvsly.
This picked up a little steam when one evening, another girl in her class, the once-aforementioned Gale, said, "You should really let Mme Mamonova know when she calls you by the wrong name."
Fifille was hot under the collar when she told me this story, the story of Galie's prissy insistence that Fille correct a woman in her 8th decade. She was upset because Gale was so bossy but also because, she said, "I didn't have words to counter her about why I will not tell Mme Mamonova. I could not articulate my feelings about it."
I know. It's hard to find words when people should just observe the light streaming from your fingertips & the ends of your hair.
I acknowledged Fille's rightness. We should all want the same courtesy & flexibility extended to us when we are that age. Also, every one of us knows Galie has bad manners, anyway. The end. Worry no more & let us go forth & once we were home, I rubbed her calves.
What I also did was place a call to Mme Mamonova's co-teacher for this class, to let her know that Fifille had been given an extra name, so there is no confusion if Fille is called Luciana, especially when there is no Luciana currently enrolled in the school.
Sayeth Mme Mamonova's co-teacher, her daughter-in-law for many, many years, "I heard her calling a Luciana in class the other day! I looked and thought, Is she talking to [Fille]? But she knows [Fille]'s name, and in fact she was just talking about her the other day with her real name, so --"
I cut her off, assuring her there was no worry here. But once the girls started weighing in with their silly, ill-bred teenagers' opinions in the locker room, I thought it necessary to get everything out in front.
But what I told Fifille was that it isn't a big deal and that Mme Mamonova has lived a long, long time, much of it with ballerinas, and obviously Fifille reminds her of someone named Luciana, even as she knows perfectly well when not in the heat of calling out combinations & corrections what her name is, so really, it is like she is loving Fifille two times, like Jim Morrison! And that is pretty great -- the best any of us could want.
Get everything you want this week, but you will have to do it all on your own. I am super-busy, but I will want to hear you tell me all about it! xoxoxox
I am only blogging because I wish to announce that today, I accomplished my goal of eating, all day long. I am not sure how I fell from the eating wagon, but I did. I have not time for a full, soft-focus narcissistic treatment, so use your imagination.
In other news, I was kind of in love with a dress at the consignment shop, mostly because it could be a tunic & then I found out it was outlaw, so true love come on home with me.
The Israeli says to me, Who even knows about shatnes? People who read Deuteronomy, obvs. Just as they know abt the remedy for an incorrigible child.
The Jehovah's Witnesses told me that Satan uses teenagers to destroy the family. I totally believe it! This teen, yes.
Sal's Law says that the bus you wait on will get you to you destination by the same time it takes you to walk there. This is like the Law of Gravity, accept it.
Lana's Corollary says that if you wait on the bus, you will arrive at your destination at or before the time you could have walked there, but all the while resting, maybe reading a book.
We all know I have to be doing something goofy at all times and this time, it is the Nail Mat. I purchased a full-sized & travel-sized set and of course, Fifille loves it, too. Mostly, I just like to lie around lately. This child is a lot of hard work.
Unexpectedly, I came across an 81-piece set of my china pattern, which included a load of serving/hostess pieces along with complete service for 8. I put it on hold because I couldn't think. It isn't like I had awakened any morning, ever, thinking I needed a patterned butter dish.
I bought it because Becky is smart. Mari wanted to buy the set, too, but Becky was a first responder. If not for her, I never would have kicked it up to Mari. I am glad I did it -- to fill in what we already have of five complete places, and then replacements for breakage -- but I also still feel weird about it. I don't know. I wasn't expecting to fill it in, but that is probably because at some level I knew the procurement at replacements.com would be of significant cost. Also, reading this, I guess matchingness still makes me uncomfortable! Also, having dishes now well-wrapped in the attic in case someone breaks a thing later makes me feel like one of those people on Hoarders. I know that is not at all logical, but I am deranged. The thing is, the price was so right, I can get Xanax, and anyhow.
Omg, while I was there finding it, this relentless guy was in the most comic-book underdog pickup attempt with me. I was just complaining about how guys here don't know how to put themselves out there -- well, this guy did. This guy & also the 22-year-old IKEA employee who tried to ask me on a date the weekend before.
I employed an off-label usage of Proverbs 31 to keep this antique-shop browser at a cheery arm's length -- like, he said, "You're so beautiful" and I said, "Oh, you're very kind, but beauty is fleeting. Only in fearing God will I receive my rewards."
I had just been read to from those passages, chapter & verse, the day before, when Celeste finally came around again. It was nice to see her & then everything was fresh in my mind. Obviously I wanted to hear about how my price is beyond pearls because my son. Yes, we'll cover that another time. I can not wait for this holiday to end so I can lie in the metaphorical arms of my oldest friend and process fully. Egads. Also, I need the supermkt falafel spot to open up again.
Anyhow, the magical, scriptural deflection of the stricken guy with the hypnotically terrible teeth went on just like that for 10 or 15 minutes, always me harkening back to my wifeliness as an existential rectitude. After he realized I was married ("Your husband is a lucky man." I am his unfailing prize!) I was not sure why he kept talking to me, but in my confusion, I could hear Kowalski in my head ("He wants to figure out if you cheat, honey.") ... I don't know, but it seemed prudent to stay on message bc, yk, a prudent wife is from the Lord.
I mean, bless him & his awful teeth, you know? Who the stuck-up hell would I be to let him think a girl like me wouldn't give him the time of day? What do I know? I am married!
Plus, I have read enough comic books to know that those guys are always the ones who get powers & then become supervillains, so maybe he won't now. You're welcome. Love to you all, watch out for the lulav!
I am late to start the month because I was at a blog conference, holla!
Ahahahaha! Omg, I'm dying over here. Shhhh!
Ok, but seriously, just reading a fictional narrative (which was sweet & in the afterword, I learned that Mailer wrote a book about the JFK assassination, so way more my speed) and then getting my yoga process reset.
I had a whole summer fling with Mr Bikram. I don't know. It worked out because Mr Bikram was having a sale in May -- buy two unlimited months for two people & August is free. Interesting, I thought. Then I did not think of it again until I decided my son needed to run a marathon of yoga every day. So, I bought the Kool-Aid.
I have done Bikram yoga before, but totally casually. I mean, it isn't difficult, but it does ... there is something about it that has smoothed my rough edges at times it was necessary. But I haven't ever had a sustained campaign with Bikram.
Mari went back to work, so it is just me & Fifille. Omigosh, the talking.
But otherwise, we're just hanging around, fixing hairdos we saw in S Moda.
Yesterday, it was the point-shoe studio. Fifille got a bad pair of pointe shoes in the beginning of the summer & miserably toughed it out for about 3 weeks before confessing to me that they were dreadful.
Ok, here is the thing: wow, that's tough, Fille. Suck it up.
Evidently, pointe shoes are inherently uncomfortable. I am sure it is tough for a little girl who wears Birks everywhere to have to buy a papier mache shoe, trying it on with no fasteners, and then somehow figure out how she is supposed to dance in it. Yes. This is why I have ever told Fille that when she goes, she needs to bring the old shoes, talk about whatever concerns she had (besides just growth) and work out how to get the next pair the best pair possible. Because there must be a metric observed by the world's ballerinas, selecting footwear for dancing en pointe. She needs to figure this out. I tell her this, every time we go to the store, in my usual I can't do this for you, so let's pep you up to take care of it yrself way.
But every time, Fille goes in, LALALA, SHINY, PINK, OK, does three or four releves, and leaves. But not before costing us about a Benjamin. Ok, sure. Not long afterward, she starts bitching until she outgrows them about how they are not quite right. Well, that is too fucking bad. Terrible. Just like the foot-bound in China.
Not this time. This time she told me she absolutely could not dance pointe in the shoes. I told her I would not be buying a new pair until these were outgrown. She insisted she needed a different, more well-fitting pair. Over & over, until last week, I told her she could buy whatever she liked with her own money.
She cried, like I was telling her she had to leave our house to be the bride of a 60-year-old businessman. Then, she accused.
"That is, like, half of my money in my bank account."
Yes, it is, half of all the money she has earned one handmade fairy at a time, indeed.
I said, "I agree. It is a lot of money."
OMIGOD, IT FUCKING IS A LOT OF FUCKING MONEY. TO THROW INTO THE GUTTER FOR A CHILD'S CARELESSNESS? IT ISN'T ENOUGH THAT EVEN A WELL-FITTING PAIR WILL BE OUTGROWN BEFORE THEY ARE WORN OUT? LORD.
So, I worked through with her how she had gotten here, her carelessness & disregard for process & dialogue, the value of a dollar, or one hundred dollars. I told her that heretofore, she had one job, the taking the time to figure out a pair of pointe shoes, but that now we abandon to her the rigor of not wasting her own money, and so maybe she would take it seriously.
I do not have to tell you that people fell onto the floor when hearing this consequence. I might have to tell you that my daughter insists the children of the floor-fallers are spoiled babies. Curious, this life inside our Midwestern house. Maybe we landed on a witch.
Time will tell. Anyhow, inspired, she made up her own algebra problem (and solved it). The first line says, Ariel sold [Fifille] a pair of pointe shoes at a 20% discount. Because she did, Ariel, give her a discount. And that is just fine.
Isn't it funny how she solved it? She has been reading her way through this book, pilfered from my stacks, so who knows what she has taken away, but I would solve that problem with a straight equation of 84=(.8)x. When I did it, when I sat down to work through the math & check her answer, I got the same answer, right, so ok. I think I know someone who is pleased to read this about his v slender friend.
She had time to read it because I was reading Hiaasen's last, Bad Monkey. It made me long for a lot of other Hiaasen books I have read, most of which were mightier. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't very good. The writing was his same, reliable, bricklaying craft, the story was the same wacky romp, but I wished he had slowed down to let the story unfold in the story's time, which was always the enjoyable feature of his books anyway. Well, for me.
That's over & now on to Lincoln's Citadel. You know what I like.
So, yk, hairdos, pointe shoes, algebra. Maybe she will watch an episode of The Good Wife alongside me, or maybe we will watch this Patty Hearst docu. Same difference. Checking in, there's not a lot to know, I guess. xoxoxox