Sunday, November 30, 2008

With Diamond Eyes

What could be sillier than Adam Ant?

How about when the secret toy surprise is the brass ring?


Friday, November 28, 2008

Look Into the Eyes Of the Sun

Holy crap! Cheeseburgers ate your memory!
LONDON (Reuters) - Mice fed junk food for nine months showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease, a Swedish researcher said on Friday.

The findings, which come from a series of published papers by a researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, show how a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.

If this study was commissioned by the Lutefisk Growers Association to get us to eat that mess, they can just forget it.
"On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain," Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who led the study, said in a statement.

"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors ... can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's."

Alzheimer's disease is incurable and is the most common form of dementia among older people. It affects the regions of the brain involving thought, memory and language.

If only I knew what we were talking about. Hey, does anyone smell french fries?
While the most advanced drugs have focused on removing clumps of beta amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brain, researchers are also now looking at therapies to address the toxic tangles caused by an abnormal build-up of the protein tau.

In her research, Akterin focused on a gene variant called apoE4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's. The gene is involved in the transport of cholesterol.

Bacon macrames brains? That lends new meaning to the phrase, "I'm feeling crafty."
She studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the effect of the variant gene in humans, and which were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months - meals representing the nutritional content of fast food.

...After which the mice guest-judged on Iron Chef America.
These mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage, Akterin said.

"All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer's can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public," she said.

The report concluded: Subsequently, the mice demanded fois gras but immediately forgot and locked themselves in the bathroom.

Fortunately, grocery stores now sell really good veggie and lentil burgers, to improve your recollection.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Slide Down And Have An Escape

Happy Thanksgiving. People talk about their wacky family traditions, football, that time Cousin Elmer burnt down the garage deep frying a turkey - I don't know. About ten years ago, I decided Thanksgiving is much more betterer spent at home and quiet because drunk drivers, screaming children and What Am I Eating? do not make me thankful. So. Pete's gone out for bagels. Conscious of my inexplicable good fortune, I'm going to get up and pat down a big bird. Then I'm going to defend it with my life from three professionally curious cats. It's quirky but what's a little violence on a day based on it and food, eh? But there is one Thanksgiving ritual we can all, great or small, appreciate: a bath.

In the next picture, Panky is properly sauced.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Only What You Need From It

I'm having trouble thinking the funny thoughts. Let's change the subject.

It's cold, it's dark and we're saving our pennies for holiday treats. We're all filled with festive ennui - unless that's just me and I'm projecting. You're probably just fine. Stop laughing! I'll let you in on a secret: I can't actually cook. Getting dinner on the table is not the same thing, but even doesn't seem like it'd disqualify me from getting a show on Food Network. Apropos of nothing, this is my favorite breakfast, coincidentally a fine dinner, lunch or afternoon snack. The recipe is imprecise, and you should make it the way you like it because it will be more deliciouser for you. Prepare this at night and breakfast is waiting when you get up.

1 big ass eggplant or two, peeled and cubed

If you're about to argue you can't do that: shove it! You can so!

2 or 3 zucchinis, chopped into big chunks
1 ginormous onion or two smaller ones or a red one or some shallots
3 or 4 bell peppers, colorful like a rainbow, cut into hunks
1 mess o' garlic cloves, peeled
1 honkin' can of whole tomatoes, or two if you're going for quantity
1 teeny can of tomato paste
olive oil
1 or two bay leaves
sea salt
ground pepper
white wine, if the spirit moves you


plain yogurt or ricotta

Some of these sound like ingredients of a very familiar concoction and why not? Whatever! Let's pick a pot: it's got to be big enough to hold most of that junk on your grocery list with plenty of room for error. What error? How about you don't pick a big enough pot and your breakfast takes a year to cook? Right, so: big pot, more surface area. Heat it up, pour in enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan, toss in your garlic and stir. Don't let that burn. It will not be tasty. After a few minutes, the garlic will look different, so you should add onions. Stir, stir, stir. Add the eggplant. Stir, stir, stir. Sense a theme developing? By now you're wondering if you should add more oil. I don't know. I can't see your humongous pot. But you shouldn't worry, because the next step is to create an empty space on the bottom of the humongous pot, spoon in the tomato paste and mix it with some more oil, let that sit a minute, then mess everything around together, adding canned tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, herbs, salt and pepper because they are delicious. Add wine, if you use wine. You can use dried herbs and add them now or use fresh and add them closer to the end, but never, ever be shy about tossing in basil. It's good for you! Let this come to a boil, reduce to a healthy simmer, stirring occasionally.

Half an hour later, you will check the doneness of the vegetables because I don't know how big you cut them. Follow directions for the couscous you have. Most instant varieties involve boiling some water and a little oil, pouring in the couscous and removing the pan from the heat. It's hardly even cooking. You can do that! Hell, if I can you can! Let it sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork. I like to add some butter, but we're talking about you here. When the vegetables are cooked through and still chunky, they're ready. It's probably about 45 or 50 minutes, but time is relative and I am easily bored and foraging in your fridge.

You have made a big old stew. Does it need anything? Add that.

To serve: pour some eggplant goo into a container, spoon in a healthy portion of couscous, top with a splooshy dollop of cold plain yogurt or mild ricotta. If you are handy with those recyclable food containers, portion out three or four of them and breakfast is ready when you get up in the morning.

If you have extra stew, which I bet you do, it freezes fantastically. Don't try freezing couscous, or do if you're feeling experimental. What the hell, science is funny, but not necessarily delicious.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Different Shadow On the Wall

The sound of these voices grates a bit, the history feels shaky and yet the sentiment is worth discussing.

So. What'll we talk about, then?


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Its Taste So Try Another

Part 1.

Daria: Are you going to the bridal shower?
Tata: No.
Daria: Oh, come on.
Tata: No, and getting no-er.

Maybe a day later.

Auntie InExcelsisDeo: Are you coming to the bridal shower?
Tata: No.
Auntie I.: Are you coming to the wedding?
Tata: I am. My invitation finally arrived with my name mispelled, and that guy who cooked your dinner last Italian Christmas Eve is labeled "And Guest."
Auntie I.: Well, sure. We can spell "guest."

For about ten years, Auntie's husband Uncle - Frank, if you must know - has vexed oncologists with his magical ability to both have cancer and not have cancer. This leads to mesmerizing dinner table conversations.

Tata:'s Frank?
Auntie I.: He's dying. Pass the broccoli.
Tata: He's what? What do his doctors say?
Auntie I.: "Keep the season tickets. His team has a good chance at the playoffs next year."
Tata: Next year? He's dying, just not now? What, Frank's cancer isn't clear on the death concept?
Auntie I.: Watch your mouth! It might hear you and learn.

We were all working with the idea, however painfully familiar, that Frank's cancer was acting like a stupid, inoperable pet until September, when minor surgery revealed Frank's pet had outgrown the lapdog stage. Suddenly, everything changed. The hospital sent him home. The hospital called him back in. He refused treatment. He accepted treatment. Auntie and Frank's son Tony was sent to Iraq with the understanding that if things got bad, Tony would come home. Deserving Design had come and gone and after a few weeks, no one had time to put food into the fridge and dishes into the cabinets until my sister Daria did it. Somewhere in the haze of September, my cousin Sandy decided that since she and her boyfriend had already bought a house and were going to get married someday anyhow, now was the time to get hitched. And so a wedding was planned and executed in just about two months, which in New Jersey must constitute some sort of land speed record.

The Saturday of the bridal shower came and went without me. Daria tried to sound patient.

Tata: So how was it?
Daria: What do you fucking care?
Tata: I don't.
Daria: The food was very nice. You would have appreciated the vegetable sushi. It was very artistic, and I made chicken liver pate, which you did not eat, though I am absolutely certain you wanted to.

In other words: I snoozed, I losed. Stay tuned for the next installment of this story, where we play the executive travel version of Stop Touching Me.


Friday, November 21, 2008

To Be Near You Is To Be Unable

This morning's wild-eyed wisdom comes from the Kids In the Hall.

Sashay forth - sensibly!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Orchids Forgive No One Just Yet

Yesterday, the blogosphere buzzed with this sign of the times story.
Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year's sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.

The department's annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than 50 percent above the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998.

Overall, the 36.2 million adults and children who struggled with hunger during the year was up slightly from 35.5 million in 2006. That was 12.2 percent of Americans who didn't have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives.

Almost a third of those, 11.9 million adults and children, went hungry at some point. That figure has grown by more than 40 percent since 2000. The government says these people suffered a substantial disruption in their food supply at some point and classifies them as having "very low food security." Until the government rewrote its definitions two years ago, this group was described as having "food insecurity with hunger."

The Bush administration's response to hunger in America is to rewrite the definition. That, my dahhhhhlinks, is the banality of evil inhabiting a pin-striped suit. But wait, there's more.
"There's every reason to think the increases in the number of hungry people will be very, very large based on the increased demand we're seeing this year at food stamp agencies, emergency kitchens, Women, Infants and Children clinics, really across the entire social service support structure," said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

Weill said the figures show that economic growth during the first seven years of the Bush administration didn't reach the poorest and hungriest people. "The people in the deepest poverty are suffering the most," Weill said.

Before the internet, our neighbors starved quietly when the food bank ran out of supplies, but now we talk about what people don't have and can't get. The comments thread for this post is enlightening, as more and more net-connected people say the same thing: they're broke, they can't feed their kids, and they don't know what to do.

I don't have any answers to these questions, but I believe that we cannot postpone asking them anymore. Starving children do not routinely become well-adjusted adults in wealthy, indifferent America, and parents who cannot feed their children harden their hearts to pleas for patience. This isn't going to go away. We have to do something about it now.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You Run Like A River That Runs

From the Pretty Bird Woman House: They need towels.
Hi everyone,

If you're coming here looking for things to donate around the holidays, check out the right side of this blog for a complete list of ongoing donation needs for the shelter.

HOWEVER, since women are constantly coming and going, right now there is an urgent need for towels. So if you're cleaning out your linen closet, or looking for something to buy, think TOWELS.

Word has it that Linens 'N Things is going out of business and has cheap towels now...We've also had a Yahoo Groups member order them from Anna's Linens.

Once again, thank you for all your support. This means the world to the women on the Standing Rock Reservation.

Posted by Betsy Campisi at 10:51 AM

Linens & Things is going out of business. Right now, everything is selling at a discount. I was planning to buy new towels for myself, but now I feel inspired! The address where you can mail donations is:
Pretty Bird Woman House
211 First Ave W.
McLaughlin, SD 57642

Scope out Linens & Things' towels: they range in price between $2.39 and $11.99. Can you imagine, as Thanksgiving approaches? For less than $10, you can really help someone in need.

Please pass the news.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Und I Did

From the New York Times.
About Dick Cavett: The host of “The Dick Cavett Show” — which aired on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982 — Dick Cavett is also the coauthor of two books, “Cavett” (1974) and “Eye on Cavett” (1983). He has appeared on Broadway in “Otherwise Engaged” “Into the Woods” and as narrator in “The Rocky Horror Show,” and has made guest appearances in movies and on TV shows including “Forrest Gump” and “The Simpsons.” Mr. Cavett lives in New York City and Montauk, N.Y.

Apropos of nothing, I would totally pay anything to hear Dick Cavett shout, "HE WAS A LOW-DOWN, CHEAP LITTLE PUNK."


Monday, November 17, 2008

Keeping My Eye To the Keyhole

Recently, Melissa McEwan's adoption of the relentlessly adorable and completely miniscule Sophie Moon coincided with my co-workers' capture of nine stray cats across the street from the library. These cat rescue people are SO SELFISH. Oh, they say, would you like to adopt two or three cats? It's hard to believe these rescue people spend all their spare change catnapping and feeding cats they find - you know - freaking everywhere. It's practically stealing.

Meet our newest furry overlord, whom we are calling Chou Chou because cabbage is divertissant.

She's awfully cute. In a death-defying twist of hilarious fate, and perhaps a watusi or two, at just about the same time, Topaz and Drusy started singing My boyfriend's back and there's gonna be trouble when the stray cats went all Jets and Sharks in our backyard. I enjoyed the dance numbers. It was about the time I separated hissing girl gang members that I decided Topaz and Drusy needed a new hobby, preferably one that didn't involve knife-fighting back up singers. How about a kitten?

Those selfish rescue people didn't have a female kitten, so I asked a friend who volunteers at a shelter, where they had too many rules. Look, I said, if you're actually trying to place animals in good homes it shouldn't involve more paperwork than a bank loan. I asked another friend who volunteers at a shelter in North Jersey. She said they mostly had older cats; I pictured Topaz and Drusy pushing some wheelchair-bound tabby down the attic stairs, Baby Jane-style. I couldn't have kittehs plotting revenge and ruining the Chi of my teeny yoga studio, thus, you must imagine my relief when the original selfish catnapper contacted me about a kitten named Gigi. Yesterday, Pete and I were more or less interviewed for two hours by very nice people who finally believed we weren't sociopaths because we said we weren't, which, um, nuh-unh.

Gigi just isn't a Gigi. She's beige and terribly plush and after 4 this morning, she decided to clear off Pete's dresser. I can't blame her. Kick...BLAM. Kick...BLAM. Kick...BLAM! Kitteh! I got out of bed a few times to address the situation but how can you be mad when the kitten says purr purr purr? She is a darling baby girl who at eight months outweighs the two-year-olds and is mostly unimpressed by their hissing. Above, Miss Chou Chou sits in a Fuzzy Town igloo in our bedroom closet, her plush refuge between Pete's work boots and my bedroom slippers. She is acclimating. This igloo is supposed to house stuffed animals. We are trying our best to fill her full of tasty kibble.


If I Could You Know That I Would

I haven't given up blogging. In fact, over the next couple of days, I predict you'll remember why you tolerate my neglect. You will. Believe me! Anyhow, this morning, I have to attempt to pay attention to ...something, I don't know what, at the library, so please enjoy this picture of an artichoke. Because why not.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Make Some Book Of Records

Remember this cast of characters from December, 2005?
Dad is a decisive person weighing his options.

Dad: InExcelsisDeo's son graduates from military mechanic school in Pittsburgh on the 23rd.
Tata: That date can only have been set by a man whose wife wipes his nose, and to whom he doesn't listen. Fucker!
Dad: Do you kiss babies with that mouth?
Tata: What did you say when you heard about it?
Dad: "What fucking madness."
Tata: Moving on, then...
Dad: Your brother Todd comes in from California on the 30th and stays until the 2nd.
Tata: Really? I knew he'd be here at some point.
Dad: And Dara has to have Christmas with her mother and be back to school on the 2nd. I can only make one trip. What are your plans?
Tata: Gluttony and sloth. Tell me when and where, and I'm there.
Dad: My problem is I promised my sister I'd make Christmas Eve dinner, since she will be out of town until appetizers are plated.
Tata: Don't worry. My sister, my cousins and I will do it.

OH MY GOD! Did you see that coming? Because I didn't!

Dad: How's the apartment?
Tata: I'm considering piling the remaining boxes in front of a vulnerable window and calling it my burglar alarm. I may leave it for my grandchildren to incinerate when they cart me off to the home!
Dad: Serves 'em right! Bastards!
Tata: They're cashing my social security checks! I would!

So Dad's staying three hundred miles away for Italian Christmas Eve. This morning, panic set in when Auntie InExcelsisDeo agreed to let the Girl Gang do the cooking because there just isn't any other way that doesn't involve folding our arms and blinking forth Emeril. I call my cousin Sandy, eight months older than Miss Sasha, most of a foot taller and 100% more local. Sandy's temporarily bunking in at Auntie InExcelsisDeo's family compound in South Brunswick, which gives us access to modern on-site refrigeration in the absence of the homeowner. And salmon!

Tata: Your sister told your mother who told my sister who told me that she, your sister Monday, wanted to make the chicken and polenta.
Sandy: Monday wants to eat the chicken and polenta.
Tata: What do you want to cook?
Sandy: I can't cook.
Tata: Fine. You'll make Edith's bean salad. We'll make the manicotti together. You'll make shrimp pose seductively in a circle.
Tata: Are you in traffic?
Sandy: Bumper to bumper.
Tata: You are a danger to yourself and others. Doesn't your boyfriend have a Costco card?
Sandy: He does.
Tata: Keep your eyes on the road. If you crash, he might be too busy whining about what a marvelous person you were to go shopping for your family. You're so selfish!

If you read the stories leading up to Miss Sasha's wedding, you know Daria, Monday, Sandy and I are now lined up to play a mixed doubles game of YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! Daria calls.

Daria: Did Daddy call you?
Tata: Daddy called me.
Daria: Did you talk to Auntie InExcelsisDeo?
Tata: I talked to Auntie InExcelsisDeo.
Daria: Do you know why he's not coming?
Tata: He's coming, just later. Todd's coming later.
Daria: Stop talking to me like that!
Tata: You stop talking to me like that!
Daria: Don't be so bossy!
Tata: You don't be so bossy!
Daria: I'm going to hang up on you in a minute!
Tata: Pot to Black Kettle! Come in, Black Kettle!
Daria: You taking the right half and I'm taking the left half of the buffet?
Tata: I talked to Sandy. She's psyched. We're going to cook.
Daria: Oh my God, Sandy's going to cook?
Tata: We have boyfriends, fiances, cousins and spare moms. With any luck, we will also have other help. It's going to be fine.
Daria: Are you drunk? They let you drink on university property? Hello!
Tata: We'll put appetizers on every flat surface and make Monday bake something into dessert-like submission. And fuck anybody who complains.
Daria: My husband will handle the meats.
Tata: ...And there's my cue to hang up.

If I had money, I'd hire a camera crew and a bulletproof director. If I were smart, I'd hide the fondue forks. I don't, and I'm not, so it's stuffed mushrooms and a side of SHUT UP AND DICE for me!

Remember? You do? Congratulations! Meet Auntie InExcelsisDeo, relentless do-goodererer.

The Winner of a Nationwide Contest Gets a Well-Deserved Holiday Makeover
After a nationwide contest, Vern surprises a very deserving [Auntie InExcelsisDeo] with a makeover just in time for the holidays. She has taken in families in need, fed the hungry and made quilts for disaster victims, the homeless and soldiers' families. Vern creates a beautiful kitchen and dining room in French country style for [Auntie]. And downstairs, her brand new laundry room comes complete with an area perfect for her quilting.

• November 16, 2008 8:00 PM ET/PT
• November 17, 2008 12:00 AM ET/PT
• November 22, 2008 4:30 PM ET/PT
• November 23, 2008 5:00 PM ET/PT
• November 29, 2008 8:30 PM ET/PT
• November 30, 2008 12:30 AM ET/PT

Tomorrow, Sandy's getting married. Sunday, Auntie InExcelsisDeo greets her public. Monday, I'm going to hide under my desk and meow.


Brush Me, Daddio

Mr. Breszny is a clever man:
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): All of the good works you do in the coming week will send ripples far and wide, but not all of them will be recognized and appreciated. I hope that's OK with you; I hope you won't get obsessed with trying to get all the credit you deserve. The fact is, your influences will be more effective and enduring if they are at least partially anonymous. Ironically, your power will be greater if it's not fully noticed.

The universe calls my bluff. My ego is ginorrrrrrmous! My desire to Do Good is great. Can I trick me into doing piles of right things while shouting, "Nothing to see here, nothing to see, move along" at the tops of my lungs? Stay tuned for stuff I can't take credit for and don't mention!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

To Talk With You Again

You can find just about anything but what you're looking for on YouTube. For instance, I've never seen anything like this, but I didn't know that until I saw it.

Ever seen anything like that? Now you know!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Or Study Anthropology So What

My cousin Sandy's whirlwind wedding is midday Saturday. Three members of my horrified family have called and asked the same ominous question.

Terrified relatives: What are you wearing?

It didn't sound dirty when they said it, either. I've said all along I'll wear emerald satin pajamas because I am an uncaring bitch but also because I have the shoes and pizzazz to carry it off. Two days ago, as temperatures sank, I started feeling a bit more tropical. Though I wouldn't go as far as Carmen Miranda's fruit turban for an afternoon wedding, I'm going to try on every samba-related halter dress I can find tonight. Perhaps because I hate trying on clothing and dislike mediocre mall shopping in general, this dress on Katy Perry fills me with glee.

I've done meaner things to bridemaids.

You will be pleased to hear I scoured Sandy's registry at Target over a week ago for wedding gifts from Pete and me. Pete took one look at the list and waved a white hanky. Then he muttered something about plumbing and skulked around the basement tool bench for an hour, leaving me to assemble something like a gift to be delivered wherever Sandy lives now. I don't know where. It starts with a U. Anyhow, I picked out a sewing kit, a waterproof mattress pad and weights. The shipping charges were hilarious, because shipping weights is heavy, if you didn't know, so when I got to filling out the online gift card, I was, let's admit it, somewhat peeved - but still anxious to be helpful:

Happy Wedding! This collection of items is usually only found in an evidence locker. Don't get caught!

I hope they have their own rubber gloves.


Monday, November 10, 2008

It Rains You're Here

For Miss Sasha, Mr. Sasha and Panky, the North Dakota winter began last week. In New Jersey, I walked to work this sunny morning.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

He Bought It For A Dime

Left to my own devices, I eat a really wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, meats, fishes, fowls and grains, often all at once, explaining my overwideness and undertallitude. Pete's had a few health issues along the way that somewhat limit his diet. He can't eat seeds or nuts, white flour is his mortal enemy and most dairy makes him nervous; on top of that, he won't touch eggplant and though he likes the flavor of mushrooms their texture makes him squirmy. I personally find eggplant smooth to the touch and delicious; mushrooms are downright sexy. More for me!

Last time we made the pilgrimage to Virginia, Daria brought with her a quinoa salad she picked up at her gym's juice bar. All of my gyms had uneven bars, so I'm not up on spa cuisine but quinoa I learned about on PBS. Her salad had yummy golden raisins and almonds and a light, slightly sweet dressing. It was tasty, but I wanted cashews, mushrooms and dried cranberries. And chicken paprikash, for dessert.

One day, I was exercising with a friend and babbling about being lightheaded, not to mention fatigued. You're right, I should switch to decaf, but suddenly I realized I'd been eating stupidly, despite the fantastic variety of foods. Somehow, I'd lost sight of the fact that I am so anemic on good days doctors wonder why I remain conscious. Thus, I've been on a tear with quinoa boiled in good stock or broth and lots of herbs and greens sauteed with olive oil and garlic, with the whole mess sprinkled with lemon or lime juice. Different greens have different nutritional values, but most have good, solid amounts of iron, which is great. Iron can also be binding on the intestines, thus the quinoa. But you could saute cardboard in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, sprinkle it with lemon juice, and you'd be glad to eat it.

On the other hand, I'm a little hard pressed to explain the 10 boxes of creamed spinach neatly lined up in my freezer except to say spinach makes me stronger than Bluto and I had a coupon.


Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm Always Counting Down

Soooo tired I might, in an unguarded moment, forget to ask who's at the door.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

To Feel You're "Acceptable"

This week, voters in California voted to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. The effort was funded largely by the Mormon Church, which had to found its own state because its views on marriage were so far outside the mainstream. Anyway, the struggle in California ain't over - not while money is flying in every direction faster than you can say "wedding industry." This is a temporary setback. It's an idiotic, repressive and pointless setback, but it's temporary. I'm certain of this, and here for me is what constitutes proof: Bianca and Reese are getting married.

All My Children tends to circle around and around - and sometimes around again - an issue before making it part of normal life. At first, Bianca was gay and the characters just talked about it. Then there was - zomigod! - a kiss, and we all had to wait for the hysterics to calm down. Then, there was another big build up and another kiss. Nobody was killed and we returned to folding our laundry. Then we had a transgender character talking about emotional and physical love and the audience kind of went crazy, which was stupid but foreseeable. Eventually, the audience calmed down again. Bianca has come back with a brand new baby and a gorgeous girlfriend and this week, Reese proposed. Bianca accepted. They kissed a whole lot and the world did not end. It didn't! I'm sure of it. See for yourself - the first three minutes will do the trick.

The reason I say Californians' setback is temporary is that women are going to watch Erica Kane plan a wedding for her angelic daughter, whose beautiful girlfriend is sweet and warm, and women all over the place LOVE A FREAKING WEDDING. There will be resistance, then women will say things like, "I'm not sure it should be legal, but wasn't that beautiful? I cried my eyes out!" Then a whole lot of women will make one truly crucial recognition: they have gay friends and relatives who might really like to hire a band and polka in public. All gay marriage will mean to most women is the possibility of more weddings, more cake, more dancing, more flowers, more love, more babies to adore, more of what makes life good.

It's just a matter of time. No one can stop that now.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope Finds A Way

The Sheheyanu:
Finally, let me share with you the one last blessing for this morning, the sheheyanu. We bless God who has kept us alive, who has sustained us and who has enabled us to reach this season.

I had begun to think recently that these three terms: keeping us alive, sustaining us and enabling us to reach this season speak of the three ages of human beings, First, we are children awe-struck by the world and grateful for being alive. Then, we are middle aged adults struggling to remain stable within the direction we have set for ourselves thankful for being sustained. Finally, we are elderly individuals grateful for just reaching a new day.

That’s a nice interpretation. But, I have been inspired by words I heard this year to look at it differently. Our lives need to be a combination of all of those every day. We must never give up the thrill of being alive, always seek to find our direction and be grateful at the end of each day, knowing we have navigated the dangers of life successfully.

I credit this understanding of the Sheheyanu to a quotation I heard from a former astronaut, Pinky Nelson, commenting on flying the space shuttle after the tragedy of the Columbia.

He said: "You really have three things going on at once. There’s the professional astronaut that’s cool and calm and watching the instruments. There’s the little kid who’s got a ticket to Disneyland is having the ride of a lifetime. And there’s the older person looking over your shoulder trying to take it all in. You know if you’re not scared during a shuttle launch, then you don’t appreciate what’s going on."

If we’re not scared during life, we don’t appreciate what’s going on. And if we don’t feel like a kid in Disneyland each and every day, we don’t appreciate what’s going on. And if we’re not watching every step of the way trying to stay in control, we don’t appreciate what’s going on. And the Sheheyanu reminds us that we should acknowledge the deep enjoyment of life, the living of life with meaning and the acceptance and overcoming of our fears at every age of our lives.

Welcome to our new lives, to this new day.


Monday, November 03, 2008

That Emptiness Brings Fullness

I can't form a coherent sentence anymore about politics. The absolute worst thing I've ever heard was the suggestion that the Democratic candidate killed his grandmother today for sympathy votes. My response to this has been swift and direct: god damn it, I'm going to knit some fucking cat blankets in my extreme and shitty frustration that reprobate howler monkeys qualify to vote, and put some Good after Bad. Fuck!

And I urge you to give a street person a quarter and a granola bar, put spare change in a parking meter, feed some stray cats, because we have seen enough, and you've probably still got a quarter.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

That Delicate Satin-Draped Frame

At the family store, where my sisters Anya and Corinne and their mother Ellen show and sell the wares and works of artists and artisans, people ask very interesting questions. The first time I noticed this thinking at work, a woman browsed the little store for over an hour, then asked an exciting question: "Do you have any vases?" My heart skipped a beat. For a moment, I couldn't speak. Then I said, "Yes," because the store is a room - and I cannot overstate this - full of vases. Yesterday, a woman walked around in circles and finally asked, "Do you have anything with butterflies?" I gulped, then started at one end of the store and made a pile in a shopping basket for her that would have cost her hundreds if she hadn't exclaimed, "Stop! Stop! I don't like my friend that much." The other question that boggles my tiny mind is, "What would you do with these?" - meaning the pocket vases made by Daniel Latta of Latta's Fused Glass.

I make lists: love notes, pencil holder, bud vase, chopstick dispenser, spaghetti organizer, handy eyeliner file, recipe card stand, spare change jar, safe place for used razors, container for your shredded credit card bill (pay it first!), cat toy caddy, fresh herb frame, brilliant storage for your favorite stranded wire bundle, haystack for a beloved needle, rainy day cash safe, seed cup, display case for your tail comb collection. I could go on.

Pete and I were wandering through Acme, of all places, when I stumbled on a basket of oversized cinnamon stick bundles. I'd surmised I'd only be able to get them at an Indian grocery, but there they were. This hangs in our bedroom, a warm beige bearing little resemblance to this color, where lamplight appears to flicker and even with the camera's candlelight setting, the vase appears to move. Or we were having an earthquake no one else noticed. Either way, we couldn't take a picture of this vase that wasn't an action photo. Doesn't it look athletic?

In other news: Miss Sasha reports that Panky has begun to crawl: her life changed in a flash when he got up on all fours and made for the dog bowl.

Yes. I am still laughing.