Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Everyone's Lookin' For It

Everybody wants to be acknowledged. And thought so fondly of that they’re sometimes missed before they’ve even left. That must be why I saved this clipping from our local paper. It was the early days of “Pune,” so to see this sign meant, well, everything to me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Give It To Me, Baby

I was about 4 or 5 when I started giving Christmas gifts. I didn’t quite get the concept at first—nor did I have any money of my own—so I vaguely remember searching around my bedroom and picking out my own possessions to give to family members. To my sister Pat I presented my prize pig—a glass piggy bank filled with all my money, all 62 or whatever cents of it. Imagine my surprise when she wouldn’t let me have it back a few days later!

Me, eyeing “my” pig on her bureau: “That’s mine!”

Her: “Nuh uh. You gave it to me as a present. That means it’s mine now.”

And thus began my education in giving. Rule number one: You can’t take it back. Even if they don’t like it. Even if they never use it. Even if they give it to someone else. Not that Pat gave away the pig or anything, but still.

I’m also still learning to give someone what they want, not what you think they want. Like, honestly, do you think Bing really was hoping this blue hat would be under the tree?

OK, that’s not really a crocheted cat hat he’s wearing. It’s a catnip toy that I put on his head in order to take an exploitive photo. My point is…we spend a lot of money buying our pets stuff that they don’t want. But how many times have I given someone the human equivalent of a cat Dracula costume? (I’m sorry, was on sale.)

I’m thinking there’s a giving muscle, and you’ve gotta use it or lose it. I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past 2 months or so, but my giving muscle has gotten all flabby. Maybe it’s just being so busy and anxious and not realizing oh, yeah, there are other people in this mess with me. And when I mean “give,” I’m not talking Christmas presents. I’m talking about a giving spirit…like not freaking out just because someone didn’t say “thank you” when I held the elevator door as they got their mail, or crossing the street to avoid running into a neighbor. (That would require me to say hello and have a conversation…and I actually felt I couldn’t swing it!)

I hate living in the world this way. ‘Cause it’s not like the universe is a selfish tight-a$$. No way, there’s just so much for the taking. Like I was walking to the bus the other day thinking about this whole giving thing, and for some reason remembered the assistant in the hair salon I used to go to telling me that whenever she felt bad, she’d just look up at the sky—and it always made her feel better. And as corny as it may sound, I did—and it stopped me in my tracks.

The sky in winter, OMG. Clouds, long and pale pink-peach, like sleepy fishes seen silent beneath a sheet of ice, all crinkle-crackle thin. Kind of saying, “Hey, it’s the time of the year to chill the eff out—I am.”

Anyway, because I borrowed the title for this post from Rick James, I wanted to give back to the great King of Punk Funk by sharing one of his best songs. Whatever you wanna say about him, he’s freaking giving it up for the audience. Especially at and around 2:39.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Time Keeps on Slipping

Sorry, this turned out to be LessWord Wednesday. But what's word order among friends?

I know it’s that time of year, but can we please SLOW THE EFF DOWN, people! I’m so overwhelmed in/by this present that I can only see myself dancing on the empty stage of the past. Is that why these photos of TWA Terminal 5 at JFK Airport, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1962, make me ache?

I don’t know why, but they take my breath away and stop my mind in its chug-a-chug-a-chug-a tracks. They remind me of my favorite line ever from a Christmas song...Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.

And technically these are images of Terminal 5 at Idlewild Airport—that’s what JFK used to be called. Idlewild. The most beautiful, magical word ever. Idlewild…a place where you don’t have to do much for awhile so your mind is free to grow and play. And you get to do all this while dressed in something the Supremes would wear.

Video alert: The song starts a minute in, if you don't wanna listen to the interview.

In all your hurry, you've accidentally locked the gate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Tower of Babble

I got this postcard at the good ol’ now-defunct Tower Records on East 4th and Broadway, and never mailed it because I am a triple Taurus and wanted it all for myself. (Why didn’t I take more than one? They were free!) I tried to think of the various records I purchased there, and the first one that came to mind was a Johnny Thunders EP with “Green Onions” and this:

Oh. Em. Gee. No way can I leave you with that! Here’s a song that goes much better with the 3 kitties, doncha think?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shakin' All Over

Just last month, a minor earthquake shook eastern Long Island. According to the Sag Harbor Express, 14 people from my hometown—East Hampton—reported to the US Geological Survey that they felt the 3.9 magnitude quake. It was about 10:45 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

“Well,” I thought, “at least she wouldn’t have been in bed at that time.”

That she would be me as a kid.

Yup, surprise, surprise, I was a Nervous Nellie as a child, prone to anxiety of all sorts. I would read Alfred Hitchcock mysteries and books about the world’s greatest natural disasters before bed, have scary dreams and then wake up in the middle of the night, listening intently for rumbling and shaking, at which point I was sure the ground would split in two and the house would fall into the gaping chasm. Which would, of course, immediately close back up.

I think a lot of kids worry about similar stuff—a well-adjusted friend recently told me the first thing she’d do when she woke up in the morning when she was around 9 was drink a glass of water to make sure she hadn’t developed rabies overnight—but it often got in the way of fun things for me. Like for about a year or so I was constantly scared that I was going to throw up in front of everyone, so never made it to the Christmas pageant one year when I was supposed to be one of four cows in the nativity scene. I’m not sure cows are physically able to throw up. Horses can’t, right? I even got a fancy velvet dress from Gertz (spellcheck, East Hamptonites?) to wear. Not that cows wear velvet dresses either, but that’s what I would have worn under my costume.

Anyway, back on the subject of shaking and glamorous outfits, about 10 years ago I performed a solo bellydance number to this song at a bar in Alphabet City (ignore the weird Elvis stuff if it bothers you; this isn't about Elvis but it's the only video of this version of the song):

I have no idea what I was thinking, but I was definitely on some sort of mission. I'm no solo performer. Perhaps it was my way of making up for not playing a cow at Baby Jesus’ manger. Anyway, I recall a ridiculous conversation I had after my number with a Capricorn involved somehow in the printing industry:

Capricorn: I noticed you from across the room.

Me: I think it’s because I’m the only one wearing a glittery bellydance costume.

Capricorn: No, it was your eyes.

Me: Well, I do have on these gigantic falsh eyelashes.

I’d like to take the time to salute all Capricorns, who get such a bad rap from most astrologists for being boring, stubborn and stingy in all ways. It’s untrue and not fair. I like Capricorns, so there! Bing’s on the cusp, and Puffer was right in the middle.

And here’s some more stuff to shake all those cobwebs out:

P.S. If memory serves, one of the other cows was Ted, who used to eat ticks and insects on the playground.

P.S.S. I guess I didn’t know that rabid animals can’t drink water.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Little Darlin', Stirrrrup!

Awhile back, my college put out a call for postcard-art submissions of campus memories for an alumni exhibit. I doubt this one made the final cut, but hey… here’s my collage homage to our doozy of a gyno-nurse-lady. Some stuff fell off it, but maybe it’s good I can’t remember what I made them say.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Frankly, My Dear...

...secondhand smoke is harmful to kitties!

And why didn’t you finish the gherkin? That IS a gherkin, isn’t it?

This scene from The Misfits always gives me goosebumps, but is very upsetting. Proceed with caution:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Everybody Boom-Dings Once In Awhile

When I was little, I wanted to be a game show hostess. Not like Vanna White, but more old-school with a subtler set of skills, like the ladies who stood in front of giant wrapped boxes and encouraged us all to imagine what might be in them.

My fascination bubbled over to include TV commercials and cooking shows, and I combined the two regularly in front of the bathroom mirror, mixing up whatever I could find in the medicine cabinet—shaving cream, toothpaste, talcum powder, aspirin—and explaining to the viewers out there what I was creating.

I have a similar approach to fashion, combining whatever’s there, as long as it’s in the right color palette. Can’t decide: pants or skirt? Wear both! For example: off-white corduroys, a pinky beige-patterned wrap skirt made from a silk saari, a leopard-spotted tank top, ruffly sand-colored sweater, crème-and-tan argyle socks, a striped velvet scarf that a neighbor was throwing out (1970s vintage!), earth-toned peacock feather earrings. A layer-cake take on dressing along the lines of macho frio, which was created, albeit with a different goal, by my friend Kate’s dad. I think I actually may be dressing like a 5-year-old, which is fine with me. Nothing better than beginner’s mind.

So, it’s no wonder I couldn’t sleep during my recent business trip to Seattle. I was too darn excited! The entire city is, as Sue, possibly-most-gracious-host-ever, put it, “a hodge-podge.” Hilly streets planted with tri-colored houses in which Muppets would feel right at home…here’s a Siamese-colored one with a blue door, landscaped with crazy floofy foliage reminiscent of divalicious cornstalks, a cherry Mustang ('67?) parked nearby; here’s one that looks like a peach-colored cuckoo clock with a big tree in front that Fozzie Bear might climb. The best part is that, since it’s all hilly, everything looks completely different when you’re at the bottom than when you get to the top, and your perspective is constantly changing on the way up. Always something new to see, something new to be.

And the kitties? Story book characters, too, especially naughty orange ones like Bertie and Cooper who go around sneaking into neighbors’ houses. And what do they do once inside? Oh, they might eye a collection of old bird’s nests or take a few pictures. Seriously.

This photo was taken by Cooper, who wears a teeny camera on his collar. You can buy his new book here!

And the birds! Beautiful big-mouthed crows everywhere, and gray-brown gulls with feathers patterned like pebbles along the shoreline, and look to the right, over at 2 o’clock…a bald eagle! My first. Water, water everywhere, and some big-a$$ mountains that didn’t scare me at all. Tall trees, small trees, and green, green, green.

I really liked Seattle, everybody!

What to listen to when you’re running up that hill

When I was trying to think of a song to accompany this post, after a couple of tries this one cued up in my head. There’s a bicycle bell and a horn on it, which I thought was hodge-podgy--but it’s so carefully built that it shows that hodge-podge doesn’t mean thrown together without design. And all the vocals from “I wanna cry” on sound like the up-and-down of rolling hills.

Here’s an amazing video on the making of this song. I totally freaked out when I saw the Muppet. It’s where I stole the title for this post, too:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another One for the Puff

Like most cats, Puff was all about living in the present (face it, they pretty much have us beat on that one)—so it does feel a little weird to me to be writing a special post on the anniversary of her death. But I did buy roses for her today, a whispery purple that looked in the gray afternoon light like the velveteen backs of her ears…my favorite part of Puffer.

When I brought them home they blushed under the brighter lamp in the living room, a demure and decidedly baby pink…and I thought of the first time I saw Miss P, on what was just her third day in the world, and again on the day she came to join our family.

My song for her then and my song for her now:

P.S. Puffelina is editor-in-chief emeritus of this blog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Am Woman?

As I was falling asleep last night, Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" started playing in my head.

WTF?! Was it the wine and chocolate chips? Whatevs, it brought me back to little girl-hood and thinking that being a woman meant you were some sort of predator in a peach jumpsuit who sounded like Flo from Mel’s Diner.

I saw no connection between myself, a chubby kid cloaked in anxiety and dark green polyester pants, and an adult female. No way would I get there.

Honestly—and I held this belief way up into my college years—my definition of a woman encompassed 3 criteria: A woman carried a purse, wore pantyhose and accepted with complacence being strapped/trapped in a bullet-cupped brazeer.

The words purse and pantyhose were/are both squirm-inducing for me, so no, you can’t really substitute stockings, which sounds cute and has Christmas connotations, or pocketbook, which makes me think of Charlie’s Angels, who were tough and cool and pretty. You know, like you might find a shiny tube of red lipstick and a gun inside a pocketbook.

Geesh. I know this all reveals something very sad and twisted-up all wrong. And maybe if I’d seen that performance by Helen Reddy, who is like flying on estrogen or something in that clip, I’d have gotten that being a woman is not such a bad thing after all.

Well, since I adored animals I could at least relate to the ‘hear me roaring’ bit. Born Free was one of my favorite stories, and Elsa the lioness is to this day one of my heroes. Joy Adamson called her “a lion of two worlds”—she lived in the wild and raised a family but had a human family, too—whom she’d visit regularly and of her own choosing. A beautiful, bad-a** cat who breaks the rules in the best way possible.

So no, Elsa didn’t carry no dang purse, but she was both strong and gentle. And able to stand on her own two—er, four—feet.

You kick butt, Elsa. So yeah, thanks for helping me revise my definition.

What is/was yours? And dudes, I wanna hear from you, too!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Space, Balls

Rockport, MA. First thing I see for the past four mornings: big fat ocean, big fatter sky, and a "Hold on, just putting on my blush!" from the sun. I'm drunk and delirious from the pull of the tides, feet and nose and hair all "Got to Give It Up" to the sea air. The amount of sheer space in this place high and low...riotous!

A much better beginning for this post than I'd planned last week while riding the M14 bus, where mini battles play out endlessly over who'll be the first to plunk their lazy, selfish, lard ass in a seat. What bugs me most are the people who automatically sit on the aisle-side of a two-seat row. For some reason, most riders opt to stand up rather than make the person in the aisle seat move if the window seat is vacant, which ultimately is an inefficient use of space and makes the aisle even more crowded. A good friend goes out of his way to ask the aisle sitters to move in, but I don't want to even get started on that bad energy-building path... I'll no doubt get crankier than I already am at having to fight for, oh, 3 precious inches of personal space.

(Cats, of course, have their own set of rules about these things.)

So...a morning sky and ocean that fill every inch of the 3 windows in my room at the inn, and then some? The kind of thing that gets you jonesin' bigtime for space when you don't have it anymore.

I love you, sky, for being all big and empty. I love you, ocean, for never clocking out at quitting time.

And in the words of my favorite poet Keith Richards, whose description of "Heartbreak Hotel" I'm stealing to explain how I feel about space: "It was bare, right to the roots that you had a feeling were there but hadn't yet heard...The silence is your canvas, that's your frame, that's what you work on; don't try and deafen it out."

Songs to space out to

Dead ya have it. One of my favorite Beach Boys songs, this gem has not one but two periods when it just stops. And sits. And waits.

And I can see a setting sun wanting to choreograph to this one:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Are You Ready, Boots?

It’s fall, y’all! No longer do I feel like a tepid dumpling (boiled, not fried) stirred in the sticky, sweaty pot that is summer in NYC—nope, the Big Apple’s crisp and pie-eyed now, and instead of the sloppy slip-slap of flip-flops, you hear the wham-bam of boots, boots, everywhere.

I was perusing Shopbop the other day, which offers many opportunities to partake of the latest trend in bootwear—thigh-high, dark, sueded-leather. Maybe I just have to see them on, but in the product shots, all boots, no legs, they look almost inelegant, something you’d wear to go clamming. Or use as a discreet but flexible container in which to throw your pocket change. Or plant a topiary.

Nevertheless I do like this trend, but for gentlemen rather than ladies:

I’ve slobbered over Dave before, and with good reason. Who’s the first male coworker that pops into your mind? Now imagine that person wearing crotch-high boots. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you gotta admit it’s a tough look to pull off. Thanks, Dave.

Thigh-high boots are a natural fashion fit for cats as well:

Yuppers, it’s Puss In Boots, or Le Chat Botte if you’re a French bulldog.

I can’t believe I never read Charles Perrault’s fairy tale of a devoted cat who commits all sorts of crimes just so his master (not likely they called them “pet parents” then) can bag a babe and rise to power. The best part—and here’s the lesson, as far as I’m concerned—is that he didn’t just stumble across these boots or borrow someone else’s (d’oh, they wouldn’t fit), but he asked for and received them. Magic is there for the making and taking, and that’s something I don’t ever want to forget.

One of my most magical boot stories took place during my senior year at Connecticut College. Our artist friend Katie asked a bunch of people to help her with her final project. She envisioned a variety of different performance pieces, including some meditating and chanting on stage and people in those body sacks body-rolling to whale songs. I’m making it sound hokey, but it totally wasn’t—it was screw-you fun and radical for the time and place. We ended the night dancing on stage to “We Are Family,” which sounds so lame and tame now, but trust me—for college students in the 80s, it was so reverse chic it wasn’t funny.

Anyway, me, Sheila and Danielle choreographed a piece to “These Boots Were Made for Walkin.’” (Again, very ahead of our time—this was before whatever movie made it popular again and whatever band covered it.) We wore super giant brazeers over tacky house dresses and combat boots. Our friend Sanja gamely stood on a ladder in his underwear, representing the man we were walking all over. There was shimmying and hair dryers, and our bras were stuffed with big-a** grapefruits from the dining hall. At one point we were supposed to remove them and throw them at the audience, and God love me, I was so excited to do it I threw mine on the count of 7 instead of waiting for 1.

Sorry, guys, I totally ruined our citrus surprise—my timing’s way better now, I promise. But in spite of my premature evacuation, there was definitely magic there. And Katie, I don’t know if you can hear my typing in heaven, but shit, girl, you were so ahead of your time.

Music for changin’ when you shouldn’t be samin’

The choreography and hosiery rock hard here:

How have I never heard this before?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hey, Good Lookin'

A couple of weekends ago I took a 5Rhythms workshop held at the Merce Cunningham Studio. The space was nuts—I swear it must be situated right smack at the crossroads of some cosmic ley lines; it was like the studio was a divine drug addict shooting up an endless supply of shakti. I’ve not been to many places in New York City that felt so infinite and ego-less, bigger than all the baggage its visitors might be able to carry in…including my own freakin’ wheely cart-full.

During a break I perched myself in one of the giant windowsills, where I found an important note that someone had left, oh, just about 5 years and 6 months earlier. See above—It says (sorry if my photo sucks), “I just don’t know what I’m looking for./LB 5/12/05”

Dang, LB! That is, like, a real big one. Can anyone answer that for sure?

Well, maybe if you were the person who dropped these purple drawers on West 12th street:

I passed these at least 10 times over the course of the 3-day workshop, and kept thinking I should take a picture of them (why, Pune, why?!), but I kept forgetting to bring my camera. Imagine how happy I was to find they were still there on the last day, when I finally remembered it. I’m glad I did, because this photo serves as a visual reminder that sometimes it doesn’t do much good to find what you’ve lost. I mean, if these were your underwear, would you retrieve them after they’d been lying on the sidewalk for a minimum of 3 days? Would you even trust that they were yours? (P.S. Read my friend Brenna's blog for an excellent post on underwear.)

Anyway, LB, I actually went back to my journal from May 12, 2005, to see if I was looking for something then, too. No, not really. I was happy because I got new shoes. I was writing while on the bus, and overheard a lady who “couldn’t stand the smell of tuna and said so.” It’s not like I was complacent or especially satisfied, though. “I need to get my ass in gear,” I wrote. “Which gear would that be?”

Music and video for those who hide and seek

Don’t think you’ve got the time to stop, look and listen? Just do it anyway. As Elvis says, “It’s alright with me,” and it’d probably be OK with Mary Tyler Moore, too:

Was LB looking for love, be it spiritual or carnal? Here’s what a fellow seeker sez about that:

And by the way, LB, if you still haven’t found it, maybe this little clip will help. If a mouse can dance, so can you. Me, too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mountain High Enough

The more I meditate, the more I suck at it.

I’m fine with that. I think meditating is like doing pirouettes, where you have to get worse at 'em before you get better. Try to do one more than you usually do and the first few times you’re knocked on your ass or out of orbit, flailing and flapping all chickenly. It’d be hard for a chicken to do a pirouette, though, since they’re all about head bobbing. Can you even imagine? That would just get confusing for both chicken and viewer, should the chicken be on, say, Dancing with the Stars

Argghhh! Digress? Yes! But actually that’s exactly what happens in meditation. Thoughts fly in out of nowhere, and you’re supposed to let them float by like clouds. I had one thought recently during meditation that was so enticing, calling to me like a Siren—oh, let’s up the ante and make it a dark chocolate-wielding Siren with a basket of French bulldog puppies—that I had to just freakin’ flow with it.

I don’t know if it had to do with the fact that I was sitting directly in front of the air conditioning unit, but I started thinking about major league-level peace as a gi-normous snow-covered mountain.

Oh wait, it’s not just a mountain…it’s a cat as big as one! We’re talking Himalayan-sized, fur bright & snow-white. The cat’s shoulder blades form a big valley, the line of the spine a ridge, the tail a trail to the mountain’s base… And since we’re in the Himalayas, that means hundreds of gi-normous kitties all hanging out together!

It’s sort of surprising that I would envision peace as a mountain, since I function optimally at sea level. OK, I get majorly creeped out at the thought of being landlocked. I didn’t realize this until my infamous Denver vacation in the late 1990s. Here I am at the Buffalo Bill museum in Golden on our first full day, smiling like an idiot who had no idea in 20 minutes she’d be passing out just outside the door of her hotel room:

Even though we’d also just toured the Hakushika Sake Factory, I wasn’t drunk—I didn’t even take a sip! I realize in hindsight I must have been finishing up acclimating to the higher elevation, because I was right as rain after that, line dancing and riding the mechanical bull at the Grizzly Rose and hiking like a pro…until I read the travel guide in the car en route to Colorado Springs. Elevation sickness…what the heck is that?

So, of course, over the next few hours I gradually began to cook up interesting symptoms for myself, like dizziness and shortness of breath. I did such good work that my friend and cotraveler Petra had to drive me to the emergency room in the middle of the night, where they determined the level of oxygen in my blood was higher than most Colorado natives, but gave me a bunch of it anyway. The ER doctor was so, so sweet, and told me in the kindest way to put a bag over my head and get therapy. (Dude, I’d been all over that already for years!)

Does it come down to this—that ignorance is bliss? Because I have in fact displayed my best self on a mountain top. Here, just check this out:

This photo was taken in Greece, roughly a decade before the Colorado incident. We’re on an archaeology field trip during my semester abroad in college, and I’m pretty sure we’re somewhere in the Peloponnesus. That thing in the middle is a big honkin’ loaf of bread that I did not carefully arrange as the scene suggests but FLUNG there randomly from many feet away. See how it landed so perfectly? At the time it seemed a powerful sign to me—art is random and magic and everyone has the power to create, and you can find it anywhere if you just take a chance.

I don’t know why I was throwing bread, but I am sorry, Greece, for littering. And I hope the birds ate it.

Music for when the elevation gets you down

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey, Venus! Oh, Venus!

Astrologically speaking, my Venus is in Aries. It’s not the best placement, since Venus is all love and harmony and passivity, and Aries is all forceful and active and competitive. The nicest way I’ve seen Venus in Aries described comes courtesy of Lyn Birkbeck in Do It Yourself Astrology: “Your love nature can be condensed into one small and simple word—imp. You are impish in that you are naughty and delight in getting others to misbehave. You are impudent in your manner of boldly and shamelessly pursuing the object of your desires…In other words, you have a rather primitive approach that can be either enchanting or disenchanting…

Does making out with a random antiques dealer in his booth at the Pier Show some time back count? There may or may not have been other customers there at the time, but yes, this is an example of Venus in Aries in all its blood-galloping-to-groin glory…

I was with my fellow flea market huntress, the beautiful and Barbie-loving Rebecca, when we passed a booth displaying vintage sunglasses—R. going for big bubblegum-colored plastic 70s models, me liking a pair of 50s-ish gold-framed Ray Bans.

And yes, even more eye candy (GROAN! I know, that was soooo lame): the dealer, wearing a dark blue British Mod-era suit (with a polka-dot shirt, or am I projecting?) and looking a-whole-freakin’-lot like Dave Davies of the Kinks, circa 1967:

Heart aflutter, I went home and, in typical Venus in Aries style, started hatching a plan that involved—, I am so lame—me handing Dave-alike a business/calling card that featured a graphic of a bob-haired flapper releasing a tiny man from a gilt cage. (Err…I designed them myself.)

I went back the next Saturday, only to totally chicken out.

But don’t worry—Cupid calls, stupid follows unawares. I got back on the horse the next day, now-or-nevering in vintage brown H Bar C hip huggers and cowboy boots and honestly, I don’t know what I said or how we got there, but yes, French kissing in the corner.

There were a few assignations after that, though I’m not sure Bing approved. Well, OK, I’m positive Bing didn’t approve. He told the animal communicator to tell me: “First Name doesn’t let you be yourself. He wants to control everything, and he wants you to pay attention to him and not take care of your own life.”

Added Bing, “It’s not serving you.”

Bing was right, of course. First Name and I were not to be. He was chockful of issues—from being abducted by an alien to his inability to commit. I totally supported him on the alien front—didn’t you guys see Communion?—but blabbering about his commitment issues really did it for me.

You see, Venus in Aries folks don’t really like to think ahead too much or talk about that stuff in the beginning stages of romance. The idea of putting a name or a definition on something like a relationship is just…bad manners. Would you stand up in the middle of an incredible film and whine about how it might end? Love is best savored in the present state, and of course dreamed and schemed about in each and every in between. In reality, if you motor down that path too wholeheartedly, you’re ultimately left, well, brokenhearted at worst and unsatisfied at best.

The moral of the story? Listen to what the Bing says.

For those who need a sign
Funky Pretty, The Beach Boys for my Pisces lady friends

Two lonely people, the helpless kind?! Dave, you're killing me. One of my top 2 Kinks songs, Love Me Till The Sun Shines:

P.S. Along a similar vein, but this one took place during the gift show at the Javitts Center during the earliest days of my editorial career: I was supposed to be going around looking for juicy stuff to report on, and stopped at a booth where a completely stereotypical surfer dude was debuting his handmade boomerangs. This was so not what we were covering (think Precious Moments and duck-stamp art), but the guy was so eager and sweet, I had to stop. Before I knew what was happening, he was pulling me behind a curtain and shoving his tongue down my throat. Are you thinking I should have been scared? Trust me, it was just a kiss, albeit a sloppy one, and he was totally harmless—think adolescent, unneutered dog—and I was on my way, notebook and business cards in hand, within 30 seconds.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In An Ocean or A Glass

When I was 7 or 8, my brother tried to convince me that it was OK to drink ocean water.

“Go ahead,” he said. “It tastes just like the water that comes out of the faucet.”

I totally knew better. First, kids are smart so they know these things. And second, growing up in a beachy town, I’d been rumbled enough (big mouth wide open, of course) to have partaken of the Atlantic firsthand. But I really wanted to believe him. Maybe things had recently changed with the ocean, and I hadn’t heard about it. Something so big that you couldn’t see the bottom of had to have magical powers. And isn’t it so industrious—in a fairy tale sense—to think that if you were thirsty and had nothing to drink, you could just take a sip? Or maybe if I just thought really hard, it would become clear and cool and kind, having lost its sharp edges…

But no, it was as salty and gritty as always, and I could now say I’d conducted an official experiment to prove it. Next time I’d know.

That sort of head-in-the-clouds thinking has followed me throughout life. It seems like I missed out on basic common sense, like you shouldn’t stick your pen in an electric socket (thank you so much to whomever stopped me in high school bio), and no matter how much you feel the need to purge and move on, you should not put old letters from a boy you want to forget on a cookie sheet in the oven and turn the knob to “Broil.”

And always check charming coworkers’ left hands before you develop a massive, pull-out-all-the-flirting-stops crush on them.

When I first moved to New York City after college, I worked part time in the scholarly remainders section at Barnes & Noble while I looked for a job (ha ha, would this be the right time to mention my surprise that there weren’t any job listings specifically for philosophy majors in the New York Times classifieds? Yes, I looked under “P” for a couple of weeks until I figured it out.).

Anyway, Neil was all long hair and laidback and British, calling me his “little pie crust.” I was smitten, and was always the first to volunteer to go down to the basement to pick up the books that had been restored and rebound, or whatever it was they did down there. My heart sank the day that a fellow coworker told me, after watching us interact all moony in the elevator, that he was married. “See his wedding ring?” she pointed out, not unkindly.

Errr, no. I had pretty minimal experience with men, and since I only really knew college guys who weren’t married, wedding bands and left hands were just not on my radar. But this was something very important that I was glad I’d learned.

And can we go back to Georgica Beach for just a minute? As I’ve been writing this, another important memory has surfaced—of a young woman I met one night during the summer after high school graduation. “Woman” is not a word for her, though…I’d have to say “lady.” She was married to a local fisherman who’d recently been lost at sea, and our short conversation was, I realize now, bruised deep with her grief and devastation and vulnerability--and sad-earned wisdom from being so young and so intimate with loss.

I liked and connected with her instantly, and at one point she asked me if I was a fairy, too. Yes, she meant a little magical creature. I hadn’t thought about it, but indeed I wanted desperately to be someone magical.

The talk in our tiny town was, of course, that she was just crazy. Our paths never crossed again, but if they were to, I’d tell her this:

I have it on good authority that there’s a realized being who lives at the bottom of the sea. But you probably already know that, and you probably already know her secrets. Here’s to you, my fellow littoral fairy, and anyone else who dances and dreams at the place where the waves end and begin.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The "Is" Girl

Is there a statute of limitations on secrets? And is there some sort of automatic half-life on this statute if the person who told the secret wasn't supposed to tell me in the first place? Irrelevant. Mum’s sooo not the word today…

I'm telling on you, blabbermouth high school teacher!

It was nearing the end of senior year, and a friend reported that a teacher—we’ll call her Mrs. Blah Blah—was talking trash to her about our fellow classmates. The teacher described one girl as a “poor dumb thing.” Another, and I’m proud to say one of my best friends, was labeled “smart, but a bitch.” (Were you high, Mrs. Blah Blah?! Heck, she’s definitely smart, but way too empathetic and trusting in the world to be bitchy. This is a girl who, late for work one summer morning, randomly threw on one of her boyfriend’s T-shirts, and noticed that people were especially friendly all day. She realized why when her boyfriend asked her to look at what was printed on the shirt: “No Muff Too Tough/We Dive at Five.” A bitch wouldn’t laugh at herself so heartily and easily, which is what my friend did.)

I’m almost insulted Mrs. Blah Blah didn’t call me a bitch, too, but I guess that’s because I was predominantly…


Yup, that’s right. Affected. I remember that I had to read the dictionary definition a couple of times, but she meant someone with affectations, someone who puts on airs and pretends to be something they’re not. Oh, most understanding Mrs. Blah Blah, let me apologize for DARING to be anything other than what I was. I’m sorry I didn’t want to accept my place at the bottom of that typical high-school heap, topped by that tool you so fondly described as “adorable.” I’m sorry the rest of my face hadn’t yet caught up with my nose, and I’m sorry I wanted to get the hell out of that town because gee, I don’t know, Mrs. Blah Blah, I had a very sick family member who thought he was Jesus and ran around town making citizens’ arrests …so sorry, Mrs. Blah Blah, that I was trying NOT to be that girl....

But yeah, you did totally call me on my survival tactics—and if wearing thrift-store clothes, finally finding a voice and giving yourself a new name defines someone as “affected,” then sign me up. And what 17-year-old knows who they are, anyway? If they do, what are they supposed to spend the rest of their lives learning and doing? That’s a diploma with a death sentence to me, Mrs. Blah Blah. Isn’t being all about becoming, anyway?

I think that’s why it bugs me so much when people don’t capitalize “Is” in headlines. (You capitalize verbs in headlines, you know. Did you teach me that?) And “Is” may be two lil’ letters, but to me it’s the most important verb of all. Life is “Is.”

What irks me most? I like you, Mrs. Blah Blah! And I learned a lot from you! It may not have been the greatest high school, but you cared enough to introduce us to stuff that might actually expand our brains. We read Plato, and I remember thinking, “What IS this?!” It was wild and exciting to me in the way that I guess kissing boys would have been if I weren’t a) socially inept and b) c’mon, do i have to bring up the nose thing again?

Anyway, it’s water under the bridge now, Mrs. Blah Blah. I went on to major in philosophy at college, so I really do have you to thank for that. And I’m happy to be thought of as someone who works hard to be who they’re not entirely, but just might become.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Move Over, Rover

I interrupt my “high school byotches and bullies” miniseries to bring you a commercial break of more typical Pollyanna/sunshine supergirly offerings.

On Saturday I noticed that my orchid, Jimi, is not doing well. His purple flowers have dried up (inevitable, since they’ve been out and proud since May), but that’s not the problem… Jimi’s fighting for his life, roots crawling out of the too-small pot like a hungry snake. Looking for what? More room to boom-boom bloom.

He gets lots of water, and I even mist him with Evian in a can. But it’s not enough. He’s outgrown his home, he needs to expand.

I know what I need to do—what any frickin’ normal person would do…repot him. And I am going to today, but let me tell you that for me, that’s taking a chance, accepting a dare. It could be that I just don’t know how to do it properly, but few of my past plants have survived repotting. Is it just that it takes them awhile to acclimate, so when they seem to be flatlining, all this work is actually going on underneath the surface that you don’t see…like the roots are doing their thing, and like any change, just takes time and patience to see results?

That’s no reason to not try. It’s like this viewpoint I heard the other day, so painfully expressed—“better to euthanize shelter animals than keep them in a tiny cage, where they don’t get to live like real cats and dogs.” I hear where that person is coming from—but that shouldn’t stop us from working our tails off to do what we can for them. That shouldn’t stop us from repotting—our plants, our selves, whatever wants to grow.

I know, I know, I can be so annoyingly phototropic. Next post I’ll be sure to badmouth some more people.

Music for growing your inner Pollyanna

My total fave Jimi song. And when I did some online research, I found this at-home-here explanation of the lyrics: The main lyrics in this song ("Let me stand next to your fire") came from a time when the band had just finished a gig in the cold around Christmas, 1966. They went to Noel Redding's mother's house. When they got there, Jimi asked Margaret, the mother, to "Let me stand next to your fire" so he could warm up. They had a German Shepherd that way laying by the fire, which inspired the line, "Move over Rover, and let Jimi take over." (As posted by Jayson, Atlanta, GA)

Hendrixophiles, please don’t tell me that’s entirely true!? You have to admit it’s slightly hokey and though I love German shepherds, well... I think it’s more exciting to think about the…uh…blood-to-groin frenziness of that song.

I Will Dare, The Replacements

A Seed’s A Star, Stevie Wonder
The root of me is homeward bound/A trunk, a leaf and there I am/A miracle of least by far
Man, Stevie, you are too much

This song references Po Tolo, “the smallest kind of star” and “tiny unseen companion” of Sirius, the Dog Star. There’s more good stories about it involving extraterrestrials and the Dogon tribe in Mali here.

I can’t say anything about that, but I adore this song because the chorus makes me feel like I could jump up and smash through any ceiling… like one of those cetaceans--right whales, I think they are--who jump out of the water and spin around like there’s no tomorrow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Cloud Nine When I Want To

Cojones. It’s like I’m growing a bigger pair lately, ya know? And as such, there are a few things from my past that I would like to address here.

First up: the Great Brownie Bake-Off, junior or senior year in high school. I will try to protect certain identities of those involved because a) I’m so not a name-namer and b.) authorities were involved. Don’t worry, it’s actually a story of unmatched ridiculousness and absurdity. But oh yeah, it f’d me up for a very long time after that.

So me and my friends are playing tennis at our high school courts. Everything was closed for spring break, but one of our teachers happened to be in school and came out to offer us some brownies. Oh, they were so good! I inhaled mine and, Triple Taurus that I am, requested another. Anyway, after awhile, I noticed that I kept missing the ball. Not that I’m a great tennis player to begin with, but it was like I was still swishing and swatting at the balls that I’d just hit and were already on D.'s side of the net. Good thing we had to stop because I had to go to my job at the local library, right?

D. and someone else…why am I thinking an exchange student?...and I rode our bikes there, and they waited for me while I tried to shelve some books. Dewey Decimal and all. But really, the stacks were moving by then, and by the time I hit the 600s we’d figured out something was wrong with them dang brownies.

D. was in better shape than me and called her parents, who came to pick us up (thank you for that and so much more), and all I remember is lying in the back of their station wagon on the way to the emergency room, thinking the songs on the radio sounded so good. You know, all spacey like “Revolution No. 9,” but it was probably just Rick Springfield and Styx. The next thing I know I’m sobbing…no, leaking tears…and slumped in a wheelchair, being greeted—what a coincidence! —by the volunteer coordinator at the hospital whom we both knew very well because we were…yes, candy stripers! No refillin’ water pitchers on North 3 that day tho. “We ate something bad, we ate something bad,” I kept moaning. D. must have lots of happy brain chemicals, because she was laughing the whole time and was able to stand up and walk to the bathroom to provide the urine sample upon request. Not me, no siree! Bring Miss Supine a bedpan, please…

D. went home and ate a cheeseburger (awww, I just remembered her beautiful meezer Coug and platinum-furred Harlow!); I went home, hoping to dream in Yellow Submarine but wound up crying in my room. Later I got to see the school psychiatrist, a soft-spoken man who told me how I might be feeling and I thought I should tell him I agreed. He was pretty on target tho—violated and scared. I had flashbacks for a couple of months but my parents told me I just wanted attention.

Thing is, it is a good story to retell, and the delicious irony is that I was obsessed with drug culture—I plowed through Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, adored Jefferson Airplane (no Dead, though, curiously. I think it’s ‘cause I love glamour and well, Grace and Marty and Paul and Jorma were way more glamorous to me than, uh, Jerry. Sorry.), and secretly admired anyone who could trust in themselves enough to experiment. I thought I was missing out on something creative, but know now that I’m so blessed to have a mind that lucy/sky/diamonds all on its own…

But you know why I’m mad at that teacher? Not because he gave us brownies that were basically so laced with hash that their rich, moist centers were glowing green—but because, a year later, he yelled at me and told me I was disgusting for giving a girl boxer shorts for secret Santa. He called me “perverted” in front of the whole class, and I turned pink with shame.

It was freakin’ fashion-forward for girls to wear boxer shorts then, Mr Blah Blah.

Music to listen to when the pot calls the kettle black
Oooh, not too crazy about this video, but if you’ve never heard the song, I think you’re all clear to watch. Gorgeous tune, she swoons.

I Want To Take You Higher
Sly & The Family Stone
Everybody higher higher HIGHER!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Summertime, and the livin’ is sleazy. At least during the day, and at least in New York City. This past month I’ve felt like a fish bein’ fried, pale and bloated and soggy-groggy, running from a smarmy sun. The Boomtown Rats’ “Someone’s Looking at You” comes to my mind…You know most killing is committed at 90 degrees, when it’s too hot to breathe and it’s too hot to think…

The kind of heat and intensity that drives cats like Oscar to steal underwear, day in, day out. And what for? He won’t wear it.

But when the sun sets, like a nasty drunk passing out, it’s a-whole-nother story. One Friday in early July, I found a new/true appreciation for the citified summer evening. I was walking home from yoga after a 100-degree day, and at one point I felt everyone else on the street start to collectively slink, right in rhythm with the night that wasn’t quite falling but shimmering its way to the pavement. A dusty-dusk dance done by everyone from the Chinese delivery guy on his bike, its silver bell glimmering like an urban firefly, to the curvy lady in front of Radio Shack in her red satin dress, looking down at her own boobs and feeling happy.

It makes me think of one summer night in East Hampton, the summer after we graduated from high school. And honestly, I’d totally forgotten this until some magic word or feeling loosened my memory last night. Highly unlike me, someone who still remembers my friends’ phone numbers from third grade. Anyway, we were at the bay, which is quite different from the ocean—bathtub vs. Jacuzzi, holding hands vs. up-against-the-wall, big and deep but still knowable and safe—and it was getting dark. I’m not sure how we got there, who all was there or who invited us, but I wound up kissing this boy, lying on the sand and then again in hip bone-high, just-us-in-night-black water, everything all sparkly-dark. I knew who he was but had never spoken to him before that night and never spoke to him after that, the only witness to our sole interaction being the moon.

I realize now, wow, that was a really nice time. A poem. Thank you. I should have put out but honestly had no idea what I was doing. And I salute our tongues and fingertips, whispery stars and bathtub waves, sexy stoner boys with longish hair and girls who feel the pull of the moon.

A song you have to listen to all the way through to get to the last line if you don’t already know what it is
The Beach Boys, I’d Love Just Once to See You

Here's Brian doing it live in 2008:

Upfront and out there
The Strangeloves, Nighttime

The English Beat, The End of the Party
It takes a while to get started, fast forward if you need. Pull back your cover I can love you for all time/But do it now, you know there's never a next time. Killer!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Spirit Dance Unfolding: For Loma P. & The Neetch Cat

Last night I dreamed about Loma P. and the Neetch Cat. You’ve met Loma P. before , but I don’t think I’ve told you about Neetch. Named after Friedrich Nietzsche, he was a classic cow-colored cat who used to pee in the toilet and steal corn on the cob straight from the pot. He was a protector cat, and I sure needed it—I was pretty stupid at the time, testing my Dionysian waters and giving my phone numbers to cab drivers and the guy from the bagel store who called me “Smiley,” just because they asked.

So in my dream, I was in my room at college, and I had both cats with me. I had two big catteries for them. Loma P.’s was across the room from Neetch’s, and there were live trees growing inside and the cats would swing from the branches and do flips like monkeys. But one day, Neetch went over to Loma P.’s cattery, undid the latch and opened the door (you don’t need opposable thumbs in dreams), and lead Loma P. over to his pad so they could both be together.

Flip back to Brooklyn, circa early 1990s: In real life, everyone in our small brownstone was about to be evicted in a month because the guy we were giving the rent to was just pretending to be the landlord, and the city was going to seize the building. I found a new place and brought Neetch with me, planning to sneak in Loma P. (there must have been a one-cat limit) several weeks later. In the meantime, she'd be with my roommate in the old apartment.

When I went back to our old apartment to get her, I found out that Loma P. had been living in a vacant lot next to the building, which pains me to this day. Where did she sleep at night? She was a Cancer, a nesting kitty who’d stay in the house even though the backdoor was always open in our garden apartment.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to write more.

But I will never forget the Neetch Cat’s eyes the day I brought Loma P. home—it was like the sun rose when he saw her.

I was pretty screwed up during that time in my life, and “responsible” was not how you’d describe me as a pet parent—or as a person, for that matter. But that was the one time I can say I did the best I could. It was all in the Neetch Cat’s eyes. Something in our story together was righted, like you flip the last card in the hand you’re holding and you get Black Jack. And pick up the next card.

Thank you, my black-and-white bandit, for your pink nose and half of a tail. For welcoming me into your family and opening the door to a room full of cat angels. And for giving me another chance.

You, too, Loma P.

Music that’s even better with corn on the cob
#9 Dream, John Lennon
Just play it over and over and over.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Hear You Knocking

My cat Derrick is smart! Lately I’ve been training him to go to the front door and stand on his hind legs when he wants to go out. We like to sit in the hallway together and have quiet time. He rolls on the carpet and purrs loudly, and I put my feet up on the wall and rub his ears.

Not much goes on in the hallway, but every once in awhile he meets a neighbor or (gasp!) the UPS man, who declared him very handsome. Then there was the time someone put a big garbage can in the hallway, right next to the garbage chute. WTF?!! It remained there for a week. I finally lifted the lid, unleashing a swarm of fruit flies. Me & Derrick (er…me) wrote a note saying how gross it was to randomly leave a garbage can full of fruit flies in the hallway, and it was gone the next morning…

Anyway, Derrick’s training all started with him simply sitting by the door and meowing, and me letting him out. But one day, he stood up and leaned against the door with his front paws—it was like he was reaching for the knob. It’s so not fair, the whole opposable thumbs thing! So now when Derrick goes to the door, I tap the doorknob and say, “What does Derrick do when he wants to go out?” As you can see, he is a fast learner.

He doesn’t know this yet, but next up I’m adding on jazz hands…or, in his case, jazz paws. It’ll be like he’s raising his hand to go out—and performing in a Fosse number all in one!

And the point I (we) wanted to make? You never know what you might get if you just ask.

Music to play at your very own jamb (get it?!) session

I Hear You Knocking, Dave Edmunds...this is John Lennon's fave version of this old chestnut.

Knock Three Times, Tony Orlando & Dawn

Open Sesame, Kool & The Gang

Behind That Locked Door (early take), George Harrison
Did you know that Olivia Newton John covered this? Me neither!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Surf's Up

Just 5 or so mornings ago, I was on Ogunquit beach in Maine. It was 6:30 and foggy, a black-and-white world that may as well have been the moon. There were a few other people on the beach with me, but they were faraway and fuzzy like dust, stagehands in a play building a set for Day.

Then the sun dropped whatever it was busy doing (eating oatmeal?) and out of nowhere, cut through the mist like a light switch flipping on, not rising but arriving all at once… I thought of the Beach Boys’ song "Surf’s Up"—well, the 1967 version linked to below—a song that just sort of isn’t and then kinda is…honestly, listen, it just rolls in out of nowhere and fills you up:

Surf’s Up demo, plus Brian singing it on Leonard Bernstein's Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution TV special

Beautiful, right? A ton of cool stuff has been written and said about it—the juiciest probably being Jules Siegel’s article, “Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!,” in which Brian Wilson plays for the interviewer the black acetate dub of the song at his home, explaining its meaning, line by line. It’s pretty intense and very un-“French bikini on a Hawaiian Island doll,” but the best part is what he does when the song is over:

Wilson went into the kitchen and squirted Reddi-Whip direct from the can into his mouth; made himself a chocolate Great Shake, and ate a couple of candy bars…

I hope no one thinks I’m making fun of Brian—you know, the stories of him hanging out in his bedroom for 3 years and eating cheeseburgers, the ones that people can’t seem to get enough of. In fact, if you type in “brian wilson” in the Google Images searchbox, one of the choices it pre-fills in for you is “brian wilson fat,” which made me mad/sad all at once.

No. I just think it’s so endearing/perfect in a fairy tale/”children’s song” sort of way that a self-described “dumb angel” would fuel a masterpiece on whipped cream. Willy Wonka, with water and waves.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Play That Country Meowsic, White Boy

If you wore a concert T-shirt back in the day, it usually meant you went to the concert or at least knew the band and could name, say, 3 of their songs.

But things have changed, and that’s why I didn’t hesitate when I purchased a “Love that COUNTRY MEOWSIC” T-shirt, featuring an image just like the one above, on my recent trip to Nashville. I told everyone it was meant to be “ironic,” but who am I kidding? As some of you know, shamefully bad cat puns come naturally to me, so this is probably what I should be wearing every day. Not just, uh, today.

What to listen to when the bottle lets you down
Glen Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy

Dillard & Clark, Through the Morning, Through the Night
Holy cannoli, is this song beautiful! (Clark means Gene, as in the former Byrdman.)

Hank Williams, Jr., Tennessee Stud
The song’s way hokey, but a good example of how some country songs are like little epic poems. “The Tennessee stud’s green eyes turned blue, ‘cause he was dreaming of his sweetheart, too…” (FYI, the Tennessee stud’s sweetheart is the Tennessee mare.) The comments on this vid are hysterical, too. Well, a little bit funny at first but ultimately disturbing.

P.S. When I searched for an image of the shirt, I came upon a picture of Vampire Weekend-leader Ezra wearing the exact same one I have.

It was posted on a fan forum, collecting comments about how cool he/it/he-wearing-it is, i.e.:

Definately, that shirt is a chic magnet and Ezra wearing it is beyond words. only thing i can say is gaaawww. only thing better than ezra wearign that shirt is ezra not wearing any shirt at all. *wink wink*

Of course, now I’m fascinated by the fine line between “chic” magnet and geek magnet. What if Ezra were wearing an I Heart MJ shirt…

…or this?

P.S.S. I don’t know much about Vampire Weekend, but my friend Holly at The Song In My Head Today does.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Double Vision

When I first met Festivus, the black kitty I’ve been fostering in my office since last week, I immediately fell in love with his big old head, carved of night and panther-wide. His face a river, broad and deep, flowing and rippling with catthoughts and catfeelings…

Aha! He reminded me of the beast in Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete, as portrayed by Jean Marais, above.

Totally catty, right? It’s one of my all-time favorite films, but for some reason thinking about it makes me profoundly sad. I don’t know if I can explain it, but I just walked into the living room as America’s Funniest Home Videos was playing a clip of some kid with a piece of spaghetti shooting out of his nose and, as the canned laughter and clapping by people-told-when-to-clap faded, I thought, “That is the exact opposite of Beauty and the Beast.” Which is OK—it’s not a judgment, really, just a fear… I hope people don’t laugh at Cocteau’s beautiful poem-film and think it “quaint,” or that we’re way past a candelabra held by a disembodied arm, in a pearly swirly palace in a black-and-white world of mirrors and magic and mist...

Ruh roh, sounds like a Cocteau Twins song! Eggs and Their Shells. Shallow Then Halo. The Spangle Maker. And those beautiful 4AD sleeves, making me want to buy a rock tumbler so everything hard could be soft, and wear clothes the color of mold and moss.

Thinking about the Cocteau Twins makes me melancholy, too. I did a Wikipedia search and then found myself watching a video of Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops, and wishing I hadn’t. Oh, it was all beautiful, but I much preferred thinking that the songs were sung and played by tiny redheaded fairies in a woodland clearing, or at least a flock of twittering sparrows or, heck, a pair of squirrels. To think they actually toured (and that I could have seen them but clearly didn’t want to break the spell), and that there’s even a genre for their music—dream pop. Eeek. And though I pretended not to know their species, I did know that they weren’t really twins but rather a trio. The voice? Elizabeth Fraser.

Oh, well. It’ll be OK. It’s just that there aren’t any good reality shows on TV right now, which is one of my main sources of truth and beauty these days. (Not my fault, I swear—my growing-up music was 80s music, so I’m used to that sort of “difficult beauty” you have to really look hard for, but can find in RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sober House and From G’s to Gents if you try.)

I just really, really, really miss thinking that life is more like a poem than a Facebook status.

P.S. Wondering why there are visions of George Costanza pole-dancing in your head?

Forgive me. They were no doubt triggered by the name Festivus, celebrated on December 23 in the land of Seinfeld.