Get out the shovel...

Ahhhh...lots of red wine, a fire in the fireplace, and a golden retriever. What more could you want? My boyfriend and I are off to my parent's house tomorrow for a little Thanksgiving cheer. I'm looking forward to taking a few days off from seriousness and lying on the nice carpeted floor with the smell of quiche and chocolate pie in the air. Having a big dog to play with won't hurt, either. A healthy dose of snow is predicted. In fact, that winter storm warning has me slightly worried. Not so much about my car in the snow, but about everyone else's car in the snow. And everyone else's driving in the snow.

But, we're tough. We walked 44 miles on foot across the Osa Peninsula, through thick rainforest in Costa Rica's sweltering heat. Surely, surely, we can drive 400 miles to the West with some flurries in the air.


Sky-High Pursuits

I find myself staring off into space today, letting the gray afternoon absorb all my concentration. We stayed up late last night watching a movie on cable: Family Man, starring Tea Leoni and Nicolas Cage. It's not a terrible film, as cable goes; a man is torn between a career that's successful beyond his wildest dreams, or having a family with the love of his life. What I like about this film is that it portrays both states of being as somewhat unappealing. Oh, OK, I can be more optimistic than that. But as unappealing as his career-oriented bachelorhood appears, he does give something up as his loving-dad-and-husband alter ego. He gives up a challenging way to develop himself without being consumed by the short-term, which happens once he has kids. In the end, as the Boss says, "When you're alone you ain't nothing but alone." But the film works hard to show the sacrifices made by having a family.

Hmmm...I think I am starting to see a theme to this blog.

Over the weekend, it became apparent that it was high time to get dressed up and head downtown. That's how I ended up on the top of the Prudential building, leaving forehead prints on the glass 50 floors above the city, wearing my $12 pearls. Eventually the sun disappeared altogether, a burning orange light sucked away over the dark blue hills. Lights began flickering on all across town. The wind carried the surface of the Charles River in thin pale sheets until they vanished in the night. On the way down, we had the elevator all to ourselves. After burgers, cheesecake, and a Mai Tai, we walked through Boston Common in the dark, passing sleeping ducks under a bank of weeping willows. One brown duck kept her head planted firmly under one wing, but watched every step we took with a single beady eye.


Oh, baby.
We had four friends over last night. Two men and two women, each couple had a baby, and the babies laughed and cried and got held and watched our pufferfish and generally made our house more fun and more silly. I remember both couples when the babies were in utero, and last night we heard all the birth stories again. These friends of ours, all wonderful parents, are in such different worlds than I am; worlds I both envy painfully and yet do not want at all. I have had children on the brain for years; when in a room with them, I constantly fight the desire to hold or play with the kids. I think about motherhood everyday. I can honestly say I've been consciously preparing for parenthood since age 12. I don't think it's easy, but I could support another human emotionally and intellectually. Maybe not as well as I'll be able to in another 4 years, but I could do it. But, god, the idea of financially supporting another human, when I worry as much as I do about supporting myself? And the idea of not having time alone? Or time with my friends or boyfriend? Good lord. It just freaks me out. Getting a dog seems like a much more imminent possibility, though still a couple years off, and even the commitment involved in that is daunting, to say the least.
Still, when these women were my age, they had the same feelings, to hear them tell it. I don't know where they get their infinite patience and love, but maybe it's something you acquire after thirty.

You know blogging's big time when...
Addendum: My friend Donna is speaking at Yale today. The topic? Revenge of the Blogs.


On the Thruway

In the morning, turn on the lights and wipers to shear off some of the fog that has settled on the windshield. Warm the car up and go. On the Thruway, trees are smudged throughout the borders of your peripheral vision, turning each shade of brown and green into a transparent silver. You remember, from other mornings, passing a row of cedars, but today you see only a thin outline of density, a rare solid in a ghost forest. Accelerate to 80 miles an hour in the fast lane, distracted by the guard rail that acts as a barrier to nothing. It's as if the morning commute over familiar northeastern terrain has been transformed into an insane drag race on the edge of a mountain, and your field of vision extends only to the sheer drop over the cliff wall that is exactly three feet from your car. You pass deep banks where the grey has pooled, pass hidden dips in the land that just yesterday held ponds filled with fish and a great blue heron who, stepping carefully now, hunts them. The rest stop that is always your cue to move into the exit lane is gone, leaving not even an outline of its 3-story Exxon sign. You notice a construction site normally at the very end of your commute and wonder why it's moved further east. Out of nowhere, a sign races up to you marking your exit. Signal to the other cars before skating across three lanes of high-speed traffic to leave the Thruway. The car slows once on the bridge that leads into the fog. Wonder why the trip was so short, this morning.


One Extra Day

I'm not having such a bad day, sitting here and listening to music on Internet radio; music that surely provided the soundtrack for every 80s movie. It makes me want to watch 80s movies, especially hearing the Psychedelic Furs play "Pretty in Pink" for the millionth time. Oh, and now Depeche Mode is on. What would I do without 'Shake the Disease'? I'm being serious, actually.

Here is a plea/From my heart to you/Nobody knows me/As well as you do/You know how hard it is for me/To shake the disease/That takes hold of my tongue/In situations like these/////Understand me

I have been having a blogging crisis, as is probably obvious. A drawn-out worry about what's worth writing about, and what's appropriate to write about. I'm afraid that's been hampering a lot of writing I want to do, whether it's for children or for twentysomethings or for theory-heads or bloggees. I will try to get through it, starting today, by doing the only thing I can think to do: Write.

Besides thinking about hosting an upcoming dinner party and being mad at the absurd and clueless managers here, I am consumed by thoughts of the way in which my boyfriend and I have sliced apart this Christmas. It was a small war, with maybe more casualties on my side. Who goes where? In the end, we forgo each other to see our own families. He calls it no-win, but he's still doing what he first wanted to do. He has promised that this is the last Christmas we'll spend apart. That makes it a special Christmas, in a way. But that promise can only be made real by telling our families, and I want him to go first.

Why does this split hurt me so much? Mostly I want to be with him on Christmas. But I also think the act symbolizes the value of the relationship. Am I just a living partner? Or am I a treasured life partner? Just when you think you've given your relationship all the definition it needs, something pops up that demands a more exacting commitment. Truth be told, if my relationship with his family was tension-free (here's where the question of what I am allowed to blog rears its ugly head!), then maybe these problems would seem less significant, because there'd be nothing at all to prove about our relationship. I don't want to be motivated by having something to prove, but I do want our relationship to be expressed appropriately. I want it to look like what it is.

So, yes, this seems like more than separate vacations to me, but I've been known to overreact to things now and then. How do people reconcile all their wishes and far-apart families? How do you? Email me here if you'd like.

In the end, I don't think our solution will be so bad, as long as it's not permanent. I want to do what feels right, but sometimes it's hard to know how you feel.


Scene: a crowded parking lot, earlier this afternoon. I pull in, having talked myself into going to the gym. A cop is sitting in his car, wedged in behind some parked cars, and with great care, I steer my little car past him. Suddenly, a mammoth black Land Rover coming from the opposing direction decides that this is his moment to also "slip by" the cop car. No, I think. No. I pull forward with my foot on the gas, but it's too late. He squeezes by me, rocking my car from side to side and leaving scrapes on my driver's side mirror. I keep thinking he'll stop his car, but he doesn't. He keeps driving.

I leap out of my car. "Hey!" I yell to the cop. "He just hit my car!" The cop looks up from his note-taking and yells, "Shit!"

"9987KX!" I yell heroically, reading his license plate aloud, some might say unnecessarily.

The cop drives after him with lights and sirens. Meanwhile, I park my car, still shaking from the events. When he returns, I walk over to the cop, who looks shockingly like Ed Exley from L.A. Confidential. Really. I do double takes almost every time I interact with him. Click on these links to check him out. EXACTLY like the actor Guy Pearce. I guess he was also in Memento, but in LA Confidential, he was a cop just like this guy. I'm telling you. A dead ringer.

In fact, I am so distracted by this that I don't even notice at first when Cops #2 and #3 pull up behind us in a squad car. "What happened?" they yell out their window. Ed Exley yells at them with panic: "I was dealing with this accident, when there was ANOTHER accident! Take this girl's information!" I feel a little annoyed about being called a girl, but figure it's probably not the best time to say anything. A very small old lady standing several cars away asks me, "What happened to you?" I smile at her but don't respond. She then repeats the question several times. It almost becomes a song. She is so small, and so far away from me that I am not even completely convinced that she's talking to me. What's more, I'm busy trying to figure out which of the growing number of cops I should be paying attention to.

Cops 2 & 3 calmly take my license, tell me to "sit tight." They point at a guy standing nearby and watching us. "Is that the guy who hit you?" they ask. I tell them I have no idea. They pull away. As I Sit Tight, as they say, I am again approached by the very small old lady. She asks me again: "What happened to you?" I tell her I was sideswiped. She shakes her head gravely. "Oh," she says, "that's terrible." "Well," I say, "it happens." I hate negativity in our elders, because I have had a lifetime of correcting that trait in my grandparents. I shrug and smile. She slowly trudges over to Ed Exley, who is sitting in his squad car and appears to be madly filling out at least thirty accident reports. She holds her copy of the report up to him and asks him if it will be filed. "YES," Exley literally yells at her. "Yes, yes, YES!"

She says quietly, "I don't know why you are getting so upset." "Because," Exley screams. "I already told you twice that it will be filed! You keep coming up to me, and interrupting, and I don't know what your problem is!" Exley then screams some more at the very small, old woman. I don't listen to everything he says. It's getting too bizarre.

I do notice, though, that Exley is tossing paper around and throwing a small tantrum in his car. The very small lady backs away. A hefty man in his seventies wearing a blue suit walks up to me. "I'm with the police," he says, not showing any identification. "O.K.," I say. "Who hit you?" he asks. I look at Exley in his squad car. "Did you pull that guy over?" I ask nicely. "He is RIGHT THERE!" Exley screams, pointing at the guy who has been amiably watching us. "I pulled him over IMMEDIATELY! THAT IS THE GUY!" "Alright!" I shoot back. "Calm down!" I turn to Cop in a Blue Suit. "I think something's wrong with this guy," I say, gesturing towards Exley. Blue Suit laughs and sighs and says, "Yeah, well, you might be right."

Blue and I walk over to my car. "Now, the other car doesn't have any marks on it, and he doesn't even know what happened," he says. "Well, it's a big car," I say. He bends down to look at my mirror. "I think you two should exchange information," he tells me, "but frankly, you can rub these scrapes off with a big eraser." "Well, OK," I say."But can't he get a ticket or something?" Blue shakes his head. "You've got a story and he's got a story," he said. "We give out tickets for running red lights."

Once Blue has left, Cops 2 and 3 walk back over to me with my license, and let me copy down the Land Rover's contact information. I look at his license and sigh. A young white woman gets hit by an African-American man her own age in tony Cambridge and then we're promptly surrounded by white cops. You want white guilt? I'll give you white guilt. I half-heartedly record his full name, his license number and insurance company.

I thank Cops 2 and 3. "OK then," they say good-naturedly. They've given the other guy my information. "You're alright. You can go." Cop 2 gestures towards Exley. "We're sorry about him." "Yeah," I say, "I mean, good luck with that guy!" We all laugh. "BELIEVE ME," says Cop 2. "We KNOW." He gives me a long and meaningful look, the kind of comically long-suffering look one might give if one were very, very, very tired of one's crazy colleague. I head off to the gym.


God, it just kills me that we came so close to putting a woman in office! And yet, I knew Shannon O'Brien would not be governor. She just isn't as dashing as Mitt Romney. The rich suburbanites simply can't fall for her. Plus, the Republican party has more money than the Democratic Party. And more organization, not coincidentally. When I tried to order O'Brien campaign signs, I was treated to an email exchange so long I eventually gave up.

The real question now is, who's going to go against Bush in 2004? And how can we help her win?

At least we can always drown our sorrows in a showing of Femme Fatale.