Tough Chicks

Like everyone in my demographic, I saw The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind over the weekend, and am surprised to report that I liked it very much. In fact, I was insisting before it started that I would hate it. As time passes, I like Being John Malkovich less and less, so I was pretty sure that stylized dialogue and relentless overacting would get to me in this movie, too. But in the end, the real love story in ESSM is built out of honesty, not pretense. I wasn't that interested in the weaker stories that surrounded the love affair between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet; they seemed like transparent plot devices and not much else. But the kernel of the story, that you could love someone despite the mistakes and small tragedies that seem to live in every honest relationship, was wonderful.

My fears of what the movie might turn out to be weren't unfounded, though. ESSM flirts with the unreal. There seems to be a trend developing among cultural producers of this generation: the development of the caricature and the presenting of the caricature as true. You could see where this might be a backlash against the overextension of mass media. Anyway, this kind of character development is inexplicably hailed as brilliant. It's precisely what I loathed about Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Not like I could really read it, but I own it, and tried to read it, and was disappointed to find that it was like one long writing exercise in description. Ugh. There wasn't meaning in it, or heart, and I couldn't find an honest representation of what it is like to be human, which is essentially what all stories are about, if they mean anything. Maybe it was in there somewhere, but nothing compelled me to wade far enough in to find out for sure.

ESSM actually had elements of another recent movie: Along Came Polly. Yes, the one with the ferret. In that movie, Jennifer Aniston played a free spirit who revived---some might say saved---Ben Stiller's buttoned-up character. Kate Winslet was also a free spirit; more punk than hippie, but whatever. In both movies, I appreciated that the female character might have been some light, shallow, airy type, but instead both actresses wonderfully communicated a tired gravity behind their free-spiritedness. There is a sense, in both films, of how truly exhausting it is to live outside of the expectations of others. "Everyone I date expects me to 'complete' them!" ranted Winslet in ESSM. But she can't, because she's a real person.

See, posts like these make me think I should add a "comments" feature to this site, because I would love to hear them. I'm thinking about revamping the look of this blog altogether. There's a nice orange template out right now and it looks kind of tempting. What do you think? Oh, right, there's no comments section.



It's tough trying to keep a blog these days. The very thing I'd like to talk about, work, is too stressful and touchy a subject to address to an audience I don't know. If I was sure that my boss didn't read this, I would blog about it to my heart's content. But in short, let me write that work has come to resemble a P.O.W. camp (credit to Peaches). We are scarred, lonely, and bored, toughing it out from 9 to 5, dreaming of a better life. Relationships have crumbled and ideals have been dashed, and I'm not exaggerating, not even slightly. My relationship couldn't be better, and my ideals are doing just fine, but those around me have gone slightly crazy. The fact that my actual job description changes dramatically from month to month, and sometimes from week to week, has left me feeling somewhat demoralized, however. It does not change because I fail at my job, but eventually, as time passes and you are never quite able to depend on the idea that you can predict your next week, you feel as though you have failed. You set out to do one thing, and consistently, endlessly, perpetually, despite your best efforts, never get to do it.

Thoughts for a Friday morning: Breakfast Cookies. Have you ever heard of an idea quite as good? I bought some last weekend and have enjoyed a second, hobbit-like breakfast ever since. Yogurt, and then later, a breakfast cookie or two. It's the way to live.

Also: springtime. The light almost-April rain made my bike ride all the better this morning. I wore my pink jacket for the first time this year, and I felt like a sailing flower. Past the Mount Auburn Cemetery, the wetness made the ground smells soak the air, and the smell of evergreen reminded me of being on Mount Desert Island in early June, with the feeling and scent of the sea and the sand, the profiles of songbirds on your tent walls first thing in the morning as they flutter in the first light from branch to branch above your head. I love sleeping outside. I love sleeping outside, writing, the smell of pine needles, getting a small decaf from a cafe where the staff are kind and they recognize you, soft rain in the morning, and not having to wear a winter coat.


Virtually Fun

There should be a whole new category of friends who will join your online communities. And invite you to others, as well. Somebonnie, for instance, is a bridge friend; she leads me to new and undiscovered territory. Avocadola is a joiner; he's the only one I invite anymore to my online communities, because all my other friends ignore me. Not all the time, just when I'm trying to lure them to their 806th online community. Today I joined my fourth online community. You can find me at Friendster, Orkut, Friendzy, and now......Flickr! When I told my co-worker, he said, "Licker?" We agreed that Licker might be much more exciting.

Come join me! Write testimonials for the same people over and over as you hop from one community to the next! Face the task of writing out your interests and indicating your romantic status for the hundred thousandth time!


Page Six is Gay

So, I'm a big Page-Sixer, I'll have you know; it's a daily habit. Today in the blind items Page Six trumpeted:
"WHICH actor in an epic film trilogy has a habit of hooking up with other guys? The latest sighting had the closeted fellow making out with a man in an elevator."

Naturally I made an attempt to figure out which of the hobbits is gay, but I failed. Happily, Gawker visited the same question, and while they don't have an answer, they found a hilarious website:
Elijah Wood is Very, Very Gay

I so highly recommend the photos page.


The Dress

Yesterday, I finally found my wedding dress. It began when we took a short trip to the bike store, where, on a whim, I bought a $140 helmet. This is a bit more money than I'd planned to spend on a helmet, especially since, well, I already had one. But not only is this helmet the lightest model on the high-end market (it's Lance Armstrong's helmet!), but much more importantly, it has pink flames! I had to have it.

While purchasing Pink Flames, I came across discount coupons for the Bike Fair downtown. I suggested we go, so Peaches and I drove back home, hopped on our bikes, and biked downtown. It was a beautiful day; a little windy, but a nice strong sunlight. We went to the bike fair and took in awesome bike after awesome bike. Polished orange bikes and leather-seated low-riders, titanium frames and bikes with motors. The whole Somerville outlaw club was there. We even test-drove a semi-Velomobile, a recumbent tricycle-type thing. It was the most comfortable bike I've ever pedaled, braked, or steered. Someday we may bike around Australia in one of those babies.

Then I decided to go to the Jessica McClintock store on Newbury St., despite not having an appointment. I tried on 3 dresses. They were all great, but the first two looked amazing. I was shocked, especially since I went a second round at Yolanda's with Ilana on Tuesday night, and after trying on about 15 dresses I kind of dejectedly promised to consider a shabby $800 strapless gown. At Jessica McClintock, the dresses were simple, beautiful, and elegant. They also seemed cut for my body in a way that no other store had managed to pull off. Which is odd, because normally I find that mass-produced clothes don't fit me too well. I honestly cannot understand how Old Navy manages to sell pants to women; my great downfall seems to be my hips, but it's not as if my proportions are shockingly offbeat.

So the first dress I tried on was off-the-shoulder, which, as someone in the store pointed out to me, might make it hard to hug people. The second dress was just the right mixture of sexy, pretty and comfortable; thin straps, a scoop neck, a full skirt, and a half-bare back with a lace-up binding. Well-made, with beautiful, satiny material. All I needed now was a second opinion. Peaches has a thing about seeing me in a wedding dress--he doesn't want to until the day of the wedding. Fortunately, the first version of The Dress was too big, so they put me in a hot pink version in my size. It looked incredible. I called him. "Honey, are you outside?" "Yes!" "Can you come up here?" "Yes!" "Is it OK if you see me in my dress, as long as it is hot pink?" "Yes," he said, for the third time. He climbed the stairs and there I was at the top, wearing head-to-toe pink. He gave me a big smile, and I knew this was it. I ordered a version in ivory. It should be at my house in 7-10 days.

But the most exciting thing about this dress is the price. $142.

The first dress I tried on and fell in love with was $2,400, would take five months to make, with two more for alterations, and the alterations would run me at least $500. Obviously, I didn't get it. Since then, I've tried on dresses both cheaper and more expensive, and nothing has looked that great. Until yesterday. And it was the same price as my bicycle helmet.

It doesn't have pink flames, but it is just as good.


I Should Watch More Morning TV

This morning, in a bout of restless fatigue, I watched the Today show. Omarosa was being interviewed, who, as fellow Apprentice addicts know, is a crazy sociopath who finally got booted off the show last night after nine episodes. Nine episodes of hell! Anyway, she was asked this morning who her friends were on the show; she named Bill and Katrina, which is kind of funny, since they seem to hate her. Then she said that she "loves Sammy," that he "lives a half an hour from [her] house" and that she "sees him all the time." Ha! They are both so crazy, it's fantastic that they try to communicate. It's like imagining two cartoon characters hanging out on Mars. I just love the idea of walking into a Starbucks and seeing Omarosa and Sam having a decaf latte or something, her standing over him, running him through visualization exercises to try to calm him down, then getting hit on the head with a paper cup or something and having to lie down on the floor to get through her concussion. Now that I think of it, they both had a propensity for lying down on the job. I think it was just the weight of constantly having to act; to exist in a state of endless pretending, with no finish line in sight. It must be exhausting.

Speaking of which, they ran part of Katie Couric's interview with Jayson Blair, too. There was a great moment in which Couric quizzed him about an entire conversation he recounted in one of his made-up New York Times articles. In his book, he claimed that he made up that complete conversation. But when Couric brought it up, he said he wasn't sure. He started motioning for the cameras to stop, saying, "I don't know." She said, "It's in your book." They paused the cameras long enough for him to get up, go to the back of the studio, and then they turned the cameras on again to show him looking in his own book to see if he indeed claimed that he reprinted a conversation that was entirely fictitious. It must be so hard to keep track of everything when you are living in a sea of lies.

Happy Friday!


Puffing 101

Lately I've noticed that I feel very critical of people who smoke. It's not because they are damaging their lungs or my environment, but more importantly, they aren't smoking right. Yesterday I noticed a young man, very hiply dressed, passing by my office window. My otherwise positive and upbeat mood suddenly darkened when I noticed how he dragged on his cigarette. He tucked it into the corner of his mouth and puffed awkwardly. Please. It makes me want to take up smoking again. (I never will.) Smokers need a role model; they have apparently forgotten how to smoke. It could be that smoking is not portrayed in enough movies and commercials anymore. While I applaud this effort to protect children from the idea that smoking is normal and healthy (it isn't, but that's why we do it), demonstrations are desperately needed for adults who choose to engage in such a ridiculous, inane, utterly pleasurable activity.

Smoking is, first and foremost, sexy. There needs to be a casual raise of the cigarette to the middle third of the lips; this should be followed by the slightest hesitation. The whole body should then prepare to receive a good long inhale of smoke. Drag deeply, and look straight ahead as your lungs expand; prepare to slowly exhale. Allow smoke to move gently between your lips. Don't blow it out, but keep it moving.

When dispensing of the ash that has gathered at the tip of your cigarette, don't use the forefinger of your smoking hand to brush it off, as I saw a leather-coated man do at the bus stop this morning. That's awkward. It embarrasses us all. Instead, place the cigarette in between your thumb and middle finger, and tap gently, twice. The movement should be anything but conscious; smoking should be like breathing. Cigarettes should move through your life like thoughts flow through the mind. Easy.

Unfortunately, dying from smoking isn't sexy. If you can't smoke right, don't smoke at all.

(*note: author has not touched a cigarette in more than 5 and a half years. Author is planning a wedding and trying to get published; is sometimes slightly cranky.)


The Days Off List

Weekend days blended, 1. there was a wedding dress and a woman named Amy who helped Ilana into tall white sheaths, crinkled silk, I put a veil on my head as we struggled with the zipper and giggling could not get me propely into a huge Vera Wang dress; the dress, which stood up on its own, took up the whole fitting room.

2. D. and I fell into the grass, and I lay down in his lap with my face in the sun, as white pines moved ever slightly, slightly, a gentle up and down, a slightest gesture life, soft green arcs, sun burning through light gray haze. He had just tried to fly his plane, tossing it gently beyond him, always testing for the direction of the wind, throwing it into 3. the wind, the sudden force of which tossed the orange plane up higher, to where I said "Of course there is going to be wind in the middle of a field" and it 4. crashed.

5. Smashing ice into a frozen pond, 6. against a fence there were bristly pigs and twin baby goats with long ears, a cat named Beautiful sleeping high on square bales of hay, a shaggy brown horse with long blond tail watching us with a soft eye, separated from children by an electric wire but I 7. so wanted to pet him. 8. The sheep with impossibly thick wool. I reached over the fence and scratched her neck through the wool, reaching down deep until I could feel her neck. She pressed her face against the fence in silent, grateful, I rubbed her nose more vehemently. Her eyes closed, waiting, and we hugged her through the fence, and when it came time to go, she sat down by the fence, watching us leave, I looked back and missed her.

9. On the couch with red wine and chocolate pudding, watching From Here to Eternity; Burt Lancaster rolling around on a beach, finally I have some context for the classic women's magazine film still. 10. It's morning. A twenty-mile bikeride, the first of the season. A hawk flew over us, there was opposum roadkill and a poor dead house cat, we pressed on and on and up a hill I was nearly out of breath, and then down to 28 miles per hour, down as far down and the warm wind whipping my jersey, finally, it's true, a wind that's warm.