Saw a Great Movie Yesterday:


I laughed, I cried, I wanted to dance.


We're going to see Gwen Stefani on Halloween! And the Black Eyed Peas, too. But Hollaback Girl in person! We'll miss the little trick or treaters, but we'll still trick out the porch (and leave some candy or something for the little muffins). This my shit, dude!


In Flux

Over the weekend we painted the two bedrooms, one in green and one in tan. Each room took a full day, since they needed to be primed first and each ceiling got painted. My arms and shoulders still hurt, but the rooms look great and it feels good to have finished the bulk of the painting work. It means that soon we can really start unpacking.

This week: My dear, dear friend Lizzie moves (with my little godson) to New Mexico. I have jury duty. I'm moderating a panel event for my organization. My center must prove to our biggest donor that we should remain employed after the end of this fiscal year (Sept. 30), and they promise to make an immediate decision after Aug. 1, which is scary. It could go either way. Today I'm finally off to Dorchester to learn more about a volunteer program through my gym that's drawn me in for months.

It's hard to stay focused today, because it feels like so much is moving around me. I imagine being surrounded by big, slow, shadowed shapes, not sinister, propelled by something outside of me. So, to a cicada soundtrack, I took a walk to Linda's Hand-Cut Donuts for coffee and a chocolate glazed, and said hello to the old men ambling in their yards and sidewalks, remarking on the heat. In the mornings, it's just me and the old men around here. Everyone else is away, being productive in airconditioned offices or ripping off rooftops or laying asphalt or installing cable. The cable guy came this morning and I could smell whiskey on his breath. I whispered him a thank you and went back to my conference call.



During a recent restless night while suffering from fever, my husband had an extended painting/relationship dream. We were painting a wall together, but I had a method that was both "magical and lazy." I'd just pass my arm across the wall and paint would magically appear on most of it. "But no," he'd protest, "you have to paint every part of the wall," and then proceed to meticulously attack the whole thing with a roller. It's not an exact description of our painting styles, but a little closer on our relationship.



Yesterday I wrote a lengthy post about Jude Law and how I felt like his wife-swapping, divorcing, Sienna-Miller-engaging, nanny-doing extravanganza was a reasonable example of human sexuality and the ol' "isn't it weird/crazy/beyond reason that sex has so much power" question, but then this morning I rethought the post enough to actually take it down. At dinner last night, Lizzie suggested he just got a taste for the illicit, or maybe he just had to take out something on his kids by devastating every single woman in their lives, which I thought was a reasonably good point. I mean, I might still be right, Jude Law might just be following an arc that is profoundly human, just being a sexual and emotional person, but she was also right; he could just as easily be on more specific, directed, and ultimately destructive path.


Dance Me

I heard a beautiful voice on the radio today. At first I thought it was Billie Holiday. Not at all: Madeleine Peyroux. She was singing an ethereal and perfect cover of "Dance Me To The End of Love." And, the Internet being what it is, in my search to learn more about her I was immediately led to--and compelled by--the blog of a man who died in May. A family's blog.


I'm in physical therapy for my knee. My physical therapist is around my age, shares the same name as a famous soul singer, and is in the process of buying a home, moving into it, and getting married, so we have a lot to talk about. But even though all that stuff is very important, I'm a little perplexed over my knee, which isn't getting better. Today as we were walking down the hallway to his office, he said, "How's the knee?" "Actually," I said, glad he asked, "not so good." "Hm," he said, distracted. "Sit down."
I did. He looked at my knee. Then he looked at me. "So, my girlfriend and I had a couple fights over the weekend. You guys had fights when you moved in together, right?" I of course reiterated how hard it can be to move in with someone at first. But also, you know, privately, there's the issue of my knee.


The Misunderstood Transvestite

I always learn so much from Writer's Almanac:

And today, the 18th of July, is believed to be the anniversary of the fire that burned Rome in 64 AD, while the emperor Nero supposedly played his fiddle. In fact, he wasn't in Rome. He was away at his holiday villa on the coast, and when he heard about the fire, he rushed back to the capital and took charge of the operations.

The rumors about his playing his fiddle probably came from people in the Roman military who did not approve of Nero's artistic leanings. He'd come to power at the age of 16. He was the youngest ruler in the history of Rome. He was more interested in music and poetry than in battling the barbarians. And he didn't play the fiddle; he did play the lyre. But his real passion was singing. He was also known to be a transvestite, which did not endear him to the soldiers.

One of the rumors being spread at the time was that Nero had himself started the fire because he was disgusted by the architecture in Rome and wanted to rebuild the city. And to bolster his own image against these rumors, Nero decided that the fire needed to be blamed on someone else, and he picked out the Christians who were generally loathed by Romans.

The religion of Christianity was only a few decades old when Nero singled it out. Nero rounded up Christians; they were covered in the skins of wild animals, torn to death by dogs, crucified, or they were burned at the stake.

Most Romans at the time despised Christians, but Nero's program of persecution went further than the people wanted. It had the unintended effect of making people sympathize with Christians. And a little more than 200 years later, the emperor of the Roman Empire himself converted to Christianity, and it became the dominant religion of Europe.


On Walden

I've been thinking alot about careers and influences lately. From today's Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, who was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817).

We know him as the author of Walden, and the essay "Civil Disobedience." He became the first member of his family to go to college. He went to Harvard, but didn't much care for the place. He didn't much care for school teaching either. He went to live with Ralph Waldo Emerson in Concord and did odd jobs around the house and took care of the children. It was Emerson who encouraged Thoreau to write poetry and suggested that Thoreau keep a journal, both of which Thoreau continued to do for the rest of his life.

He was 27 years old when he built that little cabin on the edge of Walden Pond and moved in, in an attempt, he said, to "Simplify, simplify, simplify ... to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach."


In the New Place

Everything is on hold: We're painting. The entry way, hallway, living room and dining room. Deep red, sand, and "cottage white." And then it's on to the bedrooms. All tours for friends have stopped, all cooking has ceased, all viewings of Twin Peaks and Six Feet Under, all walks in the cemetery, sitting outside in the backyard, meeting neighbors, setting up the stereo, reading of books, purchasing of furniture, everything. There's still some Tour de France watching at night, with a little wine or beer, and party invitations can't be turned down, of course, but when we're home, the rollers are roller-ing.


One Year

I don't blog about my marriage because it belongs to someone else, too. But still, a reflection on a one-year anniversary. It was such an unbelievably happy year, in so many ways, with a certain joy in every day. The newness remains. Being married to this wonderful person is still a fresh and precious thing, and different than living together (which had its own good flavor). The future became real. A daily landscape of emotional support from my husband made it easier to achieve goals like getting in shape, finishing a novel, and intentionally nurturing both my career and my writing.

Surprising things don't change. In spite of this profound new state of being, I am still basically the same person, with the same fixations, irritations, needs, wants. But he's not afraid of all this me-ness. I once asked his grandmother, madly in love with the same person after many decades, what it takes to make a good marriage. "You just have to marry the right person," she said. I certainly did.


Whatever Happened to Fair Use?

Avocadola points out this very good bit on the copyright stranglehold for the movie Mad Hot Ballroom: rights had to be bought to every single song, even cell ringtones and a $5k pricetag on the moment when a kid yells "Everybody Dance Now."

In vaguely related news, EFF has the cutest graphic for their Blogger's Legal Rights Page.
After Camping

Machine noises stand out today. So do people, computers, pavement. Riding my bike to work this morning, I missed Maine, where just yesterday morning I woke up, to birdsong, in a tent. We drove back in the rain, from the furthest eastern reaches of the continent, after four beautiful blue sky days (and one foggy starter day).

Maine is not Vermont. Vermont is farmland punctuated by shops selling fresh goat cheese and handmade root beer. In Vermont, adorable villages offer hand-dipped candles and milkshakes flavored with maple syrup that was tapped from the sugar maple outside the store window. In Maine, however, one might bike an errant 57 miles, and not pass a single store. In Maine, a "town" on the map doesn't necessarily sell anything. There is no gas station, no 7-11, no bottled water, not even a granola bar, and the locals might laugh when you ask them, one morning, just when you realize that your bike route is a full 37 miles longer than you'd expected, and you haven't been on said bike in nearly a year, and that day happens to be your first wedding anniversary, yeah, they might laugh when you ask where you can find the nearest grocery store. "Not around here," said one woman, and went back to what she was doing.

Fortunately, one coastal town, made up entirely of houses and one road, was having their annual 3rd of July (?!) party and selling candy and chips and water, which we scarfed down thankfully. It was embarrassing to marvel over the rural-ness, but we're used to New England being small, and that means that if you're 60 miles in the country, you're still within 100 miles of, say, a movie theater. In fact, there seem to be no movie theaters anywhere past Bar Harbor (click to see just how far out we were: camping near Lubec).

For entertainment, we saw the wonderful, hilarious 4th of July parade in Lubec, which seemed to feature everyone in town who had even a vague idea for a parade theme. We ate ice cream and chocolate and seafood (but couldn't cook the clams we dug up from the muck at low tide, because, alas, of the red tide and the paralysis and whatnot).

We took a kayak out in the ocean one day, and seals swam around us. Curious, we watched a few seals playing on a big dry rock that was later covered by high tide; within a few minutes, one of the seals was steadily watching us, too, from his position several yards in front of our kayak. His whiskered face and shiny head was an anomaly among the waves. Behind him a bald eagle spread its enormous wings and left one island for another. We followed and found an island littered with fallen pines and empty sea shells that had been pried open by little animal hands. How do raccoons get to islands?

One morning we drove to Reversing Falls to watch the tide come in. We watched for three hours as the tide grew, we crept back on rocks as our perches got flooded, the sun beat down, and then everything stopped moving: slack tide. Ten minutes passed with a quiet fullness, crabs and eels moved through the once-dry rocks, and then the tide began moving out again. I thought of slack tide the next morning as I watched my husband sleeping in our tent: the quiet time when the tide isn't going gently up or down.

Last night we sadly returned home, then got excited about the new condo all over again, then got depressed by seeing War of the Worlds (riveting, but with lots of very real parts--no, not the aliens), and then had some of the last of our wedding cake to celebrate Blue's birthday. Camping in Maine made us glad for our flush toilet, new bed, proximity to a Home Depot, but coming home makes me painfully aware of the passing of my only days inside, away from hopping red squirrels, quiet tides, campfires and the cacophony of song that marks every dawn in deep Maine.