Monday, April 21, 2008

The Things They Carried

I've been thinking about things. "Thing," as in the dictionary definition: "a material object without life or consciousness."

Not valuable items, at least in the monetary sense. But objects that anchor me to my life, and more particularly to my past -- a past that I feel some kind of need to prove existed through a daisy chain of tangible objects.

I bury my face in a pink velour robe -- which still has a Hall's cough drop in the pocket -- that hangs on my bathroom door and think, "I had a mother. She wore this robe."

I sit in the teal blue 60s armchair my dad had in his bedroom and think, "My father sat in this chair in the morning and read the Bible."

I look at the Fisher Price Little People police car and its driver on my computer at work and think, "Once, I turned 6, and I had a birthday party, and my parents bought me the Little People village."

I look at this picture of my brother holding me when I came home from the hospital and marvel at the fact that in my home now, I have that end table, the mail rack on the door and the black ashtray there by the lamp.

It's the same reason I love going to the flea market -- to see the things that other people carried, and compare them with my own.

So maybe I'm not talking about things in the dictionary definition. Because these material objects do harbor life and consciousness -- my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not Without My Daughter

Shaken Mama is claiming that I am the mother of her firstborn child. I was there for her entry into this world, and somehow, SM thinks, A. glommed on to me as her true birth mother.

I think she's right. In addition to the fact that Chebs looks more like me than SM, some damning new evidence has come to light:

1) People like to give her things. Kids on the subway, friends who come over to see the new baby ... so much so that upon waking from her nap, Chebs regularly asks if she got any presents while she was asleep. And you know what? Usually, she has.

2) She is similarly particular about things. When I was little, if I lost a piece to a game or toy, it was dead to me. I can't wear mismatched socks, even if no one but I will know. When I was in grade school, if I had a seam in my knee sock across the tips of my toes, I had to fold the end over the top of my foot so I wouldn't feel it. I cut the tags out of all of my shirts and dresses. I can't abide left-open drawers and cabinet doors. With this in mind, I give you the transcript of a phone message from SM:

"LISTEN! I think you should have to pay some sort of child support. Here's why:
First of all, today at "Music Together" class, one of the others kids had a blanket and A. obsessed. Instead of dancing around with everybody ... she just obsessed about making it all perfectly flat on the floor, perfectly straight, with all the wrinkles out of it.

Then when she went to bed, I was reading her a story and some of the kids in it were taking a nap, and she pointed out who was sleeping under a wrinkled blanket and who was sleeping under a non-wrinkled blanket."

3) Out of nowhere, Chebs is afraid to fly.
Sez SM:
"I have determined it is your responsibility to go with us on our road trip up to Oregon because it's your fault that my child is so afraid of flying -- out of nowhere. Why is she suddenly afraid of flying? I know! Because she's YOURS!"
The funny thing is, SM's newly born daughter entered the world with a full head of black hair --just like me (my older siblings used to tell me I was a Korean War refugee). I predict a lot more neuroses will surface ...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thought Medley (Sorry, Trying to Get Rid of the Leftovers in My Mind Before Cooking Something New)

It's only Saturday night and this weekend already has been fun, fun, fun.

* I painted the town fuschia with niece Katie and her friend Kurt last night. She was born the summer before my senior year in high school. That feels like yesterday, and yet, now I'm partying with her in North Beach! She is the most delightful girl, a nanny in New Canaan, Ct. My sis done good. After dinner at Figaro, we hopped to Specs with some of my friends and her very cool companion, Kurt, then ended up in the middle of a lively police situation (as spectators, silly!), before I put them up in a nearby hotel. I, myself, conked out at my friend's pad in North Beach (he who dubbed me Stella Haven!) and had a pretty freaking amazing breakfast with a bunch of denizens of Caffe Trieste at Mo's. Then I picked up the Portable Dorothy Parker at City Lights bookstore. Sweet. Meanwhile, Katie and Kurt ambled down to Santa Cruz to dance on the beach.

* The temperature was in the 80s today. I ran for an hour on "my" beach (which was crowded with too many muggles for my taste), then washed my car and took a nap. Ahhh. Now, I'm waiting on a pizza!

* I admit it, I'm addicted to Facebook. But now, I also have fallen prey to Where I have set up a profile page for one of my cats (Stosh will get his, don't worry). And guess what? Vesper's already been FRIENDED. What's up with that?

All right, gotta run, pizza's here!


Monday, April 07, 2008

Melange a Trois

I hesitate to publish a mere thought medley post as opposed to a truly thoughtful post, since good friend V.L. (she of the interesting earwax) told me that she doesn't think my blog is as good as it used to be (I accepted this as constructive criticism. And then trout-slapped her on Facebook). But always being the ornery one (maybe that cop thing wasn't a good idea after all), I'm gonna!

* My cat Stosh's head tips to the left, so that he's always looking quizzical. So much so, in fact, that the cat rescue named him "Tippy." He also has a funny meow that sound more like "Ayow." Add to that the fact that he does not like to be picked up, and gets antsy when I move to pet him with two hands, not just one, and I have come to the theory that he was injured by someone clenching his throat in their hands. How lovely is it, then, that he actually seeks out my hands, to rub him on his snout. (Just one hand, though. Two, and he knows he can't escape, might even be picked up.) I love that he trusts, and even is drawn to, the objects that may have caused him harm in a previous life.

* After running for an hour on the beach this a.m., I went to Louis' for some French toast, scrambled eggs and a vanilla malted milkshake. And I swear I wasn't imagining this -- the very cute cook, who is quite YOUNG and is a cross between James Dean and Willem Dafoe, was flirting with me! Could I possibly be a cougar?

* I woke up this morning at 8:37, which is my favorite time in the world because 837 is my favorite number in the world, because 837 Lehigh was the address of my childhood home. I have the number plate from my dad's house on the inside of my front door, and I look at it when I'm stretching in the morning to run.

That's all, folks. Sorry, V.L.!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Has Anyone Seen My Life?

The other day I wore to work a motorcycle jacket I bought the evening of Nov. 24, 1988, the day before Thanksgiving, from Wilson's Leather store in Christiana Mall, for $248 (I have a weird memory). After work, I stopped at Safeway and, before getting out of the car, slid my BlackBerry into the inside pocket.

As I did so, it struck me: I was placing a smart phone in a pocket that was created when cell phones and the Internet didn't exist, at least among the common population.

It got me thinking back to that year, when I was a junior at the University of Delaware studying English literature and journalism and working as an intern at the Wilmington News Journal. I was living with V.L., the earwax artist, in Southgate Aparments, and having one hell of a time.

Imagine being a reporter before the age of faxes and cell phones and the Web. Yeah, we actually had to go get documents, call information, knock on doors, track people down.

In 1988, I had a Radio Shack Tandy that had no hard drive; I inserted a floppy disk to install a word-processing program every time I used it. It was connected to a daisy wheel printer that never worked quite right.

Our phones had cords; CDs were new, and mostly we listened to cassette tapes.

And I had dreams.

I was to be a magazine editor in New York, with a red convertible '67 Mustang.

Previously, in my adolescence, I had aspired to be (in no particular order) a go-go girl (I didn't know what it meant, but saw the sign on the way to visit my aunt in the city); a nun; a spelunker (before I realized I was claustrophobic); a jet pilot (before I realized I was afraid to fly); a cop; a firefighter; a cosmetologist; a best-selling author; and a stay-at-home mom with lots of kids.

In high school, I realized I could write. And I realized that the only sure way to make money at writing would be to become a journalist.

So I did.

But now, I can't help wondering where the life I dreamed of went.

My close friend Shaken Mama and I have an inside joke where one of us will say, "I thought it was different!" And the other will say, "No, it's just like this."

I recall a wonderful piece that was published -- I thought it was the NYT but now I can't find it -- by a woman who married a man who developed a brain tumor and died. I read it about the time SM and I were deciding whether I should accept Mark's offer and move to California and get married. This author said she didn't think she would ever get married, and she felt like her alter-ego, the woman who didn't get married, was the persona stuffed into her back pocket.

I have often felt that way: There's me, and then there's where I thought Me would go.

I thought it was different.

But no, it's just like this.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thank God I Didn't Do My Laundry

So, I've been back running (saw a coyote this morning! How cool a city is this?) and feeling fit and trim and so today wore a flowy, short little number, that number being a dress.

I had just returned without incident from lunch and was about to enter the building. I reached out to open the door and an opportunistic gust of wind lifted my skirt to the heavens.

That's right, lunchtime at Fifth and Mission. Total Marilyn Monroe. What could I do? I laughed.

Two reporters were coming in behind me (emphasis on "behind"), and we had quite a chuckle. The male reporter lamented that it was all too quick to catch on his camera phone.

Thank god I didn't do laundry last night, or I would have been wearing one of my new thongs!

Sometimes it pays to be lazy.