Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Through the morning haze I could see the sun. I stared at it for a long time through the clouds, a white disc, almost like a full moon against the trees. Eventually the filtered light made me look away. A pink and purple remainder followed my gaze around the neighborhood. When I looked back, the sun had disappeared.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm Alive

Sigh… Don’t you just love it when life takes over everything? I’ll be back when my head’s a little clearer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Other Words: Reveal Your Belly

I’d like to hand it to Underware, purveyor of fonts, for jazzing up the font purchasing experience. Also, a towel.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Mind’s on Random: Thoughts Pinging through My Poor Brain (UPDATED)

I have to pay my parking ticket or my registration’s going to be revoked. I think of this almost every day, and still I don’t seem to do it.
I have something in common with Barack Obama. Turns out when he was a student at Harvard, he lived in Somerville and had a number of unpaid parking tickets. He just paid his, and I just paid mine.

Yesterday I started crying when I got ready for work. I really didn’t want to go.
I’m taking Prudence’s advice and taking a couple of days off.

Today is David Hasselhoff’s birthday. KIT got him a Speedo. Also, a ticket to Japan.
Today is not David Hasselhoff’s birthday. It is a better day.

I looked up my birthday on IMDb too. I share a birthday with one Ugo Bologna.
I also share a birthday with Kristy McNichol. Ain't I cool?

“My Favourite Book” is my favorite song on In Our Bedroom after the War, the latest release from Stars. I feel a bit guilty about downloading it from iTunes months before it’s available on CD. It doesn’t give retailers much of a chance in this ever-shrinking music business. What will this world come to, I wonder.
B***** in Tokyo is another beauty. I got a snazzy speaker set up for my iPod, so now my downloaded music is no longer confined to little ear buds.

Why did I take so long to pick up The Wind Up Bird Chronicle? Talk about addictive reading.
What is going on with this guy? He’s having psychic sex and hanging out in the bottom of a well with a portal to a hotel? I want whatever drugs he’s taking.

I finally went to an IKEA store. It was completely overwhelming. I’ve never seen so many shovey people jockeying for Swedish meatballs in my life.
The flies on the wall were laughing their arses off watching me attempt to assemble my clothes rack. I felt like a high school boy—If I just shove it a little harder, this thing will get in there!

There’s a ton of my useless crap in my future roommate’s room, and I have to get it out of the room by Friday. Ordinarily I wouldn’t balk at such a task, but since the last time I schlepped stuff up and down stairs, I couldn’t walk for a month, I’m not eager to try it again.
It’s out of her room and all over the apartment. Hence, the days off.

I’m sick of being an adult. I want summer vacation.
Unchanged. Will probably remain unchanged for the rest of my life.

Fifteen more minutes, and I get to go home.

Sigh… More than that.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Ah, Summer. Hours, minutes, drift by, and it seems as though we have all the time in the world. I’m rather surprised to discover that Friday is already upon us.

It is, I guess, and so here are the Sassy Sundries, my weekly tally of things political, personal, and nonsensical:

About a quarter-mile up the street from me, people wake up to find a dead body wrapped in a sheet. Police have revealed few details. Freaky. Minus Three

Summer weather. The really hot stuff didn’t last that long, but it’s still been lovely. Plus Two

Sometimes I find myself envying W’s rose-colored glasses. If he has not had someone enchant them for him, I want the address of the company that makes them. How else can he stand up and say that the damning progress report on his surge means that things are looking up? It’s got to be the glasses. I don’t think Congress has the wherewithal to rip them off him, but the House did pass a bill calling for troops to be out of Iraq by April 2008. Minus Five

Speaking of envy, I want me some executive privilege (actually, what I’d really like is some vice presidential privilege—that’s some amazing stuff). I want to be able to defy Congress, break the law (not backing up official e-mails), and get away with it. Bush tells former White House aide Sara Taylor not to testify, and Harriet Miers doesn’t even show up. Congress might hold Miers in contempt, but they don’t seem to have the follow-through to stop the White House. Minus Five

I had a number of adventures this week, with friends and alone. I’m really enjoying this whole urban experiment. Plus Ten

Oh. I have a new roommate. She’s a friend of mine, and she’ll be moving in at the end of the month. I’m a little nervous about living with someone again after so many years on my own, but mostly I’m excited. I think it will be fun. Plus Five

Testimony from the former US Surgeon General reveals the extent of White House tampering with scientific judgment for political purposes. Ted Kennedy introduces a bill to make the position more independent. The new nominee once wrote a paper calling male homosexuality a pathology and unnatural. He might toe the line a bit more. This whole country is going down the tubes. Minus Five

Lady Bird Johnson died. Her husband’s disastrous involvement in Vietnam has all but obscured his domestic achievements (Voting Rights Act, anyone?), but I’d like to say that I admire her stance against segregation and her work to get the country to give a hoot and not pollute. Even

Total Plus: 17
Total Minus: 18


Last Week’s Total: +6

UPDATE: I knew I should have done this later. Two Buck Chuck, the crappy Chardonnay available at Trader Joe's won a prize for best California Chardonnay. Wine snobs everywhere are groaning. I think the week is now in positive territory, don't you?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dinner Theater

On my way home from work yesterday evening, I decided to go out to dinner. Nothing I could think of to cook sounded all that exciting to me, and I felt up for little exploring. I began to mull over my options.

Chinatown? I thought and quickly dismissed it. I’ve hung out there quite a bit, sampling a lot of the Vietnamese offerings there (as a vegetarian, Chinese food can be a little tricky—if you want a laugh, check out Andraste’s cautionary tale).

Oh, I could try a new Thai place and check out a different part of the city. That sounded tempting, and I decided that’s what I would do as I turned the corner onto Broadway and toward home. That was when I saw Fasika’s Ethiopian Restaurant again. I have not had a lot of Ethiopian food, but what I’ve had I’ve loved. Oh god, it is tasty stuff. When I noticed Fasika’s during my move, I was so excited. That was before I peeked inside.

East Somerville has loads of character, and some wonderful eating options (Taco Loco makes some kickass burritos, and the restaurant in the back of Vinny’s Superette is amazing). It also features a slew of dive bars—the kind that have drunk people outside smoking at ten in the morning, staring at their losing Keno tickets. Fasika’s Ethiopian Restaurant is attached to one such bar.

When I first got here, I had decided to try Fasika’s but turned around and walked out when I saw all the drunk people and the Keno sign. Last night, however, I felt adventurous enough to brave it. Why the hell not? I thought. So I went.

I walked into the restaurant side, checked out the tacky décor, and smiled. A young Ethiopian woman smiled at me and told me to sit where I’d like. I sat at one of the mesobs, and she handed me a menu. A divider partially blocked the view of the bar, where a number of late-middle-aged white people were knocking back Budweiser drafts and providing loud commentary on the evening news. Over the divider, I could see the bartender, sporting a teased, bleach-blonde do, serving her patrons without once changing her facial expression.

I turned to the menu, which had a vegetarian section with lots of tempting options. A lentil dish and a vegetable curry caught my eye, and I decided to ask the server what she recommended. The menu also listed a number of Ethiopian wines, and so I decided to try one of those. When she came to take my order, she recommended the curry but promised to include a bit of the lentil dish for me to try. She suggested the honey wine for the food, so I went with that.

My wine arrived in a little bottle resembling an oil cruet (but without the spout), and the server explained that this was the traditional glass (I don’t think I’d had wine the few times I’d had Ethiopian food). “Great,” I said, and took a sip. The wine tasted different from the mead I’d had before but was no less delicious. I had just settled in with my glass when a song blared out of the juke box in the bar. It was some classic rock song I didn’t recognize (and considering that I grew up in New Hampshire, land of classic rock lovers, that is saying something). The fat guy who played it certainly did. The bar was suddenly transformed into his living room, and he started singing at the top of his lungs.

Then he started banging on the bar for emphasis.

Now I’ve seen this kind of thing before (and, have probably done something similar in my youth), but I’ve never seen so many people take it in stride. There was this guy, shouting to the music and banging on the bar, and nobody reacted. They just kicked back their beers and continued to watch the TV.

The song ended and my food arrived. I tore off some of the bread and dove into the curry. Yeah, that’s some really good food. True to her word, the server had made sure that there were some lentils on my plate, and I sopped some up with more bread. She was right—the curry was better, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed in the lentils. I ate happily, enjoying my adventure.

About half-way through my meal, a group of four white yuppies peeked in the restaurant side, observed the bar scene, and boldly decided to try it too. They sat down at the mesob next to me, and laughed at their intrepidness. The server brought them menus, and they started going over their options.

“I told you,” one of the women said, “This place is attached to a divey bar, but I keep hearing that the food is good.” The other woman turned to look at me eating, and I said to her, “The food IS really good.”

“What an atmosphere,” one of the men said, laughing.

“Oh, you missed the drunken singing.”

“No! Maybe it’ll happen again.”

“One can only hope,” I replied laughing.

The couples ordered as I finished my dinner. I had a little of the wine left, so I sipped it while I waited for the check.

And that was when the Bon Jovi came on. The guy started up again, screaming and banging about being wanted dead or alive. Howling, the couples stood up for a better view. I did, too. Once again, the bar patrons didn’t bat an eye.

“Dinner theater,” one of the men proclaimed, nodding.

“You can say that again,” I said. Another Bon Jovi hit came on, and the guy kept going.

“Did you like Bon Jovi?” One of the women asked me.

“Oh, for about two weeks in seventh grade,” I replied.

She sighed. “I liked them for longer than that. I had a poster.”

The check came, I paid up, and, bidding goodbye to the giggling yuppies, left for home.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Yesterday afternoon found me sitting in a window seat at the North End’s Caffé Graffiti, enjoying a Campari and soda after a day of wandering about in the sultry heat. I was casually reading my book on Buddhism in America, but mostly I just stared out the window at the people walking by. My “artist” friend was out on the street, and he stared at me like he knew me for a bit before he rode off on his bicycle. Oh well. He wouldn’t have approved of my choice of reading material anyway.

Although I had dressed for the weather in a tank top and loose skirt, the muggy afternoon did its sweaty work. My skirt clung to my legs. Other caffé patrons fanned themselves, and people walked around outside dazed by the sun stupids. Ah, I thought, sipping my drink, Summer.

Summer comes to me in moments, moments where my present fuses with all of those Summer moments of the past. It’s a lazy and shocking realization, if that makes sense.

My most powerful Summer moment, and the one that I was suddenly in, happened in time six or seven years ago while swimming in a lake in New Hampshire.

After a night out at a Portsmouth bar, listening to a band and dancing, my friends and I had driven out in my best friend’s convertible to friends’ place—an old summer camp transformed into a sort-of commune—to go skinny dipping at the lake. We often wound up there on hot summer nights.

Among the usual group, we had a guy with us, a guy my best friend had a crush on. He’d asked me to dance with him at the bar, and I had, thinking that he would dance with all the women. He hadn’t; I think I was the only one he’d asked. Although he was originally from the area, he lived in Chile most of the year, leading mountaineering groups in the Andes. This exotic adventurous spirit combined with his intense brown eyes made us all a little bit in love with him, but friendship is friendship, and my friend had met him first. The rest of us just joked with him in the car and smiled knowingly at our friend.

Heart’s Dreamboat Annie blared in her car stereo, and we sang along badly at the top of our lungs into the hot late-July night on the half-hour drive out to the lake. Upon arrival, we piled out of the car and tromped loudly down to the beach where we proceeded to strip. Most of us did this matter-of-factly (skinny dipping was nothing in this group), but my best friend had been a little shy, and that was when I remembered the guy with us. I mischievously wondered if something would happen with him and my friend.

Laughing, we all ran and dove into the water. That summer had been hot, and, even at night, the lake was just barely cooler than the air. I dove under the water and came up to see a fire cracker explode in the moonlit sky from a camp across the lake. Grinning, I swam out toward the middle of the small lake as another one went off. About fifty yards from shore, I stopped swimming and turned on my back, looking out toward the opposite shore and letting my feet rise above the surface. I could hear my friends, splashing and laughing near the beach, but around me, everything was still.

I heard someone coming, and I turned around to see the guy. I stayed where I was, treading water. He swam toward me until he was a foot or so away and stopped. “Hi,” he said.

“Hey,” I answered. He was staring at me, smiling.

I stared back.

We stayed like that, treading water and staring at each other, and in that moment, it was Summer. We had always been like that, swimming close together and naked on a hot summer night, and we always would be. Neither of us spoke and we made no move to touch each other. We just smiled and stared at each other, both of us experiencing Summer.

My best friend called out, trying to locate everyone. I remembered her crush, and looking away from the guy, I started swimming toward shore.

I didn’t see him again that summer or the next one when he was home. Later on, I heard that he’d moved back to the States and had gotten married. And now he’s dead. He’d been living out West and had hurdled to the Earth in a hang-gliding accident. My friend e-mailed me to tell me the news. She’d asked me if I remembered him, that guy she’d had a little thing for a few years back. I replied that yes, I remembered him. I didn’t tell her that part of me is sharing Summer with him, swimming naked in a lake on a hot July night.

Just as quickly as I was in that moment, Summer passed. A marching band started playing on the next block, and a crowd of people carrying at statue of the Virgin Mary stopped by each restaurant and caffé, demanding money. People clapped, showered the Madonna with cash, and had a fine old time. Just as they passed Caffé Graffiti, the wind picked up and the sky darkened. In another instant, rain began to fall. I finished my drink and walked out into the street, breathing in the metallic rain.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Phew! That was a week. Well, it’s time to return to the Sassy Sundries, my on-again, off-again weekly tally of events personal, political, and nonsensical. It’s a stolen idea, and I’d point you to the Dig’s web site, but they are going all Office Space on it right now. One hopes that the new incarnation will load faster and bear no resemblance to their ghastly new glossy covers.

Without further ado, here are the week’s Sassy Sundries:

WTF!!?? W, who as governor of Texas wouldn’t commute the death sentence of a man whose public defender SLEPT through his trial, and who supported the execution of the mentally retarded, and in some cases, the innocent (exculpatory evidence be damned!) thinks that a few years in the clink for a guy who lied about a matter of, I don’t know, national security, is too much? I wish that the brazenness of this Administration still shocked me, but it doesn’t. Minus Five

It’s W’s birthday today—an insult to good Cancer folk everywhere. The New Yorker has several
illustrations for your enjoyment. I remember hearing somewhere that Morrissey sends the Queen dead vegetables on her birthday. Perhaps we need a similar tradition here. In any event, I’d like to wish W a very unhappy birthday. Minus Two

Anyone who has been reading this bloggy thing knows that my personal life has been one big, scary rollercoaster of late. I’m hanging on. You all have my gratitude for your support. Even for situation/Plus Ten for friendship

It looks like Rupert Murdoch will get his hands on the Wall Street Journal. The paper’s conservative editorial page is about to go fascist. Aren’t free-market conservatives supposed to resist monopolies? Here’s to hoping that something will intervene to stop the deal. Minus Four

BBC reporter Alan Johnson freed. World rejoices. Plus Five

It’s been twenty years since the Beastie Boys released License to Ill. I don’t think I can stay awake until Brooklyn anymore. But I’m still crafty. Even

OK, this is overdue, but the Roberts Court ended its disastrous first term, overturning precedent after precedent with Orwellian glee (racial integration is racist!). W has a legacy after all. Help us. Minus Five

Attempted suicide bombings in the UK set everyone on edge. Minus Five

Fourth of July a bit of a snoozeroo with the miserable weather and all. The big excitement came from being able to watch the Boston fireworks in bed. Plus Two

Thought I lost my all-time favorite travel mug. I found it sitting on the kitchen table and laughing at me. Not having to give up my attachment fills me with relief, but I have much to think about with new mantras from blog pals. Plus Ten

Total Plus: 27
Total Minus: 21

Last Time’s Total: + 18

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Zen and the Art of Letting Go of Travel Mugs

UPDATE: Oh hurrah! Oh joy! I found my mug! Phew. I really wasn't feeling all that Zen.

Rainy, sticky, bleak sadness—today feels just like a Monday (sorry, Dive, not all of us carry a Freak Flag for Mondays). Even worse, because I’m convinced that I lost my favorite travel mug to stupidity. Part of me holds out hope that I just left my mug on the kitchen table, but deep down I’m certain that I left my faithful friend on the roof of my car and drove off without it. My efforts to be Zen about this and realize that attachment to material possessions leads to suffering have me rolling my eyes at myself. Gimme my damn mug back, Universe!

If I have indeed lost my dear mug, it will be the end of an era for me. In my rant about Starbucks (see earlier link), I shared that my travel mug came from Coffee Connection, the late, mourned Boston coffee roaster taken over by Starbucks in the early 90s. I’d never really held onto a travel mug before, but I kept that one as a symbol of my resolve to resist the McDonaldization of coffee. Until coffee permeated its plastic pores, I used the mug for everything from coffee to booze to water to life itself. That mug was my appendage as a graduate student—people rarely saw me without it. Even my
inspirational Nietzsche mug failed to displace its prominence in my life. That mug traveled with me to Montana and came home with me again. I’ve taken the mug to rock shows, anti-globalization rallies, and peace vigils. It made the transition from backpack to brief case, allowing me to start my work morning with something other than bland, flavorless, inorganic colored water. Although Fluff has accompanied me on my exotic travels, my travel mug has been my faithful friend through the drudgery of day-to-day life.

Over the years, the Coffee Connection logo faded from washing, and the handle for the lid chipped off. The lid has scratch marks galore, and I prefer to ignore those studies about the linings of travel mugs as terrariums for unknown life forms. Ugly as it became, my mug is my friend. Its heft and feel are as familiar to me as my own hand. And so although I know that I shouldn’t form attachments to material things, I have a very strong attachment to my travel mug. I want it back. I want to go home and find it sitting on my kitchen table, laughing at me. Or, at least find it, unharmed, close to where I parked my car. Alas, I fear I may have to accept that I finally lost it, find a new mug, and start a new chapter.

Anyone know any good mantras?

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Talk

At long last, McI and I had our overdue conversation. It went much better than I had expected. Things came to a head on Friday, when he didn’t bother to contact me to cancel tentative plans. He’d never done that before, and so I sent him a text telling him that we needed to talk (meaning whatever it is people who aren’t a couple do to “break up”).

I heard back from him, with an apology, saying that he needed to go hide and that he understood that the writing was on the wall. We wound up texting into the wee hours of the morning about where and when we’d meet and settled on the Charles St. T Saturday morning. I got about two hours of sleep, and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes (I know, I know, but given my self-destructive tendencies when I’m hurt, my choices were getting hammered or smoking, and I chose having a clearer head).

Throughout the night, I tried to figure out what I might say. I settled on being honest, and telling him how I felt and what I wanted—and what I didn’t want. I’ve never really done that before, and I was going to regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t tell him. As best as I could, I prepared myself for hearing the likely truth that we didn’t want the same things. I resolved to remain calm, not to cry, and not to attack. I wasn’t going to be Little Sassy Schmoozer, but I was going to employ some of her communication skills. The Little One sets people at ease, and allows for people to respond calmly (and honestly), not defensively. I needed her.

That morning before we met was one of the longer mornings of my life. How do you really prepare yourself to say goodbye to someone you love and want to be with? How do you prepare to do it without reading rejection as a reflection on you and your worth? Although I have learned to value myself on my own, I think perhaps that meeting with McArtsyPants couldn’t have been more timely. Someone who’d dated me and treated me less-than well had just expressed regret that he hadn’t recognized what he’d had when he had it. That gave me some external strength, and I needed it.

I walked to the T a little early, preparing myself along the way. I looked at my watch and told myself that it would all be over in an hour. I just needed to get through this hour. I hadn’t really talked to myself like that since I took my Master’s exam. Like the exam, it would be OK. I’d live, even if I didn’t “pass” this one (I passed my exam with flying colors, even though I was convinced I’d flunk).

The train arrived and deposited me at Downtown Crossing. Just as I’d sat down to wait for the Red Line, in walked McI. We laughed at our punctuality, and he sat beside me. “Come here often?” I joked. We had an easy chat, interrupted at times by uncomfortable silences. We got on the train, and I learned why he had wanted to hide. His life isn’t for broadcast on this blog, but I will say that I would have run home to hide myself. But that doesn’t make it OK.

We got off at Charles St. and walked to the Esplanade. I’d thought that it would make a good spot to chat. Pretty, public enough to discourage a scene, and with plenty of exits. We chatted as we walked along before sitting down on a bench. I took a deep breath and started.

“I really like you, McI,” I said (OK, I didn’t say “love,” but Little Sassy Schmoozer knows how not to freak people out). “I’d really like to keep dating you. But I can’t have you blowing me off, even for good reasons, and I don’t like the way I’ve often wondered if you’d just disappeared. You’ve always had good reasons for doing this kind of stuff, which is why I’ve been understanding, but I can’t do it anymore. It hurts. I need to know if you still want to know me.”

“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry,” and he proceeded to tell me how he felt. We’re not in the same place, but he doesn’t want me out of his life. I learned a little more about why he’s been hesitant about getting more involved with me—things that have nothing to do with me. Things that in time could be resolved (like I said, his life isn’t for broadcast, so although this part of the story is incomplete, you’ll have to trust me that it wasn’t hopeless). I asked him if he thought that he could be better about communicating with me.

“Definitely,” he said without hesitation.

We talked some more, and we left it that we’d work on getting to know each other better. We agreed that there’s something there with us that would be sad to lose. It was really nice to hear that he likes me, and not matter what happens to with us romantically, he’d hate to lose my friendship. That might sound strange, but I’ve often struggled with feelings that I’m not worth knowing and that guys only want me for sex. That’s not to say that we didn’t talk about that—we laughed when we talked about how good other aspects of our relationship are. In general the conversation was calm, honest, and kind. The setting provided ample opportunity for diversions when things got a bit uncomfortable.

For now we’re both free to date other people. I know this sounds weird, but that’s fine with me. He’s a busy guy, and I’ve wanted a little more company. I like knowing that I can have some without feeling like I’m sneaking around. He also knows that I’m not going to wait forever and that I’m going to live my life. We’ll see what happens, but things are no longer on his terms exclusively.

“Well,” I sighed. “THAT was somewhat unpleasant. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I know you weren’t looking forward to this conversation.”

“Yeah, I know. These things are never fun, but we needed to do it, and I’m glad you said something.”

All in all, we talked for about an hour, and then we parted company with a hug. “I’ll be in touch, and I won’t disappear,” he said, smiling. He went his way, and I went to the North End for a coffee.

I’m proud of myself. I was able to say what I wanted and to express what I didn’t want honestly and in a way that didn’t put him on the defensive. I found out where we stand, and I realized that things weren’t as dark as I’d thought. He agreed to communicate with me more, and ultimately, this was what I really wanted. And the thing is, even if he doesn’t follow through with that, and even if things don’t (and there’s every possibility that they won’t) work out with us, it won’t be because I didn’t say anything. I don’t have to live with that regret.

This concludes the blogging I’m doing about my dating life for a while. Things are fucked up enough in this world these days that a good ol’ political rant is in order soon.