So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend


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American Cemetery, Normandy

To these we owe the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live.

Omaha Beach

Picnic

I went to Wolf Trap last night with all these people

And I learned something rather interesting. You can't get a lid for your drink there because it is a national park. But you can buy wine.

It was a beautiful night under the stars with the hubby and a very persitent cicada.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Earlier this morning I emailed an old friend, Mark. We have been out of touch for 12 years, but the internet is a strange and wonderful thing so finding his email address took less than a minute. He is working on his doctoral dissertation out west.

Mark and I met at a camp we both attended during our formative years. I went every year from the time I was 8 or 9 until I was 15. I don't remember exactly, but I think Mark was there most of the years that I was.

We lived close to each other and occasionally saw each other outside of camp, but not often. Mostly we saw each other for a week or two in the summer and wrote letters back and forth during the year. Mark's letters always came on pale blue writing paper with matching envelopes and were written in a tiny and very precise script. I still have all of his letters in a box somewhere. I come across them occasionally and intend to sit down and read through them, but I never have. He was a dear and cherished friend to me, and I am deeply sorry that we have drifted so far apart.

Mark was a very kind, incredibly bright and wickedly funny teenager. He loved Monty Python - I mean he was a fanatic, could recite entire movies from memory. He was one of those kids who have such a unique and powerful mind that they never quite fit into the mainstream of life but Mark, who I believe realized that, never seemed to care. When I saw that Mark was working on his dissertation (on a highly intellectual and fairly arcane topic) I thought "well yes, of course." He is just where I would expect him to be.

I wonder if he will write me back. I wonder if he will be surprised by where I am. I wonder whether he and I can be friends again, or whether the intervening years will have left us with nothing in common. I wonder whether he can ever be a man I know, or only always the boy I knew.

Day of the Locusts

Where I live, we have recently been overrun with the infamous Brood X cicadas. Cicadas make a very loud sound to attract other cicadas for hot cicada lovin'. It basically sounds like a cricket on speed with a megaphone. When all the cicadas get together and sing their song (which they do all the time) it makes a sort of diffuse, high-pitched drone which sounds exactly like the flying saucer sound effect from a 50's sci-fi movie. I keep expecting to round the corner and find a big shiny robot made of tinfoil or an alien wearing goggles and flippers who will demand to be taken to my leader or turn me into a pod.

New Rule

Ok people, new rule. If you initiate a conversation with someone in the gym locker room, you are required to keep your pants on until the conversation is finished.

Oh, just bite me already

From Brian comes the world's perfect woman. Now, don't everyone call her at once, hear?

Beggars

Lately, I have noticed an increase in the number of groups of children who set up outside grocery stores and ask for donations to support their baseball team or cheerleading team or cub scout pack. I thing this is odd, since I was involved in a lot of activities as a kid and never went out to beg. We always sold cookies or candy or magazine subscriptions. Maybe people would rather just give money than buy things they don't want. I wouldn't mind so much if these were kids who didn't have a lot of resources, but I live in an affluent area and I suspect that most of these kids live in one of the many McMansions around here.

This afternoon, three girls of about ten knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to give them money to build a computer lab at their private school. Um, no. See, I help pay for computer labs in the public schools, and if your parents want to send you to private school I think the computer lab there is their responsibility, not mine. And they can pay for your cheerleading skirts themselves too while they are at it.

Afternoon Arias

The best part about working from home is being able to play music as loud as you want to and sing along at the top of your lungs even when you don't know all the words and can't hit all the notes.

At the moment, I am singing Joni Mitchell's "River" over and over again trying to get it out of my system before my husband gets home.

Life's a Beach

I spent most of the last 4 days here:

And just in case you were wondering, here is the bookstore we want to buy:

Type this address into your internet

So, I am on a training call this afternoon which has a netconference portion. About 30 minutes into the training, it became evident that one of the trainees was not on the netconference. The conversation went like this:

Trainer: Are you on the internet?
Clueless Trainee: Well, I've got the internet up.
Trainer: But are you on the internet part of the call?
Clueless Trainee: I have the training guide printed out.
Trainer: Ok, type this address into your internet.
Clueless Trainee: How do I do that? Is it in my favorites?

Now ladies, considering that we all work for the same behemoth ISP, don't you think you ought to take the trouble to learn a little bit of the lingo? (Quick, pop quiz. Define ISP!) Otherwise all of the cool IP kids around here have no choice but to mock you and maybe go get a few beers and then t.p. your house.

Tiny World

When I was about 6 I was in a baton twirling group. (Shut-up, I live in the South and was too young to know any better.) We marched in parades and had weekly competitions in our hot pink leotards or lavender sweat suits. For the most part, it was lots of fun. We always won big trophies and every week one girl got to keep the trophy (I still have mine.) Some people were way too into the baton thing though. I have a vivid memory of being in a parade and having the head baton twirling lady come up to me, grab my arm and say "If you don't get off her ass I am going to crack your head open." Yes, those were her exact words forever burned into my psyche at the tender age of 6. Apparently I was walking and twirling a little too close to the girl ahead of me in line. I was probably too busy watching the crowd to watch where I was going - I always got bored in the parades.

At the Saturday competitions, they had modeling after the baton twirling. A lot of the girls in my group would finish twirling, change into their big fancy dresses, tease their bangs and do the modeling bit. In fact, I had a friend, J, in the group and we were about the only girls who were not in the modeling part. (This is the same friend who met her husband at my wedding, but that's another story.) My parents and J's parents used to sit in the stands and watch the parents of the modeling girls with amazement and disbelief. After one year of twirling, my parents and J's parents refused to let us to participate again. I think they signed us up for soccer instead. I wasn't too upset about quitting twirling, but I never really understood why my parents wanted me to stop.

Then last night, I saw this.

Thanks Mom and Dad - you were so right.

Gajillionaire

When we become fabulously filthy rich, the hubby and I are going to quit our jobs, move to the Outer Banks and open a bookstore. We will have a little house right behind the dunes and far too many cats. We will have crab cakes at Blue Point at least once a week. We will walk along the beach every morning and along the sound every night. We will have our own personal helicopter so we can avoid the summer traffic. We will never ever for any reason see any of the wild horses. (God I hate horses.) There will be no spiders. (Hubby has no love for the spiders.)

We leave Thursday morning to start scouting locations for the shop. Now, where do I get a gajillion dollars?

Important things I have learned this week

Orange juice and protein powder smoothies taste like ass.

People who attended and/or work at the University of Virginia are snobs. Point one; they refer to the UVA campus as "The Grounds." Point two; they refer to UVA as "The University." Seriously, they have bumper stickers. Point three; they refer to Thomas Jefferson as "Mr. Jefferson" in casual conversation. Point four; they credit Mr. Jefferson with inventing everything from education to the internet. Al Gore is gonna be pissed when he hears that.

If you are going to speak at a commencement ceremony for UVA, you need to get together with the other speakers and decide who gets to talk about The Epitaph. Otherwise, you all stand around and talk about death for an hour and the graduates do not find that inspiring.

If you break your 9 year old daughter's glasses by slapping them off of her face, you should not take your daughter to the optometrist with you to get the glasses fixed or she will announce to the entire waiting room how the glasses came to be broken.

If you ignore the above and your 9 year old daughter announces to a crowd of strangers that you broke her glasses by slapping them off of her face you should at least pretend to have a little shame.

Drinking one glass of wine is nothing but an evil and heartbreaking tease.

You should not have conversations hours after you are generally asleep. If you do, you may wind up telling your husband a long story about how you have super powers to make it be Friday that you bought at a yard sale as a child but that they only work on Fridays and anyway they are at the cleaners. You may also tell your husband about other yard sale finds such as the Elvis record or the ceramic owl candle holder.

Realizing that you have a cat old enough to be going to college if that cat were a child does not mean that you should go ahead and have a baby because hey, if it was that easy with the cat the kid can't be that much harder.

Sometimes at work, Bite Me is not appropriate for use in conversation. Also, Eat Me. This severely limits my ability to communicate. At least I still have Fuckwad.

Silent Lucidity

One night last fall, I walked with my family into the square in front of Notre Dame in Paris. Sitting in front of the cathedral was a man playing an acoustic, 12 string guitar. We listened for a while, trying to identify the composition he was playing, clearly classical, possibly Bach. It was Silent Lucidity.

That was the same night that I climbed to the top of the bell tower of Notre Dame. The narrow stairs and narrower walkways were crowded with tourists. My husband went with me to the first level, but I went alone to the top. You can walk the square perimeter of the tower and about halfway around I found myself alone. It was just me and the gargoyles and those amazing buttresses leaping and flying below me. And faintly from somewhere in the darkness there was music. It was too late for mass, there was no choir, and for just a moment I thought perhaps it was the buttresses that were singing. I wondered whether those stone arms that were so responsible for the glory of that cathedral had their own song that you could only hear from the top of the tower with the other stone demons.

But it was the guitarist, and Silent Lucidity. I was 110 feet above the square on a windy night with the mass of the bell tower between me and the music. I should not have heard that song from there, but I did. Surely the tower somehow caught and amplified the melody and there is a logical and scientifically sound explanation, but I prefer to think that the flying buttresses were singing along.

Baba

My grandmother, Alice, passed away a year ago today.

Alice was born to immigrant parents in the Bronx in 1922. Her father wandered off shortly after she was born and her mother was not able to care for her alone. Alice was placed in a foster home and there found loving parents and two sisters. She stayed with her foster parents until she married, and they finally adopted her when she turned 21. Alice's natural mother had refused permission for the adoption for 20 years because her foster parents were Catholic and her natural parents were Jewish.

Alice enrolled in nursing school because she couldn't type. (Her only other choice was secretarial school.) She graduated and married a man who she soon discovered she did not care for very much. To get away from her husband, she volunteered to join the Army and was shipped out to Italy. This was during World War II. Alice was a veteran.

She worked in an army hospital in Italy caring for sick and injured soldiers. One night in the officers club she met a tall and handsome 2nd Lieutenant. He asked her to go dancing the next night. When her 6'2" date arrived to pick her up, he looked down at 5'0" Alice and said "I thought you were taller." Apparently he decided it didn't matter as that date was the beginning of a great romance and that soldier was my grandfather, Martin. Martin was a veterinarian who joined the Army because it was the only way he could receive his veterinary degree - his university would not issue diplomas to anyone who did not enlist. Martin was also married to a woman he no longer cared for. Alice and Martin were together in Italy for 2 years.

When the war ended, Alice went to Reno and got a divorce. Martin's first wife had already done the same. Martin was still in Italy, working on some administrative jobs for the Army. During this time, he contracted tuberculosis. He was hospitalized and treated, but did not improve. His doctors told him that he would not survive and that he would probably never leave Italy. Alice went back to Italy to see him, and Martin convinced the hospital commander to let him out of the hospital for one night. For years, Martin and Alice told the world that they were married that night, but they weren't. Alice returned to New York without a husband.

However, Alice returned to New York with a baby. Martin's health improved slightly and he was transferred to an Army hospital in New York, but he was still not expected to survive more than a few weeks. After he was moved, Alice discovered that she was pregnant. This was the 50s, she was single, and her family was scandalized. Her sisters tried to convince her to have an abortion. Yes, it was illegal, but she was a nurse in New York City and could have had it done. Alice refused. She knew Martin was going to die and that she would be alone and poor with a ruined reputation, but she loved Martin and would not give up his child. Martin and Alice were married in the Army hospital and Alice prepared herself to be widowed.

Martin's condition stabilized and then gradually improved. He was still in the hospital on the day 6 months after his wedding that Alice gave birth to a baby girl, my mother. Martin spend another 6 months in the hospital and was finally well enough to be released, although he would never fully recover from his illness. Martin was from one of those flat and empty states out on the Great Plains and wanted to return. He got a job in a veterinary practice not too far from his hometown and moved his young family to a very small town to start a new life. The people of that small town weren't quite sure what to make of Alice, with her Jewish features and Bronx accent. Once they heard that Alice and Martin had met in Italy during the war it all made sense to them. Alice, they decided, was Italian.

Martin and Alice spent 15 years in that small town on the Plains. They had another daughter a few years after their first and built friendships that would last the rest of their lives. Alice was happy to stay home with the girls and look after the house, after her own fashion anyway. Alice believed in good friends and good times and owning lots of jewelry and that ironing and housekeeping only took you away from the better things in life. As she liked to say, she was an "easy keeper."

Martin eventually got a new job in California and moved the family out to the coast. Alice took a job in general nursing, and then spent time as a baby nurse and a sex therapist before moving into geriatric nursing. They moved around a lot for several years, but finally settled in a town in Northern California and spent 30 years there. They raised their girls and were thrilled by their 4 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Alice kept her job as a geriatric nurse until she was 76 and many of her patients were younger than she was. Throughout their marriage, Alice and Martin enjoyed good and life-long friends and always loved to travel. They went all over the world. Shortly before their 50th anniversary they returned to the town in Italy where they had met and fallen in love.

Alice passed away on May 11, 2003 following a brief illness.

Mom

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms, but most especially to mine, who lost her own mother last Mother's Day. Thanks, Mom, for having and loving and raising me and for being too cheap to pay for the fertility test that would have killed me when you didn't know you were pregnant. My greatest goal in life is to be as good a mother to my children as you were to me.

Tulips

Hot dog wishes and soda pop dreams

I generally don't remember my dreams, but this week I have remembered several. I am now starting to think that I don't remember my dreams because they are too boring to bother with. Here's some of the highlights from the last week:

- I am brushing my teeth and my electric toothbrush is running out of power. It needs to be recharged. So, I plug it in.

- I am looking at a calendar with my officemate discussing when we are each taking vacations.

- I am trying to get into my house but the door is locked. Fortunately, I have my keys.

So, what's the psycho-babble analysis for really dull dreams?

Warning: Chick Moment

I just noticed that my shirt perfectly (and I mean perfectly!) matches my shoes.

I am So. Cool.

Why?

You know those stores where, when you go to try on clothes, they give you a little plastic thinky labeled with the number of items you are taking with you into the dressing room? Why is it that when you are going into the dressign room they count your items as if the future of the entire free world depended it, but when you come out of the dressing room they just take your number back and pay no attention to the number of items you are returning?

September Morning

I live outside of Washington DC and work very close to one of the area's major airports. So close that some days it looks like the planes are going to land on the roof of my office. There are televisions throughout the building that are always on, always tuned to one 24 hour news channel or another, so when the first plane hit the World Trade Center we knew about it immediately. We thought it was a terrible accident. When the second plane hit we knew we were wrong. And then there was the Pentagon.

We all stood in a conference room and watched live as the first tower fell. Then we stood at the windows and watched the planes come in. Later in the day they would be grounded or diverted to Canada or brought in with a military escort, but this was early yet. Nobody knew what was going on or what would happen next and we watched the planes land and hoped they would go where they were supposed to go. Then the rumors started. A plane had hit the Gannett building, the 14th Street Bridge. There were three more planes missing. Five more planes. The phone lines were jammed for hours; you couldn't reach your family or friends. My office was evacuated. My office was evacuated because nobody knew whether or not there were more targets and whether or not we were one of them. It was exactly what it was meant to be. Terrifying.

Some people never escaped the fear of that day and moved out of the area. For the most part, I don't think about it too much.

Yesterday, as I was driving home from work, the Emergency Broadcast System siren sounded on the radio. Maybe it was the sky, which was clear and beautiful and very close in color to the way it was on that September morning, but when I heard that siren my stomach fell to my feet. I was convinced that it - something - I don't know what - had happened again. Convinced that we would have to run. It seemed as if that siren played for 5 minutes - it was probably 5 seconds. I had time to turn my car around to point for home instead of the gym. Time to grab my cell and start dialing my husband so I could tell him to grab the cats and meet me outside. Time to plan what we needed to take and who we needed to call and time to figure out whether I had enough gas in my car to make it to Ohio. Time to relive that morning and to feel that same fear.

It was a weather warning. Thunderstorms.

Do you hear something ticking, or is it just me?

Several months ago, with no advance warning, babies ate my brain. I'm not quite sure how it happened. All I know is that one day I developed this radar that can locate any baby within 100 yards and also developed a nearly uncontrollable urge, once I locate the baby, to pick it up and lick it. I am obsessed with little baby toes and chubby baby thighs and toothless baby smiles. I have recently taken up knitting, and it takes all the willpower I possess to refrain from making itsy-bitsy baby booties all the live long day.

This makes me crazy. I have a job! And an education! And hobbies! And I do not need a baby to complete my life or make me fulfilled or save my marriage or make my ass any bigger. I like doing what I want when I want. And I suspect that babies are a lot harder to care for than cats and that you can't just leave some extra food when you go away for the weekend. I can think of a hundred good solid logical reasons I should not have a baby, and not a single good solid logical reason I should.

And every time I see a baby I want to lie down on the floor and cry and kick my legs and pitch a major tantrum until someone gives me one of my own.

How serious is it? I. Gave. Up. Coffee. That's serious.

John & Me

I mentioned yesterday that I think John Malkovich is hot. Some people find this strange, as he is not especially good looking, but despite that I think he is just unbelievably sexy. In fact, you know those "5 celebrities I can sleep with if I ever get the chance and my husband can't complain" lists? I don't have one of those. But if I did, John Malkovich would totally be on it. Not number one, you know, but a good solid four. Maybe even a three if he were willing to dress up in the Dangerous Liaisons gear.

So, since yesterday I have been developing this very elaborate John Malkovich fantasy. Here's how it goes:

Poor me, my car has broken down and I am stopped at the side of the road. It is a lovely country road surrounded by gently rolling hills and blooming lavender - in France (because that's where he lives). I am sitting on the trunk of the car reading a book. (I'm not sure what book I am reading, something intellectual, maybe poetry.) Suddenly, a kind passing motorist pulls over and gets out of his car to see if I need help. As he walks up, I realize that this Good Samaritan is none other than John Malkovich. I don't let on that I know who he is though, because I am just that cool and sophisticated. We proceed to have a conversation, in French of course, and my accent is so flawless that John Malkovich has no idea that I am American. (The grand total of my French vocabulary is "I don't speak French, do you speak English?" and "May I please have 20 bottles of wine?" but this is my fantasy so I speak perfect French so there.) After a few minutes of chatting, he offers to take me to his chateau so I can use the phone to call for a tow truck. I accept, of course, and he drives me up to his house. Once there, he introduces me to his lovely wife and charming children, they invite me to stay for lunch and I spent the rest of the afternoon there. I eventually confess that I am American, to the great shock of the entire Malkovich clan and also confess that I have known all along who he was but am just far too worldly to make a fuss over such things. They are all greatly impressed by my amazing talents and all-around too cool for schoolness. And then I call the tow truck and am on my way.

Now first, how sad is it that my John Malkovich fantasy involves lunch with his wife and children rather than wild earth moving sex on the trunk of my stalled car? But I looked up a recent picture of him yesterday and well, he looks a little like my dad. Only my dad has more hair. And while I am sure he is still a knicker-twister in person, the "looks like me dad" thing kinda cooled my ardor.

And second, how long do you think it will take me to learn enough French to fool John Malkovich when I bump into him on that country road?

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

I recently discovered that my husband had never seen one of my all-time favorite movies, Dangerous Liaisons. So I rented it and after much wheedling and nagging we watched it this weekend. His considered critique of the film? "That sucked!"

Sucked? How can you say that? It has intrigue! Seduction! Drama! John Malkovich! That tongue thing!

To which he replied, "I think it actually pumped estrogen into my body."

Well, yes, there is that.

What he doesn't understand is that it is like the Lloyd Dobler Effect. Many women around my age (which is approaching. ahem. 30) fell in love with and wanted to date John Cusack in Say Anything. However, they wanted to be seduced by John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons. Yes, he was evil and cruel and abusive. And hot. Really, really hot.

Personally, I married the Lloyd Dobler guy and am very glad I did, but the Vicomte de Valmont never loses his appeal.