Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It's one of those evenings when my thoughts are just rattling and tumbling with a will of their own, not letting me go to sleep or even rest. This is the time when I usually work on my book...but I don't feel very creative.

Today, a week into the interminable winter break from school, I wasn't feeling well, and Hedgie's friend and his parents came and took her away to have all sorts of fun. Her friend, I'll call him Orson, arrived dressed to the last detail as his latest obsession Sherlock Holmes. The only thing missing was the opium. When they returned Hedgie, five hours later (God bless these people), her arms were full of take-out chicken soup for me, Nancy Drew for her, and, for some obscure reason, a bag of pistachios. I was glad to see her and she was breathless from the magical spell of Orson and his parents. I've mentioned them before, but they are the kind of people with whom I can happily spend a ten hour day and not become tired and irritated, the kind of people who wouldn't bat an eyelash if you had a cigarette, or got tipsy, or too loud, or made an off-color remark about the kids' incredibly toothsome Tae Kwon Do instructor; the kind of people who forget they're in the Museum of Modern Art and lean on a sculpture to relay some juicy tidbit of gossip and then blush furiously when the museum guard shakes his head at them; who like to stop at least twice or three times for snacks, in the course of an afternoon; who can be serious and funny at the same time; in short, my heroes. But all that is just a digression.

Orson, like Hedgehog and actually quite a number of her friends, is an only child. It's been fun, being a family of three. I've enjoyed it immensely. I think we've gotten to know each other and had a lot of fun in our close little triad. I've gone around and around and around about it. I waited till Hedgehog was 8 and now it's time for a new one. With many reservations and an uneven enthusiasm.

The whole thing isn't too bad (one hopes the second time as well): I enjoyed being pregnant, I felt pretty mellow and it was a big nice adventure. Birth was exciting. A baby is cute, once they get past that all-looking-basically-the-same phase where they're like eerie comatose goblins. That's not cute, despite how much parents want to believe it is. But when they fill out with milk and start to make eye contact, but still let you chew a little on their baby cheeks and squeeze their fat middles, well, that's cute. But my mom said a wise thing recently: "The question isn't do you want a baby, but rather do you want another person in your family." Another person could be cool, though I'm not so down with the toddler and preschool stages. 8 months old? Fabulous. 8 years old? Rock n' roll. The intervening years? Rough.

I guess, since Sarge and Hedgie are both desperate for this little addition, I will oblige to the best of my abilities. The first time around, I got pregnant right out of the gate. Literally, the first time I'd ever had unprotected sex in my life, I was pregnant. It made me marvel that nothing had slipped by before that! Now, I'm older--(well, no kidding)--I'll be 39 in a week, and who knows what deposit my eggs have put down already on their cozy rooms in the retirement home. I'm not expecting a quick turn-around, but who knows. And I try not to think too much about semi-geriatric motherhood...I figure bright, loving, capable Hedgie will pitch in. Like "All-of-a-Kind Family"!

I also try not to think too much about practical matters. Where does one put an extra goblin? In the spare bathtub that now houses bags of old clothes awaiting the Salvation Army truck? Under Sarge's desk? In a trundle bed under Hedgie's? And whither the spare cash for such minor sundries as tuition, music lessons, Hebrew School, parties, oh God?! It's best not to look too closely in this case, or one will never take the leap. Blindly stumbling off the cliff seems to work out. There may well be a mossy patch to break the fall, and if not, well, there's always the emergency room. After all, there are a million variables, seen and unforeseen. Parenthood is a wild gamble under the best of circumstances.

Basically, I've concluded that a baby is like a dog, and Sarge, Hedgie, and (maybe) I can offer a nice home to one. So I'm trying to visualize it as a thicket, but not so bleak and forbidding.

We shall see.

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Questions for Me to Answer: New Year's Meme

God, I love to talk about myself. Any excuse at all. Here's the latest excuse, via our Bob:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Heard the Pogues live. Woo-hoo!

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?

No resolutions, ever.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Two dear friends! You know who you are, girls.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

Canada, does that count as another country?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A doctorate. And another child.

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 11th, as every year since 2001.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Letting go a little of my smothering parenting habits...

9. What was your biggest failure?

Letting the ball drop on our finances! Where did all that damn money go?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Worst bout of influenza of my life. Sidelined me for months. It was frightening.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Hands down, private school for Hedgehog. And her Tae Kwon Do lessons.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine, at times.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Mine at times.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Food. And a pair of really nice boots. Just kidding. Food and utilities and credit card bills and tuition and car maintenance and dentist appointments and doctor's appointments and and and...

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The book I'm writing. I'm really, really, really excited about it.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

"Dirty Old Town."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?

Sadder, much thinner, richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

My God-damned dissertation.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Scolding Hedgehog. Although she totally deserved it!

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent Christmas fantasizing about Krampus.

21. Did you meet/date anyone special in 2008?

Sarge, for the 18th time in 18 years.

22. How many one-night stands?

Just one, with a jar of Nutella. I'm so ashamed.

23. . What was your favorite TV program?


24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Oprah Winfrey. Well, let's just say that my hatred grew stronger in 2008.

25. What was the best book you read?

"World War Z" and "The Difference Engine."

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My sister.

28. What did you want and get?

A more rock and roll body.

28. What did you want and not get?

A new car. I know that's shallow, but it's true.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

"Velvet Goldmine." It's my favorite film of this and any other year.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 38. And honestly, I don't remember what I did.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Freeing myself from the tyranny of grad school.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

In my imagination? Severus' Innocently Gothic Mistress. In real life? Housewife with a Twist.

33. What kept you sane?

Pills. And lots of 'em.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Need I even answer this?

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

That this country didn't have the testicles to elect our first woman president.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

The parents of Hedgehog's friend.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Quit yer whining and get to work on your dissertation, motherfucker. Do you see a certain theme here?...

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Coyness is nice, and
Coyness can stop you
From doing all the things in
Life you want to

So, if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
Ask me - I won’t say "no" - how could I?"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Walk in the Rain: a Quiet Little Post

And on another note...

Here are some pictures I took one rainy day a few weeks ago, of the walk from our house to Hedgie's school, and back again:

Here's Hedgie, walking up our block, briskly ahead as she likes to do:

Some odd little houses around the corner--they always remind me of tiny Taras, little plantation homes:

A forbidding view of the pretty church attached to my old preschool:

The pear tree next door to Hedgie's school:

Inside school, where there has been a little lice epidemic; funny public service announcement posters by the kids:

On my way back home, without Hedgie, more opportunity to take some pics. Here's the sign outside a neighborhood church, always changing and always very thoughtful. I especially like this quote:

The church steps where my friends and I would sit between high school classes, back in the day:

A dying breed: the emergency call box:

As far as I'm concerned, best bagels in the city. But I'm sure folks would argue that their neighborhood bagel place is best. Hey, most of them are good. Just like the pizza. It's damned hard to find a bad slice of pizza in Brooklyn.

The store where my family has shopped for generations:

Took a detour with camera to the scenic promenade; Gothic and Victorian and melancholy in the rain--my favorite look for a neighborhood:

Can you quite make out Lady Liberty, ethereal in the fog?

And back home again, balancing umbrella, camera, handbag, and iced coffee to give you a taste of my Brooklyn neighborhood:

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Am Shocked

I will say this about myself. It takes a lot to shock me. I can't actually remember the last time, well before a few days ago that is, that I was shocked. I can stomach virtually anything--crime scene photos, of death injury and accident, even involving children or dogs, real live dead people, any and all sexual deviations written or represented in image...if it's violent, dirty, gruesome, perverse, grisly, horrifying, freakish, kinky, or any combination of the aforementioned adjectives, well, I might not enjoy it, but it just doesn't seem to affect me much. My sister jokes that I'm like a homicide detective eating a meatball hoagie while perusing physical evidence. Okay, I know I know that may be a bit far-fetched...but maybe not really...

I've given this personality quirk of mine quite a bit of thought recently. What made me this way? Wither the juxtaposition between my spirituality, my capacity for caring, my kind and gentle side, my love of soft colors and cashmere, sweet-smelling babies and hamsters, and this...this...weird wall of cold detachment? Is it a problem, or just nothing but a thing?

However...a mildly interesting thing happened to me when I visited Old Knudsen a couple of days ago. If you are familiar with the Knudsen blogging empire, then you know he has a genius sense of humor that requires some intelligence (I flatter myself and him) to appreciate without getting all offended and huffing off. Anyway, to make a long story short, I found myself shocked into horrified silence by an image presented therein. I won't direct you to this image, or even be any more specific, because I'm still traumatized. I asked myself, why this? Why is this shocking to me? This and virtually nothing else in recent memory? I can't answer that question. I suppose I should be glad that I can be startled out of my chilly fog. I was beginning to worry about myself a little there. So I'll just extend a truthful "thanks Knudsen for shocking me!"

I'll pose an idle question or two--are there parts of your personality that you have trouble reconciling? and also, are you easily shocked? What shocks you? or are you completely jaded? Or if you think you're a bit jaded, is there still anything that shocks you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Little Flames

After the days of rumpus and hubbub, the cascade of money to its due, slipping over ice fields in silver slippers to parties, too much laughter and wine, guzzling of rich drinks and devouring of cake, tearing of wrappings, wiping away the overtired tears...after all this...it comes down to one tiny flicker of light...and once again we've found our center...

Happy Holidays to all of you special, wonderful people!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Solstice has Come and Gone

...and the days are lengthening, one moment at a time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Inconvenience of Loving a Dog

Right smack dab in the midst of holiday festivities, Hedgie's three-day birthday celebration, playdates and present-giving and lunch at the American Girl Place in Manhattan, my nearly 15-year-old mutt Pippin is inconveniently winding down a long and varied life. Needless to say, I won't belabor the details, but it's unnerving and sad to see this once rowdy boy slipping away bit by bit. An emergency vet visit last week yielded some meds that temporarily alleviated things, but obviously there's something more serious going on.

I will be going back to his regular vet, but I don't believe in spending thousands and thousands of dollars, nor do I have this money, to prolong the discomfort of an old dog. I guess sometime soon a decision will have to be made, one that many of us have made before. It's always harrowing. I would have loved a few more years to kiss his smelly face and wipe away my tears in his soft brisket, and watch him swim and try to steal food, and bark at squirrels. I keep hoping I'll wake up and he'll be back to his old self, but so far, it hasn't happened. So I'm trying to prepare myself for goodbye. And I'm praying for the strength to make the right decision, not for me, but for him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Krampus, My Favorite Holiday Anti-Hero

I find the holidays malicious. Too much noise, too many gifts, too much pressure, too dark (literally). All the people I know are becoming ever more depressed: If they're not Christian, they feel weird. If they don't have a spouse, they feel lonely and alienated. If they have a spouse but no children, the supposed childlike delight feels like a living reproach. If they have children and a spouse, then still they can never do enough, have the holiday they're "supposed" to have. There's more: if you're not around your family you miss them, if half of them are dead, the holidays remind you of the loss, if you are around your extended family, it's sure to end with the police called to a domestic. If one tends toward depression, well, this is ground zero. The holidays remind you that you're poor, lonely, alienated, Jewish, and your loved ones are dead or annoying. And all the food makes you portly.

Enter my new favorite holiday hero, Krampus. My sardonic sister introduced us. He's the evil anti-Santa, an invention of the oddly sepulchral German imagination, intended to scare children. Apparently Krampus is a sort of Christmas devil who comes around to punish bad little boys and girls. In some versions he steals them. In other versions, he's sort of sexy and goes for the ladies with a light-hearted sadism and a birch switch. And at home, we wonder whether he was possibly a Jewish stereotype; the Germans have a bit of a track record with these. Anyway, I love Krampus. I relate to him. I have a crush on him even. He's the perfect antidote to all of the nonsense. Call me a cynic, call me a Jew, but Krampus really delivers.

Feast your eyes on some of the many incarnations of this Christmas ghoul:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Now, without further ado, I shall launch myself willy-nilly into the answering of the random questions posed me by my lovely readers.

From MJ:

1. What would happen if you were locked in a room alone with Alan Rickman? All the details, please.

Well now, I asked Sarge for help on this one. He says I would become tongue-tied and with nothing to offer but repeated "umms" and gulps, but not in a good way. I beg to differ; Sarge has no idea of my capacity for witty repartee under duress. Then we discussed whether Alan Rickman was on my marital Exception List. I feel he is. I asked Sarge who's short-listed for his exception list, and he replied "Alan Rickman." To which I said "what?!" to which he said, "what, you're good enough for him but I'm not?" Also short-listed for Sarge, Jenny Agutter circa 1976 and Pam Dawber circa 1978, Mork and Mindy era. "Unfortunately," says Sarge. "my short list involves time travel."

But I digress.

No question that, given permission and opportunity, and a one-way police interrogation mirror for Sarge (it's not cheating if your husband's watching, is it?), I would get to know Alan Rickman in the immodest sense. He would oblige me with his Severus costume; I believe it requires a clinging, semi-naked woman to complete the look, no?

But no sex, not for us. Merely a nice couple of hours of hot, wet, tongue-y kisses, sardonic looks (him), and some licking of all those buttons on the waistcoat (me).

From Hunter:

2. Whats the juiciest piece of gossip you have ever spread?

I never spread gossip.

Just kidding!!!!

The juiciest piece of gossip I've ever spread was two days ago, at coffee with my friend. But I can't repeat it because I don't want to commit myself to writing.

3. If you like men in uniforms why are you scared of the police?

I've put my Masters degree in psychology to use (finally!), and have come to the conclusion that my fear of the police is a reaction-formation defense mechanism to my generalized attraction to them. In other words, I'm actually sexually attracted to the uniform (it's kinda a fetish thing), but since it's not acceptable to be attracted to every single man in uniform, I'm translating attraction to a more acceptable impulse--fear. Now as for the uniform fetish, well, that's for another psychoanalytic session.

4. Girl on girl...guy on guy or guy on girl?

Girl on guy in my real life, guy on guy in my "secret" written porn life.

5. Why do you believe in heaven but not hell?

Well, the Jewish concept of Heaven and Hell is a little unclear anyway. But I guess I'm just uncomfortable with the idea of Hell. I have a whole complex schema whereby the super-evil people (like Hitler level evil, or child-molester-level evil) have to spend time after they die experiencing exactly what they have inflicted on their victims. I don't know, I guess my schema breaks down pretty quickly in its logic. Plus I'm not God, so who am I to conceptualize some sort of complicated purgatory like that. But still, for whatever the reason, I cannot accept the idea of Hell. I just don't think the God I believe in would sanction it. Okay, this was a lame answer to an excellent question--sorry, Mr. Hunter!!!!

From Kylie:

6. Tell me about a moment of joy you have or had in your everyday life

I was 16. It was a beautiful Fall day in Brooklyn. My parents and sister had gone out somewhere, and a boy named Dave, a Hardcore (remember them?) with a shaved head and combat boots and leather jacket, who really really liked me, stopped over for an unexpected visit. I was luckily wearing one of my favorite dresses, an ankle-length indian-print cotton with a gigantic ruffle around the bottom, an empire waist, and a front that laced up with leather over my boobs, and long tight sleeves ending in enormous puffs. And high black leather boots. Also my ubiquitous sterling silver hoop earrings. You must understand that I loved clothes with a passion, and this was an awesome outfit. Sexy but completely naive, just like me. This boy Dave was sexy but not at all naive, and I was a little scared of him but still I had the upper hand. I made him tea and we smoked cigarettes and I let him stare at me for awhile, and then I sat on his lap and let him kiss me a little, and then I put on my brown suede Bob Dylan jacket, and he his black leather jacket, and we went for a walk arm in arm and I bought a baguette at the little bakery down the street, and some flowers too for the dinner table.

That walk with Dave was a long moment of pure joy--I'm not sure why--maybe my outfit, maybe being young and feeling powerful and excited and a little scared in a good way all at the same time, and knowing how much he liked me--it was wonderful, and I'll never forget it or him although he's long gone. And so, might I add, is the dress, which gave up the ghost not soon after, just kind of disintegrated at the seams...

From CSI Seattle:

7. Where are your glasses?

I have removed them in order to better get at Alan Rickman's buttons.

8. If Alan Rickman wore glasses, would you still find him attractive?

I believe he does wear glasses, and I do still find him attractive. I love the way our glasses click together when we go in for the completely imaginary kiss!

9. Who is Alan Rickman?

A middle-aged, jowly, objectively homely British actor who has a sexual aura so powerful that it has more than once shorted out a fuse in my house.

10. Does your husband know about Alan Rickman, and if not, how much will you pay me not to tell him?

You, sir, have no recourse to profitable blackmail, as Sarge knows all about Alan Rickman and his kevorka, nay even supports my delusion of reference as leverage for his own inexplicable star crush on certain 1970s sitcom stars (see question 1 above).

11. Why do you think that this current trend of ask/answer question thing is so popular?

I think that people simply love to talk about themselves. The questioners are just being tolerant.

12. What is your greatest vice? (I will let you determine the definition of greatest.)

I believe that my greatest vice is my predilection for lengthy and involved daydreaming at the sometimes expense of quality time with loved ones. Sarge asked me the other night, as we sat in front of the fire, me half-assedly joining in our conversation but I guess not fooling anyone, "am I interrupting something?"

13. You have one hour to live (for the purpose of this question of course). How will you spend that hour? And not with Alan Rickman.

I will spend it eating canned ravioli and watching "Murder, She Wrote."

From Random Chick:

14. What's Alan Rickman's favorite ice cream flavor? Of anyone, I think you would know...

I am only hazarding a guess here...Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin?

From Skeeter:

15. Are you Ginger or Mary Ann?

I am most decidedly Ginger.

16. A scenario for question 2. You are at the counter. You can have anything you see. Which cookie do you pick?

I really want the gigantic chocolate chip cookie, but I'll just have the biscotti.

From Mr. Shife:

17. Will Mrs. Shife have a boy or a girl?

I am consulting my oracle, but it's unclear. I can't tell whether that's a teeny tiny penis or a renegade candy cane that got in there somehow...

18. Could it be that all those trick-or-treaters wearing sheets aren't going as ghosts but as mattresses?

Well, better a mattress than an Imperial Wizard...

19. If a mute swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

Yes, your hypothesis is correct.

From Inner Voices:

20. what is the most compromising situation you have been "discovered" in?

Upstate New York, November of now more than a decade ago, having a quick one on the snow-covered ground in the woods behind the house (more fun than you might think)...well, we were almost discovered...someone was calling, looking for us...finished up just in the nick of time...but it was close.

21. When will the cows come home?

When they run out of clean underwear.

22. Single "o" or multiple "o's"?

Multiple, most of the time. Well, I'm enthusiastic!

23. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I'm loyal to Star Wars, but Star Trek will always be my number one.

24. The sky is falling. what would you do?

It isn't really, you know. I think you've been nipping at the lysergic acid diethylamide again...

25. What is the best piece of advice i can bestow on two children that are not my own?

My dad left me with two pieces of advice, and although I know they sound incredibly silly, I have actually kept them in mind all my life, and they are both true, metaphorically and practically, so I pass them on to you guys:

1. Never carry a "lazy man's load."
2. If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly.

From Megan:

26. If you had to give up your computer or give up knitting for one month, which would you give up and why?

I would definitely give up the computer. Of all my hobbies, knitting is by far the most relaxing, and I can't imagine not doing it at all for a month. The only thing I do on my computer that is "essential" is my writing, and I can do that long-hand, on legal pads. Besides, it might be fun to have a complete blogging blackout and then come back and try to figure out what had gone on in the interim!

27. If you were given a check for $10,000 but immediately had to give it away to a charity, what would you choose?

Half to an animal charity, probably an independent shelter that could really make immediate use of the money. Half to a hospice.

28. What's your middle name?

My middle name is Simone.

From Suzanne:

29. Do your feet smell? If so, is it your fault or your shoes?

Generally no. But I do have one pair of very cheap funky shoes that have a tendency to, er, ripen things up. I avoid them now.

30. I'm looking at MJ and her tights, so this is a logical question. Would you wear those tights on your legs or on your head (like Cat In The Hat)?

Love those tights. Definitely on my legs, with motorcycle boots. That Cat in the Hat hat makes me nervous.

31. Do you wear panties or are you free baby?!!!

I totally wear underwear at all times. Well, nearly all times. It's like a sacred trust between me and my nudity. We need to be clothed.

32. What is your favorite color?

Orange. Orange! I love orange, I always have.

33. What do you think of Suzanne?

Suzanne is a deeply kind person. She possesses in abundance the two qualities which are absolutely the sine qua non in my eyes: a sense of humor and a sense of compassion. She also feels things deeply and that causes her pain sometimes. I know because I share this trait and recognize it in others.

34. If you had a choice between a gun, a knife or your words to deter a criminal, which would you use? Why?

I would definitely choose the gun. Words are too iffy--they don't always work, and I wouldn't want to take a chance. The knife? Too up close and personal. I don't want to touch anyone's blood. Also, one is more easily disarmed with a knife. The gun would give me a chance to not have to get violent.

35. If you had a choice between CSI, IV, Bob or Severus, which would you choose!!! OH COURSE I'M LAUGHING!!!

Okay, CSI, IV, and Bob are hotties, each in their own individual and compelling way. But for the sake of propriety, I'm going with the imaginary dude.

36. Your favorite vegetarian meal?

Definitely Lebanese food: foule mudamas (fava bean salad) on pita bread, tabouleh wrapped in little tender lettuce leaves, rice with toasted pine nuts, my mother-in-law's mujjadereh (lentils, onions, and rice) and Khiyar b'laban(yogurt-cucumber sauce).

37. Your favorite non-vegetarian meal?

Also Lebanese. My father-in-law's stewed chicken with mograbieh (pearl couscous).

38. How did you get this far without your glasses?

By "squinting my way down to 20-20 vision" a la George Costanza.

From Queen Goob:

39. Do you REALLY brush your teeth every night before bed?


not always...

don't tell...

I do try to at least rinse with Listerine as I stumble bedwards...

40. Spit or swallow?

Mouthwash? Spit.

Oh, that's not what you meant...

Swallow. Always, always swallow. All of it, every last drop. I just think it's more polite that way. Plus tidier.

41. Favorite NFL team?

Miami. I know, I know...

42. When you pick your nose, do you wipe, roll, or flick?

Just like I never gossip, always brush my teeth, never do anything that would require, er, swallowing, so too do I never never EVER pick my nose.

*...goes back to daydreaming...*

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Me Too (or is that "I, as Well?")

Just Bob has invented a brilliant reciprocal meme whereby we solicit random questions from readers, and then answer them. Half the fun of this is in the questions--but it's been honestly interesting to read what people answer. I think people in general are quite fascinating; those you meet in this odd way are somewhat of an enigma, so doubly interesting. It's fun to know more.

So far, we have Reciprocal Meme Works-in-Progress from Sir Hunter, Kylie, Megan, and Zack over at Inner Voices.

Well, unfortunately I can't resist either, and I'm throwing in. I love to interview, and I love to be interviewed, and so here I am, hoping very much that anyone who stops by will ask me a question or two or three. As many as you like, of any sort. You needn't censor yourself.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

...we even flew a little...

I've been waiting for this moment, and it's arrived. Hedgehog had her first flying dream last night. I'm so happy for her!

I think most people have them sometimes, and each person's way of flying in their dreams is as individual as a fingerprint. I also think that flying dreams are symbolic of hope.

I love to fly in my dreams--and it's always the same for me. I flap my arms vigorously to gain loft, and when I have, I can sometimes soar. What a feeling! It's a freedom that I've rarely known in waking life. Sarge tells me that he flies by taking a running start and then tucking his feet up. And now Hedgie, in little girl fashion, says that last night while she was sleeping, she sprouted a tiny set of glimmering wings that she worked a bit with her arms and shoulders; she only gained a tiny bit of loft, a few feet off the ground, but that was a wonderful real feeling.

How do you fly?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do Dirty Things to Me While Maintaining an Impenetrable Impassivity...Please...

So let's round out this month of thanks with a nod to one of my favorite walking money shots, Alan Rickman.

If you're too squeamish to be sexually molested by this embarrassing video, please feel free to skip to my commentary.

(embedding was disabled, go HERE to see the video.)

Okay. I admit that I'm obsessed with this.

The song is beyond hideous. Who is this Texas creature anyway? But I will tolerate her saccharine warbling ad infinitum for the sake of repeated droolings over my savory, succulent Alan Rickman--his raw middle-aged sexuality is positively inconvenient.

Let me analyze what makes me lust after this man to such an unseemly degree:

1. His obvious indifference. Take the opening scene. While the girl whinges on, Alan examines his fingernails. Detachment is dead sexy. He'll get to you when he's good and ready; not a moment before. No matter how much you thrust your proverbial bosom at him.

2. His jowls. Some might say these are the hallmark of drooping age and even the aftereffects of a younger life of undisciplined excess. I say jowls equal sexual experience. The jowly man has had many lovers. He knows how to please them and how to be pleased. Don't ask me why jowls prove sexual prowess. I just know somehow that they do.

3. His frowny face. Who doesn't like to have to guess whether one's partner is enjoying things? The disequilibrium a frowny man creates in one is shiveringly attractive. And if he once smiles even sardonically, even half-way, well, it's the last stroke.

4. Willing to tango in a gas station without a trace of irony. Yum.

5. Willing to be pushed hard against a concrete wall by a woman--the only trace of vampiric smile in the whole episode emerges--not afraid of being thought weak, and in that way is actually the stronger one. Once again, we revisit the concept of "topping from the bottom." I admit that I like a man who tops from the bottom. It's always unexpected and puts a girl at her dis-ease. Gratifyingly so.

6. Leaves the girl without a goodbye or even a nod, just a smoldering squint, a toss of keys, and a jowly frown.

There you have it, a quick analysis of what makes this droopy-jawed delight an obvious sex machine.

So who is your weird fantasy fodder?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Secret Book

I'm so thankful for my book. I've been working on her for awhile now, off and on, and she gives me only the greatest joy. Even when I'm not writing at the moment, the characters are living inside me, and sometimes I feel giddy when I think of them. I really, really like this book. She's the very embodiment of hope, a tingling feeling of excitement that makes life worth living. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Actually, Book, I must confess...I think that I've fallen a little in love with you:

"How can I explain how I feel?
I'm like a little kid running at her heel
She's giving me looks like she thinks I'm a snappy dresser
How can I tell what I should plan?
I've never kissed a girl or held her hand
She's waiting for me to move, I've got to impress her"

I hope I can impress you, Book.

I Was a Child of the '70s...

...and I am thankful for that.

To what other occasion could one wear these plaid pants?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for My Daughter

On a Dust Taken Road by the Sea

On a dust taken road
on a long plundered day
I will find you here
where the sea gives away
in a dappled dell beside the sea
you and me are there
where the tide gives way
and the seagulls call
in a melodic stray
the ocean is as
clear as you and me.

--Hedgehog, Spring 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful for My Daughter's Tae Kwan Do Master

Yes, I'm thankful for him. He has been an unexpected blessing in our lives. A wonderful, soulful man, who since meeting Hedgehog last spring has brought a sturdy, steady light into all our lives. So much more than just an instructor, he teaches kindness, discipline, generosity, and grace of spirit and body. He has become a role model for all three of us.

Just yesterday, I spilled some coffee in the beautifully appointed waiting room of the dojo. As I was down on my knees, blotting up his lovely mat, in my usual housewifely position and a bit embarrassed, he laughed and told me he'd put the outdoor mat indoors for just such occasions. I stood, and rolled my eyes in my jokily complaining way, saying, "ech, this is my life, forever blotting up carpets..." and he smiled and, not looking at me, said gently "you have a wonderful life."

It was not a reprimand, not confrontational, said in his sweet way, but with certitude; he really meant it. So what could I do but agree? I don't always feel that way, but I'll try to remind myself of his words when I feel down...

Thank you, Tae Kwan Do Master.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fields of Athenry

Today I'm thankful for favorite family songs and long-lived romance...

I'm thankful for Hedgehog's little piping voice singing along while Sarge plays "Fields of Athenry" on his guitar.

I'm thankful that both Sarge and Hedgehog love to dissect and discuss song lyrics with me.

I'm thankful that after all these years, I still love a slow dance with Sarge, to "Misty Morning, Albert Bridge" or "Dixieland Delight."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful for the Fire

I'm so thankful for my fireplace. It's as old as the house, over 150 years old, and I love to imagine the tenants of the past sitting by it, cooking over it maybe, warming themselves and feeling cozy like we do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thankful for Heinz 57

This is the expression my dear departed father-in-law used to refer to mutts, human mutts that is. And he used it in all fondness, being a mutt himself: Greek-Egyptian-Lebanese. When he welcomed me into the family, he told me how glad he was that Sarge was marrying a European Jew--he said it would make our children physically, psychologically strong, and more interesting to boot. So, Sarge has got a bunch of the Middle Eastern-African stuff plus English, Mexican, and perhaps some Native American. I'm Russian and Lithuanian, Hungarian and Polish, Jewish, and some bit of Southern Baptist from Kentucky (my dad's dad) via England and Scotland. So that makes Hedgehog proud full-blooded Heinz 57.

I imagine most of the people passing through here didn't come to America on the Mayflower...or whatever is the equivalent in other parts of the world...so what are the ingredients in your ketchup?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanks X 3

My mother-in-law is a strange cookie--a combination of control freak and adventuress. This is a woman who blows a gasket if you move her refrigerator magnets askew, but then scans the travel bureaus for tourist warnings, and books a trip to that country pronto.

Her latest trips have taken her to several of the more unstable -Stans and finally to Iran, from whence she just emerged two days ago unscathed and singing its praises. Ahmadinejad be darned, it's so festive over there! But all sarcasm and our sometimes uneven relationship aside, I do have a great deal of respect for this intrepid, self-sufficient, and rather open-minded 75-year-old woman. So my first thanks is for my mother-in-law. I know she loves me, and I love her, despite everything (like how she tried to get Hedgie baptized, for instance! But we won't speak of that now, because this is a thanks not a slam), and I know that I can count on her in a pinch, and besides, she did make Sarge although I'm pretty sure he's largely self-actualized.

She brought us many lovely and interesting things from Iran, but my very favorite is this:

Crackers from the flight! Perfectly un-cracked crackers, carefully saved for Hedgehog! This is one of the wonderful traits of an older generation, a generation for whom war was a reality at home not just something distant, for whom gross excess--of food, of consumer electronics--was the lifestyle of royalty, not regular people. My grandparents were of this generation, and they too saved bits of things for me and my sister. When they traveled upstate and stopped for lunch at the Howard Johnson's, they would always bring us little packages of strawberry jam and honey for a treat. These were people who rinsed out their paper towels and dried and reused them, who never left a scrap of food from a restaurant meal. To this day I feel positively decadent when I don't have a to-go bag of leftovers. Sometimes in a nice restaurant Sarge has to shake his head at me when he sees me gearing up to ask for a risotto doggie bag.

So Thanks Number 2 is for that careful frugality of our earlier generation; let's learn from then in this time of financial worry and instability!

Thanks Number 3 is simply thinking ahead to this evening's meal: hot soup on a cold November night.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful for Pippin

Old dog, hideous breath, portly middle, you only grumble a little when I squeeze your soft soft self, you pee on the floor sometimes now and are deaf and more than a little blind, but still you're worth a price above rubies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dusk Comes Early

Today I'm thankful for the afternoons, between 3 and 6, when Hedgehog and I get to hang out and just be peaceful together. I pick her up at school, and this year she emerges tired and cheerful, and we walk home together hand in hand, and she chatters about her day and her friends and her homework. The walk home is lovely--our neighborhood is really charming, the streets lined with many very old and friendly trees and rows of brownstones, and lots of people we know to say hi to, and if one suspends one's bitterness about the cost of real estate (hard to do but worth the effort), one can enjoy the beauty of the walk.

It provides a sort of solace for me--I like constancy and routine and to be able to count on things; I've been in this neighborhood since birth, off and on but always as a home base, and through all its minor changes, I can still know for sure that the cracks on H-- Street are the same ones that used to catch the wheels of my roller skates, and that the supermarket where I buy chicken for Hedgie's soup used to have sawdust-covered floors where I did the marketing with my grandma and mom. In this neighborhood the ghosts are for the most part friendly, and if the memories bring an occasional teary feeling, well, I'd still rather be living among them.

So Hedgie and I walk and chat and do some errands and arrive home at our own rowhouse, one of the oldest in the neighborhood but much more humble in origin and appearance than many of the more stately homes. Ours, now cut off by the expressway, but once a waterfront house, once a boarding-house, and some even say a brothel, is red brick and tree-shaded, cozy and irregular with none of the Victorian excesses of the fancier brownstones. I'm always glad to come to its green door.

We walk upstairs--our house is upside down, with bedrooms on the bottom and kitchen and living areas on the top--we drag groceries up four flights, and Hedgie flings off her shoes, and flings down her blue knapsack covered in colorful little buttons and keychains, and snacks are eaten, orange juice drunk, dinner and homework begun, and through it all runs the thread of our companionship, of things to be counted on and taken for granted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thankful for the Brave Ones

Men and women, the veterans of war and of peacetime, and the conscientious objectors who served as medics, those who came home and those who didn't, those drafted and those enlisted, all of them...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thankful for the Hiss of Heat

I love to hear the radiators kick on when the nights get chilly. A comforting sound that's been with me from childhood. In all the various houses and apartments in which I've lived, it's been a Brooklyn constant. So I'm thankful for all the many radiators that have kept me comfortable and warm over the years.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mother's Little Helper

I just couldn't bear to say goodbye to Ziggy Stardust yesterday, so I'm posting two new thanks today.

1. I'm a very very anxious person. I'm thankful for prescription tranquilizers.

and on a related note,

2. I'm thankful for "Valley of the Dolls," perhaps the most sexist piece of glorious crap ever written, and one that I have read with gusto at least 20 times. Who doesn't swoon when Lyon Burke thaws the icy New England demeanor of Anne Welles and takes her virginity with dashing aplomb? Go Lyon! Go get that refrigerated maraschino cherry!!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Press Your Space Face Close to Mine

I'm thankful for Ziggy Stardust. When I was 13, he captured my imagination, and the thrill has persisted down the years. I mean, I love David Bowie like anything, but entirely apart from that I love Ziggy Stardust.

The first time I heard "Five Years" I was absolutely blown away by the fantastic story of apocalypse preached in a stinging cloud of glitter and cocaine. Ziggy compelled me to fly my freak flag with impunity, and I must say that I'm still flying it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bess and Georges

Today I'm thankful for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Herge, the two writers who have had the biggest impact on my life. I don't even know who I'd be if I hadn't read and reread and reread again every single Tintin and Little House book. Would I know what head cheese and name cards are? Would I know how to braid straw for a hat, or that the "chinook" is the wind that blows in the first spring weather, or that badgers flatten themselves out when threatened? Where would my sense of moral location be if I didn't have Ma's sure guiding hand on my back? And even more's to the point, where would my sense of humor be if I didn't have the reference for "ten thousand thundering typhoons!"?

So, Bess and Georges, I'm thankful for you both as you continue to be strongly present in my life, into adulthood.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful for Funny: Or, a Remarkably Un-funny Post about Funniness.

Today I'm giving thanks for funny: funny people, funny blogs, funny movies, and funny songs. I love more than anything to laugh, to genuinely laugh, it's what keeps the weeping woohoos at bay and makes life worth living, as much as loving does. Every once in awhile, or maybe all the time, one runs into a person without a sense of humor, a person who looks at you like you're nutty when you laugh maniacally at something you thought was obviously hilarious...my dear departed grandma Eva was one of these souls, although one of the kindest people on earth. Ironically, she was married to Grandpa Max, who had one of the wittiest most brilliant senses of humor I've ever experienced! Pretty much everyone I've met in the blog world has an awesome sense of humor, though, and even if their blog posts are often serious, you can see the spark of wit in their comments. Here are some of my favoritest funny people online, the ones who most often make me laugh right out loud:

Megan, CSI Seattle, Inner Voices, MJ, and a secret favorite, Old Knudsen (who doesn't even know who I am or how often I read him and cackle wildly to myself), and Beast. These folks consistently have the Funny Kevorka.

My sissy is perhaps one of the funniest people alive today. Sometimes when I'm with her I laugh so hard I cry and fall off the couch. And my brother-in-law and Sarge too. And Hedgehog. Ditto my oldest friend AKPW, who often comes out with a sally that will reverberate for days and even weeks. She's let loose with some classics that need no context and will remain genius into eternity. And she's been providing me with these moments of pure joy since we were babies.

I also love low-brow comedy, Sascha Baron Cohen (aka Borat) and and the South Park guys (although just between us, I think a lot of their soapbox rattlings are pretty profound and iconoclastic...). And Woody Allen's "Love and Death."

Also I admit to loving Weird Al Yankovich and The Hanukah Song, which is and will always be a classic of Jewish humor. Also my personal god, Andy Samberg of The Mirror, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Ras Trent.

And now I'll leave you with a gift, for anyone who needs a laugh and hasn't yet experienced the brilliant beacon of hilarity that is...The Onion.

Okay, I may be back later if I remember more funny things and people for you. Right now I have to go to the gym. If you're funny and I forgot to mention you, yell in the comment section.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thankful for Yarn

Today I'm thankful for yarn. It's so lovely.