What I'm Reading

Stardust by Joseph Kanon
Coming out in the fall, the next novel by the author of The Good German. It's so good I kinda want to lick the pages.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pulling a Bookgirl

Sarah called me today to tell me she "pulled a me." Any time one of my friends starts a conversation with "I pulled a you" it means one thing and one thing only. That they fell, publicly, while people were there to see it, in some spectacularly embarrassing way.

It might have something to do with the fact that I fall down. A lot. And that if I can break it, lose it, spill it, or hurt myself with it, I will do just that. Those of you who don't know me well might think I'm exaggerating. I'm not.

My falls take one of two forms: there are the slow falls, the ones where I start going down, and know it's coming but can't stop myself. I usually start giggling before I even hit the ground, and I'm told that I look almost graceful, since I've perfected the art of kind of gliding down to minimize the impact. I once was in a coffee shop in SoHo on a snowy day and slid on the wet floor. I hit the floor, got back up, and didn't even spill a drop of my latte. That was one of my prouder moments. If I had to choose, I like those falls the best. They make people laugh, because I'm laughing so hard. And as long as folks are laughing with me, not at me, we're all good.

The second kind of fall, though, well they just suck. Those are the ones I don't see coming. My friends describe it as "one second you're there, and then you're just gone." I'll be cruising along, not paying attention to where I'm going, and I just go down like a brick. The next thing I know I'm face down on the ground surrounded by onlookers with expressions of horror. Inevitably, someone will try to be helpful and assist me up before I'm ready, and will not let go of my arm. So now I'm floundering on the ground with a complete stranger gripping me, adding insult to the injury. Next time you try to help someone up and they say "I'm fine" what they really mean is "Please, for the love of God, go away so I can start pretending this didn't happen." Those falls are embarrassing. Also, they really hurt. And usually leave me dirty. I hate being dirty.

I was at Polly's once and I spilled coffee, and she said, without irony, "That's okay. We purposely waited until after your visit to have the carpets cleaned." I have one earring and one glove from almost every pair I've ever owned. I once spent all of Mardi Gras with a giant bruise on my head from where I fell out of a bathtub our first night there, and I've seen Disney World from the vantage point of a wheelchair.

Yes, I'm clumsy. And I've resigned myself to the fact that embarrassing and potentially painful experiences are the ones people most closely identify with me. But just once, wouldn't it be nice if someone did something kind, or thoughtful, and referred to it as "pulling a Bookgirl?"

My sister Jean, in a moment of kindness, told me I had to outgrow the clumsiness eventually. But we both knew she was lying. I'm just like our sister Denise. And Denise is in her 50s, still falling on a pretty regular basis. She's had more broken bones then some NFL career starters. It's okay, though. We both have excellent insurance. And a well-developed ability to laugh at ourselves.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

People to See. Social Butterflying To Do.

I know, I know. I've been lousy at posting lately. I got a disgruntled phone call yesterday telling me the caller was "starting to twitch a little" from lack of blog. I'm so proud. I gave someone the DTs.

Lots of exciting things going on around here lately. I got this email Monday afternoon from one of my coworkers:
SATC is shooting downstairs right now. RUN! ;-)

Yes, they were shooting scenes from the Sex and the City movie in my building. Just about every twenty- and thirty-something woman in the company suddenly found an urgent need to wander outside and get some air. As I was leaving the building with 3 of the marketing girls, we saw 4 of the publicists coming back into the building. As we came back in, we saw another group coming out. I have this mental image of the men walking around, seeing all those empty offices, asking, "Where did all the woman go?"
I know the picture is tiny. Sarah Jessica has on the red dress. The yellow jacket is Kim Catrall.You can just see Cynthia Nixon's hair, and Kristen Davis is on the right with the black flowered sundress and the white purse.

Then Monday night, I got to make sushi. I can't even describe how cool that was. In addition to my two book clubs, I also have a supper club of sorts. (Yes, I'm a joiner.) Six of my college friends and I take turns hosting dinner parties. It started organically shortly after college when we had pasta at my friend Ron's house one night, with jarred sauce, sitting on the floor because he didn't have a dining room table. The events (and the furniture) have gotten a little more elaborate since then, and fortunately our collective culinary skills have improved vastly, but by keeping it to just the seven of us, then the dinners never get too big, and no one ever has to be insulted about not being invited, since it's a set group.

Ron and his fiance just got back from a trip to Japan, and before they left they took a sushi-making class to get into the spirit. So they bought us all the supplies, and taught us how to make our own rolls. It was so much fun, and a lot easier than I thought it would be. I even got to make wasabi paste.

Yesterday, my friend Mandy, another of my very best friends from home, came into the city to meet me for dinner. Her husband's consulting on a project in Connecticut (they live in Mass.) and she drove down to visit him for a couple of days with their daughter Delaney and the new baby we'll get to meet in a couple of months. They came into the city to meet me for dinner, and it was so great to see them. We did the Times Square tourist thing, Delaney and Steve got to ride the giant ferris wheel in Toys R Us (Liz, I'll let you ride it if you're really good), and then we went to Hard Rock for dinner since Steve had never been. It turns out Melissa Etheridge was doing a Breast Cancer event there at the same time, so they were playing it on the screens in the restaurant, and Al Gore was there. I know that after all the celebrities I've met, being just in the same building as Al Gore, not even meeting him, shouldn't excite me, but it did.

Also, I found another reason to love Melissa Etheridge. I think it takes a lot of self-confidence to be a celebrity, and to be that real at the same time. She's a middle-aged woman who looks like a middle-aged woman. She has lines on her face, and is a little overweight, and was wearing what could only accurately be described as mom jeans. She looked great, but she looked like anyone else you could see on the street or at the supermarket. We live in a culture where you're supposed to be impossibly thin and unlined and perfect, no matter what age. And for celebrities, that pressure is multiplied exponentially. I love that she just is who she is. You can like it. You can not like it. I get the impression she doesn't much care.

So yes, a little less blogging this week, but a whole lot of fun. I figured you'd all understand. You know what they say. When Bookgirl ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

p.s. I got all my hair chopped off yesterday, and I totally love it. I keep doing the hair flip, just so I can feel it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


My friend Midge has been working really hard at changing her life. (If she were here as I wrote this, she’d want me to add that no, that’s not her real name; no, she’s not an 80-year-old woman; she’s not really a midget; and even though it was bestowed affectionately, she likes this nickname a lot less than I do.) But that’s not the point. The point is that she has been working her ass off at making her life the one she dreams of. She’s doing seminars, taking leadership training, working on changing decades of set patterns in her life.

Even though I tease her about having drunk the Kool-Aid (it was the first seminar that set her on this path), the truth is that I’m really inspired by her. We all have those things about our lives we want to change. The things we complain about while lying on our asses on the couch watching television, doing absolutely nothing about them. But she’s actually going out there and trying to do something about hers. And on top of it all, she’s been doing all sorts of volunteer work, to take the focus off just making herself better and pointing some of that energy outward.

I have a quote from Mahatma Gandhi tucked into my bedroom mirror: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And while I really do agree with the sentiment, sometimes I lose touch with it. I forget that I want to be the person who does things to make other people’s lives a little brighter, not just the person who’s devoted all her non-working hours to getting thinner. I can remember being a teenager and having one of my New Years resolutions be to do something nice for someone every day. Teenage optimism, however, doesn’t always translate well to adulthood.

So with Midge as an inspiration, I researched some volunteer opportunities and spent Tuesday night reading with kids in a homeless shelter. My group was five- and six-year-olds, and absolutely adorable. Of course I fell madly in love with one of them, and briefly considered tucking him into my purse. But that won’t surprise anyone who knows me. It’s funny, really, how selfish it can feel to be unselfish. How I always seem to get more out of the nice gestures than I put in. I’ve been focusing so much on creating less of me that I forgot, for a little while, how good it feels to be more. Thanks, Midge, for the reminder.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Theme Song

A few months ago, I had emailed around to ask people this question: If you had a theme song, what would it be? Mine has, for years, been Make Your Own Kind of Music by Mama Cass. How could I resist the lyrics “Make your own kind of music. Sing your own special song. Make your own kind of music, even when nobody else sings along”??

But wait. There’s more. I can even picture the opening montage if I had my own tv show. It would all be very That Girl—-me frolicking around New York City in a cute little sleeveless swing dress (black, of course, maybe with a flower) carrying a big red umbrella. I’d dance, I’d flirt, maybe jump into a giant puddle. Can’t you just picture it? God, I want opening credits…

Okay, I got a little too wrapped up in that fantasy. Where was I? Right. Theme songs. So what would your theme song be? What puts a little bounce in your step? If you’re facing something that intimidates you, what’s the song that reminds you that you can do anything, accomplish anything? What’s the song that reminds you that you’re you, and being you is just great? Do tell.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

You all know about my quests for the unattainable object. But this one's dangerous. I can't do it on my own. I'm asking for help.

The Burger King kids' meals right now come with the coolest toy ever--teeny little NFL jerseys on suction cups. I hadn't been to Burger King in ages, since it's not exactly compatible with Weight Watchers, but we stopped for lunch on the way to New Hampshire. The kids' meals each came with a teeny jersey, and I was hooked. We got a couple of totally random teams, and one Miami jersey that I personally think should be burned. Ella and Jacques, of course, couldn't care less what colors the jerseys were. They were thrilled. But I found myself thinking "Wouldn't a little Pats jersey look adorable stuck to the back window of my new car? My car's red. It'll even match!" And well, I'm a little obsessed when it comes to things matching. Now I had the idea in my head. And we all know that for Bookgirl, that way lies madness.

So last Tuesday I went to the BK in Rockefeller Center at lunch, and convinced the girl behind the counter to rummage through the box looking for a Pats jersey. They didn't have one. At that point I obviously couldn't leave without ordering something, so I bought my favorite chicken sandwich. How bad can that be, right? 16 points. That's how bad it can be.

Then Saturday I decided to try again at the Burger King in my neighborhood. This time the cashier smirked at me and said "Cheaters" before he looked. Still no jersey. And a cheeseburger and small fries is 13 points, as it turns out.

Now the calories aren't the only reason why this is a bad idea. I've always believed that putting things on your car to make it a target is just stupid, particularly when you park on the street like I do. Every time I see a bumper sticker identifying the driver as gay, I applaud the pride and then wonder, "Aren't you just inviting some drunken asshole to slash your tires on his way home, just because he can?" And given the current situation it's not a great time to be a Pats fan anywhere, but particularly in New York. But that's tomorrow's post.

The point is that I want, no, NEED this jersey. And that's where you come in, my friends. Some of you have kids. Wouldn't your kids really LOVE Burger King for lunch? Or dinner? Or whatever? And wouldn't they love to request the Patriots jersey with their meal, so they can send it to Auntie Bookgirl? Who will, of course, reimburse mommy and daddy for the cost of the meal, shipping, gas to get to BK, whatever. I'm desperate here. My ass is big enough already, and stalking Burger King isn't helping. Besides, they're kids. They're little. They can burn calories faster than I can. Come on. Help a sister out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bookgirl vs. the Towel

I know there hasn't been a Weight Watchers update in a while. I haven't been holding out on you, people. There just hasn't been any good news to share. For the past two weeks I've been slowly working off the weight I gained during my "I'm young and single. Who cares about Weight Watchers??" week. But that's all behind me now. As of today I lost back that weight plus an additional pound, so I'm 16.6 down in 12 weeks. I'm not going to win any races at this speed, but it's a marathon not a sprint. Or at least that's what they tell us to make us feel better.

My beloved Weight Watchers leader is out on maternity leave and today was the first meeting with the new one. I've been known to walk out of a meeting and never come back because I didn't like the leader, so I was a bit wary to say the least. A bad Weight Watchers meeting is like having a therapist you don't like. Going is pointless, because you're not going to get any real work done in that room. I like the people in my meeting. I like the day and time. I didn't want to have to find a new one. But it was all good. Phew. She's funny and smart and energetic, and likes to give out little star stickers as much as I like getting them. We're going to get along just fine.

Today's meeting topic was having big dreams, and setting goals. My redheaded friend has been talking about this on her blog, and I've been thinking about it, so this was the perfect topic for me. My goal is simple. To conquer the gym towel.

I hate that freaking towel. It's little. I'm big. Not a great combination. Me and the towel, we're going to have to take it outside one day. All I want is to be able to wrap it all the way around me. Not mostly around me. Not 3/4 of the way around me so I have to pick which bit of me hangs out. All the way around. Those skinny girls at the gym just tie it around their breasts and get ready, all their personal bits covered while they do their hair. I hate those bitches. And no, just taking a bigger towel from home doesn't count. That's cheating.

So it's on. Me and you Towel, we're going to have a showdown. Be prepared. May the best woman/terry cloth rectangle win.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Quest

Today’s big revelation about myself: I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I know you’re all shocked. I once had a teacher tell my parents, “Bookgirl isn’t good at getting things wrong.” I was six. Yes, little Bookgirl was essentially grown-up Bookgirl, except shorter. And without the boobs.

That search for perfection, combined with a vivid imagination, well it’s gotten me into trouble over the years. I’ll get something in my head. Something I want desperately. Nothing but that particular thing will do. And that’s when the quest begins.

My bathroom walls were blank for a year and a half after my last roommate moved out, because I had a vision in my head of what I wanted. I wanted the perfect art to match the pretty dark red bath mat. Changing the bath mat was nonnegotiable. They had to match. They had to call out to me. And nothing I saw in any store, street vendor, or website fit that vision. I finally found prints in Seattle, when my friend Danielle took me shopping. Not only are they perfect, I get fond memories of a great vacation every time I walk in the room. It was worth the wait.
When I was a teenager, my poor mother got the worst of it. I’d make my Christmas list every year, and there’d be some starred item, something I REALLY wanted. It was always something smallish, not very expensive, so my mom would go to all sorts of lengths to find it for me. One year it was the forest green Chuck Taylor All-Stars she finally found in a navy surplus store an hour away. Another year, it was green and white striped tights. I had black and white, and I loved them.
But I really wanted green stripes too. My mom searched. And searched. And searched. Finally, on Christmas morning, after I opened my presents, she apologetically told me she couldn’t find them. Where, for the love of God, had I seen them? At which point I explained that I had never seen them. Ever. Anywhere. Not on someone. Not in a store. But the Strawberry Shortcake dolls had them. And the witch in the Wizard of Oz. And wouldn’t that be cool??
Needless to say, as an adult she requires careful annotation from me at Christmastime—exactly what I want, from where, in what size and color if applicable. Some years I’ll send her an email with the subject line “Buy me for Christmas” and a link to buy exactly what I want. She likes those years best.

So now we come to my current quest, the search that has me looking high and low in every home and kitchen shop in three states. It started with the curtains. My mom made me forest green gingham curtains when I moved into my apartment. (It was 1998. Forest green was the height of cool. I loved them.) But by last year, they were getting a little tired. So the search began. We looked at fabrics and curtains, and nothing was quite right. Until I found The Ones. The catch was they were just panels. And they were 82” long. Not quite right for the kitchen window. So I bought two of them, and mom trimmed them down to the right size. And then she used the extra fabric to make a valance and matching placemats. Yes, I’m spoiled. Horribly.

So the curtains are in place, and they’re perfect. But the kitchen accessories are all still forest green. Wouldn’t it be great if I replaced the trash can and dish drainer with pretty hot pink ones? In theory, yes. I’ve tried everything—home stores, department stores, The Container Store. Even Target failed me. And Target never fails me. I emailed every friend who had either filled out a gift registry or bought a new house in the last two years. Someone had to have seen them, right? Wrong. So I make do with my second-best, forest green trash can, resenting it a little every time I look at it. But the quest continues. I have hope.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I am incredibly lucky. For me, unlike so many other New Yorkers, yesterday isn’t a day where I have to remember a loved one, to grieve a family member or friend lost. My family was all tucked away in their safe little suburbs. My friends all got out and got to safety before the buildings came down. I am incredibly lucky.

That first anniversary, a friend from another city sent me one of those “never forget” emails. And I pretty much exploded. Maybe the rest of the country needed to remember, but it wasn’t history here in New York. It was still happening every day. The sights and sounds and smells were still so vivid in my mind that I wasn’t sure I’d ever get them to go away for a little while, let alone forever. We were still having anxiety attacks at too many sets of sirens too close together, having our bags checked every time we entered a public building, passing barriers and police blockades and National Guardsmen every time we left our apartments.

The woman who lived 2 apartments down from me was one of the victims. For months, there were flowers taped around the tree in our front yard, with candles and the missing posters that had been posted around the city for her, as they were for so many others. Each year on the anniversary, someone tapes flowers for her to that tree. For the first few years the missing posters were added. Some years there were yellow ribbons. This year, even though her family has moved from the building, it’s the flowers and a simple note.

For many of us, yesterday was mostly a regular day. We are the lucky ones. We go to work, attend meetings, live our lives. But in our own quiet ways, we remember.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Opening Day

Hey kids! Guess what I did yesterday. I'll give you a hint:

Yes, I got to see the Patriots season opener. Now I'd like to begin by apologizing to all of you who started reading me during the off-season, when the blog was foufy and girlie 100% of the time, and really could care less about football. But I promise that there will be plenty of girly, foufy posts to go around. And football season is only six months long.

Now back to the football. My friend Tara has Jets season tickets, and brings me with her every year for the Patriots game. I really love that about her. There have been years when the New York game was in December, and we were all wearing six layers, and it was almost too cold for beer. Don't worry. I said almost. We New Englanders are hearty. But on years like this one, well it's about as perfect as it gets. Wearing shorts and tank tops, sipping beer (I would never guzzle. It's not ladylike). And the first game, when the weather's gorgeous, well that just brings out the competitive tailgater in each fan. Who has the most elaborate setup? Whose tents are highest, flags are biggest, horns are loudest? Who can stake out the best spot, and cram the most stuff onto it? My friends got there at 7:30 to claim their turf. They've been refining the process over the years, and at this point have accomodations that might be nicer than my apartment--2 tents, a television, 3 coolers, a grill, tables, folding chairs, a bean bag toss game that's fancy enough to attract passers-by. I'm not going to lie. I feel cool just being there. We had snacks and steaks, chili and shellfish, a platter of sushi, and someone brought a small keg. Now that they've put in trailers with flush toilets for the girls, I could happily live in that parking lot.

And that's all before the game even starts. There's something about the energy of walking into a stadium on any game day, but especially opening day. Everyone's so hopeful, so positive that this could be the year. The crowds are chanting. Guys are hugging, shaking hands, slapping one another on the back. They've all become friends, sitting together in the same seats year after year. They have the whole off season to catch up on. Who got married, whose wife is expecting a baby, who lost weight. (Okay, that last observation was all me and Tara. The guys don't notice shit like that.) Oh, how I love the energy.

Of course, then the game started. The Patriots crushed the Jets. The energy died right quick. If you look at the picture up top, you'll see that pretty much the whole stadium was empty by the middle of the fourth quarter. Even my friends left me there alone to watch the end of the game. But you know what? They're going to be back there in 2 weeks for the next home game, hauling out their gear and cheering on their team with all their hearts. Oh, yes. I love me some football.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Boys

Does anyone else watch the show My Boys on TBS? It’s one of my favorite shows on television. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not one of those tv snobs who only watches one or two shows. We watch a lot of television in my house, and get every single penny out of our DVR. So the bar might not be set as high for me as it is for some. But still, I love this show.

My Boys centers around P.J., a twenty-something sportswriter who covers the Cubs, and her close-knit group of guy friends. Great characters, sports, and sarcasm—it’s like a show made in Bookgirl heaven. I can’t entirely relate, because I’ve always been the kind of girl who spends most of my time with other girls. I grew up in an all-female family, joined a sorority as soon as I could in college, and even was placed in the all-female dorm as an R.A. I work in book publishing, not exactly a bastion of the straight man. But I don’t have superpowers either, and I still like Heroes.

The friends are a laid-back, slightly dorky group whose social life revolves around poker night at P.J.’s apartment and hanging out at the local Irish pub. In a recent episode, when one of their friends goes over to the dark side—turning into a hipster club kid—they do the only logical thing under the circumstances. They hold a douchebag intervention. Brilliant. Just freaking brilliant. When was the last time you heard the word “douchebag” on television? Not just once, repeatedly. In almost every episode. And this is basic cable. I love the witty dialogue, the banter, the hot friend eye candy. But this episode alone is enough to win me as a fan for life.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bitter? Moi?

Do you ever have an issue from your childhood? One that you thought you had long since put away for good, right up until it comes up and smacks you in the face? It turns out that pretty much the entire state of New Hampshire is that issue for me.

When I was growing up, we took two trips to Disney World, one when I was five and the other the summer before I started junior high. Every other vacation we ever took as a family was either camping locally and taking day trips around southern New England or going to the White Mountains. There was never any deviation. Now I know I have a reputation for exaggerating, so let me clarify. When I say never, I don’t mean mostly never. I don’t mean occasionally. I mean really for truly never.

My parents love New Hampshire. And they love to mountain climb. As far as they were concerned the highlight of the trip was spending at least a few different days hiking up a mountain somewhere, looking at the view from the top, and coming back down. I’m sure there are kids out there for whom that’s a dream vacation. But I was not that kid. I was chubby, unathletic, and bookish. And I hated climbing those mountains.

I mostly liked going to New Hampshire. What kid doesn’t love vacation? We would camp right on the river, and ride the current on our SuperTubes. After my sister was too old to come with us, and before my niece and nephew started coming, there were a few years when I was allowed to bring a friend. There were theme parks and outlet shopping, and it was the one time of year my mother let me eat Cocoa Krispies for breakfast. When I look back on these vacations, there’s a lot of nostalgia, a lot of happy memories. But what I remember most vividly is the abject misery. Being yelled at by my father once I was a teenager and could do nothing right, being dragged along on outings that I absolutely loathed, huffing and puffing and hiking my fat little adolescent body up mountain after mountain. My parents still do these vacations, and they were trying to remember which one was the last I came on. My dad made the mistake of asking me.

“It was the summer after college. The year I had an anxiety attack in the middle of the mountain and you all kept going and left me there. I’m still bitter.” And you know what? I really am. That week was the single worst vacation of my life. I was 2 months out of college, living back at home and working a horrible data-entry job until I got up the nerve to start looking for jobs in New York. Even though I was working full time, my dad was furious that I wasn’t using my degree, and he was absolutely terrible to me. While he and I had always butted heads, that summer was the only time before or since he’s ever been deliberately mean. I’d be talking, and he’d talk over me like I wasn’t there. Once I called him on it, he stopped. From then on, if I was speaking he’d just walk out of the room. My sister and her family were on this same vacation, and I didn’t get to pick anything we did, anywhere we went, or anything we ate the entire trip. My father made me pay my own way when we did things to make a point. Every time I was alone, I just cried and cried. I cried in bathrooms. I cried in bed. I cried in stores when my family were in different aisles. My only request the entire week was that we go out one night for seafood for dinner. On the last night of the trip, my parents and I went out just the three of us. I was so excited that we were finally going to do something I wanted to. And then my father pulled into a barbecue restaurant. I was 22 years old, and I sobbed through the entire meal. It’s ten years later, and I have tears rolling down my face as I write this. I have never felt so unimportant and insignificant in my life. And until last week, I never went back to New Hampshire again.

I wish I could say that going back as an adult made all the old hurt go away, but that would clearly be a lie. I’m not sure if I even realized how much hurt there was until it all came back again. But it was wonderful to go there on my own terms. To know that unless I choose to, I will never have to climb another mountain. To drive by all those places we used to go and appreciate the happy memories, remember the fun times.

More than anything else I wish I could go back in time and see that 22-year-old, to let her know that she’s going to be okay. That she’s going to do it in her own time and her own way, but in a few months she’s going to make that move to New York, to take her dream job. That her father is wrong about her, and some day he’ll see it. That it’ll take years but eventually he’s going to treat her with respect, and they’ll have a great relationship. That she’s going to be strong and independent and happier than she can even dream at this age. She’s going to be more than okay; she’s going to be great.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Introducing Ruby

The line that came out of my mouth most often this weekend, besides “I love you,” (No one in my life ever has to wonder. I believe in reminding them constantly.) was “Um, did I mention I have a car??” I’m not sure that there are words to describe my excitement at getting my independence back, at being able to go wherever I want without having to call a friend or family member to pick me up at the train or bus on the other end.

What’s more, I can actually drive her in reverse now! Yes, for the first couple hours, I could only go forward. It seems she has a safety, and you can only go into reverse if you push the gearshift in. It took me a very long time to figure that out, including driving over Mr. Sarah’s freshly planted lawn (love you, mean it!) and only parking in places I could pull out of. Not my finest moment.

But yes, I have a car. One I can now drive in all directions. It has a sun roof. See?

And a radio that... wait for it... ACTUALLY WORKS! She doesn’t leak in the rain like the old car did either. There are a few things that are still giant question marks, but I curled up in bed this weekend with Ella and the owner’s manual, and I think I’ve got most of the gadgets figured out. Oh, and the windows open and the doors lock without having to do it by hand. Evidently there are cars that can do those things by just pressing a button. It’s even got one of those new-fangled air conditioner thingies. Very high-tech and exciting.

Of course, because I am, after all, me, she also had 225 dollars worth of parking tickets within the first 12 hours I had her back in the city. See, it seems in New York you’re only allowed to put the registration sticker in one specific spot on your windshield. No deviation is allowed. Must be that spot. The spot I put mine, alas, was not that spot. Ticket #1. I parked in a school zone, so I had to move her by 8 am. Not a problem, since I was bringing her to get inspected before work. Unfortunately, I lost track of time and got there 10 minutes late. Ticket #2. And for the piece de la resistance, when I got there, my beautiful new car, the one I had owned for all of 4 days by this point, was hooked up to a tow truck. Ticket #3, as a result of #s 1 and 2. Fortunately I got there before they pulled away, so they let me get in the car and wait for an hour for a field supervisor to come release the car to me. If I had gotten there 5 minutes later and she had been gone, the odds of my having a full-on breakdown right there on 82nd Street are better than average, to say the least. It wouldn't have been pretty.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Shoe Slut

Today's shoes are possibly my very favorite pair. The day I bought them, my sister Celeste declared them "the ugliest shoes she's ever seen." Hmph. Her taste has been suspect ever since, as far as I'm concerned.

p.s. One more funny Ella story from this weekend. I was undressing to take a shower, and Ella insisted on coming in the bathroom with me. She stared at me for a second, then stared down at herself and said, "I have little boobies." Then when I turned around to get in the shower, she spotted my tattoo. I have a tiny little red heart on my butt, just like a Care Bear does.
(Sorry for the blurriness. Have you ever tried to take a picture of your own butt?? Not easy, I tell you.) "Hey!" she asked me, "where'd you get the sticker??"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Big Girls' Weekend

I’m back from New Hampshire! You know those vacations that you work up so much in your head ahead of time that you’re disappointed in the actual thing? That was not this trip. The bar was set sky-high, and the weekend was still so much better than anything we could have expected. It was perfect and magical and something I think we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives.

Even though Sarah has six kids, we only took two of them, Ella and Jacques. The 2 big boys are too old for Story Land, the baby is too little, and Luc started kindergarten yesterday and was just too freaked out over it to leave his daddy's side this weekend. So we ended up with a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, which is just about perfect as far as I'm concerned.

There were some major milestones on this trip. In our 15+ years of friendship, Sarah and I have traveled together a lot. But it was always with my family or hers, or one of us staying at each other's house. This was the first time we planned a trip together and went, just us and the kids. Sarah's been a stay-at-home mom for a long time, and she just went back to work in the same maternity ward where she had her babies, "catching" other people's. So she got to pay for the trip with her own money, that she earned herself. I got my new car, the very first one that I picked out and paid for myself. (Ruby will be getting a whole entry on her own soon.) Sarah got the tattoo that she's been wanting for a while. Ella turned three, and the binkie fairy came during the night, to take away all her binkies and give them to the newborn babies at Mama's hospital. (I don't have any pictures of Ella blowing out candles, because she was on my lap, telling me "Me and you. Me and you will blow out the candles.) It was a big girls' weekend all around.

I am, impossibly, even more in love with my goddaughter than I was at the beginning of the weekend. She would come up to me every so often and put her nose against mine and her forehead against mine, and just nuzzle against me, loving me. Bags and bags of gold for that kid. When I sang to her, she'd put her hands on either side of my face, stare into my eyes, and just move her head back and forth to the music. She's a bundle of mush. Of course, that bundle can sometimes be wrapped up in a mighty witchy package, but what can you expect from someone who has me and Sarah as her primary female influences? One morning at breakfast she was mad at us, and she went around the table pointing at Sarah, Jacques, and I one at a time, saying, "I don't like you. And you. And you." But when I pretended to be sad, she tapped me on the arm and said, "It's okay. I like you now."

Story Land was amazing. The oldest parts of the park have been there for more than 50 years, and they're built around the nursery rhymes. Mother Goose is there, Humpty Dumpty, the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe. Then you enter into Cinderella's kingdom, where Jacques got to take his picture with a REAL KNIGHT'S ARMOR. (He might have mentioned that a time or 80.) Ella had Cinderella wish her a happy birthday. She and I took a picture with that other godmother's wand. And lest you think it was all about the kids, Sarah and I did have a threesome with a giant cock.

We laughed and played and snuggled and swam, and it was the perfect ending to what has been an amazing summer. I even had some special pictures taken while Sarah was getting her tattoo. I always knew those kids were trouble.