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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

So This Is What Hell Looks Like…

In college, I had a theory that if I ever died and went to Hell, it would be an eternity in Kinko’s during finals week. (I still shudder at the memory.) And for all these years, I’ve held firm by that belief. But no, as it turns out that’s not the case. What Hell REALLY looks like is the midtown Manhattan DMV.

The woman in front of me gave a 15-minute dissertation on who had died and left the car behind, and who it was left to, and who needed it now and... It was like Who’s on First. Except not funny. And I was stuck behind her.

The woman in front of HER spoke so little English that she was walking up to other Asian people at random and asking if they understood and could help her. She must have found someone who spoke the same language she did, because after the fourth or fifth try, a complete stranger translated for her. Keep in mind this was just for the guy you have the 15-second conversation with to explain what you need, so he knows where to send you. Now feel free to disagree with me, but if you don’t speak enough English to explain why you’re at the registry, isn’t it dangerous for you to be driving? How do you read signs? What happens if we get in an accident? What about if you get pulled over? And that whole question aside, WHY DIDN’T YOU BRING SOMEONE WITH YOU?? My grandmother lived in this country for almost 50 years and just flat-out refused to ever learn English (Yes, I come by my stubbornness honestly.), but she also never would have gone somewhere like the registry by herself.

But all that’s beside the point now, because I’ve got the license plates in my hot little hands.
I’m heading to Massachusetts tomorrow to pick up the new car, and then we’re breaking her in with her very first road trip. Sarah and I are taking Ella and Jacques (ages 3 and 7) to Story Land in New Hampshire for their birthdays. It’s one of those amusement parks that every kid from New England went to on vacation, and I really wanted to be the one to take Ella for the first time. (By the same reasoning that made me buy her a Barbie and a Cabbage Patch Kid by the time she was 3 months, so no one else could do it before I did. I’m the godmother, dammit.)

I’ll be back Tuesday, with lots of pictures of the kids and the mountains and the car. Try not to miss me too much in the meantime.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Powder Puffs


Actual conversation from this weekend:
Guy at party: I can’t wait for football season to start.
Me: Me either.
Guy: Yeah, right.
Me: No, seriously. Me either.

Yes, I’m a girlie girl. I love shoes and make-up and anything pink. Sometimes I paint my nails while I watch the game. But I love me some football. And tonight’s my fantasy draft. I’m a little nervous—this is the first time we’ve done a live draft. I’m used to doing it at home, in front of my computer, where no one can see me frantically pawing through lists and doing last minute NFL.com searches before I make my pick. I have second pick this year, which should make me happy, but I had first pick last year and came in last in the league, so I’m not counting unhatched chickens. (Damn you, Madden Curse. Damn you!)

The actual season kickoff may be next week, but my season starts tonight. My team, as it is every year, is the Providence Powder Puffs, for the sheer pleasure of imagining one of the guys in the league having to tell his buddy, “Dude, I lost to the Powder Puffs this weekend.” He he he. That’s not going to stop being funny any time soon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Social Life 1; Weight Watchers 0


For me, the hardest part about Weight Watchers is trying to find a balance between weight loss and maintaining a social life. I’m serious about losing weight, but I’m not willing to give up girls’ nights or part ways with my good friend Margarita.

I feel like I’m usually pretty good at the give and take of it. This week, not so much. I had 2 lunches, a film screening for The Nanny Diaries with the authors (Fabulous. Go see it. Now.), margarita Friday ($3 margaritas, I have no self-control. You do the math.), a girls’ night out for 2 friends’ birthdays, what could technically be called a barbecue but instead devolved into roughly 13 straight hours of drinking beer and eating red meat, and dinner with a friend. And that’s all since Wednesday. Even if you do 2-hour workouts, the gym simply cannot make up for that kind of abuse. I only gained 1.4 pounds, though, so obviously the workouts did some damage control. Thank you, Earl.

As some of you know, Polly-my-best-friend-in-California is fascinated by/obsessed with personality types. The beauty of having a best friend with her personality type is that she's willing to do hours and hours of research on my type to figure me out, and to be the best friend possible. Mostly I smile and nod (I debated putting that part in, but you know me too well to be surprised, Pol), but she found out something fascinating about my type this week. Evidently, mine has the single hardest time with weight loss because we're such social creatures, so we don't want to miss out on anything. We hate feeling like we're missing out on a party or gathering or experience by not joining in whole hog (which for me always ends up meaning 20 points in liquor). Also, the vast majority of people in eating disorder programs are my type. I find this information totally liberating, because it means it's not my fault that this is such a struggle. I'm hard-wired that way. While it doesn't mean I can give up the fight, it does mean I can stop beating myself up over it a little bit. Which just may have been what Polly's been telling me all along about this personality stuff.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Been a Long Time Gone... Constantinople

Polly and Diosa have been talking about music lately, and I decided to join in the fun. I’ve heard that for most people smell is the sense most strongly linked to memory, but for me it’s definitely sound. There are songs that can transport me back instantly to a time and place. I can remember the song I danced with my first love to at my senior prom (SWV’s Weak). Purple Haze brings me back to summers at camp, listening for hours to the guys I grew up with jamming in the rec hall. Polly and I first became friends in junior high over a philosophical discussion of Stairway to Heaven. Ever seen Dawson’s Creek? We were those teenagers.

I was out to lunch at Chat ‘n’ Chew, one of those hip, too-laid-back-to-be-trendy kind of restaurants, the kind that always have the best music, and The Cure’s Pictures of You came on. Suddenly I was seventeen again, driving my parents’ car around Woonsocket, listening to the Disintegration album like we were the first generation to ever discover angst.

I think that the music of my teens will forever be the most vivid in my mind, and closest to my heart, because in my high school at least, music was what defined you. Back before “Alternative” was a label, we were the “Progressives.” The boys listened to the Misfits and the Dead Kennedys. The girls listened to The Smiths, The Indigo Girls, and 10,000 Maniacs. Everyone listened to The Cure and the Femmes, of course. We wore earth day t-shirts with tights and plaid, pleated skirts. Your Doc Martens were your entry card to the group, and back then you had to go to a cool neighborhood to buy them. There were no Docs at the mall. The hip-hop loving crowd would clear the floor for us at school dances when Rock Lobster or Why Can’t I Be You? came on. The cafeteria was our mosh pit, and we would dance until we collapsed, sweaty and breathless.

Although I’ve upgraded most of my favorites to CD, I can’t bear to get rid of my old cassettes: They Might Be Giants, They Eat Their Own, The La’s. They’re old friends, and I want to keep them close by, just in case I need them. I love my life, and there’s nothing that could make me want to be a teenager again. I like being able to make my own rules and call my own shots, thank you very much. But sometimes it’s nice to pretend, just for a minute, that my girlfriends are all within walking distance, that we have the time to spend hours talking about music and watching Pretty in Pink for the fortieth time, that nothing can touch us in our tight little circle.

p.s. I owe you one, ladies. I can't remember the last time I had this much fun researching a blog entry.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Glad We Have Our Priorities Straight

R.L. White, president of the Atlanta NAACP, gave a statement yesterday saying that Michael Vick should be allowed to return to football. And I sincerely hope that someone higher up in the chain of command chewed that guy a new asshole. When I first heard about it I just read the headline, as so many people do, and I thought that the NAACP as an organization had made this show of support. And all I could think was Seriously?!??!? THIS is what you’re choosing to focus on?? With everything going on in the world, this is where you’re devoting your time and resources?

According to their website, “The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”

Michael Vick screwed up. He broke the law, he admitted he did it, he completely derailed his career. There was no injustice done to him. HE SCREWED UP. Do I think he should be allowed to play ball again? Sure. If he comes out of prison and a team decides he’s worth the risk and the media shitstorm, then all the power to him. He’ll serve his time, and then he gets to start over. Isn’t that the ideal of the American justice system?

But as fas as I’m concerned, whether or not he plays again isn’t really the point. The fact that an advocacy group chose this cause to champion is. Is that really what the NAACP was created for? To stand up behind millionaire athletes who shot themselves in the foot without any help from anyone else? They do good work, they help real people every day with real struggles, they give a voice to people who may not be heard. This is not one of those situations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Addiction


This topic has come up in conversation twice in the past week, so I figured why not just put my dirty laundry out there for everyone to read? For ten years, from high school until my mid-twenties, I was bulimic. If you knew me during that period and had no clue, you’re in good company. With a few exceptions, no one else did either. I am excellent at maintaining a fa├žade. Or lying, depending on your point of view.

Someone asked me recently how I could do it, how I could bring myself to vomit. But what’s impossible to explain unless you’ve experienced it is that I didn’t force myself to do it. I CRAVED it. A counselor I saw once, when I was sixteen and we still thought it was a passing phase, explained it best: You can’t be upset and throw up at the same time. Your body can’t process both, so it has to shut down the emotions. While the root of my bulimia was in my lack of physical self-confidence, in my dissatisfaction with my body, that soon became such a small part of the picture. It’s been years since I binged with the intention of purging, but I still miss the purging part.

In the same way that someone who hasn’t had a drink in twenty years will always be an alcoholic, I will be bulimic for the rest of my life. A few years ago I got into a fight with one of my friends, which turned into a war. The battle was fought for years, with casualties on both sides. And every time she walked into a party I was at, I went into the bathroom, vomited, and had to go home. Even now, when I get upset, the worst part is not necessarily the upset, it’s the bone-deep knowledge that if I just let myself slip back into my old ways, it would fix it. It might not fix the problem, but it would make me feel better. Immediately. Sometimes I’m not even sure which is the cause of my tears—the initial issue, or the frustration that after all these years and all this work and all that freaking therapy, that this is where my body immediately goes. To an upset stomach and a voice in my ear telling me “Just do it. You’ll feel better.”

Every time I stopped, when I was positive that I had beaten it, for real this time, I would tell a few people. My older sisters. My closest friends. I figured that if they knew, then it couldn’t happen again. Like saying the words somehow made it taboo in a way that my self-loathing didn’t. It didn’t work, of course. Anyone who’s ever battled an addiction knows that fear of exposure and shame aren’t enough to actually stop you. But they watched me, and they called me on it when I started again, and they made sure I couldn’t hide it. I think that’s what kept me from ever seriously hurting myself, or from ending up in the hospital, and why I eventually was able to beat it as much as I have. Those people never let me just sink down into the dark with the bulimia. They made me face it and talk about it, and expose it. And addictions don’t flourish well in the light.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shoe Slut


The Shoe Slut feature was conceived entirely as a vehicle for me to show off this new pair of shoes. They’ve been in my apartment, waiting patiently for a day that felt fall-like enough for me to wear them. Today was that day. (Actually, yesterday was, but the shoes got trumped by my Weight Watchers milestone. I love the shoes, but all I had to do was plunk down my debit card for them. I EARNED the fifteen pounds.)

I had gone into my favorite outlet store, the only place I’ll buy gym socks because they have the perfect blend of function, comfort, and cute little embroidered designs. You didn’t expect me to work out in plain white socks, did you? While I was there I decided to breeze through the shoe section, and there they were. They were calling my name. Polly can vouch. She was on the phone with me at the time, and I spoke about them in a voice I normally reserve for Lindt truffles and muscular bald men. They didn’t have my size, and I was about to leave disappointed when I saw one pair mis-shelved. It was clear. God wanted me to have these shoes. I put them on, and that was it. They made me feel sexy and pretty and feminine. And they hardly hurt at all, which given my tendency to choose style over comfort is pretty much a slam dunk.

I wore them with all black, naturally, and kept popping into other women’s offices to show them off. The beauty of working in marketing is that my coworkers can really appreciate an accessory. One friend even asked to touch them. Now that’s a sign of a good shoe.

p.s. I took the picture in my office window so you could see part of my view. In case you were beginning to wonder if I was lying and really blogging from like Omaha or something.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Milestone Monday/Weight Watchers Ain't Easy


It's a real milestone today, kids. Not like last week's fake one. I'm down 2 more pounds this week, for a total of 15.6. I've crossed the 15-pound mark in 8 weeks. My Weight Watchers leader asked me to tell the group how I was doing it. And I'm not going to lie. Weight Watchers is HARD. I know anything worthwhile is supposed to be difficult, but seriously, if someone out there has a weight loss wand they can just wave at me, I'd much rather choose that option.

It's not as hard as it has been in the past, as evidenced by the fact that I'm actually doing it and not just saying I am. I dug out my old Weight Watchers books from the file cabinet this weekend, and I found a bunch of examples where I spent a few months and a couple of hundred dollars to end up weighing more than I started. Nice. If you ever feel like paying someone to help you gain 12 pounds, I'm your girl.

There are all the different pieces that go into it: the working out, the walking, the planning ahead, writing down everything I eat, drinking enough water to save a drought-stricken country, the incessant peeing. But most of all it's the food. The picture here might look to you like what you'd pack to go camping, but no, that's just what I have to bring to get through the day without cheating. I leave my house at 8 am, and often don't get home from the gym until 9:30, and I'm always about a second away from just saying "fuck it" and grabbing a Twix bar from the vending machine. It's like Weight Watchers Survivor. What do I have to pack to get through the day without eating junkfood, turning into a raving bitch, or jumping on the woman eating the candy bar next to me on the subway and screaming, "Mine!!!!" I dedicate one weekend morning to cooking vegetables so I have them for the week, and on Sunday I cooked a spaghetti squash, a cauliflower, a brocolli, a couple pounds of brussel sprouts, and cut up half a watermelon. If you and your entire extended family ever decide to stop by unexpectedly for dinner, we could all eat comfortably.

Right around the time I was starting Weight Watchers, one of our friends had someone call her a fatty to her face. Now she said it like it was a joke, but every woman knows there's no way to spin that. That's just vicious. So of course, having our warped sense of humor, Sarah and I just can't let it go. She made up a weight loss cheer for me: "Go Chrissy, go Chrissy, you're not a fatty." And every Monday when I call her with the week's results, she doesn't even say hello. She sees it's me and answers the phone with, "Who's not a fatty?" Yes, Weight Watchers is hard. But being able to mock it makes the whole process a lot easier.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Earl


This is the part of the blog where Bookgirl makes an irresponsible decision, but you all pretend it’s a good one. Let’s call you what I need you to be: enablers.

My computer at home hasn’t been working lately, so I decided to buy a new one with the money I don’t really have. I thought about what I wanted, I researched laptops, I debated exactly what I needed this computer to do, I questioned whether I could justify the cost of a new one. And then I spent the money (which again, I don’t really have) on a trainer at the gym instead.

This trainer had come up to me once while I was working out and basically said, “You’re doing that all wrong.” But he said it in such a nice way (and with such a pretty accent) that I wasn’t insulted. And then he went around the gym with me showing me exercises that were better for my body. I got lazy and eventually stopped working out, as these things go. But then when I got back into the groove this summer, I saw him there one day. The seed was planted. Should I get him to train me? And then something sealed the deal in a way nothing else could have. I didn’t see him again for months. Let’s face it, ladies. There’s nothing I want more than something I can’t have.

This, I’m sorry to say, is where the stalking set in. I tried showing up at different times to find him. I cornered the girl at the front desk and described him in detail until she finally figured out who I was talking about and could tell me his name. For the sake of the story we’ll call the trainer Earl. Because it sounds cool. Also because it’s his name.

So this week, finally, FINALLY, Earl and I were at the gym at the same time. Our eyes met. I sidled over to him and said, in my sexiest voice, “Hey baby, you looking for a girl?” (Okay, really I said “Can you come over when you have a sec. I want to buy some sessions,” but the first version sounded way better, right?) Now deep down, I know that he can’t possibly live up to the hype. It’s going to be like every time that hot guy I’ve been fantasizing over finally talks to me and I realize he’s dumb as a stump. But right now, I have the best thing of all: hope. I’m quite sure that Earl, I, and my new body will be quite happy together. Let’s hope he doesn’t work me so hard that I have to go all Dixie Chicks on him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shoe Slut 2


I love today's shoes. And what's more, they're a source of a good memory. Diosa and our friend Amy, with whom we've been friends since the second or third grade, came to New York to spend a weekend with me. We saw Sweet Charity on Broadway and went to nice restaurants and wandered around the city. And Amy was pregnant at the time, which made it all the more special. We had one of those perfect girls' weekends, the kind that just make me feel lucky to be me. And in some teeny little shoe store in Chelsea, I found these shoes. I love pink. I love flowered anything. I love shoes. It's like the perfect storm.

p.s. I was going to crop out the background, but since you've all heard stories about what a train wreck my office is, I decided to leave it in so you knew I wasn't exxagerating. Also, to make you feel better in case you were beginning to worry I was perfect. (Stop giggling!!!) My boss came into my office when I got back from vacation and said, "I thought something wasn't right. I could see the carpet in here. But then someone reminded me that you were away and had shipped out all the books before you left. That made more sense." Thanks, Mr. Bossman.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Remembering Vikki



I know there are people for whom their college sorority is ancient history, just a group of women they were friends with when they were young. I am not one of those people. Ten years after college, my sorority sisters are still the women who take me out for every birthday, who let me spend holidays with their families when I can’t be with mine, who share my good news and bad, who pick out bridesmaid dresses for me to wear or scripture to read at their weddings. They are, in every way, my New York family. And when things go right or wrong for any one of us, there we all are: at weddings, funerals, bars, barbecues, birthdays, showers, and hospitals. For me to go a day without texting or calling or emailing at least one of them is rare. For me to go a week is almost unheard of.

But now we’ve lost one of our own. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about it, or even if I should. I wasn’t as close to her as some of my other friends were, and it didn’t feel like my story to tell. But isn’t it everyone’s job, as part of a group, to add their talents to the whole? To do what they’re good at? I’m the writer. So I write.

Vikki was beautiful and funny and smart. She was wildly popular, knew everyone in every fraternity and sorority on campus. She chaired philanthropy events, was president of Panhel (the governing body of all the sororities). She had what felt like a permanent spot up on the ledge overlooking McHebe’s, our favorite bar, where she would talk to everyone who came by. She was so incredibly full of life. The fact that she died so young is wrong and senseless and crazy and just… so… sad.

When I first got the call that the police had found her body, it was shocking, but there were ways to not think about it. There were phone calls to make, people to tell, friends to console. But the next day I called one of my sisters and asked her, “Did that really happen? I didn’t dream it?” And it seems that’s one of the feelings everyone else has been stuck on too—the sheer unreality of it. The feeling that this can’t really be happening. Things like this happen in Law & Order, not in real life. And certainly not to us. Our lives have no place for words like police and autopsy and ashes.

The funeral was yesterday, and sisters came. They came in from neighboring states. Two couldn’t find babysitters, so they brought their children and took turns coming in so neither had to stay home. Sisters who pledged after she graduated, who maybe only met her a handful of times, came to pay their respects. And that was the one thing in all of this that DIDN’T shock me. Because that’s what we do.

One of our sisters, Vikki’s best friend, got married in June, and that was the last time we saw her. And I’m so glad that’s the memory we get to keep as our final one. All of us laughing and dancing and teasing one another, and just enjoying being together. Coming together for something as purely joyful and hopeful as a wedding. I like to think that if she could have picked that last memory for us, that’s exactly how she would have wanted it.

I know there are a lot of sisters who read this. I'd love it if you added a comment with a memory of or a story about Vikki.

Milestone Muesday

I didn't get to go to Weight Watchers yesterday because I had a funeral. Which is the same reason I haven't been writing. I can't bring myself to write about her, but I can't write about anything else either.

I weighed in this morning on the way to work to cheer myself up, and I lost 2.6 pounds. 13.6 total. No, it's not a milestone, but it's the only positive I have going this morning, so I decided to bend the rules a little.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Poooooor... Me


My sisters and I have this thing we do. When we’re having a bad day, we call each other and say “I need a poor you.” Now, there is one and only one acceptable response to that. It’s an immediate, heartfelt, drawn out “Poooooooor you.” Followed by a session in which the aggreived sister gets to vent

And I could use a poor you right now. (I'll wait.)
Okay, here’s the venting part:

• It’s been hot here. Mind-numbingly, clothes wet when you take them off, 100% humidity hot. Power walking is NOT supposed to make you queasy.
• I ate soup, a salad, and a fiber bar for lunch. Why, you might ask? Because I’m a moron. The rumbling coming from my stomach is actually drowning out my radio. Fiber is good. That much fiber is not.
• My shower broke. Now, if Murphy’s Law had an official bathroom, it would be mine. It’s been regrouted, replastered, and in general redone every couple of years because it was leaking. Again. I woke up one morning, I swear to God, with mushrooms growing from the wall. Not okay. The good news is that my shower is not currently leaking. The bad news is that it’s not working either. There’s just the faintest trickle of water from the shower head. I actually got pissed off yesterday, got down on my hands and knees, and rinsed the conditioner from my hair with the tub faucet, which fortunately works. If I’m going to be naked and on my hands and knees, suffice it to say I don’t want that to be the reason.
• Work. Enough said.
• I miss my friends. Between everyone’s vacations, most of my closest friends and I can count how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other in months. I just got an email from my friend Doug telling me he missed me, and I actually got teary.
• I’m freaking exhausted. Yes, I know that you’re all rolling your eyes right now. Because suddenly this rant makes sense. You all know that when I get overtired, I’m this cranky, bitchy, teary mess. But you’re wrong. Sure, I’ve been doing way too much. And having crazy nightmares every night. And waking up a million times. But I would be just as upset about all those things if I weren’t overtired. They’re totally valid reasons for me to be this upset. I am not being a baby. Stop laughing. I’m going to go take a nap.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wretched City


I have two words to describe New York City today. And the first one is Cluster.

There was a big storm during the night. Heavy rain, lightning, the whole bit. It stopped before I left for work, so no problem, right? Wrong.

Every train into, out of, and around the city was flooded. Most of them were closed down. Moments like these make me embarrassed for the city. You want to host the Olympics, but your public transportation system can completely melt down from heavy rain? Seriously?!?!?! With a track record like that, you’re lucky if you can get The Wiggles to perform at Madison Square Garden.

It’s, according to the thermometer in front of the NewsCorp building, 89°. Humidity is about 100%. Which makes the subway platforms, oh, about FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SIX FREAKING DEGREES!!! At one point, I was sweating so badly, that it was actually dripping off my nose. It’s a classy look, in case any of you are thinking of adopting it for your own. My 25-minute commute took 2 hours. And the question I was asking myself, was, naturally, “Why do I live in this wretched city???”

But of course, dear readers, I have a theory. Did you expect anything less? New York City is never going to be just somewhere you live. Some days it’s a fierce opponent, some days an ally. But it’s always a factor. There will always be those days, what I call the “Why do I live in this wretched city?” moments. And yes, they blow. Hard. But there’s something else, too. There are the “I love New York” moments. And those, well they can be so magical, so absolutely perfect, that it makes it all worth it. Sometimes it’s a big thing, but usually it’s not. Maybe it’s being able to go out for sushi at two in the morning, or a roof party, or free tickets to a Broadway show, or just walking through the Village on a spring evening, feeling sorry for anyone who doesn’t get to be me. As long as I get just one perfect “I love New York” moment for every three “Wretched city” moments, I feel like the balance still tilts in the right direction. Today this is a wretched city, but before long I’ll be loving New York again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Shoe Slut


I'm in sales conference this week presenting my spring 08 list and have 2.2 seconds to myself. I figure if you're the kind of person who reads my blog, there's a good chance you also share my affinity for/obsession with shoes. So I'm starting what might become a semi-regular feature, depending on popular reaction: Shoe Slut; Pictures of the Fabulous Shoes I'm Wearing Today So You Can All be Appreciative and Jealous. Eat your hearts out.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Expecting


I have big news, my friends. Big, big news. My little family is about to get an addition. Yes, I’m expecting. It’s due September 2-—my bouncing baby Jetta. Lots of excitement in my house, people.

I was doing just fine with public transportation, until my dad lent me his car for the month of July. And then I remembered how much fun driving was, and how much I loved being able to hop into the car and go wherever I wanted to. “A car in New York City is a luxury,” I lectured myself. “You don’t need one.”

But that’s when I saw her. She’s cherry red. Red is my favorite color. She’s standard. I love driving standard. She has all sorts of things on the dashboard that light up and that I can learn how to use. I love pretty lights. Could all these things be coincidence? No, no they could not. Which left only one other explanation. God WANTED ME to have this car.

I bought it in Rhode Island from Sarah’s brother-in-law. Another plus, since if his twin brother is married to my best friend, and he knows he’s going to have to see me FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE, there’s a 0.0% chance that he’d sell me a lemon. I’m going home Labor Day weekend because we’re taking the kids away for Ella’s birthday, and I’ll pick it up then. She gets a trip to New Hampshire. I get a new car. Everybody wins.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The 4.0s; Or Why Smart People Are So Stupid


When I say I’m smart, it’s not a brag or a boast. It’s not even something I would consider boast-worthy. I was just born that way. I take no more credit for my brain than I would for my hair or eye color. Some people have athletic ability. Others have artistic talent. I have a genius IQ.

I’m not sure when the grown-ups around me figured out that I was smart, but from the time I started school, it was just easier for me than it was for other people. But like so many of my kind, book smarts does not necessarily translate into any other kind of smarts. When we were growing up, my cousin Christina and I were inseparable. (No, ours mothers weren’t cruel enough to name us Christine and Christina. She was adopted and came with the name.) As teenagers, we used to joke that I was going to grow up and get a great job and make a lot of money, but she was going to live longer, because I was destined to step out in front of a bus without looking and get myself killed.

Now, I have an explanation. I believe that we each have a limited and finite amount of brain space. And the fact that I can do things like algebra in my head, well that just means that there’s way less space left for things like remembering to take my drink off the roof of my car before I drive away, or making sure I have my keys before I lock the door.

Let me tell you a little story. We were fresh out of college, and my friend Adriana and I were talking about football.

A: It’s so weird. There are all those states that don’t have football teams at all, and New York has three.
Me: 3?
A The Giants, The Jets, and The Bills
Me: The Bills play in Buffalo.
(Now to truly appreciate this, imagine this line delivered in my snottiest, most know-it-all, most horribly you-are-obviously-an-idiot voice.)
A: Bookgirl, where do you think Buffalo is?
Me: Oh.
A: And you got a 4.0 in college.

Now, in my defense, I only got a 4.0 one semester. I came close another time, but I got an A- in Fitness for Life. Oh, the irony. But from that day on, our friend Anthony and I, the other book-smart member of our little group, were dubbed the “4.0’s.” If you need something explained, give us a call. But we’re inevitably the last two to get any joke. And let’s just say that when street smarts were handed out, neither of us got the lion’s share.

I was accepted into Mensa last year, and I love to wonder about the national meetings would be like. I don’t buy into the stereotype of all those geeks with no social skills I think it would be a lot of people like me. Smart, funny people. Who couldn’t remember where they left their room keys.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Jonesin' for a Fix


I tried something new last week. And now I can’t get it out of my mind. I want more. I just keep thinking about it. I need a fix, dammit!

At first I was afraid. Should I try it? It never occurred to me that I might like it too much, just that it might be dangerous. Was it worth the risk? Was I really ready to… KAYAK??

Now, to get why this was such a big deal, there are a few things you need to understand about me.
#1 I am the clumsiest person on earth. I hurt myself walking. I once walked into my fridge. A FRIDGE, people. That’s a hard one to not see coming. The first (and only) time I went skiing, the instructor actually gave up on me. “You’re not going to get it. Why don’t you just sit down over there, honey?” Who knew they were even allowed to do that??

#2 I am TERRIFIED of water. I love the beach. I’m a strong swimmer. I’m in the water every chance I get. But I’m scared the whole time. Fear of drowning would be rational. That’s not my problem, though. No, I’m afraid of beasties. There are things in that water. And they can eat you. When I bring my nephews to the beach, I’ll go in the water with them all they want, but one of them always needs to be out just a few inches deeper than I am. Let’s call them what they are—shark bait. It’s not limited to just the shark fear, though. Fresh water freaks me out too. Have you ever seen The Raft??? If you see me periodically looking over my shoulder in your swimming pool, you shouldn’t be all that shocked. I know this isn’t rational. And that’s why I don’t give in to it. I’ve canoed, I’ve gone white-water rafting, I even snorkeled with sharks once just to prove the fear couldn’t beat me.

So given these 2 major obstacles, the fact that I got in the kayak and shoved off was huge in and of itself. But then came that feeling: I was doing it! And not only that, I was good at it! I glided along the water, feeling like I was flying. I pushed a little harder to go faster, laughing out loud at the sheer joy of it. I felt amazing—strong and powerful and free. I went back the next day, and did 4 miles, and loved it even more, with fewer tinges of fear. I worked up a whole fantasy in my head about how I was going to get myself a kayak. It would be so much fun, and such good exercise, and… then I remembered I live in New York City. The image of me kayaking along, dodging trash and the Staten Island ferry, holds a lot less appeal.

Polly says my type is the kind that will take risks and discover things like, “Hey! I’m good at kayaking!” And I love knowing that about myself. Are there other things out there that will give me that “Hey, look at me!!” feeling?? Preferably, things a little more compatible with an urban lifestyle?