Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dog of Pathos

So, Tuesday night, Wonder Dog somehow stepped on something sharp in our backyard and sliced up his paw pretty serious. We spent a good long chunk of time at the Emergency Vet Hospital, after failing to get the bleeding under control at home, and he ended up with several sutures, and a little puppy cast with a splint. We ended up painfully aware of the fact that pets don't come with health insurance. Yesterday was the hardest because he just had no idea what was going on, and my heart would break every time I saw him hop around. Today's been easier, so far, because he's getting better at manuevering and seems less sad. Luckily, he'll still eat anything, so getting the antibiotics and pain meds into him is easy. He's mostly sleeping, though, which is, in itself sad, because he's usually such a whippersnapper. Tomorrow we go to our vet to have the bandage changed and to make an appointment for suture removal. I want to explain to him how it'll all be fine, and, if he just stopped trying to eat his cast, we wouldn't have to put the plastic cone on him, but he doesn't speak quite enough English to grasp it. I have no idea how anyone has children.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


If you haven't seen, Miranda July's movie Me and You and Everyone We Know, go see it now. It was our inaugural NetFlik, and is super-fantastic. Large, enthusiastic thumbs skywards.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Maybe I've Just Got No Sense of Humor

But I found this utterly ridiculous.

Heftily, dykily, and Jewishly yours.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


There are lots of good things about belonging to a parish two blocks from your apartment:

It is really hard to be that late to church.

You can get a good sense of your neighborhood.

You can stop by the Italian pastry place across the street and bring home pastries very easily.

You will run into the nice woman who runs Wonder Dog's obedience school every week.

There are also some things not so good about belonging to this particular parish, namely that the sermons are decidely hit or miss. So, in my very 21st century way, I've been reading this guy for extra Advent ideas. Between that and these folks I feel plugged into the liberal Catholic world, without having to join the university congregation, which is just weirdly too undergraddy for me somehow.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Re-thinking globally

So, every couple of all the times, I read something about the environment/ global warming and get all angried up. This week, it was this article in the NY Times about how ski lodges are having to manufacture fake snow for all their skiers because there's no real snow anymore. Which, you know, is a polluting act in and of itself. And I read this and had my typical reaction which was: "Oh damn. Global warming. I should turn down the thermostat and drive less today." Which was completely in line with the general message I've been getting about environmentalism since I was a wee tyke in a moderately progressive elementary school: the best way to affect change is small, personal decisions. Use fewer paper towels, turn that soup-can into a pencil holder. And, for the first time, this week, I started to wonder if this advice has been a giant disaster from an environmental standpoint. Yes, if we all made incremental changes in our individual energy use, the environment would benefit, but we're not. Nowhere near it. So, I can sit in my apartment and feel good about my carbon footprint, but so what? I've been exhorted by the leaders of this movement to be a responsible individual when maybe I should have been told to scream or dance or write a letter or just generally freak out about stuff like how much fuel the airline industry burns, or what to do to ensure cleaner factories are built by American companies abroad. I love my worm bin, but my worms are a very tiny drop in the bucket. Anyway, I'm angry and het up and if anyone has more political-action-type-things they want to suggest in addition to the individual-responsibility stuff, I'm all ears. Phooey on acting locally.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The weather seems to have finally changed for the cold, which is both calming (I am in New England, after all) and annoying (the heat in campus buildings is approx. 9000 degrees, so these days I have to begin all my classes by dashing to the bathroom and removing my copious underthings, necessary for the 2-mile bike ride.) But, it's coinciding very well with my newly found free time, and encouraging much burrowing behavior. I filled two big jars with homemade Haitian relish yesterday and am planning to start on the season of soups tomorrow, with a Cook's Illustrated version of Thai chicken and mushroom soup.

Also, in nesting news, I had a completely inactive Thanksgiving. Really. I barely moved. I stayed in town, watched 21 hours of television, and mostly slept. It was great, and, after a fall with 4 tech weeks in a 7-week period, I was ready for oblivion and mind-rot. It was so successful, I actually found myself wondering whatever happened to ol' Anna Karenina (whom I abandoned on pg. 450 back in September). I'm still a good 300 pages from the end, but it was exciting to have the physical time and emotional energy for recreational fiction. To be filed under "duh", it's also a really good book, yo.

All this rest and recuperation will be pretty shortlived, alas. I start a big ushering assignment, which will likely see me all the way up to Winter Break, but I had a good hunker-downy kind of weekend, in which non-work outweighed work for a change and there was precious little travel. In preparation for a class on Tuesday, I also reread my favorite play ever (we have to bring in a selected scene), Escape from Happiness. This is a play I have seen, directed, and read more times than I can count. It still brought hyperventilating, neighbor-alarming laughter and genuine tears . . . I think because a) it's a fantastic play and b) it's pretty much completely and totally about my family.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A bulwark

There are bad days. There are days when everything goes horribly wrong and you can't even muster the energy for tears or rage. But then again --

There are good days - when the party you voted for actually won the House and the Senate (way to go, Virginia!), when it's 62 degrees in New England in November, and your play is opening and you're hopeful and scared and even Britney Spears seems right with the world, and then your professor pushes class back an hour so you can eat lunch at home.

There will be bad days, but I want to put this day out there as a shield to push them back just a little. There will be bad days, but there are good days, too.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Boo humbug

By and large, I'm enjoying fall this year. The weather has been lovely, if blustery, the trees look rad, and the farmers' markets sell awesome apples. I even got to sleep in an extra hour today and still make it to church on time. But I'm totally annoyed by Halloween. Whether it's dodging nearly nude college students on my way home from work Saturday night, or noticing that a third of Target has been taken up with candy displays, I feel only curmudgeonly. "What I stupid holiday," I mumble, biking past the green with its black-cat "Boo Haven" signs. "Why does anyone find this fun?" I ask, stuffing stale candy corn in my mouth at the library. As I'm not usually this misanthropic, I've been wondering why I suddenly hated something that seems to make little children and single people happy, and I think I've finally figured it out. When you're in Play School, every single bloomin' day is Halloween: wear outlandish costumes, put on lots of makeup, pretend to be someone else, blah, blah, blah. It's a busman's holiday, except my bus is the make-believe sparkly kind. The last thing I want is more theatricalism and escape: give me a holiday where you come home at five pm, eat dinner with your family and watch network television. Now that sounds fantastic.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Worm poop, etc.

The busy-ness continues apace, although I have decided to drop (temporarily, I promise) the 9:30am class I was auditing, which has pushed me (temporarily, I promise) back over to the "sane and rested" side of the spectrum. Mmmmm, rest. Mmmmmm, sanity.

Spent the weekend buying terrifying pink bedroom decor for "We're Celebrities" and seeing "Eurydice" at Yale Rep. It was amazing, beautifully theatrical, and my eyes are still puffy from having cried for its hour and 45-minute duration. What more there is to say about it is deeply and freakishly personal, to the point where I think I should be examining my ceiling for MacArthur Genius wiretaps, and lies outside the sphere of my blogging. Suffice it to say, if this show comes to a place where you live, buy a jumbo box of Kleenex and go.

Also went out to a 1st anniversary dinner last night at the swankiest restaurant named for a remote-controlled vacuum cleaner around.

This morning, largely as a means of work-procrastination (I'm applying to contesty-type things that range from unlikely to impossible, but having been brought up on a steady diet of "You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket" I'm applying anyways) BH and I cleaned out the worm bin. As I may have mentioned here before, we have a giant Tupperware in our back yard where vegetable waste goes and is helpfully turned into compost by about 1000 earthworms. Part of this process, though, is harvesting the compost, and I decided this morning would be a really good time to dump out the contents of the bin and separate it into piles of "worm" and "not worm." When you have 1000 worms, this takes a while. The good news? We have an enormous bucket of compost, which can sit in our garden beds all winter, and the worms can be left to themselves for another 3 months, or so.

Tonight I have first read for one play and first tech for another. This makes me really happy.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Self-promotin' is the best promotin'

Hey world, so, as I may have mentioned to you, if we've spoken briefly or gmail-chatted, or even if you've just noticed me falling asleep on the floor (actually, I think that only applies to BH), I'm extremely busy.

The reasons for all this bustle are multifold, but the most exciting of them is that I'm involved in three productions in the span of six weeks. 24-hour theater, which I am "curating" aka "doing a ton of work for" will be going up in a week, so right now I'm herding the Drama School cats into writing, directing, designing and producing in a period of time (24 hours over 5 days) that is both too short and not short enough. Once it ends, there's:

We're Celebrities . . . We're Just Not Famous Yet written by yours truly and premiering at the Yale Cabaret. It's about teenage girls, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Simpson, and the fact that I spent waaaaaaay too much time last year watching "My Super Sweet Sixteen." Directed by the fabulous Ms. Becca Wolf and going up October 19, 20, 21.

Then, mere weeks later, is:

Bibles and Candy also by me, and going up at PlaySkool. This is my official yearly production, and is about NGO workers, missionaries, journalists and the fact that I spent a certain amount of time in pre-Aristide-coup Haiti. Directed by the talented Mike Donahue and going up November 9, 10, 11.

Let me know if you're interested in tix to either or both, and apologies in advance if I forget your birthday, don't return phone calls, and am generally a social delinquent. My already-picked New Year's resolution is not to put on any plays for a couple of months.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hello again

Notes from all over:

1) I made jelly! And it gelled! We have a lovely grape arbor in our backyard, which means that, in early fall, we are suddenly innundated with pounds and pounds of Concord grapes. And they're actually harder to use than you'd think -- you can't really make grape muffins or grape pie, so you're pretty much left with jelly. For my first batch, made a couple weeks ago, I followed the directions on the pectin box religiously and ended up with several jars of grape syrup. So, this time, I disregarded their timetable and just boiled the tar out of my grapes and it worked. Six whole jelly jars worth. And there are still enough grapes out back that I could probably get another batch in. Yay. The true victory will come when I eat the homemade jelly on homemade bread this winter. Mmmmmmmmmm.

2) School goes well. Not quite up to first week levels of stylishness and confidence but a hell of a lot better than I was doing a year ago this time. Various scheduling demons are conspiring against my production this fall, but I feel, perhaps due to the 2 beers I had with dinner, that the show will emerge victorious. At the very least, I don't hate my play yet, so that's nice.

3) The cold is better. I actually did the mature thing and stayed home from school, instead of being brave and carting tissues everywhere and dragging the whole thing out for weeks. So, I mostly feel fine . . . except I still have a window-rattling chest cough, that prompted the following exchange this morning.

Me walking down busy street: Cough Cough

Dude on cellphone walking past me: Blah, blah, blah . . . . Wait, hold on a sec.


Dude (clearly annoyed that he might have to save my life): Are you, like, okay?

Me: Cough. (Nod). Cough. (Nod).

Dude (back on his cellphone): So, anyways, then I said . . .

4) Wonder dog is back in obedience school, in the hopes that he will become even more wonderful. And, God willing, learn to walk on a leash without dislocating the shoulder of whoever happens to be walking him. So far, my favorite thing about it is I'm forced to remember where he was, obedience-wise, in January, when we first signed him up and how far he's come since then . . . for example, we couldn't even leave him in the house alone uncrated at that point. So that feels nice. Even if he's a yanking machine on leash.

5) I like fall. Always have. Comes from being a nerd, I think, and enjoying school-supply shopping a little more than is socially acceptable. Also sweaters and apples and everyone's birthday. And lots of holidays and the good kind of Daylight Savings. It seems appropriate to be bustling around and getting things done, as opposed to February where all tasks except for the most nesty seem onerous, and I really just want to swath myself in flannel, read dense Russian novels, and wait for spring.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


So the first week of PlaySkool went quite well -- I made it to classes more or less on time, knew what I was supposed to be doing, enjoyed the polite chitchat at the requisite BBQ and managed to pedal myself around town on my newly gearless (early anniversary present) bicycle. The Year 2 version of me was kinder, wiser, better dressed, and more self-possessed. I was thinking of declaring victory and looking into cloning myself.

Then we went away last weekend for a lovely wedding in Chicago, featuring a record four ministers (2 getting married and 2 performing the ceremony). Unfortunately, the weekend also featured: strong unidentifiable allergens, many smokers, 2 airplanes, 2 trains, 2 subways, a bus and a car, and a 30-minute period spent standing outside in the rain after 4 hours sleep. Not surprisingly, I am now staying home from PlaySkool, rubbing the skin under my nose a deep magenta, and frightening the dog with my deep-chest coughs.

Much sleep and tea are the day's agenda and I am, actually, starting to feel a little bit better, which is why I can summon cogent self-pity as opposed to yesterday's mere clogged bewilderment. But still. I was doing so well. It's only week 2. How can I already be miserable, wearing a sweatsuit, and behind on my schoolwork? How?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ready or not . . .

It starts tomorrow.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 15, 2006

We had blue sky our first day in Beijing, and blue sky returns to see us depart today. Coming back to Beijing after having traveled for two weeks, the city seems a little more navigable, and the few Chinese phrases we’ve learned do us well. Our plans to visit the Great Wall were stymied by constant drizzle, but staying inside and catching up with friends has been wonderful. For the past three weeks, I haven’t slept more than two nights in the same bed, and I’m looking forward to going back to home and real life, but there’s so much here I’ll miss. The food – from nice restaurants, to street stalls run by members of China’s Hui Muslim minority in Xi’an and Kaifeng – has all been good, sometimes spicy, sometimes comforting, but all good. Knowing that I can’t just wander out and find a bowl of fresh hand-pulled noodles with beef and bok choi for under a dollar, that’s depressing. I’ll miss the people – the language barrier made it difficult to connect with at times, but never impossible. I’ll miss the friendliness and the bluntness I’ve come to appreciate. I’ll also miss the sights: old people doing tai ji on random scraps of grass in the midst of the towering gray city; temples full of ancient statues and modern worshippers; even the frantic growth of buildings and businesses, feeding on the shared belief that China is the future and the future is now.

I’m exhausted from the struggle to do simple things like get on the right bus or buy a cold bottle of water, but my two-word Chinese vocabulary has grown, as has my confidence. Today, Colin woke up early and went on a walk, past the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, to a group of elderly gentlemen sitting with pet birds. “Zaijian” one of the birds squawked at Colin. It means “Goodbye.”

August 10, 2006

We’re here. We’re finally here. The Terracotta Warriors that I read about and saw pictures of ten years ago are now meters from my face. And they look amazing, overwhelming at first for their number and then for their individuality. The statues stretch on for the length of several football fields, and each one’s hairstyle, body, and facial expression is distinct. That one has a mustache. That one seems to be smiling a little. More than anything else on our trip, this sight has been a tangible goal for me, and it’s kind of odd to realize that we made it. Granted, it took an airplane, a ten-hour train trip, and a grueling, elbows-out-stepping-on-children fight to board the public bus, but we finally got here. And, to be fair, the train trip from Kaifeng was kind of great – we shared sunflower seeds with the woman across from us, and communicated in giggles and gesture, while passing corn fields and permission orchards.

Looking out over the sea of clay bodies before us (and looking back at the sea of tourist bodies behind), China seems . . . big. Big in numbers of people and big in square miles and big in thousands of years of civilization. Its sheer heft hits me hard, and despite the thousands of cameras clicking and the utter inanity of the audio-guide (actual quote: “On his left, you can see his left hand”), I’m in awe. After walking through all the tombs, we sneak back into the first, most impressive hall. Colin has brought his i-Pod and we each pop in an earbud, tuning out everyone else and, listening to music in our 21st century way, we stare again at the warriors from 246BC.

August 5, 2006

Lessons learned in Xiamen, a primer:

Our two-day trip to Bangkok to see friends was supposed to end in a flight back to Macau, but the flight was cancelled because of a typhoon. So, we walked into the office of the Thai budget airline we were flying and asked where else they flew in China. The answer? “Xiamen. Next flight leaves in an hour.” “Great,” Colin said, and changed our tickets. At which point, I opened up the Rough Guide to find Xiamen on the map. Oh, so that’s where we’re going, I thought. Which brings me to

Lesson One: You can’t get what you want, so hope you like what you get.

Traveling through China with no grasp of spoken or written Chinese quickly brings you to a land of zero control and constant surprise, with sometimes wonderful consequences. For example, our first night in Xiamen, we walk into a street café at midnight and point to line in our phrasebook – “What are your local specialties?” An hour later, full of freshly killed (trust me) frog, eel, clams, and fish, we we’re delighted. It wasn’t what we had planned to eat, necessarily, but it was wonderful.

Lesson Two: When in doubt, follow everybody else.

There is a ferry from Xiamen to the nearby Gulangyu Island, a pretty and popular tourist spot full of colonial architecture. When Colin and I reach the dock, we (at my urging) follow the (rare) English sign saying “Gulangyu Island Ferry.” We end up on a ferry with perhaps three other people. Next to us is a ferry with perhaps one hundred people. I start to wonder if we’re on the wrong ferry. A new ferry arrives next to us. Tons of people start streaming on. I wonder more anxiously. At this point, a man on our ferry hands us a pair of binoculars and communicates that we are on a 40-minute ferry ride to look at Taiwan through binoculars. In the remnants of a typhoon. At which point we leave and go follow everybody else.

Lesson Three: Chinese TV is nuts.
The English-language programming is edited so poorly that it’s difficult to follow a movie you’ve already seen and is being broadcast in English. The Chinese programming has fascinating ads for the Community Party featuring violinists in red-sequined bikinis and beautiful young women singing a pop song about the wonders of the CCP, as images of the Forbidden City swirl in the background. Although, silly as I find it, I have to admit the US invented the patriotic bikini, so I probably shouldn’t be talking.

July 30, 2006

I don’t get Hong Kong. I like Hong Kong, I certainly am enjoying Hong Kong, but I don’t get it. It’s sleek, modern, and, previously unbeknownst to me, full of trees and great for hiking. On a purely physical level, it’s such a contrast to the China we saw on our bus ride here. The trip is only a few hours, but it passes through several worlds, from the giant city of Guangzhou to the suburbs, to the urban/rural hybrid that dominated most of the trip. From my window on the bus, I could see tiny farms with ancient brick houses, flanked on one side by the six-lane highway and on all others by rising concrete apartment complexes. I can only imagine what this all looked like ten, twenty years ago or what it will be in the future. From the comfort of my bus, it’s easy to romanticize the back-breaking life of a peasant, but it’s hard to be happy about the omnipresent smog or the clumps of white tile buildings with reddish brown streaks under every air-conditioning unit. It looks like the buildings are sweating rust, I think. Then, I think, don’t begrudge them their AC.

Hong Kong has so many things the rest of China seems to lack: beautiful buildings, large parks, Western-style entertainment (at Western-style prices), and enough freedom of the press for the local newspaper to cover protests over illegal conditions in a plastic-toy factory on the mainland. Interestingly, it also seems to lack some things Beijing has like an interesting contemporary art and rock music scene. But, despite their differences, Hong Kong is still a part of China. Sort of. With separate currency and a trip through immigration. I start wondering if China needs Hong Kong like a dry country needs its county-line liquor store: control can be maintained precisely because there’s an outlet. But mostly I don’t get it. As far as my passport’s concerned, I am no longer in China. I don’t know if China would agree.

July 28, 2006

I’m a lot calmer, a little hungrier, and in a completely different city. The calmer is partly because we landed in Guangzhou yesterday, and it feels saner and more manageable than Beijing, and partly because after my taxi-based freak-out, Colin and I spent a day roaming around on borrowed bicycles and suddenly Beijing felt more real. We most rode through ancient alleyways between courtyard neighborhoods called hutongs, where people have been living for thousands of years. The hutongs are beautiful to ride by on a bicycle – how I’d feel about living without indoor plumbing is another thing – and most of them have either already been torn down or are slated to be. I wish there were a compromise between ancient-but-decrepit and modern-but-soulless, but I can’t say I have faith in the current architectural climate to find it. Riding through the hutongs made Beijing feel human, though, and made me feel a little more human, too.

Guangzhou is a city of food. The major item on our itinerary when we were planning a trip to Guangzhou was “eat” and we are succeeding admirably. Last night, we spent two hours searching for a restaurant our Rough Guide told us was “probably the best restaurant in Guangzhou” but didn’t label clearly on tits map. We tried to get there via the clean, efficient subway system, which worked right up until the part where you get off the subway and have to walk on the streets. Long story short, everyone we met was extremely helpful, but to people who can’t read, speak, or understand Chinese “Chongxin Lu” sounds an awful lot like “Qianjin Lu” and we ended up with a detailed map and several people’s kindly mimed directions to the wrong street. So, that took a while to fix. But, finally we made it there, we ordered our dinner with the help of an English speaker pulled from a nearby table and it was yummy, all the more so because we had earned it. This morning we go out for dim sum. A block from our hotel is Da Tong, one of the most famous dim sum establishments in town and we show up hungrier than made sense after all the food we ate the night before. We eat dumplings after dumplings, custard tarts, sweet and savory filled buns, almonds, and finish with ginger milk pudding. It is perhaps the best breakfast imaginable, and I’m very sad to think about it being halfway around the world from my normal life. This beats the pants off brunch.

July 24, 2006

I am sick of taxicabs. Sick, sick, sick of them. I am sick of watching this city whiz by me in a sea of gray buildings against gray skies, or worse crawl by me in a traffic jam, so I can distinguish restaurants from parks from foot massage parlors, but in which I still have absolutely no idea where I am. Ever. I can’t say the name of the street where I’ve been living for the past four days and, even if I could say it, I couldn’t tell any of the many cabdrivers I keep encountering where it is, partly because I cannot communicate at all, and partly because I don’t know how to get there. From anywhere. So I hand cabdrivers little scraps of paper with directions in Chinese written on them or else hand them the cell phone that we have borrowed and stay out of the way. I have never experienced a new city this way before. Usually, I get out my guidebook and walk around or else take the subway or buses, but all of our friends swear by cabs, and, given how sprawling this place is and how unfamiliar, I understand it. But I’m frustrated at being permanently discombobulated, and it makes me feel like I don’t know Beijing at all. I have my fuzzy impressions of cars and bicycles and carts and people and building after building after cranes and cement trucks building more buildings, but I hate feeling lost and I feel lost all the time. And I’m sick of cabs.

July 22, 2006

Tourism! It begins today. Alison lives a few blocks from the Forbidden City, so we wake up this morning and walk there, clutching our street-vendor egg sandwiches and dodging the persistent “art students” inviting us to come see their shows. Thanks to the vendor onslaught, I learn my second bit of Chinese: “Bu yao.” It means “I don’t want any.” And it proves useful, especially as the Forbidden City is completely and totally packed. It’s the summer, it’s a Saturday, and as all the Beijingers will point out, it’s a “blue-sky day” something I don’t even think of treasuring back home, but which is apparently extremely rare around here. And so, temporarily, free of care and pollution, we, along with a hundred thousand of our new best friends visit the Forbidden City. Which is enormous. Our audioguide comes with a helpful map that lights up as you walk along, so I can tell if I’m in the Hall of Enduring Harmony or the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Although, given the fact that I’m trudging through the halls and the gate, surrounded by people talking, taking photos, and tour groups with loudspeaker-ed leaders yelling “Mr. Wang, Mr. Wang from Chengu, please come join your group,” it feels at times less like Supreme Harmony and more like Supreme Irony.

The Forbidden City is beautiful and its scope summarizes far more accurately than any textbook the breath and power of the dynasties that inhabited it. Trying, for a moment, to erase the bustle and the matching parasols and Mr. Wang from Chengdu and imagine it as a real, separate world of concubines and eunuchs, state secrets and palace intrigue is hard, but fascinating. The strangest thing about the Forbidden City is how empty its museum rooms are. Despite the immaculate care with which the imperial buildings have been and are being restored, they house exhibits that are, well, kind of lame – a few dusty objects, a couple lines of captioning. It’s not until dinner that night with Eric’s Chinese fiancée Joy that I learn the explanation – the Palace’s true opulent treasures were either stolen by the Japanese during invasion, taken to Taiwan in 1949, or else are sitting currently in rooms deep below the City, covered in layers of dust. It seems that some things about the Forbidden City stay forbidden.

July 21, 2006

We’re here, really here, in Alison’s beautiful apartment, about to pass out, but we made it. Okay, I did fall asleep in the back of the taxi from the airport because we were stuck in an hour-long traffic jam, and I did have to scream “Ni hao” for ten minutes before we were let into Alison’s courtyard by her neighbor. And, yes, right now Beijing is a blur of lights and traffic and heading either to or away from some sort of “Ring Road,” but we made it. We even got to see some art.

Alison works as the International Programs Coordinator for the Beijing Modern Dance Company, and the night we arrive in China is a performance there by company members who are recent graduates of the Beijing Dance Academy. Thanks to traffic and a small bout of taxi confusion, we get there a few minutes late, but I still get to see several pieces. In addition to being gifted athletically – they leap through the air, flip, spin and generally gymnastic their way all over the place – the dancers also seem to be exploring subjects important to them. Teen angst, suicide, young love and sex are all up there, but the most powerful sequence by this group of early 20-somethings is about school examinations, graduation, and entering the work force. The fear of not passing exams, or not being good enough is palpable, despite the fact that the performers have already made it. They graduated, they are all members of the Beijing Modern Dance Company, but the stress has yet to evaporate.

After the show, we go to dinner and then to a lovely bar, where I fall completely asleep in my glass of grapefruit juice. Thus back here, and to bed.

July 20, 2006

I see Beijing before I experience it, from the window of our nonstop flight from Newark. Clusters of tall buildings appear below, in seemingly random and impulsive groupings: six identical apartment buildings here, twelve matching office compounds there, as though the city were an urban-design video game being played for the first time. “Colin,” I whisper to my husband, “it looks like Sim City.”

We are visiting China to see my friend Alison and Colin’s friend Eric, who have both been living and working in Beijing for the past four to five years. I had taken a semester of Chinese history back in high school, but except for a vague recollection of successive dynasties and a picture of the Terracotta Warriors, I know very little about China and am unsure what to expect. Third world chaos? Oriental splendor? Whatever I was expecting, though, it wasn’t matching apartment buildings. I only have so long to contemplate what the buildings will look like from the ground or what they mean for modern China because our landing plane suddenly starts lurching toward the ground and I’m distracted by airsickness.

Head firmly in lap, my stomach somewhere near my tonsils, as we make our bumpy descent into Beijing, I hear the teenage American boy sitting next to me mutter, “I hope this is worth it.” All I can think is “You and me both, kid.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

In the meantime . . .

China posting to come (promise, promise, promise), but, for now, a welcome back to our neighborhood.

Sometimes, you read The Onion. Sometimes, The Onion reads you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


So BH and I leave in 4 hours to go to the train station to go the airport to go to China for a month.

Don't have an itinerary.

Don't speak/read the language.

Don't have access to Blogger b/c of internet censorship.

Expect a lot of blogging when I get back.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hell in a handbag

Warning: spoilers and strong opinions ahead

Went to see The Devil Wears Prada last night, which I thought was quite excellent. Not perfect -- it still had some sitcom-worthy putdowns and a truly uninspired soundtrack -- but extremely good, and, in my somewhat humble opinion, the best movie about women and work since Legally Blonde.

I read the book when it came out a few years ago, and it was fun in a Nanny Diaries-type way, especially since I was in the middle of my first "real job." Adjusting to the whims and coffee preferences of another person, after spending college contemplating Faulkner and the meanings of identity was difficult and frustrating; long hours and lousy pay didn't make it any better. But where Devil the book was unalloyed whining/revenge fantasy (and I appreciated it for those reasons), Devil the movie is a smart and complicated look at what it takes to get and stay ahead.

Meryl Streep is fantastically fun to watch and the clothes are pretty and I'll forgive a lot for a good montage sequence, but the most striking thing to me about the movie is that it provides what I think (at my admittedly early age) is a worldly truth: no one is going to make your career for you. One of the big plot points of the movie (which, I actually don't recall from the book, but that may just be my memory) is editrix Miranda Priestly's replacing her faithful Nigel with her competitor Jacqueline, as part of a scheme to maintain control of "Runway" magazine. At first glance, this is horrible and unfair, and that's certainly how protagonist Andy sees it. But the makers of the movie shade it for us. When Nigel explains how he's going to have his fabulous new job, Andy asks if he's told Miranda. "Of course" he explains, horrified at the idea that it might be a secret, she put him up for it. Well, cool, that's nice of her (and believable that Meryl's Miranda might have done it), but then it's not really your job is it, Nigel? It's Miranda's to give away, and, when she needed to use it to save her own head, she did. The publishers of the magazine don't keep their star editor around because they like her, and she's playing as viciously with them as they are with her. Or, to put it another way, how likely is Nigel to find his dream job when he's afraid to send out a resume without his boss's approval? As portrayed in the movie (and, again, I'm willing to wager, not the book), he is as much of a cautionary tale as Miranda. She trusts no one, but he doesn't trust himself.

The final thing about the movie that I liked was the obvious joy it took in portraying the seriousness that goes into frivolity. Again, I think this is a difference from the book and one that only makes sense. The book was written by a pissed-off 22-year-old and, in all the best ways, it showed. The movie, however, was written, directed, and produced, by folks who've been in the industry for long enough to know that while some people might find it absurd to obsess about a piece of fabric or the angle of a shot, in fact, these small decisions have enormous power and influence in society at large. The "cerulean" monologue could just have easily been about camera frames and music videos. And, maybe as someone seeking to justify the relevance of her own easily-classified-as-frivolous creative pursuit, I appreciated that.

Final piece of Devil trivia for anyone who's still reading: the editor at the meeting with Miranda who wants to shoot florals against an industrial background is none other than famously creative/ famously impossible former Artistic Director of the Public Theater, George C. Wolfe. Which, I think, is a hell of an in-joke.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

We sang this in church on Sunday.

I'm personally dedicating Verse 2 to the Supreme Court.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hunch confirmed

You know sometimes you have two friends and you think, "wow, if they were in the same place, I bet they'd get along really well; they have lots in common, including things that I do not share with either one."

And then one of them posts on her livejournal about liking a book with dragons and the Napoleonic wars.

And then the other one posts on her livejournal about liking a book with dragons and the Napoleonic wars.

And you think, yes, I do believe I was correct.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Don't all you journalists have English degrees?

So, the most annoying article in the Times today probably was Alex Witchel moaning about having to make polite conversation with those seated next to her at dinner. (Remind me not to sit next to her, should the occasion arise) But the second most annoying article, according to this gal, was this: Caryn James on the shocking new trend that "more and more movies" display, in which a moral lesson is learned after a sinful character does all sorts of despicable things. The groundbreaking trend? It's actually more fun for the audience to watch the bad stuff than the redemption.

Sound familiar? It's probably from such flicks as Click? Bruce Almighty? The Devil Wears Prada? Or, wait a minute . . . devil, devil . . . that reminds me: maybe this is the plot of Dr. Faustus, Paradise Lost, and the hundreds of works influenced by them for the past 500 years? Just a thought, Caryn.

Also -- the eye has now mysteriously almost completely cleared up. Color me baffled.

Depressing news closer to home

Woke up this morning with a mildly goopy and bloodshot eye.

It's baaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaack.

Though, admittedly, not as bad as before.

Appointment with the optho for tomorrow afternoon.

Looking into magic charms and/or patron saint(s) of eye problems.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


One of the benefits of being a generally compulsively busy person (and believe me, there are many) is that I don't usually read the entire newspaper. I glance at page one and the editorials, read arts and Thursday/Sunday Stupids cover-to-cover and occasionally skim the science/metro/business (and even more occasionally) sports sections. But, now that the whole teaching-kiddies-to-write-plays thing has subsided, I've got some time on my hands, and, mainly as a method of creative avoidance, I've been reading the whole thing. . . and shit's fucked up.

I know that the primary business of newspapers is to sell drama and that there might not be anything more annoying than overpriviliged white lady hand-wringing about global warming, but I tell ya, I feel like wringing. I'm fundamentally pessimistic about the ability of this country (and, to tell the truth, other countries as well . . . sorry, Europe, but your track record's not as good as you think it is, and Asia -- oy) to adopt measures to halt or even slow it down. And I know the Earth's climate has been through a lot, since before there was even the possibility of humans, but I also think that massive climate change will likely cause enormous human suffering, even if some new forms of species pick up where the old ones left off. I also tend to figure that the suffering will be distributed, as it tends to be, largely to those who were already suffering in the first place.

I feel pretty good about the life that Beloved Husband and I lead from an ecological perspective (bike-based transportation, recycling, composting vegetable waste, buying local organic produce when possible, using energy efficient light bulbs, living with a hot house in the summer and a cold one in the winter, etc.) but I also feel like an ineffectual hippie weirdo bucket drop.

Anyway, enough whining from me. The Earth and people will contine to function and maybe things will get better. At least the Warren Buffett thing is good news. I know because I read every single article on it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Otherness and other thoughts

Saw two v. different pieces of art this weekend, but they've both got me thinking about similar stuff. First was Sunday afternoon, when I went to NYC and got student-rush tix for The Light in the Piazza, which is closing soon, so I figured it was now or never.

So beautiful. I mean, I realize, duh, everyone loves this show, so I wasn't exactly surprised to find it beautiful, but I really, really enjoyed it, more than I've liked most things I've seen recently. Victoria Clark was great, and the music was lovely, but I think the thing that I liked the most was how disturbing it was. The story [warning: musical spoiler ahead] concerns a mother and her daughter visiting Italy. The daughter is mentally handicapped and the show's central dilemma is how much of a "normal" life she should lead. And it's fraught: what's best for the daughter, the mother, the daughter's boyfriend who doesn't know about her situation, responsibility vs. taking chances -- it was all dealt with. And, here's the big, big thing . . . the production doesn't demand that you agree with it. It presents certain characters in a particular situation, the choices they make, and allows you to say "Wow, I think that's a terrible decision," or "Gosh, I'm afraid and don't know what's going to happen" but you're disagreeing with the characters not the play. To make an admittedly facetious comparison, if you object to Forrest Gump, you also object to Forrest Gump. Not so with this show.

Then, on Monday, Beloved Husband and I went to see X-Men 3. Which was actually quite similar in terms of moral quandries to TLITP. The X-Men are, by virtue of being mutants, different, physically and mentally, from "normal" people, and the central dilemma of the movie is how much mutants should be pushed toward (or even offered an option of) normality. However . . . it's not a good movie. It could have been a good movie. It should have a good movie. It has good actors, interesting ideas, and an enormous budget, but instead of bringing them together for some good, old-fashioned storytelling, it pulled confusingly at our heartstrings (evoking ACT-UP meetings, abortion clinics, and DNA modification) and then just blew crap up for 15 minutes. Also, I think it bears mentioning that in the big "do you change your powers or use them" debate the two main female characters decided to give up their extraordinary abilities (either by getting the vaccine or asking Wolverine to killing them), whereas the man who faced it ended up staying the way he was. And flying his big gay wings over San Francisco. Which is great and all, don't get me wrong, but why did he get to be loved for the way he was and not the chicks? Just asking.

Also, in a final (please, please, I hope) eye update: I woke up yesterday with a case of pink eye in my right eye (yes, the one that has been plagued since mid-May). Went to the doctor, got some antibiotic drops, and it's looking way better, but still. Truce? Please?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


All right, world, I'm back, after a harrowing, but in many ways very good three days. The weekend was spent at Camp Wightman with the kids from the playwriting program. [And, yes, it was a little weird to take a group of entirely minority children to a location pronounced Camp White-man. To their credit, they got over it way before I did.] It was fun, but also exhauting, just being that present to another person's needs and never really getting a moment off or to myself or to relax. The best part of the whole weekend though was not the awesome camp activities -- sharing someone's first s'more, nature hike, swim in a lake, night away from home -- but the plays that they wrote. They're really totally amazing, alive with imagination and unexpected plot twists. Also, a soft-shoe number performed by a chorus of dead professional cat-fighters. As casting stands right now, I'm playing an evil high school Mean Girl (typecasting, I know) and a magical, four-armed, rainforest-dwelling woman with stars on her cheeks that can control the weather. I'm excited for costumes . . . and when am I not?

I also got the papilloma removed yesterday, which was a little more harrowing than expected.

Me, a week ago: So, should I arrange for someone to come pick me up?
Receptionist: Oh, no, this is a really easy operation, you can just walk out of here.

So I wasn't particularly worried until the UNANTICIPATED giant needle came for my eye. I'll admit, there may be a philosophy behind this: if we tell the patients we'll be sticking a giant needle in their eye, they will probably freak out, so let's just hope they don't notice. However, it's very difficult not to notice a giant needle WHEN IT'S COMING AT YOUR EYE. So, I kind of freaked out and started hysterically sobbing (I'm sure, at least 50% because I had finished the last 30 pages of Gilead in the waiting room and was pretty close to tears already). Hysterical sobs finally calmed down, papilloma was excised, but I was in no condition to get myself home. Luckily, Beloved Husband showed up and has been a superstar for the past 24 hours as I've mostly slept, popped Advil, and wiped fluid from my eye. It's looking a lot better today and will hopefully be somewhat normal looking/feeling by the end of the week. Because I am really, really sick of having a hurty eye.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rain appreciation

Just taking the time to point out that I'm really glad it's raining today.

I'm still grumpy from the swollen, warty eye and don't really feel like doing anything that approaches productive this morning.

And, since it's dripping a dismal rain, I can accept my sloth as opposed to feeling oppressed by the sunshine into jogging or some such nonsense.

Bad moods ---- bad weather

Good moods ---- good weather

When they switch up, it's all confusing.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I am having a bad month with eye health.

Having been previously diagnosed with a papilloma (scheduled -- well, in fact rescheduled, but that's another story -- for removal on Monday), and having suffered through a disturbing round of near-blindness caused by Colorado dust, I woke up this morning to find my eye swollen, purple, and tender.

Diagnosis from the eye doctor at Health Services? A stye.

I am very sick of it hurting when I look at things. And, come to think of it, when I don't look at things.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Things to which I have been up

A smattering:

1) Going to a beautiful wedding in Colorado. It had sort of all the ingredients one would want in constructing the ur wedding -- beaming bride, happy groom, deliriously joyful parents of the bride and groom, spectacular natural landscape, and completely incomprehensible-old-man-toast by someone's grandfather full of what would be cliches if I lived in rural Texas. Also a prominent and somewhat surprising mention of "Cats" in the homily. The musical, not the species.

2) Catching up with college friends as a result and feeling both excited to see people, distraught at how rarely I see them nowadays, and guilty realizing the extent to which I was kind of a flaky friend sometimes. But I'm trying not to dwell and just be a little more pro-active now.

3) Teaching at this program in the afternoons. Which means that, for the third summer in a row I find myself wearing unflattering matching t-shirts, carrying craft supplies, and playing Zip Zap Zop. Which, of course, I love (okay, not the t-shirts), but still. I'm definitely experiencing a little more deja vu than I had intended. And I'm constantly having to stifle the urge to say "But when I did this before, we did it like this." And that's hard for me.

4) Re-typing draft one of the play from Word to FinalDraft. Which means, if things go according to plans, I'll have a proper-looking document by the end of this week, from which to make corrections and changes all summer long.

5) Enjoying the weather. Damn, am I enjoying the weather.

Should I be offended?

A real post is coming, but in the meantime -- offense? Perhaps gratitude that I'll never be trendy?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Only in New York, kids

Do they do things like this.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Summer after my sophomore year of college my mom and I took a trip to France. We did lots of fun things like roam around the countryside looking at churches with C. and eat rich food with silly names, and we also went perfume shopping. Perhaps I had just been reading too many gay men's memoirs where they talked about how stylish their mothers were, but I decided that I really needed to have "a scent" [you know, for my nonexistent gay son to remember me by] and I smelled 100 little strips of cardboard in an effort to find one, and finally I did. And I really, really liked it. I started wearing this perfume pretty much every day from about June 2000 to June 2002, when I decided that the most important thing was to smell as unappealing as possible in an effort to scare away fatal-disease-carrying mosquitoes.

And then I came back to the US and the last remaining milliliter of perfume sat in its little bottle and I made $7 an hour and tried to distance myself from all things collegiate. Until I went to New York last month. And I visited the enormous Times Square branch of the Parisian perfume megalopolis and started smelling the little sticks again. Which, of course, all smelled ickily like perfume. Until I got to the one that I used to wear. Which, oddly enough, just smelled like me.

So I came home, discovered that Amazon sells it for 40% off, and bought a bottle. That arrived today. And, am now probably part of a very small group of people proud to say, "Hey, I smell just like I did in college."

Friday, May 19, 2006

In other, more positive, less-ranty news

Beloved Husband is written about in the Washington City Paper.

Mazel tov.

Forget the slope

Things are already pretty damn slippery.

I know they do lots of things really, super-awesome well, like provide accurate sex-education information to teenagers and sign the Kyoto accord, but Europe's also creeping me out these days.

Here's a story from England, about permitting the genetic testing and then discarding of embryos without severe genetic disorders. That's right, you can mix up a batch of embryos in a lab, scan them, and if they have a strong genetic chance of getting cancer in their forties toss them out with the bathwater and start again. This is terrifying. Forget all the people who have made enormous, important contributions to the world between ages zero and forty-five, forget the fact that you're dealing with chances, not definite knowlege -- this is designer babies. The future is already here. It's taking the freaky, picky, consumerist language used by the mothers-by-choice profiled here and adding the life-is-something-you-can-buy philosophy of this lady. It's aiming for perfection and it is, as is, eugenics.

Maybe it's just because I read Never Let Me Go last month, but reading these stories together makes me feel like the day is not long off when women and men in poverty will be selling their eggs, sperm, uteruses, kidneys, and blood to create and support a ruling class of body buyers, armed with their credit cards and a belief (as told them by their credit cards) that they deserve the best, whether that's a tall, blond, disease-free child or a brand-new heart.

I know, I know, I know it's really difficult to have disabled children or to have people die in middle age of diseases that could be prevented with transplants. But I am deeply freaked out that this is the way the market is choosing to deal with it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Because taste is the highest measure of self-worth

I finally started downloading songs from i-Tunes last night, prompted by the recent acquisition of an i-Pod in the family.

And these are the 7 songs I chose to download, in no particular order:

"Locked Up" -- Akon
"The Talkin' Song Repair Blues" -- Alan Jackson
"Toxic" -- Britney Spears
"Rebel, Rebel" -- David Bowie
"Fancy" -- Reba McEntire
"Footprints" -- T.O.K.
"Maps" -- The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs

No idea what this says or means except that I'm now much more inclined to sing and dance at the computer. And it's really friggin' addictive.

Also -- Beloved Husband returns home today, which means a probably decrease in the amount of blogging and watching of the Gilmore Girls marathon. On the other hand, it'll be good to have a human in the house again -- I'm starting to narrate my internal monologue to the Wonder Dog and he's looking a little overwhelmed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

2 cents

My vote for the most bass-ackwards opinion piece about l'affaire Kaavya (should you live in a gossip-free cave) is today's op-ed by Whitney Otto in the NY Times.

Her main point -- you can't be a writer and an overachiever. Real writers, like, drink and smoke and stuff and that's what makes them great. Also, she tries to make a weird put-down of/ paean-to chick-lit, which is pretty daring for the author of How to Make an American Quilt.

I want to prove her central thesis wrong, but I feel like I'd just be offering myself up as an example, making it very easy for naysayers to point out my own short-comings. Which, of course, raises the question: would I be more offended at being called a bad writer or a bad overachiever?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Stop what you're doing and go watch this movie right now

I'm usually a really terrible person to watch television with. I'm an obsessive channel surfer and a speed reader, which means it's usually just a blur, and then when I do stop to watch something it's almost always a reality program in which people are horrible to each other.

BUT, tonight I stayed in with the puppy and saw an amazing movie on TCM -- Imitation of Life - Claudette Colbert, not Lana Turner.

I had read about it before as a famous tragic mulatto story, but it's way much more than that. It's about commerce, capitalism, single mothers, friendship, Aunt Jemima, education, race, and identity. And it's complicated, keeping up the surprises, despite being fundamentally a melodrama. For a 2006 audience, there are moments of discomfort watching Louise Beavers be the stereotypical mammy, but way fewer than watching a preview for "Bringing Down The House." And she's the hero. For her intelligence and ideas, not just her warm, fun-loving personality.

Favorite and most "holy cow, this is 1934" line:

Claudette Colbert about Louise Beavers' character's daughter: She's very smart.

Louise Beavers: We all start out smart. We don't get dumb till later.

Plus really great supporting performances from Ned Sparks and Warren William. And an amazing job from Fredi Washington, an important African American actress and civil rights advocate, unlike the white lady in the Sirk remake.

So go watch it. And if your friend stops by to deliver mangos 10 minutes before the end, you can make him stay and watch it and try not to tear up.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Houseguests and Handtools

Our most recent house-guest departed Wednesday AM, causing me to realize that, over the last month, we've had four people from assorted cities near and far camp out on our futon, and how nice it is.

Part of this I attribute to location -- my proposed slogan for New Haven is "halfway between where you are and where you want to be" [also a good motto for professional school] -- and it turns out to be somewhat true. People are often traveling from one place to another and find it convenient to camp out here. Or, people come here for weddings or workshops or just plain visits.

And, like many things, including, as I am discovering these days, racheting, the more you do it, the easier it is. So, even if I can weirdly morph into the kind of person who worries about whether there are flecks of toothpaste on the bathroom mirror, having one guest per week makes me calm down about whether every dust bunny has been hunted and exterminated.

Also, having a grocery store and an Apizza 1-2 blocks away does wonders for the ease of hostessing.

In other news, I am currently working as unskilled verging-on incompetent labor for the Carlotta Festival of New Plays. See racheting. Also see me two stories in the air on the genie changing gels. Also see me breaking the elaborate screen doors with my foot. There's nothing like working backstage, though, to get an appreciation for the enormous amounts of effort that go into putting up a show. Or three shows in rep. And it's made me come away with two vows: 1) I should make sure that what I write is good because several people will be involved in bringing it to life and it would be lame if it sucked. And 2) Inflatable sets. Totally underrepresented. Currently thinking . . . moonbounce?

Saturday, April 29, 2006


So after moaning on and on about how I can't find any decent books to read, I was recently ushering and found myself with lots of time on my hands and thus finished three pretty awesome books in short order. They are, chronologically:

1) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro -- if you've read the reviews and know what it's "about," you'll miss some of the suspense, but the good news is that it's as expertly crafted as mystery, and you'll still be turning the pages frantically trying to figure out "why" and "how" even if you know the "what." Also, I think it's actually not about what it's apparently about anyway. I think it's about something much sadder.

2) The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Dandicat -- a short story from this was excerpted in the New Yorker a few years ago. The weird thing for me was how little, in many ways, it actually felt like fiction, and how much it just felt like "Yup." Not at all the book I thought it was going to be after the first chapter, but good and memorable and, I think, much better than the book I thought it was going to turn into.

3) Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson -- OMG. I know, right, how, when you read Shakespeare, then you have this tendency to say to people "Wow, like Hamlet is pretty good, eh?" and everyone looks at you like "Uh huh. That's why there's been incessant hype about it for 4 centuries." Well, this may not be Hamlet, but it is like really famously good. And deservedly so. Man. Unsentimental coming of age is hard. Unsentimental yet captivating mentally ill people are hard. Difficult beauty of a landscape I've never experienced is hard. And yet, it's just so good. And really is, in some very fundamental ways about housekeeping. Both housekeeping and house keeping, what they mean and what they accomplish and what they inhibit. Anyway, just read it. Preferably, as I did, with a wonder-dog curled up on your lap.

In completely unrelated news, we are now randomly blessed with extra cable channels for a probably brief period. This means that I can spend every possible moment watching My Super Sweet Sixteen and call it research for a play. Transitioning back into the "real world" upon graduation will be pretty damn difficult at this rate.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Paper trail

In a (succesful) effort to avoid working on my play, I have been cleaning the house, which has generally been going swimmingly. Dishes washed, trash taken out, pictures hung, laundry put away, all fine, until today. When pretty much the only thing left for me to clean was my desk. And which forced me to confront my profound fear of paper.

Now, by and large, I am pretty intolerant of phobias. I mean, I understand that they exist and that they can be devastating, but whenever I hear about someone with a phobia, my Puritan ancestry kicks into high gear, and I just want to scold, "Oh, get over it. Whatever, it's just spiders/heights/space aliens/etc." But, I too, am afraid. I am afraid of paper.

I trace part of this to being in a program in which I read about 200 pages a week, almost all of which is Xeroxed or printed and write/revise between 1-40 pages a week. My desk is always cluttered with paper. My bag is always full of paper. I come up with systems, like folders or binders, but they tend to collapse under the sheer volume of paper. Also, much of it is drafts , a special kind of paper hell in which you can be carrying around 300 pages of virtually identical material, demarcated by only the subtlest changes. Add to this, the acculmulation of junk mail, bills, and the occasional wedding invitation or piece of real correspondance that plagues any modern household, and I stop being able to cope. I just let it pile up, until you can't even tell that my 5-foot long desk is made of wood.

I would rather do pretty much any chore that deal with paper. Dishes? Yep. Vacuum? Absolutely. Clean the toilet? No problem. I can even get a kind of karmic peace from scrubbing and scouring. But paper only brings me to a state of twitchy immobility, denial, and rage.

All of which is a long way of saying that on Thursday I called these people.

Which may be the best decision I've made all month.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A potpourri

Oy. A good, yet exhausting week, in which we traveled through 8 states and 1 district with no voting rights in an effort to celebrate both nights of Passover, the morning of Easter, a new baby, a friend recently returned from the Subcontinent, and my 90-some-year-old grandmother. Oh yeah, and due to circumstances too horrific and embarassing to recount, we (okay, Beloved Husband) refiled our taxes for the four-bajillionth time.

Which may be why I find myself blogging without much to say. Hence, a potpourri (that's right, stuff from trees, covered with underarm deoderant and sold to posh people):

1) This is cool. At least to me. Via Eve Tushnet.

2) They didn't award a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, even though they did publish the both honorific (hey, you almost got a Pulizter) and humiliating (see also: almost) list of runners-up. Can't say I was too heartbroken, not really having any dogs in the fight, but it's prompted some reflection on "Whither [wither?] playwriting?" Which, is, ya know, always fascinating to everyone.

3) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their baby and I totally didn't care. For real. They even named it some weirdo name and I didn't care. Yeah, I know, I was shocked, too. I think I may actually be at celebrity supersaturation. Thank God I have these bitches to keep me entertained.

4) The semester's almost over. Ah, the academic year.

5) Which means I'm 1/3 done with play school.

6) Oy again.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bites from the Big Apple

Went into NYC today to have lunch with the mom before she saw Lisa Kron's play Well, which, FYI, is great and you should all go see, like, immediately, right now.

Anyway, as I had already seen "Well," I hopped back over to the East Side, walked 20 blocks and roamed around window shopping, in Bloomingdale's and the Body Shop and Barneys. It was a gorgeous day and, despite carrying around a computer in my bag, I was just happy to be out and about people-and-clothes-watching. And thinking, far more frequently than I normally do, "Damn, I hope she's your daughter, mister." I decided, at Barneys, that I would just walk around each floor, looking at the designer collections and just touching things, that I thought were pretty, seeing as how there was nothing I could afford in the entire store, except tank tops and salt shakers, and I'm not buying a $48 tank top. I'm just not. Most things were nice, but not heart-stopping, but there was this one dress. Sigh. It was Zac Posen, against whom I've nursed a grudge for a while because he's apparently BFF with boyfriend-of-an-8-months-pregnant-lady-stealer Claire Danes, of which I disapprove (although he got redemption points for dressing Marissa Janet Winokur for the Tonys.) But I digress.

There was this dress. It was so beautiful. Off-white, button-down sundress in cotton or maybe silk, I think (something soft and flowy) with wide straps and a sash and pockets, and it looked young and fresh and adorable, but not little-girly. It was just beautiful. They had a smaller size which was definitely too small for me and a larger size which might have maybe been a possibility on a good day, except not because this dress was more than one month's rent on our 2-bedroom apartment. So I spent some time staring at it, and then ascended to the other floors, looked at shoes and home furnishings and the retardedly sexist-named Mrs. John L. Strong stationary. And on the way back down, I stopped off to visit it again. Behind me there was a super-skinny teenage girl with long brown hair, fabulous jeans and heeled boots and her super-skinny mom with long brown hair, fabulous jeans and heeled boots. I went up to my dress. I held its side. I started saying goodbye. "Mo-OM." I heard behind me. The girl was running. She caught up to me and grabbed the other side of the dress. "Oh my GOD! I have to try this ON! This dress is SO CUTE." Sigh. I let go of my side and looked at her. "Here," I said. "It's the cutest thing in the store."

And made it back to Grand Central, where I bought an ice-cream sandwich and the Lindsay Lohan/ Meryl Streep W to ease the pain.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Oh, this is why it is hard

"The main thing that we learn from a serious attempt to practice Christian virtues is that we fail." -- C.S. Lewis

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -- Samuel Beckett

And, of course, I am now infinitely more cheerful about the my religious and artistic life.

Off to fail!

Friday, March 31, 2006


I recently decided that despite what calendars and popular imagination tell us, there are in fact only 2 seasons in New England, not 4.

Salient Characteristics of Season A (as I'm calling it):
Back door = open to yard
Transportation = bicycle
Laundry = dries on clothesline
Typing = without gloves
Walking dog = generally pleasant
Clothing is worn = for self-expression

Salient Characteristics of Season B:
Back door = closed
Doors to room = closed
Curtains = closed
Transportation = bicycle + cursing, bus
Laundry = dries in dryer, dries on clothesline + cursing
Typing = with gloves, hat, fleece, 2 pairs of pants (indoors)
Walking dog = + cursing
Clothing is worn = to approximate bed for the painful hours that one is not asleep

And this is the first week since early October that feels like Season A.

The sun is shining, Beloved Husband is planting millions of vegetables in mini-greenhouses, the dog just learned how to fetch, the worms are contented, and I am happy. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Not grabbing my sawed-off shotgun and heading for the hills . . . yet

But I'm a lot closer to revolutionary anti-taxation wingnuttitude than I was a week ago. The summary:

1) 1 phone call to the IRS
2) 40 minutes with 3 different customer-service reps at H & R Block on Friday. Highlight of the conversation:
Customer Service Dude: Huh. Huh. Huh.
Me: Yes? Can you help?
CSD: Nope. But I've never seen anything like that. Huh.
Me: Do you know of someone I could talk to who could help?
CSD: Huh.

3) 25 minutes with another customer-service rep at H&R Block on Monday
4) 1 email from H & R Block yesterday
5) Another phone call to the IRS this morning
6) Yet another 30 minutes with H&R Block today

Net result: yes, the government really does want to penalize you for contributing to your retirement if you're a married person, filing separately. No really. That's what the IRS said. Penalty, penalty, penalty for getting married and trying to save money -- well, nice to learn what our nation's government is rewarding. Excuse me while I embark on a fury of shoe-shopping and cocaine-snortage to finally get some joy out of my hard-earned, oh wait, I no longer have a job . . . anyway, it's been a rough week.

So, maybe I'll go drop some tea into the Quinnipiac or something. Or just bang my head against my desk . . . over . . . and . . . over . . . again . . .

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hello, world

All right, so, many things have been happening recently. In the life realm, my play went up last week and also closed (4 perfs. and an invited dress) and I'm still adjusting to life without it. I think it's the odd joy of writing for the theater, that you basically spend six months hidden away from human contact, creating these people in your brain, only to get four weeks to spend with actual human beings making it all possible. And now I'm back to the solitary part again, and I kind of miss (okay, I really miss) the live human beings. I think, though, weirdly, being without them will force me to invest in my imaginary ones.

You know, when I lay it out like this, it always surprises me what I spend my days doing.

I also, thanks to the play, got to see friends and family, albeit too briefly, which always has the nice effect of situating me more firmly in the world. Like saying "Here is my apartment" and "this is where we go to get pizza" causes my apartment and pizza place to come more into being. I blame this, of course, on J. L. Austin.

And, in public intellectual news (because, really, if not to paste things on one's cat, why does one have a blog but to be a public intellectual?) here's an article recently of note: the fairly thorough and rather snarky profile of Caitlin Flanagan in Elle. Now, you'll all have to take my word on this because I merely ranted these thoughts aloud to Beloved Husband instead of posting them in searchable permanence on the internet, but I totally said all this stuff like a year ago. Well, maybe without the interview-based anecdotes. But everything else. Really. Actually, the interview stuff is the most surprising to me -- how she comes across in this article and in her New Yorker pieces as . . . passive-aggressive and wussy. And, frankly, even when I was throwing my Atlantic across the room screaming, "'Had no career ambitions other than motherhood' my ass! You have a Master's Degree!" I appreciated the fact that she didn't pull punches. That she fought, dare I say it, like a man, being direct and aggresssive, and, yes, sometimes wrong, but also -- Social Security for nannies -- sometimes right. Here she cops the "ooooh, I love my babies so much I couldn't stand to be apart from them but who am I to judge another woman, p.s. I am toally judging you" crap that we should all be utterly sick of by now. Finally, I feel like it just bears saying that, okay, Caitlin, you made your name with the controversial pronouncement that "When a mother works, something is lost." However, I gotta say having lived through the working-mother thing, I'm pretty sure that when a mother stays home with the sons she's self-described obsessed with, employing a nanny, a personal assistant, and a maid in order to tell the world how much she loves sacrificing for her family, something is also lost. Namely, those two kids' shot at growing up to be themselves.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Done is the next best thing to good

I finally finished my skirt yesterday! I've been working on it intermittently since January, and (as BH can testify) there were several close calls in which I swore like a sailor with gangrene in his peg leg and threatened to throw the machine out our first floor window. But, in a burst of work-avoiding productivity, I actually finished the darn thing yesterday, and, as soon as we can afford a digital camera, I may even post a picture.

For the last couple weeks, I've been storing the sewing machine in the costume shop at school, where the very nice costume ladies have been helping me when asked, but largely staying out of my hair, which I appreciated because this really is the first thing I've ever sewn by myself. Like getting two pieces of fabric to attach in a straight line was a mammothly big step here. And so, when, after slaving for weeks over my basic, basic, easy skirt, I finally finished, the head costume dude walks in. And starts inspecting my (hideous, deformed) seams. He is aghast. He reaches for a seam ripper. "But if you had only tucked under the edge, then this wouldn't fray . . . how about we just rip this out and --" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" I reply. I am done. I need to just wear this skirt, even if evaporates into thread after the first outing, even if it's uneven and raggedy and see-thru (don't worry, I do own a half-slip, Mom).

Next time, I can properly measure things and tuck the edges under.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oh the dog


So the dog decided to start destroying things when left at home alone. This, after having been very well behaved when solo until about 3 days ago. So he destroyed the gardenia we were nurturing through the winter. And he got into the garbage, eating, we suspect moldy cheese or some other unpleasant foodstuff, requiring BH to get up every hour, on the hour, last night to let the dog relieve himself. His gut seems finally to have calmed down, but still. It was a heck of a night. I don't know what we're going to do the next time we leave the house. And mostly, I don't know WHY. You've been fine for months, dog. Why now? There wasn't even anything GOOD in the garbage. We just got you neutered, which, according to everything I've read, is supposed to make you BETTER behaved and CALMER.

The Mercedes is starting to look pretty good right now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Divine Secret Senses of the Evensong Hunger Moon who's Good in Bed

I don't know what to read.

I mean, I realize this sounds like a stupid complaint because clearly I am in writing school and one of the quirks of writing school is that they also make you read a lot, but the net result is that when, such as now, I actually have time to read things other than plays assigned for class, I don't know what to read.

It's Spring Break, and, although I'm staying home in chilly New England, to celebrate the breakiness of it, I figured I should read "something fun" and turned, as I sometimes do, to the genre known as "women's literary fiction."

Now, just in case all you read is Proust, I should explain that "women's literary fiction" is a distinct genre from "chick lit." Chick lit books feature educated young women with glamorous but frustrating jobs in big cities who date a score of amusingly dreadful men before noticing the cute, smart, wealthy guy with the great career who's been there all along. You know, that guy. Chick lit books end with weddings and shoe shopping, not necessarily in that order.

Women's literary fiction, however, is about an older, more conflict-ridden woman, who has been burned in love and family and finds herself at some sort of crossroads. She is helped by a kind gay/ black/ Chinese/ elderly person/ troubled teenager with experience and perspective who helps the woman sort through her troubled past and embrace with passion her uncertain future. At the end of the book, there is always 1 DEATH (usually the helper person, esp. if they are old or gay, although not necessarily) and 1 BIRTH (always following the accidental/ miraculous impregnation of the troubled woman who either was not interested in reproduction or thought herself to be infertile).

Now, look. I like being uplifted as much as the next girl. Truly. I unironically cried at "Titanic." And, after six months of Aeschylus and Chekhov, I keep thinking that I want to crawl in bed with Jennifer Weiner et al. I started reading this kind of book as escapism a few years ago, and I figured, it's time to escape again. So, this past Sunday, I did virtually nothing other than read National Book Award winner (!) Three Junes by Julia Glass. And there's the 35-year old woman. And the life-affirming dead gay guy. And the accidental pregnancy.

People, please. Get it together. Write something different! Isn't there something out there between Dostoyevsky and US Magazine? I don't want to spend my Spring Break reading post-Oscar bitchiness on Defamer. Or, to amend, I don't want to spend my Spring Break only reading post-Oscar bitchiness on Defamer.


This is where, Beloved Husband butts in and says, "Hey, if you're going to writing school, why don't you take some time and, ya know, write?" And that's why, Dear Reader, I married him.

Monday, February 27, 2006


My own fingernails: bitten, crumbly, bleeding wrecks. Been biting them since I was 8, and, although, they sometimes surface in moments of great calm and look sorta normal-like, they can only be kept presentable with the help of regular manicures, which I have deemed an unconscionable luxury.

Our dog's fingernails: strong, long, healthy, capable of putting deep grooves in the lovely pinewood floors of our apartment.

One of us is getting their nails trimmed and filed professionally tomorrow.

The other one is bringing the dog treats.


[So, I should have posted this like 8 months ago, but I didn't, so I am now.]

I had been going to a fair number of baseball games this past year. Orioles/Red Sox, and then Nationals/ everybody. And baseball games as Richard Greenberg and everyone else knows can be kind of mesmerizing and kind of really boring. And, during the boring bits, when you're not drinking beer or eating hot dogs or pretzels or ice cream or cotton candy. But not nachos. Never nachos. Anyway, when you're not eating and the game is a wee bit boring, you start looking around the stadium, and if you're me, you notice something weird.

Chicks are wearing pink baseball caps.

And, at first, I'm really annoyed. Now, I'm actually pretty annoyed already by the fact that you can get multiple versions of the same team's cap -- red on blue, blue on red, etc., but at least within a realm of possibility delineated by the team's official colors. Baseball caps are an expression of allegiance, they let people know from far away what team you're on -- they can provoke instant sympathy or else, they can provoke something like when our next door neighbors made Beloved Husband's friends move their car, b/c of one of them was wearing a Sox cap.

But pink?


First, there's the total utterly unsexiness of the pink baseball cap. Unlike a real baseball cap, which, if you're a girl, has a kind of "I'm wearing my boyfriend's too-big t-shirt kind of thing," the pink cap attempts femininity. And then fails. Because it's not actually flattering at all. And, unlike real baseball caps, which get cuter the more worn and dingy they are, the pink caps only look gross when they're not brand new.

But even more importantly, they are undermining the entire point of a baseball cap. Unless you are right up close to someone, you can't tell whether she's Cubs or White Sox, Angel or Devil Ray, it's all a pink blur. This is important information, ladies, this is why you wear a baseball cap, and now you're not broadcasting anything.


After mulling it over, for a couple of games, though, and getting progressively angrier at the pink chicks, it finally dawned on me what was going on. The baseball caps were doing what they always did; I just wasn't getting it. The caps weren't there to show team allegiance, that was just a secondary benefit. They were there to show something far more important: membership in Team Girl. Instantly, gazing out on a stadium, I could identify the girls. There they were, a whole pink-capped sea of them. And, maybe when cap-wearing girl passes another cap-wearing girl, they exchange a small nod, an acknowlegment, that yes, before their team-fandom, comes their gender-fandom.

I could finally relax. I comfortably into my seat. I accepted the pink caps. I even smiled at the Spice-Girls-faux-feminism of it.

Until I saw the them.

A smaller subset of chicks was wearing lavender caps.

I give up.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why you don't put a guy with Asberger's in a prominent public position . . .

Larry Summers is finally out of Harvard, and, while there's not a lot of love lost between us, I'm also pretty pissed about the way the whole thing went down. Was LS a boor/oaf/jerk with a permanent case of foot-in-mouth disease? Abso-freakin-lutely. Would I have picked him were on on the committee? Hells no.

But was he also right about Harvard's doing a number of retardo things, justified solely by "I'm Harvard, bitch!" ? Um, yeah. To wit, unlike 99.9% of all other educational instutions, unlike Summers arrived, Harvard used a 14-point grade scale. Thus, when applying to oh, say, a job, or an internship, or grad school, or pretty much anything on which your GPA was required, you had to convert your 14-pt grade into the 4.0 system. And it took boorish, oafish, jerky LS to say "Hey, that's dumb. Stop doing that." Which is pretty much how he interacted with everybody.

The best summary I've found of the whole shebang is here.
And the worst news from my perspective is that the #2 candidate is rocking Columbia's world while we're back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

O'Malley, stop looking at my vah-jay-JAY

So, "The Vagina Monologues." It's V-Day (or it was a week ago, I'm catching up here) and colleges around the country are performing Eve Ensler's woman-parts-positive monologue-fest. Is it a good play? Eh. Is it a good thing to be doing? I'm not sure, but I think so. When I saw it in college, I was deeply moved, not just by the actors onstage but by the sense of community. This giant group of women, none of whom were part of the usual "theater scene" all came together because they believed in the project, and, (in contrast to such goals as "make connections" "establish my career" etc) to have fun.

Ten Red Hen, whom I met, oddly, at a wedding years ago, makes some excellent points about the whole V-Day deal, but I also think she misses several important vaginal boats.

Yes, it's not that great a play. Yes, it's probably more about therapy in some ways than truly amazing art, but so what. I don't know if Eve Ensler was gunning for the Pulitzer, so much as trying to hit a chord with women, and, like it or not, the chord hitting.

'Hen criticizes The Vagina Monologues for being "your mother's feminism" and not "challenging," while at the same time, recounting stories of college-age women who have a hard time talking about their own sexuality. Which, to me, raises the question: is this really so generationally removed, or do many women, even now, need to reclaim the word, reclaim the idea of "Hey, I have a vagina and I like it." Hell, when Ensler wrote the piece, there were no Brazilian bikini waxes, there was no "labia reconstruction surgery." Just being okay with having the vagina God gave you seems even more revolutionary now than it was 10 years ago.

I'm not sure what "your mother's feminism" is (and, frankly, the tone of it is pretty anti-woman sounding to me -- but maybe that's just because I like my mother). However, the V-Day movement as I saw it was student-directed and student propelled, not a lot of aging boomers with gray pigtails storming the campuses and demanding that we all get down on the floor with hand mirrors.

Finally, 'Hen's final point seems to me, the most off-base. To quote:

Ensler clearly has a schtick she doesn't mean to change. When one of the actors from the above my friend's production actually attempted to write her own vagina monologue, about the misogyny of her religious background and her own exploration of her sexuality--Ensler called up and reamed the producer out for daring to add anything to her precious text.

I'm sure she did. Because she had a union contract with the theater. To produce every word she wrote, without changing the old ones or adding new ones. Because the posters said "The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler." Because that's how plays get produced in this country. And, if your friend's actor wanted to write about her own vagina and perform about her own vagina, that's fantastic. The 'Monologues as currently written are lacking in diversity and depth. Great. Fabulous. Call it "The Vagina Show." "Vaginas on Parade." Sell tickets. I'll be there. But don't use feminism as an excuse to break copyright.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


So, I'm supposed to write a play.

This is, after all, why I decided to go to playwriting school. However, I am in rehearsal and in classes and running around like a crazy person and trying to fill out my financial aid information and occasionally trying to see friends and family and loved ones and dog, not to mention go to church, exercise, or eat meals, and it begins to dawn on me that I am too busy with drama school to write my play.

So I will write my blog.

Problem = unsolved.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Goodnight sweet Nick

So Nick got the "Out." And, not without reason. His suit was weirdly girly. And mauve. Mauve is rarely the right answer. Stoner Kara, therefore, is mysteriously still "In." But the bigger mystery, really, is Santino. He is not that good. He has not won a challenge in ages. In fact, he is routinely almost booted out and then miraculously saved from the chopping block. Why? Well, the judges will insist "Oh, Santino is so talented, he just [fill in the blank]" "He just went too far." "He just doesn't know what works on a woman's body." "He just made the flowers shiny." No, Heidi, Mugatu, Nina, and Special Guests, he just doesn't design very well! He just doesn't! He keeps making the same dress over and over again!!!

Now, for anyone (hello? hello?) out there who doesn't routinely follow Bravo, this may all seem like the irrelevant bitchy picking of nits (and, I mean, okay, it is). BUT, there's a larger issue at stake, I think, which is the "Assholes must be fabulous artists" disease. Satino stays on Project Runway not despite his digusting derogatory comments and unflappable arrognance but because of it. Blame it on Van Gogh or Liam Gallagher but we're still in the twitches of Romanticism, and people love them crazy madmen artists. And, I think it's only fair to point out, I mean madMEN.

I really think that if the Project Runway designs were presented to the judges with no knowledge of who designed them our balding, bearded Missourian friend would be long gone. And, frankly, as a woman artist who tends to show up places on time, make sure everyone's eaten properly, and send thank-you notes, I'm a little peeved when I see being a jerkwad equated with being that much closer to the gods. I want a pantheon that appreciates "please" and "thank you," dammit, and, especially now that we're missing a famous "nice girl artist," shit like this makes me mad.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

As you know, in fashion, one day you are IN, and the next day . . .

So tonight's the almost-pre-ante-penultimate "Project Runway" and I just gotta say that if Kara doesn't get the high-heeled Teutonic boot, I am going to be extremely surprised. Daniel V. and his elaborately greasy hair are clearly not going anywhere (well, okay, partly just because he has immunity, true) and Chloe and Nick should hang on by virtue of their tastefulness and general good spirits (although, Nick's been having a rough time recently ever since the motherf***ing walkoff, poor dear). The judges still seem to have a soft spot for Santino (although, if he designs another detail-saturated, butt-enhancing baby-doll dress don't say I didn't warn you.) But Kara, I mean, why are you still here? Your danger dress was so, so lame.

Anyway, if it's not Kara, then I guess it would be Nick, because Santino is just too good for TV and Chloe has been a reliable second-place for way too many challenges. And, without the ability to say "Andrae" will Santino continue the Tim Gunn impression? Or will it just be too sad? Sigh. Only 4 more weeks left and then what will I do with my Wednesday nights? Not watch Mugatu Kors, that's for sure.

In other news, the dog passed obedience school tonight. He even got a little special toy for having done his homework well. I give the toy a week, tops, before he rips it open to devour its squishy plush innards, varmit hunter that he is. But really, as long as he's not eating my slippers, I can't complain. Until 5am this morning, when he wakes me up to step on my neck and whack his happy tail in my sleepy, sleepy face. Then, I can complain.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Art meets life

So, I'm home alone with the dog watching "Skulls" on channel 149 and "Legally Blonde" on channel 26. This is either the trashiest Ivy League thing I've ever done, or the Ivy Leaguiest trashy thing. Either way, the Harvard/Yale + Reese/Joshua Jackson doubleheader is pretty great.

Also, there is a character in "Skulls" named Caleb Mandrake, which is hysterical. He should totally hook up with Vivian Kensington from "Legally Blonde."

And I should get a pen with purple feathers on top.

And a pink rhinestone-studded dog collar.

For the dog.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Uncommon Woman

So Wendy Wasserstein died today. I found out, in a setting I'd find hokey if I couldn't vouch for its veracity. All the playwrights from Drama School went to the local arts high school and spoke to the theater students about writing (ours and theirs) and art and life. It was fun, probably partly for the ego-stroking of getting asked questions as though I had any business answering them, and part of it because talking to high school students about writing plays is almost unavoidably fun. And then, on our 10 minute break, L. said to me, "Wendy Wasserstein died today."

I finished up talking to the kids, and walked home alone, as the weather (and, I swear, it happened like this, heavy-handedness be damned) turned cold and a light drizzle started. I read her NY Times obit. sent to be by my mom, and just sat there in the Drama Library stunned by a lot of things. By the fact that she's my mom's age, and graduated from a Seven Sisters School in the same year. By the fact that she just had a play go up at Lincoln Center which dared, in an era that produces such deep fare as "Bush is Bad," to implicate a liberal baby-boomer for prejudice against Republicans. By the fact that she has a 6-year-old girl and that's fucking young to lose 100% of your parents. And by the fact that I still, somehow, found the Times and the AP obituaries condescending. Incomplete. Maybe they always say only the most obvious things -- Thomas Edison, inventor of light bulb, or whatever -- but still. Funny feminist isn't enough. Her plays are heartbreaking, too, especially if you've been paying attention to women, to people, for the past 30 years.

I directed "Uncommon Women and Others" my sophomore year of college. It was the first play I ever directed and it her final play from Drama School. When I gave the scripts to my actors and we had a read-through, one of the women -- a fantastically smart, perceptive, and acerbic person -- asked me "So, you're not planning on doing this straight, are you? I mean, what's your interpretation?" I was taken aback and mumbled something, but the truth was, yeah, I was going to direct it pretty damn straight, and dare audiences in 1999 not to see themselves up there. And I think it worked.

A couple of years later I was at a very nice event held by a very retarded "arts" society and Wasserstein was there to pay homage to the Andre Bishop, the guest of honor. Beloved Husband (at that point, actually, Beloved Boyfriend) kept kicking me under the table to make me go up to her and talk, and I eventually stammered something like "Wow, you're really great" before she went to assume her rightful place next to Natalie Portman. Oh well, he assured me, you'll meet her again.

The last play I directed in college (and, who knows, perhaps ever) was "Three Sisters" and BH pointed out to me a few years ago that in her book, "Shiksa Goddess," Wasserstein says that every play she's ever written has the same plot as "Three Sisters." It's true, too. Put that in your obituary.