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!