Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I had my annual

What I did: went to the doctor for the yearly lady parts inspection.

What I did beforehand: dreamed.



What I wore: the jeans I found on my closet floor, collapsed into a pair of conjoined denim rings; enormous gray-brown I-can't-even sweater.

Who went with me: my iPhone, which is a SE, which is like 6 guts in a 5 case, which I got because I broke my 6. 

How I got on the schedule: every year they have you address a postcard to your future self, which they mail in 11 months. I am often perplexed by the arrival of a postcard addressed in my own girlish printing. The postcard is a reminder to call for my next appointment. The calendar in my phone could also do the reminding. Like, I have an entry on November 16th of every year to order a 16 lb. turkey.

Why I saw this show: I would like to think that submitting to the yearly lady parts inspection will keep me from succumbing to a preventable lady parts illnesses. 

Where I sat: on the table, with the paper dress opening to the front. 

Things that were sad: I had to put a couple of 1s on the questionnaire (pictured below), but when my doctor and I discussed it, she said a lot of her patients are reporting all 3s. And canceling appointments because they can't bring themselves to show up. 

Things that were funny: when I'm at the doctor I always take off my clothes in a very bizarre order like my bra before my shirt like I'm changing into my swimsuit in the car or something and then I snap out of it and feel obliged to try to tidy my clothes on the chair like oh you know I can't leave them in a weird inside-out heap like I'm at home because the doctor might think I'm a nut job and but so I'm rolling clothes like that's actually folding. The only reason my shoes come off first is because they always weigh you. Everything seems new and unusual every year, even though I've been around since the 60s and this visit was awkward but entirely predictable. I managed to make it like I'm 8 years old at my first sleepover or something. Also, I attempted to exert my will on the situation and kept my socks on even though the nurse said to take everything off.

Things that were not funny: last year at this appointment, the doctor ordered an ultrasound and I had a very memorable and unpleasant experience involving a tired technician who couldn't get anything to save, an impatient and imperious doctor stuffed into a three-piece suit with a lavender shirt and enormous gold cufflinks who was not my regular doctor, a discussion of things in my body as if I weren't a sentient being present in the room, and an unanticipated and abrupt encounter with Vice President-elect Mike Pence's favorite government mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasound device. 

Something I ate: the second to last bagel when I got home. There's a strip mall near Bedhead Hills with a decent bagel place with a Jewish name and flirty Latina women behind the counter who call me "Sweetie" and make me glad I stopped by.

What it is: probably too much information already.

Who should see it: no, actually. I took a selfie in that pink paper gown and it's so very remarkably terrible I'm not including it.

What I saw on the way home: it started to rain again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I changed

What I saw: all the color was washed away. I woke up alone, except for the cat, and he did that thing where he sits on my chest, purring, and puts his paws on my mouth. I hit the snooze button five times. The sky outside was white, the bare tree branches black against the morning sky. Bird-shaped silhouettes shot by, too fast to capture. A squirrel ran along a branch from one tree to the next, its tail straight out behind it. Do they do that for balance?

What I did beforehand: dreamed of clutching a stainless steel handrail in a long, tan brick hallway as I failed to outrun the collapse of the white linoleum tile floor.

What I wore until 8:30 a.m.: purple long-sleeve robot t-shirt that I got at Bumbershoot several lifetimes ago that now has a satsuma-sized hole in the right elbow, Lunya black pajama pants (so comfy, you can sleep with them on backwards), wedding ring, retainer, nightguard. 

Who was with me until 8:30 : Schwartz.

What I thought about: exactly how much longer I could stay in bed. Also, where was the Bacon Provider?

What I wore until 11:00 a.m.: black Pikeur full-seat breeches, hot-pink ProCompression knee socks, custom Vogel field boots, black Tanner belt, pink Lululemon top with too-long sleeves and annoying thumb-holes, long sleeve olive Ralph Lauren polo shirt, ponytail.

Who was with me until 11:00 : barn people.

Where I sat: on Hado.

What I thought about: being asked to do a canter half-pass when I don’t know how and feeling like a 2nd grader sitting in on a high school calculus class. 

What I wore until 1:30 p.m.: James stretch jeans, Doc Martin pilgrim strap shoes that I’ve been stomping around in since the 90s, indigo-dyed Tanner belt, black tank, brown Eileen Fisher jersey top, black loose knit Steve Madden sweater, citrine earrings, mascara, just enough eyeshadow to make it look like I care about my appearance.

Who was with me until 1:30 : lunch date. 

Something I ate: soup and salad. My friend didn’t get dessert so I felt like I couldn’t. 

What I thought about/Things that were sad: going out to lunch and not getting dessert. Also, that my friend isn't as alarmed as I am that Wall Street seems to like the idea of the accused-rapist president-elect just fine. Also, my friend’s recent bike wreck.  

What I wore until 3:30 p.m.: re-soled Asolo hiking boots with custom orthotics, black Helly Hansen full-zip rain pants, black tank top, blue Irideon zip-neck base layer top, red men’s Gore-Tex waterproof jacket that one of my kids brought home from a NOLS program, gray wool hat.

Who was with me until 3:30: the dogs.

What I thought about: ticks. Also, how my dad once told me that if you go in the woods when it's raining, the trees catch most of the rain. 

Things that were funny: the autumn trees have flung off their leaves and can catch the rain no better than I can. 

Why I saw this show: you have to walk the dogs every day or they poop in the house. If you have the right rain gear, a walk in the rain is as good as a walk on a fine day. 

Things that were not funny: I had to stop and pick a tick off Captain. Also, how bad I am at selfies.

What I wore after that: Sweaty Betty lounge pants and giant gray-brown sweater.

Who went with me after that: mostly alone in the house with Twitter, although I guess 19 was rattling around upstairs.

What I didn't put much thought into: deleting "Giving Tuesday" solicitation emails, zombies, Xmas gifts, writing this.

What it is: Tuesday.

Who should do it: people who like to change their clothes.

What I saw on the way home: this decorated gourd.

It has feathers. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

I lied

What I did: lied at the dentist's office.

What I did beforehand: took the train to Grand Central. 

What I wore: jeans and sneakers.

Who went with me: 19.

Why I was there: 19 cracked a filling.

Where I sat: the lobby, watching one of those game shows where they ask people harder and harder multiple choice questions.

How I learned to lie: I was born honest, not knowing how to lie. Forbidden to touch my mother’s sewing machine, I sewed through my finger when I was 4, breaking the needle off and requiring stitches. Twice. 

When I was 5, I stole a decorative cardinal from my mother's craft supples and inserted the wire on its foot into the hole of an electrical wall socket; I found out what getting shocked feels like. My mother discovered me trying to wash away the terrible burning feeling, and I refused to tell her what happened. 

When I was 9, I was friends with the popular girls in my elementary school class, and my mother pointedly instructed me that if any of them ever ask me to do anything I wasn't comfortable with, I could say that my mother wouldn't let me.

Things that were sad: when I was 12, I was sent to a summer camp in Colorado where I went horse camping and did not learn to cinch my girth tight enough and the other girls were extravagantly mean to all newcomers, and if I had known enough to be a malingerer, I would have invented stomachaches. Conveniently, I did not have to invent stomachaches, for I spent days on end in the infirmary with diarrhea.

When I was 13, my family went to a friend’s cabin on a lake in Missouri and my brother and I exaggerated our experience with horses and talked the wranglers into giving us a string of sour trail horses to go ride unsupervised. One horse bolts back to the barn with the youngest of us. Mine bucked me off onto a gravel road. I got stitches but will always have rocks in my head.

When I was 15, my best friend B-- who taught me all the right details about wearing preppy clothes-- took real English riding lessons and wore a black velvet helmet and tan jodhpurs and I was so jealous I avoided speaking to her for seven years. 

Things that were funny: When I was 17, I was late for French class several times a week because Excusez-moi, Monsieur Masson! Je suis tres désolée parce que je suis en retard. J'ai aidé mon amie Aimee à monter les escaliers. Or even, I am so sorry Mr. Masson, I have terrible cramps today. No matter what my excuse, he reddened, shook his jowly, understanding face and allowed it.

When I was 20, I talked my way into a summer job waiting tables at the Rosebud, promising that I would definitely, positively stay on through the next school year. I was terrible at waiting tables, forgetting orders, dropping huge trays of food, and crying. I made big tips and quit in August. 

When I was 21, I wrote a fake-serious letter to a small brewery in Pennsylvania describing in hyperbolic terms a nearly-disastrous power outage saved only by a six-pack of their delicious cold beer. They sent me two cases, via their distributor, but upon arrival they almost did not give it to me because I did not appear to be of a legal age to drink. 

Things that were not funny: when I was 10, I breathlessly took strangers into my false confidences on a chair lift in Breckenridge, Colorado and said I was an accomplished gymnast hoping to make the U.S. Olympic team and almost never allowed to ski. 

When I was 18, I worked for a family in Wellesley, Massachusetts doing light housework and caring for their young children in the afternoons. The more days they asked me to come, the more I grew to hate them; they gave me migraines. I quit abruptly, concocting a story I no longer remember.

Something I ate: when I was 11, I made decent money babysitting, passing the hours snooping in peoples' drawers and tasting their food. I spent it on plastic model horses.

What it is: one of the receptionists at the dentist asked after my middle child. I might have had time to be honest if we hadn't been walking out the door, but it was so awkward to tell the truth. "He's fine," said I, invisibly cringing at my laziness.

Who should lie: I got out of the practice of lying when I got married, though once we had kids I pretended to be both the tooth fairy and Santa. 

What I saw on the way home: more rain.

Actually, this is a train bound for Grand Central

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I had two Sundays

What I saw: the Saturday after Thanksgiving I thought it was Sunday.

What I did beforehand: I set aside the Friday after Thanksgiving for doing anything that is not shopping.

What I wore: riding clothes until after my lesson, when I changed into jeans. 

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider. 19 was probably around but I didn't see him. 

How I got two Sundays: I don’t always know what day it is

Why I saw this show:  I've been distracted. We thought we lived in a democracy until we elected a woman and got an unqualified fraudster instead. When I show up at the barn, people ask me how I am, and I always say I'm doing great. I'm not doing great. I'm freaked out. 

Where I sat: car, horse, car, gas station, kitchen, living room

Planko in my living room

Things that were sad: last year at the time all the leaves were off the trees in our yard. This year, many still cling. In the arctic, it is winter when the polar ice cap should be growing and instead it is shrinking. We have caused a catastrophic global climate emergency and fixing it should be one of our highest priorities. 

Captain in a feelings chair

Also, Captain has deep feelings when people leave, and spends a day in a feelings chair.

"My name is Porn Finder"

Things that were funny:
 our houseguests played a lot of Boggle and though I played only briefly I found my sheet. Also, The Graduate's roommate built a colossal tower of Plankos.

We finished the last of the beer we brewed in June. It was a traditional British single-malt IPA that we named Brexit. We messed it up when we bottled it, and it turned out tasty but flat.

Schwartz has recovered from the rude dog at Thanksgiving and is back to dominating the household.

Things that were not funny: the proliferation of fake news is a popular new thing to talk about on social media. Does this mean we should assume that even the Washington Post "makes stuff up?" Also, someone lost half of the toilet-paper-roll-holder-thingy on Thanksgiving and it hasn't turned up yet.

Something I ate: homemade turkey pot-pie

What it is: Sunday panic is the dread of going back to work on Monday, probably more related to the feeling that weekends aren't long enough than that jobs are bad. Lately, the Bacon Provider had been traveling a lot, and too many trips have begun and ended on the weekends, so he's lost some weekends altogether. I am trying to convince him that we need a vacation in January, and he doesn't want to travel. Thinking it was Sunday on Saturday meant that I thought we were almost out of time. 

Who should see it: keep your days straight, and don't let Monday ruin your Sunday 

What I saw on the way home: my fuel light came on

Saturday, November 26, 2016

I went through the motions

What I did: Thanksgiving dinner for 9, with 5 sleep-over guests and 2 extra dogs

What I did beforehand: my Thanksgiving independence began as a college freshman. I went back east to school and my mother told me she wouldn’t pay for my to come home for it. I was told to get myself invited to other people’s houses. By junior year I was cooking in the empty dorm with a disposable roasting pan and purloined cafeteria dishes and silverware. I spent a month’s grocery money on a heavy Calphalon roasting pan in grad school, and could do a serviceable turkey gravy before I had my first kid. 

The rare years that we have traveled over Thanksgiving week, we’ve sworn, “Never again.”

Bacon Provider practicing selfies

For many years we have invited friends who don’t have family in the U.S. or can’t afford to get home or wouldn’t go home even if they could afford to. This practice put an end to an older tradition, where every Thanksgiving my husband and I would have a shouting fight over which wine to de-glaze the pan with or which dishes to use or whether we need water glasses on the table. 

What I wore: jeans and a favorite black shirt and Birkenstock clogs and an apron.

Who came to dinner: the Bacon Provider, 19, The Graduate, his roommate, B. who I befriended on Twitter, W. and her dog, P. and her girlfriend J. and dog

How I got the turkey: I pre-ordered an organic turkey from a local grocer. They asked 19 about his long hair, and offered to brine the turkey. 

Why I saw this show: I look forward to the day when our Thanksgiving celebrations include acknowledgement of the genocide of the indigenous peoples of North America. In the meantime, Thanksgiving is one of those sort of easy, happy little holidays that’s just about one, do-able thing (a meal), isn’t entangled with anything religious, and requires housecleaning but no significant decorating.

Where I sat: the Bacon Provider and I have a lot of dining room chairs, but only 8 that don’t wobble and feel a little bit broken. It took a number of rearrangements to make sure that the worst chairs would be ours, on the opposite ends.

Things that were sad: my middle child was not here. She texted me a picture of her homemade challah and made her own first turkey in Seattle. I ran out of time and didn’t call my older brother. One of the guest dogs chased and barked at Schwartz, so he spent the day hiding. 

I know how he feels.

Nothing has felt the same since the “election” of the Russian-sponsored pussy-grabber and his appointments parade of America’s Most Deplorable to positions of power. It’s clear he doesn’t know what a president does, but at least he’s surrounding himself with an expert panel of white supremacists, wife-beaters, homophobes, school-destroyers, war-mongers, xenophobes, and anti-Semites. I think we’re fucked.

I glumly readied the dining room for the holiday the weekend before, and finally moved the furniture around so someone could sleep on the sofa bed in there, but didn't set the table in advance because I worried the cat would jump on it.

Things that were funny: P. and I substituted a homemade spice mixture in all recipes involving cinnamon because J. is allergic. We used allspice, cardamom, anise, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and white pepper. We had to make it over and over again. It was fine.

Things that were not funny: the day before the Bacon Provider tired to show me an article about spatchcocking a turkey. Like we were going to wake up on Thanksgiving morning, abandon our thirty years’ experience with roasting and basting, and carve up the raw turkey carcass just because of something he saw online. Also, he disagreed with me about putting water glasses on the table again. 

The brining done by the fancy store where I got the turkey wasn't as strong or effective as my own and so the turkey turned out a lot less juicy and perfect this year. 

Our old dog had a lot of accidents in the busy kitchen.

Something I ate: before dinner we had raw carrots and homemade spelt and wheat sourdough crackers with sesame and fennel seeds with La Tur, Point Reyes blue, and an aged cheddar. At dinner we had roast turkey, traditional bread-cube stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts cooked with leeks and butter, beet salad with shallots and walnuts, maple-syrup-sweetened mashed sweet potatoes with jalapeños, sourdough millet porridge rolls, and creamed spinach. For dessert, pumpkin cheesecake, apple-cranberry-pomegranate pie, crumble-topped apple-cranberry-pomegranate pie  and pumpkin pie. We also had a lot of wine.

What it is: I am one of the extraordinarily lucky people whose Friendsgiving Dinner coincides with Thanksgiving.

Who should invite old friends and new to Thanksgiving: anyone with room at their table. 

What I saw on the way home: W. and I took B. to his train back to the city around 9:30. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a toad. It was walking, not hopping. Stupid toad. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I walked to work

Sunday morning we woke up to snow. It had rained quite hard the night before, and a cold front came in during the night. If there had been snow in the forecast, I missed that news. Anyway, it was not the usual snow of a New York winter, but the heavy, wet, out of season stuff. 

What I saw: I was walking to work in the winter of 2008. We lived in Seattle then. I had a paying job and neighbors I knew. A different life. 

What I did beforehand: got up, got dressed, got the dogs squared away, got my kids up, did some get-ready-for-school yelling, made my lunch, complained that it wasn't a snow day, decided whether the walk to school in the slushy snow was going to ruin my boots. The snow hadn't stuck to the pavement.

What I wore: tights and boots and a wool skirt. The school had a strict dress code for students. I would have just as soon worn jeans every day, but jeans were only allowed on Fridays, except when there was mass. Mass days were dress-up days. I had a heavy bag full of grading and a sack lunch.

Who went with me: I walked alone to school—alone with my resentment about the disconnect between my salary and the preparation and challenge of the job. 

How I got hit in the face with a snowball: I saw him before he threw it. He was standing on his porch, getting his New York Times. 

Why I got hit in the face with a snowball: it doesn't snow in Seattle very often, and I must have presented an irresistible target.

Things that were sad: it hurt.

Things that were funny (with apologies to Mel Brooks): snowballs that connect with other people are comedy. Snowballs that hit me in the face are tragedy.

Things that were not funny: I had no witty comeback, no arm to retaliate, and no time to do anything except keep walking to my job.

Something I ate: sweetened iced-tea, a non-fat peach yogurt, a banana and a granola bar that I brought from home, but what I really wanted was a ham sandwich with a lot of mustard on Jewish rye bread, chips, a pickle, and a Coke. Every day when I ate my lunch, lunch-eating-me resented the hell out of lunch-making-me.

What it is: a harmless prank, committed without forethought, calls for a commensurate reply. Before we moved I used to think about bringing this neighbor a supply of snow from the mountains, which is something you can do in the spring in Seattle, where the mountains are a little over an hour away. Another idea I had involved planting something unexpected in his garden. I never did anything. 

Who should see it: they do say revenge is best served cold, but this one will have to go up to the universe as another un-righted wrong. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

I saw "The Band's Visit"

What I saw: The Band’s Visit, a production of the Atlantic Theater Company, at the Linda Gross Theater on W 20th Street between 8th and 9th

What I did beforehand: cleaned the dining room, watched the Bacon Provider bottle a batch of beer.

What I wore: black motorcycle boots that I bought at the Ranch & Home in Kennewick, Washington in 2002, rust stretch corduroy James jeans with horrifying and degrading non-functional front pockets, black Tanner belt, black Lululemon tank, black slouchy neck Smartwool top that they don’t make anymore, no makeup 

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, who seemed like he would have rather done nothing

How I got tickets/Why I saw this show: I subscribed to the season, online, but oh wait also okay in December of 2011 I ate lunch at a table next to Tony Shalhoub and was very distracted by his voice behind me, animatedly discussing the details of an exciting new project.

The percussionists had sticks in their bags. And I didn't know about the "h" then. Or also how soul-crushing New York is.

Where I sat: Row E, Seat 9

Things that were sad: this is not a tear-jerker, but is rather a sad musical about the desolate lives of lonely people 

Things that were funny: police band uniforms, roller disco, first dates. As we left the theater it seemed the rest of the audience filing out around us had lapsed into  speaking Hebrew.

Things that were not funny: the joy of celebrating the glorious diversity of our world’s different cultures now feels like a dangerous and naive indulgence

Something I ate: fried calamari at a decent Italian restaurant about a block away

What it is: a new musical adaptation of a movie, performed without intermission, and lasting 90 minutes. 

Who should see it: people who speak Arabic, people who speak Hebrew, people who are waiting for a phone call, policemen, fans of Tony Shalhoub

What I saw on the way home: a large and healthy-looking rat peeking its head out of the bushes on a traffic island near West 34th, torrential rain that rendered the surface of the normally dark and narrow Saw Mill Parkway a glassy lake, and a mouse that I did not run over about half a mile from home. It was one of the scariest drives home of my life.