Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Woman Under The Influence

Tonight I feel antsy. My husband has The Game on. My four-year old son is asking for Spongebob. And I need something else. Something.

I do/am many things, but I'm first and foremost a Mom. Which is great. I love being creative, silly, in-the-moment. I love making up games, songs, puppet shows and wearing costumes while dancing to classical music. I love it. I’m good at it.

But tonight I need some adult culture.

So, at the last minute, I decide to see a movie at the National Gallery of Art. “A Woman Under the Influence” with Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk filmed in 1974.

The decision is so last minute that I don’t have time to finish my bottle of Gourd, homemade pumpkin beer that my neighbor made. So, I pour the rest into a travel mug, kiss my husband and son goodbye, grab my Metro card and run off to the film.

I picked The Wrong Film.

“A Woman Under The Influence” is one hour and 55 minutes of dark, tortuous madness with powerhouse Gena Rowlands playing a mother of three who is, as described in the Gallery’s brochure, a “wife and mother struggling to tame her anarchic nature.”

Well, that’s one way to put it.

Another way is that she's a severely manic-depressive alcoholic whose complete psychic breakdown pushes her confused, rough, blue-collar husband (played amazingly by Falk) to have her committed to a mental institution.

But don't take my word for it.

I break the first rule of seeing a movie at an art gallery: Always sit near the aisle because there’s a chance, in some instances quite high, that it could suck. I’m just being honest.

But this movie doesn’t suck. Quite the opposite. Watching this mother’s quirky fun, especially the scene where the kids wear costumes while dancing to classical music, turn quickly into inappropriate behavior and eventually pure madness is painful.

The kids are frightened. Family members are unable to help. The husband says all the wrong things and just wants her to “be herself.” People in the audience are so uncomfortable I watch them squirm, particularly during the scene where she downs an entire glass of Seagram's 7.

The pressure on-screen isn't the only thing building. The beer I sneaked in has created so much pressure inside the travel mug that it goes off like a loud pellet gun when I open it.

"Oops. Sorry. It's just beer," I stage-whisper to the many faces turned my way. Artsy types can be so sensitive.

Another thing I don’t anticipate is how intense the beer would smell. And booze is probably the last thing anyone in the crowded theater wants to smell. It’s as if I’ve added a smell-o-rama feature to really ramp up the realism, to make my fellow theater-goers, already on an emotional precipice, physically repulsed as well.

The combination of the smell, guilt and disgusted eyes pinning me to my seat make it impossible to drink my beer. That and the fact that I am technically on federal property and technically breaking the law.

“But it’s homemade pumpkin beer,” I can hear myself explain to the federal guard.

I close the cap and wonder how much pressure has to build before the lid blows off in my bag. Will the entire theater point to me when the guard comes in, "It's her! It's her! She's the beer bomber!"

Suddenly and strongly, the only place I want to be is home with my son. All these thoughts attach themselves to the incredibly uncomfortable coming-home-from-the-mental-hospital-party scene that you just know isn't going to go well. I look down and realize I'm white-knuckling the arm rest. What the hell is next?

She’s gonna blow!

Finally the credits roll. The people around me leave immediately. My beer bomb doesn't explode. And I'm thankful that, at least for this film, I am a woman not under the influence.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Costco Effect, Hong Kong & The Kindness of Strangers

My husband said it was crazy. So, of course, I had to try it.

It's all part of my Challenge Myself Campaign. And this time the Challenge is a trip to Costco, which may not seem like much of a challenge.

But instead of renting a car, as my husband and I usually do, I'd save that money and simply take a hand cart on the DC Metro to Pentagon City in Virginia, the nearest location, with my four-year old son.

The trip began smoothly enough. The Metro wasn't crowded. My son sat happily in the empty hand cart. And Costco wasn't teeming with Grandmas from thirty different countries engaged in some twisted version of an Olympic shopping event. Easy-peasy.

As usual when I'm feeling a bit too pleased with myself, things turn.

I soon fall under, what I call, The Costco Effect. The Costco Effect renders all cautionary voices useless. Logic and reason are no longer applicable. (Please consult my accompanying scientific graph for further study.)

Even my very level-headed husband came home once with an 8-foot high restaurant-grade shelving unit and a Little Giant ladder. Not so strange except for the fact that we are apartment dwellers who already own a ladder.

The Costco Effect.

For my part, I ignore a faint but stern voice warning me to perhaps not get everything on my list. "Umm, Girlfriend, maybe now is not the time to get a gallon of olive oil and a 6-month supply of laundry detergent."

Huh? Who said that? Ooo look. A quart of grade A maple syrup ...

The Costco Effect also skews one's concept of weights and measures. Every item I place in the vast expanse of the Costco shopping cart looks so tiny and light. And practical. We do use a lot of A-1 sauce, I reason.

The checkout sobers me up. I see my dilemma ride by on the conveyor belt. Two jars of kalamata olives. Two pounds of coffee. Four pounds of butter. A restaurant-size container of soy sauce. These all seemed like wise purchases a mere ten minutes ago. Now they taunt me.

My God. What have I done?

But there's no turning back. As I sign the receipt, the cashier looks at me with concern. Or maybe it's pity. It's so hard to tell those two apart.

I load everything into my hand cart, all 106 pounds. (I know the poundage because I added up every ounce, milliliter and quart and converted them to pounds -- a separate Challenge in my Challenge Myself Campaign.)

I watch as the back left wheel begins to bend outward under the weight.

"Don't you do it. Don't you dare break off."

I stare at that wheel, the wobbly, rickety wheel, and push the cart gingerly, inch by careful inch, past the receipt-checker person and out into the parking lot.

That's where it hits me. This is all so familiar. Haven't I learn this lesson already?

Exhaust fumes from a fleet of SUVs cloud my vision and suddenly the year is 1994. I am leaving Mainland China via a secured pathway into Hong Kong, still a British Colony, and everything I own is on a small, cheap wheeled cart.

I'm heading to my favorite Hong Kong hostel in the now demolished Chungking Mansions near the Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry, when a tiny pin holding the wheel on pops out. A thin, tiny, insignificant-looking pin puts the kibosh on all forward progress.

Luckily a stranger on that congested Hong Kong street gives me a safety pin. I MacGyver it into a makeshift pin that holds the wheel on long enough for me to buy a new cart. That whole "a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link" concept, as corny as it sounds, is so true. Back in the parking lot, my weakest link of a wheel is barely able to rotate, an important feature for a wheel to have if it's to be of any use.

It's decision time.

I could catch a cab and give up the Challenge. Or trudge onward pushing a 106-pound cart and a four-year-old who is growing tired and suspicious that we are not, in fact, on a secret scavenger hunt. Also we are now heading into rush hour on the Metro, a very different animal indeed.

“I don’t know if I can do it,” I say out loud in a deep slouch. My son looks up at me with his earnest, blue eyes, furrows his brow and says, "You can do it, Mommy!"

I shoot upright. Yes. Yes! I CAN!

I regret my decision immediately.

The weight of the cart makes turning nearly impossible. I execute ridiculous 5-point turns to simply steer the damn thing in and out of elevators and around corners. I swear to myself to never again take the advice of a four-year-old in matters of transportation.

To complicate matters to a stupid degree, the doors of the Metro cars are vicious. They close on anything that doesn't clear its path in time. Suddenly those annoying, half-audible recorded messages reminding me of this mechanical fact are decidedly pertinent. Personal.

The doors open. Passengers get off. I have seconds to get the behemoth of a cart and my son safely onto the train amid a crowd of commuters. Then it hits me. I can't get the cart over the gap between the platform and the train car.

"Doors Closing," warns Ms. Train Message.

Suddenly a man, weathered and bone-thin, jumps in front of me and lifts my cart high enough for me to board as I simultaneously push my son onto the train.

I touch his arm. Thank you, Mr. Stranger Sir.

I want to offer him the pound of peanuts from my cart. But he's already gone into the crowd. The cart creaks. The wheel bends further outward. But we are on the train.

Now we just have to find a way to get off.

Eight stops later at Columbia Heights I recruit a young man in headphones to help me and he graciously agrees. Everyone is being so nice. Several fellow travelers joke and commiserate with me about my Challenge. I wonder if residual remnants of The Costco Effect have infected those around me. Or maybe it's because I look so vulnerable, so out of place on a rush hour train.

I still have to walk about 3/4 of a mile from the Columbia Heights Metro station to get home. But there are taxis everywhere should that wheel decide it's had enough. And there's also my husband waiting for me in a pub with a tall pint of Guinness. (This is an actual picture at the pub. That's my husband, my child and my shoulder.)

But I did it. With the help of a very agreeable child and several strangers, that is. And I'm fine with that. I'm also fine with the fact that I spent more on Guinness to repair myself than I would've spent on a rental car. Money well spent, I say.

And anyway...

I did it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Window Pain

I'm a list-maker.

  • Make doctor's appointment
  • Read some Chinese
  • Stare at wall

I like to see the things I want or need to do. The therapy of writing.

As a renter, there's many things I could contribute to the landlord's To-Do List. But I'm a tolerant tenant and put up with a lot. An unspoken agreement for cheap rent. Well, actually, it's because my husband fixes most things. (I married well.)

Except for the windows. They are old and either broken or in varying stages of breaking. In fact, more than a few panes are held together by packing tape -- which actually works surprisingly well.

After my son was born my worst fear was his going through one of the windows and landing three stories down. As if by genetic adaptation, though, he showed no interest in climbing or the windows.

But once during a severe windstorm I was standing in the kitchen when I heard glass break and saw the pieces fall to the ground.

“Oh, that sucks,” I remember thinking. “Someone’s plant just got blown through a window.”

A few minutes later, as I walked past my son playing on the living room carpet, I felt a cold breeze coming down the stairs. But all the windows are closed, I thought.

Feeling suddenly nauseous, I ran upstairs into his bedroom to find a sharp jagged broken piece of glass where the pane used to be, the curtain whipping violently into third-story air.

New To-Do List:

  • Break out remaining jagged glass
  • Barricade door

I pulled it together enough to hug my son and call my husband. Then hug my son again. I went back to that special flipped out place long enough to leave my landlord a flaming message.

"The glass in my son's bedroom window was just sucked out of the rotten casing by the wind!"

Or something like that.

A solid two years after this incident, the landlord pushed replacing some of our worst-case windows to the top of his to-do list. This includes replacing his temporary repair job in my son's room that left a gaping hole in the window sill.

When the window repairman came by to measure the windows I told him the story of how my son's window ended up in the alley below. He nonchalantly said, “Don’t worry. I understand. When I was his age, I fell 6 stories out of a window while my mom was in the shower."

What? Whatdidhejustsay??

He told me that when he was 4-years-old, he popped out a window screen in their 6th floor apartment and played a game of throwing out his toys one by one. Upset that all his toys were now on the ground, he leaned out the window to get them.

He remembers vividly hanging on, yelling, when a fire truck, sirens blaring, drove up. Out jumped a team of firemen carrying a trampoline. They yelled to him, “Go ahead. Jump! It’s safe! You’ll be okay! Just jump!”

So he jumped.

But that’s not what happened.

As the story was retold to him, a cab driver, lost in the neighborhood, looked up and saw what he thought was a doll falling out of a 6-story apartment window.

When he realized that it wasn’t a doll but a child, he rushed over to find the child on the soft, wet ground choking on his own tongue. He removed the child’s tongue and saved his life.

"Not a scratch or bruise on me," said the carpenter smiling in my doorway with his notebook of measurements in hand. "And I've been fixing windows for the past 35 years."

I am SO glad to be on this man's To-Do List.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Notes on a Food Purist

And so it began with a simple question. “Would you like some strawberry crisps?”

He says, “No thanks. I don’t like dried fruit."

She says, "They’re not dried fruit. They’re granola crisps."

He says, “I generally don’t like things called ‘crisps.’”

She says, “Just try one. They’re made with ancient grains, spelt, quinoa and uh, a-ma-ranth. Says right here on the bag it 'contains vitamin E and is good for the circulatory system.' You don’t like cold feet. Come on. Try one.”

He takes the tiniest nibble. “Too sweet.”

She says, “But it doesn’t have any high fructose … it’s a whole grain … oh, forget it.”

You could say I was forewarned that food would be an issue with my husband. While we were email courting, he bragged that he ate everything from “Albacore to Zucchini.”

Who brags about the variety of foods they eat, I thought? People who have been accused of overly selective eating habits. That’s who.

When it comes to eating, my husband doesn’t just have likes and dislikes. Well all have those. He has (an ever-growing list of) rules.

Don’t mix things that shouldn’t be mixed. Like adding buttered corn on top of mashed potatoes. (Yum.) Succotash is a big problem.

Sweet is sweet. Savory is savory. He wants to keep it that way. Sweet potatoes? Not his thing. And the whole honey-mustard combination disturbs him. Luckily, I don't have to deal with the conundrum of serving duck topped with a fruit compote or a ham with pineapple glaze because he’s a lacto-ovo pescetarian.

No fake meat. When I made vegetarian stuffed peppers, I told him I used wheat gluten flavored with oregano which I knew would be oddly more appetizing to him than "vegetarian sausage." And he doesn't want to actually see the vegetables that make up his veggie burger.

Only black beans. You'd think a lacto-ovo pescetarian would love beans. But I can’t ply him with a great northern, garbanzo, kidney, cannelloni or lima bean to save my life. He says he eats pinto but I've never actually seen this occur.

Sushi is a nighttime food. End of discussion. Dim sum brunch? I do that with other people.

If you like something at a restaurant, it’s a waste of time, not to mention risky, ordering anything else. I could even order for him at a restaurant we’ve never been to before.

If a salad contains vegetables, they are to be eaten first. Nuts and fruit on a salad shakes his belief system to its very core. Which is fine because he's allergic to nuts. (And onions.) And easy on the romaine. When I make a caprese salad, I make two: one for him undressed and one for me with olive oil, salt and pepper, the way they do in Italy and on Wikipedia.

Finish one thing on the plate completely before moving on to something else.

The size of freshly ground pepper shouldn’t be too big. “Why do people on these cooking shows always season everything with salt and pepper?” he wonders aloud as we watch the Food Network.

No eggplant. My beloved eggplant makes his mouth itch.

Biscotti? Nope. He doesn’t like the name. On that note, he refuses to say anything in a semi-French accent. So, he’ll eat a crepe, but call it a thin pancake.

Nothing with any hydrogenated ingredients. Ever. Goodbye Little Debbie. And all things Hostess.

And I truly think if were practical to set up a non-profit organization whose sole mission was to save carrot cake from walnuts, raisins and pineapple, he would.

Funny thing is, he’s not a health nut. Loves candy. Booze. Chips and ice cream. He just likes to keep food simple. And that can really complicate things.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ode To A Houseplant

To remember people and events important to us we keep physical things around as reminders. They make our lives layered and colorful.

For me, one of those things is plants. My two-story apartment is crawling with spider plants, wandering Jews, cacti, even a small tree. Houseplants fill me with giddy, sublime joy. But not for reasons you might think.

First a little background.

In some genetic roulette game, I inherited all of my mother’s Hungarian gypsy blood from her brood of seven. At age 21 I moved to China where I lived for over three years and traveled all around Asia. In a two-year period, I lived in 14 different places including a squat in New York City, a youth hostel in Seattle and a truck going cross country.

So, I owned very little. Committing to even a houseplant was out of the question.

That’s why in my late-20s while finishing my second degree, working as a reporter and a waitress, performing in theater and traveling quite a bit, I was shocked when a friend, who knew me quite well, gifted me a plant.

An African violet, to be exact, with delicate purple flowers nestled amid its foliage -- a living thing that without proper care and attention would die.

How very thoughtless.

What about that 3-day music festival on my calendar? What if I wanted to disappear for a month? The camping trip? I feel the walls closing in.

“What, pray tell, am I supposed to do with this?” I ask Rachel, my best friend and roommate in our railroad-style Victorian two-story walk-up apartment.

“I don’t know,” she answers. “Water it?”

While no veteran of 4-H agricultural camp, Rachel's advice is spot on. I water The Plant. I even enlist others to water it when I go traveling.

My commitment to The Plant shows. It thrives under my care. Always fresh looking, always green. I must have a knack. My arms ache from all the back patting.

About a year later, Rachel and I decide to rent a house with another friend and to leave our beloved apartment. We chat in my room about the move and what we plan to bring. Standing between us stands a small table and on that small table is The Plant, its pretty purple petals staring up at us.

“So, are you bringing all your furniture?” Rachel asks.

"There’s not much," I say. "My futon mattress. (looking down) This table. The Plant, of course.”

Our eyes both fall on The Plant.

“You know, I’ve been wanting to ask this for a long time," begins Rachel. "But, um, that plant … is it (pause) real?”

What? Did she really just ask that??

With my best defensive posture and emphatic enunciation, I say, “Rachel. Look. I think I can tell the difference between a fake plant and a real plant.”

I flip my hair back. I don't want to. But she deserves it.

“I’m sorry. Really,” counters Rachel. “It’s just that, … well, it’s never changed. At all.”

We stare at each other.


We look down at the plant.

Longer Pause.

I reach down and bend a leaf. It springs back with elastic vigor. I tug at a flower and the whole plant pops out of the little terra cotta flowerpot revealing not a spec of dirt, only Styrofoam. For one second, the entire year spent watering and caring for The Plant flashes through my mind like a movie montage.

Rachel and I stand there staring at each other, The Plant's silky polyester leaves dangling between my fingers. A purple flower pops off. I snap it back on.

"We need never speak of this again," I manage to say in complete seriousness before we both fall to the floor in a fit of giggles that lasts for days.

When I first wrote this story, I thought that she hadn't told anyone. But after reading my blog, she confessed to me that she has, in fact, told this story often over the years. To many people, actually. Sometimes to complete strangers. Standing in a grocery line, the topic of plants will come up and she'll hear herself saying, "You know, I have this friend who watered a fake ..."

I can't blame her. The comedic value is pretty high. And it's part of an unspoken agreement we have with each other - to sacrifice self-respect for a good laugh.

And that's why I love having houseplants around.

And Rachel.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Girl and Her Dishwasher: A Love Story

Recently my husband suggested that we hire a monthly cleaning person.

I hesitated.

It wasn’t an I-can’t-believe-how-much-I-love-this-man hesitation.

It was more like a But-at-what-other-time-can-I-drink-beer-at-noon-on-a-Monday-in-my-underwear-blaring-Electric-Light-Orchestra-and-Queen-wearing-tap-shoes-while-I push-a-vacuum-around-a-bit? type of hesitation.

I should've jumped at his offer. But actually, (surreptitiously looking over left shoulder then right) I don’t mind cleaning.

It relaxes me.

Mainly because as I'm doing the actual cleaning the last thing on my mind is the actual process of doing the cleaning. "Don't forget to print the lyrics to Yellow Submarine. Why don't I know the words to Yellow Submarine? Yellow. I look terrible in yellow. I really need to edit my wardrobe. Ooo, this is a good deep leg stretch. I'll have to incorporate this into my routine. Hmm, what is the Chinese word for 'routine' anyway?"

And that's how things can go very wrong.

Take for example my relationship with the dishwasher. I met Dishwasher when I moved to Washington, DC in 2002.

“Hello, Dishwasher. Nice to meet you. Oh look. You open.”

Our first time together was pretty typical. Dishwasher got loaded and then turned on. But not before I filled the receptacle-tub-indentation-place with liquid dish soap and then, thinking that wouldn't be enough, randomly squirted the dishes and inside the machine as well.

There. Easy. Dishwasher whirred contentedly.

Ten minutes later, though, on my way to the kitchen, I ran into a three-feet high, three-feet thick glacier of suds inching its way into the hallway. My kitchen looked like Studio 54. And Dishwasher, spewing and frothing from every available crevice, was the life of the party.

Instinctually, I jumped into action. Meaning I quite literally jumped into the suds, clapping and stomping. (I didn't say which instincts kicked in.)

My husband’s untimely return home to see my par-tay in full swing initiated a brutal line of questioning.

Him: “Um, what did you use in the dishwasher.”

Me: “Dish soap.”

Him: “We don’t have any dishwasher soap.”

Me: “Whaddoyamean?”

Him: “How much did you use?”

Me: “Why? I don’t know. I didn’t measure. There aren't any instructions anywhere. And just what are you trying to say anyway??"

I mean, you couldn't really call it a mess. Messes are dirty. These were suds. Suds are clean. But they do take a surprisingly long time to clean up. Well, at least, I think they do. After my husband kicked me out of the kitchen so he could clean up the suds, it's all a bit fuzzy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Love This Picture.

I rescued her from an old French book on Vaudeville

and tacked her to the wall in front of my desk.

I also gave her a plume of black feathers.

She tickles my fancies

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Twins: One Mom's Fantasy

For our 8th wedding anniversary, my husband surprised me with the ultimate fantasy.

He tells me to get ready for a big surprise. So, at 6:30 pm I'm sitting in our apartment, wine glass in hand, looking all primped, plucked and pretty in my pink Italian sateen rocker pants, baby doll cami and black patent leather T-straps wedges. (You’ll have to trust me. It was cute.)

Then in walks my surprise -- two very tall, very handsome twenty-something twin brothers.

“Hi. We’re here.”

My husband got me twins!

“Come to Momma …”

… I say to my son. The Twins are the sitters and I am going out with my husband for a lobster and oyster dinner! Pinch me! (Just a figure of speech. There are children present.)

My 4-year-old is also in heaven. The Twins are his Big Boy Friends. In fact, on his 3rd birthday he didn’t want to invite any children – just his Big Boy Friends. So for him, this isn’t babysitting. This is a play date.

He shows The Twins his treasure boxes and his monster truck collection. He tells them the rules of the house.

“This is my mom’s printer. Don’t press print. These are the plants. Here’s my tree. I pruned it myself.”

He plays with their Blackberries and takes pictures with their laptop. In return The Twins get to watch SpongeBob SquarePants and Cars.

When my husband and I return home, our son is lying in a nest The Twins have made for him on the floor with all his Lighting McQueen blankets. He's smiling, trying hard to stay awake, asking about his doggie bag from the restaurant.

Now I understand why so many men fantasize about twins. Oh, what could happen with twins ... “Oh yeah, you do the laundry. Press there. Ooo, that’s good. And you'll do dinner? Good. A little lower … lower. There. That’s it. That’s where the pots are.”

I am so there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Julia & Me

Long before the movie Julia & Julie came out, I fell in love with Julia Child.

No. I didn’t get the title wrong.

Julie & Julia makes no sense. Julia Child takes second billing to no one.

I blame my husband for my crush on Julia. In 2004 he gave me
Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child. Before I turned the last page, I started reading it again. Then again.

You see. The similarities between us are striking. I will bullet them for you.
  • Julia is really tall with curly, reddish-brown hair. I’m really tall with curly, reddish-brown hair.
  • Julia performed in community theater. I performed in community theater and dinner theater. (I can’t over italicize the kismet-quality of that one.)
But it doesn’t stop with physical attributes and a willingness to embarrass oneself.
  • Julia lived in New York City after graduating from college, worked a job she didn’t like and partied a lot. I lived in New York City after graduating from college, worked a job I didn’t like and partied a lot.
Okay. Many people did that. But what about …
  • Julia lived in China as a young woman looking for adventure. I lived in China as a young woman looking for adventure.
And …
  • Julia met and fell in love with a guy in China who turned out to be her future husband. I met and fell in love with a guy in China who turned out to be someone else’s husband.
Now it's getting weird.

Wanting to spend more time with Julia, I became a regular at her Smithsonian kitchen, watched her old cooking shows and sat transfixed when PBS paid tribute to her in their American Masters series. I taped it and pop it in my VCR every couple of months. So we can hang. I even bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking without the slightest intention of ever using it. (Our uncanny similarities end in the kitchen.)

Oh sure. Now she’s on the tips of everyone’s beef tongues. But trust me. If you gushed about Julia Child at a cocktail party a scant couple of years ago, people didn’t clamor to be an arc in your conversational orb.

A Bored Person: “Really? Julia Child? No, I can't say I've really thought of her.”

A Gushing Me: “Oh, well, let me tell you when it all started. Back in …”
  • Julia worked for the Office of Strategic Services during wartime in a China-related capacity. I worked for the Department of Defense during wartime in a China-related capacity.
Julia and I are thick as thieves.
  • Julia didn’t have a career plan and stumbled upon her lot comparably late in life. I don’t have a career plan and stumble upon things a lot especially late at night.
We late bloomers love stories like Julia's.

And I did love the movie. Well, half of it. The Julia half.

Truth be told, I didn't like the Julie Powell character, the woman who took on the daunting task of cooking her way through Julia's tome. I don’t care how much you’re fighting with a non-congealing aspic, you
do not call Julia Child a bitch.

But I would pay full ticket price again just to hear Meryl Streep’s Julia say “stiff cock.” “Bon Appetit!”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What I Know About Alice

This wasn't going to be my first post. I had something else in mind. Pickling. Because I've heard that pickling is supposed to be the new knitting.

But when I pushed my son’s stroller through a busy intersection in Washington, D.C.’s trendy Dupont Circle where Connecticut Avenue meets Florida Avenue, I saw half a dozen bicycles painted stark white and strapped to poles on sidewalks and traffic islands.

It stopped me. So odd-looking.

Some bicycles have bouquets of flowers tied to them or single blooms stuck in the spokes. Others have notes attached to them. There are dozens of missives on the sidewalk written in colorful chalk.

“Happy Birthday, Alice.”

“I miss your smile.”

“She was always supposed to be older than me.”

The chalk messages also told me that this is where Alice died in a bike accident on July 8, 2008. Her birthday was on September 15. She would’ve been 25 years old.

That's what I know about Alice.