Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MUNI--the freshmaker

Do you remember that Mentos commercial where the pretty lady has a little tiny car that is gets boxed in by bigger cars, so she has some burly construction workers pick up her car and move it?

It's better in real life.

On Saturday night, my friend and I were at Kezar on the corner of Carl and Cole, directly on the route of the N Judah. Trains come and go, of course, and one learns to ignore them, but instead of heading into the tunnel as usual, one outbound train stopped in the middle of the intersection for a long enough time to attract my attention even thought my back was to the window. When I turned to look, the train was stuck right where the track curves tunnelward; all the doors were open and passengers and driver seemed stymied. Suddenly, about a dozen guys stepped off the train and surrounded a four-door Toyota sedan just a few feet from the head of the train. They lifted it up, and moved it a foot closer to the curb (allowing the train to clear it) and deposited it back on the street. Then, looking rather pleased with themselves, they reboarded the train to applause from their fellow passengers, passersby on the street, and even those of us in the bar. It was strangely elating.

A lesson in parallel parking and a small neighborhood celebration--all at once. Who needs candy?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things I'm not good at: Part 8,600,010

Hula hooping. Or rather, since Hula Hoop is a trademarked device, hooping. A thing that seems as though it would be A) not all that difficult and B) downright whimsical. Bah ha ha ha.

You know how they say you never forget how to ride a bike? I am willing to believe that's true, although I've never put it to the test. Personally, I haven't been on a bike since I was 9 years old and I have no intention of getting on a bike ever again. But, that's me. For, you know, normal people, perhaps the adage holds true. Therefore, you might imagine it would be true for other skills one possessed as a child. Based on my small not-all-that-scientific study, this is not the case. Seriously. I was fantastic at hula hooping when I was 8. I had a red hoop and I spent many a pleasant hour with it on the back deck. Round and round it went and all was right with the world.

Fast forward 31 years. Hooping fitness class (a thing that actually exists, in case you didn't know). Of ten women, I am the only one who cannot keep the hoop up. In fact, I suck to a degree that makes me incredulous even though each time the hoop clatters to the floor I am presented with irrefutable evidence. Also, ow. Really. Ow, ow.

The following day, I had this bruise on my blinding white flesh. The photo doesn't even really do it justice. It was a truly awe-inspiring bruise. I also had (and continue to have) bruises over my ribs on both sides of my body, as well as a massive one on my left elbow and another on the knee. If you don't mind my saying so: whimsical, my ass.

I won't be returning. Fitness has once again slipped from my grasp.

The good news is that I think I'm still pretty good at jumping rope.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our native language

In Ritual Grounds on Sunday afternoon.

Me: For the record, I really hate this music.

Mathew: Earlier they were playing something less insistent. It is a rather mercurial sonic situation.

He's my little ray of linguistic sunshine in a drab vernacular world.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A novel syndrome

If I am reading a novel by a male author and that novel is in some way delightful (which, for me, typically means the writer evidences both sprightly wit and a wealth of knowledge about one thing or many things of which I am ignorant), I will be moved to interrupt my reading to look at the back flap. If this author is somewhere along the spectrum of passably to extraordinarily handsome, I will instantly fall in love with him. If then the "About the Author" blurb contains mention of this author's wife, the following will occur:

1. I will feel immediately deflated, as though, since this stranger is already romantically entangled, happiness will never be mine. [It makes no difference if the author is 15 years younger than me and lives in, say, Maine. The fact that I am too old for him and there is essentially zero likelihood that we will ever meet in no way alters my certainty that we would be perfect for each other.]

2. I feel a swift blaze of jealousy directed at this wife. This is increased if the author is indeed 15 years younger than me because his wife is likely to also be a youngster. And really why should this wife have been a child bride when I continue to languish in spinsterhood? This wife calls herself a woman? What knows she of life?

3. I wallow in general malaise because no handsome brilliant novelist has ever married me. Even though one should. Obviously.

I do not experience this in relation to movie stars.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Sweet revenge

About half a block from work, on a corner that I pass twice daily, there once was a tree. What was wrong with this tree I cannot tell you, but according to the opinion of someone, quite possibly an arborist, it needed to be removed. Or at least mostly removed. A year or so ago, all its branches were removed and its top was cut off. What remained was somewhat taller than the average stump, but nothing at all like the average tree. Stealthily, while I wasn't really paying attention, the leftover trunk began to sprout leaves--just a few at first and then, over time, a great many leaves. Now, what was once a tree looks like an extremely healthy bush, fairly bristling with leaves. It is approximately 5 feet tall and seems to have modeled itself after a haystack or Cousin It.

It looks pleased with itself.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Better late than never

You remember how I claimed that I went to London this summer? I did. Honest. It's just that I'm a terrible blogger. But then, if you're reading this, you already know that.

I spent about five days with my friends who had rented a flat for the summer. Basically, they told me they were spending the summer in London, and I immediately invited myself. They were too polite to turn me town. The flat was in Belsize Park near Primrose Hill. The nearest underground stations were Chalk Farm and Swiss Cottage. From which we can conclude that the majority of locations in London sound like they have come directly from a children's book.

The neighborhood was very lovely--full of beautiful brick houses that were once large single residences, but have almost all been converted to flats. The romantic in me finds that to be rather a pity, but, on the other hand, if anyone would like to buy me a flat there, please feel free.


1. Upon greeting me, my friend Talya forewarned me that her three-year-old daughter had developed a "Dick Van Dyke accent." by which she meant a "Bert the chimney sweep from Disney's version of Mary Poppins" accent. Indeed, this very small blonde child, usually dressed in pink, had acquired a broad cockney-by-way-of-American-high-school-drama-club accent. It really wasn't her fault. Her mother is English; her father is Irish; they normally live in Massachusetts; she'd spent months surrounded by her English and Irish relatives and had been consuming a steady diet of BBC children's programming. Nevertheless, a slightly unspecific cockney accent coming from a very small girl? Hilarious. Unfailingly hilarious.

2. I would not have known this if I hadn't been staying in a house with two young children, but there is a very cool playground in Kensington Gardens built as a memorial to Princess Diana. It is built on a Peter Pan theme and you are jealous that it's not in your own town, you just don't know it. Fairy chimes, teepees, huge pirate ship, lost boys house. Super cool.

3. Another thing I wouldn't have ever found out were it not for the children: the BBC children's channel actually seems to be on the side of parents. In the evening, there is a peculiar bedtime program called "Iggle Piggle" (seriously, to me it looks like it cannot have been created without the aid of hallucinogens, but children seem to enjoy it), followed by another program where an actor reads a bedtime story. After the story, all sorts of BBC characters from various shows say goodnight and then...the channel actually goes off the air until morning and the children go to bed. It's brilliant. Goodnight BBC, goodnight children.

4. I met some plumbers in a pub who seemed extremely offended that I did not plan to go to Manchester.

5. Talya and I saw War Horse at the National. It is a completely amazing play that does not sound amazing. Ready? A young man raises a horse from the time it is a colt. WWI rolls around. The boy's father sells the horse to the army. The boy enlists to find his horse. There are many misadventures, largely because WWI was not delightful. The boy and the horse are finally reunited. Ta da!

See? Not amazing.

But the horses in this play were puppets. Huge puppets operated by between two and four puppeteers. And I can't even imagine the amount of rehearsal it must have taken to make those horses so entirely, well, horsey. It was simply breathtaking. And we all cried. So there.

There is a little video of it here, should you be curious.

6. They sell little containers of ice cream in the theatre at intermission. It, like everything, is overpriced and yet I did not care at all because I was sitting in a theatre and eating ice cream at the same time. If you are me, it really doesn't get better than that.

7. Our friends came down from Scotland. Later email correspondence suggests that at least one of them was "chuffed to bits" to see me. Very likely the best compliment I've ever received.

8. If you are an American sitting at a table with an Irishman, and English woman, and two Scots and the music suddenly gets very loud, it is quite possible that you will no longer be able to understand a single word that anyone is saying.

9. At Camden Market, I wanted to buy a great many impractical old things. To wit:

9. And, as for the Portobello Road, I wanted to live there AND buy old things.

And, were I not terrified to drive in England, maybe own this car. It's nice to know the people of Chelsea are pro-Obama.


Yesterday I read an interview with someone (I don't even know who she was, actually. It was one of those one-link-leads-to-another internet wandering type things. She's someone with a nice house? Who designs things, maybe?) in which she was asked "what is your most treasured possession?" To this she replied, "my family."

I hate that.

Your family is not a possession. We want to know if you have a collection of your grandmother's love letters or a necklace you bought in Tunisia or a perfect blue lamp. Something. A thing.

This happens all the time. Interviewees, writers of online personals profiles, you know who you are.

Look. People. We assume you love your child/spouse/mother/best friend more than your vintage comic books. Consider it a given.
And now... answer the actual question.