Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hold the Mayo ...

This whole thing was destined for failure because I wanted a Grilled Tuna Sub. On a Friday. During Lent. What a nightmare. That whole Catholic thing is obviously close enough to my top layer that I still get a jolt of guilty thrill at the taste of Pepperoni on designated meat-free day. So I felt like I had to say to the Sandwich Artist: I'm getting this particular sub because it just happens to be the sandwich I want and not because I'm on the Papal Food Plan, okay? Plus it's on sale. And don't scrimp on the Jalapeños.

I'd just selected a Tall Top Table with a view of the Skywalk, opened my sandwich, opened my book and my eyes drifted toward three teens carrying movie theater popcorn and oversized boxes of candy. The boy had a pinky-width ooze of blood trailing from his left eyeball down his cheek. I looked away, then quickly looked back again. It was still there.

"Oh, for the love ..." I thought, staring glumly at the un-touched sandwich. Tuna is already such a delicate matter. All it takes is a single extra large chunk or a piece that tastes like the insoles of a wet tennis shoe. To see actual blood gushing from an actual face ... I didn't know if I could do it. You know, the Mayonnaise on a Grilled Tuna Sub is warm, right?

"Where the fuck is Keely!" one of the girls had broken from the group and busted into the sandwich shop to accost another teenager, a paying customer splitting a sandwich with a friend.
"Huh?" he said.

I don't know him, but I'd been pretty interested in the concept he had presented to the Sandwich Artist when he was in front of me in line: Pizza Sub on Flatbread, toasted, with lots of Jalapeños -- just on half. Sometimes another diner's concept seems out-there and risky, but it demands respect. But this just seemed like the willy-nilly concoction of a hot head who has never bothered to learn what things taste like. (Don't get me started on the guy who put pickles on his salad. I almost walked right out of the shop that day).

"I said 'Where the fuck is Keely!'" the girl repeated.
Blood face and another girl stood waiting outside the door, the former turned so I couldn't see his gash.
"I don't know," he said. Shrugged. "Probably at school."

The girl turned and clomped out of the restaurant.

After that distraction I had no problem finishing my sandwich. It was good right down to the last bite -- which I bit in half to give myself another last bite. I finished the paragraph I was reading, took a sip of water and began cleaning off the table.

As I turned clockwise I noticed a woman less than seven feet away, facing me full-on, mayonnaise smeared around her mouth like clown make up as she sat there chewing. I did a double take and felt my stomach rumble like sudden thunder.

"Oh, shit," I thought. "This isn't going to sit."
I had to look at her one more time and then I convulsed, hiding my heave the best I could, shoulders rolled, head down. My sandwich was using my liver for a trampoline and needed just one more bounce to eject itself through my esophagus.

Running shoes hitting the pavement in even strides. Lawn mowers crisscrossing a yard. Been spending most my life living in a Gangsta's Paradise. I was able to erase the image with some tried and true visual and lyrical aids.

So today's life lesson: Mayonnaise is grosser than blood.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I like to boogie ...

Once in a great while something falls out of sync and I'm forced to wake up during common people hours instead of marinating in my sleep stew until 10 a.m., my preferred waking hour on weekdays. This is typically awful and causes great angst in the middle of the night when I'm forced to decide between:

a) Going to bed early to make sure I get the 8 hours of sleep I require to maintain this sunny disposition, which always feels like quitting;
b) Staying up late anyway, reveling in the creeps-and-thugs hours and gambling that what-say tomorrow I learn I really only need five hours of sleep, after all these years of thinking otherwise.

I've always been like this. Family lore includes a bunch of pissed off aunts and uncles who thought they had a grip on babysitting, only to find me -- three hours after my bedtime -- sitting up in the hallway outside of my bedroom, spying on Johnny Carson. I like that this is part of my history. It's the Yeah, well, I can't help it card I carry in my wallet that usually gets me out of things that happen before "The Price is Right." Usually. It's the way I was born. It's a thing. My friend the Rock Star Amy Abts calls it "Delayed Circadian Rhythm" and says that a sleep study will show it. That sounds real, credible. Even interesting. I'll take it. I don't even need the test.

Something happens to me around 2:30 a.m.-3 a.m. where I am just wham-bammed by a surge of energy and all I want to do is scrub a toilet or write a novel or finish the last 200 pages of this book or maybe I'll start running. The one concession I've made to controlling my night-ness is that I don't let myself see those hours during the week. I can't afford to be clavicle deep in Scrubbin' Bubbles when the sun comes up. So 2 a.m. gets to be the latest of late.

There are people who think that if you sleep late it means you are lazy. If you wake up at 11 a.m. or hell 2 p.m. on a Saturday, you've wasted the day and obviously you think Mountain Dew is a vegetable and only read the back of video games. No one says this sort of thing about someone who goes to bed at 8 p.m., though. Those people are obviously so tuckered out from a day not swearing and buying sub sandwiches for homeless people that they've earned a pass on keeping up in conversations about Prime Time TV.

So I had to get up early this week. Pulled on my slippers repeating my morning bedside mantra: This will only hurt until your second sip of coffee. Then the healing begins. Coffee made by 8:30 a.m., quiet time with the internet -- it was so early Chuck wasn't even home from work yet -- and hair in asymmetrical knots by 9:15 a.m. Out the door by 9:35 a.m. The sun was different and the style of traffic unfamiliar. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I even had time to go the Y and make dinner and read a lot before bed. It was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to ... you know.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stay tuned ...

We have now come to the part of the year where every day I wonder if I'm finally going to again run the half-marathon in June. If so, a training person would have started training on Saturday. I did not. In fact, at some point on Saturday it became impossible to distinguish where my own skin ended and the couch began. Of course this is all the more reason to start training for a half-marathon. Stay tuned.

Bow Tie Pasta with Red Bell Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Garlicky Cashew Cream Sauce: This was a big adventure, my first shot at using nuts to make a "cheesy" sauce. I totally loved this. The sauce is powdered cashews mixed with hot sauce and water and lots of garlic, which is added to a pan with the pasta and peppers and tomatoes, then topped with basil and fresh tomatoes.

I'll totally make this again.

Persona: Hard to say exactly what the hell unfolds in this one, a mid-1960s movie by Ingmar Bergman in which an actress shows up in a ward after having some sort of episode while on stage that rendered her speechless and giggle-filled. She goes away to a beach house with a private nurse, who uses her silence to reveal all sorts of deep darks. This movie is filled with all sorts of uncomfortable chatter and it kind of lulls you into a weird trance. You will see it as the roots of "Mullholland Drive."

All About Eve: Holy Crap. I have a new favorite movie. Every once in awhile it feels like the universe really wants you to watch something. It throws the title in front of your eyeballs again and again and then brings it up in conversation repeatedly until finally you just have to suck it up and watch your new favorite movie.

Betty Davis as an aging theater star. She takes in a young super fan who begins studying her and slowly taking over different elements of her life and eventually connives her way onto the stage as an understudy. Zowie! This movie is terrif. The writing is incredible and funny and the acting is whoa.

A Chorus Line: All dance movies remind me of my mom. According to my scattered memories, it would seem that all we did is sit on her bed and watch dance movies, including this one. Also: At some point when I was in dance classes some other class performed choreography to the song "One." So this movie about a bunch of people trying out for a chorus line is like a super weird and trippy flashback. Also: This has the "Trapeze Swinger" effect of making me cry without reason.

Breathless: Well, isn't this a whacky romp through 1960s France. Our hero-ish person is on the lam after offing a cop and he's checked in with a young American (Jean Seberg) while he tries to collect on money owed and scoot on out of town. She's got her own stuff going on and isn't sure she wants to take up with him and he gives her the hard and not so sexy sell. THIS IS SUCH A WEIRD MOVIE! But I liked it, although I hated the male lead. He skeeved me out.

A Streetcar Named Desire: You know, I love this movie. And Marlon Brandon, blah blah blah. But man is it annoying. It took three sittings to get through it and gah, Blanche Dubois. Shut it already.

Chuck: What's for dinner?
Me: Chick. N.
Chuck: That stuff with the salsa?
Me: Uh huh. Is that cool.
Chuck: Yep.
Me: Is that a hint?
Chuck: I wouldn't hint, I'd just point.

Pauline Kael
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Vita Coco

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy: This is the sort of "it" book of the past two weeks, an S&M fit of, I don't know, chick lit I guess that has a bunch of ladies in a furious tizzy. It's crap, but I doubt I've ever enjoyed writing a review more.

Check it out here.

Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Sonby Anne Lamott: This is Anne Lamott being Anne Lamott, but this time in the face of becoming a grandmother when her son Sam, subject of "Operating Instructions," has a son. The book, which is kept journal style, doesn't have many surprises. It won't knock the socks off new readers of Lamott and it won't jangle any of the old ones either. Same old same old. Which can be good, stable and consistent or a trip to dullsville. You decide.

Full review will be here.

"One thing I learned from Pauline (Kael) was that when something hits you that high and hard, you have to be able to travel wherever the point of impact takes you and be willing to go to the wall with your enthusiams and over it if need be, even if you look foolish or "carried away," because your first shot at writing about it may be the only chance to make people care." It's better to be thumpingly wrong than a muffled drum with a measured beat."

-- James Wolcott, "Lucking Out"

Pre-Owned: "Some Assembly Required" by Anne Lamott
New: "Wild Thing" by Josh Bazell
Graphic: "My Friend Dahmer" by Derf Backderf
Library: "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick Dewitt

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Picture this ...

I was in line behind two college-aged girls, who I fan-fictionalized into roommates. One was silly and loose-limbed and at first I'd assumed she was the taller, more staid woman's adopted daughter. Then this mom character turned and I saw she was young. She was clutching a package of photos, which I didn't even know existed anymore or that anyone younger than 25 would consider using this archaic means of memory keeping.

A Starbucks' employee wove through the shoppers with a tray and passed out Dixie cup-sized samples of a cold, blended beverage and both girls took one which left one for me. It was strawberry flavored with whipped cream and I downed it in a single slurp through a straw the size of my pinkie.

"This is so key-ute!" the shorter girl said, beaming at her drink. "Lets take a picture of us with them!"
The other girl shuffled her wallet and the pack of photos, held her phone in front of them and they both smiled into the phone holding their mini drinks.

"So key-ute!" the shorter one said again.
The other one studied the photo, deemed it unacceptable, and they posed for another that didn't pan out either.
"We're going to have to wait until we get outside," she said.
"This is so key-ute!" the girl said again. And again.

They grabbed their purchases and left the store, neither even taking a single half-slug of the drinks they were holding as delicately as urine samples. When I walked past the Food Court on my way out of the store, a mom was taking a photograph of her little girl sitting on a table, near a garbage can, eating and I panned ahead to the online Scrapbook slideshow that will play at the little girl's graduation, this photo tagged "Maddie Eats Lunch at Target! 3/24/12." Or the one that will play at the other girls' college graduation party "Ashley and Lindsay Drinking Key-Ute Starbucks' Samples at Target! 3/24/12."

(Whatever. I totally took a photo of my dinner tonight. Shut it).

I cleaned the refrigerator, which is always pretty heroic. We've started labeling leftovers with Food Type and Date Made, an attempt avoid this sort of disaster. Really all it did is make me wonder how far up my own ass my head has to be that I didn't notice some of these containers with January dates on them.

Thoughts actually thunk in front of the open refrigerator:

* Is that a Rice Krispie Bar? When did I make Rice Krispie Bars? Oh ... Wait. That's Cornbread. WHEN DID I MAKE CORNBREAD!
* Tomatoes + Onions x 3 months = Something that resembles milk
* We have beer?
* A four-pack of new plastic containers is about $3-$5. I'd pay ten times that to not open this container.
* Is this smell getting in my hair? Under my fingernails? On my robe?
* The next time this refrigerator devolves into this, we're just going to move.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Moving pictures ...

Our cable provider made a programming change that has eliminated the CW from our lineup. I knew the switch was coming so I had time to prepare. Though, can you ever really know how you'll respond to tragedy? I closed my eyes tightly and tried to imagine what it would be like to have all of my friends go flying off a cliff, passengers in the same fatal bus crash.

Blair Waldorf's screeches busting out the windows before impact with the rocky ledge.
Tyra Banks giving the world its final Smeyes.
The stoner-calm 90210 surfer girl Ivy transitioning to acceptance before caroming from Mother Earth and to Sister Sea.

The CW has long been my favorite network, including in its previous incarnation as the WB. This is the prettiest channel on all of television, a land where effortless hair bounces off shoulders and shoes make that special and enviable clack against pavement. The dialogue is snappy, the songs plucky and the fashions edgy -- though always filtered through the lens of program-creators who seemingly Pla-Doh Fun Factory'ed their own teen years into something less clumsy. A place where zits heal over night and there is always a new kid about to move to town.

I hoard my TiVo saves for this one night of the week -- Friday -- when I can main line episodes until the sun comes up, faces bleed together on the screen and everything starts to sound like a Death Cab cover band. The plots stopped mattering to me seasons ago. I can no longer remember which floppy-haired dope Blair Waldorf is madly in love with this episode, but still I watched. Everything from this weekly marathon came from the CW except "Grey's Anatomy," which remains the barnacle of my routine because one time a season or two ago they had the most stunning finale I'd ever experienced and I keep wondering if they'll ever match it.

So Week One without "Gossip Girl," "90210," "Ringer" and "America's Next Top Model" passed and I lived. I went out in public, saw a band, read a book. I came home on Wednesday with that sink-into-the-couch-ness that ordinarily calls for a break in protocol, dipping into the Friday fodder for some mindless chilling. But there was nothing saved except 100-plus TiVo suggestions, so I sighed, flipped to Bravo and settled in.

Friends, I watched that channel for two and a half hours. I watched one episode of some nonsense one and a half times, even. Reality TV, real estate, wheelers and dealers, whatever. I giggled and cackled and developed loyalties and Googled my questions and it was all great fun.

Sometimes loss brings a special perspective. Reminds us who are are at our core. In losing the CW I remembered that all I really need are moving pictures on a screen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fleeced ...

In a life filled with text messages, this was my favorite exchange yesterday with Chuck. He pulled that trick where you wash someone's filthy security blanket at the first opportunity:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Left All We Owned (in a hole in our backyard) ...

Something about this weather makes me want to eat ice cream every day. Also, it makes me think that stocking up on a laundry room full of canned chickpeas is no joke.

Anyway, here is what I made, read, watched and whatever else tripped my home row fingers this past week. Be good.


Hurry Curry: This is one of those recipes where the recipe writer is like "Yeah, just chucked a bunch of stuff together and whamo, dinner." You would think after four years of cooking and all my anti-plan, anti-authority-ness I'd be better at that willy nilly-ness, but I still have to be all "How many Teaspoons of Curry" and "Wait. How do you make rice?"

Anyway, this was good and simple.

Our neighbors decorate for only one holiday: Easter. This is achieved with a huge Hallmark bunny pasted to the front window. This is some freaky shit, the way this room is lit and this bunny shadow leering out the window. It's all very Donnie Darko.

Me: I don't feel like making dinner.
Chuck: Well, you don't have to.
Me: Then what happens?
Chuck: You wait and make it later.
Me: Let's try this again. I don't feel like making dinner.
Chuck: Well, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do.
Me: Let's try this again. I don't feel like making dinner.
Chuck: Well, why don't you just make dinner, but pretend you're doing something else?
Me: Like a game?
Chuck: A game!
Me: ...
Chuck: Okay, fine. I'll make dinner.
Me: No, you don't have to.

Fannie made a few mixes for our road trip to Roch a few weeks ago and I'm still spinning Disc 1, which I believe was titled "Chrissie and Fannie's Big Adventure." Regardless, this is where my obsessiveness really shines. Playing and replaying.

First I get wrecked on Track 2: The Lady Is An Arsonist by Communist Daughter. I can listen to this song upward of 15 times in a row. I should note that I saw them live at Tycoons on Friday night and they played my favorite song last, which I guess makes it the definite cassingle.

Three Reasons I Adore This Song:
1. It begs for that kind of rhythmic shoulder bopping my people are known for. If I busted this move out at a live show, someone half my age would stand behind me and ape it. Luckily no one can see me in my car.

2. I love love love the way the two vocalists blend together in this unconventional way. It's like finding out that you can put pineapple on pizza. This happens even bigger and better on "Soundtrack to an End," but this is about "The Lady is an Arsonist." So.

3. There are some great lines in this song, but I always like it best when they sing "I write a letter ... You burn before you read." But it's the "Southern boy with a can of gasoline" that gets stuck in my head every day when I listen to this song 15 times.

Then I bop over to Track 15: Running With The Wolves by Cloud Cult, probably the most frequently-mentioned band to land in the pages of this web blog. This song wasn't necessarily off my radar, but it wasn't one of my favorites until I started working my re-play magic on it.

Three Reasons I Adore This Song:
1. The story. It's about ditching our clothes, disconnecting the phone, burning the mail and pitching worldly goods into a hole in the backyard. Then taking off and running with the wolves. I like a song with a good story. This song has a good story. Note: Even the most casual of Cloud Cult fans would know this song is a sham. They would never bury their stuff in the backyard and take off. (The environment!) They would be more likely to donate all of their stuff to a small but reputable nonprofit organization that could divvy the items up among people who need it. Admittedly the song loses punch when sung that way.

2. Craig Minowa sounds like someone is squeezing his guts, like everything in his body is threatening to spill out of the top of his head, especially when he sings "Left our cubicles in little flaming piles" and "I need to feel something different for just a little while."

3. Like all songs by Cloud Cult, it has this triumphant-ness to it that feels like the apex of a movie. Especially when he says "And we're never coming back!"

We Need to Talk About Kevin: This is a really collage-y look at the story written by Lionel Shriver about a woman in the aftermath and pre-math (is that a word?) of her misfit son's deadly rampage against his classmates. There is little talk and lots of symbolism and the movie leans closer to a horror story than I remember the book. Also: There are some really disgusting scenes involving food and mouths and while I tend to delight in the yuck, I'm pretty glad I didn't have to eat anything red immediately following the movie.


Super into Tuna Melts this week. Big time. On Italian Herb and Cheese. With Cheddar. Toasted. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions and jalapeños. Innards scooped up with Baked Cheddar Lays.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt: This Western about the Sister brothers, who are guns for hire during the gold rush, is a total riot. The duo travels from Oregon City to San Francisco and back again and meets a whacky cast of characters and discovers the pleasure of tooth powder.

Full review will be here.

As I've mentioned, my New Year's Reading Resolution is to every month read: something I already own, something from 2012, something from the library and a graphic novel. This entered a grey area this week when I considered what constitutes something I already own. Take, for instance, a review copy of a book I receive in the mail. It's not something that I at one point bought and planned to read and then missed my interest window. But it's also not something I paid for. So does it count as something I own?

A: Yes. Chuck figured out the tipping point. A review copy might be new to this house, but in a year, a month, whatever, it would be something I owned that was shelved (or piled) in this house, and that would make it a viable candidate for the Something Owned category. Phew. That was a toughie.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hoops ...

1. I wake up to text messages from people who have already procured and spread glitter in Ireland's national color. Hinz has sent me photographs of her father in law, who looks more like a leprechaun than anything ever seen on the front of a cereal box. It's the suspenders. No, it's the plastic hat. Fannie, meanwhile, is mugging mid-jig with Dong, a freckle-face we've known since we were six. I'm more of a pre-St. Patrick's Day party girl. At last count, I've consumed four Shamrock Shakes this season.

2. Chuck is sitting on the couch with a little smirk, like there isn't a face in the world big enough to hide his pleasure at this joke. What's going on? I ask and he tells me he has just Tweeted this:

3. Slap down four slices of fake bacon into a frying pan and let them begin their slow sizzle into greatness. Add two beaten eggs to the fray. Toast your English muffin. Pour some orange juice. Enjoy brunch with the second half of the episode of "Khloe and Lamar" that you turned off last night when it became Khloe's PSA about relations between the Armenians and the Turks and how it all related to the NBA lockout.

In other news, and I say this in all sincerity, is there a better couple in all of TV land than Khloe and Lamar?

4. Fate finds me in the gymnasium at the YMCA before I set foot in the cardio center. There is an unattended basketball just sitting there all orange and striped and rubber-smelling and I wonder how long it has been since I've shot a basket. So I pick it up, give it a few dribbles, miss a couple of easy peasy bank shots and a half dozen layups before heaving the ball nowhere near the hoop from the free throw line. I dribble the length of the half-court court, go in for another layup, miss. It takes about 10 minutes for me to score in a scenario where there is nothing between me and the basket.

But my form feels great. It's weird how something that was once a regular part of your life can come back instinctively. The way that last dribble bounces up higher to set you up better for a shot over your opponent; the way you fall into a defensive stance, ready to block someone out for the rebound; how to time your jump to pluck the ball out of the air when it bounces off the backboard. It's all still in there, just like song lyrics, a locker combination, the choreography performed while standing on the runway just before a triple jump.

I'm guessing if anyone saw me, they would see a woman wildly tossing bricks at the hoop. But in my head I looked like Lindsay Whalen and I wondered "Why did I ever quit playing basketball? Obviously I was quite good. Is it too late?"

5. I'm not convinced that I can become enough of a fan of "The Vampire Diaries" to actually use the 42-minute episodes as a lure to jump onto an elliptical machine. This show is practically embarrassing. Although at least twice I've been in danger of yelping with surprise when a civilian is mangled by a vampire.

6. Reading, reading, reading. Bath. Reading.

7. Who do you have to know to find an gyro in this city? DiGiorgos stuffed-crust pizza it is. A rough substitute.

8. We go to see "We Need to Talk about Kevin" and there is just one other person in the theater. When we leave, the city is a war zone of revelers. I've not seen anything like it. Part of me wants to do laps up and down Superior St. to take it all in. The other part of me wants to get to the safety of our home quickly before something drunk crashes into us.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dispatches from Feline Nation: Week 26 ...

Dear Orin and Hal,

Came home to a mystery substance on the kitchen floor today. In the dark it looked like one of those lake reeds one might mistake for the blood-hungriest of leeches. But when I turned on the lights I quickly saw that it was either a) a gooey clump of mud with a wet streak or b) cat diarrhea.

I'm pretty good at applying the laws of Occam's Razor, which is why I'm not more terrified that this house is haunted and how I know that weird hip pain isn't going to require leg amputation, I just need to carry the grocery basket differently. In this case I considered: Unseasonably warm March weather, a muddy yard and no strict shoe removal policy versus, well, you, Orin. I firmly believe that if one of our cats was going to take a sloppy dump on our kitchen floor it would be Orin and that he would do so with a sly smile and a sarcastic shrug in the face of confrontation. He's just so like that.

So it was pretty much a tie. I didn't pull out my spy kit and investigate further. Why bother. Instead I just wrapped about 400 paper towels around my hand, wet the mystery meat with orange-scented 409 and scrubbed with my eyes closed. I monitored the spot to see if either of you seemed especially interested in the freshly cleaned crime scene. But, of course, you're both masters of the Poker face and revealed nothing.

You're both going through phases right now, like kids digging costumes out of a toy bin. Trying them on, shrugging them off, slipping into the next one. You're both totally over Laser Tag, and I miss tricking you with the flick of a $2 office supply. Now, in order to reclaim the bedroom, I have to toss you out like a bouncer. Hal, you sometimes disappear for hours. You've come to enjoy crawling into our storage area, turning on the overhead light and sacking out on top of the pile of microwaves. Orin, every time I leave a room I find you outside the door lying on your back, your legs splayed like you've come out of an epic breakdancing move and I just missed it.

But the biggest thing that has gone on as of late is this destructive phase, Hal. Three broken light bulbs, a permanently cockeyed lampshade and I can't leave a room without returning to find the floor wet and my water glass rolling under the table. Hal, we had to ask Google how to earthquake-proof our flat screen TV because of you. There we would be, a belly laugh deep into the new MTV comedy "I Just Want My Pants Back" and your weird little face would pop up behind the TV. It would only be a matter of time before you attempted a Phillipe Petit and sent it crashing to the floor. Now, $8 later, the TV is strapped to the TV stand which makes it a little easier to consider going to bed at night, but not much.

Let's end this on a positive note, though, shall we guys? Nice job with herding the flies that got into the house. You've both proven that you would prefer to break your own neck than let an insect light on any surface of your home. Seemingly related, you are both mad for Herbie Hancock.

Hiding the valuables,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm in charge because I'm the oldest ...

On Sunday afternoon the girls -- and one poor boy -- across the street were playing some game in which the six year old in a hoodie held a finger to her ear and performed pop songs, maybe self written, about how "I neee-eeed you." She clutched at her heart and spun like she was on a stage.

"I have an idea," she said to one of the triplets. "Let's pretend like all of our parents died and I'm in charge because I'm the oldest."

Anyway, here is what I ate, watched, read, overheard, blah-blah-blah'ed this past week.

My partner in gastrointestinal crimes was out of town so I had to pave my own way for Part II of Restaurant Week. I did okay, finding a sunny table at Valentini's that had a bit of a lake view. JCrew was replaced by my Kindle, though not easily. (The Kindle can't critique a pasta).
This is the Sicilian Cheese Tortellini, which had peppers, pepperoni, sausage, onions, etc. It was decent and messy. Every time I forked up a piece of meat I cheered like I'd won some sort of diving for dollars competition.
This was called a White Chocolate Raspberry Tort, but I think it was mislabeled.  I missed the chocolate part of it. No complaints, though. It was a multi-level cake and very light and fun to eat. 

Is it possible for one member of the household to make coffee that is hotter than the coffee made by the other member of the household? Because I always burn my face on Chuck's coffee, but can drink my own immediately.

Chuck's answer: That I don't notice the coffee I make is hot because I drink it in the morning while my face is still numb.

My Week with Marilyn: A young lad working as third assistant on the Lawrence Olivier project "The Prince and the Showgirl" spends a week minding the incredibly high maintenance Marilyn Monroe who shows up late, sometimes knows her lines and needs constant affirmations from the people around her. This is the true story of how she swooped in, got him all gooey in Arthur Miller's absence, then moved on with the rest of her life.

Michelle Williams as Marilyn. My God. She's absolutely stunning. The weirdest part is that in the early 2000s, I'd never have picked her as the "Dawson's Creek" cast member most likely to succeed. While watching this I was having fan fiction about her getting this part, studying for this role, filming. Friends, I got a little teary for her. She feels like an old pal who I've just seen do something gigantic and awesome.

On The Waterfront: I have a new sort of reading project that means a new sort of watching project and so here I am watching this black and white movie about longshoreman and a union overrun by schemers and Marlon Brando as a former boxer with super weird eyebrows who is trying to figure out if he's cool with the status quo, running with the bad seeds, or if he is going to risk his life to narc the jerks out.

Very exciting. But also interesting to see Brando's take on this kind of quirky character. I think I'm ready to re-watch "Streetcar."

East of Eden : Here is a snippet of John Steinbeck's novel, mostly just the part where Caleb finds his birth mom is a Madam and he tries to get on his dad's good side. Here we have James Dean as a total whack job, completely unrecognizable as a functioning human being. Another strange play on quirky, though they must not have agreed in this technocolor era because this was his breakout film.

Graffiti spotted in the women's bathroom at Thirsty Pagan.

Whenever I order water at a restaurant and the server asks if I want a lemon with it, I'm always a little insulted. Like, do I really look like that kind of an asshole?

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf: A former high school classmate of Jeffrey Dahmer created a graphic novel about what the late-serial killer's life was like as a teen misfit: Pretty into road kill, for one thing. This story takes the FBI files, newspaper accounts and personal interactions with Dahmer into consideration. It's pretty creepy and super good.

Full review here.

By Blood: A Novel by Ellen Ullman: Taking a page from the school of Woody Allen: The unnamed narrator, who is on a hiatus from his university job because of some sort of scandal, has rented office space and shares a wall with a psychiatrist. Once a week he is privy to the story of a woman who is searching for her birth mother -- and then finding out a bunch of mind blowing stuff about her origins.

Super good. Full review will be here.

Green Girlby Kate Zambreno: I totally, totally liked this novel in which an unnamed narrator watches a 20-something girl, an ex-Pat living in London during those soft fontanelle years.

I haven't yet written a review. But I will. And then it will go here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And rotate it ...

When Chuck comes to bed in the morning he is radiating spring fever. There is Vitamin D leaking from his pores and energy. He tells me of a world where outside of our home where the air smells fresh and grow-y. He's gone apeshit on tiny oranges, trying to make his insides feel like outside. I wonder if he is a simulacrum. This is someone who sometimes sits at the kitchen table wearing sunglasses.

This is pressure. The only thing worse than Saturday is a Saturday when it is nice outside. When my Facebook friends run on the Lakewalk or go for scenic drives or otherwise "Take advantage of this weather." My inclination is to skulk around the house, avoiding the geometric sun patterns that sneak through our piano windows like that couch-cushion game of "Sharks in the Water." Or, sigh, to just go do something.


First stop: The Public Library, where I pick up all my holds and more. Two movies, a book and some whim picks. For free.

Then: Chester Creek Cafe to finish my book while eating fluffy Scrambled Eggs on an English Muffin. It's called Mary Anne's Egg Thing and it's one of my favorite breakfasts in town. This goes down without incident.

My favorite public bathroom in all of Duluth is the one at Target, which smells like Baby Aspirin. I could hang out in there all day just inhaling deeply. Here we have a sticky situation: A line of bulging bladders, four stalls full, the accessible stall wide open. The line growing. The woman at the front won't just use the suite. And I can't dodge past her and use it myself (what an asshole!) and the person behind me especially can't (double assholes!). So there it sits, open, while we wait and wait.

What's the rule on this? Of course it's rude to use this stall if all the rest, or even one other, is empty. But what about the situation of a full bathroom? I know I wouldn't park in a parking spot with the blue marker and the outline of a wheel chair. But can I park my keister in that stall? What if the sixth person in line came in pushing a walker? Would we all move aside like hosts dressed in tuxedos, gesturing toward the stall, singing "Be Our Guest"? What if I used it, flushed, pulled up my pants and opened the door to find someone on a Rascal giving me a dirty look?

A woman and her small daughter come out of a stall and as the little girl washes her hands, they sing the Alphabet Song. The girl tries to conclude washing around J, but her mom reminds her they have to bring the suds past Z.

I buy two Hanes men's white T-shirts, multivitamins and cat litter.


A stop at the local comic book shop, perhaps one of the coolest, punk rock locations for a store. I love any place where you have to walk down steps to get inside. A small room with a picked-over collection and a back room where 20-somethings sit around and deconstruct role playing games and the Sy/Fy network.

I find something I forgot I wanted and jet.


At the Y they tell me that my membership was cancelled in September, though they offer no explanation as to how that happened. I'm torn between a) confusion and b) embarrassment that I haven't been to the Y in so long that I didn't even realize I wasn't being charged for a membership anymore.

This sucks. I've been a member of the Y since I moved here in 2000 -- and before that in Rochester since High School -- and I don't want this lapse on my record. I've never really gotten into a tizzy about paying for a membership even though I don't always go there. It's the Y, right? It's just a donation to a community whatever. It's not like I'm padding the pocket of some 'Roid Rager in Aviator sunglasses driving a yellow hot rod and dating only women with Farrah Fawcett hair who always wear pink leotards and leg warmers and speak in a soprano whisper.

Quitting the Y requires filling out paperwork, which I didn't do. Or did I? Now I'm creeped out that there might be a version of myself running around town canceling my Y membership and using the handicap accessible stalls.

The girl working the front desk lets me in anyway. I watch an episode of "Vampire Diaries" on the elliptical, take a sauna, then a shower. One row of lockers away a woman keeps letting out huge gusts of air and grunts. She seems to be saying "I'm still recovering from my workout. It was a doozy, this workout. Just let me catch my breath."

I was trying to build a Y habit this weekend, but now I have to wait until Monday to solve this mystery.

"Run outside," CHRISSIE! texts me. "The treadmill is the dreadmill."
"No," I respond.


"My Week with Marilyn" has an oddly-timed screening at 5 p.m. and I arrive 15 minutes early. Around me, the theater becomes filled with people twice my age. A group of women negotiated the senior citizen discount while I studied the candy display. Everything takes more time when you're 62 and in a group of other 62 year olds. Where do we all like to sit in a theater? ("Center, but row doesn't matter"). Don't forget to turn off your cell phones! ("I always forget that!") The trailers get a running commentary. No one will shut up about how they want to see "M./E." and how "We Need to Talk About Kevin" looks good, but this "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie?" they probably don't need to see that. Whisper chatter whisper.

"I have some gossip for you," one of the women stage-whispers and begins a story about a relative's wretched shop-o-holic girlfriend. She even says the girl's last name.

Then the movie starts and it's wonderful. Gah, Michelle Williams. You are so lovely and so talented.


Chuck's awake when I get home. He's wearing a shirt and he's a few gurgles into the coffee-making process.

We eat at Gronk's in Superior. Big fat burger baskets, mine smeared with a beer-cheese mixture and his topped with an egg.


We go to JJ Astor for dessert. It's a rotating restaurant at the top of the Raddison. If you stare out the window, right before you get dizzy and disoriented, you can convince yourself you are spinning both clockwise and counter clockwise, depending on how you look at things. There is a jazz trio jamming, we'd shared the elevator with the bass player who was an hour late.

"Meh, I'm sure they were fine without you," I told him. "Who needs a bass?"

We order coffee and a dessert served in a flute: Chocolate mousse topped with ladyfingers and whipped  cream. Holy eff it's good.

Lounging next to us: A foursome of barely legal boys bragging about sexual conquests. Trying to figure out how to optimize their night: Drink much, be naked. The one directly behind me is the worst. His character is a jackass who says things like "She was the most awkward lay I've ever had. ... Dead fish ..."

"When I go out at night, I'm looking for an 8 or better," he says. "After about six drinks, my standards drop. I'll take home a five if I'm drunk."

Two of the dudes decide to stay at the hotel. Take a hot tub, chill in the room, have some drinks. The others are told to go, find women, bring them back to the room.

"You guys like blonds?" one asks, passes around his phone to show off the Facebook photo of a girl. "This chick has two blonde friends. Whenever I'm out, she always approaches me."

"Sometimes I forget a girl's name," their leader says. "When she goes to the bathroom, I have to dig through her purse to find an ID."

(This is a lie. This is something he saw in a movie and it fits the sketch he's drawn of himself. He wants to be the version of Seth Rogen who appears early in the movie, before the pivotal change that turns him into a human being. Still, his friends laugh and tell him he's hilarious). Personally, I have a hard time taking a kid with a lazy stoner drawl and a flat-billed trucker hat cockeyed over Justin Bieber hair very seriously as a sexual conquistador. You take your fashion cues from a Disney-level teen heartthrob who fills mall atriums with screaming 12-year-old girls? There must be something cooler than that, more punk rock, to aspire to.

I begin picturing alternate scenarios. This guy bent over on his couch weeping at heartbreak. Begging a girl to love him back. Or maybe all the women they've discussed tonight are sitting around a table at another bar and one of the women admits "He was the most awkward lay I've ever had. ... Dead Fish ..." While another one concedes, "I only talk to him because he's a sure-thing. He's a five, but after a few drinks I don't care."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thugs and jerks ...

Curious about how I spent the past week? Urine luck. Here is what I made, ate, watched, overheard and read.


Chipotle and Sweet Potato Chowder: I made this meal because I thought it looked like something someone could eat without using her teeth. That turned out to be not necessarily true, but it was worth it anyway. I've usually stayed away from Chipotle Chilis in Adobo Sauce because one time I went apeshit on them in a chili and woke up screaming because I thought someone was giving my colon a snake bite. (How's that for an advertisement?)

Anyway, I really liked this soup.

Restaurant week started here last week so JCrew and I took the op to eat a $10 lunch at Restaurant 301. Some people read Restaurant Week menus and look for what sounds delish. JCrew bargain hunts. She looks for the best value of all the values available. Which restaurants are serving the most otherwise expensive fare for $10. Anyway, we totally won on this one. It. Was. Awesome.

Sauteed Chorizo and Minzuna Salad with Fried Capers, Tarragon and a Soft Poached Egg. 
Croque Madame

Also: Chuck and I ate at Hanabi on Sunday and I had the opposite of what one expects from Sushi. Not in a bad way, but definitely in a "Whoa. Did I just eat at the State Fair?" way. So good. So filling. So, oddly fried. I believe that this roll has Fried Tempura on the outside and there is Sour Cream inside. It took three pieces before it felt like I'd gotten stuck on the Tilt O'Whirl.

Devil Roll from Hanabi
Hugo: This story of a clock-enthusiastic orphan living in the roof of a train station, avoiding the copper and trying to solve the mystery of a project he started with his father before his father died in a blaze. It's magical.

Drive: This is my favorite movie I've seen in like forevs. Ryan Gossling as quiet cool, a stunt man who also picks up side gigs as a getaway driver for all sorts of thugs and jerks. Then he gets mixed up with the neighbor lady and all hell. Chuck likened this one to "Shane" and I can't say it any better. It's just shot so cool with this real gritty 1970s-ness and Ryan Gossling.

Edward Scissorhands: I'd never seen "Edward Scissorhands," and didn't even realize I'd never seen it. What a cute and funny little movie. I'm not convinced I believe that a) Edward would kill Anthony Michael Hall, or that b) the murder wouldn't be investigated. But I suppose if I'm going to suspend my disbelief enough to ride along on the concept of a man dressed like Robert Smith having scissor hands and wowing the ladies with his natural skills as a beautician, I should probably go the extra mile.

Our 80-something year old neighbor shoveled our sidewalk. He tells Chuck he can't get his snowblower to work. That a friend promised four years ago to install an electric starter on it to make it easier, so he wouldn't have to crank away at it.

"We kept putting it off," he said. "Then he up and died on me."

Other People We Married by Emma Straub: Straub's collection is 12 stories about a woman or women who are on vacation, intrigued by something beyond themselves, not-quite in love with their partner or in love with someone who doesn't return the sentiment. She drops readers into a life, then willy-nilly spits the reader back into the world. (Admittedly, sometimes prematurely).

Full review is here.

Wild Thing: A Novel by Josh Bazell: This is the follow up to Bazell's so awesomely disgusting and exciting debut "Beat the Reaper." It is not even in the same solar system as "Beat the Reaper." But it is funny. Well, funny-ish. There is a really lame and unnecessary cameo.

Full review will be here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The pie hole ...

It all started with an inadequate fix for a seven year crave.

If you lived anywhere in or near Rochester, Minn., in the 1990s to at least 2000, you know the reigning pizza joint was Mr. Pizza. Game room aside, its hand-tossed pizza was the stuff other pizzas stare at wistfully and wonder how some pizzas get all the luck. Soft crust, lots of cheese and some magic ingredient not available anywhere north of South Broadway. We ate there a lot back in the day, and if I think about that pizza too hard, even know, I'll wake up oozing toward second base with my pillow.

When I was in Roch last weekend I woke a little feeble-feeling after a night out on the town. My mom ordered us a pizza from, ta-DAH! Mr. Pizza. After all these years. "Do you care what kind?" she asked and I said "No mushrooms" and Fannie said "No mushrooms." Aside from putting mushrooms on a Mr. Pizza pizza, I would think it would be unfuckupable. That crust. That cheese. That mystery ingredient not found north of South Broadway.

It wasn't good. First of all, it was thin crust -- which I'm assuming is like diet pizza. All the flavor, 10 percent of the dough. Then, she had ordered one of the specials. A concoction named for an owner or a regular or dead film star, and this pie was like hamburger, green pepper and onions. Not necessarily a bad combo for the hand-tossed edition, but throw it on thin crust and frankly it's an insult to the VIP namesake. But I ate it. Because that is what you do with pizza: You shut up and you eat it and you like it.

But then the stupid mess, particularly the crunchy crust, knocked loose part of one of my molars. That hurt. Injury upon insult. I looked at the tooth in the shard had already turned to a dead shade and I could wiggle it with my tongue, which also hurt, so I stopped doing that.

A little background on my mouth: I'm short a tooth on the bottom right. This inch-ish gap has made me favor the left side when it comes to heavy chewing. The left side clearly wasn't up to the task and revolted by sacrificing one of its own. My dad, who is also missing Tooth 30, said he still eats on that side and it only hurts when he eats sharp foods and it wedges into his gums. Since we're in my mouth anyway, a sliver of one of my front bottom teeth came off while I was biting my nails a few days ago. So, yeah. If you're looking for me, I'm in the back yard with my face planted in the Calcium lick I just ordered from Amazon.

"I've never seen anything like this," my dentist said, looking at the X-ray of the fracture.
"Yay!" I said.
I love playing "Stump the White Coat."
"Are you going to hang it on your Wall of Fame?" I asked.
It didn't seem like he wouldn't.

The only thing I do not like about my dentist is that he has never invited me to a dinner party, and I suppose he never will. He. Is. Hilarious. Here's me, laid out, head back. He's knuckle deep in my mouth dead panning one liners and the only way to show my appreciation is by jiggling my stomach or making a sort of nasal honk. He did an entire monologue on slow dancing to the song "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc. "You could have one eye and three zits and the girls would still want to slow dance with you," he said. "Probably so they wouldn't have to look at you. ... We didn't have ProActive back then. Just skin-toned latex paint. You'd put it on your face with a two-inch roller brush."

Honk. Jiggle. Honk-honk.

"Can I keep the tooth?" I asked.
"Sure," he said. "I suppose you have a collection."
"I do," I said.
Or at least I do now, if two make a collection.

In the meantime he rammed a bunch of Novocaine into my gums, ripped out the loose part of the tooth and filled in the blank space with something that hardened quickly. Like Cement or a Bit O'Honey. We worked together to re-calibrate my bite. He handed me the partial tooth. It was a chunk the size of a pinky nail with red streaks on it.

"That's your blood," he said.

Some math: I now have 31 and a half of my teeth.

Monday, March 5, 2012

When I almost got into a bar fight at Walgreens ...

I pulled into the parking lot and there was a guy with one hand on the garbage can, another wrapped around a drink and he was chugging from it like the star of a Gatorade commercial ... or a guy at last call that second the cab stops at the curb. Maybe it was in his hunch. Or the stumble. Probably the camouflage overalls. He was definitely the latter.

"Eeps. Hamboned at Walgreens," I thought to the tune of "It's Raining on Prom Night."

The area near the pharmacy smelled boozy. Like if I opened my pores just a quarter of a notch I'd catch The Drink. He was sitting in the waiting chairs fiddling with his snow boots and otherwise freaking out the squares.

"Ma'am! Ma'am," he said. "It's your turn. Go!"
"He's busy with another customer," the woman said and looked away.

I placed my order and sat down about four chairs away. A clerk came out to talk to me about a footnote in my insurance and I said "Oh yeah. They don't cover this." She tried to sell me a prescription plan -- pay $20 now, save something dollars a month, blah blah blah -- and I passed because I hate paperwork.

"Oh, they want to get you on that prescription deal, huh? I'm on that," he said to me. "Who's your provider? Is it (Fill in the blank with some insurance company)."

I looked up from my Kindle and said "Listen. I know what I'm doing. Thanks anyway" and then looked back at my Kindle.

"Well, I'm glad someone knows what they're doing," he said. "Knows what they're doing. Someone who knows what they're doing."

"Ma'am! You're not next! My friend is next," he bellowed back at the line.
"She's okay," his friend said. "I'm next."
"Oh. Oh. Okay," he said. "Jesus. I can't believe it takes 10 minutes to pick up a prescription. We should have been in and out in no time flat. In and out. Ten minutes. What is this. Jesus."
"Man," his friend said. "You have all sorts of rage today. Road rage, store rage ..."

Then the clerk helped his friend and they started to walk away. The drunk guy turned to me and said, "Sorry I tried to help you out," or something like that and I said "Oh, you're fine" and added a smug little self-righteous look I think I learned from my mom.

"I KNOW I'M FINE," he said. Chuckled meanly. "Did you hear what that girl said to me? 'You're fine.' What a bitch. 'You're fine.' Can you believe her?"

And that's when I got the blood boil. That thing where my head starts to pound and my eyes glaze over in a film of red and I almost can't stop myself from saying something smart ass. Like cupping my mouth and shouting "WHATEVER, MR. HAMMERED AT WALGREENS AT 8 O'CLOCK ON A MONDAY!!!" But I swallowed it, paid, and left.

I was dying for him to get into a car when he left the store so I could call the police and give them the most detailed description of a car to ever be recited to a dispatcher in the history of the world. They strolled across the parking lot and he was still mocking me in a sing-song voice "You're fine. You're fine. What a fucking bitch."

Unfortunately they sat down at the bus stop. My inner narc wept.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hurt so good ...

I went to Rochester on Friday for an annual fish fry, a fundraiser for my alma mater in memory of Princess Linda's dad, a quiet man with a nice face who must have found our compulsion to video tape homemade Miss America pageants at slumber parties pretty whacko. Every year the fish fry happens and every year I don't go and every year I regret it so this year I just went. Problem solved.

I got a pair of gas station sunglasses to add a little sass to the journey. I also got a Pine flavored car air freshener. The whole package was very "CHiPs," as though a bunch of women with frosted hair and shiny spandex rompers just might emerge from my back seat and roller skate around a truck stop parking lot.

I detoured into St. Louis Park to pick up Fanny McFanster. She had made two mixes for the trip: One in which the banjos are played at a quick pace; One where they are played more slowly. Both had a special song designated for a singalong. The former had "Don't Stop Believing," the latter had "True Blue" by Madonna. We proceeded accordingly.

When we got to the fish fry there was a bus in front and Ma Pista damn near had the door cranked open before Pa Pista could pull to a complete stop in front. "WE HAVE TO GET IN THERE BEFORE THE NUNS!" she yelped. Sure enough, the Charter was for the ladies of Assisi Heights, the local nunnery. But they were leaving, so we were safe. The first person we saw was the nun who worked at the front desk while we were in high school, Sister J.

"Hello, Sister J," I said to her.
She stopped. Same red wig and a wild look in her eyes like she had just spent the past  45 minutes doing the chicken dance along with the polka band. (Might have happened).
"Class of '94," I told her.
"What's your names," she asked, looking from me to Fanny and back again.
"Christa Pista," I said.
"Fanny McFanster," Fanny said.
Sister J clapped once, snapped her fingers and raised her hands in the air.
"I remember ya," she said and moved along toward the bus.
"Lie," I hissed to Fanny as we walked in. Although, maybe she does. I was late nearly every day of my senior year, which meant frequent interaction. Until I just learned to re-use the same late pass again and again. That stunt went swimmingly for awhile. Then, months later, my eagle-eyed homeroom teacher finally noted the discrepancy with the date on the hall pass. And then the flush era ended.

The fish fry was fuh-uh-un. Lots of familiar faces, some who seemed to have Benjamin Button'ed instead of getting older. I saw my high school Spanish teacher and greeted her with a pretty mangled "Hola Senora L." I saw my elementary school gym teacher, a man who I always believed looked like Clark Kent and who gave me one-on-one hoops tutorials before school because he believed I could be great at basketball (he was wrong). I saw former classmates and the kids of former classmates and parents of former classmates. It was excellent.

"You know," one friend's mom said. "I always see Sister J at the casino and she's always sitting there playing slots and smoking cigarettes." This was a delightful bit of scandalous news.

People kept asking us "What's new?" and Fanny and I would shrug and mumble and look around distractedly and finally we agreed that we were both between BIG HAPPENINGS and that we didn't really have a response for that question.

"Tell people you just bought a boat," Z advised, a pretty great tip. We ended up using it quite a few times.
I briefly considered responding with:
"Oh. Man. You know I'm just super into Bon Iver right now. Like huge! I couldn't believe we won the Grammy. That was pretty big for both of us. We're stoked."

Afterward my parent's dropped us off at the bar. We drank tall beers and Princess Linda made us dance. Then, right around 11 p.m., a whole line of made up, sparkly, hair du'ed kids entered the bar in a single file line and we left. We went to another bar and I ran into my cousin who had just gotten a new tattoo. Fanny played pool.

Eventually we'd sucked all the marrow from Fun Fest. So Z gave us a ride back to my parents. Fanny and I finished off the bottle from Ma Pista's ample supply of wine and found Pa Pista's stash of Girl Scout cookies. We ate cheese and crackers and cackled like fiends. When I woke at 9 a.m. to dance dangerously close to an Advil OD, Fanny didn't even open her eyes, just stuck out her palm for pellets of pain relief. Having fun hurts so much.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mr. Know It All ...

It finally snowed here. I spent from about noon on yesterday with ants in my pants watching weather radar (out of character) and asking rhetorically "When is this thing going to start?" One of my friends was waxing hysterical on Twitter, all-caps mode, shouting "THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!" and using a leap day storm hashtag. Everything is funnier when you're waiting for the big blow.

I like the lawlessness of a snowstorm. The excuse to eat pizza and French onion dip. Wrap myself in dueling fleece patterns. Call a regular night filled with regular things a SNOW PARTY! During a storm years ago Chuck and I took turns jumping off a railing and into a drift. We sat on a mound on what we believed was the side of the road and drank beer wrapped in mittens. People cross country skied or took snowmobiles to the bar. It's very exciting to see how many creative ways there are to be snowbound.

When I woke up this morning there were some tells: Whipping wind and the windows were covered in a white film. Two yahoos busted down the street in a rusty old truck with a snowplow kind of attached. A shitty setup including a cockeyed scoop and extra bouncy shocks. They went up the street, back down backward, back up the street around and down. By the end of it they'd recklessly plowed in all the cars and then skidded away Dukes of Hazard style. This bit of lawlessness meant pulling a circus stunt with my car to get it out of a drift, and that I'd later have an important conversation about what it means when your tail pipe won't stop billowing steam. Fine. I'll get my oil checked, okay?

I had to drive downtown early in the afternoon and the whole time I death-gripped the steering wheel and cursed merging traffic. "Oh my God," I thought. "If I die, this will be the last song I ever hear." ("Mr. Know It All" by Kelly Clarkson).

Still. Snowstorm. Love it. And someone plowed our sidewalk and the street in front of the house and shoveled our porch. Turns out the fake limp I've adopted is really coming in handy.