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Fog

Things are happening, I’ll have you know. I’d tell you what these things are, but I’d have to kill you. Actually, I’d tell you what these things are, but I don’t remember. It’s been a long week. I think scientists around the globe-when they aren’t busy making up facts out of thin air about global warming and peak oil production to vex greedy Republicans-will testify to the fact that this past week lasted seventy-six days. You can’t argue with them; it’s science. It’s reality-based, man.

Here’s what I remember:

1) Someone left two cookie jars in my front hall.

2) These were, unfortunately, devoid of cookies.

3) Goblin pooped and had her nails done.

4) (Not at the same time.)

5) Rob came home from wherever he was and made one too many puns.

6) I had a torrid affair with a stack of index cards.

See, my life is interesting. Next week, maybe I will have more wacky hijinks with the laundry.

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The Devil Is in the Details

I’m trying to get my life in order. Really. Some of you may remember the last time I tried to get my life in order, which resulted in the rather impertinent little green book. This was an effective taskmaster but did nothing for my overall organization or joie de vivre, so I’m trying again with a system called Getting Things Done, an all-encompassing scheme for Getting On Top Of Things Once And For All. So now, the dusty pyramid of papers in the corner of my office-the one that has kindly given a home to a bushel of dog hairs and a passel of spiders-is joined on the floor by a heap of organizational equipment I bought at Staples. These are not interacting as well as I had hoped, but the spiders seem overjoyed at this opportunity for expansion.

In other news, I got so much Done over the past few days that I decided I had time to go see the famed EPISODE THREE yesterday. Following George Lucas’s previous two cinematic disasters, I was not expecting much from this, and indeed, the latest film’s major flaws include genuinely cringe-inducing dialogue, the eerie sense it was plotted by a committee of fanboys (“Wouldn’t it be neat if Yoda had a lightsaber fight with the Emperor!”), and the narrative annoyance of dotting every “i” that leads up to A New Hope. And yet, it somehow transcended the sum of its parts to the extent that I didn’t spend two hours actively wishing it were over, as I did in Episodes One and Two.

The best part of any Star Wars movie is always the first four seconds, when “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .” fades in, and the opening chord of the score rattles the theater walls. It always makes me cry, dragging me back to that day I was six years old and seeing it all for the first time. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a story about this life-altering moment, which is, I think, why we all stick with it through thick and thin (mostly thin).

I’m not sure anyone imagined at the time that the Star Wars “universe” would become so complex, a turn of events that was highlighted for me yesterday as I waited for the movie to start. The woman sitting behind me was trying to describe to her companion what had happened in the previous two movies that lead up to this third (either because he had not seen them or, like me, he had seen them and found them instantly forgettable). “I watched the DVD of the second one yesterday,” she said, “but I couldn’t see the whole thing because I had to finish cleaning up after the kids and making dinner. But from what I gather, they sent that Padme character to live by a lake somewhere, but all they gave her to wear was a bunch of evening gowns. And I don’t know who was cooking and cleaning for her and stuff because you never see any servants, but someone had to be doing her hair . . .”

Or maybe See-Threepio learned how to braid.

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Are You There, World?

Who’s that knock knock knockin’ on the door? Oh yes, it’s me! Back from the abyss! Really, I had only dropped into the abyss for tea on Monday last, but you can’t imagine the hassle it is to pull yourself away once the abyss pulls out its vacation slides.

So, what’s new with you? What’s new with me is that a bird pooped on the back of my neck while I was on my way to a party last week. It got a big splat on the collars of my blazer and my nice shirt . . . unknown to me until I put my coat on the hostess’s bed. The man who was with me when I noticed it somehow managed to personally confide this riveting information to everyone in the vicinity within nine seconds; when I emerged from the bathroom after having dabbed at the spots with a wet tissue, every eye darted in my direction and a murmur of “bird poop bird poop bird poop” went up from the crowd.

What’s new with Goblin is that I got her a movie deal. She is going to appear in (read: star in) a documentary about dogs in our neighborhood. After an evening of filming, we received word from the filmmakers that Goblin was simply the most posh and fascinating dog in town, praise that went directly to her little head with such rapidity that her pointy bat ears flapped in the breeze. She now goes nowhere without an entourage of twelve and has been seen dancing in clubs that even I can’t get into. And what’s with all the bling, Goblin Foo?

Okay, I have to go now . . . the abyss is taking me to its timeshare in Boca.

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Domestic Tragedies

This weekend, the art school held its commencement; the graduating students, resplendent in their finest peasant’s kerchiefs, marched down the aisle, tum tum tum, twirling their paintbrushes and charcoal pencils and whistling a triumphant tune. Rob and Goblin and I missed all of this, caught up as we were in certain horrors closer to home. I got the ball rolling by washing the white laundry along with the black pen that Rob left in his shirt pocket. How was I to know? Pens usually vanish into an interdimensional vortex the instant they cross the threshold of this house, leaving me to write down telephone messages in blood or the juice of maraschino cherries. Imagine my surprise to discover a Rorschach test emblazoned across towels, blankets, underpants, and my favorite tee shirts as I transferred them to the dryer. Later, Rob summoned me to the kitchen and confessed to shattering a component of our new Pottery Barn bud vase on the tile floor. Clearly, we are cursed, as that was one of the only nice things in our entire home.

ME: Oh, St. Pottery Barn, why have you forsaken me?

ST. POTTERY BARN: Because when St. Crate & Barrel called, you didn’t give me the message.

ME: Sure I did! I left it right here so you could see it!

ST. POTTERY BARN: Is that maraschino cherry juice?

ME: Could be.

ST. POTTERY BARN: Good luck getting the ink stains out of your shirts. Oooh, that one looks like a giraffe doing something naughty to itself.

Congratulations, art school students.

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The “G” Word

Last night, I watched The Breakfast Club for the first time, twenty years too late. The film-featuring the enormous nostrils of Judd Nelson, the buck teeth and darting eyes of Molly Ringwald, and the psychotic hoots and clicks of Ally Sheedy-is among the worst I have ever seen; to say that it doesn’t stand the test of time implies that it had something meaningful to say in the first place about a pack of self-pitying teenagers from different cliques who Overcome Their Differences. Good grief. The only reason it captured the imagination of a generation is because its vapid characters are so prone to projection. Granted, the version I watched, one of “TiVo’s Picks,” was taped automatically off of the Women’s Entertainment network and censored for offensive language so thoroughly that entire scenes featured more dubbing than a kung-fu movie, but I could tell what they were saying anyway. Their mouths may have said damn, but their lips said fuck.

Earlier in the day, I was waiting to cross a street when a man with regrettable fashion sense approached. “Dude, did you get one of these?” he said, proffering a stack of bible tracts entitled The “G” Word, complete with cartoon Jesus on the cover.

“That’s the last thing I need,” I snapped, jumping into traffic to avoid him. The “G” word is really

“Getthehellawayfrommemothafuckaaaaa.”

Later, I was walking my dog past some art students, and one of them, a girl wearing a peasant’s kerchief, said to Goblin, “Hi there, little butt face.” Goblin and I were so stunned that we froze in our tracks, our mouths hanging open in affronted horror, but the students just laughed and walked on. Why do people have to be so mean? My dog’s face does not remotely resemble a butt. I think it was The “G” Word coming back to haunt me:

“Goblindoesn’thaveabuttfacebiyatch!”

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Hot. Hot? Not.

No salsa dancing tonight. The lesson I had agreed to attend turned out to be for intermediate salsa dancers, whereas I am less than a beginner. I am the stain on a salsa dancer’s shoe. The Young Man and I have tentatively agreed to reschedule for next Tuesday. I still have no idea as to what the Young Man is thinking. It has been so long since anyone in the universe has expressed the remotest amount of interest in me, socially or for anything more intense, that I have forgotten how to play the game.* Everyone hates it when a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife is matter-of-factly dropped into conversation on what is viewed by one party as a date and the other as a pleasant outing. Everyone also hates it when it is assumed that people who could be potentially attracted to each other can’t be friends or attend events unchaperoned. On the night I met the Young Man, I was my usual self, discussing my husband ad nauseum; hell, I was wearing my wedding ring. If that wasn’t enough notice, I am at a loss for what I can do next time. Skywriters are so expensive these days.

My therapist asked me yesterday if the Young Man is an appropriate addition to my life, an understandable line of inquiry given that I tend to make inappropriate additions at the drop of a hat. He said I already have an interesting life and doesn’t see why I need to inject more drama, and it is clear this is pure drama. Either the Young Man feels something romantic, in which case he will be disappointed that I am married and uninterested, or he feels something platonic, in which case I will be disappointed not to be found attractive by someone. In the case of option number one, I have already selected an available young homosexual to whom I will transfer the Young Man’s affections; in the case of option number two, I suspect a chemical peel looms large in my future.

What do I want out of all this? Ideally, a new friend with artistic vision, a fresh energy, and an uncommon perspective on life, all traits the Young Man embodies with the confidence of a youthful matador. If only he avoids the tight pants and funny hat of that death-defying profession, we should have no trouble maintaining that level of interaction. Perhaps, occasionally, I will allow my new friend to talk me into going salsa dancing, and as we whirl seductively around the floor,** and I will laugh at my ridiculous notions that he might ever have wanted anything more.

 

* What a difference from my heyday of twenty-five dates a week. And here I use the word date extremely loosely.

** With different partners, of course . . . salsa dancing is an unwaveringly heterosexual sport.

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There’s Something in the Air

Ah, springtime . . . season of sunlight, allergies, and yanking Goblin away from dead baby birds on the sidewalk. How are you, world? I am fine but confused. If a very cute, very young, and presumably very straight boy I met at a Young Adult Friends meeting last week calls and asks me to go salsa dancing with him on Wednesday, is he asking me on a date? I would think he knows I’m married as I did nothing but talk about Rob at this meeting. He is probably not asking me on a date but rather was hoodwinked into believing I am an interesting person who might like to go salsa dancing, a tenuous illusion I might be able to maintain until the moment we get to the salsa dancing place, but all bets are off after that.

I am happy today, world. It’s spring. The birds that aren’t dead on the sidewalk are chirping outside my window. I politely fired some contractors today, and they went quietly and with surprising dignity. My business might open before a George Bush-induced Armageddon.

Things are looking up.

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Foo 5

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There’s No Way I Wasn’t Going to Blog about This

Yesterday, when I took my Powerbook into the Apple Store to get a replacement battery, ahead in line at the Genius Bar was a wild-eyed man in a waistcoat who in a barely controlled panic was explaining to the computer specialist how his laptop had been compromised by malicious hackers intent upon world domination.

“There, sir! See that icon! It means they’re in there! They’re beaming signals directly into my modem!”

“Sir,” said the computer specialist, “that’s the start-up icon.”

“No, sir! No! That’s what started showing up after they gained access. There was a long article about it in the Los Angeles Times. Once they get access the first time, they can get in again and again, and the computer doesn’t even have to be on! They’re beaming directly into the modem! They’re in there right now!

“Sir,” said the computer specialist, “that’s impossible. Your modem isn’t even plugged in. Your computer is not connected to the Internet.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, sir! I can show you proof! I’m working with the-” here he lowered his voice dramatically as if he were in a movie. “I’m working with the FBI,” he hissed. “I’m working with them on this. They know all about it.”

“Sir,” said the computer specialist, “what you’re describing is just not possible.” He was frustrated, but I think he was genuinely trying to give the man in a waistcoat some peace of mind. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that dismissing the delusions of a crazy person as impossible is like throwing water on a grease fire.

In a restrained frenzy, the man grabbed the laptop and began delving into the command line, insisting that these distant hackers-“They’re probably in California right now . . . They seem to be operating on California time!”-were at that very moment rewriting the operating system from the ground up.

“But sir,” said the computer specialist resignedly, “you’re booted from a CD. It’s a non-rewritable medium.”

“You don’t know anything, sir!” thundered the man in the waistcoat. “I’ll show you, sir!”

As this was clearly going to become an extended encounter, the computer specialist took advantage of his customer’s distraction to address the problem with my Powerbook. Being merely a battery issue, it was a short transaction, but one punctuated by bizarre side exchanges.

“Here, sir,” announced the man in the waistcoat. “How do you explain this?” He gestured triumphantly toward lines of code that looked complex to me but that caused the poor computer specialist to roll his eyes.

“That’s just [insert innocuous explanation here]. I see that every day, sir. Really. It’s a normal part of the operating system. It has nothing to do with outside access.”

“Yes? Well if they don’t have access, how do you explain that they taunt me when I’m using the terminal shell? How do you explain that, sir? How do you explain that they’re taunting me?”

Everyone in the vicinity who had been vaguely amused by this exchange suddenly grew very quiet.

“They’re . . . taunting you?” asked the computer specialist carefully.

“Yes!” said the man in the waistcoat. “They taunt me and taunt me, and I get so frustrated that I type insults back at them, and the computer processes them when I type them in, and that’s how I know they’re doing stuff in there!”
I could see the conflict between various parts of the computer specialist’s psyche battling it out, but his stubborn geekiness won. “What do you mean the computer processes your insults?” he asked. “If you type in an insult in the Unix shell, it’s not going to process them.”

It was right then that he finished processing my maintenance request, having ordered me a new battery for pick-up later in the week, so I had no reason to hang around for any more of this drama. And yet, curious, hoping for more juicy tidbits, I pretended to browse the nearby iPods for another ten minutes before going down to the food court to eat lunch at the Panda Express. Thirty minutes later, when I passed by the Apple Store again, the man in the waistcoat was still there, hunched over his computer in a desperate attempt to document to someone, anyone, the abuse he suffers on a daily basis, which could probably be multiplied a hundred times before even beginning to approach the levels endured by that poor technician or anyone else who deals with the public for a living.

Somehow, I don’t think Apple intended to attract people who think quite that different.

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Foo 4

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Foo 3