Speak Truth to Tardiness, or, A Little Bit Crazy

Or, the one wherein I confront and confess to some seriously bad habits that plague me.

Stay tuned.



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When I check my site stats, one of the things I know is what link you clicked out of my page onto...so make me happy by clicking out to a place that promotes charitable giving.

Putting my soapbox away, and going to bed.



RIP Spot

It is amazing to me how we notice the things we need to, but not always in time.

I don't always make it to the henhouse to check the chickens every day. Sometimes, I'm there twice in one day, but other times, I skip. I always give them enough food and water to get through more than one day, and truthfully, I like to encourage them to get outside, especially now that the ground is thawing, and look around for bugs to supplement their diet. It's good for them, saves on feed, and, at least in theory, should be good for the garden I'm hoping to start down near their coop. (I know the bugs are freed from whatever icy prison held them through the winter, because this morning, our lawn was flickering with gorging robins.)

I've been in a funk all day and when the Babe (about three seconds after practically shrieking, "I NOT TIRED" at me) passed out on my lap, I decided to take the opportunity to go down to the barn to feed, water and gather eggs. I took Pasha (the lab puppy) with me for a walk, though taking her to the chickens is always a dicey business, because she sometimes decides that they're big fluffy chase toys that might be tasty snacks. I saw something in the field past the outdoor chicken coop that I couldn't quite place; I had seen a chicken or two in the field earlier today, but now I saw large splashes of color that didn't belong on the straw-colored dead grass. I knew, before I knew, what I was seeing: a fox, in motion, and two chickens, still. As I drew closer, the fox flashed up the hill with an enormous clump of black and brown--one of the Araucana hens. His tail seemed two feet long, tipped in lush white fur. Everyone but me has seen this fox this spring, and it appears I saw him too late.

Also in the field, left behind, was a big white body--too big to be Penelope, the Leghorn hen. It was Spot, the aggressive white rooster I've periodically threatened with the stew pot for his habit of flying at my legs when I come into the coop. Because I had the dog with me, I couldn't, thankfully, just walk right over to his body. I didn't want Pasha to play with him, so instead, she and I went into the barn--but not before another Araucana, ranging outside, tempted her. Today, she couldn't resist, and I am horrified to admit that I chucked a (small) rock at her body to get her to lay off the poor bird. (It glanced off her--I didn't throw it hard--and stopped her attack.) The hen was able to fly up onto a fence post and get away, and so I went inside to do my chores. Everyone else was fine; the fox, in fact, has not been in the henhouse, which is good news.

After gathering the eggs, replenishing water and feed and dumping out the bag of table scraps saved for them, I took the bag and a pair of work gloves outside to gather up Spot's body. With apologies to the squeamish--he'd been beheaded, rather neatly, it seemed; this came as a relief as I've been told that foxes can be messily destructive when they kill. There was a huge pile of feathers where the other chicken must have been taken, but Spot shed almost none. Dido decided several months ago that Spot was the king of the chickens, that the other roosters were his body guards. Maybe today it was the hen who was trying to protect the top of her pecking order. I am hoping this isn't the beginning of a spring of loss.

Days of Whine and Noses

Remember my triumphant post about solitude? Well, suckah, that's over.

The Babe is home sick, yet again. Coughing, snotty, feverish, and less miserable than she should be because she's happily watching a "Maisie" DVD.

One of these days, I'll fall into a groove. Can it not be in fifteen years? Can it be a teeny, tiny bit sooner?


All I Want is You

I never thought I'd say this, ever, in my whole, entire life: I am sick of boots. I want to wear flats, where the top of my foot is exposed to the air; peep toe pumps that show off my lovely red toes; platform strappy sandals that make me instantly not only taller but at least ten pounds lighter (you know, like how the camera adds weight? The right shoes take it right off.)

Good morning, again

I find myself in a quiet and nearly empty house. The H has, finally, rented an office for himself outside of the house. This is momentous and wonderful, for lots of reasons. He can drive the kids to school in the morning, because his office is in the same town. That's a big relief to the Woman Sick of Driving Two Hours Per Day. But even better is that I GET TIME ALONE.

Maybe it's an only child thing, but I go a little batshit if I don't have time all by myself. I am sometimes the most sociable creature in the world, but at other times, I really, REALLY don't want to have a conversation. With anyone. I just want to be blissfully immersed in my own head. It drives the H crazy; he says, and he may be right (though I think he's just as guilty of this!) that I get so lost in my own world that I pay no attention to my family (or, say, more specificially, him, ahem.) Maybe it's true. I don't know. But what I do know (for sure, as Queen Oprah would say) is that quiet time alone is one of my greatest luxuries and joys, and for me to be productive and civil, it's an absolute necessity. So while I am not technically alone this morning (Vous is silent in her garret above the garage; the dogs are downstairs eating bones, and the cat is skulking around, no doubt soon to find me and jump up onto the desk, because that's where cats want to be when you're working--in the center of everything--) I have the sensation of solitude, and it's lovely.

It gives me time to contemplate the things I have to do--plan the vegetable garden I'm about to start to construct down by the barns (advice welcome--I have never done this before and am relying heavily on these two books to teach me); plan summer travels and kids' activities; continue the Great Organization Project of 2007 2008, and so on. Do you like to be alone? Where does your mind voyage when you are?


This is what it looks like

When I was a girl, I remember thinking (I still do) that my mother was really beautiful. She was a beautiful girl and a beautiful woman, both, and others apparently thought so, too, because periodically someone would exclaim, "No! You're not really xxx years old! You don't look xxx..." to which my mom's stock response was, "This is what xxx looks like." There was a mix of self-effacement and sarcasm in her voice, always, and I guess I feel the same way. I look the way I look. Sometimes I look at myself and see only lines and flab and feel ancient, and other times I think, heh, not so bad, really. But, like she said, this is what it looks like.

Today is my 42nd birthday. This is what it looks like. Happy birthday to me.

Without Further Ado

At least you can't accuse me of burying the lede. But there's preamble, so you'll just have to bear with me.

After the endless emptiness of the blue carpet, we were ushered into the event space (not to be confused with the tent space) for the Spirit Awards. A Lance-Armstrong-esque stretchy yellow bracelet was the sign that we belonged. As a nominee, though, shouldn't the H have some sort of VIP status? We decided to try to go to the cordoned-off area to find out. By this time, the H's agent had found us, so the three of us approached the stanchions. Guess what? We had the wrong bracelets. The H had some sort of extra credential on his tickets, but that wouldn't admit the wife or the agent. Ah, but never underestimate the power of celebrity or its rub-off. Just as we were attempting to negotiate with the powers-that-were at the entry, another headset-wearer and a photographer rushed over. "John! How are you?" No, not the H, his agent, also named John. You see, that John lives with a very famous actress, and so, for better (unlikely) or (mostly) worst, is known to every photographer in Hollywood. Guess what? They let us in, and took our pictures. Amazing.

After seeing just how dull the VIP area was (a bar! more product placement!) we decided to head into the tent for the awards. The biggest part of every Hollywood event of any kind is devoted to the schmooze. It can be fun, like when I ran into an old friend at the pre-awards cocktail party, and she reintroduced me to some people I'd known peripherally in my old life. Fun, no pressure: I wasn't looking for anything from any of them, and vice versa. We had nice conversation about why we left L.A. and what our new life is like (always a favorite topic of mine.)

But often, the schmooze is stressful. You see this phenomenon everywhere: as people enter a room, they start to scan. Who is here that they know? Who is here that they wish to avoid? Who here is powerful, holds possible keys to their success, and can they manage to have a conversation with that person? You can feel people vibrating with anxiety; the H and I call it the hunted look, and it's one of the things that I am most grateful to no longer have as a part of my life. It produces rudeness (like on my second date with the H, when an agent I knew shook his hand, and at the same time called to someone else over the H's shoulder: at the time, the H was an unknown, just the date of a low level executive--now people routinely do the same thing to me, cause I'm just the wife) and a palpable discomfort that pervades every industry gathering.

In the Spirits tent, the schmooze was in full swing. I am a good spotter--I have a great memory for faces and names, while the H's is somewhat less acute. So I looked for people he should say hello to, and helped him navigate. Because there's no longer any pressure on me, I actually kind of enjoy it now. We saw some friends, I saw some more former colleagues from my days at HBO, and we at long last met a writer/producer who is our neighbor (a weekender) here in the sticks and who we've been wanting to meet. Then, after a too-quick hello to the H's uncle, we started towards our table.

One other rule of Hollywood is that the famous people always arrive last. When we found our table, already there was one of the film's producers, and her husband. I have nothing good to say about her, so let's just call her Dorian and be done with it. I'm sure her husband is a perfectly nice guy, just like the other lovely producer, who arrived shortly thereafter, with his normal seeming doctor wife. Just as the festivities, if you can call them that were about to begin, the buzz of voices let us know that THEY WERE COMING. We were sharing our table with the (yes, clearly pregnant) Brangelina. The H and I were seated as far away from them as possible, between the doctor and the studio head. Dorian, whose power derives from her proximity to Brad, had positioned herself next to him, while Angie's longtime manager sat to her right. Celebrities need insulation. Everyone said hello, and then the stupefying two hours of rubber chicken began. I don't remember much, except that there were cameras over my shoulder the entire time (sitting directly across the table from the CENTER OF THE MEDIA UNIVERSE, you know) and that Cate Blanchett is ravishingly beautiful. Everyone wants to know what Brangie are like--couldn't tell you. I exchanged maybe ten words with each of them the entire time. They weren't there to make friends, and neither was I.

When it was (finally) over, the room started to vibrate again. Seemingly in an instant, half the crowd moved toward our table. Everyone wanted to be near Brad and Angie. Everyone wanted to shake hands, take a picture, and so on. They were incredibly gracious; I found their tolerance for this onslaught really impressive. It's the price (one of them) of the celebrity they've assiduously courted, but they pay it without complaint, or at least they did on that day. We finally exited the tent (only after they left--we literally couldn't escape the crowd surrounding our table until they did) and headed to the afterparty.

It was insane, packed with people, dark and hot and unpleasant. I saw three people I knew, and then I was done. I called for our car to take me the three blocks back to our hotel (it was pouring rain, I had no umbrella, and I was dressed up.) I found the kidlets, and Vous, and headed downstairs for a dinner. The H met us, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The "vacation" was nearly over.

Think of Boca Grande

This one's for my old friend. Send her good thoughts today.


Hold your horses

I'll get to it, I promise. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and go here, my new favorite place on the whole, entire, Al Gore-invented, interweb.

An Intermission, Wherein I Answer Your Questions

No, the H's publicist did not resolve this little oops. No, the H didn't open any cans of whoopass on anyone after the unsweet suite. I mean, really, how f***ing spoiled would you have to be to complain to your publicist that the gifting suite didn't show you enough love? He did think about it, and then thought better. I was proud of him. As for it being horrible, I suppose so. But it was so funny, and all I could think the whole time was, "I cannot wait to write about this." So it was worth it. And thank goodness I don't go to L.A. more, because I don't think I could take it. It's exhausting, and leaves me feeling more guilty (about not having enough time for the people I love) than fulfilled.

As for Justine Bateman--she's really nice, very funny and extremely smart, and went to junior high with the H, where they apparently co-starred in a school play. He's never recovered from it, and carries a torch for her to this day. As to her face--umm, my face is different from when I was watching Family Ties, too. (Ahem. And I say that with love.)


Part Three: Le Tapis Bleu

It's only in French to make it, you know, classier. Because God knows, Hollywood needs a lot of things, and classing up is definitely one of them. LiLo, anyone?

Saturday morning, the day after the gifting fiasco, dawned drizzly and cold. We had moved to the hotel the studio put us in for the awards (thank you, Paramount Vantage, for this part of our family trip--it was lovely) and after a breakfast characterized by only two temper tantrums (first the Babe, then her father) the H and I returned to our rooms to start getting ready for his moment of non-triumph. It was pretty clear (hello, Writers Guild Awards? Oscar nominations?) that the newly-legendary ex-stripper Diablo Cody was going to win, which was alternately kind of irritating and a bit of a relief. Lowered expectations and all that.

A black towncar arrived at 11:30 to pick us up for the three and a half minute trip to the tent on the beach where the awards were to be held. The H's publicist would meet us at the entrance and guide him through the gauntlet otherwise known as the red carpet.

But at the Spirit Awards, because, you know, they're Indie, the carpet is actually blue. This might be a case of being different, say, just for the sake of being different. Maybe. You can decide for yourself.

Over my long enough career in La-La Land, I spent long enough on red carpets. Unless you're famous, it's just floorcovering. You walk quickly, avoiding eye contact with the microphone and camera brandishers along the sides. They could care less about you, or you about them. Oddly, this is true for screenwriters, as well. Unless, say, they have a publicist at their side. (Or a compelling and well-publicized past as a sex-worker.)

God bless her, the H's lovely flack managed to garner enough interest in him to keep him occupied for a good half an hour as we slowly wended our way down the aisle. I did what any woman bored at an awards show would do: I looked at fashion.

Those are Ileana Douglas' feet in the first shot--I thought the shoes were fab. Not so much the ill-fitting dress worn by John's competition (though her ink is nice) and this poor starlet had a major wardrobe malfunction witnessed only, I think, by me and about a hundred or so journalists. Not her lucky day. But you know those stick on bra thingies? They really do stick on! Even when your dress falls off! So it could have been worse.

When the fashion got dull, I looked for people we knew. I said hello to a producer (sorry, no pictures--they don't make it onto WireImage) or actor or three, and tried (in vain) to live post pics I was taking to my blog. People, I tried. I can't help it that Utterz failed me.

But the best was going on, unbeknownst to me, with the H, hard at work amidst his media interviews. There he was, speaking earnestly with BBC Radio, and then with E!. Just as the beautiful spokesmodel reporter posed an insightful question, he noticed her cameraman hard at work--changing the battery pack on his camera. That's right, folks--he was being interviewed, but the camera was not running. Nope. Not turned on. Since the H, among his many talents, includes film and video production, he was savvy to this little snafu. Mid sentence, he stopped. "I don't think there's any reason for me to answer that question." "Why?" smiled the "reporter." "Look at your camera man. Thanks for your time."



Part Duh--the Artificial Suitener

So up we pull up to the address the H's publicist emailed him; two big bouncers, a nervous girl in a headset and a tiny sign reading "The Silver Spoon" let us know we've found our unholy grail, the much-publicized "gifting suite." (Yes, they are really called that.) John hops out, excited like a kid going trick or treating, and nervous girl instructs me to pull around the corner to the event's valet parking--we can all go inside to see the bounty. Mind you, we're traveling in our superfly rented Ford Fairlane minivan. "Rocking the minivan", as my (childless) (superhip) brother in law liked to say any time he had to drive our old one because he was taking the kids somewhere. John's already inside by the time I gather two crabby kids and Vous, the au pair, to whom I am vainly trying to explain what the hell it is we're doing.

Inside,it's dark, but not dark enough. Have you ever been inside a nightclub during the daytime, when too much light and too little alcohol makes the space a whole lot less daring and exciting and way more done on the cheap? This place had a faux Chinese decor, kind of like Grauman's Chinese Theater, with a big bar in the center of the room,, raised ramps along the sides, a staircase up the center in the back to another loft-like bar space. In every spare bit of room, a vendor--or, rather, a gifter--had set up shop: jeans, smoothies, coffee, luggage, gadgets, make up....you name it.

The first hint that we might be not exactly the giftees the gifters were looking for came when a shrill little woman (looking remarkably like the headset-wearer at the door) chased us down, all four of us, me, the kids, and Vous, as we squinted in the halflight trying to see the H. "You need BANDS" she shrieked. Umm, ok. Probably true, in many senses. She meant on our wrists. By this point, I had spotted the H, explained that we were with him, and she wrapped us all in bright yellow bands. (This would become a theme for the week.)

The H had spotted us, too, and pulled me aside to say that all was not as it seemed. He was excited to see the cool hardshell luggage being bestowed on someone we sort of recognized but couldn't say from where--but when the H tried to horn in, he had been told that he needed a different wristband. "Should we try upstairs and see what there is?" I suggested. Downstairs seemed like a sea of clothing from designers I'd never heard of and an enormous display of Busteles Coffee.

Up we went. Dead ahead, some kind of smoothie bar, again, from a vendor I'd never before encountered, but to our left--GADGETS!. Manna from the H's heaven. The "Jawbone", the hippest bluetooth headsat around, dozens of them stacked on a table mannned by beautiful girls. Except maybe in his fantasies, the H is no Eliot Spitzer (and more on THAT in another post) so this was pretty hot stuff for him. He picked up a box, admired it, one girl started extolling its many benefits, and then, when her spiel was done, the conversation trickled off into quiet. I found myself wondering, not aloud, how this is supposed to work. Do you have to ask? Is there supplicstion involved in being gifted? Aren't they just supposed to bestow things upon you?

Meanwhile, my children were getting restless and my overwhelmed and confused au pair was having no success in distracting or wrangling them. The lady in the next booth took pity on me. She was there from the super cool (yes, I know sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, thanks) Norton Utilities company, and, as I learned, was the preeminent authority on internet safety for kids. Uh huh. But bless her, she directed Vous and the kids over to the smoothie bar, and I gratefully took the software and a copy of her book. You never know, right?

The H was still locked in awkward silence with the Jawbone beauties. Finally, one of them (after a whispered conversation with the first lovely, who said she was new and wasn't sure of the process) informed John that they were running low (oh, really? That must be because there were only four hundred or so boxes stacked behind the table) and if he wanted to leave his information, they might be able to send something (unspecified) to him at a later date. Riiiiiight.

We walked away, somewhat more confused than two intelligent people ought to have been. Another table, this one with cute little speaker sets for iPods, called to the oddly-hopeful Husband. As we walked up, another person we both sort of recognized, a handsome Latin looking guy with lovely skin and hipster hair, was being loaded down with (another) bag of swag. Maybe this would be our lucky booth.... Just as the (much kinder) rep for this company was awkwardly explaining that today they were only giving to people wearing the GREEN wristbands--he gestured with a nod towards the handsome guys walking away from us--but he'd be happy to send one to us at a later date (had we heard this before?) I realized who Mr. Handsome was.

Did you ever watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"? For a few seasons, I was addicted. The giftee was none other than Jai. Remember Jai? The "expert" in "culture"? He was always the one you felt a little sorry for because his expertise and accomplishments seemed so amorphous, though he was always sympathetic and kind to the oafs he was coaching. But I'm pretty sure he wasn't nominated this season for any Golden Globes, Oscars, SAG awards or Independent Spirits. I'm pretty sure. Even without that validation, Jai, apparently, is still celeb-enough to rate the green band, while the H once again is reminded that in Hollywood, nothing and no one is lower than a writer. Just when you think you've made it---all the way to the gifting suite---Hollywood--efficient in nothing else--is quick to remind you not to let your self-esteem get out of hand.

(Stay tuned for Part Three--The Blue Carpet.)


Hollywood Babble On, Part Unh

Our first stop on the west coast grand tour was San Diego, a city that always strikes me as the ultimate example of having no there. I don't mean to be an SD hater, but it's an oddly detached place, especially for a big city with one of the busiest border crossings probably in the world. There's more of a tourism vibe than of an actual urban center. What I mean is, when I go to New York City, even having lived there, albeit briefly, I am always acutely aware of being a visitor to a place that (millions of) others call home: they have knowledge of and a claim upon their home that will likely always elude me. San Diego doesn't feel that way. You visit and think, right, this is a place that is entirely about T shirt shops and campy restaurants, in other words, by not living there, you're not missing much.

We were there for a wedding, which is the perfect reason to go to San Diego, and managed to pack in Legoland and a trip to the San Diego Zoo as well. The wedding was beautiful and entertaining, appropriately star-studded, and it was fun to see the other hotel guests going berserk because Leo and Justin had been sighted. Neither of them sends me (though I do like Justin's music, and think "Dick in a Box" is genius funny)--but had George Clooney or Ralph Fiennes been there, I'm sure I'd be a lot less blase.

We left for L.A. the day after the wedding, expecting to stay in a house I'd rented. Unfortunately, when we arrived (at 9 p.m., after meeting John's brother, sister in law and my mom for dinner) it was kind of a disaster: construction debris everywhere outside, not cleaned from the previous tenants inside, and with a redneckesque mattress laying in front of the garage. The H flipped out, and within an hour, we were installed in a hotel in Hollywood.

The next few days were a blur of playdates, mostly for the kids, Disneyland (again, mostly for the kids) and pre-awards obligations ranging from shoe shopping to cocktail parties, the latter distinguished by running into a dear friend and former colleague--one of the highights of the whole trip.

The slippery slide into "I don't want to be here", though, began when the H's publicist emailed him--she'd gained him (us) entree into The Silver Spoon, an awards season festival of companies attempting to publicize their products by giving them away to celebrities--otherwise known as swag. We had heard that this could be a motherlode of cool free stuff--who who wouldnt want to check it out? Between hair appointments (both of us) and lunch with his agent (the H), we booked over to Hollywood, kids in tow.

Stay tuned for Part Duh.


Remember me?

You know it's been too long when your mom calls to ask when you'll be blogging again.

It's not for lack of interest, or even lack of stories to tell. My sojourn in California taught me many things (or, at least, a couple) but the relevant one at this particular moment is "never travel without your laptop." I wanted to blog--a lot--while I was there, but blogging on the iPhone, as I've complained before, is just way too much trouble, particularly when there are short people around.

Since returning last week, I've also had many, many moments of consuming desire to sit down and spill my guts and my wine, but not much time. The digging out from the post-vacation pile of crap mail, bills, and paper odds and ends has been all-consuming, not to mention getting two kids out of jetlag and back to school...So much for the excuses. I'm back. I am going down to NYC tomorrow for the day, so I may not post tomorrow, but upon my return, I promise--funny (I hope) tales of Leo, Justin, Brad, Angie, and ordinary folk like me navigating the slippery, swaggy slopes of awards-season L.A.

Stay tuned.