1. Long quiet shadows on a cool summer morning.
2. The miracle of Advil.
That miracle's not working too well. But the shadows held the quiet promise of a small adventure. And there's always Run River in bed.
The NY Times Sunday Magazine runs “The Meh List,” an approximately two inch by one inch list of stuff that’s neither here nor there, fabulous nor putrid, offensive nor inoffensive—cultural trends that are simply unremarkable. Which makes a person wonder why anyone would then bother remarking. After a couple of years of brow furrowing, I’ve concluded that it was an intern’s idea.
Previously invisible in every one of the dozen editorial meetings she’d made coffee for, the 23-year-old Brown graduate decided one gray morning that this was her day. Raising an impetuous hand, (which immediately itself actually appeared to start blushing, from the tips of its nails to a spot close to the wrist) she miraculously caught the eye-roll of her boss and now—totally, irrevocably on the spot—blurted out an idea: a column, no a list, a tiny tiny list, in fact, a list that is important, well, not that important, in fact, it is deliberately UNIMPORTANT. It’s a list of UNIMPORTANT things, things nobody cares about, you know, like, let’s see, watermelon for dessert (on this week’s list). Her boss asked for more coffee. But then her bosses boss (because that’s how these things go) raised an authoritative palm and said it was perfect, perfect; it could capture the bored, indifferent, cynical zeitgeist of all the post-economic–meltdown Brooklyns across the expanse of zeitgeist-hungry America. And so “The Meh List” was born.
While I can be as bored, indifferent, cynical, and negative as the next person, I am going to start listing stuff that is remarkable, in a good way. Or maybe it will also include bad-way remarkable things. Like that intern’s stammered idea, this one is a work in progress. It doesn’t have a title yet. Suggestions are welcome. But it doesn’t have anything to do with gratitude or bliss, because gratitude should be a given and the word bliss should be outlawed.
1. The long riffle of leaves as a squirrel skims across the treetops.
2. John building shelves in the pantry so we can put boxes of food away and finally get close to being moved back into the house that’s almost done being renovated and in which we will live when we get married next Friday.
So today we started on the brutal task of cleaning out Jackson's room before he goes away to college. He was surprisingly helpful, probably because the alternative was going to Bed Bath and Beyond to order stuff for his dorm room – a death march through the land of tiny weird wastebaskets that any sentient being would eschew. But he was also surprisingly – and touchingly - protective, even sentimental. I got the full body-block when I tried to get near his board games, with him insisting that he loves board games and he didn't want me to touch any of them.
We did ditch Life, which has always struck both of us as one of the world's most depressing games, the seeming message being that you just kind of trudge through your years on the planet and get stuff or not. I guess the winners look like Mitt Romney. Everyone else looks like us. Operation also made it into the Goodwill pile, probably (okay, I'm projecting) because his dad is a surgeon. We also gave the pink slip to an aspirational silk-screening set I bought at a garage sale when he was five. Which he never opened. Whatever Jackson’s interests might end up encompassing, silk-screening is probably not going to be his passion.
He threw away reams of schoolwork, keeping only a couple of literature papers, and got rid of all his old Gameboy-type devices, trophies, and sporting equipment. We were ruthless. My new editor-in-chief boss would be proud; she’s a woman who lives to eliminate the unnecessary.
I, however, feel a little sad, and I think it was hard for Jack too. But it was also really lovely to sit on the stairs and look at a packet of photos he took of churches in France when he was there on an exchange program in fifth grade, and to rifle through the pictures he drew of smiling monsters with large weapons. And to remember, for the first time in years, the summer he spent in Thousand Oaks studying engineering - never once taking off his Amoeba Records hoodie even though it was 105 degrees, because even then he just didn't want to be that engineering guy.
Clearing the deck and getting ready to watch my boy fly off into the rest of his life is wrenching. The medals and trophies lying in the bottom of the garbage bin broke my heart. I know, deeply, because I know him, that his is going to be nothing at all like the game of Life. His is going to be rich, and complicated, and full of joy and satisfaction. Still, it's hard to get rid of the gun that shoots tiny rubber chickens, and the size 6 fencing shoes.
Hilary Rosen did choose the wrong words. Saying that Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life," is inaccurate, because blah-blah-blah we all know raising children is hard. As is sucking up to your bland yet odious, satanically unprincipled asshole husband. Should he be one. I'm not naming names. And I'm not even going to mention the undoubtedly soul-destroying unzipping kind of duty-thing that has to have gone on in the Romney household to produce those five future flesh-eaters business leaders.
But it's also inaccurate because I think what she meant to say was that Ann Romney never had to raise children the way a lot of women do, whether they're stay-at-home-mothers or not, which is deciding whether to pay the water bill or the PG&E bill, or worrying how the hell she's going to pay for the field trip everyone's so excited about.
I am sure Ann Romney is a nice person, and I know she must break a sweat glow when she has to coordinate the help's days off. Or when she has to come up with new scary threats to make her grandchildren wear those matching clothes they wear for every photo shoot.
But really, here's the last word on the Missus Romney dust-up, from the incomparable Jenny Lawson.
So Malaysia Airlines is offering kid-free air travel. Apparently sensitive adults “...value their peace and quiet and [this way] can rest assured that they won't be disturbed by kids on long-haul flights.”
Disturbed by kids? What we need is an adult-free zone. I'd much rather fly with a bunch of children, even if they do occasionally cry, or kick the back of your seat. All you have to do is ask them, wearing that special smile, to please be quiet. You almost never even have to say, "or I will stuff your head into the seat pocket in front of you."
I bet anything you've never flown with kids who take up half your (center) seat with their 400-lb. girth. Or who spend two hours cackling over Adam Sandler's latest shenanigans. Or engage in a coast-to-coast monologue about their cousin Mary the dietician who loves living in Seattle, except for the rain, so she's thinking about moving down to the Orange County area,which everyone says is so pleasant, what with the beaches and the weather and all. Or who, the minute the electronics hold is lifted, pulls down a Dell and a stack of papers and officiously clacks away at a spreadsheet showing landfill usage over a four year period, glowering at you when, after your, okay whatever, third gin and tonic, you need to get up to go to the bathroom so he has to gather together his reams of important data about discarded appliances and let you climb over his Docker-clad knees. Or who make the flight attendant tell them exactly what kinds of nuts are in the nut medley that's included in the snack box they might purchase.
Anyway, I've observed that the only obnoxious kids on planes are the ones flying with adults.
This morning while walking to Bi-Rite to spend $62 on one bag of groceries, a Google Bus pulled up on 18th and Dolores. Suddenly hipsters emerged from doorways and stupors and began fluttering toward the big white bus like leaves wearing large glasses. It was a small squall and then I bought oranges.
If a woman in a blue mask, rubber gloves, and sharp instruments comes after you, run. Everyone in the office will say she’s a dental hygienist but she’s not. All you have to do is look at their phone headsets and comfortable shoes to know it’s a plot and they’re all in on it. This woman whose props include a photo of a chubby kid and pretty butterflies behind a plastic frame is really a sadistic monster. (Do you know how they mount those pretty butterflies? Right, they STAB them.) This “dental hygienist” is wearing that mask only to hide her evil leering grin.
She’s going to do something she calls Measuring Your Gum Line, but which is really stabbing you repeatedly in the gum with a small metal poker. When she is done with the outside of the upper teeth, contrary to the grateful prayer you are saying to the God you once again started believing in, about five minutes ago, she is not 50% done. She is only 25% done, because she’s going to do the same thing on the inside. And on the lower teeth, outside and inside.
Then she’s going to make horrific scraping noises right in the inside of your head, and because she’s holding your mouth open you can’t even ask her, “Why, for the love of God, why? What are you doing that is going to markedly improve my life?” Any gain in attractiveness due to clean teeth is more than offset by the wrinkles you’ve just cemented into your face from twisting it into grotesque expressions of pain and terror. She does it to every tooth, upper and lower, inside and outside, making each one creak and squeal and threaten to crack right in half.
After that she will try to choke you with poison mint powder, which she administers on the end of a whining drill-like instrument. She’ll only be finished after she invites Head Devil Incarnate to come over to poke some more and tell you you need a gum graft and it costs lots and lots of money.
On the bright side, you will be very happy when the "receptionist" tells you that you don’t owe anything, because you overpaid for the $950 crown you just got. And if you really want to feel better, when the "receptionist" tries to schedule an appointment for six months from now, pretend to enter it on your phone calendar, but instead simply push random buttons on the calculator app.
Not that we're normally all that religious or anything, but this college application shit is seriously fucking up our holidays. Hanukkah tonight consisted of Jackson practically lighting his sleeve on fire, spitting out the prayer so fast it sounded like an asthma attack and then going back to writing about how the Columbia core curriculum is going to save his life.
I bought a third of a Christmas tree, it's like a foot and a half tall, just because neither of us is really soused by the spirit of Christmas this year. Maybe it's the ubiquitious essay question "Why (insert name of school)" which can only make a sentient person say, "Why indeed? Get me a bourbon."
And yet he soldiers on. Happy holidays. To all fellow sufferers and those who have suffered: Baruchataadonaiwewishyouamerrychristmas.