January 28, 2005

Getting there is not half the fun

When the pilot refers to turbulence as "a bump in the road," I can't help asking: does this man know what type of vehicle he is commanding and what is its relationship between altitude and ground level?

That is before I notice that the window does not have a proper seal between it and the plane interior to which it is connected. Maintenance, anyone?

Let us not discuss the "flight attendents," the lack of food (dinner is not generally construed as a "turkey pastrami" sandwich), the get-your-own pillow/blanket/reading material affair, the lack of peanuts or pretzels with drink, or the general idea that on a six-hour flight, an airline might provide more in the way of entertainment than its own magazine and the retail opportunity known as SkyMall.

Let us simply name the airline Continental, and query its public relations office about the paucity of service and amenities. (If the front lines of P.R./customer relations are the flight attendents, they are doing a woefully poor job.) Or let us report the off-duty flight attendant (flight 1473, 1/27/05, in 14C) next to whom I was seated, who did not think a paying customer should have such high expectations as I did. Note for the record that the term "stewardess" has not been applied.

Neither has the name "customer attendant." This term calls attention to the fact that the person hired to run the drinks cart and check that the paying customers have seat backs and tray tables properly stowed for descent is not, in the least, concerned with my personal comfort. I don't ask that the attendent listen to my life story, but there are a few tasks generally designated to fall to not to the ticket holder but to the ticket collector.

The airline industry may call itself "crippled" and blame "9/11 and higher fuel costs," but don't try those excuses on someone who experienced that hideous, horrific day on her local news, wondering whether her cousin was alive. That person can also explain that in time-value-of-money terms (inflation-adjusted, for the uninitiated), fuel is considerably cheaper than it was 25 years ago, and she isn't biting the dead fish on offer. She wouldn't buy it if the fare were inflation-adjusted either.

Children acquire the ability to walk and talk in less time than has elapsed since that day. One wonders why the airplane industry has achieved nothing more than a heightened ability to whine in the same time frame.

January 26, 2005

A slice of my life

These questions came to me via e-mail. Here are the answers:

1. WHAT COLOR PANTS ARE YOU WEARING? Beige corduroy, white underwear.

2. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Bunny chomping on broccoli; the fan from the central heating.

3. SOUPS OR SALAD? Soup in fall and winter, salad in spring and summer.



6. WHAT IS THE WEATHER RIGHT NOW? 30F -- the warmest it has been in a week or so. Cloudy and windy; streets are slushy.



9. HOW ARE YOU TODAY? Better than the past few days; Monday was the anniversary of my dad's death -- not a nice day.

10. FAVORITE DRINK? at the moment, hot mulled cider. usually tea. [used to be freshly ground coffee (French roast/Columbian bean combo).]


12. HAIR COLOR? (Actual, not necessarily favorite) Brown.

13. EYE COLOR? (ditto) Brown.


15. SIBLINGS AND THEIR AGES. One brother, age 40.


18. FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR? My birthday.


20. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer, preferably in the Adirondacks or Berkshires -- somewhere comfortably temperate and rural.

21. RELATIONSHIPS OR ONE NIGHT STANDS? Relationships, though some are a series of one-night-stands w/the same person, if that makes sense.

22. CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? Dark chocolate.


24. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Depends on their mood.

25. LEAST LIKELY: Anyone I know who is a mother of young children.

26. LIVING ARRANGEMENTS? Good-sized one-bedroom apartment in high-rise building, occupied by Bunny and me.

27. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Joan Didion's Where I Was From; South Africa, a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide; and Nancy Lehman's Malaise.

28. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? the mouse, silly.


30. WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT? Had a migraine, blogged, watched TV, slept.

31. FAVORITE SMELLS? Wisteria, chocolate, freshly mown grass.


33. WHAT INSPIRES YOU? A phrase, a photo, a story, beauty.

34. BUTTERED, PLAIN, OR SALTED POPCORN? Buttered (real), no salt.

35. FAVORITE CAR? One that someone else is driving, preferably a Volvo or Mercedes or limo/town car.

36. FAVORITE FLOWER? Roses, orchids, lilacs.


38. CAN YOU JUGGLE? Metaphorically, yes. Physically, no.

39. WHAT WOULD YOU HATE TO BE TRAPPED IN A ROOM WITH? More like with whom....Most of my relatives, and/or ex-lovers/former friends with whom I'm no longer on speaking terms.

40. 7-UP OR SPRITE? Neither. Flat ginger ale when my stomach's bothering me, but that's the only soda.

41. COFFEE? Espresso after dinner.


43. DOGS OR CATS? Bunnies.

44. FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT? Right now? the beach on St. Bart's. or New Zealand. if we weren't facing another snowstorm, the Alps and environs. Would love to return to China, France, Italy, Scandinavia, the Galapagos Islands. Planning to go to Botswana & So. Africa.

January 25, 2005

My father, without a trace

Here’s an excerpt, from frog, via Nyarly, and paraphrased by me: How do things [people] disappear like that, leaving no trace of themselves? How can the way disappear, and your memory of the way back, and your understanding of where the things you love and need are in relation to yourself?

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of my father's death. He had a fatal heart attack in his sleep, and when my mother went upstairs that night to brush her teeth, she raced out of the bathroom to check on him because she had a strange feeling that everything was not quite what it should be.

She was right. For public consumption, my father had a fatal heart attack, at age 59. This should not, perhaps, have come as such a surprise, given that he had his first heart attack at age 54, and proceeded along with a diet consisting of such brunch winners as scrambled EggBeaters (tm) and fried sausages. But my dad had also had a drug- history problem, which I will not discuss here.

Suffice it to say, in the years between heart attack #1 and #2, it was easy to hide his heart problems in some black hole in my memory. For when you see a heart patient, he can look quite robust of health, and it is only within the arteries that the problem is visible. It's not like a cancer patient's outwardly wasting away. Or, maybe you just see what you want, what you can manage, despite the internal destruction.

By today's standard's he was far from a perfect father -- no one was teaching participatory male parenting to a generation born in 1931. (Then again, my attitude is, my dad never changed a diaper, why should I?) On the other hand, he saw his role as provider and protector, and from my vantage point, he did a good job. Sure, he made some promises he couldn't keep -- but that's human. That's the point where you recognize a parent as a person, imperfections and all. My mother and brother saw him differently; their relationships with him hinged on differences in attitude and acceptance, and the family as a whole wasn't always pretty.

Still, 14 years later, no one in my family can speak of my father, except in the "funny stories about things daddy did" category, and even then, the talk is infrequent. It is as if he disappeared without the proverbial trace.

For years I've been reminded of a few sentences from Laurie Colwin's first novel, Shine on Bright and Dangerous Object:

"It is awful to know that your catastrophe involves everyone else. It allows you no safe haven: there is no one available for comfort, since the people you most want are in mourning too." Perhaps my brother and mother cannot speak of him from grief, or that is the thought with which I attempt to console myself.

Meanwhile, a part of me died along with my father, and it is on occasions like this that I most remember, and most acutely miss, my Daddy.

January 20, 2005

Let them eat cake...

A few observations about inauguration day: you can throw a party for a hell of a lot less than $30 million, and use the rest to feed, house, and give health care to a lot of people who need it. Or raise the pay for soldiers who are long overdue to come home. If this is life during wartime, how much would a party cost during a peaceful interval? The Logic Lady(tm) now understands that if you need that much money to throw a party, obviously the biggest trade deficit in history looks reasonable by comparison.

(off of soapbox and back inside, where it's warm)

There's nothing like a negative wind-chill factor to freeze my brain. The weather is "blisteringly cold," according to the local weatherman. Frightening to realize that this is either the largest or second-largest TV market in the U.S., and no station can find a weather person who has any control over his/her use of the English language. It's one thing to fail to predict weather accurately; it's another thing entirely to use oxymorons with a smile.

As the temperature plummeted, so did my ability to think. What I have done best these past few days is sleep, and sleep some more, not completed unaided by the wide world of Western pharmaceuticals. Bunny has been properly fed and medicated, but I can't say the same for me.

Today, when I woke up, I was so groggy that I took my nighttime pills instead of my pick-me-up-and-focus morning complement. Result? I didn't figure out my error until 8:30 tonight, and so I still haven't gotten any work done. Note to self: try not to commit to more hours than you can actually manage. Other note to self: you'll feel better when the work is done and you can bill for it.

Yet, 20+ years out, I still have the collegiate mentality of wait-until-near-deadline to start any project that is for someone else's eyes. As a child and teenager, I was more concerned with doing schoolwork in advance of the deadline, and I think I used up all my do-it-early points on that little exercise.

Then, too, I've been pondering what one of my oldest friends, more overeducated than I (B.A., M.B.A, J.D. vs. B.A., one complete M.A., and one partial M.F.A.) said: "I have a great future behind me." I think that sums it up for me. Too old to be "precocious" or "promising," where is the adjective to describe me if I do successfully publish any of my fiction?

I don't know; my brain has returned to deep freeze status, and this is where words and I part company.

January 15, 2005

The off-White Rabbit does drugs

Bunny Boo-Bear, my six-pound, nine-year-old rabbit has had the sniffles for the past week. I could hear him from my desk, 30 feet from his cage. Since he is old, in rabbit-years, and I've never had a pet before, much less one without vocal chords who could otherwise convey his condition, I thought I should call the vet and inquire about his breathing problem: was it a cold, or a death rattle? Rabbits, popular cartoons not withstanding, are very fragile creatures, and this one isn't getting any younger.

Obviously, the answer was, we-need-to-see-him. Unlike in the human health care system, where I can wait for hours to be treated for a migraine, bunnies can be seen within half an hour of a telephone call. So I coaxed/placed Bunny in his carrier, with his distributing hay over a good portion of the living room rug as part of the process, grabbed a cab, and downtown we went.

To be a true native of my town, the final initiation ritual is to pay your first $200-plus visit to the vet. Now I am thoroughly indoctrinated. When we came home, I poured myself a nice, stiff drink.

On the bright side, I'm not the crazy cat lady; Bunny is deemed, in the pet/vet world, to be "exotic." Who knew?

On the downside, not only did Bunny require fluids and an injection but a bottle of white, allegedly grape-tasting medicine, to be administed by mouth, with a plastic syringe, twice a day, for 10 days. You haven't lived until you've tried to medicate Bunny. The only thing he willingly does with plastic is chew it. Once it contains a foreign substance like an antibiotic, he loses all interest.

Bunny Bear did get some medicine in his system today -- some I sprinkled on his pellets; the rest, I soaked in an apple, which he subsequently (hours later) ate. Note to self: do not leave vet's office in future without demonstration of any after-care needs.

January 12, 2005

The Logic Lady take a hiatus

The Logic Lady (tm) tries to make sense of the world, to have it flow in some orderly fashion that does not leave her shaking her head and swearing. (An 18-wheel truck driver speaks like an Englishwoman by comparison.)

Today, among her errors, she a) tried to add an HTML link to her blog without proper instuction, an area in which she has already demonstrated incompetence; b) placed yet another call to consolidate her IRA under one account number at the same company, the third such failed attempt in six months; could not retrieve an itemized bill from her long-distance provider, aka Tin Cup & String; and d) pondered attempting to make her bank correct a payment error on their part that could result in being billed for late payment by her insurance company.

She quit before d. Instead, she went for a massage, took her medication, vaguely ate dinner, fed the off-White Rabbit (three times), set the answering machine so she wouldn't have to answer calls, and crawled into bed, all tuckered out.

Among the calls I did field (shift back to first person noted) was one from my mother, safely recovered from surgery. (Mom's facial rejuvenation shook the Logic Lady's synaptic connections more than her mother's. Then again, the Logic Lady easily unravels. This is why she hates politicians, and most political acts, especially those designed to deprive her of more privacy and civil rights.)

Mom is counting the days until she can quit the antibiotics and start pouring the Dewars again. Now that is the mother I know and love.

The Logic Lady hopes tomorrow will be another, more restful, day.

January 06, 2005


An article referenced in today's Wall Street Journal from "HealthDayNews" (sic) is headlined "Passive Smoke Lowers Kids' Test Scores." The story admits that no one tested the parents' intelligence to see how strong a link there may be between natural intelligence and nurtured intelligence.

I would venture an educated guess that no one tested the researchers' either -- and that no editorial person was consulted in the naming of the publication. We former editors like spaces between capitalized words.

My parents smoked. Almost my entire extended family smoked. Those who didn't, should have. It might have made them semi-bearable people. They didn't drink either, the nonsmokers of 1960. Their loss. They missed my family's strongest genetic link: addictive tendencies.

As an infant, after dinner at my grandmother's house, I was frequently the center of attention as the centerpiece of a table filled with smokers. They thought I was cute and wanted to admire me.

In the nineteeth century, Queen Victoria publically considered anesthesic as a great advance for women during childbirth. In my mom's era, women were told that if they smoked, they would have an easier delivery. Turn that around to today's context, and it reads "smoking may lead to lower birth weight." An easier delivery, as I see it, is the logical extension of lower birth weight. You don't need to be a genius to make that connection.

Considering how much pain and suffering every child will eventually cause its parents, I say, why start earlier than you have to? From TV, women in childbirth look undermedicated, shriek in great pain, and, overall, make a great advertisement for women like me to get our tubes tied.

My birth weight, somewhere between five and six pounds, was probably as much as my very petite mother, even in her "twilight sleep" could take. So, she smoked, as did the rest of my family, and when we were children, no one bothered about fresh air in the car.

This must be why I only scored in the 99th percentile in my SATs.

Clearly I would have done better in school if no one around me had smoked. I might have gotten A-pluses instead of As. I might have been considered intellectually able to attend an even more prestigious school than my previously mentioned alma mater. Tant pis. I never wanted to go to Harvard. I wanted to go to Radcliffe, but when it was my turn, the admissions offices, along with everything related to the two colleges, had merged.

Damn, if only it hadn't been for all that smoking. That must be why I can't typeset or manage HTML commands. There, I've found it. All that nicotine just pushed the neurological transmitter responsible for typesetting right out of my brain. I think that transmitter was also connected to the good-driver-likes-to-drive hard-wired component of my brain, as that one seems to be in short supply.

Light a cigarette, drop an IQ point. I quit after 25+ years, but if only I could smoke indoors, I'd be shedding IQ points faster than Bunny-Boo-Bear sheds his winter coat. I might also be insulated from the world of politics, where I keep looking, in vain, for the Logic Lady (tm) to make an appearance.

(Note to antismokers and natural childbirth advocates: if you can't understand what is sarcastic and what is sardonic, please don't start in with me.)

January 05, 2005

Different faces, other places

Tomorrow my mom is going to have her face, shall we say, rejuvenated. This woman has only been in close contact with a physician four other times in her life: twice, to have babies (my brother was almost born in the revolving doors at Lenox Hill, but that is a tale for another time) and twice, for minor cosmetic procedures. This one, clocking in at 6+ hours of surgery time, is major.

It is also the first time my mother has seen a doctor outside the borders of our city almost since I was born. Then again, the local hospital best known for its cosmetic procedures here was last in the news when a prominent writer went in to have her eyes done, and didn't make it out alive. Perhaps they will take better care in Florida. She'll be staying with her best friend (who had her face done by the same doctor), and I'm sure her friend Sandy will take good care of her.

Sandy and I are both proponents of the better-living-through-chemisty school: we can discuss migraine meds and depression/anxiety meds long after my mom's eyes have glazed over, and not due to alcohol consumption. Pharmacists R Us, you might say.

Digression: This blog is obviously not dedicated to big issues of our time. Otherwise there would be far more about, say, the recent tsunami distaster, or, closer to my home and heart, the political and economic situation in Haiti, and why each needs funding.

No, I stick with smaller, more domestic meanderings: I realize my area of control is narrow, though my area of bewilderment is wide.

For example, why is my college classmate's second husband staying with her /a>after DNA tests have proved he's not the biological father of her child? He is over 60, and has been publically cuckholded. What does he see in her? She's a bright woman, but her actions bewilder me. How do you tell your kid, your Daddy isn't who you think he is? And when do you say so? Especially if your child's paternity has been bandied about for months in some of the better periodicals of our time.

As a woman I know in her early 50s who is coming off a second divorce, said: "I don't even know how to flirt." I'm with her. In a screwball comedy of the 1940s, my classmate would have come off looking like my perception of a ditzy broad -- but one whom you had better not cross. Looks like an angel, acts like Ghengis Kahn.

Mad, bad, and dangerous to know. Okay, that also applies to me and the people with whom I have involved myself romantically, so I do understand the attraction. Mad, bad, and dangerous to know is initially quite seductive.

The movie The Women springs to mind as an instructional video. Alas, I didn't study it when I was young enough for it to have made such an impression on me, and while I'm sure I manipulated my parents, the idea didn't really carry over into adulthood, or I would have become one of the inmates running the asylum.

From my feminist vantage point, the idea of a woman manipulating rich and powerful men seems antiquated, particularly since she is wealthy and powerful in her own right. However, I don't know this woman well, just enough to know that she has proven herself opportunistic.

Ironic, given why the first refugees (the Mayflower contingent) came here to escape the tyranny of their culture at the time, that my classmate will probably end up back across the pond. I can't imagine her degree in Victorian Studies will be useful, but I think she'll do just fine without applying herself academically. Certainly she has succeeded thus far, and whether she returns to her native L.A. or to my own town, neither has a shortage of rich and powerful men, nor immigrants willing to serve as nannies.

It is easier to reinvent oneself in a country like ours, with such a short attention span and a strong ability to ignore almost anything outside our borders, apart,perhaps, from where U.S. troops are deployed (there's a war on, remember?), than it would be in any former Commonwealth country -- Canada, South Africa, Australia, and other former U.K. possessions, where this scandal has made the front page on numerous occasions.

For her children's sake, I wish her luck. Failing that, I wish the children have access to excellent therapy. They are going to need it.

January 03, 2005

Back to work I go

It's that time I hate -- when I have to apply myself to the work that supports me. It's not that I'm bad at it; I actually enjoy doing the work, and I am good at what I do. It's just the process of getting started that seems to affect my body badly. I get panicky; the tremor in my hands returns, and overall, I'd rather be sleeping.

However, I did choose this -- to be an independent consultant -- rather than to sit in an office 40 hours a week and have someone else tell me what to do in an atmosphere less comfortable than an airport lounge and with less fresh air. Granted, fresh air is relative, given the city in which I live, but I detest those office buildings where the windows are sealed. I'm surprised only that more people don't break them and fly out.

Apropos of the new year, it seems it's time to vote for best blogs in various categories. So I've been checking out a lot of different people's blogs and have come to some conclusions: I would rather you paint me a picture with words than insert an actual photograph. If your child and/or pet and/or significant other does something you think is hilarious, give it 24 hours before you blog (new verb?) about it, maybe give it a test drive on the phone to a couple of friends. For example, I think the behavior of my off-White Rabbit is amusing, but I don't know that many people who would concur, so he doesn't get mentioned all that often.

I like to be entertained by my glimpses into other people's domestic lives as blogged about. I adore flea, Alice and Melissa, among others.

If I could be more entertaining, I would, but the ironies of life make it progressively more difficult. I don't cook, so you won't find recipes here; I don't have children, so I only comment on other people's children whom I see behaving in a manner that my mother would have killed me for doing in public.

I am the Prozac poster adult fighting an uphill battle against chronic major depression. And I'm not married/attached. Two relationships of 20+ years each ended completely last year, so now I have to go test the waters again. I do know what I'm not looking for; what I am looking for is less easy to define.

January 02, 2005

The calm after the storm

Finally, this season's trifecta has ended. Tomorrow marks the first work day of the year -- and my first work day in what feels like weeks. I have my to-do list all prepared. The question is, will I actually follow it?

The downside of self-employment is that one really has to employ oneself -- find a way (done) and persue it actively (iffy) -- to keep myself in food, health care, travel, shelter, clothing, books, shoes, and impulses purchases made on nights when I have insomnia and an overwhelming interest in e-bay's offerings.

Staying up nights can be a very expensive proposition for this insomniac. ("More drugs, more sedation, better meds," alice says.)

As a child, no one ever suggested I would need to earn, dare I say, money, in the world. In my house, no one suffered for lack of material possessions or the prospect of changes in venue. I was raised in a pre-feminist household, where girls were brought up to be Ladies, while someone else dealt with the substance of, say, the bills or any upkeep beyond the personal.

Yes, I was brought up in a fictional world, whose underlying facts were illusory. In that world, a honeymoon was the trip you took to Europe after you got married. I couldn't imagine where else one might go. In that world, the closest a Lady came to mentioning money was to say "charge it and send it to the house." Real life did come as a rather rude surprise.

Winter vacations, we went to Haiti; summers, Lake Placid. Both places are too fraught with memories for me to return there.

Yet what is not fraught with memory? TCP thinks he's never had so much press as in my blog, and that maybe I'll make him a folk hero of sorts. A very strange sort, I would venture, given how I've presented his foibles.

This time of year I am nostalgic for what could have been, and I remember what never happened.