Tuesday, December 28, 2004


It really is! I have always loved the rain ever since I was a little kid. I love it even more today because I don't have to go to work - it's not the being at work that I mind, it's the driving there in the downpour with all the other people who really don't know how to drive in the rain, which isn't that hard. You just have to slooooooow down. And hanging up the phone is a good idea too.

It's really only the driving that I dislike. I don't mind walking. I don't mind getting wet. That is unless I have to go out in public in which case I do care what my hair looks like. The whole glued to the skull and sticking up wildly in other spots look isn't a good one for me. Yesterday I was watching some movie where the characters had on clear rain ponchos. With hoods! And I found myself wondering where I could get one of those.

When I was a little kid and it rained we sometimes got what was called, "rainy day session," which meant that we got out of school an hour earlier. I loved this because it gave me the opportunity to walk home. In the rain with my shoes off. In the gutters! The water was warm and there I could catch pollywogs which were getting washed down from somewhere. If the gutters had been holding water before the rain then there would be a layer of slime that I really enjoyed squooshing between my toes. Gross, I know, but I was a really tactile kid and it felt really good, plus I could slide and pretend that I was ice skating.

I could really only do this when we had rainy day session because otherwise, when it was raining, my mom would drive the few blocks to the school and wait out front for me. She did not like me taking my shoes off and walking in the gutters while getting all wet. She told me that I could get worms! That they would get into my body through the bottom of my feet. I was very skeptical. I might've been 7, but I was nobody's fool.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the diagram on this page showing the feet as a key site of entry into the body of various kinds of parasites and worms! Still somewhat skeptical I spoke to my doctor about whether or not this was indeed a true fact. I was like, "that's not really true is it? It's something my mom made up. Right?" WRONG! It is true although in the western world parasites usually enter the body through the mouth via uncooked food. However he was nice enough to tell me that walking in the gutter after rainfall when all the trash was being washed out from whereever it had been festering would definitely have been a good way to get worms through my feet.

Do you know that my mom is like always right?

Monday, December 27, 2004


It is horrifying to look at the pictures coming out of Thailand and India and Jakharta. It is terrifying to read the accounts of what happened when the water rose up suddenly and washed thousands of people away. I can only imagine. I have no idea. This tragedy is made more remote by the distance and that it happened in a place that is warm. The image of a Swedish woman sitting on the floor in her polynesian flowered sundress, looking at the floor as she waits to hear news of her husband and children, seems to be from another planet.

It is gray and blustery and rainy here in Los Angeles and I am feeling exhausted from driving over 400 miles over the holiday to spend time with family. As I drove I was wishing that I had been able to just go away to someplace warm where I could lay on a beach and do nothing but feel the sun on my face.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


So last night I celebrated the solstice, but because I was way behind in doings for Christmas my celebration pretty much involved lighting every candle in the house and puttering around wrapping and baking, etc. I have lots and lots of candles and was amazed to realize that when I light them all there is no need for electricity or heat.

I love celebrating solstice and usually, historically I get together with friends and do all kinds of fun rituals that involve fire. My most favorite is to write down on individual pieces of paper all of the things that I am willing to release and let go of, and all of the things that I am willing to receive and make room for, and then I burn them. And we drink and chant and sing and dance and that's all fun, but I really really really like burning stuff.

Which is why there are some scorch marks on the very expensive Aubusson carpet because fire can get away from you really easily. And after that it's a good idea to incorporate the other elements of water and earth in the solstice celebration. So as to put out any accidental wild fires.

I talked to my friend Leisa last night because we started celebrating solstice at her house years ago - she has a fireplace, much safer for burning wads of paper, so I always think of her on solstice. She had been at a celebration with her kids where they made peanut butter pine cones rolled in birdseed and then the kids decorated the yellow, like the sun cupcakes that she had brought with candy corn and other bright sweet things. There was going to be storytime, but after the sugar from the cupcakes started rushing there was general kiddie mayhem so they just all ate and drank and were festive.

Leisa and I have shared our winter and summer solstice celebrations with friends who have no idea what they're in for. Like the time we took Jacqueline down to the beach for a summer solstice bonfire. Leisa's house is about 2 blocks from the beach so we just walked down the street with our bottle of wine and our strips of releasing/welcoming papers, a bunch of dried sage and lots of matches.

The whole concept of even thinking about what the things in your life you'd like to release and the things you'd like to welcome in is a weird one for most people. It presumes that you actively participate in how your life shapes up and requires a conscious assessment of what is working and what isn't. Lots of people would just rather not. So it's always fun to go through the exercise with newbies. The biggest question is, "Do I have to say what I'm writing out loud?" And really the choice is up to each individual. Personally I like to yell it out because there's something about speaking the words which makes them real and powerful. Of course, I'm a drama queen who likes to get drunk and burn shit.

So we're down and at the beach and it's pretty windy which is cool because we had all the elements: Wind (AIR), Ocean (WATER), Sand (EARTH), and now all we had to do was make a fire. But the blowing of the wind was making that difficult. I don't know if it was because Jacqueline was with us and we wanted to jazz up the ritual or what, but we decided to make a magic circle and sit inside of it, so I dragged the wine bottle in the sand and made a great big trench to designate our magice circle. Then we dug a hole so that our little fire wouldn't get blown out by the wind. Next we opened the bottle of wine, which was actually our second or third because we started drinking when we were making our slips of paper. As we huddled over the hole in the ground, inside our magic circle, sipping our wine as the sun went down we lit match after match and finally got our sage bundles blazing. Well, actually more like smoldering because that's what sage bundles do, but when we started burning our papers we had flame.

And a huge plume of smoke, which drew the attention of a police officer on an ATV.

We were literally the only people on the beach so it's not like he had to look hard to find the perpetrators. We were so into what we were doing that he almost drove into the magic circle before we heard him. Like I said it was windy. As the whine of the engine alerted us to the fact that the calvary was coming Leisa and I yelled, "Don't enter the magic circle!" which caused him to cut the engine and say, "What?"

"We're in a magic circle and you can't come in."
"Um, okay, but you can't have a fire on the beach, it's illegal. Uh, can I ask what you're doing in your magic circle?"
He was a young and flirty cop, and although we were buzzed we also realized how ridiculous that sounded, so we got the giggles.
"We're celebrating the summer solstice by burning all the things we want to get rid of and all the things we're welcoming in. You got anything like that you want to burn? If you do, you can come in the circle and join us."
"Okay, no I don't think so."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, hey my birthday is tomorrow, I thought that was the solstice."
He's totally flirty not even mentioning the open container and public drunkeness which was really good for us because that would've been three ticketable offences from a cop who's not cool.

We sang happy birthday to him and he sat there and watched as we finished burning our paper thoughts, made sure we put out the fire and then took off with a "Happy Solstice." We staggered home, laughing so hard we were crying.

What things in your life are you ready to let go of? What are you ready to welcome in? Tis the season to let it burn!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


This morning at 4:42 a.m. marked the beginning of the winter solstice. In the northern hemisphere this marks the shortest day of the year due to the fact that the Sun is at the furthest south point in relation to the turning of the Earth and it's corresponding rotation. It's the astronomical activity that marks our seasons. Historically celebrated by people in various manner of wing dings, all of which usually involve fire and light. Christ means light and so when the religious right celebrate the birth of Christ with an all out spend fest at Walmart and sing songs in their churches about the birth of the Son, what they're really doing is re-enacting ancient Pagan rituals wherein people gathered to feast with family and friends and they exchanged gifts and sang Pagan carols celebrating the cycles of nature and exulting in the return of the Sun.


Alternate plans...

This morning my phone rang as I was heading out the door to work:

Him (friend who ran away to NYC): Hey darlin'.
Me: Hey! I'm running really late, can I call you back in a bit?
Him: I won't keep you. I'm just calling to wish you a Merry Christmas and tell you I love you, because I won't be in town for the holidays.
Me: Where are you going?
Him: I'm about to get on a plane for Tokyo. I bought the ticket last night.
Me: Tokyo! That's an interesting choice why are you going to Tokyo!?
Him: Bart Holiday is over there so I've got a free place to stay at the Hyatt where they filmed Lost in Translation.
Me: Nice, well that'll be new and different.
Him: Guess who else'll be there?
Me: I have no idea. Who?
Him: Brad B. and Andy W.
loooooong pause
Me: No sex with children. And please send me updates with key words to jog your memory because you know you're going to be too drunk to remember it all. Don't get arrested and call me when you get back to let me know you made it home alive.
Him (laughing): I will.
Me: I love you, have a Merry Christmas. And take lots of condoms.

Monday, December 20, 2004


I'm at a loss since my weekend was spent largely in bed. Alone. Feeling like crap. I got very little done in the way of Christmas preperation, though I'm not doing all that much since I resist obligatory behavior of any kind and going to the mall to purchase gifts on the fly just to give something to someone feels like a waste of money and time and even of the gesture of giving a gift.

I don't like receiving those kinds of gifts either. You know the kind I'm talking about. The perfume and body lotion set festively arrayed in holiday wrap and set out on those round tables in the cosmetic department of Bloomingdales for people to pick up on their way to the housewares department to buy someone a waffle iron that they will never use.

Gosh I am so bah, humbug about all of it.

I guess it's because I don't have kids. When I was a little kid I LOVED Christmas and not because of the gifts, although waking up to find a ton of packages under the tree was a pretty great rush, right up there with the 8th birthday spent at Disneyland. No, I loved Christmas because I would dress up in a Christmas outfit and see my friends and family and eat great food - the love of the good food is still with me - and we'd sing Christmas Carols. Oh yes we would because I come from a musical family.

My parents used to spend every Tuesday night at Notables practice. This was singing group that they participated in through most of the 70s. My dad is a tenor and my mom is an alto. So anyway we were a lot like the Von Trapps only with a lot less kids. On car trips we used to sing all kinds of songs, Domenica-Nica-Nica and Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot, with my parents throwing down harmony over the piping little voices of my brother and me. So at Christmas we would gather at the fireplace and play Sorry and UNO and sing along to the awesome Christmas album that they gave away at the gas station when you filled your tank. It featured Andy Williams singing White Christmas and Steve and Edie singing Sleigh Ride. The album cover was red and featured little thumbnail photos of all the talent.

The trimming of the tree was also momentous because we almost always made some kind of ornament to add to the evergrowing collection of homemade ornaments. One year it was Ukranian easter eggs. Another year it was ornaments made from flour and water and baked in the over. When we were younger it was stars and candy canes made from construction paper and glued to paperclips. We spent hours stringing popcorn and cranberries which were soon reduced to strings of cranberries, at least at the bottom of the tree, because the dog would nibble off the pieces of popcorn. The top of the tree was a beautiful orange birs with gold ribbons streaming from it's wings and tail. My mom always made apple crisp to be eaten when the tree trimming was completed so the smell of spicy apples and cinnamon filled the air along with Steve and Edie and Andy.

I love those memories and I'd like to think that if I had kids I would be doing all of those things with them, creating Christmas rituals, but the reality is that I'm much older than my mom was when she did all that. In fact, by the time my mother was my age now my brother and I were both out of the house and she was decorating the tree alone and starting to realize that her marriage was a lonely place.

I have continued to do the tree ritual and I love the way it smells and I love to look at the ornaments year after year, each with their own story. But this year I'm tired and I can't be bothered to clean up the mess. Plus, I have this weird sort of sadness about watching a tree die in my living room.

I have looked online for that album, my friend Patrick and his family listened to the same one when he was a kid, so I know it's not something that I've made up. I can't find it though. I wonder if I did and I could listen to it would I be more in the mood?

Probably not.

Friday, December 17, 2004


I live next to a Catholic school. Every morning at 7:30 a.m., if I'm still asleep, as I was this morning because I am so very tired lately, the screams and shrieks of the children playing invade my subconscious and drag me to wakefulness.

Or sometimes, when I've had a rough night of not really sleeping and I'm sleeping the sleep of the purely exhausted, as I was this morning, it's not until the teacher, or principal, or whatever she is, starts booming through the PA system, "Good Morning CES!" She does it just the way that Robin Williams said, "Gooooooood Morning Vietnam," in the movie

Then she hands the microphone off to whatever student gets to lead the entire school, which is lined up on the playground outside my bedroom window, in the Lord's Prayer and then some other poor student leads them, in a quavering off tone deaf little voice, in the singing of God Bless America. Since this school goes through middle school, sometimes the singer is a young man who's in the middle of "the change," and while I squirm for him I also feel deep affection for the kid. After all of that is out of the way the announcements begin. Because I am so used to the zippy welcome of teacher-lady and the droning of the students as they pray and sing, this morning I didn't really begin to wake up until I heard the lady leader say, her voice starting low and getting higher till she was hollering with excitement, "today is the day you've all been waiting for, the last day of school until next year! And can you believe it a week from today it will be CHRISTMAS EVE!"

As the children all screamed with joy and excitement the reality of that statement sunk in and I sat up, now fully awake and screamed in terror!

I've got so much to do!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Last night I watched along with the rest of the obsessed as Eva became America's Next Top Model. I admit that I was really pulling for Norelle - the 19 year old moppet from Newport Beach, CA who started the show with pigtails and braces. She got rid of the braces, but not the pigtails and by the time she got to Tokyo it was pretty clear that if she did win she was going to starve if she had to leave the United States to work. I loved her commentary on her way to Japan where she pondered whether people in Tokyo were called Tokinese. Heh.

But Norelle got booted after making it to the top five, leaving Ann, Amanda, Eva and Yaya. Since Ann hasn't been able to actually inhabit her body in a photograph giving credence to the belief some people hold that a camera will steal your soul, I knew it was going to come down to Amanda, Eva and Yaya. Of those three I have ever only like Eva - she's so sassy and she embraces her inner bitch in a way that is rare in a 19 year old. She alludes to having been hurt and I actually wanted to know her back story - what is up with her dad? And her brother? Where's her mom?

I felt bad for her when Ann was such a twat and it made me hate Yaya even more, something I didn't believe was possible when she said in last night's episode, "If there was something we could do to make Eva feel more wanted I don't think we'd do it." Well, Yaya since Eva is America's next top model I guess she was more wanted than you. Yaya brings out the mean girl in me, a vicious and not very nice girl who wants to hurt Yaya on purpose. Yaya was a walking oxymoron wearing her Respeito t-shirt. Bitch.

Amanda just bugged, when she broke out with her comment about how she was thinking about her love of fluffy bunnies and France so that she could serve up a big plate of smile, I almost threw up. And then I wondered, not for the first time, if Amanda might be kind of mentally ill. Her whole life seems to be this kind of fiction starring Amanda, and she had to be pretty deluded to think that she could START a modeling career at twenty five. I know it sounded harsh when the Japanese designer shook her head at Amanda's age and said, "too ord," but she wasn't lying.

The fact is that most of these girls are too old to be just starting. Tyra herself was in high school when she started her career and at 32 she's done. Giselle Bundchen, also known as the "bod," will be retiring next year. She will be twenty four. The reality about this reality show is that none of these girls really have what it takes, but they gave us great tv. And I know my butt was parked in front of the television set every Wednesday night.

I don't have Tivo.

Even so, since I got addicted to the show mid-season of the first cycle, America's Next Top Model is literally the only show that I never miss. Never. It's great freaking entertainment. This article on Salon.com kind of addresses why more and more of people like me, sane intelligent adults, who don't really like or watch reality television, are getting hooked on Top Model. It could be the whole mob mentality similar to that of those who clamor for Scott Peterson's execution. Perhaps we want to watch the pretty girls humiliated and destroyed? Perhaps we enjoy being a fly on the wall as they stab each other in the back?

I have no idea.

It's certainly not because I think or even care about seeing America's Next Top Model be crowned. The reality of this reality show is that Adrienne and Yoanna, the winners of season one and two have never been seen or heard from again. I doubt that Eva will fare any better, although I like her better than the first two, so I hope she finds some kind of success.

What I'm really waiting for is the "Whatever happened to..." show where we find out what Robin the bible thumping, plus size psycho and Elyce the beanpole med student who came in second in season one; and Mercedes, the beautiful, sweet girl with Lupus and Shandi the slutty beanpole with the criminal record who was ignored by her family in season two, are doing. Oh and Camille , from season two who seemingly had no sense of connection with reality and though her signature drum majorette walk was going to make her America's Next Top Model. I wonder what she's doing. She was crazy.

I don't care what happens to Yaya - she's going to continue to be an arrogant, humorless, pain in the ass - all her live long days.

Strangely I'm feeling the same kind of sad I feel when the Superbowl is over knowing there's going to a long wait until the next season of America's Next Top Model.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Smoking has been frowned upon in Southern California for what seems like forever. We haven't been allowed to smoke in restaurants and bars for so long that when I am in other states where you can smoke in those places I feel like I'm being bad if I do so. My instinct is to head outside to the "smoking area," which used to be a patio, but lately seems more likely to be located in the dark, badly lit alley. I'm not a regular smoker, but I have a craving that kicks in after my second martini or glass of wine. Otherwise I will smoke when I am driving in the car with Christina because there's something fun about smoking with your friend while cruising around with the music up loud.

I started smoking when I was about 15. I don't really remember when I quit, but I haven't bought cigarettes in a long time. So long that the last time I got buzzed at dinner and went to the liquor store to buy a pack I was shocked that they cost over $5 a pack. The last time I was buying them and carrying them around I paid about $3! I have always enjoyed the dramatic effect of a cigarette held in my hand while gesticulating wildly in drunken conversation. I also love the camaraderie of drinking and smoking and yakking with friends.

I can totally relate to the poem that Billy Collins wrote called "The Best Cigarette":

There are many that I miss
having sent my last one out a car window
sparking along the road one night, years ago.

The heralded one, of course:
after sex, the two glowing tips
now the lights of a single ship;
at the end of a long dinner
with more wine to come
and a smoke ring coasting into the chandelier;
or on a white beach,
holding one with fingers still wet from a swim.

That's only the first part but I think he describes, perfectly, my "best" cigarettes. I do love the after dinner cigarette, or the after swimming cigarette, stretched out on the beach, cool, salty skin, warmed by the sun. Or lolling by the pool with a cold drink and a cigarette, reading a magazine on a lounge chair. I've never understood the after sex cigarette though, I can't stand the smell of smoke in the bedroom, it's so foul I can't sleep. I dated a guy once who was so addicted that he couldn't make it through the night without waking up and smoking. And the smoke would wake me up and then I'd have to open the window. Even if it was 35 degrees outside and I wouldn't let him near me because of the tobacco wreak. But it was better than the heroin he used to do - relationships are all about compromise.

And cigarettes are horribly addicting as evidenced by the fact that he could quit heroin, but he couldn't quit cigarettes.

And cigarettes, as we've been told time and time again, will kill us. Or, at least, some of us. My great grandpa Loren smoked from the time he was about ten years old and subsisted on a diet of Baby Ruth's and Butterfinger candy bars. He also drank brown liquor, I'm not sure if it was Scotch or Bourbon, but he imbibed regularly. I loved to visit him up in Concord because he literally had huge bags of candy that my brother and I were free to help ourselves to. Grandpa Loren lived to be 98 or so and when I read this article it made me think of him because he smoked right up till his last day and really enjoyed it.

His best cigarette was probably the last one he smoked right before he died.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I guess I wasn't the only one who found Scott Peterson's smarmy smirk annoying. Apparently the jury, and the crowd that cheered when they heard about the thumb's down, did too. I have no idea if the guy actually killed his wife, although I think he probably did because he was pretty much leading a second life that would've been made very difficult by the presence of a wife and child. But you know, there is no hard evidence. There's just all that circumstantial stuff, the fact that the case was pretty much tried in the media, and the fact that, we've all seen lots and lots of pictures of that smirk on his face.

And it's an annyoing smirk.

It makes me think that he's arrogant, and narcissistic and a liar. Whether he committed murder? I don't know. I wasn't in the courtroom and I haven't really followed the case, but I do know that the death of Laci Peterson and her son was an event so sad and devastating that people want to see someone punished. I understand that. I do.

But what if he didn't do it?

What if he's just an arrogant asshole who was cheating on his wife? The death penalty in this case, well in every case, feels like vigilante justice. The cheering crowd outside the courtroom, the sobs of relief inside the courtroom from her family, like somehow, killing someone who you think killed your loved one is going to make you feel better? And the fact that Scott Peterson is pretty much, on the face of it, an unlikable guy, a guy it's easy to hate even, makes the bloodlusty cries even more righteous.

I guess it's in our history, perhaps even in our genetic code, death as "justice" and spectator sport. The Romans in the arena would watch people be torn to pieces by lions, or by warriors on the whim of Ceasar's thumb pointing up or down. In England people were hung at the gallows and in France their heads were removed via guillotine before massive crowds screaming for vengeance or just enjoying the spectacle. When the wild west was being settled cattle poachers, thieves and robbers were likely to find themselves strung up on the nearest tree with the "posse" who caught'em gathered round to watch the death throes of the body as it dangled and jerked.

When people are executed now in the states that carry on this barbaric practice there are still witnesses although death is administered by lethal injection, a process which mimics that which use to put animals "to sleep." Not much action there, not like you'd get from the electric chair, or the gas chamber, or a firing squad - Gary Gilmore's preferred method of being launched from the mortal coil. But there are usually mobs outside the prison where the executions are carried out, some protesting with their candlelight vigils and others celebrating the death of the "animal" criminal.

It's really quite immoral, and as I said barbaric. The moral thing to do once someone's guilt has been agreed upon, because let's face it, very often people are found guilty sans any evidence to prove them so, so once the jury and the media have agreed that the person is guilty then I think the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, is to let the victim's loved ones pull the trigger, or push the button, or whatever - but they should be the ones to carry out the act that ends the accused's life.

That would truly be an eye for an eye as it says in the bible - our guide to morality.

Personally I couldn't do it. Not even if I saw someone shoot and kill someone I loved right in front of my face. In that moment motivated by fear and anger, yes I could defend myself or strike out in revenge. But in a cool and calculated manner, the way that Scott supposedly plotted and carried out Laci's murder? No, I couldn't do that, and I don't think that most people could, so I have a problem with the state doing it for me. I am not in agreement with this particular form of punishment. There's just too much room for error.

Granted someone who cannot live within the agreed social behaviors of our society cannot be allowed to run free and continue wreaking havoc, but death is letting them off easy. What about bringing back the penal colony, like the one featured in that movie Papillon? What about finding an island somewhere in the middle of shark infested waters and just dropping off the thieves and murderers and rapists about 50 feet from shore with a couple bags of seeds in a baggie? If they survive the swim to the island then they can go about setting up house with all the others who couldn't live within the social contract that guides human decency. There would be no guards, no structure, no system to protect them from each other. The only surveillance would be from a boat that circles the island about 100 yards off to make sure that no one builds a raft and escapes like Steve McQeen did.

It would be Lord of the Flies meets Extreme Survivor. I'm sure that if some network executive could figure out a way to mount cameras and recording equipment for remote video recording, they could turn it into a super successful reality show, because you know people would tune in! They could edit very special episodes where the most loathsome criminal gets his comeupance when a mob of other dastardly criminals descend upon him and not only kill him, but cook him and eat him too! And for the Fear Factor fans I'm sure there would be lots of bugs and snakes and creepy crawlers for the lawless to contend with. It's the kind of TV just made for those who love reality programming. I bet it would kick American Idol's pansy ass.

And going someplace like that would probably wipe that smirk off Scott Peterson's face.

Monday, December 13, 2004


Yesterday I went with Alex, her daughters Julia, 9, and Victoria, 11, and one of Tory's friends, to the California Science Center to see Body Worlds, a traveling exhibit of human bodies that have been plasticized for display. Real bodies. Real fascinating.

The numerous, mostly male bodies, have been donated by people who wanted their earthly remains to serve science in some way. Plastination is a process that was developed by a German anatomist, Dr. Gunther von Hagens which preserves the tissues and muscles and organs and allows the corporeal body to be reconstructed, or in some cases, sliced and diced for display.

I now I sound very cavalier, but the bodies do not have faces or any other characteristics that would cause you to feel that you were looking at Joe Blow from the corner bar lounging around with his guts hanging out, although I do believe they have his liver. The bodies were just that, and there is no more striking evidence, for me anyway, that it is our souls that animate us and give us our unique qualities. Because under the skin we're all pretty much the same.

The exhibit starts on the first floor and focuses mostly on muscle and bone and how they work in concert to make us move. These bodies also showed how all our organs fit together inside our bodies, protected by the bone and muscle, and it is amazing to me that anyone can survive a gunshot wound because there's stuff everywhere that's important.

In addition to the bodies there are sagittal slices, like a deli sliced cold cut, that show the relationship of bones and organs. It's like one shot of a cat scan only it's a slice of the actual bone and tissue. Most of those slices were all in glass cases that you weren't supposed to lean on.

And if you do lean on the cases, they remind you that you're not supposed to.

You're also not supposed to touch any of the bodies even though you totally could, but you would get in trouble.

I just know.

Up on the third floor the bodies exhibit all the different systems. I was most blown away by the circulatory system. They had the circulatory system of a man and woman standing, with a child on the man's shoulders, and it was fascinating to see that all the errogenous zones are just masses of blood vessels, like so many as to make the areas appear solid. I have to say that it's amazing that John Wayne Bobbit didn't bleed to death when Lorena cut his penis off.

And speaking of penises it was truly amazing to see all the variety in size. The girls were giggling and a little horrified because all of the bodies that featured their reproductive organs, again, almost exclusively male, (what's up with that?) also featured the testicles dangling from their respective epididymis, epididymi? at a level about equal with the penis. The conversation went something like this:
"I didn't know that guys have three thingies."
"Neither did I, that's gross."
"I know and did you see all that hair?"

Alex and I assured them that guys only have one thingy, and that the hair is normal and all adults have it. Eleven is such a confusing age. But Body World will definitely give you the opportunity to address any questions with life size models. The guy with "all the hair" was a sagitally sliced man who appeared to be walking and trailing 3" slices of himself, but it was so cool to see exactly how and where everything goes. He had tattoos on his arms and one of them was of a skeleton smoking - heh.

My favorite part was all the diseased organs: the liver with Cirrhosis, the brain that had a tumor, the brain that had a hemmorage, the brain with Alzheimers, the kidney cysts, the heart with arterial disease, the enlarged heart, the cancerous uterus, the stomach ulcer, the smoker's lungs. Oh yes, all the better to visualize catastrophic health events. It was a hypochondriacal paradise. Every possible malady that had a physical manifestation was represented for my viewing (and obsessing) pleasure.

The girls' favorite part of the exhibit was the embryos and fetuses. They showed what an emryo looks like at the beginning, middle and end of the 6th week of development. The amount of growth accomplished in just that week is astonishing. The embryos are all in glass tube-like displays and when they go into fetal development from 12 weeks on they are all shown in vitro. Fetuses from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks are shown in glass cases and the fetus at 34 weeks, or 8 1/2 months is shown in the body of it's mother. For some reason this exhibit made me sad - maybe because this mother never got to hold her child, maybe because it is too easy to imagine all the plans she probably made for the future with her child, and then there was no future. I couldn't help but think that this was how old Laci Peterson's baby was when he and his mama died and I don't keep track of that kind of stuff - it just came into my head.

When you exit the exhibit hall there are bodies doing all kinds of things like extreme skateboarding, swimming, ballet dancing, gymnastics, even a guy sitting on a horse whose body is also plasticized. The human body is just amazing from the womb to the tomb - the whole development of our bodies and all that they can do.

Body World might be shocking to some people (frankly I'm surprised that the nuts in the religious right aren't out there protesting) but it's an amazing exhibit that I cannot recommend highly enough. In fact, I'll go back, but without squirrely little girls, who are hungry for lunch. I think I could spend 3 hours there easy, even having already seen it. The exhibit leaves in January for Chicago where it will be through 2005.


Friday, December 10, 2004


This morning I read this article and I felt inspired.

I agree with Wangari Maathai that humanity poses a threat to the planet, especially the global corporate sprawl that pursues economic gain with no apparent regard for the damage done to our world. I often ask myself if these people who run these corporations have children, do they not think of them? And their children and their children's children? How is it that they don't get that they may be building wealth, but at the cost of a healthy and beautiful place to live.

I particularly wonder that about this president. He has two daughters, very young women who will most likely have children, yet when he talks about going into Alaskan wilderness to drill for oil, and he puts people in positions to make decisions that will impact the environment negatively for years out in the future, does he not think about his grandchildren?

I'd like to believe that he doesn't think about the "big picture" because if he did and he continued to make the choices he makes which serve big business in the near future and screws everyone in the long run, well he'd pretty much be a heartless shit.

In my opinion.

But the other thing that occurred to me when I read this article was the sentence that said that it is women who are working with Maathai to heal the earth. Perhaps it is more the repression, if not complete obliteration, of the Goddess based beliefs - those beliefs held by the Indiginous peoples of the planet who are also slowly being obliterated - and the continuing movement toward the patriarchal, male dominated religions that insist that there is only one God (who is a "He"), an argument that men have been killing each other and dying for in an unwinnable war for centuries, perhaps that is more a threat to our world.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Was talking to Leisa this a.m. and also to her son Ryan who is almost 2 and a half. He's very chatty, very verbal and he can hold up his end of the conversation on the phone. He's apparently also really observant because he is delivering the message that Christmas is indeed here.

Sunday at the Hannakuh Happening at the JCC, he was having a Latke with his dad and he said, "Dad, you know he's coming to town."
"What Ryan?"
"He's coming to town!"
"Who is?"

From the back seat of the car on the way home from grandma's house, his 6-year old sister was snoring away in the back seat and his parents thought he was out too until they heard his little voice pipe up with, "Happy Holidays!"

Leisa wondered if he's read that on a sign, but being that he's two and hasn't quite mastered the whole reading thing I think most likely he picked it up from the parade last weekend. His Christmas filter hasn't kicked on yet and he's just taking it all in. Much like my neice Cady who enjoys the festive feeling of the holidays and doesn't get real caught up in the more consumer aspect. Last year when Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas she thought about it and replied, "Nothing, I've got enough stuff."


Last week this guy that I know who is divorced from his crazy ex-wife got the scare of his life. The Crazy Ex took their 9 year old daughter to the doctor because her finger hurt. While there, the hypochondriachal ex-mother-in-law who'd come along told the doctor that the little girl was slurring her words and stumbling a lot and what did he think might be causing that? Now this little girl is a "tomboy," or one of those girls that you just know is going to grow up to appreciate the writings of Sappho, she likes to dress like a boy, and she has never been what you'd call graceful. It may be because her father is obsessively involved with her brother's baseball team and that she sees that being a boy is a great way to get attention from her dad. Her parents have never taught her manners, or set boundaries or limits on her behavior or what comes out of her mouth so she's always sounded like she was slurring to me. It's not anything that I would attribute to a medical condition. But this pediatrician, without benefit of a test result, or a thorough review of her records, and without any real knowledge of who this kid is, told the crazy ex and the hypochondriacal ex ML that he thought that the little girl might have a neuroblastoma.

Well, they took that ball and ran down the field with it, e.g. spent all of last weekend on the internet looking up information about this fairly rare form of cancer that is usually diagnosed in children quite early. It's a scary cancer that shows up as a tumor somewhere in the area of the spine or the heart, and when it's diagnosed in an older child or adult the survival rate is low. When I heard about this on Friday night my initial reaction was how irresponsible that doctor was to say such a thing. I'm a strong proponent of the "second opinion" and doctors like this guy are a big reason why.

The plan of action was to hospitalize this little girl on Monday for tests and if they were clear then she could go home. If they weren't then she would be immediately checked into St. Jude's. St. Jude's? That's the hospital for kids who are pretty much hopeless cases! The one that Danny Thomas and now Marlo Thomas do those shows for to raise money, that I cry when I watch because the stories are so sad. Why not go to a hospital that specializes in Neuroblastoma? Like Children's hospital?

Anyway - after a CT scan, multiple bloodtests, Ultrasound and a freaking Spinal Tap, you know what she has?

Do you?

Strep throat!

That infection that can be diagnosed with a cotton swab!!!


Speaking of kids who are gay, this morning I was watching MTV or VH1 while I was on the stairclimber doing my 30 minutes in hell and there was this show on called "My Coolest Years" so I flipped to it and was incredibly confused when everyone was talking about being gay in school. Turns out that there was an "in parentheses" part of that title which was (in the closet). And the stories were how it pretty much sucked. And one of the people who I thought was a boy because of the downy black moustache "he" was sporting, turned out to a be one of the girls in the band Le Tigre, a band I like quite a bit, although obviously I've never seen them because I pictured them to be like a Latina version of The Donnas. Anyway, it reminded me of the kids I went to school with who we all just knew were gay. Like Tony, a boy I knew from kindergarten all the way through high school. He was very small and very cute and I remember really clearly playing house with him on the jungle gym in kindergarten, he was really into decorating our jungle gym home with leaves and such. We pretended we were married because even though I sort of knew that he wasn't like the rest of the boys he was really really cute and he had an excellent sense of style. And when you have a very strong will and a shallow desire to be with the cutest guy, you can have a gay boyfriend. I really don't know why I was so shocked when, many years later, I discovered that Gary liked boys.

Then there was Vicky who was in brownies and girl scouts with me. Her mom was co-leader of the girl scout troop with my mom for a couple years. She was the one who would bring her various styrofoaom heads with the wiglets and hairpieces attached, along with a whole suitcase that was filled just with make up, on girl scout camp outs. She set them up in the tent. My mom used to bitch about the fact that by the time she had got herself together we were already washing our breakfast dishes in our ditty bags. Anyway, Vicky was a big girl, built like a linebacker, and she dressed like a boy. Her mom was divorced and man hungry and I always wondered if Vicky was trying to be the "man" in the family because she was such a dude. She always seemed separate from the rest of us even though we were a pretty inclusive group. It wasn't that she didn't want to belong it's more like she just didn't fit.

And that's what these people were saying on this show - that they never felt like they fit. And I think about this guy I know, who's little girl doesn't fit, and how he's so clueless about what's up with her that he allowed her to be put through a spinal tap to determine that she had strep throat.

And I think it's a REALLY good thing that homosexuality is no longer classified as a disease.
(Regardless of what the religious right thinks) because God knows what they'll do to her when she's trying to come out. Since she's got no communication skills I have the feeling it's going to be quite a performance. Hopefully she'll remember that spinal tap and just say what's really on her mind.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Last night I left work early and went to see the Motorcycle Diaries, a film about a road trip that the man who would become Che Guevara took, made by Walter Salles, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. Notwithstanding the fact that I unconditionally love Walter Salles (High Art, Central Station) and that Gael Garcia Bernal is extemely easy to look at, transfixing actually, this was a good story and so, a very good movie, in that it made me curious to know more about who Ernesto (Che) Guevara really was.

So now I'll read the book that the movie was adapted from, usually it's the other way around. I have a feeling that I will probably like the Che in the movie better than the guy who led the Cuban revolution. If you think about revolutions and the people who've led them, they're usually so passionate and single minded that they're not that much fun. It's like as long as there's one person suffering they feel guilty having a good time - but that's a discussion for another time.

I love everything South American. I am drawn to it as though recognizing a home, or someplace that feels so comfortable, there is a sense of belonging. This film follows the route that 23 year old Ernesto and his 29 year old friend Alberto Granado took on a roadtrip through South America beginning in January 1952. They left from Argentina and traveled through Chile, Peru, Brazil, Columbia and Venezuela - and the movie follows them through most of that trip. They began their trip on the "mighty one" a huge Norton motorcyle that "pees oil." It was amazing to see those countries featured so beautifully in this film and even more amazing were the people.

Their faces were amazing, the mixture of Spanish and Indigenous bone structures, the ancient Incan faces of the people in Peru. Many of the people were obviously culled from the local population and their performances were remarkable. It was easy to see how it could affect a young man to meet these people and to see how they live(d). One of the most moving parts of the movie was when Ernesto and Alberto arrive in San Pablo to volunteer at the hospital for people with Leprosy. The nuns who ran the hospital had a strict policy that rubber gloves were to be worn at all times to avoid physical contact with the patients, even though they were no longer contagious because they were receiving treatment. Ernesto and Alberto refused to do so defying the terrifying Mother Superior, but creating a bond with the people that was very touching.

I've always been fascinated with Leprosy or Hansen's disease ever since I heard about Molokai being a "Leper colony," a term that seemed so biblical and ancient and in reference to a disease that sounded horrific and frightening to a child. My impression was that parts of your body and fact rotted and fell off if you got this horrible scourge and then you were sent to live on an isolated island, or in an isolated village where nuns like Mother Theresa took care of you until you died. In reality most people have a natural immunity and people who have the disease lose limbs and suffer facial abnormality due to nerve damage and infection. Just in case you wanted to know. At any rate the people in the film who played the patients really had leprosy - that wasn't CGI or make up, it was the real deal, and they were marvelous.

By the end of journey Ernesto is so moved by the plight of the people that he has met that he goes on to become Che the revolutionary. A man I am now curious to know more about. Alberto Granado stayed in Venezuela but eventually he went to meet up with his old friend in Cuba where he lives still today. I love that Walter Salles ended the film with black and white film images of the many people that were featured throughout the film and the last shot was a close up of Alberto as he is today, an 82 year old man who lived the story that we had just seen.

So that's one movie off my list of must sees - the rest of them are:

The House of Flying Daggers
A Very Long Engagement
The Incredibles
Finding Neverland
Oceans 12
Meet the Fockers (only because I want to see all these actors together)
Lovesong for Bobby Long
Million Dollar Baby
Lemony Snicket
The Life Aquatic
In Good Company
Bad Education
The Aviator

And these are movies that I would PAY to see. That happens almost never.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


The fabulous Kristin Tracy's hilarious post recounting her pubic tales put me in mind of something Roseanne mentioned a while ago. Roseanne is a costume designer so she's up on the latest trends in fashion and what she said was something about the fact that since fashion was revisiting the 70s did that mean that the full pubic bushes that women once sported, most memorably on the pages of "Our Bodies, Ourselves," would be making a return as well?

I think the obsession with pubic hair, or the stripping of pubic hair is singularly American. When traveling in Europe I am always very aware of all the hair curling from women's armpits and flowing from the edges of their bathing suits, cascading down the thighs like furry bermuda shorts. Hair that the women upon whom it grows seem to be completely unaware of, but which I find somewhat shocking. It is only in America that women remove so much of their pubic hair as to approximate the appearance of their pre-adolescent selves, with the exception of a mohawk on the mons, or a landing strip, as I've heard it referred to by a certain group of guys who frequent an all naked strip club fairly regularly. The kind of strip club I call the gyno-show.

The act of getting rid of offensive pubes is almost always fraught with pain and I have tried almost everything. Shaving is just a bad call. You end up with razor rash and ingrown hairs and a total effect of cystic acne at the bikini line. Not a good look on the beach.

Electrolysis is very effective but involves hours and hours and hours of insertion of an electrode into each hair follicle where a surge of electricity is delivered to kill the root. Imagine being electrocuted a teeny bit at a time. Then multiply what you think that pain would feel like by a thousand.

Using chemicals burns the skin, as Kristin can attest to, and in my case, not only was there burning but there was an unfortunate outcome. I was at the river, camping, and realized that things were not so neat "down there" so I applied the Nair and went to wait in line at the showers wearing only my robe. As I stood in line I non-chalantly crossed my legs while leaning against the wall. About 20 minutes later as I stood in the shower not only was my bikini line bare but so was almost everything else down there. And this was back in the day when not even strippers were sporting the landing strip.

Next I tried waxing. At home. Because I couldn't imagine some total stranger down there between my legs. Not being one to read directions when all of the steps seem so obvious, ex: heat wax, slap on wax, apply fabric strip and rip, I completely missed the bit about applying powder to the area first to prevent the wax from adhering to the skin and ripping that off too. Consequently the first couple of strips rendered me almost unconscious from pain, to the point where I decided to just leave the last strip on and wait till the hair grew out to a length that would allow me to clip the strip from the very tender skin down there. The areas that I had succeeded in "waxing" looked like three large hickeys. Difficult to explain that.

Now I go to Ruth's Skin Care where women with Israeli accents quickly and efficiently wax my bikini line in about 5 minutes. I don't go Brazilian or Baldy, because frankly that just hurts too much. It's all about neatness and symmetry, nothing fancy, no creative or artsy shapes.

When I think about it most of the men in my life have sported full retrobush themselves and would probably pass out if they attempted to wax their area "down there," and I would never ask a man to do that, but a little manscaping wouldn't be a bad thing.

Monday, December 06, 2004


On Saturday we had a suprise party for my dear and darling friend Christina. We being Team Tiara. It was a surprise - and it actually worked! I had been barely speaking to Christina as I am the biggest blow it on the planet. Not because I can't keep a secret, but because she and I talk all the time and she knows everything about me and what I'm doing and it would just be natural for me to say something like, "yeah, well I was at the market shopping for supplies to make tea sandwiches and I realized that I don't know what a shallot actually is," because although I've heard about shallots as an ingredient, I've never actually used one.

And she would've said, "why are you making tea sandwiches?" And I would've gone all mumbly and stupid and she would've known something was up, especially since the story we told her was that Virginia and I were going to take her to tea at the Bel Air Hotel, which is a lovely tea, but ours was so much better. Mostly because we didn't drink tea, we drank very good champagne. Oh yes, I had a token cup of tea, but many more than several glasses of champagne.

So I showed up at her house on Saturday afternoon and she drove me (back) to Virginia's to "pick her up" and when we got there the cell phone didn't work so I could give them the heads up, and also ostensibly let Virginia know to come down, so I coerced Christina into climbing the 65+ steps up to V's front door. It should be known that she is that kind of a good friend who said, "well I was going to sit down here and have a cigarette and sip my cocktail, but sure." Many others, myself included would have balked at being asked to go for a hike up a vertical hill.

As we ascended Christina was venting about her day and so the fully decorated table laid out with tea accoutrements and an abundance of food did not register. Even when we got in the door and she was standing there, facing the dining room, it still didn't register. It wasn't until women wearing tiaras and clutching beautiful hand painted goblets of champagne rushed around the corner yelling "Surprise!" and "Happy Birthday!" that it finally occurred to her that she WAS going to a tea party but it was happening right now.

Her response - "You suck! You guys totally suck!"

Christina doesn't like not being in control - hee! Nothing like a suprise party to make you feel totally out of control. My roommate threw one for me about 10 years ago and I wasn't in my body the entire time. When you really are surprised it's amazing how thrown you can get.

The food was amazing, if I do say so myself. I love food that is eaten with fingers and tea sandwiches definitely fit that bill. I made LOTS and different kinds too, like smoked turkey and arugala, smoked salmon with wasabi cream cheese, cucumber mint, egg salad on buttermilk bread, etc. Cheryl, who owns a fabulous catering business, Baked It Myself, made beautiful sweets, brownies, lemon bars, truffles, etc. V made yummy scones that we ate fresh out of the oven. Diana brought a birthday cake from Sweet Lady Janes that had whipped creme frosting and wild berries inside and out. Jenny brought a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot Reserve Grand Dame Rose that was very special and delicious and rare!

So we ate and drank and caught up on each others lives and passed a delightful afternoon wearing our tiaras and a champagne buzz and celebrating our friend Christina.

Friday, December 03, 2004


It's all relative.

You know how you hear those stories about people showing up at the emergency room with all kinds of things stuck up their butt? Okay, maybe you don't, but when I worked for the orthopaedist our office was right next to the hospital so we heard all the stories from our friends who worked ER when we passed through on our way to the cafeteria.

There were people who had arrived with a beer bottle (ouch!), a lightbulb (can you even imagine if it broke?), various vegetables and my personal favorite, salt AND pepper shakers stuck up their respective asses. Once you'd lost the salt shaker why in the world would you send the pepper in after it? I saw these things with my very own eyes - on the x-rays! Yes, they x-ray the abdomen to determine whether or not SURGERY would be required.

And as if all that trauma is not enough, those x-rays are kept around and shown to others for their amusement and awe. Oh yes they are. Just a little FYI in case you get any ideas.

I wish I could say that these people were all from the senior center and were demented which is what led them to such an unhappy, ahem, end, but no! They were just regular adults, like anyone you might know or work with, who adventured into the land of assplay without a clear undertanding of how quickly things can go wrong in that arena. The demented seniors definitely shoved things into themselves, but it was usually more like something a little kid would do, you know a quarter up the nose, that kind of stuff. Although one old guy did stick a pencil up his penis. OH MY GOD! I can't even write that without cringing.

And it's funny how we human beings have a habit of sticking things in our orifices. Where they get stuck.

Those birth control sponges must have gotten stuck a lot because my friend Pat informed me that there was an 800 number you could call where they'd talk you through getting it unstuck.

She found out about that number the hard way.

My particular orifice story did not result from an act of intention on my part, although I must admit that as a child I would swallow pretty much everything I put in my mouth which necessitated that my mom be on alert for it to reappear in the toilet the in the near future. No, I ended up on the exam table with people standing around snickering because of a sneeze. This didn't happen all that long ago which makes me one of those people who you might know or work with, slinking into the doctors office for some help with an embarassing situation.

I sneezed while eating Doritos and since I had only put the chip into my mouth mere seconds before the explosion I had not yet had the chance to chew it into tiny little pieces. And when I sneezed a huge piece of Dorito with jagged edges was blown into my left sinus cavity where I could feel it banging around. No amount of nose blowing could get it out. My efforts to try to inhale it back into my throat were for naught, although my friends and family were quite amused by the noises and faces I made as I attempted to get that thing out of there for 12 hours.

Finally I couldn't stand it any longer and went to the doctor where I had to explain over and over and over again how I came to have a Nacho Cheese Dorito bouncing around in my head. They were like, "What? You're kidding!" No. I wasn't. Because I had waited so long and spent obsessive hours blowing and snorting and hawking there had been swelling in the area. Swelling in the area is never good. In the future when I get something stuck up my nose I'm going directly to the doctor because swelling just makes resolution that much more difficult.

It took THREE different sizes of nasal canula, and lots of dramatic gagging, to dislodge and push the offending chip down into my throat, where I choked on it briefly before SWALLOWING it!

While this is no where near as bad as showing up at the emergency room with a Mr. Microphone up your butt necessitating x-rays that people will stand around as gasp at, it was still pretty bad. It is why I would rather feel like an idiot for immediately spitting whatever is in my mouth across the room the minute I feel a sneeze coming on, than ever again feel like an idiot sitting in the doctor's office with food lodged in my head.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


No Ritalin today, though the next time I take it I will probably take only half a capsule. I was talking to a friend last night, a grown up, well an adult sized man, who takes it, and has for most of his life. He only takes 5mg.! I took 30mg. Yes, it was time released, but still. That would explain my laser beam focus. I had almost no interaction with the public so I have no idea if the volume on my intensity was jarringly high. That's probably a good thing.

I was thinking about going through public school in the "gifted" program, such as it was in the 70s, and I found myself wondering if the identification and separation of that gifted group was a very good idea. They culled us out in the 5th grade and in my school there were 4 classrooms of regular kids and one gifted class. We all played together on the same playground, but there was definitely resentment and exclusion of those labeled as gifted. It was very similar to the exclusion experienced by the kids who occupied a bungalow and were labeled as "special." Or in the parlance of the day "F troop" - they were the kids with developmental and emotional disorders that caused them to be too disruptive to sit in a regular class.

In hindsight one wonders if perhaps some of those kids simply didn't test all that well due to learning disorders or biochemical disorders or what have you. In any case the whole labeling thing created a social hierarchy with the special kids at the bottom and the gifted kids one level above them and the "normal" kids pretty much in charge.

The resentment of the normal group toward the gifted group is pretty understandable since we got special field trips and the most interesting teachers. Usually those teachers that were young and excited to be working with kids who could read and write at high school level. We got to go off the regular curriculum and into the world of literature and world studies.

But at the time I didn't really care about that. What I noticed was that the cutest boys were "normal" - the boys in the gifted class were the stereotypical geeks, nerds and dorks. I knew I was doomed until I got to Junior High which was a drag because I was really interested in cute boys.

Probably the worst manifestation of our horrible differentness occurred during the annual event that is 6th grade camp. This was probably conceived of as an introduction to separation and individuation on our way to becoming young adults. Every elementary school in the district would send it's sixth graders to either Camp Hi Hill or Camp O-ongo for one week. It was a time of bonding and playing in the snow and taking hikes with camp counselors who were teachers in training.

The year I was in sixth grade, at that time still part of elementary school, now it is the first year of middle school, the four normal classes all went to Camp Hi Hill. Our gifted class of geeks, dorks and nerds had to stay behind because there wasn't enough room for us. Instead we went to Camp O-ongo with another school the week after the normal kids returned.

There are no words for how much this sucked! Not only were we separated and forced to attend class in a bungalow - did I mention that? They didn't have enough room for us in the regular classrooms, so we got a bungalow. Just like the tards in F Troop. We also had to go to a completely different camp with kids we did not know. Who did not know us. Great way to make some memories. And traumatize a group of 12 years olds who are already in the early stages of the floating psychoses that is adolescence.

And to make matters worse I forgot to pack underwear, and this is before I had begun wearing panties so small that I developed a take it or leave it attitude. I was completely mortified and every night I had to wash out the the granny panties I put on the morning I left and hope that they would dry in the frigid subzero temperature of our cabin. They usually weren't completely dry because that was a lot of cotton. Adding insult to injury, my bunkmate, who also happened to be my best friend got a horrible case of homesickness and had to go sleep up in the main cabin with the counselors, so she could call her mom everynight. I had done my homesickness phase in the fifth grade so I felt her pain, but I was totally bummed that she had to be such a fucking crybaby during the hell week that was camp with strange kids.

There was one redeeming moment in the whole experience and it was pretty awesome. I think it's still one of my favorite near death memories. We were innertubing down a huge hill which basically meant that we would sit on the overblown innertubes with out butts in the hole, arms and legs akimbo, and go flying down the snow covered hill, occasionally catching air. The counselors lined up at the bottom of the hill to slow us down, bring us to a stop and help us off our tubes. And to make sure that we didn't go crashing into the giant tree trunk just beyond. I mean giant as in about 4 feet in diameter. As in would kill you instantly like Sonny Bono should you make contact at a high speed while launching through the air on an innertube.

As I went flying down the mountain, laughing hysterically like you do when you're scared and exhilerated at the same time, I could see all the counselors lined up and secretly prayed that Tony, the incredibly cute Latino guy would be the one to catch me. Oh my God I had the kind of crush on him that rendered me speechless when in his presence. I would secretly watch him at meal time, barely able to breathe much less eat. I would give the evil eye to the young women counselors who flirted with him. I wasn't the only one that noticed that he was hot! The innertube began to turn in circles as I came off a mogul type bump of snow and I picked up speed when I landed so that the first counselor missed me as I sped past him near the bottom of the hill and headed directly toward the tree trunk. The next also missed me although he did hang onto my mitten. I had stopped laughing because they were all yelling and running after me, and not in a good way. But the next thing I knew, I heard the crunch of boots in the snow running very close to me and TONY threw himself on top of me and dug his toes in the snow, braking our progress until we came to rest against the tree trunk. He dropped his head near mine and KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK! asking me if I was okay as everyone cheered. I couldn't even talk I was so overwhelmed with all the love in my 12 year old heart. The rest of the week sped by and now when Tony saw me he'd say hi, howya doin? And I would just die - we practically had a relationship! I cried on the bus home, clutching my memory log that he had signed "Stay off the mountain unless I'm there to catch you - Peace sign - Tony." I knew I'd never see him again.

Back at school our awareness that we had been separated from the herd caused us to act out in various ways that probably made that year, the last year that our teacher, Mr. Kasner ever taught. The poor guy was only about 26 years old. He rode a motorcycle to school and clomped around in bad polyester doubleknit slacks and motorcycle boots which the cuffs of his pants rode up over so that sometimes the white of his calf would show when he sat down. He had HUGE flakes of dandruff. You could tell that he wanted to be cool, and he wanted us to think he was cool, but he wasn't and we picked on him the way that everyone else picked on us.

In an effort to teach us to be self starters and pratitioners of personal responsibility he would give us assignments that had due dates and provide us with free library time and classroom time to complete the work. Most of us didn't bother to do the work because the book with the answers was also available so that we could check to see if we had done our work correctly. We just copied the correct answers onto our papers and spent most of our days screwing around. When someone acted out to the point that Mr. Kasner noticed he would tell them to "take a walk," after that person had been gone about 10 minutes he would send someone else out to retrieve them. When those two people had been gone for another 10 minutes he would send someone else and this would continue until there were only about 10 kids left in class wondering why he was such a dumbass and hoping that they would be picked next. One time he came out himself to get us - I was inevitably one of the first sent to retrieve the walker - and we were playing duck, duck, goose. He started screaming at us and I think he cried.

In retrospect what I know is that Mr. Kasner was really a writer - not a teacher. My favorite part of every day was the hour before class let out when he would read to us from the manuscript he had written. It was a story about three kids who found a magical world in hole in a large tree. It was really a great book and the hours he spent reading it to us were probably the only time that he had our full and rapt attention. And our respect.

He really had a gift for storytelling and in all of my time in the "gifted" program, it was the sharing of that book, I don't know if he ever got it published, that most infused me with possibilities.

Oh, and when Tony the cute camp counselor jumped on top of me.

P.S. - All those geeky, dorky, nerdy boys from the gifted class? They ended up being totally hot and going to Harvard and Yale and becoming successful doctors and such. Of course, this wasn't evident until I saw pictures from a 25 year reunion. I guess it's better not to peak in sixth grade.