Friday, February 25, 2005

Do you?

I grew up in peacetime, not wartime. I believed America won every war it ever fought. I remember my mom talking about boys she knew who got sent to Vietnam. I remember thinking we won the Vietnam War, until 10th grade, when Mr. Deaner stood in front of my U.S. History class, flecks of spittle gathering in the corners of his mouth, repeating: "Nixon declared that we would 'Withdraw with Honor.' We withdrew with honor. We withdrew with honor." He was wrong.

And we lost.

In that same time period, I remember listening to Billy Joel's song, "We'll All Go Down Together" and getting weepy, thinking that if the situation in Bosnia got any worse, that Congress would have to bring back the draft, and maybe our male friends, Craig and Jason and Nick, (you rarely saw them individually in those days, so you said their names all in one breath) might have to go fight. I was wrong.

There's no oil in Bosnia.

I didn't even know what a Gold Star Mom was until I saw the movie "The Majestic" in 2003. That's not even a movie I would ordinarily go out of my way to see. I was in a Red Roof Inn in Pooling, GE with a freaked out dog and a furious cat with two more long days of driving ahead of me. (You'll watch whatever's on, you know?)

For the past 10 days, my co-worker Joe and I have collaborated on half a dozen stories about a 20-year-old soldier who was shot in Iraq two weeks ago. Last night, the hearse from Dover Air Force Base paused in front of his family's home for a moment, the gold star banner hanging in the window. Then the procession turned the corner and ended its journey at a funeral parlor, whose parking lot borders the baseball diamond where he played in Little League. Family and friends gathered on the sidewalk as an honor guard carried the flag-draped coffin inside. Nearby, a father kneeled on the sidewalk next to his two sons, ages 8 and 4, and gently asked them, "Do you understand what just happened?"

Neither do I.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Okay, then.

My car is back, and she is bee-yoo-tiful!

So long, big stupid red truck. $80 in gas in four days. Sheesh.

I am plowing through Passive Aggressive Bride's Album like a champ. Three glue sticks already gone... I can not *wait* to finish this project once and for all. I have to do two small parent albums as well, which shouldn't be too bad.

I had a pretty amazing week at work, which has helped me gain a lot of perspective. I spent some time with people who were unbelievably, unbearably sad upon learning of their son/brother/friend/student's death in Iraq. They were incredibly kind, considering they were dealing with the press on the worst day of their lives. An hour later I shot a championship basketball game between two neighboring, rival schools- Lovable Group of Misfits vs. Rich Preppy Kids- and LGM High School won! RAH! It was easily the best day of those kids' year. That's all on the same shift, you know?

One of the things I like best about my work, (and maybe this is arrogant, hope not) is that it comes really easily to me. That said, when I was growing up, a lot of the typical kid things were really difficult for me. I'm notoriously clumsy, so sports weren't really my thing. (You know that credit card commercial where the dad is trying to help his son find a sport and the kid keeps getting plowed? Yeah, like that.) Dance classes weren't my favorite experience either; I still struggle with right and left. I'll never forget the look on Gwen's face, standing at a beat-up splintered xylophone as she played chords, first hitting all the right notes and then purposefully hitting the wrong ones, as she tried to teach me what "right" sounded like. Tone deaf, much?Then there was the Great Table-Hopping Crisis of Girl Scout Camp 1987. I found my niche; don't get wrong.

But I like my job. I like being good at it. I like striving to be better and better, because I get results when I do. I like that I can be myself, bringing extra copies of the tribute article to a grieving family and giving them the phone numbers of people who also lost loved ones in Iraq (strangers who called the paper asking if we could help them reach this particular family), and just being with them for a few minutes, even if they don't want to be photographed that day.

Anyway. Meeting Molly, Gwen and hefk in... less than 8 hours! Yikes! To bed!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I am J@net Reno.

When J@net Reno was running for governor of Florida, she drove around the state in a big, red pick-up truck. And it wasn't just a pick-up truck the way Ronald Mark Karen was a pick-up truck. It was gi-normous.

QUICK DIGRESSION: Last fall, I had a choice between being run off the road or hitting an orange pylon. (Is that really how you spell it?) I chose the pylon, which put a purely cosmetic dent in the side of my beloved car, the one I negotiated and test drove and set up a payment plan for all by My Big Girl Self. Now that I'm working through the process of banging a big dent out of, well, everything (and I'm no longer saving up to go to Cyprus or for other Big Surprises for Stephen), I'm getting the dent banged out of my car.

So I have a rental car. No, check that. I have a rental Vehicle (it's so big, I think it deserves a capital V). It was the only one the dealership had left, so for the next three days, I'm driving a huge, red, four-door, off-road pickup truck. I actually had to reach *down* for my order from the drive-thru window. The dealership gave me the Vehicle with absolutely no fuel whatsoever in the tank. I was okay with that; I was in a hurry. They said I can bring it back empty. Cool. Whatever.

So, yeah, the cheap gas costs $2.03 here, and V was running on fumes, but I never, ever imagined how much it would cost to fill the gas tank. When the cost reached $50, I cut it off. It wasn't finished filling. It was just a little more than three-quarters full. Oh. My. God. Oh, oh, and I drove it to work, and then to JFK airport for an assignment, and then back to the town where I live, and it's already below half a tank. I didn't drive it more than 60 miles. The implications, in light of our country's oil dependence and the instability of the Middle East, boggle the mind.

Bottom line? We're all going to DIE.


Do my titles work?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

testy testy... ooh, white!
There was brunch with champagne, hoity toity chocolates, and roses, and a walk in the park to see an art installation, and mint hot chocolate in a French bistro, sushi and Thai food and more champagne and Project Runway. Ah, mustn't forget the Project Runway marathon.... Love the lovely girls. Thanks, guys. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

"I walk around in February sayin' 'How about some cookies?'"

Do-si-dos and Tag-Alongs, meet Mr. Glass of Milk. :)

Friday, February 11, 2005

I'm doing the best I can. I am "hanging in there," "putting one foot in front the other," and "living one day at a time."

I have been the grateful recipient of so much love. I've been overwhelmed by the visits, the flowers, the chocolate, the lotions and bath products, the invitations, the phone calls, the emails, the music, the love in general. Just before he closed the door (METAPHOR! METAPHOR!) he said: "I know you'll be fine. You have the largest network of friends and people who love you than anyone else I know."

I deleted his numbers from caller ID, put everything in a box (I made him watch me do a lot of that. Heh.), said goodbye to his family, took him off my Buddy List to keep me from obsessing. I'm writing in a Rebound Journal, which promises to help me "bounce back with style!"

I'm following all the advice. I cleaned my apartment, reclaimed my bed, and did the funny "Dear John" letter Mad Libs game. Twice. I bought a new journal. I had brunch with a new friend. I took a road trip. I saw a best friend. I reconnected with an old girlfriend and stayed up all night talking.

I'm wearing makeup every. damn. day. I bought new "come fuck me" boots and stomp-y galoshes. I have engaged in a bit of retail therapy, and I now have enough cute new outfits for Amanda's upcoming shower 1, shower 2, and rehearsal dinner. (If I get desperate and need to justify more purchases, I can, in theory, I can buy a bachelorette party outfit and a Post-Wedding Mothers' Day Brunch outfit.)

I bought comfort foods and ate them. I bought childhood foods and ate them while reading a Judy Blume book. I am now onto buying "healthy, nourishing" foods, but when the cashier at Stop n Shop pointed out that one of the apples was bruised and asked if I'd like to select another, I had to tell her that my new boots were killing my feet and the thought of walking back to the produce department was terrifying. I told her I'd cut out the mushy bit and put peanut butter over the missing part of the apple.

I bought new "single girl" skivvies. I bought new houseplants, repotted the old ones and planted seeds in little cups for an herb garden. I gathered up all the cracked pottery/dishes in my cupboards (supposedly bad to have around, according to the principles of feng shui). I got out the box of dishes/vases/ceramic bowls my pets have broken (Fred went through a one-week phase of kicking dishes off counters). After warning my neighbors and making sure the 11-year-old downstairs wasn't studying for a test or trying to memorize all the state capitals, I spent an hour breaking all the cracked, "broken in two" dishes in my bathtub. Then I broke the shards into small, "mosaic-able" pieces with a hammer. I highly recommend doing this, by the way.

I have re-committed myself to my job. I got a raise and a good performance review. Yesterday, (wait for it, wait for it) I photographed M@ya @ngelou speaking and reading poetry at a nearby college. I met her after, and I told her I had a broken heart, and "You are just what I needed." She squeezed my hands and said: "Thank you! Oh, God bless you, darlin.'"

But you know what? I lied. I said it, because I wanted it to be true. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to be moved an comforted and inspired. But you know what?


The first person I want to talk to after meeting a phenomenal woman and getting a raise? Him.

I am a fucking cliche.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Did I mention the inmate who was calling me 10 times a day? Oh, I didn't? Well, I think he's given up now. That's a good thing, right?


Friday, February 04, 2005

The sun has risen five times and set four times, and I find myself having to imagine my life completely differently.

Exercise in Imaginary Life #1:

Could I go back to London after Jo moves there in October? Could I? Could I put together my October Client Bride's album and be Kelly's Maid of Honor and then go back before the end of the Carling Cup Premiership Finals, when Finsbury Park is teeming with Arsenal fans and vendors at the end of November when it's dark at 3 p.m.?

Could I work at Jessop's, selling film and ink jet cartridges and camera bags and talking to people about megapixels? Could I assist my old professor by giving portfolio critiques, staying late at the lab to talk about color correction, sharing advice about internships and trying explain how you find an apartment with no lease across the country for a 3-month stay?

Could I buy a Vespa and driving goggles to tool around Camdentown? Could I take the train to Scotland for my host sister's wedding? Would Jo let me bring Bella and Fred, and would Fred become even more deranged by the flight and the quarantine period? Could I pay Jo rent to hold her over between acting jobs? Could I go back to eating English cucumbers and HobNobs and cranberry juice?

Could Luka still cut my hair at the salon in Shorts Gardens? Could I eat at the long, blond noodle bar tables in Wagamama with Luke when he's in town assisting portrait photographers, holding light meters next to Eric Clapton's left eye? Could I run a doggy day-care in a storefront across from King's Cross? Could I be that sunny Yank who looks after Tiberius and makes sure he has his de-worming pill while his mummy clacks off to the Square Mile to wheel and deal?

Could I shoot spot news British-news style, where the phrase "if it bleeds, it leads" is a commandment? Could I do the picture story Doc always wanted us to tackle, about the de-Londonization of London, because the red phone boxes are disappearing and the conductors on the double-decker buses are being replaced by coin slots, unless those things have completely disappeared in the last five years...? Could I do a picture story about producing an edition of the Big Issue, following the homeless writers back to the underground footpath under Marble Arch where they sleep and off to the Food and Wine where they sell the paper for a pound a piece to the middle classes, the hurried, the students, the guilty?

Could Marble Arch just be a stop on the Central line, or would I always believe that some 20-year-old version of Stephen and his roommates are living up there, repeating the same actions limited to the things they did in 1999, like an old VHS tape from an early season of Friends?

Could I go down to Speaker's Corner on Sundays to rant and rave with the other nutjobs? Could I stand out there next to the Prophets of Doom and shout "How could you DO this?" over and over again while the tourists and the bemused assume I'm addressing Tony Blair for his involvement in Iraq? Well, could I?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

SPOILER WARNING: I am posting this entry exactly as it appeared when I first wrote it 72 hours ago. This does not end well.

Ah. Well. You made it back. Home, sweet leafygreen.blogspot, home. How've you been this past year? With apologies to Scott for usurping his favorite catch-up question, what have you learned? :) Stick around, I'm going to take a shot it myself in a few paragraphs.

If you've been hanging around, of course, then you're probably one of the 10 people I speak to regularly. I know there a few lurkers and old friends with whom this blog affords me the opportunity to listen more than I talk when I do finally see them. In theory.

Of course, if you were particularly moved by my letter to my 13-year-old self or want to read 2004 all over again, please do visit

So it's after 5 a.m. and I'm watching Meet Joe Black on WAM! It's not great, as movies go. I know the ending (because Melissa saw it in 1998 and told me all about it, which I of course remember.) But mostly I wonder about Jennifer Aniston. I suppose her break-up with Brad Pitt isn't surprising as Hollywood endings go, but I can't help but wonder if she isn't wearing sweatpants somewhere, and eating Ben and Jerry's, and watching WAM! at 5 a.m. and thinking, "There's the man I married. Pretending to be the Grim Reaper in a suit. Now he's... getting naked. Acting like he's having sex with a woman who's not me- Need. More. Ice cream. DO WE HAVE ANY MORE ICE CREAM?" Or maybe she's all: "I can't believe I fell for someone who would make a movie like Meet Joe Black. What was I THINKING? I should go out drinking with Gwyneth Paltrow."

So what about that meltdown of mine, eh? Yeah. I had this... weird... experience where my best friend here was abducted by aliens and given a brain transplant. Seriously, it was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers around here last week. So the person I really connected with and trusted who made Stepford bearable? Nutty nutty fruitcake.

So I was so upset, and I had this moment of clarity. I'm not happy here in Stepford. I have nothing to keep me here- no real friends, no real loyalty to anything that's shown loyalty, or even courtesy, back to me.

So deciding to overhaul your life is hard. Realizing you have no reason to stay where you are is hard. My stomach was twisted up in knots all the time, and I was waking up feeling bad, trying to remember why I felt so awful. And then... I had a good listen, one that helped me to see that I am not the Bad Person my ex-friend thinks I am.

Stephen is the love of my life. Boston is where he needs to be, and it's been three years since I've had the pleasure of seeing him every day, even every week. It won't happen tomorrow, or even next month, but waiting for my real life to begin means I'm not living my best life now. I have a HUGE list of a lot of things that need to happen in order for me to go, but I'm putting check marks on that list every day.


Twenty-four hours after composing this entry, about a week after deciding to go to Boston, Stephen drove down here and broke up with me. It’s not temporary, it's not a Next Big Step-related freakout. It's real, and it's over, and it's not at all what I want.

Should I try to go out drinking with Gwyneth Paltrow?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


So pretty soon will take its big, bad, zero customer service self and disappear into cyberspace. I'm back at the old address. I hope you'll keep reading, but I'm telling you right now- it isn't pretty.


So pretty soon will take its big, bad, zero customer service self and disappear into cyberspace. I'm back at the old address. I hope you'll keep reading, but I'm telling you right now- it isn't pretty.