Archive | July, 2010

Dear Paola

30 Jul

Dear Paola,

(who hit me with a scooter on one of the busiest streets in Rome that I had to cross every day, thereby scarring me (psychologically) for the rest of the trip every time I needed to go anywhere for the rest of the month)—(and left me with a nasty bruise about the size of a flask spanning my left elbow, which hurt every time someone bumped me (a complaint especially relevant, it turns out, in the dance club MOOD))—

I’d like to thank you for giving me about as lovely a scooter-hit experience as anyone’s ever had.  First of all, you barely sideswiped me.  Second, you sort of panickedly slowed to a stop and tipped over in a mild crash yourself in your attempt to see if I was ok.  Third, you were a very nice middle-aged Italian woman named Paola wearing a lovely blue dress, possibly on your way to a dinner party where you all would laugh and yell and gesture continually over endless bottles of vino and fresh summer vegetables and many many cheeses, with bambinos scattered about your feet.

You also spoke excellent English and tried to buy me a drink.  (I realized I was ok, backed up to the sidewalk, and burst into tears.) Water? Wine? Drink? Across the street.  Come, please, let me.

You also, I think (things are a little hazy), gave me a hug.  And stayed with me until my friends arrived.  And your name is Paola, which is a cool and mouth-pleasing version of a name we have in America.  And you insisted on giving me your phone number in case I needed anything.  (I don’t know what that would be—-I half expected you to say, anything, really, I know a guy.)  I think you would have taken me home with you if my friends hadn’t shown up right then.  Which would have been kind of amazing, honestly.

Plus.  Now I can say I got hit by a scooter in Rome.

Which is really an essential Italian experience.

Anyway, Paola, I hope you are well, and not worried about me.  I’m fine.  It’s a good story.  The bruise is gone.  I much enjoyed showing it to people and saying, faux-casually, Oh this? Yes, this is from when I got hit by a scooter….or, more accurately and more often, insisting they examine the shades of green with great pride.

Give the bambinos a kiss for me.

Best,

MM

Not the street where I got hit by the scooter.

Dear Chick Lit vs. Bitch Lit

28 Jul

Dear Chick Lit vs. Bitch Lit,

Why did Publishers Weekly describe Erica Kennedy’s (author of The Feminista Files) new novel Feminista as “The pioneer of chick lit’s naughty stepsister–bitch lit”?  (And why did her publisher decide to slap that above the title on the paperback edition?)

(But. Let me congratulate PW on managing to fit so many terrible connotations into one short phrase!  Pioneer woman!  Doing what no one else has done before!  (That would be: write a book?)  Naughty!  Oooh sexual overtones!  Possibly of the dangerous/forbidden type!  But more likely just vaguely flirtatious without actually being threatening!  Stepsister!  Cinderella!  Disney!  The mean/ugly one!  Who doesn’t get married, doesn’t become a princess, doesn’t get to have birds braid her hair every morning because she isn’t blonde!)

I’m sorry…are Chick Lit and Bitch Lit really our only two options?

I’m not talking about the actual books themselves.  Not their words, not their plots or characters or anything to do with their authors or their literary merit.  I’m talking genre names.  Chick Lit? Bitch Lit?  Those suck.  They not only carry prescriptions for the words, plots, characters.  They say way too much about the authors– or rather, what we think about the authors.  Or the readers.

Ohhh….chicks read chick lit.  And bitches read bitch lit. Ahhh. It all makes sense.  There are 2 types of women: the soft, cuddly, downy kind that coo and are yellow (whoops, too literal, my bad) and the mean, hard, bitchy kind who wears all black and eats men for breakfast and has ulcers from drinking too much coffee and so can’t have children (because babies grow in the stomach, obvi, and there isn’t room in there between the ulcers and all the men she’s eaten).  The world fits into neat little damaging misogynist stereotypes once again.  Oooh this makes me feel comfortable and comforted.

Or: I’m a chick so I read chick lit. Or: I read bitch lit so I’m a bitch.

wait…that doesn’t seem right…hrmm.

In fact, let me go you one further: why are there any genre names for books by women?

Do we have Dude Lit?  Asshole Lit?  Bro Lit?  Oh wait, no, we just call those books.

GAH,

MM

PS– I’ll be buying Feminista’s new book today and I fully expect to love it (and yes, I linked the novel title above to Amazon, because I want you to read it too).  But I might have to sharpie out the PW quote on the front cover.

Dear Seattle Traffic

26 Jul

Dear Seattle Traffic,

Why do you always slow down right when I have to pee?  Whhhhyyyyyy????
MM

Dear Cephalopods

24 Jul

Dear Cephalopods,

So I did a report on giant squid in 8th grade.  I wanted to do it on giant octopi, because I like eating octopus, and squid kind of freak me out with their wacky shape and all (and octopi are totally normal, duh), but it turns out giant octopi are like 8 feet big and giant squid are maybe reallyreallyreallybiggerthanthat, which is cooler, so I did my report on them.

If I were less lazy I would go find the report in my parents’ attic, where I am sure it is, because it was accompanied by a story, and my parents saved all of my reports and stories, obviously, and because of course all academic reports need to have a creative component because we have to teach our kids young that research and learning in and of itself is not valuable, also because we have to make all kids feel loved and accomplished, even those who can’t look up a marine animal in the encyclopedia and change a few words around (“paraphrase”).  But they can do a super awesome collage!  And get 10% for that.  And for those of us who hate arts and crafts (see arts and crafts, hate, Appendix Things MM Hates and Gets Stressed Out Over Primary Example Arts and Crafts), well, we can lose 10% or slap together a crappy 10 page 8th grade version of Moby Dick.

Oddly enough, I was just in Rome, where we talked about cephalopods a lot.  More than one would expect.  This was partly because of the psychic octopus that was predicting the World Cup Games.  Which I never read about or watched on YouTube or anything, because I like the mental image I’ve got going in my head (and did I name him Frank or is that actually his name? Who knows?) of the octopus hanging out, making people wait around even though he so knows the answer come on it’s not like being a psychic octopus requires thinking about the answer, he just knows it, and then all languidly reaching out to take food from a bowl with a little Spain flag jauntily sticking out of the top of something that looks an awful lot like wet dog food.

[I was not, however, impressed by the psychic canary or parakeet or whatever that got the final game wrong.  Clearly not psychic at all.  And the psychic frankfurter? Please, people.  Call me a skeptic, but I still have no patience for the psychic frankfurter that sizzled in a specific direction or some such made-up crap and then possibly stopped predicting things because it got eaten.  Sure, blame it on the hungry person. Like a psychic frankfurter couldn’t work in a stomach–if it was really psychic, which it clearly wasn’t.]

Also maybe we talked about cephalopods in Rome because one night I ordered rigatoni polpo al ragu, which would be pasta with tomato sauce and an entire octopus stuffed with cheese sitting on top. I made lots of people try it and poked at the tentacles with my fork a lot to make them dance. It was also delicious.

But this got us started on a few things: a) that one of our group, the lovely S, is in the Cephalopod Appreciation Society, which I also am not going to look up or find a website or link to or anything because I like the mental picture I have.  Namely, of a group of people getting together and sitting in folding chairs, or sometimes cushy grandma-patterned armchairs if meeting at a member’s house, and talking about their appreciation of cephalopods.  Sometimes with guest lecturers or slideshows.  Sometimes telling giant squid battle stories, where they always root for the giant squid against the huge old pirate ship, and talk about how the squid was just defending its home and it only ever attacked pirate ships, obviously, what fabulous moral compasses they have.

b) this conversation led another S (also lovely) to talk about something about childhood (I wasn’t really listening to the first part of the conversation) yada yada and I tuned in here:

“I mean, cuttlefish! It’s in the name! You’re supposed to cuddle them!”

To which I replied (I’m a quick thinker): “Wait, what??”

“I had a toy cuttlefish, and I would cuddle it.  You’re supposed to.”

“Was it soft?”

“No, it was hard plastic…”

“You know it’s spelled tt, right?”

“…”

Anyway, the point is, they just discovered a new octopus species.  I mean, that’s not really the point, but it’s another point. Also they think their venom can be used for all sorts of things, including curing cancer and maybe saving the world, I’m pretty sure. This is cool.  It’s another reason to appreciate cephalopods.  Even if you don’t join the society because you really really like eating them.

Ocotopi are basically Superman.

Giant squid are terrifying and you shouldn’t look them up unless you want nightmares and phobias about ever getting on boats in southern waters (especially around Australia, never get on a boat around Australia, do you even understand how big those things are? They used to take down East India Trading Company Ships.  They show up when you google search for Kraken!) (Or they don’t exist.  One or the other.)  Other cephalopods are probably all right.  Such as cuttlefish.

xoxo,

MM

Dear Julius Caesar by the Tiber as performed by us

13 Jul

Dear Julius Caesar by the Tiber as performed by us,

I think that I should never see a play with such a split per-son-al-it-ee….

Who knew Brutus was only Southern in Acts 4 and 5, that Augustus was alternately a vampire, a Scottish lad, and a dramatist, that Marc Antony was a muppet?  Who knew Cassius slipped in and out of an Irish priest’s slanted tongue and always had a cigarette in a corner of his mouth?  Who ever saw fans, parasols, and spoons brandished with such passion?

Who knew that Caesar was killed with (sometimes malfunctioning) bubble guns?

Ah, Shakespeare, little did you think…but such joy you have provided…

Grazie,

MM

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