Friday, February 25, 2011

The King's Surprise

I just came from seeing The King's Speech. Really wonderful movie. I made sure my tissues were in hand when the opening credits rolled. Besides some great performances by three of my favorite actors, I enjoyed the happiest of surprises.

Warning. Spoiler alert if you are a BBC-P&P fan.

I knew I'd see Mr. Darcy but who knew Eliza Bennett would appear on the scene? Good thing I was tissue-ready but for an entirely different reason than expected.

Did anyone know about this ahead of time? I had no idea. And glad of it. Such a thrill. There was even an appearance by the awful Mr. Collins.

As for Lowell's introducing the two of them? My hair was standing on end.

Yes, I'm a sentimental sap.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

telephone bust

This post by Blue Yak got me thinking about one of my most embarrassing on-the-phone moments.

I was maybe a junior in college. I was kinda seeing, kinda dating but mostly just wanting to be friends with this guy who I will call Thomas.

I really liked Thomas. He was a kind, smart, shy, poetic stoner with twinkly brown eyes and some of the most awesome, sexy hair. I think he had gone to my school but maybe dropped out, partly due to his extra curriculars but mostly due to finances.

Thinking back, and this could be a complete fabrication at this point, he was a mix between Jim Morrison and Seth Rogen.

The hair was Seth, only a lot longer. The eyes, definitely Jim.

Thomas also made one of the best omelettes I had ever eaten. To this day, I add a little bit of water to my eggs in his honor. Makes the omelette light and fluffy. He might have been wifty but he made an amazing omelette.

Back to the phone story. Thomas hung around my apartment a lot. It was one of those Saturday mornings where he was acting a little too comfortable, like he might just stay around for life the whole weekend. But I had other plans. I was trying to figure out a way to ditch him kindly get him to go home.

What I came up with was pathetic this:

I had my roommate knock and tell me that so-and-so had called while I was out and asked that I call her back.

This was in prehistoric times, by the way, before answering machines, let alone cell phones. (Really, though? How did we manage to date without answering machines and cell phones? I'll tell you how. We stupid stupid women sat at home by the phone. And it really really sucked.)

So I picked up the phone but pressed on the disconnect button and pretended to have a conversation with so-and-so. Where the gist was, "Oh hey, that's right, so-and-so. I forgot we were going to go there this afternoo----"

At this very moment the phone chose to ring. The phone I was holding in my hand and having a pretend conversation, rang.


Thomas was lying on the floor, I remember, watching me the whole time. Because that's what he did, mostly.

I quickly released the button then hung up on the true caller. I tried to play it off. Badly. To Thomas I said,

"Huh? What just happened? That was weird. Wasn't it?!"

With an ever growing confused look on his face he tilted his head as if to say, Huh is right?

"I guess we got disconnected somehow while I was ... uh ... you know ... talking to her."

I don't remember too much after that. I do remember then, and now, being grateful, that he was a stoner. Thinking he might have just thought, "That was weird, dude." Nothing more. Feelings spared. But I doubt even he was that clueless.

Any embarrassing dating phone moments out there?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the black widow spider speaks

There is a large family gathering this weekend in a small Texas town that my husband, children and I will not be attending.

Why, you are supposed to ask?

We won't go because one individual attending is guilty of (though not to be confused with feels guilty for) years of hounding harrassing stalking me in the form of letters.

Lengthy, hand written letters, perfect in penmanship, perfectly straight lines on unlined paper. Sometimes three pages, sometimes seven, sometimes fourteen pages long.

And no, I never wrote him any letters, ever.

This letter writer would be a close member of Sam's family. Blood kin. Sam's best friend for many years.

Do any of you remember when the first stalking laws passed, maybe fifteen years ago? Well I remember like it was yesterday. So guess who was first in line at the police station pouring her heart out opening her letters up to whomever would help?

Now imagine a crusty, old, balding detective bastard, and yes, he earned the title bastard, listening to a young newbie shrink-in-town describe her husband's family member/former best friend's frightening, demonizing, clinically crazy letters.

Guess who humbly and pleadingly asked the detective bastard to sharpen his newly legislatively empowered pencil and unleash his arrest warrant powers?

And guess what the first question the detective bastard asked me?

What does your husband think of all this?

All this? What does my husband think? Is this freaking 1889 where I need his permission to press charges? I am the victim here. But rather than argue with the patronizing detective bastard, I opted to unveil a few choice samples of the letters.

And this is where you'd probably like for me to quote verbatim from my eight-inch stack of hate mail. Except I can't won't put my hands on them right now. I think, but am not sure, they are up in some remote corner my attic.

But here are a few choice phrases that are forever seared into my memory I recall:

! In one of the earliest screeds, he called me the black widow spider. And lest I miss his meaning, he provided a large illustration of a spider on a web complete with red hour glass.

! I was accused of wielding my psychological powers to manipulate his family into doing my evil bidding, in particular to control the individual who controlled his purse strings. He affectionately termed my powers, Susanna's* Secrets.

*Let's say that my given name is Susanna but I have gone by Susie my whole life and have avoided ever going by the name Susanna, because it sounded pretentious and was only used by angry mothers, grandmothers, teachers and nuns. Therefore the weight of Susanna's Secrets was all the more onerous.

! In one letter I was called an east coast yankee carpet bagging* beady-eyed bitch.

*Carpet bagging? What does that mean exactly? In my case, I mean? At the time he wrote that line I was somewhere in the last stages of getting my doctorate. Whose carpet was I bagging, exactly?

! He threatened that if I didn't put an end to Susanna's Secrets I would regret it, be sorry, and pay in terrible pain. To emphasize this point he drew of a large knife dripping in red blood.

! He accused me of murdering my best friend*. My crime was failing to discourage her from moving on with her life and pursuing a new relationship. My method of murder, of course, was her contracting HIV from the new guy. Duh.

*His former girlfriend, who, by the way, was, and is, quite alive and doing much better without his letter-writting ass.

!He threatened to take action to have my license revoked by reporting Susanna's Secrets to my oversight board. He claimed that by consoling and offering support to my friend, his former girlfriend, I was violating the board's rule of ethics. If he was to do this, I would have suffered the aggravation and likely the legal expense of defending myself. This caused me quite a bit of worry, moreso than knives dripping in blood.

!He tampered with a picture of me that was hanging on his mother's wall. A picture of my husband and me sitting close, smiling big, taken several months after our twins were born. It was one of many in a montage-type frame. He had apparently carefully dismantled the frame, removed the picture, cut the eyes out, replaced it, and re-hung the frame.

!He said that I waddled when I walked. Now, here you shall know the true evil that resides within me. The sin of vanity. This waddling business caused me just slightly less anxiety than the licensing board worries.

The short story is this: The police did not issue a warrant. Though one year or so later one was issued after he letter-stalked a friend of the family. He did get arrested. He did go to jail. He was let out on bond by the purse strings: Obviously Susanna's Secrets were not working. He failed to appear in court. Nothing further happened except the rising blood pressure and dismay of one black widow spider.

We haven't seen the author of the manuscripts, as we call them, in almost twenty years. He lives in Sam's hometown, jobless, supported by his mother my mother-in-law the purse strings. He has never met or, to my knowledge, laid eyes on my kids, other than photos.

For the record, Sam was fully supportive of my pressing charges. He sat with me through a previous report in his hometown. Made the call, even. I am grateful for his pledge to stay away from him, made without my asking.

I've gradually moved beyond fear (most of the time) to appreciating the humor of it all. I used to have a rubber spider stick-on stuck to the dash of my car. Some of the letter phrasings have become code words. When I don't give Sam his way? Damned beady-eyed bitch. When the purse strings lean in our favor? Susanna's Secrets are finally working.

And so we won't be going to the reunion this weekend. The scribbler will be there. He'll be driving his mother, my children's grandmother the purse strings.

As for those letters, I'll leave them in their attic grave, no doubt closely guarded by a black widow spider whom, I know, has got my back.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

addendum I want the Texas lege to consider

In my last post I commented on this sonogram legislation proposal currently up for debate in the Texas legislature. Now that I've had time to think on it, I recommend the Texas Senate committee consider the following addendum:

Before a man can be approved for a vasectomy he first needs to watch a series of videos showing cute little baby sperms fertilizing the ovum.

Serious videos and not so serious videos such as this one or my personal favorite, Super Sperm:

And then the vasectomy wannabe-recipient will need to watch a series of cute baby videos. You know, the kind of babies that he could possibly fertilize with his sperm. Sweet, cute, cuddly, laughing babies.

In case he doesn't realize what his sperm could produce if he didn't get the procedure.

In case he needs his state legislature to inform him.

Monday, February 07, 2011

if this isn't massively big government, nothing is

Woke up to this on the front page of today's paper. A proposed law by Texas State Senator Dan Patrick (Republican-7th District) will make it mandatory for women seeking abortions to have a sonogram and listen to the fetal heartbeat.

Patrick has been proposing laws of this nature for years. His 2009 law was watered down, mandating that women be informed of their right to the procedures but allowing them to opt out.

His "current proposal allows women to avert their eyes."

It's unclear whether women can refuse the fetal monitor heartbeat.

Really? A bunch of stuff shirts in the Texas lege are gonna allow me to look away? What would they have us do? Put our heads in a vice and force us to look? Stick plugs in our ears against our will? Sounds a little clockwork orangey to me.

And what happened to the Republican rallying cry, Keep government off my back! I don't understand how my back is off limits but my uterus is fair game.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

swann's way out

I recently mail off my copy of Remembrance of Things Past, Volume I: Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust.

Unfinished. About 400 pages worth of unfinished.

I'd heard about Proust from a number of sources, spoken with a reverence reserved for the likes of James Joyce and Dostoevsky.

I didn't finish Ulysses either though I loved Crime and Punishment.

So when I brought home Swann's Way it was with a token solemnity that I climbed into bed to read it, cup of tea by my side. I hunkered down hoping to love this book, with those many volumes and thousands of pages to look forward to.


I wasn't all that certain at first. I'm still not. After many nights and many dutiful attempts to read a multitude of paragraphs, filled with endless compound and run on sentences covering a period of time that could have lasted no more than five minutes, five seconds, perhaps, devoted to a glimpse into the stream of consciousness of one man as he lie awake in bed, moments after snuffing out his candle, remembereing his youth, a childhood of inconsolable angst, a childhood of yearnings and dread combined into a dull, relentless ache of loneliness, when he would lie awake then, in just such a bed, in just such a way as this, a boy, waiting for his dear, sweet mother to climb the steps and come to his room and deliver a good night kiss, a kiss he anticipated with unbearable fervor, after which he felt an intensity of disappointment that it was over and that he would not see his mother again for many hours yet to come, knowing that his father would ridicule him for his clinging emotionality, I decided that reading pleasure was not to be had at the prolific hand of Proust.

In short, reading left me feeling really annoyed. Was it Proust's writing style? Or was it a function of the translation? Whichever, it writing bounced and skipped like a beaded bracelet that breaks open and scatters across concrete. Where is it all going? Will it ever come together again, into one coherent idea? Too much repetitive detail. Too little notice before a topic change. My mind was ringing with, "Alright, already!" Throughout the one hundred or so pages I read, I wasn't sure if, during the entire narrative, he was still in bed.

For several nights I gave it another try. I thought maybe I'd finally get into his rhythm, start to follow his train of long, obsessive thought. Determined to appreciate it.

Didn't happen.

Instead I started to wonder if the One Hundred Greatest Novels of All Time list was penned by none other than Ellsworth Toohey, playing a trick on the masses, trying to make us feel small and guilty for failing to comprehend the magnitude of Proust's style.

But in the end, I let it go. Life is too short to feel annoyed. Too many good books out there waiting.

I'm curious though. Any readers think I made a mistake, loved the book, think I should have persevered?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

sensational haiku wednesday

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

This week's theme: Disclosure.

I spend most of my work week encouraging disclosure. Sometimes it's easy because people badly want a place to divulge. To feel listened to and validated.

Other times its really hard to let go of secrets.

tell the true story
this is the place to reveal
even if it hurts

Want to join in the Haiku fun? Visit Jenn's You know ... that Blog? Check out the guidelines here.