Thursday, February 28, 2008

roots again...

My roots are back.

As happens every month and a half, I am surprised to suddenly have light brown hair sprouting near my scalp.

And I am disappointed.

And I feel a little less pretty, a little less self-assured, and a little less me.

But the fact of the matter is, those roots are the real me, the natural me, the color of my hair as God (or whomever) intended it to be. And blonde, rootless me, the person who swoops in every six weeks after a lengthy visit to Jason's chair, is a person I've created. A figment. An idea. An image, carefully crafted in the name of this experiment.

I am puzzled, then, by a very philosophical question: is the real me the natural me? Or the person I decide I want to be.

Does image drive identity? Or does identity beget image?

To me, those questions are at the root of this experiment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I thought I lost you

I took the morning off today so I could do some house-y errands and go to yoga at my favorite studio with one of my new favorite teachers (Emily.)

I knew it would be a light work day, with more to do in the afternoon than the morning, so I decided to take advantage of the part-time nature of my job and my boss' total willingness to be flexible about scheduling so long as my work always gets done.

So...I wake up on the late side. It feels delicious, since we've worked lots of late nights lately.
I put on my yoga outfit.
I go to my class.
It is challenging -- we work mostly on balance, something that has escaped me as of late.
Class runs over, late, and by the time I turn my cell phone on I have three new texts and two new messages. The texts say things like:

"Coming in today?" from my boss.
"Be in late...where are you?" also from my boss.
"Getting worried, why aren't you answering your phone?" my boss, again.

The voicemails say things like:

"Kitty, wondering where you are. It's so not like you to be late. Your boss said you were supposed to be in at nine. Call us when you can, we're worried you're dead in a ditch somewhere," from Alyss.

Oh shit, I think. Did I forget to tell him? I mentally review my actions of last night, go over our phone conversation in my head. No, he knew.

I click thru to another voice message, from my stylist Jason:

"Kitty, we're worried, call immediately," CLICK.

I call my boss to tell him where I was, and the minute he hears my voice he remembers our agreement. "Oops," he says, "okay, see you in an hour."

It's so funny. I had my phone off for a total of two hours. And all of that time, my boss and some of my best loved ones thought I was dead.

Guess I know where my people are when I need them.

And that I can never turn off my cell phone again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

our waitress hates us

MATHEMATICIAN: (after handing the curt waitress who didn't crack a smile all evening his credit card) I don't think she likes us.

ME: I don't think she likes waitressing.

The Mathematician nods contemplatively.

ME: It's cool. Sometimes I like it when people are bitchy to me. It means I don't need worry about being nice to them, which sometimes makes things more efficient.

The Mathematician nods. Efficiency is something he can certainly appreciate.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

what's your name

I've been at Toro for 8 hours now and I know the evening is no where near through. I'm exhausted.

It's not Toro's fault. It's frankly my own, for choosing a career path that has me working 2 jobs to make ends meet, and way too many hours in the past week. Still, I'm beat. We're working a private party hosted by Island Creek Oysters, who are throwing an event for all of their best customers in honor of this weekend's seafood show. It's been easy & I'd never complain about hosting these guys, hippie/visionaries that they are. But I'm tired, and when my manager pours me a glass of albarino, it seems a delicious present designed to thank me for what has become a very long night.

"Hi, what's your name?" one of the party guests asks as he makes his was over to me. I can tell by his glassy eyes that he's had just enough alcohol this evening to want to try and flirt.

"I'm Kitty," I say, "Nice to meet you."

"Hi Katie," he says, "Nice to meet you."

"No, not Katie," I say with a shudder, "Kitty. Like as in a small cat."

"Oh, Kitty," he says.

"Yes," I say, "Kitty. You know, like a baby cat."

"Oh, I understand," he says boastfully, as thought he 'got it' from the very beginning. "I'm very familiar with the Kitty," he says. "I like to pet the Kitty."

I squint my eyes at him. Did he really just say that? "Well that was inappropriate," I say. But I continue to talk to him. I feel I have to in a way, because I am still at my waitressing job. Because I love these Island Creek guys and want them to have a good party. I know in my mind that if I ever felt even the slightest bit uncomfortable with how a guest treated me, my feminist manager would back me up in a second. But I still feel as though I need to make this perfect stranger's wildly lame and inappropriate comment sound...a little less terrible for everyone involved.

I wonder if I'll ever have the kind of job where I don't have to do this: make other people feel better about the fact that they are behaving badly? Or if this kind of thing my destiny as a kind, empathetic person.

And I wonder -- how many people out there have had to extend the same generosity of spirit to me?

(Perhaps I should forward that query to the Rabbi?)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

bunny leblanc

My best friend's Grandma passed away this week. Since my own grandparents died when I was very young she was like a surrogate grandmother to me. So of course I wanted to pay my respects at the memorial services held in her honor at Manchester Country Club this afternoon.

After a brief eulogy the officiant encouraged us all to make our way up to the podium to share our very own thoughts and memories about Bernadette "Bunny" Crowley, nee LeBlanc. "It can be anything," she coaxed, "a special story you have about Bunny, something in your daily life that will always remind you of her, any happy memories of her that you may have. Anything."

Her voice sounded so earnest as she tried to get us all to participate (presumably to deflect any of the inherent awkwardness present in any funereal setting.) And truly, I wanted to be brave for my best friend, for her wonderful mother, for their entire family, and to step up to the podium (and minimize that awkwardness), take the mic in my hand and share my very own Grandma memories.

I thought long and hard about what my talking points would be. And I realized: the things I remembered best about Grandma were the bawdy things she used to say to me, not one of which would be appropriate to share in the middle of a high-class country club in front of god-fearing people gathered for a religious memorial service.

So I'll share them here:

About any moderately-attractive-to-good-looking man: "He's handsome! He can put his shoes under my bed anytime!"

When asked about her affinity for romance novels: "I'm old! I gotta get my kick somehow!!!"

Her answer when I foolishly asked if she was part Irish: "Irish? Oh, no, no, no, my husband was Irish. I'm all French -- French Canadian. But I'm Irish by injection!"

Thinking about Grandma now, I realize: this wonderful, vibrant, elderly woman was our very own bold, brazen, in-the-flesh Mae West. Unlike any other woman I've ever met, but exactly how I hope to be when I'm in my 80s.

I guess with a name like Bunny LeBlanc, what do you expect? With a name like Kitty, do you think I'm already predestined for such greatness?

Friday, February 22, 2008

blonde wisdom: Madonna II

I suppose I sometimes used to act like I wasn't a human being... Sometimes I look back at myself and remember things I used to say, or my hairstyle, and I cringe.
- Madonna

I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.
- Madonna

I would like to see the Pope wearing my T-shirt.
- Madonna

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Madonna, maybe, but Lindsay Lohan?

Just last night at Toro I was explaining the New York magazine-Lindsay Lohan situation to my friend/Toro wine director Courtney. She, too, was appalled at NY Mag's horrible choice of a subject for the naked-Marilyn photo-shoot-remake.

"I mean, it would be one thing if they chose Madonna for a shoot like that. But Lindsay Lohan? Please!" Courtney said. I nodded emphatically. We both agreed: only Madonna would be iconic enough to stand in at such a photographic event.

And then just today I came across this article on BBC News. Guess we aren't the only ones who felt that way...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

oversharing with the Rabbi

So the wedding on Sunday night was awesome. My girlfriend looked like an amazing princess in her gown, my outfit blended beautifully & elegantly into the sea of other black evening gowns sported by fellow guests, and I ate copious amounts of delicious raw bar during the cocktail hour.

One thing that was not so awesome? Accidentally spilling my guts out to the Rabbi. We sat right right next to each other during dinner, and I had been so moved by his beautiful ceremony, so touched by the intimacy of the evening, that when he asked me, "How did you and the Mathematician meet?" I decided to answer him honestly. In great detail. Sharing every detail.

In my own defense, Sunday's horoscope predicted that I should take the opportunity to get in touch with my emotions: "You have been grounded too much in facts as of late," the stars said. "Take the opportunity today to open up and share your feelings. They are what gives you your unique strength, what makes you who you are."

So I listened. I took the Rabbi's question and ran with it, telling him the whole story of how the Mathematician and I met (at a friends wedding five years ago, while he was dating someone else and I was engaged to a different guy.) I explained my tumultuous break-up with the Ex and the drama that ensued a few days later when the Mathematician and I started to pursue a relationship (harassing phone calls, tears, drama drama drama.) I lamented how challenging it was for me to break off my engagement in the first place ("I felt like the only woman in the world who had ever done such a thing! I was was totally mortified and ashamed. Wah, wah, wah!") Pretty macabre stuff for a wedding, I know.

But there was more. So much more. On and on I went on this stream-of-consciousness rant, guided through the thin veil of champagne that had surreptitiously descended over my thoughts by his gentle, active listening techniques. "You're a really good listener!" I told him.

Then suddenly I veered in a completely different direction, telling the Rabbi all about this very intense dream I'd had the evening before, where I imagined that the Mathematician didn't love me as much as I loved him and that I had to break up with him in the dream and it was very, very sad and hurtful for me, but how in reality it didn't make any sense because I don't doubt the Mathematician's complete an utter devotion to me and commitment to our relationship, so "what do you think that means, Rabbi, that my mind was making me feel so alone like that...?"

When I paused to take a breath I realized: he was not nearly as into this conversation as I was. Oops! I think I just overshared.

The conversation ended pretty abruptly after that. The Rabbi left the dinner table, to mingle or get a drink, or perhaps simply to put as much distance as possible between himself and the crazy blonde seated to his left.

I was mortified...for a minute. Then I decided to forgive myself, slow down on the champagne, and try to keep it light for the rest of the evening.

I spent the rest of the night on the dance floor. It was much safer there.

Monday, February 18, 2008

NY Magazine, you should be ashamed...

...for trying to pass off a two-bit celebrity like Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe.

It just offends me, for the following reasons:

1. Lindsay Lohan is about as far a cry as you can come from the Grand Dame of blonde bombshells. She is famous for starring in lame remakes like The Parent Trap and Herbie: Fully Loaded, being busted for fabulously messy DUI's, and spending more time in rehab than most bonafide adult alcoholics. Marilyn is famous for being indescribably sensual, a comedic genius, and embodying a je ne sais quoi that is leaps and bounds beyond anything Ms. Lohan represents.

2. Lohan does not even make a good blonde. She's a much better redhead or sultry brunette. As a blonde? She looks washed out and weird. A hot Ann Margaret look-alike maybe, but Marilyn? Please.

3. The Lohan shoot parodies Monroe's final photo-shoot before her tragic, untimely death at age 36. Show some respect, NY Magazine. I get that you needed to feature someone impossibly young here, so the 21-years-old thing doesn't bother me nearly as much as your choice of such a mediocre subject. At the very least you could have used a blonde worth her artistic salt for such a shoot, like actress Scarlett Johanssen. Instead, you settled for a mediocre actress who hasn't done a single interesting film in her adult life (Mean Girls aside, for it was essential a teen movie), famous simply for being famous.

I repeat, you should be ashamed, NY Magazine. This is false blonde prophecy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

dressing for the wedding

Tonight, one of my closest girlfriends is getting married. It is a black tie affair. It is being held at the Taj. It will undoubtedly be one of the fanciest events I've ever attended. And I am beside myself with excitement.

But who knew gala affairs required so much preparation? Between choosing the perfect dress, getting nails and hair done, figuring out shoes, make-up, jewelry, a purse, and a shawl I feel like I've been mentally preparing for this night for months. I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to plan the event from soup to nuts! It must have been like taking on a second job. I'm so glad the bride & groom have a nice long honey-moon awaiting them, starting tomorrow morning.

When I first began conceptualizing an outfit for the evening I wanted to go for something different: a fun, lively, evening gown with lots of sequins and shiny stuff on it in some bright, exciting hue, like mauve or cerulean. I ended up with the exact opposite: I walked out of the department store 20 minutes after I walked into it, the proud new owner of a simple, plain, floor-length black gown made of a totally pedestrian fabric, with thick straps and a simple neckline. It was the first dress I tried on and the least expensive dress in the entire evening department. But the fit? It was simply perfect. I learned a very important fashion lesson that evening -- sometimes going with what you know isn't being boring. Sometimes it's simply the only option. There's a reason I'm always drawn to the little black dress -- because it always looks perfect. And if that's the case, well, why fight it?

But the real fashion epiphany came when I decided upon my main accessory for the evening: my hair. It's only fitting, n'est-ce pas? Hair has been such a focus of my thoughts and scholarship the past few years,that it only makes sense that I should make hair the centerpiece of the outfit. I will visit my dear Jason to make this a reality, of course. But since he doesn't do up-do's, my options are limited.

I was stumped about what to request for styling at first, and thought a boring blow out would be my only option. Then, while setting my water glass down on my somewhat disconcerting Marilyn Monroe coasters the other night, it hit me: deep side part, big, soft curling-iron curls, et voila! Simple elegant, old-school glamour, much in the fashion of the Grande Dame of Bombshell Blondes.

I'm leaving for my hair appointment in a few minutes, and can't wait to see what Jason does. I hope it all comes together -- I'm cutting it pretty close with a 3:45 hair appointment.

Then again, if the look isn't perfect, who cares? This isn't my day, it's the brides. My simple goal is to be as pleasing an addition to the backdrop of her photos as possible. Thanks to Spanx, Jason's deft hair stylings, a killer dress, and $100 worth of make-up purchased impulsively at the Chanel counter, think I can make it happen.

But, goddamn! Being fancy is a lot of work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

disengaged II

What the hell am I going to do with my engagement ring setting?

I dislodged the rock from the thing a few weeks ago so as to give it back to my sister-in-law, who donated it to the cause of my engagement when I first became betrothed to the Ex six years ago. I am still no closer to knowing what to do with the setting.

It's platinum, diamond encrusted, and gorgeous, so definitely worth something. The only thing is -- is it infused with bad ju-ju, being the by-product of a failed engagement?

When I called off my engagement 2 years ago I felt so ashamed. I felt that I must be the only woman in the world who would ever do such a thing. I felt like the only fairy tale reader who'd ever had the misfortune to end up with a bogus ending. But as I began to open up to people and tell them, "I broke off my engagement, things aren't working out, this relationships is over," friends, co-workers, even family members came out of the woodwork to me to tell me that they, too, had broken off engagements. I realized: broken engagements? Not so uncommon. It's just not the kind of thing that polite people usually talk about.

I wish I could call all of those people up right now and ask them: what did they do with their rings/settings/vestiges of engagement unfufilled?

Right now mine is sitting on a pile of junk mail on my desk, directly on top of a postcard imploring me to join Equinox Fitness Clubs, which is something I will never do.

Well, there it is.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I spent the better part of Wednesday looking at images of very thin models wearing very expensive clothes.

I wasn't just messing around, I was working -- it was for a media placement for one of my clients, the Achilles Project, who open the doors to their innovative boutique/restaurant on Monday. There was something unusual about these skinny models, however: they were all boys.

As I paged through look-books from McQ by Alexander McQueen and Shipley & Halmos, I couldn't help but notice: all the male models looked as thin, frail, and anorexic as their female counterparts. I was shocked.

I do recall the heroine-chic thing of the mid-1990s, but the models from these look books? They evoked something different. Just as the high-waisted, wide-leg jeans I bought last month are similar but not-at-all like my mom's bell-bottoms from the 70's, these skinny guys seemed to foretell a new era of thin. It's bad enough that we don't let the women eat, I thought. Are we now taking food away from the men, too?

Intrigued, I googled "anorexic male models" and turned up this article from last Thursday's New York Times. Says writer Guy Trebay: "Far from inspiring a spate of industry breast-beating, as occurred after the international news media got hold of the deaths of two young female models who died from eating disorders, the trend favoring very skinny male models has been accepted as a matter or course."

Huh. Really? Then I began to wonder: How will men respond to this new trend?

Are food issues going to become de rigeur for both genders now?

Will men finally begin to understand what it's like to have the media plucking away at their self-esteem all the time?

Will we see an increase across the board in manorexia?

It levels the playing field in a way, I guess, to have food issues plaguing everyone, not just women. But when I dream about gender equality, meritocratic food issues aren't exactly what I have in mind.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the obligatory Valentine's Day post

I am not working at the restaurant tonight. And that makes me very, very happy.

This is the first Valentine's Day in years that I have not spent behind the apron, popping champagne and smiling obligatorily at guests, pretending the kitchen and the entire restaurant behind me wasn't going down in flames. For that reason alone, I have abhorred this holiday for years. It always meant money, sure, but hard-won money that was never really quite worth all of the blood, sweat, and misery it took to get there.

Tonight, instead of trying to make a bunch of high-maintenance yuppie couples feel special as they pretend to enjoy each other's company on a Hallmark night, I am spending the evening at home alone with the Mathematician. We are cooking dinner for each other. He is making the main course, a roast, and I am making the starters and dessert: bacon wrapped dates (thanks to Orinoco for the inspiration), arugula dressed with balsamic purchased at the Mercato Centale in Florence for like 80 euro or something ridiculous like that, caprese salad with the amazing bufala from the Butcher Shop, and caramelized banana crepes from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way. It's little more than a typical Thursday night, the biggest difference being that I'm letting us eat fatty food and cooking almost everything in butter.

And I could not be happier.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

blonde wisdom: Marlene Dietrich

Darling, the legs aren't so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.
- Marlene Dietrich

Glamour is what I sell, it's my stock in trade.
- Marlene Dietrich

I am not a myth.

- Marlene Dietrich

Monday, February 11, 2008

wisdom of the traveling pants

Bridget could feel lots of eyes on her, but she didn't dwell on it. She was used to people looking at her. She knew that her hair was unusual. It was long and straight and the color of a peeled banana. People always made a big deal about her hair. Also she was tall and her features were regular -- her nose straight, all the things in the right places. The combination of qualities made people mistake her for beautiful.

She wasn't beautiful...There was no particular poetry or grace in her face. She knew that, and she knew that other people probably realized that too, once they got over her hair.

-- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
by Ann Brashares

Sometimes I feel like dying my hair blonde is this delightful trick that I've been pulling to get people to pay more attention to me for the past several years. Eventually this project will be over, and I'll be faced with a decision: do I stay blonde?

I always think of the above passage when my mind starts to flutter there, over to that question.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Spanish lessons at Toro: muneca

One of the Columbian backwaiters at Toro has no idea what my name is. Instead of calling me Kitty, she calls me "muneca." It's cool -- she's new to this country and has lots of other vocabulary to learn. I am not offended that she has nicknamed me. However, I'm not really sure what that word means. Tonight, I decided to get to the bottom of things by asking Cinthya, who is Mexican but speaks English fluently.

ME: Hey, Cinthyia! Do you have any idea why Monica calls me "muneca"? I thought that word meant "doll." Is that like a baby doll? I don't get it.

CINDY: It does. Actually, it means doll...but something different?

ME: Oh, really?

CINDY: Yes, it Barbie. Like you are some sort of Spanish, no, Latin Barbie or something.

ME: Seriously? I thought all this time they were saying I was baby-ish. Huh.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

showtunes Tuesday

Last Tuesday I left my happy little gay neighborhood to try dinner in a new gay neighborhood (Dorchester) at a restaurant called Dbar. I'd heard good things, just never bothered to make the trek, so when my friends suggested it, I said, "Sure, I'm game."

What we did not realize was that we were venturing into this new territory on Show Tunes Tuesday. Apparently, every Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. a large, widescreen TV or projector screen or something magically appears in the Dbar dining room. On it they screen clips from favorite numbers of movie musicals: Chicago, Dreamgirls, the movie version of the Broadway musical version of the movie Hairspray. On very, VERY high volume.

Perhaps this sounds like a delightfully fun prospect to you. If that is the case, I encourage you to go forth and dine at Dbar on Tuesdays. I wasn't into it and the experience of it, frankly, made me want to die. I accept responsibility whole-heartedly for ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I do not blame Dbar for my misery, nor do I wish to rain on anybody else's fabulous parade of harmony and sequins. Everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be having a grand old time. I sat quietly in the corner, imagining creative ways to gouge out my own eyes.

I survived. But I've had one terrible, horrible, wretched problem ever since that evening, a plague I wouldn't wish upon anyone, not even my worst enemy:

I can't get the freaking show tunes out of my head.

I woke up the following morning and realized that I somehow know almost all of the words to "La Vie Boheme" from Rent. And was hearing it, over and over in my head.

About an hour later the tune changed. I learned that I also know both parts of the duet sung when MiMi and Roger meet in the beginning of the show. They both sang to me for a while. While I was doing my daily morning yoga practice.

Then, the voice of Mark, the show's nerdy narrator: somehow his nasal, whiny voice wormed it's way in, into my head. I hate Mark.

There was a reprieve for a little while some time late on Wednesday evening. The blaring salsa and companero music we play at Toro rattled around in my brain from the time I got home 'til I went to sleep that night. This happens every time I work. What can I say? I'm impressionable.

Thursday, snippets from Chicago wormed their way in, getting a song or two in edgewise between the flirty banter of Roger & Mimi and Mark's opening bars in La Vie Boheme. A few horrible choruses from Dreamgirls also managed to make themselves known.

They all took turns, the main musical moments of these grandiose shows turned into mediocre movies, playing in constant terrible rotation in my mind. This has been happening since Tuesday: MiMi, Roger, and the entire Rent ensemble, singing to me of their troubles as poor, liberal bohemians just trying to get by in the face of AIDS and heroin and yuppies in '90s-era New York (I'm thinking the play lost some of it's relevance in the new millenium: I know an investment banker who lives on Avenue A) with a little back-up help from Beyonce, Renee Zellweger, Jennifer Hudson, and Queen Latifah.

Then suddenly today, it all stopped when I saw this amazing bit of advertising genius.

Now it's just me & Patrick Swayze.

Friday, February 08, 2008

the blonde of the week: Queen Elizabeth I of England

The Virgin Queen. Gloriana. The Faerie Queen. Good Queen Bess.
These were nicknames for Queen Elizabeth I of England, one of England's most beloved royals and a legend in her own time. Queen Elizabeth was also a blonde.

Or was she?

"Attentive schoolgirls may remember being told that Queen Elizabeth I had auburn hair," writes Joanna Pittman in ON BLONDES. Indeed, early portraits of the Queen such as this one, thought to have been painted by Elizabethan female court painter, Levina Teerling when Elizabeth was thirteen, show her as a bona fide redhead.

So...what happened? Queen Elizabeth was a brilliant self-promoter, that's what. Right around the time England defeated the Spanish armada, thus forever cementing her association with one of the greatest victories in British history, Queen Elizabeth made the transition into blonde. At the time she was 55-years old, her real hair already grey and thinning. But she will be remembered for time immortal, thanks to her large, trusty collection of wigs, as an ageless, wrinkle-free blonde.

Elizabeth's reign was recognized by her public as one of "exceptional prudence and felicity", but it was the Armada defeat of 1588 that sealed the deal for Queen Bess. According to Pittman, "it provided the final impetus for the creation of a Queen Elizabeth cult."

Why did Elizabeth choose blonde? Because in 16th century England the color held potent, powerful symbolism. In addition to being a key component of the Elizabethan ideal of femininity, it also conferred a non-negligible association between the Queen and all things holy. As you may recall, the Queen never married: she pitted suitors against one another throughout her lifetime in the end rebuffing them all. At age fifty-one she refused the hand of her final suitor (the French Duke of Anjou, a man half her age) and her foreign policy ministers finally took the hint: the Queen would never marry.

Thereafter Queen Eliz became immortalized as "the Virgin Queen" and subsequently deified for her virtuous piety. Scared images of Christ, the saints, and the Virgin Mary had recently been "removed from England's churches and rejected as idolatry", leaving ample room for a new brand of virgin-worship: the cult of Queen Elizabeth.

Throughout her life Queen Elizabeth keep close tabs on artistic representations of her image throughout the kingdom. It is rumored that she had her public relations officer issue a "pattern book by which officially sanctioned artists would be able to produce 'correct' images ." In 1596, towards the end of her life, she had "unseemly portraits sought out by government officers" and turned into fuel for the fire.

In official portraits her likeness marched on: aloof, otherworldly, and in increasingly lighter shades of blonde. They were produced with perhaps even greater vigor after her death. Writes Pittman:

"She was a golden ruler of a golden age, and her blonde hair was part of this divine unreality."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

puffy coat

Each winter, when the temperature first dips below 30 degrees here in Boston and the air begins to smart with chill, I pull my puffy coat out of the closet.

The puffy is a welcome addition to my wardrobe. It is long, hits mid-calf on my legs, and is made of down, so it's very, very warm. It has a real-fur trimmed hood that looks pleasantly Eskimo when I wear it up. In addition to being warm, my coat is also surprisingly light and can squish up into an impossibly small ball. This makes it good for traveling.

It's like walking around in a sleeping bag all day long.

My puffy coat is every-so slightly too big for me (despite the fact that I bought it in the littlest size they had, extra small), and it's not exactly flattering to my mid-section. But the puffy miraculously guards against ALL elements, enabling me to wear short skirts with boots and questionably light sweaters, even when the snow drifts are high. It's like a suit of warm armor and for that reason I love it, am indebted to it, even.

Some time around mid-January I begin to get a little sick of my puffy coat. It no longer seems like a funny, practical addition to my wardrobe when I have to wear it every single day. I have other coats, sure, but none protect from ALL the elements the way this one does, with it's amorphous hood and water-proof exterior. It's an umbrella and a coat in one. It melts snow in it's tracks. So I continue to wear it, almost every single day...even though I now kind of hate my puffy coat.

And inevitably, somewhere around early-February, I begin to loathe my puffy coat. It start to feel way too hot half the time, and totally claustrophobic. I glimpse my reflection in windows and glass doors as I pass by on my way to work and I see myself as this tubby, sexless creature, schlepping along through dreary winter days. Sure, I'm warm and dry, but I definitely don't look hip or fasionable or pretty. I stomp along to my destination, either the office or Toro, and throw my puffy coay in a corner as far away from me possible, and refuse to look at it again until it's time to go back outside.

My puffy coat has become my prison.

I suppose that's what I get for living in Boston in winter. But still. How can a garment can be so good and soooo bad, all in the span of one long, dreary season?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

keep your panties on

I am on the way to meet the Mathematician at Douzo for sushi.

Ah, Douzo, with your delicious spicy tuna roll, a roll that would seem pedestrian anywhere else. Yum. I start planning our order as I walk briskly past the line to get into Clerys. It stretches all the way to the end of the block.

Yech, Clery's. I shudder. I stomp by, casting accusing looks at the numerous fratty boys and dumpy girls lined up outside to get in. What are you all doing here in the Gayborhood? I want to scream. Go back to Allston! I look down at the brick sidewalk to avoid making eye contact.

A small black triangle of fabric lying on the ground catches my eye...Wait a that a THONG?

Indeed, it is. I have just spied a black, crumpled thong lying on the ground outside Clery's.

As if that dump wasn't trashy enough?
is that? How did it get there?
Does anyone else see it lying there, in the dirt???

I glance around quickly: the crowd is too busy being drunk and lame to notice. All of these questions I have about the thong, it's lifespan, and it's untimely demise...

Then I realize: I don't want to know the answers. To any of them.

I march on towards the sushi and try not to think about it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

why I did not vote today

It is pouring out and I am drenched when I arrive at the Andrews Arena by Northeastern. It took me half an hour to get here from my neighborhood in the South End. I shake off my umbrella, stomp the droplets of water off my boots, and pull open the wide, heavy doors.

"Hello, miss. What's your address?" a friendly, elderly black man asks me as I approach the voting table.
"Hello, how are you?" I respond with a smile. I love exercising my right to vote and cannot contain my excitement. "I live at 335 Huntington Ave, sir. Apartment number 13."

That's actually a little white lie. I have not lived at that address since I broke up with my ex in August 2005. I returned to my old address to vote for Deval Patrick as governer, and I assumed it would be A-OK to return to this address to vote for Hillary today. Someone indicated to me yesterday that this was not allowed, but I figured I'd try anyway.

"Okay, 335 Huntington Ave," said the nice voting registration person. "What's the last name, please?"

"Amann," I say, "That's A-M-A-N-N."I watch his finger scroll down the list and land beside my name. "That's me, right there!"

"Oh, okay. Hmm," says the voting registration person. "It says you're marked in the system as INACTIVE. When 's the last time you voted?"

"Oh, I can't say, for sure. I voted for the Governer, I know that..."

"Been awhile then? Okay, then I just need to see your I.D. Do you have an I.D. with you, miss?"

"Well, of course I do!" I say, and flash him an accommodating grin, as if to say, I always come prepared. "Here you go!"

"Oh, I see," says the nice voting table person. "Here's the problem. This I.D. says your address is 15 Warren Ave. Did you move since last time you voted, miss?"

"Umm...yes," I say. "Yes, I did. Sure did, I moved last week, in fact. 15 Warren Ave. is my old address. I live now at 335 Huntington Ave. Heh." Phew, dodged that bullet.

"Okay, well let me see here. We're going to have to get you all set up at your new address. Paul over here can help you. Paul!? Hey PAUL!" The nice voting table person bellows. "Can you come on over here and help this young lady out?"

An older, kind looking gentleman in a red sweater layered over a checkered dress shirt makes his way over to the table where we stand. He has kind, appealing mannerisms, not unlike those of Mr. Rogers.

"What seems to be the problem?" Mr Rogers says.

"See, my sheet says that she lives at 335 Huntington Ave.," says the nice voting registration person. "But this young lady's license says she lives at 15 Warren Ave. She moved since last time she voted, see? Now she lives at 335 Huntington Ave., don't you miss?" I cringe inside...I loathe lying...and nod vigorously. "Can you help this nice young lady figure out what to do?"

"Oh, you bet I can," says Paul/Mr. Rogers. "So let me get this straight. You used to live here," he holds up my license, "and now you live here," he points to my old address on the paper record held by the voter registration table.

It seems like decades ago I lived there -- I was a totally different person
, I think. My status is marked blatantly and clearly as INACTIVE. My heart sinks. They stare up at me, kindly, with concern. Clearly they are just trying to get things right.

"Yes, that's correct," I say. Why do they keep making me repeat this lie???

"Hmm, okay," Mr. Rogers says, motioning me over to a different table in a corner of the room.

"Come over here, to this table, let's get you all squared away." He sighs and garuphs as he moved. "There's a bunch of paperwork you need to fill out now, and blah blah blah..."

What is he talking about??? I think. I'm just trying to vote here, people? Can't you just buy my lies and let me vote and get on with my life???? Suddenly my blood pressure is through the roof....

"WAIT!" I cry. "I CAN'T...I don't...I have an idea! Why don't I run home and get a proof of residency? A utility bill or something to show that that's where I live? I used that once at the DMV. A utility bill? Will that work?" My face is bright red.

"Why, sure!" Mr. Rogers says, as though I've just invented s'mores. "Well, it's awfully inconvenient. But, if it's not too much trouble, there is a lot of paperwork involved in doing it the other way...."

"NO, no," I say, "It's not trouble at all! It's just across the street! I'll run home & come right back!"

"Okay," Mr. Rogers says, looking at me as though I've just sprouted anotehr head. "Just bring back something, anything with your name and new address...the 335 Huntington Ave address on it, and...why, you can vote!"

"Ha! Thanks so much!" I say, giggling nervously, "You've been so helpful!" I'm shoving my I.D. in my purse, grabbing my umbrella off the floor. "Happy Voting!" I call behind me as I rush for the door.

I push those massive door open and -- phew!-- finally I can breathe again! All that lying & deceit, it was almost too much to take!

I walk to work in the pouring, dumping rain. I can't catch a cab to save my life. I consider it my penance.

What a bummer Super Tuesday.

Monday, February 04, 2008

keeping my hopes up...

So, the Pats lost last night, despite my predictions yesterday. I wonder if I cursed them?

Instead of getting bogged down in the potential "meaning" of that, I am focusing on the positive:

My book proposal went out to publishers today!
I suggest we all take this moment to pour ourselves a cocktail and raise a glass! Champagne as the base, of course. Why not try this recipe for a Marilyn Monroe which I came across in a fabulous little book my boss wrote a few years back?

Marilyn Monroe

4 oz Champagne
1 oz apple brandy (Applejack)
1 tsp grenadine
2 maraschino cherries

Combine ingredients in a glass & stir. Serve with two cherries on a stick.

Cin-cin and wish me luck!

From The Daily Cocktail by Dalyn A. Miller and Larry Donovan. Buy the book here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

why I love the Patriots

I don't follow football at all (or any sport for that matter) unless one of the hometown teams is playing, it's the end of the season, and the game matters a lot. But I have to say, I am so excited about the season that the Patriots had this year (even though I didn't realize the magnitude of their success until like, last week) and I am so hoping that they win. All of this despite the fact that I am a Jersey girl, born and bred and should probably be rooting for the Giants of my youth. Here's how my unlikely fandom came to pass...

For out-of-towners, it may be easy to hate the Patriots of the last decade or so. They've had a consistently excellent record (I think) and have won several Super Bowls since 2002 or so (I'm pretty sure.) However, when this Jersey girl first moved to New Hampshire 1990, the Patriots sucked. They were a sad, sorry joke. I remember hearing natives claim the Patriots as their favorite team, and just feeling bad for these New Hampshirites with their funny accents and their lame sports teams. How sad it must feel to have your loyalty hitched to such a pathetic team.

But in retrospect, I see that the Patriots were just at a different point in their lifespan. Much like how I was when I first moved here. I was eleven years old, at the height of the notoriously, impossibly awkward stage that is pre-pubescenece when I first moved to New England. I had crooked teeth and frizzy hair that I sculpted into an unsuccessful wall of bangs. I was a few pounds overweight but in my own mind I was grossly obese, and a head taller than my twin and all the other boys in my class. Some children managed to take this kind of awkwardness in stride by becoming the boisterous, funny fat girl or the charming new kid in town that everyone likes. Not me: I wore my horribly low self-esteem on the sleeve of my over-sized grey hooded sweatshirt with wolf's face silk-screened on the chest. I had absolutely no self-confidence. In my own mind, I sucked as much as the Patriots did. And many of my brutal middle school peers did little to make me think otherwise.

Well a lot has changed around here in the past seventeen years. Those lame, losing Pats ended up with an incredible coach and world famous quarterback who is dating Gisele, the world's most famous supermodel. They are now a team that hands competitors their asses. I, too grew up: got hot, have a rich boyfriend, and am living out my dream or becoming a writer (that one hangs in the balance, mind you, but still...)

So you see? The Pats and I have a lot in common. And just as I just know the rest of my life will be as good as those interminable awkward years were bad, I just know the Pats are going to kick some ass tonight.

But if they don't win, who cares? At least they've earned the respect of the entire NFL, and become a team beside which all other teams pale in comparison.

Go Pats!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


dis·en·gage [dis-en-geyj] -gaged, -gag·ing. –verb (used with object) release from attachment or connection; loosen; unfasten: to disengage a clutch. free (oneself) from an engagement, pledge, obligation, etc.: He accepted the invitation, but was later forced to disengage himself.
3.Military. to break off action with (an enemy).
–verb (used without object) become disengaged; free oneself.

My relationship with the Ex ended a little over two years ago now. We have for the most part made amends. Every so often, we even talk on the phone -- he called me two months ago about a potential job opportunity at the New York branch of his company, for example. I'd say things are exactly where they need to be...but for one small, potently symbolic thing: the ring.

What exactly does one do with an engagement ring after their engagement has fallen apart?

When I broke the news to my friends that I was to leaving my fiance, they all were in unanimous agreement: I should keep the ring. It's interesting how worked up people get on the topic, actually. Time and again friends said things like "You'd better keep the damn thing!" or "You didn't give the ring back, did you???" GASP!! HORRORS! I was actually amazed at how important people seemed to think it was that I hold on to that expensive little piece of jewelry. As though it was somehow owed to me by his inability to follow through on his marriage promise.

Had the ring been purchased under more normal circumstances (my fiance decides to propose to me; he ventures out to the ring store and spends two months worth of his salary on a sizable diamond ring; he gets down on one knee and proposes) I would have had a much more difficult time doing as my friends advised. Since we had an unorthodox engagement (we both thought we were going to die during September 11th; in a frenzied period of fear and desperation I told him I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him; my sister in law gifted us a very large diamond that she somehow just had lying around; he got it set a few months later and gave it to me on Valentine's Day) I had no problem keeping the thing. But what to do with it when I no longer wanted to wear it?

For a long time it sat in a little glass dish with some knotted up necklaces and other costume jewelry on a plastic vanity shelf in my bathroom. I didn't think about it much. Sometimes after applying mascara and before dotting perfume on my wrists when heading out the door for a date with the Matehmatician, I'd stick my hand into the bowl and rattle it around, just to make sure the ring was still there. There's probably a better place to keep this thing, I'd think, then I'd dash out the door and move on with my night.

For a brief period after I moved into my new apartment last winter, it just sat on the mantle above the non-functioning fireplace in my bedroom. Out in the open. Exposed. Hanging out on the shelf with nothing better to do.

For a while I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do with the ring. Should I sell it? Reset the diamond and sell the setting? Recycle the setting and sell the diamond? Give it back to my sister in law? After a while, that's what I determined would be the best move. I'd get the diamond removed and deal with the setting on my own, probably by selling it and putting the money towards something greater, like my 401K or a very expensive handbag.

And today, after months and months and months of ignoring this impossibly errandy errand, I went to the Jewelry Building at 333 Washington Street and dealt with it.

"We don't buy used settings back, I'm so sorry," the Jeweler told me. "If you'd like to trade it in, perhaps look at a new piece...?" He said.

"Well, I'm not sure about that," I said. "But I want to return the center stone to my sister-in-law. Can you at least remove it from the setting for me?" I asked. I assumed I'd need to leave the ring there for him to do this, and come back and pick it up later in the week. Things like this take time, don't they?

Actually, they don't. Minutes later, the Jeweler was twisting the prongs that held the diamond in place back and forth with a pair of long, precise pliers. "Platinum," he said. "It's actually worth something. Come back when you're ready and we can discuss what you'd like to do with it."

"Okay," I smiled. "I will."

And thirty seconds later the diamond was plucked from its setting of six years, as matter-of-factly as the day I moved out of my old apartment and on with my life.

And as of today, I am officially disengaged.

I have to say, it's a good feeling.

Friday, February 01, 2008

where I wish I was maintenant

Boston blows this time of year. I left my house twice today: once to go to an intense hot yoga class at 9:30 a.m., once to meet some friends for dinner at 5:00 p.m. By the time evening rolled around it was cold, blustery, miserable and pouring rain. This is what I wish tonight looked like:

Bon soir, mes amies! Bon weekend!