Monday, February 26, 2007


Everyone here keeps saying how droughtish we are and how much we need this constant sog, but I can’t stand it. I’m wringing my hands and wandering around the house picking up objects and putting them down again, and I need more sun. In Charleston, we have great big crashing thunderstorms and drama and torrential downpours, but then, it’s over. There isn’t this lingering drizzly pall for days on end, where the dog won’t go outside unless propelled by a booted foot, and all my coats are damp, and its so depressing. What is with this rain?

I guess, on the other hand, that it means snow, and YES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, this is essential because I now have SKIS! Cross country ones. And ski boots and ski poles and ski gloves and a brand new spanking pair of somewhat flattering ski pants. I say somewhat flattering, because I’ll be damned if women’s ski products have changed since George Mallory. If they aren’t jammed up your hiney in ways that make it impossible to sit, then they force un-hardcore types like moi to reenact Hammertime in the foyer of the Marmot store. I know that the important thing is their wicking function and sub-zero wind sheer, but who skis in parachute pants? Simons, who used to work at Marmot after college and was talking with all of his outdoor buddies and using ridiculous phrases like “agro” and “jammin’ uphill” and “totally sweet solo ascent on Whitney,” tried to pretend like we were not together. The truth is he’s just jealous that he and MC Hammer aren’t tight.

And guess what else I bought this weekend! Guess! Guess! You’ll never guess. (And you won’t care when I tell you.) Here’s a hint: it involves sheep. No, it wasn’t an early anniversary gift for Simons. It’s wool!

Sonia and I attended Stitches West on Saturday, which is a knitting conference . There, we rolled around in vats of cashmere and alpaca and fended off other buyers with pointy sticks…because we’re cool like that. Seriously, there was fancy yak wool that cost $65 per 20 grams or so, and handcarved rosewood needles and trendy knitting bags and every kind of yarn and knitted lingerie and books and koigu galore. Every pattern and fiber and spinning wheel and loom under the sun was in one building, and Sonia and I scurried around like the yarn harlots we are, and I spent at least five hours worth of writing on enough wool for a new fancy finger weight scarf and an alpaca sweater in cream. And I bought needle bags and patterns and a new Kenya market basket to hold everything in…although I refuse to feel any remorse for that, since the woman was there representing a basket weaving co-op in Kenya and Tanzania. And if you’ve ever been there, you know if anything is going to get better in rural Africa, it’s the women who are going to do it.

So soon the yarn for Andy and Harriott’s wedding present will be here, which will take me months, and I also have enough yarn for two scarves, four or five hats, one more baby sweater, five pairs of baby booties, two sweaters, four pairs of socks and a shawl. I’d take pictures but my camera is broken. And no one cares except me anyway, especially not Simons who cackles every time a moth flies through the window and I have a panic attack. He is bored rigid by wool.

For instance, I nearly brought the alpaca to Holly’s dinner party on Friday, but Simons said, “Why? Is the sweater for her? No? Well, then why would she care?” And he has a point. So I went with wine and chocolate bread pudding and Provencal napkins instead, and we drank FAR, FAR too much wine, and ate almost enough cheese to satisfy even me. Holly is an excellent cook, and her quiche and gratin potatoes with gruyere and lashings (I love that word) of crème were fabulous. I wanted to take some home but felt tacky asking. Their apartment has rewarded their many hours of suffering and trips across the bay to Ikea and Target by being positively adorable and monochromatic except for these glorious splashes of color from Sean’s photographs of their Asian adventures. Hopefully Sean will recuperate enough so that they can accompany us on our Tahoe trip next weekend, so Holly, GO BUY SKIS!

And one last thing, did anyone else feel sorry for Peter O’Toole last night? I didn’t even see Venus, and I wanted him to win. Poor old guy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Want to hear a lot of whining, come sit by me...

Oh, Internet, you're so nice to me. You compliment my wedding dress and agree that my husband has adorable dimples and give me pat-pats for my scary girl problems. It was such a relief just to write about it, I really feel much better now. Only one more week until I get this all taken care of, and if I’ve lasted three weeks, one more won’t kill me. Unless, of course, it does…(cough, cough, lolls weakly on the couch)

In case you’ve been wondering how I’ve been spending my time, let me report that Simons’ sweater, the one I’ve been knitting since Christmas, is at the finisher's getting its zipper put in. After all that work, I wasn’t about to screw it up by sewing it. All in all, this sweater will have taken two and a half months (three and a half counting the wait for the yarn to come from Uruguay) and about $200. I could have purchased him the same sweater made from the chin hairs of infant Ibex goats for the same price and he would have had it immediately. He wouldn’t have had to see me rip it out and reknit it at least four times and curse and cry and screech and rip, rip, rip, redo. God, I hope the damned thing fits.

We also took a trip down to Big Sur for the President’s Day weekend.
It was awesome. And I mean that in the Victorian sense of the word, because every time we turned a corner, our jaws dropped and Simons nearly swerved off the highway. There were so many tiny coves, smashed with spectacular blue waves and foam and insane rock formations, all very violent and dramatic.
I was terrified that Sim would try to surf something just on the principle of being there, but he did not. Instead, we found a bakery with croissants the size of your head, and we hiked in Los Padres National Forest, which allows dogs. So Beulah charged about on the trail and greeted everyone and swam underwater in extremely cold mountain streams with just her little wagging bottom poking out, because she is a crazy dog. We are determined to go back and spend three or four days backpacking there, so we can make it to the Sykes hot springs. At a ten mile hike, it was far too long to do in one day, and we’ve been looking for a place where we can bring Dog and spend a few days in the backcountry. The redwoods are unbelievable, and what better way to end a hard day of hiking with a soak in a secluded hot spring?

It’s a good thing the weekend was so lovely, because yesterday was a craptacular waste of time. I finished my work, wrangled with clients WHO DON’T READ THE WORK I SEND IN AND THEN ASK ME 45 QUESTIONS ABOUT IT THAT WOULD BE SELF EXPLANATORY HAD THEY BOTHERED. Said clients might also go back in their email messages and see where I requested photo specs WEEKS AGO, so how could it possibly be an emergency NOW?

Ahem, excuse me…

And then I stocked the house with food, baked muffins, cooked, stirred and chopped AND did eight loads of laundry. Eight, people. And when my husband came home from work, did he remark in the nicely folded mountain of boxers on the bed? No. Did he dance around at the scent of banana peanut butter muffins permeating our sparkly clean apartment? No he did not. Did he exclaim over the food I’d made him for him to take for lunch today, or over the penne with chicken, mushrooms and asparagus in lemon cream sauce I made for dinner? The answer is NO. NO! NO! and NO!

In other unpleasant news, I am growing horns. On my face. In the manner of an unattractive adolescent rhinoceros. Or maybe it is a second- third- and fourth-head sprouting, since I am so smart that my primary brain cannot contain my brilliance and requires backup for mundane matters…such as PARKING. Have any of you people ever gotten a $500 parking ticket? Does that seem somewhat unconscionable to you? Does anyone have any experience with persuading the California DMV to at least halve the fine? Who do I sign the firstborn child over to?

And for anyone who is already calling the SPCA on my landlord, go ahead and call it on me. Beulah has been spanked and tied to the back door this morning for stealing banana peanut butter muffins FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE, and later scolded and threatened about a jillion times with eternal bucketdom for feasting on her tasty ear medicine. God, I swear that stuff must taste like cream cheese frosting to her, because the second I put it in, she’s got half her hind leg rammed down there. Grooooooss! Anyway, this table thievery has to stop, since it’s giving her rotten indigestion. After she stole a bunch of lamb from the table during the 8th Annual I Hate Valentine’s Day Dinner Party Extravaganza, she had ED for three days. Now that is not cool.

I really need to get out more.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Okay, yes, I’ve been in hiding lately. I’ve had good reasons and bad reasons. The first is that I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say about the ball. I know that some people would prefer that I say nothing, and some would prefer a scathing reproach for the whole social convention. I don't really feel like either is appropriate, so I'll just tell you what it was like.

Simons and I had a lovely time and danced until two something and then stayed up till three admiring me in my wedding dress (or maybe it was just me admiring me). It fit like a glove, by the way, even slightly better than at the wedding, when perhaps I had been doing too much comfort eating. (Doubtless that was the last time I shall ever wear it, and the trauma of taking it off necessitated about fourteen cell phone pictures, some of which got sent to Holly in a fit of drunk text messaging.)

The ball was preceded by a beautiful cocktail party, and it felt like walking into another time, what with Charleston’s carriage blocks out front and the chandeliers and the ball gowns in every hue and cut imaginable. I was forced to stand in a corner, since my dress is not, shall we say, maneuverable, and was stood upon numerous times, most particularly by my husband, who was extremely handsome in his tails. Extremely handsome. Did I mention that he was handsome? So, so, so handsome? He really was.

[cold shower]

Simons and his sweet father, who was positively on a TEAR with excited bossiness, fetched me water and hors d’oeuvres, so the trapped-in-the-corner thing worked out nicely. People came by and chatted and stood on my dress and brought snacks and I did not pour anything down my front, which was a miracle of genetic resistance. Several people took pictures that turned out too white, thanks to my enormous expanse of white satin -- I said to put it in "snow" mode, but would anyone listen? Finally, Simons' dad insisted on driving us the three block trip to the Hibernian. I really wanted to walk, since, although chilly, I had my black opera cloak (yessss, finally an opportunity to wear it) and being tossed into a car with your petticoats flung up around your ears is most undignified, but I was overpowered and stuffed with absolutely no ceremony into a small sedan and sat grumpily wishing I’d never agreed to any of it. That soon passed, fortunately.

The hall was resplendent with flowers, and gentlemen in tails waiting to escort the ladies to the powder room, to repair bustles and sashes, powder noses, tape bosoms and various such feminine activities. The funny part was being “corralled” afterwards while waiting for one’s escort to come fetch you, since ladies must not walk anywhere alone…I daresay we might take over the world otherwise. I did wonder, what happens if a husband and wife get in a fight on the way there? Can he just leave her in the powder room all night? Would she sit there, impotently gnashing her teeth, plotting revenge and pacing the corral like a rabid mustang? Simons and I didn't fight, so I never had to find out.

The dancing was lovely, despite all of the…ahem, dancers. They really should dispense with the foxtrotting. No one foxtrots anymore. The box step is hard enough for most men without adding a toe touch in there to muddle them even worse. The waltzing went much better. Since this was the first year they allowed divorcees to attend, it was quite a crush (don’t I sound like Danielle Steele?) and the Grand Cotillions a work of multiple logisticians, with curlicues and waves and much rustling of skirts and imperious sweeping about. One went on so long, the maestro played every single marching song he knew, from America the Beautiful to Yankee Doodle.

Mr. X and I lead the march into supper, which was superb. He and his bride had the whole table collapsing with laughter, with stories of her French pug’s day in court. I wish I had a recording. The champagne was excellent, and I trust I did not drink so much that I discredited myself. Sim and I returned to the dance floor, where I danced with the most charming young marine, who was one of those people who really listens when you speak, which means you can’t just prattle on with absurd small talk. After speaking to him, Simons looked completely embarrassed and said he realized the same thing halfway through and had to stop talking out of his ass and really say something meaningful. He thought he’d convinced the guy to become an architect, he was so genuinely interested in Simons’ conversation. We both felt a little humble that this nice, gentlemanly kid had already been to Falujah three times.

Anyway, that was the ball, and now you know as much about the whole affair as I do. Lots of people said stuff to me about my blog, none of it bad, although it made me fairly twitchy. But that’s not the reason I haven’t been blogging.

The reason I haven’t been blogging is that my doctor told me I might have cervical cancer. This sucks in more ways than I know how to count. First, the way she told me was rather unfortunate. Her nurse called at ten till seven, forgetting the time difference, and said, “Hi, it’s Ann, Dr. Baker’s nurse. Did you get her message about your precancerous test results?

And I said, “No.”

And she went on about biopsies and other scary words that equal death and pain and not being around to admire my husband’s dimples every morning, until it suddenly occurred to her that I had said No and that I meant No and that she was scaring the crap out of me. So she transferred me to the doctor who talked me off the ledge and said I was “precancerous” which is not the same thing as “cancerous” at all.

The other thing that stinks is that it is very hard to find a doctor one feels comfortable with, and now I have to find a second one out here. And this new doctor can’t even see me until March 1. I heartily disapprove of anyone who gives you shitty news and then won’t let you fix whatever is wrong for thirty days. It’s just unfair.

I’m feeling enormously defective and stupid and nervous and tense, and all of this must continue for another few weeks, which just sucks, sucks, sucks.

So it may be something bad. It may be fixable. It may be nothing at all. But I didn’t want to tell all of you people until I had told my mom. Because my mom loves nothing more than a crisis, and can become unbearably managing in the event of one. On occasion, she will invent a crisis where there is none, just so she can manage it with the utmost of efficiency. For those of us who are not nearly so efficient, but who are thirty years old and occasionally like to feel in control of our lives, her normally endearing disaster management talents can become, shall we say, eye-bleedingly annoying?

So…I had nothing to think or write about beyond this one issue, and was positively exploding with the need to talk about it, but couldn’t tell my mother, because she would read about it and then the managing would happen and then the tears and remorse and finally the multiple phone calls with “helpful” information from various doctors and researchers and strangers she had found to take care of the problem. I had just a scrap of rational brain matter to get on with work and breathing and trying not to feel defective without all that. So, I’m sorry you had to wait, but there it is. Mom knows, and Mom has gritted her teeth and pulled up her socks and is going to let me handle this, all the while being there, gently and silently panicking, which I am grateful for….the being there part, not the panicking. Because although I said she loves nothing more than a crisis, I reckon she does. She loves me more.

Anyway, I'm sorry you had to wait, but I had good reason.