The Battlefield Where the Girls Say I Love You

That's just the thing: we will never tell you we love you. In fact, we're here only to hold hands across state lines and yell at the world. We're here to try to touch you across this chasm of flown things. Not even that. At most, I will teach you how to make a gin smoothie when there's nothing left in the house. Hannah can teach you several languages and what to do when your car breaks up with you. Thanks for coming out.

Monday, April 28, 2008


so, no matter that not one goal was scored yesterday. morgan's pretty much the most ballin'ous soccer player on the bumblebee team. nay, in the league.

Monday, April 21, 2008

averaged out, we make precisely one normal person

On Saturday, my neighbor knocked on the door and told me she had the perfect solution to my apartment search. At exactly this time, in an alternate universe, Mamie was draping herself in oversized gold chains before going out dancing.

I’m having to move out of my place, because I don’t want a roommate. When my neighbor said she had an idea, I thought that idea would have hardwood floors and river views. Predictably, what the idea actually had was an 86 year old woman. “It was Mother’s idea,” the neighbor told me, “and it’s just a stroke of genius. You would be perfect roommates.”

Mamie ate dinner out on Sunday and was so confused about who secretly paid for her tab that she had to sweepingly thank six men before walking out. Me, I’m listening to my neighbor tell me Mother’s young at heart, likes to go out to eat, and rarely dresses. “But that’s okay, I told Mother you weren’t a social snob.”

Mamie and her boyfriend are getting tattoos together. Hers will be a tiger lily.

Mother doesn’t mind if I have a boyfriend, he just can’t be a live-in boyfriend. “He can stay the night,” my neighbor assured me, “I mean, you’re young and pretty, we don’t expect you to be a nun.” I must not have said anything, because she waited and went on, “I KNOW you’re not a nun.” Oh my god.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s Mamie: one million, Hannah: one grandmother.

Monday, April 14, 2008

we have so much in common that doesn't matter.

more. i know. more.

1. hannah just realized i haven't read tim o'brien's the things they carried. not even the short story that bears the same name. it sent her into a total tail spin. i seriously think she's pacing right now, wondering how she should best handle the situation.

on the phone she says, "i guess i should take the wine out of the freezer," to which i respond with, "WE'RE TOTALLY THE SAME PERSON!" because i, too, left a bottle of whitehaven in the freezer overnight.

then, i say, "undergrad promised to get a haircut today, but when i came home he hadn't and was, instead, wearing a baseball uniform." backstory: he's growing his hair out and, as hannah put it, the back's partying harder than the front. and he used to have this cool faux hawk thing. no matter.

so i say, "i mean, i like him just the way he is."

hannah: you don't mean that, do you?

me: yeah. like the line from bridget jones.

hannah: oh, i don't feel that way about anyone. like you, i wish you would be kinder and more generous to me with your money.

2. my students had prom this weekend. so today, they tell me that one received a 1300 dollar laptop as a DOOR PRIZE. or something like that. then they say, "and so-and-so got a wii. and a zoom. and a stereo." i have no idea why they received booty for dancing to M.I.A. and being great kids in general. but then, then someone says, "and two people got GPS systems." okay, these kids don't drive. it's a BOARDING SCHOOL, people.

i tell hannah this a she says, calmly, "it's like when l'il bow wow bought all those cars when he was, like, twelve." which is something i would say.

3. okay, so i read this joyce carol oates story a few years back about a woman who becomes pregnant with twins by different fathers. hannah and i have been arguing about this for days: it's not possible for that to actually happen, right?

4. also, also tonight at the gym i left the treadmill to go make an appointment at the front desk. i left my JACKET on the TV screen/monitor thing, my towel on the arm, and my earphones in some nook. when i returned, a man had begun walking on the treadmill. hadn't touched a thing. just saw the jacket, etc. and proceeded to hop on. when i passive agressively went to remove the jacket, he HELPED me retrieve the other stuff. so i passive aggressively moved all of it to the treadmill right next to his and settled in for 106 & park.

i wore heels to a pig picking and other stories from the weekend.

a few things:

1. the people with whom i enjoy talking on the phone most have small children. that, or they're 8 months pregnant. which means, of course, our conversations are mainly between the mother (surrogate or otherwise) and the child. i say, "oh my god, hannah. we're still unpacking, and i just found a copy of sally's thesis and photographs from college wherein i'm wearing too much make-up and always holding a coors light dooce-dooce." to which she says, "stop trying to get your brother in trouble. he can play all by himself if he wants. put down the potted plant and go to your room."

then, i call molly and say, "it just sucks that we have this nice ceiling fan/light that's remote controlled and the last tenants didn't leave the controller, so i can't turn it on or off." to which she says, "gavin left me here with the kids all day while he went to play baseball and i just realized he has both carseats and, thus, we can't leave the house for twelve hours."

2. hannah's teetering on the edge, by which i mean she's had a frustrating few days. let's just say, aaron managed to break her car window. oh, and she doesn't really sleep at all. i worked the two busiest days ever at the restaurant, where the hostesses (bless their vacant hearts) began seating 20 people in my section a half hour before opening, while i was still in a sundress and sandals, polishing silverware. then an entire table spoke to me as if i were a dog. as in, "good girl! you're such a good girl!" in these weird voices. then i yelled at a foodrunner i'd never met before, tried to give cash to the underappreciated dishwashers (who thought i wanted something in return). finally, when it was calm again, a coworker began talking about how nice her husband is, how he washes her car and runs her baths. and i said, "yeah, undergrad is so great that sometimes i look at him and think, why are you so nice to me?" to this, another waitress said, "well there is this book called, why men love bitches."

so anyway, hannah and i have been answering the phone by saying "thank you" instead of "hello." we've been treating each other carefully and with empathetic responses, much in the same way you'd help an elderly woman cross the street.

3. morgan had her first soccer game saturday. i was sure she'd be less than awesome, what with her awkward run and, well, the gene pool. when i lived in charleston, the ex coached 5 and 6 year-old coed club soccer, and i always related best to the one pudgy girl who sort of drifted off the field whenever she felt like it. as in, she'd run her little butt off for, oh, 2 minutes before strutting over to see what kind of flower bloomed in the grass by the parking lot.

i was fully prepared to console morgan...but she's a phenom. it's the weirdest thing. she scored the only two goals for her team. and, with little people, it's only 3 on 3...which somehow hikes up the stakes. forget chuck klosterman's essay in sex, drugs and cocoa puffs:

the truth is that most children don't love soccer; they just hate the alternatives. for 60 percent of adolescents in a fourth grade classroom, sports are a humiliation waiting to happen...this is why soccer seems like a respite from all that mortification; it's the one aerobic activity where nothingness is expected. soccer feels fun because its not terrifying-- it's the only sport where you can't fuck up.

jerk. and i don't trust anyone who loves the semi-colon as much as him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

badges? we don't need no stinkin' badges.

i learned early in girl scout troop 141 that one's life motto is to "be prepared." i was kicked out of scouts the very same year for talking trash about the leader on a stayover at camp mary elizabeth. well, for that and for refusing to earn badges.

there is something to be said for never running out of, oh, i don't know: dish sponges, peanut butter, frozen tortellini, toilet paper, cases of corbet canyon chardonnay. i prefer the rebellious life, never knowing if i'll have enough shampoo to get me through friday.

the first sam's club opened in midwest city, oklahoma in the spring of 1983. by the mid-eighties my parents were star struck. we managed to buy cases of stoffer's frozen tortellini (at 19 cents a serving) and our first VCR all at the very same place.

my childhood best friend had six brothers and sisters. her home seemed forever stocked with gigantic tubs of condiments--mayonaise, salsa, grape jelly, ketchup. in the freezer were hundreds of those frozen push-up things made entirely out of sugar, food coloring, and water. on afternoons when we were particularly desperate for sustanance, we ate tortillas filled only with salsa.

my jewish friend jennifer's mother came home once with decades worth of matzah and, about a year ago, my father called me breathless: "your mother and i just did the math and, if we buy cases of corbet canyon instead of alice white chardonnay, we save close to 2 grand a year!"

last week my mother joined costco, saying, "your father has a membership to sam's, and now i've got my own to costco. it's like his and hers bulk shopping." in my head was the eery echo of will ferrell's voice...bed bath and beyond...i don't know if we'll have time.

i fear bulk and feel completely jittery when i'm too stocked. obviously, this has much to do with an obvious fear of commitment, of settling down in one home or city for too long. and there's also the fickleness. why buy two huge bottles of paul mitchell when i might find a better, more attractive option next month? this from a woman who only fills her gas tank up with 10 dollars each time, SURE gases prices will be better later in the week or at another station.

yesterday, when asked about her reporting/interviewing approach, susan orlean said, "i believe in being unprepared. the only preparation, really, is being truly interested in your subject."

so, i've been staying with he-who-will-be-referred-to-as-undergrad for most of the week while transitioning from old house to new. mondays are his days off from work, when he does exactly what you think he'd do--shops for softball uniforms and bats, takes it to the batting cages with a friend, eats sushi for lunch, and goes out with two other guys to shop for grills at the local sam's club.

this is not what's interesting. what i appreciate most about this man is that he comes home without a grill but with a year's supply of girly body wash. we're talking white tea extract infused dial with vitamin e exfoliating beads. i could have bathed with axe for months and not noticed that i smelled like a man.

if carnations and movie dates involving wesley snipes and on-line tetrus and dinners at on the border are symbols of a man who doesn't know what a woman wants, then the body wash cannot be emphasized and appreciated enough.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

holy god, then there's this guy

Recently widowed man looking for room to share (Wilmington,NC) (map)
Reply to:
Date: 2008-04-07, 9:56AM EDT

My name is Joseph and I moved back to Wilmington 7 months ago when my wife of 26 years suddenly passed away. My sister lives here and invited me to stay with her until I had healed some and got on my feet, but after about two months she found out that she has breast cancer so I moved out to an apartment to give them their space. I am in a bind now. I am a self-employed interior trim carpenter and business has been very slow recently so I cannot afford my apartment by myself any longer. Idealy, I would like to find a house or apartment to share that needs work and I would work for part of the rent or all if it needs to be remodeled. I would live there while remodeling. If there are any women that live alone that need a man around the house and have a room they are willing to rent or trade for work I would do that also. I have got to find somewhere to live by the end of the month or I am going to be homeless. I am also expecting a pretty large settlement check from workers compensation in Seattle because I had to have carpal-tunnel operations on both hands. I can cook, clean,paint, any carpentry and lots more.

This post could also read: Serial killer from 1978 seeks roommate.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

decor: a day late and several ben harper posters short

at my niece's roller-skating birthday party, i was surprised when all the kids laughed at me as i laced up my skates. "what's so funny?" i asked morgan. "aunt mamie," she said, embarrassed by my naivete, "you're way too old to roller skate."

when, twenty years ago, my sister misbehaved at a dinner party, my father grabbed her by the arm and snapped, "act your age." to which she hissed back, "i'm only eight, dad."

every so often, i'm forced to make a decision that employs the question of age. one friday night a few years ago, my first semester teaching, i put on one of those cut-off denim skirts with flat knee boots and a sweater. initially i'd rationalized that i had found a nice balance between cover and exposure but then envisioned myself running into the dean on front street.
when morgan asked my sister, "why don't aunt mamie's underwear have backs on them," molly answered, "used to be, none of aunt mamie's clothes had backs to them." and i remembered all the shirts held together only with string, the dresses that involved lightening bolt cut-outs, short shorts with wedge heels...i shudder at the thought.
because i've just moved into this new place, my uber-feminine counter parts have been discussing style. "i once thought you much more contemporary," my mother says. "whatever," hannah says, "you're obviously english cottage." these terms mean little to me and thus my house is decorated with antique furniture, one neon green desk chair i stole from an ex boyfriend, some very nice art but also the museum prints and billy holiday posters from college, a chest of drawers with no drawers...little use of methodology as it were.
but i've been trying to grow up. to maintain fresh cut flowers on some used dining room table. to host dinner parties (a custom both foreign and exotic to some of my high school students: who cooks at those things? do you talk about books?).
and so, of course, my karma is that i date a man whose house is represented by the above photographs. i didn't take them. he, late at night (perhaps, as hannah suggested, thinking all things fleeting), flashed these himself. what he missed: a ben harper poster, one tie-dyed TAPESTRY, two turn tables and a microphone, antique bowling bags, one jam box, a shelf entitled "accoutrement corner" that houses costume items to wear for fun, and ROCK BAND the game. and i hesitated to tell you this part--several young life stickers holding stubbornly to guitar cases.
hannah calls this house "undergrad." as in, "having fun at undergrad? who all's hanging out at undergrad?" but she asks with a hint of nostalgia in her voice...
by the way, hannah line of the week. she, in a fit of accusatory rage, asks, "i mean, mamie, don't these people have a shred of laziness?"