Tuesday, March 30, 2010


In my twenties, I briefly dated a guy that I picked up in a philosophy class. He was a lovely, highly entertaining fellow who, on the the few coffee shop dates we had, managed to make me laugh and make no Star Trek references. Big. Bonus. So when he asked me if I would have dinner at his place, I jumped at the chance. Not only would it be a perfect way to see if I was ready to take it to the next level (which in university-days parlance meant heavy petting before dinner and full-scale contemplation of whether I would have my panties off before the dessert course) but I could also see what his apartment looked like. Ah youth!

In this case, however, it was all over for before the salad ever hit the table. What did me in, intraweb, was the bookshelf. One look was all it took for me to realize that this was not the guy for me.

Me (a signed copy of Joe Clark's memoirs book in hand): Did you have to read this for class?
He: No. Why?
Me: Is Joe Clark a blood relative of yours, then?
He (proudly - no! - defiantly): The guys a fucking genius.

Check, please!

If the eyes are the windows to the soul than bookshelves are the window to the mind. Here are a few nice ones.


See what I mean?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy are Those....

A few months after graduating from university, a friend of mine and I embarked on a holy crusade, of sorts. She was heading to do her PhD in American studies at Notre Dame and had been awarded a research grant to study landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement. I was unemployed and looking for something to inspire me beyond wine binges and Godfather marathons with my best friend at the time (and eventual husband....).
It was a road trip in that grandest sense of the word. We had both been inspired by the Movement - having read about it and written papers about it for the better part of 2 years- and we were still young and impressionable enough to believe that the history that we'd read about might move us beyond the dates, times and places that they represented. So much so that we knocked on the doors of the very people we'd read about in books and they let us in, sharing, eating, laughing and praying with us and enriching our lives beyond measure. It was powerful, life changing stuff.
One of my favorite moments of the entire trip was going to listen to a speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, given by John Lewis. It was at the tail end of our trip and we had a choice: dinner at Denny's with our last few dollars or the speech. For once, I didn't let my stomach do the talking.
Mr. Lewis was then - as he still is - a Congressman for the State of Georgia. He'd spoken at the March on Washington of 1963, addressing the same crowd that heard Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. A few months before that famous speech, he'd been beaten mercilessly on the Freedom Rides that crisscrossed the South to desegregate bus travel and been arrested more than 40 times in his efforts to fight for civil rights for his community. And yet what I remember most vividly about that warm summer day in Atlanta 20 years later, was that he spoke without a single trace of bitterness. I can still hear, like yesterday, the pride and conviction that resonated as he emparted his efforts to make his country a better place.
Last weekend, while on the way to vote on the Health Care bill, Mr. Lewis was forced to walk a gauntlet of angry Tea Party protesters. He was spat upon and called a nigger. He said later, after the vote passed by a slim margin, that though he was happy the bill had passed, that it had come at a price. It wasn't the words that hurt so much, he said, but the venom with which they'd been spoken. Like he hadn't heard in more that 40 years since I stepped off that bus.
Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true, he'd said all those years ago. What a price to pay, is all I keep thinking.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dreaming of You

This is the bike that I am seriously thinking of getting:

Batavus Favoriet Step-Through
Should I get it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Madness

Originally uploaded by Hel Des
As many of you may already know, for many years I worked as an independent contractor for several professional sports leagues. Though my title was "Production Coordinator - Entertainment Department", I frequently left it out preferring, instead, to tell people that I was a stringer for the Cubs or a goalie for the Habs. The lie/joke vascillated wildly based on who I was working for at the time and what I was trying to get for free. Usually drinks on a plane.

Despite the fun-sounding title, the job was challenging: the work was detail-oriented, the hours long and the rewards tremendous. I met interesting people, got a bird's eye view of a rarified environment and ate more convention centre sandwiches than seemed humanly possible.

I also got to see how professional athletes were treated. Most of us know that the world of the professional athlete is a one of entitlement and esteem - some rightfully deserved and earned, some not. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, though, there can be no disputing that most of us would like to know what it feels like to step into their Air Jordan's for a day or two.

For one glorious month in 1999, I was mistaken for a professional athlete. I was doing a show in Cleveland for Major League Baseball where we'd been set up in corporate apartments not too far from the convention center where we worked. The apartment complex was one of the few of its kind in the downtown core and what set it apart from the others was that it provided "Valet Service".

Our valet was Mary. Mary was a well-coiffed matronly black lady well past retirement age who was blessed with the sweetest temperament but virtually no skills that might serve her as valet. She frequently botched simply dry-cleaning orders ("Oh, you wanted these pressed? I thought you said steamed.....), couldn't recommend a single restaurant in the area ("I eat at home, dear. And so should you!") and when you were able to to talk her out of giving you a casserole recipe that you might "whip up in NO time!" and make a reservation, she frequently got the time wrong or made it at another restaurant entirely. She was more grandmother-let than valet.

Though Mary was the one who had checked me in on the MLB dime, handed me my key and given me a full tour of the workout facility, she got it in her mind that I was a member of the Lady Cavs basketball team, who also just happened to live in our "full-service" building. And so every night, after I'd drag my tired ass back home, I would be greeted by Mary, a giant smile on her face, asking in the most coquettish of voices: Did you win your game last night?

The first few days, it took me beat or two to respond. What the Hell is this lady on about? Who does she think I am? And then I would remember the lithe, attractive pituitary cases that I worked out with every morning at 6 and think, Ah yes! Mary thinks I'm a Lady Cav. And, like an idiot, I would make an effort to set her straight.

I don't play professional basketball, Mary, I would say. I work for MLB. In their entertainment department. You checked me in. Remember? To which she would respond, in what I couldn't distinguish as either mock-outrage or utter confusion, You DON'T? HMMMMM......I thought you did!!!

The first week, it was funny. I came to look forward to it. By the second week, however, it was driving me nuts. How many times do I have to re-live this moment, I kept asking myself. By week three, I had reached acceptance. I am a Lady Cav, I decided. I accepted Mary lie and ran with it.

My game was fantastic, Mary. I scored 12 points.
My achille's heel is killing me , Mary. I'm going upstairs to soak it.
The girls aren't passing enough, Mary. It may jeopardize our play-off chances.

Each time, Mary would respond in kind: clapping her hands, tsking bad behaviours, oooh-ing and ahh-ing on cue. We even high-fived once. Mary wanted to adore me as a professional athlete, not as a Production Coordinator. And who the Hell was I to stop her?

And then it dawned on me: Mary wasn't bad at her job, at all. No, she hadn't been able to do a thing that I wanted the entire month but she had provided something that I didn't even know I needed: A story to dine out on for the rest of my life. Thanks for that, Mary. Thanks a bunch!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Loco Corazon

Hey Intraweb-

It's Oscar weekend! Super Bowl for Ladies and Gay Men. The couture Olympics. Straight Man Hell. I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and....well, you know where I'm going with this.

Today, my son is sick with sore throat and cold (Thanks, Universe). I was going to nurse him back to health by making him soup and forcing him to stay in bed but instead, we're going to the 11:35 AM screening of Avatar. (I'll be picking up my parenting Oscar after the screening, BTW.)

In further, Oscar news, I will also attend a nighttime screening of Crazy Heart. Sigh. Do you think there will be hard drinking and car crashes in this film? It is a movie about a country singer who bears an almost uncomfortable resemblance to Kris Kristopherson. Just saying....

Oscar night's are either filled with surprises or deathly boring. Ever the optimist, I hold out hope that this year's telecast won't make me lose my will to live. I hope the hosts don't disappoint (Go Jack Donaghy, Go!), that the fashion don't make me hurl... too much (More Bjork! More Bjork!) and that James Cameron will paste a fake smile on his smug-ass face and squirm uncomfortably while his ex-wife pounds him into dust in the Best Director catergory. Holla!

But, only time will tell. Enjoy!