Grid Lines and Aged Scotch

Hemingway drinking and writing

My friend Becca recently moved from a house where she’s lived for decades into a new place, and her writings about the move have me thinking about my own routines.

Next month will be our eighth year in this house. As I just commented on Becca’s blog, it’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my entire life, and while I love my house, and really don’t want to go through the temporary hell that is moving, I’m also having periodic bouts of antsy-ness that are getting harder and harder to quell.

I wasn’t meant to live in suburbia, but I’m spoiled by the space we have, and the pool, and the fact that our neighborhood is generally pretty safe. I mean, I don’t hate it, and it certainly isn’t one of those raw, sterile subdivisions, but it’s a lot more white-bread than I really like, and I wish there was a cafe within easy walking distance.

There is nothing like being able to walk your dog to your favorite cafe, grab a latte, and sit outside with the pooch lying near your feet, both of you people- and dog-watching. When we lived in the condo in San Jose, that was part of my routine, as was bringing my dog to work, and grabbing the best ever chicken burritos from the tiny Mexican place on the corner when I didn’t want to have lunch with other people.

Here, my routine is centered on my house. I get into bad habits, like writing in bed all day, instead of going to the Word Lounge, all of 100 feet away. I like working up there, mostly, but I hate having to go all the way back downstairs when my water glass is empty. It’s not the walking up and down that bothers me, but the fact that doing so distracts me from whatever creative flow I’ve got going.

Then again, most days I have to finish all my work before I shower, or THAT will ruin my creative flow.

Routines can be helpful things, but I don’t like mine to be so rigid that I feel trapped. I prefer broad frameworks, not tiny grid squares (and, in fact, I take perverse delight in buying pads of graph paper, and writing bad poetry across the squares, paying no attention to the lines). I like guidelines. I hate rules.

More and more, I’m convinced that great authors – Dorothy Parker, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc. – drank so much because the alcohol buzzed forced the lines to go down and the creative walls to tumble into dust.

I don’t drink that much, or terribly often, because I have little tolerance for alcohol, but there are days when I can completely see the appeal. Sometimes I find that funny.

But sometimes, it scares me.

Delicious Autumn!

And so summer has ended, and autumn has begun. It seems a bit of an anti-climactic beginning, however, since today’s high temperature was a distinctly summery 97 degrees. Autumn Running from But then, it’s not as if the earth can read a calendar, and even if the day was warm, by five-thirty the light was pale and thin, and there was an edge to the heat.

Autumn is my favorite season. I love crunching through crisp fallen leaves when I walk the dogs – hell, I love that it’s cool enough to walk the dogs without their feet burning or their owner melting into a puddle of sweaty goo. I love the different vegetables that come into season, the weather that begs for soups and stews. I love the way my creativity increases as the nights grow longer, and I love that my ritual Saturday evening baths don’t make me feel like I’m wasting hot water because it’s hot outside.

But autumn has another side, too. The side that reminds us that all things eventually wither and die, the side that reminds us that such death is a normal part of the life-cycle.

I was watching the 2006 production of Company on Netflix earlier today while folding laundry. (Raul Esparza is brilliant, by the way. His version of “Being Alive” is chilling.) There’s a line uttered by the character Joanne that goes something like, “We’re too young to be with the old people, but too old to spend time with the young people. We ARE the generation gap,” and that line really struck me today. Okay, I’m older than Robert’s 35(ish – there’s a throwaway line which suggests this is not his first 35th birthday), but our whole population is living longer, so it’s reasonable, I think, to feel similar. (Anyway, Joanne was older than Robert).

They say the unexamined life isn’t worth living. My recent examinations have taught me that I have young energy, despite being 42. (My dentist had my birthdate in front of him, and he and his assistant both thought I was barely 30). I’m not even close to my own autumn yet. If anything, I’m just entering mid-summer.

I may not be ready for the autumn of my life any time soon. But the autumn of the year? Bring it on, in all its colorful deliciousness!

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
~George Eliot

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

There are some flavors that you meet in life and just completely hate. There are others that, even if they seem weird to others, are family traditions.

Two of mine are peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which my grandmother introduced me to as a child, and liverwurst and cream cheese, which was a culinary treat from my grandfather.

Today was a peanut butter and banana kind of day – I woke with a headache and was a bit hung over from having to take migraine medicine the night before, and then, in the middle of the night, having to chase THAT with an anti-nausea pill. When I finally slept it was fitful so I was cross and bleary, as well.

So I sought solace in comfort food.

I toasted multi-grain bread and slathered it in organic peanut-butter.
I sliced ripe banana onto the peanut buttered bread.
I drizzled a hint of honey over it.
And then I put the sandwich together, and cut it into quarters.

Because I was craving it, I had the sandwich with a glass of cold, non-fat organic milk.

It was delicious.
It was comforting.
It made me miss my grandmother.

She was born on September 21, 1914.
She would have been 98 years old today.

But in a sense, she’s always with me – in the fresh flowers I always have, in the way I sing when I’m working in the house, in the way I always set our dining table correctly, even though it’s just me and Fuzzy, and in my love of written letters and proper thank-you notes.

And if a little peanut butter and some mushy fruit can bring all that back, I think I’m very lucky.

Thursday 13 – Ac-SCENT-tchu-ate the Positive

As a child, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of perfume because my mother is highly allergic to such things. I mean, she used to wear Norell from time to time, and my grandmother had a special fondness for L’aire du Temps, but other than that, my only memory of perfume was Aunt Molly’s Taboo, which smells like rice pudding in my brain, because my association between her and the family diner where rice pudding was served is so strong.

Over the last several years, though, I’ve developed a special fondness for perfumes, so even though this offering for Thursday 13 is coming in very late (it’s been an odd day) I hope you enjoy my list of 13 perfumes I really love (in no particular order).

  1. Clinique Happy: I received a sample of this when it first came out, and fell in love instantly. It’s a sunny floral, young, but not too young, and I really love it. Sadly, my bottle is now empty.
  2. Benefit So Hooked on Carmella: This is one of the Benefit “Crescent Row” scents, and it’s a bit foodie, but not too much so. It’s a good casual scent.
  3. Jennifer Aniston: While I’m not a particular fan of Jennifer Aniston as an actor, her namesake perfume, which comes in a whale-tail inspired bottle, is delightful. I bought it when I ran out of something else, and walked into ULTA and said, “I like florals and aquatics, but nothing cloying, and nothing too young, because I have young energy but I’m not twenty.” The saleswoman introduced me to this, and I really like it. It’s a little overpowering wet, but on dry-down it’s salty and sweet and pretty subtle.
  4. Vera Wang Princess: I confess, I fell in love with the box, and I was amused that the bottle is a cut-glass heart with pink glass hearts in the crown-shaped top. The scent is a crisp but sweet floral.
  5. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Intrigue: This is a foody scent with figs and smoke among the main notes. It’s a good winter scent, and I like to combine it with my burgundy stiletto ankle boots and a forest green fedora (and other clothes, of course) and pretend (in my inner monologue only) that I’m a modern-day Mata Hari.
  6. Possets Silver Carnations: It’s a clove-y carnation scent but there’s something slinky and silvery about it. It reminds me of violets, in that once you get a whiff of it, you stop smelling it until suddenly, you catch the scent again.
  7. Escada Moon Sparkle: Fruity and sparkly, this scent is one that my husband particularly responds to. I wear it often when he’s just come home from a business trip.
  8. Possets Frou-Frou: Anyone who knows me will hardly be surprised that I am a fan of a perfume called ‘frou-frou.’ It’s got some figgy notes, but it’s also playful, and for a long time it was my signature scent.
  9. Bulgari Mon Jasmin Noir: I just got a sample of this in the September Birchbox, and I’m already really hooked on it – which is amazing, because I don’t really like jasmine most of the time.
  10. Christian Dior Miss Dior: This is another Birchbox sample, from a couple of months ago. It’s a little young, but it’s also classic.
  11. Benefit Lookin’ to Rock Rita: Another “Crescent Row” scent, clean, fresh, fun, and a little bit edgy.
  12. Juicy Coutour Viva la Juicy La Fleur: This is such a happy, playful scent, I can’t not love it. Really.
  13. Black Phoenix Jester: A great scent for summer, this has strawberries and currants, but still manages not to be horrifyingly sweet. This is Fuzzy’s favorite perfume of mine, but I’ve run out of it. Twice.

perfume bottles on glass shelf from istockphoto


This is quick because I’m really, really tired.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon at the dentist. Now, my dentist is awesome, as dentists go, but still, having drills and hooks and needles inside your mouth is never fun.

I have the worst teeth in the known universe. Although, my grandmother had false teeth at forty. So, maybe that should be almost the worst teeth.

Today’s visit was to have the impression taken for a crown on a tooth that was given a temporary filling three years ago. (Did I mention I hate going to the dentist, even though I like the dentist himself?) So, now there’s a temporary crown, instead of a gaping hole (because the temporary filling crumbled a couple weeks ago), and my mouth feels weird.

Like it’s too toothy.

Yeah, I know, first world problems.

Seven things

It’s a bit after eleven, and I’m tired, so a list post is all I have time for. Seven things I did today:

  1. Breakfast. Usually I just have a protein shake. Today I had fluffy, fluffy scrambled eggs.
  2. Media. I’ve become addicted to recently. I especially like streaming it over my Google tv, because I’m old-school and don’t like watching things on my computer screen.
  3. Dogs: Our foster-dog, Minnie the Pocket Pointer, is learning how to be an inside dog. She spent most of the day running around the house, and didn’t have any indoor accidents.
  4. Exercise: I had a really long (but at a low weight) workout on the weight machine, because I’ve mostly been swimming all summer, and now the water’s too cold.
  5. Water: For the first time in days, or weeks, I’ve had enough water. I don’t like drinking water, so for me, this is a major achievement.
  6. Reading: I’m in the middle of a supernatural mystery/thriller about an interdimensional jewel thief. It’s really good, and I can’t wait to finish. For those keeping score, it’s an actual paper book, not a Kindle file.
  7. Writing: Spent the last two hours editing an interview for All Things Girl. It goes live at 7:00 tomorrow morning.

Time to watch Bones and then head to bed.