Saturday, March 29, 2008

Waitin' For The Robert E. Lee

No, actually, I'm waiting until I finish my beer and then I'm heading over to the East Village for a friend's birthday get-together with a bunch of actors with whom I've done a couple of shows. We are all VERY good friends because one of the shows most of us did together was a production of Richard III that was so unutterably ghastly that we feel about each other as I've heard men who fought a war together do - by God, we survived.

This Richard was a production bankrolled by a child psychiatrist who had always wanted to play Richard and had studied the role in acting class and had many fascinating ideas about the production - one of which, God help us, was that it was set in a post-Apocalyptic future (see Mad Max). Therefore we were all dressed in what we could "salvage out of the ruins of civilization." (Yeah, that looked exactly as awful as you think it might.) This shrink was also playing Richard - unfortunately, it wasn't until opening weekend that we discovered that while he'd been spending a year and half thinking about the production, none of those months had been spent learning the lines. The result of this was that whenever the gent managed to remember one of the monologues, he would grin all over his face and deliver it - without reference to whatever act or scene the rest of us happened to be doing at that moment.

And would you believe that was only ONE of the major problems with the show? Suffice it to say, this production has become legendary in NY theatre circles, and you can perhaps understand why the cast is, some years later, still best friends with each other. Who else could understand the hell we've been through?

And I went to a lovely concert today! A friend of a friend couldn't use her Avery Fisher Hall ticket for the matinee and passed it on to me. It was supposed to be Riccardo Mutti conducting, but he got ill, which didn't matter in the least, as it turned out. The first half was a Schubert octet, which was quite nice, although I'm not much of a Schubert fan. It's all a bit lace hanky and silk breeches for me. I'm much happier with Bach fugues and large lashings of Beethoven. I also absolutely LOVE Leonard Bernstein's anything, but most particularly his Mass, which very few people can take at all. Sometimes when I really hate my next door neighbors I blast it through the house. Try takes some getting used to, but I think it's a fascinating piece of work.

But the second half was the Aaron Copland Concerto No. 3 which contains Fanfare for the Common Man, and I adore it. Lots of big striding huge music, with kettle drums and gongs and cymbals and horns...if Schubert tiptoes in wearing his silk breeches, Copland strides in wearing boots and jeans. Just gorgeous. And very nicely conducted by the young (and sudden) conductor, whose name is Michael something (well, the program's downstairs and I'm not).

At least Tracey's birthday party isn't at one of her usual haunts. She has a taste for very loud, very expensive type joints. (The Richard cast members tend to want to, you know, TALK to each other when we're together.) She's a cast member from the second show our gang did together, which was modern, and enormously better than the Richard - of course, watching Britney Spears do Lady Macbeth would probably be better than that Richard. Luckily, this party is in a small Italian restaurant, which should have a reasonably low decibel level.

Ah. 9:30 has struck, even though my computer hasn't got the hang of Daylight Savings Time. I know it's 9:35 because my computer says 8:35. Once or twice a week I click on this and attempt to change it and my computer smiles in a supercilious manner, changes for about an hour, and goes right back to being an hour early...chortling to itself in a snide manner. Well, the hell with it. At least I know what time it is.


Love, Wendy

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday! Yay!

And I'm doing laundry again. I remember that in one of the Star Trek movies (I had a terrible crush on Captain Kirk for a while - not William Shatner, because all of my pals in the business told me he was a terrible prick, but Captain Kirk) there was this thing in Captain Kirk's cabin on the Enterprise, and he threw a crumpled up uniform in it and about 10 seconds later, pulled out a nice fresh uniform. As I recall, it was even on a hanger.

This has GOT to be the best idea I ever heard. I mean, I'm a member of the privileged classes because I actually have an in-house washer and dryer. But the dryer is about a hundred years old and takes for-friggin'-ever to dry stuff, and the washer is really tiny (because the bathroom is really tiny and so is the bathroom door - the whole thing is built for der elves in der Black Forest, which will make no sense whatsoever to anyone who wasn't around when the original Volkswagen came out - the line, of course, was used about the "pregnant roller skate"). Therefore a week's worth of my deeply dull winter office clothing (five days worth of turtlenecks and pants - it's boring, but it's really easy - you add various scarves or necklaces) takes three loads, when you include my raggedy bits of underwear.

Speaking of which, when the government sends me my economic stimulus check, you better believe I am off to Century 21 to dive into the underwear section. I can't wait. Threadbare doesn't even BEGIN to describe it. And Century 21 is about the only place where I can actually find a big selection of bras in my size, which is fairly unusual...34D. I have no back, just bosom. (It's sort of like my problem with hipslung pants, which are supposed to hang on your hips and booty...I got no hips, no booty. Flat, flat, flat. So I spend my days anxiously making sure that nothing slips off altogether, which actually happened with a hip slung linen skirt I got at Old Navy once. Luckily, I hadn't left the house yet, but I got up to do so and the damn skirt fell off. And I don't buy things that sit on my actual waist, because of my long, long legs - makes me look like I'm six inches tall from the waist up and eight feet tall below - what with the bust, the effect is that somebody crossed Mrs. Potatohead with a Barbie...weird.) Evidently bra manufacturers feel that if you are going to have a bust, you've got to have a back to go with it. Therefore, I can find tons of 38D, 40D, even 36D...but almost nothing in 34D.

By the way, as long as I'm wandering around in my underwear here, have you ever checked out the wall of panties at KMart over on Astor Place? KMart tends to cater to a clientele that is rather larger than I am, but their prices are so good that whenever I'm in there I look for nice cotton panties in a size 5/small (which they almost never have). Well, I have found some deeply amazing items. Did you know that there are actually lace thongs in size 12? Given that the normal run of ladies' panty sizes is 5/small, 6/medium and 7/large, think about this for a moment. Size 12 lace thongs. Let your mind conjure up this image. Vow to eat nothing but salad for the rest of your life. No dressing.

Century 21. I used to LOVE this place. This is when I was working downtown in the early '70s, and it was the least chic joint you can imagine. It had concrete floors, and exposed pipes overhead and glaring fluorescent lights - but, oh, my God, the bargains. I bought everything there. And yes, they had all those designer clothes, but it was a little secret known only to us Wall Street workers. They'd advertise, but only things like "Diapers Half Off", "Toothpaste Sale" - that sort of thing.

I got a wonderful suit in there once that I paid something like a hundred bucks for that was originally $700. And I will never forget what happened when I went to pay for it. I was writing them a check (yes, children, there was a time in recent history when not everyone had a credit card) and they asked for ID. I don't drive, so I pulled out my ID, which happens to be my passport. At which point the nice girl behind the counter informed me that it wasn't a legal ID. I gaped at her - a United States Passport isn't a legal ID? Turns out they only accepted drivers' licenses, and I actually don't think this child had ever seen a passport before anyway. They accepted my bank card. Not my ATM card (we didn't have ATMs yet, either, and I'll tell you that trying to catch a cab with all those woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers running around was pretty difficult, too) - my bank card that said I was a depositor at the bank and could cash a check there. No picture, no nothing. Ah, where are the snows of yesteryear?

These days, frankly, I hate Century 21 except for the aforementioned (must stop working at legal firms) underwear. I might just as well shop at Saks, for God's sake. I can't find anything that fits and the racks are always all jumbled up. Anyway (little shopping secret here), Saks has the all-time best half-yearly sales. And if you are in need of decent suits, go to Syms.

And if you are in need of fashion tips, why on earth are you listening to someone who spends October to May in the same five sets of turtlenecks and pants? Fools.

Love, Wendy

Thursday, March 27, 2008

First Things First

OK, before anything else happens, I want everyone to run to the closest deli and immediately buy a pint of Haagen Dazs White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream.

There. Now doesn't everybody feel better? When I am on my deathbed, I think someone should stand by to wave a pint of it under my nose. Wow! Look! Resurrection! (At least until I polish off the pint.)

I am very curious about something. Lately, within the last year or so, I've noticed these signs turning up on the stall door in ladies' rooms all over the place . They say, "Please flush the toilet."

Um, when did that become a problem? Surely it's an automatic gesture for anyone who grew up in a place with flush toilets? (I say this because I used to work in a building whose previous life had been a sweatshop that hired VERY recent immigrants, and those toilets had signs like that in English and something that looked like Asian calligraphy, which made sense to me because I'm sure a lot of those poor girls did NOT grow up with flush toilets.)

But really, almost without exception, I do my temping in large expensive law firms. The ladies in the bathrooms are lawyers or legal secretaries, all of whom are thoroughly educated, and most of whom have fairly advanced degrees. (You laugh at that regarding the secretaries, but legal secretarial work is a lot more lucrative than anything that uses your Master's in English Lit.) Why on earth should these gals need to be reminded to flush the toilet? How has this become a problem? And WHY has it become a problem? Call me deeply confused. And I'm even more confused by the fact that (ugh alert here) it so happens that at least once a week I enter a stall and discover that someone hasn't read the sign. What gives? I know damn well that there aren't all that many automatic flush type toilets floating about (oh, GOOD choice of words), so it's not that people have forgotten how to use a manual one...

And I've been reading the various forms of internet news (because I'm a news junkie) and I just came across a story about Merck, the big pharmaceutical company. They've issued a statement that they're going to do some in-depth testing of one of their asthma drugs because there have been about four cases of suicide in people who've been taking it. One can only hope that their testing is better than their English. The spokesman said that they were coming forward with this news "because suicide is a life-threatening activity."

I have nothing else to say, so in a rare burst of good sense, I think I'll go to bed. Remember to flush!

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Sighting of the Living Room Carpet!

Joshua and Mel have removed all the extra bits of whatever it is they're doing with all that salvaged wood, and I actually have a living room again - mostly. Except that to the current cast of characters in the house we have now added Mel's girlfriend. (Studio apartment, studio apartment, studio apartment...) It's only for another week or so, I'm informed - and by that time I'll have a new kitchen floor and freshly painted bathrooms. It's just that I'm beginning to feel a tiny bit overpeopled...I've got them basically trained not to address me in the morning (Joshua is the worst in this regard - he wakes up talking about Wittgenstein and the Jewish Diaspora and wants to share), but they haven't quite got a handle on the first hour after I get home from work yet. All I want to do when I walk in the door is sit down, drink a beer, and smoke lovely indoor cigarettes and look at the mail, do a crossword puzzle, read...and the minute I turn up, the entire crew leaps madly at me to tell me all about their day. People - I'll be fascinated in a an hour. NOT NOW.

A deeply annoying day at the office. There is this thing in tax law which is called the CCH, and what it is 22 volumes of the entire United States Tax Code. Well, our tax code changes about every 22 seconds - not necessarily much, but enough that the information in these looseleaf binders (thick, THICK looseleaf binders) needs to be updated. And that's what I have spent the entire day doing...take out pages 22,388 to 22,389, replace with pages 22,388 to 22, 389, etc., etc., ad infinitum. For 22 of these damn books. And I thought sitting there reading a book was dull.

And my beloved Saint Tiger Lily: You're going to catch a cold in your toes!

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Relative Rant

I came home to find that my entire living room has been taken over by bits and pieces of construction, including two doors (no, I don't know why - I understand one of them, but why two, I wonder), bits of cabinets salvaged from the street, and various and sundry other things (most of which look sort of broken and have nails sticking out of them...). Joshua and Mel, the two mad construction types, seem to be very pleased with all this crud and keep assuring me it's going to be wonderful. If anyone has any extra cash floating around, could you please buy me a studio apartment to live in? I may need it by the time these two get finished with their improvements. Although as of tonight, one of the improvements is going to be a new floor in the kitchen, of which I am in truly desperate need - ever since Sarah's friend Celine caused a Christmas Eve flood in the kitchen many years back, the floor has been disintegrating and now looks positively leprous...not attractive. So maybe I'll stick around after all. (Anyway, who's got two million bucks to buy a studio in the West Village?)

At least Mel is around to sit on Joshua when he begins to have his usual delusions. Joshua is under the impression that he's a great interior decorator. Unfortunately, he also seems to be color blind. My kitchen is yellow and red (I feel very strongly that if you don't have a window in your kitchen, there ought to be a lot of yellow in it so you can have pretend sunshine). One of Joshua's firmly held beliefs is that things should be draped with things (when he first moved in, I spent way too much time politely undraping). With three cats, and being a person who spills a lot of shit when I'm cooking (or eating, or just shoving a cat out of my plate while I'm TRYING to eat), draping large pieces of fragile material on things is not a terribly viable idea...I need to be able to wipe up the beer that the cat knocked over in a hurry and without resorting to stain remover and the washer.

Joshua, you see, keeps trying to put a tablecloth on my nice scarred very kitcheny kitchen's a sort of farmhouse type table that looks like generations have left their mark on it, and I use it for food prep a lot, so I like to keep it clear (well, all right, except for my little box of pills and all the mail and various books and cookbooks I'm currently reading, and...oh, well, you understand). So one day (without consulting me, of course), he got a tablecloth for it. He got a burgundy tablecloth. Can you please explain to me why someone who is supposed to have at one point made money as an interior designer would buy a burgundy tablecloth for a red and yellow kitchen? I mean, I have a lovely reddish and brown/beige/creamish tablecloth and matching napkins that comes out for our nice Christmas dinner every's Indonesian batik and was a wedding present, and it's now old and faded and rather stained, but that works just fine and anyway it's our traditional Christmas tablecloth. If I were going to buy another tablecloth for our kitchen (which is the only dining area in the house on account of we don't have a dining room), I would buy one of those cheerful yellow and red Provencal tablecloths, which would also work perfectly. But BURGUNDY? Against yellow and red? Blecccch.

I fail to understand why I keep getting these men living with me. Now, everybody says, "Why on earth did you marry two men you had to support who refused to get jobs?" The answer is extremely simple. I didn't. I married two men who had excellent jobs with possibilities for advancement and that happy horseshit. However, within six months of marrying me, both of them decided not to work...ever again. I let my cousin move in with me because HE had an excellent job and was splitting the household expenses with me...six months later, he decided that having ADD and a gluten allergy made him eligible for food stamps, Medicare (or Medicaid, whichever - I must find out the difference within the next two years because two years from Monday I'll be eligible) and disability payments. (And the government, for God's sweet sake, seems to agree with him - but then, the government...yes, well). So now he doesn't work. I can only assume that some bad fairy appeared at my christening a la Sleeping Beauty...because boy, do I get the pricks. (Yeah, that was awful...but who could resist it?)

Meanwhile, another blue legged broad in bare legs and flip-flops today. Sheesh. It was friggin' chilly out there - even though that was mostly the wind. And in a couple of months, it'll be lovely and warm...and I will be tromping through Times Square on my way home. I've given up on the notion of a pellet gun for the tourists, but if there's anyone out there who can teach me to be really accurate with a pea shooter...

Love, Wendy

Monday, March 24, 2008

Daughters Are Dangerous

So I ended up cooking last night - which I assure you I had no intention of doing. You see, what with cousin Joshua and Mel and Mel's girlfriend all in the house, every time I feel like I might want to cook something, the kitchen magically fills up with people who are cooking something else. (Mel's girlfriend Rebecca makes wonderful jerk chicken.) But frankly, due to the sheer numbers of people in the kitchen half the time (and also due to my strange appetite problems), I usually just wait until the kitchen has cleared out before I do anything. Ergo, I wasn't intending to make dinner last night, but it turned out that Joshua had told Mel not to worry about cooking on Easter because I was doing it. It's good thing Mel told me about this the day before, since Joshua didn't actually mention it to me.

At any rate, I threw together a terminally dull meal - baked ham, green beans, and redskinned potatoes with scallions (the scallions were supposed to be parsley, of course, but I somehow wandered off into space while at the checkout counter in the grocery store and didn't realize that the checker left the parsley out of the bags - the scallions were fine, as a matter of fact - I sauteed them in a little butter before I mixed then with the potatoes). It wasn't at all a BAD meal, you understand - just sort of boring. Except for the ham, of course - I make terrific ham. (You glaze it with Dijon mustard, honey, and some powdered cloves.)

However, my child was there, and somehow or another after dinner Sarah and I got into our fun mode. This is invariably a disaster, because what happens is that we get into showing each other (and Mel, in this case - which didn't help because of course then we had somebody new to bounce things off of) our favorite Youtube bits, and telling stories, and laughing...and this always happens on a night where both of us have to get up in the morning and we always stay up WAY too late...i.e., 4 this morning. (We've been known to see the dawn come up like thunder when we really get going.) (And NEVER on a Friday or Saturday, damn it.)

Do not, if you value your sanity, be my age and stay up until 4 am and then get up to go to work at 7 am. I could do this when I was 26. I can still do it, but it takes me a week to recover. Thank God for a temp job where the only thing I have to do is try desperately to remember whose phones I'm answering that day - and, when I take my cigarette and/or lunch breaks, what the hell floor I'm working on. All this was extremely difficult today.

I'm going to bed. Because if I don't I'm going to fall asleep with my head on the keyboard, and my ears will type reams of nonsense...which will probably not be too much different than what I write in the first place, but who wants to be read for the deathless prose of their ears?

Love, Wendy

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday! Yay!

Well, my goodness, what a hive of activity my house has been today. My cousin evidently has decided to pay back chunks of the money he owes me for his rent-free existence for the past three years by suddenly doing everything he can around the house. Thank God (because my cousin has delusions of competence) we have our current friendly neighborhood live-in lesbian, Mel, who has a contractor's license.

Therefore, I have now got proper lighting in the kitchen, in the front place (you can't call it a foyer because it isn't one - it's just where you come in the front door which used to be a pool of darkness which made me a little twitchy about opening the door) - the ceiling leak is fixed, and I now have an actual pantry sort of set up which has a cabinet for the stuff I don't use every day (i.e., my industrial size food processor) and a bookshelf for the cookbooks I DO use.

This setup is in a place that I can't imagine anyone who ever had a kitchen ever designing. I can only assume that it was made up by someone who ate takeout every night. It's to the right of the refrigerator, and it's a two drawer kitchen cabinet topped with the same black formica or whatever that all my other counters have. However, it has no electrical outlet, and it has no lighting of any variety, and was therefore unusable for any sort of food preparation (if I can't see what I'm chopping, I tend to bleed a lot). And part of it is behind a large piece of a wall that seems to be holding something else up - like the ceiling. So for all the years we've lived here, it has become the catchall space for anything that I didn't want to deal with at the moment - i.e., a mess. You know - wow, I just got this month's Bon Appetit and there are recipes I want to clip - I'll just put it over here. Oh, good, I've clipped the recipes. Well, no time to put them in the recipe file book - I'll just put them over here. Etc., etc., and so forth.

Well, now it's got a lovely cabinet and a lovely bookshelf, and room for all the stuff that's been cluttering up the rest of the counter space in my kitchen and I couldn't be happier.

This is not to say that the area won't get absolutely messed up, probably within about a week. (Look out - I'm in full blabber mode.) You see, I have MAJOR housekeeping problems. I am a very good cook, but I can't clean a house to save my life.

Now I know perfectly well what the problem is. I grew up between my mother's house and my fateher's apartment. Mother's house, where we lived with my grandparents and my great aunt,was where the food was wonderful (and where I learned to cook), and where the only way to get the house clean was to throw a party. This, of course, didn't work terribly well - obviously, when you throw a party, you have to clean up after it. This is the part where we sort of didn't. About a month later, when somebody found ANOTHER plate under a chair, we'd decide it was time to clean house - and throw another party to talk ourselves into it. And then every once in a while my mother and I would decide to dust the bookshelves - which invariably lasted until one of us, closely followed by the other of us, found a book we hadn't read in forever...and ended up spending the day on the floor reading (this took 15 minutes - tops).

And then I'd spend the weekends with Daddy. Now, in Daddy's apartment, I would be sitting down reading a book. I would get up to go to the john or something, and when I got back to my chair, the book would be back in the bookshelf and the cushions on the chair would be plumped up to look as if they'd never been sat upon.

And then I married my first husband, who insisted on the standard of housekeeping his mother kept. Meaning, I would have to get down on my hands and knees to polish the UNDERSIDE of the dining room table. Admittedly, we had parties at which people ended up under there, but it seems deeply unlikely that they were checking the polish.

And then I married my second husband, who was from a foreign service family, who got hysterical if I tried to clean anything, because in his mind, if you were cleaning things, it meant you were moving again.

So at this stage of the game, I have decided that there is no possible way I am EVER going to please anyone, and I have opted out of the whole thing. I maintain enough sanity to keep one step ahead of the Health Department, I do keep the bathrooms in some sort of order (when in fact I notice that things are growing, basically), and sometimes I can even find my underpants. Clean ones!

But I will never be a's just too fraught. And it's not very interesting work, actually. But I keep buying all these housekeeping books...being a book person, I feel that if I ever get the RIGHT housekeeping book, it will magically transform me into a person who has a wonderful spotless house. However, as a realist, I know perfectly well that the only thing that will happen is that I will remain a person who sits at her somewhat grubby kitchen table and blows seven pounds of dust off her housekeeping books before she reads them. And never notices that while she reads them, another layer of crud is depositing itself all over the kitchen cabinets.

On the other hand, my baked ham is legendary, and several gentlemen have praised my efforts in other directions not involving a kitchen. It shouldn't be a total loss.

Love, Wendy

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tired, Tired, Tired

Good Friday is a day when many people are out of the office (when Easter and Passover fall together, NOBODY is in the office). Therefore my day was even duller than usual - and that's almost impossible. I swear, I'm at the point of asking for a 97 page deposition to type. Anything to stay awake.

However, I have seen the first idiot of spring! Yes, yes, I do realize that we had 45 degree weather today with a 40 mile an hour wind, which isn't in the least springlike, but this idiot broad evidently read the calendar instead of the weather. And there she was, bopping down the street, with - are you ready? - the first flip-flops of spring. Bare blue legs, bare blue feet (but, naturally, a nice new pedicure). But by God, it's spring according to the calendar! Jeez Louise. Please God - don't let these people breed.

And in other news, people in various bits of the world are nailing themselves to crosses and whipping themselves in honor of Good Friday. You know, I kind of can't get my mind around any sort of God who would be evenly remotely pleased with this. "Hey! Hey! You down there! I made you in My image with a nice unbroken skin and a capacity for enjoyment and love! What the HELL are you doing with it?" Of course, I've always believed in a God with a sense of humor...I mean face it - have you ever seen a duck-billed platypus? You can't tell me that one was dreamed up by some solemn type with no comedy in His (or Her, if you prefer - I don't care, because what you believe is none of my business) soul.

I am going to bed because I can't think of anything at all sensible (or even idiotic) to say at the moment. Maybe tomorrow I'll write a nice, long, carefully reasoned and deeply intellectual post.

On the other hand, why start now?

Love, Wendy

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Everyone's queer except thee and me...

That's an old Quaker saying, and it ends up, "And sometimes I wonder about thee."

This is something that gets more and more true when you temp for a living. All long time secretaries personalize their desks/cubicles to an extent, and it's deeply amazing what you find out about people.

Today's desk was the animal lady. Dog on the calendar, and a box of books under the desk which all had titles like "Understand Your Corgi's Motivation" and "The Practical Home Veterinarian." (For those of you who have actual permanent jobs, keep track of what your desk says about you, because temps usually have nothing better to do and it's not that we snoop, exactly, but we will run across this stuff if we're looking for a yellow pad to write on or a pen that actually has ink.)

And there are a lot of God people around. Their desks are covered in little flowered cards with little religious poems on them, and they tend to decorate their pencil cups with crosses and lilies. This gives me the creeps. To begin with, I consider religion a personal choice, and wouldn't dream of tossing mine out there like that (these people tend to wear little cross earrings and necklaces, too). Secondly, I have a horrible suspicion that they might try to get me into a lunch hour Bible study group, and my lunch hour is sacred to Duane Reade and cigarettes.

And then there are the clean freaks. I ran across one of them in the ladies' room today. She walked in the john, washed her hands (she'd touched a door that someone else had touched, after all), went into the stall, peed, and came out and washed her hands - again. Then she grabbed a paper towel to open the door so as not to get any people juice (or something) on her freshly washed hands. (Yes, well, I was having a bit of a sit, you see, so I could hear all this going on. Any other damn personal questions?) And then, and I know this because I've sat next to these people, she went back to her desk and used a hand sanitizer and sprayed the immediate vicinity with Lysol.

I can only assume that these crazy clean types have never heard of a little detail called building up one's immunities. I'd bet any amount of money that this character gets sicker oftener than anybody else in the office on account of washing away all her natural protection.

But my favorites are the kitsch people. Their desks are absolutely filled with chotchkes of every possible description...Disney characters on the computer mouse (oh, please, you can't possibly need to ask WHICH Disney character). Feathers sprouting out of their pens. Tons of "adorable" little china figurines. Equally "adorable" calendars. Little pictures of unicorns. And tons of catalogues featuring MORE of this, with the pages turned down where they plan to, one presumes, give people this shit for Christmas. Actually, these are my favorite desks to work...endless hours of amusement. Particularly with the catalogues (and they usually have lovely piles of them). I mean, you can spend a wonderfully bemused afternoon wondering why on earth anybody would dogear a page containing several pairs of pink glow in the dark socks with mermaids on them. And the page with the very elaborate chocolate fountains...and the page with the themed Disney kitchen stuff...oh, I tell you, those are good days when you run into this.

I once sat next to a gal who had birds. Her entire conversation was about these birds. She would call home three times a day because her answering machine had these damn birds squawking on it and she couldn't get through the day without listening to her birds. She also had a Winnie the Pooh fetish (that was her desk decoration - Winnie the damn Pooh, Disney version, of course, not the wonderful original Ernest Shepherd drawings). And one day, I overheard one of the most wonderful conversations in the world between the lady and her boyfriend (sheesh - any flying crazy seems able to achieve a boyfriend except me). It seems that one of her birds (budgies or something - I am NOT a bird person) was in the bird hospital, and she was solemnly explaining to the boyfriend that he ought to go visit the bird because "He's in need of male bonding."

Okay. I dare you. Please try to explain to me how one knows one's budgie is in need of male bonding. I do know they can be taught to talk...but the only scenario I can imagine is Merrill (don't ask me how I remembered her name but I just did) going to visit her bird and having the bird say, "Awwk! Awwk! I hate you, bitch! Get the guy in here! Awk!! AWWKK! Bitch don't even know the score for last night's game, and she won't spring for a private room with a TV! AWWWWKKKKK!"

In other news, my state income tax refund has still not appeared. Damn. They sent it back to me because somehow or another I managed to forget to staple my W2s on it...otherwise known as, don't drink beer when you're doing your they sent it back and I nicely redid it and put the W2 things on...and nothing has happened. Oh, well - I presume I still get my tax rebate thingy in late May. Although with my luck with the government, I have a horrible suspicion that they'll just send me a bill instead. Us old counterculture types don't exactly trust the, duhhhh...

I think I shall go to bed. Dat ole debbil insomnia is still nipping at my heels. I finally got to sleep way too late last night and woke up at 7:30 this morning. Unfortunately, this is an hour too late for me. I hate 9 to 5 type shit, so I get up way earlier than I have to in order to ease my way into it. Wake up at 6 or 6:30, have a cigarette, read, consider my options (most of which seem to be getting into the john to pee - the curse of the late night beer drinker), have a hit off my inhaler, go feed dead cat, change stinky newspaper, hit the computer and have another cigarette, iron something or other to wear, shower, and head downstairs to smoke some more, take pills, and drink Diet Coke for 40 minutes or so before I actually get out the door. You can imagine how knocking an hour off this regime screwed up my morning. However, I made it to work on time, although slightly flustered...I HATE speeding up my morning routine. Not that I can't hustle like hell should it be necessary...I just prefer to ease into my day instead of suddenly leaping madly at it.

OK. I am now officially babbling. So I'll play a few games of solitaire (whatever did we do before computer solitaire?) and go to sleep with my book.

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Streetlights Again

My child informs me - well, reminds me - that we moms on the block have been fighting for this streetlight for a LONG time. This is true.

You see, the Far West Village is an actual neighborhood kind of neighborhood, where all the moms and kids know each other (I'm still greeted on the street with "Hi, Sarah's mom!"). So when our kids got to be around eight or nine, they set up a concerted clamor to be able to walk to school ALONE...well, with each other and no parents. This one took quite some persuasion on their part, on account of getting to PS41 from far West Charles Street involves crossing Hudson Street AND Seventh Avenue - both of which are big streets. The upshot of this is that we finally allowed ourselves to be convinced, as long as all of them went together, obeyed every traffic signal, held hands across the big streets - etc., etc., etc. I have to admit that we were kind of charmed by the notion of maybe managing to have an extra cup of coffee (or for me, Diet Coke) in the morning in peace and quiet. But for the first week or so it was pretty funny, on account of we moms were terrified about the whole thing, so we all got together and crept along about a block behind the kids, trying to stay out of sight, making sure that they were crossing the street properly, and so forth. I didn't think then, and I don't think now, that we ever fooled the kids, but after a week or so of this we figured, well, hell, they seem to be okay - and we never looked back. Ah, the glory of that ten minutes of peace and quiet...

But that, of course, was the point at which we got real evangelical about stop signs and traffic lights. You can see how much good it did - now that our children are in their 20s, we have traffic lights. We're excited - those of us who aren't in nursing homes.

I am VERY annoyed at the weather. Al day today they've been predicting thunderstorms for tonight, and I have been waiting with bated breath, because I love thunderstorms and find them the best possible of all sleeping music. Now, of course, not only have they backed off on the thunderstorms, but it seems to have stopped raining - which is the second best music to sleep by, since I have a skylight in my bedroom and the sound of rain on it is immediately soporific. What the weather is going to do, of course, because it hates me, is NOT rain all night, and I will get rain on my skylight when I wake up in the morning, thereby instilling in me a great desire to stay in bed. This is not useful. We temps don't get paid if we're not there. Growl. Nobody loves me.

Ah, well. I shall now let my dead cat out of the bathroom...oh, yes. I am the proud feeder (well, where cats are concerned, you really can't say owner) of two and a half cats. Two of them (brothers, both black, Tarbaby, who's all black, and Blackfoot, who has a white spot under his chin) are youngish - 10, say - but the half cat is Gypsy, who we figure is over 20 now (all of our cats are adoptees, of course), and refuses to give up. She is what they call a Munchkin cat - tabby, with four very short little legs - she looks rather like her mother got terribly confused about a dachshund once. And she smells just disgusting and has dreadlocks because she's not limber enough to bathe herself properly any more. She has also decided that she wants nothing to do with litter boxes, which has caused me to newspaper my bathroom floors. She'll use the newspaper, but frankly, spending quite a lot of my time picking up soggy smelly newspaper is not what I actually what to do with my life (and most of her smell comes from the fact that somehow she keeps dragging her tail through her own shit - although I cleaned her off tonight and that's a LOT better now). And I would have her put down, except she eats like a pig, can still happily leap on the table to try and get at my dinner, has the voice of at least three Siamese cats (damned if I know where that came from) and purrs very loudly and happily most of the time. This cat is having one hell of a time in her twilight years - even though she's almost entirely toothless. She has precisely one fang left, but she manages to scarf up her food, my food, and even every now and then some of the young cats' dry food. (Frankly, if I get to be that old in human years and am having as much fun as Gypsy, I wouldn't want anyone to try and put me down. I personally plan to live to be about a hundred and three, and go out like a light while sitting on the lap of my 23 three old lover, with a glass of champagne in one hand and a bowl of fresh caviar in the other.)

Do not, by the way, if you like ice cream late at night, have three cats. The only way I can get my insomnia cure is to take it into the downstairs powder room and shut the door, because otherwise I have to eat it standing up with a broom in one hand as all three of these damn beasts try to get at it. Luckily I do my ice cream eating late at night (when I've determined that I really can't sleep), because it's hard to explain why one is perched on a closed toilet reading a book and eating ice cream.

I think I'm going to have one more beer and go to bed...and pray for rain.

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Forgot The Best News!

We have actual streetlights at our corner now! You know, traffic lights? See, for years and years and years we had nothing at the corner of Charles and Washington, and since Washington is a direct route to the Holland Tunnel with few traffic lights or stop signs, you sometimes had to wait for ten minutes on your way home from work to get across the damn street.

Well, finally, a few years back, we got stop signs. This improved matters somewhat, but not enough, since most drivers around here consider a stop sign a suggestion, not a rule. So the only real improvement was that now you could usually cross the street after five minutes waiting time.

But now we have real traffic lights! However, this being the West Village, which is crawling with celebrities, our traffic lights say, Walk, Don't Walk, and Pose for Paparazzi.

Love, Wendy

Absolutely Nothing To Report

But of course, that doesn't stop me from babbling anyway.

Nothing in the mail today except a notice about a sale in a store I never go to with prices I can't afford to pay - which is fine, because the store carries clothes I'd never wear. This works out nicely. And anyway, it was addressed to Sarah.

Meanwhile I think I'll hit my cousin over the head. Just on general principles. My cousin is my housemate, and he is VERY peculiar. For instance, he suffers from ADD. Well, fine - although frankly, since he's 60, one would have thought he'd have grown out of it by now. Maybe not...I really don't know all that much about adult ADD because I try to listen to him as little as possible. One of the reasons for this (and there are MANY - mostly revolving around the fact that he never shuts up and he's very boring and he repeats himself to the point of nausea - my nausea, that is) is that he has decided that since he has ADD, EVERYONE has ADD. He keeps greeting me in the morning by congratulating me on how well I'm handling my ADD. Which I find irritating as hell, since I do not now nor have I EVER had ADD. (Well, I'm sorry about all the typographical shouting, but he's been particularly irritating recently.) He got me so wound up about this that I actually went on the Web to look it up - figuring maybe he knew something I didn't. Well, obviously and of course, I don't have ADD. Not one single symptom. When I informed him of this, he smiled smugly and told me again how well I was doing with it. He also magnanimously offered me some of his Ritalin to take to make me feel better. Can you honestly imagine anybody being that idiotic? He watches me take five prescriptions every morning of my life and then thinks I should take a pill that was not prescribed to me for a disease I don't have? (Not to mention - better than what, exactly? I feel fine.) Aaaargh. He also has celiac disease (the thing where you can't eat wheat), and goes on about that at great length...great, great, great length. Incessantly.

Ah, well - he's been doing good things around the house lately and paying for them (always a point in anyone's favor), by way of a nice lesbian he invited to stay with us who happens to be an electrician and plumber and who, as a thank you for staying with us while she sorts out her life, has now fixed the electricity, the leak in the upstairs bathroom, and the shower head, and is going on with painting the bathrooms and laying tile in the kitchen. And cousin Joshua has been paying for the raw materials! So, nobody's all bad. It's just that some people are deeply annoying.

Meanwhile, I have had a terrific idea which I plan to put in motion tomorrow. When I got this current temp job back in November, I was trained by a sweet little shlub of a middle-aged guy named John (the kind who's in his late 40's and still lives with his mother, even though he's not gay - more neuter), who was fascinated by me, and bats his (very thin) eyelashes at me whenever we meet in the elevator. I'm going to ask him to pass on to me the firm's test for Word Processing Center operators and help me with it - because WP operators make a LOT more money than plain old secretaries. I figure if I bat my eyelashes back at him, I can get away with this's worth a try, anyway.

Here's to me trying to be a femme fatale...the world's oldest femme fatale, except maybe Mae West.

Love, Wendy

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Difficulties of Motherhood

So here I was thinking that I had absolutely nothing to say today - not that it would have stopped me from saying something, you understand - when, just as I was sitting down to eat dinner I got a text message from my adorable child reading "Mom! Read your email IMMEDIATELY!"

Well, of course, my first thought was, "Oh, my God, who died?" (Yeah, well, when one has elderly family members...) So I stuck my plate in the microwave (not only to heat it up when I got back to my dinner, but also because with three cats, one doesn't leave unattended food if one wishes to find it there when one returns) and raced up to the computer.

It turns out that a certain person I gave birth to was merely stuck on a paper that had to be emailed within the next hour.

Okay, I will admit that it's nice to be seen as the font of all wisdom. But Jesus Christ...did the damn paper have to be on The Canterbury Tales? With quotes in Olde English? Have you got any idea whatsoever how many years it's been since I went anywhere near Chaucer in the original? (Do you actually care?)

I am here to tell you that I am EXTREMELY proud of myself because, by God, I waded through the paper and found that I could still read Olde English (or maybe Middle English...which I tend to confuse with Middle Earth). Of course, that may have a lot to do with the fact that in my day, people would read Chaucer on account of it's mostly fairly dirty. Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon got a LOT fewer takers. (That was originally in Anglo-Saxon, wasn't it? It's been a LONG time.)

But, honestly. I realize that parents are supposed to rally round in a crisis, but why do I have a kid with a crisis in Olde/Middle English?

In other news, there's absolutely nothing, except for the fact that I just discovered via good old CNN that my income tax rebate will be one of the first to be mailed out, which I think is neat. This is presuming I GET one, which I suppose I should, after all these years of being a loyal taxpayer - a fairly grumpy one, to be sure, but loyal (out of necessity - otherwise they send you to jail, don't they?) all the same.

And I've finally got proper full medical coverage! This was very exciting to me, until I found out the catch. I've been paying for five prescriptions by the week (on account of no insurance) at full price, which was running me about $115 per week. Well, now that my coverage has kicked in, I pay $147 a month. This is great - except that the insurance costs me $118 per week. I don't know whether this is a step forward or backward. Ah, well - at least I now have excellent hospitalization, should I, God forbid, break a leg or something.

And a very happy Amateur Night - oh, sorry, I used to be a bartender - St. Patrick's Day to you.

Love, Wendy

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vicarious Cooking

I love cookbooks. I have a large collection of them, and I read them incessantly. I don't cook out of them much (except for Julia Child and looking up the temperature for my meat loaf in the Joy), but boy, do I have fun reading them.

My favorites are the older ones, because they take me back to a time in my own life which I know perfectly well existed, but which seems utterly bizarre now. Tonight I was reading the Gourmet Menu Cookbook, which has a date of 1963 and in one of the sections (Formal Dinners), it announces how much better off we are now. You see, according to Gourmet (and if you read food history, which I do, they're right), a formal dinner used to consist of 8 to 10 courses with different wines for each - but in modern 1963, they point out, we can now get away with only five courses and two or three wines! Wow. Now that's progress, wouldn't you say?

I remember these endless damn meals. My parents split up when I was three, and after that it was weeks with Mother and weekends with Daddy. Since Daddy was extremely well-known and extremely social, those dinners were a feature of every weekend. No, no, it never occurred to him to plan something slightly more suited to a ten year old. What, and ruin his social life? So willy nilly I had to sit through all those courses.

My favorites in these old books (and of course in Martha Stewart, who holds the same evil fascination for me as street accidents do - it's really ghastly, but you can't take your eyes off it) are the hors d'oeuvres. Oh, my God.

Take 100 blanched pea pods, says Martha casually, and fill them with a pastry tube. Gourmet goes on about hollowing out 200 steamed Brussel sprouts and filling them with ham mousse. One terrific hors d'oeuvres cookbook I have from the '50s is the best, though - this one tells you to make your own bread so that you can tint it different charming colors with food coloring. Then you make little canapes that look like butterflies, involving halved shrimp standing up like little wings and piped cream cheese "in a color to contrast with the bread." This particular book also contains a recipe for the sandwich loaf my Aunt Betty made for a bridesmaid's shower she gave me before my first wedding (1968). It's the one where you slice bread into three or four slices the long way, fill them variously with chicken salad and ham salad and carrot salad (or something) and then you frost it to look like a cake with more of that damn tinted cream cheese. Which you then decorate with little cutouts made out of carrots and pimentos and things...

And then of course there are the recipes that I read over and over because I stand in awe of people who would actually DO this. I have a recipe for Galantine of Duck which goes on for three pages and starts out: "Skin and bone three ducks, keeping the skin in one piece." OK, I'm outta here. Do WHAT? After that it gets into making the forcemeat, making the aspic, mincing the truffles - well, I did say it was three pages long.

My all time favorite recipe, however, is one which involves ortolans. If you don't know what ortolans are, they are tiny, tiny birds which you are supposed to eat in one bite...bones, entrails and all. If you've ever seen the movie Gigi, there's a scene in it where Gigi is taught to eat them by her Aunt Alicia.

So you take twelve of these poor little things, "recently smothered in aged cognac" (what a way to go) and wrap them in bacon. Then you take twelve large truffles and hollow them out and tuck each tiny bird into a truffle. And the recipe finishes up, "Cook them according to your usual recipe for truffles." Of COURSE.

Then there are the recipes that are simply unbelievable (to me, anyway). I ran across one the other day for a Pumpkin and Eggplant Casserole. No. No, no, no.

And Paula Deen - you know the Lady and Sons Savannah gal? She's supposed to be this great Southern cook and is all over the Food Channel, etc. Well, I looked through one of her cookbooks and discovered that every other recipe is made with cream of mushroom soup. Again, no. Not that when Sarah was small and dinner had to be fast I didn't on occasion fall back on it (oh, come, we've all done things we're ashamed of), but then I'm not appearing on the Food Channel or running a popular restaurant.

Ah, well. I shall now go and make myself some nice pasta with butter and Parmesan and garlic and some salad and probably eat some ice cream and go to bed. Now there's a meal.

Love, Wendy

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oy, Already With Green

I've just been reading the Sunday Times, and this week is the Design supplement. Would you believe Green is in?

Green is in, that is, for people who can afford to spend thousands of dollars being green. I have already touched on the essential problem of organic food, but wow, photovaic panels are WAY more out of reach. And cute little dresses made of hemp will run you about 400 bucks.

You know, there have been various periods of American history where (like this one) a lot of people didn't have a lot of money. The Depression. Wartime (well, Civil War and WWII, at any rate - lately wars seem to be run to make money - see H for Halliburton). And people survived without things and in so doing, probably made themselves green without paying any attention to it whatsoever, on account of being busy surviving.

Here are the very simple rules. Use it up. Make it do. Mend it. Use it for something else. Never throw away leftovers. Baking soda and plain white vinegar are terrific cleansers - check the internet and you'll find a billion ways to use them. (Hey, I'm only trying to be frugal, not lose my mind - damned if I'm giving up my computer.) You want to make the house smell nice? All the Korean markets in my neighborhood are now selling pots of hyacinths, which smell wonderful. Those old thin T-shirts make great cleaning rags. Which you wash and reuse (cold water, please).

Really. Who needs aromatherapy organic cleanser? At three times the price of plain old Mr. Clean? And I'll bet that a whole lot of the people who are buying this stuff are A. buying it from Fresh Direct, which delivers and then lets its trucks sit idling in the street spewing exhaust, and B. having somebody in twice a week to use it.

It really is a problem of American society, because we spent so much time being top nation and the richest and all that stuff that we can't get our little minds around anything but spending money. The planet is dying! Oh, my God! Let's buy something to help it! And this, my children, is how you get $8 toilet cleaner.

And I dearly love carbon offsets. Here's another thing tailored for the rich. I feel terribly guilty about taking off to Aruba in my private jet, so I think I'll plant some trees somewhere. And again - it's based on something you buy, not something you actually do. These guys aren't changing their lifestyle in the slightest - they're merely spending MORE money to keep it up.

Now, I really must make one thing perfectly clear. If someone suggested that I go out and homestead somewhere in a log cabin with outdoor plumbing and a woodstove, I would howl like a wolf. I am an entirely urban type who likes my luxuries (comparatively tiny as they are). But I still think I can do my part in my own small way by rejecting certain notions - like buying the new styles (even at H&M) when in fact I don't need clothing, getting my shoes reheeled instead of buying new ones, buying fresh food instead of heavily packaged and know, little shit like this. It actually adds up over time!

And now I'm going to crawl under my elderly sheets (well, hell, they match my elderly body) and reread an old book. So there.

Love, Wendy

Friday, March 14, 2008

Yawn. Yawn. Yawn...

So I had another glorious day at the office doing nothing. You know your job is dull when you perk up when someone emails you something to print and you think that's an exciting thought. Can life be any more boring that that?

And I came home and ate my lovely dinner (the one I didn't eat last night), and then I came up here to go to bed, only my friend Caesar (who's a thoroughly straight Italian man who happens to be my best girlfriend in New York - go figure) came over, so I had to go downstairs and have another beer with him. He wants me to write a play about the lady who stayed on the toilet for two years. I'm thinking about it. If nothing else, it would be an interesting exercise.

Two years on the toilet. (Admittedly, I distinctly remember some marathon toilet stays, but that was years ago when I used to drink tequila on a regular basis. Coincidentally, that was also when I decided that someone should come out with mentholated toilet paper.) I can't wrap my mind around this, somehow. To begin with, not being insane, if somebody in my house stayed in the bathroom for a full DAY I'd get alarmed about it (unless this person was a madly hormonal 14 year year old girl, in which case it would be perfectly normal). If they were in there for a week, I'd sure as hell be calling the EMTs, the cops, and my friendly local mental ward in one fast hurry. What on earth do you think was going through her boyfriend's head? If anything? And of course, the most important consideration - please tell me this was a two bathroom house. I mean, I am well aware that gentlemen are equipped with apparatus which makes it much easier for them to pee in, say, the kitchen sink, but there are other functions which really do require a toilet...I think I'll just leave that thought there. Yeccch.

I'm going to bed...that is, after I go to the bathroom.

With all good scatological wishes to you,

Love, Wendy

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What Happens When You Drink Dinner

What happens is that you read a couple of other blogs by dear friends and you discover things that ought to be remarked on.

One is in my darling Saint Tiger Lily's blog, wherein she riffs on a couple of dimwits attempting to read actual - gasp - books.

Many millions of years ago, I lived in Orlando, Florida for a year or so - and I mean in the Paleolithic Age before Disney got there. You arrived in Orlando via Atlanta where you changed planes and set down at McCoy Air Force Base, that being the only thing Orlando had by way of an airport. At any rate, one of my roommates was a darling guy named Ron, who was deeply impressed by the fact that I was an actress and knew about Shakespeare. So he went to the library in Orlando and started taking out spoken word recordings of Shakespeare. One day he and I were in the car on our way to the library and I said, "So what did you get this week?" And he said, "Well, I can't remember the name of it, but it's really good. It's about this guy who kills this king, and there's these three witches." You know, as a plot synopsis, that ain't bad.

And then I checked in with my darling daughter's blog (you know, Sarah Booz will eat you) - actually, she told me before - and I can finally have a copy of Buffkaboo again! I'm thrilled. Buffkaboo is just great, and I lost my copy of it, and if Sarah doesn't post it, by God, I will. (For those of you who aren't reading Sarah's blog, Buffkaboo is a terrific fairy tale that Sarah wrote in 4th grade and her grandmother found a copy of it which she's sending us.)

I do wish I'd eaten dinner, but at this point, I know I'm not going to - problem was (what with all the nice work going on in my house), there was a ladder in the kitchen, then there was a lesbian under the sink, and by the time all of that got cleared away, I just didn't feel like cooking...and anyway, I was busy talking about nice new house projects...and boy, am I going to hate myself in the morning. And it was going to be a lovely dinner (which I'm going to have tomorrow night). Bacon wrapped scallops followed by my beloved blueberries and creme fraiche.

Ah, well. I'll think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day. I'll go back to Tara...(oh, God, stop me before I start quoting movies...)

Love, Wendy

Love Letter To A Restaurant

I am thrilled to the very core of my being. I have just found out, via the Village Voice, that my favorite restaurant in all New York is never going to close - or at least, not in my dining lifetime, which is good enough for me.

I love good old fashioned French food. I will eat damn near anything that doesn't eat me first, and some things that probably would if I gave them a chance (well, you try cooking a very lively lobster). (My exceptions are headcheese, things in aspic, tripe, and baby octopus with all its little legs still sticking out. Yecch.) But my deepest love is good old fashioned French food. Not French fusion. Not French Vietnamese. Not updated French. Not any damn thing except FRENCH.

And one of the last places in New York to get it is an old, shabby restaurant on 51st Street, just west of 8th Avenue, called Tout Va Bien.

Many years ago, the west 50's was a nest of these great places. When my parents and I lived here just at the tail end of World War II (yes, all right - birthdate 3/31/45, just before the end of the war - shit, I'm too damn old to be a baby boomer, for which thank God), we used to eat at a place that my father always called Larry's, but whose name was in fact Larre, accent acute on the e. (My father, a good London Jew, also invariably ordered "Chicken Charmaine" at Chinese restaurants.) According to NY legend, these places were all founded by homesick Frenchmen who jumped ship at the end of the war.

Tout Va Bien is just about the last of the breed, and according to the Village Voice, the family who owns the restaurant owns the whole building, so I can be assured of my beloved place.

And oh, how I love it. As I say, it has no decor whatsoever. It has a couple of tables out in front in a sort of little areaway, where you can sit in the warm months and smoke in peace and quiet. Inside, everyone has a French accent. There are some rather dim pictures on the wall, and darned white tablecloths and napkins.

But oh, the food. Escargot. Celery remoulade. Homemade pate - no, not pate de foie gras. Pate from a thrifty French housewife's kitchen, served properly with cornichons. Boeuf Bourgignon (I just KNOW that's not spelled right, but you know what I mean). Coq Au Vin. Filet Mignon with a good deep brown sauce. Filet de Sole Amandine. Tete de Veau (which I wouldn't eat if you paid me, but I like to know it's there). Just every single thing that a decent French restaurant should have. Oh, and Creme Caramel, which is only my favorite dessert in the whole world (it's not that I don't love Creme Brulee, but Creme Caramel was a childhood treat, and I'm very loyal to it).

And lovely reasonably priced bottles of wine, and an atmosphere of peace and quiet - there's usually some Piaf or Serge Gainsborough playing in the background, but at a level where you notice it subliminally (I'm not at all sure about the spelling of that, either). I think the absolutely best part about it is that the instant you walk in the door and take a deep breath, it smells FRENCH.

And what's even nicer is that they care deeply about their customers. One horribly cold night a while back, Sarah and I had dinner there on our way to the theatre, and we were paying the bill when our waitress came over to us with two balloon glasses and said, "You must not go out in the cold without something warm." And there was lovely brandy - a gift from the restaurant, which really did worry that we might get chilled.

And it will stay there. And now, anyone who reads my blog...patronize Tout Va Bien. Bask in their shabby wonderfulness. And me? I'm going back as soon as I possibly can.

And P.S. Two people, eating like pigs and drinking wine and tipping decently, will still come to just about a hundred bucks. These days, I call that a bargain.

Love, Wendy (who is suddenly hungry)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why I Love Riding the Bus in New York

Taking a bus is one of my little pleasures. It's not that I hate the subway all that much - I mean, how else would I get somewhere in a hurry? But riding the bus is much more fun.

Today, for instance, I noticed a little restaurant that I've never seen before on my way up Sixth Avenue to work. I think it's around 29th or 30th, and on that stretch I'm usually reading a book. For some reason I was looking out the window this morning.

The restaurant is called something like World Cafe. Right under the name of the restaurant on the front of the building, it says Chinese - American - Italian. Italian? I mean everybody knows that greasy spoon Chinese that says Chinese American and serves bad fried rice and the world's greasiest fried chicken, but Italian? And even better, below that line, in neon in the window, this place has a sign that says Hand Rolled Bagels.

You've got to admire these people - they're certainly trying to cover all the bases here. However, the joint is really tiny, and I worry about what must be terrible confusion in the kitchen - what with all those bagels being rolled and the woks going full speed and the spaghetti sauce steaming away.

You see, I imagine that they must have come up with some insane version of fusion food. Can't you imagine it? Macaroni and cheese with bean sprouts. Veal parmesan dim sum. Spaghetti Bolognese with hot fresh garlic bagel. Tofu panini. Fried rice on an everything bagel.

This is even better than my all-time favorite Chinese restaurant name. This one is on Eighth Avenue right by the big post office, and when they decided to have the sign made for it, they wanted to call the restaurant Dynasty (face it, there are only about six Chinese restaurant names in the city). However, to save money, they obviously hired a member of the family who'd been in this country somewhat longer than they had, and was therefore presumed to know more English. Unfortunately, he didn't. Which is why the restaurant is called, in very big letters, Dinersty.

Having spent the other evening waiting for my clean underwear, I am now spending this one waiting for my clean outerwear. Although I may just say the hell with it and go to bed, because I've been afflicted with insomnia the last two nights and I'm dropping in my tracks. Luckily I provided myself with my own personal form of sleeping pill on my way home from my office - Ben and Jerry's ice cream. In a new flavor called Peach Crumble or something like that. Well, I don't take sleeping pills because I'd rather drink beer, and I'm not silly enough to do both, and I can't drink warm milk on account of I'm allergic to it, but for some reason I'm not allergic to ice cream and it puts me directly to sleep. No, I don't know why either, but it sure is a neat reason to eat ice cream - "Why, yes, it's a medical necessity." Hee, hee, hee.

My child didn't quit reading last night's blog when I told her to and has sent me a nasty comment. Hey, not my fault. I told her that story was coming up. She hates the notion of my once having cavorted around with friends in the rude today are so Victorian. Of course, in my day sex wouldn't kill you - makes a difference.

Oh, to hell with the laundry. I have clean underwear and at least one clean sweater, so I guess I'll throw caution to the winds and wear an actual skirt tomorrow. It's almost spring, after all. Isn't it?

Bed. Now.

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Waiting for Clean Underwear

I actually meant to get the underwear in the washer a lot earlier than this, but Sarah (my kid) came over and we had to sit and talk since I was trying to go to sleep when she turned up last night. Oh, well - if I decide to go to bed before I get it in the dryer, I've got some old raggy stuff to wear anyway - I just hope I don't A. get hit by a bus or B. get lucky. I guess I could always undress in the bathroom and burst upon whomever in my full glory. I cannot imagine how getting lucky would happen, exactly, you understand - waiting for the bus? Buying kneehighs at Duane Reade (I didn't get around to it today)? Certainly not at my current office - lawyers are most definitely not my flavor of choice. Anyway, these days they're all twenty years my junior, and I refuse to date anybody who doesn't remember JFK. (No, NOT the airport.)

No weird clothing sightings today, darn it. I guess I'll have to wait until the weather gets warmer, presuming it ever does. I am now so sick of winter that I have to take deep breaths when I put on my down coat, because the thought of having to wear it for another day makes me gag. I WANT SPRING! NOW!

Speaking of JFK, isn't this election a blast? All these years I've been voting against, rather than for - you know, the old lesser of two evils bit. Now, all of a sudden, there's this great, big, gorgeous hunk of guy with actual ideas...I'm so thrilled.

I do really wish I could back Hillary, for the honor of my sex if nothing else, but frankly, I can't stand the woman. She strikes me as the most insincere thing I've ever seen in my entire life - sort of a political version of a Stepford Wife. I just don't LIKE her. I do realize that in the greater scheme of things my liking or not liking a candidate is somewhat low on a list of things one needs in a President, but the fact remains that if I had to sit next to this woman at a social function, I would run like hell in the opposite direction. And I can talk to ANYBODY. Obama, on the other hand, feels like somebody I'd like to have over to dinner some night or just hang out and have a couple of beers with. Yes, yes, I know that this is a hell of a thing to base a vote on, but he's bringing something to the political table we haven't seen in years - genuine excitement and, by God, youth involvement. And boy, do we need it.

I listen to and talk with Sarah's pals (well, they're mine too), and I get such a sense that this generation is dying to do something, but they've really had no banner to fight under, the way we did back in the dear dead '60s - no common cause, no leader. If Obama can harness these bright, concerned, well-read kids - wow. Wow, wow, wow.

Speaking of the '60s, I thought of a story. (Sarah, you can quit reading now because you're really bored with this story.) This is the best illustration I can give of what it was like to be alive and goofing around in those great days.

My friend Annie and I went to our neighborhood bar one Sunday afternoon and met our friends Ron and Herb. We were all hungry, so we decided to get a pizza from the corner. Well, by the time we had gone through the usual pizza debate (sausage? pepperoni? peppers? anchovies? mushrooms?), we discovered that somehow we'd managed to drink all the pizza money. But Annie and I had a pot roast in the icebox just waiting to be cooked. So we went back to our place, and us girls got the roast in the oven.

Well, of course, a pot roast takes three hours to cook. So Ron and I took the bedroom, and Annie and Herb took the living room(with Herb's dog, who had been made very happy with some hot dogs we had in the icebox), and we managed to occupy ourselves until the pot roast was done. At which point Annie and I put a nice tablecloth on the table, and opened the wine and got out the cloth napkins, and we all sat down to our lovely Midwestern Sunday evening meal - pot roast with carrots and onions and potatoes, and salad, and wine. The only thing that was the least little bit different from a thousand other Chicago families that day was that we hadn't actually bothered to get dressed before dinner...

Boy, do I miss the '60s.

Love, Wendy

Monday, March 10, 2008


I got me some money! Well, actually, this only looks like money to someone who's been as broke as I am - and anyway it's mostly already spent spent on bills. But still...

My Federal tax refund came today - a whole $435.66 - and I am going to par-tay! This means that I'm going to 1. finally finish paying off my tab at the corner deli; 2. send $21.12 to AT&T, which they've handed over to a collection agency - no, I can't figure this out either, since I wasn't even aware that I OWED AT&T $21.12. But I figure if they spent the money to hire a collection agency to get it, I might as well send it to them, whatever it's for; 3. I'm gonna go hogwild at Duane Reade and buy a whole BOX of No Nonsense knee high panty hose because mine have all died (no, no, I DON'T wear them with skirts...ick); 4. I'm going to put something in my really tiny ING savings account; 5. GROCERIES! Lots and LOTS of groceries, like those neat cheap crabcakes from Trader Joe's; and 6. CHINESE FOOD! YAY!

Isn't this the most friggin' pathetic thing you ever heard? Hey, I may even go hogwild and buy a paperback book. Wow (don't laugh - do you know that they are now charging $10.99 for some mass market paperbacks?). I've been busy rereading everything in my library (which, thank God, is really extensive and has a lot of things in it that I like rereading) because I can't afford anything new. Oh, hey - I can also go back to the library and pay them for that damn book that I never returned because I couldn't find it - I found the book but it's so late now that the standard $26 the library charges for a non-returned hardcover is going to be cheaper than the late fees. And then I can go to the library every week again.

Wow! All of a sudden life is rosy again. I tell you, it takes very little to make me happy. Food to eat, books to read, knee-highs. (I'd like a sex life, but one can't have everything, I guess. And being too broke to go out anywhere kind of limits my options in terms of ever meeting anyone. Shit, we even have a female mailperson.)

And I've still got $200 or so coming from the State of New York!

Love, Wendy

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Utter Bliss

Now this is living. The wind is howling madly, the trees outside my windows are whipping back and forth, and it is just awful out there. And I am about to be neatly tucked up in my nice flannel nightgown under my nice warm quilt with a nice murder mystery and some nice warm cats (whom I hope will refrain from throwing up on my nice warm quilt). And I just ate a nice big steak for dinner and am finishing my nice cold beer as I type.

Life doesn't get any better than this. Well, at any rate, not in this weather.

Love, Wendy

Friday, March 7, 2008

Totally Random Thoughts

Yes, well, it's Friday. Actually, a pretty good Friday. I got my Blimpie (YAY!) and I had a five dollar coupon from Duane Reade (if you don't have a Duane Reade savings card, get one - the points rack up really fast - I mean, like we're all in Duane Reade about once a day anyway, right?) - so I got Peeps to go with my Blimpie and Diet Coke (and a new scrubby poof for the shower because mine had disintegrated and some DR bootleg Tylenol - aren't you glad you know all this?). I love Peeps, even if the sight of me eating them causes my kid (kid, my ass - she's 23) to make ghastly gagging noises. Totally committed to healthy eating - that's me.

And it's friggin' raining again. Look, it's still winter. It's been winter for a while. I want SNOW, damn it - not this unending cold rain. I swear to God I've mildewed. And on the rare occasions it DOES manage to snow, it gets all pretty and snowy and gorgeous for about two hours and then guess what? IT FUCKING RAINS AGAIN. Arrgggh. I'm going to write a very stiff letter of complaint to Al Gore - it's all his fault. He got so hopped up about global warning that even the climate is agreeing with him. (Actually, I do most certainly believe he's right - I also know for an absolute fact that at some point in say, early April, when it's been like 65 for three days straight and everybody's starting to think about putting the winter clothes away, we're gonna get hit with about 73 inches of snow. Never fails.)

This morning I saw a gal on her way to work wearing four inch heeled purple satin pumps. Who on earth wears purple satin pumps to the office? I couldn't see the rest of her outfit under her coat, damn it - I'd be really, REALLY curious as to what sort of office outfit she thought went well with purple satin stilettos. Scratch that - I don't actually think I want to know. (Matching hot pants?) I'm not at my best early in the morning anyway.

And while we're on the subject of mornings and getting to the office, I'm getting pretty sick of my white frosted doughnut with sprinkles every morning. The thing is that I always stop at the coffee wagon outside my office and the very nice guy who runs it always sees me coming and is convinced (because I guess I got that particular doughnut three times in a row some time back) that that's what I want every morning - anyway, he's so thrilled that he always remembers my order that I just would feel terrible changing it. Would somebody please remind me that there's such a thing as being TOO damn nice?

Meanwhile, in other news, my peculiar neighbors have gotten peculiar to the point where I now think Bellevue is probably the right place for them. We moved into this little townhouse in a row of little townhouses on far West Charles Street in the Village in 1992. Some years later this gorgeous young couple moved in to the left of us.

Well, she got herself elected president of the co-op and proceeded to stage an all-out persecution of us that was deeply amazing (now, remember, we were there first). She called us on every tiny infraction - the music was too loud, we were drug dealers (because our friends were coming in and out all the time), there was a terrible smell coming from our house, we had too many parties, our garbage wasn't wrapped right - well, it went on and on and on. Complete with banging on the wall if she heard anything she didn't like. (This included, one evening, me playing a recording of Oklahoma at 7 pm.) She tried at one point to get a co-op rule made that stated that there was to be no noise after 8 pm on weekdays and 10 pm on weekends. In the VILLAGE?

All this has now calmed down, but she and her husband, who now have two adorable children, have decided that they need more space. Well, of course, the obvious and logical solution to this is for them to move to that nice gated Westchester community where they belong anyway. But that's not their solution. In the last two days, first she and then her husband have asked me if I would sell Sarah's room (Sarah being my daughter - read her blog which she's going to show me how to link to - she's amazing) to them.

Um, WHAAAT? Let's see, you persecuted me for years and now you want to take over PART OF MY HOUSE? Yup. They want to cut through the wall between my kid's bedroom (even if she actually lives in Bushwick now, she still comes home when she doesn't feel like making the long subway trek out there - and when she's out of cigarettes and/or feels that the food in my icebox is better and anyway, Mom's always got got clean socks) and their kids' bedroom and TAKE OVER PART OF MY HOUSE? It's not just me, is it? Does anybody else think these people need to be put away? Who on earth would even THINK about asking something like this?

Sheesh. I wonder if I could reinforce that wall with solid steel, just in case these overprivileged little people attempt to remodel in the middle of the night. Well, hell - if they could come up with that batty notion, they're capable of anything.

Love, Wendy

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why Does Everybody Hate Me?

Honestly, people are rude these days.

I am a smoker. I love to smoke. When I die, you are going to have to pry the cigarette out of my cold dead hand. (Yes, yes, I know what I'm liable to die shut up already. I've already cut down from two and a half packs a day to less than one, but I'm not going any further than that. So there.)

However, because I truly hate people snapping and snarling at me, I go through the most amazing contortions to make myself the world's most considerate smoker. Obviously I don't smoke in other people's homes or cars or in airplane bathrooms or any of the other places you're not allowed to smoke (i.e., everywhere in the entire sidereal universe). And when I go away for the weekend to one of my family, all of whom live in houses with gardens, I even take a baggie with me so that they won't be stuck with filters all over their lawns. Tobacco is biodegradable - filters aren't. So I don't leave them in other people's gardens.

You can therefore understand why I get so infuriated when, after all that I go through to keep my horrible habit as unannoying as possible, people go out of their way to attack me.

I mean, perfect strangers. I was calmly walking down the street one day when some young girl made a detour to tell me I should quit smoking. I had never seen this person before in my life. Another time I was standing outside my office having a cigarette when some guy (again a perfect stranger) walked all the way across the building's plaza to tell me not to smoke. Well, if it bothers him that much, why the hell is he coming so close to the cigarette? And once I came out of a building on 57th and 6th during rush hour. There were city buses and about ten trucks (not to mention the usual cars and taxis) in a huge traffic jam in the street, all honking madly and sending up completely visible plumes of black exhaust. As soon as I lit my cigarette, some guy walking by started to cough ostentatiously (and in a very fake manner - trust me, I know coughs) and wave his hand around in front of his face. My God, if the guy is that goddamn sensitive, whatever is he doing on a midtown street at rush hour to begin with?

But my all-time favorite was the day in Washington Square Park when I was sitting on a bench reading a book and smoking. Now I had carefully picked this particular bench because it was empty and there were very few people anywhere near it (I said I was considerate, didn't I?). Then a woman sitting on the bench opposite me, across a rather wide path, sent her four year old daughter over to tell me that "Mommy says you shouldn't smoke."

Now we're getting into the realm of complete idiocy. Can you imagine sending a four year old to talk to a stranger in the middle of Washington Square for any reason? Given the amount of space between where I was and where this mother was, I could have easily knifed the kid before her mom could even get off the bench. This is loony behavior.

Honestly, I have often wanted to stop total strangers on the street to complain about what they're doing (being a tourist in Times Square when I'm trying to get to the subway during the Christmas season is one of my grounds for complaint). And I see these huge fat families walking along eating enormous ice cream cones with bag of potato chips tucked in their pockets and I want to grab them and say, "What on EARTH are you doing to your body?" And many, many times (such as when we had that snow a few days ago and I spotted some poor fashion victim tromping about with bare legs and leopard print stilettos on) I have wanted to grab someone and yell, "For God's sake, don't you know how to dress?"

But I don't. Because I have manners and I don't think it's any of my business how other people choose to live if they're not doing it in my lap. (Although I might make an exception for those damn tourists, who ARE doing it in my lap by stopping dead in their tracks without warning to go, "Look at them lights, Maud!")

I mean, really...just let me go to hell in my own way and I'll let you go in yours, okay?

Love, Wendy

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Well, I am thrilled. You see, I am completely addicted to certain kinds of fast/junk food (although not all the time, for heaven's sake) - I like McDonald's, I think Popeye's fried chicken (spicy, please) is wonderful (and the biscuits!), I love Taco Bell (well, what's a rat or two among friends?), but I love, love, LOVE Blimpie. A Blimpie BB is absolutely heaven, as far as I'm concerned, and I've begun to get a persecution complex recently, because it seems that more Blimpies are closing and more Subways are opening. Every time I get to a new temp job I run around trying to locate a convenient Blimpie, and on this particular job, I found one on 46th betwen 5th and 6th which was perfect, as the job is on 44th and 6th.

At which point, after I got exactly one Blimpie out of it, I went by the next week (I only buy food on Friday - payday - the rest of the time I bring my own) and the door was half closed and the steel shutter was down. I was devastated. I mean, my one little tiny indulgence. They have an Italian hero in my current office cafeteria, but it's $5.49, as opposed to my nice $3.99 Blimpie - and anyway it's decent, but kind know...upscale. If I want junk, by God, I want junk.

So I sadly gave up on my convenient Blimpie.

And today (three whole weeks later) I walked by, and lo and behold, evidently they only closed to do something or other - the once a year cleaning of the slicing machine, perhaps? - AND THEY'RE OPEN AGAIN! There really is a God.

What I was actually doing over there on 46th was going to the 99 cent store. Is there anything more absolutely wonderful in the whole world than a 99 cent store? Aisle after aisle after aisle of truly bizarre things. What do people do with all those artificial flowers, for heaven's sake? And do I really want to know? And the little ceramic gnomes. And wine glasses with fake gold rims that wash off after one use. And the china in patterns that don't match anything, ever.

And shelves and shelves of things like Fabuloso. Now, for those of you who decorously do your shopping in supermarkets, I have to tell you that Fabuloso is just great. It is the low budget Mr. Clean, with lots and lots more scent to it. Use the Fabuloso Lavender scent and everything you own will smell like synthetic lavender for the rest of your natural born life. And then there are the body creams and body washes and all of that stuff, and they all have brand names that are sort of closish to what Duane Reade stocks but not quite, or they are what Duane Reade stocks, but all the labels are in Arabic or Portuguese. Or they have plain old American labels (there's a LOT of Suave in every 99 cent store) but they've been out of circulation for quite some time.

And these places also have clothes, sort of. There's almost invariably a rack of underwear in the most bizarre colors you could possibly imagine - day-glo peach size 12 underpants, anyone? And sweaters of a fascinating ugliness - who designs these things? And who ever thought they might have been a good idea to begin with? Orange and green with purple? (Honest. I saw it today.)

And shelves and shelves of every possible size and shape of plastic container. Do people really buy THAT many plastic containers? I mean, obviously we all have some (if for no other reason than that it's really hard to wrap leftover soup in tin foil), but THAT many sizes?

And pots and pans, and scales and discontinued toaster ovens (discontinued why, one wonders - do they blow up?) and really unattractive wrapping paper, and paper plates in purple and orange - I cannot imagine any kind of food that would look good on a purple or orange plate, myself. And really cheap luggage, and deeply strange sheets ("150 thread count") in more odd color combinations, and kitchen bits and pieces and paintbrushes and roller sets and...

Well. If you want to spend a completely fascinating hour, go to a 99 cent store. Bet you can't get out without buying something.

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Love Affair With H&M

I mean, how can anyone not love H&M? All that yummy clothing for no money. It's not, you understand that I plan to buy clothing at the moment - as you know if you've read my previous post - but at least H&M is something I can aspire to if, say, for three weeks or so I save up like 10 bucks a week. I think that's neat. And they've got some great stuff for spring and summer - nice bright colors, finally - recently they've been majoring in brown and black, which is chic, but somewhat depressing.

Of course, there's a problem - there's ALWAYS a problem - which is that I have to go early in the morning so I can try things on without standing in line for three or four days. This is because I have an entirely peculiar body. Why they can't make decent clothng for people built like me - what with the three and half arms and the seven tits - I just don't know.

No, really, in terms of getting anything at all to fit me, I'm a mess. I'm 5'3" tall, just about (okay, not quite, but almost). I wear a size six - I keep thinking I'm overweight, but intellectually I know perfectly well I'm not. It's just the prevailing mode of thought attempting to tell all women that if they don't wear size zero they're overweight. (I still think I could stand to lose ten pounds.)

HOWEVER. All of my height is in my legs (which have been much admired, thank you). This means that the top of me is a size 6 petite in the shoulders and arm length. But I'm busty. So in order to get a blouse to button without pulling, I need a size ten petite. And I can't wear petite pants because they're too short (they hit just at the ankle bone and I don't like cropped pants), so I have to get regular pants and wear a two inch heel if I don't want to sit around hemming things all the time.

You try and fit someone like this. I can't buy a pantsuit all in one piece because the jacket is fine but the pants are too short. I have trouble with dresses because if the top fits, the skirt is too short, unless it's a longer length type skirt, in which case it hits me at some odd part of my leg and makes me look stumpy - so we're back to hemming things again.

And of course there's the problem which everybody seems to have, which is that sizes don't seem to be sizes any more - they're merely suggestions. One manufacturer's size six is somebody's else size eight and somebody else's size four. I once - true story - bought two identical pairs of jeans from the same stack in the same size on the same day at Old Navy - and they were slightly different in size. Go figure.

Of course, I'm not buying any clothes for spring unless some sort of financial miracle occurs (from my mouth to God's ears). But you know, given my fit problems, maybe this isn't a bad thing. Hey, given my current circumstances, I'll take any damn upside I can find. And besides, I don't really need clothes at the moment. Although, there was one really cute dress...and I can save up for it in about three weeks...and if I go to the Soho store really early on a Saturday...

Love, Wendy