Miz Shoes

Blue Skies

Yellow poppies, pink azaleas, little purple Johnny jump ups. There are trees in bloom, and little white clouds, swallows diving around in the sky. My god, this is one beautiful piece of earth. The air is mild, and not too moist. Again, if it weren't for the natural and unnatural disasters and the cost of living, I'd move out here in a New York minute.
Well, that and I hate being the only Jew in a one Jew town. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the scars. Won't be doing it again voluntarily in this lifetime.

In my wandering around yesterday, I spotted a second quilt store and a third needlework store. Today we went to lunch by ourselves, and not with the class. They were all going up the valley to some Nouvelle Cuisine joint. The boy wonder and I went to a Mexican restaurant just across the street from our hotel. Yowzah! It was just heaven on a soft tortilla.

We still have another two days of training, and then it's back to the grind. I have decided that converting the hospital site will take me a good six months. At least.
Miz Shoes

Obnoxious In Victory, Bitter In Defeat

That's me. And right now I'm bitter in defeat. I'm particularly bitter because the first round I lost in BlogMadness is the round that doesn't have a double elimination, which means I am just O-U-T. I'm also particularly bitter because when I went to bed last night, with another 3 hours of voting, I was ahead by two. This morning, I am out. By two.

Damn you, No Ping. Damn you and your Mr. Bean-esque tale of buying sex lube at Wal-Mart.

I had pathos. I had tears. I had dead friends. You had sex lube.

What a world, what a world. Where a little girl like you could... oh. Wrong story.

Ah, as my old pal Psycho Patti would have said: Joke 'em if they can't take a fuck. I wonder where she is, now? Last heard to be in Georgia, refusing to take her meds. I miss her. At least she isn't dead. I don't think.

Last night I dreamt about Bill. Dead, of course, like so many other of the people of whom I was most fond. We were doing something with ceramics. I was trying to glaze bisques. But the glaze was thick, like icing, and it wouldn't hold to the clay. I was dipping the clay in the swimming pool, and the glaze was peeling off. Running off, actually, like watercolor paints. I thought that it would make for very interesting effects, if I could just get it to the kiln.

Damn. I hate to lose. (tooth gnashing) But thanks to everyone who supported me and help me get as far as I did.
Miz Shoes

Damn! Naked AGAIN?

I crack myself up, even when I'm asleep.

Last night, I dreamt I was driving down the main street of the old down town of my home town. My husband was driving our car, and he pulled over at a cafe/cd store (which isn't there in real life, except for the cafe). He said, "Get what you need, and I'll drive around the block."

So I went in, to this old shop with wooden floors, and worked my way through the cafe to the Virgin Megastore-type cd store in the back. This was a 5 & 10 in my childhood, and there were still elements of that in my dream: high dark ceilings, wooden display tables. I saw a table that held stationery, with a sign that said 30% off, so I looked to see if they had any Shag art. As I was leaning over, a clerk came up behind me and said something unintelligible about a nice bag. Nice bag? Huh? What am I carrying? I reached around behind myself to feel for my purse and realized that I'm only wearing a sweater and an olive green Coach hobo bag. My ass is hanging out.

"Damn! Naked AGAIN??!!" I yelped. I must be dreaming. I grab the clerk, to see if I can feel him, which I can. Never mind. I know I must be dreaming, and so I force myself to look around the store and confirm that I am, in fact, asleep. I then clap the clerk on the shoulder and say "Thanks, dude. I needed to wake up."

I leave the store, and wait on the corner for my husband to come back with the car. He does, but not before I've yelled at a couple of bad drivers for taking the corner too close. I get in the car, close the door, and wake up.

And yes, it was time for me to get up. As I said, I can crack myself up awake or asleep.
Miz Shoes

Rethinking Drinking

My parents drank. After work, before dinner, my parents would have a cocktail. When we dined out, they would have a cocktail. Maybe two, if things were really swinging.

I drink. After work, I have a glass of wine or two. I may have a martini or two instead. When I dine out, I'll have a cocktail, or two.

Growing up in the late 50s through the 60s, drinking was a sign of adulthood. A sophisticated adulthood. The Rat Pack, James Bond, Holly Golightly: they all drank.

I went away to college and learned how to hold my liquor. Much to my relief, I discovered that I am a jolly drunk. I do not get loud. I do not get sloppy. I do not cry, or fight, or pass out. I tell stories and jokes, and can keep them straight. I may have to speak more slowly than is usual for me, but I do not go out and get knee-crawling, commode-hugging, sloppy, shit-faced drunk. I am a respectable drinker, and I stop long before I have too much.

Drinking is now a sin, like smoking. But that's another topic for another day. It's drink I wish to address. I love alcohol. I love the taste of a single malt scotch. I enjoy the rituals of drink mixing. I love the olive at the bottom of the glass, after it has absorbed as much vodka as it can.

But I am slowly being forced to see that I am an exception among my friends, in that I can say no. I can choose not to drink, or not to drink another. I am dragging my mental heels, but I have to admit that a number of my friends are alcoholics. They drink because they must, not because they can.

I no longer want to be their enabler. I don't enjoy their company when they drink. I don't want to watch my one neighbor become disgustingly drunk after a single martini: channeling the snake gods and terrifying my other guests. I don't want to lie and tell her that I forgive her drunken, savage calls to me when she's had too many. I don't want to have those conversations with her husband, where he denies his own alcoholism. I don't want to hear about still a third neighbor, who is dying of cirrhosis of the liver, and had to be Baker acted just to dry him out enough to be put in a nursing home to die.

I don't want to go out with my friend and watch him pass out in his food, and beg to be let go to wait for the rest of us in the car. I don't want to be part of it when he embarrasses his wife or abuses the waitstaff.

I don't want to carry my other friend into my house to pour black coffee down his throat and wait for him to sober up enough to drive the two miles to his home.

What is wrong with us as a nation, that we cannot do anything without doing it to excess?

We eat to obesity, we drink to unconsciousness, we smoke to death, we drive too fast, we spend too much money and save too little. On the other side of that same coin, we refuse to allow others to make their own choices regarding birth control, or marriage partners. We terrorize people who smoke, wear fur, or eat meat. We insult, abuse, and attempt to discredit people whose political views are different from ours.

We are become a nation of intolerant extremists, and that terrifies me. Enough that I think I need to go home and have a drink.
Miz Shoes

Another Year, Another Rant

I wrote this entry once today, just at the time that Blogger went down. It was, as so many of my posts are, well written, and heart-tugging. It moved effortlessly from pathos to wit and back to scathing sarcasm.

Too bad it went the way of the dodo, into pixel oblivion. Or o-BLIV-ion, as Riff-Raff would say.

So here's the thing. Tonight I will be in a safe place, far away from any windows when the midnight shooting-guns-into-the-air festivities begin in Miami. We seem to have the third world aloha* down. I will be indoors, my pets will be indoors, and the windows will be covered. The laws of physics still apply, friends, even if you are drunk. Goes up: comes down.

The only resolution I will make this year is to help regime change begin at home, in America, where I hope and pray with my whole Yellow-Dog Democrat soul that anyone other than Bush gets elected this fall. Really elected, as opposed to selected, if you know what I mean. And if you don't, then you deserve what you got.

I will drink myself silly tonight and toast friends missing, absent or dead. I will revel in maudlin emotions. I will not let anyone other than my husband see or experience that, however. And I'm not going to detail it here, tomorrow.

I'll end this by paraphrasing another pop-culture hero of mine, Ford Fairlane (aka Andrew Dice Clay) and say: 2003? I fucked it.

* the third world aloha: shooting guns into the air as an expression of a) satisfaction b) dissatisfaction c) violent disagreement d) violent agreement or e) any and/or all of the above.
Miz Shoes

Tell Me How You Really Feel

I'm standing around the temple yesterday morning, waiting for services to begin, feeling virtuous and all, and chewing the fat with a friend from my political life. I'm telling her about the Peaceblog Project, and asking her to write for it. She's enthused. I'm enthused. Her husband walks up.

Background interlude: I like her husband. I've known him for 20-some years, during which time he has declined to hire me on no less than three occasions, and we have both won awards for our work. He is now a nationally sought-after designer and conference speaker. His company has merged, grown, merged and grown again. Did I mention that I like and respect him? I do. A lot. I have a nagging feeling, though, that he doesn't much care for me at all, regardless of our mutual professional respect. And frankly, I'm only guessing and hoping that it is mutual.

So she tells him that I'm telling her about my blog project. He gets a look like he's just stepped in something that was left in the grass by a dyspeptic dog. He says: "Oh, no. Not a blog. People who write blogs have way too much time on their hands. The only thing more pathetic are the people who read them. Who wants to waste time reading someone else's virtual rants?"

OK. He told the unvarnished truth of his own opinion. I can respect that. I'd do the same. Usually do, and usually with the same results: seething resentment and hurt feelings on the part of the person so addressed.

The wife says that she likes reading them. I wander away, feeling like the thing that was stepped in.

I have this suspicion that the reason this man doesn't like me so much is that I'm too much like him. Our birthdays are a day apart. But he came from a prominent local family and is male. I suspect that he looks at me and thinks, there but for the grace of money and gender, go I. And that thought is unsettling. To him, at any rate. Not to me, because, as I said, I actually like this guy. A lot.

Which brings up the next question: Why? Why, if he is usually the same kind of prick that he was in temple yesterday morning, and why, if he continually interviews me, but then doesn't hire me, and why, if I can tell that he barely tolerates social discourse with me, DO I like him?

And that I can't answer. I think because he is so talented, and so funny, and so smart. All the things that make us similar. I think I like him for exactly the same reasons that he doesn't like me: we are very, very much alike. Except that he's real tall, and real good looking and a guy. And rich. And famous. And has his own very successful business. But, you know, except for that....
Miz Shoes

Why Computers Suck

In the old days, back before G-d invented dirt, and I was a young designer who still had visions of a career standing at a drafting table, getting my hands full of ink and 2-coat rubber cement, only designers (or the paste-up guy at the local printer) could produce newsletters and such.

And then came the desktop computer, and it was OK. And then the desktop computer begat the desktop publishing software industry and everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Suddenly, secretaries were using the words "font" and "typeface" interchangeably. Point sizes were replaced by pitch (on IBMs). People with no eye, queer or otherwise, were able to put together newsletters. They used every typeface installed on their machines . . . in each publication. Because they could. Grayscale tints were placed behind blocks of copy. Black boxes contained knocked-out lettering. Xerox machines replaced printers.

And, in the immortal words of Stan Freeberg, "Everybody Wants to be an Art Director."

But they are not. Many, if not most, people haven't got what it takes to be a good graphic designer, top of the line software notwithstanding. If you don't believe me, just look at how the average man or woman dresses to appear in public. If they can't tell what looks good on themselves, what makes them think they can figure out how to make something look good on a page? Huh? Answer me that!

Here at the hospital, I used to have to work with the nurses who would bring me "designed" newsletters to publish. I would say this to them:

Everybody here went to school for something. You went to school to become a nurse. I went to school and studied design. While I could, theoretically, start an IV, it would be painful and messy, and you would not want me to do it to you. Likewise, although, in theory, you could design a newsletter, it would be messy and painful ...

Now I'm out of the printing business, and in the web publishing business, and you know what? I didn't think it could happen, but it's even fucking worse. There are so many more ways to be incompetent. JPGS that are articulated and bitmapped are presented as quality graphics for me to post.

Can I retire yet and become a luddite?
Miz Shoes

Blow Jobs Are the Gateway Drug of Sex

She asked me if I was angry with her. I told her no, that I was merely disappointed. But what you don't know at that age is that there is no such thing as "merely" disappointed. Anger, even hatred, passes, but disappointment and regret last forever.

So I'm disappointed at bad life choices. But it's not my life.

For the record, I said, oral sex is still sex. Let's set the record straight. Penetration of any orifice, with any object, for the express purpose of individual or mutual gratification, is sex. Are we clear now?

You've let the genie out of the bottle, I said. Yeah, she shrugged, but you don't have to always rub the lamp.

Except that blow jobs are the gateway drug of sex. You do this, you do that. You want more, better. More. And where is there left to go, but all the way.

I told her a long time ago that the best sex you'll ever have is the sex you never have. Kissing. Petting. Longing until you literally ache in places you never knew had the capacity to ache. That's the best sex. Because we all know that it's all in the head anyway. I told her, wait. Wait, because no matter what you think, no matter how hard you believe that this one is different, that this guy is your friend and still will be after you give in to the desire, he won't be. It'll be different all right. It will destroy your friendship. Or at the least, alter it forever in ways you cannot imagine or comprehend.

When you are an adult, sometimes you can still be friends after you've had sex with a friend. But not often. It is an end, not a means.
Miz Shoes

Sleep is Good. More Sleep is Better.

Long weekend. Lots of naps. A whole night of uninterrupted sleep that lasted 12 hours. Loafing about in the pool, floating on a raft. Friday night: Thai food. Saturday lunch: Dim Sum. Sunday: home made tabouli with loads of garlic and fresh parsley. Monday early morning: gym. Monday late lunch: Mexican.

Thought for the day: Why, if they hate it here so much, do people stay in Miami and bitch about their life choice?

Solution: move and leave the city to those of us who love it. Less traffic, shorter waits at restaurants. More and more pleasant conversations with those left.

And now, back in the office, refreshed and ready to be a good corporate worker bee.
Miz Shoes

Can I Get Frequent Driver Miles?

The distance between my front door and that of my elderly parents is 132 miles. I have driven it four times since Saturday. On Sunday, on the drive south, I went through a thunder storm of biblical proportions. There was lightning. There was thunder. There were raindrops the size of figs pounding down at a 45 degree angle. There were entire flotillas of cars pulled onto the shoulder, waiting for the deluge to lessen before they attempted to drive. And then there were the idiots with their hazard lights on, driving in front of me. Just to clarify, once and for all, for you morons who think hazard lights are for moving vehicles, hazard lights are for use when your vehicle is stopped, and on the side of the road with the hood up. All you need in the rain is a decent set of wiper blades, and your headlights. Not your parking lights, but your headlights. Putting on your flashers while you are moving makes for unnecessary confusion in the person driving behind you. And that would be me. Believe me when I say that I don't need to be any more confused than I am.

Yesterday's drive south was beautiful. The storms stayed in the west, over the Everglades. The vistas of flat green land and clear blue skies butting up against walls of purple-grey cloud walls were breathtaking. I saw hawks along the border canal, with the Glades shining behind them, but still haven't identified the species, because I haven't located the Audubon Guide.

Now I'm back in the office, unsure what day it is, unsure what I'm on deadline for, and very sure that I'll be doing the drive again next week. If the sun's out, I'm going to take the convertible.
Miz Shoes

Boys’ Night Out

For the last, oh, I don't know, eight years or so, my husband has gone out on Thursday night with the boys. It started as a Boys' Night Out, morphed into Poker Night, collapsed under the weight of Boys Who Had To Win, went on a brief hiatus when he taught on Thursday nights and is now back in full press Boys' Night Out.

This makes Thursdays My Night In. Oh, the vision of me in my chenille bathrobe (lime green) and bunny slippers. Bottle of red, bowl of popcorn and the remote. With our recent acquisition of full digital cable TV, my mind is positively reeling with the possibilities. Mystery Channel. Yoga Channel. Food Channel. Movies or other movies, or classic movies or indie movies. (Insert Homer Simpson voice) mmmmm, Movies.

You may have guessed, by the fact that I couldn't stop at a mere 100 movies in my lame lists, that film (or fil-um, as some would have it) is a huge part of my life. It is, unless you make actually going to see them in theaters at first release a requirement. Because, you see, I hate movie theaters. I hate the sticky floors. I hate the cell phones. I hate the babies. I hate the packs of teenagers. I hate the volume of the kick-ass sound systems. (Note to theater operators: you have great sound, that's why you don't have to turn it up.)

And this brings me back to a frequent, and passionate rant. Just because you have a cell phone, that doesn't mean you have to be speaking on it all the time. If you are expecting an urgent call, here's a thought: stay home and wait for it. If you'd rather be talking to the person on the other end than watching the movie, leave the movie, and go talk to your friend. Or, maybe, the whole idea of being out is to be unavailable. You remember, way back in the dawn of time, you'd get a call and the person would say, "Hey, I tried to reach you last night." and then you would say, "Yeah, but I WAS OUT." Like, out of touch, out of reach, out of pocket, out of the house, out of town.

Here's the next part of a predictable rant: if the child is too young to follow the plot, the child should be left at home with a baby sitter. Remember them? Older kids who watch younger kids while the parents are out. (Out, there's that concept again.) When I went to see "Finding Nemo", the little kid behind me kept asking mom and dad what was happening. My friend finally turned around and said: "The barracuda ate the mother and the babies. They are dead. They are ALL dead." Shut that kid right up. I don't think he wanted to know what was happening after that. But, hell, it was a kid's cartoon, so it's almost a given that the mother or father had to bite it in the first reel. Isn't that Disney's First Law?

Anyway, with digital cable, I don't have to endure the common mass of humanity. I can pay per view. I can watch rugby. I can watch non-stop sci-fi.

Or I can turn everything off, and read a book. Sigh. Boys' Night Out. I love it.
Miz Shoes

Minor League

One would think, after all these years, that I would know better than to take my husband's recommendations for movies. But, no. I went with him last night to see "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

It blew. It blew large, frothy chunks. What unadulterated, misbegotten crap with a side order of dreck.

There was a plot... just less of one than the comic book on which it was based.

There were recognizable characters, but only by name, and only if you'd read a lot of Victorian-era literature, or at least had seen the movies based on those books. Having said that, only the names were familiar, because the characters were mere caricatures of the originals. And original this shlock was not.

How anyone with even a passing knowledge of "Tom Sawyer" would extrapolate that wild youth in to a "Wild, Wild West"-style government agent speaks to the theory of alcohol abuse or pre-frontal lobotomy.

Mina Harker, the widow of Jonathan Harker of "Dracula" fares no better. She has become a, uh, um, chemist? scientist of nebulous specificity. She is also a daylight-dwelling vampire with never-healing neck wounds. Mina also makes dubious wardrobe choices, appearing alternately in widow's weeds with a net veil (I'm guessing that passes for her sunscreen), a marvelously tooled black leather corset and an 1890's stenographer's white middy blouse and walking skirt -- worn with her long hair loose, which, as any indifferent student of the era can tell you, was acceptable only for young, un-married virgins.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the house: Jekyll with red-rimmed eyes and an ability to see (and talk to) Mr. Hyde in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Hyde himself wears a top hat made to fit, despite the fact that the rest of his costume is shredded like the Hulk's clothes after a transformation. In one of the more jarring stylistic anachronisms, Mr. Hyde also looks like he was designed by Todd Mcfarlane. When one of the bad guys drinks the Hyde juice (an entire retort of it in one face-wetting, Gator-Aide style splash) he becomes more Hyde-like than Hyde, and his head and neck appear to be sprouting from somewhere around his sternum. That's when I started laughing and my husband had to poke me and tell me to be quiet, not everyone in the theater wanted to be informed as to the exact points of suckiness.

Alan Quartermain, Dorian Gray, Moriarty and Captain Nemo all make appearances, as does *an* invisible man, but not *the* Invisible Man. This invisible man even refers to "the franchise." Ugh. The dialogue, such as it is, relies heavily on late 20th century American slang.

The star of this mess is probably the Nautilus, Nemo's ship. (And remind me again how Nemo became an Indian, a pirate and a worshipper of Kali?) This is not the Nautilus from Disney's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." No, this a Nautilus the length of a 7th Fleet aircraft carrier and the width of an original VW bug. Except on the inside, in true fantasy film form, where it is incredibly spacious and impeccably white. Despite its size, the Nautilus is capable of navigating the canals of Venice, going so far as to be seen passing under the Bridge of Sighs.

That was when my mind overloaded from the impossibility of it all, and so I cannot explain how the League went from Venice to Inner Mongolia where they destroyed a lot of things and, uh, beat the bad guys (Moriarty and Gray) and lived (?) happily (?) ever after. Except for Gray, who saw his portrait and the evil transferred from it to him and caused him to spontaneously discorporate, and Moriarty who gets shot in the back from half a mile away and goes down, and Quartermain, who may be dead and buried (back in Africa), but who may not stay that way, because there's a witch doctor doing the hoodoo that he do so well over the grave and then thunder splits the sky and the credits roll.

And then so did my stomach, and not from the popcorn.
Miz Shoes

What the Beach Means to Me

I wrote the following as a comment on The Tart Speaks' site. But maybe it bears repeating. Sheila was talking about the beach and in passing said something like if you don't get the beach, skip this part.

Well boy howdee, I get the beach. I spent major chunks of my life, sitting on it staring out into the distance wishing I were elsewhere. I spent other major chunks listening to Jimmy Buffett, an artist who definitely gets the beach.

I understand the beach. I grew up on the coast. When you face the ocean the world you know is behind you and the rest of the world (that is to say, infinite possibility) lies before you. I would stare at the Atlantic and think about what was across the water. I imagined Paris, but it was really the Ivory Coast. Does it matter? Periodically flotsam would wash up to toy with me. A champagne cork overgrown with barnacles. A glass globe from a fishing net. A wine bottle from Portugal. A piece of lava from some unknown and unseen underwater volcano. Fragile purple mollusks that only appeared after a hurricane, brought from some great depth or distance.

And you, gentle reader, do you understand what draws us to the shore?
Miz Shoes

How Cool is This?

You know, every now and then something happens, randomly, that just makes you happy to be in this place and this time. It just happened to me, not five minutes ago. One of the guys from the office on the south side of the building wandered in and said "Manatee sighting." Huh? What do you mean? "I mean, manatees in the canal below our office."

I was out of my seat in a shot and across the hall, nose pressed against the window. Yep. There were two manatees, slowly cruising up stream. A larger and a smaller. I immediately identified them as a mother and calf. Of course, the calf was the size of a Volkswagen, but a calf, nonetheless.

They swam upstream for a while, and then they turned and headed back the way they came. There we were, half a dozen computer geeks, all lined up and smiling at the very randomness of nature in the tropics.

I have a mango in the refrigerator for lunch. I saw manatees. The sun is filtered and hazy today, but from my side of the building I can see the skyline of South Beach.

Hey... it's a great life, if you don't weaken.
Here's a question for all of you: why is inane drivel spoken into a cell phone infinitely more irritating than that same inane drivel spoken to a physically present person? And why does the volume go up when delivered into a cell phone?

For the last time, I do not wish to be privy to every detail of strangers' lives. I barely tolerate being privy to those of my friends.

I don't want to know what is missing from your pantry, as you cruise the grocery store aisle with your cell phone attached to your head, asking your significant other if there is enough toilet paper under the sink. Use a pencil and make a list. Then take it with you and check the items off.

I don't want to know what kind of trouble your children gave the baby sitter, or any other thing you need to tell your mama at eight in the morning as we sit on the train going to work.

And here's something else: put your makeup on before you leave the house. Trim your child's fingernails after they get out of the bath, not as they sit next to me on the train. There is a lesson you are teaching them, and it isn't very pretty.

Private acts should be done in private. Don't floss your teeth in a restaurant. Don't piss on the side of a building. And don't teach your children to do it, when there is a public bathroom inside that very building: the lobby to the public hospital.

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite of Ms. Hepburn's movies was this:

"We're all barbarians."

It was from A Lion in Winter. Rent it. And the next time you feel like shouting into a cell phone, remember it.

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