Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Live Strong

I'm not good at saying goodbye. I'm especially not good at saying goodbye permanently.

Unfortunately the last few months have given me too many opportunities. Cancer claimed more people important to me this spring and summer than I care to count and it's taken me a while to regain my certainty that every day, every minute, somebody kicks cancer's ass and wins.

I mean, I did it twenty-eight years ago. I know miracles happen. Survivors are out there and our numbers are growing. They're just not growing fast enough to suit me.

Randy Pausch's death hit me hard, same as it hit millions of other people. He never held out false hope but I couldn't stop myself from believing he'd win in the end. In a way he did: nobody ever fought with more grace and joy than he did. If you ever want to understand what it means to fully live in the moment, look no further than Randy.

Pancreatic cancer is a bitch. My mother was diagnosed with it on March 28, 2001 and on May 6, 2001 she was dead. It's cruel. It's vicious. It doesn't give a damn who you are. It probably sounds crazy but I scan the 'net for updates on Patrick Swayze's fight with pancreatic cancer and actually cheer when the news is good. Somewhere, some time, somebody is going to beat it and I can't wait.

I just hope it's soon.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That Kind of Day

It was hot. (Hellishly hot.) Humid. (Horribly humid.) Because I am not in my right mind, I decided to go outside to take a photo of the Baby Surprise Jacket I knitted for M's new granddaughter.

In my eagerness to snap the perfect picture, I forgot all about the giant maple tree root and as I was falling on my face I took the photo on your left.

Don't you love our lawn? All that nice brown goodness. Considering it's been hot, humid, and rainy this whole disgusting summer, wouldn't you think the grass could muster up a little bit of green.

This definitely wasn't one of my better days.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Didn't Forget

I didn't forget. It just seems that way.

We were driving down I295 yesterday morning, zooming past Exit 65 and the double-headed sculpture I posted last time and the light bulb went off. Good grief! I never explained it, did I? I set up the question, posted the photo, then left you wondering if I'd (just possibly) lost what's left of my mind.

The jury's out on that last question but I can finally put you out of your collective misery about the double-headed sculpture.

The sculpture is called Head 2 Head. The artist is John Martini. And you can find it at one of the more amazing places in New Jersey: Grounds for Sculpture. I mean, you think you know the Garden State. We're the Sopranos, Springsteen, Atlantic City, and the world's best tomatoes. Well, guess again. We're also an incredible sculpture park right near (of all places) Trenton! Yes. Stephanie Plum territory. I laugh every time we drive past the Head 2 Head and wonder, "What would Stephanie think?"

Note: Head 2 Head is part of the Sculpture Along the Way program run by Grounds for Sculpture. If you love art, if you love sculpture, if you love the unexpected, keep your eyes open next time you're on I295. You won't be disappointed.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guess what this is

Anyone want to guess what this is and where I saw it?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ain't What It Used To Be

I'm talking about FedEx. FedEx, the company that used to deliver flawlessly and efficiently. FedEx, the company that never lost a package, never misdelivered a package, never told you that you live in Avenel when you don't even know exactly where Avenel is.

Ask me if I'm happy.

I spent a good part of this evening trying to track down a missing package only to be told that I wasn't home (my home in Avenel) today when they tried to deliver it.

Oh, really? Then who was that poor drudge in her tattered jeans and faded t-shirt? The one who was locked in mortal combat with her laptop all day?

The doorbell didn't ring once. Nobody knocked. The phones were silent.

Maybe Easter Bunny could deliver the package next year with the basket of candy and those pretty pastel eggs.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bad Movie/Good Movie

File this under There Really Is No Justice.

Friday night we Netflixed FOOL'S GOLD. Let's just say the title should also serve as a warning. It starred Matthew McConnaughey and Kate Hudson and Donald Sutherland and a number of other people who really should be deeply ashamed of themselves for participating in this piece of merde. I mean, I was sitting at one end of the sofa knitting. Roy was sitting at the other end using his laptop. Somewhere at the mid-point of the story (oh, maybe five or six hours in) we looked up at the screen and simultaneously said, "That's still on!?" Yeah, it only seemed like an eternity.

What a disappointment. I wasn't expecting Shakespeare in the Park but I was expecting some laughter and sexual chemistry between Hudson and McConnaughey. Zip. Zero. Nada. Maybe next time they should consider hiring a screenwriter.

Ah, but last night! Last night we watched CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR and loved it. Totally loved it. Neither one of us had expected anything more than passing interest (we're not crazy about either Hanks or Roberts but we both think Phillip Seymour Hoffman is fan-freaking-tastic) so imagine our surprise when in less than five minutes we were hooked. Completely hooked. Fascinated, amused, entertained, titillated, intrigued, challenged, you name it. (BTW, Amy Adams is going to have a big future.)

When they ran the credits, I found out why: Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin.

Talent will out every time.
Even if FOOL'S GOLD had better box office.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

I Stand Corrected

Three cheers for New Zealand and all who dwell there! You are people after my own heart. (Besides, my grandmother El grew up in Auckland--on Ponsonby Road--during the early part of the 20th century so I feel connected.)

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Why I Love America

I'm not sure this kind of thing happens in any other country. I mean, it requires American ingenuity to even think about attaching your lawn chair to a boatload of balloons and taking a little two state flight.

I only wish I'd thought of it first!

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Friday, July 4, 2008

I Almost Forgot

I almost forgot to tell you we're running a month-long contest at Romancing the Yarn. Go over there, scroll down to June 30th (I think; you'll find it, I'm sure) and follow the instructions to enter. I'm giving away yarn every single day so if you knit or crochet (or love someone who does) please join the fun.

Hope you're having a wonderful Independence Day. It was dreary and muggy and rainy today here in central NJ but a good time was had by all. We have one last Fourth of July tradition to uphold: time for our annual viewing of 1776. I know this sounds crazy but to me it's one of the most romantic movies in the world.

And if you didn't watch John Adams on HBO, make sure you catch it on DVD. I'm a John-and-Abigail groupie so it was my idea of pure heaven.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Summer in the City

<--Pennsylvania State Insect

It was after dusk when I walked down to get the mail and I was greeted by a Fourth of July weekend celebration of fireflies! Our lawn was aglow with them and I was instantly hurled backward in time to when I was a kid growing up in Queens, longing for lightning bugs (that's what we called them) to fly by our apartment window.

Never happened. Or if it did,I don't remember it. The truth is we had to drive over to my grandmother's house in North Arlington, New Jersey to get our fill of fireflies.

Funny how I grew up making fun of the Garden State only to end up living here and loving it. (Fate definitely has a wicked sense of humor.)

Not too many people would consider North Arlington to be "the country" but back in the 1950s it seemed it to a city kid like me. She lived on Eckhardt Terrace and had a big grassy backyard and apple trees.

And fireflies. And a township Fourth of July celebration that lit up the Jersey skies. I wouldn't have admitted I actually liked NJ for the world (I had my New Yorker pride to consider) but those summer days and nights west of the Hudson are some of my best summer memories.

Check out The Firefly Files. If I'd known they looked like that, I never would have let them sit in the palm of my hand!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I'll Never Understand

I've been writing for a living for a very long time now (over twenty-five years) and I still don't understand how it works.

It's 5:11 in the morning and the ideas are flowing. Why didn't those ideas flow at nine in the morning or one in the afternoon or even ten o'clock at night? Why did they wait until I crawled into bed around two-thirty and start yammering in my ear?

I got up, staggered downstairs, and turned on the computer. Both Luke and Bridget were talking to me non-stop, so quickly my hands could barely keep up.

Trust me it's been a long time since that happened.

I'm tired. I'm hungry. I'm wired. I'm writing.

Outside the birds are beginning to sing.

Inside I'm wondering why I didn't keep that job at McDonald's.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unintended Consequences

Read this (my guest blog over at Fresh Fiction) and then we'll talk.

Finished? Okay. Everything I said about my movie-going experience was 100% true. The happily-ever-after ending thrilled the audience, right down to the I-can't-believe-they're-actually-doing-this scene where Big slips a Manolo (or was it a Choo?) on Carrie's bare foot. (Why didn't they just name her Cinderella and be done with it?)

Now you know I was just about the biggest Sex and the City scholar around. I'm telling you I analyzed those episodes. I can repeat the dialogue. I've spent hours wondering how a female-centric show managed to convey so much about the characters by revealing so little in the way of back story. I mean, we're all about the back story, aren't we?

I went to see the movie during its first week. I even cried in a spot or two. So how come I haven't watched a single episode of the TV show since? Not one. Not through HBO On Demand. on one of my recently-replaced DVDs.

For some reason I no longer care. While the movie hit many right notes, there was a lot about it that was dead wrong. The length, for example. A judicious 30 minute pruning would have helped enormously. And while you're at it, ditch the hideous scene where Carrie tries on her entire closet while Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha watch. And ditch the Fashion Week scene while you're at it. And in case you've forgotten, NYC is the fifth character in SATC. The show doesn't work in any other city. The LA scenes were dreadful. The Mexico scenes weren't any better. Stay where you belong, girls. You just don't translate across the Hudson. (Or the Rio Grande, for that matter.)

I wish I could put my finger on what killed the buzz for me. Maybe it's the fact that my idea of Mr. Right isn't a guy who turns into a wuss the night before the wedding and bolts just because you don't pick up your cell phone. Not to mention he's already a two-time loser. Call me psychic, but this doesn't bode well for the future.

How can you base a happy ending on uncertainty? A romantic happy ending is based on the possibility of forever. I'm not sure Carrie and Big will make it to next Thursday.

I loved wondering what happened to the girls after the show ended.

Now that I know, I'm not so thrilled.

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