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A Royal Brunch April 30, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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On Tuesday morning, before he left for his photo shoot, I jokingly said to Tim, “Do you want to get up at 4 am on Friday to watch the royal wedding?” and he looked at me and said, “I had absolutely no idea how you were going to finish that sentence,” and of course he knew I was kidding, but later that day Laura, who lives up in the Heights, issued an invitation to a royal wedding brunch at her place, as she would be DVRing the thing, and though I didn’t care about the royal wedding, I do care about hanging and partying with the neighborhood gals, and I’d missed the last event because I’d been so sick, so even though it meant taking time off in the middle of the workday, I said yes, of course I’d be there, and Friday morning I whipped cream and folded in raspberries and capped strawberries and chilled champagne, then accessorized my jeans with a red floppy hat and red shoes and pearls, and I hauled it all up—me, the food, the drink—to Laura’s just after 11, thinking I was late, but only Laura and Dayna were there, Dayna in a fedoralike hat, not because anything about hats had occurred to her but because she wanted to keep her head warm—still, it was a great hat—and Deb and Lynda arrived soon after, Lynda in a crazy hat decorated with purple hearts and a long purple ribbon, made especially for her at a work team-building exercise, and eventually Rhonda and Sarah showed up, who had just attended a planning meeting for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration, and they were both very dressy, and Rhonda brought spotted dick, a treat for us Americans, and it was quite good served with the whipped cream and berries (as you might imagine), and there was a quiche and a savory cheesecake and deviled eggs and clam dip and Pimms but no tea and no crumpets and we ate and drank and fast-forwarded through 5½ hours of BBC coverage and marveled at the hats and were shocked by some of the scary language in the ceremony and wondered how and why Great Britain still supports a royal family when austerity measures abound, and the two little girls with whom I am in love, Edie (age 20 months) and Eugenia (age 10 months), were also there being completely adorable, even more adorable than all those child attendants in the wedding party, if you want my humble opinion, and Rhonda’s son Ben had fashioned a fascinator for Edie out of pipe cleaners, and when Edie donned that fascinator, she quite outdid us all.

Photo by Laura, alterations by Rhonda


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One Year After April 29, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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A year ago today, the devoted drove into the parking lot of our beloved gym and found a sign saying that its doors had closed.

I, blessedly, was in New York and was spared the news for a couple of days.

My faithful NordicTrack was called back into nearly full-time action immediately. Within a couple of months, I made an overdue, expensive repair (who knew one of those little wheels could cost more than a hundred bucks?). I bought a pack of twenty day passes to the gym 25 miles away, then another ten at a fund-raising silent auction. I’d drop in on that gym when I was in town for work.

I began attending the yoga class I should have been going to all along.

I walked, biked, and skied the rail trail behind my house. I occasionally hit the ice rink when it was open. I snowshoed up Porch Hill a couple of times. I went to the hotel gym almost every day on Portland trips.

I continued to stretch with L., one of the owners, who had given me monetary credit for unused membership funds. When those funds were depleted, I re-upped on the stretching sessions. First they were at L.’s house, but when zoning issues were discovered, the sessions were quietly moved to the gym. Technically, they still own it until foreclosed upon.

I was at the gym the day all the equipment was taken out. It was completely empty.

But then, something happened. I began to hear rumors that maybe the gym was opening again. People kept asking me about it, thinking surely I’d be the one to know. But I’d gotten behind in setting up my stretches, and I didn’t know anything.

The owners had begun buying equipment at auctions. People could come in and use it for $10/week. They would stay at the gym until foreclosure, whereupon they hoped they’d find another smaller, more manageable space.

If I was there for a stretch, I could use the gym for free that week.

So at the end of January, I eased back in. In March, it was looking like I was becoming a regular. Then April struck, which plunged me first into illness and then another trip to Portland. When I returned this week, it had been a month since I’d been to the gym.

It’s strange going back. I still love it—or, I was beginning to love it again those few weeks in March. But only part of it is being used, and sometimes I find—even being in the building with familiar faces—that I miss my old gym, and I miss the classes, and I miss the instructors. It’s good, but it’s not the same.

Plus, of course, once one changes one’s life and gets the original love off the radar, it’s hard to simply drop it back in. Things are different now. If I get on my own elliptical, that’s at least a half hour saved in my day.

So here, a year later, I’m happy to be able to go to my old gym sometimes. But I still mourn for what was. The pangs can hit anytime—even within the gym’s own walls.

Table of Contents April 27, 2011

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Chapter 1, in which the characters are introduced and a strange turn of events compels you to read on

Chapter 2, in which Stanislav decides to enter the dark cave

Chapter 3, in which a favorite umbrella is left at a restaurant

Chapter 4, in which Boris wonders whose baby Natasha is carrying

Chapter 5, in which a penny is found on a city street

Chapter 6, in which Sergio aches with unrequited love

Chapter 7, in which tickets for the concert are completely sold out

Chapter 8, in which a gibbon escapes from the zoo

Chapter 9, in which Nadia has a tad too much to drink

Chapter 10, in which Anna’s son saves his own money to purchase a comic book

Chapter 11, in which a poem is written on a cocktail napkin

Chapter 12, in which a public restroom cannot be found

Chapter 13, in which Melanie unwittingly sets the time machine to 1506

Chapter 14, in which a hunt for wild boar is organized

Chapter 15, in which Naveen accidently runs over Remy

Chapter 16, in which Jasminka discovers a key slipped under her door

Chapter 17, in which something unnerving happens on the subway

Chapter 18, in which Viktor wonders what the dog just ate

Chapter 19, in which a rare bird is sighted in Oklahoma and multiple modes transportation are employed in a dash to the scene

Chapter 20, in which paranoia overtakes Bucky and Slim

Chapter 21, in which Wayne comes face to face with a wallaby

Chapter 22, in which Vladmir’s butterfly collection mysteriously disappears

Chapter 23, in which Irina stumbles upon a hidden camera

Chapter 24, in which the resolution satisfies you, but enough intrigue remains to compel you to purchase the sequel

April April 21, 2011

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It feels almost like a lost month, an odd suspension of animation—ever since the fire, which was really the end of March, and then the funeral, which I had every intention of writing about as Loss (3), even as I was writing Loss (1) and Loss (2). But then, that night before the funeral, in a hotel room hours from home, my throat swelled, and I became sick with something that knocked me out for two weeks, something I am still recovering from. I was sick in a sleep-all-day way at first, and went to see a doctor twice, the first week to be sure it wasn’t strep, the second week because of the laryngitis.

I had thought I was getting better. I attended the benefit event for the owners of our recently-lost-to-fire country store, fully participating in that incredible outpouring of community support. A couple of hours afterward, my voice disappeared for nearly five days.

I don’t feel like writing about the funeral.

Still, I came to Portland for the week with Tim, refusing to be left behind. We go to bed early and get up late (for us). My voice got tired after a couple of long phone conversations, after drinks with Len Monday night and lunch with Suzanne Tuesday. I kept quiet yesterday.

I am not getting enough done. I can’t seem to concentrate. I wander from shop to shop in search of a gift but am coming up short. I try on some clothes, but as usual, meh. I get a haircut that looks great til I wash my hair—now I have to get it fixed.

I have yet to take a long walk on the prom by the water. It’s still cold. Maybe today.

Foals April 16, 2011

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Mali and Bridgett have been discussing New Zealand versus American spellings, various pronunciations of words, etc. It reminds me that sometimes I have been embarrassed to have misunderstood fellow Americans because of their accents. I seem to have little trouble understanding the Queen’s English, but I can get into trouble with American Queens.

Living in Vermont, one runs into lots of people who weren’t born here. I’m one of them. Many New Yorkers are among us.

Once, at work, a coworker introduced me to a new part-timer. “Indigo, this is Masha,” she said.

I shook her hand. “Masha,” I said. “What an interesting name. Where is that from?” (thinking maybe Eastern European or Middle Eastern).

She grinned. “It’s Marcia,” she told me.

Then, nearly two weeks ago, I went to a funeral in New Hampshire with another coworker and one of our volunteers. The coworker is a Japanese man, whose accent I have no trouble with at all. The volunteer is from Queens.

I sat in the back seat of the car during the drive. I began resting my eyes. Suddenly, I heard Rose say, “Oh, look at the foals! Indigo, did you see the foals?”

I opened my eyes. “No,” I said. “My eyes were closed. How many were there?” I don’t know much about horses, or if there’s a foaling season per se, but with the rain and snow at this elevation, it seemed odd that foals would be out where we could see them.

Rose was confused. “Just one,” she said, no doubt thinking, Whaddya mean, you dumb shit? “All that water!”

Like I Said, Quite the Contrast, April 14, 2011

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but also oddly complementary.

One of the books I’m reading has sentences like this:

Finally, by one lone lamp Mr. Lyons and I sat, while he told me that he thought my Fordie as lovely as could be, bright, quick to catch a point, vivacious and pretty, but he said he wasn’t taken with Lizzie, that she was simply magnificent to look at, no question about that, but that after looking at her, it was positively disappointing to talk to her, she was so uninteresting and childish.

And the other book I’m reading has sentences like this:

I was thirty-one years old and had learned something very important about writing and the female psyche: If I put in my stories my profound appreciation of women’s rear ends, legs, breasts—hell, the whole body!—and my desire to lick women everywhere and mount them from behind, then women would gobble this stuff up and I’d get laid just like Bukowski.

Two Things That Are All about Me April 12, 2011

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1. Everything

2. Nothing

Book Group Break April 7, 2011

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I have a love/hate relationship with my book group. Not with the people—I really like the people. More with the process and how it sometimes goes down.

I’ve been a part of this book group since its first meeting in January 2001. It’s an almost-once-a-month thing. The host both chooses the book and cooks dinner for everyone else, so it’s a big deal, especially when a lot of everyone else shows up and you’re cooking for sixteen. But there are so many people in the group that at most, one only has to host once a year. I once went two whole years between hostings.

Here in the wilds of Vermont, it’s a great way to get together with a bunch of other women and see each other, and a way to get out during the long winter. (The woman who began the group chose the women-only rule.)

In the beginning, I almost never missed a meeting, and I always finished the book. It’s the deadline-driven, schooled part of me that felt I couldn’t be sloppy about it. Over the years, things have changed. The past couple, my attendance has been sporadic at best (in part because of all those trips to Portland), and I’ve attended a few of these meetings without having read the book, sometimes without ever having intended to.

In the beginning, it used to bug me that it was hard to get anyone to talk about the book. But once I accepted that this was actually a supper club and the book was kind of peripheral, I was better about it. And I was better about not caring if I’d read the book or not.

But what annoys me is when people do actually talk about the book but feel that they need to talk about the book at the exact same time another person is talking about the book. There are many nights when people interrupt each other and talk over each other. I find this very rude, and I completely shut down when this happens. (I wonder if it triggers some deep-seated psychological reaction of something from my past?)

Some people have explained to me that they come from a culture in which interrupting makes it clear that you are interested. I get that. Still, I come from one in which constantly interrupting makes it clear that you are rude.

I’m sure I’m guilty of interrupting people too. I’ve seen me do it.

Sometimes, I should add, we have marvelous, civilized discussions about the book. Sometimes.

The last time I went to book group, in January, it was one of those huge ones, with 15–20 people. Our hostess had put out a delightful spread (the food at these book groups is usually to die for). I had been excited to read the book, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, in part because I had been intending to read it anyway (At last! Someone picked something on my list!). I thoroughly enjoyed it. When the group started talking about the book, there were two or three conversations going on at the same time—likely because the group was so big, and it was as if we’d broken into small discussion groups. I actually wanted to hear what people were saying—well, some of them anyway, and many of them weren’t sitting near me. I pretty much hated what was happening. I can’t follow three conversations at once. I left thinking, I need a break.

I’ve needed and taken breaks before.

So the last couple of months I’ve been working through my own pile of books. I should note that when I am active in book group, I barely have time to read anything but the book group selection. As I read all day for work, my only recreational reading happens for about 10–15 minutes at night before bed. That doesn’t get me through books very fast.

First, I caught up with my Rolling Stone magazines. I normally don’t subscribe to magazines, because of this very lack of time to read, but my niece was selling subscriptions, and I chose something I found myself reading compulsively when visiting friends. The good news is that I discovered that I actually can read on the elliptical and treadmill and bike while working out at the gym-with-no-TV-screens, so I’ve been reading Rolling Stone there.

But books? Well, I finally read Steig Larrson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and was appropriately enthralled. And to feed my inner derby girl, I read Alex Cohen and Jennifer Barbee’s Down and Derby: The Insider’s Guide to Roller Derby, which, although perhaps not necessarily brilliant, is a fun read for those of us into the sport. But mostly, I’ve been reading memoirs: Jessie Sholl’s Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean about Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding, which I devoured quickly before a Portland trip to loan it to my sister, who devoured it equally as quickly. Then Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. My Anabaptist Church of the Brethren upbringing brought me into contact with lots of General Conference Mennonites—I knew all the tunes to the church and camp songs to which Janzen referred and I appreciated both her secular perspective and her respect for the church. Then Craig insisted I read (and sent me) Alison Arngrim’s Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love to be Hated, which was surprisingly good—I didn’t even know about the sex abuse part of Arngrim’s life (I do not watch enough TV or read enough celebrity rags, I guess). It was well written and witty and totally kept my interest. I read my neighbor Rich Marantz’s The Way of the Voice of Peace, which is both memoir and philosophy, Rich being an instructor of Tai chi and Qigong. Happily, I liked the book; it is always risky reading the works of people you know and having an opinion. I then picked up Jonathan Ames’s book of essays, I Love You More than You Know, which is raw and gritty and (at least somewhat) autobiographical and captivating. I’d just started reading it when I got the e-mail about the book group selection for the May meeting.

Phyllis chose an out-of-print book published in 1939 called Maud. She had bought nine copies that she could loan out, and others were to be had online. It turns out this is another memoir of sorts, so that got my attention. It’s a journal, actually, a diary of the life of a teenager/young woman in Cairo, Illinois, in the 1880s and 1890s. I told Phyllis I was in, and she left me a copy on her porch on Saturday.

It’s an old Macmillan hardback that physically reminded me of the books of letters I have on my bedroom shelf between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, and between Shaw and Ellen Terry. But while those musings and yearnings were between adults, this book, so far, is definitely a teenage girl, one, luckily, who can write.

The dust jacket reads:

Maud

Her own journal

edited and arranged for publication by

Richard Lee Strout

A DISCOVERY!

One of the most intelligent, entrancing, and outrageous little flirts who ever “told all” to her private journal.

It’s 590 pages. Apparently Maud has a lot to say. But I’m in. I can pepper it with Jonathan Ames essays, which will be quite the contrast.

Still on my nightstand? Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (long ago borrowed); Emma Donoghue’s Room (a gift); John Crowley’s Little, Big (a gift); Paul Harding’s Tinkers (a gift); Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw (a gift); Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire; and Billy Collins’s Ballistics. There are probably more books I haven’t read hiding within the shelves of said nightstand.

And I’m not afraid to admit (although perhaps I should be) that I’d really like to read all the Harry Potter books straight through, having read the first three that way and the last four as they were released. My memory for literary detail is not so great, so it would be enjoyable to read them together and maintain the thread.

But it would mean a very long book group break.