Happy (Insert Holiday of Your Choice Here), Argh People!

Hanukkah was over yesterday, Christmas ends tonight at midnight, Kwanza starts tomorrow, and I’m sure there are other celebrations I’ve missed (Winter Solstice, Deb?) so here’s wishing you all a fabulous whatever and an even more fabulous 2015.

And in the fine old Argh tradition (2010, 2011, 2013) here’s the official Argh Christmas carol. Because the Drifters work for any any day any where, no matter what they’re singing.

May 25: Wear the Lilac Towel Day

Lilac Towel Day

May 25th, as all fans of Douglass Adams should know, is Towel Day, the day to flaunt your towel in memory of an amazing author. From Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

Adams’ excellent advice about panic (don’t) and the answer to the ultimate meaning of life (42) is second (and third) in importance only to knowing where your towel is at all times. He also understood deadlines:

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But mostly I like his approach to life:

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and

Douglas-Adams-Quote

But that’s not all! May 25th is also, as any fan of Terry Pratchett should know, Wear the Lilac Day. From Wikipedia:

The 25th of May is quietly celebrated by the survivors of the People’s Revolution, which ended the reign of Lord Winder. They wear a sprig of lilac and gather at the Small Gods Cemetery to honour the Watchmen who fell: Cecil Clapman, Ned Coates, Dai Dickins, John Keel, Horace Nancyball, Billy Wiglet, and (albeit temporarily) Reg Shoe. . . . The slogan of the People’s Revolution is “Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably Priced Love, and a Hard-Boiled Egg!”

Pratchett is insanely quotable and even more insanely readable . . .

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And I especially like his approach to drafting . . .

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And his approach to aging . . .

Pratchett

After Pratchett’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, Wear the Lilac Day is now used to raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer’s research.

Because of this, today is the day that Argh Nation Wears the Lilac Towel in honor of two great authors who have brought immense pleasure and truly weird characters into our world. We shall never forget (although we may be a little absent-minded at times and are easily distracted).

RANT: Maureen Dowd Rants

Maureen Dowd trashed women’s fiction in the Times the other day. I’m pretty sure she did it to get letters because she’s fairly bright and that was the most illogical, poorly presented argument I’ve seen in a long time. My son-in-law who is professional blogger tells me that the blogs that get the most response are the ones that thrive, so many bloggers are posting deliberately incendiary posts to stir indignation and get those readers writing. Ann Coulter did much the same thing in public appearances when she criticized the 911 widows. This has the same feeling. It’s not that Dowd’s ideas are outrageous or insulting that gets to me on this one, it’s that they’re so DUMB. And she’s not a dumb woman. So I’m thinking she’s generating mail on this, not serious about her argument. Nobody could be serious about that argument. I managed to not respond to the Coulter insanity because I thought her fifteen minutes should have been up a long time ago, but on this one I tripped: I wrote the Times. They probably got six thousand letters on this article so I keep telling myself that mine didn’t make any difference, but I still feel stupid for letting her get to me and swelling her response numbers. She played me. I’m betting she played all of us. I shoulda known better.

Dear Miss Dowd, A few things: If The Bell Jar has pink on the cover, perhaps that’s a sign that making mock of all books with pink on the cover is not a legitimate approach for honest literary criticism. The “log-rolling blurbs” by other authors who write women-centered books is prompted by the fact that a blurb from Tom Clancy rarely spurs readers of women’s fiction to think, “That’s my kind of book.” This happens in other genres, too. It’s not a plot by women’s fiction writers to take over the bookstore. Even the male writers do it. Your worry that people will confuse the heroines of twenty-first century women’s fiction with the heroines of eighteenth and nineteenth century is unfounded. Readers, I have found, are generally pretty bright about things like that. I think it’s thoughtful of Leon to think that women should read The Red Badge of Courage instead of women’s fiction. I also think Leon should stop projecting his reading taste on all women in general, but I think it’s nice that he cares. I’m puzzled when you say, “The novel was once said to be a mirror of its times,” and then go on to recommend novels that are more than a hundred years old (except for that youngster, 1984). It makes it difficult to discern the actual distress behind this article. Is it that no author today is writing what you want them to? That readers aren’t reading what you want them to? That fiction is “undergoing a certain re-feminization” and that’s upsetting Leon? Or are you against “feminization” in general and you’re seeing this as the thin end of the wedge? Because I think you’re right on that one. Whatever it is, I hope your day is better today. Read a little Austen, she is wonderful, and you can probably find her books without pink covers. Oh, and my compliments on a great article for generating outraged letters. I remember the good old days when columnists were informed, logical, and incisive, but I know times change and the pink cover of commentary is now The Rant. Does the Times evaluate you on how much feedback you provoke? Because this is going to make you look so popular. Best of luck, Jennifer Crusie

And then I hit send and made her look more popular. Sigh. You know what would have been wonderful? If everybody had looked at that and said, “Sweet Jesus, this woman is dumb as a rock,” and ignored it. And then she’d have sat in her office waiting for the mail that never came. THAT would have been a great response.

Flamingo Jill and the 2007 Indulgences

Another cold has laid me low, a gift from the universe that has forced me to stay off the roads and away from my family for fear of giving them the plague for Christmas, and it’s turned out to be a very good thing because it’s given me a day of complete quiet to look back on 2006 without thinking of my 2007 resolutions. Those would be the resolutions I have to make later this week along with sauerkraut and hotdogs (my German family’s nod to the gods for a good new year), the resolutions that will make me a Better Person in 2007. But tonight I’m just curled up, staying warm, blowing my nose and contemplating 2006 and my Christmas gifts, among them Flamingo Jill.

Jill is supposed to be Cerise, the flamingo from Agnes and the Hitman, but as you may have noticed, she’s not pink, nor is she cerise. She’s a pretty violent purple, not quite Magenta (although I wouldn’t turn down fishnets for her if I could find some to fit her skinny legs). So I named her after the lovely woman who gave her to me. Just as wonderful as Flamingo Jill herself are the nine outfits that came with her. She’s wearing her Santa costume as you can see, but there’s also a witch outfit for Halloween that will come in handy for promoting The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, and you’re not going to believe the bunny costume for Easter. However there are omissions. There is no Valentine’s Day. There’s no back-to-school for September. There is no Miss June. If Easter doesn’t fall in May, there’ll be no Queen of the May for our Jill. So of course, I began to plan to make them (maybe a fuzzy wig with a little apron and cap . . . sorry, it’s just once you’ve said, “Magenta,” it’s hard to go back).

Where was I? Right, making little flamingo costumes.

Which was when I realized I could. I will have the time to waste on ridiculous fun things. Because for 2007, I will not be working 24/7, criss-crossing the country like an insane person, trying to collect a Dasani receipt from every airport on the continent. The Year From Hell is over. Of course, that doesn’t mean that 2007 might not turn out to be just another flavor of infernality, but at least it’ll be a change of taste. I will be driving to the very few conferences I’m doing. (Except Australia and New Zealand. I would if I could but I can’t. They don’t have a ferry yet.) I can pack all the liquids I want. I can take one of my dogs if I want; Wolfie loves to travel. I can take Flamingo Jill if I want. But mostly I am staying home. I am writing a solo novel in which all the conflict will be on the page. I can do frivolous blogs here about painting my bedroom and the zen of purses and the latest addition to Flamingo Jill’s wardrobe. Honest to God, I want to wriggle all over like Wolfie does when he hears the lid to the dog biscuit jar clink open. Nothing but good times ahead.

Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

And that made me start to think. I’ve got the serious resolutions coming up next weekend, the ones where I promise to cook more and take a yoga class and do all that stuff, but it’s Christmas and I want to be good to myself, so what if tonight I made kind resolutions, the things I really, really want to do but never get to, the stuff that I’d kill to do but never get to because it’s too ridiculous and I have to be Serious About My Life and Career, what if I made my Five Indulgences of 2007? (I decided to limit them to five so I wouldn’t feel greedy.)

Well, that seemed like an excellent idea. I decided they had to be specific so I’d actually accomplish them (not that “Go back to painting” or “Start sewing again” garbage) and after much deliberation, this is what I came up with.

Indulgence #1. Do the paintings in one of the books I’ve done, The Cinderella Deal or Faking It or Nadine’s book that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve always wanted to do that and always meant to but . . .

Indulgence #2. Sew the collage kimono tops I’ve been collecting fabric for. I’ve got the perfect pattern for them, and I’ve got a fabric stash that’s ridiculously gorgeous. Plus I’m a collage freak. It’s time.

Indulgence #3. Draw or paint or collage every day. Remember why I used to love it. Remember what it used to be like to create things just for the joy of creating them.

Indulgence #4. Spend a week in New York without working on anything. Go to museums, plays, see my daughter and my friends, walk through the Village, and not write a novel.

Indulgence #5. Take a course in something with my daughter. We took an art glass class together several years ago that was terrific and billards lessons that helped me write Welcome to Temptation. I’d love to do that again. I don’t even care what kind of lessons, as long as we take them together. Of course this depends on her cooperation but she’s a good person and she lives in New York so there must be a week-long course there in something we could take.

There, that’s pretty good. All things I’ve been wanting to do and putting off because there have been deadlines and a million things I had to do, a million things that were more important than selfish pleasure. Now that I’ve made my promises to myself, those things are more important, too. Along with reading for pleasure which I can justify because it’s really good for my career and making more outfits for Flamingo Jill because . . .

Uh . . .

Because she’s good blog material which is good for my career because . . .

Oh, hell.

Indulgence #6. Make outfits for Flamingo Jill because I want to, that’s why.

Make your 2007 Indulgences today, people. Because tomorrow, you’re going to be stuck making those damn Resolutions and after that it’s all diet and exercise and no flamingo bunny ears in sight.

More Neighborhood

No, Spike and Drusilla did not come back.

Pat wrote and said, “What are you naming your vultures?” (Yeah, it was Gaffney who provided the wonderful “They pee on their legs” details.) I said, “Either Luke and Laura or Frick and Frack.” She said, “Well, you don’t know them very well, then, do you?” I was going to say something snotty about them having only dropped by for breakfast and death, but then I looked at them again, and they really were lovely birds with very lost, soulful expressions, sitting there on my deck rail, close together, waiting for something to die, so I said, “Spike and Drusilla,” and if you look at the picture again, there’s a definite resemblance. These are birds that clearly deserve respect. And distance. That’s Spike and Dru.

So I named them immediately and they flew away and never came back. Maybe that’s all they wanted. Names.

So I started another blog about beginnings in books which I’m continuing to work on because it’s a subject that needs cogitation, but in the meantime, life goes on and I went out onto the deck to cut parsley and found more neighbors (see right):

I’m calling them Veronica and Duncan. They look like they’re together, but clearly it wasn’t meant to be. Because when you look at the big picture you see . . .
(look below):

Yes, there to the left of Veronica and Duncan is Logan. I fail to understand why Veronica cannot see that she is meant to be with Logan. Okay, he’s a loner and his father tried to kill her, but they’re caterpillars. Nature red in tooth and . . . whatever it is that caterpillars fight with.

So does flat leaf parsley have a natural predator, or are these guys on vacation from my Roma tomatoes in the next pot?

Or are they just waiting to turn into butterflies, after which Veronica and Logan will fly away together and Duncan will hit on the cute leaf-destroyer on the Romas, knocking her up and then when she meets with an unfortunate accident, stealing her larvae and making a break for Kentucky? Or are Veronica, Logan, and Duncan planning on a three-way on the reeds by the river? And why must I see twisted romance in everything that flies, skitters, or crawls across my deck?

Don’t get me started on the woodpecker that keeps threatening the chickadees at my birdfeeder until this cardinal comes along and kicks its ass. I love that cardinal. Of course it’s probably just trying to get the sunflower seeds and doesn’t give a damn about the chickadees, but leave me my illusions.

I see George Clooney playing the cardinal in the movie.

Note:
For anybody worrying about the fate of anything in the neighborhood: Don’t. It’s a serious No Kill Zone here. Veronica and Logan are fine, hanging out in the parsley. Duncan seems to have departed, but I suspect he’s taken the larvae to Kentucky. Spike and Dru are likewise not on deck, but it’s very warm here, and Gaffney assures me they’ve probably found somewhere cool in the woods and are happily peeing on their feet together.
Ah, nature.

My Dinner with Russ

So I went to dinner one Wednesday last August at Russ Parson’s house because he’s my cousin and I adore him, and because I was in LA and that’s where he lives. And also because he’s married to one of the best women I know; there is nobody in the world better to laugh with than Kathy Parsons. And also because his gorgeous daughter, Sarah, had just graduated from college, so she should get jewelry, which I needed to hand deliver so I could also hug. And also because Russ is the other writer in the family (How To Read A French Fry, great book, you should read it) and we can talk publishing, except we never do. Mostly with the Parsons, you just laugh a lot.

It was my turn to buy dinner because the last time we’d been together it had been Russ’s birthday and we were in New York and they took to me to Per Se where we had a seventeen-course meal that lasted six hours and will always be one of the best memories of my life, both for the food and for the company, plus Thomas Keller showed us around the kitchens and it was amazing, so I definitely owed them. But Russ is one of the great foodies of our time—the guy has James Beard medals strung around his kitchen like Christmas lights—so when I said, “Let me take you out to dinner,” and he said, “No, come here, I’ll cook,” I did not argue. Nor did I argue with the champagne he poured as soon as we got there so we could toast the fact that we were all together again, and then Sarah’s graduation, and then the finished Don’t Look Down, and then his deadline extension, and then the sunset, and then I forget what else, but we toasted it. And we sat around the big table in his backyard and ate–my God, we ate–goat cheese and peppers, pasta tossed with fresh tomatoes, gorgeous glistening fresh cucumber with cracked pepper, thick grilled steaks with garlic butter, and amazing homemade peach-almond ice cream, all under trees strung with tiny white lights. And while I am a snarky, cynical bitch, I have to tell you, there is nothing better than eating great food in a beautiful garden with wonderful people you love while the sun sets. And laughing. After a lot of good champagne.

And of course we talked about food. Well, sort of. Russ said the original artichoke was some kind of weapon. Bob said, “Did you ever wonder who first looked at a squid and said, ‘I could eat that’?” (Russ said, “Squid is good if it’s fresh and well-prepared,” but Russ never met a food he wouldn’t defend.) Sarah said that she’d met one of the survivors from that Alive! plane crash when she was in Brazil.

And then we started talking about Brazilian waxes.

This is probably where I should mention that my critique partner, the lovely Valerie Taylor, got me a Brazilian wax for Christmas last year. I opened up the envelope, and it was a gift certificate for our local spa for, yep, one Brazilian wax. I looked at her and said, “Thank you so much. WHY?” And she said, “Because I want to know what it’s like. You go find out and tell me.” So now it’s Christmas again and I still have this certificate because even if the technician buys me a drink and tells me I have nice eyes, I am not letting anybody do that to me. Probably.

So we’re talking about it—well, Kathy and Sarah and I are talking about it, Russ has his hands over his ears and is saying “Lalalalalalalalala” which shows you can have a lot of James Beard medals and be internationally famous and still be immature, and Bob is saying, “I don’t want to know what that is” which shows you can be a former Green Beret and know how to kill people with your little finger and still be a wuss—and Kathy says, “Who the hell thought that up anyway?”

And I realize it’s the Squid Question. At some point, somebody said, “You know what would be a good idea?” and then ran with it. And whether it remained squid or became calamari depended on what he did with it, but the point is, he ran with it.

Which leads me to my own life because, as my daughter once put it, “Mom, it’s always all about you.” Some of my Squid Questions have been unmitigated disasters—going platinum in college is not a good memory, and there was that time I dove into cold surf and had an asthma attack that almost killed me, and I definitely shouldn’t have shown my tattoo to my therapist—but I can’t honestly say I regret any of them. If nothing else, they made me smarter. (Haven’t see me as a platinum blonde lately, have you? And one of my tattoos is the Chinese symbol that means “to risk” which I did on impulse along with the one I’d come for, and it only occurred to me later that the flash at Mother’s Tattoos probably wasn’t done by anybody who actually reads Chinese, and that for all I know that symbol means “This Space For Rent” or “Skanky Ho.” Which is all part of the risk, so the symbol still works. But I digress.) And some were necessary disasters, like getting married at twenty-one which was really stupid, but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have Mollie now, so it was a good thing. And then there are those that were brilliant. Quitting my teaching job when I was neck-deep in debt to go back to grad school and write romance novels was a dumb plan that turned out smart. Buying the ugliest house I’d ever seen because it was on the most beautiful land I’d ever seen is working out well. Collaborating with a writer of violent military thrillers was a terrible career move except that it resulted in the one of the best books I’ve ever done and you should see the one we’re working on now, as our agent says, “This is a riot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (That’s a direct quote from her e-mail. Well, she’s our agent so she has to love us, but trust me, she’d tell us if she hated it.)

So I’m thinking Russ is right (well, Russ is usually right) and that the point isn’t that squid is intrinsically bad, that it’s that you take the risk and then concentrate on the execution and voila! calamari. So I think maybe it’s a good idea to periodically say “yes” to the Squid Questions with great enthusiasm and no regrets, even while all those about you are saying, “Are you out of your mind?” And that maybe I should go for that Brazilian wax. Not now, of course, but maybe some day.

And I should definitely always have dinner with the Parsons because those people know food and laughter and love.

And squid.

The Maui Effect

So I’m here at the Maui Writer’s Conference and I know I haven’t blogged in a while, but this place keeps you hopping, plus I’m hitting the wall. The problem with the Maui Writer’s Conference is that it comes right after the Maui Writer’s Retreat. The Retreat is pretty damn cool: We teach dawn to dusk going sixty miles an hour and then we hit the presenter’s lounge and we party, not until dawn because most of us are middle-aged, but into the night. Then we get up at dawn and do it all over again.

And here’s the thing about dawn in Maui when you usually live in Ohio: It comes at noon. Six hour time difference. So although I do not do mornings in Ohio, I am up at the break of day in Maui, walking the cliff path along the ocean, wide awake and full of energy, swinging my arms, laughing too loud, feeling like a Natural Woman, the Maui Effect. Which is why I hate the cell phones.

Maui, in case you’ve never been here, is spectacularly beautiful. The path along the rocks overlooks perfect beaches and tide pools and gorgeous flowers and aggressively cheerful birds. And along this path stroll the rich and richer, and then also the people like me who got a free ride because they agreed to teach their butts off for two weeks. Hey, I can be bought. And most of us are just happy to be alive walking through paradise, but every now and then, you see somebody on a cellphone, making deals, gossiping, whatever, and they’re always looking at the path and frowning. God’s best ocean is on their right, but they’re yelling at somebody in New York, probably ruining lunch. I will give a free pass to those who are standing on the bridge over the little ravine saying, “My God, Margaret you wouldn’t believe how gorgeous this place is, let me take a cellphone picture and send it to you.” They can live. The others, though, I just want to rip the phones out of their hands, fling them onto the rocks, and say, “Fetch.” Because you know that lava rock is brutal.

But I don’t because I’m a nice person. Well, I’m a nice person when I arrive. By the end of the retreat, I have become one of the Grunts.

Here’s the thing: By the time the conference starts, we’ve been teaching our brains out at the retreat for six days. We were neat and clean and perma-pressed when we arrived, but by Thursday night, we’re wrinkled and sweaty and rowdy and toasted. I don’t drink, there is no alcohol in my house and I never order it when I’m out because I don’t like the way it tastes, but in Maui, it tastes good. It may be the little umbrellas. We were supposed to go to a speech the other night but I ran into a literary discussion—Karen Joy Fowler, Gail Tsukiyama, Gail Parent, Dale Burg, John Saul, Mike Sack, Janie Foley, and then Andy Cohen because you never know when you’re going to need an agent—and we were having this deeply intellectual discussion about the worst pick-up lines anybody had ever tried on us, and by the time Bob found us, I had three little umbrellas in my hair. He said, “That’s not good,” but you know, it FELT good. And I checked in the mirror later and it turns out I look DARLING with little umbrellas in my hair. But probably only in Maui.

So anyway after a week, we look like we’ve been rode hard and put away wet, and then the Conference instructors come in to join us at the introductory meeting, all neat and clean and perma-pressed. Now at this meeting, we are all supposed to stand up and tell what we’ve accomplished that year. And the shiny new people, most of whom are editors and agents, get up and tell about all their successes and name drop and establish their professional presences and pretty much pitch the room. Meanwhile, in the back of the room, the Grunts are growing restless. Occasionally we hoot. We are not pretty. Which means none of those agents and editors will ever work with any of us again, but by then we don’t care. We’ll care when we get back to the real world, but now we’re in Maui, so screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke, pass the rum.

So everybody tells what marvels they’ve been all year, and then it gets to us. Bob stands up and says, “I’m Bob Mayer and I write books,” and sits down again. This is a major improvement over last year when he stood up and said, “I’m Bob Mayer, and I can kill you with my little finger,” so the general consensus afterward is that collaborating with me has made Bob a kinder, gentler Surly Bastard. Then I stand up and say, “I’m Jenny Crusie and nothing interesting has ever happened to me.” And the Grunts all boo so that tells you how much love I get here. Then Elizabeth George stands up and says, “You probably don’t recognize me because I’ve had massive plastic surgery in order to escape the paparazzi, but I’m Angelina Jolie.” Then Karen Joy Fowler stands up and says, “No, I’M Angelina Jolie.” Then Gail Tsukiyama stands up and says, “No, I’M Angelina Jolie.” Then Jane Hamilton stands up, turns to Elizabeth George, and says, “And I’m Jennifer Aniston, YOU BITCH.”

Well, you had to be there.

So now it’s Sunday, and we have to do a TV interview and then I have to teach for two hours and then we’re going to work on the book (Agnes) and then go hear Gail Parent talk which I can’t wait to hear because she may be the funniest woman on the planet and she’s definitely a spiritual sister. We were talking about being divorced and she said, “Sometimes I go home and look at that big king-sized bed and think, ‘How did two people ever sleep in that?’” and I laughed and then went upstairs to my king-sized bed and thought, “My God, she’s right, how could two people sleep in that?” so she’s not only Funny, she’s Insightful.

Of course it hasn’t all been working and drinking and talking about king-size beds. I walked the path the other day and passed a woman who was NOT on her cellphone and who looked exactly like Jayne Ann Krentz. And then I stopped and thought, “Wait a minute. That IS Jayne Ann Krentz,” so I said, “Jayne?” and she said, “Jenny?” and we both looked around to see if SEP was there because neither one of us had a stitch of make-up on.

So anyway, I know haven’t blogged in awhile, but as you can see, I’ve been busy. And now I have to go listen to another speech. Possibly with a little umbrella.

And aloha to you, too.

Why Caramel Pecan Perfection Isn’t

I’m having one of those nights. You know the ones where you’re irrationally angry and you want to drive six hundred miles and beat somebody senseless with a shovel? One of those nights. It can’t be PMS, I just survived menopause. And it’s not my life because I’ve gotten a lot of good news this week. Like the letter from my mortgage company saying they were raising my monthly payment by $400, except it turned out to be a mistake. That was good. And I got my first piece of prison fan mail, the last romance writer in my crowd to get some, but he sounds very nice except for the religious fervor, and he’d like to know more about my cats, which let’s face it, beats a lot of other stuff he could have wanted to know about me.

Overall, I’m up for the week.

Then there was the incurable disease I was diagnosed with last week. Sounds like a houseplant: ‘And over in the corner we have a lovely variegated polycythemia vera. Grows to a height of six inches, flowers in the spring.” But that was good news, too. It’s incurable but probably won’t kill me and the treatment is a snap. Actually, it’s an ancient snap: bleeding. My bone marrow’s making too many red blood cells, so to thin the herd, whenever the count goes too high, they take a pint. That’s it, that’s the whole treatment. My doc said I could learn to do it at home, and I’m visualizing myself leaning over the garbage disposal with a paring knife trying to figure out when I’m down a quart. Risk factors are strokes and heart attacks, but I’m 55 and overweight, so I was already in line for those anyway. As a friend of mine said, if I had to get an incurable disease, this is the one to get.

More than that, it’s an orphan disease, so I am very, very special. Depending on which website you frequent, it hits either one in one hundred thousand people or one in a million. Which means no telethon. Of course, that was in the cards when it turned out not to be fatal, although everybody who said that is going to look pretty dumb if I stroke out tomorrow. Which is a possibility because I just ate a pint of Caramel Pecan Perfection Ice Cream made by those pimps at Dove.

Here’s the thing about Dove ice cream: They cover it with ganache. The ice cream is great, but the ganache is truly sublime. The crack cocaine of frozen dairy. Twelve hundred calories per pint, six hundred and eighty of which are fat calories. This is not a dessert for a woman who has polycythemia vera. Now I not only have blood that’s too thick, my arteries just got narrower because they’re lined with ganache. And you know, it didn’t really help. Well, there was the sugar rush while I was standing at the sink shoving it in my face, but then it was over and I felt . . . used. Like a cheap pick-up the Dove people seduced and abandoned in the kitchen, leaving me with sticky hands and an empty cup, still wanting to drive six hundred miles and beat somebody senseless with a shovel.

Which brings me to my final question: Why in God’s name do we turn to sugar and fat when what we really want to do is unleash rage and mayhem? What primal instinct buried deep in our DNA says, “Don’t express your anger, eat something that will kill you”? I know carbs are supposed to sedate you—and if that’s true, why didn’t the crime rate soar during that Atkins fad?—but I’m full of fat calories and I’m still searching through my garden tools.

So I have decided, in the clear light of hindsight, not to do that any more. I will not dull my anger with criminal food.

I will find my car keys, drive the six hundred miles, and solve the problem the old fashioned way: With my bare and sticky hands.

Walden, the Blog

I went to the blog because I wanted to write deliberately . . . no, I didn’t, I went to the blog because my webmistress made me because she said the site needed new content on a regular basis and I might as well provide it by rambling on the net instead of on the phone to her. My webmistress is also my daughter, which I think explains a lot. But I really did see it as a solitary thing. My own little Walden. If an opinion falls in the wilderness and nobody hears it, does it count? Did I care? What I didn’t foresee–forgive my naiveté–was that people would want to talk back. Did Thoreau have people saying, “About that thing you said . . .” No wait, actually, he did. They asked him what he ate and if he gave to charity.

So anyway, here I was, felling my little opinions silently in the woods, thinking it was kind of fun because it was the one place in my life where nobody was reviewing my work, and then the letters started. Plural. Not dozens but more than one. From people who would like to post replies to my blog which so far consists of me telling people what I’ve been doing–“Another interesting thing about me is . . .”–and my thoughts on women’s writing organizations, neither of which struck me as really engaging, although I, of course, found them fascinating. Still, these people wanted to respond.

And I suppose that’s fair. Accountability and everything. There have been websites I wanted to respond to, like that idiot Focus on the Family questionnaire, “How to tell if your child is homosexual.” Who makes up this crap anyway? It wasn’t even fun crap like “Corrects the words when you sing show tunes” or “Criticizes your sensible shoes,” it was stuff like “Doesn’t like sports” and “Cries like a girl.” Where’s the originality in intolerance these days? That’s the real problem with bigoted quizzes, no creativity, no wit, no flair, no SNARK. Let’s face it, homophobic websites need gay writers.

Where was I?

Oh, right, people want to respond to my blog.

I don’t get it, but okay. I’m adding that capability as soon as I figure out how to do it, which since Blogger is designed for the terminally clueless should not be long. I like a site that knows I’m hopeless and plans for that. But I am not answering anybody. I’ve got enough problems answering my e-mail. So I’m telling you right now, I’m not getting in any fights with anybody or giving advice or in any way engaging in a dialogue here. Unless you’re a homophobic website looking for a gay writer because I have some FABULOUS friends.

But really, feel free to read this and not respond. I’m good with that.

Oh, and one more thing: No anonymous responses. If my butt is hanging out here in the wind (a disturbing image), so is yours.

Thank you.