No Taming This Shrew


Wilde Wilde Life

I'm a completely self-conscious theater whore, to use a friend's description. I love going to plays, I love the theater, I have a total desire to be an actress that I subsume in my rather lively teaching. This past season I treated myself to season tickets at the big Shakespeare theater here in DC. It's a great space with a reasonable track record. This season was one of my favorites from the past 9 years, so I'm grateful. We saw a Pericles that might have been the most magical production of ANY play in my life. Macbeth (my favorite Shakespeare, actually) was solid, but Kelly McGillis almost sent me hurtling on stage to throttle her.

[HOW do you screw up a speech like "Unsex me here?" (You do it by panting through the lines in a shrieky kind of voice. "Spirits of the night, unsex me hheeeeeeeeeeeere!" My friend and I were literally laughing out loud by the end. I had to bite my playbook to keep quiet.)]

Then there was Lorenzaccio, which was basically a "French play' -- all classicism and overwrought wailing. GORGEOUS leads, though, so I was a happy camper for 4 hours. Meow, Medici! The Tempest followed, which I could not bear to see again. I've seen the Tempest more than any other play, and I've seen it twice at Shakespeare. WHY NOT TRY ANOTHER PLAY? They did it beautifully once, they need to release it for a while. And last night was Lady Windermere's Fan.

First, I had forgotten the plot. I know Earnest much more fully (did anyone else know that Earnest is a Victorian term for a homosexual and Wilde was playing with that? I just learned that. You could have punched me in the face I was so surprised). Second, I had forgotten all the amazing lines from the play, including a line I really thought was Chrissy Hynde's: "All of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." Oopsie. My favorite line of Wilde's is from this play: "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

The playbill cleverly contained a contemporary quote from the other man with all the good lines, George Bernard Shaw. He was lauding Wilde's work, which was excoriated by critics at the time for being fluff and stuff that could be written by anyone. As Shaw said, "I seem to be the only man in London who is not capable of writing an Oscar Wilde play. [paraphrasing] Given that his plays remain unique on the stage, it seems that we are indebted to the restraint of local scribes." Damn I'm losing the glory of the quote in my fogged recollection.

I love Oscar Wilde. I was obsessed with him in high school -- who could write such little bits of genius and then get locked up for years and try to take it all back? I cried when I read "Reading Gaol" and "De Profundis" because it was all so unfair and so beneath him. I can see the rage in his plays now, the scathing but delighted commentary on English, particularly London society. Such glory, such wit. Such brilliance in the face of stultifying dullness and propriety.

Wilde also makes you talk like one of his characters after seeing his work. My friend and I walked out speaking in sort of a neutered third person. "When one finds a rainstorm before oneself, one needs to find an umbrella." We couldn't stop! I am so grateful to have access to material like this. It feeds the soul, as my father is fond of saying. So here's to Wilde -- I hope I'm seated at his table in the afterlife.



I'm just bidding adieu to old lingerie. This might be inappropriate content, but it's got to be an improvement on the fruit double entendres.

There's something really sad about waving goodbye to a fabulous bra or a particularly effective pair of panties. Maybe boys feel the same way about their boxers. I know a few who certainly held on to theirs right up to the bitter end. I still think about a pair of stockings I had when I used to work in PR -- they were just the right shade and fit perfectly. I literally shed a tear when I finally ran them.

I'm cleaning out my closets and drawers in fits and spurts for my move, and so the old timers have to be left behind. So long, wrap-around miniskirt from Old Navy. Take care, fancy suit built for the 21 year old me...(fear not, the good stuff gets recycled at a store nearby.)

This particular eulogy is for my Calvin Klein pink luxury lace underwire bra. She's been with me through thick and thin, single and dating, silk and cotton. Even when the panties went awry, the brassiere stayed solid. I looked fabulous at work, at play, in every way. But then the lace got the slightest bit frayed (feels a little Dr. Seuss here, doesn't it!?), the underwire creaked once in a while. I knew it was just a matter of time.

So I commit you to the earth (or at least to my rat-tastic garbage), fair pink friend. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Oh, Basil...

I love basil.

I have affection for it as a man's name (see A Room with a View's Daniel Day Lewis, or Fawlty Tower's John Cleese), but I love to blend it to tiny bits with garlic and drown it in olive oil, stir in salt, pepper, parm cheese, and ground pine nuts. Then I eat it with pasta, on crostini, with a spoon...I swear it's adding years to my life.

When summer arrives, I reach my basil frenzy. Everything is green, everything is ripe, and most things can use some basil. Don't even get me started on the summer tomatoes. You know what's good with a summer tomato? If you're not just eating them with a knife, fork, and ample salt? Cutting them into little bits and mixing them in with garlic, basil, and some ricotta cheese.' markets are practically erotic for me this time of year. God help the Amish this weekend -- I've got some buying to do. And when the peaches start hitting their prime, well, let's just say I won't be blogging for a while.

I'm also reaching my barbequeing apex -- I cannot WAIT to start setting things on fire this weekend. Basil not required.



I just realized that a boy who was supposed to call me didn't call all weekend, and I am retroactively bummed. Please regale me with funny stories from your weekends, for I am pouty.


Sunday Sunday (la la la la la la)

Yes, I know it's "Monday Monday." Don't Momma my Poppa!

Now that I "have to" read the whole paper for research purposes -- I need new debates to teach a rhetoric/comp class in two weeks -- I can lounge away my Sundays. I love lounging away my Sundays. Typically I'll whiz through the comics and the magazine (Jordan -- the Post Mag has an article about a Nats game - I think it's the Brewers game we went to? No mention of us, though.) and then go to the gym or the library. Sundays when I'm single, that is. Totally different story otherwise. But I digress.

I'm in full lounge today. Reading the paper in my jammies, happy as a clam. In catching up on a weekend's worth of critical debate around the Beltway (ASK ME ANYTHING I AM FULL OF KNOWLEDGE), I came across an article Diva T had mentioned in passing called "Marriage Penalty." (I can't for the life of me find this thing online. I have the clipping in my lap, though.) The editorial is a little milquetoast for my taste, but Ruth Marcus notes very politely that "Women who work in the top ranks of the Bush administration are five times more likely to be single than their male counterparts." She chats for a bit about how a career "is not exactly conducive to romance," but then concludes that "jobs such as these [high powered administration jobs] aren't conducive [hello thesaurus] to married life or, more precisely, to parental life, and that many women who could have such jobs have opted not to pursue them."

Don't get me started on "opted." I'll just finished up her article and then begin my own.

She concedes midway through that admin. officials who are dads are more likely than their female counterparts to have spouses willing to "take up the parental slack." The reason I like this article, in spite of her rather apologetic tone, is that she finally says, "jobs at a certain level [like "Senate-confirmed positions"] are by their very nature family-hostile." This is the old "I need a wife" argument from 1970, right? But at least someone is saying out loud again that not all woman CAN PULL IT OFF! The situation is flawed! You need a nanny and a huge support network bolstered by an enormous salary to be Condi Rice and be a mom. This is not right, but for pete's sake stop saying it's "totally achievable" for any woman who wants the brass ring. BULLSHIT! (We now return to our regular milquetoast programming.)

She goes on to note that the White House press corps is hugely male (because of assignments and because of the "punishing, unpredictable hours and relentless travel") and that among the Post's dozen or so top editors, "almost all the men are married with children. Of the three women at that level, only one is a mom."

But here's what made me sigh with sadness and turn back to the comics so that Opus could make it all right: "What I'd tell them [her daughters when they "bump up against the same realities"], in the unlikely event that they ask, is that having it all is best achieved, and perhaps only achieved, in stages. And of course, to make sure their dad and I have lots of grandchildren."

Get it? Yeah, make sure they "opt out" rather than giving them "options." But really, the dilemma here is "having it all," yes? So many of us in this little rant circle have been writing about how much we fear being off-track or not having our ducks in a row, etc. Well here it is, folks. Looks like no amount of ducks is going to make things perfect. (Not sure how that metaphor's working there, but I'm in my jammies and don't much care.) You cannot have "it all," (who said "it" was "all that" anyway???) so why not shoot for the stuff you want? The expectations are unfulfillable, so we must make up new ones and then get people in power who can support those goals. For starters, I expect better female editorialists with a wisp of a sense of humor. That seems achievable. (LOL) <-- see? I can learn!


Flushing the weekend

Thank god for Friday nights. Without them, Saturdays and Sundays like the ones I'm looking at are nothing but bleak. Went to a gathering last night, saw a bunch of chums, chatted with the usual good lookin' men, had a few too many beers (eat dinner next time, Megarita! Limes and olives are not enough!), had an awesome time, and ended up safe and sound in my own bed.

This morning, with my poor widdle brain rattling around my cranium, I'm looking at my to-do list. After my Shakespeare class evaporated last week (insert low growl here), I was a couple thousand short for the summer. But then the academic fairies came to visit and now I have a comp class that's at night and with fewer (please god fewer) students! WOOHOO! Only problem is...I haven't taught comp in about 2 or 3 years, I think, and the class starts in 2 weeks.

So Megarita needs to write a syllabus for a class that meets twice a week for three hours in the evening. (Any excellent classroom game suggestions welcome.) I need textbooks, and I need to order them. I also need to finish editing my chapter and mail it off to my well-coiffed director, forcibly produce about 20 new pages of my GODDAMN WITCHES CHAPTER (which is not going well), finish up some research for a professor, and start packing my room in stages (I'm moving in late August -- not far, dear readers, but far enough). My clothing alone may require the month of July. I'm a clotheshorse. Or a clotheshorse in training. Whinny.

Hence, thank god for a good Friday. Sure I've been swilling coffee since 9 in an attempt to make myself coherent enough to get to the gym and sweat away the vodka tonics (to no avail), and sure I've got sheet creases in my face still even after having been up for 2 hours. I can be a recluse for a weekend if I start it off right. Happy weekending all -- think fondly of your Megarita as she toils away in her ivory tower. (insert pity party here!! But only temporarily. 4th of July weekend will make it all all right...heh heh heh)


Marshmallow Shame

Well, the universe punished me for my hubris after my grammar rant by washing away all traces of my camping 'cred. (Not that I had much to spare, mind you. I know full well that car camping is the training wheels of camping. Just bear with me.)

One nice bonus of the camping trip was all the marshmallows I took home. Two people just cannot eat a bag of marshmallows at a sitting. My housemate, aka The Potential Diabetic, immediately latched onto them and said, "sweet holy peter we need to make s'mores!" (OK, she doesn't talk that way. I'm sure it was something more tame and less Catholic like "holy crap let's make s'mores!" Damn Lutherans.)

So Megarita McGyver thought, "we can just use wire hangers and our gas stove!" and we turned our kitchen into what could be interepreted by a stranger as a location for back alley abortions or a camp out for suburbanites. We made s'mores. DAMN those are good!! (Note for enterprising campers -- Nestle morsels work just as well as Hershey bars when you run out of Hershey bars.)

But I got greedy. While we were chatting about something girly like engagement rings -- diamond or not?* I found my marshmallow was jammed. Couldn't get it off the hanger. So brainiac me grabbed the wire to get a better grip.


Wire hangers held over open flames get rather warm.

So now I'm the proud owner of a branded thumb. It looks like my left thumb is wearing a seatbelt -- huge line across the entire finger. It hurt. It still kinda hurts. Needless to say I still ate the s'more with one hand while running cold water over the injured digit. Not wasting a gooey marshmallow just because I can't be trusted to remember that metal conducts heat.

But the S'more Slash of Shame remains. Who needs a Scarlet Letter?

*I argue that if someone indeed wished to give me an engagement ring, I would rather have a diamond visible to the naked eye than one of those sad little diamond dust rings. If that's not possible, no biggie! Something else that's pretty is just fine. I enjoy sapphires, emeralds, topazes, and many many more pretty shiny things. I don't get why people need these sad little specks just to have a diamond. Heck, why need an engagement ring? Well, I like the idea, but I can see the alternative's logic. Roomie doesn't even want a diamond at all. We agreed, mouths full of chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow, that we were really cool chicks and quite liberated. Hehehe.


Returned Rant Mitigated by Email Address

I'm still thinking about my crankyness from yesterday, although without the anger, so I'm going to write it out. Cleaning the pipes, people. Maybe I'll post about Mr & Mrs Smith later to ease the blow.

(But wait! Good news! By popular request, an EMAIL address for me! Find me at No naked pictures.)

OK, so I hate "LOL." I loathe it. It ruins things for me when I read it in an email or in a blog or really just written on a napkin. My hostility towards this abbreviation is vast and very irrational. Perhaps it's because I'm more of a "Bwahahahahaha" or a "snort" and other onamotapeia kind of writer. But I think it's the same knee-jerk reaction I have to baloney like "nite" and "brite" and "cheez" and my most recent hot button, "Feelin' good in the neighborhood."

[You don't feel good, you feel well. Embrace the adverb. And dropping "g" is fine when you're talking, but don't institutionalize it. Why not just go ahead and say "Makin' your ass fatter every day"?]

But back to LOL...I laugh a lot! Why not LOL? I think it's the written form of an emoticon, about which I have very mixed feelings. :) (Die, Smiley! Die!) Maybe it's the email abbreviations? "RU" "Thanx" and so on. (My students invariably send me some sort of coded missive by email in the first week or two of a semester and I get to mock them openly in front of their peers and remind them that they're writing an English teacher while she's on the clock. What fools these children be. I am not this shrewish to friends and non-students, fear not.)

There are so many nifty ways to say things. (Like the word "nifty"! Heck, people used to say "23 skidoo!" And we're reduced to "LOL"?) We are blessed with a language that bends, so why not bend it rather than reducing it to its skeleton? Words like "brite" look naked and shivery. Give that word a "gh" to keep it warm, for pete's sake! Is neon so expensive???

So is it just me? Am I a bitch who gets a little too attached to language? To paraphrase Calvin Klein, if loving synonyms is wrong, then let me be guilty.

(Hahahahahaaha flashback: "A little club soda will get that out." "LIAR." "Obsessive, the new fragrance from Calvin Klein." I miss SNL.)


Nazi No-Nos

The Post this morning has stolen an excellent Jon Stewart story about the excessive use of Nazism as an analogy for poor government behavior. Senators and Representatives have been comparing the situation at Gitmo (I feel like such a poseur when I write that, but Guantanamo is harder to type.) to something out of Nazi Germany. (The Senate Minority Whip also compared Gitmo to a Soviet Gulag and to the Khmer Rouge. I applaud his use of atrocity synonyms.) While we've had this discussion before (DOWN, Buffalo! DOWN!), I think Stewart and the Post both took worthy stabs at why it's a bad idea to compare things to the Nazis.

First, it's a conversation killer. You can't come back from the Nazi card in a debate because it's so extreme. Wow, our government is consciously commiting genocide throughout a continent while attempting to create a master race and enforcing martial law etc etc etc invading etc etc??? You get the picture. "Godwin's Law" (an internet thing) argues that the person who drops the Nazi Bomb in a discussion thread automatically loses the argument while simultaneously killing all discussion about whatever topic was up for grabs. It's made to be misconstrued. It's what we rhet/comp teachers call a definitional stasis breakdown. "Life begins at conception" has similar rhetorical roadblocking abilitities.

Second, it's an insult to US Troops, and really, it's an insult to the Nazis. They almost took over a continent while decimating a population with hideous facility. Gitmo is a far cry from this. They were super evil. I feel at ease saying that nothing the US has done even comes close to that kind of Evil. Has the US done some bad stuff? YES, OF COURSE IT HAS! But to say it's like we're the Nazis is really looney and, well, inept. Use your words, people. There are other analogies to be made. It's a big world and English is a big language.

And this could get me started about the reductive overuse of "evil" as an adjective and a noun, but I'll cease and desist. I'll just add this from the Post about the transformation of political rhetoric these days:

All of this is consistent with the escalation of political rhetoric in general, says Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown and an expert on political discourse. She mentions the Senate debate over filibusters, in which the "nuclear option" loomed. And conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, who rails against "feminazis." "It's all part of the same verbal inflation," Tannen says, adding that feminists generally refrain from torturing people. (Deborah Tannen is hilarious.)

(Dude) Voices Carry

Through some twisted miracle of sonic bouncing, I'm hearing a conversation from two houses down through my open window. Two houses down is a frat house. They're playing ball in their yard and discussing their respective skills on several kinds of playing fields. Apart from the obvious, they're debating what part class plays in a woman's easy-ness. That is, will a girl put out more if she comes from a lower middle class upbringing? Of course, I've "growed-up" the language here. The exchange (which continues on even as I type...people are DISSERTATING here!) went more like:

"I dunno man, I don't think it matters." (thwack - ball hits glove)
"Man, you are not hearing me! (thwack) White trash girls are way easier!"
"What, so if some chick grew up in a trailer then she's gonna put out more?"
"'Xactly. Dude, she's probably been (thwack) screwing her cousins, you know? (snort huh huh huh, slapping noise -- presumably high five?)"
"Gotta be better than those really snobby ones. (thwack) I mean, half naked and all the attitude (this part was garbled) like they're all that. Trashy. (thwack, with feeling) Not trailer trash, you know, but not classy."
"Yeah. I hear ya." (silence - thoughtful?)
"So dude where did all the hot ladies go this summer?"
"Man, I gotta tell you about the other night!"

Of all the conversations in all the world, theirs has to waft into my room...


Stopping by Woods on a Sunny Sunday

After the bear party, it was a lovely restful night in preparation for our foray into the wild. Sunday did not dawn with any promise, however. I awoke to the sounds of a peaceful trickling fountain, and thought, "How interesting! I didn't know T's house had such facilities!?"

[Tense change]

She doesn't. The peaceful trickling is WonderDog peeing on my sandals from the night before. He is looking directly at me while he pees, too. I've never seen such a clear case of "vengeance pee" in my life. Either he knows I am taking his mom away for a while or he's thinking I have slighted him in some way. Totally urine-based revenge. They are old sandals anyway...but it's not a good sign. At least my things will smell like enormous-dog-pee. That will scare away bears for sure. (I actually have a long history of dogs peeing on or near me. That will have to wait until another post.)

After a long conversation with Wonder Dog about how I think this betrayal has really undermined our relationship and how I wonder whether I can really ever trust him again (I've known this dog for a long time. I like [LIKED] him better than most people.), T gets home from early morning work and we head out the door.

Camping requires more shopping and packing than any outing I've ever experienced. We have to pack everything we might ever need! This seems inefficient, but I do love how everything collapses down into its own little carrying case. Charming camping gear! T has even gotten me a little sleeping bag of my own. My last sleeping bag had Snoopy on it, so we thought maybe it was time for a "big girl bag."

Now we have to go buy all the food you might ever consider eating. Luckily, T, like me, is a foodie and enjoys yummy things. We got steaks and corn on the cob and good beer and I had baked cookies for the trip. We bought firewood. We bought coolers. We bought ice. This "nature" thing seems a rip-off!

But then we hit the campground. Perfect timing, since the weekenders are just packing up and leaving as we roll in. Let me describe this idyllic place -- it's a campground, for sure, but there are not many sites and they're all spread out throughout this section of the woods that has a creek running through it. You really cannot see anyone nearby, but you know that there are people in case something dreadful happens. This is key, I think, for virginal camping experiences. And, (drum roll), there are BATHROOMS!!! YAY!!! BATHROOMS!!! No wood "business"! (Although I do end up getting a nasty mosquito bite in said bathrooms and that is not fun. Not fun at all. Neither is trying to find said bathrooms after dark and after a few too many cold beers and marshmallows. Urp.)

I'll see whether T has any pix of camping in this place, because they are likely hilarious. I spend the entire rest of the weekend either poking at the fire or setting things on fire or rearranging the fire or seeing whether an item will burn in the fire or fetching wood for the fire. T literally set up a hammock between two trees and read while sending me off on fire-based adventures. I turned into a 7 year old. I uttered things like, "Wow! Chipmunk!" and would then disappear into the woods for half an hour. We saw a fox, too, which was AWESOME. But the fire was super cool. I've seen more deer in the 'burbs, though. We made the steaks (I was a useful companion in only one way -- I suggested that we could wrap some of the bacon for breakfast around the steaks when we made them. They were delicious. Damn, everything tastes good after a hike or after strenuous chipmunk excursions!)

But the best thing about nature -- apart from it being LOUD, as we both noticed at 7 am the next morning after a light rain had whispered us to sleep the night before -- is how it forces you into being incredibly industrious and then makes sure you do nothing. We made camp, we schlepped all kind of crap around, we built structures, we made food, we made FIRE, but then we basically sat around and read (or chased chipmunks and looked for pairs of snakes). No phones, no IPod. I'm not trying to suggest that we roughed it -- I ate better and slept better (thin air mattresses rule) than I have in my own house -- but we had to be still. And talk to each other. And roast marshmallows. These are all key to a healthy lifestyle. So I'll go again. Nature's neat.

So you can see why the camping story turned out to be rather...boring? It was awesome being there, but nothing typically wacky or Megarita happened. Surely this is a good thing, right? And you got to read about the only bears we saw, too. Nice, hmmm? You can't make up this kind of material, people. You just can't. I think I'll get back on the news cycle again and stop blitzing the internet with my personal life. At least until something interesting happens. Circle of life, Simba.

It's not the bears in the woods you need to worry about...

Settle in, kids. I've got lots of stuff in my head I need to flush out. This will require multiple postings. Let us begin at the Big Gay BBQ, which took place in another mid-Atlantic town's PRIDE weekend.

Got to town mid-afternoon, and pondered my wardrobe options. I swear to god I actually thought to myself, "What would Rob Lowe wear to a big party during PRIDE weekend?" I ended up in very short jungle print shorts and high heeled sandals and some innocuous top. In spite of showing enough leg to get work in most towns, I was some woman's girlfriend all night. I finally just stopped correcting people. Heck, when at PRIDE weekend, right?

T and I got to the party about 4, which was already in high gear. Truly excellent local beers in kegs, extraordinary amounts of liquor and food, and at least 150 gay men. There were maybe 4 women, both lesbian couples, and then me and T (we make a lovely couple, it seems). After walking around and chatting for a bit, I stopped and turned and faced the room. I had been pawed and canoodled by friendly strangers from the second I walked in (not scary at all -- just really really affectionate). As I looked around to take stock of just what I'd gotten myself into, I realized that every man in the room looked alike -- tall, big build, short military hair cut, and furry furry bodies.

I was in the middle of a bear party.

This was the first such gathering I'd ever attended. All my gay friends and acquaintances over the years have been the elaborately attired and exceedingly well-groomed theater types. Better skin than mine, better smelling than me, the works. This was "gay" as I knew it. But this room...this was something different. These were bears. As I propped myself against the wall to prevent more ass-grabbing (again, it was like being a football player -- everyone was introduced via their rear ends. That sounded dirtier than I intended), I looked over a sea of a bunch of ex-military guys, former cops, former and current firefighters, all having the times of their lives. This was their weekend and their party and DAMN they were having a fine time.

T and I circulated in and out of this house all afternoon until early evening (parade experience to follow). A few moments in miniature: I'm trying to convince this exceedingly wealthy fellow to rent me a floor in his townhouse, but I can't concentrate because right over his shoulder one fellow has pulled up the arm of another and started licking his armpit with great enthusiasm. Outside there was a Sean Connery lookalike who was wearing tiny shorts and a jock strap. He had two bear paws tattooed on his (fuzzy but excellent) rear end. I had half a dozen men see me and scream "I love boobies!" and bury their faces in my cleavage. Men greeted each other with what I heard called "The Baltimore Handshake": grabbing each other fiercely by the balls and a quick kiss on the mouth. Cargo kilts are in and everyone was commando and flashing each other as a mating call. I started feeling really blase about seeing everyone's undercarriage. I saw more back hair than I can ever forget. Hairy backs, hairy necks, hairy asses, hairy everything. These are the bears.

The bears throw a hell of a party, and we had a blast, but T and I decided to take our stained and bruised bodies up to the parade after a number of hours. There isn't enough Trappist ale in the world to make us bears, so we needed to leave the den. There was sex to be had in the kitchen, according to the lead bear. He announced this as we were seated outside together, then he grabbed my right breast and passed out. I immediately announced that I had a rack that could knock men unconscious, and then I thought it was time to leave on a high note. T agreed. Off to the parade, children!

A George Michael lip-syncher was performing first on the main stage (I'm skipping the parade itself, as it was underwhelming, except for the majorettes, who twirled like I've never seen. Glorious performances.). This was fine. We chatted, scoped the leather guys coming out of a nearby bar, contemplated why so many lesbians look similar, etc. Then...came Wonder Woman.

I think I might have said "Yay! Wonder Woman!" and was bouncing toward the stage to cheer on this (rather excellent) Linda Carter lookalike. But before I got close, "Linda" dropped her top and showed us her red sequined pasties. She did things with her pasties that gave me a complex. There were whispered "wow's" throughout the crowd from every gender, every sexual preference, every age. She was good. (As T said, "That can't be a man. No fake boobs could do that!") Wonder Woman (this turned out to be a burlesque competition) was followed by a Salome, a feather dancer, and more. So much more. The amount of flesh became soporific to us rather than at all titillating after a while. After the bears, we were weakened, dehydrated, still a little tipsy, and standing in the hot sun.

So we fled. We had a quiet dinner at a neighborhood cafe and we were in bed at a decent hour with visions of furry men's armpits dancing in our heads.

I'll get us to the woods next time. But I have to say, nothing in the woods compared to my den of bears. I worry that nothing ever will!


Exit pursued by bear...

I give up. I can't get any work done. I've been trying to write all day, but all I can think about is my impending camping trip. I've never been camping before, and I am rather concerned.

The reaction of most people who hear that I'm going camping is uncontrollable laughter. My aunt couldn't speak for almost a full minute when I spoke to her this morning. This is upsetting. What does everyone think they know about me? Is there indeed a complete princess lurking within me that will emerge in full shrill glory once the crickets start chirping? (That is what that chirpy noise is, right?)

I don't know where I'm going camping, but I'm in excellent hands -- my rock star friend T, who is basically the woman I hope to grow up to be someday, has taken me under her wing. That being said, if I know T, I think she wants to get me into the woods and then go all Blair Witch on me. She's totally sneaking some sort of camera equipment into the tent bag. Or whatever container holds tents.

Here are my concerns: 1. Bears (I am delicious, and surely wild animals can sense that as well as mosquitos -- I do have two things of Deep Woods Off for the latter issue.), 2. Going to the bathroom (There will likely be lots of drinking [and bacon] because I'm going with T, but where do I...go? My last experience peeing outside was in a field near Woof U at a particularly awesome party. I had to completely remove everything below the waist to assure myself that I wouldn't make a mess. This cannot be the only way. It was drafty and rather precarious.), 3. Sleeping on the ground (isn't it hard? wet? cold? bumpy?)

Basically all of these fears (I've limited my list out of a sense of shame -- yes, I have one) are based on the unknown. I'm hoping that I'm like Grizzly Adams reborn and I'll take to the woods like a Megarita to Chimay, but there is the lurking fear that I will become something dreadful and girly and whiny and, yes, get eaten by a bear.

Any tips welcome. ETD is Saturday lunch time (after stopping by a Big Gay BBQ in B'more -- if it's my last meal, I want it to be fabulous).



After a glorious couple of weeks together, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have gotten engaged. He asked her in Paris. (As an interesting aside, the half dozen or so couples I know who got engaged in Paris all broke up within a year -- it's hard to follow up romance in the city of lights. Just a little relationship advice from your friendly neighborhood Megarita.)


My Beautiful Laundrette

Like any good single girl living in an apartment, I used my day off to do laundry. Our laundromat is pretty kicking, actually -- pool tables, lots of video game, radio stations, TVs playing -- so it's always an experience. I tend to go as soon as it opens so that it's not a feeding frenzy of people. I'm usually happily ensconced in a chair with a book or magazine while my unmentionables are swirling towards perfumed cleanliness. No one bothers me, I go about my business.

Not so yesterday.

I apparently was putting off some sort of weird phermone. Or maybe it was my new bottle of Gain. (FYI, I'm totally going back to Tide. Gain smells weirdly of patchouli, which may be my least favorite smell after 'dead animal.') In any case, I was sitting there minding my own business when a lovely little old man came over and asked me if I had a garden.

Thinking, "Great, looney at 8 am," I responded in the negative with a polite smile. He asked then if I had pots, dirt, windowboxes, anything? I said, "no sir." He then grinned and said he had all these extra bulbs from his lilies and could I please take two? He'd teach me how to plant them. I said, "Well, ok." and he proceeded to teach me all about lilies. I took the baggie of two hideous looking bulbs and thought maybe I'd try and make this happen. Then he appeared 10 minutes later witih a 5 gallon drum (from where? No idea.) and said, "this will help you get started!" So sweet. So now there's a 5 gallon drum and two huge bulbs in my car. No idea what to do with them, since I'm pretty sure I need a hose to wash out this mysterious bucket. At least a man gave me flowers, right?

But he left to go foist some bulbs on the other customers. Then came along stranger number two. To set the scene, I'm wearing my Poultry Science T-shirt to the 'mat. My old housemate analyzed chicken sperm at the Uni, and their lab sold t-shirts to raise money, so I have a bright red t-shirt with chickens on it. I have realized belatedly that it's a conversation starter. I scared off one person a while back by responding to his perfectly reasonable question, "what's poultry science" with: "my housemate masturbates chickens and studies their sperm count" and then turning my be-chickened back on him. Charming girl I am.

So fellow number two approaches and asks, "What's poultry science?" I was in a good mood after the nice little old man gave me flowers (or potential flowers), so I told him "it's not my science! I work on Shakespeare!" Fatal error. This launched him into his life story and how he's studying cognitive grammar ("you mean like cognitive linguistics?" "No," he said. Ok...?) and how the county is going downhill and what's my story and isn't Shakespeare hard since it's in old english and Baltimore is crime-ridden and these college students are pushing our rents up and blah blah blah. So I try to surreptitiously fold my undies and other clothes under the hawk-eyed stare of jabberjaw until my towels are dry.

But this isn't even the best part of the story. When I came into the 'mat and started sorting my laundry (yeah, I sort. You heard me.), I was at a table next to a lovely old couple who were laundering together. We exchanged pleasantries, and continued sorting. At one point while I was chatting, I reached into my basket for the next item, and pulled out a t-shirt. Out of the t-shirt vibrator.


But not everyone is quickwitted enough to bring it to the laundromat and whip it out in front of a very nice pair of older people!

Thankfully, I think I realized in under a second what I was holding, put my hand back in the basket and covered it with "delicates to wash later" without dropping eye contact with my friends. It all happened in horrifying slow motion: "Niiiiice weeeaaaaattthhhheeeerr wweeee'rrreee haaavvviiinnggg ooooooohhhhh nooooooo!!!!" But I cannot imagine that they didn't notice the rather suggestive and brightly colored appliance in my grasp. My laundry basket is near my bed, so I can only assume that it got tossed there at some point in recent memory. I now have it on a chain like the pens at the bank.

Some people get more accomplished by 10 am than the rest of the world does in a day. I get more stories. This is one.


Dan Dan and Downing Street

Where to begin, where to begin...

My dinner last night with my old friend "The Soon to be Famous Playwright" (SFP) was lovely as all dinners with him can be. SFP is one of these people who is positively scandinavian in his own moroseness at times, but who is also a chipper bit of sunshine about other people. He convinced me over spicy asian noodles and fabulously icy bevies that I would indeed get a job, have a future, etc. He also brings out the potential sophisticate in me. He's read, taught, seen, or written more plays than I'll ever get close to looking at (they're modern -- I've read a boatload of very old and oftentimes very bad plays), and our conversations often turn to theater. It's never more exciting to talk about something than when your companion is an expert, a professional, an aficionado. So I attempt to keep up and try to relate/review the last five plays I've seen. They're all Shakespeare this year, but they were good Shakespeare. Need to reconnect with the 20th century. Heck, maybe I'll start with the 18th century and work my way up.

But this morning my friend ST sends me the Downing Street memo petition that's been circulating around and it's changed my mood considerably. Not to enraged (too hot for that already), or to happy or even to any one emotion. Just to a state of jaded confusion.

I'll explain. The Downing Street Memo is what was leaked (conveniently? UK Deep Throat?) to the Times of London a few weeks ago. It basically alleges that our administration admitted to the Brits two months before the invasion of Iraq that they were cooking the books to facilitate an invasion. Intelligence and facts were being altered to support a legitimate invasion of Iraq. Here's a brief excerpt from the memo: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." (I bet our memos aren't this coherent or use big words like "conjunction." Am I bitter? Perchance.)

So the memo is a real humdinger that indicts Bush and the administration. The petition, circulated by the MoveOn PAC via Representative John Conyers, is what fills me with a sense of total inadequacy. (Here's the full letter from Conyers.) There are the questions the letter asks W:

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:

  1. Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
  2. Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
  3. Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
  4. At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
  5. Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.

I just don't see the need for answers to this. Haven't we all known this? Hasn't this been as covered as possible? Didn't the country re-elect this traveling circus in spite of it all? I really don't want to feel cynical about this, but my first response to seeing the petition and the letter was to say to Conyers, "fat chance, big guy."

YUCK! I'd berate my students for premature cynicism if they said such a thing in my class! But...ugh. I wish I could even feel angry, but I just feel tired and sad. No desire for political action in the slightest, no faith that the Dems or the Republicans who still have a head on their shoulders will get anything heard about this that will change anyone's mind in the slightest. I believe without a doubt that Bush & Co. were cooking the books, but I would have a heck of a time convincing much of the country. And that bums me out. (An interesting corollary to this has been the past week or so of the cartoon called "Candorville," which has been discussing what would happen if Deep Throat tried to leak information about a president today. Interesting and sickly funny.)

In other news, a fella friend of mine called me an "emotional dominatrix" yesterday. Is that bad? I think it's bad. Sigh.

No More Blue Shrew!

I just re-read through a few of my posts and realized how tiresome I've become! Wah wah wah my life's so hard. Well, today's better. Spent a productive day in my office sans supervision, about to go have fruity umbrella drinks and spicy asian food outside in the sunshine with an old pal (screw the bronzer -- I'm hitting the strappy tank tan!), and I'm seeing Batman Begins with my buddy Birmingham Boy tomorrow night after my day off. (I enjoy alliterative outings.) HUMP DAY PARTY! HUMP DAY PARTY! Yes. The universe has righted itself.

Off to polish my liver...someone remind me to post the (hopefully unintentionally) suggestive email I got from an academic VIP . Also helped make the day brighter. LOVE the potential of seeking legal counsel. I kid...


MJ gets off and I get shafted

Where's the justice, people??? Michael Jackson is completely cleared of all charges (heck, there was reasonable doubt, I know, but really?!?!) and my summer Shakespeare class gets cancelled. This special class had to be marketed and sold to a non-campus audience, but the mothersmurfing marketing department at Ass Hats Central couldn't get the job done. I had performance, history, poetry, field trips, acting, special effects and all kinds of cool stuff. But now it's gone.

Financially, this could be a bit of a crisis. This means a couple thousand just evaporated. But I'll cobble something together. I have skills and I have friends who can hire me part time and I have savings. (hee hee, "savings"!) It's more the hours of planning and plotting and excited thinking that go into building a brand new class from the ground up that were wasted. I was going to be teaching my dissertation topic before heading off to a fellowship year with no students. (Perhaps that's part of my dismay -- was my topic displeasing to the public? This would not bode well for the book and DVD special edition package with Megarita commentary I'm planning on releasing upon graduation.)

I fear that I might have to take out my rage on the academics today. It's our first day with a heat index above 100 degrees here in the sunny mid-Atlantic. (Is it summer yet? HELL NO!) I'm thinking of making the profs play ultimate frisbee with me on the Mall. Or at least throwing my new shiny pink disk really far and making them fetch like terriers. Mmmmm....fantasy life.


Persecuting the Academics

Believe it or not, this isn't a typical rant against Bush or anything! No, just a forecast of my next five weeks.

I'm helping coordinate an 5-week seminar at Turtle U for early modernists (aka My People). Poor souls from all over the country flew in yesterday for more than a month in the mid-Atlantic in the summer. They will live in dorms en suite and they will read their asses off and they will likely all lose 10 pounds under our gentle tutelage. (Fear not, I'm not teaching them -- these are the hard core more historical types who study religious tolerance and lack thereof. I might have to call them all Professor, but I'm trying to avoid that.)

Back when I was Gainfully Employed Megarita, I worked PR and communications for a DC museum (you might know it as "America's Attic" -- not a bad gig having to promote that big boy!). Part of my job was going on study tours and coordinating things on the ground for 15-50 travelers in various parts of the country. I was already tagged as a "theater princess," even at 22, so I've been to lots of the major Shakespeare festivals in North America with America's Attic. Shout out and happy memories to Ashland, OR, and Stratford, Ontario, in the Great Wild North, especially! (Best 1 Henry IV ever was in Ashland, Oregon. I would have followed that man to Agincourt without a whimper. But I digress.)

What I learned from being a tour coordinator is that perfectly able adults will revert to complete retardation or at least their childhoods when given the option. World travelers, former Marine officers, accomplished adults will look to people like me (and try to set me up with their sons, usually) to fix their tickets, get them moved in, rub their feet, whatever.

I didn't expect this from the academics. But I was not disappointed!! People's personalities really shine when it's 93 and high humidity and you're moving into dorms for 5 weeks. I ended up (with my noble colleague and housemate A and lovely boss K) schlepping people's suitcases up the stairs in an attempt to "take the edge off" their imminent meltdowns. It was a nice bit of schadenfreude to see these profs (some not that much further along than myself) settle into dorms when I got to sashay back to my suddenly dazzling and spacious home. Mwahahahaaha.

But, as I learned with the tours in Bath, Ashland, Stratford, et al, nothing solves their worries like cold white wine and snackies. We got them to a reception, handed them satay, and they were happy little brains, schmoozing and boozing. I'm considering bringing a thermos of chardonnary with me throughout their stay in case of emergency.


When I'm not drinking with students, I'm ruining their lives

Achtung: I'm on a tear. Woke up on the wrong side of the broomstick, apparently...

Just doing some catching up with the excellent Arts and Letters Daily site (it somehow got bumped off my link list, likely for Homestar Runner, which embarrasses me a lot). Earlier, I had gotten an email from a student from the spring semester, demanding to know why she got a B in Shakespeare and explaining to me how this B will basically doom her to a life of low-paying service jobs. She's a B student, but she's a chatty B student, and she believes that her "enthusiastic participation" (which nearly required a muzzle in one or two classes) entitles her to an A.

I was perfectly ripe, then, for this article by an AU professor about the hazards of posting grades electronically and the HUGE problem of students who argue grades. The majority of profs at AU do a post and bolt, where they post their grades and literally leave town so that no students can get a hold of them.

While complaints from profs and TAs about the outlandish ballsiness of students who demand recounts on grades are nothing new, I was happy to see some evidence of grade inflation noted in the article. You know, the whole bit about how Harvard realized that 90% of its graduates graduated with honors, half the grades awarded there were As... Arthur Levine, who's considered a "grading expert," had this to say about the trend:

Arthur Levine, president of Columbia University Teacher's College and an authority on grading, traces what's going on to the Vietnam War. "Men who got low grades could be drafted," Levine says. "The next piece was the spread of graduate schools where only A's and B's were passing grades. That soon got passed on to undergraduates and set the standard."

And then there's consumerism, he says. Pure and simple, tuition at a private college runs, on average, nearly $28,000 a year. If parents pay that much, they expect nothing less than A's in return. "Therefore, if the teacher gives you a B, that's not acceptable," says Levine, "because the teacher works for you. I expect A's, and if I'm getting B's, I'm not getting my money's worth."

Fascinating about the war, isn't it? It's certainly true about the As in grad school -- a good friend of mine was putting together his dissertation committee and realized he really couldn't put one important fellow on there, because he had received a B in that prof's class. We all nodded fearfully. "Gosh, I don't know what I would do if I got a B! Lord, that would be it!!"

The consumerism is a large part of it, certainly. I have a routine at the beginning of every semester about how Turtle U is not the same as a Safeway or a Target or a bank. They're not buying me or their other professors; they have paid tuition in order to get access to my mind, my experience, and my pedagogy, as well as my rapier wit and fabulous fashion sense. They don't get a toaster with their purchase, nor do they get an A. And they sure as hell don't get an A for "effort." The days of gold stars are over. I'll tell them, good effort, but I'm not grading them for it. (I oftentimes slip in to Woof U speak at this point and tell them they're "running with the big dogs now and need to keep up or stay on the porch." This frightens them thoroughly. I recommend.)

I'm also in a department that holds firm to the old idea of "gentlemanly Cs" for undergraduates. C is average. Did you turn in your homework? That starts you at a C. This is like nuclear physics for students, who presume they're A students until proven otherwise.

After all this (soap box getting unstable??), it's the "you've ruined my future" bit that really turns my stomach, because I think they really believe it. They think that they really deserve the higher grade even if they don't work for it. They think that they're supposed to go to business school, even if they're dumb as buckets full of hair. Alas and alack. You can dislike or even have trouble with Shakespeare and still be a fine doctor, but you really have to be a dink and lazy to fail my class. But failure is never an option. No learning from mistakes. And certainly no respecting the meticulous efforts, spreadsheets, and very generous grading of their instructors.

The prof who was running my big Shakespeare class got an email from my student, too, and he basically said "she didn't earn an A. We'll let her say her piece and then move on." God bless him for it. I've taught for profs who just roll over because it's far easier. I'm still all dewy and idealistic, I guess. I also busted my chops (pardon me, am STILL busting my chops) to achieve excellence in academia. Poor children are in for a long haul. Gold stars all around.


Seeing a cute student in a bar

I spent last night in the company of a group I like to call " my DC boys." These are the fellows who make movies, and who enjoy putting my spastic self into said movies. Their longer film "premiered" last night in a friend's apartment (over 30 minutes!) to great acclaim. Hilarious dialogue, excellent special effects, and some truly over the top pop culture references. I'm looking forward to the director's commentary on the extendo-DVD. All of us who were in the movie spent the rest of the evening congratulating ourselves on how truly fabulous and attractive we all were in the film.

(This reminds me of my friend B's paean to Chimay, our favorite beer: "Chimay. It makes you look good and it makes your friends look better." I bet if we'd said it in French, German, or Flemish, the Trappists or the Belgies would have been on that like white on rice. But anyway...)

After drinking the party dry, my friends sashayed into Adams Morgan to one of my favorite bars -- indeed, my second home when I lived in the neighborhood. I guess since we try to be anonymous here, I'll call it "Flintstone Pool Hall." This bar is a happy refuge of pool (which I do not practice enough), darts (I'm bad), and Connect Four (I DOMINATE THIS GAME! PLAY ME NOW FOR MONEY!). It's also got Boddington's on tap (slurpy slurpy goodness) and the place is always at least 2 to 1, usually 3 to 1 dudes to chicks.

This ratio is not only a happy circumstance for me, being a straight gal who enjoys boys who can play darts and lose gracefully at Connect Four, but for everyone present in the bar. You see, this is not the bar for the hoochie midriffs and the low rise hiphuggers. Nor is it a place for the shiny suits and the slicked back hair and cigars. It's just not that scene. I've come in in something short (usually shorts, quite honestly, around August), and the place sort of looks judgmentally at me and then just rolls its collective eyes and moves on. So it's a great social scene, great beers, good pool tables, and no shrieky ladies. Lovely.

But back to my story. I'm sidled up against the bar, cool creamy Boddingtons in hand, with a bunch of my pals -- recently 30-turned housemate A., her boyfriend J, teacher/actor B, editor/wit J, his wife E, the ever-tolerant Momentary, and a few others. We're chatting, probably getting ever-louder, when I spot this good looking kid at the bar past J's shoulder. I'm getting a little nearsighted, so I can't really tell why he looks familiar.

Then it hits me. This kid was in my class in the fall. It's the super cheeky but very bright young man who came to class not very regularly but who thought more about the class than anyone else. DAMMIT! Why is he in MY BAR, not in Turtle Town or really not any other of the more chic or more chick-laden scenes in Adams Morgan?!

He's obviously seen me and is likewise at a loss. So I continue chatting with my friends and sneak a peek here and there at my kid. J. takes it into his head that it will be HILARIOUS to talk to the kid about me, and so he does. They talk for a while and almost with one voice the guys in the crowd start singing pieces of "Young teacher, the subject..." and so on. (These guys are really too old for this.) My Boddington's is no longer as creamy as I'd thought. Finally the kid cracks, pushes through my friends to me, raises his glass, and toasts in a strange voice, "To Shakespeare and to Peace in the Middle East." (He was Persian, this kid, and we went head to head about a few things. Can't talk about Shakespeare without getting into geopolitics in my class. Don't know why.) Then he melted into the crowd. I hope I was setting some sort of example, perhaps in my excellent choice of beers, friends, bars? Damn.


Damsels in Distress

There's a provocative post in my paper's editorial section today from Eugene Robinson called "(White) Women We Love," which is largely a response to the media coverage of the latest petite blonde who's gone missing -- this time in Aruba, for those who keep score. He's arguing that the media only covers white women in trouble.

An excerpt: "A damsel must be white. This requirement is nonnegotiable. It helps if her frame is of dimensions that breathless cable television reporters can credibly describe as "petite," and it also helps if she's the kind of woman who wouldn't really mind being called "petite," a woman with a good deal of princess in her personality. She must be attractive -- also nonnegotiable. Her economic status should be middle class or higher, but an exception can be made in the case of wartime (see: Lynch)."

I think he's right (although his snarky comment about the "princess" set my teeth on edge). I've always had a terrible cynical streak about the Amber alerts, mostly betting how tiny or fair haired the little girl would be (after hoping she's safe, for god's sake). This isn't a victim thing, it's a media thing. (By that I mean that I am in no way asserting that these women do not deserve attention or assistance -- I'm saying that we never hear about the others. The news makes that choice.) There are plenty of other women who are in danger but who are not "newsworthy." It's always, as Eugene says, the damsel in distress. Rapunzel in the tower, Sleeping Beauty in the palace, and so on. (This makes me especially surly after reading Alley Rat's excellent post at SRWU about the new weapon against rape in South Africa -- vaginal teeth. We're concerned about some chick on vacation in Aruba when women are being gang raped daily all over the place there. And that's just one country. And not even this country.)

So is Eugene speaking truth? If I'm kidnapped, will I get full page coverage and 24 hour CNN madness ("The Quest for Megarita!") while my asian, latina, black or simply brunette friends languish in terror? Heck, don't even ask about the larger ladies?!

Audience Analysis

Tobacco lawsuit -- 4 comments
Naked blogging -- 13 comments

NOW I know who I'm dealing with! Hilarious.

I'm hopefully watching a movie premiere this evening -- my friend C. has been working on a short film for over a year. It was inspired by the cicada invasion last summer and is only now coming to fruition. He's a fabulously creative guy, and he works with very funny and clever people, but he refuses to let this film go. (He's terrible at finishing other films,'s a metaphor for lots of things, I think.*) I've still got a bet that he'll call the thing off at the last minute and blame technical difficulties. Perhaps he worries that no one will like it, I don't know. (All I know is that the majority of his friends, including moi, are in the damn film so of course we'll love it!)

*Best inadvertant metaphor for life yesterday -- Birmingham Boy calls in to work and says he can't come in because his car is stuck in Park. Hilarious.


Bronzing and the hazards of naked time

To bronze or not to bronze? Whether 'tis nobler in the flesh to suffer the piercing aging rays of yonder golden orb or to bake oneself brown with the paints of man....

I bronze. I am a pale blondey who tans exceedingly well but who is trying to not look like a saddle bag by her next birthday, thereby avoiding the fate of some of my friends. I love the sun, I miss the sun, but I bronze.

The perils of self-tanning are many. You may turn out orange, you may apply unevenly, resulting in an unfortunate animal print on your flesh. Not chic. I am, I like to think, a rather excellent applier of tanners, having been trained in self-applied sunscreening from years of beachy goodness. I am also very bendy, so I don't miss many spots.

The real peril for me is the drying time. After painting yourself brown, you must act as though you have just painted your fingernails, but all over, and not let anything touch your new veneer. Hence, "Naked Time." Got to let the tan "take" while not allowing any part of my skin to touch another part. This requires funny walking and a lot of arm lifting. It looks amusing, I'm told.

Naked time could be cool if not for my neighborhood and my house's many windows. Dudesylvania, near Turtle U, is never quiet, nor are the sidewalks near my bedroom's 12 windows ever empty. This requires the lowering of blinds, or, when I actually need light and air (silly needy Megarita), I must skulk around my house like some naked Boo Radley. (Or Nude Radley? Ha! I need to use that as a screen name someday.)

"She's overreacting," you say. Nay, my good man, for I've been caught before! One fine day soon after moving in I was strolling from the shower to my bedroom, which is a good hike across the apartment. Windows were open, breeze was blowing, I was clean. But not alone, as it turns out. I heard a dudely voice shriek, "HOLY CRAP!" I looked to my left, and saw a very thankful fratster standing on the sidewalk looking directly at me. I made a dive for the floor rarely seen outside of action films. Totally hit it like there was a fire in the hole, but to no avail. (I would like to add that my room has hardwood floors, and that there was some bruising.)

So now I duck and creep and walk funny and sprint around my apartment in the buff for about 30 minutes or until I'm sufficiently bronzed. Or I blog while perched precariously. Thanks for joining me.

Damnable Dissertation Distraction

I'm looking at some crappy prose in my chapter about witches, so I'm avoiding serious thought by waxing on about my friend The Birmingham Boy's problems. Because they amuse me.

The Boy has decided to go on sabbatical from "the ladies" for a solid year. His last girlfriend was some sort of crazy Latina, and he was married before that, so he's thinking that a break might do him good.

I hear the sabbatical thing -- I've taken a breather for many a season here and there along the primrose path that is my life -- but a year? I'm considering starting a betting pool about his potential success or failure, but I'd hate to seem unsupportive.

As an aside, the Boy is considering getting work with a fella named Dick Deasy, which has had me making up slogans all day. "Feeling queasy? You need Dick Deasy!" "He's not sleazy! He's Dick Deasy!" "Take it easy -- leave it to Dick Deasy." "You think that's cheesy? Check out Dick Deasy!"

Back to work. Maybe some wine and then some work. (Shout out to Reds red wine, "the people's wine." Any wine with Soviet leaders' faces on their corks is serious drinking. And I feel so lefty! Sure to inspire something academic.) 'Night, comrades.


Justice Department Bends Over

I know, it's a little crass for 8 am, but here's why (from the old dependable Post):

"After eight months of courtroom argument, Justice Department lawyers abruptly upset a landmark civil racketeering case against the tobacco industry yesterday by asking for less than 8 percent of the expected penalty.

As he concluded closing arguments in the six-year-old lawsuit, Justice Department lawyer Stephen D. Brody shocked tobacco company representatives and anti-tobacco activists by announcing that the government will not seek the $130 billion that a government expert had testified was necessary to fund smoking-cessation programs. Instead, Brody said, the Justice Department will ask tobacco companies to pay $10 billion over five years to help millions of Americans quit smoking."

Needless to say, judges and lawyers alike fell out of their chairs. You know it's bad when the attorney for Philip Morris says, "It's clear the government hasn't thought through what it's doing."

Oh, I think there's been a lot of "thinking" about this one. Charging the tobacco guys with "the largest civil racketeering and conspiracy case in U.S. history" and then saying "KIDDING! We kid the tobacco industry! Puff!?" (This case accuses six tobacco companies of engaging in a conspiracy to addict smokers while concealing the dangers of cigarettes. Interesting stuff. Or at least, it was...)


Guest Blogging

I'll be doing a little guest blogging at Something Requisitely Witty and Urbane over the next few days. (Link on my little linkography below -- having linky problems, sorry) Swing by, have a'll be grand!

Coming Unstuck

Ahhh the glories of the extra long weekend!

I'll save the gory details of my journey to the land of the dead for the woman who gets paid to hear those sorts of things, but I will say this much -- I begged for help and guidance, and I got an answer. Creepy, yet very soothing.

Claven asked what it meant to be stuck in megarita's world. I would say that for me a sense of stuckedness comes from seeing a great many things in my life unfinished. In my case this involves dissertations, housing changes that don't get done, weirdly wrong relationships that don't get cut off, and things like that. I've had the sense that these things are not getting done for a reason -- whether that's fear or hesitation or doubt or what have you. So I went on my little Odyssean journey to see whether I could get past that. Only time will tell whether it worked or not! Thanks for all the good wishes.

I've got little kids crawling all over me -- my cousin's kids are in NY -- so I need to go play make-believe about otters and seals before I train it back to the Beltway. Mmmmm....Beltway.

Meow Meow I'm an Otter

I like kids, I swear to god. And I like my cousin's kids especially, because they have to be the most even-tempered children on the planet. But I CAN NOT PLAY ANOTHER GAME OF PEEKABOO! I read the older girl Eloise -- using all my excellent voices for Nana and the hotel manager and Skipperdee -- and then played her strange game of "marine mammals" or something featuring killer whales, otters, and baby seals, until my train left NYC this morning.

And I was ready to fling myself off the parapets.

I had dinner at a really excellent French Bistro last night with the kids' mom and my aunt, who are both fabulous women. (L'Absinthe on E. 67th for anyone up that-a-way.) They were talking about how it's so hard to make time for yourself when you have kids. I sat there pounding pinot and pondering how I make not enough time for myself and I'm stone cold childless! I nodded sagely, though, and pondered the outline of my forthcoming children's book about a bear actor on the Renaissance stage. (His name is Jim, and he has brown fur.)

On the walk home, we three chattered about a couple my aunt knew who had "decided to remain childless." She was floored by this, but yet there was an admiring tone in her voice. I think I'd very much like to have kids, and I think my kids would be pretty nifty since they'd be hard-wired to speak Megarita. And they'd likely be super duper tall unless I somehow end up breeding with a wee fella.

But they could also be dumb. And this is a fear of mine. Stupid children. I feel pretty good about being able to handle, love, care for children who had disabilities or who were maybe even unattractive, but what if they're dumb as buckets full of hair? Stumps? Bumps on logs? What Would We Talk About? It sounds like the worst date in history stretching out over 18+ years. Shudder.

Cloning maybe...yesssss...cloning.


Eloise gets evicted

After a stunningly beautiful day spent sprawled on the Lawn in Central Park (1010 Wins called it a "bonus day" since it was supposed to rain), my friend J(NY) and I hit the Plaza to buy some of their stuff.

Did anyone else know that they (whoever "they" may be) are gutting the Plaza and selling all the stuff? It's a total free for all. Everything from bathrobes to towels to dirty wine glasses to ramekins to lamps to all the furniture in the building. And the whole place is wide open so you can walk up to the suites overlooki ng the Park and 57th Street and just gape. (Or lean out the window, as one tourist dared me to do and I happily complied.) Needless to say, we had a field day. It was like a playful remake of The Shining, with two 30 year old chicks with slight sunburns racing from room to room in a deserted luxury hotel, trying to figure out how to pry those marble fireplaces off and get them to DC.

It was also one of the saddest spectacles you can imagine: this grande dame hotel left shivering in her knickers while all her clothes get sold piecemeal.

Other interesting finds -- the men's monogrammed slippers are of a much higher quality than the women's. We had a little snit over that. Also, the Plaza used a lot of cheap crystal, which saddened me. I'm sure the good stuff went the first day of the sale (which I hear was some time ago), but this was crap. MY stuff is better than this. Finally, we saw some folks who were obvisly sneaking into the rooms to have a last minute roll in the hay at the Plaza. Bare mattress, spray paint on the walls. Could be a crack den, but it's really the Plaza. And that's just irresistible.


New Link

I've added a new link to my list on the lower right -- The Just World News, which is one (female) reporter's attempt to use information as a means to building a more just world. It's very thoughtful and well-considered -- she's a very accomplished international correspondent. Hope you enjoy.

Pathetic Fallacy

I remember when I first heard this term in English class, I thought it was rather rude of someone to assert that making an analogy between one's feelings and nature was "pathetic." Who did these Victorians think they were? Weren't these the same fruitcakes who hid their piano legs under a drape for modesty's sake?

Since then I've read Ruskin and I understand pathos and I understand the term. It's used in science as well as literary criticism, I believe, to discuss fallaciously self-sustaining hypotheses. (This is a Megarita paraphrase, so god only knows how wrong it could be.)

But for all my book-learning, it's raining and cold today in early June and I'm sure it's all because of me. I have a strange weekend ahead of me, and it's absolutely made me bonkers this week, and will quite possibly wreck me for a week or two to come.

I'm going to visit my mother's grave for the first time. I saw her interred ("her," heck, it was a box of ashes, but still) way back in the early 1990s when she died, but there was no gravestone, no set-up. Since then, both her parents have died (they were like characters in a Noel Coward play -- easily the coolest and yet most misguided people I've ever known or loved) and they've all come together in a family plot up in Foo-Foo Connecticut. And I'm going to visit.

This is one of those scenarios that could go a lot of different ways. I have a sense that this might shatter me into many little pieces (I'm secretly bringing Theodore E. Bear [he of the sound-proofed rear end] with me in my luggage just in case I get into trouble. If any of you are on the Metroliner and see brown fur sticking out of some lady's bags, SAY NOTHING!), but that might help me move past this stalled place in my life. I think it might be cleansing, in a violent purgative sort of way.

I wonder, too, why there are no terms (that I know of) for the troubled relationship between mothers and daughters. I'd make some sort of crack about Freud right now, but I haven't got it in me (see pathetic fallacy above: drip drip drip). I also wonder what one wears to sit upon the ground and tell sad stories about the death of families. Honestly! Do I bring a cushion? An entire box of kleenex? Ok, several boxes?

Aside from Stealth Bear, to be deployed in case of full regression, I'm bringing a letter to mom and a bottle of bubbly (my answer to all life's major events: "Dead? What you need is a glass of champagne!"). Since the three of them were big drinking partners -- this killed my mother but somehow pickled her parents into a state of lockjawed fabulousness -- I think we'll split the bottle as we chat.

So I apologize for being so drab, and I am sorry to my fellow mid-Atlanticers as they gaze out the window on this perplexingly wet and cold June day. I don't often get blue, but when I do...

See you all next week, god willing and the creek don't rise.


Science blows my mind

This was a headline in today's paper: "Hormone Spray is Found to Bolster Truth in Others."

Our capacity for trust can be reduced to a hormone! (I exaggerate for effect, ahem.) The results: "Those who inhaled the hormone, which occurs naturally in the brain, were more likely to entrust others with large sums of money than were volunteers who inhaled no hormone."

Nice "experiment," to start with: "Here, breathe this. (pause) Now give me your wallet."

I really got the heebie-jeebies when I read this, because I think a fear response and NOT trusting people who have seemed ok has likely saved my bacon more than once. As the science reporter so aptly put it, "Researchers said their finding might lead to cures for people with disorders that prompt them to hold others at arm's length, but they acknowledged that the chemical, which is widely used in medicine, could be misused."

It's a "disorder" to hold people at arm's length? I assume they mean things like social anxiety, or is there something more grave? Does this thing seem custom made for a date-rape drug or a kidnapping/extortion tool or am I just deeply paranoid? Gullible Gas on the black market?

While the scientists were very fired up about the potential for the drug and expressed their desire to heavily regulate it so that politicians didn't gas the people they were stumping to during a campaign (this seems the least of the worries to me?!), this was my favorite response:
"Hogue, the theologian and pastoral psychologist [does this mean he treats sheep?], said the research held out the possibility of reconciliation between individuals and the potential of healing rifts between political groups, even nations: 'While spraying oxytocin on one's political or religious adversaries may be strategically difficult, comprehending the biological correlates of trust could conceivably offer promising avenues for reassessing and reconciling conflict.'"

If you can't beat 'em, gas 'em? Hooray for science! Hooray!

I (heart) Frank Hardy

The other night Dr. E and I were discussing mystery authors we love and old books we read to pieces when we came around to the Hardy Boys. Good old Frank and Joe. Laughingly, someone asked "Frank or Joe for you?" and I immediately replied, "Frank, no question." (Poor B. was looking on in horror and gesturing around for a waiter, hoping against hope that this line of converation was brought on by the sassy New Zealand white wine.) For a speedy trip down memory lane, check out this site of Hardy Boys cover art.

I have no recollection of Frank Hardy other than he was older and had dark hair. He and his equally banal bother Joe solved mysteries at places like Pirate's Cove. But apparently somewhere deep within my inner 10-year-old, a lust remains. I love Frank Hardy.

And so ends today's episode of "Fictional Men of Mystery I Have Loved." Next week, tune in for Melrose Plant and Inspector Lynley: Delicious Landed Gentry.


He looks as though he forgot to take off the goggles when he changed out of his super hero costume. Maybe X-Ray vision is how he learned about the Committee to Re-Elect. Or has the Red Baron just stepped out of his bi-plane to greet the crowds? And whose poor hand is that? Look at the guy in the trench looking askance at their handclasp!

Deep Throat in a 24 Hour News Cycle

I was disappointed to find out Deep Throat's identity from CNN last night rather than from the Post this morning. He's such a figure from the print media; he's Woodward and Bernstein's boy, not Wolf Blitzer's.

I must admit with some guilt that his arrival in the media -- this happy 91-year old with cute family -- was similarly less exciting than I expected. Then I read the Post this morning -- I would have loved to have been a reporter there in the last 24 hours! -- and realized why. We have become so acclimated to the quickie news cycle, to the waves of whistleblowers and tell-all books, that Deep Throat the idea, the secret, is far more interesting than Deep Throat the man. It is far more surprising that Bradlee, Woodward, and Bernstein kept this secret for 30 years than that Malt was actually Him. It's also rather intriguing that Felt went to Vanity Fair rather than to his boys in DC to break his silence. That's an interesting move.

What will be especially fascinating is the reaction of Nixon's people over the next few days. Nixon himself mentioned that he thought Felt was the mole, so I imagine there will be some heated tempers among the Geritol set this week. I look forward to the fireworks. It's too bad I'll get most of it from cable news. Times have changed.