Sorry about your erythema migrans

Sara, I'm sorry. When I was at your house and kept cracking jokes about you having Lyme Disease - "Is your Lyme Disease acting up?" and "Get off the couch, it's not like you have Lyme Disease!" - I NEVER thought you REALLY had Lyme Disease.

I thought that the rash on your leg was something other than the characteristic skin rash erythema migrans, transmitted to you by a blacklegged tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. I never imagined that the headache and fatigue you felt was related to a condition that, if left untreated, could have spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system.

I just thought you were tired because you're a mother and four months pregnant and I hear that that's really tiring and a fairly good reason to lie on the couch in the middle of the day and fall asleep for hours. And I'm sorry that when we went to the basement to tear down cabinets and you asked for my help in working on the house you're remodeling, all I did was take photos and make MORE jokes about you having Lyme Disease and getting tetanus and then wandered in the other room to take photos of my feet.

I'm so glad that you went to another doctor to get a second opinion and caught the Lyme Disease before it caused any palsy or cognitive disorders and I want you to know that if I weren't with Idol right now, I'd be in your living room smoothing the covers over your shoulders and putting honey in your tea and buying do it yourself home improvement books.


Lisa London's hardcore posse

Yesterday I read Lisa London's blog and found that I made the list of her HARDCORE POSSE: BEST OF THE BEST. Woo!

Lisa is my former boss. We met shortly after I moved to New York and I answered her ad for a publishing internship at The Feminist Press.

Lisa returned my email and suggested that we meet to discuss the internship at Virgin Records in Union Square. Whoever arrived first was to go the Flaming Lips listening booth and put on track #4 from the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots album.

"Wow," I thought to myself, "That's crazy. I like her already."

I showed up and this lady took the headphones off her ears, put them on mine, flashed a huge smile, and said, "Isn't it great?!"

I nodded and tried to look cool.

After spinning some yarn about how much energy and enthusiasm I'd devote to the internship, we were on. For the next two years, under Lisa's management, I appreciated a singularly killer mix of instruction, support, and hilarity.

"Lisa," I'd say after knocking on her office door, "Could we find something to meet about?"

Meaning: I'm all the way over in my own office and I miss you so maybe we could hang out and you don't mind if I put my feet up on your desk, do you?

Lisa introduced me to the Coney Island Polar Bear Club and convinced me do jumping jacks on the beach and then run into the water to freeze my tits off. We laughed until we choked over imitating Klaus, an elderly German member of the Polar Bear Club.

It wasn't the skin-stinging, head-splitting, bone-aching cold that eventually drove me out of the water, it was Klaus and his guttural voice sidling up to me in the water with:

"It's bettah thahn an ORRRGAAAHSM!"

Gotta go!

Lisa and I once had a competition to see who had the worst elementary school photo. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that we used to be IDENTICAL TWINS.


Duck Dodge

Last week I was drinking pints of beer at Leny's Tavern and catching up with my friend Jon. I had sprinted two blocks from Jane's house to the bar and abandoned Seema, our other high school friend in Seattle to celebrate Jane's graduation, with a wave of my hand and a slam of the screen door.

Around my fourth Bud Light, Chris Kelly showed up, plunked himself on the bar stool at my side, and invited me to the Duck Dodge.

"The what?"

Jon said I should definitely go. "It's great," he said, "a sailboat race around Lake Union." Piece of cake, lots of fun, etc.

The name Duck Dodge is taken from Race Rule 12: Never make a duck change its course. Several people now realize Rule 13 should be THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE LETTING ME JOIN YOUR CREW, but Jon (boat-maker who blithely sails to the South Pacific) and Chris (as boundlessly cheerful and plucky as a golden retriever puppy) assured me it was a superb idea.

Chris and I scooped up Seema and headed to the lake.

Navigating the creaking planks of the dock, I resisted the urge to walk with both arms extended for balance. I greeted the real sailors with raised palm and wide smile and hoped that bravado and a deep sense of inner confidence would mask my heavy buzz. Seema and I exchanged glances and lingered on the dock for a moment before awkwardly straddling the railing of the deck and thudding onto the other side.

Once aboard, Seema and I chose distinct coping mechanisms. Chris offered us each Pacificos and Seema nodded quickly and practically dove headfirst into the galley to find a bottle opener. I, on the other hand, shook my head and harbored suspicions that my pupils were, in fear, as dilated as a high schooler on an acid binge.

Seema and I attempted to lean against the sides of the cockpit and give off airs of casual ease. The fact that we didn't understand any of the sailor lingo being exchanged and were perpetually blocking someone and scooting out of the way with little "Sorry! Sorry!"s didn't help our skit.

Chris told us to just follow directions once the race got underway and I felt suddenly compelled to come clean to the others and announce that I not only have never raced but don't sail at all. I needed to know that no one was going to scream at me to tie a loop knot or a double loop bowline at a crucial point in the race. I needed the directions to be VERY CLEAR and in LANDLUBBER ENGLISH.

The others assured us we'd both just crouch mid-boat under the mainsail and scramble underneath the boom from side (port) to side (starboard) when ordered. They also said to take care not to knock our heads on the swinging boom and get concussions.

The Duck Dodge happens every week from mid-May through September. We showed up on Pajama Night but our entire crew forgot to wear their PJ's. Hopefully they won't be so neglectful on Prom Night and Pirate Night scheduled for later this summer.

Shortly after the start of the race, I learned several things. I learned that it is impossible to not know when it's time to dive underneath the boom to the other side. When the boat tacks and the angle of the deck shifts drastically, you don't need an order to GET YOUR ASS MOVING, regardless of the excessive bruising that you shall suffer later.

I learned to immediately start cursing our arch-rival, a red boat named Minor Threat, who won the race. I learned that sailing is super relaxing when you aren't sustaining a sudden gust of wind while rounding a buoy, losing control of the sails and rudder and nearly capsizing.

And I learned that the rest of the time you can pretty much hang over the side and listen to others read the water and announce oncoming winds, "Puff. Puff on." It's mildly amusing to imitate the real sailors by saying languorously to each other, "Puff on, Seema" and "Puff on, Jess" while trying to make yourself look as high as possible.

Thanks, Chris.



Since reporting on N's dramatic departure from Detroit and subsequent appearances in Ohio, I've received several comments and questions regarding N's current status:

1. Will I take N to other marquise to see if he makes friends with more letters?

2. Does N miss the Royal Oak Theater or does he yearn to see the world?

and my favorite:

3. "Wow. I had no idea N was so...how do you say?...laid back."

And so I feel obliged to reveal a couple of things.

N may have a little drinking problem. I'd like to think it has more to do with his new freedom rather than an innate desire to drink heavily and black out at family functions. Kind of like a sheltered college freshman who runs away from Provo, Utah and Brigham Young University and enrolls at UW-Madison and attends nightly keggers, I believe that eventually N will realize it's more fun to have a few cocktails and go to bed than spend hours hurling remnants of cheap beer into the toilet and wondering what happened between 2 and 4 am. I'm keeping an eye on the situation.

N has expressed NO DESIRE to go back to the Royal Oak or any other marquise, but he has hinted that a trip to the library might be nice. N felt limited by the theater, where he could only say so much, while the possibilities at a library are endless. As for his general demeanor: N is laid back to an unparalleled degree. He recently accompanied me to New York and took to the city with no complaints and even hung out on the stoop like a real Brooklynite.


Beavers the size of bears

I just read the inside of my Snapple lid and was treated to Real Fact #123: Beavers were once the size of bears.

I instantly felt that I should not be allowed to know this about beavers. This knowledge will make me act crazy.

Last week I was typing in my parents' basement office which was recently redone with a new super-shaggy carpet. I saw something in my peripheral vision and glanced over to see a large cockroach painstakingly climbing up and down the hillocks of fiber. He wasn't getting anywhere but he was trying very hard and so my heart went out to him at the same time that I wanted to smash his guts in.

I watched him for a minute to be sure that he was truly slow and incapable of pulling any fast ones like actual scurrying. Then I got the bright idea to take him outside. Since he'd only progressed an inch in five minutes I thought maybe he'd stand patiently on a manila folder while I carried him up the steps and out the door. When I slid the folder under his belly, however, he did a back flip back down to the carpet. I jumped and ran back to my desk.

The cockroach froze in place and I imagined he was thinking: She won't notice me if I JUST DON'T MOVE. The cockroach was most likely looking at me out of the corner of his eye, too, but of course I couldn't tell.

"Just don't walk towards me!" I said, pointing my index finger at him.

And he took a left. In my direction. So I went over, put a pillow on top of him, and smashed his guts in with my heel.

When I tried to resume writing I couldn't ignore the nagging suspicion that there was a huge, beagle-sized cockroach curled up on the floor at my feet. Or tapping my leg with his antennae. Or blinking a giant cockroach eye and waiting to make eye contact with me before avenging my mercenary act.

I sat cross-legged in the chair and shook my head several times quickly and ordered myself NOT TO GO DOWN THE ROAD I WAS ABOUT TO GO DOWN.

It is a road that I explored as a child after catching part of "Earth Vs. The Spider" on television.

The plot of this campy 1958 movie centers around a giant spider that lives in a cave and is discovered by a couple of teenagers who barely escape with their lives. I remember a girl shrieking and trying in vain to push a boulder towards a elephantine tarantula who keeps stretching its mutant legs out towards her.

Needless to say, I lost some sleep over this scene. The spider was at my bedroom door, opening the knob with its huge hairy leg, checking me out with eight gigantic eyes, crawling towards my bed to eat me, etc.

Now I recall the squirmy panic inspired by giant movie spiders and the fact that last week I wouldn't pick up the cockroach pillow for a whole day out of fear that a jumbo retaliation cockroach who was already mad at me was waiting underneath. Hopefully beavers are cute enough rodents that the idea of a bear-sized version who hasn't shuffled around for 10,000 years won't keep me up tonight.