I woke up this morning when Joanna brought Alfie downstairs at 6am. I gave up the couch and shuffled up the stairs to Alfie's bed to sleep for a few more hours. I woke up again, just barely, to two people standing over me. My eyes half opened, I thought Joanna must need something, a diaper for Alfie, but I didn't say a word. They must have come back up to get it, I thought. The third time I woke, I went downstairs and asked Joanna if she and Alfie had been looking at me while I slept. "No," she said, "We weren't up there."

"Oh, great," I said, "GHOSTS."

I'm fine with the idea of ghosts and when I think they're around. I say "Hello!" and "You're welcome here!" because I want them to be comfortable and not fuck with me. I just don't want them toflicker the lights, bang cupboards or STAND BEHIND ME IN THE MIRROR SO THAT WHEN I'M BRUSHING MY TEETH AND LOOK UP, I SEE A FACE OVER MY SHOULDER. That's actually a huge fear of mine or anything.

I lived in the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle, a place ripe for haunting since it was a hundred-year-old former home for "wayward" girls.

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the nuns who took them in, belonged to a Catholic order who rehabilitated "girls of dissolute habits" (see: loose, indifferent to norms of morality, and possibly a lot of fun to hang out with). And I think the word rehabilitated is being used vaguely in this context. Did they rehabilitate the girls with long chats, cups or tea, or did they whack them with rulers and lock them in the attic?

By the time I got to the Good Shepherd Center in 2001, the building had long been converted to non-profit offices, an elementary school, art spaces, and a park. I lived rent free with Liz in one of the deceased nun's apartments on the top floor and we took turns doing caretaker shifts with a few other tenants. The nights I was caretaking, I hung out in the first floor office, writing.

At 10 pm, I grabbed the flashlight and ring of keys and did rounds, through each floor, the empty school hallways, the stairwells, and past the gardens in the back. I memorized light switches and locks, clicking them off and locking them up. I wore sneakers because shoes clicking down the cavernous hallways screamed HORROR MOVIE OPENING, CUE VICTIM. I avoided looking in the bathroom mirrors and tried to forget every scene from The Shining. I imagined what stories could be told about the building and the people who lived there but I never did meet a ghost who came back to tell me that story. Strangely, after all that avoidance on my part, I'm disappointed.

This morning Joanna told me that the people who lived in their house before she and Jon felt a presence in what is now Alfie's room. They felt it was happy. "That's fine," I said, "As long as it's just impersonating you two, but if it starts showing up in a period costume-"

"With a severed head under its arm." Jon added.

"Yeah," I said. "I am NOT going to be happy."


this is us being in our thirties

Earlier in the day, I was so exhausted.

By the time Cathy and I crawled in bed, however, I'd turned giddy because I was going back to London and Berlin soon, because Cathy has a feather bed mattress AND memory foam (Note to self: !!!) and because we were having such a good time talking.

"I was so tired," I said, "And now I can't sleep. I'm too excited about talking!"

"I know," she said, "this is what's called pillow talk."

"Totally," I agreed.

She asked me if I wanted a sleeping pill to try to calm down. We went back and forth on whether to take a sleeping pill or not and finally agreed to. She got the pills from the bathroom and I noticed her hair as she came back in the bedroom.

When we met up that afternoon her hair was pulled back with little clips and looked elegant and upswept, classic. She took the clips out later and the pieces fell forward into a short boy cut. Now it was all smooth and puffy and she'd managed to morph into a middle-aged Montessori teacher AKA a lesbian and/or ex-nun.

She handed me a pill and glass of water and got back under the covers and I said, "Dude, look at us."

We both had on glasses and had moisturized and smeared Vaseline on our lips and held books in our hands which we weren't reading due to our pillow talk.

"We are so in our thirties right now," Cathy said.

People really are astronauts

This is my new financial planner, Nicole, and her penguin-shaped humidifier.

Nicole is very nice and met with me when I was on my way to JFK airport - to blow lots of money, irony! - and accepted chocolate-covered almonds as payment. She is also friends with Cathy and related to an astronaut who is currently in space.

When Cathy mentioned that Nicole's family member, Garrett, is an astronaut and had just blasted off on an expedition to the International Space Station, I was floored.

Because that means that PEOPLE REALLY ARE ASTRONAUTS.

Somehow, I'd never made that connection before and was honestly hard for me to believe.

To me, space seems like something in the news and in the movies, something way larger than life, definitely not real. Not the kind of job that when someone asks what you do, you can say, "I'm an astronaut," and not be lying.

Cathy told me that Garrett can send and receive emails from space, uploaded by NASA, and we wondered if NASA would approve of our imaginary email with questions for Garrett:

a) Do you see aliens?

b) How do you keep the space station from floating away?

c) What does space smell like?

We talked about space more, about gravity, and what they do with trash in space, and what it would feel like to drift around the outside of a spaceship and look over your shoulder and see EARTH?

And I kept cutting her off and grabbing my head and going, "Oh my god, hold on, I'm sorry, but I can't get over this. OUTER SPACE..."

Is it just me or what?

Alfie and I make it to space

Waking up in New York


How to get through a day without your heart breaking

I smelled it on the downtown A train at 175th street. Neither super strong nor overwhelming, this shit scent was stale. I looked more closely at the orange plastic seat beneath me but it was clean. Have I tracked some stranger's subway shit down to SoHo and trailed it around on my clothes? I have a thing about shitspecks already: I'm acutely aware of avoiding them.

I think about Cathy coming home from work, holding up her hands while walking in her apartment, "Subway hands!" and washing them immediately. Right up until the moment that last summer's colonic at The Tummy Temple felt wonderfully therapeutic, I was alternately traumatized and slaphappy: I hate shit! I'm about get real up in my own shit business! This is so funny! And revolting! Unless it's coming out of a dog or baby's butt, and even then, I'm just not good with it.

I look to the right of my subway seat and see the man. He's hunched over and his head bobs up and down. His white gym shoes are dirty and unlaced, his clothing ground in with who knows what. His eyes open briefly, we look at each other and his head falls over again. I stare into my lap. Everyone who gets in the car of our train stops and does the same shit check that I did. Most of them keep moving and sit elsewhere. A few of them look at the man with anger and I suddenly want, terribly, to cry over how everyone's avoiding him. I don't want to smell shit any more than the next train passenger but more than that, I'm awash in the sadness of the scene. It would be nice If I could get through a day without losing my composure over someone else's shit. It's not always this literal.


I'll be walking down the street, my mind in my music or elsewhere, when I notice people begging for money, or disabled, or so overweight that they can hardly move. I'll see old people, especially old men moving slowly, alone, and they look vulnerable to me, with sad and vacant eyes. Sometimes it's the hopeful, childlike, innocent looks that get me, the shy hello I don't expect. Tears explode in my eyes and if I don't stare into the sky and work to distract myself they'll be down my face. Sometimes I cry in public and I'm always embarrassed.

Another time on the train an old dude passed out and kept slumping into my shoulder, asleep. I was reading a book in my right hand and with my left I made a fist across my body and held up his weight. An older Latina woman across from me motioned for me to come sit by her and I smiled and said it was okay. The train was packed and I thought he'd just fall into someone else. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered with the compromise I cut with my fist and just let him sleep.


I can be hyper-aware of personal space but sometimes it doesn't matter at all. I also struggle with emotional space. I jump, uninvited, into others people's positions, or at least how I imagine their life based on what I see for a few seconds, and my empathy spins out of control. I want to stop and lean my head against a wall or hang it in my lap and sob, dig something hard into my palm enough to hurt so that I don't think about that other kind of pain, the kind that's harder to pinpoint. I don't know why I react so strongly, or if I should.

The thing is, I don't remember being like this when I actually worked with the homeless or mentally ill. When I was a counselor at a camp for disabled adults, I didn't wake up everyday thinking BOO HOO, EVERYONE IS RETARDED. When I was involved daily with issues of housing and poverty and addiction, I wasn't a baby about it. It just felt like if you care, you do something about it and that was just kind of, you know, life. Now I'm all weepy.


Family friends ask me when I visit home what I'm doing with myself.

"It's always something!" they say.

I was sitting on a pew at my grandmother's funeral when a woman I've known my whole life asked me the question above. I told her I'm an assistant tour manager on the Spice Girls tour and she cracked up in my face.

"It's just so out of character!" She laughed.

And it is out of character if you compare Ritz-Carlton rooms and first class plane seats to the halfway houses and abandoned buildings I was acquainted with before. There is, however, more than one side to my character, as there is to everyone's, but I guess we all get used to thinking of each other in certain ways. I'd like to think that I'm not a dick, or a snob, or haven't lost my social conscience now. I'd like to think I'm still being myself, just in a very different setting.

But I suspect that a part of me feels guilty, that even if I'm good to people and care about those around me, I'm not really helping anything be better anywhere. And that's what I always felt I'm supposed to do, who I am. This is what I thought on the A train this morning. Why do I want to sob? Why am I frowning at the floor, my heart breaking for the man who needs a bath? That's why. I'm a little removed from a part of myself, a little out of whack.

Is this recognition useful? Is this just some bleeding heart response to financial success? I don't feel bad about making money, I don't want to glorify poverty, and I can't stand it when people only do good out of guilt and then walk around brimming with self-satisfaction and false humility. Fuck that. Guilt is tricky. It can be a handy tool to figure yourself out. It can be weapon. You can feel it for what you've done or not done. Who you are, or aren't.


Back of the truck in Austin

At the end of the week in Austin, Jon, Maya, Alex, and the dog, Porch, drove Sunny and I to the airport in the back of their pickup.



4A is my seat for the next three hours and forty-three minutes. I fold myself in, next to the window.

It’s daytime when the plane leaves Austin but night creeps in, quietly, and soon I’ll be staring through the black oval of the window at thin air, night clouds, electric orange grids, way below, on the ground.

I have 53 New Order songs repeating on my iPod and they loop through my ears while my mind wanders. I think about people, some I’ve just met and some I’ve known forever. People I fly towards and people I fly away from and people I hope to see again. The ones I know inside out and the ones I hardly know but am curious about.

The woman in 4C has a brassy voice. Long Island. She makes a phone call while we’re still on the runway. "It’s an all-woman crew. Flight attendants, pilots, everyone. I checked." She pauses and listens. "Well, they got the plane here. Okay, gotta go."

Her daughter laughs, "You're sexist."

The woman is pretty and thin with long light brown hair and her teenage daughter has brunette hair grown out to her waist. Their features are delicate and tanned and I imagine they buy hundred-dollar moisturizer and raise horses and go sailing and have a second house in the Hamptons.

The woman can’t get the television in her seat to work and is all, "Oh NO, I CANNOT sit here," and her daughter is rolling her eyes. The woman grabs the flight attendant who says she may need to move to another seat to watch television.

The woman eyes the empty seat between us, on my side of the aisle, and I hang my elbow over the armrest and stretch my legs out.

Honey, you don’t want to sit with me. I feel meditative but I'll turn bitchy because your voice makes me want to rip my ears off my head and shove them in your mouth. I pull the empty seat’s tray out and order wine, taking up space. She leaves me alone.

Jimmy's white couch

Part of what makes me so insanely fun to hang out with is the way I fall asleep right in the middle of when you're talking to me. Here are Jon and Maya looking at Sunny like, "Guess it's up to you to be hospitable cause Jess just peaced out on us."

When Sunny and I unlocked the door to Jimmy's apartment a few days before, both of us said, "HELLO, white couch...".

We knew from previous experience how hard it is to tear ourselves off of it. When approaching the white couch you know that in a few minutes you will be a) Slouched if not fully prone and possibly drooling and b) Losing major time. Imagine the hour and minute hands flying around a clock face in the old movies.

Flash forward. Your plans for the afternoon to ride the 'Dillo, the free trolley around the city, go to a gallery, and see live music in a club approximately 100 yards away, have been usurped. And suddenly the sun is setting, the grackles are chirping, and it's all about sipping tequila on ice and passing out pillows.

Special thanks to Mister Jimmy Ace.


Spring Break '08

What I like about my work and its irregular schedule is the time between jobs. Being able to wake up with old friends and have lots of time to walk and explore and find graffiti and order mimosas with lunch and make fun of each other. Sunny likes it when I make fun of her skinny white legs and no-socks.


New AAA member

Sunday afternoon I drove south on I-71 from Columbus to Cincinnati, feeling good and enjoying the road trip, highway driving being the only kind I truly like. It was my birthday and I was headed to the Moody house to eat cake. I'd talked to Kate on the phone earlier and she said, "Jeez, when I was your age Emma was a year old, does that make you feel old?"

I thought about it. No, it doesn't. Maybe the fact that I babysat Emma when she was six weeks old and is now IN COLLEGE makes me feel a tiny bit elderly, but whatever.

I was so absorbed by the highway that I caught myself singing along to pretty much whatever came on the radio, including but not limited to Jump (For My Love) by the Pointer Sisters. Right in the middle of Jump, you know these arms can feel you up the car started shaking. For a minute I thought it was a low-flying plane, a cropduster. I was surrounded by fields after all. I turned down the Pointer Sisters and realized it was definitely the car. I had a flat.

The last time I got a flat tire was in 1994, driving with Gail in Minneapolis. We drove very slowly to Tires-4-Less where someone else changed it. I changed a flat once in 2001 in Trek America training. And that right there is the entirety of my experience. So I called my mom. Mom gave me her AAA membership number but they wouldn't help me since I'm not a member myself. I got out my debit card and became a member on the side of the road. Okay, now come rescue me.

"Where are you?" Amanda, the AAA rep, asked. Great question, Amanda. In some fields.

"What's the last sign you saw?" she wondered. I don't know. Mile markers? Exit numbers? Nope. I was jamming, people. To the Pointer Sisters. I was busy.

"What can you see?" Amanda asked. Um, some grass, possibly corn, a barn. A green sign way off in the distance.

"Should I just walk down and read the sign for you?" I asked.

"No!" She screeched.

Amanda was very safety-conscious. When I first called, she answered the phone, "Thank you for calling AAA. Are you in a safe location?" She made sure I had the doors locked and advised me to only crack the window if anyone approached me. To "help" AKA kill me.

So not only do I feel dumb because I don't know how to change a tire and can't tell anyone where I am but I'm on the verge of being murdered AND I might wet myself. I look at the 24-oz Speedway coffee cup I just drained. I think about all the water I drank that morning in efforts to digest the Ohio food I'd been eating with Bova for the last day: fried sauerkraut balls, caramelized bacon, pigs in a blanket. I have to go.

I reflect on the time five years ago that I hitchhiked on a Mexican highway and jumped in a pickup bed of two refrigerator repairmen who I met killing a poisonous snake on the side of the road. With a machete. Real machete-wielding Mexican? Pleased to meet ya. Imaginary Ohio serial killer? Fear!

Amanda tries to locate me based on when I left Columbus but tow trucks in two counties can't find me. I field birthday calls and calls from the highway patrol dispatch but it's been almost three hours and I'm seriously considering unloading 24 ounces of urine in my Speedway cup when a State Trooper pulls up behind me, lights on.

He sidles up to my door, spits a nice long brown stream of chewing tobacco on the pavement, and asks me if I need a tire changed. "Yes, and a jump, please, because I left the accidentally lights on and the battery is dead." Aren't I awesome?

I'm not really good at the damsel in distress thing. But I want to be better at asking for, and receiving, help. I don't want to seem as stupid as I feel. I want my hero to like me and I, in turn, will overlook the fact that he just pulled a whole container of chew out of his sock and keeps squirting brown juice everywhere. But I'm pretty sure I've already blown it so I just concentrate on not having an accident in my pants and I rock back and forth on my heels and breathe evenly and sing happy birthday to myself in my head.


I don't have a wandering eye

Mary Beth sent a photo of me holding the mug we won at the pub quiz and I noticed that my eyes are MAYBE going in different directions. This made me think of someone who told me, like three times, that I have a WANDERING EYE.

"No. I don't," I replied.

He persisted, "Yes, one goes over there."

I just kind of felt that it would be SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE NOTICED. And if for some reason my eyes were too googly to focus in the mirror, I'd think someone would have told me by now.

"Dude," I thought, "I've known you for what, ten minutes? And I've been alive for 32-and-a-half years? And none of my friends, none of family, have mentioned to me that one of my eyes is fucked? That's unlikely."

THEN I see the photo of me and the mug and it's worrying. What if eyes start wandering in adulthood? What if my little bar trick of crossing one eye and staring straight out with the other one is sticking? What if my face just LIKES IT THAT WAY?

I was sitting in the coffeeshop with these questions and I thought to capture my maybe-condition with the nifty Photo Booth program on my laptop. I thought I was being discreet but apparently was more absorbed by my task that I realized because I totally did not hear a man talking to me, asking if he could borrow my menu.

He, however, got a nice view of me staring long and hard into space and then me, startled, whipping my head around to talk and accidentally taking a photo at the same time. Which was not at all embarrassing.

Champion of metric estimation

The thought just occurred to me that if I were ever in a situation where we had to pick a team for a pub quiz and I was staring at the floor, filling with dread because I KNEW I'd be picked last like in elementary school since the only way I can hit a volleyball is at top speed straight up to the gymnasium ceiling? Except now it's a pub quiz, not volleyball, so I have some equally hyper signature trait, like screaming E=MC2! every time a question is announced?

I would make sure I'm on a team with Andrew Sharp. You know, to balance things out.

I was drinking whiskey with Andrew after a Spice Girls show in January when he revealed that he is a former two-time champion of METRIC ESTIMATION.

I want to say that he was a world champion but I suspect that's inaccurate; I'm pretty sure it was a state-wide high school event that DID have "Olympics" attached to the title: Math Olympics, Science Olympics, Geek Olympics, something like that.

I scrawled in jagged, drunken whiskey handwriting in my notebook Metric Estimation! so that I wouldn't forget and then made sure the other promoters in the room heard the news, "Did you guys catch that?"

The promoters, all English, all cocked their eyebrows and answered drily, "Why are we not surpriiised?"

Andrew went on to explain another "Olympic event" that his team won: dropping an egg from however high and keeping it from breaking. Sounds straightforward, right? Wrong. The other teams did typical shit like dropped it on foam (boring!) but Andrew's team layered sheets of saran wrap with peanut butter, wowing judges and maybe spectators, too, if there were any. Anyway. I'm gonna go google metric estimation now.


The pub quiz

Earlier this week Mary Beth invited me to a bar for dinner and a pub quiz. I was up for it but made sure to throw in a "Just so you know, I'm not very good at quizzes," since I'm still nursing a phobic fear of competitive games.

It seems that for all the time that I've spent in the world, I have absorbed very little. Sometimes I think highly of my brain and sometimes I'm convinced that it's made of cheesecloth and sea foam.

The 70's are excusable as I was too young to remember shit. The 80's? Too busy playing soccer and brushing My Little Pony's mane to pay attention. Plus, my parents' limits on television-watching crippled my references there. But at least I got to breathe all that FRESH AIR.

The 90's? I guess I have to start taking responsibility. I listened to Bob Marley, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and anyone from South Africa. I LOVED South Africa in the 90's. Once my mom grounded me by not letting me go hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak, a crushing blow at the time.

Besides that, don't bother asking. I rode my bicycle a lot and read about things that don't come up a lot on pub quizzes: Health care reform, herbs, chinese medicine, history of science, feminist theory. I was a hoot. I'm probably now at the apex of my general knowledge abilities and still only earning a C-. But when Mary Beth said we'd be playing with Jeremy and Matthew, I thought OH HEY NOW, bonus round on us, they're LIBRARIANS.

Here are the librarians, discussing the nuances of Black Sabbath lyrics. Or maybe the speed at which light travels. We were only off by about a million on that one.

The librarians are the first to point out that librarians are actually better at knowing how to FIND answers rather than just knowing them offhand. Not that they didn't do well or at least better than me, considering the only questions I scored for the team were on the Blarney Stone and Britney Spears. Someone sign me me up for Mensa, quick. I am a mental giant.

Whatever. Pub quizzes, like pool, are just a way to make drinking more interesting. You don't need to take the knowledge hype to the next level, unless you're Matthew.

Last night I was at Mary Beth and Jeremy's house and we got a text from Matthew, who was at a SPELLING BEE. Which, let's face it, rules. We briefly considered crashing the bee but Jeremy reminded us of the $30 entry fee just to watch. And while the fee included "heavy" appetizers, intriguing in and of itself, we were miserly and opted to send Matthew texts while watching America's Next Top Model.

This is a photo from last year's spelling bee, where the competitors then, as now, raised money for a Northern Kentucky literacy program. Isn't that nice? Probably a lot nicer than drinking Bud Light and laughing at aspiring supermodels who look like they're going to vomit on the runway.


I see you've been condoled

This right here is the best dessert in Kentucky: port wine and mint chocolate chip tofutti cuties.

Especially when you're with your cousins, watching Bring It On: All or Nothing and shrieking because you know someone in the movie and can text him your favorite lines while you're watching.

(I see you've BEEN condoled...)



LA, I might be bitter but there are things I like about you

1. Masa of Echo Park. Oh my word. If you are in Los Angeles and you aren't headed towards Masa right now, what is your deal?

1800 W. Sunset Blvd, corner of Lemoyne. I didn't know about it until now, mainly because I'd never figured out exactly where Echo Park is, but as soon as I knew I went back four times that week: for coffee, pints of beer, and two separate dinners with people involving avocado melts on veggie burgers, which you can get anywhere in LA but NOT USUALLY accompanied by coziness and unflaggingly nice people devoid of any pretension whatsoever.

This may be because two of the owners are from Chicago and Tennessee. Ooh, look how that bitterness sneaks in even when I'm trying to be nice.

2. LA Metro AKA the bus. This is a shout out to the 92, the 704, and the 780. You got me where I needed to go much quicker than people would have me believe and I didn't need to repeat in monotone, 'Go, asshole,' the way I do when I'm driving.

Nope, I just plunked five quarters in the meter, sat back, and watched the sites outside - palm trees, losers in cars - and in - women plucking their eyebrows and one dude in the back who took off half of his clothes and changed them deftly, yet super slow and casual-like, which made me smile.

3. There is a blizzard in Ohio right now. There wasn't a blizzard in LA.

4. The guy at the Griffith Station post office in Atwater Village. He was five people in front of me and I noticed that he wore army pants and a wallet chain but don't remember his face. By the time I got to the window, he was gone but came back in from the parking lot to gave me a CD, 'This is for you.' I said thanks, surprised, and he left. Nice.

5. Ricardo, my favorite valet at my favorite hotel. I stopped by to say hi and give him a hug. I asked if his dog had fallen in the pool lately and he said no, but that dog did just have a cast taken off. He said to please say hi to my mom for him.

6. Everyone at Zulu Tattoo but especially Lantz because he made something that was alright into something great, which is fantastic since I'll be looking at it for the next 30ish years.

The whole Zulu vibe is m-e-l-l-o-w, like going to a salon where everyone just wants you to feel better when you leave than when you came in and not like some you-WISH-you-were-as-hardcore-as-me joint. During the less painful part of the tattoo, when I could converse and not just curl my toes and bear down, Lantz and I realized that he'd done work on the arms of someone I know, someone whose arms I'd checked out before.

When he was finished with my stomach, a mixture of daze and euphoria set in. We stepped outside to take a photo and I registered that my jeans were unbuttoned, unzipped, and partly pulled down for the cars on Crescent Heights that were stopping at the light. 'Hello,' I said and yanked them up. It may be Hollywood but I'm not quite as into front-flashing as some of the chicks around here.

it'll be funnier later

Is it mean to send a friend who just had back surgery a tube of tennis balls with the note - for playing, if you get better, for your walker, if you don't - ?

Yeah, we thought so, too.

And stuck to books and cookies.

Tube tops and blizzards

I just got back from LA and was going to write about my time there. Instead I plunged into paralysis immediately upon returning to Ohio, due to the blizzard. IT'S MARCH.

My immediate reaction - IT'S NOT FAIR! - is immature and sniveling and I fought it since I'm not in kindergarten. But seriously, it's not fair. Like life, I know.

I returned earlier from LA in order to catch Jimmy and N.E.R.D. at Bogart's but the show was canceled and Jimmy's bus kept driving to St. Louis. This was right around when I crawled underneath five blankets, read an extraordinary book, Shantaram, (Thanks, Lindsay) and watched five episodes of The Office.

This isn't all that bad, I'm just out of synch.

Last week I wore combat boots to the beach and got sand in all the wrong places because my California clothes still in storage. I got tattooed at Zulu Tattoo to cover up, I mean enhance, what the guy in New York did to my stomach and then apologized to Sunny.

I wouldn't be able to swim or get in the water during our upcoming Austin spring break. I promised to dangle my feet in the pool and run alongside the river while she tubed. As for the sun, I'd have to rig the bikini and cover my stomach.

"You need a tankini," she said.

"Totally," I agreed.

I looked around unsuccessfully for a tankini but didn't have much luck. I sent Sunny a text: Tube tops are the answer. And thus, with a suitcase full of tube tops, I flew straight into Cincinnati's snow emergency.

Today, day two of the snow emergency, I threw off the five blankets and decided to get out of the basement. I found the knee-high woolly boots I'd left in the closet in January, the winter coat with fur-lined hood, and plunged into the drifts. With Sigur Ros in my ears, the walk to Hyde Park square felt vaguely Icelandic and ethereal. Definitely less suburban than usual.



Top Gun

A few days ago Matt and I gave each other a high five and brought it all the way around for a slap at the bottom of the circle.

Matt pointed out that it was the same move from the beach volleyball scene in Top Gun when Maverick and Goose are totally kicking ass against Val Kilmer which naturally made us both start singing.

"Highway to the danger zone...Gonna take a riiiide into the danger zone...!"

Kenny Loggins, thank you so much. Twenty years ago, I was all into Top Gun. The bomber jackets, Tom Cruise before he was crazy, and the movie's sexual tension which I innocently thought was between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis and which I now realize was between ALL THE DUDES IN THE MOVIE.

It was leap year, February 29. Matt and I wondered what we should do on the day that didn't usually happen, what would we usually not do?

Rent Top Gun, obviously.

All we needed were aviator glasses and cutoffs. At least this was what we thought before we actually re-watched the volleyball scene and realized the characters didn't cut their pants off, that they sweated into their jeans, befitting the rest of the film, which is


Every other shot featured some hot shiny face, dripping through more painful dialogue.

And yeah, I know I was still a kid in 1986, desperately wanting to believe that adults could figure out how to face their fears/rattle their family skeletons while successfully charming the pants off their sexy boss AND exchanging extremely homoerotic banter with their peers in an hour and a half but seriously.

I didn't realize, even a little bit, how bad Top Gun is?

Iceman/Val Kilmer: "I don't like you because you're dangerous."

Maverick/Tom Cruise: "That's right! Ice...man. I am dangerous"

Iceman/Val Kilmer: (SMILES AND TAKES A BIG BITE OUT OF THE AIR, which is really, really uncomfortable to watch)

"Rewind! Rewind!" we yell.

HOPE 2008