The Princess Is Dead. Long Live The Princess.


Mine is but one voice in the cacophonous din of nerds expressing what it means to lose Carrie Fisher right now.  Likely I will have nothing new to contribute here, nothing of substance, nothing that won’t have been said more eloquently.

In life, Carrie Fisher had pretty much heard it all anyway (she says as much in her last memoir, The Princess Diarist).  She knew that she had brought to life a key character in what has become, for many, a personal mythos.  She knew she was our Princess, our childhood hero, our (for some, anyway) source of material by which to polish Vader’s helmet, so to speak.  She knew all this.

She probably even knew what she meant to those of us who face every day living in an Ascent Series Vitamix™ of a brain, while being recovering addicts on top of that.  She may have known that we could look to her, think “CARRIE FISHER GETS SHIT DONE,” and live accordingly.

I certainly hope she knew that.

Years ago, she came to the theatre where I work to perform Wishful Drinking.  I would stand in the back and watch her and cry.  Because I was so close to a childhood idol, and because she was everything I could maybe hope to aspire to (I mean, minus the superstar parents, the starring roles, and the marriage to Paul Simon).  I wanted not only to accept the neurochemical hand I’d been dealt, but play it to my advantage.  In watching Carrie Fisher, I felt it could be done, with dignity and humor.

That’s what she meant to me.  What she still means to me.  It’s plenty.

Godspeed, Ms. Fisher.  May the Force be with you and all that.


Why I Need Horror More Than Ever.


Last night, as the hour of the first debate drew nigh, I found myself torn.  As someone raised in a family with very strong political opinions, it’s always in my best interest to stay informed.  As someone raised by a mother for whom horror movies were required viewing, I like being scared.  In this, the first of three debates before Election Day, I had the opportunity to be informed AND scared.  But I wasn’t sure if I could deal with this particular kind of scare.  Was it willfully ignorant to sit it out and watch “Re-Animator” instead?

Ultimately, I went for the relative comfort of gore over the risk of elevating my blood pressure by watching the debate.  The personal is political and all that.  I did wind up watching the last 20 minutes or so, and that was enough to give me nightmares.  I’m serious.  I should have stuck with the horror movies.

I honestly don’t think there’s been an election season as frightening as this one.  I don’t know if I was even a fraction as horrified by McCain/Palin as I am right now.  You think there can’t possibly be as stupefyingly preposterous a ticket as the last one, only to be proven horribly wrong.

Anyone who knows me knows who I’m absolutely NOT voting for.  I debated whether or not to even bring it up in this piece.  But I’ll say it, because I may as well:  Trump is terrifying.  Trump is like Leatherface, Jason Vorhees, and Chucky all at once, with a dash of Tall Man from “Phantasm” for bad measure.  I won’t even compare him to Pinhead.  That’s an insult to Pinhead.


I’m not the kind of horror fan who spends a great deal of time thinking about the psychology of the canon’s chief monsters.  Certainly monsters can represent the things we loathe and fear within ourselves.  And there’s no doubt that isolation, in most cases, creates the monster (see: Grendel, or Frankenstein’s monster).  Sometimes I certainly do find myself rooting for the monster, especially when its “victims” are deliberately unsympathetic (and they’re always the first to go).  I can, and will, wax academic about my preferred genre, but this is when I feel compelled to defend myself and my creepy ways.  Mostly I’m in it for the screams, really.


But I can’t help but think that this election season is a monster of our own making, fueled by isolation, AND fear, AND loathing.  Unlike Grendel, or Frankenstein’s monster, this isn’t something that is trying to communicate or connect before the fury fueled by constant misunderstanding wipes away all hope of redemption.  This is something that rages, flails, and smirks with a Mephistophelean leer that says: “You’re fucked.”

The scares we want onscreen tend to dovetail with the fears we have as a society.  A couple of months ago, I had a nice chat with Judith O’Dea (from the original “Night Of The Living Dead”) about how the surge in zombie narratives tends to coincide with periods of political unrest.  What does a zombie represent more than the fear of lack of control?  You can’t even be dead without something forcing you to continue to lurch in a mindless herd.

I deeply enjoy cringing and not quite being able to look away from something that’s pulsating, glistening with viscous matter, dragging its entrails, or any combination thereof.  There’s a kind of low comedy to hyper-splatter that keeps one at a reasonable adrenaline level.  Horror allows for the thrill of a “fight or flight” response without having to, you know, actually outrun a guy in a flesh mask wielding a chainsaw.  It’s better than therapy, sometimes.  A vacation into the implausible (although right now it’s also a vacation FROM the implausible).

And so it stands to reason that this is, for me, an escape from the boundless fuckery that is currently, unsuccessfully, masquerading as the 2016 presidential campaign.  I would sooner sit through all four of the “Subspecies” movies again than navigate social media right now.  And Radu has better hair than Trump.


The Stinky Entry


Once upon a time, I wore really cheap perfume.

I’m not proud of this, except sometimes I am.

As a little girl, I wore the Avon stuff my mom would get for me and my sister.  If I concentrate, I can bring up olfactory memories of barely-floral talcum powder, greasy “solid” perfume that came in novelty pins and smelled like birthday candles, and an eu de toilette that gave off a cheap shampoo scent and came in a hippo-shaped bottle.  Certainly nothing particularly sophisticated.

I’d visit my grandparents’ house in Helena, MT many summers.  My grandparents had separate bathrooms, which was absolutely astounding to me (until we became “two-toilet Irish” in 1980 or so, the five of us shared one bathroom).  My grandfather’s bathroom was austere, spare, and done up in shades of tan and brown.  There was a shower stall, and soap-on-a-rope that I seem to remember smelled like saddle leather.  It was a cowboy bathroom.  You went in, did what you had to do, and left.

But my grandmother’s bathroom was like visiting an English garden.  Everything was roses, right down to the crystal bowl of miniature rose-shaped “guest soaps” on the toilet tank.  It was more or less understood that you were not to actually use those.  She had a pink padded toilet seat, which sank softly and gratifyingly as you lowered yourself onto it.  And on the sink vanity was a Jean Naté gift set.

jean nate
My grandmother’s bathroom represented what it was to be a lady.  In fact, “Lady” was my grandfather’s nickname for her.  And the idea of taking a bath, splashing Jean Naté all over myself, THEN dusting my bod with the powder puff seemed like the height of ladylike sophistication.

When I was 13 I went out and bought a Jean Nate gift set of my very own, which I placed on my dresser, after shoving aside my Star Wars action figures and dirty dishes that I’d neglected to bring to the kitchen.  If I ignored the mess and focused on the cheery yellow powder puff container, I could almost believe I was on my way to elegance.

I figured out the hard way that I wasn’t supposed to smell like Jean Naté.  A girl in my 8th Grade English class wrinkled her nose and informed me that I smelled “like old lady.”  Apparently I was supposed to smell like “innocence,” in the form of Love’s Baby Soft, which gave off a bouquet of baby oil and deodorant tampons.  But every girl in my class had a little bottle in her Jordache purse.  I didn’t get it.  I wanted to bypass “innocence” and go straight into smelling like the type of person who had a padded toilet seat and guest soaps for decorative purposes only.


In high school, as has been said here before, my scent of choice was Giorgio.  Only I couldn’t afford Giorgio, so I went with Primo!, and walked around in a dizzying, metallic cloud of this shit until I was a senior, when I discovered the little roller ball vials of essential oils in the same stores where you could buy Indian print skirts 3 for $20.  In tandem with the clove cigarettes I learned I was supposed to be smoking, I then spent several years smelling like a spice rack.  With a base note of weed.

As a young adult entering the work force, I had two flimsy “suits” I probably bought at Express, and thought I was being extra fancy by “scent layering” with products purchased at Bath & Body Works (shower gel, lotion, and body spray).  So I basically walked around smelling like the syrup from a can of fruit salad.

Then there was the sad, sorry period towards the end of my drinking where I just smelled like despair.

In my thirties, I got serious about my scent.  It’s been that way ever since.  I have a tray of perfumes sitting on my bona fide dresser, where I also keep my cosmetics and accessories.  I switch them in and out by season.  When I shift them over to dust the top of the dresser, they make a deeply satisfying tinkling sound, like I am a possessor of delicate things.  Delicate, ladylike things.

You shouldn’t gauge where you are in this life based on THINGS, I know.  But I feel like I struggled long and hard to smell as good as I do.

Thank you for a funky time…


So, yeah. Prince died.

I was getting a pedicure when I started seeing the initial news on Twitter.  I tweeted something to the effect of “This better not be true.”  I mean – Bowie, then Patty Duke, and now Prince?  Are all the awesome people just going to vacate the premises this year?

So while the nail technician was scrubbing away at my cloven hooves (mind – this was the first pedi I’d gotten since last September) with the cheese grater thing, and I’m trying to control the impulse to kick as she’s doing so, I’m following along.

Someone died at Paisley Park.

It’s probably Prince, but it might not be.

Didn’t they have to land his plane somewhere in Illinois a few days ago?

We still don’t know if it’s Prince.

Well, yeah, it’s Prince.

I’ll tell you – this one hurt.  They all hurt in some way.  But some of them will hit you in a deep place you’ve buried under time and experience and responsibilities.  I was 13 when I became aware of Prince.  And 13 is a wide open wound, it is.


Me at 13. Dig if you will the collar.

I was fortunate in that as terrible as that age was for me in myriad ways, the artists I was exposed to were kind of strange angels for me, promising – in their appearance and output – a future where I might be able to express myself without fear of being bullied into silence, which had been my experience up to that point.  They represented a riot of color and sound and brazenness that I wanted so desperately for myself.  David Bowie.  Annie Lennox.  Boy George.  Cyndi Lauper.  And Prince.


Oh, boy.  Prince.  My prior musical crushes inspired innocuous daydreams of holding hands and shy glances, of someone seeing in me what I couldn’t see in myself.  But Prince inspired…well…stirrings.  He was campy, yes, but utterly filthy.  This was pure sex wrapped in a purple doily.  My God.

More importantly, though, Prince had women on the stage with him.  And they weren’t idly writhing around like oiled up, glistening props.  Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman were full participants in the sound, and I understood implicitly that there was respectful collaboration going on there.  I soon wound up having more of a crush on Wendy than on Prince himself.  And THAT was something that I didn’t quite know how to unpack at that age.


Wendy Melvoin.  Have mercy.

I listened to “1999” and “Purple Rain” forwards and backwards (and in the case of the latter, I listened to it quite literally backwards, manually spinning the record counter-clockwise to decipher the message at the end of “Darling Nikki.” It’s: “Hello, how are you?  I’m fine, because I know that the Lord is coming soon.  Coming, coming soon.”  In case anyone was wondering.).

The whole thing was mindblowing.  It made me think differently about music, musicianship, performance, and appearance.  And how can I get into how it made me think about gender and sexuality?  In hindsight, here was pure theatre.  Every song a story, set to music more complicated and dense than anything I’d heard before.  It made me appreciate production.  That drum sound!  The hollow popping peppered throughout his stuff in the 80s. That’s the Linn LM-1.  I became more interested in what instruments could do, and how an artist can create sounds that are unmistakably their own.  That’s only a fraction of his legacy.

I wrote about meeting Peter Murphy just days before finding out that Prince was gone.  In the previous entry, I mentioned how Bowie’s passing influenced my decision to spend the extra for the personal contact with an artist I admired.  I don’t know that I was more than a tweedy blip on Murphy’s radar, but I can say I met him.  I can say I looked him in the eye, hugged him, and THANKED him.  I wrote that I should not ignore opportunities like that if I have the means to make them happen.  I don’t know that I ever would have met Prince, but now that’s simply not a possibility anymore.  All I can do is lay down my gratitude here, in words that are barely adequate.

Thank you for a funky time.

Drugstore (Makeup) Cowboy


Long time no write, wot.

I’ve been struggling with how to “re-enter” the world of blogging.  When I originally started this in ‘99 (on Diaryland – remember THAT, oldsters?), I wrote about pop culture, and my drunken escapades.  When I got sober, I wrote about pop culture, and my Adventures In Recovery.

Then I became a caregiver, and I feel like everything got swallowed up in that.  I felt like I had a responsibility to tell this story, not only to preserve my dwindling sanity, but to let people know what a fucking godawful shitsucking disease Alzheimer’s is.  Because until you’re actually living that reality, you really have no idea.  You have a vague understanding that it involves losing your memory (hence the “jokes” I invariably hear from people when they misplace their keys or something stupid like that), but you really can’t grasp the day-to-day horror of what it actually does to someone.

And so I wrote about caregiving and Alzheimer’s, and not a lot much else.  Now my mother-in-law is gone, and I feel stripped of my identity.  I feel like I’ve lost my voice.  I’m exhausted, even now.  Marcia passed away before my very eyes a little less than two months ago.  I hadn’t been an active, daily caregiver for her for a year-and-a-half before that.  But I’m still so tired.  I’m trying to undo the physical damage that the depression and anxiety wrought, and that’s been tough.  The TMJ symptoms have abated somewhat.  But I’m 45 now, and the weight I gained during those years just isn’t going to come off so easily.   A lot of mornings I look at myself in the mirror and the mental beatings immediately take place.  Things I wouldn’t say to my dearest friends and loved ones are perfectly okay to say to myself.

I’m trying.  I’m getting up at Stupid O’Clock some mornings and dragging my ass to the gym.  I’m wearing clothes that I enjoy.  And I’m buying crap tons of makeup.

This is my new thing.  Makeup.  I’ve always worn it before, but now I’m going out and buying brushes and palettes and primer like my face is a blank canvas, or a weather-worn beach house.  I’m mainly hitting places like Sephora, but sometimes I feel the siren call of the CVS.

I “came of age” in the Eighties.  I began trying to make informed beauty purchases (beyond the tinny/fruity fragrances that my mom would get me from Avon) in ’83 or so, when I was junior high.

Lipgloss was the gateway drug.  I was learning the very complicated rules for budding womanhood via studying the more popular girls in my class.  We all had to carry an itty-bitty Jordache purse.  I had this one:


These flimsy-ass things could accommodate a comb, a pen that wrote in at least three different colors, a pack of Now & Laters, and not much else.  But we crammed them full of crap anyway, to the point where the strap would fray and break.  And then you had to be the loser with a safety pin keeping the strap on.  I digress.  You of course also had to have lipgloss in this bag.  Maybe several.  Kissing Potion, which gobbed up in a shiny, sticky mess and made you look like you were fellating a jar of rubber cement.  Lip Smackers, which went on much smoother and tasted pretty good.  And if you were really fancy, you got that shit in the olde-tyme-looking tin.  I had them all, although I wouldn’t actually be kissed by a boy until after I graduated high school.  But HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL, OKAY.

I’d peruse the cosmetic aisle of the local drugstore, and purchase things that would make me a little more “adult,” when really what I looked like was a gobby-lipped clown with orange streaked hair (from all the Sun-In I’d pour on my head and then fry into infinity with the blowdryer).


And then, to top it all off, you had to drown yourself in perfume.  The obvious choice, for me, would have been Love’s Baby Soft (“because innocence is sexier than you think”) but I sought a more sophisticated signature scent.  Giorgio seemed fancy, but who could afford Giorgio on an infrequent babysitter’s salary?  PROBLEM SOLVED.

designer primo
THEY STILL MAKE THIS SHIT.  My perfume tastes are considerably more refined these days (although I will admit a fondness for J.Lo’s Glow), but every time I go to CVS now, I feel like I should revisit my young-teen-self and blast this all over my naked person, and go around smelling like an aluminum-tinged fruit salad.  SAVOR ME.

So what’s to be had at the drugstore these days?  The usual brands (Revlon still makes “Cherries In The Snow” and “Toast Of New York”), the usual cheap stuff.  But I must now sing the praises of the ELIXIR OF LIFE that is micellar water.


I want to have a bottle of this in every room in my house.  I want to always have it within arm’s reach.  It is that miraculous.  My makeup just SLIDES OFF MY FACE every night when I use this GIFT FROM THE GODS.  Bow to the micellar water.  ALL HAIL.

I’ve also become fascinated with the NYX brand, which is not quite Maybelline, but not quite Wet-n-Wild.  Their “Butter” lipstick is really good.

I’ve been getting an odd sense of comfort just wandering that cosmetic aisle these days.  It’s taking me back to a more innocent version of myself.  Am I “filling a hole” with stuff?  Possibly.  I won’t lie and say that buying a little tube of something doesn’t give me a little stab of pleasure.  Having something small and shiny that promises to make me prettier.  But it’s helping me somehow.  Having a morning ritual in which I’m highlighting and primping makes me feel a little more part of the world again.  I won’t apologize for that.

Like To Get To Know You Well (once I’m done sobbing)


Despite having an entire website devoted to my 13-year-old self, I am actually more emotionally connected to 15-year-old Lisa.

15. That’s such a tender age, too. At 15, I was still figuring out where I belonged. I’d found what would turn out to be my lifelong “tribe,” as it were, but I was standing right at the edge of that circle, not quite confident enough to fully participate. I was watching, and learning, and praying I wouldn’t be rejected.

My 15-year-old heart was evenly divided among three people. One was a boy in the aforementioned “tribe,” but I couldn’t muster the bravery to approach him and tell him I liked him “that way” (as it turned out, that boy would become my bandmate some 25 years later, but this was something I couldn’t know or even dare to imagine back then). Second was Neil Finn. And the third was Howard Jones.

He was ebullient. His music was ebullient. There was an impishness beneath that outstanding hairdo. I bought the “Things Can Only Get Better” 45 and played it incessantly. The sound of the needle hitting the record, the second or two of popping and crackling, and the staggered synth opening of the song was like being embraced in a warm, friendly hug. Every time. Of course I learned to love the rest of his work, but even to this day, hearing the beginning of that song takes me back to that hug.

So when I heard several weeks ago that he’d playing at a club that I myself had played a number of times, I was thrilled. Seeing him in such an intimate setting, and knowing that we’d both been on that VERY SAME STAGE? Plus the very real possibility of actually getting to TALK TO HIM and tell him alllllll of this? My God.

It was such a good show. Just him and a piano. His voice is just as sonorous and clear and heartbreaking as it was then. And he’s so funny and charming. I sat there and beamed. And in my purse was that very same 45 of “Things Can Only Get Better.” I was so looking forward to having him sign it and getting to express to him all the things his music has meant to me. It was going to be the perfect ending to a magical night. So I got in line after the performance and waited for him to emerge from backstage.

Now, understand – I’ve been a huge fan of this guy for 30 years. I spent a not-insignificant amount of time over those years rehearsing the witty banter I’d exchange with him when we finally got to meet. I would talk to him with the respect he deserved, yet with the confidence stemming from my own experience as a musician and writer. I would be reverent, yet poised. Giddy, yet clever.

Here is the transcript of the conversation that actually transpired between myself and Howard Jones:

Me: “Oh! I, um, brought a Sharpie because I didn’t know if you’d have one.”
HJ: “No, I’ve got this one; it’s very good.”
Me: “Ehhhh heh heh heh hehhh.”

12122884_10156276851565085_8306004423572650459_nI think I stammered some kind of thank you while my husband stepped in and attempted damage control by complimenting him on the show. I just stood there looking like one of those sucker fish, or like Winona Ryder in every scene where she’s supposed to be verklempt. You know what I’m talking about.

PicMonkey CollageAnyway – then I burst into tears. I slumped into a booth behind the merch table and bawled as one of our companions went to the bar and grabbed me a bunch of napkins for me to snuffle piteously into. Meanwhile, his manager kept looking over at me as if he wasn’t sure whether to comfort me or GET ME THE HELL AWAY FROM HOWARD.

indexIt was, bar none, my worst performance since the time I was in Annie Get Your Gun when I was like 18 and suddenly forgot the entire second verse of “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun” and just kind of stomped around onstage in my fake buckskins with a rictus of startled alarm glued to my face.

So, Howard, if for some reason you find yourself reading this – I’m really not (that) insane. Thank you for coming to Johnny D’s to play, and for signing my record, and posing for a picture with me. And for everything, really.


Be My (Facebook) Friend.


If you’re not following Mara Wilson on Twitter, you need to be. She gives really good tweet.

She’s a former child actress. I mean – she’s considerably more than that, but a lot of folks remember her as Matilda, or the heartbreaking wee bairn in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

(An aside – just now I tried to find a clip of her in that movie saying “Diarrhea FOREVER?!” If someone could loop that for me, I’d be ever so grateful. It fills me with a lambent happiness that probably makes everyone else question my sanity. Whatever.)

At any rate, yesterday Ms. Wilson tweeted this:


AMEN. I would amend that to include junior high and grade school.

I get friend requests from all sorts of people. People I played in bands with, or acted with back when I was acting, or worked with…and people with whom I went to school, at all levels. Sometimes I’m puzzled by these requests, particularly if I didn’t regularly hang out with the person making the request. But by and large, I’m pretty sanguine about accepting the requests. Why not. Certainly I deal with enough rejection issues myself to know what it’s like when someone declines MY request.

Here’s a story: Years ago, I was on Friendster. Remember Friendster, oldsters? Friendster was what us social networking types used before MySpace and Facebook. (Now that I think about it, I actually preferred it; it had a much cleaner interface than MySpace or Facebook. I digress.)

So – there I was on Friendster, being online friends with my real-life friends and thinking YAY TECHNOLOGY, when I decided to start poking around for people I used to know. Because we all do it, right? And I found this guy from my high school class. I was not real-life friends with this guy. I was not engaged with him in any capacity, really, except that I WANTED to be. He was smart and he was cute and he played in a band. But I knew in my soul of souls that I was just too much of an oddball and not smart enough to hang out with him. And by “not smart enough,” I mean that I lacked the drive and ambition to be in the Smart Kid Classes™. I’m pretty sure I could’ve held my own with him at lunch.

So there he was, on Friendster. And I decided to be bold and request his “friendship.” Because even though we didn’t hang out in high school, SURELY he would remember me. I was quite unforgettable, after all. Surely we would become INSTANT ONLINE PALS, trading barbs and witticisms, and he would see me as the delightful, quirky bon vivant that I was.

His response? “I’m sorry – who ARE you?”*

Devastation. Yes, Lord.

And so I am very careful about making these sorts of requests now. I learned a hard, yet necessary, lesson from the Would-be Friendster Friend: I am not nearly as memorable as I think I am. I’ll even take it a step further and posit that not everyone thinks I am as charming as I think I am. My rule of thumb is: if I am reasonably certain that I had positive interactions with someone from my past, I make the request. Otherwise, I am to sit on my hands and remember that I am not a special snowflake lady.

Now, on the FLIP side, if I get a friend request from a former classmate, I apply much the same thought process. Did I like this person? Was this person friendly? If I didn’t know this person particularly well, is it to my advantage to be “friends” with him or her now? Is this person interesting? In most cases, I accept these requests. If they turn out to be psycho hosebeasts I can always UN-friend.

I will say that I am at my MOST guarded when it comes to friend requests from people with whom I went to grade school (which was actually a private, K-8 Catholic school). It’s no secret to those who know me or read this blog regularly that I had a terrible go of it in that school, during the last two years or so that I was there. The bullying got so out of hand, and the school’s administration so apathetic regarding the bullying, that I left in the middle of 7th grade.

But I tend to accept friend requests from those classmates, unless they were perpetrators who flat-out don’t acknowledge what happened. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe this shows a lack of forgiveness on my part, or an inability to “get over it,” some thirty years after the fact. But ultimately my thinking is – if you can’t remember or acknowledge how bad this was, then we probably don’t need to be friends. Or “friends,” even.

It’s a complicated thing, being “friends” with someone. Maybe I should go live in a yurt.

* – Actually, I’m pretty sure he accepted my request once I explained, but probably thought I was absolutely batshit Fruit Loops crazy.  Also, I looked and he’s on Facebook, but I am totally not putting myself through that again.

A Mix Tape For Done Baby Lisa



On the left is me, early 1971.  I call her Done Baby Lisa.

I’d like to believe that my 6-month-old self was already DONE.  WITH ALL OF IT.  I have often joked that I came out of the womb old, cranky as hell, and wanting to watch “Wheel of Fortune” because I have HAD IT since before I could even express exactly what that is.  What it is that I’ve had it with.  Or something.

My mother gave me some backstory to the ’71 photo.  The photographer, in her words, was a “twit,” and I, even at a mere handful of months old, was “able to sense it.”  So even my own mother knows how DONE I’ve always been.

On the right is me, yesterday.  Done Baby Lisa and I are one.

Over the years, I’ve attempted to curb my, um, “DONE-ness,” as it were.  I have come to understand, from various workstudy students and interns with whom I’ve worked over the years, that I am kind of scary.  At first.  Then I’m just cranky-but-loveable.  But I really don’t like to think that people think I’m scary.  I’m really not.  I’m just….armored.

The problem is that I’m just not the type to write gratitude lists, meditate, do hot yoga, or tepid yoga, or any kind of yoga, really.  I hate most “folk” music, herbal tea, and those fakakta angel coins they keep in dishes near the cash registers at gift shops.  I live in a perpetual state of mild irritation.  Thankfully, my nearest and dearest find it amusing.

I have a bunch of playlists on my iPod, at the ready for when I need Done Baby Lisa to be a little less…done.  Sometimes New Wave/New Romantic does the trick.  Sometimes it’s darkwave, classic goth…maybe a little mid-to-late 80s industrial.

TANGENT:  A few years ago I got into an argument with Mark Hosler about a lot of the music that I hold near and dear.  He maintained that much of it just didn’t want to make him shake his ass.  In fact, he ended an email exchange with me thus:  “THE EIGHTIES HAD NO ASS.”  And I remember sitting there sputtering at my screen, so outraged that I didn’t even bother with a response, so I’m guessing that Mark still thinks his word is final.  It isn’t.  Because I was listening to “The Politics of Dancing” this morning, and damned if it didn’t make me shake my ass, albeit in a 40-something white woman way.  Ass, or lack thereof, is subjective.  You just don’t make sweeping generalizations about ass.  Don’t make me trot out Done Baby Lisa.

You know what I did not too long ago?  I made a MIX TAPE.  My friend Brendan was recovering from surgery, and – being the caretaker that I am and all – I thought it would be a nice, antiquated, quaint thing to do.  No matter if he doesn’t have anything to actually PLAY it on.  It is damn hard to find blank cassettes.  Actually – no: I was able to locate them fairly easily at CVS.  It’s just dealing with the LOOKS that people give you when you’re buying them.  When was the last time you made a mix tape?  If you’re like me – it was probably around the turn of the century.  I’d forgotten how much concentration goes into making one of these.  The timing of it all.  Wanting to fill all 90 minutes.  You got just a little bit of tape left, like maybe 2 minutes, so you throw this on there:

It’s an investment of time and energy and knowledge, making a mix tape.  It’s not the same as pulling together a playlist, where you’re not limited and you don’t necessarily have anyone but yourself in mind.  Tracks have to be carefully selected.  Because you can’t “shuffle” a mix tape.  It tells a story, it sets a mood.  It gives reason to hope, then dashes your expectations.

Is it meditation?  I guess it is.  I should make them more.  Make one for Done Baby Lisa.

This Week On Facebook


What’s happening This Week On Facebook? Or, rather, what are MY friends posting about? Let’s take a look:


Lots of people on a Fred Phelps Deathwatch. I’m not one of them. I have semi-personal reasons for not joyfully waiting for this man to die. In the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been getting to know a couple of ex-members. I have been surprised, and humbled, by their intelligence, humility, and wit. Say what you want about Westboro Baptist Church, the members that leave are invariably some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. And understand this – they leave knowing full well that they will probably never see, nor speak to, most of their family ever again. Fred Phelps may be a monster to most of us, but to these young people, he’s “Gramps,” and they are being prevented from going to see him, even though he himself has allegedly been excommunicated from his own church. I don’t know if a lot of us can comprehend this level of dysfunction, but it has to be incredibly confusing, and painful, for those who’ve left. What pleasure is there in rubbing it in?

I don’t cotton to fighting ugly with ugly. I have never encouraged anyone to go where WBC is picketing, to pick fights or threaten them, simply because in doing so, you are giving them exactly what they want. And given the WBC’s stance on funerals (they don’t hold them, believing as they do that it is “worshiping the dead,” rather than worshiping God), the fact is that if/when Fred passes, there will not be a funeral for anyone to protest. So those signs you want to make? Invest your time and energy into donating to LGBT, veterans, or Jewish causes.

I understand the anger that they inspire. I too believe that what they do is reprehensible, and I continue to be fascinated-yet-horrified at the sophomoric, scatological glee with which they go about their business. But I’m not going to “celebrate,” or take any pleasure in, what is happening to the Phelps family right now. The center cannot hold, and the WBC will disintegrate, sooner than anyone probably realizes. Let it do so, quietly.




I….yeah. Look, I suppose if you live in Manhattan and need a little extra scratch, renting your apartment to TOTAL STRANGERS is a totally great idea, because – after all – they’re “verified users” of an internet site, and everybody knows that the internet is completely secure and shit.

I wouldn’t know; I don’t live in a desirable location. I mean – it’s a nice enough neighborhood and all, and it’s an easy commute to the airport, but I couldn’t post my 2 bed/1 bath home as a place to stay while taking in the sights, unless “the sights,” for you, include a movieplex with a huge parking lot that accommodates the World’s Skeeviest Carnival every spring. In which case, you probably WOULD want to rent it to host your BBW/stuffed animal/Purple Drank* orgy. Just don’t let me know about it.


I saw an honest-to-god Juggalo once. Outside of the Walgreens on Centre Street in Malden. I wondered how he was able to survive so far away from any retail establishment that sold Faygo. Curiosity piqued, I went to Faygo’s website, only to learn that they require a great deal more personal information than I was willing to provide, simply to learn how Juggalos in the New England area get their Faygo fix, so to speak.**

I digress. I can’t hate on this. It’s love. Love, with extra helpings of face paint and (presumably) a Faygo Fountain. Bless their hearts.

* – In fairness, I haven’t located a single article on this in which Purple Drank is mentioned. I’m just, you know, assuming.

** – Apparently, you can get Faygo at K-Mart. ANY K-Mart.

Never Break The Chain


Chain…keeps us together
– Fleetwood Mac

Not too long ago, my nephew and two of my nieces were in the city, visiting the Gardner. As it’s a brief trolley ride down the street from my office, I arranged to meet them and their mother (my sister) for lunch…at UNO’s.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I’m one of those clean-eating/Whole30/Paleo/raw milk/only shop-around-the-perimeter-of-the-grocery-store types, because I absolutely am not. Mainly because I do believe that there is some Better Living Through Chemistry, principally in the form of Birthday Cake Oreos and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, even as I completely comprehend that my neocortex is being manipulated, by a whole bunch of stuff I can’t pronounce, into wanting more and more of this crap. But, seriously – have you had one of those Birthday Cake Oreos? Those things are frigging delicious.

But generally speaking, I eat pretty healthily, and when I do get lunch somewhere in the neighborhood, it’s typically sushi, Pho, or Persian. All from locally-owned-and-operated joints. But I figured that my nieces and nephew were not up to having their palates challenged that day, so UNO’s it was.

Next time I go there, I think I’ll just ask for a brick of lard and a salt lick, and save them the trouble of preparing my meal. Lord, the BLOAT. Heinous. I came back to the office and loudly announced that the next time I mentioned that I was going to eat at a chain restaurant, I was to be forcibly prevented from leaving the building. (Everyone kind of grunted, but it’s been busy around here lately so I’ll assume that someone will follow through, eventually.)

The truth of the matter is that I’m getting older, and I simply can’t eat like a 22-year-old stoner anymore. There was a time when I could toke up, eat a family-sized bag of Doritos while watching Ren & Stimpy, and be the none the worse for wear the next morning. THOSE DAYS ARE OVER.

This was going to be a post about how awful chain restaurants are. How every dish on their menu is a virtual Sodium Bomb, even the stuff with the little carrot icon or whatever denoting its appropriateness for them what are watching their figures. I was going to decry the décor of these places (you’re made to feel like you’re eating in someone’s barn, full of distressed Radio Flyer wagons and framed photos of Elvis and/or hockey players). I was really going to be an utter shit about the whole thing, until I sat down and realized how much these places are a part of my personal history.

I think back to my childhood, when the BIGGEST TREAT IN THE WORLD was when my dad took me to Ground Round, which in the 70s was known for having peanut shells all over the floor, sundaes served in tiny little plastic Red Sox hats, and a “treasure chest” full of cheap toys by the register. And while I don’t think this particular chain features these things anymore, I have to say that whenever I pass one, my inner 7-year-old goes APESHIT.

As I got older, family outings were at The 99. Merlot-colored leatherette booths under faux-Tiffany lamps. I knew that I could order the same thing, every time, and it would come out the same way, every time, and this was enormously comforting to me as an adolescent, when everything in my immediate orbit was fraught with uncertainty. I was bullied at school, there were myriad troubles at home, but my burger always arrived cooked exactly the way I wanted it, accompanied by just the right amount of scalding hot steak fries.

By the time I reached high school, the place to go was Bickford’s. I have no idea why. As chains went, Bickford’s was sort of a low-rent Denny’s (I’ll get into my relationship with that place later), but it was open late, and grumpily accommodated a table full of obnoxious, smarty-pants high schoolers such as myself and my friends, where we’d invariably leave a huge mess of dog-eared sugar packets and soggy straw wrappers. The morning after my senior prom? I was at Bickford’s. I didn’t actually GO to my prom, but I knew – somehow – that being at Bickford’s at 5:30 the next morning was going to make me feel better about the whole thing, and it did.

I distinctly remember the big deal that was the first Chili’s in the area. My friend Jude got a job there our senior year in high school. The night before it opened, every staff member was allowed to bring two guests to experience the Chili’s, um, experience. Jude brought me and Raziel. It should be noted that Raziel and I were deep into our Robert-Smith-meets-Lene-Lovich style of dressing at the time. We ordered fajitas (so exotic!) and enjoyed being stared at by Jude’s coworkers and their families.

I went to college in Florida. Central Florida. Pasco County. Not a Bickford’s to be had. But I quickly found friends who shared my penchant for spending ridiculous amounts of time in these places, and the Bickford’s equivalent in those days, and in that area, was the Village Inn in Dade City. I picked up a nasty pie-and-coffee habit there. God, I loved the Village Inn.

But I was not faithful, alas. My senior year in college I began a disastrous affair with the Denny’s on State Road 52 in San Antonio, Florida. I was in a production of The Odd Couple (the one that Neil Simon reconfigured for the ladies), and me and my bitches would hit the Denny’s EVERY SINGLE NIGHT after rehearsal. Always – I got the same thing: grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, fries, and a side of guacamole. And shit tons of coffee.

I won’t even get into my sordid history with the Waffle House.

I came back to the Boston area for graduate school. I mostly avoided these places because I didn’t want all my new, intellectual, flannel-clad friends to think I was tacky and uninformed, gustatorially-speaking. But occasionally I’d cave and wind up drinking at the bar in UNO’s after work (the very same UNO’s I was at a few weeks ago). Should I admit it? Kevin and I had our first kiss at that UNO’s. Oh god oh god oh god.

So, you see? I can’t hate on these places. I try not to eat at them, but I can’t hate on them. So many nights spent in them, giggling and crying and discussing. I am a product of my times, and of my environment. They dot the landscape of my psyche, their glowing signs rising high above the interstates of my very soul, late at night, when nothing else is open.