Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What I Wore

My dear friend Laura Benedict of Handbasket fame (see my sidebar -- live links still confuse me -- yes, I am not the brightest bulb in the tanning booth) has a new blog: Wardrobe by Sam: Can a Self-Confessed Clothing Snob Find a Year's Worth of Fashion Happiness at the World's Biggest Discount Store? Please check it out! It's very smart and funny and it has me thinking about clothes and women (some of my observations could be true for men, but the men I know don't care near as much about clothes or assign the meanings to them that women do). So here it goes.

My dissertation director, a wise woman named Barb, once said that she spent her thirties looking for the perfect dress. If she could find it, the one she could wear anywhere, that would make her look put together and confident, she would have it made. This search turned into the perfect bag in her forties -- one that could organize her life, a bag that would allow her to find everything, not too heavy, not too light. I so got her point. I always thought that clothes could transform me. If I found the right shorts, the right shirt, the right dress, I wouldn't be me. I'd be me, but much much cooler. I'd be effortless. God, if there's anything effortless about me, I'd love to find it! My clothes search started in the truly ugly waters of the eighties -- if you want to wear shoulderpads that look like overnight Kotex pads, that's your decade. But oh my, did I love the sea foam green sweaters, the striped faux polos, well, you get the idea. I did get it right one night at a friend's band performance. The band had fashioned itself after Slayer and my wardrobe was Runaways-inspired. Nobody recognized me. The next day someone said, I didn't know it was you. You looked really good.

It wasn't the perfect dress or bag, but I had done something significant. People were confused -- did I wear a leather mini-skirt or jeans? I wasn't telling. I'd changed my aura with a few strokes of Wet and Wild eyeliner and a boatload of Aqua Net. But I'd owned it, a look for the first time. Even if it wasn't me, it was somebody a little more interesting, a little edgier than the me that wore the oversized Ziggy t-shirt with him bemoaning his fate. That was something to which I could relate, but not something I needed to advertise.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Play the game for more than you can afford to lose... only then will you learn the game." Winston Churchill

Cocktail Hour
Halloween drinks and costumes to come . . .

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday's Libation

Here's a libation for Tuesday! I'll be back later with a regular post -- hope you're having a great week!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mystery And Manners

Once at a faculty development day, I heard a speaker say that the reason transitions are hard is because you must let go of all your props. His example was Linus from Peanuts -- the worst part is when the blanket is being washed and dried and you must let go, take it on faith that all will be well. I took this to heart, being a person who gets very nervous when jarred from a routine. I didn't get my first stomach ulcer at five because I was well-adjusted. I had the imagination of disaster and the hubris to imagine that enough internal suffering could somehow ward it off. Boy, that worked out. My entire life is a testament to the efficacy of such a belief.

There are certain prayers I pray a lot -- my favorite perhaps is the confession that I don't have faith, but I have enough faith that I trust God will give me the faith I need. Nutty, huh? Again, I didn't become a Catholic because I see God in a simple straight-forward way. I once read that God sees you as you see God. My mother used to laugh and say, I don't have any idea how you became both so traditional and so revolutionary. But I suppose we all contain multitudes, hating to see the border recede, hanging onto what we know until mystery subsumes us and we are left in the middle of it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Never assume the obvious is true.” William Safire

Cocktail Hour
Drinking snack suggestion: Still working on pictures -- I don't cook so it's taking some time.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Other People's Birthdays

In the spirt of my last post, I'd love to finish the weekend with this call and response -- favorite occasions or ways to spend time:

birthdays -- not my own, but I love other people's birthdays
Halloween -- candy, costumes, horror movies, haunted houses, no emotional stress holiday
Friday afternoons -- that I've got the whole weekend feeling
Detroit Coney with friends (Mark!)
KFC and champagne picnic -- idea stolen from Raymond Carver story
writing time when all the pistons are firing, not so much when I'm in that "Please God, give me any idea" mode
Pistons games in person or on television

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: really loving Curb Your Enthusiasm this season

Benedictions and Maleditions
Happy Sunday! As for the pictures, yes, I am wearing a littel something for those who are looking -- shame, shame! Ha! Wanted to do something in homage to Sally Mann's Immediate Family, a great book of pictures. Thanks so much for all comments about your likes. I spend a lot of time in my head thinking about what I don't like and it's nice to take inventory of the good stuff now and then.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Thanks for all the great comments on the One Day At A Time post! Interesting topic, always. For a Friday post, I'm going to list a few of my favorite things. Please feel free to chime in with yours!

beautiful notebooks -- all that possibility contained inside a groovy design
cocktail hour -- need I say more?
going to the movies -- excuse to eat fatty popcorn (let's face it, the lowfat microwave stuff is bullshit)
face creams -- okay, these don't do what they say they will, but it's still fun to dream
quoting Bible verses to people who don't expect it from me -- my background as a Bible bowler helps here
postcards -- sending and getting
The Jeffersons -- Norman Lear all the way!
Friday afternoons -- hope yours is a good one . . .

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One Day At A Time

As a child, I loved One Day At A Time. (For proof, reference Dear Daddy letter of former blog post.) Most girls wanted to be Barbara, played by Valerie Bertinelli, the cute younger sister, the sweet pretty daughter. Not me. I liked the MacKenzie Phillips character better, the boy-crazy Julie who was always full of wild dreams and self-deprecation. I didn't have it in me to be the perfect one; people would describe me as skinny and gawky, much like Julie. Now it comes to pass that MacKenzie Phillips has written a book about a ten year affair with her father, the famous John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Weirdly, I did always aspire to be Michelle Phillips, if not with singing talent, having all that sex appeal and dramatic band drama. Looking back, it's strange to think that MacKenzie and Michelle had so much in common.

High On Arrival is not the first memoir about consensual incest (an interesting term -- can incest between a father and daughter ever be consensual given the power dynamic?). I remember Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss which covered similar ground. But even famous writers aren't as famous as singers and actresses. And truth is, I've always liked MacKenzie Phillips, even and maybe especially because of her life's struggles. A lot of people seem quick to judge this situation and even I admit it does boggle the mind when she admits to having an abortion because her child might have been her father's. Such sadness in a life! Her iconic show's title seems apt here. When things are difficult, I often fall back to this old AA chestnut because it can be overwhelming to project too far into the future, that everchanging mirage. Even the Bible encourages us to only worry about today because today's trouble is sufficient. But I'll go one step further. Sometimes I long for a thirty minute sitcom life, the kind where the troubles are cleared up by the end of the half hour and rarely bleed into the next episode.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew, Chapter Six

Cocktail Hour
Drinking cocktail suggestion:
Devil's Night Kiss
one part Godiva chocolate
one part Vanilla vodka
one part Frangelico
splash of cherry vodka

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dr Pepper 10 2 4

Hi everyone! More Dr. Pepper for everyone . . . working steadily on my new project and will start posting it soon. Thanks for the comments and reading as always!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The First Day Of Fall

I once read that every time you have a difficult decision to make, you should use the 10/10/10 rule. This is simple -- how will what I do matter in ten minutes, ten months, or ten years. I either got this out of Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human or Glamour Magazine, I'm not sure. At any rate, it works. I'm not a person who cares about much -- ninety-five percent of decisions I leave to other people who care a whole lot more about where to go to dinner or what to do on the weekend or should I have that last glass of champagne. Okay, I lie on the last of the list. To paraphrase Gore Vidal, you should always say yes to a chance at sex or appear on television or have the last glass of champagne.

Fall is my favorite season, a kind of dying valentine to a fallen and sad world. I love the holidays, love the chill in the air. It's a time for someone like me to fall into a kind of joy with the world again, a time of evaluation, consideration. Kind of like a spring cleaning except of the mind. Last fall I was looking down the barrel of an appendix rupturing and didn't know it. It's quite a blessing and comfort that we can't see that far down the road. For a time, I tried to read palms. I know what the lines mean, but I could never get beyond the basics. As for those big decisions, well, we can plan and worry, but we can only change our hand so much, but we can enjoy the dead leaves while we do it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Anything worth doing is worth overdoing." Mick Jagger

Cocktail Hour
Californication starts this Sunday. Praise be to Jesus, Hank Moody is back!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy first day of fall!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I used to make my students write personal ads as an exercise in audience. Let's face it; there are so many ways to go wrong despite the obvious meeting a psycho and having him hack you to bits. This happened to someone I know. Seriously. Back in the days before the internet, when the newspaper was the only venue for optimistic lonely hearts. I knew it was coming when he gave her a clown doll for her birthday. Note to men; no woman wants a clown doll ever. Anyway, let's say you don't have this fate in store. Even so, it's difficult. How to present yourself in words? To make yourself sound cool and not well, douche-like. This is the writing of champions.

I've never done it myself, looked for someone in a sphere that wasn't physical so I can imagine the challenge. A quick glance in this week's paper gives me a lot of material. My personal favorite -- a man who describes himself as having "beautiful black feathered hair." Okay, I automatically think about this man whose ad is pretty generic (no smokers, no drug addicts, no drama (this one always mystified me because what is a relationship if not a little bit dramatic?) with his feathered hair. It makes me instantly sad because I imagine a woman he loved once told him this (probably circa 1985) and he's remembered it to this day. We imagine ourselves through the scrim of love, write it out, however dated and lost it might be, the forms changing over time, but never enough to make a difference.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I love this mansion, though it is too many windows open halfway each morning close halfway each night."
— Jim Carroll

Cocktail Hour
Drinking snack suggestion: Will have pictures of drinking snacks posted on Friday!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ten Two Four

Hi everyone! Feeling pretty tired this weekend, although the Tigers won today! We won't talk about the Lions, no we won't. Will start posting portions of new work tomorrow -- happy weekend everyone. And happy anniversary to my dear Angela and her husband of one year, Nick!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday I'm In Love

Hey everyone, the weekend is here! I'm about a week and a half into a new book (at three pages a day, I expect to be finished by Halloween -- we'll see as I've never worked this way before and I agree with Charles -- it does get tiring). I'll be posting segments next week, but until then, any suggestions for movies to see this weekend?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Dreamtime

As a child, I received a strange book about the creation of the Outback and the history of Aborigines called The Dreamtime. The book was illustrated with photographs and drawings and went back to the first sunrise, about how the animals were sad that it was so cold and willed the sun into being. But my favorite story was a disturbing little ditty about an old woman and her dingoes. The dingoes captured other Aborigines and brought them to the old woman to eat. Eventually she and her little wicked dingo friends get caught and they are killed. But they don't die. The dingoes turn into snakes and the woman turns into a bird, a bird that is almost never seen in Australia, but still exists.

What interested me the most that unlike the fairy tales I'd read, these had no moral. You kind of got what you deserved, but there wasn't much in the way of punishment or heavy-handed morality. It was the first I learned of the Outback, long before it became an overpriced chain restaurant with an appetizer that everyone loved that had more fat than four large pizzas. (Yes, I had my share of the blooming onion.) That haunted wild world with animals that talked and created the sun and killed for old women. So like and unlike everything now.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Sampson he got his hands around the lion's jaw
And he ripped that beast till the lion was dead
And the bees made honey in the lion's head." Peter, Paul, and Mary

Cocktail Hour
Hey everyone, take a look at Heff's dinner challenge. Might have to get the bowtie pasta out after all.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Void Of Course

For those not mourning, Hung has finished its first season, the first show in forever set in Detroit (Freaks and Geeks was a personal favorite as well) and we leave Ray Drecker with no job, no wife, no house -- "just a dick and a dream." Despite its crass title and subject matter, the show is oddly sweet, a fantastic tribute to the city I love. I knew I would never tear myself away from the screen from the opening narration: "Detroit, the headwaters of failure . . ." But what the show manages to capture is the great kindness and love in the city, the strange juxtaposition between language and meaning, the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

Raised in Texas where women routinely sugarcoat everything, I find the midwest refreshing. People are not your best friend one minute, a stranger the next. Much of the show struggles with loyalty even when it doesn't serve your best financial interest -- take Ray and his poet/pimp Tanya, a woman with a great soul, but not as effective of a pimp as say, Lenore, the shallow life actualizer (?) who can get him dates with "rich horny ladies." Also, the show deals well with money, something other television avoids because for most people, it's more taboo than sex. People who will tell you the most personal sex stories, are often hard-pressed to tell you how much money they have. When Ray counts out his money from the school pickle jar prize in the hardware store and finds out its a hundred dollars less than what the kids said, he finds he can't even buy part of a beam for his house. Even so, the foundation is set -- he may have a bunch of useless honey in his walls at the end of the season, but its the perfect metaphor -- the show is, as its essence, the sweetest thing on television.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The way to screw up somebody's life is to give them what they want." Patrick Swayze

Cocktail Hour
Drinking cocktail suggestion: Jim Carroll, people!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Two big deaths today -- Jim Carroll, the author of The Basketball Diaries and Patrick Swayze. I saw Jim Carroll about ten years ago at the Magic Stick in Detroit -- he was wasted and wonderful and exciting and about two hours late. I used his book of poems, Void Of Course, often in teaching. And Patrick Swayze, well anyone my age, was all about the Dirty Dancing. To be honest, I hated the movie when it came out and had to see it twice with my best friend Melissa. Like so much from the past, it grew on me. Farewell to both!


Final night of Hung! Doing a post on it tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weekend Roundup

Hi everyone -- hope this weekend has been full of fall delights! I've been working on a new project that requires me to crank out three pages a day so I'm pretty drained. I'll be back tomorrow with a new posting, but tonight, well, tonight the season finale of Hung premieres. I'm so so sad it's over! Great show. Hey pretty Jodi, Grouchie's friend is Moondog. I don't know where he found him, but there you have it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baby Grouchie and Moondog

Happy weekend -- back tomorrow with another post! Congratulations to Michigan over Notre Dame!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two Lovers

Finally saw Two Lovers on dvd and enjoyed it, but completely understand why it probably didn't make much money. Too strange, too depressing, lots of mumbling by Joaquin Phoenix, a full blown crackpot and one of my favorite actors (the two go hand in hand, I'm afraid), and lots of moody dark shots of claustrophobic interiors, much like real life. The plot comes from a Dostoevsky story -- dufus guy is in love with two women, one nice, one nuts and guess which one he really loves. Yep, the nut. In this case, the nut is named Michelle played by Gwyneth Paltrow in one of her more interesting roles. She does a great job playing the damaged, beautiful girl, the one men want to rescue. Guess what? She's not that easy to rescue.

What is so attractive about damage? I'm not sure, but it's what men complain about when they say women never want a nice guy, the want a hooligan, a bad boy. This is what women complain about when they have guy friends who never think of them "in that way." Both genders occasionally dabble in the best friend who is in love with them and whom they abuse mightily or feel horribly guilty about or just pretend it isn't so. The stuff of longing, jukeboxes, cards, and late nights choked with longing.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"This is what happened in love. One of you cried a lot and then both of you grew sarcastic." Lorrie Moore

Cocktail Hour
Drinking picture to come: I have received my first Halloween gift already, people! Yes, it's cool. No, it's not too early.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Last Drink Of The Night

The Last Drink Of The Night

It's not as good as the first, but still
it does the trick, whatever trick you need it
to do. My life, laid out in front of me like
cards, what next? There are words that make
you feel everything and nothing at the same
time -- Novocaine, morphine, amnesia of desire
of sadness. Ask and you shall feel nothing
for as long as it takes to break open your
soul. I put my crystal ball in the dishwasher
today and it emerged, gleaming.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
Tarot meaning of nine:
Nine's hold energy of attainment and completion, but with that closure, we understand we are also faced with renewal. There is no ending without a beginning (indeed the Latin word for nine is novem which shares its root with novus, meaning 'new').

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Mad Men

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Including But Not Limited To

I once went to a dinner party of a man whose lover had been murdered in his house a couple of years before. The house is a beautiful arts and crafts mansion in Detroit proper, close to where Mayor Kwame used to live before his texts to his lover made The Daily Show. I almost never watch it, but by some weird chance, I caught it that night when John Stewart was making fun of Kwame for asking his mistress to meet him at Bert's Coney Island for a bowl of chili. A Detroit date if there ever was one, and I should know, having been on my share. My dinner party host collected art and bemoaned the days when you could easily employ "cheap immigrant labor." My host had a heavy German accent which made this sentiment more dramatic, as German accents tend to do. When asked about his lover's death, he said. "It was awful. You cannot imagine the clean up." Probably not.

My host collected tiny little spoons to eat dessert with until "I realized how stupid it was." This made me laugh and wonder when do we outgrow certain desires for accumulation? I have always been a throw away everything useless girl myself after suffering through a depressing period where I surrounded myself with an assortment of useless shit, including but not limited to, stuffed bridal bears, a bride troll doll, and about a hundred hideous frames. Dusting was a day's worth of labor in a tiny one bedroom apartment. And I was a compulsive duster. One day I looked at all my stuff and couldn't stand it. Now I watch Hoarders and clean some more, as if I could rid myself of sadness by way of austerity, all clean surfaces and hospital corners giving me that clean slate I can never get.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"When you are kind to someone in trouble, you hope they'll remember and be kind to someone else. And it'll become like a wildfire." Whoopi Goldberg

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Hoarders -- if you can stomach it. Last night's episode was tres gruesome!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday! As for the True Blood question raised by Heff, I'm going to watch it as soon as it comes out on dvd so I can catch all of it. At any rate, I'm kind of living True Blood -- note graveyard full moon shot. A vampire took that one.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Happy Labor Day

Hi everyone -- hope you're having a great end of summer, labor day weekend! I'm going to be back tomorrow with a longer post, but I ask you -- favorite shows of the summer? Mine: Hoarders (A&E), Hung (HBO), and Nurse Jackie (Showtime). Anything I missed?

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Hi everyone! Hope you're having a great weekend. Here's some pictures of my happy reuniting with my friends Angela, Darci, Joe and of course, Good Tiny. Baby Grouchie was in someone else's cups for the first time, making a Grouchietini. Back at you later with a new post. Special thanks to Jason for the lovely comment on the Write With Fire post. And as for the laughter your blog provides, highest compliment I know because the world is so devoid of it most of the time.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Full Moon Fever

I've always hated owls and most birds give me the creeps because they fly in your house and steal your soul. Most people are afraid of becoming their mother; I have become my great grandmother. Seriously. She used to throw my one stuffed animal out of our bed (we slept together when I was young because the house didn't have enough rooms), a sweet precursor to Baby Grouchie, a green monster with a yellow felt crown, because he had "bacterias on his head." He'd land Omen-like, impaled on the magazine rack where she stored her National Enquirers. This was back in the day when the Enquirer had great stories like a boy that had ears like a bat (Bat Boy Lives!) instead of stars and their cellulite. Not that stars and their cellulite isn't a great guilty delight, but let's face it, it can't hold a candle to doctored pictures of ordinary people posing as freaks of nature.

Last night, a friend of mine who loves owls and wears them all the time, told me that owls come to you at dark points in your life and lead you out. I started to like them a little more. That sounded good, an animal who comes to you to help you navigate the rough times. I think of life as kind of a constant darkness where you get glimpses of the light to help you along until you make it to the next stop, the next full moon. I've always liked full mooons, the blackness illuminated before it smothers you whole.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Be faithful in small things because in them therein your strength lies." Mother Teresa

Cocktail Hour
Driking cocktail suggestion: Baby Grouchie posed last night in a martini glass (picture soon) to make a Grouchietini. Will post his delightful antics soon.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Case Of Anna O

For a brief time as a fifth-grader, I hated books that weren't true, not understanding that all books are true on a certain level, that the stories we tell say something about who we were, are, or wish to be. Instead of consenting to do a book report on a novel, I insisted on reading the biography of Freud. This, I'm afraid, explains a lot. The librarian feared that it might be too adult, my teacher was fed up with my constant campaigning, and in true Taurean fashion, I got my way.

After a while, I decided I wanted to write about crazy people, not treat them. And that stories where far more interesting than facts. Facts could tell you part of the narrative, but they weren't more than a dry bone in the valley of stories. I liked Freud, liked the darker elements of his personality. But I especially liked the case studies, the real patients he couldn't entirely explain. That's when I began to like fiction again, the only thing that could fill in the details.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Being a writer is like being a martial arts expert, there's a certain stance and alertness that is required." Kate Braverman

Cocktail Hour
Drinking website suggestion:
(really funny tongue-in-cheek look at hipster culture)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!