nonBlog: September 2006
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a possibly gratuitous explanation of why my blog is called "nonBlog"
and my site is titled "Ceci n'est pas un blog."
Carrie Bradshaw, Eat Your Heart Out-Thursday, September 26, 2006
I am about to tell you a story about Manolo Blahnik shoes. Before I go on I should say that I am one of those people who has virtually no impulse to buy things that other people want, particularly brand-name goods that other people want. I am not moved by Hermès bags or Chanel suits or a single item made by Burberry. This absence of yearning is such a good thing that I try not to think about it or comment on it, lest I scare it away.
But there is one exception to the above rule. I have always wanted a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. I look at them in the Neiman Marcus catalog, I search for them on Ebay and Bluefly. But I don't buy them. For one thing, I am as tall as a tree and I would look like Sheryl Swoopes standing in them. For another thing, I can't think when my feet hurt. And for a third thing, there is no justification in this universe-no matter how rich you are-for spending several hundred dollars on a single pair of shoes.
This past weekend I was in Florida visiting my sick father again. I was staying at my sister Sharon's house, and when I got home from a particularly saddening four-hour stint at the hospital I told her I felt I had been de-sanguinated. "Let's go shopping," she said. Sharon is a very savvy shopper. She could make a career of it, but she is a Georgetown Phi Beta Kappa and should really apply her brainpower elsewhere. She asked me what I would love to have at a discount and I confessed my secret to her. So she took me to Neiman Marcus Last Call, which of course they don't have in San Francisco. There she found me a tall pair of beige and magenta fabric-covered pumps with black stitching and a skinny wooden stacked heel. They were $135. Now, $135 is still a lot of money for a pair of shoes, but it's not a lot of money for a pair of shoes that originally cost $600. I bought them. I wore them on Tuesday to a lunch meeting at SFMOMA. I wore them on Wednesday to a meeting at school and a lunch at Limon. And if it's true that the real cost of something you buy is how much you spend divided by how many times you use it, in no time at all these Manolo Blahnik shoes will have cost me fifty cents.
Avas, Avas Everywhere -Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I received an email from one Angela Lawson, executive director of the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina, inviting me and the kids to a private reception for "All Avas" during their 2006 Ava Gardner Festival on September 30th . She read my Huffington Post piece about how irritated I am that Ava has become one of the ten most popular baby names in America, seemingly overnight.
I think this is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. I don't merely make the mistake of choosing the most instantly popular baby name ever while hunting for something distinctive, as I did with my firstborn, Olivia. I choose a baby name so popular it gets its namesake her own museum. Not, like, a kiosk. A museum.
Lawson sympathized with my plight; she named her daughter Meghan in the early eighties in an effort to be unique, only to find Meghan was one of many at every school she attended. So Lawson's theory is, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I still think I have the right idea, even though Tom won't hear of it. I think we should re-name Ava Vivian.
My Life. My Card -Friday, September 15, 2006
If they made an American Express "My Life. My Card" ad about me today, here's what it would say:
My name: Stephanie Losee
First job this morning: undoing the damage after Ava filled both hands with vanilla yogurt at breakfast and smeared it all over her head
First job ever: cleaning lady
Soundtrack: Todd Rundgren
Wildest dream: to get Tom to like Todd Rundgren
Childhood ambition: to be a famous novelist
I haven't written fiction since: my college writing teacher told me how rotten I was at it
Indulgence: watching Project Runway with Olivia
Last purchase: bottle-green Project Runway gown with feather bodice
I'll wear it: when I lose 15 pounds or get breast-reduction surgery, whichever comes first
My card: is actually my Dartmouth College Visa. Does anyone really use AmEx anymore?
Now we know why I'll never be the subject of a "My Life. My Card" ad, in case there was ever any doubt.
Please, Someone Else's Will Be Done-Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I just spoke to my father in the hospital where he has been fighting sepsis-a deadly full-body infection-for several weeks. He knew it was me and he said a few sentences that made sense, but then he stopped talking for a moment. When he started again he was incoherent. We got off the phone and I now am consumed with guilt because I believe I willed him to survive this long and I shouldn't have done it.
My father has almost died several times before, and you would think that someone who has seen their father close to death that often would be okay with it, but when I flew down to Florida to say good-bye a few weeks ago I was unexpectedly undone. I took the red-eye and cried for most of the seven hours it took to reach him. When I did, and he could understand that I was by his side, it was the greatest relief I can remember. Then I told him-for the first time in all the times he's come close to dying-that it was okay if he needed to go. I could see that he didn't have long to live; I could see how badly he was suffering. I told him that if he didn't want to fight anymore I would understand. I told him that I would remember him to his grandchildren. I told him that I had a happy marriage and a healthy family and everything I dreamed of having as an adult, and that his work here was done.
Then he survived that crisis, and when he came to he told me that he fought so hard because he heard me ask him to. Which tells me that when he was dying he didn't hear my words, but the emotion in my voice. He could hear how upset I was, he could feel how bereft I would be if he died. So he fought, and he's still here. It makes me feel I'm responsible for his suffering now, because he's enduring all this so I don't have to watch him die just yet, at 68. I wish my voice had matched my words that day I told him he didn't have to fight anymore, even if it means I would be grieving now.
Up and Down, Round and Round -Friday, September 8, 2006
Olivia, my 11-year-old daughter, hates roller coasters. I find this highly ironic because-lately-Olivia is a roller coaster.
My husband Tom keeps saying 11 is the new 14, and boy is he right. One minute, Olivia is the girl she has always been: she is bouncy and happy and over-the-top, her heart as mushy as microwaved Land O' Lakes; the next she is sarcastic and miserable and mouthing off like one of Alison Lohmann's juvy pals in the movie White Oleander. You can practically see the hormones crawling over her. Any day now I expect her to come home with her long blonde hair dyed black, fuchsia eye makeup and biker boots.
I am trying not to turn on a dime along with her mood. So much for om mani padme hum; my mantra is more along the lines of mellow, mellow, mellow. I breathe in and out yogi-like and try to think about how it felt when puberty was messing with me.
Then I remember that, unlike Olivia, I love roller coasters.
Car Sickness -Friday, September 1, 2006
Here's what happens when you speak on public radio about the abortion you had in college: women thank you for speaking openly about the subject and confess they had one too, and men send you hate mail.
In the first hour after my Perspective about the "Choose Life" Florida license plate aired on KQED, I heard about women who terminated a pregnancy in their teens, women who terminated one in their twenties, women who did it when they were single and poor, women who did it when they were married and paying the bills. My friend Helaine, with whom I am currently writing a book, predicted this would happen. She mentioned having had an abortion in her New York Times Modern Love column last year, and she said that I would soon feel the reality of the statistic that 50-60% of adult women have had an abortion. "That means either you had one or your best girlfriend did," she said. And she's obviously right.
There's a movement out there to own up if you ended a pregnancy; the theory is that if enough of us do it perhaps it will reduce the stigma and anti-choice groups will be less successful in shaving away at abortion rights. But now I know firsthand what awaits women who take this step. A man from Castro Valley chased down my web site and wrote: "I listened to your Perspective this morning with interest and more than a little surprise that a state government would sanction such a thing." At this point I was really gratified that a man would find me to send a supportive note. But he continued: "I was also appalled and embarrased [sic] (and slightly nauseated) that you felt the need to broadcast your own indiscretion to such a wide audience. It was all about you, all about your decision. Where might that child be now if you'd allowed (her?) to have (his?) life? But then, everything about you on the Web is all about YOU. You are a wretchingly self-sentered [sic] woman. The anti-Ann Coulter. Puke."