Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Soon enough, he leaned forward and held the cable modem out to me, saying, "Ma'am? Do you happen to know how much these cost? Ain't it hundreds of dollars? Man, I am in serious trouble. My son broke it and now I have to take it in. They're gonna charge me hundreds of dollars. Man."
"It won't be hundreds of dollars," I said. "That's why they charge a monthly fee just to have it. Besides, you can just tell them it stopped working. They don't have to know your son broke it."
"Oh, they'll be able to tell," he said sorrowfully. "Take a whiff. He poured a bottle of Hannah Montana perfume into it."
It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. That would explain the flowers and vanilla!
I thought it was a bus moment worthy of sharing.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
See that new Grooveshark widget over there to the right? It's only got one song on it. Let me explain what it is.
A lot of people don't know this about me, since I've lost touch with most of my stateside relatives over the years - but I come from a big hymn-singing family on my American side. I was raised entirely non-religiously, but during my childhood summers, my mother and I would visit my grandparents, and there would be a whole lot of old-fashioned hymn-singing, which I loved.
Sometime in the early 80s, when I was 12 or so, a bunch of Draper relatives gathered around Grandma's rollicking old piano and sang a hymn. It got taped, by me (obsessed, as usual, with recording everything), onto a cassette that I never labeled. A couple of years ago, I acquired a tape digitization gadget for my birthday, started ransacking old cassettes... and found that tape.
I just found that file again. Click the Grooveshark widget to hear the hymn, digitized out of my past. Now, I'm not saying we're the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or anything: it's just seven or eight relatives standing around a piano happily hollering out a tune, and it was all about the doing of it, not the sounding. They didn't even know I was taping it, or if they did, they didn't care!
Note: It's hard to listen to at first because the original tape sounds so spotty, but hang in there: the tape stabilizes about one minute in.
The song is an old 30s tune called Jesus, Hold My Hand. (Not "When Jesus Holds My Hand." I mistitled the digital file when I created it and can't figure out how to fix it.) Just listen to Grandpa's belting baritone and Grandma's stomping piano! Hurray for my childhood obsession with taping everything.
An interesting sidenote: after checking out iTunes this evening, I have discovered that there are any number of versions of this song. Cowboys growl it. Huge choruses present it. Sweet country divas warble it. Glee clubs svelte it up. Bluegrass groups fiddle it back to earth. Old folk ensembles belt it out much the way my relatives and I did. And Elvis? Yes - Elvis! He has a version, too.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The night before: Ten minutes after I got off the phone with my mother, during which I uttered the sentence, "It's so great not having to go to the laundromat any more!" - the dryer stopped working. I did some online shopping for dryers new and used, and cursed my bad luck. What a hassle! Then I called a repair service and they agreed to send someone out the next morning.
8:10 a.m.: (And who wants to wake up at 8:10 a.m.on a holiday?) The repairman called and arranged to come out.
8:15-10 a.m.: Frantic cleaning up. Okay, okay, you're right, we probably didn't have to clean up for the repairman. But it was pretty disastrous in there. So we cleaned. I hate cleaning.
11 a.m.: The repairman showed up and announced it was a blown fuse. He pulled the dryer out and messed around with it, then left after installing the $20 fuse for a total of $90. But I'm not complaining: I now know how expensive dryers are! As he left, he said casually, "Oh - and there's a smell of gas behind your dryer. You should call DTE Energy."
11:30 a.m.: We started smelling gas, too. I called DTE Energy. They agreed to send someone out right away.
12:15 p.m.: Scott drove to the corner store for a couple of basic sundries. The car died in the store parking lot. He called in a panic. I told him to call Barb for help, if she was around. She was, and despite an afternoon appointment, bless her, she agreed to come give his car a jump.
12:30 p.m.: The gas man arrived. He was the most unpleasant grouch I have perhaps ever encountered. "We're not in the business of cleaning up after incompetent repairmen," he growled, and then lectured me at great length on how my whole laundry setup was completely against code. He explained (with what seemed rather like relish) that if the dryer malfunctioned while someone was in the shower, it would suck all the oxygen out of the bathroom and the person in the shower would die in short order from carbon monoxide poisoning. I thanked him for this lovely image and sent him on his way.
1 p.m.: The grumpy gas man stomped off just as Barb's car pulled up and deposited Scott. They hadn't been able to get the car started, so it was still in the store parking lot.
1:15 p.m.: With Scott panicking about the car and me seething about the grumpy gas man, we decided to treat ourselves to a hot, fresh, delicious pizza from Happy's Pizza, right around the corner.
1:45 p.m.: No pizza.
2:15 p.m.: No pizza.
2:30 p.m.: We became the disappointed recipients of a cold, soggy, entirely unappetizing pizza that had clearly been driving around for a while.
Now, actually, that's sort of the end of it. The evening improved tremendously with a dinner invite from Barb, who prepared a sumptuous repast on the evening before leaving for New York on business. And really, when it comes down to it, the dryer was fixed, and the gas leak was fixed, and the car mysteriously started again when Scott returned on foot to the parking lot where it sat. Everything could have been a whole lot worse.
But I'm just saying: it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad President's Day.
I'm glad it's over.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Yesterday, Scott and I treated ourselves to a trip to the DIA. We prowled the new rooms and explored the new layout, loving the expanded contemporary and modern sections in particular.
But once again, it was Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry" mural that truly wowed me.
I could honestly stand there and look at that thing for hours!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
As it turned out, she wasn't quite that chilly. The winter of 1985 was unusually deep-frozen for Denmark. Here's proof: my sister and me climbing right up on the icy rocks to visit with her!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
To my amazement, I discovered that he actually had his own Facebook page. It was posted while he was being featured and includes this wonderful picture:
Look at him, all skinny and battle-scarred. Poor little guy.
Among other equally true things, his Facebook blurb says, "He's got great cheeks for scratching." I must say, Nigel's Facebook biographer was most insightful. How I do indeed love to scratch those cheeks!
Well, he's a lot plumper now. He's a spoiled and silky boy. Now that I'm back on track with the blog, I'll post a picture or two soon.
For now, though, I just had to share my astonishment. I had no idea he was a famous Facebook cat.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
“That is not a very nice trick to play on a friend,” says Thelma. “From now on, I will have to be careful when I play with you.”
“Being careful is not as much fun as being friends,” says Frances. “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?”
It’s a children’s book, so Thelma says she wants to be friends and they go to the candy store and share some candy and everything’s fine. But Frances’s question, as many of my closest friends know, became a part of my ongoing philosophy. I tend to be a bit overly trusting, and thus easily utilized. I have learned to watch for a look in a prospective friend’s eye, a look that says, How can I use this person to my own ends? Sometimes, I can get past that and find the real person behind it. Sometimes, I can’t. Sometimes the person turns out to be Thelma, and she doesn’t really want to be friends. In general, though, it's true: being careful is not as much fun as being friends. And once I decide to trust, careful goes out the window. It's worth the risk.
The book was written by Russell Hoban, and when I first met Scott, I told him about it. He was startled at the author’s name and hauled his favorite novel off the shelf: Riddley Walker, by none other than Russell Hoban. It turned out that he had written many novels in addition to his popular children’s books.
I’ve read most of them at this point, and Hoban is in my top five list of authors. His view of the world fascinates me, and in fact it’s very close to my own. There’s a sense that we can only catch glimmers of meaning, as though the universe is aware of its own purpose but can only impart it to us through random clues, hidden messages, puzzles. You can find these clues in ancient myths or in bus schedules, opera arias or Kinks songs. All you can do is keep looking. And laugh when you find them, at least sometimes. I find a lot of Hoban’s writing hilarious. Kleinzeit is a comedic favorite of mine. I would recommend that odd little novel to absolutely anyone. Turtle Diary, too. If you're interested in trying Hoban for the first time, try that one. And, of course, Riddley Walker, which Scott read out loud to me in the first few weeks we were together. It’s a post-apocalyptic story written in a mutated, futuristic northern English patois that has to be read aloud, really. I believe that book is what really made Hoban a true cult novelist. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has apparently recently been compared to it. If that’s the case, it’s definitely next on my reading list.
Anyway. The point is, today is Russell Hoban’s 85th birthday. On his birthday every year, Hoban fans leave Russell Hoban quotes on pieces of yellow paper (a reference to Kleinzeit) in public places. I got in on the game this year. I left mine in a defunct newspaper vending machine at the Ypsilanti bus terminal.
The paper says:
What about me? said Kleinzeit.
Not my problem, said the mirror.
--Russell Hoban, Kleinzeit
I don't know about you, but on some mornings I have that very conversation with my mirror.
So – happy birthday, Russell Hoban. Thank you for helping us find our way to go where them Chaynjis take us.
A related link from the Londonist: Look Out for Yellow Paper on Russell Hoban Day
Monday, February 1, 2010
See, the problem is, I keep forgetting I have a blog. I'm not blowing it off on purpose. I just got out of the habit, and I'm just forgetful. And the issue isn't that I don't want to do it. I do. It's really for my own sake that I keep it in the first place - I like having an ongoing, casual record of my everyday life! If I can just remember to do it.
The way to remember to do it is to do it. So here goes. Happy Memory-Jog Blog Month!
Today I'm posting two pictures my dad sent. There hasn't been a deep winter snow in Copenhagen in years, and here's a little park near where they live, absolutely coated in snow. It's gorgeous!