It’s a sign of the times

We celebrated my Uncle Dick's 80th birthday on Saturday. My brother Scott and I were the surprise.

Words, recently

The eye doctor prescribed Xiidra for me last week, for dry eyes. One of the side effects is a metallic taste in the mouth after application, she said, and then: "To prevent that, you can just occlude the eyes for a couple seconds."

I knew not what "occlude" meant, but I acted super chill while I rustled through the ol' brain box: ...? Nope! Thanks to the internet, I've lost all my smart words! Also my eyesight.

Survey says: occlude. to close up or block off :  obstruct • a thrombus occluding a coronary arteryalso:  conceal • cosmetics that occlude pores

I looked it up and then I tried it; she meant "occlude the tear ducts." It helps and it doesn't. I also googled "Xiidra side effects" (I like to check their work) and found this: "A strange or bad taste in the mouth (dysgeusia) immediately after application."

Two for one!

Medical definition of dysgeusia: dysfunction of the sense of taste (pronounced with a hard "g," as in "girl" or "golly" or "good luck with that bullshit")

Then, while I was there, Merriam-Webster tried selling me this witchy ensemble. Really makes up for losing those jeans!

Customer service

As a recent, if premature, panic shopper of sweatshirts, let me be the first to tell you to buy this sweatshirt. The Bean makes some fashion missteps but on this one they knocked it out of the park. If like me your favorite mode of dressing is "campfire lazy," you'll feel at home immediately. It's thin and soft and roomy ("relaxed") and has a perfect wide crewneck (tight crewnecks being the scourge of casual ladies everywhere) and is the best light shade of non-gym class gray. Or navy. Your pick! Let's all meet somewhere in six weeks or so, wearing this sweatshirt. The band at the bottom is loose and the fit is comfortable but not boxy—this is so important! NOT BOXY!—so we can let it all hang out. I think we'll have a really good time.

When things fall apart, or the meaning of life

From Heather Kirn Lanier at Vela Mag, "SuperBabies Don't Cry":

We want a SuperRace because we want to eradicate absolutely everything that terrifies us. We want SuperHumans so we can transcend that thing we are: human. But a SuperHuman would lack that crack in everything through which, as Leonard Cohen sang, the light gets in. There’s something in our suffering that we need. We’ve known this for millennia, and we make it clear in the stories we keep telling. The Buddha gave up his palace and meditated beneath a tree for a week. Jesus of Nazareth said yes to a cross. Our ache is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, says the copper lady with the torch. When we walk into our pain, we sometimes find ourselves on the other side, freed of what we once thought we needed to feel free.

From an interview with Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone, circa 2007:

Faith doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have a category. It’s oblique. So it’s unspeakable. We degrade faith by talking about religion.

Two gains, one loss

1. I switched to a new wash & fold cleaner a couple weeks ago that's close enough to walk to on my way to work lugging a 12-pound sack of filthy laundry. So far they've torn a hole in one sheet and lost three socks, which I am willing to overlook. Socks are tough to track in the best of times and, well I don't know what to say about the sheet except I did not care. It's a sheet. Last week, though, they lost my favorite pair of jeans (slouchy cropped boyfriend, J.Crew, 2 years old) and my favorite sweatshirt (heavy but soft, Eddie Bauer Outlet in Wisconsin Dells, 4 years old). The sweatshirt has since been found and returned to me, although the jeans remain gone with the wind. I've thrown several internal fits about this and have to keep talking myself off the ledge, public tantrum-wise. I do not have luck with jeans these days, or pants, or clothing in general. I've forgotten how to dress and have no idea where to shop. It's nice to know on the weekend that I don't have to care about any of that, only now I do. I'm embarrassed to report how sad I am about those jeans but this is a safe space, and in truth I cared more about losing them than I ever did about my jackets (summer of 2010, RIP). I feel like I've surrendered my security blanket, which is low and pathetic, but now that I've spoken of them here, I have released their hold over me and thus I am free. Hocus pocus, abracadabra, kalamazoo, etc. They're just pants, man. At least that's the theory.

2. I bought this window fan last month in anticipation of the always-painful climate transition that occurs when it's suddenly 75 degrees outside before they turn the heat off inside (I can't control the heat, thanks to New York City's ancient steam radiator system, so I can never close the window). I was a little skeptical that anything so simple and stupid could make a difference in my daily enjoyment but holy moly! It's like sitting on a screen porch on a cool summer night, free from all the care and toil of the world. The problem is it makes me want to nap whenever I sit down. You know the feeling. It's the best.

3. I sense I really reached the bottom of the barrel with this one, blog-wise. But they can't all be winners: that's just a totally unrealistic expectation. I went ahead and posted it anyway, though, as a lesson in hubris and humility, and thus I am free.

Famous people I’ve seen in New York City

I started a list once but I can't find it. I keep too many notebooks in too many places. One of my many faults.

I saw Joan Didion in Central Park a couple years ago. She looked like a garden gnome. Like a tiny woodland sprite, made of mushrooms.

I saw Yoko Ono in the park also, on a separate occasion. Would it surprise you to hear she was wearing dark sunglasses?

I saw Susan Sarandon outside a pet shop. We were standing at the window looking at puppies at the same time. Everyone's up in arms over the Bernie thing and former fans are now foes but I can't hate Susan Sarandon. She'll always be Annie Savoy to me, and we both like puppies. I don't have to agree with everything everybody says or does. I never made that deal.

I saw Jon Stewart in front of the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. He was wearing a baseball cap.

I saw Elaine Stritch backstage at the opera, in the green room, while we were waiting for Renée Fleming. SarahB told her we had tickets to see her perform at the Carlyle and she said "How can you afford that?" We couldn't, actually: that night at the Carlyle cost almost $800 for three people. It was insane. Yet it's one of the best memories of my lifetime.

I saw Ted Danson exiting the Regency once, back when the Regency was still the Regency and we still went there to see Betty Buckley. He was the silver fox the term "silver fox" was invented to describe.

I've seen Jeff Goldblum and Neil Patrick Harris at the theater—both for different performances of Mary Stuart, I think. Wise choice, if true. Also Kate Winslet with Sam Mendes—back in the day—and Maggie Gyllenhaal with Peter Sarsgaard, both at the same performance of Endgame at BAM. There are more. Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Dana Ivey, all at Encores!. I'm forgetting a lot of people, I know. SarahB would remember. She sees famous people all the time.

People eating at the same restaurant where I was also eating: Patti LuPone, Renée Fleming, Christina Hendricks, Bill Nighy, Alan Alda, Linda Lavin, Christine Ebersole, Donna Murphy, Raul Esparza. Harriet Walter, Janet McTeer, John Benjamin Hickey, Marian Seldes. Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince. There are more. They escape me.

I saw Piers Morgan once, when my brother Todd and his then-girlfriend/now-wife Darcy and SarahB and I had dinner at Quality Meats. Todd surreptitiously took his picture in the mirror and then texted "I'm sitting next to Piers Morgan" to our brother Kyle, and Kyle texted back "I'm sitting next to Captain Morgan." No flies on Kyle.

I stood behind Rachel Maddow at the Rockefeller Center Starbucks once. Make that one of the two Rockefeller Center Starbucks, the one closest to 6th Avenue, with the door that's impossible to open due to the wind tunnel effect of being located in the bowels of Rockefeller Center, which connects to the BDFM lines. 

People I saw at the Bruce Springsteen show at the Apollo: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Pat Riley, Tommy Hilfiger, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Michael J. Fox, Tracey Pollan, Ed Burns, Elvis Costello, Andrew McCarthy. Bruce Springsteen.

Mark Ruffalo lives in my neighborhood (a lot of people live in my neighborhood). SarahB has seen him twice on the street. My stylist has seen him in her salon. She showed me a picture of him with her and her sister, who works at the same salon. He came in for a trim once and had to run back home to get money when it was done. Imagine having an I.O.U. from Mark Ruffalo! I'd probably stuff it in my bra. She said Keanu Reeves strolls past the shop a lot, too. I tend not to look up much when I'm out walking, which is a problem. I could be married to Keanu Reeves right now, for heaven's sake.

* to be continued *

Important news

I'm mostly a devil-may-care beer drinker, in that I know what I don't like (IPAs, blech) but have no deep, discerning palate. Also let's be honest, there are just too many beers out there, and while I enjoy a good beer as much as the next cat it's not exactly a hobby. But if (big if) I'm paying attention I usually gravitate toward sours, wheats and Belgians (especially saison! saisons are the best!), which as it happens all sit safely in the same top right quadrant on this pretty beer chart.

Look at that! I care more than I thought. Thus ends this post on beer.


Master of None

This show makes me happy: it's perfect binge material and can be found in the dictionary under the non-communicable disease definition of "infectious." (Don't look it up.) p.s. Also worth your TV dollars: Grace & Frankie and Atlanta.

+ how long have I hated the month of April? Literally forever. Thanks to HBO, though, this month is bringing many, many, many good and—in the case of that last one—likely devastating things. I'm also setting aside Deadwood and Six Feet Under for this summer, along with The Larry Sanders Show. And maybe—just maybe—going back to BSG, which has taken me eight full years to recover from. Boy, were those the days.

More like this

My current Twitter account has been active since 2010, but I delete my tweets on a regular basis and all I really use it for anymore is liking things. You know how they ("they") always say you should listen more than you talk? That's me and liking things on Twitter; my like-to-tweet-ratio right now is 17,000 to 1:

I have a theory that you can learn more about a person by what they like on Twitter than what they actually tweet on Twitter, although that theory falls apart a little when you realize what's being liked are tweets. I suppose that's unavoidable. I still like my theory, though: it's both free and self-reinforcing. Jason Kottke (of fame) used to have a tool called Stellar that pulled in likes from Twitter feeds, and it was my favorite way to follow anybody on Twitter. It's dead now, like the future of America, but I'm still a flagrant liker of anything involving wordplay, the worthy comeuppance of knuckleheads, small displays of heartwarming humanity, wicked Trump burns, or furry animals:

It's a good habit to have, liking things, even though the world is a shithole. I pat myself on the back for it all the time.