Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The "Where Are They Now" Edition

Inspired, as always, by Mrs. Kennedy (whose new banner, although quite fetching, gave me a sudden shock today), I thought it might be fun for me to see what happens when I Google the names of my old (and I mean OLD old, like Fourth Grade old) friends.


First we have Brenda Herschbach Jarrell, whose achievements are frightening:

Dr. Jarrell is a patent attorney with Choate, Hall & Stewart, whose practice is focussed on biotechnology. Dr. Jarrell followed an unorthodox path to the law, starting life as a Chemist (AB Harvard 1987; AM Harvard 1988) and then pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry (UCSF 1993). Dr. Jarrell joined Choate, Hall & Stewart in 1993 as a Staff Scientist, continued to work there while pursuing her law degree (Harvard 1998), and is now an associate.

Of course, that sort of thing is to be expected when your dad is a Nobel Laureate. All I remember about her dad is that he was hardly ever home, and when he was, he was in his office. Brenda had long, beautiful straight blonde hair, Barbie Doll hair, which I was endlessly jealous of and fascinated with, having myself some pretty strange, frizzy and totally unruly brown curly Jewish hair. This didn't exactly help me to fit in in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Together, Brenda and I pretended to be alien children adopted by our human parents but needing to get back to the space ship, which we decided was going to land in Chicopee, Massachusetts. We spent hours devising our plan for getting back to the ship and thus to our true home in outer space. It all made perfect sense at the time. And yes, we lifted the entire story line from a certain Disney movie, but what the hell. We were eight.

Liz Dewey is absolutely nowhere to be found on the internet, but that's OK. I'm actually somewhat in contact with her family as her sister lives here in Austin and her mom and my dad are still in touch for business reasons. I don't think I ever need to see Liz again, actually. She broke my heart when she dumped me during the summer between Fourth and Fifth grade. I haven't been the same since. Anyway, I know she's living in Vermont and working for her dad.

I'm also still a little bit in touch with the beautiful, ephemeral Laura Heijn, although it's horribly sporadic. She, too, lives in Vermont. The only mention of her name on the internet has to do with some hut in the Appalachian mountains, and an award she got from high school. I don't think Laura even owns a computer. She's an artist, and all that. I miss her.

The shocker of the day was Kevin Platt. I pined like a lovesick puppy dog for Kevin Platt for years, enduring all sorts of horrible taunts involving his first name and my last (which was Zevin at the time), and the whole "Sarah and Kevin kissing in a tree" thing. And now he has his very own homepage. He sounds happily married and all that, so I guess I missed my chance. Kevin was tall, dark and handsome, and a total geek. While the other kids were playing outside at recess, Kevin and I would sit in the back room and READ TOGETHER. I'm still the same old dork I was back then, I guess. But Kevin really did something amazing once, by standing up to a very bratty classmate of ours, and I've always wanted to tell him how much I appreciated that. I guess now's my chance, huh? Wow.

I know I had other friends in fourth grade, but honest to God I can't remember their last names. So this will have to do. Thanks, Mrs. Kennedy!

Friday, March 21, 2003

Dear Texas Drivers;

The lane on the far left is called the passing lane. If you are driving in this lane, it should be because you were driving in the traveling lane (that's the one in the middle), but came upon someone who was driving more slowly than you, and so decided to pass that person. Once you are finished passing the person in the traveling lane, you should then return to the aforementioned traveling lane until such a time as you might encounter yet another person traveling more slowly than you. Then you should again follow the instructions above, and pass that slower person. If you are a very, very slow moving vehicle (like, anything less than 70 miles per hour), then you should be in the slow pokes lane. That's the lane on the far right. Please, for the love of God, if you are a truck driver going South to Mexico or North to Canada (never have I hated NAFTA more than since I moved to Texas), you should STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE PASSING LANE.

Thank you very much.



P.S. Please stop riding the brakes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Pray for Peace

Pray to whoever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Yahweh, Allah, raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper
of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down
to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven't been on a bus in a long time,
climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latté and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already a prayer.
Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile case we are poured into,
each caress a season of peace.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheel chair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves
we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust
of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

-- Ellen Bass

12 Years Ago...

More or less...

I wrote this:

Monday 14 January 1991
Jass Oberoi Hotel
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Tomorrow is the final day for Hussein to pull out of Kuwait -- midnight, eastern standard time, which is actually 10:30 the following morning here. Many people here and abroad seem convinced that there will be a war, although we are all hoping that some alternative will be reached. I'm a little nervous about flying back in two weeks -- I had a dream last night that British Airways cancelled all its flights...

Tuesday 15 January
Hotel de Paris
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

It's really hard to tell what will happen in the Gulf -- war could break out immediately, or later, or not at all. No one knows, really. I'm feeling somewhat frightened. I don't feel comfortable about being overseas.

Thursday 17 January
Hotel Fairlawn
Calcutta, Bengal

At 3:20 this morning, India time, war broke out in the Gulf. I was sleeping in a train headed for Calcutta. Michael was just finishing up with work. All I've heard is something about an air strike, & 18,000 tons of bombs being dropped. But really, who knows. I just hope it's over quickly and not too many lives are lost. I don't like being over here -- I'll feel much better when/if we touch ground at Heathrow & especially Logan. I'm feeling a real need to go home.

On the minibus to the hotel our guide informed us that war had broken out. None of us had much to say -- it's difficult to react to such news. I felt like crying, though. Meanwhile, life really does go on here in this bustling, crazy city...1/2 an hour ago, at 2, a number of us gathered around the t.v. to watch the Hindi news, but it was difficult to ascertain any real info. English news is on at 3, so I'm sticking around for that. I desperately want to speak to Michael. Dad's calling the office tonight from the Grand Hotel, around the corner -- if he gets thru we'll have some clearer news.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003


It scares me sometimes, truly, the people in my development. Today I asked Theresa who lives two doors down from me if her son's girlfriend could maybe babysit for me this Saturday night as I have a birthday party to attend. So this sends her spinning off into a huge and strange riff about her son, Brad, and his friends. And how most of his former friends have started to do drugs (they're so close, Brad and Theresa, he just tells her everything), so he doesn't hang out with them anymore because he doesn't want to be seen with them. Although, they're still invited to the house as long as they are clean. Oh, and they can't be wearing those baggy pants. You know the ones? That hang down below their butts? Because they know how Brian and I feel about those clothes, and if they want to come over to our house they have to dress real nice. And Brian was out in the backyard and he left his cigarette burning on the porch railing (cigarettes are OK, after all), and he forgot all about it, and Brad's friend was over and Brian saw the cigarette and pointed at it, and said, "what's that?" Only the kid thought he was pointing at his pants and he said, "Oh, yes sir, I'll go change." And this kid had brought a CHANGE OF CLOTHES to their house so that he wouldn't offend Brad's parents with his baggy pants. So he went right into the house and changed into some tight jeans. Well, not tight jeans, just jeans that fit right, you know. Yeah, let's go hang with Brad and his parents. Of course there's a urinalysis test at the door, and you have to be in dress code...but still...


This was the woman who coerced me into attending a candle party when I first arrived in the neighborhood, and tried for weeks to get me to come to a Bunko game. I think now she's finally figured out I'm some kind of liberal pinko commie new englander freak, with blue toenails and a nutty boyfriend and lots of dandelions in my front yard, so she gives me lots of space.

Happiness Writes White

So what good is it? Let's be sad,
wear melancholy like an old brown sweater
patched at the elbows and smelling of our own funk.
The coffee cups pile up on the little table,
pages turn, electric lights come on --
it would be good to have a dog, you think,
one with grave eyes and an understanding of life,
it would be good

to go down to the docks and watch the freighters
idly listing in the oily water,
to smoke cigarettes and look out at the sea
and then walk home in the gathering evening,
at a measured pace, still hearing the voice of the sea
that speaks to you like a friend, of serious things
so simply and quietly
you barely notice the sky blanch after rain
or the woman coming out of the subway
carrying an immense bouquet of white lilac
wrapped in white tissue paper, like a torch.

- Katha Pollitt

Clams For Peace

This is political activism at its finest.
Thank you Brian for providing the link.

Peace out.

Monday, March 17, 2003


Javier slept through the night last night. 8 straight hours. There is a god.

Good Weekend

Lots of good things...Saturday we went to BookPeople in the morning and there were 3 books on the sale table I wanted. I got Liar's Club by Mary Karr, Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir, and Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell. Then on to our usual brunch at El Sol Y La Luna with Honoria and Knut. Sandy and Cymbe came too. It's becoming a Saturday tradition, this pozole brunch -- who knew I'd be eating hominy grits on a regular basis, and loving it. It's the SXSW Music Festival here in Austin, so South Congress was just teeming with musicians and important looking people with badges, and strange looking people from out of town, and a whole wonderful music vibe was happening. After brunch we went to Mansfield Dam where Brian and Knut flew their planes and Honoria and I watched them. Watched the buzzards catch the thermals, watched the clouds float by, watched the traffic down on the highway, thought about air currents and felt very, very peaceful. Had a nice Italian dinner after that and headed back home.

Sunday morning I stayed in bed until something ridiculous like 10:45 (if you don't count getting up at 4:50 and 8:10 to nurse the baby). Then headed off to yet another brunch with Maida and her mother at Fonda San Miguel, which is just the best fucking brunch on the planet. Their ceviche alone brings tears to my eyes. I only get to go there about twice a year, but DAMN is it good. Maida's mother is too cute for words, too. Later we had our own little family peace vigil -- we lit a candle and took it on the dog walk to the park. (There were people lighting candles and having vigils all over the world tonight, but we weren't in a group hug sort of mood.)

I'm home now, and well fed. And tired. And I've got a lead on a job, so keep your fingers crossed...

Friday, March 14, 2003

Want Some Apple Juice, Little Girl?

I can so completely relate to the flight attendant who spiked a 19 month old girl's apple juice with Xanax on a flight from Amsterdam to New York. Of course it was a really, really bad thing to do. But I can relate. Still, it was a pretty bad career move.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Indulge Me

I just -- finally -- installed a comments program on the blog. So please, if you're a regular visitor or just passing through, don't be a stranger! Identify yourself. And by "identify yourself" I mean tell me your favorite fruit.

Thank you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Poetry and Peace

Coming out of my jobhunting thing for a while, poking around my favorite blogs, and everywhere I go I'm seeing poetry, and this fabulous quote:

"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg Trials April 18, 1946

War Verse

Something there is that sure must love a plane
No matter how many you kill with what kind of
bombs or how much blood you manage to spill
you never will hear the cries of pain

Something there is that sure must love a plane
The pilots are never crazy or mean
and bombing a hospital's quick and it's clean
and how could you call such precision insane?

Something there is that sure must love a plane!

- June Jordan

Monday, March 03, 2003

It's the Oil, Stupid

It's about oil, it's about money, it's NOT about terrorism and it's not (exactly) about weapons. The peace movement, such as it is, needs to change it's tune.

The cry to "Let the inspections work" not only fails to explain Bush's designs for the region, it leaves us with little to say if the Security Council approves war based on Hans Blix's findings.

Speaking of Peaceniks, check out some amusing signs from last week's rally here in Austin. You really need to click on the thumbnails to read them.

End of today's political commentary.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Vive La France!

I was reading this article in the Boston Globe today, while perusing the out of town newspaper section at BookPeople. It's from last Sunday, and I'm too cheap to pay for the Globe archive online services, but here's the teaser they let you read on the web:

(begin quote)

Published on February 23, 2003. Author(s):    FARAH STOCKMAN

A sign of the times? Best Cellars on Boylston Street makes it clear: they are in no way boycotting French wines. They are merely welcoming their customers to taste grape varieties that have been grown outside of France. The idea to highlight non-French selections came after irate customers asked the company to stop selling wine from a country that has turned up its nose at US plans for war in Iraq. A few doors down Boylston Street, the owner of Abe & Louie's Steak House was far less...

(end quote)

Well, that's all the quote you get. But anyway, I'm reading this article and thinking to myself, I'm thinking, what can I do to support the French in the face of this absurdity? And then, by pure serendipity, Brian goes shopping next door at Whole Foods and picks out two French cheeses for us to eat. In fact, it was an entirely French night, since we drank a lovely Cotes-du-Rhone to accompany the cheese. The organic Reblochon was particularly scrumptious.

I only wish I was back home in Boston so I could march on into Best Cellars on Boylston Street and tell them exactly what I think of their lame-ass policy of "suggesting" wines from alternate countries to their customers. Puh-lease.

So get out there, friends, and show your support for France, a voice of reason on the UN Security Council. Get out there and buy some cheese and wine. Stop the war. No, seriously. Wear a beret, while you're at it.