Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Causes for Tears

Things that have made me cry in the past week:

Geena Davis becoming President on "Commander in Chief"

Wallace and Gromit in "Curse of the Wererabbit"

The ending of "Hook" where Robin Williams (as Peter Pan) flies home with his children

Sara Sherr explaining that she and her boyfriend got back together after being broken up, and that they've been happy together ever since

The ending of Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons

Certain long-distance carrier commercials

Monday, September 26, 2005

Port Arthur, TX update

My dad's hometown is Port Arthur, TX, one of the towns hardest hit by Hurricane Rita. One of my uncles still lives there, in my grandmother's house; the other uncle lives in Dallas. Here's what my Dallas uncle wrote today about my Port Arthur uncle:

Uncle J did not get out in time and had to ride it out in a shelter there in Port Arthur. The shelter took a direct hit and everyone was ordered to leave. He said (actually an emergency worker relayed this to me ) that he walked several miles back to our home on the West Side. There was street flooding, but the house was OK.

There are no utilities and no gasoline in the town for now. Officials predict that it will take 3-4 weeks to get basic water, electric, gas, and phones up and working. Even cell phones don't work -- except for outgoing calls. Officials are not letting people return or even pass through at this point. So it is anybody's guess.

My only memory of my grandmother's house is that it is built really high off the ground; I suppose it's because of flooding, since Port Arthur is on the Gulf coast. The area was once called the Gold Coast, amazingly.

I am sending a whole lot of stuff down to Port Arthur today for hurricane relief, and I am eagerly awaiting news of Uncle J. I know his son is safe in Dallas. I can't believe this weather is so destructive. When will the Bush administration admit that some of this hurricane problem is due to global warming, and wise up on its environmental policies?

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Congratulations, Jordan Ellenberg and Tanya Schlam!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Things I hate about Philly

Today, there is shit on my roof.

There is a roof ledge outside my apartment, that I see when I walk down the hallway. Today, it is covered in many, many white-wrapped packets of actual feces.

I just called the maintenance guy, Big Lou. A transcript of the conversation:

Mer: "Lou, it's Mer in 4A. There's shit on my roof."
Lou: "What?"
Mer: "There's shit on my roof."
Lou: "What?"
Mer: "There's actual feces on my roof."
Lou: "I'll be there in a minute."

[Lou arrives, looking grim.]

Mer: "Hi! Check this out." [directs Lou to window. Both peer out.] "You thought I was kidding, didn't you. But there's really crap all over the roof." [a long silence while Lou looks out various windows and attempts to deduce where the feces originated from] "It kind of looks like it fell. See where the screen fell out? The screen didn't have stuff on it before."
Lou: "There's a guy in 6[x] there was a problem with before; he was throwing his dog's shit out the window."
Mer: "You're kidding."
Lou: "Nope."
Mer: "Why have a dog, if you're not going to walk it?"
Lou: "That's what I'm saying! Know how I found out he was doing it? I was standing on the sidewalk one day when he threw it out. Looks like the guy is right above you."

Lou is now talking with my disgusting neighbor. I look forward to the resolution of the issue. I do not look forward to the cleanup. I also have no intention of engaging in any cleanup efforts.

Take This Class

There are only a few spots left in my fall class, Alternatives to the Memoir. It's about having adventures and writing about them. Sign up now! Here's the deal:

In this class, we will explore literary nonfiction -- also called creative nonfiction, literary journalism, or narrative nonfiction -- taking real-life events and turning them into a coherent, compelling story. This workshop/seminar will focus on combining facts and observations to create compelling nonfiction. We will discuss essential techniques like interviewing and researching, and we will discuss the ethics of reporting. We will apply the tools of fiction to nonfiction, and we will examine the way writers employ plot, character, mood, and pacing in magazines like The New Yorker or Harper's. We will discuss biography, autobiography, travel writing, and prose that defies categorization. This class is for adventurous writers, polemicists, journalists, essayists, memoirists, and anyone who has ever observed a situation and thought it would make a great story. Students may bring their own work for critique.

5 Thursdays: Sept. 22-Oct. 27, 2005 (skip Oct. 13)
6:30 - 8:30pm

Join Me for Lunch

Today, in celebration of 25 years of Amish merchants at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, prices are rolled back to 1980 levels.

Did you know that french fries were only $0.50 in 1980?

Apparently Delilah's Southern Cuisine is having a special that involves chicken wings and strawberry lemonade. I am so there.

Our new apartment is very near the Terminal, so I've begun going there a couple of times a week. It feels very retro, going and doing the marketing at farm stands and such. I haven't been to a supermarket in a couple of weeks. Of course, there isn't a supermarket nearby that I could go to if I wanted to.

It's been a hippie summer. We joined a farm co-op and we get fresh veggies delivered from the farm every week. I do the marketing at the Amish market stands, and we just joined Philly Car Share instead of buying a new car. Next thing you know, I'll be growing sprouts in empty yogurt containers.

When I was a kid, I was allergic to dairy and sugar and peanuts and a whole host of other tasty things. So, my mom went on this huge 1970s health kick, and eliminated all sugar, white flour, food dye, and artificial ingredients from the household diet. Not only was I prohibited from eating sugary cereal, I couldn't have milk on my healthy cereal-- I had to eat apple juice on my cereal. Have you ever heard of anything so cruel? I mean, Mom was a great cook and everything, but it was a brutal couple of years there.

Mom's friends used to sometimes sneak me things like hot dogs or buttered white toast. Not often, though, because she'd be mad when she found out.

Naturally, by the time my brothers were born (8 and 10 years after me), Mom was too exhausted to bake all of the family's bread every Friday, so my brothers didn't have to endure the health food regime. They even got to eat Cheetos. Where is the justice in the world?

Monday, September 05, 2005

New Orleans

Friends, relatives, loved ones in Louisiana: I send you all my thoughts and prayers.