Monday, December 13, 2010

I Bag to Differ

There's a lyric I like from the musical Rent: "Life is short, baby/ Time is flyin'/ I'm looking for baggage/ that goes with mine."

(fyi, this is Mimi responding to Roger when he sings, "No one's perfect/ I've got baggage!" Also fyi, I am deeply sorry about imposing this cheesiness on you.)

At some moments when I mull the future and my heart isn't just filled with gratitude for my good fortune (which has been immense in so many ways), I think of those lyrics.

A caricature of me, at my worst, could resemble a cartoon of a woman who has shopped too much: Dragging around 14 shopping bags and three purses, weighed down by at least three outlandish hat boxes... and a sweating porter in tow who's schlepping several more of her bags and boxes.  (...think maybe Lucy Ricardo after shopping midtown and lunching at the Plaza before being found out and scolded by Ricky?)

But my baggage, of course, isn't a tower of cute hat boxes. It's everything I worry about (including worrying too much). It's whatever has rained down from what a dear and funny friend once dubbed "a sh*t cloud" that, he joked, hangs over me. (He lives amid similar weather conditions, which he bears with a similar sense of humor.) My sh*t rain has been the whole last five years, plus my best friend's recently diagnosed stage IV cancer, and maybe a little other sadness or sordidness.

Back to Mimi and Roger and me. How could anyone not feel daunted to fall in step with someone like me with all that baggage? Not be overwhelmed by it, and even not mind helping carry a little sometimes?

I might have met such a person, who himself appears to lug a mere, stylish carry-on bag. A person who seems caring and fun and smart and not intimidated. I'm not one to cross bridges before I come to them. But, at this moment, it feels like maybe I've glimpsed something like the start of a nice little rainbow. Of the standard, vivid ROY G. BIV variety - no matter what kind of cloud precipitated it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I can't believe it: I finally have another baby, and I'm neglecting it!

Okay, it's just a baby blog; and it's certainly preferable that I neglect that "baby" than my real, beautiful six-year-old "baby" girl. Still, I don't want to leave my precious readers empty-handed. (Empty-eyeballed?)

So my humble but delicious offering is the recommendation of this book: Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar..., subtitled Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes - by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein.

It's essentially a silly version of Philosophy 101, a breezy introduction to the subject, with all ideas illustrated by jokes. Some of the jokes are really, really funny. Many are terrible groaners - terrible in the way that only jokes can be terrible, yet still be good. I laughed out loud a lot, which doesn't usually happen when I'm reading. ( one might imagine, considering I tend to favor the likes of Hamlet. Ha!)

Here's a one-liner from the book, on the subject of ethics:
A sadist is a masochist who follows the Golden Rule.

Another quickie:
Secretary: Doctor, there's an invisible man in the waiting room.
Doctor: Tell him I can't see him.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving! If a chuckle isn't something to thankful for, I don't know what is.

With sincere gratitude for you, dear Reader,
Lady MacBeff

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tip Me Over and Pour Me Out

So... (master of transitions, I am!)....
I began to blog recently, with half a decade of churning thoughts and emotions and a w i l d l y unbalanced sleep budget synthesizing to spawn in my mind reams of blog-ready rants (or posts, if you prefer less alliteration).

Now in the meantime, something nice veryveryvery suddenly and unexpectedly happened. It is a total surprise to me. And it's been making the Sweet seep in ever so slightly deeper and determinedly squeezing out little drops of Bitter and Salty. A teensy vent has been tapped (gently) into, and a wee stream of steam's been released. (For now. If, like the little teapot, I get all steamed up again, you'll hear me shout.)

But for now, in the way a GPS is forced awkwardly to re-calculate the route if you make an unexpected turn, I feel like my creative m.o. unexpectedly is in a little phase of disorientation and adjustment.

(And no, I won't go into the details: I will leave everyone to work out for him/herself what I might possibly be talking about. And there's no extra credit for showing the work if you try to solve the equation.)

Incidentally, last night I got to do something I've had my eye on for years; namely dine at a restaurant that is the only Basel item in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. If you run into me and catch me with a moony expression on my face, I may be recalling how exquisitely the red wine tangoed with the rucola-pimento polenta. So ridiculously wonderful... sigh.....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lifting Curses

When something bad happens, sometimes you can't help feeling you have rotten luck. It's probably crossed your mind if, say, you've ever missed your bus and it was raining so hard and you forgot your umbrella. Let alone if you've lost your job or your baby or your husband crashes into an Alp or some other tragedy occurs. Sometimes a string of trouble seems to follow, and it all feels connected. Sometimes it makes you feel alone, like an alien freak. Or like you're cursed.
(Note: Those feelings are not to be confused with rational thought, and do not call for any form of metholodolgical disputation.)

Writing, joking even halfheartedly or full-blown laughing about it can help 'take off the curse.'

That's been darting through my mind for the last five years - since I read Christopher Reeve's autobiography, Still Me - shortly after Oli's spill. Christopher Reeve was the iconic Superman movie star and became quadriplegic when he had a horseback riding accident.  

On his first major venture from the rehab center after his accident, propped in his new, hulking electric wheelchair and loaded with breathing equipment, Christopher Reeve went to a huge event where he would have to speak. Upon seeing him, people applauded, then fell silent. Who knows - they were frightened, embarrrassed, sad, awash with pity?

But the comedian Robin Williams was an old friend and joined Superman on stage. He started joking about the wheelchair, telling people to beware in case Reeve lost control of the wheelchair and popped a wheelie into the audience; joked that the breathing tube was a fashionable new kind of necktie. He lifted the curse, as Superman wrote, and people could exhale, laugh, talk, maybe ask questions. Phew. 

Blogging may be one way of dispelling our curse.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

i Am a Star (or not)

Before returning to the hairy tales of the online love connection scene, which seem to have aroused some curiosity, here are a few thoughts on... why the blog and why now?
It's something I've contemplated for a while. When we were moving to Switzerland in '05, I had already set up a blog to recount our anticipated Alp-and-dairy-filled expat adventures to family and friends. Since Oliver's mishap, too, I've occasionally mulled blogging. I am a writer, but lost without an audience or a deadline.

Most importantly, in a perfect world, my scrawls could help people who are feeling lonely or lost in somewhat similar situations, looking for someone who might understand*; or maybe even help me forge connections with others who could somehow relate to what I/we have been going through.

But why now, after so long? After so long... partly because I don't do anything without torturing myself for at least 12 months by wondering whether I should do it or not!

But I may also have pinpointed another motivation. The surprising conjecture is that... I maybe can trace my sudden blogaciousness to... the acquisition of my iThang. (Yes, this would be the same new iPod Touch that busted its keyboard after just a couple weeks - unleashing its maniacal auto-spell checker, and thus making me blog about Flemish rugby beetles in conjunction with my (non)lovelife.)

Perhaps, I think, the iThing has made me more self-centered. Or at least, more prone to translating my thoughts into narrative. With the iPod, my life suddenly has a soundtrack. The sound is so good and cloaks my brain in mostly handpicked songs, so I walk around feeling like I'm in a movie starring... yours truly, of course. I get in character a little, like last week: Lots of Clash songs made me get all jaunty, maybe even a touch more smartassical than usual. (Dangereuse!) I do not know if this is just a freakcake thing, or if other earbudded heads out there feel the same? The old Walkman, or Discman, just didn't have this effect.

But even as I shutter out the universe a bit by plugging my ears with little buds, this blog is meant to open my window to the world a little wider. C'mon in, world. Let the communing begin!
*Please feel free to share the blog/ invite others to subscribe if you know anyone who might appreciate it....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh My Electronic Darling

Internet dating. OMG.

Don't get me wrong; it's fine in principle. It's prevalent and probably really the best way to meet people in many ways, nowadays. It even seems like it could be a little fun, in a Facebook-kind of way.

I guess, to be quite honest, that I just "have a bad attitude" (to use a phrase that rings through our apartment at some point every day - often around bedtime). In many ways, I still don't feel "ready." Even if I've already been living on my own for 10 months, and essentially without man for more than half a decade. During my 30's. Ugh. I still miss the old O and still want the old life back. But obviously it's not gonna happen.

And I've noticed people starting to ask, directly or indirectly, if I ever meet "Anyone?" Am I feeling Ready? Are there any Men at work? (HA - women didn't even get the right to vote in Switzerland until the 1970's. What Swiss workplace doesn't have men?) Or people ask if I ever think about meeting Someone or dating again. (DUH. How could I not think about that???)

Of course it's lonely sometimes. When I see certain images - say, Mr. Darcy or Mark Darcy bestowing his smouldering look on his leading lady - I feel a stab in my heart. Will anyone ever look at me like that again? Will I find anyone I'd want to look at like that? (I'm talkin' Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice OR Bridget Jones' Diary, people. Sigh.)

But at the same time, I feel a teensy bit as if I've just scuttled out after years of human bondage. I'm not blind to the upside of eating cereal for dinner, listening to Christmas music as many months out of the year as pleases me, wearing pajamas at any time and generally doing at home what I want when I want. Being on my own is harder in many ways, but it can be easier, too. I AM the boss of me.

On the other hand, it's perhaps a tad unhealthy to settle into the life of a hermit (or a nun!) at this age. Settle being the operative word. Maybe I won't be able to reverse the hermit condition if I wait much longer?! My natural introversion probably makes the danger more accute.

So... on a sleepless night like many others, when exhaustion was making me loopier by the hour, I clicked around the Web and found an acceptable-looking local online dating site in German. Then - exceeding my wildest hopes - I even found a Swiss site in English! And so the free trials began.

I will continue the story next time, shedding light on the sometimes absurd netherworld I discovered from the moment I signed up. For the time being, I will leave you with two tidbits:
1. The first or second most painful profile description I've read from the men who have invited me for chats (so many - more on that next time!). It goes like this, with no embellishment: "i m a simple man." [sic] Ack!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

p.s. Why I'm A Swell Girl

For the record, this is a wink to my father, who was born on the same day in October as this blog. (That was about eight decades earlier, though, and probably in a less irony-filled atmosphere.)

One year - in the fifties, I think - his mother was too busy on his birthday and sent my (future) dad to pick up his own cake from the baker's. He came home with a cake frosted to his liking. It said, "You're a Swell Guy, Bob!"

So, you see, swellness runs in our family.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A QWERTY Freakcake

I had planned quite an interesting entry to inaugurate this blog, believe you me! The exposition would have given a quick rundown of my story (husband crashed hangglider in the Alps, I'm raising our girl Li'l G, etc.). It could have led to an account of the bizarre underworld I entered after a trial sign-up at two Internet dating sites this week.

Also, tentatively I might have segued to how I came to be called a Freakcake this week. (This little gem of an insult might have been spewed with a tiny scrap of affection, maybe not; but it doesn't matter. THANK YOU, UNIVERSE, FOR BRINGING THE WORD FREAKCAKE INTO MY LIFE.)

Anyway, back to my first blog post: Change of plans. I am now feeling too QWERTY after I tried to compose the post on my new iGadget. Suddenly the T, G and V keys didn't work. So auto-spell correction kicked in. And what I got was a whole new perspective. I'll share an excerpt:

In the yes I have been sad mad lonely in denial and Thor well it's re dor se lobe and fun again! Which brings me ro web daring.
IRS hood fund and dine. Done her wrong. Buy it purs a big lump my belly to face it. I can't stop yhinling of Flemish rugby beetles. All the peoe who feel they're missing seyhomhsybe the best thing on earth. .... And I'd they Sony hey this right theyihhy never hey it. One night likesall I Cosby sleep.

Thank you, Apple! I couldn't have put it better myself.