Monday, August 29, 2005

Did Moody Really Say He Hates Tomatoes?

Rick Moody cracked me up with his "This I Believe" essay on Morning Edition today. As one friend noted, his intonations were so seemingly random it was a bit kooky. Leave it to an RA to get all fired up about hating tomatoes which, BTW, are one of the only real reasons to survive the hottest dregs of summer - tomato sandwiches to be more specific. Did he really say he hated tomatoes? I don't recall him saying this.

I did find it humourous that he mentioned that Umberto Eco book which talks about the "thwarted reader" I once got thrown out of a workshop for laughing so hard at (remember, I wrote about that?). What a ridiculous term. And, HEAR! HEAR! - there is, in fact, no one right way to read a book. Although that's a rather obvious "insight", isn't it?

I'm not picking on Moody, really. I liked his essay.

Say Ms. Laura this weekend. Lots of good catching up and witty banter. It's so wonderful to see dear, old friends. Hey, Brun, she got a big kick out of that baby-sitting line too and sends prayers for your health, as well. You know you always have mine.

Well, the libray is closing down.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Such a Ducky Job???

Okay, I received a really mean email today and rather than strike back, I sent the following which I'm posting because I've sent snarky emails and been the recipient, as well. There's a lesson in here. I'm posting this so I'll can try not to repeat that mistake and, also, so I'll keep trying to listen in our hurry-scurry world. Oh yeah, clearly I'm show-boating too. Didn't I do such a ducky job of taking the high road. Didn't I just admit that so now it's okay? Ain't that Meg's picture back in the big brain machine on her blog? Is she live? Is she memorex? Is this self-parady or has she really snapped her cap this time?

Nah....still got that red wheel barrow holding me firmly in the now.

context: I was told it was "stupid" to care or dwell on anyone from my past.

We learn not to repeat the same mistakes over and over, I believe, not by pretending they did not happen but staring them straight in the eye w/ as much courage as we can muster and acknowleging our own culpability. Of course, sometimes we just get screwed and need a friend to vent to. It's the later where one generally finds a truly compassionate heart - 'cause that's the hardest thing of all to do - just listen w/ out judgment.

Be well,


Monday, August 22, 2005

Great Timing Too

So last week was weird and today had a fairly rocky start but then I got the library and received a lovely quotation from my Source editor, Claudia - how many writers are that fortunate? - and an equally kind acceptance of a repayment schedule on a debt of nearly 10 years. Oh yes, my friend Andy also sent along some beautiful translations of a few Bengalai (sp?) poems he's been working on.

Saturday night I had dinner with a women who has recently moved to town from DC. We had a few things in common and a nice conversation. Both of us have worked as lobbyists in DC and grew weary of the bullshit and, frankly, how many people in Congress are just not so bright. In my case, I felt as if I become too phony, as well. Fortunately, she got out before that happened to her.

She's a big fan of Henry Waxman. I'll have to keep an eye on him. It was great timing too. I had recently had a coffee table returned to me for which I had no storage space or us and she needed a coffee table! My land lady wanted it off of the porch. Man, it's great when that happens. It was a three person swap.

Gotta go see my doc.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Does Hugh Have Any Brothers

It's been a weird week. Truly, that's about all I can say about it. One step up and three steps back. I can't wait to read the Frannie's little book on Progress. Has it been 2 months yet - smile?

Speaking of reading, I finally got my hands on a copy of Sedaris' last book and I love it. I heard a number of people complain about it when it came out because it was less humorous than his prior work and too earnest. Hey, I like good satire as much as the next girl but you can't live on the stuff. The essays in "Denim and Corduroy" are just so, well, grown up. Man, it happens to the best of us. As a Raleigh native mee-own-self, I say way to go dearest David. BTW, does Hugh have any straight brothers?

Monday, August 15, 2005


i guess the chiquita banana folks did not appreciate the fact that i was trying to give them free advertising. sorry. i've always loved that chick.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Do the Swap

There was an article in yesterday's V Voice about folks getting together and swapping clothes and other stuff. Apparently Oprah did a show about hoarding as some sort of form of OCD, so getting rid of stuff is all the rage. Not certain if swapping actually qualifies as geting rid of things - think about that for a minute -but it's a far better option than going out shopping for even more crap.

They used to call this community, I think. Anyway, defy the lords of commercialism - get together and SWAP.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Definite Suffering Other

I just added a link to The Soma Review. Lots of smart, critically minded writing on religon, faith and spirituality. My favorite piece is the one on "agape" by Mary Beth Crain. If you want to check it out, click on the link. At the home page, go to bottom right and hit the "more features" link. The Crain essay I'm refering to is from June 2. Love her insight and honesty. While Mary Beth may not be the bodhisatva her friend the nun is, she is someone who can see, admire and rejoice in another who has transcended the illusion of the concept of the other. Plus, she takes the time tell us about it and does it so damn well. Sweet. Another positive role model for me - a definite suffering other.

Smartest of the Bunch

Okay, The NY Restaurant Association proposal reported below is a little nuts, in my opinion. I'm a big proponent of eating well. I drink clean water, eat lots of veggies, use butter rather than margarine (when I can afford to) and try to go about being a good citizen of the earth. Still, this sort of legislation brings to mind the mandate which so many of us who have fought the "get out of our bedroom nazis" for years - KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF OUR BODIES.

Restaurants are perfectly capable of informing customers of what goes into their offerings and advertising accordingly. We consumers are perfectly free to choose where we want to dine and what we put in our bodies. You got a lot of experts in the piece below but the smartest of the bunch is Brooklyn waitress Karen Quam.

I read this report and this awful image kept running through my head. I was hungry and tired w/ my hand on my forehead, wrist bent and palm out. I had no idea what to eat. There was a cartoon caption over my head and it read, "Oh, Big Brother, tell me what to do, feed me, please?"

N.Y. Wants Trans Fats Off Restaurant Menus

NEW YORK - New York City wants restaurants to narrow their list of ingredients — and maybe some waistlines — by cutting out trans fats. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the voluntary change could also help fight the city's biggest killer, heart disease.

To comply, chefs would have to dump many margarines and frying oils, and possibly reworking long-held recipes for baked goods.

The New York State Restaurant Association supports the effort, Executive Vice President E. Charles Hunt said in a health department release Wednesday.

The fats, found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, raise diners' chance of developing heart disease in much the same way that saturated meat and dairy fats do, raising overall and bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol, American Heart Association President Robert Eckel said in the release.

The Food and Drug Administration has already targeted trans fats. Nationwide, all foods containing the chemically modified oils must be labeled beginning next January.

Some workers and diners were skeptical of the city plan.

"Labeling is as far as you want to go. You don't want to be telling people what to eat," Brooklyn waitress Karen Quam told The New York Times.

The city's request came two years after it outlawed smoking in bars, restaurants and offices, citing concerns about the ill effects of secondhand smoke.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Figured It Out

I've finally "figured out" how to do links. Did you notice? Mostly, I've put up sites of friends, old and new, or places I frequent or believe in - stay tuned.

God bless him - he's a class act in so many ways. Check out Exquiste Corpse (Andrei's Thing) and read "from the chair". Working hard, dealing with loss, caring for our friends and keeping a sense of humor. All good things.

Stay cool. It's hot as hell - laughing.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

New Manners Column

Be sure to pick up The Iowa Source at your favorite Coffee shop, book seller, gallery or grocer; or go online to where you can archive my column and check out a couple of my food articles! In its 21st year at the beginning of the 21st century, TIC has one of the kindest editor's I've ever written for.

Dear Meg,

My friend, Tom, has a new girlfriend who's a hardcore vegan. Tom used to come over for dinner often, but now I'm afraid to invite him with his girlie because I'm not a big vegan chef or anything. Do I have to cook a special vegan meal for her, in order to invite him/them over? I miss seeing Tom and would like to get to know his new flame. Help?


Dear Laurel,

Help? Sure thing, just as long as I don't get stuck doing the dishes - smile. This is not an uncommon predicament these days with so many people on special diets. Having a few friends over for dinner and coming up with a menu that will satisfy everyone can feel so overwhelming, a lot of folks decide to skip the whole shebang and just go out to a nice restaurant. Not a bad option as options go, but the cost of this can add up pretty quickly especially if you subscribe to the old manners dictum that when you do the inviting it's your responsibility to offer to pick up the check. I think this rule is lovely in theory but is dependent upon the circumstances.

My advice is to go ahead and prepare whatever meal you might normally whip up for an evening with Tom making sure you have some kind of whole grain and some nice steamed or sauteed veggies to serve. Most vegans are more than happy to be accommodated in this fashion. Heck, they're often thrilled not to be desperately searching through someone's cupboards for saltines, canned corn or an old jar of pimentos. If you choose the grain & veggie route, you are being considerate without going overboard and taxing yourself needlessly.

Hmmm, am I nuts or would a saltine topped with corn and a dollop of pimento not make a fairly rockin' ad hoc appetizer? Maybe a little garlic and fresh thyme? I'm thinking late 50's suburban hip with a splash of nuevo-cuisine and the enviro-friendly consciousness of vegan-ism would make one heck of a great 21st century dinner party.

Hey, Laurel, one last thing on your question. Last Thanksgiving, Dave Burt, one of the owners of Iowa City's only all organic vegetarian restaurant, the Red Avocado, made a point in an interview that I quite liked. He noted that some vegetarians and vegans are well-mannered enough that when dining at another’s home they eat a little of everything - meat, dairy or whatever - because not to do so would be an insult to their host or hostess. Nice point on the dangers of being overly rigid about anything and acknowledging that courtesy is a two-way street between hosts and those being hosted.

I can't wait to hear how the dinner goes and what you think about Tom's new "girlie". Thanks for writing.



Dear Meg,

I've been married for 7 years and my wife just joined one of those hyper-strict evangelical fundamentalist churches. All of a sudden she has gotten really preachy on me, expects me to go with her to church and stop hanging out with my buddies from work. I think her church is just weird. They play with snakes, speak in tongues and do all kinds of stuff that kind of freaks me out. To top it off, I'm desperately afraid of snakes. Plus, I'm a Jew. I love my wife but I'm stumped. What should I do?


Dear Abe,

Hey, it takes a mighty big man to admit a fear of snakes. I'm impressed. Your wife's new church sounds fascinating to me but I've never found snakes all that terrifying. Now millipedes, on the other hand, those little buggers will send me running to the bathroom and crying like a baby for my mother everytime. I hate to kill anything but I've been known to smack a rolled up copy of Bust on one of those hagazoids with little remorse.

Any chance you could attend church with your beloved and view the journey as a kind of sociological experiment or an experience of what philosopher William James referred to as the "educational variety"? You never know what you might find there and it would be good manners to humor your wife a bit.

It's difficult when someone we care about gets all caught up in something we find kooky but it is wrong of her to expect you to stop hanging out with your old friends and adjust to her new beliefs and standards. That's the problem with evangelicalism in any arena. It's fundamentally (!) rude to attempt to force anyone to change their behavior unwillingly. I'll be cc-ing this reply to the White House, BTW.

There are many happy couples in the world who practice different faiths or one is a believer and one is not. The bottom line is respect and acceptance, Abe. Hopefully, if you don't end up being "down" with your wife's new church, she will stop trying to convert you. If not, it sounds as if she is in some sort of cult and I'm not qualified to counsel you on this. Love and tolerance ought to be the code of any decent faith-based organization. Feel free to quote me on that. In the meantime, watch out for those snakes. Both Jung and Freud had some interesting theories on that fear.

Best of luck,


Monday, August 08, 2005

Sincerely, Preston

This is too funny not to share....a total non-response response.

Dear Meg,

Thank you for contacting NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday about what you're reading this summer.

We are grateful for your thoughts and are always delighted to hear from listeners. As the primary news source for millions of Americans, NPR constantly strives to fulfill its obligation to public service.

Your comments help us to accomplish this goal.

Thank you again for listening to Weekend Edition Sunday, and for your continued support of public broadcasting. For the latest news andinformation, visit


NPR Services

Being Free is Not Nearly Enough

Oh dear, parody - that's how you spell it. Blogger should add an editorial service. Being free is just not nearly enough these days. It's like all these credit card offers that come ad naseum nowadays. Let's keep saying no until one of 'em starts offering to pay us interest. We need to put our collective feet DOWN. Debtor nation, indeed.

So if anyone actually reads this thing on a regular basis, I hope a few of you got the joke on the WWN post. Love those kooky cats at my favorite paper - rip those gender role stereotypes right open.

Some poor tweaking fool posing as a cab driver drove me home from work. He had meth tattoed on his knuckles and was bug-eyed, jumpy and itchy (literally - he couldnt stop scratching himself.) I asked him to chill, try to get me home safely and told him that everything was going to be okay. I lied to him, really. A small fib to the suffering bastard because I have no idea what will happen to him. Given the growing intolerance of our present administration and the lack of treatment options for anyone lacking health insurance, his options looked pretty bleak to me.

Yep, he needs treatment, empathy, decent food and a little help. In other words, even if the treatment were free it wouldn't be nearly enough but it would be a G-damn start!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I'm Okay, You Might Be

stolen outright from the Weekly World News

for those of you who not hep to WWN, it's a gas. it's paradoy, dear readers. did i just spell paradoy wrong? it looks way wrong. i seem to recall a time when i could spell.....


EVER feel like you and your partner are speaking two different languages? That's because you are, says a leading psychiatrist.

Researcher Dr. Wilfred Winky is the author of the new book What The Heck Are You Talking About?, which sheds new light on the communication problems plaguing couples today.

Here is a sample of Winky's conclusions:

Translation of commonly used women's phrases:

•We need. = I want.
•It's your decision. = The correct decision should be obvious because I already explained it to you.
•Do what you want. = You'll pay for this later.
•This kitchen is so inconvenient. = I want a new house.
•I'm not upset. = Of course I'm upset, you jackass.
• I'll be ready in a minute. = Kick off your shoes and find a good game on TV.
•We have to learn to communicate. = Just agree with me.
•Is my butt fat? = Tell me I'm beautiful. Translation of commonly used men's phrases:
•I'm hungry. = I'm hungry.
• I'm sleepy. = I'm sleepy.
•I'm tired. = I'm tired.
•Do you want to go to a movie? = I'd eventually like to have sex with you.
•Can I take you to dinner? = I'd eventually like to have sex with you.
•May I have this dance? = I'd eventually like to have sex with you.
•I love you. = Let's have sex now.
•I'm bored. = Let's have sex now.
•Let's talk. = I am trying to impress you by showing you what a deep person I am so you will have sex with me.
•Will you marry me? = I want to make it illegal for you to have sex with other guys.

Published on: 08/04/2005

Generosity of Spirit (keyword: gene?)

or Meg's alternative to BUST magazine's "MEN WE LOVE" Aug/Sept Issue (speaking of which - standouts are Chuck D and Spike Jonze.)

The Volunteers
by Peter Matthiessen

My blind son Lucas commutes each day by train and subway, changing trains at Jamaica on a round trip of almost four hours between East Northport, Long Island, and Brooklyn, where he runs a clinic for drug and alcohol addiction. In early September of this year, he had lost his Seeing-Eye dog to an unexpected cancer and until the dog could be replaced had been obliged to change trains and navigate rail platforms and rough neighborhoods with a white cane. Always in need of a break by the weekend, he was mildly dismayed on the first Sunday after September 11 when his twelve-year old son informed him that he wished to go that day to the disaster site at the World Trade Center to see what he could do to help.

Patiently Luke suggested to the child that such a journey would be in vain, since volunteers were no longer welcome at the site. But Joe was adamant, and the more his father listened, the clearer it became that he must honor his child's decision. A few years earlier, Luke's older boy had been run over and killed on the street in front of their house, and although no link has been established, Joe can be emotional and sometimes difficult. He can also be startlingly sweet and gentle, and in the end, his father was so touched by his impulse and moved by his determination that instead of pleading for his day off, he said, All right, let's go! And away they went by train to New York City.

Arriving on the subway from Penn Station at Canal Street, this well-intentioned pair was met by a blue line of police. Taken aback by a man with a white cane and a little boy guiding his elbow, the cops were naturally incredulous, and wasted no time sending them on their way. But seeing them start north again, one officer, touched, called after them that if they were serious, they could go register at the Jacob Javits Center on West 34th Street, where rescue efforts were being coordinated. I'll try to find you guys a ride, he said, and soon he did, flagging down a building inspector who was headed uptown and providing the delighted boy with an official escort.

At the Javits Center, the staff proved unwilling to expose a child to the grim atmosphere, but when his father took responsibility, saying Joe was serious and could handle it, the two were put to work at once in the medical personnel section, assembling "care packages" for the firemen, police, and other rescue workers - eye drops, throat lozenges, moist tissues for wiping the face, aspirin, granola bars and the like. Luke's hands quickly learned the separate items, and the two had assembled quite a stack when a police captain came over and asked Joe, Was this your idea, Son? When Joe acknowledged shyly that it was, the officer said, Well, you're the youngest volunteer I've seen here and my hat's off to you. And he actually doffed his cap, reported Joe, with a proud smile in his voice which his father felt sure had lit up the whole room.

Meanwhile, a shift of iron workers from Ground Zero had arrived, and one man came straight to the medical group to request an aspirin. Hearing the precarious tone of this man's voice, Luke identified himself as a trained social worker and asked the man if it would help to talk. In tears, the man blurted, I've got to go home, I can't go back there! Apparently ashamed of his own frailty in the face of the dreadful conditions of his mission, he had wandered away, all but incoherent.

Even so, Luke felt grateful for the chance to offer help, and walking back to Penn Station that afternoon, he thanked his son for his excellent idea, saying, "That was one of the most worthwhile Sundays I have ever spent."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Our Business of Being Human

Okay. I really don't like the updated log-on window at the library. The old window had a certain elegance and simplicity about it. This one is too busy and modern. In other words, far too emblematic of our go-go times. Given the fact these cats see fit to provide me with free computer and internet access, I suppose I won't go on about this unfortunate update beyond this line.

I watched the film version of Anne Tyler's A Slipping Down Life the other night which reminded me of a funny "foot in the mouth" story. I'm a mistress of these verbal blunders but this blunder is another's. When I was catering and personal cheffing a trillion years ago in Baltimore (the "Meg Does Food" years), I had a client named Joni F. She was a kind woman who, incidentally, lived in one of the most beautifully decorated houses I'd ever been fortunate enough to work in. I mention this because she had out-foxed a local literary God on the place who was not exactly known for his refined sensibilites in this arena. Anywho, bless dear Joni, I got to house sit for her often as well.

In her mid-forties, Joni decided to start writing plays and performing them. She wrote one, painted her own stage (it was quite impressive), built all the props and went about the business of staging the entire production of her debut. She did this all in her own dining room which was converted into a mini-theater. She brought in girl scout troops and residents of retirement centers to perform for. I popped in for a show. It was a delightful meditation on recognizing the good that may already be right in front of you.

A month or so after the play's run, Joni attended one of those little ladies luncheons for some charity in Roland Park. She found herself seated next to a quiet, rather shy woman about her same age. She asked the woman what she did and her dining neighbor replied, "Oh, I'm just a writer". My former client proceeded to tell her how great that was and if she just kept at it and maybe someday she might be as successful as she (JF) had recently been. The woman nodded graciously, thanked Joni very enthusiastically for the encouragement and went back to eating her cucumber and watercress sandwich. A friend later pulled her into the kitchen to explain the absurdity of the situation.

Good 'ol Joni she laughed at herself for a long time after that. She was smart enough to recognize true class when she encountered it. The last time I saw her she was sneaking into a TCBY inside the Rotunda Mall across from an American Crafts Gallery where I was working part-time. I was standing outside sneaking a smoke. We both knew we'd just "made" one another. At one point in time, both of us had sworn off dairy, sugar and tobacco. We just nodded at each other, smiled and went on with our business of being human.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Meditation Beating Out Sex

This is one of the funniest things I've taken note of in a while (okay for at least 2 hours.) I just submitted something to and as I was logging out, I noticed that the two most searched for topics among America's neoliberal propoganda listening elite (obviously this writer is guilty on occasion) are "meditation" and "sex" in that order. Might be interesting to watch this for a few days and see if mediatation keeps it's lead.

BTW, I'm just posting this news. I find it not only humorous but downright delightful.