Double Espresso?

Top Five Better Vice Presidents Than Paul Ryan

On Saturday, Bland White Dude in Waiting Mitt Romney announced super-aggressive youngster Paul Ryan as his running mate in the 2012 presidential election. Ryan’s platform of hard-core Catholicism, guns are great, gays are bad, women don’t matter, and fruitcake ideas about how to manage our budget aside, I would not have chosen Ryan as my running mate if I were Mitt. Why? Because he could have done better. That’s all I’m saying.

Top Five Better Vice Presidents Than Paul Ryan

1. Michael Phelps. Right?? I know!

The only job of the Veep, besides hiding a hopeful grin whenever POTUS trips on the carpet, is breaking a tie in the Senate, and Phelps wouldn’t ever let it get to a tie in the first place. He’d either hand them their asses out of the starting blocks or he’d out-touch them at the wall with that albatross wingspan of his. I have no idea what that means in the Senate, but I guarantee you this: Phelps is gonna win whatever it is hands down. That is one winningest motherfucker and Romney needs a piece of that action.

2. A gun. Admittedly this choice would upset some people, but those people weren’t going to vote for Romney anyway. Bonus: the Take Our Country Back-ers who’ve been on the fence about the Mitt-ster would be so excited to see someone they recognize up there on the campaign float next to the horse-owning, boat-sailing, northeastern millionaire that they don’t. A shiny Smith & Wesson would do the job. No need for an actual assault rifle. That would just be dangerous and unnecessary overkill, right? No? Oh. OK. Sorry.

3. Sarah PalinIf you thought she was a surprising pick for McCain, imagine how surprised everyone would be if Romney picked her too. I for one LOVE a good, heart-attack-inducing, no fucking way surprise.

Romney’s campaign could use a jolt of the paddles to the chest and Palin could be it. She’s still super maverick-y on things like basic facts and what’s an appropriate use of Facebook and – bonus! – she doesn’t have any pesky un-vetted secrets anymore now that Bristol’s got her own show and Levi’s shown his, um, colors in Playgirl.

Besides, 30 Rock is coming up on its last season, so we all could use a little more Tina Fey in our lives.

4. RafalcaRoy Rogers had Trigger, The Lone Ranger had Silver and Mitt Romney has Rafalca. I know a horse is kind of a stretch for the vice presidency, but come on: it’s a dancing horse. That shit is Uh. Mazing.

I know Rafalca’s been a bit of a Richie Rich problem for Romney, so putting her on the ticket would be the ballsy, call out the haters move. Plus, she’s a girl, so he might win some ladies back to his side. Or some twelve-year-old girls.

While we’re on the subject, I honestly can’t fathom why Romney won’t just release his tax returns: with a dancing horse and a car elevator, we all know he’s just one chocolate waterfall away from Willy Wonka wealth, so he should just post his, “I’m a crafty, paid-no-taxes bastard,” docs on WikiLeaks and let’s all move on the Rich Man’s Carnival also known as the Republican National Convention. Bring your horse. I’ll bring the hookers.

Which brings us to our fifth awesome candidate:

5. Gene Hackman from The FirmHackman is the whole package. He’s like the second coming of Dick Cheney without the pacemaker and that weird man-sized safe.

First, if Romney really doesn’t want to release his tax returns, Hackman’s got him covered. He already has a condo in the Caymans chock full of super secret off-shore documents. What’s another box or two? Also: good place to hide bodies or “ladies of the night” or whatever else you got going on.

Bonus: Hackman’s got that guy from Quaker Oats on his payroll and that that dude has some hidden security skills, no Secret Service required.

See? Five super duper, perfectly viable candidates I bet Romney didn’t even consider. All of them right up on that “notice me” edge. I’m not saying Paul Ryan is a bad choice, I’m just saying Romney could have done better. He’s got a couple of weeks before the Convention to reconsider, so have at it. You’re welcome.

David Rakoff, 1967-2012

“We are wired for unburdening. It’s what we do as a species. When I am being told, I listen, mindful of the honor, remembering all the while that the shore would be mistaken to believe that the waves lap up against him because he is so beautiful.”

David Rakoff, Half Empty

Death By Cupcake

Photo by mmatins, Flickr

I think Ina Garten may be trying to kill me. She looks really cheerful, but I think she’s out for blood.

I’ve been working my way through her cookbooks because everything I make from them turns out so well that I can’t stop myself. Here’s the thing though: everything calls for about a pound of butter. She’s very careful to specify that it be unsalted butter, but that’s not really the issue when there’s a POUND OF IT.

She makes up for the no-salted-butter policy in her desserts by calling for tablespoons of salt in all her main dishes. Again: trying to kill me. She’s not even subtle about it: it’s right there on the page. Every page.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of salt. My family has ridiculously low blood pressure too, so there’s no danger for me in it – except of course if I breeze through my genetic good fortune directly into heart stop junction by adding spoon after spoon of salt to my dinners.

Then there’s the sugar. All her frostings call for one pound of sugar (not kidding, not even a little bit) and half a pound of cream cheese and the same amount of butter. Which tastes FANTASTIC but will definitely kill me in about a month.

Fortunately, the frosting recipes make so much frosting that even a fiend like myself couldn’t possibly use the entire recipe on my coconut cupcakes without being embarrassed. Or still being able to see the actual cupcake. So I cut it back to, like, half a pound of sugar, which, compared to a whole pound of sugar, isn’t much. It’s all relative.

As I see it, I have two options. I can either Paula Deen it up and just own the tastiness until I pass out from diabetes or high blood pressure or coronary failure, or I can dial it back to an Ina Once a Month plan.

*sigh* I love you, Ina. I really do, but I have a child to think about now, and the mobility scooter that is not that far in my future just won’t make it up the hill we live on, so I’m going to have to break up with you a little bit. Sort of. You should definitely drunk dial me though. A lot.

Ina Garten’s Fantastic Supreme Coconut Cupcakes (Even For People Who Don’t Like Coconut, Which I Don’t, But I Love These Cupcakes)

We need a plan…

I love that this is from “Dad.” Way to pass on your values!

Thanks, Found!

Los Angeles

It’s been an ellipses day so far, a day when “…” seems to drop onto the end of every sentence, every decision, every turn in traffic. Maybe it’s because everyone here is tan or overweight or tattooed or some of each and I am none of those, not really. Especially the tattooed: I’m definitely not tattooed.

Or maybe it’s because everywhere is about an hour away.

I have trouble calming down on days like this. Not that there’s anything to be upset about. I just start from where I am – today, awake at 2:30AM and unable to sleep – and the ellipses follow.

“Do you want to shower?”


“Do you want breakfast?”


“You found a place for breakfast, didn’t you?”



Well, yes. I obviously need coffee.

I’m not good at making decisions on my best days. I make 3/4 of a decision and then leave it lying there like an open sandwich without the mayo, without the tomato slice, mostly made but without the other slice of bread. You know: the thing that would make it actually a sandwich.

I am excellent at exploring my options. I am very, very good at opening all the doors of all the cupboards and having a look at the contents, cataloging it all mentally, considering a rearrangement of the juice glasses…and then going into another room to…I don’t know, fold the laundry or synch my camera.

The problem is selecting one of the options, deciding that that option is good enough, committing to, “Everything will be fine,” no matter which option I choose. It’s not the red wire or the blue wire and schoolchildren will die. It’s just some wires, all of them one color or another, some long, some short, all wired to the same place, which is, really, just an explosion in the course of a normal day. A normal-course explosion. Like from a chemistry set when you were eight type explosion. Just enough to get you out the door, moving forward type explosion. An anti-intertia explosion, not a SWAT explosion.

I’m good at SWAT explosions, for the record. I’m excellent in an emergency. I’m just not so hot in a non-emergency.

In case you were going to suggest it, reassuring myself that all options are fine is not enough to get me to choose one of them on a day like this. I want more. I want to have had more sleep, to have even more options, to have one of the options stand out like a shooting star in the already well-lit firmament of my morning.

That doesn’t usually happen. Probably because I mostly already have what I want and can get most anything I need. Maybe the unexpected novelty of that has stopped me in my decision-making tracks: everything after having R. and A. is incremental and I don’t know what to do with myself standing on the other side of the sneeze-proof glass facing an array of toppings. I become anxious when confronted by sprinkles.

The option of sitting perfectly still right where I am with my ice cream cone is as viable as taking it on a rollercoaster with me. But maybe the rollercoaster would be more fun. Or a different ride. Or swimming. Maybe swimming.

I would like to take a decision-making class like those classes people take to improve their public speaking. It would start with sleeping for several hours, followed by some breathing, then… Well, I haven’t taken the class, so I don’t know how it ends, do I? No. That’s why I need the class.

In this morning, this day, even having made a decision, ending up somewhere really quite pleasant is not enough. A beach, say. A beach where A. runs into the water and jumps a little and claps for herself and then goes to get a shovel. A beach where – miracle – I am not unbelievably hot the way I always am at beaches. Not the, “Why do people go places to just lie down and be hot anyway?” kind of beach. The other kind. A nice cloudy-day beach. I am there wishing I’d brought my swimsuit, remembered the water bottle instead of the accessories for a different kind of outing entirely, and wondering, “If I could get here now why could I not have gotten here two hours ago?”

Because – sigh – we are not perfect. Some days are ellipses days. Some days we don’t sleep well and can’t make a decision to save our lives. (Except, I could definitely make that decision. It’s these other ones between pancakes and ferris wheels that are impossible.)

But today, that’s just the way how it is. My little cousin used to say that. “Mom, that’s just the way how it is.” It’s OK. There are sand pails in the trunk for digging and we’ll see friends tonight and everything will be fine, ellipses be damned, and let’s just all take a deep breath and calm down and enjoy ourselves.

(Although, really, what is up with going to the beach when it’s hot? That’s insane. Really. There are ferris wheels around here somewhere, for Pete’s sake.)

Seinfeld’s Back

I have no solid explanation for why this show appeals to me. I don’t particularly like cars, all of the comedians in the preview are men (not that I don’t like men, but just that it’s such a throwback to the ‘8o’s when it was all men all the time and that’s not now and catch up already, please), and I’ve never fully understood why I like Seinfeld (the man, not the show: airline peanuts? No swearing? Not my MO.). (OK, I liked the show a little. After it had been on for a long time.)

But there it is: I’ll watch it.


Extreme Sports

Bay to Breakers, the annual San Francisco race, happened not too long ago. It’s your basic orgy/costume ball/marathon, with more stress on the orgy and costume parts since this is San Francisco. A runner friend of mine says it’s a “qualifying race,” so I guess it’s also, you know, serious. Even she’s not clear on qualifying for what though. So if you ran it thinking you could become a dental hygienist afterwards, well, maybe you’re right.

Here’s my thing with running marathons: why would you ever do that? I mean, sure, if you love running, great, have at it, more power to you, I’ll see you at mile 173 or whatever with a cup of Kool-Aid.

(Actually, scratch that. I won’t see you at the Dixie-Cup table. It’s hot there, I can tell. I don’t like being hot. You’re the one who wanted to run around in the sun. I’ll see you at the finish line. If it’s shady. And I don’t have other plans. Otherwise, I’ll see you the next time we go out for some civilized sporting activity. Like lawn bowling. Or cocktails.)

But if you don’t already love running – like, you’re not even a runner at all to start with – why would you do that?

I know a bunch of non-runners who decided they had to run a marathon because they were turning 40 or, you know, just ’cause. Because it’s there. Which it wasn’t, like, a week ago, so that doesn’t make any sense. It might get cancelled. Then what’re you gonna do? You didn’t run it ’cause it wasn’t there? I can do that. Matter of fact, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that I do that pretty much every weekend. Most Saturdays I’m here or at the zoo or someplace not running a race that isn’t there. I’m surprised I’m not in better shape, given all the not running I’m doing.

The mountain climbers and their “’cause it’s there” excuse have a more solid point. Literally: Everest is actually there. But then so is the hill right outside my house and I don’t see you coming by to scale that. It’s steep. Like, really steep. Not four-people-died-on-it-last-month-alone steep, but then, of course, you might want to consider that, um, four people didn’t die on it last week and head on over in my direction instead of catching that flight to Nepal. (Flights are really pricey these days too plus there’s a really good coffee place over on 18th if you’re feeling burned out by the climb. Everest can’t beat that.)

The thing is, I’m just not going to do a sport where the chances I might die are super high. Given my record of injuring myself (early, often) while engaging in what many might not even consider sports – like walking into our living room – I would definitely not make it past the first pitch on a mountain, so don’t even start with me that you can climb safely without going to Patagonia, etc. Trust me on this one. I can’t be left alone with a step ladder.

And second, I definitely will not be taking up a sport where they leave their dead behind. Even the Marines don’t do that, and shooting guns at people is arguably even higher risk than scaling an ice face. (Don’t get any ideas about adding that to the extreme sports roster by the way – I don’t want to hear six months from now that some fucking idiot has started a tour where you can climb glaciers while being shot at ’cause he read on some blog somewhere that it was a thing. It’s not a thing. Just stop it.) I get the whole “risk to self” argument in leaving your team behind, but then, why are you all up there in the first place if no one can breathe for more than ten minutes? God. Try paintball. Or ping pong. I hear that’s pretty competitive and everyone can have a beer afterwards with all their digits intact.

Oh – or badminton. Badminton is seriously hard. And frustrating. It should be right up your alley.

Meanwhile I’ll be over here not wearing a Big Bird costume and not headed anywhere 26 miles away. Also not climbing anything. I might have a coffee. Maybe walk over to that sandwich place that I heard was good. Join me when you’re done if you feel like it. Take a shower first though, OK? The sandwich place is kind of on the nice side.

Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

In case you’re one of the six people who hasn’t seen this yet:

Last Week

Last week was a fucking terrible week.

It started with Colorado.

Colorado is beautiful, but, like the sleek side tables and hot girlfriend that make the rest of your living room look shabby and your pals feel bad about their thighs, it may not be the best idea. At least for coastal-city-dwelling me. My nose starts to bleed before we leave the Denver airport and it stops the day after I get back to an altitude meant for humans not elk. Being there is like being in third grade or whenever it was I had that run of nose bleeds, except now I can’t go to the nurse’s office and lie down. Now, I lie awake all night in the parched air, wrap myself in DVF in the early evening and attend weddings with fields and mountains in the background, which is ideal for wedding photography and oxygen-depriving for me.

I do love my family there fiercely, but I wouldn’t complain if they all moved to Vancouver. Or Cape Cod. Or Mallorca. Mallorca would be ideal.

Back at sea level, I ended my first day of recovery with the awful news that Nora Ephron had died.

Reading her work, tributes and obituaries all week was inspiring and terrible. I contributed my own to the mounting number which, like so many, was more about me than her. This made me feel even worse for not having known her and having a store of wonderful, poignant stories to tell about her, and like an asshole for being self-absorbed and writing exactly the kind of piece with which Nora would have had no patience.

I feel her loss keenly, and spent the better part of last week overwhelmed with a sense of my own mortality and inadequacy of output as a writer and a hostess.

I resolved to right myself on the weekend. I hadn’t slept much, the nanny had given notice, the house had fallen into chaos, as it so easily will after a trip and with a toddler on the premises, and I had forty-seven tabs open in my browser, all of them obituaries or near enough. As my grandmother would have said, I had gotten myself into a state.

My course correction was short-lived. The phone rang and my brother, never big on preambles, told me that a mentor of mine in high school had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. He was pre-empting the news I would receive in a letter from her that afternoon.

I won’t get into how the rest of the day went beyond, “Dark and sad.”

As I say, it was a fucking terrible week. And, of all concerned, I was the lucky one.

Before Nora died, before the letter arrived, the fear of death had already been stopping my breath. Ever since I got pregnant, I have had stretches of extreme anxiety about dying. Before I was pregnant, I was as much of a hypochondriac as everyone else with access to Google and WebMD, but it got worse with the baby.

In my twenties, I thought the usual dramatic and lonely thoughts about death accompanied by the swelling chords of Mozart’s Requiem and followed by a cinematic run in the drenching rain. Or the dark, if rain was unavailable. Those isolated thoughts have been replaced by periods of persistent and specific anxiety, a hyper-awareness of consequences and loss, brought on by bad news, by the wrong movie, by prolonged stress, by lack of sleep. What would I do? Have I done enough (in the largest sense)? How should I prepare (in the smallest sense)? It comes and then it goes again.

The going is usually a result of avoiding my phone, my email, and the news, and having some time alone and with my family. I sleep. The fear dissipates. I realize – again, the same as last time – that there is nothing to be done, not really, that these dark imaginings are just that, that we can only deal with what is within our grasp today, that I have an embarrassment of things to be grateful for, that I am (thankfully) aware of them, that our days and lives are a result of our own effort (which we can control), and that what I focus on is a matter of choice (and, as needed, sheer force of will).

To wit:

The mourning doves that I love have nested just outside our kitchen window. My daughter cocks her head and says, “Could be,” just the way I do when I don’t want to contradict her, when anything is possible and there’s no reason to imply otherwise. Case in point: the Supreme Court miraculously upheld the healthcare law. My former mentor started chemotherapy today. Anderson Cooper admitted he’s gay and almost no one got upset. My man is better than all other men before or since and there is nothing else to be said. The fog has lifted from San Francisco’s hazy July skyline in time – perhaps – for fireworks. And the doves: the doves are back.

This week will be better.