Friday, December 21, 2007


Here is a story.

In my early-to-mid twenties, I became aware of another person with the same name as mine. I ordered a new pair of frames, and when I arrived to pick them up, the optometrist handed me the other girl's glasses. I'd call for a haircut appointment, and the receptionist at the salon would say, "Weren't you just here last week? No, wait, that must have been the other one." Once in a shi-shi stationery store, a saleswoman urged me to "sign the guest book"--and when I bent to comply, I saw that the name inked just above mine was, well, mine.

I got pretty paranoid about it. This was in Minnesota, where my family is from and where my parents had returned after a detour to the East that had taken up most of my kidhood. Minneapolis isn't a huge city, but it is funky and offbeat, and I thought of myself as funky and offbeat; and I'd just be there for a brief visit, seeing what there was to see, and not only was there someone running around with my name on, but we appeared to have similar tastes and habits. What if she's not as cool as I am and she's giving me a bad name? I worried. Or worse, what if she's way, way cooler than I am?

What our name is is not important. It could have been, it might have been you, you understand. Don't pretend you were any more secure back then. That's just not what those years were about.

Anyhow, time passed and Google was invented. If you type in our name today you get 5,910 hits. About 150 are for a real estate agent in Seattle, a chemist who works in the same general field as my brother, or a romance novelist. When th'usband and I first met, he dredged up maybe three or four that were about or by me; the other 5,756 or so are all Her. She's a well-known photographer with a show this week in the West Village. She's the type of artist that critics call a Beautiful Young Thing or a Glamour Puss when they're trying to be withering. Mostly they just can't stop talking about her.

I still get mistaken for her every once in awhile, because we are about the same age and both live in Brooklyn and although I'm no longer making art, I still really like the stuff. After I read--in an interview in my favorite magazine ever, naturally--that she suspects her "completely un-feminist" tendency to conflate the beautiful with the broken woman traces to the back brace she wore in junior high and high school, I knew I really wanted to meet her. "I think that that had a lot to do with the outside isn't what the inside looks like," she explained in the interview. "I didn't have the kind of brace you could see, it was under my clothes, but it was hard...." I nodded reflexively as I read. Me, too. That's how the one I wore was, that's the way I am, too.

I'd actually forgotten about the back brace thing when a package intended for her showed up at our apartment this week. It was full of DVDs about the 10th Mountain Division, soldiers who'd fought on skis in the Alps before coming home to found resorts like Aspen and Vail. The documentary makers shared our family name. "This is beyond coincidence," said th'usband, who is a aspiring documentary filmmaker and a World War II freak. He'd just been telling me about the 10th Mountain Division the other day.

I had to do a little bit of digging, but I found her number and gave her a call. The filmmakers were her parents, who live near my inlaws in Colorado. It turns out that she did live in Minneapolis for a little while, and that we live just a couple of neighborhoods away from each other now. "I know you're much cooler than I am," I told her, "but I'm OK with it." She laughed, protesting. Come to think of it, now I'm not even sure that's true--not because she didn't seem incredibly cool or because I'm still an insecure little wanna be, but because she seemed instantly familiar, like someone I've been friends with forever. In any case, we'll find out tomorrow, when we meet at last.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ask the Huisvrouw: Hello? Hello?

so what's the deal? no time to blog while basking on a beach in mexico? or have you been stuck in a hotel room the whole time? we the readers need a beer, book, baking, beast update. at least copy in a letter to grandma so we know what's going on over there . . . .
No, no, I'm back. I'll get right on that. Soon. In the meantime, here are some things to read:

1. A long interview with my friend Alberto Blanco published serially. It's about poemas. I've been reading a new bilingual edition of his work put out by Bitter Oleander, and thinking a lot about the act of translation again: what I like, what I don't. So that's one thing.
2. Dorris Lessing's Nobel acceptance speech. Those are always good. Thanks, jvan.
3. Oh, yeah, read jvan's blog. It's pretty impressive, and besides, if we wear a groove into the links between the two pages my technorati rating might go up.
4. An article in the current issue of Bust about female beer makers that someone passed along to me and that doesn't seem to be online. Damn. I'll have to summarize that.
5. Further evidence of the unstoppable power of this wave we're on.
6. ....except that we postponed the How to Homebrew event, drank that whole keg of saffron tripel and I haven't been brewing. Gotta get on that. I think I'm going to check out these folks. Or these. Have I mentioned how ridiculous it is that there isn't a dedicated supply store in NYC? Gotta get on that, too.
7. We did go here and got whacked with oak leaves by Russians. Thanks, J.
8. I'm trying to do a Zen mental flip on a difficult acquaintance. It's, well, difficult, but she did point this out to me yesterday, which was great.
9. OK, and to make sure you don't get anything done at work today, check out this teapot video and feel your own dry, clenched little inner flower unfurl.

That oughtta keep you busy. Meantime, I've gotta go to work.

Ciao, bella/o