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Conscious Beauty

Here's a "walking tour" of the art in and around the Plaza in Kansas City.

It's hard to explain why I don't really want to go back there. Mostly, I wish I could bring the best of it here, but I suppose it wouldn't be the same. Life's like that.

Wonderful time of the year?

Here's a bit of reminiscence I was having early this morning: I'm romantic about books, I guess, because I remember wandering through the Plaza in Kansas City when I was 18, "discovering" Emma in a bookshop, and climbing a tree in Loose Park to read it, with an almond pastry from Andre's to enjoy alongside. That is one of the most cherished memories of my life, and still so tangible I can feel the branch beneath me and the air, and the filling inside the pastry.

So that got me to thinking, first, that some of my most favorite places in the world are in Kansas City, even though I'm not interested in going back there. And second, what would go on a list of my favorite places in the world, anyway? Well, by in the world, I mean, in the areas I've gotten to live.

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City--it's beautiful in all seasons. And even though the shopping is upscale, you don't have to have money to wander through and have a good time.

Loose Park, Kansas City--also beautiful in all seasons. I still mourn the fact that I have never yet lived in another region where parks of this quality could be found. This one is my favorite, but there were many others there.

Andre's, Kansas City--I ate there so often during my teens, with my mother, occasionally my father or a friend. My favorite lunch was the bread and cheese casserole. Lunch is $11.75 there now, I recall it being around 6 dollars when we ate there.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City--I have since visited art museums in Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia. They are not as beautiful or as personal an experience, and none of them can touch the Asian art section. Plus? It's free, all of the time. The whole thing is being renovated, and the lawn where I fell in love has been replaced by what appears to be a reflecting pool! But I have no doubt it will still be a jewel of an experience. And they have not removed the sculpture garden.

Cafe Edward, Midland, Michigan--this was a lovely gourmet restaurant that I suspect has either moved or closed. I can't explain how good it was. It was perfect, that's how good it was.

Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan--there's a spectacular energy to this place. I hope to go back someday.

Penn Station, New York--I know this sounds strange. But it's awesome. The most awesome part is leaving it, going up the stairs to 7th Avenue, and being hit in the face with Manhattan. Grand Central is also lovely, and has a wonderful market inside. But Penn is my station.

North Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey--you just feel like it's the whole world when you're there.

Shedd Aquarium, Chicago--this is another place that feels like it's the whole world. The coral reef is very cool, and the building itself is gorgeous, inside and out.

eating lunch

So every day I'm sitting on the park bench, eating my sandwich, drinking my Chinò--the sandwich changes with my mood, but is usually accompanied by a tiny bottle of chinotto soda. I used to pretend to live in England but right now I pretend to live in Italy. Both are blended into my heritage, though I don't claim to be anything other than wholly American.

People don't know what that means. They think it means sitcoms, bad food, loud brash humor, inconsiderate politics. But of course, to be American is to be literally anything and everything, and that's why people have always come here. And here, I can be this, but pretend to be that, quite easily, if I want to. Mostly, I'd rather not bother. I am happily defined by a lack of definition.

Today's sandwich was goat cheese, red peppers, and smashed olives. It reminded me, for some crazy reason, of when I was a kid, and I would eat plain tuna on bread with no accompaniment. I thought it was the perfect sandwich. What I didn't realize was that the oil the tuna was packed in is what made it perfect. Until one day--I was old enough to do some of the shopping by then--I noticed that all the tuna cans said they were now packed in soybean oil. I don't know what the other non-soybean oil was, but it tasted good on bread. Soybean oil does not. So ever after that, I had to buy tuna packed in spring water, instead, and that isn't any good on bread unless you mix other stuff into it. Which reduces the pleasure for me, considerably. I loved opening the can of tuna, spreading some on bread, and eating. That was simple heaven.

Now I don't bother with tuna anymore unless it's served to me raw, on a plate at a restaurant. But my sandwiches are still simple. If I can just smash some between pieces of chewy, tasty bread, it's good for a sandwich. If it requires chopping and stirring and seasoning, forget it. That's not a sandwich, that's dinner.

Anyway. This guy, one of the blue tooth ones, he walks through the park every afternoon just about the time I've finished the sandwich and am leaning back a bit, sipping on my soda, or blowing across the top of the bottle to make it whistle, and he talks, and gesticulates, and takes these sort of large stomping, pacing steps back and forth in front of the big Abraham Lincoln statue. I used to sit on the bench right underneath it, but now I sit on the other side of the walkway, for a better view. He's very enjoyable to watch, despite the crazy.

This reminds me of 10th grade, when there was an exchange student from the Netherlands at my school, and I would follow him down the hall every day after chemistry, until he disappeared into his next classroom, and I had to continue on to mine. He was blond, which isn't really my thing, but had this perfect figure, the coolest European jeans, and, kind of remarkably, it seemed, clogs. I had never seen a guy wear clogs, but they looked so great with those jeans, and inspired the way he sassed his sexy foreign self along the corridor, just owning his space. I never once spoke with him, but remain a fan to this day. I'm a fan of clogs anyway. I'm confused when they go out of style now and then, because they just seem like a staple of life, as far as I'm concerned. Too bad more men can't pull off the look of them. Sadly, the ones who seem able to aren't generally interested in my admiration of them, since they tend to be looking for matching equipment, rather than the complementary variety.

So okay, no, he's not wearing clogs with that suit, but oh, the suit. I want to kiss his tailor on both cheeks. The drape of the trousers, the way the hem caresses the top of his shoes, the sharp cuffs, the crisp shoulders and lapels, I mean, I don't know what he looks like underneath it all, but the illusion it creates is kinda magical; class and sensuality and confidence married together seamlessly.

Except, man, the guy never shuts up. 


I like him because he's so much more than his flaws. The dichotomy appeals to me. If you lift the veil of physical pain and emotional pain, you see a man who is wickedly funny, talented at many areas of life, intense, probing, just, driven, and a little bit dangerous. Every girl likes a hint of danger, after all.

Those intense blue eyes, it goes without saying. But how about the way he lifts his brow, and the lines around his mouth that appear when something you do merits an honest smile? His deft fingertips, his strong forearms, the hair on the back of his wrist, the way the collar of his shirt meets the back of his neck--I even like his taste in clothing, even though it's wrinkled most of the time.

There are other masculine aspects that might actually be a turn-off if they weren't accompanied by a sense of irony about himself, his crude jokes, noises, gestures, and his complete inability to not take the cheap shot whenever and wherever possible.

People say you love despite character flaws. What is so wrong with actually loving the flaws? I can't figure him out. He drives me crazy. But I love how the room wakes up when he's on his game, and how he challenges me on every level. He makes me a better doctor, and I know I have a much better understanding of people and their motivations just by watching him attempt to screw them (and me) up.

I am over him in one way; he's not who I thought he was when he hired me. He's not simply deep or filled with some sort of pathos that might be worth exploring between the dinner table and the bedroom. He does sometimes take pleasure in causing pain. And he's not waiting for a savior; he's utterly inscrutable.

But I still want him. Now I know it's largely that I was physically attracted to him more than anything else, and that hasn't gone away. It's the sensation I had that led me to believe he was attracted to me, too. I'm still not certain I was wrong about that.  And lately, I find myself falling in love with him all over again. Only this time, I'm falling in love with someone I've started really getting to know. 

Starting over

I'm beginning to put all my blog entries from various blogs onto this one site. I can backdate them and everything. So, there'll be some stuff lost in translation, and pictures to eventually relink to and such, but I'm starting with the text, and I'm starting with 2003 and working my way forward. If you get updates for them, I apologize, but, shoot, maybe it'll be funny.

Ramping up

Here is the thing about my holodeck. It's not a "free pass," or "freebie five," or any of that other stuff.

It's better.

Because, it's like having a real experience that is not real. Therefore, there are no rules. You could do anything you like there, any way you like, with anyone you like. And it doesn't count in real life.

Now, you have your rules and I have mine regarding correct real life behavior. But if you are only simulating real life, you don't need to follow your rules, do you? And I don't, either. :-)

On top of that, you can make a virtual reality with someone who doesn't even exist in your real life, like someone from the past, or a fictional character, although I can't pretend it will necessarily be as satisfying.

Maybe you have to enjoy making up stories in order to truly enjoy the idea. Stories are my life though, pretty much, at least the one I live inside my head. So it works for me much better than just a list of relief players. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

non sequitur of the day

Know what has always bothered me? When people say gentleman and lady at times when I don't think it really makes sense. Like when they're describing a situation on TV, a police officer or witness will something such as, "The gentleman wore a grey hoodie and carried a box cutter." Something like that. And I am thinking to myself, "Why are you calling this person a gentleman? He doesn't quite seem to be one."

It's really part of this whole picture of false politeness and false formality that makes me cringe and shudder and stuff. I hate it most when people use fake formal speech, in order to sound smart or well-educated. And when they use terms they think make them sound very polite, when really they just sound like they're in a very bad play.

Camp photos uploaded here.

Craig Ferguson/9-11/blather

This is part of an ongoing conversation I've been having with my best online mate. Later, I'll talk about the camping trip, share some pictures, and start the process of putting every blog entry I've ever done, backdated, into this one. That will be a long-term project, but I feel good about it.

Me: Craig Ferguson is this year's top entry for a holodeck weekend. Discuss.

Chickengrrl: His monologue is truly a thing of beauty, a work of art. My only complaint (and granted, it is beyond minor) is that it's an eensy bit too long. I think I've gotten overused to Letterman's too-short one, so Ferg's seems extra long by comparison. I think somewhere in between (but closer to the length of Craig's) is more right.

The man, he is a genius. Maybe not my free pass, but a genius. ;-)

Me: I could listen to him talk for an hour. I am not very interested in the guests, unless they can really hold their own.

Chickengrrl: Yes - I think his one flaw as a host is that he's not a very good interviewer. Yet. I think he's improving, but he sort of turns everything around to talk about himself, or he obsesses about something silly (like Toni Collette saying she was menstruating). But he's better than a lot of people in that sort of position. And I think part of the problem with his guests is that he's on so late, he tends to get quasi-lame ones a lot of the time.

Chickengrrl: OK, I've found another minor flaw, and I hate to be critical of the little darling, but he does the "gay" thing way too much. Honestly, it's starting to get old.

Me: I'd probably have to agree with that. I wonder why it's so?

Chickengrrl: Please tell me you were watching last night, and saw Craig kiss Steve Carell on the mouth. I don't know what led up to it, as I was actually on the phone with P before then, but it was awesome.

Me: I didn't see it last night, but I saw it the first time it was on. It was awesome. (For those who don't watch Craig, and are now wondering at the possible hypocrisy of this conversation, let me point out that the "gay thing" we're tired of is frequent allusions to his sexuality being in question. Since it isn't, that can get old. However, watching him kiss Carell was another thing entirely, even though I have no credible way of explaining it. He's funny when he just does the gay thing, instead of talking about it, maybe.)

Chickengrrl: And tonight's is the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed. In honor of the 9/11 anniversary, his guests tonight were Aaron Brown, who was on CNN for 15 hours straight on 9/11 - and this just a couple of months after he started there, it sounds like - and Ralph Geidel, a retired NYC firefighter from Oregon who lost a brother in the North Tower on 9/11 and who worked for a year doing recovery at Ground Zero. While Aaron has officially become one of my new crushes - he makes me wish I'd been able to tear myself away from NBC that day, but I didn't know him then and I needed the familiar avuncularity of Tom Brokaw to soothe me, although it seems Mr. Brown has a special brand of palliative himself - but this firefighter guy is amazing. Not only did he help with the recovery and retrieval of hundreds of bodies, he got throat cancer for his efforts. I hope they rerun this soon so you can see it, or your DVR caught it. Any paltry complaints I've ever had about Craig's interviewing style have been permanently put to rest. He does know how to interview, and quite well. I just wish he would stop interrupting his guests to be funny, but still at least he's no Leno - not even close. He did a great job tonight. I'm so sorry I slept through his monologue, so I look forward to catching it in reruns He pointed out at the end of the show, too, that he had no politicians on. Good on him.

I'm having horrible deja vu today. I can only imagine what people for whom 9/11 actually hit close to home are going through.

Me: We watched it last night. It was the Emmy entry, wasn't it?

He really is a good interviewer. When he's "on," he interrupts more than usual, but I find he does that much less often than most other talk show hosts.

Anyway, I love him for this. Here is the monologue; as soon as I saw that he was wearing a tie, I knew something was up. It's not his usual sharp brilliance, instead, it's just a guy, talking about something he still can't get a grasp on. Very poignant.

We were talking about how we still feel funny when planes fly close overhead. For weeks after the attack, we had surveillance aircraft overhead every hour, day and night, sometimes many of them. The skyline north of Sandy Hook and to the east was brown for weeks, New York smelled bad for months. Every time we got on a train, we wondered if those were next. Sometimes we were told they could be.

I'd cross the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge and look down the river to the bay, across which you can see the bridge to Staten Island. And beyond that the buildings of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the air towers at JFK and LaGuardia. Since moving to New Jersey, it had always been exciting to look over and see those tall landmarks on the horizon. So after this happened, I'd look over, to see the brown air where the buildings used to be. And it was startling when I realized that it wasn't brown anymore, sometime in the winter. But for well over a year, it still just felt like there was a hole in the landscape. And after that, I'd realize now and then I was beginning to get used to the changed shape of it, that the Empire State Building was the landmark, that Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia, and it made me mad, so I'd force my eyes to put the shape of the towers back in.