Archive for March, 2015

Genius Idea THWARTED

March 31, 2015

From: ID

To: Improve Everywhere

Dear Improv Everywhere,

For quite a while now, I’ve had this obsession with staging the famous “Day-O (Banana Boat)” scene from Beetlejuice in a restaurant, unbeknownst to the customers of course. I’m a writer and generally funny person, but I frankly have no idea how to organize something of this nature. My vision is for it to be in the basement dining area of the Mercer Kitchen, because it has a similar aesthetic. Despite the above caveat about knowing nothing about this, I’d love to be as involved as possible, particularly in casting. Oh, it could be so fun! In case you need a reminder of what the scene is (I highly doubt you do) here is the clip:

I love you!

From: Improv Everywhere

To: ID

Fun idea.  Thanks for writing!  Unfortunately since Day-O is a copyrighted song, it wouldn’t be a fit for Improv Everywhere to produce (legal issues on YouTube.)


But Harry Belafonte seems like a fun guy, I think he’d want me to do it!

Snail Mail Letters I’ve Written and Sent in the Past Month

March 30, 2015

1. To Fran Lebowitz, via her speaking agency, asking if she’d consider chaffeuring me and my husband from our wedding ceremony to the reception in her vintage checkered cab

2. Suzanne Lipschutz, to see if she’d be willing to sell one of her armadillo lamps now that she is downsizing.

3. Shannon Conley, a convert to Islam who was arrested trying to go to Syria to join ISIS, to see if she’d let me interview her

4. Netflix, to apologize for sending a movie back so late (because I lost it)

5. Annie Dillard’s agent, in hopes that he will inform me when she has a new book coming out

6. Author Joanne Greenberg, just to say ‘sup

In other news, I’m having this problem in which the cover of this biography I’m reading of Wittgenstein looks a lot (to me) like Catherine Keener’s portrait of Kramer from Seinfeld.  And so I giggle whenever I open the book, but Wittgenstein is NO LAUGHING MATTER.



What’s in a Name?

March 23, 2015

ID: If I were a baby what would you name me?
HW: That’s the weirdest question I’ve ever been asked.  And I’ve been in therapy for over a decade.

Letters to Jail

March 17, 2015

If you’re sending a letter to someone in jail, do you think it’s awkward to use this stamp?



Reasons Why I Think Meghan Daum and I Could Be Friends

March 16, 2015

For the record, this list is a FRACTION of the length it could have been, based solely on reading The Unspeakable.

1. We both pepper our speech with Yiddishisms

2. We both would like to live at Downton Abbey (although are slightly worried we’d be awkward around the servants)

3. We both eat to live, rather than live to eat

4. We both have an anti-sentimental streak that occasionally borders on political incorrectness

5. We both believe that “excellence comes not from overcoming limitations but from embracing them.”

6. We both immediately give up when we find something difficult (and are embarrassed about this habit)

7. We both desired to do the Bohemian NYC struggling writer thing even though we knew it was a cliche

8. We both dated mostly to “collect experiences”

9. We are both mildly disdainful of Lori Gottlieb

10. Neither of us ever learned how to properly chop an onion


March 15, 2015

I slept about 14 out of the last 24 hours and yet I still feel like a lump.  No good when you’re trying to write about Wittgenstein.  What gives, biology?

I don't sleep in heels because I'm not a fucking moron, but otherwise this picture just about sums it up.

I don’t sleep in heels because I’m not a fucking moron, but otherwise this picture just about sums it up.

Little Children

March 11, 2015

I keep seeing this new meme (or something) about giving advice to one’s younger self.  Five years ago, I thought this was a cute idea, but now, something about it strikes me as presumptuous, and… self-patronizing?  I didn’t know what it was, exactly, until a few days ago, I had occasion to meet with a European teenage girl who goes to boarding school in the suburbs near where I live.  She had long straight brown hair, happy eyes, and, though she was finishing up a day doing activities with her theater group and marching for women’s rights, was full of optimistic (but not annoying!) energy.  And then I realized why the whole conceit annoyed me: this girl couldn’t learn anything from me.  Even if she could (i.e. “High school sucks for everyone!”) she probably shouldn’t.  Youthful spirit is something that is taken from us, not something we shed like a cocoon.  This is just a theory, though.  And it’s a pretty pessimistic way to put it, at that.  For a realistic but sweeter version of same, see Meghan Daum, from her essay “Not What It Used To Be”:

“A little game I like to play is to look back on various critical junctures in my life and imagine what advice my older self might dispense to my younger self.  The way I picture it, my younger self will be going about her business and my older self will suddenly appear out of nowhere, like a goon sent in to settle a debt.  I always imagine my older self grabbing my younger self by the collar or even shoving her in some manner.  At first, Younger Self is frightened and irritated (Older Self speaks harshly to her) but a feeling of calm quickly sets in over the encounter.  Young Self sits there rapt, as though receiving the wisdom of Yoda or of some musician she idolizes, such as Joni Mitchell.  But Older Self is no Yoda.  Older Self is stern and sharp.  Older Self has adopted the emphatic, no-nonsense speaking style of formidable women with whom she worked in countless New York City offices before deciding she never again wanted to work anywhere but her own home (a place where, over the years, she has lost a certain amount of people skills and has been known to begin a conversation as though slamming a cleaver into a side of raw beef.)  Older Self begins her sentences with ‘Listen’ and ‘Look.’  She says, ‘Listen what you’re into right now isn’t working for you.’  She says, ‘Look, do yourself a favor and get out of this whole situation.  Leave this college.  Forget about this boy you’re sleeping with but not actually dating.  Stop pretending you did the reading for your Chaucer seminar when you didn’t and never will.’

“To which Younger Self will ask, ‘Okay, then what should I do?’ And of course Older Self has no answer, because Older Self did not leave the college, did not drop the boy, did not stop pretending to have read Chaucer.  And the cumulative effect of all those failures (or missed opportunities, blown chances, fuckups, whatever) is sitting right here, administering a tongue-lashing to her younger self (which is to say herself) about actions or inactions that were never going to be anything other than what they were.  And at that point the blob of unfortunate yet inevitable life choices, at which point I stop the little game and nudge my mind back into real time and try to think about other things, such as what I might have for dinner that night or what might happen when I die.”


Words of Wisdom

March 8, 2015

Last week, I attended a panel that featured, among other people, a nonprofit lawyer who argues on behalf of pregnant women’s rights.  It seems mostly she has to educate them about the state’s actual ability to take away their babies based on one positive drug test, among other things, and lobby to elected officials regarding the fundamental inability of pee-in-a-cup to determine someone’s maternal ability.  The woman was extremely smart and well-spoken, and I found myself by the end totally silenced by her elocution.  But not all in the audience were as impressed.  There was one woman, a small, sassy black woman who was a teacher––or at least, might have been a teacher, as she likened herself to “wise blues singers”––in the audience who decided to fill some silence at the end of the Q&A with a bit of a deconstruction of this woman’s argument.  Basically, young girls these days don’t want to listen to a lot of talk, she said.  They don’t have the patience for that.  They’re being used––as surrogates, as sexual playthings––and they need to be told to keep their eyes open lest they be snatched by any number of predators.  When the lawyer went to object (heehee), the woman just kept right on going.  “You gotta be ahead of the game!  You gotta be Elizabeth Taylor!”  And so my friends, now you know.