Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson

I don’t know what has happened to me in the past few years—ahem, boyfriend, ahem—but I have now developed a full-on fixation, obsession, physical yearning for the latest gadgets. My gimmies have gone from focusing on new jeans or fabulous four-inch heels to cell phones, laptops, TVs, external hard drives, for goodness sake. In particular, I want the HTC Evo 4G like Ross wanted Rachel, like Mrs. Robinson wanted Benjamin Braddock, like Lady Gaga wanted fame—singly-minded.

I know that much of this comes the fact that I CAN’T HAVE IT. Or rather, that Sprint won’t allow me to have it in the cosmic sense. My name is on 4 wait lists; I bought one from a seller on e-Bay that turned out to be less than legit (yes, I returned it for a full refund); I have harassed staffers of Sprint Stores, Best Buys and Radio Shacks; I have had three near-misses. And even as my loathing of Sprint grows for having produced a limited release of what must have been 14.5 handsets in JUNE, so too does my Heathcliff-on-the-moors desire grow. The more it rejects me, the more I want, nay, need it.

It is as if I were in 5th grade all over again. This is unrequited love at it’s preadolescent finest. But not for the cute blond boy in my homeroom. No. I have an epic crush on the Evo: “Will you go out with me? Yes. No. Maybe. (Circle one.)”


tick tock

I am going home to Pittsburgh tonight, so this whole day feels like eight hours of, “Are we there yet?” I can’t wait to touch down in my hometown where it is ten degrees cooler and one mom sweeter.


Walking to my office today, I was sweating like a chilled Coca-Cola Classic bottle pulled from a cooler at a picnic. I, however, do not look nearly as tasty and refreshing.


In the heat of this summer I have wilted like the ill-fated perennials I planted and put on my stoop. When I began this business, it was supposed to be fun and lighthearted. Then I started trying to work out my existential crises. Though my musings continue to be slightly dark and little unfocused, like the projection of an old black-and-white movie, I have resolved to continue with this project as it was first intended.

Bear Market

I have been on a track for years, like a locomotive—or a sadistic, long-distance runner who, strangely, has had very little awareness that she has been racing.

Over the last week, I have abruptly awaked to the fact that my unexamined endurance is faltering. Fortunately, even as my metaphorical heart rate is spiking, the stitch in my side is inflaming my lungs, and the arches of my feet are pounding, I have found that I haven’t been running in circles; I have enjoyed one track—continuous, predictable, at times steely—that has given me blind comfort and a sense of direction.

But this week (see One of Those Days), though I kept running straight as I always have, I was suddenly crashing through thickets, wading through bracken, body checking branches, tackling tree trunks. I was—am—off-roading! Already I have been stung by nettles, detained by invisible, face-height spiderwebs, velcroed by brambles, agitated by poison ivy and poked in the eye with a stick.

That said, seeing that I know that I am running—and since I can’t stop now, in the middle of nowhere, for fear of being eaten by a bear—I am determined to resist the lure of the pavement, to stay in the thick of the forest for as long as I can. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t like it. I am not an outdoorsman and I don’t enjoy roughing it. But it seems a necessary (hopefully temporary) foil to the predetermined path that has left me in need of a big, long breather and a new pair of sneakers.

John Wayne

Like the holster of an all-American cowboy, the cocky moon is slung low and tight against the hip of the sky.

One of those days

The Sullivan side of my family has a long tradition: “Whatever you do, don’t smile.” This is the most magical and frustrating directive of my existence. It both infuriates me and undoes me in the same moment.

My dad came of age in the Mad Men era. My grandfather was a well-intentioned, inarticulate, damaged man who, despite his ardent hopes, acquiesced to his cynicism more often than not. My grandmother—beautiful, elegant and sophisticated as only women in portraits from the 1940s can be—was demure. She spoke in euphemisms all the time, but she also had a wicked, cunning sense of humor and she took joy in her ability to win over just about anybody.

She, of course, was the master of, “Whatever you do, don’t smile.” She, with her jersey-cow brown eyes and knowing but innocent tone, would seize upon the slightest of bad moods. Pouting, of course, was her favorite.

I remember feeling indignant as only a child can; I was morally offended, personally afflicted, permanently scarred by any perceived misdeed—my brother’s, most likely, but possibly my mom’s or dad’s—and she would find  my eyes, tilt her head ever so slightly and intone, “Whatever you do…”

I cracked. Even as I write this, in the throes of the most awful, pout-worthy day (I am considering hopping a plane to an undetermined tropical destination for 48 hours) the corners of my mouth are turned up. Much as I want to hate EVERYTHING, I can’t because I can hear my grandmother’s challenge.

My father says it, too. He reserves it, though. When he unarchives it, I know it is because I have a truly excellent, perhaps unprecedented pout; my argument is truly valid, my position is ironclad. I AM OFFENDED! But it matters not at all. My armor is penetrable and he knows me to be at a disadvantage; he can attack and I won’t even see him coming. And there he is: “Whatever you do.”

At this point, he doesn’t need to finish the sentence. In fact, at this point, he doesn’t need to say it. He needs only to look at me, know that I am pissed, outraged, indignant, and to cock his head to one side. Then, without him ever uttering a word, I hear my grandmother intone, “Whatever…”