July

Books:

  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron ~ So good. Great, really. And I plan to start making my way through the recipes contained therein very soon, beginning with the key lime pie.
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck, I Remember Nothing, Crazy Salad, Wallflower at the Orgy by Nora Ephron ~ Some I’d read before, some I hadn’t. All perfectly wonderful.
  • You Take It From Here by Pamela Ribon ~ Read on an airplane. Cried a whole lot. This book is very funny and very sad and felt very real to this Louisiana reader. I think you should read it, too.
  • The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner ~ Hadn’t read a Weiner book since In Her Shoes (“It’s a retirement community for active seniors”), but when it’s 11 pm and you’re about to board a train at Grand Central Station and you need to stay awake on it, you have to buy a book at the news stand, and pickins were slim. It was an ideal train read and kept me company in the middle of the night on a 90-degree evening in a train car with no air conditioning. For that I am grateful.
  • Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman ~ So heart squeezy that sometimes it hurt. Visceral trip back to first love and everything about it that is horrible and beautiful.
  • The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan ~ A punch in the heart. But in a good way.

TV:

  • The Wire: Summer of the Wire continued in earnest this month. (No spoilers here.) During the final two episodes of season 4, I cried four seasons’ worth of tears. I cried so much I got a headache. It was then I knew I needed to take a little break.  That break lasted three days, at which point I promptly started season 5. And now I am done, and nothing will ever be the same. When I sat down to start this show, I did not intend to finish 60 episodes in the span of 44 days, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend watching it that way, as it has been kind of all-consuming to the point where last night I had a dream about traveling to Iowa with Omar. (“Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.”) The number of texts and emails I exchanged over the past six weeks with my brother and Molly, both Wire veterans, is basically infinite, and I’m so glad they were there with me during this odyssey through Baltimore. They were compassionate and understanding and tried really hard never to respond in such a way that gave anything away, unless they knew I absolutely needed to know something for my own mental health, which Molly somehow knew in one particular case. That kind of TV companionship is an art, I’ve decided, because you have to really understand how important a viewing experience can be, having been through it yourself, and in the art of The Wire commiseration, they are masters. Meanwhile, I think I will probably keep thinking about this show forever.

Movies:

  • Heartburn ~ Painful/delightful. Favorite parts were honestly the scenes with Meryl & her real-life daughter as a toddler, such as when the baby shoved little pieces of ice cream bar into her mother’s mouth. Gorgeous.
  • Magic Mike ~ I saw this in a packed theater on a Tuesday night. I think everyone there was drunk. It was very fun.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild ~ Wondrous and amazing in every way.

Trips & Fun Times:

Went up North to see my sister & her family, and as always, it was lovely and relaxing. We ate Thai and Indian and made tomato pie. We picked flowers and and swam and played with balls and watched my nephew ride his new orange scooter and sang songs.

Because of geographical proximity, once again I made plans to spend a day in New York. My flight home late that night was canceled, so I ended up staying in the city longer than I planned. But more on that in a moment.

My day in New York kicked off with a 45-minute walk from Grand Central to meet for a lunch date with Molly, who was a delight as ever as we plowed through our giant salads. Then I walked up to the theater district for my matinee. It was so hot and muggy but I just like walking in the city. One Man, Two Guvnors, as Kymm & Melissa promised me it would be, was so unbelievably funny and amazing and alive. I don’t often laugh until tears pour out of my eyeballs, but it happened. I was also right smack in the middle of the front row with my knees pressed up to the front of the stage, which is always a strangely intimate and weird experience. But it was marvelous and I am so proud of James Corden and the whole thing was a magnificent delight.

I stepped out into the lobby after the show, packed wall to wall because outside a major storm was raging, and who did I see as I turned my head but my brother standing nearby! I screamed and caused a disturbance. His flight was grounded so he came to find me. We ran through the rain after the usher finally yelled, “EVERYONE MUST LEAVE. NOW!” and ended up taking shelter at the Marriott Marquis next-door, grabbing the last two bar seats available and drinking some million dollar beers and eating some nachos. The weather was so dreadful — a heinous downpour with lightning and thunder — that we weren’t sure what to do. Then we decided that he needed to see Once. Or rather I decided.

We ordered him what turned out to be the last good seat in the house, and when we went to pick it up at the box office, I decided that even though I saw it already on Easter Sunday, I needed to buy myself a seat, too. So I did! It was a partial view seat, but who cares, because within that partial view I could see my brother’s profile on the 4th row, and the light and life his face emitted were so beautiful to me. I knew he would love the show, and he did. It really is so sweet and lovely. Being under the mezzanine definitely took away from the sound — it was so profound when I was in the 2nd row on Easter — but it was still great, and I’m so glad I got to see Steve Kazee. Seeing both he and Corden in their Tony-winning roles on the same day was a wonderful surprise.

He walked me to the Grand Central after the show, and it was fun to walk through the brightness of Times Square with my baby brother with whom I’d never been to New York as he coasted on the high of a $25 souvenir show cup of Jameson’s and the one-of-a-kind magic that is a beautiful Broadway musical. What can I say? I still love you, New York.

Back home, the gang is back together now that our dearest and most faraway friend is here for the summer, and there has been a lot of overall merriment in that regard, and on the last night of the month, I ate Thai with my oldest friend for her birthday, who thought she was older than she really is, which made us laugh.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • This video makes me happy. Especially when Alex Wong kicks the bubbles at 2:40.
  • Trailer for Sleepwalk with Me, which I am excited to see.
  • Staying off of Facebook.

Pets still alive:

All. Though I will be very surprised if this is not Daisy’s last summer.

Best food eaten:

Shrimp arepas, New Haven, Connecticut.

State of the Neighbors:

There’s a For Rent side in the yard. And lo, the neighborhood did rejoice.

Flowers, Trees, & Plants:

My sister has a very pretty backyard.

Memories and childhoods:

Spent a day this month traveling with my dad to a shrimp boil in his hometown for his brother’s 50th wedding anniversary. We visited the site of my mom’s old high school, founded for girls by a priest in 1855 and now a hotel. We stopped in the church where my parents got married 43 years ago this summer. We visited his grandparents’ home, where he and his many, many cousins spent much of their childhoods. I felt many feelings. Here’s the old slaughterhouse on the property, along with a cousin’s enormous goat.

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4 Responses to July

  1. Lauren says:

    I totally adored One Man, Two Guvnors – especially the first act. Beyond thinking that James Corden is probably just the best that comedy can get, I was really taken by the shared experience of the audience. I went on my own (thanks, TDF and a random Thursday matinee because of the 4th of July) and just felt so connected to the people around me as we looked at each other through tears of laughter, and in a state of comic disbelief.

    And of course, I came home and watched all of Gavin and Stacey all over again.

    • eliza says:

      I agree with you 100%. It was such a communal and merry experience. I am so glad I saw it! And I am ready to watch G&S again, for sure.

  2. Lisa says:

    The Wire was a ride, wasn’t it? I had to keep quitting during the original airing. I’d quit, I knew I couldn’t take anymore–I’d say to my husband, “if such and such happens, I will never watch this again” and then invariably my worst fears would be realized and I’d angrily shout at the TV and cry and flounce out…but then I’d cave and go back because I loved it so…yet it was harsh and it made me cry a lot, just thinking about people living like that. There are people living like that, right now. Losing people they love every day to gang warfare. Overall it wasn’t an experience I’d have wanted to miss, but I hurt a lot while getting through it.

    • eliza says:

      I had pretty much the same experience. I just looked back at some texts exchanged between my brother and me over the weeks that I watched it, and so many of mine were as follows [no spoilers included here]: “Going to bed. I can’t even,” and “I’m real scared,” and “I hate everything,” and “Ummmmmm, nooooooo,” and “I might have to stop watching,” and “Between this and Nora Ephron, I am a wreck,” and “Love it a lot but am sad, very sad,” and “If Daniels ever dies, I may not survive it,” and “I’m sure Avon will kill him now,” and “This is giving me an upset stomach,” and “Ummmmmmmm,” and “Holy shit,” and “This is very stressful,” and “OMG,” and “Scared,” and “Here’s how many days of the week I worry about Bubbs: all,” and “If Michael gets killed, I am done,” and “This is horrible,” and “This season is insane balls,” and “This show is going to end me.” Actual texts. So … I know what you mean. I would not trade the experience for the world but it was devastating.

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