free for all thoughts

Already today I’ve cleaned my closet, cleared my bedside table, and organized the bathroom vanity. I took my allergy pill and a few others. Flax seeded it up. Mixed a shot of espresso with protein powder, and measured, yes, 8 oz. of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. I’ve thought about my friend Karen Laughlin, and how if we lived closer, in the same state even, we’d be close friends.

I feel that way about a lot of people I meet. That we’d be tight, middle of the night, friends if only we lived closer. And there’s no getting around it. Aside from a close lover in Los Angeles and my girls in New York, I’m not nearly-every-day with anyone outside Texas. Even here in Austin, there are maybe two girlfriends with whom I speak daily-ish. I have a lot of pick-up friends—the kind you can see and simply pick-up, wherever you left off, grabbing hold of the new in their lives as if you were there for it when it happened.

I’m in workout clothes, which is at least a nod to the idea of exercise.

I’ve installed Snow Leopard on one computer and am trying to update the other older computer to Leopard 10.5.

The tots are convinced today is either Challah Day or a Holiday. I couldn’t quite get which they were saying. They usually bake challah bread every Friday at school, then mama eats it. And doesn’t shit it out for days. Today is Monday, and Purim began Saturday at sundown. Last Friday the wees went to school in costumes: Little Miss as Fancy Nancy and Kind Sir as Thomas the Train. Reminded me of our saintly Halloween, with me as The Queen of Hearts, Phil as the Mad Hatter, Abigail as Alice, and Senor Beckett refusing to wear his pocket watch, glasses, and especially those freakishly large bunny ears, insisted on being Thomas.

The challah thing reminded me that I’ve invited two couples over for shabbat. I warned, "Just don’t call it shabbat around Phil." "Why?" "The man hates the idea of getting together with people to do anything religion-based. He’d use the word ‘solely’ in there somewhere, but that’s his general protest." And I guess I kind of see his point. The idea of it sounds limiting. For me, I just look for any excuse to entertain, and I like the idea of tradition, of our sprouts witnessing the lighting of the shabbat candles, helping me braid the bread. It’s almost as if your favorite book has been adapted into an Oscar-winning film. Everything you’ve learned comes alive before your eyes. I love the idea of giving them that.

"Well," I said to my new friend, "we just won’t remind him that our wees know every last syllable of the hamotzi."

One final thought: I watched but was gravely disappointed with The Bachelor this season. Goodie-two-shoes Jake is a bit of a milksop and gives swampass a bad name. I know he’ll pick Vienna—a girl named after a sausage, over Tenly, a girl who shits rainbows. And it will all be terribly hard to take. Because he should be with Ali. She’s almost as adorable as SHANE (remember her?)

I think it’s worth noting that at the beginning of this season, they never showed Jake dropping to one knee in the preview montage. Because he’s totally not going to propose marriage to anyone. And I totally get that. These dudes are always leaning over balconies, sobbing. Unable to decide. Then, they’re suddenly smiling, making sure there’s a dimple in their tie, as we hear voiceover about how sure they are now. How they know, how, yawn, they hope she feels the same way. Blah-di-dah. Unless the guy has been faking how conflicted he is, because that’s what the producers want, how could he possibly ask one woman for her hand in marriage, when only moments before he was crying over the decision? You can’t go from "in love with three women" to "will you spend your life with me." Unless you see the whole idea of engagement as a trial-run. When you get engaged to someone, you should both be thinking, I’d marry this person tomorrow.

He might tell Vienna he wants to keep seeing her, exclusively, or some equally lameass bullshine. Ugh, and he’s going to be with her on After the Final Rose, say he’s so so happy. Vomitando. They’ll break up, and we’ll see him on The Bachelorette, begging Ali for another chance, mid-season. Though I think she should pass that shit up and pick a guy with a little more soul and funk.

Okay, that wasn’t the final thought: I want to host an Oscar’s party again, but think it’s impossible to pull off so last minute (and still work—I’m overwhelmed as it is). Because I can’t do anything simple. I’d need special ballots, a special menu, swag bags. You know the drill. If it’s done half-assed, I’d rather do nothing at all. Ooh, or maybe I’ll just have a "If you have nothing nice to say, come sit by me" pre-show party! Where we only dish on fashion, as we drink up a special catty cocktail! Might have to happen.



  1. I’ve been watching, too, and am not crazy about any of the girls. Ali seems to like stirring up trouble. I think he’ll choose Vienna.

  2. If Facebook does decide to open an office in Austin like they are discussing maybe Ali will transfer from San Francisco and then Jake can move his business from Denton.

  3. Admittedly, I’m watching the bachelor tonight. Opted out of plans with friends for it. As well as tomorrow night, for lost. When did I become this person who refuses to live, so I can watch other lives on TV?

  4. I can’t help it. I like Jake. I know by your standards, he’s celery, not funnel cake. He seems safe, but with abs.

  5. If you do have a shabbat dinner, will you please post ideas for it, including entertainment/tablescape photos and ideas? And also, please, I beg of you, a post on what hair products you use!

  6. Thanks for the idea! I love the idea of a pre-show only Oscar party. Because the Academy Awards go on forever, way too late. But the red carpet can be rolled out only so far.

  7. I was thinking of making challah bread at home, too. What kind of flour will you use? Cake? Bread? A combination? Also looking forward to the soup recipe you used (and those Eviltinis from forever ago, and those Pecan bars!)

  8. Think they’ll at least announce that Ali is the next Bachelorette on tonight’s after the final rose?

  9. Yup. Vienna. “The girl named after a sausage.” I’m with you on so many levels Stephanie.

  10. I love your quirky thought process. And I love that even though you’re a published author you still do writing exercises. You totally inspire me! Okay, you can all go vomit now.

  11. I’m not Jewish, but my husband is. I’m all for potlucks, and “adult sleepovers” as you once said. How about a French toast challah brunch shabbat?

  12. I love what you wrote about your kids making challah at school, and shabbat dinners…. I remember we all made challah once at my hebrew school, and it was a lot of fun and actually turned out well. Recently I tried to make it at home with less exciting results (Mark Bittman recipe — is it just me or are all his recipes a little bit off, because he tries to make everything so simple and “easy”?)
    Anyway I loved the train-of-thought-ness of this post, it brought back a lot of (random) memories for me :)
    Happy Purim! This is the one where we get drunk right?

    1. Author

      Aren’t they all the ones where we get drunk? Think about it… passover Seder. It’s loooong, and there are lots of “we now sip from the wine” passages.

  13. You once wrote a post about friendship in the details. I sent it to all my friends, and this post reminded me of that. I love the way you write about relationships. FWIW, you’re the type of person I’d want next door, to come over and dish with, figuratively and literally.

  14. I want an advance copy of the menu at the Governor’s Ball (the after party). AND of your Shabbat dinner. Do you do “tot shabbat” at your j?

  15. I’m a food snob and need to know your Austin food favorites because I know (and agree with) your taste in New York restaurants. Thanks again.

  16. I saw you on Rachel Ray and have been reading since. I sent you an advice email a few times, and genuinely want to know what you think (time is ticking), gentle nudge.

  17. You’ve inspired me to make my first shabbat dinner with friends of friends (we’re all single). Now where is your menu for that? And the soup recipe, please!

  18. PLEASE post links to your earlier Oscar party ideas and menu! I can’t find it. Thanks!!!

  19. My stepmom is a Jew and we had some fun party holidays. But PURIM- all I think of is that F***ng freak ass Madonna dressed in all white weirdo outfits marching her kids around. UGH.

    Why do you write ‘can’t shit for days..’ then say ‘bullshine’ instead of bullshit? These are the burning questions.

    Screw the Oscars party prep. Order it all and say you did it. Who cares if it’s not true? Done.

    Am I the ONLY ONE who thinks Vienna is hideously ugly (the FACE) great shape, sure- butterFACE! She’s really trashy and I do not see the appeal of her at ALL. And I only know from a montage of clips I won’t sit through that show. I made a pact to myself reality shows are to be avoided as they corrode the brain! But yeah. She’s uglier than sin.

  20. I love love love this: “”If you have nothing nice to say, come sit by me” pre-show party!” My friends and I from Austin would so love to do that….although I live in Southern California now. Thank you for letting me enjoy pieces of Austin on your posts, I truly enjoy them.

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