How to choose a husband

How to choose a husband

Handwritten page of a diary dated August 21, 1983

even though I knew she’d laugh. But she was leaving for college and all of a sudden I felt like I hadn’t shared anything useful with her. About life.

I said “look carefully at this picture. It was taken when we decorated the car for your Uncle Dan’s wedding.”

She laughed even harder than I expected she would. I asked her if she knew which one was her dad, because she’s only seen him three times, and none of them were all too recent. But she pointed at him and she was right. So I asked if she knew why, with all these really good guys around me all the time, why I chose him.

She said, “Because he was the only one who was taller than your hair?” And then I let her laugh it out again.

I tried to explain to her that at the time, he seemed like the coolest one and she said “Well, yeah, with a bunch of guys wearing those dorky hats, I guess it didn’t take much to be the coolest.”

I said “and you know which one is the one who is more like a dad to you?” but she couldn’t believe that was Walter in the green hat, and she said he should’ve kept those cool Elvis Costello glasses instead of getting the ones he has now.

I started telling her you can date all the bad boys you want as long as you don’t get pregnant, but when it comes to choosing a husband, now that’s a whole different story and I told her she could benefit from understanding my mistake. She looked at the picture for a long time and then handed it back and I asked her if she’d learned anything.

She said, “Yeah. Don’t ever go near a person with a camera if you have weird hair or a dumb hat.”


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Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Refrigerator magnet defense

Refrigerator magnets spell "punch me in the face"Handwritten page of a diary dated July 18, 1977

so, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I will now tell you why I should be pronounced innocent and not be sent to jail (my bedroom).

That’s the way I was talking to my mom. It was risky because sometimes she tells me not to be a wisenheimer, but sometimes I can get a smile out of her, especially if she had a really boring day at work.

She said “Your brother says you smacked him. Did you?”

“That’s an interesting question your honor. I would have to say that yes, technically I did hit him, but I have a reason. He spelled PUNCH ME IN THE FACE with the refrigerator magnets.”

She looked over at the refrigerator and the sentence was gone by now. Luckily I thought ahead, and presented her with Exhibit A, which was a Polaroid picture I took that morning to prove that sentence was there.

I said “Your honor, said boy needs to learn that you shouldn’t say that type of thing unless you mean it, and therefore I think I should be given leniency since I taught him a valuable lesson he can use later in his life.”

She was rubbing her temples, which is never a good sign. I said “your honor if you’ll take a closer look at Exhibit A you’ll see that he wasn’t just goofing around! He went to a lot of trouble to spell out this exact sentence, seeing’s how we lost all the E magnets and he had to use the upside down 3s. I believe this should be seen as a cry for help on his part, and I think your honor should rule that he gets the help he so desperately needs.”

Well, she didn’t thank me like I wanted, ha ha, but at least she didn’t


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Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Stilts on parade

Man in bird costume leads parade

Handwritten page of a diary dated May 19, 1996

weird to live on a parade route.

I remember the first time I figured it out, when we first moved here I was sitting in my room writing a paper for history and I heard an old-fashioned marching-band song, which made me think I was hearing the song from thinking too hard about my homework concerning the end of World War I, except then this band started to play some Fleetwood Mac song which couldn’t have been played in 1918.

My sister started screaming her head off, and I thought maybe it was a real band and I went outside like everyone else. Then, since we were new and didn’t know what occasions would call for a parade in this town (a lot of them) every so often you’d just hear a marching band and there was another parade.

I started noticing that this one guy is usually in the parade — a guy who is pretending to ride a giant bird. On the one hand you want to like him because he built something quite genius, but he always has this mean look on his face. Even when we yell nice things at him about his most excellent bird, he just looks straight ahead.

If I were him, I’d be smiling at my fans. I keep telling my mom I’m going to build something like that and ride it in all the parades and she says don’t just talk about it, do it. And I tell her I will do it. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet because it’ll be good and I’ll get famous and I haven’t decided whether I want the paparazzi to follow me around all the time like they follow around Prince William.


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Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Watch that pin, you beatnik

Watch that pin, you beatnik

Handwritten page of a diary dated November 5, 1982

and if you ask me my mom shoulda looked closer at this picture before she married my dad. He has a pin near her bare skin to try to get her flowers on, and he’s not even paying attention! (as usual). Looks to me like he’s craning his neck to get a look at a football game on TV in the next room and I bet he wished he could be just vegging out with some cocktails with my grandfather on the sofa instead of having to go to a dance.

Knowing my mom, she was only worried that her mother would come in and think Dad was trying to get a grope. She shoulda been more worried that she was about to become an indentured servant for the laziest man in the U.S. of A.

The only thing I give him credit for is he had a goatee, which was gutsy back then since it mighta made adults think he was trying to be a beatnik. I heard that my grandmother told my mom she hoped dad wasn’t a “hood” and my mom told her not to worry, which in a way was true, because my dad was too lazy to get any plans together to get in any big trouble.

My mom just looks like a regular girl there so it’s a good thing she was before her time and wanted to go to law school like most girls didn’t back then. Otherwise we mighta ended up living in a cardboard washing machine box, since my dad never had a plan in his life.

Oh well, at least he learned how to cook a little so we didn’t have to eat pizza from a box every night. If you let him drink beer in the afternoon, he can make a decent dinner. Just don’t expect him to do the dishes afterwards. My mom says she doesn’t mind doing it, but I help her because I think he’s taking advantage of her good nature. Don’t ask me why she still likes him.


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Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

1st and 2nd wife

1st and 2nd wife

Handwritten page of a diary dated Dec 2, 2009

emailed me this 1930s picture and said she found it with this title “Emil’s 1st and 2nd wife.”

This is part of the email she wrote: “So these two are like you and Josie — hanging around together and trying to act like it don’t bother you. Has Don taken a picture of you two together as in this picture, all intertwined? ha ha.”

She’s more freaked out about this than I am by a long way. Josie’s not so bad. She left Don of her own choosing, and she went out and tried to have some freedom for four years, but she missed her house. It’s a big house, and it does half belong to her, so what could I say when he told me she was moving back into the upstairs?

And I have to admit, I liked her after the awkwardness went away. She’s funny and she made sure to tell me she has no desire to have Don back in her bed, in this lifetime or the next several. And he holds hands with me right in front of her all the time. And sometimes she tells me to go off with him and she’ll do the dishes herself.

Maybe I’m too trusting, but I wouldn’t even worry if they were in the house without me overnight.

And btw, no, if Don wanted to take a picture of Josie and me in the grass in a pose like that, I bet we’d both just laugh at him.


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Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Mullet men

Mullet men

Handwritten page of a diary dated Jan. 26, 2003

half the time I have no idea why he starts certain conversations. Like today, he pulls out this black and white picture of a bunch of guys and asks me what they have in common. I said, ‘bow ties”  He said what else? I said most of them have mullets. He said they all do and I said no, only the guys where you can see their ears, and we had this big argument about the proper hair placement for a mullet.

Then, after we didn’t speak for about 5 minutes, he said, if you had to go on a date with one of them, which one would you pick? I said shut up. He said he wanted to know and I said it’s just going to start an argument and he said it wouldn’t and I said I’ll bet you twenty bucks it will, and he said he’d take that bet.

I said if I can’t know anything else about them or hear them talk first, I’ll take either the third guy from the left in the middle row or the second from the left in the bottom row.

For a while I thought I’d lost the bet, because he was really quiet, but then half an hour later he said neither of the guys I picked looked anything like him at all, and I thought, see, here we go. Sure enough he can’t let it go, and one comment leads to another and pretty soon he says fine, I’ll try to find out who they are and get you their phone numbers. Then he walked out and slammed the door.

Well, it’s time to break up with him … but not till I get my TWENTY BUCKS.


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Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Have a seat

Have a seat

Handwritten page of a diary dated Jun 25, 1998

this woman, Jordan, from the office. I thought she’d never go out with me because I’m a little shorter than she is, but I asked her anyway, for lunch on a weekend day, and she said she’d go!!! She said yes!!! I thought maybe she’s just broke and needs a free meal. But I went to pick her up and she was completely all dressed up!!!

So I think, hey, wow, she must consider this a date!!! And she did the nicest thing, she wore these shoes I’ve never seen her wear, and they had these short heels on them, so she’s not towering over me too much.

So I take her out for lunch at a nicer place than I had planned on, since she’s all dolled up, and then I get brave and ask her if she wants to see the houseboat where I live. And she says, yeah sure!!! So I bring her here and she walks around, looking at it like she gives it the Jordan seal of approval, but the damn thing of it was, she just kept her purse on her arm the whole time. I say, you could sit here if you want, and she says no, I’ll just look out on the lake, and then she just keeps walking around. With that purse.

Does that mean she thinks this is a quick tour and then we’re getting right back in the car to take her home? How am I supposed to know? It’s too bad there’s not a way to tell if someone wants to make out with you. Like if their skin turned a different color, so you could just be absolutely sure. You know how people say if you could be a superhero, would you rather fly, or be able to turn invisible? I’d just like to have extrasensory-perception about whether a woman wants me or not. That would save a lot of time.

And we sure wasted a lot of time that day. I sat on the couch, and she walked around with her purse. Until I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I said OK, well, I guess


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Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  



Handwritten page of a diary dated August 1, 1977

grandma tells me I can be anything I want to be. I think, then she should get her boyfriend to clean out the backyard because before he moved in it used to be peaceful back there and it’s where I used to go to paint pictures. People said my imagination was golden.

I’m OK with the idea that I have to grow up in what grandma calls the lowest of the lower middle class. I read that if you get what you want all the time, you go soft. I don’t think I could keep being such an edgy artist if I had a butler to bring me a glass of champagne while I worked. But I do need a little space to get my mind freed up.

If you want to see a choice low low middle class backyard, I found a book in the library with a picture from Paris. It’s junky, but it’s not a bummer like mine. If I coulda been born 60 years ago in Paris, I wouldn’t go to school where spazzes walk around saying May The Force Be With You. I would hang around with tantalizing naked people who would want to pose for me even though I couldn’t afford to pay them very much.


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Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

El Distino

Abandoned motel

Handwritten page of a diary dated July 22, 2007

back to the Salton Sea for our 20th anniversary, and stay at the North Shore Motel, where we stayed for our honeymoon. So we drove over there but what we found wasn’t pretty. The “sea” (actually a huge lake in the middle of California) looks rancid so I guess the tourists stopped coming and the motel is now boarded up.

I said to Bobby, hey remember when we were here before and we went into Mecca and saw that giant man statue by a car repair shop? Let’s go see him again. So we drove to Mecca and went around and around that town without finding it so we stopped some teenager, who informed us the giant man was decapitated for a while, but then just disappeared. He said he had a picture of the man when he still had his head on, and he’d sell us a copy for five bucks, but we said thanks anyway.

I’m telling you this trip seemed doomed, but then people said our marriage seemed doomed, and we stuck that out longer than anyone thought we would.

We drove up a little further to Indio and found a nightclub called El Distino, where we could eat and have a cocktail, and I dragged Bobby out on the dance floor with me. I just decided, we are going to get some passion going tonight, even if it has to kill me, and for a while, I thought it might. But then while we were dancing, some song came on, and I’d never heard it before, but all of a sudden it was like a spell came over Bobby, and he turned into Don Juan. He got his mouth right up to my ear, which was nice because it reminded me of when he used to whisper to me all the time, and he said what I’d been waiting to hear for almost a decade


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Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Dinner roll limerick

Dinner rolls

Handwritten page of a diary dated June 30, 1970

I mean it’s a commune. It’s supposed to have a mellow vibe. And when Willow invited me to drive down from Maine and join them, she said everyone would make me feel comfortable right away. But I can’t really say that’s how it went down.

It was a rough day. If not for Willow, I woulda been outta here. I got there at dawn, so I tried to help out in the barn, but they didn’t tell me what to do, and I’d never been in a barn. So I offered to help with meals. Someone said ‘hey, brother, you know how to make rolls?’ He said he asks everyone because this chick was here last year, and she made good rolls that everyone dug. She had to head out with her old man, but she left a recipe and a photo of the rolls.

I said ‘sure man, I can follow directions.’ Then I got nervous and thought if my rolls are a big drag, I need to have a backup.

So while I was waiting for the dough to rise I wrote this poem I could read out loud at the dinner table:

There was a man from the northeast
Who learned to bake rolls made with yeast.
He buttered them freely
Four teaspoons ideally
No wonder his waistline increased.

They laughed at my poem (cool!) and they ate all the rolls and said I should make more tomorrow. So I guess I’ll hang here a while after all.


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Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment