October 26th, 2005


Tonight's graduate class was devoted to A) a discussion of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, a novel of dissolute late 1960s Hollywood, and her non-fiction about the same period from The White Album; B) a screening of the Maysles brothers' classic documentary Gimme Shelter, chronicling the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour and its savage conclusion at Altamont. It was a devastating and highly instructive combination. The shot of Keith Richards singing along to "Wild Horses" in Alabama's famous Muscle Shoals studio, followed by a close-up of his weather-worn cowboy boots keeping time is one of my favorite film moments. And Didion means the world to me. It was a great night in the classroom.

Birthday Shivers

Bean is already showing her newfound maturity. When she got up in the middle of the night for a drink of water, I tried to steer her away from the dining-room table. But she insisted on sitting at her usual place. A number of her presents were arrayed in front of her. She contemplated them while drinking her water, then went straight back to bed.

She woke up this morning and excitedly declared to us, "I'm seven!," then proceeded calmly to the table. So far she has only opened one present. Luckily, it was the one she was most expecting to get. It's Shiver from Barbie: The Magic of Pegasus. This instantiation makes baby gurgles and has cheeks that light up with a rosy glow. But it's nothing compared to the glow on our daughter's face.

It's going to be a very good day. We head up to her school in the early afternoon to distribute Krispy Kreme doughnuts to her class. Then, after I'm done teaching, I pick up Kim's best-friend and Skylar's favorite relative-by-choice, Sami. Once we arrive home, there will be cake and more presents with her grandparents and possibly others. Eventually, Kim and I may even find time to commemorate our wedding anniversary by doing something fun together.

Most Valuable

WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, the league's most decorated player, has come out of the closet. This move is sure to get all kinds of press. I applaud her, not only for taking a huge risk, but for doing her best to be true to her own experience of the complexity of desire:
"Do I think I was born this way? No," Swoopes said. "And that's probably confusing to some, because I know a lot of people believe that you are."

Swoopes, who was married and has an 8-year-old son, said her 1999 divorce "wasn't because I'm gay."

She said her reason for coming out now is merely because she wants to be honest.

"It's not something that I want to throw in people's faces. I'm just at a point in my life where I'm tired of having to pretend to be somebody I'm not," the 34-year-old Swoopes said. "I'm tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about. About the person I love."
Here's hoping that the league's fans, a decent percentage of whom are lesbians, give her the support that others may deny her.

Days of Exhaustion

Today was a great day, overall, but a trying one too. Skylar was in fine form this morning and afternoon, but had a meltdown before the cutting of her birthday cake. She was tired and overstimulated. So were we. Luckily, with the support of siyeh -- Skylar's first sitter since 2001 -- and samifo, we were able to wait out the crisis.

Skylar's behavior made me remember the conclusion of our wedding nine years ago. After the inevitably drawn out series of goodbyes that accompany events of that sort, we drove from Stinson Beach to Bolinas for a nightcap with some of our closest friends. We were already drained beyond belief at that point, but managed to enjoy a little more companionship before embarking on the long drive to SFO. As we climbed the perilous stretch of Highway 1 just south of Stinson Beach, We pulled to the side of the road. Cat Stevens' was singing "Miles From Nowhere" on a tape of our wedding soundtrack that Joel had made for us. She started to cry. I felt like crying too.

Later, as we were driving through San Francisco in the then-new Old Red, which letter_2elise and Melissa from BTF had given the customary "Just Married" decoration, the honking of passing cars became more pronounced. Kim insisted I honk back. I told her that, since the honking was for us, it didn't make sense to honk back. We began to argue. By the time we made it to Burlingame, our nerves had given out completely. We ended up driving aimlessly down empty, industrial streets next to 101 until we literally came to the end of the road. For a minute or two, I was overcome with despair. And then we both pulled it together. When we checked into the Hyatt fifteen minutes later, we were once again communicating reasonably. Kim sent me down to look for food. I found very little. Still, the crisis was passed. We passed out.

The next morning I decided we should take advantage of the fact that we had a room before departing. The resulting delay nearly led to us missing our plane. I was glad we'd commemorated our strange stay with something more than a futile search for sandwiches. I mention all this now because the thing that made Skylar so unhappy tonight was a slip-up where, in response to my parents wishing her a happy birthday over the phone, she replied, "Happy birthday to you too!," only to feel extremely self-conscious once she realized her mistake. Just as happened with the honking, then, the question of whether a greeting should me mirrored back to the greeter led to trouble. I suppose, though, that she simply needed to blow off steam, just as Kim and I clearly did in the wake of the wedding.

Champagne Supernova

As Kim has noted on her blog, our wedding day, 10/26/96, was filled with highlights, the brightest of which was the sense of community created by the presence of so many loved ones, including LJers letter_2elise, cpratt, leela_cat, masoo, batdina, danlmarmot, and samifo. I second the importance of all the moments she mentions and want to note others: JF and I performing a rousing version of the Cal fight song; FD, BS, AB and others doing the hula hoop with aplomb; walking up the street to where the smokers were congregating and having the nerve to join them; standing over my dad's rental car with TS, listening to the Yankees clinch the World Series; watching RH stare longingly at two lovebirds making out; greeting BJ and her husband and recalling her as a four-year-old playing with my sister; observing a moment of reverence for the two Pavement songs on the soundtrack; and, crucially, being dazzled by the shimmering beauty of my partner in both her cream and green dresses.

And then there was the food. Although the caterers had supposedly set aside plates for us, anticipating that we wouldn't get to eat much during the wedding itself, those plates had disappeared by its conclusion. This made us unhappy, since we'd invested a lot in the food and wanted to see how it tasted for ourselves. Luckily, though, we were able to indulge in the pre-dinner course of champagne and chocolate truffles.

For several years, Kim and I had been making a pilgrimage to the City in order to pick up the Chocolate Argonaut's sublime creations. Better than Cocolat, better than Joseph Schmidt, their truffles were the pinnacle of rich, chocolatey goodness. Whenever we needed a gift for someone, we'd bring them a selection of their wares. No one complained. One year, perhaps 1995, Kim took me to the Chocolate Argonaut's Market Street location for a birthday dinner. The main course was delicious. But the dessert blew it away. It was too complex to describe. For all that, though, I would have been happiest with a few of their classic Gran Marnier and champagne truffles. Those were the flavors we selected for the wedding. They were gone in a flash. But no one who ate them will ever forget their magnificence. I miss the Chocolate Argonaut. And I miss you.
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