Unshaven

He presented his library card to me with a trembling hand. He smelled of alcohol, and was unshaven, dirty and disheveled. Yet for all that, he didn’t appear to be homeless or drunk. He was intent and concentrated and something about him made me believe he was trustworthy. And, after all, he did have a library card.

I glanced at the title of the book he wanted . . .

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Public speaking

There’s nothing more terrifying to a shy person than opening your mouth in public. All the more reason to be a writer, no? What do you do when you want to be sitting quietly in the back row, yet you find yourself standing in front of the crowd, expected to speak? And even to make sense?

Here are some helpful tricks to get you through this ordeal . . .

Nuts and bolts

I’m a practical kind of girl, I said, so I think we should take a sort of nuts and bolts look at how this is going to work.

Jeffrey looked at me without comment. I took this as an invitation to continue. First, you are going to pay half the rent. It will be due by the 1st of the month. If I don’t have it on time, you will have to move out.

Jeffrey frowned. I thought we were in love. I didn’t think this was about rent. . . .

White towels

My car died halfway between nowhere and the boondocks on highway 285. There was a house not too far away, I could see something that looked like white towels waving in the wind on a clothesline. I hoped that meant someone was home.

I ducked through the antelope fence and started across the desert, sure that the shortest distance to help was in a straight line. From the road, the desert looks bare, but close up it’s a mine field of cactus spines, holes, and heat. . . .

My great hope

All I could do was say it plain out. Mom, I’m pregnant. I’d imagined all sorts of reactions to this. I thought she might cry, or slap me, or yell at me.

But she didn’t do any of that. She stared at me. Maybe she was breathing a little harder than normal, but otherwise you’d think I told her something mundane, like Mom, the dryer stopped.

Finally she shriveled somehow, folded in on herself, and said, My great hope for you . . .

Corporate Buyouts

NBC just bought iVillage for $600 million dollars in a corporate buyout. In case you’ve never looked, iVillage is a women’s interest site. In iVillage’s mind (and in NBC’s mind apparently) women’s interest turns out to be gossip, astrology, entertainment news, love and sex advice, parenting advice and cooking tips.

It’s not that real women aren’t interested in these topics. I just think that for $600 million smackers, NBC could find itself something a lot more important to buy that represents what real women are thinking. Take a look at the women in the blog-o-sphere, for example, and you’ll find . . .

Mending

Mending a ripped relationship is a lot like mending a ripped seam. If you can get the two sides to cross over the ripped zone and come together for a while. hold still for a while and pay attention, then things might be repaired.

Some people are better at mending than others. When I try it, the stitches are a little clumsy and less than neat. You can always see the spot I mended. Healing relationship woes for me is similar. There’s a little bumpy scar left behind that I . . .

Cookbook

I cut through the hedge to my neighbor’s back yard. The glass on the kitchen door was broken, the door closed. I heard Dudley’s Volkswagen drive by on the street. There were no other sounds.

I peeked through the broken glass to see Sally’s shelf of cookbooks scattered on the kitchen floor. An overturned chair lay near the door. Sally? I called. At the sound of my voice, Sally’s dog Bunko raised his head. I’d missed seeing him under the table. He whimpered and gave a cursory thump of his tail. Please, no, I muttered . . .

Kick butt

The old broad kicks butt in In Her Shoes, a current movie with Shirley MacLaine and a couple of younger chicks who are just plain dim on the screen when Shirley is in the scene. Her talent, charisma, and ability shine. Her performance leaps off the screen and screams that old ain’t dead, old ain’t feeble, and old ain’t useless. Damn, she’s good. You go, girl!

Then there’s Diane Keaton in The Family Stone. Honey, we are talking about kicking butt big time. . . .