September 30, 2007

-image-memo to chargers’ owner dean spanos:

Dude ….

Fire this goober, our new head coach …
… who’s taken a team that was 14-2 last year — the best record in the NFL — and lead them to a 1-3 start this season.

Mmkay, dude?

Then get down on your rickety ole knees and beg and plead and cajole this man to come back …. nnnnnnowww!

That is all.


LaDainian Tomlinson

P.S. I have your mangy kitty. Do as I say or kitty gets punted.

September 27, 2007

-image-riding the tide of insanity

The last few weeks have been especially stressful. We’ve seen the rise of my Inner Shaniqua. And now there’s the emergence of MB’s Lurking Hobo.

Out of the blue, as we’re driving in the car tonight … his face is set, his eyes forward, determined, as he mutters:

HE: I’m totally gonna take a d*mp in the ice machine.
ME: You are NOT gonna take a d*mp in the ice machine. Who has access to the ice machine? Everyone would know you took the d*mp in the ice machine.
HE: (without missing a beat) I’m gonna pee on the floor in the bathroom.
ME: (trying to soothe) Okay …. okay.

Sometimes you just gotta understand what your man needs, you know?

September 26, 2007

-image-color food

So I’m still hazy but not feverish. Thanks for the well wishes.

This weekend is the end of B*heme.

MB is working late and I’m sitting here having anxiety and eating orange food. Pretty much only orange food: Cheetos and tomato soup and Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

And will you think less of me if I tell you that they all go in the same bowl?

And will you think less of me if I tell you I’ll be watching the second installment of “Kid Nation” * — which I actually think is brilliant — whilst eating my MacCheetoToms?

I still have more to say about B*heme. But not now, not tonight. I need to try to relax.

So. Let’s see. You could tell me something weird that YOU eat.

(And how do I make mine because it sound so delicious, you ask? Well, take mac and plop in bowl. Splash bit of tomato soup on top, like sauce. Add crumbled Cheetos topping. Brush teeth immediately after. This is just how I do it because I know if I accidentally see my cheesy orange tongue later, I will scream. But that’s just me.)

*Okay. Wait. The little kid Jimmy, who was all homesick last week, sobbing, “I’m only 8 years old! I miss my mom and dad!”? Fuggedaboudit. And the 12-year-old girl from Boston who tried to comfort him saying — with her thick Boston accent, “Well, I know how much you miss them. But can you let me kinda stand in for your mahm and dad for a little while? I’d like to do that for you.”? Oh, I was gone. Bawling. So touching. WATCH the show. Don’t just write it off because of the controversy surrounding it. I think it’s going to become more substantive than people realize.

Okay. Wait again. The debate on “Kid Nation” amongst the 40 kids right now is “Will we kill a chicken?” A bunch of kids were all upset and then this no-nonsense black kid, about 11 years old, stands up and says, “How many of you eat chicken at home?”

Most kids raise their hands.

So the kid says, channeling his inner Shaniqua, “Okay. So what’s different now? Are y’all in love with the chickens or something?”

Another kid, clearly a poet, says into the camera, “As Shakespeare said, ‘To kill or not to kill?'”

I love these kids, this whole show.

September 25, 2007

-image-a book report on “the jane austen book club”

Uhm, ssnnnnnore. I was on the same page for days because I kept dozing off and snorting myself awake. But I will say that the book does serve a larger purpose: Reminding you with every turn of the page that there are much better books you could be reading.

Annnnd …. scene.

Hey, I said it was a book report. Not a book review. All my book reports were like this. Deal.

Oh, and, you know, maybe the movie will be better. They made most of the characters 10 years younger because you simply cannot be 40 or 50 or 60 in a movie — or in life, for that matter — and be IN LOVE! Everyone knows that this is gross. I’m sure Jane Austen would think so, too. I mean, come on. We all know that she died because she hit her forties, realized she was gross, and succumbed to her abject grossness.


I think I’ve hit the high points here. The salient points. I’m pleased with it.

A big boo-bye to that book.

Oh, update. When I got my report back from the teacher, Miss Standifer, she had scribbled ALL over it in green pen:

Needs more details. Basic plot points, for instance? Themes? Names of characters, even? Tracey, did you even read this book or just the book jacket? And what does the movie have to do with it? Or Jane Austen’s tragic death? Additionally, I’m not sure I understand your use of the word “deal.” Is it functioning as a noun or a verb? It’s unclear. And may I say, speaking for the older woman, I do not think we are “gross.” Frankly, I’m disappointed. You’re capable of a better effort. But with the exceptions of “Annnnd,” “ssnnnnnore,” and “boo-bye” — which isn’t even a word — you spelled the remaining words correctly, which is more than I can say for the rest of the class, so I’m giving you a C+.

Whatevs, Miss Standifer, my 6th grade nemesis. I never liked you.

-image-master of the house

You know you’re really done with your coffeehouse and its people when you go out to lunch (last week before your general malaisia struck) and the waiter, who was really the best, most hoppin’ waiter you’ve had in a long long time, brings you an extra unrequested basket of fresh zucchini bread and you ooh and ahh and make a fuss and you take it home in a neat little box and then — you SELL IT AT YOUR COFFEEHOUSE THE NEXT DAY FOR A BUCK FIFTY A SLICE.

Later you realize …. but not until after you sell the last slice, strangely …. that you have now become Thenardier.

You know ……. (sing it with me, y’all)

Food beyond compare
Food beyond belief
Mix it in a mincer
And pretend it’s beef
Kidney of a horse
Liver of a cat
Filling up the sausages
With this and that

Bread you got for free
Bread now in plain view
Stuff it in a basket
And pretend it’s new
Did you make this, ma’am?
Why, who wants to know?
Here you need another one

You know …… uhm, like that.

September 24, 2007

-image-down for the count

Okay, my dearies. I’m running a fever and feel generally grody. On the upside, I have never LOOKED better, believe me.

I suppose I could write a post in this state of delirium — and personally, I think I’m never more entertaining than when I’m delirious — but I actually really can’t see straight. Everything is kinda wavy. Hold still, dammit!

So it’s 4:45 p.m. and I’m going to bed. Seriously. MB just took off my shoes and encountered my feverish feet. (I’m sorry, MB, don’t leave me.) He’s set me up with my box of Puffs and OJ and demanded I become unconscious pronto. Poor man. I’m sure he just needs a break.

So good night, moon.

Er, sun.

September 23, 2007

-image-open arms

I leave the radio on at B*heme, just tuned to a generic, inoffensive pop music station. You must have background music at a coffeehouse or the silence is deafening and encourages more random intolerable babbling.

So this long-haired dude came into B*heme today. We must have been in a momentary time warp because Journey’s schmaltzy “Open Arms” was playing on the radio. The dude ordered an iced Americano and chatted with MB while I made the drink. Moments later, when I handed him the drink, he paused, listened to the song and said, “Man. I feel like I should make out with my coffee or something.”

And we just died laughing as he smiled and walked out to the sidewalk.

September 21, 2007

-image-a spiritual question

About being unequally yoked to Baby Button Eyes is now in the comments here. I’m open to discussion about it. Honestly, I’m confused and …. stuff.

September 20, 2007


I think the day-to-day drain of Boheme may very possibly be causing the erosion of my entire personality. Like the tectonic plates of my character are shifting and crashing and forming a whole new continent of me. A very inhospitable one. Or a penal colony, like Australia.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Since we opened, the sidewalk seats and tables have been popular flop spots for various and sundry unsavories. There’s no railing out there to set the tables apart from the general flow of foot traffic. (Well, there was one, illegally, for about 2 weeks. Thank you, Baby Button Eyes. Another story.) This means that any Hobo Joe, exhausted from all his napping and drinking and hallucinating, has been able to squat his moldy bum on my chairs and plop his shopping bag of hand-me-downs on my tables.

In the beginning, I was a bit intimidated. I mean, they were large. They were insane and mumbly. They were catastrophically grubby. And they’d park there, in my chairs, buying nothing from me, of course, because they were already sipping loudly on their well-worn bottles of VitaminWater filled with suspicious amber liquid. If I let them, they’d lounge there all day. I soon discovered I was in danger of owning a hobo coffeehouse. A coffeehouse that screamed, “Tired of sleeping in Cardboard Canyon? Sleep here instead!”

I decided I didn’t want that.

So I began to clean house.

“Can I get you a coffee?” I’d say. Uhm, hint hint.

Sometimes they’d scrounge enough mud-caked coins from their pockets to buy a small coffee and go back to the business of sitting. But at least they’d paid for the squat.

Other times, they’d say, “Uhh, no.”

And I’d reply, “I’m sorry. These seats are for customers only” while staring steadily at them until they left.

As time went on, this became my routine. Subtly offer them coffee, apologize firmly about the seating, stare til they left. It worked okay.

Most of the time.

About a month ago, a man flopped himself down in one of the sidewalk chairs. He didn’t look blatantly homeless, but he wasn’t entirely clean either. He wore a dress shirt and khaki pants that looked like they’d been worn for a few days. Wrinkly. Damp. There was just an overall lack of freshness, I guess. A plastic grocery bag sat in his lap. A cell phone was stuck to his ear. One hand dug in the bag. The other held the phone. I wasn’t sure what was going on, really, I just knew he’d been sitting there for a while now.

So I approached and did my routine. The offer. The apology. The steady stare.

He just stared back at me. I stood my ground.

Finally, belligerently, “What? Do you think I’m homeless or something?”

I paused to think. Honestly, I still wasn’t sure.

“No,” I said, “I think you’re sitting in my chair and you need to buy something or go.”

He didn’t budge. A few more words into his cell phone.

I was done with him. “Hit the bricks, dude. NNNOW!”

His eyes rolled up and over to the side as he threw me a slanty dirty look. He got up, very slowly — for effect, I could tell — threw me another look, and shuffled off down the sidewalk.

At that moment, the plates shifted inside me. I felt it. It made me reckless.

A week after that, while on my cell phone with My Beloved, I started my routine with two mangy looking dudes in wifebeater t-shirts whose arms were blue-green from tattoos. They were exchanging money. What was going on? Was this a drug deal? Who cared, dammit! They weren’t buying any coffee! They weren’t gonna sit in my chairs!

After they refused the subtle offer, I announced loudly, “Well, then you need to leave.”

“We’re just hanging out,” one said.

“What’s going on?” MB said inside the cell phone.

“Not at my tables, you’re not. Hit the bricks.”

Hit the bricks was all the rage with me.

“Tray …. what the hell is going on?” MB’s voice rising. “Do I need to come over there?”

I didn’t answer him. The plates were crashing and I was proclaiming all over the place.


“F*cking A, lady.”

“Honey, honey … stop … what … I’m coming there right now!”

The dudes stood up. They were very tall and very tattoed and I was going to be killed.

“J*sus Chr*st!” They stared down at me. I stared at them and I know I looked insane. I don’t know how I know. Except that they walked away and I ran inside, shaking, MB yelling at me inside the cell phone.

And with each incident, somehow, the geography of who I was was changing, the crust was stretching. I felt strong. I felt insane. I kinda liked it.

Then today.

The deadly lunchtime lull. A nicely dressed businessman pulled up a chair outside while I watched him from my perch inside, sized him up. Head tilted to the side. Cell phone smushed against his shoulder. Talking. Legal pad folder open on the table. I waited and timed him. Gave him 10 minutes or so.

Then I approached with the routine. I was so tired of doing this.

“Can I get you a coffee or something?” He was still on the phone.

And he didn’t acknowledge me. Didn’t even look at me. Raised his free hand, dangled the fingers, and shooed me away. Dismissed me entirely.

And in the two seconds that followed, I felt it again. This time, the continents collided, exploded. The massive continent of the one me against the massive continent of … my inner Shaniqua. I have no idea where she came from. I only know she suddenly stormed front and center and she was big and black and mouthy. In an instant, I was a giant, kick-ass black woman. Oh, no. He di’int just do dat.

“Then you need to GO.” He kept talking on his phone. Didn’t look at me. Shooed me away. AGAIN.

Shaniqua roared out of me. She grabbed his opened folder, closed it, and walked away with it, plopping it forcefully on an outside table at the deli next door. As she walked past him back into B*home, she yelled:


Once inside, I started shaking. I saw him hang up his phone. Here he comes. He was raging at me.


I had no idea who “we” was. And I knew “this place” meant the wine lounge, not little B*heme. Shaniqua wasn’t done.


My voice … where was it coming from? Shaniqua was loud, man. He stomped away, but I knew he couldn’t really do it. I knew he’d come right back. Here he comes again.


Shaniqua interrupted.



Finally, he stomped off for good. I stood shaking for several minutes until Shaniqua subsided a bit. I grabbed my phone and called MB.

“Well … guess what I just did?” I said, quavery voiced.

And MB talked softly to me for a long time until the plates stopped rumbling and all was quiet inside.

September 19, 2007

-image-the thing is ….

The thing is ….

I may just be temperamentally unsuited to be a coffeehouse mistress. At least the kind I have to be at little B*heme. This is one of the things I’ve learned. Quite arduously and repeatedly, I might add, lo! these many months. And this is likely to be one of those rambling, sweet-Jesus-what-the-heck-is-she-talking-about posts. Sigh. I’m trying, peeps. I’m just worn down to a nub right now. Forgive me.

But I’m not kidding when I call it “little B*heme.” Just to go through some logistics here: My primary coffeehouse area is 276 square feet. I have 2 tables in this area that seat 2 people each. My front doors are always open — literally — so I’m a kind of indoor/outdoor coffeehouse. The sidewalk area has 3 tables, seating, oh, about 10-12 people. In the very back of the building is the private bamboo patio. That seats about 25-30. To get there, you have to walk through the wine lounge. People go back there, they like it there, but the main action, so to speak, is up front.

And this is bad.

Because somehow, over the last several months, I have managed to open a gaping Pandora’s box of conversation and I just cannot get. it. to. SHUT.

No. I’m a prisoner in my own space. There is literally nowhere to hide. I can’t leave the area unattended; I’m by myself most of the time. Just to use the bathroom only a few feet away, I must lock up the register, run — quick like a bunny, and pee faster than anyone in the world has ever peed. Even that boy in third grade who peed so fast and deadly during the class spelling bee that we spellers didn’t know until the floor got slick under the soles of our wallabees. Poor kid. He peed a puddle AND he couldn’t spell Caesar.

So — as I was saying somewhere back there, ahem — when solo customers come in and sit in this teensy area, I am naked, exposed, a captive audience to whatever it is they feel they simply MUST talk about. Right then and there. For hours on end. Ad infinitum. I’m not kidding. There are probably at least a dozen customers who come in regularly who make my heart sink like a stone when I see them because I know they will stay and stay and stay and staaaaay, like the worst zit you’ve ever begged God to be rid of. They will come in and set up camp and part of their camp is somehow me — conversation with me — because, apparently, in the beginning I seemed friendly and open and conversationally accommodating. None of which I actually AM. No. I am snarky and closed and conversationally intolerant. But, through the magic of improvisational theater, I have managed to create a credible character — coincidentally also named Tracey — who likes nothing more than people who drone on endlessly about nothing. Tell her what’s on your shopping list? She is agape. Lecture her about the films of Luis Bunuel? She will sit and take notes. Share about how you ripped a really good one and stunk up your house for hours and hours? Why, that’s Tracey’s most favorite thing to hear! Please tell her more, Mr. Fudgypants! Seriously, it is the single greatest acting job of my life and I have performed it 6 days a week, 9 hours a day, for 7 months now. Talk about yer Long Day’s Journey into Night. Except without the blessed haze of morphine addiction. And without a thundering ovation. And without a damn-ass boquet of smelly roses.

Look. It’s not that I hate these people, although I realize it sounds like I do. It’s just … they quite literally exhaust me. I go home at the end of the day and I’m not physically tired; I am emotionally worn down. Shredded. I’m not an extrovert. I can seem pretty gregarious, but to do so, I must really work at it. When I discovered theater as a kid, I was the shyest girl in school. One of those painfully shy, perpetually red-faced types. Acting brought me out of that shell but it didn’t take the shell away. I like my shell. I need my shell. I like to decide when I come out of it and when I go back inside and regroup. Recoup. But I don’t have that luxury at B*heme. It’s like every day I’m hosting a party where someone else has chosen the guest list. I’m always anxious about who’s gonna show up next. I’m always anxious about having to be “on.” I’m always anxious about how long certain people, who have serious misapprehensions about my charms, will stay. The anxiety makes me cranky. And, you know, when these customers show up, they’re not coming for conversation, even though I’ve called it that. To me conversation means give and take and, honestly, there ain’t none of that going on. Nope. They come to talk at me and to hear themselves talk. It is almost completely one-sided. A kind of monologue … written by a playwright of dubious distinction.

Unfortunately, most of the time there’s no deterrent for this batch of talkers. I mean, I could be in deep shackle to a conversation, see another customer approaching, and think, Aha! Salvation is at hand! Their mere presence will break the conversational shackles! It will! It must! Nope. It doesn’t. The talker just continues to talk at me as if the new person isn’t there because — I don’t know — they’re OCD or something or I’ve become their listening ear, their shrink, their priest. I mean, what to do when your ears are sprinters and their mouths are marathoners? I don’t know. Slit your wrists or something? Seriously. I could slit my wrists in front of them — because of them — and they would not miss a beat blabbing on about how to make salmon cakes with crackers. Then they would blab through my tearjerking memorial service and haunt my grave, blabbing, blabbing, eternally from 6 feet above me. I am dead. You have killed me. Please please pleeeease shut up.

There are times when one of these people is hanging around, where I act aloof, uninterested, brusque even. Then I pull up a stool and try to hide behind my mammoth espresso machine. But it’s not long before I hear a voice, wheedling, “Traaaaaacey, aren’t you gonna come talk to me? Come onnnnn.” This happens more times than I can count, no matter how many signals I put out that “the doctor is OUT.” And I cannot do it anymore. I’m simply not suited to it. I’m exhausted. I feel trapped. I AM trapped. I’m not extroverted enough to make it work and B*heme isn’t busy enough to make such endless conversations impossible.

I’m tired of feeling that gray sinking doom when I see certain people lumbering up the sidewalk.

And I’m tired of feeling guilty about the gray sinking doom. You know?

So really …. well, that’s the thing.

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress