Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Laissez les Pancakes Roulez

By Cornelia

Sometimes I get really walloped by depression--the nasty deep bone-crushing kind that makes the idea of brushing my own hair seem more daunting than a run for the South Pole with Shackleton.

The worst thing about it is that tiny things become huge--to-do lists, voicemail messages, sad personal stories heard on NPR in the car. Everything builds up into a great big pile of unmet obligations and deadline guilt until I wonder whether the answer might not be a giant IV of Geritol, like maybe that would snap me out of the desire to huddle on the sofa under a pile of blankets while berating myself with "I should go for a walk, I should take up swimmming laps, I should learn to conjugate irregular Portuguese verbs while simulataneously performing advanced tai chi and folding all this laundry, oh my GOD I never finished writing those last three wedding-present thank-you letters in 1988...."

I can go for weeks like that, and I always seem to forget what really helps stop it, every time: telling someone. Just saying out loud to a friend or two, "You know, I really feel like crap. I'm tired and beat and I don't think I'm too good at being a grownup. I am having trouble folding the laundry and brushing my hair, not necessarily at the same time, vey is mir."

And even though that can seem like the most awful selfish thing in the world to do, at the time, just saying it out loud helps cut things down to size. And if you're really lucky, your friend or two will say something like, "oh please, my mail gets dropped in my garage and I haven't looked at the pile since January," or "you actually know where your hairbrush is? You're way ahead of me. I think mine ran away with the circus around Thanksgiving..."

Last week I said to Patty in an email that I was feeling this way, and she told me something wonderful... that when she gets overwhelmed she thinks of Mary Harman saying:

“Everything's going to be all right, and afterward we're all going to go to the House of Pancakes.”
That's one of the finest spiritual truths I think I've ever run across. So if you're feeling bummed out and overwhelmed and your mail is piling up in the garage, here's a little something to meditate on, in the hope it will ease your burden:

And in the meantime, I want to know what you're going to say to James Lipton when you get invited to be a guest on Inside the Actor's Studio... here are the ten questions Lipton's borrowed from French talk-show host Bernard Pivot:

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]?
4. What turns you off?
5. What is your favorite curse word?
6. What sound or noise do you love?
7. What sound or noise do you hate?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

As for me, I got interviewed by the ever-fabulous Sandra Parshall (author of the Best-First-Novel-Agatha-Award-winning The Heat of the Moon) over at Poe's Deadly Daughters today....


  1. Hopeful Answer to #10: "I think you'll find the view from your cloud quite appealing. We have a sky-high stack of all the books you've wanted to read but haven't had the time, and your flat-screen TV is tuned to the Big 10 Network. As for the Clase Azul tequila you requested, that bends the rules a bit, but what the hell!"

    Likely Answer to #10 (God checking his clipboard). "Hmmm. There seems to be some mistake."

    Cornelia, love that Shackleton reference and photo. If you haven't seen it, "The Endurance" (available on DVD) is a spectacular documentary on the harrowing journey.

  2. I really really REALLY wanted to use the questionnaire during LCC; i wanted to offer it to everyone sending in a bio for being on program but didn't (for one thing, too many of them could not count and sent in bios we had to edit anyway, for two, i wasn't the editor and well, there simply was not time) but I ALSO really wanted to show up at my interview of Gayle with a BIG HUGE stack of blue index cards (for anyone who would get th joke if they watch "In the Actors Studio" on tv) and ask her the questions at the end. Alas, best laid plans.

    The moon is surely in ca-ca lately. Most of the band is depressed on beyond zebra. We probably need to schedul that Madonna Inn weekend.

  3. Paul, the first thing I ever remember hearing about Shackleton was somebody reading a passage aloud from a book about the expedition when I was around ten years old, describing how they tried passing the time by playing cards through the dark antarctic summer, but finally the cards got so grimy from constant use they had to clean them off with blubber. Haunting stuff... and of course it got even more perilous after that.

    Love your answers for #10, and I'm going with the first one for you in the afterlife.

  4. "Depressed beyond zebra" is perfect, Andi. And I think we should have pancakes at the Madonna Inn pronto. Or at least coffee and pie....

  5. My boycott of The Waffle Hosue chain does not extend to IHOP.

    Possibly incorrect trivia:
    Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman) was Woody Allen's first wife. I recall that from childhood.

    Jim B

  6. Louise Lasser was Woody Allen's second wife, but who's counting?

    Belatedly, just saw her as the mother of Lara Flynn Boyle, Jane Adams, and Cynthia Stevenson in Todd Solondz's "Happiness," a tough little movie heavy on angst and pedophilia.

    I believe Louise Lasser is also the daughter of J.K. Lasser, who wrote all those tax books you see on the remainder tables.

  7. Even more trivia: my cousin Rufus Read played Billy in Happiness, which I guess would make him Louise Lasser's fictional grandson.

  8. Ah, Cornelia, we are siblings beneath the skin. The Black Dog visits me so often I've bought him his own bowl.

    And I seem to have passed along the darkness to another generation. I hate it.

    But I also make the yummiest goddamn whole wheat pancakes. The secret is a touch of vanilla and whip the egg whites.

    But the best buckwheat cakes I've ever had were in the Algonquin Hotel. I like that.

    Now, a few selective answers:

    3. What turns me on creatively? - Anger. No, I'm not kidding. I write better when I'm pissed.

    6. What sound or noise do you love? - I don't think there's even a close second to a child lost in laughter.

    7. What sound or noise do you hate? - Whistles. Our Drill Sergeant loved his.

    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? - Oh, there's been some mistake. You're not due here for quite a while. But as long as you're here, we'd like you to sit in with our All-Star Blues Band.

  9. Wow. Your cousin was simply wonderful as a 13-year-old with two major problems. He couldn't come; and his psychiatrist father (Dylan Baker) was an unapologetic pedophile.

    Rufus/Billy has one gut-wrenching scene where he tries to figure out his father's affliction and asks whether the sicko whether he'd ever assault him.

    The movie is not for the faint of heart or easily offended.

  10. It's so true...telling your friend that life sucks, and then sharing stories of suckiness really, does help.

    And I love Bernard Pivot, almost as much as I love James Lipton, which is almost as much as I love Will Ferrell's impersonation of James Lipton, and I've always wanted to be asked the questions...

    1.Current favorite word is "fossick".
    2. Least favorite word is "coagulate". Blech.
    3. I am turned on by those instances of wordless communication, when you look at someone and share a moment of mirth or empathy or understanding
    4. I am utterly turned off by arrogance.
    5. My very favorite curse word is "fuck-a-doodle".
    6. I love the sound of Miles Davis - and Aerosmith.
    7. I hate that little hiccuping sound that planes sometimes make, that little bump that makes me clutch the armrests and say my prayers.
    8. I would have loved to be an air traffic controller.
    9. I would not want to be a garbage collector.
    10. I would like God to say "No, no, you really do belong here, come on in!"

  11. Sol Lasser, writer of an annual income tax guide, is Louise {Woody's 2nd wife] Lasser's dad.


    answer to #10: "Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a welcome to the future..."

  12. Can't help you with the questions; I turned my brain off for work today. But talking about pancakes makes me think of waffles, and waffles make me think of this.

  13. Ah, David... mon semblable, mon frere... why is it that we can never get our black dog a nice leash? Or at the very least get it to play frisbee. Oh, maybe that's what writing is. Ultimate canine brain chemical frisbee... I will whip my egg whites from here on out.

    Rae, dude... you rock. And I'm with you on "coagulate."

    Paul, I haven't seen Happiness yet. I remember meeting Rufus when he was little. Cool kid. His father Peter is one of my favorite first cousins.

    Jon, that's a great entrance line, especially for you!

    Daisy, I'm going to go click on your link right now...

  14. Wishing you unlimited pancakes, Ms. C. Hope you are better...

    1. What is your favorite word? Island
    2. What is your least favorite word? Pus
    3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]? A conversation with friends.
    4. What turns you off? Arrogance.
    5. What is your favorite curse word? Shit
    6. What sound or noise do you love? Moving water
    7. What sound or noise do you hate? Nails on a blackboard
    8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Torch singer
    9. What profession would you not like to do? Anything in medicine
    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale just started this morning.

  15. I'm getting my coat, hat and handbag, and will be at the Madonna Inn shortly. Before I go, I must wipe the pancake-induced dribble off the laptop!

  16. Patty, I'm going to have to send you maple syrup for your birthday.

    Shaz, meet you in the Caveman Room....

  17. I think way too much about food when the darkness falls. Considering I'm a cook at heart, that's bad. Most times I huddle in my corner of the sofa and reread one of my comfort novels, whilst simultaneously tuning the world out.

    Pikelets, not pancakes. It's an Australian thing: thicker and puffier than pancakes, and served with your favourite jam with whipped cream. Yeeeahhhh...

    What can drive me creatively? Nothing like anger to focus thoughts.

    What sound do I love? The sound of the wind through the trees, and waves crashing on sand.

    what sound do I hate? Whining

    I also hate that 'clutch your stomach' part of an aircraft landing.

    Love the smell of roses or honeysuckle on a warm evening breeze.

    The sound of a metal flag clip 'tink, tinking' against a metal flagpole during the darkest silent hour before dawn is the loneliest sound in the world, and makes me thoughtful.

    Love mentally go-go dancing to the 5th Dimension's 'Aquarius' during meditation. (don't ask)

    If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? - Here, put your feet up, I've just put the kettle on, and your easel is just over there waiting for you.

    Sorry Rae, I was offered Air Traffic Controller as a career when I joined the Airforce. I declined when I found out that the burn out age was 21.

    Super zen hugs, Cornelia.

  18. Dear Cone, let us not forget that great riff on James Reston,that he has the "stench of failed actor" but that having been said, I could not resist participating:

    1. What is your favorite word? inspiration
    2. What is your least favorite word? irregardless
    3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]? Two extremes: throwing a perfect party where the blend of people, drinks, food, etc. is just right and also birdwatching on Cape Cod.
    4. What turns you off? Racism
    5. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
    6. What sound or noise do you love? Rain pattering on a roof
    7. What sound or noise do you hate? my child whining
    8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? rug dealer
    9. What profession would you not like to do? prostitute
    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? We've just reviewed your entire transcript of life on earth and you were right every single time.

    Loved your interview. It is so great to see your actual personality writ large in a public interview like that. Let's talk sooon. XOX Ariel P.S. It was great to see you in the tux too

  19. Marianne, Pikelets sound fabulous. And I rather like the sound of metal halyards tink-tinking against metal masts in a summer anchorage at night, if there are a lot of boats. Like little chimes across the water--nice with a distant train whistle thrown in.

    Ari, it's early here and I haven't had my coffee yet. I thought you wrote "drug dealer" for a second there... can't wait to talk. Hope all is well.

  20. I have found that things usually go much more swimmingly when I just stop giving a rat's ass.


    1. What is your favorite word?
    "Victorious." I love its meaning, I love its sound, I love its rhythm, I love the feel of it off the tongue.

    2. What is your least favorite word?
    There are some which I find so repugnant and hateful that I refuse even to cite them in a list such as this. In terms of words I hate to use in normal speech... I'd probably toss "political" and "mature" onto the heap, as usually the use or appearance of either is enough to set my eyes a-rolling.

    3. What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]?
    Passion. Not amorous passion, per se, but passion in the more general sense of "a barely controllable burst of emotional enthusiasm."

    4. What turns you off?
    Absence of passion. For God's sake, feel something, care about something, dream something. If you can't work up a smidge of honest raging passion for some aspect of the game, then just get the hell off the field and leave it for those who care.

    5. What is your favorite curse word?
    Probably any creative construction involving the root word "fuck."

    6. What sound or noise do you love?
    Uncontrolled unexpected laughter, when someone is totaly blindsided by their physical need to express amusement.

    7. What sound or noise do you hate?
    Sorrowful sobbing.

    8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    "Bikini model suntan lotion putter-onner."

    9. What profession would you not like to do?
    CPA and/or kamikaze pilot.

    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
    "Man, am I glad you're here -- can you give me a hand fixing this thing over here...?"

    Yes, I have a mild case of megalomania. So far it's not really been a hindrance.