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Saturday, May. 22, 2004 - 7:07 p.m.

When you get home from vacation at three on a muggy, thundery afternoon, look jadedly around your apartment, try to pet but are ignored by the cat, and suddenly realize that for the past seven days youíve had a few beers by 3 PM, what else is there to do but pull the gin from the freezer and make a martini? You donít have any vermouth? So what? Lemon-peel-and-gin-and-water is just fine. Itís raining and windy now, so you donít go out to the car to unpack. You delete 111 emails and try to make friends with the cat again. You think about calling back the people whoíve left messages, but youíre not ready yet.

There is no food in the fridge but whole wheat tortillas, probably moldy, and blue cheese.

Oh, we ate such food this week. We made crab cakes, Asian noodles of every sort, bouillabaisse, gourmet pizzas, shrimp and grits, sun-dried tomato frittata, and giant spinach salads. We caught over fifty crabs. I have a tan. I stepped on a sea urchin. I read an Elle magazine and Persuasion and a motherfucking John Grisham novel (So. Bad.) I read the Audubon Field Guide to North American Seashore Creatures, which is not the sort of book one usually reads in a linear fashion, but I was hooked. I read some Umberto Eco essays and the local real estate guide.

The beach was awash with starfish and sea urchins. I saw a baby brittle star and found a perfect dead ghost crab. L and I gathered coquina to make broth for the bouillabaisse. Sunsets. Beer. Daiquiris. Hammocks. Naps on the beach. Old painted iron beds with thin blue and yellow blankets. White wicker furniture. Soft, sand-worn wooden floors and big rocking chairs. Straw hat. Yes, all this unexotic Atlantic beach paraphernalia attended my vacation. I loved it. It was most un-punk rock.

I have to launch back into work tomorrow, even though tomorrow is Sunday. I have one social work dissertation chapter to edit here, one house style manual to memorize there, one professor to call about some other freelance work. Iím not sure how long Iíll be able to patch together these little jobs, but Iím happy with the way things are looking now.

The cat has apparently forgiven me, because she tried to take a shower with me, as she sometimes does. She sat between bathtub rim and shower curtain, sticking her paws underneath and drawing them back soaking wet. A shower also seems to have cured me of my post-vacation ennui. I stood under the water forever, did all the things I havenít done all week like shaving and washing my hair. Then I tried on skirts and high heels, staring and staring at my tan legs. S, who makes jewelry, gave me a pair of earrings on our last night at the beach; they are big and girly and silver and light pink, and they make me want, most improbably, to dress up and go out dancing. Okay, sort of. Probably I donít want to go dancing at all, and never will, but if anything could make me consider it, these earrings would be it.

S is amazing. She is twenty years older than me, quick and beautiful, with runnerís legs and an endless supply of little cloche-shaped hats. She sells her jewelry at trade shows, at boutiques, and at parties, to rich ladies and their daughters. She also sells on Ebay things she finds at yard sales: Danish modern furniture, lighting, kitchenware, vintage clothes. She worked at a record store for seventeen years and has many stories. She is so entrepreneurial, so outgoing and talkative and confident, so completely the opposite of me in every way, that I form a mild obsession with her after each time I see her (which is only twice a year, fortunately). It makes me materialistic. But it renews my work ethic, and it makes me happy about life after rock and roll.

So I plod forth into my summer with hot legs and a weekís start on alcoholism, red pen in hand. Wish me luck. You are all beautiful.

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