Sunday, December 31, 2006

334/365 Kathryn

is so beautiful, you forget how beautiful until you see her again (a brain can’t retain that intensity). Historically, her closest friends could be elected representatives of the best that blondes, brunettes, and redheads can offer. And there’s not a skinny girl among them.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

333/365 Thelma

She’s an interior designer—or maybe a stand-up comic—trapped in a travel agent’s body. As she takes a much-needed break at work, a coworker walks by and announces, “Smoking kills.” She shoots back: “So does unsolicited advice.”

Apparently he’s been avoiding her since.

Friday, December 29, 2006

332/365 Ray

His reputation is new agey, what with the healing, the drumming, the chiropractic practice. But dining at the bar, martini at the ready, there’s something so classic about him—round glasses, shaved head, cocktail glass—that I feel something akin to nostalgia and envy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

331/365 A Seventh John

I wish I’d heard him play at the World Trade Center’s Cellar in the Sky, where he was once a fixture. Our guitarist friend is a fine musician happy to play with others, no matter their relative ability. Music excites him in its aliveness.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

330/365 Julie

She’s the type who gives friends flashy-light jewelry at holiday time, creating or intensifying happy moments. A friend once advised her not to let velvet be too dear, so now she wears it as often as possible, every day being its own special occasion.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

329/365 Tasha,

in the market for a new godmother, thinks a grueling, 10-day Survivor-like competition is the way to go (annual income also considered). As the candidates, her “aunties,” drag deeply, she mentions her memoir’s working title: The Smell of Cigarette Smoke Reminds Me of Home.

Monday, December 25, 2006

328/365 Christine

takes everything the world around her offers—lenses, magnifiers, words, thoughts, fears, software, boxes, stamps, scissors, paste, friends, time, space, light—to use as a brush with which to paint something new. All life is a moment-by-moment act of creation. Christine makes it show.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

327/365 A Sixth John

We earthbound travelers may have lost John physically, but the hills and rivers of Vermont are alive with him. I start noticing him around Woodstock and can’t shake him anywhere along the Ottauquechee. The Upper Valley will forever echo with his laughter. Lucky valley.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

326/365 Romi

sits lovely and regal as royalty in traditional robe and headdress on a love-seat-sized throne in Beijing. Reds and golds swirl around her. I’m both touched that she’s remembered us and certain that this is the perfect holiday card from someone so freshly divorced.

Friday, December 22, 2006

325/365 A Fourth Jim

His visit to Craig’s on Fourth of July was such a blast that as we drove to the real fireworks, I suggested he move to Vermont. We were passing a freshly fertilized field. Jim breathed in and said, “Nah. Smells like shit around here.”

Thursday, December 21, 2006

324/365 Diane

When she takes to the dance floor and her tight little body grooves with Louise’s tight little body, so in synch, one can’t help but wonder how it is those two heterosexuals move so naturally, provocatively together. One can watch more than one wondering.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

323/365 Peter

His holiday party heralds his annual wearing of the red-velvet-and-black-satin smoking jacket (dinner jacket, tuxedo, what’s your preferred verbage?). This year, custom-punked Chuck Taylors have been added to the mix. The Veuve Clicquot flows freely, and he knows guest booty can’t resist the Ramones.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

322/365 Dan

He’s the kind of guy you worry has gone and married a woman who’s gonna whip him into shape, and the kind of guy you’re relieved that he’s finally married a woman who’s gonna whip him into shape. Wonder what shape he’s in now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

321/365 Another Deb

She’s one pastor’s daughter and another’s ex-wife. She couldn’t keep her true self down, though. Ran off with a fellow mad library scientist. Now, in the face of all things motherhood, she’s not afraid to call it hard, especially as she climbs PhD Mountain.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

320/365 An Eighth Tom

At 12, 13, we were buddies. At 38, he tied for most interesting job at the reunion: magician (CIA guy also inspiring intrigue). By the next reunion, he’d turned to full-time woodworking and had found artistic recognition with his Santa specialty. ’Tis his season.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

319/365 Carol

When I awoke to the radio’s announcement of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, my heart leapt first for her and for George. But before I’d left my bed, I heard her very voice as Embassy spokeswoman: a gift from the airwaves.

Friday, December 15, 2006

318/365 Mariuca

Her Gorgonzola-and-pear risotto changed forever my opinion of the mildest of blue cheeses (I still can’t take true blue). It was one of the most amazing things I’d ever tasted. Still, I worried her husband wasn’t really telling her how much I loved it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

317/365 Anna

Sergio’s wife would invite us to the apartment for home-cooked meals. She spoke no English; we spoke no Italian; Sergio would translate. But Anna understood some English, certainly, and often I was convinced I knew exactly what she was saying. Sometimes I was right.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

316/365 Joey

Several years running, on Santa Lucia, we’d be awoken godawful early and bundled up for Joey’s predawn Swedish celebration, her house candlelit and filled with warm sweet smells, and soon after the sun came up, we’d be sent off to school, fat and happy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

315/365 Sergio

Especially at Santa Lucia, my heart aches for Sergio, our all-giving Italian host, and the Piazza Bra in Verona with its grand shooting star, where we’d stroll together. One can’t help but love Italy, but I could love any country with Sergio in it.

This past week I have been checking in with the webcam at Piazza Bra, watching the pedestrians, the vendor stalls appearing for Santa Lucia, and, when the sun goes down, the star lit up. For a view, go to:

Monday, December 11, 2006

314/365 Pier

After an overnight flight, it was Pier’s friendly face we’d first see in Milan. He’d shuttle us to Verona, driving 90 mph in his BMW (huge and luxurious compared with tiny eurocars), all the while talking to backseat Tim, turning to make eye contact.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

313/365 Fannie Mae

Her advice to keep a detailed work log (to cover my ass) seemed like overkill. But I kept the habit when I took over a quarterly journal. Now it answers my ever-present question: Did I do that, or did I think about doing that?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

312/365 Noelle

tells me about her new practice: finally solo, small staff, not so much overhead, the relative ease and joy of it. We discuss a patient-ed pamphlet I’d recently worked on. She recommends this great novel. Our energy’s always more kaffeeklatsch than annual pelvic exam.

Friday, December 08, 2006

311/365 Gordon

Our correspondence is eleven years old; we’ve yet to meet face-to-face. He teases that he’d like to, but upon encountering a firm offer, he begs off, afraid to lose us to reality. So we go on, me playing Stella and Ellen to his Bernard.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

310/365 A Seventh Tom

His latest book is a five-year diary in short five-line verse (a quintupled 365), the coming-of-age journal of a young bisexual man in the early 1950s. A total poetry page-turner. Unrelated: When Tom’s grandson was young, he would ask for his pasta all dented.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

309/365 Yoshi

The well-meaning force-feed him sweets at office birthday parties. He has no natural affinity for processed sugar. But get him talking about fine dining and wines, compare restaurant notes, and you can read every review in his eyes, even before the words tumble out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

308/365 A Third Mark

When I was in fifth grade and he in fourth, we hung out at May Day festivities. A souvenir we both acquired that night was a small rubber-and-plastic turtle. Reconnecting in high school, the joke was, “How’s your turtle?” Mine’s a Christmas-tree ornament now.

Monday, December 04, 2006

307/365 Kris

The only time I’ve been in a rich man’s shoes was that night at a trustee dinner when I verbally admired Kris’s crocodile boots, and he insisted I try them on. Turns out our shoe size is much closer than that of our wallets.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

306/365 Hoagy

It was an utterly unexpected evening, a planned business-meeting-and-drink that turned into dinner with his 3-year-old Anesha, then off to an open tap jam, where she was the youngest performer. I saw some huge talent that night. I was in love with New York.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

305/365 A Fourth Wendy

When she heard I’d never shot a gun, she offered to teach me in her South Portland backyard, overlooking the bay. For it to happen, these stars need to align: both of us in Portland, enough after-work daylight hours, time. I’m shooting for spring.

Friday, December 01, 2006

304/365 A Fifth John

John studies how one thing leads to another, how advances in thought and technology in any field might ultimately set the stage for change, however subtle or grand, in our sport. . . . Fly fishing is lucky to have the likes of John Betts paying attention.

Earlier this year, when my friend John was honored with Fly Rod & Reel magazine’s Angler of the Year Award, I was among those hit up for a quote. I wrote something up—about 170 words. Turns out they picked 44 of them.