Sunday, December 30, 2007

On the couch with Allston

Miss Grimke: Are you or are you not rethinking Allston.
DGF: I am definitely rethinking Allston. Allston is such a lovely place, but a tad shabby. Do not repeat that please. It could do with a total update, building on what's there but giving it some polish, some sheen.
Miss Grimke: To what extent do you think you can make do with what you have and to what extent do you need to throw out and start over?
DGF: Definitely the colors are right the way they are. Very colorful, very multi-cultural. You know I like that.
Miss Grimke: Yes, yes. I know that. So you want to keep what's there but punch it up a bit?
DGF: Mostly, plus we need to pull down some walls, open up the space, let in some light. The place has really good bones. We need to pull that forward. Structure, plus color, plus light. I think we'd have what we want then.
Miss Grimke: Then Harvard can move right in?
DGF: Goodness no. Then we'll see what we have once we can see what we have.
Miss Grimke: Are the neighbors amenable?
DGF: Well, you know change is difficult for everybody. Renovations are murder for everyone involved. They've been known to destroy a marriage. You have to plan carefully, you have to be ready for the disruption, you have to make sure everyone buys into the process and can see the payoff, the reward for all the mess.
Miss Grimke: You have to involve the mental health professionals.
DGF: Yes, most definitely, they are on the case.
Miss Grimke: And you have to check references. Don't just go with the first contractor who acts like he knows his stuff.
DGF: One must not shirk the due-diligence.
Miss Grimke: Speaking of Larry.
DGF: I will not trash Larry. If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times.
Miss Grimke: Yes m'am. My bad.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Elmwood, Sweet Elmwood

I swung by 33 Elmwood, Drew's new home, the other day. Wow! It is bigger and more beautiful than in its pictures! It is easily the finest house on Tory Row. Oh envy envy envy! But if anyone deserves to live in a magnificent mansion it is our dear Dr. Faust.

Two Cambridge constable cars sat next the curb in front of the fence in front of the vast lawn in front of her huge house (actually appears to be several buildings that go on forever). No constables in sight. So I walked up the driveway to the front door. After about two days I reached my destination. I rang the doorbell and Drew answered. She was dressed as always in her sharp navy pantsuit and wearing her little pearl earrings. On her feet were slippers, a fluffy baby blue pair that have definitely made a few trips around the coffee table.

"Miss Grimke," she exclaimed, swinging wide the big door and sweeping me in with a hug. "Just the person I need to see today!" Before I had time to apologize for dropping in without notice or for the muddy state of my shoes, she led me into a kitchen the size of Madison Square Garden, sat me down, and placed in front of me a piping hot cuppa Joe.

DGF: "Skim or whole? I also have real cream, of course."
Miss Grimke: Must be nice to have such a big fridge.
DGF: A big fridge? I beg your pardon, I have four bid fridges and two big darn kitchens, plus a little one in our personal space. Actually it's more like a normal size kitchen. We have what's really like an apartment within the house.
Miss Grimke: I guess you need that so you don't get lost.
DGF: Or lose stuff! Lord, why do you think I'm still in slippers? I kicked off my shoes somewhere and darn if I can for the life of me find them.
Miss Grimke: It's not like you have only one pair.
DGF: I am not into shoes. When I find a pair I like I wear them to death. Don't worry I'll manage. But I hate to think what else I can or will lose in this museum. It's like living in a hotel or an institution.
Miss Grimke: You've been institutionalized!
DGF: Definitely. But it's lovely. I keep finding delightful corners and new vistas. Look there: the Japanese maples fill the windows with red.
Miss Grimke: Also you have room for me to move in.
DGF: Now you're pushing it!
Miss Grimke: Be that way. I don't want to live next to Route 2 or whatever that is zooming on the other side of the trees.
DGF: Yes, isn't it funny. In one sense this feels like being in the middle of the country and in another you're right on a major highway.
Miss Grimke: So much to complain about. Too much traffic. Too many rooms. Losing your favorite stuff. Gadabouts dropping in unannounced and tracking in mud.
DGF: It's a hard life, this Harvard Presidenting stuff.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Really Big Day

I can't believe it! On the biggest day of her life, when the whole world is clamoring for her company, I actually corner Drew Faust in the powder room. I won't tell you where, but it was one of those fancy places where there are easy chairs covered in bright florals. I found her literally sunk into one. I wasn't going to bother her, but she gave me a big smile and invited me to chat a while. Wouldn't you know it I lit into her right away.
Miss Grimke: You were yanking my chain about what you were going to wear to the picnic. You never wear anything but that suit suit suit. Not that it doesn't look just right on you.
DGF: You got that right. I am not going to wear anything that will give anybody any excuse to talk about what I wear. What a boring subject.
Miss Grimke: Now you've hurt my feelings.
DGF: I am sorry sweetheart but I do not want people talking about my clothes the way they talk about Hillary's, so I make it incredibly boring by wearing the same thing all the time.
Miss Grimke: Pretty smart I guess. I do think the ecclesiastical look suits you. That double-breasted president's gown is so you!
DGF: Isn't it though! But it's not ecclesiastical for heaven's sake!
Miss Grimke: Whatever. That ceremony was very impressive. I found myself tearing up a few times, and I couldn't help note that you were using a hanky from time to time. Were you getting all misty Dr. Faust? Were you? Now be honest!
DGF: It was moving, but it was also damp and windy. My nose was running! Give me a break Miss Grimke!
Miss Grimke: Sorry Drew! I did think that speech of your was, well, I think you kitchen-sinked it.
DGF: Pardon me?
Miss Grimke: You put in everything but the kitchen sink. Global warming, diversity, the past, the future, the I don't know what, I started drifting. Frankly, I think the new president of Northeastern had a much better inaugural speech, even if he does look like Mr. Bean.
DGF: (sigh) I agree. That man's speech made me want to get up and do good. But be fair, Northeastern's mandate is a little easier to get your arms around than Harvard!
Miss Grimke: Point taken. It was good enough. I do wonder though what you said to Larry when you sat in the president's chair. You said something in his ear and laughed. What was that all about?
DGF: About how lucky he is not to have to sit in that torture device.
Miss Grimke: By the way, several people called you a rebellious daughter of the South. What is up with that?
DGF: That's the only way Yankees can process a southern lady with half a brain. She must be rebelling against her mother and her motherland.
Miss Grimke: It do vex them so!
DGF: It sure do! And I aim to keep on at it!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ice cream sandwiches in Harvard Yard

I wore my Nike capris and my Gettysburg baseball cap. Drew was not impressed. I tried to explain how hot it was, that I didn't want to wear something I could mess up. She looked cool and fabulous, but I never saw her eat an ice cream sandwich. Even if she is rich as the queen so dry cleaning bills don't matter, she probably doesn't want to have to try to get chocolate cookie out of that nice summer-weight wool. I'm so jealous!

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Big Day!

Drew has invited us to meet and greet in Harvard Square today! We will be there to find out what she decided to wear!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Talking about books

We get down to brass tacks at last!

Miss Grimke: I just finished reading that book, Confederates in the Attic. Did you read it?

DGF: I did read it. I had to read it, just to shut people up. Anyone who learned I was interested in the Civil War said, "Oh you have to read...blah blah blah."

Miss Grimke: So? What did you think?

DGF: I think he made a book from going around interviewing Southerners. Anybody can write a good book doing that!

Miss Grimke: Ain't that the truth! Not that he isn't a really good writer!

DGF: Bless his heart, he can write up a storm. I'm sure he knows what he owes all those people he talked to.

Miss Grimke: I thought of you at the part where he meets the couple with Southern wife and the Yankee husband. And the wife says, "My husband's a Northerner--from Boston, the worst kind--and he'll always be one....He wants to tell people how to do things, the same way the North tells the South how to live." Are Bostonians the worst kind of Yankee?

DGF: Yes indeed! But that's what I love about them. They think long and hard and do a lot of research to figure out how things should be done and they have no qualms about telling the rest of the country what's what. I love it! They lead the way. They can be obnoxious, no doubt. But you have to listen to them, and much as I hate to admit it, they can be right a lot of the times.

Miss Grimke: But do you consider Cambridge part of Boston?

DGF: Absolutely not. The people in Cambridge are all darling sweeties.

Living in Yankee Land

Miss Grimke gets Drew to talk about culture shock.

Miss Grimke: Here's one for you: lunch or dinner? dinner or supper?

DGF: O Lord that takes me back! I remember when I first came up north, to go to that girls' school, I got my feelings hurt so bad, and it was all a misunderstanding! I was embarrassed to death!

Miss Grimke: Oh dear, do tell!

DGF: I was trying to be friendly, about a week after we moved in I said to this girl on the hall I'd been chatting with,"Why don't we go to dinner together?" It was about 11:45 and I knew the dining hall opened around noon. She pulled this long face and said, "Oh I really need to do some reading I've been putting off." I thought that sounded a little strange, but I said okay and went off to eat by myself. Then, here I am standing in line with my green plastic tray and she shows up at the end of the line laughing with a bunch of other girls! I couldn't believe it! She had brushed me off and then didn't have the decency to stay out of the dining room! I tried not to let her see I saw her, but when I sat down all by my lonesome with my food, she came up with her friends and asked to join me! I thought what nerve! When I could stand it no longer I asked her, "What about all that reading you have to do?" And she said, "Oh don't remind me. I'm going to have to skip dinner and eat a peanut butter sandwich to get it all done." She thought I was inviting her to join me for an evening meal. A rather strange thing to do in the middle of the day unless you're asking for a date!

Miss Grimke: Did you ever live it down?

DGF: We got to be pretty good friends so I told her a few weeks later and we all had a good laugh.

Miss Grimke: You have to laugh.

DGF: Ain't that the truth!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hair Styles

In this interview we discuss the importance of personal grooming.

Miss Grimke: I love your hair! It looks polished, and easy to care for.

DGF: I know what you are really thinking. That I went at it with the hedge clippers.

Miss Grimke: No no no! I do love it! I wish I could get my hair to do that.

DGF: It drives me crazy. I hate thinking about it. I just get it whacked and move on. Please, let's not talk about hair!

Miss Grimke: Okay, let's talk about something you are interested in. Livestock. You were into livestock as a kid.

DGF: I have the best memories of that! Get me near a barn, the smell of hay and manure are perfume to me.

Miss Grimke: I wondered what that was.

DGF: Oh you evil thing!

Miss Grimke: What was your favorite animal in 4-H?

DGF: I cannot play favorites. I will tell you about my first. It was a sheep named Bambi. I got her as a baby. Have you any idea how cute baby sheep are? Lambs! They look like toy poodles would like to look. But they are stupid, just really really stupid. Some how that makes them even more loveable--like a sorority girl!

Miss Grimke: Now you are being evil.

DGF: I know, I'm sorry. Some of my best friends were sorority girls. I'm just playing on an evil stereotype. It's so easy! I should resist. Help me!

Miss Grimke: What was Bambi like when she grew up?

DGF: She sort of broke my heart. Like all things when they grow up they lose interest in their mommas. She wanted to run off an eat grass and, you know, make love and have babies of her own. Also she got just huge. Big as a ride-on mower! But of course that was the point. That's why I won the blue ribbon. I swear to you I could get enough wool off one sheering of Bambi to outfit the entire Army of Northern Virginia!

Miss Grimke: Now that's some gentlemen who could have used a wardrobe upgrade.

DGF: The poor things.

Office Decor

A postprandial continuation of our inaugural interview:

Miss Grimke: So Drew, how was dinner?
DGF: Just delicious, thank you. The meat fell right off the bone. The gravy was a little lumpy, though. We need to get to the bottom of that one day. But you wanted to talk about something else. What's on the agenda this time, Miss Grimke?
Miss Grimke: Office decor. What the heck was Larry thinking?
DGF: Oh sweety you will not get me to trash Larry. I will not pile on. I do not pile on. I move on. He's a real gentlemen and did not deserve the trashing he got for speaking his mind in an unguarded moment--and it was only part of his mind! The rest of his mind totally disagrees! On the other hand, I owe him my job, a job I am very excited about. I will not pile on and critcize his knicknacks on top of everything!
Miss Grimke: But the color! Can you believe the color!
DGF: I can believe you are not listening to me sweetheart.
Miss Grimke: Drew, I'm a journalist. I have to probe. How about we talk about your plans for the office. What kind of a feel to you think you'll go for?
DGF: Really, I have to live in the space first, to get an idea of how it feels, what it says to me in terms of what it wants in order to make me feel like it's my space. I also need to think about what I want it to say about me.
Miss Grimke: What do you want it to say about you?
DGF: I want it to say "Duck! She's gonna getcha!"
Miss Grimke: So a guillotine, maybe?
DGF: Yes! Exactly! Or a blunderbuss. I love to say blunderbuss. No, seriously, I want it to say, "She knows what she's doing, trust her!"
Miss Grimke: Do you know what you are doing?
DGF: I have no idea! Don't you love it?

What to wear to work?

Dr. Faust starts her new job July 1. She took the time to sit down with me and talk about what she plans to wear the first day of work.

Miss Grimke: Drew, do you mind if I call you Drew?
DGF: Not at all dear, just not in front of the students!
Miss Grimke: Thanks, Drew, I'll be sure not to! Now I know you want to wear something that looks serious but not too too severe. Also, July 1 can be very hot in Cambridge, so I'm sure you'll want to wear something that doesn't show sweat.
DGF: Exactly! I have two different outfits in mind, one for a hot day and another for a cooler day. For the hot day I have a pale blue linen dress, very tailored, actually a tiny hound's tooth check, which gives it that men's wear feel. The sleeves are three-quarter, and I wear it with a navy jacket. It's short so it looks modern without being cropped. I have long arms, and no matter how formal the occassion I find myself always pushing my sleeves up. It ruins, absolutely ruins! the fabric, but I can't stop myself. I do think it makes me look like a go-getter though--pushing up my sleeves. Which of course I am!
Miss Grimke: Indeed you are! We all know that now if we didn't before! And I do think it's a dashing look, pushing up the sleeves of a nice jacket. Women can be dashing, can't we?
DGF: Ladies! Ladies! Of course we can be dashing!
Miss Grimke: What if the weather is cooler?
DGF: Well, confidentially, I hope that is the case, because my favorite suit is just perfect. I got it at Marshall's for $99. It's a $300 suit and I just love it.
Miss Grimke: Tell me what it looks like!
DGF: I love it because it has these little bows and darling pleats, which makes it sound way too girly--but it's brown--which offsets the girly perfectly. I just love the way it makes me look like a serious, but fun-loving, woman. I mean lady!
Miss Grimke: I know what you mean! I'd love to see you in any thing. Clothes hang well on you. How do you keep in shape, and will being Harvard president interfere with your fitness routine?
DGF: O lord bless me I do absolutely nothing to stay in shape. It's one of those totally undeserved gifts. I eat what I like and do nothing and gain zero weight. I can't drink too much though, it wrecks me for days.
Miss Grimke: I think it is a totally deserved gift. The good Lord had plans for you and didn't want you to have to waste time on the dang treadmill or on the Pilates rack.
DGF: Bless your heart, what a sweet thing to say! I've got to go now. I need to get a roast in the oven or we won't be eating till 9 o'clock. I'm not that French!
Miss Grimke: Sure, Drew, I'll let you go. Thanks for the interview! I'll check in with you again later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Calling all Southern Ladies!

The incoming president of Harvard University is one of us! Elsewhere you can find tributes to her academic work and her actions and statements as head of the World's Greatest University (I swear that gives me goose bumps to say!). Here we will pay tribute to Drew the Southern Lady. We will be dedicated to trivia, froth, friviolity, and interesting tidbits, all mined by me, Miss Grimke, and all Southern Ladies who care to chime in!