Thursday, April 28, 2005

Smells like Corrugated Cardboard

It's so appropriate, Nights in White Satin just came on the radio. This was a personal theme song during the summer of the first move I really remember. I was switching bedrooms in our house. The flowery wall paper of my younger days was coming down, and I'd chosen a bright yellow paint to dress the room in its place. Things were disheveled, but the little silver radio was set to Oldies 100.9 and life was good.

Moving is officially up there on the list of "most stressful events in a person's life". Certainly, my mind has been working overtime figuring out the logistics of u-haul trucks, scheduled apartment building moving times, boxspring deliveries and the like. My patience has been wearing a little thinner.

But there is something oddly comforting about having everything I own neatly packed into boxes. My belongings are just few enough to make moving manageable, and there is satisfaction in this. I can fold myself up and move with relative ease (provided I have some seriously amazing friends who are willing to exchange sweat for beer. THANK YOU). It's a sense of self-sufficiency. I am master of my domain. My belongings do not own me, yet. Nights in White Satin is playing on the radio and life is good.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Yipi Yi Yuppie

Last night at dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend (yes, I went on a double date with my cousin, voluntarily - I like my family that much), I brought up the term "yuppie." To avoid actually packing the things I own in preparation for the move to the new apartment next weekend, I've been paging through Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn catalogs, so the word's been on my mind. What does it really mean?

I think of the term as a derogatory one – a condemnation of selling out to "the man", becoming part of the mainstream, gentrifying neighborhoods, buying all of your clothes at the Gap, and leading a monochromatic life in general.

On the other hand, my cousin and her boyfriend had a much less negative relationship with what they understood as a benign acronym, Young Urban Professionals. A convenient term used to describe up and coming young people. Before last night, I hadn't even known the word was an acronym, which is telling in and of itself.

When I see discussions like this, where people are adamant about making sure everyone knows that they are NOT yuppies, I'm curious, and confused too. Curious because I fit the definition of a yuppie very squarely: I've worked at a publishing house owned by The Man, Rupert Murdoch, I live in an area that has been gentrified, I'm going to begin coursework for a professional degree this fall, I shop at the Gap, and so it goes. Should I feel the need to defend these things? Is it wrong that I wear khakis? Is it wrong to want to live in a safe area? Do these things make me a boring person, confined to blindly follow the other sheep? I don't think so.

And yet, to identify myself as a yuppie is to announce myself as a pariah among the majority of my friends who are so defiantly NOT yuppies. What are we all so afraid of? Aren't there some pretty good parts to being a yuppie? Yeah, yeah, we could get into the discussion of how labels are always limiting, yada yada yada. But we all use them, so please help me understand the underlying assumptions implied when you call someone a yuppie, or leap to make sure everyone knows you are NOT a yuppie. Is it that we're most afraid of being classed as boring? Sure rebels have accomplished great things, but is there something inherently heroic about going against the mainstream? Does anyone out there positively identify themselves as a yuppie?

P.S. For the record, I do not like Hummers. And in principle I do not like jet skis -but I'll be honest, I have had some serious fun riding on and water skiing behind other people's jet skis.

I Win!

I went for a run and got back just before the afternoon thunderstorm rolled in, unleashing its torrents. Nothing makes me feel more smug than beating the rain.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The New Pope

I've said before, I'm not a religious person. My Dad had a Catholic upbringing and my mom's family is Jewish and escaped Nazi Germany. As a family we attended a Unitarian Universalist church for a short while, where I learned about Native American spiritual traditions and the story of the Golden Lamb (I only remember that story because I crafted a particularly nice golden beeswax lamb as part of my report to the Sunday school class). In college I took an interest in exploring other religions and attended some Shabbat services to get in touch with my Jewish heritage, then some Buddhist meditations, and even some Catholic masses with my first year roommate who was pretty devout.

On Sundays I often mock myself as I jog past people dressed in their church best, on their way to services while I'm headed on my long Sunday run. Temple of God, temple of the body (or something like that).

So maybe it was fitting that I was on an elliptical machine when I learned that the cardinals have elected a new pope. There I was, arms flailing, legs ellipsing with images of people running to receive the news at St. Peter's Square on the little screen in front of me. Watching those images, I started tearing up. There's a lot about organized religion I just don't get, but I was moved as I watched all of those people, many of whom have been patiently, piously awaiting the news, converging together in excited anticipation. In addition, I think there's something very powerful about knowing that you're living through a moment in history (whether it be the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of a new pope, or the beginning of a war). It's humbling in the way it contextualizes my relatively very insignificant time on earth.

So there I was, getting misty on the elliptical. But then the broadcaster began talking about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, as a staunch traditionalist, otherwise known as the "enforcer". How quickly my tears vanished as I learned of his position on key issues: anti-women in the clergy, anti-gay, anti-contraceptives, anti-choice. Ugh. And back to the elliptical for me it was.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Tomorrow I'm going to give my notice at work. I hate doing this. The last time I gave notice at a job my lungs tightened to the point that I sounded like a barking penguin telling my boss that I was through.

It's not that I'm indispensable, or that my employer is in such a crunch that my departure will screw them over, it's just that I don't like quitting, or letting people down, and since I know that they want employees to stay for two years, I feel like I'm failing them (9 mos is well short of even one year!).

I'm giving a ridiculous amount of notice, so that they'll have ample time to find someone. Nonetheless, I'm nervous about how it's going to go over. Good thoughts sent my way on Monday morning would be most appreciated.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Growing Up

I have a distinct memory of driving in the car with my mother one afternoon, I must have been a high school Junior, and she said to me "I think that you'd be fine on your own." She meant it as an affirmation of how independent I'd become, something many teens probably would have rejoiced at hearing. But it scared the bejesus out of me. Me? On my own? I'm not ready, hell no!

I was that little girl who called her parents at midnight and sobbed that they come pick her up from the sleep over. I was the one whose grandparents became exasperated because I was so overcome with homesickness that I wouldn't have fun with them. I was the one who had such anxiety about the dance at the end of a junior high retreat that I barely ate anything the whole week. I was the one who still wanted an Easter egg hunt when I was twelve. I was the one who wore the tightest sports bra possible to deny the new bumps on my chest.

I've made it from there to here - living away from home for going on eight years, and out of the school nursery for three of those. I take care of my own finances (mostly), health and healthcare, maintain personal relationships, and generally "keep my shit together". But am I grown up? A few weekends ago, my boyfriend and I test drove a car, this weekend we're going to test drive a few more. Now that feels grown up; it also feels pretend. I laugh at us, showing up at the dealership --- aren't they wondering if we're old enough to have licenses? One of my best friends is getting married this summer, and friends are getting engaged left and right. When I go to these weddings I feel like I'm playing dress-up (really good happy dress-up).

For better or for worse, marriage is one of the few rites of passage celebrated in American society. It announces a couple's love for each other, but it also marks the movement of one cycle to the next; you step outside your nuclear family to begin making a family of your own (with whatever partner you choose). Maybe I've just been brainwashed by the image of the father "giving" his daughter to the groom (I'm not going to step into the crossfire of the socio-political debate that could be inserted here), but I do believe that when you marry, there's transference from parent(s) being the primary support to spouses serving as primary support to each other. You and your spouse become a new unit. Along with that goes a certain independence and autonomy and responsibility that's thrilling, but also perhaps a bit daunting.

I really wanted to go to those sleepovers. I thought I was ready to spend the whole night in my My Little Pony sleeping bag on someone's shag carpet (and so did my parents). I loved spending time with my friends, and yet, I just wasn't comfortable with it. Some people just take a little longer than others to move through certain stages of life. It's not that we don't want to grow up, it's just that we don't want to grow up too fast.

Monday, April 11, 2005


I'm facing an imminent move from my lovely 1BR to move in with my boyfriend (yes, it's terribly scandalous). We're decidedly committed to one another, we've been together for sometime, and the values and moral code I was raised with and continue to follow don't condemn pre-marital co-habitation. And yet, when I tell people that I'm moving in with my boyfriend, I blush. There's a part of me that is embarassed/uncomfortable with the conclusions and assumptions people may be making. Most of the people I know are very supportive of the whole endeavor, but there are always those tales of caution from people whose relationships soured once the couple became roommates. The words of my parents, who rarely give explicit advice, echo loudly: Whatever you do, however often you and your significant other spend time at one another's homes, you should always keep a place of your own - even if it's just a room. It's worth having a place to call your own in case something goes wrong. They have their own reasons for giving this advice - very relevant situtations they found themselves in when they were my age. Yet, they're cheerleaders of this move. I guess it has to do with the level of commitment between S. and I. Things are good between us, we've made the decision to move in together very thoughfully and deliberatly, with lots of talking about what this means to both of us. I guess that the blushing part of me is the part that wants people to know this -- for whatever reason (where the hell did I get this Puritanical monkey on my back anyway?)

Well, in any case, I've now begun the apartment search in earnest. Today brings the total to 16 apartments. 1 application accepted, 1 application pending. 2 more units to see tomorrow. Thankfully, I kind of like the task (as long as it has a happy ending in the next week or so). It's a whole new way of getting to know the city. Peeling back the curtain on what lies behind all those brick and concrete facades. Unfortunately, I've seen a few too many attempts at turning a basement into a "light filled English garden apartment". People, if you've got a basement, use it for storage, or put a pool table and ping pong table down there. Hell, throw ragers there every Saturday night and let the floor turn sticky. But don't try luring people to rent the dark pit by wasting your money on subzero fridges, granite countertops and crown molding. We see through your ruse.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A few weeks ago I was meme'd I've been looking forward to responding, but for some reason haven't gotten around to it until now:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I’ve never read Fahrenheit 451, though it's on my list, so this is an uniformed answer. Let me further qualify my response by saying that I take this question to ask what book would you want to be so that you would not get burned? My answer is the Bible. I figure there are enough copies of the Bible, and enough people who have a very fierce desire to protect the words in this book, and therefore the book itself, that I might have a chance of surviving wedged under someone's floorboards or something.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I’ve never been much for fictional or superstar crushes. I prefer the non-fiction variety. But I suppose that along with my infatuation with all things Anne of Green Gables (and her dark-haired friend Diana, who I liked to think of as my Canadian alter-ego), I had a little crush on Gilbert Blythe too.

The last book you bought is?
My most recent book purchase was Blink, by Malcom Gladwell. For an accurate and articulate synopsis, see Sherry LINK. I continue to experience sticker shock every time I purchase a book. To purchase Blink I did what was unthinkable when I was working in publishing, I bought it off a street dealer on Broadway in NYC. (Horrors! I know!)I still don't understand how they get those books for so cheap, I assume it has to do with corruption at the warehouses, and corrupt people like me who really like to save a buck.

The last book you read:
I just finished Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. It was excellent. Other recent reads include: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (incredible), Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson, and Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem.

What are you currently reading?
Aside from reading my grandfather's manuscript, which provides an interesting peek into his life and a world of incredibly talented statisticians, I'm in between books. Your suggestions would be most appreciated.

What are the five books you would take to a deserted island?

Since Ms. Feaverish took the liberty of including complete collections in her list, I'm going to assume the same generous parameters. My choices are:

Encyclopedia Britannica, the complete collection

Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink because this was one of my favorite books growing up. It completely romanticizes being stranded on an island, and I like the irony of having it with me when I'm actually stranded.

The King James Bible. Though this is the second mention this book gets in this post, I've actually never read the whole thing. I have read bits and pieces for various humanities classes, and being stranded on an island should give me some time. I would love to get to know this book that so much of Western culture references in one way or another. Besides, I figure I might be looking for a little comfort when I'm all by my lonesome, and goodness knows plenty of people have taken comfort from this book.

Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. This is my friend E's favorite book. I started reading it the summer after my sophomore year in college, but the bookmark is still tucked in the middle. I enjoyed James's aesthetic sense, and if I got too fed up with the absurdity of all those social constructions I could use the thick tomb for my own little fire.

Ulysses by James Joyce. Because you can read it over and over and get something different out of it every time.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?

I'd like to pass this along to
This Kentucky Girl, because "everybody's doing it"

May Shrink or Fade, because the author is a fellow Mainer

Meme Park, because though he's probably not one for these chain-letter-type postings, he's really well read, and besides, his blog's title refers to the concept referenced in this gimmick.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Physical Therapy

Though I reference it in this site’s title, I haven’t posted yet about running. I do run, these days about six times a week for 3-4 miles. The hobby was one I took up after high school as a substitute for the physical activity I’d always gotten playing organized team sports. For the most part, running serves as my meditation. I usually run first thing in the morning. It clears my head, gets my blood pumping, and provides an accomplishment no matter how poorly the rest of the day goes.

However, now and then I like to indulge my competitive spirit, test how in shape I am, and run a race. In the past, I’ve actually trained to increase my speed, but I haven’t been motivated enough to do that recently. So now, I tell myself (or others that I’ve signed up with) that I’m not really going to race, I’m just going to run for fun. This is a lie. I may start off at a normal pace, but that usually doesn’t last past mile one or two. And I _always_ give a hard finish.

Yesterday I participated in this race. It was cold and windy and damp and generally miserable. The blossoms weren’t out yet, but the course was still pretty – taking us along the Potomac, into Rock Creek Park. I’ve never raced 10 miles, and I hadn’t done anything to really prepare for the distance (aside from doing a long run two weeks ago to reassure myself that my legs wouldn’t fall off if I ran more than 4 miles). So, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the time passed. Since I’m a people watcher, it helped that I had 10,000 other runners to ogle at as I trotted along. Because the course looped back on itself at few times, there were points where the lead runners passed the rest of us slobs. There’s a certain thrill I experience watching elite runners, out in the front of the pack, working every muscle of their sinewy bodies – raw competition and human striving.

But I have to say, the most satisfying part of the run was the last 400 meters, where I kicked up the pace and pounded by a dozen runners or so. After crossing the finish line with a time of 1h 15 min 20 sec, an athletic looking guy came up to me “Hey, that wasn’t fair! You came out of nowhere!” “Well,” I said, “I saved a little extra for the end.” “That means that you could have run the whole course a few minutes faster” he replied. Perhaps, but the exhilaration of finishing strong, over-taking competitors, provides a very immediate and gratifying sense of winning. Not a cure, but certainly a nice antidote for my recently re-activated inferiority-complex.

Friday, April 01, 2005


This morning, I learned that when you really love someone you also have the power to really hurt them. I don't know what happened. I was planning on having a good day - I was planning on attending the open house of the law school where I will likely enroll. And then I started beating myself up - it's not the best law school in this city, it's the second best. Sometimes I'm well-adjusted, and have my head on straight, and recognize what I've achieved and not attach my self-worth to fancy pedigrees. But sometimes, I'm sick of second-best, and wish that I'd been invited to join the best-party, even if I chose not to go. But the worst part about my neurotic perfectionism, the most absolutely disgusting part, is that today it bubbled right over and out of my mouth and I seared someone else with its poisonous venom.

I wish I were Catholic so that I could officially confess and repent for my passive/aggressive hurtful comment. I've already said my apologies a million times over to the person I directed my mean, mean comment at, but I can't stop feeling terrible. So I'm publicly repenting here: S. I'm sorry.