Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Afraid of the Water

I grew up swimming in the frigid Atlantic, and in lakes, and at the school pool, but recently I’ve developed a fear of water. I moved to DC in the fall of 2004. This city is notorious for its lead pipes. The public works department is slowly going about the business of replacing those pipes (did I mention that this is going very slooooowly?). Even so, they’re only responsible for the pipe that runs up to the building, after that, it’s up to the management company, or the condo association, or the private home owner to replace the remaining piping.

I drink about 5 Liters of water a day. (I also go to the bathroom a lot during the day – did I mention that I’m often bored at work?) I used to pooh pooh water snobs – what’s wrong with the tap?, but since moving south I’ve signed up for spring water delivery. I’d rather shell out the bucks now than be told later by an OB/GYN that I have ridiculously high levels of lead in my blood and that my unborn child will suffer. Because of the apartment move, there has been some lag time between deliveries.

Last night I polished off the last drops of my current supply with dinner. Then, I had some salty licorice, smart, so smart. My thirst mounted. I sipped one of the Vitamin waters my boyfriend loves – too sweet. I really just wanted water, plain old water. Down came the Brita that I’d put away (not powerful enough to prevent images of my stunted, brain-damaged babe --- or to actually reduce lead levels according to the EPA), I dusted it off and filled it. It’s a little ridiculous, I know. I haven’t been this afraid of water since I was in Africa, but if these posts start to sound even less intelligent, you’ll know why.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Sunday Morning

Teeth and hair unbrushed. Stomach growling. Yesterday's pants thrown on, and into the chilly car with Dad. Sand left on the street from the winter crunching under the tires as we pull out, on our way to Town Landing.

Under the painted store front signs that advertise native ice cubes, fresh lobster, nad bagged ice, the car pulls to a stop. I skip up onto the big telephone pole logs they use as parking bumpers and onto the store's front stoop.

Inside, it smells of bacon. The golf green carpet is thin worn by boat shoes, flip flops, and Bean boots. We answer the warm greeting, then go about our business.

Dad to the papers - Barons's, Times, Press Herald. Me to the bakery case. Reach high to get a piece of wax paper, then slip behind the case. The wood doors, divided into three panels, slide open to the right. I inhale the sweetness, and maybe a little powdered sugar goes up my nose. Oh what to choose? Donuts of course. But which ones? A glazed, a cinamon-sugar with little cross-hatch marks from the cooling rack, and a chocolate covered in coconut. Maybe a jelly-filled, powdered -sugar-covered one too, just for good measure. Dad doesn't usually say no when it come to donuts.

The ching of the register, and we're back at the house. Eggs Bruce coming up (poached egg, ham, tomato, cheese on English muffin). I set the table -- I'm really hungry now. The kitchen smells so warm. We sit, the newspaper is shuffled through, comics passed to me. Mom takes the front page, Dad dives into the editorials. Munch, munch, munch.

Uh Oh

Overheard in the airport:

"So that means my bags are headed where?"

"But we didn't hear the final boarding call!"

"You have nothing for tomorrow? What about other airports, nothing?"

"I've been here for 6 hours already."

And my very own words: "Uh, I read my reservation incorrectly."

Yeah, that would be me, missing my flight this afternoon. But missing my flight meant that I got to catch up briefly with my dear friend's fiance, return some calls, do some great people watching, and read. Best of all, on my later flight back to DC, I had an amazing seat mate: a woman who has survived cancer, runs marathons, is writing a book, and has traveled the world. In just an hour of conversation, she inspired me. From the two seat mates I had on the trip north and south, I heard about a love affair that began in Algeria, what East Germany was like before the fall of the wall, the difference between San Antonio and Houston, and what underwriting is.

Monday, May 23, 2005


After I moved, I got an email from one of my former neighbors. I'd run into him a few times before, but we'd never had much conversation. I was much friendlier with the couple who lived down the hall who were always running over for some borrowed milk or flour, and who never seemed to have their clothes on when I came by for a return egg or stick of butter.

In any case, this neighbor mentioned in his email that he hadn't been sure of how to get a hold of me, since he didn't actually know which apartment was mine. Of course, I knew that he could look down from his apartment directly into mine, which was why I usually shut the shutter on that particular window, but maybe I needn't have worried. Or perhaps it was because of my awareness that he remained in the dark, as it were.

His email was friendly, and in it he invited me to get a cup of coffee. He emphasized that there was "no pressure" to accept.

Now, is this a romantic overture? I sometimes wonder if my sensor for these kinds of things is a little off. Having been somewhat shy in high school, and having then gone to an all women's college, I think I may have missed learning about how to be "just friends" with men. I have developed some male friendships in my post-grad life, through work and such. But I remain skeptical.

In my reply, I didn't want to presume anything. Furthermore, what's wrong with being friendly? I'm trying to do a good job about saying "yes" to things, instead of saying "no" – it usually makes life more fun. So I mentioned that I had just moved in with my boyfriend, but that I'd be happy to meet up sometime.

So now, here we are, with a plan to get a beverage tomorrow after work. The thing is, I'm not looking forward to it much. I'm afraid that it feels sort of pointless. Despite being a shy child, I think I've turned into somewhat of an extrovert, and I like hearing people's stories, but I usually like to have some additional context before I start investing time in hanging out with them. Nonetheless, trying to make conversation for at least an hour without some romantic interest or other motivation to nudge me along seems a bit daunting at the moment.

On the other hand, I met someone who I really enjoy spending time with over the internet just this fall, after only a brief email exchange, so perhaps tomorrow's meeting will pleasantly surprise. The "When Harry Met Sally" question remains: can men and women really just be friends?

Sunday, May 22, 2005


I've had visitors staying with me since Wednesday night, but at the moment everyone has set off on their own paths for the evening, leaving me with time to do laundry, make lunch for tomorrow, and write a quick post.

My visitors, energetic as they are, have encouraged me to take advantage of this city. I've been to the National Gallery of Art three times in the last four days -- seen the Toulouse Lautrec exhibit, the East Wing, and the West Wing. I highly recommned the Lautrec, though I think its misnamed. The show ought to be titled simply "Montmartre: A Moment in Time" or something to that affect, since it's much more about the spirit of the place and its inhabitants than about Lautrec's work itself. If you're going to the East Wing, I suggest that you take a few minutes with the Sargent's and the Whistlers, and the little anteroom that holds a few gems by Joseph Decker.

Looking at all of this artwork, in different mediums, by various artists, and created in a range of time periods, makes me want to take out my crayons, markers, watercolors, oils, and pencils. As a little kid, I could get lost doing art projects. My joy in creating was reinforced along the way. I remember how proud I was in nursrey school when Mrs. Findly said that I was the "class artist". And when we studied Rousseau in fourth grade, Ms. Cavalier gave me the artist of the month award for my rendering of animals in a forest scene. During my elementary school summers, I attended art camp until I was too old. Later, in high school, I got to dabble in jewlery-making, and oil painting lessons after school.

There aren't many things I can get lost in. Art was one of them, horseback riding was another. I don't do either of these activities any more. But this summer, I'm going to be unemployed as of June 24. Since drawing and painting are both less expensive and more accessbile than finding ridable horses in the city, I promise myself that I'll do a few art projects before the summer's over.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Today is all about clicking the refresh button on my Hotmail account. It’s possible that I will enter the Guinness Book as the person who developed carpel tunnel in just one day as the result of so much clicking. I’m waiting for some news that’s supposed to come by email, but at this point my wrist and I both wish it was just coming in snail fashion. Gotta go check the inbox again!

Monday, May 16, 2005


My boyfriend loves me, I'm sure of it. He asked me to cut his hair this week. For the record, I have never cut anyone's hair (though at one point I did aspire to be a hairdresser). In preparation for my new job, I faithfully watched the "Wahl Home Haircutting Video". Who knew there were separate right and left ear clippers? Or a cut called "The Bald Look"? I learned a lot from Shanti and Lori, the expert clippests.

I don't know what was funnier, listening to the elevator jazz music with space age twighlight zone interludes, or watching the subjects' faces as they tried to decide whether to smile, wince, or pretend they were manaquins with eyes set straight ahead at all times.

The big take-away of the night was the "upward rocking motion" - apparently the key to blending sections so that your subject doesn't end up with the just-mowed-lawn affect. I think I'll be using the inverted clipper technique most often - to trim sideburns and neckline.

S. may I suggest you invest in a do-rag as your preparation for this haircut?


Recently, my boyfriend’s mother came to town and spent an evening at our new place. She arrived just two days after the move, so things were in a state of disarray (to say the least). Being the very generous person she is, she asked us what we needed for the place. We demurred, but she prodded for more information, “What’s your style?” she said, eyeing the blank white walls, the piece-meal furniture, the futon, and the bed mattress on the floor of the bedroom. Um, my interior decorating style…well, I suppose whatever is given to us (dining table, rug, bureaus, desk, chair), snagged off the sidewalk (coffee table), or under $70 (bookshelves). I couldn’t come up with an answer for her. But maybe that’s just because I’m still a little intimidated by a woman who has an incredible sense of style, and who is, after all, the mother of the man I love. So in the days since her visit, I have been thinking about my “style.” I do have a distinct aesthetic taste – or at least it’s not only what Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel feed me.

I had a chance to further explore my aesthetic taste, and affirm the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” at The Org’s annual art show fundraiser. I bought a watercolor, and am going to also purchase a collage-like piece in bright yellows and reds. However, the piece now sitting on my desk, waiting to be retrieved by the artist, falls into my “trash” category. It is stone sculpture of a parrot (made out of glued pieces of blue sodalite, green serpentine, and onyx), perched on a piece of quartz, and around its feet are lots of smaller parrots in various poses. I hate it. But I’m glad that the other day, when a co-worker passed by and gasped, I didn’t reveal my dislike. After pausing to take in the full affect of the statue, this woman launched into a 10-minute monologue about how beautiful the statue was. (Oh, it has these heinous gold talons, by the way). I just bit my tongue and nodded as she professed her love for the parrots. So if you’re gonna buy me a housewarming, definitely stay away from the multi-colored stone statues with gold accents.

Parrots aside, for a girl who still can’t quite identify just what her style is, I’m very picky about how I decorate my space. As I’ve mentioned before, I dislike clutter. Clean lines are good, wood is good – especially cherry, and not so much ash or oak; metal and glass are two other materials I’m a fan of, but used in moderation; antiques are good if they’re usable, but fake antiques (ie: sandpapering off some paint to make something look old) not so good; big bookshelves filled with favorite reads (and a few aspirational reads) are a must; hand-me-down oriental rugs in reds and blues are marvelous (but hard to come by, of course), and in their stead sisal rugs, or bright block rugs are good; items from various journeys (your own or your friends’) are great as accents to rooms; original art (either by yourself, friends, family members, or local “unknown” - read affordable - artists) is awesome; in general, I stay away from frills, florals, and pastels in favor of crisp primaries, warm yellows and whites; if it’s going to be cheaply made, let it be simple; and for God’s sake, keep the chatzke’s to a minimum. And that, my friends, is the short list of the driving principles of my interior decorating style.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I’m both cheap and loyal when it comes to lots of things, and particularly hair cuts. Well, not so cheap, my boyfriend and father would both argue that one shouldn’t have to pay more than $8 for a cut, and the place I usually go costs more like $45. Despite living in Boston and New York over the past seven years, both cities with plenty of capable stylists, the majority of my haircuts have happened in booming metropolis and mecca of style that is Portland, Maine. There is a woman at Akari who does a great job every time, and she has just the right haircutter demeanor, chatty, but allows plenty of silent moments for relaxation.

However, it’s been too long since my last cut (only because it’s been too long since I’ve been home). So I bit the bullet and found a new stylist in this fair city, where the wonky helmet head continues to populate the streets with surprising frequency. The results of yesterday’s appointment are not particularly noteworthy, but I’ll be going back…for the head massage.

At first, the stylist spent so much time brushing out my tangled mess, fluffing it, then brushing it again, that I thought he was going to start cutting it without a wash (horrors)! It was to my great relief when he led me to the head sinks in the back of the salon. And there the magic happened. The temperature was just right, the pressure of the water just strong enough, and as the hairdresser applied the shampoo, working it into a lather around the edges of my face and underneath my skull, I got tingles down my spine. Herbal Essences may not do it for me, but this hairdresser sure new how to tickle the tendrils. If only it felt that every morning. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Double Irony

The computer gods are really messing with me today. As soon as I post about the apparent deletion of all posts, they magically reappear. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, just a little perplexed.


Oh the irony! I had just posted a brief comment about the thrill of having a very successful, glitch-free Internet installation at the new place. Moments later, not only that post, but my entire blog, was erased. I have no idea why, but if you have any thoughts on how I might recover it, I would be grateful. ARGH! This is why a pen and paper still beat technology.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Technical Success

Verizon had scheduled my internet hook up for May 12. Unbelievably, I was notified that the line was DSL ready today! Even more unbelievable, because I kept my phone number through the move, all I had to do was plug in the modem, and I was good to go. Seeing that New York Times homepage pop up without having to call the support line once gave me quite a thrill.

To give you some context for my overwhelming feeling of victory, let me explain that I'm used to endless technical frustration. While home this winter my parents and I, working as a true techy squad, managed to change the new DVD player to play DVD's only in French AND in black and white.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mythical Cities: Part I

Earlier this year, if you had asked me how I was liking Washington DC, I would have put on my best fake smile and said, “Well, it’s certainly not New York or Boston.” Meaning, this city is by far my least favorite on the Delta Shuttle flight path. Meaning, I hate that every time I get in a cab I feel like I’m getting ripped off because fares are dictated by amorphous things called “zones” and the colorful map stuck to the back of the passenger seat has no street labels, so I’m completely powerless to tell how many zones I’ve passed through by the end of the trip. Meaning, I hate the car culture of the city and how unfriendly it is to pedestrians (so unfriendly that I got hit by a car in the second month of living here). Meaning, I dislike the transitory nature of the place. Meaning, I think John F. Kennedy was right when he said DC had all the charm of a northern city and all the efficiency of a southern one. Meaning, I had scribbled a whole two page hate list in my journal and a particularly dark day.

I’ve been here eight months now and I’m coming around. Of course, it helps that spring in DC is beautiful – tulips, azaleas, pansies, violets, daffodils, lilacs, bright grass, and of course, the cherry blossoms. But aside from the greenery, there’s the quietness of the place, and the monuments. Since I’ve moved closer to the Mall, my morning runs take me by this, and this. For the past two mornings I’ve passed by this, and if I’m going to keep running along these paths, I better learn how to run even when verklempt, or learn how to stop getting teary when I see these tributes to people and events that have shaped our nation. I’m enjoying being reminded of the history of the United States everyday.

It’s pretty neat, and pretty powerful to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, thinking about the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and look down past the reflecting pool, past the Washington Monument, to the Capitol (just as thousands and thousands of other people have done). I take comfort in these immediate, bricks and mortar reminders that this country has weathered some very tumultuous times, and survived with its democracy in tact. The US is still a great place to live, one that’s full of incredible opportunities and freedoms that don’t exist elsewhere. It’s a fortifying to remember, especially when I read material like this.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Program Interruption

Hello! Life's been a little topsy turvy, there's lots going on (job quitting, apartment moving, law school choices pending, family visiting, half marathon finishing) but Verizon still hasn't installed DSL in my new apartment. Until they do, things may be a little quiet around these parts.