Friday, March 27, 2015

What about you, India?


There are nights that I pour myself a big glass of wine with dinner.

I sip it with my fish sticks/mac and cheese/pasta with butter no sauce! and NOT touching the broccoli. Now, I know that you drink white with fish, but I like red, and really, what doesn't go with fish sticks? 

So if it is one of those glass of wine nights, it accompanies me upstairs to the bath.

In full glamor mode, I sip that wine while sitting on the bathmat next to my kids while they splash around in the tub. Sometimes I sit on the closed toilet seat. This helps me pretend I'm at an outdoor cafe in Paris. The noise from the savages in the bath? Tourists on the Champs-Élysées.

One night a while ago they kept taking big mouthfuls of water and squirting them at each other. I was all, "You guys, the water's all soapy! It's bad for your tummy. Please! Stop!"

Not deterred. Then I had an epiphany.

"India! Jordan! That water is full of butt germs! You're putting all that super yucky butt germ water in your mouths!"

This only served to make it ALL THE MORE AWESOME. "Want some butt germ water, India?" Squirt!

I hesitated to share this, because maybe you will judge my parenting.

Just to be clear: she's drinking butt-germ bathwater, not wine.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We came, we saw, we stapled

I spent the summer after my sophomore year of college in Rome, living with my friend Kassie's family and working at the American Embassy.

(And here I will mention that Kassie was the instigator of Spring Break in Tunisia, a trip for which we were ill equipped and yet convinced Leigh to join.)

My sophomore year of college had been significantly better than my freshman year, which is not to say it was good for me. It was more in the way that I imagine being waterboarded is more fun than being beaten with a lead pipe.

This is not to say that there weren't people that I really liked. But leaving was a relief.

And then I fell in love with Rome. I felt good for the first time in two years. I wanted to stay forever and never, ever go back "home".

But as I was enrolled and had the obligation of a shared apartment lined up for fall semester, I did go home, determined to return to Rome spring semester. My dad said absolutely not. I spoke French and should go to France. Or, since I'd just taken a year of Japanese, perhaps I should go to Japan. I spoke basically no Italian and it made no sense.

I can now admit he had a point. But I wasn't trying to make sense. I was just trying to be happy again.

And we didn't yet know Leigh. We wouldn't meet her for another eight months. But that's getting ahead of the story.

Kassie's dad had gotten us summer jobs at Immigration and Naturalization Services. We put together refugee files.

We were temporary employees with menial tasks, seated together in a large room with about eight Italian woman who were permanent employees.

I didn't speak any Italian in the beginning, and so initially I thought that they were all mad at each other. Later, when I could understand a bit, I realized they were just discussing things like the purchase of new lipstick or what they had done over the weekend.

Kassie and I had grown up in embassies, and we were used to thinking more than was currently required of us, and so we didn't take our jobs of matching pieces of paper and stapling photos and compiling files all that seriously.

Which is not to say we did a bad job. We were both high-quality filers, staplers, and document compilers. It was more that we giggled a lot and didn't behave with appropriate decorum. Eventually it was decided that we were best seated apart.

Anyway, one day Fireman Bob, the man in charge of fire safety for the embassy, came in to inspect our office.

(I'm sure Fireman Bob had a real name. In my recollection he was generally called Fireman Bob, but the truth is, maybe that's just how we referred to him.)

He walked in and said, "Who is in charge here?"

And Kassie stood up and said, "I am! I'm in charge!"

We all looked at her, eyebrows lifted. Except Fireman Bob, who strode towards her to explain his mission.

At which point she had to say, "Ah, I'm just kidding. I'm...really not in charge."

And in the world of random, the following year we were at a stand looking at postcards, and Kassie picked up one of the Spanish steps. There was a single person descending. It was Fireman Bob.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ready, steady, boot!

This may come as some surprise to you, but I rely on my speed a great deal.

This is chiefly because I do not excel at time management. So to be on time, I tend to wind up running at least part of the way to wherever it is I need to go.

And then I arrive all out of breath and sweaty and immediately need to remove a dramatic amount of clothing.

Nick knows. This is how I showed up for our first date. And he says, hand to God, that he looked at me in the Tabard's low light and said to himself, "Someday I'm going to marry that sweaty orange chick."

But I digress.

Basically, when I am walking, I have two speeds: Very fast. And stopped.

And then of course I run when I am late. That varies from a jog to all-out sprint. I have done this in a variety of footwear. It is not necessarily graceful.

I'm not one of these people who sees three seconds to go on the crosswalk and slows down thinking there's not enough time. No. I think, hey, if I run, I'll definitely make it. Obviously, having children has curbed this habit. (Curbed. Ha!)

Even in the boot, I clomp like the wind.

I wheel my son's scooter and helmet to school with me in the afternoon and I see people look at the scooter and then my boot and I want to be all, "This isn't mine. That's not how I got it."

Yah, so, I just saw my podiatrist. I was on time, like on the minute, but if I didn't have a hurty food I'd have been a few minutes early because I'd have run those last few blocks.

But then I suppose if I didn't have a hurty foot I wouldn't have to see him.

He asked how it was all going and I said my boot foot is doing great but my achilles on my other foot is sore. And that I've been worrying that when this foot is done, I'm going to have to just switch the boot to the other one.

And he said, "You take it easy when you're walking, right?"

The younger me would probably have totally lied, but I confessed that I walk really fast. Like, fast enough that people comment on it. Especially with the boot. They're all impressed.

I'm not saying it's Olympic-level boot walking, but I do think you'd agree.

(Also, if you feel like you need more attention, get a boot. In that regard, it's like having a puppy, but not as cute and nobody's trying to pet it.)

He said to slow it down. Take it easy. Smell the roses. Two or three more weeks.

I will try so very hard.

Also! What do you say? "Ready, steady, go!" or "Ready, set, go!"?

Friday, March 20, 2015

The beginning of a chapter. What do you think?

When I asked my mother about the roadside bodies, she got a funny look on her face and said, “You didn’t see them.”

“I did see them.”

“How?”

“On the way to school. Looking out the bus windows.”

She sighed. “I thought we’d shielded you from them.”

I'd been unsure of this memory, until her confirmation. "So they really were dead?"

She nodded.

“How did they die?”

 “Well, some of them died of starvation. And others from the river flooding.”

We lived in New Delhi when East Pakistan rose up against West Pakistan and fought to gain independence. India, geographically between the two, entered the war in late 1971. For us this mean air raids over Delhi.

In the summer of  1972, we moved to Dhaka (then Dacca), capital of newly independent Bangladesh and site of my roadside bodies. Bangladesh is low, and floods regularly. Two years prior, the devastating Bhola cyclone had flooded the Bay of Bengal, killing half a million people and leaving unimaginable devastation in its wake.

Even without disasters, there were many easy ways to die: starvation, smallpox, cholera, malaria, to name only a few. You could even just get diarrhea from contaminated water and die of dehydration.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On how I came to be sitting right there in your living room

Oh, hey! I was an extra on House of Cards!

(Also, spoiler alert, if you haven't watched season three.)

I told just about everyone, but I didn't blog about it because they were all, DO NOT blog, tweet, Facebook, Tumblr, carrier pigeon, etc. this or we will cut you! Really they just said you'd be banned from working on the show forever and ever.

I mean, you were allowed to mention that you were an extra, which I did. But I wasn't like, hey! Senate confirmation hearing! Claire! UN Ambassador! Book signing! Remy Danton! Unclear what he's up to! Heather Dunbar! Union rally! Running for president!

All of those were true but I didn't say any of them because I am a first-born-rule-follower and also for fear of being cut or banned.

But what I did say was that if even one of my elbows or ears makes it onto the screen, I am telling EVERYONE.

So here I am.

Last summer I saw a casting call for extras for the third season. They wanted DC-looking people.

We had just binge-watched every single episode of House of Cards even though I kept saying I was going to stop because each and every one of the characters was so evil and wretched. But I just couldn't quit them.

So I put on my black suit and headed off to the casting.

I ran into my neighbor Tracy who was all, "Oh, they won't pick you with your awesome asymmetrical hair. You're way too hip and fashionable to look like you're from DC."

I was all, "I am NOT hip or fashionable and I look totally DC!"

Apparently they agreed and I wound up in three scenes.

The first one is Claire's Senate confirmation hearing. My cousin and Nick both found my little blonde head in the audience seated way behind Claire.

I turn out to excel at audience-sitting. Basically, if you need an audience sitter, I'm your gal.

In the breaks it was so hard to pass Robin Wright in the hallway and not say things like, "That Vizzini, he can fuss!" They were dying to fall out of my mouth right after petting her arm and telling her how terrific she is.

I did none of those things. I just walked past the chair where she was going through her lines, and down the hall to the bathroom and pretended like it was all normal to pass a famous actor. Even though I so wanted to bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence...

The scene above was filmed at Red Emma's, a radical bookstore in Baltimore. The sections are entitled things like "Lesbian Anarchy" and "Organizing Atheists." I'm making these up, as I can't remember actual sections, but they're along those lines and I was thinking that the Underwoods would never set foot somewhere like that.

And in fact, they didn't. But I did get to stand in line for quite a while behind Remy Danton, who is a long tall drink of water.

Two of my friends, interestingly enough named Kristen and Kristin, both told me that they were watching HoC the other night with their respective husbands. Kristen, who I know in person but haven't seen in years, and who didn't know I was an extra, said she saw me and started yelling, "There's Lisa Jordan!!!" Her husband thought she was insane.

Kristin, who is one of my invisible Internet friends, saw it and started yelling, "I know her! That's my friend!"And her husband also questioned her sanity.

So I guess what I'm saying is, if your name is some variation of Kristen and you are watching HoC with your husband and you see me and you think it's cool, maybe don't jump up and down and yell, because he will think you are nuts.

Even if your enthusiasm makes me really happy.