Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Androgyny of 7

One of my friends says that odd years are bad for her, unless the year is a prime number. Prime numbers are great. So she's good with 2007. Seven, she says, is positive.

"It's not like 1, which is totally phallic, or like 6 or 8, which are obviously feminine. And 4 is male and very complicated. Seven is perfect. You have the nice curve and you have a straight line. Seven is clean, it's sensual, it's androgynous. I like it."

I cross my sevens, so I'm not sure how that affects things, but I'm very excited for 2007 to arrive. 2006 was, with a few notable exceptions, fairly craptastic.

We are ringing in the new year with a charity party. All the proceeds go to Bread for the City, a non-profit providing things like food, clothing, and medical care to vulnerable residents of DC. If you are looking for a charity to donate to, it's a great cause.

And on top of raising money for a local charity, it's going to be so much fun! We have a hip venue, a seriously kick-ass DJ, a gazillion sparkly temporary tattoos (which last year I wound up applying with gin and tonics, because a glass of water was harder to find than gin), boas, tiaras, and 200 really fun, kissable people. Well, OK, they're not all going to be kissable. But hopefully some of them will. . .

We sold out two days ago, and each organizer got two "last minute lovers" tickets to use as we wish. I don't think any of us have last minute lovers (alas!) but we do have a plethora of friends who didn't get it together to buy a ticket in time.

I wish all of you happiness, health, love, fun, adventure, great surprises, and everything else you hope for in the year to come!

2007 is going to be excellent! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

You know me well enough by now that this breast conversation will not surprise you

"Another glass?"


"More wine?"

"Yes, please!"

...all evening long.

And the level of inanity of conversation escalated in proportion to the increase in blood alcohol content. So late in the evening, when two of my friends were about to leave, I asked if they could take me home.

And then (as if there was ever any doubt) I clarified. "I mean, home to my house. I'm not proposing a threesome."

And the guy rolled his eyes and said, "I'm actually going to sleep. So if you two want to have a threesome, be sure to take notes."

My female friend said, "Huh, maybe I should go home with Lisa. I bet if I ask she'll show me her breasts."

Obligingly, I nodded. "Oh, certainly."

And then we pointed to another friend of ours and said "Actually, you know, she has perfect breasts."

"Yes, totally perfect! Look how nice they look!"

Now, this woman, who does have perfect breasts, is not one of these women who flaunts them. Or talks about them, for that matter. I think she was half flattered and half mortified. She backed away giggling. Nervously.

We had a group of (hopefully) equally inebriated friends watching this conversation with great amusement. One of them looked me up and down and said, "But yours look like they're fine."

I waved him away very matter-of-factly. "Oh, mine are absolutely fine, but really, hers are perfect."

"Actually, yeah. I hope it doesn't hurt your feelings, Lis. I'd definitely choose to have her breasts over yours."

"No, not at all! I would too! I can't blame you!"

Because this needed to be a conversation? Anywhere?

Friday, December 29, 2006


We get Tuesday off for Ford's funeral! I work for a non-profit that follows the government closing schedule. We were all really hoping for a four-day weekend, and we're excited it came through. We figured that after they did it for Reagan, they'd have to for Ford. At least, that was what we were banking on.

It's weird being in DC. You get so cavalier about all these government things. Inaugurations, for example, are inconvenient. Well, except Clinton's, which was the last one I was really excited about. But for the most part, all this government stuff means traffic, road closings, people in the way.

And here you are regularly stopped for motorcades, or police or some sort of emergency something. Sirens don't faze people. There are so many sirens on a daily basis that I think people here have become inured to them. Most drivers don't even seem inclined to pull over for ambulances or fire trucks. It's quite shocking.

Last fall I was out walking with a friend down on the Mall. From where we live, it's a good 6 mile loop down to the Capitol, past the Washington Monument, around the Reflecting Pool and down to the Lincoln, and back up to our neighborhood. When the weather is nice, it's a lovely walk.

So we were walking up 17th Street, and the police had the street blocked off. In fact, we were asked to step back - we'd walked too close. I tried to chat up the policeman, find out who was coming through, but he was having none of it. He woundn't tell us who was coming through or how long it would take.

So we stepped back and waited. We considered walking around it, but it would've meant walking all the way around the Ellipse, and it was getting dark. Much easier to just wait.

And so we waited. And waited. And waited.

We dislike the current regime with more intensity that we'd care to admit. All of our bitterness towards them was oozing out our pores as we waited for this motorcade. It turns out that it's DC - not federal - tax dollars that pays for their motorcades and such. We're aggravated that we're paying for all this. And having to wait for them.

Finally, finally the procession started arriving. Police and police and secret service cars and police and cars and a big, dark, van. And police and secret service and so on and so forth.

"Wow! More than just Bush and Cheney!"

"Definitely. Oh, wait, somebody just got to town...I just saw it in the Post this morning. He must be in there with all of them."

The tourists were exicted about someone important! We simply felt inconvenienced.

And so we kept waiting and waiting for them to pass. It was dark. We were getting cold. We wanted to go home.

"Fucking dignitaries."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Badger vs. Tasmanian Devil, According to Bob

I work with this very cute, young guy named Bob. He's totally hilarious and refreshing, and describes himself as "That guy who looks like he's just gotten his eyebrows perfectly waxed."

He's the only person I know who makes you feel like a teenage boy when you're talking to him.

His favorite Christmas present - and one he would sincerely recommend for any guy - one of those lights you can strap to your head. He said it's his best present ever. It's great for working on the car, or digging around in a dark cupboard, or even just reading a book. The other day he was watching TV and forgot he was wearing it.

Someone suggested he wear it driving, and he said it might be helpful to avoid hitting deer. Which reminded me that my insurance company recently told me that the premium for hitting a deer is lower than for normal accidents, because if you have the choice, they want you to go ahead and hit the deer rather than driving into another car, or a tree, for example.

This prompted a discussion of the damage that deer, moose, and even large pigs can do to your car. Which then led us to the meanness of particular kinds of animals.

Now, one of my colleagues is Indian, and so she and I share some of the same stories about the meanness of monkeys (really, they are!) and cows who will chase you down the street just because they're hungry and bitter and looking for someone to take their anger out on.

They get turned loose when they are no longer useful. And you can't kill them, because it's a Hindu country. So they wander the streets starving, chewing posters off walls, mad as all get-out. Honestly, I still have a huge knot in my thigh from an angry cow veering across the street and stabbing me in the leg ten years ago. Just because.

Hippos, though, hippos are what you really need to be scared of. They're fast, and mean, and they can turn on a dime! All of these things are true.

And so this started a discussion of how a hippo and a crocodile are apparently evenly matched in a fight. And so now Bob is on a find-evenly-matched-animals kick.

This could get pretty interesting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A European Tradition?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post in honor of World AIDS Day. The post was not about fisting, although the term did figure into the safer sex lecture I described at the Whitman Walker Clinic. And because I have that word on my blog, I have discovered the following: there are a lot of people out there searching for fisting on the Internet.

I don't suppose this should surprise me, although it does. I think I'm so blasé about everything, but every time I turn around, something shocks me. I get made fun of for jumping, covering my mouth, and saying "Oh my goodness!" on a regular basis.

So here's what really surprised me in the last couple days. On Christmas, both Christmas eve and Christmas day, there were a ton of people who arrived at my site by Googling "fisting." On Christmas!

Now, the bulk of them were in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. It's gotten me wondering. And what, so, you're sitting around, and you've opened all the presents, you've had your goose and sauerkraut with the family, and then people retire to their corners to read their new books, wash the dishes, try on new outfits...and search for fisting in the Internet???

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ohhhh Boy

If you want to feel really, completely ill on December 26, I suggest the following recipe for Christmas day.

Roll out of bed at 9 am. Open presents with mom and dad. Lounge. Consider going for a run. Notice the rain. Lounge some more.

Perform ablutions and get dressed to go over to the house of old family friends. You've known this family forever. Their children are older than you, and so, have literally known you your entire life. It's such a luxury to have people like this in your life. You feel safe and at home.

Arrive at family friends' house at 3 pm. Accept the offer of rum and eggnog. Yum! You didn't eat lunch, so the eggnog calories aren't fazing you. Continue drinking rum and eggnog until dinner. Start drinking wine, and keep drinking through dinner. Then resume rum and eggnog.

Then when the "kids" decide to leave the parents behind, go out with them. It's 7 pm and you're already plastered. Woo-hoo! You aren't driving and they promise to take good care of you. Your mom, who is pretty amused at how hammered you are, takes your camera away so you don't lose it.

When you get to J's house, which is where your little party cabal has moved, , and you are asked what you want to drink, head straight for the gin. Since you've had plenty of rum, eggnog, and wine, gin is a great idea.

"Sapphire martini, up, with lots of olives."

Because a big glass of straight gin, that's always a safe way to go.

Drink half, spill the rest on the rug, and accept a new, full glass. Drink new martini.

If your day yesterday went like this, then even if you ate all three packets of M&Ms that your friends bought you when they stopped at the gas station on the way, and even if you were very kindly fed a bagel around midnight because the room simply would not stop spinning, and even if you were very nicely taken home by the old friend and deposited safe and sound at your parents' house, and you poured yourself straight into bed...those things will only slightly mitigate the fact that you pretty much drank your weight in liquor last night. This is a recipe for feeling like complete and utter ass.

You can, however, be thankful for the following, because you could, in fact, feel worse. You had today off. You are a happy drunk, and although you were entirely unfiltered, you didn't say anything appalling. You didn't smoke the cigar you were offered. You didn't get in the hot tub and drown. You have grown out of the get-drunk-and-take-off-your-clothing behavior of your youth. You were totally cared for and brought home safe and sound. Your parents love you, even if they think you're ridiculous.

And, having done all this last night, and having the idea of how bad this feels fresh in your mind, you will be much more careful on New Year's.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

This year we got the best present ever. My brother and his wife had a baby, and he is the cutest, drooliest, happiest, loveliest little Hobbit on the planet. We are all vying for his attention.

Now, I've never been a kid person. When he was just a little baby blob, I kept asking when he was going to DO something. "When's he going to talk? When's he going to do stuff?"

"Give him some time!"

They announced one day that he weighed 16 pounds! This is what our dog Gloria used to weigh.

And so, as Betty was oohing and ahing over him, I said, "Hey Zach, you know, when Gloria was your size, she could do all kinds of stuff. She could sit, she could shake hands...she could even speak. In two languages!"

None of them appreciated the comparisons.

But really, I'm crazy in love with him. He smiles! He laughs! He's charming! And this is his first Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Such Good Memories

These carolers are one of the things I love about Christmas at my parents' house. I made that first caroler - the ratty one with the blue stripes and the falling-backwards head - in fourth grade in Egypt. Everyone in the class made one. I was in Mrs. Kennedy's class. I was terrified of her, but we had great art projects.

My mom loved the idea. And so the next year, we made a bunch of our own. I look at these and there are so many memories. The lady in purple is wearing what used to be a pantsuit of my mom's in the 70's (yikes!).

The pretty one in blue, missing an eye, her hat and scarf are made of a pair of slippers that my gramma Lillian made me years prior. Her pin is from my elementary school in Bangladesh. And her hair? Well, Betty had really long hair back then and let me snip a little off the ends. I'm not kidding.

The little fellow with the drum is wearing an old shirt of my brother's from when he was a cute little guy in first or second grade. One of the guys in the back, his outfit is a sock from an old family friend.

The elegant woman in the back, she's wearing another of Betty's 70's pantsuits - a lovely brown stretchy velour number. And she and the fur coat sporting guy in front of her, they lucked out on their timing. The day they were made, our dog Jo Jo chewed up Betty's rabbit lined gloves.

They've moved continents five times, and they are showing their age. But I love them. I love all the memories.

Whether you are celebrating Christmas or not, I wish you all happiness and health and great times with people you love and who love you.

Big hugs to all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Circumcision Sure Can Kill a Conversation

Conversation with three colleagues - Kay, Steve, and Eric - on the way back from a Starbucks run.

Steve thinks our UPS guy is hot. "Oh. My. God. Did you see UPS Guy today?"

UPS Guy is big and muscular, and, in my opinion, slightly scary looking. He doesn't smile. He has a big face and a shiny shaved head.

I replied, "You know we don't have the same taste in men. Remember - you liked Neck Guy on that show."

"What show?"

"The sewing one."

"Right. Project Runway. Whatever. That guy is totally hot."

"Anyway, we don't have the same taste in men."

Steve rolled his eyes at my lack of taste. "So UPS Guy. Of course he had on his little brown shorts, but he also had on the cutest Santa hat!"

Kay said, "You know, I've just never gotten into the bald guy thing. I don't see the appeal."

And I said, "I never did, until I dated this big bald British guy. Except for not being circumcised, he was totally hot."

Brief and shocked pause.

Steve and Eric don't know what to do with this. Kay, who has told me that her mother described to her how she once put a rubber band on a guy's penis and it was too tight and he panicked and it got stuck, is not remotely fazed.

Kay makes a face. "Not circumcised?"

"Yah. Ick."

Steve, who can't believe I've said this, also can't contain his curiosity. I know from his blog that he has slept with women, but that was years and years ago. "Wow! You women can tell?"

Kay and I look at him. "Of course you can tell."

"Huh! Women are much more sensitive than I'd have imagined!"

"Sensiti...? Oh! No, no, not... Heh. I mean. Um. Just, you know. When you. And. Yeah. You know. Um."

We keep walking, eyes forward, totally avoiding looking at each other.

"Way to make things awkward, Lis."


Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Dad on Fire

Many, many Christmases ago, when we lived in India and I was in high school, my dad got a video camera. One of those enormous ones that used tapes. He got it a couple months before Christmas, and proceeded to film every waking minute of our lives.

I have to say, I appreciate it now, because, well, life in India is the kind of thing you want to have a record of. I will find pictures and post them. It'd be fun to dig up those moments. But at the time, oh, how we got sick of it.

See, it wouldn't have been such a big deal if I hadn't been so insanely self-conscious. If I hadn't been one of those girls who starved and exercised herself down to 100 lbs and still thought she had the fattest thighs around. If I wasn't terrified of anyone seeing me without makeup. Or in a bad moment. Or in bad light. Or an outfit that made me look fat/pale/ name it. You get the picture. Ridiculously insecure.

And so, knowing I'd be on film all day long, I got up at 6 am Christmas morning, so that I could shower, and put on my make-up, and get dressed up. We had a very dear family friend named Dallas spending Christmas with us, as he usually did, and so there he was, stuck on film with my family. All day long.

By that evening, when it was time for Christmas dinner, we were tired and sullen. We were sick of performing. We were sick of answering stupid questions for the camera.

So I invite you to picture this. A dinner table, set for five, with a Christmas feast. There is food galore. My dad is at the head of the table, behind the camera, asking questions. I am to his right. I have, oh, perhaps 8 peas on my plate, and maybe half a potato. It's about as much as I am willing to eat for dinner in high school.

And since my dad is stuck behind the camera, this night it doesn't turn into an argument. An argument that is the only one he cannot win, because he cannot force me to eat more, and he cannot force me to exercise less. Back then, back then I thought it was about the size of my thighs. It took me years to realize it was about control. But I digress.

So I am seated to the right of my dad, picking veeeery slowly at my peas. My brother is to his immediate left. He's 14, a slightly awkward teenager, trying to be obliging, in an I-wish-you-would-leave-me-alone way. My mother is seated next to my brother, and she is sitting there avoiding questions by shoveling food into her mouth. And next to her, at the far end of the table, is our lovely house guest Dallas.

My dad turns to me. "How are you enjoying your Christmas, Lis?"

I spear a single, solitary pea. "It's fine."

"That's great! How about you, son? That food on your plate looks delicious! What are you eating?"

"Turkey and stuffing. Same thing we always eat on Christmas."

The camera stops on Betty, who keeps up a steady fork to mouth rhythm, leaving no possibility of an on-camera question.

And so, finally, my dad begins to focus entirely on Dallas. This year Dallas has the weighty responsibility of carrying the entire Christmas dinner conversation. Fortunately, he is a very old friend, practically family. He already knows our quirks, although perhaps this year we are a little more unfiltered than one might expect. He isn't fazed, however. He laughs a lot, he tells great stories, he's charming. This year, he'd recently taken a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. His journey was fascinating.

"So, Dallas, where was the first place in Russia that the train stopped?"

Dallas obliged. Honestly, his story was great. We were all listening, we just weren't participating.

And then my father, for some reason, decided to back up. I don't know if he wanted to get a shot of the whole table, and needed to back away from it to do so. But in any case, he backed straight into the candelabra on the credenza and set his sweater on fire.

The last thing you see and hear on this tape is the following.

My dad (camera still running) yells, "Oh my God! I'm on fire!"

Cut to a shot of me looking briefly at my dad, and then calmly across the table at my brother and saying, "Can you please pass the salt?"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thank You

Thank you, thank all of you very much. I so appreciate the supportive comments that some of you have left, and the nice emails that I've received. I always contend that people are kind, and the support I've gotten from strangers reaching out through cyberspace confirms that belief.

And now, after all this kindness, I am going to ask a future favor of you.

When I met M, I had an immediate connection with him, which led me to write a post. It was a post that was primarily about the Dementor, who was the last guy I had such an immediate and intense connection with, and who wound up being, well, a Dementor.

Interestingly, I talked to the Dementor Monday night. Our relationship ended acrimoniously, but then we kept running into each other and chatting politely. And then he moved to NY, and the possibility of us dating ended, and we formed a sort of friendship. And so now, when he comes to DC, we have coffee, and catch up on our lives. And we email and talk every so often.

So I spoke to him Monday night, and he was a shocking source of support. I'd emailed him that morning sad, and he called immediately and left a message, and then called again that night to make me tell him the story. He listened, he gave advice. He was kind and supportive. I can appreciate him now, and we have a great rapport. I'd never have predicted this, but it is a fabulous surprise. But if we were dating? He would not be nice. He'd be manipulative, and controlling and belittling. I remind myself of this whenever I think that it's so lovely to see him, and that we have such a good time together.

Now, M is not unkind. He's not a Dementor, he's really not. I believe is a good person, and that being honest and being kind are important to him. He didn't set out to make me feel bad. The problem that I have with these guys is probably more about me than about them.

So the favor that I ask of you is the following. If ever write a post swooning over this guy I've just met, will you please smack me back to reality? Will you remind me that the people I fall for immediately, the ones I have that amazing connection with, are the ones I have to be careful of? Will you please tell me that the intensity of their personality, and the personal things that they share will likely pull me in very close very fast, that I will like them too quickly, and one way or another, I will get hurt?

Thank you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Or Maybe It's Not the Glasses

I have started wearing my glasses out at night.

I'm farsighted, so I wear glasses to read or when I'm on the computer. Basically, I wear them all day at work, but since I can see everything without them, I never used to wear them when I didn't have to.

The thing about being farsighted, at least for me, is that I can choose when to focus my eyes and when not to. But if I'm tired, I have to work to focus without my glasses. About a month ago I had a plan to meet friends out at Local 16. I was tired, and I couldn't be bothered to try to look nice. I certainly didn't feel like working to focus. And so I decided to hide behind my glasses.

A very interesting thing happened. I got such different reactions from men. Men I know and men I don't. Everyone liked the glasses. Not only that, they talked to me differently, and they took me more seriously. Pre-glasses, I remember I asked someone if a relationship had ended "acrimoniously" - and I got a verbal pat on the head for using such a big word! With glasses, nobody bats an eye. I demonstrated this for a guy I know at a party the other night. I am not making it up.

And in DC, brains are like beauty in LA. Being impressed with someone's intellect is tantamount to thinking they have a nice rack or an amazing six-pack. Appearing smart is oh so important.

I was at a party not long ago, talking to a very bright, intellectual guy. He joined a couple friends and me at a particularly light point in our conversation. We were talking about bars and meeting people in them. I was worried our conversation might be too light for him.

But no, he jumped right in to the frivolous conversation. He's a professor, and one of his friends had run into a group of his students out at a bar. His friend had flirted but had no luck with any of the women in the class.

He said that clearly, knowing him hadn't been of any help to his friend, and he wondered what that said about him.

And I said, and please, let me remind you that I do not know this guy very well, I said, "Well, thank goodness! I mean, wouldn't it be awkward for you to know that the hot brunette in the third row gives really good blow jobs?"

I swear, I have never seen anyone twitch with such alacrity. His shoulder hit his ear several times faster than you can blink. He looked at me like I was a cretin. And then he fled. I cannot imagine he will take me seriously again.

So maybe it has nothing to do with the glasses.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How Was Your Date?

A text message conversation with a friend of mine regarding a blind date she'd gone on:

"How was your date?"

"He ordered a Cosmopolitan. It was, therefore, effectively over before it began."

"Yah. Bummer."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Raised a Heathen

My good friend Jane, who lives in Philadelphia, emailed me the other day and said, "Hey, I work with a woman who was at your school and in your sorority at the same time as you. Do you know K?"

According to Jane, K is incredibly bright and funny, and someone I would really like. Or maybe someone I did really like; I simply can't remember. Her name sounded familiar, although as I've described previously, college for me was miserable, and I've practically erased if from my memory. It's almost as if it didn't happen. But since the world is small, lately I have fewer than six degrees of separation from Carolina.

So Jane told this woman that she thought we might know each other. She told her my first and last name, and that I had a blog. The next day K came to her and said that she definitely didn't know me. She'd found (what she thought was) my blog on the web.

She very diplomatically said, "I found your friend Lisa's 'faith-based' blog. I wouldn't have known her in college. We would've run in very different circles. She would've been home studying while I was out drinking and partying."

My faith based blog! I looked up the blog that she had found, and the woman states up front that she's a Christian writer.

Now, this wouldn't be so funny except that I tell people that my brother and I were practically raised heathens.

Our dad was Catholic and our mom was Lutheran, and it was a scandal in both families when they got married. So although they promised to raise Catholic children, they didn't raise us with any religion. And then we spent the bulk of our childhood in India and Bangladesh, so we knew more about the avatars of Hindu gods and goddesses than about Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

I mean, we had Christmas, which is my favorite holiday on earth. But for us Christmas meant a variety of things having nothing to do with religion. It meant we (usually) got to see my Gramma Lillian, my favorite human on the planet. It meant stockings that she'd made for us (and that we still have). It meant julekake and other Norwegian Christmas treats.

Christmas meant a tree with colored lights and too much tinsel - but not necessarily a "real" Christmas tree. One year in Bangladesh, my mom bought two of the closest thing to pine trees she could find and tied them together. And we hung our lights and ornaments on it and thought it was amazing. We always used the ornaments that we or friends had made, ornaments that my parents had collected from various countries we'd lived in, ornaments with incredible sentimental value. We still use the same ones, and I LOVE them. And of course Christmas meant presents galore! We didn't actually realize that Christ had anything to do with Christmas.

And then we had Easter as well. Which meant chocolate! And candy and dyed Easter eggs! Easter for us wasn't too different from Halloween, except that we didn't wear costumes. As I said, practically heathens.

We only wound up being baptized because it bothered Gramma Lillian so much. When I was around 8 or so we were in Minot, ND visiting her for the summer. She took us down to her church to have her pastor baptize us. Incidentally, when my grandmother died, this same pastor, this very old Norwegian man with a thick, thick Norwegian accent, unintentionally provided the only moment of levity in the whole funeral. The first thing he said, in his lilting English, was, "Lillian knew she vass a sinnner!" I almost laughed out loud. My sweet little grandmother? A sinner? And she knew it?

When we went back home after the summer of the baptism I wore the dress she'd bought me, and my dad complimented it.

"Thank you. It's my baptism dress."

"Your what?!"

And then, when I was 14 and my brother was 10, our parents started hauling us off to Mass. They suddenly freaked out, fearing that if we didn't have some kind of religion in our lives, we'd grow up and join the Moonies.

We were too old, though. We were sullen. We were bitter. It was a fight every Sunday. The following year we only had to go every second Sunday, and the year after that I think it dropped to Christmas and Easter. And then to never.

College, in fact, was the first time I'd been around people my age who voluntarily went to church. There were women in my sorority (and I know that K was picturing me as one of them) who had weekly Bible study. It being the South, there was a lot of "accepting Christ into your life" around. The only time I'd ever said "Jesus Christ" was when I did something like drop a brick on my toe. As I've said before, I was aberrant in Chapel Hill, hotbed of liberalism for North Carolina, home of Jesse Helms.

Jane knows all of these things. And so of course got a great laugh out of this "Lisa has a faith-based blog" idea. And then she pointed K to my actual blog, starting with my post on foot prostitution.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Only Lisa Tailgates This Way

The title of this post is the title M gave to a picture he took of me, drinking wine in his car. He took it on our Philly football weekend. I love the title and the humor behind it.

I've been trying not to write too much about him. I don't know him well yet, and I don't know where it will go. I don't want to jinx it.

I would like to say, however, that it's really hard NOT to like a man who invites you on a random adventure, which turns out to be a football game. Who calls you from Starbucks on his way over to pick you up on that Saturday morning to see what he can bring you. And then when you get up there early, parks his car in the sunshine so you can watch all the other tailgaters but don't have to be outside in the cold. Who then opens the sunroof, pulls out a bottle of wine, and offers you a glass. And then sits and TALKS to you about everything under the sun. Who asks questions about you, and who you are and what you like, about your family, about your interests. And offers up his own personal information. And then, when you go into the game, which he is very into, having played football in college, he still wants to make sure you're having a nice time. It's hard not to like a guy who feels, emotionally and intellectually, like one of your close female friends, and then is also this big, athletic, hot GUY. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Full of, Well, Not Brains

My head is full of snot, which is throwing off my balance. I'm not super coordinated to begin with. The good part is that my voice, which is normally quite high, is now kind of low and gravelly. My coworker said I could do phone porn with this voice.

The hardest part is that I'm exhausted and just plain five steps behind.

I was getting coffee in the kitchen, and one of my colleagues walked in and said, "Hi."

I said, "Hi, how are you?"

"Fine, how about you?"

"Fine, thanks. How are you?"

She gave me a long, hard look. "I'm fine, thanks."

And then another colleague walked in and she said, "Hi, Dan, how are you?"

And I replied, "I'm fine, thanks. How are you?"

They both looked at me and started laughing. And kept laughing when I walked into the doorframe on the way out.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Boy, I'm Glad I'm Not a Gangster!

I will turn into my mom. I believe this to be inevitable. Today I say, "I speak Betty." One day, I'll probably have a kid who interprets for me in the same way as I do when mom tells people who ask that her dog is a "Jack Daniel Fox," and I translate it to "Jack Russell Terrier."

I just thought, "Boy, feeling bad really is no fun!" Which is such a Betty thing to say, and reminded me of one of my favorite Betty stories of all time. This is from probably 4 or 5 years ago.

My mom, who, except for her recent interest in Sex and the City, has never been very into pop culture, walked into the kitchen one day, and said to nobody in particular, "Hi Puff Daddy!"

My mom had heard of Puff Daddy? "You know Puff Daddy?"

"Of course!"

Of course? I started to laugh, and said, "Well, did you know he's P. Diddy now?"

"He's P. Diddy?"

"Yes. So did you know he's no longer dating J Lo?"

"He was dating J Lo?"

"He was."

"How come they broke up?"

"I don't know. Mom, do you know he's a gangsta rapper?"

"A gangster rapper? A gangster?"

"Well, it's a type of rap. But he did apparently shoot someone. He went to prison."

"He shot someone! Well, that's probably why J Lo didn't want to date him anymore. Who wants to date a gangster?"

"Mom, who is Puff Daddy?"

"Why, he's a member of KISS!"

Honestly, I almost fell off my chair. She got a little indignant. And a bit later she said, mostly to herself,"Boy, I'm glad I'm not a gangster. That would be no fun!"

Friday, December 08, 2006

No Perk Today

Today I have nothing happy or funny or witty to say. I feel crummy. And I'm sad.

This week we ruled out both SARS and Bird Flu. So I have a cold. "That sounds like a cold, my friend." Or allergies. "You look exactly like I look when my allergies are kicking my ass." In other words, I look as bad as I feel, and nobody is trying to pretend otherwise.

The truth is that whatever it is, that, coupled with seeing B at a party last night, has me low low low. Seeing him was fine, actually. It was nice to say hello, and I'd have left it at that. But late in the evening, he came to find me, to catch up. And so we talked about how our families are, and work, and life. And it was nice. I've been wondering.

And then he said, "I'm respecting your wishes and not contacting you." I appreciate that - it's really helpful. I know there are lots of good reasons not to be together, but it doesn't mean I've stopped missing him.

The decision to cut him out of my life was so incredibly hard, but it was such a good one. I am finally moving on, and life is fun again. Guys are fun again. Last weekend, I had such an amazing time with M. And for the first time with any guy since B, I was totally thrilled about the person I was with. I just had fun. I didn't once think, "But what about B?"

As we were parting he said, "I'm sure that in three or four years we'll be great friends."

Why say this to me? What is the point? Once he doesn't matter anymore, he just, well, won't matter. So why would we be friends then? Why?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Everything Is Relative

I was not going to admit this but everyone else has. . .last week I went searching the Internets for pictures of Britney Spears and her naked hoo-ha. And wow, it's naked naked! Like, good thing she lives in LA because while it gets cold there, in DC she'd totally be freezing her, um, assets. Because not only is she not wearing underwear, but she's also practically waving her crotch in the breeze. Brrrr. And yikes!

According to Citizen of the Month's Britney Spears Age Test, I fall somewhere between "Generation X" - someone who reads Us Magazine and worries about these celebs (I guiltily read Us - but only at the allergist's office!) and an "Immature Adult" - someone wondering why someone as uninteresting as Britney gets so much attention, but still willing to search the web to find the pictures.

I don't have celebrity crushes, although I do often have clothing envy. I don't have one of those lists of the five celebrities you could sleep with without getting in trouble in your relationship. I don't really care what these people get up to, but like a train wreck, when it's truly horrifying, I can't keep from looking.

For Thanksgiving we had dinner with very close family friends. I was seated at one end next to a man I've known my whole life. He's about 80, and an extremely interesting character. He's incredibly intellectual, and so when someone else turned the conversation to Jessica Simpson, I was astounded that he not only knew who she was, but had something to say.

"I will note," he said very seriously, "that she certainly seems to be aging gracefully."

"Aging gracefully?" I shrieked. "The woman is only 25 or 26!"

"Well, yes. But everything is relative. Look at her pal Britney Spears."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ability to Camp Might Be Genetic

I think M could be someone who sees it as a personal challenge to turn me into a camper. I told him how terrified I was that I thought I might've agreed to go camping last weekend.

He said, "I bet you don't like camping because you don't like the clothing. What if you could wear a cute outfit? They make pink fleece, you know."

People have said this kind of thing to me before. Listen, I love fleece. I love fabrics that wick, unlikely as that may sound. I have a pink Nalgene bottle. It's not the outfits. I'm just not a camper.

I do not come from camping people, despite the fact that I come from farming Irish and Viking ancestry. My ancestors trudged across the Midwestern prairie when they got to this country, presumably in an attempt to be just as cold as they were in their own countries. My grandparents grew up on farms. And still nothing about my family screams, let's rough it! Let's enjoy the great outdoors! I believe my father's idea of camping is staying at a Hyatt. And my mom is always impeccably dressed. Betty always has on lipstick, perfume, nice shoes. This is a woman who travels with a pumice stone. She always looks and smells amazing.

When I moved back from San Diego, Betty flew out and we spent a month driving cross-country back to DC. We took a slightly circuitous route, as we decided to enjoy the time we had together and to visit family and friends. We spent some time in Berkeley with dear family friends. The night before we were leaving they said, "You ARE going to Yosemite, aren't you?"

My mom and I looked at each other. "Yosemite? Oh, um, sure, we could go."

"You must, you absolutely must. Yosemite is incredible. There's a great lodge you can stay at."

They called and the lodge was full. But we just couldn't miss Yosemite. It was too spectacular. The only reservations we could get were for Camp Curry, which meant that we would stay in a big white tent on a platform, essentially. We would have beds. It would be like camping but not really. They reiterated that as long as we were there, we had to do it.

Now, Yosemite has bears. As we were entering and registering in the park, we were shown all these videos about bears, and what they can do to cars. The bears aren't malicious, but the park wants to make sure that you don't come face-to-face with them either. A bear can pull the door or roof off a car with seemingly the same amount of effort it takes me to pull a yellow sticky note off a page. These videos showed one bear after another sniffing around a car, and then, when something caught their interest, they just casually ripped the car apart to investigate.

Bears are curious, and they apparently have these amazing noses. And for this reason the park people don't want you to leave anything in your car that might entice them. Clothes and such can go in the trunk, out of sight. But you cannot leave food, lotion, anything that smells at all, in your car. A bear will seriously pull the roof off a car for a Snickers wrapper. So the park offers "bear lockers" - big, heavy, metal lockers without handles, so the bears have nothing to grip to pull them open.

Yosemite attracts a lot of hikers and campers. So as Betty and I parked at the end of the day, we watched these hearty camping-y and hiking-y people loading their gear into the bear lockers. They had serious provisions. They had big, heavy gear. They were wearing sturdy brown hiking boots and rugged socks and fleece in earth tones.

And then there were Lisa and Betty unloading the Civic. La la la la la. Traipsing over to the bear locker, with things like, oh, perfume. La la la. A box of See's chocolates. La la la. Scented lotion, shampoo, conditioner. Gum. Make-up. And my dictionary. I'd forgotten to pack it when we left San Diego, so I'd chucked it in the back seat. It had a shiny cover that might entice a bear, and the trunk was full. We were embarrassed. We tried to make quick trips to the lockers when then campers weren't looking.

You also can't have anything in your tent that smells. No food, no face lotion, no toothpaste. All that was to be put in the bear locker. The toothpaste was what got us. We could skip the face washing, but not the teeth brushing. We walked in the dark, clutching each other, from our tent to the bathrooms. But we couldn't get ourselves all the way from our tent to the bear locker to put the toothpaste back. It was too far in the pitch black.

I worried about the toothpaste. It was Tom's of Maine. Delicious and outdoorsy - just the kind of thing a bear could love! In the middle of the night, I woke up freezing, and I heard a noise, a low, repetitive growl. I didn't want to wake up Betty, who it turned out was also awake and fretting about the bear. A bear! A growling bear! In search of toothpaste! The bear kept growling but never made a move. The bear turned out to be, upon breath-held analysis, the man in the next tent, snoring his head off.

It was really cold in the bed in the platform tent. I had to pee. It was too dark to walk to the bathroom. And besides, there were bears. I finally fell back into a fitful sleep around five in the morning. And was awakened by Betty at six.

She was fully dressed. Her lips were pursed. She tossed her head and exclaimed, "That was the worst night of my entire life!"

My mom, this endlessly elegant woman, had a cup of urine delicately perched in each hand. "Come on. Let's dump these out in the bathroom, and then we're going to the lodge for breakfast."

As we walked out of the tent door she said, "This camping business is horrible."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Naked Chocolate

I love Philadelphia, I really do. I spent the weekend there, and if you go, you must visit the Naked Chocolate cafe on Walnut Street. It's charming. The people are nice. It's chocolate heaven. They have this drinking chocolate that could be illegal - it's like melted chocolate crack in a cup with whipped cream on top.

Last Friday, December 1st, was World AIDS Day. I was too absorbed in my upcoming trip to post about anything related to it. And then this weekend I didn't post at all because I was in Philly, watching football and drinking and eating and wandering. And exclaiming every 5 minutes how much I like the city.

So the following, while not about World AIDS Day, is about safer sex.

While I was growing up my dad worked in public health - maternal-child health, population control, and nutrition. Huge issues in the countries we lived in. Condom use, as explained to my brother and me, was all about responsibility. The responsibility not to overpopulate the planet. The responsibility not to contract or transmit disease.

We got boxes of condoms for distribution delivered to our house. Red, green, blue - condoms! Fun colors! I knew what condoms looked like, and about the importance of using them waaay before I had any remote idea what one actually did with one.

Beginning at the age of five or six, I could formally discuss the merits of various kinds of birth control, condoms being the cheapest and most practical in the countries we lived in. STDs were discussed as a matter of course at the dinner table. Which for my mom, I think, was a far preferable topic to the parasites and poo conversations that the rest of us enjoyed.

The message, starting when I was young: you use condoms. (Later, when discussed in a more adult way, it became: Unless you're in an absolutely, 100% for sure monogamous relationship, AND you've both been tested for everything.) When I lived in Mt. Pleasant right after college I volunteered at a free clinic, and one of the daily topics was STD and HIV testing. I worked at a non-profit dealing with women's health issues. Health and safe sex have always been part of my reality.

So years ago, when a friend of mine learned her boyfriend was cheating on her, I dragged her down to the Whitman Walker Clinic for free HIV testing. I offered to get tested as well, because the whole thing, understandably, freaked her out. She needed someone to go through it with her.

I don't know what it's like now, but 10 years ago, you had to sit through a detailed "safer sex" presentation prior to the testing. The woman giving our presentation was a cute little brown-haired woman with a ton of energy. The audience was comprised mainly of men, and because of the focus of the clinic, presumably gay men. As women, my friend and I were in the minority.

Now, I knew a lot about HIV transmission and the prevention thereof prior to this lecture. I was along for moral support. As such, I was zoning out for parts of it. And then this woman would do something that would jerk me back to attention.

For example, she was talking about the proper way to put on a condom. She talked about sizes, brands, colors, etc etc. And then she said, "Some men will try to tell you they're too big to wear a condom."

She unwrapped a condom and proceeded to roll it down over her clenched hand, over her wrist, and all the way down to her elbow.

"The next guy that tells you that, well, you tell him you're calling the Guinness Book of World Records!" She waved her arm around in the air triumphantly.

She talked about condoms for oral sex. She talked about dental dams. Lots and lots of options for use of latex and for safer sex activities. I'd learned all of this volunteering at the clinic. I was starting to zone again.

And then she raised her voice. "And finally, if NONE of those options appeal to you. . ."

This got my attention. The audience was waiting, watching with interest.

She made a fist, crooked her arm, and jerked her fist in the air it up towards the ceiling.

"If NONE of those options appeal to you. . .there's always fisting!"

The roomful of men didn't react in any obvious way.

My friend and I, two naive little straight women, we leapt five feet in the air. I'd never heard of it before. Fisting! Holy cow! And what a terrifying visual!

I repeated this story for weeks, always with her intonation, always with her swift upward arm motion. "There's always fisting!"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Random Adventure!

I'm going on an adventure this weekend!

That guy - M - asked if I was free this coming Saturday. If so, he wanted to know if I'd like to go on an adventure. We wouldn't get back to DC till Sunday. He did this by email, so I had a little time to think.

My immediate reaction was, an adventure! I LOVE random adventure! Yes!

And then I had a brief but concerted panic. I have a history of getting into things too quickly. Three dinner dates haven't made it a thing. Would this make it a thing? What does this mean? Does it have to mean anything? What is he thinking? What am I thinking? Does this mean I have to know what I'm thinking?

I freaked out for about a minute with all these things and 85 more. And then I decided to just go with it and have fun.

I emailed back and said, "I love adventure! Absolutely!"

When we talked later, I asked for details.

"You'll have to dress warmly."

Dress warmly? Shit, did I just agree to go camping?

I hate camping. I think back over our dates - was there anything in the conversation that might suggest I even particularly like the outdoors?

Immediately this became one of those scenarios that move 7 million miles a minute in your head. Like when you are out with a guy and during your first cocktail you have, in your mind, already fallen madly in love, moved in together, gotten married, stopped being attracted to each other, grown far apart, and gotten divorced - all in florid detail - and all in the span of oh, perhaps 30 seconds. . .

And you suddenly realize that while you were getting married and divorced in your head you finished your martini and now you have no idea what the guy just asked you. All you know is, you cannot go out with him again. The divorce was just too ugly.

And so in my mind, while M and I are talking, I am dressed warmly and unattractively to go camping, camping! with him, somewhere in the Virginia wilderness. It is cold and dark, and there is a tent, and he is off hunting(!?), and I am, I don't know, sitting on a cooler of Budweiser and warming baked beans on the fire, and listening for bears. And though Dante didn't describe this particular scenario, it must certainly qualify as one of the levels of Hell.

Because he does not know me, he does not know that I only like nature in one of two ways - in one-day increments, like a day of hiking or climbing, or wildly exotic, like the Everest Trek in Nepal. I am happy in the city. I don't even particularly want a lot of nature through a window. That means you're stuck somewhere not city.

I was holding my breath. I let it out just enough to say, "Dress warmly, huh? What are we doing?"

And he said, "We're going to a football game!"

I started to laugh. (I said something to myself that I would never, ever have imagined saying - "Thank you Jesus! A football game!") Out loud I said, "Football? Wow!"

Camping friends say that I've been scarred by my trip with my old boyfriend Axel and the Camping Nazis, that not all camping has to be like that. They say camping can be fun. This trip was 8 years ago, and it's still a fresh and horrible memory.

Axel and I joined his friends up at Lake Arrowhead one long weekend. We arrived a day after everyone, and the first thing we saw were two bulletins posted to a tree next to the tents. One was entitled "Menus" - and it had, in detail, the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for the entire three days. There were even lists of "Betweel Meal Snacks" at appropriate times. I believe "Beverage Options" was a category as well.

"Activities" was the title of the page posted next to it. It had the schedule of activities, in half-hour increments, from morning till night. Including the annual Battleship competition, which traditionally took place at 2 pm on Saturday. Right after lunch, which took place after the annual Over the Line game. Which could include, if one wanted, beer, as an accompanying beverage.

I am not one to crack open a beer at 10 am. Unless I am forced to play Over the Line with Camping Nazis.

It was a miserable, overscheduled two days. The not bathing is not what gets me about camping - I can be a mudpuppy for a day or two. It's more that the whole being cold, sleeping on the ground, worrying about wild animals ranging from spiders to bears, and washing your cooking utensils in freezing cold water. All of that just sucks.

And going away for a fun weekend with people who schedule your every minute, who get really upset if you want to, say, take a nap instead of participating in the Annual Battleship Competition, well, that's just a waste of a weekend. If I wanted to have that kind of fun regularly, I'd join the military.

Axel is still friends with them, but he also still refers to them as the Camping Nazis. I wasn't hugely fond of these people to begin with, and by the end I disliked them so intensely I could barely look at them.

My highlight of the weekend? The main organizer, this very uptight guy named John, saying, "Planning is just being spontaneous in advance."