Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Office Furniture, or Watch Your Bowls

Our office is moving. And one of my friends is on the team to choose the new office furniture, among other things. She returned from the furniture scouting outing with the following to say.

"So Lisa," she said, with a significant look, "do you want to know what I was thinking when we were looking at conference room furniture?"

"What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking about your brother!"

"My brother?"

"Yes, your brother, who I have never even met! They had this big glass table! And I couldn't even listen to the guy who was showing us around. Because all I could think of was your brother!"

My brother and I are not, on the surface, much alike. He's big and tall and broad-shouldered, with dark brown hair and lovely dark brown eyes. He has skin that turns a gorgeous color practically the minute the summer sun comes out.

He dresses fairly conservatively. I think it's only the last few years that he's ventured into two colors for dress shirts. It used to be that anything but white or blue was crazy. Now, sometimes he gets a little wild with a check or stripes!

But underneath this normal exterior, he's just as bizarre as the rest of my family.

He's very successful, with this impressive, high powered job. He travels a lot for work, and he meets with tons of people.

So this one day, he said, he was at a client's office. He'd been in meetings all day. He was, at this point, a little tired and bored. He and one of the VPs were walking down the hallway. They happened to pass a conference room.

All the walls were glass. The table was glass. And in the middle of the table? A large, crystal bowl.

My brother had this split-second vision of himself strolling nonchalantly into the conference room, climbing up onto the glass table, pulling down his pants, and taking a poo in the crystal bowl.

He said, "And you know what would happen? That woman, the VP, she'd turn and see what was going on, and she'd flip out!"

"Yes, I imagine she would."

"So she'd have no choice but to call the president of our company, and tell him what happened. My boss initially would not believe it. And she'd swear it was true. And in the end, he'd have to believe her."


"So then he would have no choice but to fire me! And people would ask, and he'd have to tell them. So everyone in my company would know that I got fired for taking a poo in a client's bowl."

Personally, I think this is somehow related to being raised overseas and his childhood penchant for pooing in flowerbeds.

Anyway, I told my friend this story months ago. I'd forgotten all about it.

She said, "I couldn't get it out of my mind! The whole time we were at the showroom."

"You didn't tell our boss, did you?"

"Are you kidding? You want him to think I'm insane?"

I didn't say I don't care if he thinks she's insane; I don't want him to think I am.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In Case You Were Curious

For those of you who read the Tagged post, in which I was required to list seven things about me - six true and one false, here are the explanations.

It turns out John was right, and #1 is the fib. So John, the next time I see you, I'll buy you a drink. And you can tell me why you just had a feeling I was a terrible singer.

The truth is, I can't sing to save myself. I only sing in front of people I'm close to, like family close, like my mom and Maude. I don't even sing Happy Birthday. And I have very poor song recognition skills, except for 80's tunes, which is both weird and embarrassing. Having to sing Karaoke is one of my versions of Hell.

My parents love to tell this story of how, when I was a little kid, I would try to make them guess what song I was humming.

"So, guess what song this is! Hmm hmm HMMM Hmm hMMMM HMM hmm."

"Um. . .Mary Had A Little Lamb?"

"No! Try again! Hmm hmm HMMM hmm HHHMM!"

"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?"


They'd go through the list. And it was always completely unrecognizable. I'd finally have to tell them it was "You Are My Sunshine" or whatever it was that it sounded nothing like.

And here are details on the rest of them.

2. Not changing my clothing for a week in Nepal: I really did the Everest trek and at the highest altitude, staying in tea houses heated by a big metal stove burning yak dung, it was just too damn cold to take anything off. I know it's gross, but breathing was enough of an effort and removing any piece of clothing was unthinkable. At night I'd take off my boots, unhook my bra, and climb in my sleeping bag. The shower I had after that week was amazing.

3. Being an introvert and being shy: On the Myers-Briggs I'm an INFP. I'm just barely on the introvert side. But I am. Very few people who ever meet me believe I'm shy, though.

4. Dealing with crises: I am great in a crisis, even crises of considerable magnitude. I don't lose my shit (until years later, when, as it turns out, I lose it fairly thoroughly). At the time, though, I have a clear enough head to call 911. Or take you to the emergency room. Or follow the ambulance there. This excellent-in-a-crisis thing has, unfortunately, been tested a number of times.

5. Milk: Yes, I think milk is gross. Growing up we always had powdered milk because of the possibility of TB in the countries we lived in.

6. Living in a church: I lived in Saint Paul's Within the Walls, the first non-Catholic church inside the ancient walls of Rome. They rented out the second floor to students. I absolutely loved it.

7. Defense contracting: Yes, I designed all these training programs on military topics I'd never imagined learning anything about. And I quit because I couldn't imagine filling my brain with any more of it.

So that's the big scoop on me. Questions or comments or random tidbits, please email me. I love getting email - feedback, questions, any and all of it. I absolutely love hearing from people who visit.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Emergency Shoes

Those of you who live in DC know that we were deluged with snow Sunday morning. Big, beautiful, fluffy, white, cold, inconvenient flakes of it.

I'm one of the oblivious, unprepared people who never pay attention to the weather. So inclement weather always takes me by surprise. And when I get caught in it I walk around muttering profanity under my breath.

But it was Sunday and I had nowhere I had to be, so I made coffee and watched the snowflakes and set about digging through my closet for my most practical boots.

Those of you who know me know that I'm not super organized. And I have too many shoes.

As I was pawing through the astounding conglomeration on the floor of my closet, I came across my emergency shoes.

Last spring I bought the shoes above, my emergency shoes, for a date. I'm embarrassed about this, but it's true. The Dementor was in town for a couple days, and we were having trouble making our schedules match up, and he called me mid-day to ask if I could have drinks after work that day.

Now, I had on a mostly cute outfit. A fabulous skirt and a hip denim jacket. But frumpy, comfy office shoes. I mean, not terrible. But not remotely hot. They were shoes that said, "I'm practical. And I got them on sale, which makes me thrifty! Thrifty and practical! And comfortable!"

So as I was talking to him on the phone, I looked down at my feet and thought, "Fuck! I can't go on a date in these shoes!"

I have to have the right shoes. I don't mean Manolos or Jimmy Choos - I have none of those. But I have to feel good - and good means attractive - in my shoes. When I travel, I'm really good at packing lightly, except for shoes. If I don't have the appropriate shoes for an outfit, it really bothers me. I always have to bring a lot of superfluous, just-in-case shoes.

So I almost told him I was too busy. Because I was not going on a date in frumpy footwear.

And then I remembered Nine West was over on Connecticut, and I had time to get there and back at lunch.

And so I agreed to meet him after work. I told my friend T, who I was supposed to have lunch with, that I had to cancel. Because I had to buy shoes. It was a shoe emergency.

I tried on practically 85 shoes in 20 minutes and chose these. They were not on sale, and I did not need another pair of black platform shoes, except for that very day, on which I absolutely needed them. I felt like these shoes were a little S&M, particularly for the office, but they were shoes I actually liked that looked good with my outfit.

I practiced walking up and down the office hallway in them a few times, then put them on at the end of the day and minced out the door and down the street.

I know, I do know that it shouldn't matter what shoes you have on. I should not be that insecure or superficial. But this was back when he still made me nervous, and knowing and feeling are two different things.

And the way I walked down the block in these shoes was "Hell, yeah, I can kick ass! And I'm tall! And ha! These shoes are hot!"

Not, "I'm practical! And comfortable! And these practical, comfortable shoes, well, I wear them all the time at the office because really, at the office I'd rather be comfortable, and plus I spend a lot of time with my shoes tucked under my desk in my cube!"

When I wear these shoes I have to walk with an attitude - my head held high, and shoulders back. Truthfully part of that is in an effort to balance, because boy are they high!

My emergency shoes. Not for a snow emergency, though.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I Got Tagged

OK, so Girl and Dog tagged me and so now I have to offer up seven weird things about myself. Six are true; one is false.

I don't know if these are weird or prosaic - I'm not so good at making the distinction. But here you go:
  1. I have perfect pitch and I love to sing. I usually have a karaoke party for my birthday. Once I got an entire room to sing I Will Survive (the Gloria Gaynor version) with me.

  2. I once did the Everest trek in Nepal. We trekked for a month. For one of the weeks it was so cold that I didn't take off any of my clothes, even to sleep. I didn't even change my socks. For a whole week.

  3. I'm actually an introvert, and I can be really shy. I just pretend I'm not most of the time. I love people and I love to socialize, but if I don't get enough alone time I get cranky.

  4. I'm excellent in an emergency. If there's a crisis, I keep a totally cool head and kick into high gear. I'm a great person to have around if something goes totally wrong.

  5. I didn't grow up drinking milk, so if I see someone drinking a glass of it, particularly whole milk, I get kind of nauseated.

  6. I spent a semeser of college in Rome, and during that time I lived in a church. It was in a great location and I didn't have to do any church-y stuff, which is fortunate, since I'm not religious.

  7. I used to work for a defense contractor. I designed training programs on topics such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and US export control regulations. I've been to meetings at the Pentagon.
And now I have to tag people. I tag two men: What Am I Producing? and LMNt. I hope you guys don't mind. . .

Saturday, February 24, 2007

At Least You Wouldn't Squeak

Yesterday I was in the kitchen at work and my friend Bob, hilarious, young Bob of the utterly random and nonsensical conversations, the one who makes you feel like a teenage boy when you're talking to him, was getting some ice from the freezer. He dropped a piece on the floor and left it.

Now, every once in a while there's a random piece of ice on the floor.

So another of our colleagues, C, called him on it.

"You're the ice dropper!"

Bob confessed that yes, he's an ice dropper and leaver. Because eventually it just melts, right?

So I asked if he was drinking orange juice straight from the carton as well. To which he responded, "Of course!"

And he also pokes his finger in people's yogurt, just to see, and then says, "Oh, you mean it's not lotion?'"

Bob is the guy who got a headlamp for Christmas and declared it his best present ever. The gift he would recommend for anyone. And so I had a momentary flash of him investigating the contents of the fridge, headlamp blazing.

C made a comment that I didn't hear, but which apparently had a sexual connotation. To which Bob rolled his eyes and pointed out that C tries too hard to make everything sexual.

Which is true. C is not a bad person, I don't think, just kind of smarmy. And not funny.

And so I ignored C 's comment and said to Bob, "I met a woman at a happy hour who said she'd sub-let her place to a guy. She said he left a variety of things behind. And next to the bed she found a can of Pam and a box of plastic baggies."

To be honest, I cannot even remember who this woman was, or why on earth we started talking about her sub-letter. But clearly the Pam and baggies had left an impression.

Pam! Non-stick vegetable spray! And baggies!

Bob, however, was not impressed. "You know, it's ridiculous. You have anything next to your bed and girls automatically think you're using it for masturbation purposes!"


"Yeah. This girl came over one time, and I'd been cleaning and fixing things, and so I had some paper towels and WD-40 on my bedside table. And she looked at those and looked at me and gave me an eyebrow wiggle and a 'heh heh heh'."

I laughed out loud.

"No, seriously! You can have anything and they think that! It's really annoying!"

It turns out we need to have at least one teenage boy conversation a week. Next week I think we should start trading baseball cards.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Liz Phair

I've been trying to post happy, pink, sparkly things lately. La la la.

But the truth is I'm feeling very Liz Phair circa Exile in Guyville lately. "I want all that stupid old shit, like letters and sodas. . .I can feel it in my bones. . ."If you know that one particular song.

I met a guy (I know, everything starts that way). So anyway, I met a guy the beginning of January. And he's really a lovely person. He's smart, he's nice, he's kind, he's shockingly well-educated.

Basically, all around good. We went out a bunch of times. And he liked me. Like, enough to suggest that we just date each other and see. This is exactly what I've been wanting, right?

But here's the thing - I just didn't feel that intensity, that whatever it is thing, that I seem to need. And since he knew about my blog - and in fact we met because of it - he knew all the back stories. And he knew that I have guy things I'm trying to work out.

We had this very easy rapport. I like him, and I respect him as a person, and I was totally candid with him about liking him but just not feeling the whatever. He knows that I have this fear that the guys I have that massive intense connection with are always going to be the unhealthy ones. The Dementors, the emotional cripples. I am hoping it's not the case. but it's a huge fear of mine.

And so lately I have been sliding into a pit of despair about how I want someone to really like me, and why doesn't anybody like me and what if I never meet someone I'm head over heels for again?

And what my friends tell me is, I can't complain about this. It's fiction to say nobody likes me - it's just that there have been a couple very notable ones who haven't. This guy was great in so many ways. And I would've loved it if that whatever it is had been there, but it wasn't. And I don't know what it is, or if it's some fictional thing I create.

I'm really trying to be rainbows and unicorns, but at the moment I'm feeling much more like rain clouds and, oh, whatever the antithesis of a unicorn might be. A slug? An eel? A mongoose?


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Angst Barbie

I have a weird affinity for Barbie. As a kid in India and Bangladesh, I was certain that I'd look like her when I grew up. Everyone around had black hair and dark skin, and everyone in my family has dark hair, and so Barbie's coloring was a lot closer to mine than anyone else's. So I was sure that as soon as I hit 16 I'd turn into Barbie.

Kind of a twisted, horrifying expectation, really.

This short film on YouTube was made by my friend Vikki's friend. It's not suitable for work. Or for anyone who would be shocked by Barbies having sex.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I was in the basement of Saint Ex last night. I used to avoid it because it used to be so smoky. Now it's great. Your eyes don't hurt from the smoke when you walk down there.

DC enacted a smoking ban on January 2nd. I know a lot of people who are social smokers, and they feel mildly inconvenienced but are supportive of the idea. For the most part, people seem to be delighted.

Recently, I was at a party talking to this guy who asked me if I'd ever smoked.

Now, I grew up with everyone around me smoking. ALL of my high school friends smoked. I have always liked how smoking looks, honestly. Women who smoke gracefully I think are super sexy. It just wasn't something I ever wanted to do.

So I said, "Yes, but only once. I was eight, and..."

"You were eight???"

"Well, we were visiting family friends in Tunisia, and their maid took Maude and me into the bathroom and lit us each a cigarette. I thought I was going to die. And that was my smoking experience."

"Wow. I was in high school."

"Oh, in high school all my friends smoked."

"Oh, and you?"

"I never did. It just didn't appeal."

Someone made a joke about all of us spontaneously doing Ecstasy. If you knew the group I was with, you'd understand how funny this idea was. And so he asked me if I'd ever tried that.


"Would you if it were legal?"


"Why not?"

"I guess maybe if I knew it were just going to last for 10 minutes or something. But something that goes on and on, and that I have no control over, no, I would hate it."

"So it's a control thing?"

"Yah, maybe. And that's what's so nice about chewing tobacco."


"Have you ever dipped?"

"Nooo...well, once, and I threw up. Also in high school. And you?"


"Like, when you were eight? In Tunisia?

"No. But every once in a while for fun..."

"You do not!"

"Well, okay, I haven't done it that many times. And pretty much only with my friend Maude. Who now lives in England. Plus mouth cancer is scary. So I might never again."

"So the dipping...What's good about it?"

"Well, it's this fun little buzz, apparently like the buzz you get from a cigarette if you aren't a regular smoker."


"And it's also kind of fun to get to spit, because it's just so disgusting. But anyway, the good part is you get this little buzz, but when you've had enough, you just spit it out, and that's that."

Because I have to talk with my hands, I of course had pantomimed all of this during our conversation. At the end I made a motion of pulling the tobacco out of my lip.

A guy across the room caught my eye and said, "You're totally talking about dipping, aren't you?"

Ablaze with femininity.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Little Adolf With Your Coffee?

According to this this CNN article, cafes in Croatia have been serving coffee with packets of sugar decorated with pictures of Adolf Hitler. And Holocaust jokes.

I picture a stereotypical Eastern European village scene, with old men in dark wool sitting around in cafes, shaking their sugar packets prior to dumping them into black coffee, and reading each other their Holocaust jokes. Perhaps in the same way one might, at the end of dinner at a Chinese restaurant, read out fortunes from cookies.

Genocide. For grins and giggles.

The Holocaust evokes many emotions, but humor? Not one of them.

When I lived in San Diego I had a German boyfriend, Axel, who I've written about before. San Diego has this big, lovely park called Balboa Park, which has an area with international houses. These houses are decorated in the style of whatever the country is, and have food and music and crafts from those places. They were set up as a way to promote cultural understanding.

Axel used to volunteer at the House of Germany. The acronym was HOG. Which they all, except Axel, said with a straight face. He had the best HOG stories.

If you were on the board of the HOG, and he was, you had to volunteer on weekends to staff the place - basically, to serve strudel and coffee and talk to visitors. Once a month, the whole house would meet to discuss HOG business. These people took the running of the HOG very, very seriously.

And they were remarkably contentious. Whatever the issue, factions would form, and people would line up their sides very industriously. There was lobbying on both sides before the meetings. And then the meetings would begin, rather formally.

People would state their positions. The meetings would proceed along in a civil manner for a brief period, and then tempers would flare. And people would start arguing. Things would get more and more heated.

And then someone would bring up the Holocaust as a point in their argument. They always brought up the Holocaust when there was disagreement. The meeting would devolve into chaos. And they'd have to adjourn. Every time.

For example, the suggestion of starting a German daycare arose. Some people were opposed. It came up for discussion and a vote. One woman talked about her uncle who had died in Auschwitz. Somehow, the Holocaust was germane to her argument on daycare.

Hysteria. Chaos. Meeting adjourned. No kidding.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Back in Black

You know how sometimes, not of your own volition, you hear the same song over and over (and over)?

I think what often happens to me is if I hear something enough, even if it's not my kind of music, at some point it just becomes so familiar that I catch myself singing it. I might even, just because of familiarity, start to think I like it.

I have President's Day off and spent Sunday evening at my parents' house. We had dinner and then watched Helen Mirren in this detective show we love on PBS. Sometimes I sleep here because it's nice to just hang out with them without time pressure and have the chance to read the paper or do the crossword over coffee with Betty in the morning.

When my brother was young, his bedroom was near both my parents' room and the kitchen. And he played his music shockingly loud. His music, which for a while was almost exclusively hard rock and heavy metal, was certainly not our parents' taste. But they're both pretty open minded.

Last summer, for example, I had a bunch of friends over for my birthday and I invited my parents as well so they could meet everyone. My iPod is my stereo, and my friend T had made me a birthday mix.

At some point the music stopped abruptly.

I looked over, and T and my dad were sitting on the couch, engaged in intense conversation. She was scrolling through my little white iPod. And then a Beastie Boys song came on. Turns out she was giving him a music lesson.

He later said, "I think your friend's music is kind of dreadful, but she seems like a lovely person."

So last night, when I walked into the kitchen, I encountered Betty at the stove singing her rendition of an old familiar tune.

"She was a fast machine."

Flipping over golden potato pancakes. "La la."

"Hmmm. Hmm hmm. She kept her motor clean. Ooh, la la."

Opens oven, peers in.

"She was the best damn woman that you've ever seen! La la la!"

Pulls out the broiled eggplant, starts putting it on a plate.

"Knocking me out! La la la! American thighs! La la."

AC/DC. I wonder if my brother knows.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

February Is Kicking My Ass and Taking My Pants

I'm sick of winter. I'm one of these people who, when they've been cold for a while, cannot even imagine what it's like to be warm. I have some vague recollection of mincing down the street in shorts and a tank top, but what that might feel like, I couldn't begin to tell you.

Last week it snowed, and people were so excited. It's so pretty! It's fluffy! It's winter! There should be snow!

And I just think, "Stinky! It's so inconvenient. It's cold. It's wet. It's in my way."

I'm not in a bad mood, actually. I'm just lower energy than usual. I told a guy I was on a first date with recently that I'm much more energetic in the summer, and he got a little alarmed. So it's not like I'm not doing anything. I'm just not doing as much as usual. And it really bugs me.

I come home after work, and instead of jumping into workout clothes and being excited to go for a run, I put on my warmest fleece and curl up on the couch - ostensibly for a couple minutes, just to gear up for going to the gym. And too many times, I wind up staying on the couch for the evening. And eating chocolate.

And so, it's no mystery to me why my ass has grown in the last month.

Last week, all my pants were suddenly tight. It was like a big pants uprising. They were fine, they were fine, they were fine. And then they were tight, without warning. There was no almost tight, little tighter, tight.

With the first tight pair, I thought I'd left them in the dryer too long. With the second, I briefly wondered the same thing.

With the third, I finally had to say, "It's not you, it's me."

And then put on a skirt.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Almost a Clinical Diagnosis

I have to say, it's kind of cool that we now have a new term for crazy.

For a while now, "batshit crazy" has been my term of choice for about as crazy as you can get.

I tend to use the term crazy rather cavalierly. I never gave any thought to different types of crazy, or actually trying to define what I meant by "crazy" until I was in a book club in San Diego with a group of psychologists.

I was working at Children's Hospital, and became friends with one of the women I worked with, who had a PhD in psychology. She started a book club, and all her friends, except me, were clinical and research psychologists.

I remember very clearly that we were discussing Mating, by Normal Rush, which is an excellent book - really interesting and so well written. At some point I said something about the main character being crazy.

One woman asked, "What do you mean, 'crazy'?"

"Well, I mean, well, I don't know, crazy."

I went on to give examples of the behavior she was engaged in that make me think, "Wow - spiraling into insanity!" But I didn't have the technical vocabulary to narrow down the type of crazy I meant.

These women, however, they all had the DSM IV at their mental fingertips. And so they would actually discuss character behavior and which particular category of mental illness one might fall under.

And so I learned that under the umbrella of crazy, there are many, many specific and technical definitions. I couldn't just freely throw around "crazy" without being questioned. It was both odd and interesting.

Now that I'm back in DC, however, all my friends are lawyers. I have been using "batshit crazy" with impunity. But now, now I've started using "900 miles in a diaper crazy." It's so descriptive. I like it.

I used this new favorite term, "900 miles in a diaper crazy" the other night, and this guy at the bar said, "God, you know, my ex-girlfriend told me today that even if she calls me 18 times a day, at least she's not as crazy as that astronaut."

"Wow. Was that, um, a relief?"

"Well, yes and no. She's not really someone you want to use as an example."

"No. You're never going to get someone to get back together with you by using Lisa Nowak as your point of comparison."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Love

I decided to look at Valentine's Day kind of like Thanksgiving. Which is another holiday that is not really my favorite. They both suffocate me a little with their expectations. With Valentine's Day comes this expectation of over-the-top romance and swirly hearts and flowers and chocolates and unicorns and being in love love love.

So I decided to make a list of things I love. My family and friends, well, I love them more than anything. But after them, listed without any effort at comprehensiveness, and in no particular order:
  • sunshine
  • M&Ms - peanut or plain, depends on the day
  • Guinness - and really, just good beer in general
  • dahlias
  • the whimsical creations of Niki de Saint Phalle
  • hot weather - even DC summer hot suits me fine
  • espresso
  • the feel of new running shoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • the feeling of finishing an art project and actually thinking it's beautiful
  • olive oil
  • the work of Odilon Redon - his colors give me that sharp rush of breath stomach feeling, like when you have a crush
  • pickled herring (thank my Viking ancestry)
  • gin - in particular, Sapphire martinis, up with lots of olives
  • Indian sweets
  • mangoes
  • new fun shoes, particularly high platform ones
  • couch-y coffee places, like Tryst
Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine's Day! Hugs to all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Maude, Your Best Guess Is Probably Right

My friend Maude, who I have known literally my entire life, is not the world's best correspondent. And she lives in England, so we don't see each other very often. When we talk, we'll talk for hours. But the time difference means that doesn't happen all the time either.

But since she's been reading my blog, she has been writing more. She'll comment on what she's read and give me an update on her life. I love it.

The other day she said, "Now I have to read your blog regularly to be able to remain conversant with my husband."


"Dan came home the other night and said, 'Why doesn't Lisa think she is enough?'"

Maude continued, "This, out of the blue. I had no idea what he was talking about. So naturally I responded, 'What do you mean?'"

"She said it. In her blog. She doesn't feel like she's enough. Why doesn't she feel like she's enough?"

"So I said, 'It's probably because her parents let her pick out her own glasses when she was a child.'"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Turquoise Boots, Blue Mascara

My friend Laura and I were walking down 17th Street Saturday night on our way to dinner before a birthday party. She was wearing these gorgeous turquoise suede boots she got in Buenos Aires.

I covet these boots. I don't tend to buy flat shoes, but if I did, I'd want these boots. She's this beautiful, tall, willowy blonde who doesn't need the extra inches of heel that I'm always wearing.

So we were walking along, immersed in a very profound conversation - talking about eyelashes and how we both used to wear blue mascara. When I was in high school I had the best mascara ever. It was by Mary Quant, and I got it in London. It was electric blue and had the perfect mascara consistency. I've looked for it since and never found it.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit how enthusiastically we were discussing makeup products, particularly since neither of us wear much. But anyway. There we were, walking at top speed to keep warm, intent on the blue mascara, and mostly oblivious to the world going by.

We were somewhere around National Geographic when Laura yelled, "Ow! My foot!"

We both looked down and a hubcap, which had just ricocheted off her heel, was spinning down the sidewalk.

"That hubcap just ran into my heel!"

It was moving fairly quickly, so it must've just flown off a car. But as I said, we were in the pretty, sparkly world of makeup and rainbows whenever it was that that car passed by.

Laura lifted her foot to inspect her boot.

"Are you OK?"

She said, "My foot is fine. Honestly, I was more worried about my boot."

"I hate to tell you, but I was wondering. They're such great boots."

"Wow, Lisa. You know, this reminds me. In law school, we would read these cases about people walking down the street, and a couch would randomly fall out of a window and land on them. And they'd be dead."


"Yeah. Like, here we are, walking down the street, talking about stupid things like blue mascara one minute, and then the next minute, killed by a big brown couch."

"We should definitely be doing more meaningful things with our time."

"I know. Let's get a glass of wine."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

That Ole Raspberry Tasmanian Devil Bob

While getting coffee in the kitchen at work the other day, I was telling a friend about running into the gay boyfriend. Bob, creator of the Tasmanian Devil vs. Badger contest, and his boss, who I am also friends with, overheard just enough of the conversation to wonder what in the Hell was going on.

As I have written before, I adore Bob. He has such a quick wit, and he always makes me laugh.

So Bob's boss, J, said, "Lisa always has the most bizarre stories."

They both read my blog intermittently. Since I wasn't going to run around the office retelling the story, I sent them the link.

Yesterday I stopped in Bob's cube to ask if he knew where J was.

Bob said, "J and I loved the gay boyfriend story!"

"Thank you!"

"So was his roommate the one who made you run around the office with the tape?"

"Oh, no! You're thinking of my friend Kristin! And that was the embassy in India."

"Wait, which one is your friend Kristin?"

"She's the one who lives in Paris and has the husband with the really stinky poo."

This look crossed his face, just briefly. I realized he hadn't read the terrible smell story. But no matter, because Bob is so, well, Bob.

"Oh, the stinky poo. Too bad for him. Because my poo always smells like raspberries."

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's Starting to Get Embarrassing

My boss came into my cube and said, "Are you going on your daily Trader Joe's run anytime soon?"

"My daily...I don't go on a daily..."

He cocked his head to the side.

"OK, fine. What can I get you?"

It's Less Confusing Than Stop, Drop, and Roll

Apparently people in NY don't have the ability to differentiate between the happy little world in their ears, and, um, the perilous world of cars and buses and real life around them.

I just read this NY Times article about proposed legislation in NY that would outlaw listening to an iPod while crossing the street. Because it turns out too many people are not paying attention and just stepping into traffic. So they propose a $100 fine.

I also saw the story on the BBC site, and here's my favorite quote from it. "The senator said forcing pedestrians to face court and pay the fine would make them realise the "potentially deadly dangers that lurk outside the 'deceptive serenity' of your iPod"."

Honestly. I have a 25-minute walk to work. I cross a lot of streets. And I love my iPod shuffle more than might be reasonable. I love the "deceptive serenity" it provides, accompanying me through the city during rush hour.

I walk through Dupont twice a day during the week. And despite the music, I pay attention. Because do you know how many angry, confused drivers are trying to figure out which lane to be in getting around that damn circle? And then if they've figured that out, how many of them are still not sure which light is for them? And do you know how many run those lights, I think out of pure frustration?

It's true, I have been accused of bopping down the sidewalk obliviously, but I do look out for cars. And taxis - my God, they'll take you out in a second.

Maybe I'm not the world's best street crosser, but I manage.

Left, right, left is just not that hard.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Gym, the Gay Boyfriend, Liza Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys

I ran into my gay boyfriend at my gym last weekend. My gym that has a reputation for being filled with hot, buff, gay men. For years I've been expecting to run into him in Dupont, each of us holding hands with our respective boyfriends.

I ran home and called a friend. "I ran into my gay boyfriend at the gym!"


"My gay boyfriend!"

"What gay boyfriend? You don't have a boyfriend."

"The one from when I was 25!"

"That one? Oh, my God! Did you ask him if he's gay?"

So when I was 25, I had a gay boyfriend. I mean, I didn't know he was gay. It turns out that he was struggling, and made a huge life decision after we broke up. He never told me. His roommate did, months later.

I was so in love with him. He was big and athletic and spoke five languages and could talk about everything from the politics of Burkina Faso to orchids. We went out for a year. I technically ended it, but really, it was because he just wasn't that into me. I was devastated.

Afterwards, after we knew he was gay, my friends asked if I didn't ever suspect. Was I really that clueless?

Yes, yes I was. I thought we just had really boring sex because he was raised very Catholic.

"What about his musical taste?"

"Hmm. Lots of opera and show tunes."

"Show tunes?!? Oh, Lisa, what a cliche! And that didn't tip you off?"

"But my dad listens to opera and show tunes!"

"It's a different generation. There wasn't any moment that you wondered?"

"Well, he did have a CD of Liza Minnelli collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys..."

"Oh, Lis."

I am simplifying, but basically in the end I left him and moved away because I felt like he just didn't love me enough. I needed him to adore me, and while I think he did love me, it wasn't like he couldn't live without me. As I said above, he wasn't that into me.

I was so insecure. I spent months thinking it was all about me. Why wasn't I lovable? There were a million things I was sure I was too much and not enough of.

Six months later I was going to be passing through town. I still had some stuff I'd left behind that he'd never mailed to me that I wanted to get. I called beforehand, and he was going to be away, but said I should feel free to come by, could even stay there as his roommate would be there.

So when I was there I called his roommate, who I really liked, and we arranged a time she'd be home. When I saw her, we were talking about him and she said, "Please, please don't ever get back together with him."

"Okay, but why?"

"Because after you left, he started bringing men home."

"Oh. Um. Huh. Are you sure they aren't just friends?"

"Please. Lisa. He told me you were the last girlfriend he was ever going to have. Do you want proof?"

"God, no! I believe you!"

But in the end, curiosity got the better of me. We had to go through his drawers anyway, because he hadn't set out the clothes and stuff I'd left there.

I have done lots of things that I knew were right and yet had regrets, but this is one case where I did something I knew was wrong, and yet I have never regretted it one bit.

I sat down and read his love letters. I read his personal musings. I looked through two rolls of "artsy" black and white photos. Clearly, clearly it wasn't that he was a repressed Catholic. He was having sooo much more fun as a gay man than we'd ever had.

Truthfully, I was relieved. All those months, I'd been picturing him with Salma Hayek kind of woman - the woman I'd love to look like. Tall, exquisitely beautiful, exotic, lush. So the fact that he had chosen some buff little guy instead of me was good. Great, even!

We talked a few times after that, but never, ever talked about anything personal. I hinted around, left gaping holes in conversation for him to tell me, and he never did. And then we stopped being in touch.

I saw him several years ago at a funeral. Which is not the place to have a "Just curious. Got anything to tell me? Like about being gay?"conversation.

We were chatting on Saturday, and it was slightly awkward. We don't know each other. We aren't going to get to know each other. And I realized that now, all these years later, it doesn't even matter.

We were reaching for conversation, and I finally said, "You know, we knew each other 8 lifetimes ago."

Which is true. I am a completely different person than I was then. And I imagine he is, too.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Chemistry

You know how once in a while, or, anyway, maybe three times in an, oh, ever, you meet someone who just really gets you, in both a physical and emotional way?

Like, when you're in proximity to the person you feel like you have cinnamon red-hots pasted onto every centimeter of your body? And they can make you catch your breath simply by looking you in the eyes? And even if you are not actually with this person anymore, and just meet up for a friendly dinner and casual conversation, it feels like the air around you is sparkly?

It really bugs me, because you can't create this chemistry, and you can't force it to dissipate. And it's really, really hard to ignore, even if you don't act on it. Actually, you have to make a concerted effort not to act on it.

The fact that there are, albeit very few and far between, people in the world who make stepping off the ledge sooo enticing, no matter how high the precipice, is what is making it very hard for me to be a looker-before-I-leaper. Even if I understand that that's a realer, healthier approach to life and relationships.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What's That TERRIBLE Smell?

My friend Kris, who lives in Paris, just wrote to me to say that she's going to be in DC this summer, and she'd like to catch up. She signed it,"PS. What's that TERRIBLE smell?"

I asked her if I could write about it, and she agreed.

She and her husband and two kids have a charming apartment in Paris. I covet their apartment. It's just gorgeous. But, as apartments there are, it's small, and the kitchen and the bathroom are petite. Nothing can be terribly private in that apartment.

A couple summers ago I was visiting them. Kris and I were drinking tea and catching up. Meanwhile, her daughter Carmen, unbeknownst to us, was very industriously spending her time wadding up toilet paper and cramming it down the bathroom sink.

So when Kris's husband, G, used the toilet and then went to wash his hands, the sink was stopped up. Being a very handy guy, he got out the wrench and whatever else one would use to take the plumbing apart.

He called for Carmen, and they started having a bit of a discussion about her toilet paper activities, which we overheard.

Kris and I walked out into the hallway to see what was going on.

And were blasted with a truly foul odor.

We saw that G had taken the pipes of the sink apart, and that he was filling a bucket with wads of toilet paper, pulled it in soggy pink bits and pieces out of the pipes.

And so I said, "Oh, is that what that TERRIBLE smell is?"

Her husband, G, nearly died of embarrassment then and there. His face turned bright red. He stammered.

Kris and I looked at each other, and realized at the same moment that in fact the TERRIBLE stench that was hovering in the air was from G's bathroom activities prior to the washing of the hands and stopping up of the sink.

That realization, coupled with G's mortification, made us roar with laughter. We laughed so hard we were clutching each other trying to stand up. Tears were streaming down our faces.

And back then, for some reason, it enraged Carm when Kris laughed hard. So Carm was screaming "Stop it!" as we tried in vain to stop, if only out of politeness.

G is dying of embarrassment. Carmen is shrieking hysterically. And Kris and I are honestly laughing so hard we can barely breathe. Which of course we are trying not to do because the hallway smells so bad.

If G could've climbed into the toiled and drowned himself then and there, I think he would have. He was that embarrassed.

Now, whenever I see them, at some point in the day Kris will say, "What's that TERRIBLE smell?"

Monday, February 05, 2007

Suspicious Behavior in Petworth

I had brunch Sunday morning with my fabulous friend Jen. We met up at Domku in Petworth, which I'd not been to before. It was lovely. Bright and charming and friendly and the food was delicious.

She recently got back from two years of living in China. We'd kept in very sporadic touch, so we essentially had two years of life to catch up on. She is, quite honestly, one of the funniest humans on the planet. And we both speak remarkably quickly, so we covered a lot of ground in a couple hours.

We'd gotten done eating and were lingering over coffee refills, wrapping up stories and figuring out our respective afternoons when Jen said, "Hello, Officer Delicious!"

"Excuse me?"

She pointed out the window. "Oh. My. God. Look! That policeman is one of the best looking men I have ever seen."

I whipped around and she was absolutely right. He was TV good looking.

She said, "Well, I think it's time we left, don't you?"

We both leapt up, twirled our scarves around our necks, pulled on our hats and coats and grabbed our purses with the kind of speed you might expect from people trying to escape an avalanche.

We sprinted, as nonchalantly as possible, out the front door, and onto the sidewalk. At which point we slowed to a stroll. He was talking to a guy. Jen said, only loud enough for me to hear, "Oh, Officer Delicious!"

We sauntered halfway down the block, pretended to examine a building, then turned around and walked back by.

Yes, we are that mature.

By this time he was alone. We were trying to think of a crisis or a question, but couldn't come up with one fast enough.

Jen asked if I wanted to see her new car.

She is going to be moving to Macedonia for work, and apparently the roads there are terrible. So she was told she needs an SUV. She said she'd bought a bright red one. There was an enormous red Hummer parked right behind my car.

And I thought, "Oh, my God. Jen has turned into one of those 10-mile-per-gallon Hummer-driving planet ruiners!"

Thankfully she hadn't. Her cute little I don't know what but something small and reasonable was parked on the same side of the street as Officer Delicious.

So we got in her car, ostensibly so she could show me her navigation system. We sat and chatted, and while we were doing so, he drove away.

"Sigh. Goodbye Officer Delicious!"

And then, 2 minutes later, he passed back by, lights flashing.

"Should we follow him?"


Because one should always follow policemen through Petworth to the scene of a crime.

We lost him, though. So she drove me back and dropped me off at my car. I told her that if he came back by she should tell him she'd seen something suspicious.

Jen replied, "Sure. I could say, 'Officer Delicious, I saw something suspicious. In fact, I think there might be something suspicious in my car. Could you get in and check it out?'"

"Sure. That's a great idea!"

"And then I'd say, 'What's that, Officer Delicious? My tongue in your ear? Oh, well yes, I do agree that is suspicious!'"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dancing With Crazies

I went to Zengo last night, which was great. I was looking at the menu, thinking, "Yum! All these delicious options! What to pick?"

Because almost nothing goes through my mind without showing up on my face or in my actions, while in my mind I was vacillating, apparently I did a little wiggle of "Hmm, I'm not sure what to choose."

My date said, "You like this music?"

"The music?"

"Are you dancing in your seat?"

"Excuse me?"

"You looked like you were dancing. Sitting in your seat."

"Oh. Well, I think I was just kind of, um, thinking about my choices?"

Dancing in my seat. What kind of dork am I?

So then I felt compelled to explain how everything shows on my face, and I talk with my hands (had he noticed? Um, yes.). I realized one day I was walking down the street, one hand holding my cell phone to my ear, the other arm gesticulating wildly.

So he said that for some reason (can't imagine why?) that reminded him of this time that he was walking downtown and he heard this man yelling, "Let me in! Let me in!"

He turned to see a man with his hand folded like a puppet, yelling at himself.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lite-Brite for Your Breasts!

So my friend J says he thinks I could spice up my social life with the Silicone Nerve Bra. Apparently, you can choose from eight different flashing light patterns!

Quoting from the site, "This is a difficult piece to describe. Part bra, part sculpture, part social disturbance."

Yah, I could see that being the case.

It's pretty compelling. I loved Lite-Brite as a kid. And I've never had, well, an obvious bra before. Plus it puts a whole new spin on flashing.

I dunno.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Yeah, Well, You Should See Me On the Balance Beam

Trader Joe's finally came to DC and opened not far from my office. And now I go there just about every day.

Today I got about a million yogurt honey peanut Balance bars and two bottles of wine.

The checkout guy said, "Wow. You must have some workout routine!"

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Skinning My Knee On a Wall

I skinned my knee on the wall of the gym last night. Seriously.

I'd never looked at the walls before. They're stucco (?) patterned with rough ridges. This makes them extra rough. I'm not even exactly sure what I was doing. I was squeezing behind one machine, I think, and I raised my knee and swiped it against the wall. Hard. Hard enough to abrade the skin all the way across.

So it doesn't really look like I skinned my knee falling down or anything. It looks like I have rug burn. Luckily it's winter, and nobody, except at the gym, is seeing me in shorts.

I couple summers ago I went rock climbing for the first time. I loved it, but I beat the shit out of my knees. I just kept bumping into the rocks. Or cramming a knee against the rock as I was trying to reach for a hold.

My knees were black and blue by early afternoon. I bruise easily and quickly, and these were astounding.

It was summer, and hot, and as such I put on shorts to walk over to my friend's house and return her harness. Usually I walk down the street oblivious, but I was just strolling along, not listening to music, and so paying more attention to the people around me.

I noticed this guy walking towards me giving me a funny look. Weird, but people are weird.

But it kept happening. The next one, I paid attention. He looked at me, looked down at my knees, looked back up at my face, raised his eyebrows, and smiled.

The third guy, same thing. Face, knees, face. Odd look on his face, and kind of a smirk.

This time, I figured out the look.

And it was something along the lines of, "Oh, wow! She likes it rough from behind on a hardwood floor!"

I wore pants till the bruises disappeared.