Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Southern cookin' makes you good lookin'

I went to Nola last night and oh my god. I had shrimp and grits and honestly, nearly licked the plate clean it was so delicious.

The downside is that I've eaten so much butter that my sweat can't really fit through my pores anymore. I can't wait to waddle home tomorrow.

We have our closing event at the aquarium this evening. The people that our meeting planners have been working with suggested (jokingly, it turns out) that if we wanted to have someone in the shark tank at the aquarium tonight we could.

Our planners looked at each other and said, "Hey! Let's get Lisa to do it."

Because some random weird thing? I have been voted most likely to say yes.

So they broached it with me and I said, "Absolutely!" Because when else would I have the chance to swim in a shark tank?

But when our planners got back to the convention people about putting one of our staff in the tank, they said that they were joking. Totally kidding. They will only put a professional diver with X number of hours in that specific tank in with those sharks. Duh.

I was half disappointed. And half relieved. Because once I sat down to think about it, I had to think about the fact that sharks have big teeth. You know, the bitey kind. That bite.

I know there will be shrimp and assorted Cajun seafood this evening. And I'm going to feel like kind of a dick wandering around among the fish.

"Your relative? Mmmm. Delish."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bless your heart! In which I drawl with the best of them.

Oh, y'all - I mean, you guys - I have been y'all-ing and drawling up and down here. I haven't hit the "Bless her heart!" stage, and I haven't been "I reckon-ing," but given another week, I certainly would.

I slide into accents really quickly. Even though I didn't love my time at Chapel Hill, I picked up a southern drawl, as well as a variety of southernisms, right quick.

I'd say "Ha-ay!" as a greeting. I still say "hey" but now it has one syllable. I started saying "Ma'am." I'd call older people Miss + first name. Like, Miss Dot. "Hay-ay Miss Dot! How are yew?"

And once I graduated, it took me forever to get rid of that accent. Honestly. For years after I'd stopped drawling in my normal conversations, it would come out as soon as I had a drink. And still, if I'm in DC but have had a drink and am talking to someone who has one, I will slip into it so quickly. Incidentally, I slide into Indian inflection really easily as well. This is a little harder to explain to your average person.

I still, if I'm not careful, say UMbrella. You know, instead of umBRELLa. Like I grew up saying. Same with FRAHday instead of Friday. And fahve instead of five. And probably a multitude of things I don't even realize. Every once in a while I say "might could." You know, to express more doubt than just "maybe" conveys.

I didn't realize the whole drawl takeover had happened until I was in the elevator yesterday with some meeting attendees. Soledad O'Brien - who I love love love - spoke yesterday morning. Two of the people noticed my logo shirt (because, um, everyone looks so great in logo polo shirts?).

We chatted a bit, and they asked what my role was at the meeting. They had very heavy southern accents. I told them that most of the time I'd been working with our speakers. They said they'd been so impressed with Soledad O'Brien. They were huge fans.

And I said, "Y'all, ah know! Ah just luuuv her!"

Seriously. It came out of nowhere. And I twitched a bit, realizing they might think I was making fun. And immediately realized, when they agreed with me, that I just sounded normal to them.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I didn't intend it in precisely that way, but once I'd said it, I realized I probably meant it

We had this big, fabulous event and Generations Hall Saturday evening.

I learned a new drink - Malibu and Diet Coke. I'm not a rum drinker, nor do I tend to drink soda. But this drink just tasted like vacation. Probably because it smells like Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion. So Tej gave me a taste of hers and it was delicious. And we had maybe more than a couple.

A group of us, including my boss, were sitting around towards the end of the reception. Tej and I were talking about meeting attendees, because we'd both worked registration for the meeting today. They assigned me, because they think I'm a great person to interact with the attendees, to work at the registration desk for today. Ugh. And when I tell anyone, ever, that I hate people, they don't believe me.

I mean, I don't hate everyone. Just people in general. And when I get stuck in a role that's not mine, and have to interact with a whole bunch of strangers all day long, I get tired and cranky and people loathe-y. Grr.

And one thing is, when you're doing something customer service oriented, some people - men in particular - will try to get you to do things they think are beneath them. Because why should they have to tear their perforated name badge and stick it in the badge holder? Or look up where they're going in the program? Or figure out when a particular session they want to attend takes place? Or tie their own shoes?

I mean, there are the people who might be lonely, or the guys who want to linger for a while, just to spend a little more time chatting. And so they put all their stuff together in front of you, and maybe make up a couple questions to ask you. And while it might be slightly annoying, you know it's well intentioned.

But some people are jerks. This one guy stood there and said, with mild annoyance that we have different badge holders every year. I joked that we're just testing their skills. To which he replied that his skills have never included badge assembly.

So Tej tore out his badge, stuffed it in the holder, and attached the lanyard. And handed it to him. And he was pleased. And I was irritated.

We were talking about it with my boss and several other people this evening. Who, thankfully, had had maybe more than a couple of whatever it was they were drinking as well.

I described Tej helping the man, and how some people are clearly bound and determined to get you to do whatever task they think they shouldn't have to deal with. (Which, if we were men, I am certain they'd not try to get us to do.)

I said there was no way I was going to put that badge together for him. And that I was surprised she did.

Tej said it was just easier. "I was like, oh, let me do it. It'll be a lot faster if I just go ahead and take care of it myself."

And I, (cringe) I said very loudly, "Yeah. You know his wife says that to him all the time."

Clap hand over mouth. Blush. Be glad that your boss thinks this is hilarious.

And then silently decide, yeah, probably.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Off to New Orleans!

So last night I went out for dinner with John Neighbor.

When I said I'd have dinner with him, he wrote to ask if I had any particular dislikes or allergies. And so I replied that I dislike Ethiopian food and steakhouses and am allergic to cats.

So he ruled out Ethiopian, steak, and cats. And came up with Tabaq, which is charming and has delicious food and strolling distance from our building. And, it turns out, a lovely wine list. We had some super delicious wine made by some famous Australian golfer. I mean, I'm sure he doesn't make the wine. He just made loads of cash and bought a vineyard. And, yum.

It turns out he's not all that much younger than me. And he's bright. I dunno. Anyway, I didn't say much of anything stupid, and kept my fingers out of the butter. All in all, shockingly well behaved.

And now I am snorting chocolate like it's going out of style in preparation for my flight to New Orleans this afternoon. I was going to not eat all the chocolate, because I will be eating nothing but butter and fried butter and buttered butter for the next five days. Seriously. Our meeting planner said she was having the hardest time finding options that weren't battered and buttered and fried. And that was just for breakfast.

So I thought, better not eat all these sweets before I go. And then I thought, but what if I jinx it? I'll be so pissed if I die on that plane not having had enough chocolate beforehand.

I never said I was rational.

I imagine I'll check in with you all - I always do. But if not, have a fantastic weekend! See ya sometime next week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aesthetics in a crisis. Oh, plus critters.

I was clearing out half-written blog posts last night when Death Cab for Cutie's What Sarah Said trickled like sly tears out of my iPod. At some point last year I actually listened to the lyrics; the song is set in the waiting room of an ICU. Before that I hadn't realized how sad it was.

So I was listening to the song and reading things I'd written but not posted several months ago, when my dad was first in the hospital, and thinking about where your brain goes when you are in total crisis. Or anyway, the things I thought about that night my dad got taken to the hospital.

Of course, that night I was completely present, terrified, devastated, silently begging and making promises to and bargains with God. But, I don't know, somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 am, when they'd taken my dad from the ER to the ICU and we couldn't be with him, and the lobby was deafeningly quiet, and all we could do was wait, I started to focus on our surroundings.

There were three of us - Betty, my friend K, who so kindly stayed the whole time, and me. We'd had a whole, amazing group of friends who came immediately when I called frantically on my drive from DC to VA. They stayed with us in the waiting room, helped me make phone calls, gave love and hugs and support.

But at midnight I begged them to go home and get some sleep. All there was to do was wait. And we'd need them the next day. They all, plus more, came back the next day. But in the middle of the night, there was no point.

So we sat. And waited. And I wondered aloud if the hospital went out of its way to choose the most hideous furniture possible. Purples and greens and ugly patterns. And did they make that picture of the man in the wheelchair look like Jesus deliberately? Was there some message meant by etching Jesus in a wheelchair into the middle of the huge stone plaque on the wall with what I assume are the names of benefactors? And how about some chairs without arms so you could stretch out?

These were the stupid things I chose to focus on in the lobby.

We went downstairs when they transferred my dad down to the trauma ICU, and got put in a private room with equally hideous furniture. And of course I had to say that it looked like a disco revolution threw up in muted colors all over the furniture. Practically offensive, if one weren't too tired to be offended.

To our delight, however, there was a couch and a reclining chair. We set Betty in the chair and put her feet up. K was on the couch. And I decided to lie down on the floor and use my purse as a pillow. I was just too exhausted to sit up anymore.

It was still cold in April, and I was wearing a fleece and corduroys, and so I was warm and really had no skin touching the gross carpet. But still. It was a waiting room floor. Not enticing. I was just desperate.

We were all starting to doze when I remembered a story a friend of mine had told me on my business trip earlier that week about catching things at hotels. And hotels, I was thinking, hotels must be nothing compared to what germfests hospitals are. People come in to hospitals with all manner of crazy things.

And so I had to wake them up to ask if they thought I could get crabs through my corduroys. I mean, if there were any living on the hospital floor.

The answer was no, they couldn't imagine that crabs could crawl through corduroy fabric. And anyway, what???

Scarves, new friends, coincidences, and yes I am a shiny white girl

Several months ago my friend Tejal suggested that I share a room with her dear friend Lira at the wedding. Lira was a bridesmaid (and scarf recipient who kindly modeled for me) and staying at the inn where the rest of the bridal party was staying. So not only would it be economical, it would be easy and fun.

Tej sent an email to both of us with an introduction and the suggestion. She said we had a lot in common and that we'd like each other. We both thought it was a great idea.

What I discovered when we actually met last weekend is that Lira is extremely bright, funny, and dynamic. People are so drawn to her; she's like this gorgeous whirlwind of amazing positive energy swirling around. You can totally picture her circumnavigating the globe both for work and adventure, making new friends, collecting and connecting people, laughing all the while.

Coincidentally, we were both reading "Eat, Pray, Love," (so many people had recommended it to me!) and had both brought the book along. I had a New Yorker for back-up reading; she had an Economist.

On Saturday she handed me a wrapped gift. She said she'd picked it up when we were all out and about on Friday. It was a book - "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" - and she thought, as a fellow traveler, it was just very me. So sweet.

Before all this though, months ago when Tej first connected us, we emailed a little to tell each other a bit about ourselves. At the time, Lira was living and working in Amsterdam. She is Indian, and I mentioned I was born in India and how Tejal and I had immediately bonded over the India connection. We had a little back and forth on logistics. And then we didn't email again.

I turned up Thursday evening and the inn had set out the keys in labeled envelopes for late arrivals. There was one labeled "Lira" with keys inside. I took them, went up to the room, and got ready for the mehndi ceremony. No sign of Lira before I went downstairs.

At some point in the evening I was talking to a couple of Tejal's bridesmaids and this beautiful Indian woman strolled up to us. She gave us a big smile, stuck out her hand and said, "Hi! Lira."

And I put out my hand and said, "Lisa."

"No. Lira. With an R."

"I know. I'm Lisa. I'm your roommate!"

She laughed and gave me a slightly puzzled look. And then said that people always mistake her name as Lisa.

Later we were laughing about our introduction.

And then she said, "You know, when you said you were my roommate, the first thing I thought was, but you said you were Indian! And then I thought, huh, well, maybe she's an albino."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Warthog Theory goes out the window. I'll be browsing in the unicorn aisle.

The thing about a fabulous wedding that you attend by yourself is they are such an excellent reminder that you're alone. Particularly weddings of happy couples - and really, those are the weddings you want to attend. Practically everyone at this wedding was coupled.

And the fact that they're all happy and together and happy together just underlines the fact that you are single. It's not that anyone is trying to make you feel like you're alone. You're just not half of a couple. And everyone else is.

I just got an email from an upstairs neighbor asking me out tonight - anywhere, his treat. A lovely invitation. We barely know each other. He certainly has no idea he's a whole lot younger than I am, which is flattering. But even beyond the age thing, from what I know about him, he's really not my type, although he does seem like a nice guy.

On a side bar, he'd asked for my number at some point when we were talking about condo stuff. And then one day he called out of the blue. I was standing on the front steps of our building, answered a call from a random 202 number, he said "Hi! This is John!"


"From the floor above you."

And I swear to you, I looked straight up into the sky. "Above me? But I'm outside!"

"In our building. John. Your neighbor."

So I saved him immediately in my phone as John Neighbor.

So John Neighbor emailed. With this nice invitation.

I was telling Bob this, and saying I can't go tonight because I have a date. And he said, "Wow! Two dates in a week! That should make you hopeful!"

And the truth is, it'll be three. I had one last night. But somehow, it puts me no closer to hopeful.

Last night's date was yet another Perfectly Nice Human Being. He was nice, he was bright, and we had relatively interesting, intelligent conversation. But whatever the IT is wasn't there. It was all very pleasant and very flat.

And what it brings me back to is, I don't want just some guy. I want someone I think is amazing. But there's been this disconnect between the ones I think are amazing and the ones who think I am.

My parents know these people who we refer to in private as the Warthogs, because they are graceless and grunty and curmudgeonly. They're friends of friends, and often fairly unpleasant to be around. But I was always delighted by the fact that they were together. It gave me hope that there really is someone for everyone in the universe, and if the Warthogs could find each other, well then, there must be hope for everyone. Including me.

Lately, though, I cannot even imagine who this guy might be. I think I might be giving up on Warthog Theory. I'm beginning to think The Guy for me is actually a unicorn. You know - fictional.

Monday, July 23, 2007

May the earth be honey-sweet for them

Thursday night at the mehndi ceremony, Tejal had her hands and feet elaborately adorned with henna. The artist writes the husband's name somewhere in the design, and on the wedding night he's supposed to find it. Since traditionally husbands and wives didn't know each other at all beforehand, this was a sort of wedding night icebreaker.

It took a couple hours for the artist to complete the decorations. She squeezes the henna through what looks like a pastry tube, and in fact, the consistency is like frosting.

In order for the henna to really set into your skin, you want to keep it moist. So throughout the evening Tej had a mix of lemon juice and sugar applied to her hands. What this meant was that she couldn't do anything for herself. She had to be fed. She had to walk around with her hands outstretched, and her feet bare. She slept with plastic bags on her hands. The price of beauty.

Indian brides are highly adorned, often to the point where they can barely move because their sari is so heavy with decoration and they're wearing so much gold. Two of her aunts dressed her, while Tej stood patiently being wrapped and tucked and pinned and bejeweled. She wasn't bedecked to the point of not being able to move, but her sari was exquisitely embroidered and she had gorgeous jewelry, including, of course, a plethora of bangles on each wrist.

Tej truly looked like a princess. I mean, she's exquisitely beautiful anyway, but once she had on the sari, the jewels, the makeup, the veil, she completely took my breath away. I can't imagine a more stunning bride, honestly. And her father just walked around beaming. He was clearly so happy, and so very proud.

The bridesmaids were all in maroon and gold skirts and tops. Two of the six were Indian and they helped the rest tuck and pin and adjust. They all pulled off the outfits with ease and looked beautiful.

Traditional Indian wedding ceremonies can last hours. During that time, people will get up, get food, chat, mingle, and then sit back down to watch the ceremony. A little like watching television. For this wedding, though, they kept the ceremony relatively brief.

The priest performed the ceremony in Sanskrit, with English explanations for different prayers and blessings. Tej said at points in the ceremony they were encouraging the priest to glide through various bits to speed things along. This made me laugh out loud. Can you imagine asking a Catholic priest to hurry through parts of the Mass so it's not too long?

Earlier that morning Tej had opened the box of things the priest was going to use in the ceremony. As soon as she took the lid off, I had a Proustian moment, albeit with smell. The contents of that box just smelled like India to me - fragrant with spice.

I'd been surrounded since Thursday with the colors of India, but until those smells washed over me, I'd forgotten what a sensory experience India is. It made me homesick, which I realize sounds silly, because India isn't home for me. But it was for eight years of my life, and I spent the weekend reveling in the familiarity of the clothing, music, food, scents of India. I felt rich and lucky, so lucky to be invited to share in it.

For the reception Tej put on another outfit, also sequined and embroidered and just incredibly elegant. She'd toned down a little of the bling, but still, I had this vague and secret hope that a waterfall would appear out of nowhere and she would break into song and everything would get all Bollywood.

She and her husband Raj were all sparkly happy and grinning from ear to ear when they made their entrance. They gazed at each other through the entire first dance, and I suspect they momentarily forgot there was anyone else in the room. Or even the universe, maybe. So happy, so in love.

Tej lent me a sari and one of her aunts wrapped me in it when they were finished dressing her. Basically, you have a cotton petticoat with a drawstring, and you pull the drawstring as tight as you can possibly bear it. Ouch. And then a little tighter. And then the sari is wrapped around, pleated in the front, and all tucked in to the waist of the petticoat and pinned to keep it in place. One end is then draped over your shoulder and pinned to your top.

It's simultaneously simple and elaborate. I'd forgotten how incredibly elegant it feels. She also lent me all the bling. And we all got bindis to match our outfits.

They had a gorgeous wedding. They were surrounded by friends and four generations of family in attendance. The weather was perfect - sunny, warm, and absolutely no humidity. The ceremony was on the water and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

They are clearly a really happy couple, so in love and so very loved. You can't really ask for more than that.

Congratulations, Tejal and Raj!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ahh, the beauty of the countryside. Twitch, twitch.

The wedding was incredibly lovely. We were outside Saint Michael's, on the eastern shore of MD, at an inn right on the water. It made for a stunning backdrop for the entire weekend of events. And truthfully, I don't think Western weddings can even compare in terms of beauty to Indian weddings. I really don't.

Nobody we encountered had ever been involved with an Indian wedding before. The staff was delightful. And fascinated. And Friday night we took over one of two bars in town. It was like nothing this town had seen before, I'm willing to bet.

Tej has some incredibly beautiful cousins who live in England who were all here for the wedding. At some point late in the evening they got drunk and started serenading one of the bartenders with "You've Lost That Loving Feeling." They were a huge hit.

If I ever get married, I want them at my wedding. Seriously. I am going to ask Tej if The Cousins would be willing to hire themselves out for weddings. Because they are just fantastic. Gorgeous - both the men and the women - and hilariously fun, and they dance. Everyone should have these cousins at their wedding.

Since activities started Thursday evening, I felt like I was on a mini-vacation. Those little breaks from DC can be so nice. But I'm also glad to be home. I feel like I've been away from civilization for weeks. Cell phone coverage was almost non-existent where we were. We stayed in a charming inn, and the rooms had no TV. I've not seen a newspaper since Thursday morning.

Little breaks like this make me realize that I'm such a city person. It was beautiful, and I can definitely soak up the bucolic beauty of the countryside. For a little while. Like, this long weekend was a perfect amount of time.

But today, I was ready to go. I'd had enough of the tranquility. Enough of the peaceful water. Enough of the being all remote and quietly tucked away from everything.

The truth is, I get all twitchy when it's all grass and trees and water around. I want commotion. I want buildings. I want concrete. I want a Starbucks on the corner and, whether I access it or not, public transportation down the block. I want to be able to walk everywhere.

And so now I'm home, in my itty bitty city abode. I've just thrown some laundry in my little stacked washer, and when it's done I'm going to go for a city run. In my new running shoes, purchased from the Adidas outlet at half the cost of the exact same shoes I bought at Fleet Feet several months ago. Yay! A sporty bargain!

I'm certain to encounter many of the usual suspects on 14th Street - you know, the ones who will tell you you've got a lot of junk in the trunk for a white girl, or say "Damn, girl, you move fast!" or some such thing.

And later I will contemplate driving to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods because I have no food at home, and then I will weigh the hassle of looking for a new parking space, and will probably opt instead to go to the less fabulous Safeway because I am lazy about food shopping. And even though I don't love those things about the city, it all evens out.

Because this evening I will walk on over to Tryst to catch up with a friend of mine, and as I am walking home I know I will be delighted that all the places I like are walkable and that I live somewhere that suits me so well. And I'll be happy to be in DC in the perfect summer weather we're currently enjoying.

All happy happy, everything is right with the world.

Unless, of course, I get a ticket for jaywalking or get mugged or run over by a Metrobus or something on the way home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Coen brothers are relevant to everything

This evening I am heading out to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the Indian wedding extravaganza. I'm really looking forward to it. Tonight is the mehndi ceremony. Beautiful! Fun!

One of my colleagues is driving, which is great. I was dreading the Bay bridge and all the traffic. Plus it's always more fun to not have to drive alone.

What I realized, though, is that I'm a little twitchy about not having my own car, not having control. Really, it's the idea of being stranded out on the Eastern Shore. And the thing is, I'm not stranded. If I really want to go somewhere, I can borrow a car.

This is the wedding of a really good friend of mine, whose family and (some) friends I know and like. A wedding I am really excited about.

In other words, this time is different.

I don't know if you are a Coen brothers fan, or if you've ever seen Barton Fink. We'd watched it right before the day I'm about to describe.

My only experience at a wedding out there took place years ago, when Maude and I were living together in DC after college. We were both part of a big group of friends, one of whom was getting married. Now, the groom was friend of Maude's but not mine, and so I wasn't invited to the wedding.

It was a mid-day Catholic wedding, either July or August, out on the Eastern Shore. Maude was going with our friend Stu, who I saw not that long ago in NY, and our friend Mac, a childhood friend of mine, asked me to go as his date. So the four of us would head out there together. Just for the day. Fun!

Except that Mac and Stu went off for vacation the week before the wedding. And that Saturday rolled around and nobody had heard from them. Neither Maude nor I had cars; we didn't even know how to drive. And so we wouldn't have gone to the wedding, but for their friend Julie. Who I found mildly annoying even under the best circumstances.

Now, that weekend Maude had college friends in town, two of whom were going to a Navy formal in Annapolis. So Maude wanted to get to this wedding, hang out as long as was polite, and then come back to DC and see her friends. This suited me fine. Julie said she was absolutely coming back that afternoon.

We were certain that Stu and Mac would join us out there. They would get back in the nick of time, we'd have a great day, then head back to DC. Ha.

So Julie drove her car, which had no AC. So we kept the windows open, sweating all the way. We changed when we arrived.

We went to the wedding. We went to the reception. Which was perfectly nice, if a little dull. And then we wanted to go. And Julie met a guy and decided whee! she was having so much fun! she wanted to spend the night! She was going to really start drinking! This was at two in the afternoon at the latest.

And so we spent the afternoon calling Maude's college friends, trying to direct them out to this remote location to collect us. And feeling more stranded and bitter by the moment.

Finally, finally they turned up. We got in the car. And they said we needed to head up to Baltimore to join the other friends, who were staying up there for the night.

So there we are. We've gotten up early in the morning and gotten all dressed up and driven way the hell somewhere to go to a wedding and then had a couple drinks early afternoon. We are tired in that post-daytime drink way. At least we'd been able to change back to casual. But not the kind of casual we wanted anyone else to see. Casual car ride in a car with no AC so the windows would be open casual. And I want to brush my teeth and wash my face and start over. Ha again.

And so we get to this big hotel in Baltimore where the Navy formal people are staying. We skulk through the lobby in our grubby shorts and T-shirts. We get dragged along to someone's room where people are sitting around drinking. They are all dressed up. And nobody really talks to us except a couple of the guys. In fact, the women visibly hate us.

And we want to say to the women, oh fuck off. At least you're clean. And in an outfit you want to be wearing. And you probably want to be here. And it's not our fucking fault that your date would rather talk to us, although god knows why, because, one, look at us, and two we probably smell.

Instead, we say nothing. We swill drinks.

We are tired. We are cranky. We are Not Having Any Fun. And we are definitely not, at this moment in time, in control of our own destiny.

Finally it is decided that we will stay in the room of one of Maude's friends, whose date is just a friend. They are ready to go to sleep. We follow them back to their room. Thank goodness. Finally.

It's very, very cold. Maude and I curl up on the floor together in a hotel bedspread. We're so tired and we both just want this day to end.

We can't brush our teeth or change. We have the day of summer sweat and dust and post-drinking tiredness sunk deep into our pores. We feel disgusting. But at this point we're thankful to have pillows and a cover and be in a dark room with no mean Navy girlfriends glowering at us.

We are silent for a moment. And then Maude turns to me and says, "We're Barton Fink."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


My parents are going up to Vermont to visit Maude's parents. I take this as a very good sign that my dad is feeling a lot better. Betty absolutely can't wait, as Maude's mom is one of her best friends. They didn't go last year as my dad wasn't doing very well.

This is their annual "go up and hang out with Maude's parents and pick as many blueberries as the car will hold" trip to Vermont. It's so cute - they have so much fun up there. And then Betty makes blueberry jam, blueberry buckle, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry whatever you can imagine.

They pick these ginormous organic blueberries that are so lush and beautiful and juicy and delicious. I hope that in August I'll have enough to eat till my teeth turn blue and plenty to freeze for smoothies.

I am confident I will be getting blueberries, as they always share, and they always bring me presents from trips. Although I have to say, when they went to Namibia and South Africa, I asked for blood diamonds and was chagrined that they ignored my request so thoroughly.

One year they came back from Vermont with these alarming umbrella hats. I'm sure you've seen them. They're rainbow colors and they kind of sit on your head like a stand.

According to Betty, they're just the best thing for picking blueberries. The air can circulate under it, so it keeps the sun off your face and your head stays cool! They were delighted with this great find. In fact, she said in all earnestness, I might like one. They both wore them every day in Vermont.

"Oh, sweetie, they're just so great! They keep the sun off, and they keep your head cool. You might want one just to wear around outside!"

This, from people used to attending embassy receptions in their finest. I, their progeny, would rather pull my fingernails out with a pliers than wear an umbrella hat anywhere.

I briefly tried to picture myself strolling about DC, keeping a straight face, pretending not to realize what a cretin I looked like in my umbrella hat. And realized I just don't have the wherewithal for it. I may wear a wig when it's not officially Wine And Wig night, or look like an ass in mismatched running clothes or take the trash out in high heels, but at some point you have to draw the line.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hiya cupcake! Pull up a chair and tell me about yourself!

So the post last week asking for book recommendations really got me thinking. . .Who are the people who read my blog? I got some fabulous recommendations, plus a tiny bit of insight into some of you. Which left me wondering.

There are several people who comment regularly, and I feel like I know you, even if mostly it's through reading your blogs and your comments. And every once in a while I get an email from someone out of the blue, just to say hello and that they like LG. These absolutely delight me.

So far I've gotten no hate mail, and while I've heard that you're not "made" till someone hates you or something you're written, that's fine with me. Being a small-time happy blogger with no hate mail suits me very well.

I won't make the joke of "to the four of you who read my blog" - because I know there are more than four. I check my stats, because of course I'm curious!

So if you'll indulge me, and I hope some of you will, I'd love it if you'd tell me something about yourself. What I'd most like to know is if you're a man or a woman, and how you wound up here, and if you read regularly, what appeals to you.

Seriously, I'm not looking for "Oh, because you're just the most fabulous thing since peanut butter!" I mean, how awesome would that be? But I'm not soliciting compliments. I just want to know. I know why I keep reading the blogs of otherwise complete strangers, and I have different reasons for each one.

Like, maybe you're rooting for me to stop falling for the Dementors of the world and driving perfectly reasonable men away and actually settle down with a nice guy. Or maybe, like in The Office (or the British version, anyway), the cringe factor is high in many of these little posts and you find that quite compelling. Or maybe you want tips on fabric dyeing. Or my grammar impresses you. Or, as has been suggested by a couple men in my life, maybe you just like that sidebar picture. I dunno. But I'd like to.

And, since obviously I'm asking a favor of you, if you don't feel like saying the above, but rather are in the mood for supplying other information like, say - your favorite color, what you ate for breakfast, a pet peeve, your current mood - anything at all - go ahead. Clearly, whether you eat Cap'n Crunch for breakfast and drive a silver Honda doesn't tell me a whole lot about you, but you know I'll take it and run wild with it in my imagination.

Seriously, please indulge me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Indian flavored scarves

Please bear with me - I can't figure out how to get the pictures to fit nicely with the text, and I can't seem to put a table in the HTML without messing greatly with the spacing. I dunno.

I finally finished all the scarves last weekend and gave them to Tej last week. She loved them, absolutely loved them. I'm so glad.

Her wedding is coming up next weekend and I can't wait. An Indian ceremony, Indian clothing, and - super yum! - Indian food.

The thing that tied the set together was this Indian design, which I screen printed in red at each end of all six scarves. And then from there I worked sort of in pairs.

I took two of the scarves and screen printed the same design - in the same red dye on one of them and in lighter pink dye on the other. Then, after steaming to set the dye, and hand washing them, I put them in two separate low immersion dye pots.

Low immersion dyeing is different from regular dyeing in that you use significantly less water. And you get uneven effects, which I love. If you want your fabric to come out more even, you need to use more water and stir the fabric around. I scrunched these up, poured the dye on, poured the soda ash solution on immediately to start setting the dye in the creases, and left them for the hour required for the dye to bond adequately with the fibers.

I pole-wrapped two other scarves. Pole-wrapping is one of many Japanese shibori techniques. I have PVC pipe that I use for the poles. You wrap the scarf around the pole but at the same time you are wrapping string around the fabric and scrunching it up. Hopefully this picture illustrates what I'm talking about. In the end your scarf is scrunched quite small on the pole.

For the third set, I clamped them with objects. One with CDs and the other with plastic squares. And binder clips on both. First I dyed them warm yellow. Then washed that out and scrunched them up and put them in a low-immersion fuchsia dye, just as I'd done with the first pair of scarves.

I love how the yellow comes through in places and blends with the fuchsia in others. And in the spots that were left white through the clamping, you have bits of white as well. Tej has two Indian bridesmaids, and I think she'll give the yellow-orange-fuchsia scarves to them.

Her wedding is next weekend. We're all going to be hanging out on the Eastern Shore for 3 days, so I am hoping there will be ample time to get each of them to model for me in their scarf!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Right and left and right

I spent most of Saturday afternoon at the pool with an old friend. He and my brother have been friends since they were 14, and I do remember him as that scrawny high school boy I'd see when I came home from college, so in my mind he's a kid. Sort of.

I mean, he's really not. He's six feet tall and handsome and has a very serious, suit-wearing job and if you didn't know him well you'd think he was all kinds of grown up. We dated several years ago, and there are many, many good things about him. I like him very much as a person.

The reason we broke up was mainly because he's a Republican. I have friends who won't date Republicans in the first place, but I have dated a variety of them. Mainly because I am attracted to such conservative looking, suit-wearing, spreadsheet-making men, and they often wind up being conservative in their politics as well. This doesn't bother me as long as it's about money.

What I mean is, there are those Republicans who have the same social values I do; they just don't want to pay for the programs. In my personal experience, these have been guys who come from poor or working class families, families that struggled, and they feel like if they could do so well without any advantage except a big brain and hard work, everyone else should be able to as well. And so they don't want their taxes to be "squandered" on social programs. I can understand this point of view, even if I don't agree with it.

This guy, however, bought the party line full on. And it used to make me really mad, especially with ole W in office, and so I'd provoke him. We used to argue, and I would tell him he's way too intelligent to believe such stupid things.

We're friends, though, and I do really like him as a person. We have this funny frankness that comes from having known each other both for so long and at some point quite intimately as well.

I was thinking yesterday how odd it was that we argued so much about politics. Because me, I am not remotely interested in a good debate. I never play Devil's advocate just because I think it would be fun. And actually, I am not generally that interested in politics. Which means I'm rarely well-informed about issues. I don't have much to say about them most of the time.

So how was it, I wondered to myself, that I wound up arguing so much with him, when I don't argue with others?

It was because, I finally concluded, I hang out with people who think the same things I do. We don't argue about politics because we agree.

I wondered briefly if this was a bad thing. But then I realized, actually, I like spending time with people who are right.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Note to self: drink alone

I know they say not to drink alone at home.

But I probably should. Because me drinking in public, like at the bar downstairs in my building, means that I talk to strangers. And, as one friend pointed out, say "the most outlandish things" to them.

Say, for example, you meet a random man in the bar of your office building. He happens to have a big, important job at another business in your same building.

Shortly after he introduces himself, which is just as you are trying to write "move car" on your hand with your blue pen that lights up, which is what he initially remarks on, you have to explain both the sparkly pen and the need to remind yourself to move your car so as not to get a street cleaning ticket and pay more money to the asshat DC government. He agrees. And loves the pen.

And then you ask how old he is. Or rather, you accuse him of being really young. Because, you say, he looks 24. He is not. He's 35, which is a perfectly reasonable age.

You later find out he's done all kinds of impressive things in the right (read: not W's) administration. But of course, when he says he's a political consultant, and gives advice to politicians, you might, oh, ask something like, "Like you tell them not to get blow jobs from interns? And hey, remember not to shoot your friend in the face while hunting?"

Your friend T says she has to go home and walk her dog. He has a dog. She asks what kind. "A pug."

Which then prompts you to ask, "Are you gay?"

He says he is not. So you ask if it's his girlfriend's pug. Because, you contend, no straight man owns a pug. The pugs you see being walked in your neighborhood are owned by gay men or straight partners of female pug-owners.

It's his ex-girlfriend's pug.

Somehow, after all this, just as you are walking out the door he asks you to join him and his colleagues (the ones he sent ahead, saying he'd be a minute or two) for dinner at DC Coast. He is attractive but not remotely your physical type, but he is bright and interesting and intellectually challenging, and since you have had three beers you think, what the hell, DC Coast is nice, and go ahead and accept.

And then, as you are on the way there, he suggests you ditch the colleagues go to Lima instead. And you think, Lima is somewhere I've wanted to try for a while! And accept that suggestion as well.

In retrospect you are thankful that you weren't so insanely ridiculous in front of three strangers. One is enough.

Even if all these things happen, and it is an ego stroke at exactly the right time on exactly the right day, a day that you were feeling like Dark Pit of Despair Personified. . .

You should probably not drink both of the mojitos that he orders for you over dinner, no matter how yummy they are.

Because later, you will not be able to see straight. Like, you will have to close one eye to walk up the stairs to your place.

And even if you are having a hilarious time, and you are feeling obnoxious, you should definitely not gently reach into the butter dish and smear a blob of butter on your new pal's nose.

Just for fun.

And then, as you walk back to the office together, if he takes your hand, you might be a little more graceful than exclaiming in suprise, "What are you doing?"

You will be surprised that he asks for your number, and in your drunken state you give it to him, although you know it is a number he will never, ever use.

And as you totter home, you might be better off not returning a variety of phone calls. Because this will mean you leave rambling drunken messages. "Hi! It's your sister! And ooh, a big bus is going buy. And another big bus. Sorry if you can't hear me. DC is full of big buses. Love you!"

And do not call your mother. Bad idea. She will not be as interested in hearing about the random dinner as she is alarmed at how drunk you are. And how you might get mugged. She will, out of concern, talk you all the way home, only hanging up once you are firmly ensconced in your place.

She will call the next day to suggest you drink less. She will read this at some point and say she can't believe you wrote that on the Internet.

And by the way, are you drinking less yet?

But if you have done all those things, when you wake up the next morning you will realize, with that terrible hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck prickly feeling, that one of these days you will run into this fellow with the big important job in the lobby, or worse, in the elevator with the other bigwigs that he works with upstairs.

Because once you get off the elevator, he's going to look at his colleagues, swirl a finger next to his ear and say, "She may be pretty, but she is out and out nuts. And don't let her near a plate of butter."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

If it weren't today and I were as impetuous as I used to be I'd take the orange plastic handled scissors from my desk drawer and chop it myself

If you are looking for depth, there is none in this post. Not one iota. I get my hair cut and re-blonded this evening. I cannot wait.

I've had a fairly classic bob for ages and ages. Sometimes it's longer, sometimes it's shorter, but it's mostly the same shape. With subtle blonde highlights.

This last time, though, I told my stylist I'm trying to grow it out. Because Lindsey, my ex-stylist, who moved to South Beach to be a high-heels-by-the-pool girl, cut it shorter and shorter over the prior year. To where, suddenly, I had a Very Short Bob. Too short.

But whatever he did to try to let me grow it out, the back is driving me batshit crazy. It's too blunt or something. It hits my neck (and I hate the hair on my neck feeling) and then sticks straight out. Or sideways. So it hangs nicely in the front and then the back chunk swirls out sideways.

So people are probably thinking, oh, poor girl, she takes the entire back of her hair and tries to make it into a Nike swoosh. She sure does look normal from the front.

Anyway. You know how sometimes you are fine with something until a point? And then, at that precise moment in time you feel you can bear it no longer?

That's what happened with my hair two weeks ago, when the back swoosh really kicked in. And it's just barely too short to pull it all back. But my stylist is a busy busy man. And so I knew I had to wait.

Because my days of messing with my own hair are done. They were many, they were varied, and sometime I'll tell you about the time my dad dyed my hair in the garage. But those eff up my own hair days, they are over.

And so I have been waiting and loathing my hair with ever fiber of my being.

But now! The wait is over! I have on the cute trendy dress! I will bring platform shoes so I can change out of my commuting sneakers before hitting the salon. I will apply makeup before I leave work this afternoon.

And, god willing, by seven this evening I'll have the sticky-outy back of my hair issue resolved! I'll have the nicely layered elegant bob again. I'll have new highlights! Yippee!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Books! I need books!

I am looking for some good book recommendations, and this seems a good place to solicit suggestions. If you've read anything you've really enjoyed, got an author whose prose rocks you to the core, have a book that made you laugh out loud, I'd love to know.

I have a work trip and my England vacation coming up, which means hours of airport time, plus airplane time. And for the UK trip, once I get to London, tube sitting time and two hours of train time to Norwich. In other words, I will be traveling FORever. Both ways. And I read fast. I will need a lot of books.

My birthday is coming up. And people will be asking me what I want. And what I want are books. I just need to make a list. For this, I need some help.

I believe good fiction is one of life's true pleasures, but I also like compelling memoirs. Like, I just read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which I highly recommend. Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family is one of my all time favorites. As is Alexandra Fuller's memoir of her African childhood, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.

Sometimes I also like to feel edified, but I get pretty bored reading history if it's dry. But I feel like I ought to read more history. If there are fictional characters I can connect with that are put in historical context, I can get really into it. And then I feel good because I feel like I've also learned something. Most of my biblical knowledge, I am ashamed to admit, came from reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

Among my favorite books, in no particular order:
100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing - Melissa Bank
Ada, or Ardor - Vladimir Nabokov
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

In school I took mostly French literature classes, so my knowledge of the English classics is shockingly feeble. Like, I've never read Pride and Prejudice! I know this is appalling. That should probably go on my list. So any suggestions on those would be much appreciated.

Any ideas?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Golly, it must be at least 98.6 in here! Or, Bob declines my advice.

My dear friend and colleague Bob, who I have gotten much, much closer to now that we sit very near each other in our new office, went on a date recently. I feel compelled to mention our closeness because sooo alarmingly much of our conversation is now, um, alarming.

I really and truly adore him. Sound travels in our office as if there were no walls. And so when I heard Bob giggling softly the other day, I asked why. And he said, "When you're utterly insane, how on earth do you put one moment that makes you laugh in context for decent explanation?"

I can so relate.

So Bob. And the date. She's a lawyer. She's a good bit older than him and very successful. She makes boatloads of cash.

He was telling us about this date over happy hour one evening.

And I said, "Bob! Maybe she could make you her sugar boy! Maybe you should knock her up?" We giggled. Because really, when is it the guy who sets out to impregnate someone?

Because we love to speculate on the inane, we then devised ways to start to working on this.

Like, when he calls her to ask her out, he would say, "So, what are you doing this Saturday?" And then, very casually towards the end of the conversation, he could perhaps add, "And, oh, by the way, when do you ovulate?"

He could begin carrying a thermometer with him at all times. You know, he might just pull it out of his pocket nonchalantly when he's thinking and tap it perfunctorily against his knee, as one might do to a pencil.

He could pretend, the first time anyway, that he was just curious about her body temperature. Look how smart and scientific he is! Maybe he'd read an article on the differences between men and women's temperatures or something. And hey, he just happens to have that thermometer he always carries around!

Another time, he could slyly whip it out and gently slide it into her armpit while watching a movie.

At some point maybe he could very sneakily slip it in her butt in a moment of passion, just pretending it was part of the fun. Or he could bring it into foreplay.

If she acted like it was weird he could say, "Oh, you've never done the old 'thermometer in the anus' thing before? Didn't you see that Sex and the City? Women in New York love it!"

The problem, as Bob sees it, is that whether she likes this last trick or not, it turns the whole thing into a "lose-lose" situation.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Supervolcanos and where to get your hair advice

I booked my shockingly spendy ticket to England this week. I was trying to use miles, but couldn't get there and back in a week before October. And I only have a week. And I can't wait till October.

The truth is, now that my dad is doing well, I need the vacation. I need to see Maude, my oldest friend in the entire world. I need to hug and kiss on her new little baby.

When Maude and I were both in school and had no money she bought CDs anyway. She said one could always justify the purchase of music. Because you need it for your soul. It's like that.

So I was searching searching for a decent fare. And not finding one.

And so then I thought, ah, screw it. If that Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, which it's supposed to sometime soon, we're all going to be wiped out. I'm not kidding. I saw it on TV and it was one of the most alarming things ever. Seriously. When it erupts, it'll spew enough ash to cover the sun entirely. And there will be acid rain everywhere. It will have a cataclysmic effect on life on the entire planet.

And here's the thing. It erupts something like every three gazillion years. And at this point, we're at three gazillion and 34 or something. In other words, eruption pending.

And so I said to myself, just buy the damn expensive ticket and visit Maude while you can!

Maude is really excited. It's been ages since we've seen each other. She just emailed and said that she has some free moments while her husband and his mother are out with the baby. And so she's decided to highlight her own hair.

I quote her verbatim here: "I have an awkward bob at the moment 'cause my last hairdresser was the opposite of Amber who gave excellent short haircuts but really challenged my self esteem when I started trying to grow it out (contrary to your blog on hairdressers I actually piled the makeup on and spent ages picking out an outfit when I went to her towards the end in a vain attempt to get a non soccer mom do)."

Apparently, all the hairdressers in Norwich give you the same trendy cut and blondify you no matter what you actually want. So she's taking matters into her own hands. As she has encouraged me to do many times.

And then she asked, did I remember the attempts to fix my orange hair after that terrible Halloween hair mishap?

I had come back to the US from my stint in the Peace Corps and happened to be in DC over Halloween - Maude's favorite holiday. She was of course having a party. And somehow I got in my mind that I wanted to be Cleopatra. Rather than doing the sensible thing and buying a wig, I started contemplating hair dye.

Maude had decided to be Pippi Longstocking, and so we went off to Victoria's Secret, which was just down the street, to find over the knee socks.

We wound up discussing temporary hair dye with the Victoria's Secret saleswoman. She told us that one of her sisters, who was blonde, had used a particular brand of black hair dye. And even though it says very clearly on the packaging (because we had inspected all the brands in CVS) not to use it on blonde hair, she assured us it washed out.

And so we traipsed off and bought temporary black hair dye. And stuck it in my long blonde hair. Because this random lingerie-selling chick said it washed out.

It never turned my hair black. Rather, it turned it a deep ruby red. Which, upon washing, faded to, oh, apricot. I washed and washed and washed. Someone said to buy Prell, because that strips your hair. I found some and did. I used dish detergent. I used everything but Brillo pads. And couldn't get lighter than pale apricot. Which brought out all my freckles. I hated it.

And then, because I was only in the US for a brief break, I headed back to South America. To the gay boyfriend, who pretended not to be horrified. And straight to a salon to see if someone could fix this tragedy and put me back to blonde.

In a country where just about everyone has black hair they didn't actually know how to get me back to a natural blonde. And so I wound up with hair that was apricot with almost white streaks. My hair looked like a Creamsicle.

I cried and cried. But I couldn't be mad at anyone but myself.

And so I learned a lesson that most people probably do not need to be taught. Never take hair color advice from a woman who works at Victoria's Secret.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Gee, it's really dark all of a sudden!

Bob and I were out walking around downtown at lunch.

He asked if I was aware of all the men checking me out.

"Really? Men? Are checking me out? Me?"


"Are they gross men or the kind of men I might be interested in?"

"I'll have to pay more attention. It'll be awkward, but I'll do it for you."

"But really? Men are checking me out?"

"I figured you were pretty much oblivious. But see, they're looking at you, so they don't notice that I'm observing them. It's quite interesting."

"Eric and Kay are certain I'm going to get kidnapped because I walk down the sidewalk so completely oblivious."

"But you'd recognize if you were stuck in the back of a dark van, right?"

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Our very own Wine & Wig night

For a goodbye happy hour for the Director, we all went to Cafe L'Enfant. I sent out an email saying that on the last Wednesday of the month they have Wine & Wig night. Half-priced bottles of wine if you wear a wig. Or something wiggish.

Come out for fun! Bring your wig, and if you don't have a wig, then a hairpiece, a unibrow, a merkin! I thought my suggestion of a merkin would generate shock, but it didn't faze anyone, although it did generate some random conversation - on the origin, what one might use one for now, what they might be made out of - that evening.

We arrived to find that nobody else was wearing wigs. Because it turns out that they don't update their website. They don't do it in the summer. Too hot for wigs.

We wore our wigs anyway. We had them - why not? Some people had even brought extra wigs. You know, for those friends who showed up without one.

I had to give both Amanda and Sam props. They happily donned a variety of wigs, and not only let me take pictures but let me post them. How adorable does she look in the crazy orange plastic? It's not an easy look to pull off and look attractive. Fetching, even.

And in this wig Sam looks like one of our Founding Fathers. I mean, if our Founding Fathers had been both hot and Indian, of course.

Eventually a few other tables of wig-wearers showed up. It was like a random wig party, just for fun.

We took pictures, we swapped wigs, we took more pictures.

The Director had a friend who really, really wanted Ravi's autograph from having seen him in The QWERTY Kid. She was nervous to ask him. It was so cute. Here she is adoring him, even though he's wearing an orange plastic wig. And half a paste-on moustache. He's much, much more attractive in the movie. Or really anywhere out of this wig. But his hilarious, goofy sense of humor sparkles through.

The assortment of wigs really impressed me. Who knew I had so many friends with wigs? And extra to share?

I happen to have this blonde Farrah Fawcett wig from being a Charlie's Angel for Halloween. Which I wore until my friend J offered me an afro wig, which was ever so much more enticing. I think I might get one to wear out for fun sometimes.

The Director used to work on movies, which I think might be why he owns that heavy metalish black wig he's in above. Quite frankly, his wig was sort of a problem for me that evening, I must admit. Because I just couldn't get past the ugly wig and glasses to want to kiss him. I knew he was cute underneath. I knew I was actually attracted to him. But every time I looked at him I had a visceral reaction to the ratty long black hair. With bangs. I think he got a little insulted, actually.

But back to the plethora of wigs. Our charming friend Monique, she just happens to have an extensive wig collection. How many people do you know who can pull out a stunning pink bob on a moment's notice? And look that beautiful in it?

To sum up, we all drank too much Belgian beer, toasted the Director and his new life in NY, took pictures in our own wigs, swapped wigs and took more pictures, gave paste-on moustaches to strangers, and generally had a great time.

I'd do a spontaneous wig night anywhere in a second. So fun!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th!

Once, when I was probably five or six, we were flying from Bangladesh back to the US for the summer. We'd stopped in London on the way.

I don't imagine many, if any, of you have ever flown from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Minot, North Dakota. It was a long ass trip. With many connections.

We were supposed to be in Minot with my favorite grandmother for Independence Day. Which, being kids who kept being told we were American but never having lived in America, felt like a Big Deal. This was our holiday. The one that proved that we were American. In retrospect, I cannot even recall what that meant to us.

In any case, we somehow missed the flight. Our previous flight got way delayed, or we missed a connection or two - something happened to cause us to miss our plane on July 3rd. And so we wound up flying on the 4th rather than being in the US celebrating.

We were flying British Airways. I wanted to be picnicking with my gramma Lillian. I wanted to watch fireworks. And instead, I was stuck in a dumb old plane. And not even an American one at that.

I had a little meltdown. Sobbing. "I bet these British people don't even know it's the 4th of July!"


Anyway, I wish you all a happy, healthy 4th. And a special one to Justin and the rest of our troops. Stay safe.

And for any of you who play with fireworks, just remember - it's all fun and games till somebody loses an eye.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I think they're going to be pretty

Before my mini existential crisis hit last night - and thank all of you for your thoughtful hugs and comments and emails - here's what I was up to.

My friend Tejal is getting married. She asked me if I would make scarves for her to give as a present for each of her bridesmaids. She said I could do whatever I wanted.

First I pinned each scarf to a foam board. It's foam core, covered in felt, then covered in plastic. Then with a backing cloth pinned to it to absorb extra dye. In case you're wondering about the ugly stripey sheets behind the scarves.

As Tej is Indian, I looked through Betty's extensive design book collection and chose this beautiful, simple but intricate Indian design. I burned the screen while I was still taking that screen printing class. The cool thing about screen printing is you can use the same image over and over.

So. I screen printed this design each of the scarves. Here's the little screen (up against the orange wall of my kitchen.)

This particular dye needs to be heat set in order to be color-fast. So I steamed them to set the dye. This involves rolling them up in newspaper and setting them in a steaming kettle (I use a double boiler with a plate on top of the steamer part) for half an hour. And then washed them out by hand.

One interesting thing I've learned about silk, even very nice silk, is that you can wash it in really hot water. They get the gum from the silk worms out of the silk fiber by washing it at some astoundingly hot temperature.

But anyway. It's a very time-intensive process. Which is why I need some cheap child labor.

Next I am going to over-dye each of them in a different way. I'll take pictures and post results when I'm done.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The undertow

I'm having a nobody loves me and I'm going to die alone kind of evening.

Here's the thing. I know it's not rational. I have a family that loves me. I'm going to see the Director tomorrow - he's coming down and staying till Thursday. And he likes me, I know he does. I have friends that love me. I could call up any number of people right now.

But what would I say? "I feel all alone - tell me you love me? Reassure me?" I have no idea what I'd say.

I realize that this nobody loves me nobody is ever going to love me I'm going to die alone makes no sense if you pick it apart. People love me. And in the end, everyone dies alone.

I go along, splashing in the waves of my life. Sometimes dog-paddling and flailing, sometimes swimming at a good clip. Sometimes body surfing, sometimes just floating, enjoying the rocking motion and the sun and sky above me. Sometimes treading water for what feels like forever. Sometimes doing somersaults. But most of the time, though the sand is constantly shifting below my feet, I can touch reasonably solid ground.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the undertow just sucks me straight out. It's cold, it's dark, there's no ground beneath me for miles, and I'm alone.

Happy Birthday, Maudie!

Today is my dear friend Maude's birthday. Happy happy birthday, Maudie!

She lives in a charming town in England, so way too far away for me to give her a big hug. But I'll be able to give her a belated birthday hug when I visit in August. Which I cannot wait to do.

We were born six weeks apart, in separate cities in India, to mothers who are very close friends. And so I have always said that we were born together. And Maude has always followed up on the raised eyebrows with, "Separate mothers."

Now, you can't exactly tell how pretty Maude she is here, because all the recent pictures I have of her she looks flat out exhausted. And the reason Maude looks so tired is that she had that cute little baby she is holding about six weeks ago.

There are, in their photos, a lot of pictures of them napping. I figure she and her husband will both be tired for at least the next year, if not the next 18.

But she also looks happy! I know they are both so incredibly happy.

I've looked through a ton of baby photos, all with really fun captions. Their son looks like Maude's husband in most of them.

Except these two. I chose these because they are pure Maude to me. That serious thinking but about to giggle look on his face, that glint in his eye.

And the ridiculousness of his grandmother's sunglasses is also very Maude. This is an aside, but a window into her personality. Maude owns both an extensive wig collection and a variety of sequined tube tops. That she occasionally wears together. Oh, with the rhinestone Jesus pin.

So I wish you a very happy birthday, Maudie! I can't wait to see you and to love on your new baby! And then to whisk you off to the neighborhood pub for congratulatory pints!

Big hug and lots of love,


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Because I am helpful like that

Saturday was the Director's last day in DC. He'll be back for 4th of July. But it was his last day actually living here.

He asked if I'd take him to get the moving truck in the morning, and I offered to help him move his stuff after that as well. He had guys coming in the afternoon for the furniture and heavy things, but we could do all the smaller stuff.

So after picking up the truck we get to his house and I discover that there is a ton of stuff left to do. A ton. Like, there is shit everywhere. I accuse him of not having packed anything beforehand. He points out his living room full of packed boxes. That I can't argue with.

But still. It's a disastrous scene. And I am just plain annoyed. So, after grumbling a little - OK, a lot - I decide to be constructive. He needs to get out of here. What can I do?

He asks if I'll pack his closet. I begin by putting suits and nice shirts in hanging bags, other clothes in bags, winter clothing in those big plastic containers for clothes. I haven't known him for very long, and it's been warm for much of the time. So I've only seen a fraction of his wardrobe.

Left alone in his closet, I have the opportunity to inspect much of it.

I come across a big, ugly, red fleecy sweatshirty thing. Actually, I should just stop and mention that he is a big guy. He's 6'1" with a solid frame and seems like he's twice as big as I am. So of course all his clothes are huge. And you could fit a third grader in one of his shoes.

So here I am, pulling out shirts out to pack, and it's practically like folding sheets. I am thinking how much room every single piece of his clothing takes up. And he's moving to a tiny NY place. So it behooves him to get rid of as much as possible now.

In other words, I'm doing him a favor by suggesting items to get rid of.

I take the sweatshirt out to where he is packing in the kitchen and say, "So should I just throw out this horrible red thing?"

"Big red? I love Big Red! That's my favorite sweatshirt to sit around and watch TV in when it's cold out. That goes with me."

Gross. Fine.

A few minutes later. "What about this Mets shirt? Did somebody give this to you? You don't actually wear this, do you?"

"I do when I go to games."


And then I get to the shoes. There are sturdy work boots, cool winter boots, nice loafers, sneakers, and. . .a pair of wool felt Birkenstock clog kind of things.

Clogs? He wears clogs? They're grey and hairy and the kind of shoes that make me slightly nauseous.

So though I am loathe to touch them, because they remind me of enormous gobs of dryer lint, these get paraded to the kitchen as well. "I'll just chuck these disgusting old things out, 'kay?"

"No! Not okay! I love those shoes! They're awesome at home in the winter!"

"Oh, god. You skulk around in these clogs and that grubby red fleece all winter, don't you?"

"Lis. They're really comfortable. And warm. I don't wear them out of the house."

"I would hope not. You're lucky I met you in the summer."

"You hate me right now, don't you?"

"No. Only a little."

I decide to improve my mood and his unpacking process by labeling his boxes. According to my labeling, various boxes contain: kitchen implements and elf porn; bath towels, hamster and wheel; bowls, glasses, and Barbie collection; cooking spices and nipple clamps.

He has lined up some old NY friends to help him unload the truck and move in. They might wonder if they ever really knew him in the first place.