Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And 2009 draws nigh

The other day Nick asked if we were making resolutions.

"We? You can."

And I really wasn't going to. And then I thought, you know, you can always be a better person. You can resolve to be more patient, kinder, gentler. So I think those are my resolutions.

I sat down and thought about it, and I have got to say that this is the first year in a long, long time that I am ending on a truly grateful note.

I don't know that I was necessarily bitter before (although in some moments I was) but I can't say that I was grateful to the universe. The couple years prior to this one involved some pretty immense struggles, some really dark, pit of despair times.

And when things sucked, and I thought they couldn't get any suckier, I learned that sometimes, things actually can. I cried a lot. A lot lot lot.

So I didn't necessarily end the year all, yay!

By the end of last year, I'd fallen for Nick, but my intense Internet dating dating and more dating experiences leading up to him had taught me to be cautious, to expect the worst, to deflect, to dodge. And so this time last year, while I adored him, I was still being pretty careful.

Me? I was not getting hurt again.

And then somewhere in January the feeling settled that actually, he was right and honest and true, and that we were in fact going to be together always and forever, barring a weird blimp accident. Or a sudden and unexpected marriage proposal by Jon Stewart.

I'm kidding of course. Blimp accidents are so rare.

So in February he asked me to marry him, and I said yes, an in September I had the funnest, best day of my life. Not to make my life all about Nick, but this year certainly has been, and he has made it a really good one.

We have our ups and downs, and I know I can be immensely trying and make him want to scream, which he doesn't, and sometimes he frustrates me so much that I seriously want to pull his hair, hard, but I don't. But for the most part, things are easy and good - easier and better and more fun than I'd ever imagined life and love would be for me.

I hope things in your lives are good, and that for you this is one of those grateful years. And if it isn't - because sometimes, that just isn't how things go - I truly and honestly hope that 2009 is a great one.

Hugs to all and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Empress Zoe: 11th Century Photoshop. For your edification. Plus you might like the photos.

This is a mosaic in the Hagia Sofia. It depicts the Empress Zoe, her husband Constantine IX, and Christ in the center.
The Hagia Sofia was something I'd wanted to see since art history class in 11th grade.
And it really is as amazing as you expect. It's got layers and layers of history (and art), having started out as a church, then becoming a mosque, and is now a museum.
If you click on the photos you can get better detail. Particularly of the tiles below, which I found amazing.


Zoe ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1028-1050. During this time it was the Eastern Roman Empire, with Constantinople (now Istanbul) as it's capital. And back then it was Christian.

I know very little about history, and my retention of dates and facts is abysmal. The things I remember are always either breathtakingly beautiful, or weird little facts that can't help but stick.

So Empress Zoe, she grabbed me for the following reason.

The husband in this mosaic is her third husband. And he's only in this mosaic because he outlived her.

This mosaic apparently was created while she was with her first husband, Romanos III. Who she may or may not have murdered. Turns out he limited her spending and paid her very little attention. Which could be of interest to any married men who might be reading.

But in any case, when he died - and she married husband number two, Michael IV, the very same day - she had him erased from the mural.

Tile by lovely stone tile, ole dead Romanos was chipped out. And Michael was inserted at the right hand of Jesus.

Until he, too, passed away. At which point you know the tile people were all, "Oh, fuck, there goes another one." And he was deleted, and Constantine's likeness was inserted. I didn't ask if they just changed the face and kept the body.

Which would be a lot easier for the tile people.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Speaking of being non-religious

You all, we got the wedding pictures from the photographer!

I've been going through them and reliving all of those little moments all over again and getting all happy and giggly and teared up. I intend to include pictures in a few upcoming posts. And this one, for that matter.

Hopefully the idea of more wedding pictures does not make you want to spoon your eyes out.

So while we were getting ready, Tori pulled out a book and handed it to me with great solemnity. I assumed it was a Bible. Surprising, but, um, thanks.

And then - wow, thanks!In fact, hallelujah!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Non-religiosity. With mashed potatoes.

I really believe that if you want Jesus in your kids' lives, you have to get him in there early.

Because otherwise you grow up thinking that Jesus is really just this handsome man in a white robe, and not necessarily someone special. This sounds terrible, I know, and to the religious among you. But I totally believe it.

And I absolutely love Christmas. And I was thinking yesterday morning, as we were lounging around in my parents' living room, how glad I was we didn't have to get dressed and go to church.

I immediately felt guilty (my dad is Catholic, after all). I mean, it's Christmas. Christ is even in the name, you know? But if we did have to make it about religion, I wouldn't enjoy the holiday half as much.

For me it's about time with family and dear friends, and the tree, and familiar old decorations, and twinkly lights, and food.

Maybe if we'd grown up going to church and having that as part of the ritual, I'd associate church and religion with the day. As it was, the couple of years that they dragged us to Mass just didn't do it. Maybe if it were motivated by religious fervor on their parts, rather than by the fear that if we continued to know nothing about religion, we'd go seeking it in later years and join the Moonies, maybe then it would have felt more important.

As it is and has always been, I'm much more likely to run off and join the circus than the Moonies.

So last night my parents hosted us for dinner. Nick's parents were there, as was my friend Matt, who is Jewish but really an Atheist, and anyway, grew up with a Christmas tree because his family enjoyed Christmas stuff. His family is off on what has become an annual Christmas trip to Lebanon (it's nice this time of year - I'm not kidding), so he was going to be alone for his non-holiday.

Alone for Christmas! Whether you celebrate it or not! No turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, desserts desserts and more desserts?!? I immediately invited him to join us.

So there we were, a table full of not-remotely-about-Christ Christmas celebrators. We asked Matt a couple questions about Judaism, and he responded, but added, "You must realize that if I'm your authority on the religion, you're really in trouble."

I didn't have time to tell him that I'd just learned the night before that Jesus actually had a brother - James. Unless you're Catholic. Then he didn't.

And you know, I wonder, and maybe the Bible even covers it - did Mary supposedly never have sex, ever, even though she was married to Joseph? Or was she just not fertile? And in those days, wouldn't Joseph have ditched her? Or maybe he did, and the Bible talks about that as well?

So Matt and I were seated next to each other, and conversation our turned to a guy I don't know, but feel like I do, as he used to be married to a close friend of mine. They got divorced before I met her, but I've heard so much about him.

Matt said, "You know, I just got a Christmas card from him."

"I didn't know you were at the Christmas card level."

"We're friends, even though I don't see him that often. We went to college together. Last Christmas he and several other Jews and I went to the movies and out for Chinese food together."

That's right! He's Jewish! And so is Matt (technically, and sort of)!

"Wait! 'Merry Christmas, from one Jew to another!'?"

He laughed. "That's exactly what it is."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happiness and love and treats!

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I wish you quality time with people you love, and warmth, and delicious treats.

We're spending this evening with dear family friends, and then sleeping at my parents' house. Even though we live about 20 minutes away. Because Betty really wanted us to stay over, so we can wake up to full stockings and North Dakota sticky buns.

If I remember tomorrow, I'm going to take pictures and post, because they are like crack. With caramel sauce on top.

I'm not big on telling people what to do (except Nick, and that only works to varying degree), but if I could make one suggestion, it would be this. Make sure to tell the people you love that you love them, and hug them a little extra. Everyone wants to be loved, and you can never hear it or feel it too much.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your emails, thank you for caring about me. I hope for all good things in the world for you.

Big, big hugs to all of you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And then, after we opened the Santa presents, they'd bring out the elephants

I've been pulling out the childhood photos. Please bear with me.

Because sometimes, in winter, I'm out on the street and I catch a whiff of something that smells like airplane fuel, and it makes me hugely nostalgic. Because we always lived in places where you walked across the runway to get to the plane.

Like I ever intimated I was normal.

The picture above was taken on a houseboat in Kashmir on my Gramma Lillian's first trip to visit us in India. From Minot, North Dakota. In fact, it was her first trip out of the continental US. Minot does, in case you're wondering, have an international airport; they have a daily flight to Canada.
This photo jumps forward several years, clearly. I love that we are decked out in our Christmas finest - and so are the Christmas elephants. (And please, please check out my mom's hair and my dad's pants.)

This photo has nothing to do with Christmas, but it makes me giggle. I'm not sure why I'm propped on suitcases. And I look like I'm smoking a cigarette. Although, casual as my parents may have been about us wearing seat belts and going to the bathroom in public and such, I'm pretty sure, on closer inspection, that I'm clutching a hankie or something.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Whereas if I'd been the Christmas Lobster, I'd have been delighted

So at my preschool in Dacca (now Dhaka), Bangladesh, we acted out the nativity scene.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but I was Mary. A very reluctant, bitter Mary. Enlarge to fully appreciate the pout on my face. And the glasses.

Because, you see, being Mary meant I had to wear my pajamas as my costume. And an afghan that my grandmother had crocheted. I felt I might as well still be in bed. In front of the whole school.

When the teacher assigned roles, I cried and cried. I went home 54 kinds of upset.

"Why, Mama, why? Why do I have to be stinky old Mary?"

"Sweetheart, Mary is not stinky. She's a very important character. She's the mother of Jesus."

"Why can't I be something interesting? Like an aaaaaangel? Or an elf? It's not fair! They get the best costumes."

And so I sat there pouting, just like you see in this picture. For. The. Entire. Play.

I look at this as proof that our personalities, they solidify really early in life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So the inner and outer loop thing - turns out, it's all one road

People who don't live in DC or its environs will likely not appreciate this. Unless all cities have a Beltway (or two) - do they?

Anyway. I learned this morning that my understanding of the major routes around DC is much like my tenuous grasp on the rules of baseball.

We awoke to the traffic report on NPR. It was raining. There was an accident on the outer loop. Traffic was jammed.

I turned to Nick. "It's always jammed on the outer loop. And people have to drive from so far already."

"I know. We're lucky."

"How far out do people who take the outer loop live ?"

"What?"

"Well, like, we're never on the outer loop. Do we even know anyone who lives way out there?"

"Lis, when we come from your parents, we take the outer loop."

"We do not. They're close to DC. They live inside the beltway. Inside the inner loop, even."

"What?"

I'm not going to bore you with all the convoluted details of the conversation that ultimately ended in my enlightenment when I can just go ahead and tell you this. In my mind, all these years, the Beltway, it consists of two major one-way roads: The inner loop and the outer loop.

The inner loop, which is close in to the city, and goes one way: clockwise. And the outer loop, which is way the hell far away, out there in farmland and down by Richmond. This road also goes one way: counterclockwise.

And here's the thing. I have driven on 495. Which turns out to be the Beltway. And still, I didn't get it. I was always nervous about THE Beltway. The idea that you would be stuck going only one way around that whole loop made me twitch.

Plus, I have always wondered why people didn't just take side roads to get on the inner loop when traffic on the outer loop was terrible. Wouldn't that make a lot more sense than just being stuck on the outer loop?

And now that it's been explained to me, I realize it makes about as much sense to have two one-way rings around the city as it does for the home team to get to keep batting till it wins.

Duh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In my defense, this was a long, long time ago

Dad, you really don't want to read this one. Betty, you already know the story.

And let me reiterate. This was nearly a decade ago. I don't do this sort of thing anymore. Just so we're clear. It's not my party trick.

So a few weeks before I left San Diego to move to DC, I went to this lesbian party.

Actually, it was a housewarming. Thrown by a lesbian couple, and most of the guests were lesbians. We got invited because my boyfriend worked and was friends with one of the house warmers.

The house was really cool, and it was on a canyon, with a lovely back yard, sprawling fuchsia bougainvillea, and a gorgeous view. They'd had it catered; there was a fantastic spread. The bartender made really, really strong gin and tonics.

Important detail. Foreshadowing.

I don't know if you've ever ended a relationship in which you lived together. In which you loved the person and he loved you, but you wanted very different things. And one of you wanted to live in San Diego until you died. And the other, well, just couldn't.

The end of any big relationship is traumatic, but it's somehow worse when you feel like it should work, but for this one ginormous life detail. You feel like the person ought to love you enough change their mind. You fight about dumb stuff. And then, you decide to break up. But you live together until one of you moves to DC.

So at the tail end of this scenario, I was in a pretty fragile emotional place. What better to do when you're feeling unwanted (no matter that you're the one who is leaving) than run around and drink and flirt at a party?

Just to put you in my head. As if you don't live there every time you visit LG.

I headed immediately for the bar. It was an uncharacteristically warm night, and the gin and tonics, with refreshing lime! went down so easily.

And then I ran around socializing. We'd come to the party with another of my boyfriend's colleagues and his friend, who was a cop. Or maybe she was an ex-cop. I don't remember.

What I do remember was that she was really, really nice to me. Even when they had to pull over on the side of the 5 on the way home so I could vomit.

Yes. It's like that.

I was wearing an orange silk top with a Chinese dragon on it. The kind that's really only a top in the front. The back is just a tie, easily undone.

Also relevant.

It was the kind of night where the stars all align and somehow everyone thinks you're fabulous. Lots and lots of people - both men and women - thought the little blonde party girl was really, really cute. So, this was me: Whee! Mind-numbing alcohol! Cute men! Cute women! Gin! Flirty flirty! Proof of desirability! Warm San Diego night! More gin! Whee!

At the pinnacle of my gin consumption, two women larger than me beckoned me over.

"Look at you! You're so adorable!"

In head: Why yes, yes, I am!

"And look at how tiny your top is."

In head: I know, very tiny. Whee!

One said, "That would look like a postage stamp on me."

Me, I responded, "Oh! Want to try it on?" And reached back, pulled the string, and took off my top, and handed it to her.

And then pranced off into the crowd. Whee!

I cannot precisely say how long I was topless - but I believe it was a good couple minutes.

Apparently one of my boyfriend's gay guy friends stood up and said, "When the women start taking off their clothes, it's time for me to leave." He exited immediately.

On the other hand, a number of other people, as they left, thanked my boyfriend for bringing me.

Because I was so entertaining.

They might have thanked me, but for the fact that by the end of the party, I was vomiting in the bushes. I cringe as I write this, as you may imagine. I'm very, oh-so thankful that I left town shortly thereafter.

For months afterwards, guys asked my by then ex-boyfriend if the story was true. And if so, how they could get invited to the party next year.

I've been back to San Diego a number of times since, and as my ex-boyfriend and I are still friends, I've seen a number of those people, including the house warmers. And I'll tell you what makes me feel lucky.

They only remember the nudity. Not the vomiting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Comcast douchemonkeys: a rant in one part

So, I know cable is not critical in anyone's life. Also, I fucking hate Comcast.

And Dad, if you're considering emailing me to tell me I complain too much, I'm just going to invite you to imagine where along the nature/nurture path I might have gotten it from. The answer is: not Betty. As for all the profanity and possible typos - for those I take full responsibility.

When I lived alone, I didn't even have a TV, let alone cable. I just didn't watch enough to make it worth giving up the space in my tiny place. And then I met Nick and he had cable and TiVo and it's not the reason I fell in love with him so fast, but it sure didn't hurt. It was like magic!

Anyway. His TiVo was extremely old and was being persnickity and totally arbitrary in what it chose to record, and so we got a new one. But it needs a special card to work with the cable.

Being super-organized, he'd already called Comcast, and they said, "Sure! Come on over to the Comcast store! Drop off your cable box! The people at the store will give you the card to make it work with your cable!"

So easy, no?

No.

The people at the Comcast store told us, after we'd waited in a longlong line, that they don't have those cards. You have to schedule someone. So we scheduled someone.

We went home early on Friday, and sat at home all night. For the fucktard who never showed up. Nick called Comcast repeatedly, only to be apoligized to profusely, and told that they guy was running late. And another call, still running late. At no point did they say, "Just give up, he's never going to come."

Late in the evening, Nick finally said he wanted to schedule someone else. Who was to arrive between 6 and 9 am yesterday morning.

At 7:30 am, the doorbell rang. Yay! They actually kept their word!

He was at the house for like five minutes, put the card in, and told Nick to run through the install, and then he'd be set. And he was on his merry way. Presumably to go hang out at Starbucks and blow off his subsequent appointments.

So last night we were all, "We can watch Dexter! And Big Love! And the Project Runway special! We'll never have to converse in the evening again!"

And we turned on the TV! To a grey screen. And Nick kind of lost his shit.

Because, it turns out, the douchemonkey was supposed to wait through the install, do something at the end, and then call fucking Comcast to finalize it. This is what they said when Nick called.

Once infuriated, Nick gets pretty funny, in a way. He keeps an even tone with the people on the phone and tells them he realizes that they are stuck apologizing for idiots who don't do their jobs. But he makes these ridiculous statements.

"The first clown didn't even bother to show up. The second guy sticks the card in the machine, lies to me, and then bolts. What's the next guy going to do? Pee on my rug?"

They assured him that there was no way the next clown would pee on his rug.

And, "This is the fourth time I'm having to deal with this one tiny thing. I'd rather be raped than go through this again with the idiots that your company seems to employ."

They apologized again for his terrible experience. They responded not at all to the rape preference.

When they asked if he could be home during the day he replied, "No, sir, I cannot. Like you, I have a job. I'm working to pay for the service that you are not providing."

They certainly understood.

What kills me is this. In pretty much any other industry, you'd get a month off your service, or someone sent out immediately, or something to make you feel better about all the fucktardery. However, they're our only option. So they know they don't have to bother

Comcast is all, "Yeah, we're sorry. So can you be home next Tuesday between 10 am and 3 pm so we can blow you off?"

I find it so surprising that some bitter customer hasn't gone postal in one of their stores. Or bludgeoned one of the technicians with a TiVo box as he unsuspectingly steps out of the van.

It's not the lack of cable. It's being repeatedly lied to that's so galling.

What is wrong with these douchemonkeys?

/RANT

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do

Last night I dreamt that I had a fabulous haircut.

The layering was perfect. I could feel the fabulous, elegant bob swishing as I turned my head. I felt beautiful.

I awoke with the realization that I have to break up with my stylist.

I've been going to the same guy for the last three or four years, and the same salon for six. There have been ups and downs, and I've considered breaking up before, but I like him, and it's in an easy location. Plus, it's a totally affordable place.

A couple years ago, I loved my hair (see below, featured with my nephew, who I no longer get to see).
It's tragic, really.

So the other day I accosted a woman in the elevator the other day for a salon recommendation. She had a fabulous haircut. And she turned out to have a posh British accent, which of course made her hair look even better.

What I didn't ask, though, as it seems a rather personal thing to ask a stranger, plus I didn't have enough time between floors, is whether or not she colors it. I need someone who does highlights nicely.

It's stressful, trying someone new out of the blue. Not to get all Rod Stewart on you, but we all know that the first cut is the deepest. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

On the one hand, it's just hair. On the other, it frames your face, and either brightens you up or pulls you down. I look pulled down. And being as pale as I am, winter does that enough in the first place. I feel positively beige.

Here's what I want: I want a not-snobby, not too grown-up salon, where I don't feel self-conscious arriving in my bubble-gum pink coat. I want someone who cuts well and does great color. I want lovely blonde highlights. I want them to be glowy. I want to feel pretty.

In other words, I want it to be like it was early on in our relationship.

And here's the thing. I know there are other good stylists at his salon. I like the one who did my hair for the wedding. But you can't break up with one and move on to another at the same place. I mean, I did that once there, but only because the woman I was going to gave me bangs I didn't ask for, and then denied that they were bangs.

If you have short hair in the front of your head, just cut by your stylist, they are bangs.

So in a fuck-you move, I chose another stylist at the same salon. But I felt totally justified in doing so.

In this case, I like him. I just feel like we're in a rut. It's the same old same old. The color I have now, it's just blah. The cut? Has no style. And he's good; I think he's just stopped bothering a whole lot.

You know, as I write, it occurs to me...Maybe he's over me? Maybe he's trying to make me break up with him?

Monday, December 15, 2008

This just in: SOW-na

According to my dad:

"You got it exactly right. And we got the pronunciation from the Skarbakka family (Finlanders across the street on Missouri Ave who had their very own SOW (rhymes with cow) na)."

I'm not saying the SAW-na people are wrong. I'm just sayin', it seems like anyone named Skarbakka is probably right.

Also, I have a craptacular - or rather, mucustacular - cold. And however you prounounce it, a sauna sounds pretty awesome right now.

Which is not to imply that the Coen brothers are always on my mind

For the vast the majority of my sex-having years - until, in fact, veryvery recently - all of my efforts were always aimed at not getting knocked up. Well, that and avoiding the STDs.

And I should warn people - if so far this post seems like it will make you twitch, you probably want to stop reading here.

At a very young age, I could discuss the merits and drawbacks of various contraceptives. Condoms - a barrier method - were of course the best, because they protected you not only from pregnancy but also from disease.

I knew all about the importance of family planning and disease prevention and nothing about sex.

And then somewhere along the way I learned about sex. And then eventually started having it. And from minute one was incredibly anal about birth control.

Not in the Catholic schoolgirl way that sounds. I mean careful.

So after all those years spent trying not to get pregnant, suddenly I realized that I knew nothing about getting pregnant.

Unless you go Googling, which I didn't till recently, you don't know. It's not like you grow up with your mom telling you the optimal positions for conception or anything. It's all been contraception.

So the first few times that we were in whee! let's make a baby! mode, as soon as all was said and done, I immediately curled up on my back, hugging my knees to my chest. You know, to help all those baby missiles swim forward or whatever.

After the third time I did this, Nick looked at me and said, "Is that what you're supposed to do? Or is it because Maude did that in The Big Lebowski?"

I blushed. "Oh Nick, it's straight from the Big Lebowski."

In my defense, The Dude abides, you know?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How do you pronounce sauna?

Nick and I were talking about saunas this morning.

Or rather, I was talking about sitting in the sauna. And Nick kept asking me to repeat myself. Which I did several times, until I got to the point where I was speaking really loudly and clearly. Like maybe he had a head injury.

Because how, right across the breakfast table, could he not hear me so many times?

He was, however, asking me to repeat myself so that he could be sure, when he made fun of me, that he'd heard me right.

Because I pronounce sauna "SOW-nə" (you know, sow, rhymes with cow). Actually, what I say sounds a little more like SOUW-nə. But "sow" is close enough.

He insists it's "SAW-nə" - "saw," definitely not "SOW," and with slightly less emphasis on the first syllable.

He contends he's right - and offered up all kinds of "au" words with his pronunciation: Caught, fraught, cause, pause...The list goes on.

And I had no examples on the tip of my tongue for "au" pronounced "ow" - can't, in fact, think of a single one. Except sauna.

I thought back to where I learned the word, which would be one Duluth, Minnesota. Where my relatives - my Scandinavian relative - were big fans of the SOW-nə. That's how they always pronounced it. So maybe this is regional? And maybe my regional pronunciation (which I always want to spell pronounciation) is in fact correct. Because didn't saunas originate with my people, or somewhere around there?

I headed to Wikipedia, and their pronunciation - a Finnish one, as they apparently started this sauna business - looks like it would be "SOY-nə" - unless I'm misunderstanding their chart.

So I'm figuring our respective pronunciations are regional American...but I still feel like I'm right.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So fine, it's liquid precipitation and commenting on it won't change a thing

Driving in to work this morning I asked Nick what I should blog about.

"You haven't ranted about winter in a long time."

I do hate winter, it's true. I hate being cold, I hate the thin, feeble light. The shortness of the days and the intrusive darkness of the nights both get me down. And rain. I hate rain.

In fact, perhaps, I should just say I hate inclement weather. There. That covers it.

I arrived at Nick's office last night soaking wet, freezing, and spouting profanities. And like "cocksucking rain" makes any sense anyway.

So I immediately wondered aloud if Nick thought I complained a lot. His answer? Well, I complain a lot more than him.

He was all, "So it's cold. So it's raining." He pointed up to the sky. "It's like complaining about the clouds. It's not going to change them. What's the point?"

All I could think of was, "It must feel awesome to be so fucking perfect."

Thinking about it, thought, it's true - I do complain a lot more than he does. Not whining, fix-this-for-me complaining. But I am likely to say "Fuck! It's so fucking cold!" every single cold day of the winter. Because fuck! It's cold!

But do I complain a lot? In the scheme of human complaining? Do I?

And is this a female-male difference? Are women more likely to voice what they think in the moment? Or is this a Lisa-Nick difference? I'm not sure.

He does, in fact, have a sunnier disposition than I do. Or maybe not sunnier, but he's a lot more even-keeled. My highs are happy! sunny! yippee! sparkly! rainbows! dancing! puppy squeezingly high. And my lows are dark, no daylight in sight, pit-of-despair-ish.

He maintains a pretty even level of happiness or contentment throughout the day, week, month. This is not to say he doesn't get mad - because man, he has a temper. Or sad. But down episodes are rare, and, except for the anger, never as extreme as mine.

I tend to think about it in water terms. He spends most of his time swimming steadily down a pleasant, fairly evenly flowing river. And I spend mine in the ocean. Riding the high waves, enjoying the sun sparkling on the rushing water, and then thrashing about sputtering, flailing and grasping when I get caught in the dark gritty grip of the undertow.

We are very different people.

But back to complaining. Is complaining in itself necessarily bad? I don't know that it is.

There's something pretty satisfying in remarking on something you dislike, or something that pisses you off or irritates you.

So you can't change the fucking cold or the cocksucking rain. Is it terrible to remark on it?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And then suddenly you realize that stepping beyond this one particular line would make you officially crazy

I don't know if this is TMI according to LiLu. But it is something I've kept secret for the better part of a year.

The following took place last spring. I kept this quiet because my boss was still my boss. She quit a couple months later.

It had nothing to do with bugs. Just so you know.

So I don't know if you have ever had a super control freak boss who gave you nitpicky ((nit? heh heh), seemingly unnecessary tasks and constantly made detailed lists of minute tasks - each with its own little deadlines? And then every week or so, for no actual reason ,readjusted them to move all deadlines up a day or two? Which made your job a constantly moving target? And just generally made you pure bitter crazy?

And the straightforward, this style of management just doesn't work for me, kinds of conversations were met with verbal aikido. Her way or nothing.

You liked her before she was your boss. And you like her now. But there are some people you just can't work for. And that span of time made you sheerly and utterly miserable.

And you know when someone you work for makes you dread, absolutely dread, going in to work? And makes you all clenchy and bitter while you're at work? Even though you work at a non-profit where no babies will die of one particular thing doesn't happen on time, much less three days earlier than its due date?

You get to a point where it's just not worth it. It's time to look for a new job.

But then, you might stop and think, I like it here. What can I do that doesn't entail quitting?

You might sit yourself down and consider weaknesses.

You might think about the fact that your boss, she is terrified of germs, and this manifests itself daily in the incessant hand-washing and the opening of doors with the special retractable hook ordered from the Internet (although that proved short-lived, as it was cumbersome).

You might think about that time you, Chuck, David were sharing a piece of cake. Off the same plate. And how this clearly made her throw up a little in her mouth.

Someone might even remind you of the time that she found a cockroach on her floor in the old office. And completely lost her shit.

This would all probably lead you to The Bug Plan.

The Bug Plan was as follows: Find dead bugs, bring them to work in a plastic bag, and place them strategically in her office. She would see them, lose it, and, at very least, demand to work from home for all eternity.

So. I shared the Bug Plan with Betty. She immediately headed for the dank little lawnmower cupboard where the creepy brown speckled spider crickets live. Turned out she'd effectively poisoned them a few weeks prior. Not a single dead one to be found.

I kept my eyes open as I walked around the next couple days. Although, truth be told, I was a little scared of the plan as well.

And then later that week, the last time that Chuck hung out with us at the downstairs bar, I told him about the plan. Chuck, even with oversight of HR, was all kinds of enthusiastic.

He rubbed his hands, cackled with glee. "Bugs! Awesome! I'll bring some from home!"

How many VPs do you know like that?

But I am getting off track.

What ultimately happened was this. I spent a number of days looking for bugs, thinking about how I'd sneak in and plant them, whether I'd be so obvious as to put one on the keyboard or just strew some about on the floor. . .

And then I stopped. Because seriously? I was going to collect bugs to strew about someone's office?

An intelligent, well-educated, constructive, professional woman. Running around trying to collect bugs?

I felt like this is probably one of the lines between Not Crazy and Officially Crazy.

I decided at that point it was time to find a new job.

She, however, found the new job first. It had nothing to do with me. Or bugs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The kinds of things I say that are immediately labeled "unhelpful"

We have been talking lately about life and death.

I don't mean like Nick being electrocuted by the photocopier or chopped up by an axe murderer. For once.

More like, Nick's remaining grandparents are old and frail. Our parents are all in their 70s. And Nick's dad is going to have heart surgery in the spring. We have reminders that life is short and precious.

Plus Nick decided we should get life insurance. So we met with an agent and filled out forms and such. We're going to do wills next.

It all really makes you think, you know?

So the other day I told him that if I were in a coma, on life support, I'd want him to pull the plug.

I said, "Please, if that ever happens, promise you'll just kill me."

"Sweetheart, I don't know if I could do that."

"Then ask your mother to do it. I'm sure it would be no problem for her."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Or maybe it can be attributed to my relentlessly sunny disposition

Looking at this photo, I don't remember what Nick had just done to irritate me, but clearly something.

Maybe just taking the picture. We'd been sitting in the Izmir airport, waiting to fly back to Istanbul, for about five hours. And I didn't like my book. Stuck, with no reading material.

But that's not the point. The point is this.

We had dinner with friends the other night, and in the course of conversation, I learned that my friend Sam, who used to read my blog, no longer does. He said he read it daily. Until I got engaged. At which point I got boring.

It is no longer, he is certain, of interest to men.

He's not single, and even when he was, we were never interested in each other. We have always been just friends. But he really liked the angst-ridden single woman stories. No matter that he heard them in person regularly. But after that, he just stopped being entertained.

His contention is that my male readership has surely taken a nosedive. Single? Fascinating. Engaged? Married? Not quite as much.

Of course I want people to like me. I eat up any kind of praise with rapid, greedy bites. So my immediate thought was, what can I change?

I talked about this with two charming men the other night who both said they were in total disagreement with him. But Sam's words stuck.

This has really been gnawing at me. Did I get boring? To men anyway? Very few men comment, but that has always been the case. But maybe even fewer now. I hadn't been paying attention until he said that.

And then I thougth about it. Most men are probably not so interested in reading about ovulation and my MIL and the myriad weird places I'd put my penis if I had one. So is this what happened?

Obviously, it's pointless to say, "If you were a guy who used to read LG, but now you don't, why not?"

And the truth is, all you can do is live forward. I can't write fiction, and blogging about my here and now is what I find most satisfying.

But what I am wondering is this. Are single women more interesting in general? And if so, is it because they're single, and so there's the possibility of dating? Are single, angsty stories just more compelling?

Or did I shift?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Five minutes can be a very, very long time

So, I don't know if you've ever used those ovulation predictor sticks.

Some of you have; you're the ones who told me about them. But for those of you still having sex for fun, let me tell you.

First of all, we bought this package of 20. They come in this big resealable purple bag. You pee on the end of the stick for five seconds, then you wait five minutes. When your luteinizing hormone (a term I just learned) goes up, a second line appears.

This means you are getting ready to ovulate. Which of course is when the magic can happen.

The instructions say to pull a stick out, and then reseal the bag as quickly as possible. And approximately 2:00 pm is the time they recommend testing.

Practically speaking, this is what these instructions have begun to mean in my life.

They mean carrying the whole bag of 20 sticks to the bathroom daily. Actually, it diminishes by one stick every day. So 20 the first day, 19 the next, etc. The only cosmetic case I have that's big enough for the damn bag-o-sticks is leopard-print vinyl. It's not exactly subtle.

The awkwardness, though, is in the bathroom. Because who cares if people think I have a shitload of makeup to reapply in the afternoon?

I pick the last stall, if available. I put the paper down on the seat, unzip the makeup case - ZZZZZZP, open the plastic bag - CRINKLE, pull out one stick, and reseal the bag as quickly as possible. CRINKLE again.

And I know I don't have the best time with this kind of thing, but the peeing on the stick is not as easy as it seems. My pee isn't always pointing the same way. It shifts. Sometimes it's hard to get that stick in the right place.

Or maybe I am just urinarily challenged.

Anyway, so you pee for five seconds: one-one thousand, two-one thousand. . .And then - and this is the hard part - then you have to just sit there.

On the toilet. For five minutes.

Doing nothing but holding your leopard-print bag and looking at your stick.

Because - and believe me, I have contemplated it - you cannot carry a plastic stick on which you have urinated back to your cube. You simply can't.

I thought about wrapping it in toilet paper putting it in my bag, but you're suppose to keep it flat, so you'd have to carry it between your fingers, out in the open. With the possibility of drips.

No. Just, no.

So the waiting.

One afternoon, all four stalls filled up, and I heard the voices of a couple people I'm friends with. "Wow! When is there ever a line in here?"

There isn't.

And I was thinking, oh, they're going to recognize my shoes!

I wanted to be all "I'm not pooing! I'm just waiting for a pink line!"

Do you know how long five minutes can last?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Just so you know, urination looms large in this post

I love the idea of Founding Farmers. The philosophy behind the restaurant is great - combining socially responsible, sustainable behavior with fresher, tastier, more healthful food. I totally support this.

I know Lemmonex didn't have a great experience. But I still wanted to try it. And overall, I liked it, although it is loud. Our server, who was great, had to struggle to make herself heard. Which is particularly hard when there's a long explanation about the place.

Our friends Sam and Amanda met us there. We hadn't seen each other in ages, and while the visuals are charming, the noise level - music on top of really high conversation volume - made it a difficult place to catch up. Easy to lean into the person next to you, but you needed to bellow across the table.

I had chicken for dinner. This statement make me laugh, as years ago a friend shared her diary and that was an entire day's entry. "Tuesday, September 5. I had chicken for dinner."

So I try not to write things like this.

But I had chicken with mashed potatoes and root vegetables. All tasty, but I wouldn't rhapsodize. In fact, everyone liked their meal, but none of us were dancing on the table. I will say, though, that Amanda is currently on a very severe salt-restricted diet, and they were extremely accommodating. And they made her no-salt french fries, which made her night.

So because we're juvenile, when they brought us water for the table Sam and I immediately began conferring on whether we had to give it back before the end of the meal. Nobody could leave until they peed, which would then be recycled into fresh water and brought to a subsequent table. Kind of like Dune, except without special suits.

Amanda was the first to, um, recycle, and came back and said we had to check out the hand dryers. You stick your hands in these slots and they power dry them in like 15 seconds.

Nick was next. He came back looking embarrassed. Because, he said, he'd mistaken the sink, a long white enamel farmhouse-looking one, for the urinal. He figured in keeping with the theme, they were just having men pee in a trough. Just as he was about to unzip, he realized that there were urinals behind him.

Awkward.

Me, I went to the single bathroom downstairs. And Amanda was right - the dryers are the best I've ever used. You hold your hands pointed downwards and really strong air blows them dry. Fast.

Although both Sam and Nick were shockingly resistant to my suggestion, if I had a penis, I'd totally stick it in that power dyer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I have a boot problem. A tarty boot problem.

I realized last week I have relentlessly tarty taste in boots.

Also, I have a boot problem.

There, I've said it. I feel better.

So the fabulous, above-the-knee boots? The zipper broke the first time I wore them. Zappos didn't have another pair in my size. And quite frankly, I was worried that if they broke that fast, maybe they were poorly constructed. And they were expensive. So I returned them.

Thus, I no longer had hottie-hot new boots.

And then I went to New Jersey.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, Nick and his parents headed up to see his older sister and her kids. Me, I got to spend the day with Tori, who lives a couple towns over from Nick's parents. Yay!

Since it seems like a travesty to be in the land of No Sales Tax on Clothing or Shoes and not shop, we went shopping. I was looking for Christmas presents, but of course one cannot pass a DSW without poking one's nose in. Don't you think?

I cannot even tell you what possessed me to put these boots on, since I thought "prostitute" when I first saw them. But these were a total bargain (as much as a pair of boots like this can be when you're not going to make money wearing them), and I figured I'd just see how they looked.

As soon as I put them on, I kind of really wanted them.

And it was shoe money already spent. In fact, these were less than half of the prior boots. So I was pretty much losing money if I didn't buy them, you know?

And then Tori was all, "Those are awesome! Look at the buckles!"

"Too much like buckle up, big boy, and pull out your wallet?"

"Not on you."

"Are you sure? They're kind of extreme."

"Honestly, Lis, of all my friends, you pull off the whorish boots the best. And you never look the least bit slutty. I assure you."

She meant this in the most sincerely positive way. Even though it sounds kind of suspect.

And then another woman walked down the aisle and was all, "Those boots look great on you!"

Which almost made me put them back, considering I'd already been complimented for trying on some pointy purple velvet paisley boots. (Who could resist? Not me.) Also, a woman at another store had told me she loved my blue nail polish.

Except for the myriad reasons I could never live there, I could so live in New Jersey, you guys. The shopping public is good for my self-esteem.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Our museum is not under the water but most of the artifacts came from under the sea

Some days this is exactly how I feel. And today, today is one of those days.

Do you ever go to bed upset about something that is out of your control?

And then you maybe wake up completely discombobulated, having dreamed that practically everyone you love turned into zombies, including your husband? And while he was trying very hard to stay away from you and not zombify you, the rest of the world was after you?

And so you maybe went to your favorite (fictional) French place and slept with the hot French server? And then were left with whether you should tell your zombie husband or not, realizing that it would probably destroy your marriage?

Because of course the fact that he was a flesh-eating zombie wouldn't.

And then you maybe wake up and tell your husband and he is much more focused on the fact that you slept with someone else than the zombies chasing you?

Even though you assure him that you were really drunk and it wasn't all that fun?

And then the rest of your day so far looks like it's going to be exactly like that? Not under the water but, well, you know the rest.

If that ever happened to you, today would be one of those days.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Which makes you realize that penis envy and actually wanting a reconstructed penis are very different things

Or, now for something completely different.

You really have to want to be a man if you're willing to go through that whole sex change operation. Do you have any idea how much there is to it?

I said as much to Nick when I got in the car yesterday.

And instead of saying he had no idea how much was involved, he was all, "I guess we're done with rabies?"

This I can't promise. But here's how this started. So the other day, Betty learned that one of her neighbors, an older, married man, had passed away. She simultaneously learned that he had been a cross dresser.

This, on their street, in Virginia? Big news. They knew a cross-dresser! She told me immediately.

How, she had asked the neighbor who told her, did she know this?

Turns out she used to see him get into the car dressed as a woman, off to the grocery store. Apparently, she added, sotto voce, it was quite hard on his wife.

So I Googled, which led me to Wikipedia, and sexual reassignment surgery. I looked at female-to-male, which seemed somehow more compelling.

I knew about the hormones. And the mastectomy. But I hadn't really given any thought to how you might wind up with man bits.

Although, if pressed, I'd have assumed that even if gave you a new penis, they left the vagina to pee with. Wouldn't you need it as a pee hole?

No! Because it turns out "...the urethra can be rerouted through the phallus to allow urination through the reconstructed penis."

Yes. They can either enlarge the clitoris through hormones (how much, one wonders, but truthfully, one hasn't yet investigated) or create one through skin grafts. And then, they can reroute the urethra. They can also implant an erectile prosthetic.

They build you a whole new penis out of your own skin. And then they put something in that allows you to have an erection. And they redo your plumbing so you can pee through it.

It's really quite amazing, isn't it?

By comparison, the balls, they seem relatively easy. They form a scrotum out of the lips and then stick in prosthetic testicles.

And that's really all I've got there. Anything else you'd like to know about anything?

And yes, this is the kind of post that makes Nick worry that you will think there's something very wrong with me.

So hi! Hope your holidays were great! Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Which is maybe not a long-term strategy but is certainly fun at the time

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. It was a really good visit.We also drank our faces off. Or anyway, one of us did.Which never hurts.Well, up to a certain point.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fine, but don't blame me if you wake up pecked to death

Someone told us there had been a deer on K Street the other day.

I turned to Nick. "Do deer bite?"

"What?"

"Do they bite? Like, would they bite you?"

"They don't like people. They'd run away. I think you're safe from the deer."

"But a rabid deer? It could bite you, right?"

"Goddammit, Lis, are we back to rabies again?"

The truth is, we'd never left. He'd just had a brief respite.

I don't know if you heard that NPR story a few weeks ago about the woman who got attacked by a rabid, 30-pound raccoon? (Which I would link to except that I can never, ever seem to find the NPR program I want when I go looking.)

Anyway, she fought and fought and finally called her husband and son with her cell phone. They had to beat it something like 45 times with a tire iron before it died. Because rabies affects your central nervous system, the animal had much more adrenaline and strength than it otherwise would.

Aaagh!

And I was thinking, Betty is just a little tiny thing and she spends a lot of time in the back yard. There's no way she could fight off a rabid raccoon. I immediately Googled. If you start looking, rabies is everywhere.

And then, then, when I wasn't even looking! There was that story about the woman in Arizona who ran a mile back to her car with a rabid fox clinging to her arm. She chucked it in the trunk and drove to the hospital, and then it jumped out and bit an animal control officer. They both had to get rabies shots.

I don't know how much you know about rabies, but once you start exhibiting symptoms, it's almost always fatal.

Plus, apparently you can get bitten by a rabid bat in your sleep and not even know it. So if you wake up and there's a bat in your room, you should assume there's the possibility of rabies.

Things like this terrify me. Even though I never see bats. But that's the thing. You might not even see it coming. And then suddenly you can't swallow and you're disoriented and then you're dead. See how easily it could happen?

I realize that I have a tendency to fixate. And that I come up with implausible scenarios. But, like eating the whole pint of ice cream, I can't seem to stop myself. Nick's patience has been worn thin.

"What about a bird? Birds could get rabies, right?"

These questions come out of the blue. Or as we're falling asleep.

He always takes a deep breath. "It would have to be bitten by something. Birds can fly, remember?"

"Right. But what if the bird ate a piece of a dead animal that had rabies? Or came into contact with the saliva. It's possible, right?"

"Yes, fine, yes, it's possible."

"And then the bird could swoop down and peck at you. . ."

"Can we stop with the rabies?"

Monday, November 24, 2008

True love and blogtypes

I love things like horoscopes and personality tests and such.

This has been on my fridge for several years. It's my favorite horoscope of all time. Even though it didn't turn out to be accurate for that particular day, I clipped it out and hung on to it.

I know it's a little blurry, but if you click on it, it gets ginormous. Which maybe sounds idiotic. Because big blurry is better than small blurry? Maybe sometime around last call. In college.

Anyway.

So that said, I was delighted when my friend Jessica sent me a link to Typalyzer. This is like a Myers-Briggs for your blog.

So I typed in LG. And voila!

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.


It also tells you what parts of your brain are working when you write.

And I read it and was all, yes to this, no to that...sort of accurate, sort of not. Much like a horoscope. I like it!

For those of you who read Live It Love It, she wrote about this very thing on Friday. And, she's a Performer as well. Which, um, came as a huge surprise to me. Ha.

But then I thought, is everyone drawn to blogging, or at least personal blogging, similar? And since blogging is our very public face, wouldn't most of us be analyzed as performers?

And then I tested a few blogs - Jessica's, for one - and found I we aren't all Performers. Although I still bet the majority of us are.

But this made me realize that much like those Cosmo "Do men think you're a feisty fireball or a ho-hum hockey mom? Find out how hot you are in bed!" kinds of quizzes, I really do approach this kind of thing far too sincerely.

And for this reason, I'm not up for Tarot cards or palm reading. It freaks me out to have someone read my personalized future. What if they're right? The general, read-as-much-as-you-want-into-it approach suits me just fine.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Alone! All alone!

It's Saturday night and I'm unreasonably excited to be home alone.

I took a hothothot shower and put on fleece. I'm scooping peppers into homemade guacamole, and when I get to the bottom of the bowl, I'm going to get the last bits with my fingers. I might even lick the sides. And I have an enormous bowl of popcorn - popped in a pan with lots of oil.

I love popcorn for dinner. I love not having to have a sensible meal.

Nick, he is out on a man-date with a foreign service guy we met on the plane on our way home from Turkey. I was invited to join, and he's an interesting character, but the truth is, I'm over-peopled.

I think what it comes down to is that I'm a very social introvert. I have been out practically every night for the last two weeks. And today I hit a wall.

I love people. I love seeing my friends. There were weeks leading up to the wedding where I didn't have time to be social. And I've been making up for it with a vengeance.

But when I spend too long with no alone time, I get peopled out. I start to lose it.

I got to a point where I was just so tired. Cranky. I absolutely couldn't bear the thought of going out and talking to anyone. And I must add, with some guilt, I was so looking forward to a few hours entirely alone. Alone alone. No Nick. Nobody.

I was practically shoving Nick out the door tonight as he was lingering, kissing me goodbye. "You'll be late! Bye! Have fun!"

He asked how I knew he and our new friend wouldn't be on the town flirting with women and going wild without me.

"Honey, I trust you."

God love the man who can ask you that while wearing an outfit that includes his favorite black felt clogs.

He'll be home by ten.

Friday, November 21, 2008

6-12

Yesterday Nick forwarded me a birth announcement - baby born at 7:20 that morning - which had been written like a press release. Careful, proper, emotionless.

Presumably, it was sent to a blind copied distribution list. She sent it from her Yahoo email. To her husband's work email. And their joint email account. So all first and last names were on there.

Which I Googled. But that comes later.

The attached picture was of a very thin, attractive, subtly made-up, perfectly-plucked eybrowed blonde woman, lying in a hospital bed, holding a swaddled baby, her handsome, smiling husband at her side.

Nick's email said, "From 6-12. Who would ever send an email like this to their former boyfriends/girlfriends?"

He dated her a couple years before we met. She had an actual name until they broke up.

He liked the fact that she was pretty and smart, if a bit narrow and St. John suit-wearing, Junior League loving, and Republican. Like all of us looking for a life partner and dating and dating, he figured, nobody's perfect.

So at six weeks, she handed him an engagement ring. Or rather, the setting. And said, "This is my grandmother's setting. My parents got engaged at six weeks, and they've been happily married for 35 years. And I expect at least two karats."

And my beloved, whose crazy-dar isn't all that finely tuned, took the ring and put it in his top drawer along with his cuff links and such. You know, instead of running screaming the other direction.

They dated along, going to Junior League-y, Republican-y functions and such. For six more weeks.

At week 12, she turned up at his house and demanded her ring back. It had been long enough. If he didn't know at that point, he wasn't ever going to know. Goodbye.

6-12.

I'd never seen a picture of her. She's pretty. And she works fast - I've never seen a picture of someone immediately post-birth with their hair done and their makeup on. Her husband, according to Google, went to a good law school, worked at a prestigious firm, and is now in the Republican administration. (For like, 15 more minutes.)

After digging in their details, I started wondering why Nick got this message. They didn't stay in touch; they aren't friends.

Did she send this to everyone in her Yahoo address book? Or accidentally include him on her list? Hard to believe someone that carefully put together would be that careless. Could it really be just to show him what he missed out on?

So I decided that Nick should send her a picture of my vagina. He can just pretend she's on his distribution list.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Son et lumière

There is always a lot going on in my head.

I am not suggesting that I'm a braniac - it's not physics, and in fact, I can't even do addtition without my fingers and toes. It's just, well, words and stuff.

Once, when someone was trying to teach me how to meditate, he said, "You are not a person with a quiet mind." And this is true. The goal, as he explained it, was to silence the chatter.

The truth is, I haven't yet managed.

I understand the why of it - you want to be able to focus. You want a respite from the clatter or roar, as the case may be. You want to clear out the detritus in your head.

It is very rare that I focus so intensely on one thing that there's nothing, absolutely nothing, else going on in my brain.

It's not that I'm not focused or in the moment in my normal life. But I'm in the moment with the background of: Wow, it's cold. It wasn't this cold this morning. And what wind. I hate wind. I wonder if we left the windows open. Hey, I like that woman's hat. Hats! Proper Topper has great hats. And they might be having a sale soon. Sale? The Nordstrom sale. I wonder if my package has arrived...

You see what I mean? Not quiet.

And this is the reason, I think, why I usually don't turn on music at home. It's overload. I hate it when people turn on TV for background noise. Background noise? You want extra?

I spend my life filtering out internal background noise.

And it's not that I don't like music. I love music when I exercise. But sometimes, when walking to work, I start out so thinky that I forget to turn on my iPod. I got all the way to work once and realized that I had the headphones on, but the soundtrack was my own.

I think, actually, that blogging has been really good for me, in that I have always had this constant inner dialogue. Knowing that I'm going to be writing things down for public consumption has given me a reason to focus the in-my-head story.

And yet, I find it hard to sleep in absolute silence.

I have an air filter machine next to the bed - both for allergies and for the noise. Growing up in hot countries, we always had room air conditioning units. On cold when it was hot, and on hot when it was cold. But a constant, year-round hum. I like white noise when I sleep.

And it just occurs to me, why is it called white noise, anyway?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And yet...

I'm fantastic in a crisis. I procrastinate like nobody's business when I have a large and tedious task.

I'm good at getting the laundry done. I suck at folding and putting it away.

I sing along to radio when I'm driving. I have to have complete silence when I park.

I'm good at unloading the dishwasher. I avoid running it - get hung up on figuring out how to fit in those last few mugs.

I love sweaters and boots. I loathe winter.

I return email promptly most of the time. I'm not great at returning phone calls.

I believe kindness is extremely important. When I'm furious, my mean streak is vicious.

I'm great at articulating my feelings. I'm often unable to bite my tongue when it would be better to hold them in.

I absolutely love the children of close friends. I will never, ever be all ooey gooey over some random baby.

I always work out with my iPod. I rarely turn on music or TV when I'm home.

I forgive very easily if you hurt my feelings. I hold an endless, bottomless grudge if you hurt someone dear to me.

I love NPR. I hate call-in shows.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Which, of course, is tantamount to saying Al Gore introduced us

What many of you don't know is that I met Nick on the Internets.

And I realize this photo makes you want to rush out and sign up on one of those dating sites right now.

(Incidentally, we resisted the temptation to take photos of random Turkish tourists posing in the same inane way.)

Anyway.

By the time we met, as you do know, I'd been on approximately 794 gazillion dates. Some good, some bad, and until Nick all ultimately winding up with me girding myself for yet another first date.

So last week, we met at the Tabard to celebrate our anniversary.

When I arrived, he was sitting on the same couch as the year prior. This time he was holding a lovely pink and white bouquet of Stargazers; this time I was carrying my little black Dansko commuting clogs in a CVS bag.

After kissing me hello, the first thing he said was, "Don't look now, but the woman sitting at one o'clock has been waiting for her date for a while."

Don't look now? How can you ever not look when someone says that?

Because I have trouble translating a clock into a room, I went around the dial, woman by woman, annoying my husband, until finally arriving at the correct person.

It turned out that while Nick was waiting, this blonde kept looking at him like maybe she knew him. And then he started to wonder if she was an old girlfriend who he hadn't seen in years. She looked like she could be.

So he said, "Carrie?" at the same time she said, "Chris?"

She was waiting for a date. And apparently, instead of saying he mistook her for someone else, Nick got all flustered and was all, "Oh! No! Waiting! I'm waiting! For! My wife! I have a wife!" and flailed around with his flowers, brandishing his wedding band.

I'm sure this wasn't at all awkward.

So we sat on the couch, acutely aware that this woman 10 feet away was waiting for her date.

I am sure the fact that she knew we knew made it all the more awkward. And then Nick kept glancing over, and checking the door all, "Where is he?"

"Stop looking. You're just going to make her feel bad."

You know, it was so close to home for both of us. We had both been her. Although neither of us had been stood up, we'd both been that waiting person over and over and over. At some point in my dating career I decided that the men who were late to first dates were not actually worth waiting for. They always turned out to be rude about other things.

So we were chatting about her but trying not to look. Or anyway, trying not to be obvious.

She checked her phone, left the room - to make a call? to take a call? - then came back and sat down.

Nick whispered, "Where is he? What's wrong with that asshole?"

"I don't know. He's probably a douche anyway."

Nick and Lisa, spending a romantic evening maligning some probably perfectly nice man we'd never seen. Because of a woman we hadn't actually met.

She probably waited about 20 minutes from the time I got there. And then she gathered her things and left.

Did Chris stand her up? Did he cancel? Had she gotten a message when she checked her phone? Or did she just get tired of waiting?

It felt, in an odd little way, like a personal loss.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spring was never waiting for us dear, It ran one step ahead...


Friday night we went to see Quantum of Solace with Nick's office.

I categorically love Bond movies. Even though I generally dislike action films, even though this one got a bad review, even though the plot wasn't great...I love old Bond. I love new Bond. I love Daniel Craig.

This, except for location, has nothing do with Donna Summer and the fabulous flames on her suit in this video. In case you were wondering.

So.

There were cocktails before the film, and I chatted with a number of Nick's colleagues, some of whom I hadn't seen since summer.

A couple of them - women who had enlightened me about the hooking up phenomenon - asked how I'd liked the Love Mix.

The night of our wedding, a CD made its way into Nick's pocket. They'd enlisted one of his partners to deliver "Nick and Lisa's Love Mix." We were supposed to play it that night as mood music.

The Love Mix:
1. We Built This City - Starship
2. Dog and Butterfly - Heart
3. MacArthur Park - Donna Summer
4. Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
5. Macarena - Los del Rio
6. Mambo #5 - Lou Bega
7. Yummy Yummy Yummy - Ohio Express
8. Ebony and Ivory - Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
9. The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Charlie Daniels Band
10. Who Let the Dogs Out? - Baha Men
11. MMMBop - Hansen
12. Puppy Love - Toni Snyder
13. Titanic Song - Celine Dion
14. I Would Do Anything for Love - Meat Loaf
15. Barbie Girl - Aqua
16. The Girl is Mine - Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
17. She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy - Kenny Chesney

If you're wondering what all these things have in common, it is this. They are, according to Nick and these women, the worst songs ever.

Some - like We Built This City and MacArthur Park - are very clearly Nick's picks. I've heard a number of times how terrible they are. And since Nick loathes Heart, of course he'd hate Dog and Butterfly, which I'd never heard before.

A number of the others they chose.

(What they don't know is that Nick actually likes MMMBop. Really.)

Personally, I don't know what songs I'd put on a worst songs ever list. Because me, I like a lot of these songs.

I love Donna Summer. I don't care if MacArthur Park is about leaving a cake out in the rain. And how can you not love The Devil Went Down to Georgia? This is a fantastic song! The Barbie Girl song is on my running mix. And Nick likes Meatloaf. Actually, I like Meatloaf too. I just do.

So there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Because the last thing I want to be is a down the mountain kind of person

I know dating is not climbing a mountain. And I know marriage is not the apex of life.

It's just that my recent marriage is the biggest thing in my world lately. Plus I have a tendency to be all jump up and down yippee! And having found someone, when after a million data points suggested that I would ultimately die alone, gave me faith for the world. Which I want to share.

But yesterday I started to wonder if I've gotten all advicey and cheerleadery and annoying.

Which would make me a down the mountain person. Which is absolutely not what I want to be.

Because here's the thing. A number of years ago, I did the Everest trek.

We didn't climb Mt. Everest. None of us were climbers, and in fact, I wasn't even a trekker. As you know, I prefer the nature through a window. This trip just kind of happened to me.

I was traveling in India and met these three hike-camp-great outdoors Americans, who tricked me into going trekking with them. Tricked is unfair. They invited me to join, and I said no. Nope. No thank you. I don't even hike.

In case you are wondering, it turned out that one of them had a grandmother who lived next door to Jane's grandmother in New Hampshire. I don't want you to think I am the kind of person who meets random strangers and traipses off to bordering countries willy nilly.

OK, maybe I am a little.

So anyway, I went to Kathmandu with them, and then they eased me into it. Why not get a trekking permit, just in case I changed my mind? And then we might as well buy boots, because I needed some anyway, because everyone needs hiking boots. And so on, up to the point of, just try it for a day! You can always turn around!

I stumbled blindly into it, and it wound up being the hardest, best thing I'd ever done. I'd do it again in a second.

But that's not the point of this.

We trekked almost to base camp. Which is a big deal in my world. Our highest point was Kala Pattar, which itself is 18,192 feet.

We walked for almost a month, in and out. We took an all-day bus from Kathmandu to Jiri, I think the name of the town was, where the road ends (or ended - it might extend further now). And then the next day, we started walking.

I don't know if you know much of anything about Nepal. I certainly didn't when we started. Basically, nothing is flat.

So you'd spend an entire day trekking up 3,000 feet.

Only to walk down 3,250 feet the next day. And you'd be all, goddammit! Now I have to go up that far tomorrow!

My thighs and ass, incidentally, were in kick-ass shape after that month.

And here I am getting closer to the point.

At the end of the day, you'd be so fucking tired. You'd have walked, with a pack on your back, for 8-10 hours, uphill (hill? mountain!) and down. You'd get to the tea house where you were staying at the end of the day, and be so happy to sit down.

And on our way up, what we discovered was this. The people who were on their way down were the ones staying up late and drinking beer and reveling. We, on the other hand, we were tending to our blisters, and having sensible dinner, and saving both our money and our energy.

What's more, when they learned that we were on our way up, they'd say things like, "It's really hard, but it's so worth it."

They were trying to be encouraging. They'd just done something so difficult, they'd done all the uphill, and now, they were in a good place. They'd trudged the same path we were trudging. They knew exactly what we felt like. They knew we were having an incredible experience that was only going to get better and better. They were happy to share. And they were also happy to be on the other side.

After a while, right or wrong, we got sick of it.

It got so annoying getting all this "we've been there and we know and it's going to be great" advice from strangers. We knew it was hard. We knew it would be worth it, and that on the way down, we'd be in the same position they were.

We also knew we were exhausted, and that the altitude made it hard to sleep, and that tomorrow might suck.

At some point, one of my friends had just had enough of the down the mountain people. He suggested we avoid them altogether.

How?

"Listen," he said, "when we meet people, we simply say, "Up or down?"

Very simple. Up or down.

"And if they say, 'Down!' we say, 'Fuck you very much!' and move on."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A year ago tonight. Or, my last first date.

A year ago tonight I hurried through the door of the Tabard Inn, flustered because I was a couple minutes late, sweaty from my walk in the sprinkly rain.

You can imagine what I was like rushing in from the cold, slightly discombobulated, cheeks flushed, pulling off my orangey scarf with one hand, the pink wool hat with the other - both with my usual grace. And cursing myself for having left late and being forced to rush.

The bar of the Tabard, if you don't know it, is like an old formal living room. There's a fire and all these low couches. The light are low. Not as in sexy loungey low. More like turn of the century low tech low. The last century.

It's all very charming, if occasionally hard to read a wine list, I assure you.

I was de-scarfing, running fingers through hat hair, and scanning the room when Nick stood up, smiled, and said hello.

He looked all clean and starched and crispy and cute. He had removed his jacket, but still had on his tie. His shirt was monogrammed. I tried to remember if I knew anything about his politics.

I sat down, and my glasses - which I'd started wearing for dates so guys would take me seriously - immediately fogged up. Which Nick immediately pointed out.

I knew right then I could really like him.

What I didn't know was that I'd met someone amazing who would just think I was the best thing ever. Who would be sweet and kind and honest and fair, from the very beginning. Who would actually, honest-to-God love me for me.

Which is precisely why I keep telling people to stick with the dating business, however you're doing it.

Yes, it gets dreadful to go on one date after another after another. And at a certain point you think, fuck, I simply cannot put on one more smile and act like I'm excited to have a drink with someone who will most likely either bore the crap out of me or do something annoying that makes me want to pinch him, hard, before the evening is over.

But honestly, I swear to you, your person is out there. You're not necessarily right for everyone, but you are perfect for someone who will be perfect back for you.

Somewhere during the first drink Nick got up to go to the bathroom. And when he returned, I was eavesdropping on the group next to us. I cannot remember what they were talking about, but at the time it was odd enough that I tipped my head towards them, gave him a quick synopsis, and then we sat in silence for a bit, both leaning their direction.

At that point he asked if I'd like another glass of wine. Or if I'd like to eat something.

And I said that while I would love to say yes to the wine, the problem was that at glass two, I tended to lose my filter.

He nodded his head. "I had an old girlfriend who was constantly interrupting me in the middle of a story to say 'Filter! Filter!' - I know how this is."

And that, my friends, was one year ago tonight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting up on the wrong side of the morning

Do you ever wake up with your panties in a twist for no discernible reason?

Just in a huge grump, irritated and lacking in patience. And you don't know why.

You know you're not PMSing, and you don't have anything specific that you're fretting about.

You slept enough. You've been eating well. You've been exercising. You aren't stressed. Nobody has done anything unkind to you. The post-election mood in town is great. Everything else that you can think of is pretty manageable.

And yet, you know you'd kick small children and take their candy if they got in your way?

Yeah, me neither.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why indeed?

"Hey, Lis?"

"Yes?"

"What's going on in this picture?"

"We're cutting the cake."

(Duh.)

"I know. . .But why are you doing that?"

Pause. . .

"I guess because it's the kind of thing I do."

Friday, November 07, 2008

What you are left with. And just so you know - this one is heavy.

I did not know him. Nick liked him, so I liked him. You know how you can get invested in another person's friends or colleagues, just because of what you hear about them?

I didn't know him. And yet, that night, when I arrived at Nick's office and he gave me the news, I had to choke back tears. I could have bawled, if I'd let myself.

I understand myself well enough to realize that it would've been more general grief that I was letting out, and I'd be crying, not necessarily for him, but for something very hard, and very close to home. I get that.

Because what you are left with is, why?

He left the office sometime Monday afternoon. His last email, sent late in the day, gave no indication. He was in the middle of work projects. Everything sounded normal.

And then he didn't come to work for two days. They called and they emailed. And they heard nothing.

And so, after barraging him with messages, they sent an investigator, a friend of Nick's, to his house. They didn't want to invade his privacy. But they wanted to know if he was OK.

The apartment door was unlocked. The keys were sitting by the door. Paper had been placed on the floor for the dog, who was ecstatic to see someone. There was extra water and food in bowls on the floor.

The investigator was the one who found the note and his body. He had to wait for the police to arrive, and tell them all he knew, which wasn't much.

The police set his time of death at approximately 6 pm on Monday.

Once it was confirmed, one of Nick's partners called the guy's mother. She was, as you might imagine, hysterical beyond words. I was standing in the hallway behind Nick as his partner described the phone call, and I had huge tears running down my face.

Writing this makes me cry.

Losing Chuck last summer, I have fresh in my mind how unprepared we all are to let go of anyone for good, even when death has been tiptoeing back and forth past their recently opened door, peeking in every so often to cast a cold, consuming shadow.

But an illness like cancer is one thing. There's a goodbye process, a decline, and some eventual relief on behalf of the person. And something sudden, like a heart attack or an accident, even these, you can understand, you can eventually come to terms with.

Suicide, suicide is so abrupt. And it invariably feels like desertion, betrayal.

It imparts, on those left behind, a sense of failure. Somehow the living failed the one who couldn't bear to continue among us. You failed him. Even if you only knew him in a work setting. Even if you were not his confidante. Even if you couldn't have known.

Mid-day that Monday, the last day any of his colleagues saw him alive, he told Nick a story about his weekend. He'd had a great time visiting old college friends. He was tired from the travel.

How, Nick wondered aloud, how could he have had a great weekend, and then, Monday night, end his life?

I started wondering how far ahead he planned.

He clearly cared about his dog. If he'd planned days ahead, maybe he'd have invented an excuse for the dog to be at a friend's house, you know? You'd want to ensure your dog was in good hands. The police were going to take him to the pound but the investigator, who is a great person, took him until friends could be located.

So did he visit those college friends as a goodbye? Or did he decide, sometime after his last work email, that he simply couldn't bear to go on living?

He said he was tired on Monday. Was this a sign of something deeper Nick should have understood?

I understand this wondering. Was there a tone you should have picked up on? An action, no matter how subtle? What if you'd said the perfect thing that could have changed the outcome? What if you'd done one thing and not another? Whatifwhatifwhatif?

Nick and the others are left asking themselves and each other if they could have foreseen this, if they could have done anything differently. They feel guilty. Somehow, they failed.

And this was someone who had worked with them for under a year.

I can only imagine his parents. His family. His friends.