Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm pretty sure this goes in the Men Are From Mars category

Let me just start by saying that I love a man with power tools just as much as the next person. Maybe even more.

Just so you know.

We got our invitations from the printer on Friday.

I will definitely take pics to post. I have to say, these invitations are really cool. I feel like I can say this because Maria designed them. I can't take any credit.

Each invitation is three layers, like a little booklet. To bind them, you need to poke holes and then sew thread through.

I paid for the design and printing, knowing that I could put them together nicely with the help of a couple friends.

Friday night I devoted to hole punching. I don't know if you've ever punched little holes into three layers of card stock? Two holes per invitation, 80 invitations, so. . .160 holes?

I have a great one-hole punch. It's strong and works well. (And yes, I realize how dorky that just sounded. I have a great one-hole punch? I carried a watermelon.)

But anyway. Much lining up of the cards. Much precise hole punching. Super tedious.

Nick was out of town when the invitations arrived, and so when we were talking that evening I told him about the hole-punching task that lay ahead of me.

"Sweetie! You don't need to do that. I know a much better way to do this!"

Nick's suggestion?

To clamp them all together. And then drill though them. He has a great power drill! It would be so quick! He could use a small bit! Two holes drilled and then done! So much time saved!

Drill holes. Through our wedding invitations.


Because, just, no.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sympathy boobs

"What's going on with your boobs?"

This is what a friend asked the other day. She'd noticed them at a happy hour. A couple friends did. Because they're noticeable.

They actually stick out. I actually have cleavage. Lately, this happens one or two weeks out of each month. Which is a lot, when months only have four weeks.

If you are used to having particularly sticky-outy boobs, you are probably used to living life around them. For me, though, they're in my way, they're sore, and they're just annoying the crap out of me.

And no, I'm not pregnant. That's not where I'm going with this, I promise. Let me take this opportunity to assure you that if and when I actually do get knocked up, I'll tell you straight out.

I'm pretty sure pregnancy is to blame, however.

I blame two women in my office, one of whom, Tej, is a really good friend of mine, for my current breast situation. Because, you see, they're pregnant. Tej is across the office from me, but the other one sits down the hall.

The one down the hall was secretly pregnant, until suddenly, four months in, hello! Pop!

So there's all this hormoney pregnantness swirling around. And there has been for months. These stealth hormones have been sneaking over and screwing with me. I just didn't know it.

I'm almost certain that I have sympathy boobs - in the same way that I'm a period slut.

It'd be one thing if they just got bigger. That would be kind of cool, actually. But the problem is, they're all hurty. Really sore. Walking down the street I feel them with every step. I've been fighting with them, and they are not happy with me.

If I could take them off and leave them at home, I so seriously would. Fuckers.

And so the other day Tej IMed me. She was going to come over.

And I was all, "Oh, no. You keep your pregnancy hormones on your side of the office. I have enough trouble as it is."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nick's choice

I don't know how you feel about seersucker, or if you are even actually acquainted with it.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure, I found an image on the Internet to give you some idea.

Personally, I kind of hate it. But I can't really tell if I hate how it looks or if I mostly hate it because I associate it with Carolina. And my college years just sucked so much ass.

And so things that take me back will often give me a visceral reaction. Not southern accents, fortunately, because Nick has one, and I find it charming. I don't seek them out, but I like his.

But things like seersucker, which as far as I can tell, is always worn with bucs. And I got bucs at college. Even though I loathed those fucking shoes. That's how hard I was trying to blend.

So anyway.

Seersucker is a summer fabric - thin cotton. It's striped, and woven in a particular way so as to make it pucker, which apparently means that it doesn't sit right on your skin, so it's cooler. I get why it's practical.

Nick has a seersucker suit. He wears it with white bucs. He hates being hot, and he loves this suit. And he really does look all clean-cut and handsome in it.

Incidentally, he is not a small man. He's 6'4" and has this gigantor frame. And the reason I bring this up is as follows. When he wears this suit? Let's just say that if you ever see an enormous wall of seersucker walking down the street, it's most likely my beloved.

And furtherly incidentally, have you ever seen Sophie's Choice?

If you've not, it's an extraordinary film.

Sophie, played my Meryl Streep, is a Polish woman who has survived the holocaust and has made it to America. In the present in the movie, she's living in a boarding house with Kevin Kline. Both actors are so young and gorgeous and incredible. And Streep does an amazing job with the accent. As always.

There's also this young southern writer living there - Stingo, the narrator. The three of them become friends, and they have a very intense friendship. And this young fella, he falls so in love with Sophie.

He's all freshly-scrubbed and sweet and earnest. And one day he's wearing a seersucker suit. He's a completely lovely, southern, seersucker suit wearing kind of guy.

She compliments him sincerely, in her near but not totally perfect English. On his cocksucker suit.

So as you may imagine, Nick, who enjoys the seersucker significantly more than I do, is beyond done with my compliments.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Karma and crinoline

Yesterday I got a crinoline from someone on Craigslist.

I'd put an ad on last week saying that I need a crinoline, and only plan to wear it once ever under a wedding dress, once, no matter what, and so don't want to spend a whole lot on it. And so if anyone is getting rid of one, and wants to sell it cheap, I'd be delighted.

I figured why not try, and if that didn't work, I'd turn to eBay. I'd heard nothing, and so last night was going to buy one.

And yesterday afternoon I got an email from someone who said she'd read my ad, and had I seen this other ad with a wedding slip that might suit my purposes?

This woman was offering one free. She'd bought it for her wedding and then chose a different type that suited her dress better, and just wanted to get rid of it. If someone could pick it up yesterday, great, if not, it was going to Goodwill.

I emailed her and said I could be there within the hour. I also emailed the first woman and thanked her for telling me.

The woman getting rid of the crinoline replied, yes, come get it! So I did!

It was enormous - filled an entire garbage bag with its skirty floofiness. I pulled it out in Nick's living room and there was skirt everywhere. Mounds and mounds of white tulle.


By the time I got home, the woman who'd told me about seeing both ads had written back, thanking me for writing. I replied that the crinoline was going to work perfectly, and it was all because of her taking the time to drop a stranger a note.

And she replied again saying two things. One, that my profuse thanks had made her feel really good. And two, that she had been the recipient of a lot of anonymous kindness, and she believed in paying karma forward.

I love this. I believe in doing the same.

On a very frivolous note, I love the frou-frou.

Betty called a couple hours later and asked if it had worked out with the crinoline. I said it had. She asked if I was still wearing it around the house.


Oh, wow, does she know me.

I pulled it on over my clothes when I got home. And then kept it on for a good half hour. Because flouncing around in an enormous flouncy poofy tulle skirt? Turns out to be at least as fun as mincing about in new heels.

If you have any inclination for the princess-y, I strongly recommend it.

The only thing that could've made it better was this tiara and a sparkly purple magic wand I used to have. You know I'm not even kidding.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Grab your ticket and your suitcase. Thunder's rolling down the tracks...

The memorial service yesterday was the best one I've been to.

It was so very Chuck, from beginning to end. His spirit was in every moment. I don't mean to sound corny. It really felt that way.

The service was at a Methodist church, but it wasn't church-y. It was informal and comfortable. Before the service started, Springsteen was playing, as was the slide show of the night before. We had about 20 minutes before the service began, and I sat and really considered the photos.

What I was struck by was that they were all family, and all really living. And what I mean is this. There was photo after photo of Chuck, his wife, sons, and extended family - of several generations. Celebrating Christmases and birthdays and weddings together. Going on trips - skiing, boating, scuba diving - together. Spending time. And living life fully.

He took such care of his family. And his employees. And even though he did an amazing job at work, he didn't miss an opportunity for fun.

Crap day at the office? He'd suggest we sneak out at 4:30 and meet at the bar downstairs for a quick drink. And he was a VP. Saying this to several of his employees. Sneak out. With a twinkle in his eye.

You don't, in life, work for many people like this. I don't imagine I will again.

Four close friends of his spoke, and they told stories of Chuck's life. They were overwhelmingly stories of generosity, of kindness, of gleeful pranks, of escapades, of hosting. Let's make this great! Please join the fun! Be part of this adventure! And have another beer! Can I get you anything else?

Over and over you heard the same themes in different stories.

And then the kids got up - his three sons and a number of nephews and one niece, ranging in age from maybe 7 to 19. They read letters they'd written to their dad, to their uncle. They were so loving, so poignant.

Afterwards they invited everyone back to their house. It was a backyard party - so incredibly fitting. There were kegs and tons of food.

I'd only known him two and a half years - working for him for two of them. I'd been apprehensive about attending all of these events, since there were so many people who'd played much larger roles in his life. I didn't want to take any family time away from them.

But every moment was completely Chuck - so inclusive, so open, so warm and embracing. People said this about him over and over again at the service, and it is endlessly true.

Marta and I went together and at one point his mother stopped to talk to us. I'd met her once before. When Marta introduced herself she said, "Oh, Marta! I've heard Chuck talk about you! He talked about all of you, you know. He really loved you." And she gave us enormous hugs.

I was struck by her generosity. How, in such a hard time, could you be this kind and generous to people you barely know?

This is how Chuck was. He was the one with cancer, and yet he was assuaging our fears. How was he? Ah, you know, good and bad days. But things will be fine!

And because of how he said it, you really, really felt he would be fine. There was no way someone like him was leaving this earth so soon.

Chuck had an amazing sparkle. His enthusiasm reverberated off the walls. It really did. He made you feel considered, invited to join, important as a character in the larger scheme of things. Being around him felt good.

Attending these events over the past couple days I realized that the positivity, generosity, and grace that dominated Chuck's personality extend to his entire family.

And so it was with his family, and with these events celebrating Chuck's life.

I felt so grateful to be a part of it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

All That Heaven Will Allow

Last night was the viewing. The memorial service is this afternoon.

I have to say, my office is amazing. We're closed today in honor of Chuck and to make sure everyone can get to the memorial this afternoon. Everyone has been making sure everyone else is OK, recognizing it's not easy for any of us.

It's not that I like everyone here, but the people I am close to, they are friends, almost family at this point.

Last night wasn't a viewing in the sense of seeing him in a coffin, because he wasn't there. He's been cremated. It was a gathering to remember Chuck's life, to pay respects to the family.

When my grandmother passed away we had a viewing. It's the only one I've been to. I can't remember if it was what she wanted, or we organized it that way for all the friends and relatives. It was heart wrenching, and I was dreading the idea.

But last night, while it was at a funeral home, was both light and heavy.

There were boards full of pictures of him and his family. There was a slide show running. I saw that and thought, "Oh, no, this is going to make me cry even more."

It was hard to see some of those pictures. His parents have outlived him, as has his grandmother. They were all there - in pictures and in the room. This squeezes my heart so immensely. Who ever expects to outlive a child, much less a grandchild?

But it was also amazingly helpful. When you didn't have anything to say, or didn't want to say anything, because you knew you would cry, you could just watch the wall.

You'd be in a very heavy moment, a group of you together, and then suddenly a shot of Chuck from the 80s, with feathered hair and tight Op shorts, and big glasses would come on the screen. One person would point, and you'd all look up.

And at some of those pictures, you couldn't help but laugh.

Throughout the evening his wife had Springsteen playing in the background.

He was his favorite.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the bright side, you are wearing underwear

What I don't get is how I can sometimes be so self-conscious and other times so completely oblivious.

I have been screen printing these napkins for Betty. They have leaves printed on them. The leaves are going to be red, and the napkins orange.

I'll post pictures once they're done.

So the other night I was about to jump in the shower.

"Is that blood?"


"Did you cut yourself?"

"What are you talking about?"

"On your stomach. And your thigh. What is that?"

I look down. "Oh. Dye."

"Dye? On your stomach?"

"I was screen printing this afternoon."


"Well, in my underwear."

See, my apartment gets hot. I've had the air off because I'm never there. And when I turn it on, it takes a while to cool down.

When I bought my place, the first thing I did was paint my kitchen and bedroom. It was October, when the days were warm but the nights cool.

Nobody was available to help, and I wanted to get it done. It turned out to be a lot of labor. Especially with high ceilings. With both the taping and the painting I had to keep scooting the ladder every foot. Up and down and over and up and down and over.

I only have one window in my bedroom. And eventually, even though it was cool outside, my room was really warm. I cracked open a beer, kept painting, but it was just hot.

So at some point I stripped down to my bra and undies. It really didn't matter - I was all by myself.

As night fell, I turned on one light and then another. And then suddenly I realized that it had gotten really dark.

I realized this because I was looking across the street into the goings-on in a neighboring apartment. Because you know how when it's dark out, you can see very clearly into other people's lit apartments?

Yah. So I was hit very strongly with this chiaroscuro effect while standing on the ladder, painting the corner just next to and above the window.

Realizing that my underwear-clad ass was framed perfectly in the one brightly-lit square in the wall.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Non-standardized testing

I've always been pretty decent at standardized tests. I even tend to do well on the math part, which is what really makes me think they're a pretty suspect way of measuring anything.

Because seriously, I once asked for something to be split 60-30. I do math on my fingers and toes.

Anyway, I can't even remember how long ago I took the GRE. And that was the last one I took.

So the other night I dreamt I was taking a standardized test.

Let me just mention that I always have bizarre dreams. Always. I should start a dream category, actually.


I was in the gym of my high school in Delhi. There were rows and rows of desks and chairs. We had those blue booklets they made you use in college. I could feel the stress of sitting there with the timer going.

The questions were a combination of multiple choice and essay.

I can't remember very many of the questions. And because of the nature of the questions, I sort of realized it was a dream. But still I was really stressed, trying my best.

The questions?

Well, for example, you were asked to write an essay on how to make guacamole. Which is not hard, but who has the precise directions and measurements in their head? Think about writing a recipe from zero. It's easy to miss a step.

Also: Describe how to drive a stick shift, and how you know when you need to shift gears. What channel is Jon Stewart on, and at what time? Explain what to do with your metro card if it gets demagnetized. What is "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" about?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The relativity of the office

I am usually a good little worker bee.

I have good ideas, I meet deadlines, and I don't get all complain-y about stupid crap. You can give me a project involving something I haven't done before and I'll figure it out without many questions, or even much supervision. Generally, in fact, I am a fantastic employee.

But sometimes I am not.

I realize that the world is like this. Things go up and down. And in our office, as I've said before, it's not the fucking hunt for Osama bin Laden. Nothing is honestly critical.

But still. I'm a first-born-rule-follower. I feel guilty pretty easily.

So I called Nick. I whispered into the phone.

"I'm being a terrible employee."

"Sweetie, I'm sure you'd doing a fine job."

"I'm not. I just can't force myself to focus on this project."

"Are you actively working to bring down the company?"

"Well, no."

"Then I'm sure you're way ahead of at least a couple of your colleagues."

Monday, June 16, 2008

A very sad goodbye

You're never really prepared to lose anyone, I don't think.

You can know that the person is ill, and getting worse. You can see them getting a little thinner, a little frailer. You can see the pain and the effort it takes to act positive wearing through the smile, hovering constantly in the background.

And at some point the facts are such that you can know intellectually that one of these months, which then becomes one of these weeks, and ultimately becomes days, you are going to have to say goodbye.

But I don't think you can ever fully ready yourself emotionally for the loss of someone dear.

Our friend and colleague was diagnosed with colon cancer just over a year ago. By the time they discovered it, it was Stage IV. If you've not had any experience with this - and I hadn't - there are only four stages.

He was incredibly strong and positive, and he announced the news openly. He was fighting it with everything he had. His large and loving family, with a very supportive wife and sons, were all behind him in the battle.

He had so many friends, including all his colleagues. We have a fairly informal office, and people genuinely and truly become friends. The entire office was rooting for him.

With all this positive energy and modern medecine, you'd ultimately conquer it, wouldn't you?

He was my boss's boss, and even so, I have a few too many stories of a few too many drinks out with them. He was a grown man, older than me and one I fully respected as a colleague and a person, but if you got him in on a drunken scheme, his eyes would light up and he'd rub his hands gleefully; he would run with it. You could fully imagine him as a slightly wicked teenager.

I think this is the best combination of person.

In April, his friends and family organized a team to run in a colon cancer race. We might not have been the fastest or fittest, but I think our team was the largest. It was a beautiful morning, and the cherry blossoms were at their peak. Many of us mostly used it as a social occasion - walking and occasionally running, as the spirit (or the cold) moved us. And there he was, walking and running in the center of the crowd.

Afterwards he and his wife had a huge breakfast catered at our office, which is both large and in an easy location. They were so gracious, so thankful we'd all come out to demonstrate support. At a time when most people could reasonably expect to have things done for him, he was constantly giving.

I'd have to say that generosity was one of his dominant characteristics. His constant strength and grace through his illness serves as an incredible inspiration.

Yesterday he lost his battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

Saying that we are devastated, saying that we will all miss him terribly, saying that we are so sad for his family - none of those begin to cover it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Super girly

We took my mom's wedding dress, which is now my wedding dress, to the dressmaker last night.

Betty took pictures and I was all, ooh, I'll post them! But apparently this is not the thing to do. You don't show the world how you look in the dress till you're actually getting married in it.

So no pics. Even though I am dying to share. And even though I look like a hot sweaty mess in the pics. Because I was. It was in the 90s yesterday.

But you guys, it's my dress! And it's got all of this love from my mom and my grandmother sewn up in it! And it's so pretty!

It caught me off guard, how emotional I got about this dress. We've all been fairly low key about this whole wedding business.

And then yesterday I was telling one of my friends at work that I was going to get my dress altered that night, and I started to cry. Out of nowhere.

So Betty and I took the dress to the dressmaker, who was super impressed at the fact that Betty had made it all those years ago. And that it's held up so well. For nearly 50 years it has lived in tissue paper in a cardboard box. The fabric looks fantastic. The seams are perfect.

I put it on, and the waist just fits. When I say just fits, I mean, fits enough to breathe regularly. But not enough to have a full stomach. And there isn't enough fabric to take it out or move the zipper at all.

So I absolutely will not be gaining one pound. I don't have many absolutes about the wedding, but looking and feeling great in this dress is one of them.

The top needs a lot of alteration. Because not only am I a different size, but an entirely different shape. The era of the crazy pointy bra is long past. Thank goodness, no?

Apparently there are suck-you-in undergarments that can help with a myriad of things. Which she said I need to decide on before she does major alterations. Also, I need to find the exact bra that I'm going to wear. Because this can make all the difference in not only size and shape but where my boobs will sit in the dress.

Who knew?

Plus, I need to get a crinoline before she can shorten it. She said they're expensive, and to borrow one from a recent bride, since really, when will I ever, ever wear it again? Good point.

She also asked about a veil. If I want one, this is another thing she said not to buy. Because they can cost $400 or $500! !!! She said they're shockingly easy to make, and I could make it myself or have her make one.

Do I want a veil? I thought not, and then she said, "When else in your life are you ever going to have the opportunity to wear one?"

And now I realize how slippery a slope all this wedding stuff is. It's once in your life. Why not crazy expensive shoes? Why not a massive princess dress with real crystals? Why not a tiara?

She is very practical and down-to-earth, but with so many people, this is the message you get, over and over: It's once in your life. It's your day. You can have anything! Anything!

It kind of makes me want to ask for a pony.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Charmed by the charm bracelet, $52 cream, and no Internet

These things are not related, except that they happened to me.

Nick fixed my charm bracelet and I am wearing it. I love it. Please note bullock cart with wheels that turn and scissor that can actually snip paper. Hours of entertainment.

Also. Yesterday I spent $52 on face cream. And we had no Internet.

Face cream: I am a huge proponent of Cetaphil, which I think is just the best stuff ever. I've had it recommended to me so many times.

And then yesterday I saw my dermatologist for a full-body check. The kind you ought to get yearly, to make sure you don't have any random cancerous bits growing. They check everywhere. Even places the sun doesn't shine, even though you think it's all related to the sun.

But in any case, I am going to be public-servicey and say that it's a good thing to do. Especially if you are fair and spent your childhood in the sun. With no sunscreen.

Regrets? That's a big one. Wear sunscreen!

So I don't have anything worrisome growing. Relief.

But when you have a well-respected professional peering very closely at your face and saying, "You know, you ought to consider something that will soften your skin and get rid of some of those fine lines..."

You wind up whipping out your card and paying 52 damn dollars for a little jar of something supposedly miraculous.

I'll let you know.

Internet: Also, we had no Internet last night. No clue why. Cable worked but wireless didn't. And neither of us could get on anyone else's network either. There were no networks to be had.

Was it possible the whole neighborhood had no Internet? This is what Nick contended, as I was frantically clicking and plugging and unplugging and generally working myself into a lather.

Because how can you do wedding crap with no Internet? How can you obsessively check email? How can you Google anything?

You cannot. Just like the olden days. With Ma and Pa Ingall on the prairie.

Or, um, life prior to the late 90s.


We fiddled and fussed and turned the cable thingy and both our laptops on and off and on and off approximately 92 times.

We had to call my parents and make them get a pen and write down information. Because we couldn't email it to them.

Same thing this morning. It just doesn't work.

No Internet!? No explanation?! What if we go home and it's the same story all over again?!

Embarrassed to say the idea makes me a little batshit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We hope we haven't scared you out of having kids.

We got a thank-you card in the mail the other night. One of the things it said was, "We hope we haven't scared you out of having kids."

This made me laugh out loud.

It was from Jane and Walker and their son Avery, who is two. They came to visit a couple weekends ago.

Jane kept asking if we were sure about them bringing Avery. And we kept saying of course, please bring him! We like him!

We had a great time. It was so great to all be together. We did all kinds of fun things.

But it did scare me a little.

I think the thing that scared me was how tired I was. And nothing bad happened, nothing at all. No screaming or crying, no accidents, no bad behavior. It was just normal life.

And Nick and I were very, very tired at the end of the weekend. And Avery? Is an incredibly nice, happy little boy. He is sweet and giggly and bright and kind. He's an easy kid.

He's also funny. If you have any inclination for kid videos, watch this one, in which Avery sums up what they're going to to in Washington. He's a boy after my own heart.

So we? Are not even the parents. How could that make us so tired?

They got here Saturday afternoon, and we took them up to Rustico for lunch. Avery had the mac and cheese, which I'd never tried. And he loves to share, so we all got to taste it.

Avery will be eating something and then turn and ask you if you want a bite. Strawberry? Sausage? Melon? Handful of peanut butter? Smooshed cracker? No discriminating, and very generous and share-y. I suppose if you get all twitchy about germs, it might be really hard, but I like it.

We got home just before an astounding thunderstorm, which Avery slept straight through. It was amazing. They were all, "It's almost nap time. He'll sleep for two hours."

And they walked him around the house in the stroller for a bit, and he crashed. For two hours. Which turned out to be the exact length of the storm.

The sun came out, and we headed off to walk around Del Ray, which is an area I don't know at all. We visited, among other places, the charmingly named Cheesetique, which made both Nick and Walker extremely happy.

On the way home we stopped at the marina by National Airport (which I staunchly refuse to call Reagan). Which turns out to be an amazing place to take a kid. Airplanes! Boats! Ducks!

Avery was kind of wound up that night. He likes us and we like him, and bedtime came fast. And he was not in the mood for it. Because he is so very social. And he knew for a fact that he might miss something.

Nick took him in the living room to try to get him to chill out on the couch and thus trick him into falling asleep. The three of us were wondering if this might work. And then we checked and the two of them were watching The Simpsons.

Which, if you're wondering, is not remotely soporific. No recommendations for Simpsons as sleep strategy.

The late bedtime somehow, inexplicably, meant Avery got up even earlier the next morning. And by earlier, I mean 5:30. They were prepared for this to happen. Not having any experience with kids, it makes no sense to me, but apparently this is often how it works.

This scares me for sure.

I hadn't been able to sleep, so didn't get up early. The four of them went out on a morning outing to the grocery store and the airport.

This is a complete tangent, but do any of you listen to This American Life? There was a show years ago with people recounting stories of embarrassing boyfriends. And this one woman was talking about her ex-boyfriend, who was a Hare Krishna.

I am simplifying greatly, but after going through the details of their relationship, she talked about how she finally realized they weren't right for each other. She had just gotten accepted to law school.

The plan was the following. They'd move to San Francisco together. And she'd go to law school at Berkeley. And he would go to the airport.

I love that show.

So anyway, back to Nick and Jane and Walker and Avery. They spent the early morning hours watching planes at the airport. And then Nick had work to do, and the rest of us headed off to poke around U Street.

During the weekend I learned a number of things.

You need to be able to keep to a schedule: Nap time is very, very important. And you see the tired just appear seemingly out of nowhere, like sudden grey clouds before a summer storm. And there's no, oh, just nap later. When it's nap time, it's nap time. Sound asleep.

You need to be vigilant: You hear the most surprising things. It never occurs to you that you might hear, from the living room, "No, sweetie, don't put a strawberry in Lisa's book. She doesn't like that." Which leaves you to wonder if at some point, when it's your own kid, you get really tired and are just like, oh, go ahead, put the strawberry in the book.

You do a lot of following and chasing: Kids are endlessly curious and never seem to stop moving. And here's what I wonder. Is it chemical? As we age do we just get more tired and so we move less? Or is moving less learned behavior? Or is it that the world gets less interesting? We've seen a million bugs, so we feel no need to go investigate. Same with cars. And plants. And strangers.

You have to be strong: I figured out why mothers have such great arms. Because carrying a little human who weighs 35 pounds? Is a fantastic workout.

And you have to be organized and carry lots of stuff: Mom's bags are deceptively enormous. Seriously. They are endless and full of magic, much like the closet to Narnia. Jane at one point or another pulled out: four diapers, a box of dried strawberries, a camera, toys, clothing, fruit roll-ups, cheerios. . .honestly, if she'd reached in and produced a snowball, I wouldn't have been surprised.

You can tell that they have so much fun with Avery. And they're both really patient, willing to stop and look at things he's interested in, willing to explain, willing to name things over and over and over.

Can I be that organized? That vigilant? That patient and kind? That able to constantly put someone else's needs first? I mean, for an extended period, one lasting somewhere around many many manymany years? And not get resentful?

These are all things that the weekend made me ask myself. I don't really know.

We had a wonderful time, and we'd be so delighted if they'd visit again soon.


Yes, OK, yes. But really only a little.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The concentration of a. . .hey, look, a ladybug!

I cannot concentrate. I am distracted by the smallest thing.

Really. I am currently just completely unable to focus for more than, oh, 71 seconds at a time, it seems.

I have work to do. I have thinky stuff I'm supposed to be doing. It's the kind of thing that requires you to sit down and read and process information and then write about it in some kind of cohesive and at least marginally compelling way.

Right. So, I open the document of notes that I've put together. And I get halfway down the page. And then am all, "More coffee would be great!"

So I get more coffee. And sit down and look at my monitor. And I look at the words.

Which is when I realize I need to pee. Or I need more water. Or both.

And the cycle repeats.

There is stuff I really really really need to do. Like, really. Really. Honestly and truly.

And instead?

I'm considering the logistics of covering myself in Vaseline and then wrapping my entire body in saran wrap and going to bed that way. It worked so nicely on my feet. Why not try?

But then I wonder. Would my skin wind up super moisturized in the morning? Or would it fall off? Can you over-moisturize? Is it dangerous if most of the skin on your body can't breathe for 8 hours? Does that matter? And would I ruin the sheets?

When really, I should probably be asking myself things like, jeez, Lisa, why the fuck can't you just focus and get this damn thing done?

No answer. To any of the above.

And now I need some more water.


Monday, June 09, 2008

One person's treasure is another person's toenail...or however that expression goes

I have been slowly slowly packing my things and moving into Nick’s house.

I show up with the most random conglomerations of stuff.

But for the fact that I generally look like I've bathed and am wearing clean clothing, I’m sure I look like a homeless woman wandering down the street. I'm constantly carrying too much, laden with piles of clothing and the occasional household goods.

One evening I showed up with my food processor packed in with my clothes in one of those rolly carry-on bags. This past weekend I brought my laundry basket, which is actually this really lovely woven basket rimmed in cowrie shells, which I bought in Cape Town.

Incidentally, if you’re ever visiting somewhere far away and you know you have to change planes three times to get home, a large exotic basket that you have to carry on the plane and worry about someone crushing with their luggage is one of the least practical things you can purchase. Likewise a large, brightly painted, carved wooden turtle with a long neck and the head of a woman. And bright red toenails on her turtlish feet.

Just FYI.

So anyway. I showed up with this basket, inside of which I’d layered towels and wooden bowls and my electric teakettle. Under one arm I had a long grey duffel bag with an Afghan carpet rolled up inside. Plus some hangers. And in my purse, crammed full of books and lotions and whatever else I could fit, I’d stashed a bunch of my jewelry.

There are many detestable things about moving, but the fun part is rediscovering bits and pieces of your past. For example, yesterday I found my childhood charm bracelet, in need of a slight bit of repair.

I haven’t worn it in years and years. I imagine plenty of you had charm bracelets, but if you've never had one, as a child, they're really fun. You’d add a charm when you went somewhere, or you’d get a charm as a birthday or Christmas present. The charms were special memories.

What I realized yesterday is that at first glance it’s not remotely unusual. It's a girly charm bracelet.

Until you start looking at individual charms.

There’s the little silver coral-studded elephant. And the miniature bullock card with wheels that turn. There’s a diminutive gardening shears, which actually can cut paper, as I recall. There are tiny Thai bells that ring. And an itty-bitty Taj Mahal, with four delicate silver turrets, one in each corner.

But my favorite favorite charm at that time? A tiger’s claw, rimmed in silver.

Looking at it now, I realize two things. One, that a tiger’s claw actually seemed like a normal kind of charm back then. And two? That a claw is really just a toenail. I have a bracelet with a toenail dangling from it, albeit one that used to belong to a tiger.

It’s kind of creepy and gross if you think about it.

As soon as I get it fixed, I’m totally going to start wearing it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Because although your past is archived, nothing is sealed airtight

I have closed one door over and over.

This particular one was The One, except that he wasn't, and was my longest, most important relationship up to Nick. In fact, at this point I've known him longer than most people in my life ever.

There's been enough hurt passed back and forth to fill the Grand Canyon, if hurt were solid and tangible. And I have shut the door between us so many times.

I cannot be friends. I feel like I ought to be able to, but I cannot.

We had so many final-final goodbyes. So many times I steeled myself for it to be the last conversation, the last email, the last anything and everything.

I mourned the end. Multiple times. And finally, after the end end, was proud of myself for moving forward. This post, about time being the longest distance between two places, is one of the realest things I think I've written about it.

We spent so much time post-relationship in that confusing, nebulous space of spending too much time together and thinking that because that part was good, it meant it would work out in the end. Or anyway, I thought it would work out.

I don't know why. I've asked myself this approximately 372 times, and my answer is still the same. I don't know. Perhaps because in the beginning it seemed like we were supposed to?

So in the last couple years I've really, really worked on myself. I've gotten past some huge, heavy things. Not like stones in your pockets, encouraging you to Virginia Woolf into the current, but still weigher-downers. The kinds of things that prevent you from being able to offer and accept a healthy version of love.

And so I think I'm pretty close to healed, almost fixed, and very self-aware, and blah blah blah.

But what I've discovered this week is this. You can close doors and think they're closed. You can move forward. You can be really, really happy in your present.

In fact, you can have a present you never thought you'd be lucky enough to have, and the plans for a future together that you wouldn't trade for anything.

And yet a friendly email from behind this closed door of your past, offering you stuff that you left behind, which was found while moving, can still kick you hard in the stomach. Can still leave you sobbing, absolutely turned inside-out sobbing, on the floor.

Which you can only do in the downstairs bathroom for so long before your absence is questioned.

The guilt of crying in response to an email from someone very significant in your past but not part of your current life does nothing to mitigate your hysteria, incidentally. It only makes you cry harder.

You feel like a jerk. And you don't really understand why you're crying.

Is it that you just stopped contact one day, but never really dealt with it? Is this the final mourning?

Is it the fear of never having been important in the first place?

More terrifying, is it that if that person, the one who, until Nick, loved you more than anyone ever had, and who you believed was always, always going to love you, could stop. . .well, then is it possible that the one you intend to marry, who says he will be forever ever ever, might stop loving you one day as well?

You wail this fear, because it is real and present. You're practically incoherent, but it gets across. You are assured this is not the case.

And then, later and calmer, you wonder if maybe partly you really needed a good cry, and this was the perfect catalyst.

If you are me, sometimes it's very hard to tell.

In the light of day, albeit with huge swollen eyes and a fragile ego, I can say this one positive thing. I used to cry like that at least once a month, if not more often. In my really bad strung-along year, I cried like that just about every day.

And this? Was all new to Nick. He'd never seen anything like this from me.

In fact, I've not been this hugely upset in a year.

I think it's progress.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Vaseline and stripey socks

I have a number of favorite products: Vaseline, duct tape, hair dryer, yellow sticky notes, and Sharpie pens. This list gets added to occasionally, but these are the things that have been on it for years, things I do not want to live without.

Writing it out like that, it occurs to me that this could be a great list of products for a kidnapping or heist or something. Don't you think?

Anyway. Vaseline. This is a product I seriously use for just about everything.

I use it to take off my eye make up at night. If my nails or the ends of my hair are really dry, I'll put a little on my fingertips and rub it in. In the winter, I slather it everywhere, even on my face. I'm constantly smearing it on my elbows, knees, and feet, even in summer.

I stick Vaseline on keys when locks are cranky. I've put it on door hinges. Hell, if something in the house seems dry, squeaky, or in some way uncooperative, Vaseline is my answer. I realize it's probably not always the right answer, but so far it's worked.

We have a ginormous jar of Vaseline - like, so huge I could fit my entire hand in and use it as a scoop if I wanted. Clearly I am not on the non-petroleum bandwagon. I would be chagrined to give it up.

The last two nights I've slathered Vaseline on my feet, put on little footie socks, and gone to bed. Your body temperature goes up at night, the socks keep the moisture in, and in the morning, your feet are in great shape.

I definitely recommend it. My formerly dry feet are super-moisturisey happy smooth right now.

The only downside of this treatment is that if you tend to sleep in not a whole lot, and you don't sleep alone, you might bear in mind that prancing into bed in your footie socks is not a pretty look.

On the continuum of hot things to wear to bed, footie socks are on the very low end of the scale.

You could, in fact, face a significant amount of ridicule. It might surprise you to hear that it won't even necessarily help if your socks are of the cute stripey orange and red with little silver sparkles variety.

So whatever. It's not a good look for anyone.

I do realize this.

Which is the main reason I didn't do my hands at the same time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I love DC summer. Love love love.

Someone said it's going to be in the 90s! I'm so excited!

I feel more alive in summer than any other time. Something about the heat and sunshine just makes me feel good. I'm probably a little reptilian in that way.

There are 54 gazillion things I love about summer. Here's the barest beginnings of a list.

Sunshine so hot it settles into your bones and warms up your soul
The childhood-inducing smell of Coppertone
Breezy little sundresses
Flip flops
Happy hour cocktails outside
Waking up to sunshine and going home from work in the light
The smell of meat grilling
Tank tops
Walking barefoot in grass
The heat-induced laziness of a Saturday afternoon
Big floppy cotton hats
Sweating like crazy when you go for a run
Super cute platforms with flowers on them
Gazpacho appearing on restaurant menus
Sweet corn, especially grilled till it's crispy
Diving into the pool after getting so hot you can't stand it another second
Hot sand sliding through your toes at the beach
The cool dark of the movie theatre on the hottest evening
The lovely lazy stretch of an entire sunny Saturday with nothing you have to do

Can you tell how much I want to be stretched out in the sun with a book, an icy iced tea with lemon, so cold it sweats the second you walk out the door, and no agenda?


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And then we'd all get home and fix ourselves a nice gin and tonic and light cigarettes

Yesterday we got all the way to Nick's office in downtown DC before I realized I wasn't wearing my seat belt.

Somehow I was distracted when I got in the car and forgot to fasten it.

I always wear my seat belt. Always always always.

Not only am I a first-born-rule-follower, but whenever you're in the car, you realize how many stupid people are driving around you. Fully half the people on the road drive like they've had head injuries. No?

So the seat belts, air bags, and of course, just in case, those hammers to break your windshield, one if which I have, thanks to Laura, are a really good idea. There's no reason not to be as careful as possible.

But as a kid? I don't even think our car had seat belts.

This post is going to make our parents sound incredibly irresponsible, but you need to understand, it was a different era entirely. Before people knew that smoking causes cancer, for example.

Not to get all public safety on you.


When we lived in Bangladesh, we had the oldest VW bug you can imagine. We inherited it from someone who had just left the post. The top half of the headlights were painted black, because of cautionary blackouts during the war.

The floor of the back seat rotted out one monsoon season, and for a while we just drove with it like that. You could see the road underneath.

My father would joke that when he yelled "stop!" we should put our feet down, like the Flintstones.

Us kids, we loved it. It was very exciting.

Eventually they got it fixed. With plywood. It was post-war Bangladesh - what do you want?

Nick said that his family had a Chevy Corvaire, which I'd never heard of, but apparently is partly how Ralph Nader made a name for himself, with "Unsafe at Any Speed." Turns out they were really tall cars that tipped over shockingly easily.

What Nick remembers about their height was that as a little kid he was able to stand up. In the passenger seat. Without a seat belt. While his parents were driving.

This was rivaled, he said, only by the excitement of "surfing" on top of the station wagon. To be fair, his mom was driving really slowly while weaving down the driveway.

I also remember that my dad used to let me drive. In Bangladesh. Not in Egypt, because there was just too much traffic craziness. But I'd sit in his lap and steer the car. Nick said his parents did the same thing.

You think about how Britney got in such trouble for fleeing from the paparazzi with her kid in her lap. And then you contrast this with a five-year old me steering the car into the median, panicking.

Meanwhile, my Dad was all shockingly calm. "Turn a little more to the right, sweetheart."

Monday, June 02, 2008

The kind of cure-all you're reluctant to embrace

I have this sore spot right under my nose. The technical term, one Maude and I made up years ago, is nose rot.

Rot is actually a great word. It sounds alarming when paired with a body part.

For example, if you had a rash on your elbow, you'd have elbow rot. You see what I'm saying. It makes your issue all the more official.

So my nose. It's red and slightly raw, like when you've had a bad cold and blown your nose too much. Except that I haven't actually been blowing my nose.

I think it's allergy-related.

When I saw the doctor last week she said it was just an irritation, and to put a little cortisone on it. But not too much, because then you can have a rebound, where it calms down but then after you stop the cortisone, comes back that much worse.

I knew what she was talking about. I've had that exact thing happen to me. I had rosacea years ago and a doctor recommended daily cortisone. And then when I stopped, it was terrible.

The doctor, when I asked if this bout of nose rot is likely related to rosacea, said she thought not.

I've been holding off, though. Because now cortisone scares me a little.

So the last time we were at my parents house, my dad pointed out my red nose.

He is incredibly observant. Always. Because it's a really small red spot. You have to be looking for it, practically. Or looking up my nose. But not that many people are shorter than me, so that rarely happens.

I think about these things. Because I spend a decent amount of time peering up taller people's noses.

"What's with your nose?"

"I dunno. I have some kind of nose rot."

He takes a closer look. "You what will clear that right up?"


My dad worked in public health for years. He knows a remarkable amount about medicine. I'm delighted he seems to know exactly what to do for this.

"You could just stick a little Preparation H on it."


I had at some point read in a women's magazine that in a pinch you can use Preparation H to combat really bad under eye circles, because basically it restricts blood vessels. However, it still seems like something designed specifically for your anus might not really be what you want to stick on your face.

I'm just saying.

So I've been holding out on that advice as well.