Friday, August 29, 2008

Power scarf

I made this scarf for a dear friend who has breast cancer. If you're inclined to click on the image, you can see a much bigger version.

I designed it to be a power scarf. I put a lot of positive energy into it, and I'm hoping the boldness of color and all of the elements help her feel powerful.

It started out white, and first I dyed it fuchsia. Then I clamped CDs down the one side, because one, I like the pattern, and two, they look like breasts - don't you think? And then just scrunched and clamped the other side, so it looks like it has a long lifeline running down it. Next I overdyed it in a warm red.

Because she has spent so much time in Southeast Asia, I screen printed an Indian design that I particularly like on top.

Powerful? I hope so.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

To be filed under things I do not understand

I just don't understand peep-toe boots.

Tej IMed me to ask me where I stand on the peep-toe ankle bootie. And I had to admit I hadn't given it any thought.

So I Googled. To form a concrete opinion.

Nine West is a brand I like. And yet, they say on their website, about this peep-toe bootie to the left, "This ankle bootie is ready to be the life of your closet!"

Um, no.

It could be that I am entirely wrong about this. But I think they're just plain ugly. And unflattering. And dumb.

Boots? They are for winter. For warmth.

Poking a hole in the toe? Opening up the back? This makes them the opposite of warm.

It's more of a shoe bootie. A shootie?

So I recognize full well that one could call me the opposite of trendy. Which would be, well, I don't know what.

The truth is, I haven't been trendy since Reagan, or maybe Bush senior. The last time I can remember really trying was high school. When, at various points, I had: a Cyndi Lauper criss-cross shaved into the side of my head; pegged jeans; a short on one side, long on the other bob; a neon green "Relax" t-shirt; bright blue mascara; neon orange nailpolish; and jelly flats.

I think you could genuinely have called me trendy back then.

And even then, I didn't have a pair of ankle booties. I wanted some, though. But we lived in India, and there weren't any to be had. I did covet this bright blue pair belonging to one of my French classmates.

So my taste was questionable. But trendy!

But I digress.

What's with this peep-toe bootie business? I'd like to know. Is it that designers get bored of making pretty things? Or they want to see how far they can push people?

They aren't attractive on their own, and they flatter pretty much nobody. I think it's one of those things that women will buy because it's trendy, and men will hate because they aren't hot, and after a few wearings those booties will be shoved to the back of the closet, sad, lonely, and partying all by themselves.

Or maybe men do think they're hot? I don't presume to understand what fires men up, and sometimes it's things I truly don't understand. Maybe men love the peep-toe ankle bootie? And not in a cross-dressing kind of way?

I'd say no, all around no, but I've been wrong about these things before.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shopping at Costco, or why I am glad I haven't given up profanity

If you have ever spent any significant amount of time at Costco, you know that profanity can make you feel better.

Also, if you are remotely prone to ECD, do not shop at Costco in a vulnerable moment. You should know that nothing will make you feel like you lead a more pedestrian, hopelss existence spending than a large portion of a Saturday there.

Perhaps they aren't all like this. But the one at Pentagon City, while a bargain, just makes you want to stab yourself in the eyes.

Particularly if you buy tires. Because for one thing, even if you get there when it opens, it is an eternal process. Not necessarily because the line is so long.

More because people will get to the front of the line and be all, "Hi. . .I'm here for. . .tires? What kind? Well, I think I need. . .round ones. With. . .treads? I suppose. . .black ones?"

And then the guy at the counter walks the person around to the tires. While the rest of you wait.

If you've never said the fuck word before, this would be a satisfying time to start. Because it sucks an immense amount of ass.

And then, if you come back later in the day to pick up your car, which they did a perfectly nice job on - it's not that the service isn't good, because it is - you might decide to get some bulk shopping done before you leave.

Which you will instantly regret. And which pulls out even more profanity.

Because your fellow Costco shoppers? They are probably perfectly nice human beings, but they careen around in slow motion like they've had head injuries. It's like that movie where the zombies come back to life and eat living people. They stagger around slowly and confusedly, but hone in on live flesh.

Nick asked if I'd rather spend a day covered in beetle larvae or walking around Costco barefoot with ingrown toenails. It's a hard choice.

If this doesn't pull out fuck, fuck, and more fuck from the least profane among us, I simply don't know what will.

Heckfire? My ass.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Which would just be so awkward if you ever got arrested

So, I don't know how much you know about zebras. And really my knowledge of them is very slim.

But here is what I learned last week. You tell zebras apart by their buttprints! Actually, they refer to them as rumps rather than butts. Rump-prints!

If you click on the image, the sign explains how they tell Benjamin, Conrad, and Gao apart. Look at their cute little stripey zebra rumps!

And so then of course, in the same way that while I was reading that monkey sex article I wondered how that might work with people, I started thinking, "Thank goodness it's our thumbs and not our butts!"

I realize most of us don't get fingerprinted all the time. In fact, I'm trying to remember the last time I did. Maybe for a passport?

But don't they have fingerprint swipe machines at the airport? Nick's laptop has one, instead of having to type a password. You could never have butt-swipe machines in the airport or the office without huge liability.

There'd be the constant threat of a lawsuit for indecent exposure. Someone would complain that their colleague flashed them. And the guy would defend himself, saying, "I was just logging in to my laptop!"

And then I was thinking how much harder it would make things for detectives. Instead of being able to match the fingerprints on the drinking glass with those on file, I suppose they'd have to get buttprints off toilet seats?

"This buttprint, found on a toilet at O'Hare, matches the one the FBI has on file..."

Plus, at the police station, it would be all, "OK, look at the camera. Now pull down your pants and gently place your left cheek on the ink pad."

Awkward. Very awkward.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So on the one hand, it really sucks, but if you're not actually a terrorist, it does seem to have its perks

My flight to San Diego was out of Dulles at 8:23 on a Saturday morning.

I'd checked in online the day before, and got to Dulles about 7:10. The line for people who had already checked in but had to check a bag was only marginally shorter than the other line. And it crawled. Which makes you feel like really, what's the point?

Usually I try to only bring a carry-on, but this time I'd simply packed too many shoes. The price of vanity.

The line was painfully slow. I zoned out and shuffled along as the line progressed.

There was a thin, blonde, twitchy woman in front of me with her thin, blonde, bored teenage daughter. The woman kept craning her neck and scanning.

"Do you see Daddy? Where did they take him?"

You could tell they'd had this conversation before. The daughter had very calm responses.

"I don't know."

"I just can't believe they have him on that terrorist watch list."

"It's because of his name."

"He doesn't have a terrorist name. It's not like he has a Middle Eastern, terrorist-sounding name."

"No, Mom. You know it's because he has a totally cheesy ordinary name that terrorists like to use as aliases."

"I know. I know."

I was itching to ask what Daddy's name was. But didn't.

Time passed. The line barely moved. The woman looked around every few seconds.

"Here he is!"

Daddy - an innocuous looking white guy - appeared. Empty handed.

"Where are your bags?"

Daddy replied, "They put them through."

"Well, clearly it's a better deal to be on the terrorist watch list."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The good news is, it's not contagious

I have a massive case of Existential Crisis Disorder (ECD).

For those of you to whom this happens, you know the ECD arrives remarkably quickly. It is like the undertow, which grips you firmly and darkly while swimming through life on a sunny day. Sudden, stealthy, and completely in charge.

It's not gradual. I never wade in, or if I do, I don't notice the wade. No. For me it's always a body slam.

For those of you who never slide into a pit of despair, let me explain one thing. I know, with my brain, that I have a good life. I have more than many, and more than I've had in a long, long time, and I am lucky. All around lucky.

I don't know exactly where I am going, but I have some general idea. And I know who I'm going with. This time, I'm not actually alone.

And yet, what I feel is that I am living a very small and pointless life.

I know what precipitated this. I know that a few things triggered it; I just don't know how to make it go away.

Betty, who cannot relate to ECD, and had no idea that I'd fallen into the pit, called this afternoon to talk wedding and see how I was doing.

How I am?

"Fine, except for leading a small, utterly prosaic, and pointless life, devoid of anything remotely meaningful or any hope whatsoever."

Hardly what your mother expects to hear on a beautiful Sunday, five weeks before your wedding.

"Well, sweetheart, how do you think getting married will change this?"

"It won't. I suppose we'll just keep leading our small, pointless lives together."

"I see. Does Nick know how small and pointless his life is?"

"No. He sounded like he was having a good day, so I thought I'd wait till he gets home to tell him."

Friday, August 22, 2008

And so I may not need to clean up my profane act after all

I recently began to wonder if I should work on being less profane. It would be a true and utter struggle for someone who drops the F-word as casually and often as I seem to.

Apparently when I was three or four, my grandmother - my dad's mom - was telling my mother about how Catholic they were, and how they never swore, and basically, how all around holy they were.

And to Betty's complete and utter horror, I, sitting under the table, said, "Oh Jesus Christ." In the same tone exasperated tone Betty would use when, oh, the back floor of the car fell out, or something.

At least I had a better mouth in English than I did in Hindi.

But back to today's profanity situation.

It started with a random article in a magazine someone left in the lobby of my building. I think it was Self. This woman used the F-word at a company picnic, and her husband criticized her, saying it made her sound crass. She chronicled her path to eliminating profanity from her vocabulary.

I didn't find it all that interesting, I must admit, so I can't remember if she was entirely successful or just mostly. She had tips like coming up with substitute words - Fudge! - in lieu of swear words. Say them out loud. Even if people think you're a little nutty!


So I must admit that while I was reading the article I was all, "Ohferfuckssake, like I'm really going to be all 'Ding dang!' in lieu of 'Damn!'"

And then, days later, I was at the San Diego zoo. Which, if you've never been, and even if you generally avoid zoos like the plague because they make you so sad, is actually really, really cool.

While there I got an incredibly irritating email from a colleague. I made the mistake of reading it on my new BlackBerry.

"God fucking dammit! She's such a see you next Tuesday!"

The C-word is one I almost never say. Really, probably only Nick hears me say it. And it's only when I'm really, really furious with someone. In which case I am prone to referring to the loathed person as a "bitch-faced see you next Tuesday," which makes him laugh. He'd like to know what bitch-faced looks like.

Also, I don't use motherf***er. I will say "em-er eff-er" when necessary. But I simply can't say the whole word.

So. The fucking dammits. And the zoo. Where, one of my companions later pointed out, there are many, many children.

She thought about pointing that out while we were there, but then just left it. She has a foul mouth, but she's a mom, so she censors around kids. I hadn't given it a drop of thought since last summer, clearly.

This, coupled with the "just say fudge!" article really made me wonder if I should clean up my act.

I asked Nick if he thought I should cut down on the profanity, and he said, "Years ago I got set up with this beautiful woman. She was gorgeous and really nice. I was excited. And then, on our first date, she was telling me about something that made her really angry. She said she was 'mad as heckfire!' about it."


"Yes. And I never asked her out again. Because I just couldn't be with someone who said 'heckfire.' Who the fuck is 'mad as heckfire' when they're really mad?"

"People in Alabama?"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brain on very low power, which will be immediately evident. But hi! I missed you!

So I don't know if you've ever been at a conference - actually a fantastic conference - and woken up with just enough time to make it to an 8:30 am session as long as you didn't bathe?


In this case, if you are me, you would be so thankful you only have three outfit choices, even though you have seven pairs of shoes to choose from. You would also be thankful that your hair is now long enough to pull back.

On your way out the door it might occur to you to quickly rifle through your purse to make sure you have everything essential, like your badge and lip gloss. And in the process, you might then come across a Mexico Tourism! shot glass with residual dried tequila. And a box of Animal Crackers.

At which point you might be thinking that while of course the conference is an excellent learning and networking opportunity, you have maybe also been having too much fun.

And then you are forced to ask yourself, as you propel yourself out the door with as much celerity as possible under these circumstances, the following question: When you are having too much fun, why does tequila always seem like such a great idea?

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Day in Court, or, a Guest Blog for the Faithful

Lisa asked me, Nick, if I would guest blog while she is in San Diego. So, here is the story from my perspective.

As we were getting ready for bed one night last week, Lisa walked out of the bathroom, toothbrush in mouth, and asked "What would you do if we got into a fight and I swallowed my engagement ring?" She raised her toothbrush in the air as she asked; however, this did nothing to soften the whole mouth-full-o-toothpaste aspect.

Now I want you to picture the scene - I am sitting in bed, facing Lisa as she stared at me while awaiting my answer. Waving her frothy toothbrush in the air for emphasis. It was not one of those situations where the questioner was going to go away if confronted by silence.


"You heard me. If I swallowed my ring? What would you do?"

"This is not a conversation that needs perpetuating."

"What would you do, seriously?"

If you read on a regular basis, you know Lisa. I know Lisa. There was no dodging this one - the die was cast. So, before we were going to be able to sleep that night the question was going to have to be resolved to her satisfaction.

"I would probably take you to the hospital, as I'm pretty sure the edges on it would cut your insides?

"How? What would they cut?"

Now, I started off college pre-med. I did it for one term before I realized that I hated lab. However, I do recall from my youth our family dogs eating all sorts of detritus (crayons, string, socks, marbles) that what goes in will eventually come out. And the ring has some fairly acute edges.

"I am sure the prongs would cut you on the way out."

"Are you sure? How do you know that?"

This is exactly where I didn't want to be - defending a thesis concerning the anatomical mishaps that would result from an engagement ring's passage through one's alimentary canal. Recall, in fact, that I was the one already in bed and bent on sleep when the question arose. This required a change in tactics - I had to go on the offensive.

"I just think so. Why would you ever swallow the ring in the first place? What have you been reading?"

"I was just wondering. Would you strain it out of my pooh?"

"Sweetheart, I bought that ring. I am still paying for it. Yes, I would strain it from your pooh."

Lisa laughed a little bit and went back into the bathroom to spit. Finally.

In just a few more seconds, both of us were in bed, the lights were out, and we were both happy about the way things worked out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

As if San Diego weren't enough of a treat!

Tomorrow I head to San Diego for a conference. It's going to be a great learning and networking opportunity.

And, um, did I say it was in San Diego?!?

Of course this is about work, but if you can pack in some pleasure, I think the universe obligates you to. It's good for your soul, and the world as a whole. No?

I fly in early enough Saturday that I get to spend some time with lovely Jane, who now lives in LA, and with whom, once again, I'm going to get a sparkly rhinestone pedicure, and hang out on the beach, and drink beer at our old haunt in Pacific Beach. Yippee!

And then the conference starts that night and Sunday there's a bunch of conference conference blah blah blah.

And then Sunday night! I have the huge pleasure of meeting Slightly Disorganized! I am immensely excited about this!

Contrary to her chosen moniker, however, she seems Very Organized. So then I started thinking, "Crap, if she's that organized, and she thinks she is not, she's going to realize the true chaos that is me."

Because when I asked Nick what he was going to do for five days without me? He got this glazed look on his face and said, "Ohhh, the house is going to be so clean."

Honestly. He looked all dreamy. I think he'll miss me, though. Tidy gets dull after a while.

So anyway, Slightly Disorganized is willing to drive all the way down from Orange County so we can have dinner! I have driven on the 5 plenty and I know precisely how kind this offer is. I feel so lucky!

And I can predict - I am sure of this - that we will feel like old friends catching up. It will be all fun and easy and giggly. Rather than all awkwardly, "Sooo, nice weather and how's the salmon?" kind of conversation.

Anyway, I think I am going to wear this super cute brown Susana Monaco dress that I have. Although maybe I should wear something else that goes better with these really fun new high high gold! platform shoes...which sound tacky but they are not. Or maybe they are a little and I just don't know it because they make me 5'8" and I will do a lot for 5'8"-ness in this life.

I think they're not, though...

But the silliness of this is as follows. As soon as she said she'd happily come down so we could meet and have dinner, I was all, "Oh no! What am I going to wear? Maybe I should buy something? Even though I have plenty of cute dresses and I'm trying to save money at the moment?"

Because you figure someone you know virtually, whose blog you read, who reads yours, would like you for you. But you also want to seem like someone cool that they'd really want to know in person too, you know?

Or is this just silly?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Because if you can't be "yay, me!" on your birthday, when can you, really?

Thank you all so much for the lovely messages! You are all amazing, and you helped to make this one a great birthday!

I got cards and calls and emails and the best comments. I got a charming round amber vase full of orange Gerber daisies from lovely Jen, who now lives in Macedonia and appreciates orange at least as much as I do. Another friend gave me a Turkey travel book. Perfect!

And at the end of the day Nick and a couple old friends took me out for wine and delicious dinner at Proof. It's my favorite wine bar, by far.

For my birthday, Nick gave me a fabulous camera. It's digital, with a big lens, and can do all kinds of things that I have yet to learn. He was so excited about it he gave it to me two days early. He just couldn't stand the waiting. And he showed up with it in hand, so we could get some practice.

Nick spent the evening taking pictures of everything and everyone. All of us, our server, a wine glass...We invited a guy who was clearly waiting for someone to join us while he waited, but he poliately declined. So we offered to take his picture. Which he also declined.

On the way home, we stopped at the FDR Memorial. It's where we got engaged in February. Last night's weather was just so beautiful - much gentler and inviting of tarrying than that cold, clear winter night. Which, come to think of it, I don't think I've written about.

So I stood in the spot where he proposed. I know you can't really see the Washington Monument in the background, but it's there. And I raised my birthday sunflowers high. Victory! Yay, me!

There were a surprising number of people touristing and strolling for as late as it was. We accosted a couple walking by and asked them to take our picture. It was near midnight, and I'm pretty sure they were heading down to the enjoy the romance of the monuments shining on the water, but they kindly stopped and obliged.

We thanked them.

And then Nick was all, "Here, do you want us to take a picture of you?"

Which they most definitely didn't.

You can't take him anywhere. Even in the dark.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A modest birthday wish. I mean, aside from world peace

Today I am a little older and a little wiser! Or anyway, older.

I'd like to thank you for seeing me into another year. Most of you I have never met in person, and yet you have been endlessly supportive and lovely and funny and genuinely, an important part of my life.

This sounds silly sending out into cyberspace - "Hi! Thanks everyone out there I don't know!" But those of you who blog know it can be such an affirmation of the kindness in the world, and that it connects you to such wonderful people. Call me sappy. I don't care.

I feel like I've gotten so much from all of you, and yet, greedily, I'd like to ask for a little more. So if you'd be willing to grant me a birthday wish, I would greatly appreciate it.

What I would like from you is some little piece of information, some clue about you. Some of you played this last year. If you did, I would love it if you'd indulge me anyway. Update me. I might ask for this for as long as I blog.

There are those of you who I know in person, or have at least met face-to-face. And there are those of you I feel like I know, because I read your blogs. Or because you comment and make me think and giggle and give me a little glimpse into you.

And there are lots of you I know absolutely nothing about. But I assume we must have something in common, or you wouldn't be visiting LG.

What I am always most curious about is how you wound up here and what made you come back. And if there's anything you'd like to see more of, what that might be.

But being a person who loves surprises, I am open to anything. So if you could tell me something, any little thing about you, really, I'd love it.

Seriously anything. Like maybe what time you got up today, or your favorite snack food, or a book you like, or how you take your coffee, or perhaps even what color underwear you're wearing - anything at all, I'd love to know. You could argue that this really tells me nothing about you, but I would have to disagree.

Every choice says something. Even if I don't know precisely what. In all candor, I just like knowing things about people who visit.

Thanks for reading, and for seeing me through the ups and downs and arounds of the past year.

Big hugs to all!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And I have slept so much better ever since

We have tickets to and from Istanbul. And that's still as far as we've gotten.

We have not yet worked out where we're staying in Istanbul, or for how long, or which other cities (beyond Ephesus, which is supposed to be extraordinary) we want to visit while we're there.

We do, however, have one piece of the trip firmly under control.

While we were at Nick's parents' house a couple weeks ago, we were talking to his dad about our honeymoon travels. He asked where we were connecting. Nick said he thought Frankfurt.

It turns out his dad, in his years of travel for work, has gone through that airport a million times. They started talking details - what time we're getting in, how long the layover is, etc.

While this detailed exchange was going on, Betty and I got into a far more interesting conversation with his mother about Turkish rugs and crafts.

At some point Nick interrupted. And said, "Sweetie! My dad knows exactly where we should have lunch on our layover!"

Big sigh of relief. Lord knows we wouldn't want to miss a meal.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You just never know who knows who knows who and which path leads where

This might sound all advice-y, and I am sure that some of you might wonder who I think I am to give advice, considering all the ups and downs of my dating life. But it's more like a "life is random and you just never know."

Nick and I have four random connections to each other.

Not direct connections, but I can't help thinking that if the universe had lined up in a particular way one day or another, we could've met through four different people. It would be a stretch, I realize, and would've involved extreme coincidence - or fate - depending. I fall more on the coincidence side in life, while others believe in fate.

But anyway.

Person 1: A woman he works with used to date a friend of mine. I'd met her once before, a couple years ago. We see her at my social gatherings. And Nick's work functions.

Person 2: One of the guys he works and his wife both went to college with my high school friend Wendy. They're still very close friends. Wendy is the one who realized the connection.

Peson 3: Another colleague and his wife went to high school with Maude in New York. She and I were talking about where she grew up and I said I only knew one person who was there for a few years in high school, and she was all, "Maude! It was a big school, and we were friends!" What are the odds?

Person 4: And yesterday, I clicked on another high school friend's Facebook page, and left it open. Nick looked at my screen, and asked how I knew the guy. I said, "India." Turns out Nick went to college with his older brother.

While I love the whole less than six degrees of separation-ness of it, it also make me think about the world this way. Because it's not so long ago that I was single and looking. And so here's what I'd like to remind people who are.

You never know which paths will lead you to your One of 26 (or however many).

I don't think it's a bad thing to let people know you're single. Not desperately, introduce-me-to-anyone single. But hoping-to-meet-someone-great single. Because you never know who will run into who after all these years, or whose cousin or college roommate will be in town for the weekend, or what.

I'm not saying that singledom isn't good, or that one should spend every moment trying to attain couplehood, rather than just enjoying life. But what I am saying is, if you're anything like me, finding the person is a priority.

And you just never know who knows who knows who, who might just suit you really well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The kind of questions that make Nick wish he were religious, so he could say, "Lord, give me patience."

"So. . ."


"If we had a big fight and I got really mad at you and in a fit of anger just went ahead and swallowed my ring. . ."

"So mad you swallowed your ring?"


"On purpose?"

"Yes. Would you wait to see if it came out in my poo?"

"I see this as a conversation topic not worth perpetuating."

"Yah, I know. But would you?"

Friday, August 08, 2008

How's that working out for ya?

Oh, wow. I was looking back through saved draft blog posts, and found the rant below. While I will delete you from my cell phone faster than you can blink, my drafts stick around forever.

My world has changed immensely since writing this, but I feel like there's value in posting it, as an acknowledgement of where I was.

People say I'm lucky - lucky to have met the one, and lucky not to be dating anymore. Both true. I tell people that I worked really hard - on myself and in the dating world - to get to a place where I could be ready to meet the person and sustain a healthy relationship.

I really tackled my personal crap. And I went out with so many people I can't even remember them all to count. The approach I took was, if the person was out there, and dating in the greater DC metropolitan area, I was going to meet him. And he was.

But I digress. This was written September 25, 2007.

Just so you know, this is coming from a place of extreme crankyness today.

Like, I'd never kick a puppy, but I might make a really mean, scary face at a kid if he were screaming near me. I'm certain I would. Apparently I gave one of my not-so-favorite colleagues an eyes narrowed, mouth set in a line, look of death in a meeting earlier. Poker face? Not so much ever ever ever.

Sometimes, when I am having conversations with men on dates, the topic of type will come up. Do I have a type?

Me? Heh.

And so I tend to very candidly say that yes, I have historically had a type. And that I have dated a lot of men who, as I've said many times on LG, are very bright, very successful, anger-driven workaholics. Sometimes I leave out the anger-driven part.

What surprises me is the number of men who will look at you and ask some version of, "How's that working out for you?"

The first time someone asked me, I thought it was a joke. It's a funny thing to say, right? I mean, I'm clearly single, because, um, I'm out on a date. With you.

I laughed the first time. But he meant it sincerely. As have others.

How is that working out for me? Seriously?

This causes me to pause, furrow my brow, tilt my head, and silently go, "Huh."

And so I figure I have one of two options. I can, very sincerely, explain why overall this hasn't been a great thing for my psyche. I can open up a conversation about what may have led to all these choices, why ultimately they didn't work out, blah blah blah.

Or, I can, as I have taken to doing, say, "Oh, my God! It's worked out so well for me! I've been happily married for two years at this point!"

And if that causes the person in front of me to roll their eyes, I feel like that response somewhat makes up for the stupidity of the question.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cowbirds and egg hatching. Or, a fine example of why it's all for the best that tomorrow is Friday.

This is totally random, and if you wonder what kind of crazy I am peddling, this might give you some idea. If you didn't know already.

So, this very bold little bird strutted across my path the other day. I've seen birds get aggressive when defending nests, and this made me start thinking about baby birds. And nesting. And eggs.

And then I started thinking, you know, it might be better if we hatched out of eggs, rather than being born. I am sure this idea currently appeals to me as I have more and more friends who are pregnant or have recently had a baby, and are sharing a multitude of graphic, painful, and alarming tidbits.

But beyond my own fear of pain and stretching and tearing and such, this hatching from eggs could solve a lot of problems, I think. I don't mean like being all genetically engineered and decanted and brainwashed, all Brave New Worldishly. I mean this.

I haven't worked out the details. But broadly, my thinking is along these lines. If we hatched out of eggs, then only the people who really, really wanted to have kids, and were willing and able to be vigilant and to nurture their egg would have them.

If people hatched, there wouldn't be babies with fetal alcohol syndrome, or babies born to mothers with serious drug problems, or to really young teens who stick them in the trash in a junior high school bathroom. Foe example. Someone would have to take responsibility for the egg till it hatched, or it just wouldn't hatch.

The teenagers who accidentally got pregnant would likely leave their eggs under the bleachers in the football stadium. Women without the ability to care for a kid, for whatever reason - alcohol, drugs, whatever - who got knocked up might leave their eggs in some random corner. And these eggs just wouldn't hatch.

If you got pregnant but didn't want the baby, you could give your egg to someone who really wanted a kid to take care of until it hatched. It would be a huge and obvious commitment, and one would have to take constant care of it to make sure that it would hatch into a healthy kid. One couldn't, for example, take it on a roller coaster at an amusement park. Scrambled egg? Not hatching.

I arrived at work with this idea in my head, and ran into Marta. She said, after rolling her eyes and laughing, sure, maybe, unless there were lots of people who behaved like cowbirds. Cowbirds?

She'd just been reading about cowbirds, which she'd heard described as the "lazy sluts of the bird world" - or something like that. (The technical term, it turns out, is "brood parasite.")

She sent me this cowbird information from Audobon. Basically, rather than making their own nests and hatching their own eggs, they stick their eggs in other nests and trick other birds into incubating their eggs and raising their chicks. Which works if you're a bird. You're just trying to propagate your species, no?

Obviously this wouldn't work with humans; if you really wanted your child, you couldn't just stick your egg in someone else's care and expect to get your kid back. You could, however, pay someone for pre-natal babysitting.

I suppose you'd have to find a way to mark your egg as yours, to prevent someone nefariously swapping eggs with you, or having your supermarket cart with your egg in it getting accidentally switched with that of another shopper. Maybe you'd have a very distinctive egg cozy. Or you could color on it with crayons or something. I definitely wouldn't dye it like an Easter egg - hot water and dye would probably not be good for it.

So, I don't know if you ever find yourself thinking about something, and then decide to write it down, just because, and then you kind of get into it. And then you realize that you've gotten to the point of suggesting that, really, for safety's sake, you probably shouldn't dye your pre-hatched progeny.

Seriously? What?

Happy Thursday, everyone.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

College roommates

I was walking in front of two very young, southern-accented women the other day. They were talking about horrible summer roommates - how messy they were, and how glad they were to go home for a couple weeks. And then they started talking about the impending fall semester.

Fall semester is years and years past for me. But thinking about it still gives me a bad stomach feeling.

I've not written much about my college experience, but those were difficult years. Culture shock and not knowing where I was or who I was or what I was doing. In North Carolina, in the US, in life...

I have so many not-proud moments from college. If I could take it all back, and do it all over, I'd make just about every decision differently.

We moved to the US a month before I started at Chapel Hill. I had two roommates in a tiny dorm room. The next year those same rooms were doubles, and even so, they were small. With no AC.

My one roommate, Leah, showed up wearing a tie-dye T-shirt with dancing bears and Birkenstocks. She was from North Carolina, but had spent the summer working and traveling in California. The last time I saw her, she was living in Germany. We're still friends.

The other, Laura, was a cheerleader from Goldsboro. She looked Leah up and down and wrinkled her nose. Rejected her outright. I, on the other hand, looked normalish. She turned her attention to me.

"So, where are you from?" she asked, with a hair flip and a strong North Carolina accent.

"Well, I went to high school in India."

"India? Now, where is that?"

So I diligently pulled out my world map, and pointed out India.


Clearly not normal enough. Which turned out to be a pretty common reaction, I discovered. India? Oh.

Leah and I hit it off; Laura had nothing to say to either of us. It got awkward fast.

Now, I spent a great deal of time that year crying and eating chocolate, and just generally being lost and miserable. Thanks to those activities, I packed on 30 pounds that year. Which only made me more miserable.

You couldn't truthfully say that I was the perkiest of roommates.

And Leah, well, she very kindly spent a good deal of the time she didn't spend experimenting with drugs and boys babysitting me, if I look back fairly and honestly. And the babysitting often took the form of drinking beer or Purple Jesus (if any of you remember Everclear punch) at frat parties and such. It's not that their weren't fun moments. But they always involved too much alcohol.

So maybe we weren't the easiest pair for a cheerleader from Goldsboro.

She was a control freak, which is hard when there are things beyond your control. She'd fold her laundry damp if it was taking more than the allotted time to dry. I'm not kidding. And who do you know who can buy a packet of M&Ms - one of the small packets - and eat three or four, and leave the rest on her desk?

Laura spent much of the couple months she lived with us sitting in the hall on our phone, fighting with her boyfriend, who was a sophomore at Carolina. She didn't talk to much of anyone, so when people later asked who our roommate had been, we'd say the brunette with the flippy hair who spent all her time on the phone in the hall. The one who had gotten so mad at her boyfriend on the phone that she'd punched the wall that one time. And then they knew.

At some point she stopped speaking to us entirely, and moved out one weekend. We knew she was moving out only because we'd taken to reading her journal. We made sure to be gone all day that day.

She knew we'd been reading her journal, because - and I am not proud of this - we would drop little things she'd written into conversation. Conversation between the two of us, of course. Because she did her best to act like we weren't there, and if she was asked anything directly, she'd respond as tersely as possible.

So we did our best to torture her, in small ways. Like eating the M&Ms she'd leave on the desk. Or moving things, ever so slightly. She never said anything about it.

After she moved out, I'd duck if I saw her on campus. It was a big campus, and so we rarely ran into each other. I was kind of scared of her, honestly.

I ran into her a couple years later. We were waiting in line for the bathroom at a frat party together. She'd had a great deal to drink, and she apologized. I apologized back. We hugged, and that was that.

I wanted to ask why she hated us so much (pre-torture campaign), and if she was still with the boyfriend, and where she'd moved to, but didn't. And truthfully, I was curious in the moment, but didn't actually care in the bigger scheme of things.

It's long enough in the past that I rarely think about it, except when triggered, or when someone pushes a conversation about college, which at this age, doesn't happen that often. About which I am thankful.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tarty boots and foot tea

I tend to name things.

I've named a lot of my clothing and shoes - my tarty boots, my octopus shirt, my tough girl boots, my erection skirt, my tan librarian dress - and so sometimes, when I'm trying to figure out what to wear, Nick will suggest particular pieces of clothing or footwear. By name.

At some point he told me he'd never, ever have predicted that he'd: meet someone who named her clothing and shoes; then learn the names of them; and actually spend enough time thinking about her shoes to recommend wearing "tough girl boots" with a particular outfit.


I've not gotten much further in his closet than the cocksucker suit, but with time, I will.

So Nick, he drinks tea rather than coffee. He has the English mother. He grew up drinking tea.

He likes to brew it in a pot, although that's more on the weekend. For weekday morning consumption, he brews it in a single cup with a little strainer. Me, I am all about the coffee.

He has a shelf full of different teas. He is particular, and he prefers loose tea. So recently he bought this special black tea. It's Indian, I think, although it might be Chinese. I can't even remember the name of it.

Because from the beginning, I've called it "foot tea."

You see, to me, it smells like what I think the smell would be if you boiled up a bunch of binding cloths. As in, those cloths that they used to use to bind the poor tortured feet of upper-class Chinese women. And tangentially, have you ever read The Binding Chair: or, A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society? It's a very compelling read.

In any case, it's a gross way to describe it, I know, and maybe thinking about it makes you throw up a little in your mouth, but this is what it evokes for me. Not that I have ever smelled them. But that doesn't stop me from imagining.

But this morning I was the early bird, and I was brewing both.

"The water just boiled. Which one would you like?"

"Foot tea, please."

Usually he gets up first, and he makes the tea and coffee. So I hadn't realized till this morning that the name had stuck.

Monday, August 04, 2008

And check his teeth while you're at it

This past weekend was spent in New Jersey with Nick's family for my non-shower shower. It was nice, genuinely nice.

So, everyone is on a diet for the wedding. Actually, months ago Nick's doctor - at the same time as she upped his dose of Lipitor - gave him a target weight, and the wedding has been the impetus. Well, the wedding and my nagging gentle and loving support.

Because does he know how furious I'll be with him if he has a heart attack and kicks it? He's much better off going down in a weird blimp accident. At least, as far as I'm concerned.

So the weight. They are all tall, big-boned people. They can carry a lot of weight. But there's a limit to everything.

Nick's father needs to lose at least 50 pounds in order to have a heart operation. They won't operate unless he loses it. Which, until lately, hadn't been happening. He doesn't exercise; he doesn't even walk around a whole lot. He's 75, has arthritis and other health problems, and has mobility issues, which don't help.

And he is a man who likes food. Especially if it's fried. With cheese. And hollandaise. And eggs. And butter. And not-fruit. And not-vegetables. With ice cream on top.

I see how hard things are for him. And I know it would all be easier if he'd just eat better. That would make a tremendous difference.

I genuinely like him. But I want to shake him. I want to say, "Stop it! Yes, your family has this terrible history of heart disease and yes, you will always struggle with weight - but you are in control of your health. And your weight is really working against you."

But I am in no position to do so. Nick's mom does, sort of. She doesn't say that, but she has him on a diet with her at the moment. She's in charge of everything they eat at home, and so all goes pretty well except when they're out and he can order whatever he wants.

In the last couple months, Nick has been losing weight and getting fitter - and feeling better. He has all the same food inclinations as his father. But he exercises, and he's been practicing self-restraint. And he's discovered that he actually likes a couple vegetables. It's all paying off.

And so over the weekend his family remarked on how good he's looking. I'm really proud of him, and I said so. Because not only losing weight, but changing lifelong food habits, is really really hard.

At some point his father and I were alone, and I remarked on how seriously Nick has been working.

Now, I enjoy his father, but sometimes, when we talk about Nick, it feels very much like I'm buying a horse. It's like he feels compelled to tell me pros and cons.

"I believe you'll find that Nick is very kind and generous."

"That's true. He's really great."

"He's a nice, good person."

"I know."

"The thing you need to know about him, though, is this. The men in our family are fine until age 45. And then they really start putting on weight."

He gestures toward his stomach.

"And they go bald."

I just sit there, really not knowing how to respond. As he's pointing to his thinning but nonbald head. "Oh?"

"But the big thing is that he's most likely going to need a triple or quadruple bypass down the road. That's something you should know."


"I hope not. You know, he's been exercising, and eating more fruit and vegetables. He's really trying to eat well."

What else to say beyond that?

"I'm glad to hear that. You keep up with that. But if you haven't seen it yet, you should be aware that he can be extremely stubborn."

"Well, he's met his match in that regard."

This clearly surprised his father. You could see it on his face.

I don't know if you have seen North Dakota Norwegian Viking Ancestry Stubborn in action? If not, you have no idea. It's like there wasn't much else for my forebears to do out there on the prairie but bale hay and practice stubborn.

Bald, you obviously can't help. But blaming your weight and health entirely on your genes? Resigning yourself to it? While helping yourself to corned beef hash and sausage?

Not with me, you don't.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Nature will get you every time. Or, mosquitos, my ass.

Everyone knows I am not a huge fan of The Nature.

And yes, I know it doesn't require an article in English. But I had ESL students who said it that way and somehow, I feel like it suits it. Because it is this vast and solid entity. Plus I just like how it sounds, coupled with the memories.

ANYway. My family reunion - first ever! - of last weekend is a different post entirely, but let me just tell you that we were really out in The Nature.

The directions were something like: "Once you get off highway 81, turn on Farm Something Road and drive 10 miles. You'll pass a country store, which you should make note of, in case you get lost and need help, in which case, drive back to it and ask to use their phone, because cell phones don't work in this area."

So we were instructed to drive till we saw a white house with balloons, at which point we were to take a right and drive down a gravel road, and then take a left at the fork...She very deliberately didn't give us the easier directions, because they entailed driving through a shallow creek.

We arrived successfully, having run into family at the white house and followed them in.

It was hot, and one of the first things most people - certainly the grandparents and all of the kids - did was go swimming in the pond. An actual, honest-to-goodness pond.

We were instructed to watch out for both ticks and leeches. Eeeee! The kids, a couple of whom wound up with one or the other on them, were considerably less freaked out than I was.

Nick said he'd have bet good money that I'd never get in, but I did. I scooted into my bikini and inflated a big red lobster and paddled in with the rest of them. Yes, walking in and feeling the oozy mud between my toes was really icky. And yes, the stuff growing on the bottom freaked me out. And yes, my cousins' kids - all teenagers - made endless fun of me for the lobster and my squeamishness. But it was cool and pretty and fun.

And Monday morning I woke up itching like crazy. With three red, dime-sized welts - one on my upper thigh, one exactly where the band of my underwear sits, and one in my ass crack. That one was the itchiest.

They looked like mosquito bites, but bigger and redder and itchier than any I'd ever had.

I was trying very hard not to scratch, especially the one in the crack, which, um, really sucked ass, and Nick said what whatever I did, to make sure not to scratch through to my brain.

Helpful. Thanks.

So there aren't many less convenient places to itch. But I got Benadryl and applied it furtively every couple hours in my cube.

Despite the Benadryl, they kept getting bigger and itchier. Every night and morning we did a bite check. Bigger! Redder! Itchyitchyitchy!

Then yesterday someone I work with, who overhead me describing them in the bathroom, suggested that maybe they were chigger bites. Chiggers! The name is terrible!

She said that chiggers burrow in and chew on your skin, and to put clear nail polish on them to stop it. Burrow. Chew. Horrors.

So last night when I went home, I pulled out the nail polish. I had no trouble with the first two bites. But had to ask Nick for help with the third.

It makes you feel very thankful to have someone who not only does not make fun of you in this one particularly vulnerable moment, but is willing to apply nail polish to the giant bite in your ass crack, and genuinely hope that this helps.

So far, so good.