Sunday, November 30, 2008

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In which I grow up a little right before your very eyes

So. This post is heavy and relationship-ful, and so if you want cranberry sparkles and pumpkin-flavored unicorns, I suggest you try clicking on the sidebar.

Everyone asks how marriage is, and it's great - same as pre-marriage, great. Except with one very hard piece. You're suddenly related to people you don't even know. Whose behavior you might not like. And you have no control over it.

And people, as you know, will defend their families till the end. I can criticize my own parent, but you can't.

The only thing we ever fight about is Nick's family. We are going there for Thanksgiving. And I am ashamed to say that over the last couple months I've behaved very, very badly about it.

Every time the topic arose, I would voice my dread. Talk about what kind of alcohol should go in the flask. Ask him things like the odds of his mom being nice to me this time.

Mean, spiteful, mean, mean, mean things to say about the family of the person you love so dearly and to whom you have committed your life.

The truth is, his mother said some very unkind things in public the weekend of our wedding. To my mother and to Nick. And like a dog, this got my hackles so far up.

What started as a tiny black drop of rage developed, over weeks and retellings, into a large, mottled, festering ball of loathing. It stopped being about her and what actually happened and started being about me and my anger. Not to pull in Star Wars, but if you have ever gotten into a cycle like this, you can see how easy it is to get on the Darth Vader, soul-eating track.

Nick's explanation to me was, she didn't mean the things she said in the way you took them. You need to understand what my mother is like.

And my reaction was, no, I refuse to understand bad behavior. I have dealt with a lot of bad behavior in my life, and I'm not taking any more, least of all from someone not actually related to me. She needs to be told that her behavior is not OK. She simply cannot treat people like that.

I said a lot more than that, and almost always in moments of anger. So it wasn't necessarily put constructively.

But I would go out for a run and envision getting into a fight with his mother at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I would picture, word for word, what she'd say, how she'd say it, and how I would stand up and tell her off, and stomp out the door. . .

My scenario would, of course, end there, because carless, I'd be stuck on the doorstep. Anticlimactic, I know.

But you get the idea. I'd end my run with an excess of adrenaline. I'd built up gobs of green bile and piles of purple vitriol. I'd return breathing hard and snorting flames. Were it tangible, I could've knit an enormous, flaming red (and green and purple flecked) afghan with my rage.

Behavior like this gets you. . .nowhere but into a bad place in you relationship. You feel like an asshole, because you are behaving like one.

And Nick, sometimes he would get really, really angry. And sometimes he would remain calm, and just ask me to see it from his perspective. Ask me to keep an open mind.

I would vow to him and to myself to try. . .and I would fail.

My husband, who to my face defended his family, but is a bigger, more constructive person than I, he spoke to his father. Who spoke to his mother. Who was surprised that I had taken things in the way I did - as Nick said, she hadn't intended anything unkind - but agreed to treat me nicely when we're up there this Thanksgiving.

I am hopeful. The best any of us can do is try. She will try and I will try. And the hardest thing to do is change family patterns. I know this as a deep, intense fact.

Thanksgiving is upon us.

And I have to say, I am so incredibly thankful for Nick who, even though he can get extremely mad at me, loves me and never questions his commitment to me. I know I can be hugely difficult, and when angered, head for the jugular. I'm smart enough to be really, sharply damaging. And I'm dumb enough to occasionally go ahead and let fly with it.

Our two months of marriage have been a huge growing up period for me. This old, and I still have so much growing to do.

Thank you, Nick, for having the patience to stretch and teach and grow with me. And thank you all for reading, and for sticking with me through all of, well, all of my everythings.

Big happy Thanksgiving hugs to all of you. Unless you don't celebrate Thanksgiving. In which case I wish you big late-November hugs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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

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

I turned to Nick. "Do deer bite?"

"What?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaagh!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Can we stop with the rabies?"

Monday, November 24, 2008

True love and blogtypes

I love things like horoscopes and personality tests and such.

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

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

Anyway.

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

So I typed in LG. And voila!

ESFP - The Performers

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Alone! All alone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Honey, I trust you."

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

He'll be home by ten.

Friday, November 21, 2008

6-12

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

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

Which I Googled. But that comes later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6-12.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Son et lumière

There is always a lot going on in my head.

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

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

The truth is, I haven't yet managed.

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

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

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

You see what I mean? Not quiet.

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

I spend my life filtering out internal background noise.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And yet...

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

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

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

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

I love sweaters and boots. I loathe winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love NPR. I hate call-in shows.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

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


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

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

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

So.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A number of the others they chose.

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

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

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

So there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, maybe I am a little.

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

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

But that's not the point of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here I am getting closer to the point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How?

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

Very simple. Up or down.

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I knew right then I could really like him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting up on the wrong side of the morning

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, me neither.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why indeed?

"Hey, Lis?"

"Yes?"

"What's going on in this picture?"

"We're cutting the cake."

(Duh.)

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

Pause. . .

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

Friday, November 07, 2008

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

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

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

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

Because what you are left with is, why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing this makes me cry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I started wondering how far ahead he planned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Really, 17-year-old self? Really? Also known as: reaching into the High School Shame File.

Honest to God. I had no idea what they were up to on my t-shirt. I never gave it a moment of thought.

Also, sorry in advance, mom and dad. You are going to hate all of the following information. You might want to stop reading now.

I bought this shirt at the disco in Greece. A friend and I had spent the night dancing at Disco 69. This is not a euphemism.

Looking at this photo - this terrible t-shirt - I do not know how I was so oblivious. But I was.

It took me years to figure out why my mom was so upset about it.

This is another of the memories I came across while pulling out old photos for our rehearsal dinner slide show. This one didn't, as you might imagine, make the cut.

It takes place our kitchen in India, this little scene. We most likely came home at 11 or 12 and then snuck out again, because my curfew was early. It is probably around 2 or 3 am on a weekend, after a long night of dancing and drinking gin - at that point, gin was our drink of choice - at the disco in Delhi.

I'm not kidding.

My friend Kris took this picture. I know this because one, she was the person I drank and danced and binged the most with, and two, because there are more in the series. We did this regularly - went out partying and then took ridiculous pictures of each other.

I didn't ever wear this shirt out of the house. But I slept in it just to prove that I could do whatever I wanted - my parents weren't the boss of me! (See how much rebellion out of this first-born rule follower? They were so the boss of me.)

The fact that it went through the laundry just made Betty crazy. Somehow, that was enough.

And so here I am, 17, after a night at the disco, wearing my ultra-crass but somehow assertive of my independence Disco 69 t-shirt and eating peanut butter sandwiches and drinking Diet Coke in my parents' kitchen.

Look how how much blue eyeliner I am wearing. You can't tell, even if you enlarge the picture, but I have a tiny blue star painted with eyeliner on my cheek. Because I thought that was cute. And I loved that red Swatch - I wore it forever. Sometimes I'd wear it with another watch, which I also though was a fabulous look. With the pegged jeans and neon.

My judgment, ohhh, it was so lacking in so many areas.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yayyayyay! Sparkles! Rainbows! Hope! Yay!

I never thought I'd say this, but Fox was my channel of choice last night.

We were at Rustico, and they had CNN and Fox and MSNBC (I think?) on. Plus football. It was more TV than my brain was equipped to handle. Plus they kept doing all this animated analysis of stuff, and it made me a little dizzy.

Fox, however, Fox worked for me.

The state information on Fox was the easiest to understand. I suppose it's because it's TV for dumb people - and simplification of the information worked in my favor.

It was also deliciously excellent to see Karl Rove up there eating a shit sandwich as they called state after state for Obama.

Suck it, Evil.

And, to be filed under wtf? - what was the deal with Anderson Cooper and the hologram man? The sound was off on that TV, and I really didn't understand what was going on. Way too "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi" for me. But maybe this is because I am old.

I listened to McCain's speech and thought, wow, this is the man I used to respect. Lucky for us he turned into such a huge sellout, but I did used to respect him. Then I noticed Palin looking like she was holding back tears. And I was maliciously delighted.

And when Obama spoke, I cried. It just couldn't have gone better.

Bush can go back to Texas and ride his bicycle or whatever it is he does. Palin can give back the $150,000 of campaign clothes and get back in her Carharts and negotiate trade missions with Russia from her porch. And McCain can use the time he now has on his hands to figure out how many houses they have.

And Obama can start to repair all the damage wrought during the past eight years of mega-greed-fueling asswipe loseriness.

I feel like we've redeemed ourselves in the eyes of the world. I feel like things will really start to change for the better.

The world is just a warmer, friendlier, rosier, more hopeful place today, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Having nothing to do with the election and everything to do with thigh-high boots

Although I do feel the need to start out by saying that if your intention is to vote for Obama - go vote!

I vote in DC (although as soon as we got married I should've switched my vote to VA where it actually matters) so I'll be heading up there mid-day and hoping for not-terrible lines.

So back to the issue at hand.

This past weekend I went to Zappos to buy running shoes - very practical running shoes.

And in the process, I got distracted. By a link that said "thigh high boots."

Nobody needs thigh-high boots. Or anyway, nobody who doesn't take her clothes off for money.

Which I don't.

They were an impulse purchase, and a spendy one at that. But free shipping! both ways enticed me. I could try them on and return them without losing anything on the shipping.

They arrived last night - fast fast!

I kind of love them. They come a couple inches above the knee in front. So they're more above-the-knee than thigh-high.

And while they're very high, they're not tarty. Although I do wear that pair of tarty boots I got last year way more than ever expected. Your encouragement emboldened me, and I love them. I even wear them to the office with a conservative but fitted skirt suit, or a pencil skirt and sweater.

So these boots, they're more biker-y tough than tarty. In my sheltered little urban world of what I consider biker, I mean. Because if I ever had to be one, I'd be like, I don't know, the Strawberry Shortcake of bikers or something.

I would so get my ass kicked.

But anyway.

The real question is, can I actually pull off boots like this? And what kind of outfit would look good with them?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Goodbye, Biddy's. I'll miss you.

On Friday night a friend and I went to Biddy's for one last pint of Guinness before they closed. I think this was my first goodbye to a bar, ever.

I don't have a picture commemorating this, so the pints from our wedding night will have to do.

We wanted to say goodbye. I'd been going there for, I don't know - a decade?

I loved the fact that it was an Irish pub without the loud Irish bands above which one usually has to shout. Because me, despite a little Irishness in my ancestry, I am not remotely interested in hearing about when Irish eyes are smiling. In fact, maybe the only kind of music I dislike more than Irish folk tunes would be bagpipes.

But I digress.

For a long time, it was our default happy hour place. I'd had drinks with, met, and introduced so many people there over the years. In fact, she and I realized we'd been introduced there by a mutual friend years ago.

I'd had a number of dates there as well (which, I realize differentiates it not from myriad other places in DC). It was a good test. If a guy orders bad beer at a place with such delicious beer on tap...

Not that I am ever judge-y or anything. And I don't know why a man's taste in beer should say anything about his strength of character. Maybe things like this were why I was single for so long?

Anyway.

So we sat at the bar. My friend ordered fish and chips. When her plate arrived, the bartender apologized for lack of utensils. They'd already sold the silverware.

They had a clock up on the wall with just over two hours left to go. You could watch the frantic electronic number spinning down.

We asked him if it was true that it was going to become a cocktail lounge.

He said the entire hotel is undergoing a massive renovation. He didn't precisely know what the bar would be like when they reopened.

Grr.

I like having a comfy pub, right on the circle.

And really? Does DC need another random cocktail lounge?