Friday, June 29, 2007

I would have chewed my face off but I'm going out to dinner tonight

I was on a conference call this morning that seriously made me want to chew my face off.

Sometimes you just have to sit and listen when what you want to do is scream. Or, more constructively, hang up so you can do your own work. Because otherwise you sit, while the very challenged person on the call, who is somehow tangentially related to your organization, who you have had to work with before but only met once in person, takes up everyone else's time to get her needs met.

Like, how to log in to the presentation in the first place. This took 15 minutes. And then how to do very rudimentary things. Challenged woman: "Excuse me, John, but what if I want to copy and paste?"

Fortunately there is IM. So Maricel and I kept a running commentary as this went on. "Excuse me, John, but what if I want to draw a puppy?"

The thing is, if she were nice, I would cut her some slack. But if I were in a decision making position, I would never, ever work with her. Because not only is she remarkably unpleasant, she's inept.

Another of my colleagues and I were IMing. I said that beyond wanting to chew my face off, I wanted to do her bodily harm. He said, "Yeah, she's a bitch, and there are a lot of people who'd like to hurt her."

To which I responded, "And a nitwit."

And so we went back and forth combining them. Bitchwit. Bitchnit (which I like for the baby lice image it conjures up). And, finally, bitchtit.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm really not sure how to think about this

This is one of my rare NP posts. As in No Parents. If you are a parents who is related to me, as in mine, you probably want to just stop reading. It's not that it's risquee - it'll just make you unhappy.

The last time I rated a post NP, my dad did stopped reading immediately. Betty forged ahead. And made herself unhappy. At the end of the day, all you can do is warn your parents.

So. My dreams are always chaotic, convoluted, confusing. How's that for alliteration? But it's true.

The other night I dreamt I was in a hotel. There were lots of people I know or have known in various places and parts of my life. It didn't make sense that we were all together, or in a hotel, but my dreams always have nonsensical components, and I had a vague sense that I was dreaming, so I didn't question it.

There was this guy who kept following me around. Someone I made up for this dream. He was unattractive - both physically and personality-wise.

Sometimes you meet someone and you don't think they're physically attractive, but there's something that really gets you. Their self-confidence, their sense of humor, something. And that draws you in and makes you really attracted to them. Not with this guy. He was just some annoying guy pestering me.

And he really, really wanted to have sex with me. And just kept following me around. So finally I said, fine, let's just get it over with. Fine.

You know how, when you've been in a relationship for a long, long time, every once in a while you just sort of have sex only because the other person really, really wants to? You're tired, or cranky, or, even though you love them, just not finding them all that attractive on that particular day, and you'd rather not. But sometimes it's just easier, kinder, whateverer to say yes. And sometimes you do, and not gracefully - you're more like, oh, let''s just do it already and get it over with.

Or maybe this is just me. Anyway. That's how this was. Except that he was a complete stranger. Fine. Just get it over with.

And so there we were, about to have sex. And he wanted to spread a blue and yellow striped beach towel across me and hold me down with it. Which seemed weird, but whatever. Fine.

But then, then he pulled out two umbrellas, opened them, and handed me one. What he wanted was for us each to hold an open umbrella during the sex.

And that for me was the final straw. No. Absolutely not.

Somehow, in this dream, I was OK with the sex with the irritating stranger. I was OK with the beach towel. But the umbrellas? Balancing open umbrellas? No. That was just asking too much.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sometimes you just can't take your clothes off fast enough

It is now India hot in DC. And I do know what I'm talking about.

I happen to love this really humid, hot, sticky DC summer weather. This weather makes me feel alive. But I like it best when I'm wearing little sundresses, or running clothes, or whatever you can move freely in and sweat like crazy and not care.

Yesterday I had on a white cotton skirt with lining and a lightweight but long sleeve pink knit shirt. Cute outfit, summery-looking. But, I learned, heat-trapping and sweaty. And so, after my 20-minute walk home from work, I was a soggy mess sweltering through the front door of my building.

I checked mail and had a bill from Citibank - the charges from those rat bastards who stole my wallet. You know, the ones who spent $725.42 at Giant within 45 minutes of stealing my card. Uncreative but impressively fast dickheads. But anyway.

So I got the bill out of the mailbox and called Citibank immediately.

Shockingly, I had gotten an actual person on the line before I got inside my apartment. And realized that I HAD to take off my clothes THAT SECOND. I couldn't have that suffocating outfit on one more instant.

I felt stuck! Stuck in my clothes! Stuck! Like, panic trapped stuck! The built-in slip of the skirt was absolutely glued to my legs. I couldn't breathe! I could not stand to have those steaming hot clothes touching my skin.

And so I was trying to talk to, oh, Dave might have been his name, without letting on that I was about to have a screaming fit then and there.

I unzipped the skirt and pulled and it was holding firmly to my thighs. I literally had to do a little dance to unstick it and peel it off. I nearly fell over trying to get out of it.

And so there I was stumbling around my living room, trying frantically to undress while attempting to discuss the stolen card and how to deal with the charges. Completely preoccupied but pretending to be a normal human being on the phone. Which is something I have had trouble with before.

And the stupid pink shirt, which actually is a shirt I really like, and so I'm glad I didn't find the scissors in my desperation, was so hot and damp and stuck, clinging to my skin, stuck stuck stuck! Stuck is clearly the key concept here.

I felt like I was drowning in a sea of stretchy synthetic pink quicksand. I was seriously thinking oh, my god, if I cannot get this shirt off in the next two seconds I am going to Lose. My. Shit. It needs to be off OFF OFF! NOW NOW NOW!

And I wanted to throw the phone on the floor and use both hands. But there was Dave. Who was being very helpful. And obviously, it behooves me not to have those Citibank folks think I'm a raving lunatic.

I was trying to keep a level tone giving him my card number. While struggling desperately with my shirt.

And so I had the phone between my ear and my shoulder, and I was pulling frantically on the sleeve.

"Yes, that's correct. And this is the card that was stolen on, um. . ."

The panic was rising. Because I only had one hand to take off this pink shirt that had suddenly turned into an octopus. How how how to get out of all swirling eight arms that were clinging to my skin like suction cups?

Can't get the sleeve off! Goddammit! Must get the sleeve off. Clutch at end of sleeve. Pull.

"Um. . ."

It's clinging. I'm sweating like crazy. What if I suffocate? I might suffocate! I might suffocate and die in this brutal pink shirt and fall over and that will be that. At least I have on nice underwear. Because some of those police and firemen are really cute. (Which, I realize now, won't matter if I'm dead. But rationality? Not part of this process. In case you couldn't tell.)

"On? May?"

May what? Pull, goddammit! Sleeve! Off!


I flail a bit. I am probably panting in his ear. I have no idea.

And he asks me if I've gotten a form in the mail.

"The form." Christ, the form! Where's the form? How can I think? Gaaaaaa! Pull!

And finally! The arm comes out of the sleeve! Clearly I'm going to make it.

"Yes! OK! I fill out the form!"

I pull the drenched shirt over my head!

"Yes! Have it notarized!"

And peel off the other sleeve. I can breathe!

"And fax it back. Yes. . . Thank you yes. . . YES!"

That was close.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A meme without following the rules or passing it on

I am in a quandary about the meme thing. On the one hand, they can be quite interesting to read. On the other, they can feel a bit like a chain letter.

I did it once, and then the two people I reluctantly tagged very kindly complied, but didn't tag anyone else. Which was fine - I understood completely. But at that point I decided that I wasn't going to play the meme game again.

And then I got tagged twice in as many days. First by Megan, who just got back from working in South Africa for a couple months, whose Africa stories I'm looking forward to reading, and who has a no tag policy but kindly put me on a list of people she'd like to hear more about. And then by charming H, who I met once at a happy hour, and who I think, from reading her blog, had the same kind of peripatetic overseas childhood I did.

The coincidence of both made me think, huh, maybe I should play along. So I'm listing H's eight things, but some of them fall under the categories of Megan's.

1. Growing up overseas and then always living in cities, I didn't start driving till I was 27 and moved to San Diego, where there are five lanes of traffic and people haul ass. My friend Maude, who then had only been driving six months, taught me to drive stick and we drove cross-country DC to CA. For the first month there, every time that I had to drive on the 5 I would be so nervous I'd almost throw up.

2. I almost never go to movies. It's not that I don't like them. Rather, it's that I'm so rarely in the mood to commit to sitting still in the dark for two hours straight.

3. I am a massive procrastinator. When I'm in a time crunch I can get an astounding amount of stuff done, and done really well. But I can also malinger like nobody's business.

4. My iPod shuffle is one of my all-time favorite toys. I love that it's so small I can clip it to my shorts to go running. And I love that I don't have a ton of songs to scroll through and choose from while I work out. I have to decide beforehand. This works for me.

5. If I were a millionaire. . . I feel like I ought to lie and say I'd help orphans or something. But the truth is, I'd buy a fabulous flat in Rome (OK, I'd have to be a gajillionaire for that, but still) and head straight to the Via Condotti for an insane shopping spree.

6. Peanut butter on a big spoon straight out of the jar is one of my favorite snacks. Crunchy, organic, salted. Because to me creamy peanut butter is like decaf coffee - pointless. And I live alone; I can eat anything I want right out of the container.

7. A song I know all the words to: Delta Dawn by Tanya Tucker. Cringe factor on this is quite high.

8. Leggings are something I would never wear again. I embraced them in the 80's, and I do remember how comfortable they were. But an old boss said, when I told her I was tempted to do the jeans tucked into high boots, "I learned a long time ago that if you were there for the trend the first time, you should never, ever repeat it. No matter how cute you think it is."

And you know, those are some words I now live by.

Monday, June 25, 2007

On the upside, now you can eat chocolate cake every single day!

My parents both lost a lot of weight over the last couple months.

My dad's six feet tall and he dropped at least 20 pounds in the hospital. He's way too skinny. But now that he's home, he'll start gaining weight. There's always lots of good food around and he and Betty both love sweets.

And my mom probably fretted away 10 pounds. She's a little taller than me, and tiny. She looked great before. And now she looks great but a little too thin. Which, in my world, is positive. It means leeway.

A few weeks ago, when my dad was still in the hospital, the Director went with me one evening to meet him. We hung out with my dad a bit and my mom arrived for the tail end of our visit. So he got to meet both my dad and Betty at once.

We left and he remarked on how thin both my parents are. I said my dad had gotten shockingly skinny in the hospital, and that Betty had dropped weight as well.

And then I said, "But it's OK, because they were both getting a little fat."

It was as if I'd turned into one of Hell's minions. If I'd suddenly morphed into George W. Bush he could not have looked at me with more shock, horror, or disgust.

"God, Lisa! Your dad is 70 years old! Give him a break. Let the man weigh whatever he wants to!"

I felt like such a jerk. I know it sounded awful, but I didn't mean, hey, this has been a great way to drop a couple pounds! Or that I was picking on them about weight. And so I explained that they'd both been talking about having put on weight over the last year and wanting to drop a couple pounds. They'd both been exclaiming that their clothes were a little tight.

I may be weight obsessed and judgemental, but I'm not downright evil. At least, not very often.

And so, looking on the bright side, now they can have cake every day if they want! There's weight to be gained! How often are you in the position where you have to gain weight?

Cake! Cake for breakfast! Peanut M&Ms for a snack! Chocoloate milkshakes with lunch! Tryst blended chai for dessert! Anyway, that's how I'd approach it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"I would advise you not to consult geese in matters of spelling. The word is spelled T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C."

Last weekend, my friend Ravi and his pig-roasting cabal hosted their second annual fabulously fun pig pickin'.

Apologies to Wilbur, but it was indeed some pig event.

That Saturday was an utterly perfect summer day. Hot enough to make it oh so easy to keep helping yourself to cold beer but still nice enough to spend hours in a group of a hundred and some people and without feeling that hot, sweaty, crowded summer cranky. You know, the kind of DC hot that usually sets in around now and makes you sweat like a, well, pig, and loathe everyone in sight.

There were tons of old friends and a variety of people I'd never met. Our friend J, who we recently said goodbye to, who co-hosted last time, came down from New York for the event. It was a true pleasure to see her.

There were pig tattoos. There were grass skirts. There were coconut bras. If you think I didn't embrace all three enthusiastically, well, you don't know me very well.

It was, however, the last time I'm getting that scantily clad in public. I looked at one of the pictures of me in the coconut bra - which really is tantamount to wearing a bikini top - and I suddenly wondered if I looked like a less-well-endowed white-girl version of Lil' Kim? Alarming and not to be repeated.

But on to more important topics. There was a keg. There were all the trappings. And then, of course, there was the pig. On an electric spit.

Now, I was a vegeterian for years and I still don't eat a lot of meat. This pig on a spit thing simultaneously fascinates and revolts me. And so I just had to take photos. Of the whole pig, twirling and roasting. Of the head. Of the severed head. Of people kissing the severed head. Of the butt. Of a foot.

Because I don't know if you've ever seen a pig on a spit, but basically it seems like they open the pig's mouth, and stick a pole in that end and out the ass. To someone who tends to think of all pigs as Wilbur - Charlotte's Web really resonated with me as a kid - it's horrifying.

But it's like a train wreck or photos of Lindsay Lohan on a night out. You're scared to look, and you kind of cringe as you do, but you also can't help yourself.

I did eat it, but with reservations. Because it's so much easier to eat an animal if you don't literally stare it in the face before doing so. I mean, it's a pig. With a piggy nose, still attached to his piggy head. Which is staring at you from the table. With piggy teeth in his piggy mouth. Well, really, piggy everything. Because it is, after all, a pig.

The pig, or I suppose once it's chopped on a plate I should call it pork, was tender and juicy and perfectly cooked. And there were a million delicious sides. And banana pudding, which I absolutely love, for dessert.

All around a truly fabulous, delicious, fun event. Ah, Wilbur, you really were T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I just have this feeling that normal mothers and daughters don't have these kinds of conversations.

I went out to VA today to check in on my parents. Betty, of course, was out working in what my dad calls "the Back 40" - the parkland and creek behind their house. My dad was watering the yard.

I checked email as I was waiting for my mom to change from creek clothes to normal, hang out in the house clothes. I was sitting at the computer when she came in.

"Hey, Lis, would you look at my butt?"

"Sure. . . Mom, it looks like poison ivy. I think you have poison ivy."

"I think something bit me. It's really itchy."

"It looks like poison ivy to me."

"It can't be poison ivy. I don't have any anywhere else."

"It's not a spider bite, that's for sure. Maybe you got some under your finger nails and scratched your butt but washed it off your hands."

"No, I didn't. I do not stand around scratching my butt."

"Fine. Go look in the mirror. I don't know."

"I'm just going to put some Benadryl on it."

Friday, June 22, 2007

The LG cocktail and long-distance catching up

My friend Texpatriate has made up a new drink: the Lemon Gloria.

It sounds a little fancy and a lot delightful.

2 0z Tito's vodka
1 fresh lemon, juiced or 2 Tbs lemon juice extract
Sprig of fresh mint

1. Lightly crush mint, add to shaker of ice.
2. Add Tito's and lemon juice. Shake well.
3. Pour a tall glass 3/4 full of sparkly white.
4. Strain shaker into glass, slowly, without foaming.
5. Garnish with lemon slice covered in sugar.

He's older than me and so I've literally known him since I was born. Our families are old, old friends. Our parents were in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan, and then both families lived in Bangladesh while we were children. We later overlapped for a year in Delhi.

Without relatives around, our families became family for each other, celebrating many a holiday together. Once, in high school, someone suggested to his younger brother that I might be a good dating prospect. And his brother said, "Lisa? That would be like incest!" Exactly.

He and I recently reconnected through the blog world. He lives in Texas and we haven't been in touch in years. But Betty told his mom about my blog, and his mom told him.

And now I have a new old old friend. And I have to find this fancy schmancy hand-crafted vodka (which I'd never heard of before) and try it! Thanks, J!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Betty has started smoking again.

I hate smoking. Absolutely loathe it.

Both our parents smoked when we were kids. My mother had this very long, sleek, carved ivory cigarette holder. My earliest childhood memories involve my parents hosting preprandial cocktails on the veranda and smoking.

All the embassy parties we went to were elegant. People were always dressed up. And they always smoked. And as a result, I have always liked how smoking looks - very sophisticated. I just hate everything else about it.

My brother and I went through a period where we'd do everything possible to dissuade our parents from smoking. When we went out to restaurants and they lit cigarettes, we'd create a scene. We'd hack, we'd cough. Eventually at least one of us would fall on the floor in mock faint, having strangled on the cigarette smoke.

No exaggeration. "Cough cough! Aaaaack!" Fall off chair. Arms and legs straight up in the air.

In high school all my friends smoked, and when they came over, they'd hang out and have a cigarette with Betty. I was the only non-smoker I knew.

Eventually they both my parents did quit, though, and my dad hasn't smoked in years and years.

But recently Betty started again. She'll go out in the garden and smoke.

The other day she said, "Please don't get mad at me."

How could I be mad? She's been completely stressed out.

I said, "Mom, you could do crack and I wouldn't get mad. No, take that back. Please don't do crack. I could not handle it. But you could. . .you could get addicted to porn! That might be OK."

Betty gave me a serious look and leaned in like she was telling a secret. "Oh, sweetheart. I read an article. Those porn addicts, they have terrible sex lives. It's very sad."

Note to self: Cross porn off possible addiction list.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I can see your butt, or sundry DC sights down on the National Mall

I was out walking down on the Mall with a friend on a recent evening. It was gorgeous, perfect, lovely to be out walking in the finally it's summer! heat.

It was that delicious beginning of summer weather that feels fraught with promise and makes you want to take off all your clothes and drink really cold beer out of the bottle while lying in a hammock on a porch. If I had a porch and lived way out in the country where I had no neighbors for miles - which actually will never happen because that is one of my definitions of hell - that is exactly what I'd do.

In any case, we were walking and this cute young guy jogged by. With no shirt on.

Which on the one hand was wow, because he had broad shoulders and a muscular back and narrow waist. But on the other, was kind of unfortunate. Because his shorts had slid down his hips to where you could see the top of his butt.

We saw him go by and remarked on it, and that would've been that. Except that we all got stopped at the same light on the next corner.

And he turned his back to us. I was wondering if we should tell him that he was showing butt cleavage. Just a little. Or maybe he wanted to show off? Or didn't care? Would he rather be told or not?

How do you tap someone on the sweaty shoulder and say, "Um, I can see your butt."?

I started to giggle. Like a dork. Cute young guy. Hee hee hee. I can see his butt. Hee hee. And he has no underwear on. Hee. . .Wait, what?

And then a larger question popped into my head. Was he really not wearing underwear? Wouldn't it be uncomfortable to run and have your wing-wang flopping around in the breeze? Why would a guy go out for a run with no underwear?

I knew that if I opened my mouth, all these questions would come tumbling out.

Thankfully the light changed. I giggled all the way across the street. Because I'm, like, twelve.

Oh, and Wonkette - thanks very much for the mention!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


My dad comes home this afternoon. Tomorrow morning, at 4:30 am, it will be exactly two months since I wrote this.

I'm both terrified and delighted to have him back at home.

He'll be at a day program for the next several weeks, so there's some transition time for all of us, my dad included. This time has to be different. I think it will be, I really do. We've all grown and learned and realize there has to be change.

I do think he's gotten to a good place, honestly. When I saw him on Sunday he was more him, the good him, than I've seen in a long, long time. And the truth is, he needs to come home, to have his normal life again. We all need to build a normal life again.

Two months is a long, long time to be in a hospital. And a month in the psych ward? Would drive the average person batshit crazy. It's an honest to god nutso place.

My dad walked my mom and me to the elevator Sunday. You have to sign out, push the elevator button, push a camera button inside the elevator, then wait for the people at the nurse's station to let the elevator go so you can finally push the L button to go down to the lobby. It's quite a process.

Invariably you push buttons and wait and someone winds up bellowing "elevator!" so that the nurses will let you go. Once, Betty and I wound up on the 4th floor four times. Door closed, elevator went nowhere, door opened, and we saw the same check in desk. Four times. We were starting to feel crazy ourselves.

There's a sign on the elevator that says, "Use your hospital pass."

Sunday my dad asked Betty if she was going to use her hospital pass. She said that would mean she worked there. He asked if she was going to work there.

And she said, "Are you kidding? This place is full of crazy people!"

One of the other patients, who was sitting next to the desk, turned to my dad and said, "Present company excepted, of course."

"Of course."

Monday, June 18, 2007


I sometimes forget that most people just don't talk about poo as often or as casually as I do.

Several friends threw a pig pickin' at Ravi's house on Saturday evening - and this will, with many alarming pig pics, be the subject of an upcoming post. Ravi has an amazing house with a nice, big back yard, and it was a gorgeous summer evening - perfect for shorts and beer and pig.

The Director and I were chatting with a guy that we both met making the movie but don't actually know all that well. And at some point during the conversation I happened to look down and realize that the Director was wearing shorts I'd not seen before. Shorts with fun vertical zippers just above the hem.

So of course I reached down to unzip one of these intriguing side zips. And reached in. And started pulling out one black plastic bag after another.

I held one up and he said, "For poo."

Because, of course, he is a responsible poo-picker-upper when he walks his dog.

Forgetting we were in polite company, I said, "Oh, that's great. But Ravi has a really nice bathroom downstairs, so I'll probably go in the house if I have to poo."

And the Director just nodded. Because we have stupid conversations like this all the time.

But our companion looked slightly like a deer in headlights. He knew we were joking, heh heh.

But you could see the, "Why, why the bags? Why the chatting about poo before dinner? Why why why?" look on his face.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my dad. He's maybe 20 in this photo. I love how young and cute he is. And how hilarious the dummies are.

Those dummies live in a trunk in my parents' house, have for years. Turns out when he was in college he used to put on a ventriloquist show.

My dad has really been struggling to get back to a good place. I believe it can happen. It is just going to take a lot of time and patience and work.

By nature, he's creative, charming, and a born entertainer. I hope he gets back to this soon.

I know you won't read this for a while, dad, but Happy Father's Day. I love you too much.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

In which I compare Knocked Up to porn and myself to Medusa. In other words, I am a really fun Friday night date.

The Director and I saw Knocked Up last night. We'd decided to have a fun, relaxing Friday night. Watching a hilarious movie. And then having a low key, let's enjoy each other's company dinner.


What he didn't know before he came over was that I'd spent the day loathing one person after another. The people at work I mildly dislike or am even ambivalent about? Loathed. The slow walker in front of me on the sidewalk? Loathed.

Some days are like that.

He's been telling me for a while that while he thinks I'm doing a great job of functioning like a normal human being, I clearly have a lot of anger and aggression that needs to come out.

I asked if I could take it out on him by plucking out all of his body hair, of which there is a decent amount. Because wouldn't that be to be a constructive way to get aggression out, and in the end, a win-win? And he said no, that he'd rather I go to the park and kick children.

Despite this, I believe he will be a really good therapist when he's done with his doctorate.

So, Knocked Up. Everyone I know said the movie was hilarious. It got great reviews. And it's not that I didn't laugh or think it was funny. I did - I laughed out loud. A lot.

It's just that I couldn't suspend reality that much. It's not like the Harry Potters, where you strap yourself in and let the fantasy wash over you and just run with it for the fun of it. That kind of suspension of reality I am all over.

But Knocked Up? Just pissed me the fuck off. Because seriously? The super dorky, lazy, pot-smoking, not working schlub is really going to get the beautiful, funny, nice, hot hot hot woman with the cool career? Like, even that drunk she would ever kiss him, much less have sex with him, and then decide, oh, I should keep the baby and have a relationship with him?

No. Nonononono. No. This is just porn without naked sex. A below average guy gets the stellar girl story for guys to masturbate to.

And the lack of realism bits that bugged the Director? Money. Like, who was paying the bills for that group of guys living in that house? And later how could he afford a place in Malibu, because that last shot is on the way to Malibu, even though they said East LA, and anyone who knows LA at all knows that?

And I was all, those are the not-reality parts you're going to fixate on? When there are so much bigger, more obviously not real in a million years aspects? Oh, look, Knocked Up! You can be any doltfaced clod and make no effort and you will still wind up with some hot girl. You can even impregnate her and then she will try to love you.

But then wait wait! Panic! There's the other couple, and they feel so real and what if they are real?

What if the hot married guy - who actually has a very attractive, funny, if a bit highly strung wife and fantastic kids - who thinks that marriage is just misery and men will always feel stuck and suffocated is right? And, just like in the movie, maybe it will always be the women who are terrified of being alone while the men just plod along oblivious? And how come men never have to deal as much as women do?

Why wasn't he focusing on all those things, which were clearly so much more important than how they afforded the house and all the pot?

I know what you are really thinking - why the fuck did it matter to me? I dunno. It doesn't today. It did last night.

And then you know how sometimes you just can't stop yourself?

Like you can almost physically see the words coming out of your mouth, and if you could you would snatch them out of the air. And while they are galloping forward into the world you think, "No! Stop! Just stop it, right now! Stopitstopitstopit!" But it's like you're having an out of body experience and all you can seem to do is watch yourself being this utterly trenchant Gorgon?

That was me the entire night.

And after the movie, what I really wanted was pizza. From Pizzeria Paradiso. Usually I have no strong restaurant preference. If pushed to choose, I always can. But usually I am flex, and if it's not Ethiopian food or a steak house, I will easily find something I like.

What I am saying is: I almost never say this is what I want. Now.

And so when the Director, who is extremely accommodating but turns out to be a NY pizza snob, said he hates Pizzeria Paradiso and could I just pick anywhere else, it added to my, oh, seriously, you suck ass, every last one of you mood. And anyway, just move to NY already where you can eat all the fucking NY pizza you want.

Yeah. So it was 10 pm, we were starving and Biddy's was right in front of us. And even though I really like Biddy's, last night there was nowhere I would less rather go. Except everywhere else that wasn't pizza.

And they had no Bass. And no Boddingtons. And the waitress was sweet but new and flustered. And I was all kinds of irritated.

And so the Director was the target of my irritation. I wasn't criticizing him directly. But the thing is, he is a guy. Which puts him firmly in the man category. The category of people that I was just generally mad at. Who started it all by not agreeing wholeheartedly with me about the most insane parts of the move and then on top of that, committing the heinous crime of not wanting pizza.

And of course all of this anger over very trivial things had nothing to do with what is going on in my own life.

Lucky for me, he is a man with a lot of emotional maturity and patience and insight. And so even though I was being a Gorgon, he came over and sat next to me and put his arm around me. Or maybe the snakes for hair is less scary to contend with than being turned to stone. I dunno.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Splashing about in the shallow end: Disco, colors, makeup, sparkles, la la la

A variety of things have been making me think about makeup lately.

One, I've been listening to a lot of disco-y Scissor Sisters while running. Their song "Kiss You Off" goes "I don't need another tube of that dime store lipstick. Well, I think I'm gonna buy me a brand new shade of man."

Obviously, this is not really about lipstick. Nor is it profound. But it's catchy and in my head, and adds to the thoughts of cosmetics. It's not quite as fun as She's My Man, but it's up there.

ANYway, I know very little about makeup besides eyeliner and mascara, but I've started wearing this really fun lip gloss. It's supposed to plump up your lips, and maybe it does; I can't tell. Mainly I like the colors and the yummy flavors.

It's a little tingly, in a nice way, and not sticky and the colors are sheer - which is good, because when I wear lipstick I always feel like I'm trying to be more grown-up than I am, silly as that may sound.

One of the things I love about it, though, is that the names are so fun. Water My Melon. Spike My Punch.

Yes, I am the person who will buy a bottle of wine because it has a charming name or they put a cute animal on the label.

The Director liked the smell and asked about my lip stuff as I was putting on Water My Melon. I told him what it was called and said all these glosses seems to be named Something My Something. Verb My Noun.

"Verb? My? Noun?"

Could I be linguistics geek dorkier? Verb my noun?

I couldn't quite remember any other names, so I said, "You know, like Smack My Ass or Bake My Cake or something like that. Something My Something."

Those were lip glosses he was definitely in favor of.

I told him I would love to be the person who gets to come up with color names for different makeup products. So we started making up colors.

Like: Backstabbing Bitch Red, Shotgun Wedding Scarlet, Ménage a Terra Cotta - these could be lip sticks or lip glosses. Maybe an eye shadow in Nibble My Ear Beige, or Tell Me a Secret Silver. Blush in Serial Monogamist Pink. Perhaps some nail polish in Tie Me to the Bedpost Maroon, Rug Burnt Sienna, or Shoot a Friend in the Face Hunter Orange.

And everyone should have sparkly skin lotion called Get Out the Disco Ball!

Oh, the possibilities are twisted and endless and delightful.

The Director is not a man who thinks about makeup. I think it was the Something My Something that caught his attention. If I ever get a fun job like this, I will definitely name a product No More Pants just for him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A baby blanket who will get you in a bar fight

Last night California Jane called. I'd just gotten done with dinner - which mainly consisted of potato chips and two beers - which I ate while finally watching the season finale of Grey's Anatomy and sobbing over the demise of everyone's relationships.

God, as I write that, I picture myself as a pot-bellied middle-aged man, sitting on the couch in boxers, one hand scratching my balls, the other in the bag of chips, glued to the TV, devastated because my sports team didn't win. I promise it wasn't like that.

But Jane was such a sunshine surprise. It was so great to talk to her. We caught up on everything - my parents, her parents, jobs, men, life.

She asked about the Director, and I told her about all that wine last week, and how suddenly I could barely see straight. And at the point where the teetering, weaving down the last block home, drunken blindness hit, I decided to call him. La la la la la.

I emailed him the next morning apologizing profusely. I was mortified. He said it was cute.

"Yeah, very cute to not be able to form complete sentences."

He said my sentences were fine. But I was very clearly having trouble getting up the stairs. Eeee.

When I told Jane this she said, "I've struggled up your treacherous stairs!"

I had seriously considered what might happen to me if she fell backwards on me up the stairs the night of Tony's wedding. She is little, but it would really have hurt.

So many things happened after we left Sequoia that night. So much alcohol happened. We went to some bar down by the waterfront that stays open very, very late. By the time we got there, Jane desperately needed food. And the kitchen was closed. Shots, however, shots were in abundance. Neither of us were even drinking by this point.

One of the guys, Tony's slightly sketchy bartender friend, called and ordered food from around the corner. And then we got kicked out for having food show up at the door. At this point it was ridiculously late anyway.

We hailed a cab, and we all got in - all except the bartender and his friend. Who sauntered down K Street with the food. The wedding party was staying in Rosslyn, so they told the driver we were going to VA.

I had visions of unwashed, un-teeth-brushed, stuck in Rosslyn hell. I jumped out and said, "No! I'm not crossing that bridge! I am not leaving DC!"

We all have our lines.

RJ and Jimmy got out. But Jane stood her ground. She turned to the driver and said, "I'm not moving. I don't know what they're doing; I don't know where I'm going. But I'm going somewhere. And you're taking me."

It was decided that Jane would come home with me. We all got back in the cab. And then Jane pointed and said, "They have the food! RJ, go get the food!"

And so dear RJ had to chase the guys down and recover the food. Then he and Jimmy cabbed back to my place with us and dropped us off.

At which point Jane and I struggled up the aforementioned Treacherous Stairs. Because they are replacing our elevator, which takes three months.

Jane made a beeline for the kitchen, and when I came back to the living room with sheets for the couch and PJs, she was at the sink, filling a glass with water. I thought this was great - hydration!

No. She was making sure that her bouquet got into water. You know, so that I'd have lovely roses and orchids for later. She is definitely her mother's daughter.

She then immediately face planted herself on my couch in her floor-length mocha frappuchino bridesmaid dress.

I started putting the bottom sheet on from the far end of the couch. Scooting her feet up to pull up the sheet. And rolling Jane as I made the bed under her.

At the same time, I was trying to help her out of her dress. Which proved to have lots of hidden hooks and zips. Jane had enough of a grip on what was going on to direct. So as I hit a hook in her dress with the zipper, she said, "Hook."

So it went. Shove, push, scoot up sheet, shove other direction, unhook, push, unzip, "Hook!" tuck, tuck, tuck sheet, "Another hook!" scoot, shove, "Another zip!" and unhook and so on and so forth. Until Jane was finally in PJs, asleep.

We laughed so hard at all of this. And then at the fact that her mother, who is a very dear friend of Betty's, now reads this blog, and because of the previous Jane post, has started sending her articles on binge drinking.

Much like she used to send her articles on the bleak job market during her senior year of college. In the same way that my dad used to send me articles on STD prevention. And personal safety. Accompanied by huge cans of mace and hand-held pepper spray. God love these people, our parents.

I don't have many old friends like Jane, but the few I have, I treasure. Our familiarity with each others' families and their quirks, the utter lack of having to explain any background or apologize for or rationalize anything, the ability to laugh back over the ridiculousness of our behavior without embarrassment, the even more important ability to laugh through the worst of it. . .I cannot even describe how valuable friends like Jane are.

I told her that in the comments my post about that night, another blogger said friends like her are comforting and safe, like a baby blanket. Which is a very nice way to describe it.

And then our friend Tony said, "Yeah, Jane, a baby blanket who will get you in a bar fight."

Heh. Pretty much.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Making lists, or the scale of crazy to limbless

Last night, during our family meeting, I remarked on how exhausting, horrible, terrifying, kick-the-daylights out of you terrible this is.

We all agreed. My brother said he can't imagine being immersed in anything more heart and gut wrenching. There probably isn't anything worse than dealing with all of the details of a suicidal father.

Is there?

I thought for a moment. "Pedophilia. I think dealing with pedophilia might be worse."

We all thought on that and agreed.

I am pretty much in a state about this. It takes all my time and energy just to hold it together. The Director thinks I'm doing a good job of it, and I so appreciate that. But I feel like I'm on the very narrow, sharp edge of not keeping it together.

I am so glad I have this blog, and this time have chosen to be totally candid with the entire world. Getting it all out whenever I need to helps so much.

On the one hand, I do realize it's bizarre to offer all these grim, personal, family details out to the world. On the other, it keeps me from being completely and totally flattened by them. And if it's a choice, I chose not flattened.

So today, when my friend Maricel at work came over to see how my weekened was, I told her what was going on. Bob's cube is catty-corner to mine, so he overheard and joined us.

She said she just never knows what to say when I talk about this. She asks because she cares about me, but she just doesn't know what to say.

And I said, "That's OK. What can you say? Nobody knows what to say. Really, who has any experience dealing with this? I don't know anyone who has. This is the worst thing I can imagine dealing with."

Then I remembered that I decided pedophilia could be worse. So I told them so.

Bob said, "Yeah, that might be worse. I hope you're counting your blessings."

It suddenly occurred to me that being a Tutsi and having had your limbs hacked off with a machete during the Hutu-Tutsi conflict could be much, much worse. So I said so.

And since we are so, so sick and wrong, I suggested that since Maricel is Filipina, she might, in fact, have a machete. And she said of course she does. Because the suburbs of Virginia can be a scary, scary place.

Maricel is very pretty, and wears cute, trendy outfits and heels. She is always outwardly serene, and says these things with a totally straight face, in a very calm voice. And so it took a couple seconds for the visual of her machete-ing her way through the jungles of suburban Virginia to sink in.

Bob assured me that he'd spend at least 30 minutes this afternoon compiling a list of possible worse things to deal with than a) suicide, b) pedophilia, or c) having your limbs hacked off with a machete.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oh, you know, you win a few, you lose a few

I feel like I just got the everloving crap kicked out of me.

I just got home from the hospital. My father is down. He feels like he's not welcome at home. Despite my assurances that we love him, and the issue is that we're terrified of losing him, he feels unwanted.

And so he said, "Maybe I should just go stay in a shelter. I can't stay here indefinitely, and I can't come home."

Now, on the one hand, I know his perception of not being wanted at home right now is somewhat accurate - we're so scared that he'll come home and try again. I'm so sad he feels unwanted rather than getting that it's precisely because we love him so much. But on the other, my father is a huge manipulator. And he's Catholic; he works the guilt like nobody's business. Is this manipulation?

Whatever it is, it makes me feel terrible. He said so many awful things. I left the hospital crying, devastated, exhausted and despondent.

What I want, what I really, really want, is someone in a position of authority - like, oh, a doctor, you know, like a psychiatrist, perhaps - to tell me that he is mentally in a position to come home.

And truthfully, I don't believe a fucking one of his doctors. I believe, on the whole, that their agenda, over patient care, is to get him out. I can't get this assurance anywhere.

We have another family meeting at the hospital this coming Tuesday. So just prior to my delight of a hospital visit, my brother, Betty, and I met to talk about it. To get on the same page and figure out the questions we want answered.

The last meeting at the hospital was brutal. And really, I believe the meeting was only called because we wrote a letter with offers of cooperation accompanied by very thinly veiled assurances of litigation, should they discharge him prematurely.

During the meeting, my father said, among other things and in three different breaths, that 1. he has everything to live for, and has no reason to kill himself; 2. that of course he'd lie to my mother - otherwise she'd try to stop him from killing himself; and 3. that it might just be easier to end it all.

This gem of a meeting would have ended with the psychiatrist saying he was out of time - busy, busy, had to get to the next patient. He'd already given us an hour. Except that my brother insisted we determine a next step before ending the meeting. And the guy responded that he'd recommend a discharge in the next three days.

My brother said no way, and we would escalate this. So the meeting continued on in a businesslike but acrimonious fashion, which then began to worry my dad. He reminded us that this man was his caregiver, and he didn't want us to anger him. We all assured him that this was nothing personal; it was pure business.

And then the psychiatrist, on his way out the door, said the following. And I quote practically verbatim.

"Your family has a much lower risk tolerance in this situation than I do. And they should, they're your family."

When my dad asked what he meant, the man continued.

"I've discharged plenty of quasi-suicidal people. It's a risk I'm willing to live with. Your family is not willing to live with this level of risk."

None of us recovered from our shock fast enough to ask if the hospital did any follow up, or had stats on how many of those "quasi-suicidal" people went on to actually commit suicide after being discharged.

And then the case worker called Betty last week and said that at the point of our next meeting, my dad will have been in the psych ward four weeks. She said "You said you wanted him in here four weeks in the last meeting." (Truthfully, we were guessing at a number.)

"So," she continued, "you've gotten what you wanted."

Right, you absolutely worthless bitch. We got what we wanted. We have a patient advocate who has done nothing for us, a psychiatrist who comes across as cavalier about my dad's life. And oh, yeah, my dad, who still, after weeks of care, might or might not want to live, depending on the day.

And nobody to fucking trust about where he is or should be.

Yeah. We have exactly what we want. Don't you think?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Just testing, officer

I did learn one valuable new lesson this past week. Apparently it is a lesson that most people learn in school, or college at the very latest.

The lesson? If you see a red button, don't push it.

Our new fancy building has a gym. Which I used for the first time on Thursday. You have to use your swipe card to get in the gym. So I assumed that you would need to push the red button next to the door to get out. Right?

So I worked out, showered, and sashayed out the door in my super cute Argentine dress which I love love love. It's trippy - sort of 60s, with faces and swirly flowers all over it. It's synthetic, but a really soft, clingy fabric. It's so great. And it's finally warm enough again to wear it, and did I mention I love it? I'll have to post a picture one of these days.

So. Yippee! I had a great workout! And now I'm clean! And cute, because oh, my dress is so fabulous!

Mince to the door. Push red button. Silently think, "Bye cute, sweaty, working out boys!" Exit.

Except. Except that particular red button caused building management and the police to turn up at the gym two minutes after I'd traipsed out the door. La la la la.

Bob told me this. He said a couple guys left right after I did, and a few new ones came in. So when the police asked who'd pushed the button, they didn't know. And Bob lied and said he had no idea.

I was so embarrassed when he told me. I'm a first-born-rule-follower, really I am. What if they have me on camera? What if they bar me from the gym?

"They should label it emergency!"

"Uh, Lis, I think they do."

Oh. Oops.

Friday, June 08, 2007

File under LOJ. As in lack of judgement. Serious lack of judgement.

If you have a day where all you eat all day is two Balance bars and a couple pieces of honeydew and then you drink a lot lot lot of wine, you will feel like complete and utter A-S-S the next day.

You know this. I know this.

It just happened. Sometimes it just happens. My work day was busy, and I worked out over lunch and barely had time to shower before going straight to a meeting. End result, not much food in my day.

The Dementor was in town, and we met up after work and had a drink at the bar at the Ritz before he went off to his power dinner. Which left me with just enough time to go home, change into shorts, and head up to T's house to hang out with my two closest friends. Because she is moving, this was the last of our weekly hang out, drink wine, catch-ups at her house.

I knew, as I kept pouring myself glass after glass of wine, that it was a bad idea. I also know why I was doing it. It's not a mystery to me.

Glass 1: Purely social.

At the Ritz, why the hell not? Oh, and that's one more thing I ate - nuts - they brought us some mixed nuts and we laughed and said that was absolutely perfect. Sums both of us up.

Glass 2: T said, "Wine?" Yes, please.

It was so great to see the Dementor. After we hugged goodbye, and I'd walked about a block, I suddenly wanted to cry, and that rattled me. We are friends of sorts now, and we have this incredibly intense connection, even when we aren't delving into intense topics. I don't want to be with him, and yet he still gets me in that red hots way. I hate that.

Glass 3: More? Absolutely!

I'm tired of fretting about my dad all the time. And my mom. I'm tired of being scared. I'm just tired.

Glass 4: I'll just go ahead and pour this one.

T is leaving. She is one of my nearest and dearest friends. I know New Jersey isn't that far. But it's not six blocks up the hill. It's too far for weekly hang-outs on her patio. It's too far for a last minute drink or Maggie Moo's or walk in the park with her dog. It's too far.

Glass 5: Just a little more. Because who wants to be able to walk a straight line home?

The Director has been so amazing to me, and I like him, and I am truly thankful to have had him in my life this past month. And he is leaving for good in a few weeks.

Nobody thinks I'm great at moderation, myself included. But by this age, goodness. You'd think I'd have some grip on the fact that while wine feels really, really good at the time, that much feels just as bad, if not worse, the next day.

As a friend of mine likes to say, nobody ever looks back and says, "Wow, now that was a great idea!"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

She can't cook, and she'll probably force your child relatives to sew, but her dowry is decent and she has all her teeth

My father is trying to marry me off.

When I was in high school, I started having the sneaking suspicion that my parents were unconsciously amassing a dowry for me. I would get a piece of gold - earrings, a bangle, a ring - for every birthday and for Christmas. I really think my parents had gotten into the Indian gold as an investment mindset. End result, I have some lovely adornments.

As you know, I grew up in cultures with arranged marriage. I believe that he'd have arranged my marriage so long ago if he could.

The first year B and I were together, my friend Jane (Philadelphia Jane) had a birthday party for me and invited my parents. My dad and B were sitting in a corner, swilling cocktails and plotting. They were trying to figure out why I was having trouble committing and what could be done about it.

I am not even kidding.

One of my friends overheard the conversation, and we decided it had to be stopped. So Jane sent this beautiful, if slightly silly, blonde woman over to chat with them.

They saw through it immediately. They shooed her away. They were talking business and were not to be disrupted. B and my father, not so different in many ways.

So now it turns out that every time my dad has a new doctor during this current hospitalization, he interviews them. As marriage candidates. I am certain word has gotten out in the hospital. Single male doctors probably avoid him.

When they took out my dad's stomach tube a few weeks ago they did something wrong, and he wound up with a huge abscess. So a new doctor was called in to fix it.

My dad, who was in a great deal of pain, apparently worked through the pain and got the details immediately. Med school? Stanford. Class standing? Graduated top of his class. Age? 38 years old. Married? Yes, married.

My dad said, "Too bad! My daughter is gorgeous! Are you happily married?"

One of the nurses was horrified, the other was amused.

He called today to say he has a new prospect. Another handsome Indian doctor - North Indian, from Chandigarh, and even better looking than Dr. Garg. And dresses really well. And this one? Single.

His nurse - the one who heard him interview the Stanford doctor - had taken him down for an MRI and as she was taking him back up from this most recent medical procedure/marriage interview, she said she couldn't believe he was running around the hospital looking for marriage prospects.

"Why not? These men are well educated!"

She had to agree.

"But you know," he said, "First I screen them for sense of humor. If they have no sense of humor, they're out."

She laughed and said, "You're crazy."

And he? God bless him. He responded, "Well, none of us have any doubts about that."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

No More Pants

Last week I ran up to my friends Sam and A's house to check it out. I'd helped A pick colors and I wanted to see what the house looks like now that it's all painted. And it is gorgeous.

They have a sun room in the back of the house. You can see through to the back from the dining room, which they painted a delicious, strong but subtle yellow. And then A chose a beautiful purple for the back wall of that back room. When you look through from the dining room, you get a playful surprise.

The back wall actually is mostly French doors and windows. So you have this purple surrounding white door and window frames. And through the windows you see the lush green of trees, which works really nicely with the purple. It's serene and fun all at the same time. I love it.

The run was a good one - mostly uphill, which I like being forced to do. I knew they'd be outside, so me turning up all sweaty and gross wouldn't be a big deal. I arrived to find her gardening with her son Z, who is four. Well, she was gardening. He was collecting bugs.

I have to say, she's better with bugs than I'll ever be. She'd be digging with her trowel and say, "Hey Z! Look! A centipede!" And she'd pick it out of the dirt for him to put in his bug jar.

I was stretching on the porch when she whispered, "Hey, Lisa - look!"

Z, it turned out, had needed to pee. And so he'd gone around the side of the house, dropped his drawers, and was essentially drawing circles in the air with pee. It was hilarious.

Truth be told, it looked like fun. If I could do that, I totally would. In fact, if I were a guy, I am certain I'd eventually get arrested for peeing creatively in public. Seriously.

When he was finished, he pulled his undies back up, but decided he was done wearing shorts for the day. He simply said, "No more pants."

And so there he was, catching bugs and helping his mother figure out where the various plants should go. In his blue little boy underwear.

There's such a short window of time in childhood where that's OK. I'm glad A is just letting him run with it. How liberating to stroll around the yard on a warm evening in your skivvies, completely unselfconscious, totally comfortable.

I remember back to not wanting to wear clothes. My brother and I did so as little as possible. We'd get to the pool and I'd immediately strip off my bathing suit. Our photo albums have a variety of pictures with me, wearing nothing but big orange or green water wings, leaping into pools around the world.

The Director came by to get me, and I introced him to my friends. When he said hi to Z, he looked at the blue undies, smiled, and said, "No pants?"

"He was tired of them," I explained. "No more pants."

"I'm tired of mine. Do I have to keep wearing them?"

It probably goes without saying that I patiently replied that he's a responsible adult, for the most part. And so I trust him to make good decisions. Particularly regarding pants in public.

But now this is The Director's new favorite phrase. "No more pants."

A friend has been talking about getting happy hour together somewhere besides the usual places. She is thinking IndeBleu, maybe PS7. I told him about this.

"Those sound like the kinds of places you have to wear pants."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Darkness falls across the land. The midnight hour is close at hand...

Sigh. I know I look like an albino next to lovely, California surfing tanned Jane. I mean, we do have some fear that she will wind up looking like a leather bag, but she says it's a risk she's willing to take.

Jane came to town for a wedding a few weeks ago. And I was once again reminded that it's not that you forget how good old friends they feel; you just don't physically remember till you see them, I think.

It's one of those body memory things. You relax without even thinking about it. They know the best and worst of you. You can let all of your guard down, not worry one bit about whether or not you have a filter, and just BE.

Whenever Jane comes to town I drink too much, sleep too little, and laugh my ass off. The last time she stayed with me, we put up my blinds, which I'd had to take down to have the windows painted, at 2 am. I have high ceilings. And we did this on our third bottle of wine, perched precariously on a step-ladder and books. On a Wednesday night.

Jane is not only incredibly dexterous, but has more stamina than any human around. We kept this kind of thing up till she left Sunday.

Together we can be a little scary for people who don't actually know us.

Jane's best friend from high school, Tony, got married, and she was a bridesmaid. That whole group is three years younger than me, so I wasn't close to them while we were in Delhi. Jane and I got to know each other through our parents years later.

I called her on Saturday afternoon to figure out when and where to meet them. She said, "Oh, God, Lis, I'm so hung over and sweating in this floor-length mocha frappuchino colored dress and it's a pretty dress but the color! oh, the color! and I don't know what we're doing! And it's hot! And I'm hung over! And sweating! Why is DC so hot? And did I tell you about my dress?"

We agreed that she could just call me post-wedding to make a plan.

It turns out they all drank so much the night prior at the rehearsal dinner that at noon Saturday they started drinking hair-of-the-dog bourbon. And just kept going. So when I turned up at 10:30 that night at the wedding reception at Sequoia, well, you can only imagine.

And here's the thing - almost all of Jane's good friends from high school are guys. So here's tiny little Jane, who is a force to be reckoned with in terms of enthusiasm and energy and randomness, keeping up with a group of big, hard drinking guys.

These are really good guys. The kind of guys who will buy you drinks all night and might guilt trip you into doing shots, because you never see them, and it's Tony's wedding, and come on, drink up! But then, because they are not just old, old friends, but good people, will also take a cab home with you and deposit you on your front door, just to make sure you got home OK.

She called around 10 and I jumped in a cab. I ran into Tony, the groom, having a cigarette outside as soon as I arrived. He sent me upstairs to find the rest of them.

I peered around the room briefly, and I don't know why I wasted my time looking anywhere but the dance floor. Because Jane is always so Jane. In fact, most of us are almost exactly the same people we were in high school. We just drink and party less (shocking but true) and have more responsibilities and wrinkles than we did then.

Jane gave me a massive hug and then put her arm around me, hand resting on my hip. Which prompted her to pat me and say, "Ooh! You're wearing Hanky Pankies! I told you you'd love them!"

When I peered around to see who might now know what kind of undies I was wearing, she waved her arm and said, "Oh, who cares? All these guys had the biggest crushes on you in high school when we were little freshmen. They'd be deeeelighted to know what kind of underwear you wear."

What could the guys do but stand there uncomfortably?

I met some of the other bridesmaids, and commented on the fact that the dress - the cut, at least - was fairly flattering. And Jane responded, "I told you this color was difficult! In fact, the only person that this color might look worse on than me is you."

As I'd arrived around the tail end of the reception, people were being herded to the upstairs bar. There was a British fellow who'd been designated The Single Guy - and had been told that Jane and I were Single Women.

Jane was dancing with him when I arrived. We chatted with him as I got a drink at the bar. He'd been following her around for much of the night, and was starting to get a little pushy and petulant about what he felt was the lack of attention she was showing him.

So as we were walking up the stairs, Jane stopped to gripe a little about Single Guy. She didn't want to have to pay more attention to him. And his complaining, in what I'm sure he thought was a flirty way, was annoying her.

He's a good friend of Tony's, so she didn't want to hurt his feelings. But by the same token, she was sick of him. She wanted to know if I thought she was being rude.

And so I said, "Oh, for God's sake, you've spent plenty of time with him. What does he want, you to give him a blow job on the dance floor?"

Bear in mind that we were on the stairs. The stairs everyone was taking to the bar upstairs. And so, just after I said this, one of the other bridesmaids turned and said, "Did she just say 'blow job on the dance floor'?"

Eeee. Cringe. Hi, nice to meet you. We're here to make sure this wedding doesn't get too classy or anything. Wanna know what kind of underwear I'm wearing?

My fears were for naught, though, because once we got upstairs that same bridesmaid started showing us break dance moves from - and this is a true story - a performance she'd had to be part of in another wedding.

They'd all had to do a coordinated dance to Thriller (yes, the Michael Jackson song!) and she was coaxed into recreating it. Break dancing - moonwalking, even spinning around on her back, on the floor of the bar at Sequoia. In a slightly tight mocha frappuchino bridesmaid gown. One of the most hilarious things I've ever seen.

And that was really only the beginning of the night.

On the one hand, I wish Jane lived here, and on the other, I don't know that I've got that kind of strength.

Monday, June 04, 2007

In any other context, this would so not be fine

My father has been hanging out with the heroin addicts. He says they have interesting stories.

The Director, who will soon finish his doctorate in psychology, says this is probably because they're on methadone and mellow, and, more importantly, because they're not psychotic.

Because they're not psychotic.

You see, there's a little of everything in there. There was the zombie roommate, who is now gone. There are people who bang their heads against the wall. There are teens with eating disorders. There are people why cry all day long.

So in terms of people for my dad to hang out and discuss foreign policy with, or share moral outrage over the NYT's front page news, well, the pickings are slim.

To get to the psych ward, you can only take one elevator. They have to buzz you up and down. You have to sign in.

All of the rooms have two beds and a bathroom. The doors do not lock. And they are left open. None of the cupboards in the rooms have doors. So everything is out in the open.

Last week someone stole my dad's underwear and socks. Oh, and his toothbrush.

My mother told me this Wednesday night as she was on her way to buy my dad some new clothes.

I asked if she thought it was the zombie roommate who had moved out that day. She didn't think it was him. She thought it was an accident.

An accident? They all know which rooms are theirs! And which cupboards!

"Well, yes, Lis. But they're all kind of nutso, you know."

Oh, right.

I told my brother, who said, "For all we know, there's someone there who cuts up other people's underwear in little pieces and eats it."


All of his stuff, plus various other things that don't belong to him, turned up in a paper bag at the nurses' station a couple days later. Someone else's bible went missing yesterday. That, as you may imagine, was a big drama-trauma.

My dad has still got his sense of humor, dark and twisty as ever.

He got a new roommate this weekend. He seems to be a very innocuous, quiet man. Which is lucky, because there are some really loud, batshit crazy people in that place.

When we were about to leave, my dad tilted his head towards his roommate's side of the room and whispered conspiratorially, "I suspect this one's an axe murderer."

We all agreed that if that's the case, it's truly lucky they're on a floor where they don't even let you have safety razors. He'd have had to check his axe at the sign-in desk.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Humor Chemistry

I don't know if humor is learned or genetic, but I have, for a long time, believed in humor chemistry. Either your sense of humor clicks with someone else's or it doesn't. And, much like that elusive I-want-to-kiss-you chemistry, there's nothing to be done about it if it's not there.

Although truly, if you don't find this post funny - if, rather, it offends your sensibilities and makes you want to keep your pets and children far, far from people like me, I can't fault you.

Yesterday The Director was talking about cleaning out his apartment to move. He said he has a closet full of plastic bags. Which I suggested he recycle.

He said that actually, he will use them.

And I said, "Oh, for drowning kittens?"

Before you hate me - I would never, ever advocate drowning kittens. It just fell out of my mouth. I could just as easily have said babies. Which I know is pure terrible. I don't know why I say these things.

Thankfully, I don't shock or offend my friends. At least, not often.

Yesterday my friend T and I were out walking her dog. Her dog, who is tall and thin and black and beautiful and lovely and playful and likes everyone and, while he worships the shit out of her, doesn't get all territorial.

The Director asked if I realize I am clearly describing him as the opposite of Kaylie. And here I thought I was just giving the facts as they are.

So T asked how things were going with Kaylie. I said that since I am the human and she is the dog, I'm supposed to be the bigger person and make an effort to get her to like me. The Director asked me to do this for him.

The problem is, I just don't want to. It's not that I don't like him - I do. And feel for her; I know that her little world has been rocked. She used to have all of his time and attention, and now she doesn't. I do feel bad for her.

But by the same token, I feel like I have enough on my plate right now without having to work to win over a spoiled dog. Seriously.

So I described my dog frustrations and T sympathized.

And then she said, "Well, how old is she? Is there any chance she'll drop dead anytime soon?"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Eight peas, soccer player legs, and life in the countries that other people's parents use to guilt their kids into finishing dinner

I realized this morning that I still have such a distorted sense of my body. Sometimes I think I am past it, but I'm not. I don't know that I'll ever be.

I no longer look in the mirror and only see my thighs. I can take compliments, and in fact, eat them up. It used to be that if someone said I had a pretty face, I would immediately think, "Oh, god, he thinks I have a horrible figure."

Fucked up.

That horrible eating disordered culture that you find in schools here was also present in my high school in India. India! Where people were starving for lack of food! But there we were in this American school, all these weight-obsessed, eating-disordered high school girls.

Our parents could never say, "Finish your food! There are children starving in Bangladesh!" Because, of course, we could literally just walk our plates out the gate and practically trip over those starving children.

In high school, at 5'3" my weight was mostly 110, although depending on the year, I fluctuated between 100 pounds (my lowest) and 115 (in a heavier year on a hugely bloated PMS day). I weighed myself every day.

I remember weighing myself and being 5 pounds heavier than the day before, and bursting into tears with my best friend Kris and wailing, "How did I get so fat so fast?"

To get down to 100 pounds, I exercised three hours a day. I would run five miles at noon in the Indian sun and think nothing of it. I ate as close to nothing as I could manage.

Actually, there were so few things I would eat, I can still remember what I ate just about every day. And it was not very much.

I walked to school - 2.5 miles - so I figured that probably burned off breakfast. After school I'd go running. Somewhere between 3 and 5 miles, unless it was a weekend, in which case it was more like 7 or 8. And then lift weights. Or, if it wasn't a weights day, swim a mile. And then walk home - another 2.5 miles. Which then prepared me for dinner.

Dinner, dinner was always incredibly stressful from a food perspective. Hell, it was stressful for a multitude of reasons, because if you have been reading, you know how fucked up but unwilling to talk about anything my family was. So any issues, oh, they weren't discussed. We just let the palpable tension hover over the table and suffocate us just a little.

I mean, really, if your dad accidentally set himself on fire, would you jump up to help him, or would you pass the salt?

My family always ate together. You had to be home for dinner. It didn't matter if play practice or sports or anything ran late. You weren't late. And dinner was where my father could comment on what I was eating and how skinny I was.

But dinner was also a daily personal triumph. Because, as I have said before, my dad couldn't do anything but get upset about the fact that I was only eating 8 peas and half a potato. Or six string beans and the broccoli I'd picked out of the stir fry. Or whatever.

He would fume and I would give him baleful looks, and carefully, oh so carefully, spear one pea at a time.

When I got down to 100 pounds, I looked like a stick. With thighs. And I hated my thighs. But there's only so much starving and exercising you can do to change your body. Your body type is what it is.

I still have soccer player kind of legs. Now I can pat my thighs and say, "With these legs my Viking ancestors walked across the prairie." Ha. Now I can mostly appreciate them. But then, I loathed them. I couldn't see past them.

And I had it all very carefully under control until I got to college and my world fell apart and lost any modicum of control I had. I ate chocolate and cried every day. I gained 30 pounds. I was so thoroughly wretchedly miserable. And it took me a couple years to get it back in hand.

Now I don't ever weigh myself; I haven't for years. I can't - I obsess about the number. And I lift weights, so though I don't have a big frame, I've got a lot of muscle. I've been told a variety of times, by men who have physically picked me up, that I'm a lot heavier than they expect from looking at me. This is OK with me, as long as I'm fine with my size.

For the last week or so, though, I have been seriously convinced that I had practically doubled in size. Warm weather clothes which, last time it was this warm, did not fit me snugly, were tight.

Truly, all it takes to send me on one of two wildly divergent courses - either a long run or the consumption of a consolatory pound of peanut M&Ms - is a suddenly too-tight pair of pants.

I'd like to be able to manage what are actually only a couple pound weight fluctuations with equanimity. I'd like to feel like it doesn't matter. But it's such an insane trigger. These pants are tight=I'm fat=nobody is ever going to love me.

It's toxic thinking, to be sure. Completely irrational. But I still have not yet gotten rid of that deep-down panic reaction.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Just because it worked for the astronauts...

I wore a tank top to work yesterday. At the office I had on a cardigan so as not to be too revealing. But walking to work and when I went out for lunch, it was too hot to wear the sweater.

I walk to work with my bag slung across my body. It's a black leather bag. With, I've discovered, a propensity to stain things.

So yesterday a colleague and I went out to grab lunch. I left my bag at the office. It was warm. I took off my sweater. We were in line with salads when she said, "What happened to you?"

It looked like I had a massive bruise, as if someone had taken a pole and whacked me diagonally across the back, starting at my shoulder. We later figured out that it was my bag. The blue-black strip turned out to be the same width as my bag and the same direction across my body. I think that bare skin and skin lotion and heat all facilitated the soaking in of the bag dye into my shoulder and back.

End result? Me mincing about in public looking like I was into, I don't know, being beaten?

Was that why those cute lawyerly men in suits behind us in line kept giving me looks? Because wasn't there that woman who put herself through college being dominatrix and all of her clients were DC lawyers?

But anyway. The point is this - I clearly haven't changed since I was little.

When we lived in Bangladesh, we didn't get citrus fruit. Which is not to say we were deprived - there were tons of tropical fruits available. But no citrus.

This mainly meant we didn't have orange juice. But we had Tang! Which was my favorite drink on the planet. So orange, so yummy! And the drink of the astronauts! Ha!

The school I went to was K-7. Seventh grade was as high as it went at that time. I say this because it meant that the seventh graders were a big deal. They were the big, cool kids of the whole school.

And so every morning I drank my Tang with breakfast. And ran out the door to the school bus. With, unbeknownst to me, a bright orange Tang mustache.

Until one day one of the seventh graders saw me on the playground and said, "Hey! It's the girl with the orange mustache!"

The girl with the orange mustache.

Please picture the following. You are shy. Very, very shy. You already stick out a whole lot in Bangladesh for your pale pink skin, your light blonde hair, and your blue eyes. And although you get a great deal of positive attention because of these traits, you hate that you stick out. But your school has a lot of American and European kids, so you mostly blend in there.

Except for the fact that you have an orange mustache. Everyone, it turns out, everyone knows you as "the girl with the orange mustache."