Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One reason I don't ask my brother for advice

I'm not loving my hair. In fact, I kind of hate it. I went in for highlights and a trim, and came out with short beige hair. In a weird sort of hair mourning, I'm wearing an entirely beige and brown outfit today. If I were in the desert, I'd be invisible.

I don't tend to get upset about hair anymore - it's just hair, after all. But lately my stylist and I are not speaking the same hair language and it bums me out. I'm willing to stick it out for a couple more haircuts and see if it goes back to good again. Because changing stylists is almost as stressful as changing jobs.

I've been going to the same salon for years. The stylist I go to now is my fourth at this place.

The first had a horrible nasal voice with a Michigan accent and gave me bangs, and when I asked why, she denied it. How do you deny bangs? So I ditched her, although there was that weird flinch moment when I wound up getting my hair cut at the next station. We pretended we didn't know each other. Kind of like when you're out on a date and run into someone you went on one or two dates with. Awkward.

The second stylist was this hilarious woman who had incredible stories and got fake boobs somewhere along the way. She quit to open a salon with her boyfriend, so I started going to a friend of hers. Who told me, among a variety of shocking things, that her friend's boyfriend had the most ginormous penis you could imagine.

Anyway. So I went to her for a while, and then she moved to Miami to live the high-heels-by-the-pool life. Which is how I started going to my current stylist, who she recommended and who I generally really like. We just need to get back on a wavelength (no pun) and I pray that happens. I dread starting over.

When I moved to San Diego after grad school, I asked my brother for a recommendation for a hair stylist. Because you can't just pick one out of the blue. He'd been there several years, and he worked with a lot of women. I figured he could help me.

He said, without hesitation, "Absolutely! I've got a woman I love. A bunch of my friends go to her, too."

And so I went off to see this woman, who was in a nice salon. She ignored everything I asked for and gave me a horrible haircut. Horrible.

Which caused me to call up my brother all kinds of upset.

"She sucks! Your stupid haircut woman sucks! She gave me a terrible haircut. Why do you like her so much? What's so great about her?"

"Oh," he said. "Well, she's really hot. Plus when she washes my hair she brushes her boobs against my arm."


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Halloween version of car camping?

I hate to be all, "When I was a kid, a can of Coke cost five cents..."

But honestly. When I was a kid, none of us dressed like sluts. We just wore kid costumes. I was a really good witch one year, with a long papier mache nose that my mom had made for me. My brother liked to be a cowboy.

I remember one year I was a bunny. But not a sexy bunny. A big, dorky, white, flop eared bunny. They weren't supposed to flop. We just couldn't get them both to stand up at once. And of course since I wore thick glasses, I was a big, dorky, white, thick glasses-wearing, flop eared bunny. With sandals. Because it was hot. It was Bangladesh, after all.

I know Halloween has gotten popular all over the world in recent years. Who doesn't like a holiday with costumes and tons of candy? But in the 70s in Bangladesh and Egypt? Not so much.

We went to American or international schools, so of course we'd celebrate with a parade at school. But then Halloween night? We'd get all dressed up in our costumes. And then our parents would drive us around. Because the houses with Americans were few and far between.

There was no house-to-house trick or treating. There was get in the car, drive, park, get out of the car, and run up to the house all excited.

We'd go to the door, "Hi Mrs. Novins! Trick or treat!" and then the parents would chat a bit, and maybe have a cocktail, and then we'd load back up in the car, and we'd drive to the next house. I suppose it made for more drama per house, but it lacked that excitement of tromping around in the dark with a bunch of your friends, wondering what you're going to get at the next house.

And of course you were never going to pull any Halloween tricks. Like that was ever a consideration when you're standing in a nice living room with friends of your parents. It was more "Treat or treat! And Mr. Davis? Can I have a grape lolly pop? I hate cherry."

The good thing was, you had more time to select candy.

I think they must've given us a lot of candy per stop, because we'd always wind up with a ton, and the whole adventure can't have been more than ten houses. But ten long houses. I'd wind up falling asleep in the car on the way home.

See? We did American kinds of things...In a modified kind of way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The guy's answer to the slutty nurse costume

Bob's birthday is on Halloween. And so of course we wanted to know what he was going to dress as. Because it's his favorite holiday. And if Halloween is your birthday, you ought to be able to come to the office in costume. In fact, you ought to be obligated to. Don't you think?

The area that we sit in is all women except Bob. And at the lunch where we were having this discussion, it was a huge group of women and two guys. So Bob jokingly said he was going to dress as a rooster. And he got all fake-swaggery. Rooster in the hen house. Heh heh.

But then someone else suggested Bob dress as Superman. She hinted that we'd all like to see him in blue tights and a cape.

But if you've leapt from rooster to Superman in one go, of course Supercock was the only natural next suggestion. Don't you think? You know, he could leave his shirt open and you could see the feathers instead of an S, and, yeah, well anyway. Heh.

I thought it was hilarious. So did Bob. The rest of the table thought we were retarded.

Bob loved the Supercock idea. He even told his parents about it the last time he talked to them. And told them it was my idea. Which of course it was. But really.

So I ever meet them, which is unlikely, but still, these nice, conservative, Pennsylvania people are going to be like, "Oh, Bob, is this your little Supercock friend?"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sparkles! Puppies! Hand holding! Rainbows!

Say you start a date with dinner on a Friday night and it ends on Sunday afternoon.

And you spent a good number of the hours in between those two moments in time doing the following: wandering around your neighborhood, holding hands, taking pictures of stuff to turn into silk screens (and he, like much of the Western world, is so much taller than you, with such longer arms, was totally willing to extend the long reach over the fences of neighbors to photograph a particularly enticing leaf much closer than you'd be able to manage), poking your noses into fun shops, meeting up with friends, and grabbing meals and glasses of wine along the way.

And when you said goodbye, after what turned out to be quite an extraordinary amount of time in a row, you realized you could easily, comfortably, happily have spent more time with this fellow.

Then, even though you have this well-constructed terror, based on multiple data points, that everything can be arbitrary and anything can end at any moment...And you are self-aware enough to realize full well that sometimes the arbitrary and the complicated can be traced back directly to you...

All of this still makes you wish it were Wednesday already.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just remember: people speak English!

A friend is talking about going to Paris. And how she's worried because she doesn't speak French. And of course Parisians have this terrible reputation.

I said that I love Paris, and I've only had amazing experiences there, and that, with the expected exception of a couple bitchy saleswomen in swanky stores, people are always lovely to me. I do speak French, but at this point it's pretty sketchy. I smile a lot, though, which probably helps.

And then I reminded her that people speak English.

Which in turn reminded me of an embarrassing little story.

Because sometimes? Even though I don't go to Europe looking like I'm dressed to mow their lawns? Even though I wouldn't be caught dead wearing white sneakers, a fanny pack, and a visor?

Sometimes I'm the loud American you don't want to be associated with in public. Although actually, now that I think about it, that could be said for me in the US as well. Maybe it has nothing to do with travel.

A few years ago I was in Paris with my friend Kris, an American friend of mine who lives there. We were out shopping. I think it's worth mentioning that at the point this conversation took place, we were shopping for an outfit for her daughter. In other words, we were in children's clothing.

We'd been talking about a variety of things, as you do, but we'd somehow gotten onto the topic of health care and medicaments. And how in France it's not terribly unusual to have medications offered in suppository form, which is something you don't really encounter much of in the US.

And then something caught her eye and she darted over to it. So we were a good, oh, two rows of clothing apart when I proclaimed, and not quietly, "Honestly, the whole idea of sticking anything in my anus really makes me twitchy."

This man a couple feet away from me whipped around, eyes wide. My friend held up a dress on a hanger in front of her face.

She hissed, "People speak English!"

Yikes. They sure do.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If you can't talk about the weather, you should just leave immediately

I had the most awkward date the other night. The only successful conversation we had? Was about sharks, alligators, and Komodo dragons. I kid you not.

And the thing is, it's rare that I'm faced with someone I just can't talk to. We moved a ton growing up, and I was always walking into new situations and introducing myself. I was raised going to all kinds of embassy receptions. I like meeting new people and hearing their stories.

Usually you can find common ground. And until you do, there are still tons of random little things to talk about. There just are.

But I swear we couldn't keep a topic going. It was not what I'd expected at all. He's cute and he'd seemed funny before. But so not funny on this date. Painfully not funny. And we couldn't exchange more than three sentences in a row.

Not even about the weather. Everyone can talk about weather, can't they?

It doesn't have to be an in-depth conversation. I don't have much to say about the weather. But if you start by agreeing on something completely prosaic, it makes it a little easier. Yes, it's hot. Crazy weather we're having. New topic. But at least you've begun somewhere.

I arrived in a rush, and super hot, because the clothing of the season do not match the weather we are having. And so, while I had no intention of talking about the weather, I was like oh, it's so warm and crazy for October and what about global warming?

He just read something that made him not so sure about global warming. And the weather is not actually that unusual. You really have to look at longer increments of time.

Huh. Well, whether you believe in global warming or not, for me personally it's really hard to figure out what to wear to work so that you can look like fall but not sweat to death. Because it's shockingly warm.

According to him, I should just wear summer clothing. I said I can't without looking ridiculous. He disagreed. Why would you flat out disagree? So, fine. Whatever.

This is where it all began. Not to self: If you can't talk about the fucking weather, you can't talk about anything.

Seriously. Art? Nope, no common ground. And he made it so difficult. Like he was expecting me to disagree with him from the outset. And when I did, it just confirmed his expectations.


He tried sports. World Series! He loves the Red Sox. Do I like the Red Sox? Well, truthfully, I'm pretty sports oblivious. I went to a Nationals game recently, though. Does this count? No, not for him. OK, then.

So he pointed out that I went to Carolina! I should at least follow Carolina sports! I don't. Could I name one current Carolina sports figure? No. How about a former one? I said Rick Fox.

How ridiculous! Why on earth would I pick Rick Fox? Um, because he's hot? So Rick Fox was a recurring item. Every time there was a lull in conversation, which is to say every, oh, three minutes, he brought up my choice of Rick Fox. This was too good for him to let drop. Hot, according to him, was no reason to pick someone.

Fine. Whatever.

Hobbies? Another entirely unsuccessful line of conversation. He asked about hobbies, so I started telling him about the textile stuff, about which I'm obviously really passionate. To which he said, "So basically, you tie die."

Here's the thing. He wasn't a dick. He was just really awkward. I knew he was trying to be funny, but it wasn't working. And so I laughed politely and then did a bit of sincere explanation. Because I was desperate to talk about something. And this I could talk about.

So he interrupted to say, "So do you ever dye anything just all black?"

I just looked at him in confusion. I didn't know what to say.

And so he said, "You know I'm just kidding with you, right?"

I said, "I do, and I'd love to run with it, but I simply don't know how to respond. Where would you like me to go with this?"

No suggestion.

Finally I said, "I just don't think we have anything in common."

He disagreed! I decided not to press him for examples. I didn't need to be right. I was beyond looking for commonality. I just wanted the bill to arrive so we could leave.

I asked, "You would, however, agree that conversation has been awkward?"

He did agree that conversation had been difficult. I believe this was our first agreement.

"Actually," he then said, "when a friend has a hard time with conversation, he has three questions he usually asks. One of them is how many five-year-old kids you think could take you out."

This made me giggle. I said three.

He said, "You could handle more than three five-year-olds!"

"I doubt it. They bite. And seriously, I'm not that big."

Finally, accidentally, I think because of the bitey five-year -olds, I mentioned sharks. It turns out we both have a fear of deep water, even if it's a lake, because of sharks. Jaws, actually. Even though we know it's irrational.

The only time that our conversation was actually easy in the hour and a fucking half it took us to finish dinner was when we were talking about reptiles, which of course were the natural progression from sharks. Because, according to him, to get away from a shark you punch it in the nose. Which is, apparently not that different from an alligator, except you have to get to the side of them and hold their jaw shut.

Which led me to tell him one of my favorite facts about Komodo dragons. They have these serrated teeth that hold a lot of bacteria. And so if you don't bleed to death from the bite you'll most likely die from infection. I don't know why I think this fact is so cool. Probably because I'm a nerd.

So, he asked, did I think an alligator and a Komodo dragon would be evenly matched in a fight?

Honestly. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What to do with the men who don't kiss you?

I ran into The Doctor, a guy I'd gone on four dates with, and just recently stopped hearing from, on Friday night. He was with a really pretty woman with long brown hair. We exchanged smiles and hellos.

The Doctor never kissed me, so while he started out as The Doctor, he sort of morphed into Mr. 4-Date No Kiss. This distinguishes him from Mr. 3-Date No Kiss, who I went out with earlier this year.

But now that I think about it, they had a lot of behavior in common. Except that on top of the no-kissing, The Doctor never touched me. Not a brush on the arm, hand on the back, nothing.

In fact, on our last date, I started pushing boundaries, just to see if he'd twitch. At the bar I scooted my stool close to his to make our knees touch. I grabbed his wrist when I was making a point about something. And the closest he came to touching me back was reaching over and putting two fingers on the charm of a necklace I was wearing. Not skin to skin, but close.

I've dated a lot of take-charge men, and they're so familiar. So if someone doesn't want to kiss me, I get into this loop of doesn't he like me? But if he doesn't like me, why is he asking me out? If he wants to take me out, why doesn't he want to kiss me? Is he just not attracted to me? And so on. Very unhelpful.

I got set up with Mr. 3DNK through friends. The wife is a friend of mine, the husband a friend of his. The wife said she couldn't exactly vouch for him, but he seemed very nice.

Our first two dates were fun. I wouldn't say we totally connected, but he was smart and cute and nice, and very polite, and those are a good place to start.

Because I had been told that he might be kind of shy and was very polite, I wasn't surprised when he walked me to the door and didn't try to kiss me on the first or second date.

We all agreed he wasn't my typical type. But I'd begun to deal with the fact that my type - super Type A take-charge kind of guys - weren't necessarily making me happy. Or rather, as my friends pointed out, they were making me abjectly miserable. I needed to try different types of guys. And just chill out and see.

So maybe the nice, reserved guy would be the way to go? Unless he didn't like me. Which I was pretty sure was the case by the end of date three. Because he also barely contacted me, and when he did, it was by email rather than calling. And mostly just to set up a date.

But he asked me out again, and I said yes again. And then, on date number four, he did in fact kiss me. He didn't grab me and kiss me like a porn star, but still. Very solid, fun kissing. This seemed possibly promising.

And then a week of barely any contact, but another date invitation.

I think, all told, we went out maybe seven or eight times over the course of a couple months.

I didn't know what to think, but I was like, well, I have a nice time while I'm on the date. And so why not? I always decide things too fast. Maybe it needs to grow. I just don't know how to let things go slowly and grow.

Even though there was clearly no growth. It didn't progress at all. Each of these dates was like its own island. Totally isolated.

But anyway. The last time we saw each other, I wound up at his place. And so there we were, and I was thinking, "Well, I guess I could probably sleep with him and then see..."

So silly, right?

And then it occurred to me that I didn't have any particular desire to sleep with him. That the whole thing was devoid of passion. And that, in fact, he provoked no emotion whatsoever. And did he even like me? Maybe he just wanted someone to take out for dinner.

Seriously. Picture being this poor guy. You're kissing this woman, and it seems like you're having fun, and she's in your bed, which might even mean you'll have some sex. You have no idea that she's stewing in her head. You probably think things are fine. Until...

I suddenly blurt out, "Do you even particularly like me?"

His jerks back. "What?"

"What are five things you like about me?"

"What? Whatever." He thinks I'm kidding.

"No, really. I'd like to hear five things you like about me."

"Five things..."

I prod. "Yes, five. They can be anything. Like, for example, some people think I'm intelligent. Some people think I'm funny. Some men like my ass. Or my eyes. You could even pick any of those, if you wanted. You wouldn't have to be original."

He looks at me like a deer in headlights.

"Surely, if you keep asking me out, there must be five things you like about me. Or, OK, three. How about we start with three?"

"Do we have to do this?" He's not liking this very much. In fact, I'm irritating him with this line of conversation. He's irritating me with the non-production of one thing he likes about me.

I do realize it's unfair. Because he's not effusive. Even if he liked five things about me, it's just not in his nature to say them. We are so different. And I'm annoyed with all of it.

So I say, "You keep asking me out, so I assume you like me. But then I don't get any sense of what you might like about me. So I'd like to know."

He is silent.

"Because I just don't see the point anymore. We have a perfectly nice time, but after every date I think, huh, well, I'm probably not going to hear from him again. And then you ask me out again. And since I have a perfectly nice time with you, I say yes. And it starts over. Why do you keep asking me out?"

He agrees that we have fun when we go out. But he doesn't have a lot to say. He is so obviously uncomfortable.

"And the truth is, I don't feel any emotion around this. Me! I'm all emotion all the time! Do you feel any?"

I am more emotional than he's ever seen me. He is not an emotional person. I might even be alarming him more than a bit.

And so he admits that he just doesn't know. He's been waiting to see where this will go. That I'm not his typical type, and so he thought he'd see if this would grow into something.

I feel for him. In fact, in this moment, I feel more for him than I have the whole time. Because of course it resonates with me; we are doing the same thing. And we are just so different.

So I gently suggested that by now we'd probably know if it were going to grow into something, and there really didn't seem to be any point in continuing to go out. He agreed. We hugged goodbye, and I wished him well with genuine affection. It was all very pleasant and cordial and lacking in emotion.

And that. Was that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cutie? Why not gorgeous?

My boss just remarked on my level of perkiness today. This was in response to me sticking my head in his office all smiley with a "Hiya boss!" on my way down the hall for coffee.

Coffee! With cocoa! Caffeine! And sugar! Clearly I need to sit tight. I do not need a second cup of coffee.

Perk level, I must admit, is rather high lately.

We have this thing at my office called Quiet Time. Like, if you need to not be bugged, you can slide a panel on your name plate aside to show the Quiet Time sign. But it is small and easily overlooked, and so I usually make my own.

Sometimes people respect it, and sometimes people deliberately ignore it. I've occasionally blocked off my cube with a chair with an enormous QUIET TIME sign pinned to it, and people have stood outside my cube with their hands resting on the back of the chair, talking over it to me.

But anyway.

Since Monday I have had a Quiet Time sign - written on paper with big, black marker - stuck to the outside of my cube. Because I need some uninterrupted think time.

So yesterday my boss came by to grab me for a meeting. I've said before that I really like him, and we have a great rapport. We sometimes hang out socially, and even when I say random and shocking things, he often thinks they're funny. He often says equally, if not more, shocking things, and so he'd be the pot calling the kettle if he judged me for it.

He's a couple years older than me, and reminds me a lot of my brother. This makes it so easy for me to relate to him even though we're very different.

So yesterday I was extremely focused on something when he appeared, and didn't actually look up till I heard him speak.

He said, or anyway, what I heard him say, was, "Hi cutie!"

I gave him a look. "Cutie? So. Inappropriate."

And then I gave him a fake simpering smile and said, "But who doesn't love a compliment? So thanks!"

He rolled his eyes at me. He pointed at my sign. "Q. T. Quiet Time. Dork."

Oh. Heh.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Teen Skipper

Because of last Friday's post, I talked about breasts an extraordinary amount this weekend. Seriously. I'm almost over them completely.

All this talk, though, reminded me that I used to have a doll called Teen Skipper. Did anyone else have a Teen Skipper? Nobody I know seems to remember her, and people I've told about it look at my like I'm crazy.. But I swear, I'm not making her up.

My Gramma Lillian loved to give me dolls. Even though I was a tomboy, even though I actually wanted to be a boy at some point. Or maybe because of that. I got a doll as a gift at every opportunity.

So for one thing, I had an extensive Barbie collection. My favorite was the one whose hair I cut into a super cute bob. But Ballerina Barbie with the leg that kicked was cool too. And I loved Malibu Barbie and her bikini and her tan lines. I seem to recall a friend having one that actually tanned when you put her in the sun. Could the plastic really have changed colors?

Anyway, Barbie isn't my point. My point is Teen Skipper. Teen Skipper had on some sailor outfit, I think. And she had little white sneakers. She was cute but not all girly glam like Barbie. Because, you know, she was a teenager. But without the braces or pimples or food issues.

The distinguishing thing about Teen Skipper was that if you turned her arm around in a complete circle, she went from flat-chested to having breasts. The chest part of her was rubbery, rather than being hard plastic. And under that rubbery part were boobs that would poke out with a flip of the arm.

Actually, I think they came out in two stages, but I might be remembering wrong. But I think that one arm rotation and she had small ones, and two arm flips and they were all the way out. When you wanted to make her back into prepubescent Skipper, I think you turned the arm the opposite direction.

Arm flip. Boobified. Arm backwards flip. Unboobified. It was kind of fun. But how weird is this?

Like, the toy making people are sitting around trying to think of good dolls for little girls. Maybe they are talking about how Barbie is so unrealistic. What girls need is a much more realistic doll that they can relate to. Maybe one that looks all girl-next-door but sprouts magic boobs when you flip her arm!

And why didn't they ever make a Teen Ken? Similar, except perhaps you'd crank his leg to make the magic happen?

Friday, October 19, 2007

I want to be the girl with the most cake

I know it's hormonal, and it will pass. Probably next week I'll feel like myself again. But what I would like to be able to do, right now, today, is reduce my body to parts, and set some aside.

See, normally my breasts are small and friendly and really not much of a bother to anyone. They don't move a whole lot; they don't do anything crazy. I can mash them in a sports bra and go for a run and it's no problem. I stick them in a normal bra and walk to work and it's all fine.

Most importantly: they are never in my way and I don't have to think about them. I can wear low shirts without worrying about being provocative. I can wear tops with a really low back without hesitation or complication. I wear things tight and don't ever fret that tops are too tight.

Except this week. This week the two of them are totally contentious. And they're everywhere I go.

A couple days ago I was walking to work and they grumped, "Grr. We hate this bra. Hate. It. You need to put on a different one. Right. Now!"

"There's nothing to be done about it. We're halfway to work."

"Owie owie ow! Look at us! We don't like this! No! We're disgruntled and we're going to remind you of it every time you move! Ow! We hate you!"

So I said, "C'mon, be reasonable. You're being really annoying."

To which they responded, "Huh, well, you ate too much sugar this month. And caffeine? Not so helpful either. So anyway, that shirt you're wearing? Ha ha ha! We might just leap out of it later if we feel like it! We're crazy and unpredictable! Suck it up, buttercup! There's nothing you can do about us but wait!"

And I thought, oh, you fuckers, you are so pissing me off. And I'm a hater this week anyway.

So once I got to work I stuck them in a sports bra for the day. Thank goodness Jenny didn't need to borrow it.

I'd like to take them both off, set them on the dresser, and then pick them up and put them back on sometime next week. We'd be happier all around. Or anyway, I would. They're probably enjoying the attention.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When you're not actually from anywhere

I've recently been in touch with a guy who went to the same high school as me, although he's younger and we didn't know each other then. But I knew his sister, and we have tons of friends in common, and such similar experiences that he feels like I've known him for ages.

Aside from how much fun it is to talk to someone about Delhi, and reminisce about our lives and friends, there is something so lovely about talking to someone who grew up the same way I did.

For starters, there's no explaining the moving every two to four years, and how it's a great way to grow up but really fucks you up in some ways as well. Like when you try to figure out life and how you fit into it in the country you're supposed to be "from" - when you don't feel any sense of belonging anywhere.

My entire growing up we'd come home to the US every summer. Home meaning the Midwest, to visit relatives. But we didn't live in the US until I was ten. And then that was only for four years, until we headed back to India.

I knew for a fact I wasn't from North Dakota or Minnesota. But I also knew I wasn't from whatever country we happened to be living in at the time. And so, until I was really quite old, if someone asked me where I was from, I'd say, "I don't know."

"You don't know where you're from?"

"No." And clearly, I wasn't being rude or evasive. I was sincere.

They would invariably ask the following questions, to try to get at the fromness of where I might be.

"Well, where were you born?"


"Where do you live?"

"Egypt." (or Bangladesh, depending on the year)

"What on earth are you doing in Minot, ND?"

"Visiting my Gramma Lillian."

You see what I mean?

Now when someone asks I say DC, because it's easier, and because in many ways I feel comfortable here, feel like I've got some roots. But if they delve, it becomes a big long cumbersome explanation.

"Where I'm actually from? Oh, god. Pull up a chair. Want another beer?"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The unbearable impossibility of impartial observation

I went to Bistrot du Coin with a friend of mine Monday night. I love that place. It really feels like a French bistro. It's always warm and bustling and the tables are close.

We were sharing observations on our neighboring diners when at some point he leaned across the table and said, very quietly, "That woman is so infatuated with that man."

I waited for an opportune point to turn around and look at her. And it was true. You could see it all over her face. I kept waiting for strategic moments to turn around, so eventually, through a series of glances, got a look at the guy, and got to see them as a couple.

She was significantly younger than her dinner companion, and more attractive. We never determined their relationship, and though he looked old enough to be her father, we were certain that he wasn't. He looked at her affectionately, but clearly there was a significant adoration differential.

She just beamed at him, so incredibly immersed in him and the moment. I know it doesn't really matter, when you feel that way, that there are other people around you. Because you don't see or hear them. When you feel that intensely, you're temporarily existing in a vacuum.

Still, I had a guilty feeling of being too close to too intimate a scene, even though they weren't even touching, even though we were all in a crowded restaurant. Because the look on her face was just such naked emotion.

It made me slightly nostalgic - oh, god, does it feel good to be that into someone. But also nervous. For her. I was thinking, oh, pretty young girl, your seemingly unreciprocated adoration scares me. Oh, pretty young girl, please don't get hurt! You will, though. I'm pretty sure you will.

I am never an impartial observer.

Two days prior I'd gone to see the new Annie Leibovitz show at the Corcoran with my friend Vik.

The show was a mix of her photos of celebrities, landscapes, and personal family photos. And walking through, I was reminded of how massively emotion-driven I am. The same intensity of emotion that made me uncomfortable at the restaurant is what drew me to certain photos.

Part of what is so amazing about Annie Leibovitz is that she pulls the personality out of her subjects. Her photos of people intrigue you, suck you in. Of course it's interesting to see Demi Moore naked and pregnant. But it's even more interesting to feel her intensity.

So it's not just that these people are famous, but also that you feel them, or feel the tableau that she's designed for you, if that make sense. You're not just looking at pretty or famous or powerful. You're experiencing a little piece of them.

She had a number of landscapes, and though they were of gorgeous places, and though they were large and impressive and probably very well composed, I didn't connect with them.

It was the family photos that drew me in most. It was as if you were invited along, for a day at the shore, for a walk down the hallway of the family house, for a peek into their personal, private lives. There were pictures of her parents and siblings playing with kids and grandchildren on the beach. She captured intimate moments, like her parents asleep, sprawled at opposite sides of the bed, with a grandkid between them.

There were also those photos of her father's decline in health, leading to his eventual death. And those documenting the illness of her longtime partner, Susan Sontag. Her at home. Her in the hospital. Her on a stretcher, being put into an airplane ambulance, going home for the final time.

I'm drawn to things that provoke emotion, but I tend not to have a lot of distance. Or really any. If you are delighted, I will giggle with you; if you offer up your sadness, I get a lump in my throat. And so it goes.

For me those photos of her father and of Susan were too raw and too intimate. I couldn't look at them for very long, because I felt them too much, because they pushed me over the edge of tears.

Because you are there. You have the same vantage point as the photographer. And the photographer is not an impartial observer. You are there in the living room with her father's hospital bed. You are there, mere feet from her partner, laid out in death.

For me, that particular there was just too painfully close.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tarty boots + girl next door life = not so much

A couple days ago I realized that I desperately need some new boots to wear to work. So at the end of the day yesterday I was on the Nine West site looking at their boot selection.

What I needed were just totally practical, medium-heel black boots to wear with pants.

But of course I had to browse. I clicked on this pair. They are black patent and have almost a four inch heel. Clearly one couldn't wear them to work. At least not where I work. And actually, it occurred to me that I couldn't wear them socially either.

In other words, these boots were not to be mine. I couldn't pull them off. But I'd love to.

I have the coolest pair of shoes that I almost never wear. They're Marc Jacobs, black, 5" high (Which makes me 5'8"! How much do I love being 5'8"?) and have ankle straps and big buckles. Truth is, they look a wee bit S&M-y. OK, more than a wee bit. In a very stylish, hip way.

But honestly, they're almost impossible to wear. They are boyfriend shoes, and I don't have a boyfriend. I can't wear them on an early date, because I'd look like all, "Hi! Nice to see you! And, hey, by the way, could you tie me up?"

Yeah, no.

And I can't just wear them out with friends, without getting raised eyebrow heh heh kind of looks from guys. I know it would be the same with these boots. Maybe someone else could pull them off, but not me.

Just to get other opinions, last night I asked if anyone from the quad was still there. And we were at 75% power, it turned out.

So I asked, over the wall, if there is any way to wear knee-high black patent leather boots without looking like a tart. The woman who shares a wall to my left said no, absolutely not. You cannot wear boots like that and not look like a hooker.

And Bob said, "Uhh...Wait...Let me see the boots."

And he came over and looked at the picture and was all, "You could totally wear those boots! I think you'd look great in them."

"Not like a hooker?"

"Not at all."

"Really? But I can't think of an outfit I have that would look OK with them. What would you imagine I could wear them with?"

He paused. And said, "Maybe with...some...fishnets? Definitely fishnets! That'd be great! be honest...I can't really think of anything else."


Monday, October 15, 2007

The power of the quad

I sit in a cubicle. There are four of us in this cluster.

Even though it's a cube, I love love love where I am. I have a wall of windows at my back, and those windows face the front of the building. It gets tons of light and is just really pleasant. The top of the cube walls have windows to let more light in as well.

And also, I love the people I sit near. My quad-mates are two women and my pal Bob, who I've talked about at length.

Bob is the one who started calling it The Quad. We do a check in the morning to see who has arrived. Sometimes Bob will just go, "Ssssssss." and I'll hiss back to show I'm there. Super dorky, but fun.

We check power daily. Bob started it. Like, if one person was gone on any given day, Bob started saying, "Quad is at 75% power." Of course, we feel best at 100% power.

Mega dorks. Yes, we are.

My friend Jenny, who I've recently gotten to know, shares a wall with me, works out a ton. We often run into each other at the gym downstairs. Once I forgot my iPod and ran into her at the end of her workout, so she lent hers to me. Another time I had everything except workout shorts, and really, really wanted to work out. She had an extra pair.

So Friday, at a point where the Quad was at 75% power, I was working away when Jenny's face appeared in the window above my monitor. She whispered, "Hey. Do you have an extra sports bra?"

I whispered back, "Sports bra? Yeah, actually, I do!"

Just that morning I'd brought extra clothes to the office to leave for future use.

So as I was rummaging through the file drawer reserved for workout clothing, Bob's low voice shot over the wall.

"I'm sorry. Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Because if I did, you two just made my day."

So then of course we had to ask him if he had an extra pillow in his cube because I'd forgotten mine and Fridays are naked pillow fight days in the locker room. You know, because the jello wrestling in the showers had gotten kind of old.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Deconstructed screen printing

My friend Laura asked if she could commission a scarf. She didn't have anything specific in mind, but wanted something that would look good with a dark blue jacket she has. Maybe greens? Teals?

One thing I love best is sitting down and thinking about a project with someone specific in mind. Because then not only do you have to think about color, but also about personality. You know how the person dresses, how they move, the way they think, what makes them laugh. And all those things figure in, you know?

I chose a process that as far as I know is called deconstructed screen printing.

It's unlike regular screen printing in that instead of burning an image onto a screen with photo emulsion, and being able to print the same image over and over, this is a one-shot deal. Because the dye in your screen disintegrates as you go.

Basically, you take textured objects - in this case bubble wrap (with bubbles popped - something I used to love doing but now drives me a little crazy), woven rubber floor mat, and a piece of plastic doily. Which reminds me - it's so hard to find plastic doilies! Who knew, till you look for one?

Anyway, you position those as you like under your screen. And then, using a squeegee, you pull thickened dye across the screen. I typically use black dye for this. And then you peel of the textured object and let the dye dry in your screen.

Once it's dry, you take a different color or colors of thickened dye (in this case I chose turquoise and cool yellow) and pull the dye through the screen. At some point the dry black dye starts to loosen and come out of the screen, so your color gets darker. And in some spots you get the black pattern, which I love.

I really liked how this scarf turned out, but I felt like it just wasn't "done" so I took a screen I had burned with a picture of Geishas and printed it here and there on the scarf. It's a reproduction of a Japanese woodcut taken from a coloring book I bought after seeing a cool exhibit on a Japanese artist whose name escapes me at the Phillips a couple years ago. Anyway, I think you can see them a bit in this detail picture.
Deconstructed screen printing is one of my favorite techniques because you have no real idea how your piece is going to turn out. I mean, you choose where you place the screen on the fabric, and how many times to pull dye through.

But you can't control the rate at which the dye in your screen softens and releases from the screen. You don't exactly know how the colors are going to mix. And you don't know, till you steam it and wash it out, how much of the black stuck or how vibrant the colors will be.

Precise people in the classes usually hate this technique. They need more control over the end result. They tend to prefer regular screen printing over all other techniques.

But for me most of the fun is the surprise of how it turns out. Don't get me wrong - I've made some really unfortunate things and wasted plenty of time and fabric.

But when things turn out well, it's so cool. And completely impossible to replicate.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A year of blogging it like a polaroid picture

Today marks exactly a year of LG. A year! I am feeling very puppies and unicorns and rainbows. La la!

I'd like to thank you all for reading. I started writing in a vacuum, and that was fine, because I wanted a way to make myself write every day, and to improve my story telling ability. And I found that blogging was a way to do that. The fact that it was public, even though nobody was reading (except maybe Betty and a couple friends) prompted me to put stuff up. And it was a safe place, because nobody read it.

And then Wonkette linked to a disgruntled post I wrote on foot prostitution, and people I didn't know started reading. Little by little people started to comment, and the feedback was so much fun! The nice comments are still like a little present every time I get one, goofy as that may sound.

There are two best things for me about this blog. One is the amazing catharsis it provides. Do you know how dramatically I've cut down on angst-ridden calls and emails to friends? Do you have any idea how much of a relief it is to put some of this stuff down and let go of it? There's a lot of power and release in it.

And that leads to the second best thing. Not second best. Just listed second. And that's the incredible support I've gotten for writing down things that many people don't even talk about, much less send out into the wide world of the Internets. I've gotten so many virtual hugs, so many notes of kindness. I'm constantly reminded that the world is a good, kind place. It's extraordinary.

I've come into contact with some fantastic people through LG. Some of you I've actually met in person. Some of you I've exchanged emails with. Some of you have blogs I read. Some of you leave sweet, funny, kind comments. And lots of you I do not know.

I know I did this a few months ago, and it was so much fun for me, I'd like to do it again, if you're feeling indulgent and willing to play along. Because I have this massive curiosity about who you are and what you're like. And as you already know, I can write about myself endlessly.

So could you tell me something about YOU? You know, for my blog-o-birthday and all.

I'd love to know as much as you'd like to share. And if all that you want to share is your height, or your favorite pair of shoes, or what you listened to on the way to work this morning, or your least favorite vegetable, or who you took to prom, or why you didn't go to prom, or three things you have in your fridge, or whether you put the toilet paper on the roll over or under...

You get my drift. Anything. Something that will give me a little bit of insight into you.

And, of course, if you're not in the mood, that's OK too. I'm just glad you visit.

Thank you! And big hugs to you all!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time is the longest distance between two places.

A year ago I was in a very bad, no good, dark pit of despair kind of place. I'd been there for much of the year.

For most of the year I'd been waiting and wanting and hoping that B would decide that actually, despite our past ups and downs, he wanted to be with me. He was unsure, he was angry, and on some level, I think he was just plain vindictively enjoying the power seat. And the more he didn't know, the more insecure and miserable I was.

A year ago is when, for self-preservation, I walked away.

There were days last year where I ached so much that I was certain that at some point I'd die of ache. Can you ache to death? Ache yourself into a little grease spot on the carpet?

There were days - plenty of them - where all I did was cry. There were times that I cried so hard that I was pretty sure I was empty. Like, I wouldn't have been surprised to look down and notice my internal organs suddenly clinging to the front of my body. Because I'd turned myself inside out.

I couldn't tell you the day I stopped crying. Although I do think it was like a switch that flipped; I don't think I tapered down. You'd think it might be a day I'd circle on the calendar - but I couldn't begin to tell you when it happened.

I missed him. It's not that I didn't miss him. It just stopped being debilitating.

And you know, in April, when my dad tried to commit suicide, my first instinct was to call B. Because he was there the last time. Because that last time, when I called, he arrived immediately and without hesitation. Because he picked me up, body and soul, and carried me through it. Some guys would bail; he loved me all the more. Nobody has ever, ever been there for me like that.

I did call him this April; I had a desperate need to talk to him about all of it. And then I saw him, and he said of course I could have called him; of course he would have come. I believe him. We hugged goodbye and he said to let him know if I needed him - he'd be there. And I believe that, too. But I can't need him again.

Perhaps if I hadn't been so caught up in what was going on in my family, or so physically exhausted by everything, I might have dwelt more on B, the lack of him in my life. So it's lucky I was too busy to do so. And then I met the Director, who was the perfect person at the perfect time, and to whom I will always be grateful.

So spring went by, and then summer. I would be lying if I said I didn't wonder how B was, or occasionally dread the possibility of running into him on a bad day. Of course I did. But not every minute, not every day.

Then a couple weeks ago, I ran into him. He flinched, ever so briefly. The walls went up in his eyes. Both were inadvertent, immediate and almost imperceptible, and if I weren't someone who notices or if I didn't know him so well, I might've missed them.

I just smiled. I was genuinely delighted to see him. I want to know how he is, but can't know, unless I run into him. I can't say I didn't get stomach nervous, because of course I did. We chitchatted briefly. Our conversation was cut short by the arrival of his friends. And so we exchanged pleasantries, said goodbye.

And it was OK. Nice, even. I didn't run home to cry. Or even ache. I thought about him a bit, but not terribly much.

A week went by. And then on a Friday evening, as I was packing up to leave the office, my cell phone rang. And it was my turn to flinch. A number long deleted, but one I could recite in my sleep.

He'd lost his keys, and had spares of all but the mailbox one. Which he'd have to have re-keyed, unless I still had a set. Did I? Unfortunately, no, I no longer do.

And then we chatted. About his work, his family. I caught him up on my trip to England, Maude, other friends of mine he used to like. Overhearing us, you'd have thought we were old friends. I know because I asked a colleague how I sounded. Normal. Totally normal.

Keys are a totally legitimate reason to call. So it was fine. Unhelpful, but fine.

And so I suppose the point of my meandering examination of this is as follows: Time makes all the difference. A year ago, I'd have told you with all certainty that I wouldn't recover. One of my closest friends told me the other day she was afraid I never would.

A year ago, I'd have been flattened by the chance meeting. I'd have tried to make the phone call into more than it was. I'd have believed he was giving me hope. I'd most certainly have cried.

And now, a year later, I can say I've learned the following. Time is extraordinarily helpful. So is distance. Perspective, when you're immersed in something, is impossible. And you actually can hurt someone so much that even if they still love you, they will never, ever let you back in.

Thanks to Tennessee Williams for the title. And apologies if you were like, oh, god, actually, the longest distance between two places is between the start and the end of this eternal post...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's either that or my love of chevre

Saturday night I was driving around my neighborhood for 45 minutes trying to find a parking spot.

I had groceries with me, and as I was circling I opened a packet of sliced provolone. I kept driving around and around the same damn set of blocks, and getting more aggravated by the minute, and eating more cheese.

At some point I looked down and thought, "I've eaten too much cheese!" And started to giggle out loud.

Because, you see, a year or so ago I went on this not-date date with a guy who lived in my neighborhood. We had met totally randomly, and established very quickly and for a variety of reasons, that we were not going to date. One of the big ones was that he was Republican and wanted to date a Republican. And I did not.

But he had all these interesting things about him - was in the foreign service, spoke five languages, had been all over the world, was moving to Morocco. Plus, he said he had single colleagues who I might like. I should meet them. This definitely made him appealing.

He'd invited me out for happy hour with a bunch of his friends, but I'd been unable to make it. And so one evening he suggested we grab dinner.

So we went out for friendly not-date dinner. And sometime during dinner I realized that it was all about him, his job, his importance, his this and his that. And every time I interrupted his monologue and tried to turn it into a conversation he ignored it. To tell me something else that should impress me about him.


So I decided to ask about the single men he was offering up. The fabulous friends. And he went through the list, naming them, and then giving me reasons why actually, now that he was thinking about it, they wouldn't work out. One smoked. One was just about to move to, um, Thailand. One he strongly suspected was gay.

One by one, he eliminated all. Really, he had no single friends that I would actually like. Pity, that.


And so I think I must have asked about relationships and moving around a lot or something, and the conversation turned to his work and relationships in the workplace. And how his last girlfriend had been a colleague.

"She was so beautiful. I didn't think I'd ever get her to go out with me. But finally she did."

"So," I asked, "what happened?"

"Oh, we went out for a while. And I really liked her. But in the end I had to break up with her. Because she just ate too much cheese."

I almost spat out the sip of beer I'd just taken.

"I'm sorry. Did you just say you broke up with her because she ate too much cheese?"

"Yes. She ate too much cheese."

"How much cheese? And is she from the Midwest?"

"Yes, Wisconsin."

"They eat a lot of cheese. How much cheese? How much cheese is too much cheese?"

I was picturing a woman gnawing at this enormous block of cheddar, as big as her head. I've subsequently had so many conversations with people about this. What kind? Gorgonzola? Swiss? And most importantly: how much cheese is too much cheese?

"A lot. I don't know. She ate a lot of cheese. And I didn't like the way she ate it."

I was giggling. And so intrigued. "But how much? How did she eat it?"

You can see how this conversation had suddenly become fascinating to me.

He was getting agitated. "I don't know. A lot. She ate a lot of cheese!"

"OK, fine. So you broke up with this beautiful woman because she ate too much cheese."

"Yes. Well, that and she talked really dirty in bed. And she stuck her finger in my butt."

With this he poked his finger in the air.

I probably don't have to tell you how hard I laughed at that. And he? Looked very pleased with himself. Like he'd told a great joke. Clearly I found him funny.

After I'd stopped laughing, wiped the tears from my face, and caught my breath, I asked if they still worked together. They did not.

Because I just cannot let go of something like this, I was about to bring up the amount of cheese again. When he asked, "Would you like to go out again sometime?"

I had my hands resting on top of the table, and as he said that, he reached over and started fondling my fingers.

I withdrew my hand.

What to say to self-absorbed cheese eater hating finger up the bum man? "Um, well, I suppose we could go out as friends. In the neighborhood. It's good to have friends. In the neighborhood. We are neighbors, after all."

"But just as friends?"

"Well, yes. Remember how we'd already established that we're not really anything the other is looking for? For starters, you're looking for a Republican, remember?"

"Well, yes, but that's for a serious relationship. We could just have fun."

I took a deep breath and said, "Let me be very honest with you. I am never. Ever. Going to sleep with you." I looked him straight in the eye as I said this.



"Is it because I'm Republican?"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Looking your age?

I hear that I look so much younger than my age all the time. I know it's meant as a compliment, and I take it as such, but quite honestly, I have no idea what to make of it.

Because I don't really know what looking my age is supposed to look like. I have this feeling it looks like what we expect from our parents' or grandparents' generations. You know, pre-sunscreen and staying out of the sun and moisturizing the shit out of your skin and whatever else.

I've got more wrinkles than I did in my 20s, but other than that, I've looked almost the same since I was in high school. Over the years I've weighed more and less, had longer and shorter hair, but my face hasn't really changed and nor has my body.

Also, I don't know what my age is supposed to feel like. I didn't feel grown up when I hit 21, and I didn't feel grown up when I hit 30, and the truth is, whenever I put on lipstick, I still feel like I'm trying to present myself as more grown up than I really am. Like I'm trying to fake it or something.

And I could say the same for my friends, whose ages vary greatly. So does this mean my friends all look young for their respective ages, too?

And then, if we all look young for our age, doesn't that actually mean we all look our age? Maybe we just don't look like whoever is saying it expects us to look.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Emotionally able to leap tall buildings in a single bound

Thursday night I had this dream, this disco-y roller derby grocery delivery dream.

Mostly it was about these roller derby girls who dressed in really tight, spandex, sequined outfits. Some of them were Indian and it was very Bollywood. Very pretty, shiny, sparkly. On roller skates! Tejal was managing them. Which was how I was involved at all.

The setting was partly in a roller rink and partly in a swanky department store. Because there were also a lot of perfume-spritzing women around.

And my friend Marta was also there, consulting on costumes. Which initially I thought was odd, because she is so very practical, but then remembered that she has cute taste in clothing, and if they're wearing roller skates, there's no chance she'll put them in lesbian shoes.

It was all very girly and very high drama. Tejal was having personnel management problems. Because one girl hated her costume - too purple!, and another one wanted more sequins, and another was having a meltdown over the fact that she'd gained weight and she just felt like her ass was too big and couldn't bear to squeeze into her costume and perform.

I was more in the background, playing with beaded tassels on discarded costumes.

And then later in the dream, having slipped out of the disco drama, I was at my parents house, hanging out with my mom.

I was in the kitchen with Betty, who was talking about cooking dinner, when John Neighbor arrived. My John Neighbor, who really is only my neighbor at this point, and who Betty has never met. He had his arms full of grocery bags. Which he handed to Betty.

They clearly had a nice level of familiarity - the kind of familiarity my parents have with their own neighbors. Which made me realize that not only did they know each other, but that he regularly did her grocery shopping. Which was great, because Betty hates to grocery shop almost as much as I do.

But still. Very surprising that John Neighbor would not only be doing the shopping but schlepping it all the way out to the suburbs.

I asked why he was delivering my mom's groceries, and he said that actually, he'd just wanted an excuse to see me. And now that he was looking me in the eye, he could tell that at some point I'd started to really liked him.

So I admitted to him that after I got to know him a bit, I had, in fact, started to quite like him. And that I had been disappointed that that realization coincided with the point at which he stopped asking me out. And in real life, both these things are true.

And that's all I remember of the dream.

The next morning, Bob and I ran into each other walking into our building. I was all in my head about my dream, and, as Bob knows, I am prone to walking down the street not noticing my surroundings. I snapped back to reality just in time to recognize him.

When this happens, my reaction is often visceral. Seriously. You might see my head suddenly snap up, my eyes refocus. Surprise might be written all over my face. Sometimes I even kind of jump a little. Like, oh, hey! look! it's the planet Earth! I've always wondered what it was actually like! Hi! Hi other human!

And then I can either laugh at myself. Ha. Or try to pretend I was here all along. Like, heh, I'm normal! In fact, I'm breezy!

As an explanation for my recent return to our planet right before his eyes, on an ordinary street in downtown DC, I relayed the dream to him. I finished just as we arrived at the door of our suite.

He held the door for me and said, "That's crazy. Dreams are so weird. Roller derbies. Sequins. The neighbor. What do you think it all means?"

"Nothing. Nothing means anything and I'm going to die alone."

He reeled backwards a little, and spread his arms as wide as they will go, which is really, really wide, because he is very tall.

And said, 'Wait! How does one little human being get from roller derby," gesticulating with one hand, "to here - here being dying alone," motioning wildly with the other hand, "that fast?"

I shrugged.

And thought, but didn't say, oh, Bob, you have no idea how fast I can mentally whip through 20 years of a relationship on a first date. No idea.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Close your eyes and think of England

I got a comment earlier this week that said something like, "Maybe if you put out more you wouldn't be so bitter."

Hmm. Do I really seem bitter? I'm definitely bitter sometimes, but not daily or even weekly.

I do firmly believe that if everyone had good sex regularly the world would be a much more peaceful place. There would be less bitterness, less strife. Seriously.

Maybe I'll screen print a t-shirt that says "regular sex for world peace" or something of the sort. But then that might lead to "aberrant sex for world peace" or who knows where.

On a side bar: A friend of mine correlates her luck finding street parking with what's going on in her personal life. When she's having regular sex, she never finds parking. So when she's having a streak of rock-star parking, she knows she's screwed in the sex department. Or, actually, not.

But back to the putting out and bitterness business. Because what does "putting out" imply?

When I think of the expression "putting out," fun is not what comes to mind. Like, if he'd suggested that I need to get laid regularly, that would be a whole different story. I'd say well, sure, who doesn't?

So I was thinking, I suppose this commenter thinks I should've put out for the crazypants (my favorite new term) journalist. Because that would that have made the whole aggravating date worth it and made me so much less bitter about being called repeatedly and angrily in the next couple days.

So, in the fictional "putting out" version of the evening, I've had a dreadful time on the defensive at dinner, and he's pushy and I know I don't want to kiss him, even though he's trying to get me to. What I want, most of all, is to take back the hand that he is firmly clasping, get the goodbye over with and go home.

But then suddenly it hits me! Ooh! Ooh! I know! Oh my god! I know exactly what will make this evening suddenly fun! I'll put out!

And in my imaginary putting out version? It's just like being a missionary wife on one of those British ships bound for America in the 1800s.

You know - you're a little seasick and uncomfortable. You're tired of the same old food, tired of the ocean for miles on end in every direction, tired of having the same old conversations.

And come to think of it, you're pretty sick and tired of your missionary husband. But you're stuck with him, because you know, you're living in an age where women are chattel and all you can do is get married and stick it out.

And so, when night falls, and you say your missionary prayers and get in bed...and it's time for you to put out, you go ahead and do what all good missionary wives are told to do for God, Queen and country.

You reluctantly pull up your Victorian nightgown, close your eyes, and think of England.

Put out more, my ass.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I'm a little stressed lately. And when I get stressed, I eat. Seriously. If I see it, I eat it. That's how it is.

But, being at least reasonably self-aware, I know that means I can't have things like, oh, a pound of M&Ms sitting around. Or a bag of Oreos. Or a kilo of chocolate covered crack.

And so my fridge and my cupboards are fairly healthy. Or sparse. Depends on the day, the week, the moment.

So last night, as I was working and stressing here's what I ate, starting from when I got home to just before bed:

A bowl of pasta (with sauce)
Four granola bars (pumpkin spice flax, or some such thing)
Some really yummy muesli I brought back from England (very nutty, unlike me)
Half a watermelon (yes, a whole half. with salt.)
Roughly a pound of Brussel's sprouts (yes, a pound. with olive oil.)
Two spoons of honey (straight, on big spoons)

Next-day realization: Fiber content of aforementioned list? Alarmingly high.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday.

I have to say, in April I was pretty certain we'd lost him. And even in May, things were iffy. I feel very lucky to still have him in my world.

Two birthdays ago my brother and I gave him a gift certificate for a sky dive. He'd been in the Air Force years ago but never gotten to jump out of a plane. And he'd always wanted to.

And then almost two years went by, and his health wasn't great, and he just didn't feel up to it.

Now, about a year ago, my dad's brother Jack had come to town. He re-met a childhood friend of theirs named Donna, who lives just down the road in VA. Jack's wife had passed away two years ago, as had Donna's husband. And so, after, I don't know, 50+ years of not seeing each other, they re-met and fell in love. And now, in their 70's, they're together.

In case you're wondering why I've suddenly introduced Jack and Donna, here's why. Well, one, I think it's a happy, you just never know kind of story. But two, Donna? Lovely, tiny little Donna? Loves to jump out of planes. She loves the sky diving.

So she told my dad that if he was up for it, she'd jump too. Which I think was nice for him, because Betty is more of a hell no these feet aren't leaving the ground kind of person. And Jack has no interest in it either.

And so a couple weeks ago my dad, Betty, Donna, and Jack headed out to the sky dive place. Aren't they a cute little group?

Betty called me on the drive out, and I told her to tell dad to buy the video, if it was an option. It was. And I watched it recently.

Before they get into the plane they do a little interview with the people who are going to jump. And so, off camera, you hear a voice asking my dad questions. The camera is aimed straight at my dad's face.

The guy asked why he was doing this. My dad said it was a birthday present, that he'd always wanted to jump out of a plane.

The guy asked a few more standard questions and got very typical responses.

And then he asked, "Are you nervous?"

My dad answered, "Not at all."

"Not at all?"


"You know what they say about people who aren't nervous about sky diving?"


The guy laughed. "That they're just plain crazy."

And my dad smiled at the man, looked straight into the camera, his eyes glinting, and he said, "Oh, I'm crazy all right."

"Heh heh." Cameraman unsure of what to say. But no disagreement from the ground.

So happy birthday, Pop! I'm glad you're still with us, still having adventures. I hope you're around for many more.



Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In which I have a new fun project and Canada is just too big

I'm writing speeches for the president of my organization.

He's very articulate, charming and charismatic. He presents well. He has good timing and is witty, and likes clever humor. His speeches have just been kind of factual and uncreative. And he can be very sparkly. So, the last time I heard him speak at a big meeting, I decided that he needs me to write his speeches.

I proposed the idea to our HR director. Who talked to my boss and then to our president. Who was delighted with the idea.

When we met to talk about the idea, I told him, very candidly, that I've never written a speech before. But that I know I can do a good job. And I know I can. I'm just a little nervous about this first one.

I like working with him. He's really bright, professional, straightforward, and consistent.

So yesterday I sat down to delve into it, and I looked up the states that comprise the region whose meeting he's speaking at next week.

And looking at the color-coded map reminded me of an experience in a previous job.

I used to work at a place where the president was a lunatic. She is, honestly and truly, one of the most malignant human beings I've ever encountered. She did horrible, underhanded, manipulative things to people. I'm certain she still does.

She's the only person I know that I have to actively decide, whenever her name comes up, or when I run into her, not to wish anything bad on. You know, because of karma.

Before I worried about karma I used to wish a flesh eating bacteria on her. Maybe starting with her face. But now that I take karma into account, I have ratcheted it down to where I just wouldn't prevent something terrible befalling her.

Like, if I saw that she were about to step off a curb into an oncoming bus, I wouldn't yell to stop her. But I wouldn't push her towards the bus, or try to distract her so she wouldn't notice it, or even secretly fantasize about her stepping off the curb. I am hoping this counts.

So anyway.

Everyone who worked for her tended to keep their head low and just try to dodge any bullets she might be aiming at them. And, while in the office, people lived in her alternate reality. She tended to hire people who were easily cowed. She could tell.

I, however, am not so great at agreeing that something is blue when I know for a fact that it's orange. I tend to be really agreeable and pleasant but I'm not going to agree with stupid shit just because you want me to.

At some point she wanted a map to put on our website that showed all of our members. Which meant the 50 states and Canada.

So I found a graphic designer to create a color-coded map. Of the US and Canada. A nice, simple, accurate map. Very straightforward project. You'd think.

The map they produced, according to her, was absolutely unacceptable. Because of Canada.

She said, "We can't use this! Look how big they've made Canada! Lisa. They made Canada very big."

"Well, but, Canada is big."

"It's too big! Canada needs to be smaller! We need to be much bigger than Canada."

I shook my head. "But we're not. We can't have a map where we're much bigger than Canada."

"Then our American members will think we think Canada is more important! And we have very few Canadian members."

"But if we make Canada small, everyone will think we don't know geography."

"They have to make Canada smaller! Let's think together of a solution. Maybe they could just put the edge of Canada on our map?"

I took a deep breath. I loathed her so much already

"Then we'll look stupid. We can't just lop off most of Canada. Because everyone, even our members, everyone knows that Canada? Is very big."

This kind of thing pissed her off no end. Because you were just supposed to agree. She called a meeting. To discuss the Canada situation.

It was decided we'd ask them for a new map.

And so I called the designers and said that while they had given us exactly what we originally asked for, thank you, we'd like to pay them more money to change it. Because could they, um, make Canada seem a lot, well, smaller?

Yes, I knew that the map they'd given us was accurate. And they'd done a great job. But was there any way to make it rather inaccurate but not totally ridiculous?

They said they'd try.

If I recall correctly they gave us another version where the map was angled in such a way that Canada looked a lot smaller. But even with employees who are afraid of you, it's hard to force a group of smart people to say they think you should put up a map where Canada is dwarfed by the US.

The map project ultimately got scrapped. And I left not long after.

So now, if I see her down the block, I turn the corner or duck behind a building. It's just easier. And better for my struggle with karma.

Monday, October 01, 2007

And the final installment

I promise, this is the last piece of the story about the "what's wrong with you?" date.

I got a call from him the day after we went out.

He left a message. He'd had a great time. And would I like to go out again sometime next week?

Since I didn't return his message within a couple hours, he called again. And then again. And once again. And, you guessed it, again the next day. At which point I really really really was never going to call him back.

So I sent a polite email. I thanked him for dinner. I'd said I'd had a nice time, but really, I didn't think we were particularly well-suited. I wished him well.

And I got an immediate phone call. Which I let go to voicemail. I only listened to the beginning of the message, which was, "Clearly, you're screening your calls."

And then I received an email. Which said, "And to add to my voicemail: I have to assume this is about attraction. And if you weren't attracted to me, don't you think it was unfair to let me buy you an expensive dinner?"

I swear, that's practically verbatim what he said.

I considered a variety of angry responses:

1. I offered to pay, asshole, both for the drinks earlier and for dinner later. You absolutely declined both times. Because going out with someone for "free" dinner? Is something I never do. I value my time more than that.

2. Are you kidding me? Unfair? Just because you bought me dinner doesn't obligate me to anything. If you buy someone two dinners then what do you think they owe you?

3. Are you out of your bloody mind? Stop calling me, take your anger and inflict it on someone else. Christ, go push women with strollers out of the way on the sidewalk or something. Might make you feel better.

But I took a bit of time to think about it. Truthfully, I was afraid he'd keep calling. Clearly, he wasn't afraid to call. And he was so angry. I couldn't just not respond, but I didn't want to provoke him.

So I wrote a very nice email complimenting him about a couple things that I'd liked about him - and sincerely, because he definitely has positive attributes. I said that it was not about attraction, but rather about the fact that it seems to me that if he doesn't get what he wants immediately, he will push until he does. And I don't want to be pushed.

To which I got a very nice, profusely apologetic response. And an explanation for his behavior.

I believe he is a decent person. With a lot of anger and a lot of issues. I believe he meant his kind response. But I also believe his objective was to get me to do what he wanted. Like, hmm, impressing her with my importance didn't work, and neither did bullying. But maybe I can play on her sympathy.

Playing on my sympathy? Are you kidding me? That stopped working a whole, oh, I don't know, year ago.

I didn't delete him from my phone, even though he said that if he didn't hear back from me, he wouldn't contact me again. Because that, I don't entirely believe.