Friday, November 30, 2007

Today is the day to act like today is your day

Today is the last day of November. The last day of NaBloPoMo post-a-day-li-ness.

I was thinking that this is proof that you can just decide you are going to do something every day and then do it. But the fact is that I chose something I really like to do and then went ahead and did it. Big deal.

Because most days I'm thinking of posts as I'm walking around. It's part of why I'm so oblivious while I'm walking down the sidewalk. I get very far into my head. I live something and then swirl it around in my brain and turn it into a narrative. At some point I realized I've always done this. Now I just have somewhere to put those narratives.

This led me, however, to think about things I've disliked that I've gotten myself into the habit of doing. Flossing is a good example. I never flossed growing up. And then at some point after college, one of my dentists explained the importance of flossing. Really stressed it.

So I decided to start flossing. I can't even remember why I disliked it so much, or felt like it was such drudgery. But I know I did. And now if am traveling and forget my floss it really bugs me.

I was staying at a friend's house once - a friend without floss! Gasp! We were having a flossing conversation (because clearly nothing is too prosaic for me) and I described myself as having become "a totally anal flosser."

Just try to undo that image. Right.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Always look on the Wednesday side

Living in DC and parking on the street, I've realized that no matter how ginkgo-leaf covered or tightly parked in or whatever my car is when I get to it, I'm always just so delighted it's still there.

I spent half an hour looking for my car the other day. I could remember that I had parked on a one-way street, although that doesn't narrow it down a ton in my neighborhood. And I knew within a six-block radius where it was. But my mistake was to think I was parked on the Thursday street cleaning side.

I went down that block and turned the corner and inspected several others until I was certain that my visual memory was right, but maybe just wrong about the side of the street. And there it was. On the Wednesday side.

The thing is, I only drive it a couple times a week. And I have to scrounge for street parking. So I can't always remember where I parked it five days prior. This is particularly bad if I'm running late for work and have to move it for street cleaning.

I was talking to my parents as I was looking for my car. I was strolling the blocks, talking to Betty, who asked, very casually, if I thought it had been stolen. I said I'd give it another couple blocks.

I have panicked about my car being stolen before only to find it on a completely different block than I parked it on. I wouldn't automatically leap to the theft assumption except that, well, it's DC.

Plus, when I called the police when my wheel got stolen, the first thing the officer who came to write the report said was, "You're just lucky they didn't steal your entire car."

Right. I'm always lucky they didn't steal my entire car. Just stole the wheel and the lug nuts. Just stood on the hood and smashed a brick into the windshield. Just sideswiped two doors as it was parked next to my building. I get why my insurance went up when I moved into the city. That said, I'm not in any hurry to move out.

So as I'm talking to Betty I hear my father in the background saying "Tell her to ask the police to drive her around to find it." This made me laugh out loud.

He went on to say that at some point when he was in college he and a friend lost their car in New Orleans and the police drove them street by street to find it.

This is unimaginable to me in DC, 2007. Picture me mincing up to some policeman. "Excuse me officer. Would you mind driving me around? I can't seem to find my car." And then I'd be all, "Ooh! There it is! On the Wednesday side!"

Not only am I certain they would not drive me around. They'd give me a duh look and say, "It's probably been stolen."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sunday on the island of what on earth is she doing with that grande jatte?

Parental warning: Dad, this will make you unhappy. Best avoided. Betty, I know you're going to read it anyway.

And actually, anyone who is opposed to porn should probably avoid this as well. It's not that I'm pro-porn. It's more that we saw some and then had to analyze the holy crap! out of it. Honest to god. We brought it up again over breakfast the next morning. And again on the plane. I'm sure we'll discuss it again next time we see each other. It was a little scarring.

On our last afternoon by the pool, we overheard several people talking about the porn channel. One of them turned to us. Had we seen the hard core porn channel?

Jen immediately and loudly said, "Lis! We could be watching porn! How have we spent all this time away from our porn?"

We hadn't watched any TV. We'd definitely not seen The Porn.

The couple on rafts nearest us laughed. And the guy said "Not 37 - that's Playboy. Channel 38." His girlfriend (Or wife? Maybe she just forgot to write "honeymoon! sex 24/7! " on her forehead?) nodded.

So Sunday night, as we were packing and watching Desperate Housewives and then Brothers and Sisters, Jen was flipping channels during a commercial and found The Porn.


All of a sudden, on the TV, was a veryveryvery close up of an enormous, erect penis in an orifice.

"Holy cow! Is that? This must be..."

"I believe so. And that's..."

"But I don't think it's in her...I think it's in her..."

"Holy Christ that's enormous! And it is, isn't it? It's in her...Eeeeee!"

"Ass? Her ass!!?"

"Can't be. Did you see how big that was? That is not going to fit in...Noo! Oh for the love is!"

We both do a little cringy twitchy dance and flip to ABC and resume packing. By the next time there's a commercial and we flip back it's a new woman. She's standing between two men, both of whom whip out astoundingly ginormous erections.

Immediately, the next shot is of genitalia, very close up. All of them. I'm truly astounded by her ability to balance, and squat in those high high heels, with her legs that far apart, and then to time everything. With two people. And still have one hand free for other stuff. It's incredible.

It's like an aerobics video with nakedidity and penisis.

Seriously. It's not sexy. It's not arousing. You would not be at all surprised to have her suddenly say, "Four more! Three more! You can do it! Good job! Next let's do 15 with hand weights."

"She's got to have some serious thigh muscles to do that. How would you be able to keep that up? And look at her balance and coordination of all of this."

"Thigh muscles! Whatever! Anyone can develop strong thighs! How can she be so cavalier about something that vigorous and enormous in her bottom? And where's her gag reflex?"

Now, the truth is, neither of us had ever watched any porn. It's not that I've gone out of my way not to watch any. But I've never had anyone suggest it, either. And so there we are, two porn virgins, going, "Huh?" and "Eeeeeee!" and "Yikes!"

Because honestly, the bulk of what I know about porn I learned from Boogie Nights. I thought it was all the repair man comes to the door and then they have sex in the kitchen.

So while we wanted to generalize about Latin vs. American porn, we really couldn't. One positive I'd say is that these women seemed to have their own breasts, and they were not huge. They had really nice figures, but normal ones. I do think Americans put much more emphasis on breasts, and the importance of enormity.

But is there always a lot of vigorous butt sex in porn? Was this aberrant or run-of-the-mill? Was it because we were in a Catholic country and it was Sunday?

And also, where do your intestines begin?

All very alarming. We retreated to the comfort and familiarity of ABC Sunday night programming.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The illusion of control

Oh, tired. Very very tired.

The guy I sat next to on the first flight, who was startlingly intelligent and, more importantly in this context, a radio frequency engineer, told us the following. That these safety measures, like the three ounces of liquid bullshit or the no cell phones at take off and landing, are designed to make us feel better, to give us the illusion of control. Because honestly, if something happens, we're totally fucked and there's nothing we can do.

But I think it's so true that we either need to feel like we have a modicum of control over our outcomes, or feel somehow responsible for anything going awry.

Last night we chose to switch flights, but could do nothing about our luggage. So we got to BWI at 9:40 and our luggage, which we had to wait for or risk losing forever, arrived past midnight.

As you know, I fully anticipate death when I get on a plane. I don't sit down intending to die, but if the slightest little thing goes wrong, or there's turbulence, or even funny noises, I immediately go into "this is it" mode.

I've been assured by an aerospace engineer that planes are so over-engineered that turbulence will not take you down. And there's plenty of time for pilots to figure out what to do on the way down if an engine stops working or something. That said, I still have to sit there and remind myself of that. While my eyes are clamped tightly shut and my hands clenched in some form of supplication.

It turns out it's take-off and landing where you're most likely to die. Because there's not much time, and there are so many other planes around. You clip one, you fall to earth, and that's that.

Last night the plane that we switched to shim-shim-shimmied down the runway trying to take off. Truly, the plane was doing a model walk down the runway. Side to side.

We're in this big metal thing that is supposed to be gaining enough momentum to get off the ground by going forward. None of this side-to-sidiness. Either our pilot is not on top of his game or the runway is too slick or some combination and we will surely collide with another plane.

And in my mind it is my fault. Sorry, sorry, sorry Jen. I'm the reason we're going to die in this stupid plane from Philly to Baltimore - a distance we could've walked in less time than all the waiting took. I'm the one who wanted to switch planes. I should never have wanted to switch planes. And now we're going to skitter straight into another plane. And that will be that.

Quick pre-death review: I should totally have kissed the cute guy on that earlier flight. And finished my book - now I'll never know how it ends. And had french fries instead of broccoli with my turkey burger. Who the fuck has broccoli before flying? At least we had the 22 oz. beers. And where is my goddamn Snickers? Oops, sorry God.

I think it's fairly tawdry to bargain with God in moments like those, although I am not above begging desperately when someone else's life hangs in the balance.

And so I don't. I just remind myself of all that is good and kind in the world. And try to remember to breathe. Which helps with the not losing of the shit.

And then you live through it, even the landing, where once again you are pretty certain of death, because the plane is doing a scary bumpy-bump swishy-swish while you are in the air, close to landing, and then rumbles and brakes down the white, mist-enveloped runway before coming to a sloshy stop. When you land, and you might even realize that you are on the verge of tears.

But then you have the next three hours for all of this to dissipate, for thank goodness to turn to pure exhaustion and annoyance, as around 10:30 you stop checking the board obsessively and simply begin to alternate limply between the big wooden bench and the floor near the baggage revolvey thingies.

And you realize full well that you have not one drop of control over any of it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gaming it at the Philly airport

Everything about our vacation was perfect. Truly. Down to the super super cute Cuban American electrical engineer anddidIsaycute? guy sitting next to me on the flight from Cancun to Philly.

Jen was busy studying Macedonian. You've never seen a human work through Macedonian flash cards like that. I was leaving her to study, trying to focus on my book. I don't tend to chat with people I don't know on planes. But somehow around beverage cart time we started chatting and he just made me giggle.

Honestly. I never, ever sit next to the cute guy. And this one? Was so smart, so articulate, so funny, so lovely. And alas, so much younger than me. But honestly, he was like all cute guys you'd ever hope to sit next to while seated anywhere in your life rolled into one.

He made the flight really, really fun. So fun that I even gave him one of my Emergency Snickers. You don't give a Snickers to just any stranger on the plane.

He was talking about learning English, and how for the longest time he confused "congested" with "constipated." So he'd very casually say, if he was sniffly and someone asked, that he was a little constipated.

We laughed so hard. If we could've scooped him up and brought him home with us, we would've.

He even participated in our race in the airport game. Betty and I have been doing this for years. One of you picks a moving walkway or an escalator. And the other walks next to the walkway or takes the stairs next to the elevator. And you race.

Now, the walkway/escalator person of course has an advantage. Unless they get stuck behind someone.

Jen very sneakily sprinted on the walkway to win on our way down to Cancun.

And the cute, cute guy turned out to have no compunctions about leaping over people to get past them on the walk way. He won!

He accompanied us all through customs and on our way to baggage collection. He even got our bags for us. We parted in the "Take this corridor if you're staying in Philly." and "Prepare yourselves for the seven circles and various bolgia that you are about to encounter, including security, where they will practically strip-search you because the rivets in your jeans beep." In one of the early levels, you practically trip over Dante on his own little journey.

And now, now we are trying to game it. Which flight is more likely to get us home? The 9:20 flight, which is the delayed delayment of our, oh, 6:30 flight? Or the 8:55 flight, which has firmly arrived and is visible in solid mass on the tarmac, but has no crew?

Because our bags, they are on the 9:20 AKA 6:30. And so, assuming we are on the earlier one and both flights arrive, we will have to wait for them at BWI. But if the 9:20 is canceled, they will deliver them to us. And we'll sleep in our own beds tonight.

In other words, on which flight are we likely to be least fucked getting home?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our Britney Spears days have come to a close

A guy I know once described his first year of college as what he thinks it must be like to be Britney Spears every day.

He'd gone to a very strict, all-male boarding school. And then suddenly he arrived at college. Where there was alcohol! And women! And anything else you could want! With nobody telling you that you had to do anything!

This has been our approach to life the last couple days. Yesterday was very, very decadent. In case you couldn't tell from the alcohol-soaked near-incoherence that was my post o' the day. I'm sure there were rum fumes emanating from your monitors as you read it.

I mean, it feels like magic when men appear out of nowhere and ask you what you'd like to drink. And then bring it to you. And since you paid for everything up front, it all feels like it's free. You never have to hassle with prosaic details such as prices or bills. We've been all, "Money? Is for bitchez."


And you guys, there's an ice cream machine at our favorite outside bar! Who on god's lush, tropical, beachy, tipsy earth can pass up free ice cream? When you're sitting right next to it?

I'd like to say Lisa and Jen, but I'd be lying to you. It is true, however, that I resisted the temptation to just stand under it with my mouth open and have Jen pull down the vanilla chocolate swirl lever. That I did not do. But only because I was not raised in a barn.

But today we kind of hit our decadence limit. Today we both awoke in our respective beds at 6:30 am. Me, all kinds of hung over, and Jen fretting about doing her Macedonian homework.

While we'd like to be the kind of people who just don't crank it down till, well, the plane hits the tarmac at BWI, we are not. We'd love to be the people who are dancing their asses off, and have their last margarita just before boarding the plane tomorrow morning. Who lose their underwear in the shrubbery and strew broken hearts across the sand like beached starfish.

And instead we think the height of craziness is to have 54 daytime cocktails and too much ice cream! Oh, the power of being in charge of the ice cream machine! Oh, the insanity of a daiquiri before noon!

We're all kinds of crazy like that.

And there might have been a little tiny bit of skinny dipping. But that's hardly worth mentioning.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lemon daiquiris and other monsyllabic words

Jen and I started the day at full power. Yippee! Sunshine!

She went to the gym and I went for a run on the beach. And then ran into her on my way back to the room. I still wanted to lift weights so I asked her where the gym was.

The thing is, we've developed our own vocabulary for the location of things. Because "over by the Italian restaurant" means nothing. So she said, "Turn left at the jewelry shops and it's right behind the Garden of Penises."

Because there is a garden of cactus that looks just like penises with sprouts on top. The Garden of Penises.

That was how we started our day.

Currently Jen is showering. And I'm writing a post. Because she was all, "You need to get your lazy ass posting!"


We discovered lemon daiquiris halfway through the day yesterday. Or maybe it was more like 5 pm, and it felt more like halfway through the day because, when you start drinking mid-morning, everything feels like halfway through the day.

Because suddenly, it's like you're strolling through simple syrup; everything slo-o-ows down.

That's how my day has been, ever since my lovely workout and breakfast.

You're saying the same words to the same person, but they're slower. Nothing makes as much sense as it normally does. In Spanish or in English.

So Jen, who knows I'm plenty smart, gave me the following allowance. She went to Georgetown undergrad, and I went there for grad school. In linguistics. I'd just like to repeat. I studied linguistics. Before we continue.

This afternoon I was trying to guess her middle name.

Me: "What does it start with?

Jen: I'm not going to tell you. But, it's monosyllabic."

Me: "Right. But how many syllables does it have?"

Jen: "Lis. It's mono. Syllabic."

Me: "OK. Fine. Be elusive. So what does it start with?"

Jen: "F. And. It's. Mono. Syllabic."

Me: "OK! Fine! Filomena?"

This, my fine friends, is where we are. And we still have dinner and 80's night to contend with.

All very monsyllabic.

And now Jen is getting me another goddamn cocktail. And I can't even tell you how many syllables it has.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fake grace in the tropics: water ballet and other couples' sports

The most strenuous thing we did all day today was swim against the current in the lazy pool. Oh, and some water ballet. Oh, and we did put a little effort into ardent reapplication of sunscreen.


I think the pool might be salt water. It's chlorinated but also tastes a little salty when you lick it off your lips. And it feels salty when it goes up your nose.

This one guy asked if we thought it was salt water, to which we said yes. And he said he thought that was new, because yesterday it didn't seem salty.

To which I responded, "Maybe it's because the tide came in?"

Blank stare. Either he didn't get it or just didn't think it was as funny as we did. Or maybe he just needed another cocktail.

One of the pools is big and sort of donut shaped and has a current. In the wide parts it's gentle, but in the narrow parts the current is actually quite strong. So you can sit on a floaty thing and have the current take you in a big loop. Except who wants to just be floated in a big loop? And so we discovered that swimming against the current is harder than it looks. Plus you have to keep swimming under couples who are lounging on their big floaty things.

There are a lot of couples at this resort. You know which ones are honeymooners, too. I mean, if you don't know by the schmoopy looks on their faces, you know by the labels on their doors. There are these huge, diagonal ribbons, much like beauty pageant ribbons, marking them as honeymooners.

It's kind of like putting a big sign on the door saying, "We! Are! Having! Sex! 24/7!" Don't you think? At any rate, if I were on my honeymoon here, that's what I'd be hoping for. Maybe I'd just write it on my forehead with a Sharpie.


So this afternoon it occurred to me that perhaps people think we're a couple. It was like this was a hugely out there idea when I asked Jen. Who gave me a "Duh." look.

"Yes, Lisa. People definitely think we're a couple. For example, remember the couple who were clearly a couple who chatted with us in the pool? The ones who very obviously thought we'd be a cool couple to hang out with?"

Oh, yes, them. Yes. I believe that to be true. But then again, they might just have been really impressed with our routine.

Because did I tell you about our water ballet routine? It turns out that after you've had three mojitos, which, yes, mom and dad, I do know you could drown, but the pool is only four feet deep, water ballet becomes really fun.

And you know what else is really fun? Coming back to your lounge chair from a swim and having a nice cold mojito just sitting there waiting for you. Hee hee. Fun!

Although in truth, it's all fun and games until you're synchronizing the "You do the front flip over while I slide on my back on the bottom, and then I'll do a back flip..." and you get water straight up your nose. And come up all snorting and sputtering for air.

I think we appealed most to the other couple during pre-flip practice. When we were discussing possibilities for our routine. Jen was offering suggestions on our ballet swim moves, and said, "And then you just go ahead and fake grace."

Fake grace? I'm all about the faking of grace. I do it all the damn time.

Until I get salt water up my nose.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Plus fear of pie and a list of thanks.

I've gotten a lot of criticism for not loving Thanksgiving. It's practically un-American not to like this holiday everyone else loves. It's not that I'm not thankful; I am. It's just that the whole dinner thing used to really stress me out.

So this post has two parts: my historical dislike of the holiday, and my list of thanks.

My dislike of Thanksgiving began in high school with fear of food, fear of fat, and dislike of darkness and cold. The family stress during the holidays is the dollop of whipped cream on top.

Pre-global warming, Thanksgiving was always cold, no matter what country we lived in. And it's dark so early this time of year. So you're not exercising as much, and your brain and body are craving light. And instead they turn to carbs.

If you're one of those people who is weight-obsessed, with a family that might or might not behave well together, it's a terrifying holiday.

Dinner comes and you're stuck at an enormous table. Where everyone is piling their plates as high as their noses. And they will look over and comment on what you're not eating. And you look around the table and all you can see are pools of butter and fat and sugar. In other words, calories. Gajillions of calories.

There's also lots of wine. But until you are an adult, you cannot access it. And so you do not have the escape that many adults use to take the edge off the ordeal. Oops. I mean meal.

So it turns out it's hard to eat six unbuttered string beans and two bites of turkey and pretend it's normal on Thanksgiving. And then there's all the pie. Oh, do I love pecan pie. Maude's mom used to make this chocolate pecan pie that was just like crack, or anyway, what I imagine crack to be like. One of the best pecan pies I've ever had.

So the pie. You can't not eat pie when it's right in front of you. Even if you tell yourself you're only going to eat three bites. Because everyone lingers at the table. And your pie just sits there, staring at you.

So eventually you eat, reluctant nibble by reluctant nibble, an entire yummy golden-brown baked piece of heaven. A whole piece of pie. Twitch, twitch. And the guilt almost kills you. Especially when, if you sit there long enough, you eat a second piece in the same manner. Including the crust. Because do you know how fattening crust is?

You tell yourself that everyone else is doing it. This is something normal human beings do. It should be fine. And then this reminds you that you are not a normal human being.

So then you sit there in a panic and silently calculate how much running you will have to do tomorrow. That is, unless by the time you wake up you are unable to fit in your running clothes.

I used to be able to tell you the calorie count of a piece of pie. Apple vs. pumpkin vs. pecan. If I recall correctly, pecan is the worst, fat and calorie-wise. Except for the eat a ton in case you die on the plane pre-travel sweet-eating, I still couldn't eat a great deal of pie without some guilt and calculation. But I could certainly have a piece or two.

So that's the fear of pie. It sounds so stupid when you write it down like that. Fear. Of a piece of pie.

And now a list things for which I am thankful.

I'm thankful to live in a country with immense physical comforts and amazing opportunities. I'm particularly thankful for that as a woman. I don't take these things for granted. We may have a very suspect regime in power at the moment, but I feel thankful for so many things about life here. It's easier and safer than in so many places.

I am thankful to have both my parents, and to have them at close range. I am thankful that Betty and I share enough interests and understanding to be best friends. I am thankful that my dad and I continue to progress in our ability to communicate.

I'm thankful to have really dear, close, loving friends. I've relied rather heavily on my friends this year, and they have been there for me without hesitation. Even the ones who live far, far away. I can't adequately express the extent to which I'm thankful for them.

I'm thankful to work somewhere that I love my boss and my close coworkers. I love The Quad. I love Tej and Marta. I'm not always riveted by what I'm doing day to day. But it's really important to me to like and respect the person I work for, and the people I work most closely with. And I am thankful to have that. And to have a job that pays my mortgage and then some.

I'm thankful that I'm in a better place than I was a year ago. It's taken a lot of help and a lot of work. And I'm thankful to be moving forward.

You know, while I'm on the topic, I should also be thankful to be in a place where I can and do eat pie. Of course it's larger than that. But truly, it takes a lot of work to get from having a completely unhealthy relationship to food and no ability to understand or appreciate your body to being able to eat fairly normally and liking yourself for who you are. Most of the time. I am definitely thankful for that.

And I'm thankful to have stumbled into blogging. It's been such a good outlet for me. In fact, it's been good in so many ways. I've met some really wonderful people. And I feel thankful that the people who read LG regularly, or anyway the ones who comment or email regularly - because they're the ones I feel like I know - are such funny, kind, supportive people. I'd be remiss if I overlooked you all in my thanks.

I wish you all happy, safe, healthy holidays with people you love. And especially if you head for the mall tomorrow, I wish you strength and patience. And maybe some Valium.

And if you do have pecan pie today, please have a bite for me. I love it so.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Distance and perspective. With paper umbrella garnish. Por favor.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to over Thanksgiving break. Because, well, it's Mexico! Yay!

But it's also time with Jen, who makes me laugh like crazy and who will soon be moving to Macedonia. It's sunshine. And endless hours to read or write or swim or snorkel or honestly do nothing but sip a cocktail and lounge.

The truth is that while I'm wildly excited for our Cancun adventure, I'm probably more excited to just be elsewhere. I realized yesterday that even if we were going somewhere in the very deep south, like, I don't know, rural Mississippi, which is somewhere I never hope to go, I'd be excited.

Because I just want to walk away from my life for a bit. I'm not expecting an epiphany but I need some distance. I need some perspective.

And somewhere warm and beachy, where you've got a room from which you can swim to a bar? Like, literally step into your bikini, mince out of your room, into the pool, and splish splash over to endless umbrella drinks?

That might not be healthy distance or perspective, but it sure looks fun from here.

That is, if we don't die on the plane down. You know I'll be up at 3 am to write down all the things I'm thankful for and eat six pieces of pecan pie before we get on that plane. Just in case.

Oh, and I'll be writing, but that doesn't mean you'll be reading. So in advance, I wish all of you a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wow, ma'am. That's a good question.

Whenever I walk by the National Archives I think of my boyfriend from my senior year of college.

He was so cute, so very southern, and so very nice. We probably had nothing in common - I can't really remember him in detail. Maude refers to him as my trophy Carolina boyfriend. Proof that I finally fit in down there in the south.

His sister, who was two years older, got married the summer we graduated. And so we talked about getting married when we were 24. Because that was so old. And it is such a good thing we never did. There's no way we'd have stayed married more than five minutes in the real world.

I ran into him a few years after we broke up. We were catching up and he said his sister had gotten divorced. And because sometimes I just don't think before I speak I said, "God, I'm not surprised. Every other minute that summer she was always whining, 'Ro-o-obert!' and harassing him about something he was or wasn't doing."

There was, as you might imagine, a little dead silence. Because honesty is not always appreciated. Or warranted.


We were wildly different in many ways. Boy was he cute, though. And so incredibly polite.

At any rate. He moved to DC after college and got a job at the Archives. One of the things he did was answer questions from the visiting public.

So this one woman said she'd really been wondering something. And could she ask him a question about the Civil War?

He was so gregarious. And he loved talking about history. And, as I discovered with many southern men, the American Civil War was a topic that really got him going. Because before I arrived at Carolina, I didn't realize that it was an actual topic of modern conversation. That people wanted to talk about. Regularly.

Civil War! Yippee! He was all fired up to have an interesting conversation.

Then she said, "What I've really been wondering is, how come they decided to fight all of those Civil War battles on national parkland?"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An open letter to anyone who is ever going to have kids

Sometimes you can really be pleasantly surprised. I randomly had a very nice, very substantial, two-meal long second date.

We were going to have just lunch and wander around in the fall sunshine. And so we had lunch and wandered. But then headed over to Old Town. We strolled and did errands. We looked at boats. We compared art taste at the Torpedo Factory.

And then he asked if I'd like to have dinner as well. Even though that was hours away. Which I did. So we had hours to fill. Which we did. With wine and conversation. Much more conversation than wine. But as our first date was relatively unfiltered, our second one was even more so.

And one of the things I said was the following: That I have gotten so very cautious. I used to take people at face value. And now I don't trust anyone for a long, long time. Not only do I not trust; I expect crazy.

The people I click with fast, the ones I have the easy and intense rapport with? So often they're damaged, beaten, crazy. It just takes some getting to know them. But now I just wait to learn about it.

I like you? Huh. What did your dad do to you?

I don't have kids. I don't know how hard it is. I don't know how much patience or strength it takes.

But what I do know a lot about at this point is how mistreated kids grow into adults. And so what I want to say is the following.

Holy fuck, people, think about how you treat your kids. Because truly, when you treat them terribly, you fuck them for life. And they grow into damaged, damaged adults.

I cannot even tell you how many guys I've met who could be lovely, amazing people. Who are so utterly lovable, except that they're completely unable to believe they are. And they cannot give anything of themselves. Or trust other people. Or feel anything.

For some of them it's that their dads beat the shit out of them as kids. Or their moms did. Or one or the other parent drank a ton. Or slept around and had a reputation for it. Or humiliated them in some way. Or just plain said enough angry, hateful, scarring things that they're convinced they're unloved and unwanted. Even as adults.

There are myriad ways to make your kid feel like the world around them is a massively scary, lonely, hostile place, not to be trusted.

This is not to say that they grow up to be financially unsuccessful people. Some of the most financially successful people I know were really mistreated as kids. Because money? Is safety. It means they will never need anything from anyone else.

And god, at this point, I've met some sweet, sweet men. Who are pretty much fucked for life.

They're so angry that the vitriol has eaten away their entire stomach. Or so unable to trust that they are ready for flight at any moment. They expect the worst of people, and therefore solicit it. Or are so devoid of the ability to feel that, while they function decently in the working world, they are complete and utter emotional cripples.

Be cautious of your kids. They're fragile. You can break them on the inside really easily. And even if they seem fine and whole, those scars never, ever really heal.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The mall, AKA hell

Today I went to the mall with Betty and a dear family friend who lives in Africa. She needed to get a few things to take back.

Now, both Betty and I love to shop, even if we're not looking for anything. We're always happy to wander around, try on shoes, or even just fondle some clothing. We have extraordinary amounts of shopping patience.

I'm not really a mall person, but still, am often happy to go along if it's with people I like. Because if you're wandering around chatting, who cares where you are?

When I lived in San Diego, I worked very near a big mall. And sometimes when I'd had a really bad day I'd just stop at the mall and wander around and try things on. Or just window shop. It helps that all malls there are outdoors, and it's usually sunny. But really, something about handling apparel puts me in a good mood.

But not today. Because holy cow! Tysons, which is where we wound up, was a little piece of hell today. Parking was heinous, and there were people every every everywhere! It was impossible not to be a hater. At least for me.

I can't, absolutely can't, go back to a mall before Christmas. I don't have the strength or the patience. I am going to have to get it together shortly and order things online.

And this reminds me - does anyone you know have stemless wine glasses? I want some, because I break wine glasses regularly. Although I think some of that is that Crate and Barrel wine glasses are not super sturdy. Anyway, I want stemless ones for Christmas and Betty wants to know where to get them for me. And I couldn't bear to prolong our mall visit and poke around the department stores.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I began to realize it when Maude and I lived together after college.

We'd known each other since we were born, you know? Well, since I was born. She was born six weeks before me. We were practically siblings. Except that we'd grown up in different families. And much of the time in different countries, actually.

But we had, and still have, the kind of rapport, the kind of closeness, that is often limited to family. The close-as-skin closeness. The you can say anything, and do, and even if they temporarily hate you, they will always love you kind of closeness.

So you get used to knowing close people the way they are. And then you have a sudden epiphany.

"Don't you ever want anything?"

She never wanted. When given a choice between A or B, she could never choose. When asked if she'd prefer something else, well, no, it wasn't that she'd rather something else entirely. She just couldn't make a choice.

"But what do you want?"

She didn't want.

She said I was the first person to point this out. "You never want. How can you never want? Just want something!"

What I didn't realize, what took me years to realize, was that I had plenty of the not wanting as well. It's just easier to see in someone else.

Because, you see, if you don't want, you can't be disappointed. You learn this. If I want and I can't have, it will leave a hole for ache to stretch out in. But if I don't want, it will be OK. I can't get hurt if I don't wish. I can't feel like I'm missing out on something I never hoped to have.

And eventually you stop wanting. You stop preferring X over Y. Either would be fine. If you can't have one over the other, you don't care. In fact, if you wind up with neither, that's fine too. Because you didn't want in the first place.

It's not a charade; it's not martyrdom. You can actually learn to turn off the wanting. And pressed for a choice, you truly don't know what to pick. You don't feel it. In fact, there are a lot of things you don't feel.

Not wanting is not difficult. The hard part is when you turn it back on.

Wanting sets you up for not getting. Wanting is risk. Wanting? Wanting is scary.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Turn right at the cute purses

My sense of direction leaves a great deal to be desired. When I look at a map, I have to turn it to face the way I'm headed. If I turn the corner, I have to turn the map.

It wasn't till I was in college that I realized I was so directionally-challenged. I could only get to my class buildings from where I was used to starting. This meant I only knew where building B stood in relation to building A.

So if I randomly had to go to a lab or meeting in the evening or on a weekend in building C, I still had to take my normal route. A to B to C. Or have someone tell me how to get to C.

I didn't even know I was doing it. I was walking with a friend one day and she asked me why we were taking such a circuitous path to get to our destination. And when I explained the way I got places...

Ridiculous, I know. But then again, when I studied in Rome, I had a friend who could only find things if she started at the Pantheon. So I suppose everything is relative.

So when I know my route to a place, that's the route I take. I don't deviate. And I'm very visual. I will look for the pink house on the corner and know that's where I turn right. If you chop down the big, pretty magnolia tree that I'm used to seeing on the block before I need to turn left, I'm in trouble.

I got directions from Jenny to a nearby bank the other day. It turns out that though our office is downtown, she doesn't know the numbers or letters of the streets around us. But what she does know is how to give the kind of directions I follow perfectly.

"Take a right when you come out of our building. And then you cross the street, and you might even cross another street. I'm not sure. But keep going straight until you get to the corner with the vendor at that big intersection. The one who sells the really cute purses. Take a right at the cute purses. And it's maybe another block and a half. You'll see a Cosi and it's across the street."


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Weight weight...don't tell me!

"So, go ahead and step on the scale."

"Should I take off my boots?"

"You can if you want. It doesn't really matter."

Doesn't really matter? Seriously, does any woman you know leave her boots on to get weighed?

So I stepped on the scale, and the nurse adjusted it. And the number kept going up. Holy crap! This is not what I expected. I do not suddenly weigh that much!

Now, we're not actually talking a lot of weight. Like five pounds. But still. I mentally wondered how much my clothes weigh. I considered asking if I could strip down to my skivvies, but it was in a hallway. How much can you attribute to clothing? To lunch? To the weight of your earrings? Your glasses? The Kleenex in your pocket?

I know that a few pounds do not make or break my life. Rationally, I know this.

I know this in my head. And I walk around saying it. The number on the scale is not what matters. What matters is how your clothes fit. What matters is how you feel.

I say this to people all the time. And I honest-to-god believe it when I say it.

And then I get weighed. And that takes me right back to high school.

Now, I don't weigh myself. Not regularly, not ever. I don't want to fixate on a number. Because I have been that person who weighed herself twice a day. Who watched the numbers drop. And the smaller the number, the prettier I was. The better I was. The more lovable I was. The more perfect I was. Right?

Except that I wasn't. I didn't even like myself.

You're miserable when you have a list a mile long of things you don't eat. And even more miles you have to run before you do eat. When, if someone tells you that you look too skinny, you point out how enormous your thighs are. Because they are all you can see. When, if you haven't done your requisite amount of exercise for the day, you are immediately convinced that your body will double in size. By next morning.

The not eating enough? The exercising too much? The constant self-assessment and self-doubt? It takes a hell of a lot of time and energy.

I'm not that person anymore. I like myself now, at least most of the time. I have enough grip on the rest of my life to not feel like I need to control my body quite so much. And I can look down and say that dropping 20 pounds would be crazy. It would not make me more attractive. It would not make me happier.

That said, I freaked out. I called my mom to ask if it looked like I'd gained weight. Have I suddenly and inexplicably gotten fat?

I don't always have the best sense of my body. I need an outside opinion.

I am considering, the next time I get weighed, asking them just not to tell me. Because though it doesn't rule my life anymore, it sure can derail me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You guys, next week is Thanksgiving already!

So I have to thank my friend Dave for canceling on me this week and trying to reschedule. Because otherwise I might never have known I was leaving the country next week.

I'm not kidding. We were emailing because he needed to change plans. So we were looking at next week, which I said was entirely open. And then he asked when we were leaving for Cancun.

Because oh, have I mentioned that Jen and I are spending Thanksgiving in Cancun? No?

Yes! Four days in bikinis. With umbrella drinks. It turns out we have to dress up for dinner. So I guess that means I'll also have to pull out my super cute sun dresses and strappy sandals from last summer. Ha!

Thanksgiving at a resort in Mexico. No turkey. No mashed potatoes. No stuffing. Also? No cold. No cooking. No dishes. No logistics. No stress. Yippee!

I mean, except the stress of, ooh, I ought to reapply my sunscreen and I need some help with my back! Or, the stress of choice - do these sunglasses go better with this bikini or my other one? Or maybe the stress of, gee, when I leaned over to sip my cocktail, I lost my place in my book.

Yawn. Stretch. Muy stressful.

We're staying at this fabulous all-inclusive resort that Jen found. That just looks completely amazing. I am not kidding you when I say that if all we do is lounge, read, swim, all with an umbrella drink in hand, I'll be so happy. I know something crazy will happen, because, um, it's Jen I'm traveling with. But whatever it is will be so fun.

It's not only the opposite of Thanksgiving, it's also the opposite of every vacation I take. I'm always about either adventure travel or big cities. And this? Is just going to be sunshine and relaxation and decadence.

Anyway, I wrote Dave back and said anytime next week would work, and to answer his question, we're flying on Thanksgiving.

But while I didn't say so, I was really wondering why he was bringing that up already. Because it's weeks away. And actually, a couple other people asked over the weekend. And I was just thinking they were exceptionally planny.

He responded with something like, "Wow, you're very casual about your trip next week."

And then suddenly I got it! Holy crap! Thanksgiving? Is next week! Next week! As in, a week from this Thursday! How did this happen so fast?

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to end a date when you know you don't want to go out again

Someone arrived at LG the other day looking for "how to end a date when you know you don't want to go out again."

And I thought, "Oh! Something I can relate to! And have strong opinions on!"

Ending early dates is hard. You don't know if the person is going to kiss you. You don't know what they're going to say. You don't know what they want. Sometimes you don't know what you want.

Now, I have to admit that when someone I know I don't want to go out with again ends a date with, "I'd love to do this again," I get wimpy and say something agreeable. I am not proud of this. But I'd never put someone on the spot like that either.

In fact, I was all annoyed at this guy for saying, at the end of a first date, "I'd like to get together again. Would you?" Aaagh! Why ask me right then and there?

And what do you say, faced with that? "Oh, no, not really. But thanks!"

There's no way I could say that. And he's a friend of a friend. I really didn't want to hurt his feelings. But I definitely didn't want to go out with him again. I very quickly said something like "Sure! Let's email!" and rushed off. Knowing that I would decline through the distance of cyberspace.

And then a friend of mine reminded me that when it is someone I do want to go out with again, I get all excited that he says he wants to go out again before the date is over. This is true.

But here's what I think you should do if you know you don't want to go out with the person again. Or even probably don't.

Just say, "Thanks. I had a nice time." Or, "It was nice hanging out with you." Or, "I had fun." Something brief and innocuous along those lines. And then say goodbye. And leave.

If you're one of those people who kisses out of obligation - don't. She'll think you want to kiss her again in the future. Although I suppose you could kiss her really, really badly. And then she'll never want to kiss you again...

Hmm. That's something to think about. But then you risk getting a nickname that includes your terrible kissing skills. OK, ignore this tangent. Back to the issue at hand.

So you've said your non-committal pleasantry. You're not obligated to say anything further. In fact, don't. Even if she's standing there expectantly, or hopefully. Don't say something that implies a future date when you know you're not going to follow through.

Because this is something I have never understood about men. Men who are perfectly nice people, not malignant or ill-intentioned, will say misleading things at the end of dates. Things they have no intentions of following through on.

Things like, "We should do this again sometime."

Or, "This week is busy but let's look at our calendars for the following week. I'll email you."

Or, simply, "I'll call you."

Why do this? Why bother saying things you are never going to do? When nobody is asking you to say anything?

Guy friends have explained this by saying that sometimes say they get nervous. Or they want to end on a positive note. Or they just feel like they have to say something.

No! You don't have to say anything! In fact, it's unkind to plant false hope. It's not that hard to say Ihadanicetimethanksbye! If you jumble it together it only takes one breath.

And then, the next time you run into the person, you never have to say, "I lost your number." Or, "I lost my phone." Or, (in some alternate reality) "I'm an asshat who told you I'd call you because it seemed like the easiest way to end the date."

With one quick, no-offer date ending you can avoid being either a liar or an asshat! How great is that?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The tiresome process of not napping

The combination of plenty of wine and a late night last night, coupled with the cold and grey of the day left me wanting a nap this afternoon. A nap I didn't take.

I've never been a good napper. I've always envied people who are. You're tired, you nap for 20 minutes, you wake up refreshed, and you go on with your day. It seems to me to be such an efficient way to get energy.

Me, unless I'm so flat out tired I can't function, or am sick, like really sick, I just can't nap. I lie down and sleep just doesn't happen. And so then I think about how tired I am, and how it would be better if I could just nap.

Which then leads me to thinking about all the things I need to get done post-hoped for-nap. And then I wonder if I'll be too tired when I wake up. I might wake up, as sometimes happens, all groggy and dysfunctional. From the nap I'm not currently having any luck taking. Or I will oversleep. And then not be tired later. The trying to nap process can be exhausting.

Eventually I tend to just get up and do something. The easiest action being the pulling of laptop onto lap while still snuggled in bed. Totally cognizant of the fact that I'm still tired. And certain I'd be so much less tired if only I could nap.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I don't really know what to say about this

In the Blogger preview this image looks tiny, so you might have to click on it to be able to read it. Although reading it is not really the point. It says, "retarded kid bicycle big penis strangers with."

I saved it because it surprised me so much.

Here's the thing. I'm used to people arriving at LG from Googling "foot prostitution" or "butt cleavage" - and while I don't quite get why LG merits being high on the Google search for those terms, those things kind of amuse me.

But this one just made me worry. Not that someone arrived at LG looking for it. But for the person being searched for, if I'm interpreting the search correctly.

I always feel kind of naive when things like this shock me. I don't really know if it's so much that someone wound up at LG through this Google search, or that someone is actually Googling "retarded kid bicycle big penis strangers with."

What is this? I mean, I know what each of those words means, and I can put them together in a sentence if I have to.

But it would never occur to me to string a sentence together with all those words. Much less go searching the Internets.

Hmm. Yikes?

Friday, November 09, 2007

A sign that you should just give up on the day

Yesterday I learned that if you are having the kind of day that makes you cry into your peanut butter sandwich, you should just pack it in immediately. Go home. Crawl in bed.

Last night, late, after coming home from a completely unsatisfying textile class - a class that I thought would turn my mood around, and one in which I fucked up my silkscreen and disliked the color of everything I made, I poured a big glass of wine, plopped myself on the couch, and called Jane.

Earlier in the day Jane had been the lucky recipient of an over the top pit of despair email. She said she read my missive, laughing all the while. Not at my angst, but because she could picture the Lisa diving into hysteria process. And because the text of my email was so off the wall. Because she knows me so well.

She knew exactly the kind of hysterical little burrow that I'd gnawed myself into. The kind of smoothly hollowed dark place where reason and rationality have no surface to which to cling. The kind of place that you cannot even hope to claw yourself out of all by yourself. Because you are so far past the pale of reality.

You need an old old friend to say, "Hello! Hi! I know where this comes from and I know how to pull you back to solid ground. Sit down, have a glass of wine, and talk to me."

So there I am in my comfiest fleece, wine in hand, describing myself sobbing into my peanut butter sandwich. We giggled and giggled, because for god's sake, who doesn't put down the sandwich?

Honestly. If this isn't a sign that you should give up on your day, I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Splitting the check

I recently went on a date where the guy split the check with me. I cannot even remember the last time that happened.

I always offer to pay, and I do mean it; I don't just do the perfunctory hand gesture in the vague direction of my purse. And men never, ever take me up. Even guys who wind up never asking me out again pick up the check.

In this case, it was sort of a relief. I'd had a perfectly fine time but I knew I didn't want to go out with him again. And the Crazypants Journalist left me with a "you owe me" flinch with all his vitriol. And so I was glad that when I opened my purse he didn't just grab the check and insist. We both plunked cards down and split it.

If I want to go out with the guy again, and he picks up the check on the first date, I have to admit that it's kind of a relief. Because you never know how people will be with money, and if it's awkward, well, it's awkward. I'll treat, or anyway try to, the next time. I don't want to split the bill every time. I'd so much rather go back and forth. It's nice to be treated, and it's nice to treat.

Even with friends, the ones I go out with a lot, we often do this. Not that we never split bills, but often enough one or the other will grab the check. You go out with the same friends enough times, it all evens out in the end. And as I said, it feels good to treat.

I used to work with a guy who always split the check on the first date. He'd pay for everything after that, he said. He was very generous and often insisted on paying for me when we grabbed drinks after work. He liked to treat people. But never on the first date. He was adamant about that.

And I have female friends who feel very strongly about not paying on the first date. The guy asked them out - he should pick up the check. They don't even offer.

I don't entirely know how to think about this, because I grew up in these very sexist places where men had all the power and men paid for everything. Then I went to college in the south, where men paid for everything. And my experience since then is that on dates men almost always pay. They'll let you treat them sometimes, but it's never really even.

I have to say, though, it was a clean way to end the evening. Splitting the bill is much less charming, but much more straightforward. Easy. Even. Done.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

If fretting were an Olympic sport

I woke up this morning all thinky. Not totally in my head but thinky. Just chewing on a maybe.

A friend described the feeling of anxiety as living perpetually at the point where boiling water starts to bubble. I think that's called simmering. And what I've realized is that I don't really experience simmering for very long. I crank it up shockingly fast.

It takes me roughly 20 minutes to walk to work. I cross a lot of streets. Lots of hurrying to make a light. Those timer things that they have on crosswalks now are one of my new favorite things. Can I make it down the rest of the block in 27 seconds? 26? 25? Rush rush.

And even with all the rushing and the counting of seconds and the crossing of streets, I stayed in my head enough to cook a small fret into a proper stew. The maybe this means X and maybe that means Y bubbled way past the boiling point. By the time I arrived at work the state of my mind was a fried lump of charred horrible.

I sat down in this unfortunately dull class we're taking, one that I knew would not distract me. And Tej looked at me and whispered, "What on earth is going on?"

And it wasn't until I'd said what I was thinking that I realized it wasn't even such a big deal. I'd just turned it into one in my head. The fact is that I don't know if anything means anything. I'm not even sure what I think.

She said, "Holy crap! You got that far in your head in your short walk to work?"

Once she said it like that it even impressed me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

If justice were. . .

The Quad is going to be at 75% power for a while. 25% of us is stuck on a trial.

The thing about living in DC is that you get called for jury duty every two years. Sometimes you even receive the summons prior to the precise two year point from when you last served.


This led to a conversation about how Jenny's mom always gets put on trials. She attributes this to the fact that for a long time she worked with juvenile delinquents. She is now very involved with work that involves teenage gang members. And so when summoned, she is always selected for a jury.

Because, according to Jenny, she is all about justice.

Bob and I have to take everything and run with it. So one of us started with, "Yeah. Jenny's mom is all about justice. In fact, Jenny's mom is justice."

I can't remember which of us it was.

But then the other was all, "Yeah. And if justice were strawberries, we'd all be drinking smoothies."

Eventually it devolved into the truly inane.

"If justice were underwear, we'd never sleep naked."

"If justice were paper cuts, we'd all be bleeding profusely."

"If justice were ironic, we'd all be Alanis Morissette."

Back and forth.

I'm sure there could be lots of better ones, but you see where we were going.

It's actually kind of fun. If you're a big nerd.

Go ahead and roll your eyes. We have a good time. Because honestly? If justice were sea otters, we'd all be holding hands.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Surprising that I didn't break my nose, actually

The jerking? Of the knee? It happens so fast.

It didn't used to be like this. I used to just walk around trusting people. Hi, nice to meet you! Sure I trust you! Come on in and get comfy! Want some coffee?

I've just dated so many crazy, damaged people over the last couple years. Or maybe not so many. But I got invested in a few notable ones.

You know how your friends will always say, "Oh, sweetie. It's not you. It's him." - and you want to believe them?

At some point you figure out that actually, sometimes that's true. Maybe even much of the time. But if there are enough of them, you have to sit down and examine the hims that you are choosing.

And then you figure out that even though it's true, that doesn't matter. What I mean is this. If you pick a guy who likes you, but when he gets emotionally close to people, he gets mean, well, that's his issue - it really is him and not you. But you've still gotten invested in someone who is mean to you. And you have to recover from that.

Or if you pick a person who likes you - you can see it in his eyes and how he is when he's with you - but when it comes down to it, he's had enough damage in life that he's not ever going to be open enough to be vulnerable again, well, you've gotten invested in a person who might be lovable but can't love back. And then you have that to recover from.

For example.

And so, moving forward, when you have the tiniest inkling that something might lead to you getting hurt for whatever reason, if you get invested, which you are very cautiously not doing, wow, does that knee jerk faster than you can blink.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A warm pan of I care about you

I've written about food as love before. It's not a novel idea. But every once in a while I'm reminded of it so strongly.

I've got a friend who is in a very bad place. He's facing the death of a close family friend. And he's really sad.

There isn't anything I can do but lend an ear and empathize. And bake him some brownies.

I don't cook but I am a really good baker. My mom is a fantastic baker, and so was my gramma Lillian.

Betty makes these North Dakota sticky buns that are like a little piece of sin and heaven all rolled up together. Seriously. They're very labor intensive, and she doesn't make them that often. I've never made them because making dough that has to rise is really daunting for me.

We always have them Christmas morning. It's the best first thing in the morning smell - think of the smell of freshly baked bread. And then add the smell of tons of butter and brown sugar for the caramel sauce that they bake in. And the cinnamon that they're rolled up in. It smells like magic.

You take the pan out of the oven and flip it over on a cookie sheet and any caramel that hasn't baked into the buns runs down the sides and pools around them in a buttery swirly mass of temptation. It's impossible not to stick your finger through it. When you cut off your sticky bun, you slide the knife across the sheet to scrape up as much caramel as you can get.

Me, when I bake, I tend to stick to cakes and sweet breads that you don't have to punch down, that don't have the precariousness of being left to rise. Brownies are one of my favorite things.

Amazing brownies, I think, are a little piece of magic themselves. Brownies make people happy. They just do.

Sometimes when Maude was down, she'd ask me to make brownies. Or popcorn. Or both. And it always made me feel good, you know? Because when someone is sad and you can't do anything to make it better, you feel powerless. But being asked for something, something you can actually do, it feels good. I sometimes wondered if that was why she asked.

Brownies aren't hard, and I suppose in the scheme of things they're not much to offer.

But when someone you care about is sad and you can't fix it, sometimes the best you can offer is words and hugs and a pan of warm chocolatey sugary love. I care about you. I want to make things better for you. Here's a little tiny bit of proof.

When I was in grad school I had a housemate from New Zealand. I adored her. We all did. She'd never had brownies before, and she was crazy about them. They were one of her favorite things about America, in fact.

Whenever I made them she'd cut the chocolatiest, softest, middle piece right out, while they were still warm. It was like a test of love, now that I think back on it. Taking the middle before they're cool and knowing that you can - that's proof that you can have whatever piece you want.

Thinking back, she used to make the best poached eggs. I love poached eggs, and I've never been any good at them. And so when I wanted a comfort food dinner, she'd poach eggs for me.

And so I've pulled out the butter and the sugar and the baking chocolate, which has my favorite brownie recipe right on the box. They turn out heavy and moist and dense, but not gooey and not cake-y, which is something I dislike in a brownie.

I'm going to bake them right before he comes over, so my entire place smells like baking chocolate, which hopefully will feel like a warm blanket.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Getting a fix on a Friday night

I arrived at 7:30 Friday night. Right on time. Nervous. I'd never done this before.

Because of how dark my hair had wound up on Wednesday, my skin looked pale and flat, but there was nothing I could do about that. I'd put on eye makeup and red lip gloss to try and brighten up my face.

I'd carefully crafted my outfit. You know, so I looked attractive but not like I'd put a ton of thought into it. I had on a grey sleeveless turtleneck tucked into good jeans, and black platform boots. I'd deliberately left off earrings. I grabbed my black leather jacket on my way out the door.

He was ready for me when I arrived. I was so excited to see him. He took my jacket and hung it up, and then led me over to the chair.

He sat me down and stood behind me. Our eyes met in the mirror.

He ran his hands through my hair. I was holding my breath.

And then he said, "We can definitely fix this. I'll add some more highlights and then put on a warm toner. It'll look great."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Just say yes!

A couple weeks ago I had dinner with a friend of mine at Bistrot du Coin.

We both love all things French, and in fact initially bonded over our favorite things about Paris. And sometimes we speak French. It might seem pretentious, but I don't care. It's fun.

So David and I are talking about his law firm, and about his new paralegal, who had just gotten back from a weekend in Atlanta that morning. She's young, not far out of college, and super smart. He really likes her as a person and as a colleague.

It turns out she spent a semester of college at Oxford, and while there met a guy, as one might. And then she left England and they went on with their lives and have kept in sporadic touch since. And then recently a very interesting thing happened.

She heard from him, out of the blue. He'd moved to Atlanta. And would she like to visit for the weekend?

So she did. Expecting nothing more than visiting an old flame for a weekend.

She returned to work on Monday with the following very condensed version of the story. Oxford boy is not loving Atlanta. And he's considering transferring with his company to Paris. Would she marry him? And move to Paris?

Holy cow!

"So, basically," I said, "you think he's hating being in Atlanta, wants to move to Paris, and doesn't want to move alone?"


"But she said yes, right? Please tell me she said yes."

He looks at me and shakes his head. Like, had I been listening to the details of the story? "They aren't in a relationship. They'd barely kept in touch."

"She has to say yes."

"Lisa. They're so young. They don't even know each other. Odds of this going well are not high."

"So how did she leave it?"

"She told him she'd think about it."

"Think about it? No thinking! Tell her to say yes!"

"She's really smart. I love having her work for me. She'll probably work at the firm for a couple years and then go on to grad school. And then she'll do great things. She wouldn't even be able to work in Paris."

Clearly his love of Paris is not overriding his inclination to think like a high-powered lawyer. But I know for a fact that he takes vacations like bike trips through the Loire valley. He goes to Europe every chance he gets. Even though he has this impressive, demanding job, it's not his life.

In other words, he can be reasoned with.

"Honestly, David. They'll get divorced in two years. Paris would be perfect for her. She can start graduate work, or just study French, she can shop, she can hang out and have a great time. The whole relationship will be over by the time she's ready to go to grad school."

"I hadn't thought about it that way. If you look at it in that way, it absolutely makes sense."

"Christ, if someone out of the blue asked me to marry him and move to Paris tomorrow, I'd say yes. I would probably only have to be marginally attracted to him as a person."

"You know, I probably would, too."

"Promise me you'll go to work tomorrow and tell her to say yes."

And so he did. But he also gave her the context. I have no idea what she'll do. Probably the practical thing, which would be to not quit your job to move to Paris and marry someone you dated briefly several years ago.

It pains me, even thought I don't know her.

When I was in my 20s, it all seemed so important, so dire, so forever-y. But honestly. If you're 23, you've got all kinds of time to move to Paris, have a good time, learn a few things, see a lot, get a divorce, and then get on with life stuff.

Because even though my advice to people is to get married and stick it out, odds are poor when you're only 23 or 24. But on the bright side, if you're divorced and dating in your 30s, nobody will ask you what's wrong with you that you've never been married. Because you have been!

And, on the even brighter side, one can always blame the demise of the marriage on the snobbery of the Parisians. Or the fact that they don't pick up their dog poo. Or the amount of butter they use in their cooking. Or something along those lines. People will believe it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaBloPoMo or chicken and woe

So I'm participating in National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo.

This means a post a day, every day, for a month. One of my goals is to write every day, and to work on my storytelling, so this is helpful. I know that recently I've gotten slack on weekends.

Plus lately there are lots of days where I just don't know what to write. As one blogfriend described, I'm more of an "Ooh, ooh! Let me tell you what's going on with me!" blogger. But I'm in an odd blog writing place. In part because, and I know this will shock you, there are things going on that I just will not blog about.

Some of them are really good, or possibly leading to good things, and I don't want to share too much or jinx them before they do or don't happen. If this one particularly good thing comes about, I'll be really excited. And it's not a boy thing. I'm not suddenly going to be all, "Hey, you guys! I simply can't find any street parking anywhere! Wink wink nudge nudge!" No, it's not that.

And some of them are not so good, and big enough to take up a lot of space in my mind and heart, but are just not shareable for a variety of reasons. Some things really are too personal.

Which sometimes leaves me with the conundrum: write something not huge or not immediate, when there are huge things I'm thinking about? Or not write?

Because I never want to write "I had chicken for dinner" kinds of things. And I don't want to write a post all, oh, woe is me, I have nothing to write about! Because it's my own choice to write. Nobody is forcing me.

Anyway, on that note, we'll see how far I get into November.

You know, before I bring up the chicken and the woe.