Sunday, March 30, 2008

The sheltering sky, or the sneaky return of the undertow

Do you ever feel like you are just living this very small, pointless life? And you don't know what to do about it?

It's been a while since I've felt the undertow. And, in contrast to times prior, I'm not in an "I'm going to die alone" spot. And that's part of what bothers me so much - I'm actually really happy.

I just have these moments absolutely beyond my control.

I'll be going along, all forward motion and unsuspecting. La la la la la.

And then suddenly, this wet enormity of despair and pointlessness will sneak up from behind and wash over me. It's quick, cold, and dark, and all-encompassing.

It will pull, hard, and it will cover me, sometimes thickly enough that it really is akin to being stuck beneath the waves, panicked, unsure when I will burst through the surface and breathe.

And then it pulls back, and I do - I breathe, I see the sky, and the sun sparkles on the surface.

But still, as it recedes, I'll feel the wet reverberations of nothing-matters nothing-matters does-any-of-this-really-matter? lapping at my ankles, pulling at the ground beneath me. Does it? Really? Really?

And I'm left unsure of what's solid and where to stand, in the same way one is forced to balance and rebalance in the ebbing tide, as when the ocean sucks the shifting sand beneath your feet on its way out.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Anger bubbles

You know how sometimes someone can just infuriate you regularly enough that you stay at the simmer point with them?

I know boiling water is a cliché, but it's the best analogy. It's astounding to me how you can go through your day not realizing that with a particular person you are at a steady simmer. And the smallest thing can ratchet you up to where the anger bubbles break the surface.

But you simmer. And say they are maybe in some sort of position in your life which means you can't just tell them off, even if it would feel so awesome in the moment. And when you are tempted to do that, you thankfully have the ability to stop and remind yourself that you like to be able to pay your bills.

Maybe you get to a point where everything about him or her and the situation makes you angry? And so you lose the perspective to decide whether you should sit down and have a talk about this one particular thing that regularly incenses you? Because maybe it doesn't merit mention in the grand scheme of things - because you know there will be larger things that do?

But you are so regularly annoyed and simmering below the smile of your surface you just can't tell anymore?

And then you are necessarily writing about it in a rather opaque manner, just in case? With lots of question marks, which are perhaps unnecessary but feel kind of good?

Yeah. That's where I am.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yet another reason I will never be an accountant

Everyone who knows me at all knows that I am not a numbers person.

I have learned that when the numbers in front of me mean something concrete and relate to my life, then I'm much more likely to figure them out.

But not always.

Because you guys, I ordered 150 save the date! magnets. Since we're inviting, at the absolute max 130 people (which is really pushing the limits of the space), in my mind I needed 130 save the dates, just to be safe. Right? And because you have to order them in increments of 50, I ordered 150.

So Maria and I have been talking about invitations, because I am ordering (orange!) envelopes and she is getting printer quotes.

The numbers I kept coming up with were so much bigger than hers. Like, pretty much twice as big.

Why, you might ask?

Or you might not.

Because you might be one of those people who doesn't need to use fingers and toes to do math, and then get panicked when the numbers exceed your digits. Who realizes that you don't need to count every single possible attendee when coming up with invitation numbers.

You might be one of those people who would look at your spreadsheet and realize that couples? Share an invitation. You only have to count them once for these purposes.

The magnets? We will have easily twice as many as we need.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I can't even tell you how furious I've been all morning.

Say you call the office of your doctor - a well-regarded practice - on Monday and say, "I need some advice. I think I have the same thing I had in January and I'm not sure what to do about it."

You explain that you were given a prescription with two extra antibiotics when you came in for that appointment in January, in case you'd need to start another course. But no refill. So being a responsible antibiotic taker, concerned about your health, you don't want to start a course of antibiotics without talking to someone.

And they take down all your information and they say they'll call you back. And they don't.

So you call Tuesday morning. And they apologize for not calling you back, and take down all your information one more time. And tell you to start the antibiotics you have, and that they'll call in the rest.

And then you call again at 4 pm to say you've not heard from anyone. You're not angry, you're not upset (yet). You just want your information. The information you've called in about twice.

At which point they say that they can't find your chart. But they will, and they'll call in the prescription to your pharmacy. At which point you give them all your details one more time.

And nothing happens.

This means you start your Wednesday morning with a call into their office. You remain on hold for half an hour, because, when they offer to call you back, you say that you don't intend it rudely, but you don't actually trust that they will return your call.

They spend 30 minutes trying to find your chart. And then say that actually, nobody called you back because they aren't willing to prescribe antibiotics without seeing you. They want you to come in. Which means rearranging your morning and canceling meetings to go to the doctor.

At that point, even though it takes you a long time to get angry? At that point you might actually be beyond angry. You might be livid.

And you will say, "I wasn't upset when I called the first time. I wasn't upset when I called the second time. I wasn't even upset when I called the third time. I would have been happy to come in any of those times - I just needed to know what to do. And now, now I'm really upset."

And it is very clear that you are not exaggerating.

They give you an immediate appointment that morning.

And then, you are sitting in their waiting room, waiting and waiting for your appointment, which you finally get called for one hour late. And if you are waiting with the worst waiting room magazines on the planet, and you get a call from their other office, saying they've called in a prescription for you?

It is all you can do to politely explain that you are currently in the waiting room of the other office. You further explain why this makes you really angry. It really is all you can do not to lose your shit.

I've gotta say, the doctor I saw handled my displeasure perfectly. My inclination, when I get upset, is to be very clearly upset. And that gets you nowhere.

So I'd thought through what I wanted to say 37 times in my head. It's hard for me to be angry with people - I was raised to not voice anger. I think people respond much better to men's anger than to women's, honestly. Men get far better results by being angry than women do.

So I have really worked up to letting out anger in a constructive way that actually gets you positive results. Obviously, it doesn't always. But far better than just getting really upset but not provoking the response you need.

I was outwardly really calm, and laid out my reasons for being angry very carefully and logically. She listened, she apologized for confusion, and she was completely constructive. I liked her and I trusted her. I'd see her again.

Except that I will never see her again.

I am flat out done with that practice. I don't actually trust that they're particularly organized or remotely concerned about my health or well-being, except when I'm sitting right there in front of them, in a never-on-schedule appointment.

OK. Rant over. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If you won Powerball

Whenever Nick interviews people for a job, one of the things he asks is the following: What would you do if you won Powerball?

If they say they'd keep their jobs and just buy a couple cars or whatever, he persists. "Say you'd won a gazillion dollars, and you'd bought houses for your family members and whatever else for everyone you know. If you never actually have to work again, what would you do with your time?"

He doesn't want to hear that they'd keep doing their job, that it's their dream job, forever and ever. He wants to know how they'd spend their time, if they could do absolutely anything.

Sometimes he gets really interesting answers. He likes the insight it gives him into people and their lives.

So then he turned the question to me.

I didn't have an immediate answer. I mean, I can think of 50 things I'd rather do than work every day. But as a grand plan, I'm not sure.

What would I do with my time, if I could do anything?

I'd go everywhere in the world I've been dying to go - which is a lot of wheres. I could spend a good year doing that. Or maybe six months, then come home. If you could travel anytime you wanted, without having to schedule time off, you wouldn't have to do it all in one go, you know?

I think I'd spend a solid six months writing. Or maybe a year. I suppose that could overlap with the travel.

Then? Then I'd probably take fun art classes. I'd love to learn more about printmaking. And I would love to learn how to make jewelry.

Maybe I'd open a boutique. How fabulous would it be to be around fabric and clothing every day? And if you didn't have to worry about making money, you could be as experimental as you wanted, which would be so fun.

I find it interesting to think about. With no financial constraints, no parameters, how would you construct your life and spend your time?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Actually, the issue is not so much that we're godless but more that we're churchless

We are not actually godless, but we are churchless. Which isn't a big deal - unless you're trying to figure out who will marry you.

I don't know how many people are in the position of not having any connection whatsoever - either current or from childhood - to a religious organization. But neither of us do.

We're not about to join a church in order to have someone to marry us. And I'd feel like a big fraud with a church wedding anyway, since I am not actually in favor of organized religion. And I'd wonder if the priest were actually a sketchy character behind the scenes.

There are myriad reasons why church just doesn't work for us.

We're going to have the ceremony at the same place we're having the reception. We want it to be personal, spiritual, and meaningful. And brief. Not like five minutes brief. But definitely not a whole hour of Bible and pageantry and genuflection and whatever. More like, I do, I do, and now, with all these people we love around us, let's celebrate.

Not that we don't take getting married seriously. But I don't think the seriousness of the ceremony is any indicator of how serious of purpose you are.

Aside from religious figures, we know that judges can marry you. Nick has plenty of contact with judges, but not enough of a personal connection with one here to ask him or her.

So we have the general idea of what we want. Most of all, we want to like the person, feel confident that this will be a ceremony that represents us and makes us happy, and feel good about them conducting it.

But we are having trouble figuring out who this person might be.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Godless but the Easter bunny knows I'm a grown up

We forgot that it was Easter. Nick remembered and wished me a happy Easter.

At which point I said, as I do enjoy saying, "Day of the Risen Lord!"

At which point Nick called me "godless" - which isn't that far from the truth. I tell people that I was practically raised a heathen, and they think I'm saying it to be funny. It is an exaggeration, to be sure. But not that far off.

Growing up, we knew who Jesus was, of course. I mean, we knew about Jesus and we'd read some of the stories. But we didn't have any particular reverence instilled in us. In fact, Maude had a crush on him she'd developed from a very cute depiction of him. Jesus could be hot, just like anyone else could.

So on Friday we had an all-staff meeting. And someone said they were surprised we'd have a big meeting on Good Friday. Good Friday! Right! I'd forgotten.

I asked if they were Catholic, or if it was a general Christian thing. Because Catholicism is my only sort of entry point into Christianity, and I must admit to not having paid much attention to larger Christian tradition.

And when I ask things like this, that's when I say I was raised a heathen, and I just generally and truly don't know. I wasn't raised with it, and I've never delved.

Which brings me back to Easter. I've said this before - I was an adult before I realized the Jesus-Easter connection. I mean, I know at some points along the way we intoned "Christ-has died-Christ-is-risen-Christ-will-come-again."

But when you're chanting it, with hardly a break between the words, you're not really thinking of the meaning. You're not connecting the Day of the Risen Lord! Died! Rose again! Risen! Because he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand..."

In the couple of years that we were forced to go to Mass, we said the words. We just didn't parse out the sentences.

And so, here we are, godless, but with a delightful basket of goodies. Betty loves us.

I've never gotten one with precisely this array of ingredients. In case you're wondering if there's floss hidden in the bottom; there isn't.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hugs and sparkles!

Every once in a while I get a nice email out of the blue from someone who likes my blog. And it just makes me so incredibly happy. Like, smile and bounce up and down in my chair happy.

I love the connection, and I love knowing when things I think and write resonate with people.

You know how, if you put a lot of thought and energy into something, and then someone tells you you've done a great job, it makes you feel like you won a huge prize? That's how it makes me feel.

Thank all of you who take the time out of your busy days to read, to leave comments, to write nice notes. I wish you a sunshiney, sparkly weekend!

Big hugs to all!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

And then it turns out I'm Groundhog Day

You know how you might do the same thing over and over and just not realize it till someone points it out?

I used to be someone who never knew the temperature or forecast. I’d make my best guess and run out the door.

I would get up as late as possible and roll out the door in whatever clothing I could find that was clean and semi-presentable and put on-able within 10 minutes. I bathe at night. And my hair is pin straight. I can get up and not even comb it and it doesn’t make any difference.

So my mornings used to be fast. And uninformed. No checking TV, no radio. Just a glance at the sky and maybe a hand against the window.

Sometimes I would freeze on the way to work. Sometimes I'd swelter in wool on a warm day. I can't even tell you how many street vendors have sold me umbrellas in the rain.

But Nick has this little thing on his wall that connects to an outdoor thermometer. And so you can look at it and know what the precise temperature is. So now I look, every morning.

And it turns out that every morning, I profess surprise.

"Fuck! It's 42 degrees! Can you believe it?"

"It's 39 degrees out there! What the fuck?"

"33 fucking degrees! How can it be that cold?"

It seems that Nick has been holding his tongue on this for some time now. And then yesterday he said, "Our mornings start in exactly the same way every day."

"They do?"

"Yes. You say 'fuck' and express your surprise at the temperature."

"I do?"



"And Lis, you're the only one who is shocked and horrified by the temperature. Every. Single. Day."

I've gotta admit, it's true.

Fuck! Can you believe it?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When what you want to say is "Talk to your own friend!"

I feel like a lot of the time, guys in bars act as if you're obligated to talk to them. You're out in a bar, after all. You must be interested in talking to a guy.



Laura and I caught up at the Saloon the other night. I love that place. There's no standing, so you have to sit. Which means you're always seated, and you never have people shoving against you.

It's great. Unless you're seated next to a troglodyte.

We sat at the bar and had a couple drinks and ate pistachios. She had just come from yoga, and so, while dressed nicely, was post-sweaty and gross. And I'd just come from the hair salon, so had a bunch of product in my hair and was all trying to figure out what was up with it.

We all have our issues, you know?

Anyway, we were sitting there, chatting, enjoying our pistachios, giggling, and just generally keeping each other highly entertained.

There had been two Persian guys sitting next to us, one of whom was talking to Laura before I arrived, and so we'd wished them happy new year as they left, and then had turned back to our conversation, paying no attention to who had filled their places.

There was the briefest of pause in conversation when the guy to my left said, "You know, I was going to talk to you, but this is really hilarious."

I turned and said, "Excuse me?"

"Well, you know, we're sitting here, and you two are having this very intense conversation, so I'm waiting for a break. And then, just as you stop talking, I look at your hand, and whoa! You've got a ring! And so just as I'm going to say something funny to get your attention, that's when I realize that it's pointless."


The thing is, if you're funny, Laura and I will chat with you. Even if you're the biggest farter in the bar. We like to be amused.

But when we go out, it's to catch up. So while we will engage in random conversation, it's not the reason we go out. And if you're not funny, and insist on talking, at some point, well, honestly.

So. There was a little more talk about the ring. I was engaged? Yes. Was this real? Yes. Blah blah blah.

I tried to turn back to my conversation with Laura, but he was persistent. At this point I think it was really about having our attention, and not about hitting on us.

"Wow. Now I get the reason guys want you to wear a ring. It's all 'she's taken!'"

"Yes, that's exactly what it's about. Kind of like peeing on your leg to mark territory."

He looked uncomfortable. "Well, I wouldn't say it's like that."

"No, it's like that. I think it's just like that. Although of course I'd rather have a ring than have someone pee on my leg."

You'd think this would have deterred him, since he wasn't sharp enough to just run with it. But no.

At some point his friend reached over for a napkin, as he'd spilled some water on his sleeve.

Laura pointed and said, "I think your friend needs some help with his sleeve."

"You think we're gay!"

What do you say to this? "No, I think you're juvenile and incredibly irritating? Talk to your friend - he's just sitting there cringing over your behavior?"

We said nothing.

He then asked if we worked in some senator's office. It was seriously like having a bratty kid saying whatever possible, just to get you to respond.

Neither of us are rude, but we turned back to our own conversation. What do you say? Stop talking to me?

Because why waste your time with people you don't want to talk to, when you see your friends so rarely?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Because better vision only gets you so far

I got new glasses at the end of the year. I had FSA money to use, and so I ran out and got some fabulous glasses.

They are everything I could ever want in an eyeglass, but for one thing.

They're made by Lafont, a trendy, spendy French brand. They are greenish, as you may or may not be able to tell in the picture, with a subtle purple pattern that shows when you turn them at an angle. They sound hideous, but the overall effect is really subtle and pretty.

Somehow, this potentially ugly color/pattern combination blends really well with my pale skin and blonde hair.

They're also shaped as kind of a rounded cat-eye. I had a brief fear of looking like a Far Side lady, but I have been assured that I don't.

But here's the thing. They stick out more on the sides than I'm used to.

Which would be fine if I were a normally coordinated human being.

Which I am not.

And so I keep banging them into the things - the edge of open doors, mainly - and slamming the side of my glasses into it. Which then shoves them hard against the bridge of my nose. Which hurts. As you may imagine.

I've currently got little red marks on both sides of my nose.

I know, I know, the solution is simple. Stop walking into doors.

This is easier said than done. For some of us.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Save the date!

We are choosing among the following three designs for our magnets.

My colleague and friend Maria is a designer. She has her regular day job, and then on the side she has a business designing fun, creative things like wedding invitations.

She made the cutest Save the Date (or STD, which quite amuses me) cards for Jenny, who got engaged just before Christmas. I might ask her if I can post hers, actually, because they are so cool.

Anyway, when I got engaged, Maria asked if I'd like her to design my invitations. I had considered doing them myself, to save money. But she has great design sense, and I think it's important to support designers, I really do. So I told her that as long as she is fair - to herself, not just to me - I would be happy to hire her to design them.

She asked what my colors were, which made me realize I'm the least bride-y bride around. Colors?

The only ones that came to mind were "blush and bashful" - but does anyone actually picture me in a big ole' Southern frou-frou wedding? Not so much.

So I said "Um. I like orange. And fuchsia."

Because I do.

So she offered to do the layout for the magnets, using the same colors and font that she'll use for the invites.

She gave me these to review.

What do you think?

Friday, March 14, 2008

I think it's time to pass on the cow hooves

I think it's time to pass this on to a single woman. You want it? It's yours.

I cut it out of a magazine a number of years ago, and it's been on my fridge ever since.

It made me laugh, and for so long I could identify very strongly with it, actually. In my 20s I knew people my age or younger who would begin relationships with the expectation that they would be forever. I thought there was something weird about them.

Me, I would begin relationships with the expectation that they would end.

Because of course there's nothing weird about that.

For the longest time I was all, "Don't get attached to me, I might be moving on. This is nice for now. and I love you now. But don't get attached. Because I'll probably leave you. Not because of you. Just because, well, you never know."

How much did it suck to get attached to me? Immensely. I have huge regrets about a couple guys I really, really hurt.

And, shockingly enough, you can't hurt someone and then all of a sudden after a while be like, "Yeah, I meant it before when I didn't want to commit and would rather bob for cow hooves in live maggots and swim in shark-infested water, but now, as a person, I'm ready. I've changed."

I mean, you can try it.

But you might have more luck navigating shark infested waters.

I could talk about time and place and who I was then and who I am now - because all of those things figure in.

And I believe people hit the readiness to commit point at very different times. Sometimes you meet someone amazing and everything about them is perfect, except they're just not in the right place. And until they are, it doesn't matter how incredible you are.

Because it's not about you.

For me, it took getting to a point where I was really good with myself. I simply couldn't appreciate another person enough to have a very loving, healthy relationship before I got to that point with me.

So I was terrified of committing. I was more used to change than constancy. Motion was comfortable. Change was the solution to everything. Even if change kept me frenzied and off-kilter, well, sure those states were uncomfortable. But familiar - oh so familiar.

As a result, I have had a ton of jobs, a plethora of boyfriends, and lived in myriad places.

Committing to someone for ever and ever - which, except for kids, is the biggest commitment imaginable - made me twitch so hard.

I don't know how many cow hooves I'd have agreed to swim with, but for many years, it would have been a lot.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In an ass to face situation the only thing to do is leave

I often run up and down the stairs at a church on Thomas Circle.

They aren't too steep, and there are columns to round at the top. I run up, round a column, down, up to the next column. Up and down all the way across. And then repeat the opposite direction. Sometimes the up and down and up and down gets tedious, but for the most part, I quite like it.

There are often either piles of bedrolls and stuff or people asleep at the top. Or during the daytime sometimes people are just hanging out up there.

I keep my distance, and if there are too many people, or I'm going to be running too close, I go elsewhere. Because although it's a public place, when they're parked there, it is, essentially, their bedroom.

Also, there's some high degree of possibility that at least one of them is crazy and unpredictable.

Which leads me to the ass-face scenario.

So a couple days ago I was running up and down these aforementioned stairs. I was listening to my iPod, my short blonde hair up in as much of a ponytail as possible, wearing my periwinkle fleece, and really enjoying the sunshine.

La la la la la up and down the stairs.

There were a piles on both sides of the church. They looked like huge bundles of bedroll and stuff.

More la la la la la more up and down the stairs. Until, after about 15 minutes of uping and downing, I got to the top of one of the columns to see someone back against the far wall throwing off a blanket. And glaring at me.


By the time I'd gotten back to the column on his side, he was sitting turned to face the wall. I kept running for about five more minutes. Every time I got to the top on his side, he was facing the wall.

And then.

I was halfway up the stairs when I happened to glance up. And see him, bending straight over at the waist, with his pants pulled down.

If I hadn't been paying attention, I'd have been face to ass as I hit the top of the stairs.

I screamed a little, but just a little. And turned and ran. I'm sure I was running like a girl.

It took me a fraction of a section to bolt down the stairs and head for 14th Street. At the point at which an angry mendicant is all about showing his ass, the only reasonable thing to do is flee.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And then sometimes things don't come out the way you mean them

When I was single I liked dating, for the most part, but the idea of having found someone I want to be with forever ever just feels so incredible.

I was thinking recently how much I love Nick, and how lucky I feel to have found him. And how happy I am about the idea of never going on a first date again.

And then I started thinking, you know, if for some reason this doesn't work out with him, maybe the universe doesn't mean for me to be with someone. I think this is it, and if it isn't, maybe I should just give up on romance and focus on something else.

I told this to Nick.

I said, "You know, if for some reason we don't work out, I'm giving up on romance entirely. I'm going to move somewhere like Italy or Finland or Holland - somewhere with really cool design - and go to school and just throw myself into a design career."

"But we are going to work out. I'm not going anywhere."

"Well, yeah, I know you aren't going to leave me. But you could still die in a fiery car crash or a weird blimp accident or something."

"You're sitting around thinking about me dying in a weird blimp accident?"

"No! Well, yes. It could happen. And then I'd be done with romance."

Clearly the "I love you more than anything" intention didn't come across.

A few hours later, however, he said, out of the blue, "I guess it's flattering. I mean, you are essentially saying you'd give up on men after me."


"I still wish you'd stop imagining me in dramatic and tragic accidents."

"OK. I'll stop."

"I do have life insurance, though."

"That's good. Design school is expensive."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Daylight discombobulation time

This spring forward business just kills me.

Let me begin by saying I am a huge fan of daylight saving time. I am massively affected by light, and every single drop that gets added to the end of the day, when I can really enjoy it, helps me immensely. I look forward to turning the clock forward, and I do a little dance realizing how late it will stay light.

That said, it always leaves me cracked out.

Or what I imagine cracked out might be like. Or maybe not cracked out, because that's when you're on crack, right? So that probably feels good, which would be why you'd keep doing crack. Maybe post-cracked out?

The closest I can imagine is coming down off of the sugar rush of having eaten an entire pound bag of M&Ms. Kind of shaky and weak and dizzy. But you'd do it again if that bag were sitting right in front of you.

In any case, it leaves me befuddled and disoriented for a good week afterwards.

I get up before I'm actually awake, and I stumble around. I get dressed and have breakfast, but I am dazed the whole time. It takes me a while of being at work, plus a good bit of coffee, to actually feel like I'm present in the world.

Over breakfast, Nick suggested that for the first week of daylight savings, people should get to spring forward and fall back.


"You could fall back in the morning, so you'd get that extra hour of sleep. And then spring forward at night, to get more daylight. Wouldn't that be great?"

He was kidding. As may be clear to you.

However, me, in my dazed state, could barely process this and eat cereal at the same time. So he had to repeat it three times. Which made him think it was funnier and funnier. Because you know how painful it is to have to repeat a joke. And re-repeat it. And you always wonder if the person who isn't getting it is stupid or humorless.

So on the drive in, I emerged from my fog to say, "But what would that do to your day?"

Because by then I was wondering if everyone gets to choose their own hour in the morning to set the clock back to, and their own hour at night. Would everyone's clocks be different?

"Oh, it would be horrendous. People would be all fucked up. And the days would be 26 hours long!"

"Would they? No. You add an hour...and you take away an then it comes out even?"

Doing math when you can't use at least your fingers is not the easiest for some of us.

Suffice it to say, this time change really messes with me.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The wedding registry: what's a gravy boat and do we actually need one?

People have started asking where we're registered.

Initially I was not going to register anywhere. We've both been living alone for a long time. We both have stuff. Why get people to buy us presents?

I sort of feel the same way about the wedding as I do about my birthday. I like throwing my own party, I like treating people, and I really don't need presents. I mean this completely.

So I told Nick that I wanted to pick a charity, and ask that in lieu of gifts, donations be made to it.

"No way," he said. "I want a waffle maker."

Now, this wasn't enough of an argument for me. His birthday is coming up, and his parents or I could certainly get him a waffle iron. I was pretty adamantly against registering.

Two people changed my mind.

One was my friend Tejal, who got married last summer. She said that her cousin had opted to ask people to donate to a charity in lieu of gifts. And here's what happened: people bought them a whole bunch of expensive stuff anyway. Stuff they couldn't begin to imagine how to use. Like a fiber-optic peacock statue.

She said people really, really want to buy you gifts to celebrate your marriage. And they get annoyed if you don't let them. She said guests are going to spend the money and give you things, even if you tell them to donate it to charity.

The last thing I want is for loved ones to buy expensive things that we don't need.

And then Nicole and I were emailing about cake, and she asked about the registry. And said that if I had any questions about Williams-Sonoma products, I could feel free to ask her, as when she worked there she loved registering people. She finds the registry process fun.

So I wrote back and said I was hesitant about registering, mainly because we are old and honestly, what do we need?

And here's what she said, thus providing my second excellent reason for registering.

"Yes, you've lived alone for awhile and have everything you "need," but there's really no other/better time than a wedding to get everything you WANT for your life ahead. The sentiment that I've heard most frequently from people in that second category is along the lines of 'but we have everything we need! Isn't it wasteful/selfish to ask people to spend all of this money on us?" And the first piece of advice I give them is: NO. You're getting married! Who cares that you're in your 30s and not your 20s? Who cares that you already have a lot of stuff? Get new stuff! Get stuff you've always wanted but could never justify! Get matching stuff!'"

I asked her if she'd make suggestions on products. Because how can you have access to a food studies major, someone who loves food like crazy, and, on top of that, offered to help with something that I find incredibly daunting and not take her up on it?

Because truthfully, tasks like this are not fun for me, and not my strength. I look on these sites, and there are 83 choices of each product. How the fuck to figure out which one of anything?

I've realized that it's not just want - which assuages my guilt about being wasteful. Growing up in India, Bangladesh, Egypt, you realize how much you have compared to others. I definitely didn't grow up with a disposable mentality. You use something till it just doesn't work anymore.

But we do have some actual needs.

Because look at our stuff. Some of my towels, for example, we had in the 70s. I remember them from my childhood. These towels - some of which are hideous - are a good reminder to get things you like, because they sure can last and hang around forever.

And my blender? Used to belong to a friend of B's. Who gave it to him years ago when she moved overseas. And he passed it on to me. I could, without guilt, pass it on to someone else and get a new blender.

And Nick's favorite Pyrex pot? He found in the attic of the house he moved into after law school. A zillion years ago. And I have some from my parents. But we need more than a couple old pots. And we don't actually have a decent knife between us.

So yes, we have plenty of stuff. But clearly there are household things - beyond a waffle maker - that we could really use.

Now we just have to figure out what they are.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Protecting important data

So you know how passwords usually have particular requirements?

Like, it has to be this many characters, and has to include a number or symbol, or you have to stand on your head when you type it, or whatever? I find some of them really annoying, although I understand the why of it. You want it to be difficult for other people to figure out.

The system for our online time recording requires us to change the password every three months. And you can't use the same password as the last three times. So I am constantly locking myself out and asking them to reset. It's really irritating for all involved.

But so many passwords I need, particularly at work, just don't matter. Nobody is trying to break into these applications, and if they did, they wouldn't get any important data anyway.

So my old boss sent out an email to a number of us who use a particular program. It used to be that we would all log in with the same login name, and use the same password.

But now we will each log in with our own email addresses, and he said he needed a password from each of us. He asked us please not to use a password we use for anything important. Like, he doesn't want know what we use for our online banking.

But he didn't give us any parameters. And I wanted it simple.

I was doing three other things and running off to a meeting, and didn't have the time to put much thought into it. So I hastily emailed him back with my suggested password and a question about it.

He stopped me in the hallway a couple hours later. He said, "I have to show you something that really made me laugh. And I'd like to thank you for it."

He pulled out his Treo and handed it to me.

On the screen was the email I'd sent him.

"How about Nick? Does length matter?"

And he said, "Lis, only you can answer that question."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

In case you live in DC and are hoping for an Amelie experience

I don’t know if you have ever tried to find a photo booth – you know, the kind that make those good old fashioned four photos in a strip things – in the District of Columbia?

I assure you, it’s no easy task.

As for the why of the photo booth hunt, let me explain. We saw these cute “save the date” cards with a couple in a photo booth holding up “save the date” signs. We thought that would be fun. And then Nick realized we could have fridge magnets made – and how much more fun would that be?

So Sunday we printed words on several pieces of paper to hold up in the photos.

With “save the date” paper in hand and dollar bills in pocket, we headed over to Union Station. We figured a train station would have a photo booth, no?


We walked into a cute clothing store, and while I looked around, Nick told the woman at the counter what we were up to. She was all congratulatory, but I felt kind of foolish.

So I made him promise he wouldn’t keep telling people at places we went to.

After scouring the entire place and asking a variety of people, all of whom said they had no idea, I called a friend of mine who said that Bar Pilar has one. Which is true – I’d forgotten that.

So we headed over to Bar Pilar, and figured that we should have a beer and then try to take the photos. So we each ordered a Magic Hat # 9 – yum – and then decided to try.

We sat down in the booth, and then realized we’d forgotten the “save” piece of paper. So we sat back down at our table, drank our beer, and decided to just use the date, and Washington, DC, and the one where we drew a heart with our initials.

With our new plan, we headed back into the booth. Only to find that it wouldn’t take our money. We asked the guy at the bar, who said it was full.

We ordered another beer. And started calling the most likely places we could think of. Like National Airport. He called Lost and Found, as he couldn’t figure out where else to call for info. They were very nice. But no photo booth anywhere in the airport.

And then he called the Chinatown bus station. And Greyhound. And malls. Just FYI – Chinatown bus has great phone service; Greyhound never answered. Neither have a photo booth. Turns out Greyhound has apparel for sale on their website.

Nick has this beautiful, deep, Southern-accented voice, and he is unfailingly polite. And it was so funny to listen to him calling places, so politely, with this totally random question and no explanation.

But anyway. We finally admitted what we were up to, and the bartender turned to one of the guys at the bar, who said he knew of a photo booth in Baltimore. And then the bartender remembered on place that might have one off Bladensburg Road. He called. They don’t open till 10.

Then another bartender said, “Hey, Asylum has one!”

So we called Asylum to ask if their photo booth was working. Both people said it was a good question, and then the woman he spoke to said she thought it was. He said we’d be over shortly to use it.

Her response was, “Sweet!”

We got there, sat down at the bar, and ordered a beer. Then pulled out our papers and headed to the photo booth.

Which didn’t take any money.

At this point, we had to ask the bartender. She looked at it, then turned it off, turned it back on, and we tried again. To no avail.

We told her what we were up to, and she texted a friend at another place to see if they had a photo booth. No luck.

Three beers was our limit, and someone at the bar suggested the theatre at Potomac Yards, so we stopped there on the way home. We asked the ticket guy if we could just go in and use the photo booth, and he let us. It turned out to be one of those sticker machines, and I was all, “Goddammit, we are getting stickers.”

If you’ve never gotten your faces on those little stickers, let me tell you something. You have to choose a theme. It includes a saying and art.

And so we? Now have a page of stickers with our faces. Surrounded by bikes and skateboards. With “Drop it like it’s hot!” written above us.

As for the save the dates – might be next weekend’s project.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My new happy place

My ring is my new happy place.

I don't know if you know this about me, but in terms of "pretty, shiny, sparkly" I have been Rain Man for a very long time.

Really. I'll be talking to someone and then see something brightly colored or sparkly go by and I'll get all distracted. I'll keep talking to the person but my eyes will be all fixed on the sparkle.

I'm silently thinking, "Oooh! Sparkly!"

I'll be typing and then the light will hit my ring, and I'll forget what I'm typing. Sparkly!

If I'm sitting through a dreadful meeting, I'll look down in my lap, turn my ring, and just get all sucked in. I don't think my eyes glaze over and I hope my jaw doesn't go slack, but I do find it pretty mesmerizing.

I'll be in the car or on the metro and I happen to glance at my hand. And immediately I'm like a magpie. Unable to focus on anything but the sparkle.

Honestly. It's shocking I haven't fallen in a hole on the way to work. Actually, I probably will now that glove weather is over.

One of my colleagues caught me going to my happy place in a stab-your-eyes-out dull meeting the other day. I had my hand in my lap under the table. I was looking down, turning my hand to catch different angles of light, all, happy place! happy place! She caught my eye and raised an eyebrown and smirked.

What could I do but shrug?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

They not only exist but actually have a name

I was going to write a serious post, but then the lure of the merkin was just too strong.

I do occasionally, when I write about poo, or parasites, or other random and potentially distasteful topics, worry that readers will just be all, "Wtf, Lisa?" and give up on me. But then I figure, well, nothing to be done about it.

So the merkin. It's been a recurring conversational topic.

I first heard of a merkin on Halloween about ten years ago in San Diego. A friend of Maude's dressed as a gladiator. I think he had fashioned a skirt out of tin foil. Or he had a gladiator skirt and a codpiece out of tin foil. I don't precisely remember. But he had a lot of layers, which Maude found too enticing.

She lifted one to find another, and lifted the next to find a wig. Not a merkin, by definition. A wig one might put on their head. Which made it all the funnier. So anyway, she lifted that as well. To find, um, a lack of underwear.

"Why'd you lift my merkin?"

Merkin! A new vocabulary word! Plus a huge lesson learned. If you come across a merkin, don't lift it!

Somehow merkin came up the other night. Nick had never heard of one, and when I told him what it meant, I thought he was going to cry, he was laughing so hard.

Why, he wanted to know, would anyone have a pubic wig? Which is actually a really good question in the age of Brazilian waxing.

Immediately "Quit jerkin' my merkin!" became his new phrase.

Honestly. I went out with two friends the other night and he joined us. And at some point he turned to me and said, "Quit jerkin' my merkin!"

Fortunately these are women who are not easily fazed, and they found great humor in it. We left and I got a text from one that said, "Quit jerkin' my merkin!"

So the why of the merkin. As I understand it, they came into existence in the 1400s to cover up the fact that one had shaved pubic hair because of lice, or to disguise the fact that one had syphilis.

In other words, they were practical.

So back to merkin in conversation one night; the next day, I got a slew of merkin-related emails from Nick.

One of them had this link: Merkin (And just to let you all know, you probably don't want to open this at work.)

I clicked on it, and, well, it's a merkin.

"AAAAAGH! How can you send me that at work with no warning?!?"

"Lisa, the link is 'merkin' - how can you suggest that you didn't have any warning?"

Fair enough.

And then, not two days later, Kay walked in from lunch with several other people, and I caught a snatch of their conversation.

" know, kind of like a merkin."

Merkin? Did she just say merkin? I had to rush over. "What's kind of like a merkin!?"

She was referring to the fact that there are all these random things out there in the world that would never occur to you. You learn about them, and it turns out they not only exist, but they have names. Kind of like a merkin!


Monday, March 03, 2008

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

I am terrified of getting lost.

Not lost in a physical sense, because I've spent a great deal of my life getting very specific directions, and still turning down the wrong street, hopping on the wrong bus, and relying on strangers, turning the map in the direction that I'm facing, and still choosing the wrong way when I get to the landmark that's supposed to definitively tell me where I'm going.

In other words, I've spent a lot of time not quite knowing where I am but confident I'll end up where I'm supposed to be.

In terms of travel, I've always wound up where I set out to.

But right now, I'm firmly embedded in one of those life milestones. And I'm so scared of losing me.

And I'm having a great time - I'm with this person who keeps me endlessly entertained, who I can spend ridiculous amounts of time with and still feel like we don't have enough time. But still.

I've worked hard to craft this life for myself, and it's a life I like. I can take care of myself; I can pay for all my own stuff. I am fine alone. I'm just happier not alone. Or, more specifically, I'm happier with Nick. But it's really, really important to me to be my own, whole, entire person.

What if I lose that?

I own a tiny little place in DC - tiny but in a fantastic location. Exactly where I wanted to be. I can walk to work; I can walk to everything. Most of my friends live blocks away. Parking in my neighborhood sucks - in part because a lot of people drive to go out there. It's a fun area to be.

But the minute nature of the place means that it's only big enough for me. Or maybe me and a petite little man. With only three outfits and one pair of shoes. And no stuff.

In other words, really, just me.

So we spent all our time at Nick's, out in Virginia. Because we determined early that there's simply not enough room for us to actually sleep at my place. And the not sleeping? Doesn't work for either of us.

His place is lovely, really and truly. It's beautifully done and very comfortable. It's big enough for both of us. And man, is it tidy.

And I? Am not. So I spend a lot of time trying not to leave things strewn about, as is my wont. This is a good thing; I would like to be less of a strewer-abouter. But I put a lot of effort into not bringing much over, because there isn't space for it. And I worry I'll end up strewing or piling, for lack of anywhere to stick stuff. And he will get annoyed.

He hasn't actually gotten annoyed. But I don't want to put a bunch of reasons not to like me out there.

What we are talking about is me moving in there once we get married. We'll save money, and then buy a new place in DC. Part of this is location - I want to be in DC; I want to be able to walk to things, and he likes the idea of a city life - he just hasn't sought it out before.

When we leave the city after work, we go home, and that is that. No last minute running down the block to meet up with friends, no strolling down to Whole Foods for groceries. There are a couple places to walk to, and we do, but none of my friends are nearby.

It's not just about being in the city or not. It's also that, while his place is big enough for both of us, it's only big enough as long as I put all my stuff in storage. Or he puts some and I put some. And still, a lot will go in storage.

But space is not all of it.

His place is his. It's very him. Because, like me, he's crafted a whole life for himself. And his place is great, but it's not me. And we do things his way, not because he pushes - not at all, but because it's his place, and this is how he does things. It would be the same at my place - you know your space, you have your routine, and the way you do things is the way you do things.

And so I currently feel like I've walked into someone else's life. And it's not that it's not where I want to be. He is exactly where I want to be. It's just that I haven't figured out how to also retain all the me of me.

You know?