Friday, May 30, 2008

Menu tasting! Exercising decourum!

Last night we met with the caterer to taste our proposed menu. It was delicious! And fun!

The biggest part about it, though, was that it made it real. Not only that we're getting married. But that we're having a wedding. And it's starting to be really really real.

Linen, china, death do us part, frou frou appetizers, sickness and health, forever and ever. Etc.

Somehow the formal part of it didn't really hit me till last night, when we were eating beautifully prepared little bits of food and talking tables.

I'm sure this sounds really silly. But it's true.

I have to say, neither of us had expected to particularly enjoy the tasting. It just seemed like something you have to do. You have to figure out your food. You have to pick linens and talk tables and whatever whatever.

And then we started out grumpy because we had to leave work early and Nick was late and I was annoyed and he was five kinds of stressed out about three different cases and trying to get across town in DC rush hour.


And then we got there and our caterer is so friendly and gracious and it was a delight to see him.

The first thing they did was to serve us mojitos, which is a great way to start an evening, and hell, sometimes would probably even be a fantastic way to start a really annoying workday. I mean if you weren't worried about what cocktails first thing in the morning might do to your life.

So we started with mojitos because that's how cocktail hour is going to start. At first when they asked us if we had a "signature cocktail" we sort of squinted at them in confusion.

"You know, like maybe you drank margaritas when you first started dating. Or you both love strawberry daiquiris."

Um. No. But we swilled a hell of a lot of beer in those first few weeks. Does that work?

But then a couple friends said they'd gone to weddings where they were given a mojito to start off, and they'd loved it. And who doesn't love a good mojito? Mint! Yum!

On a side bar: mint, we learned last night, is a weed, and if you don't plant it in pots, it will take over your garden. In case you're considering a mint fest.

We'd started out the planning process thinking we'd have a seated dinner. But then that got really spendy. And restricted the number of guests we could have, because space at our venue is tight.

We're now having more of a cocktail reception with tons of food.

If you've not done a tasting, they serve you as if it were the event. So we were given drinks, and then appetizers one by one.

Yummy cheese thingies and spinach thingies and prosciutto, which is one of my favorite products on the planet. For Nick there is going to be lamb on a rosemary skewer. Very pretty presentation. Even though I think lamb is gross.

Then there was a huge spread of beef tenderloin and salmon and these delicious chicken and mushroom "purses" wrapped up in soft pastry dough and tied with some kind of herb. We are having lots of veg options like spinach pastry and sauteed veggies and I can't remember what all else.

There was an extraordinary amount of food. And they sent us home with leftovers.

There will be seating for some percentage of guests, which is necessary, because as my dad keeps reminding me, he is old and so are his friends, and they need to sit down sometimes. But whoever wants to can be up milling around.

I like this idea. I'd always rather be able to get up than be stuck at some table.

When we were talking about beverages Nick said that we were thinking of getting a keg (of amazing beer from Rustico).

The caterer said, "I'm quite sure the house will be really, really opposed to it." And then went on to explain the complications of a keg. And how not a lot of people will drink beer.

He is right about this. The venue is a (an?) historic house museum. Kegs, I am sure, are verboten.

But the funniest thing was the look on his face - briefly, before he regained his composure - at the mention of "keg." Because he is so incredibly upbeat and diplomatic and charming.

We left and Nick said his face, in that brief instant, couldn't have been more horrified than if Nick had told him he'd taken a poo in one of the planters downstairs.

Which he did not.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Note to self: next year wear a dress. Oh, and practice your aim in the meantime.

So I had to give a urine sample for my physical. This is always more convoluted than you expect it to be.

First of all, you have this long set of instructions. I always read them thoroughly. I forget how it went last year. I get all nervous. Like, really, I'm going to fail my urine sample. But anyway.

You're supposed to take two sanitary moist towelettes and have them ready. And then you're supposed to wipe yourself, firmly and thoroughly, front to back. Once. You have to make sure to wipe only once and use each towelette only once. You then dispose of them in the trash can, not the toilet.

OK, so step one is already kind of complicated. There's just too much going on.

For one thing, you've unzipped your pants and pulled down your undies, and you're kind of half hovering above the toiled. With your legs far enough apart to pee , but even more importantly, enough to keep your pants from falling down.

And this part is uncomfortable, because most likely your undies are pulling at your legs but your pants are still wanting to slide. And you're all goddammit! You are not hitting the ground!

Because who wants their pants to touch the ground in a public bathroom? Especially in a bathroom where people are having to do urine sample contortions?


At this point you open both moist towelette wrappers. You cannot do this before pulling down your pants, because where are you going to put them? You can't set them on the sink. Because, ick, no longer sanitary!

So you're in this hover-y, precarious position, and you're trying to hold both of these towelettes.

And then you use one of the towelettes, following the instructions, while holding the other one with your other hand. Which is also involved in the proper following of the instructions.

And then! Then you realize that you have to dispose of this first towelette in the trash can!

Which is across the room.

You're not going to set it on the sink while you use the other one, because ick again - you've just wiped your vagina with it. And maybe the last person set theirs on the sink, which is precisely why you didn't set yours on it before using in the first place.

So you lurch across the room, one hand holding the still sanitary moist towelette, and your legs far enough apart to keep your pants up, or maybe you squeeze your knees together so your pants don't fall down, but have your feet far enough apart to do a wobble waddle over to the trash.

And then you return to the toilet and repeat this process all over again.

This would, of course, be 54 times easier if the trash can were next to the toilet. I forgot to tell the doctor that when I saw her.

So once you're finished with your sanitary towelette ablutions, then, then you have to figure out the whole pee in a cup business!

You're supposed to pee a little into the toilet, and then pee in the cup, then seal it. After that it says to make sure to wipe it clean, put your name on it, and put it in the little cupboard.

But this part also involves both balance and decision making.

How much to pee first? What if you pee too much in the cup? How much do they really want? Is this going to be enough? You were kind of thirsty when you came in. Maybe you can't pee enough. Oh, it's totally enough. But will they laugh at you if you fill it to the top? Maybe you should pour some out.

Again, stupid. Who fails a urine sample? But in the moment, I take these thing very seriously.

Beyond this, peeing into those little cups is not as easy as you think it would be. You invariably wind up peeing on the cup, if not your hand. You figure the cup handlers wear gloves because these cups have dried urine all over them.

By the time I put my name on it and stuck it in the little cupboard, I'd worked up a sweat.

It's a process. Seriously.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Because the tsetse fly is large, brown, and stealthy, you just never know. . .

Yesterday I was pretty sure I either had something dire, like meningitis or trypanosomiasis (also called sleeping sickness). Because I was so endlessly tired.

Not to be all dramatic or anything.

On a tangent (because you know I love to tange) the tsetse fly, which spreads trypanosomiasis, is really interesting. The tsetse fly is described as "large, brown, and stealthy" - how great a description is that? This fascination fits right in with all the other parasites by which I'm endlessly fascinated.

But in a horrified, I sure hope that doesn't happen to me, kind of way.

Sunday night I went to bed at 10 pm and barely managed to crawl out at 10 am. I promptly went back to sleep and slept almost all day. I felt like crap, but mostly I was just tired, so very tired.

On Monday I accomplished only two things: a blog post, and the painting of my toenails. Orange. Both from bed. And that was all.

If you live in the DC area you know that Monday was one of the most exquisite days of the year. I felt like one of those consumptive 19th century heroines, confined to bed, gazing longingly out the window, putting out a wan hand to draw the shades.

Can you tell I was feeling very sorry for myself?

I wanted to get up and out. But frankly, I just couldn't move.

Tuesday morning Nick woke me up, and the minute I stood up, I thought my head was going to explode. Seriously. My brain felt too big for my skull. I broke into a sweat, felt dizzy, nauseous, and had to sit down.

He wanted me to stay home, but I figured I only had a half day, as I had a physical scheduled for the afternoon. I could make it that long.

So in the car I had the AC blasting on my sweaty face, and I was trying very hard to concentrate and not throw up in the car. Which prompted Nick to drive me straight home and order me to bed.

This is the point at which I became certain that it was something calamitous and fatal. And then I started thinking, with trypanosomiasis, it may be fatal, but you have time. Meningitis? I think that's pretty swift. Naturally, I was worried.

I considered calling all my loved ones, just in case, the way I do when I'm going to get on a plane, but I was just too tired.

Nick didn't seem as concerned as I, and said he'd check in later.

He called to wake me up around noon and I was still alive, so that part was good. I popped some Advil and had some tea and tottered feebly off to the doctor.

I was there for a routine physical. But I started off with my current ailment. Which, as anyone could plainly see, was grim. I waited to see what she'd say, because of course I didn't want to make the diagnosis for her.

Also, I didn't want her to think I was an alarmist. I try to perpetuate the illusion of normalcy for as long as possible, you know?

I listed my symptoms.

"It's probably a virus."

"A virus?"

"Yes. Or it could be allergies. This has been a terrible season."


"I think it's allergies or a virus."

"Allergies or a virus?"

By this point I'm fairly certain she was beginning to wonder if the main problem was that I was simple, since I didn't seem to be able to do much beyond repeat what she'd said.

The good thing was, I'd made a list of issues to discuss. Her nurse had suggested it last week, when I'd gone in to do blood work and give a urine specimen (which, actually, I'd like to discuss at a later time). It was really helpful, because I can never remember these things in the moment.

She assuaged my fears on a number of issues. So later I went through the list with Nick all of the things that we'd discussed.

"So, did you ask her about your boobs?"


"Did you ask her why she thinks your boobs are enormous lately?"

"Um, no, I didn't think to."

"Too bad."

"You think it's a problem?"

"No, but I was just thinking that then you could've asked her what you can do to keep them this way."

Unhelpful. Trypanosoma. Is the look I gave him.

I'm back at work today, so she was probably right. A virus. Or allergies.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The math got complicated, so let me just say we're more than half full

We had dinner with my parents and the son of old family friends and his girlfriend the other night. They're more like family than friends, actually.

So after we left, he grilled my dad about Nick. He'd done the same thing to me when I told him. It's very fast - is this too fast? How well do you actually know him? Is he good enough for Lisa? Is he acting like he's all fantastic and will he only show his real colors after the wedding?

He was very supportive, but suspicious. Why so fast?

Nobody had done this to me. He was worried he was overstepping his bounds, but the truth is, I appreciated the loving concern. He's behaving like the older brother I've never had.

But honestly, it's all been like living in dog years. It's never felt fast.

A couple weeks ago - the night of the Bell's dinner, when I told those guys they should go ahead and sleep around - we hit our six month anniversary. I couldn't actually say it without giggling. I spent the whole day telling people. And giggling.

"Today is our six-month anniversary. Hee hee hee."

The people who know me best saw the hilarity of it, laughed along with me. Six months! And look where we are!

Six months. And we'd been engaged for more than half of them.

Once we got engaged, we were wishing the weeks would go by faster. So we wouldn't look quite as foolish, like we'd jumped in too fast.

I can't remember if I told you this, but when we got engaged I told a good friend of mine that I was worried about everyone saying it was too fast.

And she said, "People will definitely say that. Just not to your face."

Somehow, that made it better.

We met on a Tuesday, and so every Tuesday I'd say, "We've hit a week point."

Of course it sounds like "weak point" and the first couple times Nick got all concerned. But after that, he was pointing out the Tuesdays along with me.

There was a Pit of Three Months: We felt like we were stuck in three months forever. It's not like the Pit of Despair, but time felt as if it stopped at month three. It was slogging through quicksand to get out of the three month place. Absolutely interminable.

We weren't having a bad time. We were just tired of saying, "Three months," when people asked us how long we'd been together.

The Tuesday of Week 13 we did a little out of three months! dance. "Four months!" We could start saying four months!

And then after that, time just went, and people were used to the idea of us being engaged, and we got used to it.

We realized the Bell's dinner coincided nicely with our six month anniversary, and both felt like a good reason to splurge.

And so now the balance, I think, has tipped. We're past six months, which is a reasonable time frame in which to get engaged. Not that it's not fast, but, at least at our age, almost nobody thinks it's a big hurry hurry.

Then the other day Nick said, "Hey! We're now closer to getting married than we are to meeting."


Thursday, May 22, 2008

In which it all goes together but not exactly

I firmly believe most men don't understand women's clothing. I mean your average man. Not your Project Runway "drapes like an angel" designer guy.

Which is fine; they don't need to. Unless of course they're cross-dressers. In which case, well, honestly, I'm not even sure what to say about that. Anyway. It's fine.

Except that sometimes, I need some help.

This is one of several areas in which I think lesbians have it made. You always have another woman around to help with your outfit. You could wear each other's clothes. It would be great.

But that's also a huge tangent and nowhere near my point.

We don't have a full-length mirror at Nick's, so I never exactly know what I look like till I get to the bathroom at work.

Mostly it's fine. I seem to wear the same things over and over anyway. Or I wear something that goes with black boots or shoes and don't have to worry about color matching.

The only part I sometimes get nervous about is when I venture into trying to match browns, or brown with other colors, and I'm uncertain. Because Nick is color-blind, and so he genuinely can't tell if this goes with that, colorishly speaking.

Plus, I have decided that while he has nice taste, and he's conservative, so I'll never run off to work all tarty, men just can't be trusted when they tell you something looks fine.

And you know how sometimes you're trying to figure out if you can pull something off and you're not sure? It might be cool, but it also might be dumb? It might work really well, but if it doesn't, it really doesn't?

That's where you need a woman. Or a full length mirror.

Because, here's what I did the other day. I bought these grey 3/4 length cuffed pants, quite fitted, at Banana recently. They're cotton and stretch and comfy, but sharp. A good weight for spring, but dark enough grey to be worn with a wool sweater and not look weird. I paired them with a fitted waist-length black sweater set.

And then I was trying to figure out shoes, and since this week was cold, I chose black boots. And since I still have a lot of my clothes at home, I donned the only pair of black boots I had at Nick's. They're flat, with a square toe, and they have two straps on the calf.

I got them in England several years ago, and I call them my Tough Girl boots because I think I totally look like I could kick someone's ass in them. The ass of someone short. And little. But still. (I have been told, incidentally, that I never look like I could kick someone's ass. But if that's what I want to call the boots, that's cool.)

"How does this look?"


Since I liked every piece of the outfit, I felt good walking out the door. Nice pants, conservative sweater, good boots.

We drove into the city, and were almost at the door of his office building when he said, "I really like that look."

"Hey, thanks!"

"It's sort of modern-day girly stormtrooper."


It turned out he was exactly right.

Wedding hair, or the lengths to which one goes

I got up extra early this morning to choose an outfit and do my makeup.

Those who know me know I rarely wear makeup to work, and I don't spend a lot of time on my outfits. Half the time I choose the nearest, cleanest thing and sprint out the door. OK, more than half the time.

I do if I have big meetings or am going out for lunch or going out after work. But usually I don't bother. It's a combination of rolling out of bed as late as possible, the fact that my workplace is not dressy.

So this morning, when I actually went to the effort of putting on concealer and eyeliner and mascara, Nick was all, "Wow! You changed your makeup! It looks great!"

When actually the change was makeup. And a cute outfit.

So my boss also complimented me on how I look today, and asked if I'm going out tonight. Do I have an event?

Absolutely I have an event. I'm getting my hair done. I am terrified of winding up with frumpy hair. You have to look as cute as possible when you go to the salon. I have said this before and it's endlessly true.

They do your hair the way they think you are. Frumpy? They'll frump your hair. Trendy? Cute trendy hair.


Also, I want him to think my opinion can be trusted. That I have taste that shouldn't be overridden. Because this happens, you know.

I get really nervous on salon days. Some people find it relaxing. I find it very stressful. I have wound up with some crazy-ass short hair. With surprise bangs. With color I hated.

I invariably wind up with it at least a little shorter than I want. Usually this is fine with me. But not always, and not right now.

So the last time I went to the salon a friend had given me the following advice: "Say you want wedding hair. Nobody fucks around with wedding hair."

I said, "Hey! Big news! I got engaged!"

He was the first person to say out loud, "Wow, that was really fast."

So after we discussed the fastness of it I said, "So I'm getting married in September. And I want wedding hair."

He knew exactly what I was talking about.

He trimmed it as little as possible, and gave me conservative blonde highlights.

It turns out wedding hair = long hair. And it seems to be true - nobody fucks around with wedding hair.

So "wedding hair" is my phrase of the afternoon. And I'm going to touch up my makeup before I go.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More and less

Just so you know - this is an ugh-ful post.

If I could change something drastic about myself, it wouldn't actually be my weight or my size. It would be how I feel about these things.

It would be the ability to be impervious to numbers. To feel great about myself and how I look just because, and not because of anything external. It would be the ability to not be derailed by a scale or a piece of clothing.

I will never have small thighs or hips. However, my legs are strong from running, and I've got a lot of muscle. Not small, but solid. This is my pep talk. Can you tell?

And the kind men of 14th Street remind me regularly that I've got a lot of junk in the trunk for a white girl. I've determined that a lot of that is muscle as well. I analyze each of my parts regularly and thoroughly. I've gotten Nick to weigh in as well. No pun intended.

So generally, mostly, usuallly, or anyway often, I'm OK with this.

But I got weighed at the doctor this morning. And discovered I'm both heavier and shorter than I think I am. I have written about this very topic before.

It fucks me up like nobody's business.

OK, so I haven't been feeling skinny, but I haven't been feeling fat lately. In other words, I've been feeling normal-ish.

Except this past Saturday, when I discovered my jeans were shockingly tight. Which did make me feel fat and blobby. Especially compared to all the tiny perfect daddy's-credit-card/perfectly coiffed daddy-type-husband wifey shoppers at the charming little stores in Princeton.

Nothing will make you feel unattractive like that. Except maybe Paris. But at least there you know you're just in a different category. The not-Parisian one.

Ugh. Anyway.

But except for the bad jeans day - and they were slightly better on Sunday - I haven't noticed my clothes being particularly tight. I'm wearing my erection skirt, and it's fine, though to be fair it's A-line. But my very fitted blazer isn't any more fitted than usual.

Which means it's all in my butt and thighs. Which is where everything goes first on me.

And today I learned I'm shorter than I thought. I'm barely over 5'3" rather than the 5'3" and 1/4 I've been running around telling people! Ugh! Being this short, my size fluctuates easily. Water, PMS, a pound here and there. Everything, everything shows in my clothes. I could be big today and little tomorrow.

But this isn't water weight. And it's not PMS. It's not even heavy breakfast weight, because I couldn't eat before they took my blood. And they had me take off my boots (which yes, I'm still wearing, because it's been so fucking cold and who the hell knows how to dress for the season anymore?).

So it's just me. This is just the weight I am. I haven't been paying attention and now my normal-ish is more than I want it to be.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

O is for Olive run through with an awl. For example.

I didn't hear from Nick all day yesterday.

And at the end of the day, a friend asked me what I was doing that night.

"It depends on if Nick is dead or not. If he's still alive, then I'll meet him at his office to ride home. And if he's dead, then I suppose I'll be dealing with that."

Because here is the thing. When I can't get in touch with you, I immediately imagine something horrible has happened.

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies? Seem entirely plausible. To me.

I jaywalk in DC regularly, so clearly it doesn't keep me from living life on the edge. But I fret about everyone else.

It's pretty unusual for me not to hear from Nick all day. If I call him, he calls me back. Or emails. Even if he's swamped, he typically lets me know he got my message and is too busy in the moment. But is still alive.

I mean, he doesn't put it that way. But I think of it in those terms.

And then yesterday, I called with a concrete question (tickets to Maine - I'm looking at Orbitz - when do you want to fly?). I heard nothing.

So several hours later, I emailed, "Where are you?"


Called again. Voicemail.

And so I started to fret.

We'd said goodbye at his office building. Maybe he'd gone out for lunch and had gotten hit by a Metro bus? Maybe a big steel beam had fallen on him while he was walking by the office building they're tearing down next to his?

Because if something had happened to him at work - say the photocopy machine had shorted while he was making copies and he'd been electrocuted - someone would surely have called me. No?

I was also trying to find Betty all afternoon. Who, after several unanswered calls, had most likely been swept away in the creek behind their house. It's usually shallow, and she wades in it collecting rocks. But with all the recent rain, it's probably really high and strong.

It's not necessarily a weird blimp accident, but it's always something dramatic and fatal.

These things just pop into my head. And I can feel how terrifying it would be stuck in cold swirly grey water. Or all, "Fuck, I knew I should've wiped up the coffee I spilled right before making photocopies!"

Or whatever.

Ridiculous, I know. I do this with everyone I love.

If I don't hear from my parents on a trip, I start fretting about plane crashes, or cars going off the side of a cliff. I pay close attention to the news, which I rarely do otherwise.

And if you go away I'll save every voicemail you leave till you get back. I don't know what purpose this serves, since AT&T automatically deletes them eventually, but somehow it makes me feel better.

Betty and Nick called me back at the same time yesterday evening. She'd been at a doctor's appointment; he'd been slammed at work.

Thank goodness.

I got an email from my friend today: "I assume Nick is still alive or you'd have let me know."

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'll have whatever she's having

You know how you can really like your life, but stepping out of it and just spending time with girlfriends feels like a weekend of all dessert, all the time?

I spent the weekend in New Jersey with two of my closest friends.

This was planned weeks ago, and I'd been waiting and waiting for mid-May. Nick was possibly as excited about my weekend as I was. Although he made me wonder if a big part of it was looking forward to having space and time to himself.

"I can't wait for your road trip! It's going to be great!"

"Are you going to miss me?"

"Of course."


"I mean, who'll be around to harangue me about my poor food choices?"


"I'll ask Marta if she'd mind dropping by to do that while I'm gone."

I'd been sooooo looking forward to this weekend. The three of us used to spend so much time together. And then one of us moved away.

It's still the three of us on email, but it's no longer the three of us drinking wine in the garden and catching up every Wednesday. You've still got the person in your life, but you have the little regular ache of loss.

So as the weekend approached I was almost jumping up and down in anticipation. Friday night I baked a cake to take up. I packed fleece for lounging and a cute dress for a nice Saturday dinner out.

Nick called me several times on the drive up.


"Roooaaaad triip! No sleep till Brooklyn!"

"Excuse me?"

"Have fun!"

These are the things we did: Talked. A lot. Laughed. A lot. Ate. A lot. Shopped. A lot. The particulars won't be interesting for anyone else.

I will say, however, that I made a surprising number of cute purchases in a short span of time. Shopping-enabling girlfriends with good taste? Cannot be valued highly enough.

And I am sure it will sound like a cliché when I also mention that we watched "When Harry Met Sally" - all piled on the same bed with a big, cuddle-happy dog - but we did. And it is still amazing.

Best, best way to spend a weekend.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another lucrative career option down the drain

From: Anonymous
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:19:16 AM
Subject: [Lemon Gloria] New comment on There's Always Foot Prostitution.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "There's Always Foot Prostitution":
you wouldnt make much, your feet are pretty ugly, dont ask me what sepparates a sexy foot from an ugly one, i just no, its the curse that comes with the unexplained obsession


Shortly after I started LG, I had a very disgruntled day at work. I wrote a post complaining about my day, and describing how, for quite a while, I've considered foot prostitution a back-up career.

I wrote it mostly jokingly, although quite honestly, it's the only kind of prostitution I can imagine doing. It's your feet - who really cares?

So anyway, I got the email I pasted above, and whenever I get any kind of criticism, I immediately wonder if the person is right. This briefly made me feel bad about myself. I don't have beautiful feet, but are they really ugly? Would I be a terrible foot prostitute?

And then I got annoyed. It was like when my friends said I'd be a bad lesbian and I had to argue that I'd be a good one, even if I don't actually want to be. You hate to have options narrowed. I got a little defensive.

On a side bar: At this point, I really couldn't be a foot prostitute, ugly feet or no. Nick would be so not OK with it. I know this for a fact; we've discussed it.

Knowing me, you can imagine our conversations.

Lisa: "What if I quit my job and become a foot prostitute? Would that be OK with you?"

Nick: Rolls eyes. "No."

Lisa: "What if I made a lot of money?"

Nick: "No."

Lisa: "What if the guy was blindfolded?"

So anyway. . .

Finally I paused and realized the following. There are many people whose opinions matter to me, and from whom criticism could really make me feel bad.

But the random guy trolling the Internet looking for foot prostitutes on a Tuesday morning?

Not so much.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In which I drink too much and give questionable advice to younger men

Parental warning: Dad, you're probably not going to want to read this post. Betty, I know you will anyway.

Tuesday night we headed over to Rustico for a fantastic food and beer pairing event.

Bell's Two Hearted Ale has become our new favorite, and so when they told us they were having this pairing dinner, we made reservations. Larry Bell, the founder of Bell's, was there to talk about his beer. Which is very delicious, if you've not had it.

Tables were pushed together, and we were at a table for six. Nick and I were the first people seated, and were soon joined at the other end by two twenty-something guys, and later by a married couple who sat in the middle.

We introduced ourselves, and noted that the guys each had a pint of beer. Nick mentioned that we'd debated drinking before the event and decided against it as we're both old and need to be judicious.

One of the guys, who I'll call Charlie, basically said you have to seize the day, and life life to the edge, even if you sometimes go over. Because otherwise, you'll never know how safe you played it.

Which was enough for Nick to excuse himself and return with pints.

This was before Charlie mentioned that he'd been banned from two castles in Scotland, and was only willing to talk about one of the incidents. Charlie and his friend Ted were hilarious, and made the evening incredibly fun.

The food was tasty and nicely presented and the beer was great. I don't have a sophisticated enough palate to ever know if a food and wine, or beer, in this case, are perfectly paired, but it all tasted fabulous.

I'm also fairly suggestible, so if you tell me the beer has undertones of vanilla and rhododendron, which pairs surprisingly well with duck, I'll totally believe you.

"Why yes, I do taste the rhododendron! Fantastic with duck."

So anyway.

Charlie and his friend Ted were both really good looking. They both knew it, but were charming enough to be, well, genuinely charming. And not annoying about it.

If I'd been in my early twenties, I'm sure they would have made me nervous. At this point, I just found them really entertaining.

Our server was blonde and really pretty, and they were both flirting hard whenever she came by. At some point I asked which of them was going to ask her out, and what it came down to was that Ted had a girlfriend, and so Charlie was going to try.

From then on, every time she was within earshot, Nick, the couple and I would start laughing really hard after Charlie spoke, and say something about how funny he was.

"Charlie, you're hilarious!"

Or, just as she arrived at our table, "You know, Charlie, particle physics is really complicated. I can't believe you explained it so well!"

He didn't actually need our help, and maybe we weren't actually so helpful, but the rest of us were really enjoying it.

Let me just say that even if you don't drink before and after, which of course you have to do if you are all seize-y of the day! and living to the edge!, there is no way not to drink too much at this sort of event. Especially if you are being encouraged to keep up. With three large men.

So after dinner we headed to the bar, and Nick charged off, leaving me with the guys. We started talking about the pretty server, and how Nick and I met, and relationships in general.

Nick returned with pints! Pints for all! There was some sports talk, some of the requisite what do you do and where do you live.

Around that point I realized that I wasn't doing such a great job of seeing straight, and really needed to stop drinking and go home. That second. Which was sudden, but still.

I was really enjoying myself, except for the not focusing bit, but it was late and when I hit a wall I hit it hard.

Nick sure, "Sure, sweetie, we'll go right after we finish this beer."

So Nick went to the bathroom, and while he was gone, relationship conversation resumed. Or rather, the guys started asking questions. Ted asked about us, our ages, our story. He said he was really starting to wonder about finding The Person.

I said, "No, no! You're so young and cute! And really funny! You have no reason to worry!"

He'd just turned 30. He was feeling old.

"What about your girlfriend?"

Charlie said, "She's not really a girlfriend. Because he's also dating this other woman."

Ted flinched a little, like Charlie had told a horrible secret that I might be judging him for.

But I was all, "Oh, sleep around! Have fun! You've got tons of time."

"You think?"

"Yes. You'll know when you know. And actually, I think you should fuck as many people as you want before that point."


"Absolutely. I feel like I wasted my twenties all fretty about one serious relationship or another. Why wasn't I just sleeping around and having fun?"

Nick returned in time to hear me say, "Honestly, if I could do my twenties over, I'd have slept with a lot more people."

At which point he decided that I was right and it was time to go.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Showers of the wedding and the ablution variety

Before launching into the soap and water shower topic, which was prompted by a comment FreckledK left on yesterday's post, I feel the need to update you on The Shower issue.

Because as you know, I was feeling like a bitter little lemon.

Nick called older sister and said he had to be very candid, and that the shower was turning into a big issue when it didn't need to be. He said that my friends and I are just not traditional shower people, and while I appreciate their generous offer, the girly shower just doesn't fit my personality.

And she said the younger sister is going through crazy pregnancy hormone shifts, and so the "just suck it up you don't know what you're talking about" can be dismissed. And that really, they just want to do something nice for me, and have time to get to know each other.

So now we are going to figure out what we'd like to do together, and I am looking forward to spending time with them.

Yay for straightforwardness! Straightforwardidity? Straightforwardocity?

As for soap and water showers: I am all about the efficiency and not about the romance.

I love showers, and prefer them to baths, but I really don't like to share. I know some people think showering together is romantic, or like having someone else wash their hair or soap them up.

Not me. I like to wash my own hair and scrub my own bits.

Some of this is temperature. I like my water scalding hot, hotter than any man can ever bear. I don't want to compromise and take a tepid shower, which you have to do if it's too hot for the other person.

I get cold if I'm out of the shower stream, which you invariably are at some point if you're sharing. Nick is a whole foot taller than me, so we can actually share the shower and both be mostly under the stream of water, but it means that I'm squinting and snorfling water up my nose the whole time.

Plus I have an order in which I do things. Shampoo, conditioner, face stuff - I love Never a Dull Moment from Origins, soap up my body, rinse everything off. I like to get in, let the products that need to sit stay on for the appropriate amount of time, rinse off, get out, and get dry.

No malingering, no la la la this is so fun! Let's stay in here till we prune! Not for me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The National Cathedral: four thousand and a few words

We, like much of DC, trekked up to the National Cathedral on Friday night to see the work of Swiss artist Gerry Hofstetter.

I was ready to be all, "Sure, whatever, a slide show on the side of a building."

But it was really amazing. I particularly liked the way the trees got all trippy in the swirly colored light. And that's all I've got to say about that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

She is a fast machine, she keeps her motor clean

We were in the car the other day and Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice came on.

It's the kind of song that sticks with you. And so a bit later, when I was singing under my breath and off-tune, "Laid back with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. . ."

Nick said, "Hey, let's play this at your parents house a lot and see if we can get Betty singing it."

Because he knows the AC/DC story. And he knows my mom, which makes it all the better. But anyone who reads LG knows I tell Betty stories all the time and that I am completely crazy about my mom.

She's one of my closest, closest friends. When nobody else in the room knows what I'm talking about, she will. And similarly, I speak Betty.

If I'm looking for support, she's a natural person to call. For even the most ridiculous thing.

Nick and I have been in a house temperature negotiation. If I could, I'd keep it at 78 all summer. He'd like it at 72, at which point I'm wearing fleece - no exaggeration.

So he suggested trying 74 degrees. Which means we've taken the comforter off the bed. His replacement suggestion was a wool blanket, but I'm allergic. And he was all, "You'll be fine till we get another blanket."

So I called Betty, partly to ask where she got this super soft synthetic blanket she gave me (but alas, fits my bed, not Nick's) and partly to tell on him.

I said, "Mama, Nick is trying to make me sleep with a wool blanket!"


She says this with exactly the horrified tone I am looking for. Like, the tone you might use in response to something like, "Nick tries to chew off my toes while I'm sleeping!"

"Tell him he can't do that!"

I turn to Nick. "Betty is appalled by your behavior."

So there.

For the longest time I took all these extraordinary abilities that she has for granted.

She can make just about anything. She can draw a pattern on paper and then sew the garment. Anyone who has ever tried to sew, much less create a pattern, or even just watched Project Runway, knows that this is completely phenomenal.

When we lived in Bangladesh Betty got really into dyeing and batik, and so of course I got to do batik as well. Looking back, the batik phase coincided with my nipple fascination faze. So everyone, both men and women, everyone I drew - or in this case waxed and dyed for all eternity, because cloth lasts shockingly forever - had nipples. Lots of beach scenes. Lots of nipples.

I'll have to find them and post them. They are ridiculous.

Anyway, I always took for granted that my mom had all these creative ideas and skills. And now I realize how exceptional they are.

If I have a kid, I hope I'm half as cool a mom as Betty.

I love you, mama. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Anagrams, or the shattering of any illusion that I could ever be remotely cool

I think reading Ada, or Ardor by Nabokov was the first time I'd ever thought about anagrams. His writing floors me, particularly when I think about the fact that his writing and word play is so amazing in English, which was not his mother tongue.

And it turns out I love anagrams! I had no idea until the other night, but I do. It makes sense, though, because I love crosswords and logic puzzles.

If you don't know what an anagram is, it's taking a word or words and rearranging the letters to make other actual words. Like, "Lemon Gloria" could be "melon oil rag." The more letters in your names, the more fun.

So there we were, sitting at the bar at Rustico the other night drinking delicious beer. And one of us suggested doing anagrams. Anagrams! Cool!

We love Rustico more than is reasonable. Greg, the beer guy there, always has fantastic suggestions. You can tell him what you like and ask him to choose something new. It's an excellent little beer adventure.

So it was late on Tuesday or Wednesday, and the bar was close to empty. We had space to spread out our napkins and compare.

Because we discovered that the easiest way is to write down the full name and then cross off letters as you go. Which eventually requires writing the names over and over and over.

The best I could do with Nick's name was "I hold down sofa lice." I was rather pleased with myself.

Neither of my names are terribly long, so there's not a lot to work with.

We got to working on Greg's names, and were determined to use "orgy," but didn't quite succeed before it was time to stop with the beer and head home to bed.

Anagrams! Super fun! Try it! Let me know!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Where you draw the line

If I am close to you, I am remarkably share-y. What's mine is yours, pretty much. But I think everyone has their lines.

I haven't shared gum since high school, and now the idea makes me throw up a little in my mouth, but I'm fairly cavalier about germs. I use the 5- or even 10-second rule for things that fall on the floor. I have bought food from street vendors in all kinds of places. The kinds of places where you are likely to wind up with parasites.

On a side bar, my current boss is a serious germaphobe. She talks about it very candidly. She bought a new fridge because she couldn't stand the idea that the previous owners of their house had stuck their heads in the fridge at some point.

When she says things like this, I like to mention that by contrast, I grew up doing things like licking the walls in Bangladesh. Which draws a visceral reaction every time.

So anyway, the lines you draw may be arbitrary, but they're still your lines.

I reached toward the toothbrush holder for my toothbrush the other morning and it wasn't there. Because it was in Nick's mouth.

He'd left his in the shower, and as we were in a hurry, he'd grabbed the one in the holder. Which was mine.

And I did a little squirmy icky dance and got all, "That's mine! MY toothbrush!"

The sharing of a toothbrush is something I'm rather opposed to and, it turns out, something Nick is fairly casual about.

His argument is that we could not be closer, and that toothbrush sharing between us is not actually all that intimate in comparison to so many other things.

My take, however, is that nothing compares to scraping bacteria off your teeth. And my toothbrush is mine, and his is his. And the twain shouldn't really overlap.

I asked my friends in the Quangle (which is next to the Quad). What if their boyfriend or husband used their toothbrush? They were horr-i-fied.

One said she'd throw the toothbrush out. Another said she'd probably use it again but only after running it under very hot water. The third wasn't sure between the two.

Bob, who overheard the entire exchange, was more interested in the shower aspect of the entire thing. I tried to get him back on the toothbrush sharing, to get a guy's perspective, but that wasn't the part that got him.

He was all, "Why? Why would you do it in the shower?"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Counting up

There are people who contend that finding The One is just a numbers game.

Someone told me a long time ago that you have to keep going out, keep meeting people, and at some point, one of them will be right. I still don't know if this is how to think about it, but figured it couldn't hurt, just in case.

So the other day I started trying to count up the number of first dates I went on in the couple of mega-dating years I had before meeting Nick.

There are a lot of dates I can't remember - because they were completely unmemorable. But I think a not-unreasonable estimate would be somewhere around 50.

This includes brief stints of only dating one person. So the periods where I was dating a lot - I was dating a lot.

I had weeks - early in my date-o-rama period - where I had four dates a week (one with four different lawyers). I had days where I juggled two dates - coffee and then drinks, or drinks and then dinner.

I had weeks where I just had too many dates scheduled, and so by the time I went out with the last guy of the week I was tired and resentful that I had to be out. When it was my choice.

After a while, I got tired. I slowed down the dates per week. But even then, I went on enough to show up for a date with a guy whose name I'd forgotten entirely. If I were to do it over again, I'd have spaced dates out a bit more from the very beginning.

There were people I didn't really give a fair chance to, who I probably should've gone on a second date with. Then again, there were guys who never asked me out again. It wasn't all me.

But for a long while, I didn't stop long enough to really consider people.

But maybe that just doesn't matter, and it would've all gone the same way anyway. For a chunk of that time I can look back and say I was not in the right place. I wanted to keep busy, have fun, prove my desirability. I wasn't in a space to fall for any of them.

But to be fair, there were guys who weren't people I'd have ever fallen for anyway. The arrogant journalist who wanted to know what was wrong with me for being single. The guy who couldn't even talk about the weather.

Then there were times that you could or could not count as a date, depending on how you look at it. The best example would be the time I had drinks with Tej in the bar in our office building and then met that guy. And we went out for dinner and I and smeared butter on his nose. A date?

I hardly think that one counts.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Skinny jeans

Have you ever had an article of clothing that you hung onto long past it actually fitting you? Because it was your yardstick in some way or another?

Your measure of size, or desirability, or something?

So Mark, who I wrote about yesterday, Mark and I went to high school together in India. We'd arrived in Delhi about the same time, and our families were next door neighbors for a year.

As I recall, he started out in 8th grade, but he was so incredibly bright that they moved him up a grade. And he'd already skipped a grade earlier. He's just one of those ridiculously smart people.

But this grade skipping made him young for our grade. And he was quite thin, as many high school boys are. This is germane to the rest of the story. In case you're wondering.

So anyway. At some point - I think it was the beginning of 12th grade - he gave me a pair of his old jeans.

Levi's were a big deal - you could only get them when you went back to the US in the summer. And these were washed soft and worn in to where they were so comfortable. They were perfect.

I kept them for years - way past being able to fit into them.

These Levi's, he'd grown out of them, and he passed them on to me. I'd spent the prior summer subsisting on watermelon, hard candy, and as little else as I could get away with eating (sugar, sugar, and more sugar - but no fat!), and so I was skinny. Healthy? No. But skinny. And determined to get skinnier.

So even with my girl hips and soccer player legs, these jeans fit. I am one of these people who will lose body fat, but still have hips, thighs, and a butt. It's just how I'm built. And the thinner I got, the looser these jeans got, the better I felt about myself.

This was a period of time in which I'd weigh myself twice a day. Which is part of why I don't weigh myself now. I'd work out three hours a day in the Indian sun.

All on an egg or cereal with one banana, a cup of minestrone soup (and I had to work out extra if I was unable to keep myself from eating the bread sticks), and as few vegetables as I could get away with eating for dinner.

No exaggeration.

Tired? I was tired all the time. I didn't really get that you need food for, um, energy.

And food? There were so few foods I was willing to eat. Two potato chips could ruin my day. God only knew what Chicken Biryani could do. And so I starved, and worked out like a maniac.

People think I'll know a lot about Indian food because we lived there for so long. But I don't. Because I didn't really eat.

This really only stopped when I went to college and lost my shit. I cried all the time. I probably ate a pound of chocolate a day. The Carolina student stores had the best chocolate peanuts I've ever had. And I have had a lot.

I was used to being so in control of my weight - if nothing else, my weight - and I just lost it entirely. I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't stop eating.

My freshman year I gained 30 pounds - a good chunk of it by Christmas. And 30 pounds on a 5'3" frame? Is not subtle.

And the thing was, I saw it happening. My clothes got a little tight. My fabulous skinny jeans very quickly stopped fitting. And I'd work at losing weight, and try them on periodically. And they got further and further away from being an option.

It was well into my junior year that I lost the weight. I went to Italy for the semester, got happier, started running all the time (even though Italians looked at me like I was feeble-minded), stopped eating a whole lot.

And the skinny jeans? Started fitting again. They fit through the summer, and somewhere into fall, as I recall. I'd try to squeeze into them that winter, but that was that.

It took me a long time to realize that it was only partly about the size. The truth is, they were such a measure of who I wanted to be. I'd have given anything, really anything, for years and years, to be back in high school where I felt safe, back in Delhi, surrounded by family, familiar places, and friends.

But size was definitely the major factor. I didn't keep my oversized neon green "Frankie Say Relax" sleeveless t-shirt and use that as some measure of my self-worth. (And what would that have said about me, anyway?)

For a number of years my weight would go up and down - fat in the winter, skinny in the summer. But I never got small enough for those jeans again.

Which is not unreasonable. I finally figured out you shouldn't strive to wear something you can only fit in if you eat three pieces of lettuce a day.

Monday, May 05, 2008

And then things come around full circle just like a food pyramid

I wrote a long long post and then realized this is actually a tale of two stories - one of a reconnection, and the other of a pair of jeans. And so today, reconnection.

In the random way of the world, Mark and I reconnected through our blogs. We knew each other from high school in India and had seen each other a few times over the years, but had not really kept in touch.

And the thing Mark doesn't know is that long after we lost touch, he defined my parameters for skinny. Via the casual handing down of a pair of old jeans.

I knew he was a lawyer in Texas, and if asked, he'd probably have been able to say that I lived in DC. But that was the extent of it.

And then one day I got an email from him, sent to all the members of our high school class for whom he had email addresses. He'd been maintaining a list, and there were people he was looking for. At the bottom was a link to his blog, Defending People.

I was interested in getting a glimpse into his life. Having known since 9th grade that he had a keen intellect, I knew his blog would be well written and his arguments would be compelling.

So I poked around it a bit, and then sent him a note, essentially say the following. That it was nice to see who he is as an adult, and that I was glad to be back in touch. And I sent him a link to LG, noting that it is a very different type of blog from his and those on his blogroll.

We've been in sporadic touch ever since. And then a month or so ago, he came to town last minute. I think he spent the bulk of his hours in DC at the jail. Visiting clients. Not in jail.

As we had two obligations on that Tuesday evening, we weren't able to catch up with him till near midnight at Local 16. We had a whirlwind introduction and beer, and that was that. Hi, nice to see you, meet Nick, bye! Until next time!

Then the other night, in response to my post mentioning Nick's and my divergent eating habits, he wrote and asked for Nick's address. He wanted to send him a wedding gift - a pro-butter-on-steak one.

He sent a book entitled Good Calories, Bad Calories. It looks really interesting, and I'm going to read it after Nick does. In a nutshell, the premise is that we should be looking at the kind of calories we ingest rather than the number. And refined carbs, because of their effect on our insulin, are the main cause of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer.

The low-fat high-carb approach that we've been told is healthy for so long, according to him, is wrong.

He's suggesting eating a low refined carb diet - but it's not a diet book. And cutting out refined carbs, which are so low in nutrition, just makes a lot of sense. Which is what appeals to me about it.

Because honestly, my approach to life for so long has been to just never eat very much. I love, I mean love, refined carbs. Really good pasta? With just olive oil and salt? Heaven. Chocolate chip cookies or brownies? Up there with sex. M&Ms? Daily staple. Cheez-It's? Super guilty pleasure.

I could pretty much eat sugar cubes straight. In fact, I have. I love dipping them in espresso and sucking on them.

I know - probably sets your teeth on edge.

I have spent a lot of my life avoiding fat. And eating a lot of bread, bagels, pasta. I have spent years eating so much less than I'd ever like to. Because I couldn't and remain the same size.

I still love the carbs. And I think a carb-free diet is creepy. I've always been suspicious of Atkinsers. Life without carbs makes people angry.

So lately we are trying a different approach - more along the lines of eating some of everything, but trying not to eat a ton of high fat meats or refined carbs. It started with introducing Nick to vegetables. His mother is British, and his experience with vegetables growing up was very, very bad. And then once he left home, he never ate one again.

Until he met me. The queen of bowl of Brussels sprouts and popcorn for dinner.

We are slowly slowly introducing the vegetables. So far we've figured out that he likes raw broccoli and cauliflower and carrots. Not so much on the asparagus and not at all on the mushrooms.

Still, pretty all around positive.

Although I should add that this has thrown off his Time schedule a little.

But the fact is that he would much rather eat cheese, sausage, ribs, BBQ, steak. And butter. With maybe some sour cream on the side. And cheese on top. Which, considering where I'm coming from, makes me really twitchy.

I'm quite sure he'll never cheat on me or develop a coke habit, but I could easily envision coming home to him mainlining whipping cream.

But maybe I've been focusing on the wrong stuff? Maybe I shouldn't freak out quite as much about cheese and sausage? Which would make us both happy.

As Mark said in his note, "Go ahead and butter your steak."

And so, I'd like to thank him. Because not only is it a thoughtful present, but I think this book is going to be the catalyst for some very positive change.

Now, the thing that makes this an odd coincidence is that Mark - who, as I mentioned earlier, has no idea about this - was my measure of dieting success for years. In a personal fucked up body image way, not in a creepy way. I promise.

And that's tomorrow's story.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday overview: what's on my feet, what's on my cupboard, and what's up our noses

It's Friday and I've gotta admit to being a little bored and itching to be outside rather than cooped up trying to act like a responsible adult. So I'm furtively amusing myself.

On my feet: These are my cow shoes.

I've had them forever, and there were a number of years where I didn't wear them, because the whole pony shoe thing was out.

But I couldn't bear to get rid of them, because how often do you find shoes with a red cow print? Pretty much never.

And I really embarrassed a friend of mine when buying them, because I insisted that they were actually made of little bits of cut up pony, and I was opposed to the whole idea.

She argued that it was cow, not pony, and that they just call them pony-hair shoes. And so I made her ask a sales clerk, who replied that yes, they're cow, and no, duh, they don't just cut up ponies.

When I put it that way, I don't know that it's much better, and this is making me realize I'm wearing a piece of cow that deliberately looks like a piece of cow, albeit red and black.

Eee. So anyway.

One thing I will say is this. I prefer shoes that squeeze my toes together, because I have a very large space between my big toe and then next one. Also, it's not that I only have four toes - it's just that I have extremely silly little toes.

I would change my toes if I could.

So. On my cupboard: "Drop it like it's hot!" stickers.

These are the stickers we wound up making at the end of a long, unsuccessful day of trying to get our pictures taken in a photo booth. I have them on my cupboard at work.

I love these Ugly Doll magnets. In fact, I kind of really want an Ugly Doll. Which seems silly for a grown-up, and so instead I bought magnets - very practical.

I also bought an Ugly Doll pencil case, in which I keep my toothpaste and toothbrush at work. It's all plastic and so you can set it down on the sink counter and if it gets water on it it's easily wiped off. So another utterly practical purchase.

And finally, up our noses: Pollen and such.

You probably thought I was going to say a green M&M, or something equally juvenile, which has been the case before. But no.

I took this picture last weekend when we drove out to the water in Maryland. It's up against a dock where they put boats in, so the water doesn't really move. Which allows the pollen and tree bits to gently settle and swirl on the surface.

I love the pattern.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

If you have an opinion for something very LG

Suddenly today I'm all, this is plain! Too plain!

When I set up LG I just wanted a place to write. I chose a very basic template, because I prefer a white background, and I didn't want distractions.

Also, while I am quite proud of some of my designs on fabric (Indian flavored scarves, bags, and more scarves), when it comes to graphics, web page layout, etc, I find it really difficult. I do much better when I can pick something up and feel it and turn it around, and manipulate it physically. If I can't touch it, it's hard for me.

I can look at a site and think it's pretty, or cool, or works well, but I don't know how to come up with one. But I have colleagues who do this kind of thing on the side, who I could pay for help. I just haven't, because it hasn't been a priority.

But now I'm wondering if LG is boring? Maybe I should add color on the sides? Add a masthead at the top?

What's kept me from it, mainly, is that I have no idea what I want. None. What would be very LG? I don't know.

If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. Thoughts on graphics or personality or anything that I could use to shape ideas.