Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wow. Just wow.

I fancy myself to be something of a writer -- a hobbyist, for sure, but still a writer.

I wish I had enough talent -- and cajones -- to have written this poem.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

During the closing

I was nervous before heading into the closing on my condo. But my coworker said something that helped put it all into perspective. He compared the house buying process to the student loan process -- also a lot of money that I never actually saw, and which I've paid back over time since graduation. That was kind of like a mortgage on my education.

Realizing the similarity to something I'd already done helped. But the thing that helped the most was a bit more sentimental.

Many years ago, my mother bought these small teardrop-shaped blue topaz earrings, and from time to time, before I double-pierced my ears, she would loan them to me to wear with formal wear. Sometime, either when I was in college or law school, one of the earrings went missing. By that time, my mother rarely wore them, so she automatically thought that I had misplaced one of the earrings. I hadn't. But I kept the remaining earring, thinking that one day, either she or I would find the mate.

We never did.

So, before the closing, I took the earring down to the neighborhood jeweler, and turned it into a pendant. I thought that wearing something of hers would make me feel like she was there with me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Celebratory Champagne

I've been planning on drinking my bottle of 1985 Perrier-Jou√ęt Fleur de Champagne for a long time. And what better reason to do it than to to toast to my new status as a homeowner? But then I had to drive through traffic to get home from the closing, and I walked into the apartment, and almost immediately had to evacuate because of a fire alarm.


When I finally got back upstairs, I changed out of my suit, read my email, and laid down to watch the news/take a nap.

About 90 minutes later, when the phone rang, I woke up. I was going to celebrate after all.

On first taste, the champagne was a little yeasty and strong. The color was very dark, more like honey than straw. It probably should have been aged somewhere other than my refrigerator for the last six years. But after the bottle was opened and started to air out, it got better. The second glass went down smoothly -- especially with a black-and-white cookie.

The rest of the bottle was equally good. Of course, it probably would have been better had I eaten something more substantial first. Because when I went to go eat later, my stomach did not want to cooperate.

I could have done without the being sick, the lying down in the middle of my living room before 10 pm -- I refused to get up and evacuate during the second fire alarm of the evening, even after my partner in drinking put flip-flops on my feet -- and the massive headache when I woke up at 5 am. But drinking a very expensive and rare bottle of champagne? Awesome.

And it's not over yet: There will be more drinking at tonight's shindig, in which we will be saying goodbye to the old apartment. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Circumstantial evidence

Dear Bob Novak,

I know most people want to give you the benefit of the doubt about running over that 86 year-old homeless pedestrian yesterday. I mean, the cops only gave you a ticket for failing to yield, even though you had driven off from the scene of the accident. Still, isn't it peculiar that you wound up doing the very thing you talked about years ago? As a journalist, wouldn't you find that suspicious?

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bad hair day

Last night, after I got home from the gym, I took a shower and washed my hair. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, my phone was ringing, and it was my aunt -- calling to try to make plans for something-or-other for a week from now, when my dad's in town. I talked to her for a long time -- couldn't get her off the phone -- and then I made dinner. By the time I finished eating, it was well after 10 pm -- and I never got a chance to dry -- or even brush -- my hair. I decided to let it be, and went straight to sleep.

This morning I woke up with the world's biggest Jew-fro. I mean, even during my 12 years in New Jersey, my hair had never managed to get that big before today. Not even my typical librarian-chic hair clip could contain it.

I'm hoping there's a little room in my budget for a real haircut soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My mother and moving

Last night, my mother was in my dream again. I don't really remember what the dream was about, but part of it was that she was helping me move. Which, had things turned out differently, she might have been doing next month.

Actually, that's not true -- I never would have let my mother help me move. I would have let her help me pick out the condo, but I would never in a million years have let her pack or unpack my stuff. She'd complain the entire time about how much work it was and how much useless stuff I have. Which is why the last time I let her help me move was when I moved into my first dorm room.

And like she would have been one to talk. She has boxes in the house -- which she and my dad moved into six years ago, a few weeks after I moved into this apartment -- that haven't been unpacked since they left New Jersey in 1988. I may have 100 pairs of shoes, but she has at least that many. I learned from a pro.

Eventually I'm going to have to go down to Florida and help my dad go through those boxes. And I am looking forward to that even less than moving the contents of my closet to the new place.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Needing motivation

I tried to go to sleep early last night -- I was exhausted -- but still managed to lie awake tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, and then the alarm went off way too early. And then I got into work -- where my big project for the week is to clean out and organize old case files from one of the file rooms that they're planning on turning into more office space. Of course, I felt singularly unmotivated all day -- and got next to nothing done.

If I really think about it, it's probably the perfect project for me right now, considering that my head's all consumed with the condo-purchasing slated for the end of the week. Still, I'm not rushing to go dig through all of those boxes. So what I need is some kind of motivation -- something to coax myself into getting through all of the crappy work by the end of the day on Thursday. But I'm out of ideas. I mean, usually my motivation would include some kind of shopping, but I am on a budget. (And I mean it this time!) Clearly I need help. So if anyone can give me pointers on how they convince themselves to get through boring, monotonous, and menial work projects, I'd appreciate it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

21st Century Communication

When I left for college -- back in the stone ages -- email was just beginning to be a common tool of communication, and there was no Facebook, no MySpace, not even Friendster. There were some people with whom I kept in touch with by letters and the occasional phone call, and maybe would occasionally see if we were all in the same place at the same time -- but over the years, even with the best of intentions, I've lost touch with most people.

So, as I've noted, I signed up for Facebook this spring, and now I have an obsessive love-hate relationship with it. I love how all of a sudden, through this electronic medium, I am able to keep up with the goings-on of so many of my friends from high school and college. I love being able to see the pictures of my friends' kids, and to hear about their engagements and the like. It really makes the world seem a whole lot smaller.

But there's a cost: I hate how I spend so much of my day paying attention to the goings-on of people who, until now, I only thought about when I got an email or looked through an old photo album. The past really is a great distraction from the present.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A fond farewell

I've lived in my apartment for roughly five years longer than I was planning on staying when I first moved in. It was supposed to be a stop-gap -- and now, six years later, I am finally leaving.

I remember going to look at the apartment with my mom, and how blown away we were at the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room. Of course, it was mid-May, so we had no clue about how cold it would be to sit near those same windows in the winter, or how stifling the apartment would get from the western exposure during the summer.

We also loved the giant walk-in closet in between the bedroom to the bathroom. At the time, my mother had no idea how bad my shopping habit was becoming -- and that it would eventually end in a closet calamity.

I moved into the apartment on July 27, 2002. I was pretty much completely moved-in within a week -- once the desk and bookcases got delivered -- because I got tired of tripping over boxes -- and let's be honest, apart from clothing, shoes, books, and CDs, I really don't have all that much stuff. And then I bought a little bit of furniture -- a coffee table, a kitchen table, and eventually, a new frame for the futon that serves as my sofa -- which were the first pieces of "grown-up" furniture that I owned. Somehow it all managed to fit in the neat little 750 square feet, although more often than not, I wished for more room -- a guest room, more closet space, a pantry.

In just over one week, I will be closing on the new condo -- which will have all of the things that I wanted, and then some -- HELLO, second bathroom, linen closet, and sunroom! And, in some weird synchronicity, it will be almost six years to the day since I moved into the apartment.

I will miss this apartment.

  • I will miss the fun times that I've spent here. (I will not miss the Midori stains in the carpet.)

  • I will miss my very short commute and easy access to the airport. (I will not miss walking through the mall every day, especially during the Christmas and Cherry Blossom seasons.)

  • I will miss having the Harris Teeter and Noodles & Company downstairs, and the DSW next door. (I will not miss how I could not possibly fit ONE MORE ITEM of clothing in the closet.)

  • I will miss the baseball players living down the hallway. (Too bad they play for the Nationals, but that's a whole other post. . . .)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fashion fate

I left for Chicago right after my offer on the condo was accepted. As a result, I swore to everyone that would listen that I was going to be on a strict budget. There was budget for the hotel, and for food, and for activities -- but no budget for shopping.

Of course, my brother has a close friend who has a boutique in Wicker Park (or is it Bucktown?), and he thought I should go to her store. So off we went. What happened next is a blur. I tried on skirts and jeans and shirts and tops. Some things looked good -- others not so much -- but almost nothing ever fits me right because I am so short. But my brother's friend was not deterred, and kept bringing me new cute things to try. If this was what shopping with a personal shopper is like, then I totally understand why people do it.

Then she brought me a dress -- a simple sundress, spaghetti straps and a slightly empire waist leading into an A-line skirt, made out of a light blue cotton fabric with white polka dots, red roses, and green leaves. The dress was nothing I would have picked out for myself, seeing as I have a closet full of skirts and dresses that I hardly ever wear, telling myself that I am just not a dress person.

I put on the dress, zipped up the back, and stepped out into the store, where my brother sat on the couch, next to the mirror. He looked at me and his face changed. "That is your dress," he said. I knew it too -- and not just because my brother almost never says anything complimentary about the way I look. I knew it the second I pulled up the zipper. It was like the dress had been magically waiting there for me to find.

Of course, the dress was very expensive. There went the budget, before it had really been in effect. But the dress and I were meant to be. It was fate. Kismet.

This morning, after I heard the weather report, I decided to wear the dress to work with a white crocheted sweater -- mostly to cover up my tattoo, but also to protect my arms from the air conditioning. And all day, everyone kept commenting on the dress -- and I kept telling the same story: The dress found me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Retail economics

On Saturday, I went to the Shakespeare Theatre to see The Imaginary Invalid. We managed to score a parking spot right next door -- right in front of the Penn Quarter Olsson's books -- which, apparently, is now closed.

Now, I'm not going to write a great lament about the demise of the small independent book and music stores -- been there, done that. Besides, that Olsson's location did nothing for me. The cafe was not very large or good, and there was not a lot of room to sit there and read. The books (and CDs) were overpriced, the selection was not great, and a lot of the time, it was just impossible to find what I came in to look for. And in terms of authors/readings/events, other local stores seem to do a way better job.

So, I guess what I am going to say is that it's a matter of economics -- the small stores generally can't compete with the large chains in terms of pricing, so to stay alive, they need to do something else -- or do it better. Like how some smaller coffee shops are doing well, despite the bad economy causing Starbucks to close 600 stores. Maybe the bookstores and record stores should take note.

Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

On July 15, everyone needs to tune into Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. It's Joss Whedon, so I would pretty much assume that it would be awesome -- but it's also getting some pretty rave reviews.

Here's the trailer:

Friday, July 11, 2008

New insight as to where I stand with my dad

Last night, I was on the phone with my dad, and somewhere after 20 minutes, the conversation went off the rails in a really unusually disturbing way.

I'm paraphrasing a bit, but here's the essence of the conversation. We were talking about family and communication and then took a detour into talking about custody fights. As I am apt to do, I forgot for a moment, that, for all intents and purposes, my father had almost no relationship with his father after his parents divorced when he was a kid. So I took the position that it's the dad's obligation to fight to be involved in the kid's life.

Then Dad says "I don't know why people get into such messy, horrible custody battles. If it were me, I would just cut my losses and walk away."

Being one of the kids in question, I was a little shocked by this. "Dad, you mean to tell me that, if after you had me, you and mom divorced, and she withheld custody from you, you wouldn't have fought to see me?"

"Your mother would never have been so unreasonable. That's one of the reasons I married her."

"That's not my point. You wouldn't have felt it necessary to have a relationship with your own kid?"

"Not if the mom was using the kid as a weapon -- It's not worth the fight. And I turned out fine without much of a father."

"Yeah, but don't you think that anyone crazy enough to try to exclude the father from their kid's life as punishment might not be the most stable parent."

"Maybe, I guess. But it's messy. Not worth it."

"So you wouldn't have fought for me? Man, you suck. Glad to know where I stand."

"That's not fair."

Public Service

Not only is it Free Slurpee Day -- 7/11, get it? -- but it's also Cow Appreciation Day.

This is how Chick-fil-A celebrates:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Screaming people are more annoying than stupid people

Last night, on Metro on the way home from the ballpark, I caught a "special" blue line train to Virginia from L'Enfant Plaza on the upstairs yellow line platform. To me, this seemed perfectly normal.

Other people were confused. They thought the train was going to go all the way around on the normal circuitous blue line route -- clearly not understanding that, from the upstairs platform, the only thing the train could do is cross the bridge straight to the Pentagon. Or they didn't understand that, at least from Pentagon to King Street, the blue line and the yellow line run on the same route.

Of course, I don't really care what other people do. If they're dumb enough or confused enough, it's their problem, and as far as I'm concerned, they can wait to get on the next yellow line train.

I must be in the minority. Some crazy ass lady on the train with me stuck her head out the door of the train and started yelling at people, trying to explain to them how the train was going to work. And while most of the people tried to ignore the crazy screaming, some of the previously confused people actually allowed themselves to be browbeaten into getting onto a train even though they weren't entirely sure where it would wind up.

Of course, the small percentage of train converts was not enough for the crazy lady. She moved on to the next door and started screaming louder and more insistently. And as they held the train for about four minutes, she went back and forth from the one door to the other screaming at people.

I felt embarrassed for the man that was with her. I felt embarrassed for the people that she treated as stupid children. I felt embarrassed for the crazy lady who looked, well, crazy.

But in addition to being embarrassed, I was annoyed. I hate screaming people. But it's more than that: I hate people that don't quietly mind their own business.

But mostly, I didn't see the point -- and I still don't. Why run around like a crazy person, screaming at people who have nothing to do with you? If they're confused, it's their obligation to try to figure it out. And if they're too dumb, well, that can't really be fixed anyway.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lacking motivation

I got back from Chicago last night and pretty much went straight to my softball game. (I scored a run AND had an RBI, thank you very much.) When I got home, instead of working on my mortgage paperwork or unpacking and doing laundry, I goofed around on Facebook.

Today, instead of working on my mortgage paperwork or unpacking and doing laundry, I went to the baseball game with an old friend from law school.

I am feeling exquisitely unmotivated -- and as a result, unproductive. I need someone or something to get me motivated -- to provide that kick in the butt.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cakes, cookies, bacon, and tattoos: 24 hours with my brother

Right now, my brother's neighbors are outside lighting off fireworks and talking really loudly in Spanish. The fireworks -- not the Spanish -- is driving most of the neighborhood dogs crazy, but my brother's roommate's dog is as cool as a cucumber.

So far, it's been a pretty busy 24 hours. Last night, after my flight landed, we went straight from the train station to grab food and then out to a bar where a bunch of my brother's friends seem to hang out. He knew about half the people in the bar, one of whom was painting glow-in-the-dark fake tattoos on people.

Here's mine:

I sort-of wanted to keep it, but eventually, my brother managed to convince me to shower.

This morning, we went for brunch at this awesome bakery that had the coolest cakes ever in the display window out front.

Then we went shopping, and on the way, saw this sign, which I thought was funny, and which my brother thought was perfectly normal:

I think I'm dedicating the picture to Jordan Baker, who seems to be obsessed with bacon.

Oh, and the shopping -- we went to Chinatown so my brother could pick up some kind of herbal medicine -- which loosely translates to the "Four Horsemen" and is meant to cure his spleen. No kidding. I got a bunch of fortune cookies -- normal and chocolate -- and fresh baked almond cookies -- all for under $3.00. And a picture of Confucius.

You know what would go perfectly with fresh-baked almond cookies? Green tea gelato. I'm gonna work on that as soon as I get an ice cream maker.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The other side of the coin

When it rains, it pours. There are other volumes in my ex-files, and one just texted me to see if I was going to be in his city anytime soon.

I don't know what self-destructive demon momentarily possessed my brain, but for some unknown reason, I responded -- all too honestly -- that I was going to be in the vicinity this weekend, but that I was going to be busy.

He just texted me back: "Give me a call if you have time."