Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chemistry 101

Last night, I came home from the gym, and, after blogging about it, went to go take a shower, during which I finished a container of face scrub.

So, I had to go find a new thing of face scrub -- which I knew I had in the apartment.

Let me back up -- for some unknown reason, I have a ton of cosmetic-type stuff. I buy stuff, I use it a couple of times, and then I find something else I like better. Then it goes into a cabinet until I'm in desparate need of it, in which case I have to dig it out. One place where I store a ton of stuff is in a very thick heavy-duty plastic container (with a locking lid) under my sink. Most of my facial cleansing products are there. (Hair care products, soaps, lotions, and perfumes each have a slightly different location.)

Anyway, so last night, after my shower, I went to find a facial scrub in this plastic container. When I opened it, I found that pretty much the entire thing was covered in a sticky yellowish goo. A mystery container had leaked.

What was worse was that now the goo was on me, and I had just gotten out of the shower. Not to mention that it was on my bath mat and towels.

In other words, the goo had taken over my bathroom.

As for my evening, ultimately it wound up with a second shower and a load of laundry. But before that, I spent an hour or so cleaning my bathroom. And the container. And each and every item that was in the stupid container.

Of course, that's how I figured out what had leaked.

A couple of months ago, I had bought some very fancy and very expensive serum -- compete with a eyedrop-type disbursal apparatus -- that was supposed to make my skin look younger and firmer and more wrinkle-free while treating breakouts of adult acne. It was a total and complete waste of money, since I do not have wrinkles or particularly old looking skin, and I certainly don't have acne. (The occasional stress or hormone-related breakout, maybe -- but not acne.) But the ad was so convincing. . . .

The serum wound up in the plastic storage container -- where it had tipped over and had eaten its way through the rubber part of its cap. (Melted might be a better description, since when I touched it, the rubber was, essentially, liquid -- and next to impossible to get off my skin!) The serum had also eaten through part of another container which contained facial cleanser -- the mystery yellow goo. So now, I'm wondering exactly just what the hell kind of chemical compound I was putting on my face. If it could eat through plastic . . . .

From now on, I'm only buying stuff from the drugstore.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fairweather

Tonight, I went out to dinner with a whole bunch of people, many of whom I consider friends. Some of those are people I see all the time, some are people I haven't seen (or spoken to) for a while -- since before my trial, before my mom died.

Some of those people I considered my fairly good friends. I helped them with their breakups, hung out with them when they were bored. I even sat there and listened to them on the other end of the phone for long periods of time, even though I'm not a phone person.

Tonight, some of those people were sitting at a table with me for a couple of hours and did not say a word to me. Not even "hi."

It made me realize that I was friends with them when it was convenient -- when they needed things. But they're just not there for me when I need them.

I've been through a lot lately, so I've decided that I'm going to be selfish right now -- I'm entitled. So from now on, anyone who can't pull their weight in the friendship department, they're out. I just don't have the time or the patience anymore.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Space

Last week, I saw a house that I really really liked -- except the closets were too small.

On further thought, though, maybe it's not the closets -- maybe it's me. Maybe I need to unclutter. I mean, how much space do I really need?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Looking for something

I got a note today from an old friend who had just heard the news about my mom. It was unexpected and sweet -- and yeah, it made me cry. Then again, just about everything makes me cry. It's one of the few ways that I am like my mother.

A couple of days ago, my brother told me that he talks to her when he's in the car. I'm a little jealous of that -- I don't feel like she's anywhere around to hear me.

I look in the mirror a lot, to see if I can see anything of her in me, but I don't see it. I never saw it. The only thing we ever had in common was our coloring, and even that's not quite right, since her eyes were somewhere between sky blue and grey, and mine are more green. Oh, and her hair was a darker brown than mine -- almost black before it started to go grey. I guess that's what I really have of hers -- the grey hair, but by the time she was my age, she had a lot more than I have now.

In the stupid notebook I wrote in on the plane, I jotted something about how my mother had the most beautiful hands. Her hands were larger than mine, her fingers were long and elegant, and, as long as I can remember, she always had long nails. My nails get long too, but my hands are tiny, and my fingers are small. I wish I had her hands. The grey hair I could do without.


Bad night gets worse

I had a disappointing night. I went to Game 7, only to watch the Caps lose to the Flyers in overtime. And then on metro, on a crowded train on the way home, some lady inadvertently grabbed my boob when reaching for the pole. I can only imagine what the look on my face was like.

Then I got a call from my brother. He told me that my dad went on a date tonight. With a woman he met on J-Date.

I am trying to be okay with it. I understand that my dad is bored and lonely in a big empty house with no one to talk to. But dating? It just seems too soon to me. Everything is still so raw.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Literary thought of the week

So I was reading this article/photo essay about Edith Wharton's house -- and you know how much I like Edith Wharton -- when I was struck by this quote:

In an early short story, "The Fullness of Life," she wrote:

I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting room, where members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handle of whose doors perhaps are never turned, no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.




Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On reading

Here's an interesting fact: In 2007, Washington DC was America's fifth most literate city.



While that may sound good to you, it smacks of failure to me, because in 2006, we were tied for third. To compensate, I'm going to have to start reading again. Of course, it'll have to be when I'm not working, running, or watching bad reality tv. And since, somehow, I have not managed to finish A SINGLE BOOK this year, I need to get to work.


Rock of Love postscript

You know, it's been a long time since I had those posters of Bret Michaels (amongst others) on my bedroom walls. But this week, he impressed me. First he goes and picks a seemingly normal (and age appropriate!) non-stripper girl on Rock of Love, and then he admits that his hair is at least partially fake.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Drama

No matter how hard I try to avoid it, sometimes drama has a way of finding me. Yesterday's conversation went something like this:

Him: Hey, how are you?

Me: I'm hanging in there.

Him: I called last week. I left a message.

Me: Yeah, I know. I meant to call back, but I've been busy. With work. And, uh, baseball.

[Brief discussion about my work.]

Him: How's the new stadium?

Me: Pretty awesome, but the team is stinking up the joint.

Him: How are you really doing?

Me: Things are pretty fucked up. But there's nothing I can do about it.

Him: How's your dad?

Me: Weird. But you know, he's always been weird. He asked me how I would feel about him dating, so I asked him how he felt about me dating. He said he preferred not to think about it, and I think that's reasonable all around.

Him: I guess that's how I'll feel about my daughter.

Me: Speaking of, how is the kid?

Him: She's good. My parents were just up here visiting.

Me: That's nice, send them my regards.

Him: They told me to say hi. They had a good time with the baby. Too bad her parents are all screwed up. [The girlfriend] goes out of her way to make my life difficult. . .

Me: That's too bad.

Him: . . . So I moved back in with her.

Me: Good, I guess. I mean, if that's what you think you need to do for your daughter.

Him: Yeah. But it's not working. We don't get along. And now [girlfriend] wants her mom to move in, which is going to make it worse.

Me: Oh. Well, on an unrelated note, I might be up near you sometime this summer.

Him: You should give me a call.

Me: Maybe. Depends on timing . . . .

Him: I might be single by then.

Me: Does that even matter? I'd like to meet [girlfriend] and see the baby.

Him: I don't know about that. [Girlfriend] is very jealous.

Me: Of me?

Him: [Silence.]

Me: She doesn't know you're talking to me, does she?

Him: Listen, I have to go. I'll talk to you soon.





Sunday, April 13, 2008

Relationship economics

I am thirty-two years old. By my account, I have almost gotten married three times, twice to the same person. Somehow, I never managed to do it -- but the thing is, I've mostly felt that it was all for the best.

I might have been wrong. According to this Atlantic Monthly article, I should have just settled:

At their core, they pose one of the most complicated, painful, and pervasive dilemmas many single women are forced to grapple with nowadays: Is it better to be alone, or to settle?

My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year.

***

What I didn’t realize when I decided, in my 30s, to break up with boyfriends I might otherwise have ended up marrying, is that while settling seems like an enormous act of resignation when you’re looking at it from the vantage point of a single person, once you take the plunge and do it, you’ll probably be relatively content. It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.


Slate views the whole problem as one of economics -- game theory to be precise:

You can think of this traditional concept of the search for marriage partners as a kind of an auction. In this auction, some women will be more confident of their prospects, others less so. In game-theory terms, you would call the first group "strong bidders" and the second "weak bidders." Your first thought might be that the "strong bidders"—women who (whether because of looks, social ability, or any other reason) are conventionally deemed more of a catch—would consistently win this kind of auction.

But this is not true. In fact, game theory predicts, and empirical studies of auctions bear out, that auctions will often be won by "weak" bidders, who know that they can be outbid and so bid more aggressively, while the "strong" bidders will hold out for a really great deal. . . . But you can also see how this works intuitively if you just consider that with a lot at stake in getting it right in one shot, it's the women who are confident that they are holding a strong hand who are likely to hold out and wait for the perfect prospect.


While I wonder how this applies to Rock of Love, I am fairly confident that this is manifested in my own life by the fact that, last week, I told someone that I just want to find a man that can change the oil in my car.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Diagnosing the Nationals

So, about that big fancy new ballpark . . . .

The seats and crowd: Based on opening night, tonight's game and conversations with others, my seats are pretty gosh darn awesome. And, though you wouldn't know it from TV, my section -- the front of the upper deck, just behind home plate -- was pretty full. Actually, a lot of sections looked pretty full -- but the announced attendance was only 24,549, way less than the capacity of 41,000. I thought that number was surprisingly low, considering that tonight was the first night with a spring-like game-time temperature and no rain in the forecast. Then again, it was the Marlins on a school night -- and the team keeps losing. But more on that later.

The places that looked empty are the ones (1) out in the outfield; (2) higher up and down the lines in the upper deck; and (3) the fancy seats behind home plate. The third category looks worse than it is. I understand that the seats behind home plate are really good and should be priced accordingly -- but the lack of butts in those seats makes the place look even emptier than it is, especially on TV. Mostly, though, the team definitely needs to work on selling more tickets in the first two categories.

The concessions: I had a big fancy "Curly W" pretzel, and it was really good. (The knish from the Kosher stand could have been warmer, though.) All things being equal, the prices don't seem outrageous to me -- and not all that different from last year or the two years before that. Then again, I'm not buying food for a family of four.

Metro: The trip to the ballpark is fine -- no problems. There's a heck of a crowd trying to get on the train at the end of the ballgame, though. So, even though it takes a bit longer, it makes sense to walk to Capital South. But that'll probably get real old real quick when it's 100 degrees and humid outside.

The team: That's the real problem -- DC only likes winners. Look at the support currently being doled out to the Capitals and Wizards. Back in November, when the Caps were losing, the Verizon Center was half-empty. But once they started winning, the arena started getting full. And now fans can't even get playoff tickets.

On paper, the Nats seem like they should be better than last year -- like it was during the first three games. But neither the offense or the defense seem to be getting the job done, and now they've lost seven in a row. The team just strands too many runners on base, which has been the difference in just about all losses -- and that hurts the fans way more than the lower-than-expected attendance, crowds on Metro, and expensive food put together.

But what to do about it? Zimm and Kearns don't seem to be hitting -- especially with runners on base -- Dmitri's hurt, and I'm still not convinced about Paul LoDuca's ability to manage the pitching staff -- or, as evidenced tonight, hit in clutch situations. Felipe Lopez looks competent in left, but he's not hitting much either -- and the team has lost every game in which he's started. And let's not even talk about Mackowiak, Boone, and Harris.

On the plus side, Belliard and Johnson seem pretty solid, Milledge has impressed me so far, and Guzman's hitting has been pretty amazing -- but he needs get his OBP up and keep the errors down. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Shawn Hill, the Chief, Wily Mo, and even Elijah Dukes are going to be back any minute now.

The conclusion: The team is not as bad as they are currently playing -- nor as good as they looked during the first three games. And the brand-new beautiful ballpark is really good -- not great -- but it'll get better as the area develops. Mostly, though, D.C. baseball fans need to get their butts in the seats. If they can't do that, there's a serious problem.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hockey

(If Lauren Conrad can blog about hockey, so can I.)

Growing up, I never payed much attention to hockey. Don't get me wrong: I was vaguely aware that my dad was a Rangers fan, and that, in New Jersey, we had the Devils. But it didn't catch my interest. And then we moved to Florida, which, other than football (college and otherwise) was pretty much a sports vacuum. But then, during the year I left for college, we magically acquired both hockey and baseball.

I remember going to my first hockey game during college. Back then, Tallahassee had a minor league team, the Tiger Sharks. I thought it was fun to watch, but never got obsessed about it the same way I did with college football or baseball.

Then I moved to DC and went to my first Capitals game. Without baseball in town, the Caps were the only local team I could bring myself to root for -- albeit as a casual fan, going to a game or two each season. But since the strike -- and especially with the Nats in town -- I just never found a reason to go.

Until November. Right after Thanksgiving, a couple of friends and I went to go see the Caps lose in an overtime shoot-out to Florida. And I remembered how much I liked watching hockey -- even if "my" team wasn't playing particularly well. But for the fact that I spent most of this miserable winter in Newark (or preparing for the trip), I think I would have gone to a whole bunch of games. (I know that we were seriously considering going for the mullet wigs.)

While in Newark, every day we'd walk by the Devils' brand-new arena -- and every day, I'd tell my coworkers that we should take a break and go check out a game. Alas, we were always too busy, and never quite managed to make it.

But then I came home. And last week, I went to an amazing game. Not only was it a ton of fun to watch, but the crowd was so excited and into it. So now I'm wishing I could get my hands on some playoff tickets.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Punk Rock Babies

So, the other day, on Metro, I saw a baby in little mini Chuck Taylors (navy blue hi-tops). Of course, this was right after I read the Washington Post article on the history of Converse. Then and there, I decided that if I ever have a kid, she's going to have black ones, because she's going to be a total punk rock baby.

So, when I was talking to my dad about my running shoes, the conversation somehow went to the awesome baby Converse, and then I noted that if I have a kid, not only will I get her these shoes, maybe she'll even have a mohawk.

My dad said, "You had a mohawk."

Now everything makes sense.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Phone calls

This afternoon, my Nana called to check up on me. It was a bizarre conversation, almost as if she was cross-examining me. At one point, she said, "Is there anything else I'm supposed to ask you?"

I said "Nana, what are you talking about?"

She said, "Well, when you would talk to your mother, what would she ask you?"

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I opted for laughter then, but as I'm typing this I have tears in my eyes. After all, there's something precious and funny -- and at the same time, horribly sad -- about my Nana feeling that she somehow needs to be my mother's conversation replacement. But no one -- not even my determined little grandmother -- could ever be that; it's pointless to even try.

So, I told my Nana about the phone conversations. How I talked to my mother almost every day, about nothing and everything. About how sometimes it was to ask a question, and sometimes it was just to tell her about something I did or something I bought -- but how the conversation never went according to a script.

But I didn't tell Nana about the real point of almost all of the conversations: To make my mother laugh. On the airplane down to Florida exactly two months ago, one of the things I jotted in my notebook was that "She always found my strangeness funny. And I always obliged because I didn't care if she was laughing with me or at me. As long as she was laughing."

At the funeral, I stood up and said some things, most of which I don't really remember. I do, however, know that I said that my mother had the best laugh. And it's that, not the rambling conversations, that I miss the most.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Environmental Impact

Over the past few years, I've gotten more and more environmentally conscious. During the summer, I keep my air conditioning lower (temperature higher) than most people -- and during the winter, I barely use my heat, and instead wear layers/use extra blankets. I drive as infrequently as I can, opting instead for public transportation. I recycle aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles. In the summer, I buy most of my produce -- and a lot of cheese -- from farmer's markets. I unplug my cell phone charger when I'm not using it. I turn off the water while brushing my teeth. As my light bulbs burn out, I replace them with compact flourescents. I only buy paper products made with recycled paper. I've even switched to biodegradable laundry detergent -- although, admittedly, part of that is because it's hypoallergenic.

And, after revisiting a Washington Post article about paper versus plastic shopping bags, this week, I bought my first reuseable bag. (I'll probably have to get a second one, though, for larger shopping trips.)

Still, I am not even close to leading a carbon-neutral existence. According to this quiz, while I'm pretty good for an American, I'm still pretty bad for the environment:



I guess, to be better, I'd have to live in a smaller apartment -- without electricity! -- stop flying on airplanes, give up meat, buy only local produce, and get a car with higher fuel efficiency.

Sorry environment. It's just not going to happen. I've done what I can do.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Missing Persons

I have a friend, someone that I've known for over 10 years now, who sort-of disappeared. I'd call, send the occasional email -- and wouldn't get anything back. I sort of wrote it off as her having a very busy job and going through some personal stuff -- both of which are true -- but I pretty much got radio silence for the last year.

And, no, it's not distance-related -- she lives in the area. The funny thing is that I actually talk to her less now that she lives nearby.

So, even though I had not gotten anything more than a cursory e-mail from her last May, I tried to call her when my mom died. I got her voicemail. And it wasn't the sort of thing that I wanted to say in a message, so I just asked her to call me back, that it was important. She never did.

Anyway, two weeks or so ago, I got a card from her. I initially thought that one of our mutual friends had told her about my mom and it was a sympathy card, but it was just a note card, apologizing for being out of touch, promising to be better, and asking me to give her a call.

Here's the dilemma: I really want to give her a call, but I am (1) slightly annoyed that she punted to me; and (2) not entirely convinced that she means it. So what do I do now?


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Baseball and the law

Today I stumbled across 123 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1474, a law review article on "The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule."

The Infield Fly Rule is obviously not a core principle of baseball. Unlike the diamond itself or the concepts of “out” and “safe,” the Infield Fly Rule is not necessary to the game. Without the Infield Fly Rule, baseball does not degenerate into bladderball the way the collective bargaining process degenerates into economic warfare when good faith is absent. It is a technical rule, a legislative response to actions that were previously permissible, though contrary to the spirit of the sport.

123 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1474, 1476-77 (1975)(citations omitted).



What a great piece of legal writing. I can only hope that the author is a judge somewhere now.