Friday, September 30, 2005
1. What do you think of me, iPod?
"Someday" - The Strokes
"And now my fears, they come to me in threes/ So I, sometimes/afraid my friend, you say the strangest things/I find, sometimes/Oh, My ex says i'm lacking in depth/Say I will try my best/You say you wanna stay by my side/Darling your head's not right/I see alone we stand together we fall apart/Yeah I think I'll be alright"
Given all the various pronouns involved in the above lines, it's not always clear who is referring to whom. Is EJ talking to the iPod? Is the iPod assesing EJ? Who's the One True God?
So basically, iPod thinks I'm a navel-gazer who must stand together with others and whose ex may or may not think I'm lacking in depth. Knowing one ex and his penchant for judging people entirely based on the contents of their iPods, the following list should prove him right (by his own warped criteria).
2. Will I have a happy life?
"The Nearness of You" - Norah Jones
Apparently pretty low-key, quiet and full of loooove. Good deal.
3. What do my friends really think of me?
"Lucky" - Bif Naked
Overwrought, intense and dramatic? Goes incredibly well with a glass of Pinot Noir and some intense brooding? Given to declarative statements in moments of high emotion?
Nooo, not me at all...
4. What does my S.O. think of me?
"As Long As You're Mine" - Wicked
Wherever he is, he is gaga, smitten, and totally left a hot blonde chick to be with me. Oh, and he used to be in a early 90s boy band.
5. Do people secretly lust after me?
"Me Against the Music" - Britney Spears feat. Madonna
Yes, but only middle-aged women from Detroit in a pseudo-lesbian manner.
6. How can I make myself happy?
"Love is in the Air" - Soundtrack to Strictly Ballroom
Well shit. Now you had to go and tell the truth. Fine, fine, fine, it would be really great to fall completely, stupidly, hopelessly in love. ARE YOU HAPPY, IPOD? YOU MADE ME EMOTE.
7. What should I do with my life?
"Lightness" - Death Cab For Cutie
See? Even iPod thinks I should guest on The OC! I would have made such a better Lindsay than that girl from the spring break shark movie.
8. Why must life be so full of pain?
"Bolero" - Maurice Ravel
The music begins softly, whilst building to a neverending crescendo of the same notes repeated over and over at the same tempo. So really, we should be asking why life is full of pain, but why does it keep on recycling itself?
9. How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?
"The Difference" - Matchbox 20
"The difference between what you mean and what you want to be..." so basically, the best sex is when I shun cheap and meaningless flings in favor of Meaningful Deep Relationships full of slowdancing on the boulevards and nightswimming.
Oh iPod. You're so silly. I have much to teach you, youngling.
10. Can you give me some advice?
"Spinning" - Stuck on Amber
This song was written by a guy I dated in the summer of 2002. He wanted so much to quit his day job and be a singer-songwriter, and this was the song from his previous band that was most likely to make that happen. I have yet to see him in Rolling Stone and he just plain stopped calling after about two months, so I am going to assume that iPod is advising me to never again date a man who A) refers to himself as a singer-songwriter, B) names his guitar after a Greek goddess, C) names his guitar, period or D) shaves his legs. You'd think that last one would have been a warning sign, but some girls just have to learn the hard way. Good song, though.
11. What do you think happiness is?
"Helicopter" - Bloc Party
"Stop being so American/There's a time and a place." Well, sometimes these days...
12. Do you have any advice to give over the next few hours/days?
"Sexy Sadie" - The Beatles
I should feed the cat before bed or she'll try to eat my feet again.
13. Will I die happy?
"That Was A Crazy Game of Poker" -O.A.R
This is creepy. I seriously want this song played at my funeral, along with "Eddie Walker" by Ben Folds. It's throwing your hands up in the air, messy, taxing, and caution-to-the-wind, balls-to-the-wall fantastic. Reflecting back and deciding you wouldn't change a minute.
Not a bad way to end things, no?
And thank God there's no question 14 because that song was "Anne Arbour" by The Get Up Kids. Let's not even open that can of worms.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
It is almost as great as this. Yep, they can make me come into work but they can't stop me reading about Pastafarianism through my Dayquil-clouded eyes.
Monday, September 26, 2005
We naturally stop talking and start petting, totally ignoring the actual owners until Helen looked at the husband and said "Wait, I should know you," as if she was saying "Wait, I should pick up the dry-cleaning." He kind of smiled and replied "Maybe..." The rest of us were so busy cooing over the dogs that Helen finally poked Sarah in the shoulder and exclaimed "You should know him!"
The couple eventually tore their dogs away and headed down the street. "But," Helen said by way of goodbye, "I know I should know you."
The man smiled a familiar crinkly smile. "Maybe," he replied, "because I'm the governor?"
Yep. It was Mark Warner. Our group issued a collective "Ooooohhhhh" as they walked towards King Street. And this is why I'd never make it on the Hill or K Street-- I'm having too much fun petting his dogs to recognize him, much less lobby for anything more than "Yousuchacutepuppy! Yesyouare! Yesyouare!"
I also accidentally wandered into the pro-war "protest" yesterday, but left as soon as it became clear that G. Gordon Liddy's shiny head was sadly out of kickball range. It was pretty funny, though-- there couldn't have been more than five hundred people, tops. Visiting middle schoolers waiting for their buses outside Air and Space had more energy than the "protestors."
Friday, September 23, 2005
Since they've already published eleven Letters to the Editor, I strongly doubt we'll get printed (although big thanks to my partner in Hipster-Bashing Crime for submitting on our behalf). Nonetheless, read this article and ask yourself if there might, just maybe, be voices missing from the "many" women cited (ahem, 138 surveyed at Yale-- now, that's just shoddy statistics work). Here's what EJ and Pam had to say:
Today's educated, economically-privileged young women are fortunate to have the choice of seeking full-time employment, full-time motherhood or some combination of the two without overt judgment or barriers from supervisors, neighbors or family. In that spirit, the women cited in "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood" should not be criticized for their early plans to place their future children over their future careers. I feel, however, that the article and the debate are incomplete. I would like to speak for the children of working mothers, particularly their daughters.
Growing up, my sister and I were constantly aware that while we were our parents' first priority, we were far from the only priority. Our family was fortunate to have financial resources for great child care (often my mother's students), but the restricted hours that we had with our parents made family time more valuable. My sister and I were trusted to take care of ourselves after school and had to be independent and resourceful in finding ways to keep ourselves busy. In short, we were not a child-centric household-we were, and are, instead focused on family and community.
As the daughters of a businessman and a university administrator, we were exposed to a vast array of individuals and lifestyles we never would have encountered had we lived solely in a child-centric world. Interacting with their colleagues made us more articulate, more informed and exposed us to many hard-working, kind-hearted role models. For a child or teenager, there is nothing quite like the encouragement of being listened to, taken seriously by an adult whom she respects. That validation and support from my mother's students and colleagues is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
We learned that work can be both challenging and rewarding. Our parents' experiences have given us realistic expectations for how hard we will need to work if we are to achieve our professional goals. I have no illusions about realities for working parents, and while I hope for a more flexible and equitable environment if and when I become a mother, I am realistic about that likelihood. I fear many of the women who expect to have children and reenter the workplace after five or more years of full-time parenting are in for a rude awakening.
Most importantly, my sister and I had a living example of the difficulty in balancing family and career. We witnessed our mother work hard at both, sometimes to the point of neglecting her own needs. We saw her bravely overcome professional challenges and, through hard work and phenomenal people skills, rise to the top of her field. We learned what it was to be proud of our parents' achievements, and that made their pride in ours even sweeter. Our best personal and professional role model drove us to play practice after hosting New Freshman Orientation for two thousand students.
Feminism is about freedom to make choices and pursue them with equality of the sexes. Still, I hear women my age discuss their future as stay-at-home-moms and I wonder if that decision is truly in the best interest of the child. Is it really best for a child to grow up thinking she is the center of her parents' universe? Or, might it be in everyone's best interest for that child to become a member of a stimulating, supportive community of individuals?
It deeply worries me to hear high-achieving young women say that they can't be the best worker and the best mother. What is "the best" in either of these categories, and who determines it? Combining work and motherhood is difficult, but my sister and I are living proof that the product is often better off for the effort.
As EJ's mom, I am gratified and grateful to know how she has benefited from my choice to have a career, successful marriage, and two wonderful children. As an educator and a mom, I urge young women to work for all they aspire to. With hard work and much joy, they can be successful as both parents and professionals. Full-time parenthood and community activities can be the right choice for some educated women - but there are risks with that choice that are not always considered. Death, disability, or divorce can devastate a one-income family, dependence upon a husbands's income can cause imbalance and stress in a marriage, and stopping out for a number of years can harm one's professional growth. I've known hundreds of college students- the characteristics of academic accomplishment, work ethic and character, social skills, self-reliance, and community-mindedness are found in young adults from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those with moms who have demanding careers.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
I took the day off from work today to recover from injuries inflicted at the M.I.A concert last night. I could deal if it was just the mutually bruised knees and giant hole gouged in my right foot, but the giant lump on my head that woke me up in the middle of the night from throbbing-- not so much.
So Laura and I do sushi at Cafe Asia, then get to the 9:30 Club right when the doors open so that we can get fantastic spots. We wind up smack against the barrier on house left, perfect location. The opening group was... weird. It started off as these two really lame white boys DJs who basically played an iTunes playlist including Donna Summer. Whaaaat? Thank god it got a lot better when they brought on the rapper, African drummer and dancers.
So the opening act finishes and M.I.A. comes on, and she's incredible. BUT, as soon as she starts singing, these two hipsters come barging through the crowd and slam directly into us.
"OMIGOD!" the guy bellowed. "WHY ARE THEY NOT FUCKING DANCING? GRIND UP ON 'EM!" They proceed to shove their pelvises directly into my and Laura's asses, specks of glitter and gin-scented sweat showering us. "KEEP ON GRINDING! THEY'LL MOVE!" the girl screeched.
Here's the thing. I think hipsters are completely stupid, but I will do my damndest to not be rude to them. If you want to fill your veins with heroin and dress like an insane clown caught in a nuclear explosion, be my guest. However, because this pair had chosen to show up late, storm the stage and take our hard-earned spots, I was free to hate them as much as I wanted. I was also free to do something about it.
While Girl Hipster pressed her breasts, now completely unencumbered by her slashed Neighborhoodies "New York Fucking City" dress, up against Laura, I shoved my elbow directly into the blue-sequin clad gut of Boy Hipster. "Hey bitch!" I yelled, "I went to GW! You think I'm not used to queens all up in my grill? TRY HARDER!"
He stared at me blankly, chewing on a wad of gum the size of Utah. "AND GET YOUR UGLY ASS GUM SMACKING MOUTH OUT OF MY FACE, YOU HIPSTER TRASH."
It was great. He just stared for another ten seconds, flipped me off and moaned "Whatever, you... middle-aged... girl!" Amatuer. Posers like that always are.
Boy Hipster started grinding even harder, eventually shoving the poor girl standing next to me to the floor and grabbed onto the barrier railing that I was already holding. Pumping his arms in the air, he slammed his elbow directly on top of my head, then threw them back to smack the base of my neck. The little bitch didn't know who he was dealing with, though, and I. Would. Not. Move. Even if I had wanted to just enjoy the show and let him win before, no WAY would that happen how. This was about more than music. This was about Right and Wrong, Good and Evil.
Look, you are going to get bruised and battered at a concert, especially that close up. But people who show up at the last second and then rush the stage, believing that their ironic T-shirts give them an automatic bearth to the best seats in the house just need to be shot. They're not about the music, or the crowd or the energy of the concert. They're all about their own insecurities, acting superior to all the other fans because they know deep down that they're losers. Wanna know why I showed up to a concert in khakis and a Kenneth Cole handbag? Because I was working. At my JOB. ALL DAY. This "work" concept left me unable to spend all day shooting up and applying seventeen layers of glittery eyeliner, or getting idiotic tattoos of dogbones and cupcakes all over my shins.
If these people were really fans, they would have shown up early. If they really cared about the music, then they'd be chill and not be total douchebags to everyone around them. They'd be like the cool, be-tattoed guys who stood next to us for three hours waiting for the show to start, smoking and staying out of everyone's way, then going crazy when she came onstage.
So I stayed put. Boy Hipster eventually gave up when the African dancers from the opening act came into the audience and wanted to get up front. Dancing with them up at the front, as Boy Hipster seethed through his glitter behind us, was true validation. Right WILL triumph in the end!
Despite the insane hipsters, it was still an awesome show. Go see her if you get the chance. And if you get the chance to elbow a jackass like that in the gut, I highly recommend it. It's incredibly satisfying.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
oh, do bear in mind, this is taking place in a church. and that it will be for the next three months. eventually, in front of a paying audience
and, that it is in fact COMPLETELY REAL AND NOT A NIGHTMARE.
i know i was looking for hobbies and all, but THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND. do you think the director would mind if i hid a flask under the pillow?
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
1. The show is in full-on blocking mode. This is the process wherein we determine where we will stand, sit, interact with one another/props/the set while speaking our lines. It is so called because everyone acts like blockheads. This is actually far too harsh on my fellow actors; I should clarify that it is I who often acts like a blockhead. This is because A) my character is a ditz, and life is imitating art, and B) I haven't done this in over five years and need to take a moment to remember the meaning of once-obvious directions such as "cheat downstage right." Bear in mind, dear reader, that I spent my entire childhood and adolescence doing exactly this process and cannot remember any of it, thus further illustrating the dictum that high school is a complete and total waste of time. Well, either that, or I drank a lot more than was good for my brain in college.
2. I actually cockblocked myself this weekend. I was on a date with this really nice, funny, cute guy, but just wasn't feeling The Spark. As we were leaving the restaurant, I asked if I could be frank, he said "of course," and I told him that while I had a lot of fun and wanted to see him again, I hoped it would be just as friends. He agreed that this was probably for the best, we exchanged the world's most uncomfortable hug on the sidewalk and went our separate ways.
Now, let's examine the myriad of ways in which I am an idiot for saying this. One, even if it's true and we both felt it (which I'm sure was the case), the odds that this guy and I are actually going to become platonic friends after this are non-existent, now that I had to go and tell the truth! You NEVER tell the truth on a the first date. The truth is carefully metered out in a process beginning on the fifth date and/or the first time you sleep together, and even then it's only things like "Actually, I really don't like Mexican food," or "I did once go to a Yanni concert of my own free will." Blurting out the harsh truth at the tender stage of Date #1 is such an amateur's mistake.
"But EJ," you say, "you didn't want to keep dating him! What's the problem?" The problem is, maybe I WOULD want to keep dating him after he grew on my a bit. I mean, we didn't even have any alcohol with our meal-- after a cocktail, I could totally see jumping on him. He really is so great on paper. How many handsome straight men are there in Washington who have already purchased tickets to Wicked for December?? And even if I didn't want to keep dating him, this doesn't mean he wouldn't be good for more base purposes.
So yes, I cockblocked myself. Well played, EJ. Well played.
3. I stepped in a dead bird in Adams Morgan at 3:30 on Sunday morning. Not on, in. There may not be a link to blocking in that (blocking my podiatric hygiene?), but I feel you should know it.
4. Work has been full of roadblocks lately. Every time I'm summoned into my boss' office he begins "I know you have so much on your plate, but..." Well yes, I do have a lot on my plate and I'm glad you realize this, so why, why Sweet Moses why, would you continue the speaking after that? Wherefore add on articles to write when there are four researchers on staff?
5. I have a daylight mental block. I work in academic communications all day and have to be on my A-game, with names and dates and publications at my fingertips. Then, when I walk out of the office, I either go to rehearsal and play at being a slutty stewardess, go to a bar and play at being a 23-year-old borderline alcoholic or go home, watch trashy MTV reality shows and play at being fifteen. I discovered last night, during my first-ever graduate class, that this divvying of the day into Brain On/Off will no longer work. Even though I'd done the reading and thought I was pretty well prepared, the professor decided to quiz me on topics entirely unrelated to the material as the PhD students smugly looked down their overlong noses. When I, redfaced and downcast, confused Sinclair Lewis with Upton Sinclair, there was actual guffawing. Jackass grad students.
God, I hope I get to be one of them soon.
6. All of the above leads to writer's block. This is all to explain the sad lack of updates and the entirely boring nature of the few there have been.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I'm having a very good time imagining the look on my professor's face when I present this theory in class on Monday.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Organizers of the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.
The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.
The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.
Because if preselected, highly screened groups can't march for freedom in a fenced-off pit while being carefully monitored by legions of armed authorities... the terrorists have won.
But thanks to the delicious modern marvel that is Netflix, I spent this unexpectedly free night curled up with a bottle of wine and the BBC Pride and Prejudice. And... mlaaaah. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is so yummy that at one point I actually gasped. By myself. Out loud. Loudly enough to startle Sadie from her slumber and make her jump to the easy chair across the living room, where she's been suspiciously eyeing me ever since. He doesn't even need to speak. In fact, it's almost too much when there's a British accent on top of that Haughty Hottiness. Bloody hell, how has this been on film for the last ten years? How many times have I watched Road Trip and Father of the Bride II, yet have not seen this until tonight?
Thank god I'm drinking Pinot Noir and not Chardonnay, because otherwise I would officially BE Bridget Jones.
Monday, September 12, 2005
The heat has broken, I start class tonight and the midseason party for kickball was a big bleary beery blast, which all can only mean one thing-- fall is here! My favorite time of the year. Fall is apple orchards and trench coats, football games and crisp breezes, lazy long shadows on the Mall and squooshy sweaters with too-long sleeves. Even though the trees start to die, it feels like everything else is renewed. Keep your spring and summer. I like my days bracing and waning, with just a touch of melancholy. I like the Emerson skies, with heavy gray clouds pressing down a sense of gentle foreboding. I call them Emerson skies because I used to stare out the windows of Emerson Elementary School at them, daydreaming about escaping from the confines of Tim's science class or Penny's copper-enameling lessons and running wild under those wise, heavy midwestern skies.
Fall reminds me of the beginning to Peter Pan: "All this has happened before, and it will all happen again." As light starts to fade earlier and the sunshine becomes muted, daytime takes on a new sweetness. Fall is the best season for finding oneself in a patch of light, looking around and sighing in contentment; that for one moment all feels right with the world.
The lazy days are over for now, and I couldn't be happier for it.
Friday, September 09, 2005
If you will permit me such an indelicate reply, horseshit. Brown has deservedly taken heat from the media for his ineptitude in coordinating relief efforts and initial unwillingness to acknowledge hard truths about Katrina, but this is clearly an effort on the part of the administration to pass the buck.
Yes, Brown bears a significant responsibility for the delayed efforts to bring supplies to Louisiana. Shame on him for having the nerve to appear on television claiming to be doing everything in his power as the bloated bodies of innocent American victims rotted on the streets. If Harry Connick Jr. could tour the Superdome on with a camera crew, there is no reason in the world why FEMA could not have brought in trucks of food, water and medicine. That's saying nothing of buses to get them out of that hellhole.
That said, though, who was responsible for Brown's appointment in the first place? Who ignored the many holes in his resume (click on this link for the most blatant padding ever seen) to install him in 2003? Yes, that's after September 11, where America deeply felt what it was to experience a national crisis and learned what was required from our leaders. When a massive national crisis was a matter of fact, not a threat, Bush installed as our FEMA director a man whose sole professional experience in crisis management was working as an administrative assistant to a city manager in 1977. That's like expecting someone to pilot a jet when his sole aviation experience is making paper planes in elementary school.
Who slashed the federal funding to reinforce the leeves? Who sent over two-thirds of the Louisiana National Guard to Iraq? Whose mother, when commenting on the state of the impoverished refugees in Houston's Astrodome chuckled that they were "underprivileged anyway, so this is working out for them?"
Whose comforting words of sympathy to three homeless little boys in the Astrodome were "Isn't this fun?" Who invested billions of dollars, thousand of American soldiers and untold numbers of civilians to build a democracy in Iraq and then stated that we shouldn't bother to rebuild New Orleans? Who spent much of the spring creating personalized novelty legislation for Terri Schiavo and then conveniently forgot about the "culture of life" when it was the faces of destitute black babies and grandmothers filling our television screens?
If there is any tiny upside to this mess-- and believe me, I am really grasping at straws here-- it's that apparently Karl Rove is not the Evil Political Mastermind we all once thought. My God, if he had made Bush, Bill Frist and the Twins pass out Dasani bottles at the Superdome last Wednesday, he would have cemented forty more years of Republican rule. That one photo op would have undermined years of civil rights, welfare and crime legislation Democrats have heaped on reluctant Republicans.
Maybe when Lake Pontchartrain flooded New Orleans, it also swept a little reality into this country. People are finally not afraid to say "too little, too late." They are starting to snub the glib responses about "a strong America" and demand hard answers as to where, exactly, strong Americans can get diapers, insulin shots and gas for under four dollars a gallon. As Bush's approval ratings continue to drop, my faith in the American press and the American people continues to grow. It is a shame that it took a crisis of this magnitude to reveal how hypocritical and inept Bush and the Reublicans in Congress are capable of being. I only hope that the "reassignment" of Michael Brown doesn't satiate this new national appetite for compassion and accountability.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
I really don't know whether to be proud or ashamed of that. Perhaps this is the start of my career as the liberal David Brooks?
And to my dear sister, who has this week also experienced crap treatment via a maturity-constipated guy named Matt: they are clearly not ready for our jelly. Though equally clearly, the universe is trying to tell us something with this coincidence. What, I wonder?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Well, maybe I wouldn't be so cranky if you hadn't spent the hour of 5 BLOODY AM shuffling your litter and kitty waste so loudly it sounded like there was a backhoe in my bathroom. Really Sadie, why must you incessantly paw at your litter so much? For one, it's gross-- that is your POOP in there, and cats are supposed to be a clean and relatively low-maintenance species. YOU ARE PAWING YOUR NOSE AT YOUR GENETIC HERITAGE, SADIE. For another thing, it's totally futile. I learned the hard way that even though you are a small cat, you require a litter box roughly the size of Rhode Island with a snap-on rim that is almost taller than you. Ain't no litter escaping on my watch, girl. So please stop trying to free it, especially when it's still dark outside.
I said go away! I know my alarm has been going off every seven minutes for the last hour, but that is no reason to try and bite off my toes, currently the only part of my body not swaddled in my fluffy down comforter. You don't even freak out when I vacuum, so why does my alarm cause such an insane, violent reaction? I know it's annoying, but, if you didn't get the memo, YOU'RE A CAT. This is not supposed to bother you like it bothers my old human roommates, one of the benefits of living alone (besides using five pots at a time to create a new risotto recipe and the ability to sing really loudly while doing so without the fear that someone will be peeping around the kitchen wall and laughing at you, ahem).
What's this? Your fur is all wet! You are covered with little speckly drops! That had better be water, because this duvet cover is Pottery Barn and I have no way to do laundry for at least another two days. Oh Lord, Sadie, were you just in the shower?? You're a cat! You hate water! You shun it in all its forms, save safely sipping it from your purple plastic bowl! Are you seriously employing metaphor to urge me from my lazy sleep? Are you trying to tell me "Woman! If I can get in the shower, you can get in the shower. Now get up, because you've slept in too late and if you get fired you won't be able to buy me cat food, bitch!"
Fine. I'm up, I said I'm up! But you are NOT getting a goodbye cuddle this morning.
Monday, September 05, 2005
I miss hoisting a bag with all my worldy possessions on my back and lumbering off into the sunrise. I miss Augustiner and cheap Italian house reds in carafes. I miss navigating my way through slushy puddles on cobblestone streets. I miss sleeping on the floor of airports. I miss my hiking boots, big thick socks, bell bottoms, bandana and white parka. I miss absinthe. I miss meeting people in Copenhagen and finding them again in Amsterdam. I miss saying "entschuldigung" every ten minutes and I really miss the one time in Salzburg when I sucessfully ordered pretzels in German and the shopkeeper actually responded in German and we carried on a two minute conversation about the weather in German.
I miss meeting strangers on trains. I miss the soldier from Abu Ghraib I spent that night with in Switzerland, the Estonian woodcutter, the German housewife, the woman who tutored the Spanish royal family in French. I miss the Notre Dame kids.
I miss the champagne risotto in Milan. I miss the Illy latte and chocolate crossiant I would buy every morning at the Hauptbanhof in Munich. I miss the feeling of seeing my mother in the hotel lobby in Paris after a month of traveling alone. I miss her face after seeing Notre Dame.
I miss the icy mountain lakes of Austria and I miss Steve the insane tour guide who showed them to me. I missed how he had the thickest Midwestern accent I'd ever heard outside of Drop Dead Gorgeous except for stubbornly pronouncing it "OY-ro" instead of"EU-ro."
I miss sitting at a bar with a book and not feeling weird about nursing a beer with only a paperback for company. I miss the freedom to look at a train schedule and and think "Denmark? Never been there, might as well go!" I miss the father and daughter I dined with at Poseiden in the Viktualenmarkt, whose business card I keep on my refrigerator door as a reminder of the friendliness of strangers. I miss how they told me I didn't look American, though I'm quite sure they were gently BS-ing me.
I miss Hot Australian Nate from Munich and the cheap champagne we pounded until 6AM. I miss staring at Guernica in wonder for ten minutes. I miss watching the wedding party in St Stephen's Green. I miss the jar of pumpkin pesto I carried in my bag for two weeks and finally consumed on an overnight train. I miss deciding where to sleep for the night based on the price of doing laundry there and whether or not they included sheets. I miss the shy Korean girl I borrowed tampons from in Vienna and bought her her first beer as a thank you. I miss the cafe in Venice where I would watch the sunset each night. I miss the beachfront bar in Barcelona where I removed my hands from the warm pocket of my Universitat de Amsterdam sweatshirt only to sip at my Baileys as I watched the cruise ships sail off into the Mediterranian. I miss the gasping, bone-chilling stark air of Prague, its crispness broken only by the tendrils of smoke coming from the lips of my stoner roommates.
I miss watching people go about their daily lives in other countries. I miss the oddly profound novelty of seeing a woman buy groceries or a man strap his son into a stroller and thinking "She's European. He is European, too. They don't know anything about PACs and 527s and they don't care to."
I miss all of it. I miss it more than I've ever missed a person or a place before.
People play the If I Had A Million Dollars Game endlessly. For me, it's not a game. I would wander the ends of the earth, reveling in ways of life I will never understand or participate in, collecting stories and memories and documenting them as best I can in my own stumbling way. It was the best thing I've ever done, and I would give anything in the world to go back and do it again.
Friday, September 02, 2005
This isn't about party lines. It is about a government that is too busy pointing fingers and congratulating itself for talk without action to take care of its people. It is horribly emblematic of an administration and a culture that rewards sweeping gestures and disdains the tedious details and unpleasant sacrifices necessary to build and maintain communities. Thank goodness someone in the media was brave enough to call them out on it:
LANDRIEU: Let me just say a few things. Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi, and Alabama to our help and rescue.We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts.Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard -- maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating.
COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap -- you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?
(Courtesy of TVNEWSWER)