Friday, June 30, 2006

vacation, all i ever wanted

See you kids next week. Maybe I'll even bring you a bottle of Chateau Chantal, if you're nice.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll bring you some cherries; I'm keeping the wine for my bad self.

Michigan is pretty, isn't she?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

and now for something completely different

In a lovely departure from moping/jumping at every creak, here's a fun DCist post on my favorite local band The Roosevelt:

Their bass player is a hottie, but I'm pretty sure he likes the bois.

it's not me, it's you

Washington and I are totally in a fight right now and I don't know how it started.

I know why I'M mad. The events of the last ten days have certainly been cause enough to be mad. Even with the most amazingly supportive boss, friends and family, I've felt bruised and totally helpless.

You know that adorable swill I spouted about the Pinot Grigio and the French rap? Suffice it to say that what really happened that night was that I totally lost my shit on the corner of 14th and C Southeast. What possessed me to walk to that party by myself at 11:00 PM I can't quite pinpoint, but I think I had a justification resembling "they can't make me afraid of my own neighborhood. I won't let them." That, of course, is bollocks.

That night, I became the girl I swore I never would be. I became the girl who cringes when a strange man walks by her at night. He actually leered at me "heeeeeey, white girl, what you doin' all the way out here," as if I'd been pushed out of a plane and parachuted into enemy territory. He sauntered past and just ahead of me, walking too slowly and close to my path for my shredded comfort level.

Having never hyperventilated (to my knowledge), I can't identify the feeling-- but this was the closest I ever hope to come. I grabbed my cell phone from my purse, flipped it open and started jabbering to no one, hoping he'd think I was on the phone with someone very fierce and strong and very close by.

"Hi honey, I'm almost there... no I said I'm almost there... just a couple of blocks over... no, I'm almost there."

Did I mention I flunked Improv at theater camp?

He was still sloooowwwwly sauntering and I was dangerously close to a full-on freakout. The idea of stopping in the middle of the steamy, hostile block was awful, but not as awful as being at his heels, waiting for him to turn around. I stopped on the corner and called everyone I could think of, but people seemed to have other Saturday night plans besides comforting a terrified EJ.

Finally I did the unthinkable. I called my mother. I called her and asked her to talk to me, to tell me a story, until I could walk to this house and get behind walls and doors. And she somehow didn't yell at me for being so stupid, which any other time would have made me feel worse except I was too busy being scared of every raindrop. And so, from central Michigan, she walked me to that house.

I hate being that girl. I've been in this city for six years and have NEVER been that girl. I've never been scared of my own or anyone else's shadow. I like to think I haven't been too cavalier, though God knows I've made poor judgement calls and walked alone more than I should. But I have never been that white girl who is scared of her own "transitioning neighborhood." I did everything right! Look at all the valentines I've written to this neighborhood and this city. He didn't so anything bad or threatening besides leer, and I'm used to leering by now. Leering usually doesn't bother me.

But leering on a steamy street in Southeast, alone and in the middle of the night...

So yes, Washington and I are in a fight right now. And the apocalyptic rain is NOT helping. I've already showed emotion in public this weekend; could we please refrain from keeping the sky from sobbing along?

I think we need to take some time away from one another.

No, we're not splitting up. But we are definitely on a break.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Thank you all so much for your kind words and offers of hugs. It's been a rough week.

What happened is not my story to tell, and so I won't be telling it here. What I can tell you is that things are being done about it, and that even though it was awful and scary, I am going to try to not talk about it here because it is not a story that is meant for public consumption.

Last night I sat with good friends and let them distract me from the events of the last week, and it was exactly what I needed. Today I went to the market and bought basil, lemons, a baguette, a Pinot Grigio and this amazing cheese that was marinated in olive oil. I'm going to go consume it all outside while Sadie curls up at my feet and French rap music wafts through the window onto my front yard.

Because, cliche though it's become, we here in Washington don't let them make us scared of our own streets. That is, after all, when the bad guys win.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


What do you do when something awful happens?

You feel as though you have suddenly sprouted extra arms from your torso, that they are flailing in every direction while your legs remain planted and immobile. Your new hands grasp at empty air, all reaching for different invisible items that remain tantalizingly, torturingly out of reach.

You ache. You physically ache for those who are in much worse pain than you. You feel guilty for induldging your own emotion at a time like this. You feel guilty because you weren't always so good to those who now need you.

You get scared. You get deeply, core-strokingly terrified that worst fears can and do come true. You become afraid of your own front door because of what is just beyond it. Scared because you have no ability to protect the people you care about from what wants to hurt them.

You get angry. Angry that something has so deeply violated the boundaries of right and wrong. Who thinks that they have the right to destroy like this? How can something this brutal be allowed to exist? Who the hell let this happen?

You marvel at your own capacity to hate, and understand with new clarity how inextricably hate and fear are mixed.

You walk with hunched shoulders and a stony face washed in that hate and fear. Not too long ago you trip-hopped down these streets. Now they seem filled with threats, and your feet race to get you home, behind bars and locks and into a bed where there is an open Swiss Army knife under your pillow but no sleep to be found.

You look for answers, for any speck of silver lining. There is no great loss without some small gain, right? Ma Ingalls said so, and she was a tough prairie wife who knew from struggle that life, dear friends, is full of pain.

You look and you look and you stretch at all boundaries of reason looking for a lesson, a reason, an explanation, anything substantive and hopeful that can be extracted from a pit filled with the filth of the world.

And it's only when someone else you love, someone who you reach out to for comfort, finally says "there is nothing good in this" that you finally allow yourself to understand that there is no lesson. Only hurt.

Monday, June 19, 2006

pity and envy

Someone taps my shoulder, and I start. More specifically, I choke on the sip of iced tea I'd just taken. The tip of the straw scratches the roof of my mouth.

I turn to see a strange man's grinning face, somewhere between a smile and a leer. He stares at me for a second too long, holding my gaze.

"I'm sorry?" I half-ask, half-apologize. Women do this. Apologize when there's nothing to apologize for. Once I apologized to a closet door when I bumped into it.

He's not unattractive, this man. In fact, he's pretty good-looking. Perhaps a bit north of my current age ceiling (31), but he has an intriguing grin and fierce eye contact. I'm a sucker for men who aren't afraid to meet my eyes.

"Will you join me?" he asks.

"Join you?"

"Join me."

It's a cafe at 4 PM on a Sunday. I wonder to myself, "join me for what?"

"Join me for a drink." The man actually answers the question I haven't voiced. Still kneeling on the floor behind the sofa, at my shoulder, he gestures to the bar behind us. "I saw you reading and you looked fascinated. Would you tell me what you are so interested by?"

I gesture to my book and say "I'm sorry, but I have to finish this for class tomorrow. Thank you anyways."

A total lie. If I were in fact reading The Black Atlantic, as I should be, then it would be true. Instead I'm reading The Man of My Dreams, the newest book by Curtis Sittenfeld, and have been having a three-hour-long panic attack because it is essentially the novelized account of my entire romantic history. He smiles ruefully and pats me on the shoulder. "Next time." Five minutes later he's bought some other girl a very fruity looking drink in a martini glass.

If I had a fairy godmother, this is the point at which she would flit into Tryst and smack me around a little. "EJ," she would say, "is not this this reason you tried on, like, five different shirts before you came here? Do you not want exactly this to happen-- a cute, slightly dangerous stranger showing interest in you?" She'd gesture to my top, which admittedly is both new and makes my boobs look really excellent and my hair, which I actually did in preparation for the unknown but possible. She's be spot-on, that nonexistent fairy godmother of mine. Not that I'd ever give her the satisfaction of ever telling her so.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to lie to him.
I'm not sure why I didn't join him for a drink.
I'm not sure why I'm thinking about this so much.

I pass up opportunities like this more than I should admit. If the moment isn't right, if I don't feel a tug of something new, provacative, I just can't muster the energy. I'm too busy treading the fine line between idealistic and all dead inside.

It's Sunday and it's hot and I can't stop listening to my "room chill" playlist, a playlist that includes songs like "Evaporated" by Ben Folds and "Gorecki" by Lamb and "Nobody Knows Me Like My Baby" by Lyle effing Lovett.

And I'm caught between pity and envy for those people who have it all figured out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

and in the end, balls are kicked all around

I wish I could get into the World Cup. It seems like people are enjoying themselves. Not being a soccer fan this month is like staying home to clean your closet knowing everyone else is at a big party.

But the sudden interest is mystifying to me. With a few exceptions, I don't know a lot of soccer fans. Soccer is notoriously not a big sport in America. Every few months, a sports magazine will publish a thinkpiece trying to explain why Americans play it as kids but lose interest by adulthood.

Plus-- and this pains me, because I know how passionately many of you feel about this-- televised soccer matches are boring. There. I said it. It's a lot of running around and very little scoring action. I'm sorry, but I'm an American. I want lots of points and quick plays and spectacular saves and, if at all possible, some injuries. To be fair, I did enjoy watching soccer matches on TV when I was backpacking in Europe, but there were large crowds and lots of enthusastic swearing in unfamiliar languages. Scheisskerl, indeed! In DC, World Cup games tend to bring out lot of 20 and 30-something white guys who are often most giddy about having a reason to leave their cubicles for a 90 minute lunch.

What most mystifies me, however, is that with the World Cup in full swing people are suddenly full of passionate opinions regarding the goaltending abilities of Croatia and can recite the most obscure stats of the team from Trinidad and Tobago. I'm so confused here. Have you had this extensive knowledge of Norweigan sports teams all along, and it's merely been lying dormant so that you could focus on your fantasy baseball teams? Did you spend a few intense days reading, as one might frantically try to cram for the final in a class they skipped all semester? Or is there a secret Man Code that forbids you from saying out loud: "I actually don't care much about this big international sporting event. I find its matches dull and my nation's team will not play well. Let's watch something else."

But it seems like you guys are having fun with it, so that's nice. And I do like the idea of a matchup like the Portugal-Angola game on Sunday. Even though Portugal won, it's nice to know that a former colony had the chance to athletically humiliate the imperial forces that devastated their nation and people. It's a swell idea. And actually, now that I think about it, much easier for a history nerd like me to get behind than, say, a rivalry between Los Angeles and Miami:

"Our clubs are hotter!"

"Our women have bigger tits!"

"Yeah, well, one time our guy was somewhat abraisive to your guy on AND off the court while he was still YOUR guy!"

"You're going down, bitch!"

Plus, soccer has brought us the deliciousness that is Footballers' Wive$, and for that I will always be grateful to the sport. While soccer fans gather at Lucky Bar and Dukem for games this weekend, I will be marking the World Cup by watching Jason impregnate Jackie with what will ultimately become Kyle and Chardonnay's hermaphrodite baby, whilst Salvatore Biagi moves in with Ian and Donna only to steal Donna's heart, which was weakened by both by losing the custody fight for the child she gave up for adoption when she was thirteen and by Ian's threesome with the hookers that wound up on the front page of the Daily Mirror.

Hey, everyone has their own way of celebrating. The important thing is that we ultimately agree to celebrate.

Monday, June 12, 2006

dear liver, i'm sorry, love EJ


I need another weekend to recover from my weekend.

Really, it was the most highbrow of times and the most lowbrow of times. We've covered the highbrow in great detail, but let me note for the record that the lowbrow included Phillies Blunts, the Ellipse and some truly pimping fielding. Basically, I fear that I've used up all my Cool Points for the month of June. The next three weeks will no doubt be filled with showtunes, high-waisted pants and maybe some prunes, if I'm feeling particularly kicky.

What was that about wanting to not be so good all the time?

Mission accomplished.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Like Cinderella, but with more cocktails

In trying to describe last night at the Washington Opera Ball, the story that best sums it up is the one that ends in the Israeli ambassador's wife offering to give me the name of her dentist. That, more than any moment the entire night, was the time I felt like I was watching myself in a movie. Am I really here? Is this really happening?! Who let this happen?!?!

Some other fond memories:

We were a little late to dinner at the Israeli Ambassador's residence because some (soon to be disciplined) girl at the opera gave us directions to the embassy. Once we finally got back on track, after clopping down a rain-sodden Van Ness Street with my gown gathered under our umbrella, it took our cab another ten minutes to go five blocks. We arrived just as the ambassador's wife was beginning the toast, right in front of another couple who also got caught in the rain. She could not have been more gracious and charming, and when I apologized to her again over the salad course, she waved her hand and said "don't worry about it at all! Of course you had trouble finding us-- this house was designed by the Mossad!"

(And by the way, I totally have a girl crush on the ambassador's wife now. She was so lovely and charming that I really want to go get cocktails and manicures with her and catch up on fun yet not-mean-spirited gossip from the diplomatic corps. LOVE her.)

After dinner we arrived for the actual ball at the Italian Ambassador's residence, called Villa Firenze. The theme of the ball was Venice Nights (or similar). In keeping with the theme, the five-pages desert menu was heavy on chocolates that had been sculpted and molded into various aquatic shapes.

That there picture is of a giant chocolate clam, filled with little fish-shaped chocolates. There was a chocolate pirate ship filled with chocolate booty, chocolate lobsters and chocolate sea kelp. Needless to say, Blake and I referred to this room as "The Chocolate Starfish Room" all night.

The ball was gorgeous. Grandly grandly, spectacularly beautiful. They had a massive tent set up behind the residence that overlooked a valley in Rock Creek Park. I would have taken more pictures, but this was not the sort of event at which one weilds a digital camera and still maintains dignity. All the pictures I took before 11:30 were surruptitiously taken behind the backs of skinny, fur-clad society women and the portly men who do the White Man's Overbite with them. After 11:30, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who looked sadly frail-- I resisted the urge to tell her to sack up, ho) and the Scalias (who were CRUNKED) headed home with all the other VIPs, the band switched from Viennese waltzes to James Brown and we took over the dance floor.

Don't Sam (L) and Blake look great? I, on other hand, look like I'm about to eat some babies. Why does my camera always make me look demonic? Sam, when you email me the photos, will you also let me know what kind of camera you have? Whatever it is, I look cute in its pictures!

The dress was a big hit, though. It was the first evening gown I've ever felt comfortable in, and it looked pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Compared to many of the older women, though, I was completely underdressed. I didn't have a feather or a fox pelt anywhere on my body. If you've ever wandered though Neiman Marcus and wondered just who buys hot-pink marabou feather stoles... it's the Italian ambassador's wife. Anyone else would have looked like a Fraggle, but I maintain that she was fierce enough to pull it off.

Speaking of the Italian Ambassador and his wife, while we were waiting for a cab home I wandered into one of the side rooms off the foyer. There, in between framed portraits of this gorgeous couple with various heads of state, was a coffee table loaded down with surprisingly pedestrian reading material:

They watch mediocre romantic comedies and wonder about the real-life relationships of the stars! Ambassadors-- they're just like us!

In addition, I can neither confirm or that I stole a roll of Smarties from the candy jar in this room.

So that was the ball! We drank a lot, danced a lot, enjoyed non-controversial yet pleasant conversation with people who would not normally give us a smile. Saw how the other half lives. They live well, indeed. But today I went to Harris Teeter in a newsboy cap and... wait for it... bought groceries. The glamour never ends!

More photos over in Flickr.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"we need a forklift at the embassy, stat!"

When one has to appear in public squeezed into a formal gown that belongs to someone with a much smaller waist and much bigger boobs than she (hi Kat!), a gown that is so lovely in one pose yet so unforgiving in others that she is considering asking the Israeli ambassador if he would mind it if we all eat dinner standing up, a gown that requires TWO pairs of Spanxx (irrelevant tangent-- what is the plural of Spanxx? Spankxxs? Spankxxx? Spankxxxxxxxxx? Curious)...

because when one has to do this, and when one has to do it in, oh, six hours, of COURSE she has Five Guys for lunch. For the second time in a week. This is the mind of genius here, friends. Flawless logic and reasoning all the way around.

At least I won't be getting too drunk tonight. After all this grease, it'd take a barrel of my cousin Kevin's moonshine to get me even remotely tipsy. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to hook up my melted butter IV drip and top this meal off with some deep-fried Twinkies.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

in which our heroine strives not to cause a diplomatic incident

Sadly I have to miss blogger happy hour on Friday. But I have one hell of an excuse:

I have the gown, I have the necklace and I have the date (hi Blake! Thank you so much for inviting me to this amazing event!). What I do not yet have are shoes, a purse, or the ability to stop worrying that my lack of experience in proper society will set diplomatic tongues wagging and lead Robin Givhan to eviscerate me for sporting an improper hairdo.

See, I know how behave at nice parties. My parents trained me to be charming and good at small talk. People tell me that I come off as friendly and fun to be around.

However, this is a long way from holiday cocktails with my dad's boss and our interior decorator. This is Society with a capital S. The kind that people with four last names, all of them signifying money and power, sit on genteel steering committees for. The kind you read about in Vogue and the New York Times Styles section, which, if you know me at all, you know I read with great care and devotion. I know how to make lovely, mature conversation and put an outfit together, but, to give you perspective, my other big activity this weekend will be playing drunk kickball. I am nervous.

I think I have the basics covered. No fart jokes. Don't get tipsy and spill champagne on the ambassador's wife. Don't get on my soapbox about gay marriage, higher education funding, or, well, anything. If someone asks how Blake and I know one another, try not to reply "We spent two months pretending to have sex in a church."

Any other suggestions from the more sophisticated souls out there? Protocol I'm not aware of? Proper fork usage? Advice from your own brushes with the other half? Seriously; I'm so excited but genuinely a little intimidated. That is NOT a feeling I am used to.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

and on the eighth day, satan's minions pilfered EJ's linen closet

Happy Antichrist Day, everyone! As you know from watching the creepy commercials for the remake of The Omen (those ads make me nervous every time I close my medicine cabinet that something scary and red will be reflected in the mirror, like I'm not jumpy enough about living alone) today is June 6, 2006; or... 6-6-06.

Accoring to Revelations 13:18, "This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six." This has been interpreted in a number of ways, most of them linking the number 666 to all sorts of creepy, apocalyptic, Satanic ideas. Of course, new translations have since indicated that the real number of Satan might in fact be 616, but loud, opinionated religious-types don't do ambiguity on anything, from gay marriage to the Devil's pager number.

I'm what a history professor I had in college might refer to as a socio-cultural Christian-- namely, I put up a Christmas tree and love it when my mom has an extra glass of Chardonnay on Boxing Day and performs Elvis' "Blue Christmas" for all the neighbors-- and so I don't really buy into the idea of a predetermined apocalypse or that the Devil's minions walk among us every day, tempting us to evil.

However, last night something so chilling happened that I have but one explanation for it: the End of Days is nigh!

I walked down the block to the laundromat laden down with four loads, detergent, a bag of quarters and African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade. When I emerged two hours later and walked home, holding my entire summer wardrobe and linen closet in my arms, I noticed a wad of fabric halfway down the street. I bent over it, and, sure enough-- it was several of my socks, sprawled out in a patch of sunlight as if they were trying to tan themselves.

"Awesome," I muttered to myself. "I spend twelve dollars and two hours in a laundromat, and I still have dirty clothes. That's just greaaaaat."

But matters were to get worse, for when I got home and started putting away my laundry, all of my pillowcases had disappeared. Not with the whites, not with the darks, not with the towels, not with my duvet cover. I went back outside. Not on the sidewalk. Down the street. Not in the laundromat. The rest of my laundry was intact, right down to the partners for the sidewalk socks, but all of my pillowcases had flat vanished.

Humanity oft ponders the mystery of disappearing laundry. We joke about sock black holes, or dryers with vortexes to another world or underpants gnomes. But clearly something supernatural and sinister is at work. Four pillowcases do not disappear of their own accord. Yea, be ye not so glib! As the Day of the One Whom We Call Beelzebub descends upon us, the dark forces that suck our laundry have escalated their war on humanity! On the Eve of 6-6-06, they struck a mighty blow to fresh bedding and mildly-obsessive-compulsive housekeepers the world over! Yesterday the forces of Satan came for my pillowcases. Today they will come for our souls.

I mean, there really is no other sensible conclusion, is there?

Monday, June 05, 2006

followed by...

So funnily enough, it turns out that eight hours of tequila consumption followed by a predawn 5K, followed by Five Guys, followed by a five hour nap, followed by a bout of insomnia so great it keeps you up to 6 AM watching season one of Footballers Wive$ on DVD while planning your dream 'round-the-world backpacking trip with your little sister (also inflicted with insomnia, but of the physics-exam-induced type)...

...well, it turns out to lead to some pretty messed-up dreams.

And how was your weekend, friend?

Friday, June 02, 2006

chapter eleventy jillion in my ongoing battle with accepting adulthood

I've officially been too good.

Not good in a particularly polished or exceptional way, mind you; good in a behaving properly, working hard, playing by the rules kind of way. Today I discovered that all my accumulated vacation time will expire in July. My boss' reaction was to tell me to take off a bunch of days in June so that I could get my money's worth. My reaction was to sigh and say, with complete sincerity and in no way a suck-up measure, "I just have too many projects in the air to take them."


In addition to work, I've actually been reading for class. Reading the way you have to read in grad school, where you actually read all the words as opposed to the first paragraph and last paragraph of each chapter, taking notes the entire time while swilling belly-swelling amounts of tea. Did you know that the destruction of kingdom of Kongo is an excellent representative of political integration of indigenous African peoples and the Atlantic slave trade? I DO. I know a whole lot more shit, too. Graduate school in the social sciences is entirely about taking the most passionate, inflamatory subjects and bloating them with statistics and circle jerking-PhDs so that the poor student grows to hate academia and prays for the sweet, familiar embrace of white-collar office life. At least, unlike the Atlantic slave trade, TPS reports have not been around since 1441.

I've been such a good little student and good little worker bee that I haven't had time for any of the things that make blog entries fun, like making out with a stranger only to discover he's (eek!) an intern or taking pretty pictures or spilling coffee on famous-for-Washington celebrities in Starbucks. No sin, no scandal, no controversy. Really, since seeing J on Monday, no fun.

I am getting crunked tonight. And I'm not thinking about sugar plantations ONCE. Take that, maturity!