Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday miscellany

I got some new slippers this past weekend, and I am a teensy bit infatuated with them.

In fact, the acquistion of said slippers--on sale! and an additional 20% off!--was one of the top highlights of the weekend. After, obviously, having Jules here, and also:

  • FREE Nutcracker tickets
  • White Christmas viewing (I shall neither confirm nor deny whether I did the "Blue Skies" dance.)
  • Near completion of Christmas shopping (one gift to go!)
  • Re-reading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (That was not a group activity, but it was exciting.)
  • a solid three days of Quality Time with Jules

We also saw Invictus (four thumbs up), watched Elf ("I like smiling! Smiling's my favorite."), consumed at least ten pots of tea in three days, and had Zorba's and Hello Cupcake. Weekend = success.


Now. Two working days till I head home for Christmas for ten days. But before that, I have to bake five dozen cookies. Also, pack. Minor details.


I have taken to wearing my hair in a braid. For the first time in my life, it's long enough. I can't decide if it's cute or a tad too Little House on the Prairie, so I haven't yet gone public with it. Jury's still out.


Anyway, my slippers and my braid and I are going to bed. To dream about ratios of flour and sugar and whether I can get away with only three pairs of shoes for a week at home.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

On Saturday, we had our first snowfall of the year. It was glorious--a full day of uninterrupted, fat, wet snowflakes. I celebrated by doing four loads of laundry and watching about ten hours of saccharine holiday movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel. And then another several hours on Sunday. I think I have a cavity from all the sweetness.

Aside from that, though, I am kicking ass ahead of the game this holiday season. Last night? I WRAPPED GIFTS. This is impressive not only because I did this so early, but because I actually have gifts in my possession to wrap! Eighteen whole days before Christmas! ...Thank you, thank you, no need for applause.

Anyway, 12 days from now I will be heading home for a rather lengthy holiday break, which will be preceded by various holiday gatherings (most of which require me to bake things) and also a visit from Jules! And, by the way, know what's even more exciting than having your best friend visit just to go see The Nutcracker with you? Going to see it FOR FREE. Which we are doing on Friday.

But anyway, as I mentioned, I spent the weekend watching bad Lifetime movies and also a couple of BBC miniseries--North and South (NOT the one about the Civil War) and Daniel Deronda--and boy, if those two networks aren't at opposite ends of the quality spectrum, then I don't know what are. Lifetime : cotton candy :: BBC : oatmeal. And in case you were wondering what all the old Dawson's Creek stars are doing now (aside from Pacey, who is on that Fringe show, and Joey, who is married to that crazy, couch-jumping Scientologist), they're starring in sappy holiday movies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunny days, sweepin' the clouds away...

Have you all seen the Sesame Street-themed Google headers over the last week? They have been awesome--a new one each day! My favorite:

Anyway, in honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, today I offer you a trip down memory lane (my memory lane, anyway) with three of my favorite songs from the olden days of this great show. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble embedding them, so here are links instead. Enjoy!

I Don't Want to Live on the Moon

A New Way to Walk

The Honker-Ducky-Dinger Jamboree

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Partial List of Things the Rest of the World Seems to Love and Yet Toward Which I Remain Rather Lukewarm*

  • Coffee
  • Mad Men
  • Lock-and-Locks
  • Sushi
  • Any of the young stars/starlets on currently on the Disney Channel, except Selena Gomez, who I find rather adorable
  • Jane Eyre
  • Roller coasters
  • Most of the apps on Facebook
  • American Idol
  • Engagement photos where the bride and groom dress in similar outfits
  • Beer
  • In Style magazine
  • Coach bags
  • Anything related to the Twilight series (books and movies)
  • Wings (chicken, buffalo, hot, etc)
  • Will Ferrell, except in Elf

*Idea once again borrowed from another, better blogger than I--Holly at NBB.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Further adventures in independent living

Last weekend I went home to Tennessee for the wedding of one of my high school friends. In addition to the main event, I also had a highly successful shopping trip with Mom (two stores, two dresses, two pairs of shoes, all on sale—and none of it from Ann Taylor Loft!). But that is not relevant to this story. This story is about what happened later.

I drove back on Sunday afternoon, making record time and immediately finding princess parking. By 9 pm, I was just settling onto my couch for an hour with the dreamy Alex O’Loughlin when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something scurry from under the radiator into the darkened kitchen.


I sat there frozen for what seemed like hours—it was probably about 30 seconds—considering my options. I settled on two: a) panic, or b) handle the situation.

As I sat there, I heard a quiet rustling from the kitchen.

I went with option c) panic, and make someone else handle it—Marlon, the super. I called him to see if he had any mouse traps. He didn’t. I was going to have to face this alone.

So! Time to obtain some traps. But first, I steeled myself, flipped on the kitchen light, and peeked around the corner. I gingerly picked up the trashbag and nearly had a heart attack when the furry inteloper went skittering from under the bag to behind the fridge.

I took the bag, fled, closed the door, and then made use of the stack of old magazines and catalogs that I’ve been accumulating for the last two years.

Yes, my Crisis Handling Skillz are remarkable, and no, I don’t have any idea where I obtained not one but two copies of Marie Claire. I don’t read Marie Claire. I don’t recall EVER reading Marie Claire.

I also closed the bedroom door and used the bathmat to seal off the crack at the bottom. Heaven forbid this renegade rodent make his way from the kitchen through the apartment to the bedroom while I was out.

Anyway, I went to CVS and stood in front of the pest control section for about five minutes. With each product, I pictured the scenario where I would be forced to dispose of the creature. None of them pleased me, as unfortunately, none were the kind I wanted--the kind where you don't have to actually SEE the mouse, which is the only mouse trap I could even consider touching post-catch.

I bought two of the least horrifying traps and reluctantly headed home.

During the three minute walk from CVS to my door, I had an internal debate about whether, as a Strong, Independent Woman, I was capable of handling this alone. By the time I got home—which was only about 20 minutes from the initial Mouse Sighting—I had come to terms with the fact that there was no way in hell I was going back in that kitchen without reinforcements. The question was, which of my friends (who live within a five-minute walk) could I call on a Sunday night who might actually come to my aid? I considered the options:

1) J, who once rescued me from a mouse—albeit a dead one—when we were housemates, would tell me to man up and deal with it. And then he would hang up.
2) Ed is more of a wuss than I am about mice, having FREAKED OUT when I saw one in the kitchen at our old house.
3) Val, who had a mouse in her apartment back when she lived alone. She named him (Maximus) and FED HIM CHEESE. Once she figured out how he was getting in, she sealed up the hole, but it was obvious that as a Friend of Mice, she was not a suitable ally in the war that I was preparing to wage. Also, pride prevented me from calling her. Not sure why.

That left Eric. Whom I had not spoken to in approximately a month. But the situation was dire, and I was willing to risk the fact that he might feel rather…used. I texted him: “First of all, hi. Second of all, MAYDAY. Can you come over immediately?”

Mouse: 1
Independent woman: 0

Following some negotiations, and also, I am not ashamed to admit, some begging, Eric arrived. He took one look at my barricades, rolled his eyes, entered the kitchen, and did a cursory search. No mouse in the cabinets, no mouse behind the fridge, no mouse—apparently—still in the kitchen. FOR NOW. We set the traps, I secured all the food in the cabinets, and Eric left.

Not long after going to bed, I heard a mild racket coming from the kitchen. It sounded like my visitor had perhaps gotten caught. Rather than investigate, I put in earplugs. I slept with the lights on in the living room, figuring that Ratatouille would be disinclined to venture from the kitchen though a brightly lit room to my bedroom.

The next morning, I chose not to investigate the situation in the kitchen, but instead left Marlon a note asking him to check the traps. He did. No mouse.

So here we are, a week later, and still no mouse. I choose to believe that it got partially caught, freed itself, and is too freaked out to come back.

The magazine barricade, however, is still in place.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Best Friends’ Weddings

In the last month, I have successfully married off four of my best friends.
What a relief. That’s four dowries I don’t need to worry about anymore.
September was a whirlwind. Ed and Val’s wedding on the 12th was a circus—in a good way, naturally. J and I drove up on Saturday, after a false start to go retrieve his best man toast.

[on his toast]
J: I start off talking about the public option and wrap it up by talking about Jesus.
Me: Sounds like a barn burner.

And from there, the weekend was chockablock (to use an apropos British-ism): the rehearsal and dinner on Friday, a late night at The Old Corner, lunch with the bride and all the gals on wedding day, the ceremony (duh), a fabulous reception (and NOT such a late night—we were tiiiiired), and wrapping up with a post-wedding brunch on Sunday morning. A large group of us—AU alums, London mates, and current DC friends—came to fete the happy couple, and it was awesome. The best weddings are the ones that reunite friends and family from far and wide, and this one was exactly that.

London mates

Frankly, the weekend could only have been improved if I had managed to avoid spilling food on my dress ten minutes into the reception—AGAIN.

On Sunday afternoon, it was back to D.C. to unpack, repack, and spend a few days in the office. Ash and I spent our evenings with the phone glued to our ears as we feverishly assembled a gorgeous scrapbook for our beloved Jules….

If I never see another glue stick, it will be too soon.
Ash logged hours on FedEx’s website tracking another special package ….

Possibly the coolest gift of all time. If we do say so.

…and I painstakingly be-dazzled a t-shirt for the bride. (I freely admit that I stole this idea from Valerie’s sister, who gave her a similar one.)

Thursday I was off to Ohio, stopping to fetch Ash at the Cleveland airport on the way in. And then it was time for Round 2. Friday featured a "Julebilation Celebration" (TM Ashley) with the bridesmaids (tea and mani/pedis)…

The bride and 3 of her 4 maids

…the rehearsal…

…and dinner. And Saturday began bright and early with preparations…

Jules getting beautiful. Or, rather, beautiful-er.

...followed by photos, the ceremony, more photos, and the reception. Sunday morning, we took breakfast over to the B’s house for a few more hours of quality time before we hit the road.
Family photo
Having known both the bride and groom for so many years, it was like a family wedding for me. (Jules’ dad? Washed my car. It was sitting in the driveway while we were out, and when we got back, it and their red Taurus were shiny and clean.) I know the parents, siblings, grandparents, many of the aunts, uncles, and cousins, and even some of the high school friends. College friends assembled from Missouri to Chicago to DC and more. It was surreal and wonderful. There were many (happy) tears, much laughter, and a whole lot of dancing.

This is what happens when you put "Cotton-Eyed Joe" on in M's presence.
And now it’s all over. Three weddings down, one to go!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Something shiny. Metaphorically, anyway.

So I know I've been MIA and that I owe my faithful readers a substantial post--or five--on the various happenings of the last month. I promise I will get to that, probably this weekend. But for now, may I distract you with this adorable video? It has been making the rounds at my office, and nobody can stop watching it. Make sure your sound is on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dear Mr. President

This is G's current status on Facebook, which sent me into hysterical giggles in the confines of my office:

Dear President Obama,
As you know, I am a huge fan. I have supported you since 2006 and I even worked for you during the primary. I am really looking forward to your address on Health Care this evening. However, if you run over into the 9 o'clock hour, I will be changing the channel to watch GLEE. Again, I'm a big fan. I hope that there are no hard feelings.
Thanks, Gretchen

Monday, August 31, 2009


So, in case you were wondering, last weekend’s highly classified trip was to here:

That would be Valerie’s family’s summer home in Westport, Massachusetts, on the southern shore. Well, one of their homes in Westport. That’s the small one, The Boathouse.

Six of us went up for Valerie’s surprise bachelorette weekend—the bride, her two sisters, and three friends. I hesitate to use the word bachelorette, which to me implies some sort of debauchery, because our activities consisted primarily of this:

…jumping off the dock into this…

…throwing a ball into the water for this fellow to retrieve…

….and sitting on the porch while reading and drinking iced tea. We also ventured up to Boston for dinner one evening. On the whole, it was a rough weekend. I would be happy to repeat it annually.

So anyway, I survived the Month of Everything, as well as August, which was pretty uneventful, aside from the aforementioned trip and my birthday. I wouldn’t call my birthday eventful, either, though I did have a fabulous dinner with friends, was taken to lunch by some work friends, received many birthday missives and calls from family and friends, and had homemade s’mores cupcakes baked in my honor by my office’s resident cupcake lady. AND THEN, the week after my birthday, some gorgeous roses were delivered to my office. Jules sent them the next week so that they wouldn’t die while I was away! So thoughtful, as always. They were beautiful, and I sent her the following photo:

Okay, I take it back. I suppose it was an eventful birthday after all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recommended reading

This book? The one that was over there on the right for a while?

REALLY GOOD. Quite the page-turner. I recommend it. Although now I don't know what I'm going to take on my trip this weekend--my current read is a bit large to haul around in my purse.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


So… the Month of Everything caught up with me. I was busy, yo. But now it’s August (the MIDDLE of August, sheesh), so I no longer have an excuse for not posting.

Since my last substantive post, I have done many things:
  • The Month of Everything, Weekend #3 in Ohio, which included two lovely wedding showers for Jules. Many gifts were opened, and Marissa (Miguel’s sister and a fellow bridesmaid) and I proved quite proficient at fashioning bridal bouquets out of ribbons and bows. I also met many, many of Jules’ family members, ate several hot dogs, and saw the newest Harry Potter movie. ‘Twas fun. (During the course of the weekend, I also received assorted text messages from the boys, who were in Nashville for Ed’s bachelor party festivities. Apparently, I am the resident expert on all things southern and Tennesseean.)
  • Hosted book club (our one-year anniversary!) at my place. This month’s book was Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France. I prepared her own potato-leek soup recipe for the occasion—admittedly an odd choice for mid-July, but it was one of the few recipes I could find online that didn’t involve de-boning a duck or marinating something for three days. So soup it was, and it turned out rather well, though it seemed a little too easy.
  • The Month of Everything, Weekends #4 and #5: G and I drove a million and six hours to and from the beach. During the intervening week, I sat on my rear (in various locations: rocking chair, hammock, porch swing, in beach chair under an umbrella) whilst consuming quantities of lemonade and reading four and a half books.
  • Had jury duty for exactly five hours (and was not picked).
  • With Jules and the other attendants, resolved the Great Bridesmaids’ Dress Debacle of ’09, and subsequently returned all the extra dresses that I had acquired (to the great relief of both me and my credit card)
  • Fell off the wagon at Ann Taylor Loft again, though it had been a long time since the last time, nor did I fall too badly this time. I only bought two dresses (both work-appropriate!), and I got 30% off.
  • Saw my old pal Liz, who is back! from! Germany! after a year.
  • Discovered a new eatery—THE WEST WING CAFÉ, how awesome does that sound?!—a block from my office. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m super excited. Wonder if they have Fresca.
  • Developed middle-of-the-night insomnia, but only every third night or so. I have yet to determine what is causing it.
  • That’s it, I think.
  • Oh no, wait. HA. There was also that other little thing, where I got promoted. Minor detail, that one. It was a killer, too, because I found out the day after I got back from Ohio, but I couldn’t tell anyone for THREE WEEKS. Amazingly, I managed it. So I got a big, awesome, exciting promotion, and More Monies, and a title that has the word “director” in it. I mean, okay, yes, there’s a word in front of “director,” but it’s still very exciting.
It was also part of the impetus for my wagon-falling at ATL—‘twas a reward to myself! Okay, not really. But that was how I justified it. The real reward, once I actually see the More Monies, will be a new tv. When I got promoted at the Old Job, I bought myself an iPod. Apparently I like electronics.

Okay, so. Now it’s August, which means weddings are NEXT MONTH. Yikes. It’s actually a little ridiculous how much time I spend thinking about weddings, considering none of them are mine. The following, for instance, is part of my rather epic to-do list for the coming weekend and week:
  • Take bridesmaid’s dress to tailor (J&M wedding)
  • Finish ceremony program (J&M wedding)
  • Print and stamp programs (J&M wedding)
  • Obtain gifts (J&M, E&V)
  • Get shoes (J&M)
  • Pack for [REDACTED!!] next weekend. Can’t discuss! Secret!
  • …other stuff that I can’t talk about…
  • Serve as photographer for E&V, who need more engagement pictures taken for some project.
And then there’s all the non-wedding stuff, like a haircut, a desperately-needed Target run, and laundry. As of Saturday, I’m out of clean underwear.

And then next week is my birthday (woo!) and the aforementioned [REDACTED!!] event.

And then one week later, it’s September, holy pete. Where did summer go?

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'm at the beach. I'm reading many, many books and drinking large quantities of lemonade and iced mint tea. It's exactly as rough as it sounds.

Back to the real world on Saturday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Heard... 11:26pm on Saturday via text message from Jay, who was in Nashville with the guys for Ed's bachelor party

Jay: Your home state is fantastic. Good 'ol Rocky Top!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WEIRD. (The Month of Everything, Weekend #2)

Wedding weekend #1 has come and gone, and I had a most excellent time. The whole family, minus one branch of cousins, was at the rehearsal dinner, which featured a quite entertaining slideshow/video presentation by MC, sister of the groom. I was seated with my cousin Elliott, several members of the wedding party, and a few miscellaneous friends--none of whom, other than Elliott, I knew. (Mom: "Are you going to be okay over there?" Me: "I've managed with tougher crowds than this.")

Then Saturday was the wedding, and let me tell you, it is WEIRD when the guy who once endlessly tormented you and your girl cousins is suddenly up there getting married. In a tuxedo, looking all... grown up. To a lovely young lady who has, apparently, agreed to the whole thing. Weird, I say. Mom and Aunt K kept exchanging "I CAN'T HANDLE THIS" looks.

But nonetheless, we chatted, we laughed, we ate shrimp 'n' grits, we took many photos, we danced to the oldies. It was a good time, and likely the first of many such events. But none, probably, as weird as this one. The first one.

Up next: Jules' wedding showers in Ohio!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gray Matter

I should mention that I did not come up with this idea (I stole borrowed it from Flotsam, who borrowed it from someone else). Larger version here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recap: The Month of Everything, Weekend #1

So Daniel was here over the weekend, and we had a big ole time. He and Dad did practically everything there was to do in DC on Thursday while I was working (Washington Monument; Lincoln, FDR, Vietnam, Korean, and Jefferson Memorials; Spy Museum; White House; Capitol and Supreme Court—ALL IN ONE DAY), so I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be anything left for us to do after Dad. But we made do:

Friday (before Dad left): National Cathedral, including the Bishop’s Garden, a trip up into the tower, and an exhibit about the building of the cathedral); Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum, where I discovered that Dad’s random knowledge of things that move extends beyond cars to airplanes; Nationals-Braves game, where Daniel experienced a Chili Half-Smoke All the Way, With Cheese from the iconic Ben’s Chili bowl

Saturday: Lunch at Five Guys, where Daniel got approximately 13 toppings on his burger;The Proposal (definitely NOT the movie I expected to see with my 15-year-old male cousin); Mall/Lincoln Memorial (second time for Daniel); fireworks viewing from the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, including snacks, gin rummy, and a medley of patriotic songs, sung by Ed

Sunday: Arlington National Cemetary, where I had never been and of which we covered practically every square foot; extended debate about the “most popular” bands of our age (U2 vs. Guns and Roses)—I think the answer is obvious, but D, in his infinite 15-year-old wisdom, disagrees) during the drive to meet Aunt B for dinner

Anyway, it was fun. I was tired (and sore), but we had a good time.

Up next: wedding weekend in Georgia!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

You probably won't find this as funny as I did

This morning I received a two-sentence email from my friend/colleague at an organization across town regarding a document that we had both edited.

"Damn you and your commas! I took every one of those serial commas out and you sent it back with every single one put back in."

Ah, the inherent tensions between an editor (WOOOO Chicago Style!) and a publicist (booo AP Style).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Heard... I ran into spacing issues while laying out on the program for Jules and Miguel's wedding

Jules: good thing Hannah Grove-DeJarnett-Vandenhogenbonden isn't reading

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's Goin' On

Not much is happening here in our fair nation's capital, aside from humidity and horrific Metro crashes and, as of last week, CONSTANT RAIN. The Month of Nothing is puttering to a close, and The Month of Everything looms, menacingly, just a few short days from now. I spend my time alternately contemplating my wardrobe for the wedding weekend in Georgia (which involves three separate dress-wearing occasions) and being daunted by the (albeit premature) exhaustion of it all and taking to my couch with a bowl of blueberries and some ginger ale.

Recent weeks have included the following activities:

Tubing on the Shenandoah near Harpers Ferry, WV, an activity that I consciously did not mention to my aquaphobic mother because of her apparent belief that I would sink like a stone if I fall into a body of water, which I discovered during a discussion about G and Ryan's kayaking excursion.

Mom: "You don't know how to swim."
me: "What are you talking about?"
Mom: "If you fell into the river, would you be able to get to the shore?"
me: "Yes!"
Mom: "I mean more than just treading water."
me: "Yes!"
Mom: "Like, you can swim laps?"
me: "YES!"

Opera Ball (my fifth!), this year at the German ambassador's residence. Super fun, as always, and hopefully no one noticed that I was wearing the same dress that I wore for the past, uh, two years.

Hours spent arranging and rearranging my NetFlix queue. I found out that Season 2 of Everwood just came out. My world was rocked. The entire paradigm of my summer TV-on-DVD-watching schedule shifted.

Experimenting with yogurt/topping combinations YogiBerry. For months, I thought that the new shop in my neigborhood was a yoga supply store. It's not. It's a frozen yogurt place. Which is obviously far more exciting. I have learned that a) marshmallows are surprisingly unsatisfying as a topping, and b) when ordering raspberries, you only get about five, which yields an undesirable yogurt-to-topping ratio. (Val, our resident YogiBerry Expert: "You have to mush them up and swirl them around." Me: "But who wants to do that?") So far, chocolate with chocolate chips and walnuts is the winner. I will keep you posted on developments.

Getting jury duty. Because it's not like I have anything else going on July. I'm trying to muster some sense of civic pride, or something, but so far I've been unsuccessful.

That's pretty much it. But July starts in six days, and I will undoubtedly have much to report, between the road trips and the baseball and the weddings and everything. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Guess what time it is?!

Summer is upon us, as evidenced by the unrelenting frizz that the humidity is wreaking on my hair. With summer come large stretches of spare time in the evenings and on weekends, sitting on the beach or the porch (theoretically…if I had a porch) or in my soon-to-be-stifling apartment. With the exception of The Closer and So You Think You Can Dance, the evening TV schedule is void of anything worthwhile. What to do?

Well, I’ll tell you!


I don’t know what it is about summer that makes me INSANE about reading, but I find myself making endless lists of books, assisted by the ubiquitous “Suggested Summer Reading” lists provided by everyone from The Washington Post to Entertainment Weekly. Nothing makes me happier than a Sunday afternoon spent wandering through the stacks at the tiny library branch across from my house, and in the past two weeks I’ve accumulated a giant stack of library books, just waiting to be devoured (or discarded, if they turn out to be boring. Which does happen, occasionally).

While reading a truly awesome book is, you know, truly awesome, I also get great joy from sharing those books with others. And so! I present to you today...

Books You Should Read This Summer Because I Said So,
Categorized for Easy Reference

The One On All The Best-Seller Lists:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Schaffer/Annie Barrows)
I have to give my mother credit, as she discovered this book last summer, long before it hit the New York Times best-seller list. She picked it up--if I'm not mistaken--simply because of the quirky name. The epistolary novel, primarily set on the small English island of Guernsey during WWII, tells the story of a book club born as an impromptu alibi when its members were caught breaking curfew by the Germans occupying the island. And boy, is this a delightful book.

The Literary Book:
The Tender Bar (J.R. Moehringer)
This book was recommended to me by three people who could not be more different—my old roommate Al, my friend J, and my former boss. These three could probably not agree on a pizza topping, let alone a book, which only illustrates the quality of this memoir. The author tells of his fatherless childhood on Long Island and the community that helped raise him—most notably, the men who frequent a bar called Dickens. Frankly, I think this is a book that college lit classes will be discussing in years to come, full of richly-drawn characters and vivid prose. My copy has been continuously on loan for over a year.

The Girly Book: I Was Told There’d Be Cake (Sloane Crosley)
This isn’t really chick-lit, but it’s not really a guy kind of book. Crosley’s essays (“The Pony Problem,” “Bring-Your-Machete-To-Work Day,” and, uh, “F*** You, Columbus” are my favorites) are full of irony and self-deprecating wit. For any female who came of age during the 1990s, this book is sure to prompt the kind of hysterical laughter that comes from completely and utterly identifying with a character.

The Book About a Book: People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks)
My literary tastes are wide-ranging, but I love books about history and books about books. This is both. It follows Hanna Heath, a rare book conservator, and the Sarajevo Haggadah that disappeared during the city’s siege in 1992. The story traces the history of the book from its creation in the 15th century Seville through WWII Bosnia as it passes through the hands of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. My book club read it a few months ago and it was unanimously enjoyed. It’s a quick read, and a good one. Highly recommended!

The Page-Turner: The Romanov Prophecy (Steve Berry)
This book is probably not going to win the Pulitzer or anything, but I just finished it, and darned if it’s not a great read… even if you’re not a Russian history nut like me. Sort of in the vein of The Da Vinci Code—a fast-paced, globe-trotting thriller—The Romanov Prophecy brings the intrigue of Nicholas and Alexandra’s Russia to the 21st century.

The One I Haven’t Read, But Am Most Excited About:
The Angel’s Game (Carlos Ruiz Zafón)
About three years ago, I stumbled across a book called The Shadow of the Wind. I don’t remember how I found it, nor do I remember much about the plot, but I LOVED IT. It was spooky and romantic and utterly gripping —and about a book! yay—and I could not get enough of it. Every so often I see someone reading it on the Metro or wherever—often in the original Spanish (La Sombra del Viento sounds so much more exotic, doesn’t it?)—and it makes me want to read it all over again. Which I may do this summer. But anyway! Two days ago, I discovered that the author has a new book coming out this week! It’s like CHRISTMAS! I’m so excited.

Coming soon! Summer TV on DVD recommendations. Because periodically you just need a break from all that reading.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday ramblings

On my way to work this morning, I discovered a few things:

1) Summer is here. Well, ish. It’s here today, at least, with the HUMIDITY and the elusive smell of sewage. I got dressed in my nice, lightweight pink dress and thought, “Eh. Too summery.” And I changed. Into jeans and a black shirt. UNWISE, this was. On the upside, I have gotten several compliments on my hair. Thanks, humidity, for the curl.

2) “The piping plover, a small sandy-colored bird, is endangered and can be seen on Nantucket.” I learned this following my regular morning coffee run, and by “regular” I mean “second day in a row,” and by “coffee” I mean “apple juice and biscotti.” Anyway, my juice bottle informed me this fact about the piping plover. Also, that a piping plover exists. Google then informed me that the piping plover is damned cute. To wit:

Cheerio there! I am cute and fluffy and endangered.

3) …

… there was another thing, but I have forgotten it.

Anyhoo, Monday commences The Month of Nothing, inasmuch as I have no trips or visitors (EDITED TO ADD: except Uncle Chris!) booked during June. So far my plans for the month include a) haircut hair trim (or possibly cut, if the attempt to grow it out fails. Which it may).

AH HAH! That was number three.

3) I may not make it to the end of the summer without cutting my hair off. Because of the HOT and the HUMID and other such things.

Right. So. Plans include a) hair trim, b) getting bridesmaid dress tailored (which I have been putting off), c) reading copious numbers of books, and d) seeing how long I can go without putting my window AC unit in.

I know. You WISH your life was this exciting.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Heard... Mom and Dad's yard sale this morning
Old man: D'ya have any guns for sale?
Dad: No, I'm sorry, I don't.
Old man: Are you sure? I'm paying good money.
Uh, yes. I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here, have some photos

I know, I know, I'm sorry. Since my mini-vacation and the preceding Week O'Grandparents, I have suddenly developed a social life. No idea where it came from, but between that and our big gala (for work) last weekend, I have barely been home in the evenings.

Anyway, I promise to post something interesting soon, but for now I shall (hopefully) appease you with these delightful photos from my Florida trip. Enjoy (and please pardon the weird formatting)!

Obligatory castle photo

You might think it is difficult to mount a carousel while wearing a dress. And you would be correct.

The Flower and Garden Show was happening at EPCOT. Pretty flowers everywhere!

Snow White and dwarves

We found Nemo!

Friday, May 8, 2009

[Untitled post about Jules]*

I'm leaving tonight for Florida, where I will be visiting BFF and college roommate Jules (and Miguel, of course) for the next three days. I could not be more excited. I booked this trip several months ago, during the height of the insane period at work, and the anticipation has kept me going through some stressful days.


Anyway, today also happens to be Jules' birthday. The trip is fortuitously timed.

Do all of you know about Jules? No? Well, I was going to regale you with the story of how we met (our eyes met across a crowded room and....wait, no, wrong story). It's a good story. Jules likes to tell it to people, even though it makes her sound like high-maintenance priss and me like a judgemental fool. (No comments, please.) Anyway, it's all typed up and ready and and everything... on my computer at home. Where I am not, and won't be for several days, at which point the moment will have passed. So anyway, remind me to tell you about it sometime.

Instead, I offer you this, a snapshot of Jules:

~ice cream
~the Cleveland Indians
~Muppets, specifically Kermit and Pepe
~Miguel (hopefully, since she's marrying him)
~Friends reruns
~pajama pants that are not too short for her

[Above: We are a special brand of crazy. The bows did not come with the dresses.]

~meat on bones (ie. fried chicken)
~many, many other foods
~Bob Costas
~stores that don't carry her shoe size (11)
~rude people

Stories about Jules and me (and Ash, the third in our rather loud trio) could fill an entire separate blog, but not everyone would find them as entertaining as we do. Alas. So I shall wrap this up and say FELIZ BIRTHDAY, OHKEH, Jules. I will see you in a few short hours!

[Right: See those feet under that box? They belong to Jules. I am the weirdo in the pink shirt.]

*Holy Pete, I seriously couldn't come up with a clever title for this one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And then we lived long and prospered

It’s possible that I’ve been watching too much TV, because I have had two very odd dreams in the last week.

The first was on Saturday night, and all I remember is that it featured Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, Chuck from Gossip Girl, and Mia from One Tree Hill. I remember nothing about this, except that I was aware of how odd it was that my subconscious should form a scenario with these three characters, particularly as I have not watched the latter two shows in at least a year. And if you know anything about them--the shows and the characters--they have absolutely nothing in common. Also, Mia is, like, not even a regular on One Tree Hill.

Anyway. So that was weird. Last night’s dream, however, I remember in detail.

(cue wavy, fog-like atmosphere of dream sequence)

I am at the beach (Edisto) and am sitting alone at the bar at the Sunset Grill nursing a pink lemonade. It is in a martini glass with an umbrella, which, in the dream, seems totally normal. Anyway, I strike up a conversation with a handsome young fellow named Chris. In the course of the conversation, I learn that he is from California and he is an actor.

“What kind of actor? TV, film, theater?” I ask.
“Mostly film, but also some theater,” he replies.
“Would I have seen you in anything?”
…and the conversation continues, until it suddenly hits me.
“Oh. You’re Chris Pine!”

And then we got married and, because of the lack of flights from Los Angeles to Tri-Cities Regional Airport, Chris Pine chartered a plane to bring various stars and Hollywood-types to our wedding. And I moved to California, where I worked for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Maestro Gustavo Dudamel became a close family friend and came over for the fabulous dinner parties that we hosted in our Hollywood Hills bungalow.

Here’s why this is weird: Chris Pine is an actual actor, and he is about to play Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie. According to
IMDB, the only thing I have ever seen him in is The Princess Diaries 2 (WHICH I ONLY WATCHED BECAUSE OF JULIE ANDREWS, thankyouverymuch). He had a rather big role in that movie, but still.

Um, okay. Where in the world galaxy did THAT come from?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our town

I love spring in Washington, but tourist season is a pain in the rear. You expect this when driving downtown near the Mall and the memorials, but it's particularly obnoxious when you walk out your front door into a flotilla of strollers. Or when it takes 20 minutes to get out of your neighborhood because of all the zoo-bound families trying to park their minivans on the side streets.

Saw State of Play this evening at the absolutely-packed Uptown, and dude, was it gripping. Highly enjoyable movie, even more so if you live in DC. The audience got a huge kick out of certain details that only DC insiders would get (like blink-or-you'll-miss-it appearances by local tv anchors: "Hey, it's Jim Vance!").

When the movie was shooting in town last spring, most of my coworkers and I watched them film a scene outside the Watergate from the windows of our office, with Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams and his blue Saab, which figures prominently in the movie. The entire street between Virginia and the Kennedy Center was blocked off with equipment and trailers and the version of the Saab that they were apparently using for interior shots (mounted on a wheeled platform, with cameras pointed through the windows). We did not get much work done that afternoon.

Anyway, it was extremely entertaining--I recommend it--and then I had frozen yogurt afterward. ‘Twas a perfect spring evening.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Heard... ("things you don't want to hear from your unmarried daughter" edition)

...while chatting with Dad this evening
Dad: What are you doing?
Me: Shopping for baby clothes.
Dad: Uh...that's a scary sentence.

[I was shopping for a baby shower gift.]

39 Things I Like

A blatant rip-off of a recent blog post by my cousin, MC

Bones (the tv show)
Nabisco Oreo Cakesters 100 Calorie Packs
planning trips
the tulips outside my apartment
getting Evites
Gustavo Dudamel
old photos
crossing things off lists
Facebook stalking
new posts at
Ann Taylor Loft
princess parking
reading recaps of my tv shows the day after they air
Samurai Sudoku
Rhapsody in Blue
pictures of Bo Obama
nonverbal conversations with G
the smell of old books
my Chuck Taylors
the trailer/promos for Glee
the Steelers
mentally rearranging my apartment
the beach
Neil Patrick Harris
Hairspray (the recent version of the movie)
my bed
roommate bonding
timing the Metro just right
NCIS reruns
when my car is clean
new dresses
boys who hold the door for you
home at Christmas

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't go! It's still me!

I know I confuse some of you when I redecorate over here. Sorry. But I finally made my own blog header (yay for me!), and I had to change the rest of the color scheme to match. Ain't it purty?

It's a lot of pink, I know, but I couldn't find a yellow background, which is what I really wanted.

Unfortunately, it also screwed up the formatting on the old posts (no line spaces, alas), but I'll just have to live with that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Audience Participation Time!

I have a baby shower to attend in a couple of weeks, and each guest has been asked to give a book. I’ve been mulling over this for a while, and I am considering the following:

1) The Classic: Charlotte’s Web. Obviously, every child needs this book.

2) The One No One Else Would Ever Think Of: The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. Awesome book! Also where I first learned the word brassiere. In case you were wondering that.

3) The One I Read With My Mom: Little House in the Big Woods. I read (all? most of?) the Little House series with my mother at night before bed. Seems like a good tradition to pass along.

Any other suggestions? I want to avoid obvious choices—Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Everybody Poops*, etc. Also, I recognize that two of the books above are for a slightly older audience, but that doesn’t bother me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Heard... (typed, actually)

...on Gchat as Jules and I discuss programs for her wedding, which I am designing and printing
Jules: such a helpful bridesmaid
me: it is nice to be able to use my skillz to help my peeps
Jules: word

Monday, April 6, 2009


...from my rather eccentric boss, who is helping to answer phones (loudly, and with varying accents) in the box office today
BC: Please spell your name, it sounds fascinating.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Story time

As many people know, Washington had, at one point, a fairly high crime rate. To this day, every time I’m home Betty Jo, a rather nutty lady at my church, says to me, “But it’s so dangerous! Aren’t you scared living there?” To which I reply that most of the city is quite safe, and I tend to avoid the areas that aren’t. Not to mention that this is the seat of government, home of (huge and fancy) embassies, and a tourist hotspot. But to listen to Betty Jo, you’d think I lived in South Central LA in the '80s.

That said, in the seven years that I’ve lived in Washington, I have experienced exactly two, shall we say, unsettling incidents. Today is story time here at Unagi, so I shall tell you about them.


Unsettling Incident #1

It was December of 2003. Jules, Miguel, our friend Iain, and I had just had dinner and finished visited the White House Christmas Tree. We were walking down F Street to the Metro when a lady crossed the street and called, “Excuse me!” Jules and Miguel kept walking. Iain and I stopped.

That, it turned out, was a mistake.

She said that she was from Baltimore and had been in town volunteering with some sort of Catholic charity, but her purse had been stolen and she had no money to get home. We told her we didn’t have any cash, but offered to wave down a cop for help, but she freaked out at the suggestion. At that point, we noticed her bloodshot eyes and bitten down fingernails. Stranded do-gooder? Not so much. Tweaked out druggie? Bingo!

For ten minutes, she begged for money and we tried to extricate ourselves from the situation. Eventually, we gave her three dollars and she left.

Jules and Miguel, it should be noted, were standing behind a column, out of sight, avoiding the whole situation.

“I could tell immediately that she was high,” said Miguel, ever helpful.

“And it didn’t occur to you to come rescue us?” I replied.


Unsettling Incident #2

This one goes down really well at parties. A couple of years ago, I was walking home from Friendship Heights—home to Neiman Marcus, Saks, and numerous other high-end stores—after an afternoon of shopping. It was the middle of the day, with people out enjoying the nice weather, and I was moseying down Wisconsin Avenue, with my Booeymonger’s iced tea in one hand and a shopping bag (probably from Ann Taylor Loft—I can’t be sure, but really, what are the odds?) in the other, minding my own business.

A lady was approaching from the other direction on the sidewalk. She was pushing a Cart O’Stuff, as many of the homeless in this city do, and she appeared to be talking to herself, but that’s not really all that unusual in this town, so I thought nothing of it. But then! Our respective paths met, and she suddenly yelled “AAAAHHHHH!” and hauled off and walloped me—HARD—in the arm with an umbrella!


I, obviously, picked up the pace to get away from the crazy lady, who had proceeded in the other direction as if nothing had happened. But a half-a-block later, I abruptly stopped, looked around wildly to see if anyone had witnessed the proceedings (there was no one else in the vicinity), and said, loudly, to no one in particular, “Did that SERIOUSLY just happen?!”

And that, friends, is the story of The Time I Was Assaulted By a Homeless Woman in Broad Daylight on Wisconsin Avenue. Not in Anacostia, or northeast DC, or even the more questionable areas downtown, but in tony* upscale, normal FRIENDSHIP FREAKING HEIGHTS.

*UPDATED Friday at 1:36PM:
Dude. Never have I received so much ridicule as for this stupid adjective. IT'S A WORD. confirms it! It comes up as a synonym for "stylish". Don't you people read?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So much for the laundry

The problem with stumbling across a Band of Brothers marathon on the History Channel is that, suddenly, your whole day is shot.

That said, I can't quite reconcile the fact that one of my favorite characters is played by one of the New Kids on the Block.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Well, it's a post, anyway.

Oh. Hello! I…sort of forgot I had a blog. But G reprimanded me last week for not posting recently: “SOME of us use your blog to procrastinate at work.”

Um, yeah, that’s what I use it for, too. Which also why I have not been writing. My work days have been packed from top to bottom. No time for blogging or, you know, reading

(Know how long it’s been since I’ve had a spare minute to read People at work? I somehow managed to totally miss that Jen and Ben had their new baby. ON JANUARY 6. I just found this out last week. I saw “Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck” and was like, eh? who? what? So I’ve been in a hole, is what I’m saying. But I digress.)

Spring is here, which I know because in the last week I’ve found holes or runs in three pairs of pantyhose and tights. I never run my hose, so clearly this is the universe’s way of saying enough already with the winter clothes!

Anyway, I have done one or two other things in recent weeks, which I shall recount for you now.


Finally saw Slumdog Millionaire a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it. However, I find that the much-hyped “best movie of the year” type films rarely live up to said hype. Not that they aren’t good—even great—but I’m frequently just a tad disappointed. I felt the same way about Juno. (The exception to this is Little Miss Sunshine, which was completely delightful.)


I discovered an almost-new canister of Country Time pink lemonade in my cabinet and consumed the whole thing in the course of a weekend.


Normally I’m a novel person, but I’ve plowed through three non-fiction books—Blink (Malcolm Gladwell), 1776 (David McCullough), and A Year in the World (Frances Mayes) in a row in the last few weeks, plus the John Adams HBO miniseries. I cannot say enough about how good it is.


Last weekend I went to see JS compete at the National Trumpet Competition in Fairfax. It was fun. He, as usual, was incredible. The judges obviously agreed, as he got 3rd place in his division.


I had the good fortune to pick up the wrong bag of chips at the store, which led to my first experience with Ruffles Baked Cheddar and Sour Cream. They are entirely addictive, yet not all that unhealthy! You know, as potato chips go.


In the course of exactly one day—specifically, Friday, March 13—I went from two planned trips this summer to about seven. Which means I will probably not be getting that new TV just yet.


Lots of wedding-y fun these days, too. Bridesmaid dress purchased, hotels booked, flights researched (WHY THE HELL IS IT SO EXPENSIVE TO FLY TO ATLANTA?!), showers and bachelorettes scheduled, hours-worth of music listened to and scripture researched for Jules, and one oboe player tentatively booked.


How great have the little teams been in the NCAA tournament so far?! I was so proud of American and ETSU in their first round games against Villanova and Pitt. In the interest of full disclosure, though, my bracket would have been completely busted if ETSU had won—I have Pitt winning the entire tournament. We’ll see.


Oh, and I still have not taken my Christmas tree down. Not because I’m trying to hang on to the holiday season, but because keep forgetting. At this point, I barely notice it. And yes, I realize how ridiculous this is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Christmas Miracle

Holy Pete, ya’ll. I totally forgot to tell you about my Christmas miracle. I was saving it for an Epiphany story but overshot the 12th day of Christmas by…um…58 days. Oops.

Ok, so. The story begins on a cold December afternoon in 2004. I am at a shoe store with my mother, where I am searching for a pair of black boots for my semester abroad. They must be versatile—for wearing with suits, skirts, and jeans—comfortable for walking, and without crazy-tall heels. I find them. They are on sale. They are delightful. Mission accomplished.

Cut to late January, approximately nine days after arrival in London. My boots and I are at a supremely Eurotrashy, um, coffee shop near Leicester Square, where my friends and I have been dragged by one supremely aggressive roommate. It is hot, horribly crowded, and you can’t hear yourself think. Someone steps, hard, on my left foot, crushing the toe of the boot. The damage, though cosmetic only, is seemingly irreparable, though they are otherwise pristine.

Sad boot.

For five years, I wear them anyway, upwards of three days a week during the October to April chilly period. I have them reheeled annually and resoled twice. Shoe polish provides temporary luster, but the boots are past their prime. A looong way past it. They start to look rather worn and beaten—in no small part due to the oddly-creased toe—but I love them to much to replace them. Casual searches for new pairs only reaffirm the perfection of the originals—real leather, versatile, comfy, a pleasing and unexpected patchwork pattern on the leg shaft. Gosh darnit, I’d traveled Britain and Europe in those boots. We have HISTORY.

Historical Boots -- See how the toe is all mangled?

Fast forward to December 21, 2009, nearly five years to the week after the purchase of The Boots. I’m at church, talking to my mother and Mrs. O, my old piano teacher, when across the room I spot, beneath a blue choir robe, a pair of boots that look remarkably similar to mine. “Hey!” I exclaim, shocked. “Those are my boots!” Mrs. O looks puzzled. I explain the Saga of The Boots.

“I have those boots. I never wear them. Do you want them?” she asks.
“The same boots?”
“Same boots.”
“Probably not actually the same boots. I got mine five years ago,” I respond doubtfully, not wanting to get my hopes up.
“I did too, and they look just like that. Anyway, they’re eight-and-a-halfs. What size do you wear?”
“EIGHT-AND-A-HALF.” I hardly dare to believe that such a thing might be possible.
“Are they Liz Claiborne?”
“I think so.”
“What color is the lining?”
“Mine are purple.” Oh, piffle.
“Maybe they are purple, I don’t remember, I never wear them.”

The next day, I go to Mrs. O’s house. The boots are sitting in their original box, looking like new. The soles have no marks on them. They are THE SAME BOOTS. THE EXACT SAME BOOTS. And she gives them to me. And lo, I am overjoyed, and there is much celebrating throughout the land.

The! Same! Boots! but not crushed.

“This is like Christmas!!!” I exclaim. And it is. Since it's, you know, three days before Christmas.

And that, my friends, is my Christmas miracle.