Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Move along sister.

"Even as I lived it, that first autumn in the adult world felt as vivid as memory:  bright and breezy and so warm that I strolled bare-legged into October and a future that at last seemed mine to inscribe, thrilled through and through.  If he had felt something of that, we probably would have lasted a little longer, though I don't kid myself that we wouldn't have outgrown each other sooner rather than later.  Besides, I'd fallen for another -- my heart now belonged to boundless, inconstant possibility. Had I been seduced by the fickle idea that someone more perfect might be waiting around the corner?  I had, but it wasn't only that -- I also believed a more perfect me could be waiting there, too, just beyond the turn in the road."  ~Hephzibah Anderson, Chastened

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

"The Monster of Florence" is a 2008 true crime book by American author Douglas Preston and Italian journalist Mario Spezi.  When Preston chased a dream of moving his family to Italy, he discovered that the olive grove in front of their 14th century farmhouse had been the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer known as the Monster of Florence (who coincidentally inspired the novel Hannibal by Thomas Harris).  Spezi spent much of his career tracking the Monster of Florence, and shortly after the two met, they decided to wipe the dust off the cold case.
This is the true story of their search for the real Monster, and their first-hand accounts of just how dysfunctional Italy's judicial system really is.  I mean wow.  Case in point:  while writing the book, both of the authors themselves became targets of the police investigation, their phones tapped, harshly interrogated, forcing Preston to flee back to the US.  Spezi ends up thrown into an Italian prison, accused of being the Monster himself.  Not only does there appear to be no rule of law in that country, but the masses and their leaders seem completely obsessed by "dietrologia" -- the Italian word for "the science of what is behind."  According to Preston, dietrologia is a toxic condition in Italy; Italians refuse to believe simple factual explanations and always search for something hidden behind the facts which they're convinced provides the real explanation.  This clearly infected judicial system in the Monster case, as attorneys, judges and police chiefs ignored rational explanations and patterns of the serial killings (at one point the FBI even took the liberty of sending a prototype of the killer which was ignored), and instead obsessed over fabricated satanic cults and implausible religious practices.  There were five different men arrested for these crimes, all at different times, all under different wacky theories, half of which were eventually released.  That would never happen in the US (thank heavens)!
Sound familiar?  Briefly mentioned in this book is the similar plight of Amanda Knox (a.k.a. "foxy knoxy"), an American student studying abroad in Perugia (ironically the same town where the Monster trials were held) who was convicted of murdering her roommate, despite the fact some African dude had already been found guilty and sentenced to what has ended up being less time in prison than Amanda and her boyfriend.  And to top it all off, the Italian government is now suing her for defamation as a result of her testifying she was beat up during her interrogations!
Great read, great dabble into non-fiction, and an important lesson:  be on your best behavior while vacationing in Italy for the love of everything sacred and holy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 Resolutions

What a fantastic Florida holiday!  4 full days of ping-ponging around the sunshine state, visiting as many friends and family as humanly possible.  I couldn't see them all, but managed to see tons of wonderful Floridians who are all very close to my heart. A great way to end 2010! 

2010 was a superlative year:  29th birthday (yikes!), loads of travel, lots of old friends and even some new, more family time than usual (which is always a treat), a sweet promotion at work, tons of half marys along with another full marathon, tons 'o books under the belt, and a few special weddings, among other things.  But there is always room for improvement and one must continue to better oneself!  Thus the new year's resolution...

I have finally made mine (and reserve the right to add more between now and the stroke of midnight on the 31st) and encourage y'all to consider how you could make 2011 even better than 2010 was.  Life is way too short to regret not making the most of it friends!  So here are mine:

1.  A tad cliche, but I'm going back on the 'ol diet (please see picture of pecan bars and shortbread, only a few of my delicious, gluttonous holiday indulgences compliments of Mumsie).  My jeans are just a little tighter than I'd like after my serious running days of 2010 have passed, and I refuse to break out the fat clothes.  My last two months of eating and lounging was great, but I need to lay off the bubbly and get serious about boot camp and winter running!  Cold outdoor exercise or BUST.

2.  Maintain my new double-sided list of (1) "things I can control and will allow to bother me" (e.g., what I eat, how much I exercise, how cluttered my condo is at any given moment, what I accomplish (or don't) on my weekends and weeknights, etc.); and (2) "things I can't control and won't allow to make me crazy" (e.g., human resources (my GOD the incompetence!) and their thwarting the timing of my promotion, crazy people at work, crazy people anywhere for that matter, and other things that shall remain nameless that I just can't control).  This has been a remarkably fruitful exercise for me and it is most certainly worth bringing along into 2011.

3.  Breathe, let go, and move on.  This is very related to #2 and my issues with control, but deserves its own number.  I need to learn from what I'm still convinced was a big mistake as of late and move on with life.  Things happen for a reason, and sometimes you don't know the reason until much later (cue in Garth Brooks's corny-*ss "Sometimes I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers").  When you miss someone or something, and you can't control where or when they fit into your life, acknowledge it, send it positive energy, and let it continue through the universe to where it belongs.  No I am not on drugs and I still think hippies are weird.

4.  I'm tempted to put something here about running a marathon in record time (as in below 4:15), but I"ll pencil that one in for now.  I run best when I don't put massive amounts of pressure on myself, and it setting a tough goal can really take the fun out of a race. So I'm just kidding about the time, unless I've trained well in this awful cold and feel good on race day, in which case I'm totally serious.

Good luck with your resolutions - we've almost got another year under our belts!  xo

The present.

"What is it?  My dear?"
"Ah, how can we bear it?"
"Bear what?"
"This.  For so short a time. How can we sleep this time away?"
"We can be quiet together, and pretend -- since it is only the beginning -- that we have all the time in the world."
"And every day we shall have less.  And then none."
"Would you rather, therefore, have had nothing at all?"
"No.  This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began.  And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run.  But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere."

~A.S. Byatt, Possession

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Cursing Mommy

Reviewing the New Yorker's "best of 2010" rankings, I'm reminded just how much I love Shouts & Murmurs, a completely absurd column in the weekly magazine.  One of my favorite recurring characters is the cursing mommy, who - you guessed it - has a potty mouth and is probably saying what most of us gals are thinking during one particular week of each month. 

Treat yourselves to a laugh as the Cursing Mommy Cooks Italian.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Bonfire was named after a bonfire?

Who knew?!  Probably most of your brilliant, cultured selves.  But yours truly thought "Bonfire of the Vanities" was just a clever title from the dapper Tom Wolfe (and I just realized I never formally book reviewed Bonfire but only casually mentioned it in my Hamptons trip blog- shame on me!).  But as I was reading last night, I found a historical reference that indicated that the real bonfire wasn't a sketchy hit-and-run in the Bronx, but rather an actual fire that happened centuries ago in Florence, home of the Renaissance and birthplace of modern western culture.

Let me set the scene:  so I'm at home, having a glass 'o vino (from a box, no less) in my poodle pajamas and thumbing through my current book club assignment of "Hunchback of Notre Dame."  Well, I'm mildly ashamed to say that it happens to the best of us...I just WASN'T feeling it folks.  I didn't want to read Victor Hugo- I was in the mood for something juicy.  And Esmerelda and Quasimodo just weren't whetting my whistle as they were frolicking the medieval cathedral grounds in preparation for the Pope's next visit.  So in order to fulfill my longing for a steamy, emo romance, I decide to jump into a...nonfiction account of Florence, Italy's most famous serial killer?  Bingo!

I'll save the full book review for later, but come to find out there were actual burnings of objects that were deemed to be occasions of sin.  The most infamous one took place on February 7, 1497, when supporters of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects like cosmetics (GASP- not my Mearle Norman!), art, and books in Florence on the Mardi Gras festival.  The focus of this destruction was on objects that might tempt one to sin, including "vanity" items such as mirrors, makeup, fine dresses, playing cards and musical instruments, along with juicy books and manuscripts of secular songs.  Here's the 'ol sport now, livin' the dream:

And there's your history lesson for the day lovelies.  Hope you all have a very merry Christmas and enjoy the holiday with your families.  I am headed to Florida for a few days of celebration and can't wait to see Mumsie et al (as well as an interlude + midnight mass with the lovely Jessi-Anne).

Merry Christmas!  xo

Monday, December 13, 2010

One of many lessons it took me 29 years to learn

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost."    ~Anonymous

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Marathons just got harder

Good news and bad news darlings.  The good news:  I've signed up for my third full marathon!  The bad news:  I'll be training through the winter, starting NOW.  As in this morning, when the temperature was 25 degrees with wind gusts exceeding 25 mph (not sure what that equals in a wind chill, but it was so cold and windy I ended up with a bloody nose!). 

Here's the course:

I've been taking some challenging but fun outdoor boot camp classes with the laaaaadies in the chilly weather lately, and I was feeling a little ball-sy, so I thought I'd challenge myself with to the ultimate test:  spending copious amounts of time outdoors during the winter months.  I hate the cold!  I'm from Florida y'all and Mid-Atlantic winters are NOT my natural habitat to say the very least!  So we'll see how this goes.  Either I end up with thicker skin during the colder half of the year from here on out, or I end up pissed off and in bed with pneumonia.  Either way I'll be cold!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Review: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Given the fact that I'm an active member of two book clubs, my reading list is not my own lately.  Granted one of the book clubs is solely dedicated to steamrolling through the classics, which I aspire to do long-term, but between classics that weren't necessarily on my short list (e.g., more Oscar Wilde) and my other book club which, bless its heart, hasn't led to the most satisfying lit, my personal reading list is gathering dust (neither here nor there, but to all of you who have recommended books my way, I promise I haven't forgotten!)  Though I will say my gossip/wine book club has salvaged some decent reads as of late (well, I chose Bonfire of the Vanities last month), including Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin."  Of course in typical fashion I'll have more negative than positive to report, but overall it was a thoughtful read and imparted a healthy serving of dog-eared pages and underlining on account of some introspective moments.

In one sentence:  it was a city-fied, second grade attempt at another Olive Kitteridge (see her book review here).  Emo vignettes that were out of chronological order and all somehow related.  Some of McCann's vignettes were well done - particularly of the brothers' childhood in Dublin and when he otherwise set the stage for the layers of his characters.  But the man should stick to subtleties (really, shouldn't they all?) because his attempts at drama were frantic and phony.  And he should've asked a woman's help on capturing and portraying the complexities of a female protagonist - it's pretty obvious the author is a dude trying to write for a bird.  Last, but not least, crafting a series of events around Phillippe Petit's narcissistic stunt (yet defended as a philanthropic act for humanity? Have you seen the documentary about this guy??) of tightrope walking between the Twin Towers is just...poor form.  Watch the documentary and you'll agree- Phillippe Petit is a talented nut who loves himself too much even to the standards of his fellow Frenchmen, yet swears he does it all for the greater good (if you find the connection, please enlighten me).

I will say there were touching moments that cut deep, and his portrayal of Irish men is uncanny.  You become unexpectedly attached to a few of his characters, like Tillie the hooker who explains that "sometimes I just felt like a needle in a jukebox.  I just fell on that groove and rode awhile.  Then I'd pick the dust off and drop again."  And you fall in love with the unlikely pair of brothers, the Corrigans.  It all ends in sweet tragedy and makes you want to pick up the phone and tell someone you love them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tennessee throwdown

Friends I hope we all had as fabulous of a holiday as I did.  Let's just say day one and I'm drunk with my mother in my poodle pajamas, singing Herman's Hermits at the top of my lungs in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  Now if that doesn't bring a tear to your eye in the spirit of the holiday season, I don't know what will.

A good night's sleep and a few aspirin later, we managed to pull ourselves together and accomplish a day's worth of chores, holiday-style, most of which revolved around which outfit the Tiny Sheriff would be wearing, discerning whether the Tiny Sheriff was in fact still hungry/thirsty, and, most importantly, determining the Tiny Sheriff's mood, which ranges from pissed off to extremely pissed off.  All in all a productive venture!  And even with time to spare to take Paula Deen up on her challenge of the month:  decide for yourself which shrimp 'n grits recipe really is the best.  Well, folks, my momma isn't one to blaspheme the mistress of the south, so we took an evening to settle the great debate once and for all.

First we cut up all the ingredients and put them in their own brightly-colored wares just like Paula would do on her own show. And then we were so worn out from our labors we snapped some pictures, had a cocktail, and briefly commented on how the Tiny Sheriff may or may not need to put on her doggie snuggie because she was looking cold and particularly pissed off.  Then we realized the grits take over an hour to cook and why the sam hill did we spend the last hour aimelessly chopping veggies for the money shot.  Idiots.

ANYWHO.  We finally figured it was time, as sister would say, to TCOB (take care of business).  Frank Stitt's sophisticated recipe included yellow grits seasoned with fontina cheese, and shrimp sauteed with white wine and various flavorful veggies, such as sweet tomatoes, chives and green onions.

Paula's spicy, low-country creation (which I've made before and thoroughly enjoyed) included white grits seasoned with sharp cheddar, and shrimp sauteed in bacon grease (yikes), chopped peppers, and creole seasoning.

All paired with some tasty libations including, from the left, a rose I brought back from a small winery in the Hamptons (I must've been a few glasses in when I tried it this summer because it tasted like shiz), Sarah's Patio Red from Virginia's Chrysalis winery - a family favorite and highly recommended!- a very light, sweet red served chilled, and, randomly pictured, a delicious Malbec/Tempranillo blend Mumsie brought to the cabin from Florida.
We finished our mad, chaotic, double-burner showdown and each sat down with one bowl of each in order to sip, stir, munch and scrutinize.  We decided we ever so slightly preferred Frank's subtle, more sophisticated  flavor's over Paula's cajun overload, but we thoroughly enjoyed both and filled up for second helpings of each (with a small morsel or two for the Sheriff herself).
 And that was our Thanksgiving break throwdown folks!  The rest of the weekend was full of more feasting, some college football (RIP Florida Gators), plenty more libations and tons 'o reading, which will produce more book reviews in the near future.  (The photo-documentation is dedicated to Miss Jessi-Anne and her colorful food blog that always makes my stomach growl.)  xo 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Outside, there were two tickets in the window of the Pontiac -- a parking fine, and one for a smashed headlight.  It was enough to almost knock me sideways.  Before I drove home to the cabin, I went back to the window of the bar and shaded my eyes against the glass, looked in.  Ciaran was at the counter, his arms folded and his chin on his wrist, talking to the bartender.  He glanced up in my direction and I froze.  Quickly I turned away.  There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they will never see the surface.

There is, I think, a fear of love.

There is a fear of love.

~Colum McCann, "Let the Great World Spin."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My what momentum this splendid year has had!  Thanksgiving is already upon us and it feels like just yesterday I was flip-flopping on DC's steamy sidewalks, barely able to find an hour cool enough to fit in my morning run.  Now I'm preparing for sister and Jonny to pick me up at 6am on my corner (WORK IT, OWN IT) so we can head for the Smokies for 5 days of family fun.  I am beyond excited to spend the entire time with mumsie (and of course the tiny sheriff), sipping vino, laughing, and sharing stream of consciousness thoughts and ideas as I am only truly capable of doing with mumsie herself.  All with the beautiful backdrop of eastern Tennessee and the cool, soothing lake Cheleque!

More than ever I find myself at a loss of where to start counting my blessings.  I have been blessed more than I could've ever imagined; never when I was a little girl growing up in our trailer sweet trailer (for reals) did I dream I'd be an accomplished city femme, calling my own shots, traveling the planet and keeping world class company.  Especially in light of some of the stories I've heard of mumsie's students this year:  one in particular is a heart-wrenching tale of a kid who never had a chance and will always struggle to eat, read, work - things we all take for granted.  Reality checks are important and have their way of bringing me down from my educated, well-dressed, well-traveled circles of friends and colleagues.  And even though my involvement with Washington's Junior League has been mostly limited to fundraising and enabling wealthy women to shop at events, I'm coming off a fulfilling weekend of helping raise around $200,000 to give directly back to literacy causes in Washington - a cause I hope to continue supporting any way I can.  All of that random shiz being said, this year's perspective makes me more thankful than ever for:

1.  My life.  My decisions haven't always been easy, and I sometimes worried I was walking away from what I'd always been told equalled happiness.  But things truly do happen for a reason and trusting that has led me to an amazing existence in a fantastic city, doing stimulating work I believe in.  I worked hard, but that was only a small part of getting here, and I'm deeply thankful for all of the help I've had along the way.

2.  My mom.  She has always been the most supportive person in my life, and now that I'm the age she was when she was raising two kids as a single mother (at a whopping salary of $8,600 I just learned!), I'm more amazed than ever at her strength and resourcefulness.  I don't know anyone else who could've done what you did, Mom, and Kaycee and I are the women we are because of you.

3.  My support network. Between family and friends, I have never felt helpless or alone for one moment in my life.  What an amazing blessing.

4.  Books and wine and Taylor Swift.


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and do enjoy every moment you spend with your family.  You never know when you'll live far from home and those moments will be rare and precious!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Party in the USA

Oh gosh what a fabulous few weeks.  Working hard.  Playing hard.  Not really sleeping hard, but I'm hoping to start chipping away at the backlog tonight.  One of my most recent weeknight adventures took place on the USS Sequoia, the presidential yacht (well, it was the presidential yacht until President Carter decided it was bad form to be using taxes to float around in a yacht, so he sold it).  A few rockstars at work met the owner and charmed him into giving us a screamin' deal on throwing a party, so before you know it I was aboard one Friday evening with around 25 of the DOE's young and hip scene.  Not only did we get to peek into the bedroom where JFK and Marilyn Monroe...*ahem*...retired for the evening after she sang him "Happy Birthday Mr. President" at Carnegie Hall, but we also held our own Michael Jackson dance party on the roof while it was conspicuously tied to the Cantina Marina dock on Washington's southwest waterfront (a refreshing splash 'o tacky for all of you non-Washingtonians).

(below is the bedroom *wink wink*)

Last night's energy extracurriculars took place at the Mandarin Oriental bar with some of my favorite coworkers.  Great spot- and thank goodness- because it's just about the only cocktail watering hole anywhere close to the office.  But, as I've expressed before, I am incapable of staying up past midnight without being completely wrecked the next day and this was no exception.  I looked like complete, haggard shiz at work, stuffed my face with the disgusting, greasy cafeteria buffet fare at lunch (GENTLEMEN:  "FARE" AS IN FOOD, NOT AS IN A CARNIVAL.  Let me speak for all of us when I say that ladies are *not* impressed when you misspell this in your texts.  Kthx.), and left an hour early because I was nodding off in my office.

Which brings me to my next point:  goodnight darlings!  xo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Hello dahlinks!  How are we all holding up out there?  Reading and being your lovely, curious selves?  I've been reading, but not from my leisure selection, nor at what I'd call a leisurely pace.  I've been working around the clock- for reals.  Literally burned through both of the last weekends and am pulling some serious evening shifts, reading all about light subjects such as renewable energy technologies, solar tax rebates, combined heat generators, wind turbines and distributed generation, among lots of other things.  Not nearly as bad as it sounds- I'm really enjoying the info absorption and (at the risk of jinxing myself...yikes) it could lead to a SERIOUS new opportunity at work.  And that's all I can share about that right now because big brother is watching and I'm not trying to get my damn self in trouble.

Back to the book, which was a very thorough read though not the most brilliant collection of prose.  Upton Sinclair, socialist extraordinaire, painted a very detailed (and what turned out to be epic) snapshot of Chicago's meat packing industry during the early 20th century.  While he intended the book to bring light to the awful turn of the century labor conditions, an epidemic he called "wage slavery," most people (including yours truly) couldn't get past how completely and utterly GROSSED OUT they were after reading about the beef industry in the Chicago stockyards.  Very graphic and very nasty.  As a matter of fact, nearly one month later and I have finally dabbled back into red meat (beef stew in the crockpot on Sundee and it was delish if I do say so myself).  So, much to Sinclair's chagrin, this masterpiece inadvertently became a huge advocacy tool for exposing the lack of meat safety and incited enough public momentum to create today's Food and Drug Administration.  Who knew!  I'll have some nasty meat tales with a side of big government!

A little more about our main mang:  Upton Sinclair is buried in St. Paul's Rock Creek Cemetery (along with Tim Russert, interestingly enough), a stone's throw (well, a metro ride + a sketchy walk that I'd only attempt from the approximate hours of 12pm to 2pm) from chez moi.  Not to mention, his book "Oil!" was the basis for the film "There Will be Blood"- and we all know my hopeless adoration for Daniel Plainview and his son, H.W.

And that's a wrap, folks.  This book was a great choice for any Washington bureaucrat to mark off the 'ol bucket list, but aside from its historical significance, I thought the characters were too pathetic to strike any realistic empathy (though empathy has admittedly never been my strong suit), and the narrative was very average.  Onto my next read (sandwiched between a few renewable energy conference summaries), and I suggest you all do the same!  Because TV is getting worse by the day and we've got to do SOMETHING at home while we drink wine in our underwear!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Facebook amateur hour

Part of the reason why any self-respecting, overly-opinionated, closet loud-mouth would create a blog is so they can quasi-publicly share opinions that are too sweeping for facebook, right?  (Please see one of my recent soapbox moments about an example of an utter lack of facebook etiquette that my diplomatic...err...wimpy self would never have the nerve to air live on the networking site itself!)

Well here's an average evening for you kids at home:  I crank up the 'ol laptop while nursing a glass of red and watching Wolf Blitzer's mini @ss commentate tonight's election results (one word:  depressing), and I get a facebook friend request from some yahoo named "Michael Adams" who allegedly went to high school with me.  The name doesn't ring a bell, so I check his page and here's his profile picture:

This is a true story folks.  I'm surrounded by morons.  Who shall inadvertently remain anonymous because I have no flipping CLUE who they are and any opportunity they have at ringing a bell in my rusty memory is wasted on a posted picture of some homemade vehicle contraption.  If I seem to be talking generally like this happens semi-frequently...that's because it does.  I probably have 10 (give or take) facebook friend requests indefinitely sitting in facebook friend purgatory because (1) I don't recognize the name of said "friend" (who in all honesty I probably did go to school with at some point- y'all think you know but you have no idea); and (2) I can't put a face with a name because the face is some vehicle that may or may not have been purchased in a Desert Storm-themed yard sale.


And just like that, I finished my second full marathon y'all.  The 35th Marine Corps Marathon, held on Halloween 2010.  'Twas a lovely day in the District and Biscuit and I scooted our old hineys* past the finish line almost 15 minutes faster than we did last year, which was an amazing feat considering (1) we were both severely under-trained; and (2) we literally walked the last 7 miles.  Makes me wonder what in the shiz I was doing last year.  (*A highlight during the run occurred when Biscuit asked me how I was feeling at approximately mile 14, to which I responded "my old knees are hanging in there."  This comment caught the attention of a little old man running behind us, and injected him with enough energy to pass us quickly and tell us we were, in fact, NOT old and he didn't appreciate the comment.  Sheesh!)

Here's a picture of my very own cheering section (who were holding a sign that read "Bless all y'all"):

In related news, my podcast this morning retold the story of the very first marathon, which originated as the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought), which took place in August or September, 490 BC.  It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won.') before collapsing and dying.  I feel 'ya, Pheidippides 'ol sport!  So do three of my toenails who similarly collapsed and died upon crossing the finish line.  RIP all. 

Last related marathon note, CNN is reporting this morning that a Chilean miner is planning on competing in this weekend's NYC Marathon less than one month after being rescued.  I'd say that if Biscuit and I can do it, anyone can, but this guy is just flat out asking for an intimate rendez-vous with a mid-course medical tent.

Happy Tuesday, darlings!  Enjoy the brisk weather and reward yourselves with some low fat eggnog- it's now on sale in Safeway and you know I'll enjoy a glass while I put up my Christmas decorations this weekend!  (Fair game after Halloween folks.)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

I would honestly like to know:  are we ever going to get some decent fall weather in the District?  I've just about had it with my only two options being plastering my 'fro to my head or looking like a Treasure Troll wandering the streets of DC.  It's nearly November and I'm scared to change my wardrobe because surely some other 80 degree monsoon is lurking around the corner.

ANYWHO.  Back to the book review.  Though I'm not sure I can seriously review this little morsel.  It was a summer reading choice for one of my book clubs (Yes.  I'm in two book clubs.), point being that it was a crack pop love story that would be easy to read, perhaps, while aimlessly bobbing in some body of water with a cocktail in your hand (or whatever else it is you people do for your summers).  Dexter Mahew and Emma Morley bob and weave in and out of a life long cat-and-mouse game, which had its surprisingly charming moments, and its more unsurprisingly dull ones.  Not what I'd call clever (which we all know is my holy grail for literature, music, men, life), but it had its own warmth that inadvertently attached you fondly to the characters and would result in moderate sadness if, say, one of them were to die at the end just after they finally found love.

Whoops!  Spoiler alert.  My B!  Not like any of y'all would deep dive into this high-grade smut.  And it's really the only eventful thing in the whole flipping 450 pages (Promise I wouldn't spoil a good one!  Honest!).  Tragedy is delicious, especially when it's foreshadowed by a bit 'o haunting- which reminds me, Happy Halloween!...
She philosophically noted dates as they came past in the revolution of the ear;...her own birthday; and every other day individualized by incidents in which she had taken some share.  She suddenly thought one afternoon, when looking in the glass at her fairness, that there was yet another date, of greater importance to her than those; that of her own death, when all these charms would have disappeared; a day which lay sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there.  When was it?  ~ Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rain rain go away...

...come back on Sunday so they'll cancel the marathon.  HA.  Not really - I mean, just because I'm undertrained from taking 2.5 weeks off due to some pesky injury doesn't mean everyone else should be robbed of their day of glory.  But for reals I could use a wish right nooow wish right nooow wish right nooow.

Hold on to your hineys because momma's got the writin' bug tonight.  And it's been nearly one month since I've been even remotely interested in hanging out with my laptop at home so we have lots to catch up on friends!

First stop:  American History Friday Series!  As we all know, I work an extra hour per day and somehow the federal government thinks that means I deserve every other Friday off.  Well my momma told me never to look a gift horse in the mouth so I breeze out of headquarters every other Thursday with the top down and don't look back (not my top y'all...speaking figuratively here).  And with my insatiable curiosity and lack of a primary history education (thanks for nothing Gilchrist County), the only logical choice for my Fridays was to enforce a mandatory American History Friday Series.  America, you sassy sassy minx!  Here are some highlights of late:

The Pope-Leighy house is Frank Lloyd Wright's (to be confused with Howard Rourke) only work in the DC area.  Unfortunately the tiny man who gave me the tour wouldn't let me snap any pics inside, not to mention my digital camera bit the big one on this outing (RIP), so all I have is this camera phone documentation.  Lovely house and oh so FLW.  If you haven't read about this man's personal life or visited any of his brilliant architectural masterpieces, call in sick tomorrow and do something with your life!  And hope you never get stuck on a tasteful tour of one of his homes with me because I can't stop running my yapper about his torrid affair with Mamah Cheney and gosh can you just believe it all?! (Which undoubtedly makes the tiny man wonder who's giving this tour anyway?)

Two Fridays later, I hopped on the train for a long-overdue trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. *yawn* Folks, if you grew up in Florida and began your aquatic adventures at Sea World as a child, spare yourself the $25 and don't waste your time in aquariums. Period. I wandered through stinky isles of fish pools and plastic replicas of coral reefs, just waiting to turn a corner and pet a sting ray or walk through a glass tunnel within a massive shark tank. Instead I turned a corner and found more stinky fish pools and more plastic replicas of nature's aquatic wonders. But I will say I was thrilled to finally discover (1) the world's smallest species of monkey, the pygmy marmoset (this image doesn't do him justice so please feast your eyes upon this google image search); and (2) a group of lizards is called a "lounge."

And (drum roll please), during my most recent trip to Vegas for the lovely Jan Smith's nuptials, I arrived early and managed to rent a car and drive out to see the Hoover Dam! Holy smokes! This place is one huge terrifying mass of huge-ness and I loved every minute of exploring it! 

Above is a picture of the dam, which I took while dangling from the newly-opened Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge below (seriously scary y'all):

And there you have it folks:  American History Friday Series.  Though admittedly most of this has little to do with history.  American Friday Series?  And there goes my writing bug because I'm fresh out of narrative and giving bedroom eyes to my big, comfy bed at the ripe hour of 8pm. 
Sweet dreams darlings!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reading (or not) as of late

I couldn't do it.  I just. couldn't. finish. this. book.

And I chose it for our book club meeting!  For shame.

Heller's stream of consciousness, war-time, trite attempts at being clever were just too disorganized and sporadic and I couldn't take more than 200 pages without feeling like I was punishing myself.

So, friends, if you enjoyed this read, snaps to you!  Because I thought it sucked and can't believe it's been heralded as a best seller of our time!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New York state of mind?

Tom Wolfe's describes some interesting northeastern religious tension...which is almost exactly the opposite of the southern experience (Catholic, Protestant and Jewish balances):
The Mayor shook his head some more.  He found the Christian churches baffling.  When he was growing up, the goyim were all Catholics, unless you counted the shvartzer, which nobody did.  They didn't even rate being called goyim.  The Catholics were two types, the Irish and the Italians.  The Irish were stupid and liked to fight and inflict pain.  The Italians were stupid and slob-like.  Both were unpleasant, but the lineup was easy enough to comprehend.  He was in college before he realized there was this whole other set of goyim, the Protestants.  He never saw any.  There were only Jews, Irishmen, and Italians in college, but he heard about them, and he learned that some of the most famous people in New York were this type of goyim, the Protestants, people like the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, the Astors, the Morgans.  The term Wasp was invented much later.  The Protestants were split up into such a crazy bunch of sects nobody could even keep track of them all.  It was all very pagan and spooky, when it wasn't ridiculous.  They were all worshipping some obscure Jew from halfway around the world.  The Rockefellers were!  The Roosevelts even!  Very spooky it was, and yet these Protestants ran the biggest law firms, the banks, the investment houses, the big corporations.  He never saw such people in the flesh, except at ceremonies.  Otherwise they didn't exist in New York.  They barely even showed up in the voting surveys.  In sheer numbers they were a nullity - and yet there they were.  And now one of these sects, the Episcopalians, had a black bishop.  You could joke about the Wasps, and he often did so with his friends, and yet they weren't so much funny as creepy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Post-labor day blues? Probably not.

Happy fall y'all!  I must admit that I preempted the season by giving myself a mani last night with Lancome's lovely dark purple shade from fall 2009.  One of my favorite things about fall (aside from college football of course) is dark nail polish- such a UK classic touch and it always reminds me of my lovely Scottish friend Lucy who introduced me to edgy manis- and I'm really excited to have just nailed down a weekend to visit her in Manhattan.  First weekend in December, I'm big apple-bound to see the only woman I know who can drink more champagne than I can.  I'll drink to that!

Speaking of Lucy and running, here we are at last year's New York Marathon cheering on her sweet husband Stewart and friends (homemade signs and all)- such a fun day and I would love to run this race myself next year!

More great news:  Biscuit and I both finished our half mary in under two hours!  I would post pics of us at the finish but I'd just been at elevated (try 10 out of 10), complete physical exertion for nearly two hours and let's just say I look the part.  Biscuit smoked me by 3 minutes, which is typical for her speedy little self.  While thrilled with my personal record ("PR" in runner lingo), the run was not my best and the entire two hours were a true struggle.  I'm afraid despite its dormant years, I haven't fully outgrown my exercise-induced asthma (was diagnosed in high school but haven't had problems since mid-college) and I'm making an appointment with a doc to get back on the inhaler train.  From mile 1 my chest was so tight I could barely breath- not the greatest conditions for 13.1 miles in the summer heat.  Makes me even more proud of the accomplishment because it was such a struggle.  Onto this weekend's race:  Parks Half Marathon in Bethesda, MD.  I'm allowed to shoot the breeze this time, given my goal was met in Daytona...err...Virginia Beach.

Hope y'all had a lovely Labor Day and are enjoying your four day work week! x

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New season, new style.

Happy Wednesday, lovelies.  At 6pm tomorrow, I officially start a 4-day weekend, which will be a much-needed sanctuary from all of the secretarial shiz my boss has been tasking me with lately.  Thank God I have my own intellectual and professional curiosity; otherwise my brain would rust over and I'd have dropped three reading levels by now.

But on to lighter topics, such as my utter and complete lack of style.  I have been wearing the same crap since high school- literally.  I've never been a serious shopper, and my sister somehow managed to usurp all of the trendy genes from the pool.  I need to ditch my gap jeans and polos and get some fall basics that will give me a little more of an edge and, most importantly, won't make me look older than I already am for pete's sake.

First stop:  haircut.  I'm getting bangs at 3pm on Friday.  As much as I'd like to emulate Charlotte York, the reality is that having my locks one length results in me looking like Ozzy Osbourne by the end of the evening (not to mention with my recent eating issues, I am more likely than ever to rip the head off a live bird with my teeth).  So here's what I'm thinking...

No doubt Jennifer's first reaction will be to laugh her face off when I hand her a picture of Mischa Barton and say "make me look like this."  But hopefully she can take me to a place where I accomplish two things:  (1) I no longer look like the Prince of Darkness; and (2) I have a style that would encourage me to wear my hair down more often and more naturally (as in not board straight after 45+ minutes of styling).

Second attempt at stepping up my game:  I finally gave in and bought leggings.  Like a really nice pair.  I know you may be wondering how (and perhaps why) I could fit my ass into a pair of equestrian-style leggings.  I'm wondering the same thing, as I ordered them online today and don't yet have the answer to those questions.  But I love the look, paired with a great sweater and some boots and given the fact that I refuse to wear anything but boots when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, I may as well let them enjoy the chill out from under my jeans- better them than me.

Remaining pieces on my list:  cowgirl boots, shortie suede boots, a pair of designer skinny jeans and an obnoxiously busy-looking oversized clutch.  I figure with all of these items, I'll look 5 years younger, 10 pounds lighter, and Mischa Barton will be taking pictures of me to her stylist.


Monday, August 30, 2010

When the going gets rough...

Rent a stretch limo in the Hamptons?  I'm not sure when my definition of weekend fun transitioned from riding a station wagon down A1A to riding a stretch limousine through the Hamptons, but I could get used to this.  'Twas the lovely Ilene's bachelorette weekend bash and the sweet Dana and myself had booked ourselves train tickets (including a picnic for two I prepared) to join her harem of NY ladies to celebrate her pending nuptials.  Sadly Dana couldn't join at the very last minute due to some health issues (RIP Dana's gallbladder), so I spent the train ride with the dapper Tom Wolfe and ate every last bite of the picnic myself (I know, shocker, right?).  Warning:  do NOT ride an Amtrak train through NYC while reading Bonfire of the Vanities if you find yourself missing New York.  Really ached with some divine memories of Manhattan and how much I enjoyed my weekends there in the days of yore.  Already looking forward to my return trip via the Brooklyn wedding bash in October!

ANYWHO.  I arrived late Friday night at Ilene's parents' gorgeous home in Amagansett, to what ended as a Miley Cirus dance party with a rabid pack of pumas.  These women are nuts y'all.  Our fun climaxed on Saturday morning with a private wine tour through some upstate NY wineries- both of which were full of tasty summer bubblies.

Our limo (waiting right behind daddy's little beach toy)

And all of the lovelies at our first stop of the day:

After a warm day of sipping and swirling, we returned home to some pool time, where I proceeded to fall asleep face-down on the pool deck (wearing a bikini and boat shoes) for over an hour.  I woke up with a pool deck imprinted on my entire body and I'll spare the pics of my lethargic, clueless self wandering the grounds looking like I'd just suffered a public caning.

All-in-all a delightful weekend with intelligent and outrageous ladies, just the way I like 'em.  I was sad to return to reality but certainly hope to take up the Stein family on any Hamptons offers in the future.  

Hope you all had an equally joyous summer weekend- Lord knows they're slipping away!  xo 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Politics as usual

During an invigorating 10-mile run with Biscuit before work this morning, we noticed that as the sun came up on the mall, so did tons of scaffolding and infrastructure a la July 4th concert series.  What in the heck is going on, we thought?  Well come to find out, it's 'ol Glenn Beck and his "Restoring Honor" rally this Saturday.  My first thought was thank GOD I'll be out of town for this round of morons.  And my second thought was WOW- if I were a black person, I would be so flippin' pissed that this bigot and his pea-brained tea-pary-ers have the nerve to stage their amateur hour at the site of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech!  I mean, all Americans have the right to be miffed, but particularly those who really and truly view that moment as their final gateway to political and social empowerment.  My heavens! 

This inflamed venue choice certainly brings back memories of a certain speech from a certain former President...

Gawd.  Thank goodness for the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson (who was with my main mang on Morning Joe today!) and other voices of reason thoughtfully responding on this mayhem.  Robinson says it best, as he writes "the majestic grounds of the Lincoln Memorial belong to all Americans -- even to egomaniacal talk-show hosts who profit handsomely from stoking fear, resentment and anger. So let me state clearly that Glenn Beck has every right to hold his absurdly titled 'Restoring Honor' rally on Saturday.  But the rest of us have every right to call the event what it is: an exercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scale."

At least the Evangelical Christian right is beginning to question Beck and his idiotic shenanigans.

And let me be clear, dear friends, that I would be just as snarky about a similar effort from any of Beck's liberal counterparts, particularly the pesky Keith Olbermann.  That's why I suggest we all watch Joe and Mika in the mornings because they are objective, moderate and balanced and also I have a huge crush on Joe.

Now off to the Hapmtons for a fabulous weekend of less politics and more wine!  xo

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Running and eating and running and EATING.

Well, well well.  If it isn't a touching work of art that perfectly represents the love triangle ruling my daily life:  me, running, and FOOD.

We are all jealous lovers yet complete enablers.  Granted, yesterday I did run eight miles before work at an average pace of 8:45 (scootin' for this old bird), BUT I also literally blanked out in a work-related conversation because I was fixated on day-old chocolate donuts behind the coffee counter, and I'm pretty sure the man who empties my office trash (Carl) was alarmed the copious amounts of snack food wrappers.  None of which is for lack of regular meals, as I ate my body weight in greek yogurt and two packets of oatmeal for breakfast, along with two servings of apple jacks (with milk), soy chips, various fruits, steamed veggies and a few handfuls of basmati rice for lunch.  Because that makes a delicious, balanced meal.  Just like I'm convinced I experience intervals of menopause-like symptoms on my summer walks to work (helloooo hot flashes), I'm now certain that marathon training offers insight into third trimester pregnancy (eating, and in my case also drinking, for two).  And most of it is really healthy stuff, but the point is:  I. Cannot. Fit. Enough. Food. In. My. Mouth.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Breaking news

A wise man (or something) asked me a very poignant question yesterday while we were illegally gchatting at work:  is there anything CNN doesn't consider breaking news?!  After sleeping on it, I was frankly at a loss after this morning's typical headline:


I mean obviously this is hysterical, but inadvertently catching a pesky, poorly-dressed white dude trying to swipe a briefcase while snapping a pic of your 6 year-old doing the robot is NOT breaking news y'all.  So, Benny, after this morning's corroborating evidence, I'm convinced the answer to your question is a resounding NO.

In other breaking news, and please don't get me started on how this political/media mosque obsession is the ultimate red herring at at time when our leaders have bigger fish to fry to say the least, some family members of 9/11 victims are uniting to support the mosque construction.  (I realize I'm legitimizing the debate and CNN at this point but please keep in mind that I am not holding/running for office and I have been candid about CNN's shortfalls).  Bravo 9/11 victim family members!  Thank you for coming out and saying what our President should have said in the first place!  But he didn't and Michael Bloomberg did, and successfully made him look like a total putz!  Brings back memories of when some 9/11 victim family members testified at the terrorists' trials and stood up against the death penalty.  Talk about people with actual standing to chat about issues (as opposed to, say, Hollywood) taking their platform and using it for the greater good.  Whether you agree or not, I'm proud of these families standing up for what they believe in.  Probably because I agree.  I'm sure there are plenty of examples of me applauding people for standing up for their beliefs when I don't agree, but I can't seem to think of any right now.  And oh, look at the time, I've got to get back to rewriting that Executive Order.  Toodles!  xo

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Falling out of summer

Morning darlings!  Long time no chat.  Now don't judge me but before energy bill madness was upon us, I was able to fulfill most of my blogging duties from work during downtime.  But ever since the bomb exploded (and then died a sad, excruciating death at the hands of a Senate majority leader who shall remain nameless but if you don't know who he is, shame on you), I've been much busier around here and quite booked after the workday as well.  What can I say, I've been butterfly-ing all around town.  x

This morning was no exception, as I nearly killed my poor, overworked stems in Juliet's spin class.  The woman is pushing 50 and she is an outrageous physical STUD (as the military men would say).  As I gasped for breath and barely told Juliet today, I'm spinning as cross-training for my running, and I'm almost certain I've been working harder in my 45-minute spinning classes than during my weekly long runs.  Which is much-needed, as I have (get ready) FOUR half marathons and one FULL marathon in the next two months.  That's right folks- yours truly has flown off the handle and become more obsessed than ever at competitive running.  Which is ironic given the fact that I'm as slow as molasses.

There is so much to catch up on, and I will get there eventually, but first let me say that I am coming off a weekend high of a fabulous three days with the lovely Jessi-Anne, who took the nation's capital by storm and left it approximately 10 pounds lighter in champagne and vintage costume jewelry (a woman after my own heart).  And next let me say that this morning's walk to work displayed the first signs of the district falling out of summer and into autumn:  a drop below 70 degrees.  I did resist the urge to immediately switch wardrobes and bundle up in the north face, but do know that I'm about five degrees from earmuffs.

Happy Tuesday lovelies!  And welcome back to school my favorite teachers- glad to have my normal readers back and held captive to my never-ending monologue!  xo

Thursday, July 29, 2010

City summer livin'

Loving city summer livin' in my sweet town lately, which was perfectly embodied in my happy hour with the ladies last night at Circa, a favorite regular spot of Dana's...and maybe a new regular spot of mine?  Great location right on Dupont Circle (a 15-minute walk from home), great atmosphere, great tween music, and the owners (who treated us all to aglass of vino) were just as fun and charming as Dana assured.  Not an impressive wine list, but they don't hold out to be a wine bar, so I won't fault them for not being one.  Not to mention, I can't think of any self-respecting wine bar who welcomes me in my weeknight casual sportswear...

I ran into an old mutual friend and his new girlfriend.  He is 45+ and she is at most 24.  Charming couple!

Tonight will be spent with the lovely Miss Frazier, at the gym then at her place while we drink all those calories we just burned and finally watch "He's Just Not That Into You"- can't wait to see this flic.  I couldn't agree more with the premise- you've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em ladies.  For reals.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Family fun days

Happy summer daze all!  I am just back from a fun family weekend with the Smiths, who joined my sister and I up in the Mid-Atlantic for the hottest day ever in DC history- a whopping 106 degrees on Saturday.  Yikes (extra yikes because I ran 11 miles that morning and nearly expired).  But we took the heat in stride given that we're all hot-blooded Floridians, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Marriott Ranch in Hume, VA.

Despite the fact that we arrived to find a massive Mormon celebration (Didn't y'all know that the Marriotts are Mormons??  Open up the telephone table drawer next time you visit one and you'll find a strategically placed Book of Mormon where you'd normally find a Gideon Bible), the crazies quickly dispersed and left us to a peaceful weekend in our natural habitat:  the sticks.  We explored the lovely Front Royal, VA, and escaped the afternoon heat in the town's quaint movie theater to see "Salt," the newest DC-themed Angelina Jolie flic.  Not my typical weekend activity, but I did enjoy the action, much of which was filmed in front of my glamorous (not) federal office building!  I kept my eyes peeled for the girl in full suit and city-commuter flip flops, fumbling with her two blackberries on her way home from working on the energy bill (which FAILED.  SADNESS.), but alas, my film debut was not in the cards.  I'll stick with plan A and hold out for the role of Lady Brett Ashley, originally cast as Ava Garnder, in the remake of Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" (not that I've thought about this or anything).

As a result of the Smiths coming in two waves this week (brother came and went before parents and sister arrived), I spent and re-spent a good chunk of the weekend in the Newseum, a real gem of a one-stop-shop for the last 100 years of American history as seen through the eyes of the media.  Because of the redo venue, I spent most of the second trip frantically finishing Lolita in a corner on the second floor and I'm pretty sure most of the tourists were convinced I was some weird introverted perv. 

All in all a great weekend of good, clean (err...mostly) family fun!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wakee wakee eggs and bakee

I wish this were my alarm clock.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sing to me again my Russian darling

"Sometimes...Come on, how often exactly, Bert?  Can you recall four, five, more such occasions?  Or would no human heart have survived two or three?  Sometimes (I have nothing to say in reply to your question), while Lolita would be haphazardly preparing her homework, sucking a pencil, lolling sideways in an easy chair with both legs over its arm, I would shed all my pedagogic restraint, dismiss all our quarrels, forget all my masculine pride - and literally crawl on my knees to your chair, my Lolita!  You would give me one look - a gray furry question mark of a look:  'Oh no, not again' (incredulity, exasperation); for you never deigned to believe that I could, without any specific designs, ever crave to bury my face in your plaid skirt, my darling!  The fragility of those bare arms of yours - how I longed to enfold them, all your four limpid lovely limbs, a folded colt, and take your head between my unworthy hands, and pull the temple-skin back on both sides, and kiss your chinesed eyes, and - 'Pulease, leave me alone, will you,' you would say, 'for Christ's sake leave me alone.'  And I would get up from the floor while you looked on, your face deliberately twitching in imitation of my tic nerveux.  But never mind, never mind, I am only a brute, never mind, let us go on with my miserable story."  Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coco avant Chanel

Watched this fabulous flic on my lazy Sunday and it was a lovely depiction of Coco (nee Gabrielle) Chanel's extraordinary story.  Remarkable that two of the most famous female pop culture icons in France were born orphans and completely self-made (the second being Edith Piaf, hauntingly portrayed by the exquisite Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose, one of my favorite films of all time).  Can I get a witness?

These frenchie films are right down my alley (great weekend practice), and for those of you non-frenchies who let subtitles stop you- for shame!  There are a ton of stimulating foreign films out there and you will expand your mind and your world if you just put up with a little light reading on the bottom of the screen.  ;)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Living lately

Can you believe we're already almost finished with July?  Where has this summer gone?!

I've been making the most of every minute, and admittedly haven't been reading or writing a ton in the midst of turning pages in the 'ol summer calendar.  I'm definitely going through a time in my life when I need to be alone, particularly mentally, which means I'm not seriously focused on organizing my feelings and sharing them with the world at large.  So apologies, lovelies, if I have been a bit stingy with my thoughts as of late!  'Tis the season for light-hearted fun with friends!

And on that note, I found this gem on Top 10 most memorable movie dance scenes.  Spent a good half hour re-watching these in bed before mass this morning:

Speaking of mass, my little downtown DC Catholic church has recruited some serious music talent in the recent past.  I have discovered this little church only in the past two years or so, and quickly made the switch from the lovely yet large St. Matthews Cathedral (where JFK was laid to rest).  My new church is quaint and very southern, with a really diverse crowd and some nice gospel hymn choices sprinkled throughout the traditional stuff (which I also love).  Unfortunately the gorgeous wood-stained sanctuary isn't air-conditioned, so during the months of July and August, mass is held in the auditorium.  But even in the not-so-ideal settings of the Catholic school auditorium, we were all in silent tears this morning when this uber talented black man sang an acapella version of "This Little Light of Mine."  It was astonishing.  I'm talking broadway talent level.  And for those of you who don't know, Catholics do NOT get up and clap for anything during mass.  But this man got a standing ovation and the priest had to kindly ask us to sit down after a good two minutes of applause.  When we shared the sign of peace, none of us could stop moving down the rows and warmly greeting each other, with a shared understanding like we'd all just witnessed something divine.  This was an almost exact replica of my experience one month ago (which was only sweetened by the fact that we were in the beautiful wooden sanctuary) when a woman who must be a soprano for the Washington National Opera (for reals) blew us all away during communion.  It was beyond words.

I love moments that bring us completely into the present. 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tom Robbins revisited

"They glared at her the way any intelligent persons ought to glare when what they need is a smoke, a bite, a cup of coffee, a piece of ass, or a good fast-paced story, and all they're getting is philosophy."

"Twenty candles on a cake.  Twenty Camels in a pack.  Twenty months in the federal pen.  Twenty shots of tequila down a young girl's gullet.  Twenty centuries since Our Lord's last pratfall, and after all that time we still don't know where passion goes when it goes."

"All outlaws are photogenic, and I love that."
Tuesday toe art.  Chanel's spring nail color and the Dallas Ritz Carlton roof pool (where I mourned the loss of my favorite book mark).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sing to me Nabokov.

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns." ~Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

Government follies

Happy Monday all! 
Here's a gem that's proudly displayed over our water cooler in the office. 
Just another day in the government!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Post-4th bliss

Hello sweet readers!  I hope you all had a lovely long weekend celebrating America's birthday.  I had a fantastic time at my parents' lake house in Tennessee- it's just at the foot of the Smoky Mountains and couldn't be more picturesque.  The lake water was the perfect temperature, all of the boats behaved (with a minor slip up from the pontoon boat while watching fireworks, but all ended well), the guests were in top form and the food was flowing. 

I (of course) manged some productivity:  an 8-mile run on Saturday morning (per my Marine Corps Marathon training schedule) and I finished the first Harry Potter.  I know I'm an extremely late HP bloomer, but as I mentioned I'm tentatively planning a trip to the new park with Mumsie so I figured I needed to get my act in gear and read the series.  Given their popularity and the low reading level, I won't grace Rowling with a full-length book review, but I will say that I enjoyed the "cheap-n-cheerful" read and will gladly move on to the next this weekend.  I should wrap up Lolita soon and will more than make up for it with that review because it is juicy y'all.

In other news, my blogging bestie is officially coming to DC and I cannot WAIT to host her for what is sure to be a superlative weekend of champagne wishes and caviar...err...veggie burger dreams!

I have listened to some titillating podcasts of late, and just stumbled across a blog written by my favorite podcasters:  Sara and Katie from Stuff You Missed in History Class!  Woot!  I almost always need to follow up on wikipedia after one of their teaser history lessons, and now I can go straight to the source.  I revisited some of my Irish travels this morning while learning more about Bloody Sunday, which was an incident on January 30, 1972, in Derry, Northern Ireland.  Twenty-six unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders were shot by members of the British Army (a la Kent State), and the facts of that fateful day were finally released on June 5th of this year in the Saville Inquiry, originally commissioned by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.  This recent report could re-open the controversy and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings.  Britain intentionally delayed release of the results until after the most recent Northern Ireland elections because anything involving "the troubles" is sure to be loaded with baggage, and they were right.  If it ain't the piss ants, it's the bed bugs, as my Memom used to say, and these fools could really use a big dose of getting over it if you ask me.  (And by "it," I mean the differences between Protestants and Catholics, and not the dead, of course.)

So there's your history lesson y'all!  Enjoy this hot hot hot day (102 degrees in DC yesterday, and even hotter today!) and stay curious!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th lovelies!

Helllooooooooooo dahlinks!  (As my Aunt Linda would say, who I'm excited to share will be joining me tomorrow at my parents' fabulous lake house outside of Knoxville, TN).  It's been an unbelievably busy week and my heartfelt apologies for lack of posting the past few days.  For a government employee especially, I've been working like a maniac!  But I did make it to book club on Wednesday night at Jackie's lovely Georgetown flat.  I even managed to run home after work to grab my bike and ride there, which, as the girls quickly pointed out, resulted in a wardrobe combination of spandex and my typical costume jewelry.  And they say people in DC can't dress!  Pshaw...

We thoroughly discussed Oscar Wilde for approximately four minutes, which was plenty long enough to establish (1) none of us cared for the book; and (2) enough with the woman-hating already.  On to Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (sprinkled with my dabbles in Harry Potter and my normal New Yorker appetite)!

For the next four days I'll be on the water, sipping vino, water skiing, reading, running, and otherwise making fun of my mother and sister (which will be reciprocated so don't start feeling sorry for them).  My stepdad and Kaycee's boyfriend will also be in tow, two high-ranking officers of the small, elite group of "men I don't hate."   I'm positively thrilled about our visitors- Aunt Linda and Uncle Griff (ab fab power couple who are certainly worth of their own blog spiel sometime soon) and the famous (infamous?) Biscuit and her lovely boyfriend.  And, most importantly, the tiny sheriff will be on duty all weekend at the helm of the pontoon boat when she's not napping in my lap.  What's not to love y'all?

Hope you all have fantastic fourths and please be safe!  xo

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday funday

Oh did I ever have one.  Great Dupont Circle pool party hosted by some lovely friends!  But somehow I lost my "it's a schoolnight" meter and strayed from my normal "let's get our 1.5 drinks on" behavior.  So I started off my work week this Monday morning by...

Waking up completely naked on my couch, blinds fully open, clutching a smashed Kashi cereal bar for dear life in my left hand.

Still short of waking up with my purse still on my shoulder (which has happened y'all), but I'd say it was a good night.  I paid for it this morning and it took a while to feel normal (still not 100% but come hell or highwater I'm going to run tonight). 

Don't try that one at home kids. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book Review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

It's important that we all know exactly what winning a Pulitzer Prize means; it means more than just writing a really good book.  According to the Pulitzer Prize Board, Olive Kitteridge was 2009's most "distinguished fiction by an American author dealing with American life."  I could probably end my review there as I can't think of a better description of this book. 

This is a collection of 13 (sometimes tangentially) connected stories about a woman named Olive and her friends, family and neighbors in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine.  Olive is a retired school teacher whose abrasive, sometimes crass, personality is often misunderstood.  But her gruff carriage is her charm:

"Oh, for God's sake."  Olive stopped walking, looked at him through her sunglasses.  "I didn't say moron.  You mean because we have a cowboy for a president?  Or before that an actor who played a cowboy?  Let me tell you, that idiot ex-cocaine-addict was never a cowboy.  He can wear all the cowboy hats he wants.  He's a  spoiled brat to the manor born.  And he makes me puke."
She was really riled, and it took her a moment to see that he was looking away, his expression closed off, as though inside his head he had backed away, just waiting for her to finish.
"God," she said finally.  "You didn't."
"Didn't what?"
"You voted for him."
Jack Kennison looked tired.
"You voted for him.  You, Mr. Harvard, Mr. Brains.  You voted for that stinker."
He gave a small bark of a laugh.  "My God, you do have the passions and the prejudices of a peasant."
"That's it," said Olive.  She began walking, at her pace now.  She said over her shoulder, "At least I'm not prejudiced against homosexuals."
"No," he called.  "Just white men with money."
Damn right, she thought.
The fictional snapshots of Olive's American life are never cliche, they are always shrewd, and by and large subtly heartbreaking.  It's beautiful, this American life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not so leading ladies

Happy Thursday, all!  Which is technically my Friday because I have tomorrow off, but I'll sadly probably end up working anyway because there are energy bills out the woozah and someone's got to keep 'em straight around here.  Mkay?

A few observations worth mentioning:

1.  It was over 90 degrees when I ran this morning (at 5:45am!) and after my four miles of speedwork on the national mall, it took an ice cold shower + two hours in the air conditioning before my face no longer felt (and looked) ON FIRE.  My God.  I love oppressive heat but it was nuts y'all!  I looked like I was fresh out of labor and delivery the entire morning.

2.  I finished an intriguing podcast this morning on Lillie Langtry, a British actress from the 20s who was once renowned as the "most beautiful woman in the world."  Her beauty inspired a number of literary characters at the time, and she was even mistress to the future king of England, Edward VII.  So you can imagine how desperate I was to google image search this broad the minute I walked into my office this morning.  (drum roll) After the historical buildup and anticipation, I feast my eyes upon our English beauty: I missing something?  Lillie Langtry looks like a DUDE y'all.  I mean, she's no serious eyesore, but I certainly question the judgment of whomever named her the world's elusive beauty du jour.  What in the sam hill?

3.  An even more scathingly b*tchy reaction, I'm aware, but I am SICK and TIRED of hearing about Farah Fawcett and seeing her ex-boyfriend Ryan O'Neal's ugly mug all over my television screen when I'm trying to watch the news in the morning.  Hey Farah, want to know why nobody sensationalized your death like Michael Jackson's?  Why oh why was it not nearly as interesting?  Maybe it has something to do with the documentary you made of yourself, couched in the terms of some philanthropic cause, when really it was your last hoorah of self-serving exhibitionism.  It wasn't even news because we'd all watched it (by we I of course don't mean me) on HBO reruns for the past six months!  I don't want to watch any more footage of Farah and Ryan reuniting with their drug loser convict son and I don't want to see any more of them crying over each other when their private lives were a complete disaster because they were both self-obsessed narcissists.  You lived a glamorous, fabulous life and you chose to be a terrible parent, wife, friend, and overall public personality. Your number is up honey and I'm sick of seeing and hearing your long-lasting encores via your good friend Alana Stewart and your pathetic ex boyfriend Ryan O'Neal.

Boy do I feel better (assuming lightning isn't going to strike me dead for talking trash about the dearly departed).


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Les Nouvelles

That's "the news" in French, y'all.  My last week has been tumultuous to say the least, but I'm optimistic and really looking forward to the future and what it has in store.  This weekend, in particular!  I already have dinner with Miss Frazier on Friday, a long run and brunch with Biscuit on Saturday, and hopefully a serious bike excursion (maybe even all the way to Mount Vernon, depending on my bike's condition and the weather) on Sunday.  All of that mixed in with some heavy weekend reading, including (which seriously- I am still embarrassed to admit) finally beginning Harry Potter.  I've always been a typical objector, but seeing the opening of the Harry Potter park in Florida sparked my interest and now I'd love to read the series and visit that place with my mom.  Not to mention we're all on the market for some easy summer readin' these days, and I need to even out the heavy hitters I've already got planned. 


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"She drank, with one hand, all the Irish coffee.  And then she played all sorts of songs.  She didn't know what she played, couldn't have said, but she was inside the music, and the lights on the Christmas tree were bright and seemed far away.  Inside the music like this, she understood many things.  She understood that Simon was a disappointed man if he needed, at this age, to tell her he had pitied her for years.  She understood that as he drove his car back down the cost toward Boston, toward his wife with whom he had raised three children, that something in him would be satisfied to have witnessed her the way he had tonight, and she understood that this form of comfort was true for many people, as it made Malcolm feel better to call Walter Dalton a pathetic fairy, but it was a thin milk, this form of nourishment; it could not change that you had wanted to be a concert pianist and ended up a real estate lawyer, that you had married a woman and stayed married to her for thirty years, when she did not ever find you lovely in bed." 

~Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge