Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I'm off for a quick 4-day hiatus in Ireland and will return with some fabulous photos! Until then, here's where I'll be spending much of my weekend: the Castle Leslie. A good friend of Gerry's is getting married there (as did Paul McCartney!) and we'll be staying in the castle overnight as most Irish weddings last until the wee hours of the 'morn. Here are some pictures of the castle- I cannot wait to see this place!

We'll otherwise have two full days in Dublin, which will be full of fun family and friend visits, along with a trip to see the Book of Kells, which I mandated after it was the subject of a recent history pod-cast. For those of you who don't know, the Book of Kells is arguably the world's most famous book: it consists of four illuminated manuscripts in Latin, each devoted to one Gospel of the New Testament. It was created by Celtic monks somewhere around 900 A.D. and is a masterpiece of Western calligraphy. It is currently housed at Trinity College's gorgeous campus in downtown Dublin. Since I probably won't be able to take any pictures of the book itself, here's an image of a page I found online:

I hope y'all have a fabulous weekend and I promise to share some trip pictures upon return! xo

Monday, April 26, 2010


Hamlet. The opera. In French.

Who wouldn't be interested in this??

Apparently I'm the only taker, as the responses to my inquiries ranged from "hell no" to "I'd only consider going if LL Cool J were playing Hamlet."

In my friends' defense, even the cheap tickets were $80 a piece (which normally I'd scoff at but seriously folks this is the perfect storm). So I have a hot date with myself to go see Hamlet at the Kennedy Center on Monday, May 24.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Silver lining

I'm off the ledge since my last post and I now I want to convince everyone that I don't hate my job. Again, I'm grateful to have a job, and a very interesting one at that. Where else will someone ask me to write a white paper on carbon sequestration liability? And when else will our country find itself in such critical times regarding energy policy? I may work with some nitwits, but the first thing we learned in law school was that you can't choose your clients. And sometimes you can't really choose your boss. It turns out you can't over-educate yourself out of those professional shortfalls. I will, however, share one of the best things about my job: the lifestyle! I work (give or take) 40 hour weeks, which leaves plenty of time for French class at L'Alliance Francaise (the educational arm of the French embassy)! This winter I enjoyed a current events class taught by an indescribable woman whose day job is a trilingual diva at the World Bank and was the star polo player for the Iranian national team in a past life (we were all mesmerized with helpless girl crushes). In mid-May, I'll start a weekly course devoted to reading and discussing this book:

AND, in the meantime, during my mad rush to catch up on all of the history I missed in my secondary education via podcast, I discovered this gem:

Free French lessons on the metro. Or at home while I'm drinking wine in my underwear.

Why do people spend money on cable television again?!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Working for the weekend

Is exactly what I'm doing y'all. I went from 8 years of post-secondary academia into an intense two years at a law firm, then to the federal government, which I'm now convinced is where lawyers go to DIE (note to self: do not expand blog readership to people I work with). I am so thankful to have a job and more than grateful to be able to pay the bills. But so help me God if I have to be part of one more "focus group" devoting three days of my job to what will result in a 20-minute power point presentation, I'm liable to take off my heels and throw them under my desk with the rest of my heels and walk out the door (another note to self: don't leak to my podiatrist I'm wearing heels).

Here's an example of some of this week's correspondence (via email):

(I'll finish an important document and in a month or so (!) I want to bring to my boss's attention again because I'm almost certain he's forgotten to review it, so I forward it his way)

Me: Please let me know if you'd like to talk about this today.

Boss: Can you get me a hard copy?

Me: You mean print this out and bring it to you?

Boss: Nevermind- thanks.

(What I really wanted to say: press print jackass! Isn't it enough that I'm combing through your workload and making sure you don't let this slip through the cracks?) At least he's finally getting the hint that I'm not going to be his personal printer.

It's one thing to work at a private firm. When I was there, my boss owned my life and soul. If he wanted me to stay at work overnight just to print out copies of his personal memoirs, I would've done it with a smile and asked him if there was anything else I could do while I was at it. But he wouldn't have done that because he valued my time and knew how flippin' expensive it was. But there are no hourly rates in the government. Too bad, because it would be a real hoot to see what people would turn in on their billing sheets. Particularly some of my colleagues who disappear for two hours and return looking windblown with the sports section folded under their arm.

Sorry for the negativity and I promise to be more positive next time! xo

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life and wine and podcasts

My dearest readers please accept my heartfelt apologies for what has been a most legitimate lack of all things blithe and lighthearted. I am slowly emerging from an introspective retreat and it has not been without pining for some light blogging that I have been embracing my inner introvert. No elaboration would be appropriate for such a place of cheer and charm so I'm up for some lighter discussion if you'd be so kind to oblige.

In my journey back to equilibrium, I have enjoyed a number of things during this weekend of solitude, the first being (albeit at least 5 years late) podcasts. A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and can be downloaded on (among other things) an Ipod via Itunes. They are usually 25-60 minute episodes of news clips, short fiction reads, NPR programs, etc. And best of all: they are FREE. I was overwhelmed when I realized what is available! Meet the Press with David Gregory is one program I've really missed since cancelling my cable package, but I can listen to it for free on my Ipod (or better yet, watch it on my computer). But by far my favorite:

Because I essentially walk EVERYWHERE, instead of contemplating whether tomorrow's weather will be too humid to straighten my hair, which class I should take in the morning at the gym, or other trivial nonsense, during my "commutes" I can now plug in my headphones and hear episodes of trivial historical information! I am obsessed and within 24 hours I have already learned the truth behind the Rosetta Stone, the minutia of Elizabeth I's love life (or lack thereof), analysis of new evidence linked to the Kent State protests during the Nixon administration, and Marie Antoinette myth-busters. My God. If you didn't want to get cornered by me at a dinner party before I discovered this gem, then for pete's sake HIDE YOUR CHILDREN.

Second is a shout-out to Troy's power yoga class. I don't mean to brag, but I am in shape y'all (by my own standards- very relative obvi). I exercise like an absolute maniac week-round. And it never fails- Troy's power yoga class (or even Mimi's or Ursula's, but particularly Troy's) leaves me in pain for at least 2 days subsequent. It consists of an hour of sun salutations at light speed (which, for all of you non-yogis out there, is a sequence which begins standing, takes you through a number of challenging lunges, down to the ground via chaturanga, upward dog and downward dog, which is essentially a triceps pushup into a other unnatural positions requiring strength and control- see illustration below). This stuff isn't easy slow, so doing an hour of it quickly is incredibly challenging and oh so good for the soul! I could quit my job and be some sort of a ninja if I took Troy's class every day.

Last but not least, I took one of the wineducation classes I mentioned a while back! My fabulous sister and I were tipsy after about 3 tastings (which equates to roughly one glass of wine- two chips off the 'ol block) and not only learned about sipping and swirling, but nearly blew a gasket trying not to get kicked out of such a tasteful event as we were laughing hysterically while making fun of each other.

So all in all a much-needed weekend of various indulgences, and it's not over yet! Continuing with another glass of wine as I read and listen to delightful jams and otherwise entertain myself. Happy Saturday all!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alvah and Dominique (from the Fountainhead)

"Talking as I am talking- to you as you are. It's nice, talking to you about such things. Do you know, Alvah, that primitive people made statues of their gods in man's likeness? Just think of what a statue of you would like like- of you nude, your stomach and all."

"Now what's that in relation to?"

"To nothing at all, darling. Forgive me." She added: "You know, I love statues of naked men. Don't look so silly. I said statues. I had one in particular. It was supposed to be Helios. I got it out of a museum in Europe. I had a terrible time, getting it- it wasn't for sale, of course. I think I was in love with it, Alvah. I brought it home with me."

Where is it? I'd like to see something you like, for a change."

"It's broken."

"Broken? A museum piece? How did that happen?"

"I broke it."


"I threw it down the air shaft. There's a concrete floor below."

"Are you totally crazy? Why?"

"So that no one else would ever see it."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cartoon of the Day

Something for me to deeply meditate on while I'm drinking wine chez moi and listening to Lady Gaga.

Friday, April 9, 2010


I'm not exactly a connoisseur of haute couture...I only really splurge for it when it comes to perfume (Chanel Chanel Chanel). Or fake couture on Canal Street. About all I can afford on a federal government salary. But I do love indulging in the Vanity Fair ads and was flipping through this month's issue when I turned the page to come face-to-face with one of my absolute famous femmes:

Marion Cotillard (in Shanghai apparently). The woman is not only a picture of style and grace, but she is a remarkably talented actress. La Vie en Rose, in which she portrayed Edith Piaf, was positively flawless and one of my very favorite films. The music was fantastic, as the soundtrack was nothing but originally recorded Edith Piaf hits, and Cotillard was the first person to win an Academy Award for a French language performance (a much-deserved best actress- do youtube her acceptance speech because it was adorable!). Add it to your netflix list and you won't regret it!

Cork it

Since Easter, I've been able to drink, and boy have I caught up with all those great times I missed when I was on the wagon. All of the wonderful ladies in my life who have patiently waited for my return have filled up my weeknights and how I have missed them! I probably only had 2 glasses of wine each night- more than I should on a weeknight, but still not egregious given the circumstances of each evening. Now that it's out of my system, I need to find an equilibrium. I really don't need more than a glass and that's that. Unless my favorite divas have all flown in from their respective cities across the nation and we are attending a private dance party cohosted by Lady Gaga and Big 'n Rich (in which case I would be completely justified in drinking my body weight in champagne), there is no reason for the calories and the headache!

Tuesday was date night with Biscuit at Matchbox, one of our favorite spots downtown. Wednesday night was book club at Teri's lovely home in VA, and last night was Cork wine bar with my sister and Kathryn- two ladies I haven't seen enough of lately. Phew! Fantastic week of seeing my favorites, but alcohol really is a downer! I haven't made it to the gym since Tuesday and all I want to do is go home and sleep in my poodle pajamas.

With an eye towards equilibrium, I am still on the market for some legit wine education. I noticed that Cork- in my opinion the best wine bar in this city (in which there is many a wine bar)- offers wine education classes that look like they are schedule-friendly:

I know enough to know what I like in a good bottle of wine, but I'd like to know more! I've had two trips through California's Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and lived in la France for two summers. I am long overdue in some wineducation for reals.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book Review: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

To steal from wikipedia...Franny and Zooey is J.D. Salinger's third book, published as such in 1961, its two parts having originally appeared as a short story and a novella in The New Yorker (love) in 1955 and 1957, respectively. Franny and Zooey, a sister and brother both in their twenties, are the two youngest members of the Glass family, a frequent focus of Salinger's writings. The action of both parts takes place over a long weekend in November 1955.

I waited quite a while after finishing this book to formally review it as I was interested in hearing what the other ladies thought. Our opinions were all over the map, but two things we agreed on: this was not as good as Catcher in the Rye, and it was so dialogue-heavy that it often read more like a play than a novel(la). Neither of these are criticism per se (after all, what book could compare to Catcher in the Rye?), and overall we enjoyed the read.

J.D. Salinger has a subtle, clever sense of humor that is sprinkled so smoothly throughout his storytelling - he is a true master at the art of delivery. The Glass family members showcased in this book- Franny and Zooey- display the usual Salinger-esque characteristics: overly-smart, withdrawn intellectuals who are essentially royalty in a society which they reject. Franny has borrowed a book from her college library which tells a tale of a Russian pilgrim who all too literally interprets the Bible's command to "pray without ceasing." She decides to devote her mind and spirit to perfecting the same end, eventually resulting in a complete meltdown at home. Zooey witnesses the episode and his dialogue sharing opinions with his mother makes up most of "Zooey." The entire family flaunts clever antics and humor throughout, and Zooey advocates his ultimate position(spoiler, kind of) that selfless prayer (and impliedly other acts of philanthropy) is, ironically, ultimately self-serving. A theme that is also revealed in my current read, The Fountainhead...

Salinger is brilliant and I only wish his strange reclusive lifestyle didn't require that he abandon all efforts to publish his works. No doubt someone discovered an attic of hidden masterpieces on the day he died (R.I.P. Salinger) which his eager readers will never see!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Yes you read correctly folks: this book was written by two women. Flaw number one. I can just picture two small town hermit cat ladies giggling over the utter silliness while still in full costume from a red hat society meeting. Not remotely funny! Nor was this book!

To quickly summarize: this novel is a compilation of letters to and from the protagonist, Juliet, a thirty-something single female who has, along with the rest of the characters, just survived World War II. She makes unexpected pen pals with the inhabitants of Guernsey, one of the few islands in the English Channel, as she learns their harrowing, tragic stories of survival during the German occupation. The island's inhabitants inadvertently formed a sort of literary society while hiding from the Germans. The formation of the society itself is alleged to be the result of a hysterical mistake which, come to find out, was not hysterical in the slightest. The first of many instances where the authors' (no doubt fervent red hat society elders) attempts at being clever were entirely disappointing.

First, the naivete of the characters was downright phony. Don't get me wrong- I have always been a sucker for a pen pal. The thought of a letter dropping into my lap from a stranger asking me to help him find a rare book sounds like an absolute dream. But these characters are so silly and adolescent- at the end of the day, it's a corny, whimsical story written by two women who lack the imagination to thoroughly develop even their main character. Take Juliet- typical mediocre protagonist who seemingly exists in a vacuum. Unlimited time, unlimited resources, and dragging us all through her journey in choosing between an obvious Mr. Right and an even more obvious Mr. Wrong (did I mention it was also predictable?). First sign I wouldn't like this book: the front cover flashes an endorsement by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. Another phony read and subject to almost identical criticism (though I do appreciate the fact that she brought some international culture to readers who probably otherwise wouldn't have ventured there...).

Save your $10. Or, better yet, spend it on any Russian River Valley Pinot Noir- 2006 or 2007 will do 'ya. xo


First glass of wine in 40 days: bliss. 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

To be followed next week by my previously identified French bottle at...chez moi.

End of Lent! Happy Easter all!

Two book reviews pending :)