Monday, October 6, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Misplaced My Words

"Know something, Sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them"
Allan Gurganus

So when did I become someone who couldn't? Where lurks my former knack for relating the absurd, the mundane, or the simple encounters of life to my 'this could only happen to me' sense of self?

I went to a meeting at the White House last week (fine, fine – the Eisenhower Executive Office Building). I had every intention of writing about it, similar to the prose-ESP I feel before going into many experiences I've then written about. But in the hours and days following my occupation of the most famous home (or the building next door…whatever) in DC, I had zero impetus to give words to the experience.

I thought that I would be able to. In anticipation of the meeting, I planned on using the White House (or, EEOB) bathroom and stealing anything that wasn't affixed to the countertop or walls, or wouldn't fit in my purse (or down my pants). Just before the 3:00 pm meeting, I waited for the White House Liaison to the Jewish Community (younger than me) - the other half of my meeting - in a room where walls were adorned (tainted) with photos of President Bush. President Bush exiting Air Force One. President Bush in a pick-up truck with his dog. President Bush mid stupid sentences, standing behind a podium.

It wouldn't have been far-fetched to think that after returning my bar-code ID tag and exiting the highly secure residence, I'd start writing the post (with aforementioned writing blocks) in my pocket-sized pink-n-brown floral notepad (which matches my stu-stu-studio) that I always carry with me, jotting down ideas and opening lines on the metro ride home. More than thinking it possible, I hoped that I would be able to memorialize my immersion in government, as my musings here are dwindling in frequency with no conscious effort on the part of the muser (me, me, and me). I don't know why my muse is running dry. Is this writer's block? Is it me no longer needing a blog-shaped outlet? Well, my 14 ½ readers, I can't focus in on the root of the trend of blank pages.

Maybe the would-be muse failed to reach fruition because I didn't get to go to the bathroom and, more importantly, steal a souvenir. I'm just not sure - Story of my life.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Just Call Me Handy

When your world seems dull and you feel like everyone is having more fun than you are, try hand modeling. It revved up my confidence. It made me feel needed. It sent my heart beating a little faster than usual. It caused me to wake up the next morning with a stiff shoulder. Case in point -

When I asked the wine and food author/critic (whose entire body got to remain in the frame) about his opinion of DC’s food scene, I desperately tried to channel the message, “Take me with you. Perhaps I, too, can dine for free. Let me be your wingman.”

After the photo shoot, I tasted the wine with my modeling hand. I noted that it tasted like juice. “Can I smell it?” asked the wine connoisseur. Watch expertise in action -

Later in the day, I requested him as a friend on Facebook. Then I felt slightly desperate. Story of my life.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Happy Stchick

I exited Whole Foods with my usual supply of variety foods from the ready food case (because I can’t cook), and saw some activity on the sidewalk in front of the store. A table hosting chocolate covered strawberries, iced coffee, and popcorn for sale, and then a grill off to the side.

Corn on the cob roasted on the grill. I walked past the grill, admired the veggies taking residency upon it, and then continued toward the end of the street. And then turned back. I like corn. Corn on a stick? Love it.

Back at the grill, I pulled out a dollar (bargainnnnn) and said, “One please.” I noticed the chef (in my eyes he was) painting the corn with some kind of sauce.

“What kind of sauce is that?”

“Coconut cream.”

And then I thought, what a wonderful world.

I walked blissfully to the metro with a corn on the cob on a stick in my hand and a yoga mat slung on my right shoulder – story of my life.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

No Big Red Heart for NY Transportation

Needing a taxi from Mid-town to Brooklyn, I told the first taxi driver who stopped that I had the address and the cross-street. He asked if I knew how to get there?


Out the taxi I go. Story of my life.

Needing a taxi from Mid-town to Brooklyn, I told the second taxi driver who stopped that I had the address and the cross-street. He asked if I knew how to get there?

I learned my lesson the first time, so standing on the sidewalk, I told the driver through the passenger window, “No.”

On the sidewalk I remained.

Needing a taxi from Mid-town to Brooklyn, I told the third taxi driver who stopped that I had the address and the cross-street. He asked if I knew how to get there?

I learned my lesson the second time, so I told the driver matter-of-factly, “Yes.” In the taxi I went.

Once we made it across the bridge, he asked me which way to go.

“Roll down your window and ask that guy on the sidewalk.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


For another story of my life? Read this.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baby Rumors (Mine)

Rumor 1: I went to inhale my favorite muffin last week, the oat bran edible wonder at Firehook Bakery. I enjoyed parts of it solo, parts of it dipped in ice coffee, all while reading my monthly alumni magazine (and getting it wet).

As I was getting up from the table to leave, one of the (male) cashiers said, “So did you have a girl or a boy?”

I heard him perfectly, so I said, “Whattt??”

“Oh, I guess I thought you were someone else…I’m sorry.” (said with an Oops… look on his face)

Not as sorry as I am for just having a carb-o-licious muffin. Story of my life. And he is someone who flirts with me (not tooting my horn – swear – if you could see him you’d understand) every time I frequent the shop (say once a week).

That day, I apparently looked post-natal. Yippie.

Rumor 2: I went to the dentist this morning. The hygienist said I was due to have the bite-wing X-rays. Ok, fine (rob me unnecessarily). As she held up the X-ray protection smock to lay over me (they can do the x-ray in the chair at this fancy-fancy place), she said, “Now is there any chance that you could be pregnant?”

“No,” I said aloud, “you f’ing bitch,” added internally.

This day, I apparently looked like I could be with child (or was overly sensitive to a routine question).

Looming misfortune of my life: Pregnancy rumors and I haven’t even kissed someone in X#*!@ months.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Olive Oil Clogged My Muse

But now I'm back from the land of tzadiki and feeling thinky (and hungry for the taste of Opa!).

Grape leaves for breakfast and other insights of an alumnus. Muse on.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Air Kisses with Salman Rushdie

Normally when authors come to speak where I work, I get a photo with them cheek-to-cheek. But when authors have formally had a fatwa (religious edict calling for someone to be killed) aimed at them, I like to keep a bit of a distance. Salman Rushdie, I thought you were great; please don’t take it personally.

Thoughts on my new hair color??

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh Deer

I was walking back to Jackie-land (my stu-stu studio) at around 9:30 pm on Sunday night in DC – when all of DC is tucked away in apartments and condos most likely larger than mine. I’m only a five minute walk from the metro, but much of the sidewalk I tread to get home is lined with bushes on one side.

Bushes can be scary at night, especially if you’re a woman.

I walked passed one guy who seemed sketchy, after which I was slightly on edge and hypersensitive to sounds around me.

Just before my apartment building, there’s a mini-forest that leads into Rock Creek Park. This is cute during daylight hours but freaks me out at night.

As I’m walking past said forest, I hear a rustling in the trees. So, like any good potential victim, I stop (instead of continuing to walk at a brisk pace) and try to see the cause of the noise.


Three of them. (Well, maybe two, but it was dark and I was scared).

Deer, just steps away from Connecticut Ave. in the middle of a major city. Yowsa.

The deer and I made eye contact. Their antlers were huge, so I pondered if I was staring at reindeer.

Then, fear found me and concern, too, that the deer would want to eat me. So, I ran as fast as I could to the front doors of my apartment building to the tune of a, “Please don’t eat me. Were those reindeer?? Please don’t eat me. Please.” internal chant.

I’m a yogi. I chant.

Then I called my mom to tell her that I thought I could have been eaten by deer. Story of my life. She told me she had to run to the supermarket before it closed because she was dying for a Hershey bar. Story of her life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Found My Hair Twin

Here she is. Now if only I had her waistline.

And nose. Story of my life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Sniffed Elie Wiesel’s Coat

Elie Wiesel - Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate, author of 40 books, professor, and political activist – spoke last night at the synagogue where I work. I was responsible for coordinating the event – yowsa.

After schmoozing at a pre-reception with big donors, Mr. Wiesel headed to the green room (my shared office). Mr. Wiesel asked that I track down his coat (somewhere in the building) and have it ready for when the program ended so he could leave right away (he made a wind sound, like, “phhhzzooop,” to convey the speed at which he wanted to exit). He had a flight to catch; I get it.

I found his coat and carried it to the room through which he would be leaving. In that little room I had a moment where I thought, “Oh my God. This is Elie Wiesel’s coat.” The man who recently went to Auschwitz with Oprah. I wonder if he wore this coat with Oprah. What should I do?

I sniffed it – no smell.

I held it up to get a good look – nice coat. Burberry. The name Elisha Wiesel (a Yiddish variation?) was embroidered on a petite label, sewn just above the tag on the inside of the coat.
Should I try it on? No, no.

I placed it gently on a chair and resumed rational behavior.

Just before he went on stage, I asked Mr. Wiesel if he would mind autographing something for the synagogue. He didn’t mind the autograph, just the fact that I mispronounced his name. He corrected my stress on the “W” by saying, “VEE-zull.”

I meet an icon and the strongest memory I’ll have is of him correcting my speech. Story of my life.

I said, “I’m sorry, Mr. VEE-zull.”

He said, “Hmmp, VY-zull?” as if he wasn’t even sure if it was pronounced VEE-zull or VY-zull. What was certain was that the letter “W” should not be pronounced in the way an American, native English speaker (like me) would intuitively say it.

On his way out, I handed Mr. Wiesel his coat – no “thank you” offered (yes, I expect everyone to be gracious) – and didn’t utter a word or a “W.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brazen Breakup Prose

I've been busy writing this and this, so I haven't had much time to chronicle the absuridty of my life. I'll be better; I promise.

So as not to leave you holding your breath (right...), my sister decided to borrow my bike (that I never use) and ride it - in our apartment building - along the carpeted hallways - at 11:55 pm on Sunday night. We're bad. We're so, so bad.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Week in the Story of My Life

Monday: Hosted an event at work for an author/environmental activist who gave up riding in cars for 22 years in favor of walking and also took a vow of silence for 17 years. Being a walker myself, I asked him which shoe he most preferred. He gave me a long answer.

I went to the press-only sneak preview of a new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. I am not a member of the press. My badge read, "PRESS."

Wednesday: Attended a networking breakfast at The Caucus Room. I left feeling like I was a super delegate.

That same evening I went to a reception in the Capitol, where I felt certain that, indeed, I was a super delegate.

Thursday: Over dinner, my friend told me that she got a $15,000 bonus. The check was in her purse. I told her that I got a $2,000 bonus at my last review. She paid for dinner.

Friday: I berated my co-worker for tapping his fingers on his desk. Thoughts of a corner office with a door and deadbolt abound.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Words Are Like a Gypsie

They keep on moving. Check out my post on Brazen Careerist.

Warning: The post does not include the words, "Story of my life." I know, it's rough, but there's a time and a place for everything.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Words Travel

Mine do, at least. Check out my first post for the website about a superhero whose domain is love or the lack thereof (appropriate for me). If you come across any interesting articles or news about love/dating/relationships/smooch-material, do pass on. Story of my life musings to come soon.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why These Men Will Never See Me Naked

I’m a firm believer that misdirected attention is a strong current that pulls my chances of ever finding a loving relationship out of Cupid’s reach. The following vignettes are true instances of men – whom I would never bring home to Mom and Dad - showing me unwanted attention. All occurred within a span of one (1!) week, just to drive home the point that I surely must have assaulted someone in another life to have such tainted love karma.

● Leaving the grocery store, a homeless man standing outside the exit asked me for money. Rain + hands full of groceries + concern for safety as a 5’2” woman pulling her wallet out at night = motivation to just keep walking.

“Can’t I even get a hug?” he shouted after me. I grimaced in his direction, provoking him to call out obscenities about my body. Glorious.

● A garbage truck drove by me as I was walking to work and the man hanging off the back blew kisses at me. Right, like I would ever go for someone who didn’t wear their seat belt.

● The student teacher assisting in yoga class checked me out as I rolled out my mat. Throughout class he gave new meaning to the term “hands-on assists,” introducing his hands to my hips, upper thighs, and the outer edges of my ears (weird).

When I was in
Paschimothanasana, he squatted behind me - placing a foot to the outside of each tush cheek – and pressed his belly (Buddha-esque) against my back, pushing forward to ease me further into the pose and apparently accomplish his own ulterior motive. Gross.

● On the metro home after my invasive yoga class, an Irish man leaned over to me and said, (read in your best Irish accent) “You have a striking resemblance to that woman in the poster o’r there.” Oh, you mean the woman who’s twice my age with crows feet, a side part (and a barrette to boot), and is endorsing asthma medication for her five year old son? Why thank you. Story of my life.

Obladi Oblada.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Single Commotion

I was feeling a little bored at work recently – more so because I was tired and felt like I was useless in my lethargic state, less so because of my job (which I really like).

So I did what anyone else would do; I went on Facebook. I noticed that my profile seemed a little more robust than those of my friends, compelling me to delete some Jackie-facts. I removed the notation about my being single because I'm always single; it's a given, basically.

Well, this caused a bit of a stir, in the form of three people almost immediately contacting me – two from across the ocean (how I love me a European) – all male, one gay (story of my life).

Why such an interest? I wish I knew.

One inquiry came from the live-in beau of my co-worker, another from a gay best friend who wouldn't have me (I might have suggested it), and the third interest in my status change was from someone with whom I shared a memorable embrace on a small island off the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia in the wee hours of the night. Ok, so maybe it's a good thing that he cared.

And then when I was checking in this afternoon for the Avon walk for breast cancer that I'm doing over the weekend, the song with the dominant lyric, "Been around the world and I, I, I…I can't find my baby," was playing.

It occurred to me that this is my theme song. I'm well-traveled – 17 countries have my footprint (18 in June…Opa!) – and I have not a baby to show for it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

He Has Returneth to Moi

I don’t know what I’m trying to accomplish with that title, but nonetheless, onward with my senseless revelation of all things that should remain unspoken (or un-typed).

My favorite yoga teacher went to India for two weeks, and it took a toll on me. He’s someone who likely doesn’t know the affect he has on people (me). When not providing the gentlest, hands-on guidance during a yoga practice, he’s a clinical social worker, my basis for feeling like I’ve had a cathartic therapy session after a class with him.

I know you can’t state an affirmation of the future, but dare I affirm that for the rest of my life, he’ll be the yoga teacher that all others are compared to.

I was there - perched on my hot pink yoga mat - for his first post-India class. He smiled and said hello, making me blushing – gay men just have that affect on me. Story of my life.

And as I watched him roll out his mat, light a candle, and set up his iPod, I had this strong desire to wrap myself around his lower leg the way a little kid does when a parent leaves for work/somewhere the kid can’t go.

What would have been so bad if he led class with me affixed to his calf?

Did I mention that I had a dream about him during his sabbatical? I told him after class, following my “I’m so glad you’re back” utterance of yogic love. He said that I was channeling him. Boy was I.

Like I’ve said before, love someone the best way you know how, even if it is an unconventional relationship – the outcome can leave you seeing beauty in a place you never would have looked for it, not to mention a bearer of toned quads.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nail Polish & Postage, An Unlikely Treasure

I got a “polish change” in the Old Post Office Pavilion during my lunch hour. It’s the more cost effective alternative to a manicure, and you avoid the risk of dirty instruments and trimmed cuticles that grow back thicker.

Getting my nails painted is a far cry from the
hair removal activities I used to do on my lunch hour at my former, dreaded job.

I didn’t know that my walk (in search of fresh air and quick culture) to the Old Post Office Pavilion would result in my returning to work with prettified nails, but then again, you never know when a new opportunity is around the corner (or in a historic post office).

I hadn’t been to the Old Post Office Pavilion since my 5th grade class trip, when we visited the landmark for lunch (or was it dinner?). It seemed smaller than I remembered, but I guess I was smaller back then, too. But not by much, because I’m still pretty small. Smaller than I am pretty? A constant internal debate. Story of my life.

But the prettiness of my nails after my modern day visit to the Old Post Office Pavilion? No question. Gorgeous.

So how did I get my nails done at the Old Post Office Pavilion? There was a sign outside for Connie’s Nails, and I thought, “How many people are going into the Old Post Office Pavilion for beauty treatments?”

My hunch was right on. Jennie (not Connie) took me right away, and complimented me on the new hue of
my hair. In addition to the nail salon, there are several mall-food-court’esque eateries and touristy souvenir shops in the Old Post Office Pavilion.

I didn’t notice if there is a functioning post office in the Old Post Office Pavilion. Who cares? Not I, so long as Connie and Jennie stay put.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Red in the Face

Why? Because I’m so angry.

Why? Because my hair isn’t red.

I went to the salon to dye my hair, but the end result is anything but red. I feel like I took 10 steps back in the hair game.

Why? Because I’ve been bringing this picture of what I believe to be my soulmate hair color (in the red family) to the last three hair appointments, and each time the stylist (who is very talented) tells me that we have to reduce the blonde and move toward brown before we go toward red.

Fine. She’s considered the expert in dying hair red in DC.

So, we’ve been going to light browns with reddish undertones and some blonde highlights for contrast, and today was the day when we were supposed to make me a redhead. She seemed hesitant when she looked at the photo I brought, and like an artist who refuses to budge even though you are a customer paying LOTS of money (Correct. No one put a gun to my head.), she said that she would do something more subtle, but in the direction of what I wanted.


I write to you now as someone with light brown hair with blonde highlights. That’s so mainstream. And I am anything but mainstream.

I’m weird.

That’s why I wanted to go red. Redheads are mysterious and awkward, qualities I think I embody.

I can’t fill the shoes of a blonde; I just don’t have that much fun.

Jackie-fun, yes. But not blonde-fun. That would involve dates (more frequent than annually) and drinking (things other than San Pellegrino).

And I’m not this shallow of a person (I’m really not), even though I’m refusing to let go of the anger I feel about my non-red hair. It’s just that when you have the taste of ‘what’s next?’ always lingering on your tongue, sometimes the only things it seems you can control are tangible ones, like the clothes you wear, the food you eat, and the yoga mat you use (I have two options).

I also got my period the morning of the hair color debacle, and that leaves me severely emotional and feeling like ‘whatever is next’ could only suck. A lot. So my outlook on life (and I guess my hair) nosedives.

My reliably annoying sister also called me in the middle of my hair appointment to check on progress. The salon is on the first floor of the building where she works, so she wanted me to go upstairs and show her the finished product when I was done – which she communicated to me by text message earlier in the day.

Apparently she thinks I need double reinforcement.

Apparently she doesn’t get that for me, haircuts are like massages and movies – I don’t want to be spoken to in the middle of my respite of relaxation from regular life.

I left the salon, called my mom and started to cry, and made no climbs in altitude to see my sister. I walked toward my yoga studio, mat slung on my shoulder in a brown yoga bag with hot pink polka dots to boot – to match the hot pink yoga mat inside.

While on the phone with my mom, my sister called me and I hit “Ignore.” So she called my mom to say that she just went into the salon and they said I had just left. I should meet her at the metro.

Do you see what I’m dealing with? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my sister is now also my neighbor. She moved into my building this past weekend. My sister is basically a walking anxiety attack, which doesn’t mesh well with the Zen pace of life I try to lead.

She’s calling as I write this. Story of my life.

If she knocks on my door, I’ll flip my lid.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Come On, Baby, Light My Cherry

Blossom, that is. Tis’ the two-week season when cherry blossoms grace DC and residents and tourists (uninformed metro riders) go berserk for the little flowers embellishing the Tidal Basin and surrounding monuments.

Me and my date for all seasons went on an evening lantern tour (8:00 – 10:00 pm) to see the little (and big) blossoms at the tail end of their revered reign. Approaching the check-in tent, lady date said that she heard every person on the tour gets their own lantern.

This made me glow. Growing up in Florida and only knowing vacation through the lens of Disney World, the prospect of having my very own lantern lit the feeling of magic inside me, a feeling usually only evoked when a Disney character waves to me (like there’s no mistaking it – it’s me they’re greeting) during a parade.

We arrived to a huge crowd of 90 people that had to be split into two separate groups. Don’t worry, lady date and I weren’t separated. Sadly, there were only 20 lanterns to go around, and I wasn’t bestowed with a happy-prop. Story of my life. I know.

A ranger from the US Parks & Recreation department led the tour. Ranger Rose (fitting name for the occasion, huh?) stopped along the way to share historical anecdotes (he had majored in history) and allow people to ask stupid questions (yeah, there is such a thing. I bore witness. Repeatedly.) that made the tour last an additional 20 minutes. On a school night, nonetheless.

My one question for the evening: How often do people fall into the Tidal Basin? A railing is missing from a long section of the basin and, as an unskilled swimmer, I was concerned and curious about their established rescue plan (there isn’t one).

Some people opted to not finish the tour so they passed off their lanterns. ¾ of the way through the tour, I was lantern rich with two vessels of illumination. One died quickly, but the other could rival Kennedy’s eternal flame.

The lanterns made me giddy, and my lady date did a terrific job at capturing my feelings of jubilation.

All photo credits, the severely talented Allison Kirsch.

For inquiring minds, Ranger Rose is 6’4” tall – “without the boots.”

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thanks, Jackie.

I went to Barnes & Noble in search of a card for my friend’s 25th birthday (thank God she’s seeing that milestone first).

I was explaining the term “quarter-life crisis” to my grandpa en route to the store. I told him I’d been feeling the effects of anxiousness, confusion, hypertension (have I really?), a sense of urgency, and [insert other desperate sounding side effect] since my early 20s, so maybe the reverse of typical quarter-life feelings would be my destiny on the day I turn 25 (August 9). Fingers, arms, and legs crossed. Picture it.

“I think you’ve been dealing with that since you were born.”

Thanks, Poppa.

As for my friend (buddies since pre-school), she has quarter-life feelings, too, but she’s found her way to grad school (oh how I wish I could revive my lunch pail) and is one-half of a loving relationship (as for me, that’ll be the day).

Anyway, I approached the check-out counter and a guy with a masculine appearance spoke to me in a tone that didn’t match his scruffy exterior. His subdued, calming voice breathed an inquiry about my status as a Barnes & Noble rewards club member. I said that I wasn’t a card carrying member and, much to my surprise, he didn’t try to recruit me to his side of the register.

I struggled with my wallet to retrieve $3.12 (For paper! Just paper and a message my writing could rival. “Why not make your own card,” you ask? Because I don’t have the time or the energy at present time, but I do have the supplies.)

The manly cashier handed me a bag with the card inside (wasteful in an environmental sense?) and said, “Thanks, Jackie.”

The “God?” in the beginning of Madonna’s Like a Prayer found its rhythm in my head.

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone

I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

I paused for a few seconds and then asked how he knew my name.

“It’s on your license.”

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there

Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there

And then – in the way that I always want to know how things work – I questioned if he saw my license when I was fumbling with my wallet.

“Yeah,” he said with a smile.

But my license says, “Jacqueline.”

How did he know I go by “Jackie,” I wondered pronouncedly, (a state of mind that often leaves my lips ajar/not a pretty expression). Story of my life.

I walked away smiling to myself (and maybe to passersby?), amused with the simple exchange that made me feel so alive.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Caught Between a Sheepdog and My Moral Conscience

As I was leaving Firehook Bakery with a soy au lait in hand, I pulled open the door and in walked a sheepdog (rather, everything but the sheepdog’s hind legs). The sheepdog’s leash was tied to a bench just outside the place that has the best oat bran muffin in town (and no longer seems to charge extra for soy milk - score).

“Uh ohhh,” I thought to myself.

I hadn’t taken a sip of my awakening potion yet and, therefore, my reflexes were reminiscent of molasses.

I stood there between the sheepdog and the door, feeling paralyzed. I started to let the door inch toward closing, but the sheepdog didn’t budge. Story of my life.

Now I’m also a little scared of big dogs, so I didn’t want to pull on his leash or nudge his hairy frame with my own hand. So, I just stood there with my right hand preventing the door from closing on the sheepdog’s neck and my soy au lait in my left hand, beckoning me to drink its contents.

The layout of the bakery is a long hallway, with the counter on one side and tables for two on the other side. In the midst of my sheepdog predicament, it was as if everyone at their tables (those patrons facing my direction) leaned slightly in toward the walkway so they could see what was happening in the doorway – namely, a sheepdog making me look like a complete idiot.

The patrons looked at me and the pooch, then leaned back in to their edibles and beverages (all of which I hoped were poisoned because they didn’t help me).

If I just let the door go, it would have pinned the sheepdog between the door and the door frame right at the sheepdog’s neck, and I believe I would have been stoned.

Finally, a woman at a table nearby said, “I’m going to help this poor woman.”

Wait a second…I’m a woman? And the beat goes on.

She very confidently put her hand under the sheepdog’s head – near his upper torso and lower neck – and pushed him outside, making a “shhh shhh shhh shhh” noise. I quickly let go of the door and headed down Connecticut Ave., back to my apartment in time for my monthly women’s writing group.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sittin’ Itchy

How long it seems since I was sittin’ pretty. Pretty doesn’t feel within arms reach when you’re encased in wool. It’s nearly April and I’m wearing wool – still.

I ache for an opportunity to move to a locale further South. Right around the Equator sounds ideal.

En route to a yoga class, I stopped at The Mayflower Hotel (made famous by a loser of a former governor) to use their loo. There’s something you should know about me; I thoroughly enjoy using bathrooms in fancy hotels.

When I spent a semester abroad in Prague, I used the loo at The Four Seasons daily, sometimes twice in a period of 24 hours. Those were the days. You just have to know where the bathroom is (straight past the ornate statue in the lobby, down the two-tiered staircase, and make a sharp – and I mean sharp - left) and walk with a purpose.

I entered The Mayflower Hotel with my hot pink yoga mat slung on my back and sneakers on my feet (enabling me to walk to work and sometimes back home, too.) The lobby was bustling with people who seemed important, elegant and educated. There was a man wearing a bow tie. I knew my destination and prayed for an invisibility cloak.

“Ho hum, ho hum, I don’t belong here,” I thought to myself. Story of my life.

Lately, I don’t know where I belong. I’m approaching the age of 25 in four months and am doing some serious thinking to surely frazzle myself enough to provoke the ominous quarter-life crises.

So yeah, I’m feeling itchy on the inside and out.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Here's to Hope

Last Saturday, I went to visit my great aunt who's recovering from surgery that eradicated cancer in her lungs. She's staying at The American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge, a phenomenal residential facility for people receiving cancer treatment far from their home.

Finding myself on I HEART NY soil, I exited the bus I took from DC and headed straight to Dunkin Donuts. I was cranky from the cramped seating (yes, even people who are 5'2" need leg room) and in need of a DD fix. Only in New York City does DD have soy milk. God bless 'em.

A few sips into my brew and hostility in check, I called my aunt to let her know I was close by. She said to call her again when I was at Hope Lodge and she'd come down to the lobby to meet me because my great uncle was at the dollar store. Okay.

I waited for just a few minutes in the building's lobby and then appeared my aunt. I immediately started crying, the kind of heavy crying that is audible and not attractive because it also makes your nose run (heavily).

My aunt was wearing a pink sweat suit and a white baseball hat (to conceal her lack of hair from chemo to treat her breast cancer) from a 2002 Super Bowl – not sure where she got that. I couldn't really hug her because her back was still very tender from the surgery. Instead, I kissed her and cried.

She took me up to the 6th floor, a multi-purpose space complete with a meditation room, computer lab, large kitchen, TV and lounge area, and an outdoor deck the length of the building (yowsa).

My aunt introduced me to this guy and one of her favorite staff members. She's like the Miss Congeniality of Hope Lodge. She told me to take some life savers from a jar on the reception desk before we went back to her room.

My great uncle came back from the dollar store with three items: slippers, vacuum-packed salami, and a new wallet. Mmmhhhm. And that was his second trip there that day. Apparently the dollar store has a grocery section.

He then proceeded to make my aunt a salami sandwich on rye bread. I offered mild protest, believing that she should be eating foods more macrobiotic-esque and less E-coli-prone. My voice was not heard.

I looked over at the desk in the room they've been sharing for the past month and saw a big cup of life savers.

"Did you take those from the 6th floor?" I asked my aunt.

"Yeah. Sure I did."

Ok, don't argue propriety with someone recovering from cancer.

My parents arrived and got a tour of the 6th floor, too. My aunt has a way of intending to whisper but actually being quite loud.

Just as someone would pass us in the hallway, she'd whisper (i.e. shout), "Pancreatic cancer. Doesn't have a chance." Or, "That one…full of cancer!"

To which I would exhale heavily and send my bangs upward. Story of my life.

When we got back to her room, she – in her usual way – only wanted to offer us food. There was a mini-fridge marked "For medication only" and inside I saw tomato juice, Trader Joe's organic yogurt, vacuum-packed Kiełbasa (also from the dollar store), and other things that didn't require a prescription.

There's a journal in each person's room so the patient can write about their stay before leaving. My aunt asked me to write something for her based on how she felt about Hope Lodge. She told me her ideas, and then we went to the computer lab so I could make prose out of her sincere gratitude.

I printed two copies of the letter, which she retrieved from the printer. As we were getting ready to leave, I saw a thick stack of paper in her hand.

"What do you have there? Are you taking that stack of blank paper back to your room?" I asked.

"Yeah. Sure I am."

Again, not the time to point out ethics.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cucumber Samaritan

Having spent the weekend in NYC (about which I want to blog, but my mom says I can’t. How many of you have a mom who worries about who reads your blog and what they’ll think? Mom, I have less than 20 subscribers. Please. To be continued, readers.), I was in desperate need of groceries so off to Giant (gross) I went.

As I was making the ten minute walk back to my one-room show, I noticed that my 14-inch seedless cucumber had poked through the plastic grocery bag. Story of my life. I know, I know…I’m a criminal in the eyes of green do-ers. I should have taken the paper bag, which likely would have put up a stronger fight in the face of an overpriced cucumber.

It was also raining. Two heavy PLASTIC grocery bags (Nope, separate bags. I don’t double-bag. I’m not that much of a foe to our planet.) and an umbrella – it was like being pulled in two directions. The down force was stronger.

“Excuse me,” I heard someone say from behind. I scooted to the left side of the sidewalk, as I was walking straight down the middle. Selfish with my stride, I guess.

Then again, “Excuse me, you dropped this. Your bag ripped,” and there appeared a rather good looking guy with an arm outstretched toward me and my seedless cucumber in his hand.

“Oh godddd…thank you,” I said as I reached out to grab the other end of the seedless cucumber.

And there we stood, hand-in-hand (via an overpriced seedless cucumber) gazing at each other (was he Ethiopian?) for a brief moment before he let go and walked ahead of me.

Now I had to manage two slightly less heavy (minus the cuke) PLASTIC grocery bags, an umbrella, and a stray seedless cucumber in the crook of my arm. I laughed to myself but out loud, so any passerby coming toward me must have thought that my imaginary friend (or cucumber) and I were having a jolly good time together.

We were, but it would have been more fun if the cucumber Samaritan had stuck around.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Liberty and Caffeine for All

As you read this, coffee beans are being farmed in rural Uganda. Along with the beans, peace is sprouting from the ground and primitive approaches to life and business are fostering a level of peace we – intelligent, developed, seemingly superior nations – can’t seem to come close to.

Ugandan Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Catholics chose to overcome religious differences in favor of economic development and quality of life in the form of a coffee farm cooperative. Imagine that.

The coffee is sold to the Thanksgiving Coffee Company, and the farmers receive prices four times higher than what they previously earned. The financial improvement allows them to send their kids to school and open savings accounts.

Four farmers from the Mirembe Kawomera coffee farm in Uganda spoke at the place where I work, but I was at my weekly volunteer gig so I had to miss the program. [Insert massive frown.]

The American couple hosting the farmers invited my co-worker to a dinner at their house the next night and said that she could bring a guest. She chose me. I jumped up and down when she told me the news. I was airborne. At least three times.

We pulled up to quite a nice home in Silver Spring, Maryland, and JJ, Sam, Margaret, and Sinina were outside. We said our hellos and shook hands. Sam shook my hand for what seemed like a while. He would shake my hand several times throughout the night. At length.

And so began a one-of-a-kind experience of having a family style meal with farmers from Uganda and Washingtonians who numb me with their intelligence and life experiences. The farmers talked about the co-op, JJ played a variation of the guitar while the others sang, and Sam remained a reliable shaker of my hand (and close-talker).

In their month-long tour of the US – visiting synagogues, churches, and mosques – the farmers have been wowed by snow, airplanes, escalators, elevators, and countless other inventions we don’t even give a second thought.

What does it mean to buy Mirembe Kawomera Coffee? According to JJ, the founder and chairman of the cooperative, “It means that the buyer and the consumer want quality, peace and love, and this can be spread world over.”

So, I urge you – if you have any influence over the coffee that your company orders – order from Mirembe Kawomera, which translates to “Delicious Peace.” And yes, the coffee is yummy.

Upon leaving, Sam shook my hand (surprise, surprise) and said, “Ohhh, I thought you were going to sleep over here with us.”

A Ugandan farmer with nine children wants me to spend the night – a whole new dimension to the story of my life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Stomach Ache

I’m growling as I write this. Apparently my posts haven’t been feeding to my reader (whatever the heck that means). I’m an old soul with words to share, but technology is not my middle name. It’s Sara. For a while (…years) I couldn’t remember if it ended in an “h” or not. I wish my middle name was Granola.

I attempted to fix the problem, so could you kind-hearted folks hit the pink RSS feed button (thank you deeply, Ryan P.) and make sure you’re subscribed and well fed?

Please let me know if my posts are appearing on your reader. If not, do help me. And to think that some of you missed out on all of the
nuts I’ve consumed recently. Almond joys and technical difficulty – story of my life.

Matchmaker Sans Discretion

My great aunt recently had surgery to eradicate an internal enemy: cancer. That’s why I’m doing this. For the past few years, she’s been overly concerned about my sister and I finding husbands. My sister is 27 and I’m 24 ½. My parents think that my sister might require a dowry. (Sorry, Julie.)

“Please. I want to go to a wedding before I die. Do you think that can happen?” says my Polish, Holocaust surviving aunt.

Nothing like Jewish guilt to make a serial single girl question her place in the world.

“Probably not,” I say. I think I left my filter somewhere.

She says that we’re both too picky. What’s wrong with being picky? Picky might keep you single (though not indefinitely, believes the optimist in me), but it also keeps you from swimming in the same pool as 50% of the population who find themselves divorced. And people often treat pools as if they are a loo.

She says that if we don’t use our female anatomy, “it’s going to get rusty.”

Nothing like Jewish guilt to make a serial single girl question the livelihood of her inner thighs.

While being treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, my great aunt is staying in the facility’s residential complex with other cancer patients and their families. My aunt met someone who she thought would be great for my sister.

She called Julie to tell her about the potential match.

My question-prone sister: “How old is he?”


My quick to negate an opportunity sister: “That’s too old.“

“Why do you have to be such a picky pain in the tuchus, huh?”

My rational sister: “My mom is around 47.”


My increasingly inquisitive sister: “How do you know him?”

“He’s a cancer patient. Cancer in the leg. I think part of his leg was removed.”

My dream-crushing sister: “I don’t think it’s going to work…”


My straight and to the point sister: “Because he’s FORTY-SEVEN and HE HAS CANCER.”

When I heard the story, I wished she had tried to set me up because I thought it would have made for an interesting blog post. I mulled it over and realized that I could write about someone other than ME (imagine that). So hear it is – the story of my sister’s life.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sandbox Perspective

For exactly 24 hours, I had the pleasure of having a childhood friend visit me in DC. For certain folks - mi studio, su studio. In between jobs, Jori had an enviable 3-week winter reprieve from her residence in NYC that translated into a cushy stay with her mom in our former stomping grounds of South Florida. Palm trees and fresh squeezed orange juice galore. Well, yes, a recent major power outage in Miami, but we hailed from the far nicer locale of Ft. Lauderdale. You Miami’ans want to prove me otherwise?

Jori is a unique name, yes? Poor thing has spent her entire life spelling her name for teachers, new friends, registration personnel, and inquiring minds who just want to know how she got a name like that. A phrase that ran through our past was, “It’s like ‘Lori’ but with a J.”

Even my own father couldn’t get one of my best friend’s name’s right. I’d come home to a note on the kitchen table that read, “Your friend Rory (or worse, Drory) called.”

While pregnant, Jori’s mom read a book by an author named Dorian Gray. She switched out the “D” for a “J” and so was born Jorian. Jori for short (or torture, at all graduation ceremonies and when she was on The Today Show). Watch the video, yo.

Upon meeting in 3rd grade, I had glasses and braces and Jori was carrying some excess weight. Together, we coped with life as any two dorky kids would – we banded together.

From age eight to 22, we fell most places on the friendship continuum – friends only because we had friends in common, acquaintances, best friends forever (BFF!), and silent strangers passing in the hallway.

Only two or so reunions since college, I was thrilled when Jori said she wanted to come visit en route back to New York. On the day of her arrival, we text messaged back and forth about train times and when I could pick her up. I was dealing with a crisis (Jackie-defined) at work, I conveyed in abbreviated abuse of our fine English language.

It hit me how weird it was to be saying something so adult – crisis at work – to my friend who I remembered most vividly as someone sitting next to me in the backseat of one of our mom’s cars, or at an assembly in our elementary school cafeteria. I felt like I was playing dress-up; how could I be talking about work with Jori? Studying, maybe, but work?

I met her at the train station – a stunning knock-out and excess-free. She was having lunch at a café when I arrived (salad…where’s the PB&J, Jor?). In between bites, she told me about leaving her first job post-college after three years, taking a new job that proved disastrous after just three months, and how she was looking forward to leaving the recent quarter-life crises’esque feelings behind her to start fresh at another job. And we thought AP exams were rough.

We made our way back to my stu-stu studio, a room embellished with what some might consider an illegal amount of pink. Jori loved my rosey abode, though. I thought to myself, “How is she visiting me in my apartment, that I pay for?” So weird.

That night, I brought Jori to the language school where I volunteer teaching English to non-native speakers. As I told the class, she was our very special guest. Indeed. From there, we headed back to where I work for a lecture by Richie Roberts (the real person behind Russell Crowe’s character in the film American Gangster).

Into my office we go. Jori, this is my desk.

Then we met Richie Roberts and took some photos. Jori enjoyed the lecture and even asked a question during the Q&A period. “That’s my friend,” I thought proudly.

From there we went for an indulgent dinner at Acadiana, gourmet Southern cuisine. Not a minute after sitting down did I unintentionally knock the silverware off of the bread plate, with the result of a loud, clanging noise in a nearly empty restaurant. DC goes to bed early. I also got butter (again, not on purpose) all over the cloth placemat.

“This is why I don’t date,” I told her. We seemed like kids in a grown-up world, eating our biscuits and halibut. Story of my life.

Back to my pink paradise and then to bed shortly after. Before passing out (feeling young and old simultaneously), we talked about mutual friends, what we’d do tomorrow, traveling, guys and sex. Ok, ok. She talked about guys and sex.

We awoke to a cold and rainy DC day. “Ok, go shower," I told her. “I’ll go when you’re done.” Aren’t I a gracious host?

The 3rd grade duet needed coffee to get their bearings. When did we evolve from chocolate milk? Maybe I should get a mocha, I thought. Maybe then this would feel less surreal.

We had brunch and walked around Georgetown. I remember when it was a huge deal for our parents to let us go to the mall alone. We’d try on bras at Victoria’s Secret, even though we really had nothing to put in them. Jori does now. Boy does she.

And then it came time for her to go back to NYC, back to the friends who didn’t have their first sip of alcohol in her living room with her older brother.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Justice Stephen Breyer’s Nuts

And the beat goes on. I ate Justice Breyer’s nuts tonight – before, during, and after a program he gave at work. Each time I passed through the green room, I couldn’t help but reach out to grab one (or three) of his nuts and pop them into my mouth.

Remember when I ate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nuts? She had requested a special variety of nuts, but Justice Breyer made no specifications. I selected Planters NUT*rition Energy Mix, comprised of almonds, honey roasted sesame sticks, peanuts, dark chocolate covered soynuts, walnuts, and pecans. I love dark chocolate and I’m on a soy kick, so why not introduce Justice Breyer to a few of my favorite things?

I first met Justice Breyer’s head security guard, Mark, of the Supreme Court Police (I’d love to live a day in the life) in the late afternoon to show him around and explain the flow of the evening program. I made no mention of my intention to eat Justice Breyer’s nuts. He didn’t have a clue (and hopefully never will).

Before the program, two (male) co-workers were going out to get dinner and asked if I wanted anything.

“No, I’m ok. I’ll just eat Justice Breyer’s nuts.” Then they blushed. Red cheeks over almonds, who would have thought?

Alerted by security guard Mark calling my cell phone, I was in place to open the door for Justice Breyer. In he came wearing a bright reddish-orange jacket, with his wife close by. I didn’t tell her that I had and would continue to eat her husband’s nuts throughout the evening. Story of my life.

The Justice had actually gone home early from work because of flu-like symptoms but still made it to the program (don’t you love insider details?). Major PHEW since I was responsible for the event. We put out cough drops for him in the green room (diagonal from his nuts) and he had one; the wrapper now sits on my kitchen counter. The remainder of his nuts – those that I didn’t eat – are in a jar, also on my kitchen counter next to the jar labeled “Justice Ginsburg’s Nuts.” I also brought home the remaining water in his drinking glass. I find this hilarious (insert evil laugh).
You may think I’m weird (sick), but you’re still reading this. And you’ll continue to. Yeah. Yeah you will.

I was lucky enough to get a photo with the Justice and his wife, Hon. Joanna Freda Hare, a member of the British aristocracy (a Justice and he gets to ascend the throne). Perhaps I’ll print it on a label to affix to the jar containing his remaining nuts, suitably capturing the significance of meeting one of the most powerful men in the country.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I’d Dish Him

Last night at work, we had a French pastry cooking class with Fabrice Bendano, 1789 Restaurant’s Executive Pastry Chef. He was sweet, no pun intended. This food lovin’ friend o’ mine would have been in heaven.

Fabrice had visited the office days before the class to check out our kitchen supplies (a mish mosh due to the crazy world of Kashrut). Upon first glance, I decided that I wanted to be his special helper come class time. So when I went into the kitchen last night as Fabrice was getting organized (measuring cacao chips), I said, “Hi. I can help if you need it. You know, like be your sous chef.”

Fabrice smiled and then we were in business. I was a good little helper until he told me to measure out sugar – “5 times, 2 cups” for the five groups the class was divided into. I was making my third measurement of regular sugar when Fabrice said (read with your best French accent), “Ohhh, no no no. The con-feCK-shu-nurr’s shoo-gawr.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said. When am I ever that quick to apologize (especially to a guy)? When there’s a lovely French man – Paris born – wearing a becoming chef’s jacket and proving that he can satisfy my most dire need in life – varied styles for chocolate consumption.

Fabrice moved slowly and wasn’t the least bit concerned that he was ½ hour late starting the class. Man I love me a European hedonist with no sense of urgency.

Class began and instead of teaching everyone at once, Fabrice went around and taught each of the five groups separately. Completely impractical, but the man can do no wrong in my eyes.

He came back into the kitchen at one point, where I was melting chocolate in a microwave (only for a French man would I stand in front of a microwave for an extended period of time) and said, “Ahhh, do you have any vA-tir…I’m sir-stee.”

Fabrice, I’m sir-stee for your love (I did not just write that).

I quenched his thirst.

The aftermath of crunchy chocolate truffle cake and diamond butter cookies? Me and my co-workers washing countless dishes until 10:00 pm. A 9:00 am – evening day, story of my life.

“I don’t wash dishes at home. I have a dishwasher,” I said for no purpose to my co-workers who were distracted, licking remnants of chocolate off of spatulas and out of mixing bowls. Overtime brings out the hungry in people, I suppose.

My farewell with Fabrice was bittersweet (again, no pun), because the chocolate king is married. Of course he is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Listen to Your Butt

Ever since I signed up for the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer, I’ve elected for metro-abstinence and have been walking the 4 mile distance between my stu-stu-studio and work. I love this new element to my mornings, so much so that I elected to walk to work today, when the average temperature was 19 degrees.

Hi, I’m a Floridian by birth, and I get the chills from ice cream to prove it. It wasn’t the cold that bothered me most. What really turned my mood sour (and dark) was when I slipped on what is known as "black ice."

Black ice forms over black pavement so you don't see the threat to your life that easily. I sure as hell didn't.

In what felt like a mili-second, I went from walking (in my new Brooks) to lying flat on my back in a pedestrian walkway on Connecticut Ave. My hat fell off.

Getting back up took more than one attempt as I was on black ice, and it seemed to enjoy keeping me close. A woman witnessed my audition for making a snow angel (though there was no snow) and asked if I was ok. I think she alerted me (oh no, do I have amnesia?) to the fact that my hat had fallen off. I stood up (eventually) and saw my hat (straight off the set of Blossom) lying in the street. And my ears went cold fast.

I looked around to see if there were any cars and then retrieved my hat (carefully).

Back to safety, via the sidewalk, I put my coffee cup (no spills!) on a ledge so I could wipe off my pants and utter “Oh my god” repeatedly. Was that my mind or my butt speaking?

I felt like I did something wrong. I felt ashamed. Even dirty (thankfully black ice doesn’t stain). Once a goodie-two-shoes always hyper sensitive to unintended consequences. Story of my life.

I started to walk again, thinking about how my back stung a bit, wondering if my lunch spilled in my backpack, and contemplating the likelihood of a sore bum for days (you know how bad that hurts). I thought about getting on the metro at the next station, but I’m determined to walk to work.

“You’re an idiot,” says my tush. My mom will repeat my rear’s sentiments later in the day.

As I continued walking, it hit me that no matter how much I try to (gain) control of my life by depending on (waiting around for) gut feelings of direction, the reality of what to do when – in a larger sense – you don’t know what to do, is listen to what your ‘arse can tell you: don’t lose sight of the minor navigations needed to successfully make it through the day, like paying attention to the road if you’re walking/driving, checking expiration dates on food in your fridge (spoiled tofu detected this evening), and monitoring your online bank statement if the print copy still goes to your parents’ house (am I alone on this one?).

Truth to be found in the details? I sure hope so because from this point forward, I’m going to give some TLC (tush lovin' care) to the still frames that collectively deliver us (me, fingers crossed) to the bigger picture.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Smarty Pants Only

I further assimilated as a Washingtonian with some recent digestive activity at this place. A friend told me I shouldn’t mention it by name if I wrote about the experience (everywhere I go, everyone I know, everything I touch – all possible material, so beware) because the DC institution could have people monitoring any and all mentionings of the place.

I’m not scared, but for the sake of faux suspense, I’ll keep the name to myself and just let you click the links above. Click it, click it now (in the spirit of whip it, whip it good).

It’s a private (read: elitist) social (read: if you’re deemed worthy of socializing with) club (read: intellectual’s treehouse). Gracing the who’s who and who knows how much social scene since 1878, the club only began allowing women to join 110 years later (!!). Membership is reserved for those kids (gray haired big boys and now girls) “in virtually every profession that has anything to do with scholarship, creative genius or intellectual distinction.”

For some reason I feel the need to say, “checkmate.”

Why did I attend this old boys club? My boss (whose husband is a member and therefore has the right to bring guests) took our office there for a co-worker’s birthday.

Anticipating this lunchtime field trip, I projected that my feminist feathers would be ruffled by the experience and in turn felt compelled to dress in defensive mode (wearing a feather boa and fishnets). Alas, though, I wore pants and a cap sleeved sweater in mild defiance. Pant suits are for Hillary.

Not to ruin the ending before I give you the middle, but I had one heck of a lovely time there. The club was formerly a mansion, so entering each room felt like opening a jewelry box; you just didn’t know what you were going to see. Some rooms had gold leaf trim, ornate interior accents, and masterpieces painted on the ceiling. A library hosted a shelf marked, “books recently published by club members.” Alright then.

Lunch began with a waiter toting a carb-infused basket, gracing each of us with a popover. Yowsa. That was the best roll I’ve ever had. Memorable in my heart and on my inner thigs. Story of my (edible) life.

No prices on the menu because the cost of anything consumed just goes on the member’s account. I have one gem of a boss, believe you me.

The use of cell phones and electronic devices is prohibited in the dining area. These people are down-to-earth hedonists. Who the hell would have thought? Meals void of technology – bravo. And no note taking (not even a vowel) allowed either. This proved irritating as I planned to blog about the adventure and wanted to jot notes between bites of my popover(s).

The place prides itself on having Nobel Prize winners as members. My boss pointed across the room to a former Secretary of Defense (or something along those lines). At that point I looked around the room of accomplished men (plentiful) and women (scarce) – each a surprise achievement unto himself/herself – and announced, “I think I should just plant myself at the bar and hope for the best.”

When my boss and I went to the loo, she showed me what had been the women’s entrance during the time (110 years!) when women weren’t eligible members (perceived as worthwhile, unless when horizontal and near a mattress).

I wonder how they felt (feel?) about Jews. Just wondering. When I saw a portrait of an African American club member in another room, I felt an internal, hearty Mazel Tov surge through me.

Upon entering the “Powder Room” (verbatim the door’s plaque), my boss said that this is where she gets all of her nail files and proceeded to take a handful and put them into her purse. Alright then.

The one and only disappointment of the afternoon was the skimpy size of the desserts. Bottomless popovers prevented me from getting too angry over the rationed key lime pie and mud pie (quick to melt).

As a Floridian, I have to say that the Cosmos Club (oops!), while not the happiest place on earth, is a northern rival to Disney World. I drank their kool-aid (and their iced tea).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Wonder Walk

I woke up today lying next to my sister. Story of my life.

I was ready to face the day at 8:00 am but snuggled under my beloved down comforter until 9:00 am, knowing that she is a late riser. Yeah, sleeping until 9:00 am on the weekend is late in my pink-n-brown universe.

We went for brunch with a friend of my sister’s and, instead of going somewhere that has the
best oat bran muffin in town, we went to a European bakery & café where I succeeded in paying nearly $20 for coffee and an omelet (egg whites cost extra). No matter how grand (and mine isn’t) your financial situation, that’s a mornin’ no no.

My plans for later in the day were cancelled and, with the Superbowl an imposing reality on the planet, I felt bored for the first time in a long time. Post-thievery-brunch, my sister opted to nap while I emptied the dish washer and then developed cabin (studio) fever.

She left (after my proclamation that she was “delaying my life”) to get her nails done and go shopping (how are we related?). I opted to do my new favorite thing – WALK.

I chose to leave my iPod (and the song mixes I’m so tired of) at home and just walk with the confusing thoughts swirling in my head. The sound of my early 20s made alert company for my trek down Connecticut Ave., toward Georgetown, past The Kennedy Center and to the National Mall.

I went to see Abe (Lincoln that is). I ascended the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial, passing attractive European tourists (likely 17 year old boys) on my way. I looked at Abe and thought, “Maybe he knows what I should do next.”

Next being a new zip code, grad school, volunteer program – something to solve my desire to wrap my utterly fantastic DC experience in a nice memory bow and try something new.

I’ve got oats in my kitchen cabinet and in my adventure-seeking heart – both need to be cooked.

I hoped for the same feeling I relish when I go to the movies solo and feel like the actors are performing just for me (am I selfish or what?). I wanted to believe that Abe, sitting in his gigantic chair, would raise one of his finely carved fingers hanging over the edge of the arm rest in the spirit of “Aha! I have the answer to your self-imposed deluge of wonder.”

And then I’d think I was really honing my silent communication skills because Abe detected my question – What should I do with my immediate life? – as if I had whispered it into his ear.

His fingers (not a one) didn’t move, and I didn’t sense that we were alone. We were surrounded by cameras and fanny packs (when will they face extinction?) and people who couldn’t read the Gettysburg Address without moving their lips and uttering every fourth word.

I turned back to the
Reflecting Pool and started jogging along Independence Ave. (metaphor?) toward the Washington Monument. I continued jogging and walking until I reached Whole Foods (14th and P St.) and met the dumbest decision of my day – grocery shopping before the Superbowl started.

I ate my evidence-of-inflation fruit cup while standing in the long checkout line. Then I felt like a schmuck for not having my reusable grocery bag with me (the Flour-themed one) and asking for plastic, when the chalkboard outside said plastic bags are going away (for good!) and Whole Foods is only using up the remaining bags in stock. Ok, so I’m helping to mitigate a problem.

I walked the three miles home to my petite abode and talked to the person who makes me believe life is unfair.

Who? My grandpa, Poppa Jerry.

Why? Because my grandpa is also my soul mate. Go solve that one.

12 miles traveled.

No more answers then I had at the start of mile 1.

Still bitter about unrequited amore.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not Gone and Hopefully Not Forgotten

A week without blogging – the cardinal rule of what not to do in this virtual opinion outlet. Truth be told, I haven’t had any encounters that made me pause, look skyward, and internally mutter, “Story of my life.”

Have you given up on me in favor of people who feel behooved to post more than once per week? No, you say? I don’t blame you.

Since Monday, I’ve taken up the habit of walking to work for a grand (oh yes it is) total of 4 miles as a self-commitment to prepare for the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer. It takes an hour and 15 minutes, though only feels like 20 (maybe even 19). I listen to NPR as I walk, which made me think of a future topic for a blog post, but I’m not ready yet. Please don’t rush me.

Since I’m saving metro fare by walking me-self to work, I thought it reasonable to counteract the savings by purchasing a soy café au lait along the 4 mile joyous walk. Only once. The other days I stuck to the free (and delightful) coffee served in the lobby of my building (which just gave my rent a swift kick in the ass). Think before you sip. And I did. I’m all the richer and still equally caffeinated.

While walking to work hasn’t induced story of my life moments, it is quickly changing my life, as well as the way my pants fit. I’m finally getting rid of some of the evidence those gingerbread bastards left on my thighs since the holidays.

I also have more time at night since I’m exercising before work, so I've been spending most evenings reading this book because the author is coming to speak at my place o’ paycheck in March. Perhaps he’ll whisk me away to write for TV. That would add stories to my life and improve my role as a blogger.

(Did I just identify as a “blogger”?) I’m having an identity conundrum. Now that’s the story of my life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Be a Pal to My Prose


I know this is the second favor I’ve asked for in less than 48 hours (the nerve…), but it seems to be the season for giving (to me). I submitted a story to a travel writing contest on for a whopping $150. It’s not about the money, just a fun window into a world where my two loves (traveling and writing) become fused – a world I’d like to dabble in more frequently.

If you click the link above, you’ll see my story – A Hostel Look at Life – on the homepage with a blue ribbon across a neighboring photo that says “FEATURED.” I’ve never been FEATURED before. Story of my life. I like it. I like it a lot.

You can vote for my story by clicking the button at the beginning of the story. The winner is determined by the number of clicks received. Please pass on to friends who have able-bodied phalanges.

As for the story, it over analyzes (what I do best) a day spent in Utrecht, proving that sometimes you just lose control no matter how determined you are with each step you take. It also speaks to the truth that emotions are global, often more poignant when you’re on foreign ground and pay more attention to your place in the world.

Help a prose-drunk kid out. You dig me?

Thank you (repeatedly).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Quest For a World of Healthy Breasts

Hey [enter your name],

On May 3 - 4, I'll spend 48 hours decked out in pink from head to toe. If you've been to my petite abode, you know that my penchant for all hues rosy is unparalleled. During those same two days, I'll be walking non-stop (except for a tent-style snooze session) for 39 miles as part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The things one will do to acquire another pink shirt. Tell me about it.

Along with a steady gait and a consistently colored outfit, my participation will signify that I succeeded in raising $1,800 for breast cancer research. That sum is three (3!) times the amount that sits in my recently opened savings account, leading me to thoughts conveyed by words like, "Yowsa," "Yikes," "Oh boy," and my personal favorite, "Geez Louise."

I hate asking for favors, but I hate cancer more. I feel extremely guilty if I participate in the first part of the Need a Penny/Take a Penny – Have a Penny/Leave a Penny shenanigans at the checkout line. I sucked as a Girl Scout (big time) because I didn't want to ask anyone to buy my cookies (barely earned the cookie badge).

Yeah, I'll need to stall a bit before I ask for your
fiscal support. Keep reading.

I'll walk in memory of my Grandma Irene who died from breast cancer when I was five. She used to take me strawberry picking, but then I somehow developed an allergy to strawberries (no longer an issue). There were hives and lots of itching. Say no more, right?

I'll walk in support of my Great Aunt Barbara, 74, who beat breast cancer nine years ago and is on her way to beating it a second time.

I'll walk in awe of my Aunt Fran, 46, who recently had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and now has the most desirable chest in the family. For sure.

I'll walk for anyone you know who's been affected by breast cancer. Send me their name and I'll include it on the snazzy, one-of-a-kind t-shirt I plan on making for the walk (with the aid of someone who knows how to sew).

I'll walk for our moms, our sisters, our aunts, our friends, myself and you (estrogen carriers reading this) - women who we hope will live incredible, cancer-free lives.

For this, I am humbly asking for donations to help me reach $1,800 (I feel faint). You can
donate here, and you'll get a receipt for tax filing purposes.

One more favor (I know, the nerve)…please pass this e-mail on to your friends and family, especially those with deep (very deep) pockets. This isn't about me (or my quest for well-defined calves); it's about collectively working toward a resolution to a problem that is indiscriminate with whom it affects.

If you have a friend who owns a restaurant/store and would serve as a corporate sponsor or be willing to donate a percentage of the proceeds from one day/night's earnings to my
fundraising goal, please help make the connection. If these friends are chemically balanced men with clean records and perfect teeth, please also send my photo and mention that I'm single. I'm just kidding. (No I'm not). Yes I am. (Am I?)

Thank you (big time),

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Nuts

I ate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s nuts. Better yet, her nuts are now in a Ziploc bag in my kitchen cabinet. (One of three. Life in a studio…oh, brother.) I’m going to put them in a jar and make a really snazzy label that says (can you guess?), Justice Ginsburg’s Nuts.

The Justice spoke at the cultural venue where I work, discussing her thoughts on being in the new PBS series The Jewish Americans. Justice Ginsburg is a Jewish American who eats nuts that people with warped minds then steal from the green room to make into craft projects.

Before the nut lovin’ Justice arrived, I passed through the green room and swiped a few nuts because I heard that she requests a very specific variety of nuts at speaking engagements. Elitist nuts are tempting, and I wanted to be able to say that Justice Ginsburg and I ate nuts out of the same bowl.

I wish I could tell you the exact make and model of Justice Ginsburg’s nuts, but a co-sponsor of the event took care of the Justice’s snacks and I didn’t feel right about asking, “So what kind of nuts does Justice Ginsburg go bananas for?”

During the program, I couldn’t help but say (silently) to the Justice, “Hey Ruth, I ate some of your nuts!” Then I laughed to myself (semi-silently). When the event was over, I returned to the (empty) green room and put the remaining nuts in a bag to take home.

I’ve been meaning to get a jar for Justice Ginsburg’s nuts but haven’t had time. It’s going to need to be a small jar, because I’ve been eating about three of Justice Ginsburg’s nuts (mainly cashews) per day. Something about chewing on Justice Ginsburg’s nuts makes me feel like they're magical pellets that will enhance the quality of my life and maybe – just maybe – allow me to reach success as a fellow, petite Jewish American with a penchant for all things nutty. I wonder how the Justice feels about nut butters.

Justice Stephen Breyer is speaking at my place o’ employment later next month. If I could get Justice Breyer’s nuts in a jar, that would be doubly satisfying and allow me to make inappropriate references because he’s, ya know, a man. I never thought the day would come when someone else’s nuts would take on such significance in my life.

A half-eaten jar of almond butter rests in my fridge. I ate the top half of those buttery nuts in one sitting. Story of my life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I Met Him at the Bank of America

As in The Shangri-Las classic song, Leader of the Pack.

Just a few months into my job, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a holiday bonus. In an act of maturity (see Dad, I can make wise choices), I decided to open a savings account.

I went to my local Bank of America, feeling positive about the imminent emptying of my pockets. Brian, the Bank of America manager, emerged from his open-air cubicle with a 3-piece, pin-striped suit and a firm handshake.

He was tall, with sandy brown hair and a youthful glow that capped his age at no older than 26. But how was he the Manager of Bank of America? Isn’t that something that requires years of ascending the bank’s ladder (what do I know)? By golly we have an over-achiever on our hands.

I asked Brian about the options when opening a savings account. He said it depended on how much I was planning on depositing.

“Oh, only like 500.” (Any suspicion of my being a trust-fund baby just went out the window.)

Brian was silent and stared at me. Either he thought I was a looker or a pauper.

I’m sorry I failed you, the Manager of Bank of America.

So I added, “…dollars,” in case there was any confusion. I think Brian then thought that I must have felt bad about my financial situation (I do) when I emphasized the word dollars, because he responded with, “No, no, that’s really, really good!”

Really, really?

We began the necessary paperwork and signature by signature I found myself checking Brian out, noticing his ringless indicative finger and nice complexion.

Vroom! Vroom! [Cha-ching! Cha-ching!]

Stop it, Jackie. Stop it.

Look out, look out, oh look out!

Money dealings must generate confidence because I gave Brian my business card. Granted it was so he could enter my work address and email into the system, but I didn’t take it back from him post data entry. You bet I didn’t.

That’s when I fell for the Manager of Bank of America.

As he was searching for something on his desk (the key to his heart?), Brian picked up a new pair of socks and told me that an elderly woman came by earlier to give the bank’s staff holiday presents. Brian loved the socks.

Brian, I think I love you.

He also mentioned that another customer gave him a bottle of wine which he gave away because he doesn’t drink.

Brian, take me now.

Vroom! Vroom! [Cha-ching! Cha-ching!]

We closed the deal (business only) – Story of my life – and parted ways amicably.

I felt so helpless, what could I do
Remembering all the things we’d been through
At school [the bank] they’d all stop and stare
I can’t have a chance [high interest rate] but I don’t care
I’ll never forget him the leader of the pack [bank]...

I got new checks in the mail for the savings account and have been debating whether I should send Brian an email to thank him for his customer service and ask how I can learn more about what the bank (manager) has to offer.