Sunday, December 21, 2008

Silver Linings

Christmas has become a time of mixed feelings for me, and this particular year has seen some challenges. I'm thinking, though, that with challenges come opportunities to grow.

And, there are silver linings that become apparent only during challenging times. Two are on my mind, in this moment:

1. Friends and family.
There are people in this world who think of me and care greatly for me, and vice versa.  Life's challenges allow for the deepening and strengthening of friendships and the heightened awareness of their value.

2. Spirituality.
There is something to the link between tough times and opportunities to grow spiritually. This season has brought great opportunity for contemplation and reflection. It's a time to consider lessons learned, compare-and-contrast experiences, look for patterns, and deepen the understanding of self and others.

For these things I am grateful.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What I Miss about Ireland



Ireland - Aug 2008 343

Ireland - Aug 2008 055

Ireland - Aug 2008 032

Ireland - Aug 2008 063

Ireland - Aug 2008 266

Ireland - Aug 2008 313



1. The Guinness IS better.

2. Irish cider, such as Bulmer’s.
3. The sound of the surf at Cliffs of Moher.
4. The traditional music and friendly people in Doolin.
5. Savory stew at the pub.
6. The Book of Kells’ feast for the eyes.
7. The smell of burning peat.
8. Osgar’s sweet child-voice.
9. Ring forts in mist.
10. Castles at every turn.
11. Galway’s nightlife.
12. The views from the Rock of Cashel.
13. Fresh salmon. Really fresh.
14. Soft lambswool scarves and sweaters.
15. Romantic seaspray and dramatic coastline.
16. Dublin’s Grafton Street.
17. Bailey’s and steamed milk on a chilly night.
18. The Irish accent.
19. Sheep in the road.
20. The deep sense of history.

.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Real Charity Isn't Always What's Easy


I'm walking to the grocery store; it's August and hot in the city. I have four, chilled Reese's Peanut Butter Cup miniatures in my bag.

Well, I DID have Reese cups in my bag. I had just savored the third one, as I approached a homeless man on the sidewalk near Seward Square.

I recognized him. He's usually near 5th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. He's always dressed for winter, even in 90 degree weather. He's black, in his 50s, always friendly. The last time I passed him, he greeted me boldly, and I gave him a Reese cup. I felt good about it.

Today was no different. I saw him getting closer and closer as we walked toward each other. I thought, "How nice. Here's my last Reese cup. I'll give it to him." Plunging my hand in my bag, I reached for the candy.

He stared into my eyes as I reached to hand off the candy as before. Would he remember me? No matter.

He said, "Hello, Ma'am. Would you please spare 90 cents for me to buy some water?"

In an instant, I said, "I don't have it." I let the Reese cup fall into his arthritic palm. He smiled and thanked me earnestly for the treat.

As I walked away, I felt awful. Conscience had pierced me. What if he collapsed in the next 20 mins, for lack of water, having eaten that Reese cup? I hadn't helped him at all. I did what was easy and convenient for me, and told myself that I was being helpful. He asked me for help, and I refused. What occurred to is not about me, my feelings, my convenience. It's about someone else. Charity means truly helping - not just giving blindly and hoping it helps.

How many others, like me, tell themselves that they are helping people, when the real impact of their efforts is very minimal? Or they give something that's not needed. But they give anyway because it's easy and feels good.

I'm here at the grocery store now. I'm going to buy an extra bottle of water.


**90-minute-later update: I did buy that bottle of water. I walked back along my original route and saw him. Sitting on a park bench, he looked at me and smiled. I pulled the bottle of water out of my bag. Condensation dripped from it; it was so cold, relative to the heat and humidity of that Monday afternoon. He reached for it, his gnarled hands eager.

"I was thinking of you," I said, with a smile. "Thank you, thank you!" he said.

I walked off. "Miss Lady!" he said.

I turned around.

He blew me a kiss.

I blew him one back, turned, and kept walking.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 4th - Deserted Mall Hecklers Incident





View Larger Map




I'm not sharing this information to scare anyone, but I do think that it's important for people to be aware of their surroundings at night - including on the National Mall.

Last night, July 4th, at around 11:40pm, I was walking along Madison Street at 5th, minding my own business, heading home alone. Three Indian men, around 30 years old, were standing near the corner of 4th and Madison, NW. They were talking and laughing loudly, just standing at the corner there. I thought that was odd, given that there were thousands of people on the Mall for the fireworks show; those people had left hours ago. There were very few people left on the Mall: an old man digging through the trash can; a loving couple; and the Three Indians. And me.

As I approached them from a half block away, I could hear their boisterous laughter. Remembering my recent incident with the Grabbing Man, I was taking no chances tonight. Pepper spray in hand, I crossed over to the other side of the street. Now I was about 30 yards away from the Three.

Suddenly, one of the guys broke away from the other two and strode in my direction. I continued crossing to the other side of the street. He continued to beeline for me. I stopped, dead in my tracks, assuming a feet-apart-I-mean-business stance. From 10 yards away, he stopped and looked at me.

"What are you doing?" I asked, with a hint of warning in my voice.

"I just was wanting to talk to you," he slurred, taking two steps toward me.

My hand tightened on the canister of pepper spray. "Do not approach me!" I said assertively.

"I just want to talk."

"I DON'T want to talk." I started to walk past as he backed up a few steps, finally turning to walk back to the Other Two.

I kept walking toward the Capitol as they reunited. I could hear him telling them that I'd gotten tough with him. I heard them heckle me, saying they weren't terrorists. They weren't American citizens. Our country sucks. I suck.

I ignored them, looked at the Capitol, and tightened my hold on the spray. They walked one direction, and I walked up Jenkins Hill. Their boisterous voices faded into the cool, damp night air.

I made it home safely.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Barack Obama Promo Video

How am I just seeing this today? I really like it.




Monday, June 2, 2008

Enough

I'm talking about money. What is enough?

How much must one person have, to have enough? Why is it that consuming tends to make us happy? Shopping, eating, drinking - spending - I guess that's living. But this concept of what's really "enough" to satisfy a person - I think it about a lot and never come to any conclusion.

Is what I have enough? If I take a job that doubles my salary, will then that be enough? Or will I spend more, and up to the new, higher boundaries of my means? And then feel like that's not enough? I wish that I knew the answer.

I was listening to a radio show discuss the concepts of materialism, money and happiness. Sure, spending money, energy and/or time on others does make one happy. But when a person has stress about balancing rent, food, transportation and other expenses, maybe that's the edge of not having enough money to create the comfort zone discussed by National Public Radio.

On the other hand, I'll bet that even Deion and Pilar have their limits. Rich and famous people also have the feeling of not having "enough."

How does one know the difference between not really having enough money, and that one is spending beyond one's means? Both kings and beggars have been guilty of the latter.

Harris Teeter - 1391 Pennsylvania Ave, SE.

Harris Teeter opened on Capitol Hill in May, and I visited this evening. I have mixed feelings about it.


**The GOOD.
+The layout of the store is neat, with areas of aisles, instead of simple, long aisles.
+The archictecture is cool as well, and there are nice tables just outside where folks can sit and relax.
+Organic. There is a prominent focus on organic, smaller-batch when possible, sustainably grown products, and conservation. For example, in the produce section, when I reached for a plastic bag to put my sticky mangoes in, there was a big sign that urges one to re-use and recycle. I remembered that I had brought a couple plastic bags with me, so I used them.
+Ice cream selection. They have MAYFIELD ICE CREAM. This is a staple for Southerners. I saw at least 4 flavors. They also have lots of Skinny Cow and Weight Watchers options.
+Deli meats. There is a large selection of them. I requested one that had no preservatives, and the employee suggested a no-salt turkey, and it tasted as if I'd cooked it myself!
+Salsa. I saw probably 20 different kinds of salsa. Can't wait to try them all.
+Baguettes. They have a clever almost-cooked baguette. You keep it in your fridge, and when company's coming, pop it in the oven for 8 minutes. Voila! Fresh-baked baguette. Brilliant.


**The MEH.
~Cheese. Sorry, but Whole Foods kicks their butt all over town. 90% of their cheese is large-batch and lower quality.
~Seafood. I saw some sad tuna medallions that were cheaper, per pound, than catfish. How do you explain that? The fish did not look that fresh. Although I did not smell a fishy smell, which is a good sign.
~Personal care products. Selection was mighty limited for all that square footage.
~Coffee. They have Starbucks, but you'll pay $9 for it. Same price at Roland's, which is so much more convenient, at 4th and Penn, SE. They have a decent selection, but goodness it's all expensive.


**The BAD.
-Produce section. C'mon! With as large a square footage as the Teet has, there's no excuse for the tiny produce area. The Safeway, located 4 blocks away, is much better. Better yet, wait for the weekends and support local farmers at Eastern Market! Really!
-Cherries were $6 for about 1.5 cups. Ridiculous.
-One avocado: $2.69. Ludacris.
-No Dogfish Head beer. If tiny Capital Hill Liquors can carry two kinds, then the Teet can have at least one. Especially since they dedicated an acre to Woodchuck Cider. Sheesh.
-The 'hood. Regentrification takes time, and the ghetto surrounding the Gentri-oasis is rough. I was a little nervous for a few blocks, as I walked home after dark. I even veered off the sidewalk & onto the street, between 8th and 9th, to avoid a suspicious potential-perpetrator.
-Friendly-but-unhelpful staff. I witnessed the fish guy tell a customer that the hummus, located right over in the next section, was on the other side of the store. I corrected the bad directions before the poor woman set out on a quarter-mile walk to the other corner of the store.


These are my humble impressions. I'll go back there, especially if I'm craving Mayfield. I think that Safeway's better, though. My final word: ALL groceries are ridiculously expensive in DC. That's the one area where Alexandria trumps us. There, avocados are $1 apiece.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Grabbing Man – Assault at 4th and E St, NE. 5/25/07, 6:20pm


View Larger Map

As I walked north along 4th Street, NE, between E Street and F Street, in broad daylight, I passed a basketball court to my right. I noticed an African American man, likely in his early 40s, approaching on the sidewalk about 10 yards away. He was an attractive man, about 6’2”, dressed in dark, silky basketball shorts and other basketball/sporting gear. He had very short, clean-cut hair, medium/dark complexion and flat abs. He had the build of a very fit basketball player.

At 5 yards away, he stared intently at me and slowed down until he was nearly stopped on the sidewalk, with a stance that he might block my path. I confidently strode along the right side of the sidewalk and attempted to pass.

Suddenly, he leaned toward me and said, “What, are ya scared of me?” He grabbed my left forearm. Adrenaline in overdrive, I wrenched free and said, "You're crazy," as I kept walking. When I had reached what I felt was a safe distance from him, about 20 yards, I yelled, as loudly as I could, “You don’t go around grabbing people, you crazy man!!!!” I heard him yelling back at me but did not see him move toward me. I quickened my pace and continued walking north toward F Street NE along 4th. A minute later, at the corner of 4th and F, I turned around, and I saw two young black women about 30 yards south, walking in my direction. They, too, had passed this man on the sidewalk.

I called 911 for the first time in my life. I calmly described the incident and asked them to check out the situation. As I provided the report, the two women approached me with the same fearful look in their eyes as I must have had, and they stated that the exact same thing had occurred to them.

When I reached TexDem’s house and described what had happened, she said, “That’s assault.” Nonsense, I thought. Then I thought again.

The Free Dictionary definition for assault is this:

ASSAULT, crim. law. An assault is any unlawful attempt or offer with force or violence to do a corporal hurt to another, whether from malice or wantonness; for example, by striking at him or even holding up the fist at him in a threatening or insulting manner, or with other circumstances as denote at the time. an intention, coupled with a present ability, of actual violence against his person, as by pointing a weapon at him when he is within reach of it. 6 Rogers Rec: 9. When the injury is actually inflicted, it amounts to a battery. (q.v.)
2. Assaults are either simple or aggravated. 1. A simple assault is one Where there is no intention to do any other injury. This is punished at common law by fine and imprisonment. 2. An aggravated assault is one that has in addition to the bare intention to commit it, another object which is also criminal; for example, if a man should fire a pistol at another and miss him, the former would be guilty of an assault with intent to murder; so an assault with intent to rob a man, or with intent to spoil his clothes, and the like, are aggravated assaults, and they are more severely punished than simple assaults. General references, 1 East, P. C. 406; Bull. N. P. 15; Hawk. P. B. b. 1, c. 62, s. 12; 1 Russ. Cr. 604; 2 Camp. Rep. 650 1 Wheeler's Cr. C. 364; 6 Rogers' Rec. 9; 1 Serg. & Rawle, 347 Bac. Ab. h.t.; Roscoe. Cr. Ev. 210.

DC police called and asked me to speak with an officer to provide more details about the incident, and I agreed. I reported it, face-to-face, to Office Mazloom of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.

Here’s a stunning follow-up:

Back home tonight, I relayed the event to my roommate, AK, and her eyes grew as wide as saucers. At approximately 9:30 tonight, she was walking home from Capitol South Metro and encountered this same man, dressed exactly as I described. He also grabbed her forearm! The coincidence was absolutely haunting.

I hope that he’s caught – soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fraternity & Proximity


A special thing happened tonight. I had a lovely visit with WT (the same from City Grits). She lives on Capitol Hill, as do I. We made plans for her to come and have a little refreshment and catch up before going out to dinner at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. We talked, laughed and listened to LL Cool J, Dr. Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, Bell Biv DeVoe and M.C. Solaar.

Enjoying the cool night air, we strolled to La Plaza. I am on a first-name basis with the the owner there. La Plaza has some of the best Tex-Mex in town, and Henry is one of my favorite business owners on Capitol Hill.

We rolled in at 9:45 p.m., and Henry, recognizing each of us, kissed us warmly and welcomed us in. Hot chips were immediately brought to our table. The later hour afforded us great personal service. I got the beef and cheese enchiladas, while WT got the bean burrito. We laughed that the bean burrito was "a good alone-food." All were delicious. WT and I talked and laughed, gave each other advice, and had a series of heart to hearts.

She "did the gentlemanly thing" and walked me back to my house. We stood, commenting on my fledgling gardens, and gazed down the block of roses trailing off railings along the sidewalks.

Then, the magic happened.

Striding confidently toward us was my dear friend, TxDem. She looked whole, beautiful, and exuded a radiance that I had not seen in months. Truly, she has battled some demons and has begun winning, finally. We three talked, exchanged stories, laughed, hugged.

The best thing about the whole situation is that both TxDem and WT are my neighbors. I love that I can stand out on my sidewalk, on Capitol Hill, on a Saturday night at 11 p.m., conversing with a friend, and encounter another good friend along her walk home.

It's the best of city living. To have proximity and fraternity with loved ones is rare and priceless. Walking to work is priceless. Walking to a restaurant is priceless. I am still beaming, thinking about standing out there outside my front spring-time gardens, hugging my dear friends and chatting, impromptu, about the recent goings-on of our lives. I'm savoring the surprise neighborhood reunion.

So satisfying. NOW I remember why I sacrifice so much to live where I do.

Rain





I love cool, rainy mornings. They are best for lounging around and relaxing, but I don't even mind getting out in the weather. They are also good for gardening, as it provides new plantings with a moment to rest before harsh sun comes their way.

I took this video from my window on a rainy April morning. Yes, traffic may be heard, but much of the sound is of heavy rain drops pelting the new sugar maple leaves, just outside. The pansies on my front steps were crushed; yellow-and-purple faces were downturned and flattened. It still amazes me , how they are able to recover by the afternoon - standing tall again, reaching for the sun.

My heart longed for Texas during this moment. Lone Star State weather is more dramatic than storms back East. The low lands and plains topography are a perfect combination for flooding. Rain comes down as if poured from a bucket, or in sheets. Walking 15 feet without an umbrella leaves one drenched to the core.

One storm, in particular, will always stay with me. Coming home late from a party, I parked just 10 yards from my apartment. Unfortunately, I was wearing a pretty suede top. Suede is ruined by water. What would any sensible party girl do? I took off the top, rolled it up, inside-out (it was a pretty small piece of suede), tucked it under my arm, and bolted for my front door. Surely enough, by the time I entered my apartment, I was drenched to the core.

But the suede was saved! Three cheers for ingenuity.

Storms, fog, blinding sun, frost, snow, wind: all make me feel alive and grateful to experience them, if not for a brief moment.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Falling


The huge cherry tree
Is blooming again.
Underneath countless pink flowers,
We had our last meal together:

Little white lights twinkling overhead,
Petals falling like star showers,
Into our dinner, our hair- assuaging us,
The Milky Way crying for us
One year ago.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring Wind


It's the end of the day.
I'm looking out the window;
Soft, fading light bronzes the
Cannon Building, across the way.

Ocean waves of balmy wind pour in,
Kissing my soul's tempest.
My hair streams like ribbons
Around the Maypole of spring.

Monday, April 7, 2008

LJ Joins Another Dating Site - and has Lots to Say

Tips for the unsuspecting male online date prospect, from our sweet LJ.

Advice

I love this poem:


Advice

Folks, I'm telling you,
Birthing is hard
And Dying is mean
So get yourself
Some loving in between.


- Langston Hughes

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Paths







Life’s journey--
Of dirt roads,
Slick city streets,
Broad avenues, dark alleys;
Cobblestone, weeds,
Snow and black ice--


The paths are traveled with
Family who nurse us from the womb and cradle,
Feed us, change our diapers,
While we are helpless
To do for ourselves.


Friends, may walk for years beside us,
Or for only a few minutes,
Close at our sides,
We see them clearly, know their pace,


Still others keep faithful distance
Along a parallel path—
Trees are between us;
We can not see them,
But we hear their voices and know the sound
Of their footsteps in the leaves.


Teachers help us to discern
The merits of the road less traveled,
Help us to know others and ourselves
Give us confidence
That the path is straight, and good.


Lovers’ passion
Makes us skip, jump, run
Like lava, sweet and molten, then--
Cooling off, becoming hard and cold,
Side-stepping the rocks,
Seeking disparate trails.


Others, we encounter briefly,
A cool grotto – soothing to the touch,
Yet the water is rancid,
Tainted with strife;
We learn the course to avoid;


Siblings walk steps behind
For years in shade,
Forge divergent lines
Always returning, with changed gait
Or knowledge of the terrain;


Stretches of solitude:
With loneliness comes understanding
Of self and others,
And of the journey–
We learn in exile how to
Navigate streams
That seem too deep to traverse.


We run from the shadows of ourselves,
From hostile and wild things unknown,
From sorrow, anxiety, fear
We stumble, skin a knee,
Lick a finger, taste our own blood.


Storms pummel us, wind chaps our faces
Muddy spots and fallen trees block the way—
We detour great distances
From the intended path, building strength:
Our legs lean and strong from striving.


The clouds clear, the sun rises,
The air is sweet, white beach sand
Between our toes feels like heaven,
Balmy salt air enchants us
We linger, but the road is always changing,


Let us endeavor to hold the hands,
Of those who stumble,
To walk, to run, to jump, to crawl when we must--
Never stopping, always savoring,
All for the pleasure and the weight
Of the road under our feet,


So that our faces may be
Lined with the tracks of living.

Penicillium roqueforti

Aka Stinkadelic Stealthbomber


Song of Soulzon:
Stinky, psychedelic,
Controlled rancidity,
With lagoons
Of dark green fungus
Amid putty dunes
Of butter-cream.
Unpasteurized
Sheep’s milk
Hits the tongue:
The fat
Dissolves, melts—
Potent drug
Bombs the mouth,
Streams between
The teeth (which
Crunch the calcium),
Barraging the roof.
When swallowed,
The hot fungus
Attacks throat
Epidermal cells,
A battle ensues,
Sniper-fire, ricochet
Artillery, Grenades,
Schrapnel, buckshot;
Parachutes drop
Tiny armed soldiers to
Attack the jugular,
Rainbow of heat
Swirls, cells scream,
“Anaphylaxis,”
Break the glass,
Pull the alarm,
Fire trucks arrive--
No water--
Burn like a sea
Of jellyfish
Stinging the throat,
Eyes crossing, streaming tears,
Vertigo, tunnel vision.
Coughing for Chateauneuf du Pape,
While ewes laugh-mock:
Lacaune, Manech and Basco-BĂ©arnaise,
Angry for spilt milk,
Their teroir invaded;
Inflict woolly revenge
Of a thousand solar flare peppercorns
Aimed at the throat
Of anyone who
Dares
To taste it.
All hail
The King of Combalou!


Monday, March 31, 2008

Three seats away


Tonight at the Tune Inn,
A neighborhood dive bar,
I met a young man,
With afro-esque curly long hair,
Pulled back into a loose ponytail,
Who told me that he
And his "partner,"
Who shared a new baby:
A "surprise,"
Had an agreement,
Such that he, on his way home
From who-knows-where
On a Monday night,
Should stop at said Tune Inn,
Round the corner,
For a Miller Lite or three,
Whilst she stays home
With said love-child,
So that he could tell me
About his need for space,
And show me that he
Had no ring on his finger.
I said to him,
With saccharine voice,
That I hoped
That his wife-I-mean-partner
Was having a nice evening
Nursing their screaming
Bundle of joy
Whilst he talked to me.
"Oh, it's fine with her,"
He asserted, searching my eyes.
Unable to sufficiently mask judgment,
And disgust
Of a pansy responsibility-shirker,
I whispered more loudly
Than I should have
Behind a tattered, crumpled
Paper napkin
To Cousin Steve, beside me
At the bar's corner,
That Mr. 'Fro
Was a deadbeat dad -
Not that I know
Just what that means...
Subsequently,
Mr. 'Fro asked what was the problem.
I lied that the French fries
Were too greasy.
He-of-hairproduct-need
Later changed barstools
So that he was instead sitting
Three seats away.

Listerine "Vanilla Mint"


When using,
"Less Intense, Equally Effective,
Vanilla Mint" mouthwash,
I hold over the sink,
Throat clenched,
Expectorating,
Mouth gaping open,
Salivary glands in overdrive,
Leaking, no, screaming
Clear juice from open vessels,
Into the drain below,
Gravity beckoning and time soothing
The ethanol fire.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Snow Geese Migrating North

Honking late at night,
High above city rooftops:
Geese herald in spring.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birthday Weekend Cuisine

I made curried carrot-apple soup. Also featured are porcini tortoni with heirloom tomato sauce. There are also Kingsbury truffles - best on the planet. The Pink Lady apples are from Eastern Market, and there is a photo of my birthday dinner.



































Indian Rose - cocktail recipe






Indian Rose

Cruzan Citrus Rum

Stoli Ohranj

Peach schnapps
Cranberry juice


Garnish with rose petals

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Birthday Meal



Yesterday, February 8th, was my birthday, and the most fabulous meal was prepared for me.

It started with wine and cheese. A fresh baguette was served with four spectacular cheeses. Two of the cheeses had truffles in them. One was Truffle Tremor, by Cypress Grove. I think that the other was Sottocenere with Truffles. One was a brie, and the other was an aged, stinky goat cheese. They were absolutely magnificent with Chateauneuf du Pape.

In-between the appetizer course and main course was a little palate-cleansing tapa: a tiny bowl of succulent chicken on top of green peas, saffron rice, all cooked together in sweet coconut milk. It was a sweet as a dessert.

Then came the second course: raw oysters, served at home! There were two types of Chesapeake Bay oysters, opened right over the sink and handed to me, barbarian-style. They were very good and were such a treat.

Finally: the main course consisted of the following melange. On a long, rectangular, white partitioned Japanese plate were placed, left to right-
1. two huge sea scallops, cooked in their own juices to perfection;
2. a large scallop half-shell, onto which was placed cooked and seasoned lump king crab meat mixed with a "filler" of home-grown mashed potatoes, on top of more sliced scallops; and
3. a huge, tender half-fillet of Chilean sea bass, sauteed in olive oil and fresh-chopped ginger.

The scallops were great, and the juice in which they were served was so tasty, I almost looked for bread to sop it up. The crab meat was actually served atop sliced scallops, and the combination was sea-complex and delicious. The sea bass flaked delicately with my fork and gleamed with richness. The meat was juicy, tender and slightly sweet...not fishy tasting, but lightly flavored and with a luxurious mouth-feel. It had just a hint of ginger.

By this time, I was much too full for dessert, so I just had a couple more sips of wine...and a tiny bite of organic milk chocolate when I got home (shhh!).

The miracle of this birthday dinner is that it was cooked for me in a friend's home. Truly special.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wrong House


Funny li'l story from tonight.

I was invited by my friend, Mike, to his house to have pizza and watch the returns from the primaries. After all, it's Super Tuesday. Forget Fat Tuesday! In DC, elections take all the spotlight.

I had never been to Mike's before. It's in my neighborhood, on Capitol Hill. Mike is a sweetheart and works on the Hill, like me. So, I quickly glanced at my Blackberry and saw the house number, "608."

Hooray! Remembering it was the basement apartment, and seeing a couple folks sitting and eating on the sofa, watching the tv, I did what any good party guest would do:

I pranced down the steps to the English basement, opened the door, and let myself in. "Hello!" I chirped. The two people in the house looked at my quizzically. "Hello," they said.

Suddenly, I got a strange sensation. There was no Mike in the room. Nor pizza. Nor party of primaries-watchers. I cocked my head to the side. "Um, is this Mike's place? I'm here for the party...?"

"Um, no." they said, in a tone that was half questioning if I'd lost my sanity, and half pitying me for the embarrassing gaffe. I felt my face redden with shame. "Oh, I'm so sorry...I think I've got the wrong address. So sorry!" I said, as I began to turn on my heel.

"That's okay," they said, still eyeing me.

"Good night!" I said with a cheerful smile, as I squeezed the door handle and made a quick exit before they could get a long enough look at me to recognize me later.

As I headed out into the damp-night-from-a-mild-day-in-February, I chuckled to myself. Before long, the correct house number was just a block away, and I could already hear the party revelers outside. And I was relieved! Liberal Hill staffers and animated politicos buzzed like gadflies and yelled comments toward the television. A senator was even present at the fete! Even more impressive was the selection of exquisite hand-made truffles, the flavors themed. Each chocolate truffle variety was named for one of the candidates! One had a fuschia outer shell with a strong chocolate center: The Clinton. Another was dark on the outside, with a white filling (certainly, The Obama). Still another was smooth milk chocolate on the outside, with a nutty inside: The Romney. Get it? Pure, chocolate brilliance. Only in DC, folks.

The experience earlier in the evening reminded me of a powerful life lesson: the seriousness of the gaffe is less important than the skill of making a graceful recovery and quick exit.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Ole 96

I am one frugal sistah.

Here's a typical example of a cheap night out for me. Instead of pay $7.50 for a cab to HR-57, and buy drinks there, like most normal DC residents, here are my choices:

I decide to wait on the good old 96 bus. The 96 runs from Capitol Hill, two blocks from my house, all the way to U Street. I had decided to then walk the 5 blocks from the bus drop-off to the jazz club.

Cheap Challenge #1: the bus came too early. The next bus is in 30 minutes. So now I must choose to wait half an hour, then walk the 5 blocks to the club. From now on, I'm hatin on the 96. It's over, 96.

I decide, instead, on Plan B, and begin to schlep toward Union Station. I walk the mile to Union Station; it's probably a good thing, considering the half chocolate bar I ate this afternoon. From there, I'll Metro to Dupont and walk 8 blocks to the club.

Cheap Challenge #2: there is a 13 minute wait for the next train. Hm. So here I am, blogging away the wait. Patience is a virtue.

Cheap Challenge #3: drink prices in the city. My resolution? Take full advantage of HR-57's "byob" policy. So I will bring my own bottle of wine.

Cheap Challenge #4: But wine's expensive. My solution? A gleaming, shiny new bottle of Charles Shaw cabernet! That's right, folks, Two Buck Chuck. A critic-beloved steal at only $2.99 a bottle!

Many challenges tonight- all met with a smile, an inaudible curse or two, and money left in my pocket. The trade-offs were time, and mileage on my sneakers. Fine by me.

Mission accomplished!

Metro, 2/1/08, 2:15am


Who's on? A young 20-something married couple, a pack of young Spanish kids, a mid-30s black guy with dreds, and me.

The fluorescent lights glare as the announcer's surreal-friendly voice announces, "Next station is SMITHSONIAN!" As if hordes of teeming masses will jump off for the museums, or even for a stroll on the February tundra that is the National Mall.

I'm full of lamb chops and good company. And happy.

Sometimes, and to some people, "happy" is as fleeting as this Metro ride. I count myself as one of the lucky ones who gets to take the train 16 stops.

Good night, Washington.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Unfolding

.
Clenched.

Its top a curled-up finial,

Striated with folded future fronds.

Vermillion, the color of a beating heart,

Or a rosy tongue out to catch a snowflake:

Fuzzy fiddlehead unfurls;

Connected by a lean, strong arched back,

Tentacles opposite one another,

Look like curling arms:

An eager caterpillar

Awaiting Mother Nature’s embrace.

So many changes ahead:

Red turning to green,

Worm-shaped fronds fill into

Full, lush, verdant, delicate leaves,

Ready for the Sun,

The wind,

The rain:

A fern leaf unfolds.