Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kevin and Neal: 2 vignettes

Kevin is 22 and realized before the rest of his friends that any beers involving the words "ice", "natural" and "keystone" should be avoided. He could play you any song he ever heard once on any intstrument in any key you would like. He is crass and likes working his summer job as a janitor and is bitter about having 1 more year of college left in his 5-years-for-two-degrees gig at Temple.

He may be crass and bitter, but he's a very nice brother and came down to help me move into my apartment. In return, I bought him beers that did not have the words "ice", "natural" or "keystone" on their labels. He returned the favor by sleepwalking out of my apartment into the basement of my building for which I had lived in for precisely 18 hours. He woke up at some point to walk back up my stairs and rap lightly on my door for a short eternity, which my exhausted ears did not hear. Instead, my land lady did and she let him into my apartment at 2:30 in the morning after good-naturedly ribbing him with "Who's waking up the land lady?".

Kevin didn't tell my mother, but my dad told me eventually and my cheeks burned for a full 10 minutes. I apologized to said land lady who has known me know for like, a week. I promised her she wouldn't find strange boxer-clad men rapping lightly at my door at 2:30 in the morning again. I promised her that with a bit smirk on my face with a "maybe I will, maybe I won't" charm but truth be told I hope she meets the DK and understands he's not "strange" before she encounters him in a similar fashion.

* * *

Neal is so freshly 18 that he saves poignant away messages to describe how being so newly in college feels he can share them with everyone. He wants everyone to like him so much, that he's squirmy about it. He doesn't have to be, because he's cute and personable and funny, but it seems everyone knows that but him.

He's the baby of the family, and my mother frets about his every waking breath and whether or not the next will properly find its way in. He is in his second week of college, and was a staunch non-drinker in high school. I had encouraged him this summer to figure out what he likes and dislikes (beer and gin, respectively) and how much he can ease into drinking, because that is better than lying and saying you don't drink only to find yourself at an Edward-40-hands party so dizzy you confused yourself for a sprinkler system.

Being impressionable AND wise, he took my advice sort of. He doesn't want to be uncool, so he's going with the flow of his peers. An email came on Saturday.

"Hey K. Just so you know, I entered a case race on Saturday night. Thought you'd want to know".

I, being a fool, read that e-mail out loud. To my parents, who were diligently helping me clean and put together furniture. We all thought, "Neat! Sounds like a marching band thing!"

Later that night, I found out it is definitely not a marching band thing. Case = beer. Duh, he's 18 and at college. I had envisioned co-eds traipsing up and down the football field with their instrument cases full of leaves or water until they knew the fight song. So I text him "go Neal! Don't boot!". He IMMEDIATELY drunk calls me back and tells me how many beers he's had and how fun it is. I don't think anything else of it.

Until the next day, when my mother asks him "how the case race went". Some back-peddling and excuses later, the truth comes out. My prudent mother was appalled. I was embarrassed to have broken sibling code. Neal was embarrassed that Mom knows he can drink beer in Western Pennsylvania.

Moral of the stories? Siblings' memories are short for things like this. I hope Kevin is laughing about his tour sleepwalking half-naked around my apartment building. Neal, hopefully, is laughing at our prim and proper mother making disapproving Marge Simpson noises about him drinking beer. Because I am laughing at them already, and that's what big sisters are for.

Monday, August 28, 2006


My new apartment has been mine for about 4 days now, and we are getting along swimmingly. It's fun to get acquainted with new house-- its character is always fun to figure out. It's like making a new friend, and trying to describe her to someone else.

My old apartment was a sorority girl. Her name might have been Amber or Heather and she might have worn jeanskirts and danced on bars and flipped her hair to pout. My new apartment? She's old but has kick-ass vintage jewelry and her name could be Vera or Blanche. Shehas been known to indulge in too much port after dinner and has the habit of winking at handsome waiters.

My old place had no neighbors to be conscientious about. There was a set of Parrot Bay plastic margarita glasses left for us in a cabinet. The rug was grayish and the windows dirty. The price was right and the layout good for roommates. We had parties and once had a whole yellow cake with chocolate frosting smashed into our rug. We didn't care, it was a first apartment and we treated it as such. It was our savior when it was impossible to find housing. She was to us like the friend all the boys liked, and you hung around with her hoping that energy would rub off on you somehow.

The new place has welcome mats in front of each apartment. The hardwood floors gleam and my oven is retro-fabulous--totally Rachel Ray styles. I tiptoe around in socks now because I don't have rugs yet and don't want to stomp around to annoy those below. I have mopped and scrubbed this new apartment with yellow rubber gloves on my hands and knees to get this place clean. My silence is reverent and I have been watching a lot of jeopardy and have some old lady chic knitting projects coming down the pike. When I walk around I let one hand linger on the walls, trying to learn each corner and light switch's home

The difference has resonated with me immediately.

The problem with that is, frankly, that fretting about the proper furniture and decor does not a well-rounded girl make. Nor does this adult-old-lady-pipe dream where I am 24 and have a broom to scoot the riff-raff out the door.
I have grout to scrub, a bedroom to paint, and curtains and pillows to sew. I want to do it all RIGHTTHISMINUTE, but I have no time for other things. Important things. I haven't seen friends regularly, and even had to wimp out at RUNJIT's birthday party because I was so tired I could barely converse, let alone bowl. I haven't written in ye olde blog in weeks. I haven't run in a week, and I hadn't slept in my own bed in a month. I have been drinking more wine.

So now is the fun part, I suppose. Game on. The exciting changes and balancing them with the activities of my old house. Turning the novelty of a new place into reality. But know this-- I totally kept those parrot bay glasses. For the kitsch factor, of course.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Since I have no TV and no permanent home yet

I've been exercising all the freaking time.

SERIOUSLY, having no cable has forced me take long runs in the evenings to fill the cavernous void that sitting on my ass in front of the TV on an idle evening had previously filled.

I've been so bad at my life since I've been in interim housing; piss-poor job of seeing friends, not folding clothing and failing to get a good night's sleep, etc. At first it was like camping at a hotel with a soft leather couch and drawers full of other peoples' clothing. Now it's like "OMG, LET ME MOVE IN ALREADY!" I'm totally lacking the energy to be sociable because I am totally unsettled. I just want to sit until it's move-in day.

So I am. Sorta. Until Saturday, that is.

But until then, I shall continue to be bad at my life. Minus the running part. I might even keep it until it gets cold and I get wimpy and join a gym to work out inside.

Life needed some calories burned lately, so this is a good thing. I've never been much of a runner. I'll begrudge myself 20 minutes on the treadmill at the gym to shake up my old boring routines. I ran in Rock Creek Park after college because I couldn't afford a gym. I ran some in college when I was new to DC and just wanted to stare at these big white structures with my suburban mouth gaping at all the stateliness of this city.

I was never good at running, but I always found running on a track soothing in high school gym class. The chaotic monotony of running in the same circle with something new to see has always settled well with me. Taurus. Remember? I'm a Taurus. It's the same routine, the same turns and the same landmarkers. I can push myself until a designated position, or lap and the view is always changing.

So, since fleeing Northwest, there's a lovely park that I run around that seriously just fuels my soul. It's long enough that it's like running on a track. that's squished so the straight parts are longer. There are fast lanes and slow lanes. There are runners and walkers and the two people playing always sort of playing lacrosse. There are families and babies and crap, but more importantly; THERE ARE DOGS. SO MANY DOGS. It's like I've died and gone to petster heaven. It's glorious. One day I saw a bulldog AND a miniature schnauzer AND like, 40 of their waggy-tailed friends. My friend E told me there's an ALL BULLDOG DOG PARK DOWN HERE. I'll run all over this city until I find that! It's my idea of heaven, provided that I get to choose the soundtrack.

This whole opposite quadrant thing is going to work out well. Figure A.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Not enough to miss comcast, but still

Post "le gran move du monde" or "how I swindled 8 perfectly nice people into carrying heavy things up and down 25 steps for 8 hours in exchange for some falafel", I find myself in a very interesting interim housing situation.

My apartment (the for real one) won't be ready until late late August, and I have amazingly cool friends with super lovely neighbors who have come to my rescue. My friend E had asked her neighbor, an acquaintance of mine, if she might borrow an air mattress for me to sleep on in my 3.5 weeks of homelessness. Her neighbor, replied "or, she can just stay at my apartment" because she was traveling outside of the country on business and is just so freaking nice.

This woman seriously, saved my butt. J, in all her kindliness and amazingness left her apartment spotless, and 2/3 of my entire life fits stacked up in the 2 corners of her apartment. Her taste is impeccable; beautiful leather couches, crate and barrel model kitchen, and a whole apartment full of design porn a la Better Homes and Gardens. It's the perfect place to gear up to decorate and think about how I want my apartment to be.

I say this because there's a lot of time to think.

Cuz the woman may be brilliant, tasteful, nice as all get out, but she lacks cable. And that hit me where it hurts, friends.

I will not say one word of complaint about my time without cable, because this lady, J, has done me such a huge favor that not the biggest basket of thank you odds and ends and wine and dinners will ever cover it. However, this lead me to discuss with other friends exactly how funny it is what some people spend their money on.

I know plenty of other people without cable, without a TV, even (I'm looking at you, R and R in Mt. Pleasant). And you people are utterly crazy.

It is currently almost 10pm. I've been stuck with one eyeball oogling the Ikea catalogue, and the other warily watching "Wife Swap", which is making my blood boil that a) wives are commodities to be traded b) husbands and fathers are that idiotic and c) children could be that squeaky.

If I were in charge of my TV viewings, I could be drooling over Food Network, watching the 500th replaying of Project Runway, or even maybe watching Entourage On Demand. I find it interesting, and have been talking with a friend M, about how funny it is what people spend their money on. My friend Dan doesn't have a TV, but he's got like 14 computers and a pimp vehicle. E doesn't have cable, but girlfriend has a hott apartment. R and R don't have TV, but they do have a healthy understanding of the ends of the internets and are pros at drunk biking.

But I am not in charge since I am only sort of superficially living here out of suitcases and not getting anything dirty-- so I've read a few books and A LOT OF HOME MAGAZINES and all I have to say is

1.) Driving over Lemons made me want to leave a life of cubicles and learn to midwife sheep and have a farm in Spain and

2.) I totally found the inspiration for my new living room in the new Martha Stewart mag Blueprint and just might sign up for a year subscription.

Ok, well Super Nanny is on now, and I think that's where I have to draw the line. I still have my dignity among the boxes, you know.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Breaking up is hard to do.

I can't.
I'm sorry.
Don't hate me.

Words made famous by Sex and the City regarding breaking up. Moving on.

Moving sucks, and there are complications with moving, so I blame my neighborhood. It just wasn't working out. It was me, not it. So we're through.

We sort of had a torrid affair, and then when I decided that this wasn't what I was looking for. I came to realize that this wasn't going to work. Adams Morgan. Me. Us.

I lived on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. ON 18th STREET. Yes, people LIVE THERE. This came as a constant surprise to all the loiterers who stared at me in disbelief as I hauled an old-lady cart full of groceries into what people assumed was a bar or an office. My neighbors were Queen's Hookah and a Moroccan bazaar owned by the nicest guy ever. I lived in a 3rd floor walk up where weekends meant cleaning up the pizza plates and turning up the TV a few notches so that the fervent prayers of "wooooo!!!" and "hhheeeyyyyyyy!" could be audible to their gods: Millie and Al. It meant arguing with college kids who were about to hurl on my front steps to get past so I could slip in the front door without their vom touching my shoes. It was the loud sighs I would emit while I had to dodge kickball players walking 6 across on the sidewalk in matching T-shirts like they owned the place because the backs of their t-shirts proclaimed Tom-Tom as THEIR BAR. Well, you guys can have it in the divorce. Trust me, it's no loss on my behalf.

It's not Adams Morgan's fault.

At first it was SO FUN. Restaurants, bars, stores, everything and everyone was my front yard. It's hustle and bustle in a way that makes you forget that you are in Washington, and maybe somewhere with a little more edge. I liked that. But then you see the edges soften and finally just dull. When we first moved in, my roommate and I would get excited. "Ooh! Listen! We can hear live jazz!". That quickly turned into "EFFING FELIX NEEDS TO GET A NEW BAND." We had Jumbo Slice for our friends who helped us move in. "It's not too bad sober," we thought. Now, the smell of Jumbo slice and the pounding refrain of "Dame mas gaso-lllllllliiiiiinnnna" makes me lose my appetite. I haven't gone out to the bars on that street (save Asylum and Bourbon) in months. I couldn't stand it because there was no relief. I couldn't throw open our windows and yell "For the love of God, SHUT UP!" like I wanted to on idle Thursday nights. I was a woman scorned. It was too much.

So I moved. I was grown about it. It was an amicable split. I am sure there is some girl out there who could learn to love the AdMo more than I. Though there are still things about my old stomping ground that I love and will miss seeing. Astor Mediterranean cafe, for starters. Pasta Mia. Western Market. Amsterdam Falafel. The Red Box DVD vending machine. Real live diversity on a weekday. Saturdays at Asylum. The excuse to pop into Payless with a disturbing frequency. Sitting on my stoop during the afternoon on a clear day reading the paper with a coffee. The guy behind the Salsa Safeway who winked at me when he gave me my turkey. Memorizing more happy hour specials than I care to repeat. The glutial workout of 25 stairs from front door to apartment door.

I'll go back there for some of those things. For others, I will gladly let the new guys who moved into my apartment enjoy. And then promptly grow to hate. Two years there was my fill. And if you can handle more then that, I salute you.