Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kicking the Heart Out

No one wants her blog to become a dating blog – unless it’s meant to be a dating blog, of course, which mine isn’t. And even then, no one wants her dating blog to become a woe-is-me blog. And no one, blog or not, wants her life to be viewed as some lonely, sad, desperate search for a significant other. All these in mind, you'll please forgive me for a minute if I unload on you; I suspect a few of you can relate, which feels reason enough to write.

I firmly believe, as many other do, that you shouldn’t necessarily go out searching for "significant others" (a phrase I despise because a lot of my life's others feel fairly significant). Sure, maybe you should ask your male friends if they know anyone with whom you might be compatible, or give OKCupid a whirl, or do a whole host of other things I’ve certainly never tried before… Ahem… Where was I? Oh. There’s nothing wrong with taking a look around, but finding the Beckham to your Posh Spice should not be so essential or so trite that you should – or should be able – to force-find it. It’s not soul-searching; it’s actual person-searching, & too many people settle for people who aren’t their person just because they’re so caught up in the looking.

At some point, though – maybe a few points – every single woman gets a wee bit introspective. At some point, you notice that about 85% of your friends are coupled up & going on quadruple dates that you’re not invited to because you fly solo. At some point, you start to wonder whether life will look the same at 35 as it does at 25, if you’ll be forever looking & looking & looking & never finding. You start asking yourself questions like “Why haven’t I found anyone?” and “What’s wrong with me?” Luckily, my answers to those frustration-induced questions tend to be fairly rational & not all that depressing – I haven’t found anyone because it’s just not my time yet, and nothing is wrong with me. In fact, I think I’m a catch, a list of adjectives I could tick off touting my own glowing attributes.

Still, all this waiting is getting to be a drag. People come & go – friends are here & then they’re not, & I have a particular predilection for losing touch & fading into the background of people's minds. There are so few consistencies, & inconsistency is, frankly, lonely.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly off-kilter, I get nostalgic for the "olden days" of dating. Gone are the days of passing notes & hand-holding on the playground & "going out" with someone you never go anywhere with because you're 10. Gone, too, are the days of homecoming dates & first kisses & blind, angsty faith in love. And gone are the frat parties & college crushes & walks of shame. Now, the new normal is... well, a whole lot of nothing. I've been single for nearly four years, with a few time-killers in between that led to nothing but my re-realizing that I hate dating & that it feels like a waste of my time. The new normal is a lot of sitting, waiting, wishing, & doubting that legitimate butterflies actually exist past the age of, say, 20.

I've never been a girl particularly prone to falling in love. I'm not a romantic; I am not mushy. I never thought love would save me or change me or fix my problems. I don't believe in soulmates or "Love Actually." I believe that people give up, people leave, people change, people become something else, something unrecognizable, and I am forever skeptical of long-term love & my ability to be in it or on the receiving end of it. But I believe that there is someone out there, somewhere (hopefully somewhere geographically convenient & not in, like, Sochi or Turkmenistan) who will look past my bullshit cynicism & insist that I look deeper; someone who will be not only interested in but insistent upon loving me, & I him.

I want to end this on some complete note, something that leaves you saying, "Great! There was a moral to this story!" but I don't have one. This is it, this is all. I'm fine, I'm just feeling a little tired - tired of looking at the world through only my eyes, without anyone else beside me to teach me new perspectives. I'm tired of feeling perpetually second-fiddle, never meaningful enough to be anyone's first choice; similarly, I'm tired of meeting people who are never my first choice. My needs are simple: I want to mean the most to someone who means the most to me. And I want to know how long it's going to take to get there.

“When will then be now?”
“Soon.”

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bottom(less Bellini)s Up!

As you know, I am very into brunching. Someone once asked me, "When did brunching become a legit hobby?" & the answer is: When I made it into one. Seriously, can't a girl just dig a little breakfast/lunch portmanteau with friends?

Urbana was not even on the Great DC Brunch Tour list. It is one of my favorite DC joints & the restaurant where I met porn star & fellow Ohioan Sara Jay on my 24th birthday, but I didn't realize it was also a brunching hot spot. What a pleasant & drunken surprise.

Drunken brunch? Yeah, you heard me. Turns out Urbana features bottomless bellinis until 3 p.m. on weekends, which means that for $11, you can drink as many champagne & juice cocktails as your poor, already-probably-hungover brunch body can take. They fill you up with champagne, & you pick from an array of carafes of juice - grapefruit, mango, pineapple, cranberry, strawberry, flavors I'm forgetting, THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS. And we tried them all.

Needless to say, my two friends & I drank about six apiece, which evens out to a bottle or so each. By 3pm.

So what came next? Touring the L. Ron Hubbard House, of course! We thought they might try to convert us, especially if they somehow sensed our Jewishness (who knows what sort of magical powers they have!), but as it turns out, the docent was incredibly nice & the tour was incredibly interesting, even if we were also incredibly affected by our bellinis. Which meant that the next stop of the day was a massive nap.

Overall, I give Urbana five out of five brunching stars for chill atmosphere,tasty bacon, & the best brunch cocktail deal this side of the Potomac. The free hot chocolate in the lobby was also a plus, despite my spilling mini marshmallows all over the floor & my friend Andrew covering himself in exploding whipped cream before we rushed out in embarrassment. What do you expect when you provide us with so much champagne, Urbana? You asked for it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

From the Windowwwws to the WALL (a.k.a.: Sometimes I'm an Adult)

Yeah, you know the rest of the song. That, too.

In honor of President's Day (presidents keep the country organized, after all), I have spent today organizing my own life - namely, by cleaning my apartment.

My roommates & I divvied up the daunting list of tasks (together, they took the bathroom, God bless them both), & I woke up this morning ready to tackle the grit & grim that has invaded my section of assigned chores - the kitchen. Cue scary music.

Sure, I needed to Google phrases like "cleaning powder green can" & "best way to scrub a tile floor." And sure, there were a few mishaps along the way, including:
  • A scalded right hand from reaching into a sink of hot water because I didn't have the patience to wait for it to cool down
  • A full-scale "I'm gonna burn the place down somehow" freak-out when I discovered the DO NOT USE ON COUNTERTOPS label on the back of my bathroom & shower cleaner. After I'd already cleaned the countertops with it. Oops.
But in the end, cleanliness prevailed. I:
  • Ran the dishwasher. Twice.
  • Soaked the sorta-nasty drying rack
  • Made myself pierogies
  • Cleaned all the countertops
  • Elbow-greased the oven & burners
  • Swept, Swiffered, & scrubbed the kitchen floor
As a bonus, I:
  • Organized & alphabetized all my movies
  • Cataloged my entire bookshelf on Goodreads.com
  • Ate some ice cream
Is there anything more legit adult than cleaning your home? (The answer is NO.)

Mom, if you're reading this, I swear you'll be shocked & awed & very impressed with how grown up I am today, even though I also slept til noon & am still in my pajamas & am now watching movie numero dos. I may not be a Barack Obama-style organizer (who excels at both the community & Presidential varieties), but I sure can hold my own with a can of Comet & a scrub brush.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mr. Rogers Would NOT Be Proud

Mr. Rogers (may his name be for a blessing, as we Jews say) used to sing in his opening ditty, "I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I have always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you." But what happens when you end up with the kind of neighbors that you haven't always wanted?

Two of my closest friends here in the District (we'll call them JP & B) cohabit together in JP's very swanky Chinatown pad. But an email he sent today to a listserv of our friends proved that when it comes to apartment living, even reliable locks & a dutiful doorman can't prevent you from falling victim to shenanigan-loving neighbors. Criminal shenanigan-loving neighbors, I might add, the kind who make the neighborhood a lot less Rogers-esque. Observe:

As you can imagine, JP & B are not pleased. Someone stole Was It For This's snow shovel the other day, prompting #2 on this list. But that, at least, is a crime with a purpose. Stealing even a pair of boots would've been a crime with a purpose? But SINGULAR SHOES? From two different pairs? A new unneighborly low!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Testing the Strong Ones: A Reprise

I'm cheating. This post is from a year ago, but tomorrow marks the five-year anniversary, & because last year's post was one of the most powerful I feel I've ever written - not just about him or the issue of suicide prevention, but ever - I decided to just go ahead & repost. I have different readers now, a new batch of people to tell this story to & hopefully impact. Dave's story is my story now, & I will make sure he is remembered in the only way I know how.
***

I rarely get too personal on this blog, where I prefer to post photos of poorly dressed city folk & rant about Washington's many, many quirks than to reveal anything very telling or intimate. But today, here's some insight into my life - who I am & where I've come from, what's made me the way I am & how. It's rare, & I may take it down in a few hours, but mostly I just need to get it out.

Four years ago today, my high school boyfriend took his own life by hanging himself from the rafters in his garage. Dave was supposed to leave the next week to study broad in Australia. He was supposed to graduate from the College of Wooster with a degree in education. He was supposed to finish an album with his band, The Supporting Cast. Dave was supposed to do & be a lot of things, but a mental illness no one could see or stop got in the way, & instead, his friends & family buried him on a rainy Valentine's Day, just two months past his 20th birthday.

Cliche though it may be, Dave was one of the most beautiful people I've ever met, both inside & out - one of the beautiful, most artistic, most creative people I've ever met, but also one of the most volatile & unstable. He felt everything too strongly, sort of like April in "The Secret Life of Bees," so strongly that he couldn't adapt to the pain or work around it. And in the end, I think, Dave just got sick. He wouldn't have chosen this for himself; I don't think he had any choice.

But I don't want to remember Dave for the way he died. I want to remember him for the way he lived, for the things about him that no one ever asks about or mentions anymore. I want to remember him as the boy who introduced me to Jimmy Eat World's "Clarity" & a million other albums that have now stood by me at my lowest points. I want to remember Dave as the boy who gave me a failed guitar lesson in a park, who set up a scavenger hunt on my 18th birthday, who sent me a heart-shaped box of hard-to-find Sixlets for Valentine's Day, who sang "Hands Down," dedicated to me, on stage at the high school talent show, who came over to visit unannounced & always when I was napping. I want to remember Dave as the boy who
wore Chucks to his high school homecoming before Chucks were in, who had a long-awaited red star tattooed on his bicep on his 18th birthday, who got arrested for stealing an orange road cone & was punished by having to paint a fence, Tom Sawyer-style. The boy whose bright ideas included getting high & then doing the laundry, who hated pizza & almost always ordered chicken fingers, who wanted to move to New York City someday, who drove a teal Tempo but had to lie down when I was behind the wheel.

Every year, I think it'll hurt less, & every year I'm proven wrong. But it's not just the anniversary of his death or his birthday - it's every single day. It's a daily struggle to keep my head above the proverbial waters, to remind myself that it is a braver feat to live than to die, to convince myself that my 17-year-old trespasses neither took Dave's life nor rule mine. It is a constant battle to live - and even more importantly, to live in love rather than in regret.

If I were given the choice between having Dave gone & having him here, the answer would be clear. But that's not a choice I'll ever be given, of course, & so four years have given me plenty of time to think of ways to accept & even appreciate Dave's death. I've learned to look for the meaning behind every change in my life, to seek out every cause, effect & influence. Dave's death changed everything – it led me back home again, transferring colleges to be closer to my mother while I gave myself time to heal. It brought me closer to my rabbi, who encouraged me to apply for a summer internship with the organization where I now work. It created friendships with people I never dreamed I'd befriend & strengthened friendships I never imagined would last. Dave's death changed all of our lives. It tore some of us apart & thrust others of us together & set into motion a series of events I couldn't have foretold in any "what if" scenario.

The moral of my story, of Dave's story, is, I suppose, two-fold. The first is that maybe some people were born to live short lives but, in doing so, to change dozens. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason - or that even if it doesn't happen for a reason, there's something good to be found in it just the same.

And the second part of our story is this: Don't be afraid to reach out. People commit suicide when they think they have nowhere else to turn, when they've exhausted their options & connections & intimations. People commit suicide when they think no one else is watching. So watch. If you're worried about someone, tell them so. If you think they need help, make sure they get it. You will never regret anything more than you'll regret not having done your best to save someone who, at the very least, would have died knowing you cared.

And if you're the one who needs help, please find it. I love & appreciate my life the way it is now because there's no going back & because these are the cards we've been dealt -- but I would give anything to catch even a glimpse of what we all would have been had Dave gotten the help he needed. In the words of one of Dave's & my favorite bands, "Feel the pain, teaching us how much more we can take, reminding us how far we've come" -- it takes infinitely more effort to live than it does to die, & it's more painful, too, but nothing worth fighting for ever comes easily.

Fight for your life - I wish to God that he had.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Diner Dreams & the Lap(top) of Luxury

Because the federal government was closed today - & because approx 10% of buses are running, & because Metro is working but with 40-minute waits - my bosses declared a snow day late last night. If the feds ain't workin', ain't nobody workin', right?

Wrong! Our snow day came with one caveat - we all had to work from home!

OK, so it's never gonna be like it was in elementary school. Here in 2010, where adulthood reigns supreme, snow days are still work days - but that doesn't mean I have to wear pants while I work, or turn off yesterday's DVRed "What Not to Wear" marathon in the background.

Circa 3pm, though, cabin fever (#8 on yesterday's list) set in. Hard. I packed up my Mac, set out for my beloved Open City (a walkably accessible three blocks away) & pulled up a barstool. One grilled cheese & two chai lattes later, I'd completed plenty of work &, more importantly, lifted my hermitic spirits considerably.

There's nothing more relaxing than working in a coffee shop. It's not something I have the opportunity to do often (because, you know, that's what my office is for), but when I get to, I'm in love. I would like nothing more than to eventually score some writing gig that will allow me to become a regular at some Starbucks or diner, pounding away at my little keyboard day after day while sustaining myself on lattes & fruit salad & the soup of the day. Today, sitting amongst other diner-working Washingtonians, I felt like part of an elite club of free-spirited, tech-savvy folks with the luxury of relaxing & working hard at the same time.


Thanks, snow day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10 Rules for Blizzard Living

Every time a notably big snowstorm blows into town – not just DC but any town – you can bet that a few of the same things will happen.

  1. The storm is named.
    As evidenced by #snOMG, #snowpocalypse, #snowmageddon, etc., Twitter’s newfound popularity proves that “The Great Blizzard of [Month] [Year]” will no longer suffice.

  2. Someone steals someone else’s shovel.
    It’s midnight; do you know where your snow shovel is? When the flakes fall heavy & the neighbors get desperate, shovel thievery becomes a near inevitability. This happens less frequently in often-snowy places, where folks are more likely to own shovels, but the scary truth is that come blizzard, we’re all at risk of falling prey to this mean, unneighborly criminal act. Lock ‘em up.

  3. Groups of strangers gather for impromptu sledding.
    In the often-snowy ‘burbs, strangers gather at normal sledding locales – in my hometown, it was a local elementary & a nearby park, both with good-sized hills. In the cities, sledding aficionados take to less obvious options. Case in point is yesterday’s spontaneous sledding gathering in Woodley Park, where dozens of strangers (& their pets!) took to the usually traffic-laden bus stop at the corner of Connecticut & Calvert to sled into Rock Creek Park.
    [3a. People sled on anything they can find.
    Yesterday’s sledding extravaganza was reminiscent of my college days at Ohio University! In my snow-loving lifetime, I’ve seen people sledding on: cafeteria trays, beer boxes, kayaks, plastic storage bins, trash bags & upside-down card tables (umm, this was me).]
  1. A snowball fight begins.
    The word “fight” is a misnomer. Is there any fight less violent than a snowball fight? More than 2,000 Washingtonians are estimated to have gathered in Dupont Circle yesterday for an “epic” snowball fight, though I didn’t attend.

  2. Widespread day-drinking occurs.
    Mint Bailey’s with hot chocolate? Yes, please. Wine at noon? Well, OK. If you’ve got any alcohol on your shelves during a snowstorm, the Law of Blizzarding says you’ve got to ingest it – preferably while the sun is still out. Drinking induces napping, & napping helps pass the time until it’s safe to leave the house again. Totally logical.

  3. Strangers help strangers.
    An email to the Cleveland Park listserv tells me that the Washington Post is “hearing about all sorts of sleepovers that are popping up all over the Washington region” of those with power hosting those without. Last night, I helped three people haul a compact car out of the snow on Calvert as a (very cute) dude with a truck & a hitch literally dragged it out; those in cars have been stopping along the road to ask walkers if they need a lift. As RachelBC said, “I love it when strangers are friends.”

  4. Someone busts out the skis as a mode of transportation.
    Need I say more? This is the street outside my apartment.

  5. Cabin fever sets in.
    How long can you stay inside? I love TV marathons, reading, baking & napping as much as the next homebody, but 48 hours of it is enough to make anyone feel like they’re starring in “Panic Room 2.” RachelBC & I were daring enough to venture out on Friday night, before anything was plowed or even trodden. Yesterday, I even trekked (by foot!) to Dupont for a friend’s birthday party. I was glad for a few breaths of fresh air, but… well, this:
    (And yes, my jeans are tucked into my tennis shoes. And no, I don't own boots. And yes, that is a shameful thing for an Ohioan to say.)

  6. Damage is incurred.
    Trees, power lines, cars, tailbones. A pine outside my apartment has toppled, & I watched as part of another tree snapped off & nearly missed a couple of sledding children. Cars are entirely submerged & unmovable. And I witnessed a teenager fall so hard on a patch of snow (patch? wasteland!) that my coccyx hurt for her.

  7. Couples get busy.
    I can’t speak to this personally, but I think we all know about the belated gifts that snowstorms bring – blizzard babies!
So what am I missing? Washingtonians, what was your favorite part of the Snowpocalypse Snowmageddon Great Blizzard of February 2010? And everyone else - are you sick of all our snow talk yet?!

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Snow Big Deal, Guys!

Have you heard the news? It's snowing.

Maybe you haven't heard. I mean, it's not all over Twitter or the front page of CNN or anything.

With all due respect for the Virginians mentioned in the first headline, can we make special note of the second one? "LIVE: Snow falls at the White House." REALLY, CNN? How about, "LIVE: Sun rises" or "LIVE: Sky is blue"? I know it doesn't snow in the capital often (though this winter, I'd beg to differ), but it's not like the White House is located in Alabama or SoCal or on some tropical island. This is no great weather miracle/curse. It's just Mother Nature & El Niño collaborating on a special little project here in the District.

But based on Twitter, you'd never know it. I've compiled a sample of some of the panic in my feed, though you may have to click through to read them because I can't get them to display any bigger than this:
I woke up circa 1:00pm (shhh, it was a comp day!) & the amount of snow that had gathered upon the ground was close to nil, though a DC snow emergency had already been declared. "STAY OFF THE ROADS! DON'T GO OUT UNLESS IT'S A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION!" So although the snow falling was the equivalent of a light rain, snow plows were even on standby to rid us of the invisible precipitation accumulation that might eventually plague us:


Still, last night saw Washingtonians taking to the grocery stores with such voracity that little food was to be found on store shelves come morning. Please observe my favorite of DCist's food shortage photo gallery:

No chicken breasts for you.

In fact, a local Whole Foods closed early because it ran out of food! And while I understand the instinct to stock up on sustenance the weekend before a potential snow-in (I did it myself!), I've got to wonder: What do these people think is gonna happen? That they're going to be so snowed into their homes that they'll never be able to go grocery shopping again? Me, I bought a few boxes of mac & cheese, some pudding, some pears & some applesauce. Sure, I eat like a third-grader, but the point is that I bought enough meals to get me through a snowstorm - & I'll go shopping again when the snow is over.

This topic was just one of many snow-related conversations my friend Rachel BC (remember her?) & I discussed over late afternoon brunch sampling at my favorite DC diner, Open City.

And then? Well, then it started to snow for realish, so we headed back to my apartment to watch "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" while drinking Yuengling & wearing Snuggies:
And now we're eating chocolate Special K & watching "Hook" with subtitles & preparing to play Scrabble. On second thought, I've got no complaints about the way DC responds to snow. Sure, it may all be one big #snoverreaction, but this is a pretty good way to spend a three-day weekend.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pork-Guilt & Southern Hospitality

My life is changed. I have found my last supper.

What? No, I'm not dying. I'm just saying that if I were headed to the lethal injection chamber, I know how I'd want to spend my last culinary moments - at Eatonville.

Wild and Crazy Pearl once called it "The Nordstrom of Low-Country Cuisine" & posted foodie photos so delish I could hardly resist; @MissAllisonG & @drawstring's tales of dining from rocking chairs sealed the deal. So tonight, I happily accepted an invite to join friends in their Eatonville outing, braving a District blizzard ("OMG! We have, like, two inches of snow! Stay in your homes & stock up on food like it's Y2K!") to make it happen. This Midwesterner was about to take an experiential trip to the dirty south for supper.

There were still 16 minutes of happy hour on the books when we arrived, so I ordered a Grown & Sexy (Grey Goose, pomegranate & lemonade) at half price. Although the name sounds like the subject line of a post you'd find in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist, the drink was a mere $5 & so tasty that @weiserj ordered a second round before finishing the first. I, of course, nursed mine throughout the meal because - haven't you been paying attention? - I'm a wuss.

Everything was good. Seriously, everything. I assembled a meal of three side dishes:
  1. Some sort of uber-cheesy mac & cheese with a baked top, like a cheesy crème brûlée - the fatten-you-up kind, as though I need it!
  2. Colorful Hoppin' John, which will taste even more amazing tomorrow when mixed with my newest obsession, sriracha
  3. Sweet potato & andouille sausage hash, a.k.a. the BEST THING I'VE EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH (yeah, yeah, that's what she said). Sorry, fellow Members of the Tribe - any would-be pork-guilt was 100% drowned out by my sheer joy. Somewhere, a pig in heaven is squealing with joy that he provided my taste buds with such delight.
Our server (we ate at the bar) was either the epitome of Southern hospitality or the epitome of hitting on us. He was jovial, generous & interested in joining our "Lost" discussion - & also in giving us a a few freebies, including cornbread (I want to eat this every single day) & a little absinthe (hallucinations not included, much to my dismay - "Moulin Rouge," you lied to me). YES, PLEASE. He asked whether we'd be returning tomorrow, & if the meal hadn't cost me such a pretty penny (fine, it was only $22), I'd be all over it.

In short, while this is one of the least eloquent blog posts I've ever written, I don't even care because I'm still on a food high from the deliciousness that was Eatonville. Let's go there. I'm in love.
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