Monday, December 20, 2010

"First you believe in Santa, then the Tooth Fairy, then you grow up and invent the trickle down theory." (Murphy Brown)

I am home. After a train ride that was significantly shorter and less eventful than last year's.

View from train this year:

View from train last year:

We did have three inches of snow on Thursday, but nowhere near last year's blizzard and subsequent 8-hour train journey home. But just in case something did happen I planned ahead for entertainment purposes. The best way to pass the ride is with TV shows on DVD so I treated myself to the first season of "Murphy Brown."

I loved this show when it first aired and still remember a lot of the episodes and details, despite how young I was. It means so much more to me now, for many reasons, starting with the fact that it is set in D.C. I very rarely consider myself a Washingtonian, mainly due to being constantly lost and craving biscuits. But watching a movie or TV show set in the city and noting all the truths or fallacies definitely makes me feel like one.

That's not what I love about it the most, though. It's the funny and distinct characters. It's the intelligent, topical, and controversial story lines. It's Murphy. It's really Murphy. A strong, independent, passionate, stubborn, intelligent, funny, and flawed woman. A fierce journalist devoted to her career and to fighting for what she believes in. A single woman surrounded by a good group of friends. A prep with a serious collection of blazers, scarves, brooches, and menswear items. A comedienne with some great lines:

"Maybe running my own country is unrealistic. So I’ve set new goals. Like, live through this day. Keep a plant for more than two weeks. Get a date on Saturday night."

As I get older and my passions and opinions become more ingrained as personality instead of just passing fancies, I begin to realize the influence certain pop culture icons have played on me as a woman. After hours spent in the newsroom with Mary Richards and Murphy Brown, it's no wonder I still can't quite cross "journalist" off my list of career options. Of course, thanks to Auntie Mame I also can't quite cross off "rich surrogate aunt," so I can't let pop culture influence me too much. But I will continue to channel Murphy and Mary, Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope, until I figure out exactly the kind of woman I am.

And if they would release the rest of the series on DVD, not just the first season, that would help too.

Murphy: It was going so well. I was going to put guys to jail. That's my favorite thing.
Frank: Don't take it so hard, Murph. The Republicans are still in office. There'll be other chances.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fountain Friday

I only meant to take a short break from Fountain Friday since I was getting so lazy about writing about them. But then I forgot about them entirely. Oops. Now, as I need a break from serious writing, Fountain Friday is back.

 Triton und Nymph*
Vienna, Austria

This was from our first evening in Vienna. We walked around Volksgarten admiring the beautiful landscaping and flowers. The thing I remember most about this fountain and the whole area was the sun. It was just starting to set and seemed to be right on top of us, with light emanating from every surface. There were lots of roses and with the help of the sun this fairly simple fountain suddenly had a beautiful glow to it.

Shortly after this photo my friend and I had someone take ours. I was wearing a UNC shirt and our photographer mumbled "Go Duke" under his breath. This came a day after a tour in Munich where our Irish tour guide was a Duke grad. Those Blue Devils, sadly, really get around.

*I'm 99% positive this is the name and location of this fountain. Even though in all the pictures that come up in a Google search it looks far less pretty than here. So I guess I hit it at a good time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on." (Coldplay)

Christmas ornaments are a big deal in my family. We have so many at home that my mom doesn't even hang them all up because it would take her all day and they probably wouldn't all fit on the tree. In addition to what we call "family" ornaments my siblings and I each have our own  set. Each one designated by our initial on the back marked by mom. And all stored in our own separate boxes, first cardboard and then increasingly larger Rubbermaid tubs.

I think it started that we would get two ornaments a year. One miscellaneous one and then one of whatever figure we collected. (Angels for Melissa, Santas for Joey, and snowmen for me.) But that two-a-year thing is long since out the window. There are just too many options and too many branches on the tree to fill. (Especially when Cracker Barrel has a 50% off sale on their already cheap decorations the day before Thanksgiving.)

Mine remained on the tree throughout college and then I took them when I moved to D.C. And now they grace my own tree. Though there are dozens and dozens of them they still don't come close to filling my tree so I've had to buy lots of "filler" ornaments that come in sets super cheap the day after Christmas. Aka, those which have no sentimental value.

It's the sentimental aspect that to me is the whole point. A Christmas ornament should express a sentiment. I can pick out any (non-filler) ornament on my tree and tell you approximately where it's from, who bought it, how old I was or what I was doing in my life, and what it means to me. But since I don't imagine anyone stopping by anytime soon to quiz me on Ornament History, I'll just feature a few here instead.

First, my tree:

One of about four "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. She used to have a loose halo on her head I managed to keep up until just a few years ago. I'll try not to read too much into that.

One of my absolute favorites that I've had since I was 4, maybe longer. He might need a little surgery, though, as his forehead is peeling.

My mom gave me this in Kindergarten after I was in "The Nutcracker" at school. I was asked to be Clara out of all the little girls, but was too shy and was a dancing flower instead. I still stand by that decision. Not sure where his arm is.

Crafty birds from 1993.

Treasure chest.

One of about a dozen Barbies.

Since finding a tabletop Nativity after lots of searching, I've decided to collect Nativity ornaments.

Last year's White House ornament.

Love this one, though the sister and brother have ones that declare each of them the favorite, too.

Just a few of the many, many snow(wo)men. Made from a light bulb.

A sassy one.

Bringing the Tar Heel love, of course.

Another of the many UNC-related ones. She's from '99, making it one of the last UNC things I let someone buy me before I instituted my "no UNC apparel lest we jinx my future acceptance" rule.

I like to get an ornament from all my trips. Double decker bus from London.

Castanets from Spain and the Eiffel Tower from Paris:

But, of course, there's no place like home.
Center Street at Christmas in my hometown, a favorite sight of mine.

Just a few of my favorites. And I only knocked down six other ornaments in the process of photographing these. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The train ain't even left the station

Song of the Week: Oh Children by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I love this song so much. Though I just bought it a week ago it's already making it's way up my most played list. And severely infringing on my Christmas music listening in the process. But I don't care. The song played on repeat all day today and I just can't get enough. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

And yes, it's from perhaps my favorite scene in the new Harry Potter movie, when Harry and Hermione dance. The second time I saw the movie it just made me sob. Two teenagers in the midst of a journey they shouldn't have to be on just trying to have a light-hearted moment while dancing to this heartbreakingly beautiful song.

I'm stressed and anxious 95% of the time so when something calms me I run with it. And right now, this song is giving me peace.

My favorite verses:

Hey, little train! We're jumping on./
The train that goes to the Kingdom./
We're happy, Ma, we're having fun./
And the train ain't even left the station.

Hey, little train! Wait for me!/
I once was blind but now I see./
Have you left a seat for me?/
Is that such a stretch of the imagination?

Hey, little train! Wait for me!/
I was held in chains but now I'm free./
I'm hanging in there, don't you see./
In this process of elimination.

Hey, little train! We're jumping on./
The train that goes to the Kingdom./
We're happy, Ma, we're having fun./
It's beyond my wildest expectation.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peter's home!

I recently saw a new Folger's coffee Christmas commercial entitled "Coming Home." (I won't link to it here but it's on YouTube.) It's a (far inferior and fairly creepy) re-take of the popular 1980's Folger's commercial where Peter comes home for Christmas.

As far back as my memory goes, so goes this commercial. As a kid it wasn't Christmas until the commercial aired. I just loved it and would feel instant peace and joy the second it came on. I was probably the same age as the little girl when it first started airing and loved the idea of being on a secret mission with an older brother. Loved the sound of the grounds being scooped and the fresh-brewed goodness hitting the pot. Loved the way I could smell the aroma and feel the warmth through the television. Loved the excitement on his family's face.

But let's not forget Peter. Because, yes, I definitely had a crush on Peter. Tall, dark, handsome, and clearly preppy. I had a type even at five.

I don't know, maybe part of me knew, even then, that some day I'd be like Peter, coming home for Christmas every year.

Though without the sneaking in or coffee. Because it's kind of hard to sneak in when you don't drive and kind of hard to make coffee when you don't like it nor even know how to make it. But that's far less catchy of a commercial.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

The week before Thanksgiving and the week after have been very stressful at work. I lost track of how many hours I worked last week but, hopefully, the worst is behind me. Which should mean more blogging! Hooray?

And things are slowing down (no jinx) just in time for lots of fun Christmas festivities. Every year I try and do more and more to soak up the city's fun holiday offerings. One of these offerings are the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, which the roommate and I went to on Friday night. This year they are free to the public, which is a very nice touch.

I'm not a big zoo person, and certainly never thought I'd be at one at night, but I just love Christmas lights. It was very well done and creative and really quite beautiful when you think about it.

It was cold, however. Bitterly and miserably cold. (But not as cold as today, which apparently is the coldest day we've had since February. Which I assume was in the middle of Snomageddon.) They did have a few buildings open so you can stop in for warmth. And they were also selling hot chocolate and funnel cakes.

It's still odd to me that I can leave my apartment in a city and take the metro or a bus to a zoo. And in this case, a bus just two miles down the same street I live on. I share a zip code with zebra, giraffes, and panda bears. Odd. But lovely.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh, sweet, sweet justice

I read this article in the New York Times over the weekend: Unlearning to Tawk Like a New Yorker. To begin:

"Andrew Ramos always believed it made him more charming, an endearing characteristic integral to his identity. But, finally, after too many people mocked him, he began seeing a therapist. ...'I was diagnosed with a New York accent,' Mr. Ramos said."

That's right. A segment of the Yankee population are undergoing therapy to cleanse themselves of their dialect.

Had I not been in public when I read this article, a happy dance would have shot out from my toes and fingers in an entirely un-coordinated and frenetic way. (Note: My happy dance is actually no different from any other "dance" I do. There is not an ounce of rhythm in these bones.)

"Those who seek professional help to conquer their accents make similar complaints, like,  ‘People don’t understand what I’m saying,’  said Sam Chwat, who is considered the dean of speech therapists. ‘I’m stigmatized by the way I speak.’ ‘I’m tired of people imitating or ridiculing the way I speak, or saying I sound cute.’ ‘My accent seems to imply negative characteristics.’ ”

Years and years of the Southern accent being ridiculed, mocked, and judged. Years and years of that sing-songy twang called ignorant or un-educated.

"A New York accent makes you sound ignorant,” said Lynn Singer, a speech therapist who works with Miss LoGiudice. “People listen to the accent, but not to what you’re saying.”

I read an article years ago in the Raleigh paper on Southerners being urged to take classes to erase their accents for similar reasons. Oh, sweet justice, thou art seriously sweet.

Though I rarely hear my supposed accent, I still feel a kinship with my Southern-kind and recoil at the derision they receive for their "ya'lls", "aint's," and "fixin's." I've always found a New York or Boston accent to be far more harsh and significantly more worthy of mocking. So I'm kind of happy they are learning how to "tawk" correctly.

However, we are a huge country full of a plethora of ethnicities, personalities, and yes, accents. Can't we all just get along? Or at the very least just to agree to adopt the Southern accent? I'll take a drawl dripping in biscuit butter over an ear-piercing squawk any day of the week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another one bites the dust

This is old news at this point but I have about 10 posts I started and never finished last week, starting with this one.

From the time that the magazine below first hit newstands, was bought and read by my mother, and then ended up in my hands, I've been in love. Since July 1, 1996. 

(And I still have this magazine, as well as every other issue of People he's been on the cover of since. It's in a box in my closet at home with all my teen magazines featuring NSYNC or Leo.)

All that to say, I was a bit melancholic when this happened:

Like any good American girl, I love royalty. I'm intersted in the details of any royal family, but my heart lies with the Brits, of course. And though not very fond of her at this point, I don't think I would have liked anyone he ended up with. It's stupid and childish. 

But I'll forget it and become obsessed with her too at some point. Because she's beautiful and stylish and probably a very nice person. And even though he's grown a bit squishy, he's still Wills and still a prince.

And now, to begin plotting how to celebrate their union. My west-coast friend says she will throw a viewing party and serve crumpets and wear a tiara. Seeing as how she is my west coast friend, I have about a year to find enough people on my coast to gather and watch with. And who won't mock me for wearing a tiara. Perhaps for the entire month. 

Because it's not just about the history. Not just about the tradition. Not just about their love. It's about the tiara, people.

Photos: People

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the edge

Confession: I write in my books.

I can't help it. I just love words and sentences and the well-written occurrences of each that demand recognition.

But I'm not the only one. I recently came across this New Yorker article from the summer on the margin notes of various famous authors, called marginalia.

"Anne Garner's specialty is marginalia, and she had place-marked some of her favorites... In the soft lamplight, the open pages of the books she had chosen glowed like a physical and visible representation of the sublime."

Twain, Nabokov, Plath, Hughes, Kerouac. All utilized their. margins.

As a marginalia scribbler, Mark Twain was perhaps the most entertaining and voluminous of all, with comments that bloomed from space breaks and chapter headings and end pages, sometimes turning corners and continuing upside down.

Though, now thinking about it, I'm actually more of an underliner, starrer, and exclamation-point-marker than note writer. At least since leaving college. (With the exception of some political books where I have written "grrr" or "NO!" beside stances or incidents that anger me.)

 I can't decided if it would be supremely flattering to be so famous of an author that someone is interested in my loopy margin thoughts. Or supremely terrifying that fifty years from now someone could be trying to interpret "YES! or !!!! or :-)" in my margins. Maybe I need to be a bit more purposeful with my notes in the future.

New Yorker article: Marginalia
Photos: mine

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stalking Tina Fey, Finding Harry Reid: A D.C. Story

Tuesday night I went to the Kennedy Center with the roommate to see the musical "Hair." It was fun, vibrant, and very enjoyable. She has seen it a number of times and warned me about the actors coming into the audience and touching people. (Not a fan of audience participation but they stayed away from us.) And the nudity and other stuff was to be expected seeing as how it's about 1960s hippies. But thank goodness for it all since it led to some of the best overheard conversations ever that included the words stoned, lover, crazy stalking, and genitals.

Tuesday was also the night that Tina Fey received the Mark Twain Prize at the KC. I knew she was receiving the prize but didn't know when until Karey reminded me. I actually started a post last month on how much I love Tina, but have been too intimidated to finish it. Basically, she is very high on my Women I Admire But Am Not Related To List. As in, Audrey's first, Hillary's probably second, and Tina might just be third. Love. Her.

After the play we exited and immediately saw a dozen black suburbans and a red carpet. While most of the carpets are red at the KC but this was clearly a Hollywood-style red carpet. And those black suburbans that are seen all over the city, suddenly took on a new meaning.

Now, the roommate is an expert at meeting famous people. And keeping her cool. I, on the other hand, would rather avoid them at all cost. I just get too panicky at the thought of meeting someone I admire and no doubt would throw up on. But we decided to hang out for a bit in the roped off area -- yes, they made us wait in a roped off area -- to see who we could see. I rehearsed in my head potential talking points were we to get in shouting distance of anyone but could come up with nothing more eloquent than "I AM YOU. I LOVE YOU." (Plus a variety of inappropriate comments to adorable Seth Meyers and just plain fainting if Jon Hamm were to walk by.)

Sadly, or thankfully, after waiting about 10 minutes we decided to leave as it was late and we were tired. Yes, lamest story ever. But, as this is D.C., we do have our own famous people, which is how Senate Majority Leader and recently re-elected Nevada Senator Harry Reid came to walk down that carpet. Harry Reid! A Senator! Who is very tiny in person! And who definitely made me screech, giggle, and hit my friend in excitement. Because I am just that big of a dork.

Probably for the best that we left before Tina and the others came out because I only love Harry half as much as I love them and still lost my cool. Never mind, you're right, I have no cool.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I almost forgot

Since I was all mushy in the last post, time to get superficial. This is one of the favorite things in my room:

The painting is from Home Goods and I added the U2 lyrics using scrapbook letter stickers painted black. I wanted some sort of artwork using a U2 lyric but could find nothing. After narrowing down my favorite lyrics from 20ish to 5ish, I knew it had to be this line from "Mysterious Ways." Then I found the painting and it worked perfectly. Now my days are lifted and my nights lighted up every time I walk in my room. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Three best friends that anyone could have

This is a rather long post that definitely falls into the scrapbook/no one probably cares about this but me category of this blog. But times with my friends are few and far between and I want to remember it all.

While I covered our rallying fun, I haven't yet covered the rest of the Jan weekend. As mentioned many, many times over the course of this blog, these girls/women are very dear to me and we only get to be together as a group once a year. Every other year this has been a Christmas reunion, but with adulthood what it is, this year it's not going to work out.

Christmas 2009

Luckily it did work out that Jan was looking for a quick getaway from L.A. and wanted to come to the home of 3/4 of the group: D.C. It was going to be a short trip, and it was, and I can't say it was enough time, but it was perfect. Or, well, not exactly as we had to contend with serious metro delays, a suspicious package, rally crowds, and a middle of the night fire alarm. You know, just your typical D.C. weekend.

I met Jan at the airport Friday evening and we metroed into the city. But when it came time to switch trains, there were serious delays on the red line, i.e., the only line that goes to my apartment. Hiccup Number One. With the two of us cold and hungry and our two friends back at the apartment just hungry, we decided to catch a cab. On a Friday night. In Chinatown. By two people who have never actually hailed a cab before. (Don't ask me how this is possible.) We ended up getting lucky and grabbed one rather quickly, which got us back to my place faster than we thought it would. Hiccup Number One Averted.

The four of us were together at last and ready for some Tex-Mex and margaritas at a great place a few blocks from our place. About a block away from our building we came to a police car blocking off the street and yellow caution tape. Hiccup Number Two.

Now, while this may sound alarming to most, it honestly happens quite a bit. Maybe not the yellow tape, but police cars blocking off streets, officers running around with guns, it happens. It's a busy city with lots of important people in it, and lots of crazy people too, unfortunately. As we debated whether we should just walk a few blocks around it, an officer came up to tell us that they were investigating a suspicious package and that we should move because we were in the blast zone. While suspicious packages are nothing new to us either, being in the blast zone is, so we turned around and decided we should probably save the margaritas for another night.

We ended up at a cute Italian place that was only alright, but it wasn't in any blast zone that we knew of so bonus points for that. Hiccup Number Two Averted.

The next day was getting to the rally, the rally, and then getting back from the rally, which took up the daylight hours. That night all four of us stayed at the BK and finally got our Tex-Mex and Margaritas.

Then it was back to the apartment where we did our traditional group shot, watched "The Hangover," and laughed until we couldn't stand and our sides hurt.

We were in bed shortly after one and ready for a peaceful night's sleep. And by "night" I mean "two hours" as the fire alarm in our building started going off sometime after 3 a.m. I say "sometime" because I'm not entirely sure how long it was going off. Hiccup Number Three.

Between my earplugs and the busy day, I was knocked out cold, which rarely happens. Karey tried to wake me from the doorway, and when that didn't work, Jan bravely ventured closer to shake me awake. Only I sensed a presence in the room and woke up, and instead of assuming it was one of the three people currently asleep in my apartment, took it to be an intruder and started shouting "no, no, no!" at my dear friend Oops.

Eventually we all got it relatively together and made our way outside, past the alarmingly loud alarm. We were greeted by two firetrucks and many firemen, then joined briefly by another truck and the fire marshal. They ran around for a bit and even unrolled the hose, but we never saw or smelled smoke and they never used the hose, so we're still not entirely sure what happened. Other than that whatever it was happened in the apartment above us, as we heard the firemen say the number. And how do we know this for sure? We were privy, for at least an hour, to a very heated and very loud argument from the occupants of that apartment after we were lucky enough to return to our home. Never realized just how thin our ceilings are. Hiccup Number Three Averted?

As a way to wind down from that insane weekend, on Sunday we had brunch and met up with one of our friends from college before saying goodbye.

It was a busy and a quick weekend and as usual there wasn't enough time, but we could have all the time in the world and it probably still wouldn't be enough. But it was amazing and that's all that matters.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's in a name?

All photos mine, from Vienna, Vienna, Macy's in Arlington, and London.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welcome to my home

Last week, two months after moving in, the roommate in I finally hung up photos/art and I finished decorating my room, just in time for our friends reunion. Thus I introduce you to the BK.


The best part of the foyer: 2005 National Championship DTH


Bookcases in living room (mine on right, roomie's on left)

Dining area (taken when I was working from home)

Living area

My room

Favorite part of my room: bookcases!

Second favorite part: my diploma and my Mamaw's rolltop desk

My own bathroom (and me). This is only the second time in my life I've had a bathroom all to myself. I can't put into words what this means.

And that's that. It's smaller than my last place, but as the old roomie pointed out, I don't have to walk as much. (Except of course when going anywhere else since it's not as centrally located.) But it's cozy and was like hell to find, so I think it will do. And I just realized that practically none of the pictures we hung are shown, oops.