Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday Words

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image." 
-Joan Didion, "The White Album" 

I'm on a deadline at work that is consuming me so please forgive the lack of blogging. I have lots to say, but if it's not on intelligent compaction of pavement, I don't have the time or energy to say it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

I Know Where You Sleep At Night

Or, rather, now you know where I sleep.

Since I'd had the same comforter set since moving to D.C., five and a half years ago, I thought a new duvet and pillows warranted a blog post. Wrong? Oh well, here it is.

The duvet cover, duvet, plus new sheets are from Target. They were on sale last month and after checking them out in person at the store, I ordered them online. They're all from the Threshold line, as is my newish mattress pad that was a Christmas gift.

The duvet cover had to be mine as soon as I saw it. It reminded me so much of an Anthropologie one I loved but didn't want to splurge on. I even contemplated making my own, but wasn't ready to make the commitment. Enter Target.

I haven't had a duvet since my time in London, so I'm still getting used to it. I just toss and turn so much, I have to shake it down every night to keep it straight. Even though it came with corner ties. There's also the fact that I fought to put the duvet in the cover to begin with; I got lost inside 2.5 times. That might be something I should keep to myself.

I also added four new pillows, the two damask-esque ones from Etsy, the center blue one on clearance from Target, and the impossibly tiny monogrammed one from Etsy. Even though I measured before I ordered, 8x8 really is quite small. But it's cute and has a monogram so it's still kind of perfect.

I swear I've even been sleeping moderately better since getting new linens. I mean, I still don't sleep straight through the night and I still never want to get up in the morning, but it feels different.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cape cape cape

Last month my friend, Shana, held her annual birthday cape party bar crawl. This was the fifth time she’s held it and the second time I’ve attended.

Whenever I tell people I’m going to a cape party they are always perplexed. Which I don’t really understand. Who says only superheroes and children can wear capes? Why wouldn’t you want to gather a group of friends and day drink whilst wearing a cape?

It was so much fun. Even though I only made it for a few hours and 3 bars due to extreme exhaustion leftover from brother’s wedding festivities and travelling.

We started in the party room at Shana's apartment building for sandwiches, cupcakes, and drinks.

Then we walked to the first bar. Walking down the street, as a group, wearing capes, really should be experienced by every one at some point in life.

The first bar we attracted the attention of several kids, which is always fun.

Pit stop on the way to the second bar to pet the doggie. Such a good doggie.

At the second bar everyone engaged in some beer pong. I subbed in for a round and drank water.

The third bar was farther away so some raced and some, like those in high heels, ambled. As we got closer, one caper spotted a fellow caper dancing in the road, and skipped to join him. You just have to love it.

The third bar brought another drinking game which I was terrible at. Ping pong balls are just too light and too hard to aim.

The third bar is also where I became the Wearer of The Worst. Shana had buttons that we all put funny sayings and titles on and one was The Worst. Shana got it for buying a round of drinks, Christian got it for yawning, and I got it for being the last to walk in the bar.

My costume was one I had thought of in January: Superstorm Hurricane Sandy from Grease.

Sadly, pretty much no one got it without explanation. They thought I was a lego, a dice, or that I was just supporting equality. Which is ok, because I do support equality.

My hair was nuts to start and then feel steadily throughout the day, of course. Since it required me to sleep with my hair all pinned up, it also may have had something to do with my exhaustion.

I'm sad this is the last year Shana will be doing this, but have no doubt she'll have something equally if not more ridiculous and fun next year. As she said in her thank you email afterward, it's just so nice to have people in your life who will willingly and happily don capes for you. Friends are good like that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Things I Learned This (Long) Weekend

Dante was foreshadowing the Crystal City underground when he wrote "The Divine Comedy."
Because Crystal City is a circle of hell. There were many metro delays on Friday evening that had me stuck on a train for about an hour at the CC station. I finally gave up and thought I'd find a bus. Wrong! I wandered around the impossible underground maze of stores, which were eerily devoid of shoppers and owners, for a half hour. On my third trip outside to find a bus, I instead found a cab. Best $25 I've ever spent.

If you love fruit dip and have no self control you shouldn't make fruit dip.
Especially when you're the only one around. But that damn fluff/cream cheese/vanilla mixture is just heaven on strawberries. And a fork.

They really mean "rummage" at a Rummage Sale.
A church at the end of my block had a rummage sale on Saturday, my first rummage! And they really mean rummage. They had tons of clothes in heaps on tarps. I skipped them at first, heading for books and housewares, where I picked up 4 books, a "Votes for Women" packet, a basket, a divided tray, and a solid tray. I then meandered back to the clothes and after spying some nautical flag napkins -- I'm kind of obsessed with nautical flags -- decided to jump in to the heap and dig. (I didn't actually jump, but there was digging.) I found 1 hat, 2 skirts, 1 dress, 1 pair of pants, 2 J Crew wool sweaters, 1 Old Navy sweater vest, and a child's Vineyard Vines polo dress I thought I could wear as a dress. (See more on that below.) What was the grand total for all of this? A whopping $16! (Actually $20 because I donated the change. It's a church!)

I have a big head.
Or at least a head that's too big for a child's dress. I gave it to my co-worker for his daughter. At least it was only a $1.

A sewing machine and a little patience can lead to a new wardrobe.
Or what feels like a new wardrobe. On Saturday I took in six skirts! Two were from the rummage sale and four were from my closet that I've been making fit with safety pins for the last two summers. It was alarmingly easy to take them all in and I'm so happy to have six new (to me) skirts in my repertoire.

The inside of an iron with a retractable cord is a mess.
I dropped my iron for the 100th time, but this time from a distance of about 3 feet on to hardwood floor. The iron still works, but the cord can no longer be stored neatly within.

The Jonathan Adler store is pretty.
And expensive. His store opened in Georgetown in the fall but this was my first visit. I only took one picture, as inspiration for what I can put under my own new (to me) cloche. But the entire store was lovely and modern and bright.

You know you're in for an interesting show when you have to take off your shoes and wear these.
This is B and I before a dance performance at the Kennedy Center. We knew ahead of time we would have to remove our shoes, stand for 45 minutes, and there would be nudity. Wowza was it a show. (See more on that below.)

Some people play fast and loose with the word "art."
I won't get too specific out of respect of the "dancers," but we saw what was billed as a dance show. We walked in to a long, white room with various large squares on the floor. Some squares had plastic cubes, some had piles of paint, two had a disgusting amount of fake, dark hair, and most squares had a person, wearing only flesh-colored undies. Yep. For 45 minutes the crowd walked around and amongst the squares, watching the performers dance, move cubes, freeze, and eventually roll in the paint. (And the hair, which was awful.) It was different, to be sure, but at least we have a good story to tell.

I seriously love a weekend trip to pool.
As I blogged repeatedly last summer, I'm sure I'll be blogging the same this summer in terms of trips to apartment pool. I just love it so. And this year they have new chairs that can lay completely flat! Hello, easy reading on my stomach.

I seriously love a weekend trip to the pool...even if my knees look like a "weird butt."
Or so says an FB friend after I briefly posted this photo. Umm, pretty sure everyone knows those are my knees, and not my butt.

Too much foot soak + electronic foot bath = bubble madness
I made three trips to the kitchen sink with a handful of bubbles before giving up. I bought the bath on crazy sale on Sunday, thinking it would be great for use with all my assorted foot products. I'm hoping it was just user error or else this thing will be going back.

Wednesday Words

"I see the creative process as a necessarily thievish undertaking. Dig beneath a beautiful piece of writing, Monsuier Boustouler, and you will find all manner of dishonor. Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly."
-Khaled Hosseini, "And the Mountains Echoed"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Be nice to the jury

I just finished watching the jury in the Jodi Arias trial deliver their "verdict" of no verdict for the penalty phase. I've mentioned before that I've been obsessed with this case since a month after it started, stalking every day for their live blog, evidence photos, theories, and overly dramatic commentary.

This jury has been on the case since the first week of January. They deliberated once to determine guilt, deliberated again to determine if she was unduly cruel, and then deliberated yet again to determine the penalty. They've been away from their jobs for nearly 6 months and have been unable to discuss what they've been living and breathing. Now, to many, their lack of resolution makes it all a waste.

Of course, I'm watching the HLN circus of histrionics so maybe that's not the case everywhere. But I feel compelled to write anyway.

I served on a jury that couldn't reach a verdict back in October. I never discussed it because it was truly one of the worst weeks of my life. It was a relatively minor case, no one died, no one was even injured, but it taught me so much about both our justice system and human nature. I am in no way comparing my little experience to the severity of Arias' case, the media coverage, or the repercussions. Just this: Be nice to the jury.

The defendant in my case was charged with possession of a gun that wasn't registered, that he wasn't supposed to have as a violation of parole, and one other charge I can't remember. He was seen running from the cops, trying to pull something out of his pocket, and a gun was found in his path. The trial lasted about 2.5 days and we deliberated for the same.

The last time I sat on a jury in D.C., I was the alternate and didn't have to deliberate. This time, I knew the chances of being alternate were slimmer, and I was terrified the entire trial about deliberating. I'm a reasonable person with great respect for our system of government, but I didn't know if I could convict someone. I also didn't want to let a guilty person go free.

I was leaning the entire trial toward not guilty. There wasn't enough evidence. There was some variation in testimony, though minor in my opinion. I did not like the defense attorney, but I couldn't let that influence my decision. When we took the first vote in the jury room, I knew he was guilty. I had doubts, but they weren't beyond reason. Reason didn't really get much play in our jury room, however.

We had jurors who didn't understand the basics of government and the legislative process. "The police shouldn't have charged him with this." (Police don't bring charges.)

One juror "had problems with D.C. cops going back to the '70s." (Good thing we weren't asked during voir dire if we had bias toward law enforcement and a good thing 4 of them didn't testify during the tiral. Oh wait, both of those things happened!)

We would all agree to ignore the testimony of an untrustworthy witness, only to have someone bring it up to support their vote.

Those who voted guilty argued for non-guilty so we could see it from the other side; the non-guilty voters refused to even pretend.

We had jurors blatantly ignore the juror instructions:
  • We were told to only consider evidence presented. Jurors drew elaborate diagrams and concocted alternate theories that even the defense didn't posit.
  • We had strict guidelines for the charges, aka the law. "Well, I don't think possession of a gun should be a crime." (Well, guess what, it is!)
  • We were told not to consider sentencing in our decision, that would be left to the judge. Jurors would constantly bring up the corrupt prison system in their refusal to convict. 
  • We had a clear definition of reasonable doubt. "I just refuse to convict without being 100% sure." (Then you shouldn't be here!)

One witness testified he was the distance from the bench to the courtroom door away from the defendant on the night in question. One juror challenged the measurement given in the courtroom, by the judge. I literally threw my hands up.  Once you start doubting rulers, there's really nothing that can be done.

In the end I believe we were 8 and 4. And worst of all, in my opinion, we were divided by race.

One of the days I sat on the steps outside a downtown hotel, called my mom, and sobbed. I was stressed from missing work, angry at the incompetency and intransigence of my "peers," and disappointed in the system I always believed in. I cried because I know the next time I'm called, I will have a lot to say during voir dire about my thoughts on the criminal justice system, on the jury system, on lawyers, on human beings.

Maybe you think I'm too dramatic, maybe you're rolling your eyes, but that's ok. As realistic-bordering-on-pessimistic as I often am, I still have a fair amount of idealism on certain topics, and it hurts a bit when it gets washed away.

After the trial ended, I looked the defendant up in the court system. He was currently in prison for another crime and has been in and out of prison on a variety of crimes for almost 10 years. He was charged with the exact same set of charges 2 years ago.

Be nice to the jury. It's not an easy job.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Words

"It would just make my heart soar if someone out there saw this, and she said to herself, 'Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself, conquer your fears, just go after what you want. And act fact, because life just isn't that long.'

There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things.
Isn't that kind of the point? "

-Pam Beasley Halpert, "The Office" series finale

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shoppping With Mom

I was so very excited to have my Mom up this past weekend. It's been awhile since we've had a weekend in DC together and it was great. Things haven't been too stressful lately, but they're certainly not perfect, and it's always good to have my Mama here.

The main point of trip was to hit the Luckett's Spring Market. Luckett's is a popular antique store in Leesburg that Mom has read about a lot. For their Spring Market, vendors cover the grounds, selling their vintage, modern, and re-made fares.

I have a dream of making a couch out of a clawfoot bathtub like Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and this just fueled that dream.

There were a lot of great vintage offerings, and a number of items that were already revitalized and re-purposed. Since Mom and I like the fun challenge of doing that ourselves, we weren't quite as blown away as we thought, but it was still nice.

And, of course, we each walked away with a few things. Mom bought a great hutch to put on the screen porch, and I got the following.

Old Pepsi crate, basket that used to pick up golf balls, tin watering can, and a stamp holder with stamps. If only my name were "Barbara H. Taylor," I'd have my own signature stamp.

They really did have a little bit of everything, from old hen houses to a GIANT corkscrew.

Even though it rained a bit, and we should have brought a rolling cart for our wares, it was a productive day that we hope to repeat in the future.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Words

Scene: A small group of us were leaving the office to get yogurt
Background: At a group lunch the day before, I had knocked over a water glass

Co-worker 1: Be careful, Bonnie!
Co-worker 2: Why?
Co-worker 3: It's really just best practice to always say that to Bonnie.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When You Believe More

Note: After just 7 years of having this blog, I finally figured out how to reply directly to a comment. So if you leave one, I'll reply. Promise! (How you get those replies, I don't know, you'll have to figure that out.)

Several months ago I saw an ad in a metro station that said "When you believe more, you sleep less."
I couldn't remember what the ad was for, but when googling for this post, I came across this picture:

Apparently it's for Verizon. Since I have so much trouble sleeping, I began pondering this.

I think A LOT. My brain doesn't stop. I believe (see!) I've talked about this before. It's not like I'm thinking of theorems or medical cures, most of the time it's really mundane stuff. Because of the hamster-stuck-on-a-wheel brain of mine, I examine my feelings and thoughts on a variety of subjects a lot. I definitely lose sleep often because of over-thinking things. Or, maybe, I lose sleep because I believe? That's a sad thought. I think I'll take belief over sleep any day.

Now, in no particular order, a few things I believe in:
  • God 
  • Feminism 
  • Hard work 
  • Everything happens for a reason 
  • Not everyone is meant to be with someone else 
  • Marriage equality 
  • Racial equality 
  • Gender equality 
  • Redistribution of wealth 
  • Democracy 
  • Socialism in theory not practice 
  • America isn't the best country in the world just the loudest
  • Ross and Rachel were on a break
  • Saturday Night Live will never be cancelled
  • Baseball should only be 5 innings
  • There's no way paper beats rock
  • Holding grudges
  • Friendship
  • Words 
  • Imagination
  • Creativity 
  • Logic 
  • Intelligence making you beautiful 
  • UNC basketball 
  • Heaven will be a lot like Chapel Hill
  • That in the end those who are fair and just and dedicated will come out on top

Photo source

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Indiana Jones and the Crazy Dream

    I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer. I have many dreams every night, in color, and most of the time I can interact in them. For example, if I’m having a nightmare – which I still have quite often – I can realize it’s a dream and wake myself up. I have recurring dreams, some of them for years, and dreams that feature the same fake places and people. When I take melatonin to sleep I dream real things I need to do, like paying a bill or making a list, and the next day I think I’ve done it. I even kept a dream journal in high school so I could look for consistent themes and meaning. (I actually really believe in dreams revealing latent thoughts and feelings. It’s the only new age-y thing about me.)

    I say that as a precursor so you know I could blog about a crazy dream every day. I don’t, obviously, but the one I had last night is just too hilarious and crazy not to share.

    I found myself in a re-creation of the third (and my favorite) Indiana Jones movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” (I haven’t seen this in several months so I’m not sure why it was in my head.)

    My brother, Joey, was in the Indy role. I was the sidekick. Not sure if that meant I was the requisite female character or if I was his rotund friend, Sallah.

    For the first part of the dream we were in a church with lots of hallways and people. (Including a few people from my real life.) I assume we were in a church because the last time I saw Joey was for his wedding, in a church with many hallways. This church was very bright and open though. We were told by several people that we were going to go meet a knight.

    As I dreamt this I was also picturing scenes from the movie, which really made it interesting.

    Joey and I began walking down a hallway, knowing we were going to have to choose the Holy Grail. As we walked I told him, “This time, when you take the holy water to Sean Connery to heal him, don’t leave me. I get lost so easily and it’s really confusing around here.”

    We got to where the Holy Grail should have been, but instead there was a dish full of bracelets. Some fancy, some simple. In my head I knew that in the movie you would die if you picked the wrong one, but in this scenario there was just a mini earthquake. The more you got wrong, though, the stronger it got.

    As we looked at the various bracelets, Jennifer Lopez appeared and picked a very silver and gaudy charm bracelet. I knew this was wrong and said, “Early Jews didn’t like ornamentation.” The ground shook and then J. Lo. was gone.

    I then chose a simpler bracelet, and the scene kept flashing between the bracelet and the Grail from the movie. At this point the knight appeared to congratulate us for making the right choice. (He wasn’t there the whole time like in the movie.)

    Then my alarm went off so I have no idea how we got holy water back to Sean Connery. Or why, in my own dream, I was the sidekick and not the star.

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Fountain Friday

    Trevi Fountain
    Rome, Italy 

    Legend has it that if you throw a coin into Rome's Trevi Fountain, you will return to Rome again. It has been almost 7 years since I did that, I haven't been back yet, but I'm sure I will one day.

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Wednesday Words

    "The people don't like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars. You will find that is so, sir."
    -John Steinbeck, The Moon is Down

    Pinterest Challenge: Tiered Organization Edition

    I missed the last one but I'm back and linking with Young House Love, Bower Power, Sparkle Meets Pop, and RedBirdBlue for a Pinterest Challenge.

    Confession: This is how my bathroom counter looks most of the time.

    Shameful, I know. But, if you'll notice, I at least have a container of some sort for just about everything. I do this in all areas of my life and is my not-so-secret as to how I rarely lose things. My most common bathroom items were in little bowls from Anthropologie.

    Cute, but they take up space. They also sit by the medicine cabinet organizer (that has never been in the cabinet) and the contents of bowls and organizer would seem to jump out and mix up and just make a mess.

    I've seen a number of DIY tiered organizers on blogs and Pinterest for awhile, and have casually looked for white plates. When the ladies announced this season's challenge it kicked me into gear to find some plates, find the candle holders I already had, and get to building.

    Here is the pin from Brooklyn Limestone that I've had on my DIY board for 41 weeks. I did it on a bigger scale in a different way, but hers has been in my head for awhile.

    The Crate and Barrel outlet near work had plates on clearance that happened to be three perfectly different sizes. They happened to be from the same line, which meant they were all the same shade of white, which soothed this OCD perfectionist's heart oh so much. (And probably soothed the minds of the employees as they wondered why this woman kept going from one side of the store to the other, comparing seemingly identical white plates, and holding them out in the air in different formations.)

    I didn't start taking photos until after the spray painting, but I bought some pretty plum paint and taped the center of each plate so just the rim showed. I also painted two silver candlesticks I had but were no longer using. Then I glued everything with Gorilla Glue and let it sit for a day.

    Enter cute horizontal storage that still has room for individual containers. (I still have the bowls and thought about using them, but I like the cheap acrylic containers I grabbed from The Container Store.)

    It even inspired me to finally put the organizer inside the medicine cabinet.

    It's basically just transplanting the mess a foot higher, but what remains is pretty.

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Why I Love Rihanna

    Part 1: The Concert
    Last week it was finally time for my January birthday gift from Shana: Rihanna! This is one of the best surprises/gifts I've ever received. I didn't even know she was coming so to have Shana tell me way back in January that we'd be seeing her, in our city, in person, was just wonderful.

    We had nosebleed seats but I didn't care. (Obviously.) She sang and danced her heart out for 90 minutes, and Shana and I danced and sang (and sweated) our hearts out with her. I knew every song, almost every word, and so did everyone else.

    She didn't talk between songs, which was criticized in a review I read, but that's not what I came to see. I came to see her perform. Which she did. While she had about seven wardrobe changes, the stage set was pretty simple, not too distracting, which I appreciated. 

    It was a Monday night and I had a client meeting the next morning, but I was just so happy and hyper I didn't fall asleep until after one. I'd do it again and again.

    Part 2: The Performer
    A lot of people find my love of Rihanna almost antithetical to who I am and what I stand for. I don't feel the need to defend this, but I will anyway.

    A lot is said* about her as a performer, generally criticizing her clothes, song content, and dance moves. I can’t say I like everything she wears, says, or does, but I like the vast majority of it. Yet I do struggle sometimes with the fact that being a Feminist is such a huge part of who I am and how I choose to present myself, and I do not believe in women using sexuality alone to define themselves.

    But, I also believe very strongly in women having the freedom and confidence to discuss and portray sexuality without judgment. I admire Rihanna for embracing her sexuality without shame.** I appreciate that she is authentic in her actions and doesn't say one thing and do another. She knows what she likes and she owns it.

    Beyonce was taken to task for wearing a skimpy leather negligee at the Super Bowl, which took the focus off her talent and to her body. I both agree and disagree. Powerhouse-vocalist Adele’s body is talked about quite frequently, and she’s generally covered head to toe. But how is that different, it’s still all about the appearance? Both are talented vocalists and complicated women either way.

    I think society is still very uncomfortable with a woman telling us exactly what she wants. Many are more comfortable with the Taylor Swift-brand of faux innocence that continues to exalt purity and base a woman's worth on her virginity. Which is unbelievably wrong. I’d rather be watching a performer confident in who she is, how she looks, how she performs, than both hiding behind and perpetuating arcane societal pressures. If the point needs to be hammered home while wearing a short skirt, than let's try it.

    It’s a delicate balance to be able to embrace sexuality and not be defined by it. I don’t have a solid answer. It’s complex. Just like a woman. Just like most people. And I just love Rihanna for trying.

    *A lot is also said about her personal life and this is all I will say: I despise Chris Brown and will never forgive him. I believe that outsiders rarely, if ever, understand the intricacies of another couple’s relationship. There is psychological proof that women often go back to their abusers. If I ever saw Rihanna, I’d hug her and tell her she could do better.
    **In a way, by the way, that men in hip hop have always done, and in a much more crass manner. Tell me one rapper who has never grabbed his groin on stage and then we can criticize Rihanna for doing the same thing.