Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh How We Shopped

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and unlike some others, we had avoided any sort of shopping on Black Friday. I like to sleep, for one thing, and also, I don't really need anything electronic, and most of the deals seemed to be in that general neighborhood. Plus I like to sleep. But I still had this shopping bug, so Gina and I decided to try it out on Saturday, when there would still (hopefully) be some sales, and maybe fewer people. Our game plan was to try Ross out for some cheap work clothes, run by Kohl's to look at a potential present for her mom, and then hit the big mall. We barely made it out of Ross.

So lucky were we at the first stop that we easily spent our quota in that store. Probably more than the day's allotted shopping funds, if we're being honest. This is where I'll confess a little something: I really, really like a good deal. It is ridiculous to have such a sense of accomplishment from getting a good deal on something, whether it's shoes or DVDs or coats or whatever, but I still love it. But Gina, she loves shopping more than even me. So asking her to take me to stores is akin to asking the alcoholic to take you to the bar - you know exactly how it will end.

We really did get amazing deals: great winter coat, gorgeous shoes, presents for others, smokin' little black dress (that one's Gina's...she also got shoes and lots more), but still...walking out with our trashbag-like sacks of stuff was a little out of control. To reinforce our sense of accomplishment we went home and got out the calculator to add up how much we would have spent had we bought the items for a retail price (which I of course would NEVER do...I can count on one hand the things I have paid full price for) and lordy, we each saved like $300. Good times.

We also did well at Kohl's, and had to stop there, because the mall would have been just too much and I also have to eat and such. Can't spent ALL the grocery money on earrings.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's Okay, TJ's, I Still Love You

Did you know that the time between 5-6 pm is cranky old lady hour at Trader Joe's? I, myself, did not know this fact until today. But I now I certainly do.

Normally I go early on Saturday or late on a weekday, but got out of work a wee bit earlier than usual, and I'm out of coffee (aka sweetnectar of morning caffeine) so I thought I'd drop by. How could I tell it was said Cranky Hour? Well:

-Apparently the lines were WAY too long. Unacceptably long. And anyone wearing a badge, including the checkers that were working very quickly to get everyone moving, got to hear all about it.
-The clementine oranges (which I bought, by the way) were marked from California, when EVERYONE knows that the best ones are from Morocco [dramatically put out sigh].
-Anyone caught dallying in a place that might slightly inconvenience someone (read: everywhere) got to hear about it with fake politeness: "Um, exCUSE me, THANK you."

The bitching was truly endless. Maybe these people didn't get the laid back memo about Trader Joe's - I mean everyone in the place is freakin' wearing an Hawaiian shirt. The whole reason I go to places like that is to ESCAPE from you uptight, repressed DC dames. Curse you all for invading my clearly designated, laid back, granola-type space.

In other words, lesson learned, and am vowing to keep to my original schedule without variance. And to thoroughly enjoy my Californian clementines :).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Alright, ladies

I was chatting with my mom over the weekend (yes, she came in from Texas for what amounted to the most gorgeous fall weekend ever in DC) about my new discovery in skin care. I am, as I have perhaps previously mentioned, extremely cheap about things. I mean, I can spend money when necessary, but there is nothing I love more than a good deal, whether it be a sweater on sale or gas that is 3 cents cheaper than the station across the road.

So I have recently discovered that oldie but goodie product: Pond's Cold Cream. I have unbearably dry skin, which is just awful in the wintertime, and this stuff is great for it. Plus, it costs a whopping $5 at Target, which is just too cool. It got me thinking: which things do I consider my "secret" deals, and which things do I consider worth the splurge? Here's my list:

Things that are cheap but great nonetheless:
Pond's Cold Cream
L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara (seriously, this stuff costs like $6 as well, and it is AWESOME. I have puny eyelashes and people consistently ask me if I have fake ones on when I sport this)
Lubriderm lotion (okay, this isn't as cheap as some of the others, but I have yet to find an all-purpose lotion that works as good as this stuff does)

Things that I like to spend a little extra on:
Face masks (and really anything) from Lush (the masks are great - homemade, and work wonders - although it could be a placebo effect because I love everything they make* but whatever works, right? - and you smell so very wonderful from even being in the vicinity of the store)
Shampoo, conditioner, and Be Curly from Aveda (keeping the curls in line is totally worth the extra dough, plus it also smells so lovely)

Of course I am listing these things in the hope that all of you will chime in with your fabulous deals and such, because I would LOVE to add to my list. So, dish!

*Because I discovered the store while studying in London - over a weekend in Scotland, to be exact - and Lush has always had a special place in my heart since, although it is so very less coveted now that there are actually stores in the U.S. Things are less of a premium when you don't have to fly across an ocean for them...

A New(ish) Hobby

It's all Joi's fault, really. She (and her many crafty friends) are always making cute things and posting photos on their websites, and it makes me want to make stuff. There's also this side of me that really wants to make things that are tangible and do not deal with Microsoft Office in any way, shape or form. So when I went to visit Joi this summer, she taught me some basics of crochet. And then I went and bought a book, and now, in November, there is yarn all over my freakin' apartment (with apologies to Gina, who is a very nice and understanding roommate).

All of this is to say that, if I can get my act in gear, I might from time to time, show you guys stuff I'm making. So now you are forewarned. Also, this has led to conversations with other people who also do things with yarn (i.e. knit and/or crochet...there's a difference! I'm learning something new all the time!), so notice a new link to the right, so you can go and ogle the pretty things Ava makes as well.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My favorite passage from Everything is Illuminated*

The 120 Marriages of Joseph and Sarah L

The young couple first married on August 5, 1744, when Joseph was eight, and Sarah six, and first ended their marriage six days later, when Joseph refused to believe, to Sarah's frustration, that the stars were silver nails in the sky, pinning up the black nightscape...They remarried four days later...They were sixty and fifty-eight at their last marriage, only three weeks before Sarah died of heart failure and Joseph drowned himself in the bath. Their marriage contract still hangs over the door of the house they on-and-off shared...

"It is with everlasting devotion that we, Joseph and Sarah L, reunite in the indestructible union of matrimony, promising love until death, with the understanding that the stars are silver nails in the sky, regardless of the existence of the bottom of the Brod...agreeing to forget that Joseph played sticks and balls with his friends when he promised he would help Sarah thread the needle for the quilt she was sewing, and that Sarah was supposed to give the quilt to Joseph, not his buddy...ignoring the simple fact that Joseph snores like a pig, and that Sarah is no great treat to sleep with either, letting slide certain tendencies of both parties to look too long at members of the opposite sex, not making a fuss over why Joseph is such a slob, leaving his clothes wherever he feels like taking them off...trying to erase the memory of a long since expired rose bush that a certain someone was supposed to remember to water when his wife was visiting family...
accepting the compromise of the way we have been, the way we are, and the way we will likely be..."

*Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, 2002.

Friday, October 13, 2006

On the way to work this morning (at about 9:45 am), I heard this line from a comedian who will apparently be featured in a show in the area:

"You know what sucks about the whole 9 to 5 thing? The 9. Seriously, am I a farmer?!"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

To Do List

My friend Anne has inspired me: she has a goal to see all 50 U.S. states by the time she's 30. Really I don't care about an age deadline, but it would cool to check them all off. As of now, I have 21 to go:

1. Nevada
2. Oregon
3. Arizona
4. Massachusetts
5. Connecticut
6. New Hampshire
7. Vermont
8. Maine
9. Rhode Island
10. Kentucky
11. Ohio
12. Indiana
13. Illinois
14. Michigan
15. Wisconsin
16. Minnesota
17. Iowa
18. South Dakota
19. North Dakota
20. Alaska
21. Hawaii

Now, I don't define having been to a state too narrowly, except that a layover in an airport does not count. Driving through a state, however, does count. Not that that will help me much with Hawaii.

What are your random goals?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My life is spinning wildly out of control

I just realized that I'm going to be out of town for the third weekend in a row, and the thought made me want to break down and cry at my desk from despair. I doesn't help that I'm running on about 5 hours of sleep, because there's this long story about my flight being delayed from Seattle and having to spend the night in St. Louis with no luggage, and then to have my luggage arrive at 4 am this morning (via a courier who called my cell phone in the freakin' middle of the night to let me know he was downstairs), and then I couldn't really go back to sleep, and I have really bad sinus headache. And a lot of my stuff is still in boxes and our bathroom smells really funky and there's just NO TIME to deal with it all.

But then I realized that I don't have to work on Monday, and that thought made me so happy I considered tap dancing on my desk.

I'm feeling the strain of the emotional roller coaster - as I haven't felt it since, oh, we'll guess the age of 14.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Something you should know about me

I take immense pleasure in using a thread ripper to tear off obnoxious little bows that always appear on random clothing, particularly pajamas.

Also, I had pomegranates for dinner.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Things at Work that Make me Laugh

My boss keeps lots of really high quality candy in her office for people to eat. People that come by to eat this candy often feel the need to rationalize their snacking to me: "I swear this is my last trip!"..."I only took one this time!"..."It's just to tide me over to lunch!" As though I am on chocolate consumption detail.

There's a guy at my office who A) is loud, and B) loves speakerphone. LOVES speakerphone. And he likes to bellow on speakerphone to his assistant, who sits quite close to me and who I can also hear when she talks on the phone. The result of all this is surround-sound phone conversations, generally about minor details of our job. But it's coming at me from every direction! There is no escape!

The way that we throw stereotypes about international types out with no shame whatsoever. You're probably thinking that it's a horrible thing to laugh at...but really, we have stereotypes for a reason, people. They started somewhere based on the way certain groups act. For instance (related to my job, anyway): Asians=very particular about details, Middle Easterners=very demanding and likely to treat you as their personal secretary/slave, Latin Americans=loud and fun, Eastern Europeans=sometimes surly (especially government workers) and like to drink a lot, particularly vodka. Now these of course do not apply across the board, and I have worked with very lovely people from each of these places. But I find it funny that someone will gripe about a project they're working on, and we always ask where the people are from. "Russia." "Ohhhh."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


...of Guest Post Through Paraphrase!

Seriously though, my friends have all of these funny ideas and stories. But in the end it's always, "Hey, you should put this on your blog!" So here we go:

My friend (let me emphasize, my FRIEND, not'll see why in a minute) has this friend that she's known since they were preschoolers in Sunday School. And because they are sort of trapped in a small town with few cool people to hang out with, they have been spending some time together at parties and such - I think she dog-sat for his parents while they were out of town too - little stuff like that.

So the other night following a margarita-themed birthday party, they were hanging out and visiting. He was telling some story about giving blood, and my friend is pretty grossed out by normal needles, much less big huge needles to funnel blood out of one's arm. So she was squirming and cringing and pleading for the story to be over, and he reached over and grabbed her hand. At this point, you could imagine it was a comforting, friendly hand grab, meant to reassure her that life would go on once the needle story was over. But then the topic changed to lighter things, and he kept holding her hand. And as my friend would tell you, she is quite the hand-talker - there is much waving and gesturing and such - so at points she would break free, but when she was done, he would grab her hand again. She was puzzled by all of this, and finally said to him, "Hey, it's kind of funny how you grabbed my hand to comfort me, but then you just kept right on holding it." In other words, "Look, dude, what exactly are you trying to do here?" And he sort of mumbled this, "yeah well, I just wanted to hold" and continued to hold her hand.

Now this guy is a little on the goofy, artsy, emotionally-connected side of things, so the initial hand-hold could be overlooked...but the continuation? So strange. Finally she got up to leave, taking her hand with her. And that was the end of the hand-holding. But not the end of the puzzlement. What exactly was he going for there? Was he going to put on some moves? Was he just seeking the comfort of another hand? We may never know.

Monday, August 14, 2006

So I'm back from this long, rather unintended hiatus, to bring you all a list of what pretty much boils down to selfishness. In other words, things that I have found strange, and I wanted to share. If you participate in any of the following, this is your clue to never let me know, unless you want to be mocked:

-Couple profiles/email addresses: Seriously people, are you so much into the identity of being with someone, in a couple, proving that you do have a significant other, etc. that the idea of having something still all by yourself is too much to bear? I think the are about the dorkiest thing ever. Ditto with any sort of profile, especially on places like myspace or friendster. The whole point is for it to be JUST YOU, not the both of you.*

-The other day, there was a big rainstorm here. I was taking the bus home, and of course didn't have an umbrella. I made it, damply, under the bus stop, to then fight for space with a women who had her umbrella open. Under the bus stop. Where there was no rain. She stood like that for 20 minutes, waiting for the bus, dripping on those around her. I know you might wonder that I didn't say something (and believe me, I thought about it) but then I was really curious to see if she would ever clue in. She didn't. So I took a picture of her, for mocking purposes:

If you know this woman (not that you could probably tell from the picture), please tactfully explain to her why this is ridiculous, okay?

-I'm currently cat-sitting for two very nice guy cats, Sterling and D'Artagnan. Their owners about as granola as it gets though - they even buy holistic cat food and organic kitty tuna. I think they might actually spend more on their cats than I spend on myself. I'm all for eating healthy, but these cats also regularly eat mice and birds, which they probably find hanging out near the trash cans in the back alley.

*This does not include, however, blogs that are shared amongst two or more contributors. In my world, that is more of a forum, and not at all the same thing.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gastronomy: the art of living well

Ebony came to visit me these last few days, making it a nice, long food-rich weekend. We ate our way all through DC, North Arlington and even West Virginia. Ebony and I share a very important philosophy about vacationing: eating well makes every trip better.


So let's review the goodness:

Dim Sum in Chinatown (enough said)
Wine festival, with acres and acres of vineyards backing up to the Blue Ridge mountains, and ten different wines to try
Ben's Chili Bowl: DC landmark that completely lives up to its reputation for the best chili half-smokes in the land
The brunchiest of brunch places in DC, with books to peruse beforehand, and pancakes and eggs benedict during the brunch hour...

...and the crowning jewel in our gastronomic adventures:
Lebanese Taverna (oh sweet wonderful essence of all things yummy...this was a GOOD meal): involving spicy stuffed baby eggplant, hommous with pine nuts, chicken shwarma, kibbeh yoghurtlieh, and Lebanese chilled white wine, served al fresco in the gorgeous summer air

Seriously, food does make all trips better. Served up with great company and some cooperative weather, and I didn't even need to leave home to have a vacation.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

In seeing the new Superman movie, I have developed a little bit of a crush. It's not on Superman himself, although he is certainly worthy of a crush, but it's on a rather unlikely person. John Williams, to be exact. One of the most thrilling parts of the whole movie - the part where I decided I already loved it - was when the "Superman" theme began to play with the opening credits. The music is so amazing! And Mr. Talented Composer didn't just do this, no no no, he has done so many more: ET! Star Wars! Schindler's List! Raider's of the Lost Ark! Harry Potter! The list could go on and on.

I've noticed a trend lately (with myself) that inclines more and more to instrumental and/or classical music. It's really the background music to my childhood - if you dropped into my parents' house right this moment, they would have on the classical music station or a similar CD (assuming they're home, of course). And then there were 14 years of ballet lessons, all performed to classical music. This also has an interesting side-effect, in that I can hear Chopin or Grieg, and immediately my muscles want to launch into a barre routine. Frappes! Degages! Musical memory is a strange thing indeed.

Don't get me wrong: I still love my rock'n'roll and all the others, but there's something so soothing about music that is purely instrumental. You don't have pay attention to or be distracted by the words, because there aren't any.* It leads me to one of my favorite quotes, which I collect for moments such as this: "It is only that which cannot be expressed otherwise that is worth expressing in music." (Frederick Delius). Beautiful.

*I sort of lop opera music into this category as well, because there are words, but I can't understand them.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Things That Rock

Tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad (with hearts of palm)
Superman Returns
Tank tops
Oscillating fans
Plans to see a matinee on a Tuesday
No more rain
Federal holidays

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Regarding the Warren Buffet big donation story:

His children will not inherit a significant proportion of his wealth. These actions are consistent with statements he has made in the past indicating his opposition to the transfer of great fortunes from one generation to the next. Buffet once commented, "I want to give my kids enough so that they could feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing."

How wrong is it that I sincerely hope that this makes the Paris Hilton-types of the world wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fun new twist on an old, old forward-type thing

So I saw this on Danielle's and Babs's blogs, and loved it and decided to play along.

I know you're all disappointed that this isn't about my time in Huntsville, Alabama and Space Camp and all, but oh my dear lord there are photos to post so very soon...and they can be summed up in two words: taxidermy convention.

But back to the forward-thing:

Google your answers to the questions/topics and choose a picture from the first page and post it.*

Where I was born:
Where I live now:
My name:
My favorite food:

My favorite drink:
My favorite superhero:

My favorite smell:
My favorite TV show:
My favorite sport:

My pet's name:

My favorite color:
My favorite holiday:

My favorite vacation:

*Although I would like to add that I didn't exactly do this so much as run a Google image search and picked the one on the first row that I liked. I had good intentions, but it didn't really go very quickly and it was either search for images or scrap the idea entirely...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I often have random associations with songs. And I just got a new mp3 player in the mail yesterday - it holds LOTS more songs than my former one (which was stolen off my desk, or I would still discussed with the phone situation, I am too cheap to upgrade voluntarily). So with all of the music on it, I'm on a very bizarre walk down memory lane.

For instance: "Shake Ya Ass" by Mystikal. This song was huge my junior year of college. And because I have so much space on this thing, I sort of threw whatever on there. This song makes me think of Ebony's mom. She LOVED this song. I think the exact quote was "He sounds like James Brown!" I just think it's awesome that this dirty rap song makes me think of a little Hispanic woman in Austin.

Another one, not up on the shuffle deck just yet but the Mystikal song makes me think of it, is "Up in Here" by DMX. It makes me think of Joi's dad, because apparently he used the phrase "Y'all goin' make me act a fool" in his everyday life, prior to the song coming out. I totally love that.

Some more:
"Mundian to Bach Ke" (Panjabi MC) = African-ish bar in France and Cuba Libres
"2 Times" (Ann Lee) = drunk guy friends singing falsetto in a London flat
"Lady Marmalade" (the Moulin Rouge version) = blow-up plastic microphones and Babs, Eb, and me dancing in our campus apartment.

Tell me yours!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


While I was at home for my sister's graduation, I learned something very interesting. My grandmother, like my sister, was the valedictorian of her class. We were chatting, and I asked her about the content of her speech. She told me she couldn't remember, but it was also a pretty sad time, because her grandfather had just died in an accident two days before the graduation.

I asked her how he died. Her reply was something along the lines of, "Well, he had some chickens. And there was this grass he liked to feed the chickens that grew along the railroad tracks. Now, he was about 90 years old and was pretty deaf, so I guess a train came along and he didn't hear it coming. So he died because he got hit by a train."

This was startling to me for a number of reasons. First of all, I was pretty sure my mother had NEVER heard this story, and as such had no idea how her great-grandfather had gone to meet his Maker. Turns out I was right - she was also pretty startled. Then there's the weirdness around the mere concept of my great-great-grandfather being hit by a train. And finally, holy crap I have an ancestor who lived to be 90 in freakin' 1935!! I might actually live forever, barring any run-ins with transportation services.

So then it gets stranger. Apparently on my dad's side, his father lost not one but two grandparents to a train accident. His grandparents were driving along (do you still say "driving" if it's in a buggy with a horse? I suppose so, as I can't imagine what else you'd say) and they apparently stopped on or very near to a railroad crossing. Again, they are both hard of hearing (I believe Grandaddy's exact phrase was "deaf as posts") and a train came along. So they both died. If you're wondering, no one seems to know what happened to the horse.

I would say I would try to avoid trains now if possible, but frankly that's just not going to happen around here. I will, however, be getting my hearing checked at my next doctor's appointment. Just in case.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


(Scene: Rachel is sitting at the front desk filling in for the receptionist. A large group of Afghan visitors arrives at the office).

R: Hello!

Tall Man in Turban: Thank you!

R: (pause)...Hi!


R: Er, you're welcome?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's SO embarassing...

Actually, it's not all that embarassing, but I don't think I realized this side effect when signing up for a blog last year: all the entries are still here! Granted, not everyone knows what they're referring to exactly or what I was feeling at the time, and as much as I have attempted to make this as non-diary as possible, dramatic writings and such have still snuck their way in. So I won't go back and edit things (because those sorts of revisions seem like cheating), but I would like to clarify:

The sappy paragraph I wrote about my Turkish visitors? They were a total pain in my ass the ENTIRE THREE WEEKS they were in the U.S. The problem of abuse=still awful. My tolerance for Turkish women=very low.

#2 makes me sound very self-righteous, especially since I reactivated that bad boy this afternoon.

I still use smileys like ALL the freakin' time.

I was not specific enough here. Random straight boys are often not all that better, and sometimes WAY creepier.

I seriously regret any rhapsodizing I did about certain music and/or concerts...not that I don't still feel the same way, but my writing skills are apparently not advanced enough and they all came off as though I am fifteen. Which I am not. Ditto for anything about London or Paris.

There, I feel better now. If only I had this option for the adolescent years of my life.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The games we play

Work here can be a little slow sometimes. Other times it's super-busy, but there's always the off-hour or two (or day or two) when not a whole lot is going on. Fortunately the people in the cubicles surrounding me are very creative:

The Spam Emails:
Literally: Spam. So you know when you go into the "Spam" folder in your gmail account? Usually there is a recipe that ranges from icky to totally vile. We like to email these to each other. Some examples:
Spam Vegetable Strudel - Bake 20 minutes or until golden, serve with soy sauce ("is it Chinese or German? Who can tell?")
Spam Confetti Pasta - Spoon SPAM mixture over pasta ("this is SO not kosher")

And my favorites by far...
The Pictionary Emails:
There really are no words to describe this one, but I will try. We didn't have internet for a day and a half last December, which is already a slow month anyway. So our solution was an extended game of Paint pictionary. Some samples (with answers...):

(Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

(Kermit the Frog, performing "It's Not Easy Being Green")

(And the best one: Saved by the Bell, Hawaiian Style)

Never doubt the places a college degree will take you.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Reasons I haven't really been updating at all

1. Gina keeps getting "Alias" dvds from Netflix, and I am a wee bit obsessed.

2. I might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from an incident that involved stabbing my big toe with a salad fork.

3. I had to bake a lot of small cute dessert-like things for a bridal shower over the weekend. And I had to find all my summer tank tops to take to Texas so I don't die of heat stroke.

4. I'm working on my secret plot to take down UPS...they have messed with me for the LAST TIME. I'll show THEM "not a working address."

5. I got this really badass t-shirt that I have been wanting for just about forever, and I'm spending all my free time trying to figure out how to post a picture of it for you all to admire!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Technology is ruining my life

Well, that's not exactly's more like, I am so reliant on technology, that when it's taken away from me, I get really annoyed. Like last night, we encrypted the wireless network in our house, and it now won't let me log on, even though my roommates can. Grrr. And in addition to that, I got my new cell phone in the mail (yay!) but couldn't activate it because my stupid internet wasn't working.

But onto the new cell phone - expect flickr pictures soon, because I have a camera phone! I know I'm like the second to last person in the U.S. to get one, but my love of gadgets is overruled by my cheap nature, and I was not getting a new phone until my cell phone company gave it to me for free with a new contract. I still have really no idea how to load things from the phone to flickr and then from flickr to here, but I think the possibilities of doing so are quite cool. And I'll be working on that.

I wonder what my first picture post will be? Oh the pressure...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On the radio

As I'm listening to the news on the way into work, the announcer is promoting an upcoming show.

"It turns out that people who eat less calories actually live substantially longer."

Snippet from Dr. Expert: "Yes, but the problem is that you're hungry all of the time. So really the result isn't necessarily that you're living longer, but maybe that it just FEELS a lot longer."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A real, less funny, answer

About a year ago, I kept getting all of this German spam in my work email box. The title that intrigued me the most was the one I chose as my subject.

Turns out, it's a real title of an article, published here in Der Spiegel (in English, of course). It's a sad story, and ultimately now related to me, as we just hosted four Turkish women determined to stop honor killings in their country. It is hard for me to fathom how such things could still occur.

Mostly I'm just feeling very fortunate right now.

Promise to return to happy postings soon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

When I was mentally composing this post, I had three things I wanted to talk about. But now I can only remember two. I think this is very indicative of my long travel day yesterday.

Speaking of which, there was this guy on the second leg of my flight. And it was a little windy and bumpy during the flight, especially at take-off and landing times. Poor guy was not taking it well. He started stream-of-consciousness talking to me, the total stranger to his right to whom he had not introduced himself, about all sorts of stuff. Particularly his anti-anxiety medication that he forgot to take. The bumpiness made me feel a bit queasy, so I didn't mind the conversation (if you could call it that, monologue with interjected "oh's" and "rights" from me is really more appropriate) because it took my mind off my own troubles. But let me tell you, it's a good thing I don't have any flying-related phobias, because on the way down he chose to cope by telling me flying horror stories. The one where the plane crashed in Charlotte because of a sudden wind gust when it was taking off (he wasn't on that plane, but lives in Charlotte). The one where the plane had to take off at the foot of a mountain in St. Martin's and was flying up at an 80 degree angle (he was on that plane). The one where the plane hit a huge air pocket over the Pacific Ocean and dropped 1800 feet, sending those not buckled in knocking into the roof (that one too). So understandably he was a little paranoid about flying, but I don't really see how recounting scary plane times helped. If we had a big lurch he would have to pause (while white-knuckling the tray table) to regain his composure. I guess I just find the whole story interesting because I didn't talk at all, he just talked to me, and I can't decide if it's something nice, like I have a sympathetic face, or less nice and I was the body that happened to be next to him.

Also, on an unrelated note, does anyone have any good book recommendations? Now, when I mean good, I do not mean anything written by this or this person, for instance. It is important that we delineate between "entertaining" and "good." The last really good novel I read (that I can remember, anyway) was The Kite Runner. I've also read some good memoirs, Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Bookseller of Kabul, so a memoir would work too. My brain has been feeling a bit like mush lately, and I'm not okay with that. Any thoughts are much appreciated. Gracias, merci, and thanks y'all.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

For your reading pleasure

I'm am SO going out of town this afternoon. I'm beyond excited (not to mention ready) to do so.

Blogging is unlikely, so I will leave you with links to two of perhaps my favorite related posts I have found on the internet.

Mighty Girl and Harry Potter
Defective Yeti and Harry and other

You should also check out this.

And this. (Seriously, this guy is hilarious).

Hope all these keep you satisfied for a bit. Toodles!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I have applied to a lot of random jobs. Some, I would have given my eye-teeth to just be asked back for an in-person interview (I am great in person, over the phone not so much I think). Others were sort of in the "why not" category - I was either over or under-qualified for them, they don't really relate to my skills set, etc. But usually they were related in some way to international development work, which is what I think I want to do when I grow up.

So today I get a call-back for a job I applied for in November (!) and it's with some policy council that deals with agriculture and international trade. Even I can't figure why they want to interview me for this...I have NO experience whatsoever with either agriculture or international trade. The closest I think I have come to agricultural experience is the cows that would graze on our back acre at my parents' old house. That, and the occasional hayride at Halloween. Maybe they think all Texans are farmers. Whatever.

But I'm wondering, why a call-back for THIS position?! There have been some places that look SO great, that I was SO VERY qualified for the position. Now I can't even find the original job description for this one anywhere, so I don't even really know what I'm interviewing for anymore. I'm still going, because primarily I think any interviewing practice is good for me, and also because I know so very little about what I have in fact applied for, that it could very well turn out to be something interesting. As interesting as international agricultural policies can be, anyway.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Come On! Feel the Illinoise!

Okay, so I'm a little mad at all of you. Why didn't anybody tell me that Sufjan Stevens was going to rock my freakin' socks off??!! Seriously people, when I think of the hours I've wasted listening to lesser music, I get a little depressed.

Yet I only need to crank up "Chicago" and hear the opening notes and I am happy again. And then I perhaps set the repeat and listen to it over and over again for a couple of hours.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My first meme-thing...does this make me one of the cool kids?

Four Jobs I’ve Had:
-coffee barista...twice
-summer nanny for 4 kids (which fits in nicely with this theme, no?)
-receptionist in posh British hotel
-substitute teacher

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
-Garden State
-When Harry Met Sally

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch:
-Grey's Anatomy
-Er...I guess Desperate Housewives
-Oprah (but only certain shows)

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation:
-Estes Park
-Monaco/St. Jean Cap Ferrat

Four Favorite Dishes:
(these are the first four that came to mind, not a definitive list!!)
-creme brulee
-fried chicken
-fatteh blahmeh (sounds weird, tastes like Lebanese heaven)
-queso and chips

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
-daily mumps
-hotmail (compulsively...)
-que sera sera (always optimistic for an update)
-Washington Post games (sudoku, anyone?)

Four Places I’d Rather Be:
-napping on the hammock in my parents' screened-in porch
-sunning on a beach (any beach) with a good book
-skiing in Colorado
-drinking a margarita in Austin

Four Others I’d Like to Tag:
(I SO do not know enough bloggers for this...)
-Joi (who could use a break from lawyering)
-E (which, if she does it, I will post in her absence of a blog. But really, start a blog already, E!)
-Sarah (ditto)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Yesterday, also known as "Polygamy Day"

Seriously, I had like four conversations or instances with random people yesterday about polygamy. It began at lunch. Granted, I was at lunch with representatives from five francophone African countries (Niger, Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, and Chad, to be exact) and they asked me about marriage in the U.S. Whether or not we can get married wherever and by whomever we want. The concept of getting married in a garden or on the beach was really weird to them. They also wanted to know if men could be married to more than one woman at a time. Not legally, I said, at least that I know of. Actually (and I didn't say this) most of us find it a bit creepy to tell you the truth.

But then they started talking about the tribal societies in their countries. And how women have very few rights if they are unmarried, and how illegitimate children in their countries have no rights at all, even as adults. So in some ways, because there are other greater issues in the society, polygamous marriage is a bit of quick fix. I still am unclear how this works because it seems to me like there would always be a shortfall of women to go around for all of the men if each guy gets two or three wives.

So then last night I was flipping channels and saw a special on "Inside Polygamy" on A&E. So I thought, why not? And it was exactly what I thought it would be: women with long, bad eighties hair and long dresses, passels of kiddos trailing behind them, all talking about how great their common husband was. I think the whole system is complete crap, and I can't even believe that it still happens. But part of me feels really sorry for them, because even if I haven't personally experienced marriage, I least know that they are being cheated out of something, forced to share their family with other women.

But then, this only seems true when love is a factor. C, who used to work with me and as such was fairly heavily featured in other posts, also lived in Mali, and once told me that if she was in an arranged marriage, she would prefer that the guy also had other wives. That way, at least you would have friends. And you wouldn't have to deal with the husband all the time. The whole thing is a bit weird to think about, if you ask me, yet for some reason it keeps coming up in conversations. So I'm thinking about it. The concept that is, not becoming someone's third wife.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Some Things of Which I Am Inordinately Proud

(in no particular order)

1. I have managed to floss and rinse with Listerine (in addition to brushing) almost every day for about a month now.

2. I intend to delete my facebook account.

3. I parked right next to the elevator in the parking garage this morning, where this other guy who drives a fancy sports car usually parks. Hey, it's not like we have assigned spaces anyway.

4. I can speak three words in Arabic, taught to me by some of the nicest men I have ever met - they were from Syria.

5. I consider myself to have a fairly good grasp on most goings-on in international affairs.

6. I got up before 7:30 this morning.

7. I went to both Target and Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend, and didn't buy anything frivolous.

8. I cooked dinner last night (with lots of leftovers), even though I wasn't really hungry, because I knew that I wouldn't have time to cook tonight or tomorrow night, and didn't want to waste money on eating out.

9. My friend brought me coffee from Jamaica, and I'm giving half of it to my mom for her birthday. Not only am I giving her really fancy coffee (which she will love) but I am ahead on the birthday shopping by more than two weeks!

10. Considering all of the things I always intend to bring to work with me each day, I don't think I forgot anything today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh, ice princesses

Um, Canadian chick? The instrumental version of "Like a Prayer" was a bad choice. Seriously.

To my right, Gina informs me that the number reminds her of her 3rd grade talent show, in which she lip-sanc (lip-synched?) to either "Like a Prayer" or "Cherish" - she can't remember which one. She tells me to at least take into consideration that she was not the only lip-syncher.


Does anyone, when they think of Puccini's gorgeous aria "Nessun Dorma", also think slightly-slutty-hot-pink-outfit? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, me neither.


Unrelated: I still can't distinguish between what's bobsled, luge, skeleton, etc. But two man luge? Looks a little uncomfortable. What is the point? To see how fast you can hurtle down the track with someone on top of you?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snow Weekend

So kids, I've survived the winter storm that hit the east coast this past weekend. Well, I didn't just survive, I did great. Nothing like being snowed in and having no option but to lay around under blankets and watch movies and build a fire. That was a good time.

The only physical activity I did all weekend long was to dig my car out of the snow, because I knew the roads would be open again today and the thing is, if the snow melts a little and then refreezes overnight on your car, then you have to dig your car out of ice chunks instead of fluffy snow. I chose fluffy snow - much easier. It was also my first experience shovelling snow, which I can't say I really enjoyed all that much. It's hard. I'm a little sore today, to tell you the truth. But I feel it's a milestone.

Actually, I really should clarify - I barely shovelled anything at all. The homeowners association to which our landlord pays his dues had everything cleared at 10 am. But I still had like a foot of snow on my car, and once I brushed it all off, there was a big pile of snow all around my car that I had to shovel into the grass, otherwise it would refreeze (as discussed previously) and then my car would be trapped within ice speed bumps of my own creation. Plus our toolish neighbor left Gina a note about shovelling the snow from around her car - she had encroached a whole half-an-inch into his spot, and god forbid that a speck of snow should be near his Jetta. So I also shovelled to allay the wrath of the toolish Jetta owner (doesn't it just make you shiver in your galoshes?).

My apologies for the non-sensical nature of the above. I'm still sleepy from too much lazing around this weekend. And s'mores. Too many s'mores.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Breaking News: I still don't like Bob Costas*

Say it with me, Bob:

"La Bomba" = Alberto Tomba
"La Bamba" = Richie Valens

Very good.

*For the Olympic commentary anyway. I've been told he's good at network sports.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

While trying to avoid the "State of the Union"

They made a Home Alone 4?!

Bulletproof Monk? Seriously, that's a movie?

Bastards pre-empted "Scrubs."

Ah, "South Park" it is.

[happy sigh].

Monday, January 30, 2006

So wrong, yet so right

Earlier today at work, my cell phone rang. It was a "202" number (DC area code) but I didn't recognize it. Thinking perhaps it would be an annoying question from an interpreter that didn't understand the concept of calling my office phone during office hours, I let it go to voice mail.

A few minutes later, I checked my voice mail box. The message was from a woman who had apparently gotten my number from a mutual friend. She said that I had left her a message about job possibilities a few months ago, but that the message was hard to understand and she wasn't able to get more information about me until now. Also, she said she never received my resume by email.

Okay, now I have sort of applied around to change jobs, but have never called someone. Ever. I don't have any contacts to call, really. So I decided to call this nice woman back and let her know she has the wrong Rachel. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Hi, this is Rachel. I received your message, but honestly I have no idea what this is about."
Her: "I am SO sorry - I got your number from Jane* but she must have given me the information for the wrong Rachel."
Me: "Oh, it's no problem. It was such a strange thing - but I have been sending out resumes, so I thought maybe it was for me. Out of curiosity, where do you work?"
Her: "At [insert name of really great development organization I totally want to work for here]."
Me: "Um,, I would actually also like to do international development work, so would it be totally out of line for me to send you my resume as well?"
Her: "Sure, why not. It's been a few months anyway, so this new Rachel may already have another job."

FINALLY the Rachel mix-ups have happened in my favor. And I totally submitted my resume for someone else's job possibility. A little sketchy, I think, but if I get the job, it may be the just about the best story ever.

*Not actually her name. Don't really know anyone named Jane, so seemed a safe bet.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Movie love

Voilà, ma petite Amélie, vous vous n'avez pas les os en verre. Vous pouvez vous cogner à la vie. Si vous laissez passer cette chance, alors avec le temps, c'est votre cœur qui va devenir aussi sec et cassant que mon squelette. Alors, allez-y...*

After much of my raving of what a great movie it was, Gina rented Amélie and we watched it last night. I'm not sure that she loved it with all of the crazy enthusiasm that I love it, but I think it's a little hard when you have to read the whole movie. Which is why there are no Japanese films in my top ten list (well, the language thing, and there are other reasons too...).

At the moment, the above line is my favorite, although there are some others that are also genius and may soon win out new favorite status. Just writing it above doesn't do it justice - you need to hear the crouched old man with his slow, gravelly French voice saying it for the full effect.

I was wondering why I like it so much. Maybe because part of me identifies with Amélie - dreaming is often easier than doing. But then the moral of the story is, without doing, you don't get Nino. And I also have a big ol' movie crush on Mathieu Kassovitz, so, you know, lesson learned.

*My attempt at a translation: Look, my little Amelie, you don't have bones of glass. You can take life's knocks. If you let this chance pass by, with time your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So then, go...!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Does THIS make me an adult?

So I may have found a new threshold in my search for what makes one a grown-up:

I, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in my life, owe money to the IRS. That's right, OWE. No refund. Dammit.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Some fashion pointers

Following a night at the Kennedy Center:

-It is never acceptable to wear pantyhose and open-toed shoes. Ever. It's difficult for me to believe that some people still didn't get this memo, but there were a lot of people in sandals and hose. Not okay. At all.

-I still don't really believe that it's okay to wear white after Labor Day or before Easter. However, there are apparently some women (Yankees...) who want to stretch this fashion "don't." I'm okay with that. I am not, however, okay with stark white pumps. I mean, really. So unattractive.

-If your suit is made of some odd fabric, say velour or animal print or suede, it's not really a suit. Just so you know.

Further proof that DC is still the ugly step-sister of the fashion world, I suppose.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ode to Old Movies I Used to Love*

I'm a little bit tired today. This may or may not be due to the fact that I stayed up past midnight watching "The Parent Trap" on the Hallmark channel. I didn't even have plans to watch any TV last night, but when channel scrolling I hit the Hayley Mills classic, and lo and behold, spent the night eating some chocolate that Gina gave me for Christmas and enjoying the nostalgia.

I used to love Disney movies like that. I really hadn't thought about them in ages, but watching the old school version of "The Parent Trap" got me to thinking about others I must have seen at least twenty times each in my childhood. Some favorites, in no particular order:

Swiss Family Robinson:
What girl wouldn't want to race a zebra or live in the coolest treehouse EVER?

Pete's Dragon:
Not only is there a cool cartoon dragon that doesn't really talk but is quite funny, it also has Helen Reddy singing "I'll Be Your Candle on the Water." Aww.

Babes in Toyland:
It's unclear to me how this movie and the many very different story versions are related to each other, but it's still fun.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People:
First learned what a banshee was from this movie. About scared the pee out of me when I was six. I'm sure it's not scary at all though. Now, anyway. It also apparently starred Sean Connery. Who knew?

Maybe I just really wanted to be Hayley Mills. I thought the cake at the fair looked SO tasty. Yum. The whole falling out of the tree was quite tragic, and in un-typical Disney fashion, it's not particularly well resolved at the end.

I think I'm going to hit the video store this weekend, and spend the rainy cold weather on the couch and finish my chocolate. Oh, and don't even get me started on the classic cartoons!

**A la Misty.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Advice: To give or not to give?

Last night I was catching up with a friend who was recently married. I got all of the dish on the wedding, the planning, the parties, etc. In the course of conversation, she mentioned that she had had a bit of a tiff with a friend of hers from college. Apparently this friend had questioned the fact that she was getting married. My friend (let's call her K, to avoid confusion) didn't think that the friend brought it up very nicely and felt a bit attacked. In the friend's defense, the wedding was planned in a rush and the couple have only known each other since June or so, but K (quite obviously) and many other people see the reasoning behind the quick planning (and no, it isn't a baby...). Not to mention he is a really great guy and they are super-cute together.

But this whole conversation got me to thinking: is it possible to offer similar advice or opinions and have them well-received? Eb and I have definitely had this worry: if one of us was pretty serious about a guy that the other saw some fairly red-flag sort of issues with him, would the other one accept those opinions gracefully or would she get and stay mad? I have already had one friend get married to a guy I was less than excited about, but I only hinted at it, because I absolutely knew that she was going to marry him anyway, whether or not my worries were well-founded. I think most of the time we choose to keep our opinions to ourselves because we know our friends will pick the boy over us. And yet if we're right (even just up to point) and we let our friend marry a man that will make her life so much harder than it needs to be, or a man that won't love her like he should, or a man that is clearly not able to take care of himself much less another person (or people!), are we liable to some degree? I know that it will ultimately be the friend's decision, but still...

So here's my question: does anyone know of an actual situation in which someone was deadly serious about a not-so-good guy and then her friends told her their worries and she actually listened? Because I sure don't know of one, but deep down I really want to believe that it could happen. And I also want to believe that, should the circumstance arise, I would listen too.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Give 'Em Hell

My favorite quote from the game:

"Vince Young out to look for some real estate around here, because he OWNS this field."

Damn straight.

The eyes of Texas are upon you...

Yay Longhorns!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Why early flights should be illegal

Scene: Approximately 6:00 am this morning, at a baggage security checkpoint in the DFW Airport.

Random TSA guy: Miss, do you have in firearms in your bag?

Me: [Blink. Blink. Blank stare.]

Random TSA guy: Uh, miss? It's not you, I have to ask everyone that...

Me: Um, what was the question? Oh...right. Yes.

Random TSA guy: Yes?!

Me: Yes. I don't have any guns.

Lucky for me I look about 12 years old with no makeup and the hair in a ponytail, otherwise I probably would've been cuffed and face down on the tile floor. Sigh.