Staying Awake

I thought seriously about boycotting Starbucks until I realized that I still had money on my gift cards. I reasoned that my coffee had already been purchased, and if the boycott persisted beyond that, I wouldn’t spend my own money there.philadelphia_sbux Thanks to social media wisdom, though, I realized something important. There are thousands of black baristas, and this one shop in Philly was the problem, not Starbucks as a whole. If that sounds callous and racist, I am very sorry. But the truth is that I live in a neighborhood with lots of black people. Some are African-American. Others are immigrants, mostly from Cameroon, Nigeria, and Eritrea. Boycotting my local store might lead to cutting down on employees as they get less busy, and I am not about to contribute to it.

The plain truth is that this is not a Starbucks problem. It is the top-down system of oppression that has been in power for hundreds of years. For instance, why didn’t the police officers just laugh in the barista’s face? Why, after explaining the situation, were the men still cuffed?

There is blame to be had all the way around, and when the police were called, they had absolutely no reason to follow through. What about the barista’s story made any damn sense except the police being as racist as the barista? I don’t even have a jacket as nice as the one the man on the left is wearing, and I guarantee you I’ve looked worse in a hoodie and jeans stumbling into a coffee shop than the man on the right. This is not to say that every black person who walks into a Starbucks must be dressed a certain way. I am only making the observation that if the barista and the police were looking for people making trouble, these men weren’t it.

Memorize their faces. Memorize the man on the left looking down with his hands in his pockets. Memorize the man on the right making a pained face as if this is not the first time this bullshit has happened to him. I can’t think of any situation that makes me feel more helpless and angry…. but I have to think it through. I have to think about all the ways I, as a white woman, can use the platform I’ve been given, both here and out in the world. I am generally not assertive when things happen to me personally (like truly repulsive comments regarding watching lesbians by men, for instance), but it’s a whole other thing when my mother lion gets engaged.

I am one of those hopeful people who’s been crushed by the amount of racism in my area, because DC is overwhelmingly black (a little under 50% of the population). I mistakenly thought things like that couldn’t happen here, or at least, more rarely than they actually do. I’ve cut way down on the optimism lately, anxiety rising like bile in the back of my throat.

I am no expert on race relations in DC, but it seems as if racially mixed neighborhoods have existed forever, even before gentrification…. keeping in mind that this is not every neighborhood’s case, but more often than in, say, the rest of the South. Technically, DC and Maryland are still the South because they’re under the Mason-Dixon line, but God help you if you mention it. No one around here wants to be compared with Alabama. We’d like to think we’re more progressive than that. Racial makeup of the neighborhood ceases to matter when you’re just trying to find a place you can afford.

In some ways, we are that progressive. In others, we’re not any better; we’d like to think of ourselves as liberal and inclusive, sweeping the incidents where we’re not way, way, way under the rug. If it doesn’t fit with the image we have of ourselves, it didn’t happen, definitely not a two-way street. White people just can’t be afraid of black people in the same way. I will never be afraid that a black person is going to call the police on me for anything…. ever.

Moreover, people of color absolutely cannot be racist, because racism, again, is a top-down entrenched system of oppression. They can, however, be prejudiced, stereotyping white people because they have to. They don’t know ahead of time if a friend or foe is approaching. Prejudice exists for a reason, and for people of color, it is self-preservation…. a fear that, as white people, we are absolutely responsible for creating.

For the most part, though, when we’re all on the Metro together, the racism and prejudice is left at the station. For instance, once I was waiting for the Orange Line back to Metro Center from Landover, and one of the WMATA employees came up to me and asked me if he could give me a hug, because I had a Black Lives Matter button pinned to my jacket. We just stood there and held each other, healing energy running between both of us.

While I have trouble believing that racism will be solved in my lifetime, I definitely hope.  Interestingly enough, I think Marvel has taken it upon itself to help. Movies like Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War, and television shows like Luke Cage are challenging the status quo, because they portray black people in a way that few pieces of media do. Marvel can’t be responsible for solving every racial issue, but movies and TV shows that are popular can’t hurt. For instance, nothing did more to help the queer community be seen as regular people than Will & Grace, with Six Feet Under a close second. Progress is still slow, but it’s faster than it used to be with the help of visibility.

The difference is that I only have to be afraid for my life when I’m walking hand in hand with another woman. Alone, people can only guess that I’m a minority. There is no covering up every inch of your skin. However, I do empathize because I, too, look over my shoulder for unenlightened white people. We are definitely not in the same boat, but I often believe we’re in the same part of the ocean.

As I sip my coffee, I wonder if this entire essay is going to make me look like a basic bitch. I want my thoughts to go toward some good…. perhaps make some people think. I know it reaches me. I could spend an entire afternoon brainstorming about all the ways society needs to change and what I might be able to do in bringing it forward. The most concrete way I know for myself is challenging all the microaggressions I think I don’t have. Being white is just a series of privileges that run so far under your skin you don’t even realize you’re broadcasting it.

The one good thing I can say for myself right this moment is that I can say I have black friends without lip service. I have people to teach me when I’m being a jackass without any awareness. I am lucky that my friends are willing to attribute my flaws to idiocy and not malice, because I guarantee that in terms of staying woke, I need to pay more attention when I become “sleepy.” I am lucky to have friends that have no problem calling me out on the carpet about it, even when it’s hard…. because sometimes you want to fix the whole world, and are at a complete loss as to what would help.

Although I know that at least my infinitely small part of the world will change, as long as I’m paying attention.

Coffee helps in keeping my mind busy and my eyes open. However, I cannot stay awake forever. That’s where you come in, batting relief.

[_])

Refill?

Folgers

Today has not been the best (so far, it’s only 11:30 AM). I generally get a cold at the beginning of spring, because my allergy medication just can’t keep up (gross out warning) and snot just runs continuously down the back of my throat until it’s raw and scratchy. I haven’t lost my voice, but when I woke up this morning, I did have that sexy Debra Winger rasp going on.

It’s gone now, after a really long, hot shower and something warm to drink- hence the title. I normally wouldn’t be caught dead drinking Folger’s Classic Roast,™ but I ran to 7-Eleven for essentials and it’s what they had. Seriously. That’s it. I’ve never been to a store in my life that only carried one type of coffee, and it just happened to be the Budweiser™ equivalent. However, desperation made me buy it, anyway. I haven’t had coffee in a couple of days, and like most of the population, I’m so addicted to it that withdrawal is a thing. Hey, it’s my only vice. At least give me this one.

To my surprise, when I made the coffee the way I like it (one level scoop per cup), it was more than drinkable. Probably the reason I thought I hated it was the way churches tend to make it……. not calling anyone out on the carpet, but I have had my fair share of shitty brown water that they called “coffee.” To be fair, it’s hard to know the ratio for a 40-50 cup urn.

IMG_0037As I am singing the praises of this blessed event (coffee is divinity), the playlist in my headphones is called Stranger Than Fiction on Spotify. It’s all the soundtracks from Argo, Slumdog Millionaire, all the Bourne movies, and The Kite Runner. It’s killer, if I do say so myself…. and it’s public if you want to check it out. Even though I put it on shuffle, I always start with The Bourne Identity‘s main theme. The English Horn solo just blows me away…. probably the only iconic English Horn solo on record for those who aren’t classical music nerds (like me). As for the Bourne series, my favorite is Supremacy, and the only thing I really liked about Jason Bourne was the soundtrack and the picture my dad took of me with the movie poster.

For instance, I was sitting in the theater doubled over in that silent laugh where you’re just shaking violently with snot and tears running down your face, because someone is hacking a computer for information on a black op, and transfers the files from a folder called Black Ops. Because of course all intel agencies hide the documents regarding black ops in a folder called BLACK OPS.

And of course, that led me to think about what I would have named that folder. Probably something like birthday_party_pictures or cat_photos. At the very least, something that someone wouldn’t click on immediately after logging into my computer. HELLO!

Of course, as a computer nerd, it’s probably something only I and my IT peeps would pick up, because it’s supposed to be exposition for the audience. That didn’t not make it hilarious.

It was especially fun to go to the International Spy Museum and to see Jason Bourne with my dad all in the same trip. I don’t know if it was a special exhibit or in their permanent collection, but there was a fantastic James Bond adventure.

Most of the intel agencies around here now have entertainment departments (CIA was the last to get on board), so recent movies like Salt and Atomic Blonde, as well as TV shows like Homeland and The Looming Tower have real-life advisers that make the shows fictional-yet-believable. According to a book I read on the subject, the lives of spies are blown way out of proportion, sometimes to make the movie better and sometimes to divert the public’s attention from the way The Agency really works. For instance, it’s not as interesting to watch a movie about espionage if all that happens is a huge amount of paperwork. Also, no intel agency is ever going to publish in any form the way they operate, because lives depend on it….. publishing it all for us is publishing it all for “them,” whomever they are.

…which invariably leads me to my white hot hatred of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. Disagree with me all you want, but I’m not going to change my mind. Not only did they put American lives in danger, but all the friendlies we’d managed to turn in other countries as well. People seem to forget that they’re called “confidential informants” for a reason…. mostly because they could be executed by their own governments. I haven’t read every single document that was leaked, because first of all, I don’t want to. I’d prefer to stay frosty and let the professionals handle it. I couldn’t spy my way out of a paper bag. Second of all, I am sure that it wasn’t just American covers blown, but Mossad, MI-6, etc. and I don’t want to read about it because it will just feed the anger I already have. I have enough anger in my life. I don’t need to add anything on top of it.

That being said, the Julian Assange biopic, The Fifth Estate, is very good. Even the title is clever- moving us forward from newspapers to the Internet. I don’t know how much of it is real, but I liked it, anyway. The biopic about Edward Snowden (called Snowden, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role), however, kept me up for three days, because I would be frightened to learn that even a third of it is real. Don’t watch it at night. Hold someone’s hand. It will creep you the fuck out. I’m serious. Take my advice or don’t- at your own peril (safety not guaranteed, no refunds, you break it you buy it, etc.).

As you can tell, I’m a fan of intel movies, mostly because now it generally involves computers and hacking (BLACK OPS folder…… hahahahahahaha). I am not clever enough in that arena to figure it all out (and don’t want to), but fictionalized versions are awesome. In my daily life, I am just a regular geek who loves Linux, but would crap my pants if asked to write any sort of program. In terms of the logic behind the languages, I’m barely a step above “Hello, World.” It is not my calling to learn to hack, crack, or program…. but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a good piece of media about it.

The only intel show that I have problems with is Homeland. I watch it anyway, because it’s a good story and I like all the actors (particularly Mandy Patinkin). But I just get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach every time Carrie Mathison goes to her “crazy place.” I realize that she’s Bipolar I and I’m Bipolar II, so basically nothing she does is something I would do. But there’s a part of me that knows her portrayal of that kind of crazy is dead on, and to me, it is not comforting in the slightest that I understand. I feel like I get her in only the way another bipolar person would, and in those moments, watching truly sucks. It’s like a train wreck- I can’t look away. I’m too invested in knowing what happens now.

Leaving out the part that nearly everything Carrie does would, in real life, have landed her in federal prison (or a dark site) long ago.

But it’s just a TV show. Suspension of disbelief and all that.

Am I crazy, or is this Folgers really working for me?

Yes.

Black Coffee with Splenda

Because yesterday’s post got so many likes, I feel that talking about depression, anxiety, and ADHD are fairly universal. So, I want to speak to a little more to connect with “my tribe” (I accidentally typed “trible” before tribe,  reminding me of one of the only Star Trek references I actually get. I’m the only nerd I know who’s maybe seen three episodes….. and The Trouble with Tribbles is one of them.).

It is amazing how much I will give up out of anxiety. For instance, I need to go to the grocery store in the worst way, because I’m out of milk and coffee creamer. I haven’t because I couldn’t people. I like sweet black coffee, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still. If I’d been a little more brave, I’d have fat in my coffee right now. I need it, because when I’m this down, I won’t eat. I don’t have a block on drinking, so I try to add calories to my day in coffee or Instant Breakfast. I think it’s because I feel out of control, so not eating is the one thing in which I do have domain. It’s not an eating disorder, I don’t think, because I’m mindful of the fact that I still need intake. It’s just the delivery method with which I have issues. Sometimes I will order pizza as not to leave the house. I’m making it to all my appointments and such. It’s the voluntary socialization that goes by the wayside, unless Dan calls or Pri Diddy is in town. They are the two people I will let see me even when I feel the worst.

It’s funny that Pri and I have been friends since, like, 2002 over the Internet, and met in person when she and her friend Nina came to Portland years later. I thought moving to DC would be a way for us both to be a part of each other’s daily lives, and not long after, she left. I don’t begrudge her wanderlust, though, because she’s gotten to see some amazing places and is now relatively parked in Rome. So, part of the reason that I will drop everything for her is that we have friend intimacy (into me see- Harville Hendrix), and part of it is that we don’t see each other that often and I have to make time with her where I can get it.

With Dan, she helped me get through my mother’s death by sharing her own experiences. Therefore, I will drop everything to support her, because she supported me first. I actually met her online as well, but after a few days of writing back and forth, we met up at Ted’s Bulletin and it’s been on like Donkey Kong  ever since.

So, to Pri and Dan, thanks for being the two people I can stand all the time.

As a depressed introvert INFJ, my personality type dictates that I will only have one or two close friends at a time. It is very true. I would much rather have an inner circle than a ton of acquaintances. Small talk drives me up the wall, so I don’t hate people. Rather, I hate people in groups (I accidentally sent a voice dictated e-mail to a friend saying I hit people in groups and had to apologize for my phone not understanding my accent. I think the last time I was proficient at typing on a phone, it was the Palm Treo.).

Having bipolar depression is a little different, because when I’m on a hypohigh, or Diet High as I’ve coined, impulse control goes out the window. The only time this has really bitten me in the ass is not realizing I was flirting with straight girls too hard and didn’t mean to offend them, but I absolutely did. The memory is so cringeworthy I wish I could delete it.

Other cringeworthy hypohigh moments include off the charts rage, and couldn’t help transference to someone who didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at life. She just happened to “walk by,” and I stepped in it up to my ass. I pissed off the one person in my life that would destroy me if I couldn’t talk to her anymore, and then it did.

Yes, it was Argo. Yes, that ship sailed (I see what I did there). Even though Argo is actually named after the ship, I can’t even watch the movie without feeling pain, a damn shame because it used to be my favorite (it’s like talking to those two old fucks from The Muppets). I forgot in those moments that this was the same person about which I wrote I sleep deeply in the belly of the ship, for I know my passage is safe and one of the reasons I spill so much to you is that I feel like I go into my God space. I can’t know that God is listening, but I know you are. Those are my true feelings about her, but “being high” turned me into a loose cannon jackass, and I said some truly hurtful things for which I will never be able to apologize enough to make things right.

When cortisol is racing through my brain, I sometimes feel as if I leave my body and lose sight of important things, like some words not being able to be forgiven. “Sticks and stones” is a crock of shit. Sometimes, I’m not fighting with the person in front of me, they’re just the unlucky target and the person who deserves it isn’t even in the room. I had that realization from one of the comments on my marriage post, because it cut into my heart with Truth.™ Reflecting years later, it has only carried more weight.

I let my “dark passenger” rule me because I couldn’t stop long enough to realize what was happening. In the years since, I have learned how to control brain race with cognitive behavioral therapy so that I don’t “go there” with anyone else. Changed behavior is probably the best apology I’ll ever be able to offer.

CBT helps remind me that I am kind, lovable, and easygoing. Rage is just my illness talking, and not who I really am. For the record, though, over the top rage comes with a long fuse. I will sit there and think for a long time before I explode, just a Mento™ suddenly dropping into a Diet Coke™ because I’ve been stuffing so many emotions down. So, CBT says let’s not do that.

When you know better, you do better…. or at least, that is what is supposed to happen.

On my very best days, I feel six feet tall and bulletproof. On my worst, I have to take Klonopin just to make a phone call.

It’s all about balance.

Catching Up

Dear Mom,

You would love the snow that’s falling right now. I can just hear your voice on the phone telling me to make ice cream out of it…. but I don’t think it would taste that good because I’m out of dairy milk and vanilla. I’ve never had soy snow ice cream. I will possibly give it a whirl and see how it goes. Maybe Hayat has some vanilla I could borrow.

You’ve never had soy milk? Really? It’s delicious in coffee and on cereal…. brings out the nutty flavors in each. My favorite is chocolate soy milk and Cinnamon Life.™ No, Mom. Really. It’s good. I’d make you try it the next time I come to your house if you weren’t  so corporeally challenged.

Just like you, I am perpetually cold. I am wearing special long underwear from Uniqlo called HeatTech. The company is Japanese, but for some reason there’s a big banner on the front page that says, “From Finland with Love.” If I thought there was going to be more cold weather, I would buy that shit mañana (I can’t tell if it’s hilarious or terrible that you’re not going to tell me to watch my language). I am also wearing the American Giant™ rugby jacket that Dad got me for my birthday…. only it’s not called a “rugby jacket.” It’s called a Moto. Picture a double-weight hoodie without the hood and you’ve got it. Despite both of these things, I’m still shivering, but it’s not the clothes’ fault. I am my mother’s daughter.

It would help if I could get moving. I love the cold when I’m dressed for it, and I’ve linked up the stuff I’m wearing for my readers because even though this is Old Man Winter’s last ditch effort, the next freeze will be here soon enough…. and I am definitely warm enough outside. It’s not really the cold. It’s that I’m not moving…. just sitting here typing, like the lovable geek I’ve always been.

Going for a long walk to help me sweat would improve my situation dramatically. However, it is actively snowing and I hate it when the precip gathers on my glasses and renders me more blind than usual. The timing of everything is off. Did I get glasses before or after you died? I think it was before, but time is just so malleable that I’ve forgotten. Wait. No, it was before. So you did get to see my cute little frames. I just wish I could remember what you said about them, because new glasses would not have passed without comment.

Now, I have a collection of them. Glasses are the new earrings. I even have some that make me look like a writer, so even when it feels like I’m just faking it, I still look the part. All I need now is a tweed blazer with elbow patches…. you know, for the jacket picture on the novel I’ve been working on for years and sometimes think will never be finished. At least the grey in my hair is coming in. It seems as if all authors have the same picture- jacket, glasses, grey at the temples.

I have discovered that I am, in fact, terrible at fiction. There are plot holes all over the place that you’d see coming a mile away because I don’t know anyone who’s read more books than you. It makes me hope for you that heaven is a big library, even though God knows you’ve already read at least half of them.

I’m starting that process, the one where I read just damn everything I can get my hands on, regardless of storyline. It doesn’t matter. Romance, science fiction, biography, autobiography. Not only am I enjoying myself, I’m working my way up from volunteer to paid reviewer at a book club web site. I keep thinking about how much you would have loved the recommendations on what to read next…. some of them have been quite good. In every case, the novels have been solid stories, but what would have driven both of us up the wall is poor editing. It’s always a shame when the content is so good and you can’t really concentrate on it because your mind is running a thousand miles a minute thinking “no comma there,” “comma needed here,” and “what the hell does that sentence even say?” With those reviews, I am not generous with stars, but I make sure to tell my audience that the content is good. I sometimes feel like a teacher reading a child’s work, because in my reviews, I have to report the number of errors I find…. but only up to 10. With some of the books, I could go on for pages.

It was a good move on your part to become a music teacher. If you’d chosen English, I don’t think you would have had any hair left by retirement.

Speaking of which, how is it that you were a music teacher your entire career and I still can’t read bass clef?

I forgive you.

Love,

Leslie

 

 

 

When the Weather Report is Wrong

The Capital Weather Gang wrote a long article about how they thought snow was over for the season. I have never been happier that they were wrong. Living in a sub-tropical climate for all those years renders snow magical for me…. especially when it is big, fluffy, ski-worthy weather without ice and sleet. Of course, it could turn into that later on, but for now, the goal of the day is to take my laptop downstairs to the picture window in front of the porch and just think. I finally figured out how to start the clock running on my book review, therefore, I have more time than I thought I did to get it done.

I am finished with the basics, but not the editing. So far, it’s turning out to be interesting, even though the book was not something I’d have chosen on my own. I can’t tell you much, only that I chose it because it covers a subject in which I know nothing, and I love Knowing Stuff.™ There’s enough character development so that it’s not all about the sport at hand, but should I want to engage in such sport later on, I’ve found myself a solid foundation. The web site I’m working with has been around for years, which is how I know it’s the real deal, and not just a way to get authors to submit their work for free…. I also found a web site for freelance authors, but I don’t think I’ll sign up for that one. It’s because I think that the ads for work should be paid for by the employers, and this one is $100/month. It says that satisfaction is guaranteed as long as you can prove you’ve actually done the work, but there are better ways to go about freelance writing than having to pay money in the hope you’ll get something. Besides, this is not a job so much as a side hustle.

I’ve applied for jobs in several restaurants because I’ve noticed that I do not have time to write if I am tethered to my phone and laptop with IT. Now, I would not turn down a job in IT should it come along, but there is something to be said regarding being done with a shift and going home to write, rather than having your phone ding at all hours of the night with clients expecting a 30 minute service license agreement. The hard part is finding a job in a restaurant that will cover all my bills in the meantime. It’s a good thing I put in an application at both Starbucks and Costco, because both pay well and offer benefits. With my fanatical devotion to good coffee, it also doesn’t suck that I’m also gifted a bag a week. I also don’t want to go a minute longer without a Starbucks baseball cap. I had a friend in college that worked there for three weeks just to get the hat and the apron and then quit, because he was a Linux server administrator. I will not be doing that, but it was funny at the time.

For those who are wondering why I would rather work at SBUX than an independently owned shop, it has to do with health insurance and not much else. I also learned that once you’re in the system, you can take a vacation to anywhere and pick up shifts wherever there are stores. This was a piece of advice given to me while I was waiting in line at Dupont Circle, from a barista that “took off a month” and went to the original store in Pike’s Market (Seattle, of course).

The biggest problem I have is in getting around the city, because it would be a godsend to work in Silver Spring or downtown DC. If I got a job in the tech corridor or Annapolis/Baltimore, it would take me over two hours every morning to get to work with what would be a 20-40 minute drive. Of course it would be more than that with traffic, but with computer jobs, there are generally programs for both working at home and off-hours so that traffic would be a non-issue. Fingers crossed. This is because everything on the server is keyed by changes in file time and tied to user account. I could work anywhere in the world, but I am reticent to leave the 32-inch monitor on my desk…. although I did once see a guy drag a 22-inch iMac to Starbucks.

Believe it or don’t, there are even terminal programs for iPads and Android tablets, which, to me means my laptop just lost six pounds. Full-size Bluetooth keyboards have made my backpack lighter and my muscles hurt less. Plus, the weight of my backpack with my laptop and all the things I need in order to keep from going back to the house bothers my corkscrew scoliosis so that one part of my spine is absolutely scraped to bits. I even had Hayat (landlady) cover the rip in Neosporin and a thick bandage, to no avail.

I talked to my old friend Meag, an RMT in Ottawa about it, and sent her a picture. She told me she couldn’t wait to get her hands on me, but nine hours is an excruciating trip without a car…. and would make the trip prohibitively expensive whether I was flying or taking an Uber. If I was going to go to a clinic that specialized in both massage therapy and chiropractic medicne, she’s the only one I’d want to see. In Canada, the requirements for getting licensed are much steeper than in the United States, and she is one of the people on the legislative board who approves others. I have been told that eventually I will need surgery, but not for another 15-20 years or so. Until then, I just have to nurse my pain. Making my bag as light as possible is as good as it gets- for the moment, anyway.

It was nice being able to stash my bag in my car while it lasted, but here’s the thing about that. Like most people, I do not like to exercise. Walking and taking the bus/train is the only workout I get, because I don’t even notice I’m doing it. If the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, the destination is being mentally healthy. Medication and a great diet help, but there is nothing greater than natural endorphins that adds fuel to the fire. Silver Spring Station is only two miles from my house, and when the weather is nice, I’ll generally walk at least one direction, possibly both. Though I don’t often walk fast enough for true cardio, the landscape is hilly enough to add incline. Plus, the bus schedule for the main road back to my neighborhood runs every ten minutes, in those moments where I just cannot even, I have someone to bail me out (Hiiiiiii, George!) It is absolutely amazing how much walking overclocks my processor, though I wish I could add memory….. and then I think to myself, God will provide the RAM.

But seriously, folks, I do my best writing while mobile. My head space is just so positive, and God help me if I don’t have my phone. I used to carry a notebook, but if I write things down, I have to retype everything when I get home. I now use Google Keep, but my favorite words in the English language used to be, Siri… open Notepad. This seems like a no-brainer, but I have to use my phone rather than my tablet (if you have 3G on yours, that’s fine, too) so that the notes sync immediately. I am a nerd that needs my information on all my devices instead of just the one I have to hunt down- because of course I’ve dropped it somewhere in my house and the battery has died.

Still using my old iPhone while I search for my Android. I am operating system agnostic, so the only reason I really want to find my Android is that I am missing the tons of extra space I have on it due to the fact that expansion slots are par for the course. Apple just makes extra space prohibitively expensive. Yes, Apple devices are designed well, but so are Android. And for less than half the price of a new iPhone, I can get an Android with 128 GB of space. It’s especially useful now that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will let you download movies and TV directly to your device. But, if you want to pay $1,000 for a phone that you’ll fill up in two weeks, who am I to stop you?

The amount I know about IT is somewhere between organ grinder and monkey.

Well, that’s not true. At least I, most of the time, remember to buy my own bananas.

Unexpected Pleasures

Last night, my sister and I ended up at Chaplin’s, another ramen house closer to her DC hotel. The restaurant we originally planned for that I couldn’t think of yesterday is called Toki Underground, but is closed on Sundays. I recommend that if you come to town, try them both. As I said yesterday, you can’t go wrong with the tsukemen style ramen at Toki Underground, and at Chaplin’s, it’s the miso that is so over-the-top delicious that there isn’t even a word for it. Lindsay also had a matcha pina colada that was delicious, but after one sip, I was convinced it would kick my ass. I had a bit of house sake and ice water instead. Even the basic house sake was top shelf- smooth.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and I asked Lindsay if I could make a cup of coffee in her Keurig. She said “sure, but I’m about to go to bed.” I said, “well, I still have to make it home.” She invited me to stay. In less than a second, I was in bed with the covers pulled up to my chin. “Staycation” might as well be my middle name. In fact, I was taking a marketing survey the other day and it said to describe your dream vacation. I told them I wanted to go to Washington, DC. Even though it’s my own city, it never gets old. I am a perpetual tourist, albeit one that knows all the local customs. I have often said, and I mean it, that I could see one incredible thing every day of my life and by the time I died, I still wouldn’t have seen it all. And let me tell you, even if you’ve traveled to and from DC a hundred times, the view of the monuments from the air never gets old, either. I tear up every time on the approach at night.

This morning, it was announced on local news that the Obamas were having their portraits revealed at the National Portrait Gallery. I nearly threw on my clothes and ran, but didn’t for two reasons. The most important was that I didn’t have my psych meds on me, and withdrawal from them is getting the shakes, a massive headache, chills, sweating, and crying because of all the other symptoms. So I really didn’t have any choice but to come home. I also knew that because the Obamas were going to be there, if the event was open to the public the line would be an entire neighborhood’s worth of people and if I wanted to get in, I should have left last night with a tent and my Kindle. I will, however, turn up eventually. The NPG is probably my favorite so far of the Smithsonians I’ve visited, because they have everything from Lincoln-era photos to modern art. In fact, the portrait of Bill Clinton looks like it’s made up of multi-colored hamburgers and hot dogs (you have to get close to see the shapes). How’s that for knowing the president’s personality? 😛

Yes, I know Clinton is now a vegan. But that does not mean that there aren’t incredible vegan versions of all types of junk food. I know, I’ve tried them. There is nothing in the world I love more than healthier versions of “bar food.” Two words, people. Daiya. Nachos.

Back to you, Bob. Let’s go to the phones.

My “staycation” also included watching the Olympics on TV. A Canadian whose name I cannot remember (comment, would ya?) stole my heart both with her technique and skating to my mother’s absolute favorite piece of music, Rhapsody in Blue. Quick flashback- when my mother and I both sang in the same church choir, we always ended with a devotional by a different member. She had come to see Alejandro Vela play it at HSPVA, and her talk was about watching his technique and seeing how a particular figure was done, and it being a light bulb moment for her.

The last unexpected pleasure was coming home and having to deal with Amazon customer service. A book that I’d ordered for a baby shower on the 24th (the twins, who I now know are boys [!!!!]) hadn’t arrived yet, and when I told them that, they not only sent me a replacement, but I told them I needed it by the 24th and they threw in same-day shipping for free. They did all of this through web chat, which was spectacular. I didn’t have to go wait in line, and I didn’t have to wait to talk to anyone. Being put on hold is a special kind of hell, but through chat, the response was immediate. Five stars, highly recommend.

I’ll tell you which book I chose after the shower is over as not to spoil the surprise. I will tell you, though, that it was one of my favorite books when I was a toddler, and it’s not a book that is popular today, so I know it’s a likely possibility that it will be a unique gift.

Hopefully an unexpected pleasure for the babies and parents alike.

The Snowman Cometh (with Apologies to Eugene O’Neill)

I know it’s hard to tell with a still picture, but it’s really coming down out there… and forecasted to continue. We may actually get some accumulation. I am excited about this, because there is nothing I love more than newfallen snow (when I’m dressed for it). Walking around in the pristine white brings me so much joy. I only hate snow after it’s been on the ground for a few days and ranges from grey to black with tire tracks and dripping oil. Although, if I had to choose, I believe the dogs love it more than me… which reminds me of an old Sam story………….20171209_110711

My roommate, Samantha, has parents where one is Methodist and one is Druze, but does not claim any religion for herself. So, a couple of years ago when the snow was very deep, Sam shouted at her dog, “come on, Daisy. Time to part it like Jesus.” I started laughing so hard that tears came to my eyes and said, “ummm, that was Moses.” She just laughed and said, “whatever.” Of course, this is the same person that when, years ago, I got a “Share a Coke with Mark” bottle and joked that all I needed now were Matthew, Luke, and John, has been calling me Mark ever since. In fact, I think that since then she’s forgotten my actual name. I dig it. Fits in with the theme….. Auna calls me “Hipster Jesus.” Being nicknamed after a Gospel writer doesn’t seem like much of a demotion. After all, he was a writer. 😛

I am caught between two ideas right now. One is that I am still in my jammies- cute ones, so that I at least look marginally dressed- and I have two shows to catch up on. The first is Doc Martin, and the second is The Crown. I was going to start with The Crown, but Doc Martin is just so damn funny, and I could use some funny in my life.

The other idea is that there’s just so much to do and see in the snow, and I have the clothes to be very, very, very warm while I’m out. I could go to downtown Silver Spring and ice skate, or I could go to Zoo Lights, or I could just walk around my neighborhood and see who’s already on the ball with the Christmas decorations. The one drawback to this is that it is actively snowing, and when snow gets on my glasses, I can’t see anything, anyway. You would think that an umbrella would help. Not so much. Snow generally blows sideways. Before I make my decision, I will check and see if Zoo Lights is a recurring thing, or if it is only today. The best time to do all this stuff is after the snow has stopped, there’s a satisfying crunch under your feet, and the weather is cold & clear…. perhaps not clear, because it’s usually overcast even when it’s not snowing, but you get my drift (see what I did there?). I am waiting with baited breath to see what happens this winter, because sometimes we get a few inches a couple of times, and sometimes the heavens open up and dump everything they’ve got. Winter before last, it was over a foot and a half deep. Everyone had a different name for it:

  • Snowpocalypse Now
  • Snowtorious B.I.G.
  • Thanks, Snowbama
  • Enforced Captivity
  • Working Without Pants -or- Working Under the Covers (IT doesn’t DO snow days.)

If we do get The Big One,™ I will work out more than I have all year, because it’s more strenuous to lift your knees that high while walking…. because you can either walk on the unplowed sidewalks, or take your chances on the street. I choose knee/ass deep snow rather than getting hit by a driver who thinks they have this snow driving thing down (they don’t). Everyone thinks they’re a friggin’ expert until they spin out, because thinking you’re an expert generally leads to driving way too fast for the condition at hand…. and I have yet to see anyone chain up on a back road. My general rule is “go around me, moron.” I’ll either see them further down the road fishtailed into a snowdrift or being told by the police that maybe they should control their speed. Of course you can get a speeding ticket while going the speed limit when snow is blowing sideways…. or worse, the snow has melted and it’s still cold AF, so there’s black ice everywhere.

The safest way to get around in all this mess is public transportation, because generally, if you’re going to be in an accident, the city bus is going to “win….” and a good bit of the Metro is inside, which is even safer. Plus, with everyone wanting to run their own heaters in their own cars on their way at every possible opportunity, parking is even harder than normal.

Speaking of driving, though, I had a funny Uber moment yesterday. The Uber driver always checks to make sure he/she has the right destination, and I told him I was going to the mall. He said, “in DC? With all the monuments?” I laughed and said, “no… I’m not going to The Mall, I’m going to a mall.” I was in an Uber pool, and the teens in the back laughed and said, “No! In Silver Spring!” I bought all my clothes, got my bag of coffee (finally) and managed to get out of Whole Foods for less than $50. Beat that with a stick.

I even remembered to get more eggnog….. because I’m in my jammies.

Cute ones.