july, 2003

Thu Jul 3 15:37:47 EDT 2003

It seems again that I'm back on a working schedule ... just like last summer, if I sleep in too late, I get regular nightmares. But this summer, they start at 8 AM instead of 9. Sleeping past what I wanted to both this morning and last (I love my flexible work hours), I had the strangest dreams.

That's going to be a problem if I can't snap out of it on the weekends. Work hard, play hard, seems to be the maxim of the summer, perhaps longer -- as long as I can sustain it, if I have my way. Last weekend, I-Ju decided that on her last at work, she wanted us all to go contra-dancing with her. So nine of us or so -- six StreamSagers, one SO, and two random friends, Chad and Russell -- trooped out to Glen Echo, where thousands upon thousands of SWILlies (well, okay, maybe only about a hundred -- and they certainly can't have all gone to Swat!) were contradancing up a storm. I ended up following the two new guys to Staccato, where a band someone knew the drummer of was playing, and then on to Chief Ike's, a rotating group of the full range of twentysomethings, and a token thirty- or two. Danced all night, and I got to sleep, post-Trader-Joe's-popsicle, at dawn.

The next night, after Peter and Taeny (Tae-Eun) babbled in Korean over bibim bap in Virginia, I was dragged out again -- work hard, play hard. Sitting at an outside bar in Adams Morgan, we ran into a Borrebach I wasn't expecting -- twin of Jack (music major of '02), this brother (Nate) is in IT consulting in DC.

And again last night, soaking wet from the pouring rain but dried by the Malian music tent on the Mall, Eat First Chinese restaurant off 7th, and a Scottish (Irish?) put in Woodley Park, talking about John Travolta and genre crossover on the viola, Chad and Jenny et al. and I had to convince ourselves not to continue on to a club, or else I never would have gotten up.

It's amazing how easy it is to meet new people, and the amount of things that are going on here. DC is growing on me fast. The only thing I might regret is not having time to unpack those cardboard boxes scattered around my apartment ...

Sun Jul 6 21:27:17 EDT 2003

I'm so bored I can see my reflections in my fingernails.

I polished them -- and, as is more regular with respect to my painted appendages, my toenails -- red, in quasi-festivity for the 4th this weekend. Felt much less festive when the monkey fascists checking bags (!) at the entrances to the Mall confiscated our picnic's chardonnay and pinot noir. Bastards! They didn't even drink it themselves; said they'd pour it down the drain. Reminded me how much I am capable of hating this country.

Eight of us ended up downtown, camped out eating fresh pesto and peaches (damn; shoulda put the wine in our unchecked Nalgenes), waiting for the half-hour show of explosions behind the Washington monument. Cute, but nothing I've seen before or since tops Madison's Rhythm & Booms. But you gotta go out, so we did, and with (mostly unmitigated) pleasure, even despite the throngs of fireworks-goers cramming the streets for a mile radius afterwards.

Polished my nails again when the first coat started chipping as a result of quiche-making, dough-rolling, peach-cooking, and general overinvolved lunching that newly-Starbucked barista Emilie and her friend and I accomplished Saturday afternoon. Fresh zucchini and scallions seasoning my newly-blackened wok; peaches with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon simmering in my new all-clad saucepan. How I love cookware! I've been coveting a crêpe pan; thinking fondly of crêpes au marron and oeuf et fromage on the streets of Paris this past April. It's probably a good thing my current kitchen doesn't have enough cupboard space, or I would quickly fill it with all-clad and Le Creuset.

My nails rerouged, but bored as I waited all afternoon for the deadbolt to be installed, I put a clear coat on. Now they're reflective, long, red talons. Certainly no good for then viola, but I need a reason to bring that out of its box ... need to start plumbing the music network down here.

I want to go out, but it's a weeknight, and I don't want to eat anything more or drink any more coffee or tea. I've been reading all day. I need to find and join a gym -- software programming != conducive to callipygousness and general well-being -- but in the meantime my nails are flaming red.

(Now I just need walls to match.)

Fri Jul 11 17:04:51 EDT 2003

It would be nice to get up, go somewhere, ogle foreign newspapers and chocolates, and buy a cup of coffee from the proprietor, with whom you're on a first-name basis. Stroll back through sweltering heat, around the two corners to the air-conditioned building. But I create these coffee breaks, when not at Avril 50 and working for the LDC and making my own biscotti, then in the Delafield House, making curry for lunch, and mochas (soy when we run out of 2%) in the afternoon when the lines of (the uncaffeinated kind of) Java start to wave before my face, recreating the somnolent state of last night when I dreamed in objects, calling methods to interact with my world. Seth has taken to making fun of what he calls an addiction; I don't know how he can pull these kinds of workdays without a little legal stimulant in the afternoon.

Maybe I need more exercise. No thanks to Peter, Abby just fixed up Sasha's bike for me, so all I need is a lower pole for the seat so I can actually pedal the thing (and to pay Sasha for it, of course). And a place to put it in my building. But once accomplished (this weekend?), I've been holding it up as the panacea to my sedentary lifestyle woes. A little exercise, and all will be well ...

I intend to work out at the Mullan Center when I'm up at Swat tomorrow. (Hitching a ride up, in that last-minute, small-world kind of way, from a friend of Feng's, a rising junior Swattie, who's also from Madison -- he recognized my cell phone area code.) Somehow, I doubt that'll happen, with the party chez GR tonight, and the loading, driving, and unloading of my second 14-foot U-Haul of the summer (this time Joanne's), all before early afternoon. I have high hopes, but we'll see how dehydrated I am when I wake up ... maybe all I'll need will be a little water, and some coffee.

Wed Jul 16 23:16:00 EDT 2003

I somehow just managed to use three teacups, one teapot, a mug, a teabag holder, and two spoons in the preparation and consumption of a mug of chai and a pot of green. How do I do this? Must be some natural talent for mess-making ... yesterday I ended up with bike grease all over my pink pants and hands, and chocolate coating just about every available surface in the Delafield House. Used every pan I saw, and somehow a strainer, a destroyed plastic bag, and a sheet of 8.5 x 11 in the making of Joanne's birthday cake; did a fair amount of bike hefting and noodling in the process of bringing my new bike (thanks, Sasha!) to the True Value Hardware Bike Shop on P St NW (where I was not repeatedly mocked, unlike at City Bikes!), getting a new seat post sawed down to size, and then affixing a u-bolt holder, and muscling the whole thing up to the rack in the entry-way. Which I suppose will be a regular occurrence, now that I'm planning on biking to work every day! Rode home this afternoon, and felt good about it -- but south from Delafield is downhill, so I might not feel so on top of my game on the morning leg for a few weeks!

But that's what this bike thing is about -- busting this geek ass of mine into shape.

Home- and self-improvement goals continue along the lines of painting my room orange like Mansir's (I need color!); getting a monitor so I can actually use this DSL connection I'm now paying for; contemplating signing up for pottery classes so I can make my own teacups, teapots, mugs (so I can use even more in the brewing of one cup), flowerpots, &c.; this African dance class Joanne and I are going to check out in the NE tomorrow ... and of course exploring DC bar by bar, restaurant by restaurant, club by club, and Swattie by Swattie.

(Oh, and I need a futon frame now ... thanks to the recent humidity, my floor, it turns out, is not 100% dry. Ew.)

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep my caffeine to a reasonable intake -- two cups of black per day; an afternoon coffee/mocha; all the green I want. That plus the liters of water I've been quaffing daily (to counteract the Java?) ought to just about cancel out -- keep me both awake, and hydrated enough to pedal my merry-but-probably-out-of-shape way through my new city.

Tue Jul 22 10:52:57 EDT 2003

I like waking up, or seeming as if I have, in a house with warm wood floors, taking a cold shower, and drying (orange towel; unmistakable) in the growing morning heat. Of course, I (actually) woke up in my own half-orange room (painting in progress), on and under yellow sheets, so cold from the sleep-lovely 73F I'd kept my apartment at all night that I wrapped up in my soft green bathrobe and fell back asleep.

The bike ride up the three hills to work, once sufficiently hydrated and motivated, takes less work every day (which is not to say that I don't still need to get off and walk halfway up the the 13th St. hill before Euclid), and is a great way to pull myself out of my bathrobe and sheets and into the summer morning. Not that the mornings outside are inherently pleasant in DC or anything -- cars not always aware of where they're going; exhaust; shifting into the right gear and then not feeling guilty when I'm more than three speeds from the top ...

But the post-ride morning at Delafield, in Joanne's room, feels very (appropriately) Banana-House-y. Perhaps for my next residence (which I should not be thinking about yet, only beginning to paint this one!), I need a group house, bigger, with real wood floors, a large kitchen, no AC, blue tiles ...

I've tuned into a random classical music station from North Carolina, WCPE's ogg stream, and have been switching between trying to identify Borodin's 2nd (which I must have played in 10th grade) and the current cello concerto befuddling me in a lovely confused alto-line memory (so familiar! I've played it, too, though I have no idea when or where ... ah, Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1), and a few tracks of Sylvain Chauveau, who I'm going to see tonight, off his website. Off the same label as Múm and Sigur Rós, and citing influences of Arvo Pärt and Phillip Glass, I'm excited. I've been needing more new music of late -- remembering driving around the highways of backwoods Bavaria, listening to trance, watching spinning stars from the passenger's seat ...

I fall into ruts with food. Usually they're good ruts, which is why I keep them, but sometimes I need innovation. At Delafield, innovation is often forced -- I'm happy eating a veggie burger with pesto, swiss, and a ciabatta roll, until the pesto goes, and the swiss runs out, and the rolls are gone. A 2-hour pilgrimage to the closest Einstein's on Friday solved the last problem, but the rest has forced the introduction of miso, and Saint André that hides in the back of the fridge, that most have likely forgotten about, and Lebanese hummus that Elsa brought from Arlington for a fabulous, if accidental, invention.

What made me think of this is that Chris just came upstairs eating a granola bar ... something I haven't had the space for in my habitual round of breakfast (recently, the bagel-and-cream-cheese shtick; last week, Mansir's proffered organic, whole-oat oatmeal with soy milk for sugar and raisins); tea plus something sandwichy lunch; coffee and maybe something else 'round 4. Yesterday the main deviation was the french cheese (so reminiscent of cafés in downtown Paris, and wine!), and in the hot pre-twilight with a New York Times on a main-floor futon, a few spoonfuls of organic blueberry sorbet. Wow.

I think what I'm trying to accomplish is a similar vibe from last summer. Maybe it's the AC, too cool in my apartment to keep things from vibing; maybe it's the DC, new city and the realization that college is really over, and this summer isn't punctuation but a new sentence or even paragraph ... even though Philly last summer was new in terms of full-time living, I'd spent all of college in or around that city. This one is still establishing a vibe.

Sat Jul 26 24:59:22 EDT 2003

Quiet Saturday night, as these weeks go -- Jean-Michel flanking my philodendron and marigolds; pu-erh perhaps too black for the late hour but providing the postprandial, blackberry-on-your-soft-palate digestif I've been craving and finding these past two months: in the blackberry black tea from Alana's sampler; in what must be Mansir's organic blueberry sorbet; in this Chinese oil-dissolving liquid brew. Marshmallow Room of late -- almost a glut of New Medium Softpack has refreshened my ears for his original.

Gulping post-rock off a friend's newly-migrated server; buying what I don't have. (And who says digital music hasn't increased sales?) Godspeed; Yes; Genesis; the clips of Sylvain Chauveau -- who I have yet to hear, as both Norm and I got the week wrong last Tuesday when we went to see the French musician at the Warehouse, and ended up in Jaleo over drinks, flan, and the most ceramically satisfying espresso I've had yet in the District.

Oranger by the day, with today's Coat Two of Mandarin Song on my bedroom walls completing the effective conveyance of an aesthetic Nimmersatt, the energy of one who bikes to work and runs in the afternoons; whose blood-tea-content, in beers, would not allow safe operation of a teapot, let alone a vehicle; who just might go crazy in this colorless, long-white-curtained living room. (Colorful, the literal might contend -- but with both digits times all three hex colors up at F, you can't see the teal (00CCFF) separated from the orange (FF6600).) I woke up (too early!) at 8:30 to the ululating tritone of the buzzer, the repairmen in to put an aerator in the intestines of the recently backflowing sink-and-dishwasher organism. The early awakening, in combination with Jaime's party last night, provided me with an opportunity to test the brightness threshold of the walls -- just as wasabi in soy sauce is best right before it makes me cry, so must my room's color be only barely tolerable when I wake up hung over.

Rothko goes on the walls just as soon as I find the mounting squares. Orange and Yellow.

The second orange addition to my domicile makes omelets, neutrally spelling themselves with the French diminutive and also with a six-letter roundness. My long-awaited Le Creuset flame omelet(te) pan arrived, playing host to my first ever eponymous attempt on Wednesday evening. Fritz guided me through the basics, as I only have Julia Child's Volume 2 (though the first has inspired me to attempt brioches!). Used tonight for a pilau out of the Vegetarian Epicure, the cast iron is seasoning beautifully.

Got my hands back on The Goldbug Variations, in my fiction appetite's voracious but random trajectory. Abandoned a year (or two?) ago out of lack of interest, I can't now think how the prose alone didn't wrap me up last time. Such a command of English! -- even though a recent "detritus" and "absconded" from my lips produced audible ignorance and appreciation from their respective audiences, I feel often as if my vocabulary stalled in late high school or early college; I am not as fluent in my mother tongue as I would like to be. So I do this book justice, and read it slowly. I pulled it out (well, more like, laboriously extracted it) drunk and tired last night, switching from the red to the green line at Gallery Place, and realized through the gin and shiraz that I wasn't sober enough to perceive Powers' lexical labyrinths with due respect.

Empty mug; empty head. To the orange room and yellow sheets.

Wed Jul 30 10:00:45 EDT 2003

I've never, in all my years of wonder, stopped to consider how brioche or electronic music are made. The former, I've been learning since Sunday -- dissolving yeast and sugar as Joanne called with an extra ticket to see a band whose mandolinist was a friend of Abby's, and who was crashing chez Delafield that night. I left the starter metastasizing while Blue Merle played its hour-long set, somewhere between folk and bluegrass and rock but most neatly analogous to Dave Matthews, and then pulled out the earplugs (like Chad, I now carry a pair) when the "blandest band in America" (--Rolling Stone) headliner Train came on, and then escaping soon after. Finished the dough that night, kneading twelve tablespoons of butter into three eggs and flour, and leaving the delicious mass of sticky dough to rise.

I considered kneading and setting out for the deuxième pointage before I left Monday morning, but rolled out of bed too sleepy and too late to justify it. The dough rose the entire day while I ate lunch with the bassist teaching himself guitar ("I avoid the [tuned-in-thirds] B string at all costs"), cooked two shitloads of food with Sibley for the masses, and stuck around until almost 10. All of them great guys; remembered my name. The fiddler's eyes doubled on hearing I played viola -- "do you have it here?" I promised to bring it in the morning.

Home, I turned the brioche dough out for its second rising, and -- inspired -- chopped off four fingernails on my left hand and two on my right, and picked up my old Bach. My roommate was amazed; I was appalled -- but so it goes when you don't play for three months. And the notes and sound felt good.

Yesterday I bussed in with the red behemoth, not trusting the instrument to my biking abilities. Patrick immediately gravitated to the C string, feeling for only the second time the resonances of one more fifth of bass, and praising the Lee ('97 Chicago; best deal I ever got). A pleasure to see his immediate adaptation to my big fiddle. Between that and Evelyne's conversation over wonderful experimental cookies which Elsa and I made and coffee that afternoon, the easy knowledge of the Suites and the French-accented swoon over Brahms, I am re-inspired to pick my single-piece-backed baby up again, and let the scales ring until the Bach can.

And not twelve hours after the Blue Merleians had hugged me goodbye, I was in the tiny Warehouse space watching a tall unspeaking French man saw at his guitar with a violin bow; switch from electric to a detached board with knobs, steering with his pedals and making full and brilliant use of the delay Norm was explaining to me. I sat fascinated for the 55-minute-long unstopping flow of sound, feeling at times Górecki and at times Sigur Rós, and amazed at how the sound was being produced. Though I've heard so much of it, I've never wondered how it's done ... almost no sounds came realtime -- a strum over four strings would be followed by knob-frobbing, and seconds later a chord would emanate over the delays he'd pedaled down. I was captivated.

Went home kicking myself for not telling him how wonderful it was, and shaped the twice-risen dough into brioches. This morning, still dreaming of a continuous flow of music and wrapped warm in my bathrobe, I watched the double-headed pastry bake into hot buttery pastry. Ate two on the spot, breaking them open and watching the fluffy dough steam; wished for café au lait bowls and Claire's espresso machine.

all this ©nori heikkinen, July 2003

<-- June || today || August -->

back to front