november, 2003

Wed Nov 5 16:48:09 EST 2003

On the porch with a crossword (Wednesday, so I can only get about a thrid done in the 20 minutes of the wrist-break I took) during twilight. There's a réverbère I never noticed outside Delafield, illuminating the yellow ginko leaves that are carpeting the street, cars, and and any passers-by moving at a slow enough pace. I've been moaning about the lack of seasons, the leaves not turning colors -- but this, in a strange way, almost makes up for it. (Not, mind you, that I'd ever take this subtropical weather and greenery over a scarf and a hot caffeinated drink!)

As I biked up this morning -- almost 4 miles instead of the usual almost 3, coming from the physical therapist and then a drop-in chez Ritz & Claire -- the entire street was yellow, strewn with ginko. I watched, half incredulous, as a breeze blew down a cloud of butterfly-shaped leaves. They coat the cars like bright goldenrod moths.

And all this in the mid-seventies, me back in my DriFit biking shorts and tank top instead of the full-length running tights I just bought for marathon training in November, working up a pleasent sweat all the way up the gradual incline of the 16th Street hill. I'm so pleased with myself athletically these days -- the PT says my foot injury was likely just a tendon, so I can run again; I'm actually developing visible abdominal muscles; people are responding very positively to my plea to contribute towards my fundraising efforts for the AIDS marathon!

Jaime and I were out in similar weather for Saturday-afternoon brunch, again at La Fourchette on 18th Street. So far, I'd only known them for their superb execution of eggs florentine -- in a oval ramekin, smothered in swiss cheese; this time I took a leap and discovered the heavenly eggs béarnaise. (It only hit me hours later that that's what the Americans call berr-NAYSE, and I'd probably looked ridiculous in ordering it in a French accent.) What WordNet calls "hollandaise-like sauce made with white wine and tarragon and shallots instead of lemon juice" came on either side of a huge artichoke heart, the poached eggs sprikled with fresh tarragon. Jaime laughed at me as I moaned over the fantastic concoction.

Really, this is why I love being out of Swarthmore: weekend brunches. Sitting at an outdoor table in borrowed sunglasses and a huge white off-the-shoulder top, the rice to my nori (sushi costume of the weekend) of the night before now doubling as fashionable brunch-wear; fresh-washed hair; a hangover dissipating with cappucino and direct sunlight; baguette mopping up the middle of the poached eggs; and my newest love: béarnaise sauce.

Not that while that technically would have been been feasible while I was in school, the (a) lack of cute outdoor French cafés lining Magill walk, and (b) the omnipresent, looming cloud of guilt made it hard not only to fully relax, but also to find brunchmates.

And afterwards, lying in the park in a tank top, reading the entirety of the manageably-small Saturday Times, soaking up sunlight. And all this on a gorgeous, high-seventies, NOVEMBER weekend! I'm not sure I approve. I'm torn between this fantastic weather and a very intense craving for full-out fall, tank tops be damned.

(Now, it looks like I have no choice -- rain for the forseeable future, and back to temperatures I can sleep in without being woken up twice during the night by the heat.)

Mon Nov 17 15:41:15 EST 2003

Sitting in what can't quite be called a cubicle ... more like a semitrapezoidicle? Hemisemitrapezoidicle, as it has two sides open? staring out one of two windows, which, pointing north and west and overlooking alleyways and other buildings, don't afford much light or scenery, only reflections of the bright blue sky. But the pretty offices are for the business guys -- the one that looks out over 16th Street, green leaves still hanging onto a tree or two. A travel mug -- not even mine; it's ugly green plastic -- of mediocre drip-coffee in front of me. Needs sugar. Contemplating already improvising a sugar bowl with which to decorate the new desk, along with much-needed pictures and such. Must bring mug -- perhaps to reinstate the belovèd travel mug of my junior spring and interim summer at the LDC?

The company is spreading out slowly, moving into its new space. I've re-headed a couple ethernet cables this morning, teaching Abby as I did Shachi last week how to string the wires into white/orange - orange - white/green - blue - white/blue - green - white/brown - brown and thereby a functional cat5. I learned how to do this myself not six months ago, and now have added "ethernet cabler" to my jack-of-all-trades job description around here.

I'm going to miss Delafield, I think. The big yellow room; the kitchen right downstairs; the paper every day. Friday, all moving furniture -- the four early twentysomething developers rolling up our sleeves (I changed back into my biking top) and breaking out Sibley's power tools, carrying tables and chairs up- and downstairs. But already, how nice to be downtown! The offices, no farther from our house than Dupont Circle is! Perhaps incentive to start getting in earlier. Lunch with Claire today, a sandwich joint around the corner from her Ritz, only two blocks from me. Ate on the grass on Farragut Square, sans jackets -- the seventy-odd weather totally incongruous in mid-November, but nonetheless welcome, I grudgingly suppose. And everybody around me! So many lunches to be taken. Errands to be easily run -- this afternoon to Border's for David Copperfield: at a daunting 809 pages, the next on the Swat alumni's bookclub list -- and me still not having finished Emma, discussed last night!

Things to do, as ever. Wildly full calendar (that Jaime procured for me, so I can stop double-booking myself). Things proceed apace.

Tue Nov 25 12:52:07 EST 2003

My jeans -- the ones I got around this time last year, the day after Thanksgiving 2002, walking around State Street with my dad, sister, Delia, and the Munyons (sans Chuck, away at med school in Philly), stopping into the Gap (grarg, how I hate, in my kneejerk nonconformity (-ism, almost; it's more of a philosophy than a state of being) that I shop there from time to time! despite their good jeans) to have Dad buy me a second pair of the plain old, boot-cut, size 8, and -- most importantly -- button-fly jeans that I'd come to love since stumbling across a pair while looking for sunglasses the previous summer -- my belovèd jeans, as this Joycean sentence winds to a close, have finally ripped.

It was about time, really. I wore them literally every day from when I got them until the following January or February, taking them off only to sleep and to wash them. There have been a few days since when I've been seen in a skirt or lighter-weight pants, but only a handful. So it stands to reason that they should become first threadbare, and then rip across the ass while I was wiring the entire office, crawling around with ethernet clampers stuck in both back pockets. It makes sense that they ripped. But it introduces a whole new calamity, when, upon return to the neighborhood Gap, it appears they no longer have my precious button-flys!

Commence quest. There are some things worth questing for in a determined, empirical, hardcore manner (unlike boys, as this personal-of-the-day thing on that Anna, POD woman, induced me to post, has taught me). A good apartment, for one. A job you enjoy, for two. A fantastic pair of jeans, for three. I have the former two, and, until last week, had the third. Now I'm down to my backup pair of jeans -- technically, the exact same kind as the favorite pair, but they're Just Not As Good.

The pair I just got -- Gap also, same size, slightly different cut -- I'm still ambivalent about. But, like a haircut, there's no way to decide until you've lived with them for a week or more. The only questionable point could be the length, but that could be cut. And they're not button-fly. Sigh.

I've been spending money in this way recently -- not only on replacement jeans, but a Canadian down vest to match Joanne's (so I don't freeze in not only this DC balm that has suddenly dropped down to around zero Celsius, but also in Grinnell on Thursday), an orange desk for my computer, and a huge, fantastic, five-by-five blackish bookshelf that has completely transformed our little living room. With that purchase, now I feel like an adult. No way am I moving anywhere for as long as I can get away with it -- I dread the thought of trying to schlepp the thing.

And, semi-ironically, I'm trying to avoid putting down roots. Perhaps not as conscientiously as Claire, who would like to be able to pack everything into the back of her little two-door, and drive across the Atlantic to Italy, but enough so that if- and whenever the grad school bug, the Europe bug, or even the travel bug bites me, I'll be able to do it with minimal expense. And it's just not happening. Between my fabulous bed, and now this bookcase, and the other bits and pieces I'm accumulating into a household, I won't be able to go anywhere without a U-Haul.

My ideal, of course, is my mother's house -- or at least, if not the brown carpet (I prefer hardwood) or the linoleum kitchen floor (I want tile), it's my template. I want wall-to-wall bookcases built in; I want books in mediaeval Spanish and upside-down titles overflowing, most of which I've read. If I want all this, I can't be too mobile.

... but damn, is that bookcase hot. Claire and I put it together last night, threw around some furniture and lamps, loaded it up with books and teakettles (the closest we have -- or would want -- to the tchotchkes that typically line these things) and then sat around admiring our living room. Mom, you need to come see my apartment sometime. You'd approve.

Sat Nov 29 14:07:29 EST 2003

There's no caffeine in Iowa.

Well, that's not quite fair -- I found a bag of Earl Grey in Wendy's cupboard -- but certainly no coffee. There's decaf, which I figured out halfway through my first cup -- such a tease! I've gotten to the point where I prefer it with pumpkin and pecan pies, though, so I had a second of the coquettish ersatz with dessert on Thursday.

Coming home (by which I umbrella the entire Midwest, where the sour cream for the sweet potato cheesecake is almost Swiss in freshness, and where they therefore have no right to use non-dairy creamer in the airport café!) this time, I feel more the recent bifurcation of my Wisconsin upbringing and my East-coast education, and now lifestyle. I felt it less acutely (if at all) in college. Maybe it's a factor of now having the means to have a lifestyle, as opposed to the ivory Bubble in which we lived for the past four years. Near enough to Philly to feel an attachment to -- even identification with -- the city, yet isolated enough in our books (/ computers / violas) to not get caught up in the gestalt.

And now, in DC (which is, granted, more image-conscious than anywhere in Pennsylvania ever will be), look at me -- new jeans; the clone of Joanne's Canadian vest; bright pink designer tennis shoes -- and more keenly aware of the difference from the people around me.

(I should note that this excepts, of course, those near and dear to me. Eight members of two families haven't congregated in Grinnell in a good eight -- or even nine? -- years, and it was a pleasure to revisit a familiar house from a different perspective. The Moscato d'Andrea (sweet, but not thick; almost spicy) was well met with; Chuck & I made short work of the leggy Mas de Aveylans after the extension of my ed(die)ifcation, with Glorious.)

Even the cold is colder than I remember. I complain about this East-coast manifestation of global warming, and loudly aver that I'll move to Chicago some day, just for the Real Weather -- but shit, I'm getting soft out here!

all this ©nori heikkinen, November 2003

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