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On the road again


I didn’t sleep well. I knew I wanted to leave the house at 4:00 a.m. and my mind waited at the edge of dreams. When the cellphone alarm went off at 3:45, I felt as though I’d just climbed into bed.

I dressed quickly and tiptoed down the carpeted stairs. I shoved the balled up nightclothes into a duffle bag and looked over at my mom as she flipped over on the couch.

“Are you sure you want to leave this early?” she asked, her voice full of sleep.

“I want to beat traffic. I don’t want to be driving all day like last time,” I said and ducked into the dark bathroom to brush my teeth.

I heard someone on the stairs, heavy and slow steps. My dad. Inexplicably I felt my throat tighten and said a silent prayer that I would not start crying.

I thought ahead to the route I’d take and planned when I’d stop to fill the gas tank and grab a tall coffee.  Anything to  avoid thoughts of my leaving them all here.

I hugged my dad. Thanked him for the presents he’d given me. Promised to drive slow.

My mom followed me outside. She stood quietly as I maneuvered the last two bags into the trunk. The stars winked from the night sky. I’d forgotten how many there are.  I noticed Orion and Cassiopeia.

Finally, I took a shaky breath and gave her a big hug. She shoved $30 into my pocket.

“For gas or for food or in case of an emergency,”  she said. I felt bad because I knew she needed the money more than I did. But I also knew there was no arguing with her.

“I love you mom.”

“Drive safe. Call me at 9 and let me know where you are,” she said.

She watched from the driveway as I got into the driver’s seat and gave a small nod when I pulled on the seat belt. The headlights shone on her, bundled in a white quilted coat and my brother’s ratty sneakers. I waved as I pulled away, and from the rearview mirror watched her finally turn towards the house after I pulled out of their main street.

I’m still not sure why I felt so sad when I left this morning. I haven’t felt a teary farewell in years, but today I cried til I sped onto the interstate. And then something else set in and I braced myself for the ride home.


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Happy Spring


It’s hard to believe it’s already spring.

Of course, the weather isn’t cooperating with Mother Nature’s sense of time. It feels more like January than end of March. What happened to the gorgeous 75 degree weather we were loving two weeks ago?

One of my best friends has been moaning and groaning this last month about how bored she is… about how the days and nights are so monotonous… about how nothing interesting happens anymore.

And while my feelings aren’t as extreme as hers, I have noticed that I’ve carved out a seven block area to live my life, rarely venturing outside those borders. Not on purpose mind you, but because that’s just the way my days and nights have worked out.

So, we’re going to rediscover DC.

There are tons of free lectures scheduled every night at the various museums in town, not to mention the fabulous Embassy events, and political fundraisers, and charity benefits, and readings at bookstores and the Library of Congress, and musical performances, and live theater.

I’ve taken my fine city for granted in the latter half of the decade I’ve lived in DC. I know its museums and parks and monuments are there, whenever I choose to seek them out. Living in Dupont Circle, in a vibrant and dynamic neighborhood, I’ve fallen into a routine … rarely venturing out to Capitol Hill or the waterfront or the Brookland neighborhoods.

I’m also known to patronize certain establishments… ie. bars and restaurants where I know the bartenders and/or owners. It’s easier to walk into a place where everyone knows your name — so to speak. And where your friends are sure they’ll find you, and you them.

The Washington Post and Washingtonian and Washington Citypaper are constantly reviewing the fabulous new restaurants opening all over the city. I’ve actually written some of them down, thinking “I’ve got to go there,” only to find out a year or so later that I missed my opportunity because the Brazilian restaurant closed to be replaced by a Thai place.

So to make a long story a little shorter, I think my online identity crisis has passed. I’ll be sharing my adventures into these once familiar places. Taking photos, offering opinions on lectures or performances or on the architecture…. in other words, a mishmash.

Sorry for being absent lately. I just had a few things I needed to work out…. a spring cleaning of sorts.

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Back-ups for your back-ups


A good friend of mine emailed this morning. Her Palm Pilot died and she lost all of her address book information. She hadn’t synced with her desktop or laptop in months, so nothing was backed-up.

That happened to me last year. And from that moment on, I swore I’d keep a paper version of an address book as back-up.

So I hit reply and proceeded to list my contact information… ALL of my contact information.

Let’s see… there’s:

    1. my home phone (I subscribe to basic service on a landline in the event that my cellphones should die or I can’t get online and absolutely positively need to contact someone) and
    2. my personal cellphone number and
    3. my personal email address and
    4. my business cellphone number and
    5. my business email address and
    6. my business website and
    7. my remote office telephone number and
    8. my email address via a client’s server and
    9. my home address and
    10. my parent’s home address (in case I move since I rent and do not own the apartment I currently live in — the idea being that my folks will never move so she’ll always be able to reach me through them).

Phew… that’s how to reach me.

Which got me thinking… on a daily basis I check three voicemail boxes and upwards of five email accounts for messages. And I’m really not all that “plugged in.”

I don’t have a Friendster or MySpace account like some of my techier pals.  I no longer have a PDA or a Sidekick or godforsaken Blackberry.

And since my cameraphone died on me in November, I now use this cheapo Samsung phone that doesn’t support the web. So I pretty much stopped text messaging and IM-ing last year.

I actually remember the days — long gone — when all I needed was my social security number, the five digits to my home phone number, a street address and 5-digit zipcode. Of course, back then, our phones were rotary dial and I had a 13-inch black and white tv in my room.

Hurray for progress and the prophecized paperless society.

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Fuzzy Math

fuzzy math


I have a love hate relationship with numbers.

There are some digits I welcome with open arms — like the balance of my checking and savings accounts, phone numbers, and 5:30 on a business day.

Though in general, I’ve always felt a more powerful leaning toward letters, words, language. Some mathematicians argue that theirs is the purest form of communication. I would have to disagree.

While “numbers don’t lie” and “1+1=2” in any language, I have to wonder about the President’s latest request for $120 billion.

Two nights ago he spoke of cutting the budget in half by 2009. Today he’s asking Congress for more cash because the Pentagon is spending quicker than anticipated.

Where is the money coming from? Medicaid? Welfare? Child support? Student aid?

In order to pay for something he aches for, his wars, he is willing to sacrifice domestic social programs — most of which work to ensure the well-being of young Americans.

While the headlines scream that the savings rate hasn’t been this low since the Great Depression, the president is the perfect role model, spending more than he’s budgeted for.

I mean, what’s good enough for George W. is good enough for me, right?

Where’s that IKEA catalog? Let’s see… I need three Billy Bookcases, a new couch, a comfy reading chair, hell …. why not throw in a new dinette set too. I was going to wait a few months to make my purchases in cash, but the president has inspired me to buy on credit.

Actually, forget IKEA. I may as well shop at Restoration Hardware and make those interest payments worth my while. Then again, I could just forget about money altogether and just go bananas at Stickley.

What’s that? I’m not thinking big enough?

You’re right. I think I’ll move. I’ll move into one of those gorgeous penthouse loft apartments with three-bedrooms, five-baths and a terrace in Penn Quarter. I can see the granite counters, teak floors and media room now (though I don’t think anything in Penn Quarter even compares with these apartments in New York City).

If I’m going to blow my budget, I might as well be as unrealistic as possible.

While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and lease a Maserati Spyder too.

Thank god for credit.

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Happy New Year


It’s the Year of the Dog.

Another chance to start the year anew. Recommit to resolutions. Start fresh.

My Resolutions for 2006:

  1. Love more
  2. Travel more
  3. Write more

January flew by like a blur. Granted I spent most of the month in bed or on the couch, medicated and lethargic.

I got out of the apartment and caught an afternoon show of The Matador in Georgetown. It was awful.

And out of the seven teasers plugging upcoming features only one belonged on the big screen. The others were barely DVD-worthy.

Hollywood keeps lamenting the slump in receipts. Maybe if they produced films worth watching in a multiplex, people would return to the theater and not wait for the movies to show up on HBO or DVD.

This last year was especially bad!

Can you recommend any films for my Netflix queue? And what were your favorite flicks from 2005? Have you made any new New Year’s resloutions?

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I’ve become a believer in curses.

In November, on the flight from Providence to DC, I put my mp3 player in the pocket of the seat in front of me. I was preoccupied, because of flight delays and reading reports for work. In my hurry to leave the plane, I left the mp3 player behind.

One week later, I was on my way home from a news briefing at the National Press Club and pulled out my Samsung camera phone to call a client. Well, when I opened the flip phone, each piece fell apart in my hands. And because the phone was completely destroyed, I lost all of my contacts information.

About one week later, as I was getting ready for a meeting, I heard a strange pop come from the living area. Something was wrong with the television. The picture was in shades of pink. Alas, my tv broke.

I carry my digital camera with me everyhere. The Panasonic Lumix FX-7 is tiny and portable and takes fantastic photos. I traveled to Massachusetts for Christmas and took about 400 pictures over the holiday. After I got home, I noticed the menu pad was bent. The camera no longer works. Broken.

I take very good care of my laptop – always protecting it with padding if I carry it around, shutting down properly, constantly updating virus protection software. The laptop is less thank one year old. One week ago, I was typing away on my Dell 700m, when the screen froze. I turned the computer off and when I tried to restart nothing. Well…. nothing but a bright blue error screen and a funny clicking coming from my hard drive. Diagnosis…. the hard drive died. Out of the blue. With no warning.

Not only did it die, but no files could be retrieved. And because Mala doesn’t back up any information, she lost all the music she ripped off her CDs, all her documents, and most importantly – all of her photos. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g GONE! All the photos of Portugal I took in April, and of my gorgeous niece when she was one-week old, and of Independence Day with the baby niece, and of Thanksgiving. All gone!

These last 14 days, I’ve been sick with bronchitis. I’ve seen the doctor three times and am trying my third antibiotic – hoping this one will clear all the crap in my chest and lungs. So I’ve been stuck on the couch watching a lot of DVDs. Yesterday, I popped in National Treasure. The movie started to skip. Thinking it was the DVD, I ejected the disc, checked it for scratches, wiped it with a papertowel anyway and popped it back in. The problem wasn’t the disc, but the DVD player. Broken. No longer plays any dvds.

Since the last week of November I’ve either lost or had to replace – an mp3 player, a cellphone, a television set, a digital camera, an 80GB hard drive, and now a DVD player. All, with the exception of the television set, were less than one year old.

Not to mention that I never ever ever get sick and am stuck battling a nasty case of bronchitis.

Is this normal? Or have I been cursed? What do you think?

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Sweating in November


It’s too bloody HOT!

What is up with this weather? It’s 70 degrees in November. This is not normal.

Unfortunately, back in October, my entire building converted from air conditioning to heat. So now, it’s 80 degrees in my apartment and I can’t sleep. There are three fans whirring away on high and I’m still sweating.

The weatherman just warned it might get cool on Thursday. I say bring it on!