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Budget Buster

Advice

Today I dispensed friendly advice and provided clueless tourists with directions. For a slow weekend — especially in comparison with Labor Day — it was exceptionally entertaining.

The highlight of my day was a man who approached the information desk asking how to get back to Baltimore from DC. Apparently he and his family had checked into a hotel there and took the MARC train into DC to visit the sites.

Well, he was looking for a bus that would take them back.

A bus with a $2 fare.

The train was just too expensive. I was like “Huh?!”

What was this guy thinking? One gallon of gas in DC costs $2.80+ and he’s looking for a $2 bus to take him from DC to Baltimore — 35 miles away?!

Needless to say he was not pleased with his transportation alternatives.


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Summer Highlights

Birthday Party

I’ve been feeling a little wistful over this past summer. Though there are so many things I didn’t get a chance to get to, there have been many high points to the last three months.

1. In June my gorgeous niece turned two and her birthday party was a big hit. The day was sunny and dry, with great company, good food, and loud giggles emanating from a group of adorable munchkins — many of which spent countless hours in the inflatable Dora the Explorer castle.

2. My mom drove home with me and spent a memorable week in DC with me. In addition to quality bonding time, we went to Phantom of the Opera, Cirque du Soleil, tea at the National Cathedral, and the opening of the “Encompassing the Globe” exhibit at the Sackler Museum.

3. I discovered the Drop Zone at King’s Dominion and fell in love.

4. Shared incredible meals with friends every day for one week during DC’s Restaurant Week.

What are your summer highlights?


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End of Summer

end of summer

Today marks the end of summer for me. I know, I know, technically autumn begins on September 23 — but habits ingrained in the first 18 years of my life die hard.

Growing up in Massachusetts, it always felt like the cold weather blew in over Labor Day weekend, marking the end of summer and the beginning of school. And so even today as temperatures sore to 80 degrees, in my mind the air is a little crisper today.

Which leads me to how the hell is it September already? Where did June, July and August go? I was supposed to go out to the beach, supposed to catch a ballgame in Baltimore, supposed to go sailing in Annapolis, supposed to do so many things that I kept pushing off because, hell, I had plenty of time?

Remember when summers felt endless? When you’d wake up, throw on a bathing suit, grab a towel, and head off to the beach or to the pool picking up your friends along the way? When the biggest worry to leave with just enough time to change in the car before starting your shift at Chili’s or Walden Books or the Gap? When there was plenty of time to go to the state fair, head out to the amusement park, hang out on the beach, and talk endlessly about cute boys — the lifeguards, the waiters, the ride attendants.

Where did THOSE summer days go?


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History repeating itself

pageant

A long, long time ago when I was in college, a group of us were rushing around getting ready to go out. I think we were dolling up for a semi-formal or some other like event.

Anyway, someone turned on a tv and one of the beauty pageants was on. As we took turns running to the bathroom down the hall and stopping in one another’s rooms, the pageant was winding down with the all-important questions.

Miss Louisiana, a stunning girl with long dark hair and a beautiful face, stepped up to the microphone. One of the judges asked for her opinion on affirmative action. She stood there under the bright lights and asked him to repeat the question. By this point a group of us had circled around the television set and I had a feeling something special was coming up. Her answer went something like this……

“Well,” she said. “I believe in optimism and living my life affirmatively. I think everyone has the right to choose to live an affirmative life. Affirmative action is a positive force.”

Miss Louisiana stood at that microphone with the brightest smile on her face. And there was silence. The panel of judges all sat there with their jaws dropped. We all stood there wondering how the pageant princess could have no idea of what affirmative action was. And finally, finally, a row in the audience burst out in applause and hoots of “great answer,” “good job”.

And apparently it happened again!

I must be living under a rock because the first I heard of this was Matt Lauer’s interview with Caitlin Upton this morning. I’m sorry – but she was “caught off guard” and “overwhelmed?” Look at this travesty of an answer:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

What does this say about the state of education in South Carolina?

Let’s see you take this one for a whirl — “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”


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A Million Dollars

a million dollars

How would your life change if you won or inherited $1 million?

Let’s face it, one million dollars doesn’t have the buying power it used to. From months reading the Washington Post real estate section I know it wouldn’t buy me a house in my neighborhood. Most of those go for at least $1.2.

But it’s still no laughing matter. It’s enough to make some significant life improvements, but not so much that you’d get stalked by strangers from middle school asking for a “loan.”

Here’s what I’d do with my million:

1. Share half with my immediate family members.

2. Apply to anthropology or archaeology programs in DC  and take a couple years off work to go to school full time.

3. Travel to dig sites around the world and volunteer while waiting to matriculate in a graduate program.

4. Invest in cameras and lenses to document my travels from site to site.

5. Buy a couple new laptops.

6. Splurge on some first edition leather bound books.

7. I would take flying lessons and get a pilot’s license.

8. Upgrade to a 2-bedroom apt. with den.

9.  Save $100,000 for a rainy day.

10. Put $100,000 in a separate account so that I could donate the interest each year to my charity du jour.

What would you do with your windfall?


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An impulse

hairdryers

I usually keep my thick brown hair really long, hanging an inch or two past my bra strap. And I’ll wear it long for a few years and then, always on impulse, I’ll have it cut short.

Back in 2003, I woke up one morning with the urge for really short hair. I got lucky. Someone had canceled their appointment with Remi at Molecule, who the Washingtonian had dubbed the best short hair stylist in the city. An hour after walking in, my locks were 14 inches shorter. I loved the super-short sassy cut.

But then I got tired of short and let it grow out. Until this morning.

I woke up with my hair wound in the topknot I’d been wearing to sleep for the last four months. As I started to brush it out and pull it back into a ponytail, I decided I was tired of long. I phoned Norbert (my new favorite salon) and got lucky. Mario could squeeze me in between coloring appointments.

I strolled in at 2:00pm and an hour later, with five inches of hair strewn on the floor around me, I glanced into the mirror and grinned.

I have friends who flip through countless hair magazines looking for the perfect cut, then hem and haw before finally making an appointment. I’m at the other end of the spectrum… I make the most drastic changes to my “style” on a whim. What does that say about me?


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Signature Scent

L’eau D’Issey

One night many years ago, I was catching up with high school pals during Christmas Break when my friend Adam blurted the strangest thing.

“I smelled you last month.”

What he meant to say was, he’d smelled someone wearing Sung. And while his comment made me smile, it also stayed with me.

I’ve always been a monogamous girl when it comes to fragrance.

In elementary school I wore honeysuckle by Avon bottled in a frosted glass teddy bear. I wore it everyday until the scent was discontinued on the eve of my entering junior high.

It took a little while before I found Primo, a knock-off of the more expensive Giorgio. I think back now and wrinkle my nose. I must have wreaked of Primo – considering the scent was sprayed on with a slender aluminum can (groans inwardly). But in the time of tight-rolled pants and skinny ties, jelly bracelets and paisley patterns, I stayed true.

By the time I reached high school, I’d moved from Maybelline to Clinique and from Primo to the more expensive and more sophisticated Poison. Every morning, before strapping on my Swatch, I’d spritz my wrists with a little Poison.

Granted, every now and then I’d be tempted by something lighter like Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflower or Estee Lauder’s Beautiful but I never strayed for long. Until, the summer before my senior year when I discovered Sung.

Alfred and I had a long affair, lasting well over seven years. In fact I’d never gone so long with the same scent. Even my beloved honeysuckle didn’t last that long. I imagined each time someone I knew well caught a whiff of Sung, they’d think of me.

So I decided to switch things up a bit, broke off with Alfred, and moved on to Issey Miyake.

Though I’m not as faithful. Most days I wear L’Eau D’Issey, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a little Flowers – usually in the fall and winter. And for real memorable occasions, I bring out the Must and dab those drops of heaven on my pulse points.

What’s your signature scent?


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Art Heist

Cliffs Near Dieppe

In less than five minutes, five armed and masked thieves stole four paintings from the Jules-Cheret Fine Arts Museum in Nice.

The two Impressionist paintings — 1897 Cliffs Near Dieppe by Monet and the 1890 Lane of Poplars by Alfred Sisley — and two by Jan Bruegel the Elder — Allegory of Earth and Allegory of Water– are worth about $1.4 million.

The art museum is housed in an Italianate mansion that once belonged to a Ukrainian princess.

Because of all the publicity and the works that were taken, it’s not like these paintings will go up on the auction block at Christie’s or Sotheby’s anytime soon.  Someone is spiriting them away to some private vault somewhere for their viewing pleasure. Why these paintings? And why not visit the museum and admire them like everyone else? Why do people covet these works?

And — if by some stroke of ingenuity and lapse of morality — you could take a very public painting and bring it home, what would you choose?

I would be torn between de Kooning’s portrait of JFK and Susanna and the Elders by Artemisia Gentileschi. Not that I ever would.