Thursday, February 23, 2006

Excerpts from my first foray into the wild world of physical therapy:

PT: "So, Ms. Write, is it alright if I call you Danielle or do you prefer Ms. Write?"
AW: "Heck, you can call me Princess if you want. Everyone else does."

AW: "Do you need me to roll up my pants for this part?"
PT: "No, I can get to your kneecaps through the jeans."
AW: "Are you sure? 'Cause I shaved my legs for this. It'd be a shame to waste it."

That's right, I flirted with my PT. I flirted and I flirted good. More specifically, I spent the entire hour flirting with a strange man while he massaged and manipulated my neck, my hips and my sweet little knees. Or to put it yet another way, Blue Cross/Blue Shield paid a man to put his hands all over me while I fed him coquettish charm, spoonful after lovin' spoonful.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I am so in the wrong line of work." No, you're thinking, "Why would you do such a thing, you ridiculous floozy with your irresistible goofiness and inappropriate sense of timing?"

Well, I'll tell you, there were two reasons: First, he was cute, in a short-sleeved-buttondown-with-a-tie-like-Detective-Sipowitz kind of way; and second, he flirted with me first.

Okay that second part's not true, I flirted first, but I didn't mean to! I just made a joke to lighten the mood -- he asked, "How's your health? Heart? Lungs? Kidneys? Liver?" and I gave him the thumbs-up and declared, "All present and accounted for!" -- and he laughed pretty hard and I laughed and we realized that hey! we both get it! as in get-it get it, you know? And thus began the flirting. And I know it was flirting because he answered each of my zingers with one of his own. And his ears kept turning red. And I was being adorable. Really, I was in rare form; must be a full moon.

I came away with a short list of stretches and exercises to "retrain my spinal cord" and accomplish a few other things I couldn't even pretend to understand, but I'll practice them faithfully if it means I can keep on running.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got another appointment in two weeks and I need to start thinking about what I'm going to wear.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

my funny, lovingly resentful valentine (and other stories)

My parents dropped by last night to deliver a bag of Valentine's Day goodies on their way to "visit" (read: catch in the act of boozing/smoking dope/otherwise wasting tuition and fucking up his young life) my baby brother at the University of Maryland.

I know, so thoughtful!

I photograph not for the memories, but for the evidence.

But wait -- there's more!
Fragrant strawberries, crisp sugar cookies, cherry-red dish towels and jammies gifted in the tender, passive-aggressive spirit of the holiday. "I adore you," they say, "in spite of your attitude problem. Someday I'd like to spoil your children with cookies and sleepwear. (*sniff* *scowl*) I should live so long."

Um, thanks Mom. I love you anyway too.

It was a good day. For a Tuesday, for a holiday, for any day. About Valentine's Day I will say this: Forget that stupid song. It's better to be with the friends you love than to pretend to love the date you're with.

7:42 a.m.: The usual breakfast. A steaming mug of smooooth and potent Whole Foods Allegro French Roast. Cereal: crunchy. Banana: perfectly ripe. Milk: ice cold. Giada De Laurentiis: mercifully absent from The Today Show's Torino broacast. This is what a morning should be.

10:13 a.m.: Long-distance phone call from my college roommate. They're moving back to D.C.! To stay! After much rejoicing, Auntie Danielle begins to plot the systematic overindulgence of Baby R. Spoiling to commence in T-Minus Four Months and counting.

"Face it, I'm precious. Resistance is futile."

1:03 p.m.: Sushi lunch with my ex at our "usual spot." (We're, like, BFF now. More on that another time. Maybe.) John presents me with a poem, prepared on special ivory paper and tied in a scroll with red satin bow. I wouldn't normally publicize such a thing but he was so f-ing proud of himself he's probably been drumming his fingers in anticipation of this post all morning long. I decline to read it just then on grounds that crying even once in Jonathan's Gourmet is one too many times, and I did enough of that while we were dating.

1:55 p.m.: Exit lunch and spy "sale" sign at City Sports across 19th Street. Find my $140 running shoes (which I've put off buying because they're so freakin' expensive but they're the only ones I'll wear and who the hell made this rule that you have to replace them every three to four months, and if they only last that long then WHY DO THEY COST $140????) on sale for $110, plus the buy-one-get-another-pair-for-30-bucks deal, and they have two pairs left and they are BOTH IN MY SIZE, so basically I get a pair of top-of-the-line Asics for free and I'm set for the next eight months. Which is great because I'm so po' now I can only afford the first half of the word.

2:17 p.m.: Return from lunch. Ask Rosie to humor my irrational fear of sentimentality and read John's poem to me. (Flashback to the day my SAT scores arrived in the mail. "I can't look. You open it, Josh." "But I'm onwy fwee yeaws owd. I don't know how to wead yet." "Damn you, boy!") I weep briefly -- it's quite a poem, even by my hard-hearted standards -- then roll around in the warm fuzzies like a pig in shit. It took John and me four long years to find our peace; A solid friendship with someone who knows and loves me down to my last dysfunctional molecule is better than one thousand displays of romantic one-upmanship from Clive Owen and Ralph Fiennes in a challenge to win mine dainty hand.

5:15 p.m.: Free 15-minute massages at the gym? Score.

9:12 p.m.: Aforementioned family visit. We sit in the lobby of my building and chat a while. On my way back upstairs I wave to the night desk manager, hoping he won't notice I'm in my stuffed cow slippers and shuffling around without a bra. I offer him a cookie from the pile in my outstretched hand. "Your parents spoil you," he says, and takes two. I cannot argue with that.

Happy Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

love me, Simple, love me true

If you'll indulge me a moment, I'd like to discuss "The Bachelor" without admitting that I actually watched it last night. If you cannot suspend your disbelief, kindly dismiss my vulgar taste in entertainment as an act of desperation, committed in the absence of cable TV.

1. Is Valtrex a sponsor of this program? No? They should be. All that tonsil hockey, overnight dates in the Fantasy Suite... Only one of those lucky ladies will win the Bachelor's heart, but I have a feeling a little bit of Travis is going home with each of them.

2. I suspect that landing a spot on this show is not unlike boarding the kiddie coaster at Six Flags: If your noggin falls above the line you're not allowed to ride. There is an exception, though; every season one crazy fox slips past the maximum-IQ rule and works the entire mansion into a tizzy with her claws-out confrontation skills, overconfident sexuality and other assorted shenanigans. She's the sort of nutjob I'd just as soon ignore, but the other girls practically invite her to crawl under their skin. The whole experience looks like a psychological stress test gone awry. Oh well, I'm sure the producers know what they're doing. Only a heartless beast would think of ratings when true love is on the line.

3. If I took a sip of beer every time someone uttered the word "amazing" in a single episode, I would expire from alcohol poisoning by the second commercial break. "He's such an amazing guy." "This elimination is amazingly hard, you're all such amazing women." "Our first kiss: so. amazing." "It's really amazing how fast this cold sore erupted, but I'm still totally glad I came on the show. The opportunity to be part of this all was... in a word, amazing." You poor simpletons, what's amazing is that you manage to place your shoes on the correct feet each day. It's a good thing you're pretty. (You too, boys.) Go to Border's and buy yourself a thesaurus. A thesaurus. T-h-e-s-a-u-r-u-s. No, they're not extinct, it's a book of synonyms. S-y-n-o... *Sigh.* Never mind.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

unfinished business

I came home a little on-edge last month after seeing "Munich" (it's enough to make anyone paranoid) and noticed a hair on the bathroom floor that looked too dark to be mine. So I did what any mildly neurotic person would do: I convinced myself someone had been in my apartment doing something disgusting while I wasn't home (I never should've let my contractor hang on to that key) and made a mental note to have my locks changed first thing in the morning.

And thus was added one more item to the list of things I will never do.

Do universities still award degrees for life experience? Yes? Then label me MP -- master of procrastination -- and sign up for my night class in the fall.

Putting things off is usually harmless, like the pink scarf I've been knitting since December 2002. It's almost long enough now to wrap twice around my neck. I think this could be my year.

In a related crime, I failed to complete the fringe on one end of my favorite green wraparound. I've been wearing it this way for three years. Now I just call it my signature style of crochet: "Soft and unbalanced, just like me!"

My swelling household to-do list is more like a catalog of long-term goals: Patch wall, change light, hang pictures, paint something fun on the kitchen door. And vacuum, for chrissakes! You know it's time to clean when your dust bunnies start splitting off into gangs.

Three boxes of broken and unused backsplash tile have been rattling around the back of my car for close to a year now. All I need to do is find a damned dumpster and heave-ho. So close to a clean backseat... and yet so far away. There are doctors to see, friends to call, chores to do... I've become a consummate listmaker, rolling undone tasks from notepad to notepad as I cross off one item and add three more. It never ends.

For every published post on my blogger account there are a dozen unfinished essays and ruminations saved as drafts and waiting to be rediscovered, like so many half-stuffed teddy bears in a hastily abandoned toy factory. The situation at work isn't much better: My office... You know, I'm not even going to go there. Last week my boss came in, stepped on a pile of annual reports and asked me, "So, um, when are you planning to 'remodel' in here?" Hopefully before she fires me for my disorganizational skills.

The social implications of this behavioral pattern cannot be ignored: For years I've been planting seeds for relationships I've never allowed to grow. My entire love life is a garden sown but not reaped. I might dig up a carrot now and then -- more out of curiosity than desire -- but the bulk of the crop is unlikely to thrive.

Meanwhile, I can't deny that I'm a little hungry. (For the record: I do date. I don't write about it. I think that's a task best left to the experts.)

According to the Tao of G.I. Joe, "Knowing is half the battle." Clearly I'm aware that this is more a problem than a quirk. And that it's really about anxiety, not laziness. And that, at least in the romantic vein, I can't get away with blaming a broken heart or my Paralyzing Fear of Commitment™ any longer. So recognizing all this I should be well on my way to a solution by now... right? But instead I've stopped trying at all.

In December I had grand plans to build a gingerbread house on the large dining room table I never use. Standing in the candy aisle at Safeway with a bag of Brach's Spearmint Leaves in my hand (they make excellent shrubs), I thought, "I'll probably lose interest in this halfway through, and then what'll I do with all that sugar going stale in my house?" Not a rhetorical question, actually; the answer was "I will eat it," and so the project was done before it started. Failure for fear of failure; talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. At least I didn't eat the candy.

My ex-boyfriend is reading this and finally understanding why I never took to golfing: I was only interested in whacking the ball; the follow-through was of little interest to me.

Until I meet a man strong enough to break down walls, and find a job that pays handsomely for inspiration and not much else, I'll simply have to work on this. My new pet project: "Stop Procrastinating in 2006!"

Now where's that pad of paper... I need to add this to my list.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

cold irony

Under the plexiglass shelter of my bus stop, during rush hour, just after the sun's gone down on this bitterly cold night, a homeless man wriggles into a pair of bright blue pajama pants, working them up inch by inch over the jeans, sweats and thermals he's already been wearing for who-knows-how-long. He mutters happily under his breath, pleased as punch with this new layer of his onion. His fingers are nearly black with dirt and in all the tugging they leave a smudge on the flannel pattern -- dozens and dozens of big yellow circles with whimsical letters that read, "The Good Life!"
It frustrates me to no end when beautiful people dumb down their looks. This woman on the bus today -- she had fine, delicate features, flawless skin, the stature and posture of a ballerina. But everything on and around her person was a variation on the color poo: Shoulder-length brown hair pulled back in a bland ponytail, nude pantyhose, tan pumps, tailored skirt suit in a buff-and-coffee tweed. Sandy coat. Khaki scarf. There are a million synonyms for 'earthtone' but at the end of the day they're all shades of dirt. (And you know how I feel about beige.) This girl was beautiful, if you were looking, but nothing about her getup would ever draw the eye. Every day is Halloween for her, and her costume is "Toast."

Now the guy next to her in the baby-pink tie -- not a natural beauty, but I found him quite appealing. Yessiree. Smartly dressed in navy with splash of color and an orange scarf to boot. Funky curls. Sideburns. Fabulous European shoes. He had this grown-up Bruno Martelli thing going on. No, I'm not giving you a link for Bruno Martelli. If you're so young that the name Bruno Martelli doesn't ring a bell then you can go look it up. You kids today with your instant gratification... In my day hotlinks were served with pancakes and The 'Net was a clumsy but suspenseful movie with Sandra Bullock and that sexy British guy who must have a lousy agent otherwise I'd remember his name. Back then we had to work for our information. I'm not so foolish as to think you'll crack a book in search of Bruno Martelli, but if you really want to know who he is the least you can do is type it in yourself. (Who am I kidding, you'll totally copy and paste. Punk.)

What the hell was I talking about? Oh -- looking drab. Right. It's like cooking without salt. Even the finest ingredients are inedible if you don't spice them up a bit. As my best friend used to say on her grubbier days, "Ugh. Let's just get takeout and rent a movie. I'm not fit for human consumption today." Exactly, girl. Exactly.

Friday, February 03, 2006

This isn't a cop-out post -- I've got some stuff in the hopper -- I just want to direct your attention to some noteworthy journalism today.

The New Republic did a nice job summarizing the State of the Union speech. Not sure if you can get to it through this link if you're not a subscriber, but still worth a try.

Also see President's Intern's take on things. That chick (whoever s/he is) rocks.

And finally, a bit of wartime journalism on wartime journalism, also from TNR. I always look for this writer's byline because I went on a date with him once (nice guy; intimidatingly smart).

If you can't view the articles and you'd like to, e-mail me and I'll send them to you through the TNR site. Or subscribe -- it's well worth the dollars.