Happiness is a warm rain

The first time I ever lived in DC I was 19, and I tried so very hard to be grown-up. Balanced my checkbook every month, always did my homework, made sure my guy friends ate their veggies, and I brought an umbrella with me to work every day because you just never know. Now I test my weather-prediction powers, sometimes riding the bus, 'brelly in tow, sometimes pressing my luck with the bike. Today Mother Nature won with an 8 o'clock storm.

First thunder rumbled when I stepped outside; first tiny droplets fell as I bade my friend farewell at the metro entrance; first umbrellas went pop! while I was crossing the circle. Then I rode home in the rain. And it was lovely. I'm sure that a dry seat and short ride helped. My shoes were just starting to get squishy as I rolled up to my house, and that would not have done for much longer.

But really - warm water on your face, whisked away as quickly as it comes, is a pleasant feeling. The sound of rainfall is soothing, too. And everybody needs some unexpected playtime.



On my way to the cash machine in the concourse level of my office building, I was greeted by a glass-enclosed replica of said building and its counterpart across the street. One of those 1:20 scale deals in which all the colors are muted and all the shrubbery identical. I assume the purpose of this professional architectural model is to demonstrate what will result from all the orange cones, netting, and hardhats around here these days. Thing is, concrete planters don't show up on that scale. Kinda like how, from an airplane, you can't see dents in cars, chipping paint jobs, or garbage. So it looks exactly the same. Great. It does appear, however, that they will replant the trees they uprooted out front.

In the less concrete (haha) but more noticeable realm, a higher-up in my division has announced his retirement. He apparently has integrated himself so fully into operations here that they have to promote three people to take over various aspects of his work. This personnel reorganization has also created an opportunity for physical reshuffling, and I have to switch to a different office, probably sometime this fall. Now, none of the offices in this building are anything fancy. They are all created with these tan modular metal dividing walls whose ease of rearrangement I'm sure seeemd terribly modern and efficient in the seventies. But mine is the best set-up an RA can hope for, square where most resemble wind tunnels, with the monitor facing the door and plenty of desk top space. And I have to give it up. Sigh.

I mentioned in a previous post that with this time of year comes the ritual changeover in the pool of people at my level. I realized as I was being introduced to a newbie the other day that I am now one of the jaded corps beginning their third year who will have to be coaxed out of their workout-cooking-domestic schedules into attending the whirlwind of barbeques and happy hours. And I felt old. Perhaps not old, though, but more certain of who I am and what I want. Realizing how little is to be gained from superficial meet'n'greets, I find the people I want on my own terms.

To end on a happy note, sometimes the revolving door brings people back. Former roommate Amy is returning to our nation's capital in August. Yay!


I love Bill Clinton.

Read this.



I must have some crazy built-in internal clock. My flight this morning was at 6:05am. Having fallen asleep while "taking a rest" from folding clothes/packing, I woke up at precisely 3:48. Hadn't put a thing in suitcase yet. Somehow managed to remember laptop, iPod, phone, and three battery charging cables. And three books to balance out my digital dependence. In fact, the only things I think I've forgotten so far are a swimsuit and a hostess gift. The latter can be remedied here, the former is clearly optional.

Was out my door by 4:25, in my car five minutes later, and at the airport at 5:15. Thankfully the drive to the parking lot and subsequent shuttle to the airport do not take the hour and a half I originally thought. I was sitting in my seat by 5:50, I think.

That seems so early, given the eternity I spent at the red light after I pulled a U-wie, having passed the parking lot, the second eternity the person two in front of me took through the security line, and the third eternity it took for them to run my belongings through the X-ray machine twice.

City maps and hand claps

So I was listening to Feist's "Mushaboom" the other day, and I realized it has nearly no percussion in it. Aside from the hand claps. This is great for when she is touring solo and all she has is the (sometimes completely unmusical) audience to assist her. That and a guitar and her playback recorder. But the claps work. They're straightforward and happy and all she really needs to keep the beat going. So it got me thinking about the innocent air lent to a song by hand claps. All this going through my head as I was going through my iPod on my errands. Anytime I ran across a song with clapping in it, it went into the on-the-go playlist. First time I've ever used this feature, but I must say I appreciate the appropriate terminology. Anyhow, here is what the playlist looks like so far:

Feist "Mushaboom"
the Kinks "Everybody's Gonna Be Happy"
Belle and Sebastian "Boy with the Arab Strap"
Radiohead "We Suck Young Blood"
the Cure "Close to Me"
Rogue Wave "Kicking the Heart Out"

Incidentally, the title "city maps and hand claps" is a lyric in Wilco's "Kingpin," which does not have any actual clapping in it. Odd, no?


Holy technology, Batman!

In the past two days, I have acquired three of the electronic trappings of the 21st century - a camera phone, a gmail account and a blog. Already had the iPod. The phone is too fancy for me, though, I want my simple, sleek, first phone again.

[UPDATE: Tuesday, noon, Austin time, I should elaborate that digital cameras for me take away all the elegance and significance in a photograph. Moreover, they reduce the marginal cost of taking a photograph effectively to zero. The result is obnoxious people have no barrier to clogging public spaces with the fifty-millionth posed picture of the evening. Moreover, I see very little reason to house this technology in a telephone. It's a phone. For communicating, you know?

However, I now have two photographs of friends attached to their pictures. One of them just called, and her face popped up. Neat!]


Jumpin' cars and takin' names

As I mentioned in my last post (which was my first post - confusing), I spent some time last night helping my roommate get her car started. Wednesday night she had forgetten to turn off the lights in her hurry to get in out of a storm. She also failed to notice she was parked in a rush hour bus route, so the car had been towed around the corner onto 14th Street NW. That courtesy tow comes with a hundred dollar fine. So, not good, but by the time I got home, she had already called AAA and was on the phone with her mom. Situation seemed well in hand. I retired to my room, absorbed in my own family conversations. Half an hour later I heard a faint knock on my door, and there's Ellen, on the verge of tears. The AAA response person had told the driver 14th Street NE instead of NW, and the driver hung up on Ellen when she was trying to correct the miscommunication. Seeing her reminded me of all the frustrations I had with insurance, parking regulations, inspection, and registration when I first arrived in the District. Cars are such a hassle, which is exactly why mine is going back to Tennessee.

For the moment, I gave her a quick hug and told her we'll get it taken care of without AAA. I have some experience jumpstarting cars (where by "I" I mean "my then boyfriend and whoever else I could flag down"). But my battery used to die all the time, due to an improperly dealer-installed stereo that was draining it and the relative underuse of cars at college. Apparently I learned something in my glassy stares under the hood, though, and really, it's just not that hard. I was pretty confident as I paralleled in front of her car, aside from the 10 year old boy stabbing the nearby tree with a switch blade. The only snafu we ran into is a stubborn safety latch on Ellen's hood. We were both crouching at the nose, hands in the inch and a half space, eyes narrowed, mouths in contorted grins, when a potbellied and balding man approached.

"You girls need any help?" Uggh.

More civilly than I was able, Ellen responded, "I think we got it, but if you could get this latch to unlock..." He struggled with it for a minute, too but eventually did open it and prop up the hood. Maybe stubby fingers were better.

As he was walking away, he said, "Now you all know what you're doing? Get the red and black, negative and positive, right? That's the key." I gave a downward jab of my head with averted eyes, and he continued, "Alright, well, the liquor store's calling my name." 'Course it is. Ellen and I joked that he probably realized he didn't know what he was doing or was already too inebriated to do it. We hooked it all up, started mine, started hers, and left both running for a moment or two. I had just put the cables away and closed everything when hers died again. So there we were struggling once more with the latch when who should walk by but our good samaritan friend. In response to his chortled, patronizing queries, we explained it had already been started up but just died again.

Ellen said, "But if you want to pull your hood-opening trick...oh got it, never mind." He stood around anyway, trying to coach me on parking with the noses towards each other. I told him it's not worth it with the traffic on 14th, which is a main artery. And, thanks to an overly cautious, automobile-minded godfather, my cables are 25 feet long. He saw me unwinding these in the direction of Ellen's car and said, "Whoa, I'm from Texas, and we call that Texas-style. Huh huh. Huh." Ha. But he's backed onto the sidewalk and was walking away, so I said nothing. Ellen, "That guy? Two thumbs down."

We agreed she should leave her car running but that I could head home. Fifteen minutes later, my name was being called from the bottom of the stairs. She had tried turning the radio on and that was too much. I'm thinking this battery is probably completely shot. We would have just left it, but the window was also down. So I fetched my car, and we went through our rigmarole one more time. This time I left my iPod with her, and she opened the door with her windows rolled up. If it's dead this morning, she's actually going to make use of AAA to bring her a new battery.

All in all, took just over an hour. Not bad for two damsels in distress.

[UPDATE: Saturday noon, The car started right up yesterday and today. Huzzah!]

So I've finally done it.

You must understand that I've been talking about creating my own blog for over a year. I read loads of them - mp3 blogs, running blogs, news'n'politics blogs, personal blogs of my friends. I comment sporadically, but mostly I just lurk. I'm an internet voyeur but a harmless one. I like the candid and sometimes quite intimate expression promoted by the medium. I also like the well-crafted, thoughtful posts about the world around the writer. Really, let's be honest, I like procrastinating at work.

At some point I wanted to join the blogosphere. Then I was met with a series of computer-related misfortunes. Even when I had a functioning computer with internet access, there was always a reason to put it off.

Tonight I decided to stop putting it off, although circumstances were stacked against me. Not arriving home until around 9, I then had two phone conversations and jumped my roommate's car three times. (!!!) But the thing that might actually have ground blog-making to a halt was the prompt for a blog name and url. Thank heavens for iTunes. Just when I was about to give up, it turned to the lovely song "Mushaboom" by the equally lovely Feist. Name comes courtesy of her lyrics, which I believe I had never fully processed until that moment. Look 'er up. Or wait, I can give you a link - ha! blogs are great.

Feist's official website

I think that's an appropriate way to end my first post. Thanks, Feist.