Monday, August 28, 2006

Hazy days

Today seems to be the day of new beginnings for many. All around me old and new friends are headed off to some kind of academic adventure. New friend Amy flies off to start her first year at Macalester College. Allie begins her senior year at George Mason today. Scarlet begins to whip those little middle school music bitches into shape. Steven...well, he's still putting together his classroom ; )

The beginning of the year frenzy always reminds me of the emotions running through the head of a younger Serena preparing for school. I always viewed August with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. I would get so worked up and nervous that I wouldn't be able to eat and could almost bank on getting a fever blister a couple of days before the start of class. That should go on the top of some "ways to be popular at the beginning of the school year" list...lip herpes.

Some of the excitement came was in large part to how much I enjoyed getting new clothes, shoes and gadgets for the start of the school year. This girl who now wears flip flops used to love the shoe department at Dillards. The leather of Cole Haan and Eastland lured me in, asking me to be the Northeasterner I knew I had it in me to be. I was too into it for my own good. My jeans needed to have names, and those didn't include Levis or Lee. My mom was really good at spoiling me, and I'm still learning not to spoil myself.

Certain "first days" I'll never forget. I can't shake the first day of high school. For some reason, I hadn't bothered to make plans to meet up with friends before going in, so I went in sans reinforcements. Pushing open the doors, I remember being thankful for the air conditioning inside. Being stubborn, I had chosen to wear one of my more fall-like outfits for the first day. I almost turned tail and bolted when an upperclassman whistled and said "fresh meat" when I walked in the door. Suddenly I was sweating and even further from calm.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Porcelain goddess

Every morning for the past two weeks I've rolled out of bed nauseous. I sit at my computer at work nauseous. I fall into bed at the end of a long day praying I don't wake up nauseous. I'm not knocked up; I am worried. Genetically speaking, I come from a long line of worriers and usually manage to thwart fretting with the happy. Lately the foothold happiness has is spotty.

I worry about the friend who has tried to commit suicide twice in the past two weeks...about my ability to pay my now exorbitant electric bill...about the stupid financial mess I managed to put myself in...about my ability to accomplish all I want to accomplish at work...about the health of the family I never get to see...about the fact we won't pull out of a war that's killing us...about the fact that drinking sometimes sounds like a solution...about whether the boy I like likes me back...about the homeless people I pass every day.

I need to go throw up.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


August has always been synonymous with vacation. Growing up every August we* would pile into the minivan or station wagon and head out for a week to parts unknown. We did almost every Six Flags at the time, Dollywood, Colorado Springs, and who can forget driving a station wagon through New York City on our way to visit the relatives in Massachusetts and New Hampshire**. Now that I've grown up and am living on my own I still can't shake the feeling every August that vacations are meant to be taken. Working in DC doesn't help considering how the city empties out and gives itself over to the tourists every August. Not me, though. Eight years of slogging through the DC humidity and forcing myself to not daydream of some far away destination. I've actually been doing pretty good this August, taking a vacation day here and there. Better until now. I just finished reading Dan's travelogue chronicling his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-esque trip last summer. Now I need to escape. I dream of fleeing, flying. The road beckons to me, and yet I resist. Can I make it nine more days until September kills my gypsy dream?

*Mom, brother, grandmother, grandfather
**Yes, this Texan has yankee blood running through her.

Monday, August 21, 2006


It's ironic how we feel the need to label things in our life. I'll be the first to admit that I initially judge a book by its cover and pick my wine based on the design of the label. Similarly (at least to me), I find myself defining people based on a series of labels or stats. Roommate. Friend. Lover. Boyfriend. Director. Associate. Successful. Old. Young. Hippie. Conservative. Rather than digging further and getting at the heart of who a person truly is we "tag" the people in our lives or at least attempt to. I found myself tagging someone today and began to wonder about how that reflected on me and what it looked like I found important. I realized the way I continued to characterize someone cast a shadow on my intentions. Maybe it's just the area I live in, but do you ever stop to wonder why we characterize the people in our lives by what they do? Maybe I'm the only one that does this, but I don't think so. Rarely, when introducing a new person, do I say, "This is XXXX. He has super quick intelligence and makes me laugh." I* tend to fall back on, "This is XXXX. He works for Senator Dorgan." This makes it appear that I value a person's position more than the traits that attract me to them. Not that I want Steven to start introducing me as, "This is Serena. She has amazing boobs," but you get my drift.

*Tell me I'm not the only one that does this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I was all set to write about Restaurant Week and what an unrefined palate I have, when my vision was assualted on the metro ride in, and my mind began one-tracking it to hell. I wasn't looking for trouble. I was innocently holding onto the nearest handrail, waiting for the train to roll into McPherson Square when I noticed it...attached to him. I'm notorious for checking people out, and when I glanced up at him, I automatically hit certain target areas. Eyes. Hair. Hands. Bulge. Sigh. I honestly didn't mean to go there, but my eyes betrayed my better senses by lingering over the way he filled out his J. Crew khakis. This couldn't be blamed on tight pants or some secret excitement he was having trouble hiding. Vulgarity wasn't even an issue. It was tastefully clothed with only lines and shadows raving about what was underneath. I could tell it would be beautiful and couldn't tear my eyes away.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Notes from the middle of nowhere

Yesterday I hopped in a rental and took off for Lexington, Virginia. A six and half hour drive for a ninety minute meeting.

The reason for my visit.

While the meeting turned out to be worth it, spending that much time in on the road with a disposable camera and only my thoughts for company calls for introspection. While I managed to avoid introspection and at best got to daydreaming, I did snap numerous randome photos while speeding by. A few of my "deep thoughts" on Virginia. (click photos for better view)

Routes are more fun to drive than highways.

The sign says 'Sleepy Hollow Motel'. I'm thinking they could use a marketing consultant.

For someone from Texas, these really are mountains.

Boos I made on the road.

Where CIA ops must go to retire.

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I have a strange desire to own a barn.

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Scarlet wanted to know which hand was on the wheel.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Step Up

I have an odd obsession with dance movies. No matter how cheesy or played out the plots, I have to watch them (and watch them...and watch them) and is why I'll be at the theater this weekend to see Step Up. A good dance movie illustrates passion, hope, conflict...but above all it has lots of dance! Really, though, my fixation with dance is a jealousy at the ability to communicate and express emotion without the use of words. Haven't you ever had the desire to just work something out with your body? To tell someone you love them without opening your mouth? To hammer out your anger with flailing arms? How poetic and satisfying to do so through dance. I imagine a sweet release in sweating and shaking loose those feelings...a high much like I've heard runners talk about.

It's not just movies though. I like it live, documentary style, on name it. My current weekly fix is So You Think You Can Dance. This show is crack and so much better than American Idol, Nashville Star and any other TV talent competition. I'm just mad I missed the first season. Go read Scarlet's commentary on last night's dance off and join the commentary. I also recommend her archives for catching up on the weekly dances.

Since tonight is the finale for Dance, tell me what movies I should add to my dance collection.

current collection: Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Billy Elliott, The Company, Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing Havana Nights, Coyote Ugly, Rize...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Metro Don'ts

I can't help but join the cacophony of complaints about riding the rails in the DC area. It's hot, tourists run rampant and control the flow of everything, and some people still can't seem to think beyond themselves on the train. Yesterday I got a little frustrated with an inconsiderate passenger and decided the best way to work through my anger (because calling him a motherfucker probably wouldn't have been productive) would be to document* why he was a don't instead of a do.

Why is this man a metro don't?

In a crowded metro car, he insists on leaning his whole body on one of the few hold bars.

He takes up additional room in the car by extending his reading material in the personal space of others.

He is unable to control his personal property and keep it within check.

*Phone cameras have to be good for something.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I should not be allowed to own a car. It's not that I'm a bad driver or have been in multiple accidents. It's simply that I'm cursed when it comes to cars. My problem is two-fold (at least).

(1) I always seem to choose the sickly, runts of the litter. Growing up in Texas, I inherited my mom's Mercury Lynx when I turned 16. It only left me stranded in the parking lot of HEB on four separate occasions, and the air conditioner managed to last up until one scorching July when I was driving back from Big Bend National Park. When I moved to the metro DC area, I left this car back in Texas and purchased my vehicle, a 1999 Ford Escort. I loved this car but will be the first to admit that that love didn't always translate into TLC. We hurt the ones we love the most, right? Having grown up with a grandfather who managed a Goodyear Automotive, I wasn't used to having to take care of my own car. When the brakes started to go, I rode those bad boys 'til the bitter end. Right before I got them fixed, I would drive and scope out soft things to run into in case it came to that. And when that check engine light finally came on, I couldn't bring myself to find out what was wrong until my transmission died. I promised my next car would be treated properly and with the utmost care, so a couple of years ago I bought a 2001 Volkswagen Passat. This car I loved even though I knew it was way too nice for me. I kept it gassed and the oil changed...the whole nine yards. Everything was going smoothly until the day I got the urgent "STOP ENGINE IMMEDIATELY" message. A quick tow to the nearest dealership and I learned the engine my sweet, expensive (for me) car had imploded. Who do you know who gets a hole in their oil pan that shoots metal into their engine? Evidently mine does. Perhaps the car's original owner was Republican, and the car simply could not stand one more day of the humiliation of a Kerry sticker. When I finally buy that new engine, I'm going to be damned sure it comes from fine liberal stock ; )

(2) My second set of car issues seems to be related to the legal intricacies of owning a car. When I first moved up here I had never heard of a yearly car tax or county stickers. That resulted in loads of fun the first couple of years. In later years, I must have wound up on some tow truck pin-up calendar because my car got jacked by the tow companies more than the average Honda Civic sitting on the street. One too many metro parking tickets...gone. Flat tire...gone. My favorite was when my car got towed at the metro parking lot for being "abandoned". Little did I know it was car abandonment to park it in a metro-regulated parking facility at 8:00 am that morning and come back for it at 11:00 pm that night (well before the last metro train runs). My most recent run-in with the towing company involves them taking my car from my apartment complex because my safety inspection is expired. Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to get a car inspected when it has an imploded engine and hasn't been moved for several months. I was even prepared for the this time having called the state highway patrol, Fairfax County government, the DMV and even my apartment complex before the inspection ever ran out. I wanted to know what I needed to ensure my car remained in the spot it called home. Evidently the tow companies are the new redneck mafia because, despite all of my efforts, my car has once again been towed. I'm tired of being a doormat though. This time I'm going to win in my battle with the tow company.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


One foot in front of the other. My pace was deliberate but slow. My goal was the next island of shade, an oasis in what is almost unbearable heat. Today was not the day for me to have dressed inappropriately and yet somehow I managed it. My dark jeans began to shrink, hugging my ass as my body temperature rose. Rather than saunter or quick step, I felt the need to swagger, undulating my hips as I was more aware of them and my ass in this heat. I eventually shed my button-down as my trek continued, leaving me only in my skinny black tank. Sweat still beat a trail from the nape of my neck down between my breasts and turned loose strands of hair to wet ringlets. Freckles blossomed on my shoulders as though the sun was their mistress cracking the whip. As I walked and was increasingly aware of my body and of the heat, I began to focus less on my discomfort and more how this short journey was telling me something about life. I realized that with life, like a hot day, I can endure the scorching patches as long as I know a brief oasis of shade is just up the road.