Sunday, December 23, 2007

Me and Mean Maxine

Written Saturday, December 22, at 10:55 a.m.

As I write, I am sitting smooshed on the train home. I am sitting adjacent to the most unpleasant woman ever. Really. An oversold train is no place to start in with moral indignation, which is exactly what she did when I attempted to move her paired pink luggage to make room for my one little bag.

I want to give this woman a name. I think she could be a Maxine. She is certainly sassy enough, although not in the good way. Mean Maxine.

“No! Don’t move my bag! What did you do? Why aren’t they together anymore? It’s going to fall! Put my bags back together! That will be easier when I get off! Why won’t this fit anymore? Did you put something there? People can’t just shove other people’s things!”

As usual, being the amateur sociologist that I am, I have a few observations:

1. I should mention that the guy behind me attempted to help me put my bag on the luggage rack. While this endeared him to me pretty much forever, it wasn’t really that necessary because I am badass enough to mangle other people’s packing arrangements on my own. My lady friend Maxine, however, did not seem to realize that I was the architect and primary executor of the evil scheme to heave her belongings into disarray. She therefore directed her anger at the guy trying to help. Because, you know, I’m just a girl.

I bet some poor conductor had to put her bags up there for her. I bet she stood there and told him he was doing it wrong.

2. Maxine was never a student of physics. Or, if she was, she was not a particularly successful student of physics. Concepts Maxine fails to grasp include the following:
a. Inertia. Maxine’s bag was not moving—I mean, at least not once I stopped sullying its pink perfection. It was not going to fall. Unless I decided to make it fall, of course, which at this point I was liable to do.
b. Center of gravity. Barring the possibility that Maxine had lined the bottom three inches of her bag with lead, there was no way that the small amount of suitcase looming ominously over my head—you wouldn’t think anything so pink could be ominous, but Maxine made it so—could contain enough weight to send it careening down. But apparently this impending crash was a source of concern for Maxine.

3. Once I hid my crying enough to dare give Maxine a dirty look—yes, she made me cry, not because she hurt my feelings but because she enraged me so—I noticed her ensemble. It was pretty festive. The obvious festive pieces were the bright red sparkly sweater and the big ring with pink and red rhinestones, but as looked more closely as the embodiment of cruelty, I noticed her earrings. They were wreaths. I thought they were just woven gold circles, but upon further inspection, I saw the little red bows that topped each one.

For someone who is so festive, Maxine does not have very much Christmas spirit.

**Note: I have moved to a seat across the aisle. It is much less smooshed and far enough from Maxine that I don’t fear she will claw me to death for touching her suitcase. This seat also gives me a new vantage point from which to view the ensemble, and I can now see the pin on her red “I’m a lady who wears a hat” hat. The pin is a woman’s head. The woman is wearing a red hat. Who knew old-lady accessories could be so meta?

4. Maxine is the most important person in the universe. This is abundantly clear already, I know, but it got even better once she took her seat, aired her last few uppity grievances to no one in particular, and resumed her crossword puzzle. Out loud. She’s one of those people who exhales, “Aaaand six down…” It’s intolerable. But of course Maxine does this because she’s very important and interesting, and we should all know that she is deeply invested in finding the correct answer to six down. I worked on something to say about it—and it was going to be sassy, let me tell you—but I was too convinced that she would send me into a fit of furious tears again.


Update: I'm home now, and I have slept more than 4 hours, and I have decided that-- while I do not understand why Maxine felt compelled to freak out at me for shifting her luggage-- she is probably not an evil person. She even offered me her pen when I had to sign my ticket, indicating not only the presence of a soul but also the conclusion of her crossword puzzle commentary. It does not explain why she had to work all the bitchy out of her system at 10:45 in the morning, but that's okay.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lessons from Joe's Basement

Well. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. At some point in the past week or two I realized that it's finals time for those still fortunate enough to be blessed with blue books, and as noted previously I started thinking about college. I was in the middle of getting all nostalgic when I stopped for a moment and remembered that I haven't really cut the cord. Part of this is my own doing-- I live with a college friend, I see other college friends at least once a week and talk to them all day to Gchat (bless you, Gchat). Hell, there is a giant YALE banner hanging on a wall in our apartment. The only physical thing that even vaguely suggests that something is different is my degree, which also happens to be hanging on a wall in our apartment, but that's really just a piece of paper.

To be honest, I was starting to feel a little guilty about all this stuff. Here I am, purporting to be a grown-up, when really I do all the stuff I did for four years. It's just that now I put on grown-up clothes and go to an office Monday through Friday. I still do my laundry from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. I still go to the gym to avoid other necessary tasks-- before it was reading; now it's grocery shopping. I have not ironed since I started my job. Seriously. Before I just avoided the wrinkly shirts. Now I wear them under sweaters. I actually think I ironed more in college.

I also selected the perfect job for my M.O. of being in college for the foreseeable future. We're all the same age, the majority of us still think we can drink as hard as we did in college, and many of us routinely try. This is how our department outing turned into The Night of 28 Bottles of Wine and inspired haiku (yes, just as in college I am still a huge nerd and enthusiastically participate in haiku contests) such as the following, composed as I groggily waited for the Metro the next morning:

Department outing!
So much wine in Joe's Basement...
I don't feel so good.

I mean, when you and your boss start singing the Mory's song [notorious Old Yale drinking song] in a restaurant that is not Mory's [notorious Old Yale drinking establishment], and his boss challenges two other people to a wine chugging contest... it's hard not to think that you're still in a basement on York Street passing around 4-liter jugs of Carlo.

On the other hand, I try. I realize how much I am a work in progress, and I really aspire to become one of those productive, upstanding citizens you're supposed to aspire to be. I go to museums, I bake too much for anyone's good, I go to concerts, I read again. The reading has been a really big deal-- I missed reading for pleasure all through college and I've always harbored anxiety that I'm not especially well-read. So I decided that this is an area for development, and isn't a desire self-improvement a sign of maturity? Or something?

My book selection has been a little haphazard, and my plan to alternate recent work with classics was thrown off course when I lost my copy of Love in the Time of Cholera-- which I inevitably accidentally found tonight. It was on my bookshelf. You might think that this is the stupidest thing you've ever heard, but consider for a moment-- why would I put it on the shelf when I was in the middle of reading it? See, I don't know either.

So Marquez is on siesta until I finish one of New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2007-- Throw Like a Girl: Stories, by Jean Thompson. The characters are all smart women and girls, several with a wicked steak-- I wonder why it appealed to me. Hmm. Unfortunately their common bond is their links to loser men and boys, so maybe not the best message to send to myself. But I remain optimistic for a Bridget Jones moment--not necessarily the kind of moment when the sassy and deserving heroine ends up with Mark Darcy, but at least the kind of moment when she choses vodka and Chaka Khan.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Language Barrier

I can't believe it has been a week since the last time I wrote. It has been an interesting week. Son of Pie was a huge success, but more about that in the next few days-- honest, I have a whole post planned in my mind, but the execution was just a little too much for me tonight. Blame it on real-people tasks, which happened to include the gym AND Subterranean Safeway AND laundry. It was a big night; usually it's all I can do to shower after the gym. The irony is that this amazing hypothetical post is all about how I'm pretty much still a college student who plays dress-up and goes to an office during the day.

Anyway, as I said, that is a post for another day. And, as per me, I had a bizarre encounter tonight so it's not that I'm struggling for material.

I went straight from the gym to Subterranean Safeway. It was around 9:00 p.m. I was wearing a sweatshirt, gym shorts, and a layer of grossness from the gym-- and I wasn't cold, which is just messed up. I'll admit, after nearly wiping out on ice multiple times last week, I am kind of enjoying the temperate weather, but then I remember that we're halfway through Advent and I freak out a little.

That was a digression, but the following is an important sidebar. I mentioned a sweatshirt. It is one of my many, many articles of Davenport clothing. The back of this particular sweatshirt proclaims-- in a salute to our diminutive mascot-- "gnome is where the heart is." Cute, right? I love it. Bear this slogan in mind.

I ran up the hill to my supermarket of choice, grabbed a cart, and pillaged the produce section. But I'm me, and apparently the job description for being Kate includes "must attract the crazies in the supermarket." A slim, relatively short, older man approached me as I picked apples, and said with a slight accent, "What does the 'g' stand for?"

Whaaaat? Where did this guy come from? Seriously, he kind of sneaked up on me. I looked at him with a look of pure, unadulterated confusion.

"Is it for genome?" he continued, "like human genome? G-nome?"

Oh no. Am I supposed to do the English as a second language explanation of 'gnome'?

"Uh, no... it's for--" I point to the small gnome who is emblazoned, pointy hat and all, on the front of the sweatshirt. He still seemed intrigued. I think to myself, "There is no good way to say this that allows me to finish my shopping before the store closes at 10."

"--little people. It's like little people."

I think he was pretty disappointed that it wasn't a human genome joke.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Revenge of the Pie

It's about 1:30 a.m. and I am still awake, waiting for my amazing apple pie to come out of the oven. People in my office have been on a collective baking binge recently, and I am joining in with this particular confection to avenge a previous foray into the world of baked goods.

Sometime in October, when we all thought the fall weather might finally descend upon D.C., several of us planned a fall festival for our department, complete with scarves, pie, Schnapps hot chocolate, and pumpkin beer. I love to bake, so I offered to make what I consider to be the greatest apple pie in the history of... well, of pies. My mom has been making it for years, and we are pretty sure that it could kill a man-- really, the amount of butter in the topping shall remain nameless to protect the LDL-impaired. But what it lacks in fat-freedom it makes up for in apply goodness-- eight apples of goodness, to be precise.

Needless to say, I was very excited about this pie. I baked it the night before; the apartment smelled amazing. I left for work early, hoping that I would be able to get a seat on the Metro-- because, seriously, what could be worse than dropping my pie on the Metro?

I walked carefully down the hall, down the elevator, out the front door of the building. At which point I realized it was raining. Grr. But no big deal, right?

I stood in front of the building, under the awning, balancing the best pie ever on one palm and digging through my bag for my umbrella with my free hand. I located the umbrella and began to open it.

"Hmm," I thought, "maybe I should set down the--"

It was one of those moments when you float out of your body and time slows down.

"AAAUGHUUUH!" I didn't really scream so much as this strangled yelping sound escaped from me. I like to think my choked cry was drowned out by the slurp of pie flopping onto the sidewalk-- concurrent with a single crunch of glass, of course. Because I had just a little too much hubris to get the pre-made pie crust in the little aluminum pie plate. Nah, who needs that?

Apparently, a spaz like me.

I debated my options-- run away and get on the train, run to Safeway and bake a new pie (I would probably only be about two hours late to work-- I really thought about this), clean up the mess (damn nagging conscience), sit down in my mess and cry (a strong contender, but not the winner). And of course, some attractive guy walked out and saw me staring transfixed by the pile of apples, brown sugar, and glass on the sidewalk-- really, it was the topping on the pie, as it were.

That was the end of the pie. I didn't even get to taste it-- again, a bad option that received a lot of consideration, but finally my taste for apples and cinnamon was bested by my distaste for Pyrex shards and emergency room visits. The fall festival was still a smashing (ha) success, complete with a moment of silence for my fallen pie.

There was a silver lining, though. I got home from work that day with an urge to write about my fruit-filled failure and though, "Hmm, if I had a blog, I could write about this." So it's only appropriate that as Long Island Sound approaches its 1-month birthday celebration this Saturday I avenge the pie that contributed to its inception.

Let's just hope that Son of Pie's life is a little longer and ends in dismemberment rather than a fatal fall.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Trivia Night Triumph, Thanks to Lance Armstrong

After a fun but lackluster first trivia night out of The Have a few weeks ago, tonight marked my return to Fado. This time forty percent of the old all-star team was present, and Laura and I were determined to win big. We recruited a solid group, convened with our answer booklet and our shiny blue but woefully dull pencil...

...and the pillaging began. Seriously, I have never gotten owned by a game of trivia the way we got owned tonight. And there wasn't even a music round! Do you know who Mariska Hartigay's mother is? Because we sure didn't. We didn't completely fail-- again, we ended up in the middle of the pack-- but it was not our finest hour and, in fact, it made us want to find trivia that's slightly less grueling.

But there was a silver lining to the evening-- in addition to returning to my trivia and Newcastle ways with one of my favorite old trivia friends and several new ones. A big part of the joy of trivia is amusing yourself and those around you. This aspect of the game can be manifest in absurd answers when you have no chance of guessing correctly. It can also be realized in the selection of a team name. To acknowledge the importance of hilarity, the organizers of this trivia night give an award for the best team name each week. And guess who won tonight!!!

Yes, it's true. We considered ragging on Mike Huckabee, taking a swipe at Larry Craig, formulating a joke about Iran's lack of a nuclear weapons program, and saying anything true about Kevin Federline and letting it speak for itself. But finally we chose a name that encompassed a variety of topics from sports to television and movie stardom to... well, to just dumb-dom. At the suggestion of Laura and with refinement from Andrea and me, we synthesized the best team name of the week:

Lance Armstrong trades in his Schwinn to ride an Olsen twin.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kate Discovers the Power of Plaid

Long ago and far away, during my time with Mother Yale, one of my favorite events of the year was Sigma Nu's "Champagne and Schoolgirls" party-- by which I clearly mean I went once and stayed for 10 minutes, none of my clothing was short or plaid or tied under my boobs, and we called them Sketchy Nu for a reason. I mean, really.

As it turns out, those uncomfortable minutes in a house on High Street were, in fact, teachable moments. Because, as I determined tonight through an informal experiment, the guys love the plaid.

PROBLEM: Will my outfit attract guys--in particular guys I might deem date-able? And by "date-able" I basically mean "not complete social miscreants." Bonus points if they're literate.

HYPOTHESIS: The combination of a short skirt and boots is attractive; guys will respond accordingly.

girl (me)
skirt-- very cute (like, OMG, it's so totally cute), plaid miniskirt from Gap-- short but not raising-extra-money-by-working-nights short
boots-- black
test subjects-- males
alcohol-- everywhere, including the bloodstreams of girl (me) and males.

1. Go to Adams Morgan. Do not pass Metro Center. Do not collect a good night's sleep after watching The Departed again. Go directly to Adams Morgan.
2. Do a lap up and down 18th Street. Yes, I missed the bar on the first try-- either because the sign is poorly lighted or because I was walking briskly to plow through the crowd of test subjects outside of Tom Tom (see OBSERVATIONS AND DISCUSSION).
a. Note reactions of test subjects encountered.
3. Enter bar; begin drinking; observe.
4. Leave bar; move to new bar via 18th Street; observe.
5. Repeat Steps 3-4 as many times as necessary to accumulate statistically significant number of observations.
6. Depart Adams Morgan; ride Metro to home.

Guys love a girl in a plaid skirt and boots to a degree I did not anticipate. Seriously. The following list details actual comments made to/about me during the course of the night--in Adams Morgan and on the Metro:

~ "Hey, girl! You from Scotland?" [Seriously. Five distinct times. I kid you not.]

~ [As I send a text message to locate my friend] "You texting me, baby?"

~"Hey schoolgirl!" [I lost count.]

~ "Nice skirt." [This was from the bouncer at Nolan's.]

~ [I am clomping furiously down the Woodley Park Metro escalator to make a train. Two guys are standing-- one in my path-- drinking from bottles of Bud.]
GUY IN MY WAY: That is one serious walk you got going there.
ME: Yeah, well, you know. Good job with those bottles.
GUYS: Thanks. Good job with that skirt.

~[GUY and GIRL are exiting red line train at Metro Center, as am I.]
GIRL: So wait, which way do we go?
GUY: I don't know. I'm just following the schoolgirl. [Yes, I'm sure he was referring to me.]

~ [Cute, non-sketchy guy (who is apparently going to visit his girlfriend in McPherson-- boo) and I are discussing our apartment complex-- he lives two building over; go figure. Additional, seemingly non-sketchy, attractive firefighter guy joins conversation, has been considering a condo in our complex, asks us pros and cons.]
FIREFIGHTER GUY: Yeah, well, it must be nice. There sure aren't girls walking around in skirts like that where I live now.

And finally, FIREFIGHTER GUY for the win:
"Can I tell you something? I mean, I'm going to tell you either way. Anyway, that combination of a plaid skirt and boots just does something to guys. I mean, I can't speak for anybody but myself... but I'm willing to say it's the same for a LOT of guys."

Guys-- even guys who seem nice enough and are not at all aggressive or threatening-- are pretty skeezy about this whole plaid skirt thing.

I mean, seriously. "Baby One More Time" was a great song and all (yes, I just said that, and I even kind of mean it-- sorry), but this is not just about Britney back when she was young and spry. This is about some kind of fetishization of the schoolgirl image, and there is plenty that is disturbing about that. I mean, besides that fact that women pay upwards of $50 each October for a $5 plaid skirt and a flimsy white button-down they buy in a bag at VIP because they think it's a cute Halloween costume.

What does it even mean-- the "schoolgirl"? Is it just someone young? Is it someone innocent for a guy to corrupt or debauch? Is it even more nuanced and sinister than that-- she is someone naïve and vulnerable, of whom guys want to take advantage?

That's one thing. The other thing is that I was completely taken aback by the number of guys who cat-called me. If you're going to be like Firefighter Guy and tell me to my face that you think my skirt and boots are hot, fine. Not gonna lie, it was a little awkward, but it was really flattering, and it took some cojones to say that to me-- on the Metro no less, which is notoriously awkward (although everyone trying to catch the last train to Virginia on a Friday or Saturday is pretty friendly). But anonymous cat-calls from people in cabs and lascivious looks from people you pass on the sidewalk are at the very least annoyances, and at their worst these incidences can make women feel threatened and cheap. And tonight I blew by those people with a look of "Oh please," but a person with less of a head on her shoulders or a little more time on her hands might have kneed one of those guys in the aforementioned cojones and gotten herself into some trouble.

(All that said, I totally want to run a control experiment with an equally short skirt that isn't plaid. I mean, it's for science.)

That's it. I am a feminist but not an angry one. I am also a realist-- I want to be judged for my mind, but I know we all judge based on appearances too. And I that's fine-- I am quite secure in the knowledge that I am smart, but every now and again it's nice to have some guy suggest that my mind isn't all that interests him. I don't go to the gym only for my health; I go so my legs look good sticking out of my short skirts and tall boots. What I don't want are guys yelling at me from cabs, insinuating that I-- or any other badass young lady with ridiculous quads and a miniskirt-- am the answer to their prayers for a sexually frustrated parochial school student.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Arts and Sciences

Unfortunately, my plans to write last night went awry, thanks to the tell-tale laundry basket mocking me from the darkness of my closet. But now that I have clean clothes, I am back on track and atoning for my neglect.

It was a great day in Science Times yesterday. In addition to the reproduction and vocal quality article-- which was interesting until the last paragraph, when it became kind of hilarious--there was an article on the biological basis of the arts.

The very watered down summary is that some scientists hypothesize that we engage in the arts because they allow is to replicate the maternal-infant bonding activities of... well, replication. I have made faces at enough babies in enough contexts-- family picnics, the Benetton at M and Wisconsin, church-- to know how this works (yes, even though I am not a baby mama). We make exaggerated facial expressions-- I am a master of the big, goofy smile-- and wait for babies to smile back. And we understand that children learn to speak by listening and mimicking. None of this is earth-shattering.

I have some proto-thoughts about this article, but it's hard to figure out exactly how it relates to the whole range of artistic endeavors. It really highlights the distinction between artistry and creativity, which I think is kind of the humanities version of "a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square"--you can reproduce a melody written by Bach (which I have been known to do, on occasion, in addition to "The Rainbow Connection," my first-ever violin solo). And you're generating something and it's art, but are you really creating? Apparently, you're just indulging an innate urge to replicate patterns you already kind of knew because your mom sang to you.

Really? I like to think that, at some point, we as a species get off the evolutionary couch and make some new stuff. I have friends who construct collages and compose music, and by this hypothesis they are just doing what they are wired to do, but I happen to think that they are really creative.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Love Science Times

I am a huge nerd, and I own that. And if there's one thing I love, it's an interesting science/anthropology article that also takes a swipe at machismo. Seriously, I love a good parting shot.

Back to work; a fuller post tonight.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Welcome Back to DC

This morning, realizing that I had more or less half a loaf of bread, half a jar of peanut butter, a jar of salsa, and 6 baby carrots in the kitchen, I took a rousing trip to Subterranean Safeway, finally ate breakfast at noon, and set about the real business of the day: a run and a field trip to Eastern Market.

About a month ago, I started running every weekend--one good, long run. On the inaugural voyage, I accidentally ran into D.C., by way of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. Since that little miscalculation, I have discovered the way to Memorial Bridge, past the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon, and Arlington Cemetery. My favorite moment every time is finishing a little climb up to the road that crosses the river: to the right is the beautiful entrance to Arlington, and to the left is the Lincoln Memorial. It's pretty stunning. Once I cross Memorial Bridge I mix it up, visiting a different monument or building each week.

But this morning I decided I would combine my two loves--weekend runs and fieldtrips to Eastern Market--with a run to Eastern Market. I mean, really, taking the Metro to go shopping is overrated. And, as MapMyRun told me, it's only a hair over five miles from chez moi.

Arriving at the market around 3:00, vaguely crusty from the salt left by evaporated sweat (overshare, sorry), I got to work wandering. I had two missions: Christmas presents and dining chairs.

Eastern Market did not disappoint. In record furniture buying time (it took us a loooooooong time to furnish our apartment), about 10 minutes, I found and committed to four beautiful chairs that happen to match our table perfectly. (Yes, we bought a table and no chairs. We were all about baby steps.) And having just finished eating dinner at a real dining table sitting in a real chair for the first time ever in the apartment, I can tell you these chairs were an amazing purchase. Also an amazing purchase: the services of Joe, the guy who delivered them. Not only did he help me carry the chairs up to the apartment, but he also told me all about his recent trip to his home in central France. Seriously, what a cool guy. It's that kind of thing that keeps me so excited to visit the Market week after week.

I also found Christmas presents, whose identities are being protected in case their recipients should stumble across this URL.

But the best thing at Eastern Market today-- better than my chairs, better than awesome Joe, better than all the people looking at me like I was crazy to be wearing shorts-- was... the Christmas tree section!! It should have dawned on me much sooner that there would be Christmas trees in the farmer's market, but I didn't occur to me until I saw a miniature Christmas tree farm spilling from the back of a truck. Every size imaginable, including Charlie Brown size. I walked around the trees just to smell them, and now I really want one. Even if it's just a runt. Of course I will have to decorate it with ornaments from Eastern Market.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Kate Lew. Post-Game Report

Once upon a time, I always gave one of my friends a hard time about analyzing everything we did. Seriously, this habit reached its lowest low when we were sitting in a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina:

COMMENTATOR: No, seriously, guys, this was great. We saw the waterfront, and we just walked around the gallery district of Charleston, and now we've had a very authentic, Southern lunch-- [very authentic, Southern women turn around and stare at COMMENTATOR]-- and now we're going to a museum. This is such a rich, cultural day, guys.

I should also note that my friend has a rather booming voice that allowed pretty much everyone in the very authentic, Southern restaurant to hear him. I, of course, thanked him for the Post-Game Report and threw it back to the studio.

And now, in that great tradition, I bring you bits and pieces of The Kate Lew. Post-Game Report. I am somewhat vindicated in this endeavor because my report comes in the wake of an actual game-- The Game, at that. So, without ado, le report, in a quirky wins-losses format:

[note: The Report will soon be illustrated; it would be now, had I not failed to pack my camera cords. Check back!]


W: Best welcome ever, in the form of a scream and a flying attack-hug from one of my favorite people at Yale. I think her family was a little surprised that the first thing she did upon entering her common room was nearly break the girl sitting on the couch, but it pretty much made my day.

W: Dinner at Thai restaurant with rockstar. There is nothing quite like pan-Asian cuisine to strengthen the bonds between a future star and her current groupie. I am already pulling for the band to play the Black Cat and 9:30 Club. Afterparty will be anywhere we can sing sweet, sweet karaoke.

W: Do you know any jokes that start, “So, these 15 people walk into a sushi bar”? After Miya’s, I’m working on some.

L: Five dollars and a little of my soul. Friday night at Toad’s, also known as one of the worst nights at Toad’s ever. Clearly what happens when you take a good thing and let in Harvard students. And I really can’t believe they charged us, although maybe they were just trying to make up all that lost revenue from when they were closed during Senior Week.


W: There's something about taking a tranquil stroll to the Yale Bowl, meandering past taxis--and I believe the bus carrying the Yale football team--stuck in traffic, and arriving at your U-Haul of choice to the tune of cheers and a "mimosa" of orange juice-tinted Andre that warms my soul. And people making pancakes. Especially at 9:30 a.m. I know a lot of people like football, but I maintain that the great American sporting pastimes are baseball and tailgating.

L: North Face fleece glove. Drowning victim—lost in the sea of human bodies that was the attempt to enter the student section of the Yale Bowl. Shockingly, the only thing I took into the Bowl that I did not bring out—though my arm was almost on that list.

L: I don’t actually want to address the score of The Game, beyond noting it on my loss list. As I told Text Message Guy, I went home for a tailgate. As much as I would have appreciated a win, I really just needed an excuse to go stand around a U-Haul with my friends—and if that excuse is a football game, then so be it.

Sidebar: Yes—Text Message Guy is still texting me. The future rockstar thinks it would be funny to maintain correspondence to see how long he will go before he finally asks my name. I think this plan is potentially interesting—and potentially hilarious.

L: Just about all the fluid in my body. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve been that dehydrated since…well, probably since the last Game. There’s nothing quite like mimosas for breakfast to set the tone for a day of healthy hydration.

W: Davenport Oktoberfest stein. Accidentally burgled from the Cottage in the process of dragging people to Toad’s. “Here, you can put it in my bag; I’ll take it back to the Cottage tomorrow morning.” Oops.

W: Further proof that all roads lead to Toad’s. Despite the malaise resulting from approximately 24 hours of drinking, the 7:30 a.m. wake-up thanks to the Harvard morons staying in the next room (it’s not that they go to Harvard—it’s that they’re morons), and the vague recollection of a crowded, awful Toad’s the night before, we cowboyed up and sallied forth to our York Street beacon once again. And it was great. Fortified by several dollar draughts, a SoCo and lime or two, and—I’m pretty sure—a Jagerbomb, I remembered how I ended up on that dance floor so many times before. Because when Toad’s is bad, it’s a mess. But when it’s good, it’s so good-- so good! so good! so good!

W: Did I mention that I was at Toad's because I was not in a theatre striking the set of a mainstage musical? Because it was the first time in history that I went out after The Game, instead of resigning myself to a night of set demolition until dawn. In order to convey my joy, I took a little trip over to the theatre that was the scene of so many of my debacles in the past and said hi to some of my favorite theatre people. Needless to say, I was happy to see them and really happy not to be them.


W: Seeing so many good friends. In terms of the Dport crew-- I mean, there really aren’t sufficient words to explain what happens when there are 30 of us in a room. We started a party in Cottage—which six of the guys used to call home—without the help or permission of the guys who live there now. Well, their keg helped. And in addition to having an '07 Myrtle reunion, I saw 7 years of Dporters, which was cool beyond words.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The One When Kate Broke Everything in her Path

As promised, a Kate theatre disaster story. This post is excerpted directly from an email I sent to my parents the day after the events in question. Enjoy.


Hi! Here is another update… this one is a doozy. brace yourselves; i promise i'm fine. honest.

I handed my French paper in about 2 hours ago; I changed my topic to something much less outlandish (which was the word I used to describe it; you were on the right track with the out- prefix). I think it was good, especially considering the day i had yesterday.

So, Kate, what happened yesterday? Well, you might or might not recall
(I only mentioned it once I think) that in addition to the Dramat mainstage [note: this is Mother Courage, alluded to in the last post], I am doing two other shows this semester. Ine of them opens on Thursday; it's The Mineola Twins by Paula Vogel. My friend asked me to help with it, and it's in a tiny little theatre in the basement of Trumbull (it's call Nick Chapel; it's a converted squash court= très ghetto). The deal with Nick Chapel is that you're not allowed to build an actual set; you can only hang thing from the walls or balcony and use furniture. So I figured it would be easy. Thursday afternoon I went to Home Depot and got the lumber we needed for the hanging pieces, and then I went to the props warehouse to find furniture, and Sunday we started putting stuff in the space.

All the furniture we found was delivered yesterday around 5:30. I had been at the University Theatre (UT) helping with Mother Courage (which was bordering on debacle, still) and ran over to Trumbull. So the designer and my friend and I unloaded all the stuff and started carrying it down the stairs to Nick. This is in the basement, remember, and we needed to go down 2 full flights to get to the floor level of the theatre (remember-- old squash court, so think stadium seating once converted into a theatre). And it's a twisty staircase (so, 7 or so stairs, 90 degree turn, 7 more stairs, etc). Now consider that one set piece is a bar (as in, place where one has a drink) that is about 2.5'x5.5'x4' tall. Equals unwieldy. Now remember that Trumbull is old and sucky and needs a renovation.

So, we get some stuff down one level, and then we decide to move the bar. We get in down the first 7 stairs with great difficulty. The other two people are below/in front of it, and I am above/behind it. So we stop at the first little landing where the stairs turn, and we start trying to move it (in an extra-unwieldy orientation, now it's very tall and skinny) around the corner and down the next 7 stairs. And we get it wedged against the ceiling and un-wedge it and re-wedge it and do it again, and it looks like we are about to make some progress. One of the people notes, "Ooh, be careful of the sprinkler," and we observe the exposed sprinkler head jutting out of the wall.

Not five seconds later, the bar moves down a stair. Taking the sprinkler head off the wall. Releasing a deluge of oily, gross, sprinkler water. Great. Really, awesome.

We all scream like little girls for about a second, before we yell obscenities for a few seconds, before we try to figure out what to do. I duck my head around a corner so I am not getting disgusting water on my face, but my pants and shirt (nothing nice-- build crew clothes) are SOAKED and repulsive. Also, I am terrified of letting go of this thing because I don't know if it will crash down the stairs onto the other people. So I am standing there, looking at the Trumbull dining hall as about 30 different people come by, point, gawk, say "OH MY GOD!", laugh, do some combination of these things, and then run. Bear in mind, water still pouring down the stairs. A random dining hall worker comes out to watch the shitstorm, laughs, says "Oh man! That's gonna be a MESS to clean up!" and goes outside. 10 Davenport freshmen look at me with sympathy and pain and bolt. The fire alarm starts going off (because of us). It's a party. Really.

Finally, I decide that the other people aren't stupid enough to stay standing there forever, so I take my hands off the bar (it doesn't move) and leave the building. I see dining hall worker smoking a cigarette, he asks me what happened. I explain; he replies, "HAHA! So you're responsible for cleaning it up! HA!"

I see one of the people emerge from another entryway, followed by some freshmen who went down to see how flooded it was. Answer: pretty damn flooded. Another person exits with a huge bag of costumes she saved. I go back in (down these other stairs, not the ones in which the bar is wedged) and retrieve my bag and my jacket). By the time I come back up, the director is there, sitting on the steps. We are all absolutely aghast/hysterical/in shock. Did I mention damp?

I look at the collected theatre people. I hear sirens from the approaching fire trucks.

In a very small voice, I say, "You guys… I… I can't stay to clean this up tonight… I have to write a paper… and go back to the UT… and… um…" To which someone replied, "Y'know, at this point, all bets are off, so why don't you go home and shower and then go help Mother Courage."

So I left. On the way I saw these two guys who do some theatre. They asked how I was doing.

KATE: I'm a little squishy. I've been better.
JOHN: [with one of his feet in an air cast with a big bandage]: Um… I mean, I just lost between 30 and 40 percent of my toe.
KATE: I mean… I just flooded three levels of the Trumbull basement.
DAN and JOHN: [look at each other, then at KATE]: Wow.
KATE: Yeah. You hear that fire alarm?
DAN and JOHN: Yeah...?
KATE: Yup, that was me.

Possibly the most amazing part of the story is that I emailed the other people last night to see how everything had gone after I left, and they said that after they all left and came back the building manager had gotten the flood cleaned up, the lighting panels that hadn't been working pre-flood were more or less operable, and that the show is still opening Thursday (barring another FEMA-worthy disaster).

Love, Kate

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The theatre, the theatre, what's happened to the theatre?

I have been meaning to write for a while about going to see Tamburlaine and how doing theatre has made me bad at watching theatre. It's true. Granted, part of the problem was that I didn't really care about the plot of Tamburlaine, but I was also completely distracted by the production of it. For one thing, the theatre itself is beautiful, and they used the back wall as part of the set-- which I love, so sometimes I sort of stared at it for a while.

And then there were the costumes. They were ridiculous. They were lavish, and there seemed to be hundreds of them. I can't explain them; I was in total awe.

There were also times that I just looked up into the fly space to see the lights. Or tried to figure out how they built the set pieces. Or worried that one was going to collapse. The point is that I spent a lot of time not watching the play, because I was watching all the other parts that you're just supposed to experience. And I love it--glimpsing the movement in the wings, seeing the traps open and close, watching the actors set the brakes on the rolling pieces.

I also get major theatre deja vu. The set piece that I thought was going to collapse? It was the cart from Mother Courage. I'm not kidding. All I could think of was the day the cart went missing and then turned up completely disassembled.

And then there was this scene in which Tamburlaine and his men are preparing to stage their attack on some feckless civilization, and they represented tents with banners that were unfurled along the back wall. Except that one of them caught on something, and stayed wonky for the rest of the scene-- it was the American flag from Assassins.

If you have no idea what those two paragraphs mean, it's okay; they are a select few who have been involved the shitstorm that so frequently was the Yale Dramat. But it definitely tinted the lens through which I see theatre.

In the entry I'm going to post approximately 10 minutes from now, I offer a window into what exactly I mean by 'shitstorm.' It's not the Dramat, but it is one of the finest moments of my Yale theatre career.Link

Monday, November 12, 2007

Last Call for Know-It-Alls

Tonight, the Service Line Planning team went on a field trip to Trivia Night at Fado. The trivia was actually pretty tough tonight-- BrainStormer is a fickle mistress-- but we ended up holding our own. In the bathroom just prior to the announcement of the final scores, I heard someone say there was a four-way tie for last place, and I almost demanded that we leave early before we were forced to accept the prize for notable suckitude. As it turned out, though, we ended up right near the middle of the pack-- not my finest trivia hour, but not a catastrophic failure. And I blame part of the lackluster performance on the "assholes who don't seem to care that they paid $300 to see Brice Springsteen tonight," as our oh-so-eloquent Quiz Mistress put it.

As happy as I was to go, and as much as I still love BrainStormer, it was much stranger than I thought it would be. I spent six months trekking to Anna Liffey's every Tuesday night, stalking bar patrons until they gave up their chairs, drinking Newcastle from a coffee glass (that was only about two months-- a story of for another day), and arguing with my friends and the bartender about the answers-- only to wander home in a pack, up Grove Street and through Cross Campus, sometimes to Ivy Noodle, most times to the Cottage to watch Sports Night. It was a huge part of senior year. We planned our Tuesday nights-- and, to he honest, our Wednesday mornings-- to account for our weekly pilgrimage to Whitney Ave.

So it's safe to say that I put Trivia Night at Liffey's, with a team of Dporters and Bobby Shaw, on a pedestal. I knew this. But tonight it hit me exactly how much I compare new experiences to old ones. To be perfectly honest, I judge. A lot. The Quiz Mistress-- though quite funny; the feminist side of me was pretty happy that a funny, snarky woman was running the show-- just wasn't as surly as the Quiz Master back home. Seriously-- she offered to repeat the questions at the end of the round. Everyone knows that you get the questions twice and only twice, and if you don't hear them, tough shit. The matching round was really hard, and it would have been nice to have a little help from our favorite bartender. We needed a sports expert at least three times, and in one case a Yankees fan would have been especially clutch-- and I know that guy, and he would have been at Liffey's.

And who thought it was a good idea to make the team size unlimited? This isn't 'Nam; this is trivia. There are rules.

That said, the D.C. trivia faithful lived up to my team-name expectations. Granted, they had it easy with the writers' strike this week, but some of them really went above and beyond. Though I hereby swear to revive some of the greatest hits from Liffey's, including but not limited to "In the Soviet Union, trivia plays you."

But I also need to dedicate some energy to thinking of new names. I'm not a college senior with no class on Wednesdays anymore. And even though I can appreciate that time and miss it a little-- and I plan to do so for a while-- I can't judge my new life and my new experiences against some gold standard I construct from the past.

That said, I have some serious trepidation about Harvard-Yale-- my whole "Yale football crashing and burning in the second half" prediction aside. I have been building this weekend up in my mind for... probably about a year. This is supposed to be the greatest weekend since graduation, our homecoming. And I have hyped it in my mind to a point at which I'm not sure it can meet my expectations. I live in Washington now; I should know about managing expectations.

But unlike the trivia thing-- which I expected to be great, because what could be more perfect and universal than pub quiz?-- I actually think I'm a little reasonable about The Game. I have a very clear label-- I'm an alumna now. I don't have to help load the U-Haul at 7:00 a.m.; I just have to show up around 9:00 and start drinking. And even though I hope a lot of it will be the same, I know that something will be different. Like, for example, I'm going to look at 25 percent of the people and say "Who the Hell are you? When did they start admitting 12-year-olds? Oh, you're a freshman."

I got my ruby-red, peep-toe pumps back from the shoe-repair place, but I'm pretty sure I can't click them and go back to last year. Sounds like I better go shopping for something a little more sensible. Or just different.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kate Learns That Her Actions Sometimes Have Consequences

When we last saw our heroine, she was tracking down guys in the street and speculating on the potential ramifications of her decisions. Ever self-effacing, she concluded that he would probably never call and the story would end there.

As it turns out, I was half-right. He didn't call. But as I stood in the gift shop of the National Gallery on Saturday (yes, I went back), I felt my phone buzzing in my bag. One new text message. From a 202 number I've never seen before.

Really? I imagined the words. Just an introduction? Maybe an invitation for drinks?


Oh man. It's becoming clear why he didn't want to talk to me in Front Page. It could have something to do with a pathological inability to form a sentence.

To his credit, at least he didn't say SUP. But there was no way I could possibly respond to that. At least not yet. Not until after a couple of Sapporo and my finest rendition of "Livin on a Prayer" to date.

The rest of the hot guy story is unremarkable-- not only did he fail to string together a coherent thought, he also failed to find a group of us at Buffalo Billiards once we finished living out our dreams of karaoke superstardom. Clearly a winner.

The karaoke, though, was the stuff of legend, with one M.K. McCarthy and me soloing on a variety of classics including "Heatwave," "Follow You Down" (the dramatic irony of which I only realized today), and "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere." We were also asked to guest-star in a stirring performance of "I Will Survive." Unfortunately the song queue grew a little too long, so Meg, Marie, and I will have to wait for another day to pay tribute to Kelly Clarkson with our "Since U Been Gone."

Until then, stay classy, Cafe Japone.

Friday, November 9, 2007


As it turns out, the timing of the introduction of my blog was rather auspicious. Exciting things happened to me even before I left my apartment this morning!

Really. My hairdryer tried to kill me.

It doesn't get much more exciting than nearly igniting yourself at 8:07 a.m., and that's how my day began. A fun time for all, especially considering my deep and abiding fear of all things flame-related. With a snap, crackle, pop, spark, and shriek, I awoke from my morning fog with a new appreciation for my life. Once I confirmed that I was not on fire, I closed Benedict Hairdryer in the bathroom where there were minimal flammable objects-- I decided to pretend my roommate's hairspray didn't exist--and went about my merry way. As I write, I am sitting in my unscorched apartment, so all's well that ends well, I suppose.

Work was good. I revealed Long Island Sound to its first audience member--we're obviously very productive all the time. But the next big story of the day occurred once I left the office and wandered over to Dupont. I actually wandered, stopping at my favorite Friday evening activity, the free wine tasting at The Wine Specialist, where I tasted five lovely wines, sampled one enjoyable scotch, and nearly spat out another scotch-- as I told the woman next to me, I got my fill of "smoky" for the day courtesy of my hairdryer.

But I digress-- I do so often; you should know this up front. I finally made my way to Dupont to meet the roomie. Considering the beers at happy hour (thank you, employers!), the wine tasting, and the two scotches I tried, I was probably up 4 drinks to 0 by the time I met her and feeling pretty good. And so we meandered into one of our favorite--by which I mean default-- Dupont bars, Front Page.

Now, we all know that everyone in D.C. is young and single. Well, maybe not. But everyone is checking out everyone, either for themselves or for their single friends. Front Page is a perfect example, and as luck would have it a really attractive guy was talking to his two friends when we walked into the bar. I mean, really, really attractive. Made even more attractive by the fact that we caught each other's glance. Maybe. Can you really tell? Was he looking over my shoulder? Who knows? It's not like he came over to talk to me.

Until he and his friends were ready to leave. He walked toward me, extended his hand...

...and bent down to pick up his umbrella from the ground next to my foot.

Really? Really? Aargh.

Still bent over, he stopped and looked up at me.

REALLY ATTRACTIVE GUY: [speaking from Kate hip-height] Sorry! Just needed to get my umbrella!
[KATE's face falls.]
KATE: Oh! No worries. [smiles, attempting to hide her diappointment]
REALLY ATTRACTIVE GUY: [awkward, hurrying to straighten up] Um, I wasn't trying to grab your leg or anything.

[REALLY ATTRACTIVE GUY and KATE exchange a look. HE exits. KATE, jarred, looks at ROOMMATE]

ROOMMATE: Why did he leave? He had about 20 opportunities to come talk to you. He was starring at you the entire time. I saw him ask his friends about you.

[KATE chugs the rest of her beer, bends down, digs through bag with new resolve.]

KATE: Do you have a pen? I can't find a pen.
ROOMMATE: Yeah, why?
KATE: I'm conducting a social experiment. I have to catch him before he gets too far and I look like a desperate stalker.

[KATE, sober enough to know what she's doing but drunk enough not to care, scribbles her phone number on the back of a theatre ticket, the first piece of paper she found. She caps the pen and hands it back to ROOMMATE.]

KATE: I'll be right back.

Yep. I left the bar, followed him a block and a half down the street, tapped him on the shoulder, and gave him the theatre ticket, saying only, "In case you decide you wanted to grab my leg."

My roommate and I had a good laugh about it when I marched back into the bar, triumphant. It's not as though it was a significant gesture. I didn't even write my name on the ticket--all Really Attractive Guy knows about me is my area code and my seat number for Tamburlaine. But even if it doesn't result in a meaningful relationship, at least my little chase makes for a good story, and half the time that's all I'm after. Of course it would be a better story if he called-- it would be hilarious, and it would add the element of surprise-- but maybe that's when I talk to the guy in the bar instead of being the crazy girl who follows him down the street. I'll get there.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sunday in the Gallery with Edward

Sunday afternoon, I ventured over the river and through the Mall to the Edward Hopper exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. I decided to go alone, because it was easier, and because I've realized that I am an antisocial gallery goer-- a revelation came at the expense of a guy who once suggested we go to the Portrait Gallery together.

The whole Portrait Gallery experience, which I have since termed a pseudo-date, was deeply awkward. Am I walking too quickly? Too slowly? Does it matter if I want to look at the Louisa May Alcott bust for five minutes? Do I care if it matters? I don't care, because I am awkward. I embrace it. But ill-advised pseudo-dates in galleries go south in a hurry when people start talking about art. In the case of Portrait Gallery Guy, his comment on a painting of Sandra Day O'Connor confirmed it: he was blandish.

But on Sunday, alone in a room full of people, I witnessed a crash-and-burn that far surpassed PGG's uninspired remark. As I wandered around the last room, I fell into line next to Fratty. Fratty was wearing the uniform, of course-- khakis, button-down, sweater, crew cut. He was clearly there with the woman to his left, and he was clearly trying to exercise his wit and insight. As they shifted their attention away from "Nighthawks," he turned to her.

FRATTY: [excited] I don't know. I just feel like all the people in his paintings are talking about... I don't know, something cool, you know?
WOMAN: Really? I feel like they're not talking. At all.
[beat. FRATTY looks like he has been slapped in the face.]

It hurt. Even through the schadenfreude, I felt bad for him, just a little. I mean, he tried. But didn't he read the notes on the exhibit? Come on now.

Debacle-watching aside, the exhibit was amazing. I struggled with the paintings from summers in New England. The isolated houses and Coast Guard stations seemed out of step with the shoreline in my mind-- a shoreline not of houses, but of children running out of houses toward the beach to play in innertubes or to the creek to catch crabs. I was struck by the winter-ness of the scenes. No matter how many times I reminded myself that they depicted summer, I found myself transported to the beach in February, when there are no cars at the cottages and the marsh grass is brown and the sun is bright but not warm. It made me excited to go home for the first time in three-and-a-half months.

I have more to say, but it is late, and the alarm clock will sound too soon. Before I go, though, a few notes about upcoming posts I have begun to formulate in my mind:

*On seeing Tamburlaine: How my love of theatre has made me a terrible theatre goer. No really, I'm a ruined audience member.
*The Game 2007: I am optimistic that I can keep this from becoming a catalog of mishaps and bad decisions, but it wouldn't really be me if that stuff were completely absent.
*Remembrance of Times Past: I have done a lot of ridiculous things, some of which are suitable for publication. Those stories will appear here.

Nighty night.


So this is a little awkward... surprise. I swore for a long time that I would never be a blogger. But I have recently had a change of heart, fueled in large part by inspiration from other nascent bloggers and my stock of anthropomorphisms yearning to breathe free.

And what better time than now? Still settling in to a new life, still adjusting to the nine-to-five... or rather the 8:30 to 5:30, still trying to find chairs for the dining table. Seriously, if anyone reads this and feels compelled to make his or her presence known through an offer of attractive, reasonably priced chairs, then this blog will be a success.

So, without further ado, I declare my intent to string together a few cogent, clever, or entertaining thoughts every now and again-- perhaps more frequently than that-- if for no other reason, then to prove that I can.