Gratitude

Last weekend I was in Shenandoah with Mark. After a less-than-perfect departure – I maayyyy have damaged Mark’s car while pulling out of the driveway, sorry Mark! – our trip was heavenly. There was poor cellphone reception. We hiked about the mountains, tasted wine, stuffed ourselves with delicious food, got lost in the back roads, read, relaxed, and drove along Skyline Drive at sunset.

When we came home, I saw the news that Santa Rosa, where my grandma calls home, was on fire. (Thankfully I knew that she was out of town.)  The contrast between my idyllic vacation and all the horrible disasters that have happened lately was more apparent than ever. It was hard to go back to work on Tuesday, and all week long I felt like I never quite caught up. Part of me was in Shenandoah on the top of a mountain, part of me was closely following the news in Santa Rosa, and all of me was dazed and confused.

Needless to say, I was in sore need of yet another weekend, and now that Sunday evening is here, somehow I am relaxed. Yesterday I prepared for a visit from a friend from college. This included a deep clean of my apartment and a dreaded visit to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up sheets for my couch, which folds out into a full sized bed, and the tossing of dead house plants.

I also undertook the effort of finally, FINALLY putting up curtains on my windows. I did not admit to my friend when she arrived that evening that I had been putting this task off since March, nor did I encourage her to look at the bottom of my curtains and discover that I was in too much of a rush to hem them.

Today we hung out, I went to Pilates, read a murder mystery, and slowly pulled together the compents of a fancy lasagna with greens and ricotta.

The theme of the week was gratitude. I suppose I should try and find a more eloquent way of commuting this, but I am too hungry and that lasagna that I just pulled out of the oven looks fantastic. I am grateful that my home is in one piece, I have a job to go to, my loved ones are safe, to know that I am loved, to be just two hours away from mountains, that I only have three rooms to clean and don’t have to deal with pet hair, I have old friends, enjoy cooking, can afford to take exercise classes, and that cold beer is in the fridge.

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Dancing

It’s hard to explain a love of social dancing to those who do not dance. I say this because over the weekend I did a lot of tango dancing, last night I went tango dancing, and tomorrow I will, too. So all I can think of when I sit down to write this blog post is dancing – not the decent weather we’ve been having, my functioning air conditioning, the fabulous eggplant parmesan I made over the weekend – dancing.

When I’m in the zone tango dancing, I feel a special sort of  connection with the world around me. My body, the music, moving through space, and another person, all mysteriously and magically acting in synchronization. How can the mundane experiences of life compare?

What’s more, a few months ago I started learning how to lead in earnest. I had dabbled, of course, since it always annoyed to rely on men to dance when a good song comes on, but I hadn’t made a concerted effort to take classes and really expand my vocabulary. There aren’t that many good lady leaders out there, likely since it’s hard enough to learn one role, much less two. Plus I think women are judged for learning how to lead, since it implies that they feel like they’ve mastered following, which often is not the case. (Even I feel like I judge myself on this account.) Toss in perceptions about sexuality, and while it’s not unheard of, usually guys lead and women follow.

Therefore, I find it immensely satisfying to be honing my leading skills. Now that I am, and things are starting to click in my body, I am addicted. To top it off, I can feel myself developing a style, and that style errs on flashy. If I’m going to lead, I may as well do so in a way that fills the guys with admiration, and dare I say, hopefully one day, a bit of envy… Screw you, gender norms! Huzzah, tango!

Please enjoy this video of one of my lady leading sheroes, and also a great example of what real Argentine tango dancing looks like.

 

Bliss

Things are looking up! After eight long weeks, as of Friday I finally have central air conditioning.

(Naturally an hour after my installation folks left, I heard the routine drip drip drip that has so haunted me these past months, and found that my AC unit was truly leaking water. Again. I popped a bowl underneath, turned off my AC unit, called my installation company, and someone came the next day first thing to jerry-rig a solution. I still woke up in the middle of the night out of paranoia. Thus far the solution seems to have worked, but I’m supposed to “keep an eye on it,” so the bowl is staying for the foreseeable future. At least, until I stop losing sleep.)

No longer sunk in a deep malaise due to dense heat, I was finally able to throw myself into a deep-clean of my apartment yesterday. Dust, grime, dead plants, scary items molding in the fridge, all gone! I feel a new internal calm to match.

Air conditioning also meant that I was able to turn on my oven for the first time in ages, and I used it for the best possible purpose: dessert. Specifically, cream puffs filled with vanilla pastry cream and fresh plums. They went marvelously with the champagne that I’d been hording to celebrate this very moment, and my special guest was most appreciative.

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My bedroom also looks marvelous these days because of the beautiful new quilt made by my grandmother that arrived this week. (Thank you, Grammie!) I love it, and it goes wonderfully in my home. This photo doesn’t do it justice.

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Let’s see what else…Things are picking up at work at last, I just bought some amazingly cheap tickets to visit friends in Europe over Thanksgiving, and the Republicans are tripping over themselves in their efforts to dismantle the ACA. Huzzah!

A million weeks later

A million weeks later and I still have no air conditioning. It is mid-July in DC. Walking outside is like being in a sauna you cannot escape. In contrast, I just got back from glorious Portland, where the temperatures rise above 70 F during the day and yet dip below 60 F every night, mountains are on the horizon, and the air feels good in your lungs. Can you blame me for being out of sorts?

Things came to a head yesterday when it seemed I could do no right in any realm of my life. I had hoped that this morning I would have a fresh start, but instead my streak of incompetency continued! (Three phrases: laundry, Comcast, and US postal service.) So I called my mom, who passed along the wisdom of the ages: this too shall pass.

This too shall pass.

So I took myself out for a late lunch to my very favorite lunch spot –  an exceptionally tasty Japanese rice bowl spot with reasonable prices and a bar where I can dine without feeling self-conscious about being alone. Then I came to the bright, air-conditioned cafe where I am now. I spent a long while chatting with an old friend, and moved through a few items on my to-do list.

It is now already past 5pm, and much of my to-do list is still not done, but I am feeling more at peace. Tonight I will watch a movie while sitting on my couch directly in front of my fan, drink a cold beer, and go to sleep early. As my mother would say, tomorrow is another day.

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The above picture is from the Portland Japanese Garden – one of my many favorite places in PDX.

Adventures in Adulting

Last weekend I was in Minneapolis visiting a friend from high school – sorry for no post! This week I have fewer excuses, other than helping someone move far away. By far away I mean we’ll now be a half-hour vs. fifteen minute drive apart – no kittens either, boo! But as he points out, he’ll be saving loads of money this way, and, even kittenless, his new roommate is awesome.

Meanwhile, while some people are saving gobs of money by changing their living situation, I seem to be stumbling across new ways of spending it now that I’m a homeowner. For example, my AC unit needs to be replaced. Please don’t ask me how much it will cost, but rest assured that it is way more than anyone wants to spend on something so unfun – the only thing equally dreary would be some sort of egregious car repair. You know, something crazy expensive but still cheaper than buying a new car.

Already my AC unit has caused quite the saga. I realized something was wrong because there was water dripping from my ceiling. (Astute readers of this blog will note that this is now the second time I’ve had water dripping from my ceiling, and I hope will agree with me that twice in one year for this sort of thing is really quite enough.) When the plumber came and discovered that the issue was with the AC unit, he advised me to call the AC repair people, for which there was a several day wait. Naturally when the repair person came, he discovered that it was beyond repair, and so on and so forth. It’s now been two weeks that I haven’t had AC, two precious weeks during which if I’d contacted the replacement AC guys to begin with a new unit would already be on its way to me. Instead, since I only agreed to a bid on Friday I am still five weeks out from tomorrow.

Thankfully it hasn’t been too hot yet, and I still have my old window AC unit tucked away in my closet. Now I need to figure out how to install it properly – last time I could fake it by propping it up on an outside brick, and this time I don’t have that option. Also, it’s fine that I never got around to repainting my walls. The removal of the old AC unit will mean that a portion of my ceiling will be going with it, and I’ll need to hire someone else to come and put up drywall afterward.

Adulthood is fun!

(For real, though, I’m doing very well by and large, and if these are the types of lemons that life is handing me, I’ll take ’em.)

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Weekending

Remember how I was itching for change two weeks ago? Well, for the moment I have tried to deal with this feeling the way that all usual people do – I got an extreme haircut. Something “sassy for summer,” that’s what I told the lady at the salon. Now my hair, which was fairly long, is now a bob above my shoulders and only mostly fits into a ponytail. I love it. I feel sassy. Plus, now that the heat is arriving with a vengeance, I really appreciate having less natural insulation.

I’m sorry I didn’t write last weekend, but I had such a nice time that you’ll have to forgive me. On Saturday I had the most slothful day in recent memory, in which all I did was go to Pilates, make fancy cinnamon swirl bread, and then eat it while watching Game of Thrones. (I’ve never seen Game of Thrones before, which means that I have five seasons to get through before watching the season premiere in a few weeks at a friend’s house.)

Then on Sunday the weather was perfect and I repented for my sins by going on a morning jog and taking a long walk to scope out art at antique shops, followed by an amazing performance of Carmina Burana at the Kennedy Center and an al fresco dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant with a certain someone. Ah! it was lovely.

The reason why I’m writing today is that I actually have another wonderful weekend in store. Tomorrow we’re going to Baltimore! We already have tickets to visit the aquarium, and we’ll be spending the night and making a real mini vacation of it. I am so excited!

Behold the welcome
and longed-for
Spring ushers in joy,
purple flowers

fill the meadows
And the sun brightens everything.

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Windy Days

Have you ever seen the movie Chocolat? It’s the one that takes place in a small French town and stars Juliette Binoche as a chocolate maker and Johnny Depp as her guitar-playing Gypsy lover. As someone who enjoys chocolate, anything even vaguely French, rocking manouche jazz, and Johnny Depp, this movie has always spoken to me.

Plus, I’ve always been sympathetic towards the main character, Vianne – she is a bit of a vagabond, moving from place to place with the north wind, helping heal people through chocolate. In the movie, the north wind is portrayed as a powerful physical and spiritual force that continually presses Vianne onward, never letting her settle down.

I can identify. At times some weird sort of supernatural energy overtakes me, and I have the deep, profound urge to GO. (I also like chocolate.) In the past I’ve been able to cope with this feeling through drastic changes in scenery. Thanks to my mortgage, this isn’t quite an option anymore.

Don’t get me wrong – I truly adore my one bedroom co-op. It’s my little haven, my home base. Plus, I enjoy living in DC. The city fits me well, and I still feel like I have so many opportunities here that I don’t want to leave anytime soon.

But I can feel a disquiet beginning to haunt me again. My soul is restless. I am yearning for an adventure. Hmm, what shall I plot next…

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