Thursday, September 10, 2009

Packing has quickly turned our apartment into a disaster. Boxes everywhere. All the nice things were packed away first, so the stuff still sitting around is all basic necessities and assorted (usually unnecessay) tidbits that don't belong with anything else. Me zeal wanes. I put down the tape and am going to bed.

. . .

And then: I walk by the 2nd bedroom/office. There is Brian, Star Trek opening credits blaring, and he's dusting a video game figurine. Apparently when I go to bed, he transforms into a charicature of his own nerdiness.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Moving: 1 week away

Packing has begun. Boxes, boxes, boxes, rolls of sticky tape, and crumpled newspaper. I've packed books and movies, clothes, shoes, frames and photo albums, board games and kitchen appliances, and it's only beginning to make a dent.

We will close early on the house, a week from today. We've hired movers for Sunday, for the heavy TV and mattresses, furniture, and hopefully get it done in one day. Saturday, we will have keys to our house and a whole day to ... sit on bare floors? Wander around and discover things? Lie in the hammock? Paint? Oooh, there's so much to think of doing. Maybe given the unavoidable mess that will come with moving in, we should enjoy the house empty for a day first.

Monday, August 24, 2009

beyond the sale

I think I've become overwhelmed by sales. White sales, pink sales, end-of-summer and pre-fall clearances. This morning my inbox offered half-priced Marc Jacob watches and spa services, free samples, free shipping, shoes, dresses, and two different Mad Men-inspired collections from different online retailers. I've been looking at sofas and can't narrow down what stores to consider, nevermind what style, shape, and color to look for.

Maybe buying a house shifted my priorities, or maybe the ease with which we found a house jostled my previously-insatiable desire for marathon bargin hunting -- if we can settle on the biggest purchase of our lives with relatively little searching, why did I spend weeks last autumn considering a purse? And/or maybe recession-driven mega sales throughout retail-land have numbed my synapses to the joy of sale signs.

It could also be that it's 9:45 on a Monday morning, which is not really a time to shop. As underwhelmed as I feel right now, yesterday morning's visit to Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads to sell some old clothes left me with a cleaner closet as well as two new dresses -- two perfect, pretty, well-constructed, irresistable dresses.

Monday, August 3, 2009


We're stalking a house. Constant checking that it hasn't left online listing, clicking through the photo gallery in a loop (front side, living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bedroom, bathroom ... ). Street view, tax records, bus routes to and from the neighborhood. There is not more information online for me, but I keep looking. What couch would fit the living room? How could we use the basement?

We are not yet pre-approved, and so not yet able to make an offer, but may meet with our agent tomorrow morning to write one up to be submitted when the loan approval has been underwritten.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I was wary of contemporary theater after a man stripped down to a giant bird costume last season, smashing a reasonable play into postmodern oblivion -- but I was willing to risk it for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (I don't really know what postmodern means in theater terms, but I'm going to hope it applies here because I like how it sounds.)

I love the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I remember reading the book jacket when I was a kid, and couldn't believe that this was an old story, that something so scandalous and so true-feeling was written by some olde timey guy with an enormous mustache. I'm not sure if actually read the book or not, any more than I remember my stacks of Nancy Drew and Baby-Sitters Club. But I was smitten with the story, and if I never saw more than a mid-90s film version, I was still a devotee of the idea that the meek and mild-mannered might be terrorists in their off hours.

The ACT production added a more substantial female character (none in the book) and Mr. Hyde was played by all the other actors in turn. The latter is the interpretive detail that made me hesitate, but the execution was seamless and effective. It's hard now to imagine the same Mr. Hyde as acted by one actor, or even by the same actor as played Dr Jekyll.

I don't know that Hyde really seemed more multifaceted because of the multiple actors varying portrayals -- one good actor could have accomplished this. What if did give was a disjointed, loopy feeling you might expect from opium-induced schizophrenia, and which highlighted the muddled nature of the story's moral message. It was all very clean on the surface, spare set and costumes, clear articulate dialogue, but very mixed-up when you had to follow Hyde's actions and thoughts. The character was elusive, beyond human.

Dr. Jekyll could have been simplistic in comparison, a one-dimensional goody-two-shoes foil for the complexity of our darker desires, etc. But the actor was appealingly awkward at times, convincingly desperate, and increasingly morally ambiguous. He may be The Good One, but he's incredibly flawed. His face was somehow perfect for the role, kinda young and weak and English-looking.

I love it, but I don't personally relate to the story like I did as a kid. I wanted to wreak havoc, to have immense, unsuspected power over people, didn't want to be pigeonholed as a well-behaved Jekyll unless it meant my hidden deviousness was that much more poignant. The story represented possibilities of adventure. Now, it is much more frightening to think that I might unwillingly harbor instincts toward evil; that the Hyde in us is not manifested through voluntary trouble-making but through unintentional malicious actions. I didn't get this when I was a kid -- that the story was about uncontrolled madness, not bad behavior. It's this that makes the story frightening.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

That's the news from Washington.

Two unfortunate Washington stories on the front of today. A second-generation candymaker in Leavenworth burnt his Alpine-themed shoppe to the ground with kerosene lamps, sugar-scented smoke billowing from the hills, handwrittten recipes charred like a marshmallow over the fire. Ironically, the store had been particularly profitable recently, thanks to recession-driven need for cheap indulgence.

The second story was far worse. A man, 34, discovered his wife was leaving him and killed their five kids, 7-16, then himself. The daughter girl who helped him discover his wife's infidelity was 16, conceived when the man was 18 and the mother 13. I can't think of words to describe the tragedy of this woman's life -- impregnated at 13 by an older man, tied to the trailer park for 16 years, to attempt some escape at the age of 29 or 30 that leads to the murder of your five children and the suicide of your husband. The deaths themselves are a horror, undoubtedly, and maybe she should be considered lucky to not be among the dead. She certainly doesn't seem lucky to be alive, though.

A comment on the said the mother should share some of the blame -- that she was "out galavanting with other men when her kids were at home and needed some parenting." I make no excuses for the woman's flaws and failures -- I'm sure she had many. But the percent of blame I'd place on the mother in this scenario is an invisible sliver of a pie cart occupied primarily by the father, with a solid second wedge going to oppressive social dynamics.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I just read a fashion memoir written by a 19-year old. "Peaches Geldof looks back at her unforgettable wardrobe woes, and explains how she finally got it together." Finally got it together? For fucks sake, she's not even finished with puberty yet.

I realize that in the world of young fashion she is some sort of ... not icon, but maybe role model. If she had recounted the last couple of years with some modesty or irreverence, and acknowledgment that at 19 one has not yet actually discovered ones' self, I could respect the self-indulgent self-reflection. But she begins her fashion journey a bit too young to take seriously ("By 2002, I was a carefree 12-year old." Is there any reason on earth anyone would care if a 12-year old wore pink checkered shorts? No. Well, maybe other 12-year-olds.), and she offers no actual reflection on her identity or personal development, just a timeline of trends she passed through. I'm sure if I were 15 (and rich enough to actually shop for my own clothes), I'd really love the piece. Unfortunately, I am 25, and it makes me want to trade my free subscription to Nylon for Better Homes and Gardens.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I met my niece Ella today.

My dad is moving to Kansas in two weeks, so we had lunch at Ben and Katie's, I suppose as a re-introduction between his children before he goes away.

The baby had enormous cheeks. I said she was cute and Ben said, "Well, sure, she has our blood!" It was jarring, not so much that Ben and I are related, but to hear something that implies it's significant. I don't consider it meaningless; I just never considered it at all: that being related could have implications, that his children could look like me somehow, or that we share something based on family lines.

I went shopping with Caitie on Thursday. We don't look anything alike (in the face, at least). I've always considered her entirely my sister, but being family was about shared experience, not blood. Maybe our values or mannerisms or sense of humor, things I think we share most, were passed on genetically. These have value to me, and knowing that she's the only person who knows my childhood in detail, understands what it was like to grow up with my mom, her father on weekends, our stepdad. This knowledge that we'll carry certain profound impressions through our lives is what makes us sisters; that we're half related has little more significance to me than the idea that we're half un-related.

Rod and I had dinner with Ben and Katie once a couple years ago, and I went to their wedding a year or two before that. I saw Ben occasionally when we were kids, but I was maybe 5 at the oldest and my idea of family was pretty much shot -- or revised to include only a mom and baby sister. Comprehending that this older kid was somehow my brother didn't compute, and I never felt inclined to consider it.

If I had considered it more recently, I would have realized that regardless of my ambivalence toward knowing my dad, I would like to know Ben and Katie, and now Ella. Katie is a teacher, earned her masters at the UW. She maybe studied art history. Ben cooks, apparently, braises lamb shanks. They have a great house about two blocks from my Ravenna apartment, and judging from the decor they have good taste. I want to meet more babies; they have a baby. Presumably, I could try to get to know them now, but we've lived nearly within walking distance for years, so it's a bit odd to think of it today. And there are probably hundreds of Seattle couples with backgrounds and interests compatible with mine and Brian's, but apparently being family means a shortcut to friendship - you don't have to get lucky meeting someone at work, you can assume connections based on blood, then learn about them later.

So If I had considered it, I might have made some effort to know them. The implications of that, though, are barely fathomable. Would we actually have spent time together? Would I have known my dad better, seen some better side of him that made me like him more? Would the idea of having a brother mean something different to me (mean something to me)? It might have changed my concept of myself within some tenuous family structure, or might not have changed anything. Introductions are usually meant to resolve some mystery (Oh, you're the one. Now I see why everyone likes him so much. I didn't realize she'd be so tall.), but today was just questions.

Friday, March 27, 2009

OMG I love TV

Seen on an MSN slide: "House: A woman who believes a cat has predicted her death desperately seeks House's help."

Goodbye April budget.

Hello Kate Spade.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Children are our future, supposedly.

Beer and snacks last night with another young couple, half of whom Brian knows through MSN. Another extended conversation about job prospects for humanities majors in a time of economic turmoil.

Brian starts prepeqs for a masters program next Monday. I do not envy homework, but the moving forward with new skills and ideas, the opening of new doors, the meeting of new people.

I looked at the UW College of Ed Programs again and still feel little excitement for Higher Ed Leadership and Policy Studies. Maybe if my job felt stagnant or I felt underqualified or I was actively trying to move up the ladder (or if there really was a ladder). It's not that grad school is wholely unappealing - an art history degree would be exciting, or literature.

Or a Masters in Teaching. Then I remember I've spent almost no time with kids, and very little time off a college campus. Would I teach high school social studies? First grade? I have no frame of reference, I can't even imagine what a first grader is like ... smallish, I guess, but more cute or more obnoxious? Do they read novels in first grade? Do they comprehend history or international relations? Do they pick out their own clothes? Shouldn't I have met some small children by this point in life?

I emailer SAM about volunteer opportunities with kids and the director is sending my contact info to the person who runs the youth and community programs. It might be more enlightening to tutor, but I know SAM is a solid place to volunteer, and helping toddlers paste feathers to masks seem like a safer step toward exploring my abilities with youth.

Friday, March 20, 2009

First day of spring

It hasn't exactly been winter: no frost, no snow but big splashy flakes last Sunday. Wintery sentiments of cocoa by the fire (or TV) gave way back in January to New Years' resolutions, now also long gone. I went spring clothes shopping with Melissa a month ago, and had to try on my new skirt again to remind myself what it was like. This awkward interim between seasons maybe be thanks to the forces of marketing more than nature, but it's still a relief to officially say today is Spring.

There's a pink tree outside my office window, and the rain has let up momentarily. Campus is mostly empty.

Nate and Melissa are looking at houses. $300k, three bedrooms, a loan at 4%, a zipcode outside the city. A yard for a pony-sized dog.

It was a shock to my identity to consider living outside Seattle. Wallingford doesn't exactly bustle, but we've got fancy cupcakes and a view of the city from the bottom of the street. People look happy and interested when you say you live in Wallingford. No one says, "Oh, Lynnwood! I love that neighborhood."

But, browsing Redfin, houses get bigger and prices smaller as you click further from Seattle. Developments with names like Windy Willowpines advertise low rates through preferred lenders. Pristine homes in gated communities offer benefits that make me feel both sick and entitled: "A security entry gate to ensure that only friendly faces are at your doorstep." I'm again conflicted to edge my cursor carefully away from my old neighborhood, my own school district. I may become comfortable outside the city, but I don't want Everett on my address labels.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


So I started tracking all my money in December, on It tracks everything, categorizes it, charts your trends, and checks your budgets. (I'm 21 cents over my coffee budget for the month. Mint sent me four emails.) So it's great. I spent hundreds -- hundreds -- less on clothing in January than I did on December. And today, when I pulled up my monthly Mint overview on my iPhone, I actually saw where my money was. I knew what I had, not just a vague feeling of elation (payday) or desperation (every day except payday), I had actual knowledge.

I think it's easy when you have very little money to feel blasé about it. If you feel like it will never be enough, why bother tracking your pennies as they slip too quickly away? Who cares about my measly expenses? My contribution to the global economy is negligible. But even if it's not much, each of my dollars is still as valuable as any dollar held by anyone else.

I was trying generally to save some money last autumn. I was putting money into retirement, and some into savings, paying off my debt well above the minimums. And I was shopping, plenty, but I thought, "if I am actually saving money, too, maybe I'm not so bad off. Maybe I'm managing my money just fine. This is how it should be."

Instead of being a happy moment, though, it was kind of terrifying. I'm not sure if it was the idea of being responsible and competent, or disappointment that I was not rebelling against anyone, or maybe a thought that I could have spent even more money somewhere and still scraped by. Or just discomfort at an unfamiliar idea -- financial insecurity is a way of life. But honestly, the idea that maybe I was just fine made me want to rack up some debt, tie myself up in our great American culture of credit. It sounds absurd, but I went to a seminar for women about money last week, and many of the concerns women confessed that evening were guilt and insecurity over having money (as opposed to concerns over not having it) -- alienating family and friends, feeling undeserving of it or unable to manage it.

I think watching my transactions over the last couple months has made the idea of managing money less frightening. My money is not good or bad, and I'm not better of worse for having it. But it is mine, and I'm glad to be more familiar with it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Heard on the bus.

Red-haired guy: "Are you submitting that petition today?"

Guy with beard: "Yeah, [something about 6,000 signatures]."

Me (internally): "Stop talking so loudly. It's early and no one else cares."

Red: "And they're thinking of raising tuition how much?"

Beard: "7-10%, hopefully raising financial aid too, blah blah blah."

Red: "That's a lot. I hope they're thinking of cutting other programs. Maybe that 12-0 football team."

Me (internally): "7% is normal. They will cut other programs. The football team brings in money, jerkoff."

Beard: "Yeah ... "

Red: "I mean, how many more f-ing art history majors do we need?"

Me (internally): "I want to stab you with a paintbrush."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Winter in fifteen paragraphs.

Maybe I will work backwards.

Today is January 1, 2009, meaning last night was New Year's Eve. We hosted a party and, per usual, I worried excessively about what to wear, feared no one would come (or they would come and marvel at their awful luck in finding the worst party ever), and Brian and I argued over what champagne to buy at Costco.

The party began at 8, so Jill showed up at 8:30 and was the only person there for 20 minutes. Then Sarah showed up with three friends (made me feel very popular and briefly nervous), then Nate, Melissa, and a friend of theirs, then Trevor and Matt, then a friend of Jill's. Watched my Martha appearance (felt relieved people are not appalled by the nerdiness of this), Taboo, people left, more arrived, entertaining post-midnight call from Sarah snd friends, Melissa and Buster fell asleep, a stranger vomited on the bath rug, Rock Band. 3 am approached, and I began clearing empty glasses and crushed crackers from the table, which I felt was a perfectly obvious hint that the two-hour second round of Taboo should end. Everyone eventually put on their shoes and left. Happy 2009.

Snow fell from the middle of the month through Christmas, and I spent a stressful 24 hours from Christmas Eve to mid-Christmas day calling my mom and sister and changing our minds about whether Brian and I should brave Darrington's feet of snow and roads of ice. I didn't mind so much when, on Christmas Eve, mom called and said we should postpone. I've no particular sentimentality for dates. Then mom called again, late, and in her most Lifetime-Original-Movie-Not-Without-My-Daughters voice, said we would have Christmas together. At 9 am the next day, Caitie called to say it the snow was horrendous and she was afraid she'd be trapped in Darrington. I cried, felt like I'd failed the entire holiday season by being the only one absent. Mom gave the phone to Caitie, who reassured me. Brian and I stayed home, and I baked endlessly. I licked ganache from the spatula and gained five pounds.

In December, I went to the office seven days. We were closed for two of those, closed early a couple times, and generally dead the rest.

I hate the need to reiterate so much that I can't choose my words better. This feels like the Cliff Notes version of my life.

I spent two and a half weeks on vacation, visiting the friends who've left me for the northeast. Jill, Boston, and Northampton, MA were last. The cuteness of Northampton made me question my city-focused single-mindedness. Then, I've never been patriotic, or awed by US History, but felt both proud and impressed to see the site of the first public school (Boston). The Harvard campus was less interesting. The cold there made me want to cry.

I wasted time in Manhattan, but was glad for the freedom to do it. Natural History Museum, Whitney, wandered Greenwich, saw Willem DeFoe at an art opening in Chelsey, drank far too much coffee, drank far too much vodka at least once, spent all my money on food, only took the wrong train once, saw a couple Daily friends and slept one one's couch, was asked for directions many times and felt very New York about it, walked through Central Park and Macy's, slept in and went to bed late, drank wine and talked to Kelsey about men and books and birth control.

Also, went to a Martha Stewart taping and had my very own question selected as the first to be asked. Most exciting moment ever.

It was wet-snowy and cold, and I spent almost no time with Sarah, but Ann Arbor was great for wandering by myself after a couple days of constant contact with the six other people staying in Lysondra's Chicago studio. The law quad of Michigan is the perfect image of College Campus.

Chicago. Thanksgiving was basically over by the time I showed up (Sarah had already passed out tipsy and re-awoken once). I sat on the floor and ate pie, then we went out. My first night out in ages, it felt epic and fantastic. Great to meet new people, though a studio is a bit cozy for seven of us and it's not as great to be the only person who doesn't know everyone else so well. The last day, everyone but two of us went to the library, so we went to the Chicago Art Institute then walked around for far too long before meeting everyone else for dinner Greek - drinking ouzo with Sarah reminded me of Berlin. 

So that's how I spent 2 1/2 weeks.

My memory gets fuzzy this far back, but I assume Autumn quarter ended well. I had two seminar courses to lead, Women in CSE and a new freshmen seminar (19 men, 1 woman). 

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time, and everything went well enough. My parents look significantly older every time I see them -- the way small children grow so quickly, they seem to be shrinking, wrinkling, speaking differently. My birthday passed without acclaim. 

Obama was elected president. We drank champagne, relieved and excited for change.