Our bus smelled like paint thinner.  I'll just say it.  Not that I'm complaining about a 17 dollar bus ride to NY, but let's just say I'm glad I almost always wear a scarf so that on this particular occasion I could cover my mouth and nose to protect my unborn children from what was certainly an unsafe level of paint thinner on board the bus.  (Is there really a "safe" level of paint thinner to have floating around in an enclosed space?)  Our bus was a bit late, so most of the ride from DC to NYC was in the dark - but no matter - I'm the podcast queen.  I found a podcast called "The Bowery Boys: New York City History" and, in the spirit of Halloween, we listened to New York ghost stories as the windows of our bus slowly fogged up from all of the heavy breathing and paint thinner smell induced coughing.  It was almost as scary as the drive through Baltimore :)

We arrived at about 1:30 AM at Penn Station in NY and the place was hopping.   So much so that in the subway you really couldn't tell weather it was night or day - except for the ridiculous "club" stilettos I saw on many a teenage girl.  Oh no they didn't.  They were a little too reminiscent of Marilyn Manson for me.  We stayed in Brooklyn and loved it.  (Another airbnb success.)  We didn't spend a lot of time in Brooklyn, but traveling to and from Manhattan on the subway we got at least a little glimpse of life in the boroughs.
We spent most of the first day seeing shows (we'll visit that later) and walking from place to place singing theme songs from television or movies that had occurred there with the occasional broadway tune as the fancy struck us.  A little 30 Rock at Rockafeller Plaza, some Ghostbusters at the New York Public library, and why not a few lines from The Producers?  Max knows them all.
"If there's something strange/In your neighborhood..."

The New York Public library had an exhibit that held unspeakable joy for me, but I'll have to get to that and the shows and the food and the MoMA and the crazy people another day.  It has taken me 5 days to recover from our tiny weekend and I still only have steam for this much tonight.

Au revoir for now.      



Ichabod, Ichabod Crane

I know that we are not quite in the land of Ichabod Crane and his Sleepy Hollow, but this past weekend felt awesomely reminiscent.  Max and I had a few friends in town and we took a "Haunted tour of Alexandria" led either by either an enthusiastic young man in colonial garb or a disenfranchised Tea Party patriot - sometimes it's hard to tell around here :)  But either way, the tour wound its way through old town Alexandria and left us in a cemetery where many of the gravestones had been stolen during the civil war to provide a steady base for clunky, off-kilter 19th century cannons.

The next day we drove through Alexandria on the way to Mt. Vernon and saw Mr. Headless Horseman himself!
We rented a car for the weekend because I saw a weekend deal from a rental company that advertised "9.99 per day Fri-Sun".  What a steal! Having rented a car before I thought this will probably not include insurance and that will be the kick in the pants.  But when I totaled everything up my bill said "$22".  I even called and asked if my total was $22.

"Yes Ma'am"

Sounds too go to be true doesn't it?  Well, it was and when mr. mr. handed me my contract he said

"Now, do you have your own insurance or will you be purchasing insurance from us for XX a day?"

Ah ha!  If I had car insurance don't you think I'd have...a car?  In their defense I never said "Hello, do I have to pay additional for insurance?"  Because truly, I wanted it to be $22 dollars for the weekend.  It was my own fault.

But I got right down to turning that frown upside down and called Max on my way to the Falls Church Farmer's Market to say "Pack a lunch - we are going to Mt. Vernon!"

Max calls it 'getting my coupon's worth', and that is essentially what it is.  If I'm paying for it, I'm going to wring out every last bit of value.  And we certainly did.

Mt. Vernon was the home of Martha and General George Washington.  It's located on the banks of the Potamac and on this mid October Saturday it was stunning.  A note about something awesome: The walls in Mt. Vernon are CRAZY colors.  Mostly really vivid blues and greens.  You can see a pic of one room here and another one here.  These images are not exaggerated.  I didn't know anything about the history of wall paint in the 18th and 19th centuries, but don't you want to research it now?
The spoils of the Farmer's Market.  The perfect treat for a fall road trip.  


Do You Have A History of Fainting?

Why, yes I do.  I am a needle passer outer.  I'm actually at my wits end.  I get so worked up and terrified whenever I have to give blood or, get this, get a little tiny shot, that I usually pass out during or shortly after the procedure is finished.

I'm a  grown up.

My last blood draw went pretty well and I only almost passed out twice. The comforting, yet strong Sylvia helped me through it and I pulled myself back from the brink. Yesterday I went to the hospital to get something done and I had to sign a waiver that said I wasn't allergic to any IV something or another.  I hadn't anticipated getting an IV, which I have never had, and proceeded to freak out. While I paced the hospital room looking at objects on the table that appeared to be IV related materials I almost lost it.

It's not that I think I'll die and it's not really about the pain.  Most needle encounters don't really hurt.  There's something about the idea of my insides being prodded and sucked out and displaced by a diversity of viscous fluids that gives me the hebity jebities.  I imagined myself laying on what looked to be an operating table under a bright light, tears streaming out of one eye and down my cheek with my head turned to the side in defeat.  Or, and much worse, I imagined myself having a melt down mid-procedure and thrashing my IV'd hand around in the air yelling for them to take it out*.

I'm a grown up.

I keep analyzing the situation to determine what the pay-off might be and thus replace it with something less lame.   

Am I looking for attention?  Is this about control?  Space and mobility?  Is it a Freudian plea to revisit the overly swift potty training of my youth?  

I don't know the answer.  So, I would like to open a forum on facing your fears.  Feel free, and please, offer any suggestions that have worked to help you get over irrational fears.  It can be related to needles and blood** or any of the many phobias that contribute to our respective and general madness.

What do you do?

* I didn't actually have to have an IV after all.  My day will come, but it wasn't yesterday

**It's not just blood drawing that does it - open wounds, gashes and anything that has been stitched up or taped together makes me have to take a seat, although they have never caused me to pass out.  It's not the blood though, because I am pretty much pro at cutting my fingers with the sharp objects involved in cooking or bookbinding...


Girl in the Boys Club

If you know me, you know that I like to cook and bake and make stuff and in certain circumstances even, gasp, clean.  I like being a wifey and a homemaker.  But every once in a while my feminist self says "But don't think I just stay in the kitchen all day.  And I have ideas.  In fact, I'm a graduate student.  An almost finished one."

French class seems to have brought my sassy feminist self face to face with my Becky Home-Ecky self (to steal an awesome phrase from Jill Pearlman).  I'm the only girl in my class and I'm the only "spouse".  Don't get me wrong, the men in my class are super nice and always make me feel welcome.  In fact, I couldn't have picked a better group of folks to learn French with.  But, I'm still the only sista and as such have to represent.

After the weekend our teacher usually asks us what we did.  As it turns out, one of my favorite weekend activities is to cook all the fun things I didn't have time for during the week.  That's pretty much been my answer the last few Mondays.

Me: "Je Cuisine le Poulet Morocain"(I cook the Moroccan Chicken)
Teacher: "You like to cook, don't you?"
Me: "Oui."

So, while I'm professing my love of baking and all things homemakey,  I'm also trying to be fierce and in French.  And you know what?  It's kind of an awesome place to be.  I'm glad that I like to cook and study.  I'm glad that I enjoy making homemade egg noodles while conjugating irregular verbs in my head.  So without further ado, here are the fruits of my labor including the famous east coast blue crab which are not blue and I did not really cook - but ate with much pleasure:

Moroccan Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Saffron Rice
Moroccan Cous Cous - see a theme?
Kirmizi Mercimek Çorbasi (Turkish Soup) - Sounds Crazy, Makes Easy
Egg Noodles
Ze Little Crabbies