Saturday, September 27, 2008


The other day at the mall, I was trying on some clothes when I heard the girl in the next dressing room open the door and call to her friend, "What do you think?"

Her friend called back, "Is it too small?"

I reflexively looked at the wall separating my dressing room from the girl's. I could almost feel the heat emanating from her angry body.
Quiz: What was the proper response in this situation? I probably would have gone for something like, "It's okay," expressing some ambiguity with the ensemble without implying that my friend was (gasp) not a dainty little fairy!

"No!" she hissed back. "It's my size! Why?"

At least her friend knew the correct answer to this one: "Oh, it just looks a bit tight on the bust." Good comeback!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


My Japanese coworker just bought a mini cassette recorder for her classes. Encased in one of those plastic boxes with no visible means of entry, it has forced her to pull out her scissors and poke viciously, then snag the blade and rip carefully.

"Oh my goodness!" she exclaimed, "This is harder than opening a fish!"

I looked over at her, laughing. "A fish?"

She laughed too, adding, "Yes, and you know, opening fishes is really an art."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dans la nature...

During my old commute, I would drive a short way down Beach Drive. Beach is a winding road that traverses Rock Creek Park, 10 miles or so of lush forest that goes from Washington, DC to a street very close to my house. In the early mornings I sometimes see deer lurking in the brush on the side of the road, and in the afternoons bicyclists seem to think that they have the right of way (they travel in packs). I also see the same Metro commuters walking from Grosvenor Station back to their houses.

On one of my last days, I was driving through the morning mist when I saw a Metro commuter cross the road in front of me. I thought it was a bit strange that I'd never seen him before, but I figured that he might have left earlier than usual. Before my car drew level with him, he disappeared into the woods on the other side of the road. Bemused, I tried to find him in the woods as I drove past, but all I saw was a small path leading through the underbrush.

I enjoyed imagining deer and commuters sharing the same paths every morning, and then I turned off of Beach and entered the Beltway, where no one shares the same path happily.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pas Prudent!

When Jube and I were still living in Montpellier, we used our bikes to travel everywhere. We used the bus lanes instead of the sidewalks, and once an old lady yelled at us as we were crossing her path, "Pas prudent! Pas prudent!"* We now say this whenever someone tells us that we should be more careful, or that something we did was stupid... for example, one of my new colleagues told me that she had never used the public bus in her entire life. "You just couldn't use the bus in Hampton Roads," she said, "it was too dangerous!" Jube and I used the HR Public Transit system often before we bought our car, and I'm sure we would have looked at each other and hissed, "Pas prudent!" at this announcement.

Anyway, we had a pas prudent moment in July, when I'd picked him up at the airport and was driving him back to Norfolk. We took Route 17 to 95 to 64, and it took about an hour on each of these roads. As we were entering 95 from 17, we noticed a blond surfer-looking dude at the side of the road with a sign that said "Virginia Beach." We chuckled for a moment that he would never find a ride down there, and then we both said, "Why don't we give him a ride?"

I've never hitchhiked or picked up a hitchhiker, but Jube has done both in France. So we pulled over and two blondies crammed themselves into the back of our little car. It turned out that they were Russians, in the US on summer J-1 (working holiday) visas, and had traveled all around the US by Greyhound. They were finally out of money and had resorted to hitchhiking.

They were very well mannered young men from Siberia, and my only problem with them was that they kept talking. I had been ready for a nap, but unfortunately I let slip that I knew quite a bit about immigration processes, and they kept asking me for information about their visas.

By the time we arrived in Norfolk, we didn't want to drive all the way to Virginia Beach, so we dropped them off downtown outside of the library. They gave us a nu-metal CD (I had unwisely told them that Jube liked heavy metal) and their gratitude.

Whenever I tell anyone about our hitchhiking adventure, they all say the same thing. "I can't believe you picked up hitchhikers! That's so dangerous!"

Jube and I catch each other's eye, and we both think the same thing. "Pas prudent!"

*Not careful!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Labor Day

On Labor Day Weekend, Jube and I had set up a busy schedule: Planet Arlington World Music Festival on Saturday, Picnic on the Mall on Sunday, family barbecue on Monday. Only Saturday and Monday succeeded, and all because I am a big idiot.

We were on the Metro, heading to Capitol South, when Jube realized that we were going the wrong way. We got out and started heading toward the escalators that connect the two directions. As we started up the moving stairs, Jube heard the train arriving on the other side.

"Hurry!" he told me, "We can still catch it!"

I had my doubts, but I still ran up the escalator. Or at least, I tried to run up. My flip flop caught one of the steps and I fell heavily on my left leg, bruising my knee and scraping my ankle. Because I am a cruel person and I wanted Jube to hurt as much as I did, I snapped, "Why did you make me run?" Tears had sprung to my eyes and I limped off of the escalator. It really really hurt! I've never felt as much pain in my life (well, maybe I have, but I certainly don't remember it feeling that bad!).

As I rode the other side's escalator down, I felt moisture on my leg. I looked at it and saw blood trickling past the bottom of my cropped pants. Strangely, I hadn't noticed any cuts, just a feeling of bruising around my knee. When I pulled up my pants leg, I almost fainted. Blood caked my knee and continued down my leg. In my bag, I had nothing to staunch the flow; no napkins, not even any receipts.

I started feeling nauseated and faint, so I sent Jube back up the killer escalator to find a station manager while I sat on the floor next to one of the concrete barriers, whimpering to myself and swabbing at the blood with my now-stained pants. Jube couldn't find any help, so we decided to head home. (For some reason, I'd thought that I could still make it to the picnic if only the station manager had been there with a first aid kit!) Of course, by this time we were about half an hour away from home and I would have to limp through the Labor Day Weekend crowds with a bloody pair of pants, but we couldn't help that.

I managed to keep from puking or fainting until we got home, where I cleaned up my wound and gently placed myself on the sofa. And then, since we had managed to miss our vegan picnic gathering, I turned to my husband and moaned, "Jube... could you get me a big hamburger from Wendy's please?"

I think I deserved it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Now that I'm a Real Professional, I have money to buy things! Now, I really like clothes, but I don't usually buy really expensive items. I love Zara and Mango, but mostly during the sales; once in a while I'll check out Macy's, but I'm more likely to buy something from a thrift store. My wedding dress cost $120; its matching shoes cost $65.

One exception to my preferences occurred this summer, during the 4th of July holiday. It was right before job interview season (while I'd had a couple before, they were all phone interviews), and I wanted a nice outfit. Well, my mom and I headed to the mall, where we found huge sales. I bought a Calvin Klein interview suit, and I like to think that it helped me get my job(s). At the same store, I saw a bag I really wanted. I desperately wanted it - I needed something to go with my black suit, something nice, and this fit the bill: red leather, big enough for my portfolio, professional looking, and more! But... it cost $70. (Interestingly enough, when I expressed my feelings that $70 was too much for a bag, my friends were divided: some told me to just buy it, because it really wasn't very much money; others agreed with me and pushed me to turn it down. "Expensive" and "bargain" are highly subjective terms.) I just couldn't spend that much! And I didn't. A few days later I bought a cheaper version of my bag, made from synthetic material, still good looking enough...

Back to the present (2 months later...). I still wanted that bag. I really really wanted it. Even though I didn't have the excuse of "I need it!", I did have the excuse of a new paycheck. So during my lunch break, I drove to the mall and searched for it. I found it, but hesitated again, because now I had a red bag already! I went over to the bags on sale, and I saw my dreams come true: the same bag, on sale, in a khaki color. Perfect! I snapped it up.

That night I showed Jube my new bag. "Isn't it great?" I enthused.

"How much did it cost?" he asked.

I get very offended when he asks me how much my clothes cost, because for some reason I hear criticism of my spending habits. I really don't think he means any, but my gut reaction is always to snap back something like, "It cost less than your GT-10!"

Which is what I said.

"Gem, I don't care how much it cost!" he told me. "You're the one who always likes to tell me about your good deals!" Which is true. "I just think it's funny that all your bags are kind of... preppy looking."

I'd never thought of it that way before. "Preppy looking? And the rest of my clothes aren't?"

He gave me the once-over. "Well, no. Not at all."

"I guess I just like preppy bags." And I've been using it ever since!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Geeks Unite!

On Sunday, Jube and I went to the Maryland Renaissance* Festival. I've been to the Ren Fest in Ohio, and I always had a good time. Jube has been to Medieval Festivals in France, as well as a Breton Celtic music festival, so he's (sort of) been exposed to the Ren Fest mentality. However, I don't think he realized that most of the Ren Festers were also D&Ders, WoWers, Trekkies, Goths, etc. There was even someone dressed up as Farm Boy/the Dread Pirate Roberts (complete with ROUS)... but I don't think Jube recognized him.

Throughout the day, Festival-goers were making strange hand signs at Jube, saying strange things to him, or otherwise winking at him. He didn't get it until someone walking by said, "Wow!" in an admiring voice. He looked around, confused, and then he looked down at his shirt. It said "WOW! Week of Welcome 2007, Old Dominion University." Of course, the "Week of Welcome 2007, ODU" was in much much smaller print, leading everyone to believe that Jube actually knows what the acronym MMORPG stands for... or something. He should just have worn a Metallica shirt - at least then they would know what kind of geek he really is.

*I love speaking French. Before living in France and learning the language, I could never spell Renaissance correctly! It also helped with the word medieval. But not annihilate...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ketchup and Weekend Hair

Wow, it's been a long time, huh? I'll bet everyone's been depressed because they haven't had one of my posts to read. Well, let me give you the short version of what I've been up to since Montpellier:

I got back to the US on July 2. Between July 9th and August 15, I had 7 job interviews in 3 states (Virginia, Maryland, and California) and the District of Columbia. I was offered one of the jobs, which I accepted. But after a week in, when I e-mailed the last "still under consideration" employer, they told me they really wanted me and managed to convince me to leave my new job. So, on September 22, I will start my latest (and hopefully steadiest!) job! Jube and I will be living in Silver Spring, Maryland, and I'll be taking the Metro to work. I'm very excited about ditching my car, for many reasons: gas prices; "green" concerns; Beltway traffic; and, of course, the opportunity to fall asleep while traveling to work and not dying.

So, with that out of the way, here's a little story about Jube and me:

The vestiges of Hurricane Hanna blew through the DC area last Friday night and Saturday. With all of the humidity, I knew I would have to take good care of my hair to keep it in line... but, it was a weekend! On Saturdays I don't want to waste my time blow-drying my hair when I could be doing other things, like watching "The 15 Greatest Political Sex Scandals" on E! or eating leftover coconut shrimp from Red Lobster. So I finger combed my hair and let it be.

That night, Jube and I went to see a movie (Tropic Thunder. Ask me about it later). We drove to the new Rockville Town Center and walked around for about 20 minutes before the start of the show. We were dressed like "sporty bobos" (ODU cropped sweats and tightish sporty looking top for me; Adidas shorts and Atomic shirt for Jube), which we aren't (sports? Do you really think I have time to exercise when I can't be bothered to blow-dry my hair? Playing sports would require more showers, which would require more blow-drying, which makes me sweat, so it's really all counterproductive in the end, isn't it?). So anyway, we went to some Mexican chain restaurant that isn't Taco Bell, and while we were waiting for our food, Jube smiled at me.

"I see you've got Weekend Hair today."

What?? I was amazed that he noticed... but I guess I shouldn't have been. Jube notices lots of things that men "aren't supposed to notice," like my clothes, my hair, my makeup (if I'm wearing any).

"Yeah, I guess it is my Weekend Hair. Do you like it?"

"It's okay. Your Weekday Hair looks nicer though. But you're still cute."

Unfortunately, I was too tired after our long Sunday at the Renaissance Festival (expect a post soon) to do anything about my Weekend Hair, so today (a WEEKDAY, I might point out), I still have fluffy, sort of curly/wavy hair. I tried to dress it up with a headband, but it's still not Weekday Hair.

Five minutes into my workday, my supervisor asked me if I'd gotten a haircut.