Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Ho!

We're off to my parents' house for Christmas. We're taking all of these gifts with us to open there. I couldn't help putting them under our own little Christmas tree to make it just that much more festive!

Jube and I have been having an epic "guess the gift" battle. I got him something I know he won't be able to guess, and it's been hilarious to tease him and hear his suggestions. He's convinced I got him a guitar or a Metallica DVD or some new headphones or even a video game. He's got no idea.

Of course, I don't know what I've got waiting for me, either. And he upped the ante - apparently at first he got me something (ugh) practical, but then he heard me complain about getting something for the house and he returned it. So I really want to know what the first - returned! - gift was. A food processor? Kitchen knives?

We'll find out tomorrow! Happy holidays to you all. I hope you find out what all of your gifts are, too!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Storm '09!

Last night it started snowing in Washington. We woke up to 7 inches of snow, and by the afternoon we were up to 13. We went on a little excursion to a nearby bakery (I'd bought lots of cold weather food - fondue, raclette - but no baguette to go with it!) and took some photos.
Not surprisingly, no one here knows how to drive in the snow, although Jube says it shouldn't be so difficult for them to figure out that they need to drive slowly!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Convergence of Interests

My newest news: I just bought tickets to see Muse in March! I'm so excited!

I've liked Muse for awhile - since my first trip to France, when le Parisien took Jube and me to fnac, where I listened to "Origin of Symmetry" on the headphones, which was in 2001. When I got back to the US, I looked for the album, but could only find their debut CD. I only recently discovered that it wasn't released until 2005, explaining my confusion in being sure there was a new album!

Anyway, I only discovered that I really liked Muse when I listened to their 2006 album, "Black Holes and Revelations" and listened to the 9th track. Although it's called "City of Delusion," I like to pretend that it's really called "City of Illusions" after Ursula K. LeGuin's book. It's not very likely, I know, but don't you think that a band that I like so much would also like LeGuin?

And that's how I realized that I liked Muse. A lot.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Happy 3rd!

Last Thursday Jube and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary - or as they say in French, our "three years of marriage." We went to the Manor House at Poplar Springs where we celebrated our wedding reception in 2006. My little brother now works in the kitchen there, and he had them create a little dessert surprise for us. Yum!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


As you may know, I have a job. I like it a lot, so I don't talk about it on my blog. This is one of the reasons why I haven't posted very much during the past year. Although it's reduced my blog posting frequency, today's episode should make up for all that. For you see, today my job allowed me to attend an Obama healthcare rally! Let's just say that I work at U to the M to the D. And guess where the president came to drum up support for his policies?

Here! And I was there to document it for you (and also to hear the president).

The information about the rally mentioned that it would start at 11:00am; that doors would open at 9:00am; and that people could start lining up at 5:00am. I figured I'd just arrive at my usual time and if I missed it, I'd head over to the office. As I approached the basketball arena, I saw that the line didn't seem too long. But then, a security guard stopped me. "Are you looking for the VIP line, or the regular line?" he asked.

"The regular line...?"

"It starts over there." He pointed across the parking lot. "Cross the footbridge, turn west, and you'll see all the people waiting."

So I set off.
I found this line. I was a bit surprised, considering that the rally venue was now almost directly behind me and over a footbridge, but... well... I didn't have much choice, did I? Besides, this was my chance to visit some of the campus I'd heard about but had never seen.
Oh! Here's a familiar landmark! I'd seen this stadium before, but never from this side.
Or from this close...
We continued on past the recreation center, and then finally got to the arena. I don't have any pictures of it because the security was really intense. As you might be able to tell from the pictures, it was a gray and rainy morning, so many attendees had brought umbrellas. We weren't allowed to bring them in with us, so there were hundreds of umbrellas decorating the low walls of the parking garage. I'd been warned about the "airport-like" security, so I had come prepared, bringing no purse and stuffing my pockets with my wallet, keys, phone, and camera. I also brought a library book because I figured I'd need it during my hours of waiting. Little did I know that it would cause a stir! Several women were turned away because of their purses, and the trashcans were full of lighters and bottle openers. The policeman almost confiscated my book, but I managed to convince him that I wasn't going to use it as a projectile (it was a library book, for goodness sake! I wouldn't risk my credit there).

Once in the arena, we waited in line for another half an hour before being allowed to take our seats. For about two hours after that, the marching band entertained us while we waited for Obama to arrive. I felt bad for the student who introduced him - we had been waiting so long for the president that when the announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Rachel S*!" the crowd actually let out a disappointed groan before beginning to applaud. And then... the band played "Hail to the Chief" and out came Barack!

It really was almost like being at a rock concert. Cameras were flashing, people were screaming... I'm surprised no one threw underpants! Here is my video documentation of the whole thing:

There was one protester who screamed something about babies being killed (I couldn't really hear his exact terminology), but he soon left. When I got back to work, my colleagues had all watched his speech from the streaming video site, but they still wanted to know how it felt to be there. Later I found out that there were about 15,000 people in attendance. All in all, a good way to spend my personal leave!

*I'm sorry, I forget her name. It sounded like "See."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Last Weekend

Last weekend the weather was wonderful. Jube and I biked to Bethesda, where we ate dinner and French pastries. There is an amazing patisserie in Bethesda called Cacao. I have to admit that while I was in France, I never understood why macarons were so beloved... I've read countless blog posts about macarons; about where to get the best ones, which flavors are the tastiest; but mostly just raving about their existence. Cacao has made me reconsider my indifference. The macarons there are amazing! After dinner, we went straight for the macarons, and it started pouring rain. The picture above was taken while I tried to sip my espresso without getting too wet.

The next day we went to Baltimore. Jube was happy to see the humongous guitar topping the Hard Rock Cafe in the Inner Harbor:

And then on our way to Fell's Point we saw a monument dedicated to Polish soldiers:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sexy Texty Monday

A quick followup from Sunday's SMS exchange:

Gem to Jube (06/09/09, 4:52pm, just getting out of work and heading to her bus in the sweltering heat): omg fing hot!

Jube to Gem (06/09/09, 4:54pm): what is hot?

Gem to Jube (06/09/09, 4:56pm): the weather. what, u thought i saw federer?

Probably wisely, Jube only addressed the weather in his return text.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Texty Tennis Sunday

Jube is in Norfolk this weekend for a short visit, while I stayed back in Maryland. He wasn't able to watch Roland Garros, but I was!

Gem to Jube (06/07/2009, 10:29am): Federer winning 2 to 0. 6 to 1, 7 to 6. great tiebreak. a streaker* on the court scared fed. . . flashback to seles?

Jube to Gem (06/07/2009, 10:44am): Awesome.

Gem to Jube (06/07/2009, 10:45am): 3rd set now 3 jeux a 1 fed mene**

Gem to Jube (06/07/2009, 11:10am): Fed wins! crying on court. crowd screaming, kids dancing. 3rd set 6.4

Jube to Gem (06/07/2009, 11:11am): Champagne

Gem to Jube (06/07/2009, 11:41am): What a nice guy! he said he wasnt /happy/ that nadal lost #thats mean# but he was def relieved. agassi gave the coupe.

I love the French Open! I love Roger Federer! I love tennis! What a great morning!

*Update on the "streaker"

**3 games to 1: Federer leads

Monday, May 25, 2009


The weather has been warm, almost summery lately. We haven't wanted to turn on the air conditioning, so we've done one of my favorite things: slept with the windows open. It feels great until the neighbors next to you start pulling fence posts out of the ground at 8:00 in the morning and the guy across the street decides that mowing the lawn is best done at 8:45. And to think that I was looking forward to sleeping in on Memorial Day...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Morning Surprise

Yesterday, my morning seemed to be a normal morning. I got up, dressed, and out the door on time; I was listening to one of my normal walking songs as I headed to the bus stop. Since Daylight Saving Time started, my mornings have been much nicer, since I don't have to scramble in the dark. However, as I neared the main road, I saw a very strange sight... a red car was in someone's front yard!

Now, at first I thought it might have been deliberate. This house has, in the past few days, lost its shutters, its lawn furniture, and a lot of its vegetation. So someone parking their car there didn't seem so strange. Then I realized that the car had knocked down a couple of panels of chain link and sported a crushed side and front. I saw the driver sitting on the front steps of the house, looking forlornly at the cell phone in his hand. I almost walked by, but then I reminded myself that we have to help when we find ourselves in these situations.

"Sir? Are you all right?" I called. "Do you need me to call anyone?"

He looked up at me, surprised. "No, no, I just called someone. But thank you so much for asking." I thought he was probably still in shock.

Then I did something bad: I waited for him to turn his back and sneaked my camera out of my purse to snap a photo. Unfortunately I was so nervous that he would catch me that this is all I managed to catch:

It's tough to see, but there's the car, just behind and to the left of the tree in the foreground. You can also see the missing spots for shutters on the house...

Thursday, May 07, 2009


As we were watching TV, a commercial for the new Star Trek came on. Glancing at Jube from the corners of my eyes, I said, "I think we should go see Star Trek."

Without looking at me, he said, "Okay, sure. When?"

"Oh, I dunno. Maybe this weekend?"

Surprised that I was following through, he turned to face me. "You really want to see it?" Poor Jube. He hates Star Trek and tries to convince himself that I don't like it as much as I do. Not only that: he thinks that the movie looks terrible, and has told me so every time we catch a trailer. Come to think of it, maybe he was trying out some preemptive strikes to keep me from broaching the topic...

"Well, yeah!" I said, "I like Star Trek!"

"I bet I know why you suddenly want to see it: You read a review on and now you want to see it."

"No, no! I just want to see it! I like science fiction!"

Grumbling, he said, "All right, maybe we'll go." He grabbed the laptop and opened it up to surf the net while I watched TV. Too late, I realized what was on the screen: a review of Star Trek.

"I knew it! I know you too well!"

"No, no, it's not what you think. It's not!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Yesterday was a beautiful day, with warm weather and cloudy skies. Jube and I took a walk through the park near our house. On our way home, Jube turned to me with a fait divers from that morning's newscast.

"You know someone around here won $150 million in the lottery! They're just waiting for him - or her, I guess - to come pick it up. On the news they interviewed some guy who said he was so happy for whoever won, like painting a picture of him - 'He's probably in debt, and this money will help him get out of this poor area' or whatever."

"That's interesting. You know, I've heard that winning the lottery can really mess up your life, like you lose all of your close relationships because of money."

"Yeah, yeah, I've heard that too. It can definitely mess up your life for some people. But that wouldn't happen to me."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Economic Hardship

Everyone I know is talking about the economy. It's hard to find jobs, hard to keep jobs, money's not worth what it used to be, we can't buy what we want, more people are laid off, we're finding ways to save, etc. Luckily for Jube and me, we're doing okay. My job is pretty secure and we're not worried.

But all the advice about saving and not spending must have gotten to me, because when it came time for a trim of my bangs, I didn't want to shell out the $12 for a professional. Instead, I cut them myself. This was a few months ago, and I ended up with Amelie-style shortshortshort bangs. I also have a small forehead, so to have those Amelie-style bangs, I had to practically shear my bangs. They were only about an inch and a half long. Oops.

So for the next few months, I didn't have to cut my bangs at all! In fact, when I did go the salon for a trim I couldn't do myself (the back is still out of my range), the hairdresser scolded me. "These are much to short! Who cut them?" When I admitted that I had, she said, "Never do that again. Never!"

Just this past week, I realized that my bangs were curling at the ends and getting into my eyes. The rest of my hair looks good, though - just a trim of the bangs was needed. I still couldn't justify the price, but I remembered my promise never to do it myself again. So I called on my trusty sidekick, Jube. I prepped him: "Can you cut my hair for me?"

He let out a shocked laugh. "What? Cut your hair? What put that into your head?"

"Well, I don't want to pay for it."

"But I've never done it before!"

"That's okay. It can't be worse than what I did myself."

After a few more minutes of resistance, he reluctantly agreed to do it.

The next evening, after my shower, I pulled out the scissors. "Let's get it over with!" I cried. It was almost an adventure! I told him to cut it at about the level of my eyes, straight across. After making the first few cuts on the left, he followed the length along to the right.

"Done," he told me, looking pleased - until he stepped back and looked at the final product. "Oh no! How did that side end up so much longer than the other?" He cut some more, finally finishing a reasonably straight line.

"I don't know how they do it," he told me. "Cutting hair is hard!" But at least we did our part for our savings account.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's Just Not Right

Hello again! I feel really bad that I haven't updated this space in a long time. I have no excuse for myself. All I've been doing is working, reading, and watching my digital TV. I suppose that this could seem like life has been boring, but really I've been very contented! Jube has said some really hilarious things, but he has refused to let me publish them here on my blog, so you'll just have to imagine what outrageous comments have come out of his mouth. Or I suppose you could e-mail me and ask - I'd definitely answer. I promise I would!

Now, this is only the second time that I'm posting one, but I've decided to put up a quick meme. If you like it, then copy me! If you think this is totally lame, dude, then you don't have to read it. (It is kind of lame since no one tagged me and it's also been on the internet for like 10 years, but still. Enjoy with me if you can.)

So here's the deal: there are those "25 things" and also the "random 10," and I'm letting my iPod (on shuffle) answer the questions for me. And then I add my little commentary about it. So enjoy - or "surf away" (as Jube says. I think this is kind of funny and cute, except that now I say it when I'm on the internet too. I.e. "I'd better surf away from this porn before my boss comes in the room." Hypothetically.). (Oh, and also? Try not to judge my taste in music. I gave up a long time ago.)

1. What do your friends say about you?

Dancer in a Daydream. This is kind of nice, isn't it? The problem is, I doubt they say that about me. If they do, then I'm really living in some kind of alternate reality...

2. How would your coworkers describe you?
Daffodil Lament. Hmm... I hope this doesn't mean I'll be fired in the spring...

3. How would you describe yourself?
Apocalypticodramatic. Actually this is sort of authentic. I mean, how can you describe the indescribable without making up new words?

4. What do you like in a romantic partner?
If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out. Yeah, I like it when my romantic partners tell me what they want. I also like that this seems to say, "Sure you can tell me what you want, but you're not going to get it. Go ahead and say it. I don't care." I also love that I associate this song with Harold and Maude, and I hope you do too, because it says so much about any romantic relationship I might have...

5. How do you feel today?
Sin Tu Carino [Without Your Love]. Yes, exactly! That's why I decided to post this meme without being tagged! I need your love, Internet! Love me, please love me!

6. What is your life’s purpose?
Living in Danger. Heh. I was always embarrassed by that Ace of Base album on my iPod, but now I see why I kept it...

7. What is your motto?
Light In Your Eyes. Yeah, it's a great motto - never wear sunglasses! Or actually, maybe it's the technique for someone to torture a motto out of someone else... really bright lights in their eyes...

8. What do you think about the most?
Videotape. But do you know which one?

9. What are you going to do on your next vacation?
Think for Yourself. Yeah, cause I'm not gonna tell you!

10. What do you think of your first love/date?
The National Anthem. But of what country?

11. What is your life story?
Knights of Cydonia. Okay, now this one is really dumb. Why would that be my life's story? Think, Gem, think... lyrics: No one's gonna take me alive... Nah. Still makes no sense.

12. What did you do yesterday?
Que Paso Que Paso [What happened what happened]. Yeah, dude, I can't remember...

13. What do you think of when you see the person you like/love?
The Eternal Vow. You might think that this refers to our marriage vows, but I think it must be the pact we made the night of the new moon on Friday the 13th...

14. What describes your wedding?
Zombie. Eek. I thought it was rather tasteful and chic! Although maybe that's some new kind of fashion - zombie-chic...

15. What will they play at your funeral?
The Last Unicorn, Pt. 2. Actually, I just had a memory of watching The Last Unicorn for the first time with a friend (when I was young... very young...). As you probably recall, the film opens with America's fabled song, "The Last Unicorn," accompanied by what is basically an animated music video illustrating the lyrics. (Oh gosh, do you not remember? You can look here if you really want to see it instead of relying on the inferior vision in your mind.) In the tradition of Hollywood's Golden Age, the credits are also displayed at this time. Since my friend and I were wee tots, we were not familiar with this convention. She turned to me and asked, "Is this the end?" I thought about it for a little while, but I finally figured out an answer: "Maybe it's just the beginning of the end." My father and his friend burst out laughing (we were watching in a rec room/basement - my memories just keep getting more and more detailed!). I think that playing "The Last Unicorn, Pt. 2" at my funeral would simply close the circle: It would be the end of the end. Voila!

16. What is your obsession?
Unintended. Yeah, I just couldn't help myself...

17. What is your biggest fear?
Exit Music (For a Film). After finding out that "The Last Unicorn, Pt. 2" will be played at my funeral, this has definitely become my biggest fear.

18. What is your biggest secret?
Map of the Problematique. It's such a big secret that I can't even figure out what it means!

19. What is your biggest turn-on?
2+2=5 (The Lukewarm). Yeah, I love reading Nineteen Eighty-Four in a tepid bath... mmmmm!

20. How do you describe your friends?
Minha Galera [according to some website, "minha galera" means "my people"]. Yep, it's definitely how I describe my friends. Or at least, that's how I'd describe them if I spoke Portuguese.

21. What would you do with a million dollars?
Dernier Lit [Last Bed]. I guess that this means I'd buy one of those awesome memory foam mattresses and I'd never have to buy another bed again in my whole life! Or else it means I'd spring for a crazy cool coffin!

22. What is your opinion of sex?
Plug In Baby. No comment.

23. What is your biggest regret?
Serre-Moi [Hold Me]. Yes, my biggest regret is that I was never held as a child. Oh please hold me now!

24. What would you rather be doing right now?
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). I guess I'd rather be on drugs?

25. What will you post this list as?
Morning Bell. Actually I'm posting it as "It's Just Not Right".

Well, I do hope you enjoyed. And don't forget to e-mail me if you want to hear a funny story about Jube! (Wow, I think that's even lamer than this stupid meme...)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm a Convert!*

Yesterday Jube and I went out with this guy who works for the Federal Communications Commission (suddenly, I realize how living in DC affects the people we meet...). His big project right now revolves around the "DTV Transition," which will take place in about two weeks (don't know what I'm talking about? You must not have suffered through snowy reception for two years like Jube and I have).

I've been complaining for about a year about the DTV transition. I didn't want to spend the money to get a converter box for my TV; I didn't think it was fair that we should be penalized for not buying cable; I was happy enough with my fuzzy reception. But two weeks ago Jube and I bought our DTV converter, and I saw the light! It's wonderful! When my father came to visit, he thought we'd signed up for cable.

I even feel more informed about the world since we receive four PBS channels. I now understand what stock options, hedge funds, and the financial crisis are all about - and The Bachelor has never looked as good! (Actually, Jube and I think he looks sort of like a young George W. Bush.) So if you've got basic cable right now, I'm telling you: quit it and buy a converter box! You'll thank me later!

*Pun absolutely intended. Every time I say this to someone, I have to restrain myself from saying, "Get it? Get it???"

Friday, January 09, 2009


9:18 p.m. Watching TV.

Gem: Tu la trouves jolie?

Jube: Who?

Gem: Her. There - with the pretty dark hair.

Jube: Her? No way!

Gem: Really? I think she's pretty.

Jube: She looks like Michael Jackson.