This is Why.

I told Dan this morning that for all my eagerness to take him back to Washington, I had some anxieties about parts of it. I'm eager to show him the battlefields, and to introduce him to friends, but I have reservations when it comes to showing him the House of Representatives.

My time at the House was some of the most significant and moving portions of my life, but it was also a debilitating crossroad. Up to that point, my entire focus after the age of 18 had been about living a transient, career-driven, solitary life. That's how I had pleasantly envisioned myself. Unpinned, independent, a gringo Sasha Fierce with a passport like Hillary Clinton's. So it has always been beyond strange to me that at the exact moment that I was offered a transient, solitary and amazing independent job in Australia, in a post that would likely eventually lead me back to the Committee, I chose not to follow. I chose a path more pinned, in an act seemingly entirely against my nature and ambitions. I had confused and hurt only myself, and I couldn't provide myself with many answers.

I never understood fully until today why I made the choice I did. Not even when I walked down the aisle to marry Dan would I have said "This is why." Today was the day, on my first full day as a 26 year-old, sitting across from him drinking coffee in Grand Central Station in New  York City, with a million people walking in circles around our quiet world, that I realized, "This is why."  I know, from today forward, there will be terrible days, and tragedies, and frustrations and exhaustions, but now I know, in my future, there will be a million chances to sigh contentedly, clutch his hand, and think "this is why."

Merry Christmas Eve, to One and All.


Undead Anxieties.

My sister Alissa is an avid horror fan. She can watch anything without grimacing. As a kid she used to have these terrible night-terrors, and I don’t know if somehow those desensitized her, or if she is able to watch horror movies in spite of it. I wonder what she thinks.

I like most horror movies. I like Zombieland. I enjoyed Resident Evil. I love the ole’ black and white psychological thrillers like Vertigo, the Birds, and my favorite, The Haunting. The great thing about a horror movie, is that at worst, it can only be awful and torturous for at most, an hour forty five minutes. After that, you pop in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it’s like it didn’t happen. (Unless you have nightmares that night that an Undead Joey Fatone is chasing you down the aisle of a Greek Orthodox Church. True Story. Ruined *NSYNC for me. )

But this methodology doesn’t apply when I signed on for The Walking Dead on AMC. Instead, they can torture you over several months with the long drawn out zombie apocalypse, and sometimes it just feels, so, REAL. It doesn’t exactly frighten me, it just makes me extremely anxious.

The least disturbing reference I could find to this show.

I am an anxious person by nature. I wring my hands if I arrive any later than 2 hours prior to a flight (3 for international). When my boss says “don’t worry!”, in relation to ANYTHING, I worry more than if he’d said not to worry. What did he THINK I would be worried about?? I tend to misinterpret conversations to err on the side of dismal. It’s a terrible thing.

The good news is, I have a new full-proof (ex-nay on the dead Joey atone-Fay) solution to Episodic Undead Anxiety:

Walking Dead Knitting.

This involves a single plain knit stitch over and over and over and over and over and over and over (40 across) until the visions stop and the nausea subsides, and I remember that it’s make-believe. Also, I think it’s harder to be anxious about a zombie if you picture him admiring your folksy handiwork instead of attacking you.

"Does this scarf make my bony butt look big?"

Speaking of zombies, the husband of my other sister is currently teaching a course on Zombies at Johns Hopkins. You go, Bro! My family is so cool (and well equipped to survive an undead apocalypse, as it turns out. As long as I have yarn.)



Something Groovy

While doing some work research, I stumbled onto this nugget of gold! I'm not entirely sure of the era, but I'm guessing from her Jean Harlow looks that this may have been early 1930s.


Miss E. D. “Ethel” Hook, of Sacramento, California, insofar as we know, enjoys the distinction of being the only woman in the United States, to purchase gold in commercial quantities. This blond, young woman, is employed by the California MacVan Company, and is given full authority by her employer, A. E. Vandercook, to buy gold in any quantity.

Grizzled old men who have aged in the hills hunting gold, young fellows getting their first callouses, and even women- turned miners to boost family finances— they’re all familiar to her. Sometimes they come with a great deal of gold, and go away with a great deal of money, sometimes they bring as little as 15 cents worth of gold.

Almost two years ago, Vandercook wanted a secretary, who could learn the buying end of the business, because he is away a great deal, attending to various mining properties. Miss Hook had finished a secretarial school course, and was chosen for the work. After three months of careful attention to what was going on, she bought her first gold.

Miss Hook will buy gold dust, nuggets, gold bars, dental, and jewelry gold, and pays for it at the mint rate for gold. Not many buyers do that, and, as a result, scores of miners make regular trips to Sacramento, to sell gold to her. Some days, after a heavy rain, there will be a long line waiting in the hall—then again, only a few stray customers drop in. All of the melting is done in the laboratory at Placerville, and the gold bricks are sent to the Mint, when about $1,000 worth has been accumulated. Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes two weeks, and during very bad weather, three weeks.

When the gold is brought to Miss Hook, she goes through it with a magnet, to clean out the black sand from the panned gold, and then weighs it. If there is a lot, she advances the miner $30 or $40, or whatever he needs, and when the gold is refined, she sends him a check for the balance. Not many nuggets come in, but “for variety we get gold teeth, watches, old bracelets and all sorts of things,” the ore buyer volunteered.

Miss Hook takes great pride in her distinctive calling, and says it is an education in itself to meet and talk with the men who have gold to sell. She says, “They are all dressed rough, but many are highly educated, highly trained, and they certainly are courteous to me.”

Satisfied customers have contributed to her popularity, and a reputation for square dealing. From her income, she supports her mother, and herself, as she has been doing for the last six years. She worked her way through secretarial school, and crowded two years’ study into one, and graduated with honors. She has a hobby —and literally rides it, because it is a horse.

So valuable are Miss Hook’s services, and particularly her exactness in the buying of gold, that her superior officer, President Vandercook, of the California MacVan Company, has insured her against marriage. So, gentlemen, come with your gold dust, but otherwise hesitate and exercise prudence—at least until the insurance policy expires.

I think my favorite part is that she is insured against marriage! What a neat lady.


Life Through Art.

Sometimes as I go about my day, or my week, I start to envision my life as it might be symbolically represented by priceless works of art. Like, sometimes I get on the scale, and I feel like a fatty, and I try to reframe the moment through Botticelli, as if I were a perfect modern representation of the ideal 15th century woman. (which for better or worse, I am.) 

Occassionally, once that painting is in my brain it can set the tone for the future, and often times, it's set by one of my favorite artists, Goya. The great thing about Goya, is that he started life extremely optomistic, and ended it extremely disturbed. So practically any moment in a person's life could be symbolically represented by Goya. He runs the gammit.

Last week, I would sum up my existence with this late Goya work:

I couldn't say for sure if I'm the poor sap getting eaten by a deranged monster, or if I was the deranged monster eating others for breakfast (a la my mechanic, the insurance company, Dan, an entire box of Tootsie Roll's DOTS in about 5 minutes-I don't even LIKE those.)  but it perfectly represents the horror and disdain and also desperation that the monster seems to have with himself, the total helplessness of the other guy, and pretty much the crumminess of the whole situation.  (I like to think of Goya as the first Zombiest- taking almost normal people and manipulating them into demons who bring about the apocalypse. I love him.)

But the good news is, on this fine monday, I'm feeling a little more like this early, unjaded Goya:

The storm has passed, the company picnic was a great success, and the hot chicks want to toss me in the air for some fun and laughs and good memories all around. I do not anticipate that my velocity or weight will impact the ladies' ability to sustain my bounce. Cheeks are rosy with delight and all is well with the world.

Happy Monday, y'all.