Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lines and Other Existential Musings on a Wednesday

Today was an Al Hirschfeld sort of day. It seemed every person I passed on my commute—the woman in the gold Mercedes SUV applying her eyeliner, the man hawking newspapers at the intersection of 9th and Massachusetts, the woman on the scooter wearing her helmet so snugly it looked like a part of her natural features, the gangly guard at the entrance to the parking garage—could have been or had just jumped out of a Hirschfeld. At any moment, I expected strains from Modest Mussorgsky’s (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition to burst forth from the radio and underscore my oddly illustrated world.


Do you ever wonder about the lives of others?

Normally, at the intersection of 9th and Mass is a woman hawking the aforementioned newpapers. She’s average in height, thin. Her hair is long and often looks stringy and unwashed, except that I think perhaps she’s just come out of the shower and is going with the wet look. Probably in her fifties, though she may be younger. It’s hard to tell. What does seem readily obvious is, life has been hard for her. It is etched deeply in the tanned, creased lines of her face and the hollow vacancy of her eyes. I often wonder what her story is and what she once hoped her life would be. If her dreams were dashed, I wonder what she hopes each day will now bring. There is a seemingly contradictory mixture of resignation and tenacity about her that worries and awes me and it begs this existential question: If life is meant to be meaningful, what is the meaning for her?


On my way into work every morning, I pass a coffee shop — Breakwell’s — in the struggling-to-gentrify area around the new D.C. convention center. Some mornings, one of the baristas is taking a break. She sits in a cane-backed chair, casually smoking a cigarette and intently reading her latest literary choice. She looks serene and content and I ask myself the same question I’ve asked myself for years. Why can’t I do something like that and be content?


There are a million little proverbs and sayings that have been bandied about for decades, if not centuries, in one form or another—each meant to inspire, uplift, give hope, bring perspective. When life hands you lemons, says one of the more cliché, make lemonade. It seems so straightforward and simple. And yet, I’m lousy at making lemonade. All that keeps me from being a sourpuss is love and laughter. My sanity/insanity is a mix of quiet desperation and outright panic tempered by rational thought about cause and effect. Somehow, perhaps merely by the grace of God, I hold on and function aptly. But is it enough?


I’d like to be the barista at the coffee shop, but I worry that one day I might be the woman hawking newspapers, cars streaming past me in a perpetual procession of hurry and scurry. Those in the cars will drive by without noticing, save at least one person — a person of heart and conscience, a person of kindness and thought — who will drive by and wonder, “If life is meant to be meaningful, what is the meaning for her?”

Illustration copyright: Al Hirschfeld. All rights reserved to him, may he rest in peace, and his estate.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vegas, Baby!

Yet another postcard from one of my lobbyists. This one is from Sin City, where said lobbyist just spent a weekend schmoozing and wheeling and dealing with a congressperson and staff. When my lobbyist returned we both agreed that Vegas is "Disneyland for Adults." Anyone with an addictive personality should definitely not go there!

P.S. See! I told you I'd be back. Sort of.

Big Sky Beauty

And another postcard. This one also from one of the lobbyists I support. (I have two of those, plus two PAC people, and a policy wonk.) This particular lobbyist spent a weekend in Montana as part of a fundraising/schmoozing event for one of Montana's two senators. Said lobbyist forgot to actually mail this card whilst in Montana. This same lobbyist is off to Jackson Hole next week and, as I left on Friday evening, I said, "Don't forget to send me a postcard." My lobbyist whipped out these three, asked me to choose one, and then wrote on the back, "Dear Janet: Wish you were here! Lobbyist." Priceless. Here is Big Sky, Montana.

P.S. And now I'm going back on recess.

Hey! You! Over there! Get off my swing, ya big bully.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


August is usually recess month for Congress in D.C. It's also the month where a lot of Washington goes on vacation and commuting to work is actually enjoyable. It will stay that way until the end of August, when every one will rush back to get their kids ready for school. Then, after Labor Day, it'll be back to "crunch time", Congress will be back in session, the presidential campaign circus will kick into full and sickening throttle, and commuting will become a four-letter word again.

All that to say, I'm going on a sort-of recess, too. Meaning, I'm noodling whether to revamp this blog or jettison it altogether and start anew, which means I won't be posting as frequently on Rush Hour. When I come back--if I come back--it may be with a new blog name and a pseudonym. I'll continue to post over on D.C. Confidential and if any postcards wander in between now and the end of the month, I'll post them here. (Rumor has it, I have cards headed this way from Las Vegas and Oregon!)

P.S. Knowing how long I lasted the last time I said I was going on hiatus, I wouldn't worry too much about my self-imposed recess. I'm lousy at keeping my thoughts to myself. No doubt I'll be posting something here in no time.

Photo copyright: Cedar Works

Monday, August 06, 2007


A friend of mine was in Louisiana last week with a group from her church. They were down there helping folks, who were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, rebuild. This is the postcard she sent.

Thanks, A, for the @#*$... er... darn postcard!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Loose Ends

Sometimes, I can be a dope. Like the times when I say, "Hey! Looky here! I'm having a wee contest on my blog. Please play along. Pleaseeeeeee. I'll tell you how it all turns out in a week..." and then I don't.

A few weeks ago, I held a "Vote for Your Favorite D.C. Rush Hour Blog Entry" contest as part of my self-congratulatory celebration on having reached the 400-posts-mark in my blogging... er... career. It even featured on DC Blogs Noted (Thanks, KOB!), which surely meant a few more folks might weigh in. Since I don't have a stat counter on my blog (I'm cheap. I refuse to pay for that and, as far as I can tell, but maybe I'm an idiot, Blogger doesn't have one just built in like some other blogging sites do), I have no clue how many people actually thought about playing along, but then didn't.

Regardless, several of my more faithful readers did weigh in. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I thought I'd have one cut-and-dried winner out of the ten blogs I highlighted, but alas, 'tisn't so. Seems each of you liked a specific one for specific reasons. Still, at least two of you liked one entry in common which, I guess, makes it the winner. So, here's how the votes were cast:

Alliteration 1
Articulate 0
Green River... Wider Than a Mile... 2
In a Perfect World I'm Not Too Late for a Pink Martini, Am I? 1
Jesus Is a Stinker 1
LEGOs: Life's Philosophical Metaphor 1
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, Blah, Blah, Blah... 1
One Happy Meal for the Queen, Please! 0
What Price, Freedom? 1
World Famous in Poland Oatmeal 1

And the Oscar goes to... Green River!

Huh. That was sorta anti-climatic. Well, it's never too late to vote. And thanks to those of you who did.

This next loose end is, as they say, earthshattering.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon a change at AOL's website that looked surprisingly like Yahoo's interface. It was up in the morning, then gone in the afternoon. Some would call this a non-event. I called it a mystery. After a couple of weeks of the old interface and wondering what I'd stumbled upon, I'm pleased to report that AOL's new interface officially looks like Yahoo. I'm sure you're glad to know that and you'll sleep better tonight.

In the meantime, I need to find my life. I put it down somewhere and can't remember where....

Oh, and P.S., I'm behind on my email. So if you've sent me a message recently and I haven't gotten back to you, it isn't because I'm hatin' on you or anything. It's just been one of those weeks where I'm hatin' on me and my life. See aforementioned comment about the need to find my life again.... Applicable here, too.

Photo copyright: Muppet Wiki

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Another postcard arrived today. This one from Adriana, who is summering in the Bay Area with her husband, Lane and their son, Jasper. I'm thinking Adriana is grooving on California! Big time. Here's her postcard from Stanford.

And A: I wish I could quit it, too, but "this thing get ahold of ya... It stays with you and if [you're] not careful, it will suck [you] in...."

Friday, July 27, 2007

In the BIN: Honorable Mentions

There are so many great posts out there, I thought I'd do another addition of In the BIN. This one will require Kleenex for a different reason entirely. Why? Because you'll start off with some giggling, then find yourself flat out ROTFLYAO. In the end, though, you'll wax nostalgic.

I start with my friend, Holly, who just acquired a new piece of technology and coins two lines that have her readers laughing at her wit and whimsy. Here is Okay, This One is a Toy.

Meanwhile, over at Alice's Adventures Underground, fellow blogger NG continues to chronicle her daughter's 'inappropriate songs.' This is Vol. 16. They're all worth reading, if you want to go back through the archives and read the first 15 volumes. Love these. Love the Dormouse! Go, Dormouse, go!

Continuing on with the humor, my friend, Merujo writes about an intimate encounter with a squirrel that involves her dinner. Trust me when I tell you, stuff like this only happens to Merujo and she doesn't make it up. (You couldn't.) Here is Awake. (And stay tuned because down the road, this piece will no doubt feature in a radio commentary on WAMU. Can't wait!)

And finally, I saved the very, very best for last from my friend, Sister Mary Lisa. At least, I think it is anyway. I'm just going to let it speak for itself. Here is Just for Today.

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Postcards x 3

Lest you thought I'd forgot... er... forgotten... I'm still collecting postcards! These are three I've received over the last month. (I temporarily misplaced the first two. The last one arrived a day or two ago.) So, here they are...

From the beautiful French city of Lyon, a postcard from my friend and Scary Feminist, Sylvia, who was recently over there on business and sent this back. Thank you, Sylvia! MWAH.

From sunny Florida, a postcard from Key West sent to me by one of the people in my office who was recently there on vacation. Thank you, you-who-shall-remain-nameless-here. (One day--if you haven't Googled and found it already--I'll share this blog with you and then you can enjoy seeing your very own card posted here.)

And finally, from somewhere between here and Lincoln, Nebraska, a postcard from the Mattress Factory and my friend, Sister NoMo, who is (was) en route to Salt Lake where she will be pursuing a doctorate in psychology. Apparently Sister NoMo watched episodes of Big Love because she wrote this on the back: "Big Love confirmed the things I dislike about polygamy. The wives had no say as the husband cheated on them to court a fourth wife using the destiny of celestial marriage as justification. As a woman and a feminist, it made me angry. On my way to UT...." Ah, dear friend NoMo, you are gonna have a ball in SLC!

Thanks to all of my friends and fellow co-workers for their cards. Keep 'em coming, folks. (If you want to know where to send me a postcard, email me and I'll send you my address.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An' I Cans Rite Purty, Two

There's nothing an editor or writer loves more than a good, solid typo. Case in point: the caption that goes with this photo from the Washington Post's Camera Works feature. (To see a larger image, click on the picture.)

And this one is a shout out to my friend, Sister Mary Lisa, who had tickets to sell to exactly this concert. Obviously Jon Bon Jovi loved Cheyenne!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Before One Dies

What is it with me and meme's lately?! Here's another one I found while randomly clicking on blogs in the blog list on DC Blogs. This one is "Five Things One Should Eat Before One Dies" or something along those lines. I found it on Lost in Somewhereistan.

Here's my list...

1. Fresh, hot, slather-them-on-my-thighs, please, Krispy Kreme Original Donuts. Ambrosia!

2. A plate of fine cheeses--Humboldt Fog, Wisconsin Smoked Gouda, Manchego--and a hearty loaf of crusty sourdough.

3. Crepes from Ti Couz in the Mission District in San Francisco. Most especially, the Tod and the La Delice. Divine! (The restaurant doesn't have a website, but here's a good review of it by a foodie. One day, I'm going to write my own review.)

4. Fresh strawberries from the farm stand on Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, California, or the Point Reyes Station Market in Point Reyes Station, California. So naturally sweet and delicate, it would be an insult to dust them with any kind of sweetener.

5. My mom's homemade crescent rolls. There's so much butter in these puppies, it's amazing the Surgeon General hasn't declared them a hazard to one's health. But they are sooooooo good. Mmmmm-mm.

If you were about to die, what would you eat?