13 August-- I'm not sure exactly why , but something made a lump form in my throat and caused my eyes to water a little this morning as I learned about the flooding in Prague. I just had this visceral feeling of panic, knowing that the waters were rising higher as I sat reading about them. The Vltava was flowing through the streets in the worst flood since at least 1890, and there was nothing I could do. I wanted to shout, "No, you're not allowed to damage anything before I get to come and see it! And preferably not afterwards, either." I had the craziest feeling that I somehow ought to be over there filling sandbags. But instead, I seached around until I found a Czech newswire in English and kept the window open behind my work all day, watching the predictions of the time the water would reach its peak creep up from mid-afternoon to past midnight. Yeah, I know, it's just a city, a far-away city that I've never been to, and it will still be there when the waters recede. So I'm weird. Shut up!
12 August-- Sunday was Minnesota Day in Sweden, I learned this afternoon. "What? Why?" asked Colleen. And quicker than she could say, "I remember that Kirsten from the American Girls immigrated from Sweden to Minnesota," I had already opened up the American Girls website and was browsing through the dolls and books and accessories myself, and we oohed and ahhed and reminisced and talked like old women about how there were only three dolls back in our day. And as I clicked through the pictures trying to remember what outfits and accessories I used to have (not too many, thanks to the ridiculous prices), a nine-year-old somewhere inside of me remembered getting catalogs in the mail and desperately wanting things like this and this, and suddenly I had the odd desire to dig up my old Molly doll (packed away somewhere in NJ, most likely) and start dressing her up. But I never played with Barbies! Really!
11 August-- Today I stumbled across something eloquently titled NaNoWriMo. Yes, NaNoWriMo. That's short for "National Novel Writing Month," which, apparently, is November. It seems that every November a whole bunch of people who have always meant to write a novel decide to sit down and actually do it. In a month! This is actually rather intriguing. I am, of course, one of those people who has always meant to write a novel. And the communal nature of the project (writers encourage eachother through e-mail and chat, and those in geographic proximity work together in person) sounds rather nice. Plus, having time constraints couldn't help but be good for me. However, I have the distinct feeling that I'll be a bit too busy in November to be writing a whole novel. And I guess I'm still young enough to hope that real novel-writing can be in my future without gimmicks. Besides, what kind of a name is NaNoWriMo?
10 August-- And then my family left this morning, and it was good. Okay, so I have only slightly over 24 hours with the apartment to myself, but it is decidedly a good thing. I find myself appreciating this time so much, between the opportunity to be alone and the chance to relax. I listened to lots of U2 very loudly, wrote a journal entry, watched Shawshank Redemption on TV, ran the dishwasher, played Text Twist, did a little writing, and somehow stumbled into Virtual Hogwarts and got sorted into Hufflepuff and looked around for a while. Yes, I know this is a rather dull summary of a rather dull (but wonderful!) day, but I have put off writing this to the point where my mind stubbornly refuses to compose an enthralling anecdote. Sorry.
9 August-- A word to the wise: when you purchase ice cream or frozen yogurt, it's typically advisable to get a spoon as well. I neglected this breathtakingly obvious fact today. I have some excuse, considering that we were in a rush to get upstairs to say goodbye to one of the several interns leaving today, and that this mission was already delayed by me needing to borrow some change. (Who'd think that on Tuesday the cafeteria would charge for frozen yogurt at a flat rate but on Friday it'd be by weight?) Anyhow, after rushing upstairs and saying goodbyes, I realized that I was lacking the crucial utensil. I canvassed the upstairs and downstairs kitchens in the office for plastic spoons, with no avail. Finally I found a very large black ladle, at least 2" by 2", and decided this was the best I could do. So I ate my orange creme frozen yogurt out of a spoon that barely fit in my mouth, and I plugged away on (or shirked off) the boring work I was asked to do, and I said goodbye to many of my fellow interns, and I finally made it home for the weekend.
8 August-- In lieu of a bit of brilliance of my own, I point you to Shannon's page, wherein she discusses a knitting magazine which reveals that no, my friends are not the only college students weird enough to knit in their free time, which was my original hypothesis. This intrigued me enough that I invested a good 15 minutes and registered online at the Interweave Knits Magazine homepage, searching in vain for an online version of the article; it did not, of course, convince me to get up off the couch and take the approximately three minutes to walk across the street to Barnes and Noble, where Shannon informed me I could find the aforementioned magazine, to read the article in full.
7 August-- Washington DC's Metro system has many failings. The exorbitant prices, for one. The inconvenience of having to swipe your card both before and after you ride the Metro. And the strict rules against eating and drinking on the train or the platform, which prompt complete strangers to look at me with concern if I transgress, saying "You'd better put that away!" in attempts to save me from impending fines. One thing that the Metro system seems to be adequate at, however, is informing riders of the end of the line, with their blinking lights and repeated announcements that all riders must leave the train. But today, apparently, the lights and sounds failed to distract me from German U-boats sinking Allied ships in the Atlantic, and I didn't notice anything unusual until the train came to a halt and then switched direction in the middle of a dark tunnel and I realized that I was the only one in the car. It was only then that I remembered that I had never actually checked the signs to make sure that I was onboard a train that went to my stop at the end of the line, instead of ending only midway at Grosvenor, as the Metro has an irritating tendency to do. So when the train pulled back to the Grosvenor platform on its way back into the city, I got off and waited for the next train that went all the way to my stop. And it would have been nothing more than an amusing anecdote had this delay not resulted in me ultimately missing the shuttle to the apartment by approximately 45 seconds and having to wait a half-hour for the next one. Perhaps it would be wise to pay attention in the future.
6 August-- Today I got a chance to play DC tourist, seeing things that I probably never would've gotten around to if Eileen and her family weren't in town. This morning Eileen and her parents and sisters came by the office, and we headed over to the Capitol, looking at places like the Rotunda, the statue gallery, and the old Supreme Court chamber. For me, the Capitol building consists of the places I need to go for work: the Senate floor and the reception room, the press gallery, and Paul's hideaway; I'd never been to most of the places we went today before. Of course, this resulted in me being a less than stellar tour guide, and so my main function was having the staff ID that allowed us to move about, while asking the people I was supposedly leading, "If you see any of the arrows for the tour on the wall, let me know! Hmmm, which way did we come in? I wonder what's down there. Hey, maybe if we go up these stairs-- I guess not." Anyhow, I met up with them again for dinner with my family at a restaraunt on top of a hotel with a great view and overpriced food, where I was somewhat frightened by the ability of Eileen and her mother to name all the children of all the presidents from the twentieth century and a fair number from before that.
5 August-- Recess, time for recess! No, not the time in elementary school when you get to run around outside and play on the playground, but the time during the year when the Senate is out of session, Paul goes back to Minnesota, and those of us in the office get to kick back and relax a bit. One of the benefits is that I get to sleep a little later and don't have to get up until about 7:40 AM; another benefit is that there's more downtime. I took advantage of this time to play euchre with my friends online, which was pleasurable completely out of proportion to the experience itself. I just got a huge kick out of playing cards in Washington DC with my friends despite the fact that they were in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It's good that such a delighful social pastime can be shared despite geographical distance. I think that after we graduate from college, we should pick a time and meet online every week to play euchre and talk, no matter where we may be. In the meantime, I'll just play on the computers at work and hope to convince friends to join me.
4 August-- Today my family and I got together with a lot of relatives from my mom's side of the family, which is always an experience. Although it would have been a good time to reflect on age, considering that it was my great-uncle's 90th birthday. Instead, I reflected on youth, and specifically marriage. While I have been confronted, this summer in particular, with the abundance of young twenty-somethings getting married, today was my first chance to see the specimen in the flesh-- specifically, my second cousin's 25-year-old wife, and her 24-year-old engaged sister. I must admit I stared a bit, although I hope I wasn't too rude. This girl looked about 21, like any college student you've ever seen, and she was married! I'm a "twenty-something" myself now, after all, although there isn't much of a "something" yet. Despite the fact that there are parts of me that love the idea of marriage, it's also a very frightening thought that kids around my age are getting married. I don't feel that old!
3 August-- In some ways, I'm amazed at how content I am with life right now. It's good to have a few months of summer, and although I miss school and my friends, I feel like there's a lot that's good about right now, and I'm not nearly as impatient to get the summer over with as I used to be. It's good to work instead of have classes, and have the nights and weekends without feeling like there's schoolwork that needs to be done. It's good to have the free time to do the leisure reading that never ever seems to happen during the school year. It's good to have different experiences from the routine of school, despite how much I enjoy the bulk of that routine. And although I miss my friends, I think in a lot of ways it's healthy and good for me to have this sort of distance from everybody, some time for me to spend with myself. I'm not counting down the days until 19 September anymore; I'm just taking each day as it comes, and generally keeping my mind free of any sort of heavy thoughts.
2 August-- I've spent much of today, or at least the latter part of it, wrapped up in poetry, which is far from a bad way to spend an evening. This all began a few days ago, when I randomly stumbled upon Langston Hughes' poem Let America be America again. I'd read excerpts from it in the past, but it was only when I read the whole poem this week that I realized and appreciated how beautiful and powerful it is, and it really amazed me. I'm currently trying to learn the whole thing by heart, but in the meantime I was trying to think of some way I could put it up on this site, to share it with everyone, and I ended up deciding I should create a whole section full of poems. One of the biggest benefits of starting to compile my favorite poems has been the opportunity to explore more of Pablo Neruda's poetry, which is so stunning that I constantly regret that I'm not fluent enough to truly appreciate it in the original Spanish. I plan to spend more time on this very enjoyable pastime in the future, and I must admit that all of this has inspired me to try to capture on paper the poem-fragments that have been floating through my own mind for months.
1 August-- Well, I've had my compliment of the week, seeing my site mentioned in the same sentence as Newtonline, that late great home of Internet wit and wisdom. (Thanks, Shannon!) A smile like that was needed, especially in the wake of the news that PARC's been charged for $1300 worth of spring damages, which will deplete our damage account, maintenance account, and take a nice large chunk out of social money. Unless we can find which individuals did the damage and charge them (highly unlikely) or talk the powers-that-be out of the exorbitant repair prices (even more unlikely), money that PARCers could be having fun with this fall will be going towards fixing holes, screens, and the table in the basement. It's so frustrating to have to pay for the actions of the destructive people who just happened to have lived in our building.
Last updated 14 August, 2002