Wednesday, November 29, 2006

still fingers.

i opened this "new post " screen, and my fingers just sat on the keys. i typed a paragraph and a half about something that didn't need saying; i deleted it.

truth be told, i don't have much right now. i want to have something - i'm starting to realize i'm going to need to work a little harder at it in order to have something on such a regular basis. and that's well and good, because i should be writing more, even when i don't want to. nobody wants to write all the time, but all good writers often make themselves do it anyway. and i don't want to give up on being a good writer.

but i don't have anything now. anything except a tired head and slow fingers. i should write anyway, but not today.

ah the joy of goals - they can always begin tomorrow.

your wednesday one-liner.

courtesy of Overheard in New York, a statement that is not to be believed:

Conductor: There's another local train directly behind this one. I would never lie to you.

--W train to Astoria

don't fall for it! they do lie! all of them.

whenever you hear a public transit conductor say this, know that it is true only about 30% of the time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


you know that you're going insane when...

you spend four months on the hunt for a pair of black ankle boots, because the pair that you have you don't actually like, and then you finally buy a pair of black ankle boots that you think you like, until you get home and realize they are almost exactly identical to the pair you have that you don't like.

same heel height. same stitching. same angle in the sole. holy cow would you look at that, same maker. only different is that the old ones have a square toe, and the new ones have a round toe.

a different-shaped toe does not an entirely new ankle boot make.

so now i have to return these boots (because really, kate, they're the same boots you already have. no rationalizing out of that fact.), and continue my search with the knowledge that sometimes, i don't know the difference between something that i like and something that i don't like.

this reality does not bode well for, oh, the rest of my life.

can i just tell you?

i loved the new bond movie, casino royale. we went to see it on friday night (and almost missed it because we couldn't find a parking space. at a 14 screen movie theater! in suburban virginia! but don't get me started), and i was just rinsing out my cereal bowl at the sink this morning thinking, "man, i loved casino royale."

this thought was precipitated by the today show, blathering in the background, which was talking about hollywood's box office bump this weekend. those damn dancing penguins were number one, of course, but bond came in second with about $30 million in revenue. the highlights came on and i was like, "ooooh. bond."

and then i stood at the sink and thought about it some more!

so in short, if you haven't gone, i highly recommend it. and then come back and tell me if you think daniel craig is the best bond since connery. because, you know, that's what i've heard. from some.

i'm just sayin'.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

survival, football, and weirdness.

firstly, i survived the week. just wanted to note that. though i do have a headache that started friday and just won't seem to go away.

secondly, today is going to be a difficult day in the Cat household. the patriots are playing the bears at 4:00 pm. the battlelines are drawn, the various sporting paraphernalia is donned and displayed - it is not going to be a harmonious three hours in this apartment come game time. to wit: on thursday, when the topic of "the big game" on sunday came up, and when someone had the audacity to ask "what game?," there were two separate responses:

BoyCat: "the bears/pats game"
me: "the pats/bears game"

you see the subtle but important distinction? then we spent a few minutes arguing which was more technically correct.

thirdly, something quite odd happened on saturday morning. i opened up my email to see a new anonymous comment to this blog, made around 4:00 a.m., which you can find in the post below. it reads: "kate...i never made the girls next door comment you attributed to me in may...that's not something i'd confused me with someone else."

hmmm. the girls next door comment in may. i attributed that to neil everett, from espn. what the??

according to my trusty statcounter, i soon discovered that someone in or around avon, connecticut googled "neil everett espn" around 3:00 a.m., and on the 13th page of results, found my blog post. i can only assume, as there were no other visits to the blog anywhere near that time frame, that this is also the person who left the comment...about neil the first person.

which is weird, right?

it's weird regardless of what's true. if it really was neil everett googling himself at 3:00 a.m. and leaving comments on blogs, well, that's unexpected. if it's someone living very near espn headquarters, googling sportscenter personalities, and then posing as them in blog comments, well, that's flat out bizarre.

but that's what i love about blogging! a little bit of weirdness is always just around the corner.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

couch dispatch.

-i am very, very full.

-we hosted a thanksgiving for six today, and nothing caught on fire, nobody cried or yelled, and all the food tasted - do you believe it? - delicious.

-BC football is on right now. therefore i am full and happy.

-i finished my mammoth editing job last night around 10:00 pm, and then promptly did a happy dance, filled a custard cup of excess peanut butter pie filling (BoyCat was prepping for the day of cooking ahead), and ate it curled up on the couch watching an old episode of sex and the city. but i deserved it. for serious.

-we now have the pseudo-cats-in-law (currently reposing, luckily, in a nearby hotel) for another two days. tomorrow it is off to the smithsonian, and perhaps the new bond movie?

-and ok, really, i'm wicked full.

Monday, November 20, 2006

where am i? what day is it?

i have a week's worth of work that i am catching up on at enviroland (thank you, week of retreats and trainings!), i have a 500+ page document that i am editing for my other job, and thanksgiving is in three days. at my apartment. with BoyCat's parents and aunt and uncle.

i think if i mainline advil and booze until saturday, i'll be ok.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

be careful what you wish for.

as much as it pains me to end this post title with a preposition and a period, well, that about sums it up.

if i'm being melodramatic, that is. which i am.

so we got our new laptop yesterday, an event that should have resulted in much cheering and leaping about. and it did, for a little while. then we tried to get our wireless router to work.

i can't even talk about it. suffice to say, a router that worked fine in chicago does not work in DC, despite two hours on the phone with tech support in india. then today, i tried to start tackling a giant work project, only to discover that dell had sent me an outdated version of microsoft word. this is after i paid extra just for the privlege of having microsoft word on the damn thing. i only discovered this through the sage wisdom of my friend jared, who, while unable to prevent the two hours of hair-pulling-out prior to talking with me, has saved me countless hours of wailing and gnashing of teeth with this information. for this, i thank him. and for potentially helping me get my hands on Office 2003, i thank him even more.

long story short, technology cuffed me upside the head and kicked me in the shins this weekend. so i'm going to stop composing this post right now, lest the computer burst into flames.

and c'mon, you know it happens. you've seen the video on youtube.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

the most wonderful time of the year.

no, i do not speak of christmas, or thanksgiving, or even that most venerated and enjoyed of holidays, secretarys' day. i refer, of course, to today, the 25th anniversary of SisterCat's arrival on the planet.

yes folks, for 25 loooooong years, SisterCat has shared with us her blindingly brilliant witticisms, her subtly nuanced arguments (some would call them "opinions," but i find that far too limiting for what SisterCat espouses), and her unimpeachable fashion sense with the world.

i mean seriously, people, you should have seen her first day of kindergarden ensemble. pink corduoroys, flowered turtleneck, sneakers - it was masterful.

anyway, i just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge this momentous event. happy birthday, SisterCat, the world would be a far less interesting place without you in it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

ex nihilo.

the girl raised up her camera, looked through the viewfinder, and clicked. she was being hurried along by her tour group, their shoes shuffling and squeaking along the gleaming marble hallway. the guide had just spent five full minutes describing the rose window, and she had half-listened, staring intently at the blueness of it – the brightness of it. it was only as the group began to depart, wandering away toward some other nook of the national cathedral, some other section of significance and importance, that she was shaken from her daze and brought the camera to her eye. people were moving around her. she focused on the blue, on the glow and the gray circumference. she pressed the button.


i stand outside, cardboard box of starbucks coffee in one hand, a plastic bag containing two leaking cups of whole milk and half & half in the other. a thin splatter of dairy product stains the left leg of my jeans, and for this i silently curse business meetings and mornings in general. the rest of my department slowly arrives, and we stand around in the dull wednesday sun, waiting. we are here to retreat, to discuss, to reflect on things not entirely clear to us.

my boss, robert, used to raise money at this place. that’s why we are even able to come and gather here – he has a few old friends and a few old keys. his former colleague and current tour guide meets us outside the west entrance to the cathedral, and she tells us the story of the iconography. adam and eve. creation. ex nihilo – out of nothing.

but really, nothing comes of nothing.


in the picture, when it’s developed, the top of a head is visible in the lower right hand corner. it’s the head of a tall, thin classmate – a closely-shaved silhouette that barely makes it into the frame. it doesn’t obscure the rose window at all, which she is pleased about at first. sooner or later, she largely fails to notice him when she looks at the photo. he has become merely another part of the picture, not critical, not detrimental.

at first she looked at the photo often, as she does with the dozens of others she’s taken over the course of the week. she was thirteen, and very interested in pictures of herself and the people that she knows. she and her friends documented nearly ever moment of their week in washington, sublime statues and threadbare hotel rooms alike. after awhile, the picture, along with all of the others, got tucked away in a box, in a closet, in a basement.

she moved along, and the picture remained.


as we break for lunch, the room in the west tower is almost unbearably cold. Robert warned of the potential chill, but the long-sleeved shirt and wool sweater that i am wearing aren’t even enough. the group mills about the room, slowly moving towards the circular staircase that goes through the carillon. the thick ropes of the bell tower dangle through the ceiling, a circular temptation.

you can do anything, robert had said as we made our way up to the room, but don’t touch the ropes.

the largest bell, connected to the last rope, weighs 24,000 pounds. as my last few co-workers drift toward the door, i stare at a loop, which is connected to a rope, which is connected, invisible through the ceiling, to such a metal monstrosity. i long to grasp it with both hands, to steady myself, and to pull with all my might.

i want to announce something, and to do it without words.


she’s not sure where the picture is now, honestly. it is probably in an envelope with other photos from that year – three inches by five inches, slightly sticky with age, and utterly without import to anyone except a small delegation from a certain time and place.

the boy whose head was captured in the corner was named dennis. she’s surprised that now, after all this time, she remembers this – she can’t even remember the last time she looked at the picture. but she remembers it.

a few years ago, she heard that dennis had been killed when his car crashed into a tractor-trailer on the highway. she had not seen or spoken to him in years, and could not be sad in anything but a cosmic way. because really, no one should die under a semi-truck. no one should have to finish it all so soon, and like that.

she did wonder if he had still worn his hair so short, cut so close.


as we wait near a small service elevator, robert searches for a key on his crowded key ring. the low, immaterial sound of my co-workers making small talk thickens the air, and the elevator whirs to a stop in front of us. the lift gives us four simple choices – ancient, grimy buttons labeled 4, 3, 2, and 1. robert chooses 3, and with a small exclamation of delight, also finds the key that he was looking for.

down a thin, dim hallway and through a metal door, we emerge into open space, and i am surprised, almost, by the volume of it. i am against the wall, fifty feet above the nave of the cathedral, and a low heavy balcony separates me from the gleaming marble floor below. i step out, forward, one hand on the balcony and one on the wall. with my eyes, i follow the line of the arches in the vaulting, the repeated curving that supports the whole building without a bolt or a nail. it is all held up by the force of pressure – by the continuing push and pull.

i turn away from the air and towards what is close, what is sturdy. it is only then that i realize i am standing directly underneath the rose window. i am so close that i hardly recognize it; i can only see pieces of the whole, small illuminated sections of blue and red glass, sweeping bends of stone.

i am so close that i could touch it.

it is quiet - the other people on the balcony are hushed, and in the mid-day lull nothing moves below. i raise up my hand, and the momentum of everything slows. i am lifted up out of the river, and i feel in the absence of that roaring stream of time a peculiar sense of calm. i have been given a moment, but just one.

i reach, up, up on tiptoe. with the full stretch of my shoulder, i can grasp the edge of it – the solid circle that contains the rose. the limestone is cool and smooth, and the curve fills my palm and presses outward. i hold on, curl my fingers around it, and close my eyes. nothing comes of nothing, and i am here now.


as we make our way off of the balcony, the far end of the nave fills with echoing noise. a tour guide leads a group of school kids along the marble corridor, their jumbled exclamations rising and falling like a wave. i strain to see, but i cannot make out their faces.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

not dead. yet.

sorry peoples, i forgot to post that i was heading out of town for two and a half days for a enviroland staff retreat this week! i apologize for how much you must have missed my verbal stylings since last friday. but somehow, you got through it, and for that i commend you.

i am pretty beat from running around southern pennsylvania for the last two days, so not much more from me at the moment. i will say that, in sum, work conferences are weird. i've never been with an organization that was big enough to have one of these off-site retreats, so it was a totally new experience. random company roommates, hotel kitchen food (though their hash browns at breakfast were delicious!), horrendous conference room wallpaper, and too many voices heard through microphones.

on the upside, though, there was free booze and a poker game going each night. so i can't really complain.

now i am facing two more days of in-town trainings this week, and one real day of work before the weekend. why they don't just give us friday off in order to digest all that training, i really don't know.

ok, i'm off to find out if anything actually happened in the world while i was gone...

Friday, November 10, 2006

help us help ourselves.

lately, among some of the big sites of the feminist blogosphere, there has been a lot of virtual ink spilled and virtual mud slung about what makes a good feminist. if this sounds like deja vu all over again, it is - this tempest in a teapot happens, in some form or another, every six months or so. last time twisty was the match and blowjobs were the powderkeg; in this lastest incarnation it was jill (responding to twisty, true - she's such a troublemaker!) and the claim of being a "fun feminist".

these discussions, while useful and healthy at their foundation, are also freaking exhausting. and it can get pretty disheartening to see how much the "divide and conquer" tactic an oppressor uses - keep them fighting with each other, and they'll never get their act together to fight us! - still works like a charm on the feminist movement. not that the patriarchy is out there orchestrating every dust-up and disagreement, but it's amazing how much we can get caught up in judging one another rather than directing that frustration and anger at a proper target.

this is where lauren (formerly of feministe fame, and now blogging solo) comes in. she's pretty fed up with all the bullshit, and wants to move forward with something collaboratively and supportively feminist. enter the Help Us Help Ourselves project, in which women* contribute tips, tricks, ideas and skills to help other women get a leg up on life. the project is centered on helping women with issues around money, finances, and bureaucracy, but this can mean so many things! see lauren's post on the project for some ideas and jumping off points, and then think of something that you can contribute to help a woman out.

at present, i can only think of basic instructions on how to do a triple time step, so i (obviously!) haven't chimed in yet. but i will...i've gotta have some useful skills rattling around in my brain somewhere...

*i say women because this project has its basis in an idea of collaboration among women, but i am almost certain it's not exclusionary in that sense. if you have an idea and want to chip in, you should, regardless of you sex and/or gender!

friday cat blogging, where's waldo edition.

we were a little worried that when we moved from chicago to DC, CatCat would be distraught over losing one thing: her beloved hiding space in the back of the closet. in the old apartment, we only had a curtain over the doorframe to the closet, so she could sneak in and out of there as she pleased, away from prying eyes and reaching hands (usually trying to take her to the vet). where would she hide in the new place?

turns out she had a number of options that pleased her. now, when she wants to disappear, she usually tucks away underneath one of the couches, up against the wall or in between the two big pillows we store under there. at times when she's less concerned about being inaccessible and more concerned with just blending in to the furniture, she goes here:

i think she figured out fairly quickly that she was far from invisible under there, but she still likes to tuck away under there sometimes, and monitor the comings and going from the safety of a hiding place.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

double take.

even though i have been living in DC for over a month, i still have moments when i'm still in chicago.

like this evening, for instance. i was walking back to the metro after work, and a man was walking toward me on the sidewalk. he was holding two big, green paper shopping bags in each hand. after i second, i realized that i had immediately assumed that they were marshall field's shopping bags. which would mean that the guy had walked a long way.

and of course, in the real world, i am in DC, and marshall field's shopping bags don't even exist anymore (except on ebay).


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

oh my god.

the AP and NBC news just called the virginia race for webb. if the montana victory holds, then the democrats have control of congress. the last time that this was true, i was 14 years old. i was barely out of middle school. i was wearing flannel, for gods sake.

to celebrate, i just did a flailing, ridiculous happy dance around my living room and scared the hell out of CatCat.

oh my god.

update: i find this headline - Youth turnout in election biggest in 20 years - particularly interesting. it only took young people six whole years to get off our asses and push back against the bush administration and the right-wing machine. or, is it these 18, 19, 20 year olds from a new, more civic-minded generation? i've been a bit skeptical of all this talk of the "millenials" being more focused on throwback "greatest generation" values like responsibility and community...these stats will certainly lend some fuel to that theoretical fire...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

some wine, some popcorn, and an electoral map.

it's election night, friends. and as much as i know that real "results" will probably not be available until tomorrow, or perhaps later (hey, that's a 21st century election for you!), i still can't help but tune the tv to msnbc and leave it there. i am trying to tough it out on HGTV right now ("what you get for the money" in manhattan is - surprise - not much), but soon i will give in and click over to to the babbling punditry and their obnoxious whiteboards. god, i really can't stand both tim russert and chris matthews, but i'll have them in my living room for the next 4 hours anyway. i have a definite streak of masochism in me when it comes to this stuff.

so, hoping against hope, i will wait and watch for a democratic deluge. i will hope even harder that if that wish comes true, that the dems will know what the hell to do with it.

update: congrats to deval patrick, the first black governor of massachusetts. yes, it is 2006, believe it or not. also, congrats to nancy pelosi, the first woman speaker of the house. holy crap, what happened to all the white men in the place?

oh right, they're still the overwhelming majority in government!

but still, it's cool.

update 2: oh my god, the senate is still in play. i went to sleep five hours ago, expecting that one of the three senate races would go republican and it'd be over. looks like they only definitively decided one race, missouri, and that went democrat. according to, the dems in the other two races are technically ahead.

holy mother, do i really dare to dream? or will a recount once again make me hurl inanimate objects against the wall? we'll see.

(oh yeah, and thanks to south dakota for rejecting the abortion ban and letting common sense and women's rights win the day for once.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

question of the day.

if the democrats win a majority in the both the house and the senate, will bush be impeached?

(and by the way - go vote.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

what're you gonna do.

so BoyCat and i woke up today, had some coffee and breakfast, and set off for the gym around 10:30. we were being oh so responsible and productive with our day. we arrive at the gym, and are promptly informed that the agreement our apartment complex has with the gym (which was set up because the complex's on-site gym is being renovated) has expired, and we can't work out there anymore. hmmm, that would've been good to know before getting changed and driving all the way over there! thanks, apartment complex!

so, upon receiving this unfortuate news, BoyCat and i did what any right-thinking people would do. we went to the liquor store.

behold, my find of the (late) morning:

shipyard! direct from federal jack's in kennebunkport, maine (the only bar from which i've ever been tossed - that's another dumb story though). how fun! so now i have a little slice (or six slices, to be exact) of new england in my fridge.

the following booze was actually not purchased today, but at a different store a few weeks ago. however, it was so funny that i had to a) buy it, and b) take a picture for you all:

love it. and finally, to make this a complete photo dump, BoyCat and i spotted this cruelty on a downtown street the other day:

that, my friends, is a picture of a chicago-style hot dog. it's on the side of a little foodstand cart, the likes of which you'll see all over downtown DC (and funnily enough, you'll never really see that much in downtown chicago). but these stands don't serve chicago-style hot dogs. i don't know if they just buy these carts wholesale - and cheap, hopefully, given their condition - from chicago or what, but i've seen more than one of them around. it is pure, unadulterated sadism for those recently relocated from chi-town.

i miss sport peppers, dammit.

Friday, November 03, 2006

friday cat blogging, fashion issues edition.

CatCat, while reposing on the couch, poses this pressing question:

"why do some women insist on wearing pantyhose with open-toed shoes? why???"

i can't give her a suitable answer.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

my hero.

i would like to shake this woman's hand. reading this story seriously made my afternoon.

i hope she gets her job back, but i gotta say, i doubt it. those unions aren't what they used to be, and directly insulting the president isn't the most smiled upon of activities these days...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

how much is in my checking account again?

i totally just bought a laptop. from dell. over the phone.

no one should make purchases of that size over the phone. makes it seem way too nonchalant. i hung up, and immediately needed to start breathing into a paper bag because holy shit i just spent our yet to be returned security deposit on one thing! and it only took, like, five minutes.

i think i need to lie down.

revolting headline of the day.

this is a real headline from a Maryland news outlet:

Court: Women Can't Say No After Start of Sex

hmmm. why is that? is there new research that indicates womens' vocal chords give out upon penetration? a bizarre chemical reaction that happens in our brains at the outset of intercourse that renders us unable to utter words?

oh, right - it's more important for a man to achieve orgasm that for a woman to be able to change her mind.

rebecca traister says:

Consider for a moment what this means: that once intercourse has started, a woman has no legal right to stop it. Not if it hurts, not if it feels wrong, not if something starts going badly. As soon as you say yes and begin the act, your freedom and ability to make and act on your own decisions simply evaporate.

shakes trenchantly observes:

The entire premise of this decision appears to be that women are not active players in the sexual act, but instead consent to turn their bodies over to their partners, who are then free to do with it whatever they please until they're damn well ready to be finished.

there are many things about these kinds of rulings that disturb me, but shakes's point is perhaps the most difficult for people to grasp. because on the whole, the issue of "consent" is an important (and unfortunately necessary) one. but it's difficult, because to focus so minutely on what does and does not constitute consent ends up painting women as passive recepticles of sex, not willing participants. women "consent" to sex, they don't actually "have" it! and that's not the direction in which i want to see sexual attitudes and ethics move.

it's sad that it has to be this way. it's sad that there have to be 50+ letters in response to traister's broadsheet post, with many letter writers not understanding that if we didn't live in a patriarchal society so rife with rape, assault, harassment and hatred towards women, we might not have to argue over these things! we wouldn't have to ask a court to tell a man to honor a woman's right to bodily integrity - and we certainly wouldn't have to watch that court deny it to her.