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Decimally Obsessed January 30, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Many humans are obsessed with numbers that end in zero. We make a big deal about turning ages or celebrating anniversaries that are multiples of 10. The idea that 30 or 40 or 50 is more significant than 13 or 37 or 48 is arbitrary. I know this.

But speaking of arbitrary (and obsessions), I had this thought the other day, after realizing that my number of visits to the gym had hit the 75+ mark: Could I hit a count of 100 before my birthday?

A quick look at my number of visits thus far (82 since June 30, counting today), the number of days left til March 2 (31), the average number of days that I tend to go to the gym (3? 4?), and the number of days I’ll be away the next month (4–6?) made it clear that it’s possible, but not likely, that I can make this goal.

That said, I have in fact worked out 179 times since June 30. It’s just that 97 of those workouts have happened somewhere other than the gym. These “other workouts” include staying at home and getting on the NordicTrack, going ice skating or cross-country skiing, taking a power walk or the occasional hike, biking, and doing yoga. My pattern is to work out five or six times a week and try to mix it up a bit.

But I’m realizing I should be going to the gym maybe a little more, which isn’t always convenient, given my deadlines. And now I’ve got this get-to-100-by-my-birthday thing in my head.

Then today, after my workout, I stopped to look at what those certificates were on the bulletin board. They were certificates for all the people who have been to the gym 100 times or more!

How weird is that? And now I feel competitive. I mean, they know me there. I’m truly a regular. But not nearly as regular as these dozen or so others. The gym staff is messing with me psychologically, and it’s working.

This, of course, when I’m about to leave for Portland for a few days and in all likelihood will be coming back to deadline hell.

Obviously, the number at the gym isn’t that important if I’m working out almost every day anyway. And I don’t want to limit my exercise to gym only. But now I want my hundred. And it’s gonna bug me if I can’t get to my gym 18 times in the next 31 days, the next four of which are definitely out.

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Boots January 28, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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One day, years ago, back in our Takoma Park apartment, as I pulled on a pair of sturdy, grippy nasty-weather boots, I said to Tim, “I want a life where* I have to do this a lot more often.”

Now I have it. And I like it.

(*Yes, I probably said where. I say a lot of things I wouldn’t print.)

Glimpses January 23, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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On Veteran’s Day, just after the election of his successor, President Reagan spoke at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. I had never been in the real-live presence—however many hundreds of feet away—of an American president before (oddly, I had been in the room with a Canadian prime minister). Even though I’d voted against the guy twice, I decided to attend. This involved, basically, a long walk across the street from my place of employment and, likely, permission from my boss.

It was a good speech, delivered eloquently. I was glad I went.

During the next four years, I caught nary a glimpse of the president.

But in January 1993, I was working mere blocks from the mall, and some coworkers and I attended President Clinton’s inauguration “over lunch.” It was great fun. We got surprisingly close to the Capitol, given everything, and I, by this time a birder, had my binoculars with me. Between the binoculars and the JumboTrons, we saw and heard enough to know that we’d been there.

I saw Clinton twice more before leaving DC. Once, friends from Vermont came for a visit, and as we were showing them around, the president had the courtesy to have his motorcade pass us. This scored us some big host points.

The last time, the cherry blossoms were in bloom. During the briefness of blossoms, I’d try to use my lunch hour to walk around the Tidal Basin. One day, things were a bit more crowded than usual. Turned out the president was going to give a speech. I waited and heard it. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about. I do remember feeling lucky to have run into him again.

I thought about trying to get to Obama’s inauguration. For about a second. I knew my body, with its particular issues, would not be up to hours of standing around in the cold. I knew how hard it would be to get downtown. I have friends living in that area who absolutely refused to try. Not only was my former place of employment shut down on Tuesday, but it was closed Wednesday as well—a godsend, said a contact there, given how messed up the trains were.

The chances of getting on the mall were practically nil. The chances of seeing President Obama even niller.

A couple of friends traveled there; both had access to office buildings on the parade route from which to watch things unfold. Sue didn’t get to see the Obamas. They got out of the car before her building, got back in before they reached her, and got out again after they had passed. Leyla was luckier. She got a good look.

Sue snapped some good photos, though, some of which I’ll post here:

inaug1p4

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I spent the entire day and evening by the woodstove in a cozy Vermont home watching the inauguration with friends. It was great.

Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve thought it would be cool to see a president in person. I experienced a few wish-I-was-there jabs.

And between the inauguration, location shots on 24 this season, and Tony Bourdain’s DC episode this week, I’ve almost felt a little homesick.

The Stars January 16, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Even though you have not read the book, had no intention of reading the book, what with the books you decided you must read now, you go for the food and the company and the night out, and at the end of the evening one woman announces that a front wheel of her front-wheel-drive is in a ditch and another offers to call her husband to come tow it but the sense of the meeting is that we should all try before resorting to that, and boots and hats and scarves and mittens are donned, but you are last to your boots, the gaiter-topped L.L. Bean ones with the Gore-Tex lining, and as you are pulling them on and lacing them up and pulling the gaiters tight, and as ten women are pushing out the door into the bitter cold night, the host’s not-yet-year-old dog decides that now is the time to love you, and you must love it back, and you do, but that, plus thanking your two hosts profusely, puts you far behind the others, and then you must leave your bag in your car and that borrowed movie in your sister’s car and in the distance you see the light from the stranded car and can hear, a little, the effort going into getting it out of the ditch, and you walk the long drive, flashlight in pocket just in case, though you know it’s not needed, because even on this moonless night the snow is so white it gives you a light source from below, and you look up and the stars are arresting—so many of them, you could get lost in them (and you can think something cliché like that and not even care)—and you feel so lucky to be here, so lucky that maybe a tear would form and drip down your cheek, but it is ten below zero (F) and you know better than to let that happen, and you reach the road just as the nine have pushed the one into it, and everyone tromps triumphantly back to the house, back to the tight cluster of cars that will have to unravel one by one, but oh, the stars. The stars.

If I’m Not Posting, What Am I Doing? January 14, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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  1. Working. Fly-fishing manuscripts and birth-control flash cards.
  2. Working out. Ice skating, x-country skiing, NordicTrack, classes at the gym that leave me hobbling.
  3. Working out the kinks. Appointments with health professionals who deal with the unbearable tightness of being.
  4. Not the Kinks, but the Northshire Early Music Ensemble—went to hear them play.
  5. Playing on Internet too much. Damn you, Facebook addiction!
  6. Checking the Piazza Bra web cam to see when they take the star down.
  7. Checking out Helen’s hair.
  8. Drinking red wine with Lynda in her bathroom at Happy Hour with New Kittens in Enclosed Space.
  9. Hosting a dinner party.
  10. Catching up on taped programming. Damn you, TV addiction!
  11. Wondering why the daily Google alert for my name brought back a link to “Roman Polanski moves to get rape conviction dropped.”
  12. Paying bills and taxes.
  13. Making excuses. Clearly.

Facebook: Addictive Timesuck January 7, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I joined Facebook quite a while ago. Maybe a year ago. Maybe not quite. I did it when a friend’s daughter invited me. For a while, I think I was “friends” with three people, two of them teenagers. I would check in on their pages occasionally. But the whole poking, sending gifts, throwing snowballs thing? I didn’t have time for that. Plus, any acceptance of/participation in these activities meant signing up for something, giving access to my information. Forget it.

Then, last fall I was in some Portland bar with Len, who was telling me I just had to get more active on Facebook. How great it was. It’s amazing what Len can influence me to do, whether I’m under the influence or not (see “Girl,” story of overpriced bag). I immediately and obediently got online and began friending* people, starting with Len.

And I discovered that Facebook is fun. I love taking a quick glance at people’s status updates (e.g., on December 31, “Indigo . . . hopes that tonight she’ll be burning Sugartown.”). I have some pretty creative friends who write some pretty creative one-liners, and I enjoy banter.

Facebook can be banter central.

I like checking out people’s photos, even though I’m too lazy/ignorant/busy to post many myself.

There’s something about Facebook that makes you feel like you’re a little bit in touch with someone, albeit (in many cases) barely. But barely feels better than not at all. Usually.

Some of my Facebook friends are people I haven’t seen in years. Some are my blog friends, people I’ve never met (you know who you are—and if more of you want to be my Facebook friend, that can be arranged). Some are my next-door neighbors, so it’s good to get handle on what’s happening over there, as we seem to get more computer than face time.

A woman I sort of knew in school recently friended me. I was flattered that she had, and I accepted, wrote on her wall, and haven’t heard one word from her. I don’t get that. And there’s a guy who I’m sure friended me as a result of giving Facebook access to his entire address book. I don’t know him, really, but he’s a fun read.

I have only ignored one friend request so far (not outright rejected it), but that’s because it’s a guy I don’t know personally who might be submitting a manuscript to me in the future. I can’t see giving him access to my Facebook page.

The thing is, Facebook has become an addictive timesuck. I find myself somewhat obsessively checking my account (probably to avoid doing other things). Poetic status updates beckon me. I get constant alerts through e-mail—that’s enough to keep me going back and bantering more. It is just too much fun seeing what my favorite-little-camper-who-is-now-in-her-forties is up to right now. (Do we both still harbor a love for tapioca? Inquiring minds want to know!)

No doubt I’m blogging a little less because I get sucked into the Facebook vortex.

And the irony? Len is hardly ever on Facebook. Seriously. Hardly ever.

*Yes, I know the proper verb is befriending. That’s not a word you see much on Facebook.

Burning Sugartown January 1, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Our buddies Deb and Dan had a New Year’s Eve party last night. We had a fabulous time for all the usual reasons: We’re surrounded by friendly and fascinating people in this ’hood, and a bunch of them were gathered together in one room for a bunch of hours. Amazingly, all these people can cook (really, really well). Potlucks in Vermont tend to surpass the quality of most restaurants in the area. Enough of these folk are wine snobs that we also drank really well. There was a fire going in the fireplace, and it was a three-dog night in at least two senses.

More than anything, though, I was looking forward to burning Sugartown.

Deb had explained this recent family tradition to me more than once. As I understand it, everyone gets together and—à la Martha Stewart—creates an entire town out of sugar cubes and candy. People create their own themed buildings. This year Deb’s hunting cabin featured pretzel logs and mounted deer heads with antlers (I think the antlers were made from some shoestring-type red licorice product—perhaps Deb will chime in if I’m wrong). Dan made a disco in which a rave was in progress. Attendants were mostly jelly-bean based. There was a DJ with headphones and three turntables. There were jelly beans dancing, doing drugs, making out, all in varying degrees of undress. The walls were covered in sparkly candy.

There was a soccer field, game in progress, with a scoreboard. An elaborate orchestra with candy beings playing instruments had been dismantled by the dog, who, in a jealous rage upon not being included in a dinner outing a few nights previous, had pushed a chair close enough to the display to do some devouring damage. We got to see what was left of it.

When the Sugartown tradition began, Deb threw the displays out at the end of the season. She found this dissatisfying. Thus began the tradition of burning Sugartown at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It was that tradition I was dying to witness.

We had a snowstorm yesterday, and there was a possibility that it would be too windy for a fire. But by 11 p.m., it appeared all was well. The wind had pushed the clouds along, then died down, so when we ventured into the cold to huddle around the fire pit, the sky was that mass of Vermont stars that is so beautiful that—as some character said in Big Night, I think, in a thick Italian accent—you have to kill yourself.

One by one the buildings were dumped into the fire. Their cardboard bases caught first. Eventually the air filled with that burning sugar smell, that caramely smell, a sweetness that occasionally, briefly, hit me like the boiling down of sap to syrup. There, around the burning Sugartown at midnight, we Veuve-Clicquot-toasted the new year: to friends, to Vermont, to those jelly beings who gave their lives in sacrifice as we all burn with hope for a better world.