Monday, April 30, 2007

something is rotten in dc

it just seems weird that all these fires are happening in dc right now. maybe i am just paranoid that people want to bomb this city, but it seems really really freaky ...

Fire Races Through Georgetown Library
Key Neighborhood Archives May Have Been Destroyed

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 30, 2007; 3:34 PM

Smoke from the Georgetown branch of the D.C. Public Library billowed through a neighborhood of stately mansions today, as the library's archivist said it appeared important documents on the neighborhood were burning.

As he watched the smoke pouring out of the roof and second story of the building at 3260 R Street, N.W., Gerry McCoy, the archivist who also is librarian of the branch's Peabody Room, said photos, maps and oil paintings of the neighborhood were stored in the west end of the building, which he said was built in 1935. "This has always been my worst nightmare. I've always feared this would happen," he said. "I've always thought if there was a fire, what would I grab first."

Among the items in the collection, McCoy said, were files on every address in the neighborhood compiled from over "20 years worth of research." He said the oil paintings include a very valuable one by James Alexander Simpson of Georgetown resident, Yarrow Mamout, who was a freed slave. The collection also includes copies of the Maryland Gazette newspaper from 1775 and 1776, which reported the Declaration of Independence as a news story, according to McCoy. Other items include Civil War maps.

Alan Etter, a fire department spokesman, said no one was hurt in the blaze. Heavy smoke and damage kept firefighters out of the building more than two hours after the fire was reported at 12:30 p.m. Fire officials said they did not know the cause of the library fire.

"The building is in various stages of collapse," Etter said. "From the top of the ladder you can see sections of the roof the size of a [Ford] Crown Vic dropping into the second floor."

Etter added that he couldn't remember two, three-alarm fires in one day, referring to the Eastern Market.

The Georgetown branch and other D.C. libraries have no fire suppression systems, said Richard Levy, a member of the D.C. Library board of trustees and chairman of the facilities committee.

"We are in the process of renovating all of the branches. There are smoke detectors, but no sprinklers," he said.

Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the city, said it is common for libraries not to have any sprinklers because "the inadvertent letting off of water can be more damaging than smoke."

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who was on the scene, said "this is our historic flagship library."

more photos of eastern market

if you are interested in seeing more photos, they are depressing, click here

Historic Eastern Market Burns

i woke up this morning to a phone call from a friend telling me that eastern market had burnt down. i almost started crying. i eat breakfast there at LEAST once a week. on friday i ate there 3 times. i love it. i know the vendors; they know me. the other day i was having a crummy morning and was late for a meeting so i stopped by to get a sandwich. as i was leaving, anna, the woman behind the counter at market lunch told me to have a good day and then added, sincerely, "i love you kimberly". and i loved her and i loved that place. it was wonderful because people would just talk to you about anything: the new harris teeter going in and how they were trying to push out safeway, places to get your hair cut (this was particularly helpful when the girls were living with us), what should happen with john bolton, who should our next president be, etc. i mean this is dc. you can talk about anything (but religion: and even that is okay most of the time).

so this mornings news was devastating. i was surprised at how sad i was. i actually teared up. who would think that a building you don't own or live in could be so meaningful. it made me think of all the mosques and markets that are being destroyed in iraq and how it must feel to the common iraqi. the lose of community, or even an emblem of your community, is deep and sad.

i really hope that they rebuild the market. that it doesn't become commercialized with dean and delucas and subway sandwich shops. but that the same vendors will return. that the authenticity of the market will come back. i can still get beautiful flowers, yummy sandwiches, all sorts of delicious cheeses, and the worlds best bacon (according to lindsay).

i fear that there will be a tug of war between developers and residents. that politicians will do what politicians do: protect their power. i fear that the since of community we now feel will be bastardized by greed and perverted by selfishness. i hope this doesn't happen.

here are some photos from this morning. i will get some better photos from the post later. they have everything taped off so you can't get close and my little camera just doesn't really do it justice.

please note the melted glass

the ceiling through the windows

the glass was the real deal so when it got really hot, it just turned to custard

this is the most random use of police tape EVER!

below is an article from the washington post's paper this morning.

Fire coursed through the shops of the historic Eastern Market on Capitol Hill early Monday morning, gutting the southern half of the 134-year-old landmark.

It took 160 District firefighters two hours to extinguish the blaze, which tore through the roof and all but demolished the collection of meat, produce and other shops popular with neighborhood residents and throughout the region.

Fire chief Dennis L. Rubin said investigators believe the fire began in a dumpster behind the market, then spread to the building itself. Roads around the market, at 7th St. between C and D streets SE, were closed during the morning rush hour, the building still smoldering from the fire.

"This is devastating," said District fire spokesman Alan Etter. "Basically everything is charred and destroyed."

The building--which is owned by the D.C. government -- was empty and no one was injured. But the emotional scar was quickly apparent as shop owners, residents and customers gathered outside to hug and cry over the loss of their businesses and the loss of a community touchstone.

"This is a shocker. The most heart-wrenching thing is to see my customers," said Melvin Inman Sr., who has owned Market Poultry for 32 years. "The market is part of the community and the body of Capitol Hill."

Fire officials said they do not yet know what started the blaze in the dumpster, or what caused it to spread to the market structure. Investigators said they had also received reports of another dumpster fire late yesterday a few blocks from the market, and would search for any connections between the two.

"I don't think it is a total loss . . . I would not say that it is unusable," Etter said of the market. But "I would expect the whole building to be empty for some time."

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) toured the market with Rubin for about an hour starting at 7 a.m. and emerged vowing to rebuild it.

"This building has such great history and importance to the city," Fenty said. "We'll bring it back 100 percent. How could we not? It's going to take some resources and some good planning but . . . that's too much history to let get burned away."

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who lives on Capitol Hill and is a regular at the market on Saturdays, said she would seek federal funding to help in the rebuilding effort.

"Eastern Market is a one-of-a-kind landmark . . . of value to the country and not just the city," Norton told Fox 5 news. She said she sees fellow U.S. lawmakers, as well as many of her own constituents, on her weekly shopping excursions at the market. "This is a heartache and a headache at the same time."

Etter said the damage was most severe in the market's original South Hall, where a collection of 14 vendors sell fresh meat, cheese, poultry and produce in a European-style setting treasured by regulars and tourists. The center area of the complex was also badly damaged while the northern part, housing an arts and community center, was largely spared.

Firefighters entered the South Hall to fight the fire when they first arrived, Etter said, but were ordered out by commanders who feared the brick structure might collapse. They continued to battle the blaze from the outside, spraying water onto the roof and walls as flames and smoke filled the night sky.

"The roof has been just -- you know, when they get up there they have to chop holes in it just to ventilate," Etter said. "There's a lot of water damage, a lot of smoke and heat damage."

In continuous operation since 1873, Eastern Market was designed by noted architect Adolph Cluss and is a recognized National Historic Landmark. The market sits just off Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on the neighborhood's eastern edge.

Etter called it "the heart and soul" of Capitol Hill -- a fact apparent in the quick outpouring of emotion this morning.

"I don't know what I am going to do," said Tom Calomiris, whose family has owned the Calomiris and Sons produce stand for 62 years. "I grew up working in the market since I was eight years old. Hopefully they will fix it quickly so we can get back to work. It is a question of what the government wants to do. Our life is in their hands."

Fenty said the city would try to find another place for vendors to operate while the market is repaired. "For some of them, their entire livelihood has been taken away," he said. "If there's an alternate space we can find for them, we will do that."

The facility is the last remaining of the neighborhood food markets that dotted the capital before the advent of grocery stores and supermarket chains.

Neighborhood activists and preservationists have sparred with the city for years over how best to preserve the market and draw the maximum number of vendors to it.

The market is busiest on weekends, when hundreds of people wait in long lines to order fresh blueberry pancakes and crab cakes, stock up on fresh flowers and vegetables at an outdoor farmers market, and hunt for bargains at a flea market.

Police closed a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue SE in the hours after the blaze, but reopened it in time for the morning rush.

Etter said that 7th St. remained closed between C and D streets SE as of 7 a.m., and North Carolina and Independence avenues were still closed between 6th and 8th streets SE.

Friday, April 27, 2007

i don't like fox news

Fox News Sinks To New Low, Repeatedly Reports Parody Story As Actual News
On Tuesday, Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends” aired at least eight segments on a purported “news” story that was actually a parody article written by a publication similar to The Onion.

The backstory: Last week in the town of Lewiston, Maine, a group of Somalian Muslim middle school students were the subject of a cruel prank when their peers placed a ham steak next to them in order to personally offend the students. School officials filed a report because the students considered the act to be a hate/bias crime.

This actual story was then spoofed by a parody site called Associated Content, which made up quotes and details, such as the school’s intention to “create an anti-ham ‘response plan.’”

On Tuesday, Fox & Friends reported these parody quotes and details as actual news. Poking fun at the students, hosts asked whether ham was “a hate crime…or lunch?” and showed screen shots of ham sandwiches, starving Somalians, belching, animal noises, and mock “reenactments” of the incident. Ironically, the hosts assured viewers several times, “We’re not making this up!”

click here to watch compilation

Monday, April 23, 2007

You Are What You Grow

my friend trent sent me this NYT article today: here. the writer describes the weakness of farm subsidies and how these subsidies affect not only the american diet, but the mexican diet as well (see the tortilla crisis); global warming and the environment; and poverty in third world countries.

it might seem like a stretch, but he makes a compelling argument. i have to say that it feels good to not be owned by the american food industry. i get most of my produce from my garden or the csa. i get my dairy and other stuff (bread & eggs) from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania. i never ever shop in the middle of a grocery store (except for mint herb tea). i just get food. and it just kinda feels good to be out of that. i don't have to go to the store that often. and my food tastes so much better!

i don't want to sound snarky (which i think i do). but i think this is worth paying attention to.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

a house full of fun

last week we had a house full of fun!

dianna's mommy, becky, was in town to play a concert (besides saving children in india from leprosy and rearing 9 kids of her own, she is a concert violinist. who are these people? and why in the world do they hang out with me?) in order to keep up the facade of being cool enough to have these people as my friends, i planned to wow her with avocado and seared tuna salad. i think it worked. she called later in the weekend because we had forgotten to send her the recipe and she had promised the same kapow! effect for her husband... so here you go:

seared tuna salad kapow!
  • 1 tuna steak per person being served (make sure it is sushi grade...i get mine at costco and it is much better than the stuff at the fish market -- go figure.)
  • 1 hass avocado per person being served.
  • 1/2 red onion -- cut into paper thin slices
  • roasted sesame seeds ( i just buy raw ones and roast them in a frying pan)
cut up the avocado into bite size chunks
sear tuna on a hot frying pan. i season it with montreal seasoning. cut into bite size chunks.

the dressing is why this recipe is so kapow! (it is modified from a recipe from ina garten)
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice from 3 limes
  • 1 teaspoon of wasabi powder
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 3 T of crystal hot sauce or some kind of hot sauce like that
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • salt to taste
wisk it all together in a bowl.

toss avocados in the dressing. serve tuna, avocados, and red onions on plates. sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and drizzle with more dressing if desired.

then on saturday amy and josh (and jonah and ellie) came down to dc
(from william and mary)
we didn't get to hang out all that much, but we did
go to the air and space museum (WAY TOO CROWDED)
then walked over to the botanical gardens.
it was super fun. and perfect because of josh's new found love of orchids
he has been toying with the idea of joining the american orchid society
i think this pushed him over the edge
(plus the fact that he gets a student discount and a free orchid)

i didn't write down the names, but they were AMAZING
jonah loved them more than his fake smile lets on

these aren't orchids, but they are cool

ellie taking the stairs like a champ

i got home from the orchids and the greers to this:
only part of lindsay's family
from right to left
david, who while sitting next to me asked me what i looked like
issac, who discovered that we had a wardrobe and also
quoted the prologue of romeo and juliet to us (he is 7)
sarah, who is "really good at finding secret passage ways"
and benjamin, who says a couple of unrecognizable words, but thankfully
doesn't cry at night
rachel who is 11 is much to mature for this kind of tomfoolery.
in fact, because she will be 12 this year
and is basically an adult, she nearly earned the
right to sit at the grown up table
she made a strong argument. in the end,
we all just sat together.

david is also a ladies man
and had it bad for dianna

he loved the reciprocated love
he asked for her to come over every day he was here

and do they ever LOVE aunt lindsay (as she is known)
aunt lindsay spent the weekend making delicious meals for the house of 9
benjamin looks like he should be lindsay's son (sarah kinda looks
like lindsay's daughter too)
families and genes are really weird

i have no photos of marnie or dan ( mom and dad), which is a real bummer.
but needless to say, we had a blast with these critters running around our house
and it was sad to see them go.
but strangely a lot less energetic and kinda quieter. ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ending taxation without representation

yesterday i marched with my fellow district residents for a right to vote.

this is some awesome video about it!

please look at this: dcvote

if you want to help dc get the right to vote, please click here and fill out this form

i forgot my camera, so the best i can do it send some links.

this is an article from jack kemp about it:

Give D.C. residents the right to vote
By Jack Kemp
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How's this for irony: Headlines recently proclaimed that the White House was opposed to giving the vote to the more than 600,000 residents of our nation's capital, who, incidentally, are paying federal income taxes to send members of their families to Iraq and Afghanistan so as to guarantee the right to vote for the residents of those nations' capitals.

Even as the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives was passing the bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Tom Davis, R-Va., a spokesman for President Bush was saying the bill is unconstitutional without showing a modicum of sympathy or even a modest understanding of this irony.

The White House spokesman is putting the president in the position of outspoken opposition to expanding the democratic ideal here in the nation's capital, while simultaneously the White House argues the president has the constitutional authority to defend freedom and extend democratic rights to the people of Baghdad and Kabul.

I wrote last May: "Throughout our nation's history, District of Columbia citizens have given the full measure of their allegiance to the United States. They have fought in and died in every war in which the United States was engaged, they have paid billions in taxes, and they have provided labor and resources to the U.S. economy and government. Yet for 200 years, district residents have been bystanders in the governance of their nation."

With regard to the constitutional arguments, one of the leading conservative lights in the House of Representatives, Mike Pence of Indiana, recently wrote, "Opponents of D.C. voting understandably cite the plain language of Article I that the House of Representatives be comprised of representatives elected by 'the people of the several states.' If this were the only reference to the powers associated with the federal city, it would be most persuasive, but it is not. Article I, Section 8, Cl. 17 provides, 'The Congress shall have power ... to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever' over the District of Columbia."

Pence courageously and wisely voted yes against White House wishes and, sadly, those of the GOP leadership.

In 1984, Justice Antonin Scalia observed that the Seat of Government Clause of the Constitution gives Congress "extraordinary and plenary" power over our nation's capital. Scalia added that this provision of the Constitution "enables Congress to do many things in the District of Columbia which it has no authority to do in the 50 states ... There has never been any rule of law that Congress must treat people in the District of Columbia exactly the same as people are treated in various states." United States v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 128, 140 (D.C. Cir. 1984).

Chief Justice John Marshall acknowledged in the early 19th century that "It is extraordinary that the courts of the United States, which are open to aliens, and to the citizens of every state in the union, should be closed upon (district citizens)." But, he explained, "This is a subject for legislative, not for judicial consideration."

Marshall thereby laid out the blueprint by which Congress, rather than the courts, could treat the district as a state under the Constitution for the purposes of enfranchisement.

Neither I, nor Tom Davis nor Mike Pence, is arguing for the District of Columbia to become a state. Indeed, from the inception of our nation the founders believed the House of Representatives was the House of the people. I believe passionately that the architects of the American Constitution left us the tools to ensure that all American people should have a voice and vote in the "people's house."

I'm troubled by people in the White House who show compassion for the people of Baghdad and Kabul, as they should, but can't find it in their hearts to show anything but indifference to the cries for justice in the nation's capital.

What these presidential advisers are doing is rigidly interpreting the Constitution in such a way as to make the Party of Lincoln into a party that condemns the people of our nation's capital, including four of my 17 grandchildren, from ever participating in the great issues of the day as debated and decided in the House of Representatives.

Indeed, this is taxation without representation.

Republicans have historically supported civil, human and voting rights, including the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. We have a great history of bipartisan support for civil rights, but it was our presidential candidate in 1964 who refused to take a stand for civil and social justice for African-Americans.

My question is, does this president want to continue the legacy of Lincoln, Grant and Eisenhower, or that of Barry Goldwater in 1964?

Jack Kemp is Founder and Chairman of Kemp Partners and a contributing columnist to

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

going green

VO2 max

i mentioned earlier that i hired a coach, but then got super sick. so not much has happened with that. but this weekend i had my VO2 test. ("Fitness can be measured by the volume of oxygen you can consume while exercising at your maximum capacity. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen in milliliters, one can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. Those who are fit have higher VO2 max values and can exercise more intensely than those who are not as well conditioned.") it was intense, but super cool.

they hook my bike up to a trainer so i can spin and i warmed up for about 15 minutes. then i put on a mask. the mask has a tube that goes into some reader device thing that reads how much oxygen i am taking in and home much CO2 i am exhaling. but it also measure how much fat (v. carb) i burn per minute how much fat per calorie etc. it is cool because you can see how it changes as the amount of effort you give changes. you ride for about 15 minutes and they get you to your aerobic/lactic threshold, so they can test your VO2 max. so i was producing more lactic acid than i could clean out. and then they made me stay that hard for about 2 more minutes. i seriously thought i was going to die. it was so crazy. one of my coaches was there and she just kept telling me to go faster and not stop and all that stuff. and then for the last 30 seconds she wanted me to just really push it: give it all that was left. when i could was finally allowed to stop, i was totally dizzy.

now they are going to create a training program having me work out in these heart rate zones so that i can get better and faster. but the truth is, its just going to get me to exercise. so i am excited. i got all out of shape and blah, so i am hopeful that i will feel energetic and fast.

i should get my first workout plan tomorrow. i am super excited.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

easter garden improvements

my dad came to visit for easter. mostly he came to fix stuff. we really didn't do any tourist stuff. he missed the cherry blossoms by a couple of days, but thankfully our cherry tree in the back hadn't really peaked so he got to see that. we went to sushi and got thai take out and ate at eastern market once. but pretty much, it was one of those visits where you mostly just chill out and do chores.

no more interrogations in my bedroom

we had easter with tomicah and sarah; kimber and dave; and libby and gabriel.
the food was amazing: lamb (i had a bite); roasted potatoes, carrot ginger soup, hummus, candied turnips, yummy salad, and fresh baked cookies.
though, eli was the star of the show

this means more
we don't call him buddha for nothing.

my dad had this toy that he wanted to take pictures of in front of all sorts of dc sites.

this is a tribute to my grandfather who was a gunner
in the coast guard during WWII

this is the WWII monument. also a tribute to my grandfather.

here is a hawk.

this is in front of my office.
sadly, i was unable to see all this stuff with my dad
he actually walked by himself completely across town
from my house to
george washington university

this is the cherry tree in the back yard.

my dad and i decided to fix the boxes in my garden and get a drip hydration system installed
we only got the boxed fixed and the stand built for the water container. hopefully next weekend i will get the hydration system installed.
it was twilight when we went to take these photos. i was really really surprised that this actually worked. but if you look really close you can see the beginnings of our lettuce box growing...
this is a blurry version of our garden.
i am so excited!

Friday, April 6, 2007

happy easter

Jesus Shaves,
by David Sedaris

"And what does one do on the fourteenth of July? Does one celebrate Bastille Day?"

It was my second month of French class, and the teacher was leading us in an exercise designed to promote the use of one, out latest personal pronoun.

"Might one sing on Bastille Day?" she asked. "Might one dance in the streets? Somebody give me an answer."

Printed in our textbooks was a list of major holidays accompanied by a scattered arrangement of photographs depicting French people in the act of celebration. The object of the lesson was to match the holiday with the corresponding picture. It was simple enough but seemed an exercise better suited to the use of the pronoun they. I didn't know about the rest of the class but when Bastille Day eventually rolled around, I planned to stay home and clean my oven.

Normally, when working from the book, it was my habit to tune out my fellow students and scout ahead, concentrating on the question I'd calculated might fall to me, but this afternoon we were veering from the usual format. Questions were answered on a volunteer basis, and I was able to sit back and relax, confident that the same few students would do most of the talking. Today's discussion was dominated by an Italian nanny, two chatty Poles, and a pouty, plump Moroccan woman who had grown up speaking French and had enrolled in the class hoping to improve her spelling. She'd covered these lessons back in the third grade and took every opportunity to demonstrate her superiority. A question would be asked, and she'd race to give the answer, behaving as though this were a game show and, if quick enough, she might go home with a tropical vacation or a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. A transfer student, by the end of the first day she'd raised her hand so many times that her shoulder had given out. Now she just leaned back and shouted out the answers, her bronzed arms folded across her chest like some great grammar genie.

We'd finished discussing Bastille Day, and the teacher had moved on to Easter, which was represented in our textbooks by a black-and-white photograph of a chocolate bell lying upon a bed of palm fronds.

"And what does one do on Easter? Would anyone like to tell us?"

It was, for me, another of those holidays I'd just as soon avoid. As a rule, my family had always ignored the Easter celebration by our non-Orthodox friends and neighbors. While the others feasted on their cholocate figurines, my brother, sisters, and I had endured epic fasts, folding our bony fingers in prayer and begging for an end to the monotony that was the Holy Trinity Church. As Greeks, we had our own Easter, which was usually observed anywhere from two to four weeks after what was known in our circle as "the American version." The reason has to do with the moon or the Orthodox calendar -- something mysterious like that -- though our mother always suspected it was scheduled at a later date so that the Greeks could buy their marshmellow chicks and plastic grass at drastically reduced sale prices. "The cheap sons of bitches," she'd say. "If they had their way, we'd be celebrating Christmas in the middle of goddamn February."

Because our mother was raised a Protestant, our Easters were a hybrid of the Greek and the American traditions. We recieved baskets of candy until we grew older and the Easter Bunny branched out. Those who smoked would awaken to find a carton of cigarettes and an assortment of disposable lighters, while the others would receive an equivalent, each according to his or her vice. In the evening we had the traditional Greek meal followed by a game in which we would toast one another with blood-colored eggs. The symbolism escapes me, but the holder of the table's one uncracked egg was supposedly rewarded with a year of good luck. I won only once. It was the year my mother died, my apartment got broken into, and I was taken to th emergency room suffering from what the attending physician diagnosed as "house-wife's knee."

The Italian nanny was attempting to answer the teacher's latest question when the Moroccan student interrupted, shouting, "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?"

It would seem that despite having grown up in a Muslim country, she would have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. "I mean it," she said. "I have no idea what you people are talking about."

The teacher called on the rest of us to explain.

The Poles led the charge to the best of their ability. "It is," said one, "a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus...oh shit." She faltered and her fellow country-man came to her aid.

"He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two...morsels of...lumber."

The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.

"He die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father."

"He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."

"He nice, the Jesus."

"He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."

Part of the problem had to do with vocabulary. Simple nouns such as cross and resurrection were beyond our grasp, let alone such a complicated refexive phrases as "to give of yourself your only begotten son." Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self-respecting group of people might do. We talked about food instead.

"Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb," the Italian nanny explained. "One too may eat of the chocolate."

"And who brings the chocolate?" the teacher asked.

I knew the word, so I raised my hand, saying, "The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate."

"A rabbit?" The teacher, assuming I'd used the wrong word, positioned her index fingers on top of her head, wriggling them as though they were ears. "You mean one of these? A rabbit rabbit?"

"Well, sure," I said. "He come in the night when one sleep on bed. Which a hand he have a basket and foods."

The teacher sighed and shook her head. As far as she was concerned, I had just explained everything wrong with my country. "No, no," she said. "Here in France the chocolate is brought by a a big bell that flies in from Rome."

I called for a time-out. "But how do the bell know where you live?"

"Well," she said, "how does a rabbit?"

It was a decent point, but at least a rabbit has eyes. That's a start. Rabbits move from place to place, while most bells can only go back and forth -- and they can't even do that on their own power. On top of that, the Easter Bunny has character. He's someone you'd like to meet and shake hands with. A bell has all the personality of a cast-iron skillet. It's like saying that come Christmas, a magic dustpan flies in from the North Pole, led by eight flying cinder blocks. Who wants to stay up all night so they can see a bell? And why fly one in from Rome when they've got more bells than they know what do to with here in Paris? That's the most implausible aspect of the whole story, as there's no way the bells of France would allow a foreign worker to fly in and take their jobs. That Roman bell would be lucky to get work cleaning up after a French bell's dog -- and even then he'd need papers. It just didn't add up.

Nothing we said was of any help to the Moroccan student. A dead man with long hair supposedly living with her father, a leg of lamb served with palm fronds and chocolate; equally confused and disgusted, she shrugged her massive shoulders and turned her attention to the comic book she kept hidden beneath her binder.

I wondered then if, without the language barrier, my classmates and I could have done a better job making sense of Christianity, an idea that sounds pretty far-fetched to begin with.

In communicating any religious belief, the operative word is faith, a concept illustrated by our very presence in that classroom. Why bother struggling with the grammar lessons of a six-year-old if each of us didn't believe that, against all reason, we might eventually improve? If I could hope to one day carry on a fluent conversation, it was a relatively short leap to believing that a rabbit might visit my home in the middle of the night, leaving behind a handful of chocolate kisses and a carton of menthol cigarettes. So why stop there? If I could believe in myself, why not give other improbabilties the benefit of the doubt? I told myself that despite her past behavior, my teacher was a kind and loving person who had only my best interests at heart. I accepted the idea that an omniscient God had cast me in his own image and that he watched over me and guided me from one place to the next. The Virgin Birth, the Ressurrection, and countless miracles -- my heart expanded to encompass all the wonders and possibilities of the universe.

A bell, though -- that's messed up.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

cherry blossoms!

over the weekend DIANNA and i were both sick. eli also feel at the park and chipped his front teeth. we were all really pathetic, but it was nice to be able to be pathetic together.

disheartened eli
i feel you little buddy

the only healthy one of the bunch became crafty

by monday i thought the flu was over or at least winding down so we decided to
meet lindsay at the tidal basin to see the cherry blossoms

why are those stupid stickers still on?
my favorite fish market in dc

looking like pros
(please note DIANNA's helmetless head. any time this happens
you can rest assured a lecture will occur about TBIs, responsibility
and the requisite recount of my own disastrous crash sans helmet
wherein bones were broken, skin was scarred, and retrograde amnesia was experienced)

ant's view

i looked out the window and what did i see?

but tuesday i was still not well, so i stayed home again
but after sleeping all day
and having a coach tell me i needed about 60 to 90 minutes on my saddle
we decided to go for a real easy ride around haines point
this is what it looked like
fair and balanced?

but wednesday morning i woke up with the worst headache of my life
i stayed in bed all day, laying on my back because any other position hurt
DIANNA came over at 10:pm and we called her mom who gave the diagnosis of a sinus infection

so at 12:25 am thursday morning dianna and i went to arlington urgent care. they gave me amoxicillin. we then went to 3 different 24 hour CVS pharmacies. the first pharmacist literally yelled at me and then DIANNA when we asked to get our prescription filled. (his system was updating and he was really mad) then we went to the CVS in dupont. same thing. she didn't yell per se but she was VERY snarky. finally the M street CVS and sweet Gideon saved the day. so now i have sudafed and amoxicillin, no sense of smell, and a cycling coach that i am not really impressing with my speed and discipline.