Monday, September 21, 2009


One of my goals for the fall is to follow the Redskins and pay attention, as a true son of Northern Virginia should. Football is a sport I actually don't suck too badly at, but I usually don't follow the sport very closely because (a) I don't spend a lot of time watching sports on TV and (b) I'm not entirely sure that I totally understand the rules 100%. Sometimes I ask L stupid questions like, "what exactly is an offensive line?" or "remind me again how downs work," and she starts to explain it, and then I get mad because I knew it all along and then I look like an idiot.

The big difference this year, though, is that some of my colleagues at work are actually somewhat aggressive in their sports talk, and they expect me to represent for the Skins. Every Monday one of them will come lumbering into my office, where I'm very intently trying to do some work or read the internet, and launch some open-ended ambiguous question like: "So, how about your boys?" or "So what do you have to say for your Skins after yesterday?" and wait for me to respond. And I can't just flee the scene, because it's my office. There's not a lot of wiggle room there.

After two weeks of trying to follow along, I've been pleased with my progress. I like the Washington Post's sports coverage way more than the New York Times' (in large part because NY teams are almost uniformly vile) and so I usually read their sports columnists, which gives me most everything I need to know. And football gives you some great narratives, spread over a reasonable period of time, with only a small number of games to dissect and analyze. Right now I know enough to worry about said offensive line, to wonder if Jason Campbell will ever throw a touchdown pass, to grow impatient waiting for Zorn's west coast offense to pan out, to hate and scorn Danny Snyder for suing little-old-lady season ticket holders, and to be relieved and anguished by last Sunday's pathetic dribbling victory over the Rams.

I have an autumn fantasy where L and I spend some chilly Sunday afternoon ensconced in some bar, getting pleasantly drunk and watching the game and clinking glasses with garrulous Washingtonians and singing "Hail to the Redskins," verse and all, after a victory. The Redskins are a really big deal back home and it makes me feel good to root for them. The brash colors, the racist name, the legacy of greatness tarnished by a decade or so of mediocrity - it's all a part of it, of us. Fight on, sons of Washington.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Hello, my dusty old blog. I am trying to remember how to write again. Bear with me.

The weather has been changing, a shift is taking place. The night air comes in and we sleep cool under all the blankets. Saturday morning was a grubby, gray day, gusty winds and half-hearted rain. It was the first day in a while that I've worn my jeans and sneaks for the day. We went to the farmers market, loading up on the last of summer vegetables and welcoming a new array of pumpkins and squashes. We read for a while at home (I'm plowing through Richard Bausch's stories - what a master he is) and then ventured out for a movie. We saw "Julie and Julia," which, honestly, was not that good. I had a weird altercation with the man sitting in our aisle, which was actually the fault of a miscommunication between L and me, which left me feeling like a jerk.

After the movie we wandered over to The New French on Hudson Street for a late dinner. There is really nothing I like more than sitting across a table from L, seeing her in night-time sepia: a little candle light, the street lights shining through the dark slatted blinds. We talked about everything, ate some white pizza and home-made sausage. I felt so lucky. I had three glasses of wine and a bowl of mussels. Our hipster waiter was friendly. We ate dessert. It was wonderful. We came home around midnight and I had dance hour for a little bit, singing low songs like "Can't Help But Wait" and "Officially Missing You" and "Do You Remember When" - songs that really let me dig deep.

Then I got an email from work saying they needed my help on Sunday, and when could I come in. I deflated.

Today we had lunch with John and Anna and young Naomi. I left to head into the office to tackle my work. Radio City was decked out for the MTV Video Music Awards. The building was ensconced in rigging, lights and cranes and cameras. People were already gathering behind police barricades, armed with their cameras and craning their necks to see across the way. Throughout the afternoon and evening I could hear the roar of the crowd from my office. Sometimes their sound would become strange and urgent, rising to a new pitch, provoked by some unseen stimulus. For a while I could hear Taylor Swift singing "You Belong With Me," a great song with some really endearing lyrics. Her voice sounded warped and rounded by the time it reached me in my perch, like she was singing underwater. The crowd seemed broken by ecstasy.

One of my first years in New York, I remember watching the VMAs with friends in someone's apartment -- friends I have mostly lost track of, most of whose names are long gone -- and afterwards, around midnight, we all went to a secret Justin Timberlake concert at Roseland Ballroom. I don't know how we had tickets, and I didn't find out about the concert and I found out we were going. That afternoon I bought a cool new shirt at some vintage store near my apartment at the time, a shirt I wore exactly once, for the concert, and never wore again. After the VMAs ended on TV we left the apartment and headed down to the show. After waiting in line outside, we were packed in the room, and finally around one or two in the morning the concert began. I was stunned by the celebrities who were there, like Cameron Diaz and Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, who seemed important in some way, and John Mayer and Pharrell up on stage. It was a night that seemed to justify everything.

Before the concert we had to relinquish all of our cameras, so the disposable camera I had brought, which was full of pictures from a friend's recent wedding, disappeared with the security guards. After the show I was shocked to find out we couldn't recover our cameras, and soon I was poking through garbage bags in a useless effort to find it. It's funny to think about, and kind of embarrassing. How young and foolish you can be, stumbling into secret concerts and then pawing through the trash, trying to find pictures you could barely remember taking, pictures that are of course long gone now.

It's a happy memory, don't get me wrong. It's just funny to think about.