My office mate Victoria today stormed into our office and said, "I keep gaining this damn weight. I just looked at my butt in them mirror and I thought I was J-Lo. And I don't even LIKE her ass."

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El Bano Confessions

It seems like a major theme of my relationship with Steph centers around the bathroom, WC, washroom, restroom, whatever you want to call it. One of our first memories as friends involved bathroom discussion.
It was December '04 and I had flown up from Georgia to look at apartments which Stephanie graciously agreed to show me. One of the first ammenities I look for in a home is a bathroom fan. I HATE, HATE, HATE if a device, I don't care what it is, is not present in the bathroom to mask the sound of... tinkling, for lack of a better word. I told Stephanie the place would simply not do because the bathroom lacked a fan. "I"ll get stage fright," I simply explained.
Where do you think the name of our blog came from? A conversation we had in the bathroom of a convenient store located across from the western entrance of Glacier National Park. Whenever I am traveling by car I need two things. Lots to drink and frequent pit stops. Stephanie, on the other hand, can go for hours. Thus, the name Iron Bladder. The genesis of Bond Girl is another story which I will share later.
The only hesitation I had about my internship at the Woodrow Wilson House were the bathrooms. Until yesterday I thought the home only had two public bathrooms. These are the ones I used. Both do not have fans and the acoustics are incredible. I wouldn't be surprised if people could hear me taking a leak at the Textile Museum next door, or Bill Clinton's house around the corner.
The bathroom on the top floor, where I work, is especially undesirable because its located directly across from a coworker's office. In addition, the toliet rests on this concrete "stage" making it more throne-like than anything I've ever sat. When I confided in Meg, the Curator, that I would be more comfortable using the WC downstairs, she laughed and said she understood. Brenden, however, loves the "throne." "I have a really great view when I'm standing," he confessed. And so he does. Facing the toliet, there is an excellent view from the window, which is located directly above the claw foot bathtub and to the right of the commode.
Yesterday as I was going downstairs to use the potty, I was disappointed to find a tour group watching the introductory film. The first floor restroom connects to, "the Dugout," the room where the house tour begins. I absolutely refuse to potty while, who knows how many people, are watching a film about our 28th president.
Dick seeing my frustration led me down the hallway to another bathroom, a bathroom I had no idea existed. This bathroom, installed for people with disabilities, had a fan. Ahhhhh! I couldn't believe it. After Dick excused himself, I stepped inside to do my business in peace.
Oh, no. Not so. I was in there maybe two seconds when someone begins pulling on the door. Although the door had a deadbolt, this person was yanking so hard I had to balance holding the door closed and peeing. I hate that!!! You always hope the person will get a clue before you have to say anything, and sometimes that mercifully happens, but not yesterday. No. I finally had to shout, above the fan, "there's somebody in here." By this time I was ready to wrap it up and left the restroom feeling a little cheated.
I can't understand why, but this has been occuring a lot lately. Laurie, my former coworker, used to yell at me while I was in the ladies room when someone needed to see me. What made matters worse is this person would be standing outside the door when I exited. She would also, knock on the bathroom door, after I had entered, only to run away. I used to ask myself, "why?" "Why can't I just get some peace while I'm on the toliet?" Not too much to ask, right? And then I remembered...
As kids, my brother and I lived to annoy my mom. We loved embarrassing her in public, while she was driving, in front of her friends, while she was on the phone, etc. But looking back, I think one of the worst things we did was barge in on her while she was using the bathroom. I swear the woman never had peace while on the pot. Nor while she was in the bath or shower.
In our home, the bathroom was a public environment. Until my brother hit puberty, it was not unusual for us to walk in while the other was bathing or using the toliet. Needless to say, things have changed for my brother but remain the same between my mom and I.
Is it any wonder the woman is crazy? No doubt some of her mental instability stems from a lack of potty privacy.
They say what goes around come around. Since I don't have children to torment me perhaps fate is using other people. Mercifully I live alone because who knows what would happen if I didn't have an outlet. Yet, is this what I have to look forward to? Kids constantly barging in, a husband who leaves the door open while doing his business. Who knows? And perhaps it won't be sooo bad. After all, some of my fondest memories center around el bano.

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Only my coworkers and a few close friends know about the man in black (and khaki) named Edward. Edward is a thirty something Ukranian who alway orders from Office Max. Shy and oh so strong, Edward "always enjoys seeing me." Although his confession seems sincere he has never asked me if I am seeing anyone or if I would like to go out. This wouldn't be so frustrating if I wasn't getting the signals that he's interested. For instance, he blushes everytime we talk. He also lingers for 5-10 mins after I sign for the delivery.
I have been vacilating for almost a year about whether I should address the situation and have only concluded that no matter what Edward needs to kiss me. He must do it before another year transpires and he must do it in the office or on campus. Otherwise all this sexual tension will continue to increase and we all know what happens when sexual tension is ignored. It transforms into this dibilatating frustration that eats away at your soul. Edward, a recent immigrant... well sort of recent, does not need this added misery. He has enough to worry about, i.e. learning english, realizing the American dream.
So ladies, and gents before the year is out Edward will kiss me. That is my prediction for 2006. What is it like to kiss a Ukranian? I'll keep you posted.

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Regarding Falafel

Rae: "I don't know how you can eat something that looks like a big ball of....well, poo!"

Gwen: "Darling, you must be getting WAY more than your five-a-day."

--Twenty minuets later--

Gwen: "That was an awfully expensive ball of fiber."

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Sibling Rivalry

Although my younger brother and only sibling, Joshua, sent me an invitation to join MySpace almost a year ago, it was only through my coworkers' cajoling I joined. Occasionally I visit my brother's profile to see if he's posted anything new. He rarely calls me, leaving the responsibility of communication to me. Finding time to call Joshie is something I need to work on but reading his blogs and other information on MySpace helps me feel a little better about the distance between us.
In his self-description (which I read today for the first time) my brother mentioned he had a wonderful girlfriend, great friends, and awesome parents but there was no mention of me, his sister. This is not the first time its happened and perhaps I'm taking it too personally but it stings a little.
The first time this happened, I was attending BYU. My father moved to Atlanta my sophmore year of college taking my brother with him. Coming home the summer before my junior year, Josh and I went to church at my family's new ward. I'll never forget how hurt I felt when Josh introduced me to all his friends and each one said with obvious surprise, "Josh, I didn't know you had a sister."
I mentioned this to my dad tonight on the phone. Josh, takes after my mom in many ways. My mother has never been close to her family and will allow years to pass before making an attempt to call her siblings. My father and I have never understood this about her. Family is something you don't take for granted, ever. You don't hold grudges and you don't ignore calls. 'Nough said. Josh, my father feels, is jealous because I have done a lot of things he would like to do also, i.e. traveling, living out west, etc. I have never understood this about my brother. Josh is so talented. In addition to being a natural leader and super intelligent, he's a person who excells in areas he chooses to excel in. I am just the opposite. I have always had to struggle and work extra hard just to get by. I have always been average; average height, average weight, average student, average missionary, average looks, etc. Not horrible but not stellar.
Josh had opportunities to do everything I have done. My dad offered to send him abroad, Josh decided to invest in amps and keyboards. Josh had the opportunity to go to BYU but decided to remain in GA and take advantage of the Hope Scholarship (which pays tuition at state schools).
Now Josh is applying to law schools. Since taking the LSAT and submitting his applications, he's been inundated with offers from all over the US. Did this happen to whalaa? Heck no!
I'm still trying to determine how I got into George Washington and consider every semester I endure a miracle. Never short on helpings of humble pie, I am reminded every time I attend class that I am the average student.
So, what is there for Josh to be jealous of? Or maybe its not jealousy that drives the exclusion. Perhaps he's ashamed of me? If so, why?
Growing up my parents would always argue that Josh was more like them. No one ever proudly said, "No, I think Amber is more like me." Josh was always the more attractive, athletic, popular kid who consistently had a love interest. He's never had a sucky V-Day and he's never had to endure the pity looks extended family members give you when you respond, "No, I'm almost 28 and still not dating anyone," to their queries.
Again, just the opposite. Although I was popular throughout grade school, middle school and high school, I was never known for my looks or athletic abilities. I was always Ms. Congeniality or Ms. Popularity. I have never had a lengthy romantic relationship with anyone and although I enjoy sports, I have never been good at them.
My intention is not to point fingers or wallow in my average status. I guess this is just a release mechanism, a balm for the heart and mind. I don't know if Josh's feelings will ever change but I will remain the proud, elder sister who is, at least to Joshua's friends, anonymous.

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One of my greatest passions is history. This love is common among all my immediate family members. My brother's interests are WWII and Russian history. For Christmas a few years ago he actually asked for the History Channels series of WWII videos, which my proud parents happily bought him. I don't know how many times he watched the series before he tired of them but I know it was more than I would have.
I am more like my parents, flitting from one subject or person to another. However, I have always loved architecture, particularly that of historic homes. Lacking the artistic abilities to realize my dream of becoming an architect I decided to pursue a career doing the next best thing, if I can call it such; historic preservation.
I recently began my internship at the Woodrow Wilson House located at 2340 S Street, NW in DC. This home was acquired by President Wilson while serving his second term in office. His second wife, Edith Bolling Gault Wilson discovered the home while looking at another property on the same street. The first owner of 2340 invited Mrs. Wilson in and offered to sale immediately.
The home was known then as the perfect "gentlemen's house," because entertaining was not done on the ground floor. Although Edith loved the home she also realized it was too expensive for her husband to afford. Many people are unaware, as was I, that President Wilson was not a wealthy man. Edith, whose first husband was a successful businessman left her a generous inheritance but WW, and other gentlemen of his day, would not spend their wife's money. Instead, friends of WW each put up at least $10,000 of their own money and purchased the home for the President. A few weeks before the Wilsons left the White House, WW surprised Edith with the deed to the home.
This is only one of many stories I read about today. It is remarkable how intricate WW's life was. He was a man of contradiction to put it lightly. Known as a religious, educated man, the only President to have earned a PhD, his actions could be entirely opposite. But can't that be said for us all? Its amazing how nothing is private after death. No matter how recluse one may be in life, thousands may know them through history. Look at Emily Dickinson.
In addition to the stories, I love the physical objects that prove their reality. The Wilson Home has 28 rooms, most of which I have explored. I think its safe to assume I will never live in anything so grand but I can pretend I do. Presently I work on the top floor in the old servants quarters. The Wilson's only had two house servants, an African American couple, so the quarters are quite small but every Friday afternoon, when all the patrons have come and gone, I quitely walk down the long spiral staircase, pretending to be the lady of the house, looking in the twelve foot mirror, as I do. Standing in front of this huge mirror I perform a full turn, carefully examining my reflection at each angle. Dissatisfied I usually sigh in despair, shrug my shoulders and continue to the ground floor entrance, realizing I will never be an Edith Wilson or a Jacqueline Kennedy. Yet, because of history, I can pretend. I can know what their lives were like, the heartaches they edured, the anxiety or social embarrassment they must have felt at certain moments. Through history an already existing connection is manifest and strengthened.
Another interesting fact I learned today was WW's first wife was born and is buried in Rome, GA. I was also born in Rome, GA thus feeling a sympathy and deeper kinship with her than Edith. Knowing a gal from Rome became first lady also gives me hope. It allows me to wonder, "what if" and believe its possible because another with the same nativity made it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not aspiring for 2000 Pennsylvania Ave address, but history, if we allow it, can endow us with courage to try and the knowledge to succeed. Long live history and the preservation of it!!

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One of my favorite characters is George Emerson from the story A Room With a View. Although I realize it is impossible for any man to be as engaging, decisive and bold as George I continue to hope one day he will come at me in a field dressed in red poppies, sweep me into his manly embrace and kiss me to the point I am breathless.
One of the most intriguing aspects of George is that he is constantly questioning everything. His father refers to this behavior as the search for an answer to the "eternal why." For George, the answer lies in true love. This love he finds with Lucy Honeychurch while traveling through Italy.
When George declares his love for Lucy, her initial response is insensitive and dishonest. After insisting she does not return his feelings she orders him from her family's home, asking him never to "step foot inside the house as long as she lives there."
Why do people do this? Over the past year I have become close friends with one of my coworkers. During this time I have watched her react to the dissolution of a three year relationship. Deciding to move on she has turned to exercise and friends for solace. Although she still cares for her ex-boyfriend, each time he tells her he wants to resurrect their relationship and start anew, she tries to talk him out of loving her. Why? Why do people do that when they love the person who is trying to love them in return? Why do people hold back when it comes to love?
My own situation is not entirely different. I recently stopped dating a guy who I really cared for. One night I even confided that I loved him. I believe that he cares for me as well and yet he tries to talk himself out of it. "We come from different cultures," he says or, "I need to marry someone who is compatible with my mother." The first I can understand. The latter excuse I have serious issues with. However, these are a few arguements he uses to convince himself our love/feelings are terciary. Because I am not Indian or cannot speak Hindi, our love cannot thrive. Although we are still friends, I know that he wishes things could be more intimate. Its evident everytime I see him. He looks frustrated, miserable and confused. Why? Why does he push love away when its the miracle everyone, despite culture or religion, prays to receive?
As mentioned in my last blog, Steph and I watched "Something New" for V-Day. Kenya, a successful, beautiful black woman, is looking for the IBM (ideal black man). Instead, what she finds when she "lets go and lets flow," is the IWM (ideal white man). Deciding her happiness with Brian could never last because he doesn't understand her (meaning her culture) she decides to end it by telling Brian she has met someone new. The new someone is exactly what Kenya was searching for (the IBM) and yet, for her, love is not embodied in race or skin color. Once she realizes this, Kenya mitigates the hurt she caused Brian and is restored to happiness which culminates in wedded bliss. Yet why was Kenya so quick to dimiss her feelings? Why are people so careless with love? Especially when we search so hard to find it?
Despite my questions and my late experience, I have behaved like Kenya, only to find I was too late. Often the damage done was irrepairable or the person had moved on. Each time this happens I am filled with not only a terrible sense of guilt but nagging feelings of regret I can only combat with lame justifications. "It just wasn't meant to be," I say or, "I would have never been happy with him, anway." But is that really true? I will never know. Yet the question remains, why did I turn away love in the first place?
That is my eternal why. Where and with whom the answer lies, I have yet to find but one thing is for certain I never want to take love for granted again.

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Something New

As Steph has already mentioned, we rang in V-Day '06 with "Something New." This was even more applicable because last night I closed a deal on a condo. I didn't purchase but will be renting for the next year or so. Although I love the space and my new landlord, it will require me to make some changes. Right now I live just off Dupont Circle and enjoy the historic homes that line the street. Its so amazing how close everything is in DC. I walk to work daily and every type of necessary service is within a 5 min walk. In addition, I live on the 10th floor of my building (which is also the top floor) and have an amazing view of the Washington Monument. It is literally dead center of my picture window.
Needless to say, living across from the Dunn Loring metro station will not provide me breathtaking views of DC but I will be 5 mins from Stephanie's and instead of existing in a studio I will be living in a one bedroom condo with a washer and dryer.
The property is located in a new development meaning all the ammenities, i.e., pool, exercise room, basketball court, media and business centers are new. Without a tv for over a year, it will be so nice to have an area with six flat screen tv's where I can watch CNN, 48 hours, or whatever, whenever I choose.
Now all I have to do is find the appropriate furnishings, which should be enjoyable. I am so lucky to have a friend like Steph, to help out with that. She was with me when I signed my first DC lease and was by my side last night when I closed. I don't think I could find a better friend anywhere.
Plans are already on the table for a house warming party so stay tuned.

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Damn Day.

So. V-day. I must admit that the first forty mins of the day were exceptional. Boo and I had great conversation. Imagine, if you will, us sitting with a dear friend who actually said to us, "Well, I am kind of dating him. In my mind." We pause and look at each other, then back at her as she continues, "You know, we've kissed. In my mind. It was ok."

Yeah. Singles have resorted to virtual dating via their MIND in order to have rewarding relationships. :)

So, then we went to see Something New which is a fantastic movie. After I dropped Boo off DC101 proved their love to me by playing Metallica. I was able to roll down the windows, turn up the heater and prepare myself for the hellish day awaiting.

As I said to Boo this morning, "If my brother is actually engaged we're going on a cross country spree filled with sex, drugs and Rock followed by the Grand Canyon."

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Feline Free

This weekend has been a bitter-sweet one for me. On Friday evening I said goodbye to my two babies and put them on a direct flight to Lexington, Kentucky. Mary and ZuZu are litter mates or, as we say, sisters. Their mother, Chef, was rescued by my brother outside a Wal-Mart in Georgia about eight years ago. Although everyone wonders what Josh's attraction is to Chef, no one can resist loving Mary and ZuZu.
ZuZu or Boo, has always been the alpha female. Weighing in at 14.5 pounds, she was not always so big, but has become my amazon princess. Stubborn and vain she loves to butt heads with me until she gets her way. My alarm clock for the past four months, I will miss her a.m. rituals.
Mary, or Bear, is my model cat. Small and lithe she has the most unusal markings of any cat I have ever seen. When Mary was a kitten, my dad predicted no one would take Mary because she wasn't cute. No one said my Dad was a prophet. Despite her sweetness, Mary loves to hunt and is very good at capturing squirrels, frogs, rabbits and snakes. Zu will often try to take credit for Mary's dirty deeds by dragging the kill closer to the house and standing patiently over it until someone either praises or reprimands her.
This may sound silly, but I have learned a lot about myself because of my cats. I have learned that I have developed an allergy to felines. The entire time Mary and Zu stayed with me I was constantly sneezing and taking sinus medicine. Yuck! I also learned what its like to be solely responsible for other living creatures without your family's help. At home my father always bought the cat food, while my mom paid for vet bills. Having total responsibility for two cats was a learning experience.
Mary and Zu reminded how important it is to remain "in touch" with my maternal instincts. As a graduate student I often feel selfish. Not having a church calling or a consistent, structured service mechanism exacerbates this feeling. With Mary and Zu I often had to balance my needs with theirs.
One of the most important things I have gained out of Mary and Zu's stay is a deeper appreciation for my dad. My dad who always griped and complained about the cats in Georgia, only because he has asthma and is allergic to cats, agreed to keep Mary and Zu so I could allow Tony, my landlord, to show my apartment. Yes, after only one year at the Corcoran House, I have to move but that's a subject that deserves its own blog. :)
When thanking my dad the other night for helping me out, he said in reply, "Anything for my little girl." This may sound sappy and a little cliche but it really meant a lot to me. My dad wasn't around a lot during my childhood but he's honestly tried to make up for it in our adult years. My Mom used to be my bestfriend but there are some things I can tell my Dad that I can't discuss with my Mom. It doesn't mean I love her less but I treasure this element of my relationship with my Dad and have enjoyed watching its evolution. I appreciate his love for me and only hope one day he will realize how much he means to me.
A little apprehensive initially, about Mary and Zu's new living arrangements, I am now confident they are in good hands and will be well cared for making me footloose and feline free. :)

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Duck Beach, here we come!!

Ok, so "we" may be taking liberties but I'm going!! And I'm going to drag Amber along!! (and Rae and Gwen, I think).

So, I just had the best email chain every w/ my boss. I said, "Hey, I want to take the May 26 through June 2 off and go to the beach." Her response, "Sure!"

Please. Stop crying. I know. It's beautiful. I just can't stand to see you weeping like that.

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Ode To Beyonce

All my girls know I love Beyonce. Although I have never purchased her work I have been an avid proponent of Beyonce and DC airtime at every party I've attended. Steph and Rina understand this perhaps better than anyone and always gratify my juvenile demands to hear Check Up On It or Survivor.
Well, Friday morning I walk into my office and wonder of wonders there is a burned copy of Dangerously in Love waiting for me on my desk. Jess, a coworker, overheard me talking about Ms. Beyonce and decided to surprise me. As I sit and listen to the sweet melodies playing on my laptop all I can think is, "Beyonce is the Phenomenal Woman Maya Angelou describes in her poem titled such." This is my favorite Angelou poem. The first time I heard it was at a Gwinnett History Museum (Lawrenceville, GA) Coffee House night. As I listened to Maya's words I couldn't help but think, "that's the kind of woman I want to be....phenonmenal woman, that's me." So, in my feable attempt to praise Ms. Knowles for her amazing contribution to the world, I am sheepishly dedicating this poem because no words, I know, can better express my gratitude to her for being phenomenally... her.
by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me A hive of honey bees.
I say It's the fire in my eyes And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman Phenomenally Phenomenal woman That's me.
Men themselves have wondered What they see in me
They try so much But they can't touch My inner mystery. When I try to show them They say they still can't see. I say It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style. I'm a woman Phenomenally Phenomenal woman That's me.
Now you understand Just why my head's not bowed I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud. I say It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair The palm of my hand The need for my care. 'Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally Phenomenal woman That's me.

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