Don’t Pass the Salt!

Once again, salt is in the news.  The FDA held a public hearing yesterday during which advocates from the American Medical Association (AMA) joined consumer groups (e.g., Center for Science in the Public Interest) in calling for federal rules that limit the amount of salt in food and govern how sodium content is labeled on food packaging.  As an AMA representative stated, "Americans don't consume large amounts of salt because they request it, but often do so unknowingly because manufacturers and restaurants put it in."  Check out this ABC News article for a list of common food items that many of us don't associate with a lot of salt.

I've been a salt warrior for several years now (hence, saltwarfare), and I always try to limit my salt intake.  I know that Floyd used to comment that the food I liked was bland and needed salt, but I think his taste buds were just too accustomed to salty foods (as mine used to be).  Overtime, that can change.  There are just so many other amazing flavor enhancers out there that won't increase my cardiovascular health risks like salt.  So, pass the cayenne, paprika, cumin and basil, NOT the salt!


HIV/AIDS: Get Tested & Spread the Word!

I was going to wait until December 1 to talk about it, but given the troubling article I read yesterday in the Post, I guess I can go on my rant about HIV-AIDS now. D.C. has one of the highest rates of AIDS infections of any U.S. city. The incidence of infection is the greatest among African American women and among the heterosexual population, which is troubling for a straight black woman like me.

It's time for us all to wake up!

Saturday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a time to raise awareness about the estimated 38.6 million people worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS. It is a global health epidemic that has claimed over 25 million lives since 1981--when the first cases of a lung infection later associated with people who are HIV-positive was reported among the male homosexual population in Los Angles. The CDC provides a very nice, though abridged timeline of events: e.g., the 1988 national mailing of CDC/Surgeon General-created brochure, Understanding AIDS, was "the first time the federal government has attempted to contact virtually every resident, directly by mail, regarding a major public health problem."

Though significant strides have been made in the medical field to help prolong and improve the lives of those who are HIV-positive or have full-blown AIDS, the disease still claims too many of our mothers, fathers, best friends, siblings, lovers and children.

So please:

1) Know your status
More than one million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Of those, about one-quarter don't know that they're infected and are unknowingly spreading the disease to their partners. Take control and find out your status.

The Whitman-Walker Clinic offers anonymous, rapid response HIV tests. Planned Parenthood is another good option. For those not in the DC area, visit http://www.hivtest.org/ for a local listing of testing sites.

2) Protect Yourself
There are approximately 40,000 new HIV cases in the U.S. every year.

It's truly amazing that in an age of widespread knowledge about AIDS and all the other sexually-transmitted diseases, people don't or won't protect themselves. Believe me, I definitely haven't been a saint all my life. I totally understand what it's like to "be in the moment" or too naked & drunk to think, but your overall physical health must take precedence over your id at all times. It is lesson that is best learned when HIV-negative and not driven home by the reality of being diagnosed with HIV.

3) Spread the Word
It probably isn't the sexiest conversation to have with a lover, but talk about your status and ask your partner about his/her status. Whether or not the relationship is monogamous and long term, keep open the lines of communication about your sexual health status and risk of infection due to current risky behaviors. You never know…

Also, talk to your friends. You'd be amazed by how many of your buddies have never been tested. Or perhaps, all your pals have been tested. Either way, urge them to be aware of their status and take precautions to stay safe.

You can also put pressure on our political leaders to help hard-hit communities in the States and around the world. We need stronger programs and adequate funding, but to truly be effectively at combating this global epidemic, we must stress prevention, protection, and treatment not abstinence!

4) Take part in World AIDS Day events in Washington D.C.
This site provides great information about events in the D.C. area, including opportunities for free testing and a rally and vigil I'll be at this Friday.

I'm sure that this entry hasn't been as logical or informative as it should be, so if you have additional questions about AIDS prevention, transmission, or treatment, please visit:



Olazzo Alone

I treated myself to a pasta dinner last night at Olazzo. I was a bit skeptical about the potential for an enjoyable meal given the slow service when I first arrived.

“Aren’t you waiting for the rest of your party?” the waiter asked. Hmm…isn’t that why the hostess removed the napkin and silverware from the opposite end of the table? So that you’d know I was dinning alone?

“No, I’m just waiting to be served,” I replied, tightly crossing my arms across my chest.

I don’t know what is so odd about a single, 26-year-old female going out alone for dinner on a Saturday night. It was late, I didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to order the usual take-out. I’ve seen numerous other people (usually older men) eating alone. What’s wrong with me doing it? I used to get the same looks of pity mixed with wonder when I treated myself to celebratory solo dinners in Georgetown during freshman year.

The evening progressed nicely. At first, I was tempted to bring out my “eating-out-alone” armor, i.e., reading materials, my small writing notebook, etc. But once the bread arrived, I calmed down and began to enjoy the experience. Eating alone at a restaurant isn’t ideal—interesting conversation adds so much to a meal. But eating alone can be quite enjoyable.

I feasted on shrimp rose. The food was very satisfying on such a cold night, and I do believe that I’ll return to Olazzo with friends for half-priced martinis.

Before I headed home, I stopped at Starbucks for a devilishly sweet gingerbread latte. Mmm...



On my way into my apartment tonight, I encountered a woman I remember seeing in my upstairs neighbor’s apartment (when I was locked out). I thought I saw blood on her nose, but because I wasn’t able to read her eyes, I figured I’d imagined it or that it was just a nosebleed. But then, I saw two of my female neighbors leave their apartment, apparently to look for her. I guess I had just missed an argument upstairs.

I’ve heard my neighbors fight before—my neighbors to the right and my neighbors right above me. I always listen for wounded crying or an escalation to the fight—because then, I’d call the cops. For the couple living to the right of me, things rarely seemed to go that far (my walls are thin, so I can usually hear most arguments from my bedroom). For the apartment above me, I’ve only been awoken once by an argument. That argument was very intense. It started around 4:30 and didn't seem to end until make-up sex (I can always hear the bed squeak) around 6. I was repeatedly awoken by the noise that night, but I didn't call the cops. I just hopelessly listened and prayed for the argument to end without physical harm to either.

My heart breaks to think about the scores of women, children and men who face emotional and physical abuse everyday. I can’t imagine how much the abuse hurts their being and how hardened and numb they become as a result—and how that affects their future relationships and sense of self.

I understand that abuse begets abuse so that the abused become the abuser and the abused continue to seek abuse. I don’t know what to think or how to feel but I know that next time I see my neighbor pass by in the stairway with apparent blood on her nose, I will stop and offer help. I doubt that she’d take it but at least she’d know that she has one more female neighbor that wants to help.

Although I don't have any standing to seriously talk about this issue, I want to send a virtual hug and say:

  • To all those who are currently in an abusive relationship, please find the strength that’s always within yourself to leave. If not that, at least share your struggles with a trusted friend who will help you find a way out.
  • To all those who have been abused in the past, don’t let the experience limit your life. Stay strong and move forward through life not forgetting but forgiving and allowing the experience to inspire your cause and drive your passion.

Here's a short list of sites that provide more information:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

U.S. Dept. of H & HS Children's Bureau: Resource list

Kidshealth.org: Resource list


As a side note, I had a great, lazy Thanksgiving. I kicked ass at Cranium and my contributions—creamed corn and 7-up/Sprite cake were both hits. I was less satisfied with both items this year. I think I overdid it with the sugar, but as long as others enjoy it, my work was done.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Be safe & be strong!

Happy Thanksgiving 2007

Wow, another year is almost over. Time really flew, and I have so much for which to be thankful. Mainly, I'm thankful for my family and friends and all the new experiences I've had over the past year.

Friends & Family: I don't know how I would have gotten through the ups and downs of this year without my family and friends.

I have so many amazing memories with my buddies, particularly A-M, L-M, GFA, Organica, Chatty Chica, and Shimmy-Shimmy and the rest of GLOG, among others. I've danced, drunk, eaten, shopped and gabbed for hours and hours with them. A special thanks goes to those who lent an ear during my Floyd and Mr. Rebound drama; a special thanks to Floyd for being Floyd.

Of course, I've enjoyed having the unconditional support of my mom and the rest of my family. I know that despite all the crazy and not-so crazy things I did this year, I can always go home to Atlanta and be welcomed with open arms.

New Experiences: One of my mantras this year was to "say yes whenever possible." This enabled me to become more active in the community, meet new people, and have a blast exploring d.c. bars and restaurants. I remember being less inclined to do stuff when Floyd was around. But now, I'm in control of my own schedule and I don't have to consult with a significant other. Of course, I miss P&C time but I love, I relish, and I'm thankful for my freedom and my Me-Time.

This year, I truly sought to live by my favorite quote from Walden and "suck all the marrow out of life." And I think I experienced more this year than I've experienced during most of the years of my life--a major feat. I hope to continue this course of exploration and exposure in 2008.


Traveling Solo

One of my "bright ideas" for 2008, before I pack my stuff for the Peace Corps (I'll be working on the application this holiday weekend!), is to travel abroad. I'm thinking about visiting the rainforests of Costa Rica/Belize or the ancient ruins of Italy/Greece. Given that I'll be gone for over two years for the Peace Corps, I may just stay in the States and have a blowout I-Love-the-USA week in NYC, Miami, New Orleans or San Diego.

If I go abroad in 2008, I want to do it alone. I was too scared to go to Paris alone this summer. I was afraid of getting robbed, scammed, or lost. But I believe I can find the courage to travel solo by this summer. Traveling solo will be more of a challenge, and therefore, more exhilarating. It will also provide immense time for introspection. I definitely had time for reflection in Paris, but I think I could have had even more time and space for musing if solo. And that's exactly what someone suffering from a post-midlife crisis needs (I'm about to turn 27!). I probably will get lonely on the trip—at least until I find others to tag-along with—but it will surely prepare me for the loneliness I'll feel as a new Peace Corps volunteer.

Anyone reading this blog who has traveled alone, please drop me a comment—any and all advice is welcome.


Edward Hopper at the National Gallery

Before I decided to write a rant on the holidays, I had hoped to talk about my weekend. I accomplished a lot over those 48 hours, but one of the most memorable activities was unplanned.

I attended another silent movie at the National Gallery (The Merry Widow). Given that I arrived downtown much earlier than expected, I decided to take an hour to view the Edward Hopper exhibit. A-M had been talking about it for the past few weeks and I figured that I needed a bit of culture that day. The exhibit was wonderful. Hopper's use of color, light, and perspective was phenomenal. Throughout the exhibit, I felt aspects of my own existence reflected in his work. I sensed my own experience of isolation, loneliness, and unease in the female figures' expressions/non-expressions and the cold-warm, bleak-beautiful landscapes and cityscapes.

The painting that struck me the most, and the one that I'll be back to view this Saturday (yes, another movie…) is Summer Interior. Interestingly, this painting is said to have been influenced by Degas' Interior, which is another troubling, beautiful and ambiguous painting. I won't bore you with my interpretation of either because it's irrelevant and personal—just mentioning it in this entry reflects my own psyche. But I encourage you to go to the National Gallery to view Summer Interior (near the exhibit's entrance) and Hopper's other masterpieces.

Bah, humbug (already)

I hate the holidays.

Of course, I like going home and spending a little quality time with my family and old friends, but there is just so much unnecessary pressure and hollowness associated with this season. Maybe it's all in my head...

Thanksgiving is definitely more laid back and enjoyable, but the crazy travel delays are overwhelming.

Christmas is a whole other animal that has been largely usurped by capitalist endeavors so that what was once holy is now subjugated to the dollar and the self.

Don't get me started on New Year's Eve. There is so much hype and pressure placed on that night. I know that I've had amazing Eves and quite boring, anxious Eves. There is so much pressure to usher in the New Year in style while drunk and snogging your chosen mate.

I don't think that I was always this way about the holidays and actually, I know exactly when things took a negative turn. I'm just glad that the season only lasts a month and a half. Then, we can all get back to our normal, miserable (!) lives and start paying off the debt that we racked up in empty hopes of making the holidays bright, cheerful, secular and picture-perfect.


Pilates: 1, Hippo Q: 0

I ventured to a Pilates class with A-M last night, and it was definitely an experience.

I took Pilates once in college but shunned the practice after struggling through an awful 60 minutes of trying to keep up with the instructor and a class seemingly packed with gymnasts and dancers.

I feel that I'm in the best shape of my life right now (even better shape than when I was a high school soccer player—and I was pretty solid back them). Yet, I still had the hardest time scooping, pointing, raising and lowering my legs and arms last night. I couldn't stop laughing at my own ineptitude—my legs/arms/head were just too darn heavy to "lift slowly while scooping." It was very humbling to realize that in spite of the fitness progress I've made this year, I have little to no core strength.

This morning, I can still feel the workout in my abs, lower back and legs, but instead of sensing defeat and conceding to the god/esses of Pilates, I've decided to add this class to my normal fitness routine. If the instructor's appearance was any indication, Pilates will surely do wonders for my body, posture and presence.


Going on a Man Hunt

Going on a [man hunt]
I'm not afraid
Got a real good friend
By my side…
(I'm sure you remember the clapping and knee-slapping rhythm for this children's campfire song)

I was invited on a man hunt this Saturday, but I don't know if I should go. I know that it will be fun, but I'm a bit nervous about going out for the first time with the sole intention of flirting with guys. I guess I'm just so new to the whole single thing and it scares me beyond belief (especially after my missteps this summer).

It's pitiful that I lack the dating confidence and experience of most women my age—being in a serious relationship since 19 does that to you. My knowledge and experience with dating and guys is limited to a few anecdotes shared by high school and college friends. Let me be honest: I have no experience at all. I dated a guy in junior high for like a month and then, fast forward to freshman year, I started dating a 25 year old (My mom was not at all fond of the age difference). Being a wall-flower in high school and in a relationship during most of college limited my dating experiences.

The good thing about going out is that my chatty friend will show me how to effectively approach guys—about which I know nothing. Yet, I don't really see the point of man hunting at a bar given that most likely the guys there just want to get laid that night. So, if I do go out, I'm not going to seriously try to get or give out telephone numbers. Instead, I'll leave the man hunting to my friend and serve as a wing-woman for what is sure to be a memorable girl's night out.


I'm a DC Blogger too!

I signed up for a DC bloggers meet-up group that has monthly meetings and a discussion board. I joined because I want to become more active in the DC blogger community and because I would love to meet other bloggers and get advice on how to effectively grow my blog.

My concern is that once I meet other bloggers and share my blog's url, I'll lose my anonymity. Right now, only about seven people know about my blog and I'm certain that I want to keep the number under 10. I feel that I already censor my entries enough now (I learned my lesson after Floyd read my entries on Mr. Rebound.). I truly value my anonymity--the freedom to write about stuff without having to worry about it being attributed to me, and I don't want my blog to harm relationships with my current/future employer, friends, relatives, etc.

Anyway, I plan on attending the next DC bloggers happy hour because I want to become a face (and not just a url) in the DC blogging community.


Alcohol + Boys

I’ve had many memorable nights of being intoxicated. I can remember running down deserted streets in Foggy Bottom with my roommate, laughing and screaming. I can remember singing and dancing along to Britney Spears with several dozen of my new best friends. I can remember sharing my deepest secrets and fantasies with complete strangers. And there’s a lot more that I can’t remember at all.

I’ve had some of the best nights of my life while drunk and also made some of the poorest decisions of my life while drunk. My problem isn’t with alcohol—alcohol, on its own, is just fine. My problem is when alcohol is introduced in a setting with guys. It heightens the sexual energy of a place and does something truly dreadful to girls like me.

I will deny you any details of my own (very rare) crazy nights with guys and alcohol. I’m sure that everyone reading this blog can think of a night blurred by alcohol-fueled passion. But they always run the same script: girl goes out to have a good time, girl drinks a lot, girl becomes sexual goddess, girl finds responsive partner, girl wakes up wondering, "Did I really kiss/touch/shag my best friend/coworker/boyfriend's best friend/boss/that old creepy guy in the bar?". It’s just the power of alcohol. It thankfully and regrettably rids you of your inhibitions and fears, at least until the next morning.

I think that I've learned my lesson about alcohol and boys (The drunken events of this summer still make me cringe). So pass me another glass, and dear sweet boys, stay away.


Silent Movies are Great!

I love old movies. I grew up watching AMC (and later TCM) with my mother, delighting in the performances of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joan Crawford, among others. Although most of the movies I like best came out in the 1930s (pre-code!) and 1940s, I do have a soft spot for silent film. I’m amazed by early cinematography and acting styles and how both impacted the modern movie experience.

Today, I saw Way Down East at the National Gallery. The restored film was accompanied by a pianist who played most of the original score (about 10 percent was improvised). The pianist played during the entire 2 hours and 25 minutes of the movie, without a break.

I was simply moved by Lillian Gish’s portrayal. She was amazing and her eventual love interest and rescuer, Richard Barthelmess, was quite dashing. Of course, I loved the famous blizzard (real frozen tears on her lashes and cheeks!) and ice floe rescue sequence. I also enjoyed the traditional silent movie characterizations of the villain and town gossip.

It’s interesting how the movie’s themes are so applicable to life today. I guess it just underscores how the human experience doesn’t vary much. The costumes may change; the lifestyle may change but there will always be love, loss, betrayal, sorrow, and joy.


Dating 101: Divide & Conquer

I was the victim of divide and conquer. I know that I've been such a victim before, but this time I was very aware of its occurrence--perhaps, partly due to reading the amusing and thought-provoking, though rather juvenile, musings of Rooshv and Roissy.

Last night, at an alumni event I was chatting up this guy (Dude). I wasn't interested in him, just trying to be friendly and test my networking skills. A blonde chick standing nearby inserts herself into the conversation. A few minutes later, Dude's friend (Wingman) swoops in and starts talking to me. I take the bait and wonder off with Wingman, leaving Dude the freedom to apply his game on the blonde chick. This was a classic "divide and conquer" or whatever guys call it these days.

Summary: Wingman (6-7) swoops-in and rids Dude (7-8) of Average-Chick (6-7) so that the Dude can focus on Hotter-Chick (7-8).

Who knows if it was planned (and part of an unspoken Dude-Wingman agreement), I was just struck at how deft the whole maneuver was. The blonde got paired off with a compatible Dude and I was left with someone who I found interesting and perhaps, was a bit more "on my level."

Ah, "my level." I've come to accept "my level" (more or less). I'm at least 6 and I think I have the potential to be a 7. Unfortunately, instead of doing my best to ensure that my appearance and persona boost me to a 7, I lazily languish as a 6. Don't get me wrong, I get noticed by guys but my looks are better categorized as sweet and cute than hot and sexy.

So, based on my interpretation of the blog musings I mentioned early, my dating options are to find

1) A compatible 6-7,
2) An unfaithful (or in some other way defective) 8-9, or
3) A 4-5 with lots of money, superb bedroom skills and/or an amazing personality.

I'm aiming for option 1.


2008 Election, Step One: Register to Vote

Wow, I can't believe that we are less than a year away from Election Day. Less than a year away from the end of the unfortunate eight-year reign of the Bush Administration. I can't wait for it to end! Ideally, the democrats will maintain power in both Houses and a democrat will once again walk the halls of the White House.

But, before I start blogging about candidates, parties, and platforms, I want to talk about registering to vote. I know that I've talked about the importance of this before, but given that there are only a few months until the primaries, I figure I need to reiterate the message.

Regardless of your party affiliation, economic status, age, ethnicity, or sense of disenfranchisement,

  • You should register to vote.
  • You should vote.

I remember talking with folks about the election in 2006. We were all excited about the possibility of change in Washington and throughout the country. Yet, I was dumbfounded to learn that a few of them weren't registered to vote! Among other qualifications (citizenship, at least 18 years of age, etc), you have to register in order to vote.

Registering to vote is a simple process. Just contact your local Board of Elections, fill out the necessary paperwork and you're in (Check out the Rock the Vote and Declare Yourself pages on voter registration for more info). Sure, registering puts you on the list for the annoyance of random jury duty, but it also guarantees that you'll be able to make your voice heard on issues that are important to you.


November at last!

As I sit here at home sipping a tumbler-full of Champagne (a leftover mini-bottle from when Floyd moved into his DC apartment years ago), I want to acknowledge the achievements of another month gone by.

I'm glad that I kept myself busy in October with a heck of a lot of extracurricular activities and a full plate at work. Here, here, Hippo Q.:

  • Way to get the big project off the ground and not lose your head when your work tasks kept piling up.
  • Way to go complete and submit a story to the writer's group and bravely take their critique.
  • Way to experience a lot of new things, meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.
  • Way to put more reflection and space between your current life and your crazed life this summer. As always it was real, but c'est la vie. I'm the neither first nor the last to experience what I did.

I think that I will celebrate the end of every month from now on with a toast to my accomplishments. But, I guess that means that I have to actually accomplish something each month. My goals for November are solid bar action, completing my Peace Corps application essays, baking a pumpkin pie with A-M, and getting a bit more legislative exposure at work.