The Further Adventures of Juls and Liz

Juls and I did more than carve pumpkins. We also ate sushi off a conveyor belt, toured the Occupy DC protest, slept in, and made Mickey Mouse chocolate chip pancakes, among other accomplishments.

On our big “Explore D.C. day”, our friend Rebecca was kind enough to give up her lunch hour to show us mere tourists the Capitol — or, as Juls calls it, “America!”

We then made a brief stop at the Library of Congress before hopping on the Metro to visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. No match for St. Peter’s, but beautiful and interesting in its own way and one of my favorite places in D.C. If you’re in D.C., you should go.

The basilica always makes me think about the relationship between beauty and worship. But more on that later. It’s late. Good night, world.


Pumpkin carving

This past week my friend Juliana visited me on her fall break from law school. It’s hard to explain what a wonderful friend Juls is. Let’s just say our friendship often reminds me of the fifth chapter of The Wind in the Willows, with me, like Mole, breaking down into tears and Juls going out of her way to make it all better again.

We had many adventures this weekend, more of which I will post later. Today we came home from church and did something that made us very happy: We carved a pumpkin.

Our friend Kat joined us in this pumpkin carving endeavor. While we were deciding what shape to carve, Juls told us that all the pumpkins she’d ever carved had smiling faces because carving pumpkins always made her happy. Thus, we carved a happy pumpkin. And named him Felix.

After we finished him, several children walked by and talked about how cheerful the pumpkin looked, according to the report from my housemate Hannah — clear proof that Felix’s joy is contagious.

We took too long carving the pumpkin, however, and Juls missed her bus. But she was able to get a ticket for a later ride, so we went back home from the station and roasted pumpkin seeds and watched a couple episodes of our favorite show, Arrested Development, or, as Juls’ mom once called it, “Depressed Elements.”

What a good afternoon.

P.S. Check out updated photos of our house from Hannah. Also notice how content Juls and I look in the photos. We were watching Depressed Elements — friendship bliss.


All week long I’ve been trying to think of something I could say to adequately describe my trip to Hillsdale last weekend. I came up with nothing clever or profound — just that it was so, so good. The familiar faces and buildings and trees did wonders for my soul. In just a few days, for whatever reason, I was not only comforted, but inspired and filled with confidence for the future, which was an answer to prayer. And I know I’ve already reached my limit on cheesiness, so I’m just going to leave you with this passage from one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors (you can probably guess who…), a passage that gives off the same sort of magic that Hillsdale gave me last weekend.

“I’m going to tell you something that you may or may not understand, and I want you to memorize it and say it to yourself now and then, until, someday, you do understand.”
“Is it long?”
“Go ahead.”
“Nicoló,” Alessandro said.
“Nicoló,” Nicoló repeated.
“The spark of life is not gain.”
“The spark of life is not gain.”
“Nor is it luxury.”
“Nor is it luxury.”
“The spark of life is movement.”
“And furthermore…”
“And furthermore…”
“If you really want to enjoy life, you must work quietly and humbly to realize your delusions of grandeur.”
“But I don’t have them.”
“Start to have them.” 

Vice presidential curse words and rainy day Turkish pop

The other day this thought drifted across my mind: “My life isn’t very exciting.” My mind immediately jumped out of its front porch rocking chair and said: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Not that there aren’t days that are very, very slow… (the other day I found myself googling: “Funny bunny pictures”….) or weeks when I feel like all I do is work, go home, eat, read, go to sleep, repeat…

But some days I get told stuff like this:

“Hey, you wanna go see Biden tomorrow?”

Now, I know that as a D.C. resident and journalist I’m supposed to be all jaded and used this kind of thing, and I convinced myself I was for a while, but at some point sitting in that big room waiting for the VP to show up, I got tingles. I’m going to see the vice president of the entire United States of America in person! I felt like a little girl on a field trip.

Awaiting the VP

He was just as goofy as they say he is. The whole room was decked out, police officers’ boots and badges shiny, Aaron Copeland symphonies playing while they waited — a certain sense of grand expectation. And then in walks Biden with a ridiculous lop-sided grin on his face to give a speech that I’m sure had to be more dignified in its original form, but when it came out of his mouth sounded like a talk he was just givin’ the boys over donuts. Maybe that’s his gift.

Also, in case you were wondering, the only inappropriate word he uttered in that speech was “hell” — as in “How the hell are you going to do that [police streets without funding]? Excuse me, how the heck.”

Those pesky broadcast journalists

While we were waiting for the VP, a Virginia congressman I sometimes write about came over and started talking to the woman on my right. Then he turned to me and introduced himself and shook my hand and said: “I wanted to meet you because I see you’re reading All the King’s Men.” It gave me a little a hope for the world that he, too, has read a good book and loved it.

“And now for something entirely different,” as they say. (Pop culture reference!) Yesterday I went to the D.C. Turkish festival with my friend James. I think we both decided we could die happy when, after crooning Turkish love songs ad nauseum, the tan Turkish pop star with the too-tight jacket and slightly unbuttoned white shirt started singing “We will, we will rock you.” I kind of wanted to go touch his hand and swoon with all the other front-row females, but didn’t. I also got to meet some Ottoman impersonators (the historical regime, not the furniture), pet a Turkish kitty, pick up a slightly creepy Turkish airlines magnet with a picture of a pretty woman with hairline problems, and see and smell little reminders of my trip to Turkey last year… scarves, plates, calligraphy, doners, baklava.

"It was fun," as Mehmet would say

And the last picture is for Juls, because I know she would disapprove of me taking pictures of children I don’t know… This polka-dot-covered baby was getting bounced to the beat of Queen and seemed to like it.

Nothing like polka dots to go with your pop music