Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Congratulations, Merrick and Gerald!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Soup & Sandwich

I love me a good grilled cheese (did anyone else call it "girl cheese" when they were growing up? No? Oh, neither did I).

Chicken Soup and Girl Cheese... I mean Grilled. Grilled Cheese. Grilled.

Close up. MMMMMMM!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Brunchy Goodness

Jeanette and her roommates hosted a lovely brunch last Saturday up in the ghetto near Howard University. (Okay, so it wasn't any more of the ghetto than the area in which I live, so whatever). I made homemade strawberry muffins - an experiment. I now know that I need to add as many strawberries as humanly possible. Love the strawberries. The cinnamon buns were delightful and two mimosas before noon is the best way to start the weekend.

Mmmm... buns.

I love food!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I'm glad the tickets were discounted...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Visitor Experience

Today, Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post penned an interesting article concerning the new additions and orientation center at Mount Vernon, the home of our nation's first president.

Mount Vernon spent over $100 million to alter the ways in which their visitors experience the historic home and grounds, and I say "BRAVO!" I can't assume that everyone grew up with parents like mine, who took our family to museums, nature centers, and campgrounds rather than Cedar Point and Disney World, and neither can the educators and administrators at Mount Vernon.

I remember visiting Mount Vernon for the first time when I was about ten years old. My brother was seven. It was our first trip to the Washington, DC area, and instead of driving directly there, we stopped for a few days in Gettysburg and then Antietam before making our way to DC. Bloody battlefields? Don't be alarmed -- we were fascinated. We were excited to get to DC, of course, but museums were old shoe to us. We'd been visiting the University of Michigan's Exhibit Museum of Natural History in strollers, and I will never forget the spiral staircase or suits of armor at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Mount Vernon experience, however, was entirely new. My brother and I had never been to a historic site like that before, at least not on that scale. We were absolutely blown away by the size of the house, the furniture, the grandeur. Though what really caught our attention was the slave quarters, and learning that this great man owned slaves. That may have been the moment in which my love for history was born, realizing that my schoolbooks weren't telling me the whole truth. And where did I learn the real history? At this historic site, learning by doing.

But Kennicott argues that Mount Vernon has become, in a word, Disneyfied. He complains that the visitor feels "herded" through the orientation center "with air conditioning and electric lighting and all the other ambiance killers" before being able to visit the house itself. Maybe so, but I, for one, am happy that the staff at Mount Vernon are trying to reach the masses rather than shutting out history to only the educated and cultured.

I understand Kennicott's frustrations, but I find it difficult to sympathize with someone who doesn't seem to understand that museums have GOT to change with the times. If he thinks that Mount Vernon could thrive for a hundred more years with the same displays, he's as ignorant as the visitors with whom he's embarrassed to be grouped together. He and I may benefit from the old, tired displays and historic home experience, but not everyone will. I learned early in my museum career that the "experience" is the most important part - if a visitor leaves learning even one new thing, then they've done their jobs.

I think that people in DC (with the somewhat correct stereotypes of being educated, cultured, etc.) tend to forget - or just aren't aware - that many museum visitors are first-time visitors who don't know what they are supposed to experience. Maybe that sounds stupid, but we are in the minority and aren't necessarily a main focus when it comes to the design of exhibits.

"The one experience that is very difficult to have at Mount Vernon (and, to be fair, at most popular historic attractions) is a simple, unmediated, uninterpreted, un-air-conditioned meander through the Great Man's home." Maybe he's right - I haven't been to Mount Vernon in years - but I think that after having experienced the orientation center, with it's bright lights and air conditioning, the visitor will realize the contrast all the more after making his way to the house itself. (This is entirely formed from my experiences working and volunteering in stiflingly warm and musty museums and historic homes, so I know that contrast!)

The new facilities do sound huge, and maybe they will be too much, but I maintain that change is good in museums, and entirely necessary in order to remain relevant to the public. Imagine if museums were the same as they were in the early 1900s. Paintings hung on the walls from ceiling to floor with almost no open space, "cabinets of curiosities" crowding rooms with absolutely no explanation... Tastes changed, technology changed, so museums changed.

Man, I can barely see the ground from up here on this soapbox!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The D

AND Michigan remains undefeated? It's all too much... too much!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro can write. He paints pictures with his words, and he can develop characters in a way that wordier authors cannot (wordier?).

After reading Never Let Me Go, I was intrigued. Now that I've read The Remains of the Day, I'm hooked. I'm a fan. It probably helps that Remains is set in England, my favorite study, flip-flopping between the 1930s and about 30-40 years following. The Interwar Years are fascinating, given the political and social upheaval in Europe, and yet Ishiguro focuses on a butler, Stevens, who can have nothing to do with these events. His job is to care for the manor and its owner, Lord Darlington. Stevens strives to be the perfect English butler, doing all that he can to serve a man he respects and staunchly defends against any rumors of misdeeds or... worse.

One of the most interesting running themes in Remains is the focus on dignity. Stevens is deeply concerned with maintaining the highest level of dignity as required by his profession even if that means ignoring important life events and denying himself personal relationships with those around him. As he recounts his time as a butler, his painful realization that his existance was a wasted one is revealed and he comes to see that all that he has told himself over the years of his service have been veiled lies.

Like many reviewers have written, this is a book about repression. Repressed emotions, memories, and ideas, as well as the repression of change -- or even repression of the idea of change. Britons yearned for normalcy after the horrors of WWI, and Stevens is representative of the many clinging to the ideals of the past. Understanding British history is somewhat important, especially given the fact that Europeans in general were willing to do almost anything to avoid another World War, including the appeasement of a dictator whose power grew steadily as European leaders allowed him to do whatever he wished.

This book was wonderful, and now I can see the movie -- which I just discovered existed. Add another to the Netflix queue!

Of course, while I'm waiting for that to arrive, I'll be reading When We Were Orphans. I just can't get enough of this author.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I got home from work the other evening to find this in the kitchen:

It looks like my grandpa's beer.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Jen and I had a super awesome dinner the other night - well, is Mexican dip and Dr. Pepper dinner? Either way, it was good times: good food, Project Runway Season 1 on DVD, and Dr. Pepper. ALL GOOD. (And we watched Wendy Pepper! HA! I just got that. Oh, I crack myself up. Oh man, she looks insane in that picture). If we had been thinking, we would have made margaritas. Oh balls, why didn't we do that?

Heather's Mexican Dip

In a dish of your choosing, spread the following in this order:

Refried beans
Romaine lettuce, chopped finely
Fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
Shredded cheese (Mexican blend, or whatever)
Salsa of your choosing (I like mild, but I am a gigantic wuss)
More shredded cheese
Grape tomatoes, halved

(Feel free to add sour cream at any point - I'm not a fan, so I don't include it!)

Eat or refrigerate immediately. Enjoy, my beetches!

The Historian

It took me some time, but once I got into The Historian, I didn't want to stop reading. Each time I closed the cover, I had the urge to read just one more chapter (I gave in on more than one occasion, and it didn't stop at one chapter). The story was so riveting that I seriously sat at work and contemplated what little white lie I could concoct just so that I could leave early and crack the cover once again. I suppose I could have brought it to work, but it is a bit of a monstrosity -- and in hardcover! Besides, I slack off enough as it is - adding a good book to the equation would be very bad.

I've read a little fantasy (mostly
Terry Brooks), Philip Pullman, and, of course, the Harry Potter series, but that's about as dark as I've gotten. I've never read Anne Rice, so the whole vampire genre was new to me. I don't think that this would really fit into that group, however, as it is more about the historian himself (or herself, depending on the character). Kostova grabbed me right from the start with her descriptions of these historians as well as librarians, and I found myself remembering the rather recent days of researching in a dark library or a dusty archive. It is really the thrill of the chase - wanting to find something that you just know is out there, but haven't quite discovered the best path.

Finding the correct path in research is the heart of this book. At the risk of making this sound like the dullest book ever written (I know that many people find the idea of research tedious at best), it is a thrilling, suspenseful novel that rarely drags - an impressive fact at 656 pages.

It is a story of a young American girl living in Amsterdam with her father: a loving, caring man, concerned only with her well being, and just as overprotective as any father, really. With him gone on a diplomatic trip, she discovers a book while snooping around in his study. Along with the mysterious book and hidden from view for years, she also finds yellowing letters addressed to, "My dear and unfortunate successor." Soon after, while traveling with him in Eastern Europe, she confronts him with her find, and he slowly weaves a painful tale set twenty years in the past. A tale of his search for his graduate school mentor in the darkness of Europe's past: A search for Dracula.

Kostova is a brilliant scribe, and I never once found myself skipping ahead or skimming paragraphs - something I am wont to do while reading, especially when the book weighs half a ton. Probably a remnant from my own days as a history student. (She's also a fellow alumna!) I loved her writing style and her ability to recognize when detail was necessary and when to hold off. Her intimate knowledge of historians and their quirks comes from direct experience, and her descriptions of those archives and libraries made me want to renew my reader's card at the Library of Congress.

I did encounter a slight problem in that I couldn't read The Historian too late at night, or I would end up having to watch something funny before I could even think about going to sleep. Over the few weeks it took to finish reading, I started with Clue and then moved on to Ferris Bueller before finally concluding with the first season of Scrubs.

But I
like to be frightened, and I think that I am not alone in this feeling! One only has to look to
Stephen King's sales figures to see our desire and need for our hearts to race and our brows to sweat. Perhaps the most chilling part of Kostova's carefully woven tale was the reader's realization that Vlad Dracula - the Impaler - could be alive today.

And now I've managed to freak myself out. Time for Scrubs!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's That Time Again

It's application time! Yay! More moron wannabe interns who can't seem to follow simple directions. I must praise them in that they did not try my patience this semester with inane paper clips. Staples, on the other hand...

I like to see how many I can fit on the staple remover -- or, "rejection claw," as I like to call it.

There were a plethora of staples! I used the rejection claw to extricate them from the mounds of paper, and let me tell you, I did so with attitude. Plethora. Now there's a good word. Overused, but good. I would say about half of the applicants used it at least once in their essays: "plethora of responsibilities," "plethora of activities," and "plethora of interests" were the most rampant. Great.

These potentials applied for Spring 2007, so there weren't scary amounts. That's on February 1st - the deadline for summer applicants. That's also, coincidentally, when my hair starts falling out. I guess it could be the weather... I don't know. It's the point when I tend to forget that I was once a hopeful intern applicant and start to really hate them.

Just to reiterate, I am not the one who makes the life or death decisions (the boss does that), but the ones with the fewest staples survived the first cut. Interesting.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Snail Mail

Dear Credit Card Companies,

When I receive mail like this, "Please Do Not Discard" means "Immediately Shred Into Tiny Pieces." Seriously, do you think that this is going to get me to open the envelope, much less apply for your plastic snare?

Now, if it read, "Pictures of Puppies Inside!" or "Open for Free Coupon For Willy Wonka Candy - Especially Bottlecaps," I would be much more likely to tear it open - I love Bottlecaps.

And what's with the polite, "Please?" You could be all, "Open Now or We'll Chase You Down With a Pitchfork. AHHHHHHH!!!!"

Work on that.

Love, Heather

Monday, October 02, 2006

Loeb's NY-Style Attitude

Merrick and I met for lunch in Farragut last week, and decided on Loeb's, a NY-style deli. My old supervisor used to take me there when I was interning at the Gettysburg Foundation several summers ago, and I remember liking it - who can screw up a BLT anyway?

Right, so Merrick had leftovers from her homemade dinner the night before, but she wanted to get chips and a drink. As I was paying for my BLT, the cashier looked at her (in line behind me) and said, "I appreciate that you are buying chips and a soda, but I cannot allow you to eat another restaurant's food in my restaurant." I think that we just were stunned, mainly because we had planned on eating in Farragut Square Park, but also because Merrick was a paying customer. Otherwise, she would have said something. We promptly left after explaining, but I won't be back. It was a decent BLT, but not worth the rudeness.

We're just going to assume that it was the Little Man Syndrome, because the restaurant had many more empty tables than filled, and Merrick had her food in a nice takeout container. I understand that bringing outside food to another establishment is not okay, but he made several assumptions about us and was a gigantic ass.

Maybe he'd had a bad day, or to many people had brought in food that day and we were the last straw. Are we just overreacting? Were we in the wrong, or does that guy need to chill? Or, was his attitude just the "NY-style" part in "NY-style deli?"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Amanda's Birthday - The Aftermath

My aunt always says that birthdays should be a week long. She's a wise lady. It was true for me and it was definitely true for Amanda. On Thursday, we resurrected our Cheesecake Factory (Cheesecaktory) tradition and headed up to Friendship Heights for dinner. Amazing, as always.

Friday, though exhausted, we headed to the
Black Cat for Cryfest 2006 - the Cure versus the Smiths Dance Party. My friend Steve deejays this event every year, and it's always a good time. I love the Black Cat because it is truly a place where one can be himself. No one is judging what you're wearing or how you're dancing or what you're drinking - it's a refreshing change of pace, to be honest. This year was no exception, though some of the patrons were a little, um... let's say, rowdy. From the strangely androgynous heterosexual couple that experienced six different emotive dances during one song (I love you! I hate you! I love you! Gross!) before furiously making out (who said, "She's going to be pregnant by the end of the night" anyway?) to the two guys who were hellbent on giving each other atomic wedgies before exploding into a dance-off, it was definitely a night to remember.

Which girlie is drunk? The answer may surprise you!

Saturday night was a bar hopping extravaganza - Ella's to RFD to Tom Tom's. After the free drinks at Ella's, Amanda was a bit adventurous and decided on a DC safari:

Yeah. We know.

Happy Birthday, Mandi!