Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Watching Clueless on a Friday night is my idea of fun. In fact, it’s a luxury since returning from television-less Londontown. But even though I’m having fun, I didn’t necessarily choose my fate of apparent loserdom. Yesterday while playing tennis, in a heroic sprint to answer my cell phone, I ran full speed into the handle of the net crank. A few tears, a Sweet Green sweet flow, and one burrito later, I was happily limping home. I continue living a charmed life in DC working MWF’s and sleeping in on days off. Climbing and the journey to the climbing gym are meditative experiences, solo and wonderful. I listen to my Pimsleur Basic Norwegian audio lessons on the way and mutter phrases to myself on the Metro. And yes, I am learning Norwegian for no reason at all other than I feel like it (and the cds at Barnes & Noble were cheap). Perhaps German is next? Who knows. For some reason, practical languages like Spanish are so discouraging because being conversational seems significantly less attainable than for a seemingly useless language like Norwegian.
Next Friday I head up to the Cape for a long overdue reunion with my sister. I say “the Cape” like I know what I’m talking about, but really, I’m confused and hope it’s not over-populated with Vineyard Vines-toting, critter pants-wearing, collar-popping socialites. Is there a hippie/hobo part of the Cape? I’m excited to ride bikes, fly kites, swim, and frolic in the ocean. The ocean! I realized while abroad that it’s incorrect to refer to any sea/ocean as the ocean. Before I thought that “sea” and “ocean” were synonyms when in fact, Europeans refer only to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic Oceans as “oceans” and only to seas, like the Mediterranean, as “seas.” Maybe everyone knew this already, but I was enlightened.
I’m all blogged out so for the curious, here are some pictures of my humble abode. No huge plans for this weekend except probably a Nats game tomorrow and my first pseudo-day at Patagonia on Sunday. My foray into outdoor retail continues… happy weekend!
“Thank you for throwing your wedding during the holiday sales,” said one, calling me from an uptown department store. “It was good enough getting it all half-off, but now it’s like a posh bargain basement.”
At the time, I was too busy to feel jealous or left out. And anyway, who could take the decline of the dollar personally, for God’s sake? If anything, I saw the situation through the prism of ironic detachment: Wasn’t it all so interesting, how the tide was turning? New York City, once a formidable fortress of look-but-don’t-touch, was becoming practically kittenish in its accessibility.
But six months later, the joke is wearing thin. Despite some rah-rah rallying this week in response to a pep talk from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the dollar has fallen 11.5 percent against the euro and 7.2 percent versus the yen since September 2007, and it continues to limp along.
Not that you can blame the Europeans in this equation: They’re simply taking advantage of their good luck, as we’ve done before. Indeed, our country owes a chapter of its most important literature to the dollar’s former strength overseas, allowing expats like Fitzgerald and Hemingway to revel in the then-cheapness of Paris and the French Riviera. It’s just unfortunate to be part of a generation in which these particular cards have turned on us.
Still, there’s truth to the old adage that you eventually grow to resent your benefactors. It’s undeniably depressing that we’re relying on European tourists to prop up our economy. What makes it worse: Our consumerist benefactors don’t even like us. International opinion of the United States and its inhabitants has tanked over the last eight years, practically eviscerating fond memories of Americans as midcentury saviors of the free world.
Yet somehow through the end of the 20th century, we could hide from any feelings of inadequacy by hiding behind the protective shield of our economy. If, by contrast, other nationals found us ham-fisted and naive, it never really mattered because our country was rich and theirs was usually dependent on ours in some way. When in Europe, we admired their lifestyle and intimidating sophistication, but we never would have swapped our bullish work ethic or earnestness for their double-digit unemployment or sclerotic bureaucracies.
But these days, we’re being humbled on a world stage. Perhaps—in addition to our more overt financial and military embarrassments—we fear that our European counterparts believe the dollar’s decline is symbolic, that the world really is in a post-America stage and doesn’t care about us anymore except as a bargain bin. We’re finally being unmasked as the hunky-dory, cultureless brats they’ve always assumed us to be: that we have nothing left to give.
I have sort of been procrastinating on blogging. Is there such a thing? Procrastinating. On blogging? No, nevermind. Blogging is an instrument of procrastination.
Living in DC has so far been a non-traumatic transition from London, land of the no-schedule schedule. I’m currently working MWF and loving the freedom of my days off. Cramping my style are some unexpected bumps like lost mail and subsequent visits to the post office where I am then redirected to another post office, but I can’t really complain.
Despite my easy work schedule, I feel mysteriously busy. This past weekend I watched the Eurocup Final at the Austrian Embassy, which provided free beer and food, with two housemates. We also went to the Crafty Bastards crafts fair in Silver Spring, MD, home of hand-sewn penis and vagina pincushions and other less eyebrow-raising jewelry and clothing.
I joined the local climbing gym and have been going once or twice a week, but I do miss the socialness of The Castle. The crowd is much younger than I’m used to, which is weird for me. I feel old? And possibly worse, the bouldering routes are all hard. I suppose I’ll just get better by trying the easier ones over and over again until I get them? Atrophied muscles, be damned! At least tennis is less demoralizing.
Another thing keeping me busy is my summer radio show, Touch My Clickwheel. The first show recorded successfully and we posted it at the TMC blog with pretty good reception. Technical issues ruined the second attempt, which really had me irritated, but hopefully I’ll figure out a solution before tonight’s show. I’m perhaps too invested in preserving the memories of my college years.
I’ll end my epic post here, but look for more posts in the next few days. I’ll try to post some pictures of my amazing house soon. Until then… take care.