Reading: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, by Al Franken, borrowed from Rob. And because Chapter 2 is entitled "Ann Coulter: Nutcase," I adore it already.

Watching: The West Wing premiere and it made me sob and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Charlie saying "I work for YOU, sir" set me off and I didn't stop for the rest of the episode.

Listening: The new Dave Matthews solo album. It's good.

Napping: Maybe not ever again. While I was in the middle of writing this, I went upstairs and napped for about an hour and a half, and had a horrible, horrible nightmare, and woke up even more exhausted. It was horrible.

In search of: A decent web-based e-mail program. I'm willing to pay for it. I do not wish to disparage Yahoo, as they employ both my best friend and her husband, but I have a feeling it's been eating some e-mail lately. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

The countdown begins: One month to Sexie! From the second row. Did I mention we'll be in the second row? Michelle and I will be Second Row Sexie. In precisely 30 days.

So last weekend, I walked out of my apartment at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, and walked back in at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Monday, and in between, saw a whole lot of people who are my friends.

First up were some friends from law school, gathering in Philly for a night of food, drink and debauchery. Except that there was no one there that I was close with. Obviously, when you spend three years with 180 people, you end up knowing all of them to some degree, but the people I hung out with the most didn't end up coming. So I talked with the one girl I am still close with, a few people I didn't really care about, and then left as the crowd was headed to the bar, and went to Corina and Wes's barbecue, which was, frankly, way better.

If you haven't eaten pork at one of Corina and Wes's barbecues, then you haven't seen Shakespeare the way it was meant to be played.

Lord in heaven, but those two do know how to throw themselves a kick-ass barbecue. There was pork that Wes had smoked for almost a full 24 hours, and it literally melted in your mouth. There were ribs. There were squeezy bottles of barbecue sauce with which to smother the pork and ribs. There was good cheese on good crackers with pesto and olive oil. Which reminds me, there were olives. There was chili that sent tears streaming down some faces, and there was homemade chocolate truffle ice cream and melty Coca-Cola cake and brownies, some of which were Twix brownies, for the love of God. There was wine.

And there was, of course, great company. Along with one or two journalers, there were also normal people, friends of workplaces and law schools. I remembered a couple of people from last year's barbecue, particularly a classmate of Wes's from New York I had bonded with, because we were both, at the time, unemployed lawyers. She was kind of hammered when I got there, and I went up and reintroduced myself as "Remember me, the other unemployed lawyer?" And we squealed and hugged and yelled, "Ohmygod, how are you?" "Still unemployed! How about you?" "Me too!" "Ohmygod!" And we stood on the porch and smoked and drank and re-bonded over life as a document-reviewing temp. (I should also point out that I then did my part to help Sarah find Don, because this girl lives in Jersey City, so I told her the Find Don story, and she promised to keep on the lookout for him.)

Sadly, I kind of screwed up the downloading of the pictures I took at the barbecue, in that instead of downloading them, I deleted them. But believe me when I say that the food looked incredible, and after a couple of glasses of wine, so did all the people there!

It was, on all accounts, a smashing good time. If you don't know Corina and Wes, then your life is just a little bit empty, because you are not on the annual barbecue guest list. I suggest you stalk them.

I have never been to New Haven, Connecticut, before, and as I was going to be in Philadelphia already on Saturday, Rob invited me up to hang out on Sunday and go to the Andrew Bird show that night. And because I like nothing more than to spend as much time as possible away from my own home on the weekends, I jumped at the chance, even though I knew I'd have to leave obscenely early (i.e., 4:30 a.m.) to drive back home on Monday.

On Sunday morning, while five other people in various places in the apartment remained crashed out in their pork comas, I slipped out to the neighborhood 7-11, got some coffee, asked the customer in line ahead of me for directions to the Jersey turnpike, and was soon headed north at a speed somewhat over the limit, seeing as I now have valid plates and registration. Just under three hours later, I pulled up to the Rummel-Hudson home.

Before I tell you about the day, I would just like to take a moment to say that I'm pretty sure you all know how I feel about Schuyler. It's the same way a lot of you feel, I think. Because we have been reading Rob's journal since before she was born, and because he has been so open and generous and heartbreakingly honest in sharing her life with his readers, we all feel like we know her. We have quite literally watched her grow up, and we all care about her more than we otherwise would about the kid of a journaler.

And let me tell you, for those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet her, and for those cynics among you who don't believe Rob when he tells you this himself, that she is an utterly captivating little girl. I have been lucky enough to hang out with her a few times already, but I always forget just how engaging she is. She is bright and giggly and charmed the life out of me in about five minutes.

I also have to say, with as much humility as I can muster (and it's not much), that she seems to like me, and I am kind of freakishly honored by that. (I take it personally when kids or pets don't like me. So I'd like to point out that all of the animals in the Rummel-Hudson menagerie liked me too, except for the rabbits. They might have liked me, I suppose, but I kept a safe distance. I'm like Anya about rabbits. They are out to get me.)

Anyway, I was feeling the Schuyler love, and proud of it. Fairly soon after we set out on our afternoon stroll through New Haven, she was reaching for my hand to hold. And when we stopped at a burger place for lunch, she climbed into my side of the booth, and then decided that just sitting next to me was not good enough, so she clambered onto my knee, and from there, ate ketchup.

No, I'm kidding. She actually ate french fries (with ketchup) and grilled cheese (with... ketchup. See?) But it's okay, because I used to do that too, when I was her age. Not on purpose, ketchup wasn't an intentional ingredient of the grilled cheese, but if there was some left on my plate, I'd use the sandwich to mop it up. It was good. (There was ketchup on my plate because I used to eat it with potato chips. You used to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so be quiet.)

She also liked my sunglasses. She actually wore them around outside for like half an hour. She's such a rock star.

New Haven is, of course, every bit as picturesque as you imagine a New England Ivy League university town to be. It includes, according to my camera:

Yale buildings!

This is a dorm. Did your college dorm look like this? Neither did mine.

This is the admin building. Did your college admin building look like this? Neither did mine.

This is a really cool fountain, engraved with a spiral of
the number of women admitted to Yale throughout the years.

I think this is a library. Rob said you can see out these
"windows" from the inside. I know, I didn't believe him either.

And protestors!

No war!

Woo, war!

And Socialists!

Okay, ONE Socialist. We met a Socialist! I didn't take her picture though.

And townies!

Julie got home soon after we got back, so we spent some time chatting and then went for a drive through some of the less photogenic parts of New Haven, in search of the location of the Andrew Bird gig, which was a place they'd never been to. (It is called, rather minimalistically, The Space.)

The place (er, the Space) was quite a cool venue, located in the middle of an industrial business park. They asked you to turn off your cell phones as you walked in, and before the show started, the owner went up and explained that they liked to keep the focus on the music, so there was a "no talking" rule while the acts were performing.

There were two acts who came on before Andrew Bird. I noticed the first one while he was setting up, and thought he was kind of hot, and then he started singing and I realized that he was pre-pubescent, and possibly gay. But still cute, and pretty good, just up there with an acoustic guitar. At one point he brought up a harmonica player, and he was the most enthusiastic harmonica player I have ever seen, but it was still some enjoyable music.

The second act was... well, a little hard to describe. He went up there with a violinist, so of course I was optimistic, and when they started to play, they sounded great. But then he opened his mouth.

So, okay. I'm not the hippest person musically, and there are plenty of artists that I don't understand at all but that everyone else seems to think are geniuses, so I tried to keep it together, I really did. But about halfway through the first song, I found myself literally biting my lip to keep from laughing. Rob was sitting on the outside of me, so I couldn't see his expression, but I looked over at everyone else and they seemed to be digging it, so I tried to pay attention and understand what I was missing.

But at some point I did look over at Rob, and we exchanged the wide-eyed "What the fuck is THIS?" expression, and my opinion of this freak was validated. So I focused my attention on the violin player, studying her technique, and was able to block the rest of it out, until she stepped off the stage and we had to sit through another two or three songs without her.

(Does anyone remember Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live, sitting behind a piano and singing songs like "Chopping Broccoli" with intensely exaggerated emotion? That was this guy, and I'm not kidding. Except he was, as far as we could tell, not actually trying to be funny. And then we found out he was the brother of the owner, and all was explained.)

And then, finally, Andrew Bird took the stage. Rob's account of his performance will be about a million times better than mine, so I'm going to leave the bulk of it to him. One thing I did find interesting is that if Isabel hadn't shown up when she did, I would have seen Bird already, at a club in Arlington last Thursday night. But while we were waiting for the show to start, I realized that I was glad I didn't, because seeing him with someone who is so familiar with his music and admires him so much made it that much more enjoyable. Rob looked like he felt pretty much how I felt when I went to see Eddie Izzard's play in New York. The excitement of seeing one of your idols, regardless of how many people may or may not know who he is, is quite infectious.

My only familiarity with Bird's music is from a compilation CD Rob gave me last year, and it is very interesting and complex, a rather uncategorizable style of music. Because he is a classically trained violinist, that was what I was most excited about seeing, and I soon realized that my expectations were way too low. The few phrases he played while setting up, just to check the tuning, made me want to cry, and one song actually did. It was the first live violin performance I've seen since I started playing myself (I unabashedly discount the chick backing up Dana Carvey), and he absolutely blew me away.

I never realized what one person is capable of creating with a violin, a guitar, a xylophone, and a voice. I was very, very impressed.

And then we came back, and then I slept for three hours, and then I got up in the middle of the night to drive home. I was trying to time it so I would miss rush hour in every major metropolitan city that I had to drive through on the way, and I got through New York okay, but shortly after 6:00 I just couldn't do it anymore. I pulled off into one of the rest stops on the turnpike and slept until 7:00, when the sun was finally out. I actually did go to work in the afternoon, and was useless, and pretty much crashed as soon as I got home.

But it was worth it. I haven't had such a nice weekend, full of good things and good friends, in quite a long time. Two complete days that I wouldn't change a minute of don't happen very often to me, and if 6 total hours of sleep and 650 miles in the car is what it takes to get them, it's a bargain.


...moving like an angel, trailing butterflies

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