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Nov. 7th, 2006

Sugar Dreams

In the grand scheme of things, my boss isn't so bad.  I mean, she isn't a Miranda Priestly, ordering me to fetch steaming hot cups of coffee, over and over again every single morning.  She isn't Mrs. X, expecting me to entertain her hideous bratty children, carting them all over town for these lessons and those lessons, all day every day.  She doesn't expect me to take her dog for walks, or to stand in line for her at the DMV, or any of the other demeaning things that bosses can demand of assistants (at least in books.)

But today, I'm ready to kill Evelyn.

Today, she brought in her Halloween leftovers.

Now, if she'd brought them in on November 1, I would have been ready.  I had sworn off all candy on November 1.  I had vowed that I would never eat another bite of chocolate again. 

If she'd brought them in on November 2, I could have stood up to the pressure.  My will power can last 48 hours.  Most of the time.

But SEVEN DAYS after Halloween?  What sort of saint does she think I am?

And more to the point, what sort of neighborhood does she think she lives in?  How could she possibly have thought that she would hand out *that* much candy?  There aren't enough trick-or-treaters in all of D.C. to have emptied the gigantic garbage sack of candy that Evelyn hauled into the Peabridge this morning.

And it was all quality candy.  Not the wimpy stuff -- the "treats" in green or yellow or silver wrappers, like Skittles or Starbursts or even Three Musketeers and York peppermint patties - the candy that you can pretend isn't really all that bad for you.

This was hard core.  This was orange.  And brown.  Reese's.  Snickers.  Heath.  Butterfingers.  Hershey's bars, with the name stamped across the squares, for all the world to read.

Candy packed with more calories per handful than most people should eat in an entire meal.

I only meant to have one little snack, just to tide me over till lunch.  But then I realized that the I.B. might come in, to pick up the interlibrary loan that we requested for him, long before the Recent Unpleasantness.  I *had* to eat another candy bar.  And then, I hadn't tried all the types in the bag -- the Butterfingers would have felt left out.  And the Hershey's. 

And I needed to fortify myself after spending nearly one straight hour pulling lattes, for some unexplained late-morning rush of under-caffeinated neighborhood mothers.

Evelyn isn't a bad boss.

But she is truly, truly evil.

It's a good thing that the stays on this colonial costume can be loosened.

Oct. 30th, 2006

Daylight What Time? Recipe Included!

Well, it's happened again.  The shift from Daylight Savings Time to Daylight Standard Time.  Or Standard Time to Savings Time.  Whichever it is when we "fall back."

I've always thought that this time of year is magical, even before I found out I was a witch.  I mean, everything is changing, everything is in transition.  The trees are turning red and orange and gold.  The acorns are falling - constantly.  We don't have any oak trees in the Peabridge gardens, but we do have them all along the street in front of the library, and half the time I feel like I should wear a football helmet to keep from being attacked by falling acorns.

But the thing I love most about the fall is the light.  It comes through the trees, all slanty and melty, like butterscotch syrup.

Yeah.  Like I could actually make butterscotch syrup. 

I tried to make a gingerbread last night - the cake kind, not the cookie kind.  Melissa had promised me that the recipe was really straightforward.  I thought that it would be a good peace offering to David - he thinks that I'm not taking my studies seriously enough.  I should have had faith in the recipe.  It's just that when I did the last step, adding a cup of water to the dough, it looked *so* soupy that I threw it out.  And the next time, I only added half a cup.  And the gingerbread never really rose.

Here's the recipe, though.  I've eaten it at Cake Walk, so I know it's really very good - if you're willing and able to follow the directions!

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 325.  Cream butter and sugar, then beat in all other ingredients, adding (all of the) water last.  Mixture will be, um, soupy.  Pour into buttered 9 x 13 pan.  Bake for 40 minutes.

The best thing is, this gingerbread gets better, the longer it sits.  Not that it ever sits for long.  Especially not if Neko is going to bring his latest beau around...


Oct. 9th, 2006

Super Secret Entry

OK.  This is sort of awkward.  I mean, I should have mentioned something before, but it seemed so strange, so bizarre, so totally out of keeping with anything I've ever heard or read or believed.

::whispers::  I'm a witch.

Yeah.  Right.  Like anyone is going to believe me. 

I'm not a witch like Wizard of Oz.  My skin isn't green, and I don't wear those ridiculous striped socks.  I don't even get the tiara and the glimmery hoopskirts of Good Witch Glelnda.  And I'm not at all like Broom Hilda.  Or the hag that feeds poisoned apples to Snow White.  Or the trick-or-treat witch, with a wart on her nose, and a crazy black hat.  Or even the glamorous suburban Samantha, twitching my nose and making magic happen.

I'm just me.

But "just me" has a stash of books in her basement.  A box of crystals.  An uncanny ability to read a spell out loud and make it come true.

There.  I said it.  I know that it sounds crazy - if the guys with the straitjackets ever read this, they're going to show up at the Peabridge and take me away, lock me in a cell where I'll never have to worry about making another latte again.

But, really, what am I worried about?  I mean, this is just my journal.  I can't imagine that anyone else is ever going to read these words.  So what can it hurt to say it again:  I AM A WITCH.

I wonder if that gets easier to say over time?  Because it sure is scary, right now.

Sep. 26th, 2006

Death to Coffee Makers!

I am not a Luddite. 

Sure, I have a Masters degree in English literature.  I can quote Shakespeare like a fiend.  I know a ridiculous amount about Elizabethan theater, which I'll never share with anyone, lest I bore them to tears.

And yes, I'm a librarian.  (I know, I know - to a lot of people, that sounds like I should have my hair up in a bun, and my rhinestone glasses hanging over my ample bosom on a chain, so that they can swing back and forth as I raise a dessicated finger to my lips to whisper, "Shhhhhh."  Sorry to disappoint you.)

I love technology.  It makes my life easier.  It helps me to do my job.  It entertains me.

But if I could eradicate one single invention of the past century, it would be a machine.  A coffee-making machine.  A bean-grinding, water-spouting, milk-foaming coffee-making machine.

Or maybe I would just go back in time, so that my boss, Evelyn, had never drunk a latte before.

Don't get me wrong.  Evelyn is generally a good boss.  She cares about the Peabridge Library.  She wants us to succeed.  She wants to bring in new patrons and keep them happy and busy and checking out all of our rare Americana.

But if I have to pull one more half-caf, half-decaf, gigantissimo mocha, with full fat whipped cream, skim milk in the drink, with chocolate shavings, a dusting of cinnamon, a touch of vanilla powder, and a swirl of caramel, I am going to scream.  Scream so loudly that the ghost of George Washington will hear me.  Scream so loudly that my Imaginary Boyfriend will leap out of his chair and come running to the coffee counter, seeking out the source of my agony and terror.

Hmmm...  Now maybe the coffee maker isn't such a bad invention after all...

Sep. 20th, 2006

Dates for Breakfast

This morning, I stared at my empty cupboard and wondered who had eaten the last of the Special K with Red Berries.  (Um, I live alone, so that wasn't such a difficult question.)  I opened up the fridge and found the aromatic dregs of a half gallon of milk.  I dug in the freezer for a bagel, but only found an ice-encrusted plastic bag.  I remembered the Pop-Tarts in the pantry.  And then, I remembered that I'd eaten the last one yesterday.

So, I did the only thing a girl can do in that situation. I went to Cake Walk.

"Good morning," I said, as I straightened the "Walk On In" sign on the door.

"Good morning," Melissa answered, pushing my favorite mug toward me.

"How did you know I was coming?"

"You told me yesterday that you were eating your last Pop-Tart."

"I might have gone grocery shopping last night."  I tried a smile that I thought might be winsome, but Melissa only shook her head.  "Mmmm," I said, looking at the cake plates piled high with breakfast treats.  "Is that a Best Date Ever?"

Melissa placed the pastry on a small dish.  "Do you want some cream cheese frosting with it?  I have some left over from the Bunny Bites." 

It's a wonderful thing, when your best friend in the entire world owns a bakery.

I glanced at the calendar over Melissa's shoulder.  A giant red X sliced through yesterday.  Red marked Melissa's First Date nights.  She was determined to find the man of her dreams by the time she turned thirty, a deadline that was rapidly approaching.  My baking friend, however, remained undauanted.  She continued "rotating her stock", selecting potential mates from such varied sources as FranticDate.com, Washington Today (a magazine read mostly by lawyers, lobbyists, and other upwardly trending intellectuals), and Dedicated Metropolitan Singles, (a do-good group of volunteers who hoped to find love while saving the world.)

I nodded toward the X.  "Where did you find last night's guy?"

"Washington Today."


Melissa shrugged.  "There won't be any second date."

I took a sip of the oolong that had cooled to the perfect temperature.  "Why not, this time?"  OK.  Maybe that wasn't the most supportive thing a best friend could say.  But let's face it.  There was only so much First Date cheerleading that any one friend can do.  Even if she cheers in exchange for the most delicious pastry in all of Washington.  I smeared a dollop of cream cheese over my breakfast and helped myself to a monstrous bite before waving a hand for Melissa to continue.

"We'd emailed back and forth a few times.  I had proposed grabbing a cup of coffee.  He suggested dinner."

I smiled.  "Well, that sounds good -- upping the ante."

"That's what I thought," Melissa grimaced.  "I suggested Sala Thai.  You know.  Welcoming to vegetarians, to adventurous diners, to sticks in the mud."

"You're always thinking, you."

"He suggested Tabard Inn."

I raised my head from my oolong.  Tabard Inn was a funky hotel on a quiet downtown side street.  It had a wonderful, dark lounge, filled with couches and conversation nooks.  It also had a fantastic restaurant that boasted organic food and divine desserts (not that any desserts could be as divine as Melissa's own.)  At night, the restaurant was shadowed and intimate -- the sort of place that seductively whispered romance.  Switching from Thai to Tabard was upping the romantic ante into the stratosphere.  The fact that the inn had guest rooms upstairs only made the potential that much greater.

"Did you go?"

"Oh yes."


"And we had a lovely dinner."

"And?"  I prompted again, letting a little of my impatience spill over into the single word.

"And we had great conversation."


Melissa settled her palms against the glass counter, as if she needed to brace herself to deliver her next words.  "He truly felt that we had a connection.  We had so many things in common.  I was the easiest-to-talk-to-person that he'd meant since moving to D.C.  In fact, he felt comfortable enough that he was able to share his deepest, darkest secret."

"He's married."

"He's gay."


"You heard me."  Melissa harrumphed and started to rub away her fingerprints from the glass counter.

"But the escalation!  From coffee to dinner!  From Thai to Tabard!"

Melissa sighed.  "My thoughts exactly."

"And his running the ad in the first place?"

"He thought that he was ready to change.  That he was ready to 'convert.'"

"I take it you're out of the conversion business."

"I was never in it," Melissa said, topping off my hot water.  "Never in it at all."

The bell above the door jangled as a trio of lawyer types came in.  I settled back on my stool and ate the rest of my Best Date Ever pastry in silence, shaking my head over Melissa's rotten luck.

Sep. 11th, 2006

Baby Steps

This blogging thing is supposed to be a breeze.

Well, maybe it would be, if I didn't have to worry about my boss, Evelyn, strolling by and seeing what I'm doing.

Or my Imaginary Boyfriend, who should be arriving here at the Peabridge Library any minute.  He'll sit down at his table in the reference room.  He'll take his papers out of his briefcase.  He'll close the briefcase and set it on the floor.  He'll remember that he forgot to take out a pen.  He'll find a pen in the very bottom of his briefcase.  He'll tap the cap against his teeth as he reads through his notes from last week.

And then, maybe, if I'm lucky, if this is a good day, he'll come and ask me a reference question.

And if it's a fantastic day, I'll have checked my teeth in the mirror, to make sure that I don't have any raspberry seeds left over from this morning's Berry Crunch at Cake Walk.  I'll have a quick smile and a ready answer.  I'll be the perfect librarian.

But, more likely, I'll forget how to pronounce my own name.  I'll forget where we keep the dictionaries, much less the obscure colonial references that my Imaginary Boyfriend is likely to need.  I'll forget how to use the online catalog, how to shelve a book, how to do anything that would make me look remotely competent, here in the Peabridge.

And if it's an absolutely terrible, horrible, disastrous, end-of-Imaginary-Boyfriend-imagining day, my grandmother will phone while I'm talking to Jason.  I'll see her number on the Caller ID, and I'll forget how to flirt.  I'll miss have of what Jason says, because I'll be worried about getting Gran's message.  When I finally get around to picking up the phone, Gran will say that she was just calling to make me promise never to go skydiving, because there was an article about skydiving in this morning's Post.  Or to make me promise never to kayak on open water, alone, at night.  Or to make me promise any number of other things that I'd never even thought of doing before she called.

And I'll promise.  Because she loves me.  And I love her.  No one else would have put up with me when I was a miserable, melancholy, spoiled-brat teenager.

But I really hope that today will be one of the perfect ones. 

Time to post this first blog entry.  Before the Imaginary Boyfriend arrives!