Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Feline AIDS

I have just received an invitation to the 8th International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium in Washington, DC, October 8-11, 2006. The line-up of speakers on the multifaceted subject of cat AIDS is truly impressive. What is more amazing to me is that this subject would inspire not just one national, but eight international conferences. Then again, if one can figure out how to combat FIV, then one may have a means of addressing HIV.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hectic and Poor

Saturday was the worst day (revenue-wise) I'd had since (and I checked this) FEBRUARY! That means in the cold, dark, dead days of winter I was regularly pulling in more than I did this warm and sunny past weekend. It was dreadful. Three sales. And one of those to a fellow vendor, my friend Anne, whom I basically badgered into buying two pairs of earrings for her nieces. Otherwise I would have cleared the booth rent by only a buck fifty. Gack.

It'd been a pretty downer week since Tuesday, when we Protestants (yes, the Asian Baptists got the boot, too--the CSCM was misinformed) received that expulsion letter. Wednesday, my dear friend Leah (CathyPlusOne) ended up in the hospital with viral menigitis. Thursday, instead of getting over a grand for some costly stones I'd been hoarding, I was offered just $120 by the estate buyers to whom I'd taken them. I reluctantly accepted $43 for the smaller items, and kept the larger. It was a slap in the face, not a mention a kick in the pocketbook. Friday, I went into a hug fit (yes, I do need a cat--sometimes you just want to squeeze a fellow creature), and apparently insulted a grad in my dept by giving him a hug. So I've felt guilty and insecure all weekend.

It's not been all bad. The sermon Sunday was great, and the catechism really hit home. And I found a replacement wallet (my old one was falling to bits) at TJ Maxx for just $11. Leather--very nice, just what I'd wanted. And I had a lovely lunch with two friends from church. And I should not complain at all about the money I earned last week--that was worth a whole lot more concurrent misery, indeed!

Today I've been running around like the proverbial headless chicken. Professors who haven't gotten the desk copies I ordered for them months ago are frantic, and have communicated such to me. This morning I had to be up early to go to the welcome breakfast over in the Medical School for the BTAEID program. Too, I had to drop a bunch of classes and pay for the remainder. Go to the pharmacy and pick up my meds. Talk to a think-tank head about an internship. Mail my rent and an Amazon Marketplace book order. Attend a lunch meeting on being a Teaching Assistant. Work 4.5 hours in the History Department. File my paperwork so as to be paid for last week's moonlighting downstairs. Meet with a representative of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, which offers a certificate program in teacher training at Georgetown (which would be really useful for future job-hunts). And process over a hundred donated books for the Alyosha fundraiser which the History Honor Society is planning for the second week in September. I got it all done. I didn't get home until 8:30, and that in a cab (I was hauling books, and it was drizzling--for safety and sanity's sake, not to mention the bare logistical challenges, I decided to spring $13 on personal transport), but I got it all done. So all that's left this evening is the further revision of a grant proposal...

Or maybe not. I'm seriously considering going to bed. Now.

Friday, August 25, 2006

An Ally

I finished my week working downstairs (Very Well-Paying temp job with another department), and came upstairs to talk to/help Prof. G-R with photocopying for the upcoming semester (classes start Wednesday). The CSCM, sporting a soul patch and smelling slightly of Marlboros, came to retrieve his bike and asked me if I'd heard about "the letter."

One of his roommates is Assemblies of God, and they got booted from Georgetown, too. He's been researching all week, ever since she told him what had happened (apparently her group leader also sent on a copy of the letter), trying to find out who and who isn't involved. The Mormons, the Buddhists, and (surprisingly) the Asian Baptists are unaffected. The powers that be have refused to talk to him, to explain what's going on.

When offering his help, strategy-wise, he told me, "This isn't my fight," but for an uninvolved person he's done quite a bit of groundwork, including collecting all the material he can on the issue and contacting a couple of national media outlets. He's supposed to email me details this evening.

You know, I felt better almost immediately, having talked to him--it's nice to have unexpected allies, particularly ones who have some experience in dealing with discrimination. We're both waiting to talk to my IV leader, to see what he's heard/done. I'm going to phone when I get home. The CSCM has both emailed and left a message on his cell, but hasn't yet heard back. We agreed that neither of us want to get in a public snit without having the full picture; it would be easy to come off looking like short-fused fools. Details to be posted as I find them out.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I just got the following letter from our local IV coordinator.

My Dear Georgetown Colleagues,

I confess I'm in a bit of shock as I write to you. I've just heard word this weekend that InterVarsity (and all para-church Protestant ministries) has/have been kicked off campus at Georgetown! Everyone is in a bit of a whirl, and I'm trying to get an appointment with [the campus ministries coordinator] to discuss this with her, but she's not responding.

There's so much I could say here but I think email is not the right venue. Our planning meeting is still on for this coming Saturday so hopefully I will have more information at that time, but I wanted to forward you this (rather cryptic) letter from Rev. [Name of woman Protestant Chaplain] first for your perusal. And for your PRAYER!!

It looks like any hope for InterVarsity to remain on campus will need to come from STUDENTS and not from me, since my hands are rather tied right now. And yet my suggestion is that no one does anything rash but that we pray and talk about the wisest course of action. I can talk by phone with you about more specifics if you'd like. I know that the InterVarsity Undergrad group and Chi Alpha group are in much conversation and prayer about all this as well.

I confess to being quite confused...but I also believe that God is good and that He is for, not against, us. I'm trusting that, somehow, something good will come out of all this.

[Reminder of time and location of a previously-scheduled beginning-of-the-semester planning meeting]

With Great Hope in a Great God,


The "rather cryptic" letter is reproduced below in its entirety, with no spelling or punctuation changes:

August 14, 2006

Dear Affiliated Ministries:

Blessings and may God's peace be upon you! We pray your summers have been restorative and affirming in life and ministry. The new academic year is already upon us, and we are thanking God for another year.

As we shared in conversation at the close of the Spring semester, we spent the 2005-2006 academic year evaluating many areas of Protestant Ministry's mission and outread at Georgetown University, including that of our Affiliated Ministries. After much laboring in prayers and conversations with ministerial leaders, Protestant Ministry has decided to move in another direction for the 2006-2007 academic year.

As a result of our new direction for the upcoming academic year, we have decided not to renew any covenant agreements with any of the Affiliated Ministries. This will become effective immediately. As any previous covenant agreements ended with the 2005-2006 academic year, your ministries will no longer be allowed to hold any activity or presence (i.e. bible studies, retreats with Georgetown students, Mid-week worship services, fellowship events, move-in assistance, SAC Fair, etc.) on campus. As well, there will be no Affiliated Ministry presence or participation at our annual Campus Ministry Open House held at the end of August.

Additionally, all websites linking your ministries to a presence at Georgetown University will need to be modified to reflect the terminated relationship. Your ministries are not to publicize in any literature, media, advertisement, etc. that Georgetown University is or will be an active ministry site for your ministry/church/denomination.

While we realize this comes as a great disappointment, please know we are moving forward with this decision only after much dialogue with the Lord. We have enjoyed working with your ministries in various capacities over the years and will always keep your ministry in our prayers.


Protestant Chaplain, Team Leader

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I got a tattoo yesterday. It was a 1 1/2" red heart with the word "Mom" in the middle, a ribbon around it, with a tiny flower on one side. You go out to party with a bunch of fortyish Presbyterians, and things tend to get a little crazy.

We were celebrating the retirement from the Navy of one of our friends, and some person had the idea (and wherewithal) to find a package of those stick-on tattoos, appropo for the evening since sailors are notorious for their inking. So we all snipped out and sponged on our chosen designs. As I was at the tail end of the line, I had a choice only of the heart or a blond bombshell.

Bea, who's only nine weeks old, had the same tattoo I did, on her little thigh--courtesy of her fond father. It was hilarious--she looked like a hatchling biker chick.

We cadre of tattooed Calvinists went out to a Potomac Nationals baseball game after the party (which I missed most of, because of getting stuck on the wrong side of a bad wreck on the beltway that transformed my 46-minute commute into an hour and 42 minutes. Thanks to this arduous journey I could really sympathize with my sister, who meanwhile was stuck with her husband and toddler in a plane on the Logan Airport tarmac, delayed for hours--whether due to wind, weather or alleged weapons of mass destruction I don't know). They lost. The team, I mean (my sister and family had to spend the night in Detroit, because they missed their connection, but that's another story). It was still a lot of fun--only the second baseball game I've ever been to. Tremendous fireworks afterwards. Made the Augusta, GA, Fourth of July display look shabby by comparison.

I took a shower when I got home. The tattoo stayed put. Yes, I did get clean!

I'm sure I wasn't the only one still decorated this morning--all the guys were at church wearing long sleeves. Bea and I wore our "Mom" hearts proudly, out in the open (her dad did have to explain the embellishment when he took her to the newborn nursery). I did get some funny looks at Sunday School, but what was most amusing to me was a stylish woman from my Bible Study, who didn't say anything at all at first--she thought it was real, and told me that she didn't think it was unusual that I should have a tattoo. Hah. I'm guess I'm not the stodgy hen I used to be!

This afternoon, I applied the bath squeegie and soap vigorously, and my arm was again flesh-toned. But it does make me wonder...where can you get those temp tattoos? I could wear a different one in a different place every day! Kind of like those 18th-century beauty spots...

Friday, August 18, 2006


Congratulations to my parents on reaching their 58th birthday relatively unscathed. I imagine they celebrated by buyinh Publix sushi and then going to bed early.

Congratulations to one of my favorite men in the whole wide world, who as of today is a qualified nu-Q-ler officer. I hope he doesn't party too hard tonight!

Today has been a good day for me, too. Nothing spectacular as a birthday or naval glory--just got a fair bit done, which always leaves a sense of satisfaction, and the weather was lovely. Now if I can just make some serious money at the market tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Culinary Query

Is the only difference between “jerk chicken” and “pulled chicken” the violence with which it was prepared? Is there a dining continuum running from “cruelly yanked chicken” (at greasy dives) to “gently stretched chicken” (at Michelin-rated restaurants)? Inquiring mind wants to know!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two Degrees of Separation

Hollywood and the halls of power in the US government and at the UN--I'm only two steps removed from these, according to the "degrees of separation" social networks model. And two may be entirely too close!

For example, my roommate Nate has left the NIH to return to his old job at a local veterinary clinic. The clinic regularly treats at least one senior US government official's pet. This dog came into the clinic the other day with what James Herriot readers will recall as Tricki Woo's "flop-bot" symptoms (an impaction of the anal glands, requiring pressure to evacuate). "Just think," Nate told me jovially, "Today I could have had my hand up the butt of ___'s dog!" "So near to fame, and yet so far," I responded.

My Arlington market colleague and friend Ann, who is herself a government official, used to work for Michael Bolton--not the singer, the American ambassador to the UN. "He's an ass--," she said yesterday. "Every negative thing they said about him is true." And she's a Republican.

I found out yesterday (during a singularly beautiful but unlucrative day at the market) that Ann's brother-in-law plays a recurring minor character on the long-running soap opera Days of Our Lives. He was also a blip on the screen in the box office bomb Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. On off days, he works as a substitute teacher to make ends meet. There's the glamorous life of an actor for you!

So, there are some of my high-flying connections. Explains why networking doesn't work so well for me, doesn't it? I'd be interested to hear what are some of my readers' semi-infamous near associates!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Solo Femininity

Thanks to Andrea for re-introducing me to the superb Solo Femininity blog, authored by Carolyn McCulley for the Godward encouragement of single women and others. Her August 7 post, "I Can't Go On Any Longer" addresses a letter that she received from another Christian woman who voices exactly the feelings that I have had occasionally over the last couple of years. Her response to this cry is well worth absorbing, as are each and every one of the comments her readers have left--all thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Invisible Signs

I was wearing an invisible sign today. It read: "Ask me for directions!" In the early afternoon, while I was on my way to the bus that would take me to the Georgetown Law Center, I was asked for directions three times. Once on Capitol Hill, walking to the Library of Congress, tourists asked me for directions. Back at Georgetown, I was again asked for directions. At least in every case I knew the right answer, which is more odd, really, than having been expected to know it so frequently. I was wearing a knee-length tangerine kameez over khaki pants, so I can't for the life of me explain why I looked like I had common sense at all.

But there you have it.

I must also have been wearing signs that told the CSCM to ignore me, and the nebbish Government Department secretary (a guy, but a bloodless one) to hit on me. I don't know which, if either, is preferrable.

Oh, and here is a visible sign (I would put lights around it, but I'm not savvy with HTML): HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DEAR LITTLE SISTER!!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Shocking a Jesuit

Nathan Bennett is a quiet, thoughtful man in his mid-thirties. He is always neatly attired, and his office is a marvel of order. He is a member of the Society of Jesus, a Reverend Father despite his youth, but as credit to his intellectual and spiritual experience. Professor Guisel-Richardson's office is just around the corner from his.

Prof. G-R, as she is affectionately known, and frequently signs herself in emails, is the motherly faculty sponsor of the Georgetown chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society. PAT has been the organizational mechanism I have used to arrange a couple of interesting fundraisers over the last couple of years, the latest being a benefit book sale for a fellow history graduate student who was almost beaten to death last September as he walked to his home a few blocks off campus. Alyosha is still in a wheelchair, but hopes to return to Georgetown this spring.

We were just going to have the one book sale last spring. It ended up raising over $600 to offset his medical bills. But so many books were left over, and people kept bringing in more. So I decided we'd have another sale in mid-September. Prof. G-R left for the summer, and I started stacking boxes of books in her already-crowded office.

More and more arrived. And I boxed and stacked them, higher and higher, rank on rank. Hundreds and hundreds of books.

When I filled the latest boxful this morning, I loaded it onto the department's handtruck and wheeled it to G-R's office door. I knocked on Prof. Bennett's, and asked him if I could borrow him for a few minutes, to pick up the box, as I didn't want to throw out my back. I opened the door to his neighbor's office, and he stood transfixed, box in his arms, stunned by the Himalayan range of boxes.

"Oh my God," he breathed.

If the sight moves Jesuits to profanity, it's going to give Prof. Guisel-Richardson a heart attack when she comes back from vacation. She doesn't know about the books. Not a tenth of them. She may have forgotten about the proposed book sale entirely. And I'm supposed to be her TA this coming semester...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Never So Happy see ninety degrees in my life. It was positively cool outside today, compared to the last week of scorching humidity. Had another poor showing, revenue-wise, at the market today, but being in the sunshine was a pleasure.

At Georgetown on Friday, I saw a well-dressed young man rooting through one of the quadrangle garbage cans. At first, I thought he might have accidently tossed his cell phone, or was having a fit of retreiving recyclables from the regular trash, but he was pulling out banana peels and old used drinks containers. People on benches around the quad were staring at him, silently. Inside, I spotted a similarly preppy young lady carrying another banana skin and rotten mess in her hand, and so when I saw a third girl take the cover off a garbage receptical near the stairs, I broke down and asked what was going on.

They were part of some leadership group that's meeting on campus this summer, and one of their assignments was to find the grossest thing they could, she said. Ah. Too bad the organizers of this peculiar activity hadn't supplied the participants with latex gloves. Dumpster-diving is hardly a germ-free task, and I definitely wouldn't want to do it bare-handed. Ick.