Monday, April 10, 2017

Table for One

Last week, Jon, Ian, and Seamus went on an all-boys trip to Colorado; staying in Boulder as a base and hiking in the mountains every day. Meanwhile the girls went up to Buffalo to visit family and see a comedian they really like. (Joe Rogan.) So I was the only Bartels in Virginia for the week.

I won't bore you with the details of my cleaning spree - although I did empty, clean, and paint this little cupboard in my kitchen. I got the inspiration from bruktogblandet - a Swedish instagram account that I follow.  I just used leftover paint that I already had on hand. I follow so many home-focused Swedish instagram accounts, I'm starting to feel like I should learn Swedish.

Hasn't been painted in sixteen years

After - also freshly painted white on the inside

The Inspiration:
I was without a car for the week, which was fine, although my commute to and from work was a long three mile walk each way. (Usually, I drive partway there and walk the last mile.) Since my bike accident last year, I can't face cycling. One day I was lazy and took an uber to get home. I also took Thursday and Friday off from work, so I could have a little spring break too.

I spent my evenings watching Suffragette. It has a great cast, with some of my favorites like Helena Bonham-Carter, Meryl Streep, Anne Marie Duff, Romola Garai, and Carey Mulligan. I encourage you to watch it too, although it's an uncomfortable film and it will make you very angry and determined to smash the patriarchy for good. In light of Trump and the things he says, and the way a bunch of old white men sit around deciding women's health care, men's attitudes to women haven't changed at all since 1910.

One major bummer - I'd booked an appointment for a hair cut and highlights on Friday. I waited nearly two months for this appointment and my hair looks awful, so I was really looking forward to it. When I arrived, my stylist wasn't there and the other people working there told me he was on vacation on Puerto Rico. Honestly, it's pretty shitty to book a vacation and not take care to check your schedule and notify your clients. I walked home, fuming, and called him and left a voicemail about the mixup. I wasn't rude, and even gave him an out, suggesting that the scheduling website that he uses had something wrong with it. He texted me to apologize and told me to let him know if I had trouble scheduling another appointment. Oh, so I'm supposed to again go through the scheduling site that you apparently ignore and "let you know" if I have difficulty?  This is a guy who insists on a full 24-hours notice if you want to cancel your appointment with him and not get charged. So I'm in the market for a new hair stylist.

I know it's small and petty to be upset about a thing like that, in the context of people being killed in chemical attacks in Syria. My head has not been in a good place lately. OF COURSE, as soon as I write a post about how citalopram and a sun lamp cured my depression, I find myself depressed again. I don't want to increase my meds, so I'm going to hold out hope that I'll feel better once terrible April is over. At least I'm not quite as bad as I was last year.

The walk to the hairdresser wasn't a total waste of time because I hung up this yarn bomb on the way there. This is the "downtown" section of my neighborhood, full of restaurants and busy with tourists and locals every evening, so  lot of people will see it.

I also hung this one on my walk to work one day

I didn't want to end the day (my last day of solitude as the boys were on their way home) on a sour note, so I took myself out to dinner, to Mas, our favorite restaurant in Cville. This is a very popular, busy, and fashionable restaurant  In my depressed state, it was difficult to do this, but I also didn't want to sit at home and wallow in misery. (Maybe the citalopram is still working after all. The pre-citalopram me would have done exactly that.)

My slattern hair and I walked boldly into the restaurant and found a spot at the bar. By the time I'd drunk a quarter of my margarita, I started to feel better and had a lovely dinner of two tapas dishes: the pork empanada that is always sold out when Jon and I come here for dinner (I ate early, so it was still available) and one of my favorite dishes in all of Charlottesville: the brioche slice, sizzling in a tiny cast iron skillet and covered with manchego cheese and lovely vanilla-perfumed apricot jam. I was lucky because it's not on the menu every night, and even when we do order it, I have to share it and only get a couple of bites. It was nice having the whole thing to myself.

Yummy yummy brioche

I did feel like an oddity though, a woman alone at dinner. I have no trouble eating lunch or breakfast alone, or even dinner alone when I'm traveling, but I feel really conspicuous and out of place in a local restaurant. Like, I have no business taking up a bar stool or wasting a server's time when I'm alone. Do you feel that way, or can you take yourself out to dinner with ease?


  1. I feel as if it's probably easier to not feel conspicuous when eating alone these days when everyone is constantly staring at their phone in public.

    This spring is as depressing as all the others as I am surrounded by industrious people loudly enjoying the nice weather.

    1. It's super-annoying when everyone is bragging about feeling glorious, and you feel awful. Ugh.

  2. I feel like an oddity when I go out to eat dinner solo in town - last year, when my family was gone for spring break, I decided I would give into that beer & burger craving, so I went up to Kardinal Hall. The place was full of UVa kids, so I felt like a frumpy old maid. All of which reminds me, we need drinks soon.

    That's bs on the hairdresser. I'm sending you the contact info for both mine as well as another hairdressing friend who is fabulous.

  3. YOU ARE WONDERFUL with your knitting and your bombing. I think the bar of a restaurant is a big help for a person eating alone. Man or woman, it doesn't feel so awk. Mas is one of my favorites too. The bacon wrapped dates....

  4. I agree that you need a new hairdresser, and good for you taking yourself out to eat! It's a huge step to do that instead of staying home (writes the woman who would stay home). Your yarnbombing makes me smile.
    I'm pretty sure margaritas are an antidepressant. Would it be wrong to have one daily?

    1. I wish! I once told my husband that it would be really nice if alcohol came in pill form and he said, "It does. It's called Xanax."

  5. I love your yarn bombs, your renewed closet, and the brioche. I probably would not be able to drag myself out to eat, but now that I have read about your experience, it sounds very appealing, especially the part where you get to eat all the brioche yourself.

    I am wondering how you get your yarn bombs to stick to the telephone pole.

    1. At first, I was attaching my yarn bombs either with yarn ties or thumbtacks, but neither of those is very stable. I bought a staple gun (for use only on telephone polls, not trees) and it works really well.

  6. I admire how you spent your solo week. And bad hair is vexing enough, getting caught without your appointment would piss me off, too. I feel you on that one.
    That does seem like a great finish, the solo dinner and drink.
    Oh! That fun Swedish site! The colors and quaintness--but I have no idea what any of those words mean.

  7. Brugtogblandet is actually Norwegian:) I'd say their style often is cosier and a bit more rustic than their Swedish peers:)