The Alphabet Julen: B


We weren't a big balloon family when I was a kid, but now that I'm approaching middle age, helium-filled mylar balloons have become where it's at when it comes to celebrations. We like the tiger heads and the sunflowers, adorable animals, and the iconography of our childhood. They must be mylar -- latex ballons come paired with disappointment the next day when the balloon is on the floor.

Bankhead, Tallulah

Ho. Ly. Cow. You have to admire someone so committed to being hell on wheels. She really went for it. Sometimes, when I see her in things like Lifeboat, I wonder if she would have been different if she hadn't gotten so addicted to rebelling so young. Some people debate what the world would be like if Germany had won World War I; I like to imagine what would have happened if Tallulah hadn't grown up as the spoiled restricted daughter of a powerful southern politician. Love her.


I will take my shoes off at the drop of a hat. I think better barefoot. I work better barefoot. This is fine when I am sitting at a desk for 10 hours a day; not so much when I'm cutting lots of small pieces of glass and breaking china. Here's a free tip: if you've gotten a shard of glass in your hands or feet, one of those small air cans used for cleaning keyboards works well to pop out and free most of those shards.


I love college basketball. March really is the happiest time of the year; I'm a decent prognosticator, but sometimes let my heart override my gut that in turn overrides my head. I tend to come in second (or fifth) in my March Madness pools, with 1998 being the glorious exception. Beginning when I was still a small girl, my father would bundle me up and take me to the late great U Hall for Virginia Men's basketball games. I saw both the Ralph Sampson era and the Dawn Staley era. I lived through the ups and the downs, the cardiac eras both good and bad, and I couldn't be more thrilled with where both UVa programs are right now. (Shut it, members of the overly rabid section of the online fanbase!)

I wish my father had lived to see the UVA Men win it all - he was a big believer in and fan of CTB, and that 2019 magical national championship season was wonderful to experience. I fully expect the women's team to reach that promised land as well - the magic and excitement Coach Mox has brought to a program rising from the ashes has been wonderful. it is a true joy to watch those women excel and grow.

For the record: As a fan, I would take U Hall over JPJ any day of the week.

Battery Park City

I lived in Battery Park for six months in 1999, from the winter through the spring; I lived opposite a little grocery store, and could walk to work every day. It was beautifully landscaped, and as spring went on, I had a small steady stream of visitors: I took my mom to see Ragtime, and Ellis Island (absolutely worth a visit); Cathleen came up to see the fundraiser for our company's AIDS ride team; Meg wanted to go to the Cloisters, and who am I to pass up a chance to see my favorite artistic depiction of St. Barbara?

Battery Park is nestled in the crook of the Financial district, which was still basically deserted on weekends (despite a small steady increase in residential areas). On a Sunday morning, I'd cruise down and mingle with the neighborhood brunching, jogging, skating, enjoying the sun, and walk around the curve of the land to the Park, where tourists would be lined up, buying tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and cut up to Broadway, past the Old Customs House and the branch of the National Museum of the American Indian (a lovely small museum), and over to Broad Street and our offices. I have mixed feelings about New York (Reason #4 why I'd never be a true New Yorker), but I'm very fond of my Battery Park memories.


Julia on Julia. There have been almost as many updates to the biography as to the site design. The amount of insight to be gleaned varies from none at all to a smidge past a bit. I've read enough autobiographies to know that I haven't lied, implied, or fudged events enough to make them exciting. One day I will make this biography worthy of the greatest autobiography ever written: Zsa Zsa Gabor's One Lifetime is Not Enough. Seriously! She kicks it off by claiming she lost her virginity to Atatürk!


When I worked in RTP, the Mac sat in a room with bigh bold windows, and in the fall, the geese would stop over in the deep puddles in the grass, and dance while foraging for food and splashing around. In the grey rain, their dusky white and slate-colored feathers would shimmer. It was a lovely distraxtion There's something beautiful about birds, whether it be the subdued pink of a galah bird, or the bright blue jay leaping across the snow. There was a heron who come to visit the fishpond behind my suburban townhouse, a different pair who stopped by the pond outside my childhood home several years later. These days, cardinals, blue jays, doves, and woodpeckers stop by to beat the local squirrels to the bird food. In the late 1990s, one of the Audubon chapters reprinted an old blog post of mine, A Confluence of Birds.

Blues Brothers

"This mall has everything!"
I can quote the movie practically straight through.
"We've got both kinds - Country AND Western!"
Any situation can be met with a quote from this movie.
"Our lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail us now."

This is a highly underrated road trip movie. I will debate you on this point all the live long day.

Boat Tours

These are my new favorite roadtrip sidetrip; whether it is tracing Dillinger's Escape from Little Bohemia, touring cool rock formations in the middle of a Great Lake, or seeing shipwrecks through a glass bottom, I've gotten to love the modern boat tour. The captain of the boat going to Blennerhesset (aka Traitor) Island was a font of information. Next up, Ohio River Boat Tours.


Everyone called him the Boogie Man. That's how they described him - that mythical villain who lurked at night (and the mid-afternoon, when one was supposed to be napping) to scare small children. My own encounter with the Bogeyman came in the seventies. Sadly he was no Boogie Man and did not get down, but his spectre scared me into sleeping in the exact middle of the bed for a decade. (Eventually I got over it when I started sharing my bed with library books, and started sleeping closer to the edge of the bed.)


The game of choice among my family (the younger set prefers 12-and-counting). A person is it, and announces they are a famous person whose name begins with a letter. The others ask questions trying to pinpoint the identity of "it" while the person has to respond that they are not a famous person who matches the criteria and the letter declared. "Are you a famous Italian Renaissance Painter?" "No, I am not Botticelli." "Do you date a hunk of plastic?" "No, I'm not Barbie." If they stump you, they get to ask a yes/no question (Are you female?, for instance). I had my brother going for 3 hours with Barney the Dinosaur. "Are you white?" he asked me. "Black? Asian? Latino? Arabic?" Hee. Hee. Hee. He was so mad!


Words I Like

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