Environs

Former firehouse now home to lesbian, cats and Paraguayan memories

by Will Doig
Published on May 8, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

The D.C.F.D.'s Firehouse #9 was built in 1865. Following its condo conversion in the mid twentieth century, it was bought by the U.S. military and, rumor has it, used as a way station for money laundering during the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. Jane Troxell, a manager at Lambda Rising, now lives there with her two cats.

JANE [in living room]: I went to Paraguay for two years with the Peace Corps. I sold everything -- the Saab, the house, the motorcycle, the business. I used to own Lammas [Women's Books & More] and now the Log Cabin Republicans are in that space. You have to roll with the ironies, I guess. So my decorating style now could be called "traditional regrouping." I'm regrouping in life.

The Peace Corps is not a high paying job. I had almost nothing left and had to start from scratch, basically relying on the generosity of acquaintances, friends, nature, the universe. In the beginning, I had all this furniture in a circle, and all of the Peace Corps Paraguay parties were here. We could all just bounce off of each other. But now, well, the room is linear. Parallel, actually. Before, social life had been coming in a circle, and then suddenly it was just parallel lives, crossing but never meeting. Now this entertainment center has become the focal point of the room. I don't watch much TV, so I use it to display my collection of Peruvian religious artifacts and Paraguayan erotic statues. This one is a lovely virgin from Paraguay. And these two figures were done by the indigenous people there. Here's the man and here's the woman. He's got a drum, a sword, a little bow and arrow, a bowl of water and all of these feathers. What does she have. A bundle of twigs on her head. She's carrying the firewood while he gets all the accessories. That pretty much crystallizes the experience down there in Paraguay.

[On deck] I had a bad relationship with food while I was there, and my kitchen is so uninspiring. It's small, there's no natural light. It's not a good kitchen if you want to get enthusiastic about food preparation. What I'd actually like to do is prepare food out here. There's no water, but there's a grill that I use when it's warm out.

I became vegetarian when Reagan was elected because I just felt like I had to do something. I was vegetarian for fifteen years before Paraguay. The food there was all white and bland. White rice, white pasta. Everything white. I gained twenty pounds, then got sick and lost it all. Eventually I got so hungry that I just had to eat something, so I developed this addiction to rotisserie chicken. I was living in the capital at the time, so I had access to it. It really changed my life, and I've been eating meat ever since.

[In bedroom] Last year that deck was gorgeous, just full of plants. This is the only room in the house where I can have plants inside, because of the light. People give me plants that they can't keep anymore. My friend's mother died and so I took her corn plant. It was three inches then. Now it's a foot. Her legacy grows on in vibrant green. I like having unruly plants. I appreciate unruly behavior in all beings, floral and otherwise.

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