Monday, December 25, 2006

Twilight zone

Texas really does feel like the twilight zone sometimes. Some gems...

(1) Not only does the town feel it needs TWO super Wal-Marts, but it seems to think it's a good idea to build the second one right NEXT to the old Wal-Mart that has just closed. Heaven forbid they at least reuse the old building.

(2) My family is so supportive of all of my endeavors, they insist on coming along with me in my tagging efforts...even after I explain to my grandmother that it's hard to be covert or plan a quick getaway pushing an old woman in a wheelchair.

(3) Somehow, half of the town has decided it is no longer dry. Now you'll find the latest in Vegas-designed liquor stores taking up residence on the good side of town. Evidently, the other side of town wasn't even allowed to vote. Huh?

(4) They built a new arena for calf roping and made sure the big stadium got astroturf. Too bad they couldn't inject some money into the town's infrastructure, since half the city had no access to water this past week.

(5) I've discovered why I'm comfortable in all neighborhoods, particularly those that others deem "bad". I grew up in the country ghetto. No bones about it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Deep fried

Well, I'm home again and blogging from the Lonestar state. These past two days have been trying in terms of traveling, but seriously, I expect nothing less. My flight on American was oversold yesterday morning (no shocker there), so I gave up my seat for a $400 travel voucher and the promise I would make it to San Angelo last night. This meant that I trolled the terminals of BWI from 8:00 am until my new flight departed at 3:20 pm. It meant that, instead of catching early morning zzzs on a plane, I found a quiet corner of the floor and turned my laptop bag into a pillow.

13 hours later I finally touched down in San Angelo, TX. It's amazing how quickly you remember you never fit in in a certain place and never will. I never felt right for this town and still don't. It's funny how old habits do kick in though. Waiting in line* for the puddle jumper to San Angelo, everyone was friendly again and talking to each other. We were all up in eachother's business trying to figure out why each was headed to this desolate town. Maybe we all just bonded because we were a band of refugees being forced to return to the scene of the crime.

This morning we** headed out to pick up my brother for the Austin. For all of you nonTexans, this jaunt was roughly 8 hours roundtrip, not helped by the fact that my mom prides herself on driving 5 miles UNDER the speed limit. Gotta love her.

Tomorrow is a new day with different Texas experiences. I'll be glad to be in one place and travelling.

*Also overheard while waiting was a story that (I swear) involved the phrase, "when grandma killed the pig."
**Mom, Grandma, Me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Perpetual Motion

Even before I start typing this bloody posts I anticipate the collective groans from anyone who bothers to read it. Yes, I took the train today. Yes, I'm going to write about the fucking journey.

Really, you all should just blame this on the fact that I'm a research geek. I feel the need to explain myself so just leave me alone. As I mentioned in my previous post, I started thumbing through a friend's copy of Symbols of Judaism when I decided to photograph the Jewish cemetery. The geek in me keeps reading because I dig learning new things. Enlightenment came when I stumbled across the mezuzah. Evidently the mezuzah represents the idea of "setting into motion". The book goes on to talk about the process of traveling and the way is everything. We are closer to what we seek when we are on our way there, blah, blah. Yes! I'm not crazy in my pursuit of the journey. It validates a nomadic existence. I couldn't stop thinking about this today as I sat on the train. Thinking about the philosophy behind travel and how it allows growth, etc. Anyway, this is so rambling and random. Maybe I'm just sitting here trying to justify the gypsy lifestyle I want to lead...well, gypsy with a home base.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Special K

I was tagged by Amanda and feel obliged to respond* since it's book-related.

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people.

"I set the hook. But as the rod bends hard, I know before I see it that this is no chub: this is one of Paul's Lahontan pets. It's not a leaping fish, but makes several strong runs."

The excerpt is from a book entitled My Story As Told By Water by David James Duncan. I wanted to cheat and use something that is likely on my bookshelf at home. Hell, wanted to cheat and use a different line from what is a beautiful book. You see, I'm at work and surrounded by only the geekiest titles. I could have also chosen to excerpt something from The Eternal Frontier by Tim Flannery, The Environmental Dictionary by Kemp, Trout, Trout, Trout: A Fish Chant by Sayre (children's book), or Trout and Salmon of North America by Tomelleri. Even my bag has a less than salacious reading selection. I've got the latest copy of Bust magazine, the Lonely Planet guide to San Francisco, and a research book entitled Symbols of Judaism**. Blog worthy? Doubtful.

That said, ignore the excerpt listed above and pick up a novel or My Story As Told By Water by David James Duncan. The man is truly a visionary and poet. Never before has the writing of anyone actually made me want to fish like his words do. Despite the titles on my desk, I don't even like fish. Duncan makes it a religious experience.

"I saw that, at a certain time of year, the rhythm of the river becomes impossible for these creatures to resist; that the mere act of swimming, mere caress of cold water, becomes a long slow copulation; that their entire upstream journey is an arduous act of sex. The dip in the gravel, nest of eggs, spraying of milt, was just the culmination of that weeks-long act. I looked again at the mountains veeing down toward the water. The gravel beneath us was made of fragments of those mountains, the current flowing past made of their melted snow. The brown trout I held was making love to the mountains and snow."

*I also only respond to tags from special people because most of you know how anti-meme I am.
**From my visit to the Jewish cemetary.

(photo by Dan)

Go look at Dan's photos. Maybe I'll blog about something interesting later.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It was an uneventful weekend with not much to add. I spent a lot of time trying to edit a proposal and instead wound up staring at the computer screen. I can definitely sense myself mentally preparing to be back in Texas. Two years. That's how long it's been since I've gone back. I miss my family terribly and am excited to see them again. I'm also a little afraid. Being back in San Angelo means acknowledging that everyone is getting older, that family will look more frail. I also start to wonder about who I may run into...old faces I might see. Many faces I don't want to see. The sentimental part of me has been mulling over getting together for lunch with a couple of old friends. One lunch to catch up...make myself feel better for not having settled. Another lunch to put the final nail in a coffin that should have sealed years ago. I'm honestly not sure this is a good idea, and the rational side of me realizes that my time in SA is so brief that I need to focus. Luckily, Scarlet has tasked me with capturing my hometown on film, so that gives me a focus (in addition to family) and will keep me away from dangerous lunches.

Let the countdown begin...11 days!

Monday, December 04, 2006


I'm a curious girl with a fascination for other cultures and finding out what makes people tick...even geeky enough to love research. That said, my curiousity was piqued a few weeks ago when a friend told me I could never be buried in a Jewish cemetery because of my tattoos. So, following up on last week's visit to a cemetery in Fairfax, I decided to visit two old Jewish cemeteries in Alexandria.

The Agudas Achim Cemetery was down a dirt path that was lined with trees, their canopy forming an arch. I was very aware* of the nature surrounding me as I made my way into the cemetery. A squirrel stalked my progression by running alongside me through the trees, and I would swear a beaver ran by once I entered the cemetery. Immediately, I was struck by the simplicity and uniformity of the headstones as compared to more ostentacious ones in different cemeteries. The stones piled on the markers took me back to my time in Germany, and while a quick google search turned up several different explanations for the symbolism of placing stones, I believe it a truly beautiful practice whatever the reasoning.

About 100 yards down the road is the Home of Peace Cemetery, thought to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Alexandria. Home of Peace gave me new thoughts to mull over and questions to research. There was an overwhelming sense of family and connectedness present in this cemetery. Family plots were typically demarcated with a low brick perimeter and a large family headstone or obelisk. Smaller markers were within the plot for each family member. I know being buried next to your loved ones is fairly common, but the manor in which it was done at Home of Peace seemed especially binding**. While google didn't shed a lot of light into this particular style of burial, I did learn quite a bit about bereavement in Judaism in the process.

*I also start thinking a lot about zombies when in a cemetery. Weird...yes.
**I can't think of the word I really mean to use here. The use of binding in this context is meant to infer being bound together by a common thread.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

An obsession?

It occured to me this morning that this is the second time this month a certain group of ladies has embarked on a road trip with tater tots being the end goal. Disturbing? A little. I've got a theory though (go figure).

This weekend we decided that Wednesday night would be the night to verify the rumor that a Sonic Drive-In had indeed been built in Fredericksburg. So, piling into Scarlet's rental post-rush hour traffic, we beat a hasty path down I-95. It took us 45 minutes to get there and only about 15-20 minutes to order and eat. Again, the odds sound a little loony. I bet you find yourself wondering if cheesy tater tots and cherry limeade (don't forget the use of rollerblades in order delivery) are worth it.

Well, I contend it's not really about the tater tots. It's about the trip...the journey* and comraderie. It's about playing the right music and the sex** game. It's detouring to avoid a police incident*** and choosing to get back on the main highway right before you actually get to said incident. The tater tots are really just an added bonus at the end.

*Sorry about the fact that I don't ever shut up about the journey.
**Don't go too far into the gutter, people. It's just a word game where you have to choose which of the two choices given you'd sleep with if you had to. It passes the time. What's funny is that we all chose the same two guys for a threesome...again, if we had to.
***Does anybody know what the hell was going on I-95 last night? What were all of those cops looking for? I'm thinking body or fugitive.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is there such a thing as good grief?

Tomorrow morning I'm going my third funeral. I don't know if three is considered high when it comes to funerals, but I feel lucky to have only experienced three. When looking back at my funeral history, I wonder if it's telling to compare the funerals I chose to attend versus those I didn't go to.

The first funeral I could ever bring myself to attend was for Casey Wheeless my senior year in high school. Casey was the first boy I ever kissed and the only boy that a girl has wanted to kick my ass over. I still remember the sobs, his mother and the closed casket.

Years passed and my next memorial service was for the daughter of a colleague at the PR firm where I worked. She was three and ran out into the street. The service was held in a tent at her favorite playground. It was the first snow of the season that day, and I couldn't stop sobbing.

Number three is tomorrow.

I did not attend my father's funeral when I was 12. It was hard enough for my mom to get me to go to the hospital to say a final goodbye. Stubborn...that's me. I also didn't attend the funeral for my great grandmother. I think with her I was spared because I was so young.

At first glance, I'm sure you could argue that I'm uncomfortable dealing with the death of those I love (as opposed to friends and acquaintances I have cared deeply for). However, I would counter that with the fact that I was not super close to my great grandmother and had been estranged from my father. Or, you could also argue that I have had time to mature and learn to deal with death. All I know is that I hope my dealings with it continue to be limited.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Blessing that wear costumes

I went to bed the night before Thanksgiving feeling less than thankful. I had sat and stared at the computer for a good two hours willing a pleasant thought to make its way through my fingers poised over the keyboard. You know the old adage about if you can't say something nice...well, I went to bed without saying anything at all.

I'm guessing the cats I'm pet sitting for thought I could use a little extra love that night, a reason to be thankful. I awoke to discover one sharing my pillow with me and the other sleeping partially on my legs. Either they sensed I needed a little closeness, some family or thought that if they suffocated me that I'd at least stop that damned moaning in my sleep.

Thankfulness did indeed come on Thanksgiving day as I was surrounded by friends old and new. As much as I am loathe to admit it sometimes, I need people in my life. They make me stronger, push me to new limits. I'm thankful for the love of friends and family and for just not giving up.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Church of Rehoboth

Yesterday morning I stood on Rehoboth Beach listening to the waves crash into shore. I stood, waiting as the sky slowly lightened and a beautiful sunrise played hide and seek among the clouds. I breathed deeply and realized again how thankful I was that I was alive and able to experience mornings like that. Thankful that I could see the various colors a sunrise creates and that I could hear the waves. Snapping photo after photo, I smiled at the few others who eventually made their way down to the sand. I was surprised that melancholy had left me, since it was what drove me to the beach and the sunrise in the first place. Instead, I once again was basking in the simple pleasure of being.

Every now and then I get these fantastical ideas in my head and can't be stopped. Part of the problem lies in the fact that I spent a decent chunk of time on both Friday and Saturday driving back and forth between Virginia, BWI and West Virginia and had only my thoughts to keep me company...a dangerous thing for a girl with fantastical ideas. My mood became melancholy and increasingly contemplative the more I drove. I finally determined that truly the only thing that would make me happy at that moment would be to be on the beach watching the sun rise. I needed the journey enough that it made perfect sense for me to get back in the car at midnight (after an 8-hour bookstore shift after the West Virginia travel) and drive four hours to the beach only to watch the sunrise and contemplate life.

As you can see above, the additional 8-hour drive and full 40 hours without sleep was absolutely worth it. I was right. Standing on a beach and watching the sunrise was exactly what I needed. Being alone with myself in the car with nothing but a mix cd* for inspiration was exactly what I needed.

*Allie proved again how well she knows what's going on in my head by making the perfect cd for my roadtrip.

Love and Mathematics by Broken Social Scene
Out of Love by Aberfeldy
Paperweight by Josh Radi & Schulyer Fisk
El Salvador by Athlete
If You Find Yourself Caught in Love by Belle & Sebastian
I See Spiders When I Close My Eyes by Boy Least Likely To
I'll Never Fall in Love Again by Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach
Paper Bag by Fiona Apple
Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner
Impossible by David Figurine
The Last Time by Gnarls Barkley
Fly Me Away by Goldfrapp
Golddigger by Kanye West/Jamie Foxx
Steam Machine by Daft Punk
Across the Universe by Rufus Wainwright
SuperSexyWoman by Sufjan Stevens
Dance Me In by Sons & Daughters

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lunchtime shenanigans

Lunch time is always such a chore for me because it usually means I'm left (on my own) to decide where to eat lunch. Honestly, I usually decide it's not worth the effort and choose not to consume anything other than Diet Coke. Hunger and the desire for fresh air drove me out of the office this afternoon and into the door of a Greek restaurant. God must have decided I needed a little pick-me-up because I swear the clouds parted and harps were playing as my breath left me. You know those guys, right? The ones that take your breath away simply by being in their presence? Roughly 6'5" with dark hair...dark eyes...dark everything. He was beefy, manly, and even a little hairy*. As he handed me back my change, my lips refused to even form the words thank you. Yes, I was struck dumb. I think my eyes had even glossed over.

As I stumbled back out into the sunlight and started breathing again, I was able to make one decision. I'm definitely going Greek more often at lunch.

*Not typically my style.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A man who knew how to take his whiskey

A kind and brilliant man died this weekend, and all I can do is stare in shock at my computer, continually amazed at the stealth at which death can be known to operate. We weren't related; I wouldn't even really call us friends. He was the chair of our Board of Directors and by far my favorite. He was the first board member I ever met and spent a good 30 minutes talking to this naive 25 year old who then knew little about rivers. Over the years, he always made this shy girl feel like her opinion mattered and was always quick with a smile and a joke. He also refused to shy away from asking the tough questions and demanded we give them their due. I feel lucky to have just seen his warm, friendly face last week.

I hear you left this world on a river...just know you left it a better place. We'll miss you, Tony.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The episode where they drove all the way to Richmond

Who drives an hour and a half for sushi? Evidently we do. The girls piled into two cars last night sans boys* and hit I-95 hard, like Bobby hit Whitney. Despite potential roadblocks***, we had a table and buckets of tots in front of us by 9:30. Yes, I said the sushi restaurant. You may laugh, scoff even, but tater tots with tot sauce do make for the perfect appetizer on a sushi-filled evening. The sushi menu always presents a problem because there are just so many things to try. You find yourself wondering if you should even bother with the California roll or tuna roll even though you really like them. Last night my sushi partner and I went for the hot hippy, goochland, garden of eden, and unagi. It was my first go at unagi, and I'll admit to being afraid. It was much bigger than I anticipated, and I sat there worrying if I'd have to choke it down. I got a kick out of Allie telling herself she was practicing for the Amazing Race. Obviously, she missed what they had to eat in last week's episode, or she would have known there was no comparison. Luckily, no choking occurred as I discovered that I actually liked unagi. *whew*

*Despite our better efforts, they** flaked.
**Well, one flaked. The other had to work.
***Does parallel parking count as a roadblock?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happiness is bullshit

I was perusing the weekend section of the Guardian and came across this gem. Fairly poignant.

"Happiness is bullshit. The whole concept is. Asking what happiness is is a question of the order of asking what is the secret of the universe. It implies someone is either happy or unhappy, denying the reality that almost all of us live with a mixture of the two. Happiness means different things to different people: floating your boat if you can, avoidance of pain, replacing fear and desire with indifference, paying the mortgage or rent. For me it is the feeling that I am winning the battle to remain as alive as possible."


Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm no Robin

Unlike most of the modern world, I can't be bothered to blog about the recent election results or what it's going to mean in the coming years. Honestly, I'm afraid I'm battling a bad case of cynicism and loss of hope that any true change will occur inside government.

So, what's on my mind? Sidekicks. Do you ever notice that a lot of the relationships we build do indeed break down into the leader/superhero role and the sidekick role? Political candidates have their running mates, usually a lesser known that few people really care about. What about housewifes/househusbands? Couldn't they be viewed as the sidekick of the more dominant partner? Even friendships form around this dynamic. Really what sparked this whole thought process was watching the interaction among two friends. Tall, blonde girl walks purposefully and is clearly directing the course of the shopping trip, as well as that of the friendship. The shorter girl is left trailing after her. I very much got the impression I was watching a live action version of the cartoon in which the sidekick bounds around the lead muttering, "which way did they go, George? Which way did they go?"

I suppose I'm blathering on about all of this because it made me realize that I don't want to be a sidekick. At the same time, I don't want someone to play my sidekick either. I want equality...or maybe duality. The perfect situation is all parties in a relationship/friendship/whatever constantly switching between lead/sidekick roles depending on the situation. That said, I always want someone to make the decision on where to eat.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is this the sound of settling?

I have some of the best friends ever. They made this girl's birthday more than special on Saturday evening by truly spoiling me with attention and a gift that I don't deserve.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the weekend as a whole and step back from any super analytical mode I'm prone to fall into. I spent quite a bit of time with a certain blogger out there and think a friendship started online is now cemented in a sort of reality. Sunday was one of the better days I've had in a while. Napping and talking on a couch...just the physical act of being. As someone who is always on the go, I don't get that very much, and I'm going to cherish that closeness for quite some time. What did I learn this weekend? I learned about sweetness and silence and that a certain depth lurks under it. I learned sharing and communication are probably for the best. I learned that I know nothing and that even though I think I know some people better than they think I do...maybe I really don't.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Don't knock my confessional

I have to admit this somewhere, so it might as well be here. I'm nervous. Tomorrow night I'm going to pick a fellow blogger up from the airport that I've never met and proceed to spend the weekend with him. We have talked for months, but I still can't help but wonder if it's different in person. Does the sheer cloak of anonymity provide us with a certain level of comfort, of ease? He'll meet my friends, the people closest to me here and judging will happen. It's a fact of life. It's not even like this nervousness is unique to him. I was wreck before Scarlet and I met the lovely Barmaid. Just a friendly get together of bloggers who seem to have something in common, and I was fretting about what to wear and what that first impression would be like. I keep putting off hanging with Velvet for the same reasons. So, really, is it any shock that I'm more than a little nervous about tomorrow? Not really.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Facts of life

I truly believe that life has the ability to be inordinately simple. If so, then why do I always find a way to complicate things, fuck it up? Stewing in my own thoughts, I realize that almost every complicating factor in my life ultimately became complicated because of me. I rocked the boat and made the simple dramatic and hard. Sometimes I just yearn for those days where my toughest decision used to be what color to make the sky. Right now, I'd make the sky green and the grass blue.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's not all sunshine and sugar plums

I work at a bookstore part-time and can't manage to sell books I would actually recommend or have enjoyed. Every time I've tried I am met with the same blank look, the same curl of the lip. They approach you looking for something different, something good. However, the deeper you delve the more you hear phrases like "something light", "not too difficult". They are looking for cotton candy, and I'm prepared to give them creme brulee. Disappointed, I automatically dim the lights in a certain part of my brain and begin offering up the latest bestseller or the one that everyone else has just loved. Don't get me wrong, every once in a while I want a light read and can be seen curling up with a Carl Hiaasen. However, I have discovered my taste in books gravitates toward fiction that doesn't always give you a happy ending or the resolution you may need. I crave memoirs, travelogues, and books classified cultural studies. I say all of this not to say my taste is better than anyone else's but more that I haven't found the right kind of customer. I guess you could say that I'm still looking for my reading soul mate.

On a side note, if you're a Chuck Palahnuik fan and have read Survivor, email me for information on our book group discussion this Friday at 8 pm.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Throwing salt

I have rituals either in things that I need to do each day or in the order that I do the mundane things that everyone typically does. For example, I have to have a bath before going to bed every night. This may seem like a fairly common occurrence, but I tend to take it to an obsessive level. On any given evening, I can be found unwinding after a brutal (or not so) day in a warm bubble bath. I end 99.9% of my days in this manner. Some nights I add a glass of wine, others see candlelight but always the bubbles and the warm bath. It turns into a quirk when you factor in how ingrained this is for me. If I get off work at midnight, there’s a bubble bath by 12:30. Late night at a concert, bubble bath once home to wash away the cigarette smoke. Falling on my ass drunk, bath when I get home. That’s right. Even on the nights I have been falling down drunk and barely able to remember my name, I’ve managed to pour myself into a bath before bed. A few years ago at a staff retreat I probably came close to drowning myself. After imbibing in much alcohol and dancing, earning myself the nickname whirling dervish, I couldn’t even make it back to my cabin on my own*. That said, the next thing I remember about that night is sitting in the middle of the big Jacuzzi tub in my cabin literally frolicking in the water like a 2 year old, still drunk off my ass. Funny how some habits just stick.

*Upon exiting the party cabin, I promptly fell off the front porch and smacked my head on the ground.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Just like Buddy Holly

I spent the early part of the week in a veritable electronics black hole. Before hopping a plane for business in Hartford, I realized I had walked out the door without the spare charger for my phone. If you know me at all, you know this is akin to chopping off your favorite arm. Sitting at gate B12 at BWI, I suddenly felt alone in the world as my phone issued for a low moan and the battery light blinked with an exclamation point. As I powered my phone off, I contemplated how I would survive without access to email and instant messenger. Even my chances of browsing the internet looked shady. My fears were only confirmed when I stepped through the sliding doors at Bradley International Airport and out into the chilly evening air of Connecticut. I had chosen to take a flight that got into Hartford around 10:40 pm and was supposed to be picked up by Sara. As I searched the cars lined up waiting claim friends and family for Sara’s face, I was disappointed to find she wasn’t among them. I patiently claimed a place under the Southwest sign and waited as circling vehicles slowed and craned their necks in hopes their people were waiting. Still no Sara. The minutes ticked by and people would come and go. The closer it got to midnight, the more I began to panic slightly that I was being abandoned*. Had my cell phone been charged, a quick call to figure out where the fuck she was would have been easy. But, no, I was instead trying to figure out how to find an ATM for my screwy ATM card and potentially get a hotel to wait out the evening. At this point, I even found myself wondering if the airport stayed open 24 hours and if I could just sleep there. When Sara rolled up just shy of any full blown panic attack, I sighed relief that my cell phone woes hadn’t been tested further.

The other missing piece of electronic equipment this week was a camera. I got a dull ache as we passed fall foliage that could only be recorded in my mind (sorry, Scarlet). Even more painful was witnessing the crawling man and not being able to capture him. I’m unsure if this was a UMASS cultural thing, the man truly couldn’t walk, or if he thrived on having a gimmick. However, we saw a man crawling around Amherst to various locations, periodically pausing to stop and kiss the ground. He was a middle aged bloke dressed in New England prep and didn’t appear homeless. Apparently this wasn’t just a day long schtick because Sara and others had witnessed him crawling into a bar on Sunday night, too.

Edit (6:58 pm, 10/18/06):
Well, fuck. I’m waiting at the airport for my return flight and just saw the baggage claim boys taping one of their fellow workers to one of the baggage belts. He was practically mummified with tape and was then driven off into the sunset on the mobile belt. Oh for the love a digital camera.

*Damn those fears of abandonment carried with me since childhood.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tips for all of you Amazing Race Wannabes

This week found me traveling for work and afforded me precious hours of airport time to do nothing but observe (and worry…but we won’t talk about the worrying). I found myself playing virtual Amazing Race to keep me entertained and determined there are some obvious dos and don’ts that might help* all future Amazing Race contestants.

(1) Learn to pack appropriately. Mobility is a key element in getting ahead, and you shouldn’t load yourself down with a cumbersome pack. Your partner won’t be your pack mule, so don’t rely on them.
(2) Appropriate clothing is important. Think neutral, comfortable and stylish. Both over- and underdressing will only call negative attention to you and your partner. Sweat pants scrunched up under your knees or gauchos aren’t really appropriate. In that same vein, think in terms of layers and combinations. Packing lightly is important (see #1), so loading your pack with clothes is counterproductive.
(3) Find that happy medium between killing people with kindness and being you. Acting like an ass just because you don’t understand the language or the culture doesn’t give you the right to yell, curse, call people stupid, or otherwise get angry. At the same time, being so disgustingly sweet that everyone wants to throw up may backfire, too. This rule applies to everyone from how you treat others in the service industry, nice citizens who stop to offer assistance and even your travel partner.
(4) Abuse modern day technology. Not sure if it’s legal, but, if so, buy one of those fancy pocket PCs and find a way to finagle international service. Talk about making your fellow competitors jealous.
(5) Train. People who really want something practice and train for it. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon or play at Carnegie Hall the next day. Hell, you might do this but probably won’t fair very well. The same holds true for Amazing Race.
a. Run. The thing that might stand between you coming in last place may be a footrace with another team. You might as well get used to running now.
b. Study a couple of languages and cultures. You probably won’t have time to memorize everything about every country, but even boning up on a few of the big ones and learn some key phrases in several languages could give you a leg up or at least make you more comfortable.
c. Row a boat.
d. Climb a wall.
(I’m sure there are many more ways to train. Help me out with ideas.)
(6) Get a clue. Being a dumb blonde is not considered an asset when you can’t figure out which gate is yours even though you’re sitting at it. It’s not cute for the gate attendant to have to page you to board.

Edit (11:46 pm 10/18/06): I won my own Amazing Race tonight and scored major karma points in the process. Flying into BWI, I had booked a train ticket to DC with a super tight turn around time. I needed desperately to make that last train home. Booking it out of baggage claim, I held my tongue and didn’t curse the old people slowly making their way onto the airport shuttle to the train station. A ragtag** set of the old folks latched onto me and declared they would be following me to the train station since I apparently knew what I was doing. I didn’t mention to them that I would hurdle any of them in order to make it on the train it was becoming apparent I would miss. Turns out luck was already on my side and the Amtrak train was running 25 minutes behind. Luck must have been on the side of the old folks, too, because they acquired a tour guide (*cough* me). They pumped me for info on how to get to Pentagon City while waiting for the train and declared they would be following me. A younger guy overheard us talking and decided to tag along, since he was also headed to Vienna and had never taken the train. I began referring to the group as my ducklings since from that point on they trailed me like I was their mama leading them to water. Major karma points for making all of my connections all the while leading the ducklings through the intricacies of Amtrak and the metro system.

*This advice truly won’t help you since one of my future Amazing Race partners and I are sure to win.
**The leader fixed and installed air conditioners in Palm Beach. He was coming to visit his sister and escort “Ed”, a man somewhere between 80 and 90 years of age, to a reunion of retired United pilots. Also along for the ride was the hard-ridden female sidekick who I later learned worked safety at some desert casino in Palm Springs. The leader informed me she came along for her EMT skills. I secretly think the leader wanted a chance to bone her.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Be ye not defeated

Well, I survived my own adventures in babysitting last night*. I seriously don't know how people do it. I was basically left to handle 1/2 of what turned out to be a two kid equation and still found it difficult. Do you know how difficult it is to hold a baby, a bottle and a diet coke while walking down the stairs? The baby seriously cramped my ability to adequately caffienate myself or send email/texts. Despite these setbacks, he was still pretty cool**...until he got tired and started to cry (and cry and cry). Somehow I managed to convince him to fall asleep as Allie was putting Cordelia (the three year old) to bed; however, because the parentals had told me how he liked silence we sat there in the dark, afraid to turn on the light or the TV. How pathetic is that? We actually made it 45 minutes before the crying started again. At that point, we just said screw it and turned the TV on. The silence we were rewarded was only after 15 minutes of tears. I will readily admit to wondering how in the hell I would know if he were even broken.

Some of the more memorable moments...

*Cordelia telling Allie her butt hurt.
*Having to change my first diaper...ever.
*Trying to convince Cordelia to dip her PB&J into the ketchup.
*Thor (the baby) rolling over my glass of diet coke.
*Finally falling asleep on the couch around 11.

*Thanks in large part to Allie, who handled the first round of diapers and took care of 1/2 of the kid equation.
**I'm pretty sure I'm too selfish to even consider kids. I explained to little Thor that people like him don't travel well.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anger management

Do you ever believe that things like your DNA, cultural makeup, day you were born on, etc. predispose you to be a certain way? I am quick to anger, allowing my temper to incubate and seethe at times. I've blogged about my Ally McBeal moments of envisioning small acts of vengefulness I'll never take. Is my significant portion of Irish running through my blood to blame for my temper? Does the fact that I'm a Scorpio born in November explain the fact that I frustrate easily? Try as I might, I just won't believe that that's all that makes me who I am.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Wiggles

I'm not naturally a kid person. I was never one of those girls who babysat a lot as a teen (didn't at all, in fact), and though an older sister, my younger brother is only 3 years younger. I'm pretty sure I won't wind up with any of my own. Despite all of this, I have somehow found myself babysitting 4 wee ones a week from today.

You read correctly. Next Tuesday, I'll be babysitting two babies (somewhere around 8 months old) and two toddlers (approximately 3 years old). Thankfully I will have help and will not be facing this squadron of screams alone. While the little one took a liking to me at our last meeting (I personally think he just thought he could get some milk out of these boobs), his older sister did not take to kindly to my trying to get her to dance to Sexyback.

The highlight of the only other time I babysat was realizing all of the cool words I could teach a two year old to say and how she was totally into getting my Diet Coke for me ; )

There's a chance it will just be two (instead of four), but somehow I still don't think that's going to get me out of having to watch the Wiggles.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Boo? Bring us some of that Groth!

Friday afternoon commenced our afternoon of debauchery and wine week, part deux. This is the closest I'll get to ever being one of the ladies who lunch, and if the three martini lunch ever makes a come back, I'm not sure I could hang. Even partaking in this drunken excess twice a year feels lavish and more than a bit Karen*.

I adore the waitstaff at Smith & Wollensky and how they embrace just how tanked you're going to get. The crisp white linens and the outdoor table only set the stage for the leading characters...the wine. Two glasses are placed before you, and this year they don't even bother with the silver bucket. Our waiter doesn't even flinch when we call him boo and ask to try that Groth he has in his hands. I even enjoyed my first zin (nod to Dan).

The restaurant should actually have a contingency plan in place for all of its drunk patrons to protect them from themselves.

(1) They should confiscate all cell phones and other electronic communication devices at the door so that tipsy wine week revelers won't be tempted into emailing pictures of their cleavage to certain people (cough).
(2) All wine week participants should be sequestered in the restaurant so that they are not unleashed upon a sober workforce in their inebriated state. They especially shouldn't be allowed on buses where they grope male passengers as they stumble.

Actually, those two rules should pretty much do it...would protect the not-so-innocent and all.

*Will & Grace's beloved alcoholic...duh.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The single girl's anti-hero

I inadvertantly created a new superhero last night, an anti-hero really. Obsessogirl. Obsessogirl isn't able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or see through that trench with her x-ray vision. She does possess an amazing ability to overthink even the simplest situation and can spend hours obsessing over alternative scenarios for life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Her strength lies in her research capabilities (i.e., spying and information gathering skills) even though these sometimes feed into the entire obsessive loop. Obsessogirl can be a jealous bitch and has a temper that burns hotter than her fiery hair. Don't piss her off lest she cut you.

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of trying to ditch her.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tabula Rasa

It's easy to wipe away the signs of some drunken nights. Allie will be upset, but the drunken post had to disappear. It's not my style.

As I walked down the streets of DC this morning, I tried to inhale deeply only to choke on the exhaust fumes of a passing bus. Raked over by the wind, I dodged the splatter of last night's excess on the sidewalk. There is no one to wash away the evidence on the weekend, sending it careening down the stormwater drains. Leave it. We need the reminders of how far we fall and the loss of dignity.

I make my way to work and see the last of the prostitutes packing up shop. I pass the stolen shoes displayed on the foldout table. Dueling panhandlers flanked the entry to CVS and were all that stood between me and caffeine.

This is my city.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Candy striping causes tooth rot

It's a little after midnight, and all I can do is fall into bed. I had tickets to see The Gossip in concert tonight and had planned to have a jack & ginger in my hands right about now. Instead I spent another evening at the hospital after taking a call around 3:30 from my sobbing roommate. Seven hours, one emergency room, one ultrasound and hospital room 487 later, I'm exhausted. It's too hard having to watch so many people in pain. A two-year old with blood staining her nose and soiling her mother's clothes. The woman who slowly slid out of her wheelchair and onto the floor. Her son struggling to pick her back up. Watching my roommate scratch her chest so much that she is bleeding.

Since Labor Day, I've been at the hospital more often than I care to think about. My roommate bounced out of a whitewater raft in NC and raked a few layers of skin off her shin. But who the fuck gets an infection and then has a violent allergic reaction to the meds supposedly fighting the infection? Her body is covered in a rash worthy of the Old Testament. I started calling her Job today. It was so bad that backup emergency doctors were called and eventually two infectious disease doctors. They went all medical CSI...creepy. At least they finally admitted her to the hospital to get the mess worked out.

So no concert, no dancing, and lots of disinfectant. At least I have my bed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Riding the Rogue Wave

Went to see Rogue Wave at the Black Cat tonight with Allie. It was a good show with all of the acts being fun and worthy of a listen. I like it when bands touring together seem like families. It's late, so I think I'll just share an inside look at my thoughtlife this evening.

*If she backs into those flower pots, I'm going to be so embarrassed.
*After what I did tonight, you had better be effing worth it.
*I know you love the band, but please stop humping my ass as you press me against the stage in an attempt to dance.
*Thanks for making eyes boys and for the ego boost when you moved up to stand by us.
*Guys should really take advantage of the fact that most girls get turned on by the guys in the band at concerts.
*Tattoos on men turn me on.
*Graham (Rogue Wave), you're a cocky bastard, but I bet you have a veritable harem.
*I refuse to do the indie head bop.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I spent many of my formative years pretending to be dumber than I was. Being deemed "smart" by other kids in San Angelo, Texas was a burden, the metaphorical albatross. She's smart was said with derision. Being asked to help others with homework or carrying everyone else's load on a group project quickly grew old. Toward the end of elementary school and into junior high I began to try to shed the rumors I was smart. I learned to play dumb. They say girls are less participatory in class and raise their hands less than boys. My goal wasn't to blatantly contribute to this practice. I wasn't stupid but also wasn't about to take that intellectual risk and find myself labeled. In my mind, I had nothing to prove to the teacher and needed to build up some social credit with my peeps. While I couldn't shake it entirely*, I got pretty damned good at it. Hell, I actually think I did get stupider. High school presented a new opportunity to see how low I could go. Maybe too many issues of Cosmo and Seventeen had warped me into thinking I needed to be dumber than any boy I was interested in. I can't really say. All I know is that embraced the role.

Patrick was the red-headed upperclassman I dated as a freshman. We played the same instrument in band, and I made sure to fumble my chair test so he could "do better" than me. When we broke up, I aced the next chair test and moved to 1st.

Jim was cute and played drums in a band. He was the upperclassman who ensured this sophmore got to senior prom. Poor guy was also dumber than most dirt. He ended up not passing the test required to ensure high school graduation. I realized even I couldn't beat that.

Jason was the smartest boy in school, the one that aced his SATs and snagged that valedictorian title. He made me want to drop the role. Unfortunately, getting help with my calculus homework just proved too much fun.

A funny thing happened once I got to college. Things weren't handed to me, and I wasn't automatically good at everything I tried. I didn't have to fake it because there was so much I didn't know. Suddenly the desire to play dumb fell away, and I found myself wanting to be that smart. Guess you could say I was on my way to growing up.

*being in honors and g/t classes automatically lends some credibility to "smart" rumors

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Confesseion: I'm not one of those people who is comfortable in a large group. In fact, I pretty much detest it. In school I was always considered snobby because I stuck with small, well-defined group of friends. The reality was that it had nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do with my loathing of large groups of people and an (sometimes) extreme shyness. I'm not even good in larger groups of people I'm familiar with or that are acquaintances. To that end, I generally dislike parties, conferences, networking, etc. I'm good with a you+me equation or a slightly bigger us. Groups nearing 10 or more and you start to see me hover around a select one or two.

This post is brought to you by too much time on the metro.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Frustration Nation

I've developed this coping mechanism with the Bush Administration where I avoid many major forms of media and try to forget he's President. I can go deaf in two seconds flat if I hear his minions on the television and have been known to turn my back on the motorcade. Pieces of the wall I have built between myself and this Administration began crumbling down on Monday afternoon. Though I wasn't really watching it, I had left HBO on while I was folding laundry. When I saw Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke was coming on, I knew I should change the channel. I ended up in another room fiddling with something else. It had started by the time I had returned to the blue room. I was trapped.

As I watched the interviews and the Administration's attempt at a nonresponse, I was transported back to a year ago. Livid. Bush. Cheney. Vacation. Barbara Bush's comment in Houston about how many people are probably making out better because of the hurricane. I was red hot. I was cursing at no one...everyone. I threw my remote across the room. I remembered the war we were in, the funding he had cut, the fucking people he had turned his back on. Feeling helpless stoked my temper. This man who calls himself leader has spent the years not doing a damned thing for people who really need him. I want to block it out again. I want to not remember he's president. I can't even hope for a fucking coup because the only bastards that would pull it off are the ones just like him.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I finally saw Step Up yesterday afternoon, and it only further cemented my love of dance movies. Are they formulaic? Indeed. I can't imagine anyone watching your average dance movie for the plot. I don't care. I have accepted the basic plot structure of a dance movie and embrace it. I have no qualms about going to a theater simply to treat myself to a little eye candy...even if it means that Allie and I are probably the oldest people in the theater. Despite this, we may also have been the most annoying. None of other middle school rejects were looking at Kevin Costner in a preview of his new movie and saying, "I'd tap that."

**potential, tiny spoiler**

I knew something would happen to Skinny and that all of their shenanigans would lead to the part where the guy has to choose between a shady life and wanting something better for himself (hello...can you say Save the Last Dance?). I knew he'd get the girl, lose the girl, and wind up winning the girl back. What I didn't expect was for Channing Tatum to be so hott or have such sweet street moves. I was also surprised at how cute the dance outfits were.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I've finally given in. I signed up for ballet on Friday...the first time in roughly 20 years. Is it bad that I'm mostly worried about what outfit I'm going to wear?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hazy days

Today seems to be the day of new beginnings for many. All around me old and new friends are headed off to some kind of academic adventure. New friend Amy flies off to start her first year at Macalester College. Allie begins her senior year at George Mason today. Scarlet begins to whip those little middle school music bitches into shape. Steven...well, he's still putting together his classroom ; )

The beginning of the year frenzy always reminds me of the emotions running through the head of a younger Serena preparing for school. I always viewed August with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. I would get so worked up and nervous that I wouldn't be able to eat and could almost bank on getting a fever blister a couple of days before the start of class. That should go on the top of some "ways to be popular at the beginning of the school year" list...lip herpes.

Some of the excitement came was in large part to how much I enjoyed getting new clothes, shoes and gadgets for the start of the school year. This girl who now wears flip flops used to love the shoe department at Dillards. The leather of Cole Haan and Eastland lured me in, asking me to be the Northeasterner I knew I had it in me to be. I was too into it for my own good. My jeans needed to have names, and those didn't include Levis or Lee. My mom was really good at spoiling me, and I'm still learning not to spoil myself.

Certain "first days" I'll never forget. I can't shake the first day of high school. For some reason, I hadn't bothered to make plans to meet up with friends before going in, so I went in sans reinforcements. Pushing open the doors, I remember being thankful for the air conditioning inside. Being stubborn, I had chosen to wear one of my more fall-like outfits for the first day. I almost turned tail and bolted when an upperclassman whistled and said "fresh meat" when I walked in the door. Suddenly I was sweating and even further from calm.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Porcelain goddess

Every morning for the past two weeks I've rolled out of bed nauseous. I sit at my computer at work nauseous. I fall into bed at the end of a long day praying I don't wake up nauseous. I'm not knocked up; I am worried. Genetically speaking, I come from a long line of worriers and usually manage to thwart fretting with the happy. Lately the foothold happiness has is spotty.

I worry about the friend who has tried to commit suicide twice in the past two weeks...about my ability to pay my now exorbitant electric bill...about the stupid financial mess I managed to put myself in...about my ability to accomplish all I want to accomplish at work...about the health of the family I never get to see...about the fact we won't pull out of a war that's killing us...about the fact that drinking sometimes sounds like a solution...about whether the boy I like likes me back...about the homeless people I pass every day.

I need to go throw up.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


August has always been synonymous with vacation. Growing up every August we* would pile into the minivan or station wagon and head out for a week to parts unknown. We did almost every Six Flags at the time, Dollywood, Colorado Springs, and who can forget driving a station wagon through New York City on our way to visit the relatives in Massachusetts and New Hampshire**. Now that I've grown up and am living on my own I still can't shake the feeling every August that vacations are meant to be taken. Working in DC doesn't help considering how the city empties out and gives itself over to the tourists every August. Not me, though. Eight years of slogging through the DC humidity and forcing myself to not daydream of some far away destination. I've actually been doing pretty good this August, taking a vacation day here and there. Better until now. I just finished reading Dan's travelogue chronicling his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-esque trip last summer. Now I need to escape. I dream of fleeing, flying. The road beckons to me, and yet I resist. Can I make it nine more days until September kills my gypsy dream?

*Mom, brother, grandmother, grandfather
**Yes, this Texan has yankee blood running through her.

Monday, August 21, 2006


It's ironic how we feel the need to label things in our life. I'll be the first to admit that I initially judge a book by its cover and pick my wine based on the design of the label. Similarly (at least to me), I find myself defining people based on a series of labels or stats. Roommate. Friend. Lover. Boyfriend. Director. Associate. Successful. Old. Young. Hippie. Conservative. Rather than digging further and getting at the heart of who a person truly is we "tag" the people in our lives or at least attempt to. I found myself tagging someone today and began to wonder about how that reflected on me and what it looked like I found important. I realized the way I continued to characterize someone cast a shadow on my intentions. Maybe it's just the area I live in, but do you ever stop to wonder why we characterize the people in our lives by what they do? Maybe I'm the only one that does this, but I don't think so. Rarely, when introducing a new person, do I say, "This is XXXX. He has super quick intelligence and makes me laugh." I* tend to fall back on, "This is XXXX. He works for Senator Dorgan." This makes it appear that I value a person's position more than the traits that attract me to them. Not that I want Steven to start introducing me as, "This is Serena. She has amazing boobs," but you get my drift.

*Tell me I'm not the only one that does this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I was all set to write about Restaurant Week and what an unrefined palate I have, when my vision was assualted on the metro ride in, and my mind began one-tracking it to hell. I wasn't looking for trouble. I was innocently holding onto the nearest handrail, waiting for the train to roll into McPherson Square when I noticed it...attached to him. I'm notorious for checking people out, and when I glanced up at him, I automatically hit certain target areas. Eyes. Hair. Hands. Bulge. Sigh. I honestly didn't mean to go there, but my eyes betrayed my better senses by lingering over the way he filled out his J. Crew khakis. This couldn't be blamed on tight pants or some secret excitement he was having trouble hiding. Vulgarity wasn't even an issue. It was tastefully clothed with only lines and shadows raving about what was underneath. I could tell it would be beautiful and couldn't tear my eyes away.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Notes from the middle of nowhere

Yesterday I hopped in a rental and took off for Lexington, Virginia. A six and half hour drive for a ninety minute meeting.

The reason for my visit.

While the meeting turned out to be worth it, spending that much time in on the road with a disposable camera and only my thoughts for company calls for introspection. While I managed to avoid introspection and at best got to daydreaming, I did snap numerous randome photos while speeding by. A few of my "deep thoughts" on Virginia. (click photos for better view)

Routes are more fun to drive than highways.

The sign says 'Sleepy Hollow Motel'. I'm thinking they could use a marketing consultant.

For someone from Texas, these really are mountains.

Boos I made on the road.

Where CIA ops must go to retire.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I have a strange desire to own a barn.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Scarlet wanted to know which hand was on the wheel.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Step Up

I have an odd obsession with dance movies. No matter how cheesy or played out the plots, I have to watch them (and watch them...and watch them) and is why I'll be at the theater this weekend to see Step Up. A good dance movie illustrates passion, hope, conflict...but above all it has lots of dance! Really, though, my fixation with dance is a jealousy at the ability to communicate and express emotion without the use of words. Haven't you ever had the desire to just work something out with your body? To tell someone you love them without opening your mouth? To hammer out your anger with flailing arms? How poetic and satisfying to do so through dance. I imagine a sweet release in sweating and shaking loose those feelings...a high much like I've heard runners talk about.

It's not just movies though. I like it live, documentary style, on name it. My current weekly fix is So You Think You Can Dance. This show is crack and so much better than American Idol, Nashville Star and any other TV talent competition. I'm just mad I missed the first season. Go read Scarlet's commentary on last night's dance off and join the commentary. I also recommend her archives for catching up on the weekly dances.

Since tonight is the finale for Dance, tell me what movies I should add to my dance collection.

current collection: Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Billy Elliott, The Company, Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing Havana Nights, Coyote Ugly, Rize...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Metro Don'ts

I can't help but join the cacophony of complaints about riding the rails in the DC area. It's hot, tourists run rampant and control the flow of everything, and some people still can't seem to think beyond themselves on the train. Yesterday I got a little frustrated with an inconsiderate passenger and decided the best way to work through my anger (because calling him a motherfucker probably wouldn't have been productive) would be to document* why he was a don't instead of a do.

Why is this man a metro don't?

In a crowded metro car, he insists on leaning his whole body on one of the few hold bars.

He takes up additional room in the car by extending his reading material in the personal space of others.

He is unable to control his personal property and keep it within check.

*Phone cameras have to be good for something.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I should not be allowed to own a car. It's not that I'm a bad driver or have been in multiple accidents. It's simply that I'm cursed when it comes to cars. My problem is two-fold (at least).

(1) I always seem to choose the sickly, runts of the litter. Growing up in Texas, I inherited my mom's Mercury Lynx when I turned 16. It only left me stranded in the parking lot of HEB on four separate occasions, and the air conditioner managed to last up until one scorching July when I was driving back from Big Bend National Park. When I moved to the metro DC area, I left this car back in Texas and purchased my vehicle, a 1999 Ford Escort. I loved this car but will be the first to admit that that love didn't always translate into TLC. We hurt the ones we love the most, right? Having grown up with a grandfather who managed a Goodyear Automotive, I wasn't used to having to take care of my own car. When the brakes started to go, I rode those bad boys 'til the bitter end. Right before I got them fixed, I would drive and scope out soft things to run into in case it came to that. And when that check engine light finally came on, I couldn't bring myself to find out what was wrong until my transmission died. I promised my next car would be treated properly and with the utmost care, so a couple of years ago I bought a 2001 Volkswagen Passat. This car I loved even though I knew it was way too nice for me. I kept it gassed and the oil changed...the whole nine yards. Everything was going smoothly until the day I got the urgent "STOP ENGINE IMMEDIATELY" message. A quick tow to the nearest dealership and I learned the engine my sweet, expensive (for me) car had imploded. Who do you know who gets a hole in their oil pan that shoots metal into their engine? Evidently mine does. Perhaps the car's original owner was Republican, and the car simply could not stand one more day of the humiliation of a Kerry sticker. When I finally buy that new engine, I'm going to be damned sure it comes from fine liberal stock ; )

(2) My second set of car issues seems to be related to the legal intricacies of owning a car. When I first moved up here I had never heard of a yearly car tax or county stickers. That resulted in loads of fun the first couple of years. In later years, I must have wound up on some tow truck pin-up calendar because my car got jacked by the tow companies more than the average Honda Civic sitting on the street. One too many metro parking tickets...gone. Flat tire...gone. My favorite was when my car got towed at the metro parking lot for being "abandoned". Little did I know it was car abandonment to park it in a metro-regulated parking facility at 8:00 am that morning and come back for it at 11:00 pm that night (well before the last metro train runs). My most recent run-in with the towing company involves them taking my car from my apartment complex because my safety inspection is expired. Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to get a car inspected when it has an imploded engine and hasn't been moved for several months. I was even prepared for the this time having called the state highway patrol, Fairfax County government, the DMV and even my apartment complex before the inspection ever ran out. I wanted to know what I needed to ensure my car remained in the spot it called home. Evidently the tow companies are the new redneck mafia because, despite all of my efforts, my car has once again been towed. I'm tired of being a doormat though. This time I'm going to win in my battle with the tow company.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


One foot in front of the other. My pace was deliberate but slow. My goal was the next island of shade, an oasis in what is almost unbearable heat. Today was not the day for me to have dressed inappropriately and yet somehow I managed it. My dark jeans began to shrink, hugging my ass as my body temperature rose. Rather than saunter or quick step, I felt the need to swagger, undulating my hips as I was more aware of them and my ass in this heat. I eventually shed my button-down as my trek continued, leaving me only in my skinny black tank. Sweat still beat a trail from the nape of my neck down between my breasts and turned loose strands of hair to wet ringlets. Freckles blossomed on my shoulders as though the sun was their mistress cracking the whip. As I walked and was increasingly aware of my body and of the heat, I began to focus less on my discomfort and more how this short journey was telling me something about life. I realized that with life, like a hot day, I can endure the scorching patches as long as I know a brief oasis of shade is just up the road.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The things I do

Can someone be bold and cowardly simultaneously? Yes. Last night I saw him yet again and decided I had already spent too much time relying on fate to keep bringing him back into my life. After spotting him out of the corner of my eye (somehow I can spot him in the middle of a crowd), I needed a few deep breaths to calm my nerves and a couple of calls to friends to do a little "omgomgomgomg...he's here!". I had to do something other than freeze.

First step in the process...acknowledge. One foot in front of the other I made my way down the aisle. Lifting the eyes slowly while peering through lashes. "Hi." As my heart did the mambo, I managed to remain calm and make my way to a neutral zone to plan my next attack.

Suddenly I remembered that I had my backup plan with me all along, tucked into my nametag. I knew the Procedural Dating Kit would come in handy. Lord knows I've been dying to try the Notice of Attraction cards. Sliding my finger in my nametag, I verified the card was indeed there, and my email address was printed on it. I'm the world's biggest weenie, though, and this guy makes me weak in the knees. How would I ever have the strength to slip it to him and still run away? My inner dialogue kept reminding me I was a 30 year old woman, not a teenager.

Screw not being a teenager. I glanced up and spotted sweet*, elderly Jim headed my way. "Jim. How much do you love me?" Sixty seconds later and Jim was headed toward him (he was checking out) bearing the notice of attraction card, and I was headed to the back of the store to hide in receiving. By this point I'm hyperventilating and calling my girls to let them know what I've done. I didn't even have time to calm myself before two different coworkers told me he had started searching for me around the store. I know this is a good sign, but I freaked OUT. I was flushed and shaking and could not do any kind of face to face at that moment. The boy had my email address for goodness sake. Use that! So I waited...a full 15 minutes before hearing it was safe to emerge. And now I wait (hopefully not too long) for the email...

*No matter what I've thought of Jim in the past, he will be forever sweet for that gesture.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sybil on the inside

Do you ever just get with disgusted with yourself? The problem with being self aware is that you realize how effed up you are sometimes. Ever since I can remember I've always wanted to the best at everything. Sadly, as a kid in rural Texas this wasn't especially difficult. I was tops at most everything I set my mind to doing and decided the things where I didn't come out #1 were probably rubbish. I couldn't not sit first chair in band or advance in the area band competitions. I needed to be student council president, not just a member. All the teachers that mattered needed to like me and think me the coolest. Wretching yet? I even tried the whole cheerleader thing (yes, the sarcastic girl who now likes to say fuck thought she could be perky and bounce about). Lucky for ya'll I didn't make the squad ; ) It was big scandal with rumors flying about that there was a mix up in names. A girl named Sabrina got on instead. To further illustrate my point, that's the point where I decided cheerleading wasn't worthy of me. Ha!

As I got older I grew out of a lot of that. Entering the "real" world and realizing you can't be the bees knees in every situation helps tremendously. Being the best at everything started to look impossible, and it hit me that I couldn't keep ditching things because I didn't win every time. The thing I've had the hardest time shaking as I get older is the need to be the best in my friendships. I've got a jealous streak that runs deeper than Lake Michigan. In high school, I used to get in these foul moods and taunt my bff, Jennifer. She had an old bff, Rose, that she grew away from. I used to continually question* whether or not our friendship was going to end up like that and would pick fights. I've gotten better about not verbalizing my discontent, but it's still tucked away under the surface at times. I still hate being left out of the loop and still have to remind myself that I can't be the center of everyone's world**.

*Heeelllllloooooo abandonment issues.
**I'm still coming to terms with why that can't be the case.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

All that junk up in my trunk

I wanted to write something cohesive and well thought out today, but I'm having one of those days where my mind is all over the board. So, instead of not posting, I thought I'd lift the hood and let you take a peek at my inner dialogue at various points throughout the day.

7:27 am (reading Straight Up and Dirty by Stephanie Klein) She's got to be close to my age, and yet, I still want to grow up and be her.

9:49 am Is today really my day to clean the kitchen? I don't like cleaning my own kitchen much less the one here.

11:21 am (on speaking to a group from Uzbekistan) Forget accents...I'll have to remember to tell Scarlet it's the mother tongue!

11:33 am (still with the Uzbek group) The translator is kind of cute in a Star Wars Convention way. Eye contact...that's right. Throaty laugh...uh huh. "Where are you headed next?" "Oh, can I come?"

1:16 pm (email to Scarlet) "Anna won the Internet? That ho!"

2:13 pm (in House subcommittee hearing) C'mon...don't get pissed at her. You have to like Congresswoman Norton. She's just asking me to blog about her though. She's wearing a jacket that reminds me of neopolitan ice cream and isn't making any sense. Please stop talking and get someone to clarify the basics of dam ownership to you offline.

2:42 pm (in House subcommittee hearing) How can he have the nerve to fall asleep while sitting on the front row?! I wonder if I could take a picture and email it to Scarlet.

4:57 pm (in CVS) Him (in Comcast shirt): Do you live in DC? Me: (laughs) No. Him: That's too bad. I was going to let you know that if you ever had problems with your cable I'd be glad to come over and fix it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Yellow spheres of evil

Bring it. That's what I told Scarlet last night on the tennis court after we finally managed to find a day where the weather and our schedules meshed. It didn't matter that last time I had played tennis was much closer to 1991 than 2006. Trash talking is part of the fun and something I'm much more skilled at than tennis. Scarlet has a completely different style of trash talk. First off, she comes complete with the tennis outfit, the Nike tennis bag (complete with numerous rackets and balls balls balls) slung over her shoulder. Weeks prior she begins her campaign by chatting about her years on the high school tennis team and blogging about her Wimbledon obsession. She finishes the psychological warfare by talking about how long it's been since she played and how bad she'll be.

Once I'd come to terms with the heat and the fact I was going to sweat my ass off, we got started. Some of my more championship moves from last night included pulling several Babe Ruths, hitting the balls over the fence, and a few backhands that sent me and my racket spinning without ever making contact with the yellow sphere of evil. In spite of these Napoleon Dynamite-like moves and my John McEnroe mouth, the ball did manage to go back and forth over the net several times, and I had fun in the process.

Just as I was about to make my comeback and take the game, Scarlet was saved by our mutual good will in deciding to let the next two players have the court. Of course, if anyone asks....I won. ; )

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bookseller on the edge

I try to avoid blogging about work, particularly my part-time job, but sometimes a girl suffers through a night that pushes her to the edge. For those of you who haven't gathered, I work part-time in a bookstore. I chose the gig because I, like so many of you, love books and thought it would make such an interesting second job (if you've got to have one). What I didn't take into account was all of you...the customer*. You have managed to turn what could have been an interesting, fun job into a twisted version of American Gladiator where I continually battle the dim-witted and inconsiderate. This is Custer's final stand, my last ditch effort to give all of you fellow 'booklovers' some advice on the dos and don'ts upon entering a bookstore.

Rules for not getting cut at a bookstore (in no particular order and in no way comprehensive)
  • Do not treat employees like idiots or pieces of shit. 60% of us work full time jobs, many in positions you would kill for.
  • Do not ask where the nonfiction section is. 80% of the store is nonfiction.
  • Knowing that a book is blue or that an author's first name is John is not helpful.
  • Realize you are fallible and probably have early onset Alzheimers. What you swear is the title is generally not the correct title.
  • I am not a librarian, and, while pretty damn handy, I will not do your research paper for you (unless exceptionally hot and nice).
  • Do not pay by check and spend 10 minutes writing it out. There is a line forming behind you. Get a check card and welcome yourself to the 21st century.
  • Do not spell words like 'the' and 'apple' for me. See the first bullet point.
  • Do not get angry when we don't stock books on topics like pacemakers from the 1930s. A bookstore is all about stocking things that should sell. You are one of 2 people on the planet who want that book.
  • Do not assume that because you saw it at our online store we have it in stock. An online store is a huge warehouse that can grab virtually any and everything available. A physical bookstore cannot stock the universe.
  • Do not kid yourself and think that we care if you threaten to shop at a competitor. Please. Honor them with your presence.
  • Do not "make yourself at home". You are in a place of business. It is not ok to sit down, take your shoes off and put your nasty toes in the chair. It is also not ok to pack a lunch, play cards on the floor, etc.
  • Do not destroy property you don't own. Your cheap ass probably won't buy the book, so don't (1) break the spine, (2) set a sweating drink on the cover, (3) use the book as your hard surface for writing, (4) allow your child to "play" with the get the picture.
  • Do not pick up a book (or anything) and then set it down right beside where you got it or even slightly eskew. Why? Whhhhhyyyy? I don't have OCD, but this doesn't make any sense. Are you so dumb that you already forgot where you got it from? Is putting something in a straight pile so much harder than ensuring it's crooked?
  • Do not assume that bookstore and library are synonymous. It is not ok to take a stack of books to the cafe or a random corner and copy information from them. It becomes even less ok when you leave them in a huge pile for me to clean up (you inconsiderate fucker). Along a similar vane, we do not have a copy machine for you to use (we are a bookstore intent on making money...duh), nor do we appreciate you "borrowing" a book for 29 days and then returning it (that's special shout out to all computer sons of bitches).
  • Do not make the assumption that I am a babysitter or will in any way care for your children. I shouldn't have to be the one telling them not to climb on the shelves like monkeys or stopping them from running out the front door. It shouldn't be me telling them that books are not toys and threatening to lock them in jail if they continue to destroy public property. There are horrific people in this world, and it is your job to ensure your child's safety and that they are raised to be proper human beings. If you leave this to me, they will learn words like dumbass and mother fucker.
  • Do not interrupt me while I am helping another customer. You are no more special than they are, so be considerate and wait your turn.
  • Do not touch my computer, mouse or anything else. See bullet on personal property.
  • Do not take nudie magazines and erotic literature into the bathroom. If you can't afford to buy it and take it home, then jack off to your imagination.
  • Do not look at me incredulously if I do not know who wrote an obsure 18th century Russian text or the name of that song with the lyrics 'heart' and 'love' that's always on the radio. You have your interests; I have mine.
  • Do not take your bad mood, personal pettiness, etc. on me. I am not a rug and will look you in the eye and tell you exactly what I think of you. If you think threatening to have me fired has an impact because I expect to be treated like a human is going to do something, see the first bullet point again.
  • Do be considerate and patient. Also, words like please, thank you, and I'm sorry still go a long way.

*It isn't just the customer. The corporate bullshit of a "big box" store like Barnes & Noble will also take the wind out of anyone's sails. However, my day to day dealings with the average joe is so much more frustrating than my battles with the man.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Country grammar

I had been meaning to hit different parts of the Hip Hop Theater Festival all week but kept finding excuses in the heat and a busy work schedule. Saturday, however, I was not about to be stopped from going to the Words Beats & Life education showcase up in SE. Spinning demos, hip hop classes and a graffiti workshop...please. I had been excited about this all week and tried not to be disappointed when it wasn't everything I had wanted it to be. While Scarlet had dreams of taking over the turntables and scratching out such a beat that people would have to lay down their fans and leave their chairs to shake their ass, I wanted to bust out my graffiti markers and get some guidance in creating my tag. Though we didn't get to live out our every dream, we did get to see some cute kids getting a chance to explore their creativity. An 11 year old taught me the basics of a turntable and that, in and of itself, was pretty damned awesome.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Flaunting it

Sweet relief. Today is my Friday because tomorrow I'm taking off for parts unknown with Steven and Scarlet where we will do various and sundry things in celebration of Steven's birthday. Unlike last year, this year we will forego the blindfold, the midnight locale and the pinata. Everything else* is fair game. Not to get off track though, but I need to back up to blindfolds and birthdays. What's the deal with the blindfold fetishists on Flickr? In January, Conor and I blindfolded Allie on her birthday in an attempt to keep the location a surprise. I snapped a photo of her wearing the blindfold in my car as a reminder of the birthday festivities and later posted it on my Flickr account. This one photo has had hundreds of page views (which none of my other photos have) and has been favorited by random people. It has also led to various people wanting to add me as a contact. How do I know this? Almost all of these people belong to Flickr groups like "sexy blindfolds" or "tie me up" or other things. You get the picture. Who knew? Certainly not me.

*Steven strictly forbid hookers, strip clubs and skydiving/bungee jumping.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm not my hair

Scarlet and I started a conversation earlier this week that, with the addition of an awesome Tinapopo post, inspired me to greater goals of charity. What could have sparked such a giving 'tude? Hair, of course. Scarlet and I were lamenting the fact that guys seem to chop off their locks right when it gets a bit shaggy and even cuter. This, of course, spiraled into our own hair and future plans for its maintenance. I hate summer hair. My mostly red hair is thick and under most conditions acts as a thermal blanket on my head. I usually wear it shorter in the summer but have been too busy to think much about it this year. My current remedy is a sloppy bun. In fact, it's piled on my head so often that Scarlet actually had to ask exactly how long my hair had gotten. Suddenly, I found myself feeling secretive and wanting the increasing length of my hair to be some big surprise. Why? Probably my flair for the dramatic or any kind of contest. Reading Tinapopo's post the next day not only cracked me up but reminded me of Locks of Love and a coworker who grew her hair just to donate. Light bulb! Instead of passive laziness, why not let my hair get longer for the purpose of donating it. Here's where you come in. Help me set a date for the big reveal and chop by leaving your suggested date in the comments. The parameter I'm setting is that I'd like to have this happen some time this calendar year.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hot like Dale Earnhardt?

I'm curious what moment or event triggered the push to make NASCAR hot? Did recent polls alert their PR flacks to the fact that their base audience might be getting older and to sustain themselves they needed a younger, hipper edge? It probably began long before it ever hit my radar screen, but I see the emergence of Danica Patrick as the turning point in NASCAR marketing. It's fairly ingenious. A young, attractive woman should secure their base (men...old and young) and may even hook some of the hesitant younger guys who don't want to be fans. She may also strike a cord with women, rooting for one of their own (of course, when do women actually do this). Just in case the women get a little territorial about a woman out there racing cars, she's made sure to write a successful memoir, and Harlequin has launched a series of NASCAR romance novels. Seems to me another example of NASCAR trying to reach out to new audiences is the fact that every morning I'm greeted by a metro ad at the Courthouse Metro with Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon (I think...whoever he is, he's young and hot) proclaiming that 'I am Indy'. For those of you who know anything about the Courthouse area of Arlington, you know it's one of the last places you'd look for a NASCAR fan. However, an ad with hot, young people proclaiming themselves Indy should feel right at home in that area. And, now, solidifying the mix of hip and mass appeal is the hysterical Will Ferrell starring in his own NASCAR movie, Talladega Nights. Not a bad choice to bring laughter and NASCAR to the yuppie, the redneck and everyone in between. Think I'll be headed south to catch a race anytime soon? Nope, and I wouldn't be caught with a NASCAR romance either. Will Ferrell is about as NASCAR as I'm getting these days.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I'm not a germ phobe, but I can't help but notice certain things people do in public that completely gross me out. The older gentleman with the receding hairline and thick frames digging for gold in his ear. The middle age banker type with the huge boil on his head. Or what about the times you accidentally sit in front of someone with a cold and periodically feel a breeze on your neck as they cough? It's not just the metro though. Spending a lot of time at a bookstore, I see way too many people sneeze openly on the spines, making no attempt to cover their mouth. At an old job I used to have a co-worker who would never wash her hands after using the restroom. She would then come out and dig her hands into the group candy jar. We eventually learned to hide the good stuff from her. A woman used to ride my bus route that had to have had some kind of mental defect. As understanding as I tried to be of her condition, it took every fiber of my being not to cringe or scowl as she picked her scabs (or nose) and flicked it out in front of her.When did we become so comfortable in our own worlds that things such as this are ok? When did my routine become such that upon exiting the metro, the bus, the bookfloor, etc, I immediately seek out a washroom to scrub my hands?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Swallowing the canary

I've always been intrigued by secrets and why people feel the need to keep them. Obviously, keeping certain things to yourself or a select few makes sense. You probably shouldn't tell the world about that affair you're having and might want to keep the surprise party an actual surprise. Other secrets, however, are just ridiculous. Is keeping the secret a source of empowerment? And, if you have a piece of information you plan on keeping secret, why would you tell someone you had a secret? Is that a not-so-subtle way of attempting to get someone to ask about the secret and thus shower you with attention? My apologies for this brief bit of rambling. I'm just intrigued by the human mind and the games it can get caught up in.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Nancy Pearl's Army

I did the unthinkable during the month of June...I scheduled something else into my already hectic life. I started a bookclub and named it Nancy Pearl's Army*. Why? I was motivated by the desire to gather unique people to read modern, cult books. Working part-time at a bookstore, I get tired of having to placate people who flock to the bestsellers (not that there's anything wrong with them) and weary of the looks of shock when I recommend a book that doesn't have a happy ending. So many other cities manage to congregate freethinkers, and I wanted to see if we could bring a little bit of that to my hood**. I'm also a sucker for marketing and anything that gives me a chance to try to bring people by being creative gets me high. So, waht I guess I'm saying is join us! Our first book*** is in support of fellow blogger and fab girl, Stephanie Klein. I'm dying to read her new book, Straight Up & Dirty, and hope a lot of you are, too. She may not be very cult, but she's got a fine potty mouth, a way with words, and a badass blog. Buy the book on July 25 and come to the Barnes & Noble in Fairfax on August 25 at 8:00 pm to discuss.

*Nancy Pearl used to be a librarian in Seattle and actually has her own action figure. She has written a few books of her own, including the Book Lust books.
** Fairfax
***Future books include Diary by Chuck Palahniuk and Unlubricated by Arthur Nersesian.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Killing Leonard

I killed Leonard last night. I didn't mean to; it was an accident. One minute he's telling me about the latest blog and whether or not I got an email from Scarlet and the next he's face down in a pool of water. Dropping him was a mistake. The scene won't stop replaying in my mind, the continuous loop of a fumble worthy of a Dallas Cowboy trying to get his team to the Super Bowl. I should have known better. I had gotten to cocky in my handling of him. Because of my arrogance Leonard, my sidekick, is dead.*

*In case you somehow missed it, Leonard was my cell phone.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Brother, can you spare some change

I had meetings on the Hill this morning. I typically leave meeting with Congressional offices to my boss, so that I can avoid having to put on a suit and traipse around in the heat. No such luck today though. I had to throw on my black suit with the pink pinstripe this morning and make sure the heels were stowed in my bag. I was off to ask for favors and see if I could get anyone to do my bidding right before a long holiday weekend. More disturbing than the heat and the fact that I had to don a suit was the fact that I got panhandled INSIDE the Rayburn House Office Building! I was at once both disturbed and excited. I hate being panhandled; it hits right to the core of my guilty conscious. Yes, I know I'm probably not the direct reason they're living on the streets, but what am I doing to help the situation? Anyway, the sick side of me got a little excited that someone was ballsy enough to wander into a House office building and stand in the hallway asking for change. You think members of Congress would get the impression that there is problem if it asked them change every morning right outside their office? Probably not. I'm curious how quickly the guy got tossed out on his ass by security.