Monday, December 28, 2009
Relax! Even though I've had plenty of male roommates, this post isn't about what you think it's about. This post is about one of those things that would only ever happen to me.
The day after Christmas, my friend Justin and I decided to go have brunch at...well, for legal reasons let's call it "Smarfish Lafe." On Smarracks Grow. In Schmapitol Mill.
The food was lovely. The service was competent. After the meal, I excused myself to go use the restroom. I noticed a slightly off odor, however, as the Queen of Sinus, my sense of smell isn't that great. I also realized that by the time I walked out, my eyes were burning. A lot. I also kind of felt like I might pass out. There were annoying little itchy tingly sensations up and down my arms. And the nausea. And the headache. Oh, heavens, it was a hell of a headache.
I went home to lie down for a bit. I called the restaurant, and was informed that the janitor may have overused the bleach. By just a bit. Not by much. The person I spoke to was apologetic, but a little less freaked than I'd be if a guest called me to say they'd be poisoned by my bathroom.
After an hour passed with no improvement, I called D.C.'s poison control center. (Incidentally, Mayor Fenty? The magnet you gave me with the Important District Phone Numbers? So totally had the wrong number for the poison control center. That strikes me as a detail we'll want to get right next time. OK?)
The charming poison lady and I discussed bleach inhalation poisoning, with the probability that some ammonia had been mixed in. (Incidentally, bleach + ammonia = chlorine gas, which is apparently a chemical weapon.) Since my exposure had been less than five minutes, I was told to open the windows and that I would improve within hours.
And I did improve. I was all better by evening. But I will say my days of brunching at Smarfish Lafe are good and over.
In the comments, tell me if this is the weirdest restaurant health complaint you've ever heard.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Or it's an exercise in wondering about the Christmases that could have been. If I'd never left Australia, it would be summer right now. If I had more money, maybe I'd be in L.A. with my sister. If I hadn't gotten divorced, I'd be on my sixth year of marriage, and maybe making myself nuts looking for windup hamsters for a litter of ungrateful brats. If I'd never learned to cook, I might have starved to death. If I'd never filled out, I'd be shopping in the boy's department. Every coulda shoulda feels more and more absurd.
The end of each year feels too much like an exercise in what could have been, and what life should be. It feels unfair, like being ambushed at your annual review with mistakes you never noticed making. Most of my wrong turns took me to wonderful places. Most of my life is being lived the way I'd want it to be. I have a lot to be grateful for.
And part of that gratitude is for y'all, my readers. May you find your peace caroling 'round the tree, at Chinese food and a movie, or alone with your maudlin absurdity.
I, for one, shall be drinking Pimms Cups with any and all who are escaping familial obligations as fast as they can manage it.
Monday, December 21, 2009
The adventure began in Woodley Park, and continued in the two different places we stalled out on the way to the service. Then we pulled up to the church to discover the lot hadn't been plowed. At all. We parked in a promising-looking snowbank and went inside.
The wedding itself was beautiful...except for the mounds of snow we could see sliding off the roof in person-sized clumps, like powdery shadows of impending doom. At that point, we determined that, short of sled dogs or stealing my ex-car (a Subaru), or hitching sled dogs to my ex-car, there was just no way we were getting across the river to the reception.
A good thing, too, as the 1.5 mile journey back to the Metro was fraught with humiliation and hilarious peril. We stalled out. We got stuck. And that was before we'd even left the church. We got a tow out of the church lot by a wedding guest with ropes and the biggest truck I have ever seen. (I'm from Woodbridge. That's saying a LOT.)
I would feel guilty about getting towed, however, my years in the South have taught me a valuable lesson: anyone with a truck that big LIVES for this sort of thing. In North Carolina, if you have car trouble, at least three large men in a pickup will come along and help you out, faster than you could get AAA or a pizza. They love it - in fact, I am convinced those same three guys gave me six separate jump starts in college, and are the state's automotive guardian angels.
We got stuck in the snow enough times that it became faintly embarrassing...but no worries, there were always friendly neighbors to help push us out. We also discovered that, in the absence of traffic and law enforcement (I saw just one cop car all day), it was simplest to just run every light we possibly could to avoid losing momentum. Once we hit Connecticut Avenue, we were home free.
Once we made it safely back to my apartment, it was time to make macaroni and cheese, mix up a few mint juleps, and enjoy the weather.
How did you spend your snowpocalypse?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Where were you on Friday at 7:50 am? Were you riding an Orange Line train to Vienna? If so, you just might be the jerk who swiped my cellphone and SmarTrip.
To be specific, the phone was Red Samsung T39 slider-cheapie #2. Red Samsung T39 slider-cheapie #1 came to a disastrous end in San Francisco, where it was dropped, trampled, and swept into the trash. I had high hopes and wild dreams for #2, which I have now transferred to Red Samsung T39 Cheapie #3, which was delivered today. My transitory cellphone affection is similar to the way parents assume their next-youngest child won't eat paste or open a crack-flavored lemonade stand.
To be very specific, the SmarTrip was serial number 0834293597579something-or-other. It was precious to me, well, as precious as any piece of plastic that is not an IUD, counterfeit Romanian driver's license, or American Express Plutonium Card.
I'm sure I'll have many stories to tell about my fun encounters with Customer Service, WMATA, the phone insurance goons and more, but in the interest of time and waning enthusiasm, I instead share my cure for a very, very bad day:
Bourbon-Spiked Honey-Mulled Cider
(adapted from the Five Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook)
3 quarts apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/2 cup honey
Maker's Mark (optional for some, mandatory for me)
Pour apple juice into a slow cooker. Place spices in a cheesecloth (tied with kitchen string) or a tea infuser and add to slow cooker. Stir in honey and cinnamon. Cook on LOW for 5 hours or HIGH for 2.5 hours.
Optional Step: Stir in a splash (or three) of bourbon into each mug just before serving. Continue until all drinkers are in a relaxed and horizontal state.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
What I mean is that when you factor in roommates, slumber parties, overnight guests and so forth, I have probably been in the vicinity of 100 sleeping people. Whenever I have a party, I usually just slide air mattresses under people as they conk out. And then I perform experiments on them.
But in the dull glow of a hungover Sunday, I saw the strangest sleeper of all. A Nosferatu Sleeper. As of 3 am, he had fallen asleep flat on his back, arms crossed over his chest. When I checked on him several hours later, he was still in the exact same position.
Monday, December 07, 2009
I mean, literally. It's "Marvellous," spelled with two 'l's. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am to live next door to an adjective. This is beyond terrific, and hurtles toward awesome. My curiosity is running away with me. I bet whatever she does for a living, it's fantastic! And as a tenant association floor captain, I'm sure she's pretty darn superlative.
This is beyond excellent.
In the comments, tell me what sort of adjectives you would use to name your child.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I'm not doubting the value of equine therapy. I rode and cared for horses back in Woodbridge, spent several summers at Camp Wingaroo, and I believe there are few things more gratifying than hanging out with horses.
But, admit it. Take a deep breath, hug your inner smartass, and 'fess up: don't you get a tad giggly at the idea of rounding up a bunch of urban at-risk kids to teach them how to play polo? As in, the world's most hoity-toity rich person Biff-and-Muffy prenups-and-summering in the Hamptons sport? Like, maybe they pulled in some extra funding from the charity that teaches kids to drink tea with their pinkies sticking out? Or borrowed a business plan from the charity that teaches proper deportment at cotillion, or how to drink a G&T on a yacht? My brain is a total flood of hilarious mental images.
Though, perhaps my laughter signifies that I'm the sort of throwback reactionary who would have snorted at Carnegie's libraries. Or that I'm a raging class warrior who hates rich people. Or that I hate kids. Especially poor kids.
Nah. Most likely, I just think polo is kind of dooftastic.
In the comments, invent a charity that exposes at-promise children to the opportunity to try on their very own pair of fancypants.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I'll go first:
1. I own a copy of Dr. Laura's Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, read it several times a year, and find it inspirational.
2. I think the biggest challenge of relationships in your twenties is not really knowing who you are or what you want.
3. I think the biggest challenge of relationships in my thirties is that I know full well who I am and what I want, and have therefore become too set in my ways. (For example, I have become almost completely unable to be sociable in the mornings, and will instead zone out in front of the newspaper. Sadly, I've found that few people can deal with being ignored for hours on end.)
4. I'm grateful to the new readers who came here via the New York Times article...but I'm also grateful that my blog traffic has gone back to semi-normal. I find readership spikes a little overwhelming.
5. I get annoyed when friends suggest I be an event planner for a living, because I don't want to turn my beloved hobby into something money-oriented and stressful.
Your turn! In the comments, entertain us by admitting something awesome.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
As it happens, I have met his parents before and got along with them fairly well. I have not met his sister (Jessica) before - with whom he does not get along and who is still good friends with Lila (which leads me to think Jessica believes that her brother did, in fact, cheat).
So... what do I do here? Other than bring a hip flask of Patron for myself and a nice bottle of white for everyone else, I mean. I'd just like to be prepared for any eventuality, including snide remarks from the sisterly peanut gallery.
I think if someone invented the Truly Perfect Comeback that worked on every snide remark, advice columnists around the world would instantly go out of business.
20 percent: Your boyfriend. Does he normally back you up when there’s a dispute with his family? This is important for two reasons: 1. if you’re considering marriage, this is HUGE, and, 2. if his family sees him as someone who sticks up for you, and won’t be a pushover, then his sister will feel less tempted to make snide remarks because she knows he won't put up with it.
15 percent: You. You’re going to have to hold your head high, be friendly and interested in what she has to say, and give this woman a chance. If you’re shy by nature, this is going to be a challenge. But it’s totally necessary: if you show up for dinner all defensive and ready for a fight, you’ve already lost. You’ve gift-wrapped an excuse for her to go nuclear on her brother’s bitch queen stuck-up girlfriend.
5 percent: Random chance. Maybe something will happen before dinner that puts Jessica in a good mood, making things easier, or bad news could turn her into the haranguing devil sister from hell. Or maybe she'll catch the swine flu and miss dinner. Who knows?
In the end, all you can do is show up as your best self, and hold your head high. She may make a snide remark, in which case you have two choices: the etiquette-approved subject change, or, for the truly daring, playing dumb. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Could you please explain what you meant by that?” can make even the most toxic person fumble. But in the end, this is about how well you and your boyfriend team up to deal with outside drama...so a spat with the sister may be a good thing after all, as it can help you figure out whether your guy is a keeper.
Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
PS – I do hope, whether the cheating allegations turn out to be true or not, that you got yourself thoroughly checked for STDs. Never take chances with your health.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I usually use Evites to organize guest lists for various functions--dinner parties, cocktail parties, chili-cookoffs, Guy Fawkes rallies. I use the program not just to get the message out to my guests, but to keep track of who's coming so I can plan accordingly. However, my guests often check the invitation regularly but don't actually respond to tell me whether they're a yes, no or maybe. And of course many who do actually respond will say "yes" but not show up, or say "no" and then show up at the last minute.
For large gatherings (like a keg party or an angry torch mob) this isn't a problem, since a few more or few fewer people won’t make a difference, but this can really screw up a dinner party. And of course this happens whether or not I stress in the invitation that it is important for me to know how many will be showing up. How do I get the message across to these unreliable guests without badgering them?
Confused Latvian in Fort Fairfield
The breach of etiquette in your first sentence has me quite flustered. Guy Fawkes rally invitations are traditionally delivered via fireworks display or a row of severed heads on pikes.
The most chaotic place in the world is the intersection between Technology Street and Human Nature Boulevard (Bogota’s airport is a close second). Evites are great for all of the reasons that you mention, but they have their limitations.
1. Guests can blithely ignore them, answer maybe, say yes and mean no, or say no and mean yes. It’s like watching a congressional hearing on C-SPAN, only less exciting.
2. They’re troublesome for hosts. There is no way to disable guests’ ability to invite others, thereby creating the impression that it’s OK to invite a bunch of randoms, bring a date to a funeral, or bring a squawking devil baby to an adults-only event.
Again, this is fine for informal gatherings where you can easily roll with guest list fluctuations. But any invitation involving a limited number of slots (road trips, dinner parties) should never be issued via Evite. Instead, you’ll have to visit 1876 (the invention of the telephone) and somewhere around 105 B.C. (the invention of wood pulp-based paper).
Call your intended guests two or three weeks in advance and invite them to join you for dinner. Use the paper to keep a tally of who is coming.
Sure, calling a bunch of people in a row is annoying, especially if you’re not a phone person. But the benefits far outweigh the annoyance of being an unpaid telemarketer:
1. One-on-one interaction negates the Evite Bystander Effect, that curious phenomenon where guests check the Evite daily but never get around to responding. (Yes, the host can see how recently you checked their Evite. And, yes, it’s really annoying when you do that – it comes across like you’re waiting to see if the cool kids are coming before you can clear your busy calendar and commit yourself to attending.)
As for your unreliable guests, my first temptation is to tell you to find a better class of friends. However, good hosts cultivate a spiritual generosity that allows them to roll with the ‘maybes.’ Sometimes people can’t know in advance: they have to arrange childcare, they might have to work that weekend, they might be out of town. In that case, politely explain that you need to know one way or the other so you can plan and shop appropriately, and ask if you can check back in a week. If you put the onus on yourself to check back, vs. expecting Flakey McBailerston to sort himself out, find your phone number, and remember how to operate a newfangled tellyphone, things will go much more smoothly.
And a final note: two weeks is the absolute most notice you should insist upon for an event. Maybe three weeks, if it’s your wedding (even then, the caterers generally ask for just 72 hours’ notice for a final headcount). Believe me, I know it's agonizing to not be sure who is coming to your party. However, insisting upon a final guest list too far in advance comes across as controlling and diminishes enthusiasm for your event.
Thanks for writing in, Latvian!
In the comments, weigh in on Latvian’s dilemma, debate the merits of Evite, or tell me why I’m just so wrong that it makes your brain boil and contract away from your skull. Or send your dilemmas to email@example.com.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Want to know how to cope when your married friends start bickering at the dinner table (I mean, aside from not ever getting married yourself?). Unsure how to politely turn down a second date with Mr. I Pick My Teeth at the Table? Wondering if you can bring your newish boyfriend to the Wedding Event of the Century, names listed on inner envelope be damned?
Look no further. Well, look over here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your dilemmas and awkward moments, I'll post answers.
Disclaimers: All letters are mine mine mine, to publish, or not. I may not be able to publish every letter, because sometimes I like to gaze at shiny objects or run off to find Shermer, Illinois. All letters will be open to reader comments...though as real people with real feelings are involved, I will monitor comments to make sure everyone plays nice and shares toys. Names may be changed to protect the innocent...and the guilty. The People's Court may be shamelessly quoted. Readers may shamelessly read to the end of the disclaimer to see if I say anything embarassing, so, fine...when I was a kid, I thought Oil of Olay was Oil of Old Lady. Also, I accidentally put my underwear on inside out this morning. Happy now?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Rachel Getting Married is about recovering addict Kym (Anne Hathaway) wreaking havoc upon her sister’s wedding weekend. However, after meeting her family, you can sort of see why Kym would hurl herself into a Percocet abyss and never come out. Personally, after two hours of the cinematic equivalent of a bearhug from Mr. Van Driessen, I wanted to climb inside a bottle of Makers’ and take some airplane bottles of Absolut along for the ride.
These people are dreadful. This is the most tedious wedding ever captured on film. It drags for hours. It drags for days. It kills your spirit. It eats babies and sells crack to orphans. It takes Rush Limbaugh as gospel, compares Obama to Hitler, and buys every copy of Going Rogue. It buys non-free trade coffee and exploits child workers. It is a force of evil upon this Earth.
I should have known. I should have turned it off five minutes into the interminable rehearsal dinner sequence, in which there are performances, and performance art, and then toasts. And more toasts…EVERY SINGLE PERSON takes the microphone, and I am there to watch it. Worst of all, nobody appears to be eating anything.
The wedding itself is self-consciously and self-servingly multi-culti, like a live-action We Are the World mashed up with a Pier 1 Imports. It’s got upper-class Connecticut whites co-opting Indian wedding traditions for no apparent reason other than saris are kind of pretty.
Oh, Lord, the groom is delivering his vows. In a capella Neil Young song format. I am cringing. The wedding guests are weeping. They are happy about this development. That tells you everything you need to know about these people. They think there’s no better wedding vow than a song that rhymes “diner” with “finer.” I hate everyone. I truly do. I want to die.
Plus the luncheon and the tent and the dancing and the…good heavens, this wedding is eternal. I am sick of celebrating the happiness of you insipid artsy-fartsy twerps and your narcissistic friends, all of whom have to get up on stage and be acknowledged time and again. Cut the cake and let us all go home. I wanna go home!
Oh heavens, they’ve cut the cake, but there’s hours and hours more to go.
This is like Synedoche, New York, but worse. And I thought nothing could be worse than Synedoche, New York, which attempted to elevate "Life sucks, then you die," into high art.
In the comments, tell me if you’d want to be a guest at the Rachel Getting Married wedding. Or tell me that movie was totally heartwarming and authentic, and I just don’t get it because Jonathan Demme is an auteur and resides outside the grasp of my tiny little mind.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Yes, that's me. In the Times, like somebody respectable and newsworthy. And it's all thanks to my self-styled status as an etiquette vigilante.
My Sunday was pretty thrilling, what with the well-wishers, the shiny photo (taken by Andrew Councill, who was extraordinarily lovely), and the holycowI'mintheNewYorkTIMES!!!!! that managed to leak through the haze of the world's most brutal red wine hangover.
Except that I'm captioned as "It's polite to prowl." Eeeeessssshhhhh. And there's the whole cringeworthy thing where the reporter left out the repeated assertions I made that adults should not scold other adults, that lecturing others simply compounds the rudeness, and that I don't go around telling people how to act. I simply politely and calmly ask people to stop doing whatever it is that's so annoying, because most people mean well but are just oblivious to the world around them. I don't call people at home to enact petty revenge, like another person profiled in the article. (Reading that made me cringe like you would NOT believe.)
That said, what shall we do with my newfound fame as a schoolmarmy busybody scold? Market myself as an etiquette maven? Correct the posture of strangers with a ruler? Wear a "As Seen in the New York Times" t-shirt everywhere I go? Try to get into VIP rooms by showing a clip of the article and saying, "Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal"?
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I reserved the elevator a week in advance. However, at 10:00, I was told that no such reservation existed, and I would just have to wait because the elevator was already in use. So, we waited. Then we hung out. Then we waited. Then my CD tower disassembled itself at the slightest of touches, collapsing in a pile of suicidal plywood. Then we found a pile of broken glass behind the bed. Then we were told I could pick up the elevator key.
At 10:45, the move began. We were done by 12:00, because, well, seven people can do a same-building move in no time flat. But once the move was over, the annoyance began anew.
We started with the definitive odor of gas coming from the kitchen. We continued with three calls to the maintenance staff before any sort of response could be rallied. The clincher? When I had to say, "I would hate for my friends to explode after they were so nice about helping me move." That got a response...of sorts. Two hungover maintenance dudes popped by, turned on the pilot light, and I was done! And moved in! Victory!
Pizza was ordered, prosecco was popped open, my wedding gown was found sprawled among a pile of boxes. Our pizza party turned into an impromptu wedding as Brett donned the dress and twirled around prettily. The situation devolved when she went downstairs with me, in gown and veil, to pick up the pizzas. The pizza guy either thought Brett was having the most shotgun of shotgun weddings, or that we'd started trick-or-treating six hours early. The situation only got sillier when we took the opportunity for a bridal photo shoot/prank call to Brett's mom, and...well, it was a beautiful ceremony among the cheap beer and mishmash boxes. Never mind that Brett married a man who believes her name is "Brita."
Somewhere among all the joy, things started to go wrong. First, the power went out and I was reduced to unpacking the bathroom by candlelight. Then the hot water vanished, and after multiple calls, I was told they were "aware of the situation" and that there was "no timeframe for resolution." Then I noted that both faucets in the shower were "hot." It was like Paris Hilton's bathroom! Then I realized the dishwasher didn't have a cutlery basket, the soap dish wasn't actually any sort of dish, the oven would only open if you gave it a hard shove into the wall first, and that, really, sometimes with cheap rent you get what you pay for.
I eventually realized I wasn't angry, so much as embarrassed on their behalf.
Then I filled the nail holes of the old apartment with toothpaste.
Then I wound up with the flu.
Don't you wish you were me?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
- Has clear expectations and responsibilities for her assistants
- Rewards hard work with opportunities to grow (and a trip to Paris!)
- Expects her staff to dress for success and uphold the corporate image
- Teaches her staff about the industry (the infamous "cerulean rant")
- Doesn't yell (once you've worked for a yeller, you'll never do it again)
Sure, her expectations are sort of bonkers, the hours are long, saying "that's all" instead of "thank you" is pretty obnoxious, and the stress is extreme. But...raise of hands...who thinks being a personal assistant for a famous, high-level person in a high-pressure industry is going to be a 9 to 5 cakewalk with plenty of Gawker breaks? Nobody? Ok, then. Point made.
What cracked me up about Andy (played by Anne Hathaway in the movie) is that she really expected her first job to be sunshine and ponies, that she thought it would be OK to make fun of the people issuing her paychecks, and that she was somehow better than people who had toiled for years to get where they are. Pretty standard recent-grad behavior. Of course (disclaimer alert!), not everyone behaves that way, but enough do that the stereotype of the entitled entry-level worker holds some weight.
Of course, the job turns out to be a poor fit, and Andy resigns, which is OK. We've all taken jobs that we've regretted. Of course, it's not ever OK to quit by tossing your work-issued Blackberry into a fountain, and depart without giving notice. But, by that point, I was just ready for Andy to sack up and stop whining.
In the comments, tell me who you sympathize with more: Miranda or Andrea. Or tell me this post is about three years overdue.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Hey, a little venom makes the world go ‘round. And a lot of it knocks it off its axis, spinning us into the nether regions of the galaxy. And we all know how we feel about nether regions. So, without any further ado/lifting of the interstellar petticoats, here are my Top Home Decor Pet Peeves:
Inspirational wall decals. Whether it’s a single word, like, “Family,” or a sentiment consisting of treacle-flavored barf, such as “Family is Really Nice and Stuff,” it just comes across as a clutter of unimaginative hokum. Inspirational wall decals are for people too cheap to collect Precious Moments figurines.
Accent Walls. It just looks like the decorator got bored and moved on to something else. It's trendy, it's not all that cool...kind of like naming your child Madison and then claiming you came up with it first.
The West Elm Catalog. Who doesn’t like to flip through the West Elm catalog and imagine themselves in a world of sterile Bohemia? Who doesn’t want funny-shaped headboards and decorative octopi? Until you start reading the testimonials, which come from sanctimonious twits like the Surfer Skier who enjoys parachuting, the poor, and his girlfriend. My vision of hell is spending all eternity at a dry, no-dance Baptist wedding with the West Elm Catalog People.
Sage Green. Overdone. Annoying. I can’t decide whether it’s the Harvest Gold or Avocado Green of our generation.
Lucite Furniture. No, decorators, it does NOT make a room look airier. It makes my knees look bruisier from all the times I bang into your goofy invisible furniture.
Overly Arty Book Arrangements. Why would I cover all of my books in matching paper? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of, say, deciding which of my books I'd like to read? The people who do this are also probably the same ones who have those $300 stand mixers that never get used.
Black Leather Furniture. Why is it that virtually every man, once he starts making a little money, runs right out and buys a black leather couch? Forget, "I'll call you," the black leather sofa is the ultimate mystery of the Y chromosome.
Decorative Antlers. Unless you shot it, killed it, ate it, stuffed it, and danced on its carcass, you don't need antlers over the loveseat.
In the comments, tell me what sort of decor makes you cringe. Also, the image above is from Dictator Style, which is seriously the funniest book in the whole entire universe. It even has Saddam Hussein's collection of disturbing topless sci-fi art!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Hammer imagines I'd watch Hee-Haw with his grandma, which not only rhymes, but might be one of the sweetest things anyone's said to me in a while:
You know, I don't let just anybody get in MAH TRUK, much less insist they do so, but Shannon settled right in like my old Ford was custom-built for her. The hound dogs took to her immediately, and the fact that she's on the petite side just means we get to haul an extra cooler of beer up front. You don't need to have dropped out of the management certificate program at NOVA Community College to know that what you got right there is a win-win, I tell you whut.
When she wasn't telling us young 'uns to simmer down so she could watch Hee-Haw in peace, my grandma was always fond of saying, "Now Hammer, you make sure you surround yourself with good people." Although she never met Shannon, I'm sure she'd approve of our association. Grandma wouldn't know a blog from a bag of Fritos, but she knows that your 500th anything is a pretty big deal. I can see it now... "Good day!" she'd exclaim, listening patiently to Shannon try to explain what the hell a blog was and why a person would write one for so long - under their real name no less - and then she'd start to drift a bit, perk back up after a while, and say, "Shannon, do you think there are any stations showing Hee Haw tonight?"
And you know what? Even though there ain't nobody showing Hee Haw anymore except The Playaz, Shannon would actually make an honest effort to scroll through the listings and check. You never know, stranger things have happened. In fact, stranger things do happen. To Shannon. All the time. And because she writes every bit as well as she improvises, we're able to share in these experiences and exploits from the comfort of our own homes and offices.
It's not as fun as hanging out with her in person, but your odds of ending up on an episode of C.O.P.S. are a hell of a lot lower.
Meanwhile, J credits me with e-pimpage:
Shannon's blog is filled with things I'd like to say, but didn't think of first. But more importantly, it's a focal point for discussion. And a segue to socialization.When you read DSJ, you come face-to-face with so many of life's absurdities and strange coincidences. And incompetent Krispy Kreme clerks.When you meet DSJ, you find that there is an amazing ball of charm who will always look out for you, throws fantastic parties, and shares stories of goulash at gas stations on the Croatian-Hungarian border. Last but not not least, she's also the finest e-pimp DC has to offer :)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I met the DSJ a long, long, looooong time ago. Back in the day when the Interwebs flowed over copper wires, you had to dial into the campus’ server and when a professor asking, “Does anyone know what the World Wide Web is?” was a legitimate question. In all honesty, when my Geo 15 “The Dynamic Earth” aka “Rocks for Jocks” prof asked this question, I had no idea what the hell the Web was. (Seriously, there were a large number of young men in the class who, while they could have had a glandular problem, were most likely football players.)
Anyway, getting back on topic, the DSJ and I met after a showing of The Professional at the end of our freshman year in Chapel Hill and have been friends since. Through much of the time after graduation, though, something came between us. No, really, there was: a lot of miles. Soon after she helped me move into my first post-college, roach-infested $190 a month apartment in a town I’d promised myself I’d never return to, the DSJ herself moved on from the Southern Part of Heaven. [ed: Foggy didn't actually let me move boxes or carry anything...either from gentlemanliness or the fact that I was mostly invited along as comic relief.]
With each new job and every move we literally got further apart. Now I may not get the sequence exactly right, but it went something like this: Jacksonville, N.C. (me); Washington, D.C. (her); Indianapolis, Ind. (me); Texas (me again); Bogota, Colombia (not me); another town in Texas (sigh, me); Sarajevo (definitely not me); Washington, D.C. (FINALLY! Me); Washington, D.C. (Hey, cool! We have the same first digit in our ZIP code. Root beer for all!)
I should point out all of those moves took place between October 1998 and April 2006. Personally, I think I was about one move away from a free U-Haul rental.
Sometime in 2002, I got an e-mail saying something along the lines of “the DSJ has posted new material.” It’s been so long I can’t even remember what this space was called way back then [ed: The Diplomat's Wife], but I clicked over and liked what I read (she may have been making fun of the Camdens) and, from that point forward, kept an eye out for any new postings. I thought, “Hey, this is a pretty good way for DSJ to keep everyone up to date on what’s going on,” because, that being 2002 and all, we were all still limited to phone calls and email, none of them fancy schmancy do-dads you kids got today to keep in touch.
Her early posts set the tone then and her snark’s as fresh today as it was the day she started this joint. Hmmm, that sounds a bit…obscene, doesn’t it?
Neither here nor there, where were we? Oh, yes. Like Inigo said just before they stormed the castle gates, let me sum up since there’s too much to ‘splain. Seven years, 500-plus posts, I’ve read them all (including the 20 or so she’s taken down, so I don’t know if they should actually count), been mentioned in a couple and am continually impressed that no matter how stupid the people she writes about are (the baby stroller door stop anyone?), there’s always someone dumber out there to inspire another post.
We’ll just have to keep on reading to see if Darwin was right.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Disaffected Scanner Jockey is solely responsible for my last breakup. Well, no, that's a lie. But this blog is a large part of the reason I sought out the last person I dated. Let me explain...Shannon is obviously not an anonymous blogger. Nor does she go through great pains to avoid describing herself physically. Through the blog alone one could glean that she is a tiny redhead/brunette, depending on the month.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
In the comments, tell me what makes you happy.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I refer to these people as the Pigs of Space. Hey, I may be petite, but I do enjoy a dose of oxygen from time to time. Also, try being short in a crowd of people sometime – it’s unpleasant and disorienting to only be able to see butts and elbows. (Though if I had an elbow fetish, I would probably be transported into a state of bliss every time I changed trains at Metro Center.)
In most teeming-piles-of-humanity situations, I am crowded, jostled, squished, bumped into, and nudged to a degree that is simply not experienced by any of my friends. (Well, except the fellow pocket-size ones.)
One of my favorite breeds of the Pigs of Space are the Metro Seat-Sploogers. No, it’s not as gross as it sounds. (Though it’s still plenty gross.)
Women who sit down next to me on the Metro will use their purses to slowly splooge into my seat. Ladies, if you must carry fourteen bags containing commuter shoes, workout clothes for the gym you never visit, a week of lunches, and a two-liter of Coke, and you can’t tuck these items between your feet or onto your lap, you have deeper issues than I can fathom. (Incidentally, can anyone tell me WHY some women have to lug all of their belongings along for an eight-hour workday? Do they all share really, really small apartments with a night-shift roommate who makes them clear out every morning?)
Men will splay their legs to the point where I wonder if they’re trying to impregnate the poles, or if they have the sort of elephantitis junk that needs to ride shotgun. It’s gross and pervy and weird. (Quick! What’s the movie reference here?)
Overall, I am very generous with space and try to use my size to benefit others. I’m happy to ride hump when we’re five to a car, share a stool at the local dive, or climb into the furthest recesses of the storage closet to retrieve lost office supplies. Consideration and kindness are key concepts of my life. But there’s a point where folks are just taking advantage. There's a point where someone is trying to bully their way to more room than they really need, like a one-man McMansion. And that’s when it’s time to be assertive. Time to use tricks like the Amused Raised Eyebrow, the Gentle Nudge Back into Your Own Damn Seat, and the Fake Coughing Fit. (Even handier? An accidental stab to the thigh.)
So my question is this: If you read a news report about a woman who leaps on top of her male neighbor on the Metro and forcibly straps his knees together with an adorably trendy red patent-leather belt, will you know that it’s me? (And will you laugh, or will you chalk it all up to the demise of civility in modern society...or an accidental switch to decaf?)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I’ve built some coping mechanisms. Being too broke to ever go anywhere, for instance. But when a flight becomes necessary, I go for headphones, mild hallucinogenics, meditation and occasional walks up and down the aisle.
Except when I’m on a cross-country nonstop with a non-reclining seat and so much turbulence my teeth were sticking out of my eyebrows. Walks became impossible and the walls closed in.
What made the experience even more completely awesome was the spiky-haired hipster in front of me. He’d reclined to the point that I was tempted to dig out some chopsticks and perform a head lice inspection. After about three hours, my chest tightening, and a panic attack rolling in, I decided to take action.
I put on my best Happy Secretary voice. *tap tap* “Excuse me, would you mind moving your seat up a bit for a little while? I’m starting to feel squashed.”
Well, the look he gave me implied I’d asked something along the lines of, “Hello good sir, I was wondering if I could have your left nut, your mother’s virtue, and perhaps a cottage in the countryside.”
“Why, yes, I would mind.”
He clamped his earbuds back in place. I politely said I was claustrophobic, and that I really needed the space and air or I might have a panic attack. He ignored me while his traveling companion looked a little embarrassed (the companion, though, was in the process of crushing my next-door neighbor, so I guess jerks of a feather really do fly together).
I briefly entertained the idea of calling over a flight attendant. After all, if I had a fit on the plane it would be unpleasant for everyone. But then I pictured myself saying, “Mo-ooom, Hipster’s on my side of the car again!” I’m more mature than that.
I swaddled myself in a shawl, took deep breaths, pictured open spaces and light, and pulled myself together. After a while, I calmed down. Crisis averted. Until I heard a squeak and a clack.
The Hipster was reclining even further.
Fine. Keep your seat the way it is. I'll live. But reclining further is just being a petty, mean-spirited, vindictive little bully. I know I seem like an easy target. I’m girly and giggly and small and my voice is so chirpy that I could probably speak the language of parakeets if I only tried.
But Hipster didn’t know something important: I'm also a little sister. And, like any little sister anywhere, I know how to turn any journey into a relentless sort of hell.
I propped myself up and proceeded to dig my knees into his back for the remaining two hours of the flight.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
For the last month-and-change, I've been in ohmygodIcan'tbreatheswampedcrisisstaylatearriveearly mode at work. This has left me with very little mental energy to spare. Just so my readers don't feel left out, here are the other slack-ass ways I've been conducting my life:
1. As I walk home from the Metro at one ungodly hour or another, I wave hello to my assortment of clothes languishing at the dry cleaners'.
2. All invitations have received the same response. "I'll come if I'm not in a darkened room somewhere, stabbing myself in the nostril with Maybelline Lash Stiletto." I've never used the "maybe" response on Evite with such heady abandon.
3. All requests for help with menus, fete planning, weekend ideas, and other Queen Bee Social Chair items that I normally dive into get the response of, "Dude. Ask me again in October."
4. Mashed potatoes from a packet for dinner? I'm nostalgic for those classy days.
5. My life is ruled by mental countdowns. Two weeks from today, my hell season will be over. I will have my feet up and my hair down and my brain in utter drool mode.
So, it's not you. It's me and everyone else. I'll be back soon, and more obnoxious than ever.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Instead, I'll strike up the perennial blogger favorite (hey, did anyone ever notice how similar the words 'blogger' and 'booger' are?):
Virtually every blogger has written a post like this: "My mom/an old boyfriend/my boss/all my cousins discovered my blog and I told them to not read it! But they did it anyway. It's so disrespectful of them! It's an invasion of my privacy! Especially because I want to bitch about them at length without any consequences."
My response, now and ever, is, "Fat chance." Once you've hit that 'publish' button, you're accountable for everything you say about anyone who might stop by. That includes everyone you mock, anyone you've hurt, and the truth about any stories you tell. It's simple, really: don't write anything you wouldn't say.
And blogs are open to anyone who might stop by. You don't get to dictate your audience. Don't like it? Take it down, slap up a password, or watch what you say. I mean, really. The Internet is hardly private property.
I wish I could change my mind about these things, because it would make the second half of this post much easier to write.
Recently, I was found by someone I'd hoped could lose me forever. Someone I haven't seen in over a decade emailed with the sort of lengthy, emotion-dredging manipulative intrusiveness that made him such a negative part of my life to begin with. My response has been to not respond at all. I think that's best.
I don't know if he's changed, and I hope he has, but that's beside the point. The point is that I have changed. I've had enough love by now to know that I don't have to open up my life to anyone who stops by. I can pick and choose, something I get better at each and every year. I don't have to be that love-starved mess from long ago.
But I know I don't have the right to dictate who can and can't read this site. And I've always understood that blogging under my real name carries a price. On the whole, it's worth it, because I think anonymous blogging can make it too easy to be heartless or slippery.
Living in the open makes me remarkably easy to find. I briefly considered closing up shop or donning an alias, but we all know that wouldn't happen.
There are over six years of emotion-barfs, opinions and stories to choose from. I stand behind them all, even though I'm far from perfect and could always have further to fall. I like to think my stories are worth sharing. And I'm glad I have all of you along for the ride.
I just ask that those of you who belong in my messy past don't contact me.
In the comments, object to my repeated use of the word 'booger.' Or explain to me exactly what the hell I'm talking about. Because I have no clue.