Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Because Claustrophobia Just Wasn't Dorky Enough

You know how I’m kind of a jackass? Well, strap in for this one:

The moment I found a lime in my bed, I knew it was all downhill from there.

Friday night, I had one of my Celebrations of the Mighty Uteri, in which I take several girlfriends, line them up in a pretty row, and lob prosecco and chocolate at them until they wobble. Everybody plunges from karaoke-tipsy to home-in-a-wheelbarrow sloshed at a rapid clip, and these evenings tend to wrap up pretty early.

So, I was all alone at 11:00. I gathered up the (somewhat abundant) wine glasses, found an elusive and mysterious lime tucked between my bedsheets, and arranged the empty bottles into amusing shapes. I washed a few dishes, drank water, sobered up, changed into pajamas, and decided it was time to hit the restroom.

Yes, I hereby admit that I have, on occasion, used a restroom for its intended purpose.

However, that’s not the galling admission. That comes after.

We’ll start with the fact that the doorknob wouldn’t turn, the lock was jammed, and the door wouldn’t open. We’ll continue with a little slice of knowledge: I am not kidding, or being cute, by saying I am claustrophobic. I am, to a crippling degree, unable to deal with being confined. I have my little workarounds, and I don't make anyone else suffer for it, but there you go.

So, there I was, all alone, trapped to a small space and struggling to get free. At some point, I whacked the light switch with my elbow. I was plunged into sudden and complete darkness.

...and what’s even dorkier than claustrophobia? I am also afraid of the dark. I’m pretty much night blind, and find darkness utterly disorienting. So began a very ugly panic attack in which I forgot where I was and hyperventilated for what felt like eons, but was probably mere centuries.
Eventually, I came to. I put my hands out, realized I was touching a bathmat, realized that, statistically speaking, I was probably in my own bathroom, found the light switch, and forced open the door. I got out, stood on my balcony, and breathed in enough night air to quell the panic.

You know, I’m not completely sure why I’m telling this story. It makes me seem like a crazy lady. (Perhaps no more so than usual?)

But I think everyone has had the same freakout: “I’m (AGE), single, I live alone, there’s no rescue.” My version just includes a toilet, a sink, and several layers of full-on crazy. (And, yes, no matter what age you are, tacking it onto the title of your latest freakout gives it an extra air of poignancy.)

Anyhow, like everything else that has ever happened to me, I find it all very funny. I told this story several more times over the weekend, between Connect Four and Clash of the Titans and birthday parties, and everyone was incredibly sympathetic. They all declared they would have likewise lost their heads, or, if not, they could at least cheer me up by telling me about the time they accidentally wound up on Taxicab Confessions.

So, why am I really telling this story? I think it’s fair to point out that, no matter how far we think we’ve come, we’re all still full of foolish fears and complete jackassery. Most of us are three wrong turns away from total wreckage, panic, and being trapped in a dark and tiny space that may sometimes be merely metaphorical. Those dark and tiny spaces belong to everyone, and, the faster we acknowledge them, the faster they fill with light. I also think, just maybe, it’s because:

I live alone. Why was I closing, let alone locking, the bathroom door?

Hrm. Maybe that’s the lesson.

In the comments, tell me something, anything, to prop up my shattered ego.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The 2009 Great Date-Cation

There is nothing I love more than a random self-improvement project.

Among my all-time favorites: listening to every CD I own, in alphabetical order. Reading the entire dictionary. Re-memorizing the first eighteen lines of The Canterbury Tales, in the original Middle English. Making sure I take my makeup off before I go to sleep, for 30 days in a row. Emailing one friend per day just to say hello. Paying a minimum of three compliments per day.

I live at the crossroads of Zen methodology and rampant (but highly precise) self-absorption.

So, what with things getting a little dull and all, it felt like time to seek a new project. I hereby declare the launch of the 2009 Great Date-Cation. Because, let’s face it, that’s one area of my life where I’ve made no improvements whatsoever. When your most recent breakup involved changing the locks, it’s time to take a step back and draw some conclusions.

Conclusion One: I am a lousy judge of character. This is my own fault, as I am both impulsive (bad) and have a charitable and optimistic spirit (good).

Conclusion Two: Conclusion One is terribly, terribly important, and I could have figured that one out years ago if I'd just tried a little harder.

So, here we are, hangin’ at the Man Hiatus. Until May 1, when I may consider a 30-day extension.* Depending on whether I’ve grown up a little, or a lot, or I’ve moved on to eating at least one vegetable at every meal.

*I know that doesn’t sound like a terribly long break, but as I don’t really excel at long-term planning or abstract thought, it’ll do.

In the comments, tell me about your most recent dry spell, and whether or not it was self-imposed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Amoeba Weenie: Or, Why I'll Never Scare Anyone

I’m not a Walk of Shame sort of woman. Oh sure, we’ve all had to get across town in borrowed shoes and yesterday’s makeup. But that’s just not who I am these days.

So I do more of a metaphorical Walk of Shame. I wake up on weekend mornings, steel myself with a strong cup of coffee, and review the previous evening’s outbound text messages.

They start out normal enough. “We’re at Bar X, come on down!”

Then they might turn a bit philosophical. “If I ran up and stole that guy’s dreadful hat, would I be performing a public service?”

A little later, I will start sending dirty, but sort of goofily prudish texts to my friends, generally the female ones, and most often the ones sitting at the same table. “I hope you’re wearing a thong! Rowr!”

And so begin the gibberish texts, for which I am quite famous.

However, if I pass through the gibberish phase, and am somehow still upright, things get truly weird.

Saturday, a boy my friend had been involved with behaved in such a colossally dinky way that it had to be intentional. I won't tell the story, but let's just say he deserved a wedgie. Or five. Or, possibly, ten.

I had to be somewhat forcibly restrained from going over and thumping the guy. (I don’t go psycho on my own behalf, but I’m for damn sure not going to let anyone be mean to my friends.) I also thought he ought to know he had stupid-looking hair and tragic taste in sweaters. I was given permission to send one, just one, disapproving text message.

I took a long pull of my beer, contemplated my options, and came up with something that seemed both hilarious and intimidating. We all cackled with glee.

The next morning, I slid open my phone with something that can only be called extreme dread. I expected some sort of fire-breathing mythical beast to leap out and attack me for my foolishness. I expected to be embarrassed, humiliated, run out of town on the psycho-bus, forever branded as a crazy lady.

What I did not expect was to hurt myself laughing. The text I sent was sort of like a Gypsy curse, except it involved amoebas and boy-parts and made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

"Your [unprintable] is crawling with angry slutty amoebas. Also, xxox."

So, the next time my friends decide to let me be a badass on their behalf, I will think back to the Amoeba Weenie incident, take a deep breath, and strongly consider equipping my phone with a Breathalyzer. And then I'll probably make an ass of myself all over again.

PS - When I'm not humiliating myself on behalf of my friends, I am off goading my friends into posting photos of themselves in a Snuggie. Think of it as spreading the wealth of jackassery.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crap Movie Sunday, the Center of My Sense of Self

One of the nicest things about being single is that I can embrace all of my old traditions and habits. My habits are not compatible with, well, being compatible with anyone who is even remotely normal and/or sane. So when I'm in a relationship, I'm much less of a Quirky McWeirdo. It's sad, really.

Take Crap Movie Sunday. Oh, Crap Movie Sunday, I missed you most of all!

There is something wonderful about rounding out the weekend with a big bowl of goulash and the very worst that cinema has to offer. The criteria for a Crap Movie: zero intellectual vitamins, plotting that could permanently power the Heart of Gold, and the sort of casting that makes you wonder if it was all a case of casting couch, crossed with Faustian bargain, and a mild case of the stupids.

I mean, really, 3000 Miles to Graceland? Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, and Christian Slater knock over a casino dressed as Elvis impersonators, and that’s the part that makes the most sense. And let’s not even get into the only female character, a trashy single mom played by…Courtney Cox. Leaving her son in the care of an Evil Elvis was just the tip of the child endangerment iceberg. In fact, her role was so wildly anti-woman that I wanted to find the screenwriter, seat him on a comfortable leather couch, and ask him to tell me about his mother.

Where was I? Oh, Sunday night’s feature. Flash Gordon. I fell irrevocably and madly in love with this film in the first 30 seconds. Ming the Merciless, picking out natural disasters from a menu on his dashboard. “Hot Hail” might have been my favorite.

Flash and Dale randomly crash their plane into a field, which just so happens to be owned by a mad scientist, who just so happens to need to take some people into outer space in the rocket he so conveniently keeps in his backyard. And the rocket just so happens to land on Ming’s planet, and Ming’s daughter conveniently falls in love with Flash…and, oh, I’m not going to ruin it for you. Just imagine a bunch of screenwriters playing 52 Pick-Up with random scribbles of dialogue. Or, picture the thousand monkeys churning this out to warm up for Hamlet.

Anyhow, see it. It’s glorious.

In the comments, tell me if you’re coming over for next Sunday’s feature: The Last Unicorn. Mia Farrow as that most narcissistic of mythical beasts, completely trippy villains, and more estrogen than you can wave an EPT stick at. Or, suggest some Crap Movies for me to watch.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

TMI Thursday: That Time I Fell Off a Barstool

I have a boundless talent for drunken self-injury.

Just a few weeks ago, I banged up my right arm while attempting to open my door. The weird part wasn't that I decided to cushion the blow...with my skull. It also wasn't the fact my left hand came out unscathed, because that was the hand holding my keys. It's also not that this injury came about because I decided the door did not, in fact, exist. No, the part I simply do not understand is...I'm right-handed. Why the hell was I trying to unlock the door with my left hand?

Anyhow, my most famous drunken fall occurred back in Bogota. I'd been glugging martinis at Pravda, the Russian bar, with a friend, a work contact, and my spouse at the time. We lucky four decided solid food was the better part of valor, and to go get dinner at the Italian joint next door.

We were going to have to wait for a table, so we arranged ourselves along the bar, requested a bottle of wine, emptied it, asked for another. At one point, I decided, etiquette be damned, to pour myself a fresh glass. I leaned over. At that exact moment, a waiter bumped my chair.

I fell. By which I mean, I somehow positioned myself so artfully that not only did it take me full minutes to hit Earth, my head collided with a marble floor. It hurt. And by "hurt," I mean the double vision spiraled into triple vision, angry gnomes did a spike-heeled tapdance in every corner of my mind, and...OK, just this once I'll admit that I'm out of metaphors. That's how much it hurt.

The sad part isn't the hangover I had the next day, though I will contend there are few experiences more singular than a high-altitude red wine hangover combined with an al dente bump on the noodle. The sad part wasn't that I stayed for dinner regardless, as you're supposed to stay awake after you bonk yourself on the head. (I had the veal.)

No, the sad part was the email I got from one of the previous evening's companions, mentioning that he had just gakked into a flowerbed at the Mormon Temple. After all my efforts, somebody out-jackassed me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 'o the Tequila To You

I have always had a tenuous relationship with St. Patrick's Day.

1. Whenever I wear green, people assume I am a leprechaun and begin demanding my pot of gold.

2. My name is Irish, which does not actually make me Irish. This means I spend St. Patrick's Day wincing every time someone says, "Shannon, eh? A fine-sounding Irish name, that is!"

I've developed a few dodges. I used to give out a fake name on St. Patrick's Day. "Valerie" has served me very well over the years. (A bully in sixth grade told me I look like a Valerie, and proceeded to call me that until I eventually changed schools. Where I got pooped on.)

In my mid-twenties, I became the sort of person who couldn't handle crowds. By which I mean, I get bizarre (and often funny) panic attacks in which I speculate how to evacuate the survivors in the event of a fire or explosion. Incidentally, if that were ever my job, you would all die due to my utter inability to manage spatial relations or sound even remotely authoritative.

Once the claustrophobia kicked in, I needed a new strategy. Here's what I came up with:

If you don't like a holiday, dodge the crowds and invent your own! My special holiday is Cinco de Patrick, a fantastic two-part imaginary mashup Holiday Experience. It celebrates the life and times of St. Cinco de Patrick, who rid Ireland of snakes by pouring tequila on them, thereby ensuring Mexican independence.

More practically, it means I go for Mexican food on St. Patrick's Day, and to an Irish bar on Cinco de Mayo. While the rest of you suckers pay outrageous amounts for watered-down green beer, I'll be enjoying a margarita, on the rocks, extra salt, no puking frat boys or young women working out their daddy issues Girls Gone Wild-style. I may even don a shamrock sombrero and perform a Lord of the Mexican Hat Dance.

I'm sure I'll think of you fondly. I'm also sure I'll drop-kick the next person who asks me to recite the Lucky Charms slogan.

Have fun tonight, be safe, and if you can't be safe, be careful!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Sunny Side of the Skeeve

I’m back. And, by back, I don’t really mean I’m back to daily blogging. I've chosen to stop pushing myself and admit that those days are o-v-e-r.

I mean that I’m back to being my regular, snarky, obnoxiously cheerful self. I feel better than I have in months. After all, even the worst situations can be great opportunities for absurdity and humor. Life gets pretty skeevy sometimes, but I choose to live on the sunny side of the skeeve.

Here are a few examples from last week:

Sunday, Noonish, Frager’s Hardware:

I step up to the register, plunk a new rim cylinder (it sounds dirty, it's actually a deadbolt thingy of some sort) in front of the cashier. She looks me up and down: scraggy hair, sliding makeup, tipsy, wobbly, anxious. She takes a look at the clock. She takes careful note of the earliness of the hour. She says,

Cashier: Breakup?
Me: How did you know?
Cashier: We get a lot of young women in here changing their locks.
Me: *blush* She thinks I’m young!

Sunday afternoon, Mimosa ‘o Clock, Starfish Café:

The Refugee and I celebrate Breakup Sunday in high style: brunch, mimosas, Carolina vs. Duke. We order drinks for our mascot, Mr. Rim Cylinder. The bartender makes Psycho-shower-scene noises every time he overhears our conversation, and we race to the bottom of the bottomless mimosa special. (Confidential to Refugee: You must write that Breakup Sunday post!)

Monday evening, Cleveland Park, holding up my end of the bar:

I observe the bartender fishing out an olive from the jar with his bare hands. I become grateful that I’ve never really cared for martinis. Then I ask a friend to (very briefly and from a distance of several feet) skim over all of the potentially compromising cameraphone pictures of me to verify that, should they ever come to light, at least I look pretty damn good.

Thursday, 6:30 pm, corner of M and 19th Streets NW:

Homeless guy: Hey, baby, I’d do you for free!
Me: Oh, you’re very kind to offer, but I have plans this evening. Thanks, though!

Saturday, 8:00 pm, a house party in Adelphi:

Chatting with a dad, and playing with his kid. This baby just loves me. He's laughing, cooing and gurgling out a stream of extremely shiny drool. We're getting along famously. That is, until he punches me in the head. Yes, to make my week complete, I took a beatdown from an infant.

Lessons Learned:
Beer good, photos bad, friends good, new locks good, life good. Also, babies have a mean right hook, anyone I ever date will look like a prince by comparison, oh, and don’t ever order a martini at Atomic.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Abundance of Caution

I’m a big believer in taking chances. I live my life like it’s a lottery ticket at a carnival in a perfect town. I take candy from strangers, because a stranger is just a friend I haven’t met. I assume that everyone has the very best of intentions.

Today, I’m learning that not every gamble can pay off. Sometimes, someone you trusted decides that you have become The Enemy. So, sometimes, you spend your Saturday barricaded into your home, your Sunday at a hardware store buying a new lock, and your Monday blocking him out of every corner of your Internet.

I’m probably overreacting. I am sure it’s all just a case of brittle pride, of someone trying to scrape his dignity off the floor. The past 48 hours have been blissfully calm. But I have chosen to act with an abundance of caution. I've decided that it's time to be sensible, to de-escalate, to cease all contact, to not seek closure or victory. Scorched earth. Heartless bitch. A plan for every eventuality.

In short, I am not taking any chances.

I’ll be back soon.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Yet Another Spring Blog-cation...

...see you next week! I'll be sure to bring you prezzies from Blogcation Land, where I plan to eat lots of corn dogs and maybe do some barfing on the Ferris Wheel.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Observational Stopwatch, or, Hey, Let's All Pretend I Wrote a Real Post Today

My mornings are all the same. Get up, slam a fistful of Zyrtec (I am allergic to all known vegetation), flip on the Frankenkitchen, shower, dress, name my ensemble, spackle on some Clinique, toss in a few spritzes of perfume, roll out.

(Yes, I really do name my outfits. Today is, “Woodstock Xanadu,” yesterday was, “A Scarf Turns H&M Into Prada,” Wednesday was “Doctor Who Dominatrix.”)

I have a whole Observational Stopwatch system that tells me if I’m going to be late for work. If I’m on the elevator with the Milk Slurp Twins, I’m early. If I’m on with the Overly Friendly Howdy There, Lady Neighbor, I’m late.

My walk to the Metro has another stopwatch: Fleece With a Tie Guy. He got this name because, not surprisingly, he wears a fleece over his shirt and tie. I don’t know why I find it so distressing. First off, I have very, very few opinions on male fashion (manties, man-thongs and mandals: kill me now; well-made suit: hot). Second, it’s a rather nice fleece.

If I run into him within a block of the Metro, I'm on time. But I usually have to stop and ponder as to why he doesn’t own a proper overcoat. And that always makes me a minute or two late for work. Someday, in the pursuit of punctuality, I’ll stop and ask him. “Excuse me, sir, why don’t you have an overcoat? Did your wife not buy you one?” Oh, hell, then he’ll think I’m hitting on him. How do you ask someone why they don’t have a fairly mainstream article of clothing?

Today was a little different, though. I was late because I saw a man pushing an empty stroller around, and I kept wondering if I should ask if he forgot his baby. How do you ask about that? “Does your wife have the baby?” Oh, hell, then he’ll think I’m hitting on him too, and my commute will be wall-to-wall sexual harassment lawsuits.

Lastly, I’m sad that my new job doesn’t entail the Homeless Fashion Police or One-Legged Pigeon of yesteryear. But I guess Fleece With a Tie Guy and Empty Stroller Daddy will have to do.

In the comments, tell me what you saw on your way to work today. Or tell me about those random people in the red coats who meet in Farragut Square every morning...they're kinda creepy.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

TMI Time: Let Your Geek Flag Fly

One of the most enduring maxims in life is that everybody is at least a little bit everything. Everyone’s a little bit gay, everyone’s a little bit racist, and we’re all a little bit messed up.

But few of us will admit to being even a little bit geeky. Years back, I took a job as a Community Liaison Officer at an embassy. I never developed a talent for accurately describing the State Department universe to outsiders. (I also never developed a talent for correctly spelling the word, “liaison.”)

I was explaining the new job to some friends, and one of the cooler ones busted out with, “You’re like the Deanna Troi of the Embassy!” Naturally, I called him out on his geekitude – how often does someone say something so...dorky? What was worse, though, was that I immediately caught the reference.

The first truth is this: I've spent a lot of time explaining new jobs to friends.

The second truth is that I’m a geek, and so is everyone else. In my case, it's not in any sort of technologically proficient or useful way. I am convinced that gnomes inhabit my laptop and that tiny musicians live inside my stereo.

No, I am a geek in ways that will never be profitable:

I own every episode ever of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD.
I love old-school Doctor Who. I even own an awesome Tom Baker-esque scarf.
Same goes for Red Dwarf, the animated version of The Lord of the Rings, and Mutant X.
I make a lot of jokes about Vogon poetry.
I was in the gifted program throughout school, and was actually sort of honored to be there.
I played Dungeons and Dragons until a frighteningly late age (14).
I didn't have my first kiss until age 15. This, and the previous two facts, may be somehow related.
I catch about 99% of the geek references that come my way (though I’ve never seen Firefly, so those usually have to be translated).

Finally: I have ovaries, which makes the above items about 100 times sadder.

Now that I’ve let my geek flag fly, it’s your turn. Tell me something hopelessly dweeby about yourself. I promise not to laugh (well, I'll be laughing in painful recognition).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Need an Awesome Robot

I have an amazing capacity for illness. I am allergic to all known vegetation, dislike weather, and once caught pneumonia in May. If we were cave-people, I would be dead a dozen times over.

Thankfully, I live in a modern civilization. Well, white sneakers aside, Washington is pretty modern. I can use mass transit and conduct myself to my desk job, infecting everyone along the way. I can sit at my desk and listen to the symphony of sniffles throughout my office. I can take all sorts of fancy drugs.

Here comes the problem: when I am sick, I do not want to be nurtured or held. I want to crawl off alone into a field to die, like a grievously wounded animal. I vant to be alooone.

Hence my dilemma: in this wonderfully whiz-bang modern world, why isn't there an awesome robot to make soup magically appear on my desk, give me a backrub and maybe (very, very quietly) watch some Doctor Who with me tonight?

PS - Last night, I tried to watch The Dark Knight. The DVD was scratched, and cut out within fifteen minutes. Not only was I deeply relieved, I celebrated by watching the always life-affirming The Pirate Movie. Give me a happy ending, indeed!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Yes, But at Least My Bangs Are of Average Size

Me (responding to Facebook request): Hey! You look well. What have you been up to since high school?
New Facebook Friend: Wow! You look exactly the same! You haven't changed a bit.

Note: In high school, I had a bad perm, an ass like the inside of a spoon, and dressed, er, creatively. As in, I WORE RAINBOW LACE DOC MARTENS AND CARRIED AN ANIMAL CRACKERS BOX AS A PURSE.

Conclusion: If a glance in the mirror so easily becomes a field trip into 1993, it's time for a makeover. It's time to get vacuously, unforgiveably, hilariously vain. Who wants to help me out?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Why My Ass Can't Type

Friday was about as classy as you’d expect.

That is, I made a complete and total donkey out of myself.

Yes, I held up my offer letter in the bar and boogied in my seat. I sang, "We Are the Champions." I chucked half a glass of Malbec onto my lap, and wasn’t too worried, because, after all, red is my favorite color. I woke up with my makeup still on, and my eyeliner had migrated to my earlobes.

So, basically, I did all sorts of other immature and ridiculous things, which I hardly remember and someone better not tattle on me for.

But, sadly, the most embarrassing thing I did happened after I was already home.

I tried to do the responsible thing, as in, text Jamie to say that I’d gotten home safely. However, “Home safe. Good night!” came out as:

“Aw. Thx will b rey to crask ourpxeo.”

At this point, Jamie probably thought I’d been sold out by my cabbie and kidnapped by a gang of hand-stealing bandits, and I was tapping out a distress signal with my elbows.

Naturally, he texted back to see if I was OK. Of course I was completely and totally fine, and safe and snug in my bed (nevermind that I was, uh, still in my clothes...though, unlike a certain someone, I at least removed my coat). Which is why I responded with,

“Omg, coppl!c.tnn’”

So, at this point, the gang of bandits had sawed off my elbows, and I was sending distress signals with my nose. Or, I’d sat on the keyboard and allowed my hindquarters to type for me. Who knows?

Either way, I had to call and slurrily and sleepily report that I was, in fact, home, and had arrived in one piece. I wasn’t, however, safe from a hangover so remarkable in its scope and intensity that I was in awe of it myself.

Happy Monday, everybody.