Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best and Worst of 2008

Best Thing I Said to a Child: "Don't eat that crayon, it's yucky."
Worst Thing I Said to a Child: "Herpes!" (Babies find that word hilarious)

Best Restaurant Meal: Cashion's Eat Place with Refugee and Lemmonex.
Worst Restaurant Meal: One in which my companions monopolized the waitress, asked incessant and nonsensical questions, and agonized over each plate as if they were defusing bombs made of glazed chicken.

Best Karaoke Moment: Drunkenly singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with J.'s family in his dad's living room on Christmas Eve.
Worst Karaoke Moment: Getting up on stage at Recessions and realizing the only part I knew of "It Takes Two (to Make a Thing Go Right)" is the chorus. "It takes two to make a thing go right, it takes two to make it out of sight..." followed by mumbling and baffled silence among me and my singing companions.

Best Dating Advice Received: "You scare the crap out of people. And that's OK."
Worst Dating Advice Received: "Boys worry less about dating girls inferior to them in intellect, since it is generally expected that a girl won't be as intelligent as the boy she dates." (from 1958's best and most enlightened book, "The Art of Dating.")

Best Show: The Swell Season
Worst Show: Aimee Mann (tip: Don't go to a show of all breakup songs with someone you recently broke up with)

Best Film: Wow, 2008 was kind of a dead zone for this. But Wall-E was awesome and thought-provoking.
Worst Film: Synedoche, New York. Move past the pretentious title for a moment, and take in the sort of drear-fest that doughy male middle-aged film critics lose their minds over. Then note the rest of the audience, who are mostly saying, "Since when is 'life sucks, then you die' a novel premise for a movie?" Then count the number of people sleeping through this exploration of how it's hard out here for a wimp.

Best Day at Work: The day I got laid off, and spent the afternoon drinking champagne with Lemmonex. Way better than an afternoon of filing.
Worst Day at Work: When I found out my hours got cut, and I still had to finish out the day.

Best Date: Beer and sausages, followed by a jazz festival, followed by pool.
Worst Date: The one where not even I could get a word in edgewise.

Best Thing About 2008: All the wonderful, cutely flawed and overwhelmingly kind new friends I made.
Worst Thing About 2008: A falling out with one of my oldest friends.

Happy New Year, all of you. And remember: nothing says New Year's Day like Dramamine, Gatorade, and maybe a McMuffin if you're in real pain. See ya next year, LYLAS, KIT, and all that other abbreviated yearbook sincerity. Take care.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Get Your Helmets On, I'm About to Take Myself Seriously

I always get a little introspective at the end of the year.

Maybe it’s the deluge of Christmas letters, telling me who bought a house, who changed jobs, and the progress of Little Sally’s rehab. Maybe it’s the cold, and all the corresponding time spent indoors. More likely, it’s because I realize I’ve closed out yet another year without the faintest clue what I'm doing. So things get a little sappy while I try to sort out my messy little life.

That's also because the end of the year is my blogiversary. I began this site in December 2002, as a platform to rail against the blatant sexism and haphazard plotting of 7th Heaven. Since then, it’s had four names, 380 posts, nearly 100,000 hits (since I started keeping track in '07), hundreds of comments, one forced hiatus (the Great State Shutdown of ’06), and several voluntary ones. Those 380 posts correspond to six years of a life lived in the silliest way possible: bad television, an impulse marriage, a life of empty leisure overseas, a divorce, new beginnings, several jobs, multiple breakups, amazing friendships, and busting ass in front of a Popeye’s. This site has seen me at my most self-absorbed (er, like this post), philosophical, outraged, silly, unapologetically feminist, and, of course, happiest.

I am both pleased and appalled to say that this blog is my most enduring and intimate adult relationship.

I wouldn’t be who I am without this site. Part of that is my need for a creative outlet: I doubt I want to be a professional writer, as I would find that sort of life very lonely. But I have somewhere safe to go where I can mouth off. I can try out those meaty, fun words I love so much, like “ignominious” and “gawp.” (Sad piece of Shannon trivia: as my vocabulary comes from crossword puzzles and reading, I can’t actually pronounce the majority of the big words I use here.)

I’m even more grateful for my readers. You people who click over to see what I’m up to, whether they’re friends, old classmates, random Swedes, hopping in via DC Blogs, or folks who found me by Googling, “my boyfriend thinks I’m high maintenance.” And I’m even more grateful for those of you who comment, who choose to be active participants in this site. I’m amazed by your humor, your support, and your ability to be both classy and crass all within the same sentence. I still get a little thrill every time a new comment pops up.

Moreover, some of you have hopped out of my keyboard and joined my real-life circle of friends. Thank you for enduring my bad karaoke, endless chatter, and inability to hold my tequila.

I’ve had a few trolls, some hate mails, and some dramas. I’ve dealt with some people who, frankly, suck. I’ve had to pay a price, here and there, to speak my mind and keep this little corner alive. If I had to do it all again, though, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I realize this sounds like a commencement speech, like I’m about to hang up my blog hat and bid you farewell. Fat chance. I’ll be here as long as you stop by to see me. And when you’re gone, I’ll type alone in the dark.

I am filled with gratitude and thrilled by my fantastic luck. Thank you, and I'll see you in 2009.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TMI Thursday: Non-Instant Karma

Fine, LiLu. You got me. For you, a TMI tale of embarrassment.

Long ago, in early 2002, I was dating (my now-good-friend) Simple Math. One Saturday, we decided to drop by the now-defunct Cozy Corner Cafe for a diner breakfast. And, boy, I needed it. I'd spent the previous evening double-fisting single-malt scotch and cheap beer.

Our food came, and I broke the Cardinal Law of the Hangover: don't ever reach for the eggs first. Start with toast. I turned shades of green unknown to Crayola or Pantone. My face was a rainbow of sickly fruit flavors. I lurched out of my seat and dashed for the upstairs restrooms.

I imagine my fellow diners heard something like this: tap tap tap tap tap tap...(pause for turning at the landing)...tap tap tap tap (I clearly remember exactly four stairs)...STOMP STOMP STOMP (running down the hall)....SLAM! (restroom door closing)....Bleeeeeeeeaaaaaarggggggh! (no explanation necessary).

I expelled the contents of my digestive system (in what turned out to be the men's complete the humiliation). I staggered downstairs, and returned to the table to find that Simple had settled the check. Before I had a chance to warn him, Simple headed up to the men's room. After he left, two waitresses sidled over.

"So, how far along are you?"

Forgive me, oh, forgive me for this....

"About two months."

They looked to my ringless hands, and clucked sympathetically. Word of my ignominous illegitimate imaginary pregnancy flew about the restaurant. Simple returned to find a collective Waitress Death Stare. It's a good thing we'd already eaten, or he might have gotten some DNA with his omelet. At any rate, he never got good service there again.

But that's not the punchline. More than four years later, I was road-tripping around the South. I realized I was close to Simple's hometown, so I rang him up and badgered him until he told me some fun places to go.

"Oh, go get a burger and a soda at this one diner. You'll love it."

I went to Simple's "diner," sat down at the counter, and wondered why I was the only woman there. I also wondered why all the locals were staring at me as if I was wearing a fedora made of human entrails.

That's because it wasn't a diner. It was an illegal off-track betting parlor.

You win, Simple. You win.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Hell That Is My Safeway

I go to the market several times a week. And several times a week, I waste a few more of my precious hours on earth, grinding my teeth and forcing a smile like a Valium-addled 1950's housewife.

Problem one? The customers. I am surrounded by the sort of people who have never bought groceries before. They dicker over prices, they run back for "just one more item" right as they are being rung up, they fail to notice when their purchase is complete and gawp at the cashier. Note: in our capitalistic society money is exchanged for goods and services.

Moreover, every line has the Complainer. This person sighs loudly, shifts, nestles their way into your personal space, and whines their way through the entire grocery purchase procedure. The Complainer often fails to realize that their actions are having the opposite effect of what they intended: instead of speeding things up, time slows to a slurping crawl.

Problem two? The cashiers. Now, I believe all honest work has dignity. And anyone who can wear a smock and stand on their feet all day is worthy of my respect. But heavens.

Thursday, I was stuck with a Food Molester. This woman, who was clearly new to the grocery game, felt she had to manhandle every item in my basket. I spent my walk home imagining a sort of vegetative group therapy, in which the produce section wept over its collective deflowering. The cilantro accused the cashier of date rape, the tomatoes got a sultry spanking, and the green onions will never be the same.

Sunday, however, was a topper. Wow. I ran in for some flour, saw a short "Express" line, and was ready to go. However, just as I was about to be rung up, a uniformed Safeway employee butted in front of me. "Oh, I was here before," she said, breezily and to the opposite of all evidence and logic. She then spent ten minutes arguing with her fellow cashier over the prices of various products. (I would think someone who worked there would already know this stuff.) I had lemon bars to speed-produce, my boss' party to attend, and a boyfriend waiting patiently in the parking lot.

"Look, I'm sorry, but I'm in a terrible rush, can we speed this up somehow?"

Answer: a synchronized pop of gum, two sets of rolled eyes, and the sarcastic slowness of four hands doing a Happy Hands Club wave of helplessness.

My options are pretty limited. I could stop eating entirely. That's the cheapest route, for sure. I could go to a different grocer, except for that whole thing where I don't have a car. I could order groceries for delivery. Or, I could complain about it on my blog, ask for your stories, and feel just a bit better.

I think I'll take the last option. In the comments, tell me your most painful tale of grocery woe.

PS - As some of you know where I live, please avoid giving out the name of my neighborhood. Stalking is not very awesome. Also, if a flood of would-be stalkers comes to my Safeway, the lines will be that much longer. Thanks.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Thoughts: Career Trajectory Edition

I wonder if my (highly variable, largely downward) career trajectory might not be completely due to outside forces. Maybe I have a little, tiny bit to do with it. Take, as one example, the following phone conversation with my staffing agency handler.

Me: Good afternoon, Shannon speaking.

Handler: Hi, just wanted to let you know your job site will be closed from Christmas to New Year's.

Me: Thanks for the heads up, my supervisor had mentioned something about that.

Handler: So we'll try to find intermittent work for you that week.

Me: Great! Just please don't schedule me for New Year's Day. I'll be hungover. (sound of colleagues cackling in the background)

Handler: ...

Me: Have a great weekend! I'm off to happy hour.

Then, a one-woman version of the sort of fights couples get in on their cab ride home from parties:

Shannon's Brain: Hey, Shannon's Mouth, please don't ever take a call while assembling a coatrack with your bare hands, on Friday, fifteen minutes before closing time. Also, could you please consult me once in a while before activating?

Shannon's Mouth (to colleagues): Hey, guys, check it's beer o' clock!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Con Artists Have All the Sweet Ideas

Ever feel like all the good scams are taken? I mean, really, my creativity is shot and I just don’t know how to fleece people any more. Let's look at the evidence:

First up, the Bogota Money Inspectors. Those guys rock – they come up in pairs, and claim they have to “inspect your money” to see if it’s counterfeit. Then they declare that it is, in fact, fake, take your money, and even give you a receipt. It’s genius.

Another genius? Anyone who has ever smuggled a monkey.

I remember being disappointed in Sarajevo, because all the Roma really managed to do is pick pockets and aggressively squeegee my windshield. I felt like I’d come all that way, at the very least they could do a few tricks before separating me from my wallet.

Next up is the New Orleans Classic: “I bet you ten dollars I can tell you where you got those shoes.” “You’re on!” “You got them on your feet. Pay up.”

Back home in Washington, we have the Fleece the Tourists Game. A cursory review of Craigslist tells me that I could rent my piddling studio for amazing sums to people willing to pay any price for a slice of history. Then I could fly off to the Maldives, and return to…an enormous clusterfunk jam of four million of the sort of people who stand on the left side of the escalator. No, thank you. I think I’ll spend the upcoming Touron Apocalypse under my bed, nibbling on my Economic Apocalypse supply of canned goods and gold bullion.

Also, a further review of Craigslist tells me I could significantly boost my income via a boob job and some yodeling lessons.

Politics is the heart and soul of the con. My first political consulting client was a man by the name of FoFo, who was implicated in a gay prison phone sex scandal in which his uncle reaped millions and a judge turned up dead. (The incumbent, however, was miraculously sleazier...he refused to support his illegitimate mentally handicapped son on the grounds that, "The boy ain't retarded. He's just lazy.")

And now, we have Governor Blagojevich, the man who makes my heart sing and my spellcheck explode. This guy tried to sell a Senate seat, use the Cubs as leverage to bully journalists, and set his wife up with some sweet corporate board gigs. The breadth of the accusations against him aren’t that shocking, really, when you consider it’s Chicago. But it does tell me that it’s all been thought of. It's all been done.

The world has run out of ways to fleece people. It’s sad, really.

In the comments, reaffirm my faith in humanity. Come up with a fantastic scam.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Which I Seek Meaning, But Find Unflattering Separates

I don't share. I'm possessive, jealous, meticulous, controlling, and downright scary.

I'm not talking about men. I'm talking about closets. The two are closely related, however, and in more than just the Larry Craig sense.

That's because one of the biggest moments in a new relationship is when you offer up a small portion of turf: say, a drawer, a shelf, or Herzegovina. I went upscale and gave J. his own little closet corner, with hanging shelves and a basket for sundries (hey, if I'm gonna give up turf, it's going to be under my own exceedingly anal-retentive terms).

But first, I had to make space.

I disposed of a collection of button-down blouses. I don't know why I even bought those, as nothing creates a boob plateau on the already A-cupped like a button-down. Blouses make me look like John Edwards, except with a snappier haircut. So, no real loss.

But then we got to the weird stuff: my mother's wedding gown, which is a hand-embroidered hippie monstrosity. I wear it on Halloween sometimes. My wedding gown, which is lovingly preserved in such a way that it looks like Headless Me in a Box. A shoebox of my sister's old school reports, helpfully labeled, "Skye's Crap." My old school reports, including one from kindergarten claiming I have "issues with spatial relations." Coats I never wear. Dresses that don't fit and probably never did. Dresses I wore once (like, the, gown.) And more, and onwards. The absurd jumble of a life lived in the silliest way possible.

A more insightful blogger would find meaning in all this: "making room" in a literal and figurative sense, to allow a new relationship to grow. She'd find symbolism in these bits of family, past relationships, and prior selves. She'd set up her little Boyfriend Corner with a weepy sigh, a sense of purpose, an exploding heart, and a wry smile. Then she'd tell you all about it and you'd each come away feeling like you've learned and grew and changed. Like dandelions on a sunny field, while the cows do their cowlike mooing in the gooey twilight. Or something.

But that ain't me. So, instead, I'll tell you how I announced the Grand Opening of the Boyfriend Closet Corner:

"This is where your stuff goes. You have shelves! This is your basket. Now I don't have to look at piles of stuff everywhere. Cool?"

Clearly, I haven't learned a damn thing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bah, Humdrum!

I'm not a holiday person. Christmas music is the auditory version of the world's most boring cocktail party: all small talk, repetition and tiny thoughts. I've never seen It's a Wonderful Life. Travel, crowds, and lines give me panic attacks. I can't bake cookies, as I lack counter space, a reliable oven, or the inclination to swan about my tiny kitchen, measuring and sifting like some sort of prissified dork.

The only hooray of the season is that I can put on a pretty dress, swallow up huge portions of free booze, and call it, "networking." I have several "networking" events this weekend, for which I will need a pair of shoes.

And that's the tragedy of it all: I can't find the shoes I need. I went to the DCUSA complex in Columbia Heights with an ample budget of $25, and hit Target, Marshalls and Payless. All had satiny party shoes.

Let me correct that statement: All had satiny, strappy, OPEN-TOED party shoes. Because what I really want is to run around in 35-degree weather in sandals and no stockings, with my pasty white winter skin on full display. (My deeply tanned summer skin is a slightly less flourescent shade of white, more of a bony ecru with a hint of shimmer.) Why can't these emporia of holiday cheer stock something, I don't know, wearable during the holidays?

Garghhhh! Thanks for ruining Christmas, Target! Or, rather, thanks for being a minor logistical hiccup in my master plan to slosh my way through the weekend, lurching at people and hopefully attempting something godawful-but-hilarious, like licking my boyfriend's boss.

In the comments, please tell me I can wear Chuck Taylors with my party dress. The high-tops are dressy, right? Or are low-tops classier?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Netflix Says I Should Watch Better Movies

I have long thought that the worst job ever (even worse than elephant washer or P. Diddy’s personal waxer!) would be "film summary writer" for DVDs. You know, the guy who writes that blurb on the back of the box that says, “Come join the adventure as these two kooky garbagemen/repo men/space aliens do stuff no one cares about, and learn valuable life lessons as a result!”

I believed this, until I took the time to read the blurbs from Netflix. These guys are having the time of their lives. They’re also performing a public service by steering you clear of the truly dreadful.

Just check out these samples, taken from my actual Netflix queue (shut up).

Red Dawn:
A group of high schoolers witnesses Soviet and Cuban paratroopers descending on their small Colorado town, setting off World War III. The teens -- led by Jed Eckert-- take food and whatever weapons they can find and hightail it into the hills to wait things out. But with the communist invaders on their trail, Jed and his young compatriots decide to launch a guerilla campaign and strike back.

There’s the factual aspect of it, the mention of “Jed Eckert” (one of my favorite character names ever), AND the political statement of refusing to capitalize the word, “Communist.” Lovely.

And, now, Xanadu:
Concerned about angst-ridden artist Sonny Malone, Zeus dispatches winsome muse Kira to Earth to inspire the painter. Kira hooks Sonny up with wealthy Danny McGuire -- a musician Kira buoyed decades earlier -- and the trio revamps a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. Blending nostalgia and 1970s glitz, Xanadu includes tunes by Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra.

Do you not want to run out, right now, and rent Xanadu? You don’t? That’s because the brilliant minds at Netflix created a mashup of all the worst things about this film, and about film in general: “world’s coolest disco roller rink,” “winsome muse,” and “includes tunes by Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra.”

But, really, the genius reaches its pinnacle here:

Programmer Kevin Flynn's video games are stolen, and with help from his friends, he tries to hack the Master Control Program to prove CEO Ed Dillinger ripped him off. But the MCP pulls Flynn into its world, where enslaved programs fight on the "game grid." An amazing mix of Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Ben-Hur and German expessionism.

Amazing? Mix of Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Ben-Hur and German expressionism? Throw in a Mr. Belvedere reference, and I’m sold. Also, I had always thought of Tron as more of, “That really inadvertently funny computer movie with a distinctive visual style approximating that of the world’s most boring rave club.”

So I have a new career goal: blurb writer for Netflix! I mean, after all, I have a knack for this sort of thing. Just yesterday, I told a supermarket cashier that Wall-E was a, "post-apocalyptic robot love story where even the cockroach is cute.”

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fake Pregnancy Friday: My Dream Self Strikes Again

Months ago, a friend of mine dreamed about me. Not in any sort of hot or sexy way, no, he dreamed that I stole a bunch of groceries.

That day, we learned that my dream self is kind of a selfish beeyatch. And it's gone downhill from there. In my latest nocturnal adventure, I faked a pregnancy.

I didn't do it as some sort of grand social experiment. I didn't do it to con a man into proposing (from personal experience, all it takes is a huge bottle of Baltika). I didn't do it for attention, for the maternity leave, or even to use the Stork Parking or Metro Priority seats.

In my dream, I faked an entire nine-month, barf-and-bloat pregnancy to compete on a reality show. I lied to my boyfriend, family, friends (you were there, and you, and you, and you!), coworkers, landlord, and pretty much anyone else I could sink my claws into. I sat through an interminable imaginary baby shower for my unfit unwed motherly self, where I had to play appallingly embarrassing games, all while surrounded by cameras (the cameramen pretended to be from that Baby Story show).

The worst part is that I didn't even win. My fake pregnancy wasn't sufficiently convincing, and I lost to a woman who could make her navel go from innie to outtie with sheer willpower.

Come to think of it, losing was the best outcome. The prize was a Chinese baby and I'm clearly an unfit mother.

In the comments, I dare you to make sense of my dream.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

First, Let's Kill All the Thesauri

One of the most thrilling aspects of administrative work is my happy fun time in the Customer Service Vortex.

That first sentence wasn’t sarcastic. It’s really very fun. I spend all day calling people, being transferred to people, and having those people transfer me to other people, until I’ve met 200 new friends and wound up back where I started. It allows me to put on my “Secretary Voice,” the cheery/don’t mess with me “ain’t my first time at the rodeo” attitude.

My favorite people are the postage meter people. People who know postage meter people? The luckiest people in the world. These guys turned chaos into art. It’s a rabbit hole, a mirror, a funhouse of spectacular and cheery incompetence.

Amazing Feat #1: The super-special “high priority” customer service hotline. Which sounds suspiciously like a click, dead air and a dialtone.

Amazing Feat #3: The ability to continue to list our account as Cleveland-based, no matter how many times I explain that I am not, in fact, in Cleveland.

Amazing Feat #4: They split our (very simple) account into three separate accounts, with different account numbers, none of which seem able to interact with any of the other accounts. (People with disassociative identity disorder know that they have alter egos. Postage people, however, lack those necessary alter-ego communication skills.)

Amazing Feat #5: They have totally different setups (and hotlines, and account numbers) for “Renting” and “Leasing.” Yes, folks…ignore everything the thesaurus ever told you. Renting and leasing are totally different concepts.

Amazing Feat #6: That none of their staff would have noticed that there was no Amazing Feat #2.

At this point, I’m thinking that if I start flashing people, it might get us a postage scale. Or a restraining order. Either one.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Etiquette Guide for the Modern Holiday Mooch

Thanksgiving ranks high on the Shannon apathy-meter. It's not that I'm hostile to the concept, or that I have anything against turkeys or gratitude. It's that if I cared any less, I'd slip into a coma. And die. And then what would y'all do? Oh, right, you'd assume I was on hiatus again. And then you might have a tasty sandwich.

Put your sandwiches down, and let's get back to me. When you're a hearty puree of Eastern Cherokee, Welsh Aussie, and Hessian mercenary, the Pilgrims aren't too big a deal. My family celebrates the holiday by ignoring one another from our opposite coasts and multiple nations...except for the occasional inappropriate text message exchange.

Me: Happy Thanksgiving. Now go celebrate the annihilation of our ancestors!

Skye: Nothing says yay genocide like turkey!

From there, I usually either get drunk and play Grand Theft Auto, or I get adopted for the day. I can't remember the last time I spent Thanksgiving with a blood relative.

Over the years, I've become something of an expert at spending holidays with other people's families. Here's the summation of all my wisdom. I like to call it the Etiquette Guide for the Modern Holiday Mooch:

DO: Bring booze. I usually bring a bottle of wine, and maybe a specialty beer like Chimay. If your hosts are vehement nondrinkers, bring a generously-sized, yet discreet, flask. You know, just in case things get gnarly and you're reduced to hiding under a table and taking a few nips while you play with the dog's favorite bouncy-ball.

DON'T: Wear boots if there's any chance your hosts will ask you to remove your shoes at the door. It is impossible to look dignified while simultaneously shaking hands, avoiding the hyperactive dog, and shimmying your way out of a pair of three-inch knee-high boots. However, if you face-plant, most people are nice enough to find it endearing.

DO: Bring a gift for the hostess. A batch of fudge in a festive drugstore tin is easy and cheap (10-oz bag Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips, can of sweetened condensed milk, melted together in a saucepan over low heat, stir in a tablespoon of vanilla, pour it all into a 9 by 9 pan, chill overnight, chop it up, and you're done).

DON'T: Get visibly drunk. You want to spend the day with a faint glow, not a full-on radioactive liver. Pacing, my dear, pacing!

DO: Offer to help. Bonus points: Time your offers so cleverly that you, oops, never quite get that chance to help.

DON'T: Mediate family disputes, even when asked. ESPECIALLY not when asked. As the referee in more than one onion riot, I can vouch that there are no winners. There are only people with onion bits in their nostrils.

DO: Try a taste of everything, even if it's not necessarily what you'd normally eat. No one likes a picky eater. However, if you have allergies, discreetly ask the cook if any of your Dreaded Ingredients are there - if they are, good-naturedly eat something else.

DON'T: Play fetch with a toddler. Apparently, this insults their innate personhood. (Children aren't people, but I digress.)

DO: Find and befriend the Drunk Uncle. This person may actually be a Mormon teetotaler fourth cousin, but he'll still be the guy who finds everything amusing and wants a heckling buddy for the day.

DON'T: Engage in political or religious debates, even when pressed. Aside from being tacky to discuss either at the dinner table, it's bad for the digestion.

DO: Take off a whole bunch of time off from blogging and expect your readers to squeal like Japanese schoolgirls upon your return. I'm back, bitches.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Here's Your Box...Go Start Your New Life!

In my last post, my life was in the process of flying off the rails. Nowadays, the rails are gone completely.

I lost my job, just in time for both the holidays and the greatest American economic collapse, the last time our economy collapsed? I can't keep track any more.

I'm still finding all sorts of silver linings. The afternoon I got the "Here's your box, but try to think of this as an opportunity!" talk at work, Lemmonex and I barreled through much of my leftover birthday champagne, and sang along with the infamous "Hot Sundae" video on the "Jessie's Caffeine Pill Downward Spiral" episode of Saved by the Bell.

Good news is always abundant. My dad's health is improving rapidly. The lovely Lady Brett hooked me up with a temp job (one perk of being an admin: you can always, always temp). My friends rock. And my boyfriend has been a truly amazing source of support.

But things are still stressful, and I'm not much for the emotion-barf. So I'm staying on hiatus for a bit longer. I put up this post to explain why I'm not posting, like a Mobius strip of self-indulgence. I'll be back soon...bad times don't last forever.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Me for a Day? Good Heavens, WHY?

The dog didn’t eat my password.

I haven’t been sprawled on a beach somewhere, drinking fruity girly drinks. Sweet alcohol gives me a stomachache, and I’m at high risk for skin cancer (thanks for being Australian, Mom! I’ll also have you to thank for the cataracts, the paranoia, and the Welsh inbreeding).

I haven’t been off experiencing fabulous things, just so I could brag about them later. Instead, I’ve been weathering one of the more hellishly oddball storms of my 32 years.

First, my hours (and salary) got chopped in half. Then, I got sick and my adorable 200-year-old doctor put me on Anthrax Antibiotics for ten days. Then, my dad’s cyborg surgery had complications, and I spent a week semi-planning to semi-move to North Carolina, for the semi-time being. Oh, and I woke up Sunday morning with a cold. Like the cherry on top of a bad-luck sundae, I’m hacking and sneezing and not altogether pretty right now. And, oh, I almost forgot to mention that Aunt Flo has stopped in for a visit. (TMI? Never! But, "not pregnant" is always one for the plus column.)

Of course, there are a lot of good things happening in my world. Good people, the four bottles of Champagne rattling about the bottom of my fridge, cupcakes for breakfast, the new slats on my bed, the uh...other thing going on that I'm not telling you about. Nyeah.

But, overall, my Optimism-Meter is running low, and I don't want to torture y'all with my sad-sack not-currently-amusing existence. Life needs to get a hell of a lot funnier before I'll have much to say.

Or, you people could step up and be funny. To that end, I’m recruiting guest posters, at least until I can get my act together. (Well, not COMPLETELY together, because y’all live to watch me metaphorically faceplant my way across every aspect of my life.) Or you can write me for advice - I do love telling y'all what to do. Either way, I'm outsourcing this blog for a bit. So step on up and be my Indian call center, my Malaysian child laborers, my Temp-a-Tronic no-wage workers.
Submissions should go to

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My Failed Marriage Has No Market Value

I spent my 32nd birthday as the good Lord intended. Hungover, and trying to sell off the detritus of my failed marriage.

I went up to Friendship Heights to attend a jewelry and precious metals purchasing event. Picture Antiques Roadshow without the cameras. Picture crusty grandmas with the dinner plates that belonged to THEIR crusty grandmas, used to hold generations of depressing butterscotch candies. Picture taking a number, sitting down, and waiting as the woman next to you frets and frets until you can feel your blood pressure screaming for mercy.

Eventually, my number was called. I sat down across from a really adorable 12-year-old buyer who looked like he’d been bussed in special from the local jeweler magnet school.

Buyer: And what do you have today?
Me: It’s a wedding set, 18 karat white gold, from an upscale jeweler in Bogota. I’ve included the certificate and the receipt.
Buyer: It’s very clean.
Me: That’s because it’s been in that box for several years. I do take it out every divorceaversary, place it in the center of my floor, and do a tribal dance of joy to celebrate my freedom.
Buyer: And how does that work?
Me: Pretty well. Except when I don’t get my left leg exactly right, and it rains for the next three days.
Buyer: Ah. So, here’s the bad news. The stone is smaller than what we’re looking for, and we don’t really resell wedding rings unless they’re antique.
Me: You mean people aren’t clamoring for jinxed wedding sets?
Buyer: No, at least, not ones with a small center stone.
Me: I knew I should have let my ex buy me a bigger ring. Next time around, I’ll be more materialistic.
Buyer: So, basically, we’d break this down and sell it for parts. Like a Buick.
Me: Or a dead body. And how much are these parts worth?
Buyer: If I make you an offer, you’ll be insulted.
Me: I guarantee I’ll be amused, not insulted, by whatever offer you make.
Buyer: $125.

You know, I almost did it. Just so I could frame that $125 check and hang it up on my wall.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me...Thanks to the American Voter

I jolted awake at 2:00 in the morning, another year older (I'm 32 today) and with a fabulous birthday Obama victory!

Thanks, America. It's just my size, exactly to my taste, and totally makes up for those times you chose a president based on who you'd rather have a beer with. (And then, to complete the cycle of stupid, you decided you'd rather have a beer with a teetotaler. Sigh.)

I spent Election Night sprinkling myself in free booze at the Qorvis the point that I said "excuse me," to the wax Obama. I also wore that Washington classic, a name tag. Except mine said, "Anne Chovy," and my date's said, "Benjamin Dover." I also told an FCC employee that he ought to auction off the Janet Jackson boobie screenshots on Ebay. I figured I'd get as much out of the end of Year 31 as I possibly could.

I'm spending today off work, lounging, and possibly a little hungover. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Silver Lining in My Cloud of Superiority

I’ve been looking for silver linings. Upsides. The good news. There has to be something positive in having my salary cut in half.

I can vote in broad daylight. My precinct is in the projects. If you follow the crime reports, look for the number of robberies and beatdowns that happen within one block of my polling location. Yeah…I lived in Bogota and I’m worried.

I can obtain amusing second jobs. I’m debating applying to be a CVS clerk. While I’m worried about possible permanent damage to my IQ, I’ve always wanted to wear a smock.

Daytime drinking. Who’s up for starting happy hour at 2:00? Give me a call, I’m down for it.

Not having money is the fastest path to being better than everyone. My impoverished state allows me to sit here on my cloud of superiority and mock you soulless consumerist nitwits. I can’t believe how much useless crap you buy. You are all that is wrong with America!

My apartment is the cleanest it has ever been. My refrigerator is stocked, I have all the time in the world to make Crock-Pot comfort food, and I’ve even ironed some clothes.

Bad days build character.

I get to keep my health insurance.

Half a job is better than no job at all.
My friends rock.

I think it’s going to be OK.

Photo credit: Jeremy Brazell

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes, It's Not that You're Paranoid...'s that your job is being reduced to 20 hours a week.

Worrypalooza in Anxiety Town

I’m a bit of a worrywart. It’s my own fault. I read the Gloom and Doom (aka, Business) section of the newspaper every day. I drink too much coffee. I don’t get enough rest. And, whenever I try to meditate or do yoga, I get bored and start worrying all over again.

Anxiety makes me feel better. It’s an ice-cold hug from an inconstant lover. It’s a little slice of control in my crazy world. It’s just…my way of doing things.

I spent much of yesterday worried sick. The least of my problems was that the iron might have been left on. If the iron was on, it was also probably face down on the rug. Meaning it was burning the rug. And then my entire sale rack wardrobe would go up in flames.

And now follow the bouncing ball, chain reaction freakout: If I don’t have clothes, I can’t go to work. And if I can’t go to work, I can’t pay off my student loan. Can the repo men take my college degree? And what if I can’t pay rent? Not that it matters, as I’d be living inside a burned-out hulk of an apartment with winter on the way.
Maybe I should become a survivalist. I could live in a shack and grow my own food. There’s the ticket. But then I wouldn’t have friends. Unless I could get my friends to come live in my shack, so we could be our own little commune. But then we would have to sell those stupid, “Stop Bitching…Start a Revolution” t-shirts. Then I would wonder what’s so revolutionary about 100% cotton, and if selling t-shirts is just a more commercial way of bitching. Then the universe would implode from the paradox, and we would all die horribly explosive deaths.

So what have I learned? Easy. No more cheese dip before bed.

In the comments, tell me what you worry about.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So Very Unsexy, on a Scale of 1-10

My dear friend Foggy sent me an article called, “Five Times You’re Sexy to Men.” The usual suspects are there: when you smile, when you flip your hair, when you’re a drunk chick on prom night, blah-de-blah. Most of these, we already knew.

So I thought I’d subvert the script, and list five times I was NOT sexy to men, and rate them on a scale of 1-10. Awesomely, they all occurred in the last 24 hours:

1. I told the Blond's readers that my safety words are, “OUCH!” followed by, “The hell?” Why bother with a code word when you can get right to the point? Unsexy quotient: 7.5

2. This morning, I freaked over the mysterious relocation of the toothpaste, and turned the entire bathroom upside down to find it while muttering to myself and yanking at my hair. (I go a little bonkers when I can’t find something.) Unsexy quotient: 4
3. I used generic Windex to clean a recalcitrant DVD, after popping store-brand Claritin and pouring a glass of fancy Pennsylvania wine. Cheapskates are hot…right? Wrong! Unsexy quotient: 6

4. I called my dad to see how his cyborg surgery went, and, upon hearing Dad’s sad, scratchy, tube-down-the-throat voice, demanded he perform some tunes from the Shaft soundtrack. That’s me, Daughter of the Year. Unsexy quotient: 3

5. When I brushed my teeth last night, I spread some of the foam around and pretended to be a rabid dog. Unsexy quotient: 10, possibly 11.

Oh well, at least I find me sexy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Need to Embrace My Inner Grody-Girl

Aside from my disco nap of a marriage, I’ve spent the last decade living alone. I love it. If I ever get remarried, my husband will have to rent the apartment next to mine, and we’ll carve a doggy door into the drywall.

My décor is exactly how I like it, I don’t have to use any of the top shelves if I don’t want to, and nobody has to know how many sailors slept over last night. I can categorize my skirts by length, have bourbon for dinner, or only change the sheets upon the changing of the seasons.

But I don’t really take full advantage. I don’t know whether it's because I’m a recovering housewife, my inner Miss Priss is a domineering witch, or I've lost my ability to really grab life by the man-parts. But today’s post by Lemmonex made me think of all the living alone clichés I have yet to embrace:

I don’t walk around in my underpants. Nor do I dance around naked to Justin Timberlake. (I do dance around to "Mmmmmbop" while fully clothed.)

I don’t let the dishes pile up until they ooze their way across the entire apartment.

I don’t eat tacos over the sink.

I don’t drink milk out of the carton.

Worst of all, I CLOSE THE BATHROOM DOOR. Sometimes, I even lock it.

That last one makes me squirm with embarrassment. I am, amazingly enough, grossed out by the fact that I am not gross enough.
Does anyone have suggestions on how I can make my loner lifestyle a little more disgusting? Have you ever developed any living alone mannerisms, and exactly how icky are they? Scale of 1-10?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Say 'So Long' to Your Civil Liberties?

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, revolutionary, or alarmist. I don’t think fluoridated water is a form of mind control, I’m pretty sure Barack Obama is not the Antichrist, and I doubt Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk occurred on a soundstage in Texas.

But Metro’s announcement of random bag searches definitely got my attention. There has to be more going on than what we've been told.

I typically don't mind searches, as long as they're not onerous or silly. Airports can run me and mine through as many machines as they could ever want. In Bogota, I would be searched an average of five times before I could board a plane (and that's with a diplomatic passport). A man with an Uzi would root through my handbag every time I went shopping at Andino Mall, and men were patted down before we could enter a club. But that’s just part of life in a country that’s been at war for generations.

But America isn’t Colombia. And this bag search policy is laughably ineffective. You can refuse to be searched, leave, and walk the two blocks to a different entrance. The random search policy is all for show, and the show itself is going to cause rubbernecking, anxiety, and delays.

And I haven’t even gotten to the real meat of it: random searches are an affront to who we are, our Constitution, and our culture. If I’m just trying to get to work, what law have I broken? Why are my movements being restricted? Where’s the probable cause? I refuse to play a role in the dissolution of my right, as a citizen, to go wherever the hell I want for whatever reason I see fit. Moreover, I refuse to turn the most ordinary part of my day, my ride to work, into a security theater freakshow.
I understand that terrorism is a very real risk. I've lived in Washington for long enough, and read enough newspapers, to be highly aware of that fact. But that's the risk we run as members of a free society. I'd rather take that one-in-a-million-billion-whatever chance of getting blown to bits than the sure odds of seeing my normal, workaday life irrevocably altered by the infringements of a police state.

So what will I do if I get pulled aside for searching? Simple. Politely refuse, hand over a printout of the Fourth Amendment, and leave. I can always walk, use another station, or take a cab. Inconvenience is a small price to pay for freedom, and I'll put in my buck-oh-five.

For those of you who don’t remember Civics class, I've included a copy of the Fourth Amendment. Print it, carry it, hand it over to the Metro goons, and walk the extra blocks. It’s good for the body, and even better for the soul.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What will YOU do if you get pulled aside for a search?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Low Rollers: A Postcard from Atlantic City

I have no idea how people can gamble all day and not die of boredom.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions regarding fun times in Atlantic City:

Freeze your ass off running down the boardwalk in monsoon conditions.

Borrow a hair dryer from the hotel so you can dry your pants while watching Antiques Roadshow.

Visit the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, argue over whether or not to believe it.

Stay at the Chelsea Pub and Inn, a former synagogue and Jewish rooming house that underwent a stunning transformation into…an adorably quirky B&B and 24-hour bar. It’s like a Denny’s for drinkers! Your room reservation includes two free drink tickets! And your room key has a bottle opener keychain, and it’s run by your friendly neighborhood crazy people, and you can solve the age-old mystery of, “Exactly who sits in a bar at noon on a Sunday?” Answer: Pensioners who ran through all their money playing video poker at the Tropicana.

Eat dinner at midnight.

Lose a dollar at the nickel slots, get bored, go elsewhere.

Lose a dollar at Skee-Ball, decide it’s a better deal than the slots.

Watch the intricate mating dance of Guidos vs. Women in Glorified Tank Tops. Recall the Law of Dressing Pretty Without Looking Like a Hooker: The higher the hemline, the lower the heel…unless you’re in Atlantic City and it’s butt-ass freezing. In which case, wear even less than what you’d put on in July. (And, yes, I’ve become the grumpy old lady who thinks girls ought to cover up a little.)

Walk past a bar, wonder if it's karaoke night, then realize that's the house band...and they're really that terrible.

Spend the drive grousing about tolls, and telling each other New Jersey should be paying YOU to visit, and not vice versa.

Wonder why, in the glorious state of New Jersey, it’s illegal to pump your own gas. Is it just to add that extra dash of suck?

Wonder why, with the lousy weather and the Jersey-ness of it all, you're really having the most wonderful time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Knocking the Air Out of an Ether Boy

There are many advantages to being a D.C. townie. Lifelong friends. Familiar bartenders. Free shots. Running into people I went to high school with, and finding out how many of them peaked in 1993.

But there’s one drawback: Washington is lousy with romantic failure. My failed romances, to be exact. I work five blocks away from my first boyfriend. I pass my ex-husband’s apartment (and my ex-car) on my way to a friend’s house. I routinely run into guys I’ve gone out with, everywhere from the sidewalk to the bar to the police station.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m friends, or on friendly terms, with almost everyone I’ve ever dated. My Facebook friends list is a veritable Ouija board, conjuring the Ghosts of Beaux Past. It’s no big deal, and I can make small talk with virtually anyone.

But one category of run-in can knock me speechless: smacking into an Ether Boy.

We all know an Ether Boy. He's that man who took you out two, three, or four times, never to be heard from again. A tsunami of enthusiasm, a barrage of the you’re-so-pretties, followed by dead air and queasy inadequacy. I can handle rejection with fantastic grace, but an information vacuum turns me into a bunny-boiling insecure wacknutter. When a run-in happens, I can’t decide whether to dive behind a tree or shove the guy into traffic.

So, what do you do if you both like the same bars? And you run into one another? And what if the Ether Boy is on a date? Lucky for me, I have a cadre of loyal (and mentally twisted) girlfriends who enjoy a good Dater Demolition Derby.
Last week, we downed sausages and beer and waited to see if the latest Ether Boy had the gall to show up at my favorite happy hour spot. The girls cheerfully offered to go up and say something awful:

LiLu: (rubs stomach) You may not care about our baby, but I do!
Lemmonex: The rash cleared.

But that might not be enough. It might be necessary to get weird. Pick your favorite:

1. Hi! I’m Ether’s parole officer.
2. He’s allergic, you know. To the female orgasm. He gets hives.
3. Ether really likes it when you lick his left elbow.

You know, I’m almost disappointed that the Ether Boy didn’t show. Because this would have been gold.
Happy Friday, gang.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Served With Bob Dole. Bob Dole is Funny. Ma'am, You're No Bob Dole.

The well-said smackdown is a centerpiece of politics. Putdowns are what keep us from dying of boredom while the politicians metaphorically measure their boy-parts, the consultants spin hot air into gold, and journalists beg for relevance. The beautiful insult is why I’ll never complain about “negative campaigning” (y’all, it exists because it works).

Think about it. What, aside from “potatoe,” do you remember most about Dan Quayle? Most likely, you remember him getting his ass handed over by Lloyd Bentsen: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”
I’ve always enjoyed the LBJ classic about Gerald Ford, “He’s a nice guy, but he played too much football with his helmet off.” Even Robert Dole has passed out a good slap: “History buffs probably noted the reunion at a Washington party a few weeks ago of three ex-presidents: Carter, Ford, and Nixon — See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evil.”
For the girls' team, we have Margot Asquith on Winston Churchill, "He would kill his own mother just so that he could use her skin to make a drum to beat his own praises."

Now try and guess the provenance of this kinky bit of political pillow talk: “. . . a pig, an ass, a dunghill, the spawn of an adder, a basilisk, a lying buffoon, a mad fool with a frothy mouth.”

...Give up? It’s Martin Luther, apoplectic with hate for Henry VIII.

This campaign season has been pretty low on zingers, instead, it's focusing on the hate-rant. Today I encountered a new favorite. This press release, full of fluff and nonsense, tangled in high-octane saliva and marinating in the contents of an impacted colon, refers to George Soros as a, "bigoted pro-abortion mogul." I don't know what that means, and I'm not even clear on the identity of Mr. Soros, but it's awesome nonetheless.

Which brings us to the important part: Is it too late to be a Bigoted Pro-Abortion Mogul for Halloween? And what would I wear?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fine. You Got Me.

Thank you to everyone who has spanked me with various tags lately (I think, at last count, Zipcode, Thoughts, Gilahi, Lacochran…did I forget anyone?).

I generally don't respond to “stuff about me” tags, on the grounds that I’ve spent the last six years of DSJ incessantly prattling on about myself. And I’m really only so fascinating. Plus, tags kind of remind me of the pass-along survey from Sixteen Candles. ("Have you done it? Have you seen it? Have you touched it?")

However, considering y’all have sheer numbers in your favor, I may as well suck it up and give it a go.

1. I don’t watch television. Ever. Really. This isn’t a culture snob thing, I’m just too cheap for cable and don’t have bunny ears. I will occasionally Netflix a series on DVD, but that’s usually several years after airing. One thing I find astounding about human nature is how often people will ask if I watch a program, then, when I say I don’t watch any TV, they’ll keep talking about TV. Dear Humanity: I really and truly haven’t seen your favorite show. I’ve probably never even heard of it. Can we please talk about something, anything else?

2. I can’t operate lighters.

3. I am not a “phone person.” I answer the phone all day at work, and that’s plenty. I have friends I've known for over ten years who have never had more than a three-minute phone chat with me. I strongly prefer text messages and email.

4. I enjoy buying condoms. Moreover, I enjoy buying them in unusual configurations. One of my best was condoms, whipped cream, an issue of Cosmo, and a bag of Swedish fish. The candy is what makes it so dirty.

5. I keep Tarot cards in my bedside drawer, and I often find them to be insulting and less than helpful. Just the other day, the Five of Cups called me prissy and uptight. Jerk!

6. I have a really, really low tolerance for violent or gory movies. I turned off No Country for Old Men after fifteen minutes. I don't care how good it's supposed to be, I don't get any enjoyment from watching the bodies pile up. I thought Home Alone 2 was a bit over the top, too.

7. My uterus faces the wrong way. I found this out when my doctor took a look and said, “Hey! Cool! Check it out!”

I’m supposed to tag other people. But as the blogosphere is tag-heavy these days, I’ll just let this one die out with me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Tuesday Travelogue, TSA Edition

Back in 2002, I held one of my odder jobs. I worked for a small consulting firm, where I mostly had to research nifty excuses to kill the crap out of some whales (because apparently they are very, very tasty).

When I was done signing a death warrant for Shamu, my other client asked me to spend a week touring small museums. It felt like a small-town bandit road trip, except this time for pay.

I spent a day in glamorous Pensacola, touring the Naval Aviation Museum. (If you ever get a chance, GO! They let you geek out and climb around inside all of the airplanes.) I spent a stormy night stranded in Fort Wayne, Indiana, sharing a plate of nachos with a three-toothed man named Shiloh. I loved being stranded in six-gate Fort Wayne “International” Airport, so named because of the occasional flight to Canada. I conditioned my hair with hand lotion, ate at every Waffle House I could find, and learned about all the local murders from gregarious cabbies.

I found the last leg of my trip, to a submarine in Michigan, cancelled due to my delay in Fort Wayne. Then, by a wonderful stroke of luck, I found myself in Milwaukee with a four-hour layover. I spent most of those four hours tossing back beer and brats, making new friends, and watching my bad habits absorbed by the generous expense accounts of the Ford Motor Company.

Eventually, my Midwest Express flight was called. I wobbled on over, ready for home and a hot bath.

When I reached the gate, I was pulled aside for further inspection. My ricochets around America, last-minute flight changes, and imposing demeanor had landed me on a terrorist watch list.

My bag was searched. Unfortunately, nothing interesting turned up. Nowadays I travel with an econo-pack of condoms and a Magic 8-ball, just to give the TSA something to think about.

Then I had to step to one side, and put my arms straight out so I could be wanded. I’m not proud of what I did next. But bear in mind, I was floating on hours of free beer and cute businessmen.

I began to touch my nose with my pointer fingers and recite the alphabet, in the manner of a field sobriety test.

The TSA agent cracked a smile and waved me on board. When I reached my seat, the flight attendant gave me a cookie and a glass of champagne.

The lesson? Never turn down a chance to make a drunken idiot of yourself in front of Homeland Security. Because if you do, you'll get a cookie!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go Away. Unless You Have Some Hot Cocoa For Me

Really, I should have a ton to talk about. I received homework assignments from two awesome fellow bloggers, I survived my second annual hiking trip with Foggy, I nearly gave a Target cashier a heart attack last night, and my dad arrives in D.C. around 8:00.

The problem is that I am cold. I can’t think proper unless I am warm. During my Sarajevo year, I became too stupid to operate telephones, buy milk, or even realize that I shouldn't have been there in the first place.
See, the heat hasn’t been turned on in either my apartment or my office. I spent much of my weekend in flannel pajamas, under a pile of blankets, chugging coffee. My work space heater shorted out and temporarily took my computer with it. I am wearing a winter coat and am still cold. I am seriously considering breaking my ears off and setting fire to them. I have lost my will to live, and, even worse, I've lost my will to mock.

I got nothin’. So, in the comments, ask me anything. Want my advice? Want to know something about me? Trivia quiz, anyone? I’ll answer, if only because the typing keeps my fingers from clamping together.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Skin-o-Ween!

My menagerie of pet peeves includes the skankification of Halloween. Sure, once upon a time, I paraded down Franklin Street tricked out as a dominatrix, but that was more funny than anything. Really. Try and keep a straight face while picturing me with a bustier and a whip.

I don't care if it puts me in "You kids, get off my lawn!" territory, or makes me the Princess of Prudity, but I'm sick to death of sexy nurses, sexy fairies, sexy French maids, sexy stewardesses, and sexy construction workers. To me, the average Halloween party looks like the opening scene of a very cheap and derivative porno film. Imagine it: boom mike hovering into the action, *boom-chicka-wow-wow* on the hi-fi, nubile, surgically enhanced barely-18s hanging out by the punch bowl.

Sexy Fairy: Ooooh no, my faerie wings have lost their sparkle!

French Maid: I'll shine them up for you!

Sexy Nurse: Don't worry, I'll make you feel better!

*cue tickling with a feather duster and frolicking among the thermometers*

And, scene.

Really. If you're going to trash it up for Halloween, show a little imagination. Give some sex appeal to those occupations that so desperately need it. Both men and women can get into the action (so to speak). Be a sexy colonic irrigation aesthetician. A sexy undertaker. A sexy fishmonger, a sexy laundromat manager, or even a sexy proctologist. Hell, even a fry cook can be saucy if you try hard enough.

If you're out on Halloween, look for me dressed as a sexy toll collector. Nothing spruces up a miniskirt and tube top like an orange vest and some rolls of quarters!

PS - Post based on tipsy girl talk at Liv's party.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Warning: Post May Contain Actual Human Emotions

If there is one thing on this Earth I have a sense of humor about, it’s my height. Or, rather, the lack thereof.

During my first attempt at Algebra II, I sat next to my very lanky friend Jim. He often wore green, so we called him the Jolly Green Giant. One day I wore green, and became Sprout. That nickname stuck for umpteen many years. Also, whenever I wear that color around my sister, she'll start shaking me and demanding my pot of gold.

On the whole, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: don’t wear green.

I’ve learned another valuable lesson: know your boundaries. And communicate them, with calmness and clarity.

I’m amused and pleased when Lemmonex offers to carry me home in her purse, or when my former coworkers would stuff me into small spaces around the office to see if I’d fit. Because I know when I’m being picked on, and when it’s just adorably warped affection. I don’t expect my friends to carry around a comprehensive list of what does and does not offend me. Of course, the list of what does offend me would be ridiculously short (racism, sexism, saying something mean about someone I care about).

But one thing that drives me nuts is this: implying my figure is somehow inferior or a symbol of what’s wrong with America. I’m short, I have a small frame, these are my factory settings and they cannot be altered. I wish people would stop referring to plus-size or curvy women as “real women.” It implies women like me are somehow imaginary. All bodies are different, and it’s possible to feel good about yourself without tearing others down.

And, women, stop asking me to apologize for how I’m built. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with groups of women where they comment on my smallness as if there’s no “me” attached to any of it, then demand my dress size, measurements, and bra size. And after that, they want an apology for the grossly unfair beauty standards of twisted America. I wind up feeling picked on, belittled, and objectified.

This isn’t a cry for pity. I’m aware of how ridiculous it sounds to be all “woe is me” about life as a size 2. I wouldn't complain that my pile of pirate treasure takes up too much space, or that I can't decide which Porsche to drive. I like my body, and I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's. And, honestly, I don’t care all that much about how I look. What I do care about is being judged for it, being taken less seriously because of my appearance, or being treated like that’s the sum total of who I am.

I promise I’ll be funny tomorrow. Today I decided to have a feeling or two (in case you were wondering, blog-as-therapy is usually a sign that I have writer's block).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's Wednesday. I Got Nothin'.

My typical morning goes a little something like this: Drag self out of bed, kick out any remaining sailors, shower, put on clothes, drink coffee, stab self in eye with eyeliner, take Metro, walk to office.

But sometimes, my two favorite morning companions join me. No, not Smith & Wesson. Not coffee and whiskey. Not even Captain and Tennille can compare.

See, some days I'll run into this awesome homeless dude. He has the habit of stopping dead in his tracks, pointing at me, and bursting into hysterical laughter. The first time he did it, I flashed back to 10th grade gym class. The second time, I asked, "Is it my outfit?" He nodded, laughed again, and shuffled off. There is nothing worse than having your style mocked by a man whose pants are held up by a jumprope.

My other favorite morning companion is the one-legged pigeon who likes to hang around my office building. I don't know why, but the idea of a one-legged pigeon making a life for himself in this big, tough town warms my heart. I like to picture him as a vermin version of Mary Tyler Moore, wearing pantsuits, hanging with a rodent Rhoda, and throwing his little beret in the air. Because, "He's gonna make it after all!"

In the comments, tell me what you saw on your way to work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicking Up the Hooters

Saturday evening, HP and I did a terrible thing: we chicked up the Hooters. We joined FoggyDew at this pre-verbal penile paradise for an early dinner. Why Hooters? Because a former Marine and two feminists hanging out there would make for a fantastic sitcom. Also, the Carolina-Notre Dame game was on. And, most importantly, why the hell not?

In the hour we were there, HP and I managed to critique the uniform for being less than figure-flattering, get in a long discussion about favorite shades of lip gloss, and debate whether the lack of utensils meant we were supposed to use our um, chestardly bits as “really sensitive chopsticks.” (That awesome mental image you just had? You’re welcome!)

After about ten minutes, Foggy pretended he had accidentally sat down at the wrong table, and had never met these two women before in his life. Or maybe he was just watching the game.

My sojourn at the Hooters did make me contemplate some serious questions:

The Chinatown Hooters opens at 10:00 am. Who can take the sight of Day-Glo orange short-shorts before noon? And do they have a breakfast menu, or do people really eat hot wings with coffee?

Is there any footwear less flattering than bright white sneakers with poofy 80’s style white socks?

Is wearing a low-cut top to Hooters like taking coals to Newcastle? Or is it just one more lovely addition to the scenery?

Why is it so much fun to say the name, "Hooters"? Hooters hooters hooters!

And, lastly, is going to Hooters for the wings anything like reading Playboy for the articles?

Our waitress Cha-Cha rocked, and my cheese sticks were very delicious. So, squicky objectification issues aside, hooray for Hooters! Who's going with me for breakfast this weekend?

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Other News, I'm Old

I spent much of Liv's birthday party hanging out on the balcony with the other fabulous broads. At one point, I wandered inside to use the restroom. I knocked on the door, and two disheveled young people tumbled out. The woman made a beeline for anywhere that was NOT an awkward run-in outside a bathroom. The guy chose to hover around in the hallway and look sheepish. BUSTED!

"Hey, I only got to first base!"
"Dude, don't tell people that sort of stuff! Be a gentleman."
"You're right. Sorry. High five!"
"High five!"

Because really, doesn't a chivalrous bathroom makeout session deserve a high five?

PS: Happy birthday, Liv! Here's the famous recipe (originally from Bon Appetit):

Gin and Tonic Jell-O Shooters
3 cups tonic (divided)
One cup gin (I used Beefeater)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 packets unflavored gelatin
About six limes, sliced

In a small saucepan, boil two cups tonic with the sugar. Meanwhile, pour gin and one cup tonic into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle unflavored gelatin on top of gin/tonic mixture, allow to set for one minute. Pour boiling tonic/sugar into bowl, stir until well blended. Pour contents of bowl into a 9x9 inch pan, allow to set overnight. Cut shooters into cubes, serve on lime slices. Pretty, classy, tasty, and not obscenely alcoholic.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Express is Scheduling My Intervention

The editors of the Post Express BlogLog are famous for their lack of reading comprehension skills. I don't read the Express, and 90 percent of the time I don't even know when I've been quoted. But every time I do see the quote, I find some sort of lazy factual inaccuracy in the snarky postscript.

For the last time: I don't live in Petworth. I don't live anywhere near a 7-11, and I did not want to buy convenience store sushi on a Saturday (it was a Friday). I have mixed feelings and squishy opinions on gentrification, as well as many other subjects the Express has implied I see in cliched black-and-white.

But yesterday was the last straw in the Scarecrow of Remedial Reading Skills. They accused me of being an alcoholic. The wording I used was, "Between the beer, the beer, and the beer on Saturday." This implies several beers, as in more than two, but fewer than seven. My fourth-grade teacher (a suspected lush herself), would probably say I had three beers on Saturday.

Their wording, "Over many beers..." implies a much more substantial amount of booze. Perhaps a more substantial amount than would be strictly sensible for a woman who barely weighs triple digits.
Maybe they meant my friends and I shared these "many" beers. But I prefer to believe the Express editors pictured me hunched over a table, a row of empty bottles wobbling before me like a Rockettes line of the damned as I drunkenly ranted about child rental services.

Express, put this in your crack pipe and smoke it: When I was a child, my Barbie doll was engaged in pro-woman imaginary pursuits, such as founding her own business (a unicorn pony farm!), running for President, and establishing a women's art collective. She also had torrid, frequent, and wildly anatomically inaccurate sexual relations with Ken.

Add it up: I'm a feminist, and a bit of a pervert. Clearly, this means that in Monday's Express I will have announced that feminism is a perversion.

PS - Seriously, men, every woman you know did all sorts of icky things to Barbie. We may not admit it before the third (OF MANY!) rounds, but we so totally did.

PPS - I'll admit that I am a bit of a lush, but for comprehension, Express people!
PPPS - And go check out that Gilahi post that I linked's terrific.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Don't Be a Heel...But Do Know How to Rock Them

I’m not one to rail against bad fashion sense (though I will admit to spending my Friday nights torching Vera Bradley bags). But today, I have a PSA for the ladies. And it's not about the style, it's about knowing what to do with it.

Learn how to walk in a freakin’ pair of heels. Last night, as I wandered down Fourteenth Street with the Refugee, he took appreciative note of my fabulous four-inch Victorian streetwalker shoes. And, also, my ability to effectively perambulate in them.

Most women in this town take tiny, very deliberate steps, planting each foot down with ridiculous care. It's like watching Bambi wade across the Miljacka. Moreover, they don the nasty plastic flip-flops even to cross the street, so they just don’t get enough practice.

I had to practice walking in heels before I was allowed to wear them in public. I have an advanced degree in Heelology. And, like many of my more civilized qualities, all credit is due to Mom. She had me walk in a straight line, in heels, arms out, a book balanced on my head. (I can still do this, even after a half-dozen beers. It's my favorite party trick.)

So, ladies: If you’re going to rock the sexy heels, learn how to ROCK them. Take long, confident strides, and waggle your hips for balance (…and attention). Make sure your shoes actually fit – if you’re spilling over the sides of your slingbacks, you aren’t going to be able to walk in them. And don't stomp. You aren't a two-year-old in the throes of a sugar tantrum. Remember: long steps, and a bit of a wiggle in your walk. I swear it isn't hard.

PS: I rarely wear high heels, on the grounds that I’m 5’2” and not fooling anyone. But if I’m going to wear them, I’m going to ROCK them.
PPS: Sign of the Gentrification Apocalypse #457, I cruised Fourteenth in killer heels and no one attempted to purchase my company for the evening. Wow, this town has changed.

PPPS: I'm a little disjointed today, so excuse me. Thursdays tend to hurt.
PPPPS: At least I had a better night than this guy.
PPPPPS: Anybody else read that article and think, "I would totally pass out in a stranger's house for some free spare ribs"? Just me? Really?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Announcing a New Business Venture

Between the beer, the beer, and the beer on Saturday, my friends Sean, Mike and I started to kick around a new business idea.

ZipKid. The Kid-Sharing Service!

See, not everyone can be a full-time parent. But there are times when you just need a kid.

Maybe you want to take a little hell-monster to a barbecue, so you have something to talk about with all the mommies and daddies. Or maybe your nag-fest of a mother is coming to visit, and you need to furnish her with a temporary grandchild. Or maybe you’re a dude, and want to carry around a "nephew" to impress chicks.

ZipKids have health benefits, too! They’re a remarkably effective and cheap form of birth control. Just one hour with a two-year-old can convince any woman to spay herself on the kitchen table with an electric carving knife. With cheap whiskey as a sedative.

ZipKid can also be fun for couples. Most young couples test out their parenting abilities by getting a dog. Then they spoil the dog rotten, with gourmet food and organic flea dip. Eventually, the costs rack up and the couple is too broke to contemplate babies. ZipKid allows them to test drive parenthood without the accompanying veterinary bills, ruined furniture and dog-walking services.

And with the economy dry-heaving over a metaphorical Toilet of America…who can afford a kid? Only the very same rich golden-parachuted twits who got us into this mess in the first place. So what is going to hold the economy’s hair back? ZipKid! Kid-sharing is a low-budget, elegant solution to the perennial drain that kids exert on America’s finances.

Supply is an issue. Where would the ZipKids come from? Fifteen years ago, we could have replenished our coffers with Romanian babies. Nowadays, cheap kids are hard to come by. So, in the comments, I need some women to volunteer to be ZipKid suppliers. It’s like being a brood mare, except, er, it’s people. Bonus points if you have good genes. Turkey baster included.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hangin' with Mr. Creepy

I don’t follow the skeevy, the skeevy follows me. Let me explain.

Last night, I decided to take a break from petty theft, hard liquor, and my own catastrophic character flaws. I wanted to stay in and focus on clothes: conduct the Great Seasonal Wardrobe Swap (summer-to-winter, which involves a meticulous rearrangement of my closet), do some laundry, and peruse the latest issue of Lucky. Thing is, I have terrible luck with laundry.

6:45 Carry basket of clothes to basement. Note the existence of Mr. Creepy loitering by the Coke machine. Take very careful note of excessive facial hair, shabby attire, dead eyes, and the weird shuffling walk. Realize he resembles an extra from The Day After.

6:55 Dump clothes in washer, return to elevators. Note the continued presence of Mr. Creepy, who is staring at me like I’m a tasty dessert with a magical unicorn candy bar on top.

7:30 Return to basement to move everything over to the dryer. Note the continued presence of Mr. Creepy next to the Coke machine. Wonder if he’s just really, really thirsty.

8:00 Return to basement to retrieve and fold clothes. Mr. Creepy is still there. Decide to heed the heebie-jeebies and ask a neighbor in the laundry room if he’s ever seen that guy before. He’s never seen that guy around…and he has now been loitering by the Coke machine for more than an hour.

8:10 Walk up to lobby, take elevator from there. Feel like a resident of Mayberry/Tombstone/Camelot when a chivalrous neighbor offers to go “check out the situation.” Decline the offer.

8:15 Call Security. Call the everlovin’ heck outta Security.

8:30 Call Security to follow up. Find out that Mr. Creepy does, in fact, live in the building (great!). The guard explains that Mr. Creepy is “not right in the head” (even better!) and has a habit of hanging around the Coke machine (whee!), to the consternation of virtually every woman in the building.

Don’t get me wrong, I dig the mentally ill. Otherwise, I’d have no one to spend Christmas with.
But it seems to me my building could be doing a little more about a “not right” gentleman in shabby clothes, who hangs around a Coke machine in a basement for hours on end, staring at women. He's probably harmless, but I'm not going to bet my personal safety to find out. I believe in listening to my instincts, and Mr. Creepy was setting off all kinds of alarm bells.
In totally unrelated news, anybody wanna come over tonight while I wash the rest of my clothes? Especially if you're musclebound and intimidating? I’ll make you a lovely shepherd’s pie.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Skeezy Like Sunday Morning

My Sundays are pretty much all the same. My head is pounding, I have grass stains in surprising places, and there's an array of dead sailors on the balcony. So I like to take it easy: read the paper in bed, drink gallons of coffee, and putter around on the Internet.

As I’m shopping at the online Man Mall, my IM window flies open.

SkeevyDude4U: Hi! Would you like a cute guy to do a striptease for you?

DisaffScanJockey: Uh. No. Thanks!

SkeevyDude4U: :(

SkeevyDude4U: :(

SkeevyDude4U: :(

The lesson? If you are a man, and you use emoticons, I probably don’t want to see you naked.

Happy Monday, y’all.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Incompetent Advice: Is this Guy for Real?

The perennially readable charlotteharris writes:

Hi Shannon,

I am about to cancel a 1st date with a guy but wondering if that would be a mistake. Here's the background:

My Match profile has (7) very recent (only weeks old) photos of me in various angles, some face only, others full length. Good representations, I think.

After emailing with "Johnny" he asked me for some additional photos, esp. if I had any in which I am wearing tank tops/flip flops. I said "oh you must have been burned before by someone who didn't look like their pics, but you don't have to worry about that because all my photos are recent, i really am a size 4, and i cannot tell a lie." I told him that if we meet and we like each other that he can have all the tank tops/flip flops photos he wants of me and was flirty about it.

He will not relent, he keeps asking me for more pics and I keep ignoring those parts of his emails because I have liked everything else about him on email and the phone, even after he (unsolicited) sent me additional photos of himself with his 2 kids. When I emailed him directly (rather than via my talkmatch address) he wanted to know why I didn't email him from my work email and I was like "oh I am a cop's kid, I can't help but be cautious about personal details."

So today he sent me this email:

"Did you ever think that maybe I wanted to do my background check on you?? There are just as many crazy women on the net as men, believe that… That's not too cool though, you even have pics of my kids!….I can understand the last name, address or home phone number but pictures?? C'mon now it's online dating for crying out loud! You trying to hide your hand with six fingers or something? The fact that you keep avoiding it makes me want to keep asking. Hey we found the first thing to disagree about…fun… Wait, you ask if I was at the Sprint in Reston, I think that's too personal of a question, you might stalk me. Let's just say I'm in Virginia…."

I know he's partly being sarcastic, but he is also kinda disrespectful, right? I am about to email him and just cancel the date and wish him the best. Or should I send him some damn pics and go on the date? I just think it's weird he wants more pics when I am confident the ones I sent are very good.

Thanks in advance!

~ charlotteharris

Dear charlotte,

OH MY GOSH. THAT GUY IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!! He’s nitpicking your lack of a flip-flop/tank top photo? Is he for real?

Tell him that not only do you have six fingers on your right hand, you have a penis, a prehensile tail and four earlobes arranged in a ridge formation across your left elbow. Plus, you sleep with a bunch of stuffed animals, and you snore.

On a slightly more serious note, if he's creating that much aggravation before you even go on one lousy coffee date, imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship with him: "Thanksgiving? With your family? I'll need a complete menu, including recipes and potential allergens, photos of your entire family in all forms of footwear, and about a dozen Haldols before I can even contemplate such a step."

It's possible he's a decent guy with an unfortunate lack of social skills, and you've just gotten the wrong end of the stick somehow...but, really, why bother? He's being weird and hostile and he's badgering a woman he’s never even met. There are three billion other men in the world, plus all sorts of high-end electronic gadgetry, so listen to your instincts and run like hell.

And for a dose of actual seriousness: Don’t ever feel guilty for listening your instincts. If your gut is telling you that something is off, don’t worry about being “nice” or sparing this guy’s feelings. He’ll get over it. You don’t need anyone’s permission or validation to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And if he tries to drag you into yet another stupid argument about flip-flops or extra fingers, you are under no obligation to reply to him.

Lastly, if he is starting to give you the creeps, vs. merely being annoying, I would also recommend reporting his behavior to your dating service.

What do the illustrious members of the commentariat think? Additional advice/insights welcome…with the usual caveat that an actual person, with actual feelings, wrote in. So don’t be a jerk.