Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm Not Dead Yet!

I'm just too busy working towards my liquidation point.

No, this is not a new and clever form of self-destructive behavior. If I want to make myself cry, I can always watch Big Fish and then call my dad. If I want to make myself sick, I'll have Gobstoppers, Twizzlers and beer.

I'm trying to run down the clock on my temping contract. My agency calls this my "liquidation point." Which sort of sounds like I'm being chopped up and sold for parts. Or that I'm some sort of sentient Circuit City. But it really means that when I hit a certain number of hours, I switch over from temp to salaried.

Anyhow, that's where I've been. In the land of productive employment, which is getting pretty lonely. In case you've been wondering. See you soon, once the dust settles and I've finished my stash of emergency stress-ball Gobstoppers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Interview with a Misfire

The lovely, audacious, and charming cooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Lemmonex sent me five interview questions, mostly so I could have yet another cheesy rhyming post title. (At least I didn't call it Interview with a Quagmire, or Interview with a Pismire...thank you, Free Online Rhyming Dictionary, the Official Free Rhyming Dictionary of Disaffected Scanner Jockey!)

1--People poke fun at your height and you are an incredibly good sport about it. What is the best response/comeback you have for people who want to put you in their handbags?

I threaten to eat their lip gloss. Mmmmm, waxy.

2--What is the worst thing about living with someone?

When they sell your jewelry for drug money. Or when they can’t decide if they want to stay with their boyfriend, Wayne, or throw him over for his identical twin, Dwayne. Or when they adopt a puppy from a cardboard box on a street corner, which barks and whines and keeps you up all night right before your big job interview.

Incidentally, this was all the same roommate. In a one-month period. I moved out.

3-- I cannot believe I don't know this. What is your favorite food?

Beer. Is beer a food?

Ok, fine. A Carolina pulled pork sandwich, with a ton of vinegar sauce, topped with slaw, on a really flimsy and cheap white bread bun which will immediately crumble, so my meal will ooze all over the plate, my fingers, and hopefully all of the Washington media market.

And I may want a beer with that sandwich.

4-- 90210 or Dawson's Creek?

Good question! I’ve given this a lot of thought.

Really. I have!

The shows had a lot of overlap: odiously sanctimonious male lead (Brandon/Dawson), Little Ms. Perfect female lead who was actually a stuck-up bitch queen (Joey/Kelly), and the trashy bad girl who gets hers when she dies of a vaguely Victorian heart ailment/is exiled to London/is exiled to Buffalo (Jen/Brenda/Valerie).

But 90210 had some of the most hilariously tragic moments in television history. Tori Spelling getting chucked down a staircase. Kelly as her boozy mom's enabler/getting hooked on diet pills/almost dying in a fire/joining a cult/wearing a micro-mini during a daytime lunch with her dad/being stalked by a lesbian/shooting the crap out of her rapist. And never, ever forget the tragic death of the Noxzema Girl.

I mean, really. Who can care about Abby chucking herself off a pier when you've got ten seasons of Trainwreck Kelly?

5-- If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

Nothing. And I don’t mean that in an egotistical way. I damn sure know that I have flaws: I talk too much, I bore too easily, I’m nosy, and I still haven’t figured out how to open a jar or use a lighter. But I need those imperfections. We all do, it gives us ways to grow, so we never get bored. Also, I’ve never met a perfect person whom I didn’t want to stab with a letter opener.

Wait, new answer! Can I have a mutant superpower? That would rock.

If you’d like to play along, just follow these instructions:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Be sure you link back to the original post.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Worry About the Kids. Because I Care! And Because I Hate iPods.

I worry about America’s children. Not because I think they’re headed for moral decay, morbid obesity, or toward developing allergies to every known food group. I worry because I don’t think they know how to be bored. Follow along, please:

Last night, I went out for tasty food in glamorous Loudoun, at a restaurant I now consider the Eavesdropping Center of the Universe. First, there was the woman who ranted about her money problems for twenty minutes (I do not know if she was on the phone, or dining with an especially patient, or perhaps bound and gagged, partner). Oh, honey, if you’re responsible for paying your own bills (like, uh, most people), including the rent, cellphone, and Comcast, and it’s breaking you, then ditch the cable. Do you really, really need Flavor of Love? I know cable really helps pass the time when you’re unemployed, but really.


She left, and I was left with a few options. I could focus on my food, or my companion, or the music. Instead, the family next to us came in with the save.

Figuring out how they were all related kept me busy for fifteen minutes. My best guess was that it was Grandpa, Mom, Single/Possibly Gay Uncle, and Kid One (late teens) and Kid Two (eightish/nineish). It was also possible, due to group dynamics, that Kid One was actually much older, just a sloppy dresser, and the mother or aunt of Kid Two. Anyhow, they were all out for a nice dinner together, to celebrate the visit of Single/Possibly Gay Uncle. And maybe Grandpa. I don’t know if he was local or not.

Anyone who has ever been a kid knows one thing: family dinners are tedious, creepingly slow death. You have to sit still. You must use utensils. You will not be allowed to punctuate every sentence with armpit farts. Worst of all, you must listen to grownups talk about the sort of things even grownups find skull-crushingly dull.

But the Kids had a solution: technology! Kid One was listening to music on her iPod (yes, at the dinner table). Kid Two was watching a movie on his iPod (yes, again, at the dinner table). Kid One eventually unplugged, however, Kid Two kept his earbuds in while ordering, eating, conversing with the waitress, and mostly…while he sat there, sulked and watched a movie.

Mom, Grandpa, even Kid One tried to get him to actually participate in the dinner. Or, at least, to stop watching his movie and take his sulking acoustic. No dice.

This brings me back to why I'm so worried: if we do not teach the children of America how to sit around a table, in polite silence, but so bored they want to scream or bang their heads into a wall, how are they ever going to get by in the business world? They’ll combust at their very first department meeting, the economy will collapse, and we’ll all be reduced to selling fruit at the intersections of the world.

So, parents, please, teach your children well. Make them unplug, then bore the crap out of them. America is counting on you!

PS – No, I don’t have kids. But I will point out that, long ago, I was a kid, and no, we did NOT wear headphones at the dinner table. Ever. I mean, really.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This Is Why I Live Alone

In the spirit of TMI Thursday, I'm going to tell you exactly what living alone does to people. I'll stay away from the scatalogical, so there's more room for the really embarrassing stuff.

5:30 pm: Arrive at apartment. Heat up Dinner #1: leftover generic Safeway macaroni and cheese. Finish newspaper.

6:00 pm: Perform Interpretive Dance to the Xanadu Soundtrack. Also, eat dinner number 2: a grilled cheese sandwich, and some bread with Kajmak.

6:30 pm: Pop in Transformers: the Movie. No, not the one with Megan Fox's pouty lips and the awesomely bad plotting (OK, so they lead the Decepticons into a major metropolitan area for a battle...because? Oh, so Michael Bay could throw big robots into really big buildings? Cool.)

No, as part of my continuing effort to see every single film I was banned from seeing as a child, I Netflixed the 1986 original. Orson Welles as gelatinous sparkly planet-eater Unicron. The tragic death of Optimus Prime (and, yes, even at age 32 I did well up a bit), and a heroic Judd Nelson as a midlife-crisis sentient sportscar crying, "I have nothing BUT contempt for this court!" I'd forgotten this movie had the most amazingly high body count - I can't believe they slaughtered half my toybox.

8:00 pm: Un-moisten my eyes. What? I was bummed when Planet Orson bit the big one. Discover that this DVD has bonus features. Watch the commentary track from the director, the story consultant, and the chick who did the voice of the lone Girl Transformer, Arcee (who was a rather Pepto-esque shade of pink). Discover that not only did Hasbro massacre my childhood toys and crush my preteen spirit for the sake of introducing a new product line, but...gender roles were strictly defined in the Transformer-verse and Arcee was pretty much there to wipe the nose of that little cartoon Daniel brat. Geez - at least Smurfette got to be a babe and hot stuff and all, even within her blond Aryan tokenism in the Socialist universe of Smurftown.

9:30: Wow, I just spent three hours watching a cartoon. Time for Xanadu Intrepretive Dance: Volume Two! Also, I should probably lay out my clothes for tomorrow and finish packing for my trip.

10:00: One last singalong to, "I'm Alive," and it's time for lights out.

So, anybody want to be my roommate?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dodging the Obamapocalypse

After reviewing umpteen many Inauguration maps, I realized I live within the charter bus/no fly/strip search zone. As we are smart and (mostly) wise, J. and I decided to flee the Obamamania, leave town, and visit my friends in North Carolina. It would be far less crazy in the South, where we could hang out, see Charles Kuralt's grave (he's buried behind my dorm!), and eat Bojangles for every meal.

Everything seemed great until I received the following email from our host:

Going to the store Friday. Any special requests? I have tequila,wine and absinthe.

Mind you, our host is the famous Buddy, the man who sobers up with Jager Bombs and once ran up a $180 tab in less than an hour at the Eighteenth Amendment. (Considering that I, a Duchess in the Court of Prodigious Bar Tabs, have always maxed at $35, this is quite a feat.)

So, sure, Buddy, I have some special requests. I'd like Gatorade, a pallet of painkillers, an enormous trash can to heave into, and maybe one industrial-size preemptive hug.
See you next week...if I survive.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yes, My Dad Is Completely Perfectly OK

Friday, I received the following email from my hilariously indestructible dad down in Costa Rica:

i m fine but wonder if they follow me iwas about 10 miles from the
epi i needed to straighen my pics and dust the
shelves any way about the same as the san fran one when thye
bridge fell i was i0 miles from center when i phoned
home in minutes after your mother spent 5 minutes telling me
about the quake in calif love dad

What, you aren't a fluent Skeeter-speaker? His emails read sort of like e.e. cummings poems, crossed with text messages from a preteen girl.

The message is that he got through the Costa Rican earthquake without a scratch. This was his second major earthquake - he was also in the 1989 San Francisco quake. He managed to find a payphone and call my mom, who gave him a breathless did-you-know report about...a quake in San Francisco. She apparently completely forgot that my dad was there on a business trip. (Which is still slightly better than all the times she addressed me by the cat's name.)

So, what have we learned? 1. Nothing kills my dad, and, 2. Earthquakes follow him around like stray kittens or disgruntled ex-girlfriends.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tell Me the Bright Side of Bethesda

Yesterday, I had to get up at first light and go to Bethesda for a training. This is even worse than it sounds.

I don't like Bethesda. I used to work up there, and I hated it for more than just the endless, rickety, barf-inducing Metro commute. A friend and I call it the Nexus of Evil, because the air is a little colder, no one ever smiles or holds the elevator, and the minivan mamas see pedestrians as little more than sentient speedbumps.

There are bright spots: if you're going to be stuck outside for a while, the Hyatt has outdoor heaters. There's a great cheap Chinese joint. There's also a Booeymonger and a Rock Bottom. And there was this great Red Line operator who would call it, "Betheeeeesda." But, once I stopped working up there, I never saw a reason to visit.

Which brings us back to yesterday: the Back to Bethesda Reunion Tour. I went, and nothing appears to have changed. None of the stores and restaurant had changed over. The same carpet joints still had the same, "Going Out of Business!" banners. (The least they could do is put a note underneath, "This Time, We Really Really Mean It!") The Bethesdians (Bethesdites?) wore the same downtrodden expressions they'd super-glued to their spirits two years ago.

It was all the same, and I hated all of it. But last night, as I teared up at the end of that inspirational tale of a delinquent-runaway-turned-teen bride, The Little Mermaid, I was hit with a ray of hope. Bethesda can't be all bad, after all, it's slightly warmer than Sarajevo. I don't like to write off an entire town (...except maybe Sarajevo). And, most importantly, I'll probably have to go up there for another training.

So, please, change my mind. In the comments, tell me something cool about Bethesda. If you can't think of anything, lie. Lie like a rug from a store that's been going out of business for two years. me.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Class Warfare in the Washroom Line

Longtime readers, friends, and that checkout lady at Macy’s all know one thing: I spend a lot of time scrapping with people who blame me for their own poor manners. New Year’s Eve was no exception.

I don’t like to go to bars on New Year’s Eve. It's a soup of amateurs, drunkards, morons, crowds, and idiots. But I made an exception, and trudged up to Cleveland Park.

All was well until about 1:00, when it felt like time to leave. I decided to hit the washroom one more time before grabbing a cab. I arranged myself in the (rather long) ladies’ room line, chatted with my neighbors, and patiently waited for my turn.

When I was nearly to the front, a woman stepped in front of me and brusquely said, “I’m next.”

What happened next comes down to this: I don’t like bullies. I hate them, actually. While there will always be people who bulldoze and tantrum their way through life, I do have the option of (politely) not putting up with it. And, yes, cutting in line is a petty offense, but I’d already waited for some time and nature’s call had become more of a bellow. Also, you did know that I'm not perfect, right?

Me: Excuse me? I’m sorry, I didn’t see you in line.
Her: I was waiting over there. *gestures in general direction of…elsewhere in the bar*
Me: Well, the rest of us were waiting patiently in a line. Why not just join us and wait your turn?
Her: blah blah blah…(as hard as I tried to listen, her tone made me think I was in Mean Girls. Perhaps I had worn pink on the wrong day?)
Me: Please, just wait your turn.
Her: You know, I can tell you’re from here. Because only in DC would anyone actually care about this. You’re a privileged D.C. b*tch.
Me: *open-mouthed, dripping with pity and consternation, Miss-Manners-approved stare*

At this moment, the ladies’ room door opened, and a woman gestured to me and said, “Your turn!” (Victory One) Then the crazy lady’s friend dragged her off, scolding her under his breath (Victory Two).

As I returned to my table, I thought through a myriad of responses, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and ranked them from worst to best.

1. “Actually, I’m a single mother of a special needs child, and I teach the third grade in Anacostia. I grew up in a dirt shack in Kentucky with six sisters, and we had to take turns wearing the shoes.”
Benefit: HA!
Drawback: Not even remotely true.

2. *POW*! (punch to face)
Benefit: Well-deserved.
Drawback: No need to kick off the New Year at the police station.

3. “Yes, I’m privileged to be the sort of person who actually waits her turn and treats others with respect, instead of bullying and insulting her way through life. Also, may I point out you’re carrying a rather expensive-looking handbag?”
Benefit: True. Also, funny, if a bit prissy.
Drawback: A potential *POW* from her to me. Yet again, kicking off the New Year at the police station.

4. “Here’s a copy of my award-winning inspirational autobiography, Dead Dogs and Outlet Malls. The inscription says, ‘Take THAT, beeyotch.’”
Benefit: Perhaps she’d learn something? Also, HA!
Drawback: First I’d have to write an award-winning inspirational autobiography. Also, I don’t need to rattle off my life story to a total stranger when I haven’t done anything wrong, anyhow.

5. “Thank you for pointing out my bourgeoisie shortcomings, Comrade. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?”
Benefit: It would have been really fun to say that.
Drawback: It would totally fly over her head. Which, come to think of it, may be a benefit. Perhaps I could have swapped it for some French Revolution propaganda?

In the end, the pitying glare was probably the best solution. I know myself, and I do know I’m privileged in many ways. I grew up in a safe neighborhood, among books, in a family that valued education. Food was nutritious, home-cooked, and plentiful. I went to excellent public schools (and one extremely gnarly private one). But I don’t think of myself as that stereotypical (and mostly mythical) “privileged DC b*tch.” I imagine that sort of person has the self-awareness of a tiny asteroid, does not home-dye her hair, and definitively did not grow up in Woodbridge.

So, once I’d dusted off the initial shock and hurt from my bully run-in, it was all really very funny. But next time I go out on New Year’s Eve, I’m taking a marshmallow gun. Look out, line-jumpers! You're about to become human s'mores.