Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Can Pick Your Nose but You Can't Pick Your Readers. Unless Your Readers Are Boogers.

That may, officially, be the grodiest title I've ever chosen. Don't worry, it's not Thursday yet and I won't be writing about boogers. In fact, I promise this is the last time I'll ever use the word "booger."

Instead, I'll strike up the perennial blogger favorite (hey, did anyone ever notice how similar the words 'blogger' and 'booger' are?):

Virtually every blogger has written a post like this: "My mom/an old boyfriend/my boss/all my cousins discovered my blog and I told them to not read it! But they did it anyway. It's so disrespectful of them! It's an invasion of my privacy! Especially because I want to bitch about them at length without any consequences."

My response, now and ever, is, "Fat chance." Once you've hit that 'publish' button, you're accountable for everything you say about anyone who might stop by. That includes everyone you mock, anyone you've hurt, and the truth about any stories you tell. It's simple, really: don't write anything you wouldn't say.

And blogs are open to anyone who might stop by. You don't get to dictate your audience. Don't like it? Take it down, slap up a password, or watch what you say. I mean, really. The Internet is hardly private property.

I wish I could change my mind about these things, because it would make the second half of this post much easier to write.

Recently, I was found by someone I'd hoped could lose me forever. Someone I haven't seen in over a decade emailed with the sort of lengthy, emotion-dredging manipulative intrusiveness that made him such a negative part of my life to begin with. My response has been to not respond at all. I think that's best.

I don't know if he's changed, and I hope he has, but that's beside the point. The point is that I have changed. I've had enough love by now to know that I don't have to open up my life to anyone who stops by. I can pick and choose, something I get better at each and every year. I don't have to be that love-starved mess from long ago.

But I know I don't have the right to dictate who can and can't read this site. And I've always understood that blogging under my real name carries a price. On the whole, it's worth it, because I think anonymous blogging can make it too easy to be heartless or slippery.

Living in the open makes me remarkably easy to find. I briefly considered closing up shop or donning an alias, but we all know that wouldn't happen.

There are over six years of emotion-barfs, opinions and stories to choose from. I stand behind them all, even though I'm far from perfect and could always have further to fall. I like to think my stories are worth sharing. And I'm glad I have all of you along for the ride.

I just ask that those of you who belong in my messy past don't contact me.

In the comments, object to my repeated use of the word 'booger.' Or explain to me exactly what the hell I'm talking about. Because I have no clue.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Helpless Like a Newborn Kitten

One of my least appealing qualities is my tendency to turn into a complete and utter crybaby when I'm sick.

It's ridiculous, really. I turn as helpless as a newborn kitten, but not nearly half as cute. I loll and mewl and complain, even if there's no one around to hear me.
If I'm home alone, I refuse to do any task that might make me feel better. Why? Because most of those tasks also involve getting out of bed. Glass of water? Nah, the fridge is to far away. See a doctor? Nope, because if I can get all the way across town to the doctor, I may as well go to work. My snot-filled brain runs circuits of its own pessimism, and I get mired in self-pity.

Yesterday, however, was the lowest of the low. I refused to go to work, and instead sent a series of increasingly incoherent text messages to my colleagues. I refused to get out of bed, and instead spent my day sleeping or staring into space. Hey, this flu thing is serious business.

Worst of all, when I noticed that the fitted sheet was no longer tucked into the mattress, I didn't get up to fix it. Nope. I flopped about on the bed, like a hooked northern pike, struggling mightily to fix the fitted sheet while I was still lying on top of it. The small, not-sick portion of my brain watched the proceedings with bemused detachment. Who makes a bed while they're still IN BED? Me. That's who.

In the comments, tell me the silliest thing you do when you're sick.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mantras for an Unusually Crabby Friday

My favorite law of living is very simple:

The Problem Is You

It's right up there with, "Don't trust anyone with a misspelled tattoo." Truth is, there are a lot of bad people, bad situations, and just plain badness in the world. But YOU are the unifying factor in all that you encounter.

If you go through a dozen jobs in a dozen months, it's not because your bosses are horrible people who spurn your dreams of advancement. It's because you need to get yourself together and do an honest day's work.

If you cut ties with a dozen friends, only to alienate a dozen more, it's not because they're toxic or graceless or ungrateful. It's because you have a lot to learn about friendship.

If you go on a dozen dates in a dozen days, and all of them end with your companion of the evening crawling out of the washroom window, it's not because your city is full of undatable, unlovable crazies. It's because you are turning them off somehow. Go up to your most honest friend, and ask, "Why am I single?"*

Remember: You are the unifying factor in all that you encounter.

In the comments, bitch about anyone who lacks personal responsibility. Or, just bitch. I'll listen.

*One of these days I'm going to start a blog called "Why Am I Single?" I'll ask people to send in their romantic histories, and I'll tell them exactly why they're single. It'll be a kick. Once I sift through all the tears and death threats, that is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Seven People You'll Meet at the Cocktail Party of the Damned

Lemmonex wrote a great post yesterday about manners. Basically, her point is this: HAVE SOME. I’d like to add on to her peeves by teaching y’all something you should already know. That is, how to be a good party guest.

I’m something of an expert at this. Not only am I an irredeemable partier, I’m a recovering diplomat’s wife, and throw at least a dozen gatherings per year in my 481-square foot studio. Cramming up to 30 people in my place and having it still be fun takes a LOT of creativity and know-how.

Because I’m sure all of you want to be my friend, chill on my sofa, and avail yourselves of the Shangria, let me share with you my Seven People I’ll Meet at the Cocktail Party of the Damned*. These are the guests that send even the most charming, laid-back hostess into shrieking fits. A party of all of these folks combined would get me to hang up my hostess hat forever:

1. The Unannounced Entourage. Some folks can’t go anywhere without their half-dozen closest friends. Cool. The more the merrier. But if you’re going to double my party population on zero notice, bring some extra beers. Also, don’t spend the whole evening sequestered on the balcony with the little clique you walked in with - that's just snobby.

2. The Guest List Cop. These people drive you nuts before the party’s even started. They go over your guest list with a baleful eye and complain that they don’t exactly approve of your choices. Don’t like everyone who will be there? Think you’re incapable of a cordial hello and a hasty retreat to another corner of the room? Spend your Saturday night somewhere else. This should be quite basic, here: you don’t have the right to tell me who I can and can’t invite to my own home. I mean, really.

3. The TwitterBits. These folks twaddle their thumbs across their keyboards the whole time they’re over. It’s one thing to check in with your ride, place a bet with your bookie, or ask your secretary to line up your booty call. But why spend the whole evening glued to a machine? Why not just stay home and make sweet, sweet love to your laptop?

4. The High-Maintenance Helpmate. I love when people offer to bring an appetizer or a dessert. Especially desserts, as I hate to bake. But please don’t bring something that requires tons of fridge space (I have, like, none to spare), destroy the kitchen (it’s already gonna be revolting), or involve lots of prep (in my tiny kitchen). Just bring a plate of cookies instead.

5. The Eeyore Extravaganza. We all have bad days. However, if you have 1,000 bad days in a row, and spend the entire party bitching mightily to anyone who will listen, don’t expect a return invite. My home is my refuge, and, hell, it’s a refuge for anyone who wants to come over, relax and have a good time. Don’t take that away from us.

6. The High-Maintenance Momma. Bring your baby. I will happily hold it for you, and swear I won’t use its first tooth to crack open my bottle of Bud Light. Just don’t bring the super-extra-double-large SUV stroller, the fourteen bags of equipment, and the 27 buckets of food. A carseat, diaper bag and a few toys and snacks will suffice for a short visit.

7. The Robin Leech. This person sees parties as a venue for personal gain. They corner guests regarding the latest marketing strategy, or, even better, they’re disappointed when things aren’t as posh as they’d prefer. I serve Yeungling in a can because that’s what I can afford in mass quantities – the average party costs me around $200, and that's if I stick to the generic Cheetos. If you’re fussy about brands, BYOB.

Since I hate to end on a negative note, here are my Seven Guests Who Can Always Come Back:

1. The Iceman. Most often, Foggy, who knows I can’t fit more than two bags of ice in my freezer. So he brings extras for the booze bucket.

2. The Chauffeur. My friend Rowena often gives me a lift to the store the day of the party. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen two pocket-sized women haul 10 bags of food and three cases of beer down a hallway in a series of high-energy sprints.

3. The Early Bird. Nothing makes me happier than when a friend offers to show up a half-hour early and help me set up. Or, hell, just keeps me company while I knock out a few last-minute kitchen tasks.

4. The Slumber Party Guests. If you can’t get home, stay over! Many of my parties devolve into four or five people sprawled across sofas and air mattresses, asking one another about the meaning of life. Or, just as often, the sexual proclivities of Scooby-Doo. I'd rather you crash than drive home drunk, take over an hour to find a cab, or stumble onto the third rail on the Metro. Don't worry - I'll still respect you in the morning.

5. The Magi. That is, anyone who brings me a gift. One of the sweetest hostess gifts I ever got was from HP. It was a hangover kit with a little bottle of champagne, some orange juice, Alka-Seltzer, and Gatorade.

6. The Mingler. This person makes so many circuits of the room that my head starts to spin, and eventually becomes even more popular than me. Bonus points if the Mingler seeks out folks who seem a little out-of-place, and makes an effort to include them. That saves me a lot of effort.

7. Anyone who sends a thank-you email. I love being a hostess, but yes, it’s a lot of hard work, time, and money. Anyone who appreciates the effort is going to get a return invitation.

In short, anybody who makes my life easier, not harder, is going to be welcome. Or really anybody who doesn't suck and knows how to have a good time.

In the comments, tell me what kind of party guest you are.

*If you’re my friend, and you see yourself on this list, don’t worry – you have to rack up a LOT of demerits before I drop you off the party roster.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Celebrity Sighting in Chinablock

Mascots are all kinds of creepy.

Barney, Mickey Mouse, and Smokey the Bear all dress outlandishly, lack peer friendships and exclusively surround themselves with small children. But instead of confining them to Neverland Ranch where they belong (what, too soon?), we allow them to roam the streets of America in an endless string of media events and photo opportunities.

The lone mascot that I have always respected is McGruff the Crime Dog. Not only because he wears clothes (a classic and stylish trench), but because he teaches kids to be safe and not climb into any strange refrigerated trucks. So I got a little thrill when I encountered McGruff in Chinablock on Saturday.

Then the sickest little part of my brain took over. Wouldn't it have been awesome if he'd handed out candy, then, when the kids took it, had chastised them for accepting candy from a stranger? Or, even better, what if he wore a trench because he was some sort of canine flasher?

In the comments, tell me if you think I'm a closeted furry.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Real Reason My Mom Always Told Me to Wear Good Underwear

It has nothing to do with traffic accidents. Instead, it's based on the daily accident of being me.

Wednesday night, I was strolling along K Street, Gucci Gulch, Land of the Lost Lobbyist, when a woman on a SmartBike wheeled up and hissed something in my ear. "Check....your....dressssss."

And then, loud enough for the dudes chilling outside the strip club to hear, "Did you hear me? Check. Your! Dress!"

I paused to note her words, and the unusual breeziness of Washington in August. Oh, huh. Wait. Maybe that's what she was talking about.

A cursory examination showed that the lining of my dress had gotten caught in my underwear, offering the entirety of K Street a glorious and fairly unobstructed view of my ass.

Also, a block or two along, two well turned-out, handsome young men asked me for directions, and addressed me as "Ma'am."
Lessons Learned: moms are always right, and it's far better to flash your ass than be an old lady.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Everybody's Uterus: Population One

One of the hallmarks of an early thirties urban existence is the frequent and rapid impregnation of one's friends. This means a lot of things that we already knew about: Baby showers. Early bird dinners. Learning how to simultaneously amuse a toddler and chug a beer. Learning that every baby, everywhere, finds the word "herpes" completely hilarious.

But there are the parts that no one tells you about. Or maybe these are the things that only happen to me, because I'm weird. Either way, here are some lessons from years of proximity to The Pregnant:

1. You will always say at least one Wrong Thing. Tuesday night, we were reviewing ultrasound photos at the dinner table (I am an awesome friend and therefore comfortable enough with my girlfriends to learn the complex topography of their wombs). I began to see shapes in the ultrasound clouds, and remarked upon those shapes. Note to self: Don't compare your friend's baby to a dragon's head.

2. Pregnant lady food is awesome. Seriously. There should be an entire restaurant of it! Tater tots, slathered in chili with cheddar cheese and sour cream on top? Awesome in theory, even better in practice. Of course, karmic justice being what it is, I'd probably get preggers and wind up developing a taste for normal food.

3. Pregnancy is a public-private partnership. So much of it, besides the belly, is public. A lot of this is because pregnant ladies will tell you more than you'd ordinarily ever want to know. (Been horking a rainbow of fruit flavors? If you're pregnant, I'll listen with patience and sympathy. Otherwise, ew ew ew gross ick shut up now before I shut you up!) But with all that information Out There, For Everyone to Know, it can be tricky to know what ought to remain private. Some couples don't want to give away the potential names, due date, sex, whatever. When in doubt, don't ask.

4. Have a mentioned that comparing a fetus to an eyeball within the dragon's head of a uterus is completely poor form?

In the comments, tell me the worst thing you ever said to a pregnant woman. Or, tell me if you've ever asked a non-pregnant woman when she's due, and tell me how you survived the incident.

PS - Between this post and the one about nausea, I'm sure there's a bit of suspicion going on...the answer is no, and I'll raise you to a hell no. Why? Because I'd have to be a World Champion Ovulator for that to be even remotely possible.

PPS - My hypothetical baby names? Union Carbide and Enron. They're gonna grow up tougher than that boy named Sue.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

No Man Can Eat 50 Eggs. Nuggets Are a Whole 'Nother Thing

Have you ever noticed that the Universe will take your state of mind and push it to an illogical extreme? Likewise, have you ever noticed that if you are not feeling your best, the Universe will continue to exploit your weakness until you squawk?

For about the last week, I've been feeling queasy and headachy and so tired I get out of bed in the mornings by rolling off the mattress and onto the floor. The parquet floor, mind you. It's the thump and the bruising that finally wakes me up. Then I'm ready for a day of trudging through my obligations and climbing back into bed.

The Universe, for its part, has been playing merry hell with me. I've been assaulted with gnarly smells and lurching Metro drivers. The late summer malaise has hit me with full force.

However, nothing can quite compare to the Logan's Run office across the hall. Everyone is young, everyone is loud, and everyone cranks a cacophony of tasteful boy-rock. It's awful.

What's worse is that, as young folks are wont to do, they've begun daring each other to do revolting things, and then divulging the details. Friday's dare was to eat one hundred Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets, in one sitting. Apparently, the lucky contestant got to nugget number 75 and then puked a rainbow of fruit flavors.

Trust me, the image of 75 reconstituted nuggets is not helping with the nausea. Does anybody have a better remedy?