Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Barbiegeddon Bunker

This isn't the place to come to for informed, intelligent post-election analysis.

Instead, I've decided to skip ahead and map the road to 2012. Why live in the present, when the past has the lovely glow of idealism, and the future is yet to be shaped? So I'd like to get all Nostradamus on you, minus creepy predictions about blue turbans and Hister.

Instead, I'll forecast something scarier. I predict a Palin-O'Donnell ticket.

In fact, I would highly encourage one, just because I would love the entertainment value of Tea Party Barbiegeddon. And, due to circumstance, the endless gullibility of the public, and jerks like me who would vote Palin-O'Donnell for giggles...they could win.

They'd be taken at their word for everything they have ever said they could fix (hint: claiming you will balance the budget by eliminating "waste" is intellectual laziness of the highest order). And then they'll be forced to read the Constitution once in a while, and be disappointed with its actual contents. And then the electorate will be forced to take "Second Amendment remedies" to manage our disappointment.

This will hasten the onset of the Apocalypse, complete with Michael Bay explosions and a merry band of elitist survivors with artfully applied dirt and bruises. My current plan is to be one of those survivors. Heck, I want to be their leader.

To that end, I've decided to build the Barbiegeddon Bunker. I will stash it with gin and Twinkies and books above a fourth-grade reading level. I will interview participants, for both bartending skills and ability to fend off looters. And it will be fun. Karaoke among the cockroaches. Martinis amid the mayhem. Merry toasts to the decline of civilization. You don't even have to agree with my politics. You just have to be civil and agreeable. Who's in?

In the comments, tell me why you should be allowed to live in the Barbiegeddon Bunker. Or tell me how my college education, which I earned via hard work and graveyard shifts, makes me an "elitist" who is out of touch with the "Real America." Because I love divisive language and electoral nerd-bashing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Who's Got Two Thumbs and Ten Extra Pounds?

What with all the Marie Claire brouhaha this week (just Google "Marie Claire hates fat people" or similar if you want to see it), and my recent doctor's appointment, weight has been on my mind lately.

Yesterday, I asked my adorable Yoda-esque doctor to shove me onto that scale.

Please note that, due to a history of disordered eating, I only weigh myself at the doctor's office. (Also, please note that, due to a history of disordered eating, any icky troll comments will not be deleted, instead, my cadre of commenters will issue a verbal beatdown, the likes of which has not been seen since, "You're no Jack Kennedy." I prefer to let trolls show themselves for their true gruesome nature, vs. just quietly deleting them.)

The results were not surprising, but they were pretty damn scary. I am at the very tippy-top of a healthy BMI range, and 16 pounds more than I was at my physical last June. Ideally, I should weigh about 10 pounds less than the current total. I'm usually a little underweight, and I have never been anywhere near overweight.

I could blame any number of factors:

1. Thyroid and/or metabolism issues. Which, yes, I'm being tested for.
2. Those delicious breakfast Sunny Sandwiches at my deli. Canadian bacon, egg, and tomato mayonnaise on a kaiser roll? Yes, please!
3. My Italian-American fiance's preferred meal of pizza with a side of pizza, and sharing a home with all those carbalicious habits. On average, women who live with a male partner weigh more, because they start eating bigger portions of heavier food. (So sorry Brando, it's not you, it's not me, blame science!)
4. Copious indoor time brought about by Snowpocalypse, followed by Snowmageddon, followed by the new frontier of stretch pants in public.
5. The evils of the fast food industry. Never mind that I never actually eat fast food.
6. Stress! Of which I generally have plenty.
7. The chronic sinus infection that has sapped my energy and made me less active on weekends.

Or, instead of casting blame, I can start making some changes. Due to my medical history, diets are right out. And I don't run unless something is chasing me. And I sure as hell am not turning my wedding into an excuse for a weight-related anxiety freefall. (The second you turn your FB status into "Engaged," you get a bunch of ads exhorting you to lose weight for your wedding. One even cut to the chase and just said, "Hey! Fat bride!" Don't believe me? A bing search of "bridal weight loss program" turned up 2,890,000 results.)

Instead, I'm walking home from work (about an hour), swapping those Sunny sandwiches for an apple with peanut butter, and swapping my beers for vodka and soda with lime. The good doctor Yoda recommends I lose 1-2 pounds per month by making small changes.

I'll admit this is partially about health, and mostly about vanity. I miss my cuter clothes with non-elastic waistbands. And I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with saying that. Looking good leads to feeling good. If I didn't care at all about how I looked, wouldn't that be worse?

In the comments, tell me about your favorite small changes for a healthier life. Or just kick a little encouragement my way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Updates, the "I'm Still Here" Edition

Wow. "See you in September," went straight to, "I haven't seen you since September!"

My life has centered around work, which I don't talk about for ethics/common sense reasons, and wedding planning, which is excruciatingly dull to anyone who is NOT planning a wedding. My colors are black and white with red and yellow accents, the flowers will be Gerbera daisies, and the menu will be....HEY! Come back here!

See my point?

Also, my fiance moved in with me a few months back, which has provided a lot of entertainment. He's borne witness to the hoarder machinations of Marvellous. Also, the blasting boiler heat in our building has meant sleeping with the windows open, which leads to a lot of local color. Like the dude vomiting/coughing/violently ejecting his lungs below us, or the couple arguing, or the lady honking...and honking...and screaming out her car pick someone up for church. Because nothing says "Jesus" quite like, "Get your butt down here!"

Most importantly, a great mystery has been solved. Have you ever wondered, "What happens when two people who buy disaster-ready, bulk quantities of toilet paper move in together?" Easy. They buy shelves, display their collection with pride, and dub it: The Tush Mahal.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Courtland Milloy: D.C.'s Very Own Tea-Partier

By now, we all know how much I admire Sally Quinn, and her amazing ability to hang onto a job despite her utter lack of talent. Well, kids, there's a new contender in town for Washington's Worst Journalist:

Courtland Milloy

He was previously known for filling up the news hole with the reasons women wear wrap dresses (so we can show our bits), or discussing his annual "blood fast" (whatever the heck that is). Sometimes, he even says it's fine when 80 kids brawl on the Metro, because at least nobody was carrying a gun. Yesterday, he sank to new levels. In Milloy's world, once you hit the bottom of the taste barrel, it's time to grab a shovel and see how tacky things look in China.

Read this. I'll wait. Then I'll start ranting, hopefully a mite more coherently than Mr. Milloy did.

First, I'd like to point out that the original title was "Ding dong, Fenty's Gone." Classy.

But let's take a page from Vincent Gray, and let's start healing and uniting and joining hands and buying the world a Coke. Let's get past Milloy's sore winner bleating, the flights of fancy, and the writing that reads more like a 13-year-old girl's journal entry. ("Adrian pushed my cafeteria tray out of my hands and then Michelle laughed at me! Mom says they're jus jellus. I'll show them tomorrow in study hall!")

Let's try to discuss his essay on its merits.

Lordy. What merits?

The argument: Adrian Fenty is a mean bad man because he didn't show proper deference to little old ladies, because he fired city employees (who occasionally happened to be black women), and because he just wasn't a nice enough guy.

Also, if you voted for Fenty, you're pretty much a racist.

Mr. Milloy, we get it. You really, really don't like white people. And you hate Facebook and Twitter, and wish the clock would stop and we wouldn't have to use those newfangled things called tellyphones. And white people who use "social media" (quotation marks courtesy of Mr. Milloy) are "myopic little twits."

Of course, if you object to his inflammatory rhetoric, it doesn't matter who you voted for. You're a racist, too! You're saying "You blacks, always playing the race card." (Milloy's words.) You also want to return to a "plantation-style" of government. Oh, and Fenty is a "fascist," which makes you a sympathizer if you voted for him. Personally, I can't picture myself as Scarlett O'Hara Butler Mussolini, but I do think it would make for a nifty Halloween costume.

Does anyone else get shades of Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin when they read this? A throaty sing-song of, "Only those who agree with me are the true patriots, so let's all demonize the enemy and shake our tiny fists at the heavens"? Just me? Ok.

I was an undecided voter right up until I walked into the booth, but in the end, I voted for Fenty. If that makes me a honky interloper and a "myopic twit," so be it. This city is my home, I love it here, and I'm not going to listen to anyone who tells me I don't belong because I enjoy the occasional cappuccino and think bike sharing is sort of neat.

I voted for Fenty because the city's school system is criminally inept, and it's been shortchanging kids for generation after generation. The best D.C. jobs are held by suburban imports because the locals don't get the required training, which excaberates poverty and hopelessness. We need real schools where kids can learn.

Michelle Rhee managed to get a new contract with the Washington Teachers' Union, a body mostly known for stonewalling, advocating tirelessly for the downtrodden and incompetent, and egregious financial scandals. Tenure for life after two years of service? Not any more. I'm forever grateful. That alone gets my vote. And if the WTU endorses and campaigns for you, like it did with Gray? You better believe I'm voting for the other guy.

I'm willing to give Gray a chance. I'm all for healing and progress and scooping up those who have been left behind. What I'm against is the likes of Courtland Milloy, "responsible journalists" who gloat and excaberate tensions just for the sake of settling scores and slinging metaphorical monkey poo.

In the comments, tell me if I'm a racist. Or run a find-replace and republish Milloy's essay swapping the words "white" and "black," if you need to further understand what an offensive piece of schlock it truly is.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Vuvuzelas of the Blogverse, or, Tell Me Your Peeves

I'll admit to being a persnickety, peevish old crank. I'll also admit to being a bit of a blowhard when it comes to, well, all sorts of things. And I'll admit I'm not perfect, or even merely extraordinary.

Enough disclaimers for you? Ok, then, let's rant n' roll. In particular, let's rant about Annoying and Grody Internet Stuff That Makes Me Bonkers. The vuvuzelas of the blogverse, so to speak. Here's my personal top ten blogverse and internet peeves:

1. Any variation of "nom nom nom." Eating noises, are, frankly, gross (I personally can't abide the sound of crunching or slurping). So why on Earth are we imitating those noises? What's next, literary interpretations of fart sounds? (Please, no.)

2. "I peed my pants," to indicate merriment. Beyond trite. And I really don't want to picture a bunch of incontinent people whizzing onto their laptops.

3. "I threw up in my mouth a little," to indicate disgust. Gross. And even more trite than wetting yourself.

4. "I just spat [hipster liquid] on my keyboard," to indicate amusement. Why are you still typing? Shouldn't you get up and get a rag or something?

5. "Nosh." Yes, I know it's Yiddish. You know what else it is? An annoying word.

6. Any variation of "Squeeeee!" or "Eeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!" Yes, I've used the latter. But that was to indicate that I was recently engaged, not that Miller High Life was on sale at Giant or that lavender was my new favorite color. It's annoyingly cutesy, like the Vera Bradley handbag of the blogverse.

7. Not really a word or phrase, but excessive quotes of any of the following: Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Family Guy, or, well, really, if I could get a one-hour break from Always Sunny references, I'll lump any number of other TV references.

8. Gchat transcripts as blog posts. Really. We know you have friends. Simply posting a transcript comes across as "Look how funny and awesome my friend @hotstuffblogger is! Eeeee and squeee!" It's also lazy - either ask your funny friend to do a guest post, or at least condense the transcript.

9. LOLcat speak. It's kind of cute when kittens and lizards do it. You're a grownup. Write like one. (Unless your blog is intended for an audience of kittens and lizards, because well, that's awesome and makes you really cutting-edge).

10. People who self-righteously complain in list format like persnickety and peevish weirdos. Like, uh, me.

In the comments, get it all out. Tell me your peeves. It'll feel good. Or try to tick me off.
Also, welcome back to Lemmonex.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sorry He Hijacked Your Party

Ever meet one of those people who just tries way too hard? A social Sisyphus, struggling mightily against the forces of his own uncoolness?

I recently had the pleasure of meeting The King of That Person. He was loud. Very, very loud. Not as funny as he is loud. In fact, not really funny. At all. But that didn't stop him from making "jokes" for hours on end, and interpreting the pained smiles of others as ample encouragement. If you were going to host a wedding in Hell, this man would be your DJ. This man is the Electric Slide and the Chicken Dance rolled into one epically unfunny package. He was, in a word, oneofthemostdreadfulpeopleIhaveevermetinmylife.

He hit on the host's date, in front of the host. He was punched in the arm for his efforts (by the girl...and while I don't condone violence, this was exactly the sort of person who deserves to be punched by a girl). He also nearly took a sock in the face from another guest. He badgered us incessantly about going to a bar, while the rest of us were quite cozy and quite happy to stay in for the night. Luckily, we were able to tune him out enough to keep the evening enjoyable and pleasant, but it made me do you avoid becoming That Guy?

Think about it. If you're a little less than self-aware, and you believe that you're funny, there is almost nothing stopping you from holding your fellow man hostage to your lectures and roundabout, amplified, yet limp flavor of humor. We've all been that person who droned on a little too long, or mistook politeness for interest, or made friends sit through eleventy billion vacation slides. Or we've been that person who felt awkward in a group of new people, and overcompensated by cracking too many jokes. How do you tell when you've crossed the line?

Easily. When you are threatened with bodily harm by more than one person in the course of an evening, you should probably cool it.

In the comments, tell me about the last time you were witness to a party hijack situation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In Which I Have Feelings. Which May or Not Have Something to Do With Tea Leoni's Legs.

I've been feeling a little overwhelmed lately.

This is due to several forms of maturity converging all at once. My job, which is one like a grownup would have, has been very busy lately. My impending marriage/wedding planning/upcoming installation of an in-house fiance have all conspired to keep my stress levels high. The worst part is that all this maturity means that I am no longer 22, which means I don't have the energy to keep up with it all.

So, woe is me. Life is hard. I have a great job and a fiance who loves me enough to endure repeated listenings of "The Promise" by When in Rome forever and ever, amen. And, when I get tired of that, I can always rock out to the Xanadu soundtrack. Also, my diamond shoes are too tight, my ruby crown is too heavy, and it's so inconvenient when I have to drive the Maserati instead of the Bentley. I know. My life is fantastic. I could really use a little more perspective and learn to appreciate everything that I have.

But I still can't get past that feeling of being overwhelmed. I feel sort of like that scene in Deep Impact where Tea Leoni is standing on the beach with her dad, waiting for the end via ginormous CGI tidal wave. Except the movie of my life wouldn't have such a porny title (unless 21 Hump Street is still available.) And I will never, ever have Tea Leoni's legs. Seriously, those things look like they were sculpted from the tears of angels and poured down straight from heaven. Thinking about Tea Leoni's legs have gotten me through many a difficult time in my life, and I'm not even into women. I just appreciate them as a work of art.

I'll leave you with a final thought: it's kind of awesome that can get from stress to porn to Tea Leoni's legs in four paragraphs or less. However, it's less awesome that my state of mind these days makes that a typical chain of thought, vs. anything out of the ordinary. It implies a certain amount of scatter-brainedness.

In the comments, tell me how you deal with stress. Or tell me if anyone has better legs than Tea Leoni.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Everybody Dance Now. Because Emperor Marky Mark Wants Us to Swing It.

You know that point, right in the beginning of "Sweet Home Alabama," when the singer says, "Turn it up!" I always respond, "Why, of course!" (out loud, no less, and in a very chipper voice). And then I crank the volume. This does not endear me to my colleagues, but it has led to some interesting conversations with the mailman.

I've realized that I am highly prone to suggestion. I've also realized how much more fun the world would be if we all obeyed the imperative sentences within pop songs.

Picture it: C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," comes up on a speaker, and the whole street just starts rocking out. That is pretty much utopia!
Of course, there are dangers. The Funky Bunch tells us to "swing it" on a rainy day, and we all start swinging our umbrellas and poking each other in the eye. Then again, we'll have racial harmony in Washington, as "Black, white, red brown feel the vibration!" And then, as a racially united America, we'd fight the obesity epidemic together with "Jump Around."

In the comments, link to the song you think we should all follow for an Awesome New World Order. Or tell me I've lost my marbles, but never mind, the marbles are in your pocket.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Have a Blessed Day. I'll Wait.

First of all, how did my blog surpass 200,000 hits without my noticing? At the very least, I should have thrown myself a parade.

Anywhosits, longtime readers know that I have a talent for encounters with the differently sane. But a few weeks back, I experienced a true winner. Naturally, it was on the Metro, Washington's repository for the mentally overheated.

I trundled onto my train and took a seat. Between stations, my seatmate turned to me and said, "Have a blessed day." Assuming this was a farewell, I said, "You too!" I returned my attention to the Washington Post's Weird Disease of the Week Section (er, Health and Science).

This is where it gets weird. Instead of getting up at the next stop, she remained in her seat and stared at me. For the next three stations.

After a few slugs of my purse bourbon, I was able to formulate some theories. Perhaps she was a guardian angel, and wanted to remain with me to ensure that I had a blessed day. Maybe she was an elaborate social experiment. Or, maybe, she was so intent on my stunning new shade of lipstick that she found herself distracted and she missed her stop.

Or, she was just a loon. What do you think?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Trolley Tours: Because I'd Always Wanted to Be Nearly Squished by Someone Argumentative and Rude

I'm not one of those bloggers whose fingers fly to the keyboard every time I have a consumer ax to grind.

However, since Trolley Tours made it completely impossible to find a live human being to discuss this issue, I have to take it to the blogverse. Enjoy the sputtering fury.

Thursday, August 5. About 5:25 pm. 10th and F NW. Last digit of the DC license plate was 9, second to last was most likely a 4. Hard to tell, what with all the adrenaline.

I approached the intersection, and saw a tour bus to my right with its blinker on. I had about ten seconds left on the Walk signal, so I looked for traffic and stepped into the crosswalk. The Trolley Tours driver proceeded to turn right, even though I was in the crosswalk, and very nearly ran me over. I scurried across and did the raised arm "What the hell?" signal that Washingtonians have to master during tour bus "Pedestrian as Prey" season.

Most drivers shrug or apologize (if they apologize, they get a pass - if they shrug, I report them to their employer).

This Trolley Tours driver (mid to late 30s, African American, heavyset), argued with me. He claimed that I had crossed against the light (I had not, I had a Walk signal - it turned red while I was blocked and then dodging for my life). Moreover, shouldn't he have looked both ways for pedestrians before turning? I pointed out that I would have made it across before the light changed, had he not blocked me from crossing. Then he yelled at me a little more, made some angry hand gestures, and drove off.

When I got home, I tried to call Trolley Tours. Oh, how I tried. The number is unlisted (I also tried to call right after it happened), the website sends you to a phone number, the phone number sends you to the website, and pressing 0 sends you to some woman in Key West who tells you to call back another time. Requesting "representative" gets you dumbfounded silence, followed by a continued spiel on why I should really just get back to the Trolley Tours website already.

So, Trolley Tours. Breaking the law, wholly inadequate with the service, and argumentatively homicidal. Have I mentioned the company name is Trolley Tours? Trolley Tours, folks. Trolley Tours.

In the comments, tell your friends to use anyone but Trolley Tours.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Weekend in Maine, or, What Happens When You Mix Microbrews with Floor Tequila

Opening sentences I contemplated using for this blog post:

1. If I had a bucket list of items guaranteed to shoot me straight to Hades, I would have crossed off at least half of them last weekend.

2. Have you ever vomited hot coffee by the side of a road in New Gloucester, Maine?

3. Hallmark does not make an apology card stylish enough to express the regret, "I'm sorry I got sick in your tent."

4. Maine is the South of the North: everyone is terribly nice, they like their trucks and their dogs, and most of all, they love their beer.

5. Keep a close eye on your camera when your drunk tablemate is wearing a kilt. You may get a nasty surprise.

6. He went into that tent a NASCAR boy, he came out of that tent a NASCAR man.

7. When I feel a little low, when I feel a little ashamed, I just have to remind myself that I have never motorboated a pregnant woman. I'm also a little ashamed that I didn't think of that one myself.

8. I did, however, apparently get in a catfight over blankets while both I and my opponent were completely asleep.

9. When the tiny private plane hits turbulence over a graveyard, and there's a funeral going on, there's only one lesson you can learn: turn around! Unfortunately for the state of Maine, we kept on going.

10. I always thought of myself as an impressive drinker. Then I went to Maine.

Since any and all of those sentences give you the gist of the most awesome weekend I've had since the last time I went to a wedding where the groom and one of the guests went joyriding in a golfcart using a cellphone as a flashlight, and people played volleyball in formalwear, and one of the guests showered while drinking a beer, and this sentence is a glorious run-on as it is, I will instead close this post with a song:

Toddy, by Black Taxi. No song better encapuslates my weekend. NSFW due to the fact that most of the comprehensible lyrics are f-bombs, aside from a reference to scratching a truck, and because such unrelenting awesomeness cannot be confined to a cubicle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Short Monday Story

So, there I was, standing in the kitchen, eating leftover Chinese food over the sink.

Suddenly, an errant and goopy snow pea lodged itself in my throat. I started to cough, and hack, and gag. At that moment, my fiancé came to my rescue, running in from the living room.

“Here, Shan, have a glass of water.”

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any water. In his haste, he left it sitting on the coffee table. Instead, his hand was in almost a perfect pantomime of holding a glass of water.

Thought one: Oh, so this is how I die.

Thought two: This is hilarious.

Luckily, the helpless laughter dislodged the snow pea. Call it a Heimlich via hilarity.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fever Kvetch

Sometimes, it's a blessing that Netflix delights in sending me defective DVD's.

Last night, I sat down to watch Fever Pitch. The American version about the Red Sox. Can we just rename the movie, "Every Annoying and Oppressive Gender Stereotype, Ever?"

See, Lindsay (Drew Barrymore) is around 30 and single. Which, in this film, means she's chomping at the bit to settle down. Especially because she's the last single person in her group. In rapid order, we learn that she's single for the same reasons all movie women are single: she's too into her career, her success scares men off, her girlfriends aid her in overanalyzing every relationship, and, oh, she's too picky.
In fact, there's a whole scene where it takes hours and several trendy workouts for her friends to alternately convince her to go on a first date, or cancel, with the Jimmy Fallon character.

Could we, just once, have a movie where the woman is single because she just hasn't found the right guy yet? Or because she's focusing on other things, or, even more radically, just prefers to be alone?

Enter Jimmy Fallon, playing Jimmy Fallon. I'm sure his character has a name, I just don't remember it. So Jimmy is this goofy schoolteacher, and romance blossoms amid all the vomit (really...there's a food poisoning vomit sequence).
He goes to meet her friends. The girlfriends are all astonished that he's "still single" (at 30ish! Horrors!) and hadn't been "tagged and bagged." So they all begin to speculate on what is wrong with him. (Maybe he just hasn't met the right person?) All this movie needed was a woman saying, "All the good ones are either taken or gay."

At this point, I may have started yelling at my television.

As it turns out, he's a nerdy sports fan. And sort of immature, and he dresses like a "man-boy." Because what this movie really needed to do is remind us that all men are immature twits until some woman comes along and makes them over and forces them to grow up. And then they don't have any fun anymore, because women are harpies who press a man to commit, then suck all the joy out of his life.

Anyways, there was something about a pregnancy scare and a trip to Paris. Right then, in my Kevorkian cinematic moment, the DVD died.

So I tried to imagine the rest of the movie. In my version, Lindsay realizes she could just go to occasional games, and let Jimmy nerd out all he wants because that gives her more time to hang out with her friends. And she figures out that it's OK for a guy to dress a little schlubby, if he's nice to you and makes you laugh. And Jimmy undergoes a neurological testing, and realizes he has some sort of curable disorder that makes him all schticky and annoying. And he gets cured, and her girlfriends stop being total pills, then they all live happily ever after.
In the comments, be a script doctor for Fever Pitch.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Have You Hugged a Bridezilla Today?

Opinions on weddings are like dead salesmen under the staircase: everyone has a lot of them.

Or is that just me?

Anyway, the moment you say you're engaged, you will absorb opinions from virtually every corner of the Known Universe. Weddings are too stuffy nowadays. They've become tacky and gauche. Registries are a courtesy to your guests! Registries are gauche! Dollar dances are fun! Dollar dances are gauche! (Note: I hadn't even heard of the 'dollar dance' until recently, and let me just say I am not combining an open bar with people safety-pinning money to my dress. It sounds like a great way to get stabbed.) And the saddest, most common opinion of them all: weddings are stupid and lame and expensive and everyone should just elope.

Killjoy, party of one!

I want a wedding. I love to throw a good party. I just don't want to throw a good party that is filled with people I don't know or care about, that adds up to years of debt.

But I'm just a few weeks in, and I can see why some brides lose their headpieces altogether. There are very strong, and often conflicting, expectations on How Weddings Are Done. And you feel like virtually anyone will hurl the word "bridezilla" at you for virtually anything, from demanding your bridesmaids get matching haircuts (yes, 'zilla) to not wanting their single guests to bring a random date because it will shoot the budget to hell (no, not 'zilla).

One bride on the wedding forum I frequent (shut up) asked the group if what she was doing was bizarre and unheard of or totally inappropriate.

At this point, I thought she was going to enter the reception on a carousel horse that had been mounted on a giant Pogo stick, to the strains of "Babalu." And I was ready to applaud her unique vision.

No. The poor lady just wanted to have a dessert buffet with cannolis and tiramasu, instead of a standard cake. And for this, she fully expected to be shamed and hassled. And, honestly, I am sure some nosy, badly-in-need-of-a-life old biddy relative will lay on the guilt because she expected to see a flavorless mass of white fondant.

Ultimately, I don't agree with the people who say, "It's your day! Do what you want!" Because if that were the case, wouldn't we just do away with guests altogether? But it's a feat of tact and class to balance what you want and what your intended wants, all while making sure your guests will be pleased and the expenses won't haunt you for years to come.

Now, this post isn't me complaining. I have a long and storied history of not giving a damn about what people think of me. But if you have an engaged friend who left her better senses somewhere in a pile of tulle, cut her some slack. She's probably just stressed and doing the best she can.

In the comments, tell me the fine line between bride and bridezilla.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Pants Really Made the Outfit Hang Together

After the debacle of the Bridal Book, I decided to swing by Staples last night to pick up some office supplies and make my own Bridal Book.

While I was there, I noticed that Cleanser with Bleach was on sale for a dollar. (Yes, I know it’s bad to wash your home with chemicals. But I don’t have pets or kids, so I will use chemicals until such time as I catch party guests licking the kitchen counters. At which point I will continue to use chemicals…once I have moved to a new home without leaving a forwarding address.)

Anyway, I picked up a bottle of Cleanser with Bleach from the bottom shelf. The bottle, as it turns out, was unscrewed. A torrent of cleanser and bleach washed across the floor, my arms, and my pants. With tingly arms and a wounded spirit, I wandered up to the cash register. I asked for a restroom, paper towels, and a chance to wash up.

The very nice Staples clerks, discombobulated as they were, granted my requests. I washed up, and again, and again, until the bleach tingliness had subsided.

After I left the store, I deliberated on my next course of action. I’m pretty sure Staples owes me a pair of pants. I decided to write a letter. An angry letter demanding restitution for the dishonor done to my pants.

I was set upon this course of action until I remembered one thing: I’d watched The Big Lebowski over the weekend. And, since I’m pretty sure it’s a totally true story, demanding a new rug led the Dude to a dead friend, a trashed apartment, a kidnapping mystery, and a destroyed car. So maybe I ought to not tempt the Fates in such a way.

However, it’s somewhat gratifying to know that, no matter how happy I am, the real world will always be there to ruin my pants.

In the comments, imagine the movie where I get involved in a Staples-centric film noir.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Promise this Won't Be a Wedding Blog

So, now that I'm engaged*, I get to plan a wedding.

Goals: Have a fun party the guests enjoy, not have crushing stage fright in a room stacked full of random strangers, while not going into debt, not putting anyone else into debt, not getting any urge to dress up like that bride there on the right, and, most importantly, to get married. Yay!

Last night, I decided to kick off the process by swinging by the going-out-of-business sale at my local Borders. I seem to recall, from weddings past, that you can buy these "wedding organizer" binders. And they have pockets. For receipts and contracts and things! And checklists! And you can walk around with your big-ass Bride Binder and watch as legions of strangers on every sidewalk stop and swoon with joy! Because it's all about me! Me! Wonderful me! (And maybe my fiance.)

As you can probably already tell, this excursion was not a raging success. First I had to ask the staff member if wedding planning books could be found under "Political Science," or, "History of Warfare," as those struck me as the most logical locations. Apparently they live in a land called, "General Reference."

Then I went to the Bride Shelf. It was hell. Arsenic-laced cotton candy with a side of dead puppies hell.
Everything was this shade of pink I can only describe as "flourescent gynecology textbook." There was the pink Budget Bride. The pink Elegant Bride. The pink I Have a Life Bride. There was even a pink "Anti-Bride's Guide." (I briefly considered stacking The Bride's Guide and the Anti-Bride's Guide on top of each other to create an explosion. But that would have only improved the aesthetic of the Bride Shelf.)

Eventually, I gave up and bought a box set of Ed Wood movies. Hey, at least the Ed Wood box was pink, right?
*As my friend Worth pointed out, Monday's post never mentioned whether or not I said "yes." I did. So there you go.

Monday, June 28, 2010

EEEEEE!!!!!!, EEEEE!!!!!, !!!!, and !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the thing. I'm not what anyone would call "observant" or "prone to paying attention to anything at all." I've fallen for "gullible isn't in the dictionary." More than once.

So, Saturday, when my boyfriend said we had to get up early and go to brunch at Belga Cafe, because his parents were arriving around 1:00 and we should eat first, I didn't put two and two together. (Let's face it, I can't put one and one together before noon.) I was just grumpy that I had to drag myself out of bed at the ungodly, unreasonable hour of 10:00 a.m.

Things that did not occur to me, but probably should have:
1. It was our anniversary, after dating for a year.
2. We went to Belga Cafe on our first date.
3. There was no logical reason for us to take a walk down Pennsylvania Avenue after brunch. Especially not to "find out the schedule for the World Cup."

So, let's just say I didn't add it up until there was a bended knee, a beautiful ring, and a whole lot of shrieking and bouncing up and down. And being congratulated by the bouncer from the 18th Amendment.

But that wasn't the end of the surprises. My future in-laws came down from New York to celebrate with us, and take us out for dinner. We decided to pop over to Capitol Lounge for a quick drink after dinner.

Things that did not occur to me, but probably should have:
1. It was almost impossible to get anyone on the phone Saturday. Seriously - it was like all of Washington had vanished.
2. Capitol Lounge? In the basement? Was the basement even open yet?

It was open. Moreover, about twenty of our friends were gathered there to celebrate with us! A surprise engagement party! There was champagne! And brownies! And decorations! And people! From all over D.C. and even New York! And there was shrieking! So much shrieking it was like the Jonas Brothers were in town! EEEEEEE!!!!! And photos! Lovely photos! And lovely people! And so much love!!!

In related news, Cloud Nine is composed almost completely of exclamation points.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Etiquette for Urban Couch-Crashers

Whenever I read an article about houseguest etiquette, it always includes suggestions about "keeping the guest room neat" and "not monopolizing the washer and dryer." Of course, these laws are quite welcome in the McMansion fairyland of the outer ‘burbs. But for urban dwellers, they're pretty laughable. My "guest room" is an air mattress, tucked in a nook between the stereo and the balcony. And I drag my laundry to the basement, as our good deities of rent control intended.

But that hasn't stopped me from running a highly unprofitable friends-and-family youth hostel out of my apartment. (My current visitor/college roommate is my fourth houseguest of the month.)

So what are some etiquette rules for urban houseguests? Well, I'm glad you asked:

1. Determine arrival and departure dates well in advance. As much as it's wonderful to see friends and family, I want to know when I can go back to my usual routine of eating Popsicles on the couch, clad in nothing but Underoos and cowboy boots while watching Xanadu on an endless loop.

2. Ben Franklin apparently coined the expression, "Fish and houseguests stink after three days." I would like to update it to, "Guests who remain longer than three days get a pair of kitchen scissors to the neck, and their carcasses thrown over the side of the balcony.” A long weekend is plenty, especially in a small space.

3. Don’t scatter your crap. Keep your belongings in neat piles in one or two places in your host’s home. Bonus: Don’t unceremoniously shove/move/dump on the floor any of your host’s belongings to make room for your stuff. Need more space? Ask.

4. Respect household timing and routines. You’re on vacation, but your host might not be. Don’t stay up late cranking music, and don’t wander into the bathroom to take a shower right as your host is trying to get ready for work. (That is, unless you have a burning need to flash your host. I shower at 7:15, come hell or hot water, and I personally don’t care if you’re already in there or not.)

5. If you’re driving, make parking arrangements with your host in advance. Cities are not car-friendly, and you probably cannot just pull right up and park anywhere you want. You may have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to move your car to a metered space, you may have to pay for it to be garaged, or you may have to cruise for an hour to find a spot. None of these things are within your host’s control, so please keep your frustrations to yourself.

6. Speaking of keeping things to yourself, don’t criticize your host’s cleanliness, décor, neighborhood, food, or, really, don’t criticize anything at all. If you’re that picky, you can have things however you want at the Holiday Inn.

7. Back to cars…cities are not car-friendly. Most of your destinations will involve walking and public transit. Wear appropriate footwear and don’t insinuate that your host should be driving you everywhere. If they offer to drive you, accept their kind offer graciously. (Especially don’t insist your host drive you to Adams Morgan on a Saturday night, in fact, don’t ask them to take you to Adams Morgan at all. It’s the Howard the Duck of nightlife districts.)

8. Don’t forget to thank your hosts for their hospitality. A bottle of wine, a dinner out, or even just a nice note or email will do.

Of course, hosts have responsibilities here, too:

1. Your home doesn’t have to be immaculate, but stay away from gnarly. Give the kitchen and the bathroom a once-over, and if your guest room is an air mattress, sweep the floors. Nobody wants to wake up next to last month’s tortilla fragments. While you’re at it, try to clear a little closet or luggage space for your guests. They’ll be a lot neater if there’s a designated area for their stuff.

2. Chill. Out. Don’t program every minute, or freak if a vase gets moved two millimeters to the right.

3. Find out if your guests have any dietary issues or allergies, and make a small grocery run. You definitely don’t have to cater every meal, but do keep coffee, a few breakfast items, and maybe some snacks on hand. And if your guests are anything like mine, triple up on the booze.

4. Sometimes, tourist traps happen to good people. Be a good sport if your visitors want to go somewhere odious, like the Air and Space Museum. However, if your guests want to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl, cold sober in the harsh light of day, and wait in a ridiculous line for watery chili, you have my permission to tell them it’s an overrated tacky tourist trap that only tastes good after the bars close.

In the comments, tell me about your houseguest rules. Or, tell me about your worst houseguest ever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Frogger Dilemma

Clearly, bus drivers in Washington are a special breed. They do things like punch out McGruff the Crime Dog* (though I have my own issues with McGruff). Then they are reinstated, with back pay for clocking a Crime Dog. Because anyone who punches a mascot is completely mentally stable and ought to be trusted with the safety of Washington's citizens.

And those are just the official drivers. In summer, the city gets flooded with all flavors of tour bus operators, most of whom have no experience with city driving and have never observed a pedestrian in its natural habitat. My daily walk home has gone from pleasant diversion to high-stakes Frogger.

The primary issue is that these tour bus troublemakers have never learned how to yield to a pedestrian. So I get stuck playing this game of chicken where I have the light, put one foot in the crosswalk, and stare down the driver until he stops the bus and lets me pass. Sometimes, instead of stopping, he'll nudge me out of the intersection. In a game of Tour Bus vs. Mighty Munchkin, there are no winners.

I'm fighting back, though. Every day, I carry a pen and a piece of paper. I also keep my cameraphone handy. I write down the bus company, vehicle number, intersection, time, and date, and call their employer as soon as I get home. I don't know how much it does, but it feels pretty good.

In the comments, tell me how you deal with homicidal tour bus drivers. Or just bitch about tourist season in general.

*Am I the only one who kind of wishes the police officer dressed as McGruff had been a woman? Because then the driver could have said, "The bitch set me up?" Just me? OK.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The ACOD Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Al and Tipper Gore...are no more. I do not know how I can go through life, or ever believe in love again, as my marital ideal has been irreparably shattered.

Oh, please. I was far more bummed when Buffy stabbed Angel in the gut and shipped him straight to hell.

Before anyone calls the men in the white suits and butterfly nets (who, for the record, are on the speed dial of all my nearest and dearest), I am aware of the difference between fact and fiction. However, since I do not know anyone involved, it's all the same to me.

What's even stranger to me is the media hand-wringing over what shall become of their poor children. (Who are, may I point out, competent adults.) There's even a term for it all: ACODs (Adult Children of Divorce), because anything bad that happens must be medicalized until it's completely trivial.

In fact, I recently came across this article in the Guardian. Not only is it awesome because it features quotes by Lee Borden (my divorce lawyer! Eeeeee!), it's awesome because of all the garment-rending that occurs when competent adults have to (gasp!) deal with adult things.

OK, I'm sounding heartless here. Blame it on Au Bon Pain being out of my favorite kind of sandwich. But not only am I divorced, I'm one of those tragic ACODs. My parents split when I was 21, just a few months after I completed college.

And, you know what? I lived. It was OK. In fact, it was better than OK, as my parents seemed happier for it. They're friends now and get along just fine. There was awkwardness, and transition, and mourning, but in the end it all worked out.

Here are some things I learned, may it help the Gore children* and the other ACODs of the world:

1. In the term ACOD, the keyword is "adult." You're a grownup. You can handle it. Really.

2. Yes, you will feel guilty that your parents stayed together "for the kids." But that was their choice, as adults, to do. It's not your fault. So let go of the guilt, and thank them for their sacrifice.

3. While we're talking about "not your fault," the divorce is not your fault. In fact, it basically has nothing to do with you. Seeing the divorce as 'all about ME and MY feelings!' is an act of narcissism - whatever pain you're going through, your parents are going through far worse. They did not do this to "break up your family," destroy your perfect world, or throw a wrench into Thanksgiving plans. Marinate yourself in a little Boone's Farm, sob to your friends, then dust yourself off and get on with it.

4. Understand that your parents are undergoing a profound emotional journey. Divorce is an ugly, miserable thing that upends your life, obliterates your daily routines, and erases all your plans for the future. It's a "reset" button that usually only gets pressed after massive system failure. Getting divorced, instead of limping along in a bad marriage, is an act of courage. Sadly, for many folks who haven't been there, it is seen as an act of weakness. Your parents aren't being weak.

5. A child of divorce is generally shielded from the inner workings of the breakup. However, if you're an adult, expect your parents to lean on you a bit and maybe give you some gory details. That's a good thing - they're demonstrating faith in your ability to handle it like an adult. Because, as we've established, you're an adult.

6. One of the great lessons of adulthood is being able to see your parents as people. Assets, liabilities, strengths, weaknesses, gaping character flaws and all. What you're experiencing is simply a crash course version of that lesson.

In the comments, tell me if I'm being really harsh, or find a way to make the title of the post have anything to do with the content of the post. Or speculate about the Gore divorce.

*Am I the only person who thinks they're all named Karenna?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Can You Hear My Body Talking?

Apparently, no matter how a woman positions her feet, it means she totally wants to jump your bones. In related news, this article purports to explain women's body language.*

Let's get the obvious bit out of the way: yes, the article is sexist and full of obnoxious stereotypes.

Apparently, like all women, I am a manipulative, hyperemotional weirdo who, "Say[s] "I'm fine" when [I] mean "I am about to start bawling -- and I'll never let you forget it." And you can tell by my posture that I'm "prepared to be obedient." (Unless I'm decked out in bondage gear, an apron, and am making you a sandwich, stay far away from that assumption.) Finishing the article felt like coughing up a hairball of shame in a windstorm of self-loathing.

But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that it's the most godawful advice about women I've ever seen. I was waiting to be told that when I take a special lady to the movies, I ought to yawn and then drape my arm across her shoulder.

Every pose means that the headless babe in the photos totally wants you:

Hand on neck: Trusts you, wants to jump your bones.
Hand on waist: Apparently a very aloof form of zombie, but still wants to jump your bones.
Crossed legs: Obedient (ed note: barf), will sit there forever for the opportunity to jump your bones.
Crossed legs, perched on chair: Wants to aggressively jump your bones.
Sitting up straight: Thinks she's at church, but would jump your bones at church.
One knee on chair: The other knee would like to be jumping your bones.

I could go on, but you get the idea. If this article catches on, every fidget, pose, shifting of feet or neck itch will be interpreted as a blatant come-on. The bars of America will be filled with shrieking women, hurling bar tables and pool cues at the relentless hordes of clueless men, who are just trying to attain the impromptu bone-jumpings promised to them by Asylum. Eventually, women will invent new postures to throw them off the scent, so that every sidewalk looks like an interpretive dance recital. Eventually, women will find a way to live as motionless fleshy mannequins, men will give up, and the human race will die out.

That's right, folks: We're not just looking at awkward and juvenile bad advice, we're staring into the abyss. If this article catches on, it'll be the END OF HUMANKIND.

*Hat tip Adrienne for finding this slice of Internet glory.

In the comments, tell me about your posture, and whether it means you think I'm sexy. Or tell me the plot of your dystopian film, set five years after the Asylum article is adopted as the new gospel.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Henry Cavill Has an Awesome Butt, and Everything Else I Learned from "The Tudors"

You know how I'm always a few years behind the curve? Well, I recently "discovered" the Showtime series The Tudors on Netflix. Man, I've never seen anything quite as awesome as The Tudors. I'm only at the beginning of Season Two, and I've never been so entertained. (No spoilers, please, I really want to know if those Henry and Anne kids can work things out.)

I think the dirty little joke here is that the whole series is a joke, but nobody bothered to tell the audience. Instead, because there are actual historic figures involved, and everyone is wearing sumptuous costumes which get ripped off a lot, the audience feels like it's getting a marginally educational experience. It's like Masterpiece Theatre by way of Zalman King.

Personally, I've learned nothing, aside from the fact that Henry Cavill has a bare ass for the ages.

I'm not one of those tiresome people who squawk over every historical inaccuracy. It's nerdy and picky, like that guy from my college dorm who would count bullets during action movies and complain bitterly whenever anyone popped any extra shots.
I don't care about Henry's magically disappearing older sister, or that everyone dies in the wrong sequence and Anne Boleyn was by most accounts not half as hubba-hubba as Natalie Dormer. I don't even care that the costumes are often centuries off target, not to mention a bit skanky. People, it's entertainment involving boiling people to death like so much human ramen! Scads of nudity! And thuddingly bad dialogue interspersed with awkward pauses. (Really. It's pretty obvious the actors are waiting politely for the P.A. to turn over their cue card.) And it's hilarious that everyone goes commando for every occasion, like a RenFaire Lindsay Lohan.

Plus, all those inaccuracies open the door for further entertainment. In this world, the strapping (not to mention ginger) Henry VIII is a skinny brunette man-bitch who whines a lot. And, to show age, the costumers just sort of add a bit of extra padding and some unfortunate facial hair.

However, the finest moment of all, the second I realized that the writers hadn't even cracked open Wikipedia, let alone a book, came up over the weekend. They showed Henry VIII composing Greensleeves. Yes, I know there's a legend that he wrote it for Anne Boleyn, but sheesh. It's a style of music that didn't even exist yet. Henry would have needed prodigous musical talent, a time machine, and a magical compositional leprechaun to whisper the tune into his ear. And even then he probably would just come up with "Chopsticks."

At that point, I decided The Tudors is taking place in that purgatorial sideways place all my Lostie friends are complaining about. Next, I fully expect a scene where Henry VIII invents the hot-air balloon, meets some space people, founds a rock band, and then fakes his own death so he can retire with a robot Anne Boleyn, complete with pop-off head and detachable polydactyly. I bet they'll even set up household with a vampiric Catherine of Aragon (played by Jessica Rabbit).

In the comments, tell me if you nitpick inaccuracies in TV, and whether that makes you a doink. Or tell me what happens next on The Tudors, and be as inaccurate as you'd like. Or admit that you know who Zalman King is. I won't judge you, I promise.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cluck You Very Much: A Chicken Bus Travelogue

Everyone knows the routes from D.C. to New York. Planes are for the people who haven't figured out that flying is an overpriced time suck, Amtrak is for the people who are willing to pay the "Dahling, I don't do buses," surcharge, Bolt and Megabus are the province of the hipsters, and the Chinatown bus is for, well, the sort of humanity generally only experienced via film and television. Me? I like a good freakshow, and I love the Chinatown Chicken Bus.

Why do I call it the Chicken Bus? Because all that was missing from last weekend's ride was a live chicken, and perhaps a dice game in the aisle and an albino banjo player.

The ride began with various bus company employees gesticulating wildly, trampling one another in their haste, sorting us into a line, and hurling luggage into the bowels of the bus with resentful venom. The driver had a trendy mullet and a phone that blared snippets of dreadful pop music as we lurched our way through a hailstorm.

The women behind me yapped their way across the miles, question talkers both, with nary an oxygen break. One complained bitterly to the other about being pushed out of her family's business. Of course, the fact that she was the sort of person who would loudly air private family information on a crowded bus might have branded her as unprofessional, but I'm not one to offer free career advice. (If I was, I would have told the intern I shamelessly eavesdropped upon during a previous Chicken Bus journey that yes, interns do answer phones, and no, that did not mean their work was "unfulfilling.")

After the first few hours, I thought to myself, "Oh, well, at least it can't get worse." A moment later, both women popped in some globs of chewing gum so they could slurp and smack their way across New Jersey.

The best part was the journey home. The two Question Talkers were in our bus line! I turned to my travel companion and, between clenched teeth, stated that I would lose. my. MIND if those women sat anywhere near us. I said a little prayer to Getoff Mylawn, the Patron Saint of Curmudgeons. My prayers were answered and the yappers moved to the back of the bus.

The victory was fleeting, however, as my new neighbor turned out to be a woman who ranted in sub-Saharan French, while shoveling noxious-smelling kebab into her mouth with nary a break to chew.

In the comments, tell me if you've ever ridden a Chicken Bus.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

This Just In: I'm a Pervy Unicorn

I don't know if y'all saw this, but if not, go read it. Now. It's too delicious to pass up. I'll wait. Tea Party Washington Post chat.

Hi, welcome back! It seems the 'liberal media' allowed this gentleman to speak for himself, which involved just enough rope for reputation suicide and maybe a DIY doorstop or two. This Judson Phillips gentleman came across as a raging loony with a somewhat adversarial relationship to the truth. However, he brings up some valuable points:

1. If you don't buy health insurance, our secretive Socialist dictator president will throw you in jail.

2. Moderates are losers, because they don't believe in anything. That makes them worse than liberals.

3. But if you're a liberal, boy howdy. You're a child molester and embarrassed by our country, and not one of the 'real Americans.' (I'd love to hear how a moderates, who are worse than liberals, are worse than child molesters, but that could just be me.)

4. Does my status as an Imaginary American exempt me from taxes? Because, if so, that would be awesome.
5. Bill Clinton was president in 2004.

If you add it up, as an East Coast liberal, I'm a perverted unpatriotic unicorn. I've been called many things over the years, but that's a new one. I'd like to salute Mr. Phillips for his creativity.

I believe in disagreeing without demonizing. In learning something new via intelligent discussion. I like my satire with a side of sugar. And, most of all, I believe in being fair-minded. To that end, I ask my readers to find me a left-wing Judson Phillips. Someone out there who is ridiculous, prone to stretching the truth until it can be turned into a thousand paper cranes, and, moreover, is prone to hurling misinformed insults when cornered. Bonus points if you can find me some juicy quotes I can rip apart with my bare hands, like a plate of shrill, ignorant fried chicken.

The 'winner' gets satirized in an upcoming post.

In the comments, find me a left-wing Judson Phillips. Or debate whether the entire Tea Party movement is an elaborate prank to make conservatives look as misinformed and ridiculous as possible.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The More Things Change...

...the more I stand behind some woman who is overcompensating for deficient arithmetic skills by micromanaging her grocery purchases.

I've expended a lot of calories over the years by ranting about my Safeway. It was a nexus of incompetence, wilted vegetables, long lines and short fuses. Now, it is freshly made-over. It's spit-shined, glamorous, and full of cheese bars and nut bars and shiny floors. They even sell wine. And the produce no longer looks like it was grown in a freeway underpass and watered with moonshine.

But let's get back to those nut bars. They're not just a kind of food, they're a way of life at my Safeway.

See, in all the reconfiguring, nobody really came up with a way to make over the customers.
Sunday, I was swanning about my fancy Safeway, skipping my way down the aisles and shopping for fancy cheese. By the time I got to the register, I had a heavy basket and somewhat diminished patience.

Line selection at an urban grocer is a do-or-die proposition. If you choose poorly, you'll lose hours of time. You'll get the folks who want to haggle over prices, or, one better, the people who don't realize that money is exchanged for goods or services. So they stand there, numbly, not sure when or how they should pay. (Hint: Now. With money. Your magic beans are no good here.)

I stood behind a woman who seemed relatively organized. Her cart was neatly lined up. She had her wallet in her hand. I was reassured. That is, until I saw what she was doing. Mayonaisse. On the conveyor. $2.99. Nod approvingly. Bread. $1.79. Total $4.78. Nod approvingly. The cookies can go on the conveyor, too.

I know that game. The customer slowly, gradually, infuriatingly puts one item on the belt, checks the total, and stops when they hit the amount of cash they are carrying. Then the player will scatter any leftovers around the register area, creating an obstacle course for the patrons and a cleanup job for the staff.

As a Nats fan and divorcee, I know when I've been defeated. So I moved to the next register over. There was one woman ahead of me. Yogurt. $.79. Lunchmeat. $3.50. Total $4.29.

Spectacularly, impossibly, I had stumbled into the Urban Grocery Olympics. The I Have Exactly $30 on Me for Groceries Event. And the women in both lines were going for the gold.

On a more comforting level, it's nice to know that gentrification hasn't changed the basic character of my neighborhood.

In the comments, tell me about your favorite event in the Urban Grocery Olympics.

The usual caveat: Lots of you know where I live. That doesn't mean you should mention it in the comments (lots of creepazoids out there.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bridezilla?

I usually keep my spring cleaning pretty hands-off and metaphorical. But this year, I've decided to conquer the hall closet.
The hall closet is pretty well piled up with old school reports, a leopard-print Snuggie, more overcoats than seems strictly reasonable, party supplies, and my wedding gown.
*insert annoying cliche sound of record skipping*

Yeah. I'm approaching my fourth annivorcery and I still have my wedding gown. I just plain never got around to selling it. In fact, I even moved apartments with it. But it's time to evict this gown, if only to make room for my fantabulous collection of Pez dispensers.
To that end, I propose: Project Ditch the Dress.
In the comments, please tell me the best way to divest myself of the final (albeit classic and lovely) symbol of my mid-twenties absurdity. A few caveats: Ebay is too much work, I've tried Craigslist, and I'm not paying to ship it anywhere (too expensive). I'm not keeping it or re-wearing it, as 2005 Shannon and 2010 Shannon have somewhat different bodily configurations.
OK, fine: the only way I am getting into that dress involves olive oil and a shoehorn - one of the many reasons why the model in the above photos is not me.
Ideally, I'd like to give it to someone who wants it. It's ivory, has a lace-up back detail and is a street size 2. I have more pictures I can email to anyone who'd like to see them. I'll throw in a veil and a box. Does anyone know a deserving (not to mention very short) bride? Or, can you come up with something really funny we could do with the dress (elaborate pranks in Adams Morgan, anyone?)

So, whatcha got? There might be a dress in it for you...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Filed Under: Things That Only Happen to Me

I would like to start by pointing out that all three Metro incidents occurred within a 24-hour period.

Incident One:

Morning commute. 8:22.

A woman (mid-fifties, fuzzy pants, posh hippie, white) got on the train and sat down next to me. She tapped the (mid-forties, professionally dressed, African American) woman seated in front of her and said, "Dr. Dorothy Height died."

At first, I assumed the women were coworkers discussing a mutual acquaintance. However, when the African American lady looked at her in bafflement, the white woman clucked a little chirp of falsely compassionate condescension and said, "I'm sorry, maybe you've never heard of her, she was a major civil rights leader."

I can only assume that this lady had been circuiting the metro, tapping random black people and informing them of Ms. Height's death in some wildly misguided educational mission.

This makes me wonder if I should have made it a personal mission to track down every aging hipster in Washington to inform them of the death of Alex Chilton.

Incident Two:

Evening, headed home after a Target run.

A (rather substantial) woman sat down next to me, gradually inching her way into my space. By which I mean, her book was practically shoved under my nose (sidebar: she was reading lesbian erotica which used a honey metaphor at least three times per page).

When we came to my stop, I gathered my packages and said, "Excuse me." She sighed and tucked her legs to one side, clearly expecting me to clamber over her as if she were a Old Navy-clad jungle gym. I smiled brightly and said, "I'm carrying packages, and will need some more room please." She gave me a look of death, aggrieved at my expecting her to stand up like a person who lives in a society, and moved over another fraction of an inch.

I eventually struggled my way to freedom, but she may or may not have taken a shoe rack to the knees in the process.

Incident Three

Morning Commute, 8:19 am

A woman boarded the train, and in a calm, clear voice said, "Could I get everyone's attention please?" I assumed she was either selling something or off her rocker, so I kept my nose buried in my newspaper.

After a moment, she began to explain that God had woken her up early that morning (really, God is her alarm clock) and called upon her to testify to commuters. The gist was standard street preacher - repent now, find Jesus, cast off Satan, Jesus is awesome, repent or you're gonna die. (Bad form to mention impending death on the Metro, btw.)

This struck me as being a tad intrusive, but, moreover, pretty dang ineffective. Commuters are professionals at creating their own private worlds. Hey, if we can't even recognize a world-class violinist* before coffee, there's no way we're going to recognize the onset of Armageddon.

In the comments, tell me about your favorite Metro weirdo.

*For the record, I frickin' hate that article. I don't think Pulitzers should be given for an article that could have been summed up as, "People on their way to work tend to be in a hurry." And, moreover, the condescending "People have sad lives because they didn't stop for music" thing is way overdone and insulting. People have jobs and obligations and mouths to feed, and as much as we'd like to enjoy a little music, we gotta be on time for work.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm Not Really Looking for Anything Serious Right Now...Except Maybe the Check

Most restaurants are good to me. They usually don't give me chlorine gas poisoning, for starters.

However, I have a weird jinx with waiters. I always get the over-familiar, kind of creepy ones who practically invite themselves to pull up a chair and join in on the fun.

A week or two back, I was dining with my friend J. at what could be generously deemed the Highly Honored Window Seat, but was more likely to be the Put These Two Weirdos in the Farthest Corner Table Before They Infect Us with the Crazy Section.

The waiter was a piece of work. I wonder if he hadn't been hugged enough as a child, or if his inner rainbow needed a tuneup. Or perhaps his restaurant's training program had included extensive rebirthing and isolation therapy, and he was desperate for human contact.

Hey, the food was great, and I was happy. I'll take a side of creepy with a good meal anytime. (How else would I have survived multiple decades of dating?)

Eventually, it was time for dessert. J had let slip that he had never had a McFlurry, so we made plans to head over to McDonald's after dinner. When our waiter asked us if we wanted dessert, we demurred because, 1. we wanted McFlurries, and 2. We were worried "dessert" might be a thinly veiled reference to the waiter engaging in a sex act with today's gelato.

At that point, J made a fatal error. He told the waiter we wanted McFlurries.

I think we would have gotten out faster if J had said, "No thanks on dessert, we have a Sarah Palin/Dick Cheney striptease to attend. I've emptied my life savings to properly tip them."

The waiter took our McFlurry craving rather personally. He mock-harangued, then real-harangued me over not ordering the restaurant's dessert. Then, he informed me that McDonald's is a chain and if I had the proper community spirit I would at the very least pay an astronomical amount for a trendy gourmet cupcake.

Nothing would dissuade him. We skulked out of the restaurant, ashamed of our pedestrian taste in sweets.

Afterwards, I wondered about the motivations for his behavior.

Theory 1: The waiter had read about pickup artists and was "negging" his way to an upsell.

Theory 2: The waiter was prescient, and was warning me of an upcoming Sugar Apocalypse.

Theory 3: The waiter was kind of an over-familiar douche.

I'm gonna go with Door Number Three.

In the comments, tell me about a waiter who just wanted to be friends.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Having Needs is Not "Being Needy"

Everyone has needs. Mine revolve around fresh air, salted margaritas, stinky cheese*, and self-respect.

One of the hardest lessons of adulthood is finding the line between having needs and being needy. However, if you have any desire to be involved in healthy relationships, it's worth it.

Having needs is a legitimate statement of self-esteem. We all need to be respected, treated compassionately, and liked for who we are. Needs are manifested by clearly stating fair and reasonable expectations for others. It drives the bad, selfish people away from you, because they're too self-involved to meet your standards.

Neediness is born of low self-esteem. It's a constant barrage of loyalty tests, anxiety, and desperation for approval. Neediness is no way to live, and it drives good, healthy people away from you because they get sick of your drama.

You need for your significant other to meet up and play nice with your friends. It is needy to expect your friends to emphatically approve of your significant other, especially if he's not that nice/doesn't treat you well/is married (and not to you).

You need your friends to RSVP to a dinner party in a reasonable amount of time so you can plan a menu. It is needy to hound them weeks in advance for a response, because you're anxious to see how much they like you.

You need for your significant other to make an effort, so you know you are valued. It is needy to expect a thousand yellow daisies because you saw it in a TV show once.

You need for your significant other to make specific plans with you, in advance, so you are not stuck waiting by the phone, or dropping everything and running like a puppy the second he whistles for you. It is needy to actually wait by the phone or act like a puppy. Make plans with your friends instead.

You need your significant other to notice when you've gone all-out to look your best. It is needy to expect your significant other to notice a microchange in your hairstyle, or that your socks match (even if that's a rare thing).

You need for your significant other to care about your birthday. It is needy to schedule your birthday party on a date that poses a big conflict, just because you want to stage a manipulative loyalty test.

In the comments, tell me your line between "needs" and "needy."

*However, may I suggest never eating blue cheese while lounging barefoot? It's hard to tell where the smell is coming from.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Announcing the Oath of Non-Douchebaggery

Now that I fancy myself a political blogger, I'd like to form the Civility Party. We will wear cool uniforms and have tea and crumpets on the veranda. Or beer and nachos. I haven't quite made up my mind.

Our political action squad will be known as Americans for Everybody Growing the Hell Up Already. Our first order of business will be to put Ronald Reagan's name on every airport and outhouse across America. Oh, wait, that's Americans for Tax Reform.

However, like our friends at ATR, I'd like to encourage our politicians to sign a pledge. Instead of an anti-tax pledge, let's call it the Oath of Non-Douchebaggery. Here are the tenets:

1. I solemnly swear to remember that God (or evolution, if that's your bag) gave us all two ears and one mouth for a reason. We are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk.

2. I will not disrupt the proceedings of our democratically elected government with inane outbursts, particularly anything along the lines of baby killing, lying or any party being in favor of anyone dying of neglect. This is because my mama taught me how to act. Moreover, if a member of my party engages in said disruption, justice will be swift, and will hopefully involve free doughnuts for everyone.

3. Should supporters of my cause disrupt said proceedings, and be escorted off the premises, I will not hoot and holler like an eighth-grader witnessing a cafeteria slapfight. This is because eighth grade was a very long time ago.

4. The buck stops with me. If any supporter of my cause engages in morally repugnant behavior, such as racial epithets, spitting or acts of terrorism against my fellow elected officials, I will react immediately with something a little less pansyish than referring to said repugnant actions as "isolated incidents."

5. I will not invoke the words socialism, communism, fascism, or any other -ism without a rudimentary understanding of what those terms actually mean. Also, I recognize that the word "Nazi" is not to be taken lightly, in fact, its use should be avoided. This is because I'm not a red-baiting McCarthyist douchebag. Though the term "red-baiting McCarthyist douchebag" is probably also best avoided.

6. I will assume that everyone is just doing their best and their disagreement with my principles is not malicious in intent. In fact, their ideals and views are probably just as heartfelt as my own.

7. I will recognize that the statement, "Yeah, but the other side acts like babies, too," is a total copout. Poor behavior, no matter its source, should be condemned.

8. I will recognize that there is at least the tiniest sliver of a chance that I could be wrong. Moreover, if I am demonstrably wrong, I will say so, instead of hiding behind spurious or flimsy arguments to the contrary.

9. I will recognize that I have been entrusted with a tremendous honor: to help govern a great nation. With that trust comes responsibility.

10. I will laugh at idiotic, senseless and misspelled protester signs, no matter their source. This is because stupid people are awesome, no matter their political views.

Does anyone have anything they would like to add? Or is everyone just hoping for free doughnuts?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm a Gun-Toting Rapist Slavemaster!

In between a flurry of highly observant, "It's Monday and it's raining!" Facebook status updates, I noticed a fellow Hylton alum had posted his views on health care reform. It was thought-out and interesting, so I added a comment basically saying I hadn't totally made up my mind, but would be willing to pay higher taxes so more people can have access health care. I also expressed a wish that both sides of the debate would engage in more civility.

My viewpoint, according to the next commenter, makes me handmaid to the political traditions of basically everyone who has ever been evil.

Actually, it's even better than that. I'm a gun-toting slavemaster rapist who, in the words of the great political mind of our time:

"You fail to realize that in order to help person B you must rape person A."
I don't know about y'all, but every time I send a donation to UNICEF, I like to make a stop along the way to rape the mailman.
There was also a lot of language about holding a gun to his head to enslave him and his family via his financial dealings with his doctor. Plus, I'm stealing from him so I can feel self-righteous about other people getting health care. Because taxes are theft. Or something. I don't get it, either.
See, I don't speak "Willfully ignorant screaming crazy teabagger man." But I suppose next time I'm out raping and enslaving, I'll have to bring my gun along for emphasis.

Or, maybe, just maybe...we could all chill the hell out? I'll take back my accusations of "willful ignorance" and teabaggery if we can all agree that there are many ways of seeing the world...and not everyone who disagrees with you is a gun-toting rapist slavemaster.

I would have been happy to listen to a conservative viewpoint on health care reform, if it was presented calmly and fairly, with a minimum of insults. But calmness and fairness are all too rare these days.

Demonizing the opposition does not add to a discussion. It only stirs in more vitriol and negativity, which in turn makes more moderate (and less frothingly angry) people less and less engaged in the political process. I'm a former pollster, and every election I worked on that involved attack ads saw depressed turnout. Folks get skeeved out by the nastiness and stay home, tipping the scales to the incumbent - which is one of the reasons over 90% of Congressional incumbents win reelection. New blood and fresh perspectives become more and more scarce.

Eventually (and this is what I believe the current political scene has come to), it's just a room of people seeing who can scream the loudest. Nobody's listening any more, nobody wants to give an inch, and nothing gets done. All we're left with is shouted threats, fingers waving in faces, and Obama-as-Hitler posters.
People, we can do better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Don't Mess with a Bloody, Buddy!

You are now entering the Bloody Mary Zone, where fantasy meets reality, and the celery is only limited by your imagination. Here we have two weekends, two events, and one message.

Weekend One:

The scene: Capitol Lounge, brunch, a quiet time populated mostly by the deeply hungover, bickering couples escorting an overbearing matriarch on a tour of local haunts, and the occasional lone drinker, rocking gently back and forth on his stool.

I do what I do almost every weekend: order a Bloody Mary. I am handed a glass with ice and vodka, and told to fix my own drink from the Bloody Mary Bar up front. I scoff and snort - why would I come to a bar to prepare my own drink? Wouldn't I just do that at home?

All that derision makes me thirsty, so I reach for my glass of ice water and take a long pull. Which turns out to be from my Bloody Mary starter glass, meaning I just sucked down a mass quantity of rail vodka through a straw.

I spend the rest of the day mildly buzzy and smelling like the school nurse's bottle of iodine.

Weekend Two:

The scene: Ruby Tuesday's. The last stop before suburban oblivion, 2.4 kids and suing the neighbors over their ugly landscaping and cluttered driveway.

I order the house Bloody Mary, a portal to a damned dimension, known here as the Cajun Mary. I figure it's just a Bloody Mary with some extra cajun seasoning, a favorite add-on for me at home. I was wrong. I had taken a wrong turn into the Land of Everything That Could Possibly Go Horribly Wrong with a Relatively Simple Cocktail.

It was (and I shudder as I type...) sweet. Sickly sweet. With a funky aftertaste and the aroma of a grand experiment plunging toward bizarre and laughable failure. I was drinking the Chris Gaines of the cocktail world. I put the drink aside in pity and disgust.

The waitress noticed, and I sent the drink back for revision. The fix, the boozy lipstick on the drunken pig, so to speak? More Tabasco. Well, at least the sinuses got a hefty workout! So now it was sickly sweet and undrinkably spicy.

That's when I found out the secret ingredient in the Ruby Tuesday Cajun Mary. Hint: It's not love. Hint: It totally doesn't belong in any mixed drink, ever.


I haven't been so appalled since I found out that To Serve Man is a cookbook. The bartender came over and apologized, and brought me a new barbecue-free drink. By this time, I felt like a boozehound Goldilocks, but I was able to pronounce it "just right."

The Lesson?

Most people would assume the lesson is to stop drinking Bloody Marys. But that's not a lesson I'll ever listen to. After all, I had to be forcibly dissuaded from inventing Velcro Riding Breeches after I was (due to my own incompetence) thrown from a galloping horse at Camp Wingaroo.

Instead, the lesson is not for me. It's for all restaurants, everywhere:

Don't mess with a Bloody, Buddy!

(Hat tip for post title: Ric. Hat tip for writing style: Rod Serling)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Someday, Somebody's Gonna Fix this by Installing a Wet Bar at Gymboree

Apparently, the good folks of Park Slope, Brooklyn, have their skinny jeans in a bunch over whether it's ok to bring babies into bars.

Well, Brooklyn, I can answer that for you: No. It's not OK.

Really. It's that simple.

Despite my tendency to take a random and intense dislike to strangers' children (especially ones with whiny voices), I really do like and enjoy the kids I know. They're usually fun and adorable. Hey, I even like it when the neighbor kids play tackle football in the hallway. Their high spirits are endearing, and they quiet down whenever I ask them to.

But that doesn't mean I want to sip a Manhattan next to your squawking brat. Bars are places where adults go to be with other adults. And I can't imagine being a parent out on their first grownup date night in ages...only to be confronted with a boozy version of Babies R Us. The anti-kids in bars folks in Brooklyn complained about mega-strollers blocking the exits, and being shushed or told not to curse, all while the parent holds a weeping, overstimulated kid who probably just wants to go somewhere quiet. Oh, MAN. I have yet to see that in DC, but I would probably lose my mind if somebody told me to tone down my language to suit their crotchfruit's tender sensibilities.

I get that it's lonely being the parent of small children. Really, I do. It's a relentless series of demands and compromises. But that's a choice you made when you spawned. You don't undergo a change as major as parenthood without anticipating that your life is going to be very, very different from here on out. You're not going to have the exact same social life for a long time to come. Is it so hard to ask your friends to stop by on a Sunday afternoon, or meet for coffee instead of drinks? Just for a few years?

In the end, it's about courtesy. There are so many confined spaces that cram the child-free up against children when they're at their most most miserable: airplanes, transit, casual restaurants, Camelot (just kidding) what's so bad about a few adults-only refuges, like bars and R-rated movies?
Oh, heavens. Don't even get me STARTED about kids in R-rated movies.

In the comments, say, "You have a baby! In a bar!" Or tell me what movie that comes from.

PS _ If you're one of my friends, and you're reading this, I really do like your child. Kids I know are awesome - it's just the random ones who tick me off. And you can bring them over anytime. Just please, don't bring them to Recessions!
PPS - I predict this will be a big controversy in Columbia Heights in 5-10 years.