Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inheriting the Wind

It's been a while, kids. First I fell into a blogger slump where I didn't have anything to say (not that I ever have anything to say, really, but I digress). Then I went home to California for the holidays (photos to come).

But now I'm back in DC, and reeling with the joy that was 2008. This year was good to me. However, this morning I heard a crashing noise and went to the window to investigate. As a tumultuous end to a fabulous twelve months, the out-of-control wind that's ripping through the city on this last day of the year uprooted a tree right outside my building.

The view from my front door.

All things considered, this was the ideal treefall. It didn't hit the building, passing pedestrians, parked cars (including the White Rabbit's car, which was parked a mere two feet away from the tree in its upright position -- miraculous!), nor did it fall into the street. In fact, thirty minutes ago the city of Washington had already dispatched a truck to my house, and the workmen were revving up chainsaws. The whole mess is already gone.

The view from the White Rabbit's car.

Yep, 2008 is out with a bang.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Family Resemblance

My boyfriend (who, for the sake of continuity with my previous Wonderland-themed blog format, will henceforth be known as the White Rabbit... enter a weak parallel of how I find his bespectacled self extraordinarily intriguing, and how I like to go where he goes, and how this name is being bestowed upon him despite his exceptional punctuality, and HOW DID THIS PARENTHETICAL GET SO LONG?)...

Where was I? Oh yeah, last Saturday the White Rabbit came back to DC from spending Thanksgiving with his family, and he brought with him a handknitted scarf made by his grandma -- for me. For me! And it's darling, shaped like a Florida gator:

I knew it looked familiar, but why? Then I finally put it together -- he recently posted about how he cannot draw, save from a single, famed sketch:


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sweet Potato Pie

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cook and bake, especially when I can do so for other people. I also, if I may be honest, like making things that make me look like hot shit in the kitchen. Things like the manchego-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates I made for my own birthday party this year, which caused many a partygoer to straight-up swoon.

Cut to me making my own pie crust. Many people do this, so it's not that impressive to some. But my mom taught me to bake early on, when I got to stir things and lick the batter off of the KitchenAid beater -- and pies were not something she made. She insisted she never got the hang of homemade crusts, so I had never tried until last year, with so-so results.

But this year's crust was a success of epic proportions, and although I owe this mainly to my food processor, I like to think my mad kitchen skills left their mark as well. In the form of a handcut fall leaf decoration I sliced out of rolled-out scraps.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Last winter my sis knit me a fantastic winter hat with ear flaps and strings with pom-poms at the end, to keep my ears warm in the DC cold. I had to dig it out of winter storage this morning to combat the low temperatures.

I feel I should mention that it's a Kitty Hat. She knit little kitty ears onto it; I adore this hat. But it occurred to me while walking home from work this morning (I'm feeling under the weather) that, in silhouette, this hat makes me look a bit like Batgirl, and I'm fighting the evil villain Windchill. Not to mention my scarf looks a bit like a cape in this shadow-puppet-theater photo.

Holy sick day, Batman!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crafty Minx

The Queen of Clubs and his roommates are having a Lumberjacks and James Bond party tonight. To answer your inevitable question (which I imagine goes something like this: "Um... WHAT?"), they couldn't decide between the two themes and decided to merge them. I was going to go as a tree, and bobby-pin fall leaves in my hair, but yesterday it rained and made all the leaves near my house super soggy. So, lumberjack it is! But what oh what could set me apart?

How about a freaking sweet homemade axe? I made this beauty with a wooden spatula, tin foil, and a Sam Adams... well, the latter wasn't directly involved in the craft project itself, but it may or may not have fueled the idea behind it. And it may or may not have caused me to giggle throughout its creation.

To hell with modesty: sometimes I really crack myself up.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

At Long Last

For someone who loves TV as much as I do, or at least as much as I used to, cable in my solo apartment has been a long time coming. I'm not exactly sure what "basic cable" means, so I don't know if I should expect five channels, or a hundred channels, but either way -- it was time. Time to surrender the Arrested Development episodes I've seen a thousand times.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Underworld

Take note, evil-doers: the devil is no match for Farragut West.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


If there's one thing DC does right, it's autumn.

I'm a little sad that fall is almost on its way out. I feel cheated; this year we were denied a spring, and our autumn was peppered both with January cold and unseasonable warmth. What happened to my favorite season? I merely tolerate DC's other seasons, with their oppressive humidity and bitter windchill. Here's hoping the fall we have left holds out until Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

I'm not going to write about what a victory our country experienced last night circa 11:15PM EST. Nor will I yap on about how President Obama (ooh, sounds good, no?) has given our great nation a newfound glimmer of whatever and blah blah blah. You already know.

All I'll say is this:


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Growing Weary

I can't sleep. Some A-holes are setting off firecrackers behind my apartment building.

You know, I started this blog back in February because I was bored and needed some kind of outlet. That's no longer true. And while I love a lot of my earlier posts, it is clear to me that the last few months' worth have been extremely forced. I wrote them not because I wanted to say something, or because I had a great story, but because I felt like I should post something.

I've grown weary of that feeling. In the spirit of change, I'm going to try something new; something with less commitment for this bored sometime-blogger. Tonight my boyfriend gave me a 2GB memory card for my camera, as I've been pitifully using the tiny 32MB one it came with.

So I'm going to use it. Because tomorrow, November 5th, is a new day.

Thank god.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cycling Occasionally

The Mad Hipster used to get all Judge-y McGee on me when I'd take the metro to work.

"Why didn't you take the bike this morning?" he'd harrass me via email. Or sometimes just a guilt-laden gchat message: "No bike?" I therefore used to feel ashamed of my occasional bike negligence, feeling that I was a pox on the DC hipster community. But gradually I have gotten over this shame, and I am ready to declare it to the world. You ready? Here it comes.

I am a fairweather cyclist.

My god, it feels so good to finally say it! Such a burden off my shoulders. I know people like the Mad Hipster jump on the bike when it's 15° and iced over, or when it's pouring rain, or when it's a sticky 98° with oppressive humidity, or when the wind kicks up to 30mph. In his circle, I'm sure that's the norm. But I've realized that fairweather cycling is nothing to sneeze at.

Having a city full of fairweather cyclists should be something to shoot for. It's unreasonable to expect all the district's suits to go from zero to fixed gear in sixty seconds. Occasionally eschewing the train and riding one's inexpensive hybrid bike a few short miles to work and back may not earn you any street cred, but it's respectable all the same.

Let's keep a little perspective: it's not like I blow off my bike for a leisurely jaunt in the ol' Hummer. Because, really. My Hummer's nearly impossible to park.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Using BlackBerrys

Everyone in this city seemingly has a stance on the ubiquitous BlackBerry.

Hill staffers are glued to theirs, news avenues are reporting physical injuries related to BlackBerry users stepping out into the street while emailing (or running into walls... yes, seriously), and anyone who's ever stopped by The Anti DC to peruse Marissa's e-musings is surely familiar with the opposition's stance (that they're toys for tools).

I must confess, I have one. And I hate it.

I never use it, even as a work cell. When I first got it, I was vaguely excited, as underneath it all I'm a big nerd who loves to play with techie toys. But then the reality sunk in. Wait, you mean work can contact me anytime, anywhere? And they expect me to answer back? ALL THE TIME? Gross.

My IT department sent me an email this morning to inform me that they haven't detected any activity on my BlackBerry since October 10th. I was shocked to my core. Partially at the creepy big-brotherness of the email, but mostly because WHY ON EARTH was I using it on October 10th? I would have put money on mid-September as the last time I touched the damned thing.

I left work and was walking to the metro a couple of weeks ago when a guy came breezing out of his office building, BlackBerrying furiously. Almost smashed right into me. To reiterate: he had JUST LEFT HIS OFFICE. Surely this man was important. Surely something life-altering happened during the elevator ride to the ground floor, to be BlackBerrying so soon after leaving his computer. I don't envy him that.

I assume these devices were originally intended to make business travel easier for high-level officials, as being able to check one's email when nowhere near one's office actually does sound pretty handy. In theory, BlackBerrys are useful tools (ZING! Get it?).

Anydouble-entendres (okay, that's the part where I pretend that I am Marissa... and now I'm done), what's the point of this post? I have no desire to discuss the device's tool-ish qualities (though they are numerous), nor will I mock those who choose to glue themselves to their BlackBerrys (though I'd like to). I just want to issue a plea to those who do use them every waking minute, and this plea is as follows:

Please, PLEASE follow normal email etiquette when Blackberrying. That irritating little "Sent via BlackBerry" disclaimer at the end of your note is not a valid excuse for repulsive grammar, wickedly terrible spelling, or inappropriately familiar slang. If you don't work on my immediate team, or even in my entire organization, and we have never met, do not refer to yourself as "i," and to me as "u." And for the love of all things holy, use apostrophes.

cuz, like, i cant beleive ur actually makin these mistakes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lacking Talent

A few weeks back I had to work late, but I had promised the Caterpillar and Tweedle Wit that I would accompany them to The Red & The Black to see a friend of theirs play in his band.

The band wasn't bad. And the drinks were cheap and strong (just like I like my men... JKLOL!!1!). We even got some fantastic hipster-mocking opportunities. In other words, the evening was shaping up to be pretty damned good.

Then their set ended. I'm not even sure I can adequately describe the sheer horror of what followed. Two or three other bands (I stopped counting and started praying for daylight) that were so atrociously talentless that I can't imagine how they get gigs in the first place.

Now, to be fair, I am not musically inclined. When I was younger, I was a dancer, but I didn't sing. Band class never really took off for me. So one could argue that I am not the foremost authority on musical talent.

But, I have ears. And those ears were freaking pissed at my feet for dragging them to this nightmare.

The girls and I looked at each other with sympathy. The Caterpillar noticed a sign behind the bar that said "Earplugs: $1," and took the bartender up on that offer.

"It turns out any schmuck can have a band," I declared.

It was thus decided that when we inevitably start our band (which wouldn't be nearly bad enough to properly drive the point home, as the Caterpillar and Tweedle Wit actually are musically inclined) it will be called Any Schmuck.

Oh, yeah, it's happening. Watch for our first single, Faux Hipster. It'll be off of our debut album How Dare You.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Turning 26

My 26th birthday is quickly approaching. I racked my brain trying to think of an appropriate way to celebrate.

Not dinner out, as I always feel uncomfortable when friends feel obligated to pay for my meal, and/or I always feel obligated to choose an inexpensive place.

Not to a fancy bar or club, as I am definitely not the club type.

Not a dinner party, because as much as I adore throwing dinner parties, I didn't want to do too much work on my own birthday.

I contemplated going to my favorite dive bar, complete with beer in mason jars and copious board games, but the Queen of Clubs declared that was anti-climactic for a birthday celebration.

It would be hard to top last year's outing, which took us to Showbar: Palace of Wonders in our Halloween costumes. A couple I didn't know bought me a shot of Grey Goose, and an almost completely naked burlesque performer told me she thought I was cute. And that she liked my hat. I mean, come on! How do you top an evening like that?

So, climactic or not, I have decided to have a low-key party at my place, with gourmet snacks and lots of booze. And if we head out somewhere after hanging out at home (aforementioned dive bar? somewhere on H St NE?), so be it.

Because really, when it comes down to it: it's my birthday. And I just want to enjoy my three very favorite things in this earthly life: great company, delicious appetizers, and beverages of an adult nature.

Is that so wrong?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Honking Horns

When did we as a society become so goddamned irritable?

I used to commute via car. Back home, I had a job that was a 25 minutes' drive away. Granted, most of that commute was highway and not trafficky city blocks, but I don't remember the occasional bottleneck sending me into a spiral of road rage. When did we become so angry? So impatient? So ignorant of life's pleasures?

Yes, the economy's in the shit. Yes, every year the weather gets a little warmer. Yes, our leaders are douchenozzles (ZING! LOLsarahsilverman). Yes, there are some exceptionally fucked up people in this world doing some exceptionally fucked up things. Yes, we're all commuting to jobs we hate for lower salaries than we deserve.

I get it. Really, I do. But let's face it: there's no need to lay on the horn the second the light turns green. Our society needs to, in the wise words of the Queen of Clubs, PULL IT TOGETHER.

My commute this morning was lovely. And it has been for the past week. Haven't these people noticed the clear skies and lowered temperatures? We're a heartbeat away from the leaves changing, kids. Time to take your hands off the steering wheel (or, in my case, the handlebars) and welcome autumn with open arms. Let's be grateful for what we do have, and not bitter for what we don't.

I swear, I'm not usually such a pollyanna, but can't these angry motorists see that everything looks better in fall light? Can't they tell that October breezes are delightfully calming? Don't they know that autumn dusk smells fantastic?

Maybe they just need to get bikes.

Doing Coke

I had dinner last night with the Queen of Clubs. I rarely got to see him this summer, no doubt partly because I've been occupied myself, but mostly because of his newfound and well-deserved explosion onto DC's gay scene (no poorly chosen sexual imagery intended... oh god, THE HUMANITY).

Um, moving on... he has since formed a group of gay friends with whom to hit da clubs, a group I affectionately refer to as the Gay Mafia. Well-groomed, well-dressed, always arriving to parties as one unit, always leaving parties for somewhere too fabulous even for my hag dreams.

Last weekend he went to a house party being thrown by the friend of a friend of a friend, where he pretty much only knew his mafiosos. Soon a guy arrived at the party that the Queen had never met before. The guy was schmoozing with other party-goers when the Queen noticed him take a bag of cocaine out of his pocket.

The Queen stared, putting white powdery puzzle pieces together. The guy noticed him.

"...Is this okay with you?" he asked.

"Hey, you do what you do," the Queen replied. The coke-doing group moved to the next room over. Remembering that he works for the federal government, and spent a year waiting for those pesky security clearances, the Queen realized that this was his cue to exit, and told his mafiosos he was out.

Oh, um, the early '80s called. They want their scene back.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Looking Twice

So, I was walking home from work with Stefanie Tweedle Wit this afternoon when we came across the following bizarre but freaking sweet structure with some kind of DC-themed illusion street art painted on it:

What in the holy hell is this thing?

No, but seriously.

I couldn't stop staring.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Catching Trains

It's the little things.

It's always been the little irritating things, piling up, that get me down. So, it stands to reason that it's also the little things that cheer me up.

I had a rough couple of workdays last week. Nothing huge, the kind of irritating days that wouldn't even make sense if I tried to explain. Just small things building upon each other, sending me into a funk that was tough to pull out of. Silly, really. But I left work on Thursday with a cloud over my head.

I trotted quickly down the Metro station escalator steps, anxious to get home and away from all things Farragut. To my one-bedroom, Southeast sanctuary, where wine is love and dvds of The Office are hope that maybe -- just maybe -- all the humor hasn't yet been squashed out of the world.

I got down to the platform as my train was about to close its doors. I made for the closest entrance but was brutally shot down by that "Step back, doors closing" bitch. I rolled my eyes and sighed a massively exasperated sigh, and turned to my left to see about the next train. Just one more tiny, stupid irritation in a long string of tiny, stupid irritations.

Through my Beck-induced iPod haze, I vaguely heard someone behind me say something.

"[something something], girl."

A pause. I ignored it. Then again, louder.


I started to turn my head to the right, to see who kept hollering, and why on earth they felt such hollering was necessary. But my gaze didn't make it all the way to the kind woman who was urging me through the train's re-opened doors, as they fell first upon the doors themselves, and everything clicked.

I jumped onto the train and started to laugh. At myself, for being upset with something so ridiculous. At the kindness of strangers -- that it still exists, and that it's now coming in the form of sassy train riders who shout so you can hear their thoughtful deeds over your blaring iPod (sweet dears). At my allowing some stupid frustrations to override the overwhelming truth that life is pretty fucking fantastic.

Silly, really.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Coming Home

"And you know what she said about my red satin strappy sandals? She called them Fuck Me heels!!"

I don't think you're ever adequately prepared to hear this from a grown member of your family. From a woman who used to babysit you. From a woman whose daughters you then, in turn, babysat. I know for damn sure that when my sister invited me to sip Kir Royales and nibble on peach crostata with our mom, cousin, and aunt on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the phrase "Fuck Me heels" was not one I expected to encounter.

They say you can never truly go home again; that once you move out for good, coming home will never be quite the same. Clearly this is true. But maybe this is a beautiful thing. I've always had a great relationship with my family, but I've recently entered a new phase with them. One where I'm finally seen as the adult I've come to be, and it is absolutely delightful.

This is a phase where my mother gives me tips on how to avoid a UTI. "Trust me," she said. "I had to learn the hard way." Thanks, Mom.

A phase where my father asks me about my HPV vaccine while reading a health article in Parade Magazine. "Hey -- Gardasil! Isn't this what you're getting?"

I never really thought about the fact that I would inevitably turn into my parents -- an ex-cheerleader, drama darling, and firecracker from the Bronx and a well-traveled ex-hippie nerd with a penchant for storytelling and working the grill. Turning into them wasn't ever outside the realm of possibility, but it never really crossed my mind. That is, until recently, when all of a sudden I'm asking my friends, "Aren't you taking a sweater?" and stirring my gin and tonic with my index finger. Pure Mom and Dad, respectively.

But hey -- when my family is open enough to use the phrase "Fuck Me heels" without an ounce of embarrassment, and hilarious enough to constantly turn Sunday night dinner into a fucking laugh-riot, maybe turning into them isn't so bad after all.

Now, where's my sweater? It's almost quitting time, and those cocktails aren't going to finger-stir themselves...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dispelling Myths

Lately it seems I am the subject of several (perhaps unfair) rumors.

The first rumor? That I always and unconditionally smell fantastic. Regardless of what Cheshire Kitty and Tweedle Wit say on the matter, this is absolutely untrue, as anyone within several feet of me after biking home from work through the 90° swamp would undoubtedly confirm.

The second rumor, based on my deep and eternal love for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern spreads, is that I put out when given such delicacies. That I spread for spreads, if you will. (GET IT? ZING!)

Sorry. That was terrible.

Tweedle Wit is responsible for this beauty, after once remarking, "I think if I ever wanted to have sex with you, all I'd have to do is buy you some hummus." I jokingly replied that while hummus will likely allow you to round a couple of the bases, you'll only hit it home after buying me baba ganouj.

This stuck... I can't imagine why. It's the myth that just. won't. die. To the point where telling Tweedle Wit that I planned to take a boy to this little Turkish place on 8th Street and waxing poetic about their heavenly, smoky baba ganouj earned me winks and cartoon-style raised eyebrows.

I make a mean hummus, thanks to my dad's recipe, and I've recently been wondering if baba ganouj isn't just as easy, because the ingredients must be quite similar. Lo and behold, the stars aligned, and a charming chickadee gifted me a lovely recipe from on high!

...Okay, so that charming chickadee was Lemmonex from Culinary Couture... and she didn't so much gift the recipe specifically to me as she did gift it to The Interwebs, from whom I then snatched it. DETAILS, DETAILS. Still, the timing is perfect, no? I stumbled upon this gem mere days after I started wondering about my own potential baba ganouj-making skills.

I tried it last night. The verdict? Delicious! Although, I think the clove of garlic I used was a touch too big, giving it a bit of an unintended kick. I also suspect that using those small, farmer's-market Japanese eggplants would have made it even more flavorful.

Still, homemade baba ganouj FTW! After making it for my own dining pleasure, I might just have to have sex with myself.

Wait... what? I don't know what I'm saying.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Navigating Hell

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I abhor Dulles with the fire of a thousand suns. I navigate IAD for one reason and one reason only: reasonably-priced non-stop flights to SFO (god bless you, Richard Branson).

So I was highly amused last night to see the following directional sign pointing me towards my terminal, because it's exactly how I feel about the hub -- you can get there, but you're NEVER LEAVING:

Maybe hell isn't other people. Maybe hell is just Dulles Airport.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting Trashed

This just might be the saddest thing I've ever seen:

...I'm just saying.

Going (going) Back (back) to Cali (cali)

It's that time again.

Time for me to leave the (mildly) grown-up life that I've created for myself here in DC -- my own apartment, my real job -- and fly home to California for ten days. I go home twice a year; once in the summer and again at the holidays.

Going home has become even more glorious than it was when I was in college. My big sister only lives a half-hour's drive away from home, so our parents see her relatively often throughout the year. Sometimes they buy her things, sometimes they make her dinner, sometimes they take her out to eat. But because they always tried to make spending even, and because I live thousands of miles away, when I come home they feel like they have to make up for lost time. This almost certainly means I can look forward to ten days jam-packed with restaurant meals (that I get to pick), homemade meals (that I get to pick), and shopping trips.

I'm very close to my family, and don't get me wrong -- in all honesty, I'd be just as excited if spoiling was not imminent. But I know it is, and there's no use pretending it won't be fun. Especially considering we were not particularly spoiled as children.

So here's to sleeping late, authentic Mexican restaurants (take that, DC!), shopping with Mom, and Dad's grilled steak (and ribs and burgers and chicken and salmon)...

I can't fucking wait.

*Oh, also? As soon as I get back to DC, I'm hitting Lemmonex's Baba Ghanouj recipe, and I'm hitting it HARD. Just so you're prepared.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Predicting Plagues

My department resides in the basement of our office building. We have been patronizingly asked by the higher-ups to stay positive by referring to our floor as the "Lower Level." I call it The Dungeon.

Today one of my colleagues lamented the fact that she's being eaten alive by a mosquito the size of her fist, which apparently is living in The Dun-- ahem, excuse me -- the Lower Level. About twenty minutes later, a staffer from a different department visited our floor to obtain some office supplies. On his way out the door, he squealed, declaring that he just saw a rat running around our department. Aforementioned colleague instantly grabbed her bag and fled upstairs to work in the lobby.

Awesome! Suddenly my basement office is home to the ten plagues.

Mosquitoes? Check. Locusts.
Lack of natural light? Check. That's darkness.
Rats, apparently? Check. Basically, pestilence.

I'm predicting fiery hail and death of the first-borns next.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Checking Watches

I can't usually sit through the Olympics' entire Opening Ceremony. I find that I have a fairly low tolerance for contrived announcer drivel, as well as all the ridiculous downtime (the latter is why I am also unable to sit through awards ceremonies of any way, shape, or form).

But, as anyone who has met me knows, I'm a lush.

So when Tweedle Wit, the Caterpillar, and some of the other girls decided to have a party to drink red, white, and blue beverages of an adult nature, eat Chinese takeout, and watch the Opening Ceremony, I of course obliged.

I will say, the Beijing performances impressed me. They were visually stunning -- a feast of colors, lights, rich fabrics, and incredible costumes. We ooh'd and aah'd at all the appropriate times and sipped some Curaçao-based cocktail that the girls called The Fishbowl.

We cattily judged each nation's sartorial selection as they paraded past our screen. From traditional garb to classic summer suits to fairly hideous matronly floral dresses with matchy-matchy hats, we were not in short supply of fashion police ammo.

We marveled at the fact that all stereotypes aside, some countries really are just full of freaking beautiful people. (Turkey, I'm looking in your general direction.)

We even mocked the announcers' ridiculously vapid commentary:

"China's main exports are silk... and... Chinese cultural values." Uh, seriously? "The ceremony is presented in three languages: French, English, and... China." Oh, come on. You can do better than that.

But the crowning moment of this particular Opening Ceremony happened while watching the camera pan over to President and Mrs. Bush as the different nations marched in. "Haha! Check out Laura's tacked-on smile! What a robot!" we declared. We noticed that to her left, the President was looking decidedly bored. We laughed, and Tweedle Wit diplomatically pointed out that he had likely gone straight from a thirteen-hour flight to some kind of PR whirlwind, and then on to the almost five hour Opening Ceremony. Fair enough, I thought. That probably is pretty rough... I'd be exhausted, too.

But then he upped the ante. He checked his watch.

Not even a subtle check, because we've all done that. You know, the I'm-Just-Looking-At-My-Shoe-But-Oops-My-Watch-Got-In-The-Way thing. This was a full-on, elbow-up, long stare. Come on, Georgie! After eight years, haven't you learned that the cameras are ALWAYS ON YOU? And that, perhaps, some liberal NBC cameraman might just try his damnedest to make you look like an asshole? HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING?!

Well played, liberal NBC cameraman. Well played, indeed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Marketing Muffins

Remember that Seinfeld where Elaine suggests selling only the tops of muffins? That's all anyone wants to eat, anyway. But what to do with the stumps? Eggo has come up with a solution, by selling small blueberry cakes in the shape of the tops of muffins. Genius!

Um, just one problem:

Who's in charge of this marketing campaign? I get that they've called a spade a spade, but may I suggest, perhaps, that they refrain from naming their baked goods after the unfortunate physique they likely create?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Describing Oneself

The Caterpillar's back. Did I not mention that?

She was planning on visiting last week when she was offered a research position that required her to move from California back to (where else?) this freedom-loving, humidity-stifled, cherry-blossom-adorned, oft-douche-ridden former swampland and tourist mecca. Thus, plane tickets were changed, couches were crashed, house-hunts were started. DC has officially reclaimed what is rightfully ours.

In searching for a short-term apartment rental on the ol' Craigslist, the Caterpillar had trouble answering the question "So, what do you do outside of work?" She thought this to be a ridiculous question, as most people would likely answer in the exact same fashion. Hang out with friends, watch TV/movies, read, dine out, go to happy hours and to the gym (although, if you're like me, it's many more happy hours than gym trips).

I almost want to start asking people this question, in the hopes that one day I will be provided with an entertaining answer. In the hopes that someday someone will reply, "Um, I juggle." Or "I'm big into skeet-shooting." Or, god willing, "I'm the don of an organized hill-staffer crime ring. We're responsible for the city's seersucker explosion."

Perhaps I'm asking too much.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Finishing Quests

Haha! So, my Pimm's quest did not present the challenge I was expecting.

Apparently, the third store's a charm. I have located Pimm's #1 this side of the pond, and it resides (among other shops, presumably) at a wine and spirits shop called Best In Liquors right next to the Logan Circle Whole Foods (1450 P Street NW). The clerk was very sweet and didn't look at me like I was a total whack-job upon hearing my request, which is always a plus in my book, but rather pointed to the shelves behind me and then seemed pleased that I was pleased.

This was especially reassuring after a fairly rough morning. Engrossed in my magazine, I apparently sailed right past Farragut West on my way to work. I decided to look up from my reading material to check the train's progress, which usually puts me approximately at L'Enfant Plaza or Smithsonian -- and I was shocked to see the words "Foggy Bottom/GWU" on the station wall. Right as the doors were closing, of course.

Good morning, Virginia!

I then realized I forgot to put on deodorant before leaving the house, which was excellent. I stopped at CVS after finally arriving at Farragut West. Cheshire Kitty accurately assigned this the lolcat status of "major morning fail."

I thought things were looking up after heading to Whole Foods to buy shave gel, which I unexpectedly ran out of on Tuesday night (for those keeping score, this would be Fail #394), forcing the resourceful minx that I am to use hair conditioner in its place. I decided to pop into Best In Liquors, ignoring the overwhelming feeling of sketchiness that can only be attained by a classy lunchtime stop at the local liquor store.

And voila! Pimm's! Perhaps this day is turning around! I thought, foolishly. That's when I went to slyly adjust my strapless bra and discovered that I had twisted one of the cups several times before securing the hooks, leaving twisty evidence of my ineptness at life right down my top.

Sigh... FAIL.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beginning Quests

The British have given us a lot.

Jane Austen, the Clash, Jason Statham, Eddie Izzard. Fine cinema, the likes of which often feature middle-aged women who resort to growing weed, middle-aged men who resort to stripping, or introverted shoe manufacturers who resort to creating stripper heels specially for drag queens. A Queen who drinks beer, for shit's sake. They cracked open the genius brain of J.K. Rowling and let the sweet, sweet innards spill out onto more than four thousand pages that now sit in the laps of every addicted man, woman, and child in America. And, let's face it -- they birthed our fine country, even though we morphed into bratty teenagers and gave them the ultimate "Fuck You" back in 1776.

Lastly, and the reason for this post: while not particularly known for their culture's gastronomic delights, the British are responsible for the popularity of gin, for which I am eternally grateful. Beyond that, they are responsible for one of my very favorite "Drink Me" bottles, Pimm's #1. Mystery elixir tasting of spice and sophistication.

Margaritas are all well and good, and mojitos are still enjoying their much-deserved fifteen minutes. And anyone who knows me well knows that I've yet to meet a sangria I didn't like. But in my mind, there exists no summer cocktail so elegant, so refreshing, so delightfully British, as the Pimm's Cup. All recipes rely on various combinations of Pimm's #1, lemonade and/or ginger ale, garnished with sliced lemons, limes, and cucumbers (cucumbers! genius!). So exquisite is the Pimm's Cup that it makes me feel delicate and ladylike... and perhaps a bit like I shouldn't be giggling at the Cockfosters tube station.

I have thus begun a quest, to locate myself a bottle of Pimm's #1 for sale somewhere in the DC metro area. My first two stops were unsuccessful, but I have high hopes. As Tweedle Wit pointed out just this evening, I could always resort to calling the British embassy and asking for suggestions. If it comes to that, I just might.

To conclude tonight's post, I have composed a haiku in honor of my dearest (yet elusive) summer cocktail:

Oh, Pimm's #1
Enigma of citrus spice
Cucumber garnish

heh heh... Cockfosters.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Being Choosy

Nerds are hot.

Cheshire Kitty once told me she's glad I'm choosy about boys. See, my rationale goes like this: I like me. Sure, being single can be lonely, but ultimately I'd rather spend time by my rad self than be with someone just for the sake of not being alone. Being choosy makes my crushes (rare as they may be) actually mean something. Flighty's just not my style.

I also happen to have a penchant for nerdy boys. Seriously. Tan, muscled jocks don't do it for me. Collar-popping prepsters can walk their Top-Siders on by. But give me a funny, skinny, freckly, nice Jewish boy who rocks rectangular plastic glasses, and you've got yourself a deal. Excited about the new Batman movie? Go ahead and geek out. Like discussing NPR? Ohhh, yeah, talk nerdy to me!

Remember in high school, when being a serious nerd was a detriment to one's social life? Now boys are embracing their plastic glasses and their bikes and their slim builds with reckless abandon; they're realizing it's hip to be smart; they're admitting that the reason they're so good at Rock Band is because that year they lived with their parents, it's all they did. It's endearing. And real.

Take note, boys. Geek is chic.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Losing Shoes

I've never truly understood how there are so many single shoes lining the shoulders of California's highways.

What on earth is happening in cars passing by? I like to imagine that there's some sort of entertaining or scandalous explanation, ignoring the more likely reason of siblings getting revenge or frat boys being jackasses.

I always hope that the offending shoe has been kicked off in a trashy Journey- and Redbull-fueled roadtrip frenzy, In-N-Out wrappers littering the Civic floor. Or that it was sacrificed to the interstate gods as a result of some kind of tricky, 85mph vehicular sex act. Or, better yet, that it was hurled from an unmarked van by a kidnap victim; a previously agreed-upon signal to one's family and friends. Like some kind of unholy, footwear-related Amber Alert replacement.

Actually that's not a bad idea:

"If I go missing, check the sides of highway 5 for my well-worn pair of size-7 Rainbows. You'll know you're on the right track. Left means I'm unhurt; right means trouble..."

A few weeks ago, in search of caffeine, I left my office for the Starbucks at 18th and N. I was half a block away when I noticed something unusual in the bushes next to an ordinary-looking office building. It was a pair of jeans.

This set off a slew of questions in my head. Could the jeans have been left for the wearer to collect upon his return from whatever jaunt caused them to be discarded? Or were they cast aside after the realization that the events of the impending evening no longer required pants? Has it become socially acceptable to remove one's pants in public and toss them into the bushes?

And if so -- why didn't anyone tell me?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grinning Stupidly

To East Coast natives, fireflies are just insects. To this West Coast girl, they're magical.

I've had non-California friends tease me about my undying love for fireflies, just as they teased me during my very first snow flurry two winters ago, when I stormed outside in my raspberry-colored down coat and stared up at the sky in awe. Or like how my colleagues tease me about sprinting to our building's lobby and pulling up a chair by the windows during DC's severe electrical storms and instantaneous torrential downpours.

They speak of catching fireflies in jars as kids, or worse -- of smushing them on the pavement just for the thrill of seeing a smear of fluorescent innards. But I can't imagine doing this to such magnificent creatures.

I spotted the first fireflies of the season a week or so ago. But last night, they were out in full force, likely due to the humidity brought on by a thunderstorm that threatened but never really materialized. While walking home from the Potomac Ave metro station, there were so many fireflies swarming around my feet that my eyes were no longer able to focus on each fleeting glow.

See what I mean? Magic! Things that I've never experienced before; things that are all fluttery and glowing, unexpectedly bright and innocently exciting in the hazy heat of DC summer. Things that have been causing me to grin stupidly an awful lot lately.

Yep. Fireflies.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smelling Good

A colleague and I were invited to a black tie benefit gala for the Whitman-Walker clinic last night. Our tickets should have been $1,000 apiece, but as we were guests of the caterer, we got in free of charge. Of course, as my usual attire consists of jeans and tanks, the sudden appearance of a black-tie invite sent me scrambling in a last-minute dress-finding frenzy.

I ended up borrowing a long black number from Cheshire Kitty, and I gave myself a pedicure, carefully styled my ordinarily wild curls, used all my best makeup, and donned silver stilettos. I don't clean up often, but I clean up well, and if I do say so myself -- I looked pretty damned good.

I love my neighborhood. In walking myself (and my now spotlit cleavage) to the Potomac Ave metro station in the broad daylight of late-May 7PM, two guys commented in the span of two blocks. Not catcalled, mind you, just commented, as if they were noticing a change in the weather.

"You look very nice today!" said one guy, which took me aback. I smiled and thanked him.

In the next block, an older gentleman walking with a younger woman remarked "Ooooooh-WEE! Someone's gettin' ready to go out!!" This of course made me, and the younger woman, burst into laughter. After I had passed them, the man turned around halfway down the block and shouted at what was now my back: "And you smell GOOD!!" Which of course made me laugh even harder.

Upon arriving at the reception hall, I sauntered through the doorway and opened my purse for the security guards, then stepped forward to get in line for the metal detectors. Ahhh, DC: likely the only city in the world that requires women in cocktail dresses holding wraps and clutch purses to go through metal detectors. I mean, come on -- I had to force my clutch closed after cramming my keys, phone, and a Stila lipgloss into it. How on earth would I fit a handgun in there?

At this point, one of the security guards called after me: "Oooh, you smell NICE!" ...For those keeping score, this was the second time in a half hour that strange men told me I smelled good.

But I have to wonder why guys always sound surprised when they say this sort of thing to me. Once, wearing a halter, I had a close male friend tease me by saying something patronizing and placing his hand on my bare upper arm. He then recoiled in horror and declared "Oh my god! You're really SOFT!"

And I suppose it's because I give off a somewhat hard emotional air, but all the incident could make me think was, What kind of cracky-ass girls have you been touching, that this surprised you?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shooting Hoops

Well, it's official. The Caterpillar has left me.

She's off to take the world by storm, as if she hasn't already. First stop: home to beautiful southern California for some R&R (sigh... how I adore Los Angeles). Next up: Scotland, to wink her way into free pints and otherwise charm the pants off cute Scottish boys with thick accents. Lastly, for the fall/winter: El Salvador and other Central and South America miscellanea, where she already has people she knows and places to stay (for $100 a month, no less... not that I'm bitter).

And I'm happy for her. Really, I am. But I would be lying my ass off if I said I wasn't truly heartbroken to see her go.

I roused myself from a restless nap late on Monday afternoon to make my way to the Caterpillar's surprise goodbye dinner at Jaleo. I left my new apartment and, as usual, passed the convent on the corner. Have I mentioned? I live next to a convent. The real Girls Next Door. You know, "Bleeding Heart Sisters of Eternal Misery, " or "Our Ladies of the Virgin of Perpetual What-Have-You..." Okay, so clearly I'm not the foremost authority on this particular Catholic facility.

I've seen the nuns before... and by that I mean I've seen a single nun out in the backyard, head down, somberly tending to a plant, wearing a light- and royal-blue habit. But Monday night was different. I breezed out of my apartment and strode toward the corner, instinctively glancing over my right shoulder when I passed the convent.

The nuns were playing basketball.

I stopped dead in my tracks. They were out in the yard, scrimmaging on the courts outside of the adjoining Catholic school. Laughing, shouting, shooting hoops. In full habits; enter inappropriate "Shirts or Skins" joke [here]. I grinned, collected myself, and continued my quick pace towards the Potomac Ave station.

This made me surprisingly cheerful, considering I was on my way to say goodbye to my darling Caterpillar. But it makes sense, I guess. Women with strong principles doing something unexpectedly brazen should remind me of the Caterpillar, seeing as how she sings in her church band but doesn't hesitate to initiate candid dinner-table discussions on the subject of dry-humping.

Goddammit, I'll miss that girl.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Defying Precedents

The other day I decided to take the bus home from work. Sometimes this fares well for me, as A) it's cheaper, B) it doesn't take any longer than the metro, and C) on a sunny day, it allows me to soak up an extra twenty minutes of DC loveliness.

It's also a fairly strong risk, as DC bus riders A) make that repulsive sniffly-snort noise like it's going out of style, B) often attempt conversation with me when I'm really just not having it, and C) get into screaming matches with the bus drivers. Who I'm generally fond of, as they tend to sass insolent riders right back, and then say things like "You have a nice day, sweetie" as I exit and thank them for the ride. I get the feeling they don't get thanked as often as they should.

So I'm on the #32, on Pennsylvania Avenue just past the Capitol Building, when a young black guy gets on the bus wearing an oversized black t-shirt featuring a photo of Ms. Rosa Parks superimposed onto the front of an old-fashioned bus.

I watched him pay his fare and turn towards the bus to choose a seat. He walked right past the side-facing seats in the very front; past the first few rows of front-facing seats where I happened to be sitting.

At this point, I was deeply curious. I turned my head to watch where he was going, and I'll be goddamned if the man didn't walk himself all the way to the rear of the bus and take a seat in the very last row.

Really, guy? The very back? What on earth would Rosa think?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Living Alone

I've never lived alone before.

For college, I went straight from the house where I grew up to the dorms to my sorority house and back to the house where I grew up, to live at home for two years (hey, don't judge me -- I worked for Stanford and had no rent, it was a pretty sweet deal).

And don't get me wrong; living arrangements for this past year suited me just fine. Typical group-rowhouse-with-your-friends scenario: utopia at first, tolerable next, tense at the end.

But I've realized that it's time for me to grow up. Mostly.

This means I'm still young enough to get drunk and do backflips on the metro; still immature enough to giggle at poorly veiled sexual innuendo (that's what SHE said! ...uh, I mean... what?); still innocent-hearted enough to get butterfly-inducing crushes on boys. BUT, it also means I'm grown-up enough to have a Blackberry and an intern; wise enough to know better than to trust blindly; confident enough to believe (but not to need) compliments.

Independent enough to live on my own.

The lease to my new one-bedroom starts on Wednesday, May 7th, and I am absolutely aflutter with anticipation. I'm excited to have my own space -- my own bathroom; a patio; a fridge all to myself. I can stay up late, turn in early, cook with reckless abandon, watch TV when I want, and (yes) boycott pants. I can make a mess without apology, grocery shop without labeling every garlic clove, and make dinner without worrying that one of my key ingredients has mysteriously gone missing.

And last, but certainly not least: I will never again be subjected to the abhorrent nagging vessel that is the passive-aggressive note.

Sweet mother of mercy, hallelujah.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Craving Creamsicles

I almost couldn't believe my ears.

I was walking home from the metro after checking out the new Columbia Heights Target (it's pretty good, I guess, two stories and all, but let's be honest -- it's no Van Nuys) when I heard something curious. An unoffensive tinkly bell melody playing "Do Your Ears Hang Low," of all things. It was so nostalgically familiar, and yet for a few seconds I still struggled to place it.

And then it hit me. This was the unmistakable siren song of the old-school ice cream truck. You know, the kind that drove around our neighborhoods when we were little, doling out classic treats with which to cool off. The kind that made its appearance only during the hauntingly beautiful dusk hours of California summers, when the sun dropped below the hills and the suburbs were bathed in dusty lavender hues; a light that still warms me all the way through because, for an hour a day, it makes the world look just right.

I started to crave something cold and sweet, but not the dulce de leche sundae cups or SpongeBob-shaped popsicles or double chocolate ice cream bars with bittersweet chips and pomegranate ribbons that seem to be so in vogue these days. This craving was simpler, the kind of thing I'd always order from the snack bar at the JCC's pool -- old-fashioned delights like vanilla ice cream sandwiches, fudge bars, and creamsicles. Maybe a drumstick, if I was feeling spendy and risqué.

As I stood on 14th Street SE, salivating at the thought of the unexpectedly dreamy marriage of orange popsicle and sweet vanilla cream, it occurred to me that I didn't even know they still ran ice cream trucks. It's incredibly reassuring to discover that such a symbol of innocence still exists in this sometimes fucked-up world.

...Even if it has turned me into one of Pavlov's dogs.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Biking in Heels

I've been in a much more positive mood lately. Must be the almost palpable approach of spring. I'm trying to let go of my near-constant cloud of negative energy, because really -- what good is it? I'm going to give myself an ulcer or some such.

Yesterday was at least 70 degrees, and it felt just like Los Angeles. It sounds clichéd, but I have very much missed the feel of the sun on my skin. So I dusted off the ol' bike, and rode to work, in a skirt and heels, no less.

You know, it's funny. I very rarely get catcalled when I'm walking around the city, no matter how fly I look. But the second I get on my bike, guys are hollering at me from every angle. I'm not sure what it is about cute girls on bikes that drives men completely bananas. Is it that I'm straddling something in public? Is it that I'm sweating? Or breathing heavily? Maybe it's all of the above. But especially when I bike in skirts, DC males turn into sailors on leave.

On my way home last night, I was stopped at a red light on E Street, and this group of teenagers was crossing in front of me, one of them singing "Low" by Flo Rida. I laughed at his antics. After they crossed, they turned right to head up the street on which I was stopped. He took a sideways glance at me, then turned to his friends with much fanfare, and shouted "Yo, this girl's ridin' a bike IN HEELS!!" One of his female friends replied "Wow, that takes talent."

Biking in heels isn't as hard as it sounds. Although, it is a much better workout, as it requires a specific subset of leg muscles. The Mad Hipster always told me I should be riding with the balls of my feet on the peddles, but I always get lazy and ride with my arches, which is completely poor bike decorum. But high heels offer such a conservative surface area for the peddles that I am forced to ride correctly.

So here's to sunshine and toned thighs. Here's to cute girls on bikes, peddling in heels. But most importantly, here's to spring.

Bring it on.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Letting Go

I've been mildly irritated with Tweedle Fun. She's my little baby bird, my protégé if you will. Our friendship began on a fateful July roadtrip; me, a new college grad, and her, a soon-to-be sophomore. Crazy, in a fun way; her face lights up when she talks -- which is almost painfully often, and usually about sports. You know, the kind of girl who can drive to the Alexandria Target with her boyfriend's roommates and end up in Nashville instead, just because she can (true story). The kind of girl who could tell you said story without you being the least bit surprised.

She always said she moved out to DC because of me, a fact I always denied, as it's a fairly strong statement at 3,000 miles. But I've started to believe it. Although her desire to come to DC was her own, she was only able to make such a scary life change because someone was here to welcome her with open arms. On my birthday of last year, she professed her undying and unconditional love for me. And I didn't doubt it for one second. She's my girl.

She was joined to my hip when she first moved, but lately she's been blowing me off. At first I chalked it up to the near-fatal Finds A Boyfriend, Starts Ignoring Me syndrome. After all, I've lost many a good girlfriend to FABSIM. And I let that slide, just for her, because I really like the boyfriend -- he's a good guy, and I can tell he's way into the relationship just based on the way he looks at her. To be honest, I'd love for someone to look at me like that.

But after eating brunch with her this afternoon, I realized it's more than FABSIM. It's that she's finally found her niche. A cute rowhouse with fun roommates, a solid group of friends who accompany her on spur-of-the-moment midnight Tennessee roadtrips, a job she really cares about, and a city that she's making her own.

And really, that's all I ever wanted for her, to help her get started and then let go once that niche had been found. But being a role model is tough, and this is a bittersweet victory for me, as I feel like she no longer needs me. And now I realize that it truly is time to man up and let her go.

So fly, little birdie. Make mama proud.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Saving Daylight

Most people hate Spring Forward. I suppose because it causes you to "lose" an hour of sleep. But I don't see it that way. That hour isn't lost, it's just replaced with daylight that lasts until after I'm home from work, and the hope that spring really must be just around the corner. A few weeks ago, several days after Spring Forward, it dawned on me as I exited the Potomac Ave metro station that it was still light outside. And I smiled to myself as I walked home.

Along with the extra hours of sunlight, the promise of spring has brought with it the reignited desire to be social. This past Friday night, the Caterpillar and I accompanied the Queen of Clubs to latino night at a gay club way up in NE. Only a year out of the closet, the Queen of Clubs is a Southern Baptist with token expressions like "Lord, I apologize," "Bless her heart," and my personal favorite (and his solution to all of my problems), "Let's drink about it!" He's adorable and funny, like most gay men, and oddly proud of finally being a part of an oppressed minority. A fashionable dresser and a surprisingly good hip-hop dancer. One of those good catches that causes lonely single girls to declare what a tragic shame it is that he happens to enjoy kissing other boys. If I had a dollar for every person that mistakenly thought he and I were a couple, I'd quit my job.

He was able to lure me, lover of gay men and total lush, to this particular club with the promise of $3 jaeger shots; for the Caterpillar (lover of latino men and quasi-chola), the lure was gratuitous reggaeton. Even our skittish taxi driver couldn't sway us.

"New York Avenue, NE please."

"Do you know where that is? You don't want to walk around up there, there are a lot of shootings. You all are going to get shot. Don't count on catching a taxi home, we don't like to hang around up there..."

We attempted to assuage his fears by reassuring him we were not heading up to NE to take a midnight stroll. After all, we were asking to be dropped off at the front door of a club, dressed to the nines (the Caterpillar and I each wearing four-inch pumps). We arrived, the Queen of Clubs declaring, "I LOVE you! You are workin' it in those heels!" I winked at him. A girl can't hear that enough... even if it's solely from straight women and gay guys. There's just no ego boost quite like wearing stilettos to a gay club.

And after several rounds of shots, plenty of dancing, a drag show, and the hilarity of two beefy, scantily clad men dancing on boxes (one of whom was coming out of his hot pants, the other of whom was... ahem... fairly excited to be there), it was time to call it an evening.

We hailed a taxi just fine.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Flirting Shamelessly

Sometimes it amazes me that women really look out for each other. Even total strangers. The female race is one giant sorority whose sisters have unfairly earned a reputation for being catty bitches towards each other (mainly, I think, due to reality TV). But every once in a while, I get the feeling that those sisters are all just kindred spirits. ...Okay, so that feeling probably makes me a total pollyanna, but it also makes me grateful to belong to the gentler sex.

Today was Cheshire Kitty's birthday. And since she and the boy are still on the rocks (I won't even go into that, as the status changes what seems like hourly), she decided she'd rather have me join her for her birthday dinner reservation at hyper-masculine, protein-fueled, not-for-the-faint-of-appetite Brazilian churrascaria, Fogo de Chão.

Enter our waiter. I recount the following with the full understanding that it will read like a bad St. Patrick's Day cliché, but we had what has to be the cutest Irish waiter this side of the Emerald Isle. And I've yet to meet a woman who wouldn't melt at the sound of a delightful Irish accent, especially one attached to a wine-plying waiter who flirted shamelessly with Cheshire Kitty, even winking at her without a hint of outdated irony. He offered to help us select a wine, describing South American cabernets in a brogue that truly should be illegal.

"Wow. If I were a guy, I would not be able to stand up right now," declared Cheshire Kitty, as soon as he left to find our wine selection.

And after half a bottle each of said Argentinian red, plus after-dinner drinks and about two pounds of red meat each, I encouraged her to give him her phone number. But she hesitated, saying that she still didn't know what was happening with the boy. Commendable, I thought, and I backed off.

But she still wondered his name, imagining it to be some Guinness-soaked stereotype like Seamus, but insatiably curious nonetheless. On our way out the door after what was a truly memorable (albeit pricey) meal, she stopped at the hostess stand.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to be forward," Cheshire Kitty offered, "but we had a wonderful server and I'm curious to know his name. Tall, heavy Irish accent..."

"His name's Daniel," replied the pretty Brazilian hostess. "And I don't mean to be forward, but..." she paused, choosing her words carefully, "...I wouldn't recommend."

"I'm sorry?" said Cheshire Kitty.

The hostess paused again but repeated the same words, emphasizing them carefully. "I would not recommend." Then she smiled.

"I see," said Cheshire Kitty. "Thank you... thanks very much." And we took leave of the steakhouse, heading towards the metro.

It was so simple. A cryptic warning against a smoking-hot yet presumably womanizing Irishman with an accent that must drop panties on a regular basis, issued by a woman who had nothing to gain by telling us so. And I thought about how sweet the gesture was, in this modern world where women are thought to be two-faced, backstabbing bitches and hos. A world in which strangers sell each other down the river for iPhones and off-street parking.

Kind of boosts my faith in womankind. But it also shows me just how magnetic cute, international strangers with exotic accents can be in foreign cities.

...Maybe I should move to Dublin.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Breaking Piñatas

I'll be honest. I love any occasion during which society allows you to drink tequila at 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. Does that make me a lush? Best not to think about that now.

How I ended up with a group of DC friends (six in total) who all have March birthdays is beyond me. I'm the only non-Marcher in our whole group; a lonely Scorpio with a penchant for Halloween parties, wigs, and cupcakes dressed up as gravestones. But March is a bitch. No longer winter but not yet spring, it creeps up and bites me, leaving me to wonder where February went and how I'll ever find perfect gifts for six in a matter of just a few short weeks.

We now have a heavy contender for the best birthday party ever -- the Caterpillar's fête was this afternoon. Inquisitive and wise beyond her (almost) 24 years, she refuses to take any crap from anyone, and, yes, she owns a hookah. But she's also from Irvine, California. A white girl in a world of cholas who still gets hollered at by latinos on a daily basis. And undeniably loves it.

And so, at her request, we all gathered at our house today to celebrate the momentous anniversary of her birth. An east Los Angeles-themed fiesta complete with a Dora the Explorer motif, a Tootsie-Roll- and lollipop-filled piñata, carne asada, homemade salsa concocted free-hand by the Caterpillar herself, and ever-flowing margaritas. She's a freaking genius.

When I was little, I used to hate piñatas. Especially when the adults spun you excessively and pulled the rope just beyond your reach right when you decided to swing. To a kid, that seems cruel. But you know what? After several decades of (supposedly) maturing, piñata is back. I don't remember it being so goddamned fun. Maybe because at this point, I'm used to good things being just out of my reach while I spin blindly and try desperately to come out swinging.

And perhaps this was just what I needed. A little bit of the afternoon-drunk, vanilla cake procured from some random Mt. Pleasant bakery where a certain level of Spanish fluency is required to place your order, and some good old-fashioned, completely juvenile fun involving a bike-polo mallet as the only thing standing between me and a well-deserved sugar coma. I think, perhaps, my months of hermitage are finally and thankfully coming to an end.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm back.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sitting Shiva

"Have you ever been to that place, Loeb's Deli?" he asked, pointing out the window of our #34 metrobus at some McPherson Square eatery.

"No, is it any good?"

"It's New York Style. We're going."

He's in DC for nine short days, the first close guy friend I ever made. I met him in college in 2004, my senior year to his freshman. Ladies' man extraordinaire; my emotional rock during my unfortunate Sobbing Mess phase. Gives the tightest, most comforting hugs. Skanky fratboy with a heart of gold.

There are few things in life that I love more than a good NY-Style deli, so his choice took absolutely no persuasion. Work wasn't expecting me until 2pm, so after a lazy morning of making surprise cupcakes for the Queen of Hearts' 25th birthday, he and I hopped on a Blue Line train due west.

Gray days are known culprits for impressing upon me an unwarranted sense of melancholy.

We arrived, and I was amazed to find that their menu is a virtual plethora of Manhattanite delights -- matzo ball soup, knishes, kosher dogs, and deli sandwiches that feature nothing but glistening, marbled cuts of meat, piled high as the sky.

But just two bites into my heavenly pastrami on rye, the melancholy began to persist. Like gravity, if gravity was a weight that, instead of pulling you down, pushed. And it hit me that this innocent, meaty sandwich was forcefully reminding me of my grandfather's funeral.

I looked at him across the table and, blinking back the tears that I could not have seen coming, I vainly attempted not to think about how powerfully proud my grandfather would have been to see me now, an independent woman working for an organization that fights tooth-and-nail for civil rights. I tuned back in to my dear friend and tried desperately to focus on the words escaping from his mouth. He was talking about law school, and I was catching few words.

"Georgetown... waitlisted... ranked 13th, not bad... asked what kind of law I wanted to study... metro to Union Station... go out tonight?..."

It was then that I realized the rub. That this wasn't an isolated incident, to come and go and not to be thought of again. Instead, corned beef and kosher pickles would, from this point forward, always remind me of that weekend; of sitting shiva on the upper west side. Of the bittersweetness of seeing the family all together while simultaneously lamenting the reason for our strained assembly. Of placating our grief with tongue sandwiches on pumpernickel, and cinnamon rugelach, and whitefish salad on onion bialys.

If ever there was someone who would listen and understand, it would be him. He was, after all, my emotional rock. But his face was alight with the excitement of knowing about a gem in my own city that even I hadn't yet found, and of being the one to take me. And he waxed poetic about how this deli should be "our place."

"Don't ever take anyone else here," he said, throwing me his cute, trademarked grin. "...Or at least, not any guys you're interested in."

Don't worry, I thought, washing down the lump in my throat with a decent amount of Dr. Brown's Cream Soda.

I won't.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Drinking Gin

I adore the Cheshire Kitty. All circles have one.

You know the type: mischievous grin, sneaky intentions, always up to something (that you desperately hope to be a part of). You kind of wish you could be her, if only for a few days. My Cheshire Kitty is a midwestern badass with a future career in criminal justice and a penchant for inappropriate sexual innuendo. She drinks SoCo and lime, beats the boys at Guitar Hero, and knows how to properly handle a gun. She's in the kind of relationship that gives me hope -- hope that not all couples are simpering idiots; hope that it is indeed possible to escape the stereotype in favor of becoming (dare I say it?) fun. She's beautiful, but she could kick your ass in a DC minute. She's absolutely delightful.

Friday night saw me and the girls out to dinner at Zaytinya, which is ridiculously delicious. And after appetizers, god-knows-how-many shared mezzes, desserts, AND booze, I don't even look at the bill, I just sign blindly. Because it's worth it, and besides -- as a starving student, it'd only whip me into a spiral of buyers' remorse, which can't be good for my overall wellbeing. The other girls in the ladies' room, Cheshire Kitty leans over the table and, in our sangria-induced haze, drops a bomb:

"He said I'm 'not safe to marry.' Last night as we were falling asleep."

Cue the girls returning to the table, as I'm about to ask what on earth that could mean; cue Cheshire Kitty's abrupt hush. And not another word about it until the next night, when I found myself being ushered off to McFadden's, the kind of tool-frequented college saloon that I abhor -- you know, a place that charges $20 for a mediocre open bar, operates a mechanical bull for drunken sorority girls in tube tops carrying Louis Vuitton, and doesn't end a single evening without at least one instance of the popped-collared and fake-ID'd masses singing "Sweet Caroline" at the top of their lungs. With their eyes closed, no less. McFadden's is, undeniably, the seventh circle of hell.

And yet there I was, slugging back generic G&Ts while Cheshire Kitty pretended not to be troubled by the fact that her boy was spending the entire night getting sloshed upstairs with his friends. I still haven't heard the full story.

It's amazing how two people can be separated by just one floor, and at the same time, seem so goddamned far apart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Socializing with Hipsters

Flashback to February 1st of this year. Took a rare hiatus from my typical Friday-night activity of, well, sitting around, to perform a much-dreaded perfunctory social assignment.

"Should" is such an ugly word.

But it was because of this word that I found myself on a Green Line train en route to the Mad Hipster's girlfriend's (roommate's hairdresser's brother-in-law's) "Mardi Gras Margarita House Party."

Goodness! Socializing with hipsters is dizzying. And it's not for lack of trying: "Oh, I love tofu! What's that you say? No, I am not a vegan... not even a vegetarian. Bikes? I ride mine to work, sometimes... Sorry? No, it's not a fixed gear. Um, I'll pass on that can of PBR. No, I have not heard of The Obscure Pretentious Theory or whatever indie band played last week at the Black Cat..."

It was then that I caught the attention of a non-indie friend of the Mad Hipster's sweetie. Charm is a bittersweet gift.

Cut to yesterday, when even my epic reluctance could no longer stave off the inevitable awkward lunch that typically follows a sly, Facebook-fueled invitation. Ahh, Facebook. A quicker and more devastating social lubricant than tequila shots -- tastes vile, and you know you'll regret partaking, but startlingly difficult to pass up.

Cut to a disappointing Thai spot, of my regretful choosing. I discovered that the smell of curry can't spice up stilted conversation; the taste of coconut milk can't sweeten my instinctual apathy. Even the peanutty deliciousness couldn't quell the guilt at being unable to pinpoint a "good" reason for my disinterest.

Sigh. It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Falling Through

General Washington was a badass.

He was six feet and two inches of hair-powdering, hatchet-wielding, false-teeth-wearing, cherry-tree-chopping, truth-telling, country-fathering goodness. And yesterday, the (observed) 276th anniversary of the General's momentous birth, also happened to be the first paid holiday I've had in almost two years.

Even a mandatory meeting couldn't dull the high that comes with a new job that grants me federal holidays. I have my own interns, now, two of them! I have a company-issued Blackberry, for chrissakes -- I'm a badass too, General Washington! I'm coming up in the world!

But while quickstepping down into the Foggy Bottom metro station under the mild duress of a light drizzle, my gray flats slipped and gave under me, abandoning me as I tumbled down the slick escalator steps as if I was falling right through the center of the earth, to come out the other side where people walk upside down.

...But that's nonsense, of course. I just wiped away the trickle of blood quickly forming on my left ankle, muttered a soft "I'm fine" to the slew of blandly curious onlookers, and limped toward the turnstiles with Belle & Sebastian persisting through my iPod earphones. Six minutes until a Largo-bound Blue Line.

President's Day was a bust.