Thursday, July 20, 2006
I'm going on hiatus, friends.
Momma needs a break from all this navel-gazing.
No, I didn't get dooced or anything. I just need to get back to a place where my first reaction to a situation is not "And how will I frame this on my blog?"
So, I might be a while.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Oh, wait. Then I blogged about it.
Maybe there's a D&D message board I could go inform. Y'know, right after I get ten more cats and tack this up on my bedroom wall.
Monday, July 17, 2006
I once babysat for a little boy who knew, without a doubt, that the neighbor's dog was trying to kill him. This despite the fact that their most violent encounter involved an unprovoked licking of the face of one of the involved parties.
I know several people who insist that George W. Bush is the greatest president America has ever had.
Look, we all have our things. Many people adhere to a belief that is so irrational, so completely contrary to all logic that it somehow goes beyond a mere phobia or display of faith. Everyone has them. But I am the exception to the rule, because my crazy-sounding thing happens to be TRUE.
I give off a force field that destroys electronic equipment.
After a lifetime of damaged consumer goods, mysteriously deleted files and subpar performance by all mechanical goods designed to make my life easier, there is no other explanation left. Something that I emanate literally sucks the will to live from my electronics. In the last six years I have gone through two desktops, three laptops, seven iPods, two TiVos, two DirecTV units and one car with a damaged OBD II monitor, the latter of which no one can tell me why is so important or even what it DOES, but by Golly it IS important and listen missy, you will not drive that car until you get it fixed, even though we're not sure it's broken!
This latest rant was sparked when , after I finished a big chunk of my scary paper this Saturday, my hard drive suddenly decided it was tired of holding my papers and MP3 files and, with a violent "CLUNKetyCLUNKetyCLUNK" noise, went to that big scrapheap in the sky. Total system failure. New hard drive needs to be installed. All my photos, all my music... Phhhht, gone.
This has happened before, and so I do have a backup system. Everything-- and I mean everything-- was on my iPod. What's that? you ask. The iPod that is currently being held hostage by the warlords at Best Buy, who have wiped it so they can "repair" it?
The very same.
So you see?! I give off a force field that destroys electronic equipment! There is no other explanation for the sudden shitstorm of failure that is my apartment, littered with corpses of machines gone by.
Surprisingly, this is my "acceptance" stage of grief.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I don't know how much attention would have been paid to this statistic if one of them had not been the murder of a white man by black people in a ritzy neighborhood. Frankly, I don't care. It's a damned waste of time to fret over hypothetical racism when people are being stabbed in the streets. I'm sure there are some who would say that as a white, middle-class person I don't get to make that judgement call. To them I say "Can we talk about this later? Someone is breaking into my neighbor's house and there's a body in the street a block down."
Having recently been on the periphery of a violent crime, I haven't felt safe in my home and my city for several weeks now. This latest spate of violence may bring attention to DC's violent crime problem, but who knows if any tangible results will come from it. In the situation I've referenced before in this blog, I was deeply disturbed with reaction of the police involved. It's hard to explain without getting into specifics, which is not appropriate for this forum, but they behaved in a supremely unconcerned manner, sauntering around the crime scene and not bothering to interview witnesses or, that I saw, even write anything down. At one point I pointed out a car across the street that had been recently broken into-- there was still glass on the backseat and the weapon-- a rock wrapped in a scarf-- was hanging out the window. When I pointed this out to an officer, thinking they might find it of note that a robbery had taken place across the street and on the same night as the incident they were presently investigating, he responded "we can't do anything until the owner calls it in." He didn't even bother to write down the license plate number. I wrote it down, along with as many notes on the scene and the officer's reaction to it as I could recall, along with his squad car number and my contact information, and sent it to police headquarters. I'm sure they'll never do anything with it. It's probably sitting in a box somewhere in Anacostia, or more likely, is resting in pieces at the bottom of a shredder. From what I've been told, the continued investigation of this particular crime has been more of the same: apathy, dropped calls and general callousness towards the victim.
I don't have a lot of faith in the DCPD. After reading a lot of the comment threads and blog entires about this issue, I'm losing a lot of faith in the power of DC citizens. Events like these should push us to measurable action, not a round of race-baiting and finger-pointing. Everyone is too scared of the very large and ill-defined task of reducing violent crime, and so they play the blame game. It's the yuppies' fault for being stupid and living in bad neighborhoods. It's the parents' fault for letting their kids run wild. It's the schools' fault. It's the cops' fault. It's because of racist condo developers; Congress; gangs; crystal meth.
One thing I'm particularly losing patience with is the gentrification blame game. People like me are damned if we do, damned if we don't. Yuppies who live in Northwest and the suburbs get all kinds of crap for fleeing and taking their resources and influence with them, yet are told that because they don't live in the rougher parts of town they don't get to comment on what goes on there. If they, as I do, live in "transitioning" neighborhoods and something bad happens, they get a reaction of "what did you expect? This is a city. If you can't deal, get out." It's a vicious cycle that doesn't go anywhere or help anyone, and I'm sick of it.
I fully expect that this latest surge of violence will, in the end, change nothing about the way DC law enforcement is run or tangibly address any of the underlying causes of the rise in violent crime. What it will do is stir a simmering kettle of tangential crap. People will use the violence as a further reason to attack one another's lifestyles and choices. They will get up in arms about perceptions of racism, and quibble over how much attention to race and socioeconomic status is appropriate. Little will be different and people will still get hurt.
It'd be nice if I'm wrong, but I'm not optimistic.
She hung up on me. Right when I was in the middle of confessing something really unpleasant, something that casts me in so bad a light that I haven't and will not tell any of my friends. The kind of thing you can only tell parents because animal instinct mandates unconditional love of a child who confesses something so deeply unflattering. Animal instinct, or at least stubborn hope that their twenty-five years of moral instruction have gone the way of the carrier pigeon and dodo.
She was in her hotel room in Hawaii. Yes, my mother is on vacation in Hawaii and is too busy to talk to her daughter, or even to listen. She was trying to figure out why their hotel room's DSL connection had suddenly broken and called the customer service line on the room phone.
Then the customer help line finally clicked over to an actual human being ready to help her solve her computer issue, and she hung up on me.
Look, she's very busy and important. She works hard. She needs that email access so that she can keep up on work and receive her well-deserved accolades. She also deserves what little relaxation she can get. I don't begrudge her that. And for the record, I'm really good at not minding when she can't talk because she's tired and frustrated and rushing from one city to another. She's got lots of balls in the air, and I don't mind that, now that her kids are grown, we're not on the top of her to-do list. I'm an adult. I know this whole "grownup" thing sucks the life out of one, and, well, generally just sucks.
But some days, this grownup just needs someone to unconditionally listen and sympathize and love. Somtimes, after a bout of unpleasantness, I want my mommy. The bratty child in me wants someone who, by genetic pull or at least the forces of guilt, does not, at the very effing least, hang up on her upset daughter to talk to the Dell service rep.
I had a great little monologue in my head for when she called back, basically consisting of the text of this entry. Something to let her that even thought I respect her time and the many demands on it, I was hurt.
She hasn't called back.
I've stopped holding my breath.
And because I'm too stubborn/wary of appearing needy to my own mother, I shall instead bitch about her on the Internet.
Yes, that whole maturity thing is coming along smashingly.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Some people might choose to call the customer service line and wait for a technician, whilst working on their final paper for class like the good responsible souls they are.
I chose vodka. And a DVD of The Thomas Crown Affair. Original version, of course.
Steve McQueen may not fix my life, but he plays the sexiest game of chess known to frazzled, neurotic womankind.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
I mean, right? How can you not be relaxed when you're looking at views like that all day long?
Despite Michigan's best efforts to calm my frazzled, East Coast urban nerves, the relaxing simply wouldn't stick. I returned to DC to find a million little broken things and un-run errands that were placed in my path by some masochistic higher power who delights in seeing yuppies twitch with accumulated rage.
Scene One: I arrive home to find the following items broken: my iPod, my DSL connection and my bathroom light fixture. Individually these would have been annoying, but their combined suckage in one short night instantly drew me back from the beach into a world of automated telephone help lines and quiet showers in the dark. Due to a past encounter with Verizon customer service that was straight out of The Devil Wears Prada (boss made me order device that was not yet available to general public, the Mumbai-based service rep was rather unenthusiastic about my dilemma and I spent all of Thanksgiving evening screaming at various managers, convinced I would be fired by my Anna Wintour-esque boss because I wasn't able to purchase a model of Treo that had not yet been manufactured for sale), I approached the DSL issue with a wary hostility. My worst expectations were naturally fulfilled, and culminated with me yelling at the automated operator "No, I did NOT say BILLING ISSUE. GET ME TO CUSTOMER SERVICE, YOU STUPID BITCH!"
Shockingly, this did not get my DSL fixed. That took three human operators, one of whom spoke English, one repairman who arrived a day early (appreciated) at 8:45 AM (not appreciated) and one repairman's supervisor who examined the tangle of wires that is my setup and said "well, fuck if don't know what's wrong here."
Scene Two: I've been trying to get my car registered in DC for months. MONTHS. You can't get your car registered until you get it inspected at a station in Southeast. My car has twice failed inspection because something called the OBD II is not scanning. To fix this problem, the District of Columbia presented me with a charming piece of paper containing a seventeen-point driving course regimen that would make the Duke brothers shudder with fear. For example:
"Step Seven: Drive 5 mph for 30 seconds and accelerate to 35 mph for 10 seconds. Brake hard to a dead stop and accelerate to 55 mph in under 12 seconds. Drive at 55 mph for two minutes and decelerate to 8 mph for 20 seconds."
What this lovely document does not share with the driver is where, exactly, one is supposed to perform this seventeen-step stunt driving course. Am I to get up at 3 AM and peel up and down East Capitol, praying all the while that the Capitol Police are too distracted by a Kennedy to notice that the city is making me drive like a madwoman?
And what's more, I'll be doing this illegally, because it's taken so long to try to get the car registered that the original registration on it has expired.
Scene Three: I take my iPod to the Apple store. They have no appointments for five hours. I make an appointment for five hours later. I return, they inspect my iPod and pronounce it dead. "When did you buy it?" they ask. "June of last year," I respond. "Oh that's too bad," they say, "because the automatic warranty only lasts for a year." "Let me get this straight," I said, "if it had broken two weeks ago, or if I had punted it down a football field two weeks ago, you would have given me a new model for free? But there is nothing you can do for me now?" "Well," they said, "it's a year old! That's ancient! We've had, like, six new models since you bought it."
Right. How very naive of me to expect that something that costs three hundred dollars would still be functional a year after purchase! Silly, silly, EJ!
"Or," they continue, "you could test all of your files. Try playing each of your songs one at a time and see if the iPod freezes."
I have 4,434 songs on my iPod.
I leave, giving the surreptitious finger to the smug, be-tattooed "Genius" at the checkout counter.
Scene Four: I suddenly remember that I purchased this iPod at a Best Buy. Normally this is a terrible idea, but I had also purchased a three-year warranty with it. SCORE.
I go to Best Buy, present my situation and proudly cut off the bored-looking clerk who starts to drone that they can do nothing for me because the thirty-day waiting period has passed by smacking the warranty card on the counter with a satisfying THWAP. Being a packrat does come in handy. Not expecting his customer to be prepared and responsible, the Best Buy rep must find another way to inconvenience and anger me. "So are you going to replace it?" I ask. "No, we can't do that," he says, looking even more smug than the Apple guy. "We'll send it out for service. You get it back August 18."
I am literally speechless for a moment, then start practically spitting. "First of all, Apple told me it could not be fixed. They don't know what the problem is, but it's an old model that they don't even make any more. And if you somehow do fix it, it's just going to break again, because it's an old model, and I'll have to bring it back here and you'll keep it for another six weeks, is that right?"
I'm pretty sure I have steam coming out of my ears at this point. He stares at me for a second, raises his eyebrows and says "You're probably right. But that's all I'm going to do for you."
Actually, that part was pretty okay.
There's probably a moral in all this. Something like "acquiring stuff can't make you happy," or "material possessions end up owning you."
That's beautiful. You know what else is beautiful? My IPOD. And DRIVING LEGALLY. And BEING ABLE TO SEE WHETHER I'M ABOUT TO STEP ON MY BATHMAT OR IN THE CAT'S LITTERBOX.
At least the DSL is working.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Well, I missed you when I wasn't spending time with family whose company I actually enjoy. Or visiting wineries. Or on the beach. Or shopping. Or biking Mackinac Island. Or stuffing my face with cherries, fudge and whitefish pate. Did I mention the wine? And the champagne?
You know how it is outside right now? All 78 degrees and sunny and no humidity? Yeah, I brought that back with me. The good people at Northwest Airlines let me carry it on, even though I also had a shopping bag full of food and wine and champagne and a bathrobe (new purchase, hot pink and furry and makes me look like a Fraggle, and the best thing I've ever had wrapped around me, including Jan the Flying Dutchman). The weather was this perfect all. Week. Long.
You know there's been some not-so-good stuff going on lately. This vacation was all about trying to purge the negativity and not think about stuff I can't control for a little bit. This plan worked better than I'd ever thought because something really big happened in my family this weekend. For the sake of preserving my semi-anonymity I can't really get specific, but let's say you happened to wander to the Purdue website and happened to click on the news section and happened to read a press release from today, and... well, you might get an idea of what all is going on. Bottom line: it's good, it's a big change, and it has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with someone I love. And dealing with it and celebrating it all weekend took the focus off of all my crap, which was exactly what I needed.
Pictures are coming, as soon as Verizon decides to remove their collective thumbs from their nether regions and fix my DSL. Really, it was gorgeous. That part of the country just restores my soul.
Hope you all had a great 4th!