Monday, October 30, 2006


What. The. Hell.

Why would Nabisco do this? Why would they take the most perfect snack food in the world, Reduced-Fat Wheat Thins-- that sweet, salty, rib-stickingly delicious nourishment of the angels-- and ruin it by sticking Rachael Ray's stupid face all over the box? I have made my feelings about Rachael Ray VERY CLEAR and so can only assume that Nabisco wants me to feel conflicted and cry. That is the only explanation.

It was bad enough when I opened my new InStyle to find a six-page spread on her perfect New York loft, and it was really bad when I started coveting her kitchen (those tiles would look so good on my backsplash!). But this... this is completely unacceptable. I do not want to see that smarmy, annoying catch phrase-spouting, criminally undertipping face anywhere NEAR my most favoritest snack food ever. Nabisco, I will "Yum-O!" your ASS. No, I don't know exactly know what I mean by that and realize that I don't exactly have a plan for how I will do that, since the most damaging thing I could do would be to not buy Reduced-Fat Wheat Thins and that is so not an option, but know that I am NOT HAPPY WITH YOU.

And her recipe for Mexican Poblano Bean Dip looks like barfed poop.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

your tax dollars at work

Imagine my surprise when I found this little gem of an email waiting for me when I got out of my meeting this afternoon:

You submitted an application for vacancy 050298: Writer-Editor, GS-1082-11. Although we greatly appreciate your interest in this position, ultimately another candidate was selected.

Again, we appreciate your interest in employment with the Library Of Congress.

Yes, I did submit an application for this position. IN DECEMBER OF 2005.

Good thing I wasn't holding my breath there.

Though to be fair, the Library of Congress is very, very busy making sure their employees are properly equipped with Glow Sticks in case of a terrorist attack. Probably HR was diverted from processing job applications because the Library needed them to distribute anti-aircraft disco balls.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

warning: contains highly concentrated doses of dorky musical theater stuff

People, the things that HAPPEN when you don't blog for a week!

Like, I found myself with a weekend of nothing to do and decide on a total whim to visit my high school best friend who is now a struggling actress in New York. It turns out she's not so much "struggling" as "doing really well and booking a lot of modeling and commercials," and we spent Saturday night having drinks with the current Broadway cast of Wicked and I found out all sorts of really awesome gossip about current Broadway actors which is of NO interest to nerds but myself, but it was really damn awesome.

Sunday morning we walked/ran an insane sixty-block trail around Riverside Park and Columbia, me constantly pausing to gasp for air as Lakisha zoomed ahead of me with the same ease of movement I display when crossing my apartment floor to pour another glass of cheap red wine. Hey, if my body was a critical component of my livelihood and I didn't have the distraction of a nine-to-five job, I'd be in that good shape, right? Right???

I added up the numbers, and I walked/ran over 250 blocks in 36 hours. Most of it in two-inch heel boots. Luckily, most of it was through scenery so beautiful I didn't notice the vile, throbbing pain south of my ankles. A big chunk of the walking was over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan at sunset, which is where a lot of the new photos in Flickr are from. Of course, I found out yesterday that because of my dad's illness I have to get an echocardiogram to make sure I don't have an englarged heart too, and by the way, probably shouldn't work out until this procedure. Um, I'll take "things that might have been helpful to know before walking the length of Manhattan" for a thousand, Alex.

As if New York wasn't enough, the bus ride home proved to have its own surprises. I finally had my Before Sunrise experience. Except for, it ended with exchanging phone numbers instead of promising to meet halfway around the world in six months. But real life can never be exactly like the movies, can it?

Oh, and last night I saw Anthony Rapp perform "What You Own" literally three feet in front of my face. And later, emboldended by Chardonnay, approach him to tell him how much I love him and how I enjoyed his work with Interlochen students. I thought about asking him to join me in a rousing chorus of "Sound The Call!" but couldn't qute muster enough nerve.

Sometimes I really wish I could go back in time to assure my 15-year-old self that life would someday be full of fantastically random and delicious moments like sparking with a stranger on a bus and talking for six hours nonstop and getting to tell the father of your favorite songwriter how much his son's music meant to you and watching the sun set over New York as your dad tells you that yes, he is going to be okay and will be around for another thirty or forty years to bug you and sing off-key. If I could have clued her in that life would be full of these, she probably would have been a lot more fun to be around.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

cranky closet corn

I'm irrationally cranky tonight for reasons relating to the Education Corporation, one of which is entirely my fault and one of which I saw coming MONTHS ago and took every possible step to prevent, knowing all the while that it was like trying to stop a Metro car by planting a daisy in the trackwork.

I'm also cranky because all my shelving and racks in my closet just... fell off the wall. Last Wednesday. My landlord has not yet fixed them and so getting dressed in the morning has developed into something resembling an archaelogical expedition, as all my clothes have spread about every other available surface. Every surface except for Sadie's fur-coated section of the sofa, natch:

I'm also rather rationally cranky because, though he is not in any immediate danger and is getting great care, my dad is not doing well. He's still sick and he's still alone and when I last talked to him he did not sound good. Actually, cranky is not exactly the right word for my response to this. Usually when faced with a problem, even one that does not have a ready answer, I tackle it head-on and start looking for any element of it that I can contribute to resolving. With my dad's illness, I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and pretend the rest of the world has stopped existing. Except I can't, because I'd get fired if I stopped going to work and more importantly, that because of that whole closet thing this is what my bed has looked like for a week:

A bunch of us did a Corn Maze in Leesburg on Sunday. This sounded really good on paper, and began promisingly. Perfect weather and wholesome funtime:

However, nothing really quite captures the joy that is the reverse hangover (where you wake up feeling fine and gradually get worse and worse as the day goes on) quite like spending the afternoon getting lost in acres of corn. Especially when I spent the night before enjoying yet another chapter in the ongoing Tribute to Aaron Spelling that has been my recent love life.

Plus, we were the only people at the Maize (hahaha-- get it?!?!?!) who were over 18 and not dragging babies around with us. There were so many children running around the place, I felt really guilty waiting in line for onion rings and saying things like "Fuck, you guys, I'm sweating pure vodka." Not guilty enough to not swear, mind you, but just enough to politely cover my mouth when I burped to better emphasize my point.

But you know what they had that makes me feel better? Better about all the things that made me cranky?

The Corn Cannon.

Two days later and I'm still giggling at The Corn Cannon.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"see the man with the big gun? you go smack him with your trapper-keeper and tell him we don't stand for this in America!"

One of my favorite things about this country is how, when gripped in the clutches of fear, we calmly and rationally extract ourselves from that fear using clear-headed logic and entirely proportional repsonses to adversity.

Teaching kids to fight back against classroom invaders

"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools. That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.

But school officials in Burleson said they are drawing on the lessons learned from a string of disasters such as Columbine in 1999 and the Amish schoolhouse attack in Pennsylvania last week.

Browne recommends students and teachers "react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down."

Response Options trains students and teachers to "lock onto the attacker's limbs and use their body weight," Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.

"We show them they can win," he said. "The fact that someone walks into
a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids
and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a
200-pound man with a gun."

Yup, completely rational and well-advised. Everyone knows that public schools in suburban Texas are even more dangerous than downtown Baghdad, and that armed gunmen burst into classrooms EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY. Therefore, the only way your children are not going to be murdered between morning recess and Ms. Pingleton's art class is if you teach them to gouge out a would-be gunman's eyes with their colored pencils. Yes, teaching kids how to punch and kick and attack is truly the ideal use of classroom time.

But of course completely random and unpredictable school shootings are teeny baby potatoes when compared to the long national nightmare that is: Terrorism in the Rural Midwest. Good thing the Coast Guard is now using Grand Haven, Michigan as a base for submachine gun practice.

U.S. Firing Plans for Great Lakes Raise Concerns

For the first time, Coast Guard officials want to mount machine guns routinely on their cutters and small boats here and around all five of the Great Lakes as part of a program addressing the threats of terrorism after Sept. 11.

“The Coast Guard has looked at an increased terrorist threat since 2001,” Rear Adm. John E. Crowley Jr., commander of the Coast Guard district that oversees the Great Lakes, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know when or if something might happen on the Great Lakes, but I don’t want to learn the hard way.”

Some members of the Coast Guard assigned to law enforcement duties always carried weapons, but most of those were personal semiautomatic pistols. Since the arrival of the boat-mounted machine guns, the Coast Guard has conducted 24 training sessions on the lakes this year, although it has halted the exercises temporarily after news of the program seeped out last month and, with it, a barrage of objection.

“When I heard, I thought it was something from The Onion newspaper or an Internet hoax,” said Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, Ontario, which sits beside Lake Huron, where 6 of the 34 live fire zones are planned. “This whole thing was done way below the radar.”

You may think that there is a really high chance that soon an innocent family out sailing will suddenly find themselves under assault from friendly fire. You may then think "this is something that is generally not supposed to happen on Lake Michigan." You may think that it is completely absurb to use the Great Lakes as a repository both for spent machine gun rounds and our ever-crumbling faith in national leadership. Yes, you might think these things but you would be WRONG. This is:

1) highly necessary to our national security interests and if you have a problem with it THEN YOU HATE AMERICA, and

2) highly necessary because Grand Haven, Michigan is a well-known center for terrorist activity. Those terrorists are going to strike America right where it will hurt us the most: the whitefish industry.

*Sigh.* These days, you don't really have to read The Onion for absurdity. Just crack open the New York Times and get the hilarity begin.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Dad is sick.

I knew he was sick, but didn't know how sick until yesterday. Before I thought it was "stop eating sausage pizza and try jogging and popping more Gaviscon" sick. Now he's going to the Mayo Clinic to be evaluated for potential surgery and we're having conversations about whether Jenny and I should undergo genetic testing.

I can't stop thinking of the Cottage Inn Pizza on Stadium Road in Ann Arbor. One time when I was maybe ten or eleven, Dad and I drove there to pick up a takeout order. Dad asked the pimply high-school kid behind the counter how he was doing and the kid jokingly replied "Fine, sir, but I could sure go for an ice-cream bar." Dad paid for our order and had me wait by the counter for the pizza while he went to the gas station next door. He walked back in a few minutes later and handed the surprised kid an ice cream sandwich.

He won't tell me how bad it is. After a day of Googling "hypertrophic cardiomyopthy," I can't tell what he's not sharing. Our family is spread out all over the country and he's alone.

I can't wrap my head around this. I'm not even sure where to begin.

He's going to be fine, because he has to be. Because anything else is too scary to think about.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

optional step four: slink away in mortified shame

How To Lose All Dignity In Front Of Your Shoe Repairman: A Three-Step Plan

1) Rummage through handbag for wallet, setting various items on the counter as you sift through the contents. Extract wallet from bag and begin to return items on counter to the bag. Only then, note that one of these items is a mini bottle of Wild Turkey.*

2) Hastily shove whiskey back into handbag, open wallet and hand repairman credit card. Continue returning items to handbag, then pause when you see repairman extending credit card back to you. Realize with horror that instead of your AmEx, you handed him a condom. From Brew at the Zoo. With "Wrap It Up, You Animals!" written on the packaging.

3) In an effort to make light of an awkward moment, burble "Well, that's one way to pay for re-heeling my boots!"

*It's for my voice. Seriously. It's also left over from the show I did last fall and I'd already embarassed myself with it in a similar scenario in the library. Perhaps it is time to consider cleaning out this particular bag.

Friday, October 06, 2006

the engine rattles my bum like berserk

A rainy day like today should mean sweatshirts and cabernet franc and cats on laps and pillar candles tonight. But since I have tickets to Jamie Cullum and will therefore be out dealing with the weather and actual people, I've had the video below playing on my office computer all afternoon to make feel all snuggly and nesting before slogging out. Watch it and then try to feel bad about the world. It's not possible!

Have a good weekend, friends.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

bluegrass is the new black

Maybe it's the football or maybe it's because I no longer live in Michigan (a place where children have to incorporate snow suits into their Halloween costumes), but autumn in Washington tends to bring out my inner Southerner. Didn't know I had one, did you? Well, half of my family is from East Tennessee, and if given five minutes and a bourbon I can drawl along with the best of them. I think it's also because my own accent is Midwestern by way of Long Island, thanks to my choice of college, and this means that I have no affect and pronounce "orange" as "aaarhhh-ange." I really don't like this.

One of my lifelong bad habits has been to immediately slip into my Southern accent whenever I'm around people who normally speak one. They often think that I'm making fun of them, but 1) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as I covet their beautiful drawls and the way it doesn't at all sound fake when they say "all y'alls" instead of "you guys" and 2) I legitimately can't help it. It's not just my family background and personal distaste for my normal voice; I have pretty extensive accent training from my acting years and just naturally absorb the accents of other English-speakers. I do the same thing with English accents, and please be assured that after the summer of 1998, the entire population of London hated my guts.

I caught of whiff of this after having lunch with Law-Rah and Betty Joan last week. These two Dixie gals have their own slightly assimilated yet fully gorgeous accents, whereas my East Tennessee twang sounds most appropriate when hollerin' for Pa to git in, the vittles are ready! Since our lunch I've caught myself inserting more "y'all"s into my speech patterns and saying "whut?" instead of "could you please clarify that?" and "raht" instead of "yes, I concur" at work.

Last night I reached the apex of my faux-Dixie identity when K and I went for soul food at Oohhs and Aahhs on 10th and U (cannot recommend this highly enough; try the beef short ribs, green beans and cornbread if you want to know what heaven tastes like) and then caught Old Crow Medicine Show at the 9:30 Club. We'd seen OCMS at Prairie Home Companion earlier this summer, and were looking forward to a mellow night of hardcore bluegrass played by really cute 20something white boys. Imagine our surprise when we got inside to find out that the venue had sold out and was filled with people who looked exactly like us. I'd been expecting more of the NPR set, perhaps some Baby Boomers in tweed blazers with frayed elbow patches. But no, we were parked right behind the entire Ole Miss Sig Ep DC-area alumni association, and lordy honey, they were whoopin' it up. They even brought their own beer cozies (from Bass Pro Outdoors-- because if you're going to BYOBC to a bluegrass concert, of course they're going to be from Bass Pro Outdoors).

Our bellies filled with soul food (I named my soul food baby Jamal) and surrounded by congenial Southerners, K and I lapsed into hardcore twanging. K is originally from Oklahoma and has a more legitimate claim to her accent than I do, and was soon shouting things like "Euyh-muh-lee! Did y'all want uh Haaah-nuh-kyn or uh Milluh Laaaht this tahm?!" It was around the second of my Haaah-nuh-kyns and the band closing their first set with "Johnny Get Your Gun," that the crowd shifted from Congenial Southerner to Drunken Redneck. There was much ill-advised square dancing on the beer-soaked floor, and the faster they fiddled the more the crowd whooped like we were at an SEC tailgate. K and I sang along "Tell it to me, tell it to me, drink the corn liquor, let the cocaine be, cocaaaaaaaine done killed my honey dead!" and whooped with the best of them.

As we stumbled pack to the car, ankles twisted from do-si-do-ing and sides hurting from the dual effects of hollerin' and fried chicken, K and I were still twangin' away. "Eyuhm," K said as I unlocked the door, "I am so puh-raoooowd of uhs fuh doing sumthayn diif'reeeent."

I nodded. "Honey, we haaayve to do this agayn."

"Don't y'all wi-yush that we sahnded lahk this awl the tahm?"

I thought about the beer cozies, Jamal straining my pants waistband, and the look on the indie snob bartender's face when I'd ordered my Haaah-nuh-kyn.

"Honey child, no. I do nawht."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

the lesbian feminists with their abortions made him do it

I cannot WAIT to see how much more dirt the press can get on Foley, because there is no way that even these revolting IMs are the end of it. Keep digging. Trust me on this.

Although, it's really nice to know that Republican congressmen have such strong, decisive opinions on the whole "bare-handed versus lotion" debate. No flip-flopping there! No siree, this here is DECISIVE LEADERSHIP. Those wishy-washy liberals would probably equivocate their way into no cybersex at all!

Watching Foley, Hastert, the NRCC and the White House attempt to rein this in, I wonder if perhaps the Republican party has turned over their damage control operations to a freshman Political Communication seminar as a "Welcome to Washington" project. Since there's no way to spin the Republican leadership covering up one of their congressman soliciting sex from teenage boys whom he supervised in a professional capacity while holding up a floor vote, they're just try throwing out random phrases from the culture wars to try to distract from the incredible perviness of it all. It was the booze! The liberal atmosphere perpetuated by queer-loving Democrats! The priest touched him forty years ago and we're only going to hear about it now, and yes he accepts total responsibility DID I MENTION THAT A PRIEST TOUCHED HIM FORTY YEARS AGO?!?!?!?!?!! LOOOOOK, it's SHIIIIIIINY!


And exactly when is the FBI going to be done "examining the messages they've obtained so far?" Because from what ABC has posted online, I wouldn't exactly take "Mark has absolutely agreed on his own and with our counsel not to do anything with any computer, not to delete any messages, not to obliterate or attempt to obliterate any IMs, e-mails, Internet communications," and wrap myself in it to stay warm at night.

Monday, October 02, 2006

not enough

He said he might want to come back, but wasn't sure.

He said he didn't think he would hurt me again, but couldn't promise that he wouldn't.

He said it was perfect right now, and I buried my head in that familiar spot on his shoulder and nodded. For that moment on my couch, both of us slightly tipsy on cheap Chianti and possibility, with no one else-- no friends rolling their eyes, no parents drawing deep breaths, no expectations beyond the night, beyond the moment-- yes, it was perfect.

And when I hand you my heart, would you like the silver platter to be plain or filigreed?

If only it could have started now. If only he hadn't already broken my heart once, I might give it to him. If only I hadn't spent the last year telling everyone how much I hated his guts while watching him be happy with other girls. If only it could just be him and me then maybe it could be something.

Maybe it even could have been Something. You know, That Thing. That Thing that twenty-something girls in urban centers don't talk about because we're supposed to be chill and fun and enjoy being slightly slutty and watching football and not get all commitment-crazy because, like, ew, commitment. We're not, like, old.

I don't know if it was that, or could have been. But I can't think about what could be when there's already too much what was.

I told him it wasn't going to happen. That I couldn't be sure of him and I couldn't make the leap. When I talked to X about it, she tooted "Never trust a dumper!" Blunt, but good advice nonetheless.

It's miserable to turn down something that makes me happy now because there is a chance that it will hurt me in the future. At this age, I'm not supposed to be so cautious and thinking about the future. And if it was anyone else making me feel this way, I'd be over the moon and annoying everyone I came across with bragging about how happy I was.

Maybe if he'd said "I promise not to mess it up this time" Maybe if he'd made declarative statements for once, if he'd said "this is what I want" instead of mumbling "I don't knoooow." To be fair, I didn't know either. But his not knowing told me all I needed to know.

If he'd asked, maybe. But suggesting... suggesting is not enough. I only get one of these heart things in a lifetime, and in the end, I'm the only one around to protect it.

So, no.