Thursday, April 26, 2007

gettin hot in herrrr

I recently had dinner with my friend L, a person who, every time I hang out with her, has me leave the evening thinking "And why don't we do this more?" Because really, she's awesome. I also usually leave with a blood alcohol content that would get me arrested in 34 states and Puerto Rico, but that's another story.

At this recent dinner she told me about a product that she described variously as "life-changing," "slightly embarassing" and "makes me feel really okay about listening to Nelly." Behold: the OhMiBod.

For those of you too frozen with glee to click on the link: The audio enabled integrated microchip allows the OhMiBod to vibrate to the beat and rhythm of your music while you listen.

You read that right. It's a vibrator. That pulses in time to music.


It's like the baby Jesus knew that I haven't had noteworthy sex in a hideously long time and through divine intervention and the divine Internet sought to provide a welcome distraction.

Why is the music component so important? Listening to your favorite sexy music and actually feeling the corresponding vibes quickly transports you to a place where music, mind and body truly "come" together.

I am so in love with the mere suggestion of this product that I don't mind the sixth-grade level punning.

Measures 5 1/2" long (insertable) and 1 1/8" in diameter.

Okay, now this may be somewhat of a problem. I mean, I'm hardly a size queen, but come on.

And I do have to confess, I find myself somewhat creeped out by the idea of attaching this device to a stereo or computer, as suggested by the website. An iPod is small enough to be unobtrusive, but the suggestion of a more ponderous electronic device conjures mental pictures that, frankly, are not very sexy. In fact, they are pretty effing bizzare, and in some cases inspire the exact opposite feeling that I am sure the OhMiBod is meant to impart.

These minor worries aside, I am still completely turned on by the delicious idea of the OhMiBod and will totally be ordering one. I already have a playlist for pretty much every activity I engage in daily, including Cooking and Cleaning My Pigsty of An Apartment, Running Off My Shame, Dancing Around Like A Total Dork, Morning Commute and "Hanging Out" With Someone New, so why not add in Masturbation?

So, now that we've established 1) that the existence of God is proven by this product and 2) that the complete lack of men in the greater Washington area who know what to do with a woman's body is such that I have spent sixty-nine dollars on this product, what do you suggest for my playlist?

Monday, April 23, 2007

chicken; or, different types of "into you"

"So, I wanted to tell you something."

I was sitting on couch in a complete stranger's apartment with J, one of my oldest friends and the only person currently in Washington who knew me at a time in my life when I wore glasses, braces and a souvenir Les Miserables sweatshirt to school every day.

We were at this apartment because we ran into one other earlier in the evening in Dupont Circle. I was reading and trying to figure out what I'd be doing that night, he had just gotten stood up for a first date with a guy he met on the Metro. We decided it was serendipity and that we would obviously be hanging out.

He told me he'd been at a garage sale earlier and had bought some Christmas lights and a poster of a midnight blue cat (seriously, this is how he speaks-- tremendously deliberate with his words), but that he'd left them at the house because he didn't want to carry them on the date. The people holding the sale were having "a soiree" and had invited him to stop by-- did I want to join? Um, a total stranger's party on a summery Saturday night? Did he even need to ask?

"Great," he said. "But first, can we stop and get some chicken?"

Well, sure. Because when you go to the goodbye party of someone you've never met, it's only polite to bring a chicken.

"No, I just stopped being a vegetarian and I really need the protein. I'll cook it for myself after the party."

Marvelous. So deliciously random. This is why I live in a city.

So we got a chicken from the Soviet Safeway and walked to the strangers' house off U Street, passing several barbecues and other parties spilling out onto the sidewalks. One house in particular was set back from the street, leaving enough of a yard for an enormous peasant table and plank benches filled with people passing huge plates of food and toasting each other as they laughed, probably about something from NPR or The New Yorker. They looked so content and happy in the glow of company and the candlelight that J and I literally stopped in our tracks to gawp at them. He finally tugged at my elbow when they noticed us staring, guiding me back down the bumpy brick sidewalk as he whispered "Someday, EJ. Someday soon."

We got to the house and the hosts reiterated their offer to crash the party, so J and I soon found ourselves standing in their kitchen, drinking Blue Moons as their friends entertained us with stories of their Peace Corps service and spelunking days. We stayed for so long that J realized his chicken was going to spoil soon, and so he asked one of the roommates if he could put his chicken in her freezer. I'm not sure which was better, when she thought it was a euphemism for something naughty or when she realized no, he just had a chicken he needed to freeze.

Which is how we came to be sitting on a couch in a stranger's living room, a little drunk on beer, summer and unexpected coincidences. We were talking about dating and relationships, and I was loudly proclaiming that I'd never, ever again date a bisexual man because there's already too much competition with beautiful, brilliant women and why add in a whole other damn gender and besides, for so many guys being bi is just a rest stop on the road to Gay when J stopped me: "So, I wanted to tell you something."

"What'd you want to tell me?" I asked, setting my beer on the warped hardwood floor.

"You're going to think this is crazy, but I thought I should tell you-- I'm kind of into you."

That one made me sit upright. I knew J was bi, but he was also one of my oldest friends in the world and I'd never gotten a whiff that he might be interested in me. If anything, I worried he was disappointed in me because I'd become too much of a cynic, that I was too dead inside after seven years here.

"Seriously?" I smiled, and he grinned back. "Yeah, I just thought you should know. I mean, I know you aren't into bi guys and that we aren't ever going to... whatever. But I thought you should know. I mean, it's a compliment to you."

I didn't really know what to say, because I wanted to tell J how very touched I was by his complete lack of guile while not being patronizing. Watching him run his enormous hand through his curly black mop of hair, I let my mind fill with all of the great moments we've shared over the years. From dividing up the lyrics of "I Am the Walrus" to quote in our eighth-grade yearbook, to the transcendent naked puppy pile New Years' Eve to earlier that night, when we explained to a group of new friends how we were childhood friends who ran into one another at Lebanese Taverna almost a year ago, surprise!

"J," I said "you know you're one of my people, right? I mean, one of my people-people that you carry with you forever."

"Of course," he grinned back. "And you know you are for me, too."

"I think there's different types of 'into you,'" I said, picking up my Blue Moon and running my finger along the label's edge. "And I'm so glad that you can tell me something like that and know that we won't miss a beat."

"Because I'm your people."

"Because you're my people who talks about midnight blue cats and who stores chicken in a stranger's freezer when we crash their party."

"'Different types of into you,'" he mused, resting his skinny body into the folds of the couch. "I like it." He grinned at me. "So I think we should do this again soon."

"What, run into each other and have a random adventure where you store your chicken in some girl's freezer?"



Thursday, April 19, 2007

because some levity is really in order right about now

There has been a pair of black leggings in the copy room since Monday.

Sometimes they're on the counter. Sometimes they're on the chair. I would not be terribly surprised if tomorrow I went to stow my Diet Coke in the fridge and they were in there, casually flung next to someone's three-day-old Bertucci's pizza, an errant hem dangerously flapping at the edge of the salad crisper.

How did they get there? I wonder. Did a modern dance enthusiast get lost on her way to a performance and somehow wind up in our suite, whereupon she shed half her clothes in confusion and despair? Is that troll-like woman who always leaves the bathroom door open actually a Sienna Miller impersonator by night? Did one of the HUNDREDS of undergrad girls who crowd the sidewalks clad in ballet flats, black leggings and very very small jean skirts suddenly realize "my God, my normal-sized ass looks enormous in this ridiculous outfit!" and run into the nearest open office to frantically change into sweatpants like a normal college student should wear? And leave the evidence behind? Inquiring minds want to know, people!

Do you have a better idea of how a pair of leggings came to live in our copy room? Knowing the origin of the infestation is key. Because if they set up camp for good and start inviting gaucho pants and high-rise pleated jeans to come live with them, I'm going to have to get a new job. A new job in a place where ill-advised trendy pants don't randomly visually assault the employees.

Workplace safety, friends. Now more than ever.

that little vein in my forehead is one more asinine interview away from bursting

I didn't think it was possible for me to have simultaneous respect for President Bush and extreme contempt for the media, but this week has proved that the unthinkable does happen.

I've trashed him quite enough in this space and in life, and so I'll say here that I think Bush has behaved in a remarkably tasteful and classy manner this week. His speech at the convocation was entirely appropriate and one got the sense that he was profoundly affected by the grief and the unity that was shown in that ceremony. He did not hog the spotlight there and kept the focus on the community and on President Steger, which is exactly as it should be now. He's also so far been staying out of the shockingly tasteless battle over gun control that began almost as soon as the last shot was fired on Monday, though I doubt that will last long. But for now, well played indeed. Unlike, say, pretty much every major American media outlet.

I'm not in the slightest bit exaggerating when I say that I shrieked and jumped when I saw the photos of Cho Seung-Hui posted on the New York Times homepage earlier this evening. NBC had a chance to do the decent, non-profit-driven thing and to, I don't know, NOT give a mass murderer the satisfaction of immortality by broadcasting his demented ramblings to a raw public that really, really did not need to see him snarling at the camera with the very weapons he would use to murder his classmates. I'm not remotely suprised that they published these photos and videos, but that doesn't keep me from being disgusted with the speed with which the talking heads line up to bray about "senseless" and "tragic" while splashing these terrible images around, adding to the grief and horror as they breathlessly decry it.

The idea that the survivors will see these pictures and re-live that morning, that the victims' parents, spouses, siblings and friends will know exactly what the victims saw at their last moment is beyond sickening. What possible "news value" is there in these photos that supercedes the dignity and peace owed to the survivors and the dead alike? Did the leaders of a soulless corporate media not once pause to imagine a student who survived the massacre seeing a photo of the murderer wielding the same gun he'd tried to kill them with? Did they not for a moment think of what was decent in a time of mourning?

It is not the job of the press to protect the public, but it is their duty to help the public make sense of events. These photos and videos contribute nothing to our understanding of why this tragedy happened. They just reinforce what we already knew: that a deeply sick, corrupted individual did something incomprensibly awful.

I'm overwhelmed with disgust for the media right now. They've taken an unexplainable tragedy and were almost instantly swarming like vultures trying to find someone to blame, be it the administration, the permissive gun culture, the not-permissive-enough gun culture, the mental health profession, whatever. The media didn't kill anyone. That was all Cho Seung-Hui. But if Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Katie Couric and Larry King want to know who is responsible for all the grief that the Virginia Tech community is feeling, they could take a long, hard look in the mirror. They could ask themselves how shocking an unsuspecting audience with the cold eyes of a murderer and the barrel of his gun in any way contributes to understanding or healing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

virginia tech

I'm sitting here at my desk, finishing edits to an important document and watching the Virginia Tech convocation stream over CBS News. This sounds terribly crass and clueless, but I didn't really get the full scale of it until I spoke with my mom last night. Like me, she works on a college campus, but unlike me, she works on a typical college campus. The kind with lots of sprawling green spaces and undergrads in flannel pajama pants who take the bus to 8 AM classes. An actual quad where people play frisbee golf in between lectures. Where internships are pretty much only for summer and people go to frat parties with crappy campus bands, not one of the few schools in the country that actually had a campus lock-down plan before 9/11 (thank you so much, IMF riots). She works at a school that is like the school she worked at when I was a child.

My mother does not typically get unglued. But last night, as she talked about the shootings at Virginia Tech, she sounded more freaked out than when she called me to tell me my father was in the ER.

College is a rarified time and space for almost everyone who goes, a safe chunk away from real life tedium and drudgery. It's lazy Tuesday afternoons watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force mixed with genuine excitement at actually acquiring knowledge, practically feeling the new wrinkles in your brain being formed. It's an enormous privilege and responsibility, and I know for me, it was the time in my life I most looked forward to. It's mistakes and successes and tears and finding passion and having the safety to screw it all up and start over.

It comes down to safety. The fun and chance of discovery aren't possible without knowing that, within reason, you are protected from yourself and from others. Growing pains aren't just allowed, they're expected. How many other times have there been so many bodies- academic, financial, personal, medical, social, political- dedicated to making sure we get where we need to go and get there in one piece?

They all together create an atmosphere of freedom that is uniquely and unmistakably collegiate. Growing up on a college campus, I was always thrilled when my mother took me into the dorms where she worked with students or let me tag along as she directed teams of students at their summer jobs leading tour groups and welcoming new freshmen. Even as a little kid, I got a contact high off the collective giddiness, the idea that they were at the beginning of something new and huge and scary and that they couldn't wait to stumble out of the starting block. Those memories are a big part of why I'm still in higher education today.

I know what she felt, and what I'm starting to let myself feel, is not just sympathy for the Virginia Tech family. Something even bigger than their campus community was damaged on Monday. The idea of a college or university somehow set apart from the "real world" is gone. There's a real sense of a sacred space being violated, and to me it somehow feels even scarier than another Columbine or a workplace shooting because I know, rationally, that there is nothing that can be done to stop something like it from happening again.

How do you stop a madman that is determined to destroy his surroundings? If you have the benefit of a single building with doors that lock and exits that can be guarded, there are ways. There are ID cards that swipe you into buildings and key-in code touch pads and lots of armed security guards. But on a college campus? You can't do it without violating in turn the physical freedoms of the campus.

Don't be quick to dismiss these. The freedom to wander and explore and try on new ideas and identities, to change your mind and change it back again. It's a literal physical freedom, too-- on a college campus, pretty much anyone can wander anywhere and do whatever they want. How many of you had an out-of-the-way place you thought of as "yours," whether for studying or sex or just being, reveling in all of delicious little discoveries you were making every day? If you had to swipe a key card to get where you needed to go, were restricted to only those places that were deemed essential, then how could you make your campus your own?

I'm not trying to pretend that universities are still idyllic ponds of utopian peace. Any naive notions of that were gone by the time the National Guard stationed a tank outside my sophomore year residence hall. But I still have an idea in my head of the possibility of a campus away from a city, where news cameras only show up to document student protests on janitors' rights and classes meet under trees when the weather is nice. A campus like the university of my childhood, or what Virginia Tech seemed to be and hopefully will be again soon. I'm so deeply sorry for what their community must be going through. I really can't begin to imagine what this feels like.

Monday, April 16, 2007

two bored worker bees/graduate students rumanite on their dongles

EJ: i just got the most awesome spam headline ever
EJ: "Thumb Drives: The Modern-Day Dongle?"
X: what do you suppose a serious email with that headline would include?
X: it'd come from hr
X: and be an explanatory email about how to properly use the org's thumb drives...
EJ: and would explore the implications of what this dongle would mean for humanity
EJ: presumably, if thumb drives are the modern-day dongle than something else is now an out-dated dongle
EJ: what of that?
X: thus the introduction would include a discussion of the out dated dongle
X: and the path the org and the world took to getting to the modern day version
EJ: and its potential for transitioning from dongle to dwinklezorp
X: also, it would define dongle
EJ: naturally
EJ: but in terms of what it meant for the organization
X: agreed
EJ: and how they could consumerize the thumb drives to be a more efficient dongle
X: there would also be an invitation to discuss the concepts at a brown bag lunch
X: because this subject should be discussed with staff at large
EJ: totally! because the thumb drives have potential but it's not determined that they will for sure the the new dongle
X: right
EJ: there might be other dongle-esque prospects out there
X: the org needs some sort of way to poll the drives efficiency with staffers
X: particularly with regard to dongle issues

Friday, April 13, 2007

oh, and we won 10-6

'Tis been far too long since I woke up with a crust of last night's beer on my eyebrows.

Kickball, I've missed you so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

kickin' it in the chill out tent

Even if Mother Nature hasn't gotten the memo yet, warm weather is not terribly far away. And what does warm weather mean?

Concerts! Alternatively known as "an open drain on my financial resources that is oh! so very worth it."

So far this spring I've seen Scissor Sisters, Kaiser Chiefs with the Walkmen and Of Montreal. I have tickets for Peter Bjorn and John, Bloc Party (with good enough seats that I almost don't mind it's at DAR, where rock goes to waft into the rafters and die), A Prairie Home Companion, stage seats for Spring Awakening in New York (which I would argue is a rock concert with more sex and Germanic schoolboy costumes). There are rumblings of a Decemberists showing with the Baltimore Philharmonic, which I will be first in line for. I missed out on Arcade Fire tickets and am a little bummed about it, but 1) it's at DAR, and I believe my feelings on that venue have been established and 2) I saw them when I was backpacking through Amsterdam in winter 2005, the kind of experience that cannot really be topped or replicated even with the best contributing efforts of the pharmaceutical industry. Although Neon Bible is a really excellent album. But alas.

There are also lots of outings from local bands, starting with the Six Points Music Festival, whose press preview I'll be attending tonight. My favorite DC band The Roosevelt will be playing at DC9 on Saturday April 20th with Two If By Sea and Alfonso Velez of the departed Monopoli. Full disclosure: a member of The Roosevelt is a good friend and in fact once helped me move AND get a job, which means I owe him a life debt. But I actually really, really enjoy their music. As do the Going Out Gurus. I'll also be checking out my friends in The Known Unknowns at DC9 on April 16th, because they've been endorsed by Donald Rumsfeld. Seriously.

So it's time to decide what else to see, and I'm having a tough time. Ben Folds is coming to Verizon Center, which is awesome, but he's coming in support of John Mayer which is not awesome. I just don't know if I can make myself pay good money to see John Mayer in concert. I hated his last two albums, I hate how he's turning into a Jack White lookalike who still plays Jason Mraz music, and whatever good will he won with both his admittedly amusing blog and his request for a Dundie award went out the window once he hooked up with Jessica Simpson. Plus, I already paid money to see John Mayer when I was nineteen and I kind of have this personal policy of not doing things I did when I was nineteen. Trust me, everyone is better off that way.

It's always frustrating when a band you like is opening for a band you either don't want to see, or worse, actively detest. I'm in a similar situation with the Fray/OK Go/Mae concert at Merriweather this summer. I really, really love Mae's album The Everglow and find that OK Go video really charming even though I've seen it more times than my mom has seen Terms of Endearment (I'm not going to link to the video. Really. You know it. Don't be lazy). But I'm so very sick of The Fray and their constant whining about How To Save A Life gunking up my morning radio, endless commercials and I swear, every single goddamn episode of Scrubs. We get, you're doctors. Who like gentle indie pop. And save lives. Connection established.

Jenny and I have discussed going to Bonnaroo, where the lineup looks fantastic and from which we'd be lucky to escape with only epic hangovers and a merciless case of BO. Four days of concerts? Camping? With my little sister? And fifty thousand rednecks and hippies? In an open field in Tennessee in July? That wouldn't be a music festival, it'd be Survivor: Pretentious Indie Snobs.

However, the lineup for Lollapalooza came out today-- and minus Ben Folds and Bloc Party, it's pretty much every band I want to see or have already seen and loved enough to see again. Plus it's in Chicago, where Jenny lives and more importantly, where I can stay for free. Now, to try to get off a day in August.

What concerts are you seeing this summer? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

an open letter to don imus

Dear Don Imus,

I had a friend growing up who absolutely refused to apologize for anything. If she hurt someone's feelings, which happened quite frequently as she was one of those teenage girls who confused "it's best to be honest" with "it's best to be a total fucking bitch" she would respond to a crumpled face or even tears with an "I'm sorry you feel that way." To this day, that phrase still makes me seethe. It's not an apology, it's a retort. It gets no one anywhere, designed to assert superiority on the part of the one who issues it while not ceding any territory that a real apology, one that was sincere and paired with a promise to be better, would include. She hurled half-baked non-apologies, saying the correct words while rolling her eyes. Like, geez, why do you have to be so sensitive? It's not my fault you can't handle how it is.

I've thought of her a lot this week watching you make the obligatory Tour of Shame and Regret that is so common these days. One week it's an actor with a big mouth who thinks that epithets about gay people are okay to use both at the workplace and at the Golden Globes or an actor who blames his anti-Semitism on his drinking problem, the next it's some college kid who writes a column suggesting that women actually like getting raped and it's the only way that "ugly" girls will ever have sex.

In all these cases, everyone involved has mixed their apologies with all sorts of qualifying statements, cheapening whatever nugget of genuine regret was present. How can you truly be sorry if you're trying to defend your actions? Being defensive is just asking for a lesser punishment. Time off for good, or at least not-malevolent intentions. You're not sorry for what you did. You don't think that what you said was bad. Just like them, you're sorry you got caught being a jerk. You're sorry you're paying for it now. Whole different ballgame.

You semi-apologist types make excuses are ranging from "it was satire" (no it wasn't, satire is ridiculing a subject with the goal of shaming it into reform, not being a sophomoric little prick who uses his college newspaper to make rape jokes) to trying to forget the whole thing ever happened (not a good idea when you then repeat the word in question at a press conference). But your response has got to be my favorite of the bunch.

Now, I don't watch or listen to your show and so my understanding of it has come entirely from reports after the incident in which you so charmingly referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." Way to strike a blow for freedom of the press there, Don. I'm sure that your right to name-call a group of hardworking black female athletes was truly what the founding fathers had in mind when they created the First Amendment.

But you know what? Fine. I don't care.

This may be somewhat shocking, as I am somewhat hard to pull off my soapbox, but I'm not feeling rowdy about this just because you made a bigoted remark. Hell, you've been doing that for years. You spent the 90s calling Gwen Ifill "a cleaning lady" and referred to a black sportswriter at the Times as "a quota hire." So classy. But no one watches or listens to you because they expect classiness, or well-reasoned, thought-provoking dialogue. You're around because of your entertainment value, because you get people's knickers in a twist. You're around for the same reason I read Ann Coulter columns online when I'm feeling lazy-- to light a fire under my ass. I may not agree with anything she or you or they say, but I respect your right to exist.

But you should know, you're playing this whole thing all wrong and practically guaranteeing it's not going away any time soon. For one thing, your remarks were clearly no isolated incident of verbal diarrhea or pathetic attempt at a joke. The guys above were undeniably stupid and small-minded, but at least were smart enough not to go on the record with how bad at life they are. You've got a rap sheet for dumb moves, Don, and three strikes, you're out.

It's really hilarious to see you frantically thumbing through the Tour of Shame and Regret Playbook, looking for anything but anything that will get you out of this mess. To you, it's not about apologizing or regret, it's about making the situation go away as quickly as possible. But there have been enough of these incidents in recent memory that you should know that trying to explain it away will only get you in a bigger mess.

Let's examine some of your moves so far, shall we?

Deny and call everyone else pussies: Don, you can still get away with doing that when you make offensive remarks about women in general (an infantilizing line of reasoning that makes me steam, but that's another soapbox). I'll break this down for you, though it will undoubtedly get me into some trouble: you can't do that with African-Americans, Jews, sexual assault victims or, increasingly, gays and lesbians. Any time that a people have been actively persecuted or discriminated against in recent memory, it gets exponentially harder to blame your bigoted comments on public sensitivity. There is probably a mathematical formula to this. Someone should figure it out so crotch rot like you has a barometer for trash-talking.

The "it's a joke gone wrong" defense: 1) Jokes are supposed to be funny. 2) You are not funny. 3) White men don't get to make jokes about private citizens who are black women on nationally syndicated radio shows. You go ahead and stew about the injustice of that in your Westport, Connecticut mansion.

Go on Al Sharpton's radio show and use the phrase "you people" in reference to the black community: I have not the words. It is 2007. You don't DO that. If you don't get this, I can't help you.

On the same radio show, make bizarre claims about your funding for sickle cell anemia and the fact that ten percent of campers at your ranch are black: How is this not the old "I have black friends so I can't be a racist" argument?

In a hilariously misguided effort to dig yourself out of an ever-deepening hole, suggest "we ought to have a black person on the show every single day to add some perspective:" Well, sure, why not? After all, all black people speak with one voice and as A Black Person, never as individuals with their own opinions and qualifications and experiences. Every black person is just A Black Person. FLAWLESS plan, Don.

And now you want to meet with the Rutgers women's basketball team: Don, please, please, PLEASE take a lesson from Isaiah Washington and do not say something like "I'm sorry I called you nappy-headed hos. You're not nappy-headed. Or hos. You have heads, but they are not nappy. Some of you may have sex but you're not hos. Nappy. Hos. Heads. Nappy nappy nappy hos nappy heads. BLACK!"

You should have apologized. You should have been a man and not tried to weasel your way out of a situation you created. You should have said right away "I am so sorry. I said a stupid, terrible thing. I don't know why I said it. There is no excuse, no reason that would qualify or justify my behavior." Then you should have gone off the air for the rest of the day, met privately with the Rutgers women's team and told them the same thing away from the microphones and cameras. Then, instead of being in danger of losing your job, people would be saying things like "Look, that grizzled old man has a soft spot after all. He's trying to change. I respect that." People would feel tenderness for you and forget about their contempt for what you said.

Okay, so after all of this: I think you should be fired.

I think you should be fired not because you said something stupid and racist, but because you don't get it. You're out there running around hollering about how you're a good person, but you don't get that this whole fuss isn't about whether you're a good person. You may be sweetness and sunshine and puppy dogs and Katie Couric before she left the Today Show, but what you are NOT is a good radio host. Whether you're a good person is irrelevant. Your job is to say things on the radio and you're really, really bad at it! You make stupid comments that offer no entertainment or educational value and even though there have been a MILLION examples of how NOT to conduct The Tour of Shame and Regret, you screw up at every turn! You're an embarrassment, Don. No one cares if you're a racist deep down inside, they just care about whether or not you express your racism ON THE AIR. YOU WORK IN THE MEDIA-ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX, DON. If you have not by now grasped that it is all about appearances, then you really have no business keeping your job longer than it takes CBS to chuck you and your cowboy hat on the street.

With all good intentions, because if you don't mean it to be cruel then you can say whatever the hell you want and screw anyone who can't deal with it,


Sunday, April 08, 2007

this our hymn of grateful praise

This year was Year Seven of doing Greek Easter in the Burbs. Catholics say that seven years old is the age of reason, the age of distinguishing right from wrong and at which a person is held responsible for his or her actions. Well, this WASP has determined that her action will forever be to pursue wine and lamb and spanikopita over ham and frighteningly enormous Easter bunnies any old day. Luckily, the little girls in floaty dresses and frilly socks were all in hiding this year, all religions equally doomed by the unfortunate cold snap.

Greek Easter in the Burbs has been going on at my dear, dear friend Christina's house ever since freshman year of college and it serves as somewhat of a milestone in my mind. I still remember after our first year when I wrote an overly flowery thank-you note to her parents, who upon receiving it called Christina to make sure "Honey, your friend EJ? Is she okay?" And I had to explain to them how cool it was to me that after growing up in a college town, where my parents adopted students who worked for my mother and had them over for home-cooked meals and how as a kid I always looked up to these impossibly cool grown-up kids, that now, I got to BE one of those cool college kids who gets to go to a holiday meal at someone else's house! So yes, I'm fine, but thank you for asking. It's always a marvelous time with huge amounts of wine and food and affectionate conversations with her parents and her Nana, a wonderfully classy lady who is the kind of dame I hope to be in my twilight years.

I admit, I felt a little guilty when I woke up at 11:30 this morning and knew I'd missed church. If there is any time that a lapsed Christian like me should go to church it's Easter, with the brass orchestras and gentle sermons tailored to the inevitably large crowds. I like the religious part of Easter but the aftermath creeps me out a bit. We never did Easter very big in my family and I detest both ham and anthropomorphic rodents. The Greeks do an Easter I can get behind-- a highly esoteric and tradition-bound ceremony followed by getting drunk with close family and friends. And the hitting of the eggs, of course. Everyone takes a red-dyed egg and smacks them end to end with a neighbor, and the last person with an un-cracked egg gets good luck for a year. Kat won this year, and since she's getting married in five weeks it could not have gone to a better person.

There is a part of me that knows that Easter is about the resurrection of Christ and that part of me just aches that it cannot enthusiastically embrace the idea of a miracle. But old friends and moussaka and good wishes for the year ahead? Everyday or holy day, sign me up.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

a room without books is like a body without a soul - cicero

Half of my clothes are still packed and my den is exploding with old 2000 campaign t-shirts and notebooks from college. My TV is sitting on the floor and the washer is officially dead, soon to be carted away by the good people of Sears Silver Spring.

But I am completely and totally at home because my bookshelves are built and my books are unpacked.

You may have thought I was joking about the seventeen boxes of books. I wasn't. This is maybe a third of them:

It's a little ridiculous, I know. But it can't be helped. These books are like old friends, and displayed on these shelves with photos and totchkes, they're practically telling my autobiography. There's the script of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that was a present from Tim, the scruffily cute guy I worked with at an independent bookstore the summer before college. My father's copy of Atlas Shrugged that he gave me for my 21st birthday. The ratty paperback Vanity Fair I read on trains through Italy and Austria.

The four Wallace Stegner books that Jim at Capitol Hill Books disgustedly shoved into my arms when I confessed to him, red-faced, that I'd never read any Stegner. The dog-eared copy of High Fidelity I keep prominently displayed as a reminder that I need to be done with dating men who say things like "How can you like Art Garfunkel and Solomon Burke? It's like saying you support the Israelis and the Palestinians!" All six Harry Potters and the collected works of both David Sedaris and David Ives.

Some people think books are nothing more than the sum of their parts-- paper, glue, ink-- and some people think that they are mere conduits for the stories they contain. I fall somewhere in the middle because to me a tangible book is inextricably linked with my memory of acquiring it and/or reading it. It's not that I don't love the stories being told, mostly because I'm ruthless both with what I read and what I keep in my home, but it's more than that. I love being able to get lost in nostalgia just by looking at my bookshelf, swept away in recollections of where I was and what I was doing when I first encountered that story.

Loving reading and loving books are two linked but very distinct traits. If I were a true literary snob I would hide my guilty pleasure literature behind copies of The Republic and the Herodotus and Thucydides that was the bane of my undergrad historiography seminar but which makes me look all super-academic and erudite, like a person who tosses out bon mots like sneezes and can tell a fifty dollar bottle of wine from a two hundred dollar bottle of wine. I am not that person. I am a person with two copies of Bridget Jones' Diary (both presents from girlfriends, so it's not like I could give one away!) and the tattered trade paperback edition of Circle of Friends that I picked up in Dublin and read in one afternoon lolling on St. Stephen's Green, nursing a vicious St. Patricks' Day hangover.

A space always feels temporary, even a little strange and scary, until I have my books unpacked and displayed. I can unpack my clothes and fill the kitchen cabinets and hang pictures but it's not until I can look up and let my eyes wander along the cracked spines and the pristine jackets alike that I know I am at home.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

the joys and woes of second wave gentrifiers

I have some earth-shatteringly shocking news that is going to TOTALLY ROCK YOUR SOCKS.

Moving. Blows.

And frankly, because my washing machine started leaking all over my hardwood floors TWO HOURS AFTER I MOVED IN, I am not very big on homeownership right now.

I am, however, very, very big on the following things:

- The huge flat screen TV I got off Craigslist for fifty bucks, and the good people at the CW who someone knew at 11:00 last night that I badly needed to have Wet Hot American Summer playing in the background while I bailed out the washing machine with a tupperware container.

- The fact that two other people on my floor also have cats and that apparently this is a "no pets building" the same way that Ryan Seacrest is a symbol of heterosexual virility.

- Friends who help with moving when there is absolutely nothing in it for them save the joy of keeping me sane.

- The enormous bucket of Cluck U chicken and biscuits currently sitting on my kitchen counter between two boxes, one marked "Booze" and the other marked "Non-tacky Picture Frames."