Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Going to work this morning, I had a seven-song iPod-on-Shuffle-mode streak that was so wonderful, so perfectly, serendipitously organized that it must be documented. Future generations of twentysomethings will study it in Hipster 101 as the ideal iPod Shuffle Songs Run. It's been over four hours now and I'm still grinning at its awesomeness.

Song #1: "Don't Feel Like Dancing," Scissor Sisters
Is there a better song to hear first thing in the morning, especially if you hate mornings in general and particularly this one because you were up all night reading declassified NSA memos as pertain to CIA involvement 1953 Iran coup? I'm incapable of listening to this song without wanting to strut and shake my ass, preferably both at the same time. Why the Scissor Sisters didn't blow up in the U.S. when this song came out, yet the Pussycat Dolls inexplicably continue to sell albums, is something I will never understand.

This song was also a great omen, as I was waiting to hear back about a Craigslist ticket for Sunday's sold-out show at 9:30 Club. When I got to work today I was greeted with an email saying that not only was the ticket mine, but I would be buying it at purchase price. Since tickets were going for a lot more than that, I can only conclude that whatever Divine Power has been watching out for me lately heard me humming along under my breath as I dance-walked down East Capitol and decided a reward was in order.

Song #2: "Delirious Love," Neil Diamond
I've been listening to this song obsessively lately, ever since seeing it in an episode of Scrubs. Its got everything a good pop song needs: a catchy tune with a bouncy run of notes, strummy guitar sliding and excellent lyrics that everyone can identify with:

"Neither one of us stopping to figure out
What the roll and the rockin' was all about
All we knew was that we couldn't get enough
You and me in the heat of delirious love"

Neil effing Diamond. God love him.

Song #3: "I Believe," Spring Awakening soundtrack

I wrote about this show when I first saw it in December, and can't possible say enough good things about the production and this album. Simplistically, it's a coming of age story set in 1891 Germany mixed with a rock concert. The songs, most of which could easily pass for stand-alone rock songs, serve as comment on the script and the action, very different from traditional musical theater where the songs advance the plot. One could easily imagine artists from Joni Mitchell to Fountains of Wayne performing individual songs in their own right. This song, which closes Act One and is performed as the two teenage leads lose their virginity, is my favorite moment in the show-- stylized and abstract but achingly beautiful and honest, framed by this beautiful gospel-inflected number.

And two "first-time" songs right in a row? What are the odds?

Song# 4: "Chips Ahoy" The Hold Steady
I defy anyone to listen to this song and not be singing along "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!" by the end. It can't be done. I love this album and am beyond disappointed that I can't go to Bonnaroo to see them in action. Don't get me started on how dumb I was to turn down a free ticket to their show at Black Cat last November just because it was Thanksgiving and I was five states away. Wuss.

Song #5: "One Mint Julep," Ray Charles
If you've ever wondered "what does jazz organ sound like?" this song will provide the answer. And the answer is "spectacular."

In the aftermath of the Great iPod Meltdown of 2006, I ripped about 4,000 songs from my sister's iPod. She has... interesting taste in music. I'll give her credit for getting me into Rubyhorse and DeVotchKa, but I had to delete a lot of obscure showtunes and "comedy" from her library (my hatred of Dane Cook really deserves another post). I'm still discovering songs I've never heard even though they've been on my iPod for months. This cover from his greatest hits album was one of them, and it will be making more regular appearances-- it's very bossa nova and Quincy Jones-esque, perfect for having Alan Ginsberg over for some fondue in your shag-carpeted conversation pit. Love it.

Song #6: "Life is a Song," Patrick Park
Or as it will forever be known, "That Song from the Last Episode of The O.C." I haven't watched since the lesbian story arc, but thanks to this site I've been able to keep up with the music. I am completely that girl who hears a song on Grey's Anatomy and instantly tries to track it down and that site has dramatically trimmed my Googling, leaving time for important things like feeding my seventeen cats or cross-stitching affirmations on pillows.

Cliched associations aside, this is a good song. With simple acoustic guitar and a focus on the lyrics, it perfectly captures that slightly melancholy optimism that is adulthood. Accepting inevitabilities can be freeing, and this song reflects that simple message with quiet grace.

By now I was on the Metro barreling towards work and was crossing my fingers that the streak would continue. I rarely make it for even six consecutive songs, usually skipping past something I like but am not in the mood for or am really embarrassed I like and don't want anyone to hear me listening to (cough!soundtracktoBatBoy:TheMusical*cough!*) . Would the seventh song, the one I would listed to as I got off the Metro and walked into my office, thereby setting the tone for the rest of the day, be as good as the ones that preceded it?

Um. Yes.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

seventy-two hours

Things about the last three days that have been deeply awesome:

- Al Gore, Al Gore, Al Gore. I have adored him ever since I volunteered for his campaign my freshman year of college and if by some miracle he were to run again, I would quit my job and sell my condo and hand out leaflets on a street corner for him. And I hate people who hand out leaflets on corners. Watching him be the King of the Oscars last night was tremendously enjoyable and validating. I love everything about him. This deserves its own post. That post will be coming soon.

- Accidentally throwing back too many beers at happy hour on Friday with S and her friends, getting to exactly the stage of tipsiness that makes people feel not at all guilty about blowing sixty dollars on oysters and boulliabasse.

- Emma's potluck on Saturday (I made Thai veggie stir-fry) and hosting my own dinner party on Sunday (with gruyere chicken gratin, asparagus and dark chocolate fondue).

- Waking up at noon on Sunday to six inches of perfect fluffy snow and taking a break from shoveling to have a snowball fight with the kids cleaning the sidewalk across the street. Because throwing things at innocent children is totally what God intended with the whole "day of rest" thing.

- Ragging on the Oscar red carpet. Remember the episode of 90210 where Donna Martin dressed up as a mermaid for Halloween at the college party (also where Kelly Taylor taught us that if you wear black lace and a tight-lipped smile to a frat party then you are totally asking to get assaulted; wow, that show really advanced the feminist movement)? And remember how Donna hobbled around the entire time and couldn't really move because she was swathed into an insanely bejeweled and unflattering glittery number and her big ol' wig was just plopped on her head and kept flopping in the way? Well, Beyonce was the Armani version of that outfit at the Oscars last night.

I look at her and think HIPS. HIIIIIIIIPS. I'm fairly sure that's not what she was going for. But I'm so glad she did it, because nothing is more fun than wearing my glasses and ratty old jeans from high school, getting tipsy with a bunch of girlfriends and yelling rude things about highly groomed celebrities at the television. Oh, and snorting chardonnay through my nose when Ryan Seacrest said "there's a lot of Wang on the red carpet tonight!" It's class all the way at EJ's place.

Things about the last three days that are not so awesome:

- Putting on work pants this morning and being absolutely horrified at what seventy-two hours of eating like it was my last meal before execution has done to my own midsection.

- The continued presence of web sidebar ads for Open Water 2. If the DVD came out four days ago, why exactly is it still being splashed all over every trashy entertainment website I read? While I generally love anything having to do with Center Stage, including but not limited to pronouncing it "the BAH-lay," the Jamiroquai-heavy soundtrack and Peter Gallagher's eyebrows, there is something really creepy wound around Susan May Pratt's neck in that ad and I really don't want to constantly see her open-mouthed expression of utter terror on top of the squid's tentacle or whatever that thing is.

- So my new building has a no-pet policy. I have a pet. I have a little baby girl kitty who I adopted from an animal rescue group. Giving up Sadie is not an option, but neither can I give up my apartment for her. This is actually something fairly serious to me, certainly more so than unpleasant popup ads, and though there's no way Sadie is not making the move with me I'm nervous about the execution of sneaking her into my new home. Yes, I've been known to do things like quit my "dream" job and go be a homeless bum in Prague, but I'm a pretty rule-abiding person. Even though it appears to be a toothless policy-- it's not a co-op, so they can't kick me out-- starting my residency there by breaking said policy is hardly ideal.

- I'm really pretty sure that Helen Mirren is having better sex than me.

Friday, February 23, 2007

crushing hopes

I can barely remember the last time I had a really good crush.

In the last year I've dabbled in dating, sex, lust, drama, romantic indifference, affection and love but can't recall a single genuine crush in the fray. There hasn't been an exciting stomach-flippy, giggle-inducing man in my life, however peripherally, in a sadly long time.

I came to this realization, in true tragic single girl form, watching TV last night and realizing that no one, but no one I have encountered in the last year has a grin that makes my knees buckle like John Krasinski or Jeffrey Dean Morgan can. Has the world-- and by "the world," I do mean the "quantity of crushable men in the greater District area"-- really decayed so much that I am more turned on by television than by a breathing, flesh and blood male?

The last crush I remember having was in the fall of 2005. He was a friend of a friend who introduced himself by asking who I lost my virginity to. He had one of those grins that tells you right away that he loves trouble, that this will be a battle of wills and that he gets off on being adversarial. It was all very Taming of the Shrew, with Thomas Pink instead of breeches. Running into him at bars, Nats games and parties in the months that followed felt exactly what a good crush should feel like-- all tingly and teasing, banter that practically crackled with electricity and rushing back to clusters of girlfriends to breathlessly report on the nonconversation. Never wondering if he'd hurt me or I'd get bored with him or if he'd get along with my friends, just enjoying flirting with the cute boy.

My high school philosophy teacher once told me "the kiss is always best just before it happens." Meaning that, the anticipation of something, the moment when you're on the brink of inevitable, is really the thing that makes it great. The actual event, however good, is always a slight letdown from whatever you had elevated it to in your mind.

Now, I rarely embrace my inner girly-girl. You will find very few books with covers featuring scrawly drawing of heels or shopping bags on my shelves. Pink makes me look bloated. I am the only girl I know who doesn't find Justin Timberlake particularly sexy (falsetto voices creep me out, okay? A man should not speak in a higher pitch than I do!). I generally think of myself as a woman, not a girl.

But this woman is due for some giggling and silliness and sexual brinkmanship. For some harcore flirting with a cute stranger accompanied by stupid after-the-fact grinning, the kind where my girlfriends say things like "you can't stop smiling!" And if a Jeffrey Dean Morgan lookalike would like to play the role of "Object of Crush," well, then, that'd just be the buttercream icing on the cupcake.

The crush: so hot for Spring 2007.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

nesting with a twist

Now that the contract is signed, the financial matters are all squigged away and I've set a date for closing, I can get on the real fun of finally being a homeowner:


I'm a nester, and the way my home looks and feels is incredibly important to me. However, I'm not a terribly patient person and my interior design ethos thus far has been "OOH! Shiny! Colorful! Me want!" I'm also unable to commit to a color palate and as a result, my bedspread, runner carpet, dishes and soap dispenser all have a similar bright multi-stripe pattern that looks great but admittedly there is a lot going on. Looking at a rug probably shouldn't be that exhausting.

Since deciding to buy I've been allowing myself to peruse Craigslist for the items I know I'll definitely need (futon, bigger TV) and will probably wind up getting (new dressers and bookcases). Luckily my seller has great taste in paint colors and except for the burnt-sienna kitchen (which is either going to become pale lime or soft yellow, I haven't decided) I won't need to change much of what she's already done.

A brief post-college stint working at Restoration Hardware left me wary of having an expensive, blandly tasteful home that looks like something out of a catalog (it also left me with the sad realization that with the many problems facing the world today, residents of Georgetown still manage to invest a shocking amount of emotion in their drawer knobs). On the other hand, while I really love and admire Amy Sedaris, I can't see myself living in a home decorated with reconstituted pantyhose plant hangers. There must be a balance, something that says "I am an individual with a lovely home" as opposed to "Either remove your shoes before stepping in here or never return" and "Mind the chair made of discarded dryer lint! Aren't I just the kookiest?"

I really want to make this a home, something comfortable and tasteful that will inspire me to behave as if I am worthy of my surroundings. A place to have people over for gimlets and coq au vin and old movies as well as a place to moan on a futon while watching hangover television.

Or at least that was what I wanted, until I found this poster:

I think I now want a home that inspires people to say things like: "The flesh tones bring to mind the top shelf liqueurs of a border bistro." This poster is going to be the centerpiece of my new, adult den.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

x equals kicking some ass

The GRE? She is my bitch.

It's peculiar. I've done a lot to be proud of (and a not-small amount to be ashamed of) in my adult life, but the most satisfying moment of my entire weekend was sitting at that computer wearing dopey noise-blocker headphones, swaddled in my grotty Universiteit van Amsterdam sweatshirt and realizing that I STILL KNEW THE QUADRATIC FORMULA AND WAS CAPABLE OF SOLVING FOR X IN MULTIPLE STATES. I was really ridiculously proud of this, maybe a bit more so than of buying a condo. Hell, anyone can email a realtor and a lender, but can everyone out there multiply radical fractions? Shit no, soldier.

Math and I have always had a nasty relationship. Knowing from an early age that I would never work in a field that would require me to know what a factorial is or to care about the density of anything except a stupid colleague, I would cheerfully have ignored math for all of my days. Except, math, in the form of mandatory graduation requirements from the state of Michigan, sensed my disinterest and set out to destroy me via its most powerful weapon: impact on my high school GPA. Alphabetically listed, my record is a series of unblemished As - English, Drama, History-- until we get to "Math," which, bored with the distinguished company it keeps, skips straight on down to C territory. No sense wallowing in the B range when we can infect more insidiously, right?

So after math destroyed my chances of getting into a great college, it almost took away college for me, period. It was second semester, senior year, and I'd been accepted to my first-choice college for four months. I'd officially stopped caring about anything related to school, my hometown, pretty much my entire life up to that point and was now living entirely in my head. Trig class, in particular, was spent staring out the window mentally decorating my dorm room and fantasizing about striding down the marble halls of the Capitol, stiletto heels clacking as I breezed through the history-laden halls on my way to a Very Important Meeting where my opinion would Matter.

Since trigonometry is founded on the principles of triangles and not superiority complexes, it shouldn't have been a shock when I found out I was failing. But of course it was. Seeing an actual "E" (we didn't use F; some bullshit about how it's bad for self-esteem or whatever) on my midsemester report snapped me back into reality. Well, what really did it was my mother filling my head with horror stories of students whose college admission she'd personally revoked based on their senior grades. It was a brilliant strategy on her part. She never actually had to finish the story, saying "... and after I revoked his admission he went to community college, dropped out the first semester and now works at the car wash on Stadium and Hill." The merest hint that I wouldn't be able to leave my hometown come August was enough to make me pay a tutor out of pocket to teach me everything I needed to know about sines and cosines to finish the year.

As in all relationships cemented under fear and threat of physical duress, math and I have warily circled one another ever since then. I bust it out pretty much only when I have to calculate a tip, and in turn, it's been generous enough to leave me pretty well alone. I managed to graduate from college never having taken Calculus, a loophole in the graduation requirements that is probably the main reason I still give money to my alma mater. I even managed to avoid math as I prepared for the postgrad world, choosing to take the LSAT and instead spend months practicing logic problems (which, in a Stockholm syndrome kind of way, I found myself really liking by the time I took the damn test).

But then I decided law school was not for me and that I would get my master's in an arcane social science instead. Wait, you mean there's a MATH section on the GRE? I am DONE with that shit! I shoveled out that brain space long ago to make room for Herodotus and Thucydides!

The last several months have been full of probably not enough GRE studying. There was lots of sitting with Kaplan and Princeton Review GRE books in my lap, vacantly watching Instant Star or reruns of Scrubs but the actual studying, the kind that involves taking practice tests and writing out vocabulary words and algebraic formulas, didn't really begin until I went to Michigan to take care of my Dad. Like, um, a month ago. I work well under pressure, what can I say?

Apparently, I work best under the kind of pressure that leaves the scholar curled in the fetal position mumbling "IcantdothisIcantdothis," because when my score popped on the screen on Saturday it took every ounce of self-control in my exhausted body not to go "EEEEEEEEP." Because not only did I score much higher than I needed to get into my program, my math score was forty points higher than my verbal.

I'm pretty sure that this means we should all be preparing for the apocalypse, and I highly encourage you to get your affairs in order, tell your loved ones that you love them and start praying to whatever God you worship. Because the day that I do anything math-related better than anything involving big words and being a windbag is truly a sign that we are living in the End Times.

Friday, February 16, 2007

bad employee

It all really hit me last night walking home from B's after greasy Chinese from Tony's and a half bottle of crappy champagne. I didn't have time for any of those things, for conversation or dumplings or Cook's. In the last five days I've bought a condo, crammed for the GREs, given up my apartment, written a paper proposal and liquidated resources that have been in my family for six decades. It was all going smoothly, but the speed was overwhelming and felt out of my control. As I picked my way through the frozen slush, trying not to slip on the black ice, I couldn't focus on the task of walking home without falling because there was so much crowding my brain.

I got home and looked around at my apartment, crammed full of books and bakeware and scarves and realized I was leaving this home I've been in for two years. That I had twenty-nine days to keep living my normal life and somehow pick it up and move it two miles west. And I fell apart.

Panic attacks are awful. Your heart starts to race and your vision blurs so that even as you bend your head down to gasp for breath you dart your eyes up, trying to get a lock on something right in front of you that seems to be zooming away. I knelt down in my entry way, my dirty pants hems soaking my butt as my shoulders heaved, shout-whispering "IcantdothisicantdothisicantdothisICANTDOTHIS."

I eventually got it together enough to stand up and lock the door behind me, then began pacing my apartment. It was like the photos on my fridge and the furniture and even Sadie were there in a conspiracy to make things impossible. Everything around me was spiraling away and closing in at the same time. I started pacing back and forth, erratically sitting down Indian-style and beginning to put things in piles. Start packing! I won't these tank tops before I move! Wait, I haven't worn these tank tops in six years! Why do I still own them? What kind of person doesn't give her unworn clothes to charity? Wait, don't start packing now, you idiot! I should study for the GRE! I completely screwed up the geometry section of the last test I took! FUUUUUUUCK I'm going to bomb the GRE and not be able to get into my program and then what the hell did I buy a place for because it traps me in DC and I'm wasting all this money and FUUUUUUUCK.

Repeat until 4 AM.

I always feel terribly when I call in sick to work for mental health days. I do it maybe twice a year, which is twice more than a good employee probably should. But I had to do it today. I woke up at 6:30 after a long night of freaking out, and I was a damn wreck. Puffy, red-rimmed eyes anchored by circles so dark it looked like I'd been punched. I was utterly, bone-achingly exhausted. Shockingly, a fourth consecutive night with less than four hours of sleep had not exactly left me anywhere close to satisfied. I was still shaky and nowhere closer to tackling any of the things that made me freak out the night before. They were all still there AND the GRE was now two days away.

I emailed my boss, went back to sleep and woke up feeling even worse. Now I'd managed to fail at the one thing that was entirely in my control-- being a good employee. I put myself ahead of the good of my group, and no matter how much I rationalize it, that I needed this day, that I needed to get my shit together because there would be no way to tackle both my many Friday work meetings or the test on Saturday feeling the way I was feeling, I didn't feel right about it. Once I had enough clarity to see beyond my own needs, I saw how selfish it was to take a day for myself at a critical time. Mostly, I just really, really hated letting my boss down, and hated myself for doing it.

I'm feeling better now, now that I've managed to get some sleep, relearn the Pythagorean Theorem and best of all, heard from my agent that the seller now wants to close two weeks later than we originally planned. This further convinces me that there is a benevolent God watching over this entire "buying a condo" thing, and I just fervently hope He continues His good works through moving day.

But my guilt at being a bad employee is still very much around, exacerbated by the guilt I feel at feeling guilty for taking care of myself. This, to any male readers out there, is why women worry about wrinkles so much. Because of specimens like me who elevate neurotic to its purest, most distilled form: Insanity.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

pretty much the most awesome birthday present ever

I just bought a condo.


This is the part where I freak the fuck out.

But EJ, you ask, where exactly is this coming from? Don't you have a really cute, reasonably-priced apartment in DC in a neighborhood you adore that is close to a lot of your friends.

Well. If you want to get all technical about it, yes.

But this has been brewing for a while. I have my reasons, a lot of which relate to my personal finances, which, um, we really don't need to discuss on a website where I also talk about instances in which I've been semi-naked in public or discussed my really passionate feelings issues on things like feminism and leggings. But trust me, the reasons are there and this is a great investment for me and plus, this condo is so excellent, I feel as though I have finally tasted the ambrosial nectar of true love. And oh, it is sweet.

This condo was the third I'd seen since beginning my search on Saturday. Yes, you read that right. Last Saturday. My birthday. I actually rescheduled the initial showing of the condo because I was so epically hungover from my party that I had to IM a friend begging her to order me pizza because I'd lost my cell phone at the Black Cat and the thought of leaving my apartment (much less my couch) to get food was too horrifying to think about. And yes, thank you, a bank did approve me for a mortgage. Luckily my credit score does not reflect my rate of consumption for Stella and Wild Turkey, or I'd be living in a box by the Metro.

Thank God I got the pizza, slept it off and eventually made it to see this condo last night. People, it's a dream. I walked in and fell smack head over heels in love. The hardwood floors, the poky warm kitchen, the in-unit laundry (never again will I lose pillowcases on a sidewalk), the DEN next door to the bedroom... the real estate agent almost had to scrape me off the floor when I saw the DEN.

But I was nervous. It was the third place I'd seen and it was the third day of my search. The moment you dip a toe into the murky, eel-infested waters of DC real estate, you start to hear scores of horror stories from buyers who have looked for months, had to readjust their expectations and lower their hopes, found a place and got into a vicious bidding war only to be outbid and have to eventually settle on an Anacostia rat-infested basement with "growth potential" that costs as much as a four-bedroom colonial in Leesburg. And here, right away, was a place with all of my essentials, almost all of my preferences and the asking price was significantly UNDER my spending cap. IT COULD NOT BE THIS EASY.

And of course it wasn't. My heart, which by this point had leapt so high it was hovering around my tonsils, plummented to my toes when the agent told me the place already had an offer. On my apartment? Someone else put an offer on MY apartment? It's only been on the market for eleven days! I'm the only person insane enough to want to put an offer on a place so soon! And it's MY CONDO. IT'S CALLING TO ME.

The next twenty-four hours saw a blur of frantic faxes, emails, calls and one very snowy visit to a real estate office in Maryland. My luck continued when my boss, already pretty much one of my favorite people, kindly looked the other way as I did practically nothing job-related all day today. Most bosses would berate me for being gone from the office for almost three hours on a personal matter; she gave me the recipe for the Linzer torte she baked for my birthday and loaned me her springform pan so that I could make one myself. Seriously, I am the luckiest bitch around these parts.

After biting my nails down to the painful quick and taking yet another practice GRE Quantitative section (yes, I'm also taking the GRE on Saturday. Have I mentioned I'm insane?) I went home to wait for my agent to call. She'd been very optimistic that we would be attractive to the seller and that, if necessary, we'd win in a bidding war. I was convinced that the bidding war would escalate into armed conflict and that some unknown bidder would break my heart and maybe somehow manage to destroy my credit in the process.

That didn't happen. They accepted my offer of the asking price. We close in thirty days. I'm going to be a homeowner.

Sweet bejesus shitfuck.

In all seriousness, I have huge, immense thanks to give to the incomparable Velvet. Most of you already know how much this girl rocks, but did you know that she took time out of her Saturday to walk me through the scarily intimidating process of buying DC real estate, just because I bought her a cup of coffee. She made this whole crazy idea of buying a condo seem feasible and valid and I'm so very thankful that she was willing to answer all of my questions, big and small.

Now, who has some bubble wrap I can borrow?

Monday, February 12, 2007

you say it's your fugday

I arrived in Virginia at 10:00 on a Saturday morning, an hour much better suited for sleeping, watching reruns of Felicity on WE! Women's Entertainment, or sleeping. Did I mention the sleeping? Because I missed the sleeping. But I had a transaction to conduct, and it was not the sort of transaction that one wants people to witness. Hence the early hour and the disguise.

Hidden behind giant sunglasses, hair stuffed under a ratty newsboy cap, I parked my car in the nearly empty lot and slithered into the building. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew who would help me get it, but I really hoped that I could avoid asking for help. I was on the kind of clandestine mission that is best conducted solo.

Poking around for a few minutes, I quickly realized I was out of my league. It was the Three Bears version of shame shopping; this one too thick, that one too small, these ones oddly shaped. I was lost, and I had to ask for the way back.

"Excuse me," I murmered until my breath at the woman beside me, "are these all the leggings Nordstrom's carries?"


Of course, the saleswoman failed to take stock of my shamed tone and started booming at me in a voice more situated to selling cattle than selling hoisery. "WEEEELLL,' she hollered "we got these short ones here, what do you call those?"


"Riiight, we got those cap-ris here, and then we got these BIG THICK ones that are really more like wool tights because they got feet on them and-- hey, Sheila, does BPS carry leggings upstairs, or maybe Juniors has 'em?"

Oh, yes, let's involve more people! Let's involve every floor in the store! What about the haberdasher, might he carry a pair?!

"Um, actually, I think I'm fine with these capri tights to wear under my dress tonight, so I really don't think I need leggings after all. But thanks for your help."

"Honey, hold on, we got someone on the phone from upstairs! Sheila--"

"Sheila"-- more like "Beelzebub"-- hollered from behind the desk: "They got some capri leggings upstairs but all they got is extra small and small, so I don't know if that'll work for you."

Awesome. Thanks for that, friend.

Fearful of any further humiliations at the hands of clueless salesgirls, I threw my credit card at the counter and scribbled a signature on the receipt, so excited to get out of there that I didn't even notice that I spent eighteen dollars on something that later that night, I would snag on a broken beer bottle. They weren't technically leggings, after all, and I could leave with dignity somewhat intact.

I'll admit it, I've come to love the look of capri tights with short dresses. It's flattering, sassy, and if you have the right balance of shoes, dress and tights it can be pretty adorable. I looked great at my birthday and was actually comfortable (these shoes are amazing: I've never worn shoes that are both this cute and so wonderfully not painful. Buy them immediately).

I can't explain why then I'm so vehemently opposed to leggings, and why I felt such shame at even saying the word out loud. It's a negligible difference at best, and yet it's the difference between my ratty sweatpants and a Juicy Couture tracksuit. Between a tasteful, quiet Coach bag and a Louis Vuitton logo-ed tote that screams "I SPENT LOTS OF MONEY ON THIS BAG. THIS BAG WAS EXPENSIVE." Tights say "I could totally wear these to my modern dance class" while leggings say "I spent forty bucks on something that makes my ass look the hump of a beached whale."

All I know is, the day you see me in leggings is the day I encourage you to slap me upside the face with that same broken beer bottle and send me to fashion rehab. And no, capri tights are not the same thing as leggings. Says me, that's who.

Friday, February 09, 2007

of course, she isn't even legal yet

EJ: god, how much of a grownup am i?

EJ: i'll have to not get too drunk at my own birthday because i made an appointment with a real estate agent for the next morning

Jen: tee hee

Jen: I'm seeing a concert tonight

Jen: Margot & the Nuclear So&So's

EJ: i'm seeing alvin ailey at the kennedy center

EJ: and we're meeting for martinis first

Jen: god, you are OLD.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

your daughter is a whore and it's all paris hilton's fault

There are days when I turn on my computer, read headlines at Wonkette and the Washington Post and the New York Times and feel better about the state of humanity. Those days occur pretty rarely, though there was a significant glut of them around October and early November of 2006. Far more typical is the eye-rolling that devolves into sputtering gasping at the sheer stupidity and uselessness of what passes for much of contemporary journalism.

Given the state of the Iraq War, continuing tensions with North Korea, a massive political scandal in the administration of pretty much our only major ally, the continuing mess in what remains of New Orleans, naturally Newsweek would make this pressing issue its U.S. cover story:

"Are we raising a generation of what one L.A. mom calls 'prosti-tots,' young girls who dress like tarts, live for Dolce & Gabbana purses and can neither spell nor define such words as 'adequate?' Or does the rise of the bad girl signal something more profound, a coarsening of the culture and a devaluation of sex, love and lasting commitment?"

First of all, if you don't want your daughter to care about Dolce and Gabbana purses, you might consider not living in Los Angeles. Just a thought.

More pressingly, no, "the rise of the bad girl" does not signal something more profound. The piece goes on to say that teenage pregnancy rates are down by 35 percent since 1990 (according to the Center for Disease Control) and that adolescent drug use continues a decade-long decline. University enrollment is soaring, youth voter turnout in the 2006 election was the highest ever for a non-Presidential year and every major study shows that today's teenagers are choosing to be far more accepting when it comes to issues of race and sexual orientation than their parents ever were. Maybe some people think this is a bad idea. In my experience, these are people who pontificate one thing from their asses and then get caught doing something else with their asses entirely, something perhaps involving a male masseuse.

So there's tons of data discussing how even though Britney's cooter is hanging out for all the world to see, kids are managing to keep it together and not be led into a dangerous world of blowing rails off of hookers' asses while not doing their homework. Naturally, Newsweek mentioned this data in passing around Page 4, bookending it with anecdotal descriptions of seven-year-old girls who love Lindsay Lohan (and who will therefore do everything bad that she does) and Bad Girls of Yore, including society-destroying whores that are hugely relevant to Today's Youth like Gypsy Rose Lee, Ingrid Bergman and-- I absolutely swear I am not making this up-- the corpse of a two-thousand year old German teenager who likely committed adultery.

Yeah, that sounds like something America should be worried about. German mummy sluts.

Here's where the eye-rolling at the stupidity (mummy sluts!) segues into the seething. The headline is "Girls Gone Wild: What Are Celebs Teaching Kids?" But not ONCE in the entire piece do the authors express any concern for the virtue of America's sons. Presumably, being equipped with penises, they are also more equipped to think for themselves and are not as susceptible to the naughty lessons being taught by today's celebrities. It is our daughters who are in danger from these bad examples, our daughters who are unable to separate a song from the person who sings it and the clothes she wears, our daughters whose futures are being toyed with as they take that first step (watching the remake of Freaky Friday) towards the inevitable conclusion (passing out in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont wearing nothing but smeared eyeliner and the dual stenches of vodka and regret).

Many conservative thinkers view our sex-drenched culture as dangerous; liberals are more prone to wave off fears about the chastity of our daughters as reactionary.

Seriously? "The chastity of our daughters?" How is it possible that such antiquated, sexist language was ever allowed into a publication that fancies itself to contain "news" and "facts?" I guess I must be one of those "liberals" because I think it's disrespectful to talk about young women as if they had to be protected from the world, the better to preserve their virtue and retain their dowry.

I will grant you this: there is a crassness to a lot of pop culture that as an adult I love but that if I were a parent, I would find troubling. Oh, and also in Blindingly Obvious Truths, the sun rose this morning and it's cold out.

But where, exactly, are the guys here? Why is it that Paris Hilton is a lightning rod for everything that is wrong with America but walking genital wart Brandon Davis is never accused of leading young men astray? Why is Lindsay Lohan a slut, but no one raised an eyebrow when Matt Leinart knocked up a fellow college student in between tackling La Hilton and Alyssa Milano (oh, and dating Kristin Cavalleri when she was underage. But I'm sure all they did was talk and hold hands and drink malteds)?

It's not so much that male celebrities behaving badly never get called on it. They often do. Kevin Federline is a national joke, so much so that he's turning it into a full-time job (cheap shot alert: the first one he's ever had). But the difference is, his behavior and actions are his alone. There are no journalists wringing their hands wondering if his example will lead to a nation of boys pursuing careers as back-up dancers and babydaddies. No one is tracking the correlation between his fame and any rise in the sale of wifebeaters. This article doesn't have a single quote from a teacher, parent or media-savvy social researcher along the lines of "Diddy just had twins out of wedlock and is hanging out in clubs all night. What kind of lesson does that teach my son?"

It doesn't teach any lesson to your son, Hypothetical Person! Just like it doesn't teach any lesson to your daughter when yet another starlet forgets to wear underwear or has a sex tape "accidentally" leak out. Except for maybe, "wow, I should really never tape myself having sex. That is a bad, bad idea." Luckily, that is a lesson you could also teach them in other ways, ways not involving nightvision.

If you're doing your job as a parent, you're raising someone who doesn't take pop culture as gospel and can tell the difference between entertainment and role models. You're there to answer questions and lead by example. You teach them about consumer culture and provide a foundation that allows them to make educated choices about what they will consume. You give a daughter the same respect you'd give a son, and you'd certainly never let them read scare tactic articles like this that are just designed to fan the flames of the Mommy Wars or the Culture Wars or whatever stupid Wars we're in now.

Because for all the professed worry about young girls, this article is one of the most disrespectful, hysterical, anti-woman pieces of swill I've come across in the "mainstream" media. Really, shame on you, Newsweek. Talk about a lousy way to make a buck.

Monday, February 05, 2007

i gotta wear shades

I'm not sure exactly what happened this weekend, but something definitely shifted. Maybe it was hanging out with all sorts of awesome people and laughing my ass off in a mutual love-fest. Perhaps it was the Fifth Annual Potomac Bedlam Showdown, complete with yours truly catching a pass and running for five whole yards before getting clobbered. Maybe it was the fun of watching the Superbowl with friends old and new and getting to be happy for people who have so much love in their lives and excited that however tangentially, I get to share in it.

But this weekend I felt really light for the first time in a long time, getting things done, kicking ass and taking names and generally being a good person on top of her shit.

I didn't realize how much of a funk I've been in lately until Sunday's lunch with a friend I haven't seen for a while. We've both been mucking through the manure of life over the last few months, dealing with sick family members and complicated encounters with not-worth-it guys. As we were filling one another in on recent events, breathlessly volleying stories like Ping-Pong balls, she paused for a moment.

"Em, I don't want to seem too-- over-reaching. And I feel bad here, because I know I shouldn't get caught up on your life from your blog. But like, recently in your writing, you've seemed pretty down."

Her candor caught me off guard for the tiniest of seconds, but I wasn't offended at all. "You're right," I mused. "I have been depressed lately." I said it with a slight air of surprise and curiosity, almost like it was a compliment. As if finally I had a name for how blue I've been.

It's funny how it takes someone else to point out something that should be obvious. Of course I've been down. Between my dad being sick and alone, winter weather doldrums, living paycheck to paycheck and the fear of being trapped since I know I'm going to be at my job for at least another year, well, yeah, shoot! It'd be easy for even a well-adjusted, organized person to feel a little lost.

I've just been so reluctant to admit that it's not normal for me to go an entire week without my sides hurting from laughter or without going out to new exhibits, concerts, meeting new people. Or that in accidentally drinking so much on a Monday that I was hungover for the next 36 hours, maybe I was not so much having fun as I was trying to self-medicate. I've been reluctant to appear self-indulgent or self-pitying, but that reluctance to do anything about how I was feeling gave me a kind of gray, sluggish approach to daily life. Like when the apartment is a disaster and you have reading to do for class and should really catch up on work email and so you don't go out with friends, but then you wind up spending the entire night eating hummus and watching 13 Going on 30 for the twenty-seventh time and go to bed at 4 AM feeling all bloated and guilty and behind on life. I've done this twice in the last month, in case you were wondering.

I'm not sure if it's good or bad that I got myself out of this funk without getting any professional help. On the one hand, it's nice to know that I have great friends who can help me through the tough stuff and that I'm capable of pulling myself up from a slump and willing happiness to come. On the other hand, maybe I could have gotten over that episode faster if I'd talked to someone about all the crap that was filling my head. Certainly I would have saved Blogger the pain of having to store some really maudlin entries that, dear Internet, you should be most grateful I didn't inflict on your tender eyes.

It's hard to get perspective on a situation when you're smack in the middle of it. After this weekend, I feel like I'm finally getting started with the year after all the false starts in January. I've got big plans in the works, work plans and a birthday to celebrate this weekend. Most importantly, I'll restart 2007 knowing that if I ever get that down again, I shouldn't be afraid to ask for help.

Onwards and upwards.

Friday, February 02, 2007

the charms of the written word

In part because today is a celebration of poetry, and in part because I simply cannot have Harry Potter's pelvis at the top of my blog any longer:

A woman I know who's quite blunt
Had a bear trap installed in her...
Oh, you know. It's a base, vernacular term for "vagina"

- David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

I've never been a big poetry fan. It's too stifling and/or pretentious for me. Whenever I read poetry or, God forbid, attempt to write it, I feel like I'm playing the part of "someone who reads poetry." Kind of like that scene in Cruel Intentions where Reese Witherspoon's pristine, virginal character is wearing a teeny tiny skirt and yet is posed sitting on a blanket under a sun-dappled tree, reading from a leather-bound book and sitting up with impossibly good posture, as if so full of self-righteousness that she is physically unable to slouch. That is the kind of girl I picture myself aping when I read poetry.

Give me the amateur charms of messy, verbose prose any old day.