Tuesday, March 27, 2007

week's end in the city

For my last Sunday night as a resident of the Hill I reversed my usual jogging route, skipping Lincoln Park and RFK in favor of the more traditional touristy sights. Chasing the sunset down Constitution, I rounded the corner onto the Capitol grounds as Bloc Party vibrated through my earbuds.

There is a wall that runs right through me
Just like the city, I will never be joined

My ponytail was coming loose and I jogged down some steps to my right, thinking they would empty out at a bench where I could stretch and re-tie my hair. To my surprise, the bushes on either side of me opened up to show a small rocky cupola, almost like a chapel, hollowed out into the lawn. I'd seen these stone pits before, of course, but they'd always been boarded up and closed off to the public. Now the gates hung open as I stepped into the cool stone circle, setting my iPod down on the edge of the long-dormant fountain in the center so I could sweep back my sweaty hair.

I've lived on Capitol Hill for three years and never once been inside this nook. Never before had I stretched my sore calves as I did now, using the worn stone benches as a barre and grabbing at gnarled branch of ivy as I lost my balance. How many more of these nooks are there in this neighborhood? How much am I leaving undiscovered? What possible memories am I scrapping before they're experienced?

Standing in the dying light creeping over the edge of the stones, I rolled my eyes at my own melodramatic wistfulness. You're moving to Columbia Heights, EJ. Not Guam. Chill out. You'll be back.

Muscles stretched and melancholy achieved, I walked up and out of the stone pit to catch the last vestiges of the sunset. The sun had the nerve to be setting over Pennsylvania Avenue and was therefore slightly off-center from the line of the Mall as I plopped down on the Capitol steps, not particularly caring that I was inserting myself into several tourists' vacation photos. If it were a perfect last Sunday sunset on the Hill, I thought, then the sun would be evenly backlighting the Washington Monument and the sky would be even more brilliantly pink than it already is. And Rosslyn wouldn't be there to junk up the view. And that woman with the fanny pack wouldn't be glaring at me because I'm blocking her shot of the Dome. It's not like I go to her backyard in Peoria and give her the stank eye when she's going about her day.

I pulled my bare legs to my chest and hugged my arms around them like a little girl. It was still too cold to be jogging in shorts, but all of my sweatpants were shoveled into garbage bags, readied for the big move this weekend. Perhaps not the most efficient way of packing, but then, it is only a mile away.

After I move it'll be a bummer being slightly further away from some friends, but I'll have fun being a lot closer to others. I'll own a home, but my monthly bills will be lower than when I rented. I'll still be the girl who reads five books at the same time and doesn't know her gimlet limits and cooks overelaborate meals with a lot of garlic and who is not terribly good at keeping her unsolicited opinions to herself. I'll still shop and brunch at Eastern Market and watch couples wandering in and out of creaky brick townhouses and daydream about the future. Nothing will really change that much.

I have decided
At twenty-five
Something must change

The sun and the tourists were both gone by the time I peeled myself from the marble floor and trotted off towards home. Home for the next five days, anyway.

Monday, March 26, 2007

to a deeeeluxe apartment

It's official: I've become completely obsessed with furniture. As a part of the Move That Ate Capitol Hill I'm selling most of my old post-college Ikea stuff and am spending way too much time browsing Decor8, wishing I could afford to have her fly to DC and design my entire life. I actually had a dream about pintucked back sofas last night. I spent four hours watching Jonathan Rhys-Meyers storm around Tudor England half-naked and scowling on Showtime and then I dreamt about a couch. Clearly, I need professional help. I am a woman possessed. By possessions.

Does anyone need bookcases? Because I have four of them. All are the white particle board ones from Ikea that everyone buys at some point in their early twenties. I'm selling two of the tall ones with six shelves ($30 each) and two of the small ones with 3 shelves ($15 each). They're all in great shape despite holding seventeen boxes worth of books over the last three years.* I'm also selling a coffee table. It's a 3 x 3 foot white square with slots for storage. Email me at ejtakeslife at gmail dot com if you're at all interested and I'll happily send you a photo. I want this big white furniture out of my soon-to-be-ex apartment.

Plus, if you buy my bookcases and coffee table, I promise to write something substantive. Until I get rid of my big honking (yet perfectly functional!) white furniture and work up the nerve to buy this couch and this rug, you're not going to get a whole lot of decent prose from me.

*When I finally finished packing my books last night, I started to count the boxes and had to stop at seventeen. So that's where my money has been going all these years.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I just spent lunch break in the park by my office, and can safely say that people are greeting the arrival of spring with perhaps a bit more enthusiasm than is wise.

Ladies, it is not yet warm enough to justify sunbathing. Lying on the grass basking in the sunshine, sure. But nothing involving bikini tops. It is still March. You have plenty of time to develop malignant melanomas and handbag skin. Pace yourselves.

Gentlemen, for the sweet love of Jesus, if you are going to wear man-sandals you need to do something about your feet. They've been safely ensconsed in wingtips and sneakers and boots for months and are not ready to be thrust, ungroomed, upon an unsuspecting public. A pedicure is not mandatory, but at least clip your gnarly toenails. They should not hang over the edge of your Birkenstocks.

And to the one girl on the corner of 19th and Penn: I know it's tough to plan outfits for days with a thirty-five-degree temperature span. One is always a little too cold or a little too warm. I feel your pain, I do. But donning flipflops, a floaty linen circle skirt over bare legs, a turtleneck sweater and a wool scarf is not the way to tackle this problem. Then again, you probably don't need me to tell you this; you already looked really uncomfortable. And a little bag-ladyish.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ejtakeslife NOT best writer in DC; CRIES into pillow ALL night

I was dimly aware of this site someone was running about the Best/Worst/Manliest/Stupidest/Sexiest/Furriest Chest Hair DC Blogs. Another blogger mentioned it in passing when we were hanging out a while ago, and my reaction to its existence was similar to my reaction to American Idol: wow, that is a lot of time and emotion invested in something completely manufactured. But hey, whatever makes people happy.

I naturally assumed that since I don't really write about my dating habits, trash-talk other bloggers or at any time compare my life to an episode of Sex and the City, I would probably fly under the radar of whoever was running this thing. So imagine my surprise when I checked my Technorati the other day to find out that the mysterious overlord of this site had "nominated" me for "Best DC Blog by Best DC Writer." I'll admit, even knowing that the criteria for such an award seemed to be 1) be on the DCBlogs roll and 2) be subjected to name-calling in the comments section less than the other "nominees," I was rather charmed. Someone out there reads this stuff? And likes this stuff? And cares that my dad is healthy and my cat is safe? How adorable! It's like knowing people actually read my family's Christmas newsletter and don't roll their eyes and throw up!

Further proving my maxim that the things designed to improve our lives inevitably complicate them more, I started regularly checking the comments, waiting for the inevitable shit-talking to begin. I made it through a whole day or so ducking the mud being slung about. And I really have to ask something of the Internet here: where do you people buy your energy supplements? Do they carry your pills at GNC or do you have to get them through a doctor? Because whatever you're on, I'd like some of it. If the passion shown in your commenting exists in pill form, I could have enough energy to knock down the Great Wall of China with my bare hands and then rebuild it with Popsicle sticks and Elmer's glue. Which has totally been a goal of mine since childhood

Eventually I was presented with with such well-reasoned, thought-provoking criticisms of my writing as "Dump EJ," "Dump EJ" and "Dump EJ and his life" and my pathetic attempts at expressing myself fell victim to the smarter, wittier souls who troll this fair Internet of ours. I was unceremoniously sacked from the competition this afternoon and have spent every moment since then heaving with sobs. Why, God? Why put me into this world, give me a brain to process thought and hands to type, only to limit my gifts and make me fall so far short of everyone else? Where is thy decency, you cruel shaper of fate?!

As I attempt to collect myself, I can only hope that I'll can draw strength from addressing a few of the constructive criticisms so helpfully suggested by some commenters. Behold:

Drop EJ Takes Life no one cares about EJ or the the life he took And suicide is bad.

No argument at all there, friend. Suicide is a terrible, terrible thing. Nowhere in almost two years of writing this blog have I ever advocated taking one's own life. I'm saving that for Year 3, of course. However, when you suggest that "no one cares about EJ," are you not devaluing my OWN life? Isn't "no one cares" really the same thing as "the world wouldn't miss you and you should really just pack it in?" Aren't you trying to encourage ME to perform the very same act that you have just labeled "bad?" Perhaps you should practice what you preach. And start using punctuation.

EJ is a sophomoric sadist and I’d appreciate her removal from the list. She’s must to young to play with the big boys. Cut her!

Too young? You rock! Thank you so much! Here I have been all worried that I was getting prematurely old by buying a condo and deleting that guy I hooked up with last fall from my cell phone so I'd have room for my mortgage broker and spending the night before my birthday drinking martinis at the Kennedy Center instead of playing flipcup in a glorified frathouse basement. And then you came along to calm my fears! You are so sweet!

I do take slight issue with the labeling me as a "sadist." It's been simply months since I drove spikes into someone's flesh for pleasure, and so that term is somewhat dated. These days, I'm into plushies.

Do it. Dump EJ and his life from the list.

This one hurts. Of course I'm a terrible writer and a terrible human being and completely stupid and a waste of time, but I'm not a dude. I'm a girl. Woman. Female. She.

These are men:

This is me:

I realize that there is a tremendous resemblance between me and the above individuals, particularly Coolio, but I am a girl... woman... whatever noun female-gendered people my age are supposed to use. Yes, I understand that because I socked away fourteen Guinnesses in four hours on Saturday and am currently second in my March Madness bracket of 24 entries, the male gender might want to claim me as one of their own. But alas, biology has spoken and declared me to be a chick. Sorry.

Lose EJ. I could never support someone who names their blog after a Muppet film.

This is so tragic, it's practically Shakespearean. Someone FINALLY gets the title of my blog and yet simultaneously rejects me for it! Yes, EJ Takes Life is in part named after one of my very favorite movies ever, the brilliant Muppets Take Manhattan. I didn't name it EJ Takes DC because I started it right after my backpacking trip (which naturally begat EJ Takes Europe) and frankly, I didn't see myself sticking around here that long. But the best film of the best troupe of singing, dancing puppets ever to put on a Broadway show AND put pigs in space? Did you not watch the Muppets, friend? Did you not have an American childhood? Have you no sense of wonder, or appreciation for cameos by B-list mid-80s celebrities?!

In the end, as I attempt to scrape up what is left of my dignity, hope and dreams, I can take comfort in the message below:

Bloggers... is bloggers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

mama bear

Jenny and I arrived home tonight after a day of movies, Spy Museum, drinks and dinner with friends to find my front door wide open.

To be entirely fair, we were given a bit of warning. I got a voicemail from my leasing agent that they were showing my apartment to a prospective tennant tonight, and then another message that, um, the front door was, um, having problems locking. But that, um, it was shut and if I was really worried, um, here's the number for the emergency repair line.

To clarify: the leasing agent himself did not call the emergency repair line. He left the number for me, not knowing where I was, on my voicemail. And made it sound as though the lock was perhaps jammed or maybe there was a penny stuck in the frame, instead of what was actually going on.

As we stepped in the front yard and and pushed the rusting gate aside, I saw through the cobwebby dark that my iron gate was shut but that the warped wooden door was waving open in the breeze, leaving a gap of at least a foot. "Oh my God," I yelled, scrambling to open the gate. "Sadie?! Sadie, honey?! Baby girl?!" Jenny ran into my bedroom and started turning on lights, calling for the cat as she looked under the bed and I stood tree-like in the kitchen, livid and terrified at the same time. I heard traffic whizzing by on the street through the open door. It didn't even occur to me to be thinking about either of the MacBooks sitting on my coffee table or the pearls my grandfather gave me for high school graduation.

I suddenly heard an indignant "mew!" from behind me and whirled around to see Sadie darting through the bars of my iron gate. Much cuddling followed, and not a few tears on my part. Once I calmed down enough to stop apologizing to her, and once Jenny had poured me a glass of Bailey's, came the anger. Anger that only exploded over when I looked at the door more closely to see that in the nine hours since Jenny and I had left the house, the wood between the deadbolt and the knob had somehow completely split down the middle.

It absolutely turns my stomach that someone would be okay with just leaving someone's door open, especially when that person has a stated responsibility for the property. Especially when he would try to cover his ass by leaving a voicemail with an emergency number for the tenant to call when 1) she has no idea what the damage actually is and 2) he has no idea when she will receive the message or return to the property.

What absolutely causes my blood to boil over the edge of the pot of anger and onto the stove of screaming, righteous indignation (I should not be allowed to metaphor while furious) is that he did not give a second thought to the fact that I had a pet living in the property. That as far as he was concerned, it was fine to gamble that my cat would just not go outside if the door happened to blow open. And that, even if she did, well, she'd probably come back. Right?

And yes, she did come back. She came back when I called her because she is infinitely smarter than the idiotic, irresponsible sack of jackassery that didn't care that she might escape in the first place. The one that didn't notice that the DOOR HAD SPLIT DOWN THE MIDDLE.

The one who allowed a situation where myself, my little sister and my cat now have to sleep in a basement apartment with a broken door because no carpenters are available to come out at 10:30 on a Monday night.

Of course, he was also stupid enough to give me his cell phone number when he left that second voicemail.

Now, I'm not generally a vindictive person, nor am I the type of soul who relishes it when someone gives me bad service and I can rub their nose in it. Why, our waitress at dinner tonight kept touching various members of our party and saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" over and over. I tipped her 22 percent. With most people, I figure that if their lives are bad enough that they're going to take it out on me, a complete stranger, then their lives are tough enough without me stiffing them or yelling at them or making them feel bad about who they are or what they do.

It's also rare that i get angry just for the sake of making my anger known. I find myself more likely to do this as I get older and become more aware of the fact that because I'm a single and generally pretty polite woman, people are less likely to take me seriously or be afraid of what will happen if they don't make me happy. When I get angry it's usually with the goal of getting something done, to achieve a pre-defined end. I'm not terribly good at hearing "no" as in "no, there's nothing we can do about this now." There is something that can be done in almost every bad situation, and "no" usually means "I don't want to" or "that would be a huge pain," neither of which is the same as "there is no way this can be done."

However, I make the rare exception to this generally positive approach to life. This is exponentially more likely to happen the more that you mess with my people. I have a tremendous mama bear side that will spring to life when you fuck with the things and people I love. And God help you if I find out that you were callous with my personal safety and that of those who I love, because not only will I hold you responsible but I will make you feel so awfully, personally responsible for all that bad things that COULD have happened that they might as well HAVE happened, so great will your guilt be.

Two phone calls to him, one phone call to his director and one phone call to the head of the agency later, and this guy is probably regretting not spending the evening sitting cross-legged in my front yard watching for a whisker poking out the front door.

Of course, I am still left wishing that Jenny and I had chosen another movie besides Zodiac.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

we're the mcfitzwilliams

It is really disturbing how well my sister and I are able to recite along with The Brady Bunch Movie after four hours of drinking Guinness at the Dubliner.

"She has every right to be mad. They are her socks."

"But why does MARCIA get all the socks?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

drag poetry

This is a bingo card.

This is the drag queen that gave us a bingo card.

This is the DVD of Back from Iraq that the drag queen gave us when we got Bingo! on a bingo card.

This is the look of utter "Omigod you guys!" horror at the big screen TV showing a guy eating another guy's ass on top of the American flag on the DVD of Back from Iraq that the drag queen gave us when we got a Bingo! on a bingo card.

These are the boobs the drunk girl at the table behind us showed to the entire bar as we looked in utter "Omigod you guys!" horror at the big screen TV showing a guy eating another guy's ass on top of the American flag on the DVD of Back from Iraq that the drag queen gave us when we got a Bingo! on a bingo card.

This is the hot straight guy that Kim picked up at Drag Bingo Night because she has MAD GAME while the rest of us laughed at the boobs the drunk girl at the table behind us showed to the entire bar as we gawped in utter "Omigod you guys!" horror at the big screen TV showing a guy eating another guy's ass on top of the American flag on the DVD of Back from Iraq that the drag queen gave us when we got a Bingo! on a bingo card.

Friday, March 09, 2007

lost in translation

Okay, Hollywood. We need to talk.

It's really great that you are finally understanding that the BBC does television a lot better than you all do. No one expected that the American version of The Office would rock so much (perhaps even harder than the original), and you are to be applauded for not only for not screwing up a terrific concept, but both improving on it and giving me John Krasinski. If I have not said it before, thanks for that part especially.


I read today that ABC is doing a pilot called Football Wives, clearly based on the delicious British series Footballers' Wive$ and its spinoff, Footballers Wive$: Extra Time. I have sung hosannas to that show on many occasions and there is no guiltier pleasure for me than watching Tanya Turner swish her severe bob or Jason leer over everything with breasts or making rude comments about wussy-ass Donna's awful teeth. Granted, I haven't been as able to get into Extra Time, but as far as I know those characters have yet to bear any hermaphrodite babies or throw Snow White-themed weddings featuring a wedding party composed entirely of little people dressed in breeches. Kids today just don't respect the example of their elders. Elders who are, in any language, fucking awesome:

Anyways, Hollywood, I have a huge problem with your developing this new, weakened adaptation. Exporting a sitcom of mild depression and workplace misery onto America television is not a huge problem, but translating soaps is fraught with peril (much like the unholy extramarital union of Donna and Salvatore Biagi, played by an actor so little affect he could best Hayden Christensen in the International Most Wooden Male pageant). We already have trashy daytime and nighttime soaps in America, and they are filled with impossibly scheming, beautiful men and the bitchy, be-sequined women who scratch them with acrylic nails because they caught the men nailing the babysitter. However, in Footballers' Wive$ we get to SEE him nailing the babysitter. In the bathroom stall of the local club. With full-frontal nudity. And when the wife finds out, first she snorts a big ol' load of coke from her acrylic pinky fingernail before she uses it to claw his eyes out.

Such scenarios obviously cannot happen in America because, unlike the heathen British who clearly want a nation full of sexually active deviant Satanists, America Cares About The Children. Which means our TV shows have no casual and unnecessary nudity, no explicit drug use, no sexual abuse of comatose piggish soccer club owners and (even though Jack Bauer can torture everyone with brown skin in order to save Los Angeles) no woman's breasts have ever caught on fire just for the sheer fun of it. In other words, Hollywood, your TV mostly sucks.

Hollywood, how can you possibly translate the trashabulous glory of Footballers Wive$ to suit the sexually puritanical standards of America, a country that is okay with suspending teenagers for daring to say the word "vagina" in front of other people, lo, the End of Days is nigh?! Tanya Turner practically says "vagina," usually in a less delicate manner, in every other sentence. Right before she'll choke a bitch out.

So I'm already pretty steaming mad over this, Hollywood, but do you know what REALLY frosts my cookies?

You cast James Van Der Beek in the Ian Walmsley role.

James Van Der "Ah. Don't want. Yer life." Beek.

Hollywood, do me a favor. Piss off, eh?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

the power of the interwebs

My Dad discovered Google last night.

Well, to be fair, he discovered the concept of Googling oneself last night. He was aware of the existence of Google before, but, lovable Luddite that he is, still insists on using Altavista and Ask Jeeves when he needs to search for something. And he also uses an abacus in restaurants to calculate tips. Okay, not that last one. But you get my point.

This magical discovery came about because my long-lost cousin emailed him out of the blue last week. To be more specific, the community theater group my family used to work with emailed him to say that someone had emailed them wondering if the name on their webpage happened to be his Uncle Steve and how one might get in touch with him today.

There's a whole other story to be told about this family member and that whole side of the family and that's why someday I'm going to sit down and write the whole damn thing because it's a Southern Gothic novel meets the Vietnam War and really, it needs to be committed to paper.

Family historical drama aside, my dad couldn't believe that the cousin had tracked him down. "I don't get it," he told me. "Our last two Christmas cards to them have come back return-to-sender. And how on Earth did he find me through the theater?"

"Well," I replied, "if he knew your name, and he knew you lived in Ann Arbor for a long time, that page probably came up when he Googled you. That's how I would try to find someone."

Sure enough, as we tried it over the phone, there it was: my father, playing a 1920s reporter in a community theater production of The Front Page was the first hit when you Googled his name and hometown. There was his full name and several pictures. Long-lost relatives found in five seconds.

"This is neat!" my dad exclaimed over the phone. "Tee-hee!" (Yes, my father says "tee-hee." It is so cute). "Look at that!"

"Dad, haven't you ever Googled yourself before?"

"Can I do that?"

"Sure! It's not like the Internet Police are going to show up and arrest you for being a curious narcissist. Everybody Googles themselves."

"Okay, so how do I do this?"

"Just type your name in the search engine. Oh, and use quotation marks around it."

"... Well, look at that! I'm an Australian rugby player! I'm a British dentist! I scored 34 points in a Finnish professional basketball game!"

"See, it's fun! I'm a photographer and write really awesome comic-strip art and work at Whaddaya Know?"

"... It's kind of sad when people who have our names lead more interesting lives than we do."

Oh, innocent father of mine. It's just one of the many ways the Internet disappoints us. I'll never tell him about my experiences in Match.comland.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the internet agrees that my last job was insane

* Now with more contest! Check out the comments to learn more *

I realized this morning that I've been in my current job for over a year now. That's the longest I've held any job before. They don't appear to be firing me any time soon. They even appear to rather like me. I could get used to this. It's a tremendously pleasant change from my other postgrad jobs, both of which left me as such a quivering ball of neuroses and stress at the end of the day that I both developed ulcers and a raging hostility towards all aspects of contemporary American politics.

This morning I also learned that a conversation I submitted during my previous job is now the number two classic quote on www.overheardintheoffice.com. As in, of all the idiocy that has been documented on that site, all of the bored office drones voting on which is the most idiotic of them all found my experience to be the second jaw-droppingly, snorting-out-loud stupidest, most ridiculous conversation there.

WOW. That, even given my rather insane employment history, kind of stops me cold.

Dear Lord Baby Jesus, I am so grateful to be in my current job. A job where strangers on the internet do not react to my office goings-on with a collective "dude, that shit is fucked up."

And in case you were wondering, as of February 2006, Desmond Tutu's email address is the one thing Google can't help you find. Well, that and your SANITY if you're trapped in a job where your boss asks you to Google Desmond Tutu's email address.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I have transcended exhaustion and moved onto that blissful, slightly delirious stage that can only come the Monday after an epic weekend. An epic weekend that ended with trading shirts with the extremely queeny guy behind me in the middle of "Filthy/Gorgeous" at the Scissor Sisters concert. You'd think that at the tender age of twenty-five I'd still cling to a small loose thread of modesty, but you would be quite wrong. Besides, not counting the drummer and possibly of one of the roadies, there was not a single straight man in all of 9:30 Club last night.

I really can't say enough good things about a live Scissor Sisters show. Jake Shears is a ridiculously charismatic leading man and Ana Matronic last night was literally the most beautiful woman I think I've ever encountered. I spent a significant portion of the concert just gawping at her magnificent boobs. She is newest winner of the Angelina Jolie Memorial Women I'd Go Gay For Award.

I vaguely remembered seeing the Scissor Sisters at V Festival last fall, but I only caught their last three songs after running across the length of Pimlico following The Who's hour-plus set. Don't get me wrong, I love The Scissor Sisters, but seeing them after seeing The Who absolutely destroy the mainstage with their four decades of badassery was like getting the chance to sleep with Adam Brody right after getting sexed up by Brad Pitt. Any other chance you'd be salivating, but the timing and setting was all wrong and dulled what should have been a perfect experience.

Therefore, I was very glad to be able to see them headlining their own show. Particularly when it closed out a weekend involving reckless deployment of leggings, the (all-too-brief) return of Libby, a deeply vile drink involving both Peach Schnapps and Pop Rocks and five hours of revisionist Cold War historiography at Tryst over $4 pots of tea and bean salad.

Aren't I just the most precious little hipster?