Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's funny cause it's true

Have you seen the movie, "I Heart Huckabees?" If not, you should, because it's a strange and wonderful and thought-provoking movie about seeking out the meaning of life and establishing your existence separate from what society expects from you. And it's really funny. But besides that, there are a few scenes that are dead-on accurate about working in the NGO community. The amount of in-fighting and pissing matches about how much we should be working within the system versus holding tight to our core beliefs has to be seen to be believed. This is partially why the left has been thwarted recently. The right doesn't have any dissention in the ranks, or if it does, it's ruthlessly crushed before it can get anyone off-message.

Why do I even bring this up? I spent most of today at a planning meeting with several other NGOs who work in my issue areas. We spent the last half hour arguing about not arguing about having more meetings. Joy. Now I'll have to be at here late tonight in order to get caught up with actual work I couldn't do by being in that meeting. Double joy.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Semper fi, baby

Growing up in LA, in a quiet middle-class suburb, my interactions with the military were few and far between. I remember one time, when I was 14, going to a basketball tournament out in 29 Palms. Besides being chock full of yucca trees, 29 Palms hosts a very large Marine base. The hotel we stayed at was populated by drunk Marines on their weekend leave. Even though these guys were only a few years older than us, they were pretty intimidating and we were sternly admonished to steer clear of them. Which we did.

And continued to do so throughout high school. My friend La Dona's family had a condo in Oceanside that we would often spend spring break or other long weekends at. Oceanside is the host town of Camp Pendleton, which is pretty much the Marine mothership. Picture a fugly, dreary town that is composed largely of tattoo parlors, pawn ships, liquor stores, and porn emporiums, and that's Oceanside. (But I loved the condo, La Dona! We always had fun there; it was just that we had to leave Oceanside itself to do so.) We managed to avoid any and all Marines while down there.

While interning in the U.S. embassy in Paris a few years back, us interns would often hang out with the Marine guards, since we shared the lowest spot on the totem pole in the embassy hierarchy. While they were essentially nice guys, they were constantly getting in drunken brawls when we went out and overall reinforced my idea that it would be a good idea to keep a solid distance from them.

That track record was shattered this weekend. While dancing off turkey on Thanksgiving night, a youngster came up to me and said, "You look bored. Let me buy you a drink." That offer was music to my ears - I never get free drinks - and I accepted. It turned out that the lad was a 22-year-old Marine from Texas. His home county in Texas still does not have a stoplight; he was in the Future Foresters of America during high school; he is an unapologetic Toby Keith fan. All of which I don't understand. Plus there's the age difference. The standard rule is you can go as low as half your age, plus seven years. So the Marine *barely* squeaked by there...and I do mean barely, because his birthday was last month. Holy shit.

But I find him interesting as a window into a world that I don't know but, given the election results, may be the path that our country's on for the next four years. I spent most of the weekend with him, quizzing him relentlessly about his earliest memories (he claims to remember Iran-Contra, on which I call bullshit) and what exactly what punishments various behavioral infractions merit in the Marine Corps. Who knew that you aren't allowed to wear a wife-beater in public, even during your "civilian" time?

So we'll see what happens. At least he's giving me perspective on my life. I was bitching about having to return to a - gasp - five-day work week, one of which days will have to be spent at a planning session with funders. He listened to me gravely, sympathized sincerely, and then said, "Yeah, I'm not looking forward to this week either. I have to go to the gas chamber on Thursday."

Club Kidz rule!

A shout-out to ZFF, who has earned the much-coveted but seldom-awarded Club Kidz badge! He earned this through three hard nights of dancing at various Brit-pop clubs in the greater DC area. Hats off to you, ZFF. Your badge is en route. We'll wear them at the next Club Mash event and rub the others' noses in it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Follow the goldfish rule

Eat until you explode this Thanksgiving! I plan to. I'll be with my urban family, where, after a particularly unwholesome experience, we have implemented a rule of only one bottle of wine per person (but our host, ZFF, has some Scotch in reserve which I believe is not beholden to that rule). After we've eaten and drunk everything in the house, we will be heading out for our traditional Thanksgiving night at Club Heaven. If you want to get in for free before 11pm, the answer to the trivia question is "Who's That Girl?" See you there!

And for all my friends scattered all around the globe and my family in California, love to you all. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that you are missed.

Our northern neighbors

I'm sitting around with my thumb up my ass because our office email is down and I can't do anything to prepare for a radio interview I have later on today with the CBC (that's the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.). Ah well, it's for an issue area that I could talk about in my sleep - and undoubtedly have, given how boring most my dreams have been lately. Let's see if I can speak coherently and simply this time around, instead of succumbing to acronym-itis. It's a common ailment in DC but one that I'm trying to fight off.

Really, I'll be happy if the interview even comes off. The last time I was supposed to speak on the CBC, it was for a call-in TV show. Alas, one caller in, and they broke to cover Michael Jackson emerging from the courthouse. I spent 20 minutes watching him wave at his psycho fans from top of an SUV. Then, right when he was getting into his car, the producers came to me and said, "We're very sorry, but we've run out of time. Thanks for coming by."

As far as these things go, it wasn't that bad: if you have to get bumped, Michael Jackson isn't too shabby of a reason. And the whole time the cameras were on him, the producers were making snarky remarks over the headset which were quite funny. As I was walking out, one of the staffers came up to me and apologized profusely, saying, "I thought that we wouldn't turn into CNN quite yet." I was going to protest their slurring of the preeminent U.S. cable news channel. But then I remembered that a State Dept friend had told me they kept the BBC on the TVs in main State because they didn't want foreign emissaries to be subjected to the latest on the Lori Peterson case or the Kobe Bryant trial while trying to conduct official business.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Hooray for modern medicine

What a difference a few hours makes. Earlier on today, I was bedeviled by, let's say, female problems. (Aren't I genteel. Excuse me while I clutch my hankerchief to my bosoms as I fall to my fainting couch.) Pop in a few pills, and voila! I can ride a bike again. Or, more accurately, focus at my desk as I frantically try to get everything done before the Thanksgiving weekend. Because as god is my witness, I am NOT coming in on Friday. So far, so good...

Monday, November 22, 2004

More news from the front

So in the past couple of days I have made some grievous rookie mistakes. Saturday night I forgot that the UPN guy worked at this one bar and ended up pouring myself into there late in the evening, when my defenses were down. Actually, his presence at the bar didn't cramp my style at all - I think the vodka martinis were more to blame for that.

And Thursday night I was at a club and dancing with this guy, just because I like to dance - nothing serious there. I knew that was the case because when he asked me my name, I gave him my standard fake. When my gut reaction is to give someone the wrong name, that's a fairly good indication things won't be working out. And my standard fake name is easy to remember as it's my middle name. (To be honest, my real first name is old-fashioned and odd enough that some guys probably figure it's the fake.) But by the end of the evening, I'd forgotten that I'd given him my fake name, so when he asked me for my phone number, I ended up giving him the real one. He called a couple of times but didn't leave messages, since my voicemail gives my real name and he probably was thinking, what a bitch, she gave me the wrong number. I am a bitch, but for different reasons. O what a tangled web...

No great loss on that last one, though, because he was *doused* in cologne. Now, I love me a man who wears cologne. I truly do. I wear perfume every day, even when I don't wear makeup, and I wish more American guys would wear cologne. It's quite appealing to the senses. However. This guy was wearing so much cologne that dancing - chastely, I might add - with him had caused my clothes to absorb his scent, forcing Z-Ditty and me to roll down the windows on the ride home so we could breathe. Even worse was waking up the next morning and trying to figure out what that smell was. Yup, still reeking of cologne from the previous night. It reminded me of when I was in high school debate, the boys for some reason thought it quite debonair to swim in cologne before a conference. To this day, the smell of Drakkar Noir or Colors de Benetton take me back my high school daze.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Live to fight another day

Back from the interview. Despite it being with a scary ultraconservative network, both the producer and cameraman were firmly in my corner, so I think it went okay. However, who knows - maybe I'll be edited to be a drooling moron. More importantly, the scarf covered up my sins nicely, so all's well and all that.

However, I still have to work on my speaking skills. You'd think as a functioning adult, I'd have this down pat by now. I'm fine when conversing normally. But when I know I'm being recorded, there's some demon in my nervous system that causes me to stutter and slur like I'm on a five-day bender. I realize that talking heads are easy targets to mock - and I often do - but I must admit I admire those who can speak for 30 seconds without stumbling over big words or accidentally swearing (turns out Mom was right: vulgar language *is* for people with limited vocabularies).

Maybe tomorrow's training session will turn me around. I get to spend a day learning "communication skills", to be followed with an afternoon-long planning meeting that's chock-full of "break-out" sessions. Look for me slumped in the back, nursing stale coffee and a hangover. Unless the gods are kind and the event gets cancelled, I will see you on Monday.

Son of a...

The ONE TIME I decide to sport jeans and a sweater to work on a non-Friday, I get tapped to do a TV interview. I tried to wiggle out of it, telling them I wasn't wearing a suit, but the producer cheerfully insisted they could shoot me from the waist up. What I didn't tell him is that I'm wearing a sweater that falls quite short of what could be considered professional attire. It's black, and isn't a bad quality sweater as far as these things go, but it's tight and a bit short. Hey, don't judge, I thought I'd be holed up in my office all day. So I panicked and ran over to a colleague's office to ask her if I should head home and change. She generously lent me a gorgeous red silk scarf that I can wrap around my shoulders; we shall see if this passes muster. Either way, I'm thinking of "forgetting" to return the wrap. No good deed goes unpunished.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

It all makes sense to me now

I had to run home to let a repairperson into my apartment and figured, no problem, I'll just duck outside and get a cab. No dice - there were none to be seen for minutes at a time, and then three empty ones drove past me, tauntingly I might add. (Seriously: one cab was driving the other way, saw me try to wave him down, did a U-turn, and then drove on by.) I was starting to feel self-conscious - did my clothes look particularly ragged today? Finally, when I was starting to rehearse charming explanations to the repairperson of why I was late so he wouldn't leave before I got there, a cab pulled over and let me in.

Back at my desk, I see that the DC cabs have called a 12-hour strike today. Apparently the city is holding a meeting today to discuss potentially overhauling how the cabs function, something the cab commission doesn't want. I think it's beyond the point of where this is necessary. The way the DC cabs are set up is just more salt in the wound that is being a DC resident. Back in the days when Congress ran DC, they established a zone system instead of a meter one. This works well if you live and work on Capitol Hill, because there is one enormous zone surrounding it. But the rest of the city gets hosed. For example: Adams Morgan to Dupont, which is one mile, counts as two zones, but Dupont to the Hill, which is three miles, is one zone.

And don't even get me started on the capriciousness in which cab drivers apply the zone system. I've had cab drivers deliberately drop me off on the side of the street that counts as another zone just to jack up the fare, and I can't even count the times I've been charged two different prices going and coming.

Then you have the cab drivers who get lost and then blame you...the cab drivers who hit on you late at night (one time I rode home in one that would only pick up attractive young women)...the cab drivers who won't take fares that they don't think are high enough (even though legally they have to take anyone they pull over for). I am a fairly easy-going person, but I will rip a cab driver a new one and not even blink. Hate DC cabs.

If loving TAR is wrong...

... I don't want to be right. Last night's two-hour episode was up to the series' Emmy-winning (I swear I don't work for CBS) standards.

It usually takes a while for me to have a favorite team. It’s good that they whittle down the number of teams for the first few legs of the race. Having said that, I was sorry to see the two Noo Yawk guys go. They were actually pretty funny. The other teams seem to be fairly entertaining too – I think they did a good job of casting people who want to be there and are lively to boot. And I liked the two-hour episode because it allowed you to get to see all the teams – with 11 of them, usually a few fall by the wayside and you forget about them until they show up at the end.

The immediate team to hate is, of course, Jonathan and Victoria. Jonathan is an asswipe and Victoria is passive-aggressively allowing him to act like a manic and petulant four-year old. It was awesome, though, when they were in the boat trying to find the buoy and Victoria’s all, sit down, the guy steering the boat can’t see. And of course Jonathan says he can see just fine, then the guy goes, sir you’re going to have to sit down. HA.

And as always, the editors rocked. I loved how the team of models go, we’re used to traveling, so we know the intricacies of airports, and then go up to Air Canada to ask about flights to Iceland! Or the one team that’s saying the team in front of them is very nice, then they cut to that other team to see them talking smack about them. Or when they cut to the father walking out and rubbing snow on his bare chest, they were playing funky disco music. Best show ever.

It just amazes me that people still don’t check to see if their car takes diesel or gas, or that they won’t get a map and insist on following someone else. Those two girls who went an hour and a half in the wrong direction lucked out that there was an overnight scheduled. Haven't these people ever seen this show?

A brief aside: I've actually been to Iceland - did a long weekend there a few years back in January. It was colder in DC than it was there, but it was still pretty chilly (one particularly heinous half hour of shivering in a corrugated tin hut, waiting for the bus, stands out). I was laughing because there is no way to get lost on that island. There is exactly ONE road, and it circles all the way around. I did go snowmobiling, but I didn’t do anything scary like ice-climbing. We did make it to the Blue Lagoon, which is nice and warm but two things about it that you can’t see on TV: 1) it smells like rotten eggs. Guess it’s the natural gas that’s heating the water. 2) I don’t know what’s in that water, but it took me and my friend one week before we could run combs through our hair after dunking in the lagoon. I’ve since talked to other people who’ve also been there and they have had the same experience.

I think I've been watching too many movies

Every time I walk into my office's kitchen, I'm reminded of that scene in "The Sixth Sense," where Toni Collette turns around and all of the cabinet doors are open. What exactly are my colleagues looking for? I would almost prefer that the place be haunted. At least then we could get an exorcist and be done with it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The. Best. Show. EVER!

Excuse me while I hyperventilate a bit, but the best show EVER is on tonight. "The Amazing Race 6" (heretofore to be known as TAR6) starts up again this very evening.

This is the show that I always bring up when people sniff about reality TV. Granted, most of them suck *and* blow, but TAR isn't one of them. It's an extremely well-edited show that takes people with pre-existing relationships on a race around the world. They do an excellent job of incorporating the local culture into the various legs and, even better, are fantastic at showing a compelling story arc.

Plus, it's fun to see the various personalities emerge. You never know who you are going to hate with the white-hot intensity of 1000 suns (Charla and Myrna, I'm looking at you) or who will surprise you with how gracious and fabulous they are (who'd have thunk that two clowns from Barnum and Bailey would turn out to be such class acts?).

And if you like to travel, it's fun to see how people manage to totally fuck it up. Yelling at someone because they don't speak English ain't going to speed things up, nor can the FAA be argued with. Traveling can be such a dicey deal these days even when one million dollars (the prize money) isn't riding on it.

I've actually given quite a bit of thought of who I would team up with for this race. The trick is to pick someone who would give you guys a hook. My sister would be ideal, because we live on opposite sides of the country and could play up the whole getting to know each other as adults angle. However, she is not a very good flier and could only complete the various air voyages under heavy sedation, which does not bode well for her ability to actually race once the wheels hit the ground. My friend J-Dawg would be a close second choice because we could qualify as the childhood friends duo (and the hott chick duo too, right J-Dawg?). But, under her own admission, she gets a bit distressed when her sleep and grooming schedules are thrown off-balance, so again maybe this isn't for her. Then again, I don't know if I have it in me to bungee-jump or sky-dive, so it might be me proving to be the weak link.

Still doesn't keep me from loving the show. In fact, during the reign of TAR5, my friend Hot Pants Esq. and I fell into the routine of having a calm-down period Tuesday nights at 11. I would be frothing at the mouth at the always finger-biting end to TAR, and she would be wide-awake from her pottery class (the studio is around the corner from my house). So she'd come over for some beer and cigarettes. No exaggeration: I was finding it hard to sleep Tuesday nights, I'd be so wound up.

And TAR6 begins again. Can't wait! Expect to hear a lot about it. To be honest, I half-suspect that my last boyfriend broke up with me a few weeks into TAR5 because he couldn't take the continual recaps of past episodes and speculations about future ones. The next 13 weeks will be heaven for me and, I am sorry to say, quite annoying for you.

Oh come now!

I realize that we all celebrate the rags-to-riches aspect of the American dream, but I am sick of seeing Condoleeza Rice described as "a poor Alabama cotton farmer's granddaughter" (from today's NYT, but it's been done repeatedly). That's like describing me as an illiterate Italian railroad laborer's granddaughter. It's certainly true, but it's not the key defining element of my life, nor her's either, I'd wager. Just makes good copy.

Besides that, I'm worried about where her rise to Secretary of State will take us. She and the prez are of one mind: imagine how aggressive our foreign policy is going to be minus the somewhat moderating effect of Powell (I do think that he wasn't so firmly against U.S. policy as some would like to believe). Also disturbing is that her deputy, Stephen Hadley, is going to be the new NSC. That guy is a solid neocon. So much for a free discourse of ideas.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Did you know...

...that cheese can expire? Prior to Friday, I'd thought that was impossible. I mean, cheese is mold, so it's already technically expired, right? Wrong. I learned the hard way that Camembert has a very definite lifespan. Probably could have still eaten it, but I didn't want to give my guest food-poisoning. So I was reduced to putting out a plate of lonely crackers. And I wonder why people don't want to come over more often.

The clementini have arrived

I was disproportionately excited yesterday to see that the clementini have arrived at Safeway. I loved them so much when I lived in Italy, but they taste different here. I think it's the long slog from Spain or wherever it is that they're grown. Plus, Safeway only sells them in crates, so you end up buying roughly a billion of them, half of which are about to re-join the great circle of life and become compost. Not to mention that they're ridiculously overpriced since they're considered imported goods.

Yet every year I fall victim to their lure. They always remind me of being a student in Bologna. Specifically, I think of the basement of our library, where there was a huge table for studying. I remember holing up down there to read between classes, but too often I'd nod off over my hated macroeconomics textbook, waking up with a start and furtively looking around only to see half the other students were asleep too. We all ate the clementini to ward off the colds that were constantly being passed around our incestuous social circles that winter. Plus, there they were dirt cheap - an attractive option to eternally broke students. When I smell that orange scent, I think of being warm and sleepy and right where I want to be.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Rave-on, rave-on

Despite its repeated mentions in this blog, I haven't been to the Raven in a month of Sundays. Which is why I was delighted when my friend Z-Ditty called and suggested we go there Wednesday night. After a few arm-twisting phone calls, a group was gathered and we spent a few decorous hours sipping Scotch on the rocks and discussing Foucoult. Or some of us may have just focused on making as many Heinekens disappear in a very short amount of time whilst badmouthing people's jukebox selections. (If I have to hear "Dead or Alive" one more time....Bon Jovi stopped being entertainingly ironic a long time ago and now is just tired.)

The Raven is a much nicer place these days, largely because its owner decided to patch things up. So one no longer has to worry about what's going to crawl out of the cracks in the leatherette seats or about the ceiling caving in on you, because that blue tarp that held it up for most of last year did not look like a load-bearing tarp. I'm happy to see that they're keeping the graffiti up in both the men's and the women's bathrooms because there's a lot of political discourse going on there that should be archived for the ages.

But the Raven's essential core hasn't changed. It still is a place where it is easy - at times, far too easy - to meet new people or see acquaintances in a different light. For example, on Wednesday I unexpectedly ran into someone who I know professionally there, and we agreed that what happens at the Raven stays at the Raven. And time slows down while you're there. Somehow, we ended up closing down the bar, even though everyone (except for me) had to work the next day. You just can't say no to the Raven.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

DC is LA for ugly people

Because DC is a one-industry town, sometimes the constant aura of politics gets a bit much to take. You go to the grocery store, and the bus-boys are discussing how Kerry handled himself in the 2nd presidential debate as they bag up your food. For an entire year before we invaded Iraq, it was considered acceptable polite small-talk to ask new acquaintances if they thought we'd be going to war soon. And my all-time favorite pick-up line (used on me, not by me, mind you): "Hey, aren't you a staffer on the Hill?"

Sometimes it gets really tiresome to always have to play the name-game with people at parties, to try and figure out who, in the two degrees of separation that is DC, you know in common.

At other times, you just have to laugh. A couple of years back, when I was guiltily part of the military-industrial complex, I was out at my favorite watering hole, the Raven. This was before Mount Pleasant became a neighborhood "in transition" as advocates like to say and instead was simply a dump. A few buddies from the State Dept and I were tossing back a Heineken or two when a very cute, very hip guy came up and asked to bum a cigarette.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, the inevitable question, "Where do you work?" came up. My friends paused, thought a moment, and said, "We work for the Man." I realized that, wishy-washy liberal arts degree notwithstanding, I did too, so I said as much. Cute Indie Hipster Boy snorts and says, "Nope, I work for The Man way more than you do." A brief argument ensued - how can you be more part of the problem than working for a defense contractor or the federal goverment? - but it turned out he was right. His boss? None other than the ultimate Good Ol' Boy, Strom Thurmond.

We are all tarred with the same brush. I guess it's just a matter of how much.

Which brings me to my point. Even though I don't work for the Feds, we get tomorrow off since it's Veterans' Day. Thanks, nation's war heroes! See you guys Friday.

The single most horrifying thing I've read this week...

...is that one slice from Pizza Mart has 1100 calories. Thanks, Washington City Paper, for ruining one of the few innocent pleasures I have left.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Just got back from a luncheon where I was surrounded by a ballroom full of defense contractors. I feel so unclean. But they had free, individually-wrapped emery boards in the women's bathroom, so I helped myself. Nice to know my soul has a price.

This just in: media can't be trusted

One of the things I love about my job is that it gets me ready access to the Early Bird and the Early Bird supplement. For those of you who don't work for The Man, the Early Bird is the Pentagon's daily compilation of defense, military, and political stories from all English sources (admittedly mostly from the United States). I actually get fussy when our email goes down and I can't read it. It's invaluable because it allows me to keep up on all the issues I follow.

But it's also fascinating reading because you can compare how various newspapers report on the same topic. In particular, they have a field day when there's anything war-related going on. As you might imagine, today's issues were chock-full of Fallujah news. And, often happens, the British papers can barely hold in their superciliousness at the savage Americans: "'I Got My Kills ... I Just Love My Job': Toby Harnden in Fallujah observes American soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division taskforce avenging their fallen comrades as battle begins,” says today's London Daily Telegraph. I can see why this would be a news story because I most definitely do not support an excessive military. But I get the feeling that this is covered more because it feeds into the Daily Telegraph's readers' worldviews - those nasty, imperialistic Americans are at it again - rather than provide a cogent, objective reporting of what was happening.

Also entertaining is when two newspapers seem to be on different planets. The New York Daily News claims that "Iraqi Backup Troops Back Out Of Assault,” while the Chicago Tribune asserts, "Officers Confident Of Iraqi Cohorts." Which is it? I would gather somewhere in-between. But it is a good reminder to take these things with a grain of salt.

And I just find the names of military weapons amusing. Lockheed Martin has a new cruise missile out whose acronym is SMACM. Go ahead, I'll wait while you say it out loud. Hee. The cruise missile is going to deliver a smack-down, beeyatch!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ain't no party like a SoCal party

So my friend J-Dawg is visiting from the best state of the union, California. She and I have known each other since we were five, and the mere fact that she's still willing to talk to me after having witnessed my horribly awkward teen years is a testament to her character. [No, really, I know that elementary school is kind to no one, but you should see my family's xmas card from 1985. The braces...the TIE (sweet jesus, what was I thinking?)...the white girl's fro. O the humanity.]

Anyways, it's been fun rattling around DC together. She used to live here, too, back when I was living in the House of Usher, so she knows the city and doesn't feel the need to hit the monuments.

Although I haven't had the full extent of her attention. Our first night out on the town, she made the acquaintance of a gentleman caller. It's cool, I'm happy she's having a fun time. But I don't think that the guy I met on Saturday night will prove to be as good as hers. There are many things that give me pause, but the biggest one is that when I gave him my number, neither of us had any paper, so he wrote down my name and number on a $20 in his wallet. I have visions of random strangers calling me up just for the fun of it. Now that I'm a swingle again, I did want to get back out into circulation, just not that way.

It may be a long cold winter. My only other prospect right now is a guy who failed what I term "The UPN Test." It turned out that I'd rather stay home on a Friday night and watch UPN than go out with him.

In less self-involved news, it looks like we've finally hit Fallouja, Iran might be willing to step back on its nuclear re-processing, and - in a major scoop on the front page of yesterday's Washington Post - Mexico is undergoing a burro shortage. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently burros had something of an image problem, so few Mexicans wanted to be associated with them. Now they're realizing that they do provide valuable service to the agriculture industry, so they're starting to import burros from Kentucky. A free beer to the first person who can tell me what in god's name is the difference between a donkey, a burro, and a mule. My friend Grits and I worked out that one of those animals is sterile, but after that, I'm clueless and the Post did nothing to relieve my ignorance on the matter.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Poor deluded fool

Someone else just called in, wanting to know whether they could apply for an internship here for the next session. And once again, I have to tell them that the deadline was over a month ago. On one hand, I can understand where the applicants are coming from, because god knows I was such a slacker I never applied for an internship until maybe a week or two before the quarter started. On the other hand, we have dozens of people who manage to get their acts in gear and apply by the deadline, so I'm not too sympathetic.

....Dammit, my top intern choice just called and rejected the offer. Someone got to him first. Wow. Once again, karma comes around to bite me in the ass.

At any rate, it definitely is interesting being on the other side of the desk. You'd be surprised by how hostile some applicants get: someone wrote in just to mock the amount of money we pay. Also unexpected was how many people send in incoherent, badly-written cover letters. I can understand a typo here or there, but when someone is applying for a job that requires a lot of writing, they probably should be able to string a few sentences together fairly well. Someone wrote me the most condescending email once, "explaining" to me how to use Word. Thanks buddy. I'm going to remember *your* name and I'll bide my time... Finally, the thing that really jumps out at me is how many applicants go on about what a great opportunity this internship would be for them. That's super. Glad to hear it. But companies generally don't hire people to make them feel validated but because they have something to offer. A lot of the applicants don't seem to get that.

To be fair, I don't know if I would've gotten that at their age either. In cleaning up my paperwork at home recently, I found a bunch of cover letters that made me cringe. The only thing more painful to read is my personal statement for grad school. I hope that some day I can look back at it and laugh, because, jesus, right now it's too hokey for words.

Mmm, cashmink

Not really. But I am excited about getting to wear one of my new sweaters. All my old ones were lost in the purge after the Great Moth Incident of 2004. Let me tell you, if you think you see moths, burying your head in the sand will only make the situation worse. Two trips from the exterminator, a protracted clean-out of all my closets, umpteen visits to the dry-cleaners (including having my comforter getting held hostage by my dry-cleaner right when we hit a cold spell. I spent a week sleeping with the heat jacked up to 85 degrees), and $600 later, I am still paranoid of their presence. Makes you look at Howard Hughes and others obsessed with bugs somewhat more sympathetically.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


The server is down, the hallway smells of my co-worker's atrocious tuna snack, Hecht's is being recalcitrant about accepting my return of defective over-priced shoes... I feel like stomping around my office, possibly kicking a chair or two. Can't we just all agree to call it a day?

So cold

Damn rain. My feel got completely soaked on the way in this morning. I'm sure that had nothing to do with the holes in my shoes. Mayhap I should buy a new pair of sneakers, otherwise this is going to be a long winter. I've been sitting in my office in my sock-feet, hoping that I can dry out before putting my boots on. Who says I don't have class?

This whole weather thing is highly overrated. Growing up in LA, you hear rumors of "rain" and "cold fronts," but you don't really see them too often. LA literally is a desert climate, which means it normally gets under 12 inches of rain a year. And that's in a good season: during my formative years in the 80s, LA was undergoing a drought. It was constantly there in the background, not unlike the threat of nuclear war. Just something you dealt with.

[Sidenote: when I was 12, an Aeromexico passenger jet collided with a twin-prop above my hometown, causing both to crash about a half mile from my house. Killed everyone on board and about a dozen people on the ground. When the planes were hurtling toward the ground, they let out a sound that is similar to what you hear in movies for a bomb dropping. It being the Cold War and all, I heard it and thought to myself, Huh. They're finally dropping the bomb on us. And I just waited for the impact - what else can you do? Kids today think they know terror...]

Where was I...oh yes, the all-so-important weather discussion. But seriously, people don't realize how much of a shock to the system it is when you realize that you have to wear a sweater *and* a jacket. In LA, it's one or the other. And I was 24 before I figured out that scarves had practical uses. I've been in DC for seven years now - practically a native at this point - and am still in shock at the change of seasons.

So, a very long-winded way of saying I can't wait until spring.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Feelin fine

Well, not exactly, but it's amazing how much a chili cheeseburger and a beer will improve your outlook on life. Time to start figuring out how to get through the next four years.

La la la, I can't hear you

Denial can be a helpful thing at times. This would be one of them. Let me tell you, I am not happy about yesterday's election - not one whit. It's looking more and more like we've re-elected the cowboy, and - even more embarrassing - Marion "Bitch Set Me Up" Barry is back in public office. What is WRONG with people? Jebus.

So, I'm going to cast my mind back to a happier time...three years ago. In September 2001, I was working for an activist group on Capitol Hill. I'd finally escaped the clutches of the military-industrial complex, for whom I'd been working since graduation, and was doing something I believed in. Of course, everything changed very quickly. My organization lost a lot of its funding after Sept. 11, so I was laid off. I'd never had a job choose for me to leave before. Then the anthrax attacks hit. You'd think with the general malaise in DC, the world, and my personal life at that point, it would've been a bad time for me.

But it wasn't. Between unused vacation days and unemployment, I was fine financially. I'd sleep in, go to the gym when it wasn't crowded (Results on U Street - shout-out to all my boyz!), meander on to my alma mater so I could use the computer lab to look for work, then meet up with my friends for happy hour and cap off the day with a few drinks at the Raven. I remember kicking through multi-hued leaves while walking around on yet another sparkling fall day. One of my best friends had just moved back into town after having been abroad for a couple of years. And surprisingly, networking, as painful as it was, paid off swimmingly. I ended up with what has turned out to be my dream job. On Saturday it'll be my three-year anniversary - the longest I've ever worked anywhere.

So, I'm trying to keep the big picture in mind here.

But goddamn it's going to be a long four years.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Yay me

Are you wearing the coveted "I Voted" sticker? Are you not aware that all people wearing it are getting hit on by fabulously gorgeous strangers and are being offered free tacos at participating establishments? No? Well, no excuse now. Go hustle and vote before the post-work mob hits. Given the trouble my precinct workers had with the basic alphabet, I have little faith in their abilities to handle an unruly mass of anxious voters.

Poseur, or music appreciator?

Maybe a little from column A and a little from column B. In what has sadly proved to be my only "political" financial contribution this year, I bought the MoveOn.org CD, "Future Soundtrack for America." I've been obsessively listening to Elliott Smith's contribution, "A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to be Free." Apparently this was nicked off of his posthumous CD, but they changed the lyrics to be more in-line with the CD's message. Which is why I have to listen to it over and over again, just to ensure I can sing along with authority. This is why I can't have CDs I like at the office. There's something about sitting at a computer for eight hours a day that makes my music reeeeeally important, so I tend to overplay any CDs that I like. I'm sure my office neighbors are plotting to sneak in after-hours and scratch a few of them. Suckers, there's more where those came from.

Oh dear god

What have I done? I've been thinking about this for a while and decided what the hell. I looked into an oversaturated market and thought, me too! Really, this is more for my friends' sanity than anything else. As much as I'm sure they love reading email missives from me four/five/far too many times a day, I think it's time to inflict my shallow musings on a less forgiving but more anonymous audience. Um. So. Hi. Oh look, time for lunch.