Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

It never rains in southern California

Holla if you remember that cheezy song! Part of the great cultural legacy of music that 1990 left us. This includes "Funky Cole Medina" and "You Got What I Need (You Say He Just A Friend)".

And, as it turns out, I was being lied to by song. It does rain in southern California, sometimes spectacularly so. For example, on my last full day in LA, it rained five inches. !!!

[I do realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg, water-wise. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it, what with the death toll from the tsunami at 118,000 and growing. In all seriousness, the stories coming from that just break your heart. People, redcross.org can take donations. Okay, now I'm getting depressed. Did you guys read the story about the guy who saved 30 orphans by loading them into his boat and outracing a wall of water? Holy shit. If this were a movie, I'd be rolling my eyes right about now - unbelievable.]

But back to me. The visit home was wonderful. I got to hang out with friends (shout-out to Mags) and catch up on Gilmore Girls, which, oddly enough, is on the Family Channel several times a day. They do know it's about a woman who had her daughter out of wedlock, right? Just checking.

It is strange, though, hanging out at your parents' house as an adult. I guess this isn't new, but the situations have truly reversed. I'm the one lecturing my parents about potential fire hazards (really, though - who puts a lit candle right behind the toilet?), singing the importance of fresh vegetables, and pointing out mold in the bathroom. Hmm, reading that, you'd think I was a demanding guest. I'm really not a principessa, despite my URL.

And yet, simultaneously, you find yourself falling back into your sullen teenage groove. Anyone seen "Napoleon Dynamite"? Around my family, I get about as surly as the title character in that movie. I know it's hard to believe that someone as charming as myself could get that hard to take. Well, believe it folks. I find myself fighting with my brother about whose turn it is to do the dishes and quarreling with my sister about the car radio.

The best part, though, is that you also pick up where you left off. My sister and I spent an "enjoyable" (I use that word advisedly, because that was the biggest piece of shite that has ever graced the airwaves in our household) evening mocking the latest Growing Pains reunion movie and fell victim to a giggles fit while at church. Plus I'm getting to know my parents as people, which is nice and, I realize, a luxury. All in all, it was a good respite from life in DC.

Trick of the trade

(This is a nod to the DefectiveYeti.com's on-going list, TradeTricks.org)

Last night, I had an especially chatty cabdriver taking me home from National airport (and I meant to say National, not "Reagan National." Those revisionists can take that moniker and shove it where the sun don't shine). He was asking me the usual - where I'd been, how my holidays were going, what were my New Year's plans - and volunteered that he was working on Friday night. I commented something along the lines of, "You must have to deal with a lot of drunks on New Year's Eve." He immediately started a litany of how many inebriated passengers have recently passed out in his cab. Normally, when he can't wake them, he has to call the cops, but he said he didn't like to do that because the cops could get a little rough with the passengers. (I know, shocking: DC's finest acting less than honorably? Never!).

But - getting to my point - he has an ace up his sleeve. When the passenger is stone-cold out, he rubs some Windex or window-wiper fluid - something with ammonia - on his fingers and holds them under the comatose nose. Nine times out of ten, the passenger bolts upright immediately.

And that's my holiday gift to you. Use it wisely this New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas in Malibu

Well, about 40 miles southeast, to be exact. Now, this is the way to celebrate the birth of our lord. My sister, brother-in-law, and I drove down to Seal Beach after braving the malls. It's gorgeous - mid-70s and sunny out - and we felt that the best reward for finishing our xmas shopping (yes, I do realize it's Christmas Eve. What's your point?) was to go to a cheap Mexican food joint and have some margaritas. Holy crap, folks, if you're ever in SoCal, head over to the Taco Shack on Main Street in Seal Beach. Pitchers of margaritas are $10, the salsa is to die for, and I'm thinking of heading back there before I leave for another round of their chicken flautas.

I realize that there are those who say that it would seem "weird" to have warm weather for the holidays, that xmas has to be saturated with snow and cold. They can have their frostbitten holiday. I prefer xmas in a place that has palm trees on every block and holds the possibility of heading down to the beach after opening up gifts.

Seasons greetings! I've got to get back to wrapping my presents.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The truth hurts

Got to my casa familia last night after many cramped hours in the plane and limping around airports (why does New Orleans smell like grease throughout every terminal? yuck). Everything's nicely decorated for the holidays and all cleaned up. I'm looking around, admiring the work my mom did, when my gaze stops. Something's different on the mantel.

The pictures of us kids have been taken down. In their stead is a shot of my mom's favorite cat. This guy has recently decided that he's a lap cat and will do tricks on command. Fucking brown-noser.

I pointed to the mantel and accused my mom of having a new favorite child. She hugged me, and said a bit guiltily, "But he's so cute!" Well, can't argue with that.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

California here I come

Sadly, I do sing that song to myself every time I'm California-bound. That and my elementary school fight song are carved deep into my psyche - ain't never gonna forget either of them.

(Hey - just realized that the obnoxious shoe commercial with the runner wreaking havoc all over a park features a song by the Beta Band. Bad Beta Band! Pick nicer commercials to sell out to!)

Anyways. Very much looking forward to hitting LA - not literally, please United Airlines - and defrosting. Even though I am a big lame-o who will have to do work-work while there. But it's going to be easier, now that my parents have a DSL connection. I'll be writing while stuffing my face with homemade cookies and knocking them back with my godfather's lethal eggnog. Seriously, the fumes from it alone can raise your BAC level to unacceptable heights.

Plus my dad taped last night's Amazing Race for me, so I can rush past my parents' open arms and plunk myself down in front of the set to find out what that crazy ending (according to my sister) exactly was. And, to top it all off, my sister has a copy of the latest Growing Pains family reunion movie for us to watch and mock. Should be a good visit.

Oh yeah, and seeing family/childhood friends/pets. That should be okay too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Urge to work...ebbing

I had about thirty really stressful things going on earlier. They got resolved, more or less, and now I really cannot make myself do anything work-related. Vacation starts right now! 45 minutes until I meet up with Hot Pants Esq. for drinks; 1hr 45 min until I meet up with the Raven gang for dinner and, most likely, the Raven; 21 hours until I fly toward warmer weather.

If I were the kind of person who was organized and efficient, I'd use this unwillingness to work time to clean up the blizzard of papers on my desk. Luckily, I'm not that kind of person, and even more fortuituously, I just found another funny blog (www.missdoxie.com) to read through the archives. Huzzah for the holidays!

This is kind of fun

I think I've found my calling. My friends ZFF and G&T are in Gay Paree right now and have been drunkenly texting me to settle bets and give recommendations on places to go. I've been getting their messages, looking up the information on the InterWeb, and texting them back. I feel like I've become one with Google.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bloody stumps

Sweet jesus am I in pain. It's all because of these bitches: http://www.zappos.com/n/es/d/722026786/c/13827/aff/125744.html. For those of you too lazy to click over, it's a pair of Donald Pliner "Space" sneaks. Mine are khaki/beige with a kicky racing stripe. They are very spiffy. Unfortunately, they are also made of leather. Meaning that they need to be broken in. Until that happens, I'll be leaving a trail of blood on all my socks. And I *wish* I was exaggerating.

This is why I waited so long to replace my other shoes, to the point where I had holes so big that all my socks were getting ruined from the rough pavement around my apartment. I knew, though, that if I showed up at my parents' house with holey shoes, my mom would have a fit and not let me into the house until I had an acceptable pair on. So I decided to be proactive and buy shoes before I got there. Off to the InterWeb I went.

My arches are higher than normal, which makes fitting into most shoes painful and guarantees me a life of calluses. Trust me, I know there are worse ailments to have. But sometimes it's so frustrating to search for a pair of shoes that won't cripple you, much less look attractive. And it's not even my predilection for high heels causing this. I have returned flats to Comfort Zone and Easy Spirit - two stores whose whole business model revolves on how comfortable their shoes are supposed to be - because they were poking holes in my poor feet.

Sidenote: Do NOT get me started on (male) people who jauntily claim that women wear painful shoes because they accept them and that it's merely the market reflecting demand. I opened a can of whup-ass on the last fool who said that to me.

Anyway, I am going to wear the Donald Pliners on Wednesday for my flight home, because my only other pair of cold-weather shoes are my boots and I'm fairly certain they'll set off the metal detectors. I don't think that the DPs have any metal in them. Guess I'll find out. Because there is no freaking way I'm taking them off to go through security - putting them on is the worst part and I'd just as soon not sob like a little girl in public. Cross your fingers for me.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The ubiquitous office holiday party post

Actually, while the office holiday party was as entertaining as these things can be MINUS CHEESE (seriously, what's up with that? the tables were groaning with shrimp, sushi, and salmon, but no cheese products of any variety. so sad), the open bar more than compensated for it. No one got obstreperous or anything. Pity. The party almost didn't happen because Kofi Annan was in the building for some event on the second floor and the caterers were having a rough time getting through security. They did finally prevail.

But it was afterwards that was noteworthy. One of our bigwigs, who is kind of well known in DC circles, wanted to move the party on to a nearby pub. My colleagues and I figured, who are we to say no? Heh. Since it was too early for a real bar to be open - for some reason, most people don't want to drink at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon - we went to Biddy O'Mulligan's, an "Irish" pub that's situated in a nearby hotel. So off we went. After a couple of hours and several beers later, the bigwig got up and left...without putting any money down or even offering to pay. We all looked at each other, like, did he give his money to *you*? No dice. So modest notoriety apparently doesn't buy you manners. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he thought that our organization was paying. But still.

Conveniently enough, Biddy had been chosen by some of my former classmates as the place to have a happy hour, so I bullied some people into sticking around until they showed up. Finally, by 7, I had to leave to meet with the Marine. I figured I could pay my portion of the bill and scurry home in time to greet him at the door. No luck. Every time I go to Biddy's, they dick me over, and this time was no different. Somehow, in the short distance between the credit card reader and my table, my debit card fell out of the little bill folder and slipped into the fourth dimension, because that sucker was GONE. Poof - it disappeared into thin air. So I'm on the phone with the Marine, trying to give him alternate directions to the bar so he can pick me up while at the same time routing through every square inch around my table to try to find my debit card.

I was so pissed, because while I have been known to accidentally leave my card behind at bars before, or have my card fall out of my pocket (what? you carry yours in your wallet? bully for you), or do something boneheaded that results in it leaving my possession, for once this was not my fault. And I'm leaving for LA next week, which means that I'd be debit-card-less until after my return and thus cash-less too. So I was not in the best of moods last night.

Happy ending to the story: Biddy's staff, who to their credit were quite apologetic about the whole incident, apparently kept searching for my card after I left and found it. It is under lock and key there, and I'll be swinging by after work tonight to pick it up. It still has ensured that I don't want to go there ever again. Some places just are cursed and Biddy's is one of them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It all comes back to the Simpsons

A reporter just called here from the Knoxville Journal. The whole time I was on the phone, I kept thinking of the Simpsons where Bart gets a fake ID and they decided to rent a car and drive to what they think is going to be the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee instead of going to Disneyland. Hee. "Knoxville, Knoxville!"

I want to stomp around my office

I think this crabbiness is a hangover from last night. Not that kind of hangover, I was well-behaved and only had three glasses of champagne at the French embassy's reception. But the Amazing Race had a truly disturbing ending, where the designated asshole of the bunch - Jonathan - got his wife so upset, she was in hysterics by the end of the leg. And he actually slapped her because he blamed her for their second place finish (keep in mind, this wasn't for the final $1 million prize - they still have around seven legs to go). I mean, I love judging people on how they misbehave in stressful situations (cough*Flo*cough), but that was really painful to watch. I almost wish that they had some sort of clause, a la the Real World, where if a contestant attacked another contestant, they'd get immediately ejected.

And - just to get this off my chest, and then I'll stop - but my god, the racism of some of the Amazing Race contestants. Kendra complained about the poverty in Dakar and commented that it was because "they keep on breeding." Rebecca made some snide remark on Goree Island (the casting-off point for many slave ships) that it was ugly and she could see why "so many people escaped this place." Er, sweetie, they didn't go under their own volition.

Okay, one more thing: seeing Gus continually sneaking drinks in the German beerhall was pretty funny. As was seeing Bolo eat bits from the RAW SAUSAGE LINKS that he was making.

Sigh. Today is filled with little annoyances - nothing major, but just enough to make me sulky. Puma, your website can rot in hell. Bank of America's website will be there to keep you company. And don't get me started on how Internet Explorer is keeping me on my toes by dumping me out of various windows every so often.

At least the KABS' zipper is magically staying up. No idea how that happened, especially since this weekend was nacho-riffic, but I'm not going to question it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Joyeux Noel

In November 1999, my friend WWLD and I decided to volunteer to work at the French embassy's Beaujolais Nouveau party. That's the celebration held every year when the new Beaujolais is unleashed upon the world, and about the only time that people will drink it, as most connoisseurs look down their noses at fresh wine (not me though - I'll drink pretty much anything).

At this party, we had to wear the fugliest purple t-shirts, which made us feel a bit like the help considering how everyone else was dressed up in their business finest. However, after hitting the Beaujolais table a couple of times, that stopped mattering. And then we started to feel sorry for the people who actually paid $60 to attend the party when we were there for free.

Our beat was the Orangina table, which seemed like something of a disconnect at first - who thinks of drinking fizzy orange-flavored water with wine? - but it turned out to be quite the palate cleanser, what with all the hors d'oeuvres and wine and pastries. Plus, since it was the two of us at our table, we could tag-team and send out a scout to investigate the various food tables while the other person "worked". We ate and drank the whole time; it was fan-tas-tic.

By the end of the party, we weren't even bothering to work the table but instead set out a bunch of Oranginas and let people have it. (Oddly, some party-goers thought that we worked for Orangina and asked us questions about the company. Like I give a rat's ass where Orangina is bottled.) At the close of the evening, when all the guests had left and it was just us help, they brought out all the leftover food, wine, and Evian bottles, and let us take home everything we could carry. Somehow in my inebriated state, I managed to get a 12-pack of Evian - these were the full-sized *glass* bottles, mind you - plus a couple of bottles of Beaujolais nouveau home. Why I opted to grab water instead of wine, I'm not sure.

I've since been to other Beaujolais Nouveau parties - last year's was particularly atrocious, where I brought home three CASES of Beaujolais Nouveau and couldn't unload them for love or money - but the French embassy's 1999 party stands out as the most fun.

And tonight I get to go to the French embassy again. This time, though, it's for a run-of-the-mill holiday party. Still, I am very excited about it. I'm attending ostensibly to network, but I plan to park myself next to the champagne table and leave only to refill my plate with more cheese. Maybe this time I won't cart anything off with me...but just MAYBE, I'm not making any promises here.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Where the hell is everyone?

Seriously: no emails, work OR personal, for hours. WTF? Not even spam. I feel so unloved. This has nothing to do with my desperate attempt to find something to do other than my big project. One can only stuff their face with animal crackers for so long before that option begins to fade as a viable time-wasting possibility. People, throw me a bone here already. Don't make me come over there!

UPDATE: Our work server just went down, reducing even more the chance of my getting any emails. Lord, why have you forsaken me?

The boss of me

Saturday afternoon I peeled myself out of bed in time for my long-awaited appointment with V., the best hair stylist EVER. Since she is the nicest person around, as well as being the best cut/colorist that I've run into, she was supportive about my finally getting bangs and was able to turn my vague instructions ("make it edgier") into something that exactly matched what I'd envisioned. [Sidenote though: she is the only stylist where I've felt safe going in sans pictures. Otherwise, follow the magazines' advice and always always ALWAYS bring pictures of what you want.]

The only thing is that I'm not used to working with bangs, as the last time I had them was during the Reagan era and I used to torture them into the puff that for some reason was popular at the time. V. told me I need to train the bangs to lie flat, and I cockily told her that I would show them who's the boss in no time. Um, that may have been premature. The damn things keep fluffing up. For inanimate objects, they are showing far too much independent spirit for my liking. Time for more pomade.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The happiest day of the year

No, not my birthday. Nope, not xmas. It's Intern Appreciation Day at the office, a day of celebration instigated by yours truly. I realize it ranks right above Administrative Assistant Week and below Festivus as a non-holiday, but still. It beats last summer's death by dessert, where I screwed up and got a cake for the first intern who left, not realizing what I was starting. 8 interns, eight cakes, and two months later, people were clutching their stomachs and accusing me of deliberating blindsiding their diets. So in my uber-authority as Intern Coordinator, I unilaterally decided that there would be ONE day, and one day only, of appreciating our interns. And today's the day.

(Special to G&T: I know you're reading this and thinking, Unnamed Organization is much better at treating their interns than when I was an intern there. Damn straight. Would that your intern coordinator had been as cool as me. But we still make our interns drive bigwigs around DC in the company van and do the dishes. Some things never change.)

Although: is this bad? A bunch of us oldtimers went out today for a looong lunch at Bistro du Coin, complete with a bottle of Cote du Rhone and far too many frites. And we left all the interns back at the office, where presumably they had their usual lunches of Top Ramen and the like. Was this contrary to the spirit of Intern Appreciation Day? Never mind, I know the answer.


While getting ready for work this morning, I was totally rocking out to Better than Ezra, who was playing live on DC101 to pimp their new CD and show at the 9:30 club tonight. I was bopping around, shaking my ass and overall scaring the hell out of my cat.

I used to really like Better than Ezra's music. Their salad days coincided with my undergrad years at UCLA. I would hole up in the North Campus eatery between classes with a 32-ounce cup of the blackest, most vile coffee known to man and copy over my notes while idling listening to the jukebox, which seemed to have Better than Ezra on constant replay. Good times. Dorky ones, but good nonetheless.

Does it help my indie cred that I'm going to see Le Tigre at the 9:30 club Sunday night? No, didn't think so. Once a square, always a square.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The House of Mirth

I admit, I was a pretty big X Files fan back in college. This largely was because of the presence of Foxxxy Mulder, but Scully was cool too. She was smart, didn't take any guff because of her gender/youth, and, like the famous line about Ginger Rogers, did everything Mulder did but in heels.

So when Gillian Anderson (aka, "Scully") starred in a movie version of "The House of Mirth," I was all over going to see it. Big mistake. It hit far too close to home. For those of you who, like me, had never read the book, here's the bare-bones plot: during the Victorian era, a 28-year-old woman ("Lily") struggles with her finances and sees her social stock decline until she overdoses on laudanum. Ends with Eric Stolz - sigh - stroking her face and crying. The whole story is really supposed to show how even intelligent, spirited women were broken by the way society was structured at that point, but really for me it was the money part that had me wincing. Not that I was heading toward a morphine-ridden end, but I also spent money like water and was constantly watching it flow away from me.

I don't know why, but I even bought and read the book, which was even worse. It's so sad! She tries so hard! Once, I spent an entire trans-Atlantic flight sobbing about poor Lily's plight. Even though I can't pick the book up again, I also can't make myself get rid of it (kind of how I feel about John Dollar. shudder).

In completely unrelated news, I have to go pay my bills now. I brought them in - reverse telecommuting, thankyouverymuch - so I could be wacky and get my mortgage payment in *before* it was due. Hell, I'll try anything once.

And for those of you who think that astrology is pure bunk, I give you this: yesterday, the Marine's cell phone got temporarily shut down because of problems with his account, which necessitated the immediate remittance of a whoppingly ginormous payment. Aaaand his horoscope yesterday said he'd have money problems. See? See? Oh, shut up.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Things I have done today instead of working on my project whose deadline is T-minus one week

* Read the paper. Checked my horoscope and that of the Marine. Hmm, he needs to watch his finances today. Guess I can't hit him up for dinner
* Visited my usual blogs (www.defectiveyeti.com) and diversionary websites (www.televisionwithoutpity.com)
* Got back as far as mid-July 2003 in the archives of my current fave blog, www.amalah.com. She has a pretty but husky Siamese kitty, who looks like he could take my chunky cat with one fell blow
* Had lunch with my grad school roommate, where we talked smack about our third roommate who is far, far more successful than I will ever be and a helluva nice guy besides
* Trapped my pregnant and vulnerable co-worker at her desk as I rambled on for half an hour about how great last night's episode of the Amazing Race was
* Had panic attack as I realized that I foolishly agreed to go to a holiday party at the French embassy next Tuesday and very likely could miss the next Amazing Race
* Calculated distance between the French embassy and my house, then started working on who in the DC area could be trusted to tape the Amazing Race
* Played with split ends as I stared at a blank screen
* Realized with a start that half an hour had gone by and I'd better get cracking
* Jumped into action and called my salon to make a long-overdue appointment for a haircut (I'm getting bangs! me so crazy)
* Cleaned out my hairbrush. Found only one stray cat hair
* Re-zipped pants for the gajillionth time
* Figured out why I sound like I'm wearing tap shoes: the heels of my boots, which are less than one month old, have worn off, exposing the nails for all the world to see
* Wondered why no one takes pride in their work any more
* Um, that apparently includes me

Sartorially challenged

Ever have one of those days where you cannot pull your shit together? I'm wearing a kick. ASS. black suit, which should be good enough for any curve balls thrown at me today. However. The KABS has opted to be difficult and give me zipper insecurity - namely, it keeps unexpectedly and quickly unzipping down the front. I'm starting to think that there might've been a reason why I got it for one-third of the original price.

This could be karmic retribution for my snarkyness in pilates class this morning. Usually I'm the one huffing and puffing and doing everything backwards. But today there were not one but two women playing that role. This allowed me to struggle through the workout, smug in the knowledge that for once it wasn't me stinking up the joint. Or at least it wasn't only me. Probably shouldn't go down the path of trying to figure out what sort of karmic retribution is headed my way, though, because if that actually happens, I should keep an eye out for an anvil falling out of the sky any minute now.

To sum: it's the salad for lunch. Damn you Hershey's miniatures!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The drug-free zone

I live in Adams-Morgan, which I understand used to be quite sketchy years ago but now settles for being gritty in spots. Apparently my particular location is one of them, despite the preponderance of signs proclaiming the hood to be a "drug-free zone". (I have the same reaction to that as I do to Takoma Park, DC's version of Berkeley, saying that they're a nuclear weapons free zone: is there any place that officially *isn't*?)

Knock wood, though, I've never been bothered by anyone, and I have bars on my windows, so I feel pretty secure in my living quarters. But of course at times it gets tiring having the street thugs congregate in your neighborhood, especially when they have yet another shouting match at 2am.

So I read with great interest the Washington City Paper's cover story for the Dec. 3-9, 2004, issue: "The Stoop at 1701 Euclid." http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/cover/cover.html. This is the house that always has about 30 people gathered outside and cars idling in front of it and has earned the moniker "24/7 party house." In fact, I often use it in giving directions to my place. While I've never officially seen drugs change hands on the corner, I'm very careful not to take a good hard look either. Recently the po-lice have been keeping a vigilant watch on things, shifting the fellas in their puffy jackets further down 17th street.

I wasn't aware that the corner was a family residence; I had been told by someone that it was a half-way house (there are some in the vicinity, as well as some public housing). So I did learn something from the City Paper's article. However, like many of their pieces, I thought that they were pushing an agenda. Their take was that people in the neighborhood want the family out because of pure and simple racism. While I'm sure that could be a possibility, I think it glosses over some real concerns about the corner. I'm glad to know that the family in question makes an effort to keep their lives separate from the goings-on outside. But the City Paper goes further and implies that activists are trying to get the family out mostly because of sheer spite. The one person they quote extensively on the matter is an anonymous person who talks about how some African-Americans only talk to their kids by screaming at them, and adds that Latinos aren't that clean either. Way to skew the story there, hard-hitting City Paper journalist!

I think a better take would have been to talk more about how the neighborhood has changed in the past five years and to contrast the new residents against the old, using the family at 1701 Euclid Street as the case in point. Gentrification and class conflict is going to be an increasingly important story, particularly if DC's real estate market keeps shooting through the roof and bringing in new blood to rub elbows with long-time residents. But by combining a report on genuine safety concerns about drug dealing with an illustration of possible racism on the part of neighborhood activists, you muddy up both stories and lose whatever power the pen is supposed to wield in these matters.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Riding the white horse

Er, that's the SUGAR white horse. My parents just sent me a care package at my office. In theory, it's to lure me to LA for the holidays (as if I needed an excuse to go somewhere warm). In actuality, it's stuffed full with candy, including an advent calendar. Love advent calendars, those rule! I remember when my uncle Zizzi used to send them to us every Thanksgiving - they officially started off the xmas season in my mind.

Anyways, included in this package is a book of recipes to replace the ones I threw out in a bit of overzealous cleaning this fall. Which was very nice of my parents to put together. It's divided up in sections, one of which is "cakes/cookies," while another is "desserts." This is pretty indicative of my family's outlook on food. I remember one time visiting some family friends and being shocked, SHOCKED that they didn't always serve dessert. Who wants to live like that?

Have you guessed that I'm so highly sugared right now my skin's crawling? I love the holidays.

A whole new world

One cool thing about dating people who are out of your normal social circles is that you get exposed to all sorts of new things, some good and some bad. Alors. Since the Marine is an enlisted officer, he has to live on the Marine barracks located in Southeast DC. Their metro is Eastern Market. As I have been informed several times over the past week, the Marines are older than the United States and thus the barracks are...230 years old? Something like that. Apparently they regularly make the lists of famous historical haunted places, something which I'm guessing isn't highlighted in the military's brochures.

The barracks look a lot like any college dorm, except for the massive locks on the cabinet doors in the rooms. Guess some people have sticky fingers. Although, to be honest, locks would've come in handy in the dorms. Also, every room has quite a few cans of sterilizing spray strewn around, something else which most dorm rooms should be equipped with too.

Saturday we ran a few errands, one of which took us to Full Metal Jacket, a military surplus store in Old Town Alexandria. The Marine wanted to sell a few things, so while he was negotiating with the store employees, I wandered around. GodDAMN military surplus clothing is cheap. They had lined winter coats available for $19. The second story of the store is all guns and ammo. At the risk of sounding naive, wow are guns expensive. The cheap hunting rifles were going for just under $1000. We didn't stay too long there because the whole place was giving me weird vibes. I think it's safe to say my worldview is vastly different from most of their typical shoppers. Plus everyone there was male, overweight, and unmarried - I could just imagine a weekend of paintball with the boys followed by, I don't know, an NRA social.

To cap off the day, we went to the PX to buy some booze. The Marines' PX actually sells Everclear. That shit is illegal in California, I was shocked to see it in a government store. We passed on that and got some middling-priced tequila instead (my fight with Jose Cuervo was long enough ago that I feel we can hang out again). Then we got some condoms, which were ridiculously cheap, but you can see the logic in that.

As I walked out of the PX, I thought, am I glad my mom can't see me now. I'm sure she'd be delighted to see her darling daughter hanging out on a Marine base, buying liquor and condoms. Klass-ee.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Pros and cons

* Am going to see my most favoritest band ever tonight: The Magnetic Fields at the Birchmere. Yay!

* Was introduced to this band by The Ex, which means at some point tonight am going to get weepy and blue. Boo!

* The Ex won't be there, but Young Buck Marine will be in attendance. Yay!

* They don't start until 10pm, and I think that's only the opening band. Which means a late night and a painful tomorrow, as I have to get up bright and early and take the train to NYC for a work event. Boo!

* Who the hell cares - in a few short hours, I'm going to see the Magnetic Fields! Hooray!!!


Richard Leiby, now the WashPost's gossip columnist, was imbedded with U.S. troops during the first phase of fighting in Iraq. He has a fascinating piece in the Nov. 23, 2004, issue of Salon.com about "The Day I Almost Led the Iraqi Army:"

Few Americans realize how hungry, at one time, Iraqi military men were for direction of any kind. When I showed up in their midst a month after the Saddam statue fell, they started asking me - the only American most had probably ever seen except in combat - how they could get their message of cooperation to Garner.

It's so depressing to see how badly we fucked up, especially given how it's increasingly looking like we're going to wash our hands of the whole mess. For the whole piece, go to http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/112404L.shtml

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Change frightens me

No, seriously, it does. For being such a (relatively) young person, I find it quite discombobulating. I was desolate for weeks when The Economist switched type fonts.

So walking into Baja Fresh today and finding out that they've rearranged their menu board...not a happy camper. They did add some stuff to their menu - I enjoyed a delish lime chicken salad for lunch - but they took away the calorie counts for their food items, something which I appreciated and actually used from time to time. To add to the ignomy, they claim to be undergoing a tomato shortage due to hurricanes...somewhere, I forget, and thus pico de gallo can only be gotten by specifically asking for it. What up with that? How is it that this tomato shortage has not manifested itself elsewhere? I bet they're trying to stick it to their customers. Much like the "temporary" increases in DC cab fares in response to gas prices, I fear this will be a permanent part of my life. It's all a conspiracy. C-O-N-Spiracy!