Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

My cell phone is plotting against me - UPDATE

That's the only explanation for its continued obstinance in randomly calling people. You don't know mortified until you've looked down at your bag while swilling back drinks during happy hour and realized that your phone has opted to call a work contact. I should start number-locking my cell phone, but that would slow down my already lame ability to respond to its ringing, and we can't have that. Instead, I've deleted all non-social phone numbers from the cell's list, so that I can at least do damage control when it decides to independently start dialing numbers again.

I hate this cell phone. It doesn't work when I'm more than three feet from a window, I can only dream of using it on the metro, and don't get me started on its ability to unerringly drop a call during a crucial moment.

The only reason why I keep this service - which I won't mention by name, but Catherine Zeta-Jones certainly doesn't have a problem in doing so - is that you can use it abroad. That's suprisingly handy. Also unsurprisingly expensive. Last year, when I was on vacation in Malta, calling the States cost $2.99/minute. But of course no price is too much for keeping in contact with the ones you love, right? Wrong. I called my then-boyfriend every day for 5-10 minutes, largely because I am an idiot. When he rather spectacularly and unexpectedly dumped me a few weeks later, salt was added to the wound by the arrival of a cell phone bill for $200+ from the period when I was in Malta. Not that I am still bitter or anything.

UPDATE: Hot Pants Esq. reports that my phone apparently read this post and decided to up the ante. Previously, when it's rung people, it did so because it got jostled while I was walking. Not this time. Yesterday, it called her - while it was sitting, motionless, at my desk.

Okay, bitch, this is war.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mind yer own beeswax

I realize that many people subscribe to the whole "it takes a village" mentality, but only when it comes to opining about other people's pregnancies, not when it comes to paying taxes for the little darlings' schools or the like. My co-worker who is eight months pregnant reported that at lunch today, the local hot dog cart vendor, who is normally a very nice man, refused to sell her soda on the grounds that "it will make the baby bald." Um, what? And aren't most babies relatively short on hair anyways?

My friend WWLD, who is possibly the most bad-ass person I know, stopped going out while pregnant because people kept coming up to her and ominously commenting, "I *hope* that all you're drinking is water." I like to think I would have flicked it in their faces and said, "You tell me," but that's probably just daydreaming on my part.

I know as someone who hasn't given birth, I can't even begin to imagine the pressures that a pregnant woman goes through. But one time, I was getting a pedicure with friends. The three of us were sitting in a row, chatting about who knows what, and somehow pregnancy came up. I mentioned that later in your pregnancy, you actually can drink a very leetle bit - everything in moderation, as they say - and the woman doing my pedicure got LIVID. She immediately started lecturing me about how everything I put in my body is transmitted to the fetus and how could I possibly do anything to taint that. Big words, I thought, for someone who clearly had had breast implants. I let it drop, though, as she was wielding some pretty big clippers and clearly had no qualms in using them to illustrate her point.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The great outdoors

So I hiked the Appalachian Trail (or AT, as those in the know call it) this weekend. Okay, maybe not all of it. Maybe a couple hundred yards of it, if you’re going to get picky about these things.

A friend had asked me if I wanted to go hiking in the Shenendoah. I agreed, but only on one condition: flat terrain. My friend gamely agreed and true to his word, found a stretch of a couple miles that was about as flat as you can hope for in the middle of a mountain range. Along that bit we managed to converge on the AT for a brief while. Check one more thing off my list to do before I die.

Bill Bryson is nuts, by the way, to have actually set out to hike the whole thing. I realize I sound very city mouse but that much greenery is unsettling. And if I ever lucked into six months off from work, hiking would be one of the last things I’d want to do with my windfall.

Didn't take long

While listening to Spinner.com's "New Indie First," I heard a song by a band called "Blue States." Not a bad song, but I'm not sure how much longer the band name will be relevant. Or at least I hope it won't be relevant for that much longer.

Friday, March 25, 2005

London calling

Today DC is grey, with a misty dampness that reaches down into your bones and installs the chills there. I wore my coat for an hour after I got back from lunch. One of my co-workers remarked that it is a very Londonesque sort of day. I would have to agree, except that for me, my strongest memory of London is of the first time I went, when it was unbe-fucking-lievably hot.

Oddly, even though I'd lived in Europe for a year and traveled fairly extensively during and after my sojourn there, I'd never made it to jolly olde England. I figured that I'd end up going there at some point and thus didn't need to make it a priority. This turned out to be the case. In the summer of 2003, a bunch of us who regularly take vacations together rented a house in Cornwall. It had been described to me as the "surfers' paradise" portion of England, which sounded highly suspect. I mean, who thinks of surfers in conjunction with the British isles, aka "the cold wet rock in the North Sea" (tm ZFF)?

Actually, though, that description was accurate. We happened to be in Cornwall when that enormous heat wave hit Europe, which meant that while everyone else was sweltering, we were delightedly walking around in beautiful 75 degree weather.

Until we got to London. We had tickets to fly in and out of London, and we had planned on spending the weekend there before heading back to the States. BIG MISTAKE. We arrived in time for the peak of the heat wave. The Sunday we were there, it was 100 degrees - the hottest temperature in London in the 350 years they'd been keeping track. Oh dear god, it was dreadful. London is most definitely not set up for anything above the high 60s. Our hotel room had zero air circulation and of course didn't have air-conditioning (to be fair, few places did), so we'd wake up hot and sticky and just miserable. Then you'd try to take a shower and have to wash yourself with super-hot water as all the cold water was gone. That Sunday, all of us were so crabby and out-of-sorts, we're lucky no one came to blows. Then we tried walking around various stores on Oxford Street, thinking that maybe they'd have air-conditioning. A few did, but more did not. At one point, J-Dawg and I sat down and paid $4 for a Pepsi solely because the place was offering ice. Then you think, the hell with this, I'm going to cool off with a nice cold beer from the pub, and of course they'd serve you room-temp beer and you'd want to cry.

I realize that complaining about the heat is a bit rich, coming from someone who grew up in southern California, but the difference is key: LA is set up for the heat. London most definitely is not. Fans? Air-conditioning? Ice? London might want to look into them. They greatly enhance the quality of life.

Other than suffering from a mild form of heat prostration, London was great. I've been back three times since and liked it more and more every time. And Cornwall was a blast too. In fact, the name of this blog comes from a mug I got from St. Michael's Mount. I would go again - just not when it's so blisteringly hot.


Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post is always collecting aptonyms, or names of people that appropriately describe their line of work. Today at lunch I heard two doozies, both from the same co-worker. The first was the doctor who delivered his baby: Dr. Gerber. The second - and far superior - was the doctor did his wife's nasal cavity surgery: Dr. Pickens. The latter has had me snickering off and on for the better part of an hour now.

I thought that with age came wisdom. I guess maturity trails behind even that.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Unclear on the concept

Last night, I met up with my friend La Bomba for a few quick drinks at Chi-Cha's, this restaurant/bar near my house that has a very cool vibe. It's one of those places with all mismatched couches, is lit up entirely by red lanterns (I actually fear for the employees' eyesight - that can't be good for them), and, Sunday through Wednesday, has a live trio playing bossa nova or Gipsy King covers in the corner. The owners are Peruvian, so they have some tasty tapas.

Even better is that they offer shisha, or fruit-flavored tobacco pipes. However, I think they're rather unclear on the concept of sanitation. Always, always, ALWAYS you are offered a plastic mouthpiece to put over the pipe, as it's passed from person to person, table to table. When I was in Syria, they used plastic mouthpieces religiously, and they should know.

Yet every time I go to Chi-cha's, I have to go through this huge song and dance routine to get my own mouthpiece, and last night was no different. I take it back - it was worse than usual. Often, the server will roll her eyes at my request for my own mouthpiece, as if that three-cent piece was going to come right out of her pocket. Last night they weren't giving mouthpieces out to *anyone*. According to the server, these pipes being passed all around were still sanitary. How exactly? Were they boiling them in bleach for fifteen minutes between each use? Because if not, HELL NO was I going to use one.

In fact, La Bomba made friends with the guys at the next table (she stole my imaginary boyfriend in the process, but there are other fish in the sea). When they left, the brought over what was left of their shisha for us to use. Nice gesture, but not for love or money would I put my mouth on that pipe (dirty! hee).

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Just got in from back-to-back meetings. My feet, hair, and pants are all *soaked* from the rain. This weather reminds me of the day the war started two years ago. It was very similar - pissing down rain, icy winds howling about, umbrellas blowing inside-out. Work was nuts and I remember I had to leave for an interview. I arrived at the TV station just bedraggled. Then I came back and found out that the Chinese deliveryperson forgot my lunch. Am still kinda bitter about that. Good thing I don't hold grudges, right?

Oh well, at least today I don't have a raging headache. Yesterday I could not focus at all and finally gave up around 3. I went home and took a nap, then went to bed early. That was much-needed, particularly since I wasn't getting a goddamned thing done at the office. I couldn't be bothered to speak to anyone on the phone. The one time I accidentally picked up a call, the woman would not. stop. talking. and it took me 10 minutes to get her to agree to email me her question. Some days voicemail is your best friend.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

Yesterday, in the weekly call to the 'rents, my mom suddenly handed the phone off to my dad, explaining that her pizza was just about ready to be eaten. I hear my dad ask her, "Did you tell her about the pizza?" He then goes on to inform me that when my mom opened up the frozen pizza, they found a coupon that EXPIRED in November 2001. It only makes sense that the pizza and the coupon are of at least the same age, and you know those coupons are generally good for at least a year or so. So we're looking at a frozen pizza that has to be approaching its fifth birthday.

Now, most people would think twice about consuming such an aged food product. Not my mom. I haven't called back to see if she survived her lunch or not. I'm putting my money on yes, as they pump these things so full of chemicals that they could probably survive a direct nuclear blast.

And people wonder why I can't seem to throw out food. Your upbringing asserts itself in the damnedest ways.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Tap tap tap. This thing on?

Just checking.

So. Obligatory hungover post-St. Patty's Day post. Usually I swear off going near a bar on March 17 (also May 5) because of all the drunken amateurs. However, last night I was bullied - okay, maybe I was the bully. Really, in today's workaday world, who needs to apportion blame? - into going to Club Heaven for their much-loved 80s night. The thing that sealed the deal was that I had the trivia answer that would allow free entry. Thanks again, ZFF! I owe you. The doorman at Heaven, though, always acts like I'm ripping food out of his kids' mouths by getting in sans payment. Jesus, I drink my weight in alcohol once I'm there, it's not like the club is losing money on this. And, as always, even though I intended to stay "just for a little while," soon enough the Spandau Ballet's "Blue" was playing, the lights were coming back on, and it was time to go home.

One thing I did notice at Heaven was that, at one point, I was heads and shoulders above everyone on the dance floor. I'm really not that tall, but damn, it was a like a Munchkin gathering. Washington has its share of short-ish men (I like to blame it on the Napoleon complex that drives a huge chunk of this city), so it's not like I'm not used to it, but this was ridiculous. My friends noted it too. Our theory is it's something in the water supply. Then we started talking about how obesity may end up shortening the average American's lifespan and got into a really wonky discussion about it. While on the dancefloor. So I guess I belong in DC after all.

I haven't been yet, but I must admit I'm intrigued. The Common Share, aka "the Common Scare", has morphed into a chicken and waffles place. But they still serve beer? I'm confused. I don't know why they had to mess with their formula. Any place that has $2 beers and plenty of Boddingtons doesn't need to change a thing. Still, I do like chicken and waffles, albeit I usually eat them in entirely different meals. But that doesn't mean they *couldn't* be good together. I've seen places that serve them in LA, so someone's got to like the combo.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The siren call of the automotive vehicle

I love driving; I love riding in cars; I even love road trips that consist of heading to Target and back. One of the most peaceful moments in my life was driving down Pacific Coast Highway toward Huntington Beach (yes, I grew up near the O.C., and no, my high school experience wasn't nearly that exciting) at night. With the wind in your hair, good music on the radio, and the smell of the ocean...nothing better.

Which makes it kind of ironic that these things are denied to me. I let my driver's license expire, god, four years ago, and I haven't been able to drive since. It's just a matter of sheer laziness, but I don't really need to drive in DC. In fact, my neighborhood is damn near impossible for parking, so it's probably just as well that I am a pedestrian.

Still, I miss having that as an option. There's something so liberating about setting out on the open road. Plus, it frees you from the tyranny of public transportation. I hate how errands that would take maybe an hour, tops, if I had a car, can take the better part of the weekend if I'm metro-ing it. When I go to visit my family in LA, it's like I'm 15 again. I have to beg my parents for rides to the video store and make complicated pick-up arrangements for when I want to do anything social. Luckily, I have very patient friends who are willing to trek out to the burbs to haul my lazy ass around.

Because I do recognize the need for it, I have made some half-hearted attempts to get my license. I took the learner's permit written test - got 100 percent, thankyouverymuch - and then let it expire before I could schedule a behind-the-wheel test. Keep in mind that these learner's permits are good for a year. After that happened, I vowed I'd buckle down and become a driver again. So I took the learner's permit written test, got 100 percent again (I'm so smart) (also, a monkey could pass it with little difficulty) ...and then let it expire. AGAIN.

What really irks me is that I know not one but TWO people who have gone into the DC DMV for walking-around IDs and come out with drivers' licenses. Does that happen for me? No, it does not. Stupid system - why can't you let me fall through the cracks too?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

First John Bolton at the UN, now this

It would seem that Paul Wolfowitz, neocon extraordinaire and major schemer for the war in Iraq, is the United States' choice to run the World Bank. Are we just trying to piss off our allies who didn't join the "coalition of the willing?" What is up with the big fuck-you's we've been giving multilateral organizations these days? Well, I do understand that's how the Bush administration functions, but damn. At least try to be a little less obvious about the whole thing.

I feel slightly guilty by association about Wolfowitz too: back in the day, he was the dean of my school. I never schmoozed with him at "breakfast with the dean" or anything like that, but still. Some taints just don't come off that easily. The only real interaction I ever had with him was once when he almost ran me over. He was ripping along a back alley that opened up on 17th St. I was crossing the driveway and he stopped...just in the nick of time. He looked almost as startled as I was. His car was a shiny cherry red Blazer. Should've known from that purchase that this is man who chooses style over substance.

I realize this has been done to death, but wow - it's going to be a long four years. Just when you think it can't get any worse...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Good news/bad news

Good news: Contrary to what I'd believed, my heater is not about to blow. Lately it's been letting off this acrid smell every time I used it. In fact, last night I slept with my coat, cell phone, and keys on the bed, and instructed my cat to stick close in case we had to evacuate.

Let me tell you, the fastest way to get a repairperson to your house is to say these two little words: "electrical burns." I called at noon and had a guy scheduled to come at 1PM. Turned out it was an effect of my overly-dirty filter. Once again, my shoddy housekeeping skills come back to haunt me.

Bad news: My heater has been deemed a museum piece and is on its last gasps. Which means I could be in the middle of a lovely DC summer, when it's 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity, and it could opt to stop working. And new ones don't come cheap - a replacement would take an entire paycheck. So most people would start putting money aside for the inevitable. Not me though. I'm going to just stick my fingers in my ears - LALALA, I can't hear you - and hope for the best.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Obviously I felt that the pilates story was so fascinating I had to tell it twice. Stupid blogger - let me delete an entry already!

Only in DC

When I arrived at my pilates class this morning, I was puzzled by the appearance of orange and brown tape all over the studio's floor. I thought they looked rather like actor's marks, but I couldn't figure out what we were supposed to do with them. Seeing the confused expression on my face, my teacher pointed to the signs on the mirror. Apparently because some of the classes were getting crowded, there's a whole new rule set on how and where we place our yoga mats. That is such a typical DC, type-A response.

Granted, I'm no expert, but instituting a rules regimen seems to be against the spirit of yoga. Aren't we supposed to flow with the universe, not struggle against it? Luckily, my pilates teacher is something of a renegade, thinks the tape marks are a stupid idea, and didn't make us line up like showgirls.

BTW: Did anyone see "Arrested Development" last night? It's no spoiler to say that there's been a sub-plot lately about a seal. (That's as in the amphibious mammal, not the singer.) There's this one pilates move called "the seal." While I was attempting (and not really succeeding) to complete the move this morning, I kept flashing back to the show and setting myself off on barely-concealed giggle fits. I love "Arrested Development." Who'd have thought Jason Bateman would be doing such sterling work? Er, not that his previous efforts with "Silver Spoons" and "Teen Wolf II" weren't, um, good too.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Alas poor Yorick, I hardly knew ye

Actually, it's my Economist screensaver who has passed on. As it were.

When my computer gave up the ghost this week, I got a shinier, speedier, zippity-zoo-dabbier hard drive. It makes hitting alt-tab that much more satisfying when someone comes in while I'm web-surfing, but it has required much in the way of tweaking my set-up. I've been able to resurrect most of my other programs, but my Economist screensaver is no longer available (and yes, I've got a letter into the company bitching about it).

I feel oddly bereft by this. On one hand, for god's sake, it's just a screensaver. On the other, it was a pretty cool one that had a spinning globe (and assorted time zones around the world) which would stop on some random country and spit out its stats. I've had that on every computer I've worked on since I started the whole 9-to-5 thing and it was a reassuring bit of constancy in an imperfect world.

One thing that guys and guys ONLY commented on: the male-to-female ratio for every country. Yes, I get it, you guys are outnumbered. Bully for you.

I'm trying to look at this in a glass-half-full sort of way. Instead of sulking about it like the immature brat that I am, I'm going to take this chance as a way to find an even cooler screensaver. So. Um. Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Gamers beware

From defensetech.org (http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001426.html): Apparently, the Israeli armed forces are looking askance at any applicants who played D&D in their youth. They see them as "detached from reality and susceptible to influence," and automatically give them low security clearances. Ha. I may have been a dork in high school, but at least I never did this. Although I must admit I enjoyed the cartoon, "Dungeons and Dragons," but largely because I had a crush on the Thor-like youth who led the gang. Hey, I was like eight.

Thinking about it, though, the IDF is really shooting itself in the foot with this policy. As it were. Gamers are the ones who are familiar with computer systems, and in today's high-tech military, aren't those the kinds of people you should be recruiting?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay

Last night, on my plane back from Toronto, the pilot's name was George Clinton. It kept me entertained, although I think I was the only one. Hey, I'm an easy audience.

So the radio silence over the past couple of days has two root causes:

1) My computer got hit by a massive virus, causing it to go into a shame spiral and render itself useless. Which meant it had to be replaced (and don't me started on how I have to reconfigure the damn settings).

2) The timing was pretty fortuitous as I had an overnight work trip to Toronto planned. So, off I went. Just in time to leave DC when it was in the 60s.

It was a surreal visit, as I was flown up to Toronto to speak at a meeting that was being beamed to people in DC. Why didn't I just stay at home and speak live? The world may never know. I'm never one to turn down a free trip, though.

I'd never been to Toronto before. It's a very cool city - literally and figuratively. The area around my hotel had a ton of cool lil boutiques and le sex shoppes. Plus all sorts of different kinds of foods. Loved all the (art deco?) architecture, too. And Canadians really ARE nicer than the average bear.

What I couldn't wrap my head around was the cold. No, check that: I couldn't wrap my head around the way the locals were handling it. The first night I got there, an arctic wind was blowing off the lake and it was drizzling slightly. I went out in search of food. I passed a donut shop that had an outdoor patio. Keep in mind it's damp and dark and icy out. There were not one but two groups of people shooting the shit at the outdoor tables. I thought maybe they were homeless or had dogs or something. Nope.

And then yesterday, when it was in the teens but had a windchill far below that, I was of course all bundled up. I noticed that no one else was wearing a hat, and in fact many people didn't even have their jackets buttoned up. What the fuck?

Btw: I don't subscribe to the theory that cold weather builds character. Yeah, that's something you cold climate people tell yourself. Me, I'd rather be shallow and warm.

All in all, I'd like to go back when I have more time. I wish, however, that there could be some way of doing that without visiting the airport. Everyone kept telling me how atrociously arranged Toronto's airport was and to give myself plenty of time to get through all its security hoops. Everyone always says that about their airport - it's like how everyone always brags about how their city's drivers are the worst - so I didn't take those warnings seriously. I should have. Oh dear god. What a clusterfuck of an airport. SEATAC, I humbly apologize. You are not indeed the worst airport in the world.

And I don't know if saying this will ensure me a beat-down from the Royal Mounties, but Molson beer? Not the life-altering experience I'd expected, based on the way my Canadian friends have rhapsodized about it. I didn't go to Tim Horton's for that exact reason: I figured I didn't want to burst too many fantasies in one trip.

Friday, March 04, 2005

My kingdom for a nap

On days like today, I truly miss the set-up I had at the defense contractor's. I had my own office and company policy (due to the nature of our bidness) directed that you had to work with your office door closed. So I would often close the door, turn off the light, and catch some shut-eye on the floor. I never got caught, which shows how high-paced and important that job was.

Here, I do have my own office, but the door is glass so napping is a no-no. The office next to mine is temporarily empty and dark and oh-so-peaceful looking. If I had to stay here much longer, I might just go sleep in there. But as it is, I'm taking off in a little over an hour (Friday much?). I have to come in this weekend to prepare for a business trip I'll be taking next week so I figure, what the hell.

Sidenote: I am now down to one suit that is not in tatters. I'm wearing my favorite today but, alas, it no longer qualifies as being in one piece. I was outside earlier and saw something out of the corner of my eye come down near me. I thought it was bird shit. Instead, it was something much, much worse. Some asshole had flicked their cigarette and burned a hole in the back of my left leg. You know, I am the friendliest non-smoker you'll run into: I truly don't care if people smoke around me, I think that the whole smoking ban in bars thing is ridiculous, and so on. But I keep having run-ins with strangers' lit cigarettes. Give me emphysema? Fine. Burn my clothes? That's where you cross the line, buster.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Just because a consumer product claims its contents can be sprayed on wrinkled clothing and remove the need for ironing, doesn't make it so. One painfully honest assessment in the bathroom mirror illustrates this mercilessly.

I remember back when I first entered the 9 to 5 world. I was so anxious to make a good impression and look "professional," whatever that means, that I would get up half an hour earlier than normal just so I could re-iron creases into my pants. My manicure was always perfect. And I religiously used a tape-roller on all my suits to get rid of stray cat fur. Now, well, my co-workers are lucky if I manage to wash my hair before stumbling into the office.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A call to arms

InterWeb, I need your help on figuring out a movie reference. Last night, as we were discussing which topping to have on our pizza, Z-Ditty commented that the last time she got pizza from this one place, the delivery guy was really hot. Festivo remarked that we should ask for anchovies on top. We both looked at him, like, what the hell does that have to do with anything? Apparently there was this one movie back in the 1980s, possibly with Kate Jackson, where if you requested anchovies for your pizza, that meant you really wanted a little somethin somethin on the side with the delivery guy.

The more I think about this, the more it sounds like a porn plot, but Festivo swears up and down it was an actual movie and that he and his friends used to joke about it all the time.

So. Does this ring a bell with anyone? I did a google search but came up with bupkiss. (I did find out that a disturbing amount of gamers loooove to have anchovy pizza before bedtime).

I'm clueless, but this does answer the question of why anyone would ever ruin a perfectly good pizza with an order of anchovies. Nasty salty fish.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


So very excited - tonight is the *two-hour* premiere for the best show ever, The Amazing Race. We enter the 7th season with what appears to be a trip to Peru. Cannot wait! I am going to watch it at a friend's house, but said friend has been fully informed of TAR viewing rules: no talking unless you're discussing TAR strategy or mocking the contestants; no phone calls; and no leaving until they show scenes from next week's TAR. The only flexibility I allow is text-messaging, but that's only if it's TAR-related. Think I'm kidding? Try me. Go on, give me a ring during TAR. I will rip you a new one and not even think twice.

Odd how few people will watch TAR with me, isn't it. It's a mystery.