Sunday, May 31, 2009

The JDate Disaster: My $120 Mistake

Back in December, I was feeling slightly sad & single. Like many sad, single folks around the holiday season, I began to lament my singledom & as a result fell prey to an offer from JDate.com, the Jewish dating website, which is fairly popular (though I use that term loosely) among Jewish young professionals, especially in big cities. Anyway, they offered a "one week free" special over Chanukah, & I took the bait.

But then I remembered a few things:
A) Online dating is lame.
B) I personally confirmed that online dating is lame by going on one JDate date last summer; it was a huge bust.
C) I hate small talk, which is an online dating staple.
D) Most guys on JDate are schmucks. Or I am a schmuck.
E) And so on & so forth, all the way through the alphabet.
Thus, I opted not to renew my "subscription" to JDate, if you can even call it that, canceling the auto-renew function, which is a bullshit function to begin with. I didn't think about or log in to JDate again for months.

In April, I logged into JDate again & was surprised to find that the email feature worked (one that's only available to paying members). Figuring it must be a glitch, I utilized it to read old messages random Jew-boys had sent me, & then I didn't log in to JDate again. Now, a month later, I still haven't.

Now, I've certainly heard JDate horror stories before, but they typically involve sketchy boys & bad sex. This, however, is a nightmare of a different variety: Today, I spotted a $39.99 charge on my debit card. The money-taker? Why, JDate, of course! I immediately put in a call to corporate, where I was told that because I logged into my account in April & didn't call to ask why I had access to premium features, I wasn't eligible for a refund of any more than one month.

After much anger on my part & much patronization on the part of Amanda, the JDate supervisor I spoke with, I haggled my refund up to two months. But:
A) That's not good enough. They should at least refund me until I first logged into JDate in April.
B) This is highway robbery. It was clear to them I had no idea I'd been subscribed to their services for five months.
C) This woman literally played into every nasty stereotype about Jews & money, but I couldn't bring myself to say so.

I'm going to call back tomorrow to speak to someone else about getting the third month back, someone who I haven't already lost my cool on. I requested that they cancel all my JDate affiliations, deleting my account in its entirety, & I have now committed myself to proclaiming the ills of JDate to every single Jew I've ever met. Either maintain a free account or go out & meet some people in real life: Do NOT give these jerks your credit card information!

And yes, I realize that the OTHER moral of this story is that I should monitor my bank statements better. As JDate Amanda so kindly reminded me, "It's your own responsibility to keep track of your financial activity." Thanks, Mom. Actually, even my mom wasn't that obnoxious when I told her the story. But you can bet I'll be keeping a much closer eye on my meager finances from now on, lest JDate or any other auto-renew criminals try to pull one over on me again.

If only I could put as much passion into trying to find my besheret as I have into being furious with JDate...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Look, Ma! I Can Cook!

All right, blogosphere. I've been pretty late in making this announcement, initially because I was too afraid of jinxing my rickety plans. And then I didn't blog about it because I was too busy being busy executing the plans. And now, as I sit in a t-shirt & my underwear on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the plans have been successfully carried out, there's nothing left to jinx, I'm clearly not busy &, therefore, it's announcement time.

I MOVED!

As you all know, I've lived since October 2007 in an apartment that lacks a kitchen, something I mention at every opportunity possible (like here, here, here, here & here). I've spent 19 months draining pasta cooked in a hot pot into the toilet, a fact of which I'm not exactly proud - except a little, because hey, that's resourceful. Still, it made for difficult when I considered entertaining.

Now, though, the wait & the complaints are over: I HAVE A KITCHEN!

Do you hear the angels singing?

I'm still living in a studio, but this one's got a little kitchen off to one side - including a real kitchen sink! So what have I done to break in my long-awaited luxury? Cooked, of course!

On day one, as I waited for my friends to come help me move my furniture in, I whipped up pesta pasta with chipotle meatballs, my very first dish in the new place:


Final product, with the meatballs only slightly charred:


But I didn't have any furniture yet, so I had to eat it balanced on my knees as I sat on the floor. Classy!


That pasta lasted my the next couple of days, saving me lunch money & keeping me content. Yesterday, I finally went on my first I-have-a-kitchen grocery shopping spree, for which I actually used a shopping cart, despite knowing that I'd have to carry home everything I purchased:


After carrying home at least 25 pounds of groceries & nearly tearing my arms off my body from the weight of the grocery bags, I got to work baking these:


I haven't made cupcakes for... well, I don't know that I've ever made cupcakes, actually, so I wasn't sure how high to fill the muffin tins full of batter. As soon as I popped them in, I began to fear they'd bubble over the edges, causing a lemonade cupcake explosion in my brand new oven. A Twitter follower suggested that "Lemon Cupcake Explosion" might make for a nice all-girl punk-pop band name.



Alas, they did not explode, & I frosted them happily. The end result? Strawberry lemonade cupcakes that I've had to force myself not to eat as they wait to be taken to a friend's birthday BBQ.

And finally, not done testing out my culinary acumen, I created some vegetarian quesadillas for lunch/dinner. These, too, have carried over into leftovers that have made me quite happy this afternoon:


It's safe to say I've caught the cooking bug. If you've got an beginners recipes I can try out, shoot me an email at suburbansweetheart@gmail.com.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Vodka Monologues (Or "The Great Stoli/Smirnoff Caper")

Stoli or Smirnoff? That was the major question at hand tonight, as I sat around a table at Ben's Next Door for a friend's birthday. (Side note: The restaurant is owned by Rock Harper, winner of Hell's Kitchen, & is next door to DC's iconic Ben's Chili Bowl).

Birthday Boy Jake brought along an eclectic group of celebrators. My coworker & his childhood friend; his college pal, from here on known as Vodka Girl, or VG, clad in a shredded beater & a white blazer; his roommate, unironically sporting a sparkly silver bowler; & a 40-something guy who may or may not have been the roommate's boyfriend.

I was pretty busy watching the final quarter of the Cavs/Magic game, but I tuned back in to the table's conversation when I noticed that VG was yelling about something - namely, about vodka. She'd ordered two raspberry Stolis & soda but was fairly insistent that she'd instead been served raspberry Smirnoff & soda, which she apparently felt to be a near-criminal offense. In a rather high-pitched voice, VG went on quite the vodka-comparing tirade, insisting that Smirnoff is bottom of the barrel & that it's absolutely distinguishable from Stoli. All attempts to convince her otherwise or to inject any doubt into her argument were promptly trampled.



She flagged down our waitress & asked whether the drinks were, indeed Stoli; our waitress responded that they were. When VG told her they tasted like Smirnoff, the server laughed & said she'd look into it, taking drinks with her. The table agreed that her willingness to investigate insinuated that she knew the cocktails did not contain the Stoli she initially claimed they did.

When she returned a few minutes later, she was carrying two drinks. Setting them in front of VG, she said, "These are raspberry Stoli." Contented, VG began drinking, exclaiming, "The difference is so clear. These taste so much better," re-launching into her apparently-unfinished vodka-comparison tirade.

Now, VG assumed the waitress' statement meant that these were two new drinks containing raspberry Stoli. It was, however, abundantly clear to at least four of the other five of us that they were the exact same drinks as before - the waitress just returned them & confirmed their contents. How did we know this? Well, for starters, as Sparkly Bowler Guy pointed out, the limes in each drinks were pre-squeezed, which isn't something bartenders do - but it IS something you do before you sip your own drink, as VG did before dipping into her initial cocktails, the ones accused of being Smirnoff.


So as she went shrilly on & on & on & ON about the many differences between pedestal-worthy Stoli & not-worthy-of-being-used-for-rubbing-alcohol Smirnoff, her arguments became less & less salient, especially knowing that she was drinking the exact same drinks as before & seeing the results she clearly wanted to see - & basically making things up. It was akin to that old college party trick where you secretly serve nonalcoholic party punch to a sorority sister & watch as she gets sloppy "drunk" & hits on everyone in the room.

Umm... Placebo effect, anyone???

Triumph Over My Gag Reflex

Most who know me in person are acquainted with my most prominent (& messiest) nervous habit - vomiting prior to public speaking engagements. This became particularly problematic last year, when I took on a job that required me to teach high schoolers on a semi-regular weekend basis. I chucked at least once per weekend. The one weekend I didn't, I instead got legitimately ill & vommed into the bushes outside the Jefferson Memorial. Awesome, I know.

Tonight, I was asked to give the d'var Torah at erev Shavuot services hosted by Tikkun Leil Shabbat, a local, lay-led havurah, which I realize makes zero sense to many of my readers. Basically, it's a traveling hippie synagogue for Jewish 20- and 30-somethings living in DC. They meet in different locations around the city, & the services are pretty free-flowing - music, chanting, drums, other stray instruments. The d'var Torah (that's Jew-speak for "sermon," for all you Gentiles) always focuses on some sort of social justice issue.

So, a quick plug: Tonight's d'var was about a health care reform event happening here in DC next month. The Interfaith Service of Witness & Prayer is expected to be the largest faith-inspired mobilization around health care reform in the country. It's sponsored by more than 30 national faith organizations & denominations - Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, the works. We'll be gathering on Wednesday, June 24th from 4-7 p.m. on Freedom Plaza to show our support for health care reform. If you're in the city, I encourage you to join us!

Anyway, the point is this:
I DID NOT VOMIT TONIGHT! In fact, the affirming hippies I spoke to even snapped & murmured "Yasher koach" ("congrats," loosely) when I finished. And while I then proceeded to shake like a leaf upon returning to my seat, I was mostly too busy being distracted by my pride in my stomach's ability to refrain from emptying itself to notice or to care about my full-body tremors.

So who wants to book me for a speaking gig? YAHOO!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ain't No Trip to Ohio: A Play-By-Play

I went to Ohio for Memorial Day Weekend. As you may/should know, I LOVE OHIO. I'm Buckeye State born & bred, having attended three Ohio public schools & two of Ohio's state colleges. Others may mock it, reminding me that Ohio is often named the place where never-to-be-heard-from-again TV & film characters move (see: "Friends," "Tommy Boy," & a myriad of others). But this weekend, I traveled back to my beloved home state with a coworker, her younger brother & his friend. They were bound for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament (?!) & I figured I'd stay with my aunts & visit some old friends, though some of those plans worked out better than others. Since I was away from a computer & thus unable to blog, I tweeted my entire visit. If you follow me on Twitter, feel free to ignore this tweet-by-tweet summary; if you don't, enjoy!


PS: Upon re-reading these tweets, it basically appears as though I despised my trip to Ohio. Perhaps I need to work on my emotional tweeting. It's sort of like emotional eating, but more publicly shameful.




Friday
6:19 PM: Buckeye-bound! Columbus, ho!
6:19 PM: Dashboard Confessional flashbacks on this roadtrip. The 18-year-olds are asleep in the back seat & we got all kinds of time to rock.
7:00 PM: Live-tweeting my roadtrip to Ohio. Tune in for farmhouses, hills, fast food restaurants & bathroom breaks.
7:34 PM: Certainly almost just died. Ironic that the car that almost nailed us has a license plate that reads "KEEPHOPE."
7:53 PM: "Welcome to West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful!"
8:21 PM: Playing some pretty bad trivia. Not a radio station to be found for miles.
8:48 PM: Riding a motorcycle does not give you permission to wear a lace-up leather vest.
8:53 PM: Proof that there is a God & (S)He loves us: We just discovered a Hanson "Middle of Nowhere" tape. Hear that? A TAPE! Thanks, universe.
9:13 PM: Why do I still remember every single lyric to songs I haven't heard since 1997?
9:14 PM: How did we end up in WVa. again???
9:34 PM: BDubs! Eat 'n' Park! Applebee's! Guess where? O-H..!
9:41 PM: Come on, guys. O-H! Anyone...?
10:00 PM: I'm about to be a Columbus nomad. Got zero plans.
10:16 PM Daniel ordered four sandwiches at Wendy's - 3 & a half hours ago. and is eating the last of them now. The car reeks of meat (& botchulism).
11:26 PM: Wrong turn. Driving fairly aimlessly around Columbus. Welcome to the Buckeye State.
11:55 PM: Too tired to be awake & hanging out with the Washington University Women's Ultimate Frisbee team (which I don't know any players on...)
12:27 AM: Ghettoest bar ever. At OSU. Smells like pee. Playing "Brass Monkey." $1 cover - why bother???
12:46 AM: We're greasy & have been in the car for 8 hours. I'm wearing a 1994 tee-ball t-shirt. Do not hit on me, weirdo.
1:53 AM: After the creeper came two legitimately cute guys, one a Jew. Who is clearly interested, despite my unattractiveness tonight. Curious...
2:06 AM: Dear cute boy: Please email me like you said you would?
Saturday
9:55 AM: I do not feel rested in any sense of the word. Thanks, fold-out couch & really loud dog.
10:09 AM: I wish my family weren't so painfully unlike me.
11:55 AM: Dear Ohio: Thanks for having Quaker Steak & Lube. I wish I were going there instead of the freaking Cheesecake Factory for lunch right now.
12:48 PM: Epic breakfast burrito: http://yfrog.com/5apb2j

1:02 PM: I hate everything.
3:05 PM: This weather makes me tired enough to fall asleep in my mom's car.
3:26 PM: It was so warm inside Old Navy that I can now do nothing but sit on the couch & pant & be thankful that I found two new pairs of jeans.
5:31 PM: I suspect that this afternoon's epic breakfast burrito is the culprit behind this evening's intestinal mutiny. Tums, anyone? Ow.
7:16 PM: At an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. So uninterested but attempting not to be a douchebag. Mostly just jealous I don't/can't play any sports.

8:37 PM: When my lease runs out (a year from Tuesday), I'm moving to Columbus. Count on it.
8:50 PM: I remembered I don't actually like Great Lakes Eliot Ness. I was just really jazzed to be someplace that had Great Lakes.
10:42 PM: Meeting up with @ohhitsjustmeg at Little Bar, the most unGoogleable bar in this city.
12:12 AM: This bar's packed with trendy, pretty girls - but the kind who somehow make me proud to be here wearing Chucks & a t-shirt instead.
12:40: Hazards of hanging out with old friends inlude being reminded of what an unlikeable f*ck-up I used to be. Not loving memory lane tonight.
1:25 AM: I think my quick temper might freak out my friends.
1:45 AM: Bagel sandwich, potato pancakes & a chocolate malt for $5.49. I LOVE THE MIDWEST.
1:58 AM: "Thanks for taking us to Steak & Shake." "Thanks for giving me an excuse to admit to going somewhere I was going to sneak off to anyway."

Sunday
12:17 PM: Amazing piece of Sanskrit art my aunt made me (watercolor & colored pencil): http://yfrog.com/17a86j

1:15 PM: Indy 500: Sucks to wipe out in the first lap. Don't judge me for watching!
1:23 PM: Nothing beats drinking cherry Koolaid & watching the Indy 500 on a sunny day. Waiting for Moraes to wig on Andretti.
2:43 PM: Every single girl on the Stanford Ultimate Frisbee Team could beat the living daylights out of me. And they're all five feet tall.
7:00 PM: I'm ready to go back to DC now. I wish I could teleport.
7:51 PM: I know I tweeted this two days ago, but... I hate everything.
9:03 PM: Step it up, #Cavs. I'm watching from Quaker Steak & Lube, and I want to watch a win while I'm home.
9:46 PM: Quaker belly.

11:06 PM: "Hitch" is NOT comparable to the fourth quarter of the #Cavs game.
11:10 PM: Who's winning?!?! My aunt says it's not on, which can NOT POSSIBLY be true.
Monday
11:04 AM: I fashioned some earplugs out of a wet cotton ball & slept like a freaking rock.
11:39 AM: It's pretty clear that Jon & Kate Gosselin can't stand one another. Uhh, that's what you get for having an army's worth of kids.
12:41 PM: I'm going insane. I need to get on the road back to the District immediately.
1:14 PM: My aunts are making plans to travel to Iowa to finally get married!!!!
1:42 PM: The Midwest makes it really easy to be fat.
4:01 PM: Live-tweeting my return to DC. Enjoy! It begins with a kid at a rest stop named Cannon. As in, "Boom!"
4:41 PM: Passed a hitchhiker in West Virginia. Those still exist?!
5:34 PM: It's raining in West Virginia, which sounds like some sort of country song. And speaking of country, decent radio is non-existent out here.
6:31 PM: Fell asleep pretty hard through Maryland. Neck cracked like I was breaking something. Yowza.
7:16 PM: Did Chik-Fil-A really invent the chicken sandwich or is this just a brilliant marketing ploy dependent upon gullible customers?
7:38 PM: My friend is now quizzing her brother on principles of macroeconomics. Pardon me while I zone the eff out.
7:48 PM: Driving into the apocalypse somewhere mid-Maryland, where an epic, Biblical-style storm appears to be brewing.
9:29 PM: LIL WAYNE ON THE IPHONE TO END THE ROADTRIP!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Please love me enough to help me win $500 & a badass t-shirt.

How much do you love me?

OK, fine, how much do you like me?

All right, whatever, do you have 15 seconds to spare me?

My pal @micah over at Learn to Duck tonight nominated one of my tweets for a contest being hosted by Threadless, the baller t-shirt company worshiped by college students, slacker adults & witty fashionistas (& whatever the male parallel of that word is) everywhere. Tweets that win the most votes will be printed into t-shirts sold on Threadless - and the Twitterer who wrote it gets $500!

All you have to do is follow this link & click on "Heck yes!"


This whopping prize amounts to about a half a month's rent here in the District, & I sure could use it, especially as I move into a new apartment next week (WOOOO! More on this later). So will you click through & vote for my tweet? I would be forever grateful. You know, especially if I win.

PS: If I win, I'll buy the tee & host a giveaway. Woop woop! Isn't THAT stellar incentive?

PPS: Feel free to spread the word, if you're so inclined to be that helpful! :)

TMI Thursday: This City is Full of Ugly People in Excellent Relationships

I'm giving TMI Thursday a try, though I refuse to be wholly embarrassing, at least not yet. I will, however, try to stretch my limits a little bit by blogging about things I wouldn't typically say.

First things first: I attempt not to discuss my love life here. That's partially because I have absolutely no love life to discuss & partially because I'm not much of a public sharer, despite my penchant for tweeting, talking, gossiping. Yes, I recognize that all aspects of my personality ought to point to my being a public sharer, but it's simply not the case. I did talk about my Johnny Fajitas fling, if only briefly, because the nickname "Johnny Fajitas" was way too good to keep from you guys, but that's been the extent.

Anyway: I'm also not big on vulgarity. I like to swear when it gets the point across, which is fairly often, but I tend to shy away from words that reference genitalia. They feel inappropriate & make me uncomfortable, & I assume they make my grandmother & my boss uncomfortable, as well - & as we've determined in past posts, both of those folks read this blog. That said... god
damn it, do I love Speak On It's blog post today, genitalia vulgarity & all, about why she's still single in this city. Not for the faint of vocab, she writes:

When I look at people all bunned up in a relationship with baby #3 on the way that are 4 years younger than me, there are a few thoughts that run through my head.

1 - Well goddamn who the fuck decided to stick their dick in that thing at least FOUR FUCKING TIMES to make a NEW PERSON?
2 - How in the hell did they land a husband and I’m still single?! It must be the head. She HAS to be giving good head. Because duh.
3 - Aw, I want a husband and a house and 2.5 kids with a dog and a yard with a garden and the picturesque bullshit idea of a family life that we all love to cling to.

This is typically my train of thought upon running into young couples, as well, though such thoughts increase exponentially upon my encountering couples that don't seem to match. You know what I mean. This week, for example, I met a really unattractive woman. I also met her particularly attractive husband. And listen, don't give me your "It's not always about looks!" bullshiz. What are you, my kindergarten teacher? I know looks aren't everything. I get that. I'm down with that. And as a fairly average-looking individual myself, I very much rely on that cliche principle to assist me in landing hotter-than-average members of the opposite sex.

That couple I mentioned meeting, though, is, interestingly, not an anomaly here in the District. In fact, this city is teeming with mismatched couples just like them. Couples that are half Angelina Jolie & half Drew Carey. Half Pierce Brosnan & half Susan Boyle. Half Carrie Prejean & half Skeletor. (On second thought, I'll take the Skeletor half of that combo, please. This is one example in which the "personality trumps all" card really comes into play). And every time I spot one of these bafflingly mismatched couples, I have to admit that my thought process is typically as follows:
  1. "Wow, that attractive [insert gender here] must be really open-minded, accepting & kind."
  2. "Wow, that brutally unattractive [insert gender here] must be really effing charming and/or manipulative."
What are these attractive folks thinking? And what are these ugly folks doing to land them? More importantly, which side do I take advice from? And WHY ARE THEY ALL IN D.C.?

Monday, May 18, 2009

SWF Looking for Redline Love

According to the Examiner & the DCist, I should probably be walking to work.

Apparently, a new survey shows that DC Metro riders have a median income of $102,110, while Metrobus riders' median income is a paltry $69,620. And by "paltry," I mean, "That median bus-riding income is about twice what I make."

Anyone have a bike I can borrow, or something? Better yet, anyone know where I can meet one of the crazy-wealthy men who frequents DC's public transportation system? I guess I've been doing the right thing by hoping to encounter my beloved along the redline.
..

The Return of My Weakness for Foods Involving Awkwardly Placed Bacon

I just started reading Cleveland's a Plum, who's clearly from my neck of the woods & who visited DC last weekend. As I started perusing her most recent posts, I was absolutely bowled over to find this photo:


Basically, right now I want nothing more from my life than to drink a Bloody Mary from Bar Pilar, where I've never been. Why? Obviously because IT COMES WITH BACON GARNISH. I don't even like Bloody Marys (I don't think), but for bacon garnish, I could probably talk myself into it.

I know bacon-loving is, like, the newest weird, trendy food obsession, but I gotta be up front about this: I just love me some bacon. To be fair, I don't really love it in strips because bacon fat is, I think, the grossest thing ever, & I have zero desire to look at or ingest it. But as you may have read here (bacon waffle!) & here (bacon chocolate!), I definitely appreciate bacon in its non-strip forms. However, I realize that the Bar Pilar Bloody Mary comes with a bacon
strip of garnish, & I've vowed not to discriminate against forms of my beloved food this time - I want to try this drink, stat.

Oh, & I also want to try Bar Pilar's $7 pancake sandwich. I can only assume this is some extravagant, fancy McGriddle, & my arteries are already screaming in pain, but my taste buds... Ohhh, my taste buds.



(Dear Mom: If you post an "anonymous" comment reminding me of the size-smaller-than-my-body bridesmaid dress I need to fit in by September, I will not call you for a week. You've been warned.)

RUN DMC IS EVERYWHERE.

Yes, you heard me: RUN-DMC IS EVERYWHERE.

No, this post was not written in 1985. I mean it! I first saw Mr. DMC himself on this sign - or least saw him insinuated - about a week ago. (That sentence is SO incorrect, but if you can forgive me, I know you know what I mean.) I dig the Obamafied thing - notice that the artist has dropped the "M." Those clever urban artists.


After that, it was like learning a new word - you know, add it to your mental vocab Rolodex one day & then hear it spoken in conversation the very next day. A day or so later, I spotted this fly tee shirt on the Metro. By "fly" I mean, "I'm sort of bizarrely envious of the balls this girl has displayed by wearing this ratty old Run-DMC tee on the DC Metro at 9 a.m., when everyone else is in suits &, oh yeah, I really wish I were currently dressed similarly in the old-school Sex Pistols shirt I somehow obtained from Pop Culture Philosopher's uncle." Huh.


I was thinking that two Run-DMC spottings weren't really blogworthy, but then, whaddaya know, there's my fellow Washingtonian The Pumpernickel blogging about Run-DMC's recent visit to our nation's capital, where he engaged in an impromptu rap session with Mayor Adrian Fenty. Fine, Run_DMC is now blogworthy.

WTF DMC.



I love it. Also, on a legit & philanthropic note, DMC's apparently in town to help raise awareness of & funds for the District's foster care system. More here, from the Washington Post's D.C. Wire, "The Hip-Hop Mayor?:"

[DMC] will be in the District for the next two days, visiting children and filming an ad for the city's foster care program, made possible with a $100,000 donation from Freddie Mac Foundation.

The city's Child and Family Services Agency, long troubled by a backlog and other problems, has access to 1,224 license foster homes, but only 438 are within the city's borders.

Fenty said the city's goal is to have at least 500 D.C. homes within 18 months, and the campaign will get the word out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Makin' Do With What I Got (Which is NOT a Kitchen)

I was pretty thirsty tonight. I typically keep a gallon jug of water in my fridge because my DC tap water is often bordering on opaque, but I can't use a Brita because, as you may recall, I don't have a kitchen & therefore don't have a kitchen sink, which means I only have a bathroom sink - & a Brita won't fit in it. Yes, I realize this is a little embarrassing, but it's not as embarrassing as having to drain my pasta in the toilet, OK?

Anyway, tonight I got thirsty, & I decided I was willing to risk the opaque water to quench that thirst. Next problem? I have no cups. I've been using disposable cups for... well, ever, basically, or at least since I moved here, because I hate washing dishes in aforementioned bathroom sink. I know, I know, the environment hates me - but in all fairness, those disposable cups are only for guests (which are rare), because I am classy enough to drink my gallon water right out of that gallon container.

ANYWAY, I ran out of cups. And I was dismayed to discover that the only mug I have is pretty skanky right now because I guess I let something grow in there. (Also embarrassing.) So I did what any sane, creative, thirsty, kitchenless person would do - I drank a "glass" of sink water, ice cubes & all, from a Tupperware bowl.

Ahhh, that's better.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So THAT's Why Five Guys' Food is So Tasty...

Oh, God. I wanted a hot dog today, too. I'm serious.




One time a Chinese restaurant in my hometown was given the kibash by the health department for keeping dead cats in the freezer. On the scale of one to absolutely foul, I guess today's Five Guys debacle rates significantly lower than that.

A Very Fala-filling Day

I didn't realize how much I loved falafel.

I've never been to Israel, where apparently falafel is as common as, say, peanut butter & jelly is in the US - but sold on more street corners.

I also didn't try falafel until I was... I want to say about 21, which is fairly recently. I'd never heard of it, & listen, falafel seems pretty foreign & hippie-esque to a girl who counts Kraft macaroni & cheese & the entire Applebee's menu among her favorite foods. (Yeah, insert Midwesty Crapplebee's joke here, jerks.)

But I really, really love falafel. A lot. And I was reminded of this glorious fact on Saturday night, when a gaggle of my friends & I left an Adam's Morgan party to make a late-night falafel run at Amsterdam Falafelshop. Their website says "Simply, the best falafel," & while I dont know why that errant comma exists after "simply," I otherwise agree -- though that's also probably not saying much, given everything I've just told you about my lack of passport stamps (OK, I don't even have a passport) & my culinary palette. It's basically a falafel bar, where you pick a size (three balls or five) & a pita (white or wheat) then go to town with your choice of fillings. I'm pretty unadventurous (um, surprise), so I always go with hot pepper flakes, hummus, cucumbers & parsley - & I am never dissatisfied. They don't have plates or forks, either, so it's all finger food - & a lot of napkins, as evidenced in the photos provided below.











I hit up Amsterdam Falafel again this evening with my friend Jill, & this food was even better when I was stone sober. Bet you've never said that about a late-night pizza joint!

And then, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, I returned home tonight to find a package on my proverbial doorstep (or set right inside my apartment so it isn't stolen, because my front desk receptionist likes me a lot & has a master key). Inside the package? FALAFEL!!! I forgot that I won a Pesach giveaway from Pop Judaica last month - & the prize was a bunch of Manischewitz swag, including chicken soup, bread crumbs, matzoh ball mix & falafel mix.

Now who wants to let me borrow their kitchen?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Craft + Afternoon = Crafternoon!

One of my favorite aspects of living in D.C. is meeting truly interesting, unique people who do truly fabulous things, even on the small, Sunday-afternoon scale.

Case in point: I spent a good chunk of yesterday at Wild & Crazy Pearl's 26th birthday event. Sounds basic, right? Well, while your basic 20-somethings spend their birthdays imbibing & engaging in celebratory spirits, my lovely new friend over at W&CP chose something much, much classier - & much craftier! Her
Crafternoon Birthday Spectacular comprised about 30 folks of varying ages, genders & backgrounds hanging out in her whimsical Dupont apartment, where we engaged in a lovely little crafternoon (craft + afternoon, duh), complete with cupcakes from the love of my miniture-cake-loving life, Hello Cupcake.

Karen Kormondy, former owner of the now-defunct DC craft store Ipso Crafto, gave the group a quick lesson in the art of decoupage (in which I am fairly well-versed & about which I am ever-enthusiastic), & we quickly dug in to the table she'd set up of pre-cut magazine-page goodies to plaster to wooden picture frames.

I hope the birthday girl won't mind that I've lifted a few of her Flickr photos to better tell the story of our crafternoon. Without futher ado, a brief visual ous getting our craft on:


Birthday girl gives us the low-down pre-crafting


That's me in the grey & my friend Allison at the end of the table in black, beginning our projects with some of the birthday girl's other friends. Notice how intense everyone looks!


We also learned that clapping makes for jubilant photos.


My friend/coworker Jill, mid-craft


I'm pretty hardcore, I know.


Final products!

Thanks for the Sympathy Smile!

Overheard between two fratty-yet-hipster guys at the 7-11 in Woodley Park & then duly tweeted by yours truly:



And, let me note, this was certainly not overheard while I was purchasing this:




Ummmmm...

Sometimes, Movies Do Come True.

A friend of mine has recently become enamored of a little Eritrean joint at the corner of U Street and 16th called Selam Cafe. While I've discovered I don't love Eritrean food -- or at least Eritrean bread, which tastes like a very thin sponge but is meant to taste that way -- the bar itself is pretty funny, in a good way. It's a gritty little hole in the wall, never with more than 10 bar-goers presents at a time, & one night the bathroom light burned out so they set up a big flashlight as a substitute.

On Saturday nights, a guy called "The Yas" plays tunes at Selam, including Chingy's "Holiday Inn," which got a lot of laughs & singing along from yours truly, and plays all sorts of instruments, like a little one-man band. He plays the bongos, the xylophone & some other unidentified musical tools, & sets out a box of tambourines & maracas for others to jam along with, which you can bet I got a big kick out of. Who doesn't love a tambourine singalong?!

My favorite, though, was last night, when I realized that The Yas was playing the flute. That's right. THE YAS FLUTE. "Anchorman," anyone? Anyone? I died.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Theoretical Limousine Kidnapping

If it were hypothetically 2:30 a.m. and (hypothetically, of course) you were waiting for a cab when a big, black sedan pulled up & the driver flashed his cabbie credentials at you, would you get in? Hypothetically, aforementioned driver would tell you that he didn't have a cab sign (or whatever those deals on top of taxis are) because he works for a private limo service& is off-duty, & he doesn't have a meter but will charge you the normal price ($6 plus tip) that it takes you to get from Adam's Morgan to Cleveland Park. And to make you feel safe, he gives you his business card, which read "1st American Limo: Luxury Limo & Sedan Service," with his name (Casey) printed below, all in a fairly legitimate-looking business card situation.

But then, you know, hypothetically, you might start to freak out when the realization sets in that you've just gotten into an unmarked black sedan, & you'd frantically text a friend with your location & all the information on the card while secretly hyperventilating at the thought of being abducted. To be fair, you tell yourself, a hypothetical, would-be abductor probably wouldn't provide you with his business card before absconding with you, but you never know, right? The whole way home, he chatters about cab drivers & how they screw you over on prices, how their cars are unclean, how much more reliable a luxury service is - issues that are probably of little concern to hypothetical abductors, though this isn't of particular reassurance to you.



When he pulls up in front of your apartment, though, he realizes he doesn't have change for the $20 you provide him with for the $8 fare - & after a little bit of hemming & hawing, a quick apology for scaring you, & the obligatory plug for future Luxury Limo & Sedan Services, he hypothetically says "This one's on the house" & drops you off free of charge.

This is all, of course, hypothetically speaking, & the stress of almost pulling a Natalee Holloway is probably enough to make you wish you'd just waited for some crummy, crusty yellow cab. But at the end of the night, you're home safe, & you made it there in a snazzy, leather-seated sedan - for free. So in that case, hypothetically.... score!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The WMATA Marathon, Every Day at the Cleveland Park Station

It's safe to say that I have quite a few pet peeves. I try to keep them logical - you know, not nitpicking too much, sticking to things that annoy other people, too - but sometimes I just can't hold myself to that.

This morning, I casually made my way through the Cleveland Park Metro station. A train was clearly on its way, & I could hear it rumbling on the tracks as it made its way forth. As soon as the rumbling began & the platform lights started blinking, the woman who was passing through the turnstile a couple footsteps ahead of me literally busted into a sprint. I mean, this woman was hauling ass down the stairs that lead from the mezzanine level to the platform, running like she was being chased.

The thing is this: If you're at the top of the stairs when the train starts rumbling, unless you're a geriatric who walks with a limp, a cane & absolutely zero sense of urgency, you're going to make the train. If it's not reached the platform by the time you go through the turnstile, you're going to be fine. And unless you somehow become incapacitated on your way down the stairs or create some sort of tear in the space/time continuum that sends you hurtling into the past and/or the future, you will be a passenger on that train. There is no need to hustle, there is no need to push past me or yell "Move!" and there is absolutely no reason to test out your sprinting skills.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

TMI Thursday, the Suburban Sweetheart Way

Lately, I've been feeling a little bit insecure about my blog. I've begun reading other DC bloggers, & while I enjoy the sense of community, it may be messing my game up a bit. I feel like my blog is, somehow, different from the rest - it's pretty impersonal, almost solely based on the awkward photos I take around the city, & even those have been down lately, as I've done little more than work, watch TV, sleep, repeat, which leaves little room for awkward-spotting.

I'd been thinking of trying to join the blogger fray by partaking in TMI Thursday, started by Live It, Love It (also known as LiLu), & participated in by the likes of DC blogstars Plight of the Pumpernickel and Franco Beans. The gist of TMI Thursday is, basically, exactly as it sounds - you tell an embarrassing story, one that's posisbly "too much information" for your readers.

But it's not working for me. I've been thinking about it for a month or so now, & I just can't bring myself to blog about bad sex or public farts or nose-picking or blow jobs or any of the other things that some of my blogging faves opt to tell all about every Thursday. It's just not my thing; it's not working for me. Here are the three reasons why:

  1. I'm rarely embarrassed. I was a shy kid, & I spent the majority of my childhood years being embarrassed - of everything. I was sometimes known as the girl who laughed at anything/everything, which was only because laughing seemed like a decent way to deflect constant humilitation. Now that I'm an adult - a fairly un-shy adult, at that - I use making others laugh as a way to deflect potential embarrassment, & it works pretty darn well for me.

  2. I have the worst memory ever. Even when I try to think of times I've been embarrassed, I can't come up with anything good. Is this because I'm rarely embarrassed or because my memory sucks? Which came first?

  3. I tend to blog about my rare embarrassments as they happen. For examples, see some of these gems:
Oh, & also, excuse #4: I'm typically too busy watching "Grey's Anatomy" to dedicate time to crafting an in-depth Thursday post of any sort.

So, in closing, I will continue to blog about my embarrassing moments when & if they happen, & if I feel them appropriate for a blog read my both my grandmother & my boss. In the meantime, I leave you with someone elses's embarrassment:


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DC Graffiti: Tag, You're It

Last week, I introduced you to the concept of "CAT AIDS." I try to take photos of crazy tagging & graffiti when I get a chance but have missed a few excellent ones lately - and haven't been far enough out on the redline for awhile to snap a photo of my favorite tag job, the word "PEAR" in green & silver on a concrete wall at the Brookland station.

Actually, "PEAR" graffiti is all over the place, if looking for graffiti themes is your thing (as it apparently is mine). It's mostly further out on the redline, or at least that's where I've seen it most, when I did my two-month stint living in Glenmont & trekking in & out of the District daily. The tags out there are typically really artistic & well-done - true tagging, the kind you get arrested for but that the judge gives you some leniency on because you made an ugly wall sparkle a little. (I dunno if that happens, but if I were a judge, I might rule that way, yo.) I've long been curious about what "PEAR" meant; tonight, a Google search for "Pear DC graffiti" turned up a Flickr conversation about the social status of District taggers, including, apparently, a tagger named (surprise!) Pear. I also found this insightful piece
on DC graffiti culture, originally published in The Hoya & reposted by another local blogger, .

If you were going to be a tagger, what would your name be? I guess Suburban Sweetheart is a little long... & my artistic ability is pretty low, anyway. OK, instead, I present you with some more of my recent faves:


(Bathroom at Wonderland Bar, my photo of the day a couple weeks ago)


(Written on a stop sign in Adam's Morgan & on a nearby construction site)


(Also at Wonderland. I wonder if this person was just trying to stay out of some ongoing argument.)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Insight into Kitchen-Free Living

This afternoon, I was struck by the hilarity of my bathroom sink:


OK, let's zoom in on a few things here, in case they passed you by. Mixed amongst my typical bathroom items (read: Cetaphil, hand soap, toothbrush) are a few of the not-so-common:


And for the record, that's the same bottle of Palmolive I've had the entire time I've lived in this apartment. I guess that when you don't have much to cook, you don't have much to wash.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness: Why I Don't Walk for Color-Coded Cures

I woke up this morning to Michael Jackson tunes floating through my open window. I like the King of Pop, but not enough to be awakened by him; that said, I was somewhat thankful because I needed to haul to the Post Office to get a money order with which to pay my rent. And yes, I pay my rent with money orders. Every single month.

The source of the public nuisance Michael Jackson beats was a massive motorcycle outfitted with a boombox, parked on the sidewalk outside the Cleveland Park Library. Its presumed owner/driver stood on the street corner in a bright orange crossing guard-style vest, cheering wildly in the direction of a group of approximately 25 women all clad in pink workout gear.

You got it: The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

And while most passersby were smiling, nodding in approval, honking in appreciation, I... I got angry. It was the most unexpected reaction I think I've ever had to cancer advocacy/fundraising/awareness, & in many ways, I was ashamed of it. So ashamed that I considered refraining from writing this post. But I think it's important - so I'm still writing.

It wasn't just the MJ beats that peeved me, though I wanted to shake that motorcycle man & ask to see the permit that gave him the go-ahead to wake me & all my neighbors with "The Way You Make Me Feel." It's safe to say that I'm going to grow into an old woman who shoos children off her lawn with a shotgun. But this is all beside the point.

Do you know what the survival rate for breast cancer is? Over a five-year period, the survival rate is 89.1%. That's a pretty darn high rate. And I'm certainly not saying this to disrespect or negate the trauma & suffering & pain that breast cancer patients go through - it's a horrible, painful disease, & watching someone you love suffer through it is just as painful as watching someone you love suffer a cancer with a lower survival rate. When it comes to suffering, cancer knows no divisions between types or kinds or variations - it all hurts just the same to watch and, I'd imagine, to experience.

But that's my next point. Do you know what the survival rate is for, say, lung cancer? Over the same time period, the overall survival rate for lung cancer, not taking into account sex, race or age, is a mere 15.6%. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the country - but when was the last time you saw someone on a lung cancer walk? What color has been designated to bring awareness to lung cancer?

Full disclosure: My dad died of lung cancer when I was 10 years old. I was 10, you know, so I thought he was getting better; what does a 10-year-old know about cancer? When I was in high school, I wrote letters to friends & family who helped me raise nearly $1,000 in my dad's memory for Relay For Life. On the day of the walk, I lit candles in memory of my dad, but also in memory of my grandpa, who died of leukemia, my grandpa who died of colon cancer, & my grandma & my mom's former boss who both died of breast cancer. Since then, I've lit candles in honor of other friends & family members who have the great, God-granted fortune of being survivors rather than victims. And in 2005, I joined the brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha & more than 300 others in a campus-wide fundraiser that collected money for the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, breaking a world record in the process.

Despite all this, I am terrified of cancer, & none of these actions have done a thing to relieve me of my fear. Still, I understand that, for some, there is a sense of empowerment that must come with acting in the name of a loved one & feeling that your money, your footsteps, or the pink-ribboned teddy bear you just purchased are directly aiding the eradication of a disease that has launched a personal attack on your life. But why aren't we fighting cancer as a whole? This breakdown of cancer into smaller, digestible categories - or, actually, ONE digestible side project, breast cancer awareness - allows us to feel that we're contributing to fighting the overall problem when all we're doing is fighting a small portion, while by & large ignoring the rest. Can we truly call ourselves anti-cancer advocates if we're only anti-cancer advocates when we like the color of the race-day t-shirt?

"Walking for a cure" is great, & I'm all for it. And while I certainly understand individuals' relating most closely to the specific cancer than has affected them, I'm concerned that too many people fail to see the bigger picture. Just because you lace up your Nikes & tack a sign on your back that says "I'm walking for my mom" doesn't mean you've done a damn thing for your mom or the people like her, except contribute some cash to a really well-done marketing campaign. While you raise all kinds of money for a cancer that is, by many accounts, survivable, where is the money coming from to do research on the cancers that don't fall so easily into marketable, color-coded niches? Cancer is cancer, & I'm not buying into the "Some cancers are more cure-worthy than others" shtick that Avon walks & Susan G. Komen's pink frying pans push on me. If I'm going to walk for cancer, I'm going to walk for ALL of them - and I wish others would consider doing the same.
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