Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DC Adventure Ho!

At the start of 2009, I wrote about my DC wishlist, all the restaurants I want to try in the city. In six months, I've knocked exactly six measly places off said list. To be fair, if I'd checked out all of these places in six months, I'd be subsisting solely on Easy Mac & cans of beans. This week, though, as I read through the newly discovered DC Concierge blog, I'm reminded just how many things I want to do & see in the District that I've not yet gotten around to because I am either A) too tired/lazy, B) too broke or C) unable to convince others to join in the fun.

So I've been compiling a mental list & have come up with the following:

  • Listen to jazz in the Sculpture Garden, even though I'm not actually a big fan of jazz (just seems like something I should try)
  • Return to Artomatic to explore more than two of its nine floors of creative genius
  • Kayak on the Potomac, even though I'm wildly afraid of water
  • Go paddle-boating in the Tidal Basin, even though I'm still wildly afraid of water
  • Picnic in Rock Creek Park because I'm obsessed with picnicking but never do it (OK, except when I organized one last month!)
  • Check out a free performance on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, which I rarely want to go to because it feels far away but really want to go to because the shows are free, cultural & every single weeknight
  • Attend a show at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre's Pay-What-You-Can Night
  • Sit under the stars at the Rock Creek Park planetarium, though I will probably cry because sometimes stars do that to me (& now that I've admitted that, no one will ever agree to join me on this one!)
  • Go inside the Washington Monument, which I haven't done since I was a kid, though this requires the dreaded early-morning wake-up
  • Shop at Eastern Market, where I have shamefully never been & which also requires an early-morning wake-up
  • Get inspired at a Busboys & Poets open mic night, though it will probably inspire me to attempt to be artsy, which is not usually a successful endeavor
  • Go on an embassy tour, despite reports that they're a tourism frenzy
Seriously, it's time to start being a little more adventurous. No more Big Hunt & Paragon Thai. Now accepting suggestions for additional activities to add to the list - & friends with whom to do any & all of them! I promise to stop being tired/lazy, though I can't make any promises to stop being broke.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blog Carnival: Most Miserable Morning Ever

This post is a part of 20SB’s Looking Back Blog Carnival, and Ben & Jerry’s is awarding free ice cream to lucky bloggers and readers! More info on the Blog Carnival is here, but the gist this time is that participating bloggers re-post an entry from their first two months of blogging - one that captures their blogging mentality at the time. Since the August 2007 inception of Suburban Sweetheart, I truly don't think my "mentality" has changed much - if anything, I've become less adept at surrpetitious Metro photography & as a result post fewer photographs of pitiful strangers.

But one major thing has changed: I live in the District now. I began this blog because I was living out in Silver Spring, MD, traveling an hour to work & encountering a series of bizarre experiences along the way: Memorable incidents include the time I thought my car was stolen and the time I was threatened with death. But I think this one, written only a few weeks into my post-Ohio life, really captures the full extent of my transportation misery. Enjoy.

_____________________________________________

Most Miserable Morning Ever

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

7:43 a.m. --- I leave my house to drive to the bus station to catch the 7:51 bus.

7:47ish a.m. --- I double-check with a woman who's also waiting: "Does this bus go to Glenmont?" She tells me it does... so I wait.

7:51 a.m. --- The bus going the other direction has come & gone (with Directional Woman on board). I sit alone at the station with an Ethiopian woman dressed in a parking attendant uniform. No bus.

7:52 a.m. --- The garbage truck passes by, emitting a smell so nauseating that Ethiopian Attendant & I gag in tandem.

7:55 a.m. --- A white poodle pees on the side of the busstop sign in front of us. "Wow, we sure do have a great spot here," I joke. Ethiopian Attendant laughs. We strike up a conversation about the woes of public transportation. We have both been in D.C. for fewer than two weeks.


8:00 a.m. --- Still no bus.

8:05 a.m. --- Still no bus.

8:06 a.m. --- "I'm going to drive to the Metro station," I tell Ethiopian Attendant. Somewhat trepidatiously, I offer, "Do you want a ride?" She accepts, & we walk to my car as I think to myself, "Shit. I am about to be mugged & left for dead by a middle-aged immigrant woman wearing Velcro shoes."

8:15 a.m. --- I confide in Ethiopian Attendant (real name: Ganette) that I'm afraid someday I'll drive to the station only to find myself parking-spotless. And whaddaya know? The lot is, you guessed it, full.

8:16 a.m. --- Graciously, I drop Ganette off on the 5th floor of the parking structure so that she can catch a train. "Drive carefully," she tells me. "And thank you so much. Have a good day!" I mentally pat myself on the back: If I'm going to pick up a stranger, at least I chose one with good manners.

8:17 a.m. --- Panic sets in. No parking. I have, essentially, driven to the Metro station for the sole purpose of dropping off a stranger at the train station. I decide that karma probably owes me one.

8:18 a.m. --- I leave my mother a frantic voicemail, as though she can help me from Ohio. I ask two Metro policemen for directions, then promptly burst into tears. "Drive to Wheaton," one tells me."There are always spots there." His directions to Wheaton suck. I keep crying.

8:19 a.m. --- In succession, I leave voicemails for Becca & Jessie telling them I'll be late to work. In a last-ditch effort, I also call Ben, who answers... & I start crying again. I promptly feel like a toolbag, despite his niceness.

8:22 a.m. --- I am supposed to be at work in half an hour. My commute takes approximately 45. After making a couple more laps around the parking structure, I do the natural thing... and head home.

8:31 a.m. --- I arrive back at my original bus stop, where I've chosen to park my car & wait for the next bus. I realize that the 7:51 bus I'd been waiting for was actually scheduled to arrive at 8:08 - exactly two minutes after I hopped in my car to drive to Glenmont. I remind myself to look at the "Monday - Friday" schedule from now on, & not the "Sunday" schedule. But if I ever need a 7:51 a.m. ride to Glenmont on a Sunday, I now know such transportation exists.

8:36 a.m. --- Bus arrives, thankthefreakinglord.

8:45ish a.m. --- I finally (& angrily) board my em-effing train.

9:00 a.m. --- I am supposed to be at work. Instead, I'm somewhere near Takoma, listening to Eminem's "Slim Shady" on my iPod.

9:30 a.m. --- I arrive at the Dupont station.

9:33 a.m. --- I walk into my place of employment.

9:34 a.m. --- I reach into my purse & am struck by its emptiness. Astonished (& pissed), I realize why: My lunch is missing. Who the hell loses canned tuna & a butterscotch pudding? And more importantly - how??? I begin to wonder whether Ganette stole my home-packed meal.

______________________
____CUT TO EVENING____
______________________

9:07 p.m. --- After bowling & dinner with my coworkers, I board the redline Metro toward home.

9:50 p.m. --- And after an excruciating ride that forced me to listen to a fellow Ohioan (& recent D.C. transplant) tell his former Miami University frat brother about his swanky new job as a legislative assistant (whateverrrr), I arrive at my stop & literally sprint to the busstop upstairs, only to find that tonight's bus did, in fact, depart on time - at 9:47, a whopping three minutes ago.

9:51 p.m. --- I spend $12 to take a taxicab to my car, still parked five-ish miles away at this morning's busstop.

10:03 p.m. --- My canned tuna, butterscotch pudding & Capri Sun are sitting on the passenger's seat of my car, where they have apparently been all day. After all this, I am oddly comforted to realize that my hitchhiker didn't rob me of lunch.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On-The-Go Beauty

I guess sometimes you just don't have time to trim your beard before leaving the house.




Do yo' thang, my friend.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fear Factor II: They're Baaaaaack!


OH, SWEET JESUS, THERE ARE MORE OF THEM.




This one was dead. But where there are dead ones, there are surely more live ones...

Cue hyperventilation.

"It's Like Riding a Bike."

A teaser: This post will include A) one of the least attractive photos of me ever taken, and B) one of my most shameful stories to date.

I want a bike. In fact, I want a bike so badly that I check Craigslist at least four times a week in the hopes that someone will be selling one within my price range. No dice.

One of my friends (the one I discovered The Cookie Diet with) is in St. Louis for the weekend. In her absence, I was granted temporary possession of her bicycle, which was locked up at our office. Yesterday, as I headed out to dinner at Cafe Luna for a girls' night (refer back to yesterday's post about my favorite typo ever), I realized I had the blessed option of riding "my" bike there. Enthusiasm abounded.

I walked it to dinner because a friend joined me for the trek, but I was beyond jazzed about the prospect of riding home afterward. Unsurprisingly, a few factors quickly brought my usual nerves to full attention:
  • A sideways-raining thunderstorm queued up halfway through dinner, soaking the city.
  • I was reminded that there are no bike lanes on Connecticut Avenue, greatly increasing my chances of being mowed down by a vehicle.
Needless to say, I began to think of all the many ways I could die a painful bike-related death on the two-mile ride home:


Post-meal, my about-to-bike-ride situation went down as follows, as a crowd of guys looked on in disdain & my friends laughed at, not with, me:
  • I could not get the bike unlocked.
  • Once unlocked, I could not figure out what to do with the lock while I rode.
  • Once we realized there was a lock-holder, we struggled to get the lock into it, & I ultimately threw it in my purse.
  • As I tried to hop on, I discovered the seat was so high that I couldn't keep my balance.
  • I struggled to readjust the seat, deferring to my friend Jill, who handy(wo)manned it into a manageable height.
  • Once on the bike, I could not get my feet in the pedal straps, resulting in much unsteadiness.
  • Once I really made it on, I promptly tumbled onto a parked Vespa & damaged whatever dignity I'd held onto.
  • And once I actually made it on & got moving, I was too scared to ride in the road, thus pissing off people on the sidewalks.
Three blocks in, I bailed, walking the bike back to work & hopping on the Metro. Needless to say, that old cliche is wildly false. I am 24 years old. And I can no longer ride a bike.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Metro Outage Phenomenon: Urban Hitchhiking!

The damage caused by yesterday's Metro accident carried over into this morning, when WMATA.com told me there were delays on all lines of all colors. Intent on finding another way to work, I left my place circa 9:45 a.m. just in time to miss a bus.

No big deal because apparently the bus refused to pick up the would-be passengers waiting at my stop, anyway! The folks waiting were livid - apparently at least two buses had already made their way by without letting them on, each claiming, "There's a bus behind me!" A few more passed before two of my fellow trying-to-be-travelers did the unthinkable - they stuck their thumbs out to solicit rides from passersby in vehicles.

To my surprise, a few folks stopped to ask where we were headed, apologizing when they weren't going our way. Finally, a friendly guy flying solo said he could take us as far as Dupont. Four of us piled in, one toting a suitcase, & off we went down Connecticut Avenue.

I tried to ignore the fact that our Good Samaritan chauffeur bore a strikingly strong resemblance to Sylar, the brain-slicing villain from "Heroes," & instead focus on what good karma this dude was packing. I just kept thinking, "Hey, we could take him if we needed to" & thinking what my mom would say once I told her about this newest adventure.

Proof of my urban hitchhiking experience lives in this photo, surreptitiously snapped from my spot in the back seat. Please ignore the shadow of my finger; it's tough to be sly when you're riding bitch.

Monday, June 22, 2009

DC's Public Transportation Nightmare

In case you haven't turned on a television, listened to a radio or used a computer in the past two & a half hours, today's big news is this: The Metro crashed.

Two train cars on the redline (the line I live on), collided head-to-rear around the start of rush hour between Fort Totten & Takoma Park when one train slammed into a stopped train ahead of it. A 7:15 press conference by Mayor drian Fenty, DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin & Metro General Manager John Catoe confirmed that at least four people are dead, including the driver of the latter train, & as many as 100 are injured, some critically. It's being reported as the deadliest Metro crash in history - & the fire department has indicated that it suspects the body count will rise.


After hearing the news, I raced home as well as one can "race" when taking a bus with what felt like the rest of the city (travel is mighty tight when there's no way to get home), & turned on the TV to discover that the photos & videos are much, much worse than I ever could have imagined. With one train literally sitting atop the other in a heap of twisted metal, it's like a scene ripped from "Die Hard."


If anything is fortunate about this situation, the only thing I can come up with is that it happened on one of the few stretches of the redline that's outside rather than underground. If anything is a blessing in such a tragedy, it's that 12 train cars full of wounded & shocked Metro riders weren't also trapped in underground tunnels, though my sometimes-clausterphobic self shudders in empathy for the folks on the otherwise-unaffected trains that are probably still stopped underground in wait as a result of the accident.



I first heard about it from one of our interns, & the from there, the "Are you OK?"s quickly started rolling in. My journalism friends from home, ever the diligent news readers, checked in on me one by one via frantic texts peppered with nervous exclamation points. Then my Twitter feed exploded, blogger friends checking in on one another's safety via "Where are you?" tweets. News stories began to expand, blog posts began to emerge, & I, for one, have successfully tracked down all but a couple of my DC friends to confirm their safety (fingers crossed for the others, please). Watching the press conference, I was struck by the enormity of my living in a city where something like this can happen.

After today's scare, I can promise you this: I will always, always check in via Twitter. If something goes down & you don't find me there, then you can start to worry. The only other good thing I can find in this disaster? Technology is, indeed, grand.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day Without a Father

My dad was 6' tall & lean, bald with a mustache, a loud laugh & an endless arsenal of bad jokes. He was an aspiring businessman who dropped out of college to support his family & went on to become a star salesman of, I kid you not, golf carts, genuinely charming & befriending everyone he met along the way. And while every little girl thinks her daddy is the most lovable man in the world, I, even now, still truly believe there was no one who met my dad that didn't like him. He worked a lot, but when I was little & an aspiring ballerina, he almost always made time to pick me up from my dance classes, usually stopping along the way at Swenson's, Northeast Ohio's most popular drive-in. He'd get a burger & I'd get a grilled cheese sandwich, & we'd both get sundaes before making our way home.

This past Friday was the 14th anniversary of my dad's death. He'd fought lung cancer for two years, & at age 10, I'd naively thought he was on the road to recovery. I visited him in the hospital on Father's Day 1995, where I made him an ice cream sundae with hot fudge at the sundae bar that the hospital had appropriately set up for the holiday, then I left to go to the lake with friends. The next day, I arrived home early from a sleepover to find my grandma & aunt on our back porch comforting my mother. The summer before I began sixth grade, my father was dead.

I am 24 years old now, & I've given three eulogies; I was recently shocked to learn that one of my bosses, a rabbi, is in his early 30s & has never even given one. The first of my three was for my 45-year-old father, written in rhyming poem form & recited outside on a sunny day in front of family & friends whose attendance I cannot remember. I only remember the other eulogies - one from my uncle, who talked of his friendship with my dad in terms of Sylvester Stallone films, & the other from my mom's best friend's husband, who talked about my dad's firm, memorable handshake. To this day, I strive to make the positive, warm first impression with my handshake that I learned at his funeral that my dad made with his.

There were, of course, times when I was bitter. How can you lose your father at 10 & not be? But it's been 14 years, & I've now been without him longer than I was with him. There have been times when I've even felt lucky to have been the first of my friends to lose a parent - times when I have been able to use my experience to comfort friends as they go through the loss of theirs, when I have wished desperately that they wouldn't have to suffer through what my mom & I did. I think of my dad often, but rarely with too much sadness anymore. Instead, I remember him fondly when I eat Oreos or watch the Indy 500, when I say I hate tomatoes & when I see a Mini Cooper. Of course, I wonder what life would be like had I grown up with him - but then I remember to be thankful for the many, many blessings that have come my way that would not have if he had been present. His headstone now reads "ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS," which he was; lucky for my mom & me, he surrounded himself with good guys, too.

My dad's two best friends are brothers. When he died, they together stepped in to take care of my mom & me the only way they knew how, inviting us to every family reunion, every holiday celebration & every birthday party, adopting us as their own. When I speak about them now, I refer to them as my family - without caveats, unless absolutely necessary. I begged my mom to drive me to the hospital to visit my grandfather before he died of leukemia my sophomore year, & I drove home from college to see my grandmother in hospice care before she did. The first time I every truly cried tears of joy was when I learned that my younger cousin would be receiving his liver transplant, & the first person I called in hysterics when I received my first speeding ticket was my older cousin. They sat with me in the hospital after my back surgery & attended both my high school & college graduation ceremonies. Recently, a little down after spending time with friends & their siblings, I texted my cousin Eric, also an only child, to tell him that the time with them had made me wonder what life would be like with a brother or sister, & that it had made me miss him; he responded immediately to tell me that he loved & missed me. Without blood relation but without explanation or attribution, they are my family. "My dad's side of the family."

Maybe it would not have been this way had my dad been alive. But who can say? The reality is that he is not - but they are. And I am so lucky to have them, both of his best friends & their entire family - my entire family.

So-called "family values" activists claim that children cannot grow up to be happy & healthy unless they have both parents. They say this in reference to same-sex headed families & to parents who divorce, but what message does that send to children like me, the product of single mothers who never intended to be sans husband? I buck at insinuations that children without fathers are doomed to lives of dysfunction & disorder, because I know better. I am both happy & healthy, both normal & responsible - all without a father. I know this is not the case of all children like me, or those of other fatherless circumstances, but as a result of my experiences, I truly believe that the kind of adults that fatherless children grow up to become is not based upon the title of those present in their lives but the love of those present. I may have grown up without a father, but thanks to his two best friends, I never grew up without the love & discipline I needed from father-like figures.

As I
once wrote in a column for my college newspaper (albeit about same-sex headed families, but the sentiment still stands), "Family is composed of the people who care for you the most, who look out for your best interests. That's why so many of us call family friends 'aunt' or 'uncle,' and why so many people don't differentiate between step-relatives and blood relatives. Your family members are the people who love you the most."

This Father's Day, I urge you to think beyond just your father, if you have one. Who are the men that have shaped your life? Don't forget to tell them you love them, too.

Happy Father's Day, Larry & Lanny. Thank you.

My Swine Flu Scare

OK, this title is sort of a lie. I don't think I have swine flu. Really. Even though it'd be great to have & survive swine flu & then join some sort of "I Survived Swine Flu 2009" group on Facebook, the truth is that I am sans swine flu, as far as I know, & that's just fine with me.

I am, however, currently fairly ill, although my level & type of illness are yet to be determined, as I slept for hours upon hours this afternoon but then felt OK enough to go to dinner with my grandma & three of my best friends this evening. Basically, I have a sore throat somethin' awful, so badly that I feel like a circus fire-eater on work-related disability. My grandma, who is not a particularly "grandmotherly" grandmother, made me a breakfast of fruit salad & a bagel this morning, which I promptly vomited up in a coughing fit (TMI? So sorry), then demanded that I stay home today rather than our venturing to Artomatic together. She also scored me cough drops & Dayquil, then later went back out for cough syrup, rendering her bff with the CVS pharmacist.

I learned today, though, that I've recently been exposed to someone who has Influenza A. And I know, you're all like, "There's a pandemic, who hasn't been?" but being sick with something else amidst a pandemic is sort of nerve-wracking. All day, I just kept thinking, "I'VE GOT IT," knowing that what I have is 99.9% likely not swine flu but worrying all the same. In a city where everyone's touching the same handrails & sitting on the same Metro seats, it sure does seem like a pandemic could spread mighty quickly. I think I've got something else, but still - who ever imagined I'd be thankful to have bronchitis/strep/the bubonic plague?

If I die, someone carry on this blog for me, will ya?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grandmaisms, The Sequel

My grandmother is in town! Before posting tonight's entry, I read back through my first "Grandmaisms," the last post I wrote about the amazing matriarch of my little family - & I laughed hysterically, especially at the bagel comment, which is still my absolute favorite thing she's ever said. Fear not, though: She's only been in the District for a mere 28 hours & already she's provided me with quite a few comedic gems. Enjoy!

  • After I bumped into her while we were both putting our makeup on in the bathroom & apologized: "It's OK! My bum just wanted to say hello to your bum."

  • While walking through the Cleveland Park Metro station looking at the ground: "You always have to look where you're walking in case there might be some spit."

  • Stopping by my office before finally grabbing a very late lunch: "I like that time before I eat when I'm REALLY hungry. It makes me feel thin."

  • Sitting at a bus stop: "Are you sure this is a bus stop?"

  • Checking out the bus driver's neon orange & yellow WMATA vest: "I thought that was some jazzy African cloth, but it turned out just to be her bus driver attire. I almost asked her where she got it. I'm glad I didn't!"

  • After my observation that California Tortilla's new teriyaki burrito sounds absolutely foul: "Well, that's a bastard child if I ever saw one."
Not wanting her photo taken:


But payback's a bitch:


But let's get serious. I got some good genes!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fear Factor (Or "My Encounter With the Most Cliche Phobia Ever")

Last night marked a momentous but wildly unhappy occasion - my first cockroach.

While watching an episode of "Dawson's Creek" (fourth season, thankyouverymuch), something scurried out from underneath the chair in which I sat. Pointing, screaming & willing myself not to throw up, I stood by doing very, very little as my friend chased the little BIG bugger around my one-room apartment & finally did it in with one of my beloved Chuck Taylors, now hiding underneath the bookshelf where the roach tried to slip underneath:



A few notes:

  • Cockroaches are fast.
  • I am scared of cockroaches.
  • COCKROACHES ARE FAST.
I had no idea I was so terrified of the city's most hated pests, but there I was, hyperventilating like an asthmatic teenage track star, too frightened to even cry. There I was, even after the beast had been slayed & disposed of, jumping at imaginary movements seen from the corner of my eye. There I was, calling my mother in hysterics & rambling on & on about how I thought there were bugs in my bed & how I wanted to move, rent a hotel room, throw away my belongings so future (current?!) roaches wouldn't have anywhere to hide.

Today, I woke up with a heightened sense of fear but also with a renewed sense of feistiness. Observe! I bought this just in case of a recurrence:


It'll probably give me some rare cancer, so I'm gonna try not to use it unless I reach some sort of dire situation, though please cross your fingers against that. For day-to-day life, I purchased these instead:


So now these small chemical weapons are scattered throughout my minuscule apartment:


Listen, bugs - I'm fightin' back!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pride (In the Name of Love)

Some friends & I marched in the Capital Pride Parade yesterday evening. Note to self: Never eat an entire bag of Kettle Corn - & only an entire bag of Kettle Corn - before marching 1.5 miles in the blazing sun wearing Chuck Taylors. Also, it's possible that I am the sweatiest person alive, or at least in that parade. That said, it was a great time. Most notable moments included:
  • The little, tiny Latino man marching behind us wearing nothing but rainbow body paint & a peacock-like fan hat (photo below);
  • The really attractive guy wearing leopard-print body paint marching with Deaf Youth USA who I referred to as "the Deaf Leopard." Get it? Ba-dum-chhhhh (photo also below);
  • The group of cute lesbians who asked me for free stickers & then hit on me;
  • My friends & fellow marchers jumping onto the Zipcar truck driving in front of us to dance to Lady Gaga with sassy, green-wigged Zipcar employees;
  • The group of parade-watchers who chanted "Who let the Jews out?" (in a friendly way?) as we made our way past;
  • The very excited dude who jumped up & down screaming "SHALOM! SHALOM!" as we made our way past;
  • And, of course, the man who jumped into the parade with us to plant a wet one on my very straight friend Jason as we made our way past (as Jason's girlfriend laughed hysterically & offered zero help).



Cheesy as it may be, it was pretty incredible to be a part of something so fun & festive while rocking out for equality. See you next year!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's a Small City, After All

As of July 2008, the Population Division of the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 591,833 people inhabit the District of Columbia.

That's a lot of people, right?

So tell me why it's so damn easy to run into the handful of folks I don't want to see? Actually, scratch that. Why is it so easy to run into anyone? If they live next door to me or something, OK, I get it - I'm gonna see 'em again. But folks who live in different neighborhoods should have a fairly low chance of running into... well, folks who live in different neighborhoods!

I'm always amazed when I end up on the same train car as anyone I know. Of all the lines, of all the trains, of all the cars, of all the moments, what are the odds of bumping into somebody you've got ties to? It's a big city, & I'm inclined to feel like the odds should be way lower than they are in my mini-city of an Ohio hometown, where I'm likely to run into my entire 383-person graduating class on a single Friday evening spent on the Riverfront.

Yet it happens all the time here. Sometimes it's a positive thing: "OMGZ, Girl-I-Used-to-Intern-With, I haven't seen you in forevs, let's be BFF, kthxbai!" or "Heyyy, Guy-I-Took-to-My-Sorority-Formal, fancy meeting you at the Big Hunt on a Tuesday eve!"

And sometimes, well, it's not.

Take today, for example. I'm running a little late, which is par for the course of my life, yet I am fortunate enough to hop onto a Metro train within one minute of my arrival upon the Cleveland Park platform. Jammin' out to my newly made "Stuff No One Knows" mix on the old iPhone, I take a seat & am headed for work.

But now, I retract my usage of the word "fortunate." Sitting directly across from me is a couple, holding hands & talking cute & nuzzling a little bit. Not one for PDA, mine or yours, I sort of roll my eyes & go back to the indie rock - but wait! I know one half of that couple.

My ex-boyfriend. And his presumably new girlfriend.

"Oh, hey," I say. He nods. She does not acknowledge my presence; she also probably has no idea who I am. Can I even use the term "ex-boyfriend" if, for six months, I refused to use the word "boyfriend"? Oy.

I return to the music, for realz this time, but with infinitely more awkwardness.

Big city, indeed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"The Real World DC:" I Got Big, Big Plans...

A billion points to anyone who can name the song that contains the lyric that makes up the latter half of this post's title. If you can identify it from only those five words, you will receive lifelong love from your humble Suburban Sweetheart.

ANYWAY, on to the point. I got me some plans, y'all.

As you may have heard, MTV's never-ending reality show "The Real World" will be filmed in our nation's capital come month's end. DCist has announced the much-anticipated location of the house (in Dupont Circle), & I am, of course, wildly cranky that my friend Cara, who lived across from said house, moved to New York City a week & a half ago, thus leaving me without any way to subtly case the joint.

I, for one, haven't watched "The Real World" since 1998, when it was located in Seattle & some crazy biatch with Lyme disease who never got any camera ti
me got smacked in the face for calling a housemate a "homosexual" & he threw her teddy bear in the river in further retaliation. Or something. Man, I miss that season.

Anyway, everyone worth their reality TV salt knows that "The Real World" hasn't depicted anything real since, well, everish, but over the past few years, it appears to have worsened. Today's "Real World" consists of nothing more than wildly drunk, inappropriately clothed, unrealistically attractive minors engaging in bisexual curiosity, catty gossip & a host of irresponsible activities for the sake of the camera. When I was in 8th grade, I viewed this debauchery with wide-eyed wonder: "Ooooh, being an adult looks shiny & dramatic!"

Now, though? Now, I'm 24 & "The Real World" is in its 23rd season, & I finally know the truth. Yes, we all know that anything titled "The Real World" should actually be a series about moderately attractive 20-somethings who sometimes go to happy hours but otherwise sit around in their one-room apartments in their underwear & oversized Keith Richards tees blogging & watching "Bones" reruns before packing their lunches & going to bed at 10pm. Not that I'm speaking from any sort of real world experience...

ANYWAY, I've devised a b
rilliant-if-I-do-say-so-myself plan to get close to the show while managing not to end up ass-up & morals-down on national television. I don't want to be one of those skanks who throws myself at the participants because, hey, that's skanky; I AM, however, interested in getting cozy with a cameraman. Yes, a cameraman. Why? Let's break it down:

  1. No humiliating & regrettable in-front-of-the-camera time...
  2. But all the juicy behind-the-cameras insight (read: gossip like mad-crazy).
  3. Also, I will hopefully not feel compelled to abide by any of the tips so scathingly provided by the Anti-Real World in yesterday's post, "5 Tips for Washingtonians That Will Inevitably Hook Up With a Real Worlder."
I know you wish you'd thought of this before me. Try not to be jealous. I'll take pictures behind the scenes, I swear - & I promise not to wear the Keith Richards shirt around my new friends, the cast & crew. Wish me luck - "Real World," ho!

Somebunny's Got Art Skillz

My friend & fellow DC blogger Plight of the Pumpernickel wrote today about "Trends in DC Street Art," using a photo I took circa Easter as a launching pad for a discussion of the next big thing in urban art: Peeps!

So far, I've seen one (Dupont Circle):


And she's seen one (Cleveland Park):


But it appears that as of Sunday, at the latest, our Peeps artist has branched out & become more gender inclusive, as seen on U Street:


Loves it.

So when do the chicks arrive? The yellow Peeps, or the green ones? Oh, yeah, & where are the
red ones? The ones sold exclusively at Target? Those red ones freak me out the most. Bloody Easter marshmallows? No, thanks:


Anyway. Best urban art. Ever? Discuss.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The JDate Disaster: The Final Chapter

If you've been following along, you may have read about my "JDate Disaster," which went down two Sundays ago. I got a little, err, irate when JDate refused to refund my money for a five-month subscription I didn't even know I had, having engaged in a verbal battle with a supervisor who treated me like I was something she'd stepped in.

Last night, I finally mustered up the courage to call JDate back to try to convince them to refund me one more month. They'd initially agreed to just one, then reluctantly to two, but for a few reasons, I felt three was the only fair amount & wanted to try to make my case. I was more than a little terrified, in part because my first experience went so awfully - which you can probably tell by some of the absurd
(yet true) things I initially said about the incident.

Anyway, last night I spoke to a different supervisor, hastily explaining my entire story, assuming she knew nothing of it. A few minutes in, I practically choked on my surprise when she said, "Oh, you're the one who wrote the blog post, right? I'm familiar with your account." Turns out someone at JDate stumbled across my post & sent it along to the CEO. Ummm, whaaaat?! She said that after much staff discussion, "everyone" decided I'd received the correct refund. Embarrassingly, it sort of sounded like they all sat around a staff meeting or a lunchtable with copies of my post.

This story has, for me, a happy ending. I made my case (or else I whined a lot), & the woman I spoke with reluctantly but kindly agreed to refund me a third month. She offered me two months free instead, but the truth is that I'm just not interested right now. I'm interested in JDate-the-Service but not JDate-the-Company - I'm not comfortable returning to a company that I feel has maligned & disrespected me so badly. While I may return eventually (though probably only a free account!), I need some time to lick my wounds. And hopefully to give the folks at JDate time to forget what my face looks like so that if I ever do return, no one sends around a staff email going, "OH! THAT BLOGGING GIRL IS BACK!" On second thought, maybe I should just stick to meeting men the old-fashioned way.

Especially because I've been doing a little digging & have found that JDate is no stranger to this sort of online dating debacle. Wikipedia, clearly the Internet's most reliable source, says, "The Better Business Bureau of the Southland, Inc., found Spark Networks services (including JDate) had an unusually high rate of complaints, due in part to 'deceptive sales practices, unauthorized credit card charges, and difficulty canceling services,' etc." I also found this feisty 2004 post from the now-Internet-famous @EstherK lamenting the site's poor customer service. While it's a relief to know I'm not alone, I really wish the Jewish community's most popular online dating forum were a little more reliable.

But whew - I can't wait to see that $120 make its way back to my back account. And you can best believe that from here on out, I'm going to keep watch over my bank account like a mama bear looks out for her cubs.

As I write this, I realize there's every possibility that the folks at JDate will somehow run into this post, too. If so, I'd like to tell them this: Denise is a keeper. She was firm, skeptical & notably annoyed with me, but she was never disrespectful. Even if she hadn't given me that third month back, I probably would've written this retraction post. Honestly, if I'd just spoken with her in the first place, I never would've felt the urge to write the initial post. OK, or I would've - but maybe it wouldn't have been quite so cranky.

Anyway, thanks for the third month. Hasta la vista.*




*Yes, I just ended this post with "Hasta la vista."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Amazing Grace: The DC Faith Community's Eulogy for Dr. George Tiller

Tonight I attended a memorial service for Dr. George Tiller, the reproductive services provider murdered by a deranged anti-choice "activist" on Sunday, May 31st. The service, sponsored by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, featured a wide array of faith leaders providing reflections, prayers & songs honoring Dr. Tiller's brave work. (For more on the memorial, click here for a Washington Times piece that doesn't begin to do it justice & probably only adds fuels the nasty flames of controversy, but it's there nonetheless.)

As my friends & I walked up the stairs to the National City Christian Church, I was shocked at the presence of nearly a dozen reproductive services escorts dressed in bright orange tank tops. Mostly female, they're trained to escort women seeking abortions & other reproductive services into clinics where they're often harrassed & taunted in the way in. Ever seen "Juno"? Remember the part where Su-Chin calls out, "Your baby has a beating heart, you know. It can feel pain, & it has fingernails!"? That's nothing compared to what some of these women experience. Imagine making the biggest, most difficult & potentially most secretive decision of your life - & imagine having to carry out the initial steps of this emotional, painful decision while being pelted with rocks & spit & the most disgusting slurs you can imagine. Trained escorts provide these women with protection, both physically & emotionally, to the best of their abilities, often risking their own safety & emotions to do so.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see them. After all, this was a widely publicized event. And after all, it was a religious service, which could have made would-be anti-choice activists even angrier than they already are with folks like us who stand by our pro-choice beliefs & use faith-speak to support it, to boot. But seeing them standing there, lining the stone stairs, was a jarring reminder of what I was walking into.

From there, it became difficult not to be suspicious, wary, even scared of what could happen during the service. Who knew who lurked amongst the memorial-goers? A perpetual paranoid, I conjured up awful visions of gunshots & firebombs - & was even more shocked when I realized that they were actual a possibility. Not just that: I realized the enormity of the fact that for reproductive service providers across the country, these very real, very intense feelings of fear & wariness are everyday occurrences, the same way public speaking jitters or about-to-meet-with-the-boss butterflies are for me. These people go to work every day just to do their jobs - their brave, noble jobs - & in the process risk their own safety, mental stability &, I'd imagine, their dignity, every single day.

And as I sat there, under the high ceilings of the church's chapel, with stained glass windows of someone else's Messiah welcoming me, watching a ceremony that took place under a massive cross, as I sat in a place where, by any other circumstance, I might have felt wildly uncomfortable, I found instead that the church & the others in it served as a surprising source of comfort as I sat through my fear, suspicion & wariness. And I asked myself whether I could do what reproductive service providers do, suppressing those emotions every day, always wondering "Who might come after me next?" I asked myself, "If I died here today - if something happened right now - would I be proud to have died for this cause?"

And the answer, I found, was yes. Yes, yes, yes. I would have been.

Sometimes I think of Cassie Bernall, the Columbine High School shooting victim who is alleged to have said "Yes" when her soon-to-be murderer asked whether she believed in God. Faced by a question with an answer that would inevitably lead to her death, she still reportedly chose to stand up for her beliefs. And sometimes I wonder whether there's a cause that I would stand for that way, without blinking twice or backing down.

Tonight I determined that I think the issue of reproductive choice is one that fits the bill.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of Dr. Tiller's colleagues & a fellow abortion provider, choked up as he gave a eulogy for his friend, telling us of the man behind the white coat - the man who started his own clinic because the hospital wasn't providing care he felt was compassionate enough, a man who served his country in the military & then served it as one of the most respected - & hated - abortion providers in the United States. A man who wrote a sign reading "Hell no, we won't go" to protesters who tried to scare him off, & who went home at the end of every night to his teenage sweetheart, four children & 10 grandchildren. A man of family, a man of faith, & a man who believed, above all else, in the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies.

Sometimes, I can't help but think that if only these anti-choice activists could see the people behind the pro-choice movement, they couldn't possibly hate us so much. I want to ask them: "If you knew that someone close to you had chosen to have an abortion, would it change your mind about it? About them?" And I wonder how they would respond: maybe that they don't know anyone who'd ever choose that, or maybe that they'd disown them if they did. But could they? All these women they vilify & & condemn & damn, & the brave medical professionals who provide those women with the opportunity to live their lives - what they fail to see is that these women are our mothers, our wives, our aunts, our grandmothers, our daughters, our sisters, our cousins. If you found out that someone you love - your own mother, even - had an abortion, would it change your mind? Could you disown her? These women - they are your friends & your coworkers & your teachers & your neighbors & the bartender who just served you that Jack & Coke. They are anyone. And because of that, in so many ways, they are everyone.

So yes, this is an issue I'll fight for - proudly. Wouldn't you fight for your mom? Your daughter? Your friends? Yourself? I want what's best for us, & this is it. This is an issue of our health, our compassion, our independence, and yes, of our right to live as we see fit & right for ourselves. And those naysayers, those anti-choicers, those protesters, those people calling us murderers & baby-killers? Well, if they ever somehow need to choose abortion, I'll be their defending their rights, too.

The program for tonight's service included an insert, a an open letter from B.J. Isaacson-Jones, former Executive Director of Reproductive Health Service, printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1989. Titled "Open Letter to 21 Million Women," it calls upon women who employed the clinic's services to speak out in support choice issues. I cried when I read it, these abstract but very real stories of real women, women who are out there somewhere living normal lives, maybe never telling the people who know them best about that one choice they made in the past - the choice to have an abortion.

I can only imagine how difficult it is to be an advocate for reproductive choice following an abortion. I imagine these women live in constant nervousness that they will be discovered, judged & worse. I imagine they are often too afraid to have the voice they'd otherwise like to use, the voice that those of us who have never been faced with such a decision can employ without worry of being "uncovered." So it's up to us, those of us who have nothing to lose & no reputation to risk, to speak up on their behalf & on behalf of the women who will come after - to ensure that our daughters & granddaughters will hold the deeds to their own bodies for years to come.

What can we do for them? For us?
  • Donate, donate, donate. Donate to an advocacy organization like NARAL or Planned Parenthood or RCRC.Or donate to an abortion fund. Federal funds cannot be used for abortion services, so abortion funds help women afford essential reproductive services they cannot finance on their own.
  • Get involved. Write to your Senators & member of Congress & urge them to support reproductive rights, including comprehensive sexuality education that teaches students how to have sex safely - not just that sex is evil & abstinence is the only way to live.
  • Become an escort. NARAL & Planned Parenthood both train volunteers in the escort services I mentioned earlier.
  • Speak up. Don't back down. Make your voice heard when it comes to choice issues. But as my friend Emily writes, make sure to "Be conscious of your language. It is easy to turn to hateful language or violent metaphors at times like these. In my opinion, that only makes the conversation around reproductive rights even more heated and potentially destructive. Choose your words carefully and aim to inspire, not anger, others when you speak."
When will "abortion" stop being a dirty word? I wish I knew the answer, though I fear it is a daunting one: "Never." Still, as I sat in the chapel tonight & cried, I also stopped being afraid.

They can scare us, but they won't stop us.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Unicorns, Bacon Marys & the The DC Circulator: A Life-Changing Sunday

This afternoon, I traveled to the U Street Corridor, apparently now billing itself as "MidCity," for brunch at Bar Pilar, home of the famed (at least from my perspective!) Bacon Bloody Mary. My plan, initially, was to take the L2 bus down through Adam's Morgan & then walk from U Street & 18th to Bar Pilar, at 14th & U. Unfortunately, I missed the L2 & instead walked down to Woodley Park, intermittently running alongside the bus I was still trying to catch & then battling for sidewalk space with tourists who insist upon walking four deep on their trip to/from the National Zoo.

When I got to Woodley Park, I spotted a DC Circulator bus, one of these new-fangled, previously-a-huge-mystery buses that apparently only make a few select stops along their route, connecting riders to DC hot spots more quickly than they could otherwise reach them on buses that stop every four blocks or so. Until today, the Circulators were like mythic unicorns - I'd only ever heard of their magic & glory.

OK, fine, unlike unicorns, I'd actually seen Circulator buses before, though, so maybe they weren't unicorns. How about rainbows? The DC Circulator was, until today, like a rainbow whose origins & shining, golden riches I could never locate the source of. Like, where do they stop? No one ever appeared to know. Total mystery.

Until today! Today I took a chance & hopped onto a Circulator bus at its Woodley Park starter stop, assuming it'd take me through Adam's Morgan like the L2 would've.

Ummm, I was wrong.

Instead, it quickly shot down Columbia, & by the time I realized, I was headed in the exact opposite direction in which I wanted to be traveling. I began to freak out, estimating the cab fare and/or the walking distance to Bar Pilar. But no worries! My trusty Circulator made a stop at the Columbia Heights Target (a little slice of sub
urban heaven plopped right inside the District!) & then continued down 14th - exactly where I needed to be!

The moral of this story, especially for all you non-Washingtonians who aren't following my directional descriptions, is that I've now discovered a quick, cheap, easy means of traveling to the one area of the District that I rarely make it to but am most interested in frequenting. U Street (MidCity?!) is amazing & has so much to offer - a real city feel, not this gentrified, Cleveland Park-y bullshiz), but it's too far from home for me to ever be very interested in trekking over there.

But the glorious Circulator costs a mere $1.00 & runs every ten minutes rather than the L2's shoddy every-half-hour-if-you're-lucky-&-only-when-you're-in-a-hurry. What's best is that unlike the L2, which ceases service circa midnight, the Circulator will take me to U Street & back until midnight every weeknight & until 3:30 a.m. on the weekends.

Sorry, sorry. The real moral of the story is this:
MY LIFE HAS BEEN CHANGED.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TMI Thursday: What If?

As you know, I don't really do TMI Thursday, even when I "do" it. I'm not easily embarrassed & I'm also not willingly personal about much of my life, as I was reminded the other day when my mother sent me an email urging me to remove my anti-JDate post. As she threatened to stop reading my blog (is that a painful threat?!),* she provided me with a reminder that plenty of the people I know in real life also go home to their Google Readers, where they then read through my innermost thoughts.

OK, that's a lie. You are not privy to my innermost thoughts, folks. Only the suburban/city-related ones. Mostly the ones that involve me passing judgment on other people.

But what if you DID have front row seats to the inner workings of this brain? What if I DID participate in TMI Thursday's, LiLu- and Maxie-style? What would your Suburban Sweetheart be churning out come the fourth work day of every week?

So this post is a tease. But so what? You know you're curious. If I were to participate fully in TMI Thursday, here are a few of my would-be post titles. You can imagine their would-be content for yourself.

  • TMI Thursday: 'I'm Being Chased. Can I Chill on Your Porch?'
  • TMI Thursday: Happy Birthday to Me - A Mean Right Hook & a Hard Sidewalk
  • TMI Thursday: Auld Lang Syne & Why All Acquaintance WILL Be Forgot By This Time Next Year
  • TMI Thursday: New York State of (Absent-)Mind(ed-At-A-Sketchy-Bar)
  • TMI Thursday: It's OK, This Bathroom Floor Was More Comfortable Than My Bed
  • TMI Thursday: 'Hey, Mom, I Thought You Should Know...'
  • TMI Thursday: Good Morning, Thanks for Breakfast, & of COURSE I Haven't Been Here All Night!
  • TMI Thursday: The Double Entendre of Inauguration Weekend
  • TMI Thursday: 'Is Your Gas Worth More Than My Life?'
  • TMI Thursday: 'You Should Learn to Chew Your Food Better'
  • TMI Thursday: That's What I Get for Waking up in Vegas
  • TMI Thursday: Grasshopper Breath & the Jonas Pledge
  • TMI Thursday: 'Will You Google the Age of Consent for Me?'
  • TMI Thursday: His Futon Feels Exactly Like MY Futon!
  • TMI Thursday: Why Ponytails Are a Weakness in Battle
The best part of writing these has not been recalling all my humiliating life achievements but anticipating what sort of way-worse-than-real-life shenanigans others might conjure up based upon the titles I've provided. Tell me whatcha got?




*I know you're still reading this, Mom.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DC Has Turned Me Into a Person Who...

  • Lays out my outfits the night before I want to wear them.
  • Hangs clothes back up after I've tried them on & discarded them.
  • Packs my lunch the night before to be taken to work the next day.
  • Pre-cuts a grapefruit to pack in my lunch to be taken to work the next day.
  • Packs my lunch in an insulated red lunchbox.
  • Cleans my Tupperware at work as soon as I've finished using it.
  • Actually brings my Tupperware back home to be reused.
  • Uses Tupperware in the first place.
  • Heads directly home after work
  • Gets excited about spending a Saturday at the zoo & an animated movie with her married best friend & said friend's husband.
  • Has a married best friend.
This is the adventurous life I get for moving into the big city?!


Anyway, I'd keep complaining, but it's 9:30 & I've got to go cook pasta to take for lunch tomorrow before I head to bed.
  • Gets in bed before 11:00 p.m.
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