Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Think I Fell for the Girl on TV

Last week, I was a little famous.

OK, that is a blatant lie. But I was on CSPAN, if that counts for anything. And webcast on the House Education & Labor Committee's website. How's that for the big time?

What, you don't watch CSPAN or Congressional webcasts? What do you people do for fun?!

Last Wednesday, the Ed & Labor Committee held a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017), also known as ENDA, a civil rights bill that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate in hiring firing & promotions on the basis of employees' real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sound complicated? It's not. I spent a large chunk of my first year out of college working toward the passage of this bill, including teaching high schoolers about it & guiding them as they lobbied their members of Congress in support of it (which you can do, too!). What I'm saying is that ENDA is pretty dear to my heart.

As a result of some sweet hookups at my big-kid job (look, Ma! I'm an adult!), I had the privilege of being up close & personal in the hearing - & being broadcast live behind one of the witnesses, Camille Olson, throughout the duration of her anti-ENDA testimony. Here I am, in the background of a photo posted on the Ed & Labor's Flickr site, sitting behind Vandy Beth Glenn, who was fired from her job when she revealed she'd be transitioning from male to female.



Yes, I'm on my phone. How embarrassing. But hey, I had to respond to the deluge of "I see you!" texts I got from friends & coworkers as soon as I made my glamorous webcast debut! Also, you know, I had to tweet about it. A lot. And also, it's sort of like my body is now hard-wired to check my iPhone every 30 seconds. Oh, I'm so DC.


PS: If you like me that much, you can even watch me on video, starting at the 1:18:56 marker. I estimate that this five-minute testimony means I have at least 10 more minutes of pseudo-fame headed my way.

PPS: I'm serious. Tell your Members of Congress to pass ENDA.

PPPS(?!): CSPAN. I meant it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm on a Bus & It's Going Slow &...

In keeping with my ongoing stream of bad luck when it comes to public transportation, this morning this happened:


An accident on Connecticut meant that the driver of my usual L1 went off the beaten path, weaving her way through Adam's Morgan & refusing to let any passengers off until the bus was back on its proper course. As a result, I spent at least 25 minutes on a ride that typically takes fewer than 10. I sent an "I'll be late message" to my office that included the line that's now titling this post.

So while trapped, at the suggestion of a coworker, I composed a song on my iPhone - ain't technology grand? You might recognize the original tune:


Forgive the language of my lyrics, but T-Pain made me do it. Enjoy!

"I'm On a Bus"
By Suburban Sweetheart

Oh shit, get your SmarTrips ready
It's about to go down
Everybody in the place stay in your fucking seats
But stay on your motherfucking toes
We're stuck in traffic, let's go

I'm on a bus, I'm on a bus
Everybody look at me
'Cause I'm stuck on a bus
I'm on a bus, I'm on a bus
Take a good hard look
At the motherfucking bus

I'm on a bus, motherfucker, take a look at me
Straight waitin' on a bus in the middle of the street
Whining with strangers, glad I got Twitter on my phone
You can't help me motherfucker, 'cause I'm on a bus

Take a cab, trick, I'm on a bus, bitch
We sweatin' balls, champ, and it drips.
I got my iPhone & my work clothes,
I'm working my temper, you're at work doin' your thing.

I'm riding WMATA, doing flips and shit
This bus is sittin’, getting everybody all pissed
But this ain't a nightmare, this is real as it gets
I'm on a bus, motherfucker, don't you ever forget

I'm on a bus & it's going slow &
I got half a mind to hit the driver with my hand.
I need to get rescued, on a bus like Keanu
If you're at work, then be glad that it’s me & not you
Get the fuck up, this bus is real

Fuck ground, I'm on a bus, motherfucker
Fuck trees, I climb seats, motherfucker
I'm on the road with some strangers, motherfucker
This bus engine make noise, motherfucker

Hey, WMATA, if you could see me now:
An hour late to work & I’m like “Wow.”
Gonna ride this bus into hell somehow.
Like Kevin Garnett, anything is possible.

I'm on a bus, I'm on a bus
Everybody look at me
'Cause I'm stuck on a bus
I'm on a bus, I'm on a bus
Take a good hard look
At the motherfucking bus

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Best Things in Life are Free



Spotted taped to the window of the Velvet Lounge on my way home from seeing The Walkmen play the 9:30 Club. Good friends, great music, funny signs. My faves.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Work Harder for the Money (So Hard for It, Honey)

I hate to start the new year (Happy 5770!) with complaints, but I've been thinking quite a bit lately about customer service. As a long-time menial-jobs-holder, I fancy myself fairly adept at common customer courtesy. As such, I'm repeatedly baffled by the service industry's overwhelming & frequent inability to be hospitable &/or kind &/or competent. Recent noteworthy offenders of such customer services fails in the DC area include:

Lou Lou, 1601 Connecticut Ave. NW
Despite Lou Lou's adorable, affordable & ever-changing stock of accessories (multiple score!), I'm sadly considering a store boycott based on its consistently Mean Girls-esque customer service. I know you're trendy, ladies, but sell me my necklace minus the 'tude, if you please. Case in point: I brought a falling-apart-but-otherwise-awesome green headband to a store clerk, asking if they had others in tact in the back; she gave me some snooty answer about how they only carry a limited number of items because they're all "unique." Well, OK, but then they should also be unique enough not to disintegrate on the shelf! Kicker: She then offered to hot glue it together for me before I paid. Honey, I'm not shelling out $20 for some cashier's arts & crafts project.
CVS, 6 Dupont Circle NW
This is the busiest CVS in existence, I get it. It's open 24 hours, has approximately four people on staff, & is located in the heart of hoppin' Dupont. But when I need someone to unlock the cabinet that houses teeth whitening strips, I shouldn't have to loiter in the dental aisle for 15 minutes waiting - after I ask for help & after a pharmacist pages someone to help & after at least four conscientious shoppers eyeball me like I'm about to pocket a few toothbrushes. The employee who finally came to my assistance told me I couldn't pay for them at the pharmacy, which would've meant waiting in two ungodly long lines. Luckily, I'm practiced in withering facial expressions, so she caved pretty quickly.
Yogiberry, 3515 Connecticut Ave. NW
The good people at my fave local froyo joint have begun asking for customers' names to slap onto their orders. Why? So that they can then set them on the countertop quietly when they're ready. Sigh. If you're gonna take my name, call it out! (That's what she said?) And today, my friend & the woman behind her both ordered froyo with bananas on top. But instead of saying something along the lines of, "We're all out of bananas," the froyo folks instead tried to quietly substitute bananas with... raspberries. Yeah, that is not the same thing. If you don't have the topping a customer orders, you don't just throw on a completely different one & hope no one notices. That's like a GAP cashier saying, "Hey, we're all out of jeans, so I rang up this blazer for you instead." That's just... not how substitutions work.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This Little Piggy Gave Me a Sandwich!



Fine, the woman standing next to the pig gave it to me. "Vegetarian sandwich?" she asked. And even though I'd just finished telling my friend Isaac how much I dislike PETA & its guerilla vegetarianism tactics, I smiled & took the sandwich anyway, like a sucker.

It was made of white bread, lettuce & some sort of slimy, light brown lunch meat that resembled already-ingested Arby's roast beef. "What kind of meat do you think this is?" I wondered aloud, inspecting the meal with disdain.

"It's not," Isaac answered. "It's a vegetarian sandwich."

(Just because I live in a city full of smart folks doesn't mean I always make the intellectual cut.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The (Sort-Of-But-Not-Really) Dating Game

In college, my best male friend (who doesn't read my blog, so he'll have no idea I'm talking about him) often accused me of not knowing how to "play the game." Yeah, you know the game - the dating one.

Quick overview: I haven't seriously dated anyone for more than three & a half years, not since my Epic Life Fail of Early 2006, a nightmarish era during which I alienated my boyfriend AND all of my friends in one fell swoop. (I've since reacquired the latter, thankfully.) Since then, I've dabbled in dating, but nothing worth talking about. I've been on a few stray dates & even technically "dated" someone for a whopping six months, though it was not particularly serious or successful (er, clearly).

As a result, I often claim that "I don't date," which is, I've noticed, a line that a number of single twentysomethings use as a thinly veiled defense mechanism for explaining away loneliness & incompatibility. In many ways, though, it's true about me. I'm not interested in going on dates, per se. In fact, I despise the stilted discomfort of going on actual dates, of having to prove myself. And I am distrusting of other people's intentions. Oh, & also, I can be pretty horrifically awkward.

My friend is right: Even when I know the rules, I often consciously neglect to abide by them. I don't like the rules of the game, so I just don't play it at all. In fact, while thinking about this recently, I Googled "rules of dating" & subsequently came up with the most archaic, offensive dating website in existence; I've selected a few gems of advice to berate for your entertainment. Your equally scathing input is, of course, greatly appreciated.
  1. Always look great, whatever your income. ["Easier said than done," you're grumbling? Pshaw. You need lipstick more than you need groceries. Forgo the copay at that doctor's appointment & get your hair did instead.]

  2. Never reveal information you don't have to. An enigmatic woman drives men wild. [Better yet, just become a mannequin. Then you never have to say anything at all. What's more enigmatic than that?]

  3. Keep dates brief, but your men interested. Less is always more. [Do not make attempts to spend time with the people you like. Less is particularly more when it comes to your own happiness. Wait. What?]

  4. Try & stay in shape & involve some fitness regime at a gym. However much you hate it, your Mr. Right loves your body as much as your mind. [In short, chubby chicks are doomed.]

  5. Let your man pay. If he is interested, he is interested enough to ensure you eat well and get home safely in a cab. [I ain't sayin' she's a golddigger...]

  6. Ensure you receive flowers. If he doesn't know what a florist is, dump him. [Best case scenario? Date a florist! Whoever first said "It's the thought that counts" was probably some broke bastard!]

  7. Never, ever sleep with a guy until he has fallen for you. Sex early in your dating game plan will ruin everything. [Oh, hey, double standards are my favorite!]

  8. Always keep a guy waiting & never turn up early. [OK, I like this one. But only because I'm always late & it's nice to be given an excuse for it. "I didn't miss the bus, I'm just playing hard to get."]

  9. Never be at the end of a phone when he calls & always let him leave a message or two first before replying. [Communication is overrated. In the ideal situation, you are a deaf-mute. Men love deaf-mutes. Also, mannequins.]

  10. If he is available Tuesday, you are available Thursday. [Note to self: Pencil "mental manipulation" into my calendar.]

  11. Keep your man standing on quicksand by shifting landmarks & goalposts constantly. [I actually have no idea what this means. I don't even have any snark available. Hold, please...]

  12. Ensure you are a good kisser. Men will walk away if you cannot kiss. Practice on a mirror if you have to. [Better yet, pull a "Cruel Intentions" & practice on Sarah Michelle Gellar! Or some uglier female friend, if you absolutely must or if you can't get yesterday's gloss off your mirror.]

  13. Your ex-boyfriends are your business only. [So I shouldn't tell people that I have a dead one?]

  14. Never talk too much about your father. [I have a dead one of those, too. I'm on a roll! Aw, shoot, I'm gonna be hard-up for conversation...]

  15. Never, ever come across as too available or too desperate. He will run a mile. He is the one doing the chasing. [Never go for what you want.]

  16. If the guy in the corner is gorgeous, go get him & create the need in him for you. [Always go for what you want.]

  17. [When engaging in online dating,] post the best and most vampish photo you can find. [This piece of advice also applies if you're trying to advertise your night escort services or are a 15-year-old Myspace junkie.]

  18. Don't reply to instant messages with clever opening lines. [Oh, God. Capital offense. Whatever you do, DON'T BE CLEVER!]

  19. Make sure your humor levels come across in text. [Unless your sense of humor is of the clever variety, in which case HIDE IT AT ALL COSTS.]

  20. Come across as cool & sophisticated for best results. [This final vague piece of "advice" is my favorite. Would that we all could be cool & sophisticated, right? If I came off as cool & sophisticated all the time, I wouldn't have to Google my bullshit dating tips.]
OK, we can probably all agree that these are not the actual rules, whatever they may really be. The actual rules are largely unspoken & involve things like not being the one to send the Facebook friend request and the first contact message. The real rules involve things like "Don't text more than you speak," "Kiss sober sometimes," "Twitter is not a viable or acceptable form of primary dating communication," & "Stop being interested in guys who have girlfriends."

Needless to say, the real rules are as easily broken as the fake ones...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where Have All the Manners Gone?!

Our country sure did go to town this week, huh? A brief conversation with my mother this evening brought my attention to the extraordinary amount of yelling that went down in the past few days.

Let's recap:
  • Wednesday, 9/9/09: In a shocking move of total disrespect for the position of Commander-in-Chief, virtually unknown Rep. Joe Wilson makes himself wildly (in)famous by yelling "YOU LIE!" during President Obama's address to both chambers of Congress about the need for health care reform. As my (mostly online) pal DCC wrote, " [Obama] will forever be the President and you will forever be the Honorable Joe Wilson who acted to ... dishonor his position, his office and his constituents."

  • Saturday, 9/12/09: Rep. Wilson's fellow misguided countrymen converge in our nation's capital to display racism & idiocy at its finest, waving signs bearing Nazi comparisons & general terrifyingness, as they crowd the National Mall for Glenn Beck's "9/12 Project." Calling themselves patriots & reveling in their own lies, these disgraces to the word "patriot" invaded our fair city for a full 24 hours, inspiring fear in its residents - fear, that is, of contracting that deadly disease known as conservativism, albeit conservatism's most ignorant faction.

  • Saturday, 9/12/09, cont'd: Taking the War Against Manners off the political court and onto the real court, tennis phenom Serena Williams is disqualified from the U.S. Open when she turns on the lineswoman & threatens to "shove this f*cking ball down your throat" after a less-than-desirable call. Mind you, this is after she smashes a racket in rage.

  • Sunday, 9/13/09: Hip-hop hothead Kanye West storms the stage at MTV's Video Music Awards, interrupting country cutie Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video. Declaring to God & the world that Beyonce deserved the award instead, Kanye proceeds to storm off stage (& be escorted out of the building) while Swift, open-mouthed, slowly makes her way off stage in a flurry of confusion & receding boos.
What a week. Miss Manners would be ashamed!

When Autumn Comes, It Doesn't Ask

It’s fall in the city. Sort of. Sure, it feels like it now, but what about when Mother Nature gets fussy & it’s suddenly 85 degrees in mid-October? Yeah, Mother Nature, I’ve got your number. I know what’s up.

Anyway. Fall in the “south” (sort of, as DC isn’t south of much) is nothing like fall in the Midwest (sort of, as Ohio is similarly not west of very much). In Ohio, everything turns from green to autumn, almost literally overnight. One day it’s regular old foliage, & the next day it’s fall. Brilliant, gold-toned fall, the kind that heightens all of your senses & makes you feel alive.

Here, there aren’t so many colors. And there’s a lot more rain. Nature just kind of clams up, like someone murdered summer & winter’s too slow to come take its place yet, so everything’s on hiatus in between. Nothing is ever really red or orange or yellow. It’s still green or it’s already brown.

A lot of people hate autumn because it means winter’s on its way. Me? Well, I’ll save my description of the differences between winters for another day, probably a winter day. But I love fall, even here. It’s too short to spend the whole beautiful season dreading the impending cold & wind. Even without the colors, I’ll take fall over summer any day.

Things I look forward to in the fall:
  • Having an excuse not to go outside. I hate summer, so I think the heat is a good enough reason to stay in, but no one else does. The fall rainy season, however, is widely accepted as a legitimate reason to be an indoor kid.
  • Oktoberfest on the Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront, though I haven’t been in years. This also means kettle corn, corndogs & mullet-spotting.
  • Pumpkin carving. Again, it’s been a few years (ludicrous to carve a pumpkin with no porch to put it on), but this is one of my absolute favorite fall activities, & I’ve been known to force friends & family into participation.
  • The return of primetime TV. Dear "Grey's Anatomy"/"Desperate Housewives"/"Fringe" - I've missed you so.
  • Halloween. Everyone here hates it, so it hasn’t been properly celebrated for at least three years, but I get a rush out of pretending to be something else for a night. And having an excuse to drink & stuff my face. (See photo for last year's costume: "fishing for compliments.")
  • Similarly, Thanksgiving, which means a trip to my grandma’s to spend QT with the fam, which also involves our annual Chanukkah/Christmas gift exchange. Ah, the joys of an interreligious clan.
  • A time to be emo. Fall just feels a little more introspective than the other seasons, giving me the go-ahead to be slightly emotionally wimpy for at least two months.
  • Scarves. And sweaters, though I promise to take it easy on turtlenecks this year. Oh, & boots, too. Also, a bonus: no shorts.
  • Starbucks' caramel apple cider. On a related note, Starbucks' salted hot chocolate, though this often gets pushed off until it’s truly cold.
  • The dwindling of tourist season. Everyone's too busy with school & work to make it into the city to clog up our escalators with stupidity.
What do you love about fall? And how can I end this post wittily?

I cannot.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's Italian Night in Woodley Park!

Overheard outside Open City, where the daily specials were... well, you'll see.
Woman: "No, no, cuh-PRAY-zay."
Man: "OK, OK. Cuh-PRAY-zay. Got it.
Woman: "And gnocchi."
Man: "Gnocchi. Isn't that some character in Japanese manga?"
Please note that, in this case, "gnocchi" was pronounced "guh-NOCK-ee." And no, I don't think he was being ironic, although I'll give him the manga joke. Because I'm gracious.

As hellish as their presence usually is, tourists can also be such gems, as demonstrated. How much do you want to bet that these ones were Midwesterners?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm Not a Superhero, I Just Play One on Public Transportation

Tonight, I grabbed dinner with friends at Pete's Apizza in Columbia Heights, where carbs & general happiness abounded. During a round of story-telling, we had a revelation of sorts - I'm a WMATA superhero!

What?

No, I mean it. In the past three months, the following situations have occurred:
  1. I sprinted from my (old) apartment to catch an L2 bus one weeknight. As I stepped onto the bus, the wobbly, little old man on the top step in front of me teetered & fell backwards. I caught him - all 100 or so pounds, cane & all - & swiftly deposited him back on the top step where he belonged. "I didn't know you were there," he breathed. "I thought I was going to die." An exaggeration? Perhaps. But it is almost certain he would have fractured some part of his fragile self had he taken the full tumble.

  2. While riding a bus back to work following a midday physical therapy appointment, the bus driver pulled up at a stop in Farragut to discover a fallen women lying in the bus shelter. "Ma'am, are you OK?!" he yelled out the door. When she didn't answer, I climbed off the bus & joined a fellow passerby in calling 911 & waiting as EMS came out to tend to the bruised, bloody & very dirty old woman who'd fallen face-first onto the sidewalk & couldn't seem to speak properly.

  3. This morning while exiting a train at Dupont Circle, I watched in horror as a man with pens in his shirt pocket somehow became tangled up in the iPod cord of a woman walking past him. As she hurried on by, she unknowingly dragged him to his knees on the platform next to the open train door while he screamed "Stop walking!" A bewildered onlooking crowd tried to keep the doors open so he wouldn't get stuck in them if the train pulled away, but when she stopped, the two of them were so badly intertwined that they couldn't get themselves undone. I hurriedly detached them as he yelled obscenities & as she apologized profusely, just in time for them to miss the train - & wait on the platform alone together.
There you have it. I have no idea how I find myself in so many dramatic situations, but neither does Superman. Need a hero while aboard the bus? Desperate for rescue while riding the rail? Apparently I'm your girl!
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