Friday, July 30, 2010
I want the Woodley Park Starbucks employees to do the same for me. After all, I am their mayor.
Last week, upon my post-lunch pick-me-up arrival, my favorite barista, the tall guy who used to work at the Starbucks in my old neighborhood, asked, “The usual?” I practically fainted with joy. I’M A REGULAR! “One shot?” he asked, just in case it was a two-shot kind of day instead. I’M SUCH A REGULAR THAT THE DUDE EVEN CHECKS ON MY WELFARE. You can’t imagine my happiness. Or maybe you can.
Today, I went ahead & ordered my drink because I am a noble ruler who can walk among the little people & live like them (much like @CongJoeWilson). When I asked the barista for a bag to hold my sandwich, cashews & yogurt cup (there’s a shortage of restaurants in Woodley Park, OK?), she informed me that she’d have to charge me five cents for it. “It’s a DC thing,” she lamented cheerfully.
I am fully aware of this “DC thing.” Because I live in DC. And because I come to this Starbucks every day.
To add insult to injury, as she handed me my receipt, she stamped the back & asked, “Are you familiar with our Treat Receipts?” My heart skipped a beat, & not in a good way (is there a good way for that? I guess it’s more of a medical malady than a metaphor). I know all about Treat Receipts, which allow you to purchase any cold grande bev for just $2 after 2pm with an a.m. receipt. I know all about Treat Receipts because I use them as often as possible. And because I come to this Starbucks every day. Did I mention that?
I campaigned hard for my mayorship. I’ve worked in this neighborhood for a mere two months but my dedication to the district means that I have already visited this store 20 times in an attempt to oust the previous ruler, who was no doubt undeserving & unqualified to serve in this post. And 20 trips means at least $87 spent, which is an expensive campaign investment for a young professional like me.
In short, I demand more of my citizenry. I KNOW ABOUT YOUR BAG TAX! I KNOW ABOUT YOUR TREAT RECEIPTS! I HAVE "A USUAL"! Can't a ruler get a little respect?
The intern in my office says "It could've been funnier," & while I agree, I have to give credit to any well-made attempt at DC snark.
Sometimes interns are cool.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
After you've mentally complimented my distinctly Perez Hilton-esque Paint abilities, let's discuss what ameliorates heat like this & makes life better. The answer is: NOTHING. But let me tell you about a few of the methods I've tried:
- Today I wore a maxidress to try to minimize sweatiness. Ironic? Anyway, both roommates complimented the dress, & I was quite happy about it. Unfortunately, the thigh rub that comes with summer dress-wearing did not make for sustained happiness.
- I also saw "Inception" for a second time, & for the second time, I fell asleep. Ironic? Anyway, I didn't fall asleep during the same parts as last time (or spill anything caramelized in my purse), so it all came together quite well. Unfortunately, the temperature inside the theater was approximately 85 degrees, which didn't feel like such a break from the outdoor heat.
- And I went to Sticky Rice for brunch with the roommates. Nothing ironic or unfortunate there, just delicious. And while it didn't do much to cool me down, it sure did fill me up. Tater tots for breakfast? Well, OK.
Don't mind me. I'll just be sitting here in my pajamas, watching "Men in Black," & oh yeah, sweating. Snowpocalypse, I miss you.
Friday, July 23, 2010
My good friend Elissa has an aggressive form of cancer. For the third time. She learned it was back the same week that she learned she’d been accepted to rabbinical school – a dream interrupted by a nightmare. But if you didn’t know she had cancer, you’d never guess. Elissa is one of the most upbeat, positive people I know, always ready with a joke or a laugh or advice. She’s also the only person who wanted to see “Twilight” with me, which gives her extra points… or fewer, I guess, depending on your views of vampires.
Elissa needs a bone marrow transplant, & by joining the National Bone Marrow Registry, you can help her find one. A simple (painless!) cheek swab will determine whether you’re a match for Elissa or someone else in need of a transplant. Of course, there are a few caveats: Donors must be between 18 and 60 and in good health. But beyond that, it’s vital that the search for a bone marrow donor spread far and wide – the more people who register, the better her chances of finding a match.
On to the details for DC-area folks: My friends have organized a bone marrow registry drive on my birthday, Thursday, August 5, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm at the DC Jewish Community Center (
Not in DC? You can – and should – still register. Here’s how:
- Find a registry drive near you. Marrow.org and GiftofLife.org both list upcoming drives where you can register for free in very state from
Maineto California– and even . Israel
- Can’t find a nearby drive? Organize one of your own! Learn more.
- It costs some scrills to have a swab kit mailed to your home, but the fee is tax-deductible. Visit Marrow.org or GiftofLife.org for more info.
- I don’t know how many pregnant readers I’ve got out there, but if you’re with child, consider donating your baby’s umbilical cord to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease. Just by being born, your baby can save a life – what a way to start out, huh?
I can’t think of any better birthday gift than a bone marrow transplant for Elissa. Make it happen, will ya?
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I've had it since December 2008, which makes it a dinosaur in Technology Years (which are much shorter, even, than Dog Years). Today, it slid off my bed & turned off upon impact with the floor. Despite my prodding, pushing & pleading, it remained dark, taunting me with my inability to tweet or to track the next bus or to text a particular boy or even to tell the damn time. I spent a full afternoon without it, a bit panicky, even while sitting through a movie. (During that time, I also spilled an entire McDonald's frappe in my purse, but that's a story for another day, about me getting my comeuppance for being the jerk who sneaks outside food into the theatre.)
When I got home, I plugged my phone in again & literally begged - out loud, as if there are special techno-gods listening for such pleas from above - for my phone to turn back on. And you know what? It did. So I called my grandmother. And then I checked my work email & tweeted a bit & browsed Facebook & GChatted with a friend & watched Firefly on Netflix & Skyped with my mom & am now blogging about it all.
Truth be told, I'm ashamed of how panicky I become when my technology doesn't work. For a self-professed misser of the days when things were simpler, I sure am dependent on my toys. But do you ever stop & remember how we functioned as kids, calling our friends' landlines to play & then spending entire days at the swimming pool with no contact with anyone but the people we were with? And remember how we functioned in high school, waiting for boys to call our landlines & spending nights out on the town with no contact with anyone but the girlfriends we were with? Appreciating the people in front of us, the situations we were in, the lives we led.
Technology has done amazing things for us, & I love it, but it's also stressing me the hell out. I don't want to be this connected all the time. I want to read books & walk dogs (I don't have a dog) & ride bikes (my tires are flat) & blah, blah, blah. Of course, I'm not the first person to write this blog post, nor am I the most eloquent. In fact, columnist Bob Herbert said it much better than this in a recent New York Times op-ed titled "Tweet Less, Kiss More." In it, he challenges us: "We need to reduce the speed limits of our lives. We need to savor the trip. Leave the cellphone at home every once in awhile. Try kissing more and tweeting less. And stop talking so much. Listen." And would that I could kiss more, but dude's got a point about the whole connectivity thing, right?
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled my phone's not actually broken. But in light of my afternoon of radio silence, I had to ask myself: Was it so terrible to spend a full five hours disconnected? Did I miss anything essential? Did the world crumble & implode while I couldn't send 140-character updates to 1,447 strangers or look through my college classmates' wedding photos? Admittedly & overwhelmingly, the answer is no. This afternoon was a little reminder that it's OK to enjoy life free of the tether I've allowed technology to impose upon me.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
In case you missed the rest of the series, check out the other stuff tourists like by reading Part I & Part II, as observed during my lunch hour in the National Zoo neighborhood. Today, I proudly present you with the newest installment, one with lots of photographic evidence to prove its truthfulness:
- Bucket Hats: It's sunny out there, & as a Cullen-skinned young lady myself, I respect tourists' desire to avoid melanoma. After all, no one digs the leather look (save Snooki, I guess, but she's not visiting the National Zoo), which means lathering sunscreen on religiously, only to promptly sweat it off - or donning a hat to shield the rays.
I tend to be of the belief system that almost all hats are hideously disgusting, though I concede that there are some forgivable options, including variations on the fedora & the straw hat. But you know what I can almost never get on board with? Bucket hats. And tourists love bucket hats. They're everywhere. I truly have no idea why, having not sported a bucket hat myself since the very early '90s (Lord forgive me). Maybe it's the brim? Maybe it's the full coverage the brim provides? Maybe it's a Gilligan complex? Regardless, every time I head out to pick up lunch, I spot at least five new bucket hats on the go.
And come on. These hats are good. Am I right?
PS: Are you following along in a reader? Click through & check out my new layout, as designed by the lovely Moorea Seal. Let me know what you think!
Monday, July 12, 2010
The ride wasn't ideal, save for the lovely British girl I befriended to pass the time. But when the train rolled into the station & I finally made it to Charlottesville late Friday night, I fell in a little bit of love. It's quiet there, slow & quaint, a college town with a lot of charm. I shared a hotel room with my mother, & there was much cuteness to be had:
But perhaps more importantly (not that you're not important, Mom!), my phone didn't work half the time in the sticks of the Commonwealth, providing me a mandatory technology vacation - which, let's face it, I can always use. It looked a little bit like this:
You don't need all the wedding details, which will seem tedious because you don't know the people involved or care about their lives (or mine, for that matter). Suffice it to say there was no tweeting, no phone calls, no blogging, no checking of the email. But what was there is far more gratifying than what wasn't - there were sunflowers & a lake & sparklers & Yuengling & dancing. There was cake & pulled pork sandwiches & a Klezmer band. There was a field in the mountains in the middle of nowhere - or maybe in the middle of everywhere. There was family. There was love & happiness & all those other good, mushy things. There was no stress at all. And that? Was the best part.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
It's when LeBron James, Akron's own basketball prodigy - Cleveland's favorite son - is expected to announce his big decision. Will he stay or will he go? At the end of June, all guesses indicated that he would be leaving the Mistake on the Lake for someplace harder, better, faster stronger. Now, reports hint that he'll be staying in the city that raised him & plays him.
And why would he leave? Sure, the whole world wants him. Sure, he's been wooed by everyone from opera singers to rap stars to celebrity chefs - & let's not forget the promises of hefty(er) paychecks. But when you think about it, why would LeBron James ever want to leave the city that worships him so?
Think about it this way: Say you became the king of a small country, a country that was struggling & downtrodden, & under your leadership, that country began to flourish. It might sound a little sad but, but really, the citizens of your country don't worship anything or anyone but you - they rely on you to buoy both their economy & their hope. You are the epitome of a big fish in a small pond - the biggest of fish in the clingiest, most thankful, most appreciative of ponds. You're the King & your reign is guaranteed; no one else even comes close. Why would you ever leave your throne?
And that's what Cleveland is to King James, who first landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was just 17, a kid who, without really meaning to, gave a busted city a lot of things - but mostly hope. Sure, he doesn't tip his hometown waiters & his mom once kicked out the windows of a police cruiser, but in CLE, the King reigns supreme. He revived a dying city, gave it someone to believe in & something to look forward to. And in return, it gave him everything - a desperate, fervent, please-don't-leave-us-because-we're-nothing-without-you love. He is not just our claim to fame; for seven years now, he has also been our claim to legitimacy.
It sounds cheesy, & it is. And truth be told, it kills me to see the city I love beg a star to stay. Cleveland is better than that, & I think Clevelanders have a lot more to love than basketball royalty. It pains me to watch the city become a desperate pawn in one man's big decision; he is, after all, just a man (and from what I can tell, not even a particularly nice man, at that). But the city that LeBron built loves its leader, & we feel deeply that he ought to love us back - & that he ought to love us enough to stay. Just as he built us, we built him.
#LeBromageddon is coming. The countdown begins...
Monday, July 5, 2010
When I was younger, we spent a few years going to family friends' house on Independence Day; in my little kid brain, they had the greatest holiday picnic on the planet. There were sparklers & Roman candles (albeit far, far from safety-conscious me); there were those little white pellets that explode when they hit the pavement; there were Firecracker popsicles & watermelon slices & pasta salads with little slivers of pepperoni in them, because that's what Midwesterners do with pasta salad. More importantly, there were friends & there was fun.
As I got older, it remained my favorite holiday - in part, perhaps, because I don't recall ever having a bad one. When I was 17, it was the holiday during which I reunited with my high school boyfriend; as we kissed on a hill after a fireworks display, an elderly couple commented in passing on the joys of being young & in love. When I was 18, I tearfully saw my college boyfriend off to Army boot camp at an Independence Day barbecue with his friends & family. When I was 21, I spent my first 4th in the District, decked out in the touristy-but-requisite red, white & blue & picnicking on the lawn of the National Mall with other summer interns. I've now spent three more holidays in the District, including waiting out a thunderstorm at the base of the Washington Monument & more than one incidence of grilling & day-drinking.
I think I liked it so much - like it still - because nothing about the Fourth of July ever feels mandatory, like the formal, sit-down dinners of Thanksgiving or sitting through services at synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. The Fourth is a holiday free-for-all, doing whatever you want to do with whomever you like most & eating food that's undeniably tastier than that of any other holidays (read: hot dogs). Maybe I'm actually a closeted romantic, though I shudder at the thought - something about fireworks, so big & beautiful & booming, makes me feel both small & important, like there's plenty to discover & take on & learn & love.
This weekend followed suit with the Fourths of July that came before, proving to be a perfect long weekend full of all the right things. Last night, my friends & I forewent the Mall in favor of grilling on friends' roofdeck, with an almost entirely unobstructed view of the fireworks; when they were over, the whole deck erupted into raucous cheering after a man proposed to his girlfriend. And when we turned away from the spot where the fireworks had been, we found that smaller displays were going on all across the city & into Maryland & Virginia, little explosions of colored lights popping up in the distance as far as we could see. The idea that throughout the metropolitan area - throughout the country - people were doing the exact same thing as we were, celebrating with friends & taking in the day, was somehow both powerful & simple, & of course the view & the company were unparalleled.
One of my favorite songs has long been Jimmy Eat World's "Just Watch the Fireworks," which always reminds of the Fourth of July, though there are no real references to it. The lyrics go, in part, "Here, you can be anything, anything that scares you. I think that scares you." They've always felt applicable to my life in DC, a place that has always been so beyond me, even when I've been in love with it. There's so much here - so much power, so much potential. On that Fourth of July four years ago, I cried at the end of the fireworks display on the Mall, promising myself that I would move here, that I would find a way to return, that I would become something that scared me.
Four years later, it seems I may not be in DC come this time next year; I say that regularly, I know, but this time, it feels truer. This Fourth was simpler than holidays past, yet another reminder that my life is infinitely good - but that it is also different than it used to be. "You can be anything, anything that scares you. I think that scares you." Time changes everything, & everything has, indeed, changed.