Merry Belated Christmas to all my Detainee Friends

Monday, December 31, 2007

Apparently I forgot to throw down this photo before Jesus' birthday passed, but it's better late than never, right? I mean, I don't think the Christ child was actually even born on December 25th - didn't the New Testament's calendar scheduler eff it up because he thought a winter birthday sounded cozy? Or something?

This picture was taken at Kramerbooks & Afterwords, the ballerest bookstore in existence. Sort of. Anyway, I like it a lot, & so did Monica Lewinsky, who purchased "Vox," a book about phone sex, here. Ken Starr subpoened those purchase records, so this place is basically legend, in addition to being all-around awesome & serving really stellar butternut squash ravioli at its restaurant.

Where else would you see such a sign but in the nation's freedom-lovin' capital?

And can someone tell me why Charles Shulz's Peanuts book fits into the detainee category?Am I missing a major chunk of historical info?

Your Suburban Sweetheart Travels Home

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ahhh, home -- the land of LeBron "The King" James & weather so cold you'll forget your appendages exist.

I spend a lot of my time in D.C. defending my hometown, but the truth is, the three pictures I took this weekend didn't do a damn thing to raise the Rowdy's reputation.

Exhibit A: This woman's wool jacket, which is a rainbow disaster of the most catastrophic proportions. I believe the overall theme here is "Gay Superman goes Native American."

Exhibit B: One inflatable Christmas decoration? Heinous. Two inflatable Christmas decorations? Unforgiveable. But SEVEN inflatable Christmas decorations? Unconscionable. For the record, one of these was actually a band of some sort, & it blasted holiday tunes onto the street. If I were these people's neighbors, I would have taken a carving knife to these abominations loooong ago.

Exhibit C: This one is, hands down, my favorite. On Christmas, my mom & I stopped at a gas-station-slash-convenience-store creatively named Food Convenience. As I reached for a box of Claritin, I happened upon this packet of shampoo instead. Want shiny, sparkling hair? Try a little bit of INFANT with your regular conditioning treatment. Rinse, repeat, barf, enjoy.

Dorothy Hamill would be proud

Saturday, December 8, 2007

In big cities, where appearances are everything, so too, then, are terrible haircuts.

In the past few years, I have sported haircuts some truly heinous 'dos. I've resembled everyone from Hulk Hogan (summer '03) to Mr. Clean (spring '06) to Captain Spock (winter '06). I'm not sure which of those this current haircut bumps from the top spots, but it's basically an amalgamation of every horrible haircut I have ever, ever had, all in one.

I'm not giving you pics, but this one should say it all:

I am so f*cked.

Stand By ME, Norman Lear!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I announced this sentence over the office intercom tonight: "David, Norman Lear is at the front door for you."

In case you weren't sure, that was me, your lowly little Suburban Sweetheart, announcing to my famousish figurehead of a boss that Norman Lear, the famous TV writer/producer who brought us gems like The Jeffersons & Diff'rent Strokes, was at the front door of my office building... to light Chanukah candles with us.

Norman Lear, in his fisherman's hat & his LL Bean sweater, pitched to us his new campaign for People for the American Way, asking for our "visceral reactions" to it & really listening to our answers. And then? Then we sang "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" with the famous Mr. Lear & listened to the ringtone on his cell phone - a Yiddish advertising jingle from the 1930s. This is such a phenomenally unreal paragraph that I'm inclined not even to believe myself; alas, dear readers, it is 100% true.

So leave it to my boss - one of the most well-known, well-respected men in the American Jewish community - to NOT know how to take a picture with flash.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I mean... REALLY?

"She Makes the City Seem Like Home"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best thing I've evereverever heard, spoken by a male Starbucks employee in a slow Jamaican drawl: "If I don't get another job, I'm gonna make another baby. That's what I'm worried about." I almost spit out my grande skim chai latte when I heard that one; he didn't seem to find humor in it, which, of course, made it that much funnier.

I was worried today that I'd found a mouse pellet on my hardwood floor... I was, however, quite relieved to find that it was only a rather large fuzz from my new brown sweater. Speaking of rodents, though, I saw an undetermined species of rodent skittering across the sidewalk this afternoon. Is it disgusting if I thought it was sort of cute? I swear it wasn't some big Shredder-style sewer rat; just a waddly little mouse.

I know the city's starting to feel like home: I spent Thanksgiving in the boondocks of sweet Lima, Ohio, & after fewer than 24 hours, I pined to be back in the District. As soon as I got home I indulged in some Sala Thai spicy fried rice & the comfort of my solo apartment. That's not to say that the travel experience itself wasn't a trip (no pun intended) (that's a lie; it was totally intended). Let's recount, shall we?
  • On the way to the airport, my cab driver was listening to a sweet-voiced, Nora Jones-sounding female guitarist strum an acoustic ballad with the lyrics, "Child molestation isn't funny - HA!" and "Open access abortion in every city - but no gun control!"
  • Later, sitting in Reagan National Airport, I chuckled to myself as the USAirways folks announced, "Paging passenger Landon Bridges. Mr. LANDON BRIDGES, report to gate 36A." Sneaky parentals on that one, huh?
  • In other incredible name news, the guy who took my order at DCA's Cosi was named -- and I kid you not -- HAMLET. I swear on my life. The receipt even said it. That guy's parents effing despise him.
Life, my friends, is so good.

(just not to that guy)

Playing Visual Chicken with an Observant Redline Scribbler

Friday, November 16, 2007

Have you ever played that game where one person holds out both hishands, & the other person holds hers right below? The person whose hands are on the bottom tries to smack the person whose hands are on top, while the top person tries to be quicker & pull his hands out before he can be smacked.

That made zero sense. Please tell me you know what I mean.

Anyway, I played the eye-contact version of that game yesterday night with a woman on the train. I noticed her as soon as I got on, mostly because she was wearing a fringed coat... & who does that? But I also noticed her because she had huge, unblinking eyes & because where most passengers listen to iPods or read books or newspapers, this woman was holding a notebook & pen.

I think she must have been just observing, writing down whatever she noticed about whoever was sitting around her. Every time I sneaked a peek, she looked away & stopped writing, her crazybig eyes freaking the heck out of me.

I wonder why she was writing.

And more interestingly... I wonder what she wrote.

Slum Lords are Not an Urban Legend

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Saturday evening, I fell off a chair in my apartment & when I hit the floor, the whole place went dark. Apparently the force of the fall shook something loose in the electrical arena - something the weekend repairmen couldn't fix. "Someone will be in to fix it on Monday while you're at work," they promised me.

Today, I received a note in my mailbox from the receptionist. "Dear Kate," it reads, "Thursday will be the earliest anyone can come to repair electrical problems. Cleon repaired one outlet & that's what you can use until Thursday."

Ignoring the blatantly amusing fact that the repairman's named is, of all things, CLEON (Cletus Judd goes Klingon?), I want to know: Why in Jesus' name it should take five whole days to restore power to my breadbox of a studio?!?!

Overheard on the Redline

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dead-Serious Girl: "But I've never kicked anyone in the balls after sex."


Woman on Platform:
"The train is here."
Her Sassy Male Friend: "Wow. Your cat-like observations really astound me sometimes."


Somewhat-Intelligent Twenty-Something: "Dude, you're not going to get lead poisoning from holding a fucking pencil."
His Less Fortunate Friend: "I'm not taking any chances, man. I'm using pens from now on."


Befuddled Woman on Blackberry:
(to me) "How do you spell cognizant?"
Me: "C-O-G-N-I-Z-A-N-T."
Woman on Blackberry: "That's what I thought, but that Z looked errant."

The Winter Warm & Fuzzies

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Boy, do I love happy graffiti. This is on the window of a consignment shop near my apartment.

On second thought, this might not meet my definition of "happy graffiti." It's sort of depressing, & not actually graffiti, assuming the store owner put it up there herself for customers & passersby. Either way... I love it.

Queens, Queers & Quitting All Urges to Ever Drink Fanta Again

Saturday, November 3, 2007

“This will be my first gay experience!” Jonah told us excitedly.
On Wednesday, we left work early to watch the District’s Annual High Heel Drag Race, a one-minute sprint down a stretch of road off Dupont Circle. The entire scene felt ridiculously like Halloween at Ohio University (which makes it onto’s “Top Party Schools” solely for its town-wide holiday bash), only a little more adult — the drunk folks were mostly in suits, straight from their 9 to 5’s, or else they were in extreme drag.

Dozens of queens paraded down 17th — Condi Rice & Hillary Rodham Clinton both made somewhat masculine appearances (not so far from the truth, I suppose), as did the real-life Mayor Adrian Fenty, sporting a snazzy black fedora & waving to the crowd. Politicians weren’t the only ones in attendance: glittery Flinstones characters & a dozen Renaissance ladies were there, as were the Washington Monument & a slice of grapefruit. The costumes ranged from typical drag (dresses, wigs & boas) to the outrageous (hair as high as my torso is long, etcetera).

I stuck around for pictures, & the Latina queen I first approached was more than happy to oblige. Then the Fanta girls passed, chanting, “Fanta’s sweet and oh-so-fizzy, but what you need is something jizzy!” I requested a shot, but only Lemon took notice, screaming for Strawberry, Orange & Grape to return to her so we could take a full group photo. “They love this!” she insisted.

Heyyyy, Miss Lemon: I do, too.

Neon Life is Beautiful

Monday, October 29, 2007

I live in a neighborhood where all the signs are in neon, like a small, classy Vegas, & just as expensive. Our local shopping center is two blocks from my apartment building; it’s home to Petco, California Tortilla, a grocery store & a Halloween store, among others. Along the two-block strip, there are about four bars, six restaurants, three dry cleaners, a CVS, another grocery store, a movie theatre, a toy store, a consignment shop, a vacuum cleaner, repair shop and an abandoned Radio Shack (hey, it can’t all be sunshine & lollipops).

I’m from a suburb that requires a three-minute drive, at the very least, to get anywhere at all. When I was younger, I used to walk to the Krispy Kreme, the Dairy Queen & the CVS, but all three are gone now, & they were kind of a long walk anyway.

I absolutely love that when I realize, at 10:35 at night, that I’m out of shampoo & face wipes & eyeliner, I can walk the 30 seconds it takes me to get across the street and go buy new ones. Tonight the CVS cashier told me they’re making that store 24-hour, & I was entirely too excited. Nothing like the opportunity to pick up hair color & Oreos at 4 a.m. to make a girl love her location.

City life is the life.

A Match Made in Geekdom Heaven

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Akron, Ohio, has its own mini Craigslist, but there are some posts you're only going to find in big cities.

is one such post.

If you're into sportbikes, World of Warcraft & sexiness, this is the post for you. And if you're not into any of those, perhaps this picture will be enough to entice you:

girl may not be x-core enough for our Asian gamer, but she still sounds mildly hilarious.

Home Sweet Freakish Home

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Since I just moved into my very first very own apartment in Northwest D.C., I thought it fitting that the current issue of the Bible – errr, of Glamour – features “99 Home Ideas.” Now, please bear in mind that my home is actually a glorified dorm room, lacking a kitchen (it’s called a “bachelor studio,” thankyouverymuch) & any semblance of furniture, save a lonely dresser. Still, I thought I’d see how my new abode measures up to the rest of the country.

In “Your home: What’s normal, what’s not,” Glamour reports a few around-the-house statistics. Let’s see how I compare.

  • 36% of women say their biggest decorating splurge was their bed
    I’m sleeping on a ratty, circa 1970 twin mattress that’s been plopped in the corner of the room, prison-style. My comforter was purchased in the children’s aisle at Target, although my mother insists it’s “Asian-inspired.”

  • $456 – Average cost of rent, in dollars, for a single young woman
    Single? Check. Young? Check. Paying $456 a month? Hardly. This glorified dorm room is costing me a whopping $935 a month, which is almost triple what I paid to live in a two-story, five-bedroom townhouse in good old Kent, Ohio.

  • 85% of women say they clean their home once a week or more
    I’ve only been here for a week, so it’s difficult to tell whether I’ll fall into this category of Bree Hodge Wannabes, but let’s be honest – it’s exceptionally unlikely. Unless, of course, swiping a couple Clorox pads across the bathroom floor qualifies as “cleaning.” Somehow, I doubt it does.

  • 31% of women say most of their furnishings are hand-me-downs
    Finally, a category I can align myself with! Both my aforementioned mattress & my tiny white dresser are from my childhood bedroom. My rickety desk, however, is from CVS, & I’m pretty sure I assembled in incorrectly. Or maybe desks from CVS are intended to be rickety. Maybe both, but definitely the latter. Either way, it'd probably be better off being a hand-me-down -- at least they have character.

  • 35% of women younger than 45 own their own home
    Based on the last four statistics, I think it’s safe to say that there’s no way in hell I’m coming anywhere close to this one.

Public Nudity & Spreading the Love

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Overheard today at the Q Street entrance to the Metro, spoken by a tidy if still unattractive young professional on a Blackberry: "Dude, I just had a physical in the spring, so she definitely didn't catch that from me."

I guess there's nothing like a public announcement of genital cleanliness to catch the single ladies' attention, right? Perhaps he'd be welcomed at this event, also advertised in the circle:

I don't exactly know what this means -- or, for that matter, when it's taking place -- but it sounds catchy.

No pun intended.

Starving in the City

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The contents of my fridge are the lamest thing ever:

They are: a McDonald's fruit & walnut salad and two bowls of leftover pasta that I stole from a conference we had at work this weekend. I tried to go pseudo-grocery shopping at CVS, but a combination of mixed-up priorities & poor food selection led me to purchase the following: Chex Mix, an apple cider air freshener, Raisin Bran Crunch, black eyeliner, Cinnamon Toast Crunch bars and the November issue of Glamour.

Faux Car-Jackings & Emotional Breakdowns

Friday, October 12, 2007

The following is a TRUE STORY.

I got off the Metro at 8:00 p.m., on the dot, & proceeded to realize that my car was absolutely absent from the parking deck. I wandered the oddly constructed maze of a structure for 20 minutes before retreating nervously to the station manager's office to report, "I can't find my car." He called the cops, & I retreated up the escalator to wait... where I promptly burst into uncontrollable tears.

A good Samaritan who witnessed my tearful outburst stopped to console me, asking for details & helping me deduce what could possibly have happened. Because I'm moving into my new apartment tomorrow, my car was packed with a ton of my stuff. As I was quite sure I hadn't parked illegally, warranting a tow, I assumed the worst - someone had spotted the new Target trash can & the Black & Decker toaster over in my back seat & made off with them in my beloved Sylvia the Civic. "That's it," I conceded. "Stolen."

I made a few more laps to look for the car, hyperventilating as I tried to tell The Samaritan what was happening - no luck. When I returned to the station area to wait for the police, the good Samaritan returned, this time with her husband & children. Her husband helped me locate an address for the towing company, which reported that they had not, in fact, taken my vehicle today. While I kept waiting for the 5-0, the Samaritan Fam took off in their own vehicle to circle the lot and make sure I hadn't missed mine.

The Attractive Cops showed up, where I burst back into tears & explained my situation. They assigned me to sitting & waiting for the Samaritans to return while they, too, walked the lot in search of dear old Sylvia --- just in case. As I sobbed to my mother on my cell & caused quite the ruckus within the station area (people were staring, I was ignoring), Mr. Samaritan gave me a little ring & said, "Your car is in 2D. We're here with the police."

Attractive Cop Numero Uno retrieved me from my waiting post & we trekked to 2D, where Attractive Cop Numero Dos was standing next to Sylvia, who was still packed with my toaster oven & my various other belongings, thank heavens. Mr. Samaritan called one more time to be sure everything worked out all right - I thanked him & the Metro PD profusely, & called my mother to reassure her that no, my car had not been jacked in the 'burbs of Maryland.

Moral of this story??? I'm a tool, yes, but you already knew that. The real moral is this: I AM MOVING TOMORROW, & I COULD NOT BE ANY HAPPIER THAT I NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE MY CAR TO THE GLENMONT METRO STATION EVER AGAIN.

That Bitch Named Karma

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Monday's post, should you have missed it (which you shouldn't have), I discussed the sheer hilarity of watching Leggings-As-Pants Girl trip some businesswoman at the top of the Metro escalator. The woman biffed so hard she lost a shoe, like a Dane Cook-style hit & run, which I, of course, adored.

And yesterday morning, while crossing New Hampshire with a cinnamon raisin bagel and a cup of fruit from Cosi, my black & white tweed flats betrayed me. Their not-so-superbly tractioned soles gave way to the dewy morning concrete, and I royally WIPED OUT mid-crossing. I literally dropped to my knees in a baseball-style slide right in the center of the crosswalk. I dragged my pathetic self to the center island, where I proceeded to whimper, bleed & blush furiously as two highly attractive men offered to call me a cab.

My ego isn't nearly as bruised as my swollen right knee, but my karma sure did catch the hint.

A Smorgasbord of Awesomeness

Monday, October 8, 2007

I apologize for not having more of a theme for today’s post, but think of it as a buffet of quirkiness. I also apologize for having been gone for more than a week, but I’ve been A) uninspired, and B) overcome by the magnetic urge I have to fill out Myspace surveys in bulk.

On my long trip home to Ohio last weekend, I stopped at a Maryland rest stop as was both appalled & amused to discover that Utz, D.C.’s potato chip company du jour, sells the following snack. Seriously, does anyone purchase these? Who says, "I’m hungry for spuds, but I’d also like seafood. This is perfect!"

Best vanity plate ever. Period.

I know it looks like I was peeping up this girl’s skirt, but really she was just standing on the escalator step above me. I took it so I could make some quip about not confusing leggings with a similar yet much more crucial article of clothing – pants – but when we got to the top of the escalator, the girl tripped a woman toting a rolling briefcase… & she face-planted so hard that she lost a shoe in the fall. I could still comment on this girl’s unforgivable decision to use leggings & pants interchangeably, but she’s way cooler now that she’s tripped someone in such a hardcore fashion.

There’s nothing particularly terrible about this guy, but doesn’t he just look insanely Scandinavian? I expected him to bust into Ace of Base just before he hopped off at Union Station.

Apparently this woman felt it’d be a fancy idea to tie her hair up with… more hair. I would be outstandingly unsurprised to discover a small family of bluebirds residing somewhere within this trainwreck of follicles. I wanted to hand her a hairtie to replace those braids with, but I was afraid her 'do would swallow the elastic into its abyss.

The City That Would Make Clinton Kelly Weep

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I wish I could manage to snap photos of all the horrifically dressed individuals who populate our nation’s great capital. Alas, I’m not yet that sly, so you’ll have to settle for some verbal imagery of my most recent favorites.

  • If your shrug is so small that looks like you’re wearing a coconut bra, it’s probably time to upgrade. Unless it’s Halloween, the Ariel look is best left under the sea.

  • If you insist upon wearing T-shirts with not-so-quirky sayings, at least make sure they match your “look.” For example, a shirt that reads “GLAMOROUS LIFE” is, not ironically, best when not worn with sweatpants & Crocs.

  • Ninety-degree weather is no time for a pashmina. Yes, it’s September, & if you’re Midwestern like me, you’re probably pining for a fall breeze. Regardless, please accept your southern location & remove your sweaty table-runner of a giant scarf.

  • Please invest in Spanx or some other form of fat-sucker-inners. And if you refuse to do so, please rethink your wardrobe choices. I have more rolls than a bakery, too, but I don’t wear underwear that’s three sizes too tight under dresses made of plastic wrap.

  • Dear Russian Guy at Starbucks: I know you’re foreign & probably unfamiliar with the term “Kentucky Tuxedo,” but I can define it for you – you’re wearing one. Denim on denim has never been & never will be OK.

  • Unless you are Carson Kressley or a picnic table, you probably cannot pull off the checkered look. This means you, Hot Blonde Guy Wearing a Checkered Shirt & A Pinstripe Suit At Farragut North.

  • Wearing a regular bra under a backless shirt isn’t punk or emo, even when you have 18 tattoos & tri-colored hair. Backless shirts are made for girls with no boobs, so if you’ve got got ‘em, please flaunt ‘em in a differently cut shirt.
  • On my way home today, however, I saw a somewhat nerdy guy wearing a somewhat hilarious T-shirt. I came home & Googled it for a picture & was unsurprised to find that it’s from…. but people’s angry opinions about the un-quirkiness of the tee kind of made me wish I didn’t find it so funny. Either way, that guy gets a thumbs up from this Clevelander.

    Monday's (not-so-)Melodic Metro Ride

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Dear Girl Who Sang Really Loudly On the Redline Home Today:

    Yes, I know you were practicing for an audition. Even with my iPod blasting Anberlin at top volume, I could hear you - both your singing & the very loud phone conversations interspersed throughout. I want you to know, however, that audition brush-ups are simply no excuse for Metro musicality. There’s absolutely no reason on this green Earth why you shouldn’t be able to wait 15 minutes to begin your one-woman operetta.

    I know you think you’re quite snazzy with your houndstooth scarf & your gold ballet flats, but your outstanding fashion sense was completely & utterly negated by your lack of public transportation courtesy. In case you didn’t notice (& I am quite sure you didn’t), the poor passenger who was squashed in a corner between you & your tagalong friend (your theatrical sidekick, no doubt) looked like she wanted to punch you right in the vocal chords. The guy sitting across from you actually had his fingers in his ears – I wish this was my wit running away with itself, but alas, it is true.

    Please forgive me for hoping that you do not get that part you’re auditioning for. For the sanity of future redline-riders, I pray that you never have any reason to practice that song in public ever again. Actually, I hope you don’t have to practice it privately, either, or I’m sure your household pets will start plotting how to best slit their furry wrists.

    In closing? Kindly shut your face next time you take a seat on the rocky road toward Glenmont – or anywhere else, for that matter, because I know I’m not the only one who was bleeding from the eardrums today.

    Yours truly,

    The Suburban Sweetheart

    Three Straight Days of Metro Exhaustion

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    The people in Washington, D.C., are permanently exhausted. This is especially apparent on public transportation, which many commuters take as an opportunity to get some quick shut-eye. On any given Metro ride, especially early in the morning, everyone from the businessmen to the schoolchildren has their heads down, relishing the short window of time before they have to begin the daily grind... & perhaps cursing the long commutes that keep them from staying in bed a few minutes longer in the first place.

    This week, I had three experiences with big-city fatigue:

    Day One -- Absent-Minded Monday

    • I never listen to my iPod on mornings when I'm really tired because I quickly discovered that if I start to doze off on the Metro ride, my headphones (I eschew the use of "earbuds") keep me from hearing the driver's announcements.

      On Monday, it doesn't matter. Even sans music, I not only "doze off" but straight-up pass out. When I wake up - groggy, confused & with my contacts suctioned to my eyeballs - the train doors are closing on the Tenleytown/AU stop... which is a whopping four stops past mine. I hop off at Friendship Heights, five stops past, & promptly turn around to travel back down the redline.

      I am an idiot.

    Day Two -- Tuckered-Out Tuesday

    • The next day, I try to accommodate my apparent need of sleep by napping in my car before work. I typically drive to the Metro around 7a.m. to get a spot at the parking deck, even though this means I arrive at work about 45 minutes early. So I figure I'll nap in my car after I park, then jump on the Metro around 8a.m., which would get me in to work right on time. Ghetto, yes, but a girl's gotta snag beauty sleep where she can get it.

      I fall asleep in my car, as planned... & sleep through my alarm. In my car. When I wake up - groggy, confused & with my contacts suctioned to my eyeballs - it's nearly 8:25. To top it off, the train stalls for 10 minutes, & I am 15 minutes late to work.

    Day Three -- Thankful Thursday

    • On my way home from work, I spy this guy asleep on the redline to Glenmont, his mouth wide open, not flinching at all when the stops are announced.

      Yeah, he's out. When we get to Forest Glen, he jolts awake, looking around frantically & sort of panting in worry.

      "Forest Glen," I call over to him - we're the only two people left on the train.

      "Was I snoring?" he asks. I assure him that he wasn't, feeling a little bit guilty for having just taken his picture.

      "I would've woken you up when we got to Glenmont," I promise. He thanks me profusely, then puts his head back down until our stop comes.

    On Having Baller Photo-Decorating Skills

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Here's the thing about city livin'. I love it, but I miss the 'burbs desperately sometimes. More specifically? I miss the people I love who are still in the 'burbs. And even more specifically, I miss the people I love who are still in MY 'burb.

    So on my way home from work (at 9:00p.m., after a 12-hour day!), I get a picture message from Sam, my bee-eff-eff back on the homefront. I am delighted to find that it contains this photo...

    ...with this caption: "I found the effects button in the phone. I shld be doing homework. wah wah wah."

    The next one promptly arrives with the following caption: "Have a happy birthday love emo sam." Please ignore the fact that it is not, in fact, my birthday. It came with this photo:

    My response? Locate the effects button on MY phone, of course! I quickly shot off this beaut of a picture with the caption, "Da seaweed is always greena in somebody else's lake."

    My point? Well, I don't really have one... but isn't it nice to have a best friend with sweet photo-decorating skills? And to have a camera phone of your own that allows you to adorn your face with scuba gear & large goldfish? Looks like your Suburban Sweetheart has a new Metro hobby.

    The War Against Metro Terrorism

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    This sign hangs on the wall of the Glenmont station:

    And in case you can't read the literal writing on the wall, it reads: "It's easy to let our guard down. 9/11 happened over four years ago. Nothing's happened since. Except for Madrid. And London. Part of the war on terrorism is a battle against complacency. So live your life, but be aware. And if you see something that seems wrong, let us know."

    Ladies & gentlemen, I present to you The Federal Government, not-so-subtly inducing fear & panic on a daily basis. Seriously - tell me this is not the most belligerently absurd piece of propoganda you've seen in our lifetime. This is akin to WWI stuff... only perhaps more obvious, if that's humanly possible.

    But the really shameful part? It maybekinda worked on me. Last Tuesday, on September 11, I was waiting for my train at Farragut North & noticed a man standing next to me, looking confusedly between a subway map & both sides of the Metro rail. "Do you need directions?" I asked him, trying to be helpful. He turned to me, stoic, & answered "no," then looked back at his map & started laughing softly, almost maniacally, swiveling his head to watch some of the passersby on the platform.

    And then I noticed his pockets - the bulging, overstuffed pockets of this guy's jean jacket (this is a serious story, so please contain your laughter at his fashion sense) were stuffed almost to overflowing with... something. I don't know what. Maybe it was maps & a wallet & his camera & cell phone. But how was I supposed to know?

    And when the next train came, he got on it - and I didn't. Why? I'm not sure. But the map, the laugh, the pockets - in my paranoid, post-9/11 mind, they all added up to a black Middle Eastern man who could be plotting to self-destruct on the redline as a commemoration gift. So he got on, & I stayed at Farragut North, waiting, worrying.

    Should I feel relieved for not turning in an innocent man on suspicion of terrorism? Relieved that I didn't succumb to racial judgments & government-induced fear?

    Complacency is the accomplice.

    So more importantly, if he had blown up the redline... would I have been guilty, too?

    The Merits of Owning a Camera Phone

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Welcome to the dollhouse! An off-the-shoulder sweatshirt & a side ponytail in line for the bathroom at the Cosi in Dupont? Heather Matarazzo called: she wants her (lack of) style back.

    Metro puke at the Cleveland Park station. I heard two guys next to me talking about how a guy in a business suit barfed three times & then just put his earbuds in & kept walking. "Only in America," they mused, like men don't barf in... whatever part of the world they're from.

    Two strangers sitting next to one another in the same unattractive hue. When I was younger, I wanted a career naming colors in the Land's End catalog (true story), but I can't even come up with a suitable name for this eyesore.

    This girl looks better pregnant than I do fat. As Heidi Klum's black twin, she's probably going to pop that kid out & still weigh less than my right thigh.

    Happy Metro Grafitti & The Return of the Angry Asian

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Sorry I've been absent. I stress a lot, you know. And you're probably not reading this anyway.

    ...Or are you?

    I love "happy grafitti," like the time I found a bathroom mirror on campus that someone had used as a canvas to write, "You are already beautiful." There's a TON of grafitti on my train ride from Glenmont into the city, but most of it isn't necessarily "happy." It's all really colorful, exceptionally artistic, though...

    This one is my favorite, at the Brookland stop. Sometimes when I'm having a bad morning, I look out the window and wait for it. Once I've seen it, I nap the rest of the way into Dupont.

    You can't really read it, but it says, "PEARS: Shank Paris." I have nooo idea what that means... but it's pretty, bright green & silver, & it looks upbeat, right?

    In other photographic news, someone familiar was on my train home the other day: The Angry Asian! As he muttered to himself & slurped on a smoothie & incessantly switched seats, I snapped this photo on the sly... & promptly moved to another traincar.

    Sorry it's not very clear, but I obviously wasn't keen on getting too close to the guy.

    Naked Chicken Fries & My Own Unfounded Annoyance

    Saturday, September 8, 2007

    There's a posh retirement community around the corner from my neighborhood, so big I heard it's actually got its own zip code. It's called Leisureworld USA, which I think is actually the least posh name ever & sounds like a waterpark, but I digress. Leisureworld USA has its own restaurants, convenience stores, doctors' offices... & a Burger King.

    As you can imagine, the Leisureworld USA community is designed to provide the elderly, retired citizens of Silver Spring, MD, with the convenience & leisure of having all their amenities in one place. But I bet I know what disrupts that convenience & leisure - ordering a Number 7 with chicken fries from the local BK & asking the drive-thru employee whether or not they have any honey, & her dismissive, eye-rolling response: "No comprendo."

    Well, yo no compendo why this city's minimum wage workers don't seem to care whether they do their jobs well or not.

    Yes, yes, I work for a religious non-profit organization, & I am supposed to be open, accepting & politically correct at all times. I support immigration & the American Dream & bilingualism & acceptance of foreigners, so don't cry racism. But seriously: If you don't know the (English) names of basic condiments, can you find someone who does when I ask you a question? I mean, swivel to the left & tell the burger-flipper next to you that your customer has an inquiry you can't help with. Nooot so difficult.

    In other news, I sat behind this gem of a haircut on the ride to work yesterday. PS, my new phone has a badass camera, so expect more not-so-sly pics of my real-life encounters with weirdos.

    The Local Indy 500 & Movin' to the Back of the Bus

    Wednesday, September 5, 2007

    Maybe I should re-title this blog "Adventures in Public Transportation" - it certainly seems as though all my city amusement comes from that realm.

    And there are no maybes about this one - I should definitely have splurged on the $12 to take a taxi home from the Metro tonight. Instead, I spent $.35 on the bus, and I absolutely got my money's worth. Let's just say that if Mario Andretti were a bus driver, he'd be taking lessons from the guy who gave me a ride home tonight. My neighborhood is filled with speedbumps, but this guy took 'em like they were yellow lights. I think I got an ab workout from trying to clench my muscles to stabilize my balance when he made stops, & my internal organs may never be the same.

    Also, some vagrant in the back of the bus was drinking from an actual paper bag. I'm not one to judge, so I have no guesses on what he could have been taking slugs of back there, but... oh, what am I talking about? "Judgment" is my middle name, & that guy was gettin' all liquored up in the back of public Ride-On Bus No. 26.

    Public Chessboards & Strange Metro Bedfellows

    Monday, September 3, 2007

    Granite tables with checkerboard tops line the sidewalk that surrounds Dupont Circle, where a gaggle of men sit & play pickup games of chess. It’s Sunday night, and my friend Jason & I have stopped to watch a competition when a guy in a “Chess University International: Dupont Circle” T-shirt approaches. He challenges Jason to a seven-minute game, winner gets $3.

    I stand by, watching, while a nearby bum hollers a Barry Manilow tune – “My baby loves me, yes, she does…” – while he waits for a pickup game of his own. This is big-time stuff! An egg timer, a fancy little chess set. But more importantly, Chess Challenger is a pretty badass competitor. After about five minutes, Jason presses the timer button that concedes his loss. “I’ll make you a deal,” Chess Challenger tells him, & soon they’ve begun again – seven minutes on Jason’s timer, only five on the Challenger’s. But again: total domination.

    “I’ll make you a deal,” the guy offers again, & they begin a final game – seven minutes on Jason’s timer & a measly one minute on the Chess Challenger’s. When the game starts, I’m astounded at how quickly the Challenger reacts, completing each move in no more than five seconds. With 20-something seconds still left on his timer, he’s beat Jason again. “I’ll make you anoth-” he starts, but Jason cuts him off & begrudgingly dredges $9 out of the depths his pocket: “I know when I’m beat.”

    On the way home, a beef-jerky-eating MTF transvestite sits next to me on the train, complete with peeling purple nail polish & thick grey chin stubble. A beady-eyed man who resembles “Now & Then’s” Crazy Pete gets on my traincar & reads The Washington Post while wearing gardening gloves, as though he's trying not to contract any public transportation-borne diseases.

    I might never get used to city life, but I sure do love the surprises.

    Overzealousness & Unreturned Communications

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    Federalism Boy has called me three times & texted me four.

    I don't know why I expected big-city dating to be any easier than small-town dating.

    (PS: I accidentally wiped out my whole formatting. Does anyone remember what color any of my shit was before? Everything looks ugly now! Help?)

    Public Transportation Death Threats

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    On the train ride home, I read a Zeroxed copy of "Federalism," Chapter 3 of a high school American Government book. My director gave me the book to help me brush up on basic political background as a means of preparing myself for this job, & Federalism is step one, apparently.

    The guy sitting next to me begins asking me about the chapter - why I'm reading a high school textbook, etc. Instead of ignoring him, we start talking about politics, politicians, paranoia & a population full of apathy - pretty interesting, actually. Mid-conversation, I notice a well-dressed, 30-something Asian man sitting across the way, furiously banging his watch against his seat's metal bar & muttering obscenities. Distracted, I mention his apparent rage to Federalism Boy, who accidentally points his finger in the crazyman's general direction, or something else horribly inflammatory. Immediately riled up, Angry Asian immediately starts shouting, "Don't you point at me! I'll fucking kill you. Don't point at me! I will fucking kill you!"

    Federalism Boy is kind of laughing, clearly unruffled - he's lived in D.C. for four years & says he's used to the nutters that roam the capital. I dare to peek at Angry Asian, both terrified & intrigued. His voice sounds warbled, somehow, like he's either vocally impaired or underwater; he's difficult to understand, but you can't exactly ask death-threateners to repeat themselves. As soon as he catches me looking at him, he begins yelling, "You too! I'll kill you, too! When we get off the train!"

    Shrinking violent that I am, I begin repeating,"Oh God, oh God, oh God," over & over, so Federalism Boy asks if I want to move to another traincar. I do. We promptly book it to an emptier car, far away from Angry Asian & his killer tirade, where I decide it's safe to start laughing. Amused & out of harm's way, we recap the situation & savor our safety.

    But Federalism Boy gets off at Fort Totten, & I have no idea where my death-wisher has exited, if at all. Amused as I am, I still exit my car with trepidation, confident the Angry Asian will emerge from his traincar to slit my throat as I head toward the escalator.

    Clearly (& thankfully), this did not occur.

    But are you noticing some sort of a theme here? Apparently kindergarten did me no good. Why haven't I learned NOT TO TALK TO STRANGERS?

    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 Attendent (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 butterscoth 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.

    Wasting my Wallet Away

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    This is me, selling my soul to the city for $295.83 (or more) a week.

    8/22 --- Kramerbooks, “The Rules of Attraction” --- $14.75
    8/22 --- Buffalo Billiards, one draft Yuengling --- $6.50
    8/22 --- Starbucks, grande iced chai latte (with gift card) --- $1.62
    8/23 --- Elephant & Castle, happy hour --- $13.00
    8/23 --- Starbucks, venti iced chai latte --- $5.89
    8/23 --- Starbucks, grande iced chai latte --- $5.28
    8/23 --- Potbelly's, chicken salad sandwich --- $4.61
    8/27 --- CVS, assorted necessities (i.e. shoe inserts) --- $43.71
    8/27 --- CVS, assorted necessities, part dos (i.e. eyeliner) --- $15.77
    8/27 --- ATM withdrawal --- $20.00
    8/27 --- Washington D.C. Metro, SmarTrip card --- $20.00
    8/27 --- The Big Hunt, two Yuenglings --- $11.50
    8/27 ---, new domain name --- $10.00
    8/27 --- Starbucks, grande iced Passion tea & sandwich --- $7.04
    8/27 --- Starbucks, grande iced chai latte & croissant --- $6.22
    8/27 --- Baja Fresh, bean burrito & churro --- $5.43
    Pending --- Kramerbooks, “Glamorama” --- $15.81
    Pending --- Tortilla Coast, chicken flautas & three Bud Lites --- $18.00
    Pending --- Washington D.C. Metro, SmarTrip addition --- $60.05
    Pending --- Starbucks, grande blueberry frap & croissant --- $6.60
    Pending --- McDonald’s, egg McMuffin --- $4.05

    HOLY SHEIST. This ain't gon' last long, folks.

    Characters & Situations You're Not Likely to Find in My Hometown

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Public transportation is not for the faint of heart. In the past few days, I haven't seen anything too extreme, but here, even the milder encounters are amusing: A woman petting a leafy green plant potted in a Campbell's soup can; a pretty, normal-looking teenage girl in a checkered dress who began belting out all the words to Salt 'n' Pepa's "None of Your Business" really loudly, to herself; a man with a horrific combover who stood almost nose-to-glass with the sliding doors for the entire three-stop duration of his ride. "Stand back, please: doors closing," but he didn't.

    And then there was the anti-genocide vigil we attended today outside the Sudanese embassy - a gaggle of white middle- to upper-class Jews dressed in their business casual best, holding signs that read, "I stand with the people of Darfur" and "Honk 4 Darfur." When passersby honked, we didn't know how to react - you can't cheer, like you're at some high school carwash fundraiser, can you? So we just gave small waves & nods of appreciation, looked a little uncomfortable, continued recapping the weekend's festivities & anticipating our next Starbucks fix.

    On the way to pick up my grandenowhipblueberries&cremefrappucino, I wondered whether the scraggly-looking man wearing the Darfur sandwich-board signs, the one wandering the street beside us, was stupid enough (devoted enough?) to actually tattoo of a green & red cross onto his forehead in permanent ink.

    I'm trying not to be so vapid.
    Sometimes I have a hard time.

    A lack of A's & an abundance of H's

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    I'm starting to talk like them! Spend too much time around East Coasters, & Midwestern words begin to morph. I've always been a fan of "The Akron A," the way Northeast Ohio locals say words like "mom" (more like "mam") & "class" (sort of like a quick "clayiss"). My OU friends used to tease me because "crackpot" & "crockpot" sounded the same when I said them, like druggies & soup-cookers were synonymous.

    And now? Not even a week with my new coworkers, & I already speak like them, saying things like "tehhr-ibble" & "vehh-ry." It's weirding me out. When we call Becca "Captain Manhattan," I want all my A's to sound the way A's are supposed to sound, but they don't - "Caip-tain Main-haittan" becomes vehhry New York & turns into "Cahhpt'n Mahn-hahht'n," with too many H's & not enough A's.

    I'm very conscious of it; I feel pretentious when I speak differently. Even though I don't think they sound pretentious when they say things that way, I feel a like a phony for picking up on their dialect & switching over so quickly.

    If this is what I sound like after six days, I shudder to think what a year as an East Coaster could do to me.

    Unwanted Compliments & Phone Numbers I Will Never Dial

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    I am on my way to the Metro, walking past the CVS in Dupont Circle, & I am not dressed in any particularly spectacular way - skinny jeans that sometimes make me look fat, with a lacy white top & a black "vest" & Chinese Laundry heels. I wear massive, cheap sunglasses that overwhelm my face & carry a massive, utilitarian bag that overtakes my body. A man in jeans & a paint-splattered T-shirt is walking my way, a nondescript man I wouldn’t have otherwise taken note of if not for this: As our paths cross, Average Man lowers his sunglasses, tipping them at the bottom so he can look me in the eye. I avoid his gaze, but as he passes me, he quickly says, very loudly, “Niiiice, baby.” And then it’s over, & I have passed this Average-Yet-Creepy Man, who has somehow made me feel exceptionally ugly & violated using only two words.

    Outside my rail station, I ask two conversing bus drivers which port I ought to be waiting at if I want to catch bus 51. “Down that road, honey, that way,” says Light-Eyed Hispanic Driver, who is probably not much older than I am. Middle-Aged Black Driver says no, LEHD is lying, 51’s port is right in front of me, & am I new in town? Yes, I say, from Ohio, & they both recount to Ohio towns they've visited – Youngstown, Cincinnati, Warren, Orville. They know Akron; LeBron has turned the Rowdy into something legendary, for now. Middle-Aged Black Driver tells me he wants to give me his phone number, & when I ask why, he says something unintelligible, something about CDs. For some reason, I record this in my phone under the label “CD,” although I’m never going to call this random, middle-aged bus driver who is old enough to be my father, if my father were, you know, black. As long as MABD doesn’t ask for mine, I figure this is an okay situation; I’ll never call anyway, & if he asks for my number, I will lie. If he calls it while I’m standing there, I will be screwed. I mentally cross my fingers against this potential occurrence; he gives me his number & walks away to take a phone call.

    Light-Eyed Hispanic Driver tells me his name is Hector, & do I like clubs or bars? Not clubs, I tell him, but I do bars sometimes. Nothing is open in Maryland late at night, he tells me, and weekends here suck – you have to go into the city for a good night out. If I want to go out sometime, to a bar & not a club, Hector says, I should call him. He gives me his number &, like MABD, doesn’t ask for mine, thankfully. And just like MABD, he walks away to take a phone call, waving at me as I head off to port 51, confused by this entire encounter.

    I need to learn to avoid strangers. Entirely.

    Poor Punctuation, Starbucks-hating and Not Drinking the Government's Bathroom Water

    (For the record, this was written yesterday & posted on Myspace, before I got this badass domain name. Soooo... COPY & PASTE worked me some wonders.)
    1. The side of a local bus reads, "WELCOME! YOU ABOARD!" with the exclamation points in those places. My grammatically conditioned journalist-brain didn't (& stilldoesn't) know what to do with this greeting and/or well-wishing and/or warning.

    2. A sign in the women's bathroom beneath the House side of Capitol Hill reads, "DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM RESTROOMS." My coworker Ben does not find this sign amusing, but I do. Was it put up because the water is dangerous, perhaps leaden, or for some other, more amusing reason? And who, pray tell, is drinking bathroom water when there's a drinking fountain in the hallway?

    3. On the door of my local(est) Starbucks, someone has graffitied "Starvebucks." The bathroom requires a key for entry - a key only available to paying customers. Therefore I conclude that this tagger actually had to purchase Starbucks products in order to pen her anti-establishment proclamation. Ironic.

    4. Yesterday, the man sitting next to me at aforementioned Starbucks slurped the bottom of his venti macchiato for approximately five minutes. It had been fully gone for about four & a half.

    5. The English pub near Metro Center, called Elephant & Castle, serves Bangers in a Blanket. These taste amazing, but are especially fun to order. They're even more fun when your waitress is actually English herself. Jonah the Kosher-Keeper asks that we keep the traef away from him, as he is disgusted by our pork-eating ways.

    6. Tonight, I witnessed two-wheeled road rage at its finest: an angry biker screaming at a passing car,"Get off your fucking cell phone! Learn how to fucking drive!" When you're without a horn, I guess you have to use any means possible to convey your fury.
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