Monday, December 22, 2008

TV ads are bad for your health

I didn't believe it was possible, but this television commercial actually causes me physical pain. There's nothing wrong with the ad itself; it's quite good actually. I just haven't had this feeling since I was seven years old. I watch the NHL Network, they show the commercial and I want to go so bad, it hurts. I'm instantly transformed into a kid again. All I can think is "I WANT THAT!!!" I want it SO BAD I'M GOING TO DIE IF I DON'T GET THAT FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!

What is this all about? Well, there is a hockey game on New Years Day in Wrigley Field. Yes, baseball season is over so the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings are taking over Wrigley while the Cubs are away. It's going to be awesome and the Blackhawks actually have an impressive team this year. At the time of this post, they are only 5 points behind the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings with one game in hand. I realize that probably doesn't mean much to you non-hockey fans, so I will put it to you like this: in recent years, the Cubs have made the playoffs more often than the Blackhawks.

Speaking of non-hockey fans, I would like to know how many such people have tickets to this game. I have a hell of a time meeting anyone who gives a crap about hockey, but somehow there is a sold-out crowd willing to watch an outdoor hockey game on January 1st in the Windy City. Tickets on the secondary market are selling upwards of $250, and that includes seats on the rooftops. Who are these people paying money to freeze their arse off watching hockey? If they are that rich, could they buy me a ticket? I don't even need a seat. I could just lay down on the feet of the rich people and keep them warm. As long as I could see the game, I'm willing to make myself into a human foot-warmer for the rich folks. (Maybe I should put that on eBay or Craig's list... "human foot-warmer available for Winter Classic in Chicago.")

Okay, chances are I will not be able to sell myself as a human foot warmer, I will not get to see the Blackhawks play at Wrigley, and I will not die - just like I didn't die when Santa didn't bring me a pony or a little sister. But I will continue to weep every time I see that awesome commercial, and I will curse everyone who goes to this game and leaves early because it's "too cold." My friends and I would love to go to this game. We are true hockey fans - we would be in heaven to sit outside and get frostbite watching an outdoor hockey game. Unfortunately, we have that other trademark characteristic of most hockey fans - we can't afford $250 for a ticket.

So, have fun rich people! Buy yourselves a copy of Hockey for Dummies, memorize it, then you can set it on fire to keep warm in between periods. Because hockey is a cold weather sport, it moves fast and it's the greatest game on earth.

Go Hawks!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

I may come back later and edit this post with a list of all the things I'm thankful for, but if I wait until I have time to do that it may not be until Easter. For now I just want to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Right now I'm thankful for a couple days off of work and a visit from my Dad. He surprised me a couple weeks ago and said he was thinking of coming up to Washington for Thanksgiving. We made all the arrangements and his plane gets in a couple hours from now.

The most commonly asked next question seems to be: "Are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner for your Dad?" The answer: "No way. I love my Dad too much to do that to him."

Originally I was going to spend Thanksgiving with some friends who are not going home for the holiday. Now that Dad's coming in, all five of us are going out for a Thanksgiving feast. Sometimes you can find family where you least expect it. I love bringing people together.

That said, I wish I could bring all of us together - an all-inclusive holiday with all of my friends and family back home. I'll be thinking about all of you and I will be back home next month for Christmas and New Years. I have a few comments to make about the trip home too, but more about that later.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To my friends: A few things you need to know

I have some of the best friends in the whole world. The hardest part of leaving Iowa was moving so far away from people who mean the world to me. It took me a lifetime to find friends who are as close as family to me. But while it was so hard to move away and miss spending time together, our friendship gives me so much strength that I could not have made this move without you guys. I miss you terribly, but you have made me a better person and no amount of distance between us will break those ties.

Being in DC, I have met very few people who I consider to be genuine. At times I fear that I may lose part of myself and become like the majority of people I meet in DC. But I have met a few people out here who remind me how important it is to be yourself and the rest of the world be damned. It is through the people in life with whom you make an instant connection with that you’re reminded – even though the entire world has gone mad – there are a few of us who refuse to fall in line with society’s expectations. And I really think that we may just be the only ones who have it figured out.

I’ve realized something lately about those of us who are magnificent misfits. That is, those of us who suspect that maybe we actually have it all figured out in this crazy world we live in – in large part, we tend to be really insecure, rather self-conscious people. It’s really sad, because not fitting in can be a good thing. It can be a great thing. But at the same time, it’s so hard to get over that feeling that something is wrong with you because you’re not like everyone else. I just wanted to write this today to tell you guys – I am so damn glad that I do not fit in here in this capitol city. I have met a select few people (exatly 3, I think) who are really genuine and straightforward. I’ve met others who share my sense of humor and I can laugh and be myself with. They are few and far between, but when you meet someone that you can really be yourself around, it’s a wonderful thing.

J and Pops, you are family; if I could think of a stronger word, I would use it. Keisha and Stephy, you are always there for me and I hope I am always there for you - you are my rock. Anthony – you are in a class all by yourself, my friend. Without your friendship for the last 12 years, I would not have made it through so many hard times. I wish you all the happiness in the world because you deserve it. Jenna and Derek, I am constantly amazed by how close we were able to become and to stay in touch in such a short period of time. Both of you know the true meaning of friendship. Angie, Amanda, and Army Guy - our friendship started with hockey games and I wish we kept in better touch, but you are three of my closest friends. Tyler, I’m not great at keeping in touch with you either, but I still think there are times that you’re the only one who gets me. Brad, Alicia, Darrin, Holly, Richard, and Kerry – I don’t even know if you guys read my blog regularly because we so rarely keep in touch, but you have all come through for me and I hope you will always consider me a friend.

Sorry for getting sentimental, guys. I just don’t want there ever to be any doubt about how much I love all of you. And most importantly & most deservedly – Mom, Dad, Mark, Grandma… you have been putting up with me for far longer than anyone else. Without you, I truly would not be the person I am today. Thank you for making me who I am, thank you for your absolute love and support. If a measure of a person is by the friends they make in life, you should be incredibly proud of me. I am truly blessed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hockey hockey hockey

I have two tickets for tomorrow night's Capitals & Devils game and I can't wait. Last Saturday was the Capitals home opener and it was the saddest day of my life. Well, the saddest day in a long time anyway. I didn't have tickets to the game, I had no friends willing to pay any amount of money to watch hockey.

That wasn't the sad part, though. I was on the Metro going down to the bookstore around 6pm the night of the opener and I found myself surrounded by people in hockey jerseys and Capitals gear.

Hockey fans!

I wanted to go so bad and I've been depressed about it ever since. I really need to meet some hockey fans out here.

While I haven't met any hockey fans in the last week, I did meet a New Jersey fan. I work with a native Jersey girl at the bookstore and eventually wore her down to go to the game, but the $25 seats were sold out and both of our budgets are pretty tight. I went on eBay to find some tickets and was nearly salivating. My Jersey girl friend is very independent and very responsible and I'm lucky that's the case. I kept finding great bargains like $120 seats for $90. I wanted lower level seats so bad I was salivating. In my irrational lust for great seats I would've had no problem maxing out my credit card for expensive tickets, taking a loss and selling the seat to my bookstore friend for $25.00. Luckily for my budget, cooler heads prevailed and she wasn't comfortable letting me pay the difference. We ended up buying $50 tickets for $30 a piece. We are both starting our careers and working at the bookstore part time to make ends meet, so even $30 stretches the budget a bit. But I don't care... I miss hockey. I also bought a pair of tickets for the game on the 28th, $19.99 for the pair.

This means I'll make it to at least 8 games this season. Anthony bought me a six-pack of tickets for graduation but I haven't picked out my seats yet. When I go tomorrow I'll look around and decide where I want to sit. I am not crazy about going to hockey games by myself. I love hockey too much, it'll be hard not to be able to nudge someone and say, "Did you see that!?!" Plus, I've been sitting next to J and Pops for so long, I'm not quite sure how other people will react to my random excited sounds. My cheers are completely spontaneous and involuntary, I hope I don't embarrass myself too much.

It'll be really different to watch an NHL game. It will be sad not to have all of my Quad City hockey friends to watch with. Instead of four rows from the ice I'll be more like 4 miles from the ice. Also, I need to learn how to be a Capitals fan. Right now I'm just a hockey fan, I want to see a good game more than I want to see the Caps win. Although I should probably mold myself into a Caps fan, just so I can fit in. I can only name about 2 players on the team, but GO CAPS!!

Hockey is finally here. Without having my friends and my old seats, the NHL is going to feel like a step down from minor league hockey. That's okay though. I'm just excited to be going to a game. Yay! Section 416 row H here I come!

I'm so excited for hockey. I don't know if I can get to sleep tonight.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shhh... it's a secret!

Secret shopping, actually; or mystery shopping if you prefer. It sounds kinda' fun, but it is work and it usually doesn't pay much more than a free meal. I used to do it a lot when I lived in Iowa but not so much out here. It's usually not worthwhile to spend a couple hours and two or three bucks minimum to hop on the Metro for a free sandwich. Some of the companies have cool stuff like Six Flags visits, trips to the spa, or hotel stays; but it's not always worth it. You have to remember every painstaking detail about your visit and it can take a while to fill out the online surveys. Once I got a nasty email and a bad grade (yes, we get graded) because I didn't describe the outside lighting at a movie theater. Seriously, the lighting in the parking lot lowered my score. She was awfully picky for someone who was paying me in movie tickets and popcorn.
Last weekend I was checking for available shopping jobs and I saw that my local grocery store had a shop available. There was no cash payment, just some free groceries but it was the place I usually shop so I jumped on it. Well, apparently I jumped a little too quickly b/c instead of signing up for my local store, I signed up for a different location that wasn't even on the Metro line. I actually had no idea where this place was. Oops.
The logical thing to do would've been to contact the company and try to switch the locations. Instead, I illogically took responsibility for my mistake and decided to go shopping across town. That included studying the bus route to leave work and go to the store, and then from the store home - a 30-40 minute trip each way. The Metro fare and bus transfer made for a more expensive trip. Plus, did I mention? I had no idea where the hell I was going. My free groceries ended up being not so free. In fact, the picture above ended up costing me about $3.00 in cash, 90 minutes of my time, and a slight pain in my arse. I thought I was signing up for some free groceries from the store I was already going to. Instead, I clicked the wrong link on a website and ended up having to step outside of my comfort zone. It was definitely worth it.
It's kind of silly, but somehow going to a new grocery store made me realize how quickly I fell into a routine out here. I also remembered why I fell in love with this city so quickly.
I almost got onto the wrong bus, but I realized my mistake and apologized to the driver. The bus driver was really helpful, and other people on the bus were quick to offer directions. The weather was great, and it was such a pleasant walk through a new neighborhood. There really are some very friendly people here in DC. Maybe it's because they're used to tourists, but most people aren't only willing to help, they're forthcoming in offering to help.
It turns out I signed up to shop at the tiniest store in the area. My cabinets are unusually well stocked for the moment and they didn't have a lot of the things I needed. Since I didn't want to buy anything perishable before my long trip home, I ended up throwing some random things together and grabbing the treasures you see above. It was a big mix-up and I didn't get much out of it, but the reminder to break from my routine was a much-needed one. This city has so much to offer and I ride around underground every day, only to emerge to walk between the Metro stop and work; or the Metro stop and home. What a waste. I really need to get out more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can the debates get any more depressing?

Less than 20 minutes into the final (thank heavens!) debate and I'm thoroughly depressed. It's not only because I keep hearing the same nonsense the candidates have been uttering for a year, but now they're stressing their point by talking about "Joe the plumber." They've made up some hypothetical voter to demonstrate how well they relate to the regular hard-working folks in this country. See? They're not elitist, they're looking out for Joe - who happens to be a plumber by trade.

Not only is this really dumb and unconvincing, it's making me very sad. My Grandpa's name was Joe. He was a plumber. He passed away and I miss him. I'd much rather be watching football or Matlock with him right now than listening to these two clowns. This presidential horserace has already made me long for happier days without the reference to Grandpa. I'm telling you right now, if they start to argue about a metaphorical Dog named Daisy, I may slit my wrists.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Senators are so funny

I don't know how Minnesota feels about it, but I like a Senator with a good sense of humor. That is why I'll be watching C-Span on Saturday night at 8pm to tune into the MN Senate debate between incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken. That Norm Coleman is hilarious!

I'm a big fan of the old SNL so I've been following Franken's senate bid. Surprisingly, there is not much national news coverage of the MN race. The national media loves to talk about how hard it will be for Republicans to hang onto their seats this year, but I haven't seen much special attention paid to the celebrity comedian Democrat challenging the conservative Republican. This morning, NBC political director Chuck Todd shed a little light on this. On Joe Scarborough's morning show, Todd said he's heard from several high ranking Democrats that they don't want Franken to win because they're afraid this will open the door for every Hollywood liberal to run for office. Interesting.

I would've thought Franken's ability to raise millions of dollars would throw the Dems support behind him. Apparently their job security is more important than a veto-proof majority. They don't want to give up their seat to another Democratic senator named Streisand, Affleck, Sarandon or Robbins.

At first glance, their cold shoulder toward Franken seems selfish. They could get a veto-proof majority in 2008, but they're probably convinced they won't need it because they'll have President Obama to tow the party line. Plus, Franken has been a political commentator for quite some time. If Franken were to win a senate seat it wouldn't be any more of an invitation for celebrities to run for office than say, an action movie star becoming the governor of California. (But then, maybe they're just trying to contain the celebrity political nonsense to California.)

I was a little annoyed with these anonymous high-ranking Democrats for shunning the Minnesota Democratic candidate out of fear of being replaced. Then, I considered two little words that persuaded me that their fears are warranted.

The scariest words this country would ever have to utter: Senator Baldwin.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Can we start over?

I'm watching the Presidential debate and I was ready to turn it off after exactly 13 minutes. Every time Tom Brokaw asks a question they answer with, "Well, my opponent said..." I don't want to hear this. I don't want to hear about how afraid we should be if the other guy gets elected. I don't want either one of them running my country. Can we just wipe the slate clean and start over with some real nominees? These people - John McCain and Barack Obama - are a joke. Sarah Palin is a punchline, McCain and Obama are a joke. The joke is on us my friends! And when I say, "my friends" I mean that if McCain keeps saying that phrase I'm going to scream. Ditto for Obama starting his sentence with "Look..."

Both of these candidates sound like children.

adult: "Barry, did you break the neighbor's window?"
child: "But Johnny broke the whole door!"
adult: "Johnny, did you break the door?"
child: "But Barry's going to raise your taxes and meet the repairman without preconditions!"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

One more observation

...continuing my post-debate list from a few minutes ago...

Joe Biden, Sarah Palin and John McCain all have sons fighting in Iraq. I think it's about time for those Obama girls to stop getting a free ride. C'mon Obama daughters - time to start showing a little patriotism!

Some thoughts on the V.P. debate

It's past my bedtime but I have a few comments about tonight's Vice Presidential debate that I have to get off my chest first.

1.) I can't believe Barack Obama is at the top of the ticket over Biden. I watched the presidential debate last week and thought McCain and Obama both sounded like quibbling children. Biden comes across as so much more knowledgeable and genuine. It's ridiculous that Obama is the presidential nominee. It will not be easy for me to vote for Obama in order to get Biden.

2.) Both of the V.P. candidates came across as so much more genuine than their candidates.

3.) Sarah Palin exceeded expectations and I don't want to dismiss her abilities, but here are a few things I hope to never hear in another debate for a presidential candidate.
3a.) "Dawg-gonnit"
3b.) "Darn right!"
3c.) A "shout out" to the folks back home.
I know she's folksy, but let's pretend this is important, can we? For someone who has been the butt of jokes from her Katie Couric interviews, she didn't win over any independent voters with her, "Hi Ma! I'm on teevee" act.

4.) Something rubbed me the wrong way when she said that Jill Biden's rewards were "in heaven." I realize she meant it as an endearing sentiment, but I've sat down and had lunch with Dr. Jill Biden; she is a lovely woman and I may be taking this personally here, but that comment is something you'd say about a matronly schoolteacher. Jill Biden has her PhD and teaches at a community college, their daughter Ashley is a social worker and Beau Biden is about to ship off to Iraq. They're good people, they don't need Sarah Palin to assign a place in heaven. (Yes, I'm being defensive.)

5.) I flipped around through different networks tonight and it was pretty ridiculous. MSNBC and Fox News both defended the left and the right respectively. I can't take either of those networks seriously when it comes to this election. I've switched to CNN now so we'll see how they do.

6.) I have nothing against McCain, Palin or Obama personally; but this election is ridiculous. None of those clowns should be running our country. It's a sad day when you have no confidence in your potential leaders, but the consolation is that they can't be any worse than our current leadership. We're so screwed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where have I been?

I regret that I haven't posted in a while. There's been plenty to talk about: the election, the economy, work, the lady who snapped at me in the Metro station and the absurd news stories are never in short supply. I've been forming many blog entries in my head, but they never make it to the computer. I'm terrible at keeping in touch and I owe you an explanation. It's not a very flattering one.

My absence from the blog is for the same reason I do a lot of silly things: sleep. Sleep has always been my weakness; it accounts for a ridiculous number of late passes in grade school and high school, it's the reason I never saw a Saturday morning cartoon, and it's the reason I'm always running late for work. Always. I hate that sleep has interfered during every stage of my life so far.

Last week I woke up 45 minutes before work, hopped out of bed and took the quickest shower ever, threw on some clothes that have a style I call "business casual for slackers." When I looked in the mirror before I walked out the door I had pillow marks that looked like Frankenstein creases down the side of my face. I ran to the Metro stop and elbowed my way up and down the escalators and paced back and forth waiting for the train.

[note: this isn't the unusual part, so far I've pretty much described my morning ritual.]

I showed up at work about 10 minutes late and hid in my office until my pillow face went away. Around 10:30 or 11:00, my boss walked by and said, "Did you just get here?" No. I had been there for hours. But how would she know that? She graduated from MIT and she knows numbers. The number was 9:00 and I wasn't there.

I can't do this anymore. I need to get my fatigue or my laziness or my whatever-it-is under control. So, for now I have been going to bed early every night. Even if I have to take a sleeping pill (and sometimes I do) I need to do more sleeping at night and less in the morning. I get home from work, eat dinner, catch the Daily Show and Colbert Report at 8:00 and watch C-Span or the news while I get ready for bed. If I haven't gone to bed by 10:30, I take a pill and make it happen. Sound dull? It is. But I didn't come to D.C. to continue coasting through life. I find the time to do grocery shopping, do laundry, and an occasional happy hour but I haven't made time for the blog.

So, that's where I've been. The good news is, this is temporary. I'm waiting for a call-back from a sleep clinic in Bethesda so I can schedule two tests. One will be the overnight sleeping-with-wires-everywhere test, followed by waking up and taking a series of naps to find out how long it takes me to fall asleep and how deeply I sleep during a short nap. I had the overnight test a few years ago but it was inconclusive. This time we're going to do it up right.

I expect the sleep study will happen sometime in October, but the scheduler hasn't called me back since we spoke on Thursday. Perhaps I should call him and get this taken care of for once and for all. I've waited long enough. I don't know how it will work out, but I know two things for sure: I can't keep stressing every morning and I can't bear this boring ritual I'm in now. Speaking of now, it is 10:38 p.m. and past my bedtime. Good night.

[edit: finished proofreading, it's 10:45. The blog gets me in trouble.]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Years in Alaska are counted in dog years

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as running mate was a brilliant political move. Since the announcement on Friday, the media has been consumed with her. That’s no small task either; she was up against a hurricane and an entire Republican Convention. This is the first time in this election season that I have heard more news about McCain’s campaign than Obama’s. The fact is, McCain by himself is stale. He’s been a high profile figure for so long that the public is over their courtship with him. His story is incredibly compelling; he was a P.O.W. from a military family, a political maverick, and a seemingly decent guy. But we have his resume memorized by now. It’s no wonder how easily Obama has swept the nation, his political career launched past Hillary Clinton and a bland bunch of white guys. Obama is new and interesting; we’re just getting to know him. The world is still in the honeymoon stages with Obama, McCain seems like an elderly divorcee.

So when the elderly divorcee shows up with an attractive young woman on his shoulder, we are all spellbound.

While it is admittedly sexist to paint the McCain/Palin ticket in this light, it’s fair because it matters that she’s a woman. There’s any number of pro-life conservatives that McCain could’ve chosen to satisfy the Republican base. Sarah Palin doesn’t just satisfy the base, she electrifies them! Not only does she have a compelling story, her story invokes the very issues that Republicans are passionate about. She and her daughter have both suffered through difficult pregnancies with a strong pro-life message, and her political battles show her as a reformer. Every time her name is brought up, it is an affirmation of conservative beliefs. The Republican Party has sorely needed a new image, and McCain has not only found a new champion for Republicans, he may have found the first female Vice President. The Republicans love her, and they have every reason to. Sarah Palin was clearly the right political choice for the Republican ticket, but there is one thing I’ve failed to mention in this lengthy explanation.

None of it matters.

Certainly it matters when it comes to winning an election, but in a year where their slogan is “Country First,” have the Republicans chosen their most competent members to lead the country?

The answer is no, and neither have the Democrats.

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama have captured the media spotlight and the nation’s attention. Neither one of them is a confident choice for a nation sorely in need of leadership. I will at least give the Republicans credit over the Democrats for putting experience at the top of the ticket. I will give the Democrats credit for putting Joe Biden on the ticket at all. I am a fan of Senator Biden, but did not expect him to be chosen as V.P. The Democrats have treated Biden as a liability. The average person knows more about his gaffes than his political positions.

Palin and Obama are both inexperienced and partisans will argue that their candidate’s experience is relevant while the opponent’s is useless. I’d like to appeal to both sides and ask: Can we just stop pretending it matters?

The media tells us who to pick, just as they tell us what issues are important – Iraq, the economy, gas prices – they always let us know when and how to panic. So, let’s just drop the conversation about who is ready to lead, who is the best choice for V.P., and who has the most relevant experience. Let’s just have a couple of debates between the candidates, find out how many homes they own or how much their shoes cost, and in November the media can tell us who to vote for.

I have watched both conventions and one thing is clear; this election isn’t about what’s best for the country, it’s about winning. The media wants to win ratings, the political parties want to win the White House, and in the end we all lose. Certainly this is how political elections have worked for many years, it's not a new concept; but after watching two weeks of bitter partisanship I have a hard time seeing a light at the end of this tunnel on either side.

I don't know if this makes sense, I stayed up too late to write

I've watched most of the key speeches in the Democratic and Republican Conventions this year. Three things about the RNC before I go to bed.

[Washington Post photo: Sarah Palin apparently blew kisses to the crowd.]

Thing #1: The woman. She exceeded all expectations and was a bit nasty when talking down the Obama campaign. That's fine, and there was a lot of that going on with Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani as well. I find her nasty remarks about Obama distasteful because it's a familiar female tactic. Back in my younger days, when one of my guy friends got into a scuffle, I would jump right in the middle and start talking smack. If some dude started acting like he was looking for a fight with one of my guy friends, I would jump in and get in the other guy's face and start mouthing off. Of course, it was always in a room full of people, so I was never afraid that the guy would hit me - I'm a girl! Most likely, he's not going to hit a girl, but if I did get punched in a room full of people, he'd immediately be pummeled by every guy in the crowd. It's not okay to treat women that way, not even when they're acting like a huge bitch. So when someone started mouthing off to my friends, I turned into a pit bull in the same way Sarah Palin did tonight. She can be as nasty as she wants to be, if anyone criticizes her for it, they'll surely be called sexist. I've already heard the sexist card played so many times (Carly Fiorina basically said if anyone criticizes her lack of experience, they're sexist.) It's bullshit. [Sorry about the bad word Grandma, but it is really is bullshit! -KW] Sarah Barracuda talks pretty tough, but it's the rest of us who have to deal with the bazillion arguments about sexism. It's unbearable! Women do this - they act like a bitch, but when someone calls them a bitch, they play the sexism card. Puh-leez. I'm not saying I think the woman is a bitch, but I do think she layed it on just thick enough to piss people off. She had an I-dare-you-to-call-me-aggressive tone about her. Her opponent can't win on this one - if they criticize her or hit her back equally hard, they're sexist bullies. It's not fair, and it just perpetuates society's double-standards

Thing #2: I understand why the Republicans were so critical of the mainstream media (I was watching MSNBC, I understand completely.) But I have to question the strategy of incessantly harping on the media when they finally captured the media spotlight. [psst... Republicans, the media can hear you!]

Thing #3: I despise Mitt Romney. Or rather, I still despise Mitt Romney. I couldn't tolerate this man when he was in Iowa last year and I was reminded why tonight. He's so disingenuous, when I hear him, I think, "Are you listening to yourself? Do you even know what you're saying?" He spouts everything the audience wants to hear without even pretending it's a genuine thought. Then, he reduces his opponents to stereotypes and exaggerations. He's the kind of guy you argue with, and he comes back with, "Shut up. You're stupid." He's not even arguing issues, he's just saying, "Those other guys are just dumb, don't even listen to them."

Right back at you, Mitt Romney - you're a poopyhead, too!

That's all for now. More about Mrs. Palin later.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Change you can't believe in

I moved to D.C. the day after graduation. This jar is one of the many things on my to-do list that remained undone. It's silly to haul 10 lbs. of spare change across the country in a moving truck, but today something even more ridiculous happened. I'm finally short enough on cash to take this heavy haul to the bank; now I'm back from the bank but I still have the jar of change. Is it because I like to carry heavy bags around town? Is it because I hate my back and I'm deliberately trying to break it? No. I still have the money because the bank refused to take it.

Apparently the bank of America won't cash in spare change for their customers unless it's in rolls. The teller apologized and offered me some empty rolls to fill in my spare time and bring them back. She also gave me the other option of having it sent somewhere off-site to be counted for a $5 charge. Maybe it's just the branch near my apartment (3 excruciating blocks away) or maybe Bank of America is just too big to deal with spare change. The question is, what do I do with it now? Use it to buy groceries? Sell it on eBay?

I've never been to a bank that didn't have a machine on-site to count change. Usually it's free for customers and a couple of bucks for everyone else. I pondered this as I walked home (between whimpers of "Ouch - my back!") Is this just a Midwestern thing? How presumptuous of me to bring money into my bank and expect them to just put it in my account.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gustav Stretch

I have a love/hate relationship with the 24 hour news networks. The news is more interesting than whatever most networks are showing, but there's just not that much news to report. As a result, they need to stretch every story. They've been working Hurricane Gustav for all it's worth. There is some value in over-reporting this natural disaster. I'm sure it's invaluable to the local people who have been displaced to see the conditions in the area from which they've been mandatorily evacuated. I do not understand the value of having reporters and camera operators scattered across the evacuated areas, standing outside reporting the news. All of the networks have been doing this since yesterday. I'm not sure why it's better to watch Anderson Cooper try not to get blown away by 100 mph winds, or Geraldo standing on a bridge cursing. I don't think the reporters give any perspective that a strategically placed camera couldn't do. I suppose it makes the coverage a little more exciting - in much the same way the Crocodile Hunter was exciting. As I sit in front of the TV, I am not thinking to myself, "Wow, these are brave news anchors." I'm thinking, "What the hell are they doing out there? There's a friggin' hurricane!" But I continue watching, and I'm sure many others are doing the same thing today. How many of us are waiting for Geraldo or Anderson or one of the various storm chasers to get nailed by a tree branch? Not that I wish for them to be injured (although it would reinforce the instructions they keep repeating for the rest of us: IT'S DANGEROUS!!) I can't help but wait for them to start dodging hurricane shrapnel any minute now. That's what happens when they turn news into entertainment. After a few hours of the same, we expect a more exciting script.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The real Bush has a shorter tail

Just a couple of pics from my walk by the White House today. It was bizarre. This is a protester in front of the White House. The strange part was this mother and her kids. They were visiting the U.S. and the woman was thrilled to have her kids pose with this Bush/devil person. With a thick accent, she asked her kids, "Do you like George Bush?" (Pronounced "Jorj Boooosh") They jumped around giggling and yelled, "YEAH!" and she ushered them over to have their pictures taken. It was the same reaction a family has when they run into Mickey Mouse at Disney World. She thanked him repeatedly and walked away with a big smile. It was strange. Was she excited to run into a protester? Was it cool to see someone in a Bush mask to put in her vacation album? Was she just glad to photograph someone who hates Bush? Maybe she's just really into torture. I can't imagine what she was thinking, but the photos are too weird not to share.

What's with the Clinton supporters anyway?

Biden has only had the V.P. nomination for a few hours and the angry, raving Clinton supporters are everywhere. I understand why they are so bitter, but they are so wrong. The argument seems to be that Biden only had a few thousand votes in the primaries but Clinton had millions. Here's my argument:

The number of votes is incalculable. The way the Iowa caucus is set up is like instant run-off voting. Your first vote doesn't count if the candidate doesn't reach a certain level, that is within each individual precinct. When Biden wasn't a viable candidate, most of his supporters cast their vote for someone else; some of them for Clinton. You're welcome!!

Not only is it a faulty logic mathematically, but it's also backward. Most successful politicians have achieved their position through ruthless manipulation and cut-throat behind-the-scenes deals. Sound like anyone you know? Maybe one or two people with the last name Clinton? She was the first lady and then she clawed her way into the Senate and nearly continued on to receive the nomination by lobbying super-delegates. It's a comfort to me that someone like Biden will be in the White House instead of Clinton. Being an effective leader has nothing to do with campaigning and winning votes.

I just heard an analyst on TV talking about what a huge mistake Obama made by choosing a man. This particular dullard thought that Obama should've picked Clinton or Kathleen Sebilius - just to win the female votes. Here's my argument on that:

Ladies, if you really think Clinton was a better choice for women's issues than Biden you need to do your homework. Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act and has a great record on women's issues. It's appalling to assume someone a better advocate for women just because they have a vagina. Sure, the women's groups supported Hillary - she's a symbol. But I guarantee they will have no problem endorsing Biden. He may not have ovaries, but he's a champion when it comes to women's issues.

Can we stop with the sex issues and the race issues and choose a candidate based on where they stand on the political issues???

Biden-Obama would be better, but I'll settle for Obama-Biden

I fell asleep with the TV on. Early Saturday morning (around 4am) I awoke from a dream that Joe Biden was Barack Obama's running mate. A very confusing 30 seconds followed where I rubbed my eyes and cursed the television news for drawing out Obama's V.P. pick. If I could transcribe my 4am thoughts, it would read like this.
-He picked Biden!?!
-Wait, it's 3:45 am - he hasn't picked anyone yet.
-It must've been a dream, no one announces in the middle of the night.
-Dammit, I wish the media would just stop talking about this; it's seeping into my dreams.

[then, I looked at the TV and saw the headline, "Obama picks Biden"]

-Wait... but the clock says 3:45. Is it 3:45 pm? Did I sleep all day? Why is it still dark outside?

It was incredibly confusing to my sleepy and excited brain. I grabbed my cell phone to check the a.m. or p.m. and I had two text messages. I'm not an Obama supporter, so I didn't get his text message; but two friends had already texted me about it. Wow. It's really true! (and it's really 4am!)

If you know me, you know that I'm a huge supporter of Joe Biden. Today, dozens of people will hear the news and say, "I bet Kathleen's happy." Or perhaps they will say, "I bet that girl from the [Coralville precinct 4] caucus is happy." (Yes she is!) I should tell the story of my caucus experience, but it's a long one. I'll save it for another blog entry. The short version may be confusing, but it goes like this: I was a Democrat for a day. I registered at the caucus site. I was a precinct captain for Joe Biden. Biden and Richardson were not viable candidates. The Obama precinct captains were much smarter than Hillary Clinton's precinct captains. Most of the Biden and Richardson supporters moved over to caucus for Obama, winning him another delegate.

I say most because there were three or four stubborn Biden supporters (myself included) who made the choice to step aside. We knew our votes wouldn't count, but we couldn't bring ourselves to support a candidate who just wasn't good enough. Obama needs experience, and he's young. He would make a great V.P., but I still think it's ridiculous that Obama Fever carried him all the way to the nomination. Biden dropped his presidential bid the night of the Iowa caucus. The next day I mailed my voter registration to re-register as an independent.

That was back in January and we haven't heard much about Biden until the V.P. buzz. The thought of Biden as Obama's running mate was very exciting at first, and I was anxiously hoping he would get it. Lately I've had second thoughts. I thought Biden's Foot-in-mouth disease would keep him off the ticket. I came to terms with that and I was okay with it for two reasons. The first reason is that he was the most likely choice for Secretary of State, so he would still be in the Obama White House. The second reason is purely selfish: I didn't want to spend the next ten weeks defending Biden's honor when his name gets dragged through the dirt.

In the months before the Iowa caucus, I came to know all of the candidates from both parties. Biden's events drew small crowds, but anyone who listened to what he had to say knew he was the best candidate. Unfortunately, anyone who saw his campaign funds knew how unlikely that was. I attended several of his speeches, I met him numerous times, and I once had lunch with his wife. I'm very familiar with his history, his positions, and his character. So I do tend to get annoyed when I hear people judge him on his verbal gaffes or his idiotic mistakes from 20 years ago. It could get ugly in the next few months. The Hillary Clinton people are already trying my patience.

When I went to sleep last night I was convinced that Biden was not going to get the V.P. nod. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning and learning about the nomination was like waking up on Christmas and finding a shiny bike under the tree. He was such a great candidate and he just couldn't break through the hype of Clinton and Obama. Biden had great things to say, but no one was listening - including the media. In my heart, I knew he'd have so much support if he just had the exposure. Now, almost a year later, he has more paparazzi than Brittney Spears and he's the top story in the news. We'll soon find out if I was right. I can't wait for the Vice Presidential debates!

Right now C-Span is playing a clip from Biden's 1988 campaign. It's a terrible clip and he sounds like an arrogant punk. The weeks to come will be a constant reminder of the 1988 election and that he conceded in disgrace after admitting to plagiarism. On one hand -yes, it makes him look terrible. But on the other hand, it may just make him the perfect mentor. If Obama learns from Biden's mistakes, they'll do just fine together.

It is officially Obama-Biden for the 2008 Democratic ticket. While I would have preferred it the other way around, I think it's a winning ticket. After the emotional frustration of the Iowa caucus, this is a great feeling. Way to go Joe!

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I Do

I just have a few minutes and I have to go meet Superman. All summer long I've been wanting to go to Screen on the Green on the National Mall. It sounds so incredible to sit outside and watch a movie with the U.S. Capitol building in the background. Sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in the little stuff and forget about the wondrous city in which I live.

So, every Monday when Screen on the Green comes around, I can never decide if I should go or not. It's a great way to get to love my new city, but on the other hand - if I go by myself, it may just be a depressing reminder of how small my social circle is right now.

Last week I decided to remedy that and became the sociable Kathleen that you all know and tolerate. I got a group of people together after work on Thursday for Happy Hour. There were about five of us, we had a good time (and $1.75 Miller Lite draws) and the next day everyone told me what a great time they had and said we should do it again. So, today I sent out an invite to the new "Happy Hour" email distro and we're getting together for Screen on the Green. It's a wonderful thing about life; when you finally open the door and try new things, everyone benefits.

It's looking rather dusk-y outside, I better not keep Christopher Reeve waiting!

Friday, August 8, 2008

John Edwards must go away

I'm watching Edwards' big confession tonight on Nightline and once again I find myself shouting at the television. I don't think I've done that since... well, when did Edwards drop out of the presidential election?

Living in Iowa in 2007, I had a heaping helping of the former senator from North Carolina. He made me crazy as a V.P. candidate in 2004, he made me crazy as a 2008 presidential candidate, and now he makes me crazy as a confessed adulterer. He couldn't even admit to his extramarital affair without squinting into the cameraand expaining that he's the humble son of a millworker. WE KNOW!!

He. Makes. Me. Crazy.

So, if you're not following this story, I envy you but I will fill you in. The National Enquirer has been reporting since late last year that Edwards had an affair with a woman named Rielle Hunter. He's been dismissing it as tabloid trash all along, but he finally came clean in an interview with Bob Woodward tonight on Nightline. Interesting timing. Why would he decide to confess on this night of all nights? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the entire world is focused on Beijing right now? He's a smarmy dude, but I give him extra smarminess points for coming clean the night of the opening ceremony for the 2008 Olympic Games. In a slow news period, this thing would be the lead story everywhere, but for the next few weeks it will briefly follow news of gold medals and China.

Of course this is how it should be; Edwards isn't a politician anymore, he's just a loser from NC who tells lies and runs for office every four years. (I'm not judging him, by the way. He did not win those elections, he is by definition a loser; and he admits to being a liar.) So, I'm happy that I won't have to hear every excruciating detail of his affair for the next few weeks. I think his wife Elizabeth is a phenomenal woman. I've always liked her, even before it was announced that she was dying of Cancer. I don't "sympathy-like" her, I "like her-like her." I've just never been able to understand why she's with him. Even more so now.

Edwards was so ridiculous in the interview tonight. In true Edwards fashion, he explained his humble upbringing and apologized for making a mistake. He's confessed to Elizabeth, he's confessed to God, and he takes full responsibility. Finally. On the same night as the Olympics. What a good man. Right? (wrong!)

It's none of my concern if John Edwards is an even bigger jerk than I thought. If he wants to cheat on his wife as she dies from Cancer, that's between him, her, and God. It's no shock that another politician has been caught in a lie; but if the man is going to come clean on national television, it would be nice if he could do so without surrounding his confession in more lies.

As he explains it, he had an affair with this woman in 2006, his family knows about it, and her infant son is not his and he'd be thrilled to take a paternity test to prove it. (that's 1, if not 2 lies right there.) But, he explains that he had the affair in 2006, confessed to Elizabeth, she forgave him, and that's it.

Perhaps that's the truth, but it's a little confusing as to why his former lover was working on his campaign in 2007. I mean, she's that talented at producing YouTube videos that Elizabeth had no problem with him hiring jezebel for $100,000? That's... weird. That's also... bullshit. Almost as much bullshit as, "I don't know if that Enquirer picture is me or not... it looks like me, but it could be someone else holding some other baby."

One more point I find interesting, though it's not an original thought. One of the popular liberal bloggers was speculating on what would have happened if Edwards had received the nomination. She has a good point. If he had received the nomination and this came out, it would've derailed his campaign and give McCain a huge advantage. (side note, in the interview, Edwards managed to casually mention that McCain also admitted to an affair. Cheap shot. It was after he returned from Vietnam. I think most of us are less likely to begrudge a returning P.O.W. a few indiscretions.) If I was a Democrat, I'd be really pissed.

I've wasted enough time on Edwards. His faux sincerity never fails to annoy the living hell out of me, and once again he's driven me to yell at my TV and rant about him in print. I'm sorry that I've let him ruffle my feathers, and I'm sorry that his amazing wife married such a collossal dickhead. Really... I apologize. It's my fault that you had to read this, I take responsibility for posting it to my blog. (I'm looking at my computer screen with a squint that's supposed to convey sincerity. And my hair is flawless.)

Truly, America - I am sorry.

(p.s. I also did not inhale; and I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Crime Fighting Trio

Because no one is above the law!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vocabulary Optional

It was time. I think it's been over a year since I got my hair cut. If you've seen me lately, that shouldn't surprise you. I was beginning to resemble Cousin It. My curls look silly if my hair is short, but it shouldn't be so long that I look like I'm trying to win a contest. Remember the fingernail guy in the Guinness Book of World Records? After a certain length, they just start to twist out of control. That's kinda' what happened with my locks.

Yesterday I found out that I'll be attending a seminar at work, and I'm expected to host part of it. That means standing up in front of a crowd of people. Not one of my favorite things to do, but at least they're college students. It shouldn't be too hard, but as soon as I found out I was going to be doing some public speaking, I scheduled a hair appointment.

Back in Iowa, I spent anywhere from $10-$25 on a haircut. I asked around and heard that in DC, even Supercuts would run about $25. So, I went to a place near my apartment that had a good reputation, a $45 haircut and an open spot tonight.

I walked into the salon, was guided to the shampoo station where a woman scrubbed my scalp like she was cleaning the kitchen floor with a hand-sponge. She said a few words, but I'm not sure if they were to me or if they were even in english. After that, she led me to the next room.

When I walked in, an older gentleman said, "Ah!" and popped up to lead me to the salon chair. Wordlessly, he draped the cape around me and began to brush my hair with as much vigor as the shampoo scrub-woman. He didn't say a word, just brushed my unbrushable curls and said nothing when my head bobbed and wiplashed with every tangle. When his hands were close to my face, I could smell a strong odor of stale cigarette smoke. At that point, I began to look around. It was hard to focus with all of the bobbing and thrashing going on around my noggin, but I didn't see any licenses or anything on the wall. I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. For all I know, this guy could be the janitor. I didn't even know his name. I wasn't even sure if he was going to ask how I wanted it cut or just start snipping. I had no idea what was going on.

Finally, he said, "How you want?" Obviously he didn't speak english very well, so I just said, "manageable." I'm pretty sure he had no clue what that word meant. He narrowed it down to, "Long? Short?" Oh boy. This could be scary hair by the time it was all over.

I realize this is another one of those trivial blog entries, but think about this situation - you're at a new hairstylist and you can only communicate with the person by using the most basic descriptive words. For me, it was difficult - my hair is part of my identity. If people meet me when my hair is down, they don't recognize me when I put it up in a ponytail. And, vice versa. It's already happened at both of my jobs - the first time my hair was down, people thought I was someone new they hadn't met. My hair is big and curly and it commands attention. It makes its own rules, there's nothing I can do but go with it.

But even if you don't have hair that steals the spotlight, how strange would it be to go to a stylist and sit quietly while they cut your hair? For the most part, stylists seem to stick with the same conversational formulas. They ask the probing questions - are you a student? does your family live here? blah blah blah and there's always chatter to fill in the silences. I have never had so many boring conversations in my life as I have in a salon chair. Any salon chair.

So, once we got going, I was starting to dig Mennan. (His name was on his business card.) He was concentrating on the cut while I watched, and every once in a while he brought the hair between his fingertips and said, "There?" and I answered, "Okay." We had that conversation about five times. The only real substantial exchange was when I threw him off with the "manageable" request. He asked me a question, it sounded like, "Model? You see model?" I answered, "Where?" (a nice way of saying, "What the hell are you talking about? What model?") He went and got some books so I could show him a picture of what I wanted. Most of the girls in the book had straight hair, I said, "Not many curls." That's when we had are longest exchange:

Him: You perm.
Me: No, it's natural curl.
Him: You perm.
Me: Uhh... no I've never had a perm. [b/c I don't know if he's trying to argue where the curls came from or try to sell me a perm.]

He looked a little flustered this time & grabbed a big roller from the next station. He said "Big curls" and made a wavy motion w/his hand. He seemed to be really into the idea of giving me a perm with big rollers. I'm more adventurous with my hair than you might think, but I answered that one honestly and succinctly, "Costs money." He walked away - still flustered - and came back dragging the guy from the front desk. They spoke to each other in Italian while they made hand gestures and pointed at my hair. The other guy said, "He thinks you would like a perm w/the big rollers to give you long wavy curls." "How much would that cost?" "$140" [I didn't respond in english that time, just sort of a grunt with a hand-to-heart motion as if I'd been shot.] Then they argued a little bit and I heard Mennan say, "Low! Low!" and the other guy was shaking his head now. Mennan was pointing to the ground and seemed to be telling the guy to charge me less. It was funny - he was really committed to this idea of giving me a perm w/the big rollers. Finally the other guy went away and I was going to explain that I just graduated, I paid a dentist $365 to poke around in my mouth today, and the $45 haircut alone was a huge splurge. It would've been futile, so I just watched and he finished my hair in silence interrupted by a few utterances of "Here?" and then, "I shear" before he pulled out the thinning shears and make a quick snip at the ends. Not a bad idea to keep it from getting bunched up.

When I walked out, I was thinking - this was great! No b.s. conversation about my life or Brittany Spears or the weather or whatever the hell stylists talk about just to keep some rapport. This guy was kinda' cool. He was an older guy, and he seemed more suited to be welcoming Frank Sinatra into an Italian restaurant than cutting my hair. He did look like a successful night-club owner in all the mafia films. He could be a movie extra for that genre. As long as there's no dialogue.

In the end, it turns out - no dialogue is a great thing. It was weird at first when I thought he was a custodian, but after he got so inspired with the perm idea and kept checking the length over and over, I think he's probably pretty good at his job. In fact, his other job may be a successful night club/Italian restaurant owner. If it is, I bet he's good at that, too.

I'm home now and I didn't shell out the extra scratch to get it styled or blow-dried, so I walked home looking a bit like Scary Spice (Pre-Eddie Murphy) I'm going to bed super early tonight, get a good night's rest, and see how this 'do works out tomorrow. Now that it's dry, it's pretty short but I think that's a good thing. It was all length and no style. Now, hopefully, it's got some style. I think Mennan does. I can't say for sure b/c I can't communicate in anything other than a 5-10 word vocabulary, but I like him. Maybe I should go get some Italian language tapes from the library (Yes, I already have my card!) and I can keep going back to Mennan and learn Italian at the same time. $45 haircut/language lessons? Seems like a money saver when you throw that in!

I hope you are all doing well and are not spending more than $25 on a haircut. I may have to do what I told Mennan I was going to do before I get a perm, "Piggy bank."

It's starting to rain and I'm getting sleepy. I'm skipping laundry night and putting it off a couple of days. I'm way too tired. G'night everyone and stay out of the rain! And remember my tale of how nice it can be when you don't have to share an obligatory conversation with someone else. Even if they do have your vanity in their hands.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm fine, how are you?

I told everyone I'd keep this blog to let you all know how I'm doing but somewhere along the line it took a turn and became a collection of silly adventures and shoe mishaps. I suppose I can't help it that sometimes my shoes are the most interesting thing about me, but I guess I should hold up my end of the "keeping in touch" deal. Plus, I keep getting the same questions. So, without further ado, here's the real answers to the questions I answer with, "Fine" or "good" or whatever.

#1) How am I doing? I don't usually answer this one honestly b/c I don't want anyone to worry about me and if I said what I was thinking: "Well - I work seven days a week, I chipped a tooth and the dentist told me it would be $650, Everything is ridiculously expensive so I could really use a day off work but I can't afford it, I'm getting fat, and the other day my toilet overflowed at 11:00 at night and they didn't come fix it until 9:30 the next morning.

Now, don't get me wrong. It may sound like I'm miserable out here, but that's not true at all. Although, it would be true to say that life is fully of annoying krap no matter where you are. Even when things are going great, you can always find something to make you feel depressed.

#2) How is work? Great Actually! Things are going better than expected at work. My job is pretty much the same kind of work I was doing before as an administrative assistant, it's just really far away in a really expensive city at a fairly well-known non-profit organization. In the beginning, I was so envious of the people upstairs (our offices are on two separate floors.) I really wanted to be doing research and it was frustrating at first to be fixing the copy machine and typing memos instead. After a few weeks, I have a new perspective.

Part of my new perspective is because I was asked to help with the newsletter. It's not part of my job or anything, but someone in the fundraising department asked me to help proofread the monthly newsletter. I sat in on the meeting and offered to help with a few different things. It was nice to have a creative project and it's made life more pleasant. I have to admit that even though my current position wouldn't have been my first choice, it is a great experience as far as entry-level work goes. After I came to terms w/my envy for the researchers upstairs, I noticed that they don't seem to leave their offices very much. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I still hope to do that job someday; but in this administrative position, I interact with everyone. When I move up - whether it's within the same organization or a different job entirely - I will take with me experience working with all of the departments as well as some outside connections. It's definitely to my benefit to be on a first name basis with the directors. Plus, I pitched a new idea today that the president and chief of staff were both very supportive of. I'm really excited about it. It's 100% my project, so it will involve a lot of work on my end, but everyone else will be able to reap the benefits once it gets going. I don't want to make too much of it because I don't know how it will work out in the end, but if I can get the word out and build some interest it could be noteworthy. If it doesn't work out, no harm done - but if it does it could be a nice feather in my cap. More on that later.

#3) Have I made any friends yet? I hate this question!! People ask me all the time and much like question #1, I don't know how to answer it honestly. I have the best friends in the world and they're located in the Midwest. I have such a strong connection with my friends back home, I couldn't imagine finding that here in DC in a million years. It works out well for me because I am constantly in contact with people who are not my "friends" - neighbors, co-workers, co-workers [other job], people on the Metro... there are people everywhere out here. Hell, there's about twenty five people standing on the sidewalk on the next block in front of the movie theater! [Yes, they were lined up for Batman when I got home at 7:30] So, if the question is - am I lonely? The answer is no. Have I made friends? Yes - back in Iowa. It took me ten years to do it and they are only a phone call away.

#4) How is DC? Fun, fascinating, and expensive!

#5) Isn't it scary to live so far away from home? No. That's not scary. Living in the same place your entire life is scary.

#6) Is it dangerous out there? When it comes to crime in DC, there is definitely a pattern. I was just reading a blog by a friend from U of I who is working for a program teaching special ed in a neighborhood called Anacostia. I've never been to Anacostia, but I know that it's not a place that a whimsical Iowa gal like me should just wander into (nor anyone else who uses the word "whimsical" for that matter.) [Although there was an uncharacteristic shooting a few miles from my apartment on Sunday. It happened at noon, someone was shot in the leg and the witnesses chased the dude down until the cops got him. That's a hell of a neighborhood watch program.] It's interesting to me to think about how different our experiences are. We both wrote a column for the DI, both graduated from the U of I this year w/a Communication Studies degree, we both moved to Washington, DC immediately after graduation, but when he goes to work every day it's in a neighborhood that, according to wikipedia, "is primarily known for its excessive crime rates." We should get together in a year and exchange stories. That would make a good movie plot.

Well, I think that covers it. Let me know if I missed anything, and congratulations if you actually read this entire entry. I'm never at a loss for words. But, now that we got this out of the way, the next time you call me we can talk about you!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I have been told I have two left feet...

I can't blog for very long tonight, I have a boy coming over. Seriously. What? You don't believe me? Okay, fine - he's not actually coming up to my apartment, he's just going to pull up in front of the building and bring me a shoe. No kidding.

Shoes have become very important in my life. A lady at work told me, "You are the walkingest girl I ever met!" (or maybe she meant I was the "Walken"-est. Marsupials scare me.) I do love to walk and I do a lot of it out here, but I didn't realized how ill-prepared I was for the amount of walking I do. I can't wear tennis shoes or flip-flops to work, so I can point to a corresponding bruise, blister, or scar on my feet for each pair of dress shoes that I own. Yesterday I went to a mall in Arlington and bought a comfortable pair of sandals. When I put them on this morning I was rushing around getting ready for work half asleep and I put the shoe on the wrong foot. Then I switched them and I still had a shoe on the wrong foot. What the hell? Upon closer examination, I realized... I had two shoes for the same foot.
How does that happen? Can anything be un-complicated? Can I just go to a friggin' shoe store without it turning into an adventure?? Apparently the answer is no.
So I was really annoyed b/c I already spend $4.00 a day to ride the Metro to work and back, it would cost a couple extra dollars to go back to Arlington and exchange the shoe. I called the shoe store and explained, waited for the guy to finish laughing, and he told me to bring it in, no problem. Clearly there was no other way to make the exchange - it would be a bigger debacle to try and ship the shoes or something like that. It would be in their best interest to accommodate me - as long as I have two left shoes, they've got two right shoes they're not able to sell. I didn't get too bitchy about it, but I did make it clear that I was not happy about having to go all the way back & I wasn't sure when I'd have time to do it.
He said: Okay wait, let me talk to my manager. [whisper-whisper-whisper] Uh, okay. My manager says he'll bring the shoe to you if you give us the address.
So yes, I do have a boy coming over. His name is George, he manages a shoe store, and I told him parking would be a problem at my building so I'll meet him out front.
"Okay. I'll be in a Camry."
"Great. I'll be... the girl carrying the sandal."
And there you have it. A really bizarre turn of events and all I wanted was some comfortable shoes. I'm pretty happy about the service. Today at work we were discussing how to exceed peoples' expectations. It's pretty rare when someone you do business with goes out of their way to accommodate you, but when it does happen - they never forget. I definitely never expected that I would do a shoe exchange right in front of my apartment.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'm home; my luggage is still on holiday

My boss walked into my office on Thursday afternoon and said, "Are you running away from home?" It was a logical assumption considering the giant green suitcase by my desk (J has renamed the day-glo color"Random Bag Check Green.") Yep, I packed up Wednesday, left work at 5:30 on Thursday and headed to the airport for a depressingly short trip back home. Since then, my RBC Green suitcase and I have parted ways.

This is not going to be another slam like the one on Delta recently. Delta still sucks, but Northwest Air (or, NWA as the kids say) turned out to be my favorite of my four recent airline trips, despite the fact that my suitcase is still travelling the globe. (If you're keeping score that would be #1: NWA, #2: United, #3: American Airlines, and #1,024: Delta.)

Because nothing can ever go smoothly for me, here's how this trip worked out:
I booked the cheapest flight I could find which included 2 layovers on the return trip. Moline to Detroit, Detroit to Newark, Newark to DC. I made it to Detroit without incident, but the Newark flight was delayed an hour. Fearing a reprise of the Delta situation, I asked a representative for help and was told, "Your connecting flight leaves at 5:05 and we're due in at 4:35. 30 minutes is a legal connection time." I expected to spend the night in Newark tonight. Luckily, the flight was delayed again and the arrival time was 5:07, 2 minutes after my next flight leaves. I don't know the rules, but surely -2 minutes would be an "illegal" connection time. She conveniently disappeared, so I called the 1-800 number.

The lady at the 800# was very nice, and after I spent a few minutes on hold, she had me booked on a flight directly to DC, boarding in the next 20 minutes. That was awesome! Because of the layovers I wasn't due in until 6:30, this got me home 3 hours early. Of course, my suitcase didn't get the memo and was sent on its way to miss the connecting flight.

When my Detroit-to-DC flight landed and there was no suitcase, I was told that it was headed to Newark but they'd send it on the next flight to DC, then they'll deliver it to my apartment. Then she gave me some paperwork that had coupons for $25 off my next flight, 1,000 bonus miles, and $10 off from an airport vendor. (you had me at $25 off!)

As it turns out, my connecting flight is now delayed and isn't due in until 8:46 pm. Thanks to good timing and NWA's customer service, I made it home at 3:35. If I hadn't made the phone call, I would have my luggage but would still be in the air right now. Plus, I'd have to carry it home on the Metro instead of having it delivered. So, let's recap - I'm home 3 hours early, my luggage will be delivered, I'll save some $$ on my next flight, and I made it home before it started to rain an hour ago. Not a bad deal for having to wait a few hours for my dirty clothes.

It was a weird experience altogether. In Detroit I walked by a woman whose carry-on was meowing. (Can you really carry on a kitten or is TSA screening really inadequate?) On the flight from Detroit, there was about 5-10 minutes that were so turbulent, my Pepsi can almost jumped off the tray and into my neighbor's lap. If I hadn't been wearing a seatbelt, it would've been me in his lap. It was a crazy bumpy ride. I've never had an experience like that before. Well, I take that back, I had a similar experience in my brother's boat when it was windy outside and the waves were tossing us around. It would've been kind of fun had I not been sitting directly in front of a screaming infant. (Common courtesy, people - if you bring an infant on a plane, you have to bring enough pairs of earplugs for every other passenger on the flight!)

So why have I written all about the flight instead of my trip home? My flight is much less depressing. I still had some things to take care of at my apartment, so I shelled out $385 for a flight home so I could see my friends and clean up so I can get my $500 deposit back. I spent most of the weekend cleaning instead of hanging out w/friends. I arrived Thursday night just before midnight and had scheduled carpet cleaners at 8:30 Friday morning. Stayed up all night cleaning & vacuuming, slept all day, woke up late in the afternoon and cleaned the kitchen and bathroom all night. If I had stayed in DC, I could've been watching fireworks over the Capitol. I chose poorly.

It wasn't all bad. I had breakfast w/Keisha, Tom & the kids; my dad showed up and took Jenna and I to Amana & Williamsburg; I got to see Angie and J and Pops; and even though I didn't get to meet Anthony's new lady-friend, I did get to have ice cream with him. Plus, I spent $20 on products that would cost me $50 out here, changed my watch battery for $5.00 and found two pairs of work pants at Kohl's for $10.00. That helped curb some of the anxiety of the high cost of living out here. I just wish I could've spent more time w/all the people I miss. It felt wrong to be ignoring them to try to get my security deposit back. Lame. I will definitely have to make up for lost time in September - wherever the Brewfest ends up being held, my friends and I will be there!!

Update: As of 8:00 EST, the flight status on the Newark to DC flight is "Departed Gate 2 hours 19 minutes late, taxiing to runway (Departed Gate - takeoff delayed due to taxiing time)" Wow, I'm home in my jammies and my luggage is driving aimlessly around a runway. New ETA: 9:12 pm. Did I mention I made it back by 3:35?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Woke Up This Morning, Got Myself a Gun

Okay, I didn't actually buy myself a gun this morning, nor did I watch the Sopranos but I could have! Yesterday the Supreme Court declared the DC ban on handguns unconstitutional. Since 1976, the District has had the strictest gun laws in the country. Until now, the Court has neglected to interpret the Second Amendment and the meaning of the right "to keep and bear arms" or the definition of "well regulated militia." It's a landmark decision and I'm excited that this is happening while I'm living in DC and working with so many conservatives. One of the guys at work said that he used to live in DC (he now lives in Virginia) and said, "It's the only place I've ever lived where I couldn't have a gun and the only place I ever felt I needed one."

It's no secret that DC has had a bit of a crime problem. It's interesting to talk to people here about the decision. I don't see the logic of those who are afraid that allowing law-abiding people to keep handguns is going to somehow make the crime rate skyrocket. I guess we shall soon find out - in 21 days or how ever long it's supposed to take the city to redraft their laws. I admit, I speak from a position of privilege. I haven't lived here that long, and have never lived in a neighborhood where gunfire is a nightly occurrence. Those who have are insistent that any guns in the District will eventually end up on the street. Where I stand (which is admittedly farther out of harm's way) it looks like there are plenty of irresponsible people who are breaking the law by owning handguns. Putting an end to the ban would permit law-abiding citizens to have guns in their home. In the end, I don't know that much will actually change. Certainly the possibility of an in-home accident with the weapon increases, but there's no way in hell DC will ever have a carry law, so we really are talking about allowing people to keep a gun in their home for the purpose of self-defense. Virginians love their guns and they have concealed carry and open carry laws, and from what I've seen - the areas of Virginia nearby are quite a bit safer than DC. It's impossible to determine how the gun laws affect the crime rates and vice-versa; there are just too many factors involved. What we can do is argue the language of the Second Amendment, and I've had some fascinating conversations. I have spoken with many DC residents, and they're strongly divided on this issue. Of course, some take it all in stride. Tonight someone told me, "People like me shouldn't have guns. If you knew my ex-husband you'd understand why." She was quite relieved that she didn't have a weapon by her nightstand during that ugly divorce. But you still have to admit - if she really wanted to off the guy, she could've found herself a gun - ban or no ban.

Of course she didn't really want to murder her ex-husband, she was making the point that perhaps guns shouldn't be available to women every 28 days or so. Let's test the constitutionality of that idea!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A friend you haven't met

Tonight was the George F. Will event at Politics & Prose, and I did not ask him to sign my Newsweek as I quipped last week but I did get there early enough to get a seat. He didn't get quite the audience of McClellan last week, but it's easy to fill a room with Bush-haters. An intellectual conservative is a harder sell. Even if you don't share George Will's sensibilities, it's hard not to appreciate his wit. I tend to do both. He took Q&A from the audience after offering some well-articulated opinions (his Doctor saw his Medicare card and said, "Great! Now we'll send your bills to your children.") He is a conservative, but I think of him as more of a libertarian. When one questioner asked about teaching Intelligent Design in the classroom, Will compared it to teaching alchemy in a Chemistry class. He's smart, he's funny, and I'm in awe of his command of the English language.

At the end of the event, I looked around for a bit (how cool is this - they have my U of I professor's book in stock!) I tried to decide if I wanted to look like a dummy and ask Mr. Will for a picture or not. I didn't feel entitled to take up his time when I wasn't shelling out for his book, but I eventually decided it might amuse my dad. Surely he'll feel better about me being so far away if he sees me hangin' w/George F. Will.

There were only a few people left in line when I mustered up my nerve, but the guy in front of me could not stop talking when it was his turn. It prolonged my wait, but it was quite endearing. The man was buying four books and had them signed and personalized for friends while he repeatedly expressed his appreciation for Will's work. After all four books were autographed, he handed George Will a gift he'd brought him - a book by another author that he thought he would enjoy. Yeah, it took a while - but it was fun to watch the enthusiasm; and what the hell do I have to complain about? I wasn't even making a purchase.

When it was my turn, I gave my rehearsed explanation that I had just moved to Washington after graduation and apologized that I could not yet afford the book, but I was hoping he might have a picture with me. (If you've skipped to the end of this entry, you've aleady seen the spoiler on that one. Don't skip ahead - you'll miss the best part of the story!)

Before that photo came to be, the guy in front of me heard my question and immediately turned to me and said, "You want a book? I'll buy you a book." He insisted that I needed one and my Iowa hospitality prompted, "Oh no, I couldn't accept that. A picture is fine... it's for my dad." But the man was a dedicated fan and wanted to share his favorite author with anyone who wanted to read it... even if it's just the young lady standing in line next to him. I was shocked by his reaction and didn't know what to say. I protested again until George Will nodded at me and said, "Take the book."

"Okay, if George Will says take the book, I will take the book."

So, I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy of One Man's America. The only thing better than an autographed book is an autographed book with a fun story behind it. I walked to the cash register with the enthusiastic fan and between my "thank you"s, he raved about the book and explained: It's a collection of essays, something easy to pick up if you just have a few minutes here and there (like on a 20-minute commute on the Metro, for example!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MSNBC won't be happy until I cry my eyes right out of my head

I'm watching the repeat of Meet the Press on MSNBC and it's a continuation of their "Remembering Tim Russert" weekend memorial. It takes a lot for me to shed a tear; I don't really cry very often. But when I see Tom Brokaw try not to break down on the air, saying, "I don't know if I can get through this..." well, I certainly couldn't make it through watching that.

It's not because I have any attachment to Brokaw; he always sounds to me like he's tossed back a few drinks before his broadcast. The sad truth is that we all suffer a loss with the passing of Tim Russert. When it comes to television journalists, it just doesn't get any better than Russert. If news & politics isn't your thing, maybe I can explain with a sports comparison.... Think of a player on a rival team that you hate to see your team go up against. The one guy who is so good that you would love to see him wear your team's jersey, but when he plays against your guys, you pray he'll be on the injured list. He's the Michael Jordan when your team plays the Bulls; he's Wayne Gretzky if your team plays the... er, Rangers, Kings or Oilers... depending on what year this particular analogy takes place.

That's the best way I can describe Russert, but it's not an ideal analogy. He doesn't play for a side. When he interviews politicians, it doesn't matter what their political affiliation is, he puts them all on the spot. If it's someone I don't especially like, I cheer when he catches them off guard. But last year when he interviewed Bill Richardson, I cringed. I have a lot of respect for Richardson, and Russert nailed him on everything. He even called the Governor out for claiming to be a Yankees fan at one time, and a Red Sox fan another time. It was brutal. I sat in my living room waving a white flag back and forth for poor Richardson.

It's really unfathomable that Russert is gone. I can't imagine who could replace him on Meet the Press. Surely there's someone with the same qualities as Russert - hard working, unintimidated by powerful people, someone who refuses to back down. Unfortunately, Big Media seems most interested in having a pretty face read soft news. Anything even resembling investigative journalism is rare.

I'm afraid that one of the last great journalists died suddenly on Friday the 13th, and left behind some impossible shoes to fill. It's sad to think that he's gone, while we're left with the mass of talking heads and partisan hacks. It's incredibly sad, but like I said - it takes a lot of heartache for me to shed a tear. I must admit that I've shed a few this weekend while watching the retrospective on MSNBC. They've repeatedly shown footage and interviews with Russert -one can imagine the amount of grief that is undoubtedly being suffered at NBC. The clips show Russert beaming and speaking about his father over the years. His Dad, "Big Russ" was the subject of his book, and watching the old footage of Russert speaking so proudly of his father is heartbreaking.

It's sad for us all that we no longer have Tim Russert to hold our elected officials accountable. But when I think of today - Father's Day; it's hard to hold back the tears when I think of what his father and his son must be going through. My heart goes out to the family.

You win, MSNBC.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to go call my dad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mark Your Calendars for the Iowa City Brewfest!

It's a tradition and it's officially on the calendar - the Iowa City Brewfest is on Saturday, September 20th from 11am to 5pm. I will be booking my flight back soon, and I can't wait to come back and see everyone. Many of you have told me you were "definitely coming" to the brewfest this year. I'm giving you plenty of advance notice so you can put your money where your mouth is. (and in a couple months put your lager where your mouth is... and your porter, your ale, your cider, your lambic, etc...)