hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Spring, Bring it!

Truth be told, I've been a little bummed out recently. This winter, like every other one since I was twelve, I have experienced my annual bout of seasonal affective disorder. Characterized by a general feeling of ennui, boredom, and listlessness; the desire to sleep way more than is necessary; an intensified craving for excitement, followed by extreme disillusionment when said excitement doesn't materialize; and a tendency to self-medicate with beer and other spirits I find myself just wishing this season would be over already. A lack of sunlight does crazy things to a person. Like plants we rely on a certain amount of exposure to warm, nurturing rays or else we begin to wilt just a bit. Needless to say, I am wilting.

Lack of activity is not the problem here. Lord knows I have an extremely active social life. But with the amount of socializing I do at bars and parties, it's all beginning to blur together into a non-distinct mess of whisky-fueled nights, complicated relationships with the men in my life, drunken texting, moderate hangovers. Rather unremarkable. L tells me that life isn't supposed to be exciting, that it is what it is but I can't help but feel a little let down from that. How can you feel satisfied with your quiet little life when you long for something bigger, even if you can't fathom what that bigger something is? I guess I've always thought that everyone else's life is more interesting than my own. It could also be that I have spent much of my twenties feeling as if suspended in some sort of limbo, waiting for life to begin as it were. But that's not the kind of thing that just happens on its own, you need to make it happen and I feel like I'm slacking on that.

So yesterday, I took some steps to remedy this. For one, let me add that I woke up on Sunday feeling like I had totally wasted my weekend. Yes, I attended to parties on Friday and bar-hopped after that, and on Saturday I saw two gallery exhibits and enjoyed a classic night of antics out with my friends. But on Sunday morning this didn't seem like enough. To be honest, I was a little sad about something that happened on Saturday, something that I totally saw coming from miles away, that I could have prevented by speaking up first, but in an effort to be optimistic and non-confrontational, simply let simmer until it boiled over with a pathetic little pop, my passivity being worst part of all. Feeling a little bummed (I think it's what Holly Golightly referred to as the "mean reds") my first instinct was to curl up on the sofa and watch TV. But knowing myself at least a little well, I knew I'd ultimately be more satisfied if I challenged myself to leave the house and to react with the world in a meaningful way. So I grabbed my camera and the book I've been reading and headed to the Dupont Circle area to snap photos and find a nice place to drink coffee and escape into a novel. Let me say that the wide angle zoom lens I bought several weeks ago is probably the best 200 dollars I have ever spent. I can't wait to see the end products, as what I found through the viewfinder using this lens was extraordinary. It will be interesting to see how it translates to grainy black and white film. My outing ended at the bar at Kramer Books with a dish of their sublime mac and cheese and a glass of wine. Going to Kramer books and treating myself to dinner there is my typical ritual when I'm feeling stressed out or blue. It comes through for me every time. The bartenders there are adorable and charming and flirt with me just enough to feel pretty again while the knowledge that I've done something proactive to make myself feel better always boosts my spirits. This was followed by curling up in bed to watch Grey's Anatomy, my current TV obsession. Because I am a sucker for bad boys I have a bit of a crush on caddish Alex.

So I suppose the moral of this story is that its not that my life isn't active enough, it's that it isn't *balanced* enough. I bet if I spent more time developing my interests such as photography, running and long-form non fiction writing (so I can be the next Susan Orlean), events such as losing a crush and being annoyed with my friend with benefits wouldn't be such a downer. I don't know what it is about positive change that's so difficult, do you?

Regardless, I'll be happy to finally drink in some sunlight when it finally decides to appear.

Friday, February 24, 2006

How Dumb Are they?

Since it's Friday and you weren't planning on doing anything for the next hour or so anyway, let me present to you dear readers, a fresh new face in the blogosphere. Twenty-something missives on the drudgery of office jobs are nothing new (for example, I will refer you to my last post). Supervisor-hating is practically a sport in this town. But how often do bloggers pause to reflect on the ignominious experience that is supervising the office intern? Perhaps you know the drill. You have a couple years of office experience under your pretty J Crew ribbon belt so your boss decides to task you with the special honor of supervising a wide-eyed college student (or very recent grad) on the intricate sciences of making photocopies and performing mail merges. After all , who doesn't like free labor, and they figure this will give you "management experience." Yet wide-eyed interns, as knowledgeable as they may be about Alexander De Tocqueville, advanced algorithms, post modern theory, the best way to make a bong out of three paper clips and an orange, and all the other fascinating details that compose the topography of the modern 20 year old mind in our day and age, are often disasters when it comes to performing seemingly easy administrative tasks. And as you quickly learn, managing them basically becomes a matter of redoing their work.

Well fret no longer. I present to you My Interns Are Dumb, where burnt-out intern supervisors can seek group therapy.

Note: Before I get a bunch of angry interns all up in my grill to tell me that they represent the exception to the dumb intern law, let me just say this now: Not all interns are dumb. Just as not all bosses are dumb, not all Republicans are dumb, and not all bloggers are dumb. Now get over yourself and go read it, as it's rather amusing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How to Succeed in Business (Or What I Learned in the Dungeon of the Non-Profit Sector)

I've been in the working world for several years now. After temping for what seemed like eons and working as a program/public affairs assistant for several more, I finally landed a position six months ago where I am trusted to perform a range of duties with a large amount of autonomy from my supervisor. I'm trusted to manage projects and programs and do so with a minimal number of mistakes, amazing to me sometimes given my problems with disorganization and short attention spans. My current company lacks a defined hierarchy--most people here share the nebulous title of "associate", but I'd venture to guess that at a similar company or organization my responsibilities would fall within the range prescribed to program or project managers. For the first several years of my career my responsibilities were sharply limited to administrative tasks that were closely monitored for quality and consistency by my superiors. Having graduated from a demanding college and having aspirations of professional greatness (whatever that may be) I was constantly frustrated by the lack of brainwork associated with compiling media lists, preparing meeting agendas, writing meeting recap memos and performing mail merges. It all seemed completely pointless and insulting to my intelligence. Granted, every once in a while my abilities would be recognized and I would get to ghost write a policy paper or article, or organize a press conference, but these opportunities were rare within the general miasma of office work I was expected to perform, well, and with a smile on my face.

But several recent experiences at my current position have made me feel thankful for the training I received as the token program bitch. As much as I like my current working environment, there isn't a huge amount of emphasis placed on intra-team communication. Granted, we have weekly meetings where we set priorities and tell one another what projects we're working on, but when it comes to things like meeting management, people rarely send agendas or notes out ahead of time, and there is virtually nothing done to effectively recap meetings to document the decisions made in regards to goals and action steps. There's an underlying assumption that everyone will be on the same page going into a meeting and that everyone has taken ample notes on what they are to do when they leave it. I appreciate the laid-back environment that this creates and the fact that people rarely feel beholden to perform seemingly mindless administrative tasks.

Recently I have been in two situations where I have felt that either giving my coworkers meeting materials in advance or sending out recap memos after meetings would be helpful for rolling a project along. Both times the steps that I have taken to do this have been met with delight and surprise, as if they couldn't possibly ever expect anyone to be so proactive in the area of intra-team communication. Doing something for your coworkers that makes their lives easier is always a nice feeling. But more than that, it's occurred to me that doing so is a direct product of having lived in administrative limbo for the first several years of my career.

To put it plainly, I was trained by a series of micro-managing non-profit divas (it seems counter-intuitive to call managers at non-profits divas, but trust me, I've encountered many). And as much as I resented these people who at the time only seemed interested in making a name for themselves in some matter of public policy or politics, I am coming to be grateful for the skills that working for them ultimately taught me. For instance, I'm a pro at mail merges (helpful now that my admin is on maternity leave and I must do these things myself), can compile rather creative and comprehensive media lists, can collate photocopies like a pro, and organize groups of people for meetings like no tomorrow. While the majority of my work now focuses on higher level managerial tasks and brainwork, I feel like having these skills makes me a more reliable and empathetic teammate. I realized today that having these skill sets, I would place more value on them than I had ever before realized if I someday had to hire somebody to do the job I have today. Sure, I would be impressed by an advanced degree, but in some ways, I think I would have more respect for somebody who had put up with the bullshit for several years and knew how to apply it more advanced tasks.

The moral of the story is this: Do not be discouraged if your job seems more clerical than you would like for it to be, especially if you've recently graduated from school. We all go through it. Do what you can to keep sane enough to survive it and to move on to the next level. And once you're there be grateful for the skills you obtained while collating hundreds of pieces of color-coded memos for board meeting packets while your boss was at a two hour-long hair appointment. Chances are, others will be grateful for it too.

[edited this morning because apparently being the office bitch still didn't teach me how to properly proof my work]

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why People Lock Their Doors

People lock their doors because when they don't other people who they don't want to see might come into their homes. These people may be intoxicated ex-friends-with-benefits who are too drunk to drive themselves home but think they can walk into your home at 3 in the morning and find a hospitable place to stay. These people won't take the fact that its 3 am and you haven't spoken them in several months as a deterrent. No sirree. They want to sleep in your house and they want to do so immediately. These are often the same people who have ripped cigarettes from your lips as you've been smoking them to protest your habit and who have told you that they'd never take you seriously as a potential girlfriend because they met you at a bar rather than at a bookstore or on the Metro even though you go to bookstores a lot and ride the Metro about 20 times a week. These are people with a myriad of conflicting needs, who want what they want, in the very specific way that they want it and not even a smidge differently. These are people who show up in your room, unannounced, trashed, demanding to know why you don't answer their 5 am phone calls anymore. These people are not dangerous per say. They're not the same people who enter your home at night in order to take your best silverware or to reappropriate your plasma screen. But they're disturbing nonetheless. These are people who sane people tend to ignore but when faced with their presence at the foot of their beds at 3 am have little control over the situation. These are people with control issues. These are people who pass out on your sofa and then worm their way into your bed after you have fallen asleep again. These are people who offer to drive you to work in the morning after their intrusion has totally messed up your rhythms and you're about to be late for work. These are people who deliberately drive the wrong way up Rock Creek Parkway in a lane that has been closed to all traffic simply because they disagree with the way in which traffic has been engineered to flow. These are people who remark that their current girlfriends are not as interesting as you as you clutch your seat as they swerve past cars that aren't going as fast as they'd like. These are people who inspire you to take stock of your living situation and to wonder if perhaps you need to adopt a nice big attack dog from the local animal shelter.

And that is why people lock their doors. Remember kids, Hey Pretty learns things the hard way so that you don't have to.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

He's Here, He's Weir, Get Used to It

With Michelle Kwan's withdrawal from the Olympics last weekend the number of reasons for US viewers to be excited about this year's games are dwindling. But take heart, you can always entertain yourself with the antics of men's figure skater Johnny Weir. The apparent enfant terrible of the contemporary skating, this kid not only delights with his brash sound bites off the ice, but can back them up with masterful performances on the ice. Tonight NBC will telecast the men's free skate where Weir will attempt to retain his second-place position. For more on Weir check out this article.

Art in the City

The drill is familiar. It's two days before a long weekend and you waited too long to make plans to go out of town and now you're kicking yourself for procrastinating, wondering what in the world you will do to occupy yourself for three whole days. Well fear not, Hey Pretty is here to take care of you, as always.

Head down to R&B coffee on Saturday, February 18th for The Happening, a multi-disciplinary art and music extravaganza where Hey Pretty will proudly be displaying three original photographs. My participation in the event comes after many organizational and creative hassles, so I am especially happy that it's coming to fruition. For more information about the event wander on over to www.rnbcoffee.com.

Friday, February 10, 2006

SEP What? Huh?

I need to select an investment firm or bank for my employer to put my SEP IRA funds in. How the heck am I supposed to determine what investment firm to use? Surely one of my more grownup readers can help me out here...

No, the *Other* Stiffie

It's been a slow week here at Hey Pretty. This week has just had an odd energy about it--too much negativity to want to dwell over for too long. Therefore, I've been a bit quiet. But I do want to share this tid bit announced today by Slate about the risks of contracting spinal meningitis through french kissing. This caveat comes just in time for the weekend. Just something to remember next time you drunkenly swap spit with some stranger at a bar or house party. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Ever since I turned 29 a few months ago I've been plagued with the typical fear that my twenty-something malaise/indefinite post-adolescence will never evolve into a more solidified and respectable form of adulthood, that I'll turn thirty feeling even more indifferent to embracing responsibility and life direction that I am now.

Two incidences today have further illustrated this uncomfortable reality. First was in a conversation with a 33 year-old co-worker who assured me that I shouldn't feel bad that he and his wife are buying their second house because he is "a decade older" than me.

Hey Pretty: But dude, I'm 29.

Co-worker: Yeah, but I feel a decade older than you.

Third Co-worker: It's just you're youthful attitude shining through.

Hey Pretty: You mean my bratty immaturity, don't you?

[end scene]

Then at lunch with co-workers we ordered a pitcher of margaritas and I was actually carded by the waiter. Yes, nothing like seeking to prove oneself capable and serious in the workplace when being accused of being nineteen by a food service employee.

Fuck all of them I say. If the world thinks I'm underage, suffice to say I'll still be considered hot when I'm forty.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Poetry Reading Day

Oops, I almost forgot that today is the blogger poetry reading. My selection is a little ditty by Dylan Thomas.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Some Thoughts About Work

1.) It occurred to me that my job is less about doing the communications work for events and new developments as it is TOTALLY RUNNING OUR PROGRAM FOR INDUSTRY PARTNERS, which includes some communications work but also includes planning and coming up with ideas for how stuff should work. This wasn't really explained in any of my interviews here and my boss has done a lousy job of emphasizing it as the main part of my job. In a way it's like "huh...I didn't exactly sign up for this. Why was this job so poorly represented?" And then it's like "When I'm 35 do I really want to be spending my days in meetings discussing process-oriented issues for a project? What sort of life is that?"

2.) In coming up with ideas for how stuff should work, I think I'm happier just having the idea of telling my boss that I believe it's a good one because of x,y,z rather than asking her if it sounds good to her. Believing that you're right and in charge is more conducive to productivity anyway. That's me, large and in charge, although not really because I'm only 5'2" and I think I'm losing weight now that I started running and doing yoga again.

3.) I cannot stand one of my coworkers. He is totally narrow-minded and argumentative. The site of him makes me want to punch something. Preferably him.

4.) I just had a meeting regarding this program and was asking everyone to describe what they were doing for it, and one person totally lied! What's worse is that he's a friend and it put me in a bad spot because the logical follow up question would have revealed that he was lying. That was a true first.

The great news though, is that my mom is really funny. Here is her response to an email I just wrote her articulating most of these thoughts:

Ah yes, the dreaded "project management" thing. That's basically what I
do, too. I certainly don't "edit." Your plan to "announce" rather than
"ask" is a good one. I am of the theory that it's better to make a
decision now and (if necessary) apologize later than to hang around
asking permission.

Regarding the friend/liar: Can you have a difficult conversation with
that person in private in which you say something like "You owe me four
lattes for not blowing your cover" or some such thing?

I, too, hated Citizen Girl. That may explain why I spilled an entire
glass of wine on it -- and myself -- at Bertucci's the other night. I
even broken the wine glass. Anyway, I thought of you on nearly every
page. Especially at the beginning. If there's a "Lifetime" channel for
young twenty-somethings, it's definitely a candidate.

How to Win Me Back

This morning as I was heading out the door to catch the metro, I paused to grab the current issue of the New Yorker, which was sitting on top of the stack of mail in my lovely group house mailbox. I recalled that given the barrage of irritating letters I have been receiving from them recently, that this would be the last issue in my subscription. To be honest, I've been reconsidering my relationship with the magazine recently and have started to think that perhaps it has evolved past its prime. I used to look forward to Tuesdays (always Tuesday for some reason) when it would arrive and I'd have something witty and engaging to read on the metro. I can't pinpoint what has changed about the magazine, but I feel that the topics of the articles aren't as interesting to me as they once were. These days, I have been reading it almost exclusively for the movie reviews (although Anthony Lane seems to hate every movie he sees so there's almost no point) and the cartoons.

This morning as I picked up my copy I made a silent promise: If Shouts and Murmurs is amusing, I will renew my subscription (mine is ridiculously cheap--the magazine bought my name from a list of some sort and I now receive their "professional rate". What sort of "professional" they have never specified). Shouts and Murmurs, for those of you unaware, is the magazine's humor column. Recently it hasn't been very funny, which is disappointing, because smart humor, when executed correctly, is the best thing on earth.

Fifteen minutes into my metro ride (am I right to think the red line was unusually crowded this morning?) I flipped to Shouts and Murmurs. This week's subject is a satirical take on the Federal government's phone tapping of potential terrorists, otherwise known as "very bad people." I'll let you read it for yourself, but let me confess that a minute into the piece I was laughing so hard I could barely sit up straight and tears were streaming down my face washing away the eyeliner I had made myself late for work by so artfully applying (not entirely true. I was actually late for work because I stayed out too late last night drinking very cheap wine followed by too much beer at the Pour House, which was worth it of course, as it always is.).

Of course, we know what this means, my dependency on the New Yorker has been re-established. I know it's the magazine equivalent of a neglectful boyfriend who wins back your affections with lavish gifts, but my partner is too wily for me. It knows my weaknesses all too well.