hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blog Designer Wanted!

A couple of months ago I was in communication with a freelance blog designer. We had reached a tentative agreement that she'd give this old gal here a face lift, but because I was poor at the time, I couldn't pay her up front, so I had to wait until I could to enjoy her services.

Skip ahead 1 month...

She has decided to close up shop to devote herself to being a new mom. Congrats for her, I'm thrilled for her.

However, now I am without a blog designer.

So, fellow residents of cyberspace, please help. Can anyone refer me to a freelancer willing to charge under 100 dollars to design me a custom template? I've looked around the internet and have my eye on one, but I'd like other options. I'd rather go with somebody who will create something specifically for HP, rather than letting me select a template from a bunch of pre-made ones. Those are fine and all, but when you revamp, you should REVAMP.


Happily Ever After What?

"Because the soul is progressive it never quite repeats itself, but in every act attemps the production of a new and fairer whole." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

My last couple of posts seem to have hit a nerve with many of my readers. Not surprisingly, the whole issue of fitting romantic relationships into the context of our lives, both in the short and long terms, is a challenging proposition for many of us. Last night, after a night on the town with Sailor, I was settling into my evening routine when a re-run of an old Sex in the City came on. I'm sorry to return to this show again as a reference point, but this particular episode brought up an interesting topic. The theme was relationship myths--those fables that illustrate people overcoming seemingly impossible odds to find "the one" that people hold on to as a source of hope that they too will someday find somebody right for them. Aside from the notion that "the one" is a rather outmoded and unrealistic construct in and of itself, I was particularly struck when one of the characters used the term "happily ever after" in describing the outcome of finding "the one."

An old boyfriend of mine once told me that he believed that fairy tales were the worst possible influences on the female psyche because they ingrain little girls with impossible notions of princes and knights sweeping them out of harm's way and carrying them off into the sunset of unidentified bliss that in reality, are never actualized. He said that too many women carry these dreams with them as baggage throughout life, and that nothing ever matches these expectations because they're impossible to attain. In other words, they set women up for failure.

Setting apart the fact that he was probably giving these stories a bit too much power, I mean, I think most of women are capable of seeing fairy tales for the metaphors that they are, but he did have a point. That being, that finding that perfect relationship should never be regarded as the sole catalyst for transforming your life.

So, continuing with this idea that I laid down the other day, that relationships should be considered as dynamic portions of an overall whole, not a means to an end, I pose this question: If another person isn't your happily ever after, what is?

Here are a few of mine: Publishing a book; taking the perfect photograph; finally finding an occupation and job that's 100% right for me; making absolute peace with my body; forgiving myself of my previous mis-steps.

And to pose yet another question, wouldn't it be best if we all just agreed that happily ever after begins right now?

What are some of your happily ever afters?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Short Term is Long Term (Quasi Deep Thoughts from HP)

I've noticed this tendency among women who are unmarried but who hope someday to be married to not want to become involved in relationships with guys that may not last a particularly long time. Perhaps due to general incompatibility issues like faith, or logistical issues like location, or a myriad of others, some relationships simply aren't built to last. But is the knowledge that something is due to end a reason to not pursue it? Our culture puts such a high premium on marriage and long-term commitment that I think it often blinds us to other possibilities.

I tend to think that fate introduces you to certain people at certain times for a reason and that every human relationship is an opportunity to enrich your world view, learn something new, or simply have fun. Yes, it can be painful to grow attach to something that you may have to let go of, but that pain shouldn't (in my opinion) be a reason to avoid the experience of the good. Life is painful. Deal with it. Fear of it shouldn't prevent you from experiencing another person in such a way that you may actually grow as an individual.

Marriage is not the be-all and end-all that our culture makes it out to be. Nor should it be used as a yardstick for personal progress. And just because you aren't on a marriage track doesn't mean you're "behind" or "ahead" of those who are. Just do your own thing and stop comparing yourself to others and to cultural institutions that don't fit your specific contexts.

If someone rolls across your path who intrigues you, take a closer look. You never know what you might get out of it.

*stepping down from soap box and back into my slippers now*

Monday, August 28, 2006

"So DC"

When you live in Washington, DC there are certain romantic experiences one can have that may be described as "so DC." Touring the monuments on a first date, drinks at the Hotel Washington, walk of shaming it home from the Watergate are all excellent examples. I have one more to add to the list: kissing a man in uniform goodbye in front of the Pentagon as you see him off to work.

BTW, despite having lived here for over seven years, this was the first time I have ever boarded the metro at the Pentagon. It was such an intriguing cross section of subcultures--military personnel in various types of uniforms (saluting one another--when my man saluted a passerby I seriously felt like I was tripping), civilians in the finest Banana Republic, and war protesters. Now, as anyone who knows me or regularly reads HP knows, I fully support free speech and the rights of people to publicly object to the war. However, there seems something, I don't know, wrong, about protesting in front of the Pentagon. I mean, milling right by you are people who have made a serious commitment to protect and defend our country. Even though I don't agree with our role in Iraq, it seems like a slap in the face to me to protest it to people who are going off to defend our freedoms.

Friday, August 25, 2006

When Men Were Gentlemen and Women Were Ladies

The scene: The National Portrait Gallery. Hey Pretty and Companion are surveying a display of Tiffany glass pieces.

Companion: If you had to choose any other time in history to live in what would you choose?

Hey Pretty: I've always been fascinated by the 1920's. The music, the literature, the design, the feeling of progress and change that must have permeated the era. Plus, I would have been a pretty kick-ass flapper. What about you?

Companion: America in the 1840s through the 1860s.

Hey Pretty: Why's that?

Companion: It was a different time. Men were still gentleman and women were still ladies, yet the west was still wild and unclaimed, still a little dangerous.

Hey Pretty: (thinking to herself) Kiss me, sailor.

End scene.

And that my friends, was last night in a nutshell. The man was a gentleman and the woman was a lady, yet there was something there a little wild and unknown. And he opened the car door for me. The *car* door. Kiss me, sailor, indeed.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

FDA Hooray

I never thought this would happen.

One small step for woman-kind.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Opposites Attract, Part Deux*

So everyone, myself included thought it was incredibly funny when I was dating the wanna-be Alex P. Keaton, young Republican several months back. Oh, ha ha, we all thought. In between her trips to the Whole Foods for soy products and yoga classes, HP finds herself compromised by he-of-questionable-political-leanings. Even the WaPo's Express got in on the fun. And as predicted, it lasted all of five seconds. Okay, to be fair to both of us, the actual relationship lasted all of 3 days. And politics had nothing to do with its demise. But you can bet that they were cited on numerous occasions as one of his many faults/reasons why fate cut the party short as promptly as it did.

And yes, since then I have cited conservativism as a major deal breaker. I had good reason to, and even if I didn't, I was heartbroken at the time, so I think that would count for a something. Anyhoo.

I have once again found myself wading in the waters of a similar situation. Just wading, mind you. It began a couple of months ago, when I was simply sitting on the shore of said waters, gazing placidly at their murky depths, wondering "what if." I hadn't even expected to visit the shores that day. But somehow, I got there, and somehow it hit me (as in, full-on epiphany, something actually clicked in my head) "Huh, those waters look pretty appealing. How can that be?" So here I am, up to my calves in it. The waters are warm, and although the tides are smooth, the undertow feels strong.

As a cynic/afraid to get hurt again/drama queen/etc, I have of course, taken the liberty of building a list of mutual differences in my head. It's lengthy. He's in the armed-forces for crying out loud. But as always, other humans fascinate me so much that I can't help but venture in for a closer look. I am simply mesmerized by the possibility that people who have few things in common could be drawn to one another. Also of interest is the fact that my neat little stereotype regarding men in the armed forces is being blown wide open. Yes, they perform a great service for our country and do a ton of shit that I certainly don't want to do (namely running around in the desert being shot at) but in my experience, many of them are also out of control jackholes** with few IQ points to rub together. Of course, many are also extremely brave, strong, loyal, kind hearted, and polite. In fact, in writing to Lulu earlier, I posited the following theory (which would have been the title of this post but it sounded too Carrie Bradshaw-ish): Could military boys be the new knights (think about it). Let's just say that I am developing a new-found appreciation.

So here's the deal: Totally different backgrounds and value systems. The other day he asked me what I like about him, and my answer had more to do with intangibles like what I feel like when he's around, or what his presence feels like (basically, like I am being pulled towards him, conscious decisions be damned). Lulu has already encouraged me to not dwell so much over the differences and to enjoy the actual situation (you mean, not over-analyze and make myself miserable wondering when it's going to end? I'm not sure I follow...) and I'm trying to. I'm delighting in staying up late and receiving the bestest, most polite and well-worded text messages apologizing for being kept up late. And most of all I'm delighting in the thrill of the new. Not just a new crush, but a new crush on a new kind of person. I'm not going to posit the inevitable, "can it work?", because of course it *can* work, not necessarily between me and X, but between people like us, somewhere else. Heck, anything is possible. The question is, will it, and more interestingly, how will it?

*Navel-gazing starts here, proceed with caution
**New word courtesy of Lulu

Monday, August 21, 2006

Confessions of a Former Indie Rock Snob

There was a time, back in the day, that if more than say, 100 people* had heard of a band, I wouldn't like them. My CD collection consisted exclusively of albums from labels like Touch & Go and Matador. If Steve Albini had anything to do with it, I owned it. If the album consisted mainly of fuzzy distorted guitar music and vaguely unpleasant noise, chances are I adored it. But this morning, strutting into work very late because kickball crush kept me up waaaaaaay into the night**, L.O.V.E by Ashlee Simpson blaring into my ears, I realize that the paradigm has definitely shifted, dare I say, been blasted wide open. I used to take pride in my mastery of semi-obscure indie rock bands, figuring that the popularity of an album was inversely related to the IQ of the listener. Only shallow, "average" people listened to mainstream music. Hooray for intellectual/artistic snobbery.

These days, although my Ipod still features songs by indie groups like the Wrens, Broken Social Scene and Ted Leo, it is slowly balancing out with music that, back in the day, I would have been mortified to admit I like. But these days, I see nothing wrong with rolling home from the gym rocking out to Xtina Aguilera or strolling up to Cleveland Park to buy groceries while listening to a little Ciara. Yes, I will always count Sonic Youth and Slint to be some of the most groundbreaking groups of their day, but somedays what I girl really needs is a good dose of booty shaking, bubble-gummy, girl powered pop to get her through her chores. I attribute this to many forces, the most significant one being the fact that I am no longer a student at a snotty liberal arts college located in the middle of nowhere populated by disaffected pomo kids from Manhattan. The social contexts that influence my life and my tastes are broader and more fluid. My friends are more diverse. And more importantly, many of them even love pop music. And through them I have come to as well.***

My name is Hey Pretty, and I like (some) pop music.

*Clearly an exaggeration.
***It could also be due to my current addiction to Laguna Beach, where I seem to come in contact with a lot of new tunes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Good Libations

I need a new drink. My relationship with my boyfriend Jack is becoming strained. As I grow older, I need a drink that's a little softer and more forgiving. However, I don't like sweet flavors and I get sick of beer after just one. So, it's poll time. What dear readers, should be my new drink of choice?

The criteria is as follows:

1.) Not sweet
2.) Served in dives and upscale joints (ie not wine, which you DO NOT want to touch in most dives)
3.) Not too strong
4.) Won't cause me to get hammered if I drink more than 2.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dearest Darlingest Container Store,

I am not an organized girl. This is evidenced by the piles of junk a store on my desk at home, that leafing through you could be apt to find anything from demagnetized metro tickets, boarding pass stubs from a year ago, receipts from the 7-11 to unpaid credit card bills and grocery lists from food obsessions past (nothing but soy products and organic veggies? Right, that must have been from my "return to veganism" week). But something happened between us yesterday that we cannot deny. Oh, Container Store! You looked so fetching with your bright overheads and your shiny new organizational items, beckoning to me in their jaunty party clothes. Orange coat hangers for 29 cents a piece? I'll take 10. A hanging shelf for my closet to store my sweaters in, which would otherwise be crumpled on a chair somewhere? SOLD! Oh my, laundry hampers, how does a girl choose?

Container Store, this was not our first meeting. We've run into one another before, yet I have shyly backed away, figuring that I, a girl who doesn't even bother to renew her drivers license when her wallet is stolen, could never be good enough for the likes of you. You, darling, with your rows upon rows of vessels dedicated to meticulously cataloging the minutia that I normally let fall on the floor and roll under something when it falls out of my pockets when I undress at night. I simply figured that I was not worthy.

But there's something there between us now Container Store, a certain frission, would you not agree? Oh how I pray that this is not a passing fancy. I am falling for you and your almost grotesque dedication to obsessive compulsive conspicuous consumption and your pathological preoccupation with clean, shiny, gorgeous surfaces. I honestly don't know how I will be able to keep up. Will I succumb to a life of hyper organization, at last understanding what purposes your offerings exist to serve? Or will ours be a short-lived fling before I ditch you for my usual life of chaos and random piles? We will simply need faith, my darling.

Yours, at least for now, HP

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Fun With Group House Applicants

In wading through potential roommate emails, I am noticing an intruiging new trend among international applicants. I have received many emails from women in the UK who seem to think that they can secure a room in a house in the states by sending emails in broken English yammering on about travel agents and Western Union money transfers. Um, okaaaaaaay. These messages are nearly impossible to follow and slightly creepy. They remind me of those emails that get caught in my junk mail folder from random people in Ghana asking me to send them money so they can assure political asylum. It's all rather entertaining if not slightly perplexing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Open House Process Redux

I've received a bit of flack in the past 24 hours regarding the last entry. One commenter here called me an asshole and another elsewhere noted that I am self absorbed and whatever else. The group house screening process has received a lot of attention recently thanks to an article in the Washington Post. People regard it as being unnecessarily competitive and accuse those who run it of playing God. I used to agree with this statement, but having been on the other end several times now, I have alternative view of the process.

When you have a room available in a group house, especially one in a prime DC neighborhood (by prime I mean safe, near a metro and close to fun stuff to do, not prime in terms of prestige) you will probably receive at least 100 emails from people inquiring about the space. Despite having very clearly described the house, the rent, the move in date, the open house date, and whatever other essential info pertains to the situation, half of these emails will ask you for the very information you have already provided. Having spent most of yesterday slogging through such emails and corresponding with these people, I can tell you that it gets old. Fast. To solve this problem, I have crafted a well-written highly informative message with every single piece of information about the house that anyone would want to know. I cut and paste it into the reply and tailor accordingly. That's what people have been receiving as a response. Except for the kid who has the same last name as me. He received an extremely dorky "hey that's my last name too" message followed my a lame story about something I was said to somebody in college. He took it in stride.

Many houses establish firm guidelines for applying to the house because so many people inquire and so many people demand special arrangements. It's not that group house people are inflexible, it's that we can't make exceptions for people because everyone asks for exceptions and before long, we're working to accommodate 50 different schedules and sets of needs. I know it sucks but it's just the way it has to be.

I've heard people complain that attending an open house is like attending sorority rush. I refused to attend a college that even had a Greek system so I wouldn't know, but I do remember feeling like I was trapped in a popularity contest. Unfortunately, the Open House system is the most efficient way of showing the room and screening people. It's hideous, but a necessary evil. So grind in your heals, turn on your best fake smile and understand that they only way to beat that system is to be as nice and flexible as humanly possible.

A word about screening people. I think this is also something that gets to people. Have you ever lived with somebody you don't like? Yeah, it sucks. 'Nuff said.

Another aspect of the open house system that people hate are applications. Many houses will ask potential roommates to fill out information about themselves like where they're from and what they like to do. People say that you can't tell that much about a person based on their hobbies and their musical tastes. I tend to agree with this actually. I know tons of people who are complete asses who share my taste in literature and music. I put little stock in these forms, and merely use them as a means of keeping track of people. I usually take notes on them such as "cute boy from California" or "kick ass girl who bakes bread."

My point in all of this is that the system clearly sucks but nobody has yet found a way to make it any less painful for anyone involved. Those who attend open houses in search of a room feel like they're competing in a futile popularity contest run by self absorbed power trippers, and those who are running the open houses feel like they're being forced to cater to capricious, needy strangers in search of favors. You can see where the ire comes from on both sides. Regardless, I will be thankful for Saturday when all this is out of the way.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Why, As a Person Who Likes NPR and Indie Rock Who is Applying to Live in My Group House You are Not Unique

Some of you who are reading this blog entry may have applied to live in my group house recently. If you did, you no doubt wrote me an email telling me a bit about yourself and asking for more information about the house. The email probably went something like this:

Hi, I'm writing to learn more about the room available in your house, it sounds like I'd be a good fit. I am 26 years old, and I just moved to DC 2 months ago to do [insert subject matter here] policy for [bland generic congress person]. I consider myself laid back, considerate, and clean. I am politically left-leaning, like camping, indie rock and NPR. I'm looking for a house that is social, but not overly so. I'd love to hear more about the room. Thanks,

Random Craig's Lister

Please don't take enormous offense to this, but I know that you think that telling me you like camping, indie rock and NPR you'd sound unique. But guess what? You just described half the 20-somethings who live here. If you want to live with us, we're gonna need you to try harder.

If you had written something like this, I would have adored you from the start.

Hi, saw your ad on Craig's List for the roommate. About me:

-I'm a bit of a bitch but most people find it entertaining
-I don't mind if you borrow my clothes but I may occasionally eat your food. Hope that's not a problem
-I'm trying to start a Klezmer band. Okay if we rehearse in the basement?
-I often don't bathe so there will be little conflict when scheduling shower time.

You see the difference between the letter you wrote and the letter I wrote? Mine acknowleged personality defects (lets face it, we all have them), demonstrated self awareness, displayed a certain amount of generosity, suggested a unique talent or interest, and indicated that you moving in will not inconvenience me in any way, which is key because the person whose room you're taking is basically the easiest person to live with ever (except that he's not, but whatever. Those of you in the know will get that). The point is, if you had written an email more like mine, you would have stood out among the hordes of people who have emailed me today alone. But you did not and that is why you are still homeless.

In other news, I finally kissed my kickball crush! I haven't kissed a new person in months so it was terribly exciting to do so. But now I have to wait a week to see him. :(

Friday, August 11, 2006

God 2, HP 0

Cramps. Remember that thing about God smiting me?

I have taken to my cubicle to eat chocolate and sulk. So basically today is just like any other.

God 1, HP 0

Just in time for the weekend, my lower lip has erupted with a cold sore. Gross. Now before you snicker and point out that cold sores are herpes, let me say that yes, you are correct, cold sores are herpes. Simplex 1. Or HSV1 as those of us in the know like to call it. So take your judgment elsewhere, thank you. Did you know that between 50 to 80% of the US Population carries HSV1? Fun fact.

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't get these damn things. It's usually once a year or so. And here I was, smoking less, drinking less, eating really good food, doing yoga, sleeping, and drinking tons of water and my body's reward for all that? Totally unfair.

I believe this is God smiting me. He clearly does not want me to hookup or meet the man of my dreams this weekend. And I've been SOOO well behaved in that department for AGES now. I haven't done anything inappropriate with anyone in I can't even remember how long. I have been the picture of virtue and purity. Not that I haven't been tempted. I have, but I have resisted temptation. Isn't that a sign of adulthood right there--rejecting an immediately gratifying situation because it could lead to trouble later on down the road? I think it is. The HP of 12 months ago would have scoffed at such a level-headed, old fogeyish approach to life. But the wise HP of current day knows that sex with the wrong people only leads to tarnished reputations, awkward morning-after conversations, lectures from your settled-down friends, and an ever growing list of bars that one cannot comfortably frequent. See? This old dog may be a stubborn one, but she slowly catches on. Anyway.

Perhaps God does want me to meet the man of my dreams this weekend, and this cold sore is a test. Perhaps God is testing him (whoever he may be) to see if he's unshallow enough to overlook a temporary lip deformity.

Or maybe there's no greater power at work here (surely God has better things to do than to pull strings in my love life, what with all the chaos in the world these days) and it's simply crappy timing. Situations like this always serve to remind me that I'm agnostic anyway.

Since taking charge is generally the best way to feel better about a bad situation, that is what I am doing. And for those of you who share my affliction, I am including below my folk remedy for curing cold sores:

1.) 1000 mg of Lysine, 3 times a day
2.) Liberal applications of Abreva whenever possible. At 17 dollars for .07 ounces, Abreva might as well be liquid gold. But it works a trillion times better than any other OTC remedy I have tried. Speeds recovery time by a lot. Don't ask me exactly how much, but quite a bit.
3.) Lots of eye makeup (I chose sparkly blue Nars eye liner) and a sexy outfit (tonight's H&M plunging neckline + Franco Sarto peeped toes 3+ inch heels extravaganza) to distract eyes away from mouth.

And avoid kissing anyone for a few days. Tall order, I know. Hmmph!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I complain a lot. Obvi. Mostly about how petty and stupid humans are to one another. But the nicest thing happened while I was gone, that totally deserves public notice even though the person it regards doesn't know about HP.

One of my coworkers took it upon myself to water my two spider plants while I was gone. I hadn't asked him to, and as a bad plant mother, it really hadn't occurred to me that they would need care. He didn't even tell me he had done it, somebody else tipped me off. But he did it and I must say that they look wonderful.

See? Sometimes the world isn't so bad. Mostly you just need a deviation in your routine to help you see things a bit more clearly.

Home Again, Home Again

I'm back, did you miss me? What, you barely noticed I was gone? Okay, fair enough. Well, I did go somewhere. Namely, back to New England to visit the madre for her birthday. Highlights of the trip included:

-Drinks in H's garden who when we first got to her house, was on her hands and knees in the back yard fashioning a table cloth from an old piece of fabric.

-Tasty grilled squid and an even tastier chef at a neighborhood hot spot in East Cambridge.

-Visiting the farm we lived on in Westminster West, Vermont when I was first born. Yes, that's right. Hey Pretty lived on a farm as a baby. We got to see the sheep feed.

-Mountains, lots of 'em.

-Discovering a new appreciation for glassblowers, who by our estimation, are even more badass than carpenters, or as my mom said "what, the power tools that carpenters use aren't dangerous enough, they need careers where they handle molten glass all day?" Regardless, if I go missing it's because I've run off to Vermont to shack up with a professional glassblower. You've all been warned.

-Perfect weather. 75 degrees and sunny. Low humidity.

-Not smoking for 4 days. How did I pull this feat off, you wonder?

Well, my last trip home sans nicotine was a nightmare, so in preparation for this one I started weaning myself off a week in advance. I didn't quit altogether but for 7 days I limited myself to between 0 and 4 a day to slowly accustom my body to several days without cancer sticks. Suffice to say, I was an emotional wreck all last week. Before my flight I purchased a bottle of St. John's Wort and an emergency box of nicotine lozenges. If any of you kids out there are contemplating taking up smoking, I have two words to deter you from that endeavor. Nicotine Lozenges. The possibility that you may some day have to use them to wean yourself off cigarettes should be reason enough to never take it up in the first place. Those things are foul. So much so that I only resorted to using them once, and it stayed in my mouth for all of ten seconds. The St. John's Wort, however, was a life saver. I figured that since people use Welbutrin, a common anti-depressant, when quitting smoking, St. John's Wort could work as a viable (albeit weaker) alternative. I popped six pills a day and experienced a fraction of the mood swings of the week before, and generally felt saner than I have in weeks, although that's not saying much. I think St. John's Wort will just become a regular part of my daily routine from now on. Since returning, I have smoked two cigarettes. Not because I craved them that much, but because I missed the ritual. But having experienced such a major part of the withdrawal process, I am seriously considering dramatically curbing/quitting the habit altogether. I love smoking, but I don't love the idea of breathing through a hole in my throat when I am 80. I can't say that I am 100% certain about this, so if you see my smoking this weekend, please don't remind me that I'm quitting. I expect this process to be a gradual one.

What has also helped are the three yoga classes I have attended in the past week. I used to go at least once a week but stopped after the great ankle injury of 2005. Now I remember why people go. Because not only does it give you killer legs, but it makes you less crazy and teaches you how to take a deep breath when faced with an emotionally taxing situation. I think the deep breath is supposed to center you, but it also prevents you from immediately saying the first thing that comes to mind when somebody is being a jerk, or even worse, from punching them in the mouth. In short, yoga is good. Everyone should go.

The final high point of the trip was missing my flight. Have you ever been to the parking garage at Logan International? Well, it sucks. I got to the ticket counter 30 minutes before my flight was due to leave and Patrick, the nice man behind the counter said I couldn't check my bag because it was too late and because I like to over pack, it was too large to go through the X-Ray machine and count as carry on. He didn't offer much of a solution so I batted my eyelashes, and proposed in the most sincere and level-headed tone possible for somebody on the verge of an anxiety attack that he find a later flight for me and my suitcase to travel on. He immediately took me up on the offer. My original flight had me laying over in New York because it was the only way I could book a ticket from Boston to DC that cost less than 500 dollars. Not ideal, but I had accepted it and bought an extra magazine for the layover. Well, my new friend Patrick thought this was absurd so rather than subjecting me to another layover, he put me on a direct one to DC. See? sometimes it pays to be late, or as my mom said, "It always pays to be a pretty girl who can sweet talk an airline worker into bending the rules." Either way, things worked out pretty well.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Coping...For Real (kind of)

Just when I think that I officially hate my job I leave my cube to find my two closest male co-workers testing out the scents in our new set of Mr. Sketch markers and fighting over which ones are the best. The three of us had a grand old time sniffing markers and dividing the pack up among ourselves. I took the pink one.

Coping (or not)

So an issue came up on my mid-year performance review about my need to learn how to deal with "difficult personalities." By that, I think my boss meant our communications manager and my editor. CM has a habit of belittling other people's problems to make them sound less significant than they are, and of not understanding what you mean whenever you tell her something. Here's an example.

Hey Pretty: I'm feeling a bit stressed in completing my deliverables on account that everyone wants me to meet their deadline first.
CM: (with a far away look in her eye) I'm not sure what you mean...
HP: Well, I have three major projects all due at once and there isn't enough time in a day to complete them all.
CM: Well, what about the CD ROM project?
HP: The CD ROM? Well, that doesn't need to be complete until January, even February at the latest. Last year it had to be finished in December and we didn't start until October. And, since I was new to the project last year, this year's will be a total breeze as I know what I'm doing.
CM: But last year the production was too rushed.
HP: Okay, well, we can certainly start earlier. How does September sound? Besides, isn't it supposed to be based on information that the research and policy groups have compiled yet?
CM: (with a far away look in her eye) Noooooo...I don't think so.
HP: But says here on the work plan that J compiled, "based on x." We don't know x yet.
CM: That's okay, you can get started on that anyway.
HP: (giving up) Sure, I'll do that. Now getting back to those three major deadlines, what I meant was, I think I need to push one of those back, if that's okay.
CM: I'm concerned about your stress level.
HP: Right, so am I.
CM: Thing is, we all have a lot on our plates, it's simply going to be a difficult time for everyone.
HP: Thanks, I guess you're right. Excuse me, I should be getting back to my work.

or, even better

CM: Let's talk about last week when you didn't write that page for the website on time.
HP: Okay, well I was writing an article for a magazine that week, on top of doing interviews for something else, and you didn't assign a deadline to the website piece, so it fell in priority.
CM: (with a far away look in her eye) I don't understand...

Editor comes with her own bag of issues. Namely, that her project is always the most important. Secondly, that she has a rigid goal in mind for what an article should be and when the issue can't bend to conform to that image, she expects her writers to conform it to that. Ethical journalism? As if.

Editor: But the article we pitched to the client will be about the challenges that somebody overcame when learning to use z, and your article doesn't present any challenges.
HP: Yes, I see that. Unfortunately for us, there really isn't a challenge in using z. It's a pretty straightforward material.
E: But we need a challenge.
HP: I understand that, but there isn't one. I don't know why the client wanted us to write about this, they should know better than anyone that there isn't a challenge.
E: But it's what they expect...

Sigh. Not to say that I'm perfect. I'm sure that any HR person worth their salt could pick apart my sides of the exchange and find fault in my approach. My point however, is that difficult exchanges like this totally stress me out. My gut reaction is to be grumpy and snotty and sometimes I am. I let my emotions react before my highly evolved sense of reasonm which clearly has a bad case of narcolepsy. Sometimes reason manages to awake from its daydream in time to jab my emotions in the ribs, but what that looks like to the outside observer Is me sitting quietly in my chair futily trying to piece together a string of words that sound like a diplomatic sentence and failing miserably. Fact is, I cannot deal with difficult personalities and have zero idea how some people manage to be cheerful and even helpful to people who actually deserve a punch in the mouth. How do they do it?

I always end up feeling incredibly resentful of the difficult people. They get their way and nobody ever criticisizes them for their communication style and nobody ever tells them that they need to improve their ability to interact with people with short emotional leashes. Perhaps it's time for me to start taking yoga again. Maybe an overall zen state of mind is what I lack.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another Armchair Critic With Some Suggestions for Metro

Dear Metro,

I know that DC bloggers have made a regular habit of documenting your inadequacies, further pushing them into the public discourse of what is wrong with this city. I also know that running a public transit system can't possibly be easy, especially one that spans two states plus the District. For the most part, I think you do a pretty good job. My time in cities such as San Francisco, Boston, New York and Paris have exposed me to systems much older than yours. Systems where the cars stop in the tunnels for 20 minutes with no good explanation of what the hold up is, systems with utterly incomprehensible transferring systems, systems that smell like ass, and systems that simply look like they're about to break down at any moment. All in all, I think you're a pretty upstanding public transit system. You don't smell that bad; your cars are air conditioned and clean; when you stop in the tunnels for periods of length, you at least let us passengers know what's up.

But something has been bothering me this week, Metro, and I thought that since you may not be aware of it, your good friend Hey Pretty should point it out. I have heard that because the city is trying to conserve electricity, you are running your trains slower on above-ground portions of your routes. This is great. I happen to work in energy efficiency issues, and I commend your contribution. Unfortunately, this also seems to mean that trains aren't running as often. For us commuters that's a problem. What's even more problematic that the city is encouraging people to spare the ozone layer more pollution on code red days such as this by taking the public transportation. Wait, let's pause for a minute to take stock of all this.

1.) Slower trains
2.) Trains running less often
3.) More people on trains

See where I'm going with this? I think you do. There is not nearly enough train to meet the demand of everyone who wants to use it. This morning, I stood in the Woodley Park metro station for 20 minutes waiting for a train to come that had room for my 5'2" body plus purse and yoga mat to squeeze into. I'm not a big girl, Metro. 20 minutes! Have I told you how utterly anal the head of our company is about punctuality? Do I need to start waking up 20 minutes earlier to take your overcrowding into consideration?

I'm not suggesting that there's an easy to solution to this. If there were, I have faith in the fact that you would have already enacted it. Maybe one possible compromise would be to add more cars to your trains. Can we try that? This morning I noticed that many of the cars were shorter than normal. Maybe there's a more technical necessity for this, but to the average commuter standing on the platform, it was quite a slap in the face.

So, to recap. I think you're great--in most circumstances. But your hot weather operations policy needs some *ahem* fine tuning. Thanks for hearing me out.

Your Friend,


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

5 Inches

Is approximately the length of hair that I had lopped off on Friday afternoon. And just in time for the oppressively hot heat. I can't decide if its better or worse than it was before, simply quite different. It's curling amazingly well and someday when it's less humid I will reintroduce it to the flat iron. I could do without the shorter layers, but c'est la vie. They'll grow out in no time.

Lopping off a substantial quantity of hair can be a liberating experience. There's something to be said for shedding all that old history and bad karma. You feel lighter, both physically and emotionally. And reducing your shampoo consumption by half isn't bad for the wallet either.

On Second Thought...

Well folks, it's almost 4:30 and I am officially feeling like a normal human being again. In emerging from my weekend coma saturated with too much alcohol, too much hot weather and too many difficult conversations (okay, just one, but one is always too much), I ask you: Is it better to have a relationship with somebody where

1.) Both parties politely hold back their feelings, yet share intimate life details and generally torment one another with the weight of unsaid thoughts constantly dangling over one another's heads


2.) Both parties divulge all sorts of otherwise unsaid things--many of them good but many ugly as well?

Kindness vs. Honesty. Discuss.

Heat Wave! (burning in my heart...)

I don't know about you, but there is something about days with heat indexes of 110 that make HP more than a bit grumpy. I was NOT cut out for this sort of heat. It makes me sluggish and slightly dizzy, which makes concentrating on my overdue article quite the difficult feat. Plus there is the fact of feeling utterly bereftly confused over a conversation with a certain friend a couple days ago, which is also distracting me. A word of advice: do not have a fight/airing of grievances with anyone right before they are due to go on vacation for several weeks. And boys, do not make grand declarations regarding your feelings for others when everyone's hands are tied from ever doing anything about the situation. Okay, back to work.