hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why 30 Year Olds Should Not Frequent College Bars

I was excited to receive an invitation from Val to attend a happy hour at McFadden's last Saturday. I've recently been drawn into her excellent circle of wonderful friends, and was delighted at the prospect of spending time with a few of these fab men and women. I had been to McFadden's before for various kickball events, but never on a weekend. I knew its rep as a college bar, due to its proximity to GW and Georgetown, but had yet to experience the establishment in its full raucous glory.

Those who know me are familiar with my ability to get down. Despite 10 years of ballet & jazz training I'm not much of a dancer. But I do know how to drink, and always relish the opportunity to let off some steam by kicking back a few adult beverages on a weekend. Problem is, I can't drink as much as I used to. Over the past several years my tolerance has taken a nose-dive, and now several beverages leave me feeling sluggish and looking tired and worn out. But that never seems to keep me from trying. Normally, I limit such activity to dives and the occasional upscale hotel bar. Atmospheres that are relatively chill, where you can hold a conversation with the person standing next to you without have to talk directly into their ear. Places where there is room to stand and a bouncer isn't constantly chasing you away from the only patch of open space. And most notably, places where people do not dance on the bar and offer their fellow patrons the opportunity to vote on their hotness.

This my friends, was a truly terrifying spectacle. At some point into the night, a dozen or so young ladies climbed up on to the bar and starting shaking their stuff for the crowd. Ho, hum, I thought. Nothing special here. But then came the judging process where the crowd seemed to be voting on which of the specimens before them was the "best" or "hottest" or whatever. To be honest, it was extremely loud in there, so it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. But young ladies were bumping and grinding with invisible partners for all to see, while drunk 20-something men ogled and cat-called.

Now, if that makes them happy, it's their business and not mine. But my maternal, sensible side was aghast and sadden by what it saw. Where's the line between liberated self-acceptance/pride over one's body and shameless exploitation? The topic is debated every time a new pop tartlet climbs the charts or some aspect of stripper culture seeps into the mainstream. If men have long gotten off by seeing young ladies flaunt their nubile young bodies, does dancing on a bar for the honor of being the hottest lady in McFadden's conform to that sexist dynamic? Or are the women the ones in control? Are they calling the shots, inverting centuries-old paradigms of gender politics? These are not new questions, and sadly, the confluence of pop culture and the way people live their every day lives continues to obscure the answer. I do know that when I saw one woman in particular, she of an extremely hot little body, writhing on the bar with her tube top dangerously close to sliding off her body, I wanted to reach up and wrap my sweater around her.

Again, bumping and grinding on a bar is a personal choice, and I do not begrudge these women the opportunity to do whatever makes them happy. Just because it's not for me, doesn't mean it's wrong or bad. But it certainly raises quite a few questions. More so than one's typical Saturday night activities, that's for sure.

So anyway. Between the hot lady contest, the 20 minute long wait for drinks (which included watching the bartenders pound Miller Lights), the pounding sound system, and being stepped on repeatedly, it was time to call it a night. I found an ATM in the lobby of a chic hotel nearby, hailed a cab, and found my way home. In short, I was happy to have spent time with the crew, but I don't know how much longer I can go on frequenting such establishments

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Extraordinarily Ordinary

Women obsess over movie stars because they're handsome and represent a fantasy (ex: my previous "desert island post") but there is also something so awesome about regular, ordinary guys. I know I complain about them a lot. But in general, I must say that I am a great fan of guys. An admirer, an appreciator. I don't make these claims based on their physiques, although in certain cases, those can be rather nice.

No, what I love about guys is this: Despite the fact that they often seem so foreign and "other" with their bizarre non-female thought processes, and proclivity towards detachment, sometimes they'll admit to thinking the dorkiest things ever. Probably not the same dorky things that you think about, but close enough on the dorky-to-cool spectrum for you to relate.

There's just something comforting about that. So many single women spend a good amount of time and energy scheming up ways to impress men. Makeup, clothing, lingerie, shoes, sports trivia. Whatever. As if men were some alien species that need to be carefully hunted.* Yeah, they're different of course, but in some essential ways, not so much. I think that a lot of single women would be happier in their theoretical and real-life interactions with men if they would allow themselves to appreciate the ways in which the sexes are the same.

Case in point: The lede in this article in the lad mag Esquire: When I was six, I was morbidly obsessed with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. With its help I could shoot baskets with Larry Bird, and all I had to do in return was die. So I hoped for the worst.

I absolutely love this lede. The article that follows I don't care an iota about, but this lede is genius. In literary terms, it makes for an attention-grabbing beginning, and it gives you insights into the author's quirks. In female-to-male translation terms it's utterly reassuring. It says, "look, guys have the same strange thought patterns that you do. They too, spent their childhoods fixated on odd, even morbid fantasies that occasionally resurface as amusing anecdotes in their adult lives."

In my opinion, dorky thoughts are the great equalizer. And for some reason, they're all the more awesome when articulated by a guy. I for one, always feel as if I'm making leeway with somebody when we feel comfortable enough with one another to admit somewhat lame or goofy things to one another. We try so hard to appear as we perceive they want us to be. But sometimes it's awesome when our guards drop and we can simply let loose. I think it's what our moms always referred to as "being yourself," and you know what? There were right.

Maybe it's just a quirk of mine, but it makes navigating experiences like the dating world so much easier to endure.

We're really not all that different. Just movin' around, bumpin' into one another, occasionally making a connection.

*All that scheming is also rather hilarious when you consider how oblivious most guys are 99% of the time.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

What do John Stewart, Robert Downey Jr, Calvin Trillin, Alice Waters and the Guy From This Old House All Have in Common?

Yesterday when I was short on blogging inspiration and asked you all for a topic to write about, Hipster Dork suggested that I compile and share for you my "Desert Island Top 5." According to HD, the following considerations are important for creating such a list: sources of good conversation, sources of food (and/or in my mind, ability to procure food), and sex. I know that some people leave such lists open to figures from any historical period. But that just leaves too many possibilities. So for my list, I am confining my selections to living, breathing humans (much better for conversation and sex, one must note). So, without further ado...

1.) John Stewart. Handsome, witty, liberal and charming, Mr. Stewart would make a fantastic desert island companion. John and I would trade witticisms, smack-talk corrupt political machines, and get busy when we ran out of things to talk about.

Next, I am tempted to list Ellen Degeneris. Also witty and charming, I would appreciate Ms. Degeneris's ability to bring levity to the dire situation of being stranded miles away from civilization. I've always imaged that we'd get along well in real life, with our mutual dorkiness and off-beat senses of humor. However, I don't think I'd want more than one comedian. And Ellen's self-deprecation might begin to grate a bit after a while. So sadly, she's not invited.

The more I think about this, the more it dawns on me that my knee-jerk response is to include mostly actors and comedians. Probably because we have the most exposure to their public images thanks to our lovely media-saturated culture. Sure, I could also list some hottie actors (Robert Downey Jr, that guy from Lost who use to be on Party of Five, Ryan Gosling, Hugh Grant, etc) but that seems too easy. On second thought.

2.) Robert Downey Jr. Yes, I said I wasn't going to pick another "actor-type." I lied. I've had a crush on Mr. Downey Jr since forever ago. When we get bored with the sex (doubtful, but whatevs), he can forage the island for things for us to smoke up and get high from.

3.) Calvin Trillin. I've been a long time fan of his writing since high school when I first started picking through my mom's New Yorker's. Mr. Trillin's commentary on desert-island life would no doubt be enthralling and entertaining. As a story-teller he could also entertain us with some good yarns.

We're gonna get hungry at some point after all that sex, story telling and smoking of the exotic plants. My next pick is:

4.) Alice Waters. Waters made a name for herself in the 80s as the godmother of California haute cuisine with her ground breaking resteraunt, Chez Panise. She has a nack for exploiting the wonderful natural qualities of fresh, local produce and making inventive and yummy dishes from them. I'm sure she could work some magic on whatever plants RD Jr and I don't smoke.

Hmm. Only one more. It would be wonderful to include an artist. Somebody who could make inspiring art out sand and rocks and whatever. I'd love to spend some time with Sally Mann or Sam Taylor Wood. But practicallity is important too so we must include somebody handy enough to build us some strong desert island homes, and possibly even a vessel for transporting ourselves off the island. So...

5.) The guy from This Old House on PBS. I watched this show as a kid but I can't remember who he is or what he looks like. But in terms of crafting us some very sturdy dwellings, I have no doubt he'd perform quite nicely.

And there you have it. I'm tempted to include some musicians there, but I'm not sure what use they'd have sans instruments and I already have two concubines so I don't need another sex slave. Odd, I know.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ask Me Nicely and I'll Tell You a Story About Most Anything

Low on inspiration here today kids. Nothing remarkable to report in terms of work, dating, not writing my novel or flirtations with border-line alcoholism. I suppose a couple of things went down this weekend, but nothing I care to share. I wouldn't want to ruin the pristine image I've cultivated for myself in the last three years I've been at this, after all. So rather than talking at you on a subject you care nothing about, I will use this as an opportunity for ya'll to suggest a topic. What would you like to hear?


Friday, February 16, 2007

Not Punk Rock Enough For This?

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

There was a time in my life, before most of you knew me, when I solidly identified with certain counter-cultural, anti-establishment communities. I loathed "The Man", couldn't ever fathom having an office job, looked down on those poor saps confined to a cubicle all day, dyed my hair alarming colors, and listened to dissonant music. Then I graduated from college and realized that reality looks a lot different when you're faced with the challenge of applying your considerable intellect and skills to earning enough money to pay rent. I also realized that I look a lot better with brown hair.

As much as I appreciate the punk ethos and even admire people who have managed to create happy productive lives fighting the establishment, that lifestyle just isn't for me. But I doff my hat to those who live it, and continue to believe that societal change depends on the presence of certain radical forces that exist to create dialectical tensions.
All of this is leads in to reporting on my date with punk-rock banjo guy. It was pretty much your typical first date. Lots of getting to know you chit-chat, some awkward silences, some flirting. What was atypical was the diatribe I listened to about the origins of punk philosophy. I felt like I was receiving a lecture, an unnecessary one at that, because having read Lipstick Traces when I was 21, I am already down with the history of the French Situationists. But whatever, it's obscure cultural history, so I'll give him a pass on that one because one rarely goes into a situation assuming your date has a handle on that stuff.

Atypical as well was how mainstream this guy made me feel. Normally men in DC make me feel like an alterna-chick freak. I've never claimed to be a preppy. My family's background is mixed, my own parents are somewhat anachronistic in many ways, I've experienced a diversity of lifestyles and have traveled through many of my own puzzling incarnations. This guy seemed a little confused that my parents could be liberals who raised their child in a small rural New England town while maintaining a semi-affluent lifestyle. He wanted to assign them a "back to nature" hippy identity, which I couldn't let him do. As much as the punks I've known in my day have tried to avoid being identified by mainstream notions of "normalness", he seemed just as apt to filter the information that I provided him with through his own biased set of assumptions.
So it ironic that a date with Mr.-Punk-Rock-counter-culture sparked a debate about identity-politics, or is it simply par for the course? I can't decide. Nor can I decide how hot I am to recreate the experience. When the date was good, it was good. But I don't like it when people try to label me as a certain "type" of person. I guess we're all guilty of it, and I strive to remember daily that everyone, including Mr. Punk-Rock-counter-culture can't be neatly assigned to pre-assigned cultural identities, no matter how many niche-specific signifiers they decorate their bodies with.

I know labels are comforting. Calling somebody "indie rock" for example, gives you some clue about their personality, but not the whole picture, as I explained to Mr. Punk Rock when trying to explain to him why I don't think I care for online dating. But it's such a convenient and ultimately empty way of experiencing your fellow man. That was the final great lesson I learned in my 20's, and of course it came about after dating two guys back-to-back who I had little in common with.

Mr. Punk Rock expressed concern that I am too young for him, which again was weird because most of the guys I date tend to be younger. Truth be told, I've been looking for an older man for some time. Now I'm not certain if age has anything to do with anything.
The date ended with me explaining that it was late and that I should go, while he opted to order another beer for himself. After a brief drunk driving lecture, I have him a kiss on the cheek and he pulled me in for a hug. It was good as far as hugs go. More intimate than the ones I've experienced with TT.

The verdict: I'm not sure I care for his personality, and although he isn't all that good-looking, there's something about him that's attractive. He appeals to my inner-rebel in a way that I can't yet identify. Or maybe it was just nice to have a man flirt with me and buy me Anchor Steams.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Special "Working From Home" Edition

I was awaken at 4:00 am this morning by the sound of hail droplets pinging off the back of my window-unit air conditioner. Are you familiar with that special noise? To the unindoctrinated, it sounds like the coming of the apocalypse. Not fun, and not conducive to proper shut-eye. After lying in bed for a good hour, I tuned in to the local news forecasts. Snow, ice, blah, blah, try not to go out if you can avoid it. An hour later, I was still fully awake, but luckily it was time to check my work voicemail to learn the status of our office openings and closings.

We don't follow the Federal Government, we follow the Montgomery County Government, which seems far less hip to the idea of letting its workers avoid weather-related treacheries.

The verdict: Liberal leave. In our world, that translates to "hope you have a computer at home, because if so, you'll have the luxury of working from your dining room, unlimited supply of tea and scrambled eggs and Russian bread just five feet away."

Normally people equate working from home with slacking, but the irony of the situation is that today has been mad busy. Everyone on my team is all into calling conference calls from home, updating on deliverables, blah blah.

So after a nice nap from 6:30 to 10:00, here I am, in a flannel shirt and yoga pants, doing my best to be a good little worker bee.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Someone to Come Home To

I know many people who consider living alone in their own apartment one of the ultimate perks of adulthood. I don't disagree that solo habitation has its definite perks--nobody's shit to deal with but your own, the luxury of using the shower whenever you want, no interlopers disturbing your daily and evening rhythms. Indeed, I am well acquainted with these delights having lived in a cramped, albeit elegant-for-a-bachelorette pad several years ago. It was in Adams Morgan, right before Adams Morgan became the neighborhood of choice for GW frat boys to get into drunken brawls in at 2 in the morning. When Adams Morgan still had a bit of hipster cred to its name.

My apartment was 575 square feet. It consisted of a long narrow kitchen, a main room, a walk-in closet and a small bath. It had high ceilings and hardwood floors. As a pack rat, it was crammed with possessions I had amassed since childhood. When clean, which it seldom was, it was inviting and cozy. When messy, as was usually the case, it was a disorganized wreck of clothing, piles of books, scattered papers, dishes that had yet to be washed and put away.* But it was my space and I liked it well enough. Until I realized I couldn't really afford to live there, and living alone provided me with too much isolation from other people. The time came to save some money and be less of a hermit. I moved into a group house.

Group house living has its drawbacks, but one of my favorite aspects of it is coming home at night and talking about my day with my roommate, K. K and I have had our ups and downs over the past year-and-a-half we've lived together. Our relationship has embodied a number of forms--innocently flirtatious, mildly scandalous, tormented, tentatively platonic, sexually tense, angry, solidly platonic, sibling-like, and having run through all these phases, simply comfortable and good. I think it's because we've been so many things to one another, and that we've always managed to push through each phase with some healthy, if not always comfortable communication, that we've been able to arrive at this point. Walking through the front door at the end of the day and flopping down on the couch with him to watch TV is one of my favorite moments of my day.**

Last night I was in a mood. I felt restless, unsatisfied with life, bored with my job. My blood sugar was low and I was hungry. K asked me about my day and I went off on some diatribe about cubicles and time sheets and boys and managers and winter. It just flew out of my mouth in a jumbled cacophony of nonsense. He offered insights, some of which were helpful. I asked about his day. He bitched about his slacker students, his need for a break, imitating several of his kids in a hilarious falsetto.

We didn't talk about anything important, but the fact that we could was important in and of itself. I eventually made myself dinner and sat with him to eat it while he forced me to watch some god-awful 80's martial arts film. We traded sarcastic quips about the lack of plot, idiotic fight choreography, blatant symbolism, bad writing. And then he handed me the remote and left to wash dishes and grade papers. Our exchange last night didn't resolve any of my discontents, but having a like-minded spirit to empathize with for a bit definitely helped smooth down a little. Some single women have cats. I have K.

*One weekend, I went to New York with a girlfriend and returned to discover that my boyfriend at the time had cleaned the apartment top-to-bottom. One of the best presents I have ever received.

**It also helps that he's not bad to look at.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Let it Not Be Said That I Have a Strict Type

Since I began blogging about my personal life, I have told you dear readers about many poor men who have had the (mis)fortune of having to date me. Let's see, we've had the indie rock artist/ex-Starbucks barista; 180-guy; Republican bartender (how still sometimes reads HP--hi!); Sailor (conservative southern Naval officer for you newbies); Tater Tot (personality yet to be defined, subject of ridiculously pre-teen crush); co-worker (not discussed in much detail for obvious reasons); and probably a few others who I can't remember.

Well, I am now in an email flirtation with a slightly older, ex-punk banjo player with tattoos all over his arms.

If that doesn't fit the mold of not having a mold, I don't know what does.

I would also like to call out an annoying male tendency--why is it that the day I only half-heartedly shaved my legs and have a messy room is of course the day a cute one wants to "hang out"? It's never on the days when I am appropriately groomed and have a presentable location for a "nightcap." To quote Mean Girls, it's like a sick sense.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Everyone is Incompetent But Me

I'm having an interesting day at work here, kids. Most of our team is away at a meeting. Although I staffed said meeting last year, I was not asked to work on it this year. Just as well because I hate trade shows. The sorts of duties I performed last year are the kind I can do in my sleep because I did them so much at my very first job--meeting planning sorts of stuff; talking points; making sure VIPs are where they should be and doing what they should do; press releases; media lists; to-do lists; boxes of every random office supply you may need plus some safety pins, breath mints, a lighter and that emergency smoke (for anyone who needs it). It's common knowledge that I'm pretty much over that stuff. But apparently not so well known that I rock at it when forced to do it. My tyrannical bosses at my first job beat into me the fear of screwing up, and this fear has since evolved into a highly efficient way of running a show.

But the show isn't my problem this year, because I'm not there. But being here and not there, I have noticed some things that apparently didn't happen. I won't bore you with the details, but lets just say that I saved the day several times this morning between the hours of 9 am and 11 am. Amid all this, were my emails to the IT department checking in on a service that I requested two weeks ago. IT denied knowledge of such request, but I was able to back up my story with evidence: the original (well-written, friendly) email. Boo-ya! Take that. To which I received the most satisfying reply: "I stand corrected. We'll have it to you today." I know it's obnoxious, but nothing delights me more than the realization that I'm right. Especially when my skills and ability to take charge are overlooked.

Reading this entry is funny to me now that it's late afternoon and I have crashed from the morning's coffee high. Right now, with little left on my plate, I sit contemplating the mortality of Anna Nicole Smith.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

To Greener Pastures, Perhaps?

Lest you all start to think I'm nothing but a hopeless, boy-crazed head case, let me share with you the present I got in the mail today: A shiny new, pretty pamphlet from the University of Maryland School of Architecture. No, I do not want to be an architect. Too many numbers, ugh. But...I may just want to be a historic preservationist, community/urban planner and do you sweet children know what the UMD School of Architecture offers Masters specialties in? Uh, huh. You guess correctly.

Until recently, the idea of a Masters Degree sounded like a far-off possibility. Something I would pursue "later" when I felt more "together."

Well, these days I'm feeling pretty together. And even more so, pretty much over the whole working in a cubicle trying to find things to take initiative on while I wait for my boss to return edits to me on things a week late thing.

I already missed the deadline for Fall '07, but there's no reason why I can't start networking and reading up on the program and getting myself to apply for '08. So...no promises that this will amount to anything. I realize afterall, that just several months ago I was talking seriously about journalism school, but it is something I am thinking about more seriously than ever.

Any UMD School of Architecture students or alums out there? I'd love to hear what your thoughts on the program are.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Brevity is the soul of lingerie*

In honor of blogger poetry day, here are some some pithy words from my boy Ogden Nash:

Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.

I am so feeling that, good sir.

*Yes, a double-wammy. Can you guess which of my favorite 20th Century wits we can attribute that nugget of truth to? No cheating. Google searches are not allowed.


Dear readers, I need some help. I have received in the mail from my mother two bee-yoo-ti-ful leather skirts* she no longer wants. Unfortch, at 5'7" and generally a bit sturdier than I, the skirts are a couple of sizes too big. But they're way too nice to give away, which leads me to the following question: do any of you lovely, lovely, dear readers have experience with getting leather clothing tailored? The skirts in question will need to be taken in and hemmed. Do you think this will cost me a grand sum? I really don't want to part with them now that they're in my possession. They have the potential to transform my every-day blah jeans and tee shirt wearing self into a fashionable swan of enviable proportions.

*I just realized that in writing this, my mom could be mistaken for a skank. Let me qualify the description of the skirts by adding that they are of the classy, chic variety of leather skirt. One is from Banana and the other from BCBG.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late...after that I sorta space out for an hour.

I have nothing to do today. Unless of course, waiting for my scatter-brained editor to give me some line edits on my newsletter counts as doing something. Uh, who wants to entertain me?