hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Monday, April 30, 2007

Too Cool 4 School

This is the second take of this post. My first attempt was so vomitous I had no choice but to delete most of it and begin again from scratch. Here goes.

On Friday at the blogger happy hour, Arjewtino remarked to me that if I ever found myself in a settled relationship it would be his loss because the quality of my blog would suffer as a result. Not because I'd be so busy with all those long walks on the beach at sunset, hand-holding, and gazing deeply into the eyes of my love. No, because most of the punchiness and humor in my writing seems inspired by the men in my life. As hurt as I am that he is so quick to discount my posts on such subjects as limbo and trashy reality television, he does have a point. Hell hath no comedy like a woman with a blog scorned. Not to worry, I am as single today as I was the last time I checked in. Okay yes, some stuff went down on Saturday with a certain so-and-so but that's the kind of material best saved for "dear diary" and bragging to my closest friends. Mostly.

The situation with this particular so-and-so has been all kinds of ambiguous since it began. For a while I had even thrown in the towel because it no longer seemed worth the agony I was subjecting myself to. But having adopted a new and improved, I-no-longer-really-care-what-happens-with-this-individual stance recently, I dove back in. A better part of the weekend was spent splashing happily around in newer, clearer waters.

The feeling that I have nothing to lose often makes me a bit brazen. Brazen enough for instance, to ask my gentlemen friends questions like "Why did it take you six weeks to put a move on me when we first started hanging out?" I'm accustomed to a lot of rationales intended to explain puzzling male behavior. But this one threw me for a loop. His answer: Because I didn't think you were that into it.

ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Seriously?

This is ironic in so many ways. Particularly because I was so deeply "into it" that I have pretty much bored any and everyone who I have told stories about him to. My friends simply roll their eyes now when I mention him in conversation.

But it seems that in my attempts to not "scare him away" or whatever, I came off as too cool and aloof. How that could be the case when I kissed him at the end of our first date is beyond me. He said the kiss was confusing. Uh huh. Right.

There are many ways to react to this information. Part of me is amused at how two people can read a situation in such radically different lights. Another thinks he may be the type who is only turned on to somebody if they're a challenge. He only likes what he can't have, and convincing himself that he couldn't have me was his way of keeping himself interested. I don't know what that says about a person. In fact, it could be a little disturbing.

I'm completely unclear on what comes next. His track record for behaving in a normal, adult manner is shoddy at best. But having realized that he has zero personality beyond the sarcastic quips, I am no longer trying to make him my boyfriend. Sometimes you just have to recognize that a hot guy who occasionally makes you laugh is only good for one thing.

But back to the blogger HH. Given some of the drama that's been going down within the scene in recent months, I had developed a bit of an allergy to these things. But I mostly had a wonderful time. I met some nice people, drank soda, smoked a couple cigarettes. I would have stayed longer, but one of my roommates was having a going away thing to mark his return to London, and I wanted to see him off. That, and because a fellow blogger said something rather shitty to me and I didn't feel like being in the same space as said person and making a graceful exit seemed the best response to the situation. Next time, I promise to stay longer.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Limbo in Limbo

So the Catholic Church has decided to do away with the concept of limbo. Even as a non-believer, this decision intrigues me. From what I know, limbo has been a pretty significant belief among Catholics. How do you all feel about this?

From my perspective, the fact that a governing body can decide what people should and shouldn't believe is rather strange.

Think about it.

Your religion tells you to believe in something so you believe in it. But then they tell you that they changed their minds and that you shouldn't believe in it anymore. Does that strike any of you as odd? Because I think it's really bizarre. Please note that I am not, in any way knocking Catholics. I have no problem with Catholics doing there thing (rock on, more power to you). But it just strikes me as weird that people are now going to adjust their value systems based on the word of a higher body. I mean, it's not like they ran a scientific investigation and discovered that limbo didn't exist. Plenty of non-Catholics could have already told them that. Second, it's not like God spoke to somebody and was like "Hey, here's a tip: there is no limbo."

I also wonder if any Catholics are afraid that if the policy on limbo shifts, it could open a flood gate to other changes as well. Is anyone concerned that the bedrock of their faith is about to be rocked harder than a 10 point Richter scale earthquake? Because I think I would be worried about that. But maybe that's because I worry too much.

Back when I was dating Sailor, he told me he was upset that his Lutheran baby mama refused to have their child baptized Catholic. When I asked him why, he said he didn't want young Ryder to go to limbo if he ever died.

I can tell you that as a religious skeptic, that conversation was a huge test of my sensitivity skills. I suppressed the urge to guffaw at him. I mean, he was worried about something that I didn't even think existed. But it's poor manners to mock other people's religions, so I kept quiet. And I could have been the one whose wrong. It wouldn't have been the first time.

Ultimately, I suppose it's a matter of freedom of choice. In this day and age, I doubt that anyone adheres to every dictum of their religion. I'm sure there's a wide range of degrees of Catholicness. But I am curious: Now that limbo may not exist, will you continue to believe in it?


HP Joins Campaign to Revive Vintage Tagline

Date: April 25, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Hey Pretty

DC Blog Hey Pretty announced today that it is joining the ranks of a burgeoning internet-based movement to revive the classic phrase "Girl You Know It's True." First introduced in the late 1980's by noted pop duo Milli Vanilli, the saying fell into quiet obscurity after the duo's fall from grace after it was revealed that they lip synced the vocals on their Grammy-winning record of the same name.

Launched by fellow DC-blogger Musical Guru, the Girl You Know It's True movement seeks to bring back the forgotten confirmatory remark.

"'Girl, you know it's true' is a great affirmative statement for general use," said the Musical Guru. "Try it! You don't even have to be talking to a girl to make it work. Any person, any situation will do."

"We are thrilled to stand at the vanguard of this exciting grassroots effort to revive what is truly a priceless and versatile relic of the 80's popular lexicon," said an anonymous spokesperson from Hey Pretty. "If we can inspire the DC blogging community to embrace it, we are confident that the term will achieve the critical mass necessary for it to reach its tipping point. From there, anything is possible."

The Girl You Know It's True Movement is part of a world-wide trend to bring back obscure and antiquated linguistic concepts. Another notable effort includes the popular entertainer Justin Timberlake's campaign to "Bring Sexy Back."


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mi Harem Es Tu Harem

One of the more glorious aspects of having several roommates is getting to have like-minded souls to watch TV with. Bad TV in particular. Last night I came home from a spectacularly boring online date (note to the men of DC: when meeting a woman, kindly remove whatever is lodged up your butt before hanging out with her) to find two of my roomies watching Dancing With the Stars. This particular episode wasn't especially interesting. Steve Saunders looked pretty stiff, Billy Ray is too heavy on his feat, and my roommate K has a crush on Apollo Ohno's dancing partner.

What was much better was the delicious train wreck that followed: The Bachelor.

I have never quite been able to get into this show. The fact that it revolves around a man living in a mansion with a bunch of chicks who all want to date him sets off my feminist alarm bells to the point where they threaten to deafen me. I can't wrap my head around why anyone woman would volunteer for such a debacle. Unless it's merely for fame.

I start to feel a little nuts when I even *suspect* that the guy I have the hots for is into other women as well. I can't even imagine what it must be like to live in that kind of environment knowing that whatever he's doing with you, he's doing with a bunch of other people that you then have to make nice with. Human beings are simply not hardwired to survive and thrive within such environments. But such is the manufactured world of "reality television."

Also amusing is how often this guy invokes the word "connection." Last night I watched him tell many ladies how deep a "connection" he felt for them, completely without irony as if the fact that having a "connection" with so many people basically renders the term useless. Who doesn't this guy feel a "connection" with?

My absolute favorite aspect of the episode was the over-use of what is now my favorite term on earth: "special alone time." It sounds so perfect for a heart-shaped bed with satin sheets, sickly sweet champaign and Barry White fluttering through the hi-fi speakers. From now on, whenever I refer to getting it on, I will call it "special alone time." Ew. It sounds even better when an under-fed bottle blond whines about "not getting enough 'special alone time'" with the Bachelor.

And what about that chick with the sprained ankle? Way to milk that injury, girl. Hey, if appealing to his need to rescue and nurture is what it's gonna take to win, I completely applaud your strategic thinking skills. I loved how angry the other women seemed over the fact that she was using her injuring to gain sympathy. I almost expected them to roll into the next scene with an array of new injuries themselves.

Look! I broke my arm!

Hey! I have a concussion!

What about me? Check out my spinabifida.

There was also the de rigueur backstabbing and cattiness expected of women trapped in a house with nothing to do all day but be filmed waiting for a guy to pay attention to them. I can't remember exactly what happened. Rumors were spread, mind-games played. Whatevs.

In the end, the manipulative gossip-mongers were sent packing and the remaining women all look exactly alike to me.

As for the Bachelor himself, he's kind of a dullard. Cute, but not overwhelmingly so. Naval officer/doctor/aspiring astronaut. He's the quintessential "good on paper" guy. Too bad the workers at the plant where he was assembled forgot to implant his personality chip. Not that the ladies seem to mind. Quelle shock.

Spicing up the experience was the fact that I spent this whole time text messaging with a boy. Or two. My roommates even helped.

Me: How do you spell asphyxiation?
Them: What the hell are you doing?
Me: Text message flirting. Now how do you spell asphyxiation?

Did I mention I am a total text messaging stud? But which one will I give the rose to? Stay tuned...

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Monday, April 23, 2007

All the Bridges Blown Away Keep Floating Up

'Nothing like a little spring-time boy drama, my coworker friend remarked when I told her about my weekend.

My weekend, which did not at all go according to script. That prominently featured me listening to the equivocations, excuses, silences and other forms of romantic torture from the various man-children in my life. Various. Because there are several and they're all a headache.

I don't know about you, but I can only sustain an unrequited crush for a month before I lose interest in torturing myself and move on to a new debacle. Hear that men of DC and the internet? If you want to entertain yourself by causing me to crush on you, you have a one month window of time before I grow bored and seek out a new mystery. So therefore it's kind of confusing when one that I had just managed to forget about re-emerges. Since I'm bothering to share this information with you, it means I am obviously still unsure what I will do about this whole thing. Okay, I know what I should do. But I probably won't do it.

I would also like to say that "I'm staying in because my dog is sick" is a really lame-sounding way of getting out of hanging out with a girl. It sounds a lot like "I'm staying in and washing my hair," which we all know is so sad and clich├ęd by now that it's almost funny. Hear that men of DC and the internet? It's time to put your collective heads together and come up with a better cop-out.

It's not that I object so much to drama, I just prefer it in small doses, and preferably, coming from only one direction. This, was a bit much. And really, the only person who can justifiably act like a 22 year old about all this is the 22 year old who has suddenly entered the equation. Uh, yeah. My new nickname is Mrs. Robinson. Literally, my friends called me Mrs. Robinson all day on Sunday.

When I was 16 I taught photography at a summer arts camp. Because the camp catered to teenagers, most of my charges were just a couple years younger than me. For some reason, this little posse of 14 year old boys decided to follow me around all summer. It was like having an entourage. Nothing romantic or sexual ever happened with any of them, although there'd be the slightest teenager-ish flirtation every now and then. Having the 22 year old around has reminded me of that era. He often seems to be in the same place as me, right by my side. He occupies his slightly gangly body in a manner that suggest that he hasn't quite gotten used to living inside of it. He trips over his feet a lot and I often tease him about it. He dresses like he's in a garage band. Until this weekend, I basically assumed he saw me as an older-sister type. Wrong. So that aspect of the weekend took me back to 16. But with better lingerie and actually getting to makeout.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"So DC"/ "So Un-DC"

If you're a young woman in the market for a sugar daddy, I highly recommend hopping on over to Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse. I was there for the first time last night and discovered that the place was brimming with wealthy looking older men. If you're young and cute I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding one that meets your exact specifications.

This place is seriously one of the most "DC" places I have ever visited in my 8 years in this city. Everywhere I turned there was a man in a navy blue suit fingering a Blackberry. I counted many couples comprised of older men and attractive younger women. Everyone looked like that had just returned from some lobbying triumph or another. I think I was the only woman in the joint not wearing pearls, and definitely the only one in knee-high lace up boots who arrived with her date in a pickup truck. I like to rock the anachronisms as much as possible.

I was fortunate in many ways last night, not just because my date, a man I normally find arrogant and playerish, was reduced to an endearing jumble of nerves and stammers for the auspicious occasion of our first real date after a year of courtship. No, what clearly rocked about the situation was that my date was a regular at the establishment and because of that we were treated to some amazing, very attentive service. We scored an excellent booth, lovely service, and the right to leave our table at frequent intervals to go outside and smoke whenever we wanted. Oh, and the food was yummy. I can't vouch for the quality of the Kobe beef, which at 20 dollars an ounce is probably spectacular, but the petite filet was simply scrummy, as was the aoli that came with our frites.

I won't bore you with the specifics of the evening, but I will say that it was a good one. And that I might have originally misjudged the person I was with. As much as I hate dating, I do love the surprises that it can throw at you. Like when you're date informs you that he spends most weeknights at home reading (rather than banging strange women he meets in Cap Hill bars, which is what I had just assumed); or when you give him a goodnight kiss, he says that wants to take things slow (which I always want to do as well, but men never do). We were certainly the bizarro couple at Charlie Palmer's last night, and I was having one bizarro dating experience. But bizarro can be good.

In her blog today, Carrie M. wrote a piece about dating people who are "good on paper", and how "good on paper", ie: the people you think should be right for you, are often disappointing. Of course, long-time readers will recall that over the past year I've shared a few of my experiences with men who were "bad on paper" and how surprisingly good it can be. My date last night is horrible on paper. We have very little in common and my mom would be appalled should I ever want to take him home to meet her. I can't say that I am 100% into the idea of marriage, but I am into the idea of long-term partnership. I had always thought the person I'd choose for that would be a "good on paper" guy. Maybe he will be, but the more positive experiences I have with men who fall outside those (let's face it: arbitrary and close-minded) parameters, the less sure I am of them. Sometimes knowing what you want can be the most limiting thing of all.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Train Wreck Waiting To Happen?

EJ calls them "Pride and Prejudice moments"--those interactions you have with a person to whom you feel an unholy attraction to, while simultaneously distrusting them and doubting the purity of their intentions towards you.

Saturday night comprised a series of such moments, piled one on top of another. It was hard to say if it was the liquor or the rakish charms of a certain man that had me so tipsy.

I've known him for a year. Since the night when I met my friends out after having been dumped by a boy because I wouldn't sleep with him after three dates. It was my experiment in holding out. I looked damn cute that night. Fitted jeans, a top that displayed my cleavage to its best effect. Hair rebelling, but in a good way. I was also extremely grumpy, spending most of the night railing against all men everywhere, pounding beers and chain smoking.

I can't remember at what point he entered the picture. But there were two of him--him and his twin brother. Not from this country. Exotic. Bad. They asked my friend and I if we wanted to go for a ride on their motorcycles. Long ago, I promised my mother that if there was one thing I would never do, it would be to get on the back of a motorcycle. When I was little she filled my head with horror stories of young women whose lives met tragic ends on the back of one. It was probably an attempt to scare me off of all "bad boys" in general, but the motorcycle part was the only aspect of the story that resonated. Since then, my life has been peppered with bad boys, but I have yet to ride on any of their Harleys. It has also been peppered with twins. I seem to be a magnet for irresponsible, good looking men who shared their mothers' wombs.

I also can't recall what else we talked about, other than the fact that we batted around the idea of sleeping together that night. Apparently bad boys dig women with severe attitude problems. But it didn't happen. And later, my friend informed me that this was good, as he has a reputation for being something of a player.

Since then I've seen him out millions of times. We've even sort of become friends. We'll chat for a few minutes, sometimes he renews his offer to lend me his bed as a crash pad. I've always declined. I've learned more about him, but I can't say I trust him. Maybe it's because our first several encounters consisted of him demanding to know why I wouldn't sleep with him. His pet name for me is "grumpy." We bicker a lot. His friends find it hilarious.

His perseverance is impressive. On Saturday, several minutes in one of our typical exchanges ("Hey grumpy, long time no see." "Please stop calling me grumpy. I have a real name, you know") he dropped the bomb.

"When are you going to have dinner with me?"

"I don't know. When are you going to ask?"

"Have dinner with me."

"Okay, what are you doing Tuesday?"

And this is how I came to agree to have dinner with him. I don't know if this was a good idea. He claims to not understand why I don't trust him. He claims that however he earned his reputation, that the stories relating to his past are unfounded. I want to believe him. I want to believe that a man with a reputation for talking his way into the pants of many DC women can grow up. Maybe the rumors aren't even true.

The girlfriend I was out with encouraged me to give him a chance. "He's cute and really into you," she reasoned.

True. He's quite cute. If not cute, then attractive in the way that mysterious men with exotic accents can seem hopelessly dashing to women such as myself who have a love-hate relationship with the concept of trouble. And into me, yes. Very. Having spent several months crushing on somebody completely unattainable, who took my interest for granted, I could stand to be appreciated a little bit.

"I don't know why you don't trust me. I like you. I remember the exact moment we met. You were sitting in that booth over there. You had on a black shirt with white flowers on it. You were grumpy." And chip, chip, chip, it continued. Him recalling our previous encounters, slowly wearing away at my veneer, the armor I wear to protect myself from ambiguous situations with men like him. Maybe he simply has a good memory, but I was impressed that he bothered to remember such details.

I could be grade-A, classic manipulation. Or it could be the start of a new chapter. Or at the very least, a free dinner. As much as I dislike dating, dinner dates in particular, I'm suspending my disbelief and giving him a chance. I'm even planning on dressing like a lady, to act charming, and to give him the benefit of the doubt.

And in other news, I am officially a member of the short-hair club. I had about 5 inches lopped off on Saturday. It's taking some getting used to, but I really like it. It's fresh. It now barely skims the top of my shoulders when straight, and when curly as it is now, it's even shorter. I think there's something somewhat daring about short curly hair. I look like a 30's-era film starlet.

Edited to add: I almost forgot! Today is my blog's birthday! Three years! Represent!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Don't Leave Home Without [Her]

If you're a woman heading out on the town this weekend, no doubt you'll think to remember to bring along many essential items. In addition to throwing on that ideal outfit, the one that is as cute and sexy as it is comfortable, you may also think to stock your purse with a cell phone (think twice about those late-night drunk text messages, ladies), lip gloss, money and your keys. Those items are all well and good but you'd be remiss to forget the most essential one of them all: Your wingwoman.

I was reminded of the importance of the wingwoman several weekends ago while at the Capitol Lounge with a group of friends, among them a frighteningly clever fellow blogger. Now, you all know how often I frequent the Lounge and how I pretty much feel inclined to do whatever I please while I am there. Lord knows I have. But in the past year or so my confidence level in approaching strange young men has declined. I chalk this up to a new-found sense of protection of my personal space, most likely caused by being a bit too, um...trusting of strangers. Whereas I used to regard the gentleman at DC bars as brave new territory awaiting conquest, my experience doing so has clued me into the fact that there are a LOT of douche bags in this city. Cue the "duhs" right now, folks. I was young and naive. So many in fact, that my interactions with a handful of them was enough to quash my desire to meet their cronies. Anyhoo. No longer relying on the kindness of strangers, I eventually fell out of the habit of chatting them up when drunk.

But that weekend was different, probably because it was the first warm weekend of the year and everyone seemed to be supercharged with the motivation to get friendly. I was chatting with my clever blogger friend and a mutual friend when a gentleman of my exact and total type wandered by us on his way back to his friends. I didn't notice at the time because I was too busy talking to my friends, but apparently a rather obvious check-out happened on his part. My friends caught it and encouraged me to go talk to him.

Oh, before I go on, I will explain what my exact and total type is, as I don't think I've ever shared that with you all before and you might be curious. It is: tall (6 feet or taller), lanky, boyishly handsome, messy-haired, and indie-rock-ish in personal style.

Anyway. Cue protests and a modicum of meek, girlish giggling on my part.

Tee, hee, I can't do that. I don't pick up men at bars.

Well, I don't, but my friends apparently do. She walked right over to him and exclaimed "Dave? Is that you?" And used that line as an entrance into a conversation with him, eventually summoning me to come over. Her eyes told me to play along with the charade. I did.

"Doesn't he look exactly like Dave?"

"Oh, yeah, totally."

From there she gracefully slipped away, leaving me to work the Kate charm. Which I did for a while until I grew bored for some reason or another. I think it was because he was from out of town and I didn't feel like dealing with the logistical ramifications of that particular challenge. But my friend's little ploy totally worked and I totally could have gotten some if I had chosen.

You all are welcome to borrow that little trick. I'm sure my friend wouldn't mind.

So, to summarize: all you really need for a successful night out is a killer outfit, a fistful of cash, and a supremely clever female friend.

Off topic, but also of note. Sometimes my ipod behaves so beautifully when I put it on shuffle that I feel compelled to share with you all the total genius of the songs it selects. Here is a sample of what it selected for me to hear today:

Going Against Your Mind: Built to Spill
Boys in the Band: The Libertines
Come Back Margaret: Camera Obscura
Free: Kitty in the Tree
You Talk Way Too Much: The Strokes
I Need You: The Rationals
Washer: Slint
Drown: Son Volt
Talk Talk: Music Machine
Girl in the War: Josh Ritter
Call Me: Blondie
God Only Knows: The Beach Boys

Peace out, my loves. Happy weekend.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Life Is An Open House

A million people showed up last night to look at the two available rooms in our house. Okay, not a million, perhaps 50, but it sure felt like a million. The beginning of the event found me chipper, outgoing and highly organized. I ushered strangers through the house with great efficiency and made small talk.

In an effort to cut down on the number of times I'd have to answer the same question, I created a fact sheet about the house and the rooms, which each visitor received. If you're ever faced with the task of filling open spaces in a group house, I highly suggest creating a fact sheet. Ours included information such as rent, utilities, parking, public transportation, the landlord, and the skinny on the people already living there. Not only did it reduce the number of questions we had to answer, but it gave people something tangible to walk away with--helpful for those visiting multiple homes.

An hour in however, I was spent. Getting through the event required something that my friend Angel refers to as the "Kate charm." This is essentially, a magical quality that I can turn off and on at will that enables me to be charismatic, flirty and outgoing. Angel usually sees me employ it when trying to get free drinks out of people or if I'm on the prowl. The "Kate charm" doesn't get turned on as often as I'd like because I find using it to be a very draining. It's like a super-charged version of me that wears down my batteries incredibly fast. It has a limited amount of juice, and when it runs out not only do I return to my naturally calm, introverted state, I tend to also being a little cranky and impatient. Such was the case last night.

The shot of vodka and the Parliament Light I snuck during one of our down times sort of helped, but not enough.

Anyway, we managed to talk to a ton of potential roommates, most of whom were extremely cool and generally awesome. We had a really hard time narrowing it down. Also nice was how enthusiastic most of them seemed to be about the house. Sometimes we get people in for tours who don't understand the charm of a 100-year old house. Not the case with this bunch. Almost everyone seemed delighted by the quirks of our house and the opportunity to live in such a prime location. It definitely reminded me of how good I have it.

Because two men are moving out, I think it's important to try to maintain the house's gender balance, or at least to not steer drastically off-course. Problem is, we had a dearth of male applicants. Mostly our house was filled with extremely cute young women, all of whom seem to work for non-profits of various kinds. To be honest, it made me feel a little old and haggard.

But we're slowly narrowing it down and have some good boys and girls who we're talking to in more depth. Just to get to know them outside the open house madness. Hopefully we'll find at least one guy to move in. I am secretly routing for the boy from Boston who loves the Red Sox and freely uses to term "wicked" in conversation. I really want to avoid living in a house composed of four women and one man. I don't think that much estrogen under one roof is a good idea for anyone.


Bad News/Good News

The bad news is the Kurt Vonnegut has passed away. The good news is that never having read any of his books, I still have plenty of time to get to know him. I know, I know. I'm a bad person. I'm not well-read. I'm ignorant. My literary education is lacking. I've always been overwhelmed by the many Vonnegut choices I had to read, and for some reason, he was never assigned in any of the 10 million English lit and theory courses I took in college. So, perhaps one of my more Vonnegut-savvy readers can recommend a good book for me to start with.

Despite that, one of my very favorite jokes ever comes from Vonnegut. It embodies what Salon.com columnist Andrew Leonard described as V's tendency to mix "bleak pessimism with avuncular warmth.".\ Here goes.

The bad news is that the aliens have finally landed.
The good news is that they eat homeless people and pee oil.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Yet Another Open House

Tonight we have to once again open the doors of our home to total strangers, and hope that two of them will turn out to be good roommate potential. Yup, two of my roommates are moving out. One, a scientist who has been working at the NIH is moving back to England because his Visa is up, and the other is moving in with his girlfriend. I have mixed feelings about the latter's departure.

I've told you about him before--the wonderful roommate who had been many things to me, until ultimately embodying the form of a wonderful person to live with. I've already told you how much I love coming home to him, how despite the fact that we never quite consummated a romantic relationship, that we nonetheless sometimes lightheartedly spar like old lovers. That we tease each other for no reason, that there's this wonderful unspoken *thing* that I can't even describe--simply the end result of having endured a bit of emotional trauma and emerging in one piece.

I'm happy for him that his relationship with his girlfriend is so solid and strong. They seem extremely well matched and very "right" for one another. But my selfish heart is worried. I've seen male friends get swallowed into the miasma of live-in relationships, and they tend to become practically dead to their single, female friends. The combination of male friend+cohabitation with girlfriend=one less friend for HP.

Until now it's been easy to maintain a friendship. Whenever I wanted to see him, I'd pop into the TV room where he'd no doubt be watching some God-awful 80's low- budget kung fu movie. But now, living with the GF, I know things will be different. Although she and I get along fine, we've never really clicked. Objectively, I know she's a great girl, but I'm a jealous Scorpio and I resent her just a teeny bit. After all, he and I were batting around the word "relationship" when she entered the picture. I don't know what GF knows about our history, but I certainly have my reasons for not getting overly chummy with her.

Right now, all of our hanging out is spontaneous and sporadic. It takes place in the kitchen, while he makes me coffee on weekends that the GF isn't around, or in the dining room on a Sunday morning as he catches me sneaking in from being out the night before and I entertain him with stories that remind him what it's like to be single and lose. There's no real effort and that's what worries me.

I can deal with not living with him, but what worries me is the fact that we won't be friends at all anymore, that our friendship will reveal itself to only have been relevant within the context of one building. A lot of my friendships have evolved in ways that I'm not particularly happy with in recent months. Although I have certainly gained many wonderful new companions, these snags in the fabric of my social life continue to unsettle me. I'm not looking forward to experiencing another one.

So tonight we will open our doors and commence the search to replace somebody utterly irreplaceable.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Problem With Demographics (At True Story)

The Scene: Last night, the den of my house. I have just walked into the room to find my roommate watching Friends re-runs. In the few minutes I sit with him, several advertisements flicker through the screen.

Me: What's up with all these online dating ads? I mean, what does that say about the people who watch Friends re-runs?

Roommate: It's just a demographic thing.

Me: So people who watch Friends re-runs are apparently single and have a hard time finding a date? Oh, zing! That's me.

Roommate looks at me nervously.

Roommate: Uh, I don't think they mean you. Um, other people who watch the show. That's who the ads are for.

A Weight Watchers ad comes on.

Me: Oh, so apparently not only are we single and unable to find dates, we are that way because we're fat! I'm not taking any more of this. I'm eating my dinner in the other room.

Roommate: I am never watching TV with you ever again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Out With the Old, In With The New

Two activities that seem like perfect rituals for welcoming the arrival of a new season: clothes shopping and cleaning. And that basically, is what my weekend consisted of. On Saturday I logged approximately a million miles on foot between Dupont Circle and Georgetown. I was determined to revitalize my wardrobe. The shops in Georgetown were pretty disappointing. I found the quality of the threads I could afford sub par, and the stores that featured clothing I did like, beyond my modest budget. I found some chic, 60's inspired pieces at Cusp, Barney's Coop and Reiss, but 300 dollars for one piece was a bit much. And besides, those items were a bit too fabulous for my current lifestyle, where I am not required to dress up for work, and most of my social life takes place in dive bars. With perseverance, I did manage to find a few interesting pieces, and returned home with two new tops, two cropped jackets with slightly puffed sleeves, and a new belt. My wallet is lighter, but I am on my way to an improved personal presentation. I am also once again, contemplating a hair cut. Chop, chop. I've been feeling recently like I'm in more of a short hair frame of mind. I want a style that's more assertive, chic, slightly edge. When people look at me now, they see a huge mop of bohemian ringlets. Cute, but I'm no longer feeling the hippy glam. People should see your face, not an overwhelming mess of curls. I'm still thinking about it of course, but the idea is growing on me (no pun intended). Besides, Spring is a time of change, and a new haircut would be a great accompaniment to an improved personal outlook on life. I'm not talking anything radical here. Just a few inches. The difference between slightly beyond shoulder length and slightly above.

Sunday, I only meant to clean for a few minutes, but I got a bit swept away, and three hours later, I was still at it. Welcome to the great room purge of Spring, 2007. I got rid of a ton of stuff. Junk. Old shoes nobody would ever want, old notebooks from old jobs, more junk, yucky old tee shirts. I vacuumed, I dusted. I discovered that the Libertines and the Hold Steady provide excellent soundtracks to cleaning. And there's still a ton to do. But most of it will require a trip to the Container Store, something I can't really afford after buying all those clothes, which will have to wait for my next paycheck in two weeks. Also exciting was that I finally manage to extract a DVD that's been wedged inside my DVD player for an embarrassingly long period of time. Too embarrassing to share with you, in fact. In the past, I have attempted to address the problem in a variety of ways, none of them particularly effective. Finally on Sunday, I came to terms with the fact that said DVD player was probably already broken beyond repair and that the best solution to the problem was to yank the feeder drawer out altogether. So that's what I did. After that, it was pretty easy to extract the disc. Next pay check, I will buy a new DVD player. The old one is in the trash.

All in all, I managed to stay out of trouble, and have a pretty productive weekend. Did anyone else catch Entourage? I am so happy to have that show back in my life. I loved the interactions between Vince's camp and Ari's--how everyone was doing their part to manage expectations in the wake of their "breakup". How long do you think we have before they're reunited?

Also, have you ever had the experience when going through your things, of finding a random phone number and not remembering who it could belong to? This happened to me while I was purging. I set the number aside, not certain what to do with it. It's rare that I collect numbers from strangers. Luckily, an email from a friend this morning (totally unsolicited--I love how the universe works sometimes) helped clarify who it belonged to. Sadly, I can't make use of said number (for a variety of reasons too personal, convoluted and mildly scandalous to share), but I'm happy to know who it belongs to. I'm tucking it away for safe keeping.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Perhaps Not So Safe After All

Having lived in lily-white, oh-so-gentrified Woodley Park for several years now, I've developed a certain level of complacency regarding the safety of my neighborhood. It's rare that I feel unsafe walking the streets alone at night and I would certainly never think that anyone would deliberately do harm to my home or my possessions. This is not to say that I write to you from a position of great material wealth. As I've stated before, I'm merely a financially humble writer who happened to have lucked-out by finding a really inexpensive group living situation in a nice neighborhood. For that I am grateful. Having witnessed some truly horrible things happen to friends living in less-safe areas of the city in the recent past, I constantly marvel at my good fortune to live where I do. Yeah, our house is a little tattered and old but there's a roof over our heads and the only time somebody unwelcome ever intruded was a while back when somebody forgot to lock the door and a drunk ex-paramour stumbled in looking for a safe place to crash for the night.

Yet recently, it seems that we cannot have UPS packages delivered to our door without them go missing. Last week my mother sent me a box of stuff she no longer wanted that she thought I could make use of. The contents of the box totaled about 600 dollars in value. I didn't need them, but was looking forward to having them. It should have arrived by now. She had the package tracked and according to UPS, it was already delivered.

I wrote my roommates to make sure none of them had brought it in and I had somehow overlooked it. One of them responded to say that a similar thing happened to him about a month ago. Now that I think about it, I clearly remember seeing a car parked on the street outside our house last week or the week before with one of its windows smashed in.

Until today I have definitely taken the relative safety of my neighborhood for granted. In fact, I have probably tested the limits of our comparative lack of crime for far too long. This is not to say that I am claiming that Woodley Park is experiencing some sort of terrible crime wave, nor do I want to sound like some uptight yuppie bemoaning the theft of her pottery barn delivery. I know I am lucky to live where I live. I realize that I still have it pretty good.

But let this be a lesson to all of us. Sometimes the beauty and calm of a neighborhood can imbue its residents with a false sense of security.

From now on, I'm having all my packages sent to my work address. And hopefully whoever has my box truly needed it more than I did.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Shalom And All That

One year during Passover when I was in high school my dad suddenly felt bad that he wasn't raising me to care about my Jewish heritage so he made me eat gefilte fish. Really, my dad was the only Jewish person present in our neat little nuclear family and even his faith had lapsed over the years. My mother, raised Catholic but staunchly opposed to most of its tenets*, was adamant that I be raised without religion, that I could select one for myself when I grew up, if I so chose.

Having been taught to be nice to people, share, and respect the laws of karma, I've never really found a need to adopt a formal religion. I maintain a slightly embarrassing faith in astrology, and over the years have cobbled together a personal sort of cosmology dictated by the stars, having grown up in the woods and having being raised by two people for whom religion basically equaled guilt.

But back to the gefilte fish. I am convinced that only a true Jew can truly be down with this combination of whatever it is (white fish and gelatin?). Alas, my palate is too diluted with goyim blood. In fact, I would surmise that in some circles, crotchety old Jewish grandmothers (not unlike mine, may she rest in peace) probably serve up awesome portions of the stuff to the significant others of their grandchildren just to see if they can hang.

My dad seemed truly disappointed that I turned my nose up at his gefilte fish, asking instead for a nice bagel with cream cheese and lox (see? It's not like I wasn't trying!). At 16 years old, it was simply too late for me.

Like the nationalities that comprise my background, I am a religious mutt. When meeting me, people see my long curly brown hair and petite frame and automatically make assumptions. They learn my last name and they believe that their theories are confirmed. But belying my appearance is a heritage composed of many other faiths and human ordeals. While my father's family once fled Russia to escape the Tsar, my mother's family's presence in the states goes back many centuries. I can honestly say that I am related to both a Beat Poet and an American President.

The point of all this is to say that this month, in this time of major religious observation for many, I will instead pay homage to my family's eccentric little melting pot. I'll drink Guinness with my lox, wear all black, and look for a way to enact my manifest destiny fantasies. I can't annex Mexico, but maybe I can take over my roommates room or something.

*Except for sins of omission. She was big on harping about those, which became a huge problem for me come adolescence when I would attempt to cover up a transgression by simply not telling her about it.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Drive-By Kissing

The scene: A bar in Dupont Circle.

The time: Late Friday night, several weeks ago.

The scenario: I had been sitting outside with a co-worker chatting about life over a few cigarettes. Nothing special or earth-shattering was discussed, although semi-serious tid bits of personal information were exchanged. Minutes later, inside, the crowd was dispersing to various post-happy hour locations. Having had several whiskies, I decided to call it a night. Pleasantries were exchanged with smoking buddy co-worker. Again nothing special, just your typical "see you on Monday" goodnights, when he gently grabbed my sweater, pulled me in to him and kissed me on the lips. Too stunned to really object, I might have returned the favor. I went home, thinking WTF? to myself for the duration of my short metro ride.

Skip ahead several weeks. I rarely have reason to work with said individual. In fact, our paths rarely cross unless we both just happen to be sharing space in the same elevator. I've seen him a grand total of four times in the past month, each encounter extremely short and highly formal. Each time, I leave the situation with a chorus of WTFs? echoing in my head. As delusional as I sometimes may be, I have never fabricated a kiss. I am certain that this one occurred, and yet, nothing has been said about it. Really, I suppose there isn't anything to say. I certainly can't be all "Hey, remember a month ago when you rather inappropriately smooched me at the bar?"

I'd be lying if I said I've never kissed a co-worker. When you work at a place with a close-knit social group and a lot of young people who like to party together, stuff is gonna go down. But normally there's some sort of dialog about it, even if it's just the run-of-the-mill "Hey, are we cool?" or whatever.

I have no interest in continuing said shenanigans with said man. He's bad news through and through. I don't find him all that attractive, except perhaps because he is such bad news. But objectively, I know this isn't a situation that needs to be encouraged. And yet...I have found myself extremely flummoxed during each of our subsequent encounters. Plus, it would be highly unprofessional and I am all about the professionalism. Part of me wants to be like "Hey, what is up with you? Do you regularly kiss women you shouldn't kiss and then act like nothing happened? Are you from some culture where casually kissing people is an accepted social norm? What the hell is your deal?" I am obviously not about to do this, so instead I am totally stuck in this most ambiguous of situations.

Has anything like that ever happened to you?