hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Friday, June 29, 2007

I don't think you're special I don't think you're cool/ You're just probably alright/ But under these lights you look beautiful

Here's to Fridays and crushes. The more innappropriate the better. Or as Lorelai would say, here's to new boy toys.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Eight Reasons Why It's All About Me

Another meme is making its way through the DC Blogosphere. The name of the game? It's pretty simple actually: 8 Things About Me. As a self-centered only child, this should be easy for me.

1. Post the rules, then list eight things about yourself.
2. At the end of the post, tag and link to eight other people.
3. Leave a comment at those sites, letting them know they've been tagged, and asking them to come read the post so they know what to do.

1.) I am currently breaking in a new pair of shoes. Because this is causing all sorts of discomfort, I have been walking around the office barefoot this morning. Good thing I got a pedicure (manicure too) yesterday. My toe and finger nails are currently painted a very deep dark vampy purple. Lincoln Park After Dark (OPI) in case you care. Not very summer-like but I like my polish on the dramatic side. Yes, I am a hippy who walks around barefoot. Deal with it.

2.) Sometimes in order for me to motivate myself, I have to get into a very bad mood. This is the case today, with a presentation I have to give. I don't *want* to give it, so rather than preparing I am sitting at my desk silently complaining. Actually, I am now writing this blog entry. But before that I was complaining.

3.) Emoticons annoy me. As do abbreviations for various phrases that have only developed since the birth of the internet. You know what I mean. LOL. LMAO. ROTFL. Seriously people, get it together and use actual words from the English language.

4.) I'm pretty sure the bra I have on today is the wrong size. Having it on my body, it seems simultaneously too big and too small. I know I've lost a little weight since I bought it, so this isn't much of a shock. In all honesty, I have no idea what size should be wearing and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that all of my bras are the wrong size.

5.) I am secretly a rather vindictive individual. But rather than enacting revenge on those I feel have done myself or others harm, I like to think that karma will catch up with them. If I had a superhero alter ego her name would be Karma Girl.

6.) I tend to develop crushes on the wrong people. My life is a constant and never ending enactment of a Midsummer Night's Dream, without the bestiality and good lighting design. This is especially true of people towards whom it would be downright *inappropriate* to crush on. For some reason, my warped little mind finds people who are "off limits" to be infinitely appealing. I wonder if this is simply a mark of immaturity and I will eventually outgrow it, or if I am doomed to a life of wanting what I can't have. And when I'm drunk, I crush on everyone, although I don't really mean it. 85% of what I say when hammered should be discounted as hyperbole.

7.) I love the color green. Today I have on an emerald green tee shirt. On my left hand middle finger is a cocktail ring with a huge green quartz. My wrists are decorated with bakelite bracelets (one green, two yellow, one orange) from an antique store on Beacon Hill in Boston. I collect bakelite bracelets, although they've gotten mighty pricey now that they're all trendy and shit.

8.) It annoys me when people describe art or design from the Art Nouvea movement as Art Deco. Art Nouvea peaked in the years 1892 to 1902 and is typified by an organic movement of forms and inspiration from nature. Art Deco was a popular aesthetic movement in the 1920's and 1930s. Art Deco was inspired by technologies that were being born at the time--air planes, radios, cars. It can be identified by its faithful use of geometric patterns and sleek, streamlined shapes. I know it's silly to expect most people to know the difference, but it irks me just the same because their inspiration is so different as are their historical contexts.

What also annoys me is when people employ the "I hate modern art because anyone can splash a can of paint on to a canvas" argument. First of all, you didn't. Second of all, that's besides the point. When you step away from the canvas and look at a work in its historical context--when it was painted and by whom, it takes on a whole new meaning. Art isn't just about the thing it represents. It's about finding new ways to represent something. Modern art is significant in the way that it attacks the whole question of depicting the world and the ideas it contains. I find that when it comes to art people are lazy. They don't like to think about what something could be, so instead they get annoyed with it and write it off as crap because they don't understand it. It's sad, really.

9.) Not to break the rules or anything but here's one more fact: I am useless when I am hungry. I suffer from hypoglycemia and when my blood sugar is low two significant things happen. First, I get cranky. Second, my listening comprehension skills take a nose-dive. My teenage attempts at functional anorexia were ultimately futile due to the fact that I could never think or hear straight, which was problematic as I was trying to get an education at the time.

If you're still reading this post, look closely. I now must tag eight others to post a similar entry on their blogs. Are you looking? Get ready...I'm about to do some tagging...Okay....Ryane, Lorelai, Mystery Girl, So DC, Tilly, Have You Met Me, Zandria, Shannon. Did you see your name on there? Yes? Then get cracking. No? That's too bad. Don't let that stop you...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When High Heels Bite

Two posts in one day? Oh no you di'n't.

I did.

I'm sorry, I am so white I have no idea how to spell the above conjunction. Again, I apologize for my whiteness. Me, white. Thank you.

It's been a while since I've been able to effectively wear high heels. Back in the day, I was practically famous among my friends for being able to walk effectively in four inch platforms. On my friendster testimonials my friend Alanna even said about me "[HP] is not afraid of high heels, even when they bite."

Well friends, I'm sad to say those days are long gone. Having sprained my ankle twice in the past two years, the thought of a heal higher than two inches fills me with all sorts of dread and panic. I simply can't do it.

I used to really like the added height that heels gave me, and the thought that they possibly made me look slimmer gave me loads more confidence. But recently I've gotten to reassessing this situation.

-Since my last two ankle injuries, the highest heal I've been able to commit to has been two inches. And really, how much slimmer can a heal of two inches make me appear? I really doubt the difference is that pronounced.

-Wearing heals places me in the 5'4" to 5'6" height range. Solidly average and ho-hum. Not wearing heals makes me a petite and adorable 5'2". At least that's distinctive.

-I'm going to have to get my pants hemmed anyway, so it's not like heals make my off-the-rack pants the correct length.

-I'm beginning to think that high heals are causing my calf muscles to bulk up, which isn't very pretty. I come from a long lineage of healthy peasant stock. My legs are genetically programmed to be thick. They don't need more encouragement.

-Ballet flats, my shoe of choice these days, were a sartorial favorite of Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn. If they're good enough for Coco and Audrey, they're good enough for me.

-You know what's fun? Walking. You know what's easier to walk in? Ballet flats.

-There's something hip and different about flats. They're a little gamine, a little preppy. Sure, they lack the glamazon sexiness of stilettos, but isn't glamazon sexiness something of an outmoded construct only created by the patriarchy and projected upon women anyway?

None of this is to say that I am giving up on high heals, I'm just really liking the flats these days is all. I'm sure I will always have girlfriends who will criticize the fact that I don't wear shoes that are sufficiently "girly." But hey, I grew up on a dirt road in the middle of the woods. You all should be glad I don't wear a flannel shirt and overalls to work everyday. And when you're as accident prone as I am, you need all the defenses you can muster. Flats are mine.

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The Perils of Connectedness

"In this world, there's a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that's so."--Harper Pitt, Angels In America (Part Two: Perestroika),Tony Kushner

Note: This post is not about a specific person. Simply part 100,000,001 in an on-going meditation on human relationships...

Text messaging. Emails. Blogs. Social networking sites. Twittering. The unfortunate truth of the digital age is that there's most definitely such a thing as too much connectivity. You meet and befriend somebody, exchange information. Then somewhere down the line the friendship falls apart. Yet rather than simply disappearing from your life, they've left their digital footprints all over your life. In your cell phone. On your Facebook page. In the comments on your blog. In your email inbox.

I for one, always have a hard time knowing what to do with these footprints. Logic suggests that the smart thing to do is to delete them, brush them out of your way so that the sands level out as fresh they were before that person arrived. Indeed, there is a certain feeling of triumph and catharsis that comes from the moment you delete a person's number from your cell. I like to make a ritual of it--usually over brunch with a girlfriend, snapping my phone closed, punctuating the moment like an exclamation point, or at the very least a closing parenthesis. But even the act of deleting has its own subtext of hidden expectations. Perhaps this person will straighten up and fly right now that you no longer have direct access to their text message inbox. Perhaps erasing their footstep is all you need to bring them back. Murphy's Law of Digital Communications for the hopelessly optimistic. But everyone knows that you can't ever make another person do anything. That's why you're deleting them from you phone in the first place. Because they weren't fulfilling whatever role you had prescribed for them. Or vice versa.

As a relentlessly romantic and nostalgic individual, it pains me to think that people can be gone for good. As bitter as certain friendships and relationships have made me in the past, I always dwell over the good. Or rather, I dwell over that great divide that comes to exist between the good and the f'd up--how that divide came to be, what transpired before and after, what could possibly be done to make it go away. Even if there's nothing I can do about it, because again, you simply can't change other people.

Now that I have Gmail, I've made a habit of archiving old emails. Because I hate the idea of letting go altogether, and maybe because I think those old communications might possess a clue of some sort about what went wrong that I can't see now, but that might emerge with enough distance. Text messages delete themselves in time. Connections made over social networking sites are best ignored, although sometimes that's impossible. I've never deleted anybody from Friendster/My Space/Facebook. There's something so junior-high seeming about doing so. I'd like to think I can at least get along with people in the virtual world if not in real life. So some profiles I simply don't read anymore.

I have found that Facebook provides an especially sad reminder of this phenomenon, what with all the "poking" and wall-writing that it encourages. If you were to "cyberstalk" a person your punishment could be a painful reminder that they care about other people more than you. And really, who needs that?

What's the point of all this? I guess what I'm trying to get at here is the fact that certain inventions intended to bring us closer only end up alienating more in the long run. And after this fissures have errupted into full-blown chasms, they often stand as a mocking reminder of what was. The only thing to do is delete them and move on. Live a life unfettered by pixels and bytes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Best Regards, Hey Pretty

I've been thinking a lot about how I sign off on my work-related emails. A while back I read an article somewhere that asked various creative to share their signature closing lines, but I can't remember where that was.

Mine have evolved over the years. At my first job, unsure of proper protocols, I followed my boss's lead and closed every letter or email with the ending, Many Thanks. But I eventually came to question this closing. Many Thanks for what, exactly? Since then I have cycled through several of alternatives.

Best Wishes
Best Regards

None of these sound particularly satisfying, do they?

Best Wishes is the verbal equivalent of a limp handshake. Sincerely is generic and unimaginative, what the guy who does your taxes probably uses to sign his letters. Best Regards, there is nothing particularly wrong with, I am just a little tired of it.

There are other endings I like, such as As Always, but that sounds too unprofessional. I suppose I could try I am Sir, Your Most Obediant and Humble Servant, but I fear that the sarcasm wouldn't convey properly over the internet (Microsoft needs to invent a sarcasm font) and that sarcasm probably wouldn't be very appreciated in a professional setting. Whatever, I don't care is a sentiment that I often feel when closing a letter at work, but I obviously couldn't use that one. In other words, I am at a loss. Any creative new ideas?

Oh, my weekend, you ask? Oh, of course.

It started off with a bang and a most excellent Friday--lots of wine and beer and general awesomeness with completely cool people, many of whom had never met and seemed to get along extraordinarily well. I love it when I can bring people together and folks hit it off. Anyone who missed out seriously missed out.

On Saturday morning, as I was contemplating my options for getting out of bed and having a productive day, my homegal Lorelai texted me to go get brunch. Nothing rallies the spirits on a Saturday morning like the promise of a plate of eggs and some good strong coffee.

A couple of hours later, L and I found ourselves seated outside in the shade at Open City where we were confronted with a most unusual situation. It seems that the couple sitting next to us were reading self-help books about infidelity. I can't remember the exact titles--something like After the Affair and Surviving Infidelity. They perused these books on the after-effects of cheating as if they were skimming the morning paper, occasionally switching volumes to point out passages of note to one another, casual as can be. At one point, the man left the table and the woman asked me what neighborhood they were in. Seeing as how we were steps from the Marriot, I formulated a quick theory. Somebody in the couple cheated, and now they're on a "romantic get-away" to Washington, DC to patch up what remains of their fractured relationship. The self-help books are their form of therapy. Not that it's any of my business, but since I have made it such I have one piece of advice: couple's counseling.

Other weekend highlights: shopping with L, drinks on the Georgetown Waterfront and rediscovering my game. New and improved pickup lines were tested out. I could teach you, but I'd have to charge. On Sunday, I walked a million miles and saw the movie Ocean's 13.

Now I know that Ocean's 13 wasn't made to be picked over or analyzed too deeply, so I am willing to overlook its convoluted plot and anti-climatic ending. What I liked most about it was its aesthetics. The film uses the spirit and style of late 60's cinematic art direction as a spring board for its own visual language. Similarly, it's use of color is quite thoughtful. During certain moments the screen is saturated in red, followed by a cool blue, and an almost sci-fi green in others.

What also makes Ocean's 13 a delight is its offhanded humor. Towards the end of the film George Clooney's character, when bidding farewell to Brad Pitt's Rusty, tells him to "slow down" and have a "couple of kids" a sly nod towards Pitt's real-life tabloid love affair with Angelina Jolie.

And can we talk about George Clooney himself? When was the last time you encountered an actor who fills the screen with such a laid-back, self- assured, elegant sex appeal? Clooney has been widely acknowledged as a sex symbol for over a decade, and he gets better and better with each new strand of silver that emerges on his head.

Following the movie I bought myself dinner at Bourbon in Adams Morgan and was attended to by a most wonderful bartender. I love men who bedeck themselves in arm-sleeve tattoos and scruffy beards in an effort to look more bad-ass, but manage to maintain a certain fragile sweetness. He hooked me up with an excellent glass of Chenin Blanc and was wonderfully sweet and attentive. Who doesn't love being called darlin'? I'd be his darlin' anytime.

Also of note: I stayed up way too late finishing the Russian Debutante's Handbook.

And now I find myself at work. I was out last Monday for our staff meeting so I missed the announcement that my boss won't be in for two weeks. I wrapped up a big project before she left and now I find myself slightly adrift. Sure would be nice to have a manager who cares about my workload...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ask the Non-Experts

As a former English major I consider myself to be quite lucky to make an actual living using my writing and communication skills. And I don't just mean get a few pennies thrown my way every now and then. I mean, my innate creativity and talent for stringing words together allows me to earn a rather comfortable living. True, I am not a fancy high-profile journalist nor do I get to write about anything very sexy, but I get to write and at the end of the day I go home and work rarely follows me. Since I'm not particularly career obsessed, I am completely fine with this. To be honest, what awaits me outside work will always be more important.


Opportunities abound in our area for writers, you just have to know where to look and be willing to write on just about anything. I for instance, spend my days educating professionals of a certain field about new practices to make them better at what they do. A large chunk of my writing is for industry trade publications. My articles are technical in nature, which is ironic because I rarely know what I'm talking about.

My typical protocol for writing an article is: meet with my editor to determine a topic and an interesting spin; research that topic; write and rewrite until it's perfect. Somewhere in there, I send my article to an expert who I ask to verify or debunk my made-up technical claims. Usually they add several paragraphs of information that while factually accurate, is not particularly well-written. I neaten up their prose, re-arrange some sentences, and send our joint efforts to my editor, who then tells me how brilliant and accomplished I am.

If you think that this process is unique to my experience as a writer, you are woefully mistaken. I have many friends throughout the DC metro region--brilliant, wildly creative individuals who spend their spare time obsessed with music, art, culture and a variety of other fascinating subjects who earn their livings writing about topics that they know nothing about. At least once a week a fellow writer entertains me with a story about something they are writing or once wrote where they made up some of the "expert" information that was then disseminated to their loyal followers.

I know you're wondering "why don't the experts write these articles if real-life writers are such technical imbeciles?" Good question. The reality of the world is that it takes a special kind of brain to be able to master complex technical information and communicate its benefits in a reader-friendly manner. It's similar to why I can't seem to find a graduate program that would enable me to earn both an MFA AND an MBA.

In most cases, people figure it's better to hire a wordsmith who can at least research information and make it sound good. Verification can always come later. This isn't to say that I regularly publish bad information. All of my articles are 100% accurate, thanks to the technical people who review them. Nor is this to say that I am sort of fraud. I'm a very good writer who relies on the expertise of other people to get things done. Its a system that works in its own little way.

I just find it somewhat funny that information is regularly published by "experts" who really aren't. And that at the end of the day, us non-experts are kicking back with our Bourbon and Cokes, and giggling at our collective cluelessness.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And Now For Something A Little Sunnier

Sorry about those downer blog posts, kids. Suffice to say I was in a gloomy kind of mood--the kind that inspires much navel-gazing and complaining. But I've emerged and I'm feeling a lot sunnier. Still not perfect, mind you, but better. Tuesday night, when I was fully entrenched in my Daria moment, I even made a list of personal goals. These are nothing like the action items I mentioned last week (few of which I fulfilled, FYI). They were more like things I intend to improve about myself. At the risk of being a full-on narcissist, I will not share the entire list. But here is the main gist of it: being more positive and less-self centered. I'm not sure how one fully realizes either, but I'm looking into it. For now, simply being friendlier, and less me-me-me is a start. There are others, but I'm not quite ready to share them.

Also lovely was sitting outside on my front steps last night with my lovely roommate and several of his lovely friends. We drank wine and ate cheese, and more importantly they entertained me and made me laugh, something I didn't realize I needed, but had obviously been lacking in my week.

I'm still feeling a little sad about that boy, not because I'm getting attached to him as some of your predicted, but because I'm understanding his personality more and I don't think it's really all that good. It's simply sad when you learn more about a person's nature and it isn't as pure or positive or kind as you would have liked. Feeling let down by another human is one of the worst kinds of disappointment you can endure, I think. And that has happened to me so much this year that it's been feeling like a reoccurring theme.

But on the upside, I've made friends with so many bright and beautiful new souls, seen otherwise unnoticed good in some I already knew, and connected randomly with a couple mysterious new characters, that I suppose in the end it all balances out. Just like it should.

Changes in the bearings of one's social life are always traumatic. Especially among people like me--young and social, single, living far away from my already fractured family. It's not like I have a husband or a mom to go home to at the end of the day to get a hug from or receive some sort of positive guidance. I'm not religious, so I can't really call on a spiritual entity either. I have myself, my art and books, but at the end of the day, my friends are what provides the external support system--the bracing that holds these walls in place.

I said this post was going to be sunnier, didn't I?

-I have the song Lovely Day by Bill Withers stuck in my head, although for no particular reason.
-I am wearing jeans that haven't fit in a long time.
-Tomorrow I am eschewing the whole bar scene and hosting a casual get-together at my house--wine, games and the like.
-I have been on-time or early for work twice this week (yes, this is good, I'm usually late).
-The weather is absolutely perfect today.
-I have only spent 55 dollars this week (soon to change with my hostessing responsibilities coming up...)

Lastly, I really wanted to quote part of a poem I really like--An Atlas of the Difficult World, by Adrienne Rich. But I can't find the exact line I am looking for. So instead, I will connect you with this one instead, which is almost as good.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hugging Your Co-Workers is Inappropriate

People always hem and haw about how "inappropriate" and "bad" it is to date or hookup with people you know from a professional context. And for the most part, I agree. Sexual tension in the workplace isn't conducive to productivity or fostering "professional relationships." I won't claim to be the arbiter of upholding this standard, because I've clearly admitted in the past that I possess a rather lax view of this whole subject.

But that's not exactly what I want to talk about today.

What I am discovering today is that I really think there is something to be said for having that kind of relationship with a co-worker. Let's say, you're having the kind of day that I've had so far today. Let's get hypothetical and suppose that one or more of the following things have taken place:

-Your source of "expert" information on a subject told your editor that all the information you wrote for something is wrong, even though it came from them directly, and you now have to re-interview them and re-do half an article;

-A different editor took so long to review a document that half the information in it is now outdated and you must redo all your research and re-write half of your document'

-You sat in a meeting conducted by somebody with no people-skills, who boorishly delegated tasks to people with no respect for their other commitments or priorities and as that person's underling, you prayed the entire time that his Lumbergisms weren't reflecting poorly on you.

Let's say that even just one of these incidences had occurred. It would be an annoying day. What if all three happened? If all three happened, wouldn't it be fair to say that you might want a hug? You might really benefit from that feeling of being encased in other individuals arms for a minute or so, just to experience that fleeting sense of security, that reassurance that your world is not in fact, crumbling apart as you suspect. If you had a coworker you were married to or dating, you could obtain that sense of relief almost instantaneously, and then return to the tasks at hand feeling a little steadier and surer.

I know that the subtext here is all about my apparent inability to manage stressful situations. And that's something I'm working on, I swear. But right now, a hug would be nice. Everyone needs one now and then. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Stupid Boy Tricks

I don't have a whole lot to say today. Things are simply the way that they are and I am dealing with them as such.

I would however, like to point you to the latest addictive read over at Jezebel.com: I am sorry if you feel bad, either about yourself or towards me. Billed as a "public service campaign" it runs actual breakup emails penned by actual real twatwaffely guys. The current installment is especially precious and any one of you who has ever been unfortunately enmired with an emo boy (or emosogynist) will laugh in sad solidarity. Even better is that Zach Braff is the Jezebel-appointed poster boy for said endeavor, and you *know* how I feel about Zach Braff.

Read it and weep.

Also, boys? When you attend a house party and spend your night chatting up a cute random girl, do not get so inebriated off of jello shots that you have to take yourself home without obtaining her contact info. Poor form, Colin.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blogger Happy Hour & Other Stuff

Who's Going?

So do you wanna hear my goal for the weekend? Okay, there are several.

First, I need to get to the gym at least once (most likely this afternoon).

Second, I need to research radical social movements for my "novel." Yes, I referenced my "novel" again, I am so pretentious.

Third, it would be quite great to procure a nice pair of summer-weight black pants, although I don't know where to find these as I am fed up with the quality of BR and J Crew, and I can't quite afford the stuff at Saks and Neimans.

Fourth, I would like to find a replacement for the recalcitrant boy. You heard me. If the universe could kindly deliver to me a tall, intelligent man with a good sense of humor and a minimum of emotional issues (notice how flexible I am in allowing a few to sneak in), who is a nerd but not a dork, I'd be appreciative. Time to upgrade.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Paper Trail Expands

I didn't make it to Kramer's last night. The sky opened up the minute I left the bar from happy hour and my only choice was to make a mad dash across the street to the metro. Upon my return home (shoes are not actually ruined as I suspected them to be) I took inventory of my literature stock, daring to make eye contact with all the volumes I have so capriciously discarded throughout the years without fully enjoying to the extent that they deserve. It was like daring to show my face before a collection of lovers scorned, yet secretly hoping to be taken back. I surveyed the collection carefully, weighing my options. Finally, my hand reached for a generously endowed paperback on the second to highest shelf.

I smoothed my hand over its cover, displacing a fine layer of dust in the process. It's cover art was exactly as I had remembered it. A photograph of a girl with long wavy hair, wearing dark shades and a blue mini-dress lounging on a battered velvet sofa under what appears to be a Kandinsky canvas.

The Russian Debutante's Handbook.

As far as compelling presentation, it has everything going for it. Intriguing cover art, a cryptic title, and many blurbs testifying to it's literary greatness. I mean, damn. Who didn't like this book--everyone from New York Magazine to the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post to friggin' Entertainment Weekly had something positive to say. This book is hot property. This book gets around.

With most things in life, an entity's popularity tends to diminish my willingness to embrace or enjoy it. Not because I'm one of those contrarian pseudo-intellectual, misanthropic hipster types who hates anything mainstream. More because excessive hype and overexposure tends to turn me away from things. If I hear about how something is great 8 million times my brain tends to shut off or begin to hate that thing. Whatever it is--a movie, a bar, a friend's new boyfriend. After a while it's all blah, blah, blah to me.

It's different with books. Perhaps it's because my experience of loving a book is so intrinsically emotional, intellectual and personal, that when somebody else is brave enough to publicly declare their deepest affections for a book, I take notice.

So here, with dozens of accolades testifying to the singular wonderfulness of this particular novel, I decided to give it another try.

And I'm glad that I did. I've only read a dozen more pages (it's not the kind of text you can gulp down whole) and I had to backtrack a little to remind myself what had been going on when I last abandoned it. But I'm digging it's sense of humor. Right now, the main character (born in Russia) is trying to make sense of American culture, particular the American culture of intellectual hipster types.

As a commenter pointed out yesterday, I have something in common with the book's author. We graduated from the same small, progressive Midwestern college. I vaguely remember him around campus, although he was a senior when I was a first year and we never had reason to meet. The main character in the book has recently graduated from what is obviously the same school as it has been referred to several times as "the progressive Midwestern college." The main character's outlook on the world has been informed by his experience there, something I can wholly relate to. As of now, he is trying to reconcile his own image of success in America with the nerd chic thrift store aesthetic popular among his peers. Oh, how I relate.

In related news, I did a little writing last night, letting the theme of my project shift once again. This time writing more from experience than conjecture, the words flowed much more easily. I did encounter a creative snag however: writing dialog. Mine feels all clunky and weird. Too much, blah blah blah, she saids and x,y,z she responded. I don't know what to do about that.

In the comments section tell me something. Anything.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Paper Trail

My to-read list is expanding faster than your waist-line around the holiday season (oh, *snap*!). There are more books on the planet to read than I can keep up with, and every time I get into one book, I learn of another that I need to conquer as well. The fact that I have book ADD doesn't help either.

For those not in the know, book ADD is when you get 50 pages into one, only to be lured away by the charms of another. I have commitment issues when it comes to reading. My eye wanders easily. I am easily seduced by sexy cover art, imaginative graphics, titillating cover blurbs. Oh, blurbs how I love thee! Snappy paragraphs that distill a book down to its very essence. The only enjoyment I ever found in academic publishing in fact, was editing blurbs. My boyfriend at the time told me that blurbs sounded like a snack food. He'd always ask me if I prefer them with mustard.


Last night I finished Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a book that many "important" people creamed themselves over. It was good and all, but I don't see what the big fuss was about. Yes, it was clever. Yes, it was well written. Yes, it was a riff on several Nabakov novels, crossed with The Secret History. Yes, it leaves a little breadcrumb trail of clues about how the book will end. And then it ends. I don't know, I was a little disappointed. I won't say anymore, as to not give it away. But if any of you have read it, and care to discuss it with me, please email me and we can dish.

Next up, I am supposed to read Grapes of Wrath for book club, but methinks I am going to skip that one. I majored in English after all, and had to slog through quite a few dull literary tomes in my day, and I think I've had about as much of that as I can take. Call me lazy, fire away. Then go and read the collected works of Henry James and Edith Wharton for Senior Seminar and tell me how devoted to classic literature *you* are.

So far this year I have read:

The Emperors Children (Claire Messud)
Elements of Style (Wendy Wasserstein)
Zorro (Isabella Allende)
On Beauty (Zadie Smith)
Heat (Bill Buford)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marrisa Pessl)
The Washington Story (Adam Langer)
A teen novel by Meghan McCafferty, the name of which I can't remember
The Know it All (AJ Jacobs)

And one or two more I am blanking on.

Books I have tried to read recently but became distracted from include:

Veronica (Mary Gaitskill)
The Russian Debutante's Handbook (Gary Shteyngart)
The Rachel Papers (Martin Amis)

Veronica was simply too depressing. The RDH I grew impatient with. The Rachel Papers, I don't know. I guess something better came along.

My to-read list now includes:

Mergers and Acquisitions (Dana Vachon)
Foucault's Pendulum (Emberto Eco)
Summerland (Michael Chabon)
Absurdistan (Gary Shteyngart) (Absurd that it's even on my list as I didn't finish his other one)
Then We Came To An End (Joshua Ferris)
The Futurist (James P. Othmer)
The Line of Beauty (Allen Hollinghurst)
Winter's Tale (Mark Helprin)
Blue Angel (Francine Prose)
Selected essays from the million page Joan Didion reader I received for Christmas

I'm sure there are millions of others that I'm forgetting, and that too frustrates me. Knowing that there are great books out there that I haven't experienced makes me feel incredibly incomplete. And let's not even get into the non-fiction books I haven't read, although between you and me, non fiction doesn't excite me.

For me, enjoyment of a book boils down to one element: style. I eschew those written in wordy prose, dripping with adjectives and needless metaphors. I like my novels written in snappy, clever prose--bordering on spare, in face. I marvel at linguistic acrobatics, but not the variety that uses too many words to complete its feat. Likewise, over stylization bores me to tears. Plot is always secondary. Characterization, while appreciated, isn't foremost on my list of expectations.

Have you ever seen the movie Amadeus? In it, a figure in the court criticizes Mozart's music for "having too many notes," and alas, that is how I feel about many novels. Too many words.

So what's next? To what new tome shall I direct my loyalties now? Methinks a trip to Kramers is in order. Holler at me if you have any suggestions. Or holler at me for some other reason. I could use a good holler today.

Oh, and Lorelia just asked me how my own novel is going. On Saturday I divulged to her that I had a seedling for a story mind, and that I had even sat down to compose a few lines--a frustrating experience. It seems that whenever I blog, the words flow so freely, and yet when I sit down to pen actual fiction, my creativity freezes up. I suppose the fact that I have a general idea for what I want to write, yet no actual plot is a bit of a hindrance. So many decisions to make. I can't even decide on point of view, let alone what the damn thing will actually be about.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Random Tuesday Musings

-If that psychic lady I encountered on the street last night when I was walking home from the gym was any good at her job, she would have been able to use her powers to glean that I didn't want a reading from her.

-We have lolcats and lolpresidents. The next evolution of the theme can only be lolboyfriends (can i haz space pleeeze?!? i'm in ur mind, messing wit ur thots!)

-It's amazing how different I feel when I have to dress up for work (client meeting). Today I'm wearing a black Theory shift dress, good jewelry, and kitten heals. Even my posture is better. I should buy more nice work clothing.

-Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a good book. It was also a good book when it was called The Secret History.

-I'd be much more content at work if my colleagues actually listened to me and didn't respond to my questions with answers to questions that I didn't ask--questions that have incredibly obvious answers, such as the ones that they provide me with. It makes me grumpy. And then I get negative reviews for having an "attitude problem."

-Every time I read on the internet about how straight people pick one another up at the gym, my reasons for belonging to the big gay gym are reaffirmed. Listen folks, some of us just want to throw on our oldest pair of yoga pants, stick our hair up in a knot, and sweat out our sorrows for an hour. We do not want to be bothered with looking cute and sexy, nor do we feel like engaging in your misguided flirtations. Can I haz space pleeze?!

more later.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Case of the Mondays

[insert other over-quoted lines from Office Space here].

Man, I am in a mood today, which is mystifying considering how good my weekend was. In no particular order, the hours of Friday at 6:00 pm through Sunday at 10:30 pm consisted of spending time with friends old and new, two excellent brunches, not making it out to see Califone at the Rock and Roll hotel because chilling with my homegirl on my front steps proved to be more compelling (some whisky might have been involved too), purchasing some kicking new unmentionables, watching some very bad TV, and triumphantly blowing off one very presumptuous and bad-for-me-boy. As usual, not quite enough sleep was procured, but fun was had. Lots and lots of it.

Perhaps it's the contrast I'm now experiencing between freewheeling good times and boring office doldrums that's getting me down. Or the fact that everyone seems to be satisfyingly coupled-off these days while my one romantic option is a complete emotional defective. Or the fact that I've been assigned to a project at work that only one person really cares about and nobody else feels at all compelled to do their part to participate in. Or maybe it's the fact that I ate bad food all weekend and now feel all flabby and out of shape and am dreading the hours I'll have to put in at the gym to make up for all of it. Or maybe it's just the lack of sleep.

Regardless, I need to cheer up, fast. My horoscope just informed me that by nightfall I will have something to celebrate. I can only hope that whatever this new development is, it comes before my 1:30 staff meeting.

In the comments section tell me what you're feeling pissy about. Or tell me something to cheer me up. Yes, I know. Me, me, me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Not The Logan to My Veronica, But It'll Do...

"I'll be over a bit later," I told him over email. "I need to run home and shower and change. I'm not representing very well on the hotness scale right now, and if I am to see you, I'd rather do it in an outfit that devastates."

Last minute plans are rare in the context of our friendship, if you can call it that, this dance we've been doing since mid-January. Normally plans are hatched after weeks of silence, a week or two ahead of time. I spend the day of participating in various grooming rituals, planning what I will wear, coming up with a good backup in case Outfit A somehow backfires, my stomach in knots all the while. Before we meet up I do a shot of whisky and smoke a Parliament Light, my way of taking the edge off.

Until yesterday it was unheard of for him to request my company with such little advance notice. But after Wednesday's reunion everything was a bit off-kilter. Epic emails were exchanged Thursday afternoon. The ones of the "I can't handle a relationship" variety (him) and the "I'm not in love with you nor do I plan to be in the near future" variety (me). After 5 months of ambiguity, our relationship was finally defined: friends with a little extra. Given my ambivalence towards all things romantic these days, this seems like a nice temporary solution. I have ingested no whisky, but I did borrow a beer from one of my roommates (yes, I will get you back--thanks for having so much beer).

In a tight red tee complimenting both my slight tan and my natural assets, and my new outrageously expensive jeans (that actually manage to flatter my curves--amazing), I sauntered into his apartment. "That outfit devastates" I hear him say behind me, one of the only true compliments he has ever given me in regards to my appearance (I think "cute" was the other--a descriptor I often tire of. I'd take sexy or unique over cute any day). A small studio with barely enough room to contain his bed and his desk, I set about doing some housekeeping. Listen, when you're bed doubles as your sofa, you can't invite a woman over and have it unmade. No lady likes to lounge on an unmade bed, even if she is essentially only visiting you to makeout with you and you both know it. The lighting is crappy, no music is playing. I request some ambiance. He dims the lights, puts on some tunes. "Not the bitter mix," I say. "I can't hang out with you and listen to a mix you made expressing your sentiments towards another woman. And that Ryan Adams song makes me want to slit my wrists." He complies.

A lady does not kiss and tell (very much), so that is as much of a recap as I am willing to provide. The evening was nice. Having laid a gentle smack down on him with my I-do-not-love-you email, I noticed a definite shift in my feelings towards him. Way less emotional, way less worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. But less passion too, but maybe that's better. Passion messes with your head. Passion makes you do stupid things like send snippy emails and text messages. Passion gets you attached. Attached is not something I can be with this one. I am removed, distant, airy to the point of flippancy. I deliver off-handed compliments but follow them up with casual put-downs. Intellectual acrobatics, teasing insults as foreplay.

Looking at his eyes I see for the first time that they're the same greenish bluish shade as mine.

And in other news, this weekend promises to devastate. Happy hour tonight, followed by a possible outing to Wonderland. Brunch with the gals tomorrow, the band Califone at the Rock and Roll Hotel at night. Kickball all day on Sunday, hopefully with a chance to work out, do laundry and see a movie mixed in.

Oh, and my set up? The one I was super excited about? He disappeared into the ether. According to my married friends who set us up, he is dating his college crush. "She's not nearly as cute as you," she said. Hmph! As happy as I am for him that he's found himself a nice girl, a cursory explanation from him would have been nice. Boys these days.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

And So It Begins Again

Sometimes a hiatus only has to last for 5 days. Really, it's totally okay to boldly state that you're never dating again and OVER and DONE with it, and then decide less than a week later that you've changed your mind. A hiatus can still be a hiatus even if it lasts for less than a week, right? Right.

Besides, some of us happen to enjoy things like texting the boy you had totally given up on, making up with him over text message, persuading him to come meet you out, him actually showing up (which for him is as close to a grand gesture as he is capable of making), and making out on 18th Street for all the world to see. Why? Because the whisky-fueled saunter home in your kicky sundress and practical sandals, iPod blaring the mix you made to get over him (aptly titled Oh Uncooperative Heart) was worth it. And because your dear friend who has listened to you complain about him ad naseum actually got to meet him and confirmed this morning that he's completely into you, or "all blushes and bashful" as she described him. What's not good about that?

Probably plenty of things, but we're not going to worry about that right now.

What is also fun is then having a completely inappropriate IM conversation with another lad that lasted for most of the morning.

Ah, yes. It's good to be back.

Now only if my head didn't feel like it was filled with cotton, this would be a stellar day indeed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Red Photography Updated

New readers are probably unaware of the fact that I also keep a photoblog. I neglect it quite a bit due to technology issues. But I just managed to find a computer with nice imaging software, and spent a little time making some image adjustments. More to come later, but in the meantime, go take a look.

The Hey Pretty Mid-Year Index

'Hard to believe 2007 is almost half-way over. I had high hopes for 2007, a year I'd spend most of being 30, a most interesting age. So far, 2007 has been all about transitions. It would be overly dramatic to say that EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED, but quite a lot has--some for better, some rather painfully and harshly. But dems de breaks, as my co-counselor at summer camp way back when was fond of saying. With that said, I present to you the Hey Pretty Mid-Year Index (in deference to Harpers. My apologies, Harpers).

# of new bosses gained @ work: 2
# of new businesses plans I have been responsible for launching @ work: 1
# of raises or bonuses: 0
# of new friends made: a dozen+
# of new friends made who turned out to be bat-shit crazy: 1
# of friends who have moved away: 1
# of old friends reconnected with: 3
# of new roommates: 2
# books read: 8 (but I feel like I might be forgetting one or two)
# of different novels I have started to write, only to abandon: 3
# of music mixes made: 3
# of rolls of film processed: 3 (slacker)
# of new black shirts purchased: 3
# of new pairs of jeans: 1
# of boys kissed: 9 (is it bad that I've kissed more boys than I have read books?)
% of those who I happen to work with: 22
# of set-ups: 1
# of internet 1st dates: 6
# of harmless new crushes that haven't resulted in any kind of emotional trauma: 1
# of sessions at the gym: 45 (approximately)
# of yoga classes attended: 2
# of pounds lost: 5 (but muscle weighs more than fat, so suck it)
# of bottles of wine consumed: too many to count
# of whisky shots: no comment

And so it goes for 2007, months 1-5. Bring on 6-12, bitches. I'm ready.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Under My Skin

Certain people have a distinct talent for getting under my skin. Rather, certain men possess that talent. Last week I decided it was time to take a little hiatus from the dating. The number of rants I've published in recent months on this blog alone is testament to the fact that men are driving me a bit nutty. I've simply been wasting way too much emotional energy on wondering when so-and-so will call, why he didn't call, who he is preferring to call instead. I had an epiphany of sorts a few days ago when I realized how many wonderful friends I have for companionship, and even what great company I am for myself. Since dating was only compounding my natural tendency towards moodiness and semi-obsessive introspection, I decided that the time has come to take a small break.

For how long? Until the prospect of returning to it doesn't make me want to curl up in the fetal position, or until somebody really good comes along to make it all worthwhile. Since those have been few and far between in recent days, I foresee a healthy break ahead of me.

I am also taking this hiatus as a chance to assess what has been working in my romantic life, and what hasn't. Earlier today, I got to reflecting on the types of personalities I tend to be attracted to, all of their irritating characteristics, and whether I will ever grow up and learn to like nice, "normal" men. There's a certain someone in my life right now who in all honesty, is driving me completely crazy. Somebody who I should not in any way be attracted to, who seems to know exactly which buttons to push to both annoy and intrigue me. Another pride and prejudice relationship, as darling EJ so aptly calls them. Reflecting upon the utter annoyingness/hotness of said individual, it occurred to me that he is one in a long string of would-be suitors who possess similar traits. In no particular order, men who display the following characteristics and quirks have a better than 70% chance of turning me all angsty and naval-gazing:

-Unpredictable invasions of my personal space. You did not just reach into my dress and the strap of my bra where I have been storing my lighter because my dress doesn't have pockets. Oh wait, you did. With a devilish gleam in your eye for that matter. Stop that. No wait, do it again. No stop. F*ck. I can't decide.

-Disappear for a month but resurface with a really good excuse as to why you were MIA for so long. Oh, you were having emotional problems? That's so deep. Here, let me cook you dinner and gently probe your psyche and offer to fix all your problems for you.

-What's that you say? There's a considerably-sized chunk of your personal history you don't care to share with me? How mysterious. Here, let me buy you a beer so I can ask you a bunch of questions that circle the issue but never fully address it.

-Fully enjoy adult beverages. Like, enjoy them a lot. A whole lot. Whisky shots on a Sunday night? How hot. Yes, let's do several. What's that you say? You keep a bottle of vodka in your desk drawer? Would I care to drink some with you? Not really, okay yes. No, no I would not.

-Startles at the thought of commitment. You're in the military and shipping out overseas in six months? How retro and romantic. You just got out of a long-term relationship and are too "scarred" to get involved again? Oh, you poor thing. Let me nurture you back to datability.

The fact remains that I enjoy the company of men who are witty, charming, good-looking, intelligent, and moderately rebellious. But like all attractive personality characteristics, these often (or always) seem to come with their fair share of mood-killers. When entertaining the possibility of dating a new gentleman, these traits must be carefully weighed, and certain reasonable expectations must be placed on what is considered a "deal breaker." I know I posted a list of what I considered to be deal breakers about a year ago, and since then, I've learned to be a little more flexible. For instance, I've gotten over my "must be a liberal" requirement, and hence, dated two Republicans last year. These relationships didn't last, but not because of our political differences. Well, perhaps the fact that I detest Rick Santorum and have no plans to ever give up my career to home-school my children might have been a factor in being unceremoniously discarded by one. But that was his issue, not mine.

Like I said last week, I am learning to accept the fact that I may just be responsible for attracting said characters. Hey, we all make choices, right? I've accepted the terms of enough ambiguous relationships in the past year to understand that it's time I accept a little more accountability for my dating disasters. So over the next several weeks or months, as I take a breather from the fun world that is the DC dating scene, as I eschew first dates for reading the Grapes of Wrath and all the other books on my to-read list, I intend to isolate specifically what traits unite the cads I have known and loved, and learn to avoid them in the future at all costs.

More on this later, I am quite sure.

In the comments section tell me what unfortunate character traits you find utterly hot in your crushes.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Still a bit emotionally spent from my weekend away, and my body hating me for subjecting it to three nights of dorm bed sleeping, I decided it was time to return to yoga class. Many of you will recall my love-hate relationship with the practice. When we're jiving, I love getting swept away in the flow of the poses, the pleasant sensation of deep breathing combined with stretching, and marveling at the things my body is capable of. When we're not jiving, I find yoga sweaty and tedious, and I begin to resent whatever hippy-dippy shirtless dude on the mat next to me who is leaning just a tad too far into my personal space.

Letting go is not something that I am good at. Sometimes yoga is great for helping me release whatever petty melodrama my head insists on replaying to itself a million times a day. Other times, yoga finds me trapped with nothing to think about *but* those issues. Add to that my chronic ankle problems, and the prospect of enjoying a class is spotty at best.

But yesterday it was time. If only so I could do something about the persistent pain that had been sitting in my lower neck all week. I arrived at the studio dressed in my ratty workout gear (I have never been one to gussy up just to sweat--unless of course, it's from that *other* activity--zing!) prepared to embrace whatever obstacles came my way. I was signed in by a lovely young woman, who displayed none of the superiority or snottiness I normally encounter from the studio assistants. Pleasant surprise, that was. I waited in the hall with the other yogis, also a pleasant seeming bunch.

When it was time, we entered the studio and placed our mats in our preferred locations. There was a lot of extra space due to low attendance, so I was confident I'd have much space to practice in. Wrong. A hippy-dippy dude (yet thankfully not shirtless) plopped his mat down next to mine despite the abundance of space elsewhere in the studio. I experienced a moment of annoyance before reasoning with myself.

"Self," I said. "You have your preferred place in the studio where you always put your mat. Chances are others do too. It's not this guy's fault that his preferred location is two inches from yours. You'll have to learn to peacefully coexist and deal." So shocked was I by the intervention of a non-snarky inner voice, all I could really do was shut up and do some warm up stretches. "Who is that woman," I thought, "and why is she so reasonable?"

Class commenced and it was good. Yes, my decrepit ankles took issue with the fact that they were sometimes required to turn at a 45 degree angle, something they just weren't down with, and my bony old knees were *not* happy about whatever pose that is where you lean on them from a lunge. But poses that I used to loath were suddenly much easier, due most likely to the awesome amounts time I've devoted to cardio over the past several months. Plus, the combination of stretching, breathing, and moving was just extremely cathartic and relaxing.

Class ended, and walking to the metro I took stock of the experience and how I felt.

Did my neck still hurt? No.
How did the rest of me feel? Energized, limber, strong.
Did my heart still feel all raw and beaten? Actually, no. No, it did not.

At the beginning of class the instructor told us to set our intentions for our practice, perhaps even to dedicate the practice to somebody in need of a little positive karma. My intension was to release myself from all the drama and indefiniteness that I feel has weighed me down for months, and to send nothing but good thoughts to those that the drama involved. Douchebags, many of 'em, but they need all the good karma they can get.

And this is how a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders last night, the one no doubt responsible for causing all my neck pain. Because that's what it's been--a giant pain in the neck.

Then I got to thinking about all those people who are all totally into yoga and how they walk around all the time talking about "intentions" and "toxicity" and all that other quasi-spiritual new-ageiness, and how I normally roll my eyes because they sound ridiculous. But they're supposedly all enlighted and stuff, whereas I am a cynic's cynic. Yes, I believe in many of those things but I normally keep them to myself. But now I'm wondering if it's possible to become a full-on yoga devotee and still retain a little of my oh-so-endearing sarcasm and wit. Can I be calm, balanced, stable and at peace with the world and still be funny? Or is doing yoga going to turn me into some sort of irritatingly upbeat, drum-beating freak? These are the questions that vex me today. When one worry subsides another replaces it. Albeit, not a particularly dark one. Somehow, I think I'll deal.

And in other news, I am wearing quite the hot little number today. (But in magenta).

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