Friday, July 29, 2005

Mr. Nice Guy

So, I went to this party at my best friend's house a little while ago, and there were loads of singletons milling about. Since my friend is currently unattached, she wanted to make sure there were lots of flirting options available. The only reason I, a married chick, scored an invite is that (a) I'm off the market and am therefore not viewed as competition, and (b) I've known the host since it was cool to french-roll your jeans.

Anyway, the problem with inviting loads of singletons is that singletons bring uninvited company. If you don't bring your own posse, you run the risk of becoming the shrinking violet in the corner nursing a Solo cup. So you surround yourself with people so that it looks like you aren't lonely and therefore don't need the company of the sundry other singles at the party. This is how Mr. Nice Guy was mixed in among the partygoers. He overheard my friend inviting co-workers to the party, and when he decided that the invitation included him, the co-workers didn't disabuse him of that notion, 'cause hey, the more the merrier, eh?

The reason I'm calling the gatecrasher Mr. Nice Guy is not because he fetched drinks or let people cut in front of him in the bathroom line. I call him this because he punctuated every verbal exchange with "Niiiiice." There he was, in his 10-year-old lacrosse cap and urban utility belt, blocking the door to the kitchen and the keg. My friend, who was leading the way, sighed, and suddenly I felt like one of the Billy Goats Gruff.

"This is my friend Mary. She works in marketing, and her husband is getting a graduate degree," said my friend, edging past him and into the kitchen, leaving me and little Bro behind.

"Nice," said Nice Guy, and nodded.

"Yeaaah," I said. Sure, it was nice that my husband was seeking higher education, but there's no way to advance conversation when someone reacts to a declarative statement with an adjective. I opted for my friend's tactic of making Nice Guy someone else's problem. and introduced little Bro.

"This is Chris; he's my younger brother," I said, and stepped past Nice Guy.

"Nice," said Nice Guy, and nodded.

What? That doesn't even make sense. Why is it nice that he's my brother? Was this guy even listening to what he said? I know we all have our semantic crutches, but the lesson learned here is that you've gotta evaluate what's coming out of your mouth every once in awhile and determine if maybe you need to change it up a little.

Good Problems

A friend of mine called me on Tuesday to recruit me for a soon-to-be-open position at his company. He's one of the few people that I respected during my tenure as a middle manager for a shoddily-run college marketing company that, in my opinion, was headed up by a dude with a severe Napoleon complex. I mean, this is the gig that made me think Dilbert is funny. That's something that I don't think I can forgive easily. But I don't want to add to the billion or so hours that I've spent kvetching about that five-year span in my professional life, so I'll move on to the topic at hand.

I like my current job; I don't love it. I'm not one of those people whose eyes fly open in the morning, eagerly anticipating the rigors of their day at the office. I've never actually met one of those folks, so I'm beginning to think they are urban legends. So, I wasn't really looking for anything new, though I've pretty much decided that I couldn't make a long-term career out of my current stint. This lightening bolt of a call, though has forced me to take stock of my situation and sift out the stuff that I'm wanting to change in my professional life.

I drew up a Pro & Con list, but the thing ended up looking like a diseased Venn diagram. Everything that would be good about leaving would also be bad about leaving -- I'm a little bored with my position, but that also means that I can check in and check out predictably. I get frustrated with the lack of accountability when somebody screws something up, but I like the atmosphere of education, which translates to a "learning from your mistakes" philosophy. The new job would offer me the opportunity to travel, but it might be more travel than I want. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Do you want to know what silly, logistical thing it boils down to? The job I'm being offered is about twenty minutes away from my home, so I'd get to see the boy and my husband for about twice as much time a day as I normally do. And it would be better time, because I wouldn't be freakin' exhausted from my hour-and-fifteen-minute one-way commute. So, despite the fact that there'd be a bit of a pay cut, and that it's not really on any particular career trajectory, I'm really, really thinking about taking him up on it.

I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mountains Outta Molehills

NoVa once again proves that its abbreviation is apt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tired = Jet Lag + 30 + Organic Coffee

Oof. This past week's been rough. We flew back from the left coast last Tuesday, and I'm still feeling the effects of the time zone shift. At least I choose to believe it's jet lag, and not just that I am OLD now.

(I turned I turned thirty on July 16th. My milestone necessitates changing my Blogger profile, but before I can, I need to figure out how to change it. Since I am OLD like my parents, I am physically incapable of comprehending new technology, which will make this a more difficult undertaking than it should be.)

Okay, so thirty's not OLD. I know lots of folks who are still moving and shaking, and they're way older than me. They're like, thirty-and-a-half.

Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be a riff on my dotage. This post is about the suckage of organic coffee, and how I think it is partly to blame for my fatigued disorientation over the past week.

We opted against a grocery run before vacation so we could avoid a host of expired foodstuffs upon our return. This had an unfortunate Old Mother Hubbard side-effect, and for complicated reasons relating to commuting convenience and daycare inconvenience, I ended up jaunting to the organic grocery store close to where I work instead of our cheapo local market.

It was a wonderland of obscure brands. There were only, I think, three trademarks of coffee, two of which cost ten bucks a bag. At that price, I figured gold must be mixed in with them thar beans. Since I don't like gold in my coffee (just in my liquor), I opted for the five-dollar brand. Now, I readily admit that I'm a coffee snob when I pick up a jolt at a café, but any Folger's-level flavor will do for my quotidien morning brew. I mean, I'm half asleep when I'm drinking it, so it's more for the caffeine ritual than the flavor. Or so I thought...

I figured paying two dollars more than I normally do meant I was in for a little bit of a treat. I mean, Starbucks costs seven dollars a bag, so this organic stuff had to be somewhere between the best part of wakin' up and the most successful chain of coffeehouses in the country, right?

Can I say YUCK? It tastes like velvet dirt. I mean, I had this perception that organic food is all healthy and pure, and that those qualities translate into ambrosia. Man alive, was I wrong. Here's where my mix of standards kicks my ass, though: my frugal self will NOT allow me to pitch the offending grinds. I will drink this swill 'til I've nothing but an empty cannister for my bacon grease. Maybe my bourgeois taste buds aren't accustomed to the finery that is organic coffee, but I think I can safely say that I'll be jumping back to my Fair Trade cheap stuff once the last all natural ground is percolated.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Church Reloaded

Who wouldn't want to be a priest after seeing a poster like this? I mean, if you get Neo-like powers upon ordination, doncha think you'd feel called?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Comic-Kaze Vacation

It's been a week since my last post 'cause I'm currently soaking up the vibe in sunny San Diego, California. Okay, that was a lie. I'm not really taking in the real flavor of this metropolis because I've spent a chunk of time ensconced in our hotel room with the boy. His nap schedule's all wonky since we are enjoying a different time zone out here on the left coast. This means we can't really have him out and about all day because the ensuing histrionics would ensure that none of us -- the boy, me, or my babydaddy -- could have fun. So, when we're not out together, one of us takes a shift in the room with the boy while the other takes in a local attraction.

Notice I wrote a local attraction. What might that wondrous spectacle be? The San Diego Zoo, with which we all became familiar during the opening credits of the Priscilla Barnes years of Three's Company? Nope. Sea World, home to famed fish Shamu? Strike two. We are here to partake in the nerdly raptures offered by the world-famous San Diego Comic-Con.

Don't tell me you've not heard of the Con? How could that be? It is both Mecca and Medina to the throngs of comic book fans populating this globe of ours. Alright, I know that I'm putting forth a decidedly snarky tone. But seriously, once you've yoked yourself with the ID badge emblazoned with the Con's logo, you have to mock it...or become a part of it.

See, the raw enthusiasm and creative energy around the joint is intoxicating. Seriously, surround yourself with enough Marvel supplicants and you really, really think that you NEED all seven versions of that new Spider-Man t-shirt. And that hovering over seventy-two long boxes of comic books might result in the discovery of a treasure on par with King Tut's tomb (maybe, just maybe, you'll unearth a mint copy of Action Comics #1, and the dealer won't have a clue about it's value!). And that Bruce Campbell, Joss Whedon, Matt Groening, and innumerable other Con demigods are going to be your pals after you attend one of their panel discussions.

Is all of the hair on your body standing upright? Are chills shuttle sprinting up and down your back? Are you melting with jealousy that I'm here and you are not?

You can probably hear the desperation in my jeering. If I don't do something drastic, I'll soon be slipping, tumbling, falling into a canyon of geekdom without a grappling hook I can use to claw my way back out.

Damn. It's too late. I'm there, and I like it. See you on the dark side; I'm going to hang out with the 300-pound Storm Trooper.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Underground Terror

I started a post on Wednesday night about how I'd heard the nascent convict Lil' Kim's new single, "Shut Up!" on 93.9 WKYS' "New Joint of the Day." "New Joint" is one of those love-it-or-shove it call-in sessions for listeners, which is really just a way for music suits to determine the potential success of a single in the marketplace. Anyway, my post was gonna be all about how I envision a radio landscape where hip hop radio edits will essentially be a beat from a Moog machine interspersed with the artists occasional "uhs" and "yeahs" 'cause the lyrics will have been wiped offa the airwaves. I don't know that there's more than two verses in "Shut Up!" that are free of George Carlin's seven dirty words. Take a listen for yourselves, the song is available for a listen on the Lil' Kim's fansite.

So that was what I was going to write about.

Then my husband woke me up on Thursday morning to tell me that London's Underground and a mass transit bus had been bombed.

All of the feelings from 9/11, the Bali bombings, the Madrid bombings, came slamming back. There was no relief that it wasn't my country, my city, my subway. I was just sick, because they are my people. Just like I would on any given Thursday morning, they were people who were just trying to go to work, put in their eight hours, and come home. They weren't soldiers, or politicians. They were shopkeepers, accountants, bus drivers, secretaries. They were innocents.

The people who organized the bombings might say they aren't innocent, that they voted the people into power who make the decisions to go to war and drop bombs on middle eastern villages. They might say they are retaliating for the innocent lives lost in their countries. And the blame will be passed back and forth and back again like a hot coal. It's like the conflict between Israel and Palestine -- if you try to figure out who did harm to whom first, you are lead back three millenia.

That way lies madness.

It's just sad, and painful, and tragic and it will only result in more violence. I wish I had something to say that would pierce the sadness. But what is there to say, honestly, that provides hope? That maybe in one, five, twenty, a thousand years peace will flow?

Well, I actually do have one nugget of hope. One of my co-workers had a vacation planned to London. Her plane takes off today. And she still decided to go.

Little Miss Muffet Traps that @#%! Spider!

Last night I meandered down to the basement to surf the web for a few minutes. The phone rang, so I turned from the computer screen and found myself face to face with a reject from Starship Troopers.

Apparently, a fishing spider came to visit us. No surprise that he ventured inland for a bite to eat; the nearest waterway is essentially a wooded trickle that runs past our backyard, so the fishing must be terrible there. Still, you don't expect to see a spider with a legspan of three inches nuzzling your Berber.

Did I shriek like a little girl, though? Nope. Mature woman that I am, I found a bucket and trapped Webby within. Then I went upstairs and calmly told my husband that I'd found a spider in the basement, and that I needed him to escort the critter outside. That was the only option of getting rid of it 'cause smashing it woulda stained my fresh new carpet. Well, that or Webby would've caught whatever blunt object was being hurled at him and used it to pick his teeth.

So, Hubby vs. Webby began. It wasn't a long and drawn out affair, as Webby had apparently expired under the dome of the bucket. But still, I count that as a win in Hubby's column. Now, if we could just do something about the squirrel that digs in our flower boxes on the deck...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yankee Doodle Shock and Awe

I prefer watching fireworks live so I can feel the thump in my chest from the distant heavenly eruptions. But my boy's bedtime takes precedence over my entertainment from time to time, so this year's pompoms of color bursting over the Washington Monument were viewed through 32 inches of Sony's finest handiwork. And I've gotta say, the whole event was kinda anticlimatic. Not even the energetic score of John Philip Sousa could pump up my flagging enthusiasm.

Admittedly, it wasn't such a terrible thing to skip the sweaty crowds on the Mall, or ignore the performances of vaguely C-list stars of the stage and screen. But the pounding rhythm, the crackling explosions, the quiet drift of dying embers back to earth...well, these are things that are better experienced in person.

All of that aside, I had the nagging feeling that I'd seen this before. Duh, right? Most Americans have seen fireworks every New Year and Fourth of July since birth, but there was something about the whistle and pop of flames over an urban skyline that caused a wicked sense of déjà vu.

Then I put my finger on it. The DC fireworks looked very much like some of the footage of nighttime airstrikes in the middle east (check out file A270-230). These aren't twin images, of course; I don't know that you could ever completely mistake fireworks for firepower. But I don't know that I'll ever again innocently 'ooh' and 'aah' over fireworks while watching them spin and shatter and shower the earth below.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Shorty Rides the Metro

A humble request: if you're on a crowded Metro line (shout out to the red line toward Silver Spring) and you can reach the horizontal hand rail that runs along the top the car, please please please use it instead of hanging onto the vertical poles like a lazy stripper.

I'm all of 5'2" tall, so if I can't get a seat, I have two lonely options to avoid hurtling around the car:

1) clutch the vertical poles, or
2) clutch or the handles on the back of the car's seats.

The latter option is not the desired one 'cause it makes seated folk nervous. I guess they think I'm going to punch them in the back of the head or something. Anyway, this option also stinks 'cause when I get to my stop I have to clamber past monolithic commuters hovering in front of the doors while they pretend to read or sleep. a shorty a favor and take the higher ground (um, rail) when riding the Metro. You tall people can easily push past us midgets at the doors, so we all win.