Wednesday, February 28, 2007

All Things Being Equal, Ya Gotta Go with Bono

Well, this helps me decide for whom to vote in 2008. Clearly, if Bono is chatting up Barack Obama on behalf of his ONE Campaign, he's got some inside info. Okay, maybe not, but Bono has a nose for individuals with the power to effect change. Maybe his visits to political candidates will turn into some kind of urban myth. Like if an NFC team wins the Superbowl, it'll be a bull market.

Dancing with the Stars...and at Weddings

(image courtesy of BBC America)

In her entertainment report this morning, Diane shared that Heather Mills soon-to-be-ex-McCartney will be one of the contestants on the next season of Dancing with the Stars. You may have some pretty pejorative opinions of her based on tabloid reports of her nascent divorce from Sir Paul. But I commend her decision to compete on a dance show since she'll demonstrate that an amputee can lead an active lifestyle. Of course, she'll get voted off right quick by Team Paul (i.e., the United States), so she won't really have the opportunity to break down any barriers. Ah well. response to the morning show chatter about Mrs. McCartney, "Rebecca" called in to share some anecdotes from her own experience as an amputee (when she was nineteen, her legs were crushed in a car accident and she lost both of them below the knee). One of the most sobering things Rebecca shared is that attaching her prosthetics is freshly painful every day. Yikes. Rebecca added that, because of the pain, she didn't wear the prosthetics for the first year and a half after the accident. Instead, she chose to get around via wheelchair. But when her sister got engaged, Rebecca knew that she didn't want to be Bridesmaid in a Wheelchair. So she got off her duff (literally) and learned to walk on the prosthetics.

Touching story, eh? All I can think about, though, is Rebecca's sister on her Big Day. Who do you think got more attention? The bride? Or her 21-year-old sister/bridesmaid whose legs were crushed and subsequently amputated, necessitating a painful recovery in order to trot down the aisle? I'm going to put cash money on the latter.

All warm-blooded animals will (and should) go all gooey for this triumph of the human spirit. But, (if you are a woman) admit it: a teeny part of you doesn't want to be upstaged on the day of your nuptials. I mean, why else would we wear shiny white (or in my case, ivory, since white enhances my Irish translucency) and typically dress our bridesmaids in bland uniforms?

Hmmm...I will burn a little bit for that thought, won't I?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How I Discovered the Meaning of 'Poseur' (or, You Have the Strangest Flashbacks when Filling the Dishwasher)

When I was 12 years old, I was in the seventh grade and was enrolled in Mr. Royster's chorus class. MCV, you might exclaim, I didn't know you could sing! You don't know it because it's not true. Not at all. I can't carry a tune with a forklift. It's painful. If I'm inspired to sing along with a ditty in the car, I turn it up so I can't hear myself and ruin the song. Even in church, surrounding by wavery keening old lady voices, I just mouth the words because I don't want to embarrass myself.

My vocal handicap doesn't mean that I don't love music. I try to keep up with the latest sensations while expanding my historical knowledge of pop tunes (i.e., making it a point to know who originated a song later covered by the likes of Michael Buble). It can be a little exhausting sometimes. Emo means what?

Anyway, there's a new radio station in DC that's doing it's best to appeal to people like me by playing a mix of unassailably respected rock (U2, the Pretenders, the Police) and the new kids on the block (not actually NKOTB) like the Shins, the Vines, the Killers. By the way, why do all new pop rock bands start with "the"?

So, U2's With or Without You came on the radio whilst I was doing some chores this morning, and I was immediately time-warped back to the first seventh grade chorus class after Christmas break. It would've been January, 1988. Mr. Royster liked doing a big reveal of his selections for the spring concert, and he surprised a lot of us by picking a modern pop tune: U2's With or Without You. My best friend, Colleen, was insane for the group. I'm talking a 4' x 6' black and white poster of them on her tiny bedroom wall kind of insane. I'm talking using the lyrics to "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in religious education class to illustrate modern name checks to Catholicsim kind of insane. I'm talking listening to October while playing with Barbies kind of insane.

Even if she hadn't been, I would've been familiar with their discography. The Joshua Tree was everywhere at the time, so there was naught I could do to avoid the boys from Dublin. But her mania made me hold the group in very high esteem. Which means that I was all kinds of annoyed when that Kristi/Cindy/Chrissy person with the mouthful of braces bordered by hot pink lips couldn't contain herself when the song came on. She sang along loudly with each and every word, and raised her hands over her head to groove in a slinky Axl Rose-ish kind of way (even though she remained seated in her bright orange plastic school chair). I was across the room, looking at her, and my twelve-year-old self thought, "Contain yourself, woman!" A real fan, in my opinion, could passively enjoy the tune without demonstrating to each and every member of the chorus that she was in love with the band. I mean, why didn't she just wear a U2 patch on all of her clothes if she loved them so much?

And THAT's when I fully understood what poseur meant.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Campaign to Bring Back Pictograms

As I merged onto the beltway this morning, a sea of brake lights greeted me. 'Greeted' in this case is a euphemism for 'busted my dreams of arriving at the office early like a pinata at an 8-year-old's birthday party.' Eh, I thought, I'll just enjoy my Starbucks Breakfast Blend while I take in the view. Sadly, there's not much of a view on the West side of the inner loop, especially now that it's rimed with ashy gray snow. Yick. Look for yourselves, courtesy of Big Brother.

Phlegmatic traffic isn't rare. Every once in awhile (i.e., three times a week), there's an accident on the stretch of the beltway that I drive. Usually, it's on the other side of the dividng wall. You'd think that wouldn't impact the zippiness on my side, but the morbid commuters with whom I share the road tend to rubberneck. This adds about 10 minutes to my drive. Annoying? Yes. Understandable? Definitely. The desire to drink in carnage isn't new. Didn't festivals accompany drawings, quarterings, and hangings in days of yore?

But I digress.

Guess what caused the clot of traffic on the beltway today? This:

You might be thinking, "Of course it did, MCV. Accidents cause back-ups. Duh." Ah, but I am referring to the sign. Yep, the sign, all by its lonesome, caused the backup on the beltway. My fellow commuters were slamming on their brakes so that they could read about an accident that isn't even on the beltway.

This, I think, runs counter to what the State Highway Administration intended.

Once I passed the sign, everyone accelerated to their normal 55 mph (okay, 65 mph). This proves that they are either (a) too blind to read the sign from a distance, or (b) really, really slow readers. There are approximately 10 words on that sign, and I cannot fathom why anyone would need to cut his velocity in half to read them. It's not Tolstoy, folks. Brevity is the soul of a traffic alert. Didn't Shakespeare say that?

So, I've decided that we need to petition the government to broadcast information like a Highlights Magazine sticker story. Not sure what I mean? Here's my vision:

Sure, sure, ancient cultures did this first. But maybe those wacky Egyptians, Phoenicians, Anatolians, Mayans, etc., were onto something here. Methinks the average person would absorb pictures faster than the pesky numbers and letters we favor in modern times. Whaddya think?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Really? Since 1998?

Over the weekend, I was leisurely thumbing through Real Simple when I had a chronological reality check. Gladware's been on the market for NINE years. No it hasn't. Oh, wait, really? It has? Since I saw it in print, it must be true. I don't think anyone stands to gain anything from fudging the year Gladware appeared on store shelves.

Anyway, this is further proof that I am aging, because I still think of Gladware as a relatively new food storage trend. Like I'm being all trendy when I buy a stack of it or something.

I'm Really Not a Luddite

When I logged into my e-mail today, I saw this: "Patrick W. [deleted to protect the innocent] has added you as a friend on Facebook." Who? I thought. I don't even know this kid, and he's calling me a friend?

Turns out he went to Georgetown too. Given that, I figured that he's a typical SFS-er* who, at the tender age of 22, is attempting to create some kind of robust virtual friend presence that he will convert into a powerful political springboard. Kind of like Dane Cook, but with an eye on the Capitol Building. I shouldn't be so confused...he probably just invited any and all Hoyas to be his Facebook pal.

Upon closer inspection (i.e., I went to his page), it turns out that I casually knew Patrick during my brief career at G.U. I don't know that I'd call him a friend. I might not even call him an acquaintance. And at that moment, Gentle Reader, I realized that there's a messy, complicated world of netiquette that I haven't had to deal with all that often. Sure, there are the universally known rules of playing nice, like DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE YELLING, keeping curse words to a minimum, and not forwarding a bazillion bad joke/inspirational tale/get-rich-quick scheme/do-this-and-you'll-have-good-luck chain e-mails.

However, there are a ton of sticky situations that today's under-30 crowd has to navigate on a daily basis. To wit:

1) Adding friends. Clearly, you'll want to add your real, true blue friends to your page. But what if acquaintances want to be your "friend" too? What if someone you don't even know want to be your friend? Do you check out his site before accepting him? Or do you blindly accept the request because you want to inflate your number of friends? Ooh, and what if the request is coming from someone that one of your real friends dislikes intently? Do you accept the newbie and run the risk of a flame war with your good friend?

2) Organizing your friends. Social sites will allow you to move your friends around in any order you'd like. You can leave them in chronological order, or you can put them in order of importance. How awful is that? You're someone's #1 friend, then you have a tiff, and your friend bumps you to the #42 spot. What if you accidentally bump someone out of pole position -- do you call them to apologize? What if you break up with someone, but you want to stay friends -- do you leave them in a top spot, or do you knock them down a few virtual pegs?

3) Deleting friends. Oof. Separating the wheat from the chaff. Is there a statute of limitations for how long you need to "keep" a friend? You could delete ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and everyone would understand that. But what if you've just grown apart from someone? Do you hold onto them, or cut them loose?

4) Lurking. How many times can you check out someone's page or blog before introducing yourself? One? Seven? Seventy? Seventy times seven? My own personal opinion is "infinity," but that might be rude.

5) Commenting. How do you handle anonymous comments on your blog? Most folks I know don't allow anonymous comments through the moderation phase, because they are viewed as cowardly. Some people, though, just don't have accounts and so they can't comment under their own names. And if you're the it OK to argue with the commentee? Or delete the post on which they've commented, effectively deleting their posts?

Those are just a few of the situations I've thought of while surfing the blogosphere. I'm sure there are more of them. And Lord knows there's a host of etiquette quandaries with other messaging media, like texting, and blackberries, and podcasting. Thinking about them makes me feel about a hundred years old, though, so I'll go ahead and leave it for now.

*this will only make sense to other Georgetown alums.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Maybe I Should Hit My Local GNC

It's been a little over three months since I popped my last prenatal vitamin, and man alive, I can tell my system is no longer getting an extra boost. There are little ridges in my fingernails that serve as the prenatal (thicker nail) and post partum (thinner nail) dividing line. Plus, I've had one or two breakouts, which I still think is incredibly unfair for a thirty-two year-old woman who has just invested in her first tub of anti-wrinkle lotion. And the hair loss...oh, the hair loss. I have much empathy for dudes suffering from male pattern baldness. The past couple of showers I've taken have been kinda scary. When run my hands through my luscious locks to rinse out my Redken, THE HAIR COMES OUT WITH THE SHAMPOO. This happened after the Boy's birth too, but I still am disappointed by forty strands of hair wrapped around my palm. AND WHY AREN'T THEY EVER THE GRAY ONES? It's like there's a civil war on my head, and the grays are slowly but surely defeating the reds and browns.

One final thought about this: Prodigious hair loss + black cashmere/wool blend winter coat = icky hair covered mess. Yes, I've got one of these:
But it's a little bit like trying to put out an inferno with an garden hose.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Doesn't Anyone Remember Sinead O'Connor?

Woe to me that Blogger doesn't allow all the fun Gaelic accents on Ms. O'Connor's given name. But anyway...

Cheese and crackers, from all the press you'd think that Britney Spears had gotten prosthetically altered and tatted up like the Enigma instead of shaving her head and getting two of the girliest sounding tattoos of all time. I'm not a ninny; I get why this makes the news. She's been loudly self-destructing for about three years now...quickie marriage in Vegas followed by a quickie anullment (Jan 2004)...hooking up with a dancer with a pregnant girlfriend (Spring/Summer 2004)...marrying said dancer rather quickly (Sept 2004)...birthing first issue from the marriage, Sean Preston (Oct 2005)...all kinds of flack for insufficent childcare skills (Spring/Summer 2006)...birthing second issue from the marriage a year later, Jayden James (October 2006)...breaking up with dancer and beginning divorce proceedings (Nov 2006)...running around to party after party after party, vomiting, passing out, and flashing her hoo-ha on many occasions (Winter 2006/2007).

That's the detailed way of saying, "The press has lots of fodder for declaring that Little Spears Lost has hit rock bottom." But what is that actually prompts those headlines?

A shaved head. A freakin' shaved head. Not running through relationships like toilet paper, not crying in public on several occasions, not becoming BFFs with celebutards, not the rumors about drugs and alcohol.

Nope. A shaved head is our black-and-white proof. And we think our society places too much emphasis on physical beauty.

Friday, February 16, 2007

You're Uninvited, An Unfortunate Slight

Aw, man, twice in the past month the authors of blogs that I have regularly visited have shut me out. Not me, personally, but they limited access to the blog to "friends" only. Fair enough. If I were writing about some of the stuff they were writing about, or had some of the same issues, I might not want to put it on public display. Maybe I should crack through my layer of shyness and extend my virtual hand in friendship. I could let 'em know that I think they are talented writers and have enjoyed reading their hilarious, introspective words, and humbly request that they continue to let me do so. They'd probably think I'm some wacky Peeping Tom and hurl a few choice words at me.

Honestly, I'd guessing that a rash of these "privitizations" will occur. Blogging first blew up, what, two years ago? For many, blogging was an easier way to update friends and fam on their day-to-day affairs. Ya know, without all the labor of adding people into an e-mail address list. For others, blogging was viewed as a way to offer the world a peep at your inner sanctum. But that's all that it would be: a peep. For some others, ahem, it provides a medium wherein thoughts and ramblings could be published for the world at large to read. (In the case of LtW, "at large" means about twelve very discerning strangers.)

For those that fit into categories one and two, strange URLs and random comments invade the blog. And the author might realize exactly how much of his soul's been tossed onto the interweb. Me, I don't put anything up there that will haunt me later, so you may rest assured, Gentle Reader, that LtW will stay active. But some people do dissect rather personal parts of their lives that might, I don't know, cause friends, spouses, and employers some concern. Hence the lockdown.

Ah well, there's like a bajillion blogs out there, so I'll just find some new ones to enjoy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Things I Learned During the Ice Storm

1) I can carry a toddler, an infant in a car seat, and a medium-sized diaper bag all at once.

2) Allowing a man to scrape off and dig out my car does not infringe on my feminism.

3) In Laurel, MD, citizens are required to shovel their sidewalks within 12 hours of the end of a storm or face a fine.

4) The Boy might think that snow is pretty, but he can sure do without the ice.

5) Chinet comes in handy if you are caught without an ice scraper.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

Not sure how I feel about the apparent fact that Generation X has claimed "Office Space" as its "Rocky Horror Picture Show." WhaddoImean? Check it out: Arlington Draft House & Cinema twice annually screens "Office Space" and encourages people to come dressed up as characters. The only other film that has inspired that kind of devotion in my experience is, in fact, "Rocky Horror." I worked at a movie theater for a summer, so I know of what I speak. I just hope they don't start marking first-timers' foreheads with a lipstick "O."

Open Letter to Valentine's Day Procastinators

Stop accessing the Hallmark website already! Some of us are belatedly sending birthday e-cards and need the bandwidth, okay? Flip some of your business over to Carlton Cards or something.

That is all.

Friday, February 09, 2007

My Only Experience with Hair Coloring Has Been Henna and Sun-In. Should Be Interesting.

Okay, gray hair, it was cute when you started appearing a couple of years ago. Lonely corkscrews would manifest along my part, only a inch or so long. I'd pluck you, and shrug my shoulders at my body's tiny acknowledgement that I am getting older.

But lately I've been finding more of you amidst my lovely locks of brown and red. And you, Oh Strands of Silver, you aren't little anymore. Nope, you run the full length of my eight inches of bobbed glory. I'm not sure which disturbs me more: that my hair color hormones are fading, or that I didn't notice you in your infancy.

Either way, I am fast approaching that fork in the road, the one where I decide to color over the gray or let it flow. Not sure which path I'll take, but I'm thinking that Robert Frost's advice is going to lose out on this one. Time to do some research...the only thing I know not to use is Grecian Formula.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rule of Office Comedy

It is always funny when a co-worker misspells "clever," or "smart," or "intelligent." ALWAYS.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Further Proof that I Cannot Take a Compliment (and that My Ego is Safely in Check)

Since birthing the Girl, folks have told me how wonderful I look. Granted, the only acceptable thing to say to a freshly post-partum woman is, "Wow, you look fantastic." My brain knows this. But upon hearing it for the 42nd time yesterday, I started to wonder, "Did I look so tired/huge/uncoordinated before that my current appearance should be lauded so exuberantly? Did Ms. Compliment expect that I wouldn't have lost the baby weight by now? Is she just saying that because that's what the sisterhood requires that she says? Or do I actually look great?" That last thought isn't even seriously on the table, because then I'd have a metaphorically big head to go along with the physical one.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Happy Quarter Birthday, Baby Girl!

My little sweetness is 3 months old today! Just 3 months old, and she's already her own person. What's my proof? She smiles at me like I'm a rock star when I peer over the edge of her bassinet in the morning, and laughs (or comes close to it) when I make funny faces at her. She quiets down when she hears her big brother's voice, and she falls asleep contentedly when her father sings '80's TV show themes to her. All that, and she seems to dig toys that dangle over wherever she's playing, batting at them like she's Babe Ruth.

You might think that these things do not constitute personhood. But some of her baby ways are different from the Boy's, so I know that she's her own person. I can't wait to see how she develops in the next 3 months. Maybe she'll be happy to sit like a lump, unlike the Boy, who seemed determined to walk out of the maternity ward. Or maybe she'll like to boogie to the Beatles. Or maybe she'll decide that rice cereal is awesome. No one really knows. All I do know is that I'm privileged to be a part of it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

That is not a clever post title. Sorry to disappoint, but my brain turned into ice this morning during the 2-block walk from my parking lot to my office, so I can't deliver the funny wordsmithing. The news reports said it would be cold today, and my sarcastic self thought, "Thanks for the bulletin. It's cold in February. Shocking."

Then I get punched in the face by a below-zero gust of wind, the kind that freezes your nasal passages and causes tears to stream from your eyes.

Now, I am humbled.

(For my favorite version of the ode to romance in a snowstorm, click here and scroll, pussycat.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Comments after Death

About a year ago, a friend told me that an acquaintence of hers had committed suicide. Then, a few days later, she found out that the acquaintence's death was ruled a homicide, and that the deceased's boyfriend was the prime suspect. Just recently, the boyfriend has been acquitted. From what my friend had told me, it was a really odd trial and acquittal, so I searched for an article about this in the Baltimore Sun. In that article, I found out that the deceased had a MySpace page.

Morbid curiosity spurred me to find her page. And I saw that her friends have been leaving comments for her, lots of them, ever since she died. Things like "I just wanted to say hi and tell you I miss you." And, "Thanks for watching over the boys." And, "Could you please talk to God for me and tell him to turn the thermostat in Maryland up?"

This struck me as really, really odd and a little unhealthy. Don't get me wrong -- I've had conversations with my dearly departed, both in my head and at graveside, so the idea of communicating with those who have passed over isn't all that strange. What is strange to me is that MySpace is a pretty public forum, so whatever comments a user posts are there for all to see, snoops like me included. Those other things I've mentioned -- thoughts, tombstone chats, possibly even letters -- those are intensely private things. We don't speak them aloud in front of an audience, or leave them lying about for people to read. We'd be branded as nutters if we did.

There are a couple of people who have posted on her page really frequently, and I wonder how they can possibly be getting over her death. I guess you don't ever really get over someone being violently ripped away from you, but surely leaving comments on a MySpace page doesn't really help.

I don't have a neat summation, a "Final Thought" if you will, but it's been eating at me for a couple of days, so I thought I'd post it here. Anyone have any thoughts on it?