Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday Night

Well, it's 2am on Sunday night and for the umpteenth time I am watching the minutes until my Monday morning alarm tick...tick...tick away ever so slowly.

At 5pm today, I almost took a nap while watching the Redskins/Saints game. It was a great game and I played Rock Cartwright this week in Fantasy so I had a vested interest. Still, I could feel my eyelids getting heavy. But no, I shook it off. If I nap at 5, I'll never fall asleep at night! (Hindsight says, "Ha.")

At 8pm, I was finishing my grocery shopping and contemplating putting all my food away at home and just heading straight for bed. But I had laundry to finish, lunch to make, parents to assure I had survived another week, and Family Guy to watch. Besides, going to bed at 8pm is lame if you're not ill. I'm not looking for anything else to add to my lame-o-meter. Though the existence of a lame-o-meter probably doesn't bode well for me.

At 11:30, I was in bed. At 1am, I was finishing the crossword puzzle in The Onion. And at 2am, I am realizing that I have to be at work in 7 hours.

When I mention my trouble sleeping on Sunday nights to others, they can usually relate, saying "Yeah, when I worked at (___insert terrible job___), I could never sleep knowing Monday was coming." But I genuinely enjoy my job. And tomorrow's To Do list is pretty meager. So what the hell am I doing staring at the ceiling?

It is amazing what my mind conjures up at this hour to keep me from rendezvousing with the Sandman. I think about knitting patterns, conversations I had years ago that still make me twinge, calling my grandmother, my finances, the dishwasher, plans for events that are months away. It's not like these thoughts are abnormal, but they are usually in context. Now they're just in the way.

If I had any inkling of foresight, I'd just take a sleeping pill at 10pm and zonk out. Somehow, though, I always feel like I am SO tired that there's no WAY I won't be able to sleep normally this Sunday. On the one or two occasions where I did take a Tylenol PM, I was in the middle of some chore when the drug should have been kicking in and my body worked through it. I'm a medical marvel.

The most effective tool for falling asleep is when I start planning on being awake all night and tell myself that if it's 5am and I'm still up, I'll go to the gym. I think this scares me into sleep. Actually just typing that made me feel drowsy. Yup, 30 minutes on the weights.....leg pressezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blame it on Global Warming

If you were a hermit living in the woods of Virginia, you'd have thought yesterday was the first day of summer. In fact, yesterday was August 9th - an unprecedented late start to the muck and yuck that is the summer season in the DC area. I made the mistake of picking that morning for my first outside run of the summer. Honestly, Rain-In-The-Pants, of all the days to decide to skip the glorious air-conditioned gym! I pay good money for that air conditioning! I got about 1/2 a mile before my activity-induced asthma inhaler failed me and I switched from wheezing and running to wheezing and walking.

I spent most of the day outside. My parents came down for the DC United/Real Madrid game and my father insisted on taking the Metro out to FedEx Field. So, we walked about 3 miles in the 95 degree heat from the Metro station to the stadium, only to climb up to the 4th tier and bake in the sun for 2 hours. Theeeennnn the walk back to the Metro, and I was off to Merriweather Pavillion (an outside venue) to see Incubus.

Here's my point, though: throughout this sweaty, blindingly-bright day, all i wanted was liquids. Cold, icy liquid refreshment. Food looked warm, and I was all stocked up on warm, thanks. Today, as I downed 5x my normal daily intake of water at work, it hit me that this is what I am usually like in the summer. Food is blech, liquid is good, and I tend to drop some weight because of this simple fact. Of course, up until Sunday, the summer was bearable and pleasant. But like they say, "No Pain, No Weight Loss." Bring on the scorching humidity!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mod Cloth – Terrific Transformations Contest

Most people that know me today wouldn’t associate me with the word “shy,” but I used to be quite the little wallflower – especially if I was in a new, unpredictable situation. For instance, as goody-two shoes/teacher’s pets in middle school, my best friend and I were allowed to skip gym and cover the administrative office while the secretaries lunched. (No, really.) I could not get myself to answer the phone, my friend had to get any calls. It just completely intimidated me to have to talk to someone I didn’t know, whose questions I couldn’t predict.

From 6th grade on, that best friend and I were absolutely inseparable. Even though all of the girls in my school were friendly, it was widely understood that we were the BEST friends. You didn’t invite one without the other. We were allowed to bring each other to family events (I went to Christmas Mass with her family and spent the holiday with them) and if she wasn’t at school, the teachers knew to ask me why. We had a few fights as all girls do, but I was so dependent on her that I could look past most anything in the name of our friendship.

When I was 15, I was recommended to participate in the People to People Student Ambassador program to Australia. I had never been to sleep away camp – or even a camp that I couldn’t walk to from my house – so three weeks on the opposite end of the world was kind of a stretch. But for me, Australia was THE country to visit and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Best Friend had not received the invitation, which meant I was going to Oz with 41 people I didn’t know. In the months of preparation for the trip, I focused on koala bears and kangaroos to avoid the separation anxiety that was obviously in my future. Somehow, we said a teary good-bye, I gave my parents a big hug, and got on a flight to Los Angeles.

My brave veneer started to crumble in the LA Airport. Our layover was just long enough for me to start doubting myself. There I was, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, tired from a 6hour flight with another 14 hours to go. I started desperately scanning my surroundings for a pay phone; I had every intention of calling my parents, apologizing profusely for wasting their money, and then begging for a return flight to the East Coast. But I was afraid to wander off by myself and was soon ushered onto a Qantas flight across the big, blue sea.

I had taken my contacts out for the flight, but I could still see a few bright stars out the window. I focused on those stars the entire flight and made tentative conversation with the fellow ambassadors next to me. It was so calming to see the same stars out the window whenever I looked… and yes, a few years later, I finally realized that those were the lights on the wing that were keeping my heart rate normal. As long as it worked, right? I was a little too nervous to think clearly.

Once we landed in Sydney, our itinerary went into full effect. Our trip leaders wouldn’t let us stop for rest so our bodies would adjust better to the crazy time difference. We were ushered around Sydney and Bondi Beach in a whirlwind but because everyone was so exhausted, it put us on the same playing field. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like so much of an outsider.

The three weeks in Australia were beyond amazing. We traveled from Sydney to Cairns (the equivalent of Florida to Maine) by charter bus, stopping to spend a few nights on a cattle ranch in the Outback and – gasp! – live with a family in the tiny town of Coffs Harbour. That was another extremely difficult portion of the trip for me but I made it through with flying colors and a few pen pals. We learned how to play the didgeridoo and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. The best part of that whole trip, though, was learning that I could handle a big, scary situation like a trip abroad without needing to hide behind anyone’s skirts. I made great friends on that trip and learned that I was a person that people wanted as their friend. It was shocking, which looking back is pretty sad, but I thought that the reason Best Friend and I were so close is that no one would want to know me as well as she did.

When I got back home, Best Friend and I were still extremely close. But that year I started developing a few other friendships and expanding my social circle. And when she and I had a relationship-ending battle senior year of high school, I had other people to fall back on for support. Australia taught me that I was a complete person who did not need an ‘&.’ I was not a “Buy One Get One Free” item – I would sell at full price by myself.

Now I am able to see new situations as opportunities. I’m still nervous about meeting new people, but who isn’t? Taking a chance is frightening, but only because you are opening your life up to potential. I never would have known this if I had found that payphone at LAX.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Novel Way of Thinking

As previously discussed, I'm a bit of a nerd. And in true nerd-cliche, I love to read. I mean, LOVE. When I was younger, I volunteered at the local library where they knew me by name. I took a book with me at all times and read in the car even if we were just going to the grocery store. Because of this, when I got my license at 17 I had barely any idea how to get to my friends' houses. My first job was at a Barnes & Noble so I (and my parents) would receive the employee discount.

I've recently started making more time for books again (ahem, less TV watching), and I can't believe how little I've been reading since I graduated from college. Part of this is because I was trying to "expand my mind" with non-fiction, aka non-fun. I couldn't even get through Obama's book when it was all the rage. I just listened closely to other people's conversations in case anyone ever asked me what I thought.

It must be the wanna-be actress in me, I need character development and plot. If a book is even remotely well-written, I can fall head-over-heels in under 20 pages. Right now, I'm reading Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk (this is my 3rd Wouk the past 9 months) and I can hardly put it down. I'm even reading instead of watching the Daily Show at night, and that is really saying something. I read for maybe 6 hours on Sunday, in various locations around the apartment, on the metro, in a park near Dupont Circle, and at Russia House while techno music played in the background. Socially awkward? Perhaps - except that it drew attention and I made a friend as soon as I put the book down.

The truly socially awkward part is that I get stuck in a good book in more than just a metaphorical way. For historical fiction like Wouk's, it takes me some time to shake off the cadences and vernacular of the writing. For example, this book takes place between 1946-1952 (so far) and I find myself thinking in much more refined sentences for an hour or so after putting the book down. I half drove myself nuts when I was 12 and my mom suggested I read Gone With the Wind. My internal monologue had a Southern accent for 3 straight weeks.

So, at the same time that I love that each Wouk book is at least 900 pages so I can get properly invested in each character and situation, maybe I need to find shorter books. I'm almost reading so voraciously for two completely incompatible reasons; on the one hand, I love the book and want to be wrapped up in the story. But on the other hand - if I don't get to the end soon, I'm going to start speaking like a 1940s NYC book editor.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

You're Boring Alex Trebek.

You might be thinking that I forgot a comma in the title of this post, but no - everyone knows Alex Trebek is a ho-hum individual. There's no use in blogging about something that obvious, it's like writing a post about the crazy way that the sky is blue. Even when something potentially awesome happens to that guy, it's still boring. From Wikipedia:
On Friday, January 30, 2004, Trebek escaped major injury after falling asleep behind the wheel of his pickup truck while driving alone on a rural road in the Central Coast town of Templeton, California, returning from a family home in Lake Nacimiento. The truck sideswiped a string of mailboxes, flew 45 feet over an embankment, and came to rest against a utility pole in a ditch. Trebek was not cited for the accident and returned to work taping Jeopardy! the following Tuesday.
What I mean to say is that YOU are boring Alex Trebek, and by YOU I mean WE. Or perhaps more specifically, everyone that has been a contestant on the show in recent years. God, he is so sick and tired of you! Do you see how excited he gets when the Jeopardy categories are themed? In honor of Conan's first night in Leno's Tonight Show spot, the Double Jeopardy subjects were:

Do you get it? "In the Year 2000"? "Triumph"? "Richter"? least he's trying. The contestants didn't even bat an eyelash, they're so focused on the questions that they can't even get a joke (poor though it may be). Trebek's been doing this job a little bit longer than I've been alive. Sure he's Canadian and that automatically makes him 6 times more patient than a red-blooded American, but every one has their tipping point. Do you want to know what really gets his goat?

The Daily Double.

I'll bet he has nightmares of mousy contestants twanging, "Oh...I'll just wager $200, Alex." Really? The question was worth $1600! Where's your sense of adventure? If you showed a lil gumption, it'd make this a real game, not the farce poor Alex has to preside over all the live-long day. This man hungers for a true Daily Double the way a cigarette smoker longs for their next nicotine fix. Watching him goad the contestants to wager their entire earnings is so pathetic...but I guess that's what happens when you have the answers on a card in front of you. You've got to find some way to get your jollies.

Last week, someone caved under the pressure Alex has been asserting for months - if not years - and went for the true Daily Double. 30 seconds later, he's down to $0 in the second round with hardly any time to catch up. And even though it was painful to watch, I was so proud of this guy for biting the bullet and taking one for the Jeopardy contestants of the future. Hopefully, this will hold our dear Canadian game show host over for awhile.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This is Your News...This is Your News on Drugs.

Oh man, I am just flabbergasted by the news lately. I don't pretend to be a news junkie but I am interested in the world around me. I read the crappy free paper every day, I watch The Today Show in the morning (they have a news desk, so I guess that counts), and I check at least once a day at work. At the very least, I'm tuned-in to the world. Here are the latest nuggets of knowledge that have stopped me in my tracks. I'll start small and work my way up to the items that really get me worked up:

NObama: Steelers' Harrison Says He'll Skip White House Visit

James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is refusing to join his teammates on a visit to the White House, at President Obama's invitation. His quote is so amazing that I can't even try to paraphrase it, you'd be missing out:
"This is how I feel -- if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he would've invited Arizona if they had won."
Yes! Of course, you very large, very strong, very obviously suffering-from-mental-acuity-issues-based-on-your-chosen-career-path man! That is PRECISELY why you were invited, and no - you are not psychic - it IS true that Arizona would have been invited if they won. I just....I can't.....auuuuugh!

Patti Blagojevich to Join Show Husband Couldn't

I saw this on The Today Show while getting dressed this morning; it's the reason I was a little late getting out the door. You know what they say about car wrecks - you don't want to watch, but how can you look away? From
A federal judge barred Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges, from being on the NBC show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here" because it would send him out of the country. But his wife, Patti, accepted an offer from the network to appear instead and went to Los Angeles earlier this week to film a promotional shoot, said Glenn Selig, the Blagojevichs' publicist.
My favorite part about this whole thing is that Patti Blagojevich (whose hair is not nearly as luxurious as her husband's, that must kill her a little inside) told Merideth Viera that she was doing this to "pay the mortgage." Good ol'Rod commended her for "going back to work" and making a decision for her children, not for herself.

How on God's green Earth is this work? And if sending yourself to a jungle thousands of miles from your children is for their good, then I think you might have more problems then just putting food on the table. On another topic, when did Patti Blagojevich become a celebrity? If her picture has ever been in People Magazine or Us Weekly, it was probably in a background shot of some political bigwig dinner that she was invited to as Blago's "+1." OMG, I wonder if she was wearing YSL bcz when she was interviewed by the paparazzi at Pinkbery last week, she....oh. Oh, wait. That sentence has never happened/will never happen/wouldn't be spoken about if it did happen. Way to find the cream of the crop, NBC. You should be ashamed....assuming you aren't already.

Credit Card Industry Aims to Profit From Sterling Payers

First, a quote from Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev:

"We stood up for consumers and stood up to abusive credit card companies. We said that big can no longer take advantage of hardworking Americans. We demanded that when Americans use a credit card — as almost everyone does almost every day — they no longer have to fear that they’ll be abused.”
I think I would feel a little more enthusiastic about this fight if it wasn't going to royally screw people like me that prefer to pay off their credit card balance in full. I hate owing people money and, I guess unlike most Americans, try to live within my means. From the second NYTimes article linked:
People who routinely pay off their credit card balances have been enjoying the equivalent of a free ride," says David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, "because many have not had to pay an annual fee even as they collect points for air travel and other perks.

“Despite all the terrible things that have been said, you’re making out like a bandit,” he said. “That’s a third of credit card customers, 50 million people who have gotten a great deal."

Made out like a bandit? I don't take kindly to being compared to a law-breaker for paying my bills in a timely fashion. In the words of Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, “Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems.”

You heard right: a fee for people who pay on time. Where is the motiviation to be debt free? This country is so bass-ackwards.

I know this is getting long, but once you start analyzing the news, it's hard to stop. I guess that's why there are so many political junkies around. Just 2 more, I'll be brief!

Guantanomo Bay/Nancy Pelosi is a Liar
  1. I cannot believe that the Senate, in one of it's first bi-partisan votes of the Obama administration, told the President to take his detainees and stuff'em. What are we supposed to do, go crawling to Europe and ask them to take the illegal-held POWs from the war we pulled them all into in the first place? And why WOULDN'T you want them in America, considering the other options. Do you want to send potentially untrustworthy people back to the countries that instilled these untrustworthy ideas in them? Or would you rather they be surrounded by a maximum security prison wall, in the middle of a cornfield in Kansas? I mean, even if they escape the prison, they're surrounded by people that love the 2nd Amendment and dislike foreigners.
  2. Did she know? Didn't she know? Isn't it ridiculous that one of the biggest news stories this month is whether or not Nancy Pelosi knew about waterboarding? If you think back, you'll remember that this conversation started because liberals were entertaining the idea of taking legal action against members of the Bush Administration that made our worst nightmares come true. The Republicans have filibustered the entire country. Nancy Pelosi's knowledge/ignorance is not a real issue in this discussion. If we were going to indict everyone that knew about torture, we'd be missing half of the political leaders in this country. The question is: who made it happen and who encouraged it?
And lastly...

Obama vs. Cheney

Today, President Obama gave a speech called "American Safety." Former Vice President Dick Cheney
also gave a speech today, called "Keeping America Safe." I really have only one question on this: does anyone remember Cheney giving a speech or interviews during his eight years in office? He's become a huge "get" for guest spots on all the political talk shows, and keeps showing up with scathing sound bites critiquing Obama and the current administration. Just a few months ago, no one even mentioned the name "Dick Cheney" unless it was preceeded with, "Do you think" and followed by "is still alive?" The only thing I recall him doing publicly during the Bush years is blurring the VP compound on Google Earth. Thanks for showing up, Dick.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From the [Toy Closets] of Babes

Little kids are amazing. They are honestly naive and naively honest. Gosh, do you remember being that young and just saying whatever popped into your mind? (Some people don't grow out of that.) When I was three, I walked by my pre-school teacher as she was eating lunch and talking with a colleague. As she rambled on around a huge bite of her sandwich, I looked her straight in the eye and said, "It isn't nice to talk with your mouth full." BAM! Take that, social structure!

In April, my coworker brought one of his sons to the office during Spring Break. My coworker has three great sons, and Devin is the youngest and most talkative. "Talkative" is kind of an understatement, actually. I was once told that "he was talking so much I thought I was going to throw up." That sounded a little harsh to me, but when I met him last month I got the gist.

Devin's dad had told him that I'm a big fan of panda bears, so Devin was explaining a Nintendo DS game he owns that lets you raise a baby panda (or a dog, or a cat - you know, the basic domesticated animals). This sounded pretty good to me, so I mentioned that I might want a DS so I could play, too. Please read the following paragraph without taking a breath, it is the response I got to this innocent idea:

"Yeah? You're not that old but maybe you'll have kids soon. If you have a son someday, you can buy him a Nintendo DS and get him this game. And if he goes to school at the same place where I go to school, ___ ___ Elementary, he'll be gone from 8-3 everyday and when he's at school you can use his Nintendo DS then!"

Hahahaha, really? I feel like that would be very delayed gratification. Not only would I have to fall in love, get married, conceive a child, and move to a new town, I'd also have to wait another 7 years after all that for the kid to obtain the dexterity required for a handheld gaming device. But it was said so matter-of-factly that I couldn't help but agree. I mean, to an 8 year old boy, there's no logical reason for a woman (which is weird for me to call myself, I still feel like a kid but it's all relative...) to buy herself a gaming system. I have cooties and such, and people with cooties don't own cool things like Nintendo DS-es.

In a nutshell, this kid is extremely endearing. Definitely pulled the ol' heartstrings.

A few weeks later, it was an especially crappy Monday morning - I'd been at work until 3:30am that morning, and was back in at 9:30am. I was seriously trudging through the day when I walked by my coworker's office and he says, "Hold on, this is for you." He hands me a blue gift bag and inside is a WebKinz Panda Bear and a folded up note. Devin had two of the same WebKinz toy, so he asked his dad to please give me his extra one. My heart just about melted. Then, I opened my note and saw this:

That is possibly the sweetest AND scariest thing anyone has ever drawn for me. It's taped up on my desk for all to see. And of course, I had to reciprocate in kind, so I got through the day by sneaking in art-recess whenever I could:

You should be jealous of my wide array of Sharpie markers.

I can't even explain how much this improved my day. It was so selfless and unnecessary and most of all, nice. Of course, Devin didn't remember my name - he told his dad to give it to "the girl at your office that likes pandas" - but that's besides the point. It's just one of those things that kids do without analyzing to death - they just act.

Meanwhile, this is actually the third WebKinz panda I own. I dunno, people just give me these things as gifts. Now how much of an ass do I feel like for having spares and not donating them to other panda-lovers?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Note to Self:

Key word searches work for everyone, especially when you have Google Key Word Alerts....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Warranty Services Review Fraud

Oh, key words. Here here! for the internet and the way it allows everyone's opinion to potentially matter. American. Warranty. Services. Review. Fraud. Scam. Warning.

Here's the (final?) update on my idiotic turn last week. The day after I was pressured into putting a $294 down payment on an 18month contract with $92 monthly payments, I called the company back to cancel. The naive-sounding receptionist told me that my "agent" would have to call me back with some information to cancel the account. Super duper. Surprisingly, he called a few hours later and asked why I was cancelling. "Because I hate my car," I said (which is largely true). He laughs - dunno what's so funny in all this - and says he needs a reason to write down.
"Like, is it too expensive?"
"Sure, you can write down that it was too
expensive if you'd like."

Even though Anthony called me back knowing I wanted to cancel my account, he hadn't taken the effort to find the mysterious address I needed in order to cancel. Was I driving to an undisclosed location? It remained to be seen. So now he was going to have to call me back with the right information. This time, I didn't get a call.

While I waited, I called Capital One to contest the charge that had shown up on my transaction history online. They were great. Basically, since I had already contacted the company to try to cancel my account, they were able to put an immediate freeze on the transaction and created my account for the down payment. They were sending me a form to fill out and, as long as I sent it back in three weeks, they'd be able to process the complaint. Thank you, Capital One!

The next day, I called my dear, fraudulent friends at American Warranty Services to say, "WTF, mate?" The same, lost-in-the-wilderness receptionist took my call. I reported that I hadn't received the address I needed and she immediately provided it. Almost as if she had it on hand! Imagine! (Note: the address is the company's address. Seriously, Anthony, you had to call me back with that information? Don't you know where you supposedly drive to work each day?) I told her I was trying to cancel and asked to speak to a manager. Now I'm on the phone with the company GM who immediately goes into the hard sell. In the immortal words of George W. "Dubya" Bush: "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool, you can't fool me again." Feeling angry and fueled by the sweet gasoline of justice, I said, "Stop. I don't want you to try and change my mind. I just. Want. To cancel. My account." Now he needed to write down a reason. I told him he could write whatever he wanted to say, I didn't care.
"Well, did you feel like you were being sca--"
"Yes. Yes I felt like I was being scammed."

The GM informs me that only the agent I worked with can cancel my account. Like I give two craps who cancels my account. And now I have to wait for Anthony to call me. When he does, he offers up the address like I should be proud of him for finding it. Great, Agent Anthony - what do I do with the address? Oh. I have to wait for the policy to come in the mail and then send it back with a letter explaining why I want to cancel and my current mileage. My current mileage? Why? ::stumble stumble grasp at straws:: Whatever, I'll give them the info because there is no WAY they are going to keep my account going b/c I didn't give them all the information they asked for.

If I was ever on the fence about whether or not American Warranty Services was a scam, a fraudulent company, a pox on the American public, this "cancellation policy" really sealed the deal. In this glorious age of computers and technology, you don't have my policy in some sort of database with a cancel option? I have to wait 9 days for the policy to come my way and then send it back? Sounds to me like you're trying to drag out the process so you have time for at least one monthly payment.

So, I've filled out my complaint with Capital One, and I've written an extremely scathing and accusatory email to American Warranty Services demanding the immediate cancellation of my policy. Hopefully, that'll be the last of this chapter in the saga of my gullibility.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Don't Scam So Close To Me

Well, I was hemming and hawing about blogging about this at the risk of looking stupid. But I think it might be more important to warn others than to preserve my credibility in the blog-o-sphere. Hah, those two words look silly in the same sentence.

Besides, I'm upset and I've obviously already taken a bigger, stupider risk in the past 24hrs. Here goes.

A little background: I hate my car. It's not really the car's fault, per se - it usually runs well and is a comfortable, fairly new vehicle. But it causes me nothing but strife. To wit: the 4months it took to register in Virginia, the 12months to straighten out said registration because I live in neither Fairfax County NOR the fair state of Massachusetts, and of course, weekly parking issues that have been known to make me cry. The details of this situation are often hilarious (in hindsight only) and add up to me hardly EVER using my car. Which is 2x as expensive as it should be, also adding to my angst. Oh, Pasquale. I didn't even name you well.

For the past two weeks, I've been missing a call from an unfamiliar number. The few times I've gotten to my phone in time, I just miss the caller and they never leave a voice mail. Last night, I happened to be holding the phone in my hand when this number rang through and found myself in a very confusing, frustrating, 40 minute phone call about my car's warranty.

The fast talking dude on the other end of the line knew a lot about me - my full mailing address, name, phone number (duh), and the year, make, and model of my car. He was calling on behalf of my dealership because my warranty was running out. This was my final call because, according to him, I had been sent seven postcards warning me that my warranty was about to default. I've never received these mailings but my mail isn't the most reliable.

It's hard to explain all that went on, but the reason the conversation was over half an hour long was because I was really uncomfortable about what I was being told/sold. The problem is that I don't actually know anything about my car lease, but it seemed unlikely that I would purchase a 4yr lease with a 2-1/2 year warranty. But this was my "last chance" to respond, and I had to decide that night or I'd have no warranty for the remainder of my lease. I'm not very savvy financially and I didn't want to make a mistake. Warranties sound important. So after verifying 3 times that I could cancel within 30 days and not have to pay a dime.....I gave him my credit card information.

Even the idea of having to pay another $100/month on this life-burden of mine was obnoxious. But the impression that I was being swindled made me even more uncomfortable. I searched the company online - American Warranty Services is NOT listed by the Better Business Bureau and their website looks like crap. Their "testimonials" could not be more fake. So, finally making a smart move, I called my car company to ask if they had heard of this warranty company. Major props to Volkswagen, the woman I spoke with was extremely nice and calming. She did some research and called me back within 5 minutes so I wouldn't have to wait on hold.

Unfortunately, warranties go through the dealer, not the national company. So while she didn't have information on American Warranty Services (or Warranty America or Warranty Services), it doesn't necessarily mean that they are a fake company. It just means they don't contract through Volkswagen of America. Next, I called my credit card company and told them I suspected fraud. The charge hasn't processed completely yet - although it is there, and is the same amount they told me - so I can't contest it yet. But I will.

I just called Warranty Services to try to cancel my new policy, and was told a manager would call me back. I'm not holding my breath, but I at least got a name. I'll update this post with the end result. If this company is legitimate, I should have no problem cancelling without paying a dime. If they aren't, I'll work with my credit card company and the Better Business Bureau.

As of right now, it's all very ambiguous. I can't slander this company because I truly have no idea what the straight skinny is - except for the fact that my leased vehicle is most likely not operating with an expired warranty and the pit in my stomach hasn't gone away.

I know this was stupid, please don't bother leaving a post to reiterate that fact. This is just another item I'm adding to my "things they don't teach you in college list" - a post for another day.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring is in the Air - Blech!

Finally, finally March is over. What a terrible horrible no-good very bad month that was. I had problems with my taxes, car trouble, chaos at work...March basically came in like a lion and didn't turn into a lamb until the 31st.

So! I am not taking the month of April for granted. Doesn't the word April even sound better than "March"? March. Feh.

In the spirit of loving April, I walked out of my apartment on Wednesday and took a deeeeeep breath of the new month's air - and almost choked on the wretched stink of fertilizer. Oh my lord, I think Arlington County must have a serious, non-negotiable contract with Consolidated Manure or whomever it is that is putting fresh, stinky dirt all over the city. I was hit with the same stench when I left the gym the other night as well. It's a tough odor to block out, and it's everywhere.

The only thing worse than the smell of fertilizer is the olfactory assault of a Ginkgo tree's "fruit." While fertilizer can be justified as recycling! or step 1 to beautiful flowers!, the Ginkgo tree has no redeeming qualities. It just grows these round, green balls that drop to the ground when they're ripe. And MAN, are they ripe. If you step in one, the stench follows you around for awhile.

(EW! I interrupt this post for this incredibly unexpected and revolting news brief: while searching for an image of the ginkgo tree's stink bombs, I found that people COOK WITH THEM. Good heavens, people - just because you are physically able to do something does NOT mean you should!)


Anyway, I am something of a Ginkgo expert, except I don't think many experts hate the thing they specialize in. What can I say, I'm ground-breaking. I've known their stink since the tender age of 4, when I walked to elementary school and had to dance around the mines littering the ground near the Ginkgo tree in front of the old Victorian house on the corner. This continued every spring and fall until 6th grade, when I took the bus to middle school. But, alas! I walked to high school and passed the very same tree. And now, there is a Ginkgo tree right in front of my apartment building. Just to spite me, I'm sure.

Even though I am considerably older and more mature (at least, I sure hope I am), I still dance around the ginkgo stinkbombs pretty much exactly the same way I did when I was four. I gotta hand it to that tree, it really keeps me on my toes. Literally. And sure my neighbors might stare a little, but at least my sneakers don't smell...on the bottom anyway. Besides, we should all dance in public more than we currently do, even if it is to avoid droppings on the sidewalk. Maybe the ginkgo tree is helping me express my love for this new month and new season by putting me in a dancing mood.

Or maybe it just smells.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Try, Try Again

Gosh durnit. The fancy new layout was lookin' saaaweeeeet, until a friend informed me that my comments were disabled. Obviously, the code I used for the template was en EspaƱol y HTML, two languages I am only just passable in. Like, I can get to the bathroom in Mexico and strike out words, but please don't ask me to give you directions on cascading style sheets or how to get to the biblioteca.

Don't be surprised if the layout changes a few more times - I'm a girl on a mission.

Monday, March 23, 2009

So Uncool It's...Hot?

I just got back from dinner with a friend, and I cannot believe some of the things that came out of my mouth tonight. Separately, none of these thoughts are particularly nerdy. Together, though, and I'm suddenly battling Violet for the rights to Samuel "Screech" Powers' heart. Oh, good; apparently, I am still in rare form.

On why I'd like to go to grad school: "I really miss doing research and writing papers."

On the book I'm reading: "It's about the presidents' speechwriters since FDR. It's so boring, but I love it."

And, finally, on doing taxes: "I tried doing them online and I loved filling in all the answers from the 1099s...."

I think there was something else, but I've already dug myself a pretty big hole. I think I'll put down the shovel.

Friday, March 20, 2009

5 Bucks Says Your Officemate ISN'T Doing This

My company is working on a really unique campaign - as we get down to the final week of the project, the chances of walking in on an employee playing with crayons has increased exponentially. But it's not slacking off, or reverting to the safety of childhood (though I think we could all use that). This is legitimate work.

This week, my officemate has been hoarding glass pitchers and jars from the kitchen here, which is just another random activity for this campaign that appears abnormal and time-wasting out of context. As I walked to the kitchen today, I realized that something smelled truly amazing - and the Lean Cuisine lunch brigade doesn't have that kind of affect on the hallway. There was my fellow office-denizen (who moonlights as a bartender in Georgetown) slicing up fruits and creating an olfactory delight:

Yes, he is making infused drinks for a campaign event on Tuesday night in DC. Alcoholic drinks. I feel fairly confident that no one else's office colleague is doing this today at work. I'd put money on it - although I also put money on my NCAA bracket and I'm not even a skotch confident about that one.

PS: If you want info on where you can taste these amazing concoctions, drop me a line - it's a charity event for a GREAT cause.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Parades, Part II: Girl Stereotypes

This weekend I went to Old Town for the St. Patrick's Day parade. I don't go to Alexandria often, and I'm always a little overwhelmed by the stark contrast with Arlington. My current hometown teems with young 20-somethings, most of whom are on the prowl, whereas Alexandria is like the next chapter in the book on growing up. Everyone has a dog, a baby in a stroller, or - as I happened to witness at least 2x on Saturday - dogs in strollers. It's a weird world over there.

Speaking of dogs though, I gotta say I just don't get the rationale behind dog clothing. It's one girl stereotype I just don't really get. Maybe when I have more disposable income, I'll be intereted in buying teeny sweaters and raincoats for a Shih Tzu but right now it's just a little left of absurd. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I must admit that I am trying to expand my knitting skillz past scarves, hats, and arm or leg warmers. The first sweater I make will probably be for my mom's miniature poodle; I have this awesome pattern for a grey sweater with a shark fin on it and I figure it's small enough that I won't get discouraged and give up. And Cassidy, bless his little puppy dog heart, will do pretty much anything for attention. He's the ultimate lap dog and I think that explains why a few summers ago, I had absolutely no trouble getting him to sit still for this:

Eh, dogs are colorblind anyway.

But, there is one female stereotype that I cannot fight - there is something about a man in uniform that just drives my gender wild, and I'm not immune to that one. There are of course lines of distinction. For example, the image on the left does a lot more for me than the image on the right. God Bless America - but the one in 2009 more so than the one from 1789.

Just like the dogs in clothes, though, men in uniform are much more "look" than "touch" to me. Nifty little dating cliches like "Don't trust a man with two first names" and "Never date a man in uniform" come with correlating tales of caution to back them up. Like the really hot cop in my town that was at all the pre-prom safety events for my senior year. He was hot enough that he still came up in conversation on college summer break - especially the year he was in the newspaper for severely injuring his mother with brute force. It would only have been better if his name was John Davis or Steve Craig.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Forever Blowing Bubbles

Today was definitely not a contender for "Best Day Ever." It really didn't even make it through the qualifying rounds. I've got some ish to deal with, and it's not enjoyable. It's also made me think about a whole slew of other topics that I've been pretty good at compartmentalizing for the last year and a half, so I've had a hard time concentrating. I went to the gym after work, hoping that I could run out the blues, but it didn't really do the trick. Still feeling blah when I got home, I decided a long hot shower was in order. As I stood there in one of the most stereotypical "girl depressed while standing in shower" poses, I reached for my face wash and realized that, no matter how down-in-the-dumps I may be, I cannot resist blowing bubbles with soap.

To be fair, this is not just any soap. For some reason, this Biore face wash can't help but be the bubbliest soap you've ever had the pleasure of lathering. I found this out while washing my face and merely breathing...and thus creating a ridiculous soap bubble. Ever since, it's been impossible to get through my morning routine without blowing at least one soapy circle. And there I was, taking a depressed-shower, and fighting the urge to blow a bubble. I lost.

I guess as bad as I feel, there will always be that part of me that takes pleasure in the littlest of things. It's the hint of optimism that won't leave my pessimism alone. It's one of the reason I identify myself as an Optimistic Pessismist. Bad shit's gonna happen - but, oh, what if it didn't?!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The sky is falling, DC, the sky is falling!

By now, I've become accustomed to a certain amount of fear-mongering in my nightly news broadcast. It's the trendiest trend in news teasers and usually goes a little something like-a this:
"Tonight, at 5: is your pet killing your children? Tune in to find out, only on Channel 7."
" Could you contract a rare, incurable disease from fabric softener? Channel 2 has the answer, tonight at 6."

Ridiculous, of course, but I imagine it's a real ratings-booster or these topics would be a thing of the past. It's a shame that I've gotten used to news anchors trying to give me goosebumps, but it's more shameful that reporters seem to have misplaced their journalistic integrity (note: it's always in the last place you look).

Part of me wants to launch into a rant on the 24-hour news cycle, but I have to restrain myself. Perhaps another day. This post is about the blatant, enthusiastic, and - most importantly - mostly erroneous over-reporting committed by the most hated of all newscasters......the weatherperson.

My dad has never met a weatherman he likes. He's switched allegiances from NBC to CBS and back many a time just because he hates "that smiling asshole." Well, they're all smiling assholes, Dad. It's probably in the job description.

Living in the DC-metro area has added a whole new level of distaste for me, though. The weather people here cannot get over the fact that, gasp!, there is weather! And it's different, like, every day. They really shine, though, when there is a threat of extreme conditions. Take yesterday, for example.

My roommate informed me at about 2pm that our area was expecting 6-8 inches of snow. For DC, that's a huge deal since there are probably 6 plows in the entire DC-metro area (and maybe 4 people who know how to operate them). While watching TV last night, every. single. commercial break had a teaser urging me to watch the nightly news broadcast for the latest on this impending storm.

My first thought? SNOW DAY! Even though I did nothing (and I mean nothing) on Sunday, the chance not do anything again was intoxicating. And every single teaser and report was sending that same, subliminal message: "You are gonna get to stay home tomorrow. Break out the hot cocoa and marshmallows!"

Thankfully, I've been down here long enough to realize that the chance of any real snow fall was slim, no matter how many times Smiley McStormChaser informed me that the chance of precipitation over 4 inches was "100%." So I went to bed fully prepared for work on Monday, even though I was dreaming of snow angels.

Surprisingly, a good three inches of powder had accumulated when I woke up. But sure enough, when I called the emergency hotline for my office this morning, we were open. If I still lived in Boston, I wouldn't have even bothered to call anyone at my office; I would have just grumbled a little and gone out to my car to defrost the windshield. In the Northeast, weather is weather. It's gonna happen every day, and so is your commute. But in DC, weather is a phenomenom and should not be reckoned with. Average snowfall in this area is 17" but it doesn't ever come all at once....even though the weather reporters really want you to think it will next time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I love a parade!

Yesterday, I got stuck in the Clarendon Mardi Gras parade on my walk home from the gym. In this case, "stuck" means that instead of just planning my workout so I'd be on the elliptical machine for all of Jeopardy as usual, I also made sure I'd be walking home along the parade route when the festivities began. I couldn't help myself.

I've never actually experienced a Mardi Gras parade before - it's not quite as big a holiday in the Northeast. This one was pretty dinky, to be honest, but the people outside on the parade route had not been clued into this fact. They were shouting and dancing and calling for beads like they were actually in New Orleans. Little kids were wearing so many beads it looked like they were walking a bit bow-legged from the weight. I think my favorite float - if you can call it that - was the Red Top Cab company. Their contribution to the parade consisted of 2 of their cabs, decorated with a single strand of beads wrapped on each door handle. Way to catch the spirit!

But the best part - with no sarcasm this time - was the marching band that brought up the rear of the 2o minute parade. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the high school - I think I have to start carrying a camera at all times to properly augment this blog. Anywhosville, they kicked some serious ass. They had attitude. They had a kickin' drum core just oozing rhythm. They had a great sound. Basically, they had everything my high school marching band didn't.

I am a band-geek-wannabe. I love anything that has to do with teamwork and harmony (and harmonizing) so I should have loved marching band. My brother had a great time in our high school's band - but by the time I got there, the director that my bro had respected and admired had pretty much given up on teaching. The marching band consisted of 12 people, all forced to be there in order to pass band class and stay in concert or jazz band. I seriously contemplated trying out to be the kicker for the football team, since that was the only way out of this ridiculous obligation. We didn't even really march - we did what is unaffectionately known as "park and play." Walk out to the middle of the field, find your spot, stand still and blow. Boy, did we blow.

But when I see videos like this, or watch dumb movies like Drumline, I can't look away and my heart races in time to the cadence. If you ever thought band geeks were the uncoolest of the cool, you were wrong. That honor is reserved for people like me, who kinda wish they were band geeks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I love advertising, it gives us crap like this:

What a ridiculous waste of time this was - thank you Samsung, for being absurd and making my day.

Samsung UltraTouch's Gratuitous Use of Cute

Can you believe that people get paid to make this stuff? Lordy, do I wish it was me...

Friday, February 20, 2009


My internet presence is a little out of control these days. I have a Facebook page, a (completely abandoned and unwanted) MySpace account, a Twitter...whatever it is you have on Twitter, GChat, iChat for work, and this brand spanky-new blog. Even though I have waaaaaay too much connectivity, I wish for one more...

I miss AIM.

My dad always made sure that our family was an early-adapter to all technological improvements of the 1990s. We were the first people I knew to have a DVD player - which I consider a risky move, seeing as it could have easily gone the way of BetaMax. So, I was hip to AOL before AOL was hip. Ya dig? I've had the same screenname since I was 11 years old, which explains the emotional attachment I have with those 9 alphanumeric characters. Like a stage name, it is my World Wide Web name.

Actually - and this could will come across as lame - one of my best friends in middle school was someone from Georgia I met in an AOL theater chatroom. First of all: leave me alone, it was middle school and my glasses/braces/frizzy hair combination was quite the obstacle to overcome. Secondly, no, he was not a 45 year old man that wanted me to do naughty things. This was in the beginning of AOL - people hadn't figured out you could use the internet like that yet. I loved talking to him because he wasn't involved in any of my 7th grade drama. We're now friends on Facebook and have NOTHING in common, hah. Our political views are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum and while he had big dreams of being an actor in NYC someday, he is now the eternal Southern Frat-Guy that would probably get killed in the first 20minutes of Scary Movie 6.

But these days, AIM is a thing of the past. I have barely anyone on my buddy list because people don't really exchange their screennames any more. I don't really talk to the people that ARE on there, either. When I first moved to DC two summers ago, I looked at my very short "DC People" section and thought, "Soon this list won't be so depressingly small." But it's pretty much the same, while my Gchat can be overwhelming.

Lately, my AIM won't recognize that my screenname is supposed to be in lowercase letters. Every time I sign on, I have to go to EDIT--> Screen Name Format and re-type it. It drives me nuts. It makes me angry that the program doesn't remember me from log-in to log-in. And it's made me re-evaluate my use of AIM. Why am I even logging in? Almost everyone I'd want to chat with is on Gchat.

So it's not really AIM itself that I'm hesitant to give up - it's the Away Message. I view Gchat Status more like a Facebook update. I don't feel comfortable logging onto Gchat and walking away, which was my M.O. for AIM. And I do really love away messages. I've always seen them as mini-advertisements for myself. Considering the fact that I went to school to be a copywriter and now work in print production, it's one of the few chances I have to practice my craft.

I guess it's time to grow up, though. Goodbye, AIM, it's been a long friendship. But you've changed, too - you're all about playing games and you have even forgotten how I spell my name. I think it's finally over between us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Upstaged on Broadway

Exhibit A: Oliver Platt
Film/TV credits include:
  • Frost/Nixon

  • "The West Wing"

  • The Ice Harvest

  • Kinsey

  • Dr. Doolittle

  • Bulworth

  • A Time to Kill

Exhibit B: Craig Bierko
Film/TV credits include:

  • "Unhitched" <-- did you miss this one? I caught an episode centering around a girl's retch-worthy "skin flap." Honestly, how did that not last?

  • Superhero Movie

  • "Boston Legal"

  • Scary Movie 4

  • Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (with the man-child only Heather Locklear could love, David Spade)

  • "Sex & the City" - that guy that loved jazz music and played Carrie like a bass cello

Somehow, these two guys ended up in Guys & Dolls together on Broadway. Seriously, small world! and all the other theatre websites don't actually mention Bierko at all - when I first walked into the Nederlander on 41st and saw his name, I thought Craig Bierko was the guy from the "Hercules" series (tsk, you can't take Hercules away from Kevin Sorbo! It's all he has!). Top billing goes to Oliver Platt - whom I truly love as the intelligent, self-deprecating sidekick character actor - and Lauren Graham, best known as the mom from "Gilmore Girls."

When Oliver Platt first stepped on stage as Nathan Detroit, the crowd was given time to applaud his famosity...famousness...and we took advantage of the opportunity. The same went for Lauren Graham as Adelaide. Applause all around! Except...when Craig Bierko made his entrance as Sky Masterson, there was ample time for a round of recognition applause. Instead, everyone kind of sat uncomfortably, wondering if any one else in the audience was thinking of clapping. Yeouch.

It's a crazy thing to say, given all the evidence piled against him, but Craig Bierko kicked Oliver Platt's Broadway bottom. Platt barely even phoned it in - for example, the choreography was composed around him since he's not quite what you would call "nimble." But, Bierko was on fire. In fact, he was pretty durn hot. Clad in a white suit and matching hat, he salsa danced in the Cafe Havana scene, pretty much sweeping Sister Sarah the Missionary and the audience off their feet. He was a true show-stealer!

Thankfully, he got the ovation he deserved at the curtain call. Since I went to Guys & Dolls specifically to see Oliver Platt, I was a bit disappointed in the show overall. As a person who was literally dragged to see Scary Movie 4 and spent the time checking my watch, it's hard to believe I'm saying this, but: Thank heavens Craig Bierko was there to save the night!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not Such a G'Day

It isn't often that Australia is a hot topic in American news, but the massive wildfires this past weekend have received a lot of media coverage. I am shocked by the severity of these fires and their widespread destruction - and the idea that it could have been arson is just infuriating.


I am having a REALLY hard time reading articles about these wildfires without "hearing" the quotes in my head in a thick, Aussie accent. It's really taking away from the gravity of the situation. Today's newspaper quote is from Jon Rowden, the president of a wildlife rescue group: "There's no doubt across that scale of landscape and given the intensity of the fires, millions of animals would have been killed."

That is a terrible and sad quote. Still, I couldn't even type it just now without my brain converting it into a pretty dismal recreation of an Australian lilt. For shame.

Also, I just realized I made an unintentional pun to start this post. That's not helping!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I miss recess.

It is disturbingly beautiful outside right now. Disturbing because it shouldn't be 68 degrees in DC three days before Valentine's Day. But still - beautiful! I want to take a walk, or go play soccer in a park, or just find a bench and read a book.

Alas, such is the life of a Dilbert-esque adult. I am fortunate enough to be in an office with a window. Until I was hoisted up a rung on the corporate ladder a few months ago, I sat in the middle of a hallway - at least I didn't have to deal with a cubicle and those gray, fuzzy Office Space walls. Still, said window doesn't open so I am just looking out at the world and lusting for a breeze.

I wish there was such a thing as office recess. If I was a partner in a company, I'd send an email like this:

To: All Employees
RE: Seize the Day!

In case you were not aware, the weather outside is divine. Please stop what you are doing and take 45 minutes to walk around and breathe fresh air. Hula hoops and playground balls are available at the receptionist's desk.

The Partners

This office could really benefit from a four-square championship. I'm a little rusty, but I bet it's just like riding a bike. Oh - what a great day for a bike ride, too!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sleepless on Sundays

Every Sunday night, I toss and I turn. It doesn't matter if I stayed up late on Friday or Saturday or went to bed early....or if I slept in that morning or got up early. I just can't turn off my brain on Sunday nights. Maybe it's from 48hours of minimum mental exertion; whatever the reason, it's annoying. Most times, I try to plan out the outfit I'll wear the next day, since that can save me about 5 minutes in the morning. And chances are good I will hit snooze one too many times if I don't fall asleep until 2 a.m.

Last night, I spent some time thinking about all the hare-brained inventions I'd love to patent one day. I've actually looked into it and boy, is that prohibitively expensive! I'd have to be rich off of one of my inventions before I could afford to patent one of my ideas...wait, what? I have 4 or 5 notions rattling around in this noggin' of mine that I really think could bring home the bacon. I already missed out on one - in my sophomore year of college, I made up a beer with "Cold Pak Technology" that kept a 40oz beer cold longer than any beer on the market. A year and a half later, Coors Lite came out with a product that was pretty much the same thing. (Coincidence that my advertising professor had connections to the beer industry? You tell me....) I don't think they make it any more, so maybe of all the ideas to miss out on, that was the one.

But if you ever happen to meet someone who works for Hanes/Fruit of the Loom...or RCA, or the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company...maybe you could let them know I have an idea that will knock their socks off! In the meantime, I'll just be lying awake on Sunday nights, thinking of more crazy products to improve the world....and wondering if the sweater I want to wear on Monday is clean.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Coffee Talk

My company is nice enough to provide us with an endless supply of free Green Mountain coffee. After a year and a half here, I've never swayed from my Colombian Free Trade K-Cup; it is presumably good for the world economy and, as an added bonus, tastes like coffee and not sludge.

But every morning, when I reach into the Colombian Free Trade caddy, I pull out French Roast. And then another French Roast. French Roast. French Roast. French Roast. French Roast. I start making little K-cup pyramids of all of these mis-stored coffees in my anger. You cannot mess with a girl's coffee - mess with me all you like AFTER I've had my coffee, but don't mess with my coffee!

Today, I gave in. Something in the depths of my being urged me to try the French Roast. And I am extremely ashamed to report that it was delicious. Completely blows away the Colombian I've been slurping down for 18 months....

It seems all along the Coffee Gods were telling me, "Try the French Roast - you won't regret it." But I do - I do regret it. I wish I'd never known what I was missing....