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Reflections on 2010 (Boys, Running, and Chocolate)

Dec 31, 2010

Today is the last day of 2010, and therefore I must reflect. And make New Year's resolutions.

2010's resolutions were as follows:

1) Buy more Aveda products, they rock! I did buy more Aveda products, and I also found out they will give you free hand, back, and neck massages when you do. Hell-O! Kind to the environment and my tired muscles? Plus their tea is the best ever. And many of my purchases contribute to charities. Don't know how you get more win-win that that.

2) Flatten stomach so I don't have to starve myself before an event. Well that didn't quite happen. I actually got down to close to what I was before the doughnut fatness, but after I sprained my ankle this summer I stopped exercising altogether. I knew I was getting squishy, but I still came close to tears the last time I stood on the scale at the doc's office. A week later, when I had to pray during a wedding ceremony, I decided the extra weight was okay. I wore a conservative Banana Republic dress but still looked very Christina Hendricks in it.

Tasteful cleavage, right?
“It's not fair to do that to the boys,” my mother told me when I tried it on for her.
“Mother, I'm almost 30 years old,” I reasoned. “If they can't handle it by now then it's their problem for not stepping up to the plate to try to get a piece of it. Besides, you gave me this tasteful cleavage.”
Then I turned around and shot her scandalous look.
“Not to mention my luscious...”
“Oh no, I didn't give you that thing. I don't know where that came from.”
She made me wear a cardigan she'd preemptively bought anyway. And my cardigan got more compliments than my dress.
You've got. To be kidding me.
The point is, I tried to get a flat stomach, and maybe it's just never going to happen. I'm officially into womanhood, birthing hips be damned, and I've learned to just throw those Victoria's Secret catalogs in the trash instead of thinking I might purchase something and end up hating my body instead. However, exercise is a good thing, and I got back to the gym last weekend. I decided not to wait till the new year. Whether I lose poundage or not, it sure does make me feel better, and that matters most. So I resolve to keep it up and not have unrealistic expectations when it comes to my body.
3) Develop a cache of zingy comebacks for jerky boys.  I may never be good at this.  I am too honest with too little sass and when I do lose my temper I'm all over the place and usually just start crying out of frustration.  So maybe that's just not my thing.  But I did learn this year that I will always be true to myself.  When a relationship with a doctor got too much about what the guy wanted in a wife and not enough about what I could offer in a fledgling relationship, I told him that it was over and didn't look back.  Same with Cute Boy -- he wanted to quit his job and travel (and wanted me to do the same and focus on my writing) -- so I told him I wasn't the girl for him, ate a lot of Co Co. Sala, and got on with my life.  The Man Search will probably continue until I find Mr. Maybe, but I sure as heck am not going to settle.  And if I need a zingy comeback then the boy isn't worth my time anyway.  Besides, that's what I have The Roomie for (think Suzanne and Julia Sugarbaker).
4) Brush up on Spanish.  You never know when you'll need it!  I don't think that was a resolution so much as a suggestion to myself.  Maybe next year. 
5) EAT MORE CHOCOLATE!  Absolutely.  This summer I gained the Foursquare mayorship at Co Co. Sala and haven't given it up.  They recently opened a chocolate boutique, which means I have more reasons to visit.  AND I found out this year that I'm no longer allergic to strawberries, and it turns out chocolate covered ones are diviiiiiiiiiiiiine.  Don't think I'll have a problem keeping up this goal in 2011.
So I guess I did okay in 2010.  Next year I mostly want to focus on getting in shape, getting back into running, and getting a t-shirt from some kind of race.  My cousin Stacie started similarly a couple of years ago due to a bet with some friends -- whoever lost the most BMI by the end of the year would get a plane ticket to Colorado for a ski trip.  What she found out was she could do more than lose BMI -- she could run 5Ks, 10-milers, and eventually a marathon.  Now she's training for Iron Man next year.  With DC being named the fittest city in the nation this year, perhaps I'm jumping on the bandwagon because it's trendy.  But Stacie proved to me that a fleeting thought can turn into a lifestyle, and I intend to follow her example.

And you people get to hold me accountable.  :)

Happy New Year!

So maybe unicorns do exist? Possibly?

Dec 29, 2010

Almost two weeks ago I blogged about a Twitter conversation about unicorns that led to a popular local dating blogger (DateMeDC) inviting me to her monthly happy hour with a Single, Straight, and Employed Man Guarantee.  After my own depressing pointless why do I even bother? efforts to find Mr. Maybe, I figured another happy hour couldn't hurt.  Plus, I'd get to meet a few bloggers whose blogs I heart, and it's always a good thing to go to an event where you don't know one person and are forced to get over yourself and talk to strangers. 

This all began with the obvious easy way out: online dating.  I don't pay for that stuff anymore, so I signed up on OkCupid this summer but abandoned it when I met Cute Boy.  I returned to my account to find a decent number of messages, most from guys I would never go out with.  Too old.  Too short.  Too little hair.  Too much hair.  Too foreign.  Too creepy.  Too naked.  Too Jersey Shore.  Too picky?  Nah.

There was one who seemed normal, and we'll call him Astronaut Mike Dexter to preserve his identity.  The Roomie perused messages from potential dates with me one night, and when I opened up Astronaut Mike Dexter's she said, "Astronauts suck!  Ask him why he's an astronaut." He wrote back: "I've traveled to the moon a couple of times and enjoyed the work.  So tell your roommate astronauts don't suck."  (Note: This wasn't the actual conversation, she doesn't actually think astronauts suck, and we all know the moon is made of cheese and no one has ever actually been there, but you get the gist.)  Shortly after that the conversation fizzled.  My most hopeful lead on Mr. Maybe and I didn't even get to meet him.

That's when I started getting out more often to places where single men congregated.  But that wasn't working either.  Discouraged?  Yes.  Giving up?  Never!  So when DateMeDC told me to come to her happy hour I mustered up some hopefulness, put together a cute outfit (but not too cute, down-to-earth is always better than smokin' hot), and cabbed over to the Mad Hatter in Dupont.  (P.S. It's officially too cold to walk more than three blocks so I cab a lot these days, and it's getting expensive.  Anyone want to buy my car so I can cut out my parking expenses?)   

That morning I'd heard on the radio that women should have five criteria in a man and then compromise beyond that.  I'd decided mine were Single, Straight, Employed, Taller than Me, and Christian.  I told myself if someone met these (I could find out at least three of the criteria in an initial conversation without being terribly offensive) I had to open my mind a little and give it a shot.  But every guy I met was too something.  Right as I was about to resign myself to being alone forever because I'd gotten too picky in my old age, DateMeDC appeared.  "Your unicorn is on the way, he's late because he's serving people dinner at a homeless shelter.  Oh, and he played water polo in college.  And I don't set him up with many girls because he's too good of a guy, but I've read your blog and I think you'll get along well."

HA.  What-EV.  He'll have a lazy eye, or a crooked front tooth, or a wart, or too big of a chin, or something that will turn me off. 

But when she finally brought him around to meet me, he had none of those things.  And by the way, he's single, straight, has a really cool job, definitely taller than me, is a preacher's son and doesn't seem all that rebellious, and he runs triathlons to boot.  That's right, ladies, I was standing before the mythical Eligible Man. 

We began talking and right away he offered to buy me a drink.  We were laughing, having smart, witty conversation, making lots of eye contact, no awkward silences...I mean, you'd think this would be a good thing, but after my month of meeting d-bags it was a little bit eerie. 

But don't worry, he had a bomb to drop, and he finally clued me in.

"So I have a confession to make," he said, looking at me apologetically.  "DateMeDC sent me a link to your blog..."

And there it was.  He thought I was boy crazy and full of myself and generally insane.  But wait...he was talking to me, so maybe not?

"...and I have a question for you.  Did you and your roommate ever clear up the argument about whether astronauts rocked or sucked?"

Hrm.  "Did I blog about that?"


Uhhh... "Did I tweet about that?"


"Then how...?"

"I'm Astronaut Mike Dexter."  And then a devious, very handsome smile crept across his face, and my face turned bright red. 

Turns out he recognized me when he went to my blog.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is called fate.  Except we haven't actually had a date yet.  Stupid holiday cheer ruining my love life!  Hopefully there will be updates...

Wintry Things I Love

Dec 15, 2010

It was brought to my attention last night that I said I was going to begin blogging twice a week and didn't follow through.  Dangit.  I didn't think anyone was paying attention.

Well work has been nuts, and holiday parties/happy hours/man searches have kept me busy in the evenings.  And ever since I got Netflix streamed to my TV, I've become addicted to cancelled TV show "Veronica Mars" (not about a teenager with magical powers a la "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," as several of my friends and I thought and therefore never watched it, but rather about snarky teen detective).  And my dog ate my homework.  There.  I'm officially full of excuses.

So let's try this again.


Pantyhose and open toe shoes?  Faux Pas!!!  But what else am I supposed to do?  I have looked for shoes to go with this dress, trust me.  They are nowhere to be found.  So when I have to pray in front of the congregation (yes, pray, not say The Lord's Prayer or read a passage from 1 Corinthians, but say an actual prayer), I will be bearing my toes in the shoes I bought for Megan's wedding.  Oh well.  It can't be worse than when Liz Lemon had to speak at her ex's wedding.

Anyway, because I think we can safely say winter has arrived, here are my top 5 fave things about the season:

1) Cozy happy hours
-S'Mores by the Fire at the Ritz in Georgetown: free every night through the holidays from 6:30-7 p.m., yum!
-Clyde's: nice assortment of hot drinkies for $9.25 each (okay, not exactly a happy hour special, but still worth checking out and excellent after shopping off the Chinatown Metro)
-Co. Co Sala: In addition to the regular drink menu ($8 during happy hour), they've added Wild Winter (Wild Turkey Bourbon / House Spiced Apple Cider / Pecan Liqueur / Vanilla Bean Caramel) and Heavenly Hot Elixer (Dark Hot Chocolate / Grand Marnier / Courvoisier).  Or you can just get a hot chocolate flight (salted caramel is my favorite!).

2) The National Tree
I know it's shocking, but my family isn't big on Christmas, so I never had a Christmas tree growing up and I don't get all into tree decorating.  Still, nothing excites me more during the holidays than to go stare at the National Tree, see how the President decided to decorate it this year (yes, I fully believe he takes the time to thoughtfully design ornaments), and check out all the homemade ornaments from kids around the country on the smaller trees.

3) Puffy coats
When I complained about the impending cold, everyone told me to get one.  Did I?  No.  Did I grumble the entire way to work this morning when my Metro stop was shut down and I had to walk a mile in a non-winter appropriate skirt, pantyhose, and thin coat?  Duh.  (P.S. Turns out the Metro stop was shut down due to a suspicious red blinking light in a trashcan...and it turned out to be a Christmas ornament.  Gotta love the holidays in DC!)  I have a pink ski coat but must get a longer one with furry hood.  Any recommendations?

4) Peppermint everything
My fave new treats?  Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints and Chocolate Peppermint swizzle sticks (both can be found at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, conveniently located next to Clyde's in Chinatown!).  I also love making Cocoa Rice Krispy Treats with crunched up candy canes mixed in.  And eating Candy Cane Joe Joe's at Trader Joe's. Mmmmm yumminess.

5) Snowball fights (OMG has it really been a year?!)
Caaaaaaaan't wait for this winter's tomfoolery!  Hopefully I don't get shot.

As for blogging twice a week, I will try my best.  But if you don't hear from me that often just know I've got lots of lame excuses. :)

The Forecast Shows: Man Drought

Dec 13, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I talked two guys into watching "Tangled" with me.  Both were perfectly eligible -- cool jobs, good looking, straight, and both even open doors for girls.  (Really, who can ask for more than that?)  Unfortunately they're both in my friend zone, and everyone knows it's next to impossible to get someone out of there.  Side note: they wanted to see "Unstoppable."  How in the world did I talk them into watching Disney's latest princess cartoon?

Well maybe I got a bit of a big head about it, because my refound female power made me think I was sure to find a new guy right around the corner. But I know Prince Charming (or Prince Single, Straight, and Hopefully Taller Than Me) is not just going to appear, so I set up a happy hour with Jamie and her friend Diana.  Since both of them are in serious relationships they could both be my wing girls and I'd surely meet someone!

We began at Laughing Man Tavern.  Lots of post-work singles.  Except most were girls swooning over the cutest guy in their office that they talked into going out with them.  And the one table that looked like that SNL sketch with the awkward office people.  I eventually hit my boredom breaking point and did a dance routine I learned in a cardio class to entertain myself. 

(This was right before I had to give myself a pep talk in the bathroom because I realized it was exactly four months that day till my 30th birthday, sending me into a panic and increasing the urgency to meet Mr. Maybe.  Perhaps it's time to stop acting like a teenage pep squad leader in public?)

That weekend I had two holiday parties to attend.  I was documenting all of this on Twitter, and I started to draw some attention (remember, I'm mepper):

SassyMarmalade: I think you need a strategic plan of action! What kind of guy are you looking for??

mepper: single with a job! Preferably taller than me. Any advice?

Bourbon_Toddy: girls thats what we all want: single, slightly taller, employed/not a deadbeat and yet he #MightAsWellBeaUnicorn

SassyMarmalade: Plus, guys in DC are short! The military ones are usually a little better in that department.

My hopes sank.  Single, employed, and taller than me wasn't asking a lot, was it?  But these girls understood my plight and shared in it, it seemed.  (However I know from Sassy Marmalade's blog that she's happily coupled up.  How did she pull that off?)  It's what I've been hearing since I moved to DC -- the Eligible Man is a mythical creature.

And then, a glimmer of hope:

DateMeDCBlog: My advice is to come to my next happy hour because there are cute guys that show up! #fact

Good thing because my holiday parties didn't turn out any winners.  The first one was full of 24-years-olds (not doing that again), and the second one was full of guys salivating over my roommate (now THERE'S a girl who knows how to get a guy's attention -- by ignoring him!).  But I can't be too jealous of that night.  Her most avid admirer told her he had a thing for older women and it turned out he was older than she.  After she slapped him and stormed off, he tried to hit on me.  Really?  Really!  Oh boys, why do we even bother? 

Yet here I go again, to another happy hour to find the Unicorn Man.  Maybe he'll reveal himself in 2011?

Thanksgiving in Paris

Nov 30, 2010

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday, probably because I never know where I’ll be or who I’ll be with.  Last year I caught the dreaded swine flu and couldn’t travel home as planned, and a friend’s family took me in.  I had so much fun that this year I went back.  Of course I do try to be with my own family on Thanksgiving, but when that doesn’t work out, the unexpected makes the holiday quite worthwhile.
Every year around this time I can’t help but remember Thanksgiving 2002.  I was 21 and my parents were of the mind that I should travel every chance I got (why oh why didn’t I stay in school and my parents’ house forever?).  A friend happened to be studying in Paris that year, so I bought an Nikon 35mm SLR, 10 rolls of black & white film, and forewent fall/winter shopping to help fund my trip (but OF COURSE I made up for my lack of new clothes there). 
My friend had been placed with a mean old woman, so mid-semester she asked to be moved.  The available family was, um, alternative but really, really great.  I think their names were Jacques and Laurent, and on a trip to South Africa a few years before they found a new addition to the, er, family and brought him home with them.  But because they were gay yuppies, they had a fantastic flat with three bedrooms and even a washer and dryer, unheard of in the city.  Laurent even drove me to the airport on my way back home. 
Don’t worry -- even though my place to stay was cushy, I had plenty of non-American experiences on a 4-day trip to Barcelona during the visit, complete with hostel, kidnapping (taken to a pub against our will), and a man who lived in a trashcan pulling on my friend’s hair on a bus. 
But the most memorable part was Thanksgiving Day.  Obviously Parisians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but the American students were determined to do it right.  My friend got us an invite to one of her classmate’s flats, an old building with gorgeous French details everywhere.  We were on the hook for a veggie, so I suggested making sweet potato casserole.   Apparently Parisians don’t eat sweet potatoes.  Or marshmallows.  We had to go to a store called “Thanksgiving” (how sad is that) to find either.  We ended up buying four sweet potatoes, a jar of Marshmallow Crème, and a package of brown sugar for around €30, which I think at the time was between $40 and $50.  Between $40 and $50 for a small square Pyrex dish of sweet potatoes with Marshmallow Crème.  Yah.
Worse than ours was the turkey, which the host provided.  He ordered it four months prior, because that’s another thing Parisians don’t eat.  When we arrived a couple of hours before dinner, the turkey was still in the oven.  Someone had set out lox and baguettes, so we munched on that and drank wine while we waited.  After four hours of this we realized we still hadn’t eaten the real food, but the host was waiting for the thermometer to pop out of the turkey.  At 9:30 someone stuck a pie into the oven and asked if she could turn it on to heat up her dessert.
We all stopped talking.  The oven. Wasn’t. On.  So we poured more wine and piled our plates high with vegetables then ended up at an Indian restaurant.
And I went to bed in the cushy Parisian flat with a cornucopia of who knows what in my belly.  A truly happy Thanksgiving!

Skinny Parisians who don't eat yummy Thanksgiving food.

Rally to Restore Sanity

Nov 17, 2010

Sooooooo I wanted to tell you all about the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive, but um, it's kind of old news now.  Whoops.

Work suddenly got crazy hectic because I got pulled onto a huge account, and if you follow me on Twitter you might have a clue what I'm up to.  Just know it's really, really cool and if it weren't I'd be super annoyed that my personal life is suffering because of the long hours, missed lunches, and hair-on-fire, moment-by-moment stress of it all.  But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining in the least, and here's why...

(I have to begin with mentioning a few things that may seem unrelated, but stay with me and I promise I'll tie all my thoughts together.) 

First, if you are friends with me on Facebook you might notice that my political views are as follows: "I know I should have some since I live in DC..."  Every other Monday night I host a dinner with friends at my apartment, and about half of them work on the Hill.  When the conversation turns political I usually pop out of my seat, collect dishes, and clean the kitchen.  That's how much I despise such discussions.

Second, I've wanted to visit the White House since I moved here, but lately it's become less of a desire and more of a goal.  This could be in part due to "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" finally making its way to the top of my Netflix queue (Does the President's desk really pop open like that? I must know!!!).  But I'm not going to Salahi my way in there, I'm going to get a proper invitation.  Oh yes, I am.

Third, I've been seeing Humanitarian everywhere lately.  Since he no longer lives here I'm pretty sure I haven't actually seen him at all, but I keep thinking I do.This evening it was irking me -- why is he on my brain?  It took me about 20 seconds of analysis to put it together: "Sarah Palin's Alaska" debuted this week on TLC, and Humanitarian used to work for Ted Stevens, former Alaskan senator.  Duh!

These three points are curious because 1) I didn't sprint to the kitchen last night when the lame duck Congress was mentioned; 2) Now I actually have a couple of potential avenues to get a White House invite; and 3) I know who Ted Stevens is.  Whaaaa...?

Also, thanks to Megan ("I found a husband for you. He's probably married, but what-ev."), I have a crush on this guy (I'm working on a way to actually meet him).

So as neutral as I'd like to stay, this politics stuff is rubbing off on me.  I'm still trying to figure out just where I stand in the political arena, but the rally inspired me to consider it more seriously.  I don't care what people say about the rally having no point and the signs being the best part.  I disagree.  The special guest lineup was incredible, and I was entertained every second by the speakers, singers, and the crowd (of 200,000+, REALLY glad I rode my new Pretty Schwinn and didn't attempt Metro.) 

However, what stayed with me days after the rally was the keynote speech by Jon Stewart.  A couple of things he said made a lot of sense to me:

"If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
"...the exhausting effort it takes to hate..."
"...[those] who see no one's humanity but their own."

Okay so I'm not great at shorthand, but I wrote down what I could on the back of a Taco Bell receipt, and even though they're not in context, I think you get the point. 

There's a lot of sensationalism out there -- did you know that Summer 2001, when all those shark attacks were on the news, shark attacks were actually down?  The next summer, when we were at war, I don't remember hearing about one shark attack.  On the other hand, when swine flu was declared a pandemic I ignored the hype and ended up getting it then relapsing and getting it again.  (Have you gotten your flu shot this year?  I HAVE!)

The other points resonated with me because, while we have freedom of speech here in the United States, too often we abuse that right and vocalize our disdain for one another.  Yet it's our diversity that makes us strong, yes?  Despite our differences, we are working together to move forward, out of a recession, through a war, and toward a more reasonable tomorrow with less debt and more common sense. 

All of this epiphany-ness makes me proud and honored to do my job, and more importantly to be an American.

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

I love you Antoine Dotson!

Me with my cuz Stacie and her mom's friend (mom is taking the picture), all who flew down from Michigan

And finally:

Wait, what? Is that a shameless plug so I can win some free chocolate?  Why yes, it is.  (Go check them out on Facebook, NOW!)  And I'm proud to say that I eat SO much chocolate covered bacon from Co Co. Sala that I am the Foursquare mayor, going on six months now. So maybe I am political after all.

Moving Disaster 2010

Nov 1, 2010

It's been almost a month since I moved, and it's taken me that long to work up the energy to write this post. 

Casualties were few, no friends were lost, and I only broke four nails.  But if I have to move again in a year I might lose my mind.

During a relatively short span of time in my childhood my family moved four times.  Each time was a fun adventure -- my older sister had moved out so I got to pick the best room, my dad would always build me a new swing in the backyard, my mom would take out her sewing machine and make me a new bedspread and curtains, and our new neighbors always came over with some sort of baked good.  While my parents did the heavy lifting I'd take off on my bike and explore the neighborhood.  So much fun!

In college I suckered my male friends (and I had A LOT of them living right by Georgia Tech) to move me, from home to a house with eight girls, back to my parents' house because that was horrible, out of my parents' house because they kicked me out, into an apartment with an older lady and that didn't work out very well, back to my parents' house temporarily and under their rules, then to another apartment, and finally back to my parents' house to dump my stuff before I shipped off to California for a new adventure.  What great friends I had!

Then I moved to DC (well, first stop was Old Town).  My parents moved me, bless their hearts.  We all ended up fighting and I got one of the worst migraines of my life and that's really all I remember.  This was Moving Disaster 2007.

Two years later Margaret and I moved into the District.  We had friends help us, and honestly it ended up being almost as expensive as hiring people due to renting the truck, buying packing supplies, and feeding six people a nice dinner.  Plus Margaret and I weren't on speaking terms for about a week.  Moving Disaster 2009.

So when we moved this time I insisted we hire someone.  Craigslist is reliable, right?  For finding a humidifier, yes.  Looking for a karaoke machine?  No problem.  Want to sell your car?  Sketchy but workable.  But movers named Rick...that's another story.

I decided not to pack my stuff because I'll never unpack it and packing is such a colossal pain in my neck, and I was just moving upstairs so what's the point?  Instead I had a wonderful system worked out in my head -- I'd fill laundry baskets and plastic bins with my junk and dump it in my miniature closet then make another load and dump that on top of the pile until I moved all the junk.  Then a year later, after I'd bought all new stuff because I was too lazy to sort through all the stuff I already own but was in utter disarray, I'd donate it all to Goodwill.  Kind to the environment and humanity.  Genius!

Margaret took the traditional route and used boxes since she was putting her stuff in storage.  Her parents were visiting so we needed to be all finished by 1 p.m.  The movers were set to show up at 11 a.m., so it would be a piece of cake.  I began making trips and Margaret finished packing and started cleaning.   But at 11 the movers did not show.

"I don't get it, I confirmed with Rick yesterday," Margaret lamented after calling Rick for the 10th time.  No call back.  No email.  No show.  No man muscles to move the heavy stuff. 

Margaret and I sat down on the sofa and began brainstorming.

"Well," Margaret said hopefully, "my brother-in-law just moved to Virginia, maybe he can help?"  She called him, but he was working.  However, he said a friend owed him a favor and he would have him drive over from Fairfax to help us.  Okay, awkward but we'll take what we can get.

However, one pair of man muscles can't do it all.  Where are computer engineer majors when you need them?!

Then I remembered, the night before a very muscly guy in my building chatted with me in the elevator and asked if I needed any help moving.  OF COURSE he was just being nice.  Yes I am aware of this, thanks.  I was desperate!  So I stalked him on Facebook, ripped off his phone number, and called him.  Oh yes, I did.  (And I thought having someone steal my bike after seeing my vacation status on Twitter was bad.) 

"Hi, um, I am mortified that I'm calling you," I told him when he picked up.  "I found your number on Facebook, so I'm also mortified that I'm stalking you."  Then I explained what happened, and he came over soon after.  And yes I know what you're thinking, but he has a girlfriend and she's very skinny and blonde, kind of the opposite of me.

So the two guys neither Margaret nor I really knew moved all my furniture upstairs and all of Margaret's boxes and furniture into storage across the street.  (Well, that's somewhat of another story.  Margaret had trouble finding a truck to rent and by the time she got one the storage facility was about to close, and she only got half of her stuff into the facility, so they had to move a load back into our apartment.)

As we carried on into the evening, the front desk called and asked for their hand truck back.  We'd borrowed it but had it all day. I didn't know how we'd finish without it, but on the way back upstairs I chatted with another resident on the elevator and she offered up her personal hand truck.  AND our building's management gave us an extra day to move and clean.  Am I the only one getting chills here?  I'm gonna tell you what, this was an awful experience, but it renewed my faith and appreciation for humankind. 

And I must give mad props to Margaret's poor parents who came for a visit but ended up moving us and cleaning our apartment afterwards.  Then my mother decided to jump in her car and come set up my apartment for me.  Every day I came home to a hot meal and things organized until all of that horrendous, daunting closet pile was neatly put away. 

In the end our parents are still the pros.  But I ask, how many stinkin' times must one move to reach that status?  I don't know if I can do this again!

The Skincare Your (my) Doctor (med school intern) Won't Tell You About

Oct 25, 2010

Growing up in a home remedies household, I'm not used to going to the doctor for everything that's wrong with me.  But what I've learned since I moved away from my parents is I am not that great at taking care of myself.  These things coupled equals when I do go to the doctor I usually have a list of things to talk to him about. 

My last visit was particularly embarrassing.  My sprained ankle from June was still hurting, my back hurt from walking funny from the sprained ankle, I was getting migraines due to my tense back, overloading on Advil was making my stomach hurt (or so I suspected), I was breaking out terribly, due to stress from all of the above (yet another self-diagnosis), and I was coughing a lot, probably from allergies (I should totally be a doctor).  Oh, and I wanted a prescription for Latisse since I recently pulled out my falsies and now my eyelash situation is quite pitiful. 

My usual doctor did not come to evaluate me. Instead a handsome intern came in, smiled as I read off my list of ailments (I wrote them down so I wouldn't forget any), cut me off before I could request Latisse, complimented me on my toenail polish when he examined my ankle (pretty sure he was lying since I was way due for a new pedi), and told me to switch shampoos to take care of the breakouts.

"I don't think it's the shampoo," I told him, because obviously I am smarter than he.

Yet he offered no other advice, presumably because he thinks he's smarter than I. 

A few minutes later I heard his voice outside the door: "SEVEN. THINGS. She had SEVEN. THINGS." 

Hrm. Suddenly Handsome Intern wasn't so handsome.

My doctor walked in soon after. "So, you've got a lot going on today, huh?"


I left with a prescription for physical therapy, an inhaler, and Latisse, even though no one in the office had heard of it, and the checkout lady told me, "Don't come callin' here if the pharmacy don't know what this is, 'cause we got nothin' to tell 'em!" 

Doesn't anyone else watch TV?  Brooke Shields is dancing all over the place with her fabulous lashes!

But with nothing but change in shampoo to fix my skin, I was at a loss.  I switched shampoos and it just got worse.  I used astringent and my skin got so dry I couldn't even put on moisturizer without it burning.  I tried several face masks but the difference afterwards was negligible. 

Then the Roomie took notice.  "Have you tried Head & Shoulders?"

"No, I don't have a dandruff problem."

"No, but the ingredient in Head & Shoulders that cures dandruff is zinc, and it will heal your skin without drying it out.  I've been using it as body wash for years."

Sure enough, a couple of days after washing with Head & Shoulders the breakouts began clearing up!  And a giant bottle of it is only around $5, sure to last me for a couple of months. 

Plus, I just became even smarter than that annoying med student.

My Fall Crush: Faux Fur

Oct 21, 2010

I have never been a fur fan.  When I used to play dress up at my grandmother’s I would put on her pelts, and I knew they were supposed to feel luxurious, but I just didn’t get it.  Fake fur was even worse –- it wasn’t that soft and was kind of itchy actually.  I’m sure growing up in the South had a lot to do with why I didn’t see the point; a Georgia winter requires little more than a thin, merino sweater and a lined wool coat. 
I don’t know if last winter’s blizzard changed my mind or if I’m just that influenced by Marie Claire and Ann Taylor LOFT, but by golly I’m a total fur convert (faux of course – no Nolis made into a coat for me thanks).  It's not scratchy anymore and feels so incredibly luxe.  Plus, if your workplace is ultra-conservative like mine, you'll have fun shocking onlookers wearing boring navy blue suits.  Here are some of my faves of the season (that are actually within my budget -- all under $100).
(I'm wearing it today in honor of this blog post)

What are your favorite fur finds? 

Dry Shampoo (You'll look better than Heidi Montag, I promise)

Oct 18, 2010

Former roommate Margaret recently suggested I do tips of the day.  I like this idea because it means I can blog more often since the posts will be shorter, and sometimes telling a story is daunting, especially when I have a lot going on (like this past month -- new job, new roommate, new apartment, new hairdo, new season, etc. etc. etc.). 

So I've decided to post tips twice a week, on Monday and on Thursday.  And if I happen to miss one day please forgive me and I promise to get something up quickly.  I'll still tell my stories -- wait till you hear about my recent move, it's a doosey -- but this way I can share some fun finds with you.

What I would like to highlight today is TRESemme Dry Shampoo.  Some people think it's disgusting to not wash your hair every day, but girls -- and Kody from "Sister Wives" --, it's a proven fact that washing every day dries out and weakens your hair.  Your natural oils are a wonderful conditioner, which is why Marsha Brady brushed her hair a hundred times every night. 

As a wavy-hair girl, I haven't washed my hair every day since high school when I began working at a salon and the stylists taught me how to work with my loose curls instead of straightening them every day.  I soon learned I only needed to wash my hair every 2-3 days.  For me, the problems with infrequent washing are flakes, oily feeling around my hairline, and oily hair smell. 

So I was shocked when my new roomie told me she washes her hair even less than I do -- only twice a week.  She uses a dry shampoo, and I'm not even kidding, her hair has incredible bounce and not a hint of grease in it every single day.  Except her brand is way expensive, and I was still skeptical about it after Heidi Montag's stint in "I'm A Celebrity! Get Me Out of Here!"  She swore by her dry shampoo and it was NOT doing amazing things for her hair.

AKA Why I Will Never Get Plastic Surgery

A few days ago when I saw an ad for TRESemme I figured I should give it a shot since it was around $5.  I last washed my hair on Sunday evening, so I should have washed it on Tuesday.  Instead, Wednesday morning I sprayed the dry shampoo on my roots and all over my hair to make it smell fresh.  The mist turned into a powder that must have soaked up the oil, because two minutes later when I brushed it out, the powder disappeared and my hair looked fresh. 

The fancy brand may be better, but for now I am quite pleased with the results. 

Now somebody please send Heidi a bottle.

Mary El from the Block

Oct 13, 2010

Remember when I said a local dance studio wanted me to come take a class and blog about it?  It's okay, I almost forgot too.  After all, it was three months ago. 

Don't get me wrong, I was flattered by the offer.  The thing is, I'm terribly uncoordinated.  No no.  You don't understand.  I took ballet in college as an elective and the instructor gave me an F.  (I think that's pretty mean, don't you?) 

I blame my lack of coordination on two childhood events:

1) When I was five I missed my first jazz recital because we were going to visit my grandparents.  I went to the dress rehearsal and I watched, pouting from under a table, as all the other little girls flailed their hands and skipped around the room in their sparkly blue and gold tutus and white tights.  The teacher invited me to join them, but I didn't see the point.  Plus I was wearing pink and purple sweats -- didn't really go with the costumes. 

2) When I was six I was taking gymnastics, but my grandmother demanded my mother take me out of it when she came to watch me on a visit.  She said it was too dangerous for me to be doing somersaults on a balance beam six inches off the ground. 

Without the dance foundation, I didn't have a fighting chance of coordination later on in life.  This was further exacerbated in the fifth grade when I was recruited to the girls' basketball team because I was taller than everyone (except for the six foot wonder, Katie).  Let's just say I played really good defense. (I did get possession of the ball one time, but I was so shocked someone would pass it to me I froze then threw it at the closest goal. Not the right goal, mind you. I was not asked back the next year.)

I tried to explain this to Gwo, the dance instructor who invited me to take a class at DC Dance Collective.  I told him I was going to look like a fool.  He said it would make for a better blog.

Fine.  Bring my blog into it, why dontcha.  I can't resist an opportunity to embarrass myself and write about it.  So we decided I would go to his hip hop class. 

"You can stay for popping if you want," he told me.  Hahahahahaha!  Can you imagine?

I showed up to the studio one recent Wednesday night, unsure if my outfit was okay.  I had on a pink t-shirt with gray capris and my Nikes (gotta get some kind of use out of them since my June ankle sprain).  As I expected, everyone there dressed cooler than me.  This is what I was up against:

1)      Redheaded Belly Dancer
2)      “Dance Camp” T-shirt Hot Blonde
3)      Amanda from ANTM (actually a GW student, but very intimidating, all skinny and pretty)
4)      Cammo Cargo Pants Hardcore Girl
5)      Latina Amazingness
6)      Giggly Korean Who Got Out of Everything by Giggling

Gwo split us up into pairs, and bless his heart he let me pair up with him.  As he taught us the routine I was amazed with how well I picked up on the steps.  Either he gave us really easy steps, or I am not as bad as I think.  Or maybe I am terrible and was kidding myself.  At any rate, it was actually a lot of fun and by the end of the hour I wanted to high five all the girls because we’d done such a good job!  Of course I didn’t dare, but at least I wasn’t terrified of everyone in there.

I gathered my things and thanked Gwo as I headed toward the door, when he stopped me and said, “You should stay for popping!”

Horror washed over me.  I looked around.  All the other girls were staying for popping.  Gwo smiled and I thought, These girls aren’t as scary as I originally thought – I can do this.

Gwo explained popping is all about isolating muscle groups.  There was my first problem.  I attempted to have muscle groups this spring with running, and my legs were looking somewhat toned when I sprained my ankle and gave up exercising altogether.  I have a mother belly because the abs gave up on me long ago.  And the bat wings have settled in for winter.  So when  you talk about muscle groups and me in the same sentence, it’s time to move on to the next subject.

Alas, after a few simple instructions, we were required to freestyle it in a circle for all to see.  Belly Dancer popped her hips and belly. Dance Camp Hottie looked like a pro (I’m guessing she practiced this summer, right next to the Band Campers).  Amanda wasn’t wonderful but I wouldn’t dare think anything less because she still kind of scared me.  Cammo Cargos obviously knew what she was doing.  Latina Amazingness didn’t pop necessarily but still looked really good.  And Giggly Korean crept into the circle, giggled, and scurried out. 

Now try, dear readers, to imagine me popping.  If in your mind it looks at all like it did in the above video, then try again.  I looked more like a handicapped mime having a seizure.

I was relieved at the end of class when Gwo assured us popping wasn’t for everyone.  Whether he was talking to just me or making a blanket statement doesn’t matter.  He let me off the hook and I went home not feeling like I deserved an F.  Oh no, I got an A for Effort all the way. 

I went to bed kind of excited to have been in a dance studio again, and I fell asleep running the hip hop routine through my head. 

The next evening I was walking down U Street and saw my friend Liz.  She was talking to a cute guy, and by their body language I figured they were in the early stages of dating. 

“Hey lady!” Liz said to me as I approached.  “How’d your class go?”

“Not as bad as expected!” I told her, smiling politely at her gentleman friend.

“Show us what you learned!” she said, after introducing me to her boy.

So right there on the sidewalk I broke out my mad skillz.  Except for some reason they didn’t work as well without the music.  Yes.  That is definitely the reason I didn’t look like Jennifer Lopez.

After my impromptu performance I said good night so the lovebirds could get back to flirting.

Twenty minutes later Liz texted me: “My friend thought you were hilarious! He’s single…interested?”

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh help. 

Trendy Fall Hair FAIL (UPDATED with scary Ronald McDonald picture)

Sep 22, 2010

Recently I got the makeover itch again.  This happens at the turn of each season, and I usually dye my hair red when autumn hits.  This year I thought I'd mix it up and do a chocolatey brown, like this:

(I may have also thought I would instantly look like Katie Holmes.  I'd even settle for Suri.)

Instead, this is what I now look like:
(I secretly like this picture because my eyes look big.)

Okay, so my hair doesn't look that bad, but it is on fire in the sunlight.  Here's what happened. 

Last Friday night I still looked normal, except I had roots, so it was time to take care of that situation.  I don't pay for hair color in a salon because I used to work in a salon and never paid for anything, and I therefore was spoiled and shocked when I found out how much other people paid.  So now I buy Garnier Nutrisse dye and do it myself.  This past summer I got brave and gave myself highlights, and I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. 

For fall my gut told me to go back to my roots (literally) and do a rich brown, maybe adding some highlights later on if it got too boring.  I also planned on asking Carol from Bang to give my bangs.  I decided all this soon after watching "(500) Days of Summer."  Terrible movie, great hair. 

Zooey Deschanel
Other trendy girls rockin' the look:

Katy Perry, who I'm sure looks pretty without any makeup on.

Lea Michele -- although I do not want to be as skinny as she is. Eek! Eat a slushie Rachel!

The aforementioned Katie Holmes.

So all this was my inspiration.  And that Marie Claire magazine cover kind of pushed me over the edge. I'd made up my mind -- I was going to be a brunette again.

Then on Friday I had three separate people in three separate situations tell me that my hair color was amazing and I shouldn't ever change it.  But I had roots, so I had to do something.  And I really wanted to go brown, but I was getting all this flattery over my red.  What's a girl to do?!

The next night I stood in the hair care aisle of Rite-Aid perplexed.  I finally settled on Clairol Natural Instincts Raspberry Creme, because Garnier Nutrisse was out of reds.  Gotta keep the fans happy.  (Yes, that is really why I went with red.  I am that full of myself where my hair is concerned.)

Now, I've been dyeing my hair since I was in the 5th grade, so I know how long it takes to cover rootage and change hair color.  The answer is 25-30 minutes.  So I was kind of taken aback when I noticed on the instructions that I was only supposed to leave the color on for 10 minutes.  By the time I realized this it had been about 20.  I quickly hopped in the shower so as not to ruin my hair.  I turned on the water and stood under the shower head for five solid minutes.  Bright orange -- I'm talking neon from 1985 -- washed down the drain the entire time.  I was too afraid to look when I got out of the shower.  I just dried off and blow dried my hair, and then I took a glance in the mirror. 


No seriously, I looked like that clown from "IT."  Straight out of a horror movie.  And to make matters worse, I had on no makeup, and in my bathroom's terrible lighting I also looked like I was on the verge of death.  With Ronald McDonald hair. 

Scary picture added at the request of Sam
(You WILL have nightmares about this tonight.)

Once Margaret dyed her hair Elvyra black, and I gave her my honest evaluation after all her friends and coworkers had blatantly lied to her: "Duuuuuuuuuuuude.  Get that fixed immediately."

I was hoping she'd show me the same respect.  Instead she said, "It's not that bad!" Then she proceeded to circle me, inspecting the pumpkin colored, frizzy mass on my pale, washed out head.  And then she started snickering behind my back.  And then the truth came.  "We don't have to go to dinner tonight, I feel bad." 


So I ran across the street to Rite-Aid and got the chocolatey brown my gut had told me to get, by Garnier.  And yes, I dyed my hair twice in one night.  And I found out when you mix Neon with Normal you get still fiery but not nightmare-inducing red.  And Carol is probably going to laugh at me again. 

You Never Know Who's Reading Your Stuff

Sep 15, 2010

I'm not a superstar blogger, but I have to say a lot of people I don't know or wouldn't expect read my blog.  Every time someone tells me, "I love your blog!" I am surprised.  Whether it be someone I've never met or the mom of the girl I used to babysit (who's now in college in DC -- yikes I'm old!), I'm beginning to realize anyone could be reading this...and my Twitter, and my Facebook, and my Foursquare, and let's not get started on the embarrassment that is Google (please do not ever read a certain CD review I wrote about a certain Latin popstar who had a certain mole removed). 

Case in point: Dreamboat.  Remember him?  He was a blip on my screen and quickly moved across the world, so I didn't think I'd ever speak to him again.  And then this past weekend I get this:

sorry to hear about Cute Guy. :) stop crying! you are pretty and nice and witty and interesting. you will find someone else. and someone better than that. there, i said all that i was supposed to say. (well, it was true, so i don't feel cheesy.)

He reads my blog???  (Hi, Dreamboat!)  (Also, thank you for telling me I'm pretty.)

And who could forget Sidekick, the guy I met one night who went to extreme measures to find me then mass forwarded my blog to his hater friends?  I published 43 comments and got many others that were unpublishable.  Wowza.

On the flipside of this, I stupidly, STUPIDLY announced via Foursquare, which transmitted to Twitter, that I was in the DCA airport and then in the ATL airport.  And my bike got stolen, right off my balcony.  That was some serious maneuvering by the bike thief.  Also makes me really nervous to be living in my already lemon of an apartment. 

In loving memory of my pretty, pretty Schwinn. (Yes, that is a dog in my shirt.)

(In case you are wondering, I'm getting a new pretty Schwinn once I move, so take note, bike thief! My apparently easily accessible balcony will remain barren and you won't know where I live!)  (I would really love to know how someone knew where I lived.  SUPER creepy.  Although I guess it is possible it was random, but I'm now thinking you can't be too safe with this stuff.)

I was equally creeped out when I recently received a text message from some guy who follows me on Foursquare: "You seem cool and go to hip places.  Creepy but what's social networking for?"

Since when is Foursquare handing out my phone number?!  It's really, really time for me to take a look at my security settings on everything. 

Today I read an article on Yahoo! that gives some seemingly obvious social media safety tips.  I was guilty of two of the no nos, maybe three.  Arm yourselves, social media peeps! 

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Have Had That Margarita

Sep 7, 2010

Sooooo I wrote this last week and took it down the next morning because I realized I sounded like a lush.  To be clear, I am not a lush.  I just happened to go overboard the other night.  This doesn't happen often (except when I'm going through a break-up with a younger guy, apparently).

I felt I should re-post because a fellow blogger, who lives in Korea and therefore read this post when it was up for a few hours in the middle of Eastern Standard Time night, recently wrote that this post inspired him (that makes me so sad, but I also really like the attention).  So save your judgment and enjoy.


1) You already had a Paparazzi (complete with pop rocks covered chocolate) and a free glass of Proseco at Co Co. Sala.

2) There are enough crazies at the Lady Gaga concert without you running amok around Chinatown.

3) You hit on the security guard on the way into Rosa Mexicano.

4) Didn't you just take a vow to quit drinking so you wouldn't feel sad about Cute Boy?  (Well, he is officially out of the country, and he didn't know what "My So-Called Life" was, so I think I'm over it.)

5) You tell the people sitting next to you their food looks really good and stare at it and them until they offer their leftovers to you. And you take them.

6) You complain to your server that your margarita isn't frozen anymore and request a new one that's slushier. (Hey, just being economical.)

7) You offer to dance for the restaurant patrons if they play "Bad Romance" instead of the Spanish guitar music.

8) You rock the Forever 21 dress you paid $13.50 for earlier this summer and forgot to ever wear.  (P.S. You are too old to wear something that short and clingy.) 

9) You hit on the security guard on the way out of Rosa Mexicano

10) It's Tuesday night, for goodness sake.

End-of-Summer Purge

Sep 6, 2010

Soooo this week I couldn't find my Metro card.  It wasn't in my black patent leather quilted bag like it usually is, and I knew this because I'd dumped it out on my bed.  I checked my DKNY watermelon satchel as well.  Nope.  Cream Chanel clutch (from Korea, but who can tell?) (girls who carry real cream Chanel clutches, that's who), black & white Coach (real, HA!), Victoria's Secret tote (free with purchase)...nowhere to be found. 

Where's Waldo?

As Noli barked at the mess on my bed, I realized it was time for a purge.  The season's ending so I need room in my closet for new clothes (my splurge this fall will be a faux fur vest, maybe this one).  I'm moving in a month so I need to de-clutter.  And really nothing feels better than throwing things out when you end a relationship.  (Except cutting your hair off, but that's for extreme cases only.  I'm not that depressed.)

It's been another week since the break-up, and I'm doing fine, thanks.  The girls night was super fun, complete with free drinks (and urges to call Cute Boy), lots of dancing, and getting hit on by a sleazy guy.  I felt especially empowered when I noticed a wedding ring on one guy who was trying to dance with us. I alerted the girls to the situation and then took his hand and told him, "I like your ring." 

"I'm not doing anything!" he protested.  Mmmmmmmmhmm.

I did not call, text, or otherwise contact Cute Boy, though.  Instead I devoted a day to driving to the beach, sitting in the sand and writing in my journal, and driving home.  It's only 2 1/2 hours away so it wasn't too bad and totally worth it.  I thought the ocean would clear my thoughts, but East Coast beaches are different than the Southern beaches I'm used to -- very crowded, cold water, and NO SWIMMING signs. ???

Monday night Cute Boy called.  I kept it together for about two minutes, and then I spent the rest of the conversation crying.  I think I got it out of my system, because I haven't shed another tear.  Though I'm sure catching a stomach bug this week helped the situation since I was drugged out on Nyquil. 

Then Friday night K and I had our first official meeting of the Great Cancelled TV Shows Club (we're starting off with "My So-Called Life" -- "I love the way he leans!").  I was having a lovely time until we opened a bottle of wine.  Then I got sad and wanted to call Cute Boy.  Luckily I couldn't drink much because I had to drive home, and by the time I got home I was too annoyed by all the riff-raff on U St to remember I wanted to call him.  (I may or may not have tried to run over a group of jaywalking, short-skirted people.)

The next night I went to a cookout with another friend I met on Twitter, Robin. (BTW, if you haven't joined Twitter, get on it!  Meeting people online is not weird anymore, and Twitter might be the greatest networking tool of the 21st century.)  The cookout was in Cleveland Park, which is just two stops north of Dupont, but I felt like I was in the wilderness.  I saw a squirrel and a lightning bug!  I was enjoying meeting new people and talking to Robin about her boy drama, until someone pulled out Firefly (sweet tea flavored vodka).  Mixing it with orange juice reminded me of my great aunt Carrie's famous fruit tea, and one moment I was feeling very nostalgic and the next very sad for Cute Boy, and it seemed the only way to quench the sadness would be to call him.  It was then that I noticed the correlation: Drinking = Urges to call Cute Boy, or at the very least be sad about him.

I told Lauren about this the next day, like it was some big eureka moment (which it was). 

"Duh Mary El, alcohol is a depressant," she told me.

I'm sure I learned this in high school health class, but it was one of those things I never thought I had to worry about since I don't drink much. 

So I vowed not to drink anymore until I am 100% over him. 

Labor Day was his last day in America before his two months in Europe, and he asked if he could come over to get a few things he had left over here.  Strangely, when he showed up, he looked in the bag and threw it away.  I'm not really sure why he wanted to come over -- to say good-bye?  My soon-to-be new roomie asked why I was torturing myself, but I really didn't think it would be that bad.  I told her this over a warm beer at a Labor Day street party.  I guess I momentarily forgot about the vow.

So when Cute Boy showed up I got very, very sad.  Immediately I had to fight back tears, and then he suggested we get something to eat, so I had to suck it up for the next hour.  Pure. Torture.  No. More. Drinking!!! 

However, when I told him about my Cancelled TV Shows club, he asked, "What's 'My So-Called Life'?  I've never heard of that one."

And this is why you don't date a younger guy. 

The hour was soon over, and he walked me to my door then hugged me goodbye.  I could feel the brush of his fingers on my left arm for a while after he left. 

And then I cleaned.  I deep cleaned the kitchen, I did four loads of laundry, and I filled up two bags of Goodwill clothes, including three pairs of shoes that I did not wear this summer.  Well, one pair I did wear, but I've had them at least six years and the heels are falling apart.  I had a lot of good times in those patent turquoise stilettos with red and pink stripes on the toe.

Good-bye, dear friend

And now I think I can safely say, I have purged -- physically and metaphorically.  Time to go shopping!

(Oh yeah, my Metro card was in my pocket.)

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Aug 28, 2010

So apparently this is how I deal with a break-up:

Step 1: Call him to see how's he's doing. Start crying after he says "fine" then asks how I am doing. Hang up immediately.

Step 2: Go to dinner with a friend at an expensive restaurant, only to find she has also broken up with her boyfriend. Spend dinner fighting back tears and telling one another we are fabulous.

Step 3: Go to dinner with another friend at the restaurant he loved the best. Sit at the bar and make friends with the bartender. Tell bartender whole story. Bartender feels bad for me and offers free drinks. Bartender suggests I text him. I text him. He makes fun of me and immediately accuses me of being drunk -- WHICH I WASN'T (I know my limits, okay?!).

Step 4: Go to dinner with another single friend and discuss birthing options (since my sister and her cousin just had babies).  Decide either your stomach or the other part of you being ripped apart is not for us and since 30 is the recommended age to freeze your eggs we should just do that and have a surrogate.  Unfortunately I haven't been preparing financially for this, so I resign myself to the fact I will be childless.

Step 5: Go back to the restaurant with the Bartender and update Bartender on the situation. Bartender recommends deleting him from my phone immediately. I do not heed Bartender's recommendation. Later take a text from him as an invitation to call. He tells me, while it's good to talk to me, he has moved on and is not interested.  Hang up immediately.

Step 6: Go to baseball game with friends to get mind off of situation. Instead end up talking about situation entire night. Does not make me feel better.

Step 6: Organize girls' night, as it is exactly one week since break-up and I SHOULD BE OVER THIS ALREADY!!!

That's all I got. 

Seriously, I haven't handled a break-up this poorly since I was 19. I think some speed dating is order. Self-reflecting will only make this worse, so I'm gonna go ahead and skip that.

At least I have clean hair. That's positive, right?

Moving On

Aug 23, 2010

Although summer technically ends on September 21st, every urbanite knows Labor Day really marks it for us.  The heat may drag on well into October for all I know (weirder things have happened here -- blizzard? flash flooding? earthquake?), but in two more weeks I guarantee girls are going to begin pulling out their boots and blazers to kick off the fall season. 

I've hated winter since I moved here in 2007, but after last year's Winter Games I'm not completely repulsed by the idea of cold coming to the District once again.  What is saddest to me this end of summer is all the changes that are happening almost at once.

First there are the friends.  Megan got married last month, and this weekend Ashmi got engaged (good job, Raghav!!!).

Now that's what I call engaged!

Also, Ashmi decided to quit her job and go to grad school to pursue her dream, food.  She moves to Boston in a couple of weeks, and we're having our Last Supper at Co Co. Sala, since she was the one who introduced me to it when it first opened. 

And then there's Margaret, the roomie, who is moving to NYC soon.  I can't even get started on that now.  I'll have to write an "in memoriam" blog about our three years together later. 

The second big change is my job.  Oh, the joys of being a defense contractor.  Last week I suddenly had no job because the contract ended (really? twice in one year?), but my company rocks and placed me somewhere else, so I start the new gig today.  (What am I doing writing a blog post when I should be getting ready?) 

But the change that's hurting the most right now is the end of my Summer Love.  Yes, Kanunu aka Cute Boy and I ended it this weekend.  Or maybe I just ended it.  He didn't say much.  Why don't boys talk when we need them to?!  Argh!!!

He announced to me Friday night that he was moving home to Texas, which wouldn't be a huge problem since he doesn't plan to do it till next year, but he also leaves for Oktoberfest in Germany in a couple of weeks and is staying for two months.  I just felt like that was too big of a test for a new relationship.  I cried, he apologized, and then when it was getting a little bit too hard for either of us to handle anymore (I could barely keep my eyes open at that point) he kissed me on the forehead and left.  I heard the front door click shut, curled up in a ball on my bed, and tried to convince myself it was for the best. 

Love stinks.

I called the bff Kristen the next morning and told her what happened.

"Did you cry?" she asked.  Except I heard "Did he cry?"

"No, but his eyes were red."

She laughed.  "I meant you, but I like how you were looking for him to cry."

"Yes, but it would have been awful if he had cried."

"Oh I know," she said. "If guys could only realize that if they would just squeeze out a tear, we would be horrified and stop crying and yelling at them.  They hold all the power in the situation, really." 

It's true.  I remember moving to California years ago, and I'd been sobbing for hours, and then my boyfriend at the time lost it and my tears dried up immediately.  HORRIFYING.  (Not because it's gross that a guy would cry, but we just don't know how to help them.  Yes, in this situation, they hold all the power.)

I spent Saturday eating, staring, sleeping, crying...not necessarily in that order.  Did not at any point wash my hair, and I really needed to.  At least I brushed my teeth, that was a step in the right direction.

Sunday was better.  I went to my church meeting, had lunch at my cousin's house, came home and did laundry (I've been sleeping on a bed with no sheets for three nights in a row), and then went to dinner at Rasika to meet a friend, K.  (Get the crispy spinach -- amaaaaaaaaaazing!  And surprisingly good break-up food.)  I wore a little black dress with red heels, but every time some guy looked at me I scowled.  How dare they?  Don't they know I have feelings for somebody else and I'm DYING inside???  Oh, oh...and the text I got form Kenny the Foursquare stalker wasn't any help either.  And I quote: "You seem cool and go to hip places. Creepy but what's social networking for?"  Is Foursquare giving out my phone number now?  I gotta learn privacy settings.

I really didn't want to go to dinner.  I wanted to cry.  And the only way to keep myself from crying was to make mean faces and silently judge all happy people in relationships.  To make matters worse, K was excited to hear all the details about my budding relationship, as she herself was in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man and I was sure they were getting engaged at any moment.

Fighting the tears, I walked into the the restaurant, shoulders back, head held high, determined to have a lovely time. 

K smiled big.  "I want to hear everything!"

"We broke up," I crumbled, slumping in my seat.

"Oh.  We broke up too," she said, her voice and face dropping. 

"OH MY GOSH WHAT ARE WE DOING IN PUBLIC?!" I said way too loudly.  We both laughed, and we both got watery eyes.  Then we ordered bourbon. (Possibly not the best idea.)

So we both told our stories -- hers WAY more dramatic than mine (they broke up the day before they were supposed to go to a wedding!  And they still went together!  I told her that's the scene in a romantic comedy right before you meet the man you're going to marry.  It could happen.).  It was good to get it out and commiserate, especially since there's nothing like heartache to make you feel so alone in the world.

There's also nothing like heartache to remind you that you're still human and not some zombie, heartless working girl who thinks being alone is fabulous.  So this time, there will be no cupcake eating, no bag buying and getting over it.  My first summer living in DC was worth every penny, even if it's ending on a bittersweet note.

City Roads, Take Me Home

Aug 11, 2010

Ask anyone who's looked for a place to live in Northwest DC and they'll tell you how frustrating it is.

Or you could just ask me, because I've done it TWICE IN ONE YEAR.

*deep breath...and exhale*

Last October when Margaret and I decided to move from Old Town to DC it seemed like such a lovely idea.  I remember the moment well -- we had just eaten mezze at Zaytinya then walked over to the Navy Memorial and were dipping our feet in the fountain when we both realized we should be living in DC.  The three months that followed that moment comprised what we now refer to as "The Time We Almost Got A Divorce."

We finally agreed on an apartment in a very hip neighborhood that was totally out of our price range but had an amazing rooftop.  And almost immediately we began having horrid problems.  The sewer backed up into our kitchen and overflowed into our living room.  My ceiling leaked all over my bed.  The hot water heater constantly broke.  Snowmageddon hit and we found out we had drafty windows and no insulation in the concrete floors.

But oh, the rooftop and the very hip neighborhood.

The third time the sewer backed up (which was after the sixth time my ceiling leaked, causing the ceiling to crack) (and our utility bills have been ridankulous due to the drafty windows and no insulation) we decided it was time to move.  It was almost perfect timing because Margaret's moving to NYC soon, and we were going to try to sublet her room to finish out our lease.  But because I hadn't found another roommate I decided to go solo and find a one bedroom.  Why I thought this would be a breeze I can only attribute to the two and a half-month heat wave.

First I checked one bedroom prices in our building.  They started at $2,300.  So, no.  I checked on Craigslist and found an English basement a couple of blocks away.  Although English basements (which are basements in rowhouses with low ceilings and little sunlight) make me claustrophobic, I was desperate and decided to at least look at it.  The night of the open house I was greeted by a creepy guy in all black (the tenant) and a white man holding a black baby who he introduced to me as "Tallulah" (landlord).  Cute, but obviously did not come from his loins, or his husband's. 

As I looked around I willed myself to not feel like the walls were closing in on me.  The space was large for a one bedroom, had windows on both ends and skylights in the bedroom, two large walk-in closets (two! TWO!), a separate laundry room with a washer and dryer, a parking space, and a hot tub in the yard that I would be free to use.  Even though the current tenant had dragons and gargoyles everywhere, I decided to take it and deal with the lurking evil later. 

But I wasn't the only one interested.  Turns out, by the end of the night, six other people didn't care about how creepy the dragons and gargoyles were either.  I had to compete. 

So I offered babysitting (two men will need some female help, right?) and dogsitting, plus home cooked Southern meals.  Two days later I emailed again and reiterated FREE BABYSITTING FROM FORMER NANNY.

Yet I did not get the place.

It was then that I realized finding a one bedroom would be even more difficult than finding a two bedroom, and I was going to have to work hard for it, honey.

The next couple of weeks proved to be frustrating -- some people wanted you to rent their place fully furnished, so I'd have to sell all my stuff.  Some places were the right size but didn't offer parking.  I even looked in the very scary, youth overridden Columbia Heights, y'all.  Yes, I did.  Oh and I even went further north to Petworth, where I witnessed a woman walking her raggedy, senile dog off the leash in the middle of the road with no regard for Noli, myself, or, HELLO, cars!  Not all NW DC is nice, and I was beginning to fear I would have to settle for a bad neighborhood, or worse, Arlington (dudes in brown flip flops *shudder*). 

Then suddenly, a light in the darkness of my real estate nightmare -- two one bedrooms in Dupont, each within a block of the dog park I take Noli to, and each under $1,800! 

The first one was a shoe box, a SHOE BOX.  But I began thinking, I'm a city girl, I can adjust. It's adequate.  I need to scale down anyway. 

How easily I forget that to move to DC Margaret and I got rid of fifteen trash bags worth of clothes.  And that was just clothes.  I also threw out a desk and gave another away, plus thrifted numerous other items.  But it's trendy to live simply.  Maybe I could get by with 100 things...(hahahahahahaha)

The next apartment was amaaaaaaazing.  Foyer.  Separate kitchen.  Large living space.  Large bedroom with walk-in closet.  Old Victorian charm!  CLAW FOOTED BATHTUB!!!  And a price tag of $1,700 to buy all the furniture inside, because the current tenant was not moving with it.  I decided to look at it because I figured I could just sell everything.  But this stuff was junk.  The cheapest of the cheap Ikea circa 1995. 

To make matters worse, the guy was super annoying.  I need to find a different adjective...annoying doesn't even begin to describe him.  Let's see -- he didn't bother tidying up at all, and he wanted someone to pay $1,700 for his ugly, flimsy furniture.  I can take a little clutter, but condoms on the bedroom floor?  Really?  And you know how he tried to sell me on buying all his stuff?  He spent five solid minutes talking about his incredible cheese grater.  "I'll throw this in!  You get THIS!"  $1,700 for a cheese grater?  I'll pass.  I guess he didn't feel like he had to try too hard because he mentioned about five times that we were up against 12 other people for the apartment.

But okay, the place was amazing -- as I mentioned -- so I was considering it, even though he was offended that I worked for a government agency and suggested if I didn't have the cash to give him for his junk right at that moment then maybe I wouldn't be able to afford the monthly rent.  But this was the kicker:

"Mary El," he said, thoughtfully leaning toward me (too close to my face, actually). "That's an interesting name.  What does the 'El' mean?"

I opened my mouth to tell him, but he kept on.

"In the Bible it would mean 'of God'" (bingo) "but in this other obscure archaic tribal language it would mean 'of the devil.' Which are you?"

And with that it was time for me to go. 

I returned home to find Cute Boy waiting for me, as we had dinner reservations in an hour.  (BTW, Cute Boy doesn't like his nickname and would rather be called "Neo," like, from "The Matrix."  I said I'd compromise and call him "Kanunu," which is how my mother pronounces "Keanu," as in Keanu Reeves.  Thoughts?)  Not long afterwards I got a phone call from the guy in the amazing apartment.  The people who came to see the apartment after me wanted it, and they were willing to write a check.  He suggested I book it over there and outbid them.

Cute Boy, seeing the anxious excitement in my eyes, took my hand and said, "Let's go."  When we walked in he said, "Hmm, it smells really good in here."

"Oh thaaaaaaaaaanks," Annoying Cheap Guy drawled.  "So, are you going to write me a check for $2,000 or what?"

"Could we have a moment to discuss?" I asked. 

He looked put out.  "Fine, but only a moment."

I led Cute Boy to the bathroom and pointed at the tub.  "Claw footed tub!" I squealed, trying to make him understand.

"$2,000?" he said back to me.

"Knock knock!" Annoying Cheap Guy peeked his head in.  "What's going on?  Are we having a conference?  Should I come in?"

"Um, no, we're just trying to decide..."

"Well you don't have much time.  Figure it out!"

Thirty seconds later he popped his head in again.

"Do you even have your checkbook?"

"Of course I have my checkbook!" I said defensively.  Then I remembered I left my checkbook on my nightstand.  "Oh, shoot, I think I forgot it actually."

"Mmmm hmmm.  You weren't even planning on writing the check were you?  You're toast.  Sorry!"

So we walked out, passing the happy new apartment renters on the way out.  "Congratulations," I said.

Outside of the beautiful, Victorian door, Cute Boy wrapped his arms around my waist, pulled me close to him, and whispered in my ear, "I'm really glad you didn't get that place.  It smelled like armpits and feet, and that jerk had phallic art everywhere."   (I hadn't noticed the art, I was too enamored with the bathtub and crown molding.)

That night I got an email from a resident in my building who had read my blog that day. 

her: I saw your latest blog post.  Adorable.  My roommate is moving to Texas so I feel your pain.


me: Want a new roommate?

her: I was seriously thinking I was going to have to move to the ghetto! When can you move?

me: Anytime, our apartment has had so many problems they're letting us break our lease!  I was going to move to a teeny apartment in Dupont with no washer/dryer.

her: Oh please girl.  We do NOT do our laundry in a dirty, communal basement.  Call me.

And with that, my moving problems were solved!  I'm moving out of my problematic unit to the top floor with a view and a bigger closet!

P.S. Four days later Annoying Cheap Guy called me.  "The deal fell through with the other people, and I know you were reeeeeeeally interested!"

"Nah, I think I'm good."

"Really?  But you liked it so much!  I don't understand."

"Well, you told me I was toast, so I made other arrangements."

I have a feeling 12 other people did too.