Search this blog

December 27, 2007

I <3 cover letters

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, I don’t think Midwesterners, especially Minnesotans, should be put through the torture of writing cover letters. We are a modest people who frown upon the trumpeting of our achievements, instead preferring to play them down.

That said, I am pretty much the Mistress of the Universe. If you hire me, and you would be a fool not to, I can solve pretty much any problem you and newspapers around the country are currently suffering from. I will achieve beyond your wildest dreams, taking your paper from the squalor it is currently wallowing in to a golden palace of success.

That’s really all you need to know about me, but allow me to regale you with my many, many accomplishments. I was literally born with a pen in my hand (don’t ask me how it ended up in my mother’s womb; suffice to say it was my generous request muffled through the amniotic fluids for a pen rather than a pencil that saved my dear m’ma from lead poisoning), and took the occasion of my birth to do an interview with my parents about how momentous the event was for them.

I was a star student throughout my schooling days, despite the fact that I constantly peppered my teachers with questions. My gigantic well of natural curiosity was always bubbling to the surface, threatening to burst through my very being. I was in desperate need for an outlet, which is why I single-handedly founded a series of award-winning community newspapers in my hometown at the age of 5. Several give the papers credit for exposing the multitude of corruption in our city government. I was able to manipulate city data at the age of 7 that uncovered a massive money laundering scheme, which led to the resignation of no less than 34 city officials.

My accomplishments since have been widely publicized in the mainstream media, so I don’t think I need to name them here.

Let me reiterate that my work is practically dipped in gold and encrusted with diamonds, for all the magnificent profits they will bring to your foundering establishment. I will allow you to contact me for an interview (as if there is even a mote of competition! (doubt it)) at my earliest convenience.

Please feel free to contact my references, for I fear I have been far too humble in describing my incredible worth as an employee.

December 23, 2007

A Christmas Miracle

I heard on NPR on Friday morning that approximately 1 million people were making a grand exodus from the D.C. area that day to spend the holidays with their families. Included in that million is every single one of my acquaintances here (except one of my mom's friends from the olden days with whom I will spend the actual holiday and a fellow member of the tribe with whom I will nosh on Chinese food, as we Chosen are wont to do).

One of those departing ones, an angel I will call The Blessed One, gave me the keys to her lovely apartment for my use this entire week. I walked in there this Friday after work and nearly wept with pure joy. It smelled faintly of clove, not of stale death. There was a pleasant glow from the Christmas lights instead of the harsh fluorescent glare to which I've become accustomed. The surfaces were clean and free from chunks of mystery meat. The bathroom was immaculate, instead of-- well, you know what I'm living with here.

Best of all, there was a plush couch I could stretch out on when I wanted to read or when I wanted to watch a movie. It didn't smell like homeless man.

The Blessed One has my eternal and undying thanks for giving me the very best present I could ask for: an entire week of tranquility away from the Man-Child. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

December 18, 2007

My very own Bridge to Nowhere

For the past few weeks I've been trying my bestest to put away my procrastinatin' practices of the past and get to work on a year-end profile on one of our senators. Every time I open up the doc to start working my verbal magic, however, it seems like the Powers That Be at my news establishment toss another urgent assignment my way.

This morning I went in with every intention of taking that profile by its horns and shaking it every way to Sunday until it didn't know what cliche was going to hit it next, but fate had other plans for me.

A dude at the home office asked if I could assemble a spreadsheet of all the pork our delegation had requested in the 11-bill omnibus legislation Congress has been trying to squeeze out before they go home for the holidays. I had already printed off lists of earmarks on the original bills last week, when it looked like House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wisc.) was going to strip away all the billions of dollars for lawmakers' pet projects to bring the bill closer to the amount President Bush wanted. Facing an uproar from some very unhappy campers, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reneged. I kept all the lists just in case debate resurfaced.

(A note about earmarks: they get a lot of negative press because some of them are truly ridiculous, like Sen. Ted Steven's (R-Alaska) $315 million Bridge to Nowhere or Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) much-maligned request for $1 million for a museum commemorating the Woodstock music festival. But most of them go to really worthwhile projects, like road repair or social service programs.)

Because I had all those handy lists, I thought it was going to be a breeze to plug them into a happy little database. And it was fun for this Excel geek, at least for a little while. As the day wore on, I started getting press releases from various legislators' offices enumerating the amounts they would receive for their myriad projects in the omnibus bill, amounts sometimes very different from what I had listed. Why hadn't I just looked at the omnibus bill text in the first place to pick out what I needed, you ask? My dear, silly, friend: this behemoth is thousands of pages long. And the document is unsearchable, thankyouverymuch. (I was going to link to it so you could behold its glory but 10 minutes' worth of Google searching has proved unfruitful and I'm bored with the pursuit.)

So I had to meticulously compare the press release figures with the ones I already had, going line-by-mother-freaking-line. Then the Powers That Be decided they wanted the Senate numbers in there, too... we might as well make it a "master" document, eh? Eh indeed. The House and Senate project names often vary at least slightly, so finding corresponding entries was a real treat.

After hours (upon hours... upon hours...) of increasing my susceptibility of carpal tunnel syndrome, I finally finished and chirped my relief to my coworker.

"Yeah, I don't know if we're still going to use that or need it, but I'm glad we have it! Thanks!" he said.

Editor's note: Apparently Nugget wasn't smart enough to Google search "text of omnibus bill," because if she had she would have found this right away.

December 17, 2007

This morning there was a pair of dirty boxers on the kitchen counter

Think about that for a bit.

I often tell my coworker here about my daily battles with the Man-Child and he's graciously extended an invitation to me to move into his basement on many occasions. Because he has three cats and felines make my face explode in hives and my eyes and nose explode in itchiness, though, I've had to decline.

Last week he suggested I move into the office. I'd have everything I needed there: a kitchenette, showers in the gym downstairs, a TV and computer, ample space to store my things because of all the layoffs/ buyouts... The only I was missing was a place to rest my head. The most viable option was under my desk, a quite spacious space, really. I would just need some blankets and pillows to make my nest and I'd be set.

During our office holiday party on Friday, several now-empty offices were opened up to house the nosh. In the dessert room we discovered a couch. As soon as I can figure out a way to schlep all my worldly possessions there on the Metro, I'm moving in.

December 15, 2007

Ladies' Men

Overheard on the Metro:

Fratboy 1: So today, I was, like, texting with Morgan. I was like, "I had a Caesar salad with salmon; are you proud?" And she was like, "Yeah, five points for fish." Then I was like, "So we're going to be rolling in Arlington later, you in?" And she was like, "Was that meant for me?"

Fratboy 2: Oh man... Snap.

Fratboy 1: I know, right? So I was like, "Yes it was meant for you. We're going to a party if you want to hit that."

Fratboy 2: NICE!

Fratboy 1: Yeah, so she was like, "I don't want to hook up with you if that's what you mean."

Fratboy 2: Dude, she so totally does. That girl is like horny as a toad. She totally wants to get stuffed.

Fratboy 1: Totally.

December 9, 2007

Warning: this is quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever written

Alternative title: Poop goes the roommate

I want to make sure that you, my beloved readers, are adequately prepared for what you're about to read. I don't often venture into writing Tales of the Toilet, but I had to make a special exception to convey what depths of despair I experienced last night. If you're weak of stomach or faint of heart STOP READING NOW.

I came home last night after a lovely holiday party looking forward to brushing my fangs, washing my mug and slumbering. When I walked into my apartment, however, my ol' olfactorys were slapped with a pungent odor. Figuring the roommate decided to boil the intestines of a suckling pig for dinner, I shrugged it off and entered the bathroom I share with him to commence my nightly routine.

The stench was so strong in there it almost took on a shape. I then noticed the throne was filled with the soupy contents of The Thing's bowels.

Let it be known that this man-child is 29 years of age. Even accounting for the fact that he was most likely a late bloomer in terms of potty training, he still has a more than a quarter-century relationship with the toilet and that nifty lever that makes its contents magically disappear.

Assuming he left the apartment with it sitting there because the throne was in need of repair, I texted him:
"The toilet is overflowing with your shi(r)t. Did you call someone to fix it?"
I got this in reply:
"wrong number. my name is (Thing's name). No idea what ur talking bout. good luck with that."
Because I am technically squatting here-- the apartment management knows not of my existence-- I couldn't just approach the office and request service without giving away the ruse and probably getting stuck with a hefty fine.

So I steeled myself, gathered all my courage and bravery, and flushed, prepared to turn off the water should the mess reach a danger point in the bowl. To my intense relief it all went down. I lit five matches and a scented candle and opened a window to try to coax a more bearable smell into this place.

One more month one more month one more month one more month one more month.

December 2, 2007

Even free makeovers come at a price

After slogging through yet another work week, my buddy Wink and I decided to have a bit of fun by going shopping. Since I had completed all my holiday shopping the previous weekend and wasn't in need of anything (except a new pair of black boots, which Ma Nugget has promised to purchase for me when I come home--thanks Ma Nugget!), I could browse carefree without the pressures of finding that perfect something something.

Our final stop of the evening was Macy's, where we were determined to get ourselves free makeovers in anticipation of the Event of the Year: Truth Pirate Slumber Party 2007. We weaved in and out of the Chanel, Estee Lauder and Clinique counters, making eyes at the bored salespeople that clearly told them we needed a makeover, stat. But no one was biting. We even went to the Bobbi Brown counter and paged through her instructional book while wondering aloud what the makeup would like like on our visages. The best we got out of that shopgirl was, "Can I help you find something?"

Yeah-- a new face! Gosh!

Admitting defeat (but not admitting to anyone what we actually wanted... which in hindsight was a bit silly), we moseyed our way through the shoe, purse and wintertime accessories sections. On our way out we decided to give it one last go and looked adoringly at the Benefit makeup counter.

A bored, emo-looking lad immediately perked up and asked us if we wanted to browse his company's catalog. We paged through them and asked which of the products he was pimping was best. Benetint, a rose-colored serum for cheeks and lips, he told us. Put this on your cheeks and everyone will wonder, "What has she been up to?" he said cheekily. During his pitch we discovered he was from a locale across the pond. Ipswitch, England, to be exact.

We also discovered his name was Mark, which prompted me to bellow, "MAHK? MAHK!" a la Elizabeth in E.R. He didn't know a titch about his own products (other than what he read off the label)... or makeup in general for that matter. There was no way this limy upstart was going to be able to give us a makeover.

Then he started telling us about how he came to be in this freedom-loving nation. He said he met a girl on MySpace and they got married, but they have since divorced. He assured us he didn't marry her for a Green Card. Then he asked if we knew the hotspots in town where single women would congregate.

Wink told him emphatically that we wouldn't know because we were both dating muscular Minnesota boys. We bid him good day and then left to try on ball gowns.

November 29, 2007

Impervious to Illness

This is about the time of year when everyone starts feeling the tickle at the back of their throats or the snuffle at the tip of their nose that tells them they are about to be felled by pestilence. Multiple colleagues of mine have even reported a suspicion of having modern plague (mono).

I would like to take this opportunity to declare that this year I shall not be one of Disease’s many fallen. This year I will escape the clammy clutches of any form of influenza or common cold. This year I will conquer mucus, phlegm and fever.

This year I will be a vision of health.

And it’s all really simple whycome. The human interaction in my life is now so limited that my chances of germ contraction are next to nil. Compared to the stewing cesspool of human filth that is a college campus, I now live in monk-like conditions. I rarely interact with my roommates and I disinfect that which I must touch in our shared space on a regular basis. The parties I used to host so frequently are no more, so there’s no chance of mistakenly swapping syndromes by swapping snacks or sips.

At work my closest coworker sits approximately five feet away from me, so there’s no chance of a wayward sneeze or errant spittle to mar my biochemistry. The next-closest coworker after that is stationed approximately 25 feet from me and faces the opposite direction. I don’t have to handle money or touch people in order to do my job, either.

The one place where I’m in real danger is on the metro, where people are often packed so tightly during rush hour I literally have a crush of humanity breathing down my neck. Beyond sporting a surgical mask, there aren’t a lot of measures I can take besides wearing my gloves when I cling to the handrails for dear life.

Even if a sneaky germ managed to get its way into my system, I am fully confident the ridiculous amounts of Vitamin C I ingest daily will bring it to its knees.

November 28, 2007

Broke Boot Metro

 border=
Yesterday wasn’t the best of days. Actually, it was the latest in a string of not-so-good days. But yesterday was particularly bad. My coworker had a personal crisis that was so sad it made me nearly weep, and then I got into a huge fight with a dear friend and felt like I was having a heart attack.

And then, on my way to the metro after I left the office for the day, the heel of my right boot snapped off. It was still dangling to the upper part of the shoe by a few sinewy pieces of leather on the heel, but it would no longer serve as a support for my girth.

I was already having trouble walking yesterday because I was wearing a pretty tight pencil skirt that was static-clinging to my tights, causing me to have shuffle instead of taking my usual long, powerful strides. The absence of a right heel just about made me a contender for Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks with my limping hobble.

The shame made my cheeks glow as red as my skirt (and my jacket, and my phone, and my mp3 player… I kind of like the color red). I’d like to think no one noticed my plight unless they looked directly at my shoe because I was I was balancing so gracefully on my toes. But the stares of passers-by told me this definitely was not the case.

What’s really eerie about this incident is that around this same time last year the heel on my previous pair of black boots broke off as I was hurrying to French class. And I was wearing the same outfit I had on yesterday. WEIRD.

So now I’m out a pair of black boots and I keep having dreams about buying a pair of Uggs and my conscious mind can’t understand this because I think they’re really ugg-ly and I’m just so scared and lonely and confused I want to ball up under my desk and dream about Wolf Blitzer instead.

November 24, 2007

A desperate plea for pity

Seems to me that very few people are actually from the DC area. It's a transient place where people flit in, put in a tortuous two or three years with the politician/government agency/news medium of their choice and then flit out again.

This being the case, it's been practically a ghost town here this Thanksgiving weekend. I had a few buddies with whom to spend the actual holiday, saving me from having a complete emotional breakdown, but otherwise it's been just me and The Flatulent One.

And boy, is he creeping me out. I exited my room on Thursday to find he had cleaned the entire apartment. He even laundered the dining room table cloth and our bathmats. This from the the guy who can't be bothered to wipe the sink of his excess shaving cream and stubble. Then this morning I went in the kitchen to find a plate heaping with brownies. This from the guy who has never so much as boiled water for a meal (he tends to favor take out pizza and Wendy's). Maybe the Good Roommate did poison him.

Because I could only stay cooped up in my room for so many hours reading another book about Tudor England-- the TV and thus our entire shared living space had been claimed by Sir Flatulence for hours-- I met up with my sole friend who is actually from DC for dinner. We went to the neighborhood to the west of mine, and on the moderately long walk home I couldn't stop myself from staring in to restaurant windows on families enjoying a lovely meal together.

I felt like the curmudgeonly father in those Christmas movies who leaves his home and children in a huff, cursing the bad luck the fates had bestowed upon him, until he happens upon a scene of familial tranquility. He pauses outside the window rimmed with frost and looks adoringly at the family inside. Feeling his stare upon them, they nudge each other and point to the window. Alarmed at the feeling of his heart slowly shedding its encasement of ice, he hurries home, finally aware of the true meaning of Christmas.

I was that man, dear readers. Except I had no family to hurry to. Only the roommate.

And now, as he takes one of his 40-minute showers in complete darkness, I cannot help but feel that darkness seep into my very soul.

November 21, 2007

And then things got even weirder...

In a repeat performance of the previous evening, The Good Roommate zoomed out of his room as soon as I got home last night, intent on conversing with me as I nuked my Amy's macaroni and soy cheez frozen meal. (Stop that eye rolling. Whole Foods is the only grocery store within walking distance and it was on sale, OK?)

"So how's it going?" he asked.
"Oh, you know. Fine," I replied.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Not a whole lot. My day was pretty standard," I replied.
"What's new?" he prodded.
"Um... I'm having a hard time getting a senator to call me back for a story I'm writing," I finally offered in hopes of ending the cycle of pleasantries.
"Oh. That sucks. So I've been thinking about what I told you last night."
"Please tell me you decided against poisoning him."
"Don't worry. I had another idea. Remember that email I sent out a couple months ago?"
(Note: he's referring to a six-page email he sent me and The Flatulent One enumerating all the different rules of the apartment. Example: "The food I buy is my food. While I don't mind sharing, it is my decision on whether to share my food or not. I did not buy it for you, and you may not have anything I want in return.")
"He's been using all my silverware and dishes and not washing them when he's done. (Note: this is a violation of Rule No. 3--Using Stuff in the Kitchen) Before I leave this weekend I'm going to either take all my pots and pans and stuff with me to my parents' or hide them all in my room."
"What if I have to make something, though?" I asked.
"Oh. Well... You could pick out everything you think you'll need and hide it in your room," he offered.

After politely declining this gracious offer, we spent a jovial 10 minutes discussing how ill-equipped for life The Flatulent One is. It was during this time that TGR told me how much he enjoyed having me as a roommate, all the while staring at my chest.

November 20, 2007

And then things got weirder...

 border=

Upon returning home from work and a subsequent trip to the grocer’s last night, The Good Roommate exited his room and began conversing with me as I put my plunder in the fridge and various cupboards.

“So, how’s it going?” he asked.
“Oh, fine. I had an alright day. How are you?” I responded.
“So what’s up?”
“Umm… nothing? What’s up with you?”
(note: TGR is painfully shy it often takes him awhile to work up the courage to state his purpose)
“You know those cookies that were on the counter last night?” he finally sputtered.
“I didn’t touch them,” I retorted, knowing how anal he is about people eating/drinking/touching what is rightfully his.
(note: I think I know better than to eat ANYTHING in that apartment that hasn’t been sealed in an airtight container)
“Yeah, I didn’t think you did. I knew it was (The Flatulent One)… Well, I’m going to make another batch of cookies and leave them out and he’ll be sorry he ever messed with me.”
“What-- you’re going to poison him?!?”
“Let’s just say he’s not going to be able to leave the bathroom for awhile.”
“But I share a bathroom with him! If his butt explodes I’m going to have to deal with the sounds and smell more than I already do! Please don’t!” I begged.
“Oh yeah; I forgot about that. I’ll come up with something else.”

November 12, 2007

Semi-employed

Everything I’ve ever done in my life has had an expiration date. I knew when I was going to graduate high school and college, and most of the jobs I’ve held during those tenures have ended around those dates. Both of my post-collegial internships have also had pre-determined exit dates.

I’m nearing the end of my latest endeavor and it’s time to contemplate something that terrifies me: a job with a foreseeable future.

That means I actually have to figure out what I want to do. Most days I love what I’m doing right now: political reporting for a mid-size daily newspaper. But newspapers are dying, if you haven’t heard. Like, sucking in their last rasping, putrid gasps of air, collapsing upon their decayed limbs, taking one last glance at sweet, sweet life from their milky, mildewed eyeballs dying.

So it looks like I’ll have to find something else to occupy my time. Ideally, I’d like to make a contribution to society, but sometimes I think I’d be just as happy popping out 2.5 kids and spending my days playing catch with them using various kitchen implements. Of course, the unfortunate half of a child, who we’ll call “Semi,” will only have one eye. His/her lack of depth perception being what it will be, it seems more likely than not that the various spatulae and egg-shaped timers I'd lob would blind the poor tot completely.

November 8, 2007

NEWSFLASH!

There is a girl in the apartment. A girl!! This is the first time since I've been here someone besides me has brought another person to the lair. Following are the clues I used to piece this occurrence of shooting star-like regularity:

-There are two sets of curtains on The Things sliding doors-- one inside his room and one outside. This morning, for the first time, the outside ones were drawn, indicating that he needed privacy of a very special sort
-While I was in the kitchen fixing my breakfast of frosted mini-wheats, I heard the door slide open behind me and a female voice decide not to venture out in the common area whilst I was there
-Once I was safely ensconced in my room, this creature went into the bathroom and actually washed her hands after relieving herself
-She then proceeded to take a shower-- and left the lights on!

My, my... it seems Mr. Lonely Heart has landed himself a lady friend. I hope beyond hope that this was merely a one-night stand and I don't have to add his primal grunts to the roster of intimate noises I have come to be acquainted with. *Shudder*

November 6, 2007

They slayed her neigh!

Remember little Natalie, who desperately wanted a pet horse but was denied by her City Council? Looks like they might have done her a favor. The Star Tribune published a story today about someone killing another little girl's pony:
LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Authorities are investigating the killing of an 11-year-old girl's pet horse in central Minnesota.

Katie Symalla discovered her horse Savannah dead in the field by her family's farm in Long Prairie on Saturday.

Katie says Savannah was her "best friend in the whole wide world."

The family last saw Savannah on Friday at 5 p.m., and arrived home Saturday just before 2 p.m.

Katie's mother, Victoria Monti, says whoever killed the horse skinned her face and took her eyeball.

Investigators with the Todd County sheriff's office are trying to figure out who killed the horse, and why.
They took her eyeball??? What does one do with a horse eyeball? I mean, do you run a string through it and wear it as a necklace? Can it be used as an amulet to ward off evil?

Note: I'm home sick today so odds are good boredom will drive me to post more than is necessary.

November 4, 2007

Thank you, Daylight Savings Time, for choosing the weekend I LEAST need you

 border=
I posted a lot this weekend. Wanna know why? I'm bored out of my skull, that's why. Wink, my usual weekend buddy, is out of commission at the moment because her manly love is in town. So while I'm sure they're quite enjoying having a whole 'nuther hour to snuggle in, as an already-early riser, I'm dying over here. I'm dying, I tell you! I don't need another hour in the day! I would be quite happy with three less, as a matter of fact! Gah, bloop and bollocks. I'm going to make a paper chain counting down all the minutes I have left before the yarn store opens and I can get the materials to make some knitted sushi in honor of the one social thing I did this weekend.

November 3, 2007

Sorry my posts are turning this blog into ihatemyroommate.com, but...

... I have had such a weird morning, and it's not even 9 a.m.

As you know, I share a bathroom with a roommate I alternately call The Thing, or The Flatulent One, or That Lump of Flesh. This bathroom connects to my room through my closet, so if I leave the door between my room and closet open I can see if the light is on in the bathroom without leaving my bed. There are two downsides to this: a. I can more clearly hear the cacophony of his morning noises and b. this was how I discovered that he now chooses to shower in the dark, which totally creeps me out.

This morning I awoke at 8 a.m. and desired a trip to the W.C. But there was not only a strip of light shining beneath the bathroom door, I could hear that the fan was on. "That's odd," I thought to myself. "The Thing hasn't gotten up before 9 any day this week (aside: I think he's been laid off/fired), and he's up at 8 on a Saturday morning? Hmm." Thinking that normal humans might forget to turn off the light or the fan, but not both, when leaving the bathroom, I had little reason to believe he wasn't actually in there. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, after a half-hour I pressed my ear up to the door and, upon hearing nothing but the whir of the fan, knocked. Nada. Fearing he might be passed out on the floor in a pool of his own vomit and excrement, I hesitantly opened the door. No one in there. WTF.

After checking my email and usual news sites, I decided to take The Good Roommate up on an offer to watch his copy of Enemy of the State, which was housed in a bookshelf in the living room. As I exited my room, a larger-than-usual opening of the curtains in The Thing's room caught my eye (aside: The Thing lives in what is supposed to be a sun room, with sliding glass doors separating it from the main living area. He has long curtains up for his privacy). I could see he wasn't in his bed. "That's odd," I thought to myself. "Where could he have gone so early on a Saturday morning? Perhaps he never came home. Could he possibly be with a lady friend?" Chuckling to myself with the high unlikeliness of that being even remotely true, I walked across the living room and scanned the movie titles until I found what I was looking for.

I heard some rustling behind me. Figuring it was just the pipes creaking or the air turning on or off, I ignored it. Then I heard some distinctly human noises. I turned around and there he was, struggling to prop himself up on the couch. Not for the first time, and probably not even close to the last, a scream caught in my throat upon seeing him (aside: Sometimes I'll be watching TV, thinking I'm alone in the apartment, when I'll catch him staring at me, his face seemingly floating in a crack of the curtains of his room. Once I was straightening my hair with the bathroom door open, and I saw his face bobbing around in the mirror. When I looked back, he had already scurried back to his room).

Not knowing what to do or say, which is often the case in my encounters with It, I wordlessly returned to my room, clutching Enemy of the State in my hand and wishing I didn't have one living in such proximity.

November 2, 2007

Gettin' medieval with it

Dana Milbank, my favorite Washington Post-er, had another extremely amusing edition of his "Washington Sketch" column in today's paper about Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey's waffling on whether waterboarding counts as torture.

Here are some of my favorite snippets:
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition -- and few could have predicted it would play such a prominent role in Washington in 2007. As the United States fights the first war of the 21st century and nuclear weapons spread across the map, President Bush has managed to build a bridge to the 15th century -- by picking a fight with Congress over the use of a weapon perfected by Torquemada.
And this:
Americans, many of whom get their information about medieval torture from I want to be Dana Milbank when I grow up.

November 1, 2007

A bit more than a bump in the night

My Halloween was extremely tame. For the first time in memory, I didn’t don a costume. I didn’t see anyone with one, either, unless you count the halo headband California Sen. Barbara Boxer was fiddling with at an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing yesterday. (Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who also sits on the committee, was dressed as a lecherous old man, but it’s debatable whether it was a costume.)

I returned home after work and supped in my room as the lump of flesh I live with sprawled on the couch in front of the TV, as he is wont to do. I was a bit nervous about the means I would have to use to remove him from his constant perch so I could enjoy the two hours of programming I allow myself each Wednesday—“Pushing Daises” and “Gossip Girl.”

To my delight, however, one of The Thing’s never-present friends must have tempted him into some inbibery. He got into the shower (an activity he now enjoys in the dark), made his usual gurgles, belches and snorts, and then vacated the premises just in time for my first show.

Wink joined me for the second, as is our habit, and brought me some delightful treats. We sipped a solitary glass of vino each and then she left for the Metro. That was, I thought, the extent of my holiday celebrations.

BUT I THOUGHT WRONG! (Insert witchy laugh here)

In the middle of the night, 3 a.m. specifically, my eyes snapped open. Groggily wondering why on God’s green earth my body would choose to rouse me at that specific time, I suddenly heard what I assumed to be a troupe of ghosties and ghouls tramping through my living room.

As my mind cleared, I realized that it was The Flatulent One, banging and stomping about, cursing and drunkenly slurring threats to our furniture at the top of his lungs. Now, from the safety of my office chair, it seems a bit silly that I didn’t go out and slap him upside the head for disturbing my slumber.

But, dear reader, you must understand that I have often entertained the terrifying thought that one day this oaf will barge into my room during a drunken escapade and defile me. There was no way I was about to confront an angry drunkard twice my body mass and invite an assault on my person. Plus, the lock on my double doors is rendered useless by the slightest wind, which causes the doors to fly open.

It just wasn’t the time to risk getting the wrong response to “Trick or treat?”

October 24, 2007

I've been up and down the Hill so much I feel like Jill-- sans bucket

I think my favorite part of my job is going to hearings up on the Hill. I don’t care what they’re talking about; watching people in power interact is just fascinating. I especially like going to hearings in the Capitol building, which is just beautiful—from the murals on the ceilings to the mosaic tiling on the floor.

Today I went to a hearing of the House Rules Committee, one that I had hoofed all the way to the Hill for yesterday only to find it had been postponed. Today I discovered they had once again put off discussion on the bill I was there to cover to sometime next week, but I figured I’d stick around to hear a report from the Small Business Committee since I was there already.

The atmosphere in these hearings is enough to make someone with ADD scream for mercy. You’d think there would be some sense of decorum; it is, after all, a meeting of our nation’s leaders. But there are always people coming in and out of the room, banging the doors as they go about their business. The staffers seated behind their fearless leaders are nearly always chattering with each other, if not demanding said leader’s ear while people are testifying.

And everyone, I mean EVERYONE, is constantly on their Blackberries. There’s a near-constant hum in the room as vibrations from incoming messages demand attention. It's just rude.

Anyway, I’m ever-so-glad I chose to stick around today because I was lucky enough to witness some of the worst partisan bickering I’ve seen yet. The chair of the committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) got into a tiff with ranking member Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) over deadlines to submit bill amendments. Dreier was complaining that she roundly rejects Republican amendments for being as little as five minutes late.

Apparently her leadership of this powerful committee has rankled Republicans since she took the reins this session.

While Slaughter denied that she had a partisan motivation for rejecting amendments, Dreier kept up a constant drone of requesting to speak. When he finally got his chance he refused to look at anyone in the room in the eye, instead doodling in his notebook. I think this is what he was making.

October 23, 2007

Fears of My Life

Searching for inspiration for a blog post, which I haven't had in a disgustingly long time, I turned to something I remembered hearing on This American Life this summer called "Fears of Your Life." Author Michael Bernard Loggins went through an exhaustive list of everything he was afraid of, from the funny to the creepy to the poignant.

What follows, dear readers, are the fears I have experienced already today.

-Fear of sleeping through my alarm
-Fear of my gross roommate getting into the shower when I need to and making me late
-Fear of getting in the shower and realizing I'm out of shampoo
-Fear of seeing my gross roommate naked
-Fear of my gross roommate seeing me naked
-Fear of my pants being too short
-Fear of forgetting chapstick
-Fear of forgetting my keys and being locked out
-Fear of chemical-laced frozen food causing cancer
-Fear of dropping my wallet on the train tracks
-Fear of dropping my body on the train tracks
-Fear of tripping down escalators
-Fear of the heel of my shoe breaking off in the middle of the day
-Fear of birds pooping on my head
-Fear of people in my office I haven't yet met secretly despising me
-Fear of wildfires
-Fear of outer space
-Fear of my editor thinking I'm stupid

-Fear of smelling the way my kitchen does
-Fear of losing access to the Internet
-Fear of a flaw in my life plan

I'll add to this as the day continues. Fun game: leave comments about your fears.

October 11, 2007

Far, far ago, there was a meeting of the very boring people

My editor has been out of town the past two days, and the same woman who filled in for him my first two weeks and made me cry with frustration every night because my stories never seemed to get into the paper under her watch was back in control.

On Tuesday she had me go to a meeting our governor would be attending. I told her they wouldn't be talking about anything we cared about, but she wanted me to go anyway to get some quotes from the governor for another reporter's story. I sat through two and a half hours of excruciating boringness (the gov was even nodding off) and dutifully snagged an interview with him afterward. I sent his transcribed quotes back to the reporter, but in the morning I checked out his story and they were nowhere to be found.

That's Waste of Time numero uno.

Yesterday I went straight to cover a House subcommittee meeting in the morning because one of our congressmen sits on the parent committee. My fill-in editor thought they were talking about one thing, though I told her repeatedly they were talking about something entirely different. When I got back and told her that, like I thought, they didn't talk about what she wanted them to, she decided we didn't need a story about it.

That's Waste of Time numero dos.

When I returned to the office at 12:15 or so my coworker told me the powers that be wanted him to concentrate all his efforts on a story about another of our congressmen, so I was to go to a different subcommittee meeting in the afternoon he had been planning to cover. I barely had time to retrieve and eat lunch before leaving for this hearing, which started at 2. Forty-five minutes into it, before the guy I was there to cover had even testified, they took what became an hour-long break for floor votes. I didn't end up getting out of there until 4:35, landing back at the office at 5:10. I raced to file my story by 6 and was proud of myself for being successful.

This morning I searched my name on our website to read my story and see how it had been butchered. I couldn't find it. Instead I found a wire story on the hearing.

Yup. WoT #3.

So, in sum, I may as well have been dead these past two days.

October 2, 2007

Creepiest moment of my life

My roommate and I had a routine, or so I thought. He gets in the shower at 7:45, does God knows what until 8:20 (with various faucets running the whole time, mind you) and then gets to work by 8:30. Once I hear the front door slam shut, I then enter the shower, do my routine (which has never taken more than 15 minutes, even when I shave my legs and blow dry my hair) and hang around eating breakfast, reading news sites and whatever else until I must leave at 9:20.

But lately he's been throwing a wrench in that wheel. On Friday he didn't get into the shower until 8:25, meaning I didn't get in until 8:55, but by some miracle I still got to work before 10. This morning, since I didn't hear him go into the bathroom I showered at 8:15 as a precaution. Hearing no signs of life emanating from his room thereafter, I assumed he left for work before I got up or was perhaps on a business trip.

So there I was at 9:00, straightening my hair in the bathroom with the door wide open, singing a little song to myself in my blessed solidarity. But as I reached up for another hank of hair to tame, I glimpsed his face bobbing around in the mirror, staring at me.

Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.

September 27, 2007

Ode to CSPAN

 border=

Lately, the little television in the space between my desk and my boss’ has been tuned to CSPAN or one of its stepchildren (CSPAN 2 and CSPAN 3) more often than CNN. So instead of poorly produced infomercials for knives that can cut through whole buildings with a single slice and never dull, I’m treated to the theater of national politics.

And I find it highly, highly amusing.

When the sound is muted I enjoy looking at the expressions of people in the background of whatever’s being filmed. They obviously don’t know that the cameras covered in cloth so as to blend in with the wall hangings connect to a portal that broadcasts their mugging to every American astute enough to tune in to this glorious channel.

During the Patraeus reports, the channel was especially lively as members of antiwar group Code Pink repeatedly interrupted the proceedings to heckle senators as the committee chairman’s calls to order were fruitless. There was also that fun, 10 minute pause as the “report of the year” stalled when they tried to get Dave a microphone that worked.

The war stuff in general is just priceless because these politicians get SO worked up about it. This column in today’s Washington Post by Dana Milbank did an excellent job of painting an image of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.).

Check it:

"I am disappointed," Byrd said as if the witnesses were children. "This committee will not -- N-O-T, not! -- rubber-stamp every request." Theatrically, he drew out his words: "Trillionnnn." "Breathing roommmm."

After watching the proceedings yesterday, I think Byrd has become my favorite senator. And this information from Milbank’s column only stoked the fire for me:

In April, he had identified himself as "Popeye the Sailor Man" and delivered a 15-minute discussion of his dog at a Senate hearing. In June, he had found it necessary to deliver a speech on the Senate floor objecting to reports that "I am at death's door."

September 25, 2007

Justice!

It appears Natalie's plea was unsuccessful: the council said nay to her neigh. The townspeople rejoiced and drops of justice rained from the sky.

September 21, 2007

But Mom! I want a pony tooooooooo!

 border=

I just read THE most ridiculous article in the Star Tribune today. Poor little Natalie wants a pony. The meany City Council says she can't have one because horses, even the precious mini horse she has her eye on, are classified as farm animals and require a certain amount of space to roam.

But plucky little Natalie isn't giving up. She's going before the Council tonight to plead her case. I'd like to imagine the scene will go a little like this:

Natalie arrives in the council chambers wearing a horse suit. She gallops up to the dais, flicking her mane as she allows each councilmember to nuzzle her muzzle. She returns to the audience where her mother feeds her apples, carrots and sugar cubes from her warm palm. When it's time for public comments Natalie rushes the microphone, lets out a sustained whinny that consumes 20 seconds of her allotted three minutes and commences her plea.

"My dear local representatives, I come before you today to ask for equine equality," she said. "I consider myself to have the spirit of a horse, so if you legislate against them you are effectively denying me my human rights, by way of my horse rights.

"Please say yea to my 'neigh,'" she sobbed as she held up a sign to ensure the council was aware of her pun. border=

September 18, 2007

Heature of Crabit

Since starting my new job I’ve been too lazy to cook. I finally made it to the grocery store this weekend so there’s really no reason for me to continue my dinner diet of grapes and beer beyond sheer exhaustion. The ingredients for two delicious feasts are in my kitchen, withering as they wait for me to get off my tuchus. Maybe tonight will be the night.

One of the byproducts of this inertia is that, having no leftovers to schlep to work, I must continually buy my lunch. I’ve been frequenting a place across the street from my office building called the Juice Joint and purchasing a healthful, nutritious meal I hope will make up for my dastardly dinner choices.

Make that The first time I went to the Juice Joint I ordered a Granwich—a concoction of avocado, tomato, cucumber and sprouts on toasted wholegrain bread—and a small fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It’s also what I ordered on my second, third, fourth and every visit since.

The manager there has started to recognize me and shouts out my usual order before I even have to part my lips. Today things were slower and he inquired after my marital status. I’ve seen things like that happen at coffee shops, where people like their caffeine fixes to be routine, but not at a lunch shop.

I kind of feel like a boring loser for ordering the same thing every day, but I just enjoy my choices so much: the crunch of the sesame seed crust, the crisp cucumber, the smooth avocado… the slow slurp of my grapefruit juice until the pulp wont fit up the straw…

I could write a sonnet.

September 13, 2007

Workplace Hazards

When I'm bored or just thinking really hard about something my gaze tends to unfocus and wander to my right. Unfortunately, when I'm at work a television always tuned to CNN falls directly in my line of vision, and I am thus forced to break my reverie and stare at whatever happens to be on.

Usually it's Calamity TV at its best: a fire at an oil company here, some cops in Florida being shot there, a few consumer crises regarding lead paint and the like and a feel-good story about a foreign kid blasted by an American bomb coming to this country to get pro bono plastic surgery.

But their audience must age drastically in the early afternoon, because the commercials switch from being aimed at middle-aged professionals to stay-at-home old farts. This means infomercials galore, and I often find myself staring with awe and desire at these trinkets that could be mine with a quick call to a 800 number and 14 easy payments.

I've fixated on two products in particular, and will stop whatever I'm doing (unless I'm on the phone with, you know, a senator) to gawk when they appear with frightening regularity between the hours of noon and four.

The first is a neon green, motorized duster that makes dusting faster, easier and more fun than ever to get the very best clean. Cleaning it is a cinch: just run it under water! The ad shows an ecstatic housewife running this technological marvel through her drapes and along a row of porcelain Virgin Marys with the speed, joy and ease of a cokehead chopping the next line.

The second is a walk-in bathtub meant for arthritic senior citizens who have trouble getting in and out of the tub. Last year, when I had a princely salary and was living in a palatial apartment with my own bathroom, one of my favorite pastimes was soaking in a nice hot bubble bath to relax the day away. Now I have a tin can shower I share with a flatulent male roommate. Thus my desire for this tub might just be a projection of longing for my long-lost bathing days of yore, but the fogeys in the commercial look just blissful when they lower themselves into the Chester.

That bliss could be mine.

September 9, 2007

The Salon In My Office Building is Advertising a $400 John Edwards Presidential Special

I think I'm going to have to deem DC the soggiest place on Earth. Everyone says the weather we've been having is great, that it is such a relief from the hellish humidity of the summer. Coming from the cool ocean breezes of SoCal, though, my body has forgotten how to self-regulate in high temperatures. I thus can't seem to make it through the day without my face sweating so much that I fantasize about Neutrogena.

On my second day on the job, I had to book it to the Hill to cover a hearing one of our senators would be present at. I clopped into the room, sure I was going to be late, and was about to set up my laptop at the press table when one of the senator's staffers saw me and approached me for an introduction. It was then that I realized my skirt had shifted to being completely sideways. This might not have been an issue had the hem been straight, but it looked more like this, with a longer hem in back than in front and pockets sticking out my rear and front ends. I surreptitiously tried to shift it back to its original position while talking with this lad, but it stuck fast, glued by my sweat.

The next day I was trying to locate the room of our other senator's press conference when I discovered I was in the wrong building. Already late and fearing I'd missed the whole thing, I scrambled to the Capitol with images of having to tell my boss of my incompetence dancing in my head. Thankfully I was only a few minutes late, but beads of sweat dripped from my forehead and smudged the notes I was furiously scribbling. By the way, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller is a giant of a man.

In closing, I will give you a story of what occurred when I rode the metro last night, in keeping with my obsession with the friends I make on public transportation.

It was dusk on a Saturday night and I descended into the metro station amongst hordes of revelers to go to a friend's to eat Chinese food and "watch" (read: sleep through) two movies. I was sitting in an aisle seat, conspicuous of my revealing clothing (a tank top and skirt are not the most desirable choices when one is a woman of virtue traveling alone, but it was hot as the blazes), reading a novel about Queen Elizabeth I.

Two burly, beefy dudes boarded the train a few stops down the line, and one proceeded to do pull-ups on the overhead rail, his crotch swinging dangerously toward my face. The man in the window seat left and I dutifully scootched over to his spot. Crotch Man swooped in next to me, putting his arm on the back of my seat. My muscles tensed as my body went into fear mode, and I tried to reason with myself that he could not easily rape me on a train full of people. He leaned over me as if to sneak a peek down my shirt and said, "Sorry to disturb you, but isn't that an oxymoron?" in reference to my book's title.

"It's about Queen Elizabeth," I said severely, simpering at his crudeness as I stood to exit the train. And that, my friends, was that.

September 4, 2007

"Stumped" and "Other Tales"

I was at a party on Sunday where one of the attendees suggested we play a card game. There was much discussion among veteran card players of which would be at the apex of where the pastime meets fun. (Fornicate with) the Dealer was tossed out, as was perennial favorite Circle of Death.

One lass from Virginia suggested we play a drinking game called Stump instead. All players gather around a stump with nails embedded in it and take turns swinging a hammer at them.

“What if you hit someone else’s nail?” an imbiber wondered aloud.

“What if you hit someone else’s face?” I muttered.

***

Seen on the metro: Two slim, good-looking men flamboyantly practicing their runway walks along the platform.

***

I made dinner for a Long Lost Friend on Saturday and was having a pleasant conversation with him when my roommate wandered in. He immediately headed for the cordless phone stationed on the dining room table, ripped the battery pack out and threw it to the ground. He told me the phone didn’t work and since our third roommate works at the Department of Defense, the only natural conclusion is that…

“It has a microphone in it,” he said without a trace of irony.

***

Seen in my kitchen: A note stuck under an empty Vitamin Water bottle reading, "Whoever drank this needs to replace it. It is mine." The flavor? B Relaxed.

***

I started my new internship today. Several people, including a predecessor in this very post, gave me the same dire warnings: do not attempt heels. And don’t wear anything long. DC is a hot, murky swamp.

But, obviously thinking I had a superhuman body equipped with both blisterless feet and a superior cooling system, I paid no heed and wore heeled boots and long black pants. How was I supposed to know that a trek to the Capitol to get a press pass involved 40 sweaty minutes of walking around in the blazing sun? Did I mention my photo graces this press pass? My soggy, wilted photo overlayed with holographic images strategically placed to make me appear to have a gap-toothed grin?

You better believe that tomorrow I’m hoofing it in a skirt and flip-flips, which I will switch to heels only upon entering a building.

September 1, 2007

The Cloak of Darkness

Nugget here, reporting to you live from the East Coast.

One of the unhappy consequences of living here is the time zone works against me. I tend to be an early riser, so when I was in California I could wake up at 8:00 on a Saturday (as I am wont to do) and be assured that at least some of my compatriots in Central Standard Time and a good number of those in the east would have arisen, ready to amuse me.

So that is how I came to be coming atcha at what is 6:48 a.m. for a good portion of our readership, 5:48 for Wink.

I arrived in Our Nation's Capitol (or wherever Dulles is) last night after the smoothest flight experience I have ever... er... experienced. Fly Sun Country!* After being haunted by dreams that my new living quarters would be host to mold and various fungi, that I would have to share a room and that a hated childhood acquaintance would be my new roommate, I was more than relieved to find my new room spacious, bright and lovely. It has a walk-in closet. And the bathroom's connected. Um, score.

One of my new roommates was kind enough to help me move all my boxes, which barely survived this move, from my buddy's apartment. (Two picture frames and one mirror broke in transit. How many years of bad luck is that?) He warned me that our other roommate, who I won't be able to make the acquaintance of and judge for myself till Monday, is a bit odd. His quintessential memory of him is when he skulked through the apartment muttering, "Thanks for stealing my Cloak of Darkness..." to the lad from whom I'm subletting. I'm inclined to believe this is a reference to a computer game.

The aforementioned fellow from whom I'm subletting, who is currently in China, left all manner of goodies in his room, one being the computer I'm typing on. He left bedding and towels, which I will not be partaking of, thank you very much. He left a cooler, which I might partake of should I be invited to a pick-a-nick.

He also left a locked trunk in the corner. It's locked with a padlock. I would like to invite our readers to hazard guesses as to what could be contained in this mystery wrapped in an enigma. My hunch was dead bodies, but that seems unlikely since it doesn't emit an odor.

*I was not paid to say this. But after a flight that included a complimentary hot sandwich and cookie, a row of leather seats to myself and an early arrival, how could I not? Did I mention it was only $99???

August 24, 2007

I got it from my mama

Following is a piece of electronic communication I received today from Ma Nugget. The subject line was "Nugget, where you at?"

Whassup, boo?

I don’t wanna get all up in you grill, but shoo man—I need to hear from you!

OOOOh, that was ridiculous.

Let me know what your plans are.

Love,

Yo mamma

I responded with this piece of music from Will.I.Am: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APHm8DbYkL0

August 19, 2007

Chicken + waffles = crazy delicious

I had a guest in town this weekend so my local friend took us to Los Angeles. We did the normal things, i.e. ate some burritos, cruised down Santa Monica Boulevard singing the eponymous Sheryl Crow song, went celebrity hunting (mission: unsuccessful), checked out the Walk of Fame and tried not to get shot.

But we also did something extraordinary. We went to an eatery that had culinary delights beyond our wildest dreams. I have but three and a half words for you: Roscoe's Chicken 'n Waffles.

Before we entered this gastronomical mecca, I tried to imagine what was in store for us. Chicken-flavored waffles? Waffle-stuffed chicken? Chicken-shaped waffles? As the waitress passed out menus she scootched us down the ratty leather booth with her sizable derrière and asked, "What's poppin' babies?" The name stitched on her uniform read Mama Ella.

I ordered the obvious choice. One piece of chicken. One waffle. Stat.

I tucked into my treat and felt as if joy fireworks were erupting in my mouth. What a supreme idea. Breakfast and dinner. Grains and meat. Carbs and protein. Sweet and savory. Delicious and nutritious. It was, by far, the best part of LA and the only reason I will return if given the chance.

August 16, 2007

Dude Ranch

When I was making moving arrangements this spring I foolishly chose a place where the lease ended Aug. 15. I would use the end date as a negotiating chip to weasel myself into a job, I figured—something in the vein of, “Why don’t you make it worth it for me to find a new, long-term lease?” Or, if I had decided I didn’t want to stay (as ended up being the case) I figured I could just crash with one of my adoring coworkers for the balance of the summer.

Finding myself with neither a desire to stay nor a bevy of couch offers, I hesitantly returned to the services of that loathsome man Craig and his list, who was the arbitrator of my horrid living situation with the two ladies on whom I’ve expended much binary code. To my delight, however, it didn’t take me long to find a furnished place in a nice part of town that would charge me but $10 per diem. Perfect.

Yesterday I rushed home (as much as one can rush when reliant on public transportation) to hastily finish lobbing my worldly possessions in any container I could find. When I walked in the door I saw a piece of paper on the table that usually hosts my mail. “Awww!” I thought to myself. “They’ve put all our differences aside and written me a goodbye note!”

“Leave a check for $41.50 to cover the electricity and cable bill,” it read.

My one friend came to pick me up, and two trips later I was installed in my new abode. Well, sort of. Everything I own is currently piled in a corner of the living room because the room I was supposed to occupy currently holds three men. There are two others sharing another bedroom. I’m living in a dude ranch.

But I’m more than OK with camping out on the futon because they’re all exceptionally nice (and attractive) young gentlemen. It was quite bizarre to have conversation with real, live human beings in my home after so many months of all my social interaction occurring via phone. I might just enjoy my last week here. Fancy that.

August 9, 2007

Bite me

Every morning for the past week I’ve awoken with a new bite somewhere on my vast expanse of skin. These painful, itchy red welts the size of a raindrop always show up in the most infuriating places: in the middle of my wrist where my palm meets my arm, on my big toe joint bone, on my shoulder where it’s impossible to reach, right below my right eye, etc.

I want to know two things.

  1. nightmaring?

It’s probably a spider or fruit fly, but I’ve been amusing myself during this slow news day by imagining my new enemy is this or this.

August 7, 2007

As seen on the trolley:

The man seated across the aisle was wearing a gray cotton shin-length house coat with a high collar and gray skinny jeans, pink flip flops and a fake rose nestled at his neck. His dirty hands were tipped with long fingernails painted slightly silver and held a pair of heeled sandals. His dreadlocks were piled and pinned atop his head.

His hands twirled and gestured like a flamenco dancer’s as he conducted imaginary conversations. The ferrety woman seated across from him huddled in the corner, determinedly avoiding the awkwardness of a wayward glance being construed as proffered friendship.

Trolley police boarded to check that everyone had paid. The man held out a tattered Metro card, which had clearly expired—perhaps months ago. The police must have said something to this effect (I had my earbuds in) because he launched into an explanation of how he was on his way to court to stand trial for the same offense.

Then it made sense: his imagined soliloquy had been him practicing the testimony he would give to the judge. The skeptical officers decided it wasn’t worth a fight and let it slide. The man joined his hands as if in prayer and bowed deeply to them. As they walked on he could hardly contain himself, fluttering his arms and stroking his face with those long nails, struggling for composure.

Suddenly he took a crocheted, cream-colored sweatshirt from his messenger bag and held it up as he turned to me, asking, “Do you shop at Bebe?”

“No, I’ve never been there.”

“They’re having a sale right now.”

He then got up, exiting the train at the stop before mine. I watched him as he switched to the heeled sandals, walking primly down the street with all the delicacy of a debutante.

August 6, 2007

Defeat is mine

She won.

I broke the silence.

I returned from an afternoon at the beach and the grocery store yesterday and headed to the kitchen to unload my booty (get it? Because I’m a Truth Pirate?) even though rustling and clanging announced her presence in the very room. Bolstered by a conversation I had just had with my chauffer to these locales, I went into the fiery gates of the kitchen thinking, “This is getting a wee bit ridiculous. I think about this all the time. Why don’t I just ask her the reason for all this beeyotchery?”

I had to walk past her to get into the narrow corridor that is home to my sole cupboard. With a friendly smile plastered to my face I shyly said, “excuse me,” expecting at least a little bit of eye contact. Instead she flattened her girth against the wall and looked determinedly to the ground, violently returning to whatever organizational task she had commenced before I had upset the chi of the house by entering.

I started unloading my plastic bags (themselves an egregious offense—my roommates had told me emphatically at the beginning of my stay that they only used cloth grocery bags so as to do their part for the environment), steeling myself for a confrontation. Then a note tacked to the wall above the sink caught my eye. I read it with the uncomfortable knowledge of her knowledge that I was reading it.

“Please squeeze out the sponge when you are done using it,” it read. “Leaving it wet will result in mold. Also return it to the cup, as leaving it in the sink results in the same problem.”

The note defeated any courage I had had in commencing my verbal affront. I retreated to my room and began chatting with my co-Truth Pirate, Wink, about the latest battle in Roommate Wars 2007. She convinced me that it was not too late; the time was now. She also offered the brilliant suggestion that I record the conversation.

My mp3 player tucked surreptitiously into the right pocket of my hooded sweatshirt, I gathered my courage and knocked on the door.

Apparently the reason she has not spoken to me for the past 41 days is because I didn’t clean the bathroom. Apparently I was supposed to guess that this was what she wanted. Apparently when she told me in mid-June that she was starting a new job and wouldn’t be able to “clean up after me” anymore when I left one bowl in the sink while the dishwasher ran was the extent of her maturity when it came to household manners. Henceforth I was supposed to have relied on clairvoyance.

After she told me about how hurt she was I never inquired about her new job (with which I countered her silence on such subjects as my birthday, an illness in my family, um… a gigantic BRIDGE collapsing two blocks away from my old apartment), she turned to friendly banter, quizzing me with a quickfire obnoxiousness about my next job I had forgotten she possessed in this month and a half of silence. I backed slowly out of her room before escaping back into my cave.

I have a feeling I’m going to look back on my quiet time with fondness.

Eavesdropping

In response to this article (an excerpt of which is reprinted below)...
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) -- Jorge Hank Rhon brags about drinking tequila mixed with bear bile and steeped with the penises of tigers, lions and dogs. He has weathered allegations of ties to drug trafficking, money laundering and murder-for-hire.
...the following conversation ensued in my office:

"I would never brag about that, about drinking tequila laced with snake penis."

"Snakes don’t have penises."

"Of course they do. The eggs drop down like with birds. And then they get fertilized."

"Birds don’t have penises."

"Birds and bees have to have penises. Otherwise why would there be that song?"

(murmurs of assent)

"Do fish have penises?"

August 3, 2007

Popularity comes with a price

For the past two months I’ve been bemoaning my lack of companionship since I moved. Since Tuesday, however, it seems my luck has changed. And I don’t know how I feel about it.

It all started when I was in the airport waiting for my flight to take me back to this cursed place. The businessman sitting next to me asked me to watch his luggage whilst he relieved himself (I know, I know… he could have had a bomb in it and then I would have been an accomplice to terrorism), and when he got back he struck up a conversation with me about the media.

Then he segued into a story about how he was flying home to see his father on his deathbed before he “passed on.” And yet, he offered to give me a ride home, 20 or so minutes out of his way. Along with the fact that I would hate to prevent him from catching his father’s life force in a jar, his head smelled funny and he wore socks with sandals so I decided I couldn’t trust him.

I moved on to my next friend, Mark, who was seated next to me in Row 30. Mark is a Jostens sales rep. He got married a year ago and his wife is nine months pregnant with a girl they will name McKenzie Rose. He’s the oldest of seven children and his next-oldest brother is his best friend. He lives in a condo he bought with his uncle. He had to buy an aisle seat because he’s 6’5 and most of his height is in his legs. Want to know how he proposed? Where he went to school? Where he’s been on vacation? His feelings about button-down shirts? I am now a Mark-pert and I can answer anything you’d ever want to know about it.

After the plane landed I bid Mark farewell and scurried out of the terminal as to avoid Monsieur Creepy and hopped into an airport shuttle filled with ladies from all over the country in town for a mothers of twins convention. The woman next to me, a local artist named Therese, was not part of this bunch. She has just been in Oakland to visit some friends. She took pity on my “alone in this godforsaken place” life story and told me she’d take me to some art galleries, slipping me her card before she de-shuttled. She called my office yesterday, telling my coworker she had met me on Cloud 9 (the name of the shuttle service). So this coworker has no choice but to assume I’ve fallen in love with an older lady I just met.

I thought perhaps the plane had created some sort of friend-attracting aura around my being that would wear off once I was no longer officially in transit, but my trolley ride home the next night proved me wrong. Three strapping Italian students sat in the empty seats around me, engaging me in conversation about a trick they were playing on one of their friends. They were switching out a green-colored gum for wasabi they had pilfered from a sushi restaurant. “You can’t eat it,” they said with glee. “It hurt. Much pain.”

When they departed they were replaced by a 60-something-year-old man with a handlebar mustache wearing a USS Nevada cap and holding what looked very much like a gun in orange packaging. He caught me staring at it. “It’s a gun,” he said, patting the plastic packaging. “It’s a small one, but it can do some damage. It’s not cheap.” I avoided eye contact has he stroked the firearm, positioning it so everyone on the train could see his new toy. I fled the train when it reached my stop, only to bump into a 6-foot transvestite, his muscles bulging in his tanktop, his ass hanging out of his skirt and a crappy blonde wig perched atop his head.

Tired of my newfound popularity, I sped home, trying not to look anyone in the eye.

July 21, 2007

A gun rack?

I promised Wink I wouldn't write about my roommates anymore, but one of them just bought something so weird the only way I can stop thinking about it is to express myself in blog form. At least that's what I'm hoping.

Last week a new appliance appeared on the counter top, charging in the corner by the microwave. Rather than something useful, like a Magic Bullet or a food dehydrat0r (mmm... jerky), my roommate bought an automatic wine opener.

Now, my roommate is no wino. I think I've seen her consume perhaps two (and I'm being generous) bottles of wine in my two months living here. And it's not like she's having tons of people over all the time for fabulous dinner parties; as I believe I've mentioned before, I've yet to see her in the presence of someone other than my other roommate.

So that means that she is ungodly lazy... so lazy that she can't bring herself to exert the effort of uncorking one bottle of wine per month. Meanwhile, this thing is sucking up electricity and casting it's haughty red glow all over the kitchen. Granted, the kilowatts spent on this gadget are no doubt minuscule, but couldn't that energy go to solving world peace or something?

The whole thing reminds me of a scene from Wayne's World. If you aren't familiar with this gem, I'd be happy to transcribe it for you:
Stacy: Happy anniversary Wayne!
Wayne: Stacy, we broke up two months ago.
Stacy: Well that doesn't mean we can't still go out...
Wayne: Well it does, actually. That's what breaking up is.
Stacy: Well are you gonna go to the GasWorks later tonight?
Wayne: No.
Wayne's friends: No.
Stacy: Don't you want to open your present?
Wayne: If it's a severed head I'm gonna be very upset.
Stacy: Open it...
Wayne: OK. (unwraps present) What is it?
Stacy: A gun rack!
Wayne: A gun rack? A gun rack. Shyeah! Right! I don't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do... with a gun rack.
Stacy: You don't like it? Fine. You know Wayne, if you're not careful you're gonna lose me.
Wayne: I lost you two months ago! Are you mental? We broke up! Get the net!
I'm just waiting for one of those paraffin hand waxer things to show up in our living room.

July 14, 2007

Don't Yuck My Yum

Every Thursday is "Back to the 50s" night in the downtown area of the suburb I live in. People from around the area drive their refurbished vintage vehicles to the parking spots lining the main drag and pop the hoods so passers-by can peer inside. The cars are so polished they look almost tasty.

It's really a brilliant marketing tool, this car night. All the antique stores and real estate offices stay open late, and the two Mexican restaurants are overflowing with people, when on all other nights I see only a few families or couples tucking in as I take my nightly stroll from the trolley to my apartment.

Downtown (and think Small Town America downtown, not thriving metropolis downtown) takes on a carnival atmosphere, and people line folding chairs along the street. I haven't yet ascertained a reason for so doing; I don't think any of the cars actually move in a parade-like fashion after being parked.

I'm just going to be straight with you: I don't get it. Of all the things to bring people together, especially in hippy-dippy California, why the bamboozle would it be cars? Did I mention that the car dealership down the road currently has a HEARSE for sale?? Where the hell do I live???

But to each his own, and all that jazz. I was listening to a story on NPR the other day narrated by a single dad. His son was using broccoli florets to paint pictures with ketchup and then gobbling it all up. The papa reacted with disgust, asking why he would do that. "Don't yuck my yum," the son replied. The phrase has repeated in my head ever since, and inspired this post.

July 9, 2007

The Competition is unreal

Wow. I am really going to have to step it up.

As you'll remember, my roommate and I are competing to see who can go the longest without talking to the other. I mentioned in my previous post that my strategy largely boiled down to avoidance.

But this night was different from all other nights. Tonight I had to go way across town to tour an apartment, and my roommate (the one who still talks to me) said she'd pick me up to preclude me from having to take three buses and an hour and a half returning home. I was looking forward to spending some quality time with her, since she spends nearly every waking (and sleeping) second with the Competition.

To my horror, however, as I approached the vehicle from the rear I could see the Competition's frizzy head in the passenger's seat, casting a shadow over my heart. "Wow," I thought. "this is quite a curveball. How are we going to play now? Is this going to be a time-out?"

Turns out I needn't have worried. Like a pro, she ignored me the entire, half-hour ride home and directed all her conversation to our other roommate. It was unbelievable, like watching Babe Ruth round the bases even with a spare tire flopping around his waist.

She's a master at this game, and I can only attempt to keep up.

July 8, 2007

You know, I've had some bumbles too

Wink's latest post, a hilarious account of an embarrassing introduction to her new city, made me think you'd want to hear about all my faux pas upon moving to a new port of call of my very own.

They include:
  • Boarding the wrong train on my first day of work
  • Dumbly pushing at said train's doors, wondering why they wouldn't open, until a kindly nun informed me as to the whereabouts of the door-opening buttons
  • Tripping up the hill on the way to work. Regularly.
  • Listening to a CD made by a friend that includes a certain smash hit by the group Rockapella, smiling in delight and thus garnering the attention of a nearby transient, who decided I was flirting with him. Don't worry, I shook him off after three blocks.
  • Doing everything the hard way, i.e. suffering extreme bouts of nausea while scrolling through roll after roll of microfilm before realizing I could use a computer to obtain much more successful results in a sixth of the time. But hey, if I didn't have to go through both morning and evening editions of the local paper for the entire month of November, 1991 I would have never learned about the reaction to Magic Johnson's disclosure he had AIDS.
  • Spelling my editor's name wrong in not one but two memos. So much for proving my dogged zeal for accuracy.
  • Deciding it would be good exercise to walk three miles to and from a grocery store to fulfill my constant cravings for Caprese salads... and break in my new sandals while I was at it. My feet started bleeding from the blisters before I even got there.
  • Repeatedly making myself huge batches of meals on Sunday nights, planning to eat the leftovers throughout the week and getting sick of it by Tuesday's dinner. I just won't learn.
Moving someplace completely new, especially when your roommate is so hostile to you for an unknown reason she won't even talk to you (see previous post) is akin to regenerating a limb. It hurts. You have to relearn things you thought you knew how to do, making you feel like quite the infant. But eventually you get stronger and, one day, you can clap (if the regenerated limb is an arm with the hand at the end of it, that is).

Sometimes I play games

I play a lot of games. All kinds of games. Some are board games, some are athletic games and some are just games with your heart.

But my favorite kind of game is the sort I make up. When I was still dating an ex-boyfriend, we liked to play the game where we sat in a coffee shop and made up stories and/or songs about the people who walked by. I used to play a game with my siblings called "Fall Off the Bed" where my older brother and I would invest considerable effort into pushing our younger brother off our parents' bed by any means available.

I'm currently playing a new game with one of my roommates. It's called "See How Long I Can Avoid Talking to My Roommate." Unfortunately, I can't take credit for masterminding this jewel. For reasons unknown (I can't really ask her for a rulebook as that would violate the primary objective of the game), for the last two weeks she has been going to extreme measures to not talk to me.

Once I caught on to this admittedly genius concept, I started playing too. It's really not as difficult as you might think, as my daily commute doesn't have me coming home until 8 at the earliest on weekdays, and she usually leaves before I get up. As long as she's not in common areas I can sneak into the kitchen for my nightly ration of one cupcake, one slice of pastrami and four green olives and scurry into my room with my hoard.

The real challenge is on the weekends, but I've perfected my technique to limit face to face contact. My internal alarm clock jolts me awake at 6 most days, so I do my morning routine then before retiring to my room for one of my beloved morning naps. All I have to do is listen for her heavy, hurried trot and the forceful closure of her door to know when it is safe to exeunt.*

My competitive spirit has made me eager to win this feat of strength (of will), but I'll be durned if I know how. Do I win if I make it through the rest of my lease without uttering a peep? And if I win do I get a trophy?

I do love trophies.

*I know that's the plural and I'm a singular but I've always wanted to use it