Sunday, February 28, 2010
As we sat in the car, we were hit with a whiff of something so foul, it could evoke screams from my mild mannered husband. The entire, extra-warm car hung heaving with the "funk of 40,000 years" (as Thriller once told us). It was a steamy green bad breath odor. Not a chewing-on-onions-for-breakfast bad breath, or even a spicy-curry-for-lunch bad breath. No, this was a just-woke-up-in-the-morning bad breath (though, perhaps the night before he did chew on onions or have a spicy curry). It was one of those smells so bad that your eyes water.
I told the cabbie that we were going to Adams Morgan, to which he replied, "Oh no." Great. Though I could sort of relate -- Adams Morgan on a Saturday night is no treat for anyone, but did he really need to voice it so vociferously? Though, at least the ride would be as much of a pleasure cruise for him as for us. To make matters worse, he was listening to some sort of club music, and the song that was playing at that moment was some sort of remix that had a booming bass with vocal clips from the (oh-so-classy) cast of Jersey Shore dubbed over it. "I'm a guido, gui- gui- gui-DO," the song boomed.
WH and I tried to carry on a conversation, shielding ourselves, each in our own way, from the smell of the cab. (The trouble was compounded by the fact that he had the back seat windows locked, as if to seal in the smell and marinate us all in it.) I put my fingers up to my nose, pushing on the cartilage between my nostrils in order to brace myself. WH chose to breathe through his mouth, which made his voice sound a little like Kermit the Frog with a cold. "Rebember the tibe you went to Abex?" he said as we drove past the club (Apex, incidentally) on 22nd Street.
We finally arrived, virtually unscathed, though I'm sure we lost some brain cells from the lack of oxygen. I paid the driver and as we got out, WH says, "Oh my GOD! That smelled so bad. It was morning mouth, and it felt like I was making out with him all the way home. And you, asking me, 'Did you hit your head? Why are you screaming?' What is wrong with you? You honestly didn't know why I screamed? As soon as I got in that car, I got a giant breath of that air. That morning-mouth air!"
As soon as we got into the apartment, we dissolved into giggles as WH opened all of our windows to air out the stench from our clothes. So as I sit here, freezing, breathing in the sweet fresh outdoor air, and hoping that the stink doesn't linger in my hair, I can't help but pity the poor fool who's going to get into that cab next. And then I think, better him than me.
*This post is dedicated to my friend Kevin who thought I went too easy on cabbies the last time I wrote about them. Is this better?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
This, of course, got our minds working as we tried to think of two other oddball things that might be paired up for sport. She insisted that she would like to participate in the haircut/beatbox event (to be performed simultaneously). Unbeknownst to me, LS apparently has quite a talent for beatboxing. Go figure. But who would want to watch that? Now a jetskiing/haircut event, that's something I can get behind. Or perhaps rollerskating/cocktail mixing. Or maybe base jumping/yo-yo-ing (all also done simultaneously, because otherwise why watch?).
Just think of it . . . all the obscure pairings imaginable could be Olympic sports. As previously mentioned in this space, we all want a piece of the Olympic pie. My personal event (aside from the ice dancing, of course), would be harness racing/wine tasting. Just imagine it, being pulled along by a stately steed, whilst sipping on a fine pinot noir. That's practically a vacation, yet we could petition the IOC to add it as a new Olympic sport. I would be the first one to sign up (this would be a Summer Olympic event, of course, so as not to conflict with my ice dancing). I can see Reidel, Rothschild, Wine Spectator, and Opus One just waiting to get a piece of this action, don't you? I mean, it's only the classiest event ever to come to the Olympics. So if you need me, I'll be lining up my sponsors.
We got in the cab, and started on our way home. This got me thinking . . . cabbies in D.C. are really interesting. Many of them are from other parts of the world, which in itself isn't particulary different from other cities. But what I have found here is that our cab drivers are extremely well educated, culturally aware, and in tune to current events (contrary to the image portrayed in the 80's travesty D.C. Cab -- starring Mr. T).
This makes perfect sense if you think about it. It's not unusual to get into a cab, and find the driver listening to NPR. I know I'd be a lot more up on the news and politics, the economy and and foreign affairs, if I spent hours all day long listening to quality talk radio. D.C. cab drivers are up to date on the latest news from here and abroad, and they can discuss politics just as well as (and in many cases better than) any of the pundits on the major news channels. They are astute and observational and are some of the most interesting people you can talk to. In fact, LS once got into a cab with a driver who told her he was a poet, and proceeded to share with her his website and book.
Sure, it's easy to get into the cab and ask to be taken to your destination and bury your head in your Blackberry or stare out the window, but it's so much more fun to take a moment to ask a few questions, engage your driver in whatever news story is on NPR, and learn a thing or two about a thing or two. And while many people in this town think that our politicians are the local treasures, I'd argue that our friends behind the wheel are much more valuable. I'd much rather engage in a tete-a-tete with a D.C. cabbie than 90 percent of the folks doing the work on Capitol Hill. So instead of watching Meet the Press to find out the latest on healthcare reform next Sunday, I'll be hailing (not heil-ing) a cab and starting the converstation.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I took skating lessons as a kid, and I can still hold my own on the rink. I never had one of those little skating skirts (don't think I didn't ask for one, though) or those fuzzy bootie things you put over your skates when you're done skating, but I definitely enjoyed it. Please don't confuse my ambition in ice dancing with figure skating, because while I am certain that I couldn't manage a triple toe loop, I know that I could do a little ballroom dancing on the ice. All you have to do is watch ice dancing, and you would know that it could be done. During the last Winter Olympics, I made the mistake of articulating this to my mother. I informed her that if I had the support, both emotional and financial, I was quite certain I could medal in ice dancing. And do you know what she did? She laughed. She poo-pooed. She all but crushed my dreams of ice dancing. (I'll bet she'd never have this response to Paula.) I mean, it's not like I said I was going to go for the gold in the downhill moguls. It's dancing. On ice. I could so do that! And now I have the human interest aspect of overcoming the scorn of my family to make that complete. Paging Bob Costas . . .
My mother brought it up this week, as if to pour salt on my four-year-old wounds. "Are you going to watch the ice dancing?" I told her she was a dream killer. But, though I was undeterred, there was yet one more obstacle to overcome in my quest for Olympic gold. I needed just the right partner to round out my ice dancing dreams. I thought long and hard and then informed my friend the Gay Lawyer that he was going to be my ice dancing partner. We had cut a rug at my wedding, so I knew he had the moves. He's great at sewing, so he could design and craft our skating outfits. And he's got just the right devil-may-care attitude that will turn the ice dancing world on it's ear. In short, we are perfect pairing. And I just know that if we put in the hours and do the work, we can become ice dancing champions. During our conversation, GL suggested that we perform to disco music (see, this is just the reason why I identified him as my future partner) -- to which I agreed. What could be better than starting off smooth and slow to "Last Dance," and rocking out as the song creschendos to it's disco climax?
I can almost hear the National Anthem now . . . I can feel the weight of the gold around my neck. I'm ready for it. And do you know what? In a show of just how gracious I can be, when I sit down for my "Moment in Time" with Bob Costas, I promise to thank my mother. Now all I need is a coach . . . and a pair of skates.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
You know how sometimes you know exactly where your mood has gone wrong? I can poinpoint the exact moment. I'm not overly fond of doctors to begin with, but visiting one is not enough to turn my mood. In fact, my doctor is rather amusing. He's a low-talker and often perches himself on the edge of the paper-covered table, while I (the patient) sit in the chair. This juxtaposition makes me smile. And smile I did until he ordered the inevitable blood work. My doctor's office is in an old house, and the room where your blood is drawn is downstairs, in the basement. Dark-ish, cold, and reminiscent of a dungeon. And every dungeon has a torturer. This dungeon is no different. The Phlebotomist/Sadist at my doctor's office is unlike any I've ever seen. She was in rare form this morning.
P/S was listening to a talk radio station when I tentatively came down the steps. She was facing away from the stairs, and didn't bother to turn around when she heard me. "Sit in the chair. Roll up your arm-sleeve." Just what you'd expect from someone who gets their yayas from inflicting pain on others. She continued to work on whatever she was doing while I sat there shivering with my "arm-sleeve" rolled up. Then she turned the radio up, presumably so that she could drown out my screams as she found new and horrible ways to torture me. The man on the radio was talking to a female caller who was extremely disgruntled with her husband who "ain't even got no job."
She proceeded to put the rubber tourniquet (isn't that much too nice sounding a word for what it actually is? Shouldn't it be called something more nefarious-sounding?) on me and shoved a stress ball in my hand. "Squeeze this and make a fist. You eat anything today?" I responded that I was told not to eat or drink anything for eight hours. "Well, you dehydrated, honey. I can't find a vein. This is probably going to hurt. And it's definitely going to leave a bruise." Just what you want to hear when you're about to be jabbed with a sharp object. But at least I can say this for P/S, she didn't lie. It did hurt. She then proceeded to lean all of her 247 pounds of weight on my wound, because "it's a small vein and it needs a lot of pressure." No wonder it bruised. And there it is. The exact moment my day went south.
From there, I got to work in a surly mood. I wiled away the day getting my tasks done, but with a really bad attitude about it. Once your day has gone in the crapper, every little thing just irritates the heck out of you (me). Things that wouldn't normally even raise an eyebrow, manage to piss you (me) off. That was my day today.
When it was finally time to leave, I checked the Next Bus on the Metro website to see when to go down to the bus stop. Four minutes . . . perfect. Not too long a wait in the frigid temperatures. The fatal flaw in this plan was believing anything that Metro has to say. Ever. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the crowd of about 20 people milling about the bus stop. Never a good thing at rush hour. I waited for about ten minutes, as the sun went down and the wind whipped up, with no bus in sight. Finally a bus came by, full to popping with passengers. It didn't even bother to stop. So I decided to walk.
I was plotting my temper tantrum the entire walk home. I wasn't sure what might trigger it -- a taxi turning against the light, an oblivious cell phone walker-talker, bad lunch meat in the fridge -- but I knew it was coming. I stomped into the lobby, and opened our mailbox to salvation. The new issue of Vanity Fair had arrived. And just like that, the day that had gone wrong all day long had turned around. Because, unlike the woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed day, the somebody-ruined-my-day day can turn on a dime and turn out okay after all. Just ask my bruise.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
After four days off, the masses headed back to work in D.C. today, across the great white tundra that our fair city has turned into. I don't know about anyone else, but I really would've liked to have had a team of sled dogs to take me to work today. (And speaking of dogs, can we please do something about the yellow snow? Enough already!) But without the dogs at my disposal, I opted first for the bus. Fortunately, the one that runs by my house qualifies as a "snow emergency route," which were the only ones running this morning. I waited for twenty-five minutes, only to have three buses pass me by (one full and not worth stopping, and two out of service). Not to mention, had the bus actually come, I would've had to overcome a mountain of snow tantamount to scaling the Andes in order to get from the bus stop onto the bus, so perhaps it's best I chose another option.
I plugged along on my walk (about a mile and a half), participating in a giant urban obstacle course, to make my way to work. Obstacle #1 was a woman in high heeled boots that were completely inappropriate for the terrain (difficult to get around her on the sidewalk cleared to only single-file width). I managed to slide quickly past her as she tried to figure out how to navigate a puddle of slush. Obstacle #2 was a dogwalker with three dogs, again monopolizing the narrow pathway. I chose to climb off the beaten path and surge past them by hiking up a drift. Obstacle #3 was a mass of tourists clogging the entire sidewalk in front of the Starbuck's on Dupont Circle North. An angry morning grumble about blocking the sidewalk and they parted like the Red Sea. Next up was Obstacle #4, the Circle itself. While the inside of the Circle was clear, the passage to get there through the street was the width of one foot (not 12 inches=one foot, but one foot=the width of one shoe). An awkward sideways shimmy and I was on my way again.
At this point, the walk had gone on for nearly 40 minutes, though in normal conditions it would take less than 15. Perhaps the worst of all was Obstacle #5, a puddle that looked like it was shallow and street level, but that dipped at least eight inches into slushiness. But I plowed on. Obstacles #6, 7, and 8 -- an ice patch, snow pile, and preschoolers on a rope (why did they drag those poor kids out on the city streets in this weather to begin with?) -- and I was at my office. It was exhausting -- I felt like I had worked a full day, all before 10 a.m.
All anyone could talk about at work today was the snow and the wisdom (or lack thereof) of the Feds opening (and by virtue of that fact, our office) today. This was compounded by the fact that streets were barely clear, sidewalks treacherous, and in addition to the expected delays, that a Red Line train derailed to avoid crashing into another train this morning hemming up the works for hours.
And as I made the return trip this evening, watching my fellow bus-ers standing on mounds of snow taller than most of us, waiting for a bus that never seemed to reveal itself, I started to think maybe I really did want a team of sled dogs. But then again, there would probably be whole lot more obstacles for me to dodge with a team of spirited dogs leading my way. So I scaled my obstacles and made my way home, glad that I had two more days off to recover before I have to do it all again.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Because we are a sensible couple, WH called the Mickey D's on 18th and Columbia before we bundled up and left, and (hooray!) they were open. So we layered on our gear (I opted for the plastic bags to protect my feet from my leaky boots) and set out on our two block mission of mercy (our own). There were very few people out, which is strange for our neighborhood. At one point, we climbed onto a snowdrift and quickly fell in up to our hips. But we had our goal in sight (though barely in the white out conditions), and persisted.
When we got there, McDonald's was eerily quiet. There were a few people sleeping in the booths, and three people behind the counter. We ordered and watched as they put a fresh basket of fries in the grease. It doesn't get better than that! The clerk looked slightly confused that we wanted to take our food to go, but it's much better to enjoy in pajamas than bundled up. While we were waiting the two minutes for the fries to cook, an elderly lady came in. She was wearing a showercap, and though she looked crazy, she was really friendly. She even thanked the people behind the counter for "being open."
Our food was ready and we headed back to our snow cave. Once we got back, WH declared, "You know, we should be in a McDonald's commercial after that. I mean, when you gotta have it, you just gotta have it." Truer words were never spoken.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
A little further into our walk, and I realize that my feet are wet, wet, wet. You know the kind of wet where you can actually feel the squish, squish, squish with each step? A particularly troubling situation since I had just invested in a (not-so-stylish) pair of new boots just before Christmas and our first blizzard. How long should a pair of fleece-lined rubber winter boots last? My feeling is probably more than three storms/two months-worth, no?
So I slopped myself home, and not to my surprise, both feet were soaked. I can almost feel my pneumonia kicking in already (cough, cough). But the bigger problems loom forward:
- What to do for the next who-knows-how-many days without boots?
- Take the boots back to the store (without the long-gone receipt) and demand a refund?
I just can't decide. The store where I got the boots (I'm not naming names, but it rhymes with Spine Test) is right next to my office, so it'll be easy enough to get there and ask for at least something of a refund -- but is it worth it? I've worn them since December, so they're clearly not new, but they really shouldn't be filling with water already, methinks. Or, I could go total old school and use plastic bags under a pair of socks (did anyone else's mom do that to keep you from getting wet?). Then again, I realize that I'm no one to be trifled with when it comes to matters of shoes (never mind customer service).
And speaking of customer service, I have to say, I'm person you don't want to go head to head with when I've been poorly served. I've been known to demand supervisor after supervisor until I get my demands met, whether it's prompt cable TV service (a myth in and of itself), a refund for a service fee on a faulty refrigerator, or credit for shoddy service at the hotel during our honeymoon (we've been traveling on those rewards points for the past year!). I don't really envy the poor clerk who is going to have to listen to the sad tale of the leaky boots. S/he should just concede now and give me store credit. (Incidentally, lest you think I'm one of those horrible people who is never satisfied, I've also been known to write a pleasantly worded letter of praise when I've received exceptional service, or my dilemma has been solved adequately.)
I keep reminding myself, I have power, my roof hasn't caved in, and my wine supply continues to hold out, so there's not much to complain about. With one Netflix movie left to watch, perhaps I should just hunker down and enjoy being snowbound (until my next customer service dilemma presents itself).
Saturday, midstorm, there was a major snowball fight in Dupont Circle. It was particularly hilarious watching Adam Caskey, the weatherman on Channel 7, attempt to do a report while being pelted with snow.
Yesterday and today, people emerged from hibernation to hit the restaurants and bars that are open (and many of them are). And D.C., in their infinite inefficiency, has yet to clear many of the streets. The major intersection of 18th and Columbia is still a snowcovered mess, so pedestrians are strolling down the middle of the road. There's what feels like an amiable anarchy throughout the city.
And with the Feds closed tomorrow and another 10-20 inches of snow predicted by midday Wednesday, one has to wonder where we're going to put all that snow. Our friends to the north, and throughout the snowbelt, are proud to brag about how much better the snow removal is up there . . . but the same way that people in Nebraska don't surf, crews in D.C. don't remove snow -- we just don't have opportunity to do so very often. And so, my far north and snow belt friends, you can brag about your prowess in the snow removal arena, but I'll happily bask in our inefficiency, enjoy the gift of days off of work, and walk down the middle of the road, simply because I can.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
- Waiting on the bus stop for no more than 10 minutes, I watched four salt trucks go by, spreading salt on the very wet roads. It felt a little premature to me.
- Two fellow bus riders waiting on the stop struck up a conversation about two different chili cookoffs they were attending this weekend. Rider #1 was something of a gourmand (using Muscato braised pork shoulder, ground lamb, and duck sausage for his chilli), while Rider #2 was a vegetarian, making vegan chili.
- People were slightly panicked on the bus. There was a hum of concern when the bus stopped at the corner 20th and Q, while the driver waiting for his delayed replacement. Several riders got off in a huff to brave the wetness on their own, sans bus.
- Getting on the bus, who should I run into but my favorite passenger, Fur Coat Lady, decked out in her German Shepherd coat and hat. I didn't get close enough to smell her, but I am starting to wonder what she does and where works. Somehow we are on similar schedules.
WH and I are off to brave the storm to meet a friend for drinks and dinner down the street. Wish us luck!
Friday, February 5, 2010
The aisles packed. Tensions high. Yuppies in search of Perrier, soft cheeses, and a variety of spirits wander aimlessly, zombie-like alarm in their eyes. My own panic drove me to join them . . . in search of the items that would sustain us during the onslaught. (All day long, I've heard of Snowmageddon and the end of the world as we know it. News alerts have gone out telling residents to prepare to "shelter in place for 3-5 days." I've been wondering, is this a snow storm or the coming of the A-bomb?) Back to the store . . . I make my way to the back of the store, hell bent on bacon for breakfast.
And then it happened. A real reason for panic. No bacon! Unless you count turkey bacon, which I don't. It hit me. I felt the sheer horror rising in my throat. If the store could run out of bacon, what else might it be out of? Wine? Goat cheese? Fresh baked baguette? My pulse began to quicken. A sweat broke out on the small of my back. My hands started to shake. I steadied myself on the deli case and made my way to the wine aisle (first things first, after all). Phew! Wine aplenty. I could feel my hands quieting as I picked three bottles. Baguette . . . nope. Uh oh, more sweat and shaking. Now what? What would I spread my cheese on? Oh! Crackers, I thought, as I raced to that part of the store, picking up two boxes before scooting off to the cheese case. Goat cheese . . . gone! Heart rate back up, until I spied brie instead. Another crisis averted. My god, how do emergency preparedness personnel handle this kind of stress?
I grabbed two Diet Cokes and headed toward the check out before any further mishaps could befall me. No line? Could this be? Had I been left behind or something? I decided I didn't really care if I had . . . I just paid my bill and got out of there. And as left the store into the night air and the crowded Adams Morgan streets, my pulse slowed to a normal rate, and I again realized that there's nothing to worry about. This isn't the apocalypse and I hadn't been left behind . . . and even if I had been, at least there'd be no line at the grocery store.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Everyone remembers that feeling of waking up to a snow covered yard and street (unless, I suppose, if you live in Arizona or Hawaii or Miami), pulling out the radio or running downstairs to watch TV to see what the verdict would be: school or no school. There were no two greater words in the English language than the words, "Snow Day!" It didn't happen often, but when it did, it was nothing but pure bliss!
Our neighborhood growing up was the best place to be during a snowstorm. My friend, the now Lady Doctor, lived across the street, so on snow days my dad would shovel our walk and a path across the unplowed street, meeting up with LD's shoveled walk. Our parents would enjoy cocktails, cheese, and crackers, while LD, Little Sister, and I would rollerskate in the basement (after having played in the snow all day and had hot chocolate, of course). To this day, these are some of my most cherished memories of growing up.
Maybe that's why I still get gleeful at the thought of a snow day. Most workplaces in the D.C. area follow the Federal Government to determine if they will be open or not. And yet, the Feds almost never close. It hasn't mattered much this year, since two of our three storms fell on Saturdays. Waking up and not having to work on a snowy day (even if it was Saturday) is perfect happiness. And living in the heart of the city is almost as good as living on the street where I grew up.
And while my snow day activities no longer entail rollerskating, they almost always include cocktails. Not having to shovel, drive, or generally worry about snow removal is the the great gift of city living. During the blizzard in December, WH and I went to lunch during the height of the storm a couple of blocks from our house. Later that night, we met up with friends at a local watering hole. Cocktails with friends a short walk from our house? Hmm, maybe we do turn into our parents after all.
And now, for anyone who ever referred to our fair city as "Hollywood for Ugly People," have I got news for you. According to this article, The Daily Beast has worked out some kind of logical formula to determine the Most Attractive State (take that, all you anti-statehood people) in the Country (and they don't mean the monuments are attractive . . . they're talking about the people, folks). Say what? Here's how we ended up on top:
First, we determined who had the most stunners-per-capita (allowing Connecticut and California an equal playing field), tallying the hometowns of more than 300 male and female fashion models, plus 125 men mentioned in 10 years' worth of People's "Sexiest Man Alive" issues. Then, we accounted for the results of the Miss America and Miss USA pageants for the past decade. Finally, in order to measure general attractiveness, we factored in health and fitness data for each state from 2006-2008, ranked by the Trust for America's Health. Each of those three criteria—models, pageant winners, fitness—was weighed equally, with any ties broken by which state performed best in the latter category.
Mmmkay. While this was happy news for me (since I don't consider myself one of those aforementioned "Ugly People"), I still can't help but be stunned (because I don't, incidentally, consider myself an actual Hollywood-type). Not to mention, far as I can remember, we haven't had any homegrown "Sexiest Man Alive" (and Marion Barry doesn't count), or maybe I just missed the Clooney, Depp, and Pitt years in D.C. And, forgive me for being cynical, but having ridden the Metro or bus to work every day for the last eight years, I can attest that it's no Paris runway in there. Sure, there's an odd stunner from time to time, but by and large we Washingtonians like our black clothes, comfy walking shoes, and accessorize with a Washington Post instead of Chanel. Oh, we sure clean up nice (as anyone who's ever been to Georgetown on a Saturday night can attest), but we also fall pretty far (as anyone who's ever been to Georgetown after midnight on a Sunday morning can attest).
But, what's a more logical conclusion to draw (forgive me for attempting to employ logic, by the way), perhaps, is that if D.C. is the Most Democratic and the Most Attractive, does it stand to reason that Democrats are the most attractive? Or maybe that's just George Clooney.