Friday, January 27, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond . . .

I'll go ahead and say it, I don't like space.  As in, outerspace, the Moon, Mars, etc.  It makes me feel panicky.  There's just so much of it.  Not to mention that whole "no gravity" thing.  What is that about? I read somewhere once that $52/year from each American goes to support NASA.  I want my $52 back.  Seriously.  If it were up to me, we'd all just stay put right here on Earth.  (And don't bother to go all off on me about how backward-thinking that is and how if Christopher Columbus had thought that way, we'd all still be believing the world was flat and the moon was made of green cheese. I don't care.)

So you can imagine my surprise and dismay when earlier this week, Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich declared that, were he President, he would colonize the Moon.  And that's when he permanently lost my vote (not that he actually ever had it to begin with, but that's neither here nor there).  Not only would he colonize the Moon, but once it had 13,000 residents, he would give the Moon statehood.  Statehood!  As a resident of D.C., this particularly cheesed me off (see what I did there, Moon, cheese, get it?), considering that D.C. residents don't have statehood or even representation in Congress.  (FYI, this is not meant to be a political commentary, but a mini-dissertation on my space-hatred.)  

The whole thing blows my mind on several levels.  First of all, does the U.S. even own the Moon?  Do we have the right to declare ownership (and thus colonize it)?  I'm not an expert in space law, or anything (or any law for that matter), but it certainly seems like we can't just call dibs on it because it might be fun to try.  Secondly, the mere thought that 13,000 people (or more) would want to go to the Moon . . . not just for a visit like that kid from NSYNC, but to live, really floors me.  Can you imagine having to walk around with that space suit and helmet on everyday?  Talk about bad hair. And imagine what it would do to the fashion industry, "This year from Kenneth Cole, the latest in space-travel chic." No thanks.

Now, if Newt wants to colonize the Moon, so be it, but not with my $52 a year.  My only caveat is that, should the Moon become a state, D.C. get to be one first. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Nose Knows

To add to the list of things you might not believe about me, I used to play rugby.  My sophomore year in college, with nothing else to do (besides classes, I suppose), I decided what the hell, I'd join the rugby team.  At 5'6" and 110 pounds, I was a natural for the hard hitting, tooth spitting sport.  Not.  But I didn't care.  I figured if I acted tough enough, I'd be alright.

I faithfully attended practice each afternoon in preparation for our first game.  Never mind that I didn't really understand the rules.  Never mind that I couldn't catch the ball.  Never mind that I was probably the smallest person on the team by about 30 pounds and had to roll up the sleeves on my rugby shirt because it was too big.  I was determined to be the next big thing in rugby.

The day of our first game was a grey, cloudy Saturday afternoon.  I was ready. I even got myself a black mouthguard for the occasion -- it was extra badass.  My friends, including my fairly skeptical roommate, had come out to cheer me on.  I was slated to start that day (don't even ask me what position I was supposed to be playing), and I was pumped.

We warmed up, ran a few laps, did some grunting, and started the game.  It was fast.  The next thing I knew there was a ball coming towards me.  The next thing I knew after that, I was heaving my head up from the muddy grass.  I was gagging on something, so I spit . . . a mouthful of blood.  I was seeing stars and could barely sit up.  It was my nose.  Broken by another player's elbow.

Any other sport, and a man down would be cause for stoppage of play.  But not in rugby.  A player may lose a limb, and the other players will simply step around the body and the severed appendage and keep playing.  Rugby is no joke.  So I lay there, slumped in the near fetal position, waving my arm in the air.  I don't remember much of how I got off the field or what happened during the game.  I sort of remember sitting on the sidelines with ice in a rubber glove shoved up against my nose.  There was a lot of blood on my shirt (which, I must admit, did make me look pretty badass).

Queen Victoria Wearing a Monster Red Nose
Photo by Dominic's pics via Flickr

Eventually my roommate took me to the hospital to get an Xray and make sure I wasn't too badly injured.  Fortunately it was just a hairline crack across the bridge of my nose.  The next morning I woke up with two black eyes and Karl Malden's nose.  It had swelled up to the size of a Polish kielbasa.  Just in time for sorority rush.  At least I looked tough.  And I had something to talk about during those boring sorority parties. Just picture it:
Sorority Girl 1: Hi, I'm Jenny.  What's your name?

WashingTina: WashingTina.

SG #1:  Nice to meet you.  (polite smile) So, tell me, what happened to your face?

WashingTina:  I ran into a door.

SG #1:  Really?  (feigned concern) Oh my gosh!

WT:  No, actually I fell down an elevator shaft.

SG #1:  No way! (stunned disbelief) Are you okay?

WT:  Just kidding.  I'm in an underground kangaroo boxing league, and I didn't fare so well in last night's bout.

SG #1:  (nervous giggles) I'm beginning to think you're fooling with me.

WT:  You're right . . . I broke it playing rugby.

SG #1:  Come on, seriously, what happened? (frustrated consternation)

WT:  Seriously, I broke it playing rugby. Really.

SG #1:  (big sigh) Fine. Don't tell me.  I guess I'll take you to meet some of the other girls.

WT:  Okay.

SG #1:  Hi Kimberly, have you met WashingTina?

Sorority Girl #2:  Hi WashingTina!  So, what happened to your face?

WT:  Well . . . 

And so it went.  And surprisingly enough, I actually did get into a sorority even though I looked like the loser of the Thrilla in Manila.  Say what you want about sorority girls, but at least some of them were able to see my inner beauty.

As far as rugby goes, that was my first and last match.  I decided to listen to my nose, and preserve the better features of my face for future bad decisions. Besides, sorority life was much more my speed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chronicles of a Brain Trust (Part 2)

The Brain Trust was always a cause for entertainment (more here).  Whether she was dressing inappropriately, crying at her desk, or making grand pronouncements about how smart the women in her family were (no kidding!), she never failed to get attention.  Take for instance the time she got caught for skipping out on Metro without paying.  Really.

Apparently days (or weeks, who knows?) prior, Brain Trust had lost her SmarTriip card, but did that stop her from riding?  Not a chance.  She would sidle up behind someone and walk quickly through the fare gate without paying.  It's a dirty little trick, but it happens.  One day, after sneaking through the gate, she was nabbed by a transit cop.  And according to her, this is how the conversation went:
Cop:  Can I see your SmarTrip card?

Brain Trust:  I lost it.

Cop:  It's illegal to go through the turnstile without paying.  I'm going to need to see some identification.

BT:  I don't have any.

Cop:  Then I'm going to have to arrest you.

BT:  Well, I might have a student ID. 
Cop:  I need something that shows who you are.
BT:  Well, I might have my Social Security card. 

I'm going to have to to interject here and say, a) who on earth carries her Social Security card in their wallet and b) who doesn't carry any identification with them on a regular basis?  Oh, right, Brain Trust.
Cop:  I need identification.
At this point, BT was digging through her purse under the cop's watchful eye.  In her bag she had a pill bottle full of niacin (she had recently watched a documentary about vitamins and swore that niacin was going to save her life--and that we should all take it too, because it would probably save ours).  The cop asked her what was in the bottle, because, as she put it, "apparently niacin looks like drugs. What-ever."  It was around this point that she started to get an attitude with the cop.  She told him he had no right to ask for her ID.  I'm not sure what Law & Order episode she learned that from, but I'm pretty sure he did have the right (then again, I'm no attorney).

Finally she produced either her Social Security card or student ID, I forget which, and the cop issued her a citation.  But the story doesn't end here, dear reader.  So indignant was she that she refused to pay the ticket.  She waited and waited and waited, regaling nearly everyone in our office with the story of the cop, the turnstile, and the niacin.  And then, with a giggle, she would say, "So if I don't pay the fine, they're going to swear out a warrant for my arrest."  On the last day she had to pay it, she asked my coworker about where the nearest police station was to go pay it.  He told her and she said, "That's too far.  I don't have time," and then heaved the put-upon sigh of a huffy 13-year-old. Guess what?  She didn't pay the ticket in time.  A point she enjoyed sharing with us all, repeatedly, including in meetings with outside clients.  I think she eventually did pay the ticket, but somewhere she's got a police record.  You know, because she's awesome.

The real kicker, though, and the event that sealed her fate, was a meeting two weeks prior to our annual conference.  We were preparing for an all-staff meeting that included our meeting planning contractors.  As we were assembling in the conference room before the meeting, a roach skittered across the floor.  Anyone else would've hit it with a shoe (girlish squeal, optional), but not Brain Trust.  Her response was much more . . . drastic.  She shrieked a shriek rivaled by the best horror movie vixens in Hollywood.  She yelled deep from her soul, as if she had been thrown from a plane.  She screamed is if she were being assaulted in a dark alley.  And then she ran, like Flo-Jo, out of the conference room and down the hall, leaving the rest of the staff open-mouthed and staring after her.  (In case you were wondering, I think someone did eventually hit the roach with a shoe.)

Not two days later, the staff, sans BT, was summoned to the conference room again to be informed that Brain Trust had been relieved of her duties and sent packing.  And thus the entertainment ended.  I was almost sad to see her go. Almost.  But then I remembered all of her antics and realized that despite my desire for more opportunities to roll my eyes, working with such a loose cannon wasn't really something that was desireable.  Still, every time I see a roach, I think of her.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chronicles of a Brain Trust (Part 1)

Have you ever met someone so stupid you can't believe they made it adulthood without getting hit by a car, falling down a flight of stairs, or drowning in the bathtub?  This is the story of just such a person.  She was a short-lived coworker of mine not too long ago.

We should have known what we were getting into when she showed up to her interview with the nightclub stamp from the night before still on the back of her hand.  Her outfit was also covered in cat hair.  A young woman in her mid-twenties, the Brain Trust, as she came to be called, seemed personable enough, but it was pretty early on that I realized she was fall-down stupid.  She sat in a cubicle just outside my office, so it was easy for me to hear her phone calls and the various sniveling fits she had during her short tenure in my office.  Another coworker, who was lucky enough to be seated in the cubicle next to hers, and I got hours of entertainment from her antics.

Our office is fairly relaxed, and we don't have a dress code, per se, but the Brain Trust would often show up inappropriately attired for work.  The first sign was the day she showed up in a sequined mini-dress paired with a long sweater-coat and Ugg boots.  I really thought, had she sneezed, we might've seen her moneymaker.  But this was the least of her offenses.  Take for instance the time we had an all-staff interview.  The conference room was exceedingly warm that day.  Brain Trust had clearly dressed for the occasion in yoga pants, sneakers, a t-shirt, and a fleece.  As luck would have it, I got the lucky spot next to her during this meeting (that's the last time I show up a minute late for anything).  The interview concluded and I sat there fanning myself with my note pad.  BT leaned over to me and said, "It's so hot in here," to which I agreed.  She went on, "and I can't take my fleece off because I forgot to wear a bra today."  Cue jaw drop.   What does one say to a comment like that?  First of all, why did she feel the need to share that information with me?  Secondly, how on earth do you forget a bra?  I'd like to take a moment to poll my fellow bra-wearers out there: has there ever been a day, from the time you were, say, 13, when you forgot to put on a bra?  You simply don't forget to put on a bra.  Not possible. 

Another time there was a several-day-long computer training class that some of us had to take at a remote office in Bethesday.  Brain Trust, as one of the main administrative assistants, had a particular reason to attend the training.  Computer training is boring.  Let's make no bones about that.  And three days of it straight can be downright excruciating.  But if it's an aspect of your work that you need in order to succeed at your job, you suck it up, pay attention, and get the most out of it that you can.  Then you go home and drink heavily until the next day. Unless you are Brain Trust.  In that case, you minimize the training window, open up your browser, and start talking to your sleezy boyfriend on G-Chat.  This is how she spent three days.  On the fourth day, after getting caught, she just minimized the window and sat there staring at the screen.  I may have seen drool spilling down her chin.

Brain Trust regularly ended up crying at her desk.  The littlest thing could set her off.  One day she was asked to call for a refill prescription for her boss.  When the pharmacy informed her that there were no longer any refills left, BT lost it.  She dissolved into hysteria, sobbing into the phone that she had to have it.  That the world might end if she couldn't get the scrip filled.  My coworker and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.  We were getting used to her crying jags.  There had been another time when her mother, who looked like a Real Housewife of Tampa (I know this because once she came to visit and BT brought her to the office), was scheduled to go on a blind date with someone who may or may not have been a registered sex offender.  I learned know this because she was constantly talking with her mother on the phone about her mother's dates.  One conversation (which I only heard one side of) went something like this, "So, did you get the restraining order?" [pause--insert imagined Mama-Drama here] "Well, he was stalking you." [pause--more Mama-Drama] "But, that's not fair. He's dangerous. He should be in jail." [pause--more Mama-Drama] And then she began to snivel and cry.  Her words became unitelligible.  

Another day she was trying to print a spreadsheet from Excel.  Since she neglected to set the print area, her printer continued to spit out plain sheets of paper, much to her confusion and chagrin.  Coworker and I could hear her huffing and puffing, lost in her own befuddlement.  My coworker, who is a much nicer person than I, finally took pity on her (after about the 35th muttering of "what the hell!?"), and went to see what was wrong.  "This spreadsheet just keeps printing out blank pages, so I keep taking the paper out and putting it back in the printer."  Coworker stopped the print job and got her set up to print properly.  He then walked back to his desk, shaking his head.  There was a lot of head-shaking that went on during her short tenure . . . [To Be Continued . . .]

Monday, January 9, 2012

There She Is . . .

A friend recently sent me a video of this weirdly crazy child from the trainwreck TV show Toddlers and Tiaras.  For the unintiated, this show is about (what else) toddlers who are making their way through the beauty pageant circuit.  I've never actually seen the show, but based on snippets from news stories and viral videos, the nearest I can tell is that these little kids are dressed up like washed up 35-year-old divorcees on a two-for-one whiskey sour night at the local watering hole or Dolly Parton (I can't really tell which), and set on stage to perform karoake to "Stand By Your Man" or some such.  Evidence below:

They're just little kids, right?  They can't help it, right?  But their mothers (and in few cases, fathers) can, right?  First of all, these parents have named their children things like Eden, Kylie, Kayleigh, Ayzia, and Kinnadie, and "encourage" them to compete in pageants such as "America's Trezured Dollz" (it's real, I swear, Google it).  Apparently nobody can spell quite right and an extra "z," "y," or "eigh" is to be desired -- bonus points if you change any other letter to a "k".  While little Payriz is on stage doing her "beauty," momma is in the audience giving her cues.  And by cues, I mean she's full-on doing the dance moves and acting out the entire routine (often while yelling something along the lines of "Git it girl!") for her babygirl who has been hairsprayed, spraytanned, false-teethed, and lipsticked within an inch of her life. 

It's easy to laugh at the spectacle and be appalled by the behavior of the mothers, but it scares me most because I could totally see myself standing in the back of the room, hopped up on RedBull acting out a Lady Gaga number in my a-little-too-tight Juicy Couture velour track suit with the faux fur collar and permanently surprised face, while I cheer on my "dazzling babygirl."  I mean, who doesn't want their babygirl to nail her beauty?  Who doesn't want their babygirl to sparkle in her Vegas-wear?  I can feel my adrenaline surging just thinking about it.  Sadly, WH and I don't have any kids, but I promise not to get spraytan in its eyes and I will always yell "Git it girl!" louder than anyone else, if you just let me borrow her for the afternoon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Two for the Road

Two years. Hard to believe.  There's not a lot to say, but I feel I'd be a little remiss if I didn't at least memorialize another year of blogging with a little something.   It's been a fun, if at times bumpy (stinky, squishy, sweaty, slightly obscene), ride.  But I'm in it for the long haul (or until that book deal comes through), and I hope you'll stick with me as I do it.

Happy Blog-iversary to me!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let's Not and Say We Did

I have recently seen several stories about reverse bucket lists . . . lists of things that people don't want to try before they die.  And in these days of trying everything, living life to the fullest, tasting the rainbow, and what have you, I love the idea of being honest about stuff you'd rather not do. And so, dear readers, without further ado, here is a list of things I would not like to try before I meet my maker:
Hot Yoga -- a dear friend of mine introduced me to yoga a couple of years ago, and I could not be happier about that.  It's freeing, challenging, and relaxing all at the same time.  But what I cannot bear the thought of is doing yoga in 105° heat. You can keep your hot yoga.

Climbing Everest -- I mean really.  I climb four flights of stairs just to get home every day and that's about enough for me.  People die doing that shit.  You can also keep your Everest.

Visit all 50 States -- with apologies to the ones in the middle, I've been to 30 of the 50, but I think I'm set.  Sure, I'd love to see Alaska and Hawaii, but should I leave this earthly paradise without having set foot in Oklahoma or Idaho, I'll be alright.

Shoot a Gun -- please don't go all NRA on me.  I know I have the right to bear arms, but that's enough for me.  I don't feel the need to exercise it.  Bang, bang.

Go Camping -- this might not count.  I've been camping.  Sort of.  One night with the Girl Scouts in 4th grade.  Platform tents. Spiders. Outhouses. 'Nuff said. Just make me a reservation at the Sheraton, please.

Dive in a Shark Cage -- or at all, for that matter.  If we had been meant to spend extended periods under water, we'd have been born with gills. I swam with dolphins once and spent 12 years on the swim team as a kid.  I think I'm all set with the water.

Burning Man -- seriously. I'm 36 years old and I wear suits to work. I think that pretty much disqualifies me from attending anyway.  (See also, Go Camping.)

Eat Organ Meat -- brains, hearts, livers, no thanks.  I've tried a lot of things (octopus, alligator, even bear), but I really just don't want or need to pretend I'm enjoying sweetbreads or chitlins, thankyouverymuch.  This goes double for blood pudding.
Read Another Book By Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- because you can never get those plodding hours back.  Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you thought Love in a Time of Cholera was brilliant and all, but honestly, it made me want to hang myself.  Never again.

Take a Spinning Class -- biking is not my thing, even around the flat landscape in Rehoboth.  I can't think of any reason why an otherwise sane individual would want to combine club music, dim lighting, and extreme bike riding.  (See also Hot Yoga.)
I'm sure there are more.  I can't think of them at the moment, but maybe I'll update this list in future posts.  What things would you not like to try before you die?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

That's All, She Wrote

Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved to write.  I kept diaries throughout my school years.  When everyone else complained about writing papers in college, I actually enjoyed it.  That might be why I went into a profession that requires me to spend most of my day each day writing.  When I started this blog, nearly two years ago, it was so that I could write what I want when I want; a creative outlet to supplement the not-so-creative writing I do at work. 

My first year blogging, I was pretty dedicated and managed to get (I think) quite a following.  Friends, family, and even a few strangers read and commented on the blog.  I was covered in a couple of publications (holy cow!) and it was a great boost for my creative spirit.  But year two wasn't such a success.  A friend of my mother's recently asked me what had happened to WashingTina, and I had no answer.  I thought for a minute and realized that 2011 was a bit of a bust.  Nothing particularly interesting happened, WH and I didn't travel anywhere, and I was going through a bit of a "blue period."  But unlike Picasso, my blue period did not beget any creativity whatsoever.  As it turns out, I'm not of Hemmingway's ilk, and my best material doesn't so much come when I'm unhappy (or drunk, as it were). 

But last week four things happened that made me realize that this is too important to not keep up.  First was my mother's friend's question (and further encouragement: see Wise Crackers).  The others stemmed from gifts I received for Christmas.  My sister gave me a WashingTina scrapbook, illustrating and highlighting some of the memorable moments from the blog.  She and my mother had spent a great deal of time selecting their favorite stories and putting the book together.  Just listening to them gush about the blog and the stories and how hard it was to pick just a few, really struck me.  Someone besides me enjoys the blog.  Someone besides me felt the void of my absence here.  Someone wanted more. 

Thirdly, WH gave me a book by a writer (duh, who else writes books?!) that reminded him of me.  As I started reading her words, her talk about writing, I was inspired.  I was reminded how gratifying, how cathartic it is to write.  How important writing is, and always has been, in my life. 

Finally, my father-in-law, who had never read my blog before, spent some time with the scrapbook on Christmas reading my writing.  He was so impressed, he told me that when I write my book, he plans to be the first in line to buy a copy.  From someone that I respect immensely, this was the last little message I needed.  I must write.  For myself.  For the people who love me.  And maybe, just maybe, for some of those people who first found their way here, and who might find their way back again. 

This New Year's Day, I'm resolving to write.  It might not always be great, but it will be here.  And I want to hear from you . . . because it matters to me.  And it makes me happy.  I'm not so much kissing my blue period goodbye . . . I'm just going to write my way through it.  And maybe when I come out on the other side, I'll have left a little nugget of something worth reading behind.