Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In which I am incredibly pissed, bemusedly surprised, and then mildly insulted, by the actions of someone who I never met

As I came home on the metro, to the supposedly "secure" metro parking lot, I went through my usual routine. I go up to my car, unlock the door, sit down, and then notice that something is wrong, vis-à-vis the fact that my passenger side seat is not supposed to be covered in broken glass, and that there's supposed to be a window there. And a radio. And my dash is supposed to be intact. F#&k. Now, I am incredibly pissed.

So, I sit in my car, wondering how this can happen to me, again (happened a couple of years ago, same MO, same target, different place). I call the wife, who is, of course, wonderful and supportive. She offers to come get me, and I tell her "no, no. I'll just go back into the station and call the police." Sigh.

I trudge back down to the station, and get the Station Manager. I explain through the glass partition surrounding their booth, and the drive-through quality intercom, that my car was broken into. He asks me if my car was parked in 5A, which it was. He says that they already knew, and that an officer had already been there. He then said that he would call the officer back to take a report. This exchange was as decently peasant as can be expected, considering the quality of the speaker and the ambient noise level, resulting in me saying "what? could you repeat that?" a lot.

And the Metro Transit cop comes. he asks me all of the details, etc. Very nice, very professional and friendly. I have no complaints on that end, surprisingly. He tells me that several cars were broken into. This does make me feel less alone, though not any better. Then he asks me to describe my radio. I do so, as best as I can, figuring it's for the report. He then, asks me "is this your radio?"

With close to a magician's flourish, he produces my car radio, fully intact, with the mounting brackets still on it, and all of the cables attached, none the worse for wear from their sojourn out of my car. Neat trick. I am now bemusedly surprised.

He goes on to explain that the person robbed my car, then took a bunch of stuff from another guy's car. This included, apparently, a couple of TVs and the guy's radio. Then, some third guy left the valet key somewhere in his brand new car. So, our enterprising robber broke in, took the valet key, and stole third guy's car. he then loads third guy's car with the stuff from second guy's car. He leaves my radio on the ground beside third (or second) guy's car. And drives away with his ill gotten gains.

I am mildly comforted by the fact that I still have a radio. And that it could have been worse for me. And, that since this guy graduated from burglary to Grand Theft Auto, the police might actually look for him. But maybe not. Anyway, I take the elevator back up to where my car is, to figure out what to do next. I call my wife, and talk to her while the elevator goes up. When I get to my floor, there's my wife, cell phone in hand, completely unbidden. She's pretty great.

I then drove the car to a neighbor of my folks. They have a garage that they let me put the car in, because I didn't know how long it will be until the window gets fixed. And I don't own a tarp or car cover. So, I'm driving along and pondering that while I am glad I have insurance, this is still going to cost me at least a hundred bucks, and easily twice that in time off and annoyance. At least I have the radio. Which is good. But in the midst of my pondering, I can't help being mildly insulted. The guy went through the effort of breaking my glass, tearing up my dash, ripping out my radio, and taking it with him. But after all that effort, he didn't think enough of the radio to take it with him. Really, was it that bad of a radio?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Twice today, this same person, while still having her conversations, has asked me, twice, to stop making noises that distract her (chewing gum, and tapping a pen). Irony is very, very thick.


One of the problems with being cooped up with people all day is that there is very little privacy. The chief problem, though, is that due to the bullpen/cube farm-like nature of my current existence, there is no protection from other people's noises.

Disclaimer: the person I am about to complain about is generally the sweetest, nicest people in my office, if not the world. I don't really bear her any ill will. Whew. Conscience assuaged.

Most people, in my office, realize that their conversations, especially their phone conversations, can be distracting. So they use their inside voices, or, like me, attempt to have all personal conversations in another room. When I was a temp, this was easy. No one had their own phone lines, so people could take calls on their cell, and move to a place where no one could hear them. It was a natural thing, but to prevent annoying others, and so that no one could hear their business. But now we have our own phone lines, and for some people, the concept that their conversations may be bothering others goes out the window. When I get/make a phone call, I take it using the quietest voice I can muster, or I go use the land line in the file room. So does almost everybody in my office.

Except for one person, the one who sits right next to me. (The one who, incidentally, just got a new, LOUD cell phone with about twenty different ringers. And who leaves it on her desk when she goes out of the room, so that whoever calls her will try her cell phone, make the loudest, most distracting noises possible. this happens at least three times a day.) To be fair, this morning she stated that she will set her phone to vibrate, admitting that she forgets to do that.

But the real problem is that, cell phone or land line, this person has conversations at her desk. With no concept of an inside voice. And she spends a decent amount of time on the phone. Today, for example, she's trying to arrange a party. This requires several phone calls. Loud ones. Ones that penetrate through my headphones and my carefully created protective noise ward of ipod and radio paradise music. A voice which, while normally pleasant, takes on a different aspect when It has to break through my aural defenses. I am trying not to listen, but her voice reaches into my brain, shoves in vodka-soaked needles, attaches those needles via jumper cables to a the batteries of 1993 Chevy Suburban, and starts the car. Fingernails on the blackboard of my soul. Rendering me completely unable to concentrate, or work. It's killing me. Please tell me that other people have had similar experiences. You know, people that have a habit/behavior/lack of social awareness that make you want to kill them, if it were not for the fact that they are otherwise incredibly nice people, and doubtless have no idea how annoying that that particular thing is.

Please tell me that other people have contemplated unspeakable acts of swift and blinding violence. And then decided not to, because, you know, Prison Rape.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The other night began like every other night before it. I was in bed, reading before I crashed for the night. As I'm laying there, reading "Our Stolen Future" (nothing like some light bedtime reading, eh?), something comes skittering across my chest at approximately 1,000 miles per hour. Being the calm, reasonable girl that I am, I flung my book up into the air (picture it ever so slowly going end over end until it lands on the floor-I flung it right good), jumped out of bed, squealed & flailed my arms wildly. I might have hopped up & down a couple times for good measure as well. While squealing. And flailing. Because I'm all about the dignity here.

Once I calmed down, glanced around & realized that no one saw my shame, so therefore it could be saved for blogging, I started looking around to locate the culprit. On the side of the bed, on my lovely 400 thread count sateen pristine white sheet, was a tiny, green spider. FUCKER. In my BED. My SANCTUARY. Where I spend all the time playing Alpha Centauri & reading Sci-fi novels. HOW DARE HE? After a moment's pause, I pounced on my tissue box and crushed the life out of the little beasty, feeling rather guilty about it. I really should have gotten a cup and a sheet of paper & trapped him so I could release him into his natural habitat (everyone does this, right? trap the bug for safe release? no? hmmm?).

That's when I realized that my murder was highly justified as it was retaliation for the FIFTY spider bites festooned across my pale skin. Seriously, they're EVERYWHERE, because I was clearly sleeping with the enemy for a few nights. Not to share too much info, but I only sleep in my underpants, which means there were plenty of places to bite me. Including, but not limited to: the top of my right foot; all up & down my arms & legs; my cleavage, my back, my face, and my personal favorite-between two of my TOES. Because nothing makes your day more than an itch that's impossible to scratch.

So moral of the story is that I'm not sure if I only won the battle or the way. For spider bitage does not make for hot cleavage, and I have some dates forthcoming. Drat. Also, hush about the entomology classes & the squealing like a little girl. Spiders aren't really insects, after all.

In which my tranquility is disturbed. . .

As some of you may know, I just bought a condo. A beautiful condo (at Project price) in which I live ALONE. Sans the brother. Sans any roommates. Just me in my beautiful palace of aloneness. You may see a regular apartment with rooms and such, but to me it's a magical place where there are unicorns and sprites frolicking in my utopia of wonderfulness. Where I sit on my own (beautiful)couch and watch whatever I want on television; and I can be as slothful as I want without being ashamed (and I am so very slothful). I can ignore anyone who knocks on my door (because I'm a hermit and kind of a bitch) because I know it's not from anything I (meaning the brother) has done wrong. Like let the dog loose and have his anal glands explode all over the neighbors lawn. Or run into a neighbors house while they have the door open and pee on the couch (this was the dog). Or leave boxer shorts in spaghetti sauce on the living room floor (this was the brother). This is why living by myself is beautiful and wonderful.

But the peace is disturbed every morning at approximately 4 am by the FUCKING BASTARD WHOSE CAR ALARM GOES OFF. Every. Time. A. Train. Goes. By. Oh, and in case I didn't mention, there is a train track directly behind the building. So the car alarm goes off for approximately thirty quadrillion hours. Then it stops. And I am relieved and try to go back to sleep. Then it starts again. And again. So I look out the window last night to see if I can see which car it is. It is a stupid muscle car that is black and a Mustang or some other such type of car. And it is EVIL and belongs to SATAN. It is Satan's car, that he drives to pick up evil people and drop them into hell.

So if this is the only fly in the ointment of my bliss, then it's not so bad. I mean, I have unicorns and sprites, that should make up for the evil of the car alarm, right? Well, fuck that. Baseball bat meets car. If I had a baseball bat. It's my birthday coming up soon - a baseball bat would be appreciated. More appreciated would be the death of satan's car.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Benihana Volcano. Squared.

There is no cuisine-related show better than that provided by Japanese Hibachi-style restaurants, such as the esteemed Benihana. Well, maybe if they combined Benihana with a Hooters, and the chefs were Hooters girls. Benihooters, they could call it. I think I need to talk to someone about getting one of those started...

But I digress. Food show. Benihana. The chefs fling food around; toss knives in the air; and create what I now know as the "Benihana Volcano," where slices of onion are piled up and oil is poured inside to create a steaming pile of oniony goodness. But alas, I saw this not once but TWICE this weekend. And all because I wanted to entertain my mom for her birthday.

To back up, I haven't been to a Benihana in years. I think the last time was Christmas Eve of 1996. It was my sophomore year of college, and I was working part-time at Radio Shack. Being in retail, I had to stay at school through Christmas Eve to work during the busiest few days of the year. I then drove home, after we closed at about 3 pm, through a sleet storm. For dinner, we decided to go to Benihana. This apparently was also the last time my mom had been, and I seemed to remember that we enjoyed it, though left smelling STRONGLY of grease.

The idea of taking my mom to dinner and a show came to my lovely wife on Saturday evening, as we were dining with some of her friends at the Benihana in Bethesda. We all thought it would be a fun place to have dinner. However, that is also what my mom requested for her birthday- something fun. So, being such mom-pleasers as we are, we suggested Benihana as a place to go the following night, hoping that she wouldn't be that interested, but knowing that we could deal with it if she so chose.

Well, she did so choose. And she and her boyfriend loved every minute of it. It is an entertaining way to eat, and we were very pleased that they enjoyed themselves so much. It was rather humorous that we had the same waitress both nights. Sharon thinks that I'm imagining that she recognized us, but I think she took a long look at us when we sat down. Fortunately, we had a different chef, and he was much better than that from Saturday night. His name was David (read: Da-VEED, as if from Latin America) and he made lots of jokes deliberately confusing Japan and Mexico. Our South Asian chef from the night before was not nearly as entertaining.

So all in all, though we ate at the same restaurant (and let me tell you, not a cheap one) two nights in a row, it was all worth it. However, I'm sure it will be another 11 years before we go back. The next time I see something called a volcano, I want to see some lava, damnit.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Oh, Brother....

My Friday began like most Fridays, awakening at 5:30 AM, surfing the internet, consuming 5 cups of coffee, settling in at work. Until the phone rang somewhere shortly before 10 AM. On the other end was my brother, my older sibling asking me if I'd seen his laptop case. Of course, being at my office, I did not see his laptop case, and told him as much. At which point he & my mother ask me to go check my car. You know, as if I have nothing better to do at work then run down to my car.

Of course, blood is thicker than irritation, so I complain bitterly to my co-worker that my family CLEARLY thinks I do NOTHING at work all day, but gamely run down to the car. Opening the back door, I spy a black nylon bag. A laptop-sized bag. Calling my brother back, I inform him that yes, he DID leave it in my car, and WHY COULDN'T HE HAVE TOLD ME THIS YESTERDAY? So maybe I could have dropped it off BEFORE WORK? No worries, he says, check & see what's inside, maybe he won't need it.

Opening the bag, I see some old pens, receipts, the usual. Until I arrive at a book. THE ONLY ADVANCE COPY OF THEIR BOOK IN EXISTANCE, apparently. As Matt begins swearing, my mind races, as I had taken off a few days this week, and I know what's coming. I tell him I'll ask my boss if I can take the book to him. If it's that important, I'm going to look like a total asshole if I don't bring it to the airport. Oh yes, did I mention his plane is leaving? In about 2 hours? From Dulles, which is like an hour away from my office in MD? Awesome.

and begin shutting down my computer. But my boss is in one of her endless meetings, and I need to track her down. As the clock is ticking, I start running across the office, bursting into the WRONG meeting, then finding the correct one, where I actually say to my boss: "My brother is a fucking idiot & left his laptop case in my car. I have to get to Dulles, STAT." Seriously, I am a tool. Luckily, my boss is decent, and lets me leave, as I run out, yelling back, "I promise I'll finish all my loans today" and take off.

I jump in my car, which is running a little low on gas, and the low tire light is on, but fuck it, I don't have time for this shit, and speed off. As everyone knows, I have a lead foot. Speeding along, I slow down momentarily any place I know cops might hide along 270 & 495. Racing on to the toll road, I slow to what seems like a near crawl, but is slightly above the speed limit & call my mom, who is taking my brother & sister-in-law to the airport. Turns out I'm less than 5 minutes behind them, though I was 20 miles further from the airport. I race into the Dulles parking lot, roll down my window & hand off the laptop case. Mom flings $4.00 at me for parking & I speed off, back to work-for though I will work from home that afternoon, I still have a lot on my plate, and need to get back to my files. As it stands, I know I'm going to be working late on my own dime to make up for this. Good times.

Total time to get from office to dulles to home: 1.5 hours. Right in the middle of my work day. Amount of street cred lost at work? Immeasurable. Awesome. Who takes off in the middle of the day to drive a BOOK to their brother? Their OLDER brother, I might add. Isn't he supposed to be the responsible one?

Let me tell you, he owes me big time. I'd better get a good Xmas present from him this year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Smelly guy and the unexpected surprise

The chief problem with the metro, and with all public transportation, is one that I feel down in the depths of my misanthropic soul. It's that you have to share it with the public. The rude, self-interested, loud, jostling, inconsiderate of their fellow man public. However, the following story isn't about intentional rudeness, just about how riding with one's fellow human beings isn't often that great.

I mention this because of my ride this morning. I got into the train car, and found an open seat, right behind a sleeping guy. I generally don't have a problem with sleeping guys. They can occasionally be a rich source of amusement, as was the case about a week ago, where a guy on a packed train was snoring so loudly, and in such a rich variety of buzz saw tones, that all of the other passengers had a quiet laugh at him, in a beautiful expression of communal mockery. Plus, you can’t really get mad at a sleepy guy. The metro can be relaxing, and sometimes I have fallen asleep on the train. No problems there. So, I sat behind him, opened up my paper (the Express, motto: 'It's a free paper, so fuck quality, we'll just make a the whole thing from AP reports and slap the Post's name on it') and settled in for the ride.

The train began to move. We were on our way. And that's when I noticed it. There was a strange smell in the air. Not a pleasant aroma. I wondered where it was from. What it was. Then my keen senses collaborated with my brain to produce the answer. I know that smell. It's "eau de unwashed dude." A particularly piquant vintage, as well. Yowsa. why didn't I notice it before? And where is it coming from? Oh no.... It's from sleeping guy. How could I have not noticed this before? He didn't look smelly. I even did a brief recon before I sat down behind him, having experienced smelly guys before. The guy was dressed reasonably well. He wasn't going into the office, but he wasn't dressed like a homeless guy or anything. He was wearing a fairly new t-shirt and jeans, carrying a backpack that was in good condition. He basically looked like he was on his way to work, and was catching a nap on the way in. There was no indication of odor whatsoever.

I immediately looked around. by the time I had come to this odiferous epiphany, the seats around me had become filled. so, I couldn't move seats, really. I would have to tough it out. Well, it's unpleasant, but not too bad. When suddenly...Sleepy guy began to stir. He lifted his smelly head upwards, yawned, and sniffled. And here my troubles began.

Because a new cacophony of smells came forth from smelly guy. None of them pleasant. There was the overall funk of unwashed guy with bad B.O. An experienced commuter can tune this out. but when he rose, and yawned, there were some newcomers. The ones I could identify were chronic halitosis, some sort of cold-related snot smell, and flatulence that seemed oddly vivid. But there were others, and none of them were good. These were the wild, untamed aromas of a person who had not cleansed himself, possibly for days. And now, as he was regaining consciousness, the aromas were rising up, as if to ride forth from Castle Funkenstein, and strangle the villagers.

Now, I could do nothing. Helplessly trapped in my seat, I simply buried my face in the paper, and tried to breathe through my ears. Since that wouldn't work, and is actually physiologically impossible, I breathed through my mouth, and thought of clean laundry. I simply thought "he's got to get off sometime. Or I will. But one way or another, this will be over."

I tried to tune out the symphony of smells jostling for attention in my sinuses. I was mostly successful, and waited, trying not to breathe too much, or too deeply. Then, the train made a stop. Smelly guy picked up his backpack. He was getting up! He was leaving! I prepared to gulp in a snootful of (relatively) fresh air. And I thought to myself: why was this guy so smelly. Why were his odors so prevalent, especially the farting? Then, I got my answer as he stood up, and it was the capstone of my Metro experience this morning.

When smelly guy stood up, I saw why. Smelly guy had no belt, and as he got to his feet, I saw that his pants had slid down a considerable bit. My view was filled with a generous portion of uncensored man-ass. At least a quarter cheek, on both sides. Stinky guy was not wearing underwear. This, combined with his rakishly low-slung pants, meant that all of his smells, especially the fart-related ones, were coming to me almost completely unfiltered. As I pondered this, the man-ass retreated from my site, and then resolved into an ever-shrinking vision of smelly guy leaving the car, and shuffling onto the platform to go to work, or wherever he was headed. Off to moon other people. God speed, smelly guy. I took a deep breath of clean air, and watched as someone else sat in smelly guy's vacated seat. I took a moment to ponder what the new guy thought, having sat in the residual funk of smelly guy. I briefly imagined their confusedly crinkled nose, and then went back to my paper.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

American Consumerism. And Babies.

We have a little, oddly-shaped closet in our basement. It's in the storage area, and is probably about four by eight feet. When we bought the house, we thought that maybe someday we could make it into a little darkroom. It's just about the right size, and we have plenty of storage space.

Fast forward about two months. The dreams of the darkroom have died. It is now a storage room, and is almost full. Everything in the room is baby-related.

Now before any of you start jumping to conclusions (I know you all have the "Jumping to Conclusions" mat), we are NOT having a baby. Not now, at any rate, and probably not for about three years or so. However, my lovely wife is the youngest of four kids, who have five children among them. And they kept all their baby crap for us. Actually, I am not complaining about this. It is great, because we are going to have practically everything we need for a baby. For a baby shower, we can just ask for a truckload of diapers. It will be great.

However, all of this baby crap has enlightened me to the money-making machine that is a baby. Sharon went to a baby shower a couple of weeks ago, and was describing to me some of the gifts the mom-to-be received. Each gift was more ridiculous than the next. The culmination of the list almost made me drive the car off the road. The mom received a towel for the baby. But the towel has a HOOD. Why on earth would anyone need a towel with a HOOD??? What's wrong with using a normal size towel and swaddling the baby? It's not like you are bathing the child in a nearby stream where it's 14 degrees and are afraid about the loss of body heat. Parents bathe their children inside, where unless you are like my parents, the house is at least 70 degrees.

The mom-to-be had registered for this item. Apparently she had asked for one, because she obviously didn't know any better. Her shower attendees quickly corrected her: one is certainly not enough. She needs four or FIVE hooded towels!

Seriously, even the cleanest of us don't wash our towels every day. For a baby, are you going to be any different? Why do you need a hooded towel at all, let alone FIVE? This was compounded later than evening when we were visiting a friend of Sharon's, who has a two-year-old daughter. She had two whole drawers full of sippy cups. Apparently, Mom preferred one type of sippy cup, where the day-care center required another type. So after she had bought 10 sippy cups, she had to buy ten more in another style.

What the hell is wrong with this country? Why do we need hooded towels, or multiple types of sippy cups? And why do we buy into this crap? The second couple we visited thought the hooded towels are great. Otherwise normal, sane people start to sing the praises of boutique towels and other such bank-account leeches. Apparently there is no stronger kool-aid than what they serve in the maternity ward.