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Archive for July, 2009

Peaches and Herb

My father celebrated his 59th birthday this week.

Yes, he’s young and no, he doesn’t act it.

Anyway, for his birthday, my brother and his girlfriend decided to get him a kitten.  This is an absurd gift idea for many reasons.

Briefly, here we go.

1.  My parents travel a lot and they don’t really have time for a pet.

2.  My mother is allergic to cats.

3.  My mother doesn’t like cats.

4.  My aunt, my mother’s youngest sister, is very allergic to cats.

5.  Neither of my mother’s sisters like cats.

6.  I am very allergic to cats.

7.  I am agnostic about cats, but I definitely don’t want them in my home near my pillows or on my bed or otherwise near my stuff.

Okay, 7 is an odd number for a list, but I can’t think of anything else.

Anyway, despite the coalition against the cat idea, my brother – rightly – thought that my father needed a healthy project.  And if that meant that it caused my mother unrest, all the better.

So my brother told my father that his birthday gift was a kitten.  Off they went to meet these kittens and they saw the one – a boy – that they were going to adopt.  My father fell in love.  My mother was skeptical.  After watching this kitten and his smaller sister playing, my parents decided that they couldn’t separate them.  That’s rights.  So instead of one cat, they got two.

Right now, in my mother’s house – and near her pillows and such – are two kittens.  (Talk about words I never thought I’d hear myself say… or write!)  They are black with a little white here and there, and my father loves them.  He bought them toys before they even got home.  I can say, almost definitively, that my father did NOT buy a single item for me or my brother prior to our respective arrivals.

Anyway, in one of my mother’s rants about these cats, she was going on and on and on about how shocked she is about how excited my father is about these kittens.  She said, “I mean, really.  In 34 years of marriage, I’ve never seen him this excited.  I don’t get it.”  I then hear in the background from a male voice, “Reen… of course he’s excited… he’s about to get to new pussies.”  It was at that moment that I realized that my mother was calling me from her friend Jerry’s house.  Jerry, who has been doing my mother’s hair since they were both 19, and who has never produced the same shade of blonde twice.

Even my mother has admitted – amid a stream of anti-cat rhetoric, mind you – that these kittens are cute.  In fact, she referred to the girl kitten as “My little girl.”  This used to be me.  But I’m okay with a little competition.  Really.

Deep breath.

Still, my mother can’t help herself.  She likes these cuddly kittens, but she also sorta hates them.  She wants to play with them, but she doesn’t really want to touch them or have them touch her.  She wants to treat them like her new babies, who she will love and photograph and talk about to anyone who will listen, but she also finds them irritating, dirty, and sorta gross.

G-d, I really am my mother.  This is a problem.  Which I will save for another time.

So I asked my mother what the kittens names were.

Me:  So what did you name these kittens?

Mom:  Your father named them.

Me:  Ok, what did HE name them?

Mom:  Peaches and Herb [said like the name Herbert].

Me:  Silence.

Mom:  Wait, Peaches and herb [said like the noun].

Me:  Wait, what?

Mom:  That’s their names.  Peaches and Herb.  [Said like the name.]

Me:  [fit of laughter]

Mom:  It’s that ridiculous.  I mean, who names a cat Peaches and herb.  [Said like the noun.]

Me:  [Still cracking up.]  Ma, it is Herb, like the name, or herb like the spice?

Mom:  It’s what I said.  Peaches is the girl and herb, I mean, Herb – like Herbie – is the boy.

Me: [Still laughing uncontrollably.]  Where the fuck did Daddy come up with these names?!

Mom:  They’re singers.  Peaches and herb.  [Saying it like the noun again.]

Me:  I’ve never heard of them.  I’m going to Google them right now.

Googling produced a number of hits… and then this.

I know Peaches and Herb!  Love this song!  Oh, and don’t forget this one…

I spoke with my father today and asked him about the names.  He said that Peaches and Herb are just under consideration right now.  Apparently there are other names in the mix.  My mother is pushing for Thelma and Louise or Lucy and Ethel.  I don’t think she’s accepted that one of the kittens is a boy.

We’ll see what happens.  But now I’m rooting for Peaches and Herb.  Or herb.

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I am super down these days.  Like SUPER down.  Like crazy beyond beyond.  Like anxiety ridden beyond beyond.  Like ultra sensitive beyond beyond.  Basically, I’m a mess.  And, sadly, I don’t see a light at the end of this tunnel.

Sooooo, I thought that, instead of obsessing about the things that I continue to obsess about, I’d focus on the two new things in my life* that make me laugh.

[*Let’s be clear.  New in my life, not new in the world.]

Okay, here we go.

  • Head Case on Starz with Alexandra Wentworth

For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of watching episode after episode of Head Case while laying on your friend’s floor following a late night drinking session that ended in daylight hours, you are truly missing out.

Head Case is hilarious.  HILARIOUS, I tell you!  Wentworth plays a therapist to the stars.  Not only is Wentworth brilliantly broken – and crazy – the stars who sit down on the couch – playing themselves, mind you – are equally brilliantly broken – and crazy.

But don’t take my word for it.  Here are two clips.

Okay, it’s not Arrested Development, but what is?

  • Party Down, also on Starz, starring Jane Lynch (and others)

Another little treat from Starz is Party Down, a show about a misadventures of a pink-bow-tie-wearing catering company.  There are numerous recognizable faces in the show, but Jane Lynch is always a stand out for me.

Here’s a clip.

Again, no Arrested Development.  But it’s something to help keep your mind off that splitting headache.

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As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I like my job.  I won’t go so far as to say love, because, I mean, it is a job after all.  And once I got the swing of unemployment, that really was a better gig.  It didn’t pay as well, but a better gig nonetheless.

Still, I like this job.  I like my boss.  I like my coworkers.  I am even coming to like the issues I work on.

But there is one pretty big problem.

Turns out, this jobs sorta turns me into one of those DC d-bags.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones who think that people outside the beltway are wack-tovists who don’t get it and are sabotaging their own efforts.  The ones who are so supremely partisan that they revel in the misfortunes of the other side.  The ones who can’t have a normal conversation about a national issue without raising her voice and being a total jerk.

When I was lawyering and working at a firm, I, and the other lawyers I hung out with, mostly refrained from talking about work and “the law,” especially when non-lawyers were around.  Because, please believe, the last thing a lawyer (at least, one like me) wants to talk about is “the law.”  At least, not with a other lawyers over cocktails.  That’s not a fun time for me.  I mean, that is what work hours are for, right?

Anyway, I sorta feel the same way about politics.  I never want to talk about politics, regardless of who’s around – a knowledgeable politico or a random person on the street.  And definitely NOT someone with a clipboard.

But, different from the law where all you really have to offer is some arcane details about your motion practice (that’s not exactly true, but still), politics affects us all and everyone has a point of view.

And bad feelings by Dems about the Dem Party is something I just can’t seem to let slide.  I sorta feel obligated to fight the fight for the Party and for my boss:  Congress is working hard on this.  Members are spending every waking hour on this.  Yes, we have considered that possibility, and no, it’s not politically feasible.  And yes, even Democrats – even the most progressive ones out there, even with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and a 260-something strong caucus, and even with 60 votes in the Senate – need to think about political feasibility.  And no, that doesn’t make him or her a sell out.

So, instead of doing my normal deal and just answering the question I want to regardless of what was asked, I take these issues on head on.  Often loudly and rudely.  And I sound like a d-bag.

Moving forward, to sound less d-baggish when politics comes up, I am going to try to implement the following tactics:

  • When an off-color comment is made about Dem Leadership or the President, I am going to fight the urge to roll my eyes and launch into the 15 reasons why the person is wrong.  And stupid.  Instead, I will change the subject.

“Wow, that’s a great shirt you have on!  Where did you get it?”

“I’m really thirsty.  Can I get you a drink?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I see my friend.  Please excuse me.”

  • If the change-the-subject route doesn’t work and the person is persistent (which has happened to me many, many times at family events as people get more and more drunk), I will suggest that the person write a letter to their Member of Congress.  So they can be heard.  By someone else.
  • If this tell-someone-else-your-problems approach doesn’t work, then there is only one thing to do:  Go for the Achilles heel.  I will bring up something super personal, about myself or about the person, that I know neither one of us wants to talk about.  For example, with a man, I might just start talking about my “cycle” and my “flow” and how my last gyno visit went.  With someone who’s kid was recently arrested or thrown out of school or otherwise unruly and known to be, perhaps a question or two about how little Johnny is doing might come up.  For someone who recently lost their job, perhaps asking how the job search is going will come up.  You know, like people used to do to me when I was unemployed.  Again, this is the last resort, but I can tell you right now – I am not above this type of behavior.

Now, for non-politicos, this tact should work.  But for a table full of politicos, this will be a much tougher lift.  In these scenarios, I think I’m going to just keep excusing myself from the table until the conversation dissipates.  Or maybe I’ll just start reading my blackberry, ignoring all those around me and not contributing at all until I can successfully change the subject.

I can see that this might make me a bigger d-bag at times.  But I just can’t talk about the bullshit I do all day when I get home at night.  It’s bad for me, it’s bad for those who have to endure my behavior, and I just don’t like myself when it happens.

So here we go – Operation No More D-Baggyness…

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Banana Chocolate Vivanno

Banana Chocolate Vivanno

I spent last summer in Omaha, Nebraska.  Mostly, the experience was frustrating and terrible.  But there were a few good things.  One of which was that I found, and fell in love with, the Banana Chocolate Vivanno.

For those of you who have not  yet had the pleasure, the Banana Chocolate Vivanno is a healthy alternative to a milk shake.  It is amazing.  Seriously, the greatest cold beverage I’ve ever had – that isn’t a martini, of course.  And it’s the only reason to go to Starbucks.

In Nebraska, a field trip to the Starbucks across the parking lot from our campaign office was a daily ritual.  In the morning, AM and I would head over to Starbucks for our morning coffee.  We would always get coffee.  Grandes, both.  We would often get a snack.  Sometimes healthy, sometimes not.  And on some mornings, I threw in a Vivanno.  Banana Chocolate only, with non-fat milk and half the amount of chocolate.  It was the perfect second breakfast.  So delicious.  So cold.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Just perfect.

I almost allowed my bad attitude keep me from even trying the Vivanno.  When Starbucks was first rolling out this delicious drink and offering free samples, I declined.  1) I don’t do fancy coffee.  2) I can’t wrap my mind around spending $5 for a coffee or some other coffee-like drink.  A cup of coffee at Starbucks is outrageously expensive.  So any specialty drink was just too much.  And 3) why would I waste a bazillion calories on a drink?  Because, at the time, I highly doubted the possibility that this Vivanno could actually be healthy.

But on one of our afternoon jaunts to Starbucks, a colleague of ours ordered an Orange Mango Banana Vivanno.  I was intrigued.  So I had some.  It was disgusting.  Seriously, it tasted like bad citrus-y gum.  Totally gross.  A few days later, tho, the Starbucks was giving out free samples of the Chocolate Banana Vivanno.  I was not interested.  But AM (I think, because who the hell else would I be at the Starbucks with?) tasted it, said it was delicious, and told me to try some.  I think I heard music.  It was delicious.  Yes, it may be because I was in an incredibly low place at the time.  But I loved that Vivanno.  I was happy every time I had it.  It served as a respite from the normal terribleness that was Nebraska.

When I got back from Nebraska in November, it was cold and the Vivannos seemed to go away.  I mean, I tried to order it a few times at one of the 40 Dupont Circle Starbucks – because I have no rules about no cold stuff, like ice cream, in the winter – but they were always conveniently out of bananas.  How is that possible?  How do you run out of bananas every day?  Shouldn’t you buy more bananas?  Or send someone to the local supermarket to replenish?

Anyway, I haven’t had a Vivanno since November.  But yesterday, GT forced us to go to a Starbucks.  He offered to pay, so I complained a little less.  I saw that the Vivanno was prominently displayed on the menu.  So I went for it.  Banana Chocolate Vivanno with skim milk and half the amount of chocolate.  I was excited.  It was like visiting an old friend.

Then it arrived.

Wow – this was NOT the Vivanno I remembered.  It just didn’t taste the same.  It was icy and sorta chalky and just not the delicious drink I remembered.  It was like the Vivanno changed and became something different, something I barely recognized and certainly did not care for.  It didn’t provide a respite.  It didn’t serve as a wonderful, sweet snack.  It sparked a memory of something good, but failed to live up to expectations.  It left me wondering if the Vivanno was ever any good.  If I ever really loved it.  Or whether the Nebraska Vivanno was something I needed to look forward to, something to cling to, but it wasn’t really what I thought it was.

I have no answers.  All I know is that the Vivanno is not what it used to be.  It’s not what it used to be to me.  And it may be the end of a relationship.

Or maybe I just need to hit a different Starbucks.  Yeah, maybe I’ll try that.

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IHOP Article

I was just checking out the NYTimes website (yes, I was procrastinating), and came across this article.

July 12, 2009

Pancake Chronicles

By SUSANNAH JACOB

Prom. Graduation. Summer job. I wanted all three to complete my high-school days in iconic American fashion before heading off to college. In May, however, job hunting proved difficult. After my 34th or 35th unreturned phone call to independent businesses in the Dallas area, I set aside my scruples about major chains and went for an interview at a nearby International House of Pancakes. After I handed in my application, the IHOP floor manager studied me momentarily. No further words were exchanged, but 24 hours later he called me.

So I began waitress training the following week, with a positive attitude and a desire to make good on the franchise’s pledge, “Service as good as our pancakes.” I soon learned that a “Quick Two-Egg Breakfast” comes with two eggs, two pieces of meat, hash browns and toast, and that elderly men who wear toupees like their hash browns to linger in the deep fryer. I also learned the life story of my trainer, Suzanne. A Peruvian native who immigrated as a child to Queens, New York, Suzanne had somehow (factor in two marriages) moved to Texas, then got into trouble with cocaine and later did a bit of time for violating parole. She has been clean for several years now and loved telling the story of her arrest, which took place at that very IHOP. When she saw the cops, she says, she made a beeline for the back door, to no avail. “The police walked me right around this building,” she told me.

“And you were rehired?” I was incredulous.

“Well, yeah,” Suzanne said. “I’m a damn good waitress.” I knew she was right. She earned respect from the floor manager, adulation from her regulars and appreciation from the busboy with whom she shared her tips.

In stark contrast, I was a miserable trainee. In between Suzanne’s oversharing and her general advice (“When the cooks ask you how old you are, tell them 6, O.K.?”), she detailed the duties of an IHOP server. But I absorbed almost none of it. Waiting on tables, it seemed, violated my very constitution. Accuracy, speed, balance — I could never master any combination of the three.

I did one thing well: I rolled napkins around silverware nicely. Otherwise I brought people the wrong drinks, shrugged my shoulders and looked around when customers asked me where to sit, fell facedown with two tall glasses of orange juice in my hand, put powdered sugar on hamburgers instead of French toast by mistake, broke an unacceptable number of plates and Tabasco bottles and handed customers a green crayon with which to sign their credit-card receipts. After I almost splashed a patron with scalding coffee by pouring it too fast, Suzanne revoked my pouring privileges. She even barred me from spraying the whipped-cream smiley faces on the chocolate-chip pancakes. Mine were too messy.

Her most crushing accusation: I had to stop staring at the customers. She was referring to the traveling family of tattooed Brits who were, in fact, very interesting to watch and listen to. They even managed somehow to smell British. But Suzanne’s observation made me so self-conscious that I spent the rest of my IHOP days (all 24 of them) asking the floor how it preferred its bacon.

Every day I worked, I saw a half-dozen job applicants enter the restaurant and leave empty-handed. I knew I was lucky to have a job. My friends had all failed even to get interviews at the bookstores and clothing shops where they applied. But because I’m still at an age when it’s socially acceptable to live with my parents, I don’t need the paycheck for shelter or food. Unlike Suzanne, I could afford to fail at this, and I knew it.

Then one day a mother, her 10-week-old baby and her parents sat at Table 72 and ordered Dr. Pepper, iced coffee and iced tea. Suzanne told me to bring them their drinks on a tray. “Not over the baby,” she hissed, eyeing me as I wobbled to the table.

So instead of going over the baby, I tried to go to the side of and slightly under the baby, who was slouching on his mother’s lap. It became instantly apparent that this was a bad idea: the glasses toppled, flooding the booth.

Other Saturday-morning diners craned their necks to get a better view of the wet clients, and of me, shocked (and, I admit, a little tearful). This job brought out all of my inadequacies and made them seem insurmountable.

Suzanne wouldn’t even look at me. Feeling helplessly incompetent and embarrassed, I walked up to the floor manager and gave him my resignation. “Well, thanks for trying,” he said, his eyes filled with unconcealed relief.

Susannah Jacob is a graduate of Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Tex. She will attend the University of Texas at Austin in the fall.

Talk about bringing back memories.  I, too, worked in an IHOP.  For many years.  Like many, many years.  And I can say with complete confidence that it was the hardest job I ever had, that no job – not even the lobbying gig I had and hated – broke me in the same way that waiting table did, and that I am absolutely better off for having gone through it.

I might have more to say about it later.  You know, when I’m not at work and expected to, well, work.

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Two Bits

After the long weekend away from the computer, I got back to work and, you know, surfed the web.

C’mon – you know that’s what y’all did too!

Anyway, I saw two things of particular interest.

1) This NYTimes Opinion piece on how and why women might miss the signs that her partner is a two-timer or an otherwise disreputable person.  While I don’t care for the title – The Clueless Wives Club – I did find the content really interesting and thought provoking.  Plus, I just find issues regarding betrayal really interesting.

2) Knowing that I have a somewhat odd sense of humor, AM sent along this little gem of a website.  Seriously, don’t be turned off by the name of the site – Happiest People Ever.  Cause that’s a bit of irony.  And it was exactly what I needed this morning.  Tune in and see why.

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Rap

Because of a few things going on in the life – the mouse sighting, the almost-knife fight outside my house yesterday morning, my inability to lose any weight at all – the stress and anxiety levels have been creeping up.  No worries, I’ll just eat something bad for me at the cafeteria and spend most of the morning reading my friends’ blogs and g-chatting.  Sounds like a fantastic idea, right?

Wrong.

Mistake # 1:  Choice of second breakfast.

I get up around 6:30-7am most days to get to the gym.  Before the gym, I need to eat breakfast.  It’s usually just something small – a frozen waffle with peanut butter or a small bowl of cereal – lots of water and vitamins.  (I know this gives the impression that I’m a healthy person, but I drink too much vodka for that to be the case.)

Anyway, after a really good workout – or because I feel like it – I sometimes have a second breakfast around 10am so that I can make it through to a reasonable lunch time without getting violent feelings.  On a day when I am making good choices, my second breakfast will be something healthy like a hard boiled egg or a slice of toast.  When I’m not making healthy choices, it will be a donut or what I got today – egg and bacon on a biscuit.  WHAT?!  Good G-d, does it get any more unhealthy than that?!  It was both delicious and disgusting, and I am already feeling sluggish.

Mistake # 2:  Thinking my friends could help my mood.

(Okay, that is way over the top and not true.  But i’ve committed, so bear with me.)

After returning from the cafeteria, I decided to check in on my friends’ blogs to see what’s what.  First, a little look-see at what’s going on with my loves BLJ and JLJ.  Yup, super cute and warms the heart.  Next, a little sneak peak at what AM is up to.  A little status quo there, but I am in no position to judge as I’ve been MIA myself these days.  Then a look to KP to see how things are with that little curly-top pooch of hers.  Finally, I swing by MJ’s blog to see what’s going on in Dupont Circle these days.  Oh, great – a new post!  Just what I needed.

I start reading.  The Arlington Rap?  I’m intrigued.  I know MJ has an odd distaste for NOVA, and I have an odd love of weird rap.  I read on.  Then I see it.

Also, I have many friends that used to live in DC that don’t any more… so maybe they weren’t forwarded it 18 times like I was. And with that said, DC-resident Not-So-Quiet-Desperation probably hasn’t seen it either, so really I’m just doing some public service.

WHAT?!  Called out – VIRTUALLY… and LITERALLY?!  Wow – with friends like these…

And the truth does not save you on this one, MJ!

BTW, love this Arlington Rap.  Definitely check it out.

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