Wednesday is my Friday

I keep trying to write a post about last Saturday, which was my first day off since the end of June. For some reason, I keep tripping over myself in doing so (it involves the Office’s picnic, so maybe I should just keep quiet). So, instead, I shall write this: June 27th was my first day off from both my Office and Bookstore jobs since Memorial Day, which if memory serves, was May 25th.

It was very nice.

Thankfully, I don’t have to wait that long for my next days off (yes, plural): I just submitted a PTO request form for Thursday at the Office, and Friday is a Federal holiday (and we follow the Federal schedule). In addition, due to shortened Bookstore hours on Saturday, I have the day off (no point in them scheduling me from 4-6pm, I guess). My Thursday night is now covered by a coworker, which leaves me only with the challenge of getting off Friday night — I had requested off for the 3rd waaay back on June 6th, but my request was ignored. I have high hopes for a three-day weekend.

I plan to spend all three days vegging out on my couch watching re-runs of the Golden Girls and imagining the uses of Betty White’s tongue.

Well, no.

Truthfully, I have a lot of things I need to get done, stuff I just keep putting off and off. Like, for one, I still have my Maryland driver’s license, despite the fact that I’ve been living in DC for over a year. My plan is to get up at my usual time Friday morning and make the trek down to the DMV in Georgetown to correct this (you might ask, “Why bother?” Well, here’s why: my license expires in August and I do still drive on occasion). In addition, my apartment could use a really good cleaning. Like the one I did back at New Year’s, except with maybe some bleach on the kitchen and bathroom tiles.

But it won’t all be laundry and closet organizing and book reshelving, no! Because I’m also planning on doing a museum and monument crawl on the National Mall on Thursday. I think it’ll be a good day for it: hopefully, the tourists won’t be out in force, and most people in DC will be distracted by their last day before the extended holiday.

I also hope to catch up on some summer films: Public Enemies is a sure thing, I very much want to see it on the big screen, and even though Johnny Depp is no Sean Connery, and Christian Bale trumps Kevin Costner, I will still probably unfavorably compare it to The Untouchables. As for Transformers 2, while I enjoyed the first movie enough to want to see the sequel on the big screen, the reviews of a nonsense plot, and my own see-saw opinion on Michael Bays’ films will probably keep me from spending my hard earned cash on it. I mean, if the biggest draw is Meghan Fox, can’t I just watch the first one again?

Here’s a random fact: Metro train platforms are 600 feet long. You know what else is 600 feet? The Washington Monument. (Okay, it’s few feet short of 600, but it’s still close).

Meanwhile, I’m off tonight from the Bookstore. Although I do need to do laundry (apparently I failed to shut one of my dresser’s drawers, so most of my boxers and socks are now decorated with cat fur — thanks, Guy), I’m thinking I’m going to take a nice long stroll through the Zoo. It’s been a while since I’ve been, and I want to make baby noises at various big cats and see if they growl at me.

If You Don’t Like Alice Hoffman’s Books, She Will Trash You On The Internet

And by “internet”, I mean “Twitter”, but Twitter is on the internet, right? And I get so tired of trying to explain the appeal of Twitter because, seriously, it’s like a group chat? That can post to Facebook? It’s strange, and I didn’t understand the appeal until I, y’know, got an account (thanks Pithy).

Back to Alice Hoffman. Via the Book Maven:

Such was the case today with famous novelist Alice Hoffman, whose latest book, The Story Sisters, received a negative review from well-credentialed critic and novelist Roberta Silman in The Boston Globe Books section.

I tell you all this, as I said, to put what Hoffman did today in context. She published Roberta Silman’s private phone number and email address and told her “readers” that “If you want to tell Roberta Silman off,” to contact her at phone or email and “Tell her what u think of snarky critics.”

Obviously, many people will disagree with me on any number of points here. What I wish I could write instead has already been written for me (not to mention tweeted, by author Julie Klam) by Virginia Woolf, an artist, novelist, critic, and essayist greater than anybody else around these parts:

“Criticism, whether praise or blame, should be accepted in silence as the legitimate comment which the act of publication invites.”

You can read the review for yourself here. I don’t get Hoffman’s characterization of it as “hateful” at all … because it isn’t. Silman starts her review by stating that Alice Hoffman is the author of one of Silman’s favorite books! And even though the review is generally negative of the book, but calling the book “coy and contrived” does not strike me as hateful, no matter what Hoffman claims in her tweets (which you can read here.) And it certainly does not justify publishing Silman’s phone number and calling for people to “tell her off.”

One of her tweets on the subject was this: “And we writers don’t have to say nothing when someone tries to destroy us.”

Having read the review, it’s a far, far cry from someone trying to “destroy” her. And also? Alice Hoffman, you’re doing a far better job of destroying yourself than anyone possibly could have. When some parents asks for a recommendation for her kid, guess who the very last author I’m going to suggest will now be? Because I don’t to have to warn the parent, “If your kid posts that she didn’t like the book, Alice Hoffman might trash them on the internet.”

Sales of OxiClean Are About To Plummet

Some weeknights, when I get home from the Bookstore, I turn on the TV. Lately, I’ve been engrossed in Discovery’s Pitchmen, which follows Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan as they “do what they do”, which is to say, pitching products over the television. You know Billy Mays (even if you think you don’t) as the guy who screams “OXICLEAN!” into the TV, and Anthony Sullivan as the guy with the Australian accent pimping the weird crap you’ll see in the store with an “AS SEEN ON TV” sticker on it.

And when I say “engrossed”? I mean that I won’t go out of my way to watch an episode, but if it’s on when I turn on the television (is it even appropriate to refer to them as “boob tubes” anymore?), I’ll watch it until the end.

Anyway … Billy Mays is dead.

Apparently he was on an airplane which suffered a blown-tire on landing in Florida yesterday. “All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.” This morning he was found dead in his home.

The sad thing is, of course, that one would’ve thought that the death of Natasha Richardson had risen awareness of the dangerous of head injuries. She fell on the slope, was lucid, and then died — the scientific term is epidural hematoma, and of course, there’s no way (as of now) to know whether this is the cause of Mays’ death — he was a big guy, he could’ve died of a heart attack, or a blood clot.

I’m thinking the cause of his death, however, will be epidural hematoma. (Hey, it’s a big pair of words — I’m going to use it a few times!)

Is Michael Jackson Free of his Demons?

Bizarre night at the Bookstore, although this one ended semi-well. Long story short, coming around a bookshelf, I walked into the middle of a customer screaming at one of my coworkers, “Michael Jackson is not dead! Farrah Fawcett is! Stop spreading rumors!” No doubt, he went home, turned on CNN, and became convinced that we’d somehow convinced Anderson Cooper to broadcast a fake story (because some of our customers are just that stupid).

Well, except it isn’t a rumor: the King of Pop is dead and gone.

Gotta be honest here: I don’t care. Obviously, I feel sympathy for his family and loved ones, but Michael Jackson’s death is not going to result in my curled up in a ball on my bed playing all his albums over and over while I cry into my pillow. I think there are only two musicians that I’ll miss when they’re dead, one is John Williams, and the other is Freddie Mercury, and too bad for Mr. Mercury, I didn’t realize Queen was my favorite band of all time until he was long since buried.

As far as Michael Jackson, his death largely didn’t affect me — well, except in the case that as soon as the story found wide exposure, the phones started ringing off the hook from customers looking for copies of his CDs. If you happen to know the Bookstore I work at, and you were hoping to stop in for one of his CDs tomorrow, don’t bother: we didn’t have many, and what we didn’t sell tonight is on reserve (and, no, no Thriller).

On the ride home, I checked Twitter. There were a lot of tweets about Michael Jackson (and an odd rumor claiming Jeff Goldblum had died). While most were very affectionate about the man’s music, a few made crude jokes (not that I’m criticizing, I joked with my boss that Jackson had probably been choked to death by a child he was “playing” with) and referenced the assorted controversies which surrounded the latter portion of his life.

So, here’s how I feel: I think that Michael Jackson was probably, objectively, a fantastic musician who left an indelible mark on music and pop culture. That said, no amount of artistic brilliance allows a person the license to break the law, and while he was never convicted, the rumors and accusations surrounding his private life cannot easily be dismissed. That said, I feel a great amount of sorrow for Michael — pressed into stardom at the age of 11, did he really ever have the chance to be just a kid? And when he had all the money a person could ever want, were his actions indicative of a pedophile, or a lonely man looking for the childhood he never had? It doesn’t matter, when it comes to molesting children, motivation should only be important in understanding how to break the cycle (if such a cycle exists, where pedophile creates pedophile ad naseum).

I feel sorry for Michael Jackson. He was clearly a man with demons, and I hope he rests in peace free of them.

To Go Bald, Or Not To Go Bald

True story: two weeks ago, a dude with a thick Scottish accent came up to me on his way out of the Bookstore and asked if I knew where a barber was. I mention he had a thick Scottish accent because I thought he was looking for Barbar — y’know, the elephant? And I was going to point him to the Zoo, because that’s the only place in DC I think we actually have elephants (asides from the stuffed one in Natural History), but he tried again, and this time I thought he was looking for the bathroom, but on the third try, I got it — and, seriously?

You’re asking a bald guy where a barber is?

Because barbers cut hair, and bald people don’t have hair.

Granted, my (usually but not always) smooth-as-a-baby’s-ass head is part nature, part choice. Bald dude at a blogger happy hour at The Reef two weeks ago remarked on it this way: “I choose not to decorate my head with hair.” And hair really is a pain in the ass (especially if, like me, you actually have a hairy ass — sweaty ass hair? No fun).

Last fall, aware that I was losing quite a bit of hair on the top of my head, I began cutting my hair very close: like, imagine a skin-tight buzz cut. Like that. Shortly thereafter, I just began shaving my head altogether. For me, the decision was pretty easy: I am losing my hair, hence, I will embrace my baldness.

Men in my family have a history of hair loss. My grandfather was completely bald by the time he was twenty-five (or so I understand, I wasn’t actually around to see this). I’d been aware that my hair was thinning for quite some time — particularly when I cut my hair very short (as I would tend to do in the summer), people would tease me about a receding hair line.

Really, though, it was a guy on the shuttle who pushed me over the edge to deciding to shave my head. I don’t know his name, I’ve never heard him speak. We both board the bus at the same Metro station, and we get off at the same stop for office buildings across the street from each other. He looks to be my age (early 30s), and his hair is thick and spiky.

Let me clarify: his hair looks thick and spiky. Then he gets close and you see the truth: his hair is thick … on the sides. His hair is spiky … on the top, where he styles his hair to stand up, apparently in the belief that vertical hair equals quantity of hair. And this is perhaps true in the sense that the male ego is a fragile thing which sees what it wants reflected back in the mirror. As a disinterested observer, however, what I could see was that his hair is noticeably thinner on the top of his head, like, to the point where spiking his hair actually draws more attention to his pattern baldness.

When I made this realization, I remembered a comment a coworker had made not long before: “Your hair is noticeably thinning.” And, look, I tended to go months and months without a haircut. And I wondered, “Do people see me having all this hair as a compensation for starting to lose it?” Freed of my own fragile ego in that hairpiphany, it didn’t take me long to go bald.

I think men usually fall into two categories: men who embrace their baldness, and men who refuse to accept it.

Of course, sometimes you get folks like this guy, who at the same happy hour at The Reef, was trying to convince me that he was balding, like to the point where our hands were together combing through his hair* while he tried to identify his supposed bald-spots. So gay. Also, his hair’s like a fucking shag carpet, which is completely disgusting in and of itself (the carpet, not the hair), but really? Dude, chill, you’ve got hair for a good long while (unless you were wearing a wig?). He is clearly category number three: men who have thick luxurious hair, but who know they will lose their hair and just want to get it over with.

Here’s some advice when and if you decide your hair loss (real or imagined) is cause enough for a shaving:

1. Electric trimmers? Y’know, the ones barbers use? They’re good if you’ve got areas of thick hair, but for the detail stuff? For actually getting your scalp smooth? They will not work. If you’ve got male pattern baldness (like me), I used an electric trimmer to clear the bulk of my hair as best as possible, then a razor to clear the stumps. Basically, you want to use something with a blade: actually, use something with multiple blades. I use a four blade disposable razor.

2. Forget mirrors — while they’re good for checking some easily-missed areas (the ears, your forward scalp), use your hands to feel the smoothness of your head.

3. You don’t have to shave your head every night, but you should at a minimum do it every third night. If you shave your head too much, you damage your skin (or so I’m told). If you wait too long, your hair (what little you have left), becomes too thick for the razor and you have to grab an electric razor to trim it down. Also, infrequent head shavings can mean the difference between spending two minutes in the bathroom, and spending twenty.

3A. Wait, did I say at night? Yes, shave your head at night. Y’know how your face feels raw when you shave, and if, say, you sweat that morning on your way to work after shaving it stings? Imagine that sensation all over your head. Ow. Shave, sleep, let yourself heal. You’ll thank yourself on the way to your office on a July morning.

4. If you’ve got a day or two’s worth of stubble on your head, check yourself in the mirror after dressing to ensure you have no random bits of lint holding on for the ride. Seriously, the stubble has the tendency to act like velcro.

*He claims not to remember this, and in fairness I was drinking, so it might’ve been mine and another man’s hands combing through his hair. Also, so gay.

It’s a Jeep Thing

But when people say “it’s a Jeep thing”, you have to understand that by ‘Jeep’ they mean ‘vehicles which maintain the visual and utilitarian heritage of the Willy.‘ And, no, you probably wouldn’t understand, unless you’d owned one.

I did. Owned one, I mean. A ’98 Wrangler, which I lovingly cared for and beat the ever-loving crap out of from 1999 until 2003. Killed upwards of half-a-dozen deer in that thing, too, but I’d just like to point out that they jumped in front of me. Suicide by Jeep. It’s a crying shame.

My coworkers drive me crazy with their Wrangler stories: my boss at the Bookstore owns one, she’s never taken the doors off and admits to not being comfortable taking the windows out. “What happens if I’m driving and it starts raining?” Well, deary, you’ll get wet, but that’s why towels were invented. 66% of the IT staff at the Office owns Jeeps (in fairness, our IT staff is 3 people), and I catch a ride from them as often as possible. My boss at the Indy, good old Gary, had a big nice ’04 Unlimited, which he promptly took off-road in his spacious backyard and banged into trees. “It’s not a Jeep without a dent,” although I don’t think Dawn was so happy he’d taken their kids for the ride.

There are things I miss about owning a Jeep: I miss waving to other Wrangler owners. I miss taking the doors off and the top down on nice (or not so nice) days for a long drive. I miss not caring about whether I’d left the windows down in a freak thunderstorm because, oh yeah, thing’s waterproof and has drain plugs. I miss driving straight for a muddy puddle, or just pulling into a car wash, taking the top down, and hosing out the interior.

There was a guy, up in Towson when I first attended, who had a ’97 or a ’98 Wrangler, dark navy blue, with an ox’s horns bolted to the top of the windshield. I’m not going to say it was cool, but it was totally unforgettable.

And that’s the kind of modification you should do to a Wrangler, because, look, let’s be honest here: Wranglers are not cars. The doors come off. The window folds down. It’s designed to be rained in. When you modify your Wrangler, you should draw attention to the fact that this is a machine designed to, y’know, go over mountains and stuff, not fields of flowers.

Speaking of Wranglers and flowers:

jeep1

Via Alice’s Wonderland come this horrifying photo of a Wrangler gone very very very wrong.

I’m sorry, but that’s a Wrangler FAIL. At the very least, I hope it’s a stick-shift, because the only reason a person should buy an automatic transmission Wrangler is if they are missing the requisite limbs to operate a manual transmission.

thank you, and be safe

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I don’t think I knew Jeanice McMillan.

Jeanice McMillan so looked forward to work each morning that she would meticulously iron her Metro uniform the night before. When driving a bus route in Northern Virginia in recent years, she would tell friends how much she enjoyed interacting with passengers.

McMillan, 42, of Springfield, died yesterday at the helm of her Red Line Metro train, which hurtled into the back of another train that had stopped between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations during the evening rush.

Metro said today that McMillan began working as a train operator on Dec. 8.

One neighbor who knew her well said today that McMillan would have done “anything in her power” to prevent the accident.

“She was so proud of her job, and she truly loved her passengers,” said Joanne Harrison, who has lived across the hall from McMillan’s apartment for five years and became a close friend. “If she had survived, she would have gone to each and every one of those people who were hurt, and the families of those who died, and she would have hugged them and cried with them.”

I say that in the sense that, of course, if I did know her — if she was one of the nameless people I encounter every day, one of those familiar faces I see every morning on my commute out to the ‘burbs, or in the afternoon back into the heart of DC — I did not know it was her, in the same way that I probably pass a dozen DC bloggers a day without either of us knowing each other (not that I kid myself that that many DC bloggers read my blog).

Did I step off my train, one afternoon, and turn, and as she leaned out the cabin window to check if people were clear of door, did I say, “Thank you” to her? (I do that when I’ve ridden in the first train of a car.)

I think I’m going to have to amend that today and from now on: “Thank you, be safe.”

Maybe it’s a meaningless act, a throw-away phrase from one stranger to another: the ‘thank you’, ‘how are you?’, ‘have a good night’ that we encounter on a daily basis. Maybe.

Y’know — a lot of what gets posted on sites like UnsuckDCMetro and iMetro are individual stories of WMATA employees who are rude or inattentive to Metro riders. I wonder what stories are traded in employee break-rooms and vehicles, stories of rude Metro customers. I know, working in retail as I do, how one customer being rude can throw off my game — that saying? Sticks and stones? Totally untrue, because of course, whereas a stick may cut our skin, and a stone may crack a bone, it’s the words that wound our spirit.

I would hate to think that McMillan’s last customer interaction was someone angry that the air conditioning on the train wasn’t working properly, or that the train took longer than expected arriving at a station. I hope her last customer interaction was nice.

Consider This Before You Make A Decision to Take Metro Or Not

DC Metro Train Derailment

Twitter is awash with tweets about people’s experiences on the Metro system today. If you’re curious, follow @unsuckdcmetro for re-tweets, and check his and iMetro’s blogs for more.

However, I just want to draw attention to something I mentioned in my post on the accident yesterday, and which one of my colleagues at the Bookstore researched a tad more and posted to Facebook:

Consider this: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2007 (the latest year that figures were provided for), 1,534 people were killed in vehicle accidents in DC, MD, and VA combined. The number of people killed in Metro accidents in 33 years: 15*.

Ironically, accounts of Twitter indicate that the roads are jam packed as people avoid the Metro system. Because, clearly, with a death rate of 3 people per day, the roads are a safer place to be then the Metro — which only has a fatality, on average, once every two years.

On their latest blog post, Unsuck DC Metro says that Metro has “seen fit to provide us third rate mass transit system”, which “kills its passengers.” Well, maybe they’re right. But y’know what? It’s usually the bad apples that we remember, isn’t it? We remember the guy who scowled, and not the one who smiled, we remember the train that jerked to a stop, and not the ones that came smoothly to an end, we remember the engineer who never announced stops and forget about the ones who did and welcomed us aboard.

I don’t believe Metro is a third rate system. I don’t know how you’d judge that — do you compare it to other systems? And on what measure, fatalities? Delays? I’ll say this: Metro is still the safest way to travel in the greater metropolitan area of the District of Columbia.

*He actually had the number of fatalities at 12, but judging from Wikipedia’s DC Metro page, I believe 15 is correct. Although his twitter earlier had the count at 14, Michael Dresser’s blog identifies a count of 15 as well.

Metro Trains Collide

APTOPIX Metro Train Derailment

I’m exhausted. And I was ready to hit the bed the moment I walked in the door. But there was a text message on my phone, an e-mail, a Facebook message, comments on the blog, all with a common theme: are you okay? For those who don’t know, an accident which Wikipedia is already terming “The 2009 Washington Metro Accident*”, a collision between two trains on the system’s Red Line, with seventy people injured and, so far, at least six dead.

I do ride the Red Long, but I’d been at the Bookstore since nearly 4:00, sprawled on a chair in the break room, reading a book while waiting for my shift to begin. I clocked in around 5:15 and went up to the registers to assist with a line.

I was at the registers, calling the next customer down, when the woman being rung up at the next machine answered her phone. Generally, I don’t like people who answer their phone when I or someone else is trying to help them — it’s rude, and it makes the transaction much more difficult.

However, any irritation I was feeling towards this lady quickly melted away, as her “inside” voice rapidly dropped off: “What? Collided on the red line? People are dead?”

A quick search on the internet turned up more information — and customers over the course of the evening, and employees calling in, provided more: two trains collided on the eastern portion of the Red Line, between Takoma Park and Ft. Totten. Seventy people were injured, one, and then four, and then six dead.

So the night was rather somber. Usually, there’s not much that we, as Bookstore employees, can do in a situation like that — we can offer a place for people to stay while they wait for the tracks to reopen, and we can provide some alternate transportation advice, as well. One woman was trying to get home to Van Ness, I don’t know if she actually walked the distance in her heels (I hope not), but I also advised her on the L2 and the Woodley Park Circulator route.

It’s not much, but in a situation like this, we all like to help out however we can, don’t we? And, hell, seven months ago? I wouldn’t have known what bus route to advise her to take. And, since I’d never done it, I don’t think I would’ve advised anyone to walk from Golden Triangle to Van Ness.

In fact, I walked home tonight — foot? Ouchie. (I’ve got a blister).

Yes, I’m fine. For the record, the Red Line runs a “U” shape from Shady Grove, MD (north of Rockville), into DC, then back out past Silver Spring, MD. My normal route on the Red Line is on the west side of the line, from Grosvenor to Farragut North. The accident occurred on the upper end of the east side of the line. I was concerned for a few of my coworkers who ride the Red Line in that direction, but they’re all okay.

It’s weird. Because people die in traffic accidents all the time, and in far greater numbers than any have died on the Metro system (according to Wikipedia’s page, a total of fourteen people have died in accidents on the Metro rail system since its inception, compared with … hell, I don’t even begin to know where to look to see how many people die every day in the DC area in traffic wrecks.

It kind of hit me, though, as I was walking home on Connecticut. I crossed a side street just south of Dupont Circle, as a southbound taxi on Connecticut skidded to a stop as a light turned red. Maybe it’s because our road system is almost anarchy — sure, we try to tame it with traffic lights, and lane dividers, and speed cameras, and traffic cops, but in the end, you’ve got one person in control of one very heavy vehicle, and as a result, the vehicle’s operation is directly affected by too little caffeine, or too much caffeine, or a long day at the office, or fumbling with the radio, or trying to fish a soda from the backseat.

But when we get on the Metro, we don’t expect chaos. Because the variables are fewer — there’s one operator, one rail, one train. The chances for some random schmoe’s human error to affect our lives provides the illusion of safety.** How did this accident happen? Was it operator error? A problem with the train?

We expect random chaos on our roadways. On the Metro, sure, we’ll put up with a certain amount of inconveniences that go with any aging public transport rail system, but we — or, at least, I — expect that when I enter a station, I will emerge at my destination safe and sound. And for six people in particular tonight, that expectation wasn’t met.

*As if to reassure the 700,000 of us who ride the Metro on a regular basis: “Hey, don’t worry about dying on the Metro until January 1st 2010.”

**The illusion of safety? I think the Metro is probably the safest way to travel in the District, but I’ll have to dig up numbers on deaths of motorists, and pedestrians first.

The Seven Types of Bookstore Customers

I came across this blog posting, “The Seven Types of Bookstore Customers“, from a former employee of the Bookstore who posted it to the store’s employee Facebook group. It is, in fact, quite accurate, except that at 9pm Saturday night? “Excuse me, sir? We’re closed. That means you need to leave. NOW.”

Anyway, here’s the a brief excerpt:

Seekers

The most straightforward of any of our customer types, the seekers want a book. A specific book: only this book will do. Prominent sub-types:

* High School Students: It was assigned by the teacher. They don’t have a choice.

* College Students: They mistakenly believe that 1. we’re actually stocking their textbooks, and 2. we’re going to be cheaper than the college bookstore. HA!

* Oprahites: according to reliable contemporary reports, by the 23rd Century Oprah is a religion. If the book was written by a guest on her show, fans want it. If The One True Host actually recommends the book, then booksellers must be prepared to defend themselves (against force) because some folks will be prepared to kill for it. “What do you mean you don’t have it? How can you be sold out? It was just on Oprah…” (logic doesn’t work on Oprahites)

* NPR listeners: Heard it on NPR. (it’s usually a good book, but we’re also not stocking it yet — and on top of that, I’ve been stuck at work while you’re listening to the radio; if you can’t remember the title I won’t be able to come up with it.)

* CNN/FOX/MSNBC/CSPAN BookTV/Daily Show/Colbert/Larry King/Today/Tonight/CBS Sunday Morning/et al. — same story here as NPR above: throw me a bone, give me a title or an author. It’s great you can relate to me your TV watching habits, but that doesn’t mean I can find your book.

* Trufans. “I want the new book by Author X.” And sure, I’ll try to help you with that. The Trufan ignores three salient points: 1. the author may not have a new book; 2. despite ads or reviews or internet rumors, the author’s new book may not be coming out for another 3 months, or 6 months, or a year (or ever); & 3. the author may in fact be dead.

Some customers will latch on, from the point where you ask, “can I help you?” to the very bitter end of the business day. They want recommendations, but discard all your suggestions out of hand. They switch from fiction to kids to biography to magazines to interior design and back to fiction and then on to board games (which you don’t even carry, but that they expect you to carry) with ease, and with a speed that will leave you breathless, changing topics even before you can answer their last question.

It’s so, so true.

Guten Morgen, Adams Morgan

I am not in Adams Morgan much. Usually, there are one of two scenarios, the most likely being that I choose to walk through Adams Morgan on my home from work as an alternate to my usual path, and the second being that I go to Adams Morgan to meet up with people and drink some beer. In fact, that’s why I was in Adams Morgan Saturday night, to celebrate a birthday.

You know what makes for a great morning walk in DC? A rain shower. It cools everything down, and there’s not much that doesn’t look better wet: colors just seem to pop as water beads.

Personally, I was just happy the rain stopped: I like walking to the Bookstore as much as possible, and thunderstorms and extreme heat (and beer) have been making that somewhat difficult lately.

I opted to vary my route into work yesterday: usually, I walk straight down Connecticut, and then detour to the store. Yesterday, I made a hard left onto Calvert, and cut down Biltmore onto 18th.

I’ve got to say: Adams Morgan is ugly on a Sunday morning.

And, let me clarify, because honestly? It totally shouldn’t be that way. Adams Morgan — at least, the 18th Street strip that I’m familiar with — has gorgeous architecture*, and a lot of the little breakfast cafes have festive decorations and nicely arranged patio furniture. There weren’t many people out, and not much traffic, either. Really, Adams Morgan has this sort of artist-colony vibe … which gets lost when it’s crossed with the whole frat-boy thing.

And that’s unfair, too, because it’s not just frat-boys drinking there, either, it’s just the best way I can think to describe, say, the upper level of Bourbon Saturday night, packed so tightly it was nearly impossible to go anywhere without forcing your way through and feeling the onrush of claustrophobia. I got into Adams Morgan around 9:30 the previous night, stayed until midnight, then made my way home as best as I could (I may have been weaving a bit).

But the trash — oh, the trash seems to coat Adams Morgan, except whereas rain prettifies stuff, the trash uglyfies it.

And there was a lot of it. Paper plates, and plastic cups, and napkins coated the sidewalk and a good part of the street. I passed a guy in a reflective vest who was using a rake (a rake!) to collect the detritus of the drunks into a garbage can, and that man is probably Adams Morgan’s unsung hero.

Sadly, sometime over the weekend I developed a blister on my right foot, and it didn’t take long once at work to realize a.) how much it hurt and b.) how much I would be taking the Metro home. Because I’d been looking forward to walking home through Adams Morgan once we closed. Fortunately, we close early enough on Sundays that there is still several hours of daylight, and Adams Morgan on an early Sunday evening is beautiful: there is no overwhelming mass of people to fight through, the noise level is loud but not obnoxious, and best of all? No gaggle of drunks. Really, it just feels like the hip urban neighborhood it’s seeming to have an identity crisis over being.

*If you ever stop to notice the building at the southeast corner of 18th & Columbia, the one with the McDonalds? It’s a beautiful gorgeous building with turrets and a rambling roofline.

druunk

I’m writing this post drunk.

By my count, I had four or five beers, and a vodka shot of some sort.

I staggered home from Adams Morgan only a few minutes ago, out celebrating Pithy Comments (too drunk to link, google “DC is my Manhattan” for her blog)’s 30th birthday. Which, y’know? Hey, I’m 31 in two months, she’s still a fucking youngin.

And what a good dancer, too, but I didn’t get to dance with her at Little Habana (Havana? I’m pretty sure the sign had a ‘b’ in it, though).

Then we moved over to Bourbon. Holy jesus. Packed. Sorry, when that many people? Time to bail. Wish I had more time to hang with Pithy and Flipflops (another blog … flipflops in rain, she never posts) and all the other bloggers at Bourbon I saw — LiLu, Lexa? (not sure Lexa, maybe?), Maxie, Deutlich, Change. (I think I neglected to say “hi” to most of them, but in fairness, was tired, was drunk, was needing toilet).

Home. Glad I left a/c on. Thoughts: wish I’d made bed this morning while sober. Also? Tomorrow at work is going to really really suck.

That is all.

obsessed

stage9-tng1

I’ve been obsessed by this illustration for the last couple of days, for a variety of reasons, some of which I’ll elaborate on in the future. Meanwhile, does anyone recognize what this is a drawing of?

I think the problem is that I’m just far too stupid to use an umbrella

It’s a rainy (which doesn’t do it justice, it’s like a cats-and-dogs raining from the sky day without the cats-and-dogs but lots and lots of water, instead) day, which means Office peeps are going to come in making grandiose statements about how mother nature needs to respect their total non-existent authority over anything having to do with rain, wind, clouds, snow, sleet, heat, cold, or birds that poo on their precious noggin and the walnut sized brain contained within.

This is really hilarious, considering the name of the company I work for. You’ll have to trust me on this.

I managed to crack an eye open this morning as a low rumble filled my apartment, but I was tired, so I went back to bed until my alarm went off, hit snooze, then decided to get dressed when a very loud crackle of thunder sent my cats running for the closet and me, for some reason, in the shower. Because when there’s a thunderstorm all around, the first place you want to be is in the shower.

And I have in fact tried Googling for an answer to, “Is it dangerous to be in the shower when there’s a thunderstorm?” and some people say “Yes, you could be electrocuted!” and some people say “No, are you an idiot?” And since I’m an idiot, I’ll assume the latter is the correct answer.

So anyway, having soaped and lathered and washed and rinsed, behind the ears, under the arms, between the legs, yada-yada-yada, I dressed and headed out for work, making sure that an umbrella was packed into my bag. Because this is DC. And in DC, you’d best have an umbrella during spring and summer, because there are lots o’ thunderstorms and lots o’ water from the sky. (And, obviously, not just DC — it’s the whole area, but, I mean, c’mon).

And I walk out of my building armed with an umbrella.

I live a block from the entrance to the Woodley Park Metro station. By the time I reached the elevator (because it’s closer), I was pretty well soaked: my left arm was completely drenched, my legs from my knees down were also. My right arm was dry, and there were (still are!) damp sensations on my back.

And I realized, how fucking dumb do I have to be that I can’t use a fucking umbrella? I mean, that’s the whole point of the umbrella, right, to keep you dry? And it’s not like the rain was coming in at weird angles, sure, there was a bit of an incline to it, but for the most part, it was coming straight down.

Speaking of umbrellas, though, this rant is hilarious.

Back on topic: so, I’m on the platform, waiting for the train (no delays today, hoorah!, but I did prove myself an idiot because I wandered down to the second car, which was stupid because I take the Metro to Grosvenor, and the second car will stop where there’s no roof overhang to keep me dry … back on topic for real. So I’m on the platform, and I’m like, seriously, why can’t I use this thing? Because I was, indeed, soaked. Still am. (Well, now I guess it’s more a level of dampness).

And then I came to the conclusion that the problem isn’t that I don’t know how to use an umbrella, the problem is that the umbrellas I buy are not large enough for my width. But just as I celebrated not being a total idiot, I realized, wait, when was the last time I actually bought an umbrella?

And the answer is: fuckit, I dunno! Truthfully, I just yank spares from the lost and found when it’s wet out.

So really, besides getting soaked, the only other thing meaningful I’ve done so far today is demonstrate to myself what a total and complete idiot I am. Good work, Snay.

(and now I’m talking to myself on my blog …)