tiaras optional

"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Friday, September 29, 2006

No, I’m Not Dead

Nor have I stopped blogging. Things have just been exceptionally busy for me lately, leaving me little time for the sort of pedestrian rage encounters and odd shopping trips that provide so much of my blog fodder. I’ve also been out of town for a few days, although I can’t tell you where I was or what I was doing, since it’s very hush hush. No, not really, I just like to pretend I’m Sidney Bristow in my spare time.

But I will be back very soon, full of rage at various items and persons. I also hope to have some encounters with the crazy with which to regale you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Various Notes, Mostly Fashion Related

1. On Friday, I wore a new top. After several hours at work, I felt something scratching the back of my neck. I then realized that I had not removed the tag from my top. Unfortunately, I had already attended a meeting, so I have no idea how many people noticed. Perhaps no one noticed; no one said anything to me.

2. By the time lunch rolled around, I had decided that said top made me look pregnant. Or maybe just fat. Neither is really a look I’m going for.

3. In an effort to get back to last spring’s level of fitness (sadly, I’ve been a bit lazy this summer, and by a “bit,” I mean a lot.), I’ve been trying to work out more. So, I’ve been doing a lot of lunges. The other day I guess I overdid it, because my ass has been aching like crazy. The left butt cheek is somewhat strained, but the right one is in bad shape. This morning I was whining about it to Lord Kissington. He suggested that I use some of the muscle cream I bought after a recent bout of muscle strain brought on by enthusiastic dancing (don’t ask). I decided against using the muscle cream because I didn’t want my ass to be all “menthol-ey.”

4. This weekend, I ended up at Ann Taylor Loft. I rarely have any luck with this store, but they always have something cute in the window that pulls me in and makes me forget all the previous bad experiences I’ve had there. Things started off well, when a saleswoman greeted me and told me she liked my boots (newly purchased last week). When I went into the dressing room, there was another saleswoman there. She pointedly ignored me, as I stood there at the entrance with a pile of clothes. Thinking perhaps she was a bit slow, I tried to make my interest in trying on the pile of clothes known by glancing around to see if any rooms were open. She then deigned to tell me that “all the dressings room are full right now.” Now, would that have been so hard to tell me without prompting, dear? The dressing room I eventually went into was huge, probably bigger than my kitchen and bathroom combined. Sadly, it was almost useless, as it had, despite miles of wall space, only two tiny hooks, each of which could hold no more than two or three garments. And the hooks were on opposite sides of the very large room. Sigh. When trying on clothes, I like several hooks, or even better, a nice long rail. I need a section for things not yet tried on, things I love, things I wouldn’t buy if they were the last piece of clothing on earth, and things I’m on the fence about. Since there weren’t enough hooks, I had to dump the clothes on the bench. I tried on clothes in multiple sizes: 6, 8, 6 petite, and 8 petite. There is no rhyme or reason to their sizing, and I sighed, wondering again why I was in this store. I overheard another customer asking the ever-helpful saleswoman if a pair of pants looked too baggy. I fully expected her to respond, “just cinch it.”

5. The whole shopping experience was salvaged by the fact that the new boots looked great with everything I tried on, even if the clothes themselves looked like crap.

6. Go Fug Yourselfis one of my favorite Web sites, and the women behind it did some fantastic blogging from Fashion Week in New York. One of the best pieces was about seeing Anna Wintour and Rachel Zoe in the same room. Check out those pictures. Anna Wintour is 56 years old. Zoe was said to be 33 in an interview in the LA Times last year, which would make her 34 now (yes, I’m really great at math). Perhaps she’s lying about her age, but whatever, it’s time to get out of the sun, Rachel. Compare those wrinkles to those of the much older Wintour. Rachel, you look great when you’re airbrushed, but oh my God, your skin. Please consider staying out of the sun, or using some sunblock, or perhaps taking one of those stupid headscarves you’ve forced on all your starlet clients* and somehow fashioning it into a protective sun mask.

7. Fashion Week produced a few nice bits and pieces, but overall there was too much black, gray, and beige. How about a little color for spring?

*You know, the one that Nicole Richie keeps wearing in some bizarre effort to detract attention from her way too prominent ribcage and clavicles. And the one that Lindsay Lohan hopes will distract you from the deadness in her eyes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tales of the Country

Lord Kissington and I spent a few days in North Carolina visiting his parents, who recently moved down there. I suppose I can say that it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. It’s very pretty where the in-laws live, but really far out in the country. They’re in the foothills, but it’s only a short drive to the mountains. The development they live in is a over-55 community, so it’s mostly retirees. The houses are all new, and I get the feeling each new house is trying to one-up the others. The Kissington homestead is large by DC house standards, but modest by local standards. The other houses are ridunkulous. Do these retirees all have 20 grandchildren who will be visiting at the same time?

This area of North Carolina has a lot of wineries and they are trying to position themselves as sort of a “Napa of the East.” On Friday, we spent the day at the Biltmore Estate, a palatial French Renaissance style chateau built by one of the Vanderbilts. It’s a very interesting tour, and the chateau is quite beautiful, but the whole effect is rather derivative. The chateau is basically a pastiche of three famous French chateaus. The furnishings are all European and represent various eras. There is a Louis XVI style bedroom (gold and purple, fairly gagworthy, but I’m not really a fan of furniture styles named after French kings names Louis), lots of Chippendale, tons of Rococo, and some very nice Flemish tapestries. I found it interesting that an estate built in the 1890s, a time of really creative art and architecture in the United States, was done entirely in a European style. It’s as if they were looking backwards.

The Biltmore has a winery on the grounds and you get a free tasting with your admission to the estate, so we headed over there at the end of the day. Sadly, North Carolina only accepts drivers’ licenses as proof of age. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I don’t drive. I’ve never had a license*. I’m a city person. I walk everywhere or take public transportation, or my lovely husband drives me. I have a DC-issued ID card, which looks exactly like a license. But that’s not good enough for North Carolina. A valid state ID is not acceptable. They told me they could take a passport, but I pointed out that I was unlikely to have brought my passport on a car trip to another state. I should also mention out that, although I perhaps look a bit younger than my actual age, there is no way I would pass for under 21. Sigh. So, I stood there and watched as Lord Kissington and the in-laws tasted the various wines. The young woman serving the wines asked if she could bring me some grape juice. I know she was trying to be nice, but it was just adding insult to injury at that point.

There is something a bit odd about a state that is half dry trying to position itself as a wine mecca. The in laws actually live in a dry county (horrors!), but they are right on the border of a non-dry county, so they don’t have to travel far to get a drink with dinner.

Since we had planned to try some other wineries, the license law left us with not too much else to do over the weekend. We visited downtown Hickory, which was pretty dead on the weekends. It was cute though and I took some pictures of the movie theater, which is straight out of the Great Depression. We drove through the mountains to a town called Blowing Rock (or was it Flowing Rock?), which was very cute and quaint. Perhaps a little too much quaint for my taste.

On Sunday evening, as my mother-in-law was preparing dinner, she said, “Oh, I forgot to chill a bottle of wine to go with dinner. I guess we’ll just have to do without.” LK and I replied at exactly the same time, in what I hope weren’t terribly frantic voices, “You can put in the freezer to chill!”

*Yes, I know, I’m a freak.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Day After

Being that I was on the road for most of yesterday, I didn’t do a 9/11-related post. Even if I had been home, I probably wouldn’t have done one, because there are so many that have already written about it far more eloquently than I could. But I do have three related notes:

1. Yesterday was our 6-month wedding anniversary. Yes, we got married on the anniversary of the Madrid train bombings. And yes, we went to Spain on our honeymoon. Make of that what you will.

2. When we arrived home from North Carolina around 5 p.m. yesterday, Lord Kissington pointed out something. If this had been 9/11, we might have gone the whole drive home without knowing about it. His parents are retired and their mornings are spent in a leisurely fashion, with no TV or radio on. We didn’t listen to the radio at all in the car on our way home. So, it’s possible we wouldn’t have known anything had happened until we arrived home and I turned on the TV. Kind of surreal.

3. My 9/11 memories are pretty hazy, but what stands out most are the days after, everyone just being in a daze. I was sick as a dog the day after with a bad cold, and that left me with laryngitis. That weekend, I was at my favorite local watering hole, and a guy I had dated the previous spring suddenly showed up. Things had ended badly, and he chose that night to try to talk it out with me. In response to his apologies, all I could croak out was, “You’re just lucky I can’t talk tonight, because you would so be hearing from me.” Except that, had I been able to speak, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to scream at him, because to paraphrase Rick Blaine, our petty little issues didn’t amount to a hill of beans in this fucked-up world.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Rules for Life and a Brief Hiatus

1. Occasionally, one is struck by something so obvious that it becomes a sort of rule for like. I have lots of these. The most recent I’ve added to my canon is the following: If your children are so small that they need a booster seat to see the screen at the movie theater, they’re just too young to be at the movies. Another good rule for life: If your much-too-young-to-sit-through-a-two-and-a-half-hour-movie*, obviously-ADD child asks for Skittles, for the love of God, just say no.**

2. I found a temporary cure for my recent insomnia: working out. I went to the gym Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and while I wouldn’t call my workouts extreme, they did kick my ass, since I hadn’t been to the gym in a couple of months. Sadly, exercise is only a short-term cure; in a few weeks, my body will adjust to the working out and the workouts will no longer make me tired enough to get rid of the insomnia. Damn you, sleeplessness.

3. I must bid you adieu for a few days. Lord Kissington and I are taking a short vacation to visit his parents at their new home, far far away in retirementville***. So, I will not be blogging for a few days and hopefully will come back well-rested and with lots of interesting stories. Having in-laws makes me feel like such a grown up, until I remember that that 18-year-old chick who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly at her own wedding reception also has in-laws. At least I can be sure that my in-laws probably like me more than hers like her.

*I finally saw Pirates of the Caribbean 2: The One with More Pirates and a Giant Octopussy-esque Monster, and it was decidedly “meh.” Even Orlando Bloom’s stunning good looks couldn’t keep my mind from wandering.
**The child in question managed to hold on to the bag of Skittles for approximately 30 seconds before dumping them out. You’d be surprised what a racket 100 Skittles hitting the floor and rolling all the way down the theater make. Sadly, that was one of the more entertaining moments of this particular moviegoing experience.
***Actually, it’s a 55-and-over community on a golf course, which sounds like hell on Earth to me but they seem to be really enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Yeah, So, My Favorite Athlete Is That Guy from That Team, You Know, the One Who's Really Fast

On Saturday morning, the phone rang. I answered it and found myself caught up in a market research survey. I said yes, thinking it would just be a few questions. It wasn’t. It went on for about 40 minutes, and about every two minutes, I just wanted to say to hell with it and hang up, but I felt really sorry for the woman doing the survey, because, well, she didn’t seem very bright, and I didn’t want her to lose credit for doing the survey if I hung up, so I kept going. They were surveying women about sports, and did ever they call the wrong person. I have little or no interest in most sports. The only team sport I’m at all interested in is hockey. I also enjoy the Winter Olympics (featuring such popular events as curling and two-man luge) and figure skating, which most people don’t even classify as a sport.

The survey consisted of a lot of questions about sports I know nothing about. They asked if I watch a bunch of different sports on TV, including things like NASCAR (ha!), stock car racing (I asked Lord Kissington about that, and he suggested that they were more likely to have said “short car racing.” Whatever.), and golf.

Here is a sample question:

Telemarketer: Do you know what the AFL stands for?
Me: (thinking to myself: Hmmh, I bet they don’t mean the AFL-CIO.) Ummh, American Football League? (Lord Kissington later assured me that this answer was actually correct, as until the 1960s, there was an American Football League. So take that, survey people.)
Telemarketer: Ummh, no. It’s the Arena Football League.
Me: Oh.
Telemarketer: That’s ok.

She then followed up with a lot of questions about arena football. This wasn’t a well-designed survey. If I don’t even know what the AFL is, am I likely to have a lot of opinions about it? She read a list of statements and asked me if I agreed, disagreed, or didn’t know. For example:

Telemarketer: Arena football is a fine substitute for the NFL.
Me: Don’t know. (Although I would suspect the answer is a resounding “no” for any real football fans.)
Telemarketer: Arena football is a minor-league sport.
Me: Don’t know
Telemarketer: Arena football is a dazzling display of athleticism.
Me: (trying not to laugh) Don’t know

She then asked me to identify the main sponsor of lots of sports. I did not know the main sponsors of the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, NASCAR, MLB, the PGA tour, old man golfing, the LPGA, men’s tennis, woman’s tennis, arena football, or stock car racing (again, whatever). Every time I said I didn’t know, she said, “that’s ok” in a sympathetic voice. I wanted to ask her if she could name the last five Booker Prize winners. I almost never watch sports on TV and when I do, I tend to spend the commercial breaks doing other things, like peeing, replenishing beverages, or pondering the state of the world. I’m the worst consumer ever apparently.

Then there was a section of questions about pizza. First, she asked about Papa John’s. She gave me a list of qualities and I had to agree totally, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, disagree totally, or don’t know.

Telemarketer: Papa John's is contemporary and up to date.
Me: (thinking, ummh, it’s pizza) Agree somewhat.
Telemarketer: Papa John's is fun and exciting.
Me: (Again, it’s pizza.) Agree somewhat.
Telemarketer: Papa John's are delivery experts.
Me: Given what happened the last time I ordered from Papa Johns*, I can resoundingly disagree totally.
Telemarketer: Papa John's is hip.
Me: Huh?

Then we went through the whole list again with Dominos. Shockingly, my answers were pretty much the same.

Then she asked if I drank beer. The only answers she was equipped to take were “yes” or “no.” Apparently, there was no room for “yeah, I like it, but sometimes I can’t drink it if my stomach is bothering me, because it makes me, you know, a little gassy.”

We discussed whether Sprint/Nextel’s sponsorship of the NFL (apparently, they’re the main sponsor of the NFL. Who knew?) would make me more or less likely to use their service. I was able to very honestly tell her that it would make absolutely no difference whatsoever to me.

She asked my favorite team in several different sports. Thanks to baseball actually coming to DC, I was able to actually name a favorite baseball team (that would be the Nats). I also named my favorite football and hockey teams (Redskins and Caps, of course). Sadly, I was unable to give her a favorite basketball or arena football team. When it came to my favorite professional athlete, I said I didn’t have one. She didn’t seem to believe me, so I searched my brain. I finally came up with Richard Zednik (used to play for the Caps, was traded a few seasons back, and they just reacquired him, which I’m mildly stoked about, as much as I ever get stoked about sports, which, as you’ve probably guessed at this point, is not so much). She had no idea who Richard Zednik was, but I patiently spelled his name. Seriously, when you’ve got athletes with names like D’Brickashaw Ferguson*, is Richard Zednik really that exotic?

Finally, she asked what magazines I subscribe to.
Me: Vogue.
Telemarketer: (in a doubtful voice, as if I had just said that I subscribe to Kazahkstani Sheepherders Weekly) Vogue?
Me: Yes, Vogue. You know, V-O-G-U-E.
Telemarketer: (still sounding doubtful) Vogue. Ok. Anything else?
Me: No.

In the background, Lord Kissington starts laughing. After I get off the phone, he says, “I notice you didn’t tell them you subscribe to US Weekly.”
Me: I don’t want them to know that!

*Three and a half hours for a pizza to be delivered. And the Papa John's is approximately 4 blocks away. Delivery experts, my ass.
**I am certainly not casting any aspersions on the name D’Brickashaw, which is a truly awesome name.