tiaras optional

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Fun and Twitches

Thanksgiving wasn’t totally sucky, which in Tiara family parlance means “actually rather nice.” Everyone behaved themselves, and the food was excellent. Of course, it’s not hard for this year to look good when I compare it to Thanksgivings past, like the time everyone was being so awful that I just skipped it or the time my grandfather’s London Fog raincoat got stolen at the truly awful restaurant he insisted we eat at*.

The four-day holiday was nice too, except for the fact that I seem to have developed a new stress-related symptom. In addition to stomach problems, red scaly blotches on my skin, and insomnia, I now have a facial twitch. Seriously, a facial twitch. So unfair, people. Lord Merlin tells me that he read in Men’s Health that twitches are usually stress-related and can be exacerbated by lack of sleep and dehydration. This all sounds plausible, but I’m still going to go see my doctor, since I don’t really consider Men’s Health to be an authoritative source. Especially since I am not a man.

In my time off, I did a lot of sitting around, saw The Queen (v. good) and The Fountain (also good, but if the internets could explain it to me, I would be totes grateful), and finally finished that Marie Antoinette biography I’ve been slogging my way through. It was very good, but I have had the worst time finishing it, and have actually put it down several times to read other books. I think my problem relates to the ending. I know how the book is going to end and I know it’s not going to be pretty. And it wasn’t. Sometimes, I reread books I’ve read before, and of course, I know that ending, but that just makes it better. For example, it’s hard to read about the trials and tribulations of Jane Eyre, but you know there is going to be a big payoff in the end, and Jane will (spoiler alert for anyone who’s never read Jane Eyre†) overcome adversity and live happily ever after with Mr. Rochester. And as I read about Marie Antoinette, I already knew there wasn’t going to be some last minute rescue. So sad.

*Which is kind of like poetic justice in a way, because he forced to eat at this awful Irish (a people not known for their fine cuisine as you are no doubt aware) restaurant all the time, and on three separate occasions, the same ancient drunk Irishman walked off with the raincoat, because he had a similar one and got “confused” after 18 Guinnesses. Three times. Each time, my grandfather got the coat back, but it always smelled of old man, cigarettes, and cheap Irish whiskey.
†Just read it already.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

This year, I'm thankful that I will only be expected to eat one Thanksgiving dinner. As a long-time child of divorce, I should be used to the split holidays by now, but somehow my stomach has never adjusted. So, only being expected to show up for one dinner tomorrow is reason for thanks.

(And yes, I realize that there are many unfortunate souls who would be glad to have two dinners to go to. I'd gladly give them one of my spots, but I've yet to convince my mother that spending Thanksgiving with the homeless is a good idea.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lack of Wordage

Lack of Wordage

Things have gotten really crazy and posting has fallen by the wayside. I’ve been having serious stress of the unable to sleep, mysterious stomach pains, and lovely red blotches bursting out all over my body (hawt, I know) variety. This has led to a reduction in writing and in any fun activities that might actually give me something to write about.

1. The other day, I wore this new top to work. I spent the whole day feeling like the top just wasn’t working for me. It was kind of a crazy pattern and the cut didn’t really feel right to me. I was totally uncomfortable in it all day. And then it dawned on me. This was the sort of top that crazy Great Aunt Edna might wear. I don’t actually have a crazy Great Aunt Edna, but you know the type. She wears crazy outfits and accessorizes them with turbans. And you look at her and think, “Wow, that is one crazy outfit Great Aunt Edna has on, but you know, she’s really working it, what with the turban and the crazy clunky jewelry.” Sadly, “crazy Great Aunt who lives in Miami and wears wacky print muumuus” isn’t really the look I’m striving for, so I don’t think I’ll be wearing this top again.

[The following contains a spoiler for V for Vendetta, so please skip if you are planning to watch it. However, I would really recommend that you skip watching it. You’ll thank me.]

2. Over the weekend, I watched V for Vendetta. It was one of those movies that I meant to see in the theater, but by the time I got around to it, it was gone. I figured I would enjoy it. I usually like futuristic Utopia-gone-wrong sort of tales (We, Brave New World, and Anthem* are among my favorite books). Sadly, this film did not live up to my expectations. I knew we had a problem in the first five minutes when Natalie Portman’s character is rescued from a potential gang rape by a guy wearing a creepy mask. Even though the rescuer has just knifed the three creeps to death and is WEARING A REALLY CREEPY MASK, she agrees to go with him when he asks her to come hear some music with him. I know she’s been trained by her totalitarian society to obey at all costs, but you would think there might be a moment of hesitation. But no, there wasn’t. That set the tone for the rest of the movie, and I was flipping through US Weekly before long. The last 10 minutes or so was fairly decent, but couldn’t even begin to compensate for the previous 2 hours.

3. Last night, I had Chinese food. I have noticed that lately, the fortunes I’ve gotten with Chinese food have been very lame. Last night’s fortunes included such gems as “The weather is nice.” I got one that said “For those who feel, life is a tragedy; for those who think, life is a comedy.” Not only is this not a fortune, but I don’t even agree with it. Perhaps life is a tragedy for those who feel, but life is definitely a tragedy for those who think. The happiest people I’ve known have always been kind of dumb, and I figure that their lack of thinking about things make them much happier. Those who are not cursed with self-awareness are generally much happier than those who are. So, fuck you, fortune cookie that isn’t even a fortune.

*The only Ayn Rand I could get through, probably because it’s 1000 pages shorter than all of her other books.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lady Tiara Hearts Viktor & Rolf

Last year, I waited a few days before hitting H&M for the Stella McCartney collection, and by the time I got there, all they had left were key chains. And you know, a Stella McCartney keychain is much like any other keychain. This year, I was determined not to miss out on the Viktor & Rolf collection. I really like the Viktor & Rolf aesthetic, and this may be my only chance to own any of their clothes, barring any unforeseen lottery winnings.

H&M opens at 10 a.m. I arrived there at 10:10. As I approached the store, I noticed a woman looking at me. We were obviously heading to the same place. She gave me the stinkeye and started running to get to the door first. I really wanted to say, “Slow down, sweetie, you’re clearly a size 2, so it’s not as if we’ll be fighting over the same clothes.” I walked into the store and saw that the Viktor & Rolf section was completely picked over and that there appeared to be none of the four dresses I was interested in left on the racks. 10 minutes, people. I suppose I should have lined up at 8 a.m. I grabbed two tops and the black coat (in a size larger than normal, since it was very fitted and looked tiny) and headed to the dressing room. I went to the end of the very long line and prepared to wait. And wait. And wait.

The wait was interminable, but also somewhat entertaining. A bit of what ran through my head:

Upon noticing that they were playing the Viktor & Rolf commercial on continuous loop: “This is the coolest commercial ever. I love V&R. I wish I wasn’t already married so I could get married in that wedding dress.”

After watching the commercial on continuous loop approximately 30 times: “Don’t they have any other videos to show?”

Upon noticing two different over-50 women wearing leggings: “Looks like my decision to never ever ever in a million years wear legging in this millennium was a good one.”

Looking at the mother/daughter duo several places in front on me: “Do they really think that because both of them dye their hair that awful shade that people will actually think it’s natural? … Shit, I really am an awful person. But seriously, these clothes are best suited for anorexic amazons and neither of them fall into that category. Or even close… Why so bitchy, Princess? Why shouldn’t this mother and daughter be able to enjoy a little shopping together? … This could be you and your mom… (hysterical silent laughter) Oh wait, my mother would have no idea who Viktor & Rolf are because they don’t carry them at Talbot’s or Lands End… They are each holding approximately 30 items of V&R… Wait a minute, everyone in this fucking line is holding like 30 items… Did they just grab everything their greedy little hands could carry? No wonder this line isn’t moving. I’m going to be here all day… Do I even like these clothes…”

As the woman is front of me—the same woman who beat me to the door on the way in—eventually gives a frustrated sigh and stomps off: “Ha! Quitter!”

I eventually make it into a dressing room. During my long wait in line, I could see lots of V&R being rejected and put back out on the racks, so I had some hope that the items I really wanted might actually be available. One of the tops I tried on was a weird sweater/shirt combo (silk shirt in the front, sweater in the sleeves and back). While I appreciated the concept, it just didn’t work on me. The white angora sweater was much better and has a lot of possibilities. I’ll probably remove the little heart pendant, since it’s a bit much with the bow, but it would be a cool necklace on its own (V&R love hearts and bows and they are all over this collection). The coat was adorable, but huge, and fit oddly, so even going down a size probably wouldn’t have helped.

I hung on to the sweater and hit the floor again. I snagged two of the dresses and bought them, skipping a second trip to the dressing room (I can only take so much masochism in one day). Instead of the usual blah plastic H&M bag, you get a really nice V&R special shopping bag, made out of heavy white paper with black ribbon handles. I know it’s just a shopping bag, but I am a shopping bag connoisseur and this is a very fine example. They also threw in some samples of V&R’s new scent Flowerbomb, which is pretty, but a bit headier than the kind of scents I like to wear.

Sadly, the red silk dress didn’t work at all, as it was way too small. It was oddly cut: the arms were almost too tight, even in the forearms (my arms are extremely average in size, so this is odd), the top fit fine, and the bottom I couldn’t even button. Luckily, the black dress fit perfectly, even though it was supposed to be the same size as the red one. I’ll be returning the red dress, so if anyone really wants it in size 8 that’s really more like a 4, you may be in luck (they’re out of this one in all sizes as far as I know).

So although it was a bit harrowing, it really wasn’t that bad, and I got two cool things. Much better than New York, where they were lined up around the block and the collection was completely sold out 30 minutes after the store opened.

Conceding That He's an Idiot

Normally, I avoid watching concession speeches. They’re just so sad, and I usually end up feeling bad for the loser, even if it’s someone I wanted to see defeated. But yesterday, I decided to make an exception and watch Senator Macaca McFootball concede, because I really really can’t stand him. He represents everything that I think is wrong with Virginia*. And he’s just really annoying.

So, I tuned into the internets to watch the speech. Nothing happened for a while, but as I looked at the place where he was going to speak, it seemed really familiar.

I called Lord Kissington and got him to turn on the speech. “Isn’t that where the Professor and Mary Ann got married?”

Lord Kissington: “Yeah, I think so.”

Me: “I went on a field trip there in 1st grade. Now it’s totally tainted. But I can see why he chose it. It’s a colonial house. It represents the Virginia George wishes he lived in.”

LK: “Five bucks says he brings football into the speech.”

Me: “That bet’s not even worth taking, because you know there’s no way that Macaca McFootball won’t bring football into this somehow. This is a guy who campaigned at the Skins game in Maryland two days before the election.”

Eventually, John Warner came out and blathered on for what seemed like forever about how great McFootball is. I couldn’t take it and I stopped watching. But I caught a clip later on the news, and he indeed brought football into the speech, throwing his precious football into the crowd. Which is pretty funny, since I actually thought the thing was surgically attached to his hand.

*The state in which I grew up. I’ve spent more years there than anywhere else (approximately 20). There are plenty of good things about Virginia, but George Allen isn’t one of them.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Notes on an Election, Part the Second

1. So, I was over a my father’s house the other day and I saw something that surprised me: a large election poster that said “Vote for [Dad’s name] Tiara!”

“Dad, is there something you want to tell me?”

He insisted that he wasn’t really running for office, but that someone with the exact same name spelled the same way (our family name is slightly unusual and the least common spelling) was running for a local office in the city in which we were both born. Who would have thought there was another Lord Thistlewaite St. John Tiara out there?

I’m happy to say that Thistlewaite won his election with a whopping 74.5% of the vote. Way to go, Dad!

2. [Not election-related but still worthy of comment] I offer a hearty congratulations to Britney Spears, who has finally dumped her loser sperm-donor husband. She probably should have kicked him to the curb after the first kid, as I’m sure she’ll have to pay him more now. Of course, she really should never have married him, so what’s another year and another kid? Hope that prenup stands up in court.

3. Congratulations also go to handsome politician Martin O’Malley for his win in the Maryland governor’s race. I don’t know if the race came down to looks alone, but O’Malley sure beats Ehrlich in that category.

4. There were approximately three other people voting when Lord Kissington and I arrived at our local polling station last night. I’m guessing turnout wasn’t huge earlier in the day either, given that when I signed my name, most of the other lines on the page were blank. I told myself that it was important to vote because if nothing else, I am influencing politics on the most local level, when I vote for the ANC candidate. Of course, our candidate was running unopposed. Sigh.

5. I was asked if I wanted paper or electronic voting, and I said paper, because I’m not using one of those dang, fancy, newfangled machines. Filling out the paper voting forms is a bit like taking a standardized test. You have to use number 2 pencils, and you have to fill in the arrows ,being careful not to go outside the line. Since I vote in a school, the whole process really takes me back.

6. My mother called last night to ask if I had voted. I told her that we went after work and it wasn’t too crowded.

“Oh, the election. No, I was wondering if you had voted for anyone on Dancing with the Stars?”

"Gee, Mom, I was a little more concerned about the actual election."

I told her that I couldn’t vote for Mario Lopez, because even though I think he’s probably the best dancer, there’s just something I don’t like about him. Maybe it’s that his main claim to fame is Saved by the Bell? Maybe it’s his annoying little whispery voice? Or maybe it’s that he seems so intense when he’s dancing, like he’s desperate to win this because he knows it’s his last chance to rise above the D list? I can’t help but prefer Emmitt Smith who’s always smiling and actually looks like he’s enjoying dancing. But hey, that’s just me.

I Got Two Words for You:

Woo hoo!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Notes on an Election and Other Things

1. On Saturday, we went duckpin bowling for a friend’s birthday. Apparently, I don’t completely suck at it. I enjoy bowling of the rare occasions that I do it, but the whole having to wear shoes that have been worn by who knows how many people thing really freaks me out. This time, I figured out a way to cut down on the germ factor (or at least to assuage my germ phobia). I wore an old pair of socks for bowling, and I brought an extra pair of socks. After bowling, I removed the bowling shoe-contaminated socks, put them in a ziplock bag I had brought specifically for that purpose, and put on the clean socks, thereby avoiding any contamination in my own shoes. Yes, I know, very OCD.

2. On Sunday, while on a trip to the burbs, we stopped at a Taco Bell. There is just something about suburban Taco Bell. I’ve tried city Taco Bell, but there’s always something a little off about it. This particular suburban Taco Bell is open until 4 a.m., and they have all kinds of signs advertising “the meal between dinner and breakfast.” Because Americans really need to add another meal to their diets. They also had a sign announcing that all items can be made without meat and that Taco Bell is “Great for Lent!” I’m glad they’re looking out for the Catholics, but Lent doesn’t actually start until 21 February 2007. Still, it’s good to be prepared.

3. So, it’s Election Day. I keep thinking about the Virginia Senatorial election and how voters have to choose between a possibly racist douchebag and a possibly sexist douchebag*. But really, I’m just jealous that you get to have a senator.

4. I’ll be voting today, but it’s really an exercise in futility. Fenty is all but elected already, and most of the other candidates in my ward are running unopposed. But I have to vote. If I don’t vote, I feel like I’m just giving in to a Congress who seems to think we don’t deserve voting rights. It sucks to be disenfranchised.

*The choice seems pretty easy here—vote for the guy who doesn’t mention in every other sentence that he used to play football and that his daddy coached the Redskins.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ladybug Killer (Or Karma Will Get You in the End)

Yesterday, I killed a ladybug. I really tried not to. Two nights ago, I saw something on the ceiling of the kitchen. I figured it was yet another roach, and I was trying to figure out a way to kill it, which was looking difficult since the ceiling is a lot higher than I can reach. Then I noticed that it was a ladybug. For some reason, I’ve always liked ladybugs. They’re not like roaches; they don’t seem to multiply like rabbits, and they’re not usually indoors. Lord Kissington was all set to kill the ladybug until I begged him not to. He looked at me as if I were nuts, but he humored me and left the bug where it was. I promptly forgot all about it.

The next night, I was in the kitchen when I noticed a bug in a half-filled glass of water in the sink. Once again, I assumed it was a roach. Upon further examination, it turned out to be my ladybug. And I was very upset to find it floating upside down, since it seemed sad that I had given her a reprieve last night and here she was, drowned. But then I realized she was still moving. This ladybug had life in her yet. I scooped her out of the water with a spoon and put her on a paper towel to dry off, while I pondered how to save her. “Lord Kissington,” I called, “I need your help.”

He comes into the kitchen quickly, but when I explain to him that I need his help to save the ladybug’s life, he snorts and says, “I don’t save bugs, I kill them.” He leaves the kitchen as I stared in horror at his heartlessness. I pondered how to rescue the bug. Taking the bug outside would be the easiest solution, but since I live on the sixth floor, I wasn’t sure how to transport her that far without crushing her. I figured out a way to push the screen out of the window and got Lord Kissington (under protest) to hold it in place, so I could put the ladybug out on the ledge so she could crawl to freedom. Unfortunately, as I attempted to place her on the ledge, she slid right off. Can ladybugs survive a six-flight drop? I feel so guilty.


Perhaps karma is getting me back, because this morning someone spit on me. I don’t think it was intentional, because I would imagine that if you really wanted to spit on someone intentionally, you would stop and really aim it in their direction. I think this was a just a case of a guy spitting and me being within spitting distance. I saw flecks of spittle floating through the air and I thought I had escaped contact until I looked down and noticed a gob of spittle on my coat. Shudder. I kept looking at it in panic, trying to figure out what I could do. My only option was trying to wipe it off with a tissue, but there were no trash cans in sight, and I didn’t want to litter or return a contaminated tissue to my purse. Three blocks later, I was still staring at my sleeve, when I spotted a trash can. I whipped out a tissue, dabbed at the spittle (which strangely hadn’t soaked in or evaporated at all), and threw the tissue in the trash can. Just as I tossed it in, a gust of wind caught the tissue, and off it went. I briefly considered following it and trying to dispose of it again, but it blew into traffic and I decided that I wasn’t going to take my life in my hands to rescue a germ-laden tissue. A man who had seen the whole thing gave me a dirty look. I wanted to scream, “I tried not to litter. It was the wind, damn it,” but instead I just kept walking. For a germaphobe like me, this has totally ruined my day. Now I’m off to attempt to boil the sleeve of my coat. Wish me luck. Here’s hoping I don’t get hepatitis*.

*And if the hepatitis lobby is reading, yes, I’m aware that it’s highly unlikely that I would contract hepatitis this way. Jokes, people.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Off with Her Head

Over the weekend, I saw Marie Antoinette. I had been looking forward to it for ages, because I really like Sofia Coppola as a director (we try to forget about her brief flirtation with “acting”*) and I’m a huge history dork with a soft spot for queens who lost their heads. Unfortunately, I had some issues with it. (Shocking, I know. As you’ve probably realized by now, I tend to have issues with everything.)

(Two warnings about what’s to come: spoilers and extreme dorkiness. Don’t say you weren’t warned.)

It’s really visually stunning, and it definitely works on an eye-candy level. However, the story doesn’t hold together very well. It’s just a series of cool-looking scenes thrown together without much thought for coherency. For example, we see Marie Antoinette have an affair with the handsome Swede Count Axel Fersen. First of all, there is no proof that the affair happened. Certainly, they had a relationship, but whether it was physical is impossible to say, since Marie Antoinette didn’t leave any evidence behind. (If only she had: Dear Diary, I totally hooked up with Axel last night. He’s like from Sweden and he is such a hottie and so much cuter than my fat**, boring, key-loving husband.) Some biographers do think they slept together, so I don’t really have a huge issue with her putting it in the movie, except that it seems to have no point. Fersen and MA sleep together, he leaves, and she wanders around Versailles thinking about him to the tune of “What Ever Happened” by the Strokes. We never see Fersen again. Why bother showing the supposed affair if they weren’t going to show his important role during the revolution? Fersen worked tirelessly to free MA and her family and was instrumental in a failed escape attempt. The affair seemed meaningless without this context.

Coppola chose to end the film with MA and Louis leaving Versailles in the early days of the Revolution. I can see why she made this choice (she would have really had to condense things a lot to get the subsequent events in and a lot of ugliness would have intruded into an otherwise pretty movie), but by leaving out most of the Revolution, she missed out on the chance to really show MA growing as a person. We see hints of this when she refuses to leave Versailles, saying that her place is with her husband, but this seems to come out of nowhere since she hasn’t exactly shown great devotion to him up to that point. During the family’s captivity, MA showed great strength of character and she is said to have gone to her death with dignity and courage.

Not that it was all bad: I did think some parts of the film were extremely effective. The portrayal of the elaborate rituals that surrounded every move the royal family made were very well done. And the constant whispering that surrounds MA at Versailles really was very effective at conveying the fishbowl atmosphere in which she lived.

If you are at all interested in it, I would certainly recommend seeing it, as despite my complaints, there is a lot of good in it, and if you’re not all that interested in the dorky historical details, the good may outweigh the bad.

*But we were in favor of her designing career, except that we’ve always been bitter that none of her cute clothes fit us because they are made for women with freakishly long torsos (or perhaps we just have a freakishly short torso?).
**Louis and some of his siblings were rather corpulent. It’s said that when Marie Antoinette first arrived in France, she was surprised by how much Louis ate.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Maintenance Woes

I live in a very large building. Sometimes, the maintenance staff is great and really efficient, but sometimes, eh, not so much. Last week, the lightbulbs in our foyer and dining room burned out. (The building installed light fixtures that use those super long-lasting fluorescent bulbs, and they are responsible for replacing them.) On Monday, Lord Kissington stopped by the front desk and put in a maintenance request. When I arrived home on Monday night, the foyer light had been changed, but the dining room light had not. I stopped by the front desk Tuesday morning to put in another request. When I gave the apartment number, the woman asked if my husband had put in a request yesterday. I explained that he had and that only one light had been changed. She rolled her eyes, so I guess this kind of thing is not unusual. When I arrived home, there was a note saying they had changed the lightbulb, but when I flipped the switch, nothing happened.

On Wednesday, the woman at the front desk was surprised to see LK again. He suggested that the light might be broken as well as burned out. When I arrived home on Wednesday, they had fixed the light, but it’s definitely a case of be careful what you wish for. The other fluorescent overhead lights in the apartment aren’t too harsh. But now when you flip the dining room switch, first you hear that tinkling sound that you get in most office fluorescent lights. Then when the light comes on, it’s this horrible harsh greenish light. Our dining room now resembles a police interrogation room. Sigh.

In addition to our lighting issues, we’re having some major bug issues, so I stopped by the front desk to ask about getting exterminated. When the lady saw me coming, she said, “Don’t tell me they didn’t fix that light of yours.” We arranged to put our apartment on the list to be exterminated the next day. When I came home from work on Friday, there were bugs all over the kitchen and no sign of any extermination. Luckily, the exterminator showed up yesterday. I am now waiting for the bugs to die a slow, painful death, which they don’t seem to be doing. Considering the level of the problem, we’ll probably have to have the exterminator back again this Friday. Sigh.