tiaras optional

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sometimes I’m Like Greta Garbo

I’m an only child, and sometimes I just really like to be alone. I lived alone for a few years, and mostly, I liked it. Lord Kissington and I attribute the success of our relationship to the fact that although both of us really like being alone, we can actually stand each other’s company on a permanent basis. Still, sometimes I need some time to myself, and the occasional evening when LK is off doing whatever, I really enjoy being able to watch dopey movies like Charlie’s Angels and reveling in my aloneness.

Although my solo trip to Austin this spring wasn’t very exciting in terms of getting to do much in the city, I did have an excellent time because I had a huge hotel room all to myself, I was able to spread my toiletries all over the very comfortable bathroom, and the kind size bed was lovely even though I had insomnia. Yes, being awake at 5 a.m. unable to sleep sucks, but when you’re in a comfy king size bed propped up on about 18 pillows and watching reruns of Angel and Charmed, it seems that much more bearable*.

So, when LK mentioned last week that he had a fantasy football draft on Sunday and would be gone for most of the day, I ran around the living room screaming, “Whee.”

I had really big plans for the day. I’m trying to fix up my closet, getting rid of stuff I don’t wear, finding a way to deal with all the shoes, and organizing my wardrobe in preparation for the new job. I have a zillion papers to go through and file. And I wanted start watching one of my birthday gifts, Season 1 of Charmed. (I figured I could accomplish the first two while having the third on in the background.)

Then LK informed me that the draft might not be happening. “But you promised,” I wailed. Then a few hours later, the draft was suddenly back on, and I heaved a sigh of relief. He left around noon on Sunday, and I began my big day.

Then my mother called. She had just returned from an ill-advised trip with my Alzheimer’s- and osteoporosis-ridden grandmother. Once a year, she takes my grandmother to her old apartment in New York City. Once my grandmother gets there, she doesn’t want to leave, and there’s always an unpleasant scene when it’s time to come home**. Anyway, I was feeling bad for my mother, so when she asked if I wanted to go to brunch, I said sure. I mean, how long can brunch take, I thought to myself in a fit of optimism.

I had forgotten how long everything takes with my mother. You could blame it on everything being slower because of my ever-shrinking grandmother, but even before she was in the picture, everything with my mother took forever. A trip to the store that would take most people 30 minutes is like 90 minutes for her. I left my place around 1:30. I got back home at 6. As I walked in the door, the phone was ringing. It was LK, telling me that he was on his way home. And just like that, my entire day had evaporated. I’m totes bitter.

*Some people get excited about the music and food in Austin. Me, I get excited about being able to watch the Angel episode where Lindsey gets his evil hand at 5 a.m. We all have our small pleasures.
**As you can imagine, pretty much everyone in my mother’s life thinks these trips are a bad idea.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Detritus of My Life

I’ll be starting a new job in a couple of weeks. I’ve begun the to process of cleaning out my office. It’s going to be quite a project since I haven’t exactly kept the place in order, and I’ve been in it for a long time.

Here are some things I’ve thrown out so far:

  • A list of doctors on our insurance plan that was many years out of date
  • Files from my predecessor that I don’t think I’ve ever looked at
  • Wall calendars from 2004 and 2005. One had scary pictures of antique dolls and the other pictures of demented looking fairies (they were gifts). I’ve saved the 2003 and 2006 calendars because I like the pictures. Did I mention that my home is chaos too?
  • A flower pot that’s been empty for 3 years, ever since someone took pity on the dead plant in my office and disposed of it (although if you would think they might have disposed of the pot as well. Perhaps they left it behind to remind me of the plant I killed. It didn’t work since I only just realized it’s still here).
  • A poster of the 1999-2000 Caps lineup. Adam Oates is like retired now, right?
  • A hotel bill and other receipts from a conference I attended. In 1999.
  • A 2002 day planner. Flipping through this item revealed that my life used to be a lot more exciting.
  • A bottle of conditioner (in case I ever felt the need for some deep conditioning while at work?).
  • A list of songs that I was apparently making for a mixed CD. Although the list is so old that it might have been a mixed tape.

I found a shopping bag that I apparently carted down from my previous office when I moved into this one 5 years ago and never looked in. I'm really organized.

Here are some of the other gems that have turned up in my clean-up:

  • A Caps water bottle (never used, I think)
  • What appears to be a Lego action figure with a sword in one hand and a gun in the other. Totally ready for action
  • A knife
  • A gift bag with a pink poodle on it.
  • An ancient mail scale
  • The Sound of Music on VHS
  • A slinkee
  • A photo album that I think I bought as a gift but never got around to giving

Did I mention that I’m a packrat? I can't wait to start over again in a new office with no crap.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Building the Perfect Playlist

Back when I first got my Ipod, I became completely obsessed with the idea of playlists, and I tried to categorize everything I own within Itunes. I’ve calmed down a bit, but I still make a new playlist several times a month.

My Ipod is an essential part of my walk to work (it helps keeps my pedestrian rage in check), and I like to have playlists that are good for commuting. My walk to work takes about 45 minutes, so an ideal playlist will have 10 to 12 songs, depending on length (or 20 to 24 songs, if I want to continue listening to the playlist on my way home). The songs should be fast and/or upbeat as I find that I walk faster to those kinds of songs. The occasional slower song is ok as long as it’s bookended by two perkier songs. Depressing songs don’t work at all. (I put “Lay Me Down” by the Connells on a playlist recently and found myself walking at a snail’s pace. And wanting to cry. Not the best way to start the day.)

This my latest playlist. I’m still not 100% satisfied with it, but it keeps me pretty happy during the walk to work.

1. Ring of Fire – Social Distortion
2. Manifesto No. 1 – Shooter Jennings
3. Throw Your Arms Around Me – Hunters and Collectors
4. Handsome Man – Robbie Williams
5. Spirit Boy – Kane
6. The Funeral – Band of Horses
7. Ruby – Kaiser Chiefs
8. Paperweight – Joshua Radin and Schuyler Fisk
9. Better to Be – Liam Finn
10. Shade and Honey – Alessandro Nivola
11. Always Something There to Remind Me – Naked Eyes

(Two songs were cut from my original version of this playlist: “Pour Le Monde” by Crowded House, which was cut for not being peppy enough, and “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates, which apparently made it onto the list during a temporary loss of sanity.)

Here’s one that I’ve been listening to for the last couple of months:

1. Crimson and Clover – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
2. Rest in Peace – James Marsters
3. 4th of July – X
4. Don’t Cry Out – Shiny Toy Guns
5. More Than a Feeling – Boston
6. Pictures in an Exhibition – Death Cab for Cutie
7. Here Comes My Baby – Cat Stevens
8. Rootless Tree – Damien Rice
9. Bonnie and Clyde – Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot
10. How Soon Is Now – Love Spit Love
11. Thrown Away – Vast

This playlist is pretty awesome because it starts off with oneof my favorite songs ever, hits a bitchen 70s note in the middle, and ends on a gothy note, with some good stuff in between.

And for days when I’m feeling a little angry or really don’t want to go to work, I have the perfect punk playlist. Yes, it gets me all riled up, but in a good way.

1. Career Opportunities – the Clash
2. EMI – the Sex Pistols
3. Steppin Stone – Minor Threat
4. I Wanna Be Sedated – the Ramones
5. What Do I Get? – the Buzzcocks
6. Warsaw – Joy Division
7. The Modern World – the Jam
8. Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
9. Teenage Kicks – the Undertones
10. X Offender – Blondie
11. Love Song – the Damned
12. I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats
13. Mannequin – Wire
14. Shot by Both Sides – Magazine
15. Adult Books – X
16. I Love a Man in Uniform – Gang of Four
17. New Rose – the Damned
18. Out of Step – Minor Threat
19. Roadrunner – the Modern Lovers
20. Search and Destroy – the Stooges
21. Ready Steady Go – Generation X
22. Hong Kong Garden – Siouxie and the Banshees
23. Train in Vain – the Clash
24. Down in the Tube Station at Midnight – the Jam

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Shopping Odyssey

I used to love shopping. I could do it for hours at a time and not get bored. But lately, my tolerance for shopping has gotten dangerously low.

I usually shop alone. Going solo seems to work best for me since I can work on my own time frame, although it is helpful to have a friend around to give me an honest opinion. (I did have a friend who was great to shop with, because we have about the same tolerance level for shopping and we would get bored or annoyed around the same time. But she moved to another country.) I’ve given up shopping with my mother because she insists on coming into the dressing room with me or standing right outside and peeping in. Then she criticizes everything as “too revealing” or “too tight” (which from her means that it actually fits). She might as well tell me I’m dressing like a hooker (which I really don’t). It’s hard with my mother since our fashion aesthetics are light years apart. She wears nothing but neutral colored, buttoned-up, tailored, somewhat mannish clothes (think Annie Hall, but better tailored). Her neck and legs rarely see the light of day. I tend to wear actual colors and prints, and my neck and legs are often displayed.

As I have a good excuse to buy some new clothes (more on that later), I went out this weekend to do a little shopping. I had one specific goal in mind, getting a black pencil skirt, and I was open to anything else that popped up. So, off I went to Georgetown.

My first stop was Sephora. I just needed some grapefruit body scrub and a new eyebrow brush. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by Sephora. And this time, every 30 seconds an overly perky Sephora employee would accost me and ask if I needed any help. Over and over again. There were more employees than customers. I bought my items and beat a hasty retreat. I had walked to Georgetown and was hot and sweaty and no I really didn’t want to try a new eye shadow/lip gloss/blush. It’s probably a sign that I shouldn’t be shopping when 10 minutes in Sephora nearly brings on a panic attack.

My next stop was Club Monaco, which was nearly empty and much more low key. But I didn’t find much to interest me.

Then I headed to Zara, where I found 9 items to try on. And none of them worked. I remembered why I don’t own a pencil skirt: they look ridiculous on me. There must be something off about my waist/hip ratio, because if the skirt fits my hips, it gapes on my waist and vice versa. So, I scratched the pencil skirts. I did find one blouse that I liked, but it had some drawbacks: the fit on the top was a little off and I’m not sure it could be tailored to fit. And the shirt had approximately 42 buttons with loop closures that were a real pain in the ass to open and close, and I can only imagine how annoying they could be when I’m running late for work. So, the blouse went back on the shelf. I can’t stop thinking about it though. The Zara dressing rooms have bright, white walls and awful fluorescent lighting that gives my skin a lovely green tone. I realize it’s not exactly a high-end store, but I can’t understand why stores don’t make a little more effort with the dressing rooms. Better lighting would make me more likely to buy things.

French Connection was my next stop. The clothes were extremely meh, but I did end buying a very cute necklace that turned out to be half price.

I wandered down to Anthropologie and just walking through the doors made me feel better. It’s rather soothing. Unlike every other store I had entered, the music was pretty mellow and not pulsating disco beats (don’t get me wrong, I love pulsating disco beats most of the time, but when I’m frazzled and trying desperately to find items of clothing that don’t seem to exist, it just makes me anxious). And it always smells really good in there. I had no trouble finding lots of things I wanted to buy. Trying on the clothes was almost blissful. The dressing room walls are a soothing beige, and the light isn’t harsh. It made everything look better. I walked out of there with three dresses, and I could have bought two more, but I tried to restrain myself. I may have to go back though.

I considered checking out some of the non-chain stores at that point, but I decided to pass because 1) I was exhausted and frazzled, 2) having had success at Anthropologie, it seemed perhaps best to quit while I was ahead, and 3) I had probably done enough damage to my bank account for one weekend.

So, I killed some time flipping through magazines at Barnes and Noble and then met Lord Kissington for lunch. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc did much to soothe my shattered nerves. Not so soothing—the realization that I am still in need of several crucial items that will likely necessitate long shopping excursions in the near future.

This latest shopping excursion brought home several points: 1) pencil skirts don’t work on me, 2) I really like dresses and would be happy to wear one everyday, and 3) shopping makes me insane.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Sidewalk Makeovers

Do you ever wish you could just walk up to people on the street and politely point out their sartorial errors? For years, I have been doing impromptu makeovers in my mind of people I see on the street. Like, she has a pretty face, but she needs a much less brassy haircolor. Or, that skirt really isn’t doing that poor girl any favors. Or, really wanting to say something to a long-ago co-worker who wore clunky white pumps with black tights year-round (and it seems she still does). An ex-boyfriend thought that this tendency made me a horrible person*. I tried to explain that I did it out of a sense of wanting everyone to look their best, which is quite noble of me, no?

His response: “Maybe they don’t want your help!”

To which I replied, “They may not want it, but they certainly need it.”

He remained unconvinced. He also wore Tevas with socks, so his judgment in such matters was sorely lacking. As was mine for ever dating him. In my defense, it was the 90s.

I would never actually stop anyone to tell them all the things that are wrong with their outfits, because I’m really a very polite person and I have no wish to hurt anyone’s feelings or be beaten senseless by sensitive strangers.

And sometimes I just try to ignore everyone I see on the street with a live and let live attitude. Hey, if they’re happy looking like that, why should I be bothered? But there are some days when I see so many mishaps that I just can’t turn off the makeover button.

Here are a few of the things I might have said to people I saw the other day:

1. To the man in the madras shorts: Sir, I understand that you may really like madras. It’s got that whole preppie/I’m off to go sailing vibe, but you have a bubble butt, and madras was not created for the bubble butts of the world. The plaid is actually straining across your girth. Let’s try a solid color next time.

2. To the man in the hemmed jean shorts: No no no! My eyes! Then I would have run screaming in horror. How do these shorts still exist?

3. To the young woman with the VPL: I understand this one completely; we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. But that skirt is too clingy and your ass too loose**, and the VPL is just so out there. Proper undergarments will solve this problem. There’s a valuable lesson here: always look (or have someone else look) at your backside before you leave the house. (Then she turned around and I got a look at the “I just stepped in something disgusting” look she was sporting, and I thought that perhaps she had bigger issues than VPL.)

4. To the young woman in the strapless sundress: Yes, I see the cardigan in your hand, and I’m sure you’re going to put it on as soon as you get to work, but that dress really isn’t appropriate for the workplace, and that cardigan actually doesn’t match it. And the dress needs a good ironing. Also, it’s creating rolls of back fat (see above lesson about the backside). On the plus side, you have very nice legs, so I’d recommend an outfit that emphasizes those.

*Sadly, this was just one of many tendencies that he found “horrible.”
**I would say this in the kindest possible tone, as my ass is none too firm these days, but I make every effort to disguise that fact.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Conversations with My Mother

Whenever my mother is flying anywhere, she likes to call me right before the plane takes off. Sometimes she wants to tell me where all of her important financial papers are (in a Talbot’s shopping bag apparently) just in case “the plane crashes” and “I die.” She has an obsession with death (although I notice that she quickly changes the subject whenever I ask her to tell me exactly how much money I can expect to inherit at her imminent demise).

Today, she called me at 1:30 to tell me that she was on the plane. And that Katie Couric was sitting across from her.

My phone rang again at 4:20. I saw her number on the caller ID, but when I picked up the phone, she didn’t say anything. My mother has had a cell phone since 1996 but still hasn’t exactly mastered the use of them.

At 4:30, the phone rings again. The plane never took off. She’s still at National and is now on a second plane. Katie Couric is still there. Apparently, she’s going to miss her broadcast tonight. And she’s helping the flight attendants hand out water (“showoff,” I said). And she has really great legs. All very valuable information.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Please excuse me while I get a touch sentimental. So, we were in Philadelphia this weekend to see Crowded House. Color me bitter that my most favoritest band of all time decides to reunite only to not play DC*. But Philadelphia is a mere three hours away, so all was good. Or would have been had the trip there not been the most harrowing ever. At one point, I may have said, “Did you mean to take us on a tour of the projects?” I’m really not a very nice person. (At a rest stop in Maryland, we ran into someone we hadn’t seen a while. He was surprised to hear that Crowded House actually has fans willing to travel to see them. I tried not to be bitter. I didn’t really succeed.)

But Neil Finn and company made up for the all the badness of the trip. They still sound amazing. How old does it make me feel that Neil’s son Liam was one of the opening bands (and plays with CH)? And how old does it make Neil feel? Lord Kissington and I were among the younger people there, except for small children accompanying their parents. Liam was really good (his voice sounds much like dear old dad’s), and I am kicking myself for not buying his album at the show, since it’s an import and crazy expensive on Amazon (it’s supposed to be coming out here at some point). I did find a live EP to download. Check him out.

I have approximately five all-time favorite Crowded House songs**, and as the show was drawing to a close, they had only played one of them (“Fall at Your Feet.” I am such a dork that I actually shed a couple of tears when they started playing it. Lord Kissington tried to pretend he wasn’t with me, which was hard since it was freezing and we were clinging to each other to preserve bodily warmth.). And I didn’t really expect to hear “Into Temptation” or “Nails in My Feet” since both of them are kind of downers. But I was still sort of sad that they weren’t playing my other two favorites. But then I had a total Nelson “Moon River” moment***. The second encore was “Mean to Me” and “Better Be Home Soon.” There might have been some tears.

I leave you with the video for “Into Temptation”

and my favorite lyrics from “Nails in My Feet” (I was going to include the video, but it’s really goofy and for some reason, Neil looks a lot like my mother in it, which is all kinds of disturbing, and now whenever I watch my Crowded House videos on DVD, I will be forced to skip over it.)

The savage review
It left me gasping
But it warms my heart to see that you can do it too
Total surrender
Your touch is so tender
Your skin is like water on a burning beach
And it brings me relief

*They played DC approximately 42 times during their original incarnation, but I always missed them for reasons such as not being allowed to go to shows in the city on weeknights and at least twice being out of the country when they played. It was tragic.
**I think pretty much all of their songs are genius, I just happen to think that these five are extra genius. And all five remind me of very specific periods in my life, hence the occasional tear.
***In the Simpsons episode where Bart gets a driver license, he, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin rent a car and pretend that they are going to the National Grammar Rodeo at the Sheraton Hotel, Canada. They end up in Branson, Missouri, where Nelson insists that they go to see Andy Williams. At the end of Andy Williams’ show, Nelson has this rapturous look on his face and he says, “I didn’t think he was going to play ‘Moon River,” and then, bam! Second encore.”

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This Is My 300th Post?

When I logged on to Blogger to post this, I realized that this will be my 300th post. Sadly, I don't have a momentous post just for this moment. As you may have noticed if you haven’t given up visiting this blog entirely, there hasn’t been much content lately. I just haven’t had much to write about, and I’ve been extra lazy, so even when I do have something I could possibly wrangle into a blog post, I usually just say “eh” and lay on the couch instead. There is a serious Lady Tiara-shaped depression in said couch these days.

I recently saw a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. She asked what was new. I had pretty much nothing to say.

I wish I could say that blogging has been light because of my busy involvement in

1. Saving the world.
2. Making macrame plant holders (betcha can’t wait until Christmas, people)
3. My nothing short of brilliant Saved by the Bell fan fiction.

Sadly, or perhaps fortunately for the last two, none of these things are true.

So, having not much going on and feeling a bit out of sorts, this weekend I fell back on an activity that always makes me feel better: getting rid of shit.

I threw out

3 skirts
6 tops
2 dresses
1 pair of pajama pants
5 pairs of old or ill-fitting or just plain ugly shoes

And that was just a start. It’s always very liberating for me to get rid of things. And during the process, I rediscovered a skirt I had forgotten I had (surely a sign that my closet is out of control). Sadly, the shoe progress that I made is mitigated by the three pairs of shoes I’ve purchased since Sunday. And the other two pairs I have my eye on probably won’t help (but surely it’s a sign when a pair of shoes that you’ve been eyeing is now on sale for less than half of the original price?).

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