Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ohio: A Love Song

Whenever I tell someone I'm from the Midwest I get an answer along the lines of, "I should've guessed. You're so nice!" or "So that's why you're so smiley!" But until recently, it had been six months since I was in the Midwest, and my attitude was beginning to show it. I knew it was time to recharge, so I made plans to fly back a couple weeks ago. I wasn't five minutes out the door when I began to feel the Midwestern generosity wash over me. I submit for evidence:

Text to Iowa-born Coworker: Not gone 20 minutes and I just cheerfully gave money to a sketchy dude in the Metro. The Midwest takeover has begun.

His reply: At this rate, you’ll be wearing jeans and tennis shoes before supper.

Me: Supper! Ha!

Anyway, Columbus is awesome. Not just because of our Big Ten football team or our token billionaire fashion mogul. It’s awesome because you can travel across the entire region in 20 minutes flat, you can buy an 800 square foot condo for less than $200K, and the cheap pedicure places still use razors. In Ohio you can be at a baby shower, dressed in silk and cooing over onesies, and a guy might walk through the room carrying a turkey sandwich and a shotgun (it happened). No one will look up because it will be totally ordinary. I saw more McCain/Palin signs displayed nine months after the election than I saw in the entire District of Columbia during the height of the campaign. And then there are the sweet bits of Americana like this:

Which can also be borderline creepy like this:

Or downright disturbing:

Yeah, I'm not kidding. And no, these were not taken at my parents' house.

But for anyone who still blames Ohio for W’s re-election in 2004, I have proof that liberals are allowed to thrive there, albeit once a year and under police supervision. ComFest is an annual “anything goes” festival in Columbus that I make a point to return to each year. Sure there are mullets and Harley t-shirts and the occasional ZZ Top beard, but there are also Tarot cards, tye-dye and contact highs. Best people watching you can imagine.

In two days time, I began to wonder why I ever left. Awesome people, cheap real estate and easy living. I was somewhat saddened when I had to leave, and then the best thing ever happened: I got stopped going through airport security on my way back to DC. The reason? I had some candles in my suitcase that were in mysterious looking jars. (Btw these candles are made by hand in a hole-in-the-wall shop in Columbus and sell for $45 a piece at Fred Segal in LA. It was worth the risk to stock up at the local price of $12.) After the TSA agent determined I was not transporting anything dangerous in my candle jars, he busted me with some contraband liquids. I was fully prepared to part ways with my C.O. Bigelow Body Souffle when he shrugged and said, “You know normally you’d have to throw this away, but you look like a nice person so it’s cool.”

Which is why I love being from the Midwest.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dentaluv, Redux

Confession: despite all my hipster posturing, I would give a non-essential organ to own real estate in Georgetown. Meandering through its charming, cobblestone streets can be absolutely transporting. And so it goes that this morning, as I was winding its streets in my Civic hybrid (thanks Zipcar!), I almost forgot that I was on my way to my least favorite place on earth: the dentist. Despite recent events, I have apparently not learned my lesson about routine oral healthcare because for the last several months I've been ignoring those pesky reminder cards. But finally, the $2000 lesson prevailed over my B-movie nightmares and I scheduled my routine check-up.

I arrived a few minutes late (i.e. right on time for me) and noticed a new face behind the receptionist desk. I gave her my last name and took a seat. She spent the next few minutes rifling through charts until one of the hygienists who knows me grabbed it off of a stack and handed it to her. Her response? "Oh, you didn't tell me you were Julia." I decided to let that one go, but the buzz from my drive along R Street officially began to wore off.

After depositing me in an exam chair (which I noticed had a new massage feature!), the hygienist asked me a few routine questions and left. A few minutes later my dentist popped in to gush, "Hey stranger! Where've you been? We've missed you!" and to inform me that he was running about twenty minutes behind schedule. Although I wanted to ask why one of the hygienists couldn't just floss me and be done with it, I smiled and picked up the paper and said no problem. True to his word, he returned twenty minutes later and got down to the business of cleaning my teeth. With his hand and a few instruments in my mouth he asked me to tell him what I'd been up to this spring (why dentists think this is an opportune time to chat is beyond me). I suppose he was also providing commentary on my oral health, but to be honest I was camped out in the Happy Place in my mind just wishing time would pass quicker and not really listening all that much.

When it was said and done, I stood up and he gave me a not-so-subtle once over. Conspiratorially, he whispered, "Have you lost weight? You look great." I tried not to squirm awkwardly and mumbled something innocuous in response. The thing is, I have lost weight. I've dropped a size or two, and sure, it's fun to wear clothes that haven't seen the light of day since I was in college, but it's nothing dramatic or anything and the fact that my dentist noticed kind of freaked me out. Not to throw out a total overshare here, but my freaking bikini waxer hasn't even noticed, and she sees me once a month! I realize this is the guy who noticed the dye job that managed to sneak by my co-workers, but I'm starting to think he has me tailed in between visits.

And so I found myself again overcome with a desperation to flee (never good when there's an AMEX involved), and I was so preoccupied with escaping that it took me a minute to process it when the receptionist confirmed my follow-up appointment for an Invisalign consultation. Huh? I asked her to explain. Apparently the doc voiced some concerns about the "crowding" of my bottom teeth and has recommended Invisalign for treatment. Which means? You guessed it. About five more appointments and another two grand. I cannot escape this man.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When did I become Miranda?

It should come as no surprise that I'm a huge fan of Sex & the City. I don't care if it was primarily written by gay men; they still somehow managed to portray the modern single woman with amazing attention to detail and nuance. It's uncanny--and maybe a little embarrassing--how often I've related an experience in my life to an episode of that show. Sigh.

Most women I know think they're a Carrie, and I'm no exception. We're complex, imperfect, temperamental, hopelessly romantic and house poor (but fashion rich). In my dating life, I've always related to Carrie. I've had my own version of Big: the impossibly selfish guy who shows up every two years or so to declare his love before disappearing again. And I've had my fair share of Aidans: the super sweet guys who do everything right but still can't win my heart. I've never related to Charlotte's desperation for perfection, or Samantha's shallow pursuit of sex and I've certainly never patterened my romances after ball-busting Miranda's.

But a funny thing has happened. About a month ago, when I was checking out a hot new bar with some girlfriends, I found myself in the enviable position of being singled out by the cute bartender (yay for free Grey Goose!). I gave him just enough attention to keep my glass full, but mostly ignored him to talk to my friends. That is, until he said to me, "You're not going to get away with that when I'm your boyfriend." And just like that he had my full attention. I mean, it takes a lot of balls to say something like that, and when a guy can pull it off without sounding arrogant it's hot.

And so it has come to be that I am living out Miranda & Steve: the Early Years. The ambitious and career-obsessed redhead with the mellow and lovable bartender. Our schedules are the exact opposite. He is exasperated by my inability to stay out past midnight on Fridays, and I want to throttle him when he text messages me from the golf course on a Tuesday. And our ambitions? They couldn't be more different. In truth, we have virtually nothing in common, and dating him isn't exactly in line with my Power Couple Quest (blog forthcoming), but he is exactly what I need right now: charming, funny, mature and confident. And really? Confidence is ten times sexier than a killer resume anyway.

Monday, May 25, 2009

DC is for Haters

Anyone who took an eighth grade geography class knows that the Washington, DC metropolitan area is comprised of the District of Columbia and a handful of Virginia and Maryland suburbs. What you don’t know until you live here is that there’s a hierarchy of geographic superiority among these jurisdictions. Marylanders fall at the bottom of the barrel. A guy I know who grew up in Northern Virginia (henceforth, NoVA) has a t-shirt that reads, Friends Don’t Let Friends Live in Maryland, and it just about sums up Virginians’ opinion of Maryland. However, Virginians have their own place in the ranks: a Washingtonian I know has a t-shirt that reads, Virginia is for Commuters, a play on the unofficial (or is it the official?) Virginia state motto.

The ironic thing about Washingtonian smugness is that very few of us were actually born here or stay for any real length of time, so our sense of superiority isn’t rooted in anything real. This really pisses off all the natives I know. Nonetheless, our sense of self-righteousness prevails. Whenever I have to leave the District (or, journey to the interior, as I am prone to say) I like to joke about packing flares and trail mix. A couple of weeks ago, a cute NoVA guy came into DC to take me out on a date, and I jokingly asked him if they served peanuts on his plane ride. Because NoVA guys are so easily provoked, he reveled in the chance to tell me what my neighborhood looked like five, ten years ago and essentially relegated me to some kind of urban sheep who followed the pack to the latest Starbucks opening. By the time he was done, he’d come up with a t-shirt of his own: DC is for Haters. Oh snap! (But can I get it on Busted Tees??)

And really? He’s right. There is something about the suburbs that I find absolutely disorienting. I have a pretty great sense of direction, but if you dropped me off in the center of Rosslyn, I’d be hard pressed to find my way back. Ditto Bethesda. That said, this weekend I found myself spending a lot of time outside the safe confines of DC, and lo and behold it didn’t totally suck! My roommate, being the bestest roommate ever that he is, tossed me his Jeep keys before he headed out of town, so I took advantage of the rare access to wheels. Each time I set out from home I got lost, and at one point the Jeep may or may not have caught on fire, but I got to feel the wind in my hair and have some killer frozen custard in a quaint NoVA neighborhood.

Then this evening, the weirdest thing happened. As I crossed over the Wilson Bridge on my way back into the District, I didn’t feel smug at all. Instead, I felt a swelling sense of curiosity about this city that increasingly feels like home to me. Since I moved here three years ago, I’ve spent most of my time within a half-mile radius of my apartment (did I mention it’s ridiculously, amazingly located?), but I’m finding myself itching a bit lately. Hmmm…perhaps it’s time for a little pioneering. Starbucks, anyone?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Update on My Life, in List Form

Note: for the record, the reason I never update this blog is that my friend Katherine is way funnier than me and routinely publishes my antics on the World Wide Web via her own (way funnier) blog.
  • About five days after my last post, I swung back into the dramatic, yet impossible romance. About a month ago, I swung back out. In the interim, we went to Iceland! It was intense and otherworldly, and you should see the pictures. Really.
  • I continue to date men who wore born in the 80's, and this is a pattern that disturbs me. Text-flirting appears to be the primary Gen Y Courtship Strategy, and I really prefer a wittily composed email. What can I say? Good grammar makes me swoon. Excessive use of "LOL" does not. Even if you are a really cute architect.
  • Despite cutting back to once-a-week running and ditching the gym altogether, my ass has been shrinking. While I thought this would make me less popular with black men, it turns out they like curly hair too.
  • My mom joined Facebook.
  • The week-long season we call "spring" came and went, and the Season of Profuse Sweating has begun. This year I broke down and bought clinical strength deodorant, which I'm sure is giving me breast cancer, not to mention ruining my white shirts with disturbing, fluorescent stains. But my pits? They're bone dry. I can't wait until they make an all-over body version.
  • I finally got a therapist, and it's the Best. Money. I've. Ever. Spent. I can't believe I didn't get one years ago! There is something so appealing to my Inner Narcissist about having a weekly appointment where all I do is talk about Me, Myself and I.
  • I narrowly avoided getting swine flu, though it meant canceling a much-needed trip to Mexico.
  • Even though all signs have been directing me toward homeownership, I officially decided to continue my life as a renter for the foreseeable future. It was a tough decision, but ultimately I had to admit to myself that it is not a responsibility I want to take on as a single woman. Yes, yes, my Inner Feminist is pissed about it, but who did she think was going to provide the flat screen TV and fix things when they broke? Me? I think not.
  • This summer I have more baby showers than weddings. This terrifies me.
  • For the first time since moving to DC, I intend to take part in the summer tradition of spending weekends at Rehoboth Beach. Rehoboth is like the Hamptons only less glamorous and more gay (there's a reason they call it "Rehomo"). Still, I'd much rather fight the gays for a slice of sand than queue up and throw elbows with them outside the ghetto public pool in Foggy Bottom in order to get a lounge chair.
Summer? Is going to be fun.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Year, but Some Things Stay the Same

It’s been well documented, on this blog and others, that God hates me. However, every once in a while He throws me a bone and I’m reminded that life is good. Like last night, when after two weeks of agonizing separation I burst through my apartment door into the open arms of my favorite man on earth: Brian. Brian is my totally platonic roommate and the only man I’ve ever wanted to share living space with. Though he has failed me in many ways (most notably by the lack of hot, Georgetown MBAs he insisted he would bring home for me when I interviewed him), there is no one I can count on more to lighten my mood (or ply me with good wine, or tell me to get my fat ass off the couch and go to the gym…), and for that I’m thankful he’s the one I come home to every night.

The best thing about Brian is that he is one of those blessedly uncomplicated men who just says it like it is. This was, in fact, the reason I selected him to be my roommate. My last roommate, who was eerily similar to that creepy chick in So I Married an Axe Murder, confirmed my suspicion that excessive estrogen does not a happy home make. Passive-aggressive conversations about chores and psychotic episodes over milk are way too dramatic for me. So when I began interviewing for her replacement, my script was simple:

Me: If I say, ‘Dude, this place is nasty. You need to pick up your shit.’ How do you respond?

The only acceptable answer was the one Brian gave me: “Uh, I pick up my shit.”

And he does, sometimes before I even tell him to! And he cooks for me and does the dishes and finds it charming when I leave huge bags of smelly trash by the door for him to take out. In short, he’s the best house husband $1100/month can buy. Plus he finds me entertaining, and I’m a sucker for an audience. He has enjoyed a front row seat to The Farce that is my Dating Life for the past year and a half and is a frequent voice of reason when my girly parts take over and I start overanalyzing the crap out of things.

Most recently, I’ve been desirous of his perspective on the latest in my long line of dramatic, yet impossible romances for which I’ve seemingly become the poster child and for which everyone who loves me insists I seek therapy. However, I have been deprived of his wisdom due to his prolonged holiday absence. After our tearful reunion last night, we cracked open a bottle of red and got down to the business of catching up. When he learned that I’d begun the extrication process from the aforementioned dramatic relationship, we launched into a deep and thought-provoking discussion of relationships, during which Brian offered the following pearl of wisdom: “I mean after a few years with someone I feel like we should either get married or break up so I can start banging other women.”

And that’s when I threw my wine glass at his face. But still, it was nice to laugh.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Stalker Chronicles, Part III

So last week I mentioned my reunion with Frenchie, a rather Groundhog Day-like experience in that it was a repeat of the exact circumstances in which we met, which he apparently does not remember. To add to this bizarre turn of events is the following text message exchange I had today with my co-worker:

Her: Do you remember one time we were walking somewhere and a random French guy started talking to you?
Me: I have a French stalker, but not sure it's the same person. Why?
Her: Someone just started texting me named [intentionally omitted]? Claiming we met in Dupont. He described me as "sweet" and "nice". Doesn't sound like me. [Editor's note: she is indeed neither sweet, nor nice, and is in fact a self-described Big Angry Black Woman.]
Me: OMG! That is him!!!! How does he have your number???
Her: I. Don't. Know.
Me: Wait. Remember when I made you call that random number for me? What's the number??
Her: 202-257-2340 [Intentionally included--take that Stalker!]. That must be how he got it. What an odd ball.
Me: That's him!!! What a psycho!!
Her: He asked me to meet him for coffee in Adams Morgan.

So apparently the freak who can't remember me also can't keep my phone number straight. Which is why he deserves the Ultimate Stalker Retribution: a rendez-vous with the Big Angry Black Woman when he's expecting me instead.