Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I know...

...not much going on here.

I apologize. The real world of work is filling my days and nights right now. I was in the office all weekend, and I will be here pretty late for the coming days. A lot of projects, a lot of paperwork, a lot of stress, but the mission is what's important.

I love the organization for which I work. Right now, I'm just a little overwhelmed with the sheer volume of paper I'm churning out. Tonight, I left for home at 11:45 p.m. Oof. Funny thing is, I ran into three other people leaving work at the same time. So much for the laid back vibe of summer, eh?

I promise I'll be back here with something more substantial as soon as possible. Right now, it's just work/sleep/work.

I do have this handy hint for tourists, though, based upon something I heard at the corner of M & 16th yesterday evening: No. The World Bank cannot cash your traveler's cheques. Sorry.

Still kinda smiling about that one.

Cheers from the overextended zone,

Merujo

Friday, July 27, 2007

What would you want to hear?

So, I'm working on radio commentaries right now. The show for which I write these pieces is focused on the DC area. Keeping in mind this is a family-friendly NPR show, what would *you* like to hear me ramble about in connection to life in the fabulous DC area?

I have written a piece this week about the funky squirrel attack.

But what next?

I'm having a creative crisis, so lemme know what intrigues you.

Thanks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Awake

Well, I wasn't planning on posting, but I'm wide awake at 1:30 in the morning. I was hit with sudden, stunningly bad back pain this afternoon, almost out of the blue. In recent days, my back has been cooperating with me, which has been fantastic. I know some of my friends out here have experienced wretched back problems, too, and they know how blissful it is when the pain stops.

That's the way it's been for me for a handful of days. But the pain has been creeping back. Tonight, it traveled back down through my hip to my knee again, just like the first days after I messed it up. I found I was comfortable in my car, so I didn't go straight home after work. I stopped at Wendy's for my high class, high fiber buck-ninety-nine chili dinner. Yeah, it's the good life, ladies and gents. Fine dining each and every day!

Stopping at Wendy's was a big mistake. You see, sitting in the parking lot - the same one where I saw people making the beast with two backs relatively recently - I was attacked by a squirrel.

Yeah, I'm not shitting you.

I was attacked by a freaking squirrel. One minute, I'm reading about the Simpsons movie in my new issue of EW, enjoying a spoonful of beefy, beany flavor, and BAM - muthafuckin' squirrel launches itself from the pavement, up and through the window onto my chest. I'm screaming like a little girl, chili is flying all over creation, and the bastard is clinging onto my shirt. I had to pull my shirt up almost completely off me to get the squirrel back outside. I'm screaming and slamming my shirt against the car. Finally, Rocket J. Freaking Nutjob Squirrel hits the pavement. He tried repeatedly to get back inside.

Apparently, he's got a thing for Wendy's chili.

Or Coke Zero.

My hands were shaking like leaves. I'm trying to pull my shirt back on (very attractive in a parking lot - of course this parking lot has seen a lot of that before, I think) and get the key turned to roll the auto windows back up, and this flipping freak of nature is chattering and shrieking and working his best to get back inside. I finally had to wing my drink at him to get him to back off.

Funny thing is, I've been working on a radio piece about the local wildlife.

I called the Sasquatch as I shakily drove home to de-chili-fy myself (and my car.) "Hey, I think I have an ending to that radio piece."

Heh.

Okay, my back is a little less painful now. I'm gonna try to get some more sleep. I don't want to be a total toad at work in the morning.

More coherent blogging in a few days, folks. I promise.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Glad to know...

...rehab worked out so well.


The words "sad and pathetic" come to mind. Her parents failed her. Robert Downey, Jr. comes to mind so quickly...

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Quick Note from the Overwhelmed Zone

Hi kids,

I've got a ton of stuff on my plate for the next few days. I have 10 different reports to generate at work in the next four days, a couple of radio pieces half finished, a virtual baby shower to pack up and ship, and mice in my kitchen again (I'm once again the queen of poison and peppermint spray.)

Working 7-7 for the next few days, so blogging will take a back seat until I can get my head back up for some air.

Back as soon as possible. Just need some time to focus.

BTW, folks in Cali - if you're going to Comic-Con in San Diego this week, be sure to swing by the Viper booth and say hi to Javi!!

Later, guys!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pants Suit

I swear, if I had any spare cash, I would definitely give some to this cause. Big time.

I'd say that Roy Pearson should be ashamed of himself, but he'd probably sue me. So, I'll just leave you with these images to ponder instead. Enjoy.

Figure 1. Weasel

Figure 2. Jackass

Figure 3. Tool

Friday, July 13, 2007

If only he could have convinced the DC City Council to get him a shark with a frickin' laser beam on its head!

Who knew? Former DC mayor Anthony Williams has a mini-me!



Of course, He Pingping (the world's shortest tuxedo model, apparently) isn't actually chillin' with Tony in that first photo. Instead, he's with Bao Xishun, the world's tallest dude, somewhere in Mongolia.

But in case the former mayor decides to embark on an evil plan to hold the planet hostage for one million dollars, it's good to know he has a matching mini minion in Mongolia. (Say that five times fast, kids. I dare ya!)


Now, I guess Tony just needs his own Mr. Bigglesworth as a mascot, and he's set.

One million dollars. A tidy sum, indeed, Mr. Barrysworth...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Adventures in Urban Cinema (a continuing series)

Some of my colleagues are off at the Loews in Georgetown, catching a first-day showing of the latest Harry Potter film. I'll go check it out after the 20th, when I get paid next. The cupboards be pretty bare until then, kids.

I tried - unsuccessfully - today to share with my coworkers the story of the last time I went to see a Harry Potter movie at this particular upscale multiplex. For some odd reason, none of them wanted to hear my horror story! It is a fairly grotesque tale, and I think these ladies will be glad to read this epic here tomorrow, the day after their Georgetown jaunt.

Generally, I'm not really wild about the urban movie experience. But sometimes, when you're downtown and you get an undeniable hankering to see a flick, what can you do?

I had nearly forgotten about my urban Harry Potter nightmare until today - must be selective memory trying to save me the shuddering recollection. I think it must have been two films back, shortly after Loews opened their K Street location. I had an afternoon off work, and I decided it would be nice to catch a twilight show, right before the prices went up. The theater was nearly empty, and I swear it still had the movie theater equivalent of "new car smell."

I was actually reluctant to give Loews any money after my last experience at the Uptown, wherein a rat decided to enjoy my popcorn while another hovered at my feet. That was five minutes into a weekday matinee of "Return of the King" and found me screaming "RAT! RAAAAT!" as I bolted for the lobby. The concession employees didn't care, and the woman who was, I assume, a manager took her own sweet time coming down to talk to me. She, too, was unimpressed with my rat-tastic tale.

It took a great deal of effort to get a refund on my ticket and my rat-nibbled popcorn. A phone call to Loews' corporate office in New York got me an unsatisfactory non-apology from some schmuck who told me that rats were just a part of urban life and that the best restaurants in DC probably had rats in their kitchens. Nice.

End results:

1)I called the DC Health Department, they quickly inspected and - get this - actually called me back to affirm signs of rodents on the premises and told me the Uptown had two weeks to fix the situation. Wow! (FYI, my complaint is on record - name, date, the whole nine yards.)

2)The NYC schmucktard promised me two tickets to any Loews in the country for my trouble. Gee, whiz! Two tickets in exchange for a rat in my popcorn! Isn't that awesome!

3)Weeks and weeks later, the tickets still hadn't shown up. It took a couple of angry calls and e-mails to finally get those damn tickets. I wonder, if I had been a member of Congress or the press - or had a real blog back then - would the response have been different?

I've never been back to the Uptown. Sure, I miss that big ol' screen, but I really can't take a chance at having my ankles nibbled just because I like the size of the image. In the end, I figured the Georgetown location was new and clean and likely had no vermin.

Holy crap, was I ever wrong! The only thing is, the vermin in this theater walked on two legs.

Now, none of what I'm going to describe for you could even be remotely blamed on management at the theater. Part of it definitely can be blamed on one worker, and the other part? Dear god, it's just a matter of people with no class whatsoever.

Let's set the stage: I limp on in to the theater and find a nice seat in Row Six or Seven. (I once briefly dated a weird guy who would only sit in Rows Five through Seven because he was certain it was the only place with decent sound. I guess this stuck with me. Go figure.) A handful of other kid-movie-lovin' adults were scattered in the second tier behind me. Ahhh, heaven! A peaceful theater!

Then, shortly before the previews started, the front exit door to the left of the screen opened, and a theater employee looked around carefully. He opened the door wider and ushered in two homeless men. The stench they gave off wafted back and silently I begged, "Pleaseohpleaseohplease, do not let them sit near me!"

Was I mean to think that? Perhaps. But no one wants to endure two hours of odorama, unless it's a John Waters film, and you've specifically paid for that.

Of course, they sat down immediately in front of me. One of them had a two-liter Country Time lemonade bottle completely filled with what smelled like cheap malt liquor. Lovely.

Ah - I remember which movie it was now! "The Prisoner of Azkaban!" Why do I suddenly remember this? Because, when a character yelled, "Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban Prison!" one of the homeless guy yelled back, "Sirius Black? Sirius BLACK? Why ain't it 'Sirius White', muthafucka?!?" (That actually was the sole funny highlight of the whole event.)

A few minutes into the film, two women entered the theater. They were large ladies - just about my size - one wore a mini skirt and a glittery t-shirt about 8 sizes too small and the other, dressed in an oversized pair of "Come On Eileen" overalls, was having an animated, LOUD obscenity-laced conversation on her cell phone. Audience attempts to quiet her only got hissed obscenity in return from the cellular latecomer.

I tried to ignore it. Really. And for me, to ignore someone on a cell phone in a theater is quite a feat of control.

But then, something happened.

The other woman started to moan. And moan. Aaaand moan. And breathlessly say things like, "Oh yeah, baby. Fuck yeah! Unh-huh, you know that's how I like it!" While Harry and his schoolfriends battled the forces of darkness on screen, someone else was fighting with a primal force within. I turned around and saw something I hope to never see again: the overall'ed woman demonstrating her multitasking abilities. She still yammered away on the cell phone, clutched in her right hand, but her left hand was snaked into the wide open crotch of the other woman, who was now writhing in ecstasy in her seat, her panties on the floor, hanging around one tensed ankle.

Whoaaaakay, kids! Enough!

That was it. I was up and out of my seat and headed for the lobby. I looked for a manager (that is, anyone in a jacket) and told the first guy I saw about both the employee who had brought in the stinky drinky duo and the lesbian hand puppet show in the first row of the second tier.

He didn't believe me. "That would never happen in this theater, madame!" He would not come with me. Fuming, I returned to the theater, where the cell phone magician was still performing her talking while engaging in press-the-digit-in-the-indentation act. (Yeah, that was a long way to go for a "prestidigitation" joke. So, sue me.) I went right back out and made the irritated manager come in with me. Within seconds, the live sex show was canceled, much to the anger of the participants. But the smelly guys remained.

When I got back to my seat, my popcorn was gone. My seatmates were chowing down on it. One turned back to me, shaking my near-empty popcorn bag and said, "Oh hey, baby - you want this back?"

I declined.

And I moved to a different row.

When the movie ended and the lights came up, the dynamic duo had finished off not only my popcorn, but their whole two-liter bottle of booze. They strolled up to the seats abruptly vacated by the lesbian couple and - god help me - sniffed the chairs. One guy started yelling, "HEY! Do y'all smell lesbians? Cuz I smell lesbians! Whoooo! Everyone should love lesbians, y'all!"

Well, hey, for the record, I'm all for loving lesbians, for sure. I'm a very pro-GLBT straight girl, after all. I'm just not for lesbians loving lesbians - or anyone, uh, loving anyone, for that matter - in movie theaters. At least, for Pete's sake, not in the first row next to the big aisle, and not with the loud moaning. Jeeeez.

Yes, my friends, there is nothing like the innocence of a children's movie matinee.

When I left the theater, the angry lesbians were sitting in the park across the street. They saw me and were pissed off. Really pissed off. I made it to the parking garage really fast and just sat in my car for a while, pondering how surreal the whole afternoon had been.

Turning onto Wisconsin and heading home, I almost hit Al Sharpton, resplendent in flowing grey silk, jaywalking in front of me.

"Now," I thought to myself, "this is officially the most fucked-up, surreal day ever."

I went home and related this story to a friend out in L.A. She reworked the Loews jingle they used to play before the movies started: "Thank you for coming to Loews/Sit back and relax/Enjoy the sex show!"

And so it shall forever be in my mind.

So, take this as a cautionary tale, my friends. If you put your bag of popcorn in the seat next to you in your local DC cinema, just remember: you have no idea what or who was there before you set down that salty bag of carbs. Maybe a rat... maybe a horny chick with a cell phone...

I really don't think there's any five-second rule that applies in this case. Just sayin'...

Quick - where's my Purell?!?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

When the going gets tough...

...the tough go to the Kwik-E-Mart!

Had my lousy court date today. My attorney was late, which was very uncool. The experience was not pleasant, but at least it's over.

When I left the hearing, I realized I was about 2 miles from one of the 12 North American Kwik-E-Mart locations. So, to cheer myself up, I drove over to check out the Simpsons facade. It's cute - and in a pretty run-down area. I hope it brings some cheer to the folks who live around this location.

Marge sizes up a fellow shopper...

Digging in my pocket, I realized I didn't even have enough cash in my pocket for a newspaper and a Squishee. So after snapping this photo, I got back into my burn-your-fingers-on-the-steering-wheel crapmobile and hit the road for home.

I powered napped a bit and watched a little "Dead Like Me" on SciFi until some moron starting calling my cell phone over and over again. I finally snapped and yelled at them. I was very unpleasant. Very, very unpleasant. I suggested to the caller that I would be happy to share their number with some law enforcement agencies. Aaaand, the calls have stopped.

Ahhhh.

Today's been surreal. I look forward to a less surreal day tomorrow.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Who are you?

Someone based in the Twin Cities found my blog via the Macalester College alumni websites page and then did searches within my site for London/Fiona/Amanda/Doog/Margaret.

Fiona, Amanda, Doog (Dougal) and Margaret were my friends (and hall mates - Margaret was my roommate, as a matter of fact) at the London School of Economics back in the 80s. There just aren't many people who would be able to put me together with those specific names.

So, who are you, searcher person?!? Dude, you're freaking me out. Leave a comment, eh? Doog is the only one of that group of friends who is still in touch with me. (Actually, you can meet my friend Dougal here - he's the third playable link under the "Squeeze Machine" header on this page - he's pretty damn smart.)

I'll be wondering about this all day now...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Crash

My computer crashed Thursday night. It wouldn't start in safe mode, normal mode, last working configuration. Nada.

Crash.

After a couple of hours on the phone Friday with Gateway support, my computer is back up, but as a blank shell. (I would like to thank the reboot for the three free months of Norton it generated, as my actual subscription ran out last week.) Thank you, jeeezus, my writing is backed up (let's here it for wee little thumb drives and Google Documents, amen, amen!) I've lost a few purchases I made on iTunes and not yet backed up (and some $22 software will allow me to put everything that's on my iPod back on my computer), so that's not a major loss.

But there is one thing I'd forgotten.

My photos.

Fuck.

Not being a very good photographer, I hadn't really thought much about them. But now, they're all gone, except for a handful that I've put up on my blog here and there.

All gone now, and it's my fault.

It's a mistake I won't make again, for sure, but still...

Funny thing is, I'm not as upset about any of this as I would have been before all the rest of the crud that's fallen on my head happened. Now, it's an "Awww, crap! Eh... who wants coffee?" sort of thing. I'll get over it. I'll take new photos.

Things are relative these days. I'm sort of operating on a "one day at a time" system for the time being. Anyone who's had bad back problems will tell you, the pain can be so intense, you can't function very well, and it can depress the hell out of you. I woke up yesterday, feeling crippled beyond belief, and walked into the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and didn't like a damn thing I saw. Tired, haggard, fat, lonely, broke... I hated what reflected back, both outwardly and inwardly. I know part of that was the back pain generating more than its share of my self-impression.

But a lot of it wasn't.

I've been through a lot of crap in the past few years, for sure. Family deaths, Job X, blind eye, bankruptcy...

"So, how's the decade been for you, Merujo?"

"Oh, bloody freaking marvelous, thanks!"

But is life supposed to just be about surviving? That doesn't seem to be enough of a good reason, to me. Survival, with just tiny moments of happiness dotting the horizon - it just really doesn't seem to be enough.

What I would give to go back to the Florida Keys for a week or so, like I did back in 2001. No money worries. No health worries. Just me, some Hemingway, and the fish and the lizards and the six-toed cats and coastal storms echoing out over the ocean, with nothing to stop the rolling thunder and the unearthly lightning.

I dunno. Right now, I feel like a dried-out husk of the person I was a few years ago, and I'd very much like to be her again.

Maybe I'll feel better when my back stops hurting. Maybe I'll feel slightly less oppressed after my bankruptcy hearing this week. Maybe.

Maybe.

Maybe it's time for me to be a bit of a blank computer myself. Fill my head with some new images. New snapshots of a better life with a different mirror.

Can someone push my reset button, please?

I'm tired.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I know...

I haven't posted squat lately. Sorry. My back is absolutely killing me right now, and I've had company in town - my bro', his husband, and husband's niece & nephew, on a whirlwind trip across the United States. They've hit the road for Vegas, and I'm playing catch up with myself. I'm a hurtin' unit, but still riding high off the Morrissey concert on Monday. Even with the aching back, that was superb.

More when I can sit at the computer without weeping, gnashing my teeth, or swearing like a sailor...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Morrissey

Too tired to write much now (I know, I haven't written squat for days, sorry!) but let me simply say this for now: hot damn, Morrissey puts on one helluva great live show. Throat problems, schmoat problems - he just kicked ass!

Cold fried chicken + ice water & cherries + lawn seats at Wolf Trap (and Ben-Gay & Vicodin for the bad back) + one of yer best friends on the whole planet + a perfect summer night + Morrissey = a really fine evening.

More when I'm functioning better...

Fatwhaaaa?

Seriously? Salman Rushdie is married to the hot chick on Bravo's "Top Chef"? Get. Out. Booker prizer, cooker prize... Just not a combo that works in my head.

Man, the world is a totally surreal place. Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall.