Posts filed under ‘Quirk’

The more you know

With the help of my dad, I recently completed a move (and drive) from Washington, DC to Madison, WI. Here’s some things 1,000 miles of driving taught me:

– West Virginia: It’s a state that makes you happiest when you’re leaving it.

– Ohio: Drivers maintain a speed of 50 mph on the highway. Drivers also maintain a speed of 50 mph in parking lots.

– There are restaurants called “Beefaroo?”

– A Bob Evans restaurant salad consists of fried chicken tenders covered with barbecue sauce placed on top of lettuce.

– Watching the golf channel in the hotel workout room is boring – except when there are medieval rock show interludes. (It happened. Really, it did.)

– McDonald’s coffee is surprisingly good and rather addictive.

– Do not attempt to eat yogurt in a moving vehicle. I repeat: Do not attempt.

– Illinois has a penchant for signs with pro-gun phrases that rhyme.

August 30, 2009 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

Reaching a compromise with Julia Child

Last night, I was watching the latest episode of “The Next Food Network Star” and groaning at the obvious product placement moment when the remaining finalists were tasked with watching “Julie & Julia” and concocting an inspired three-course meal. The “inspirations” the finalists came up with were pretty cliche and failed, at least for me, to hit any solid inspirational note. Essentially, the finalists said that after watching the movie they realized they are confident to cook whatever they want in their own culinary style, and then proceeded to do what they’ve done for the judges in each previous episode.

This morning, I read an excellent piece in the latest New York Times Magazine about Julia Child and what her show really meant to American culture, American cooking and how this related to the modern-day woman.

The writer hits upon some key concepts that sadly are true for many: Cooking consists of taking pre-prepared items and heating them up, an interest in cooking really means an interest in watching other people eat, and a failure to recognize the simple joy that can come from fully preparing a meal from scratch. (more…)

July 31, 2009 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

How to combat bureaucracy in 10 emails or less

Bureaucracy. Is there anyone who likes it? Is there anyone who actually enjoys getting those carefully crafted form letters about rules, regulations, committee meetings and procedures?

Bureaucracy is, of course, everywhere, but Washington, D.C. seems to get a larger dose than most places.

Take, for example, applying for government jobs. About a year and a half ago, I applied for a job at the Dept. of Commerce as a Web editor. I finally got a notice that the department received my application for employment three months ago.

Take, for example, my utilities company. It took them 12 months to realize they hadn’t been billing me for utilities payments that my leasing company had incorrectly told me were included in my rent. When I went to the utilities company billing office to clear up the matter, they said they’d process my complaint in “about six weeks.” Clearly, nobody was in any rush to receive my money.

Take, for example, the D.C. government, which sent me a jury duty summons last July that said I had to report to jury duty the previous April. When I called them about the matter, it appeared as though this was a common occurrence.

As you can see, my method for dealing with bureaucracy was to call up the appropriate office and expect the matter to be dealt with in a reasonable, sane and efficient matter. This is where I went wrong, because if there’s anything bureaucracy is not, it’s reasonable, sane and efficient.

Today, I realized that I was going about battling bureaucracy completely wrong. The most effective and reliable way to deal with the “twits,” “talking heads” and “form letter writers” of the world is to convince them you’re so crazy you’re not worth their time. Don’t believe me? Read this latest entry from “Emails From Crazy People” on a property management company’s “No Pets Clause” and you’ll understand what I mean.

In a word? Brilliant.

July 30, 2009 at 7:29 pm 1 comment

Change

A lot has happened since I last blogged … and that’s a good thing!

While home on vacation, I did some soul-searching and realized I was on the wrong career path. Yes, I enjoy writing. Yes, I enjoy advocacy. But – and it’s a big “but” – I’d be a lot happier doing something else.

So, I have applied an been accepted into the rehabilitation psychology program at UW-Madison, my undergraduate alma mater. In a nutshell, rehabilitation psychology professionals work with those who have become disabled as the result of physical injury or brain trauma, as well as those who are recovering from addiction or depression, and helps these people reintegrate back into society to live meaningful lives.

This isn’t as crazy a decision as it may seem. I probably should have realized during my senior year as an undergraduate that communications/PR just wasn’t for me. But I didn’t want to admit to myself that all the work I had done up to that point to move to Washington, D.C. and get a job was off-track. I also had not been in the work world and experienced the competitiveness and harshness that exists in D.C.

My job at Public Citizen had some rewards, but the frustrations outweighed the rewards in droves. Bureaucracy, difficult personalities, rejection of online best practices. I dealt with – and fought against – these things every day. Perhaps these problems wouldn’t have seemed so bad had I felt like I was really helping people. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t so sure I was accomplishing that, either. I sat in a cubicle every day, sent out emails asking unknown email addresses to take action on specific issues and created Web pages with the same goal. When I honestly, truly thought about what I was doing on a day-to-day basis, I realized I could be doing so much more to help others, face-to-face, and had the opportunity to change my career while I was still young – and not averse to being a poor student for awhile.

The decision to completely switch gears was scary at first, but every day I feel stronger that I made the right decision.

I won’t be returning to Madison, Wisconsin for good. I plan on moving to wherever my boyfriend is located by the time I graduate (back off, feminists, he’ll be taking input from me on location choices!). But I’d be lying if I said I’m not excited to have a few more months in my hometown with my parents and dog before re-embarking.

So here I am. Twenty-four years old and entering a four-semester program to earn my master’s degree and certification in rehabilitation counseling. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Stay tuned.

July 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm 1 comment

My first foray into Dramamine = disappointing

I used to be a nerve-free flyer.

I should still be a nerve-free flyer.

Over the past year, I have become a nervous flyer. Not quite a nervous wreck, mind you, but I definitely don’t “sit back and enjoy the flight” as instructed.

I’ve come to several explanations as to why this has occurred. First, my father, now retired, was an airline captain and a fighter pilot in the Air Force before that. Granted, this exposed me to much information about the scientific and technical aspects of flying. However, it also exposed me to “that was a close one” stories and “boy was my co-pilot inept” stories. If my father was in the captain’s seat every time I flew, I’d feel much better. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option.

My other explanation is turbulence. Last summer, while flying into Madison from Chicago with my boyfriend, we took off and flew into some turbulence caused by a nearby thunderstorm. This wasn’t just slight bumps. This was drastic altitude fluctuations + boyfriend hitting his head on the ceiling + me white-knuckling my seat turbulence. Ever since then, any slight bump during a flight gets my stomach churning.

I’ve given up trying to find a solution to my paranoia. None of this “imagine you’re floating on a sea of clouds” and “it’s just a bumpy day on the ocean of air” crap. (And yes, you can find these suggestions via Google if you’re interested.) I’m going to be a nervous flyer, and that’s that.

Therefore, my next logical step to get me through necessary flights has to be drugs. (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit here, and when I say “drugs,” I really mean over-the-counter drug store tablets that are supposed to induce drowsiness.) (more…)

July 11, 2009 at 2:24 am Leave a comment

A long overdue update on the Real World DC house

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about the Real World DC house developments which, as I’ve lamented in previous posts, is painfully close to my apartment in Dupont Circle. A few things of note:

  • The show’s … what do I call them? contestants? victims? … have a hot tub right below sidewalk level. Keep in mind that near this corner is 1) a DC public charter school 2) a Safeway convenience store and 3) a hangout for well-meaning yet often outspoken members of DC’s homeless community. Luckily for us neighborhood residents, the hot tub has a privacy screen.
  • The house has a security guard. I was walking to the convenience store after dark one evening and noticed him attempting to quell several heckling gawkers. It seemed to me that he was sympathetic to the gawkers’ opinions.
  • There are currently chains on the entrance gate. Word is still out on whether this is to keep onlookers out or the Real World victims (yes, I’ve now chosen a word to identify them by) in.
  • The house glows at night. I’m serious. Let me explain. The windows have a special coating over them that gives them a dark appearance and presumably prevents people like me from seeing what’s going on inside. However, when film crews turn studio lights on in the house, it creates a disturbing glowing effect. It’s very “Doctor Who,” except without the awesomeness of David Tennant or a Dalek.

So there you have it. More updates on the pointless, soulless business that is reality TV. You may now return to your regularly scheduled, likely more important, Internet activities.

June 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

“The Real World” is taking over my world

Photo courtesy DCist. See that white brick building on the left? My apartment building is behind it - way too close to MTV.

The location of MTV's "The Real World" in D.C., which is way too close to my apartment. (photo courtesy DCist)

Most DC residents have already figured out the location for the filming of MTV’s “The Real World.” It just happens to be a two-minute walk from my apartment.

The reality – pardon the pun – of this situation didn’t fully sink in until I was going for a long walk/run one morning. I began to think about all the places I frequented near the future MTV landmark: the Safeway convenience store, the CVS, the yummy Asian fusion restaurant a few blocks away (Banana Leaves, for those who live here) … Pretty soon I found myself jogging faster and faster, increasingly annoyed at the prospect of having wanna-be MTV stars living in my neighborhood. (Although not immune from the tourists, one of the reasons I chose to live in Dupont was because of its eclectic community, the opportunity to shop local and support non-chains, and experience part of the “real” DC.)

On the other hand, giving this situation more thought, I decided it also provides a great opportunity for blogging. Real-time blogging of the reality TV show, if you will.

Thus, my exploitation of MTV (through words written in a private blog) begins now. *Fanfare*

So far, the only activity at the house is construction. Shoddy construction. All the windows have brown paper over them to prevent curious persons such as myself from seeing in. However, during the daytime most of the doors are open, providing a well-lit view of the house’s inside. All I have to say about the interior is: Drywall. White drywall. And lots of it.

I’ve never actually watched an episode of “The Real World,” only hearing about the show’s premise third-hand. But for some reason, I always thought the houses these “contestants” lived in were a lot classier – sturdy construction, maybe something other than a white built-in wall for decor, things like that. Right now, MTV’s renovators are making the house look like the spitting image of a frat house. Very fitting, don’t you think?

I’m hoping that my neighbors won’t be too intrusive, or that at least my 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. job means I’ll be operating on different sleeping patterns from their 9 p.m. – 6 a.m. drinking duties.

I’ll just have to wait and see.

June 11, 2009 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

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