Friday, December 31, 2010


I know that people usually end the year with a "Whew, so happy that's over," or a "God, I hope next year sucks a lot less," but I gotta say, I'm going to miss you, 2010.

If I think about where I was at this time a year ago (pining over a selfish ex who was so not worth the emotion, panicking about my upcoming Capstone, booking a train ticket to Boston to visit a friend because I was lonely and miserable, watching my bank account dwindle from said ticket, hating my job), compared to where I am now, 2010 has carried me a long way. My university let me graduate, wonder of wonders, magna cum laude, even! I have my own lease on a wonderful apartment, a beautifully crazy roommate with an equally crazy cat, a steady job (actual opinions about it aside, it pays OK), a crappy GRE score behind me and a better one to come (let's hope), and a fantastic, loving, amazing boyfriend (gush gush gush) that I've managed to hang onto for almost a year. Not to mention the ever-present backdrop of family (in Arizona) and friend who keep me anchored to the ground.

In spite of the amount of bitching I do, life is good. Blessed, even. I have no clue what next year is going to blow in my direction, but I look forward to finding out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

With apologies to any singers, violinists, or fundamentalist Christians (though not really to you) out there

Warning: I am guilty of BUI (blogging under the influence) here, and I'm sure that if anyone actually bothers to read this, they will either be extraordinarily pissed off or think I am a blathering moron. Or both.

When I was in middle school (Hail, Tamanend, with your flag of blue and gold), music basically ate up my life. I had been playing piano since the age of 8, so by the time I was in 7th grade, I basically thought I was a prodigy (NB: I was not) based on the way people (read: everyone who was new to this stuff) treated me. We had two big Christmas concerts each year, and by the time 9th grade rolled around, I was in every single act on stage (except for 8th grade band), and I spent those evenings running back and forth from the bleachers to the stage to the piano--I believe my parents deemed one concert "The *insert my name here* Show."

Which wasn't true, of course, but it may have had something to do with why many of my peers hated me. Or it could have something to do with the fact that I was a stuck-up prig with a stick up her ass who was delusional about her own talent. But whatever. When you play the piano, the violin, eventually the viola, and you have a deep, manly, on-pitch voice that can carry the entire 8th grade alto section, public school music teachers are going to capture you, use you, and eventually suck the life blood out of you. That's just how it goes.

So when high school came, I didn't know what else to do with myself. I joined the choir, I bellowed in the alto section, and I accompanied on piano. Mr. T, my first choir teacher, was wise enough to not let me into the select ensembles, but when I switched schools, Cynthia, hellfire demon though she turned out to be, did let me in. Eventually, I was accompanying the choir on piano, I was the Alto II section leader, and I became the choir president. My best friends were all in choir, I was in District Choir, I was in Regional Choir (2 spots away from All-State!), my boyfriend was the lead Tenor I...I basically lived and breathed singing.

And when you've been so absolutely marinated in choir Kool-Aid for 5 years of your life, it's a rude awakening when you realize something...that you fucking. hate. choir. It's occurred to me that the only teachers I have ever truly disliked were my choir teachers--Lisbeth and Cynthia, to not use last names. I shared a mutual loathing with both of them by the time I graduated from my respective middle school and high school, and to this day, I have not forgiven either one of them for what they did to me or to my peers (though, at the age of 22, I should probably let it go).

So...I ask myself why...why is it, that when I attend a Christmas concert with the Washington Choral Society, I delight in hopping up for the singalong songs, I tap my feet, I sway back and forth, I love the whole atmosphere, and I love to sing?

I have come to two conclusions. 1) Choirs are fraught...FRAUGHT...with massive egos. The director, yes, that's a given, but also the singers. Especially the soprano section. Music is produced by people, and people (read: musicians) like to think that they're awesome and important, and for some reason, singers (read: sopranos) are the absolute worst of the lot. This is not as much of a problem with other groups. The orchestras I've joined have always been much calmer and less cutthroat--though, as a member of the viola section, I guess that's only fitting. Violins can be pretty awful, too. It's just something about singers. They (read: SOPRANOS) like to compete and out-wail one another, and it's just really annoying. The road to good music is not paved with egos.

2) To me, organized singing is much like organized religion. Just because you like to sing doesn't mean you need to join a choir. Just because you love God doesn't mean you need to join a church. Both environments tend to devolve into pissing contests where youeither sing better/love God more than the next person. And you're going to sing/shout Hallelujahs to prove it, dammit. Interesting parallel, actually, as I'm rather embittered towards the folks at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsville, PA (did that show up on Google? Should I type it again?) for many of the same reasons that I'm embittered towards choir. (Not all Christian churches fall under this criticism. Just the ones who peddle a "loving" Jesus but think that homosexuality is abnormal and actively try to suppress it within themselves and other people, who think people who have sex before marriage are evil and who believe that non-Christians are going to Hell and who go on missions trips to convert the heathens, however passive aggressive they might be about any of these things).

So. That all being said....I thought about auditioning for the choral society. Frankly, though, I don't think I can handle it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Civil War statues tours if I could write them my way:

Although most historical records suggest that Meade was, in fact, a bit of a priggish asshat, he did win the Battle of Gettysburg. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, forever laboring under the delusion that it is more awesome than it really is, decided that DC needed a big, stupid statue of Meade. So they handed over money that could have been spent feeding the poor to hire someone to carve a statue. But nothing happened for 12 years because the people running our country are also priggish asshats who don't like to actually do anything.

Eventually they hired someone, who carved a big stupid statue of Meade. Flanking Meade are lots of statues reflecting arbitrary qualities he probably didn't have. Behind Meade is a statue of War with an indescribably huge and phallic sword. It seems that the sculptor was suggesting that Meade's skill in battle was really just compensation for something else. The statue has been moved three times because it is big and stupid.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pitch black and sunrises

I'm blogging at 7:20 AM, against the backdrop of a glorious sunrise...which is wonderful and everything, but really, I would have preferred not to have seen it. The sunrise is one of those things that, unless you have intentions of watching it, is not terribly welcoming. It's more like having a rather irritating bluebird chirping in your ear. But, another night of coughing, another night of (4 hours of) sleeping on the couch, a colorful, bright morning sun to greet me against my will. There's irony in that somewhere.

A friend and I drove out to Great Falls last night, and we promptly learned our lesson about trying to hike through the woods at night with no moonlight or flashlight. We didn't get very far, as a terrifyingly large and four-legged silhouette bounded across the dusky lamplight of a nearby field and scared the bejesus out of both of us (deer can be surprisingly scary when you don't know what they are). We heard its footsteps scurry into the wood next to us, and wondering whatever could cause a creature to run on a calm, peaceful November evening caused both of us to jump back in the car. Then I reminded her that the Blair Witch Project had been filmed nearby. Mistake.

So our little city-slicker pansy asses hurried their way back into the city. So much for adventure. It was nice to see all those stars, though. Seven miles out of DC, and it's a completely different world.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Joy, thy name is Autumn

After a two-week bout of bronchitis (that's still not entirely dead, but we're ignoring the resilient coughing and exhaustion for now), I hopped back on my bike and decided to go photo-hunting. The trees are beautiful, after all, and the weather was gorgeous today--a bit warm, a bit chilly, sunny, and bright. Perfect for snapping pictures.

I would like to add, my camera is five years old and breathing its last few, ragged breaths, but it's a trusty Kodak Easy Share that still manages to take crisp pictures with its 6.1 megapixels.

Miraculously, there were still roses blooming in the Bishop's Garden at the Cathedral, so I snapped a few shots of those. The photos are a bit schmoopy and girly, yes, but I thought they turned out nicely.

As I was photographing the last one, there was a mom/daughter (or teacher/pupil, I couldn't tell which) pair sitting on a bench behind me. The mom/teacher was explaining to the daughter/pupil how the beauty in flowers and gardens is a way of seeing God's work "because God made them." She talked about spending time with friends and family, and how God works in those times, too. I found it kind of funny that they were having this conversation outside of a giant stone cathedral. Not to write off thousands and thousands of years of phenomenal architecture for which men devoted and gave up their very lives...but while I guess gigantic churches are a traditional way of expressing devotion to God, it's one that I've never quite understood. The little faith that I have in whatever deity is out there, I have never felt in stone or in glass or in man-made structures. Which is why I set the focus like I did.

Anyway, it was a very sweet conversation that ended with the little girl saying, "I only wonder one thing....what do those white roses taste like? They just smell so good, that I can only imagine they taste better."

And to round out the afternoon, I'm baking another batch of chocolate chip pumpkin cookies...or muffkies. Muffin cookies! Kind of soft and chewy. They're pretty delicious.

All in all, a lovely autumn day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Finally, finally, finally. I couldn't take another day of 90+ degree heat (you call that September, DC???) or one more obnoxious tourist...and I was so very close to packing up my shit and moving to Canada when, bam! Fall came!

It's amazing how a cool down in the weather brings a cooling of my temper as well. I'm significantly less likely to want to bite customers' heads off when it's nice outside, and it's as if I have returned to the days when I loved my job. Though someone did tell me the other day that I'm surly enough to make a good bike mechanic...

Anyway. There's a pumpkin pie sitting in the oven right now--possibly the homeliest that's ever been made, but I'm hoping it turns out OK. Funny thing is, I don't actually like most pumpkin pies...only my grandmother's. Turns out she just uses the recipe on the cans of Libby's pumpkin, plus 1 tsp. cinnamon. So I have tried to replicate hers.

Pumpkin pie in October, you ask? Why see, I'm going home with the boyfriend for Thanksgiving. Apparently his mother does not believe in "real" Thanksgiving foods, and the list of foods that get axed from her meal include--1) mashed potatoes, 2) cranberry sauce, 3) sweet potatoes, and 4) pumpkin pie. No, no...she does turkey, boiled canned vegetables and rice instead. I had to simultaneously hold in tears and my gag reflex when I heard this.

So, he and some friends and his sister and I are doing a pre-Thanksgiving (slash Canadian Thanksgiving, if you ask me) feast. With real food.

For the record, this is proof that I really love him. There's not many people that I'm willing to sacrifice mashed potatoes for. Especially when they're my mom's, because hers are unbelievably good. But hey, there's always Christmas.

That all being said, it's going to be 80 degrees and sunny today...but I will be blasting the air conditioning and huffing pumpkin pie spice in order to convince myself that it's really autumn.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Etiquette Tips for Tourists

1) If you see someone interesting (i.e. an Indian woman in a sari), don't snap his or her picture (at least not so that it's obvious to them), especially if you're sitting in a crowded bus. It makes things awkward for the rest of us.

2) Don't stand in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture. I can't emphasize this enough. It's obnoxious, and even though we're being polite and stopping for you, we're secretly dreaming of snatching your camera and throwing it in the nearest puddle.

3) Squirrels (and other wildlife) are great. They're cute. But please don't stalk them while trying to hand them food. They're not coming home with you.

4) Don't be rude when asking for directions. You just may end up in a part of town that's not so great for clueless folks like yourself...or we might direct you to a street that doesn't exist and leave you wandering downtown, confused as hell. (Tip: If someone directs you to J Street...don't listen to them.)

5) Accept the fact that you're a visitor. It's OK. Trying to be hip and blending in with the locals just makes you even more annoying because (I'll clue you in on a secret) WE CAN TELL you're from out of town. And that's OK, just so long as you're not being an obnoxious twatbag of a tourist.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dear Washington DC Tourists,

1) STOP BLOCKING THE SIDEWALK. Hasn't anyone ever taught you how not to walk in clumps?

2) Along the same lines, the Washington Monument is visible from virtually every single spot on the National Mall. It's really not necessary to stop and take a picture of it from the middle of the sidewalk.

3) The next time I catch a group of you blocking the turnstiles to the Metro trains while I'm trying to get through with my bike and my train is coming, I promise I will throw things at you.

4) Could you kindly not stop and ask me for a brochure right as the light is turning green and I'm about to cross Constitution Avenue with a group of 15 cyclists at rush hour? Maybe you could take a look at and call the phone number we have typed in 100-point font on the 15 wheel insert advertisements...

Dear Washington DC Locals,

1) STOP WITH THE FUCKING BIKE BELL ALREADY. Yes, the sidewalks are shared pedestrian/cycling paths, and yes, bike bells are handy things, but that doesn't mean you need to go whizzing through at 50 mph on your road bike while clanging a bell and screaming "ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!" to everyone in sight.

2) Could you at least attempt to not knock softballs right into my groups of tourists? Those things hurt, even if we are wearing helmets.

3) Stop blocking my tours. You're not that important, even though you have a suit on.

4) On that same note, stop sneering and rolling your eyes at tourists. You do realize that tourism is this city's biggest and by far most profitable industry, right?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And for this week...

On my shit list:

The family of 9 from Belleville, IL. Specifically, the one who yelled at us for switching their tour time to an evening tour when the heat index was 109 during the day. Even more specifically, the guy in the family who said "What, is the Obama administration now trying to regulate when we can take bike tours?" Who was the same guy who passed an Indian family on the mall and yelled "Welcome to America!"

It disgusts me how rude and ignorant people (especially Americans) can be sometimes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


And one more entry for the day.

I have to say, as much as I really, really, really can't stand some (many) kids, there is nothing more charming in this world than a well-mannered child. And the few that are out there are forcing me to change my primary adjective describing children as a whole from "sticky" to "kinda cute."

Last night, it was a scorching 90+ degrees, even as it got dark. One dad on the tour was pulling two of his kids along in a Burley, and it was pretty cramped quarters for them. Now, normally kids whine and cry and complain about the Burleys, especially when it's hot and getting late--and really, who can blame them? But as we were pulling up to Jefferson, I heard the two little kids (aged about 4 and 6) yelling "Go Daddy, go! Go Daddy, go!" as he maneuvered his way through the tight spaces and concrete barriers. They were cheering their dad on rather than complaining about being jostled around. My heart melted just a little bit.

It got even better when the little boy couldn't stop grinning at me at the end of the tour. He kept reminding me of his name and saying "Thanks for the bike!" And his two older brothers, aged about 10 and 12, were trying to take each other out on their bikes until I told them to cut it out. And they listened. Without complaint. It was amazing. So, to whoever this family was from Palo Alto, thanks for raising great kids.

There was another girl from another family (I think they were from LA), probably about 12, who was apologizing for her dad being on his phone "24 hours a day" because he kept calling and texting people at each stop. I asked her if he had a job that kept him on the phone a lot, and she said "Yes...but he's standing here in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, and he's texting someone!" Insightful kid. I told her to remember that for when she gets older.

You know it's too hot to give tours when...

1) You come back from a double tour shift and are so incredibly out of it that one of your managers thinks you have heatstroke.

2) You come home and take off your work uniform only to discover that you have heat rash (again) on your chest.

3) One of your bosses has suggested that guides get trained for what to do when customers pass out.

4) One guide in particular has had 3 people with heat exhaustion on his tours.

5) Your Canadian/New England customers are melting into the sidewalk.

6) The bike seats become too hot to touch after being out in the sun for 5 minutes.

7) The water that you hand out to each customer is hot enough to quickly thaw a chicken breast (or maybe to poach an egg) after being out in the sun for 5 minutes.

8) It's so humid that you have to unstick your legs from each other before getting back on the bike.

9) Tour members start to sway and get woozy after standing outside of the Lincoln Memorial for about 2 minutes (there's no shade there).

10) You see a crowd of people outside the American Indian Museum rubbing their faces and hands all over a mysterious giant block of ice on the sidewalk. They have no idea and they do not care where it came from or why it's there or who touched it last.

11) Your Clif Bars have melted. Yes, melted.

12) It's 103 degrees with 50% or more humidity and DC has issued a heat advisory....

13)...and, with humidity, it's hotter here than it is in Phoenix, Arizona.

Well, duh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How not to raise your kids

This rant is brought to you by the MOST OBNOXIOUS FAMILY EVER. I've had it up to here with people who don't know how to raise their kids.

A family of 5 from LA came on my tour last night. They seemed nice--at least, the mom, the dad, and the son seemed OK. But I swear to you, the two daughters, aged six and probably 15ish, were the most spoiled rotten individuals I have ever met in my life, and I'm pretty sure neither of them has ever received a stroke of discipline.

Exhibit A: The older one, a sullen teen who kept being short with me and refused to go in any of the memorials, dropped her sunglasses on the ground. Her mother told her to pick them up. She refused, whining "I can't walk!" Then, while rolling her eyes, the mother leans down and picks them up anyway.

Exhibit B: The younger one, aged six with demon hellfire burning behind her eyes, whined throughout the tour. "I'm hot, this is boring, how much longer do we have?" She also talked--LOUDLY--during every single stop. And in spite of her mother occasionally saying (half-heartedly) "Honey, listen to the lady," she would not shut up. At all. To boot, I asked at Vietnam if anyone had any questions. Demon child said "Yes...nothing" in what could only be described as a bitchy tone of voice with a smirk (did I mention she was SIX?) on her face.

Exhibit C: Demon child was on a trailer tandem with her father. She accidentally slipped off (this was right at the end of the tour), and she was completely fine, but she started SCREAMING. In the middle of a crowded sidewalk with pedestrians who were trying to get out of the way of the cars on Constitution Avenue. Her father stops in the middle of the sidewalk to coo over her, holding up the rest of the tour AND all of the pedestrians.

Exhibit C: Oldest girl comes back crying on the tour. "Moooomm, I told you I didn't feel well!" Her mom rolls her eyes, calls her a pain in the ass to me, but says nothing to her teenage daughter. They go get ice cream.

Interestingly, this family was Orthodox Jewish. Prayer tassels, yarmulkas, the whole kit and caboodle. The dad had to check to see if our Clif Bars were kosher (they were).'s my thinking on this. Wouldn't adhering strictly to the tenets of your faith (or any faith) involve NOT allowing your daughters to be complete pains in the ass? And to respect their elders? I guess it's silly of me to expect religious people to be nicer, but it just seems intuitive. It's disappointing when any family is that obnoxious, but especially so when they're supposed to be messengers of God...or whatever. It seems hypocritical.

And, religion or no, I will repeat: I'm really sick of having to deal with parents who clearly don't know how to raise their children. Because it makes for really, really annoying families. Having never been a mother, I'm sure I don't know how difficult it really is, but it cannot be that difficult to keep your children from growing up into heinous individuals.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

You should not come to DC if...

1) If you are under the age of 16 and are travelling in droves of pubescent middle-schoolers, you should not come to DC.

2) If you are driving a giant-ass tour bus that likes to stop in intersections and NOT stop at crosswalks, you should not come to DC.

3) You know what, if you're driving a tour bus period, I don't really want to see you in this city. I hate those fucking things.

4) If you are a chaperone/teacher who thinks it's cute to dress your children in matching highlighter yellow t-shirts, you should not come to DC.

5) If you are one of those karma-happy, I-like-to-do-yoga, everything-is-chill-and-I-do-not-rush-myself people, you REALLY should not come to DC. I understand that YOU don't care if you're on time for your bike tour, and that you want pictures of every last thing in this city and don't mind being back a half-hour late, but I, as your tour guide, would like to be home on time.

6) If you cannot be bothered to read signs on the Metro machines, you should not come to DC.

7) If you have bratty children who like to tell the tour guide that she's doing everything wrong, and if you tell those children to ride at the front of the bike tour, keep your ass at home.

BUT...if you happen to be polite, able to use public transportation (and not at rush hour), and if you have not decided somewhere along the line that it was a brilliant idea to tote a bunch of misbehaved children or lip-curling, snooty teenagers en masse to this city...welcome to Washington. We're happy to have you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


It's occurred to me over the past semester that, in a city that largely (and not always, but often) centers around self-importance, college has done a GREAT job of making you realize just how interconnected you become with the people around you. Which subsequently makes you realize how amazing the people around you are.

We recognize the worth of our peers, yet at this stage, we have a hard time writing down how awesome WE are for the sake of a cover letter...for applying to (dear god) JOBS. As Professor Chin said today (I'm probably paraphrasing), "You know, graduating from the University Honors Program is supposed to leave you with some modicum of self-confidence. Some."

Frankly, I think it's a healthy mentality. Not the lack of self-confidence--THAT needs work--but the recognition (at least in some sense) that we are part of a larger whole. My question is--when do people lose that? Is it a marker of a lack of self-confidence? Or are these people (reference the blog post below) really just THAT arrogant?

Maybe we're all just arrogant...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I know this can't be right, but...

I'm pretty convinced that everyone else learned a lesson about dealing with life pre-graduation that I missed out on. In these last few weeks, it has become increasingly clear to me that I can no longer deal with my life in a functioning manner. I used to be able to successfully over-commit myself to everything, but I can't even complete my required schoolwork anymore. Which means that I have quit everything else so that my life is so full of homework that just looking at the stack of books I have for my Capstone (senior thesis) makes me ill.

As I watch those around me successfully completing internships (and not getting fired from them), getting 3.99 GPAs, finishing their Capstones (that make far more sense than mine), and dealing with their lives in very graceful manners...I wonder where the hell I went wrong.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Look at me, I'm IMPORTANT.

Sometimes, I get really friggin' sick and tired of people in this city. There's a culture of self-importance here that comes with the wealth and the politics, and it's pretty clear that some people (not all, mind you, but enough) think they're better than you. Yes, I myself can be a total elitist snot with precious little patience towards particular groups (mostly conservative and religious assholes), but most of my annoyance is directed towards people who perceive themselves as better than everyone because they are more educated or more "important". know what? They're not. Ultimately, we are all human. Just because you hold this or that position in X or Y organization does not mean that you shit diamonds, and I wish more people would understand this.

While I was on tour the other day, some woman made some passive aggressive remark about how we, as a group of bikers, should get in the street. I hear this all the time, and she was particularly bitchy, so I politely ignored her, said "Excuse me, ma'am," while passing her, and looked back as she proceeded to get her feathers ruffled and haughtily scold every single member of the tour--who were, as they always are, politely moving in a single-file line down the sidewalk. We weren't in anyone's way and legally, we were allowed to be on that goddamn sidewalk.

I felt bad for the kids that she yelled at, but they also ignored her. It gave me a nice dose of self-righteous schadenfreude (good word, and I think it's applicable here?) to see her completely unable to stop us because we were right and she was wrong.

It's these small examples that just build up and irritate the hell out of me--like when I tried to unlock the bathroom door at a cafe downtown (with the key that customers are supposed to retrieve, as indicated by a GIANT SIGN on the door) and someone was in there. I figured that because the key was still there, no one was in the bathroom, and I hadn't seen the dude walk in. I moved to wait by the door when this old guy at a table looks at me and says, rather snottily, "You should knock before going in." Wellll, thank you, sir. Nearly 22 years' worth of common sense has apparently taught me nothing. I guess the fact that the dude in the bathroom being able to voice "Hey, I'm in here!" wasn't going to be enough to deter me from walking in there.

Sometimes I wonder...if I was a man, less blond, older, and wore stuffier clothing (like not jeans and t-shirts), would I be treated differently?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

DC's getting it right!

I have been bitching for the last 3 years or so about how the yuppie-ish outskirts of DC (think upper Red Line) need more cafes, coffee shops, and chill little places to do work. And no, Starbucks doesn't count. I don't care how many billions of customers they draw annually, their coffee is disgusting.

Imagine my joy when I was biking down Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park a couple of weeks ago and saw The Cereal Bowl nestled between a newly opening Palm Beach Tan (really?) and the giant concrete facade of the Uptown Theater. The basic idea is simple--Americans like cereal, Americans like toppings on their cereal, kids like disgusting sugary cereals that their parents won't buy them, so why not create a cereal bar where everyone can be happy? You order your cereal (or a combination)--choices range from Cap'n Crunch to Grape Nuts to Cheerios to granola--then pick up to 3 toppings. You have your choice of normal toppings like strawberries, blueberries and bananas, or you can go crazy and get marshmallows and crumbled vanilla wafers.

I convinced my boyfriend that we had to go, so being the good sport that he is, he agreed to try it out this morning. I went the boring route and got granola (which I'm pretty sure was crumbled up Nature Valley Honey and Oat granola bars) with strawberries, blueberries and almonds. He went a route and ordered the "Dirt Bowl"--Cookie Crisp with crushed Oreos, chocolate syrup and gummy worms. The mere sight of it made my blood sugar spike through the roof, but he said it was delicious. I took his word for it.

And it's not just the cold cereal. They have muffins the diameter of soccer balls, a full espresso bar (Blackberry Creme Mochas? Yes, please.) "Oaties," which are smoothies made with oats (which are delicious, though the lumpy, snot-like consistency is somewhat off-putting), hot teas, and hot cereal. They're not just open for breakfast, either. Monday through Thursday, hours are 6:30 AM through 10 PM, Fridays it's 6:30 AM to 11 PM, Saturdays 7-11 and Sundays, 7-8.

Pre-designed combos run as much as $4.29 for a small, $4.89 for a large, but the quirky charm, free WiFi and outlets, and limitless cereal combinations make it completely worth the money. It's an up-and-coming national chain, but there's only a few nation-wide, so it feels like a neighborhood institution. The staff is warm, friendly and patient, and their uniforms consist of t-shirts and plaid flannel pants. The general lack of seating leaves something to be desired, but there's a permit for a coming enclosed sidewalk cafe on the window. I have a feeling that I'll be spending lots of time here this summer, inching my way ever closer to a happy, sugar-induced coma.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hoo boy.

What sort of miserable failure do you have to be to get fired from an unpaid internship? Like, really? In the midst of the 17 million things I have to do in order to graduate, I emailed my supervisors and said "Hey, I'm only coming in once a week." (I had been coming in twice a week previously.) I thought it seemed like a fair compromise, considering that I was (and am) stressed out to the point of tears half the time, they didn't pay me, and they never gave me a whole lot to do, so I'd sit around twiddling my thumbs for a few hours at a time. I liked the job whenever they actually gave me interesting stuff to do or sent me on bike delivery errands.

Anyway, my boss emailed me back to tell me that they had decided it would be best if I just left. And they're letting me go with the promise of recommendations in the future, because they know I'm a good worker when I'm actually functional. I realize this is the best option for everyone, especially for me, but...good God. They weren't even paying me and they still let me go.

Between this and my advisor tearing apart my Capstone (in a less-than-constructive fashion that mostly comes across as really condescending) every time I meet with her, I'm beginning to doubt my ability to survive in the real world.

Which is why I'm clearly supposed to give tours for the rest of my frickin' life. That's pretty much all I can do. Hoo-freakin'-ray.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Quick letter

Dear Friend,

Despite the walls you put up, we can see right through you. You live in a bubble, you're either incapable of or scared to fall in love with anyone, and you like safety in your job, your location, and your relationships. You know what you like, and because of this, you will never explore beyond the confines of that bubble unless someone comes along, calls you out on it, and pops it, and I'm not sure that anyone has the heart to do that.

This would all be somewhat fine, if worrisome, except that you're becoming increasingly bitter, disgruntled, and self-righteous. Rather than using those brains of yours to accomplish anything, you're pissing off your friends by questioning everything they believe in. I suspect it's because you're insecure about your own standing in life. While I understand that some people take a long time to figure out what they want to accomplish in their lives, it would be nice if you could kindly refrain from taking out your frustrations on the rest of us. Frankly, you're turning into a miserable human being.

Sincerely, and only because I care,

I leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis: "There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it in tact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When in DC...

Jesus. Effing. Christ. It's become clear to me that the more people you pack into one area, the higher chance you have of running into assholes--it's a simple matter of proportions, as the world is made up of a certain percentage of assholes.

So yesterday, when 1) the Cherry Blossom Festival was still going on, 2) the White House Easter thing was happening, 3) there was the opening game for the Nats at which President Obama threw the first pitch, 4) People were working because it was a Monday and 5) Lots of tourists were there because it was Easter Monday...the city was a disaster area, and it was the worst at evening rush hour.

Which is when one of the kids on my tour decided to get a flat on his rear wheel. Which I got to change (with the help of another tour member) right in the middle of the very crowded sidewalk on the way back from the Jefferson Memorial. The kid's tire went flat again (a slow leak?) on the 20-minute ride home, and I think that pissed the mother off, because she did not tip me. Even though I spent a solid 10 minutes getting yelled at by pedestrians and bicyclists while sweating my ass off and getting my hands coated in grease. Which would have been OK had either one of them bothered to say thank you.

Then there were the pedestrians who, on the morning tour, told me that we were a "pain in the ass" and bellyached about us stopping on the sidewalk (single file--they had room to walk, and they're shared pathways by law) because a kid fell off of his bike. I had to reel in my desire to call them a bunch of self-righteous douchebags. Instead, I bordered the line between polite and snarky in telling them that 1) it was a shared sidewalk, and 2) a kid fell off of his bike, and what would they like us to do, exactly? After we passed them, one of my group members informed me that they had tried to stand in her way. She accidentally hit one with the side of her handlebars. I told her they deserved it.

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.

Also, as an aside, I would like to send a shout-out to Peter Barnes, FOX News' Senior Washington Correspondent. You now have a cherry pie, courtesy of Destination DC. Destination DC delivers like...7 gazillion cherry pies to people during the Cherry Blossom Festival. (Which I find amusing, because fruit-bearing cherry trees and the blossom-bearing cherry trees you see around DC are two different species.) I don't really know whay, but if I someday end up with a job where I have people delivering me free baked goods, I will make sure that I come down and thank them personally.

All of this cherry blossom hoopla really gets on my nerves...I hate the damn trees because they're JUST TREES, for god's sake (albeit pretty ones) and they drawn in hordes of obnoxious tourists. And there's an entire committee devoted to them and that damn festival, complete with a President, Vice President, and student "Cultural Ambassadors" who have to wear ugly and hot-looking pink blazers and do Lord only knows what during the festival. I've also seen cherry blossom flavoured soap and lotions and stuff...have you ever smelled a cherry blossom? THEY DON'T SMELL LIKE ANYTHING. Starbucks has cherry blossom donuts...but cherry blossoms don't taste like anything, either. And once again, they don't bear fruit...they're basically nature's equivalent of doilies. Pretty, but annoying, fragile and useless.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I hate academics

Good moooooorning, everyone! And by "everyone," I mean all 2 of you who read this.

You might be wondering (as I am) what the hell I'm doing up at 6:30 in the morning. Well, I'll tell you. I actually got up at 4:30 as part of my attempt to write a "first draft" (due at 7:30 this evening) of this undergrad "thesis" I have due at the beginning of May. If you can't tell how well it's going, here's a hint: I'm writing a blog entry at 6:30 AM and just procrastinated for a good 20 minutes by going through a yoga routine. I'm on my third cup of coffee. You do the math.

"Well," you might say to yourself, "why don't you just stop whining and fucking write your paper already?" Good question! I'll tell you that, too. Because some idiotic part of my brain decided it was interested in studying tourism in Cape Breton, and I'm sitting here surrounded by 21+ sources, most of which I have at least perused if not pored over. And let me tell you something. Tourism studies DO NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. I'm pretty sure a bunch of bored academics got together and went "Hey, let's confuse the hell out of people with theories that run themselves in circles, and let's write articles that decide to take POSTMODERN THEORY and apply it to TOURISTS."

What. The fuck? I'm generally fairly good at understanding fluffy, esoteric ideas that are floating around in the middle of nowhere and bear little to no significance to most people's lives. But read through enough of this stuff, and it's almost a guarantee that you will go brain-dead. The problem is, I know exactly what I want to say about tourism in Cape Breton because I think most of the people who've studied heritage tourism are disgruntled old fogies who hate everything. But trying to couch what I'm saying in terms of what's already been said (which every good aspiring academic is supposed to do) is impossible because I can't understand half of their arguments. Well, it's more like I understand them in the most abstract way possible, but trying to put them into my own words without cherry-picking quotes from every single article is proving impossible.

Why can't people just learn to write in a manner that makes sense? In a way that makes their thinking clear and accessible to everyone? There needs to be reform in academia...because, let's be honest, who's going to bother with most of this stuff? Sure, the theory can be interesting, but if you write about it in a way that's comprehensible to no one except you and your cohorts that are pretending to understand you to avoid looking bad...what's the point?

I don't mean to denounce every scholar who's every published anything. But I do mean to denounce the ivory-towered folks who cater to their own kind and dismiss the rest of the population as plebeians. You know they're out there. And apparently half of them have decided to write articles about tourism.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Once again, I find myself compelled to write about the joys that come from hopping around airports all day. Mostly because I decided to drop $8 on a Boingo session, and now I feel that I ought to use it. Well, Rachel, that was silly, you might be saying to yourself...and you're probably right. But let's face it--I have the attention span of a retarded flea and if you expect me to sit around the Chicago airport for 3 hours without Internet access, you expect far too much of me. I'm also being a bitch and using one of the handicap outlets at the outlet kiosk. I figure I'll limp away if I get yelled at by anyone.

But it was either this or go be enthralled by all of the sparkly stores and restaurants, where I wound spend lots of money I don't have on things I don't need. Like the $7 *cough* Foreign Policy magazine I got at BWI. I have an unfortunate love for that magazine, and when I've got 3 hours (yes, I show up obnoxiously early for flights due to a lifelong fear of missing stuff) to kill...I tend to buy things. Retail shops in airports remain in business because of people like me. In fact, I'm convinced that this whole "show up for your flight 2 hours early" thing is a conspiracy between TSA and retailers. Because if you're in the airport for multiple hours at a time, you're going to buy shit. Lots of shit.

Oh, did I forget to mention where I'm going? I'm flying into Halifax to go up to Cape Breton to "conduct interviews for my undergraduate thesis," as I'm telling curious people. And I'm going on a partial Honors grant. I'm pretty excited, but mostly I'm stressed out at the ridiculous amount of work this means that I have to do before I graduate. But we won't talk about that now.

What we will talk about is the jolly old time I had in security at BWI this morning. The line was really really REALLY long, and in response to people complaining, this dude in front of me started talking to me. I didn't catch all of it, but it was mostly about how he's willing to sacrifice his freedoms for the good of his country, and how it's part of being a member of a free country, and how you surrender your rights once you walk into an aiport, and how he was in law school before 9/11 and got into a big debate with the dean of the law school about this, who eventually apologized for disagreeing with him, and yadda yadda yadda...yawn.

I cut him off and asked where he went to law school. He said Texas. A Texan and a lawyer. Based on those two character traits alone, I decided that he was the most obnoxious fuckwad I'd ever met. This was confirmed when he asked me where I went to school, I responded, and he said, "Ah, American! A liberal hippie then. I had a friend at AU--she hated it there. She was a military person, really cool, but man, she hated hippies. Where are your Birkenstocks?"

Rather than ripping into him for typecasting and being a conservative prick, as I should have done and was dying to do, I decided not to pick a fight in security and instead said something about the militaristically liberal contingent of students and how most of us aren't like that...then said that I find Birkenstocks to be uncomfortable, thank you. Not a terribly biting retort.

I always come up with great responses for these situations well after the fact (don't we all), but I've taken to retorting with large words in large sentences that usually shut the other person up. Fortunately, in this case, I had to step through the metal detector and leave him behind.

Then, my metronome in my violin case decided to turn on right as I put the case on the conveyor belt. I almost had a heart attack, but fortunately, it was too noisy for any of the TSA agents to hear the steady ticking noise...and I did manage to turn it off in time.

And now, suddenly, I'm thinking about all the crap I have to do in order to graduate in less than 2 months, and I really want a beer.

All right. Enough whining for now. Peace out, homekids.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Random thoughts

1) My thin wallet, fat stomach, and college student mentality have teamed up to discover my new favorite food. Betty Crocker's Instant Sour Cream and Cheddar mashed potatoes? SO GOOD. For 50 cents on the sale rack at Giant? Even better! With sriracha? Orgasm in my mouth. I'm going back tonight and praying they have more.

2) I had a photo published in Bicycle Times! Specifically, this photo:

I realized shortly after I sent it that I had sent the wrong one, but I guess they liked it. I imagine they cut it down, but I wouldn't know because it was the ONE bike mag Barnes and Noble didn't have. Grump.

3) Today was the first evening I've worn a light jacket outside and didn't really need it--and it was almost shorts weather today. Weird having that with piles of snow still on the ground, but who's complaining? And after my second bike tour today, my cheeks are actually a little sunburned. If I were born into another time culture, I would probably be a sun worshipper.

4) The above feeling is slightly dampened when you remember that your boyfriend is on a cruise in the Caribbean and soaking up more than his fair share of sun. But it comes back when you see your first daffodils of the spring.

5) It's a good day when your parents surprise you with 2 boxes of Samoas (or Caramel Delights, depending on which region you're from) in the mail.

6) It's also a good day when you can make a Canadian journalist and her son really, really happy on a private bike tour--especially when she (1) will be publishing a piece that mentions you and (2) has contacts at UBC, where you might potentially want to apply for grad school...

7) Hipster douchebags annoy the ever-loving shit out of me. While I myself make a habit of riding no-handed (it requires less effort in certain situations and is very easy with a road bike), I don't do it while making loud comments about how cool I am and wearing one of those stupid cycling caps. While riding a fixie. In brand new skinny jeans. With one of those bike messenger bags (which, while really cool and useful, are something I wouldn't be caught dead with). Like...could you try and fit the stereotype any more?

8) In real life, when random men in stores hold open doors for me and ask if I'm taken, I can't help (against my will) but be flattered and say "yes" while trying not to smile. Especially when they follow up with, "He's a lucky man." But both times this has happened, it's been followed up on the same night by nightmares about running into creepy men in dark places and nearly getting raped. I can't figure this one out.

9) It's a good night when you see a fox crossing the road, it doesn't get squished, and you can excitedly text your roommate (who is coming home tonight! Which, after being stuck here for 2 nights by myself, will be a welcome change) about it.

10) You know you're a giant IR nerd when you get excited about finding articles that connect the "tourist gaze" with Nova Scotia. And get to read them with a mug of tea. After taking a shower, of course.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A sense of humo(u)r

Discovery of the week: When it comes to people mocking Canada...I don't have one. In the wake of the US loss to the Canadians for the gold in men's hockey, I've overheard and read more Canadian-bashing than usual. Most of the time, people have no idea what they're talking about, and the complete and utter lack of respect really annoys me.

You don't have to love it, but you really ought to show it more consideration than that. It is its own country, after all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's just been one of those days.

I think AU Admissions accidentally reversed their list this year and accepted all the people who were at the bottom of the pile. This is the only reasonable explanation for half of what I've been hearing come out of students' mouths around campus recently. Or perhaps it's the fact that we've all been cooped up for a week now, and people have all gone crazy. Or perhaps the bright light from being outside in the snow kills off brain cells.

Whichever way, it's annoying as hell. Take, for example, the line of girls who were sitting behind us at the basketball game yesterday (in which we were thoroughly trounced by Bucknell). They killed some of the only interesting plays in the game for me because they were busy flipping around their hair and giggling. I caught part of one conversation, and it went something like this:

Female Clone 1: "I think I'm, like, a make out whore or something."
Female Clone 2: "Whatever. You're allowed to slip up once in awhile."

And so on and so forth. For the ENTIRE SECOND HALF OF THE GAME. I should also mention that they spent whatever minutes they weren't talking about mindless girly shit absolutely trashing the Eagles. Like, OK, we're not great this year, and the play was slightly less than lackluster yesterday...but are you really going to sit there and insult your team during the game? Towards the end of it (with maybe 2 minutes left on the clock--which, yes, in basketball speak, will be longer than 2 actual minutes, but it's not THAT long. Especially when you've been stuck in your dorm for a week.), I heard Female Clone 3: "Ugh, I'm not missing the first few minutes of Grey's to watch us lose by 15 points." And she got up and left.

....what? Then don't bother coming to the fucking game in the first place! What the hell kind of "supporter" just up and gives up on their team towards the very end? She was walking back to her dorm--it's not like she had traffic to sit in.

I should also add that the only thing they took interest in was the dance team. Who, admittedly, are better dancers than I will ever be, but I will never be able to figure out what exactly is accomplished by tiny outfits, hair flipping and synchronized hip thrusting. ...I mean what's accomplished in terms of winning the game, not of giving drunken frat boys boners and making them drool all over the bleachers.

Or, for example, the girl who said to me in the elevator afterwards: "God, I can't believe they lost. Do you know we pay their salaries? They owe it to us to win."

We-hell. If you're going to go to the game with that sort of attitude, of COURSE we're all entitled to a winning team! We're all entitled to everything! You know why? Because we are AMERICAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, and we PAY FOR THIS SHIT, DAMMIT.

Apparently AU also accepts all of the people who check off "Yes, I am socially retarded" on their applications. They always say that "AU" stands for "Awkward University," but it's just beginning to sink in with me just how true this actually is.

Take, for example, the several times that I've held open doors for people. They often look at the ground or stare over my shoulder. I've taken to saying "You're welcome," regardless of how they respond. You could argue that means I'm doing it to be thanked and therefore invalidates my politeness, but I'm really just looking for acknowledgment that I'm standing there.

Funny thing is, being socially inept does not always equate to awkwardness. It also includes those people who are just assholes. You could take as an example the idiot who tried to pick up my friends and me in the hallway of the Berks (the apartment complex next to campus) last night. There's a way to do that sort of thing, and it does not involve it (1) being a Thursday night with classes for the first time in a week the next day and (2) doing it in the middle of the hallway next to the vending machines. You blame it on drunkenness, I blame it on social ineptness.

Or...the guy getting a letter copied on official letterhead at the Copy Centre who got snippy with the employees (who apologized thoroughly) when the printer messed up (apparently the letterhead had been hard to come by), filled out a complaint card, complained that it wasn't a "real" complaint card, then accused the employees of not apologizing. When I politely suggested that he could, perhaps make colour copies of the letters that did turn out correctly, he says, "Um..I don't think so." Curious, buddy, because how do you think the department reproduced that letterhead? His wasn't the fancy embossed kind, it was the kind that's reprinted on colour copiers.

Or perhaps when you're kneeling in the front of the SIS building attempting to pick up pins that you've dumped all over the ground, and some well-dressed bitch in heels steps over you to head into the coffee shop.

And so on and so forth.

I'm waxing overly judgmental again. I don't care. I'm annoyed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flying solo

You know something...I'm getting to be a pretty good baker and cook (with the exception of the occasional gluey turnover or broken yolk), and I'm sort of tired of being the only one who eats my own food. I'm not saying I'm great or anything, but food is a great love of mine, and I've always thought it tastes better when shared.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm back!

Hello my beloved followers, and happy 2010. I've shut down my other blog, for reasons that you won't really care about, and gone back to this one.

I decided to start this year with a list of resolutions. Not terribly original, but I've never come up with an official list before, so I figure that in my first year as an "adult" (haaaaaaaa ha ha...) I should figure some out. So I did. And I'm not publishing them, because they're really uninteresting. Instead, I'm publishing the list of lessons from 2009 that smacked me in the face throughout the year.

Some of these are just a tad bit trite-sounding, so my apologies.

1) Don't sacrifice the present in favor of the future. You can't live your life with every single hope and vision set towards another life that isn't here yet, because you will miss so much. Life throws curve balls. Attempt to catch them.

2) By the same token, avoiding the future can be just as bad and leave one stranded, without a path, compass, or any of the necessary materials to make it through life.

3) Pursue what you love. Life is short. Don't do something just because you think people expect you to do it, and don't fill up your time with obligations that will ultimately prove superfluous.

4) Everyone you meet has a lifetime's worth of stories. Take time to listen (this goes with the last part of number 3), because different realities and perspectives are not only fascinating, they will inevitably show you something about your own experiences that you might have missed while looking through your own lenses.

5) Don't be afraid of silence. Time with people does not have to be full of conversation. There's a big difference between talking to people and just talking at people just to fill gaps. And they can usually tell the difference.

6) Beer is an art.

7) Once you fall in love with someone (in whatever capacity--relationships, family, friends), it's impossible to ever completely dissolve that bond.

8) When life goes to shit, you realize just how strong those bonds are. Just as heartbreak is coupled with love, brokenness is coupled with a sense of strength and unity. (This can be applied to everything from international tragedies to break-ups).

9) Find your niche. There's always room for passionate people.

10) When a romantic connection turns into a friendship, that's not necessarily a downgrade. In fact, it can often strengthen the relationship.

11) People are not always good, and they're not always trustworthy. But they're not all bad, either. (I think) people have moral codes, but individual consequences mean that these aren't the same for each person and not always in agreement.