May 27, 2009

May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009

Miracle Grow

“I bought a cactus. A week later it died. And I got depressed, because I thought, damn. I am less nurturing than a desert.” –Demetri Martin

I haven’t had a real garden for years. My parents were never big gardeners, likely owing to the following facts:

- We lived in Wisconsin. Average temperature: 16 degrees. In the sun.
- We never had a yard big enough for a proper garden. (My apologies to all the Chia Herb Garden fans, but, um, DOESN’T COUNT.)
- What gardens we did plant seemed to feed the rabbits more than us. (Possibly because I thought the rabbits were cute and couldn’t find motivation to keep putting the fence back up when they’d knock it over.)
- Every fruit or vegetable that we might grow in our garden can also be purchased (brace yourself) in the store, for less time and effort than gardening. God bless America.

I would love someday to have an French-style flower garden, with neat sections of colorful blooms. (Ideally, also with a rambling British estate, but whatever.) Considering my current living situation and schedule, though, I daresay someday = retirement.

Don’t hold your breath.

At any rate, none of this lessens my admiration of real gardens, both plant and flower. I’ve visited gardens. Multiple gardens. In several states. I wouldn’t call them pilgrimages (that would apply more to my Ikea fixation), but I’m certainly willing to make an effort to see good flora.

In fact, Michelle Obama’s planting of a White House kitchen garden is my third favorite thing about her, after her kickass fashion sense and her apparent willingness to call her husband out on his crap.

I don’t like having plants in the house, though, because I spend all my time either fearing that I will knock them over or ACTUALLY knocking them over. If I ever have kids, I imagine I’ll have the same problem.

May 20, 2009

May 20, 2009

Remember This? Volume 10: Captain Kangaroo

You know what I remember about Captain Kangaroo? Mr. Green Jeans. No offense to the Cap, but when people remember more about your sidekick, you may have an issue. But that’s just one viewer’s opinion.

Anyway, seeing as Captain Kangaroo aired only until 1984, I have to assume what I saw was repeats. Yes, I became a dedicated tv viewer VERY EARLY in life. But not THAT early, smartasses. I suspect the program wouldn’t hold up as well were I to watch it now. I wish it did, though. I mean, look at the Wikipedia description:

“[The program] had a very loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" (later renamed "The Captain's Place"), where the Captain (whose name came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets.”

Everybody who wishes they lived in a Treasure House and spent all day telling stories/meeting guests/indulging in stunts, raise your hands.

*raises hand*

*raises other hand*

Seriously. As someone who seems to spend most of her day around the minimally-competent, I’m ready for some puppet indulgence.

I’m disturbed at how little I remember about the regular workings of this program, though, considering that I’m sure I watched plenty of it. But I remember more about PeeWee’s Playhouse, and I’m pretty sure that was only a weekly program.

Regardless of how much (or little) I remember about the show, I’m sure I spent many an hour in front of the tv because of it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

(I guess I should have subtitled this entry “Because I sure as hell don’t!” Shutup.)

May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009

In My Opinion: Star Trek

Despite being a huge fan of BSG, my Star Trek fanship is middling at best. I watched all of Enterprise, some of TNG, and the occasional rerun of TOS. However, J.J. Abrams can do no wrong in my eyes, whether he’s using a college coed or a time-traveling island. Give him Sylar and I am on board.

This film was an origin tale, which is also a plus for me. My horrible memory coupled with my interest in reinvention made the creation of the Enterprise crew pretty cool. Sure, a lot of stuff was changed. True Trekkies and Trekkers (we’ll pretend for their sakes there’s a difference) probably take umbrage. But c’mon. Spock needs love, too.

Kudos to Chris Pine for playing a character defined all-too-memorably by William Shatner. My pity on anyone who has to follow Shat. In any situation. You’re just not going to come off well. It’s like being in the play Ford Theater ran AFTER Our American Cousin. Zachary Quinto was (obviously) squee-worthy as a young Spock, while Leonard Nimoy comfortably reprised his role as normal Spock. Speaking of squee, while I LOVED Karl Urban as Bones, I kept wanting him to use the phrase “Riders of Rohan.” Eomer, where you at?

(Also, when did Winona Ryder turn old?)

Perhaps this was just because I saw the movie in IMAX, but damn was that thing loud. Certainly the second-loudest film I’ve seen, after the Hulk one with Edward Norton. They were equally shiny, though. When you crash a space ship, that thing BURNS, baby.

I don’t know that this film would inspire someone with zero Trek exposure to take it up. And I’m pretty sure a rabid fan would find its wholesale reinvention distasteful. But for someone like me, in the middle of the spectrum, it was just fine.

May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009

In My Opinion: Burn After Reading

Though O Brother, Where Art Thou? Is one of my favorite movies, I’m not a huge fan of the Coen brothers. I don’t understand the cult devotion to The Big Lebowski. I enjoyed Fargo (mostly because it reminded me of people I know) but it didn’t bowl me over. However, when an artist (or two of them) inspires a passionate fandom, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Like the mint on your hotel room pillow, Burn After Reading was a pleasant little surprise. I fully expected my reaction to be along the lines of “That was IT?” Rather, I really enjoyed the film, not least because it involves Washington, internet dating, and spies. Like a cinematic version of my life, really. Though I would like to point out that not once have I met a blind date on the Mall. I have walked there, yes. I have picnicked there, yes. But I have never trolled for love there. Too many unsavory sorts.

In Burn After Reading, Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt play hapless gym employees who find a CD containing what appears to be highly-classified (and this highly-valuable) information left in someone’s locker. What they don’t realize is that their discovery is actually the memoirs of a former CIA employee (John Malkovich) whose disgruntled wife (the always-intriguing Tilda Swinton) is trying to leave him for another man (George Clooney, for once not the suave hero).

I’m hoping the paragraph above included at least two or three names that piqued your interest. I particularly enjoyed seeing Clooney play against type—he can’t always rob casinos or save the world. Frances McDormand was also great as a woman so screwed-up by years of internet dating that she’s convinced massive amounts of plastic surgery are her BEST option.

McDormand and Pitt try to extort Malkovich in exchange for returning the CD. Swinton, Malkovich, and Clooney’s love triangle twists and turns. And while I won’t spoil the end for you, you’ll be happy to hear that no one ends up in a wood chipper. Though there’s a pretty gruesome bludgeoning.

“Report back to me when it makes sense.”

“I have a drinking problem? You're a Mormon. Compared to you, we ALL have a drinking problem!”

“Appearances can be...deceptive.”

May 15, 2009

May 15, 2009

My Thoughts on The Office #528 “Company Picnic”

Oh. My.

You know, I go into a season finale of The Office expecting something big. An article I read earlier this week pointed out that the season usually ends with a big JAM moment, whether it’s a Casino Night kiss or Jim’s decision to propose. I warned TheBoy that I was likely to become RATHER SHRIEKY were something notable to happen. Luckily, I managed not to deafen anybody.

But first, let’s step outside.

My recent discovery of Better Off Ted has reminded me that I love shows set in the workplace. I don’t care so much about the home lives of CSIs, for example, but I could watch them fingerprint stuff until the cows come home. (Back in Wisconsin, it was much easier to do that literally.) Don’t get me wrong; I love the people of Dunder-Mifflin more than almost as much as my friends and family. I’m excited when they want to buy houses. I’m saddened when they George Foreman grill their feet. But they are paper salesmen and –women. Let’s see them doing things related to THAT once in a while, okay?

Thus my joy when we got to see the Scrantonites all together at a work-related function that also involved the other branches (Utica, Buffalo, Nashua…who else am I forgetting?) and corporate. Plus, wicked awesome t-shirts.

And the return of one Holly Flax.

I’ve already mentioned that fact that Michael needs to just grab Holly and never let her go, as she is his perfect woman. Carpe Holly, Michael. Carpe. While the Slumdog Millionaire skit didn’t work for me (or anyone present at the picnic, apparently), it did serve to highlight how perfectly these two riff off each other. They’re no Ross and Rachel, but they’re sort of a socially-retarded Monica and Chandler.

And who of us doesn’t aspire to that?

(Speaking of socially retarded, I hope this Rolf person was introduced only to facilitate a Dwangela reunion. We don’t need another Mose, thank you. One is enough.)

To finish up my picnic plot-related comments: Meredith’s shirt grossed me out—she’s on a string of bad outfits. Erin was adorable, as was Andy’s infatuation. And Michael Wallace deserved what he got—how does he not realize telling Michael privileged information is a Bad Idea?

Okay, now on to the good stuff.

When the nurse threw out the pregnancy line, I gasped. I mean, did any of you see THAT coming? Like I said, I was primed for something. But a little baybeh was certainly not it. I thought the show did a brilliant job of subtly revealing the idea. First, by getting Pam to a hospital (and an x-ray machine) in a feasible way: volleyball injury. Then, by having the nurse oh-so-casually include pregnancy in the pre x-ray checklist with an equally-routine response from Pam. Finally, by using the same silence technique as was employed in Booze Cruise: let the actors’ faces and expressions tell the story.

Brilliant.

To be fair, this could be the world’s meanest fake-out. But I’m pretty sure that Jim’s grin was paternal. I’m sure neither of them could be happier.

But.

But let me play working girl’s advocate.

Part of me wonders whether this isn’t coming at exactly the wrong time for Pam. She was just promoted to sales. They’re planning a wedding (ostensibly, though that may now be pushed back). I assume neither of them has much money. It’s going to be a hard road; that’s all I’m saying.

I hope you’re just as excited as Jim and I to see where it all leads.

May 14, 2009

May 14, 2009

Duly Noted Recommends, Episode 24

The service that I used to use to record these recently started charging. BAD GABCAST BAD. Knowing me as well as you do, dear reader, you won’t be surprised to learn that Heather ain’t paying for that.

So I shall proceed in writing until the Democrats come up with a stimulus bill for web-based phone services.

Recommendation number one is sticky lint rollers. For years, my dad had a felt lint roller. Which worked fine, except that IT DIDN’T WORK AT ALL. Sometimes, the felt would rub off on the clothing, people. Red felt. On the clothing.

Heather was not happy about this.

Then she discovered that they make sticky lint rollers. In which the outer fuzzy layer can be disposed of after use. Granted, it’s probably really wasteful and makes an Indian cry every time I buy a new roller (I currently have one at home, one at work, and one in the glovebox of my car—they’re addictive). Sometimes sacrifices need to be made in order for us to be lint-free.

Recommendation number two is chewing gum. Since I’ve been trying to lose the last 10 pounds since, I don’t know, like DECEMBER, I’ve had to find ways not to eat. I tried constant Diet Coke, but that made my dentist angry. So I drink a lot of water (seriously, I go to the bathroom approximately 67 times a day) and chew gum. I got a 14-pack of Orbit in various minty flavors. Partly because I like mint; partly because Orbit commercials feature that woman who says “Dirty mouth? Clean it up with Orbit!” in a perky British accent.

I am SO a child of advertisements. I know. What hath Don Draper wrought?

Recommendation number three is brussels sprouts.

Yeah.

Seriously, brussels sprouts.

Okay, go with me on this. Despite what you’ve heard, these frakkers are DELICIOUS. They’re little mini heads of cabbage! And I love cabbage! And it’s so good for you! And maybe it’s messing with my brain a little bit, because I can’t stop using exclamation points!

Those are the recommendations for this go-round. I shall continue to try new things and report back. Until then, a toute a l’heure* and enjoy.

* And how many of you are going, “So THAT’S what she always said at the end of those.” Yep. It’s French. Fancy!

May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009

To My Former Favorite Presidential Candidate

Dear John Edwards,

Oh John. John John John. What did you DO, man? Where did it go wrong?

My love and respect for you were based on two things: 1) according to an online survey before the 2004 election, we match 52% politically and 2) you are very smiley. As someone who’s obnoxiously grinny herself, I’m drawn towards people who are, well, chipper. Or at least appear to be.

However, infidelity is SORT OF A TURN-OFF.

John Edwards, I have no idea what went on between you, your wife, and The Other Woman. In recent interviews, your wife has portrayed you as the victim or a seducer. This may be completely correct. Seeing as you could fit my knowledge of boys into a thimble, I’m going to take her word for it.

But seriously? A woman comes up to you and says “You’re so hot” and it turns into THIS? Don’t try telling me this is the first time you’ve been hit on. I mean, you’re successful, eloquent, and tall. You must have developed defenses.

Thus I’m just not buying it. You knew what you were doing, and you did it anyway. For shame, John. For shame.

In hindsight, it’s a good thing I’d already switched to Romney before this whole kerfuffle. Say what you will about his cuh-razy Mormonism; he’s successful, eloquent, tall, and NOT A CHEATER.

Cheers,
Heather

May 12, 2009

May 12, 2009

In My Opinion: The Other Boleyn Girl

In case my not-infrequent mentions of The Tudors weren’t enough of a clue, let me inform you that I am fascinated by British royalty. I think it’s my secret yearning to be a lesser royal, not because I’d get to go to fancy parties (I’d just spill on myself) or have lots of money (I’m cheap). I want to be, like, the 47th in line to the throne. Just important enough to have a little cred at parties and a small country estate somewhere ending in –shire.

IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

Anyway, The Other Boleyn Girl was the first Phillippa Gregory novel I ever read. I picked it up expecting a lot of history and maybe a little titillation.

Folks, I couldn’t see the historical forest for the titillating trees. We’re talking LITERAL bodice ripping. Did not see that coming. Which isn’t, of course, to say that I stopped reading. I’m THAT girl! Granted, we all know Henry VIII was a bit of a player. But DANG, Phillippa. They did other things, you know.

I hadn’t planned on seeing the movie, despite the presence of glorious costumes and Scarlett Johannson. However, my parents saw it and liked it. Well, my mom liked it. Then again, my dad prefers movies involving tanks. So…yeah.

The titular girl is Mary Boleyn, Anne’s younger sister. Historically, Mary was Henry’s mistress before Anne. Besides being the means of introduction between her sister and the king, Mary bore Henry a son (ineligible to rule, alas). Say what you will about Father Boleyn, the man had plans for his daughters.

George Boleyn, played in the movie by the adorable Jim Sturgess, is yet another lesser-known Boleyn sibling whose role is fleshed out here. In addition to being involved in typical court machinations, George may or may not have had incestuous relations with Anne. That may or may not have produced a child.

Those crazy Tudors.

The movie is mostly about pretty people who romp about and pout a lot while wearing lots of satin. Henry is played by Eric Bana, Mary by Johannson, and Anne by Natalie Portman. They all perform the role of “Pretty person with British accent” admirably.

While Mary Boleyn’s name is usually lost to history, her role in matchmaking Anne and Henry cannot be marginalized. Unlike her sister, Mary ended up living happily ever after.

Sometimes, it’s not so bad to be the other woman.

May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009

The Day That Was, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I went to the White House Spring Garden Tour. You may recall my attendance at the Fall Garden Tour. I had mixed feelings about this go-round. On the plus side, everything would be blooming. On the negative side, the crowds were sure to be ridiculous. Suffice to say, I was right.

As seems to be the protocol for these events, each person got a ticket. This time I needed two, hooray.



There were crowds, of course, but they were relatively well-behaved and kid-free.




Blooming flowers were present.



As were Very Serious guards.



The Obamas moved in since my last visit; and I approve of the swingset installation. I would have had a go were it not for the armed guards and all.



I really did enjoy the flowers. So fragrant and colorful.



And, of course, the White House was still there.



And that was Saturday.

May 9, 2009

May 9, 2009

My Thoughts on The Office #527 “Cafe Disco”

shrieky Erin
EVIL Dwight
Phyllis has a panda at her desk!
coffee and dancing
"growing into a giant"
5 small meals a day
"I am accounting on you to have lunch with me."
I love that Erin has her birth certficate.
THEY'RE GETTING MARRIED?!?!?!?!?!
"I had just woken up. I didn't look cute. That's how I knew he meant it."
Rule #1: Keep yourself dehydrated.
"Wittle Andy is afwaid."
"Funk is the problem and the solution."
"Please respect the lei."
Bob's secretary looks a LOT like Phyllis. Dang.
"Who tipped you over? Was it Phillip?"
"Shirt wasn't doing you any favors."
ANDY DANCING!!!
DANCE OFF!!!
No cleaning up?
pink dress!
"You can't steal what is legally your property."
My work needs a Cafe Disco.
"Are you sure that's not the gay ear?"
"That was just the ice."

May 8, 2009

May 8, 2009

So Happy Together

In yet another example of how our society is becoming increasingly dependent on shiny objects, a recently-released study indicates that television salves loneliness.

I pause here for a giant DUH.

Any only child between the ages of 8 and 14 will tell you that television is your best friend. Heck, this 25-year-old only child will say the same thing. TV is always available for me. TV lets me experience things like travel and cooking. TV shows me what it’s like to be a slutty prep school student, a lovelorn architect, and a special agent. AND THAT’S JUST ON MONDAYS, PEOPLE.

Granted, the study has caveats. Notably the citation that a previous study found the exact opposite: that people who watch TV are more unhappy. I guess this discipline is really more of an art than a science. And by “art,” I mean “way of saying whatever the hell you want.” The best kind, really.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m running late for an appointment at Dunder-Mifflin.

May 7, 2009

May 7, 2009

Things I’ve Read: How We Decide

Anyone who’s seen me at the Container Store, a restaurant with an extensive menu, or a car dealership knows that I am Very Deliberate. I want to know every option available. I want to extensively evaluate. And then, after all of that (days later), I will finally pick the shrimp risotto and garden salad.

Thus my interest in the book How We Decide. I’d read a couple of good reviews (sometimes I read periodicals with book reviews—HA) and was intrigued by the use of ice cream on the cover. Shutup.

I was basically expecting a version of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. For those of you unfamiliar with that tome, Gladwell’s thesis is that you really should trust your gut instinct. The value of deliberation aside, what you initially “feel” to be right usually is. The beauty of gazillions of years of evolution.

In How We Decide, though, author Jonah Lehrer takes it a bit further. He examines decision making as a concept. Judgments good and bad. Short and long. Simple and complex. Using such diverse fields as gaming (backgammon, chess), military strategy, and sports (Tom Brady, woo), he matches real world examples to his concepts. I’ve always appreciated the “Here’s my concept, and here’s an example” device. I’ve heard a lot of boring sermons speeches in my lifetime, and few of them involved stories (or fun) of any kind. But that’s a rant for another day.

Lehrer goes a step further, however, and explains how the mechanics and science of decision making can help us make better decisions. For example, you want to do research when buying something big, like a house or car. But you want to take a break between completing the research and making the decision. Set it aside for a little bit. Let your subconscious mull it over.

I found this strategy worked excellently in college. I studied for my exams right before going to bed and let my brain absorb the information while I slept. I’m convinced that that (and my parents’ decision to start me on PBS early in life) are the main reason I’m where I am today.

Well, that and the bribes.

"From the perspective of the brain, there’s a thin line between a good decision and a bad decision. This book is about that line."

"Use your conscious mind to acquire all the information you need for making a decision. But don’t try to analyze the information with your conscious mind. Instead, go on holiday while your unconscious mind digests it."

"Unless you experience the unpleasant symptoms of being wrong, your brain will never revise its models. Before your neurons can succeed, they must repeatedly fail."

"A lie told well is just as good as the truth."

May 6, 2009

May 6, 2009

Summer Movies 2009

May has arrived. When this young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of movies. We’ve established my penchant for obscure indie films involving grief, dysfunction, and/or Phillip Seymour Hoffmann. We’ve also established my love for films with SO MUCH EXPLOSIONS!

Here, then, the films I plan to see this summer:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
May 1

Hugh Jackman kicking ass. I need say no more, really. The trailer alone makes my insides all stirry.

Star Trek
May 8

J.J. Abrams (of my beloved Lost and Felicity) reinvents the franchise. Cute boys in spaceships.

Angels & Demons
May 15

I’ve read all the books. The film version of Da Vinci Code didn’t piss me off like it did some others. I hear they’ve even fixed Tom Hanks’ hair.

Terminator Salvation
May 21

Finally, we get a John Connor I can get on board with. Holla. Plus, explosions!

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
May 22

LOVED the first one. I have dreamed I got to be in a museum all by myself. Multiple times. Some kids wanna get locked in a candy store. I wanna get locked in a museum. Shutup.

Away We Go
June 5

My sole bit of alternative programming this summer at the box office. My boy JKras and Maya Rudolph play expectant parents trying to decide where to live. The trailer is distinctly Juno-ish.

Public Enemies
July 1

This was actually shot in Wisconsin. The big bank scene is actually in what’s now the historical society. I imagine there’ll be a fair bit of “Hey, I’ve been there” during this on my part.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
July 15

Like I could resist a movie with wizards. Please.

You can enjoy the sunshine. I’ll be staying in.

May 5, 2009

May 5, 2009

Things I've Read: Gilead

Gilead was a pickup read. That’s what I call books that I pass when trolling the library on Saturday mornings. (My hour-each-way commute means I go through a lot of books. Hence the need for a weekly restocking.) I knew nothing about Gilead except vague mental connotations with good reviews and Oprah. So, y’know, it was a wash.

I decided to read it anyway.

The entirety of Gilead is a letter written by a dying preacher to his young son. While there’s a grim finality to the work, I wouldn’t necessarily call it depressing. Rather, it’s resigned. The author knows he’s going to die, and soon. This is his way of passing along everything he won’t be able to in the future.

John Ames, the narrator, is the grandson and son of preachers. Ames lives in the titular town of Gilead, Iowa; the book’s “present day” is 1956. While the book/letter ostensibly is a historical memoir (i.e. “This is what happened in my life”), it ends up being more about Ames’ philosophical and religious struggles. Like many a preacher before (and after), it turns out Ames’ father and grandfather were pretty much assholes. Throw that against the backdrop of segregation and the Civil War, and you have yourself a par-tay.

As someone who’s seen more than her fair share of crazy Christians, I found the gradual unraveling of Ames’ faith to be pretty engrossing. I’m not sure how much the average person would enjoy a book involving Calvin (TULIP shout-out) and Presbyterians, but I certainly found a few characters that reminded me of people I once knew. I mean, those of you who went to my college realize that even the title is a Biblical reference.

I have no children, and I have always known both of my parents. So the sort of parent-child separation this book speaks to is completely foreign to me. But I think anyone can identify with the desire to give knowledge and memories to a new generation. John Ames had a torch to pass; that torch was Gilead.

“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. All it needs from you is that you take care not to trample on it.”

“A good sermon is one side of a passionate conversation.”

“One thing I have learned in my life is what settled, habitual sadness looks like.”

“I believe the soul in paradise must enjoy something mearer to a perpetual vigorous adulthood than to any other state we know.”

“I think I’ll put an end to all this writing. I’ve read it over, more or less, and I’ve found some things of interest in it, mainly the way I have been drawn back into this world in the course of it.”

May 4, 2009

May 4, 2009

Whither the Blogger? (Continued)

I’ve already tried to explain the reasoning behind my 800-mile move across these United States. It may or may not have made sense to you; I’ve gotten more than a few crazy looks when I tell it in person. However, I’d like to point out I’ve also gotten a fair number of comments along the lines of “You know, I always wanted to do something like that. When I was younger, I thought about moving to (insert name of city here) but never did. Good for you.” I’ve been here for almost seven months now, and I know I made the right choice. Traffic, tourists, and all.

If you’d humor me once more (you’re good like that), allow me to talk a little bit about why I chose federal service. In the same way that I knew for years that I wanted to move to Washington, D.C., I’ve known since I was pretty small that I wanted to go into government. Before my high school years, this was mostly due to the fact that both my parents have been in government almost my whole life, my dad at the local level and my mom at the federal level. (Yes, she works for yet another federal-agency-that-shall-not-be-named, though hers is much, much cooler than mine. Much. Cooler.) In the same way that kids of teachers become teachers, kids of tradespeople become tradespeople, and kids of celebrities become trust fund babies, the professions of my parents had a great impact on me during my formative years. Didn’t we all at one point want to grow up to be just like our parents?

In high school, I (perhaps like you) started really thinking about the future. I’m a freakishly deliberate person. I will think and ponder and research before choosing. The up side is that I almost always love my choice (see: moving to Washington, D.C., above). The down side is that it often takes a while to make a final selection. Restaurants with extensive menus are not my friend.

At any rate, while I had a Dream Major (English) and even a Thing I Am Very Good At (piano), I realized that neither of those was likely to pan out into a real job. I mean, majoring in an intellectual field like English is a great idea if you want to teach. But I really just want to read. And while music may be fun, it only becomes a profession for a select few. Here’s a conversation I had once as a freshman in college:

Random Girl: What’s your major?
Me: Business.
Random Girl: (pauses, barely covers a scoff) Oh.
Me: What’s yours?
Random Girl: (smugly) Voice.

I saw that look of derision, Random Girl. But now I have a badass government job and you are probably a bank teller. HAHAHAHAHA, I win.

Anyway, while a business degree (or two) is by no means a requirement for government service, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Since the gist of this article is an apologetic for federal work, I’d best get to it. Go go enumerated list!

1. Job security. This used to be one of my weaker reasons, but now that our economy has exploded, that government gravy train isn’t looking so bad, is it? I may not make as much money as you, or have as nice an office, or enjoy the perks. But my job is almost impossible to lose. While the performance implications of this fact are more than a little dismaying (I send approximately 15 messages a week with the gist “DO YOUR F---ING JOB”), I can’t deny that I love not having to worry about being pink-slipped.

2. Public service. Granted, I don’t deal with the public as directly in my current position as I have in the past. But any federal worker, whether postman, clerk, or budget analyst (woot) is a steward of taxpayer money and resources. As you all enjoy reminding me, you fund my salary. Even if only an infinitesimal portion of it. Still. I get no thrills from the idea of making shareholders rich. But I do like the idea that what I do is helping the country run. What did YOU do today?

3. Brushes with greatness. If you’re a fed in the National Capital Region (that’s what it’s called, for realsies), there’s a very good chance that a VIP will show up at your office. A member from the Obama family has been to agency-that-shall-not-be-named. I was within throwing distance, people.

You may not be a business major, or even a humanities one. Heck, you might not even have a degree. There’s still federal work for you. We (hey, I’m part of it too, shutup) employ 2 million civilians all across the country, in positions ranging from doctor to construction worker. No matter what you currently do or would like to do, there’s probably a corresponding federal job.

I won’t go into my “How to get a federal job” mini seminar here; though private sessions are available on request.* Suffice to say this website is your best bet.

It worked for me, after all.

* That’s what she said.

May 2, 2009

May 2, 2009

My Thoughts on The Office #526 “Casual Friday”

This week on The Office, the exiled employees came back into the Dunder-Mifflin fold. While I enjoyed the Michael Scott Paper Company plotline, I did so because I knew it was a limited-time offer. The whole Stanford story arc of yore made me realize that when the focus of this show is split, everyone suffers.

“It’s pony.”

The reunion wasn’t a happy one, alas. Our little family needed to work through their issues. Apparently lunch-stealing helps with that.

“You’re dressed like this amorphous blob of khaki.”

The main story, I guess, was the titular dress code issue. You all know I love me some Toby “He’s so sad!” Flenderson. I spent most of season 2 just wanting to give the poor man a hug. However, you all also know I love a man who can dress well. Or, in Andy’s case, ridiculously loudly. Ask my friend Michael how many times I’ve used the phrase “But his pants made me laugh so much!” in our weekly recaps of this show. More than once, people. More than once. Someone (Jim, maybe) said something like “You know you’re in trouble when you’re being out-dressed by Andy.” Yessir.

And the image of Meredith in that outfit will forever be burned into my psyche. Despite the pixilation. Argh.

(I was a little distracted during this episode—can someone tell me what the deal was with Pam and Phyllis wearing the same thing? Was that on accident? On purpose? Was there a sale or something?)

“Maybe you shouldn’t fake fire people anymore.”

We got a nice throwback to the pilot with the fake-firing scene. Pam did end up getting the sales job (woo!) and poor Erin got introduced to yet another Michael Scott idiosyncrasy. Poor girl. We’ll see how long she lasts.

“So from the bottom of my heart, to the top of my heart, I’m sorry.”

At episode’s end, our favorite Dunder-Mifflinites are once again a big happy family. Or at least one that puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional.”

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

“It’s the tall pointy one. There. RIGHT THERE.”

Happy May Day, everybody. I had nothing queued up to post today, but I had one of those “only in Washington” moments this morning that I thought might amuse you. Or not. You can always go back to setting up your maypole.

As I was crossing the street in front of the employee entrance to federal-agency-that-shall-not-be-named this morning, I was approached by an older (early- to mid-60s, I’d guess) Indian couple. They asked me how to get to the Lincoln Memorial.

Before I proceed, allow me to here insert a map showing the approximate location of us, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

Okay. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, as closely as I can remember it. Keep in mind that I start work at 8:00 and this conversation is taking place at approximately 7:53.

Indian tourist couple (ITC): Where is Lincoln Memorial?
Me: (points) It’s over that way. You can’t see it from here.
ITC: It is that building? (points)
Me: No, it’s a low building, with columns.
ITC: Is it that building? (points to another building)
Me: No. You can’t see it from here.
ITC: How do you get to Lincoln Memorial?
Me: You need to walk…okay, see this street? 19th Street? Take that towards the National Mall. It’s like a park…?
ITC: (blank faces) We are tourists. They told us to come here and then to Lincoln Memorial.
Me (thinking): Yeah, “they” told you to come HERE, to federal-agency-that-shall-not-be-named. I’ll betcha.
Me: Do you have a map?
ITC: No. We are tourist. From India.
Me (thinking): WITHOUT MAPS? WTF?
Me: Okay, why don’t you go to the Washington Monument? It’s that (points) tall pointy building over there. (points AGAIN for emphasis)
ITC: No, we must start at Lincoln Memorial.
Me: The Lincoln Memorial is hard to get to from here. The Washington Monument is RIGHT THERE (points again) and they can tell you how to get to the Lincoln from there. It’s THAT TALL POINTY ONE OVER THERE.
ITC: Oh, it is that tall building? There?
Me: Yes.
ITC: We will try it then.
Me: (walks away)

For all my complaints about tourists with giant maps (that they’re usually checking on the crowded Metro car), the ones WITHOUT maps are even worse. Gah.

Happy Friday.