Saturday, March 25, 2006

Makeup Drama: Part II

Mom, if you think the funniest things happen to me, just read this.

Around 7:30 tonight Benefit Guy calls me to go out for dinner and next thing I know I'm driving his Mercedes to downtown Annapolis. It was like I didn't have a choice; my body was transported to the mall and I met him and next thing I know we're in the car and I'm in the driver's seat.

I should say a few words about the Mercedes. It was the first time I've ever ridden in a Mercedes, much less driven one, and it wasn't really anything to write home about, although that's what I'm doing, so apparently it is. The gas pedal was too hard to push, and the brake pedal was too easy to push, and I must have seemed like a very bad driver. And we were listening to rap so I couldn't tell if I was being honked at in real life or if it was just the weird background effects.

We walked around for a while, bewildered at the lameness/preppiness/yuppiness/ upper-middle-class boringness of Annapolis' nightlife, then decided on a place called aqua terra (yes, it's all lower case). We got a bottle of Pinot Noir (!), he had a salmon steak served with mashed potatoes and asparagus, and I wasn't hungry but got a crab bisque to be cooperative. I stole a peek at the bill (a major faux pas, I know, but I couldn't resist, and he didn't see) and it was $90.

Over dinner we talked about life in New York, abortion politics, God, and his family. His father passed away when he was 8 or so, and had 3 wives. He has like 8 half- and full brothers and sisters from all the wives. He said his father was Catholic, but the traditions of the culture made it so that he felt compelled to have more than one wife.

Dessert was creme brulee, my choice. I became slightly uncomfortable when I saw the heart-shaped mold it was served in, but it was delicious so I didn't really care. This is definitely a place that Mom, Dad, Sam, Rebecca, Gray, and any of my other friends would probably enjoy eating at and maybe we'll go there when you come visit me. Definitely a step up from the rest of the Annapolis eateries, which are mostly Irish pub/oyster bar places.

I may go to church with him in Baltimore tomorrow; I'm not sure. We'll see. If I do, I'm sure it will be an experience (the church's full name is Empowerment Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church or something like that--he's been once and said it was awesome but of course I'm a little nervous about it but I'm sure there's no reason to be) so you can expect to read about it sometime tomorrow afternoon. Then again I won't be surprised if I bail out and tell him I feel sick (not totally false, even though I'm predicting it, because my stomach hurt tonight) and do a Bible study on my own.

Grocery Drama Part II, Makeup Drama Part I

The short of it: I went shopping today.

The long of it follows.

Didn't buy anything at the first 3 stores I went in, as I was practicing trying things on and not buying anything. Then I went down to Hecht's, a department store that I don't think we have in Kentucky, and first looked at shoes but with no success. How is it possible for not one of the major retailers at the Annapolis mall to have one pair of sandals I both like and want to spend the money on? Everything was around $80. Where did I used to shop where I got sandals for $20 or $30? Oh yeah--Shoe Carnival. I wonder if they have those here.

Then I headed to purses, mulled around for another 20 minutes feeling really dejected and unsuccessful as I had at this point been at the mall for probably 2 hours without a single purchase. But all the purses were bad too.

On to the Benefit counter. For those not familiar with Benefit, it's a cosmetics brand characterized by quirky and witty products and packaging and really good products. I wanted to try their newest blush, called Dallas ("an outdoor glow for an indoor gal" ) and as I was walking up to the counter, I see a black man waving at me and motioning me over. He gushes something in an accent I didn't recognize about wanting to have a photo shoot with me and, caught a little off-guard, I try to play off the flattery by telling him I want to try Dallas. So he whips out the Dallas and a brush and hands it to me, and I douse my face in the stuff so I look pink and orange and ridiculous and I tell him I want to start over. So he says, "sit down, sit down!" and begins a near makeover on me, starting with my brows.

I didn't really understand who he was because usually at Benefit (and everywhere else I guess) there's a couple tastefully makeup-ed girls standing behind the counter sort of bored, and here was this enthusiastic black man with an accent putting makeup all over me and telling me he wanted to have a photo shoot.

I find out that he's the regional representative for Benefit in the Baltimore/Annapolis area and he just moved to Baltimore from New York City 8 months ago and is living with his cousin and cousin's wife until he gets an apartment, and doesn't know anyone here, and that in New York he did makeup for Christian Dior, Givenchy, all kinds of other designers I can't remember, and that now he travels around for Benefit. Oh, and that he's 30, from Nigeria and is in school to become a radiologist.

Of course this whole time I'm just rapt with the whole ordeal, an interesting and glamorous man from Nigeria giving me a makeover and profusely complimenting my beauty and how he wants to take pictures of me. And then he actually got out his camera phone and played with the lighting and spent about 10 minutes taking the best quality camera phone pictures as possible. My car keys were laying on the counter and he asked me what sort of car I drove--at this point I had been there at least an hour and we were basically best buddies--and I told him a Saturn (feeling very practical) and asked him what he drove. A black Mercedes, of course.

Then he decided he wanted to go to lunch. Being a very spontaneous person, I agree, and we go down to California Pizza Kitchen at the other end of the mall and have lunch. I asked to see pictures he had taken of his clients--he started to show me while we were still at Benefit--and he opened his phone and showed me pictures of people he had done makeup for at the Benefit counters and he remembered nearly everyone's name and their "story." Then came a picture of him standing with Vera Wang at the launch of her perfume.

Finished lunch, I refused to let him walk me to my car, he went back to work.

I couldn't resist going to Trader Joe's to see if my grocery-worker-future-boyfriend was there. He was there alright, bagging for the first lane. I didn't need any groceries and didn't know what to do, so I walked down the nut aisle and looked at some cashews and pistachios. I'm mulling about the almonds when he walks past me towards the dairy section, makes eye contact with me, and smiles and says hi. I think maybe he saw me come in and left bagging to come to dairy--close to nuts--and say hi to me. I wandered about trying to look purposeful for a little bit longer, picking up some random stuff (green peppers, peanut butter, string cheese, blackberries) to kill time and see if he would come talk to me. He didn't, but I think I may have caught him looking at me.

I got in line to pay. The cashier looked to be a lesbian so I figured she'd be a good one, since if I got a wild hair and left my phone number for him she, being a lesbian, wouldn't really care and would humor me and give him the number without any ado, but I chickened out and had no paper or pen so I paid and left. Went to Circuit City to debate going back and talking to him, then went to Marshall's where I got Burberry Brit for $3.99, a rain jacket, and a really ugly but "maybe I can make it cute" hawaiian shirt--and finally decided to come home and not go back and talk to him. The whole masochistic delaying of happiness and instead just anticipating things--and making him do the same--won out in the end. Plus now he'll look forward to going to work; bagging groceries must be a lot more exciting when you know your future girlfriend could walk in at any moment and talk to you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Potatoes, tabby, and a disappointing biophysicist

First thing this morning Boss B handed me some printouts on growing potatoes. It became my job today to get all the potatoes ready to go in the ground. I had no idea that unlike planting where you stick a seed in the ground, with potatoes you actually stick the potato in the ground and it grows new potatoes. What I learned from the printouts was this: When preparing tubers (new word for me--it means potatoes) for planting, cut ones that are smaller than a hen's egg (approx. 1-3 ounces) into sections with two or more eyes. To prevent bacteria and scabbing, toss the slices in a bag with a tablespoon of sulphur.

So Boss B sent me to the farm supply store and I got a bag of garden sulphur. FYI, garden sulphur doesn't smell like rotten eggs--it doesn't have any repulsive smell actually. Then I spent the next hour sitting on the back patio with in my authentic Gray Lawn Care sweatshirt, jeans, and sunglasses, with my iPod on, cutting potatoes in little pieces and tossing them in sulphur. We had to grind the pellets of garden sulphur up--and when Boss B couldn't find her mortar and pestle, and slamming a hammer into a Ziploc full of the pellets didn't work, she decided the best solution would be to grind them in a coffee grinder. It worked. (Photo: Helper B planting the potatoes)

Then I get the news I hoped I'd never hear...

I had to go to DC, and worse still, to The Parking Lot From Hell (TPLFH).

It got even worse, if that can be imagined. I had to go to Fairfax to get some paint stripper from Virginia Chemical, and somehow I got off on the wrong exit at Fairfax and all my directions suddenly became worthless and both Boss B and the man at Virginia Chemical kept telling me directions and everybody was wrong and I was about to drive the Suburban into a telephone pole. Finally I found it, with no thanks to the useless directions. If I found it I give myself all the credit for very geniously and intuitively finding my way and stumbling upon it.

The trip's saving grace: once I got into DC, I pulled into TPLFH but just as a teaser--(Foiled again, foul lot!)--I simply called Bill at EEOB and drove around the block while he came to meet me with a cart. Then I sped off, starving and within about 50 feet of 15 about different restaurants, but not willing to spend one more moment in DC than absolutely necessary.

When I got back it was time to burn oyster shells and make our tabby. (Tabby is an ancient form of mortar with big chunks of oyster shell in it, and Boss A was asked to make a replica of a tabby from a plantation in Sapelo Island in Georgia so that accurate historical repairs can be made.) Boss A said that burning oyster shells for lime was stopped about 100 years ago so I'm probably one of only a handfull of people alive who have seen this done. It didn't make a very good lime putty unfortunately, so Helper A thought he was a failure since he had done all the work authentically, down to chopping the wood for the fire. I told him the value was educational, not tangible.

I should add that Helper A is from a very small town in North Carolina. Today when we were at the oyster shell fire, he said it reminded him of when they used to burn chickens. I said, "WHAT?" and he explained that on his farm they had a big incinerator (he later referred to it simply as the "chicken burner"). they'd toss the chicken carcasses in, and when it was done all that was left was a big pile of really white bones.

To completely shift gears, tonight I went to Baltimore to see some bands: The M's and Dr. Dog, the latter of which was completely awesome although one of the singers had a condition that I like to call EBS (Ex Boyfriend Syndrome). A person has EBS if something about them--be it physical looks, guitar-playing style, etc--overwhelmingly reminds me of an Ex-Boyfriend and the effect is that I probably will have some trouble being impartial in respect to them. It is a rather unfortunate thing for a person to have EBS, but sadly it can't be avoided and there's nothing you can do about it.

Anyway at the show I had a somewhat lengthy and gratifying conversation with a really nice biophysics grad student at Johns Hopkins, but either he had a girlfriend or he had a common form of too-much-science-induced-nerdism and didn't know how to seal the deal with me. Anyway I told him I was gonna take off, we shook hands and said the nice-to-meet-yous, and that was it. Some things aren't meant to be.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Power tools, a real-life meet cute, and 30 wrinkle releasers.

Today:

Went to Baltimore to a place called WTS, Inc, which I found is called "We're Tool Specialists!" which I thought was very sweet and endearing. It was the sort of place in which I would love to work as long as I could sleep in every day and leave whenever I wanted. It had that great construction, sawdust, paint thinner, glue smell, and there was this really old woman who looked straight out of the '50s sitting at a desk with cookies and decaf coffee on it. The men who worked there were supernice, and although they were older and hairier than I would have liked (I was envisioning buff mid-twentysomethings who would be excited that a girl with lipstick on was coming into their grimy shop and I would meet my future husband), one of them was cool enough to demonstrate to me how durable and well-made the steel sawhorses I was ordering would be; apparently Trojan Tools really knows how to make one heck of a sawhorse.

Once I got back to Annapolis (after a not-so-slight detour in which I got lost inside BWI airport and drove through the whole terminal and tried to play off the fact that I wasn't actually dropping anyone off for a flight), I decided to go to this grocery tht the Bosses keep telling me to go to, called Trader Joe's. I had a cute and movielike experience there so I'll tell you about it.

I was standing there with my basket (the small kind that you carry in the crook of your arm) full of couscous, salad, and boxed nonperishable-type Indian entrees, etc, maybe 15 items total, in a line behind maybe 4 people with full carts or baskets. Across the store I see this pretty cute guy about my age who looked like someone I would like to date (honestly, you never know where you'll meet your future spouse so I believe you should always keep your eyes open--you should never miss an opportunity) motioning to me to come over to his lane. I didn't honestly think he was looking at me but after looking behind my shoulder to check, and looking back at him, I realized that he indeed was looking at me. I headed over to his lane, sort of excited because at the time I didn't realize he was opening a lane and I thought maybe he just wanted to talk to me.

So apparently he really was opening a lane, and a woman with a fully loaded grocery cart--I'm talking really fully nearly overflowingly loaded--steps in front of me and I see his face sort of fall. He had a moment of indecision where he glanced from me to her and back to me, and in that moment the woman became confused and said, "Oh, are you not opening this lane?" Then she saw me, and the guy said, "I am--but she [me] was in front of you." Clearly I was not in front--I was physically standing behind her or at least diagonal from her--but I think she got the point and moved out of the way and kept muttering about not wanting to cut in line or something. The boy was just kind of smiling and I think he may have winked at me but I'm not sure about that.

Then he sort of nervously asked me how I was, or "what's up?" in a very deliberately casual way, and I started responding, but the woman behind me reared her ugly head and asked me if I liked Indian food. (Obviously I like Indian food you idiot, my basket is full of it.)

Me: "Yes, I do, do you not?"
Ugly Head Rearer: "No, I don't."
Me (Trying to be really nice and accommodating while wanting to ignore her and talk to the boy who went out of his way to open a lane for me and stood up for me in front of the woman with the huge cart): "Are you a vegetarian? It's really good for eating vegetarian."
UHR: "No, I'm not. Years and years ago, gosh it must have been 20 years ago, I had this curry dish with egg and it just burned my mouth up. Gosh I can't eat curry. I haven't had Indian food since. I just can't eat that curry."
Me: "Yeah, you should probably try it again, this time without the egg."

Once I turned back around to the guy I realized that he was pretty flustered for some reason.
Him: "I think I just rang your Punjab up twice..Um...um.."
Me: "Oh."
Him: Um...
Me: ....
Him: "I'll just give you your cheese for free since I rang that up twice."
Me: "Ok, great."
Him: [Laughing]
Me: [nervously] "I think I got like 10 of [fruit leather]" [nervous quasi-counting]
Him: "Can you come sign this?"
Me: [clumsily manuevering to the other side of the counter--apparently I'd been standing in the wrong place the whole time--entering pin number--checking cash back amount]
Him: [handing me the money]
Me: "Thanks."
Him: "You're welcome."
Me: "Have a good day."
Him: "Did you get your money?"
Me: "Yeah, you gave it to me [like ten seconds ago], it's great."
Him: "Oh." [laughing] "OK, see you later."

Wow, how hilarious, how endearing, how only-in-movies, or else how-everyday. I'm not sure which it is, but whatever happened there in Trader Joe's it totally made my day. I think I'll go back on Saturday to see if he's working and try to figure out a charming way to talk to him.


Tonight:

Took shower, got in PJs, lit candle, listening to Neko Case, and Boss B comes in to ask me if I've eaten dinner and inform me that Bosses A and C have gotten into town and want to go eat dinner. Not one to turn down dinner, I sort of halfheartedly agree and put on some clothes.

So we went to this place called Jalapeno's which was the nicest and most elegant Mexican restaurant I've ever been to. Apparently Boss A is buddies or something with the owner so we were sort of treated like VIPs. Boss A ordered a bottle of wine so we all shared it and that was fun, and it was just a jovial time. The mole was unlike mole I've ever had (I've probably been eating cheap skeazy hole-in-the-wall- Mexican-type mole this whole time and this was my first taste of an authentic high-quality mole) and it was really spicy and had a lot of cinnamon. Of course Boss A picked up the tab. It's neat to go out to an expensive dinner with a bottle of wine on the table and expensive good food and linen napkins and everyone dressed up, and not have to pay for anything, and have my bosses waited on hand and foot. I think I could get used to that.

When we got home it was after 10, and I sat at the kitchen table with Boss A and told him about the boy at Trader Joe's, and also how I went to Nordstrom earlier and the most flamboyantly gay man I'eve ever seen (and when I say flamboyant I mean highlighted and curled hair, more makeup than me, which I must say was not very tastefully applied and he could have used some oil blotting sheets or at least a touchup of powder) was working the Kiehl's counter and gave me lke 30 samples of wrinkle and line-erasing cream, and one sample of shampoo.

The world is a very strange and enchanting place, a fact that is daily reaffirmed for me.

Stories from the front. No really.

I had a pretty interesting day yesterday, so I'll tell you about it.

Yesterday I had to go into DC to deliver some supplies to the EEOB (Eisenhower Executive Office Building). But I don't have security clearance, of course, so I could get nowhere near the building. The plan was for me to come into DC, call the man taking the supplies into the building--we'll call him Bill--once I got to Constitution Ave, and then park on the curb in front of the Cosi across the street from EEOB and he would come meet me with a cart and take the supplies.

Got lost--of course--getting to Constitution, but once I turned on the street I pulled out my cell phone, with total disregard for the law (actually I just plain didn't remember it) in DC where you aren't alowed to talk on your cell phone while driving uniless you have a headset. So Bil answers, I say hi, and then I pull up to a roadblock where a lady policeman yells at me for being on the phone and tells me it's a $100 fine and that I need to get off the phone immediately unless I have a headset. I mumble something about meeting someone at the White House, where of course I wasn't going, oops, and speed off, still on the phone, and tell Bill I'll be there in 10 minutes.

Find the Cosi, park, and he takes the first load of supplies by hand as he doesn't have a cart. He tells me to go park somewhere on the block and I find a nice spot in an area designated for motorcycles. I figured I'd move it if a policeman or a motorcyclist came along. So I sit in the car nervous for about 20 minutes until Bill returned and told me I had parked right in front of a Secret Service vehicle. He said you can usually tell if it's a really shiny black SUV and then you look on the dash and see a "Special Vehicle" tag. I kind of wanted to take a picture but figured I'd probably get arrested or something.

But Bill was cartless upon his return, and said he wasn't going to take any more stuff because he was spending his whole day making trips. I told him I wasn't leaving without calling Boss B cause she would yell at me if I came home without all the supplies physically going into the EEOB.

So she talks to him for about 10 minutes and he can't get a word in edgewise, then he tells me to go park in this garage. What he neglected to tell me was that all the garage workers are insane hispanic men who yell at people like me and that the garage is a seedy "don't leave your valuables in your car because we sure as heck aren't responsible for them and honestly you're pretty much screwed anyway by the simple fact that you picked this garage, you idiot" place. So what do I do? Leave my digital camera sitting on the console, with the window rolled all the way down. As I tried to put the keys back in the ignition to roll up the window and protect my valuables, the hispanic man taking over my car yells at me to get out of the car and leave the keys in and that he'll "take care of it." Good God, I hoped so.

Bill and I unloaded the supplies on the curb outside the garage, the car got parked (passive voice used there because I have no idea how it got parked or who parked it, but I'm assuming it got parked somehow), and I sat on a concrete planter (and got splinters from the cedar bush) next to the paint stripper, saw horses, and some sort of mayonnaiselikecontainer filled with some sort of alcohol and waited for him to get back and rescue me. When he came up the sidewalk with a cart, I stood up and did the "hurrah!" signal with my arms in the air. Went back into the garage, paid the nice hispanic lady at the desk, and mulled about not knowing what to do but assuming someone was bringing my car. Finally it came up the ramp and someone I had never seen before stepped out of my car. I don't know what the tipping protocol is but I was sure not going to tip those crazy people. At a rate like $8 for anything under an hour, that's the most expensive parking space I've ever had before, especially since the parking garage was overfilled at a ratio of about 1:3 (one legit car to 3 haphazardly stuffed in cars)so they were making way too much money off that godforsaken place anyway.

Anyway everything was fine. Camera, supplies, everything. I'm never going back to that parking lot again, and I told Boss A that it was one of the worst experiences of my life and he promised me that he'll have Boss B yell at them for it next time she goes there.

Miscellaneous stories

I'm going to Baltimore today to this tool supplier called WTS. I have to take this huge machine to get it replaced. We almost had a disaster or a very small-scale battle this morning as Bosses A and B tried to get it into the trunk of my car. At one point Boss A threw it on the ground and Boss B yelled at him because it weighs like 80 pounds or something. Anyway, it's in the trunk and I'm off to take it to be repaired in a few minutes. Then later working on website stuff. Bosses A and B went to M. today to make a big presentation to the VIPs there--so there will either be a big celebration tonight or something in the manner of very depressed people sitting around in sadness, or something in the manner of very angry people sitting around in anger.

Last night Boss C and I went to eat at Mexican Cafe. If you think La Fiesta Grande in Frankfort is a dive, man, you ain't seen nothin yet. If you combined the flavor and festivity of La Fiesta with the general griminess of Common Grounds with the decor of a 1980s mobile home, you'd get Mexican Cafe. (I've had reports that several of you have been laughing at me for describing what I've had to eat at various restaurants so I'll quit doing that, which I personally believe is unfortunate because food is the pathway to my soul, or something like that, and besides, I like to talk about food and I think it's interesting to hear about meals, but it's your loss I guess.)

Anyway the whole point of telling you that Boss C and I went to dinner is to say that we had some good conversations. His daughter is bipolar so (over margaritas) we talked about depression science--brain scans, medication, the theory among some psychiatrists that thinking happy thoughts actually makes you happier as evidenced in brain scans of people thinking happy thoughts. Although I think that's a nice idea, I personally think that requires too much effort and if someone had told me to think happy thoughts when I was going through a really rough time, I probably would have screamed at them or started bawling or something. That is just not what a sad person wants to hear. I would personally rather simply take a pill than sit down and force myself to think happy thoughts. Then again maybe I should give it a try, but I'm doing pretty well right now with pills, thank you very much.

Then Boss C said that he feels like what goes on at Boss B's house is sort of like a modern version of a 1960s hippie commune. I asked him to explain, and he said, "Well, aside from the big organic farm you all are making there, Boss B has this big house, with people coming and going, sitting around and discussing ideas, how to make the world a better place, how to do things right, the morality of things, and so on [his signature phrase]," and then I added, "And how she doesn't use a diswasher." I don't think he got the joke, but I guess it was rather poorly executed, and it wasn't really a joke, it was more like a tease. I guess I haven't told you that Boss B doesn't use a dishwasher...

...So one day Boss B and I were discussing the guy who owns this house, and she said that he's a millionaire but like most millionaires, very thrifty. She told me that the dryer really needs to be fixed but that his wife basically wants us to use it until it completely bites the dust. I added, "Yeah, kind of like how he needs to fix the dishwasher." And she said, "Oh, the dishwasher works fine." I, of course, thought SO YOU MEAN I'VE BEEN DOING DISHES IN THE SINK ALL THIS TIME WHEN THE DISHWASHER WORKS?! After she told me that she just doesn't like to use dishwashers, I started to feel like I shouldn't have to wash the dishes. Why should I be penalized just because she doesn't like to use a dishwasher? But of course, it's really just the principle of the thing. I don't mind doing dishes, and I don't want Boss B to have to do my dishes. Still, I had a talk with Boss A about this yesterday and he suggested that we have a vote to start using the dishwasher.

Now off to Baltimore. Luckily I don't have to go to DC today, like I did yesterday...more on that later.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm wild again, beguiled again...

It was a slow-moving day today. Bosses A and B headed to DC (EFG...) to meet with some VIPs, and Boss C was here all day working on a model. He was pretty stressed out so I just sort of sat in the living room and tried to stay out of his hair. I worked on a few items in the office, nothing terrifically exciting.

I'm making banana bread right now and watching American Idol. My favorite has got to be Mandisa--but Taylor Hicks is growing on me. I used to like Katherine McPhee but I don't feel like she's as genuine. I get this feeling that talking about American Idol in some way lowers my credibility to talk about other subjects. On the other hand, most of this blog has been about what I do at work or on special days like the weekend, but at some point we have to face up to what I do on typical evenings. American Idol on Tuesdays, reading the rest of the week. That's about it.

So I'll keep talking about American Idol. Tonight they're doing songs from the '50s. I wonder what I would do if I was on the show. I know...I would pick "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" from the 1957 movie Pal Joey if that counted.

Off to check on my bread!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Most Interesting Sunday

After my fourteen hour night of sleep, I was ready for a big day. This meant going downtown via Annapolis Public Transit bus and eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant (so far I haven't been to many) in Annapolis. Then I went across the street to 49 West, a "coffee shop and wine bar," and the waitress I got is the same one I got last time, and she is JPNG (Just Plain Not Good). I only read about a third of the pages I could have read (in Centennial by James Michener) had I not had to stare her down repeatedly in order to get more coffee. If the waitresses don't want to give refills, maybe they should get bigger coffee cups, or else charge less. For $2, most people want more than 4 ounces of coffee.

Then I walked down to the cd store. For such a small store, it's pretty good. I got a couple used CDs--10% off!--and the new Neko Case. And THEN I went to the Hard Bean and Booksellers where I bought a copy of Chesapeake by James Michener--10% off!--and had my first experience with TBT (The Bathroom Token). As I paid for my book I had to ask for a bathroom token, which was smaller than a dime and made out of gold plastic I think, and after I paid for my book I realized that I had already lost the thing. I had to put it in the door for the door to open, and once I was inside I was faced with the really weird screwlike handle/lock mechanism which I couldn't figure out, and luckily the guy next to use the bathroom knocked first.

So THEN I walked around, tried on some multiple-hundred- dollar shirts which I could just not justify buying--there are starving kids in the world--how do people justify spending that much on a shirt? The Hammond Harwood House was nearly nextdoor so I stopped to snag a couple shots of what is purportedly the most famous doorway in America. Wandered down to the Naval Academy but was afraid I'd get sniped or something if I tried to go in, so I didn't.

(Here I'll omit the part about the high school girl in town for a swim meet asking me where the gift shops were and me leading her on foot all the way to some street that was most definitely not West Street, pointing her in that direction, and telling her it was West Street, after which she went in the opposite direction to find her grandmother to go back to "West Street" for some souvenirs. Haha/oops.)

Back at the bus stop, I sat next to a sixtysomething black man who told me he worked 7 days a week and worked really hard. He asked me if I worked, and after I told him I did, he laughed and asked if I worked in an office. Feeling like I should defend myself as a worker, I said "sometimes, sometimes not," and he assured me that he works harder than I do. Then Mom called and asked if I saw a lot of black people in Annapolis, and I muttered "Yes" and changed the subject. There are definitely a lot of black people here. They keep the city running so that all the rich white people can come spend three hundred dollars on a shirt on the weekends.

Annapolis is the least hip town I've ever been to. I've given up on trying to maintain any semblance of the hipster lifestyle I enjoyed in Lexington in this city full of chain everything and apparently no good local music scene to speak of, and when you go into a coffee shop you have to use a token for the bathroom, or if you go into another coffee shop the mean waitress ignores you.

I just don't know about stuff sometimes.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Sugar Incident & Other Stories


Two nights ago I went into DC because a buddy of my friend Anne Louise was in town, and I had remarked to this person my desire to get out of Annapolis and come hang out in DC, and as I'm an acquaintance of my buddy's buddy it seemed like the perfet opportunity for me to come. We went to eat at this place called the Hawk and Dove and all had fish and chips (seems like it should be fish n' chips, no?), it being St. Patrick's day and all. Then we hiked down to Union Station, got some Starbuckses, and went to I don't really know where to this party of I don't really know whose. Something about someone Anne Louises's coworker/friend knows, or something, ,maybe having to do with Truman Scholars or the University of Georgia, I'm really not sure. (Photo: me and Jessica -the buddy- at Hawk and Dove.)

Anyway at this party were about 25 people who didn't seem to know each other. It could have been a scene from a movie, that stereotypical party scene where the protagonists arrive, not really knowing what to expect, and sort of sit in a corner, miserable, but laughing at everyone else there because that's the most fun thing to do. There was the requisite RTG (Really Tall Girl), the RO&LDG (Really Obnoxious & Loud Drunk Girl), the RRNKs (Really Really Nerdy Kids--wait, that was nearly everyone there), the RRMAL (Really Random Middle Aged Woman), and friends of all the above.

Anne Louise may have said it the best when she said it was a "Total White People's Party." The following characteristics made it that: the veggie plate, the failure to dim any lights whatsoever, the absence of music, the Christmas lights, the St. The RO&LDG sort of dominated the whole party. I think she goes down in history as the most annoying person I've ever been in the same room with in my life. Mainly it was her voice that was awful--at one point, about 7 people standing around me were laughing in disbelief that someone's voice could actually be that paintful to the ear. I seriously can't even describe it. (Photo: pictoral proof of the lameness of the party. The look on my face should tell all.)

Notice I said it was "mainly" her voice that was so annoying. The fact that at one point she went into the kitchen and flipped a spoonfull of sugar into the living room--landing mostly on me--added considerably to her level of awfulness. Anne Louise said of the incident, and I nearly quote:

"I saw her pick up the spoon and fill it with sugar, and I saw the awful look on her face like she might be up to something. Then I saw her pick up the spoon and sort of get it into position, but I thought, 'No way. She really isn't doing that.' Then she raised the spoon and tilted it back, but I still didn't think she could actually be doing that. And then she did it. I still didn't really think that actually happened even after it happened. I just didn't think anyone would actually do that."

We later dubbed it "The Sugar Incident."

Next day we went to brunch at Bread and Chocolate (I had a delicious avocado omelet and way too many pieces of bread) and then to Eastern Market, and finally over to Georgetown for a day of walking around. It was not really as charming as I expected it would be, but that's probably cause there were just SDMP (So Daggone Many People) in the way everywhere. And everyone was SDR (So Daggone Rich). I was just sort of appalled by everything. I'd like to go over on a non-weekend day and explore a bit more and try to find the more out-of-the-way shops. (Photo: random pic of Georgetown houses.)

On the way out of town, I saw a flea market to my left and at the last minute decided to turn around, because I can't resist a good flea market. I sort of got the feeling that maybe I wasn't in a real good area when I got out of the car and some guy shoved a gold (?) necklace in my face and muttered something about it not being very much money or something, and then I heard some really ghetto music pumping really loud, and realized that the flea market was more like a really big garage sale for the 'hood. Not good. I called mom on my cell phoneto play off the fact that I walked past it and turned right around, like I meant to do that and wasn't dissing the flea market, and also for some guise of business so I wouldn't get mugged. Good going, Erin, glad you know how to handle sticky situations.

After a couple days like those, the only solution was a 14-hour night's sleep. How refreshed was I this morning? PDR (Pretty Daggone Refreshed).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

You know you're having a good day when...

The day was off to a good start as Boss B returned from the grocery around 8 this morning with lots of food and, most importantly, coffee. Boss A wasted not a moment in opening the ice cream and having a sample--and when I say sample I mean three bowls full. Only fair really: three types of ice cream, three samples. So around the kitchen table, the Bosses and I tried to plan the day. There was a little arguing as usual, with nobody knowing what to do with me, so it was decided that it would be useful for me to go on a road trip with Boss A and try to learn some stuff.

I got to go with Boss A today down to what we'll call the 'Car Wreck Building" for nearly literal reasons. Boss A had to meet with these bigwig preservation attorneys on the site, so I sat in his RNP (Really Nice Pickup) and tried to make a table on Microsoft Word. The result of my efforts, sadly, was not a table; rather, it was the realization that under no circumstances should I ever be allowed to touch a computer. i was trying to make this basic table of the seeds that we need to order for the heritage garden, and I sat there for an hour and a half and once I had a pretty good table going, all the lines spontaneously rearranged themselves and I spent another 20 minutes trying to get everything lined back up. What I ended up with was an upside down and inverted L-shaped table, with the headings going all the way across, but no lines underneath a third of the table. What a failure. I don't even know if Boss B wanted a table--she may have wanted just a simple list of the seeds to order. Then again, if I had made a list, she would have wanted a table, and I'm sure would have made one in about 5 minutes that would have been way better in every way than the completely dysfunctional failure of a table I spent an hour and a half on.

Then Boss A and I went out for lunch to this restaurant attached to a hotel. Usually I would not step foot in a hotel restaurant unless it was the Waldorf-Astoria or Seelach or whatever, but Boss A seemed to remember this restaurant as being good when he ate at another location in another town. There was an interesting looking hole-in-the-wall seafood joint next door that would probably have been better. If it had been anyone else but my boss, I would have insisted upon the HITW because I think that's from whence the delightful garlic breeze was coming, but I thought he probably wanted to eat at this place for sentimental reasons and the food didn't really matter. Anyway it was a totally typical hotel (actually I think motel may be more accurate) restaurant: cheesy decor, past-their-prime waitressses. Ours had about the heaviest and stripiest brown eyeshadow and liner that I have ever seen, and she was about 55. Regretfully I didn't order any of the AMSD (Apparent Maryland State Dessert), bread pudding. The menu said it was homemade, but in retrospect it's probably better that I passed.

This afternoon I spent a couple hours going through voice recorders and trying to delete old files and transcribe others. I stumbled onto one funny conversation in which Boss A was comparing his belt hangdowns to holsters--a cell phone on one side, an iPod on the other. He whipped the cell phone out of the "holster" and "shot" me when I reminded him of the conversation after I listened to it this afternoon. I work for the best people in the world, I'm telling you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Nautical wheelers call themselves sailors..."

Everything moved a bit slower for us here at the office today. The reason: We're out of Cokes. No Diet Coke, no Coke, no Sam's Choice cola!(No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey hash! Turkey a la king! Gallons of turkey soup! Gone, all gone!) I'm even out of coffee. The Bosses don't brew coffee much so I couldn't even snag a cup of theirs. Around 2 this afternoon, Boss A realized I was struggling and he offered to make me an iced coffee. Turns out the coffee was like three weeks old. We really were struggling around here today. I took a nap, and I usually can't nap here during the day. Boss A and I went to the gym mid-day; we can't get Boss B to go with us. I've got to get in shape before the cruise (around 2 weeks! yikes!)--OK, I realize that isn't going to happen. I think I will start Weight Watchers after the cruise--but before then, just try to eat healthily and try to make it to the gym a few times a week.

I rearranged my room on Tuesday. I used to have piles and piles of boxes and clothes and bags everywhere around the room, but now it's relatively organized and straight. And most importantly, I rearranged my bed so it is no longer touching the wall. I cannot sleep very well if I can't access the bed from both sides. Now I have good access to my bedside table, and I can sleep on either side of the bed without feeling like I'm laying against a wall. It's wonderful.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Introduction to the Bosses

I'll tell you a little about the people I work for. Fox should make a reality TV show out of this. It would be hilarious.

Boss A is the main man, the guy the company is named for. He is a combination of Dr. Rowland and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Since no one reading this knows Dr. Rowland, let me try to describe Boss A. He wears dock shoes a lot. (Why is this the only thing I can think of?) He doesn't eat sugary stuff if he can help it, although today he and Boss B sent me into Starbucks and I came out with a chocolate donut and a scone and he said, 5 minutes later, guiltily but smug, "I ate all the food." Tonight he brought over half of an $80 bottle of wine that he got for his birthday and he gave it to me and Boss B, telling us to finish it tonight because it's an 89 vintage and won't be good tomorrow, and I feel bad because we each had a small glass and there is definitely a whole glass left. I thought about pouring it out to make it look like I drank it, but I don't have the heart. It was his birthday wine and this glass is worth $20. I don't know what to do with it. But back to the point. Boss A lot like me in some ways: doesn't get really worked up, isn't good with details, lots of time doesn't know what's going on. But he's brilliant when it comes to this work. I'd trust no one else to work on my house if I had something really great.

Boss B is Boss A's assistant/partner/whatever you wanna call it. They insist that this business is "flexible" and they don't have strict titles, per se. Boss B is about the polar opposite of Boss A in personality. She's Rebecca, whereas Boss A is me. Boss B is very detail-oriented, very on top of things, and she too doesn't like to eat sugary stuff. She works all the time--I don't think she ever takes a minute off. I've never seen her bedroom and I live with her--I don't think she has one. I doubt she ever sleeps. She's the gears that make this business run.

Boss C is the enigma. He is the stereotypical crazy architect. I've only met him on two or three occasions, but I've picked up some things. He marches to his own drum completely. He's brilliant. He's frustrating. He's on his own schedule and you just have to deal with it if it doesn't correspond to yours. He loves Lord of the Rings. And he can "read a house better than anyone in the country."



Then there's me.

Barns.

Today I went around the county with my bosses to look at...you got it...barns! The state of Maryland has this new campaign to SAVE OUR OLD BARNS or something like that, and they're providing matching funds up to $10,000 for people to repair their barns. The catch (of course there's a catch!) is that the barn owner has to pay the whole cost up front, and if the state approves the work that was done, they'll match the funds.


This is the earliest barn we saw today--it was built in the late 1700s. I learned about wrought nails as opposed to square nails, wire nails, etc. When I first saw that barn, I thought, "What a disaster..why bother?" But the house on the property is from the early 1800s so it would be pretty neat to have a really old barn.

Here are some photos of some other stuff I saw today:


This one was really huge. Inside it was really nice. From the outside, the barns all looked sort of junky, very weathered, etc, but from the inside they were absolutely beautiful and very pristine.



This is a house that they've been working on for a while. It was built in the mid-1700s and I absolutely love it. It's way out in the country and she's got gardens and woods and it is absolutely the most beautiful setting. I told her I wanted to move in.