Sunday, December 9, 2007

Home?

The rain washed away the dessert dust from my shoes. Scrub bushes were replaced by office buildings. Herds of antelope anxiously running along the road were replaced by herds of anxious commuters driving erratically in the winter slush. Blue skies and dark, star filled nights that made you ache to write poetry were replaced with the claustrophobic mix of office buildings and crowded freeways. I am back from a weeklong business trip. Is my warm, dirty apartment home, or is it like the old saying and “Where I lay my head is home?”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Blogoversary

A friend and coworker had just convinced the boss to allow her to start up a company blog. Curiously I decided to contribute to this “new” medium and wrote a lighthearted industry piece late one Sunday night. With trepidation I handed it out at our Monday morning staff meeting. The response was enthusiastic from almost everyone. Due to some internal politics, that piece would never be posted, but I was encouraged and encouraged more by my friend, who kindly offered me a guest spot on her blog. My first post, a piece on Al Gore that referenced global warming, Terminator 2, and the fact that there were “No term limits for mediocrity,” amazingly got picked up by the Washington Post Express website and made me start thinking about doing this on a regular basis.

My first post on my own blog was just shy of one year ago. In that time period I’ve met new friends, and showed old friends a side of me that they had not seen before. Most importantly I’ve just enjoyed writing. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Discovered that I was not in fact Scottish: What’s in a heritage?
Almost died while exercising: Dying trying
A day of moving wrecked by an oversight: Case study: Bursting of an Ego
Proposed a nacho litmus test for friendship: Get Fit or Die Trying, Post-Holiday Edition
Got hit on by the local DNC: Political Ambiguity
Gave some useful advice for Valentines day: Happy Singles Awareness Day!
Proposed betting on the likelihood of friends’ breakups: It must be something in the water
Fumed about my drumming roommate: Dr. StrangeDrum: Or How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the Beat
Because a Saturday night just isn’t the same without beer, guns, and Asian hookers: Weekend Recap Part 2: Saturday Night, Beer, Guns, and Asian Hookers
Do you know how many people are still stumbling across my site because of this post?: Dennis Kucinich is an American Hero (and a player!)
Almost died while eating: Salmon in a Pouch
Was preached to by an ax murderer: Moral teachings from an Axe Murderer, Part 1
Changed jobs and left DC…for N.VA: I will miss DC
Proposed a ranking system for nerds: Are you a nerd?
Received my first marriage proposal from a fellow blogger: I’ll have a beer, and “The Final Countdown”
The roommate stops drumming just long enough to parade around the house in his tight underwear: Why Matt will be taking advantage of his insurance in the future

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Melancholy

We gathered around the table at our dive bar and sipped our beers.

Goodbye to close family. Goodbye to close friends. Goodbye to the dive bar. Everything must end someday, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m going to miss you friend. I’m going to miss you dive bar. Everything must end someday, but it shouldn’t be ending right now.

We gathered around the table at our dive bar and sipped our beers.

Fond memories. Where did time go? We never thought things would change.

Reassuring smiles. What will we do without you? I never think things will change.

I sipped my beer. You all sipped yours. We sang our Bon Jovi. We cracked our dumb jokes. We raised up our glasses. We called it a night.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

History Lesson

Stu slid off the rock with all intentions being to land on two feet. Instead, his right foot pushed through the brambles, uncovering a small hole in the mountain face. With one swift motion, his heels dug into the rock, pushing the rest of his body backwards and slightly upwards, before he landed hard on the stone ground.

He sat there quietly stunned for a moment. His uncharacteristic silence made me wonder if he had seriously hurt himself. After a few more moments, he spoke. “Whew!” he exclaimed, before pulling himself up, while favoring his right shin.

Atop Little Round Top, in Gettysburg, PA, we dubbed that newly uncovered narrow crevice, “Stu’s Hole.” Before we left that spot, I had the fortune to warn another of the danger. A little kid, no older than 7 or 8 years old wove in and out of the rocks with a toy rifle in hand; playing soldier. As he came upon us, I decided against giving him a lecture on irony, and instead fixed him a stern glare. In as serious a tone as I could muster I said, “Hey! Be careful. That’s Stu’s Hole right there.”

With a snide tone that I imagine he usually reserved for annoying grownups, he shot back, “Yeah, I know!” and promptly scampered off.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Profile

Politics, satire, religion and useless trivia, from an obsessive compulsive, transplanted southerner, former conservative, agnostic, self admitted nerd living across the river.

Yep, that’s what the profile says, and I really haven’t been following this that well. So I figure in one fell swoop of my blog I shall satisfy all requirements:

Politics
I watched a little bit of the Republican debate tonight. Huckabee seemed like the most intelligent, rationale candidate, which as one of my friend’s pointed out is exactly why he won’t win in the primaries. I still have no clue how I’ll vote come the election.

Satire
As documented in this blog, I switched jobs back in the summer. Some of you may be wondering what it is that I do now. Well, I heard cats for a living. It can be a challenge at times, keeping the herd together. They’ll go their own way, or they’ll get into it with each other, and before you know it, the fur is flying. Most weeks I’m lucky, and I come away with just a few scrapes. Other weeks, it’s more serious gashes. It’s an expected job hazard. Anyone who tells you differently is spinning a good yarn.

Useless trivia
First person to tell me the name of the artist and song that is played at the end of the Michael Mann thriller Heat will win a free shot/beverage of choice next time I see you/make it to a blogger’s happy hour.

Obsessive compulsive
Thankfully my little neurosis has not managed to manifest itself in my blog. I must make sure that this never happens. I must not let it happen…

Transplanted southerner
It is a crime against humanity that I can’t get decent BBQ up here. A weekend trip to North Carolina has briefly satisfied my cravings, but at the expense of one of my friend’s having to see me stuff minced pork and hushpuppies in my face. It was not pretty, but oh it was soooo good.

Former conservative
Is it bad that I’m actually considering voting for Hillary?

Agnostic
The things that make me think that there might be a god are not found in the Bible.

Self admitted nerd
I’ve posted Star Wars references, and lolcats pictures amongst other things. I’ve definitely justified my nerd status in past posts.

Living across the river
Yup, that’s still me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

He looked strangely familar...

I scooted off the barstool and wearily made my way to the men's room. With eyes diverted to the ground I rounded the corner and came across a man in a blue shirt standing a few feet in front of me.

As I approached the door, the man stayed his course, walking right towards me. I stepped right to get out of his way, and he stepped left, blocking my way. I kept moving forward, but took a step left to avoid running into him. He stepped right, putting himself directly in front of me again. With eyes still looking downward, I took another step and slammed into a glass mirror. Feelings of annoyance quickly changed to embarrassment, and I glanced up to see my reflection sheepishly looking back at me.

Is work rough for you? Is life throwing a lot at you? Well, take a second and laugh. 'Cause if I can laugh about almost knocking myself out with a mirror, you can laugh at all the stupid things in your life too.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday along the Potomac

I pushed some shoeboxes aside, pulled out the white scale, and looked at it with unease. I’ve slacked off recently with exercising, and the last few months I haven’t been eating healthy either. I nervously stepped on, and the numbers started counting up…past what I had been last time I weighed myself. They kept going, hitting 200, then 300, as my eyes widened in disbelief, and I began to panic.

I woke up. I would be lying if I said it was in a cold sweat, but nonetheless I was disturbed. Rarely do I have nightmares that clear, and recently I have been having dreams/nightmares that relate to specific parts of my life. I took it as a sign to get off my ass.

On Sunday I headed out for a walk along the Virginia side of the Potomac, starting at Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Park with my main goal being Theodore Roosevelt Island. With a camera and some tunes, I put in about 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise, walking and exploring. Am I ready to compete in fitness competitions? No. Am I still a lazy, fat ass? Yes. But it’s a start…and I got some photos out of it.

Get off your ass and explore my island!



Monday, September 17, 2007

News to me

I got back from my mini-vacation just over a week ago, but already it is far away in the past. The sunny afternoons, crashing waves, and cool nights were too brief. Much like my marriage.

We arrived at a small beachfront property on Friday. My friend’s family rents the property, and we would be sharing the space with his grandmother and some other family members.

My friend, his wife, and her friend arrived and immediately set about getting settled. It was predetermined that I would take the couch in the living room, and my friend, his wife, and her friend would take one of the bedrooms, which they also happened to be sharing with his grandmother. We all failed to notice the first sign that something was amiss, when his grandmother kept insisting that she would sleep on the couch, so that I could be in the bedroom, and “we could all be together.”

It wasn’t until later that evening out to dinner with the three of them that my friend broke the news from a telephone conversation he had just had with his aunt. “My grandmother thinks you and ______ are married.”

I nearly spewed wine from mouth. My friend’s wife’s friend (Ok, this is getting too complicated, let me just steal a page from the No Sex and the City girls, and call her “Notmywife”) lowered her head uncomfortably. The table was briefly silent save for the sound of snow-crab legs being snapped.

“Wait, what?!”

“She thinks you two are married. You know how she’s become as she’s gotten older. She gets things confused. I’ve told my aunt to assure her that you two are just friends.”

Well that certainly explained her actions from earlier, and also the odd looks she was giving Notmywife and I. The two of us laughed uncomfortably, endured the jokes from my friend and his real wife, made some jokes of our own, and ultimately chalked it up as just one more crazy part of our expected Dewey beach experience.

I cracked a crab leg, sipped my glass of wine, and smiled.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Running

It’s a familiar justification for a vacation. Work is kicking your ass. You need to get away from the daily grind for a little bit. Some sun, some friends, some adult beverages. It’ll make it all better. You just need to get away from it all. “It all” being work of course.

But what happens when that’s not really the case? When work is fine. When sometimes work seems to be the only thing going right in your life? When you actually find yourself not wanting to go home. You obviously need to get away from something. It’s ok to run away from work. But the rest of life…not so much.

I’m running to the beach…and I don’t care.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why Matt will be taking advantage of his insurance in the future

I was greeted by what looked to be a Wookie wearing a pair of briefs. A green pair of briefs. A tight pair of green briefs. I stepped away from the door hesitantly and…

Don’t you hate joining a conversation mid-story?

Ok, let me start from the beginning. It was an experience that happened 3 weeks ago, and I have only now gotten over my trauma to speak about it.

I had just sprained my ankle, or so said the experts, aka my nurse friend from Richmond, who just happened to be visiting me the night the sidewalk and I had an altercation, and my roommate, a surgeon of some sorts. The experts opinion: Probably not broken, probably sprained, would need an X-ray to confirm. Fuck that I say, a “medical probably” is good enough for me.

A few days later the ankle is still as big as a melon. I begin to regret my cocky attitude from just days before. My nurse friend has returned to Richmond. I hurriedly seek out my surgeon roommate.

I knock on his door and announce my presence. “Come in,” he says.

I begin to open the door only to see him sitting in a chair, completely naked save for the described tiny pair of underwear. I back away from the door, unsure whether I have heard him right.

“Come in,” he repeats. I am already committed. I tentatively step through the doorway into his room.

A mantra begins in my head. “You have been in a locker room before. You are mature. You have been in a locker room before. You are mature.”

As he grabs and pokes my foot and ankle, pain shoots through my lower body. It is a welcome distraction. Second diagnosis: Probably still not broken, probably still sprained, probably would need an X-ray to confirm. “I could take you to the hospital and get it X-rayed for you, if you’d like.” Fuck that I say to myself, thank him for his time as I leave his room and immediately seek out a remedy for the BURNING IN MY EYES.

Moral of the story: You get what you (don’t) pay for.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I hate mints

Peppermint, spearmint, after dinner mint, mint chocolate, most toothpastes-if it’s mint, I hate it. So it is with some oddness that I find myself popping mints in my mouth. Is this like some lesser version of cutting myself?

Or maybe this is some sort of weird analogy for life? A strong, sickly sweet slap to the face, then a cool breath of relief afterwards? Hard times before the good? I can buy that. Winamp finishes up with Kaiser Chiefs, fades into Kansas and then rolls into Kanye West. I take a deep breath, and then exhale minty cool.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A bit more present

I almost missed you yesterday. You weren’t where I thought you’d be. I got worried when I couldn’t find you initially. I was on the other side of the field, an older side. Older ground. Older stone. Older men.

I should have known to look for you in greener fields. The parched earth and scraggly patches of crab grass gave way to carefully manicured grounds. Freshly planted grass. Newly upturned dirt.

It didn’t look the same as it did when I saw you last. Yesterday was bright, sunny, and warm. I wiped sweat from my forehead as I walked along the rows of your brothers, and remembered that cold, rainy, October day.

The tourist will come to see the changing of the guard, the eternal flame, the resting places of historical figures and brave men from previous generations. They will marvel at how historical it all feels. I do hope that they will take the time to walk to greener fields. Where mothers hug headstones that were not there a year ago. Where markers list dates like July 31, 2007. Where it all seems a little less historical…and a bit more present.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Keep going

One step in front of the other. That’s all you have to do. Left foot. Right foot. Keep going. Full speed ahead. Don’t stop. Life’s going fast. Short breaths. Keep your pace. Step off that curb. Don’t stumble. You can’t stumble in life. If you stumble you’ll…oh shit what did I tell you about stepping off the curb? Look at your ankle! You just sprained your ankle you dumbass. But you can’t let that slow you down. Got to keep going. One step in front of the other. That’s all you have to do. Left foot. Right foot…

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ooooh that smell

My freshmen year in college the two guys who lived in the same suite as me smoked pot. A lot. On good days. On bad days. With friends. Alone. Oh yeah, these guys were potheads. Thing is, and I’m not proud of this, I had no clue for almost the entire year. I just thought they were abusers of pine-sol.

See, whenever they smoked pot, they’d dump about a pint of pine-sol in their room. And in the suite. On good days. On bad days. With friends. Alone. Oh yeah, these guys were serious pine-sol heads.

I couldn’t make sense of it. These were some of the dirtiest guys I’d ever been around. But by god, they loved for their room to smell lemony-fresh. By the time May rolled around I abhorred that fake lemon scent.

My nose recently reminded me of this memory while I was at work. Not the smell of pine-sol but of a half a can of air freshener that had been liberally sprayed throughout the office.

My Korean co-workers are nice folks. They know that their foreign fish dishes are not the most pleasing to Caucasian noses. So after marathon microwave sessions, they whip out the air freshener.

I’ve debated on whether to speak up. “I’d much rather smell rotten fish than drown my nasal cavities in lavender mountain breezes.” I don’t think they’d understand. And by the time I’d finished telling them about the pine-sol heads they’d probably regret hiring this jokkah.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I am happy (I've never said profound titles were my specialty)

I’m rather fortunate to have landed some freelance writing. Somehow I pulled the wool over a business contact’s eyes, and landed the opportunity to do some writing on the side for which I will actually be getting paid. It’s not like I’ve been a consistent blogger or anything, but if you see more drop off than usual, it’s because of this.

I’ve got a post or two already written that I didn’t consider to be quite up to snuff at the time, so maybe I’ll post those in the meantime with a warning that says “Not Across The River’s Best Stuff, but maybe you’ll enjoy, because hey it’s the summer and what else are you going to be doing with your time? Watching reality television? Working? Reading Harry Potter?”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Usually you have to buy me dinner

Can I just tell you, I have never been so politely felt up and searched as I was on Thursday at the Minneapolis airport.

“You’ve been selected for a more comprehensive search,” said the airport worker.

Gulp. What exactly does comprehensive mean? Horrible visions of Turkish prisons and full body cavity searches flashed through my mind.

A TSA agent came over, directed me towards the X-Ray machines and proceeded to strike up a friendly conversation with me. “Flying to Chicago I see, business I take it?”

Actually sir, I’m heading home to DC, Chicago’s just a layover.

“Oh, ok” he said with a smile. “If you wouldn’t mind stepping over here for “Officer_____”

Officer_____ proceeded to begin giving me an extensive patdown, while the first officer began taking apart my carryon.

The first patdown indicated that I was carrying a wallet and a number of folded pieces of paper.

Sorry about that officer.

“Oh, not a problem,” he said cheerfully as he got back to the feeling.

I smiled uneasily and waited for him to finish. After a few more uncomfortable seconds I was allowed to walk over to the table where the original officer was searching my bag. I proceeded to strike up a friendly conversation with him about a few souvenirs that I was taking back.

I walked away not exactly sure what to think. I was feeling a little bit uncomfortable, but at the same time I was impressed at the friendliness and professionalism that the TSA officers had shown me. As much as part of me was hoping that it would go horribly wrong, just so I’d have a good story to repeat and blog about, I found myself thinking, “Good for them, doing their jobs, efficiently and effectively.”

Friday, July 6, 2007

You’ve reached the blog mailbox of Across the River

I’m on a business trip and will be back in a week. Leave a message, a poem, an anecdote, an ad, a riddle, a photo, a short story, an analogy, a link, a song lyric, a missed encounter, a joke, a secret, a vow, a revelation…just leave one.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I’ll have a beer, and “The Final Countdown”

I’m a fan of cheese, and not the eatable, meltable, spreadable variety. I view B-movies with relish and listen to corny music with enthusiasm.

So a week ago when I was at my favorite bar in DC, I began grinning when Europe’s “The Final Countdown” came on the jukebox. As the chorus kicked in, our server jumped in front of the table and exclaimed “I’ve got some important news…It’s the final countdown!” We all had a hearty laugh and thought no more about it.

Until this weekend. We’re back at the bar. It’s the same server and he was getting our drinks. When he got to me I fixed him a serious look.

“Yes, I’ll have a beer…and The Final Countdown.”

The server apologized profusely. He had already played “The Final Countdown” an hour earlier, and would take flak from his co-workers if he were to play it again. I assured him it wasn’t a problem.

Two hours later, and a few beers later, the server came over and slipped a dollar in my hand. “Go over to the jukebox and play it, if my co-workers see me doing it, they’ll give me crap.”

Haha, so there would be “The Final Countdown” in all of its cheesy, 80’s goodness. I walked stumbled over to the jukebox. I inserted the dollar and selected the song. The jukebox then asked for another dollar. Son-of-bitch, it had eaten my dollar! I inserted another dollar and got the same message. It was then that it dawned on me, the jukebox was asking for another dollar to play another song. I had just cued "The Final Countdown." Twice. In-a-row.

A few minutes later the song began, and the server came over. “It’s ‘The Final Countdown’” he said.

“Well, here’s the thing,” I said. “I accidentally picked to play The Final Countdown. Twice. In- a-row.”

Many thoughts must have gone through our server’s mind at that point. Obviously he was a habitual “The Final Countdown” abuser, or else he wouldn’t be slipping dollars to patrons to play it. His co-workers had also obviously given him hell numerous times in the past for his propensity to play cheesy 80’s music.

“OH SHIT!” he exclaimed, and ran off.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Coffee and Korean

A superficial observation on day 1 of new job:

Awh man I’m tired. I need some coffee. I see a coffee pot, but no coffee. Don’t tell me they don’t have coffee in this office? Is this coffee pot some sort of relic from times past when previous generations that worked here drank coffee? Don’t tell me I’m going to have to spend money on my own coffee.

Boss walks in.

Boss: Where’s the coffee?

2 minutes later. Co-worker comes running in, with packages of Starbucks coffee.

Ah, all is right with the world. Maybe this new job won’t turn out too bad.

A more thoughtful observation after 3 days of new job:

I learn by osmosis, meaning I learn by unconsciously soaking up what’s happening around me. I watch and listen to what the co-workers and bosses do, learn the company culture, and eventually learn the job.

This is kind of hard to do when most of your co-workers are Korean and when they’re not talking with me or the other white guy in the office, speak Korean almost exclusively. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve changed careers. How am I supposed to absorb this job if I can’t understand what’s being said?

The solution-I must learn Korean.* Not only to absorb the job, but also so that I can know when they are talking smack about me. **

*I stole this idea from a friend who is learning Japanese for her job.

**I also want to be able to talk smack about my friends in a different language.*

*Wooh, a footnote in a footnote. Did I just blow your mind?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are you a nerd?

“So are you one of Dan’s normal friends, or one of his nerd friends?”

The question caught me off guard. What was her definition of normal? What had Dan told her? The look of confusion and mild panic must have crossed my face, as her next comment was more reassuring.

“Ohhh, don’t worry. I work for AOL.”

Oh, thank god. The calmness returned. She was…one of us.

I’ve heard it said a dozen times by DC bloggers. “We’re not all nerds,” or “When I met him in real life, I was surprised to find out that he was a normal guy.” To this I say: normal, what fun is that?

The best thing about being a nerd is learning where you fit in amongst the hierarchy. I’m what you might consider a “Mid-level” nerd. My social skills are lacking at times, I’m good with computers, can quote Monty Python on command, and could probably write a thesis on Star Wars.

That being said, I do have some critical, some might say deal breaking nerd deficiencies. I’m absolutely horrible with math and science. A nerd who sucks at math and science? What sort or nerd are you? Doesn’t that disqualify you from being a nerd? Yes, yes my little padawan, I realize that, notice how I said in a previous sentence, “deal breaking.”

My lack of mad math and science skills has been a source of serious torment in the past. (Ok, scratch that, maybe more “mild aggravation.”) You can’t really do computers as a career if you don’t understand the 0’s and the 1’s.

My lack of science skills has also caused me to fail the litmus test that one of my friends has for being a nerd. He has a plan…no more of a dream, to one day build a gun/machine that can fire a crow through the air. A crow launcher if you will. When he starts to discuss this, it usually involves words such as “C02” and “air speed velocity.” I lose him when he gets to air speed velocity. So what is this litmus test, and the point to this damned footnote you ask? Simply, that if you give him an odd look while he is discussing this, you are not a nerd, and probably not worthy of his time. However, if you join in on the discussion, you have passed the nerd litmus test and may be able to co-patent the crow launcher with him, sometime in the distant future.

What is my ultimate point? Being a nerd shouldn’t be some sort of social disqualifier. No, the question should not be, “Are you a nerd?” It should be “Are you nerd enough?”

Friday, June 8, 2007

I will miss DC

I just put in my two weeks notice a few hours ago. I'm taking a job in VA, that will essentially be a career change for me.

This has been going on for a little while now, but not something that I wanted to air in a public forum such as a blog, until now. It's been part of what's kept me from writing as much as I would like, and it certainly hasn't taken away from my stress.

I'm uncertain how to feel right now, more drained and sad than anything. I should be able to stay where I am, just across the river from DC, but I'll find out in 2 weeks whether the demands of the commute neccesitate that I move closer to my job.

I'm going to miss taking the metro everyday. I'm going to miss being able to take a walk by the White House on my lunch break. I'm going to miss the people I work with, and I'm going to miss all the little nuances of DC. Oh sure, I'll be in the city on a regular basis to see friends, hit up bars & restaurants, and see the sights, but it won't be the same.

I'm excited about the opportunities that await with this position, but at the same time, change is never easy for me. Sometimes though, it's necessary.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Moral teachings from an Axe Murderer, Part 1

So I was reading a recent post by Lemon Gloria where she mentions that her father was joking with her about rooming with an axe murderer. And for just one minute, I thought of replying with something to the effect, of “Wow, that’s interesting, I once had an axe murderer contact me.” But then I figured that I’d have to either explain that comment, which would be a blog post in itself, or just let the comment stand, which would make me sound weirder than I already am. Thus, this blog post:

“You’re all going to hell if you continue down this path,” said the letter. Ahh, hate mail, good stuff. Being the general manager for a college radio station did have some benefits. Except this wasn’t ordinary hate mail. This was axe murderer hate mail.

I went to college in a small town. News travels fast in a small town, and tends to have a larger impact than it would in a big city. Jimbo’s tractor exploding? Ehhh, maybe a 3 on the “It’s news scale.” Double homicide with an axe? Freaking 11.

The axing took place a month before my freshman year. It was the talk of the town and the school for a few months.

Roughly three years later, I wasn’t thinking of axe murderers. I was thinking of how I narrowly pulled off being elected general manager of my school’s little student run FM radio station. I was basking in this success, I was finishing up the last of my exams, and I was preparing for the summer. First though, I needed to stop by the radio station.

I arrived at the station and went to speak with the station’s faculty advisor.

“There was some mail addressed to the radio station today. You’re the general manager now…I think you should have it,” said the faculty advisor.

“Oh yeah?” My curiosity was peaked. Normally mail wasn’t something that was important enough to point out, much less hand deliver to the GM.

I was handed an envelope that had obviously already been opened, but the contents were still intact. Before I pulled out the papers stuffed inside, I glanced at the front of the envelope. The return address: ______ County Correctional Facility. The sender: Ezekiel, formerly _____ _____. Cell #________

I was confused. “Ezekiel?”

My faculty advisor fixed me a serious glance. “Do you remember the axe murderer?”

Friday, June 1, 2007

For your consideration

So life’s been crazy lately. And I can’t really talk about it right now. I like to make my post either reflective or humorous, and I just can’t pull that out at the moment.

In the meantime, I’ll resort to the next best thing-pimping other people’s blogs. See those links on the right? Those are the blogs I read. You should click on them. Below are the cream of the crop; the one’s I try to read even on the craziest of days.

Arjewtino-Well known in all blogger circles, this man needs no pimping. Except for those of you who aren’t bloggers who read this. You must click on that link. Humorous observations from DC’s favorite Argentinean Jew await you.

El Guapo in DC-Arjewtino’s Guatemalan arch-nemesis. His claims of having the best mustache in DC cannot be independently verified, but the stories he tells, especially the one’s that involve his friend Miguel will bring tears to your eyes (usually from laughter). Here is an example, though the written content may be considered NSFW.

Home Improvement Ninja-Do not let his constant sayings of “I’m going to be blogging less” steer you away from checking this on a regular basis. That is just his ninja ways. He will strike when you least expect it.

Journey to Self Improvement-I like her style, she has no qualms about tackling any subject. Whether it be lighter fare, such as a post on pooping or some of her more serious observations on alcoholism, Journey to Self Improvement will always give her honest opinion to her readers.

Last Stop Suburbia-Comes up with the best blog titles for her blog entries and also posts some great photos. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked myself “Now what the hell would the boss think if he came by while I was reading this?”

View from Dupont-I’m not entirely convinced that her blog is DOA. The link will stay up and I will occasionally check it. You should too. The most well rounded blogger I’ve read-she can talk about politics, movies, work-anything, and make it sound interesting.

Writing in DC-Unlike myself and most other bloggers, she is a Real Writer®. While we piddle away on our keyboards and congratulate ourselves when we manage to write four paragraphs, Writing in DC is likely sitting outside a café writing her novel, or a poem-all with a coffee beverage of some sort in one hand, and a cool summer breeze behind her.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Not so deep thoughts on a Saturday morning

It’s 5 minutes to 9 am and somehow I’ve managed to overload my small head of hair with enough water and hair gel that it’s currently dripping down my neck and on to my white undershirt. I think I will wait a few minutes before I put on the tux. I’m more nervous than someone who’s not actually getting married should be. I hope I don’t step on any of the ladies dresses. I hope I don’t fumble the ring. I hope I don’t mess up my speech. I hope I don’t embarrass myself, or the bride, or the groom.

In 30 minutes I head out the door, and in 2 and 1/2 hours, Braveheart and his fiancé will be Mr. and Mrs. Braveheart. Last Saturday was the bachelor party: paintball, alcohol, and strippers-what a fine day. Today is the real deal. A summary of the wedding and all the embarrassing stories about Mr. Braveheart that I can cram into a page will follow next week-after Mr. and Mrs. Braveheart are safely away on their honeymoon and can’t read this blog.

But I procrastinate. The water and gel have dried. I must ready the tux and ready my nerves, and head to the wedding.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Paintball, the manly un-sport

I discovered this weekend that there’s something irrefutably manly about paintball.

Laugh all you want, but if you’re a guy and you’ve ever played paintball, you know what I’m talking about.

Go ahead and explain to me how it glorifies bloodshed, desensitizes guys towards the violence of real war, and is just a sad part of our “male dominated, violent society.” Damn right it is. Years of violent television, action movies, videogames, and playing with plastic guns finally have some sort of purpose—without having to go out and really get my ass shot (I’ll get back to you when I’ve figured out exactly what that purpose is). Anyways, sign me up.

It all seems hilarious when you look back on it though. The way you sling your paintball gun over your shoulder after a long “firefight.” The decibels that your voice goes up as you yell, “I’ve been hit!”

It all seems perfectly natural when a teammate yells for you to “Flank left and take those red team sons-of-bitches out.” No one has to tell you what to do when a teammate yells “Covering fire!” When paintballs come whistling your way, you try to dig into the ground like your life depends on it.

At the end of the day on Saturday I found myself in a particularly brutal “firefight.” Paintballs were hitting all around me and exploding on the trees and plywood that was my cover. Somehow I walked away without taking a hit. As I walked off the field and found my friends, I wearily took off my goggles and thankfully accepted a paper towel handed to me.

As I was wiping the paint and the mud from my face, one of my friends fixed me a concerned look and asked, “Dude, your hand’s shaking…are you ok?”

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I remember

Robert Novak of the Washington Post wrote a column on Monday about how Washington, DC was 50 years ago. Buried at the bottom, in the second to last paragraph is a mention of a man, who just so happens to be my great uncle. I will not tell you stories of his life, as I never knew the man, and only know the stories that my immediate family has told me about him.

I have not read his book, and I have not delved deep into his history. Before I read this column, the last time I thought of him was when I happened to find a Wikipedia entry on him and corrected a misspelling.

However, I do remember his death, 12 years ago. I remember attending his funeral in New York City, where numerous important people said nice things about a man I did not know. I remember being awed by New York, a place I had never visited before.

I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty, the UN headquarters, Broadway… and I remember taking a long elevator to the top floor of one of the World Trade Center towers. I remember looking down upon the yellow taxis and other cars that darted along the streets, and thinking, that from this height they looked like bugs. I remember being slightly disappointed, as we only had enough time to visit one skyscraper, and I had wanted to see the Empire State building.

That was the only time I have ever visited New York City. I would like to go back, and go to the same places and see the same sights. I want to go back to that time in my life when I felt safe, even in a city as huge and intimidating as New York. But I can’t, I can only remember. I can only remember the way things used to be.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Note to the mafia, my grandmother is expecting your call

My plans to record my family history starting with my grandmother, as detailed in this post, are finally starting to take shape. I had to call my grandmother up on Monday evening to get some details squared away. Calling is always an interesting experience when you are dealing with someone who doesn’t have the best hearing. I still remember the last time I called her.

Me: MAWMA, IT’S MATTHEW.

Grandmother: Who? The mafia!?

Me: NO, MATTHEW!! YOUR GRANDSON!

Grandmother: Ohh, hey Matthew. I didn’t think the mafia would be calling me.

Luckily this time, when I shouted my name she understood. The conversation went well, and we worked out a date in the summer for me to head to NC and talk with her.

She ended the conversation by saying how good it was to speak with me and my new northern accent. Ouch, that hurts. I guess only family can cut you to the bone like that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

If I went to a steakhouse, here’s what I would have ordered

In between 9 holes at the golf course and the time consuming business of tracking down the Real Killer™, O.J. Simpson likes himself a good steak.

Jeff Ruby, of Louisville, Kentucky is the owner of an establishment that serves just that. Unfortunately for O.J., Ruby isn’t a big fan of murderers. Read story here…

O.J.’s lawyer, Yale Galanter (with a name like that, you already know he’s a prick) is predictably saying that it’s racism. Racism, hmm, who would have thought? We’ve never heard that theory used before in connection with O.J.

What’s most amusing is the following comment from Galanter, “He screwed with the wrong guy, he really did. ”

Ohh, haha, someone is having a Johnny Cochran complex. I mean, the playing the race card thing, that was totally predictable, but getting all pissy about it? Wow, you sir are no Johnny Cochran. Get back to me in a year when you can make steakhouse rhyme with racism.

[Edit to add] Looks like View From Dupont has hung up her blogging cleats today. As the person who encouraged this monkey to first guest blog on her site and then to start my own, I owe her a huge thanks. Thanks View From Dupont.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

F U Office Printer!

Watching “Office Space” should be a mandatory requirement for anyone who is entering the workforce as a desk jockey or a cubicle monkey. Laugh now sucker, for soon it will be you having to put TPS reports on every document you submit and having to deal with crazy bosses and co-workers.

It’s only a small part of the movie, but the part that has always rang true for me, no matter what job I’m in, are the problems that the guys have with the office printer. I rarely curse at work, but when I do, it’s not a co-worker that’s gotten me angry, it’s the fucking printer. When I start dropping f-bombs, you know I’m angry, and nothing in that office has taken more verbal abuse than that printer/copier/scanner combo that is constantly jamming.

Trying to get jammed paper out of this beast of a machine is not as simple as just opening up a panel and pulling out the paper. No, it’s much more complex than that. I read a book once that had a scene with a farmer having to help one of his cows give birth. I think this is a good analogy for me having to unjam the office printer.

I’ve got to get down on my knees (must resist the urge to make a juvenile joke here…) roll up my sleeves and then stick my hands into the deep, dark innards of the printer. I feel around and try to locate the jam, all the while getting burned by parts of the printer that are still hot from the previous printing attempt. After burning, cutting, and scraping my hands some more, I’ll succeed in locating the paper. At this point, to chants of encouragement from my co-workers, I’ll attempt to pull the paper out. 1…2…3…PULLLLL! Some days I succeed, and others I don’t. Either way, my hands come out, bruised and covered in ink.

I would really like nothing more than to haul this son-of-a-bitch out to a field, and pummel it with a baseball bat a la “Office Space.” Someday printer…someday when you least it expect it…

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Spring Weekend in DC told through Photos

I hope to get back to regular posting soon. Until then, my weekend in photos:

Saturday night

I do not know where the flower came from. Somehow it ended up in almost everybody’s hair/mouth, etc this evening.

Another happy couple and that red flower…

The man who refuses to have his photo taken.

Ohhh, too slow grasshopper. Got you. Plus now it looks like you are flashing a gang sign. Word to your mother.

Sunday afternoon

The names and photos of the fallen. I noticed a number of kids slowly and somberly studying the memorial. We may have desensitized kids to images of death and violence, but 58,249 names on a wall makes an impression. I am optimistic about our nation’s youth.

The uniforms may change, but the faces do not. Top, Vietnam War Memorial. Bottom, Korean War Memorial.

I am currently reading a fascinating book on this guy. His character, intelligence and foresight alone were far grander than even this statue can convey.

Sometimes, there's just so much beauty in this world…

Looking out, across the river.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lou Dobbs, bringing companies closer together since 1945

The drumming-I never know when it will start and when it will stop. To combat this, I have been trying to spend as little time at my house as possible before the 10pm cutoff time for drumming.

This has been good in some ways. It has given me extra motivation to hit the gym after work. An hour and a half working out is an hour and a half I am not spending pulling my hair out at home.

I go to a gym on the ground floor of my office building (small, but free!). In the past few weeks, more than a few times, I’ve found myself working out with one of my bosses. This has been interesting. She and I don’t really socialize while at work, but at the gym we have a common bond.

Would that common bond be running, you ask? Lifting weights? The fact that you both have matching gym shorts?

The answer to your three questions: No, no, and where the fuck is your mind?

No, we bond easily over our shared hatred of Lou Dobbs, and sometimes Wolf Blitzer and The Situation Room. You see, there’s one television in the gym, and being that this is DC, by law it must be tuned to a 24-hour news station, preferably CNN. If you do have the audacity to change it to Fox News, be ready, Moveon.org has spies in the gym that will produce and air an attack ad directed at you within 10 minutes of changing the channel.

Anyways, back to Wolf and Lou. I don’t really dislike Wolf as much as she does, but we have definitely found the common ground in hating on ol’ Lou. The guy makes it so easy. Every night, he covers three topics, “Illegal immigration,” “The War on the Middle Class,” and five minutes devoted to Iraq.

If you strike me down I shall become more
powerful than you can possibly imagine.

The first two topics are golden. Watch as Lou Dobbs gets angry and engages in “reporting”, with comments such as “The President, Congress and all illegal aliens should be ashamed of themselves for trampling on the laws of the land” or “This is an outrage, what the heck is wrong with Big Business?” or “Don’t test me Christiane Amanpour, you’re making me angry…you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Oh how we laugh at ol’ Lou. Haha, objective reporting, haha look at the blood vessel burst on his forehead. Ohh, good times…good times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Salmon in a Pouch

For various reasons I haven’t posted as much lately. I may not be posting at all after tonight.

This is what I ate for dinner tonight.

Yes ladies and gentleman, this is a picture of the rarely seen Salmon in a Pouch. Rarely spotted outside its natural saltwater habitat, salmon occasionally migrates into plastic pouches, which then make their way into the homes of cheap bachelors across the United States.

Oh, by the way, I had the lemon and dill type. And it looked nothing like that picture. Here is what it really looked like.

I’ve never had fish that was quite this hard…and chewy…and tasting nothing like fish. The lemon-dill water mixture that it came in did little to kill the taste.

I know what your thinking.

What the hell is that yellow gunk next to the “fish”?

That would be tartar sauce.

Well wait, isn’t tartar sauce supposed to be white? That must be the lighting in your photo that is making the tartar sauce appear yellow.

Nope, that’s the color of the tartar sauce. Apparently it’d been sitting in my fridge for longer than I thought. I didn’t really notice its mustard like color until after I’d already eaten half of the fish and tartar sauce.

Oh, well good, it wasn’t intentional. Surely after realizing the fish was terrible and that the tartar sauce was rancid you stopp-

Oh SHIT! No you didn’t?!

I even finished my meal off was some leftover pancakes and some low-fat brownies.

Dude, your stomach must feel like a molotov cocktail just went off inside.

Totally.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech

When you think back on your Monday, was it really so bad? Was the boss nagging at you the end of the world? Was your pain-in-the-ass roommate really worth getting mad over? Were any of life’s little problems significant at all?

My thoughts go out to all those dealing with the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dennis Kucinich is an American Hero (and a player!)

Dennis Kucinich is one sneaky son-of-a-bitch. At some point in the last three years not only did he enter the Presidential race without anyone knowing (or caring for that matter), but he also got married. Now I know what you’re thinking. “So what?” “Good for him” and “So he found someone his age to settle down with.”

NO ma’am! Dennis Kucinich robbed the cradle and married Elizabeth Harper, a HOTIE, 31 years his junior. Let me provide some visual examples in case it hasn’t sunk in yet:

This guy

Got married to this gal

Now I don’t want to seem unfair and harp on the physical differences, as I realize I’m no Fabio, but looks aside, she married one of the most batshit insane politicians in the US. This guy wants to create a Department of Peace for crying out loud. Bombs and bullets would be replaced with care bears and kittens. Save me.

Want to know the craziest part? She seems just like him, and the story of how they met is cheesier than a plate of nachos with extra cheese. I present to you, How Kucinich Found Love.

I encourage you to read the article, as there are some real gems in there. Like how within an hour of meeting Harper, Kucinich called Mimi Kennedy, better known as Darma’s mother on “Darma and Greg,” to tell her that Harper was the one. Oookkk, kind of odd, but maybe this type of thing happens in political/Hollywood circles. I mean, I bet Dick Cheney calls up Charlton Heston every time he shoots someone in the face.

And how can you not love lines like this:


That Sunday, driving out of Santa Fe with her boss, Elizabeth looked down at the ring she had bought in Arizona. For the first time, she noticed how the stone was inlaid in silver.


The design of the silver was two capital Ks, back to back.

Or this:

In the reception area, she saw a visiting nun in white robes. In his inner office sat a shelf bearing an illustration depicting "light consciousness" and a bust of Gandhi. She studied the lean and intense congressman and felt an attraction.

One day when I’m old, insane and running for political office, I only hope that I can meet someone like Harper. Oh, there will be plenty of big-breasted, platinum blond, gold diggers to choose from, but I can already tell you that what I’ll really want is a young, redheaded beauty…with a passion for crazy.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Get Fit or Die Trying: I Ain’t Dead Yet Suckas

Those of you within the vicinity of K Street yesterday may have heard an odd noise. The sound was less elephant giving birth and more porn star with laryngitis: “Oh god, oh god. You can do it. Come on, come on. Just five more minutes. Oh god.” Yes my friends, I was trying to run, yet again.

As mentioned before, I’m attempting to “Get fit or die trying,” all before my best friend’s wedding over Memorial Day weekend. Doing this has involved incredible feats of self-restraint and physical prowess. It has required me to do completely unnatural things, like lift weights and run. It’s sad to say, but sounding like a porn star with laryngitis when I run is actually a step up from the animal sounds that I made when I first started running.

To answer the question foremost on your mind, I am still alive; the workout routine has not killed me yet. I am comforted by the fact that if I were to die while running (which is entirely possible), that View from Dupont has already agreed to guest blog on this site with a more heroic sounding ending for me. Instead of telling you that I expired while attempting to chase down the taco truck (Yes, such a thing does exist, think ice cream truck, only with delicious gringofied Mexican entrees. Oh the day I catch you taco truck, oh the day…), View from Dupont would weave a heroic tale of me dying while saving the earth from disaster. She has been instructed to rip off Jerry Bruckheimer liberally, which means I will likely die saving the world from asteroids, or pirates, or ninjas, or maybe asteroids, pirates, and ninjas.

Anyways, back to the sweaty subject at hand. “Get fit or die trying” has gone well so far, but I’m still a way away from the goal I set for myself. If I have to, I will turn to crazy ideas like taking crack, or jumping the fence at the National Zoo and trying to outrun the tigers (nothing like fear to get the old heart pumping!) in order to burn the additional pounds off.

Overall though, I am happy with the results so far. A pair of jeans that a few months ago used to fit snugly now requires a belt to stay up. A pair of shorts that last summer I had to perform various Houdini like contortions to get into, now fits perfectly again. When I show up at the wedding a month and a half from now, I plan to confidently stroll into the church in my newly refitted tux. A few hours later at the reception, I will confidently stroll onto the dance floor, and then proceed to destroy my reputation by attempting to “get down.” Oh, I cannot wait!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Few Days Late-Blogger Happy Hour Recap

I somehow got in on a conversation that was going nowhere with my friend Dan, and Lemon Gloria, about Will Ferrell movies. Dan and I weren’t really succeeding in convincing her that Will Ferrell was the best thing since sliced bread, and I started looking for a way to change the topic. In order to prove some point about being able to enjoy non-intelligent movies, I made the grave mistake of switching the topic to the movie 300. Ohh, ball four, and Across the River walks Lemon Gloria.

As she walked away I turned in exasperation to Dan and exclaimed “THIS IS MADNESS!”

“Madness?” he said and paused before his voice changed to a deep growl and he yelled “THIS…IS… BLOGGER… HAPPY…HOUR!” He then proceeded to kick me into a deep, dark hole that conveniently happened to be right behind me.

Of course, if you believe those last two paragraphs, I have some Nigerian friends who would love to talk with you about an unclaimed inheritance.

I had a blast at the blogger happy hour last Thursday. It was really nice to meet I66, who was very chill and was hosting his second to last happy hour. It was also a pleasure to finally meet The Home Improvement Ninja. Anyone who could kill you in your sleep, pick a stock portfolio for you, and renovate your house, all at the same time, deserves some respect.

I met a host of other bloggers including, I Now Pronounce You, Lemon Gloria (I’m just kidding on the above, please don’t nominate me for ‘Most annoying asshole that I ever met at a blogger happy hour’ on Best DC Blogs), Dagny Taggart, and a slew of others that I’m forgetting.

I’m apparently becoming more of a regular with these things, because I’d say about 3/4 of the people I’d already met. I think I’ve done a decent job flattering ya’ll in the past with my previous happy hour recaps, so you’ll forgive me if don’t mention ya’ll this time. ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Weekend Recap Part 2: Saturday Night, Beer, Guns, and Asian Hookers

“I swear, I’ve been drunker than this and shot my guns.”

Ah, that’s comforting. That just makes everything ok. The time to get the hell out of here has come and yet still I sit here with a pair of aces in my hand, and a joker standing on the other side of the room with a loaded pistol.

It was supposed to be a typical poker night. Go out, loose my money to my friends, and come home.

The night starts off with me meeting my friends at a guy’s house that I had only met once before at a previous poker game. He wants to host that night’s game at his place, and my friends and I agree to head over.

He begins the night by shooting a 22 rifle and a BB gun in his backyard. Oookkkk. Not the way I typically start of my evenings, but I can deal. The 22 isn’t loud, and he insists that his neighbors think that he is shooting off firecrackers.

Poker commences. The conversation becomes somewhat vulgar, as is expected when people are freed from the uptight weekday grind and their tongues are loosened with alcohol. The conversation goes further than expected when he begins discussing the various ways he has pleased Asian hookers over the past few years. We all nod our heads and laugh uncomfortably. He briefly apologizes, and blames it on the large quantity of strong German beer that’s he’s had. He weakly stands up, steadies himself using my chair, and then walks into a far corner of the house.

He comes back with a pistol. Some other time I will have to fill you in on how I used to hunt and shoot guns as a kid with my dad and tell you all about my 2nd amendment beliefs. I don’t remember them mentioning it in the gun safety course, but I’m pretty sure there’s a rule about not handling guns while you’re stupid. There’s probably a rule about not handling them while you’re drunk too.

The gun is waived about, all the while he ensures us that it is not loaded. He hands the pistol to me with the barrel facing my chest. I inspect the gun and see that there’s no clip in the gun and no bullet in the chamber. I hand the gun back to him expecting him to put it away. That was a mistake. Instead he goes outside to shoot it. One of my friend’s follows.

Thankfully at this point, I am not the only one in the room with alarm bells going off in my head. He fires the gun once before we can act. It is much louder than a firecracker. One of the other people in the room rushes outside, pulls my friend inside, and convinces the drunk to stop firing and put away the pistol.

He does so. Shortly after that he gets up again to try to find a video that he had shot (no pun intended) of him doing the nasty with the Asian hookers. Thankfully, he does not find the video.

We soon finish up our game. I leave five dollars richer, an atypical night for me. I do wish that somebody had told me that the joker was wild…and drunk, on this particular Saturday night.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weekend Recap Part 1: Friday Night, Talk to the Hand

I got my new toy in the mail on Thursday. As promised, I spent my first full day with the camera taking pictures and trying to make up for years of being a photo phantom. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help when your friends still cling to the old ways and refuse to be photographed.

On Friday night, we spent our evening swilling beer, shooting pool and chilling out in good old Arlington. Unfortunately, I’ll never have photo evidence of the night. Oh the tragedy.

Speaking of tragedies, stay tuned for the epic saga that is Weekend Recap Part 2: Saturday Night, Beer, Guns, and Asian Hookers.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Whatever you do, do not loose to Fluffy

I’m in a…how should I say…non-competitive fantasy college basketball tournament this year. This is my first year “playing” with this particular group, and one thing I was told right off the bat was: We make brackets for some of our cats.

One of the cats always picks the largest team to win. The other cat picks schools with cat mascots to beat bird mascots. If there is no cat-bird matchup, then it becomes whichever mascot could takes the other one in a fight. Could a gator beat a wolf pack? Could a tiger take a blue devil? These questions occupy my waking moments and haunt my dreams.

One thing is for certain, do not loose to the cats. If you lose to the cats you immediately become not only the laughingstock of everyone in this group, but also less of a person. You got outwitted by a creature that bathes in its own saliva and takes shits in scented gravel. You might as well get down on all fours and start licking yourself, because frankly you’re not any better than them.

Pray that I am not reduced to that level.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to flatter an older woman

Happy Birthday __________!

This is your 25th birthday, right? You don’t look a day over 24.

I know, I know, I’m so smooth it should be criminal.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photographs

If these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture. Robin Williams-One Hour Photo

I’ve never consciously avoided the camera. I’ve just never made an effort to have my picture taken, or to try to take photos of others. When I was recently asked to submit a digital photo to a charity auction, I browsed through three digital photos that I had. The first one was from college, back when I had scruffy facial hair and was about 15 pounds lighter. The second was a more recent photo, but I was clearly drunk. The third wasn’t a bad photo, but I was wearing a suit and sunglasses, and looked like one of the Agents from the Matrix. I ended up submitting that photo, but not without reservations.

I seem to have a supernatural ability to screw up any photos I appear in. Think you can make it easy and just tell me to smile? Not going to work, because your camera won’t capture a normal smile. Nope, I’ll come across like some grinning lunatic in a Jeffery Dahmer look-alike contest. Does your camera have adjustments to eliminate red-eye? It won’t matter, as my true nature will always shine through and you’ll have to use all your Photoshop prowess to remove the glowing red from my eyes.

What does all this mean? Should I just admit defeat, and forever hide from the camera. No! I refuse to let my poor track record deter me from taking photos. In fact, I’ve finally caught up with the rest of the industrialized world, and purchased a digital camera, which should be arriving this week. This year, I vow to take as many photos as possible, until either my friends wrench the camera from my hands and proceed to beat me senseless with it, or the camera grows tired of trying to take good pictures of me and destroys itself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dr. StrangeDrum: Or How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the Beat

Well, you see there’s a band.

“Really…”

They need a new drummer, and I want to join.

“So that’s why you’ve been practicing at all hours of the day and night.”

Yeah.

“Do you think you could like not do it late at night while I’m trying to sleep?”

Oh, you can hear it from upstairs? I didn’t think anyone could hear it.

It was at this moment that the blood vessels began popping in my head. I steadied myself and took a deep breath.

“Just not after 10 pm…please.”

Oh sure, no problem.

José wants to be in a band. It’s a band made up of co-workers at the hospital José works at. He needs to get good enough to have a shot at making the band. The fact that all this sounds like the basis for some teen comedy from the 80’s (or a really bad episode of Grey’s Anatomy) is the only pleasure I get out of the whole situation. Well, that and the fact that when I think about 80’s comedies I remember that scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Phoebe Cates coming out of the swimming pool. Mmm, Phoebe Cates…um, sorry back to the post.

True to his word, José stops drumming at 10 pm sharp every night. Yep, he puts the breaks on the old percussion action at 10 pm sharp, not a minute later, or a minute sooner. José drums from sunup till sundown.

Did I mention that José is just learning how to drum? Learning how to drum means pounding the same note for hours on end. I start twitching after 30 minutes.

Who knows, maybe José and his drumming will take off and he’ll become famous? When VH1 comes to interview me I’ll proudly stand there and say, “Hey, I used to room with that guy…and boy did he annoy the living fuck out of me.”

Monday, March 12, 2007

Well, my intentions were good

About midway through my Saturday at RFK, I looked straight at my friend Dan and hoisted a beer in his direction.

Me: Hey Dan, it was your idea for us all to do Shamrockfest this year, wasn’t it?

Dan: No…it was your idea.

Me: Oh…well then cheers to me then!

And with that I threw back the green swill in my cup, otherwise known as St. Patty’s Day Bud Light. Ahh, what a glorious day. Beer, loud music, good friends, and Flogging freaking Molly live. If you were there when Flogging Molly was playing, maybe you saw me, swinging from the metal bars of the soundstage to get a better view…until security pulled me down. Yes, View From Dupont, I did earn my moniker that day.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

It must be something in the water

It seems like all my friends are either getting married, or are taking serious steps like moving in with their SO. All of this makes me officially feel like an adult. You would have thought that having a job, paying rent, and hearing Guns N’ Roses on a classic rock station would have made me realize that’s I’m no longer a kid, but nope, it’s been my friends getting engaged.

In college, marriage was always something my friends and I took bets on. “Which one of us will get hitched first?” we used to ask. We jokingly agreed that it would be one of our friends, we’ll call him “VABeach,” just because we could never see a player such as him settling down. Sure enough, I attended VABeach’s wedding back in October.

I’m not bothered though, in fact I’m pretty darn happy that my friends have found happiness. It does occasionally get on my nerves when it’s rubbed in my face, but you know what, I’ve got a new weapon. I’m going to start taking bets again. Haha, oh yes, my friends, you may say that you love your fiancé/wife/husband more than the moon and stars, but that doesn’t change the fact that the divorce rate in America is close to 60 percent.

Which one of my friends will be getting divorced first? Oh, I know, it’s a cruel game to play, which is exactly why you should play along. And you know what, really rub it in your married friends faces by betting in front of them. Here’s some theoretical dialogue: “Jack’s sure got a temper, so my money’s on Jack and Amy getting divorced first. Oh wait, but you two have almost nothing in common, and it’s common knowledge that Dianne is marrying you for your money, so I’ll place my bets on you.”

Depending on your friend, you’ll come to one of two realizations, either A) Getting married hasn’t made my friend lose his sense of humor, or more likely, B) I have a low tolerance for being repeatedly punched in the face.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Am I a movie masochist?

So I watched the Oscars on Sunday night, and it got me thinking about movies. I’ve seen a couple of high caliber films in the past few months. Two of them, Little Miss Sunshine, and Stranger than Fiction fell into the thoughtful, quirky, intelligent, feel-good category. Two others, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Pan’s Labyrinth fell into the thoughtful, depressing, going-to-go-shoot-yourself-in-the-parking-lot-afterward category. Guess which category I appreciate more?

As much as I enjoyed the former set of movies, the latter set impressed me more, because I think the fact that “entertainment” can be depressing is a fascinating oxymoron. Being able to arouse joy and depression in movies isn’t the hard part. Shoot, just show me video of a monkey on a unicycle and I’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Put a child with Down syndrome on screen, and you’ll likely elicit a tear from me.

What I find interesting is why I “enjoy” depressing subject matter in movies and television. I think it’s similar to the roller coaster effect-we enjoy roller coasters because it gives us the rush of fear, but without the actual danger. I enjoy depressing cinema and TV because it gives me a rush, but without having to deal with the real circumstances surrounding the depression.

Before you start sending me Paxil in the mail, or try to cancel my Blockbuster card, let me just say that the “depressing rush” is only a part of the reason I enjoy these movies. Dealing with dark subject matter, and not trying to tack on a happy twist is something else I admire about these movies. Life’s dark at times and doesn’t always have happy endings. Any movie that attempts to show this earns my respect, because they didn’t go for the easy, less realistic, rosy picture.

Finally, I’ve become convinced that I must see West Bank Story, the winner for Best Live Action Short Film. Any movie that describes itself as “A little singing, a little dancing, a lot of hummus,” has to be freaking awesome.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is your history…

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to become the unofficial family historian. I want to find out not only as much as I can about the history of the various sides of my family, but also most importantly, I want to gather as many stories as I can, straight from the horses mouths if possible.

I’m going to start off with my dad’s side of the family, which means a road trip down to North Carolina either this spring or this summer to see my grandmother, who is in her late 80’s. She’s half deaf, her mind is starting to go, and you eat her cooking at your own peril. I’m heading down there with a camera, and most importantly an audio-recording device of some kind.

Why have I decided to take on such a potentially torturous task? A few reasons: A) I have been reminded so much in the past few months of how mortal we all are. B) My dad’s never been the talkative type, my grandmother on the other hand…C) I think I’m well prepared to ask the right questions and do this interview justice. Having a degree and a job in the communication’s field has to be worth something. D) My grandmother’s the only living grandparent I have. She’s been plagued by medical conditions most of her late adult life and may not have all that much longer. I don’t know her as well as I should, and honestly one trip won’t suddenly make us close, but it will allow me to record some of the stories that will be lost when she dies.

If this all sounds a bit morbid, don’t worry, I feel the same. This won’t be my entire vacation though. I plan to take a few days of “real vacation,” and maybe visit a friend in California, or see my sister in New Orleans. However, this is something I feel strangely compelled to do. I want to hear my grandmother’s stories, even the ones that might seem pointless to her, because I expect that they’ll give me some insight into the personalities of my family members. I want my future kids and grandkids to know where they came from. I want to be able to say, “This is a part of the Across The River family history. Listen as your great-grandmother recounts the story of how your grandfather knocked out your great-uncle with a crowbar when he was 8-years-old.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rocks. Pestilence. Snow. Dating.

About an hour into my drive from Richmond to NOVA, a large rock flew up from a Mack Truck and hit the right corner of my windshield, exactly where an earlier rock had hits a few months earlier. Within another hour, an inch wide crack became a foot long crack. I considered my options. If the cracking continued on its present course, it would start to seriously impede my driving ability. I didn’t hesitate though, I had a date.

As some of you may remember, a long time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, I had signed up for an online charity auction. I’m Not going to expose the identity of the female who bought me. I know how blogger’s value their anonymity.

I had to warn her beforehand that I might not be able to live up to the high expectations that had surely been building in the past three weeks. Three weeks of delays due to flu, school, and inclement weather. Oh it was only a dinner date, but by god, whenever it happened, I was going to give her her five dollars worth.

Anyways, the date with said anonymous blogger took place last night at Sweetwater Tavern. It was a nice evening. We had a few drinks with dinner and talked about music, family, jobs and cupcakes.

Thanks to the No Sex and the City girls for doing the auction. Not only did they put my ass on the auction block and get me a date, they also rose close to $1000 for charity, an impressive feat.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Singles Awareness Day!

I’m not bitter. Really. I’m happy. Companionship? Fancy dinner? Sex? Bah, who needs it? I’ve thought of a number of fun things I can do today and tonight. If you’re single like me, may I suggest that you:

Show up at the restaurants where you know your “couple friends” are going to be. When they ask you why you are there, throw the question back at them and ask them why they’re out tonight. Act shocked when they tell you it’s Valentine's Day, and then mutter, “Now things are starting to make more sense.”

Watch the perfect Valentine's Day movie, and by perfect Valentine's Day movie, I of course mean the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Bonus points if you turn it into a drinking game where you take a shot every time Frodo says “Oh Sam!”

Enjoy a romantic evening alone with just you and Papa John’s Valentine's Day Special: Buy one pizza, get a free pie.

Spend the entire day at work singing along to the cheesiest, sappiest music you can find, preferably from your “Greatest Hits of the 80’s: Power Ballads” CD. Bonus points if you can somehow work the lyric “Every rose has its thorn” into a normal conversation with your coworkers.

Go to the store, pick up one item like lotion or gel, and then get in the longest line possible. While in line, keep repeating, “Party for one tonight, yeahhh baby,” interspersed with porn music sounds like “bow-chicka-bow-wow.”

Thursday, February 8, 2007

English, do you speak it?

“Do you speak English?” I asked.

“No.”

It was at this moment that I pushed the speakerphone toward View from Dupont, flashed my biggest, toothy grin, and reclined back in my chair. I hadn’t planned on being on a long distance phone call with an Italian receptionist at 10 in the morning, but sometimes work has a way of surprising me.

My task for Wednesday morning: Track down an important researcher at all cost. Important Researcher was supposed to be in California, but wasn’t answering his phone or responding to his email. Oh yeah, and he’s Italian.

After failing at the normal ways of contacting Important Researcher, like calling the hotel he was supposed to be staying at, I realized I was going to have to try to call the university that he teaches at in Italy. Except my Italian consists of about three words: sí, pizza, and sopranos.

Luckily, View from Dupont had spent some time in Italy. I explained my situation to her and asked if I could commandeer her for this important task. View from Dupont explained to me that she remembered many important Italian phrases such as “Can I bum a cigarette?” I didn’t hesitate for a moment, “Come with me to my office,” I said. I figured at the very least we’d be able to get some cigarettes out of the phone call.

Armed with View from Dupont’s strong grasp of the Italian language, and supplemented with the infallible Babel Fish, we proceeded to call Italy. After determining that the receptionist did not in fact speak English, I sat back and let View from Dupont work her magic. She proceeded to launch into long strings of Italian phrases that I can only assume translated into “The dog is over there. The shirt is red. The car is old. Nice to meet you.”

View from Dupont’s impeccable Italian must have worked, as the receptionist proceeded to ask something in Italian to the effect of “A professor?” I instantly perked up. Ha ha! – an opportunity to contribute, and use my Italian. “Sí!” I exclaimed.

We were able to get a phone number from the receptionist and then ended our call. View from Dupont and I proceeded to celebrate. We then looked closer at the number. It was the exact same phone number we had before, the phone number that the researcher had not been answering. Damn, all that work for nothing, not even a free cigarette.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Super Bowl

It's a fairly busy day, so not much time, but a few quick thoughts.

I'm an unabashed fan of Super Bowl Sunday's. Yeah, it's probably stereotypical, but if done right, the Super Bowl is like a holiday to me.

Yesterday was just about perfect. I sat around with a group of my closest friends in comfortable lazyboy's and couches. We drank a number of good microbrews and consumed way too much pizza and chips & salsa. I talked a lot of smack about da Bears before and during the game. The commercials were pretty good, and Prince was decent.

Most importantly, the Colts won and in the non-trash talking spirit of Tony Dungy, I will not go on a rant about how the Bears were 2006's most overrated team, and how Rex Grossman single handedly won the game... for the Colts. No I will not, I will leave that to other more insensitive souls.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No coffee=Me caveman

When I got to work Tuesday morning, I put down my things and proceeded to stumble into the kitchen. My brain had only one thing on its mind: coffee. One of my bosses had already beaten me to the punch and was starting to make a pot–except he couldn’t, because we were out of coffee.

Because neither of us had had coffee yet, we did not yet have the energy to panic. Instead it was a more subdued reaction:

Boss: No coffee.

Me: Check under sink.

Boss: Only decaf.

Me: Fuckindecaf.

Boss: Ugh.

As you can see, we were reduced to short sentences and guttural utterances. The gears turned slowly in our heads and my boss headed back to his office:

Me: Oh, benevolent leader! Shall I proceed to the nearest grocery establishment and procure some coffee?

Boss: Yes, you shall. Proceed at all haste, and remember to take the money out of petty cash.

Of course the conversation went nothing like that. We hadn’t had our fucking coffee yet silly! Plus, we’re not gay, nor are we European. No conversation actually took place as we had expended our limited supply of words earlier. Instead we communicated silently, our understanding forged through a shared bond of weariness. I pointed toward the petty cash drawer. My boss nodded his head slowly in agreement.

I headed across the street hunched over, but with determination in my morning stumble and proceeded to pick up some coffee. By the time I got back to the office, my boss had summoned enough energy from some secret reserve to sing my praises.

Boss: You are a saint. You got this handled?

Me: Grunt.

Boss: Oh, ok.

Coffee was soon consumed in massive quantities, and I regained my ability to speak, began walking upright, and stopped clubbing women in the office. If you ever do happen to see me before I’ve had my coffee, I apologize ahead of time. As described above, I’m a caveman without my coffee.