About Me

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Washington, DC, United States
I don't write here nearly as much as I should, but when I do, I'll try to make it count for something.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What's In a Dream, You Ask?

So last night I had a dream and today I remember it vividly. It's weird for me to recall a dream this well after it has happened - usually it's just fragments, puzzle pieces that I need to put together. I woke up from this dream feeling... out of sorts and I'm not entirely sure why or what it means.

In this dream it was NYE and my friends Mel and Emily were having a party at their house (they actually have an apartment in real life but a row house in my dream).

Some of our mutual friends were there. Some strangers. There was an African man playing a Bobby Darin record. I brought my dog, Lee, with me to the party but he was being strangely well-behaved and quiet. My friend Chris keeps putting Lee in his backpack and carrying him around. There seems to be an endless amount of rooms to this house. I walk into one room and then into another and another and another. Suddenly I'm in a room alone except for the African man. He's singing "Dream Lover" with the voice of Bobby Darin and then stops abruptly. I get really cold and realize that it's because the door behind me is open, a draft is coming in. I walk out the door and I'm on the front stoop of the house where a few of my friends are smoking cigars and playing with a deck of cards. I decide that I have to bring Lee home. Chris is also on the stoop - he takes Lee out of his backpack and hands him to me. Lee is sleeping. I hail a cab and get in. I'm suddenly in a different city but it's unclear which one. The cab picks up another passenger - Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner. He smiles at me but it's unsettling. He says, “People living alone get used to loneliness.” The cab stops, I get out, it drives off and then I realize I've left Lee in there with Hubbell. I try calling the cab company from a phone booth but it's not working and I feel frustrated, heartbroken. It's late at night, I think, and the streets are empty. I turn around and Mel is standing there. We both start laughing and after we're done, she smiles and says, “Every bird that flies has the thread of the infinite in its claw.”

At that moment the cab returns... and I woke up.

I'm not quite sure why but this dream really shook me, sort filled me with this odd sense of dread. I know a dream is just a dream but... I think I need a dream analyst. Any takers?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Reflection: Thank You

Christmas Eve day is upon us and it's a strange feeling being here in paradise after such a challenging year. Without getting into too many details (because most of my close friends know them already and this post is meant to be a happy one), my family has been through a bit of upheaval. We're currently in recovery mode, however, and I hope we come out of it a stronger unit than we were before... because when all is said and done, I love these people with all my heart, no matter how crazy they act sometimes.

By the way, please excuse any typos. I'm kind of doing this on the fly. I'm sitting on the beach, after a gorgeous sunrise (which I will post here because there is nothing like a California sunrise, even though the picture could never do it justice) and after having just read the most wonderful email from a dear friend. I am feeling overwhelmed and not ready to return to the house just yet.

I guess the point is this: there are always going to be challenges and tragedies and moments of serious self doubt. There is going to be times of uncertainty on a personal level and on the grand scale - like are we really where we want to be at this stage in our lives or like the current state of our society. People will leave this world, they will leave us here wondering what's the point or how could good and innocent people suffer so greatly. People we love will deal with crises that we can only help with in what feels like a very limited way (even if it actually makes a world of difference). Essentially, bad things will happen and the kicker is they will keep happening no matter what we do, and some of these things are horrifying and senseless and have no answer.... but life is a series of choices. We can choose to sink in the despair or accept that if we keep swimming we'll find solid ground eventually - with a little help from our friends.

I am a person who is prone to sadness. I don't want to use the word depression but the truth is I do have a depressive side and it has a lot to do with the fact that I draw my energy from the people around me and if the people around me are sad then I feel myself getting sucked into the darkness as well. And when that happens, i get filled with this sort anger at myself that i can't just control my feelings better. The thing that I've realized, though... the thing that it had taken me almost 20 years to understand... is that the people that matter will stick around anyway.

You see, I always assume that eventually people will leave, if I'm too sad, too angry, too emotional. And because of that, it's hard for me to trust anyone. And when you can't allow yourself to trust anyone, how can you seek help when you need it?

Anyway, I think this post is getting away from me a little bit and I don't want to make it seem like everything is a struggle all the time. I guess what I want to say is when the struggle gets really hard, there is no shame in accepting help from the people who love you (even if it's help in the form of happy hour or a Happy Endings marathon). I am incredibly lucky to have so many people in my life who care about me and add a level of fun and adventure I would not have otherwise. From my work friends, who are almost always up for happy hour or a rowdy viewing of Millionaire... to my VA guys (even though they don't all live in VA anymore) who allow me to indulge in my pretentious rants and always call me on my shit and allow me to call them out on theirs and also provide endless amounts of laughter... to my Clackers, who will never know how much their crazy, cocktail-swilling, loud, dancing, feisty antics have meant to me... to the Club Dumas, who bring music, literature, film, inspiration, and great food and wine into my life unlike anyone else can... to my Natachel Tron 1/2, who is always there, no matter what, no matter how much we've tried to push each other away, a true sister from another mister... to my NYC pals who always provide me with so many adventures in the Empire State and with a roof over my head... to new friendships that I hope will continue to blossom over the new year and old ones that have drifted away a little but still have a permanent place in my heart. All of these people - all of you out there - from the bottom of my heart, please know that you save my life every single day just by being in it.

I really do feel like the richest gal in town and I think this is probably the perfect time of year to be overly sentimental and to just say exactly what you want to say - and that is I love you all. My family means the world to me but boy is it nice to have a second one available when I need them! I wish everyone was so lucky.

So thanks for being there! Merry Christmas to you all, and I wish you the best, luckiest, most fabulous new year imaginable!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Thanksgiving!

So this was my first year making Thanksgiving dinner for my family and I have to say it was a total success! Making the turkey was the hardest part but thank God my dad was there to clean it because gross.

Anyone interested in snatching any of the recipes, gimme a shout out. Happy to share but I'll probably ask for a recipe in return!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lincoln, Vampires, and Sex, Oh My!

So recently on my Facebook I promised that I would post about the recent movies I've watched - specifically, the four I saw last weekend: Lincoln, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Skyfall, and The Sessions.

I will also add another movie to this list, because I just watched it on DVD - Easy A. I have a few comments to make about that train wreck, and this is as good a time as any. But let's go in chronological order, starting with Lincoln.


I want to keep this blog post somewhat brief and since I have five movies to review, I'll be as condensed as possible. First of all, I loved this movie. I'm going to put that out there right now. I am probably biased, of course, because I am fascinated by the Civil War - by the psychology of war, as a whole, in fact - and I personally think that Abraham Lincoln is one of the most important figures in history. Not just American history - but in all of history because for better or worse, America is one of the strongest nations existing today and Lincoln had a big part in shaping America's identity. Over the last week, I've discussed this movie with a number of different people who have also seen it because I'm interested to see why so many people loved it so much. It wasn't very action heavy. It wasn't super schmaltzy (though it definitely had a little schmaltz; this is Spielberg we're talking about here). It didn't feel overtly emotionally manipulative (and I am very sensitive to that). A lot of it took place in a court room. This movie could have easily been boring or too dreary or not serious enough, given what was happening at that time. Over 600,000 soldiers died during the Civil War. Some experts say that approximately 50,000 of those soldiers died at Gettysburg alone. This was a dark and horrific time in American history and the tone of this movie would be very important indeed and would have to toe a certain line... which Spielberg managed to do with so much finesse and love.

The movie showed Lincoln as a storyteller as well as a man beaten down by years of war and yet maintaining his heart and his belief that he was on a path that he could not walk away from. The movie was in turn light and sentimental and then brutal and heartbreaking. Parts of the movie reminded me very strongly of To Kill A Mockingbird (one of my favorite movies of all time) - it was the sort of courtroom drama that leaves the audience with the idea that... people can be better. That we, as a society and as a nation, have the power to make things better for ourselves. Personally I don't even think it was a story entirely about Lincoln: they didn't delve too heavily into his personal life (with exception of some wonderful, sometimes heart wrenching scenes with Sally Fields). I also don't think it showed the world through rose-colored glasses, either. It showed us a war-torn nation that just wanted the war to end, whatever it took. Free the black citizens? Release the slaves? Fine, whatever, if it'll end the war, do it. That was the mentality of so many people of those times, and Lincoln had to live with that reality and push forward anyway. And don't get me started on the superb job that Tommy Lee Jones pulled off. That magnificent bastard had me in tears by the end.

As a whole, the cast was amazing. Daniel Day-Lewis, as usual, was absolute perfection. There is nothing that man can't do. James Spader and John Hawkes provided much needed levity, but never crossed the line to buffoonery. And I cannot leave out Jared Harris, of Mad Men fame. He played an understated Ulysses S. Grant with a quiet strength. No, he didn't have a big role in the film, but he was able to convey so much in a look - and his final scene with Lincoln was another tearjerker for me.

All in all, I give it an A!

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

I'll be honest. I have developed a strange weakness for these horrible movies. I don't know why or when it happened but here we are. I am not going to go into any great detail because we all know the story and it's a silly one - one that makes very little sense and stars two very horrible leads. I will say this, though: of all the Twilight movies, this one was the best. I was engaged the whole time. My mind didn't wander. Honestly, I think it was because they had FINALLY moved past the "will they/won't they" phase of the story and the action finally started to pick up. Granted the action STILL didn't take place until the last 30 minutes of the movie, but the build up was interesting enough to keep me engaged. And the battle at the end was GLORIOUS. Honestly, had all the movies been like this, I would have been an avid defender of these films... but alas, it was mostly about a stupid girl who keeps chasing after some guy that keeps abusing her (both physically and emotionally) until he finally realizes he can't get rid of her so.... he marries her. At 18. Because he will only have sex with her if they're married? And she really wants to have sex, so she's like, "Sure whatevs"? Honey, you can get it from someplace else, he's not worth it! Ugh. I'm getting all mad but my point is... I actually think the final movie was decent if only because it was so absurdly gruesome.

I give it... hmmm... as a series, I give is C-. As a stand alone, a B-.


What can I say? I love me some James Bond. I am a defender of most Bond movies, even the really bad ones (example: The Living Daylights, which I will openly admit was dull as dirt during most parts, but was a welcome change from goddamn Roger Moore's buffoonery). Given all of that, I will say that this was probably the best Bond flick I have seen in YEARS. Now, I adored Casino Royale, and I loved Daniel Craig's rough, hard-bitten version of Bond. Bond as a figure of action. Bond as a flawed man. Bond as a dark commentary of our times. He is real, he is a person, he is brooding but not for the sake of brooding - because of what life has done to him. He's never too elegant. He's not perfect. He's no Sean Connery - the international man of mystery who always does his job to perfection and never falters. I love this new Bond... however, as much as I loved Casino Royale, I think it was a touch too dark. And.... I won't even discuss Quantum of Solace (aka one of two bond films, with License to Kill, that I will loathe forever). I will just pretend it didn't happen. So moving on - back to Skyfall - this movie finally managed to do everything I wanted a Bond movie to do: combine the New Grittier Bond with the Old Traditions of Bond. The cast in this movie was amazing - Bond's chemistry with pretty much everyone was right on point. I hope this entire cast is in the next Bond flick, because it was absolute perfection. I won't say more because I don't want to give any spoilers... but there were reinvented characters, already famous from Bond folklore, that have emerged bigger and better - honoring the old fans, and bringing something fresh for the new ones.

But the best thing for me is that the movie managed to keep a good pace (something that Bond movies are famously bad at) and wasn't afraid to be a little cheeky. Also, there was never a clear morale compass telling you, "These are the good guys and these are the bad guys." The movie was gray, and the relationship between Bond and M (the wonderful Judi Dench) was fantastic and beautiful and never too sentimental because that wouldn't be quite right. 

I'm going to make a bold statement. With Casino Royale and now Skyfall, I may have to admit that Craig is my favorite Bond. I know, I know, it may be too early to tell... but he is at least tied with Connery. I love them both for very different reasons. Connery is a caricature. Craig is a man. Maybe one more movie will solidify my opinion one way or another. Either way, this was a great film and highly recommended.

I give it an A-. (The minus is because while the pace was good, there was still a little dragging in the middle.)

The Sessions

I saw Skyfall with my dad and we were supposed to go to another movie together but after lunch he ended up meeting a friend for drinks and I decided to see another movie by myself at E Street Cinema (my second home). I also figured I'd see a movie that I knew I would never see with my dad... The Sessions, the story about a polio-stricken and physically paralyzed man who realizes the only way he's going to lose his virginity is by hiring a "sex surrogate." This movie was funny, insightful, brave, and way more upfront about the realities of sex than most American films tend to be. It never holds back, but it also doesn't use sex as some sad and dark backdrop like in Shame (which, by the way, is actually fantastic and should be seen immediately if you haven't yet). The movie never really has you feeling sorry for the story's protagonist. John Hawkes (who I love love LOVE) manages to make him quizzical and earnest but not saintly. He is charming and yet quietly frustrated, but not angry at the world. Also, while the sex in the movie can be a tad graphic (as it should, considering the subject matter and the whole basis of the film), it never quite feels... cheap. 

It was a sweet and honest and was a testament to the strength and beauty of the human spirit. I definitely walked out of the theater thinking, "Shit, life is pretty good." You probably will too!

I give it an A-. 

And last and definitely least... 

Easy A

First of all, I have seen this movie before. I watched it at a friend's house ages ago, and I remember thinking it was kind of cute in that teen movie sort of way. I have a weakness for teen movies and tv shows (i.e. my obsession with John Hughes and The O.C.). It only makes sense that this movie, Easy A, with its constant Hughes movie references and its quirky cast and its wicked humor would be a no-brainer - of course I'd love it! But when I watched it a second time, the rose-colored glasses fell of of my face and shattered into a lot of little pieces.

Here's the thing. Remember how I said one of the reasons I loved The Sessions was because it wasn't cheap? Well Easy A is as cheap as it gets. Not sexually - but thematically. The movie is trying so HARD to be a John Hughes movie and at one point, the main character actually makes us sit through a manage of John Hughesian film clips: fist pumping, riding on a lawn mower, and fucking Jake Ryan. Hey, Easy A - don't throw Jack Ryan in my face. The audience this is appealing too, by the way, probably don't even understand the epicness of Jake Ryan anyway. Even I - as much as I adore the shit out of Sixteen Candles - was only 1 year old when that movie came out. Come on. It would make more sense if you referenced movies like Clueless, given the age of the central character. Also, Emma Stone's  main antagonist, Marianne (annoyingly played by Amanda Bynes) is a COMPLETE ripoff from Saved!'s Hilary Faye (played with delicious insanity by Mandy Moore). In fact, this whole movie was just a crappy version of Saved! so if you decide you want to see Easy A, just go watch Saved! instead. It's smarter, edgier, and never quiiiiiiitttttte steps over the line of "too ridiculous to believe."

So yeah. Easy A is what would happen if Saved! and Every John Hughes Movie Ever got together and had a really stupid baby. Actually, let's throw Mean Girls in there too. The parents in Easy A? Delightful but delightful rip off from Lindsay Lohan's quirky parents in Mean Girls.

Also just as a side note: Lisa Kudrow's entire character was fucking pointless. I know I said I'd avoid spoilers but I'm warning you now, I'm about to give one: why the HELL did they have Kudrow there for about two scenes only for the purpose of having an affair with Marianne's boyfriend? It would have made way more sense if Marianne was secretly having sex with her boyfriend - will all her crazy protesting against sex and sin. This could have acted as the flip side of Olive, Emma Stone, who was lying that she was having sex to.... what? Be more popular? Get more money? To help out poor sex-starved students? Her intentions aren't even clear. Ugh. Such a mess.

All in all, I think a big part of the reason I can't stand this movie is because it not only lacks ANY originality or genuine smarts, but after recently seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I don't think I can ever watch another mindless teen film again. I won't get into my love for Perks; this post is already becoming a beast and  I could talk about that movie and how perfect it is all day long.

I will close with one last thought: John Hughes films definitely had some cookie cutter endings. I won't act like they didn't. I mean, Jake Ryan and the fucking birthday cake? That scene alone probably ruined me for life. And Judd Nelson getting with the prom queen in The Breakfast Club? And the whole group bonding? No one's life is like a John Hughes movie, not really (though I think we've all been friends with a Duckie at some point in our lives). Easy A beat this idea over our heads over and over and over again... but the thing is... there's a certain sentimentality that John Hughes was able to bring into absurd situations. There is a heart to his films. To this day, I still get chills when I watch the scene between the principle in the Breakfast Club and Judd Nelson, in the closet. The scene where you realize, this "punk," this "trouble maker"... he's just a kid who has had a pretty shit time in life and just needs one person to show him that they give a shit. And the reality of that moment, when you see how scared he actually is, makes all the other absurd things that happen somehow not so absurd. There's never That Moment in Easy A. And because of that, it fails.

Therefore, I give it a D. It didn't get an F because I did kind of like her parents in the movie, goddammit.

And that's all there is, folks! Next post: Holiday Cheer is Here!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Case of the Smug Couples

OK, so my last two posts were all happy smile time and yay let's make the world a better place! I stand by those posts and actually, just in general my posts have been very optimistic... but I want to get back to my roots, my true love: hating on things.

Today's topic is Smug Couples. Now let me preface what I'm about to say by stating that I do not HATE coupled people. Some of my closest and most awesome friends are great couples that I love hanging out with and who in turn love hanging out with me (I hope). This is not me bashing on the idea of being coupled. I'm not one of those single people that feel the need to validate their own lives by cutting down on other people's lives, which is actually a perfect segue into my current gripe...

Please don't pity me because I'm single. Don't treat me like my life experiences aren't as important as yours. Don't spend an entire conversation talking about how AWESOME your awesome married life is and then act dismissive when I try to discuss my own life. When you use phrases like, "You'll find someone one day!" or comment on how HAPPY you are that you don't have to deal with being single anymore when I tell an anecdote about my life, it pisses me off. Sometimes when I'm out with a Smug Couple, and they tell a darling story about making dinner together or about an Everybody-Loves-Raymond-type spat they had over some sort of mundane household task, I sit and I listen and and I don't get all shitty about it and say, "This is boring. Let's talk about me now." When I tell a self-deprecating story about a bad date or something, please give me the same amount of respect and don't use the previously stated Rude Couple Phrase ("You'll find someone one day!" or some shit about kissing frogs) because I politely listened to you when you told your boring ass story about taking out the garbage or repainting your house or whatever it was. Do me the same courtesy. I have actually had people - multiple times - tell me that my stories about being single make them uncomfortable. Really? Because I fucking LOVE the 10,000 stories I have to hear about your kid peeing the bed or you constantly bickering with your significant other. Yep I FUCKING LOVE IT. Only actually, I don't so suck it up and listen to me and don't try to make me feel like a loser for choosing a different path in life than you.

I like being single. I like it just as much as you like sharing your life with someone. I am not alone - I have a lot of friends and family. I have a job that doesn't drive me too crazy and gives me the opportunity to travel every now and again. I make a decent wage. I have a pup that I adore and keeps me company. I am not saying these things to validate anything to anyone - I'm just stating some facts so that the Smug Couples of the world can rest assured that I am doing just fine and I am happy with where my life is right now.

Let's all embrace the differences in all our lives - celebrate them and not cut each other down. It's the spice of life, after all - all those differences! You accept mind and I'll accept yours.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Charity: The Finest Thing in Life

So hey, you know what's hard? Saving money when you're a single gal in the city, supporting yourself, on a so-so salary. The problem is I really love life so much. I mean, as my friend Caraline would say, it's an awesome problem to have! But still a problem.

I love to go out and experience new things - new restaurants, new bars, new destinations. I don't have anything tying me down so I can just say, "Hey! I'm going to NYC this weekend! Why not?" I love buying pretty things. I like treating my friends to things. I like taking myself to the movies. I like celebrating birthdays and weddings and babies! There are more important things in life than money and objects... but seriously, a new pair of burgundy-colored Wellies would make me feel very close to euphoric. They're beautiful and imagine all the puddles I could splash in and how adorable I'd look doing it! Oh, and gosh, and getting manicures at Mimosa Salon - the hand massages and the free glasses of champagne? I mean, if that isn't happiness, I don't know what is!

And please... don't even get me started on my books. And magazine subscriptions! Where would my life be without F. Scott Fitzgerald and Martha Stewart? The dumps, that's where.

That all being said, I clearly have a problem, yes? I love life too much! I just need to learn how to reallocate that money-spending energy which brings me to...

I actually had a conversation with a friend the other day, and I went on my usual tirade on the importance of taking action and getting involved in our communities. I volunteer but not as much as I used to and not as much as I should. I want to give back and I feel pretty passionately about it but I let excuses like work get in the way. And honestly, I hang out with my friends a lot... I could sacrifice a couple happy hours a week and do more, can't I? Shouldn't I?

I decided that I'm going to start going to DC City Council meetings and learn more about local legislature and how it impacts the community. I need to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I'm constantly telling people they have the power to do more, and you know what? So do I.

I love the finer things in life and they make me happy - fancy dinners and nice dresses and weekend trips. But I think giving back would actually make me way happier.

Hey who knows? Maybe I'll be the next Leslie Knope! Maybe with slightly less pep and cuter outfits.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Electionistis

I haven't posted to my blog in... well, a pretty long time. And honestly, who knows how long it will be until I post again? But I felt really compelled today after reading post after post after post on Facebook about the "fantastic" news that Barack Obama will be spending another four years in office.

Here's the thing: I've been pretty vocal about my dissatisfaction with the President for the last two years. I don't really feel like showing a laundry list of reasons, but let's just say that his grasp on the appropriate way to approach human rights and economics have left me troubled. That being said, yes, I voted for him four years ago and yes, I voted for him again this time around and I don't regret either decision. This year, I struggled with the idea that maybe I don't need to vote at all - over the last couple of years, I have grown to be disillusioned about the state of our government and the people who are running the show. I am at the point where I don't actually believe that there is much of a difference between the candidates because the system in which they are working in is the problem. At the same time, however, over the last couple of months I've realized that while the system has deficiencies, it is still the system that we have and until people are ready to create something new we need to figure out a way to make the system work for us.

Also, Mitt Romney's extreme conservatism really scares me as a black woman who feels that the topic of equal rights in this country is of the utmost importance. Sorry, Mitt - you need to shut up about what I do with my body and let my homosexual friends have the same rights that the rest of us do. The end.

Obama is not perfect but at the very least he has his pulse on the American people - for better or for worse. He understands that people, that this whole society, is ready for progress and people are not interested in backtracking. For the most part, I think that Americans are incredibly good at burying their heads in the sand and pretending that things are going better than they are. But really, who wants to believe that they don't have quite as many freedoms as they think? We've all been guilty of it. I know I have. I don't think I'm this well of enlightenment that knows what's best for everybody. Do we break down the system completely and create something totally new? Do we strive towards improving the system we already have? Do we accept that we can only do so much and just trust that the people we elect into office will have our best interest at heart? I honestly don't know. But what I do know is that people don't want to move back in time. Regardless of if you're an Obama supporter or not, the fact that he was voted into office twice shows me that people really really want change for the better - even if they don't really know how to get it. I think we are clinging to the idea that Obama to create that for us, but there's more to it than that.

I had my doubts about voting, but I'm glad I did and I'm glad so many others did as well. It proved that people WANT to do something. People want to make things better. I just hope it doesn't end with the election season.

I implore you all: while I do not have all the answers, I know this much - real honest change happens from the bottom up. Changing things doesn't mean voting for some rich people to dig us out of our troubles. Friends, get out there in your communities. Get involved in grassroots. Attend city council meetings and familiarize yourself with smaller government systems. Do volunteer work - help others that really need it. Be there for each other - really be present in your community. We can't wait for President Obama or Congress or anyone else to do all the work for us. Make your voice heard. Take real action.

I know these taglines are heard everywhere, but these aren't just words. Let's not stop working towards a better day. Voting is nothing but a stepping stone, if anything. Don't get comfortable - there is so much that needs to get done, guys.

So celebrate that Obama won but keep caring as much as you cared yesterday. And for those of you who voted for Mitt Romney or a third party or didn't vote at all - that goes for you too. You're not happy? Then do something about it. Your candidate losing the election does not spell doom. There's so much more you can do; really change is a collaborative experience. Let Congress do the bickering while we work towards improving things in our communities. We honestly have more power than we think, and it's about time we realized that and used it.

And those are my two cents but I'm happy to hear what the rest of you think!