Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Golden Compass

Mike and I went to see The Golden Compass last weekend, and I was very happy with the result. I love the books and so was a little nervous, as always, about seeing the adaptation - especially since most reviews agreed that it was too short. Mike tried to MST3K the whole movie, but he eventually got into the plot and shut the hell up.

Which... well, the plot is pretty complicated. Though I thought that the filmmakers did a lovely job of incorporating all of the most important plot points, it was much too rushed. The movie could have been better had they taken just a little more time to explain things further.

The Golden Compass, based the first book in a trilogy by Phillip Pullman, tells the story of Lyra Belacqua, an orphan living amongst the scholars of Oxford. But this isn't the Oxford of our world; instead it is a world where people's souls are manifested outside of their bodies, in the form of mammals, reptiles, and birds (and many more, I would guess). This being is a daemon. Children's daemons can change shape and make at will, usually depending on the child's mood, while adults' daemons "settle" once they reach puberty.

Lyra is soon thrust into a world of intensity, one in which the very notion of free will is being threatened. She embarks on a journey to save her kidnapped friend and meets a fascinating cadre of characters to assist her on her (unknown) quest.

Lyra is portrayed by twelve-year-old Dakota Blue Richards, one of ten thousand girls who auditioned for the role, and she is magical. She takes a very complex role, even for an adult, and makes it look effortless. She was the perfect choice.

Also perfect? The rest of the cast.

Daniel Craig portrays Lord Asriel, a scholar looking for funding to study the properties of "dust" and the ways in which it effects humans and the human condition. He's a bad ass. And beautiful. So, so beautiful.

Nicole Kidman, who was apparently hand-picked by the author himself, portrays Mrs. Marisa Coulter, an icy bitch of a woman whose intentions are sugar-coated with lies and misinformation.

Lee Scoresby, an American aviator, is portrayed by Sam Elliot, and is instrumental in helping Lyra begin her quest.

Eva Green wonderfully fits the role of Serafina Pekkala, the queen of the witches. She is so eerily gorgeous that it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.

Sir Ian McKellen voices Iorek Byrnison, an armored polar bear, who has had his kingdom stolen and has been imprisoned by humans.

It was beautifully done and extremely entertaining. I really do love when beloved books are brought to the big screen, regardless of the almost inevitable butcher job they receive. I let a few excited squeals escape during the film, which was entertaining to Mike, I'm sure, but they were genuine.

And Mike was intrigued enough to order the books the next day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This is What Showers in Hell Must Be Like

Poor Amanda - she has a cute little studio near Union Station (just a block from the house from hell) with a huge closet, fireplace, and amazing bookshelf, but with the smallest water heater known to man.

She would complain of having to shower twice if she wanted to shave her legs. The hot water would run out so fast that she'd barely have time to rinse the conditioner from her hair before succumbing to icy spears of water driving into her back. The tragic thing is, she'd complained early on to her landlord, an elderly man who lives upstairs, about the lack of water, and he'd already replaced the water heater. So she's stuck.

And even though my shitty house had no fucking heat, it did have a bitchin' water heater. Even when I moved to the new place on Constitution Avenue, I enjoyed an amazing shower experience. Hell, I enjoyed an amazing bathroom experience. I had a bathroom to myself for the first time in over four years, so a bucket of water with holes poked in the bottom would have been fine with me as long as I didn't have to share.

Then I moved to my sweet little studio loft in Ann Arbor. This 100-year-old house boasts some amazing details, including hardwood floors, lots of windows, and an antique claw foot bathtub.

It's cute. But it's old. And so the first time I stepped into that tub for a shower, I was expecting the worst.

It... wasn't that bad. The water pressure was acceptable, and considering the age of the plumbing and the seemingly half-assed installation...

... I was prepared for either a trickle of water or an explosion. I wasn't really prepared for the actual result.

I don't know if it's just me and my OCD tendencies, but I have a set shower routine. Wash face, then body, followed by hair care. If I feel like shaving, or even if I don't, but if skipping shaving would likely scare small children, I'll throw that in after shampooing but before conditioning.

This has always worked for me and I've rarely deviated from this routine. Of course, this was before I realized that my hot water runs out after about five minutes.

Now, if you're like me, you like to enjoy your shower. You like to relax a little, feel warm, close your eyes and daydream about not going to work... Ahh... That's not really an option here. You get in, get out, and curse you for thinking that bathing was anything more than a necessary evil in life!

So here's my new routine:

~Start shower with the cold water turned up as high as one can bear.

~Step into shower, stifle a scream at the impact of what feels like water piped in from the Arctic, and wrestle with the two shower curtains. Attempt to seal the two together to prevent any warm air from entering your cocoon-like shower, but then remember that one must reach through the curtain to access products like soap:

~Wash face. Rinse. Slightly lower the cold water.

~Put soap on shower pouf. Slightly lower cold water.

~Wash body. Rinse. Slightly lower cold water.


~Wash hair. Rinse. Slightly lower cold water.

~Condition hair. Attempt to wait a few minutes for conditioner to treat hair effectively. Feel the hot water fading and goosebumps forming.

~More than slightly lower col - wait! There's no cold water left! The only thing left is lukewarm "hot" water, and it's got a shelf life of about two minutes. Balls. (Also, say "balls" aloud.)

~Quickly rinse conditioner from hair, silently cursing about the headache one's sure to have when the comb gets stuck in a tangled bird's nest of hair.

~Turn off shower with foot, then turn off faucet with shivering hands.

~Instead of reaching for the towel immediately, use one's hands to squeegee off as much water as possible from the body.

~Take a deep breath, reach through the opening in the shower curtain, and blindly grab for the towel that YOU PRAY you remembered to hang there. From this point on, time is the enemy. Dry off as quickly as possible or risk losing your important parts to frostbite.

Right, so claw foot tubs are great: they're unique, charming, and comfortable... if you have a separate shower. I've taken lovely baths in my charming tub, practically scalding myself on the water, so why does the shower suck so hard?

I mean, I would just take a GD bath if it meant that the water would stay warm for more than a few minutes, but unless you're K-10, whose certifiable mother allowed only baths because showers left the bathroom "dirty," you'll feel as I do: baths are for relaxing, not bathing. I feel clean after a shower. I feel like I need a shower after a bath.

Weird? It's cool. I'm crazy.

And still shivering from my morning shower.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Alchemist, or How I Found the Nicest, Feel-Goodiest Book Ever Written


I'd say that I am speechless, but if you know me at all you know that this is a lie. And we shouldn't lie. Lying is bad.

The Alchemist. This book made me feel so, so good. It's about following your dreams and listening to your heart, and I feel as if I now have a glow about me.

I read another book by the author, Paulo Coelho, and it made me feel the same way. But The Alchemist made me feel even better. Even better, you say?


A young Spanish shepherd's recurring dream leads him to abandon all that he knows and all that is comfortable to see if he can realize that dream. He leaves Spain for Africa and his life changes in ways he could have never imagined. By following omens and signs, he is able to realize that life is meant to be cherished. It's a simple plot, but one that inspires.

Please read this book. Really. Take a break from complicated plots and heavy tomes and pick up The Alchemist instead. You'll finish it in a day and you'll be better for it.

You can borrow mine, if you'd like.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I was at the mall the other day when I spied a great sign posted near the register of an autonomous unit for mid-mall snacking:

"We will be happy to serve you once you've finished your call."

THANK YOU, Surf City Squeeze! I've never understood why people can't unglue their GD cell phones from their ears for the three minutes it takes to order a smoothie or pay for a pair of shoes. Absolutely brilliant. It makes me love the Squeeze even more.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Time My Car Got Stuck in the Driveway and I Had to Lay in the Street to Free It From the Evil, Evil Snow

So there's snow here. Snow that fell in many, many inches and which did not melt immediately the next day.

In fact, as I had stayed at Mike's on the night of the snowfall, and I had to aim for the driveway with a wing and a prayer, my car was ultimately trapped once the plows came through late that night. We had a date night planned on Tuesday, and in my excitement to leave, I may have underestimated the height and pure evil-ness of the snow drift blocking my driveway.

I really thought that I had hit the gas. I really thought that I would just bust through the snow pile and be off. I really thought that my little 'Scort was a force.

I really thought wrong.

My poor little car got mad stuck. Half in the street, half in the driveway, the 'Scort was PISSED. I thought that it was just a matter of getting rid of the snow behind the tires, but the smell of burning rubber told me that it was more than just a bit of snow. The tires were on the ground, but the underside of the car was stuck on the snow.

So there I was, laying on my stomach in the street, trying to remove the snow from underneath the car. I cleared out bits of snow on both sides and then attempted to put the car in reverse. I did this about a million times, but my windshield scraper was only so long. I was absolutely soaked through, and after twenty minutes or so, in tears. Plus, I was a little nervous that someone was going to come barreling down the street in a car that said, "suck it" to snow, and that it would spin wildly out of control, hit the 'Scort, and annihilate me in the ridiculous process.

Yes, a bit much, I know, but I was distraught. And covered in snow.

I finally wised up and went to beg for help. Just as I climbed up the stairs to the porch next door, Bob the Neighbor answered the door. He was putting on his coat, about to come tow the 'Scort out from oblivion. Thank goodness, as I was about ten seconds from just leaving the damn thing to its own devices.

Thanks to a big American truck and a tow rope, my little car was free in seconds. Thanks to Bob. And no thanks to you, snow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trimming the Tree

It was a nice quiet evening at my parents' house. Well, except for the rambunctious two-year-old. Additionally, I pulled a muscle in my back and wanted to cry all night. Because I'm old now.

Anyway, I'm currently working on a few posts, including my review of The Golden Compass and also The Time My Car Got Stuck in the Driveway and I Had to Lay in the Street to Free It From the Evil, Evil Snow, but I have to get ready for work, so here are some lovely pictures to tide you over:

Grandpa and his granddaughters. And Stewie.
Also, they keep saying they're going to tear out that carpet.
I wish I could believe them.

Steven and Alexis.
And my bedroom door. Lord.

So cute it hurts. Basically.

How a two-year-old decorates a tree.
And feel free to make fun of the tree. We do.
Drives the Lady nuts.

So tiny!
(The picture in the background is for Amanda.
Next time I'll get an actual shot of it for you.)

I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to spend the whole Christmas season with my family. None of this "flying in for three days" crap. And none of the "we sent your suitcase to Manila" crap, either. Nice!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

First Big Snowfall

This is what we in the Midwest call "snow."

It started snowing Saturday night at some point,
and the plows are just now getting to my street.
It's eleven p.m. On Sunday.

My neighbor shoveled!
Thanks, neighbor!

The hippie colorful house across the street.

My cute little house.
With a good six inches of snow on the porch.

To get my car into the driveway today, I had to gun it in the direction of where I thought the driveway should be. It was super fun!

Okay, I just went downstairs to watch the snowplow, and it totally took out garbage can after garbage can. It was like demolition derby down there. I actually "whoo!ed" when one can went flying.

It doesn't take much to amuse me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Oh, And Also Get Stamps"

I popped into the Post Office yesterday to buy some stamps for my Christmas cards, and the line was as long as... well, it was long.

I opted for the stamp vending machine instead, and purchased these adorable Christmas stamps for $8.20. Which is all well and good, as I had a crisp tenner in my wallet.

Did you know that the little machine gives coins as change? Coins and only coins? It does. And did you know that it gives dollar coins as change? Oh, it does. And did you know that dollar coins even exist?

I did not know this. And they're not the Sacajawea coins of legend. No, they have good old G dub on the face, Lady Liberty on the back, and they look like fucking Chuck E. Cheese tokens.

No shopkeep is going to accept this crapper of a coin! It's like trying to buy a bottle of water with a one hundred dollar bill.

And, not because I feel I should explain my insane references, but I absolutely love the running gag in this Friends episode.

Ross: "Hey, was Monica here?"
Rachel: "Yeah."
Ross: "Yeah, I want my money back."
Rachel: "You probably need that for stamps, right?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Oh man, it's icy here. And I bit it. Hard.

I journeyed to my parents' house on Sunday for dinner - something that I hadn't really done in five years, and may have perhaps taken for granted. My mom went all out with the sauerkraut and kielbasa and pierogies and it was lovely and perfect. Well, for the most part.

Michigan is getting hit with the edge of the ice storm that has crippled the midsection of the country, and while the roads were okay, the sidewalks and driveways were NOT.

My dad had shoveled, scraped, and salted, but he was no match for Mother Nature. Neither, apparently, were my sensible boots. I wasn't wearing four-inch pointy-toed things, no. Sensible. Flat boots. With Thinsulate!

I parked the 'Scort in front of the house, loaded my arms with bags and treats, and started making my way to the porch. I gingerly stepped onto the lower half of the driveway, noticed that it was extremely slippery, and took my time.

The ice was all, "Whatever, bitch. Enjoy your fall!"

That's when the neighbors got a show. It was pretty much as follows:

"Whoa... careful, it's slippery... Whoa, whoa, WHOA..." Arms flailing and kablam-o.

And that is why my knee was bleeding all night. Ew.

And then we lost power. Kari couldn't feed the baby, Steven couldn't watch the Red Wings, my parents were worried about all of us driving, and we couldn't warm up any more food.

So everyone went home, the end.

Monday, December 10, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

Let's play, "What the hell is that?"

Any guesses? Or is it too obvious?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Multiple, So... Many... Splinters

The moral of this story is...

... don't be surprised when a do-it-yourself from Ikea ends up looking like complete shit.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Digs. Let Me Show You Them.

Digs is right, isn't it? I don't know. I feel like an old woman lately. When I go to work and see all of the students on campus, I just want to scream, "What the hell is wrong with you kids? It is FIFTEEN DEGREES out here! WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WEARING A HAT?"

Right. Anyway...

I only had a few days to find an apartment in Michigan, and I wasn't going to be able to do it in person. Frustrating, but I turned to the magic of Craigslist.

Craigslist has been instrumental in helping me find roommates in the past few years. From Laura to CreePaul to Jenny to Jen, it had yet to fail me.

And it won out again. I found a very large studio loft apartment west of campus, and my mom went to check it out for me.

The west side of Ann Arbor is one of the oldest parts of the city, where houses are routinely over one hundred years old. And that was exactly what I was looking for: an apartment in a house. I haven't lived in a high-rise type apartment building, and so I can't be too candid, but I was pretty sure that it wasn't for me. I need something with character, not a cookie cutter version of the apartment next door. And if I wanted to live somewhere with hallways, I'd move into a hotel.

University students typically live north, east, and south of campus, while the west side remains untouched by the "beer bashes" and the "beer pong on the front yard" parties. (Seriously, could I sound more middle-aged?) It has older residents, young families, and young professionals. Like me! It is perfect.

I was thrilled when my mom called to tell me that she'd written a check on my behalf. I knew that it was going to be awesome.

After ten hours in the Uhaul, walking into this place was magical. And once I had everything in place (something that took almost two weeks), I felt as if I had always been here.

The pictures don't do it justice, because it's difficult to tell how big it actually is. There's also a great deck out back, but it was too fucking cold to take pictures out there last night. Feast your eyes anyway. FEAST!

The remainder of my picture-snapping extravaganza can be viewed here. The keen eye will be able to pick up on several boxes STILL in the apartment, and I have yet to put the dust ruffle on my bed, but I DON'T CARE. I'm exhausted and you guys can suck it.

Haha, I mean, I love you! Please come visit!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Warm Beaches and Smooth Roads. And SNOW.

It snowed yesterday. Again. And it was absolutely beautiful.

Until I stepped outside. The walks were covered in a light powder, but there was no way of knowing where evil ice lurked underneath. Ice! Evil! Heather slip and fall on ass!

(I haven't fallen yet. YET.)

I carefully made my way to the bus stop and, as luck would have it, the bus was running late. I was sure that I had missed it already, and was prepared to walk the rest of the way to the museum, when it turned the corner and made my day.

The driver apparently hadn't read his "there is much snow on the ground" memo this morning and was just careening around corners to make up for the lost time. It was like being on a ride at Cedar Point! Whee! Enjoy the rest of your day at America's Roller Coast!

Right, so I arrived at work in one piece. Here is a view from my office:

Hi, I'm the Chem Building. I have a 400-seat lecture hall.
Fear my glory.

See, not too much snow. Snow like this would have crippled DC for hours, but as we aren't big, fat wusses here in Michigan, we prevailed. We kicked snow in the neck and said, "Suck it, snow!"

Oh, who am I kidding? I was FREEZING on the bus stop and it's windy and I've gone soft from living in DC for five years. The weather channel says that it's 22 degrees but "feels like" 11. Sweet Lord! It was just plain bitter out there!

My friend Jason emailed me this morning:

How did the move go? Are you enjoying our warm beaches, smooth roads, and booming economy? :)

Exactly, Jason. EXACTLY.

And last night, the low was five. FIVE DEGREES.

Yep. Welcome back to the Midwest. Bitch.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Letter Box

The building in which my museum is housed is quite old. It was completed in 1928, though collection items were accessioned starting in the 1870s.

So it comes as no surprise to stumble upon gems like this:

It's a working mailbox and it's located on the main floor. It actually has a mail chute from the fourth floor on down, for those extra lazy employees. I don't know that the chute still works, but I wouldn't risk it!

I love that the mail carrier has to have a special key to open the letter box. It's just... charming. And I think that it's pretty awesome that the postal service hasn't called for its removal.

Tree Fish?


The people I work with? Are weird.

Okay, not really. They're just excellent model-makers and they happen to be quite skilled at fish. Fish is a specialty. So, there are fish... in many places. The one in the tree is my favorite, though. Especially as it's directly next to my desk.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitch

If anyone gets that amazing reference, I will be happy -- I won't be the only person to remember that ridiculous show.

For the past two nights, I've been watching "Tin Man," a dark retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maybe I'm just a huge nerd, but I think that it is absolutely fantastic. I can't remember when I've been so disappointed for a commercial break, even when I've been drinking so much pomegranate white tea I'm practically bursting at the seams.

I don't at all mind the little shout-outs to the MGM masterpiece - the main character's name is DG (Dorothy Gale?), she's a waitress in a diner where her uniform consists of a blue and white gingham dress... actually, I don't want to ruin anything else. These little inclusions by the screenwriters are brilliant, and everyone should have a chance to pick up on them all.

DG, Zooey Deschanel, lives in the Midwest with her parents, but she doesn't feel as if she belongs. Lucky for her, a massive storm (tornado) arrives and whisks her away... to the Outer Zone (OZ!).

Alan Cumming is absolutely superb, both comedically and dramatically, as Glitch (The Scarecrow), a former government advisor in the O.Z. who has since had half of his brain removed by Azkadellia (The Wicked Witch of the West? I'm not sure...), the evil sorceress. She's played by Kathleen Robertson, who I mainly recognize as Clare from "Beverly Hills, 90210," so I find it funny that her bio on Sci Fi's page doesn't include that little tidbit. Heh. She's completely over the top with her performance, but it's quite perfect.

Neal McDonough plays Cain (The Tin Man), was once a high-ranking secret policeman in the O.Z., but was imprisoned for years when he was discovered to be part of the resistance mounting against Azkadellia.

Raoul Trujillo plays a semi-muted role as Raw (The Cowardly Lion), a half-human, half-wolverine creature known as a "viewer,: or psychic. He's kind and empathetic, though shattered by the torture he felt at the hands of Azkadellia.

Man, this Azkadellia chick is a bitch, huh?

And I can't forget to include The Mystic Man (The Wizard): Richard Dreyfuss. Enough said, I think.

There is a ton of mystery and intrigue in "Tin Man," but I wasn't surprised to find myself glued to the screen. Besides the premise, the acting chops of the cast were more than enough to pull me in. I've loved Deschanel since her role as Jovie in Elf, and I think that she's perfectly captivating as DG.

You can watch all of Part One on, and I highly recommend taking the time. Don't try to make too many connections to the 1939 film, because while there are some, you'll miss out on a remarkable retelling of a century-old tale.

The conclusion is tomorrow night. Woo!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The 'Scort

Heaven help me, I am driving the 'Scort again.

The icy sidewalk says,
"Go ahead. Just try and walk on me!"

This is The 'Scort. It's a 1996 Ford Escort. I've been driving it on and off since 1997. As a high school senior, I drove it to school even though I lived two blocks away. So... sorry about that, Greenzo. But did you really expect me to walk?

When I left for college, the 'Scort stayed home and my brother adopted it. Despite its turquoise exterior, he was thrilled to have a car to drive that wasn't my mom's minivan (the "Pimp Van," as he so affectionately dubbed it). When I moved into my own apartment after two years in the dorms, the 'Scort traveled to Ann Arbor with me.

Then it was off to DC in 2002. Living in Arlington for the first few years was fine for the 'Scort. She had a parking spot and didn't have to worry about zoned parking. And when the laundry room exposer prompted a move into DC, the 'Scort sadly couldn't make the trip.

I returned it to Michigan, into my brother's loving arms. They needed a second car now that there was a baby on the way. Coincidentally, that was the same trip that found me in the emergency room getting six stitches in my skull after passing out at the gynecologist's office.

And now, with Kari on maternity leave and a newborn and a toddler at home, the 'Scort is sitting in their garage, neglected and lonely. And since I don't yet have the resources to buy a car, I figured that no one would miss it. And they don't.

I arrived at my brother's house yesterday morning and found Steven out back, cleaning out the car. I knew that he was a bit of a mess and the 'Scort probably needed a little tidying up, but how bad could it be? What had happened?

Oh sweet Jesus.

My niece had happened. All over the backseat. There were crumbs of what I think were cheez-its, ground into the floor. Everything was sticky. Granted, the empty pop bottles were Steven's fault, because Alexis does not drink pop. Unless, of course, it's Christmas, and Uncle Jim gives her Vault without anyone realizing.

But Steven spent an hour outside, cleaning and vacuuming, and now it's as good as... a ten-year-old car. But it's clean!

Not having a car for a week wasn't a huge problem, and although I can catch buses to take me anywhere in Ann Arbor, I can't very well take a bus to my brother's house or to Meijer (Meijer!) or Target. My tiny car is a little worse for wear, but she still runs. And I'm lucky to have her again.

Now if I could afford gas, things would be perfect.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Desk

This is my desk at work. Apparently, we're smack dab in the middle of the rain forest.

There are leaves on my desk. Really.

This job is amazing. I am actually doing something that I love. I'm doing something at which I excel.

It's about time!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hello, I Am Here to Give You an Update

It's simply crazy the way things happen.

First, there was Thanksgiving. I have just one photo to prove that it happened, and it is here (if you took pictures, please send them to me!):

Hello, I am here to cook you turkey.

My dad and I were in the Uhaul on I-270 when my mom called to announce the birth of my second niece, Savannah. Kari went into labor two weeks early and the baby just happened to arrive when I was on my way home. Of course, the Uhaul wasn't as fast as my old little car, and it took ten hours to get to Michigan, rather than the usual eight.

Also, did you know that gas is expensive?

Hello, I am here to drain your bank account!

Instead of driving directly to Ann Arbor as previously planned, we drove to my parents house instead. My mom had the car running, so we hopped out of the Uhaul, into the minivan, and sped to the hospital. I held my infant niece and didn't want to let her go.

Hello, I am here to make you burst into tears for no reason.

Later, even though I was completely exhausted, we drove to Ann Arbor. In the Uhaul. Oh, we stopped for gas first, of course, and I just narrowly missed driving over the pump. I told you that I probably shouldn't drive, LADY. Hey, you can open your eyes now.

My new apartment is so much more than I expected. It's so cute!

(Here is where I would post a picture of said apartment, if it wasn't currently Cardboard Box City.)

I can't explain how I feel to be back in Michigan. I am so happy! Well, except for the 28 degree - FEELS LIKE 16 - weather. It's cold, y'all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mother Nature Says...

... welcome back to Michigan!

This is the view from my back entrance onto the deck. It started snowing around 7 p.m. and I, used to DC "snow," figured that it would be gone this morning. Nope!

Hope my 1.5 mile walk to work is fun!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Each and every person that I've known to leave the Smithsonian said the exact same thing to me when I brought up my exit clearance, "Once you go through that process, you'll be glad you're leaving."

I really thought that things would go smoothly today. I only had three offices left to visit, and I arrived at the Archives at nine o'clock on the dot. Because I had never used the archives, I was cleared immediately. I then headed to Human Resources where I was to conduct my exit interview.

Apparently, they just weren't feeling up to it this morning and the receptionist signed my forms instead.

Then I ventured to the ID Office and the Office of Protection Services.

The people in this office... well... let me ask you a rhetorical question: Why do people - who clearly hate other people - work in customer service positions? If you have ever worked at the Smithsonian and had to get an ID badge, you've met these people. You do not screw with these people. They will cut you. They are surly, angry, sad people, and I don't feel bad AT ALL about saying that. They acknowledge your attempts at politeness with a scowl and talk down to you like you are a complete idiot.

It was at the ID Office that I learned of an "error" in my forms. Since they had not been updated since 2003 (amazing), there were an additional TWO offices that I had to visit. AWESOME. The best part? One was in Chinatown and the other was at the Air and Space Museum.


So I trudged to Air and Space to visit the parking office. The parking office. I DON'T OWN A CAR. The guards there were completely unsympathetic, made fun of my last name because they couldn't pronounce it, and it took five minutes to get them to explain to me how to get to the fucking parking office. Thanks. Again, customer service? You? WHY?

I then hopped on the metro up to Chinatown to my old building. The SI health unit is still there in the basement and even though I had never set foot in there, I had to get cleared!

I understand why we have to complete this clearance, I do. But I am convinced that it is designed in such a way - without instructions, addresses, or phone numbers - as to encourage the exiting employee to just give up.

"You know what? Fuck it. I'm not hauling my ass to these FOURTEEN offices. I'll just stay."

But I completed everything, and my director filled in the last section. I handed over my letter of resignation, and... had to finish up about twelve million things. There was no bounding out of there with dust in my wake. And I still have to drop by on Friday to pick up the massive amount of junk that I had stashed there.

It was still sad to leave. To turn off my computer for the last time. To flip off my office light. But I'm going to be doing what I love in just a few, short days. I am not going to be sitting in front of a computer for hours on end. I am so excited. SO excited.

Forecast of My Day

Yesterday, my horoscope read:

Reflect on where you have been,
and look forward to where you are going.
It's a good time to put all the pieces together in your mind.

And then I started crying.

But really, how perfect was that? NICE TIMING, UNIVERSE. Thanks for the correct alignment of the planets or whatever, that allowed an astrologist to pen the perfect horoscope for me. (Or peer into a hat and read the words from plates or whatever.)

Today I complete my final stops on the exit clearance tour and it's going to be awesome. I might even stop for a mocha before heading into the office.

Getting dressed might be step one, however.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Packing is a big enough pain in the ass, but when you add in the clusterfuck that is an exit clearance, you get a very tired, very annoyed Donut.

For all of you federal employees out there: did you think that starting your job was ridiculous, what with the background checks and listing every single place you've lived and every single person you ever met EVER?

Exit clearances are worse.


In my case, my organization (oh, who cares at this point - I'm sure that most of you have figured out by now that I work at the Smithsonian) has offices all over the goddamn DC metro area and I have to go to twelve different places.


First, I have to go to the Library, even though I have NEVER HAD A LIBRARY CARD, and sign something that says that I never had a library card. So, time well spent.

Second, I have to go to the credit union. I don't have an account there, but I have to go nonetheless.

Third, I have to go to the Archives. I still haven't figured out why.

I can skip three offices, because I don't work with collection items, am not a foreign scholar, and don't have any outstanding lawsuits with the Institution. As far as I know.

Fourth, I have to go to the Comptroller and someone will walk my papers around to various people to get signatures. Really, that's what the receptionist told me when I called yesterday.

Fifth, I have to go to the Office of Contracting, to... I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do there.

(Did I mention that these two offices are in Crystal City?)

Sixth, the Accountable Property Officer has to sign off saying that I don't have any desk chairs in my back pocket. Or whatever - I'm not really sure.

Seventh, I have to go to the Office of Human Resources for my exit interview. "Why am I leaving? Well, though I enjoy being paid practically minimum wage, I'd like to pay off my graduate school student loans before I die."

Eighth, the Office of Protection Services, to turn in my badge. Sniff. And it says something about "medical records," which... I don't know.

Ninth, my office, to turn in keys, official records and files, manuals (obviously I would want to keep these forever), my government driver's license (what?), and my uniforms (I wish I had a uniform - I wouldn't play "try everything on and decide I hate everything I own" each morning).

Basically, this takes up an entire day. Whatever.

Okay, off to the credit union!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Boxes. They Will Soon Rule My World.

And I, for one, welcome our new box-like overlords!

But really, boxes are taking over my life:

What you don't know is that most of those contain books.
I have a problem.

Jen is a fantastic box putter-togetherer.

Merrick is a force.
Watch out for this girl, seriously.

The smartest thing that I did was order boxes from They arrived in two days (with free shipping!) and I feel good for using recycled boxes. Since I can't afford to hire movers, it was the next best thing.

The place is looking emptier, but the whole "moving" thing has yet to set in. I'm sure that will happen soon enough...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Murphy's and Cider and Fire, Oh My!

As part of Heather's Going Away Tour (copyright Shane), we hit up Murphy's on Saturday night for dinner and drinks and music. And drinks.

Hi Gabe! And hi, Heather's bra!

My boys.

Pat Carroll always brings in the crowds.
And he did play my favorite song, The Folksinger's Lament.
So I win.

Now that is a full pint.
I had five.

We were sitting directly in front of the downstairs fireplace.
There was sweat everywhere.

Check you later, Murphy's!
Thanks for the memories. And the pictures.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Going Far, Far Away

Amanda and I arrived at Ella's early for dinner, and it was a very smart decision in that it put food in my stomach. Because there was a little alcohol. As you will see.

This was meant to be the "before" shot.

Okay, one is water. So?

Josh does his best penguin impression.

The newlyweds mug it up.

Very nice.

Josh, will you be Old Roommate Jenny's new friend?
Check yes or no.

Hook 'em.
(I think that's right. Right?)

And I suppose this serves as the "after" photo, but it's really not that bad.

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to the two best bartenders in town, Chris and Mike.

I really am that pale.

Thanks for everything, guys. Ella's was the first happy hour I planned (back in 2003!), and it was only fitting that it served as my going-away venue. I don't know that I'll find a place like this again - a place where everyone really did know your name.

I had a blast, and I was so touched that so many people made it out! Check out all of the pictures here, including some that will make you think differently about putting pepper on your food.