Hey loser, why aren't you wearing a costume?

Well, I didn’t think of anything interesting to be for Halloween this year. I’ll just don my cat ears and hope that I don’t win the “lamest costume ever” award at my office. This morning, I saw a 50 year old in a cheerleading costume getting off the bus—that was a little weird, though I’m sure to see many more oddities before the day is over.


My one wish…

Is that the Safeway store clerks knew how to properly bag groceries. No, the bread and eggs don’t go on the bottom. Sure, you can put similar shapes and sizes together as long as it doesn’t make the bag too heavy and prone to rip. That’s basically all you need to know… a child or trained monkey could do it. But apparently not the folks who work at Safeway.


Enjoyed the DAM! Fest

I went to DAM! Festival shows at the Velvet Lounge on Friday. I had a good time, though I must note that the upstairs performance area is quite small. The whole setup was about as bit as a D.C. studio apartment—you could literally reach out and touch the band at any time. The crowd of mainly twenty-somethings was reasonable most of the night, not too crowdy and not too empty.

The English Department was my favorite and they were the most polished, followed by Let's French. Let's French guitarist was so into the music. He wouldn’t keep still but keep jumping around and gyrating to the music. My favorite part was when Mr. Overactive Guitarist finally started using the tambourine (more tambourine playing next time please!). The Nunchucks were okay. The keyboarding was annoying after a while and their sound just sort of bored me after a while. We left around 1, so we didn't get to catch the last band scheduled for the night.

I was inspired at the show to become more creative and possibly use music as a form of self-expression. But I can’t play an instrument or sing, though I guess that doesn’t mean I can’t be in a band. Also, the show gave me hope that there really is good music out there these days, not just the cookie-cutter pop, R&B and rock sound that I hear on the radio that is never revolutionary enough to outshine the greats of the past.


Joke for a Friday

Q: Why don't Republicans use bookmarks?

A: Because they like to bend pages over.

(A joke that I heard at the High Heel Race and have been dying to share.)


DAMFest 2006

I plan to head out to the Velvet Lounge for the District's Awake! Music Festival tomorrow. Olivia Mancini and the Housemates, Let's French, Nunchucks, and The English Department are playing (I have no idea who any of those groups are but this article should give you a bit more background).

It should be fun...and loud.

The last concert I attended was for Celia Cruz (about a year before she died). She was great and I boogied with my ex, Floyd, all night long. That was my second concert ever, the first being the...Four Tops...with my mom. Yes, I know I’m lame, but growing up there weren’t many groups that I could go see (e.g., the favorites of my teen years included Nirvana, Hendrix, and Marvin Gaye…exactly, now how could I go see those groups?).

I’ll let you know how it goes.


At the (High Heel) Races

Wow, last night was a trip at the High Heel Race. I didn’t actually see the race, as we arrived late and there was a huge crowd lining both sides of the street. But I did get to take pictures with and gawk at the Drag Queens. It was truly amazing. More than anything, I was inspired to get in touch with my own femininity. Unlike the queens, I can’t really walk in heels and I don’t know anything about makeup.

There was a great range of outfits at the shindig including a Princess Diana surrounded by secret service agents, Pixy Stix-Skittles-PEZ-BubbleYum-etc Chix, and Deal or No Deal girls with briefcases (I found some pics of these queens on Lindsay's blog). They really were a sight to see. Once the cops started clearing the street, we headed over to a bar to celebrate with cheap, strong drinks and ended up chatting with two flirty lezzies.

All in all, it was a night to remember and I'm so glad that my friend dragged me there.


Where are all the Drag Queens tonight?

In Dupont for the Annual Halloween High Heel Race!

I just got talked into heading to Dupont Circle for the Annual Halloween High Heel Race. I had totally planned a nice, quiet evening at home with two of my fave shows, Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls. Instead, I’ll be outside in the cold watching men running in heels and sipping Sex on the Beach with a friend. Actually, that doesn't sound too bad and I am looking forward to seeing the fabulous drag queens.

It will be my first high heel race, though I’ve lived in D.C. for 7 years and have known about the race since I first arrived. But, whatever. I’m going tonight.

Don’t worry, I’ll give you a full report tomorrow: the costumes, the heels, the drag queens, and everything else.


Good Ole Monday

It’s another work week in the life of the Hippo. I can’t believe how quickly time is moving along. It is almost the end of October. I’ve been at my job for six months! Floyd has been gone for two weeks! How the time doeth fly…

I’m looking forward to a nice calm week of work and home life. I don’t have any planned happy hours this week, which is a nice change from last week’s packed after-work schedule. Hopefully that translates into me having loads of time to blog and to clean my apartment. We’ll see about that.


Don’t expect too much from “Marie Antoinette”

I saw “Marie Antoinette” on Friday with a friend. Although I wasn’t expecting much out of the movie, I did hope to be pleasantly surprised. But I wasn’t.

I’d characterize the movie as a mindless romp. It was truly one-dimensional and at times, I felt that Kirsten Dunst was lifeless in her portrayal. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it as a period film—I loved the costumes, sets and scenery and felt they were very well done. But the story and the acting was too simple and did not provide the more complex study of Marie Antoinette and her circle that I had hoped for. It didn’t help that the theatre was filled with high school kids talking aloud to the screen, and just plain being annoying. I’m sure that I was that annoying with my high school friends when I saw “Ever After” or “She's All That,” so I guess I shouldn’t talk.

I was a bit skeptical of the use of 1980s music in the film, but I realized, as the movie progressed, how well the soundtrack was incorporated into the scenes and how well it contributed to the tone of the movie.

My verdict: B-/C+


The TV camera loves Brady Quinn too!

I watched the end of the Notre Dame-UCLA game today. It was great. There were about 1.5 minutes left on the clock in the 4th quarter. Notre Dame was down 13-17 to UCLA. Once again, hunky Brady Quinn and his team pulled through and swiftly and artfully gained the points needed to win the game.

During the post-game interviews, Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija, the ND wide receiver who made the game-winning touchdown, were interviewed. It was so funny that while Jeff Samardzija was talking, the camera stayed on Brady Quinn. The camera just loves Brady Quinn. It’s not his fault. He’s a heartthrob and able to attract new (female) viewers, like me, to college football. But our interest in college football is just a farce, we only watch to the games to see Brady Quinn get dirty (and of course, the TV cameraman always obliges).

You’re Still Hired!

Friday, I had my first performance review ever. I was so nervous about my evaluation meeting because I wasn’t quite sure how effective I’ve been at my job. This is my first position since graduating from school, and I’ve been anxious about how well I’d transition from academia into the “real world.”

Well, it seems that I’m adjusting just fine—which is a relief. It was a bit overwhelming to hear the “praise” given to me by my coworkers. I was so sure that I wasn’t doing that well, and I’d even convinced myself that my fellow program members didn’t like me. Silly me. Everything is just fine which is great.

I just need to be more aggressive and proactive in contributing to tasks, which I can and will definitely do now that I feel more capable in my job and more accepted into the organization.


The thrill (of the blog) is gone…

It is unfortunate. In the 10+ days since my blog was first created, my interest in maintaining a blog has waned. I guess I’m just burned out. I spent so much time writing, thinking about and setting up my blog in the beginning that I now don’t want to deal with it any more.

Also, I’m starting to see posting as a chore. It’s not that I don’t want to share what’s going on in my world. I just feel pressure to keep my entries interesting and succinct. I could easily post ramblings from my daily life, but that wouldn’t attract too many folks.

I guess I should focus on sharing my blog with friends, as their comments would infuse “new life” into my writing and give my blog a purpose again. I’m just a bit worried about what my friends will say (e.g. “Wow, this girl really doesn’t have a life” or “I can’t believe she talked about XYZ, that bitch!”), though I know they’d be interested in what I post.


On Becoming My Kitchen’s Head Chef

Tonight, I’m making soup with Italian sausage, basil, celery and orzo. Floyd gave me the recipe, so it should be tasty.

It’s a fairly big deal for me to cook. Most days, I come home and just eat cereal, ramen noodles or leftovers. My mother tells me to cook on Sunday for the week, but I’m rarely in the mood to cook on the weekends.

Sophomore year in college, I cooked all the time. It was the year that I got my first (dorm room) kitchen and also the year I lived the furthest from the dinning hall (really only a few extra blocks). I loved to make steak, spaghetti, and greens for dinner. I’d dazzle my roommate with my homemade concoctions (she loved my sweet Jiffy cornbread!) and fill the room and hallways with a great homemade smell. Once classes picked up and I grew tired of constantly washing all the dirty dishes I’d make, cooking became a little less fun. By junior year, I ate most of my meals at the dinning hall or just headed over to Floyd’s house for one of his gourmet meals (he’d moved to D.C. by then).

I miss the college days of the seemingly endless meal plan and most of all, the days of Chef Floyd. But now that I’m a single adult, it’s about time for me to take care of myself and start creating my own dazzling meals again.


GreenFest 2006 - Washington, D.C.

Yesterday, I went to the Green Festival. I had a good time, though I was bit overwhelming by the number of people in attendance. I basically steered clear of the busy exhibitor hall, in favor of checking out the films and talks. I attended an interesting lecture on Biofuels (mainly biodiesel) and saw two good film shorts, the Hollywood 10 and Something Other than Other.

The highlight of my trip was seeing Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary. It followed immigrants on their journey from Central America to the United States. According to the documentary, about 3,000 people set out for America everyday and only about 300 make it. The immigration debate is definitely alive in the Beltway, and although I haven’t fully formed my opinion on immigration, I am disgusted by the racism and ignorance that tinge many discussions.

The film provided me with a fuller perspective of the people and issues involved in the immigration story: the border patrol (as related to US and non-US immigration policy), the immigrants, the safe houses, and the vigilantes. I also learned about the Mexican trains, corrupt officials, and gangs that threaten the men and women seeking the American Dream.

The film really got me thinking about the immigration debate and challenged me to become more fully comfortable about where I stand on the issue and why.

If walls could talk? Mine do!

The walls of my apartment are pretty thin, and unfortunately, my bedroom shares a wall with my neighbor’s kitchen and living room. So, almost every night I can hear them talking or hear their dishwasher running. Sometimes it keeps me up, which is odd given that I used to live in a college dorm.

Anyway, Friday night, my neighbors had a heated argument. Basically, the man of the house came home late and announced that he had plans for the next night. The woman was pissed because they had already made plans both nights. After a while the argument got a little more heated and filled with more expletives. My favorite phrase was, “Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m gonna put a knife up your ass!” That was the woman.

I soon gave up trying to sleep and watched 2 episodes of Sex in the City. By midnight, thankfully all was quiet.

The next time, my neighbors decide to put on a soap opera for me, I’m gonna go over and ask them to keep it quiet. I shouldn’t have to listen to their problems when I’m minding my own business at home.


A brief history of my eco beliefs

Thanks to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Standford, I started checking out library books on climate change and writing my representatives at a young age.

My passion for environmental issues intensified in high school only to cool off in college. There, I was introduced to the complex economic, political, psychological, and cultural barriers to environmental preservation. Like many of my peers, I graduated college pretty jaded and skeptical that any real, lasting solutions to our environmental problems would ever be enacted.

Fortunately, in grad school, I was given hope, a solution: the “paradigm shift.” I believe that a “paradigm shift” (a.k.a. “transformational change”) has the power to solve many of our environmental and social problems through curing their ultimate cause: how we conceptualize man, nature and man-nature/man-man relationships.

Don’t worry, I haven’t joined a cult. This stuff is real and discussed in academia and on the streets. It just may be the “silver bullet.”


Old Man Winter is not welcomed!

I grew up in Atlanta, b.k.a. “HOT-lanta,” and as you can imagine, I’m used to hot, humid weather. In fact, I love it.

So now, it’s getting cooler outside and I’m distraught. Where did all the nice 80-degree days go? I can’t face 6+ months of cold, rainy and windy D.C. darkness. I have to move. I think I’ll head to Miami or San Diego. Mmm…beaches, warmth, shorts and flip-flops all year long. That would be heaven!

I know that D.C. “coldness” is nothing compared to that of Maine or Michigan. But, whatever. The city does get cold and windy in the winter and even if I don 1,000 layers of clothes, I'm still freezing.


Who Cares If I’m An Oreo?

“Oreo,” “Coconut,” “Banana.” Those are words often used to describe people who don’t act the way they should.

In high school, I was called an “Oreo,” a Black person who acts White. It bothered me. How could I be an “Oreo” if I was just being myself—a reflection of my Black family and my multicultural group of friends? What does it mean to be an “Oreo”? And, most importantly, should I even care?

It took a while for me to accept my “Oreo-ness” and reject such petty high school labeling. It doesn’t matter that I talk a certain way and listen to certain kinds of music. No one cares if I have a lot of White friends. And if they did, I shouldn’t be hanging out with them anyway.

What truly matters is my opinion of myself, and I like my “Oreo”-self...dipped in milk.


What should I be for Halloween?

Every year, I have trouble deciding on a Halloween costume. I’m just not very creative and I’ve always sucked at brainstorming.

I miss the college days when dressing vampy-er than usual was costume enough. We’d head to M Street or a random party or club and drink and gawk at the other costumes. Some of my favorite chick outfits were the pregnant Brownies and Girls Scouts or the group of gals walking around in skin-colored body suits during rush hour. The reaction of the commuters was priceless.

I have an orange 1970s leisure suit that belonged to my mom. I sometimes wear it to more tame Halloween outings. Paired with Charlie's Angels or Foxy Brown hair and makeup, it looks pretty good—an authentic flashback to my parent’s days. But it’s not creative.

I hope I find inspiration in the next few weeks; otherwise, the leisure suite will have to fill-in again.

Let me know if you have any great costume ideas to share.


I have the hots for #10, Brady Quinn

Brady Quinn is the quarterback of Notre Dame, and he’s really cute—even the TV announcers call him a “heartthrob.”

I probably wouldn’t know who Brady Quinn was if it hadn’t been for Floyd, a die-hard fan of UT football (2005 National Champs--“Sic ‘em Horns!”). Every Saturday during the college football season, Floyd would coerce me into watching several games and of course, the ESPN pre- and post- game shows. Yet, not until this year did I really get into it. That is, not until I saw Brady Quinn.

Now, I keep tabs on Notre Dame’s progress, checking the scores and even watching a few games on my own. My alma mater doesn’t have a football team, so, by default, my teams were always the GT Yellow Jackets and the UGA Bulldogs.

But this year, I'm going to cheer for Quinn (and UT quarterback McCoy) and hope that he’s able to lead his team into the finals.


Ghosts and Art

Wow, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to pump out a bunch of entries last night. Yay, me!

Today, I went to a paranormal & art walk in my neighborhood that was followed by a quick lesson on portrait drawing. The paranormal/arts tour was entertaining if not a bit hokey. Two middle-aged women lead us on a tour of a few art galleries and neighborhood businesses while sharing stories of ghost hauntings in Maryland, Virginia and abroad.

I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts. I guess I hope that when people die, their spirit or essence remains on the earth or in the universe. Putting aside religious beliefs, it doesn’t seem plausible that an existence ends with death. So, I like to think that the essence of my ancestors remains here even after their bodies have gone back into the earth.

My hesitation with believing in good-natured/everyday ghosts and spirits is that in our dichotomist nature, there would also have to be evil spirits and ghosts—and as a person who can’t deal with horror movies about evil things (The Ring gave me nightmares for days), that doesn’t sit too well with me.

As soon as I got home from learning all about what attracts spirits (wind chimes and crystals) and how they might interact with the living (through the TV!), I took down all my wind chimes and turned on all the lights to ensure that my apartment was full of “yang” energy to keep them away. I hope it works.

So, how do you watch Nip/Tuck?

I don’t have cable. I made that decision about three years ago. I had just graduated from College and was on a very tight budget. Cable became a luxury. I didn’t want to pay the $50-plus for basic cable, when I needed money for rent and bills…and happy hour. It was an adjustment at first—I’ve had cable since I was about 10. All of a sudden, I had to get used to only a few channels and static.

I don’t think I’ve missed much. As you may remember, I spent most of my time with Floyd anyway—and he had cable! I also started watching more network shows and PBS (I have 4 PBS channels!), which has great travel, cooking, and nature programs, BBC shows, and even movies. Most importantly, I started reading more. I had forgotten, after years of reading dry, required nonfiction for class, how exciting and fulfilling reading was.

Now that I have a job and extra money to foot the cable bill, I still don’t want it. I see cable, and even TV, as providing supplemental entertainment for when I’m eating or before I go to sleep. That’s something I didn’t realize until I got the rabbit ears.

Cleaning House

It’s amazing how much stuff a person accumulates in a given year. I’ve been living in D.C. for the past seven years and I have tons of stuff…furniture, school papers, clothes, and just random stuff that I don’t have space for. I guess the real question is not why do I have so much stuff, but why have I allowed it to accumulate in my home--why don’t I just purge what I don’t need?

Putting aside all my ideas about unsustainable American consumerism (which, you better believe, I will share soon), I think that, for me, its about not wanting to let go of stuff that I feel I might need one day (what my mom calls the 1930s-Depression syndrome) or that someone has given me. For example, there are about 6 boxes of stuff from my school days that I haven’t been able to purge in a while. I just feel that I will need or want it one day. All the notebooks, tests, handouts, and other things from classes gone by. Then, there are those things that I have been given and don’t really use or need anymore, if ever all. For those things, I just feel bad about purging something that a friend or family member spent time and money on.

To be honest, I’ve always been a packrat. When I was a kid, I used to mull the Goodwill piles during spring-cleaning at my home. And many things that my parents or sister “threw out” ended up in my room. But, now that I’m 25, I want to change. I feel it’s important to clear my home and my mind of clutter. So, over the next few months, I’m going to really concentrate on reducing the six school boxes to four (a seemingly huge feat) and clearing from my shelves and closets stuff I really don’t need.

Don’t worry, everything will go to the right place—the recycling center, Goodwill, and sanitary landfill.


Major Life Events

This year, I turned 25, then my sister got married, and now my best friend/ex-boyfriend/significant other of the past six years has left D.C. He’s moving back home to Texas, leaving me quite single in the city. It is so strange to be alone after so many years of spending all my days with him, even after we broke up. But now, he’s gone and there really is no us.

I meet a friend for lunch on Friday and she joked, “Hey, now that he’s gone, you’ll have time to hang out with us.” It’s sad but true. I used to spend about 75 percent of my time with him. I neglected my friends, becoming the sort of girl I hate--one that doesn’t stand by the mantra of “chix before dix.” He was my first love and my first serious relationship. I was na├»ve and love struck, unable to think about anything but being with him.

Yet, if I was given the chance to do it all again, I’m sure that I would still allow our relationship to dominate my life. We had good times, and horrible ones, but he was my mentor, my rock, my best friend. Now that he’s gone--and I try to sneak back into the swing of things with my old, neglected friends--I look forward to being swept off my feet again but not losing site of my other loves.

The Hippo Speaks

Hey everyone!

I’m pretty excited about finally starting a blog. I had one freshman year but it didn’t last long. So now that I’m a few years older, I’m ready to try again.

I hope my blog will record and share with others the happenings of my life in the city. You can expect blogs about a range of subjects, though I’m pretty sure the dominant topics will include politics, environmental issues, D.C. events, and random rants typical of a Hippo on a Crusade.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I choose the name, “hippo,” for my blog. I’ve always liked hippos, especially cool bronze ones. And I have this amazing two-foot hippo stuffed animal that my ex, I’ll call him Floyd, bought me. So, I named my blog in remembrance of the great time I had as as Floyd’s “better half.”

I have a creative coworker to thank for “Salt Warfare.” He thinks I’m overly sensitive to the salt content of today’s foods. I am, and with good reason: American “over-saltification” of food sucks. I’m worried about my salt intake, given that high blood pressure runs in my family and given that I often get headaches from eating too many salty foods. When I was a kid, I ate salty foods all the time and loved it. While most kids were sneaking sweets treats and sugar cubes, I’d stuff myself with olives, bacon, chips, and even straight table salt. Now, that I’m older, I can’t seem to take as much sodium. I get a headache after a panacakes and bacon fest or after snacking on salted popcorn. It might just be psychological. Yet, too much sodium, or of any substance, can be too much. So now, I watch my sodium intake by eating a lot of “no salt added” prepared/packaged foods and drink lots of water. Here’s hoping that I’ll start warfare against sugar and bad fats so that I’ll really be on a healthier path.

Well, that’s it. I promise that I’ll write more this holiday weekend. Perhaps, I’ll finally tell you why the Hippo is on a crusade and talk about other food additives that I’ve declared war on.

Take care.