30 March 2009

"I can't make you love me, if you don't" --Bonnie Raitt

Wide swings in food this past weekend... We are at the Wine Kitchen in Leesburg Saturday for lunch, Krispy Kreme for a Saturday night get-together, and at a restaurant in Columbia, which I won't name, for a Sunday lunch meet up. The company is exceptional for all of these but, despite Krispy Kreme surpassing my expectations*, the gustatory honors have to go to the Wine Kitchen. Excellent yet simple food with marvelous, reasonably priced wine options (a variety of flights to choose from! what fun!) and great service. Who could ask for more? H/t to Dezel for pointing us to this place.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, we meet up with friends at a buffet that has quite tasty food but the service is a little, um, strange. As we are finishing dessert:

Waiter: How did you like the buffet?
Several of us: Wonderful! Tasty!
Waiter to Hubby: What did you like on the buffet?
Hubby: I liked the channa masala!
Waiter: That's all? What else?
Hubby: *blink* Well, no, that's not all, but channa masala is my favorite.
Waiter: Yes, okay, you liked the channa masala. But what else did you like?
Hubby: Er...
The rest of us: It was all quite good.
Waiter, looking displeased at the two,of four, uneaten dosas sitting on the table (These were brought, unrequested, to us): These are dosas.
Friend: Yes, we just couldn't finish them.
Waiter: *offers explanation of what region dosas come from and then looks at us expectantly*
*we look at him and each other*
Friend's mate to Friend: You didn't want to take them home, did you?
Friend: No...
Waiter: ...
Friend, looking desperate: I ate one!

What the hell? Why are we explaining ourselves to the waiter!? We didn't order the grill!

* I am a Dunkin Donuts snob, born and bred, and have always proudly worn the DD mantel of splediciousness (sometimes quite obviously around the hip and tush area) but I have to admit that lemon-filled Krispy Kreme was quite yummy! Thanks, Tewkesbury, for pushing my culinary envelope.

"Express yourself" --Madonna

[Sometimes gripes are legitimate.]

[Unrelated note: To see me all macho-like (yeah, worse than usual), check out my guest post at White-Collar Redneck today.]

When we travel, I like to read reviews of places on TripAdvisor.com because you get the real deal versus the standard PR campaign. That said, there are a lot of morons traveling/offering reviews and you have to take what you read with a huge grain of salt. No joke, there's at least one of these on every place reviewed on TripAdvisor:

  1. "I loved everything about this place but gave it an overall lousy rating. Did I mention how great the food and the service were? And the view, OMG the view! And they were constantly cleaning but not in an intrusive way! It was the best place we've ever stayed at! But where do they get off charging that much money?"
  2. "I had a lousy trip in because the airline sucked/my travel agent lied. Even though I'm in paradise, this ruined my mood and my entire trip and you shouldn't come here because of that."
  3. "My kids were in the adults only pool/I demanded a late check-out when the hotel was booked to capacity/I wanted a burger and they only had filet mignon/I wanted a raspberry margarita and they only had strawberry margaritas/I ignored the posted dress code for dinner. Can you believe they were totally inflexible!?"
  4. "How come nobody speaks English here? What the hell is that? Okay, it's a foreign country but sheesh!"
  5. "Even though every other review claims the resort is spotless and the rooms are spectacular, our room was covered in mold and dead bugs."
This last one is my favorite. TripAdvisor has the option for reviewers to upload their own pictures. I swear, there's somebody that travels to every resort with baggies of bugs and mold and does these elaborate photo shoots. How can it be that every other room on property is sparkling new and exquisite and theirs is the portal to hell?

Also, every one of these will start out with the words "I'm not a picky traveler but..." It's like the ubiquitous words in porn letter mags: "I never thought this could happen to me..."

27 March 2009

"She likes to party all the time" --Eddie Murphy

Years ago, I went to a party.* I had bought a new outfit because, at the time, I was trying to impress a guy that, at this point in time, I realize wasn't worth the effort. You with me? I got this outfit that I thought was pretty dang snazzy and I thought I looked good, in a dramatic sort of way. I can pull off dramatic to some level.

So, I show up to the party and I spot a friend of mine and his girlfriend. I head over to them and the conversation goes like this....

Me: Hi, folks!
Friend: Hey, LA, glad you made it.
Me: Me, too! How's it going?
Friend: Good, good.
Friend's girlfriend, looking at my clothes: You look very *pause* New York.
Me: *pause* Is that a compliment?
Friend's girlfriend:
Me: Is it?
Friend's girlfriend:
Friend: Er, there's beer over here...

Is this reasonable??

She's willing to insult me to my face but then not own it? What the heck is that? Why say anything at all? This is like the person who comments that you've gotten a new haircut but then doesn't say anything more. If you don't like it, why mention it at all?

*Okay, that sounds like it's been years since I've been to a party. I've been to parties since then. I don't want you to get the idea that I'm never invited anywhere. I get invited. At least the first time.**

** At least I'm not a double dipper. I dip, bite, turn the chip, and dip again. You?

26 March 2009

Give it a rest

You know what you need?* Here's what you need: You need to take a break.

Geez, people. I take a week and a half off and what do I come back to? 350+ posts in my Reader.

Where was all this energy when I was home sick last Fall and looking for entertainment? Now, your blogmaniacs.

People, people, people. You are working too hard. Step away from the computer. Get some fresh air. Kiss a girl. Or a boy. Or a puppy. Whatever. But for the love of god, stop posting!

Or at least keep it short.

Or I may be forced to take actions into my own hands. *cue ominous music as cursor hovers about the Mark All As Read button*

* Don't you hate people that say "You know what you need?" I always want to respond with "Mm, some bad advice from you?"

25 March 2009

"So live your life, ay, ay, ay" --Rihanna and TI

When you are on an airplane and the child in the seat behind you is shrieking for the joy of shrieking every few minutes and kicking your seat non-stop, what is the correct response?

A) Nothing
B) Request a seat change
C) Announce loudly "Hey! Why is my seat vibrating?"
D) Turn and glare at the child
E) Turn and glare at the parent
F) Say something to the child
G) Say something to the parent
H) Slam your seat into the "reclining" position and throw your arms over your head to further make your presence known
I) Throw peanuts up over your head in an attempt to hit the child and/or parent
J) Other
K) All of the above

I ask because I have had conversations with parents who have had very different responses to this question. So, I put this to you, Gentle Reader. What is the right response?

24 March 2009

"Well I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island" --Leon Russell

[Sweet, no? They didn't throw poop at me or anything!]

We are back from the birthday extravaganza. Took a trip to Barbados, a lush island with gorgeous beaches!

We have now seen white-faced monkeys and howler monkeys in Costa Rica and green monkeys in Barbados. 'Cause monkeys? Way cool! Did you know the polio vaccine was created using green monkey kidney? No wonder they look so serious and move so quickly. Although these got within two feet of me. Maybe they figured with the rum punch emanating from my pores there was no way I was with the Salk people.

Aside from the monkeys, the spectacular beaches, and the rum (there are three different rum distilleries on Barbados and the Mount Gay Rum distillery dates back to the 1700s(!) and, YES, they give tours and tastings), there is also no shortage of fine food. If you think you might be heading to Barbados, I'd recommend making a reservation (well in advance) at The Cliff for dinner. Request a waterside table. The food, drink and service are impeccable and the view is spectacular! It is the perfect place to view a sunset and once it's dark you can see the rays and turtles gliding in the water by the light of the torches. Truly, a world class restaurant experience!

Classic moment at the resort pool...

A fat, ugly Brit in a Speedo lounging next to Hubby informed us that it was unusual for them to come to Barbados in March as this was high season for the Americans but they got such a good deal they couldn't resist. This was after he found out we were from DC. And they say we're rude! Ha!

16 March 2009

"Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand" --The Beach Boys

Happy Monday, blogland pals.

Yes, I said, Happy Monday. It's my birthday! And I'm doing my birthday dance! (You may want to avert your eyes--my dancing is not a pretty sight.)

Plunked between the Ides of March and St. Paddy's Day is my little birthday. And, as you read this, I and the Hubster are spending it, and the whole week, in an undisclosed location. (We had to wait for Dick Cheney to vacate and he took his sweet time. If you see him, tell him he left a half a box of Cheez-Its and the January issue of Hooters and Howitzers Monthly.)

Yeah, I just traveled a few weeks ago but that was for (yucky) work. This is for R&R&R&R: Rest and Relaxation and Rays and Rum drinks. So, as you read this, picture me basking in some much needed sunshine and hoisting something fruity and rum-laden in your general direction in a toast to you.

Give yourself a hug for me and go out and do something you've been wanting to do.

See ya on the flipside. Have a great week!

13 March 2009

"Shoop, Shoop, Shoop Shoo Be Doop Shoop Shoop" --Whitney Houston

I've noticed a small uptick in traffic here lately and I'm grateful that you take time out of your busy day to read my --how you say-- words.

But it also makes me a little bit wary. One of the problems with gaining readership is that, before you know it, you're famous. At first blush it sounds enticing... exciting... muy sexio! But think again.

Sure, it might be nice to live in hilltop houses, drivin' fifteen cars. It could be cool to have
some of those houses featured on Cribs... to have a staff of people at my beck and call... to get the best tables in restaurants... to have stores open just for me... to have hunky young things throwing themselves at me... to get fancy gowns and fabulous jewels sent to me for special events...


Where was I?

Oh, right. I don't want to be a celebrity.

Because none of it would be worth it if I couldn't exhale on vacation.

If I were truly famous, I'd have to worry about being surreptitiously photographed for the cover of Star or The Enquirer in their "worst beach bodies" segment.

It's one thing for these rags to feature "best beach body" pictures, but when I am
standing in the grocery store checkout and see that they've captured beautiful people in the worst possible photos EVER--with close ups of extra flab rolls and cottage cheese tushies, and with captions that read "Oh oh" or "Guess who?", I just feel so sorry for those people.*

It's not that I have such a bad bod. In fact, I'd say I look pretty good for ninety. But I can only deal with Jillian so many days in a row. (By the way, I've advanced to her Level 2 Workout and I'm proud to say I've cut way back on the weeping.)

Regardless, everybody has something about their bodies they're not crazy about** and everybody has at least one bad angle. If they can make tiny Reese Witherspoon look that bad, I shudder to think how I might show up. (I'm guessing with an angle that makes me look like one of those enormous sea lions, except this sea lion would probably have a handful of greasy french fries en route to her open mouth.)

And, it's not like they have to listen when you beg them, "Please! Please! Don't show my face!" So, maybe it's time to invest in a pair of these:

Yeah, that looks cool.

*And then I try to guess who they are.

**Uh, uh, you first.

12 March 2009

"Said you expected me to follow you all over the world" --Marti Jones

Men? Generally speaking? Way different from women.* Years ago, I organized a holiday weekend ski trip for a dozen people. One of the guys brought this tiny satchel along for luggage. Not even backpack size. It was the size of a doctor's bag. I asked him what he had in there. He said a t-shirt and a clean pair of underwear. That was it. For the three day weekend. Klassy with a K, he was.

This, in no way resembles me. I would pack my entire closet if not for airline weight restrictions. Thus, I must choose. Call me Sophie. So, I LOATHE packing. I lovelovelove to travel and I love having the right things with me but I LOATHE packing. (That's right. All caps twice!) I do it at the absolute last possible moment. Pack my deodorant?! But I'll need it in the morning!

I know women who have duplicates of all their toiletries to make packing easier. I resist this, because, then, what excuse would I have for not packing early?

Add to this: I feel like I have to have every option available to me so everything has to be washed or dry cleaned, in case I might like to pack it.

Hubby: Is that an evening dress in the dry cleaning pile?

Me: *blink*

Hubby: We're going to the beach.

Me: Shh! I'm packing!

* Oh, please. You were bound to hear it eventually.

11 March 2009

"Go, greased lightnin', you're burnin' up the quarter mile" --Grease

[I watched the movie version of Speed Racer on a flight last year. Slick animation but BORRRRRRRing. They could have--and should have--lopped about an hour off it.]

I can be an ass. No, no, I can.

The other day I am sitting at a light, minding my own business, working out a plan to solve the economic crisis. I was this close to putting all the pieces together--something about turning all the foreclosed properties into Starbucks and harnessing the awesome power of squirrels--when...

An Expedition pulls up next to me.

Then, the driver pulls up over the stop line.

Then, while the light is still red, the driver does a false start.

Do I need more? I do not.

I wasn't in a hurry before but I sure am now. I hit the S on my gear shift to change into Sport mode and watch the light like my life depends on it. I'll be damned if this behemoth is going to get ahead of me. When the light switches, I leave the Expedition in the dust.


A) It's a flippin' Expedition, fergawdssake. It's ridiculously big, expensive, gas guzzling, and slow and here's my opportunity to drive home that point. (See what I did there? Drive home... nevermind.)

B) Why not?


C) I'm an ass.

My first husband was an ass, too. I can vividly remember us missing our exit because he had to prove that he wasn't going to get beat out by a revving car at a toll booth. And we had my parents in the car. Oh, that was a proud moment.

At least I never missed an exit because of my assiness.

Well, not yet.

Can I help it if I need to express this side of me?

...express... espresso! Squirrels on espresso! I gotta call Bernanke!

10 March 2009

A quickie

After chili at the Hard Times Cafe Saturday, we go into the pool hall in the back.

Me: Can we get a table?

Bartender: I don't have the balls.

Me: *blink* I'm, uh... sorry...?

Bartender, pointing at the waitresses behind a different bar: The ladies have the balls.

09 March 2009

"This kiss, this kiss" --Faith Hill

[The rare back-of-the-ear kiss.]

How do you tell someone you don't wanna kiss?

Before you jump to conclusions, let me say, my marriage is on solid ground and Hubby is a great kisser. (To the relatives who read this: sorry, if that's TMI.) Kissing him is fine, indeed. But this is the man to which I have cleaved my troth*. Even giving the relatives a peck on the cheek and receiving likewise is okay. These are blood relations or blood relations of the cleaved troth. (trothrodyte?) Anyway, there's a very established bond here.

My issue (and let's face it, I have a lot of issues***) is with friends. I am blessed with lots of wonderful friends that I dearly love but don't feel the need to kiss. I'm fine with hugging them but I'm not so much into the kiss-kiss cheeky thing. Fergawdssake, we're not French! But I have yet to come up with a graceful way to say, "Erm, let's skip the kissing part and just hug."

Yes, yes, I am a cold, unfeeling thing. No argument. If you've spent any time here at all, you've already picked up on that.

I hear you saying "What's the big deal?"**** Where this may seem strange to you, avoiding public displays of affection is quite the norm for me. I come from a long line of cold, unfeeling things. We are distant. We are standoffish. We are formal. We are private.

I've tried just refusing to reciprocate but that doesn't always get the message across. And, when you're in the clinch of a hug, it's hard to avoid a kiss. And sometimes avoidance maneuvers become dangerous to try because, sometimes, those avoided kisses land in weird places. Yeah, I've had my ear kissed, my neck kissed, my eye kissed... that's even weirder than just letting them plant one on your cheek.

I feel certain the "knee to the chest" maneuver they recommend for training dogs wouldn't be received well. I don't want to actually offend these lovely, caring people. I know this is my issue. Still...

Does anyone else come from a long line of automatons? Is there a way to bypass the kissing?

* You're eying my troth right now, aren't you?! Cheeky monkey.**

** And when I say "cheeky monkey", unlike the NY post, I say it with true affection and a hat tip to Mike Myers' Simon character.

*** You could simply decide to find the fact that I have so many issues charming. Endearing, even. *cough*

**** Your voice really carries.

07 March 2009

"Here I am, stuck in the middle..."--Stealers Wheel

I am back. And still gainfully employed. (Suckers.*) The conference was okay. Just okay.

On the plus side:

  • The rental car had XM/Sirius radio. Comedy channels! They have comedy channels! Yay!
  • Even though the temperature was only getting up to the 50s and 60s while I was there, it was better than the 12 degrees at home. Of course, now that I'm back, it's a balmy 85 degrees down there.
  • Palm trees. I like palm trees. If I say to you it "looks like a picture postcard", you think palm trees. They're tall and thin. They sway. They're green. Sort of like Lindsay Lohan on Sunday morning. Pretty.
  • I'm an aisle gal. And I had an aisle seat until I switched flights in order to give the folks at the airport time to de-ice the wings. Call me crazy but I prefer my plane served "neat." When I got on the plane heading to the conference, there was an enormous man in the aisle seat, a reasonably sized person in the window seat, and me--stuck in the middle. The guy in the aisle seat was so big that he had put the armrest up because he simply wouldn't have fit with it down. So he was taking up 1.33 seats, leaving me .67 seat. He wasn't being a jerk. He was just being. So, why is this on the plus list? Because, before we took off, the flight attendant offered him a free upgrade to First Class. I hopped into that aisle seat faster than you could say "upright and locked position." Plus, had all three seats of the row to myself on the way back.
On the neither plus nor minus side:
  • While there, I stayed at a Radisson. They are very proud of their Sleep Number beds. Not sure why. I adjusted the number up, I adjusted it down. It didn't make a bit of difference to me. Have you tried this? What am I missing? What's the big deal? I couldn't even find the slot for the quarter.**
And on the minus side:
  • My talk would have hit the scales at solidly boring if I could have merely stood up there and clicked the mouse for the PowerPoint slides with one hand and flipped my notes with the other hand. But, since the microphone wasn't working properly when it was clipped to me, I had to hold it. So, I ran out of hands, making the talk a painful mix of boring AND inept juggling. Special. Well, at least it gave them something to focus on besides what I was saying.

* My employers, not you.

** Remember those vibrating beds of years ago that operated on quarters? Now, that's something to brag about in a hotel flyer.

01 March 2009

"I miss you when I am away" --Scorpions

Hello darlings,

It is a crazy time. I am heading to Florida to make a presentation that I shouldn't be making. I an not the person to speak at this conference but, here I am, speaking at this conference. You understand?

It's not like anyone says "Gee, LA is the most well-versed person on this topic" or even "Gee, LA is such a terrific speaker it doesn't matter what we throw at her." No. We are five of us heading to this conference and everyone else is kicking back and enjoying a trip to Florida. Everyone except me.

Because in my case, they say, "Man, I don't want to do this and you don't want to do this and yet we have to have somebody do this. Do you suppose we could get LA to do this?"

And so they ask.

And I say "What the hell, I'll give it a shot" and I do it. Not because I should but because I'm willing. It doesn't bode well.

And meanwhile, I'm thinking that it's been over two weeks since I've had a normal night's sleep. By normal, that is to say, two weeks since I haven't woken up in a blind panic or spent 4 out of 8 hours lying awake with my brain churning. Crazy. Maybe more than two weeks. Who can keep track?

What I've really wanted to write about, but haven't managed to defrag my brain enough to write about, is that I am troubled by a few different trends in waitstaff behavior.

First, why is writing down stuff a bad thing? No, really, tell me why!

Remember when a waitstaff type person would write down your order and you'd get what you wanted and everyone would be happy? No, really... remember? Don't toy with me. It happened. I remember it. Fondly.

Yet these days, it seems any decent restaurant has a waitstaff person that would rather slit their own throat than write down your order. No, they'll just memorize it. Unless they can't. In which case, if you're lucky, they'll come by to ask "Did you have the filet of sole or the grouper?" because they just flippin' can't remember. Or they'll just bring you the wrong thing and hope that's okay. Why? WHY?? Why can't they write it down??!?!

And, as long as we're at it, what is this trend where waitstaff feel compelled to tell you what they like? This has happened a LOT lately.

Me: Mmm, I think I'll have the Shrimp Fra Diavolo.

Waitress: Ooo, good choice! That's one of my favorites! I love that!!

Um, okay. Why is that important? Why do I care if that's the waitress' favorite? It's one thing to point out what's a popular dish among patrons or the chef's specialty but I have had a waiter go through the menu pointing out every single thing he, personally, liked. As if this, in some way, will correlate with what I like. Oh, I was going to get the calamari but since you didn't list it among your favorites, that's right out now.