An Alternative Christmas Carol

December 23, 2010 at 5:29 am (Uncategorized)

In three years, I’ve made one native Washingtonian friend.  I love hearing her tales of growing up in the nation’s capital and the inside scoop she brings to the conversation.  Last month, we went to DC-centric Brightest Young Things monthly variety show–a mixture of music and stand-up comedy and beer.  I discovered a new band, the Mynabirds, with a beautiful voice.  Their alternative Christmas Carol and Zombies cover dominate my iPod this month.

With this week’s chatter about the  anonymous $20k+ “dream Christmas wish list” randomly left on a Metro-North train from NYC to the “gold coastof Connecticut (and published here on Velvet in Dupont’s blog), I felt the need to publish another woman’s list.

Happy Holidays and New Year!  Friends, “we all have just begun…this will be our year!”

The Mynabirds
All I Want is Truth (for Christmas)

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Have it while you can
Cuz the scientists predict another record level year
It will be warm enough outside for all the birds to stay right here
And without the migratory patterns we won’t know where to go
Cuz next year we’ll learn to celebrate without a snow
Have yourself a happy little New Year
Have it if you can
Cuz the politicians will be at their same old arguments
Should we start another war or should we raise another’s debts
And the elders in their robes will be wondering where we stand
But we won’t care—we’ll sip our coffees
We’ll watch our TVs—yeah they're all flat screens
But whatever you do, don’t turn on the news
All I want is you for Christmas
Just a little truth this Christmas
All I want is you for Christmas
Just a little truth this Christmas
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
I know that I will
Cuz I’m bagging all the packages in pretty little bows
And I’ll take them to the old Salvation Army up the road
And I’ll sit down with my love and we’ll remember what it means
To celebrate without a single store-bought thing

All I want is you for Christmas
Just a little truth this Christmas
All I want is you for Christmas
Just a little truth this Christmas

This Will Be Our Year (Zombies Cover)
The warmth of your love
Is like the warmth of the sun
And this will be our year
It took a long time to come 
Don’t let go of my hand
Now the darkness is gone
And this will be our year
It took a long time to come
And I won’t forget the way you held me up
When I was down
And I won’t forget the way say, "Darling, I love you
You give me faith to go on"
Now we are there
And we all have just begun
This will be our year
It took a long time to come 
The warmth of your smile
Smile for me little one
This will be our year
It took a long time to come
You don’t have to worry
All your worry days are done
This will be our year
It took a long time to come 
Yeah, we all have just begun
This will be our year…

It took a long time…
To come

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Home Is Where the Job Is?

December 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm (Uncategorized)

DC’s nouveau yuppies face an interesting legal predicament: where do they live?  If you were not born and raised in the District, are you a Washingtonian?  When do you become one?   And what if you prefer to live as an expat in your own country?

Rahm Emanuel and I have struggled with these questions.  Our licenses, voting ballots, and permanent bedrooms reside in a different state–where do we live?  In Emanuel’s case, the philosophical turned political to legal.  He is being sued for illegally running for mayor of Chicago.

Did Mr. Emanuel, who lived in Washington while he worked at the White House until October, maintain legal residency in Chicago, a city that requires candidates for mayor to be residents for at least a year before an election?

How does Emanuel prove that he is a true Chicagoan?  How does anyone in today’s globalized world prove where they are from, where they live, and where is home?

Mr. Emanuel has, in response to those objecting to his candidacy, provided all sorts of information to elections officials (and, as a result, the public): copies of his (Chicago) birth certificate, (Illinois) driver’s license, tax returns, voting record and a list of items — Ms. Rule’s wedding dress, clothes Mr. Emanuel’s infants wore home from the hospital, Mr. Emanuel’s grandfather’s overcoat, a piano, bed and golf clubs — that still sit in the Chicago house Mr. Emanuel rented out when he left for the White House…They say that Mr. Emanuel’s period as chief of staff was always intended to be temporary, and that he has long been a Chicagoan through and through — his car was always registered here, he owned a house here, and his legal residency never shifted.

Our President is a White Sox fan, our Vice President takes Amtrak back to Delaware every Election Day, and I bet our former White House Chief of Staff never changed his cell’s 312 area code.  Do we have the right to decide where home is even if we don’t shower there?  When does “intended to be temporary” job situation become a permanent address?  If I pay taxes in Washington, my monthly Pepco bill is mailed to a NW apartment, and I have a Smart Card, but my family albums, precious possessions, childhood diaries, and graduation tassels live elsewhere,  where is my home?

My friend, a very smart lawyer, recently gave me some free legal advice on the matter.  The law states we should officially change our residency when our living situation is no longer temporary.  There are all sorts of legal and ethical questions we expose ourselves to by not declaring the new status.    Legality, yes, but a smidge silly if I actively root against the new home team.

Let Emanuel run; let the people decide.  As long as he didn’t evade taxes or criminal charges–I’m fine with the Illinois voters deciding his Chicagoness.   If Illinois native Hillary Clinton can be a New Yorker and Bostonian Michael Bloomberg can be three-term NYC mayor with three different political parties, surely Emanuel has some Chicago street cred.

Our founding fathers established the United States so we could freely move and work between them.  Perhaps they knew back in the late 1700s that one day young, urban, professionals would follow their intellectual and professional dreams to strange, southernesque, city-towns, but their hearts would lie across the Delaware River where cheap Bolt buses would soldier on in the cold night toward brighter lights, bigger cities, and suburban home.

File:Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, MMA-NYC, 1851.jpg

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My Life as a Third Wheel

December 9, 2010 at 10:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Things I’ve Learned from Other People’s Relationships

I sit in the back seat of the car while my friend and his/her significant other navigate up front.  Sometimes they fight over directions, sometimes they kiss at the red light, often they roll their eyes…I am silent as a child witnessing her or his parents’ marriage.  It can be a little awkward at times, but as an only child it’s oddly familiar being the odd wheel.

In the past few years, I have been on vacation with couples, shared a hotel room, enjoyed long dinners and drives, popped out of the back seat to wish a “Happy Anniversary Guys!” from time-to-time…I’ve even helped pick out the wedding cake.  I am either a hopeless case or really lucky to genuinely enjoy the company of my peers and their life partners.  My amazing friends never make the third wheel feel insignificant to the conversation.

Third Wheel

Contrary to popular belief there are some benefits to third wheeldom.   I’ve learned a few life lessons from my front row back seat.

  1. Pay Attention! The hardest things are always the most obvious.  People often tell you what they feel if you really pay attention.  It’s so hard when you are emotionally involved, when you have so much history, but from the outside, without bias or personal agenda it’s clear.  Paying attention could be the easiest way to avoid half of the petty disagreements that clutter quotidian life.
  2. Power is Fungible, Don’t take Advantage! While I hope for a truly equal partnership, other people’s relationships have proved that power is fungible.  The give and the take, the ebb and flow, and hopefully it all comes out in the wash.  Some people are more natural givers, others are natural takers, one month you’re up and the next you’re penny-less, insurance-less, and crying in a public park.   It takes mental strength and love not to take advantage of the other’s inclination or luck.
  3. Find Someone Who is on Your Team! When you are dating it is easy to be attracted to various opposite dynamics–the competitor, the cheerleader, the fan, the coach…each in its own way has an interesting, exciting, flattering, or comforting proposition.  But, ideally, in the long-term, we need someone who is an active player on our team.
  4. Just Say Congratulations. When an former love tells you s/he is engaged the appropriate response is “Congratulations.”  Congratulations Period. Not Congratulations Exclamation Point!
  5. Everyone Has Their Thing! Gambling, smoking, chocolate, Taco Bell, casual clothing, tucking/not tucking their shirt, religion, talking too much, drinking, pets, in-laws, no presents rule during the holidays, an obnoxiously loud laugh, time management issues, video games, constant High Five-ing, immigration status, an ex that will never go away…everyone has their thing.  I don’t know if it’s important to keep the “thing” in check or to let it slide every once in a while, but it’s good to know before the next relationship comes along that everyone will have their thing.  It just needs to compliment my thing.

Lastly, contrary to popular 70s film belief (that may or may not have been based on the now defunct Al and Tipper Gore love story…) love does mean having to say you are sorry.

Of course these lessons will only matter if they are put into practice in the heat of the moment when it counts.  Easier said than done.  The third or fifth wheel is by definition an odd character, but with years of amassing knowledge and advice from good friends it can one day get even.

Or call shotgun.

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Stefon’s Guide to NYC

December 8, 2010 at 6:04 am (Uncategorized)

At the start of every TV season you hear the chatter…SNL is good again…SNL is funny again. It reminds me of when people say a neighborhood of DC is “up and coming.”  Just arrive already!  I’ve been faithful to SNL through the ups and downs, and with the amazing Kristen Wiig and Bill Hayder this year feels like it’s inching up.  Especially with the birth of my new favorite Weekend Update guest star: City Correspondent Stefon.

If you’ve missed Stefon’s New York City guide for tourists check it out here and here and here.

Stefon’s colorful and often 90s-referenced suggestions warrant a second take.  We need a list of things tourists can find in the Big Apple/”coked-up gay candyland.”

“lights, psychos, ferbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sun burned drifters with soap sud beards, answers to the question WHAA?, trance, slits, throw up music, an albino that looks like Susan Powter, teddy gram people, a Rabbi that looks like Joaquin Phoenix, Goths, carnival barkers, groups of guys in Afros and graduation caps, human fire hydrants (when high-waisted midgets where red pants and have a big ass), twinks, gypsies, grown men in wedding dresses, a cat from a Bodega, puppets in disguise (like when Alf wore a trench coat so he could go out in public), the door is guarded by ten jacked homeless guys in old fashion bathing suits, ice sculptures, winos, germfs (German Smurfs), a Teddy Ruxpin wearing mascara, an old lady with Kid ‘n Play hair, DJ Baby Butchoi (a giant 300-pound Chinese baby who wears tinted aviator glasses and spins records with his little ravioli hands), glass, steam, bear traps, and just when you think the fun is over–knock, knock–who’s there–it’s Black George Washington!… a room filled with human bath mats (when midgets have dreadlocks and lie face down on the floor), stainless steel doors, you’ll be greeted by Pierre (the Muslim Elvis impersonator), clones, freaks, sneezing, a Russian man on a pre-paid cell phone, at the door just do the Cosby face, geeks, shirpas, a Jamaican nurse wearing a shower cap, room after room of broken mirrors, look in the corner is that Mic Jagger?, no it’s a fat kid on a slip and slide–his knees look like biscuits and he’s ready to party, ghosts, a banjo, Carl Paladino, a stuck up kitten who won’t sign autographs, Furkels (fat Urkels)–after you been with one of those guys you’ll be asking yourself ‘Did I Do That?'”

Over the Thanksgiving break, my mother asked for my advice on where to meet an old friend in the city.  I couldn’t help but wonder what would Stefon say?

Mom: Where can I go to catch up with an old dental school friend in the city?

Stefon: If you are looking for a good time in New York look no further.  New York’s hottest new nightclub is “STEAM ROOM ‘No Girls Allowed.'”  NY Club owner Franky F. spared no expense.  It has everything…   disco era lights, retired alcoholics, Timothy Geithner, labradoodles in J. Crew sweater sets, the fuck buddy from SATC, Zoroastrians, unemployed Boomers, Strong Islander Lindsey Lohan between arrests, derivatives, the Prime Minister from Malaysia, desi-licious cabbies from New Jersey, Mario Lopez, divas from VIDA, Guilio (the guy who worked the Bar at SAIS Bologna), under-aged armed guards from Penn Station.  Wear your Quinceañera tiara on Friday nights for a discount. Me gusto.

Mom: I think I’ll go to the Morgan Museum/cafe.

Kudos to SNL’s writers for coming up with this stuff! And what if Stefon had to review our fair capital city?  …douchebag lobbyists, generic girls in black suits, promiscuous Hill interns, Democrats who still like Obama…  We might need to work on DC’s randomness in 2011.

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