Archive | August, 2010

photo friday: words

27 Aug

As an editor and a writer, I’m surrounded by words all day every day. I can’t, for the life of me, think of a time when I can ever escape them—reading them, seeing through them, picturing them in my sleep. It is not possible to escape. I couldn’t pick just one word to tell you about for this week’s Photo Friday, so I figured a collection of vignettes might do me better.

#1: Remember that whole ridiculous lip issue/allergist trip I’ve been dealing with? Yeah, it’s still not completely 100% back to the awesomeness that used to be my upper lip, but for a short time now, I’ve at least been able to keep its angry redness to a minimum. (Unless I go and do something stupid like, oh, I don’t know, accidentally rub sunscreen on that area of my face. Come age 92, my face will be perfectly smooth and spotless—thank you, SPF 70—except for the area above my lip which will be more wrinkled and puckered than a 2-pack-a-day smoker’s.)

The redness management has been due mostly in part of me ganking this tub of Eucerin from my parents’ house. It’s been there for approximately eight years, but let me tell you a little something about Eucerin: it is magical white cream. When I was little, I used to get really dry skin behind the ears and on the bottoms of my toes. So very dry that my toes would crack and peel, exposing raw skin in the bends of my toes. In those days, Mom would slather Eucerin on my toes (and my ears, but I don’t remember that. It’s just what she tells me.) three inches thick and send me to bed. Why I got these dry patches on my toes and behind my ears it was never understood. And eventually, I just grew out of it, I guess.

Huh. Maybe this upper lip thing is something similar? I don’t know why I didn’t put 2 and 2 together before.

Eucerin  = magic

The end.


#2: Everyone Needs a Julie got married recently, and while that’s always a provoker of change in friendships, what is more traumatizing to me is that she moved a mile away. Did you read that? A MILE. Now it takes me like, 15 MINUTES to get to her house, rather than the five it took me to wander across the street. My heart is broken. I have the woe. I may be coming down with a touch of the ennui. I used to be able to pop over even if I was still in my pajamas! I can’t hop on the L2 bus if I’m in my pajamas! Well, I could, but it would be awkward for so many people. What if I had to stop in Cal-Tort to pick up some nachos?

Thankfully, she left me with this poster to remember her by.

Or maybe just because her husband didn’t want it in the new apartment.

ENAJ, you can come visit your poster any time you like.

#3: There are many things I love about The Swede, but one of the things I love most is that I will never be able to lose him.

Literally.

I just follow the trail of loose change that seems to fall out of his pockets constantly.

Months ago I discovered this characteristic about The Swede, and I said to myself, “Molly, if you get nothing else from this relationship, at least you should make some money.” So I told The Swede, “Listen, I do love that if you ever get lost in the woods or the Safeway or something I will always be able to find you because I can just follow the loose change trail you leave, but if you’re not going to bother picking these coins up, I will. And I’m going to keep them all and take myself to Costa Rica.”

“Can I come?” The Swede asked.

“No. I’m the one doing all the work of picking up these coins, so I’m taking myself. Besides, you’ve already been, and I never have,” I replied.

“But technically it’s my money,” The Swede pointed out.

I like to flagrantly ignore that aspect of the conversation, and have since started picking up coins that fall about and yelling, “Costa Rica!” while holding the coins high in the air. The Swede does not find this annoying at all.

Since I can’t leave my newfound monies lying about, I’m corralling them in a jar for safe keeping. As of right now, I have $2.88. I am planning my Costa Rican getaway for 2098.

Head on over to Calliope’s blog to see what other Photo Fridayers have to say about words!

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an open letter to the state department

26 Aug

Dear State Department,

Hi! How are you? I am fine. How are things in the rest of the world? I hope your embassies and other establishments of note are doing well. Are you enjoying the end of summer? Hopefully you’re having some nice weather.

I thought of you yesterday. I went to two (yes, two!) post offices to get passport photos taken, since it seems you won’t let me leave or enter this country or other countries without a passport that is up-to-date. I’ve had the paperwork filled out for quite some time now, but the photo part of the deal, well, that took some time getting done.

But yesterday, since it was so nice, I decided to go get my picture snapped. I tried to have it done at CVS, since I had a coupon, but it turns out you need to have a photo already taken and uploaded, which I didn’t realize. So I hopped the bus up to the Chevy Chase post office, but guess what? They don’t have passport services there! So I hopped a bus down to Cleveland Park, which is where the very kind woman at the Chevy Chase post office said was the nearest post office that did passport photos.

And yes, it’s true. They do take passport photos at the Cleveland Park post office! Hooray! And let me also add, State Department, the woman who took my picture was quite possibly the nicest postal worker I’ve ever encountered. Then again, I’ve never actually encountered surly post office workers, or waited in line anxiously wondering if today was the day one of them would haul off and go postal when all I was trying to do was mail in my quarterly taxes like a good citizen.

And I am a good citizen, State Department.

Which is why I don’t understand why you’re such a tightass about these passport photos. Why so strict? What have I ever done to you that such stringent photo limitations are in place? Why must my eyes be at a certain height? Why must the photo show my whole face and only my face? Why are you putting me in a box?

Don’t you think, State Department, that if I wasn’t a good citizen, that I was some sort of woman who fancied herself a terror on other countries (not a terrorist, mind you, because I’m not smart enough to put together bombs to blow shit up. Well, I am, but I’m too fucking lazy, frankly, to try something like that. I mean if I fancied myself a terror, as in one of those obnoxious Americans who thrust themselves upon other cultures and then complain about, OMG, this place is fucking weird, they don’t do things the right way, i.e. the right way being America’s way) it would be better to have a full-bodied photo of me in action? Are you really going to recognize me with a photo like this:

When it’s really more likely that were I to get caught in an act of terror it would look something more like this?:

Granted, that first picture, let’s be honest, is pretty terrifying. (Then again, so is the second one. And no, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.) And while it’s not the actual passport photo I sent in with my filled-out forms and check for $75, it’s not far off. (Also, did you like the green shirt I’m wearing in the photo I sent to you? I wore it all special-like for you, because it looks good with my hair.) As I’m sure you well know, State Department, 97.6% of passport photos look like this—wide-eyed and freaked out, multiple chins, with hair that looks like maybe it was done nicely at one point but has since gone the way of the bird’s nest.

How that’s going to give you a good idea of what kind of terror of a woman I might be is anyone’s guess. I’m telling you, State Department, don’t look for the rigid girl standing in line at customs, look for the flailing, carrying-too-many-bags-to-be-healthy, eyes-dodging-because-maybe-there-are-flavored-cigs-in-her-carryon, unsmiling-due-to-lack-of-sleeping-on-planes young woman, and you’ll find me, if you’re looking for me.

Anyway, keep in touch. And I hope to hear from you soon! (You know, with my new passport and all!)

LYLAS,

McPolish

quoth the mcpolish: um, yes please

25 Aug

To continue on in my trying to make amends for my botched attempt at McPolish Restaurant Week (and I swear I’ll be trying this foray again soon. Or later. One of the two.) I’m going to finish up this train wreck with one of the best places I’ve hit up in Baltimore.

And when it comes to Baltimore, I’ve hit up quite a lot of best places.

Except Birches.

But that’s another story for another time. Just know that Jesus has made it clear He does not want me to go to Birches. The Lord is opposed to me dining at Birches. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I ever did to piss Him off.

You know what? I don’t want to talk about it.

Thankfully, Baltimore is rife with delicious eateries. When I started doing freelance nightlife writing back in the day up in Baltimore (ah, the good old days), it quickly became clear that Baltimore’s restaurant scene was superior to DC’s. I’m sorry, people, but that’s just the way it is. And I’ve been shouting that from the rooftops for the last five years.

So it really should come as no surprise to you that I think the Annabel Lee Tavern is another gem in Baltimore’s crown. A few months back I sat at the bar with Panda, Baltimore Betty, and the official Food Week Mascot at ALT. I’d only been in the place once before, and that was to interview the chef for a BMMX feature on Chefs You Should Know. He was a quiet guy, kind of confused as to why I was profiling him, but friendly enough, and without a lot of the ego you usually encounter in chefs. (I find this true of many Baltimore chefs, actually. With the exception of a couple that come to mind. Funnily enough, they are both chefs at restaurants in the Fed Hill neighborhood. I don’t know if that means anything or has any sort of relevance, but it just dawned on me and I thought I’d share.)

(What?)

Obviously, Annabel Lee Tavern has a Poe-theme, with Poe décor on the wall, Poe-themed cocktails, you get the idea. Baltimoreans love them some Edgar Allen, let me tell you. If you take nothing else away from a visit to Baltimore, know this: Edgar Allen Poe is buried there, and yes, The Wire really was filmed in Baltimore.*

We ordered rounds of drinks and picked out our wants and desires from the menu. It was crowded the night that we went, made more so by a pop-up rainstorm that sent the customers dining al fresco mad dashing into the bar area of a restaurant that’s not all that big to begin with. But, you know, shit happens. They were polite enough to try not to drip on us, and it didn’t bother our eating none, and the food was still delicious, so all was well.

Annabel Lee’s menu is eclectic and a bit odd-ball, but truly I would expect nothing less from any good restaurant in Baltimore. Chefs there are nothing if not daring, and for that, I applaud them. (Note—the menu changes relatively regularly. AWESOME.)

Multiple appetizers were had, drinks were consumed, but thankfully, no mistakes were made. (Besides maybe some very loud, obnoxious storytelling on our parts, but is that ever a mistake? If you are part of my dining group, no. If you are another patron in the restaurant, probably then yes.) We ordered brussel sprouts (yes, you read that correctly), some spicy sweet potato fries (which I’m happy to say have changed my opinion of sweet potato fries, but sadly I’m now very picky about the quality of my sweet potato fries. I cannot help it that my standards are high.), and buffalo mushrooms.

YES.


So even vegetarians can enjoy the wonder of eating things fried and buffaloized. Not that I’m a vegetarian or anything.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Do you know vegetarians don’t eat bacon?

Huh.

Sad.

ANYWAY.

I followed those ‘shrooms et al with a burger that involved prosciutto and provolone and that I can’t tell you about further because I don’t want there to be a mad rush on Annabel Lee and then next time I go there I can’t get a seat to save my soul.

My dining partners had, in no particular order: a curried chicken salad sandwich, an open face turkey thing (I think), and orange roughy tacos, which I’m told were all delicious.

If you don’t believe me, then check it out for yourself. This is not a place you will walk away from squawking “NEVERMORE!” (heh) (I couldn’t resist, hellooooo).

*And OMFG, if you haven’t watched The Wire, you need to go do that right now or we…just…we just can’t be friends anymore. Why are you still reading this blog? GO WATCH THE WIRE. DID YOU NOT HEAR ME?

trying to make amends: the argonaut

24 Aug

So I kind of f-ed things up a bit with that whole “Restaurant Week” theme the other week, didn’t I? Not so much a “week” as it was “two days.”  I swear there are more than two restaurants in the world/this area that I enjoy. I swear I don’t only eat at the taco truck and Tabard Inn.

Not that there would be anything wrong with that if I did.

Ahem.

Anyway.

To finish continue on where I started, how’s about one of them new hot spots o’er by der on H Street? You know, that hip, happenin’ street that was a shithole two years ago, but now is, as they say, “up and coming”? Or maybe “gentrifying” is the term you prefer? O perhaps you might want to call it “a changing neighborhood.”

Essentially: White people are moving in and opening restaurants. And soon they’ll be buying property there too.

Noooo! Not White People!

So, The Swede and I are big fans of Groupon and especially LivingSocial. Have I mentioned this?

(LivingSocial! WOOT! Ahem. What? NO I’M NOT JUST CHEERING FOR THEM BECAUSE I WRITE FOR THEM.) (MAYBE.)

ANYWAY, we tend to go a little bonkers with the daily deals, buying them left and right. Hence, at any one time we have about five or six rolling around waiting to be used. Sticky Rice, Twin Jazz Club, Gifford’s, Cedar, a voucher to go kayaking or canoeing, you get the idea. I’d heard about The Argonaut awhile back, located on H Street (Hipsters Unite! U Street is sew ovah), and wanted to try it. And lo! One of the deal sites popped up one day featuring The Argonaut, which I of course jumped on immediately.

Restaurants and bars on H Street seem to be opening up at a rapid pace, and are flocked to by patrons, despite crazy street construction and it not being all that close to good public transportation. But what they lack in a red line stop the Argonaut makes up for in beer, food, and charm. We sat inside in the bar area, the floors made of thick stones that were somewhat uneven. The rest of the interior seemed well-worn, in a loved way, cozy wood booths tucked against the wall, and on the other side of the wall that separated the bar from the rest of the dining room, tables dotting the floorplan.

I don’t remember what The Swede had, but I had a Cubano sandwich.  With fries. And some sort of beer that I enjoyed very much.


A note on cubano sandwiches. First, they are delicious. Second, I’m pretty sure this is the hot new sandwich to have on one’s menu. Move over chicken ceasar wrap, pork and pickles and cheese pressed in a Panini maker is where it’s at, bitches!

And then The Argonaut burned down.

Thankfully, not while we were in there, but a few weeks later, it was all the DC foodie/restaurant sites could talk about. I don’t think it was total destruction, and they’ve since rebuilt and reopened. (Though now every time I mention it I follow it up with, “Did you know they had a fire?” Which is not annoying at all.) Which is good.

Because a hot pork and pickle sandwich? High on my list of things delicious. Nobody should be denied it, if they are so inclined to try it.

And you should.

to kingdom come

23 Aug

I did something wild! And crazy! today.

I booked a flight to Morocco.*

Shit, that reminds me. I still need to renew my passport.

Okay, so it’s not all that crazy and wild. The idea for this trip has actually been in the works for quite some time. Turner moved to Rabat to be with her manfriend (now husband) back in February. The December before, as we drove around the icy streets of DC talking about her upcoming move, and being posted in Africa for two years, she was panicked that not a single soul would come visit her.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I looked at her in consternation. “Seriously? Fine. I’ll just say it right now. I’ll be there next December.”

“Really?” Turner replied, full of hope.

“Dude. A new country to visit, a new continent to visit, and a free place to stay. Have you met me? Of course I will come visit. I promise.”

Promises of visitors in hand, Turner, as I said, went off to Africa in February, got herself married and is living the life. And I, not being one to back out of promises, so help me God, and wanting to pursue more travel, because if not now, when?, have been stalking air fares to Rabat, and frantically discussing dates and times and whatnot with my friend across the ocean.

Turns out, I couldn’t keep my December promise, for various reasons. Mainly because Turner wouldn’t be there, she and husband would be travelling for the holiday season. Such things happen when you’re living the life, man.

But that’s okay, we figured out that January is just as good, and slightly cheaper on the plane fare, too, so I’ll go in January instead, and spend 10 days in Morocco doing….Christ, I have no idea what we’ll be doing. I know that there will be food involved, lots of food (big surprise). And I have threatened to hop the first plane back to America if we can’t at least try to start some sort of revolution and overthrow…something. A picnic table at least. Conversely, I’ve also been informed by The Swede that if I don’t come home with some bottles of duty free booze, I shouldn’t bother coming home at all. But only if they’re good duty-free deals. (He and I have already had the discussion about how sometimes duty-free is not always a good deal, and how we will have to make sure we do a pricing trip to the local liquor stores to ensure I’m not getting hosed.)

If you’d like to place an order for flavored cigarettes, the hotline is open.

I can’t freaking wait.

*That’s the Kingdom of Morocco to you, sir. I said good day.

photo friday: travel

8 Aug

Before she lived in the land of snow and bears, Captain Deb lived in Wyoming. She had a house, a new career in the military, and two friends who thought, “Hey! Wyoming! In August! Let’s go!”

For the record, those two friends would be Everyone Needs A Julie. And me.

So for a few days many years ago, ENAJ and I hopped a plane to Denver, picked up our Tacoma pick-me-up-truck (oh yes we went there) at the rental shop, and drove an hour and a half north to Cheyenne.

While we were visiting Captain Deb in Wyoming, it just so happened to be Frontier Days, which, if you don’t know, is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. Okay, so it didn’t just happen to be Frontier Days, we totally planned it that way. Sosumi.  Either way, we trekked over to the…stadium? What do you call a place where rodeos are held? Ring? Fairgrounds? I can’t remember, but either way, we got our tickets and settled into seats, horses and cowboys everywhichway you looked, it seemed.

Have you ever watched bull riding? It was new to me. I’d always wondered how they got the bulls to buck like they do. Captain Deb said simply, “Their balls are in a vice.”

“Huh,” I said. “Yeah, that would be uncomfortable, I’d think.”

Captain Deb just nodded.

By far the highlight of the rodeo was the wild horse race. Teams of cowboys would try and saddle an unbroken horse, and then one of the cowboys would hop on said horse and coax it to run around the horse track once. Whoever crossed the finish line first wins the pot.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Except have you ever tried to saddle an unbroken horse? And then ride it? I can’t say that I have, personally, but from watching these teams of cowboys, it’s not something I’m going to be putting on my Life List anytime soon. I suspect that some of those men will not be having children in the near future. Or breathing easily on a regular basis.

The horses, to say the least, hate this. You can just tell that they’re so freaking annoyed at someone trying to saddle them, not to mention then ride them, that they buck and skit all the way around the track. And those are just the horses that make it all the way around the track. A good quarter of them will just come to a dead stop and refuse to move, no matter how much prodding there is from the cowboy. And some of them buck so hard that they throw the cowboy off completely, and then gleefully trot across the finish line solo.

And in the case of the one-time leader of this wild horse race, as we watched the cowboy bucking along with the horse, the horse then stopped within feet of the finish line, turned around, and started running and bucking back the way he’d come from.

The crowd went wild.

Good things happen when you travel.


all growns up

4 Aug

Cute, isn’t he? The little munchkin who keeps getting bigger and bigger every time I see him. In May, at Mother’s Day, he had less hair and no teeth.  Now there are two teeth on the bottom and swirly curls of blonde hair all around his head.

He recently managed to put all the pieces of movement together, and crawls around with ease, oftentimes closer and closer to the dog who doesn’t seem to believe that this thing can finally move. Now it does more than just cry and whine and make noise, the dog thinks, but it moves. The dog is secretly hoping that this is just a phase, so he won’t have to get up and move out of fear for his tail every time the little punk comes a-callin’.

He can feed himself now. Kind of. He hasn’t mastered utensils, but then, neither have I sometimes. But he can grab blueberries or bits of bagel and miniscule cheese cubes and shove them all in his mouth at once. He can sit nicely in a high chair while you and your sister are out to lunch, occasionally reaching for the turkey on ciabatta on your plate (thankfully you’re still faster on the draw than he is), munching on fancy baby food from a Food Network star and more pieces of bagel, his hands grubby from shoving the pureed turkey and…whatever else was in that packet….into his mouth in happiness.

And he can, when his mom gently moves his hand away from her white pants, turn sweetly to Aunt Molly and wipe those lovely grubby hands all over her navy blue pants, the food remnants of which will later crust over and look oh-so-attractive to passersby.

He’s really growing up.

Thanks to Sister #1 for snapping this photo of me and the little pot-pie.