Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Post-Holiday Depression Survival Guide (alternatively titled, "Top Ten Things I Like About Almost-Empty DC")

Back in the office? You're not alone. I am, too. And as anyone in the office the week after Christmas knows, online entertainment is CRITICAL to surviving the looooooooong stretches of mostly meeting-free days. (Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, at least not vehemently - just observing that empty days are often slow days).

This time of year presents the young working adult with a bit of a Catch-22. Go home for the long stretch and pray that everyone in your family makes it out on speaking terms? Or conserve your leave for a Carribean adventure during the interminably gray month of February but pay for your choice with a heaping dose of holiday guilt? In either case, I find that the week after Christmas leaves me fairly reflective, and don't even get me started on what the changing of the year does to me - suffice it to say it's no coincidence that the month of January finds me furiously journaling.

But you didn't come here for reflection. You came to be entertained. Without further ado, my top ten favorite things about being back in the groove and "working" the week after Christmas:

  1. Less guilt when I miss the bus in the morning and an opportunity to finish my morning coffee without impromptu meetings.

  2. Fewer people on the metro. More space, more quiet. Can you put a value on not starting in a state of high anxiety? There are days where taking the metro feels like a running of the bulls, but this week has been blissfully free of commute stress. (Forgive me, I just finished "The Paris Wife," so I have Hemingway on the brain).

  3. More space at the gym/pool/running trail/etc. Last night, I had a lane to myself for the entirety of my time at the DC public pool. I enjoyed the hell out of it. And will continue to do so until every fitness facility in the city is overrun by New Year's resolution-ers next week.

  4. Slower pace. Everyone is still in a sugar coma from Christmas cookies, which makes them less eager to shove ahead of you in line.

  5. Happier moods. Even accounting for holiday stress, I think people tend to slant more chipper this time of year. I even enjoy the generic "Happy holidays!" I find out on Out of Office emails.

  6. After Christmas sales. No, it's no Black Friday - which I hate because of the crowds, see #2 - but you can still find some sweet bargains to help round out your piles of presents.

  7. Excuses to catch up with old friends. Even if this translates to just posting on their Facebook walls.

  8. Freedom to eat junk at any time of the day. Let's face it, those leftovers are not going to eat themselves.

  9. An opportunity to blare music - the cheesier the better - from your desk speakers. SANS HEADPHONES.

  10. Time to write this blog post

In reviewing the list above, it's amazing how many of them boil down to fewer people around. What was my Myers-Briggs again? Maybe that will be tomorrow's project...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nope! Chuck Testa

There are three theories at work here.

One, Jorge Santini, the mayor of San Juan, is using his Christmas cards to promote the San Juan Wildlife Museum and its "realistic natural history displays."

The second theory, promulgated by dissenters, is that Mayor Santini is using his Christmas cards as a veiled threat against his political enemies.

The third theory?  He is just plain awesome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Famous Last Word's Guide to Small Talk

After I stopped playing softball, my dad helpfully suggested that I start following professional sports, since I was "bad at small talk" and would "need something to talk about."

Look, I'm no wunderkind like Ashton Kutcher Paris Hilton Jenny McCarthy, but I think I can reasonably say that my parents have always underestimated my social skills. 

Now, some of that may be my own fault.  High school Katie didn't play the long game.  Uninterested in explaining who my friends were and where they lived, I would always just tell my parents that I was at one of two people's houses.  They're not illogical people.

They concluded that I had only two friends.

I love you Wilson.

This conclusion had consequences.  The reason they encouraged me to play a sport in college, my brother later told me, was because they thought it would force me to socialize.  "Katie only has two friends," they told him.  "This way she'll be forced out of her room."

Computers: 523891098   Parents: 0

And then I dropped softball, and my dad and I had that talk on the front porch.

His words come back to haunt me all the time.

I was told by one former co-worker, who caught me hiding at an event, that I "don't play the game."

"Baby," I cooed, "I don't play no games."

Baby I bowl but baby that is a sport.

It's true.  I don't play games.  I master them. You can therefore count yourself lucky that I will share my wisdom and help turn you into the social butterfly of every occasion. Just stick to the below topics, and the moment, as they say in France, will be perdu a jamais1.

Christmas is Coming

If you were born in the long summer, you wouldn't understand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Stone-cold sober, I've never felt higher in my life than when I watch the Planet Earth series on Animal Planet.


There exists somewhere a group of people who enjoy caramel covered popcorn served out of oversized tins. These people are disappointed 11 months of the year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bigger than Britney

So said the volunteer coordinator's email request for additional event staff this past Saturday (emphasis on the following hers): "PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE AVAILABLE AND FLEXIBLE FOR NEXT WEEKEND. I will need volunteers for a VERY SPECIAL VIP visit - and you thought Britney was big ;)"

Why, yes, I DID think Britney was big. And not just back in the her "Hit Me Baby One More Time" days of glory, either. I thought she was big circa October 2011 when I was really, really pissed that she came to Children's National Medical Center on a day I wasn't volunteering. In sum, you should be understanding that I replied to that email request in a hot second. And spent much of the next few days wondering who, WHO could possibly be bigger than the Spears?? I had some thoughts - Ryan Seacrest recently did something with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, could it be him?

Incredibly scornful looks from the volunteer manager. Seacrest was out. My Google search "celebrities in DC 12/10/11" was also depressing unsuccessful. Admittedly, the search terms were uninspired at best, but, in my defense, I didn't have much to go on. If I had looked just a little harder, perhaps I would have stumbled upon Christmas in Washington...(for those of you following along at home, that's what we call a hint).

Fast forward to Saturday morning. There is insane chaos in the volunteer office. There are headsets. And walkie-talkies. And hugely high levels of secrecy. Fun fact: it is incredibly hard to a) recruit for an event and b) ask patients' parents to sign media releases when you have NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING. Or who is coming. Fast forward two more hours. The volunteers are exhausted, the kids are impatient, the parents are wondering what is going on, the door to the infusion room hastily converted to an event space swings open and in walks....

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Holidays Make the Freaks Come Out

I'm sure these stories will get worse, but for now, it looks like the holidays make the freaks come out.  In this week's pile of the not-even-most-ridiculous, there are freaks and elves, but  no fairies.  We hate fairies.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday?

One of our esteemed co-contributors celebrated her birthday yesterday. December 7th! Really? Nothing? As none of you probably know, yesterday was also Pearl Harbor day! Being born on a day that one of the greatest Americans in history once described as a "day that will live in infamy" is probably a bit of a downer. Thankfully for her, our terrible education system and a Michael Bay miscarriage have ensured that many people today don't remember Pearl Harbor, or at least can't recall the calendar date when challenged.
The Pilgrims dumped Tea into Pearl Harbor during the Civil War to protest Washington DC's license plates.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Perhaps we're all being a little negative. Maybe Al-Qaeda is growing all those fields of poppies because they look pretty.

Monday, December 5, 2011

So you think I have....oh. Oh.

From: XXXX, Victoria
To: XXXX, Katie
Subject: Wide calf boots

I want wide calf boots for xmas, but have been on the hunt and seems impossible.  i am hesitant to order online for the hassle of returning when they most likely won't fit.  Have you found any?  I'm also slightly giggly about the fact that they call it "wide shaft" boot. Ha ha ha.


From: XXXX, Katie
To: XXXX, Victoria
Subject: Re: Wide calf boots

Was this suposed to be for me?


From: XXXX, Victoria
To: XXXX, Katie
Subject: Re: Wide calf boots

yeah!  We both have soccer girl calves.  Have you found any good boots?

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Remember when I said that all I wanted as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree?

I never thought it was such a bad little tree.  It's not bad at all, really.  All it needs is a little love.

Look what David found us!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

AOL is the post-Singled Out Jenny McCarthy of the tech world

Yesterday I was at a meeting on innovation (what kind and for whom shall remain nameless), for which a former executive of AOL was a featured speaker.

And in like, a non-ironic sense.

With this one fact we have all of the critical differences between my generation and the one before me when it comes to anything related to the internet and technology.

When businessmen-of-a-certain-age hear former executive of AOL, they think of AOL's soaring success as a new business.  They think of how they were the revolutionary force, getting the average middle-income home up and online.

When someone my age hears AOL and innovation together, they snicker.

Let's be honest: if you know someone who still uses an .aol email address, you know one other thing about that person, and that's that they don't actually "use" their .aol email address.  "Here's my email," they say to you, anxiously peering over their glasses at the paper as they scribble it down. " was that DSmthdoglvr283420988?  I'll check at home and let you know."

But they never do, because they've forgotten their password.  And once that hurdle has been cleared, there's too much spam in their inbox and they hurry offline to avoid AOL's featured web performance of Nickleback, the AOL of rock/pop bands.

I remember reading an interview with Andrew Breitbart in GQ, who was talking about what it's like to have ADD and be on the computer:

I've got maybe four or five instant messenger conversations going on at the same time. I've got about five or six tabs in Firefox going. I'm probably talking on my cell phone while I'm monitoring my Fantasy baseball team, knowing the pitch count of the Milwaukee Brewers/Cincinnati Reds game.

Once again, generational differences.  I am 29 years old.  I may not have clinical ADD, but to paraphrase the Bloggess, I'm easily distracted and I have an internet connection, and that's basically the same thing.  Right now I'm writing this post, while watching a documentary on North Korean gymnastics, while on gchat, while researching the connection between "More than a Feeling," the Pixies and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  I can't tell you how many tabs I have open in Firefox because then I'd have to shift over and I don't feel like doing that, but be assured that it's way more than five.  I don't even have my music on, because I can hear David's from the next room. And all this is completely normal.  

"But Katie," you may say.  "That's your leisure time.  Andrew Breitbart has a site thousands of people read a day, whereas your work day consists of trying to pretend that your legendary research skills are something more than the ability to access Google. And let's not pretend that anyone besides the four of us read this site."  

Well, touche, readers, I say.  But if I may expand on that thought (and I will), I'd like to point out that Andrew Breitbart is a total asshat.  But also, what he points to as ADD looks to someone my age as normal bordering on focused.

What amazes me is how quickly we are approaching the point where executives will be people who were raised on the internet.  The little tricks that my generation has used throughout our interactions with our parents, teachers and bosses since we were 14 (the computer ate my homework) just isn't going to cut it.  Things move fast.  Mark Zuckerberg no longer stands for innovation.  Facebook is the old.  Google isn't even the new.   

But remember when we all had AOL accounts?  I think back now to how eager I was to sign up for my screen name, and how  many of those free month discs we went through in my home.  Hell, most of my good friendships to this day were probably solidified through endless hours of aim conversations.   I still use that same AOL screenname as my sign-in and tag for most of my internet interactions.  But what if I had the same reaction to AOL when I was 14 as I did to Facebook at 21, or Twitter today?  I'd be a pretty isolated, sad case.  So maybe I should just hop on board and accept the inevitable.

Or maybe not.