November 30, 2009

What gets purchased in undergrad…

Posted in *cringe*, Guilt, Project: Fail, The Round at 9:21 am by Dagny Taggart

…gets moved to the back of the closet, waiting for its chance to inspire once again.

I quit smoking and caffeine ingestion at the same time.  It wasn’t pretty, but it *was* just before I started law school, and I figured that if I didn’t manage to do it then, it wasn’t going to happen.  But let’s keep in mind that I was also living at my parents’ house, and that both nicotine and caffeine would have gone a long way towards making that situation go more smoothly.

In short, I tend to do things the hard way.

Which must be why this weekend found me rummaging through my closet, contemplating ensembles for various holiday events over the next month or so.  And why I came across a pair of pants I’d purchased from Nordstrom around the time I bought the giraffe coat (looks like this, but in a mini-giraffe print, not cheetah).  The pants, thankfully, are not animal print.  They are black, and badass, and can magically transform even the most demure Sandra Dee into a vixenish Sandy with only the slightest bit of help from a teasing comb.

They are also, however, a reminder that I was a mite smaller, that lovely junior year of college.  And they are, if all goes well, going to be worn on December 31, 2009, by yours truly.

This is going to involve some serious discipline (read:  grouchiness) on my part, because of COURSE I would decide to try to pull this off during the most delicious time of year.  But when did I ever do anything the easy way?

November 27, 2009

The aftermath

Posted in Guilt, The Round at 11:37 am by Dagny Taggart

Well, I went ahead and did it anyway.  Despite the forebodings and dramatic omens, I made a positively delicious apple pie using the Cook’s Illustrated fool-proof crust recipe (it involves vodka, and rolling out in sub-zero conditions (kidding) (kind of)).  I also use the Karo syrup filling recipe, and for those of you who think corn syrup (regular, not high-fructose) doesn’t belong in a homemade pie filling, I defy you.

It turned out well.  Lumpy, and the pie plate was stuck to the baking sheet with pie goo because I’d rolled the bottom crust too thin and it ruptured when confronted with boiling pie goo, but the overall effect was flaky and tender and tasty and not at all too sweet, thanks to a trusty mixture of 4 large Granny Smiths plus 3 medium Gala apples.

As I am a terrible photographer, there are no photos.  Which is just as well, as the appeal to my pies is much more taste than appearance.  I am not your go-to person for presentation, in other words.

In other news, I’m back at work and still full.  Oof.  Now, to drop 7-8 pounds before New Year’s…  with Christmas dinner standing between me and success, this should be… interesting.

November 26, 2009

Oh, yeah…

Posted in nutella, Present, The Happy, the pretty, The Who, The Why at 2:42 pm by Dagny Taggart

…so, in an ideal world, we’d all be conscious of our blessings all the time.  But it’s hard to be conscious of your blessings when things are all pear-shaped, so it’s nice that we’ve set aside little opportunities like this to remind ourselves to focus on the good.

Family and friends, of course.

And W.

All of my people, really.

And tasty food.

And, blankets.

Cheesy music.

Nutella (of course).

You too, Karma.


Did I mention my people?

Them again.  And again.

and again.


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009

Something I never understood

Posted in *cringe*, Advice I have no business giving, The Just a Little Sad, The WTF at 7:24 am by Dagny Taggart

Yes, I’m still here.  Staying in the area for this holiday, which means I will be blissfully sleeping instead of braving the I-95 corridor…


I used to work with a woman, who had a very strange way of going about dating.

For example, she’d refer to this one gentleman as “Hometown Boy”.  Given that he was older than she, and she’d had roughly 20 years of adult dating experience, I found this… odd.  And then I realized that she referred to every single one of her suitors as a “boy”.

Over time, I listened to a number of date recaps.  It became clear that she had a set of rules to which she adhered strictly (with the occasional substantial lapse).  There was nothing more than a hug after the first date, and no more than a kiss on the cheek for several dates thereafter.   Unless, of course, the situation in question was one of the aforementioned lapses.

And the thing that I didn’t understand, really, was the pride with which she’d say, “Just a peck on the cheek!”  As though she’d won something, as if she’d just put hotels on both Boardwalk and Park Place, and could see her date’s next roll of the dice about to place him squarely on the more expensive of the two.

I’ve lost touch with her, and have no idea if she’s found what she was looking for.  But I can’t imagine finding a fun, healthy, happy relationship while viewing a date as a zero-sum game from which one could emerge victorious.

What are some bizarre dating behaviors you’ve witnessed?

November 24, 2009


Posted in Nerdiness, Past, Project: Fail, The OCD, The Round, The Why, The WTF at 10:57 am by Dagny Taggart

Not Otherwise Specified.

The LA Times wrote about binge eating, and the prospect of its inclusion as a distinct diagnosis in the American Psyciatric Association’s DSM-V.  A reason why they might not include it?

Because they don’t want obese personages, people who have clear weight problems, to view such a diagnosis as a crutch, as an excuse for being unhealthy.

While I was in college, I technically met the diagnostic criteria for both types of anorexia for… oh, I don’t know.  5 months?  At my smallest, I was at roughly two-thirds of my recommended, “normal” weight.  I attained, and maintained, this weight through a combination of highly restricted eating, with occasional bouts of purging/overexercising when family dinners required me to consume regular portions of food in front of other people.

I have also exhibited signs of binge eating and orthorexia for periods of time.

I never received professional help for my disorder.  I am, and probably always will be, in some form of recovery.  I am lucky.

Many, many people are not so fortunate.  Many of those who suffer from disordered eating need professional help, and many of them need that help to be covered by insurance.  They need established treatment plans, they may need disability coverage for periods of recovery.

The causes of eating disorders, specified or not, are not completely understood.  And personal responsibility is a huge part of recovery from any kind of mental illness – whether it be the personal responsibility required to visit a methadone clinic regularly, or to remove even over-the-counter cold medicines and sugary foods from one’s house (a not-uncommon requirement for alcoholics to remain sober), or to choose to attend talk therapy sessions rather than consume an entire jar of marmalade in less than five minutes.

But if the fundamental aspects of a diagnosis are known, and if by identifying the symptoms and making these characteristics better known, more people can become aware of their problem, or their loved one’s problem, or their patient’s problem… if even some of those can be helped, why would you hesitate? 

To protect those who would abuse the system, at the expense of those who might benefit from the research and structured treatment that would follow a more specific diagnosis?

It just doesn’t make sense.

November 23, 2009


Posted in *cringe*, Grief, Guilt, The WTF at 9:57 am by Dagny Taggart

My office line has rung quite a few times in the past several weeks.  Work’s been pretty busy, and that’s a good thing – though I could have done without the 2.5-hour chat with our general counsel first thing on a Friday morning.

My parents have called a few times – they’re planning a trip to the area in a few weeks, to see what I’ve done with my abode and to check out some of the museums.  Anyone know of a good, non-chain restaurant in the Dupontish area where the food is American or Italian (maybe slightly nicer than Pizzeria Paradiso, and not Tabard Inn, because they’ve been there already)?

Notably, S.E. has not called.  Under normal circumstances, we’d be speaking at least once weekly – and if I didn’t call her, she’d call me.  I’ve sent her a couple of emails, because I assumed she was busy and that at least she’d be able to respond at her convenience.  But I haven’t felt like calling her was my place – like she’d call when she was ready to be normal again, and I suppose she’s not.  It hurts.  And it’s pissing me off.

Because when I called to wish the twins a happy birthday, the call where she told me that she was really bothered by the fact that I wasn’t coming up for the twins’ birthday party, that she felt I was rejecting a chance to share in her life… I felt judged

When she asked, “So, what are you doing this weekend”, I heard, “So what reason could you possibly give that would be good enough to warrant not coming to the party?”  And I felt as though my plans, as much as I was looking forward to them, wouldn’t be a good enough answer for her.  As though confessing my decision to dress up in a hilarious (and yes, skimpy) costume and hang out with a very entertaining group of people (I had a fantastic time) would only make things worse.

The impression that I got was that she resented me for not choosing to make myself miserable.  That doing something for her should have superseded what might actually make me happy.  Granted, that’s just my impression.  But she hasn’t called.

And I really, really don’t want to get to a place where I think that maybe that’s a good thing.

November 20, 2009

Playing down

Posted in 8-ball - pool not narcotics, Nerdiness, The How, The Why, The WTF at 10:08 am by Dagny Taggart

Not that I have the opportunity all that often, given that I’m of Fairly Low Ranking myself, but last night, both of my matches were played against the same player – who is ranked one level lower than me.

I much, much prefer playing higher-ranked players.  I’d rather play someone in the top two rankings than someone closer to my own level.  And for a while, I thought the reason I tended to play well during such matches was because I wasn’t expected to win, there was less pressure, so I could relax and enjoy myself.

Playing a highly ranked player, I could get on the 8 in 3-4 turns at the table – the downside being that they could normally get on the 8 in 1-2 turns at the table.  But last night, the number of turns it took me to get on the 8 was a multiple of that estimate, and the number of tries it took to actually sink the 8 was laughably high.

So clearly, this is an aspect of my mental game that I need to work on – I should be playing my best game regardless of how my opponent is playing. 

This situation got me thinking about other aspects of my life, too.  Do I subconsciously alter the way I do things depending on context?  And if so, is this a bad thing?

November 19, 2009


Posted in Darth Vaguer, The Happy at 10:41 am by Dagny Taggart

Every once in a while, you get a little surprise, exactly when you need it.  Even if you don’t know you need it.  When doubts creep in, and you’re not quite as sure that your life is going to work out the way you think  you want it to, and you wonder if everyone who’s told you to do something else might be right…

A little something happens.  Nothing big, nothing huge.  But maybe you inadvertently give off a sign that you need a tiny little boost.  And someone comes through, and it helps you find your way out of your head, and back to your smile.

November 18, 2009

Things that just need to stop.

Posted in *cringe*, Nerdiness, Project: Fail, The Aaaarrrghhhhh!, The OCD, The Small and Petty, The Why, The WTF at 10:01 am by Dagny Taggart

The scrunchie.  Granted, this probably HAS stopped everywhere but around government buildings and certain parts of the country that still rely on analog cellular signals, but still.  I saw three lovely offenders this morning, two on the metro and one disturbingly close to my office.  Seriously, the regular thread-covered elastic looks MUCH better.  And a work-appropriate ponytail should be gathered as close to the top of the neck as possible, just FYI.

I do not ever, EVER, need to see Commando Guy in baggy shorts on the leg press machine again, ever.  Please think about the day’s routine prior to selecting your workout wardrobe.

High HEELS.  HEEEEEEEELS.  Not high heals.  NEVER high heals.  High HEELS.

Please, PLEASE stop relying so heavily on spell check.  It will not catch that mistake, because “heals” is an actual word referring to what happens when a wound undergoes the process that makes it not a wound anymore.  Also in this category – palate/pallet/palette, which are not interchangeable, but apply to food/warehouse/color, respectively. 

Today’s halitosis contest on the Metro?  Really doesn’t need to happen again.  Toothbrushes can be very inexpensive.  So are Altoids.  Though if your goal is the return of the pomander, well-played, sirs.

This entry brought to you by the return of insomnia, a dash of food allergy, and a massive case of crankypants.  Also, when every single last banana in the store is inedibly green AND my milk inexplicably goes bad before the expiration date, I become kind of a jerk.

November 17, 2009

Organization? ME??!?

Posted in Nerdiness, Project: Fail, The How, The Process, The WTF at 8:35 am by Dagny Taggart

First of all, I want to bring the interrobang back.  Now.  You know where we can put it?  In the “special characters” space currently occupied by “∂”, which apparently stands for “partial differential”.  I am SURE the interrobang would get more use, if properly publicized.

At any rate, I was doing a little bit of thinking yesterday, puttering around after work and getting ready for pool.  And it hit me.

I need an outline.   The reason I’ve made precisely the same three or four paragraphs of headway every time I’ve tried to write a piece of fiction, without fail, is that I have too many options as to where it could go afterward.  And I can’t decide, while I’m actually writing, what’s going to happen next.  Which characters to introduce when, which backstory should go with whom.  All of these ideas just swirl around, bumping into each other and dropping stacks of papers and generally causing a ruckus.

I’d thought, for the longest time, that I was a NO-OUTLINE kinda girl.  I mean, I’d start 35-page papers roughly 36 hours in advance of their deadline, with a stack of references to my left, Diet Coke, Marlboro Lights and an ashtray to my right, a roommate with a lighter similarly situated on the other side of the room, and emerge with enough time to shower and change before dropping the paper off in the appropriate faculty mailbox.  It was the only way the papers got done (and I did pretty well on them, scarily enough).

But those papers kind of have a built-in outline.  Academic work follows a pretty typical pattern, one that was burned into my brain so thoroughly as to become instinctive.  And thus, a subconscious outline punctuated by smoke breaks and the occasional Lean Pocket guided my thoughts, kept tangents at bay, and wrangled my theses into a submission.

For this, it is not so automatic.  There is no sharply blazed trail through the jungle of my creative brain, and thus… things fall apart.  So, I have to write an outline, I suppose, because these ideas REALLY want out of my head. 

Anyone know how to do that in a way that won’t make me want to stab out my eyeballs?

Next page