I'm A Legal Alien Now

Sunday, July 30, 2006


The exhibition which was supposed to arrive at 10am yesterday didn't turn up until 4:30pm.


Nonetheless, Xena and I had a perfectly delightful day of window shopping and brunching around Dupont Circle, which is where I would live if I could afford it (though I'm yet to see Georgetown, I do like the accessibility of the Metro stop in Dupont). We had brunch at Kramer's Books and Grill, which was divine (alcohol at brunch without recrimination- bless) and I found my future CD supplier (Roomie had offered me an old CD player and I foolishly declined but am going to see if it's still around). After a week of struggling to find teapots, they were falling out of the woodwork all of a sudden and I got a combination mug-infuser which was inexpensive AND efficient AND matches my bedroom walls (quite a consideration).

I even bought some neat Kenneth Cole work pants in a very dark gray from the glories of Filene's Basement. As they're for work, I feel they're exempt from the spending freeze. They're neat, and thanks to Fil's were less than half their usual retail price. They only catch, I discovered when I got home, were that they are dry-clean only. I think there are some Koreans on U who can handle that though.

Industrious things are happening outside my window. It appears the back patio construction is imminent due to the piles of wood, bags of concrete and a handful of illegal Mexicans.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Boo! Hooray!

My Roomie finally has a flaw. He's a Country music fan. This will not do, it will not do at all.

Plus, he ate some of my Pop Tarts. But this pales into comparison when compared to... ugh... Kenny Chesney.

Today was rather interesting, even if it did take me until 3pm to fully wake up for some reason (I think it was the oppressive heat). This morning, after an alarming email from Anne who has also posted my toilet analysis (worth a look, I swear) and subsequent phone call my co-worker and I (let's call her Xena from here on out) had to get a driver to go up the Residence, the Ambassador's digs, to collect some paintings. Well. I want to be an Ambassador, if only for the real estate. I also met his butler who looks like he should be in a Ralph Lauren ad, reclining with some elfin blond in something made of linen or cashmere. Perhaps on a beach, near Martha's Vineyard.

Then this afternoon I did something completely bizarre but unfortunately culturally sensitive so I can't blog it. This makes me sad, as it was so extraordinarily weird but then I cheer myself up by the sheer obnoxiousness of hinting to something without spilling the beans.

I've invited myself to an event being run by Japan's cultural department (unfortunately they have a separate Cultural Center downtown, so I don't get to check out their beautifully modernist Embassy) next week, and am trying to get in with the French because apparently they're the party Embassy. Unfortunately most of their Cultural people are in New York, but I'm not going to let this stop me trying.

Tomorrow I'm going in to the Embassy to receive an exhibition with Xena from NY and then take the curator out to lunch. Because I've got to go to work tomorrow morning, this helps ease the pain of spending my Friday night with my laptop on my lap. I'm thinking I may head to Chinatown in the afternoon to find a wok and a teapot, and then to Georgetown on Sunday as this house clearly needs some better CDs to choose from. I'm technically on a spending freeze because I STILL haven't been paid due to HSBC taking their sweet time to open my account. But new pants my lure me to break that freeze.

To paraphrase my current favourite beer ads here in the States:

BOO for slow HSBC.
HOORAY for Anne comprising 100% of my readership

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Would You Like Some Painkillers With That, Sir?

Shock of the day:

Today they were handing out free samples of painkillers with takeaway coffee. Good lord. My mind cannot even begin to fathom the many levels of wrongness in that.

In other news, had a drink with my Brisbane contact after work today and her close friend who I met at our event and happens to be really fantastic fun and is going to give me a personal tour of where she works next week- which happens to be somewhere way cool.

Also, today I was booked in to a White House tour for the 19th of December. They don't really have tours ever since 9/11 but Embassies can arrange them (and Congress for Americans). I was technically added solely to make up the numbers, but I'm asked at least once daily whether I'd like to stay after Nov 3. At this stage- yes. How could I go back to ushering now? But I also know that things may change and I may hate it by October.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Orange Cheese

I don't care how tasty it may be, but I really can't cope with all the cheese in American being orange. I really can't. That shade is not in nature. On another note, god how I love Project Runway. I'm not in love with Kayne anymore, but am still quite smitten with Robert. I actually like most of the designers this time round, except for Keith because he seems to be a bit of a wanker, Angela for being an irritating hippie, Jeffrey for being Jeffrey AND having an obnoxious neck tattoo- and Vince because he's insane and not in a fun way but in a way that makes you think how much of a living hell it must be to have to live and work in the same space as him and his six personalities.

I think my Roomie's boyfriend is a bit over me. I don't really blame him. For however long he's been dating my Roomie he's been living in a group house so probably came here to get away from other people and just spend quality (and private) time with his boyfriend. Now, there's someone else here too. I'm optimistic though because the boyfriend is moving into his own place, a studio, at the end of the month so this might ease things a little- and will probably mean my Roomie will spend the odd night there too. Either that or I'm just reading far too much into things. I do want them to like me, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it as long as we remain convivial.

Then again, he may just be pissed because they can't have sex on the kitchen floor anymore.

Dogs and Teapots

Yesterday I had my official introduction to the Ambassador. We'd actually unofficially met in my first week, but this was the proper deal. We talked about dogs, my struggle to find a teapot and then we negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. It was very satisfying.

I am currently waiting for my groceries to be delivered. I will soon have pop-tarts in my possession.

My Embassy letter-writing skills are getting pretty l33t so that's a bit exciting for all concerned. I'm still disappointed that handguns aren't in the impulse buy section of CVS (a drugstore)... say next to the gum and the copies of People.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Miss Japan was Robbed!

Miss Puerto Rico, my ass.

Anyway, tonight my lovely vivacious co-worker and I went to a play at the Embassy of Canada (I had tried to schmooze freebies but they'd outsourced their ticketing to a third agent- bastards). The play was pretty nothing but one of the two actors was excellent, so it wasn't a complete waste. We then walked back to co-worker's place (quite a hike by this stage from Scott Circle to Canada then up to co-workers place) where her husband had cooked us dinner!

It was really pleasant (best word) sitting on their balcony demolishing a bottle of wine and shooting the shit. Walked home, shortly beating the Roomies who then arrived on the bikes glowing with good health (bastards!) and I realised that my roomie has significantly impressive pecs.

In work news, I didn't feel like I did much today but was busy with lots of tedious busywork like a mail out and things. Fingers busy, brain dead. Did get my first crazy mail though which was very exciting, albeit not a patch on what Public Affairs gets on a daily basis. But, baby steps.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

U Street

Yesterday I dragged myself to the National Gallery of Art and then to the Air & Space Museum across the Mall.

NGA was alright. I don't know. I wasn't really in the right mood. I was more attracted to the architecture of the two buildings than the art. There was nothing which really grabbed me- even the moneymakers like the Monets. I did like the Matisse cut-out room in the East Bldg though, mainly because it felt like a secret.

The Air & Space was horrid, and the less said about it the better.

I have come to the realisation that Americans don't do tea. I bought some hideously overpriced leaf tea at WF the other day only to realise that the house doesn't have a teapot (or a kettle for that matter, but I can boil water on the fancy stove quickly enough). I thought I'd try and find a teapot and also buy some thongs (or as these terrifyingly tea-deprived people call them 'flip-flops') so I headed out to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. And the cupboard was bare, bare, bare! I did get the thongs though, so it wasn't a complete waste of time (from lovely lovely Nordstroms though, note to the snotty young gay at the counter, up yours) but the only teapots were in the fine china department of Macy's, and even with my discount, I'm not about to spend $70 on a teapot for four months.

I have bummed quite beautifully today. I was sort of keeping the afternoon open as my lovely Brisbane contact is in town and staying with one of the mainstays of Public Affairs and there was a vague offer of drinks or lunch or something in the air. At any rate, it appears to have fallen through. For lunch I headed across to LUCKY CARRYOUT which is pretty ordinary Chinese food but the convienance factor of being across the street can't be stressed enough. So it'll probably win me over, despite sub-par cuisine. Also, I'm frightened of the staff. They have really aggressive conversations in Szechuan or something and it sounds like it will come to blows until the burst out laughing.

After my nap, I explored U Street a little more. There are some good looking restaurants to check out and I got my Maggie Moo's rewards card (DC equivalent to Cold Rock) though it looks more effort than it's worth... the only downer is the 7-11 doesn't sell the NY Times but you can't have everything.

Speaking of mild disappointments, the sausages I bought from WF tasted good but I have never seen such fatty sausages. As I was frying them, they were eventually wallowing in a pool of fat that actually made my health-conscious roomie go pale.

Miss Universe tonight. Am planning to commandeer the flat-screen TV.

Friday, July 21, 2006

New House Post!

I'm typing this from my new home!

I'm living in what will in a year or two be one of DC's trendiest areas- the U Street Corridor. About two blocks east is ghetto and I'm not allowed to go there but where I am, and between me and work, is pretty safe provided you've got your wits about you. It's about a fifteen minute walk to work, and if I'm crafty I can go via Whole Foods, and quite pleasant in the morning. Not as pleasant in the hot late afternoon or as pleasant I can imagine in snow. I also won't be doing it after dark, as Logan Circle, the midway point, is a bit of a mugging hotspot and Vermont probably isn't dangerous, but makes me feel unsettled in the afternoon as it is.

The house itself is amazing. It's a 2 storey row house, very close to the metro (which if it's pouring rain is an option to get to work- it is a bizarre route and otherwise inconvienant but undercover) and beautifully renovated and decorated by my roomie. I have my own amazing bedroom and adjacent bathroom with fab tiling. Downstairs is a huge open plan living room and kitchen. My roomie doesn't cook so it can be mostly mine too. So far we're getting along great, and we are both happy not to do the whole named-shelves thing. He eats out most nights with his boyfriend after the gym anyway. They are both disgustingly fit and healthy looking. Will it rub off on me? I doubt it. I have this plan just to cook and cook and stuff them with food. But they ride bikes and pump iron and probably have really energetic sex too, so I'm going to have to find a deep fryer of some description. The kitchen is amazingly equipped considering he doesn't cook.

Speaking of which, I bought some groceries at Whole Foods today. This was more of a celebratory treat nature in honour of my first grocery shop in DC as Whole Foods is very expensive (although as a foreigner I get 11% off at Macy's! Yay!). Leaf tea is prohibitively expensive here, and I have to say I was disappointed in WF's sausage selection. But I bought some gnocchi for tonight and found a yummy sauce... and have couscous for tomorrow night. They also do a good takeaway coffee for this country.

I was supposed to have a drink 'around 5' with the guys from FL. who are interning on the Hill. At any rate, around 5:40 they call and say they're still on the Hill but are leaving now. So I sit around at the Embassy a little longer and burn some photos on to CDs from last Thursday night and try and photocopy a page from the Washington Post (SURPRISINGLY difficult- their page size is not standard at all) and eventually at 6:20 I leave a message on one of their phones saying that I have other committments tonight (this, mainly, but I'm not ashamed of that) and if I haven't heard from them by 6:30 I have to leave and 'we'll work something out next week' (lies of course). I left at 6:30, a little unimpressed. God knows how they even got on the invite list in the first place (well actually it's not that hard to figure out- every Congressman and Senator gets invited and someone obviously just passed the invitation down the line) but dudes. Punctuality. Goes a long way.

My boss goes back to Australia this weekend for a few weeks, and we have some projects to occupy us- namely cataloguing the complete art collection of the Embassy and the Ambassador's house.

I really like it here- in the house, at the Embassy (despite the inertia of the job as we head into summer, but it will get better- I'm sure of that) and in DC.

I was thinking of applying for a job at UNESCO if I leave here in November. UN salaries are internationally tax-free and I'd really need to get fluent French (between rent and occasional WF splurges and my planned Labor Day weekend trip to NY I can't really afford them here) as UNESCO's languages are French and English, and they also prefer people who can speak Spanish/Chinese or Arabic as well.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm a Homeless Bum Now Mummy

I moved out of the Casa del Crackhouse and thanks to the miracles of Hotwire.com got into one of DC's finest hotels, a $500/night room for only $100/night. It was swell.

Only now I'm homeless. Last night I slept at the Social Secretary's place, and tonight I'm moving into the Visa Manager's condo. I'm typing this in a cafe at Dupont Circle and I feel fat, fat, fat. Where are the fat Americans I was promised? Everyone here is lean and buff. It may have something to do with this being so very very gay round here (as hinted by the address bar in Explorer- "www.google.com, www.hotmail.com, www.rentboy.com, www.manhunt.com" and so on.

Speaking of which, I looked at a room last night way out in Arlington. It would've been great had it been a bit closer to work (minimal PT). The two guys (one of whom would've been my room-mate) were this really pretty gay guys aged 23 and 25. They were cute in a pretty-young-gay sort of way. I don't think it would've worked.

There is this psycho lady in Woodley Park who has these amazing moodswings, apropos. She also has a room but leaves these wild voicemail messages on my work phone about how awful I am, then in the same breath asks me when I'm coming to see it. It's rather Woody Allen.

SPEAKING of Woody Allen (yet another segue), on Friday it was decided that my co-worker and I needed an Embassy Trip to New York! So I've been to New York! What a fabulous madhouse! I can't wait to see it properly in September. We had lunch with this incredibly wealthy Australian widow who is on the International Council of MoMA (pronounced momma, not Moe-mah, like I always thought it was) who is friends with people like Edward Albee. I want to be her when I grow up. The MoMA restaurant is like a Sex and the City set. I had olive oil icecream. We were intending to go to MoMA but the line was too long so we went to Tiffany's instead (but of course), before checking out this exhibition in TriBeCa which is coming to the Embassy in January. I also saw my first F-List celebrity: the creepy vampire guy with the fake British accent from Project Runway 3.

On Thursday night I worked my first event in DC- the opening of our Painted Stories- Contemporary Aboriginal Women's Art at the Embassy, along with a display by Cerrone Jewellers which included a million dollar necklace. I did good. Was pleased with myself. Didn't embarass myself or not recognise anyone I should've. Even made some friends- two guys from Florida doing an internship on the Hill. I actually thought they were a couple, but it turns out they were straight. Am going to have a drink with them during the week.

I tried doing touristy things today to lift myself out of the homeless doldrums I had last night (I think it was also related to the cute gay roommates getting ready for some crazy socialising whilst I was accompanied only by Austin Powers in an empty condo)- two Smithsonians- the Nat History (kinda neat) and the American History (kinda dull, but I'm not really their target market). The September 11 stuff was moving- a crumpled airphone from one of the planes and the flag that was draped over the burnt wall of the Pentagon on the 12th and so on. Also saw the White House- so go me. Anyway, the Smithsonians are wonderful and free so may they prosper forever.

Monday, July 10, 2006

DC Disjointed Ramblings

I was finally hit by the jet lag at 2am this morning so am a bit zonked, so this will be presented in non-sequential list format as I think of things.

1. The flights BNE-AKL-LAX then LGB-IAD were all fine. Air NZ has an alarmingly generous legroom in Economy- the most I've ever seen- and on demand video. One of the options was the Simpsons episode where Krusty fakes his own death to escape the IRS. In a fiery plane crash. So Air NZ edited out every single reference to the plane crash- I would've thought they'd just pick one of the other episodes. There was an empty seat beside me and a Mormon missionary flying back to Phoenix for a funeral from Tonga. Twelve hours in a confined space with a Mormon missionary doesn't exactly thrill me to the core, but she was very sweet and the perfect travelling companion and didn't do the hard sell until we landed, and even then it seemed like she was doing it out of obligation.

2. LA is totally, insanely mad.

3. Related to #2 is that because our only frame of reference for LA is film and tv you kinda are surprised to see it actually exists. Waiting for the shuttle at LAX I saw one of those meaty traffic cops on a huge bike and stacks of limos. I was agape. I was aghast. Met Risa and Tim, and had a fabulous (And surprisingly jet-lag free, ho ho ho) time seeing Santa Monica with its impressively wide streets and psychic kitties and then dinner before taking a drive to Sunset Blvd via the outskirts of Beverly Hills.

4. Tried to fly Jet Blue Long Beach-Washington but, hardy har har, my flight had been booked for Saturday. How terribly droll. So I Had to buy a new ticket, but happily was for the same flight anyway. Jet Blue is pretty neat, but the thought of my fifth flight in three days made me very depressed so I wasn't in a good mood for most of Sunday.

5. However my new boss surprised me at the airport and picked me up! This improved my mood considerably (That and the Project Runway marathon I watched on the flight) as I liked Washington immediately.

6. Mood soured again when I checked into the Braxton Hotel/Crackhouse. I'm actually quite nervous my laptop won't still be there when I return shortly.

7. Just looked at an apartment hoping to leave the Casa de Crack (there is a hole in the bathroom floor, and an alarming red stain on the bedsheets) but it was only slightly more cheering and a rip-off (nice location though).

8. My first day at the embassy today: I have a terrifying amount of security paperwork to fill in. And my computer wasn't connected so there was barely anything for me to do. I really like the environment though, and am looking forward to really working. I did get a voicemail message from someone with Commodore in their title, which thrilled me beyond measure.

9. Although today I have jetlag exhaustion, yesterday I had jet lag oafishness. For example: I lost count of the number of times I bumped into something and I also spent most of the day with my fly undone.

10. Today I discovered 'The Lockers'. The first is Australian foods like Tim-Tams and vegemite and the second is all this Australian Booze. By joining the Embassy social club, I get in on this. Whee!

11. It is not an original observation, but American TV is mad. It is ALL crap and all presented in this sort of urgent bubbliness, whether they're selling prostrate medications or home renovations or informing us about a brutal slaying on the streets of Georgetown this morning.

12. I went grocery shopping at 10pm last night. Sunday. It was packed. And this was the organic supermarket Whole Foods, which is absolutely brill (despite embassy staff calling it 'Whole Paycheck' they all swear by it as it is practically impossible to buy anything non-processed in Safeway). They do absolutely killer pre-made meals and sandwiches too. And the Donna Hay magazine is by the register.

13. In the throes of jet lag at 4am this morning I was channel-flicking and saw The Wiggles.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Adios, amigos

Am packed in freakishly record time, so think I must've forgotten something vital.

Oh well, not going to Siberia.

At any rate, I may post from LA if I can be so inspired/awake or maybe if you're really lucky there may be an Auckland Airport posting. Oh, the thrills and spills.

Otherwise, until DC chums.

Things I Have Achieved Today-

1. Booked a flight at four in the morning to Sydney
2. Caught said flight at 7:30am
3. Took train from Sydney Airport to US Consulate 9:20am-9:50am
4. Undertook the US Consulate Experience 9:50am-10:15am (bit like MBF but with less decor and more security)
5. Collected visa 10:20am
6. Took train from US Consulate to Sydney Airport 10:30am-10:55am
7. Bought flight from Sydney to Brisbane 11:05am
8. Flew to Brisbane. Supposed to be 1:05pm, but faulty radar meant it was actually 1:30pm
9. Arrive Brisbane at 2:45pm. Travel to Flight Centre
10. Arrive Flight Centre at 3:30pm. Book flights and buy insurance.
11. Arrive home at 5:10pm.

Things I Have Not Yet Achieved Today, But Must Very Shortly

1. Packed
2. Booked accommodation in LA
3. Booked accommodation in DC

I believe I'm currently in the quiet-sense-of-terror phase of this whole jaunt. I leave tomorrow, at 12:40pm on Air New Zealand to LA via Auckland. Thanks to the International Dateline (no matter how many times its described to me, it's still a damn mindtrip) I arrive in LA at the exact time I took off from Brisbane. Kooky!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So I Have a Visa...Sort of.

My visa is in Sydney. As you may notice, it is not yet 4am. DC called and suggested I fly down because it'll be quicker than waiting until middle of next week.

Plus I should be able to leave tomorrow.

Did you know that QANTAS bookings are open 24 hours a day? I was very surprised. So I'm flying down to the Consulate, picking up visa, and then booking a flight at the airport to come back as soon as my visa is in my hands.

Whilst this is all very exciting in the day-of-the-wedding sort of way, I do wish I was doing it on more than three hours sleep.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

This is My Frustrated Face


If I were Cherie Blair, this is what I would look like right now:

Kinda hoping I'll still get a Friday flight, but this is looking significantly less likely now.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Soul Survivor. Recognise.

Psycho Jade from America's Next Top Model 6 (LOVE IT, LOVE IT) has a MySpace! You can check it (and these are verbatim quotes) for her deep, intellectual sense of style that can only be understood by those with an opened source- of a 3rd eye power force. Jade was so wonderfully insane and quite the bitch but golly she was good television (and I'll grant if she weren't so old/nuts with her figure and face she may have had a career if the look at the moment wasn't thirteen year old twig-like Russians).

Soul Survivor


Monday, July 03, 2006

And I've been bitching about MY troubles

BAGHDAD, July 3 — Question: How do you get 15 layers of wedding cake with butter cream frosting through eight checkpoints and 45 minutes of snarled Baghdad traffic in 110 degree heat?

Answer: Hire Nadia Habib, wedding planner extraordinaire.

Wacky, but pleasingly touching, story from the NY Times- here

Oh dear god.

I decided I wasn't quite nerdy enough, so now I have a blog. At least its not a MySpace. This blog will do all sorts of crazy shit such as posting from the US. If I ever leave. Which is becoming doubtful, quite frankly.

Tentacles loves you too.