I'm A Legal Alien Now

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Goal Achieved!

One of my work-related goals is to receive a letter draft back from Dapper without any corrections. I don't make spelling or grammar mistakes, rather he has a very distinct style he prefers. It's actually a good thing, as my correspondence can be somewhat terse. Anyway, today I achieved this goal. I would have done a little victory dance, but I Am A Professional.

I'm flying up to New York tomorrow night for the long weekend, so am a bit excited about that. Actually, I'm a lot excited. Except many a photo.

Roomie and his boyfriend have gone to Provincetown for the long weekend, and I am home alone. This would be cause for celebration, but it is a Thursday night and I have to clean some clothes and pack. Oh, woe of the jetsetter.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

In the Trunk of our Car

Little Miss Sunshine is one of those rare movies that when it ends I could turn round and watch it all over again. Sheer. Brilliance. The script, the filming, the casting, the acting, the pacing. All brilliance.

I went to Needless Markup and bought some Diesel Jeans, this makes me feel a little dirty but they're oh so goddamn sexy and don't have any of that shitty faux-aging. Saks 5th Avenue Men's Store may become my favourite shop on earth when I can afford more of their merchandise more readily. Needless Markup would take this honour but for their unbelievable policy of not taking Visa or MC (in this day and age!!!). Also, I think the shop guy thought I was trying to shoplift. But then again, they get commission on sales so that may be more the case. I also coveted some Paul Smith baseball boots, but this is not a first.

Roomie and I are getting very chatty and I like it very much.

I have tim-tams in the fridge.

I made eyes with a cute guy on 14th street. I like to think he made eyes at me (I immediately starting working the accent for all it was worth). At any rate, it made me pleased.

I walked home with Xena from the movie (which we saw with her wonderfully dry Australian journo friend) and it was a beautiful evening and there were hardly any homeless on 14th we had to step over and/or suffer middle class guilt about.

I am very content right now.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Joy of Locker

Today did not have auspicious beginnings.

Firstly, I had been volunteered by Dapper to assist with the beer delivery to the Locker. The beer delivery is not, as the name may quaintly suggest, a few cartons of beer being dropped off at the loading dock but rather a full-sized shipping crate packed with slabs of beer from home. Luckily, I was not in the chain gang of the Armed Services lugging cartons, but instead on trolley duty of getting trolleys of beer from the dock to the Locker. I was really dreading it, being physical labour and all, but it was actually rather interesting and all rather oddly Australian in its own way.

Also, I had this nagging scratchy throat like the onset of a cold and all I really wanted were Butter Menthols which are not available in this country, and every throat drop here is cherry flavoured and thus tastes like Children's Panadol in an unpleasant way.

But then, lo!

A shipment of tim-tams is available in the Food Locker this afternoon! And Butter Menthols! How happy was I.

I am introducing Tim-Tams to the American populace- I saw my neighbour Miss Pearl on my way in the door and gave her one and am going to buy her two packs the next time some come in (there won't be any left for next Friday's locker, that's for sure).

Tomorrow I am going shopping at Friendship Heights for a light sweater to try and prevent goosebumps in this igloo. I must be strong and conserve my financial resources for New York next weekend and not be sucked into a hedonistic whirl of consumerism at Neiman Marcus (known as Needless Markup), Saks Fifth Avenue Mens' Store and then their heavily discounted brethren Filene's, Loehmann's and TJ Maxx. You know, I often made fun of Americans and their shopping habits but now that I'm here I can see what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

May the Glorious Nation of Canada Prosper Forever and Ever. God Save The Queen!

So today I did an informal tour of the exhibition for an informal group of Canadian cultural people and they brought me a lovely showbag of goodies but, most impressive of all, was that it had Tim-Tams, the greatest biscuit known to mankind and incredibly tricky to get outside of Australia.

Seriously the Embassy struggles to meet demand- in fact it barely manages and as such Tim-Tam shipment arrivals are so top secret I think their records are on a Forbidden Floor- so that the Canucks are giving them away almost made me cry in sheer delight.

So I hid them under my desk (leaving them in sight would be sheer lunacy) and the entire branch loved me all afternoon, but I think it was just for biscuits.

The Canadians though had thought ahead, and included a laser pointer in the showbag for me to defend myself. There are a few scarred retinas tonight I'd imagine. Plus everything says 'CanadianAlly' on it, so watch out people- mess with me, mess with Canada.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


So I was stood up again tonight.

Thing is I'm angry, but am struggling to have righteous anger as I have been without a cell phone for most of the day and he may very well have tried to contact me and change our arrangements for the third day in a row. But I did send out an SMS to people saying I no longer have a cell- use these numbers. But maybe he didn't get it.

See how many excuses I've made for him already?

I mean, maybe he tried to call me in the fifteen minutes at 5pm when I was in transit and uncontactable between work and home.

Or maybe when I thought we'd said seven, he thought we meant seven thirty.

Regardless, I do not stand outside a restaurant for forty minutes like a Nigel No-Friends for anyone, even if they are cute. So I've left a rather angry message on his phone (which wasn't being answered- ho, ho, ho) which went "As far as I'm aware, we were having dinner at 7 tonight. Well it's now almost 8. I'm prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you tried to call my cell phone, despite the message I sent out today. Or you tried to call me in the fifteen minutes between leaving my office and arriving home. If you have a good reason, I'm prepared to have another go. If not, I'd wouldn't be bothered returning this call. Thanks!". The 'thanks' was actually accidental. It's almost my standard telephone voicemail finisher, so it probably makes it sound a bit snarkier than I intended. Oh, and I forgot to give him my home number but he should be able to do the 'return this call' thing anyway.

What I don't get is why go to all the bother of giving a phone number, making plans and everything- twice- including rescheduling last night's rescheduled plans because you thought you'd be late- when you have no intention of following through? Hence why I will give him another shot, if he grovels or has a superb excuse.

And I think my Roomie is currently have sex, as if to rub it in.

Anyway, this is suppose to be a blog about wacky American cultural differences I encounter but I had to get that off my chest. So, today for dinner I had Quizno's. Subway: you are dead to me now.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Gummi Fingers

Today has been a very satisfying day, even though I did spend the entire afternoon putting invitations into envelopes and now no matter how many times I wash them, my fingers are all gummified and gross. And I can't shake the Seinfeld episode where thingy's wife to be dies of envelope gum poison because it's pretty much the only Seinfeld episode I know.

Yet I was occupied all day with various little tasks such as fobbing off requests in l33t letter style.

It was very pleasing mainly because I didn't have to ask anyone how to do anything.

Also I have a date tomorrow with a devastatingly cute young gentleman AND a drink later in the week with the fun girl I met at the art shipping thing last week. Social Contact AND Work Fulfilment. Very satisfying.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A disturbing new development...

I realised today that shopping has a dangerous potential to be my new weekends social-activity-replacement.

This is a dangerous and potentially expensive development.

I realised this afternoon as I discovered that the blocks on 14th Street between S and U Streets are very possibly going to become the next hot shopping strip in DC. 14th St down near P is already getting groovy (greatly aided by Whole Foods who- and I'm not making this up- are starting to make research papers due to their effect on uplifting urban areas, along with the rents) and so in a way it's only natural that the grooviness will extend up to the already burgeoning U Street.

In particular I am in love with three shops at the corner of 14 and S-

Pulp, which is gifts and stationary and how I Lusted after the Librarian Action Figure with real SHUSHING effect and immediately organised what I could post to various people for birthdays and such.

Next door is POP which is groovy clothing. I particularly like the ethos of only doing small orders so that when you buy an incredibly neat t-shirt you're not going to see three thousand other people in the same shirt next weekend.

Then there is Muleh which may as well be Moolah because it is an uber expensive Asiatic-inspired furniture and limited clothing ranges store in a former warehouse. It's all very chic. I coveted a red velvet jacket. It was only $120 which is quite reasonable for a jacket, but I have decided to hold off on major purchases until after New York. If I were furnishing a groovy row house on Q Street, I would shop here. There was some amazing furniture, the stuff of furniture porn.

Speaking of porn, the French clothing company SHAI have released their online catalog (note the new American spelling). It takes 'sex sells' to extreme new measures, and I cannot emphasise this enough, IS NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK. Don't let the link fool you, it really is a catalog

Now, it is nap time.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Does this mean I'm in a routine?

Nothing much of note happened during the week, that I can remember anyway. Things are starting to gear up for the next event, so I'll soon be back on familiar ground- I just hope I can do it all without having to ask Xena to prove that I can do things for myself.

Weekends kinda suck. There was Happy Hour at the Embassy tonight but I was a stupidhead and a) didn't think to RSVP and b) didn't really feel like it. I think I've always had some deep rooted suspicion of work-sponsored-socialising, but I am completely an idiot for not taking advantage of this because this is what expats do. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I did manage to join the social club today though, so I hereby swear unless I have another social engagement, I will attend the next Happy Hour regardless of what my feelings may be about the event itself. Besides, Sexy T was attending with lots of their sexy friends.

I made a friend at some drinks being thrown last night by an art handling company. Well I don't really know if I made a friend, but we bonded excessively over Project Runway (in particular the TRAVESTY of justice this week where Alison was auf'd instead of Vincent. TRAVESTY, and I intend to raise it with the Ambassador next week). I've been handing out business cards like candy recently, so I gave her one and we'll see what happens. I may also have a date this weekend- speaking of which, Xena I don't think has quite clicked to that I'm gay, which is odd considering she's spent her entire working life in the visual arts.

I need to find things to do on the weekend as when I'm left entirely to my own devices I don't really like the end result.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Miss Pearl

I just met my neighbour!

And I swear to god I'm not making this up, but her name is Miss Pearl and she's this round black woman missing a few teeth and she is so friendly and chatty. She's going to cook dinner for Roomie, boyfriend and me one day. Mind you, this could be a regular conversational topic yet to eventuate. But still I appreciate the gesture.

It was very exciting indeed.


I was supposed to have a date this afternoon, but they've become suspiciously uncontactable. I am far from amused but easy come, easy go.

I went into Dupont Circle largely because they have a great CD shop where I picked up like eight classical CDs for under $60- including the complete Figaro and Don. If I stay past November, I'm going to get some of my collection at home posted over. Buying CDs makes me feel like this is more permanent though, was strange. It's all a bit strange actually- I bought more work shirts and things. It's really as if I'm settling in the for the long haul here.

I also went to Blue Mercury for some new aftershave balm and unfortunately was served by the snooty and displeased girl as opposed to the girl with the amazing rack who I think very well may have once been a man. I'm not sure why I think this, and I may be besmirching some innocent girl's character but there's just something... masculine... about her and her rack cannot be entirely natural. She's actually quite sexy in an overly made-up sort of way.

I realised today that I have completely relaxed about tipping too. I had got a lot better over time, of course, but still got a wee bit concerned in certain situations but now I just give what I think it's worth- double the tax rounded to the nearest dollar. I've also worked out that if someone brings something to you, they get a tip. If however you go to them, they don't. Except hairdressers and bartenders. I've got bartenders down, but hairdressers I'm yet to experience.

Last night I hit a low of the sort I haven't hit yet, but am expecting more of. It was Saturday, the Roomie et al had been out since 9am and I was home alone. The internet was down too, so this meant I had to find other amusement. I went to a bar by myself for a bit but got bored. I really miss the ease of having an inbuilt social network. Xena I think understands, of course she understands she's already done this- but I don't want her to have to entertain me more than the five days a week at work because I don't think that's fair (though we do genuinely enjoy each other's company). Coincidentally, it was at this point in Europe when I was ready to go home, but that's entirely different as I had minimal prolonged social contact with anyone- here I'm at work with great people five days a week. Despite the rather unpleasant low, I still want to be here. I just would like everyone in Brisbane to be here also. Sort of. Maybe I just want them here for the weekends, which sounds mean but I can't explain it very well.

In more pleasant news, I discovered Travelocity's last minute deals feature the other day which will get me return flights from National to New York plus three nights in a four star hotel for under $800 on the Labor Day weekend in September. This has me very excited as it will mean I can also see The History Boys, Avenue Q and the Bodies Exhibition PLUS pay the $20 to get into MoMA and leave a nice donation for the Metropolitan.

This week will be the last of four where Xena and I have been missing a boss. I'll need to think of a nickname for him. It may very well be Dapper, since that is what he is to a tee. Xena thinks I'm going to be just like him, which is flattering.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Next on CNN, you WILL be BLOWN UP.

This week, I was finally broken by CNN (which plays non-stop at work).

With the whole British terror plot thing, CNN was practically wetting itself with excitement. In fact, it was 'BREAKING NEWS' all yesterday, which I feel somewhat defeats the purpose of being 'breaking news'. When there was the possibility that some flights had left London before the severe level was introduced, their reporters were creaming their pants that one of them MAY EXPLODE ANY MINUTE NOW over the Atlantic. It was sick.

However it reached an exciting new depth today when they had a snazzy computer 3D animation of what a civilian aircraft would like look if it was blown up by a liquid explosive. Quite frankly, I don't think they went far enough. The plane didn't have any people in it, so I feel I have not been informed at all. The absolute worst bit though is that CNN's slogan throughout this BREAKING NEWS over the past two days has been 'Know Facts. Not Fear'. Then they spend three hours, in between commercial breaks for prescription medicines, tell the public how the threat level is SEVERE and the aviation industry is going to COLLAPSE and this is what the explosion will look like.

I was becoming quite vexed during all of this. Quite vexed indeed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Photo Time!

This is the Santa Monica Pier. On the Sunday morning I was in Santa Monica I thought I should see something of the place before I got on yet another plane and flew on to Washington. It was about six thirty in the morning when I took this shot. Whilst I am glad I did make the effort to at least see some of the beach I was staying a block from, I probably would have been equally glad to get an extra hour of sleep.

This is New York. It seems strange that I have a New York photo before a Washington photo, but that's the way it is. This is looking up Broadway from Chelsea. Or maybe not. Actually I'm really not sure as I snapped it furiously as I was leaping into a cab with Xena as we thought we were going to miss our train back to DC (little did we know it was to be delayed by over an hour).

This is where I live now. Enough said.

On Sunday afternoon I was waiting here to meet Xena before seeing The Devil Wears Prada at the Georgetown AMC 14 (the movie was alright-book was better- and really dragged whenever La Streep went off screen). It was so daydreamesque pleasant. It wasn't too hot, there was breeze and as I'm a nerd you'll notice the plane in the top right corner coming into land at National, which is just beyond that bridge. The big white monolith is the Kennedy Center, where I plan to see some opera and, if I'm here in February, the Matthew Bourne dance version of Edward Scissorhands. There was even, out of shot, a guy dicking around on a guitar. As some will know, this has been known to induce me to violence but in this circumstance I even, god help me, gave him a buck.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Roofie Colada

I just went to a party!

On a roof!

At 11pm!

My Roomie + Boyfriend had to go a party tonight but they were so buggered from cycling out to Mt Vernon and back this arvo they didn't really want to go... but anyway, they asked me to go along with them. I didn't want to at first as a) I was a scaredy cat and b) I had a comprehensive plan of movies for the evening but in the end I told myself not to be such a wimp and tagged along. We didn't stay more than an hour since they were so tired but I had a really great time. I didn't use them as a crutch at all- within five minutes of arriving I was chatting to some American guy and his really pretty Irish friend.

Two things I notice:

1. Americans are great at parties because they're so forward. They have no qualms about marching up to a stranger, thrusting out a beer soaked hand and starting a conversation. The fact that I'm a novelty makes it all the better.

2. My confidence is getting a big boost. As I learnt tonight, I can walk into a cool party where I know no one, for all intents and purposes, and not stand forlornly at the drinks table waiting for someone to talk to me. I work at an Embassy, that's awesome. And, being a foreigner, it's always easy to find something to talk about.

Was starting to feel a bit glum that it was Saturday night and all my friends were in Australia (and was missing Jedda something bad this afternoon) but tonight made me feel a lot better.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I have a local!

Forget to post about the coffin outside the White House... some father has parked his ute on 16th with his son's coffin in the back, his son having been killed in Iraq. It's very powerful, considering that the media have been prohibited from showing the coffins coming back to the US from Iraq. Tourists were strolling along then were stopped suddenly in their tracks.

In happier news, I went to a gallery opening last night with Xena. Graduation works, so there was quite a bit of crap but a few really sensational pieces too. Afterwards we went to what will become my new watering hole- Local 16. It's this old pub that has an open roof deck. Last night was such a beautiful evening, we drank up there before heading back to her place where her husband cooked us dinner and we continued drinking on their amazing roof terrace- with views of the monument and the Capitol dome and the skyline of Rosslyn and so on.

Was exceedingly pleasant.

Now, I do laundry then work out what I will do today.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I went to the opening of a Japanese Cultural function tonight. It was alright, but I met some of their people so that made me feel like part of the demanding machine known as Cultural Relations. They seem really nice, and I was impressed that I knew the complicated Japanese business card exchange Tango.

After the lecture, their manager came back to the microphone and thanked the artist then mentioned the reception outside and before she'd finished the word 'reception' half the audience (the Americans, I'm ashamed to say) had bolted out and by the time I'd politely waited til she'd finished and made my way at a dignified pace towards the food there was, and there is no other phrase for it, a feeding frenzy at the sushi table. People were waddling away with plates piled five or six high with sushi. I'm surprised no one lost an eye due to chopstick prodding.

The heatwave is apparently going to begin to die tonight- tomorrow will be a mere 33C as opposed to today's 41C. The real problem is the power grid can't cope and we've lost power three nights in a row now. But weird brownouts- one night everything upstairs carked it, then on Tuesday night my fan worked but nothing else did then last night Roomie's fan worked and nothing else did (happily though the blackout waited until after Project Runway). It is so foul without air-con. So. Foul. I don't even know how to open my windows, not that it would change anything because it's so still and I look on to an alleyway. All last night I kept waking up drenched in sweat, sprawled across my bed.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Vermontian Rodents

HSBC have finally deemed me worthy of receiving one of their checking accounts. Sort of. I had to speak to the British Embassy (why????) and pretty much use my sternest OPTUS VOICE in every telephonic communication and so on. But even so, it will take days for my actual card/checks to arrive AND then I need to sit around and wait to be paid so there is actually something to withdraw.

It's going to make things a wee bit tight.

And I owe rent.

We're now in an official HEAT EMERGENCY as the temperature gets in the high 30's/100's with an incredibly oppressive humidity that makes it feel like you're walking through clear soup.

However two things that are neat:

Ben and Jerry's Icecream