Episode 24: Rules and Mirrors

A study of stuff.

A study of stuff.

Monday, January 5th at 7:23am:

Location: Diane’s jr. one bedroom apartment, Capitol Hill

Scene:  Diane getting ready in her bedroom.

Today was my first day at the new job. From what I noticed during my interview for the most part everyone at the James Consulting wore DC conservative chic. You know the A-line skirt with the V-neck cashmere sweater, hair in a ponytail with Steve Madden leopard print pumps or Tory Burch flats. Some may take it up a notch with a few David Yurman pieces but that puts them more towards the conservative, in my view. Those leaning more towards chic usually opt for statement accessories from one of the local boutiques like Hu Shoes in Georgetown. Of course, there were also the “I don’t care” or the “I am just here to work and be out” folks but it would be too stressful to focus on them right now.  I had been thinking of my first day wear for the last two weeks while also keeping the three first day rules in mind. And right now first and foremost on my mind was rule number one – figure out the office uniform and take it up a notch.

I have never been a mold girl and to be honest, with my short pixie haircut, I would not be rocking a ponytail anyway and I am firmly on the anti-weave brigade. Cindi and I agreed that my choice should be a scoop necked, gray sheath from Zara which hugged the hips but not enough for others to question if my aim was to turn tricks on K Street rather than cut deals.  I was also planning to wear my black patent leather Michael Kors classic open toe pumps and my trusty Swarovski cocktail ring. Yes, it was cold outside but what are cabs for if not to save you when you make a winter shoe faux pas.

I was ready.

Monday, January 5th at 8:55am:

Location: James Consulting, 20th and K Street

Scene:  Reception area on the fourth floor.

“Hey lady, good luck!” Jaz texted me as I exited the cab.

“Thanks Darling!” I typed right before walking into the building. Thankfully, I looked up before smashing into the glass doors. It would not be cool to embarrass myself on the first day. I walked into the office and greeted Anna, the receptionist.  

Which leads me to rule number two – always be nice to the receptionist even if you are no longer interviewing. You don’t want to hang out at her desk gossiping but you most certainly don’t want her slinging dirt about you to others.

“Hi Anna, how are you doing?” pause so she can respond.

“Can you please tell Margaret Vandercraft that I am here?”  According to my schedule Margaret was supposed to give me a tour of the office and then I had nothing to do until my 11am session with the folks at HR.  I sat in one of the brown toile decorated guest armchairs grabbing the daily Washington Post – the Obamas were of course one of the topics covered on the front page.  I can’t believe they are really here in the city. “By the way Anna” I continued, “that shirt is such a great color on you.” I said looking up at her with a lovely smile after she noted that Margaret would be soon on her way.

“Thank you! I’ve been eyeing your shoes since you walked in. They are simply divine.” At that moment Margaret entered the room wearing her navy blue take on the DC conservative chic on her 6’1” frame. Only she wore a clean blonde ponytail with diamond stud earrings and grey 4 inch pumps. She looked beyond chic and did not even have on any statement accessories. Out goes my theory.

“Hi Diane, you look lovely today. How was your commute?” Margaret said formally with a well polished air that surprisingly I could not read.  As we walked down the hall, she turned and gave me a toothless smile, “here is the pantry and across the hall is the main conference room. We have 9am meetings every Tuesday in this room.  Bob likes everyone to be on time.”   

We walked by Bob’s office on our way to mine and he was in so we decided to say hi.  Margaret started, “hi Bob. I’m taking Diane around and I should be able to stop by to talk about the Sturn report in about 30 minutes. By the way, it was great seeing you at the Hudson’s New Year’s Eve party.”

“Yes the party was great. I can’t wait for the next one. I had quite a good talk with your guy Dan.  By the way, Diane welcome aboard. Maggie we’ll talk later.” And with a smile he waived us off.

Well at least his demeanor was a step up from Jerry my last boss.

“Oh by the way I forgot to mention that everyone I work with calls me Maggie. You should too.” Maggie mentioned when we turned the corner.

I knew from her tone that it was not a suggestion but a request. Walking, listening and sizing up Maggie had now pre-occupied my thoughts. After Maggie led me to my office, I asked “are you available for lunch today? It would be nice to meet and talk especially since we will probably be working on some projects together.”

“Hmmm…not sure. If my meeting with Bob does not last too long I’ll see if I can schedule some time with you. Are you sure you want to head outside for lunch? Your toes might get cold.”

And with that she was on her way.

Hmmmm…rule number three was now in effect – get to know the competition and find out how she works the game. I did not think I would have to use this rule after my experience at my previous job but I believe I just found the competition.


Episode 19: Straightened Hair and Sticky Fingers

Capitol Hill - A Study of 2nd and D St., NE

Capitol Hill - A Study of 2nd and D St., NE

Saturday, November 22nd at 3:14pm:

Location: Bubbles Hair Salon, Capitol Hill

Scene: Jaz and Diane are getting their hair washed and blown out.


Cindi and I decided that she would take over the logistics of Jaz’s surprise birthday party and I would handle keeping Jaz distracted throughout the day. We had decided to hold the event tonight at Station 9 on 15th and U St., NW.


“So, birthday girl do you want curls or do you want your hair blown out straight?” Rogers the hairstylist asked Jaz while leaning over her from behind playing with her freshly washed hair, red lollipop as usual firmly stuck in his mouth.


“Hmmm…actually I haven’t worn it straight in awhile. Let’s try that.” Jaz hesitated for awhile before making up her mind.


Looking over from the nearby chair of my stylist, I noted “hey lady, I think that’s a good choice.”  I walked over to watch Rogers in action grabbing a Tootsie Roll from his permanently stocked candy bowl. For months Jaz had been talking about wearing her hair straight for a change of pace, however, although she thought her curly do was a bit boring, she usually kept the same look because it was more wash and go and did not entail having to take time out of her schedule to go to the hair salon.


“I was thinking a straight look would go well with the v-neck Nina mini dress I just bought from the Unsung Designers online boutique. I can’t wait to go to the concert tonight. It’s the perfect birthday gift. I just hope Cindi having to go to work today will not mean that she might have to cancel tonight.  I haven’t been able to reach her all day.” she explained as Rogers started applying the styling lotion.

 Bubbles in the rain.

“Honey, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?” Rogers asked grabbing another candy from the jar.


“Hmmm…well. I will be thirty years old on Monday.” Jaz said in what seemed like a self affirmation evident in the deep breath she took half-way through her response.


“Only thirty…you don’t look a day over twenty-five and I mean it,” Rogers complimented her right before he started blow drying her hair.


“Thanks Rogers! You keep talking to me like that and I just might become a regular client.” Jaz proclaimed while unexpectedly leaning over to grab a red lollipop.


In a whirlwind, Rogers swiftly smacked her on the wrist, admonishing “the red ones are mine love, but you are welcome to any of the other colors, thank you!” And with that he continued working and she looked at me in shock while I laughed uncontrollably. I could so see Rogers do the same to his two children. I think Jaz will see this as a reason to never stray from her healthy diet again!


Saturday, November 22nd at 6:14pm:

Location: Diane’s apartment, Capitol Hill

Scene: Jaz and Diane getting ready for a night out. Jaz still does not know what is happening.


“Cindi just sent me a text saying she is running late. Do you want to meet her at Station 9 before the concert to grab a drink and some appetizers before heading to the show?” I was still trying to play it cool. Jaz was still in the dark about the birthday events…and come to think of it, so was I.  Hmmm… Cindi is known to go overboard while party planning so it will be interesting to see how things turn out. Hopefully, there won’t be any piñatas! Jaz’s mom, dad and brother were also in town for the party and had been helping Cindi all day long.

 I saw the sign.

“Sounds like a plan. I love their appetizers. What time is the concert again?” she asked admiring her hair in the full length mirror in my bedroom.


“It should start at 10pm. You should wear your hair straight more often! It looks absolutely divine on you and brings out your bone structure,” I said noticing how she looked amazingly polished. “Crap! I can’t believe this!” I spilled the strawberry jam on my new shirt!


Giggling, Jaz noted, “it never ceases to amaze me how without fail you are either causing an accident or stepping into one.”


“Hmmm!” was all I could muster in response as I tried to remove the sticky and quickly settling stain.


Saturday, November 22nd at 8:15pm:

Location: Station 9, 15th and U St.

Scene: Party goers already assembled and waiting for Jaz’s appearance at her surprise party.


“Diane, I can’t believe you were intent on stopping at the gas station for gum. You know how Cindi is a stickler for time!” Jaz was annoyed at how long it took me to get the gum from the store, but unbeknownst to her I had to stall for a minute. Cindi needed some extra time because unfortunately Jaz’s mom had taken too long getting ready. Oh the irony.


“Sorry Darling…well we are here now and it’s your birthday so you’ve got to cheer up!” I said trying to sound chipper. “Oh, since we are just here for appetizers and drinks Cindi mentioned that she would just wait for us upstairs where it’s more lounge-like.”  I inhaled.


“Ok.” She followed me up the stairs.


“Surprise!!!” The entire room of about 50 friends and family erupted as we walked in the room.


Jaz’s hands went up to her mouth in genuine shock and delight as she ran over and hugged her mom and dad and then Cindi and me. Mission accomplished and more importantly lots of streamers, balloons, party favors, a yummy looking chocolate cake from the Sticky Fingers vegan bakery and thankfully no piñatas!

Episode 17: Bedridden


Wednesday, November 5th at 11:03am:

Location: Diane’s bedroom, Capitol Hill

Scene: In violet floral Victoria’s Secret flannel pajamas under goose down comforter watching CNN


“Hi Dad, can you believe he won?! I am so excited. This is the best day ever. Thank goodness I requested to take today off in advance. I don’t think I would’ve been able to get anything done if I were at work today.” I said as I answered the phone on the first ring. Yawning and smiling I stretched in between glances at the television.  I got home at 2am from an election night party but had not been able to sleep until three o’clock in the morning only to wake up at 7:30am with the incessant urge to pinch myself as a reality check.


“Yes Dear. This is great news! We could not stop dancing in circles around the living room. Carmela was even crying when the results came in.” he explained and I nodded. I was almost about to tear up again from just the mention of crying.  “I can’t believe you are up already. I almost expected to get your voicemail.  Carmela and I are heading to brunch with the Watsons in a few minutes, so I thought I would give you a quick call. How is the job search coming along?” He finished as I heard Carmela, my stepmother of three years asking him which coat he was going to wear. 


Dancing in circles around the living room? Ha! I would have to see that with my own eyes.


“Everything is great dad. Wow! You never dance. What’s up with that? I think I may be starting a new job soon. The few interviews I had last week went pretty well, so even with the economy the way it is I still hope to expect an offer as a policy manager at a firm downtown which would be great! Also, I’ll probably send you my Thanksgiving flight information in a few weeks.”


“That’s what I forgot! Speaking of which, Jack and Sam will be here this year instead of at their fathers so for the first time there will be more than just the three of us. Well, talk to you later.” And with that he was gone.


I cannot believe that my two step brothers were coming over for Thanksgiving. They were just two college frat boys who played football and had half the IQ of a peanut each. We had nothing in common by way of either age or personalities. They were loud and annoying. How many times would I have to throw out their smelly underwear from the bathroom? Yup, my flight home just went from a four day to two day trip.


Wednesday, November 5th at 11:33am:

Location: Diane’s bedroom, Capitol Hill

Scene: Still in flannel pajamas under goose down comforter watching CNN


“Hey Darling, can’t believe you are at work?” I had decided to give Cindi a call at work after my quick nap post discussion with dad.

 “Work really is not happening today even though it’s still business as usual here. Did you all have fun after I left? It was getting too crammed for me and I wanted the luxury of flipping through the channels at whim or just relaxing. Thank goodness too. I saw the huge crowds on television.” Cindi mentioned as I recalled one guy stepping on my feet which conjured a feeling and image enough to concur that too many people were out last night.

“Darling, I hear what you are saying and I also know your dislike of random bodies getting too close, but you’ve got to live in the moment.” I reminded her.

”Yeah, yeah, yeah! And with that I am heading back to my research. Aidan is stopping by soon for a quick meeting.” She noted.

“Hmmm…and hopeful there will be no quick anything else!” I yelled in the phone before she hung up.


Wednesday, November 5th at 12:14pm:

Location: Diane’s bedroom, Capitol Hill

Scene: Eating delivered Chinese food while still in flannel pajamas under goose down comforter finally sick of watching CNN


“Hey Darling haven’t seen you in a while. stop by before you head to the restaurant.” I said shamelessly calling Chris.  Why not? I was free and single, he was free and single and I knew what to expect…fun and no chance of a relationship.

“Hey Love, I’m actually on 12th and Pennsylvania. I’ll swing by your place in five minutes.” He said.  Love that voice.

“Darn!” I only had three minutes to get rid of the taste of the Chinese food on my breath, the smell from my place since he does not like and to shower.

“Ding dong. Ding dong.” I answer the door.

“Hi Darling!” Replaced flannel pajamas with Victoria’s Secret’s Sexy Little Things lace up thongs and push up bra…my 32As needed all the help they can get.