I just can’t get over it. There has been a plane missing for twelve days. And that last blip of the radar has been heard around the world.
I know random world events aren’t my usual cup of tea on here, but it can’t be helped. And after reading articles from all over the communicationsphere, I’m profoundly freaked out. First there was a missing plane with no distress signal, sign of bad weather, or mechanical trouble. Then some mention of debris in the Pacific. Now the media has latched onto the eerie lack of passengers’ cell phone activity. The fact-proven details of the flight are few: on March 8th, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, with 239 lives on board, lost contact. The plane took off east towards Beijing, the transponder was turned off, the plane was then tracked completely changing course, and eventually was lost even to military radar over the Indian Ocean. But the question still bouncing around my head was one of the first, “Why did the transponder stop transmitting?”
An unsettling query with only a few answers, the most common being a hijacking. Which, considering the alternative of a Lost-esque crash on a magically moving island-creature-afterlife deal, seems frighteningly likely. I could wax paranoid for hours of conspiracy theorizing, but CNN is the one paid to do that. So I’ll move on. What I would like to know instead, dearest FAA and all post-9/11 flight codemakers, is this: not why, but how is it POSSIBLE for a transmitter to stop working? Not meteorites, engine explosion, or someone actually turning it off– I mean how is it that the transmitters were constructed in a way that allows them to ever turn off in the first place?
My new housemate’s phone was stolen when she was moving her stuff in this past weekend. After spending the day refreshing Verizon’s GPS Locator page, she was at her wits’ end. I thought the entire point of having GPS technology in my phone was for this exact reason. If some delinquent jacks my phone, I want to be able to lojack their ass. My house was once broken into, and the cops eventually found the kid by tracing the IP address of the stolen X-Box he was playing. So how can the Apple Geniuses not turn on an internal GPS trigger and find my roommate’s phone? Answer: the doorstop who stole it just turned off her phone. Next question: why hasn’t Apple created a GPS locator that intrinsically cannot be disabled by hooligans simply turning it off?
In a much grander and critical scale, how can it be that a Boeing 777 with hundreds of lives on board has disappeared? This isn’t 1937, and science has come a long way since Amelia and her Lockheed Electra went missing. If we had the technology for my mom to track me down via cellphone GPS at a high school party ten years ago, then the joined forces of global intelligence– the CIA, NSA, Interpol, Chinese intelligence, and God knows what other cloak-and-dagger shit that goes on out there– should be able to locate one rather large plane.
Apparently we missed the lesson with Flight 447. It has been five years since they went down in the first “mysterious tragedy”, à la Titanic hubris. Yet, we still did not adjust and figure a better way to track our metal birds. Do you know how far technology has come just in the past decade? The iPad was invented, with a new one each year. The iPhone 4, now -5, birthed Siri. Our phones tell jokes. Google is taking us further into Jetsons’ territory with their driverless car and Google Glass, a undeniably disturbing-yet-incredible spyware eyewear that Googles someone you look at by facial recognition. In 2009, as Flight 447 crashed, the NSA was kick starting a new program: developing the ability to record every cell phone conversation in a country for an entire month. As of yesterday, reports claim success. And as of today, the fates of 239 people on Flight 370 are still a mystery. You would think Apple, Google, or the NSA would have spent one day configuring a solution to losing an entire plane. Maybe hidden ones even the pilots cannot find and disable?
But they haven’t. When I look into the post-9/11 flight regulations and practices, they are mostly human-threat-based. Sky marshalls, TSA monsters, and no-fly lists. Invasive body searches toeing borderline rape. I remember the conversation on the black box location and security, and reinforced cockpits. So, in an age where we can pick up a phone to call the other side of the world, tin boxes orbiting space, and 20,000 leagues under the sea, I do have one answer. It hasn’t occurred to anyone to install GPS locators in every single plane as a regulation safety standard.
The biggest difference between Flights 447 and 370 is that one simply crashed. If today’s reports of debris turn out true, and MH370 crashed as well, there is still the matter of human action to turn off the transponder and turn the plane completely around. What this says to me: even if MH370 crashed somewhere, it offers a new option to terrorists. The fear is building and conspiracy theories run rampant. My friend Sally thinks it’s the North Koreans, and Abigail keeps talking about episodes of 24. Junior just gets quiet. Paranoia abounds. There were a lot of changes made, once 9/11 introduced the concept of weaponized planes. Is this the next step? Are we being introduced to an even deeper level of plane weaponization? Up until now, it has only occurred to us that, if a plane were hijacked for terroristic purposes, then naturally it would be used immediately while in-air. Because it would be impossible for terrorists to steal an entire damn plane to literally “save for later”. Right?
Regardless of the plot, this story has a sad ending. If it eventually comes to light that Flight 370 has been lost at sea, it is already sure to be mourned worldwide. Loved ones and strangers alike have flooded Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and the blogosphere with their keening cries. Even if we never learn of their fate, 239 people have disappeared from their lives, families, and world. Frightfully, without a trace more than a last radar blip, the world wonders for lack of answers. We are left in a void of mystery, like many tragedies throughout time, asking ‘why?’, ‘what happened?’, ‘where are you?’ The only record in place of goodbye is the last transmission from the co-pilot, before the transponder was switched off: “All right, good night.”
What I would like to end with is not a question, but a command. To the combined scientific and intelligence communities: get your shit together. Stop creating another damn smartphone or bomb for one day– one single day– and figure out the how, where, and what of GPS locators on every plane. Chat with the FAA and airlines, they’ll be down with this. Work together; please. We have thousands of people hurtling through the air in tin cans every second; how about we make it so their families can properly grieve, in case one fails. Or worse, for when the really bad guys are one day as smart as you and start stealing them.
There’s that old saying about which is thicker, and therefore deserves the ultimate loyalty. (One is decidedly more drinkable; please don’t test it.)
But I learned from a Cracked article [where I learn most of my baller/ meaningless trivia] that the proverb’s been twisted. It doesn’t refer to your biological family like we think these days– it means the one you picked. Blood, as in blood-oaths and war; water, as in of-the-womb relatives. In short: your buddies are better than genetics, because you actually CHOSE them. You love family because you have to; you love your friends because you want to. And life is a fucking battle, so choose wisely who has your back.
I’ve always said something similar: one of the greatest things about growing up is this ability to choose your family. Because that’s who your friends become. The further away from the biological you move and grow, the more you turn to the surrogates in your life. The girlfriends who build a new sisterhood. The guy who steps in as an older brother, to roughhouse and/or protect you. A boss with those mystical parental powers of approval and judgement. On a very basic level, the majority of us will always have some makeshift family dynamic in our day-to-day lives. Whether you find them in the workplace or social circles (or both), the family dynamic is inescapable and omnipotent. It shapes your life.
As kids, friendships are forged mostly by default. You’re the same age, in the same class, seated next to each other alphabetically, or managed to have the same Ninja Turtles backpack. In high school, you shared the same athletic/academic/artistic talent (or mutual lackthereof), and were in the same clique. And college isn’t much different. Majors stick together, and dorm-mates bond. But out here in the real world? It can be harder as adults to find your family.
Freshly pushed from the collegiate nest, we wander like hatchlings [read: idiots] around our new adult lives for a while crying “Are you my mother?” Think about it. For those of you who moved to DC without a support system– and knowing this city, it’s a large majority of us– there was a deep part of you starving for that close-as-blood connection. Some of us turn to classes or clubs to find it within similar interests (fuck bocce ball; but hashing is a “Jules Approved Activity”). Others simply go to a bar to meet people (arguably a similar interest, to those of us alcoholically-minded). Nearly everyone throws themselves into work until life figures itself out.
I don’t know what it’s like to move here without a single friend. Two of my best, Otoño and Sally, were already here. And that was hard enough! But between work and play, I found a few family trees to graft on to. My Restaurant the first year adopted me into a polyglot family spanning over a dozen global cultures. I had a fierce bunch of aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters, all making sure I ate enough food and had the hugs needed to keep spirits up. Team United Nations pulled me into the wild world of clubs, DJs, and partying the sun to rise. Josef and the Roomies fill in as older brothers keeping me in touch with the art world.
And now, My Bar serves as home base. With a majority of the staff fighting in the DC job market, yet taking pride in Industry life, we understand each other on a very real level. In addition to our “Sunday is Coming” tradition, which kicked off to an awesome start on Easter, we typically meet on Mondays. The Pinch, our friendly neighborhood dive, has made Mondays their Industry Night– meaning certain astronomical specials for those in the know. The rest of the week, we knock off work and set up camp at the corner table at Wonderland Ballroom, where similar benefits are ensured. We take full advantage of industry connections, and have established strong familial ties between our bars.
With that said, sometimes there’s nothing like your literal family. Junior visited with Abigail only once since Inauguration, and it almost felt like a tease because I had to work all weekend. Last week was Fabala’s spring break from high school, and it nearly broke my heart that a visit fell through. On top of it all, my dad was in the hospital for a fair bit (he’ll be alright, but a reoccurring worry). I had to work so much that I still haven’t gotten to pop home and see him. I’m currently the only veteran server at My Bar, and responsibility lays heavy.
The one thing keeping me going: I did get to visit Big Bro up in Philly a month ago; it was ridiculously awesome. He toured me around his favorite bars and restaurants, hopping from one bangin brewery to another craft cocktail bar. He works at one of Starr’s places, the Dandelion, where even their TOAST will make your mouth orgasm. I now have both a new favorite beer and drink– Triumph Brewery‘s Scotch Ale and Continental Midtown‘s ‘Blood and Sand’, a blood orange and scotch drink. I love DC and everything in it, but Philly’s mind-blowing food and drink culture reminded me why I almost moved there or NYC. [No worries, I don’t regret my decision.] One of the greatest things I left my visit with, though, was a strong calm with being an industry worker. Philly is such a great blue-collar-creative environment, and seeing everyone’s pride in their restaurants gave me a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in DC. So thanks to Big Bro, his lady, and all those goobers for the heaps of Brotherly Love.
Which I soon have the chance to return. Junior and Abigail are talking about visiting next weekend. The week after is Big Bro’s and my group of friends’ huge family reunion concert in Philly with our boys, The Heavy Pets (definitely check them out). A month later, the Phillies come down to play the Nats, which ensures a whole bundle of crazy along with it. Then Jules Junior, my pride and joy, graduates from university and officially begins the permanent move back to Our Nation’s Capital! In between all the Clan Jules activities, you can be sure there will be a pile of trouble with my District Family. Because life is best when you have a bunch of love from all corners. Stay tuned.
And because I can’t let the opportunity go to introduce you, this is from last year’s show:
Happy MLK-Obama Day!
Ooooh, I’m excited enough to burst. Two of my favoritest people in the world are renewing their vows this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier! Barry and Joe have been together for four years, and what a whirlwind their relationship has stirred. They’ve had their ups and downs, but in the end, the struggles made their bond stronger. And as a girl with starry eyes for Biden [literally] since birth, it makes me proud to see him with a worthy partner. In addition to Jill, of course.
Everyone knows you never forget your first time, and this is mine. Though the last time around was my first chance to vote [and what a vote!], I was still at university and couldn’t come down for the celebration. [I heard it was cold, did any of you die?] So I’m not missing my second chance!
Which means it’s going to be a long weekend. The housemates all have friends in town, so the Clubhouse will be at full capacity. Jules Junior, Fabala, and Abigail are trekking down from the Motherland for the occasion. And it’s Fabala’s birthday to boot! Friday, I will be working. But only because my friend’s band, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, will be playing and I adore them. Saturday morning, the Brunch Bartender Extraordinaire will be serving hangover cures and love until five, and then switching over to serve a few more hours. Then I’ll be off for the event I’m excited for…
SATURDAY NIGHT: The Shitkicker’s Ball So. Stoked. I love the Looking Glass Lounge any day of the week, but this is a whole new experience. Want to join? I’m not even going to paraphrase the description.
From the big man behind it all, “Shitkicking is about starting dance parties where even the fucking dudes who wear tucked in shirts and try to hit on women using their LinkedIn accounts wind up breaking out the funky chicken; and when everybody shares not just phone numbers, but sacred family recipes from the old country for drunk food… Shitkicking is about standing up for the people that nobody gives a fuck about in this town. It’s about staying in the kitchen because you love the goddamn heat. As Omar put it in the Wire “How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”
Now THAT is my version of an Inaugural Ball! I’d wonder what to wear, but they are pretty explicit.
For the rest of the weekend, the Clubhouse will be an explosion of madness. Literally and figuratively. I’m taking advantage of all the people, and will be cooking on Sunday. So many things to celebrate! Barry and Joe’s vow renewal, my sister’s birthday, MLK’s memory, surviving the Mayan Apocalypse, being awesome people in general… You know how much I love celebrations. Specialty cocktails will be made. Food will be consumed. Bonfires, firecrackers, and sparklers will ABSOLUTELY be involved. And all done in time to wake up at the crack-of-death 5 a.m., in time to catch the metro and beat some of the crowd for space near speakers on the Mall. What are the chances Park Police would confiscate thermoses? Because I’d survive much happier with a lot more Irish than coffee in my system…
INAUGURATION: [better details]
5 a.m. Wake up, throw coffee in our faces, and race to the metro. Time subject to change.
11:30 Vow renewal, on the steps of Our Nation’s Capitol. From a view of a million feet, back in the nosebleed section. Likely will be hugging a jumbotron for warmth somewhere back near the Washington Monument. Did anyone else see that Kelly Clarkson is singing? Lame.
2:30 Ba-Rocking Parade! Unsure of my attendance. Might physically require sustenance by this point, and belligerently demand alcohol. Return to Columbia Heights imminent.
MONDAY NIGHT: TBD. So many options, so little of me to go around. Did you know that, for the mere price of a quarter of my rent, you could go to an official Inaugural Ball? Yea, that’s one of the reasons why these might be better. [For a full list of all bars open until 4am on Inauguration, check out my friend at Guest of a Guest.] Madam’s, R&R Hotel, El Centro, and more will be Ba-rocking the body republic all night, and I plan on fulfilling my civic duty.
Where will you be celebrating this grand weekend?
One day, I received a text from my sister saying, “My friend’s pet rabbit ran away!!!”
Naturally, I empathetically responded, “Oh no! They need help looking for it?”
“Nope. Now it’s just some bunny that I used to know.”
So in case you were wondering, these are the types of shenanigans White House Interns get up to during the day– texting siblings ridiculous jokes and emailing each other songs on their closed network. Yes, folks. Now that she’s finished her program, I can out Jules Junior and her bestie Abigail as having been overworked and unpaid grunts down at the President’s house. [They of course loved it and can’t wait to come back.]
Between starting at a new restaurant [anyone like low country BBQ?], knuckling down with the real-job search, miraculously scraping together rent, and sending my sister back to the motherland after the end of her Capital Tour…. it’s been a long two months. I tried writing several times, honest! But, I apologize; either I passed out from sheer exhaustion or simply haven’t had it in me to update. Much has changed, so it’s been a contemplative time.
August is a great time of Exodus in DC. Mini-Me and her fellow W.H.interns returned to their universities, more clueless munchkins replace them, and Congress reconvened [after each side finished their respective Convention circuses]. My teacher-friends are now cracking the whip on a new batch of deviants, and those still learning things went back to classes.
On a more personal note, one of my best friends here left to join her husband in a far-away South American land. Otoño has been my rock since moving to DC, helping me to carve out a solid home out of this transient place, and always my natural go-to comfort for professional and romantic woes. I have been utterly desolate without her– consolation via brownies would be welcome.
September was about getting my shit together. I’ve no problem admitting I was hurting a bit. My sister’s gone, my best friend moved, and I was coming off a romantic roller-coaster that jerked me around a bit too much [hereafter known as the Mistake]. It was a hectic time, and I threw myself into overtime at the restaurant. [Added bonus: more-than-rent income!] In my book, the best way to re-motivate socially is to focus in on awesome friends and fun activities. So I explored several major DC-centric events [details to come].
But my greatest revelation: I am no longer interested in transition. No more of this “just for now” nonsense. Gone are the times of only seeing friends in some speaker-blasting club or over-crowded bar. I’m tired of never seeing guys for more than a month. Window shoppers can keep it moving, and the pro temps can apply for interim work elsewhere. I am looking to take root. Find a job to settle into and individuals to share in the experience.
So, with that in mind, I would like to say goodbye to all those bunnies that I used to know… and hello to the future that matters. It’s time to arrive.
Sometimes after telling a friend about my most recent flirty shenanigans, they ask how I get up the guts. How? Easy-peasy: I just do it. Seriously, it’s that simple.
You have an impulse struggling to break free from the prison you’ve locked it into in the back of your mind? Slip it the key. Or better yet: explosives, so it can bust outta confinement in style. Out with a BANG!
That’s how I’ve tried to liberate myself since moving to DC. I’m in a new city, new lifestyle, and trying all the lovely new things along with it. I’ve been outgoing and decidedly-Me for most of my life, but this is bringing it to a whole new level. I go out dancing half the week, soak up new friends like it’s my job [wouldn’t that be cool if being social was my job??], and strive daily to do ‘carpe diem’ proud. Vulnerability can be a surprisingly delicious feeling.
Most often, this fun growing habit [addiction?] manifests itself in my dating life. I think the bartender that always finds a way to knock down my tab is cute? Well, last Friday, I left him my number on the check along with a note saying “in case you’d like to grab the drink I definitely owe you now”. [Note: this is at a bar my friends and I frequent often, so there is sure to be follow-up on this particular one.] Impulses like these are healthy, natural, and downright exciting as hell– so everyone should take some initiative spice up their own life.
Months ago, there was this boy who played an acoustic and sang outside the metro across from my restaurant. He was cute, obviously did it just for kicks, and had a variety of genres he’d jump around in. All summer and fall, I’d listen to him while getting the patio ready for dinner or waiting for my bus home, and we’d do that adorable smiling-at-each-other-from-afar thing. Sometimes he’d play this great Hank Williams song, and I one time shouted that was my favorite– after that, any time I walked by, he’d immediately switch over to that song. I don’t usually carry cash on me, and started kicking myself nights he was there. So, I did what any decent girl would do.
I dug through my purse for paper, and wrote him a note. “I always seem to only have bus fare home on me, but have listened to your music long enough that I figure I owe you a drink by now– here’s my number in case you’d like to take me up on it some night.”
He called the next day. Not a text, but a phone call. We talked a bit, and he said he didn’t know bars in the NW neighborhood area very well, but I said the Red Derby had great beer. We each brought a friend, had a great night of conversation, and that was mostly it. He still played my metro stop, and was adorable but a little too timid for me to date. But that’s not the point. We’d talk whenever running into each other, so I just made a cool neighborhood friend and an even greater story.
Don’t give me that “oh, but you’re so much more outgoing than me, Jules!” crap. I was a morbidly shy girl up through most of middle school, complete with bright red blushes and the inability to speak when it came to boys and bullies. Then I took to heart my mama’s best piece of life advice: you are who you want to be. Seriously, it’s that easy. You want to be the extroverted girl flirting in a circle of guys or walking up to a cute guy to buy him a drink? Then get over yourself and just do it. The only thing holding you back is you.
I know this is coming off as preachy, but it’s because this is what’s running through my head whenever I get into such situations. I like a guy at a party, bar, coffeeshop, or any other random place. There’s something I want to say to him. The introvert deep inside wants to just watch or run away, so I tell her to shuttup and walk over before I lose my nerve. I’m a recovering shy girl, it’s a daily struggle to overcome. But I decided early on that I didn’t like being quiet and overlooked, didn’t like being the cute-girl’s-best-friend, and definitely didn’t like that feeling of lost opportunity.
So here’s the deal: the end game for this kind of thing isn’t finding a boyfriend, or even a date. I do them because they make people smile. If the Cute Bartender never calls because he isn’t available, isn’t interested, or isn’t assertive enough to do it, that’s fine. I’m peachy keen without any response. Regardless of the outcome for me, everyone likes knowing they’re admired, and I know my note brightened his day. And isn’t that worth taking a few seconds of your time to express something as simple as “I think you’re cute”? Because it always makes them feel a little better, and it will definitely give you awesome butterflies that you will soon learn to crave. Just like me.
So just do it!
So my little sister and her friend Abigail shot me this video the other day, and it’s naturally been stuck in my head ever since. I think the ridiculously cute lyrics/video/everything about it are pretty appropriate here. So thanks, sis.