Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ever after

I gave my mom a good scare this evening when I told her I never want to get married. “What? So you want to live your whole life all by yourself?” Like most females, she rightfully assumed every woman of her gender grew up hoping to meet someone wonderful and marry them. I was one of those women, until recently. I told her I couldn’t imagine signing up for a legal agreement to live with someone so unreasonable and hot-tempered and who would eventually piss me off to such a degree that I dreaded coming home from work.

Everybody has flaws, she said. This, to me, is significant because it’s the first time she’s expressed an opinion contrary to what she’s always said: people are malleable, and bad habits are reversible. I, too, think people are moldable, but some are too stubborn and proud to acknowledge the folly of their detestable vices and hence make a concerted effort to change.

“No, you’ll meet somebody, move out and be happy,” she said.

I’m not too sure about that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Solstice

There are 14 days -- a mere 2 weeks -- before the winter solstice, or, if you are superstitious, the end of the world, according to Mayan predictions. But hey, at least I get to celebrate my birthday before then. (Fun fact: I was supposed to be born during the winter solstice but arrived nine days early.)

If it is the end of the world, then I guess I won't be able to scratch off anything from my (very brief) bucket list:

1. Have a lake-house summer vacation with my future family
2. Watch a meteor shower
3. Fall in love

What's on your bucket list?

A drawing by the graphics wizard on my whiteboard

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Imm Thai: Imm ... No thanks.

Thai is the new trendy cuisine, which means new Thai places are cropping up where they shouldn’t be. Imm Thai in Annandale is a Thai restaurant owned by Koreans -- the dominant nationality in Annandale among area restaurants. It’s like having a Vietnamese restaurant owned by Koreans: it just doesn’t work conceptually. Thai food is characterized by nuanced flavor combinations -- sweet, spicy, tamarind, chili -- of which Imm Thai failed to crack, and quite miserably so.

I along with a quartet of friends dined at Imm Thai at noon Sunday -- peak lunch time for any restaurant (I worked as a dim sum girl at a Chinese restaurant in my pre-teens) -- and yet we were the only guests. We must’ve walked in through the back entrance inadvertently, for we were greeted at the entrance by the stink of the adjacent bathrooms.

The ambience is very minimalistic and modern, with red, black and white accents. Very Ikea. Well, it’s a good thing the owners didn’t spend too much on furniture because I wouldn’t expect  this place to be in business for very long.

Although we were the only guests at the restaurant save for another couple -- one that entered after we did, but was served before -- the food did not arrive at our tables until about 30 minutes after we placed our orders. Even so, the plates arrived, one at a time -- a no-no in hospitality etiquette -- with 10-15 minutes between each arrival. The absurd timing, coupled with the torture of watching delicious food preparation on the Food Network on the dining room’s flatscreen television, was infuriating.

But alas, my drunken noodle entree arrived -- last among my fellow diners. The noodles? Broken, crumbled, pale. The green beans? Green and crisp, but these do not belong in drunken noodle. The fresh tomatoes dominated the flavor in a dish that ought to ooze with spice, tamarind, and sweet seasonings -- all notes overtly missing from a signature Thai dish.

“How is everything?” our waitress asked. I told her the truth: My dish was not very good, and I wanted to send it back. In its place, I ordered the crispy chicken, which was OK; tastier than my disappointing noodle dish, but anybody can fry some odd pieces of chicken, toss it into some sweet sauce, and make it taste good.

What irks me is that the back kitchen took their sweet time to prepare each dish, seemingly one at a time (is there only a single operating wok in the kitchen??), and had more than enough time and attention to cook each dish correctly. Moreover, it is a weekend, and comparable Asian restaurants often book the best cook for peak hours. If this is the work of the best cook they have, I cannot imagine what abominable food this restaurant serves during its off hours.

We exited the same way we left: through the back exit. Our dining experience was nearly as unappetizing as the bathroom stench that waved us out.

The crispy chicken dish at Imm Thai

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poetry kick

Like many, I'd never been a huge appreciator of poetry, but I've been having a poetry kick lately. Here is a poem about love and loss, and another about gratitude and not taking things for granted. Enjoy :)

by W.S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Amy's corner

A collection of Amy's most notable Gchats from the past few days:

Amy: The Aflac guy is here again. I told him that I was no longer interested in the dental plan, but when he reached into his briefcase, I noticed that he brought ducks today D; . That may have swayed my decision, Mr. Business man.

On a hypothetical relationship situation:

me:  On the Kane Show this morning, they talked about whether co-habitating but unmarried couples ought to tell each other about large purchases, from splurging on a luxurious pillow, to a motorcycle, to spending $200 at Lush. What are your thoughts?
Amy: I need to know if my guy is spending $200 at Lush bc it would tell me that he's an idiot and I need to move out

On the higher cube walls in her new office:

Amy: Man, with my cube walls this high, I don't even bother covering my mouth when I yawn anymore. I'm an animal.
Amy:  Picture a lion's yawn.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Locked door

A young man came by my desk at work today to ask why the men's bathroom was locked (like I would know).

Me: Maybe someone is in there.
Dude: No, there isn't -- it's locked! Unless they can't hear.
Me: Maybe they want some privacy.
Dude: Well, they've been in there for a LONG time.
Coworker from the other side of the cube wall: I would use my best judgment. I wouldn't go in there if I were you. I mean, someone can't just lock it and walk out.

There are two bathrooms just down the hall. I guess it's too late to make that suggestion. Oops.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

5 random facts

1. I make the best apple-pie crust.
2. I really enjoy the taste of a cup of coffee on occasion, but I try not to indulge too often; it disrupts my sleeping cycle, and if I am able to fall asleep, I don’t get that deep, satisfying slumber I need for my hour-long commute to work. 
3. I don’t enjoy telephone conversations, but I’ve been told I send very charming emails. :)
4. Looking at this always makes me laugh.
5. Looking his photos make my heart melt.

National Harbor (May 2012)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fainting spell

Conversation via iMessage with my brother, Tony:

Tony: Meow I fainted when I got my blood drawn today :0 They had to take me to emergency room on a wheel chair
Me: What. Elaborate plz. I want full story

: Meow scariest thing in my life. Kk so I go into station room thingy and I sooooOoOoOoOo scared right. Kaiser room.
Me: Uh huh

: And so they about to stick needle in so I was like wait plz then I take out this hamster that Jessica (Jane's note: Jessica is his girlfriend) let me borrow to squeeze. So I look away and I’m squeezing the hamster right, and I feel the needle go in and my blood being drawn. The nurse tried to keep my attention away from it by trying to make conversation with me, so she asked me random questions like what my fav sport is
Me: Mmhm
Tony: And so I was talking and then I just stopped cuz I felt my mind and my vision were being blurred out. And I felt like I needed to throw up. And then I was apparently unresponsive. They tried asking me questions but I was gazing into space, so they say.
Me: Whoa

: Then they call down a security and doctor and other ppl down. This lady gave me apple juice.
Me: Hahahaha where was papa
Tony: They made me lay down and they put ice packs behind my neck, on my forehead, and on my chest. Then I started violently shaking or shivering o.O;;  Then they rolled me into wheelchair and brought me upstairs to emergency room. I was all agdsdshda. Omfg and they poked me with a needle and squeezed it when I was gazing. I FELT THAT
Tony: I wanted to throw my hamster at them but I couldn’t!
Me: So you were still holding hamster after all this time
Tony: Btw I never let go of the hamster during this whole thing. Ya. And so they hooked me up to some beeping machine, and took my temp, blood pressure and stuff, and made me lay down for a bit. I couldn’t move my body without shaking and my breathing was weird o.o So I lay down for some more and we left and went home and dad made me red noodle cuz I still can’t use my left arm that well.
Tony: Meow now I’m laying down in bed about to get up to eat some Milano cookies and surf da interwebz :3
Tony: Dassit meng

The hamster

Microsoft n00b

Everybody, when thrown into a new environment that primarily uses Internet Explorer, is bound to do something stupid. During my second day of work, I thought it was strange that I hadn’t received an email all day. I wondered, “It’s my second day and people have already forgotten I exist??” But I just shrugged it off and happily continued doing the reading assignments I was given and becoming re-acquainted with Internet Explorer, a Internet browser I haven’t used in years (Chrome, in my opinion, is infinitely superior).

But I was using Microsoft Outlook, which I’d never used before. And Microsoft Outlook does not refresh automatically unless you a) close and then re-open it, b) configure it to update periodically, or b) tell it to. I did not, obviously, know this because I’ve been spoiled with Gmail. So, when a woman I shadow came by to ask whether I received her numerous emails that day, I said no, I hadn’t gotten an email all day.

Once I refreshed my inbox folders, more than a dozen emails from throughout the day poured in. It was 3 p.m.

“Jane is sorry, everyone! She didn’t think she received any emails today, but she’s catching up on them right now!” the woman I shadow vocally announced to the department, trying to inject a little humor into an obviously mortifying moment for me.

So thanks, Microsoft Outlook, for embarrassing me on my second day at work.

Me and Amy in Philadelphia (June 10, 2012)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Driving by

Whenever I go somewhere on that end of town, I often drive by my old high school. Just because.

I miss having small classes and getting to know my teachers well enough to become their Facebook friend. I miss having lively (and pertinent) class discussions. I miss that sense of community.

Everywhere I go, I try to replicate that experience, but that’s like trying to recreate an old friendship after years of separation and change. It’s just not the same.

Maybe that only happens once. Maybe I ought to be glad I made friendships worth reminiscing about in the first place. Or maybe I’m being silly.

My former teacher told me I broke his heart when I decided to accept a job elsewhere. But really, it breaks mine.

My brother and me at his high-school graduation on Thursday. I woke up at 4:45 that morning to go to work.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bro and his pillow pets

My brother has four pillow pets -- a panda, ladybug, mama unicorn and baby unicorn -- and has starting bringing his pillow pets, one at a time, to school with him. He is a high-school senior. Should I be worried?

This is a text message he sent to me today with the accompanying photo:
"Panda chillin with me in Spanish class :D"

Birds on a line

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From my newsfeed

Posted by my middle-school algebra teacher:

SOL days are insane, but I'm OK. Came home to find Bill's room filling up with water, 2 hours later, we're OK. Kate's [his wife] spending the night at her Mom, but it's okay. Note from our housekeeper left on our bed: "the cat bomit on your sheets. they are in drayer." I'm done

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Order of the Ampersand turns 2!

Happy 2nd anniversary to Order of the Ampersand! I started this blog (originally hosted on Tumblr) two years ago for my friends and family to keep up with me as I spent 12 weeks in Charlottesville -- the longest I’d ever been away from home. At that point in my life, I was halfway through my college career -- by far the most formidable years of my life thus far -- and more than a little uncomfortable with my then-uncertain future, for various reasons, including a natural disinclination for change. Two years ago, the end U.Va and Charlottesville life felt uncomfortably close, even though that penultimate walk down the Lawn was still a ways away.

Now, I’ve graduated, moved back to Northern Virginia, and will begin working my first job in a few days. My blog will no longer be a chronicle of the latter half of my college career but rather offer a glimpse into my new life as a self-proclaimed yuppie in the D.C. area. Two years ago, I did not know where I’d be or what I’d be doing after graduation, but I’m pleased with what I’ve been presented with, and I cannot disdain the paths that have led me where I am now. I think I’ll like being a yuppie, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about this new journey.

Elevation Burger

On a scale from Wendy's to Five Guys, Elevation Burger is somewhere in between. The menu let’s you build a burger with various run-of-the-mill toppings (e.g., ketchup, mustard, lettuce, mushrooms, onions), and some interesting sauces including balsamic mustard, hot-pepper relish, and elevation sauce (a sauce the color of thousand island, but with less tang and more mayo) from a base of a burger, cheeseburger, etc. -- similar to Five Guys. But the beef patty itself leaves something to be desired. The patty is smaller than I expected, and not as juicy as I’d like a made-to-order burger to be. This may be trivial to some, but I took issue with the greens: For premium burger joint, I expected something more than a cumbersome wave of iceberg lettuce. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the cheese on my cheeseburger was cheddar, rather than American.

There are also two varieties of veggieburgers (one with a fire-roasted taste, and the other with a more “veggie” flavor)  for the non-meateaters out there, and a veggie-wrap alternative to a carb-laden bun if that interests you. And you can place your order online and pick it up in-store. But if you’re dining at the National Harbor location, like I did, you ought to eat outside and take in the waterfront view.

The real winners are the crispy, skin-on fries prepared in olive oil. I prefer the texture of these fries to the less-than-crispy ones at, say, Five Guys, but the latter’s cajun seasoning has Elevation Burger’s beat. Frying in olive oil, though it is a slightly healthier alternative, leaves no discernible difference in taste, if you were wondering.

I went to the National Harbor location, but there’s one opening in Tyson’s Corner. I don’t plan to come back purely because this is D.C. and there are plenty of superior burgers in town.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Courtesy calls

Things I dislike about courtesy calls:
1. There is never a time when I feel compelled to listen to a stranger talk me into signing up for a credit card.
2. It often takes more than one hello and pause to get them to speak, or the person says, “Hello?” after I’d already said “Hello” first. This is one of my greatest pet peeves!
3. I’m not a huge fan of talking on the phone anyway. I’m more of an emailer or Gchatter. Does that make me sound impersonal? If it does, I should note that I really like writing handwritten cards and letters.

A recent phone conversation went like this:
Phone rings, see 1-866 number on caller ID and feel strong inclination to punt cordless phone out the window, but do not, of course, do so.
Me: Hello?
Caller: Hi, may I speak to Ms. --

My name is incredibly simple to pronounce, and I am offended by the ways in which some people mispronounce my last name. A call came in today asking for a “Mr. Meh” (said as in “Meh, I don’t really care what I order for lunch.”). Click.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How to get good customer service

Here are excerpts from my online chat conversations with a Verizon FiOS custumer support representative to fix our living-room TV:

Step 1: When asked to state your problem, resort to violence
Me: Our Verizon FiOS remote control has been aggravatingly stubborn during the past few months, and I suspect it is on its last leg before it will be subjected to a violent bludgeon if it doesn't get its act together soon.
A Verizon Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you.

(An online representative responded within a minute. Excellent service)

Step 2: Use humor
Verizon: Well, you will get a new remote within one business day. Are all your other FiOS services working fine to the best of your satisfaction?
Me: Thank you very much! Well, the TVs with FiOS have some bad days. Sometimes it says there are no recordings. And it continues to feign ignorance even after we turn off an on the TV.

Step 3: Do everything they ask you to do and, most important, be polite
Verizon: I truly appreciate your patience and efforts in following the troubleshooting steps in such a wonderful way! I really wish all my customers are like you. I can grade you 10/10 for being so nice and patient.

Yes, the Verizon FiOS representative really said that to me. I have the screenshot to prove it.

National Harbor

Friday, May 11, 2012

Amy's jokes

Amy:  jane
me:  hm
Amy:  why did Ariel wear seashells
me:  why do u keep asking me
Amy:  it's a joke newb
me:  oh
cuz she's a sea-lut?
Amy:  LOL that's a good one
me:  so what's the answer
Amy:  because B-shells were too small

Google answers

Q: What sound do giraffes make?:
A: "They make a very sad bellow-like sound that's like a really depressed cow." (Source)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fry's Spring Station

Just as we continue to return to restaurants for the good food, so, too, do we return for the memories. Fry’s Spring Station will always be a special place to me partly because that’s where many an MB121 meeting took place. But the pizza is good, too.

My favorite pizza there is The Roberto, which contains chunks of tender meatballs. Another favorite of mine is now discontinued and was essentially a salad with tangy dressing atop a cheese pizza. Those who opt for the mushroom pizza, though, may be disappointed that the pie arrives displaying only a few skinny slices of mushroom that hardly occupy a third of the total surface area.

Apart from the pizza, Fry’s Spring Station also serves paninis, salads, and enormous portions of pasta. My pick for pasta is the lasagna, which arrives with a generous slice and hearty ground beef. The creme brule is one of a few dessert offerings, but I’ve had better

Al fresco dining is always a plus and there are plenty of outdoor seats (at least 10 tables total in the front and side of the venue) when the weather is fair. And on the plus side, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Inner Loop and Free Trolley lines, and is easily accessible. I wouldn’t recommend driving -- especially on a weekend or Friday night -- because parking is extremely limited. 

The Roberto


Margherita pizza