Monday, July 31, 2006

Brand New Heavies and a Washington D.C. flashback

This is going to be a long post. So next month another birthday, not sure why I am so freaked out about it. I told an exec at another company who's birthday is on the same day, that I was looking forward to closing all the blinds in my apartment, sitting on my couch, eating pie and crying. He's only 27 so he laughed. He thought I was joking. Well another friend (a fellow Virgo) will not let me do that so we are going to dinner to celebrate our birthdays together.

I'm on a tastemaker list for Giantstep marketing and received the latest New Brand New Heavies CD "Get Used To It". I love it. N'Dea Davenport is back as the lead singer.

I played their debut CD a lot while working on my book. In writing the book and with the next birthday coming up, I have been thinking about where I am in my life. The sense of isolation/loneliness/boredom I feel (depite knowing a ton of people here). A few of my closest friends have left Hollyood and moved back east, including the only one within walking distance. The others are so busy with work (all except 3 work in the industry) I never see them. I haven't had a proper date in uhmm years, and then there is the L.A. issue.

While listening to the BNH I started thinking about when I lived in D.C., aka the Chocolate city in the late 80s/early 90's. I moved there a year after college. I was a Congressional aide for a Congressman from Queens and worked at a clothing store called EPISODE part-time to supplement my income. Since working on the Hill is public service and the jobs are very competitive the pay is very low compared to the public sector. See, from the very beginning I always managed to have interesting jobs but be broke.

The great thing about working at the store were my co-workers and the discount. Our store was like a hipper Banana Repbulic. We were located in Union Station and tried to get the Ann Taylor wearing women to be a little less conservative. My co-workers were a really diverse group of women. The manager was a black woman from North Carolina and a former model. The co-manager was from Cameroon and an African princess (really). She lived in Paris for most of her childhood and would be pissed if people called her Helen. Her name was spelled Helene (and was pronouned el-lan, I don't know to make the accents on the last two e's on this computer). The assitant manager was a blonde women from Hawaii. Some of the salesgirls were students at Georgetown, Howard, Catholic U. and American. A few others had full time jobs like myself.

We had republicans, democrats, independents working there. One sister from Howard had a serious issue with interracial dating. She had to keep it to herself since the manager's husband was from Germany and looked like a slightly thinner version of Dolph Lungren. The manager was in her early 30's so she was like a den mother to all us students or recents grads. She would have these huge Thanksgiving dinners for all us "orphans" in her amazing apartment. All of us would go out to Perrys in Adams Morgan. Everytime I hear Black Box's "Everybody" I am back at Perrys dancing with my friends. There were a group of Nigerians, Brits, Argentinians and people from Madagascar (madagascians?) we used to see almost every weekend.

We all had a crush on this Argentinian bartender Diego. One night we went out to celebrate one of my co-worker's birthday. Karen looked a little like Charlene from "A Different World". On her birthday she had quite a bit to drink. When we got to the bar I told Diego it was her birthday. He asked her what she wanted and she replied "Kiss me, damnit Diego! Kiss me!" He leaned over the bar and kissed her. I almost fell off my stool I was laughing so hard.

I remember Helene and her boyfriend, who had a french mom and african dad, always having arguments in the store. Since they were fighting in French it didn't seem so bad. All the relationship dramas, bad haircuts, car accidents, and money woes, we heard and saw it all. One co-worker's roomate was raped in their backyard at gunpoint by two strange men. One had an older brother who was kill in Vietnam.

Many people think Washington is not very comospolitan but it is the nation's Capital. On the Hill I met people from all over the country (it was less partisan back then). Through my friends at the store I met people from all over the world. Althougth D.C. and L.A. are both dominated by one industry, in D.C. you are not as myopic. You have to know what is going on in your homestate. You are constantly being lobbied by both sides of every single issue. The bills passed do impact more peoples lives more than the box office of a movie.

Some of my friends to this day I met in the Congressman's office. I don't know what is going on with the ladies from EPISODE. Last time I saw our manager, she was being transfered to Atlanta. All our student co-workers graduated. One went on to be a stylist and I have seen her work in Harper's Bazaar.

Maybe next week I'll write about the Sony years in NYC.

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