The correspondence of Apartment 5402 in exile


Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Letter from the 5402

Dear friends and stalkers,

The 5402 sends its greetings across the internets during these tumultuous times of hope and crisis (followed again by hope!!! and then again by crisis). In the new spirit of thrift that pervades our great nation and humbles even the adolescents among us, whose allowances have been trimmed from $100 to $60 a week, we are sending a joint Christmas letter, and in the spirit of eco-obsession that has inspired some of us to live off only the energy obtained from our own poop, this letter is paper-free. We hope you will understand the necessity of modifying traditions to fit these changing and challenging times.

The year began inauspiciously for Rita when she dropped an Ikea bed-in-construction on her foot. The next day, she discovered that her toe was blue, the nail was black, and it hurt such that she was unable to concentrate and made the biggest copy error of her life, allowing Ward Churchill's name to be printed instead of Ward Connerly's while she went to Urgent Care. After she had waited many hours in the pouring rain for medical attention and conveyed the grave intensity of her pain through groans and tears, she was prescribed the powerful painkiller known as ice, and sent home. The next morning, the pain was amplified by the volume of complaint email in response to the name error.

Several months later, when her toe had recovered somewhat from its trauma, Rita traveled to the wilds of the Iberian peninsula to rendezvous with Alex, who was stationed there as part of a year-long tour of duty to pacify the natives. By the time Rita located her, however, Alex was already beginning to show signs of going native herself--subsisting off Nutella, clothed in scarves and Bershka, and speaking in tongues about how 1 in 15 was the spicy pepper. Rita struggled to free Alex from the continent's chocolatey grasp, but she too soon succumbed to the pastries and barely escaped from the (powdered) jaws of death herself.

After a brief stint climbing the soaring peaks of the Appalachian foothills, Rita returned to Washington to take a seat only inches away from the election action--in the chair in front of her office computer, where, by refreshing 500 times a day, she was virtually in the middle of the fray! It's a good thing this seat was so close to the action because Rita wasn't able to leave it for the next three months. This holiday season, Rita is in the process of stepping down after a long and distinguished career of courageous public service in order to get back in touch with nature, her roots, and the things that matter most in life--like racking up socially impressive credentials and voluntarily seeking a massive pay cut during a recession in exchange for even more work than she does now.

On New Years' Eve 2007, Julia was in a beautiful restaurant, sipping Dom Pérignon and eating foie gras while wearing expensive shoes. That restaurant has since gone out of business, and Julia will be spending New Years' Eve 2008 on her couch, wearing sweatpants and drinking MGD. This change represents Julia's year in a nutshell.

Over the course of 2008, Julia’s answer to the question, "How's it going?" deteriorated steadily, from "good" to "fine" to "meh." In February, she visited Bilbao with Alex, where she became convinced that Richard Serra was trying to communicate with her (It’s only a Matter of Time! All those carbohydrates will kill you!) After this existential experience, she returned to New York, where she read too much Camus and Sartre – quel désespoir, mes amies! – and decided to dress only in black, eat brie, and smoke cloves. Shortly thereafter, Julia simultaneously discovered scrabulous, google reader, and FAILblog. The jig, as we say, was up! Consumption of PBR skyrocketed. Productivity levels fell to an all-time low. Julia's mother (and probably her boss) were not pleased.

In June, Julia decided to make some changes: she would 1) move into a new apartment, and 2) apply to grad school. She perused Craigslist, and bought a GRE study guide. When looking for apartments and re-learning the properties of triangles turned out to be demoralizing and tedious (much like the men she was meeting at parties) she changed her mind about moving, and grad school (and men). But then she got the hang of right triangles and realized she might be able to live without windows, so she changed her mind back again. She asked her mother what she should to do, and was convinced that she should move, but not to go to grad school. Then she asked her father, and was convinced to go to grad school, but not move. Her friends declined to comment. So Julia reconsidered things, and decided, quite firmly, to remain ambivalent.

At this point, Wall Street, ever attuned to Julia's moods, gave up. So Julia, ever attuned to the economic climate, did too. She felt much better afterwards. So much better, that she decided to quit her job and run off to India. The consequences of this have yet to be determined, but Julia is feeling cautiously pessimistic about the whole thing. Yay for 2009!

Alexandra greeted the start of the holiday season in a similar state of reflection. Last year, early December found her in sunny Seville, perusing ancient cathedrals and town squares lined with palm trees, and buying jam from nuns. This year, early December found her in shared cubicle, eating a frozen lean cuisine and trying to hide the lolcats on her computer screen from her boss. She fears this may not be considered progress, but, in the spirit of the holidays, is withholding judgment for the time being.

For the first six months of 2008, Alex visited at least two new European cities a month, worked 15 hours a week, and used her three day weekends to sample all the wonderful varieties of Rioja wine. She made many wonderful friends and capped off her time abroad with a Greek Isles cruise, on which she ate much baklava and switched to cocktails. Despite her avoidance of all fruits and vegetables, in July, Alex was cast out of paradise. She flew back to Miami, and sat on her sofa for a few months and waited for someone to offer her a job. When this strategy proved to be ineffective, she flew to DC and sat on Murky Coffee’s flea-infested sofa and continued to wait. For some reason, the sofa’s proximity to the job turned out to be the deciding factor.

She found a job at a large non-profit where the cafeteria was immediately abuzz with excited chatter about the new girl. After moving to DC, Alex was surprised that learn that people did not take kindly to her professed indifference to politics. After being shut out of many party* conversations, she begrudgingly learned the names of her state senators.** Now, rumor has it she will be asked to be one of Obama’s advisors! Her popularity with her peers increased as well-she has as many as three friends now, and only sometimes has to remind people to invite her to their parties. Alex remains optimistic about 2009, when all three of her friends are planning to move out of DC and on with their lives.

Becky was MIA from this letter, but not, presumably, from the year. She will report shortly.

The 5402 wishes you and yours the best for this holiday season, and hopes you were not laid off yet, or invested with Bernard Madoff.

The 5402

*Like, the social kind. Not the political kind.

**I’m lying-I don’t know their names.


Blogger alex said...

I never wore Bershka.

Blogger Miss Self-Important said...

I forgot the names of the other eurotrashy stores.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!



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