My little sister, the baby of the family, moved into her first college dorm on Thursday to kick off the start of her freshmen year. When I tried to call her to ask her how it went, all I got was, "It went fine. I have to go. Bye!" so it sounds like she's settling in nicely.
I had mixed feelings about all this but of course there were pangs of jealousy -- ahh to be a freshmen again. Everything so new, so exciting and such freedom! And not only that, but to be a freshmen as the person I am today -- I think a much more happy, enjoyable model then my former 18-year-old self.
I used to be your typical "Susie high school" in high school. Student Council president. Serving on regional boards even. Mock Trial captain. Number 2 on Varsity Tennis. Varsity Soccer. Honors Society. Competitive Chorus. Countless community service groups. Not what I would call one of the cool "popular kids," but certainly well known. What my parents do call as someone to "took advantage of opportunities." Well that's certainly obvious but those are just the activities section on my college applications. In reality, I was an anxious, stressed out, very uptight individual who's world would come crashing down if she failed or broke a rule or if people failed her.
College was able to break me of that uptight shell. Eventually. Probably by halfway through junior year. Now, I'm much more relaxed, calm, overall happy and quite frankly much more fun to be around now than I was before those four years. Oh, "if I only knew then what I know now" is so clear from this end.
I have grown up more and have understood more about how the world works in the past year than I ever did in four years of college. With working, I have a new kind of freedom -- a new control over what I do, when I do it, what I buy, where I go, "make my own money, make my own rules," because everything I have now is almost all as a result of my working at it. I have enjoyed both freedoms immensely, and differently. What I wouldn't give to sleep in until noon on a Tuesday some days, or to be back in a classroom just to learn, or eat all that free food, go to free concerts, scream at free football games, but at the same time I'm also content.
With two giant red peppers about to go bad and our ability to only consume one of them, Tad solved the dilemma with reading up on how to make your own roasted red peppers at home. Although, I think the roasted red pepper hummus (my favorite kind) I had bought a few days ago could have been the inspiration.
With a swift glance at a food blog for help, here's how he did it.
Step 1: Grill too far away? Broiling pan too hard to clean? No problem, just use the gas stove.
Step 2: Once the edges were good and completely black, Tad removed the pepper from the stove, and put it in a tupperware container for 15 minutes, chopping up garlic while he waited.
Step 3: After the pepper soaked, Tad peeled off the burnt skin to reveal the juicy, raw skin underneath. It was pain-staking because the black bits come off in tiny flakes, not strips.
Step 4: Deseed, chop, place back into tupperware, adding the garlic and olive oil. Let sit. Voila!
It was truly delicious and I dare say would rally any restaurant dish. And now we can use it on sandwiches, salads or chicken with pasta!
Climbing back into the saddle after a nasty bout with what I'm assuming was food poisoning -- took two whole days, Thursday and Friday, to keep food down and feel relatively back to normal -- I've come off fresh from a relaxing country weekend and a slamming work day yesterday.
I finally rallied from the sickness late Friday night, which was a relief because I had been planning a tubing trip in the Shenandoah on Saturday for a month. But with violent storms in the forecast all weekend promising to ruin the trip... Can you tell I'm fascinated by clouds?
and not knowing how I felt about laying in the sun on a tube for hours on end after being sick, I canceled the trip, loaded up my car and drove through torrential rains to Tad's family's lake house in Henderson, Md.
The rest of Friday night was fairly uneventful and quiet until Anthony mistook a can of V-8 for a root beer and knocked all sorts of breakable things out of the fridge in his haste to have his favorite soda. Stu still hasn't let him live it down.
Then the driving rains began, bringing small forest frogs up to the house. At one point, we counted four just on the front stoop.
A break in the weather on Saturday led us on a two hour quest for Waffle House after getting turned around in Dover for miles and miles, a stop at the Amish Store for fresh veggies and $1 ice cream scoops (there's actually an enormous Amish community in Caroline County, Maryland -- complete with horse and buggies), and finally back to the house for our first fishing trip of the summer.
Yes, I fish. With red toe nail polish and small diamond earrings on and all. However, I did make the boys clean out the canoe though because last time, Tad found a black widow and a wolf spider, both the size of his fist and I can't handle that.
Canoe cleaned, and shoved off the bank with a cooler of beer and bait, two fishing poles and three people trying not to tip it over (our other friend, Stu, stayed behind to work), we were on our way out into the lake despite another round of thunder faint in the distance. At least the cloud cover kept us cool. It's very difficult to take pictures while holding a fishing pole at the front end of a medium-sized canoe you happen to be sharing with two full grown boys. Not to mention the constant fear of spiders missed by the hose suddenly sneaking out of hiding places.
Evening rolled through and so did more violent thunderstorms, so the four of us retreated to the basement for ping pong. I'm lightning fast...
Stu is just destructive...
Sunday morning, I drove down to Cambridge for an early birthday celebration with my little sister and my parents. Leslie and I are four years, four days apart -- I'm Aug. 31 and she's Sept. 3 -- but she's leaving for college this week and so we celebrated together before she left with brunch and a beautiful cake Mom picked up from Bay Country Bakery. After which, Leslie and I feeling stuffed and desperately needing a walk, took the big dog down the street to the river for a swim.
All in all another relaxing, quiet weekend -- which was nice after being sick but has also definitely been my mantra this summer. With the real birthday celebration coming up this weekend and potential plans of a pool party or other adventures on Sunday, perhaps future posts will be more exciting.
I told Erin, I need to start finding more interesting things to do on Sundays because I'm starting to run out of things in my apartment and/or my parents' house to photograph.
View our photos HERE. Doesn't Erin's photo look like it should be a poster?
Which got her and I talking. I was in the market for a Paris poster for a certain someone who probably wants something absolutely predictable and iconic of Paris -- the Effel Tower, what else? -- and it's funny to me that out of the thousands I searched through, these are the ones that stood out to me:
Okay I'm biased with that last one, but it's the door that caught my attention. Sigh. I'm more like my mother everyday because my thought process went like this: "Oh those are beautiful. I wish I could make money taking and selling photos of scenes like this. These would be perfect in the kitchen of my future home."
I've always loved photography and I want so badly to have the time and patience to be really good at it. I often feel awkward when I'm taking "artsy" photos in public places and will stop when I feel too overwhelmed or embarrassed. I think I would feel less so if I had something more professional looking than my digital point-and-shoot.
Or perhaps it's my setting. Erin talks about how it's fairly easy for her to take such photos in Korea because she already stands out so much as a foreigner that the locals will stare at her regardless.
Either way, I'm so glad to have started and continued this joint photo project with Erin because it forces me to shape and play with my photo-taking abilities. And maybe one day I'll hang my own art in my kitchen.
FRIDAY I made a new friend in an unusual way and it's sad that this is so unusual nowadays. After running into my dad back at home last week, Julia, another young professional Eastern Shore native, realized she and I have been working in the same building all summer and had never met. Without any prompting, she sent me an email, introduced herself and offered to get coffee. I accepted and before too long into the conversation, it was obvious we had much in common. Much like how Erin and I became fast friends, it was so nice to connect with someone in real life in the normal fashion of sitting down and having a conversation face-to-face. I feel like it's so rare for those connections to happen these days and I was truly touched by Julia reaching out to me.
Earlier that morning, around the first cup of coffee, I was on the Friday News Feedbag Discovery podcast. I think I come off a little snotty, but it didn't keep me from laughing at myself.
SATURDAY I went home to the Shore again this weekend to attend my 5-year high school reunion. Spending a lazy day by the pool turned into getting all dolled up and heading out to a local old man's pub called Finish Line. It was disappointing that so few people showed up -- even our class president didn't make an appearance -- but I did get to see a few familiar faces and awkwardly catch up on their engagements, weddings and pregnancies. It was a bit surreal for me, as you can imagine, since I'm not doing any of those currently.
SUNDAY Too hot to do anything else but lay by the pool. I managed to pull myself off the pool float to snap some photos for Erin and my 3p.m. on Sunday photo blog. Including this one of Ollie...
Oh yeah, you can't handle the cuteness. Sigh, part of me goes home so much just to have dogs to play with.
Saw District 9. It was... entertaining. I'll just say that I can certainly understand why it's gotten so much hype because the story line is weird, engaging, the cinematography is the best I've ever seen for a "mock-u-mentry," and not once did CGI look so obviously CGI that you were disappointed. But the sci-fi subject matter overall was not my cup of tea and there were definitely points where I thought I was going to be sick. I'm forcing Tad to take me to see either "500 Days of Summer" or "Time Traveler's Wife" in retaliation.
This was what Route 50 looked like at 65 mph as I was leaving town to head back to D.C...
MONDAY It's a brand new week and my baby sister starts her freshman year of college in 10 days. I'll be 23 in 14 days. This year has truly flown by as I'm already shopping for fall weather clothing while yearning to hang on to lazy summery beach days for as long as possible.
In order to buy decent, everyday underwear, you either need to be a super sexually-flirtatious teenager or a conservative librarian pushing 50. Or at least this is the case with Victoria Secret.
I went to VS the other day to replace my underwear -- nothing fancy, just the usual, routine, everyday, comfortable panties. I was drawn in by the 5 pairs for $25 deal, only to be very disappointed in the selection and a little stressed out.
Being the 20 something young professional that I am, I'm not interested in underwear that has bubble gum or that stupid dog on it and says "LOVE PINK, LOVE PINK, LOVE PINK" or "Kiss me, I'm a Bitch" on the butt in shiny silver. Nor do I want a scrap of lace 1 sq. in x1 sq. in. or boy-like briefs in high-waisted pastel floral patterns. Why can't I just get a regular low-rise pair of purple cotton "bikinis" or maybe something with stripes -- something NORMAL.
I could tell I wasn't the only one who felt this way because two women scanning the merchandise near me -- one looked like your stereotypical soccer mom in her baggy sweats and the other looked like she was a young professional in her late 20s/early 30s -- also picked up pair after pair only to say "ugh" or "bleck" and put them back. The young professional walked out. I am justified.
After about 20 minutes of rummaging through those drawers, I ended up just grabbing without looking and I ended up with let's just say some okay and some interesting choices. I don't think I'm being too conservative or uptight here. I just want to know where have all the good underwear gone?
Well, the New York Times has definitely lost an enormous advertising deal with J.C. Penny.
NYT columnist Cintra Wilson uses her "Critical Shopper" column to dissect the ups and downs of latest fashion trends and store fronts. Her pieces are usually quiet clever -- her chastising of the "men's short suit" last fall was hilarious and dead on. However, she is now being sharply criticized for her incredibly, nasty stomp all over the clothing giant J.C. Penny for opening a store in Manhattan, "the sleekest, scariest fashion city in America."
Yes, how dare they -- It's not like there isn't an equally cheap H&M on 53rd across the street from Gucci or anything -- But Ms. Wilson rampages the discount department store (and the people who dare to shop there) in an out-of-control verbal assault, as if she is deeply affected and utterly hurt by such an intrusion.
"J. C. Penney has always trafficked in knockoffs that aren't quite up to Canal Street’s illegal standards. It was never 'get the look for less' so much as 'get something vaguely shaped like the designer thing you want, but cut much more conservatively, made in all-petroleum materials, and with a too-similar wannabe logo that announces your inferiority to evil classmates as surely as if you were cursed to be followed around by a tuba section,'" she writes.
Overall, she could have done a much more artistic weaving of discount department store vs. high-end fashion. I even agree with the section on the designers trickling down so to speak to do clothing lines for Target, Wal*Mart and yes, J.C. Penny, but the theme of "we hate fat people in new york" is just cheap. Plus, last big graph towards the end is a total cop out band-aid. If you're going to rip something to shreds at least finish strong.
After a gorgeous long weekend of summer bliss in the Hamptons, I was greeted today by several angry emails and jabs in the hallway over my "out of the office" auto reply message on my work email account.
I'm still on the old version of our internal mailing system at work and the old system doesn't have an automated email reply option. Knowing that I would be missing out on two potentially important meetings, I felt I needed to let everyone know I would be away from my desk this past Friday and yesterday. And let them know I did.
I somehow -- *accidentally* -- manipulated and hacked into our mailing system to create my own automated "out of the office" reply message. I sent myself a test email Thursday evening to make sure it worked, indeed it did, so I thought I was golden (and was feeling pretty good about myself to be honest because I'm no developer).
However, the result was every single person on any email or listserv that included my work email address got my OOTO automated message. Several times.
And because some of the emails I received while I was away were departmental meeting announcements, here's just a smattering of people who knew I was out of the office on Friday and Monday: - The CEO of our company - The senior vice president of my department - All of the vice presidents under her in my department - Several of our outside media partners - The entire development team for the company - The entire TLC and Animal Planet online divisions - Hundreds of Twitter followers
It's going to be very hard to live this one down. Especially since I couldn't make it stop this morning so I had to call our IT to show me how to turn it off. At least the IT guy was impressed with my hacking skills.
Both of the important meetings I was supposed to miss were canceled and rescheduled for a later date, by the way.
Returning to the previous statement, my brother, his wife and their friends have rented out a cute little bungalow in West Hampton, New York for the month of August. Tad and I took advantage to hang out with them up there this past weekend.
It was incredibly beautiful with the a perfect view of the bay from the huge back deck and the Atlantic right across the street. So peaceful, calm and surprisingly cool for August (the hottest it got was 83). I couldn't get over how quiet, clean and nice the beaches were -- very reminiscent of the Outer Banks -- and the water was so clear, you could still see your feet from wading out waist deep. I was surprised because I had been to the Hamptons only once before -- East Hampton, which is much further north -- where the beaches are very small, very rocky and muddy.
My brother's wife (also named Lauren so there are two Lauren Effrons. No, we do not have fun with that), is a pastry chef by training and an all-around fabulous cook so we were very much wined and dined on caught-that-day fresh fish and banana pudding made from scratch.
Overall we spent lazy days stretching out on the beach, only moving to swim in the ocean or throw the frisbee, meandering through farmers markets and throwing back some local brews. I miss it very much already.
Two nights ago, I dreamed that the sorcerer Jafar (yes, from Aladdin) and I were in a heated battle in a big, orange clay palace. We were fighting to the death with saifs. I woke up before I found out who won, but I will say Jafar is very, very tall in real life.
Last night, I dreamed I was a back-up dancer in Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video and me and B were best buds.
Mitch Hedberg, in all of his infinite wisdom, was right about this one too: "I hate dreaming because when you want to sleep, you want to sleep. Dreaming is work. Next thing you know, I have to build a go-cart with my ex-landlord."
Washington Post is doing an on-going project this summer about people seen around D.C. in various fashion trends and styles. I was so mesmerized when I watched this that I watched all three episodes in a row. Not just as someone who is obsessed with how I'm percieved by others in manner and dress, but also just the funky, artistic way the videos are put together.
It just makes people and their clothes entertaining, with using D.C. sidewalks and Capitol Hill's marble halls as runways. Plus most of what these people are wearing are so far out of no defined field that you can't help but pay attention to their explanations of how they got there.
Like the girl at Duke Ellington, I too will pour over magazines like InStyle and Vogue for new fashion ideas I can recreate from what already exists in my closet. Mainly because finding something that expresses me and how I want to look on a day-to-day basis can be difficult -- and not because I'm dying to be on the cutting edge of fashion.
Most of my clothes are either college (even high school) leftovers or hand-me-downs from mom. I'm lucky that my mother has a beautiful taste in clothes... for someone her own age. I'm not 18 and I'm not 40-something. I'm just a 20 something trying to meet them in the middle, not spend uber amounts of money and magically come up with some sort of style of my own: mixture of artsy, girl-next-door, a little funk, preppy while being suitable for working in a corporate office. I suppose.
Interesting to me that several women in the videos said they get their sense of style from their moms, even grandmothers. No arguing it's usually a good place to start.
I'm not a vintage shopper -- I don't frequent thrift stores, despite all the bargains I'm certainly missing out on. I'm not a label whore -- I own one pair of Manolo Blahniks that were a hand-me-down and other than that I shop everywhere from Nordstorms and J. Crew to PayLess and Target. Online shopping terrifies me -- especially eBay because who knows what you'll really end up with. I don't shop till I drop -- if I do go shopping, it's almost always with a goal in mind i.e. I need to replace my tennis shoes.
I constantly people watch for new ideas, and will purposefully look for girls in magazines who look like me so I know what coloring and lines the professionals think I would look good in. That's the purpose of fashion, right?
Yes, it can be exhausting. I blame my obsession on my mother who always told me to look presentable at all times, because who knows when you'll run into that ex-boyfriend or photographer on the street. There are times when I want to just throw away everything in my closet and start from scratch, but then I tell my clothes, "I'm so sorry I didn't mean it."
Through watching these videos, it was comforting to see such a wide spectrum of people from different extremes -- either having their fashion sense of self so together their style doesn't fall into any category to people like me who simply just try to look nice every day (The judge in Dupont Circle is my favorite). All in my backyard. I think that's why I was so tuned in.
And I may have snagged a few fashion ideas along the way too :)
"Kirsten Dunst has blood on her hands. High schoolers are not professionals. If they didn't try so hard to mimic what they've seen in movies like 'Bring It On' and 'Bring It On 2,' we wouldn't be in this mess."
All this week! Oh the shark insanity! And we're definitely ready to go at work...
I couldn't help but shamelessly self-promote :)
This year, more than ever, I've had people tell me they're obsessed with Shark Week and ask me when Discovery is turning the building into a giant shark again. Unfortunately, that shark is expensive so we traded it in for a 4x5 foot banner that says SHARK WEEK, but I've become curious with what people's fascination with Shark Week is.
Don't get me wrong, Shark Week lovers are good for business (hehe) but what makes people go crazy for it? Is it the idea that there's a monster lurking in the deep, waiting to fest on our juicy flesh that excites us, like leftover childhood boogieman fears? Or are they just incredible fish that we can't figure out? A puzzle to solve, perhaps, that draws in our need to watch.
For me, it's both. The sign in the elevator at work that says "This elevator can hold about 12 people. So can a great white," gave me chills the first time I read it, but I'm also so intrigued. So little is known about these creatures who have a bad rep as vicious man-eaters that there still remains so much to figure out about them. And their personalities and patterns are so different than other species of animals.
One of great things about Discovery is that I do feel we try to satisfy both the adrenaline junkies and the scientifically curious, especially with Shark Week. It's a rare chance when both audiences are fused into one.
If you're celebrating shark week in a crazy, fun way, let me know! I'm looking for pictures, video and stories of people who are die-hard fans.
And in other news... waste sometime at work with this: I'm a hammerhead shark, what kind of shark are you? Test yourself here.
AlwaysFishing.com was started out of a dream I had about blogging -- no kidding -- but it fits in perfectly with what I do: I'm always fishing for good stories. I use this blog to write about the odds and ends of my life around Washington, D.C. and other places. Sometimes I write about other people's lives or weird things I find on the Internet. I hope my ramblings make you laugh too. This is my personal blog that I use for fun and by no means represents anyone else's views but my own. Connect with me here and on Twitter @leffron831.