Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The universe finds this funny

And I jinxed myself.

Been up and down since 3 a.m. this morning with congestion, sore throat, aches in my muscles and joints and dizziness. Needless to say, I stayed home from work today and of course it was Pet Adoption Day, of all days!

(see end of previous blog post to understand what I'm talking about)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeling Fulfilled

I would describe this past weekend as fulfilling. Yes, I had a fulfilling weekend. I think it's because I got to do many things all over D.C. in 48 hours that I normally wouldn't have accomplished at all.

Friday night, Tad and I went out to a bar in Adams Morgan called Reef. I. KNOW. We went out!!! My friend Kelvin's birthday was the occasion, but when Tad was pumped for going out just to go out, I was very excited. We don't go out together at night much. Many of you remember/know what your bank account looks like while you're putting yourself through school.

Saturday was spent at the Silver Spring farmers market, and then ducking into Redrock Cafe for lunch to escape the rain. Then I left at 3:30 to meet up with Sara to see Where The Wild Things Are. Sorry fans of WTWTA, we hated it. Well, maybe 'hate' is too strong of a word. We strongly disliked it and thought it was weird. To describe it in a word would be to say it was 'angry' and I thought it ended without conflict resolution. I did get my first Mongolian BBQ experience afterwards though (again, I. KNOW. I'm way behind on trying that staple Bethesda restaurant).

Sunday, I rose early (so early that when I said good-bye to Tad, he said, 'have a good day at work') and headed out to Foggy Bottom to watch the Marine Corps. Marathon. It was the first time I had ever seen it -- first year I knew so many people running in it -- and I was completely blown away by the amount of runners (over 20,000!) and people dressed in costumes.

Best sign by far! So hilarious.

Kasey and Betty. GO SHARKRUNNERS! (Discovery's team)

Afterwards, I headed out to Ballston to meet my friend Nick for lunch, then eventually made it back to my apartment for a two hour nap. I was so exhausted from all the marathon watching and cheering, phew! Okay, so I need to go to the gym more. Followed by more TV watching and shouting later -- damn you, Darren Sproles for being so inconsistent and ruining my fantasy score!!!

In other news, I still haven't decided whether or not I'm going to get a swine flu shot. The TV says I should, my coworkers say I should, the doctor says I should... part of me feels that as a young, healthy adult, there are people out there who need the vaccine more than I do. The other part of me doesn't want to be sorry for saying that later. The internal debate continues.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Pumpkin

The preface of this dialogue is I have a friend who has never carved a pumpkin before so she wants to throw a pumpkin carving party. And action...

Me: This is going to be some party!

Friend: Ha. I'm not sure everyone will come ( I hope not, my apartment is teeny).

Me: Word to the wise... buy lots of newspaper for people to carve the pumpkins on, like one Sunday NYT is perfect.

Friend: Good point. I've never carved one before. I have NO idea how to do this.

Me: Ha I know. Pumpkin, knife, newspaper, candle. That's all you need.

Friend: A candle?!!?!?!? For what?!

Me: Umm to make the pumpkin glow?

Friend: Interesting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Junk: It's What's For Dinner

Before you judge what I ate for dinner last night, you should know following situations occurred all in the past week:

Happy hour + getting lunch out + getting dinner out (note: this was different than the happy hour outing) + cooking and hosting THREE meals for three different groups of friends on three separate days + going to the grocery store + going back to the grocery store twice for things forgotten + attending a Caps game + sickness + horrible Maryland/Redskins football + Tad having a late night class last night + going to the gym for the first time in three weeks last night.

And that is why last night's dinner equaled this: some pretzels + about a cup and a half of Chicken Voila + a bowl of spinach with olive oil + a slice of peanut butter toast + four stripes of bacon + a piece of cheese and a cookie.

Did you notice how I became lazier and more desperate exponentially as the night wore on...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Swan Pond

Image courtesy of Barbourville, Ky Chamber of Commerce

I miss our place in Kentucky more than ever this time of year, when the leaves are at their peak yellows, oranges and reds. The air is crisp and cold. More importantly, the bugs are gone.

My family owns a plot of land in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and I have many childhood memories of visiting our cabin our there.

It's where I learned to fish, spent hours hiking, searching for arrowheads, discovering Civil War cemeteries and old coal mines, and hearing stories over orange juice cake and coffee made by Ms. Belva.

I did take this one last year though.

Swan Pond is a place you would think was a writer's imaginary mountain getaway, or a painter's vision because it's certainly a place to relax and clear your head. So remote, Google Earth couldn't find it until this year. The cabin, with it's real wooden log walls and wrap-around porch, is so cozy and overlooks a large pond that sits at the bottom of sweeping Applicachian mountains.

It's also one of those places that I didn't appreciate enough as a kid when we went twice a year or so, but I certainly long to get away to there now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "If You Want" Dance

Every couple has their squabbles, tiffs and all out blow outs. Often it starts over something ridiculously small -- like a miscommunication.

In one specific case, the simple, yet DEADLY phrase, "if you want," was the culprit.

While at happy hour with some college friends of mine yesterday, we all learned some rare, yet valuable insight into what men mean when they say this phrase to women, and in turn why women get upset.

A girl in our group came back to the table after an extended phone call with her boyfriend who, after she had asked "can I come over," had said, "you can come over IF YOU WANT." The girl took it as the guy meaning "I don't want you there," and was trying to be nice about, but then the girl was confused when later, Boyfriend got mad and said, "why aren't you coming over?" and buddy, it's just digging a hole from there.

So we put the question to the guys at the table. What do you all mean when you say "if you want"?

We, the women, attest that we've already put ourselves out there by asking in the first place, now it's your turn to respond. The "if you want" response makes us feel like we have to say 'no' so we're not crazy, clingy girlfriend. We want you to want us there. More importantly, we want you to say, "I would be happy to have you come over." There. Done. Clean, cut message delivered. Not looking for Shakespeare, just a 'yes' or 'no.'

The guys at our table broke it down. We, the men, do not care either way if you come over or not. Sure, it's fine if you do, but we're trying to make you happy here by giving you the option of choosing for yourself. And how do we know that you all aren't playing games with us by making us give in to you? We're not going to give in. Then you get all emotional and try to analyze the deep alternative meaning of our words. We don't give it a second thought.

So, I don't know about you, but that sounds WAY more convoluted than how the women had it. Perhaps I'm biased and it's true, being a woman I really can only related to one side of the argument, but also as someone who has AGONIZED over what "if you want" meant, I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at hearing this (okay, I shrieked something more like "Wha?! Wha?! What!!").

To me, it seems simple. Women say, "can I come over?" meaning "can I come over," your turn, fellas, to say, "yes, please do" or "no, not tonight." It would save so much time and tears. Perhaps even stop a nuclear war. Am I right here?

Readers, where do you stand in the "if you want" dance?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And The Day So Fine

"I was drivin' home / By the river side / Richard Thompson on
And the day so fine / Pennsylvania towns / Sort of slip right by
In a soft line south / Under purple skies..." -- Cheryl Wheeler

Phew! What a whirlwind of a week and what a tornado of a week this will be too. Things continue to be busy for me as my department gets closer to launching a huge project at work and this dinner or that event with friends... so much going on! I'm much more busy now than I ever was over the summer.

I was able to take some time this weekend to leave the apartment (gasp! I know) and enjoy the gorgeous weather we had. Even as busy as I was over the weekend, I came back into work Monday morning feeling light and refreshed.

Friday night was calm with Tad and I substituting our usual Friday lunch date for a dinner date with his sister and her boyfriend at McGinty's. Nothing like homemade beef stew and a few pints of Guinness to set us all at ease after a rough week.

Saturday was spent staying in bed until roughly 3 p.m. (only to get up to make a small breakfast at 11:30. God, those mornings are the best and way too infrequent). By 3:15, I hauled my lazy butt out of bed and met Daozhong at Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda to watch the Ireland vs. Italy and Portugal vs. Hungary games (I wasn't trying to go for an Irish-themed weekend here, honest). Neither games had the outcomes Dao and I were rooting for (Ireland and Italy tied, Portugal crushed Hungary 3-0), but it was wonderful to chat it up with my old friend and former roommate.

Leaving the bar around 6 p.m., we headed over to our friend Ben's house where he graciously fed a whole group of us a delicious spinach and pastry dish and taught us how to make our own sushi -- a surprisingly easier task than I thought it would be.

Preparing to roll up our California roll. Photo by Ben Johnson.

After several reminders to continue to keep our fingers moist so the rice wouldn't pull apart, laying on layers of faux crab (Ben did apologize in advance to me for not having Blue crab), Ben's homemade spicy mayonnaise (excuse me for not remembering the proper name of this exquisite sauce), seaweed sheets (a completely new and foreign thing to me. It felt and looked like a poncho), and fish eggs. Yes, fish eggs. Who knew this came in a plastic tub like it was as natural to buy a tub of fish eggs as it is to buy strawberries.

My hands cutting the California roll Dao and I made. Photo by Ben Johnson.

Sunday was extra special because Tad and I took a day trip up to Gettysburg, Pa. with the intent to bike the entire battlefield - a leftover part of my birthday gift. Only an hour and a half away, we reached the visitor's center around noon and spent two hours exploring the museum, watching a brief movie about the war, seeing a century-old cyclorama painting of the battle of Gettysburg and eating lunch on the grass outside. Sunny, warm, with a nice crisp fall breeze -- we couldn't have planned it better.

With our bike rentals secure, we hit the 24-mile trail around the site, although it wasn't much of a ride because we kept stopping every 5 minutes to read this plaque or see this monument (and of course I was taking pictures, which I promise to add in here later). I hadn't been there since I was 8 or 9 so I didn't recall much, and so I was astounded at how littered the place was with monuments and tributes, each in the exact location where this general fell or this turning point in the three day battle occurred. It was so striking to me to know I was walking on places that had once been stained with blood and bullets, or gazing over the same vantage points where General Lee had once stood, knowing he was nearing the end.

Pennsylvania's monument was the largest one - by far. With marble pillars, a giant platform, enormous statues, it was the only monument you could see from any point on the trail. We rode through turning woods, down hills, past the Angle, Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Wheat Field, Peach Orchard, but I'm sorry to say we didn't make it round the whole track. Not that we didn't want to, but by 5:30 p.m. the time on our bike rental was running out.

After dropping the bikes off, we strolled through the Gettysburg National Cemetery where Lincoln had given his famous Gettysburg Address in dedication of the site (something I didn't know until then). I didn't take any pictures here because I'm uncomfortable, maybe even a little superstitious about that. I feel its disrespectful to the dead and I can't exactly explain why. If I had taken pictures, you would have seen hundreds upon hundreds of graves simply marked "Unknown" and only identified by the state emblems on their uniform buttons, if at all.

Driving home, I couldn't help but feel refreshed and accomplished with the weekend. I was outdoors, had exercised, left town for a while, yet still kept a leisurely pace. It was a great, uplifting feeling of satisfying some of that need for adventure that I hadn't had in a long time. Future trips are certainly in the works as far as I'm concerned. Understanding my time is getting short, I'm hoping to still get out to a pumpkin patch farm, or even an orchard to pick my own fruit before the season is over. My next free fall weekend can't come fast enough.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Google 'Bar Code'

I'm sure you've all noticed by now that the Google logo today is a bar code.

Why? Today is the 57th anniversary of the invention of the bar code patent. Seriously! Read the story HERE.

And while I find that to be a very odd anniversary number to celebrate (why not wait until the big 6-0) you can still have fun turning your name into a bar code. There's a website that will let you take any word, phrase and generate it into a bar code, just for fun.

Here's what "Lauren Effron" looks like:

Try it out for yourself HERE.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Don't need to say 'Don't forget to write'

Erin is back stateside and it's almost like she never left.

I've blogged about her several times before, as my good friend who was teaching English in South Korea for an entire year. She came back late last week and through meeting up for lunch and then a dinner together, you would have never known she was gone at all just by watching us.

How fast a year can fly for one thing, but the other thing is without current technology, I don't know if I would have felt this same feeling of, "oh hey Erin, it's nice to see you again, now it's just a bonus that it's in person" when we talk. It's been amazing to see her, but we kept in constant conversation through email, Facebook, blogging, video chat and out joint photo blog project, 3 p.m. on Sunday, (which we've decided to keep going for now, even though we're no longer 7,000 miles apart) throughout the year, that I don't feel such a drastic change.

She's even all up-to-date on my work and recent outings, just as I know that the last class she taught was a cooking class and she's still getting over jetlag (13 hour time difference can be quite difficult to handle, even after a short trip).

When Erin first went abroad for an extended time, we were still in college and I was very upset, thinking I was losing a dear friend and therefore a dear part of me. But emails and facebook posts and blogging flowed then and since, and now that she's already talking about leaving again for New Zealand in February, my "please don't go's" have turned into "once again, I'm jealous, but bon voyage!"

I don't even need to say, "don't forget to write." I know she will. It's what we do best.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lazy Sundays

I am loving this lazy Sunday today.

This is not to be confused with the statement, "I love lazy Sundays" because this would imply that I love all lazy Sundays and that is certainly not true. Sometimes I get mad at myself for spending an entire Sunday, where I don't have to be sitting in the office, sitting in my apartment. Sometimes I wish I lived in Dupont or Georgetown so DC would be just outside my door and I wouldn't have to make the effort to get on the Metro (The DC border that kicks off the Northeast quadrant is one block away from my apartment, I 'can see it from my house' er, balcony). In both cases -- especially when it's a gorgeous, 70-something degree day.

Today though, I don't mind so much, even though it is Sunday, and it is a gorgeous, 70-something degree day, and I'm currently sitting in my apartment. Sometimes, we need these days. I certainly do after a week like I've had at work and a week I could possibly have, starting tomorrow.

That's not to say I've been lazy today. For those of you who know me well, know that I cannot sit still. That I have to be constantly doing something productive. I am ADD for productivity. This comes in quite handy when I have nothing planned for a lazy Sunday because then that lazy Sunday turns into productive Sunday: usually cleaning, reading, cooking and baking. I know, I know. Not the incredibly fabulous life you envisioned for me, right?

Sometimes I imagine myself using my lazy Sunday time to do something super creative, like paint or draw something to finally fill that large white space on my living room wall. Or maybe create a tile mosaic on this boring, faux-wooden table that sits in front of the large white space on my living room wall. I have yet to break out the paint brush or the putty, but I did vacuum the apartment, take out the trash and clean the bathroom -- tub and all -- so far today.

Sundays are usually big cooking days for me and sometimes Tad too. Our upbringings were way different but the one thing we share is our mothers usually made big, special dinners on Sundays. Sometimes, like tonight, we make plans to go to our local Whole Foods to buy fresh ingredients -- usually just for the fish -- for a nice, Sunday dinner later. Sometimes, Sundays are big breakfast days for us too. I made omelets stuffed with turkey, cheese, spinach, tomato, onion and herbs this morning. All we need is the Sunday Times and for Tad to like coffee, and we would be officially retired people.

Baking too, takes up another piece of a typical lazy Sunday for me -- I already have plans to make banana pudding, I mean, come on, I have to do something with these going-bad bananas.

And reading. I've rediscovered my love for it after getting my degree and no longer having to read for anyone but myself anymore. I do have a confession to make. I book-cheated on Catch-22 and then dumped him all together to read The Lost Symbol (I had to know what all the hype was about) and then a friend recently gave me Eat, Pray, Love (I know, I'm way behind on the curve with that one, but I can understand why it's so popular. More on that in a future post), and I'm 20 pages away from finishing that, which I will do today. Thing is, I don't plan on ever going back to Catch-22. I got to page 68, I learned what the meaning of Catch-22 was, didn't I get out of it all that I came to get out of it? Plus, it just bores me. Sorry people who decide when a book is a "classic must-read for all generations."

The next few Sundays, I'm packed with plans and stuff to do so I've decided to let myself have this one without remorse and without going to DC or really going much of anywhere. Although, I may have to go play tennis later... just to get out of the apartment, you know.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quote of the Work Day

"Well, if that were the case, we wouldn't have to suggest getting drinks for lunch. We'd just call it 'lunch'."