Thursday, June 30, 2011


My friend Claire (her blog HERE) is currently living in Nicaragua and this weekend she's heading down to San Juan Del Sur, a small surfing town in the south. I went to Nicaragua for a week with four friends a couple years ago so I looked up the name of my surf instructor for her. Which led me to remember several now-funny things about that trip.

I've never felt like I had so much down-time, and yet did so many things, simultaneously. I remember lots of Hammock Time, swinging and reading on the front porch of our hotel, but then I also remember touring different towns/cities, deep-sea fishing, hiking a volcano, ziplining through trees, taking a boat ride with a monkey...and Learning How To Surf.

Backing up to before the trip- I can be over-cautious. Sometimes. Other times I do really stupid things without a second thought. But since we had months to think about this trip beforehand, I read up on the area and the risks thereof.

So I signed up to receive Department of State notifications in my email. You know, normal vacation planning, right? And I started getting emails with subject lines like: "Taxi Kidnappings and Residential Armed Robberies."

Oh good.

That opened up to say things like: "As reported in our Country Specific Information brochure on Nicaragua, violent crime in Nicaragua is increasing."

Ah, very nice. We'll not share THAT with the parents... so which swimsuits should I take!

And during my "planning" I also learn that it's suggested to get anti-malaria meds, just in case. So me and one other girl going on the trip- my friend Kami - do that.

The other three going on the trip are all combat vets and made fun of us.

Fast forward to a few days into the trip and LOOK WHO GETS SWINE FLU! Yeah, tough guy who thought I was being paranoid with my meds! Ha! (just kidding, I wouldn't laugh at him because he was VERY ILL and we self-diagnosed it as Swine Flu but to this day, we don't really know what it was)

But even if I did laugh at him, it wouldn't have lasted long because then the next person got it. And she was VERY ILL. Then the third person... so here's our room in San Juan Del Sur:

[And I was sharing a bed with Kami, who I eventually (accidentally!!) pushed out of the bed one night and she landed Here:]

But that's beside the point. The Point IS, that clearly this illness was systematically wiping each one of us out...and it was headed my way. Kami was my only barrier at this point - and I had just kicked her out of the bed. :/

End of story, Kami and I were the only ones NOT to get deathly ill on that trip, so I've gloated ever since that it was because we took Paranoid Meds. The. End.

I just realized this post is already too long and I've yet to explain my surfing experience. So come back and join me in a day or so and I'll continue!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Behind the Curtain

I’ve mentioned that I have an insatiable need to experience everything I possibly can. I’m not satisfied unless I feel like I’ve seen behind the curtain – like in the Wizard of Oz. Everything in life to me is like this amazing, intriguing thing on the outside and I just HAVE to go behind the scenes and see what’s REALLY going on.

And sometimes I do that knowingly. Like when I was little and we had a school carnival, which included a Haunted House. And I went through once and was freaked out. But I dropped something when I went through – I can’t remember now what it was, probably something important like my glasses (which I wouldn’t wear back then because HELLO! FOUR EYES! EW!) – and so I then had to go through the haunted tour BACKWARDS, and the goblins and witches were now concerned for me and were helping me find this thing I lost. Which was trippy for a little kid!

That’s really probably where this whole “I must see what’s really going on” obsession started. Because that not only cured my fear of those haunted house things, but when you’re in Elementary school and you get to “cut the line” and be personally escorted by a ghost, you start to feel powerful!

But there have been many times in my adult life where the realization slaps me in the face that I’ve Gone Behind The Curtain and didn’t stop to acknowledge it.

Like doing Advance. I’m sure I used to wonder what all that was like before I got the chance to learn the “inside baseball” (as so many D.C. staffers call it when you learn the Truth about how something’s being done). But you normalize stuff and quickly realize it’s not just Perfect People doing jobs like that. It’s freaks like me! Ha! Making mistakes like THIS!

Or now that I'm in grad school - which, like so many other things, happened in a weird way. And started because of a boy I dated. (there is seriously a pattern in my life...) - and I was laying by the pool recently and looked down at what I was reading. "The Transtheoretical Model and Stages of Change." Hmm, that almost sounds Smart and Important. I probably fantacized about being in higher education at some point in my life and reading about such things with 6 syllables.

But it's not Smart and Important. I mean the theory probably is, and the people who created the theory probably are. But I'm now scanning it just so I can get a high enough grade to pass this class. And I'm annoyed at having to do it during pool time!

Or take my job. I was a Business major in college. And I remember my 19 year old self fantasizing about one day sitting in a Power Suit around a boardroom table somewhere in Corporate America. And after I randomly fell into politics for several years, I became a consultant....which landed me in meetings around boardroom tables in Corporate America.

And it literally took years for me to one day realize I was exactly where I had fantasized about. It happened in such a round-about way I had missed it. And more than that, it wasn’t what I pictured. I sometimes hate meetings, because I have Other Work piling up at my desk so meetings can get in the way. And Power Suits are constricting! 90% of the time I leave my suit jacket on the back of my chair because I get too hot or feel like I can’t move my arms! And instead of everyone being Serious and Important in meetings, I get texts from bored coworkers across the table that say things like “Throw your pen at my eye and try to kill me...”

And don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I'm grateful I got accepted to grad school. And who doesn't love a good suit and heels? But I guess all this makes me not only step back and appreciate life but also realize that many things aren't the amazing, intriguing "Oz" things I make them out to be. At the end of the day:

It’s just a little nerd back there pulling strings.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunction

I can’t even believe I told various Running stories and forgot one of the best ones.

I mentioned I trained for a marathon for about 6 months. I did it with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program (See HERE for details – GREAT program) so every Saturday – rain-snow-or shine – me and a large group of others would run at 8am for anywhere from 4 to 20 miles.

And this was during the infamous “Snowpocalypse” of DC where we got more snow than we’ve ever had. I remember one run where my friend’s water bottle actually froze during the run, and one where I wasn’t sure my Mustang would make it back home on the roads because people were spinning out left and right.

And during our 18 miler, it rained the entire run and I learned the hard way that the jacket I was wearing had not gotten a thorough rinsing on its last spin through the wash- it foamed up. During the run. I had little bubbles all over my arms by the time I got back to my car...not crazy looking at all!

But I miraculously made it all the way through the season to our longest training run– the 20 miler – with really no major mishaps.

Then I had a freakishly unusual one. Surprised? Yeah, I wasn’t either...

I’m running with one of the girls I typically do long runs with and we get to around mile 11 or 13 and she wants to stop at a mini mart we are passing. And I hardly EVER stop on these runs. I’m slow enough as it is, I don’t need to waste more time using the restroom or anything so I try not to stop. But since she’s stopping, I stop. And since we’re there, I go ahead and use the restroom.

And that’s probably TMI but this story is too good not to share.

So the yoga pants I’m wearing are many years old and well-worn. And as I’m pulling them up -


Not just a little bit, but like a good 6-8 inch tear down the seam.


It tears the seam running along the INSIDE OF MY THIGH, starting a bit above my knee and going all the way up to...let’s just say another inch or so and everyone would ‘see London and see France...’

I don’t even know what to do. We are miles from our car and I don’t have money or anything. So I walk out, point out the incident in disbelief to my running partner – as if she couldn’t already see it – and I ask the cashier if he has anything to help me. Safety pins? (which wouldn’t have worked any way but I would’ve stapled the material to my leg at that point to get back to my car) Tape? He has nothing behind the register and the line of people in front of his counter starts building so he ignores us. So me and my friend look for tape down the aisles.

But we have no money.

So here’s where I sort of steal something. I’m not proud, but WHAT WOULD YOU DO?! So as the attendant is busy with his customers, I find a roll of Masking Tape and I sort of duck behind an aisle, peel off enough to wrap around my leg, tourniquet-style, and toss the tape back on the shelf and scurry out of the mini mart.

It looked similar to this:

Except the gaping hole in my clothing is not so much THERE, as it is HERE:

So now, my MacGyver’ed up pant leg is still sort of gaping, and I have tape wrapped around my upper thigh, but whatever. It’s working. Sort of. Except every couple minutes, the tape shifts and the hole starts gaping more. So I have to keep readjusting and it’s steadily rubbing a large area raw – on the inside of my thigh.

And around mile 18, we have the choice to just run straight to our cars or keep going another 2 miles, finishing the 20 miles we are supposed to do. And my friend decides to turn.

But I’m like – No Way. I’ve just ran the last 5-7 miles looking like Rambo, stopping every couple minutes to yank a hole closed on my pants, and chafing the inside of my leg – I AM FINISHING THIS.

So I run the last little bit, facing the weird looks of other runners (alone!) and I finally round the bend and come back to where my car is. And the stragglers that are left of my team start cheering for me, and then they see my leg and I have to explain myself. (And one teammate actually said “oh, I saw the tape but just figured it was some sort of circulation thing or something.” Wow. That's how crazy runners are.)

When I get home, my leg is chafed so badly I’m unable to run for the next week, making THAT my worst “injury” all season. Go figure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Commode

Another car story. My friend Adrian just reminded me that I haven’t written about my FIRST car, the Most Awesome Car In The World – a 1967 Chevy Camaro.

Fact you should know: I may be a 30-something female, but part of me is a 12 year old redneck boy. And while I do love a good spa day and fantastic shoes, I also enjoy things like four-wheeling, playing in mud…and Muscle Cars.

And I was trying to think if I have any good stories to tell about my time with The Commode. (My cousin nick-named it that for no apparent reason except for the fact that we lived in Tennessee and lots of things have nick-names for no apparent reason. In fact, I know several people, some are relatives, who I don’t actually know their real names. It’s a thing we do. Don’t judge.)

And there were definitely fun quirks about that car, like even though it was a ’67, it had a remote control changeable CD player.


Do you even know what that is?? That is like the FIRST CELL PHONE EVER. It was actually just a CAR PHONE, meaning, it can't leave the car because the equipment for it is in a bag, attached to the cigarette lighter. Before everyone and their child had a cell phone, I had a phone IN MY CAR people. I was the bomb. Not really, because I was only allowed to use it if I got lost on Tennessee backroads (which I did) or ran out of gas….which I DID, and THAT is what I’ll tell you about in a second.

But a couple quick separate stories first. So, the redneck boy in me liked to race other boys in THEIR cars and trucks. So I have different stories of like when my friend Mark took off beside me in his truck, which had a tool box in the bed that you open up in separate places using latches on either side. So as I’m leaving Mark in my dust, you could see those latches release themselves and his tool box open up like wings behind his cab. It made me laugh. And feel superior when he had to stop then.

Or I’d see my friend James in my rearview mirror in his 454 (for you non-redneck boys, that is a Fast Truck), while driving my neighbor to school, and I’d SLAM my pedal down on the floor, scaring my neighbor SENSELESS because he had NOT seen James coming up behind us.

And slamming my pedal to the floor isn’t always such a great idea, as I embarrasingly learned while attempting to race YET ANOTHER BOY in the parking lot at the public pool. And I’m starting from a dead stop. And I slam the pedal all the way down…

which floods the engine.

So I have to restart my car and I become the girl who “Green-horned an automatic” because green-horning is the term used for people who can’t drive stick-shifts, they just end up killing the engine while trying to get the car moving. And my car is not a stick-shift. I just apparently can’t drive at all.

And I mentioned that the car had funny inconsistencies like being old, yet having a cd player and air conditioning (that the previous owner had added). And it also had power steering, but my dad added that because Manual Steering is hard to turn with. And if you have a lot of turns, it can make a girl sweat on the way to high school - and HELLO! I can't be all sweaty when I arrive at school, DAD! (see, I'm also very Girl as well...) – so he got power steering installed. As well as it could be on a car that old. So the funny little thing about THAT was, if you turned the wheel too far:

It cut the engine.

Not that I know that from experience or anything…

But you also had to hit a button on the floor with your foot to dim or bright the headlights, which was fun, and the shifter didn’t have the usual P, R, D or whatever else the normal things are to tell you what you are shifting into. It had nothing. So you just had to KNOW what you were shifting into.

And after I drove it for awhile, the gauges started acting up. And one day, the whole car started acting a little strange, sluggish, jolting a little. And I wondered if I needed to get gas so I pulled into a gas station. But then I look at my gauges and think “I can’t really tell if I need gas because I don’t trust the gauge – and since my car is acting weird, what if I turn it off and can’t get it started again??”

So I don’t turn off the ignition, I pull right back out of the gas station and onto the main street towards home, which is uphill-

And my car promptly dies. From lack of gas. On a hill, a few feet from a gas station I JUST PULLED OUT OF.

So, in the end, the stories I have of my muscle car are pretty much like all my other stories: they end with someone looking at me amused, shaking their head in disbelief.

But man I loved that car. She looked exactly like this: Enjoy. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Event Planning for the President

Recently, someone called me an "Events Expert" at work because of a recent project I supported where I had to plan events. But I'm not an expert, that's not even what I typically do at my job, and the only reason I knew anything about it at all was because I got experience years ago with the Advance Team for President Bush.

The Advance Team basically manages events, coordinating everything from what the stage looks like to where to put the media to a whole slew of details you'd never think was someone's job to do, and they work with the Secret Service, Air Force One, etc. Once again, I'm not entirely sure how I got the privelege of being a small part of this team but like so many other things in my life -- it started with a boy I was seeing. And once again, my participation included less-than-graceful moments.

The Team has very few permanent members with a host of others, like myself, who just do events occasionally when they can. My first event ended up being in Anchorage, AK at a military base. And of course, I arrive all wide-eyed and naive, not knowing anything.

And at the first meeting the Team has, one of the guys from the Counter Assault Team (CAT) asked who the New Girl was. AKA the Baby Snow Ox. The one who doesn't know how to defend herself. And the next thing I know, the leader of the Secret Service team is pulling me aside to tell me to "NEVER DATE ONE OF US."

Ah. So there's more to learn about these events than just Where To Put The Flags. Duly noted.

And the rest of that week, we scurry around setting everything up and catching a little downtime in Anchorage. And it's bad form to announce to people that the President is on his way and you work for him. So when a local asked one of the Team what he did, I hear him say that he "worked in Real Estate."

Lesson two: try to avoid that question all together since I try not to lie and even if I did, I would definitely fumble around and blurt out something like "I fold blimps! I'm a blimp folder! That's what my career is! I promise!"

So I'm bonding with the different members of the Team, even the CAT guy that was sniffing around about me on the first day. And when Game Day arrives (the day the President arrives for the actual event) I'm taken aback to see everyone in their Big Boy Clothes. These guys that I've been hanging out with for a week are now dressed in black, wearing guns, and frowning. And I accidentally cross paths with my CAT guy in a back hallway and he is SO SCARY with a giant anti-something or other weapon strapped to him and he looks serious. I start to feel wide-eyed again...

And I walk up to the guy who's been training me and he goes "You aren't going to freak out on me are you? Because I had a girl freak out on me on Game Day and I made her go sit in a corner."

No sir. I'm so not going to freak out. That is SO not in MY nature - OH! MY! GOSH! I totally forgot to place a sign right where the President is about to come in - a sign that tells him where to go.

So I scramble to get that fixed, and kind of step back to just relax for a second and I turn - And there stands The President. He's just - right there. He's already here. I'm standing by him.

And I instantly feel like I shouldn't be. Like, there are other people who Know What They Are Doing - THEY should be near him, not me. So I scurry through the crowd to attend to other duties.

And besides a cell phone strapped to me, I also have an EAR PIECE. Like, the cool Secret Service looking Ear Pieces. With a wire that runs down to my jacket cuff so I get to talk into my wrist and say things like "Go for Dana, we're at Alpha" I. Am. Excited about this.

But then it becomes a job. Because I'm scanning the crowd, responding to people in my ear, taking calls, and at one point I'm literally herding a group of inner-city school children THROUGH the crowd, UNDER a fence-like thing to get to the back of the stage because - Hey! We just decided Mrs. Bush should meet them! Right now! Behind the stage! Can you do that Dana?!

So my delusions of grandeur desolve as I'm climbing under a barrier in my suit and heels, and motioning for a train of adolescents to follow. Yep. Very professional.

THEN, I get a call that someone wants to give the President a gift and that I need to come outside (and did I mention we are in Alaska? And there's snow and ice on the ground? And I'm in heels?)

So now I'm pushing through the crowd, answering calls on my ear piece, answering calls on my cell phone, trying not to slip and fall, waving a friendly hello to my now-scary Sniper friend on the roof, and I finally get to this Gift Man. And you know what he wants me to give to the President?

A Knife.

And now I feel like I'm being punked. Seriously sir?! You bring a knife to give to the President? Not a security hazard at all. Good thing I wasn't already frazzled!

In the end, everything worked out and I went on to do some other events for the President and First Lady, including one at the Pentagon where I saw the head of my Team frantically turn down a hallway - and ram right into the Vice President.

I told him to go sit in a corner.

Ha! No I didn't. But all in all, I think my first event went pretty well because at least THAT didn't happen to me.

And I've never dated a Secret Service agent since, either. :)

(The current White House team did a video HERE if you want to see more on what the Advance Team does)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More Mustang Fun

I'll take a break from the dating stories for a bit before men stop going out with me out of fear they'll be my new material. AKA before I become the Taylor Swift Of Blogging.

And we'll go back to Car Stories! Because I have a lot of those too.

I love cars, and I love to drive, and I pride myself on navigating city traffic aggressively...defensively. But I will admit that my Goldfish Poodledom takes over from time to time and I get distracted and have mishaps. One such incident happened a few years ago.

I was heading to Capitol Hill with two friends - Rod, the other Goldfish Poodle, and Brian, my Couch Dweller,

Couch Dweller: (/kouCH/dwel'er): One who sleeps on your couch and pays you some money each month, benefitting both parties because DC housing is so expensive it necessitates cramming people into apartments like clown cars. [We've all had one, or been one, at some point.]

and we are all in the middle of discussing where we are going when one of the boys tells me to just turn left. And in my distracted state, I immediately obeyed and turned left.

From the inside lane of the street.

Into a taxi cab on my left.

And I never realized before that there is some sort of Taxi Mafia in this city but I can't even tell you how many other cabs stopped to "make sure everything was ok". I guess they thought I would try to blame him for the accident? I pictured myself forever shunned, unable to get a cab to stop for me ever again because They Would Know I was That Girl. In any case, it was obviously my fault and thankfully did little damage to his car. My car, on the other hand, now had half the bumper hanging off.

So we settle things with the taxi driver and he leaves, and me and the boys are trying to figure out how to keep driving to our destination. And because this is DC and nothing is unusual, we see what looks like a t-shirt randomly laying on the sidewalk with no owner.

So now the boys are TYING my bumper back on with a T-SHIRT and we continue with our night. The next day, I drive to work.

At the White House.

The place where I embarrased myself HERE when I locked my keys in the car and another time when I accidentally hit the giant concrete barrier thing you are to wait in front of while a dog sniffs your car for explosives. The barrier thing sinks into the ground after the check is over -- I didn't wait long enough and basically high-centered my car on it, to the AMAZEMENT of Secret Service...

So NOW I drive in with my front bumper TIED ON WITH A T-SHIRT. And I'm SURE these guys are like "seriously, how did this girl get a job here..." and they feel sorry for me and offer to help:

by RIPPING my bumper completely off and shoving it in my backseat.

So I spent the next day or so driving around with a torn-up front end and a bumper in my back seat until I was able to get it fixed.

That poor car went through a lot more before I finally traded it in, including a denting in the roof from when I didn't realize a garage door wasn't ALL the way up... and many dents from where I participated in one of DC drivers' favorite pastimes: "Parking By Braille" (aka "tapping" the cars around you until you finally fit in a spot.)

I'm on my fourth car now and trying to do a better job of taking care of it but if you see me on the road, you might want to steer clear, just in case.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DC Dating Part Three

I know I'm posting too much, but I've had too much coffee and remembering these stories just makes me laugh and want to share.

Breakfast Date:
So months ago, I met a guy and we decided to go out. Then as we are making plans, he says “Want to meet for coffee tomorrow morning?”

Hmm. Never had a Saturday Morning date, but sure.

Then he says – in Woodbridge? Where he lives. Far from where I live, in DC-metro terms. So the Southern Belle part of me rises up to say “um, I’m the girl, I’m not driving to you” but I get ragged on by my friends for being too picky so I think: It’s ok, I’ll give this guy a chance.... Even though he’s wrong.

Then I passive-aggressively try to change his mind.

I say something like “Oh, haha, well I don’t really know that area well since it’s like 40 minutes away so just let me know where to go”

He doesn’t get the hint. And he says Panera. How romantic.

So I’m like “oh, ok, sure...I'll google it..." *grinning through gritted teeth*

So he sends me his OWN form of directions and it goes something like this:

Take this exit, go FIFTEEN miles, it’s on the left.

I get off the exit. It’s 1 mile. On the right.

So I text him like “Are there TWO Paneras?” And again, he doesn’t even get it and after I explain where I went, he’s all “Yeah. That’s the one.” No apology. No acknowledgement that he was trying to send me deeper into suburbs where I don’t belong.

When I get there, he gets out of his car and immediately tells me he was listening to renaissance music and that he loves renaissance fairs. Neat. Already have bad feelings about this.

And I quickly regret listening to my friends’ voices in my head and vow to return to my picky ways and gut instincts. This is so not going to be worth the drive.

But at least he’s attractive. And tall. Very important because I’m 5’8 and men in DC are shorter than that. ALL OF THEM.

And quick related side note here: I’ve joked with my other tall friends about how people will just randomly say “You’re tall!” Like, what do you say to that? "You have two eyes!" or "Thank you..?"

Anyway, Breakfast Date and I get our coffee and pastries – he pays at least – and we’re making conversation and he knows I sang in a band. And here’s how the date went after that.

- He asked me about singing in a band no less than four times, kept steering the conversation back to that, and finally asked if he could find videos online of me singing.

- He asked if we sang any Pat Benetar. Then proceeded to hum/sing Hit Me With Your Best Shot.

- He asked if we sang Free Bird

-He asked what my favorite song was and when I said "Starlight" by Muse, he said "like, ‘Starlight, Starbright’?" The nursery rhyme....

- I learn he has a baby-mama and an 8 year old in New York.

- We talked about travel and he said he was giant in Korea. When we got up to leave, no joke, he says:

“You’re tall!”

And I just reply "Yep. I'd be a giant in Korea...." and walk to my car and never talk to him again.

DC Dating Part Two

I mentioned in my Emails post that Date Recall and I actually did go out and had a mishap on the date. It really wasn't all that crazy but more just another piece of evidence that I'm bad luck. The abridged version is this:

He impresses me by taking me on a private tour of an important building in DC.

While we are there - and we aren't supposed to be - I see something that has happened in said building that he should actually report... But that would mean admitting we were there...oops.

I actually don't remember how he explained himself to his supervisors, but we never went out again. He probably didn't think I was worth the risk of the random things that would undoubtedly keep happening to him if we continued to date.

So that wasn't really much of a story in the end. But I do enjoy another one:

The Family Discount Story.

Years ago I met a guy, we’ll call him Chase, through a friend and Chase eventually asked me out to dinner... Then it was reduced to “meeting up casually with friends”... Then it was cancelled altogether. And he didn't call me again.

That all happened week one.

Week two, my two guy friends decide that we should all go to this restaurant in Arlington that I never go to.

And Chase ends up being our waiter.

And I’m sure it MUST'VE looked like I went there to show him that I was with guys, or that I was stalking him or something. And as soon as he came over my face INFLAMED and I couldn't stop giggling from embarrassment. Then, of course, the guys had to hear the whole story, which I'm sure Chase knew I was telling, then they joked about embarrassing me by saying things like "Ok, ask him out already, you begged us to come here!!" It was torture for me and in the end, Chase gave us his FAMILY DISCOUNT on our meals.

My friends said it was out of guilt. Ouch.

Week 3: Chase calls and asks me out again.

What the ??

At least, I think he asked me out. Again. The evening went something like this:

Chase calls, leaves no message. I break my rule of not replying to a no-message-call and I text him around 10pm with:

"Sup - did you call? Thanks for the discount by the way :)"

He says something like: "Join me after work tomorrow but I can't promise the same discount".

Huh? So am I buying my own way? Then he says he'll pick me up. So is this a date again?

After that, I decided dating needs a Color Code System. Red if you are not meeting someone at all. Yellow if you are meeting as friends. Green if you are meeting as a date.

Even if the date is at PANERA, which I'll recount in my next post...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DC Dating

You may have read my Baby Snow Ox episode where my work life and school life all came crashing down on me one day a couple weeks ago. What I didn't mention is I also squeezed in a date that evening. Because work craziness and assignments due by midnight that I hadn't even started weren't enough to fill my day.

The date was great, starting with dinner and ending with an impromptu cruise on the Potomac river. Well, it was really a water taxi but since I had a "curfew", we hopped on the taxi, went to National Harbor, and came back. Our own poor man's cruise. I love spontaneity so it was great. Except for the part where I'm starting to feel the pressure of my assignments but still thought it wouldn't hurt to hop off the boat for two minutes while it was still unloading. The easily confused teen on the dock promised us the boat actually drops off one place, but picks up passengers just down the harbor. And he pointed as if "just down the harbor" was like - 20 feet from us.

So we get off and prepare to walk a few feet and get right back on our "cruise" when we see the boat pull away from the dock.

And keep going.

So now I'm panicking because - Podcast due! Paper due! Have to rant on a discussion board for class by midnight! And I'm wondering if I can swim back to our car when we finally see the boat appear to pull back towards the shore- way farther down then we expected. Thankfully after power-walking over there, we did manage to get back on and get home.

But if we hadn't, I so wouldn't have been surprised.

I've had some spectacularly bad dating experiences. This will probably need to be a series of posts to include them all. Or, I might need to start a new blog devoted to my mishaps - "DC Dating Disasters!" or simply "Give It Up And Just Buy Cats"....

I'll tell one of my favorites here though. My boyfriend several years ago, we'll call him "Mark", broke up with me. And I was sad. So I said yes when another "Mark" (they did have the same name) asked me out. And I met both Marks because of the band I was singing in at the time. So one night, the other singer arranged a get together at a restaurant in Arlington so New Mark and I could have a sort of group date and get to know eachother.

New Mark is kind of a strange guy. Nice. But a little socially awkward.

So a group of us are sitting around when one of the singer's friends walks in and joins us. And he was the best friend of Old Mark. So I'm instantly feeling nauseous. No way. There's No Way Old Mark would possibly end up...

Oh HEY Old Mark! Why yes, why WOULDN'T you sit right beside me? Not awkward at all.

So now I'm a Mark Sandwich, with Awkward New Mark making weird comments on my left, and Probably-Smug Old Mark hearing it all on my right. At one point, New Mark is desperately trying to keep the conversation afloat and compliments me. And I'm wearing shorts. So he says:

You have nice quads.

And that's the point where I blacked out from humiliation because who SAYS that to a girl? And Old Mark gets to WATCH me endure a date with this awkward guy, so I just got out of there as fast as I could.

Then the leader of our band changed my bio online to read "Dana loves Unicorns, Republicans, and dating guys named Mark." Sigh.

Next episode of Dana's Dating life will include the story of when a guy blew me off, then gave me a Family Discount at the restaurant he waitered at...

You're welcome for making you feel better about your own dating life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bienvenido a Miami

So my trip ended up being fairly normal with lots of tanning and seeing the nightlife, which included this:

....so maybe not ENTIRELY normal. But compared to most of my travel, this was uneventful and the craziest stuff actually happened BEFORE we got there.

The planning for this trip began in 2010. So we've had a long time to get ready. And we all booked a hotel through LivingSocial because it seemed like a great deal. We booked the flight and hotel during my grad school finals so I was brain dead and my friend *Rachel kindly offered to book everything for me.

Fast forward a month or two to last Monday, and we are scheduled to leave on Thursday. A few of us that are going on the trip are all hanging out and one persons says "Yeah, can you believe *Joe thought all you had to do to get the hotel was buy the voucher? He asked if we also had to call the hotel!" And we all laugh because that's just silly, of course you'd also have to.... WAIT.

Rachel and I look at eachother. We didn't call either. Um, let's do that tomorrow, just to make sure we have a room.

We didn't.

Thankfully, they still had rooms available so we got that squared away and I'm looking for Rachel's email about our flights. And I can't find anything. And she says the confirmation was sent to me. During Finals. AKA - It is now in a black hole because I was rocking in the fetal position at that time and probably deleted several emails in a blind rage just to feel powerful.

So I'm like "ok, what airline was it, I'll just call them?" Rachel says it was booked through Cheaptickets and she can't remember.


And about this time, I vaguelly remember her saying, back during finals, that she just guessed on my birthdate for the ticket because they needed it right then. And a couple months later, that finally sunk in.

I used to work for part of the Government that deals with air travel safety. I'm pretty sure they frown on the fact that your license doesn't match your ticket. Frown to the point of possibly detaining you and keeping you from flying.

So now I have two problems.

Long story short, we finally figured out which airline it was and I call them and they ask what flight I'm on. I say - it's tomorrow. They ask what time. I don't even know.

In the end, they find my ticket and I'm explaining to the lady that I need to change my birthdate, and she is all "oh look! Your friend put you down as a year younger than you are, that was nice! haha"

Ha! Oh that is nice. Don't we all want to be younger? Ha Ha. Oh hey - can we focus and fix my ticket now so I can actually get on my plane maybe?...

So we got all that settled and get to the airport the next day. Where Rachel realizes, at the ticket counter, that her ID is in her beach bag. At home.

And she desperately tries to convince the ticket agent that "look! I have credit cards! with my name on them! Clearly I'm not lying!" but nothing works. So then I'm left sitting in the airport starbucks surrounded by both our luggage while she's nervously texting from a cab "Now I feel like I'm on the Amazing Race..."

She makes it back and we are getting our tickets and mine says "Danal" and her's has an extra vowel at the end. NOW what!? We are never getting to Miami....

I finally realize the computer squished our first names and middle initial together so it's fine. And as the agent yells "Danal?" at me, I'm too tired to even correct him and I just embrace it with "yeah that's me" and hand him my bag.

Then Rachel and I get seated in different places on the plane. The boy on my left is a self-proclaimed "unaccompanied minor!" who keeps offering me mints and gum, making me self-conscience about my breath, and the man to my right immediately informs me he doesn't speak English. Then he starts touching his arm and saying something I don't understand. You want to know the time? You're a firefighter who burned your arm saving someone and you don't want me touching it? You are telling me you'll be hogging the armrest?

I never figured it out but he did hog the armrest. While singing out loud to his iPod. In Spanish.

We finally get to Miami and the trip went fairly smoothly after that except a few bumps like NO GOOD AIR CONDITIONING- ANYWHERE! And I go out the first night with a few guys from our group and another guy on our trip shows up about midnight, fresh off the plane from San Francisco.

And he made it all the way there with no ID.

*the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Or, rather, the people who probably don't want to be associated with me on a public blog. AKA all my friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Birds of Chaos

Last spring, my friend had a "destination birthday" and I and about a dozen of his friends flew to Turkey and Greece to celebrate his 30th. It was a fantastic trip, I'd highly recommend Istanbul, but I woke up this morning laughing at one incident on one of the Greek isles.

We were near the end of our trip and a group of us were lazily enjoying the oceanview from a restaurant. It felt like paradise and my friend Gina and I were soaking it all on when all of a sudden one of us stopped, "OH my GOSH!!!"

And in the middle of all this peacefulness, way out on the water was a large fishing boat - and the real-life enactment of some kind of scene from an Alfred Hitchcock film. BIRDS! SWARMING! I have never seen anything like it and I wish I had a photo but picture this:

but on water. Around a ship.

For whatever reason, this juxtaposition of peaceful paradise and whatever the heck the poor people on that ship were experiencing, made us giggle the rest of the day.

We were supposed to leave for home the next day but major rioting caused our flight to be cancelled. Along with most other modes of transportation in Athens. And since we didn't have anything else to do (and because I Always Have To Be Where The Action Is) - we went to watch the riots.

Here's where being curious will get you tear-gassed. I've never seen anything like this in all the protests I've seen, or participated in, in D.C. These people are ANGRY. They are setting EVERYTHING on fire; riot police are shooting out tear-gas left and right; people keep passing us with chalky, tear-stained faces; and they bomb a few banks around the square we are in, killing some of there own citizens.

And of course, I have to get closer. So while people who have just been gassed are running AWAY, I start to walk IN, until Gina strongly suggests we leave the area for a little while.

So we did - and the rest of that city was like nothing was happening. You'd go down a peaceful street full of shops and restaurants, then turn the corner and see the war-zone scene again in the square. It was crazy. We went back in and took more photos:

And Gina starts uploading photos to Facebook, because this thing is crazy!, and one of our friends on the trip, Karl, sees the uploads.

From the cozy Athens internet cafe HE has spent the day in.

So then Karl is all "WHAT THE -?!" because HIS day has been extremely peaceful, catching up on emails while sipping lattes. Then he looks on Facebook and sees that other people, ON HIS SAME TRIP, just went to war a few blocks over.

At the end of the day, when we all thankfully made it back safely, Gina and I start giggling again because we realize: Karl was that picture-perfect lunch on the island the day before.

And we were the ship being swarmed by birds.

I'm leaving for a short trip to Miami tomorrow (incidentally, ANOTHER "destination birthday" for someone's 30th) and I sincerely hope it is more paradise, less birds.

I'll let you know.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When Emails Go Bad

This morning, I got a forwarded email at work from a guy we'll call Joe that says "I think this was meant for you." And the original email is from another coworker and started off saying "I don't think you need to invite Joe to the meeting. You know more about the subject matter...."

Apparently, the author got confused and since he had just typed Joe's name, he must've also typed it in the To: line. Awkward.

This is the danger with emails, isn't it? Either accidentally sending to the wrong person, or BCC'ing someone you shouldn't, or forgetting to change the subject line, etc...

My friends and I have had, or witnessed, several debaucles through the years. I've seen people intend to send a message to someone else about a top U.S. official, only to accidentally send to the listserve of that entire organization...including said Official. I've seen a Communications staffer email, from a White House email account, a cartoon of President Bush in a flight suit to a friend, jokingly, with just the word "Hot."

Except she accidentally added the email address of a reporter as well.

I've seen replies to Mass Emails at work that last for DAYS because everyone continues to Reply All, only to say "please stop replying to all". And these are supposedly Really Smart People. Hmm.

And, I personally have made mistakes like the time I had to dis-invite a guy to an event. I'm not going to explain why because you'll probably think I'm a horrible person no matter what, but in any case, I ran the email first by my friend to get her seal of approval on how I delivered the news. After she reviewed and sent back to me, I forwarded it to the guy, erasing her stuff.

But what didn't I erase? The subject line I had sent to her that said "Hey, do you think this sounds bad?"


But, I've also been the victim of email mishaps so what goes around comes around. Years ago, a nice Diplomatic Security agent emailed me to ask me out.

A few minutes later: He recalled the email.

And maybe it would've stung if I was really into this guy, but all I could do was burst out laughing, forward to my friend, and ask "Did I really just get RECALLED on a DATE?!"

In the end, he had some excuse, that I can no longer remember, for the glitch and he actually did mean to ask me out (and we did go out, where we had ANOTHER glitch, that I'll relay some other time) but I've loved having that incident in my portfolio of Dating Mishaps.

Moral of the story - double check before you hit Send...or Recall.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Because I hadn't done it before

I had a dream last night involving a group of friends I like to go on adventures with and it reminded me of real-life experiences with them. One planned a trip to Iceland with me at a moment's notice, I spent a week in Nicaragua with three of them, and all of them spent a weekend with me a few years ago in exotic...Pigeon Forge, TN.

That may not sound like much of an adventure, but we went there specifically to do this:

That is a Zorb. And there are places you can pay to get in one and roll down a hill. And since my favorite justification for most of my weird ideas is - "Because I haven't done it before. Obviously.", I proceeded to recruit friends for ZORBAPALOOZA 2008.

I'm actually from Tennessee and am very familiar with Pigeon Forge and all it's cheesy, southern, touristy glory. So just taking a group of my urban DC friends there was adventure enough. They giggled at the accents and said things in awe like "I never knew a place like this EXISTED!" But the main reason we went was to try Zorbing.

There are about 8 of us that go, and as our car (the Girl Car) rounds the bend, we look over to the right and see a hillside full of what look like Human-size Gerbil Balls. Then we look in front of us (at The Boy Car) and see four arms simulateously shoot out of windows in a collective "YES!" fist pump of excitement. We have arrived.

And apparently, all you need to create a Zorbing place is:
1. A hill
2. A few Zorb "Wranglers" - aka, kids to push you down the hill
3. Zorbs. Which cost about $10,000 a piece.

And you can go down "wet" or "dry". Dry, you get harnassed in and flip over and over with the Zorb. Wet, you get thrown in with some water, and up to two other friends, and slip around in the zorb all the way down the hill.

I did a dry run first. I kept my eyes open, thinking I'd see the whole hillside on my roll. But instead, it quickly became a never-ending series of - Grass!...Sky!...Grass!...Sky! As the Zorb BOUNCES, taking you along for the ride against your will. It feels violent and I start giggling uncontrollably. But to my friends, taking video, it just looks like a smooth roll with something inside that sounds like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh every 2 seconds. That video shall not be viewed here.

My giggling DID finally cease, however, when my Grass! Sky! series became Brown Wood! Sky! which I figured meant I was about to stop, since this is where the ride should end:

...But then I see Grass! again. So I immediately fear I've somehow JUMPED the ending, and am careening towards my friends instead. So my Tigger-like "hoo hoos!" give way to panic. But then I stop here instead and everything is fine afterall:

Everything is fine, that is, until our last Wet Run. Here's where having a friend who is 6'7, his sister who is probably 5'9, and myself in a giant ball with water is not such a great idea. We all have giraffe limbs and I'm surprised one of us didn't end up with a black eye.

But you know what we did end up with?

A popped Zorb.

Like, the $10,000 Zorb.

At a place where no one has popped a Zorb before. We are THAT good.

In fairness, it wasn't our fault. After we squeezed ourselves into the Zorb and are waiting like excited Poodles to start our decent, we feel the Zorb Wrangler give a shove....then we don't move. He shoves a couple more times, then backs up a few feet and takes a running lunge, shouldering us out of the cattle gate we need to push through to get started.

So I'm happily hoo hoo'ing again, dodging elbows, heads, knees, etc. and we get to the end where they typically take a photo of you in the Zorb before you exit (which looks creepily similar to how babies come into the world so there will be no video of THAT here either). And instead of a photo, the Wranglers anxiously motion for us to Get Out. And of course, I'm all "but what about our phot..." "Get Out!! No Photo"

Turns out, on that last shove through the gate, the Zorb had snagged and was steadily losing air all the way down. While I was dejected at the loss of a photo op, the Wranglers were fearing our suffocation.

Death-risk and all, I'd absolutly do it again. But before I do, there's several other weird things on my list (Volcano Surfing, Riding Elephants through Thailand, running Tough Mudder where you get hit by electric shocks...) because: I haven't done those things before.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Run Fun

This morning, I completed my fourth Richmond 10k Trail Race around Brown's Island. I love this race because it has so many different things to keep you occupied. Much of it is on a narrow trail in the woods but every so often you have to run through a stream, or across a giant dry riverbed full of boulders, or scramble up the side of a hill, etc. I ran it with two friends and I joked at the start that I should stick with the man wearing a shirt that had a picture of a turtle and the motto "Start Slow and Taper Off." Instead, I somehow ended up starting the race with a Richmond City Council member and an over-eager Department of Health worker chatting him up. He joked that he was "drafting" me and called us the "Fastest of the Slowest runners". That man eventually passed me....and I found myself behind Turtle Shirt halfway through....

But every time I run a race, I can't help but remember my first substantial distance run: a 1/2 marathon in Virginia Beach several years ago. My friend Rebekah and I had really not trained at all for it and doubted we'd even finish when race day came. We kept ourselves distracted for a good few miles just joking about how far we thought we could actually go and then making up ridiculous "ratios" that made no sense but kept us entertained. "If we do a 1/1 (meaning run 1 mile, walk 1 minute) for the first 5k (3-ish miles), and a 2/1 (this time meaning, run 2 minutes, walk one) for 1 mile, and a 1/2 for the next 2 miles...." we actually made it to mile 7 without taking any walk breaks because we were so busy trying to do math while giggling at how RIDICULOUS it was to act like we were actually going to finish at all.

At that point, the sun hit me like kryptonite and I melted to a walk while Rebekah continued on. I caught up to her, and we actually finished the race by alternating between walking and running every mile after that. Around mile 11: I got overzealous with hydration. In the last quarter mile: I got overzealous with "finishing strong". If you've ever ran, you probably see where this is going. As I crossed the finish (and this is being videotaped), I turned to my left to slap hands with Rebekah.

Then turned to my right to vomit.

After that, we limped back to the guys' house we were staying at and they proceeded to try to be good tour guides of Virginia Beach. "You guys want to walk around?" "Go shopping?" "Jet ski??"

We made a half-attempt to look excited, but in the end it came across more like "You know what we've heard is the BEST thing to do in Virginia Beach?? SIT."

In retrospect, it was probably pretty silly to do a 1/2 marathon without training, but I'm afraid it's been more of a standing challenge for me. Like, "if I can do that without training, just imagine what other kinds of vomit-inducing activities I can barely make it through!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Less than a week until Miami!

Well-known fact about me - I love to travel. The unfortunate thing is, I also hate flying. I'm too tall to fit well in coach, I can never sleep, and with every bit of turbulence, I'm convinced a wing is falling off. And my biggest fear in life is being bored. So if I'm taking a long trip, I'll spend weeks planning what else I can fit in a carry-on, just in case. "I MAY want to knit a sweater...it'd be tragic if the urge hit and I didn't take those needles..."

Next week, I'm heading to Miami for a friend's birthday. Thankfully, the trip is not long and should be on a large enough plane to where I don't have to see someone manually start up propellers before we take off. I HAVE been on such planes before going between DC and Tennessee. Below is an old (emphatic!) post likely about one of those trips. We'll see if the Miami trip runs a little more smoothly...

July 11, 2005
(And I was apparently "listening to: Music From The O.C. Mix 4"....Laugh all you want, but that show had excellent taste in music...)

Little Planes

Hate them. I hit my head on the overhead compartments EVERY TIME and any time you have to move TWO people from the front to the back just to TAKE OFF -- the plane is too small. Seriously- two people? They didn't even specify how big the people needed to be. So really, perhaps 200lbs in the wrong strategic location could make or break our take off? NO ONE BETTER GET UP TO USE THE BATHROOM or I will FREAK OUT.

And, in my crazy haste this weekend I completely forgot that I stuck my parking ticket in my change pouch, so when my pouch got too full, I just took all the papers out and stuck them - WHO KNOWS WHERE!? So I have to sit at Dulles and take EVERYTHING OUT OF MY SUITCASE in front of EVERYONE and try to find that stupid thing because at this point, I don’t even know what lot my car is in. In the end - I had put it in my SHOWER BAG. What the-? What would possess me to look at bottles of shampoo and body wash and think "that's a good place to store papers"? It was the last place I looked and sure enough the parking ticket was in there. I found it just in time to hurl my luggage onto YET ANOTHER CONTRAPTION AT DULLES which takes me to my car lot. But is the bus stop IN the lot, and the actual lot itself, named the same? No no, that would be too easy. So I glance outside just in time to realize that while my car is in lot FOURTEEN I actually need to get off at the NUMBER THREE stop. Finally, I'm able to exit this strange "people mover", full of cocky business men actually uttering phrases like "I'm going to light him up as soon as I get to a place where I can use bad language" and adolescents carrying HOCKY STICKS that their mom calmly warns them not to KILL ANYBODY with, and drive home.

You gotta love air travel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baby Snow Oxen and Goldfish Poodles....

There is a myth that goldfish only have a three-second memory span and every lap of their fishbowl is like seeing the world for the first time. My friend Rod and I joke that we stay so frazzled that we often live our lives that way too. We are also easily excited (I blame that on coffee, I think Rod's energy is more Sweet Tea-induced....) so our friend Amy likens us to anxious Poodles. Which created the title "Goldfish Poodles" to describe us during the frequent moments when we have No Idea Where We Are But We Are Excited About It.

Contrastly, my friend Caitlin recently described a Nature Channel piece on Yaks (which she likes to call "Snow Oxen"), which showed the tragic events that take place when a baby doesn't make it into the protective herd huddle and is left to bleat sadly until it's demise at the mouth of wolves.

This week, I've been that Baby Snow Ox.

It would take too long to describe in detail what happened to me at work but it went something like this:

Me, 2 weeks ago: "Do you have edits to this really important document?"
Them, 2 weeks ago: "Eh, add a space here. That's all"
Me, Monday: And - SEND.
Them, Tuesday: "I actually do have edits - please see your really important document ALL COVERED IN RED with multiple questions you need to research and please write War And Peace but fit it into the length of The Cat In The Hat. That's all"
Me, Last night, delirious: ...aaand....re...send....zzzzz
Them, this morning: "You say you resent it? I only see this old version...we'll have to put this really important presentation on hold until we find the other version"
Me: *Head Hits Table*

Simultaneously, yesterday I had 2 homework assignments due, which, because I'm a Goldfish Poodle, I didn't fully grasp until...well, yesterday:

1. For the first class, I was to Read 6 chapters of a book I had yet to receive in the mail, and write a speech. I winged it. And got the book today.
2. I lazily glance at the workplan for my other class and see that there is some mythical schedule stating which students need to submit Podcasts on the Readings each week. And oh look! I was scheduled for this week! And it's due by midnight! Guess I need to figure out what a Podcast is! ....and buy a microphone....

Sigh. I finished everything around 2 am and got up to make a presentation. So currently, I feel like I've been run over. Or, eaten by wolves. But it's ok, because in a second I'll reset and be excited again.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mustang Sally

You all may have read the account of the time I reported my Mustang ("Sally", of course. She looked similar to this:)

stolen after forgetting I had driven it to the gym. But that wasn't the last time I'd report that car stolen.

Many of you know that I miraculously landed my first job out of college at The White House. Trust me, this was God's doing, because I actually had to ask someone who Dick Cheney was when he walked past me shortly after I got to DC. I was THAT oblivious about politics and this career path literally fell in my lap in spite of myself. Anyway, during my 2nd week on my job - where I'm trying desperately to act smart and capable - my car gets stolen from Union Station. And the joys do not end there.

I'll back up to when I parked to begin with. I was awaiting my official parking pass to use the garage at work, so I parked at Union Station and took the metro. That morning, as I parked next to BMWs and Mercedes, I looked at my steering wheel "Club" and thought, "I'm being paranoid. Who is going to pick the Ford to steal?" and I put the Club in my trunk.... When I got back that evening, my car was gone.

And the police and insurance company gave me no hope of recovering it since they believed it'd be sold to a chop shop immediately, so I got a rental car through my insurance. By then, I could use the garage at work - which is valet. So you drive down into the garage, then just exit your car with the key in it and the (mean!) garage attendant parks it for you. Easy enough! I jump out and walk across the street to my office, get through Secret Service, up the elevator, to my desk...where my phone is blinking.

And on the voicemail, is an IRATE message from the garage attendant YELLING something difficult to understand. But I hear "key in the car" and I hear "you locked the doors"....

So I scurry back over to find a LINE of White House staffer cars behind mine who can't get in the garage, and I have to face Mean -Now Livid- Garage Man, and call a locksmith.

And you know what is easier to break into than my generic rental car? ABSOLUTELY EVERY OTHER CAR IN THE WORLD. I can't even remember the model, it was something akin to a Ford Probe, and the locksmith is DUMBFOUNDED. He CAN NOT break into this bad boy and he even tells me how he's had no problems with high-end vehicles, how there are certain points in a car you can compromise, but nope! Not this one! This one has thought of EVERYTHING and you can not break in.

So he breaks the door handle to finally help me. On. My. Rental.

And at this point, I'm feeling so embarrassed/frightened that I would've smashed the window and slid in Dukes of Hazzard style if it would get Garage Man to stop glaring at me. So I pay the guy. And walk back to my office.

And since I'm still trying to put on a charade of dependability, I begin to brief my boss on the day's tasks. And she stops me. "What's wrong with you? You've broken out in hives."

I didn't even know I COULD break into hives, but apparently red splotches had creeped up my neck towards my face as I'm trying to suppress the stress of the morning.

And I burst into tears and explain the whole thing.

Thankfully, my boss was a very cool lady and everything worked out. My dad came to help me finagle the handle back on my rental before returning it and my insurance settled with me for a good amount and I bought another Mustang.

Then they found my old one.

Apparently, punk teens had just taken it for a joy ride and abandoned it in an alley in DC. I was even able to go to the impound lot and recover what belongings (which is another story for later) they hadn't taken with them. But guess what they did take?

My Club.

Oh sweet irony.....

Monday, June 6, 2011

From the Vault- An unusually witty guy in Adams Morgan

In looking through posts from my old blog, I came across this and HAD to share with the world, it was just too good.

While I was out one Saturday night with one of my best DC friends, Sean, and my good friend Laura who was visiting from Philly, I ended up meeting a nice Marine named Jason. His friend, Peter, then starting chatting with Laura, whom Sean later had to run interference for because Laura was not interested. But the email the next day from Peter to Laura was priceless. Enjoy:

Monday, July 25, 2005
Currently Listening To: The Will to Live, By Ben Harper
Actual email from my Saturday night guy's wingman to my wingwoman:

Might admit a shade of regret at having had to appear so early at the office this morning. I thought you were provocative, intoxicating - and found that the interminable time in which it usually takes Jason to realize that he can't have a so-called afterparty at his parents' house passed more sweetly next to you. You were gorgeous. And I'm glad that the hand I found behind your back - male, rough, and somewhat large - turned out to not have been yours. Peter

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Internal Homing Device strikes again

As I've mentioned, I often have weird run-ins with people I know or am connected to. Like the time I was sent from DC to Louisiana to help out with the response efforts for Hurricane Katrina and was told I'd be living on a music tour bus because there were no hotels. (some of the busses had just come off Ozzfest, so us Federal employees really weren't sure what this was going to entail...) Incidentally, that was the 2nd time I stayed on a tour bus, the first being when my Tennessee friends let me go on the road with them briefly while they played bluegrass around the country. I sold merchandise during their shows and slept three bunks up in the bus and had to scramble up like a spider monkey every time I went to bed. But enough about that.

Long story short, I started talking to the driver of the bus I lived on in Louisiana and we realized we both were friends with that band I had been on the road with. In fact, THEIR driver, who also happened to be one of my ex boyfriend's uncles, was actually in my Louisiana bus driver's cell phone contact list. Pretty random.

Anyway, many times, my "encounters" take embarrassing turns, often having to do with guys I've dated. And I had my latest surprising encounter this morning. In church, of all places.

My church meets in a movie theater and I decided today that I wanted to trek all the way to the top of the theater to sit alone, because I really just wanted to decompress and really hear the sermon. Right as service was starting, a guy I went out with YEARS ago - I seriously haven't seen this guy in at least 6 years and I'd call him a "significant" part of my past - walks over from his seat, which is also at the top of the theater.

Then he introduces me to his daughter.

And I don't know if he's married or anything, but service starts and he goes back to his seat one section over. And in the MIDDLE of the SERVICE his daughter walks into my row and hands me a picture of a flower she has just drawn. For me. Then goes back to her dad.

Seriously? I really think God has a sense of humor and I'm one of his favorite targets. I'm really hoping that by enduring weird situations like this, I'm storing up points that I can cash in one day and be like "that 6'2 gorgeous, successful, Christian man over there? That one is mine, God. I think we both know I've earned him."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Adventures in running

While trying to find a document on my laptop, I saw THIS:

And had to laugh, thinking of the story behind it.

I never ran track growing up, never even ran a mile without stopping until college. Ran my first 5k in '02 with President Bush and about 200 White House staff, just because it was a novel opportunity. But somewhere along the way I became addicted to races. I'm still not "a runner". I'm embarrassingly slow and to this day have only ran about 8 miles without having to take a walk break. But I've completed every distance up to a full marathon, and I did that around this time last year. And per usual, it did not happen without incident. The account of it is below.

After six months of training through the worst winter DC has ever known, getting to Nashville to run the Country Music Marathon only to have freak Severe Weather (tornado warning) and have the race cut short, a 2 week hiatus from training while I was overseas, and baaaarely making the cut for the Delaware Marathon (which I found out I got in while I was in Athens dodging tear-gas during riots), I FINALLY FINISHED!

I went from a Rock and Roll series race of 30,000 runners in famed Nashville - to the 7th Annual 649 runner marathon in little Wilmington, DE. Little bit of a change.

They offered an Early Start for the slower runners and I chose that so my teammates (2 other girls who also didn't finish Nashville) wouldn't have to wait that long for me to finish. After leaving our hotel later than planned, I literally got dropped off on the corner, scurried over to the start where maybe 30-40 runners (mostly senior citizens...) were, had just a few minutes to start making friends and - we were off!

It's actually pretty relaxing to be at the back of the pack because everyone just chats. I got asked why I was doing the early start (I guess because they thought I was young enough to be faster...) and I met a nice 62-year old man named Roscoe from Macon, GA who told me about his 4 kids and how he was doing TWO MARATHONS A MONTH this year until he finished ALL 50 STATES.

Actually, there were several runners there who had already done marathons in all 50 states - sometimes three times over. Most were over 60. Pretty inspiring.

I stayed with Roscoe for a bit while we tried to figure out the course. Chaos! There were actually three races going on simultaneously: The Marathon, a Relay, and the Half-Marathon. AND, if that wasn't enough, the marathon course is actually running Two Loops - so basically you do the 1/2 marathon course twice. And parts of it go through deslolate areas with little marking. Twice, Roscoe and I thought we'd missed a turn.

And because of the two loops and 3 races, you were constantly running by signs like "Mile 3!" (for the marathoners), then a sign that said "Relay turnaround!" then a sign that said "Mile 16!" (as in, the second lap of the marathon). It's a miracle I didn't get lost or take off in the wrong group. I actually think the fear of losing sight of the other runners helped make me faster, so it worked out :)

So I started around 6:20a.m., with my Gymboss timer (the thing that tells me when to run and when to walk - we'll call him "Gymmy" for short).

The regular start for the marathon was 7 a.m.

by 7:40: The first regular marathoner passed me

by 8:00: The first Female regular marathoner passed me (which I was excited about - she was only 20 min behind the male lead!)

A little while after that: I was passed by a man wearing a tutu. Sigh. (SEE ABOVE)

1/4 of the way through the race: Gymmy stopped working.

(Fortunately, I had also borrowed my coaches watch so I'd spend the rest of the race constantly checking my watch to make sure I stayed on my run/walk ratio, while doing math in my head to see how long I'd been running since the official clock was for the Regular Start. Since I suck at math, this all was nice and distracting.)

Mile 15: I passed Roscoe again.

And all the while, I keep getting lapped by the regular marathoners and fast relay guys and the leader of the pack had a MOTORCYCLE escort so not only am I doing math in my head, trying to stay on the right course, and singing Yellow Submarine to myself because I didn't wear an ipod, but I have to sidestep away from a motorcycle and fast runner every few miles.

A few times during the course my coach would find me and run for awhile and other Team in Training people from all over the country would yell my name (printed on my tank top) and encourage me. The race was so small that they have placards along the course with people's bios so while you are running you can enjoy reading about people like "Mary Smith! Tampa, FL! This is her first marathon!"

I definitely felt like just walking around mile 20-22, but I never stopped smiling. The few spectators were mostly nice families who were so great to cheer for us and even the traffic cops along the route were very nice. Mile 26 kind of came out of nowhere and as I ran across the finish, I started to feel like I was about to burst into tears.

Then I felt like I might throw up.

Fortunately, neither happened and hopefully they got a great shot of me pumping my fists while the crowd was cheering. Good adventure. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Near Death Experiences

I started my second semester of grad school classes last night and we were assigned a partner who we had to interview and then give a brief introduction of to the class. My interviewer randomly asked if I had any near-death experiences.


Would not have thought to ask that and it made me think - what would constitute one? I mean, maybe we cheat death every day and don't realize it. When I got dizzy, fell over, and started being dragged out to the ocean by the current when I was a child before my dad saved me - was that "near death"? Or when my safety bar briefly broke when I was inside a carnival ride before my best friend flung her arm over it to keep me safe while we went upside down - was that "near death"?

Did I "almost die" of embarrassment when the guy who had just broken up with me accidentally ended up on a first date (group date) with me and another guy? (the answer to that is Yes and I'll tell that story some other day.) Or when I fell out into a class 4 rapid white-water rafting, or was nearly left on the side of the road at two years old after my mom and I were in a car accident?

I ended up telling her that my appendix burst when I was 10 and I suppose I nearly died then. I didn't tell her the whole story, of how we thought it was food poisoning from the carnival and waited a while to go to the ER while toxins were being dispelled around my organs, or how the doctors accidentally cut a main artery during surgery and I nearly bled to death. Or how I then got infection and had to have yet another surgery two weeks later. I basically just shrugged and left it as "I guess I could've died then..."

And while she was giving my introduction, she stuck that random piece of information in at a really awkward place in the speech which actually made everyone laugh, then feel bad that they laughed...making me laugh even harder. And when I finally returned to my seat, the person next to me offered an "I'm glad you didn't die".

Ha! Yeah. You know what? Me too.

I may start saying that to my friends regularly now. Because really, you just never know when they last cheated death.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A little bit on my oblivion

Since this blog is like a new toy, I'm likely going to post every day. For like a week. Then I will get bored and forget I have it. Which is a perfect segway to discussing my forgetting skills. Or, more accurately, my oblivion skills.

I'm usually running late to something and trying to multi-task, which makes me have tunnel vision. To the extent of that 80-year old who looks for their glasses and they are wearing them. THAT oblivious. And my friends/coworkers have caught on and sometimes use it against me. Like the time I was working as a Confidential Assistant at the White House, stressed out completely, and began noticing that I couldn't find any desk supplies when I needed them. I'd frantically try to staple something- could not find the stapler. Two days later, I'd go to use scissors - no scissors. This went on for several days and I thought I was actually losing my mind already. When, all of a sudden, I started receiving Inter-office mail at regular intervals. With all my office supplies. (This game prompted a retaliation called Fill His Inbox, where I and another coworker systematically drove another coworker crazy by forwarding all of our bosses scheduling requests to him as well, to add to his own. When you work crazy hours, entertainment finds strange forms.)

Another good one was on my 20-something birthday where we are all at dinner, but people keep walking in late. And I don't realize ANYTHING for
a long period of time when finally I see a male friend walk in holding a purse. And then I realize it's MY purse. Then I realize EVERYONE is wearing my accessories, some even wearing my clothes. Yes, THAT oblivious.

But probably the best (worst?) one was in college, when I drove to the on-campus gym, but walked back to my dorm. And forgot I drove. Later that day, I was riding with a friend past the gym who actually mentioned the fact that the car at the gym looked like mine. And I mused at how funny it was that someone else had a car just like mine.

Then I woke up the next morning and reported my car stolen.

Yep, THAT oblivious. So really, if no one ever comments on this blog again, I probably won't know the difference. I'll be too busy trying to find the glasses on my face. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Aaand, a new one

I'll keep adding some old posts on here occasionally, but had to post about my latest Small-World experience because it was a good one. My close friends know first-hand that I have a weird, uncanny ability to run into people I know or be strangely connected to people I meet - so much so, that one of my friends once asked me not to even THINK of her ex-boyfriend for fear we'd run into him somehow (...and we did. Or at least his best friends anyway, he was around the corner. Sorry, You-Know-Who-You-Are).

Anyway, I'll recount later some of the crazier situations, but this past Sunday was pretty good. After running into someone from my church in DC, at a Starbucks I randomly walked into on 5th Ave in Manhattan (seriously, what are the odds? The same exact time at the same Starbucks in all of NYC?), I get on my bus home and continue reading a book about the Army unit called the Band of Brothers. And I'm reading how these guys started measuring the passage of time in Iraq by horrible incidents "Like the time *Blank*'s arm got blown off by an IED..." And I stop, put the book down, and just stare out the window because I totally met that guy in a club in DC several years ago, danced with him, then went out with him once after that (and yes, this was AFTER he lost his arm. I volunteered at the Army hospital here for years so war wounds don't really phase me.) And, strangely, he just tried to add me on Facebook in the last year out of the blue.

And maybe it's not THAT strange that he made it into this book, but it took me by surprise to come across his name and then to know so much more about his story. And that's the second time I've come across a friend/acquaintance in a book I was reading in the last couple months.

It's definitely entertaining to have this weird "ability", but I feel like I should be able to harnass it and use it somehow to my benefit. Like, if I think really hard about John Legend, will he be pumping my gas tomorrow...?

Another from "the vault": Rat Race

Here's one more from my old site, from October 13, 2006 and apparently I was watching "Arrested Development, Season 3"....

So, I've been so excited that I can now drive to work and park for free because I thought I hated the metro (I like that it's there, I just don't want to have to wait for it every day to get me alllllll the way to wherever I'm going when I could just drive my usual speed-demony way and get there faster) but now I realize how extremely stressful driving to work is. I feel like I need a massage after each day because my shoulders are so tense, having to worry about what all the cars/trucks around you are doing, the HORRIFIC road I take to work that jars my car, the sudden turn-only lanes, the traffic circles that are made entirely more complicated than they needed to be, etc. I realize now my problem is Other People. ha. If I could zip to work unhindered it WOULD be convenient and quick. Alas, I still consider myself a city person but this whole "personal space" issue is something I need to work on.

I encountered another woman having issues dealing with the stresses of city life this morning at my starbucks. The line was out the door as usual, the barista team had sent out their usual scout to walk along the line coaxing everyone to yell out their orders before reaching the counter, people were bulkier in general now that fall coats have reappeared, etc. I notice the lady in front of me looks bewildered and that she walked over to the 'scout' to whisper her order after he had to ask her many times for it. When we finally arrived at the register, there were two, so she stood at one and I slid in front of the other and without thinking, set my purse down on the counter. As I'm telling my cashier that I wanted a bagel, I hear the frazzled woman next to me ask in a huff, half to me, half to her cashier, "if I was first in line, can't I stand here?? I need to set my stuff down to get to my money!!" Apparently she did not feel there was room enough on the counter for my purse and hers to coexist. And I guess she thought I'd set mine down to purposefully spite her when, truthfully, I didn't even realize I'd set it down at all. I ended up just laughing since I understood her personal freak out due to the crowded coffee shop. I also heard her ask her cashier how they did this everyday.

How DO we do this everyday? And still love the city? :)


So, to get this thing started, I've decided to go back to another blog I had years ago and pull some of the less revealing/embarrassing/naive-sounding posts to re-post here. Below was from Thursday, January 25, 2007 and, apparently, I was listening to "The Evolution of Robin Thick"....

This Week, I've Learned....
-That no matter how much I think my hair needs a change, I should not cut bangs

-That a drive along the Potomac on a sunny day with Counting Crows playing in my car will cure any bad mood

-There are very few places left that will make a simple grilled cheese on the go

-No amount of coffee or sleep will put me in a good mood before noon

-That no matter how much a job sucked at the time, you will, one random day, be reminded of the good things about that job and no matter how many times this phenomenon occurs, you will forget it happens and dwell on the suckiness of a job you currently have.

-Not to wear any old thing to the gym in my apartment building because while I just want to be comfortable, other people can still see me. And I feel bad for those people.

-That as oblivious as I am about most things, the small things, like the sound of chewing or someone jingling the change in their pockets, can actually drive me to bodily harm.

-To question whether I miss actual people, or simply the feeling of inclusion

-That those people who always look put together, actually spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy to appear that way.