Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chivalry Is Dead And Cabs Are Scary

I was about to post something likely boring about my job but since I told a friend about a recent "dating" disaster, he insisted I post that instead. So here you go.

I say "dating" because this incident happened with a guy I've been friends with for years who I may or may not like to kiss a little if the mood is right and we are both single. And a few weeks ago, we were out with our group of friends and we realize - we are both single again. So we start joking about how we should hang out over the weekend. Then, later, our group of friends were all emailing about how we were stuck in our houses due to the impending hurricane that weekend and my friend -we'll call him John - and I start joking again on the mass email like "hey, we could keep each other company during the hurricane, wink wink" - just to make everyone else feel awkward.

Then I get a separate email from just John basically saying-

 "No really. We should hang out."

Ah. Got it. We are no longer joking about this.

So we do hang out.

Then, last friday, I get a text that says "you still single? want to make out?" Which is funny and cute and I take the bait and go hang out with him at his house.

But here's where Chivalry dies and I turn into an indignant Southern Belle.

He tells me his address - and it's like A MILE walk from the metro, uphill, on a very poorly lit street. So I text "what would it take to get you to pick me up at the metro?"

And he says: "Ugh. I just ordered takeout and I have to wait for it. It's a $6 cab ride though - totally worth it"

UM. First of all -- "Ugh"?!?! Like, you are exasperated that I even suggested such a thing? Second - if the cab is only 6 dollars and is "totally worth it," ya think you could OFFER TO PAY FOR IT, RICO SUAVE?

Ahem. But I try not to be too diva, and I start walking. And he texts "the food is here, should I pick you up or are you walking?"

And here's where I get real passive-aggressive, cranky-pants girly -which I'm not proud of - but I snap back "I'm walking"

So he says "k see you soon."

Wrong Answer, Captain Clueless. You would've scored points had you gone ahead and picked me up.

So I then reply "not THAT soon, considering I'm still like 6 blocks away..."

And he doesn't get it. And he asks where I am and when I tell him, he texts "oh, when you pass such and such road, my apartment's right there."

Alrighty then. Guess I'll keep walking. Alone. In the dark. Uphill.

So I cross that street he referenced - and I kid you not, his address does NOT exist. Like, the numbers JUMP his. And I walk around for at least 10 minutes looking for his address in vain.

So once again, I pull a total girl move (I promise I'm not normally this bad) and instead of just calling him, I decided I'll keep wandering around and see how long it takes him to even notice. So when he finally DOES come outside to look for me, he finds me walking down a driveway with my arms crossed. And he asks "are you mad?" to which I reply -

"A little bit. Yeah."

So we are off to a GREAT start!

We go in his house and I calm down and end up staying for awhile and when I go to leave - he doesn't offer to take me back to the metro.

Good. Grief. This guy.

So I refuse to act all Damsel In Distress-y and I shrug and say "k see ya", and head off into the night again.

But as soon as I can, I hail a cab. 'Cuz I AM a damsel and I DON'T want to be walking alone in the dark anymore, dang it!

And I tell the cab I just want to go to the nearest metro and ask if he's cool with that and he tells me to get in. Then he immediately asks where I live. And I'm not-smart and tell him the general area in Virginia that I actually live, but I reiterate that I'm going to the metro.

So he starts pressuring me -"oh, I can just drive you all the way to your house instead! I live in that area too! Why would you want to go to the metro?" and on and on.

And I'm so annoyed with the whole evening at this point that I am NOT HAVING IT. So I snap "if you don't want to take me to the metro, just let me out and I'll walk." And he keeps on, and acts offended and says something creepy like "oh, am I making you uncomfortable?"

So I'm done. And I tell him I'm just going to walk and I get out. And we've gone, maybe THREE BLOCKS. And I kid you not, he yells out his window "Ma'am! It's a dollar sixty!"


I look at him and say something like "are you KIDDING me?" and I give him one dollar and start walking.

So he slowly drives past me and gets to the end of the block. And pulls a U-turn and sits there. Waiting. With his lights pointed up the street towards me. And the only other person on the block drives away, leaving me alone in the dark with this cab. ....then the cab starts driving back towards me.

So I FREAK. OUT. And thankfully he drives on past -- but then shortly after, I see a cab coming back from his direction.

So now I'm calling John. And simultaneously trying to find some place to HIDE every time another cab drives by that may or may not be MY cab, which may or may not be stalking me. (yes, I'm sure I over-reacted, but I've had some road rage incidents happen to me before so I don't trust anyone in this city to NOT turn crazy anymore). So I'm frantically begging John to HURRY UP AND GET TO ME before I get kidnapped by some crazy cab driver who is mad about sixty cents, and John runs out to meet me ---

and then he sort of complains about having to run.

Then he asks me to retell what just happened and he sort of seems like he doesn't quite believe me.

So now I'm:
-offended that he didn't take me to the metro in the first place
-embarrassed that I had to ask for help
-afraid he thinks I made the whole thing up to get him to walk me to the metro

So we get to the metro and he's all "text me when you get home so I know you made it" (Gee, how gentlemanly of you...) and I DO text -

and never hear from him again.

Perhaps I should've just taken my chances with creepy cab driver. At least HE offered to take me home....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why I Should Just Take The Bus

As you know, I'm a car girl. And that, coupled with the fact that I get motion sickness on the D.C. Metro trains, means I try to drive everywhere. And in D.C., that causes many issues:

1. There's no parking

2. If there is parking, it has a meter and you get like 26 seconds per quarter so unless you have recently robbed a bank in all quarters, you probably don't have enough to park for more than 5 minutes.

3. Driving in D.C. is scary because the streets are laid out weird, and you are constantly dodging confused tourists, rude taxi drivers, random motorcades or road blocks, and cyclists. I feel like I'm constantly in a real life version of "Paperboy"... (that is an old Nintendo game if you are too young to get that reference.) And then there are -

The Signs.

Here is what you might expect to need to read before turning down a street in D.C.:

-This is a One-Way
-Unless it's Tuesday
-Then it's a Two-Way but you can't turn if it's before 9 a.m.
-And don't think about parking here if there's inclement weather
-Unless it's below freezing, then you can park for 5 minutes
-But you probably don't have enough quarters for 5 minutes so don't worry about it
-By the time you are to this sign, it is probably Wednesday which means this is once again a One-Way. Move along.
Here are actual signs in the city, but I've seen much crazier ones. You'll often see people trying to park just standing, staring up at signs for several minutes, trying to do the math to see if they can actually park there. It's way worse when you have to read paragraphs before knowing whether or not you can even TURN somewhere...(I sadly have not had a chance to take photos of those signs because I'm too busy trying to turn...)

And besides all that craziness, I feel like there are many things to keep up with on your car, at least if you are technically a Virginia resident like I am. Personal Property tax, state inspections (even if it's a BRAND NEW CAR...not that I'm bitter or anything...) and you need TWO license plates, which I did not know because I actually got away with keeping my old Tennessee plate on my car for much longer than I probably should've... and Tennessee isn't a Transportation-Nazi like Viriginia is. Yeah. I said it.

Funny story about license plates... first, I had never paid attention to my old Tenneessee plate before. My dad got his and mine at the same time and I just had to slap it on my car and pay him and be done with it. So one day when I was the passenger in my friend Ryan's car, we pulled up behind my car and he bursts out laughing and reads aloud what's on my plate. And to protect the innocent (aka My Parents, as you'll see below) I won't write the details here but it was something like :

"109 *slang term for something sexual*"

And then I burst out laughing because I had NEVER realized that before and was driving around all this time with that on my car. And even worse, since my dad bought both our plates, that meant my parents were driving around with "108 *slang term for something sexual*" on the back of their car. Sigh. Good thing they have pure minds and would not understand that anyway...

So when I finally got to the point where I could no longer run from the law and I had to bite the bullet and get VA plates, I made the annoying trip to the DMV and replaced my inappropriate TN tag with a VA one.

Then I immediately got two parking tickets in a row.

And I couldn't figure out why - I had a correct tag now, what was the deal!?

So then I finally read the fine print on the ticket and it says I need TWO plates. So now I'm annoyed because the DMV only gave me one, darn it! And they never mentioned anything about needing to buy two!

So I go back to the DMV, tell them they only gave me one plate and they owe me a new set of plates and they are confused but comply and give me a new set. 

And I'd had a stressful day anyway, and it's dark out and now I'm squatting on the ground with my screwdriver, taking off the one plate on the back --

and off drop TWO plates.


Apparently they were stuck together the first time and I obliviously screwed them both on the back of my car, leaving the front naked and thus incurring tickets.

At that point, I was so tired I just started laughing and kept the two new plates.

After that I had to GET HOLES PUNCHED into the front of my car so I could even HANG the stupid tag on it, but I've lived in compliance with VA law ever since.

At least, as far as license plates go :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

When Church Gets Awkward

I mentioned last time that I just started a new semester of both grad school classes and "small groups" at my church. Small groups are basically bible studies where you have groups of people hang out each week and actually talk, as opposed to often times in church where you can just slink into the back row and never interact with humans if you so desire. Which is typically how I attend because:

A. our church meets in a movie theater so it's quite easy to hunker down in a back row fairly unnoticed.

B. I go to Sunday Morning service = I will be hunkering down because I typically don't enjoy human interaction of any kind first thing in the morning.

C. the church gives us free coffee and there's really nothing/no one that can top that in my mind, first thing in the morning, so it's best if me and Coffee just sit by ourselves.

But of course, because of my Internal Homing Device issue, where I run into people I know in the strangest of places, I sometimes can't just slink in unnoticed because things like THIS happen (where old significants of my past who do not typically attend my church show up with their new, overly friendly, children just to confuse me.)

Side note - funny enough, I hadn't seen the guy from that incident since it happened... until last week when he was getting coffee and I ended up in line right behind him. His significant other (baby's mama? wife? I'm not sure...) was also standing there and I think he got nervous because he just BLURTS out "HEY! HOW'S WORK!" to me immediately.

How's work?? We've seen each other all of two times in the last 6 years and we don't have anything to do with each other's work. That's like running into a friend you haven't seen in a decade and the first thing you say is "HEY! WHAT'S IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR?" 

It completely threw me.
Side note within a Side note: it reminds me of when my coworker in the cube next to me kept saying "Happy New Year" to a client LONG after the new year had passed. Apparently the client kept saying it during their conversations for like a week or two after New Years and my coworker thought it was funny to see how long it would last so he kept doing it because the client seemed oblivious. So in February, I'd still hear them having random conversations that would end with my co-worker saying something like "...ah, yeah, good meeting! haha....Happy New Year." It made me laugh.
So back to church guy. As if it wasn't awkward enough that I don't know what his significant other knows about us (or if she knows her daughter is randomly drawing pictures to give to me during church....) he THEN blurts out "Hey I saw blah blah blah the other day and he reminded me of the time I dropped you on your head!"

Um, yes. When this guy and I played kickball together, the team was hanging out after a game and because this guy had a bit of a crush on me, something came over him and he took off running, swooped me up and over his shoulder before I knew what happened, then he SLIPPED and we both came crashing onto a wooden floor. Me - head first. I guess some guys pull girls' hair in class when they like them, some guys nearly paralyze a girl when they like them....

In any case, I now feel even MORE awkward and I just nervously look at his significant other and laugh like "oh, yep I remember! Good to see you! Happy New Year..." (I didn't actually say Happy New Year but wouldn't that have been awesome if I had? Things were already weird. Maybe next time...)

So stuff like THAT happens that prevents me from merely slinking in with coffee and sitting in the back unnoticed. And then the more people I meet in small groups also prevents me from doing so. Which brings us to this week.

My old small group disbanded, so I have to find a new group this semester and I want to find one that is the best fit - so I'm now basically Speed-Dating bibles studies. Like, I emailed at least four different ones near my house so I can "try them on for size" because let's face it, not everyone will appreciate things like The Slap Game (here) or understand why I pay to fling myself down a hill in a giant ball (like here). I'm gunna need that kind of understanding if I'm going to open up to a group about spiritual matters!

So the first "date" I had with a group was this past Tuesday. And I was having a crabby-pants kind of a day. And when I'm a crabby-pants, I tend to feel the world owes me for no reason. And in that delusion, I was careening through the parking lot of the building where this particular group meets (I couldn't find the place for a while and it had no address on the building so instantly I took my frustration out in my driving, because I'm a responsible adult like that...) and as I leave the lot to get back on the street to park, I see a guy walking. But instead of politely waiting for him to cross in front of me, I barrel through to the road, immediately flip an aggresive U-turn, and slide into street parking next to him. Because I'm annoyed! So I get to drive how I want! Take that Universe! (which is really the perfect attitude going into a church activity...sigh...)

For a tiny second I think "wouldn't it be great if I just acted that way in front of a guy from this group...." Because here's the thing - my church is huge, has many locations, and I likely won't know anyone in this group. But I figure this guy is just a random dude in the neighborhood so no worries.

Then I enter the building...and so does that guy.

And he starts talking to a group of other people by the eleveators...some of whom are holding Bibles.


Then we all get in the same elevator and go to the same floor.

And it turns out not only is this guy in the group - he's the group LEADER that I emailed about the group in the first place.


I act like nothing happened and hope he didn't actually see my face when I whizzed past him outside in my car. And as he's introducing the group, he accidentally describes himself as something like "the last surviving member of the group" because I guess the group has been meeting for years, but has changed members a lot. So everyone bursts into nervous laughter because that seems to suggest that the other members DIED OFF and now we are second guessing our choice of group... And as I'm laughing along with everyone else, I'm thinking "Buddy, you are barely the last survivor considering I nearly ran you over downstairs...."

Then I start giggling. And I get that horrible feeling that I'm not going to be able to stop. And I'm smooshed on a couch with three other strangers and I keep getting hit with waves of giggles that I sometimes can't supress. I even start giggling uncontrollably WHILE I'm READING ALOUD at one point....but thankfully I finally got back under control.

So in the end, I'm sure I made a FANTASTIC impression on these people.

I'm planning on trying at least two more groups so fingers crossed that I don't embarrass myself and/or nearly kill anyone else that I might have to see again on Sunday morning...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Semesters

I just started my new semester in grad school. I’m only taking one class, as opposed to my (stupid!) decision to take two during the summer, so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad.
Until I looked at the list of required books. There were FIVE.

Then, I realize on my way to class, that I have no idea what room the class is even in. I have not received any emails, don’t even remember the professor’s name, and don't have any of those 5 books, as I ordered them late. Great start!
I find the class and it’s in a computer lab. (which, I really should’ve guessed considering the class is about public relations “in the digital age”…I’m a quick one) And I’m not that pleased considering I spend my entire day in front of computer AND I’m now worried I’ll be distracted by my personal email and/or Facebook during class because I’m a Goldfish Poodle.
Then I realize the computer screens are GIANT and the rows behind me could definitely see the one time I DID open my personal email. The top message in my inbox was from my crazy friend in Philly and the subject line simply read “Why I’m Single.”

So now I'm scared to open that email.

I end up briefly glancing at it on my phone instead and that subject line held a huge STRING of replies between a few of my friends but the only message I took the time to read said:

 “being in a relationship is like being on a donkey that runs head first into a wall”

So yeah, good call on not opening that on Giant Screen, lest the people behind me immediately judge me based on my friends.

The donkey thing actually refers to a story about Philly Friend where she was on a donkey that did run head first into a wall so remembering that of course made me giggle to myself during class. So the people behind me probably think I'm crazy anyway. Better they learn early, I suppose!

I later told Philly Friend about the incident and she replied that she would be sending me blank emails with inappropriate subject lines every week during my class for the sake of the people behind me in that case. Considering this girl has also sent me work-related (hers, not mine) emails involving Koalas and STDs, I absolutely believe her.
So, I definitely won’t be doing much personal communications during class afterall.  Fortunately for me, the professor is totally entertaining.
He began by frantically pacing the room before introducing himself. He assigned us all to use Google + as the class communication tool, which none of us - including him - really understand. And at one point he asked who all in the class had ever tried to influence social media in their organizations, and when one girl said she actually quit her last job because she had tried and they wouldn't take her suggestions, the teacher blurted out:
“No sh… kidding?”
To which everyone snickered like 7th graders because THE TEACHER NEARLY SWORE!
He also asked us all where we worked and one girl announced she worked for Street Sense...then immediately clarified "The retailer, not the Homeless Newspaper."
Because Street Sense is actually the name of a paper that the homeless community in D.C. writes and sells to earn income. I think it’s a fantastic program, but I guess I can understand the questions that inevitably would arise as to how someone involved with that publication could afford to be in grad school… in any case, later in the class the professor basically referenced her as the Girl Who Does not Work for the Homeless Newspaper.

Nice. Hopefully I don't become The Girl Who Is not Passing This Class Because She is Too Busy Reading Emails About Suicidal Donkeys.
Then, halfway through the class, the professor inexplicably begins writing all our names on the board in teams under titles like “Email” or “Wiki”. My name?
was under “Special Team.”
And instead of the obvious mental stability joke there, I think, "So …I’m …the…Kicker for the class??" (I don’t think anyone else’s brains went straight to football because when I made some remark about how “some games are won by special teams” no one responded. I guess THEY aren’t from an SEC state like Tennessee …)
In any case, the professor never did explain what that meant so that should be interesting. But I’m a little nervous about this whole Team thing because I typically hate group work. I’m weird, I have my own personal processes that work for me but look crazy messy to others, and I’m a perfectionist in many ways and end up just doing most of the work myself.  NERD ALERT, I know. But that being said, my class is also 99% female. And you know what I hate just as much as working in groups?
Working with females.
I know, I know, that’s totally un-“sisterhood of the travelling pants” of me but I’m sorry, my gender talks too much, is too emotional when it comes to business, and sugar-coats things instead of just spitting out what needs to be said.
Don’t get me wrong, I can have a mood-swing and get super-sensitive LIKE IT’S MY JOB. But ironically, AT my job, I tend to function more like a male. At least in the sense that – let’s cut the crap, stop taking things personally, and just freaking get the job done. But I digress.
In the end, I think this class might be fun, group work and all. We'll see.

But this week was not only the start of my school semester, but the "Small Group" (AKA Bible Studies) semester at my church also just started. And I had a less than stellar start to that as well, which I'll explain more next time.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My 9/11 Story

I figured given the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. I would tell my personal story of being at the White House when that happened. I in no way want to belittle the tragedy, loss, symbolism and heroism of that day and I'm so grateful that everyone I know was kept safe. But below is what happened to me, humorous parts and all.

During my Semester In D.C. (told briefly about here), our school work consisted of half in-class work and half internship work. By some miracle, my internship ended up being at the White House, where I later got hired full-time as a Political Appointee. But my internship started on 9/10/01....

So the next day - aka My Second Day on the job - I came in early to open the office. We quickly heard reports of the first plane hitting the tower in NYC and everyone just thought it was an unfortunate accident.

When the second plane hit - we all knew something bigger was happening and we felt like we were likely going to be a target.

Everyone wore worried expressions but kept working and kept an eye on the news. After the third plane hit, I distinctly remember standing on the balcony of our office, watching the smoke rise from the Pentagon.

But we continued to stay.

After a little bit, the headline on television read "White House Evacuated." To which we understandably were like -


Because we were still there and hadn't heard anything outside of our office either. I stepped out into the hallway just to see if anyone looked like they might be scurrying away and further down the hall was a Secret Service agent in bomb-squad gear. And he saw me and yelled:

"What are you doing! This is real!"

To which I kind of slunked sheepishly back in my office with a timid "uh, guys? I think we're supposed to leave...."

Being the Type A go-getters that us interns were (there were 3 others besides me) we, of course, were not going to be the first ones to freak out. We were going down with the ship too, dang it! So even after I convinced most of the office to leave, another intern kept typing away before someone forced her to also get out.

This is how crazy people in D.C. are. Our lives are at risk, sure, but let's try to go ahead and finish that press release anyway...

It was weird because we didn't run. It felt so much like a dream that it was hard to get all that excited. I remember exiting the building and into the sunshine -- that day was gorgeous in D.C. Later, we would all comment on the sick juxtaposition of having such a horrible act take place on such a beautiful day...

The streets. Were. Gridlocked. And I remember people incessantly honking as if that would make anyone move faster. There was no place to move. Cars had already swarmed the streets, there were erroneous reports of fires on the National Mall, fires in the Metro trains, car bombs at the White House, etc. No one know what was going to be hit next.

Thankfully, a staffer in our office lived not too far away in Georgetown so a few of us walked a couple miles with her, passing by places like The World Bank which made me look up warily like "are YOU next?"

Somehow I was able to call my mom on my cell - which was a miracle in itself because the phone lines were jammed by that point - and I remember her tearfully telling me to just "come home." Of course I didn't consider that, though other people in my school program did and the school itself considered sending all of us home. That all happened later though. Right now, I was planning to stay in Georgetown until we could figure out how to get me back to our school's building on Capitol Hill.

A group of people ended up at the staffer's house and I remember being glued to the news (that was before the networks put the kabash on showing the more graphic images of the towers) and some of us prayed, others were on the phone with their doctors proactively getting prescriptions for Cipro (again...type A-ers don't mess around...) and the staffer, me and another intern (who would later become one of my best friends and incidentally was part of the Slap Game and created Henrietta the Turkey here) decided to go buy supplies - just in case.

Here's where it gets humorous because we were PARANOID. And granted, no one knew what was happening at that point or whether there had been any sort of bio or chemical agents released, or how long these attacks were going to continue, etc. But even still, we may have gone a bit overboard....

So the three of us - me, the other intern and the staffer - set out to buy food and bottled water. You know, just in case we needed to build a fallout shelter in the nicest neighborhood in D.C. And we think "what if there IS some kind of biological something in the air?"

So we put on sunglasses.

And bandanas.

...on our faces. So now we are tredging out of the staffer's home - IN POSH GEORGETOWN - and we look like bandits.

And we head to what was referred to as the Social Safeway.
Side Note: D.C. has had several Safeway grocery stores in different parts of the city that were nicknamed for their various qualities. "Social Safeway" was in Georgetown where the cool kids went. "Unsafe Safeway" (the one *I* had to use by my school) was in a bad part of town on Capitol Hill. "Soviet Safeway" was so named because it had long lines and little options...and so on and so on. (Have I mentioned I love this city? Such character.)

So we stop by an ATM on the way to Social Safeway and we realize we look like we are going to rob a bank. So then we just look at each other, burst out laughing, and take off our ridiculous terrorism prevention "gear".

We bought some things and returned to the house where we stayed the rest of the day until the roads cleared and I was able to be driven back to my school.

The next day - we went back to the White House. And that always struck me because everyone went back. We still didn't know for sure what was going on or if the attacks were over, but no one let fear stop their lives. The President himself came around later to personally thank people for coming back to work. It made me feel good to see that and also hear the stories of how people had helped each other the day before. And we continued to help in whatever way we could over the next few weeks, even if just in little ways, like buying coffee for the National Guardsmen and extra security who quickly moved into our city to protect us.

The next couple of weeks held other interesting events as well, that I'll tell another time, but now you know what memories go through my mind on 9/11 every year. DC changed so much that day, with road's being closed and security ramping up, but of course our country and the world changed in much bigger ways as well.

Each anniversary, us staffers used to go to the South Lawn of the White House to have a moment of silence with the President before he headed over to do the same at the Pentagon at the exact time it was hit. I plan to hold my own moment of silence Sunday in respect for not only that day, but gratitude for my own safety and for the people, many of whom I'm proud to call friends, who have continued to work in intelligence and military operations to make sure that didn't happen again in the last decade.

We will never forget.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Grand Prix of Confusion

This weekend I attended the Inaugural! Baltimore! Grand Prix!

The race itself was awesome. The whole getting there and getting back, however, was less than a smooth ride.

My friend J took me and I was put in charge of reading the directions from the website. And because the Grand Prix is a car race THROUGH the downtown of a city, they set up shuttle busses from satelite parking areas to get people to the race.

The directions were fine until the last task of "take the second right at Light Street."

We couldn't find a Light Street so ended up driving into an old Walmart shopping center where we saw a lot of cars parked, but no signs about why. Our directions said "the shuttle bus area will be clearly marked and there will be volunteers to help you."

i.e. "You'd have to be an IDIOT to miss this, it will be so obvious"

We see two young guys handing out flyers so we ask them. "Do you know where Light Street is? Or where we pick up the shuttles for the race?"

They hand us a $5 dollar off coupon for "Nick's Fish House" and tell us Light Street is across town.

Okaaay. This looks like a parking lot for something since there are cars PARKED ON GRASS everywhere, but we'll try this again. So we leave, drive around, make U-turns, finally find a lot that says it's for the race, and we pull in. And the guy asks for $20 bucks.

Huh? It's supposed to be free, this must not be the right lot. So we ask him where Light Street is.

He says it's across town.

So we nearly just pay the 20 bucks just so we can stop driving around but J and I are both of the "I'll walk 5 miles before I pay for parking" type so we decide we'll give it one more try before conceding.

So we head back to Walmart.

And get offered a coupon again.

But this time, we see shuttle busses and ask one of the drivers "do these take us to the rac..."

"Get on that one!"

We obey, and I start to show THAT driver my Grand Prix ticket and he waves me off with a "I don't need to see that."

So J and I take our seats, passing by rows of interesting looking people (some slumped over) and think "Ok! We're getting somewhere now!"

(...ooor we just jumped on a random bus that will take us Who Knows Where! Either way, it'll be an adventure, right?)

So we drive for a bit and the bus finally stops - and no one does anything. The driver doesn't say anything, the people don't move. Finally a lady yells "is this where we get off?" And the driver says yes. But still most of the bus doesn't move (particularly the slumped over ones). But whatever, J and I are getting off!

We look at our tickets which say Gate D. And there's a sign in front of us that says Gate C. So we figure that's close enough and start heading that way.

Our tickets were to get us into the "Infield", which is the large area of downtown that is in the middle of the course the cars are running around all day. And we can HEAR race cars, but can't SEE them yet, so we walk around trying to get "in" and No One Can Help Us. We ask no less than 5 different people how we just get IN, and we are pointed to a different place each time. We finally realize we have to go in a building, up escalators in a mall, and over a pedestrian bridge to finally get "in" the infield. (which is outside).

And after waiting in line, we finally get on the bridge and see a line of complaining people being held up by metro cops, going the other way. So J and I keep going our direction, and now we wonder "after all this to get in, are we not allowed to get OUT??" and that's when I hear a volunteer tell someone that the bridge isn't built to hold all the people that are currently trying to use it.

Oh neat! Good planning, Baltimore!

Needless to say, J and I picked up the pace.

Once we finally got IN, we relaxed a little, bought lemonade, and tried not to worry about how we were later going to have to get OUT. Whatever! We are here now! Onto the cars!

We stake out ground right in front of the start line and realize we are allowed to go down on the track to meet the drivers. So of course I have to take photos. And I really know nothing about this sport. But I get a photo with a car anyway. But that's not enough. I need one with a driver. So we find a guy who is half wearing a race jumpsuit thing, so I pounce.

Me: Can I take a photo with you?
Him: Oh, I'm not the driver
Me: Can you pretend to be?

So here's Fake Driver:

(Then I found a REAL driver right as the race organizers were pushing us off the track and I pounce on him too. So here is Real Driver:)

So then J and I take our place outside the protective fence and the cars start up and take off.

And here's where I black out from happiness because those cars are LOUD and FAST and I have a ridiculous half-mouth-open, half-goofy-grin expression on my face for the next few laps.

And I'm not alone. The people around me have similar expressions and it's funny how Mutual Excitement! makes everyone feel like we all know each other. So the little guy standing in front of J and I turns to look at us like "Do you see that man!!! Do you see that!!" Except we can't actually understand him, he's just excitedly mumbling and HITTING J repeatedly.

So I'm still gazing in awe at the cars, and J's trying to pry this man off of him, and the lady next to me feels she needs to let me know which car she loves the most, and the man next to her is yelling "oh he has that WIIIDE open, that is WIIIIDE open!!!"

So that's the little scene of our spectator group. I then attempt to actually photograph the cars. But did I mention they are FAST? Here is what I ended up taking like 6 photos of:

Yep. You can't actually see a car in the photo at all.
I eventually got a little better at it:

And seriously, besides the poor logistics (and the whole possible bridge collapse thing) this was a fantastic event. And we stayed for hours before finally heading back home....

...then we realize: How do we GET back home?

By now, we've wandered around the "infield" so much we don't know how to get back to where the bus dropped us off. So I remember we were near Gate C and we look at the map-

And there is no Gate C.

So we see a Gate A, and head for that. Eh, it'll lead OUT somewhere, right?

We ask YET ANOTHER PERSON to help us and after a long process, we finally find random busses picking people up in a parking lot.

So we start to get on one and I realize -- these are City busses. Not so much Free Shuttles. And I have no idea where they are going, since I don't live in Baltimore.

So I'm trying to explain things to the driver, who is giving me the "Blink....Blink...." face like he has no clue what I'm saying and thankfully two guys FROM NEW JERSEY that are sitting on the bus tell us they know exactly what we are saying, they are going to the same place, and to just get on.

So we all bond, talking about how poorly organized this whole thing was and how we all got lost getting into the event, and the bus starts driving into a part of town J and I have not seen.

But the Jersey guys are adamant and they assure us "it's fine, he's going to drop us off at the corner, then we walk to another corner and get on another bus..."

Oh dear. But since J and I don't have a better plan, we follow along. And guess where the random corner in this random part of town is that the bus drops us off at?

Light Street.

So we've now come full-circle in our frustration. And we head to this elusive Other Bus --


No freaking way! We really just took a bus across town...to just get around the infield. Sigh.

Nonetheless, surely these HAVE to take us back to our cars, right? And we see a sign that says "Port Covington".

What tha? We aren't trying to go to A PORT, we are trying to go to the street -that isn't Light Street- where the old Walmart -AND OUR CAR- is!

But once again, J and I have no other plan. So we hop on.

And lo and behold, we DO end up back at the Walmart -- which we realize is part of the "Port Covington Shopping Center." Ah, nothing like labeling things in a way WE COULD UNDERSTAND, like, I don't know, "Shuttle Parking Lot A"??

And as the bus is driving, we pass ...."Nick's Fish House".

Ha! We really have come full-circle.

So we take our coupons and eat at that darn fish house and happily finish out our day of confusion.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Friends

I just learned a place on Capitol Hill where my friends used to love getting chicken wings is basically closing. Thinking of this place makes me remember a particularly ridiculous night we had hanging out there...which makes me remember other ridiculous things about that particular group of friends. I'll share some of those things now!

The Slap Game
At some point years ago, I heard that there was a phenomenon occurring in England where people would walk up to random strangers and just slap them in the face for no reason.

Knowing that my friends are just as weird as I am, I immediately shared this excitedly.

To this day I still don't know why that started happening in England or when it ended, but one night at that place on Capitol Hill - my friends and I decided to see why that game might be fun. And you know what? It IS! ...until you are the one being slapped.
(This photo is of two of our friends slapping one another...who later married each other. Proving relationships CAN survive this "game", in case you were wondering...)

That night, I think we only attacked eachother, but since then, my friend Rebekah has definitely hauled off and done it unexpectedly to strangers. As you can guess, it doesn't go over so well usually. EXCEPT the one time she kept slapping the rear end of a girl and then blaming our friend Mike, inadvertently creating a situation where Mike had to apologize repeatedly to the girl...and ended up scoring her number.

Hmm, perhaps I should rent out Rebekah to guys on the weekend to help them talk to women....

Anyway, this same group of friends is also fond of Theme Parties. Really, any excuse to wear something ridiculous.

Through the years, they've had parties like "Jovi/Sinatra" (where attendees must decide if they are more white trash - aka Bon Jovi, or classy - aka Frank, and dress accordingly. The Jovi crowd is always quite the sight...a very painful sight.) They've also had parties like "Dress as your favorite injury!" Yes. I know you are jealous that these are my friends and not yours.

And one of my favorite things about these parties is: Henrietta.

Henrietta is a turkey. Not a live one, a frozen one. Who is at least, oh, 7 years old now I'd say.

It all started when two friends in that group lived together. When they moved into different places, one still had a frozen turkey in the freezer. And long story short, this started a multi-year game where they'd take turns keeping the Turkey. They'd pass it off to each other whenever they moved again and then it began showing up at their parties.

One New Year's Eve, Henrietta even wore lipstick, which ended up on my arm, prompting unsuspecting guests to wonder why my bicep was bleeding. But that wasn't nearly as bad as what happened a couple years ago when someone's boyfriend showed up to one of our parties completely obliterated and proceeded to hoist Henrietta up in the air...

and then dropped her on someone ELSE at the party. Starting a fight.

And I have to say, if you are going to get injured at a party, telling people someone dropped a FROZEN TURKEY on your head is really the best story you can have.

That turkey has been around.

But another thing that's also been around our parties? Naked Guy.

Naked Guy
So at one of the Halloween parties my friends had one year, everyone invaded their house in costume. Except one guy. Who showed up without one and felt left out. So what does he do?

Takes his clothes off.

Not completely, he left on his underwear, but the funny part was one of the girls hosting the party - didn't know who the guy was. So we started asking around.

And NONE of us knew who he was.

Which made us like him even more because who just wanders off the street into someone's house and takes their clothes off?

We later found out the other host knew him (to our disappointment) BUT the NEXT time they had a party -

He did it again.

But no one else was in costume.

The girls just dared him to do it so he did. I can't remember how many parties this guy ended up at without clothes but I love that I don't even know his name to this day. He's simply: Naked Guy. And recently I saw him out in D.C. at a random metro stop and I frantically texted a friend like "I think I just saw Naked Guy but I can't be sure because he looks different wearing clothes..."

The fact that I can send texts like that to these people are why we are friends.

Sadly, many of these guys have since left D.C. But perhaps I'll go slap someone on the street now, in their honor...