Friday, March 30, 2012

That One Time Topless Turkish Women Bathed Me

So now that I have my trip to Morocco booked, I'm reminiscing about the last trip abroad I took which was for the Other Goldfish Poodle's birthday. We went to Turkey and Greece and it was amazing.

I posted about getting caught up in deadly riots in Athens here, but I realize now I never wrote anything about the Turkey part of that trip.

Including: The Turkish Bath.

THIS is what it looked like:

Except all women...topless....

Except my lady was much larger, and also topless and just wearing bikini bottoms...and my face was red.....

TMI? You betcha. My new friend Mary (its amazing how quickly a new friend becomes a rather close friend when you are laying nearly-naked together on a giant slab of marble...) and I were the only brave female souls to venture there from our group of 12. The boys went too but thankfully they had a separate room. THAT would've been far too much information for all involved. *shudder*

It's hard to put into words what it's like to have a grown woman who speaks another language scrub you down with a loofa. I guess I really had no idea what I was getting into until we recieved a bag in the dressing room and all it contained was:

a pair of black underwear.

Well, I think we had a robe and shoes too but once you entered the large room where everyone else was, it was Skin To The Wind!

There was a giant slab of marble in the middle where ladies like myself sprawled out like embarrassed beached whales. A group of Turkish women rotated around the slab, scrubbing all of us down without saying anything to us really. Then we got up and had an ice cold rinse and shampoo at a sink in another part of the room, then a dip in a warm pool in yet another room. I'm assuming the experience is to get rid of dead skin cells and relax but all I really got out of it was a new facet of humility, and several laughs with Mary.

The rest of our stay in Turkey was much less embarrassing and very very pleasant. Istanbul is the cleanest big city I've ever seen and everyone was so friendly. People just wanted to have tea and spend time with us. I was also proposed to by a very attractive Turkish man who told me he could give me a "Big Happy Life" there. Besides needing to get used to having naked women scrub me down for fun, it wasn't a bad proposal to consider really. I should probably look that guy up.....

I'll try to post some more pics of that trip here at some point. I'll also have to tell the story of my "ambiguous ethnicity" and the "original nose" ....stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

DP Dana (Disaster Prone Dana) Strikes Again

So I know you all are waiting to hear that I tripped and fell or got sold to a random ex boyfriend or something at my charity date auction, but unfortunately (?) it was pretty uneventful and ended up being friends buying friends rather than people purchasing strangers. My friends ended up buying me for $210 --the highest bid of the night, I might add *brushing off shoulder smugly* (they joked they were buying me to clean their apartments though ... ugh, You're Welcome, Cancer Research!)

The climbing in a prom dress was also fairly uneventful, although one girl did take a fall and the EMTs were brought in. That part was scary but it turned funny when the EMTs were walking out right as my friend Cheryl jumped off a wall we were bouldering on and ended up kind of crumpling, laughing to the mat on her less than graceful descent. One of the EMTs wryly called back "maybe we should stick around....?"  which entertained us. I'm sure they were thinking "these stupid kids....."

Here are some shots from the evening:

That girl has on stilletos....Rock. On.

This just made me laugh

I'm so graceful.....

Our group. You know, just hanging out....

But while neither of those events were particularly disastrous, never fear, Internet, I do not come to you empty-handed!

I've mentioned that I'm disaster prone in that I:

A. have personal random acts happen to me that may or may not be life threatening.
B. I've ended up personally involved with several national disasters (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Swine Flu, Oil Spill Disaster....)

But there's a third category in that:

C. I tend to randomly stumble upon other people's situations as well.

In college, I drove down a street right in time to witness a car flip over a guard rail on an overpass and come tumbling down to my street, throwing the driver out in the process. I've come across people with car trouble in parking lots, along interstates, helped push a lady's car stuck in snow on an on-ramp (ha! tried to help push it. Thank goodness someone else finally stopped to help too. Someone with actual muscle mass...). I've stumbled upon a lady slumped over her steering wheel in a D.C. roundabout during rush hour, I found a car flipped on its top in the ghetto on my way home, and I was the lone person recruited by a policeman to talk to a girl who had been molested next door to a house party I had just left, to make sure I hadn't seen anyone matching the description of her attacker.

I've also been the one to discover property damage inside the official state guest house for the President...and had to tell the diplomatic security agent I was on a date with at the time about the damage. ...which he had to report...even though we weren't actually supposed to be running around in there at the time...woops! 

So it really shouldn't be that surprising I suppose that during my relaxing jog this past Sunday I ended up being the first one to arrive on the scene when a severally intoxicated man nearly drove himself into the river alongside my running trail.

The scene:
I'm running past an industrial park and hear a loud noise and see smoke. Thinking something exploded, I keep running towards it (because, again, I'm the Smarty Pants who chooses adventure over self-preservation every dang time) and I see a car (SUV really) has lodged itself atop a rock pile, hit a pole, and the driver is looking at me through his window saying "help" and pawing at the window.

That will change your running pace pretty quickly!

So I run faster, open his door and ask if he's alright, and realize he is waaaaasted. (not that I wasn't already clued in to that from the fact that he just inexplicably drove across a trail and up on rocks in broad daylight.) His air bag had deployed and he was moaning and yelling incoherently and I don't have a cell phone so I'm looking around for other runners who might and simultaneously talking to the guy like "you are alright, buddy, and no, I really don't think you should try to get out SINCE YOU CAN'T STAND ANYWAY but on top on that, you might be injured and stuff..."

A few other runners stop and a couple of them call 911 while everyone just kind of stands around while I'm still trying to talk sense into Drunky. At some point we realize there's gas leaking from the car and I flash back to my last vacation in Athens, Greece where my friends and I ended up in riots here and my friend Gina and I foolishly continued to take photos around cars on fire that also appeared to be leaking fluid....Seriously, HOW DO I STAY ALIVE?? Anyway, the man is insisting on getting out and since the car may blow up anyway, I figure - what the heck. Then I have to inform him that -Ooops, it appears your door is stuck on the LARGE ROCKS YOU JUST ASCENDED... (while the other runners - ALL MALE - continue to stand around. Thanks gentlemen! Don't worry about the girl trying to help this guy, no big deal!) and finally a policeman shows up and lets most of us go since we didn't actually see the acident happen, we just saw the immediate aftermath.

I wish I had a photo of how random this was. The man's SUV climbed rocks and squarely hit a pole and that is the only thing that kept him from driving right into the river.

And all that went down at the precise moment I was trotting by.

Seriously, maybe I need to just start staying indoors....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Iceland Part Three - The End.

Sorry I got all distracted and never finished this. I was also hoping to get some video footage to add here but haven't gotten around to that either so we'll just finish anyway.  That way I can move on to telling you about whatever happens tonight when I sell myself for charity, and whatever happens in a couple weeks when I take a sweet Driving Skills/Weapons training course led by U.S. special ops guys-

YES. I'm actually doing that and I nearly pee my pants with glee every time I remember that I'm doing that.

More on that later. Back to Iceland!

So the Blue Lagoon was definitely one of the highlights on top of the various bands and people we met from all over the world. My favorite show was a DJ combined with the Reykjavik Symphony Orchestra -- AH-MAZING. It was like watching really really awesome techno being created manually before our eyes.

We also rode "Viking horses" at one point [just like regular horses but a bit shorter, making it feel like my 5'8 self was atop a German Shepherd...on the moon (remember my description of Iceland here....)] Another fun piece was hearing what happened to the other people on our trip. One night, when Kami and I chose to venture off by ourselves, the rest of the group ended up --- at a strip club. Where one of the group members got offered a job....and she considered it.....ahem.

Another member apparently had waaaaay too much to drink, got separated from the herd, lost his coat and ended up sleeping on the floor in a local stranger's house. At some point during the night, he ended up at one of the concerts and saw another member of our group, who had also wandered off alone, and the best part was the next morning when we were all lounging in our hotel lobby and both of them see each other across the lounge and all they say is:

Floor sleeping boy: "OH MY GOSH!"
Concert-going girl: "OH MY GOSH!!!!!!"

and just kinda shake their heads, staring at each other in mutual understanding (or lack there of) of what they both had gone through the night before. I guess what happens in Reykjavik, stays in Reykjavik ....

Below are some more random shots from our trip. Enjoy!

One of the few pics in existence of me wearing my glasses in public -- this is where we first met the rest of the group at the airport. This accurately describes the level of insanity one needs for group travel with strangers....

Gulfoss water fall.... gorgeous.....

Me and my tiny horse....and my  GIANT suit they made us wear....

seriously, this suit alone makes the trip worth it.....ridiculous!

room made. of. ice. Awesomeness. (also very cold...)

Ah, the European speedo...

The proper way to walk on the moon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Do I Get Myself Into These Things?

Hi Internet people. I know I was in the middle of telling you about Iceland but, true to my ADD/Oh-Look!-Something-Shiny! self, I lost focus and haven't sat down to write the end of that story. I'll get there eventually.

But in the meantime, wanna hear about this week?

1. Tonight, I'll be participating in an annual event at my local climbing gym (Sportrock) called Penguin Climb. The gym apparently thought it'd be funny to have gym-goers dress up as if they are going to prom and climb the walls there like normal.

I agree with them and bought a dress at Goodwill just for the occasion.

The friend who trained with me for my marathon, and who incidentally was the lucky soul who experienced my infamous Wardrobe Malfunction on our 20-miler here, is the person who told me about this climb.

I love that people automatically assume I'll do anything involving physical challenge and silly costumes.


Anyway, I may post pics here if it actually is funny. ...or if I have another wardrobe malfunction which we all know is super likely.

But come on. What part of this doesn't look like a great idea?

Well maybe not this.... but still-

2. That same friend who invited me to the Penguin Climb is running another race and raising money for charity again while doing it, and she texted me one morning to ask if I'd be in her


That is how that phrase should've sounded in my head at the time. With alarm bells. And screams of "run! saaaave yourseeeeelf!" But instead? I barely skip a beat, text back immediately with a "sure!"

Seriously, me=zero self-preservation instinct.

So that's what I'll be doing this Saturday. Selling myself on an auction block to the highest bidder.... or, running away weeping if there is no bidder...or, running away screaming if there IS a bidder, but he's anything like any of the 1000 crazy dates I've already had in my life.

Yet another brilliant decision by me. I'll let you all know how it goes.....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Iceland Part Two: The Blue Lagoon of Party Town

The Blue Lagoon:

*Angelic Choir Sings*

(But don't let the tranquility fool you....)

This entire trip, I feel, was a false impression of Iceland. Reykjavik is not typically that full of people and the Blue Lagoon, I believe, is typically a nice relaxing hot springs. Which is exactly what it was when we first arrived.

Aw, see all the happy people floating around? The water was an amazing color, the temp outside was freezing but the water was warm, and there was this white mud stuff all over that you could just scoop up and put on your face that was supposedly this great facial.

Just don't get it in your eye or you will look like Dan from our trip here:

But besides the cries of anguish from Dan, it was a really peaceful morning.

And then: the music came.

As I said, we were in Iceland for Airwaves, which transformed the whole place into basically one giant, constant music venue. Full of rowdy Europeans and Americans. You can see where this is going.

Yep. It went here:

and here:

And here, here and here:

And as the day wore on, the lagoon tranformed before our eyes from a sleepy little oasis to a full-on Rager.

So now there's an enclosed area where the DJ, splashing, and craziness happens, complete with a bar people could swim up to. Which of course provided its own entertainment because we got to watch drunk people dance away obliviosly while they stood in line for beer AND you got to see them then slip and fall back into the music area, which inevitably happened because the land sloped back down into the water and it was like walking on ice -brilliant plan! After awhile, people just started swimming up to the side and begging for a waitress to come to them, neck and head out of the water like deranged golden retrievers yelping for beverages. Pretty humorous.

But not as humorous as watching: The Zombies.

As I'm surrounded by all this craziness, I'm having complete sensory overload and don't know where to look because every single scene in here is RIDONKULOUS. You have people on top of strangers playing chicken, the Golden Retrievers yelping at the side for beer, every other person has that white mask on their face, and whenever the music dies down a bit, you feel the energy about to explode and: SPLASH!!!!!!! The DJ kicks the beat up on high again and the place goes NUTS. Everyone starts jumping around, splashing each other, damaging their eyesight from white Icelandic mask -- it was spectacular!

And as I'm staring around in awe, taking it all in, I glance over under the bridge that separates this CRAZY TOWN from the rest of the still-peaceful Lagoon where people are still drifting lazily.

But the music is calling out to them.

And they start coming in....one person here, another two people there, and they are bopping to the beat of the music, headed towards us.

And all I see through the eery steam are white faces, on these slow moving bodies trudging through the water, silently bobbing their heads to techno.

That image makes me giggle to this day. It looked exactly like a zombie invasion, except the zombies really just wanted to get their party on.

And they did. One by one they ducked under the bridge into our area, causing even more craziness as the afternoon went on.

So I'm sure most people have memories of peaceful spa-like experiences at the Blue Lagoon. But me? I remember it as the frat party I never attended in college...on acid.

I'll throw up some more pics and hopefully some videos next post to finish this off.

(Most of all the photos here were informally taken by Kami who is now a professional photographer. You can find her collections at http://www.kamiswingle.com/)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Iceland Part ....One

(I wanted to use the word in Icelandic for "one" in the title of this post but have you seen the Icelandic language written out?? I give you: Eyjafjallajokull - that Iceland volcano that erupted and screwed everyone's travel plans a couple years ago. Eyjafjallajokull. That is why I speak no Icelandic.)

So I have finally decided to plunk down the $$ and take another international trip to:

Morocco! Hooray!

Having a chance to get out and see the world more makes me very happy. And my friend Angie and I plan to do an already-all-set-up-for-you tour with a tour group so we have to put minimal planning effort into it ourselves.

Incidentally, the reason I know Angie is because she and I both ended up on a similar No-Brainer tour in Iceland in 2009. She did it with another friend and I did it with Kami, the girl I pushed out of the bed in Central America here .
The Iceland tour we all did was with a group, aptly named: Things To Do.  I'd highly recommend them for travel or just for....things to do. They have them in other cities too and they do everything from cooking classes to trapeze lessons, in addition to travel tours.

Anyway, our trip to Iceland was fantastic because we went for Airwaves,  an international music festival held every year in Reykjavik. Up and coming cool bands from all over the world descend on that little, otherwise sleepy, city and take over every venue you could imagine. It wasn't like Virgin Fest, where you are living in an open field for two days running like a maniac between simultaneous stages because you HAVE TO SEE BOTH PAOLO NUTINI AND THE YEAH YEAH YEAHs LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE, DANG IT! (not that I did that in 2007 in Baltimore or anything). But instead, the music envelops  you by taking place in every coffee shop, restaurant, and stage in the city. You'd go to get dinner - and watch a band; on your way to a pub - to watch a band;  on your way to a night club -- to watch yet another band. For a music geek like me, this. was. heaven.

Also, we totally ran into the members of Vampire Weekend on a geyser tour one day. NBD.

Oh the geysers. They are everywhere. Iceland has a ton of geothermal activity...and little vegetation, which actually does make it feel like you are On The Moon, as it was described to me before I went. I remember a lot of it looking like this:


But the best place to experience the geothermally goodness was:

The Blue Lagoon.

Which I'll tell you all about in the next post.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Post-Event Memories

I just paid off my car. AKA the Mustang after the Mustang that my Insurance company bought me after the Mustang that got stolen, after ...

The Camaro.

Which looked like this:

*Angelic Choir Sings*

But I digress. The reason I mention the car is when I think about the relief I feel now that I no longer have a payment, I immediately think of the next car-related expense I have, which is a set of new tires.

How do I know this?

Because I'm getting nails in them.

Yes getting as in continually, and nails as in plural nails. Happened more than once.

And guess when the second time it happened was? Yep! Right in the middle of the crazy stressful lead-up to my Big Event where rich and famous people caused my stomach to eat itself here.

And, true to form, Murphy's Law governed many more incidents in that crazy stressful time period besides me having to schlep out Further Into Virginia than I prefer, to hear an auto guy say "Welp, looks like ya got another one then!" while pointing at my tire after I told him I just HAD a nail removed and patched.


So other mishaps during that Crazy Stressful time:

I, and often my staff and clients, worked late into the nights at my office, whose lighting systems - and occasionally computers -- shut down automatically around 10:00 pm.

How convenient! I may or may not have continued to peck away in the dark like a sad little creature...more than once....and I may have had to use the light of my iPhone to find my car keys....definitely not one of my finer professional moments.

But in addition to that joy, the last few days before The Event, the FIRE ALARM started systematically going off around 9pm each night as well! What fun!

The first time it happened, I feigned gathering my things but looked around to see if any other loser was going to put safety first. No one did. So I sat back down. (kinda like when I was an intern here and wouldn't leave the White House during 9/11. I obviously have very poor self-preservation instincts and fall squarely into that elusive category of people who would, in fact, jump off a bridge if Everybody Was Doing It.)

The next few times it happened no one blinked an eye. We'd simply pause while it went off, then continue our conversations. You know, until people left and I ended up typing away by myself in the dark.

In addition to all that loveliness, one day, during the week leading up to The Event, my BADGE stopped working to get me into our office. Neat! Now when I'm here alone from 7-10pm, I can't use the bathroom since that requires exiting and re-entering my work space! I started to once again feel like I was being Punk'd when finally someone told me the badge swipee thing was broken and that nobody's badges were working. Phew! At least it's not just me! That should provide comfort when I can not use the bathroom in that 3 hour block later this evening.....

Moving onto the Actual Event, we see Murphy's Law striking me yet again when I show up on The Day That One Former President Guy Arrives, and --

I forgot to put on deodorant.

The day where I will absolutely be stressed and running back hallways. The day where I meet several more famous people. The day that is the last day of our Event and which rolls into the night everyone has an after-party where it is encouraged to RIDE A MECHANICAL BULL! (that is a story for another time...)-


It made me feel slightly disheveled and reminded me of the time one of my best DC friends was supporting the 2nd Inauguration for George W. Bush. I attended one of the Inaugural Balls, and I see her spastically approaching me. Her hair was haphazardly pulled up, she had on her glasses - which is unusual - and

she wasn't wearing shoes.

The thing that came out of her mouth?
 "I've lost Condi!"
As in -- Condoleeza Rice, the then National Security Advisor to the President and future Secretary of State.

Ha! That image always makes me laugh. Or at least used to, before I became the girl that quite easily could've ran up to her and said: "I'm herding a President all morning - AND I'M NOT WEARING DEODORANT!"

Not as funny when the shoe's on the other foot I suppose. Although, to be fair, I at least still HAD shoes...just not anti-perspirant.
Then, at some point during the event, we discover that the event down the hall from ours had Reese Witherspoon speaking and some of my staff ran into her in the halls! Seriously, at that point, if I had run into her I wouldn't have batted an eye. "Oh hi, Reese, of course you are here in the middle of all this randomness and chaos. Might you have some deodorant I could borrow?...."

Friday, March 2, 2012

That One Time, When One Of The World's Richest Men Snapped At Me

Hello Internet! I am finally resurfacing after the big event thingy I've poured my blood, sweat and tears into the last six months. The event is now over: multi-day event, thousands of attendess, over 100 folks from the media, nearly 100 speakers, and about half a dozen Congressman, a handful of the most powerful CEOs in the world, a Cabinet member, one of the richest men in the world, the President of one of the nerdiest/smartest universities in the world, AND

a Former U.S. President.

Thrown in for extra measure. Because I wasn't sweating enough as it was.

I was the lead planner, so it all sort of hung over my head -- A LITTLE STRESSFUL -- and PRAISE THE LORD it was a huge success. But that wasn't because of me, that was seriously because God provided multiple miracles and an army of people making me look good. I often feel like Forest Gump in my life, continually plopped down in places I have no business being in, but I have to say I love the adventure and you'll be happy to know - I have several new fun stories to share.

I'm probably already repressing some that will come out later but here are just a few highlights:

-I logged my first 17 hour day with my current company. I literally sent a note to my time card approver that basically just said "don't judge."

- I finally completely understood the Cheryl Crow line "I've been living on coffee and nicotine" except I don't smoke so I was literally just living on -- coffee. Adrenaline has a funny way of making you feel full. Good to know if I'm ever stranded on a desert island, I can apparently just get really hyper and stressed and I'll be good without food for at least 4 days.

- I heard my staff utter things like "I'm going to treat myself and actually use the restroom now...."

-I found myself at the end of one day sitting in my car, forgetting to start the ignition because I was furiously typing away on my blackberry. Then driving a little ways to stop for gas -- and forgetting to start my car again....then driving a little further to my apartment and forgetting to get out of my car.  On the way there, I also turned my lights off and turned my blinker on in my confused effort to get my windshield wipers to stop....

The Roles We Played:
Let me set the scene: At several points during the event, I was attached to a cell phone, a blackberry, and a radio/ear piece - simultaneously answering all three, plus questions from actual humans who would approach me every! single! second! (ahem, not that I got flustered at all. ever.) for items ranging from free tickets for their spouse to extra pens for a breakout session, to asking me to find a Senator that had wandered off and was needed on stage.

I will be a KILLER mother one day -- multi-task Black Belt now, I tell ya.

So here are just a few places I found myself:
-practically shoving members of Congress into tiny dressing rooms in an effort to keep everyone straight because of course everyone showed up earlier than expected, or their Security details showed up, and at one point I was juggling two CEOs of major corporations, a Senator and a very powerful member of the House, a cabinet Secretary, and

One of the world's richest men.

Who snapped at me when he lost his aide and didn't know how to get back to his holding room.

Yes. Holding. Room. I soon began to see all these titans of industry and power as a string of really really important pets who needed to be cornered, cared for and fed.

I had to get one of the richest men in the world a HAIR. BRUSH. people. You can't make this stuff up.

I got to where I wasn't even introducing myself to all these high profile people. I just started immediately telling them where to go or grabbing someone else to lead them somewhere. Oh hello, One Of The Brightest Minds On Earth, we are so glad you are here -- could you just go with Sally here while I go pick up the former leader of the free world? K thanks. Ya look great. Don't even need a hairbrush.

At one point I told my Deer-In-Headlights looking assistant to go in and ask Mr. Richest Man, a former White House Chief of Staff, and a cabinet-level Secretary which side of their face they wanted their wireless mic.

That moment will now be known as The Point At Which I Broke My Assistant.

She couldn't go through with it. I had to do it, while pushing off the security detail of the Deputy Secretary of another major federal department.

-At one point during the week, someone casually mentions that there is a substance that someone will be looking at later that is being stored under a table in one of our rooms.

I was then told that substance was the only one of its kind in the world and was worth about a million dollars.

And it was being stored.

In one of my rooms.

Under a table.

By that point, my brain had melted and I couldn't even suggest logical alternate locations. That container filled with a million dollars just lived there for a day.

-At another point, I was asked to get a name tag for a Nobel Prize winner because he was disappointed he did not have one (he did not need one, but we got him one anyway). Of course.

-The event was rounded off by me instinctively throwing my arms around my assistant on my left, and a former President on my right, while taking a photo. Then I realize in horror that no one else is doing the whole We Are All Camp Buddies pose like myself so I start to let my arms fall a bit during the photo and I'm now convinced there's a picture out there somewhere of me and a former President with my arms spread out inexplicably like wings. Sigh.

I came home just in time for my cat to pee on my bed one last time, and me to fall into a 13 hour coma.

Just another week in this city.....