Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Insight into my Cell Phone Contact List

Periodically, I’ll look for a number in my cell phone and realize there's a ton of old contacts I really should clean up. The numbers represent the randomness in my life, and they are organized in the typical “system” I use whenever I’m writing things down on the run  -- code words. Many of which don’t make any sense later, leaving me with notes like the one currently sitting next to my laptop that starts out “did GW Pkway classic 2003, more clothes donation, after girlz swap, 4 shades”

Yep. Iron clad system, that one. Some of the codes in my phone are legitimate nicknames, some are places I've worked, and some are just whatever description I thought made sense at the time. I did an audit today and posted some of my favorite gems below.  Enjoy.

Dana's Contacts
"K9 Dan Ackerman" (took me a really long time to remember what this was. K9 cop? The guy’s a dog? Turns out, he was leading an animal rescue charity event I helped with…)

Amy Yack’s friend (this is only funny to me because A. I don’t know an “Amy Yack” and 2. I sure don’t remember meeting her friend)

Andrea OSC (OSC stands for the President’s Oil Spill Commission. Andrea Oil Spill Commission - I think that has a nice ring to it, really.)

Café Asia (Ok, I really love sushi)

“helpdesk” and “helpdesk guy” – yes , I have both.

 “Bruce the Catholic”

“Caitlin Loose Cannon”

A number that simply says “Call” (I'm scared to actually do that though. No clue.)

“Lebanese Taverna” (Ok, I really love Lebanese food)

“David Christmas Party”

The number for Bill Clinton’s personal aide

Simply the word “Crack”

“Capital Rowing Club Kyle”

"Dominos" (Seriously? How big is that fat kid inside me?!)

“don’t answer” (assuming that was a boy)

“Driver Kurt”

“Driver Mike” (I wish I was Mr. Big from Sex and the City and these were my actual town car drivers, but no. These were volunteers driving me around when I campaigned for MittRomney here. )

The number for a Kinkos in New Orleans

“Room 317” in the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters

“Kevin Football”

The main line for the United States Secret Service

“Marie Iceland”

“Marie Iraq”

“Jim Bible Study”

The number for a former cast member of Les Mis



“Republican National Convention girl”

“Joel Salsa Young Republcian” (as explained here)

“Hotel Security”

“Sign Language Ilana”

“Stenographer for Oct 13”

Random music studio in West Virginia

“Washington Plaza Beverly” (now it just sounds like I’m meeting women in hotels)

And finally -

“Joel ?”

(Hopefully after tonight's New Year's Eve party, I'll be adding something to the effect of "New Year's Sugar Daddy" or "Adam Levine who just happened to be at my New Year's party"....we'll see.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

A DC Dana Year in Review

I've been discussing Christmas letters with various friends and how social media is the ultimate year-around Christmas letter: everyone posts only positive updates about their life to subtly brag to everyone else.

My friends and I were in downward-spiral-into-oblivion moods, and one of them joked about how he wanted to reply to a particularly braggy email with:

This year, I:
Broke up with my girlfriend
Spent a lot of money to deal with that by buying unnecessary electronics
Worked in a job that I wasn't too happy with
Prepared myself for a Holiday Season alone

Ha! Now that would make a great honest Christmas letter.

I told him I was trying to figure out how to do my own year in review without sounding like a smug d-bag, but in the end- we both decided that's not possible for anyone.

I'ma do one anyway. Merry Christmas!

I will, however, try to sprinkle in some less-than-positive and/or embarrassing moments for balance though. And I'll include a photo of Chloe in Christmas attire at the end as an added prize.

Dana's 2013
This year, I:
  • Finished my Master's degree (cue angelic choir, or the George Michael song Freedom...) 
  • Traveled to Iraq and kept it from my poor mother until the day before
  • Got selected to become a Naval Officer and kept it from my poor mother until the day after
  • Discovered I don't fit in Japan

Only one of those races had obstacles, one had glow sticks, and none had mud. Sign of maturity? I think so.

    • Got completely naked in a public bath more than once (there are NO photos of this, don't get scared)
    • Was a bridesmaid (again)
    • Started blogging for the Red Cross
    • Signed up to be a communications "boot camp instructor" (because I have so much free time and because I'm so great at public speaking - if great means hives continually creep up my neck and the fact that I forget to exhale.)
    • Ate turtle for the first time
    • Ate locust for the first time

    • Ate potentially lethal blowfish...twice. (I really like eating, guys)

    • Attended one moon bounce party (>1 from last year- concerning...)

    • Accidentally wore a wedding dress to a formal event (I just thought it was pretty. I didn't realize white should've probably been avoided)


    • Attended my 5th (?) Toby Keith concert (I really like rednecks, guys)

    • Got orthotics. (Yep, 30's rule.)
    • Tried two and a half new diets (The half was a day-long juice fast. It counts.)
    • Met Marion Barry: 
    It just makes me laugh, sorry. 

    • And drank approximately 731 cups of coffee
    I did not squeeze in a season of rowing crew, or enough indoor climbing or hiking, and this year was a slow one for dating disasters, so I'm hoping to pick all that up again in 2014. 

    And, as promised, here's Chloe being forced to be festive. (It should be noted that I made her exit a storage bin under my bed first, so she was already annoyed:)

    "Dear Lord, please forgive me for what I'm about to do to my human...."
    Festive holiday "scarf" wins. 

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    More Holiday Party Madness

    This past weekend held more holiday parties, one of which I sort of accidentally crashed last year:

    "The Best Christmas Party Ever"

    (That's actually the title. They go big.)

    This party is thrown by some people who attend my church and they typically have 300+ guests and rent out a Civil War Naval Hospital as the venue.

    Only in D.C.

    Last year, this event showed up on my Facebook somehow but I couldn't tell how I got invited. So I asked two of my other friends who might know the hosts and they said they saw it too. So we decided to go.

    We get ourselves together, head to the party, and realize -there is a line to get in. Are we at a Christmas party, or a Jay Z concert?

    So we stand there, freezing, chatting away, eyeing the tray of cupcakes our friend C is holding as our gift offering for the hosts, and we start to hear murmurings through the crowd that they may not even be letting people in anymore.

    Then we move up closer to the door where a guy is checking names. And we start to confirm with each other:

    "Did one of you send me the invite to this?"
    "Not me, I don't actually know who sent me the invite..."
    "I didn't recognize any of the hosts..."
    "I wasn't on the invite, someone just told me about it...."

    This is not good.

    Finally it's our turn to stand before the gate keeper and he literally says - in our faces - something about how they are at capacity and how annoying it is that people kept passing out invitations for this thing.

    Heh...heh.... yeah...some people...

    We shuffle around uncomfortably and C grips those cupcakes as justification for our presence like she's Baby from Dirty Dancing:

    I Carried A Watermelon.
    We finally gain entrance.

    Phew! We won't freeze to death on the steps of hospital - hooray!

    We enter a world completely packed wall to wall with humans in cocktail attire, military dress uniforms, and festive props.

    This party is intense. But the rest of the evening is your typical fun night of meeting new people, photo booth picture taking, and dancing our shoes off. Literally.

    And it's all fairly uneventful until right before we leave.

    We are standing in one of the many rooms when a guy comes around with a big tray of desserts. And we dive in, still laughing about the fact that we probably don't really belong here, and we learn that:

    he's one of the hosts.

    In fact, I think he might've been the same guy who was checking names off grumpily at the door earlier.

    And he loves us.

    We charm him for several minutes until he finally asks "who invited you guys? I need to thank them!"

    Ha! We've come full circle from this guy nearly keeping us out, to him giving thanks we got in. (To this day, I still don't fully know who actually did invite us all.)

    This year, we actually had legitimate invites -- mostly because I just went to Iraq with one of the hosts (the things you have to do to get into this party...)

    There were no real shenanigans to report this year, though I'll leave you with some of our photo booth shots to enjoy. [A. I definitely grabbed a sign off the table that inexplicably just said "Birthday Boy -->" which I of course held over a girl's head because why is there a sign for that? (it reminded me of the one time I actually attended a WWE event and instead of watching the wrestlers, I was fascinated by the crowd filled with signs that made no sense or had anything to do with wrestling, like "Ceiling- UP" or "I farted"...) B. We definitely photobombed another group and they won't realize that until the pictures come back. Which probably means we'll be back off the list for this party again next year...]

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    The Giggle Loop

    There's an old British comedy called Coupling that was hilarious, and in one episode, they discuss "the giggle loop." The giggle loop is basically the phenomenon that occurs when you are some place where you shouldn't be making noise, but then something makes you want to laugh. Then thinking "how embarrassing would that have been had I laughed here?" causes you to want to laugh more. And it keeps building until you burst. It used to happen to me and my sister a lot during church, growing up. And it happened to me a couple weeks ago in: Pilates Class.

    The Giggle Loop:


    Actually, this happens fairly frequently with me, truth be told. Like when I'm getting X-rays at the dentist and that cardboard thing they shove back into your mouth makes me gag uncontrollably, so the hygienist keeps patiently having to take it out, then replace it again -- only for me to immediately gag while staring blankly right in her face, making her remove it once again and start the whole process over. The whole thing makes me laugh, which only exacerbates the problem, which makes me want to laugh even more.

    Or when, during every. single. doctor's exam. (and most massages), they hit a ticklish spot and I start giggling so hard I can't breath, which makes them laugh, which makes me laugh harder.

    It's all one big cycle. Or, loop, if you will.

    And usually it's a silent laugh, and I have to go through it helplessly - often for a while - before anyone around me even notices I'm incapacitated. It's even worse, because I'll sit there knowing that eventually I'm going to have to inhale - thus creating a loud and disturbing sound - or, I'll have to violently release whatever beverage inconveniently happens to be in my mouth at the time.

    I've definitely lost a battle or two to The Loop.

    So - Pilates class. I've been going to classes for Pilates Reformer. The Reformer is this thing that looks like a torture device that you can do all sorts of stretching and strength training on, like so:


    You often look ridiculous doing it, and often bang into the person next you (or maybe that's just me), but I enjoy the classes, nonetheless.

    But because my schedule is crazy, I'm often rushing to get to class (I've been known to change into workout clothes everywhere from the driver's seat of my own car, to the bathroom of a Mr. Tire shop while my oil was changed. I may not be classy, but you can't say I'm not determined.) The last time I went, I was rushing to change in the co-ed bathroom at the Pilates studio. As I open the door, I realize the handle's wet, which grosses me out. I try to ignore it and begin quickly undressing anyway, then something takes over and I just can't not wash my hands, thinking about that handle. So I stop mid-clothing change, and go to the sink.

    Then I hear what I think is someone trying to open the door to the bathroom. And I'm half naked, inexplicably standing at the sink.

    And I uncontrollably let out a very loud stepped-on-puppy type of yelp.

    Then immediately start giggling at the noise I just made and how ridiculous my whole situation is.

    Thankfully, no one walked in on me. In fact, I'm not even sure the noise I heard was someone trying to come in. And who knows who actually heard me? It's even more embarrassing if the entire class of strangers all heard me yelping alone when no one was actually trying to open the door. I try to stop giggling, finish dressing, and grab the last Reformer in the row. I start doing whatever motion the class is already in the middle of doing, and I keep suppressing laughter.

    And that's when I realize my Reformer has a slight issue. See, there are springs attached at the bottom that you take on and off to add resistance, and apparently one of those springs needed oiling or something, because every single time I push out, that contraption sounded similar to this:

    Every. Single. Time.

    Great. So I'm already late, I've made an unexplained terrified dog sound from the bathroom, and now my reformer is making noises.

    Then we move onto an exercise using The Ring.

    I forgot to mention that not only do you have the torture device, but there are accessories as well. At different points during the workout, you pluck various items from your personal cubby space along the wall. There are different sized resistance balls, some kind of wooden stick that I still don't know what it's used for (and may never want to find out), a ring you squeeze, and a big black box you can lay on for certain exercises.

    My ring squeaked, you guys. I can't even make this up.

    So now, not only do I have the spring making "boing" sounds, but every time I squeeze that ring during the workout, it makes a squeaky noise. Kind of like a chew toy, but a lower pitch. Just a faint little "you are squeezing me and I don't enjoy it" type sound.

    No one else's equipment is making any protest noises. And I can't take it anymore.

    As we are laying there, repeatedly pushing our reformer things back and forth, I keep thinking of my bathroom panic, the boing, and the squeak - and I have to choke back laughter. Then I have to choke back more laughter, thinking how funny it is that I'm choking back laughter.

    The Giggle Loop is upon me.

    At one point we are told to lay on our sides while we continue to push back and forth -and my shoulders start to shake. Now I'm wondering what the person behind me is thinking. Probably that I'm crying during the workout.

    Oh dear. That's funny too. I may explode. And then not only will everyone in class wonder what's wrong with me, but I could actually injure myself. If I explode mid-exercise, I'll render my muscles useless and likely slam myself back to the starting position on this contraption - wounded - which is also funny and then I'll laugh even harder and it may never end!

    I may die here in a circle of uncontrollable laughter.

    I force myself to pull it together, and we thankfully move onto another accessory which distracts me for a bit. We get - the box.

    We're told to lay stomach-down, palms out flat on the box, which is now on the slide-y part of the contraption. And we have to push this thing up and down with our legs and abs. And it's hard, and I start to sweat. And by the time we are to put the boxes back against the wall, I look down and see a sweat trail in the shape of my hands sliding down the box. It looks like the back car window of the racy scene in Titanic.

    And that too, is funny.

    I have to push down the Loop yet again.

    Miraculously, in the end, I actually made it through the whole class without  losing my battle with the Loop. This time. But I know it won't be the last battle.

    And unfortunately, each one of you reading this are now also a part of The Giggle Loop.

    For that I am sorry.

    Stay strong, my friends.

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    CPAC - The Christmas Party Action Committee

    (updated from original post in 2011)

    Everything in D.C. is in acronyms.

    Some are hideously long, like the OSLGCP (Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness at the Department of Homeland Security) or "Slug Cup" as people say it out.

    Some are funny, like one program that my friend worked with in the State Department that sounded like "wedgie" when you said it aloud. She kept fighting laughter in meetings whenever anyone would have to refer to it.

    But you can't deny, acronyms are useful. It's easy to string several together and form whole sentences using very few actual words. "Did you get the MOU for CTSI to the S1 regarding EIS yet?" We do it without realizing.

    So, when my friends a few years ago started feeling the familiar overwhelming urge to attend every single Christmas reception in D.C., we formed:

    CPAC. (Christmas Party Action Committee)

    There were four of us in the original CPAC, all in different jobs so we got on different "lists." Then we could trade Party invites like baseball cards. "I've got a Mitt Romney fundraiser if you have a Chamber of Commerce reception!" "American Manufacturing Association for a Newseum party?" "DHS staffer's Ugly Christmas Sweater Party for that Festivus party of that guy you used to date!"

    And because D.C. is all about networking and events, there are lists that come out that show when and where different companies or lobbying firm are having their parties. So me and my fellow CPAC member Rebekah have been known to even crash some of those parties just to see if we can. (and also, back in the day, we'd likely crash things just to score free food. Because when you first live in D.C., you don't make enough to pay the crazy rent AND eat. So there are throngs of young adults, likely working for Congressman and powerful officials, surviving solely on free reception food and Ramen noodles. Glamorous, right?)

    But it's really amazing what you can get into just by acting like you belong there. Some of these holiday parties are open, but we've definitely attended some that weren't.

    Which actually isn't new for Rebekah and I. We both have busy schedules but the thrill of getting into something new is too much for us to ignore. It's a challenge. And always makes for good stories. So even if we are already attending something else, if we see something "roped off" -- it must be ours.
    Once, while out with friends on a Saturday night in Adams Morgan, D.C., we heard a house party going on down one of the side streets and decided to see how successful we could be at just crashing it. We ended up finding out the host's name was "John" and effectively bounced around from group to group acting like "oh yeah, JOHN! What a character!" ....until we accidentally met John himself.

    Rule number one - don't blow your own cover.

    Another time, when me, Rebekah and our friend Shannon happened to be hanging out at the same place a Kickball league was having a year-end party, we notice a bus outside that the league had apparently rented to take them to various places all around the city all night. We acted as though we were on one of the teams and successfully stowed away on the bus all night until we actually became good buddies with the organizers.

    We were laughing it up with them at the front of the bus when they finally let us know that they were on to us but that that they enjoyed us so much we could stay.

    Rule number two - if your cover is blown, just be super friendly.

    Come to think of it, people probably always know we aren't supposed to be there but they humor us anyway because are we so pleased with ourselves for "breaking in" to something.  This past spring in Miami (here), Rebekah and I were with several others in our group of friends at a big dance club in South Beach. And the place was giant and gorgeous and we barely got in because of how popular it was, so we should've just been thankful to be in at all.

    But there was a roped off VIP section in the middle of one of the rooms.

    So of course, instantly, Rebekah gets that gleam in her eyes and she charges in. And one of the bouncers inside kicks her back out since apparently you need a wrist band to be in there.

    Rule number three - find out if there are accessories involved as entry tokens and hide the part of your body on which said accessory should be.

    Rebekah returns to me and our other friend. Then she goes in again - this time, stepping over a chair and over the rope.

    So I can't resist anymore and I do the same.

    And I motion for our other friend, as if I'm some crazy mirage beckoning her like "come oooooon! come jooooooin uuuussss!" as I melt into the "exclusive" crowd inside that roped off area. But our other friend has actual common sense and refused to join. (Some people use logic and restraint. Me and Rebekah, not so much).  And for a second, Rebekah and I are so proud of ourselves, and run around in that area dodging bouncers lest they see our naked wrists. And we realize it's a bacherlorette party and nothing special is actually going on inside that area. People are just dancing and talking like they were in the rest of the club. So we just walk out, realizing that just because something is marked "exclusive" does not necessarily make it any better.

    Of course we'll forget that piece of wisdom the next time we see anything roped off.

    Thus far in D.C. Christmas Party Season, I have a few things on the calendar including a Scottish Parade (I'm not Scottish), a party for alumni of a local Prep School (I'm not an alumnus), and another Tacky Sweater Party (sadly, without a bounce house though), among others. But someone already sent me a list of of
    networking events around the city so we'll see what else Rebekah and I can break into 
    attend. I'll let you know.