Sunday, January 26, 2014

That Time I Joined a Flash Mob Dance

I was trying to make plans with my friend a few weeks ago and we were comparing schedules when she casually drops in "yeah I might go to a flash mob dance that night...."

*record scratch* Excuse me? You have intel of a flash mob occurring and this is the first I'm hearing of it?

I love a good public display of ridiculousness, so I was instantly intrigued. I posted on Facebook that I was planning to attend and a friend in another state said something about wishing she could be in a flash mob, and I thought - you know what? Why wouldn't I just be in it? When life hands you a flash mob, you join.

I immediately went to work trying to convince someone else to do it with me.

I was 100% unsuccessful.

(I guess if life hands most people a flash mob, they laugh and run the other way.)

So then I was on the fence about doing it. I kept going back and forth in my mind right up until the day of, when I still wanted to go but I was starting to get nervous.

I actually like the thrill of trying something that makes me nervous. But even so, it would be much more fun if I knew someone....

Oh yeah, did I mention that I actually didn't know anyone in the group that was doing this? And that some of them had been practicing for weeks together?

I started to feel like a new kid at school about to try to find a lunch table...


Thankfully, my friend "C" calls just a couple hours before the event and says he will go with me -

but I will owe him for this.

Ok, I'm not even going to think about what I'll have to agree to attend with him in the future. I'm just going to focus on Yay! I don't have to go alone afterall!

I head out to the practice venue, which looked like this:

The group had planned 6 different "routines" that people could choose whether or not to join: a modern, a hip hop, a salsa, a swing, a line dance, and finally - a group number. I chose the line dancing. ...and started learning it on the fly.

Thankfully, everyone was really nice and we all tried to help each other learn the choreography. I dutifully learned my stomps and grapevines and felt like I knew the dance well enough to perform spontaneously in front of a public place full of strangers.

Me, surreptitiously proving to my grandchildren that I really did participate in this.

C finally arrives, and I explain the line dance steps to him. Then I inform him that we are all supposed to join the group dance as well.

He asks what that one is.

...and that's when I have to admit that it's: What Does the Fox Say.

...as in, the most annoying song currently on the planet.

C is not having that.

Ok fair enough. We'll just stick to the line dance then. I feel confident we can still stamp our life cards with the "I did a flash mob" stamp even if we only do part of it.

C and I finish practicing our part and step to the back of the room to chat while the others are still practicing.

And then, out of nowhere, the door to the restroom next to us opens and this happens:

Ahhhhm......did anyone else just see that?

Turns out, there's an actual fox joining the last number. This just keeps getting better.

Practice finishes up and we are told to head over to the site of the flash mob, which is Union Station.

We are supposed to separate from each other and act like we are just hanging out like normal.

Here's the victim venue:

You see that authoritative looking man in the yellow vest? He'll be important later..

So C and I are fake-hanging out together at the Chopt when we finally hear the music start. We get into place and jump in for the line dancing portion, finish our moves, then casually walk back off before the next routine starts. And C says to me, "did you notice the security guard on his walkie-talkie during our dance?"

And I was like "Naw, I think he was videoing it. I think he liked it."

Yeah no. As the next routine starts, we see the fox appear on the scene, and then -

The music abruptly stops.

And a whole herd of security walk up and tell us to disperse.



It's been a long time since I've attended an event that got shut down by authorities. First Time Flash Mob: Success!

So in the end, the group didn't get to finish, but we all enjoyed it anyway. We decided to head to a nearby pub to continue to hang out and get to know each other.

And the great thing about DC is that its full of people with really interesting backgrounds and careers, who also happen to blow off steam by doing really silly things like joining flash mobs. So I started the evening spontaneously dancing in the middle of an American monument to transportation, and then seamlessly moved into discussions about civil war history and debates regarding President Correa's policies in Ecuador...

I love this city.

I ended up leaving that group to meet up with other friends who happened to be line dancing at a country venue in Virginia. And while I'm there, I hear a song come on the dance floor that sounds familiar. It turns out-

it's the line dance I had just learned for the flash mob.

I bounded out to the floor and gleefully start stomping and grapevining next to strangers again, confident that clearly- this is my destiny for tonight.

Moral of the day: when life hands you a new experience, just nod and stomp along. ...even if there's a giant fox next to you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Week in the Life of DC Dana

I've been with my current government client for three years. I'm the lead for a team of consultants who provide communications support across everything from website to branding to press relations. And one great tool for public relations and stakeholder outreach is: events.

So on top of my other duties, and given my past experience with events for President and Mrs. Bush, I end up leading my client's big stakeholder event around this time each year. And every year, it nearly kills me.

And when things get crazy(er), my life gets even more Dana-y...er. By that I mean the whole Murphy's Law of everything bad/strange that can happen, will happen- is enforced even more often. It gets to where I can't even believe it anymore and I just start laughing and want to share it. So I'm going to. Here we go:

Let's look at last week. I start by meeting up with a man I met at an event several weeks back. I had high hopes for him as dating material: then promptly learned he has multiple children and hobbies pertaining to fantasy worlds.

Hopes: dashed. Yep, that seems on par.

(he was a nice guy, and I'm not one who can judge odd hobbies, but the kids thing? Am I really someone who should have multiple children thrown at them right now? I think we all know the answer to that.)

Fast forward to Tuesday night, after another hectic day, I get ready to rush off to a social commitment, and I realize: I still owed something to my Big Boss. (in my job, you have many bosses. The Person Who Can Get You Kicked Off Your Project; The Person Who Can Get You Kicked Out Of The Company; The Person Who Can Get You Kicked Out Of The Country... ok that part's embellished. Although, living in D.C., we probably all interact with people who actually could do that so the possibility remains.)

So my Big Boss falls somewhere around Could Get Me Kicked Out of the Company. So, kind of important to meet deadlines with him I suppose.

I ask if I can do it first thing the next morning.

I'm told that should be ok. So what happens first thing the next morning?

My car is barricaded in the garage by a circle of police tape? No, but that has happened.

I don't realize my shirt sleeve is see-through when I put it on and I just so happened to be wearing a temporary U.S. Army tattoo from silliness the night before? No, but that too has happened...sigh...

 What happened, was - I walk in to find: my computer screen looks different.... and I can't log in.

Apparently, they are starting to push a "migration" out and lucky me was one of the first to get it.

Perfect timing. My life is already crazy, I'm late with an assignment, and now I get to re-learn technology.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for a call because one of my managers had set up a 9:30 chat with me.
....And he stands me up.

Fine, I'll focus on my computer issues. I try my security card; it asks me to just use a password. I try my password; it says it's wrong. I restart the computer; same thing happens. I offer to set my computer up on a date with the sassy fax machine in the corner. Nothing. Works.

So I call the help desk, and the guy tells me to try all the things I've already tried. (sigh.) Then, he gives me two different passwords to try; neither work. Finally, I hear him saying, half to himself, things like "....your migration did not go well...." then "...this will cause all sorts of issues..." and finally just


Meanwhile, my cubical neighbor, who also got picked to migrate today, has the blue screen of death and there is talk of replacing his entire hard drive.

This sounds really promising.

By this time, I'm now supposed to meet with a different manager for a chat.                               ....And he also stands me up.
Seriously, today? What is going on?

My computer tech finally says he'll send someone out to help me, and I go to another part of the office and try to log into a computer that has not had this awesome "migration" business.

I settle in to a strange desk, put my security card in, and -

promptly get a message that my card pin has expired, so now I need to log in with just a password...

Of course it has. Of course my pin chooses now to expire. And password- sure! You mean my old password that didn't work, or the two new passwords that don't work?

Clearly I'm not logging into this computer either.

I trudge back over to my desk and there's now a new tech support man staring as my screen.

I set my Venti Red Eye down on the desk and try to explain what's going on.

....Three minutes later, the tech support guy hits my coffee with his arm and knocks all of its beautiful, life-giving contents onto the floor, and onto my bag sitting on the floor.

And here's where I can't stifle giggles anymore. Really? What else is going to happen this morning? Are my pants going to split open too? (...Again)

The tech support guy feels awful and keeps trying to make attempts at blotting it out, and at one point just drops a napkin right on the spill and leaves it there. Like a tiny, sad little band-aid. And every time I look at it, I start giggling all over again.

That napkin, is my attempts at being normal. And that giant coffee stain is the enormity of weirdness that is my actual life.

I text my manager and try to explain what's going on (and why I'm not getting to that assignment I should've done hours ago) and he replies something to the effect of "oh good grief."

Good grief indeed.

We finally get all of that squared away  - two and a half hours later -and I go on to have another hectic day.

Fast forward to Friday, when I'm rushing out yet again to try to meet up with friends. (note to self: stop trying to plan things after work and just go home and sob quietly to your cat each day until this event is over.)

And shortly before I leave work, I decide to:

-Say yes to an invitation to run a relay from DC to Boston


-Join a Flash Mob dance

Because I have FOMO and need serious help. 

I shut down my offending computer, head off to meet friends, and put this week behind me.

Tune in again next week, to see if my office catches on fire, I date a guy who admits that he just got out of prison, or I finally just join the circus....

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Bridesmaidyness

Next month, I will be participating in what I believe will be my 9th (!) wedding (and this one is over Valentine's Day weekend -- the Universe has upped the ante on just how much love it is going to cram down my throat before I just slit it open....) and this past weekend, I flew to Nashville for bridal shower/bachelorette duties.

I don't have much to share about the festivities (what happens in Nashville, stays in Nashville and all that) but the bridal shower did include another chance for me to "give marriage advice to the bride," which you can imagine I'm amazing at, having never been married. The advice was to be written on a wooden spoon.

I let my friend's three year old write it for me:

I really think that's probably the best marriage advice I could've given. 

Anyway, since I don't have more to share, I thought I'd repost my write up from last August as a consolation prize. Enjoy!

Smug Marrieds

Let me start by saying -- I love love. I love marriage. I am always honored to be a part of people's weddings: as an attendee or a bridesmaid or by playing songs on the piano from the Little Mermaid while guests file into the church (Yes. I did that once as a child. It was background music and no one realized what is was from, don't judge me).

But as I've mentioned before, I've never been one of those people who just needed to be in a relationship. Not that marriage/kids isn't one of my goals - it is - but unless I'm just crazy about someone, I'm going to choose being single over settling, every time. But it is frustrating the older I get, especially when "are you dating anyone?" is the first question out of everyone's mouths and if I tell people I'm not in a relationship, it's like I've short-circuited them. And it gets worse during wedding festivities.

At my age, I've been to roughly 9,007 weddings/bridal showers/bachelorettes and not that I wouldn't want all that tradition for my own wedding - I totally will -but after a while, you feel like you are just going through the motions. I've become the female version of the Wedding Crashers, practically betting people around me whether they're going to quote First Corinthians or Colossians 3:12 during the ceremony. And bouquet toss? Forget about it. I'm the epitome of this scene from Sex and The City. Except, you know, I'm not speaking Italian. Usually. (I guess the You Tube copyright police ignore uploads as long as they aren't in English? But you get the idea of the sentiment at least):

So with my shoulder shrugs ready, I headed to Atlanta last weekend for yet another friend's bridal festivities.

Let me set the scene:
-I'm the only non-Indian/Pakistani bridesmaid, which already singles me out a bit.
-I'm one of only two out of the whole group who is not/or has not been married.
-I'm 5'8. The tallest of the other girls is about 5'4 on a good day. The shortest? 4'11. I felt like Elf.
Or, like this:

And we had a whole weekend of events and I didn't really know anyone well except the bride. And many of the other bridesmaids had never done a traditional American bachelorette night out so they came armed with accessories, games, and talk of staying out all night on our last night. (I'm getting too old for this).

I immediately set my sights on the pregnant one and silently vowed that when she went back to the house, I was going with her or would die trying.  

(She actually lasted longer than I expected, but still enabled me to get back to my bed --aka The Floor (I'm getting too old for this) -- before midnight, so I count that a success.)

But we need to back up to earlier that day: The Bridal Tea.

First of all - I loved the venue, very southern and very girly and totally something I'd want as well.


We walk in, and not only is our bridal event there, but on the same floor, the rooms next to ours are also all bridal events. You couldn't swing your string of pearls without hitting a sign that said something like "The Future Mrs. Bearman!" or "Chrissy's Bridal Brunch!!"

I started texting my single DC friends for back up.

I walk in and find that not one, but two ladies are pregnant in my room, one with twins. I immediately feel like I'm in the Bridget Jones scene where Bridget has dinner with "smug marrieds" and everyone is paired up around the table and they stare up at her in robotic unison and one man winks and starts patting his pregnant wife's stomach saying “You really ought to hurry up and get sprogged up, old girl. Time's a running out. Tick tock."

I texted more furiously.

I got back the response,  "Stay away from sharp objects. You sound very vulnerable right now."

Very funny. But before I could harumph too much at my DC friends' obvious enjoyment of my being left to the love-intoxicated wolves down south, we had moved to:

The reading aloud of inspirational quotes about marriage, portion of the day.

::Face Palm::

I had already asked my friends for help with this assignment, and they suggested I just write down the lyrics to Maroon 5's "Pay Phone" and call it a day.

Very helpful, thank you friends. You will now absolutely be asked to sing "I honestly Love You" for my reception. Especially if you are still single. 

So clearly I was on my own in this and thankfully found a couple quotes that were nice enough to offer, but not so nice that I'd accidentally dry-heave in the middle of reciting them. And of course, by luck of the draw, I was chosen to go first for this reading.

And thank the Lord I was, because shortly after me:

everyone started crying.

There was talk of love and why it's so important to stop and look around on your wedding day, and how this man is now your family, etc. etc. And then there was something about each other's "love languages" and at that point, I nearly dry-heaved anyway while everyone else was having "and it's just! so! beautifuh-uh-uh-uhlll!" moments and I sat there practically whistling, looking around to see if anyone else had eaten their cheese straws yet.

I started texting again. "I mean, I wasn't going to have dessert, but I mean...."

I get the response, "Whatever gets ya through, man. Whatever gets ya through."

I giggle to myself and the tea ends just in time for us to move to the art project portion of the weekend:

Working with broken glass.

So much for staying away from sharp objects....

In the end, the weekend was actually pretty fun (and I got a nice new personally-mosaic-ed bowl out of it, so there's that.) And as I'm typing this, no joke, I just got an email from the last bride who's wedding I was in and her email says "you can thank me for not having you do this." And apparently there's a new trend in weddings called: "Bridal Party Boudoir Photos," where the whole bridal party gets photos done like this:

So at least I wasn't asked to do that during the weekend

And of course, my friends are lovely brides who deserve all the fanfare. I just find the Bridget Jones-esque moments too hilarious not to comment on. And I recommend that if you are a bride out there with friends who are single or just don't have very strong googly-eye genes, just don't take it personally if you find them texting when they are supposed to be sobbing over just how darn special weddings are.

And maybe stay clear of broken glass projects too. Just in case.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Naughty Kitty Pants Vs. Cheetah Pants: What My Pajamas Can Teach Us About New Beginnings

I've had a pair of pajama pants for several years that I love. There are cats on them (of course) and the cats are doing different things, like looking smug and evil, or sitting in a bowl, etc. My old roommate Amy and I used to call them my Naughty Kitty Pants because the cats look ...well, naughty. (Not in a sexy way, stop it. I mean evil. Like cats are.)

For whatever reason, I loved the Naughty Kitty Pants. They made me smile when I wore them because it always reminded me of those years living with Amy and all the ridiculous inside jokes we had. (She is the one I spoke to about boys in code and is also friends with the Other Goldfish Poodle.)

Anyway, I'd say the Naughty Kitty Pants were my favorite things to wear to bed. They weren't just cute and made me laugh, but they were also long enough for my ape-like limbs.

(That is hard to find at my height. At one point I just started wearing men's pajama bottoms because I could never find cute girlie ones that didn't make me look like Urkel each night:

Then one day, I found a new pair of pajamas. Pink cheetah print.

I have no problem with animal prints. So these pants fit right into my life.

As time went on, I realized I wasn't wearing Naughty Kitty Pants very much anymore. I'd always reach for Cheetah Pants instead. I apparently preferred them now. They had new qualities. They didn't make me smile with memories, but they fit better and they were really soft. And I felt like that was a metaphor for life in some way (some people wax philosophical at sunsets -I apparently do that when changing into jammies. Stop judging me.): it's so easy to get comfortable and think you don't ever want something to change. But there may be aspects you like even better in some new thing. No, it won't be the same, but the new thing may make you even happier.

Last week, I celebrated New Year's Eve (this is related, stay with me). Now, I'm the type of girl that enjoys immersing herself in quintessential scenes. If I'm in Japan, I want to be in a kimono eating sushi. If I'm at a country music concert, I want to be wearing cowboy boots, sitting on the tailgate of a lift-kitted truck, talking to people with southern accents. And on New Years, I usually want to be at a giant party at some swanky venue, wearing sparkly formal wear, blowing noisemakers and having streamers fall on my head after a dramatic countdown.

Last week was pretty much the opposite of that.

I started the evening by rushing around because I was late (that part's normal). But because I was rushing, I ran out of the house and was well on my way to a party before realizing  -- I forgot to wear deoderant. (I actually have a habit of doing that only on days when it's especially horrific to do so, like when I'm meeting former U.S. Presidents.)

First un-New Years thing: My appearance/hygiene is not completely pulled together.

I also had testing to do for the Navy in two days and was trying desperately to make sure I was within my weight limit, so I wasn't really eating or drinking anything except the Ginger Ale I allowed myself to toast with. Un-New Years thing #2 - can't enjoy the fattening spread laid out by my party hosts.

The party was at the house of someone I don't know and there was no dress code so guests were wearing everything from jeans to cocktail attire. Un-New Years #3 and #4 - no swanky commercial venue and not everyone is in formal wear.

There were no streamers, hats, or noise makers - #5

We didn't even have the television on to watch the New Year's Eve celebration or see the ball drop-#6. In fact - no one even realized when it turned midnight. (#7). At some point, my friend looked at his phone and realized we were already in 2014. So the group I was standing with let out a collective "Happy New Year!" sans countdown, and everyone in the party joined in immediately without even checking to see that we were right. (we did try, about 20 min later, to do an actual countdown just to see if we could get everyone to blindly join in again. We couldn't. Which means we started 2014 pretty much like how our years of friendship have always been -- with us doing weird things that make us laugh while everyone else in the world looks at us like we're crazy.)

I didn't kiss anyone at midnight... didn't hear Auld Lang Syne...didn't really dance much (given the whole no-deodorant thing and all) - in other words: it was not my typical New Years.

But -it was one of the best New Year's Eves I can remember. I was relaxed, I was surrounded by people who know me well, and I was simply happy. I would've thought I needed a set list of things for a "perfect" New Years, but doing something different was surprisingly even better.

And that happens a lot, doesn't it? Like in relationships- romantic or friendship. You have people who you love for certain reasons and worry you'll never love other people as much unless they have those same characteristics. But then you meet new people and realize you are just as happy if not more with them, for completely different reasons you hadn't considered before.

2013 was absolutely incredible for me. But if there's one thing my pajamas have taught me, it's to not settle in and stagnate just because something made you happy. We could easily say there's nothing we need to go after in 2014 if we got things we wanted the year before. We could hide in the safety net of so many Kitty Pants of yesteryear - but I bet there are some Cheetah Pants in 2014 waiting. It won't be the same awesomeness as things before, but it might be even better.

Happy New Year, Internet. Go out and find some Cheetah Pants.