Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's Just a Man on a Horse

I've lived in the DC area for over two and half years now and I'd like to think I've seen to most of the big touristy items on the list - the museums, the Mall, the White House, Ben's Chili Bowl, etc. I've seen a play in Ford's Theatre, I've snuck my way through the Spy Museum. And yet, in nearly three years, I hadn't been out to visit Manassas and the Civil War Battle ground there.

To be fair, I've wanted to see where the Battles of Bull Run happened. Until last weekend, I had no idea it was the same place. Oops. Yay Yankee education! Turns out, pretty much all battles have two names. Really this shouldn't be a surprise...we couldn't agree on how to treat 20% of our people - do you really think we could have agreed on a name?

Saturday morning, Westley and I trekked out to the Battle grounds, paid our $3, and quite frankly, had a ball. Two very informative (and vastly different) walking tours and a rousing musket demonstration later, we marveled at the landscape and the pivotal battles that occurred right in his backyard a mere 140+ years ago.

Of all the amazing information gleaned from our day (how far a cannon can shoot [1800 yds] and how insanely hot the Union Army uniforms were [great Hades they're hot!]) the biggest trivia nugget I learned that day was the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run is where this guy earned his nickname. Colonel Thomas J. Jackson joined the fight here and when told the enemy was over running his Confederate comrades, Jackson responded "then we will give them the bayonet." On the top of that hill, his troops hunkered down and stopped the Union advance, helping the Confederates to win the battle. At the top of the hill (just 50 yards from a very cool visitors center) this huge statue is there in his honor, Col. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

(sidebar- inside the visitor's center is one of the coolest battle displays ever -- it's a giant sculpted replica of the fields with little LED lights that not only show where each regiment was fighting but also whenever the narrator said a battle started, you could see the firefight in the little lights. Seriously cool and so worth the visit)

3 hours, two sunburns, and one perfect morning spent learning about our area's history later, we left the battle field filled with knowledge and so incredibly hungry. Want to know the next best thing I learned about Manassas that day? The location of Okras. Yum-o. And also, completely worth the trip. Nothing says 'hello perfect weekend' like state parks, jambalaya, and great company.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sweet, sweet success, errr...I mean failure.

Oh the plans and goals I had for myself far I'm 0-4.

I stayed up late last night finishing a few projects and then was properly and completely sucked in to the Gold medal women's beach volleyball final. The announcer explained that China had called a time out due to "equipment issues." The "equipment" with the "issues" was a freaking hat. The 'issue' itself was the Olympian from China was having problems putting her pony tail thru the opening in the back of the hat. I kid you not, the male announcer said "you may not realize just how hard it is to get a ponytail through the back of a hat." Really? That's the difficulty of the match? Does this mean the US team deserves an additional medal for getting dressed alllll by themselves? Please.

I intended to get up early today, hoping to be leaving the house around 7:45 to a) actually be early for work and b) make it easier to leave early today. Instead, I woke up at 7:40. Awesome. I'm not sure why I'm so tired - I didn't go to bed that much later but I guess I was pretty out of it. I think I may have fallen asleep in the shower.

My face felt tight this morning after my shower so I thought to myself 'self, remember to moisturize.' Next thing I know, I've got a hand full of tooth paste and I'm about to rub those hands together for application. Hmmm, not sure that's going to help.

I decided to dress up a bit for work today, mostly because my most favorite purple work top (with polka dots and ruffles! it's cute, I swear) was clean and would give me an excuse to wear my super hot black pencil skirt. As I looked in the mirror once my outfit was complete, I realized my skirt had lint alllllll over it. Ick. I grabbed my lint roller and made a swipe. Equipment failure extreme - the roller pushed all the lint it had collected in swipes previous and deposited them on my skirt. The paper was completely un-sticky (non-sticky? stickiless? whatever). I lifted up the corner of the sans-sticky sheet to go to the next, gave a little pull, and ....... the entire roll unraveled like a 2 year old with Charmin. Aparently lint rollers expire. I was unaware. And now covered in lint.

Metro was running with *h*u*g*e* delays today, so I quickly fired off some emails before crossing the bridge so hopefully I won't get nailed for turning in some docs late. I arrived at Chinatown, my transfer point, and proceeded to go to the wrong platform. I looked around thinking, "hmmm, that train should be going the other waaaaaa- fudge." Walked back over to the correct side and caught my train.

When I finally made it to my stop, late as usual, I decided what I needed more than anything was coffee. Good coffee. I sent a quick email to a couple other people with the "hitting up starbucks - who wants some" message. Within 3.4 seconds, a new world record, Dorothy responded with her order. One Big Big Latte coming up. I decided to treat myself to a venti as well - I have the feeling I could use the extra caffination today.

I headed into work, managed to open the massive door in front while balancing two venti cups against my chin and dropped Dorothy's off. No trips, no falls, no spillage. Thank the LORD.

Within 2 minutes of sitting at my desk, 1/4 of my latte ended up in my little basket of binder clips. yay me. go team. rah freakin' rah.

So now the question is do a) I go and wash all 50 of my little binder clips now dripping with my skinny vanilla latte, b) just put them back sticky and covered in milk - that will teach people to steal my clips, c) throw them away and start from scratch, or d) abort mission - just go home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why didn't you tell me baby?

It came to my attention that not everyone in the world has been notified about the epidemic hitting playgrounds and McDonalds everywhere. Please, for the love lunchables, talk to your kids about this, before someone else does...

Monday, August 18, 2008

From a Me to a We

I headed home last week, eager for some time off, armed with some fun news, and just a tad (ok quite a bit more than a tad) reluctant to be gone at this exact moment. I should say something grown up and professional, such as it's my uber busy career in finance giving me the hesitation to be gone for a while, but really it was something so much more fun than that.

A few select people knew my news in advance, but I was a little apprehensive to say anything to the parental units because that makes it so...real. A name. With the adjective 'boyfriend' in front of it. Big. Screaming. Deal.

My first morning at home, mom and I were wandering around downtown on search of post cards. I found one that was just right and got in line to buy it. My mom looked at me and said, "A postcard? Only one?" 'Yes, mother. One postcard.' "Well...whooooo...are...yousendingitto?"

I could have made something up, said Jen or Jess or anyone, but at the moment I realized I was ready for it to be real. I took a deep breath and said 'it's for my boyfriend, mom - Westley.'

My mother is one of the most prim and proper women you will ever meet - she could put Emily Post to shame. But at that moment, she could not hold it in - her emotion, for one of the first times in my presence, got the best of her and she started jumping up and down.

I suppose I could write a novel about how utterly embarrassing and horrifying it was to watch my 50+ year old mother act like the 3 year old finding the perfect toy in the cereal box but instead I smiled and laughed at my ridiculously cute mom finding joy in my crazy mixed up life. And when it came down to it, I couldn't find any fault in her response - I've been jumping up and down on the inside for quite some time now.

It's an amazing moment, to go from a me to a we. It's a small accomplishment, really, to say on a Monday "we just saw the most amazing show" instead of "I went to see a great band" but somehow that one little word changes the story completely. It's a fun place to be right now, in the early stages and its so wonderful to know, resolutely and definitively, that he's enjoying this crazy ride as much as I.

Speaking of a great show, WOW. Pretty much amazing. Obviously the company played a huge part in the enjoyment but the breathtaking skill of Dr. Lonnie Smith only further highlighted how amazing the guy sitting next to me is. Turns out Westley's not a huge jazz fan like me but had the foresight to pick this show, knowing I would enjoy it, in the amazing Blues Alley venue, starting off one of the best weekends of record in my world. I could keep going, but the gushing needs to be kept to a minimum. I don't want anyone to vomit on their keyboards and send me bills.

In short, my cheeks hurt from the smiling, my heart is light as a feather, and I'm as corny as Kansas in August. Dr. Smith's rendition of "Someday My Prince Will Come" just came on. Let's change that to did. La vita รจ bella.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And I'm telling you, I'm SO leaving

On a jet plane...tomorrow.

I should be packing right now. And finding my toothbrush. And filling up my shampoo bottle. And trying to figure out if I can survive on a five day trip with 6 pairs of shoes and 2 pairs of socks (let's keep those priorities in line kids...)

But instead I'm not. I'm checking my latest obsession... oh my heavens is it fun. You should join. Right now. Then, tomorrow at precisely 3 pm, you'll get the update that I have heartburn. Just what you've always wanted, I know...

I am leaving tomorrow though- back to Northern Michigan. On purpose. I checked the weather forecast for my time at home - highs of 75. Max. In full sun. This is the way summer should be people. It's a little odd to pack for a summer vacation and be more worried about sweatshirts and jeans than shorts and tank tops, but not when you head up north. Thankfully Klue is still at home with a closet she is happy to share (I suitcase is running out of room).

In my absence, enjoy my top 5 accomplishments from the weekend:
1. Went to a Nationals game with some awesome people and not only scored free tickets but managed to get free food too.
2. Stayed up till 4 am (fun), forgot to turn my alarm clock off (not fun) and was wide awake at 6:45 am (pure genius).
3. Took a nap by the pool (awesome) but didn't turn arms, body, or head - thus one side of my face is burned (not awesome).
4. Hooked someone new on The Office; was repaid in full by a new addiction to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I think this guy's a keeper...
5. Found the best Sunday night activity combination - pedicures, Tater Tot Casserole, and Fight Club. hot, Hot and HOT.

Quite the weekend. Only one more day of work, then a 5 day weekend. Huzzah.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kill Her With Kindness

I'd like to think overall I'm pretty good at not sweating the small stuff. I try to be that calm duck on top of the water while my feet are kicking madly beneath the surface. My job has helped me develop a thick skin I a) needed and b) appreciate daily. But there are a few people who still manage get my goat, one of whom was staying over last night.

I was dreading going home all day. Anxiety levels were unbelievably high and I hadn't even seen her yet. Thankfully I had to work late, then I met up with a friend for dinner hoping to minimize the possible contact time. On my metro ride home it struck me how ridiculous I'm being. Since when do I back down from a fight? Why am I fighting passive aggressive behavior with passive aggressive behavior? This is going nowhere. I started analyzing the situation, asking myself what the root of the issue really is. Is she a fairly miserable person? Yes. Is she amazingly talented at getting under my skin? Yes. Does this mean I don't have to be nice to her? Yes.....well, no.

I remembered something I read written by a woman who worked at a coffee house. Dee was frustrated people didn't treat her with the same respect and attention she was giving them. She remembered tens or even hundreds of individual orders, preferences, kids names, etc, and yet so few could remember just one name, or even bother to look at her name tag and call her by her name. My brief time as a restaurant employee gave me the same frustrations - I'd greet someone with "Hello! How are ya?" and the response invariably would be "Yes, I'd like a...." After a while, I stopped expecting people to answer my question and generally stopped asking all together. Dee's response was different - she decided instead to 'kill them with kindness.' Over time, she started noticing a difference. There would always be those people who would view her as just an extension of the espresso machine but others stopped and saw she was more than an excellent frother. She had a name, she had a daughter, she had a great sense of humor. She was a kind and generous person who deserved kindness in return.

I decided to give it a whirl last night. I didn't rush home after dinner but as I got home, I psyched myself up for battle before going in. She was there and was not in a good mood. I greeted her, she returned it with a heavy sigh but with a hello. I couldn't tell if she was just tired or annoyed that I was home later than I said I would be. I asked her if she was psyched up for her daughter's move this weekend. She was not. Ok then. Well it will be fun to see her new place! She does not like it. Well then...

I took a five minute break from the action to recompose myself. She was not going to make this easy. I went back out and asked if she'd like me to set up our extra bed in the living room for her. She looked at it and said "it doesn't look comfortable." Well, it's just a twin I replied, but it's more comfy than the carpet! "Oh. I don't think so. But I might put the mattress on the floor." Sure! I said. I have sheets to fit it! And blankets! I can grab them for you in a minute. "No, I brought my OWN sheets. I don't want yours." Ok, I said, but if you'd rather, I also have an air mattress - it might be better than the green thing -- just let me know, I'm happy to get it out for you. "No, I'm sleeping on that tomorrow. (big sigh) At Marie's. Air mattress (mutter mutter mutter)..." And then she gave me the full body turn away to face the TV.

I wanted to run over to her, give her a hug, and scream in her ear 'I'M BEING NICE TO YOU DAMMIT AND I DON'T HAVE TO! BE NICE TO ME - YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE GROWN UP HERE' but I didn't. She clearly needs more hugs and compliments and sunshine and puppies, etc, but not from me, and not tonight. I don't want to make one of those sweeping statements of "thank God I'm me and not her" so instead I made more of a "thank God I am me. Period. Dot." Who knows why she is the way she is. Freud probably has some ideas, therapy might not be a bad idea, but in the mean time, even if it kills me, I will be nice. Nicer than nice. A friend just sent me an email forward with a bunch of pink fru fru crap but at the end it said "Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." I don't know what she's fighting, but from the looks of it, she could use all the help she can get.