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My New Haircut

November 22, 2009 1 comment

My friend, the reigning queen of Match.com, came into town a couple of weeks ago for a visit. It was the first time in three years I had seen her, and not much had changed, except for the last time we were together she was on the verge of finalizing her divorce.

Years later, and a few relationships later, she was back on the prowl. A smart, sassy, gorgeous girl, she has no problem whatsoever striking up a conversation with anyone she pleases.

On Friday night, while another girlfriend and I were brutally beating some poor baby-faced men at shuffleboard, my visitor met a sweet, young musician. At the end of the evening, my friend got musician guy’s number and told him he could meet up with us the following night.

Twenty-seven hours later, we were on our fifth bar and the friendly musician was having a hard time keeping up with us seasoned party-ers. After a shot of rough whiskey, he and my friend went outside for a smoke. They started kissing, and moments later, he tumbled to the ground. Just straight up fell with no good explanation.

Before the bar closed, the bartender bought my friend and her clumsy beau another shot. Down it went. And down the musician almost went on our walk to the subway.

Once on the subway, a pattern emerged of the musician falling asleep on my friend’s shoulder, and then lifting his head to make out with her, and then falling again. Four stops into our ride, he said he had to run and sprined off the train. As we pull away I see him throwing up along the side of the subway stop. All I could think was good for him for having the sense to get off instead of puking all over my friend’s lap.

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old bold Catholic University kid had managed to find his way into the seat next to my friend. Brave as he was, I am certain he regretted that decision.

You see, drunk or not, my friend is a quick lady. And she very soon called him out, loudly, for coming over because he thought he could slide into the musician’s place without her noticing. But somehow, between the introduction and the call-out, she learned this young chap was from Jersey. So all of a sudden my drunk, brilliant friend, was yelling, over and over again, “Heineken! Jager Bomb! Heineken! Jager Bomb!” with the best Jersey accent she could muster.

Sitting diagonally from her, I thought she had lost her mind. Why was she screaming drink names to this poor kid, in between telling him he had no chance with her?

Lil’ dude didn’t shy away quickly. So when he asked what was so wrong with making out with him, she quickly replied” “Well first of all, what is with your hair? That’s terrible hair. And those shoes are gross. Get some new shoes…”

And on it went intermixed with cries of Heineken! and Jager Bomb!, and something about a new hair cut. Until the young man, finally retreated to his original seat, next to his very embarrassed friend.

But not before the whole front of the subway car was shedding tears from laughing at my friend’s antics. Two people told me it made their night.

Turns out the cries of Heineken! Jager Bomb! and New Haircut! were from this clip, called “My New Haircut,” which makes quite a lot of fun of Jersey guys. Please watch. I promise you will laugh.

A sidenote to this story is four days before my friend arrived in DC she had so badly broken her toe, she had to wear a giant grey robo-boot her entire trip. A sight to be scene as she hobbled along, holding up drunk musician guy. The boot also ended as a prop in the subway scene. My friend railed it against the metal siding of the train every time she was making a point, or screaming Heineken! Jager Bomb!, to the pitiful young man beside her.

To the young man’s credit, he did perform a full-on bow prior to exiting the train. I was surprised he had enough manhood left to pull that off.

Cheers for the friends in life who never fail to make an evening memorable.

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Categories: Bars, DC, Friends

Sanctuary For My Tired Soul

Deer in the woods

“…with the smell of the woods, and the wind in the trees, they will forget the rush and strain of all the other long weeks of the year, and for a short time at least, the days will be good for their hearts and for their souls.” President Franklin Roosevelt speaking about vacationers to national parks in his speech at Shenandoah National Park‘s dedication, July 3, 1936.

My good friend from high school flew from California last weekend to go camping with me in Shenandoah National Park. Before motoring out of the District Friday morning, we both switched our BlackBerrys off, not to be switched back on until the drive home Sunday. I went 52 hours without my phone or access to the internet. It was fantastic.

When we arrived at our campsite, it was very, very cold. A lot colder than either of us had planned for. It turns out weather.com for “Shenandoah National Park” doesn’t account for the high points of the park. We both immediately regretted forgetting gloves.

After inspecting where to place our tent, we realized we also forgot chairs for the fire. The picnic table provided was chained to the ground, and way to far away from the fire pit to pick up enough warmth for our chilled bones. My friend was determined we would find something on our short hike to place our bums upon.

And he was right. Midway back from our mile walk to the closest lodge, I pointed out a log that looked just big enough for the both of us. Little did I know how much wood weighs. I tried to pick up one corner and could barely get it an inch off the ground. So my friend, sturdy, reliable guy he is, heaved what had to be at least a 70-pound piece of solid wood over his shoulder, and trekked it the half mile back to camp. He threw it down by the fire pit, we put a piece of plastic around it, and used the duct tape my friend had carried all the way from San Diego to secure the plastic in place. Voila…bench.

Once the fire was blazing, the red wine started going down easy and the cold didn’t bother us. We crawled into our tent after most other campers had called it a night, and looked forward to a good night’s sleep.

And that’s when Nature decided to make it interesting. About an hour after we got into our sleeping bags, the wind started whipping, and water started coming down from the sky. Our tent walls rattled and our tent roof , now coming undone on two sides, smacked against the sides. Halfway through our sleepless night, our poor tent couldn’t take anymore and caved in halfway, folding down onto the bottoms of our sleeping bags. The water started flowing in.

We spent the rest of the evening trying, and failing, to ignore the noise and the water seeping in. I had to shift around a bit to relieve my legs of the pressure from the fallen tent poles. The next morning, my friend’s first order of business was getting us to the lodge for a hot breakfast. Screw Pop Tarts and apples after the night we had.

We both agreed there was no way we were spending another night like the one before, and managed to find a cabin room at the Skyland Lodge for $98. The hot shower, and cozy twin bed, was worth every cent of my $49. Oh and the roof and the heaters…

Before settling at the lodge, we managed a hike in the rain, down to Dark Hollow Falls.

Buck in the bush

The beauty of Shenandoah left me awestruck, despite the terrible, wet weather. In our few days there, we were fortunate enough to see what had to be at least 100 deer, as well as a black bear meandering across the road. I was about three feet from a buck with my camera. I was very fortunate he didn’t decide to charge and take me, and my Nikon D60, out.

After a night of playing cribbage, drinking beer, and watching college football at the lodge, and another delicious breakfast, we set out Sunday morning on another hike. The weather had mostly cleared, and the sun started pushing out the clouds.

We trekked our way up to Stony Man Overlook. At 3,100 feet, the view of the color-changing trees, Skyline Drive, and Virginia below was magnificent. There is something about standing at such heights, looking down, that makes life seem so small and harmless. The view from the top of the world always leaves me feeling like everything will be okay, like somehow this vast, beautiful world is so much bigger than me and my problems. From up there, looking down at so many others living their lives, I am reminded mine will go on, despite hard times.

View from Ston Man Cliffs

After our hike, we made our way back to the city, and the next morning I said good-bye to my friend and returned to real life.

I was fortunate enough that same day to see Ken Burns speak about his new documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

He described the 58 parks as, “the Declaration of Independence applied to the landscape.”

He also said, in a call to citizens of all races and backgrounds, “These parks are yours and you stand in them equal to everyone else.”

There is a reason these parks were picked and preserved. They are sanctuaries to tired souls. And they serve to remind us we are only one of many creatures on this planet.

Being in the parks is about more than experiencing nature. It’s about the people you meet along the trails. Nowhere else in the U.S. but on a hiking trail do I find people who say “hi” and “how are you?” to total strangers, no matter what they look like.

It’s about the animals you can see in their element, who don’t run from you, because in National Parks, there are no guns, at least not yet.

And it’s about the stories you create, because you can’t just run to Wal-Mart and pick up chairs and gloves.

My soul felt better after my weekend in Shenandoah. The combination of the company, the surroundings, and the adventure was more healing than any spa or therapy could have been.

“Pivot…Pivot…PIVOT!”

September 21, 2009 2 comments

Last Friday, my fross and I were discussing the mastery and magnificence of the TV show Friends. The conversation began after agreeing that we both couldn’t hear the word “pivot” without thinking of the scene when Ross, Rachel, and Chandler are attempting to guide Ross’ new couch up a set of stairs. I found the clip on YouTube tonight. Just so funny. Comedy doesn’t get simpler then a man yelling “Pivot, Pivot, PIVOT!” and his friend shouting back, “Shut up! Shut up! Shuttt Up!” And yet I can laugh even thinking about it.

I would argue that the chemistry of the cast on Friends remains unbeaten. The show started its run in 1994, when I was 12 years old and entering junior high. A year after I graduated college, the show ended. I based so much of how I wanted my post-college life to be off the lives of the characters. Sad to say I know, but those were my formative years, and I liked believing that life after college could be fabulous apartments in a big city with my five closest friends in the room next door or the apartment across the hall.

The funny thing is I did have that life, twice before the show ended. My last year of college, I lived with one of my best friends, and our five guy friends lived in the apartment in a building attached to ours. We had no Central Perk, but we had the boys’ living room, which was good enough. And we spent all of our time together.

I had that life again in Santa Monica, where I lived with two of those same boys, and another best friend from college. And Central Perk became our living room, but instead of coffee we drank beer and played cards. We struggled with the transition from school to work, but we didn’t really struggle, because we came home to each other, and lived in one of the most fabulous neighborhoods in all of LA.

But life couldn’t stay that way. And now I can’t go back to it. I left LA, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing there.

What I couldn’t comprehend, on the day I drove away, is that I was leaving my Friends days behind me, almost exactly a year after the show ended.

I loved graduate school. I loved caring about what I was learning and having real conversations with my professors who respected me. I fell in love with my closest friend and spent over three wonderful years as his girlfriend. I have a great job now, and I’m on a career track I’m proud of.

But none of that means I don’t often long for the days when I had three or more of my closest friends to come home to. I never spent a weekend alone, or a day alone. Now I have to spend a lot of time alone. And I’m not very good at it.

Here’s the thing though. If I had stayed in LA, or if all of my college friends had followed me to DC, I wouldn’t have had a three-year relationship with a great guy. I wouldn’t have learned that sometimes I have to be alone. And I wouldn’t have grown up. Because it doesn’t work like the TV show. We didn’t pair off and get married. And we couldn’t all do what we were passionate about in the same place.

I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve had a lot of “best days of my life.” Some were with my “Friends” and others were with my boyfriend. And I’m sure there will remain quite a few from each when the total number of best days is tallied up.

I thought it was ironic that what sparked this blog post was the word “pivot.”

Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say about it.

Main Entry: piv·ot
1 : a shaft or pin on which something turns
2 a : a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect b : a key player or position; specifically : an offensive position of a basketball player standing usually with back to the basket to relay passes, shoot, or provide a screen for teammates
3 : the action of pivoting; especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor

I think my friends are the foot on the floor. They remain, despite their distance, the pin that holds me steady as the other foot turns from man to man and from job to job and from place to place.

Sports Love

September 20, 2009 2 comments

My football team, the New England Patriots, suffered an embarrassing loss today at the hands of an opponent whose coach and players had been talking all sorts of smack before game day. It was a frustrating, disappointing afternoon.

For a moment though, I’m going to go back in time six days, to last Monday night, when the Patriots came from behind to win the game against my buddy’s Buffalo Bills. It was the return of Monday Night Football and the return of Tom Brady. And I did a dance in my kitchen.

The day after the game, Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King wrote, “Time will tell if the Patriots are really good and just escaped with one, or if they’re just a member of the NFL pack. The latter’s unlikely. This team has flaws, but this team also has Brady.”

After today’s performance, I may get some sass for using that quote. But in that moment, on that night, Brady and his brand of magic were back, and this fan was left with a 24-hour high.

My love of sports started with a love of sports writing. As a teenager, I used to anxiously await the arrival of my father’s Sports Illustrated. If I found it in the mailbox first it meant I wouldn’t have to hunt for it behind my parents’ toilet later.

Once I had my hands on it, I would try to be good and read it in order. But more often than not, I flipped right to the back page, to Rick Reilly’s “The Life of Reilly” column. Reilly, who now sadly works at ESPN, is my favorite columnist of all time. So much of why I love sports, and all the good and bad that goes with it, is because of him and other sports writers who made me care about the games through the stories they told.

I have never been good at retaining stats or remembering the names of players who aren’t in the news often or aren’t on one of my teams. I don’t follow drafts, or participate in fantasy leagues. And lately, I live without cable, so no regular SportsCenter. But I love Sundays in fall. And I love the moment when you walk into a baseball stadium and the green of the grass first hits your eyes. I love filling out my brackets for March Madness. And I love the sound skates make against the ice when they come to a hockey stop.  And most of all, I love waking up the morning after my team won a big game, or even a championship, and scouring through all of the fresh words set out by sports writers in the wee hours of the night.

I have girlfriends who think I’m slightly off for how much I care about my teams. For example, I bawled into my ex-boyfriend’s shirt after the Patriots failed to complete an undefeated season with a loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. We happened to be watching the game with a roomful of elementary school teachers who didn’t care much about football, and who really didn’t understand how I could possibly care enough to be shedding tears.

I have other friends who believe my love of sports will some day help me land a man. And they could be right. I swear the reason I landed my last boyfriend, or more specifically why he stuck around after a rocky start, was because I got so into the 2006 World Cup. How could he not hang onto a girl who so enthusiastically watched every Germany game?

But trying to impress men, or compete with their vast sports knowledge, has never been a reason for me to care about sports. If it was, I wouldn’t call myself a true sports fan.

The Boston Red Sox are on a hot streak right as playoff season begins. And despite the loss today, the season’s just begun for the Pats, which means a whole lot more chances for Brady magic. To top it off, I’ll be wearing my new #21 t-shirt at the Verizon Center on Wednesday for a Washington Capitals preseason game, and then again on October 3 for the home opener.

Thanks go to talented sports writers, my baseball-loving parents, my sports-playing little brother, all of my ex-boyfriends, and my hockey-obsessed college friend for making me care about the game. I can’t imagine a life without my sports love.

Walk On

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment
Lately, I have heard a lot about my own strength. People comment on how “strong” I am being as I stare down my family troubles and a broken heart. My question to them is do I have another choice?
Am I being strong? Or do people say that as a way to encourage strength? And is it strength, or just life?
I was listening to Pandora today at work and The Weepies started to play. It was a song I had never heard, “Can’t Go Back Now,” and before it was even over, I found the music video on YouTube and sent it to my best friend. It made her cry (hopefully in a good way). The lyrics follow (but I recommend clicking the link and watching the video. It features Deb Talan and Steve Tannen, the husband-wife duo, as puppets).

Yesterday, when you were young,
Everything you needed done was done for you.
Now you do it on your own
But you find you’re all alone,
What can you do?

You and me walk on
Cause you can’t go back now.

You know there will be days when you’re so tired that you can’t take another step,
The night will have no stars and you’ll think you’ve gone as far as you will ever get

But you and me walk on
Cause you can’t go back now
And yeah, yeah, go where you want to go
Be what you want to be,
If you ever turn around, you’ll see me.

I can’t really say why everybody wishes they were somewhere else
But in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself

And you and me walk on
Yeah you and me walk on
Cause you can’t go back now
Walk on, walk on, walk on
You can’t go back now

I can’t go back to when my family was intact and I had my boyfriend by my side. All I can do is appreciate I had it while I did.
And now I’m taking steps all by myself. I don’t think that’s being strong. I think that’s living.
My friend’s mom, who I adore, left a comment on my Facebook status yesterday. She wrote, “We were just talking about you last night… and how you love life!”
I am fortunate that my instinct is usually to love life. That’s not to say I don’t complain, or have dark moments. But I never falter from my belief there is a way out of the hole.
My mother used to tell me, “You always have a choice.” I could chose to wallow in self-pity, which I occasionally do, or I can chose to find my way back to happiness. I think me being “strong” is me walking on, with those who love me behind me, in case I need to turn around.

Hello Fall!

September 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Fall arrived over a week ago.

Evey year I’m relieved when fall shows up. For an unexplainable reason, summers don’t always go well for me. I think I’m just not a “summer” person. Maybe that’s why I never want to move back to my hometown, where it’s summer 80% of the year.

I love fall. I love the nip in the air, especially at night. I love pulling my sweaters out of storage containers, and putting my summer dresses away. I love the anticipation of the holidays, even if the holidays have been rocky the past few years. I love when football starts and baseball playoffs begin. I love that soon Caps fans everywhere will be back in red, including me.

Fall calms me. It’s mere presence makes my days a little lighter, even when the load I’m carrying is heavy.

One day after fall arrived, I went on my first date since my break-up. I met the guy through an online dating site. He was a total gentleman. He held doors and paid for our drinks and shared dessert. But he was a suburb-lover, who doesn’t like riding subways, or being in airplanes. He has not been to a movie theater since he saw Cast Away, which came out in 2000. And while none of these dislikes indicate anything is wrong with him, they would put quite a damper on successfully dating a city girl who loves going to the movies and happily rides the subway every day.

A day after our date, he was nice enough to ask me on a second date. I politely declined.

So, for now, I continue to live each day as a single girl. I’m okay with that. At the moment, I’m on a bus to New York to see some of my favorite people in the universe. I already know I will laugh a lot (and drink a lot) this weekend.

And two weeks from now my high school buddy and I will be setting up camp in Shenandoah National Park.

During the week, I’ll be kickballing, hip-hopping, and happy houring my way through the start of fall.

For this single girl, life is filled to the brim. It’s going to be a good fall.

Categories: Date, Dating, Fall, Friends

You Tell Me

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment

A friend from work challenged me to let her choose three ways I could meet single fellows, or at least meet people who I could meet fellows from, and let the blog readers vote on them. She is convinced she knows which one will win, but when voting, I want you to consider the question at hand. After 11 p.m. on Sunday, September 13th, whatever choice has the most votes will be the activity I do. I will document the experience and report back whether I did in fact meet any nice gents.

Below the poll is a more in-depth explanation about each activity (and information if you want to try any of the activities out yourself!)

Let the voting begin…

UPDATE: With 53% of the vote, the winner is Nintendo Wii Night! Check back soon for a post on how the evening turns out.

Virginia Wine Festival

Sept. 19-20, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This festival, at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, is one of the biggest in the area, with live music, vendors of crafts and foods and wineries from across the state (including Breaux, Tarara and Kluge Estate). Single-day tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate; designated drivers and ages 12 to 20 $16, $22; ages 6 to 12 $5, $8; 5 and younger free. 540-745-3378 or http://www.across-the-way.com.

Nintendo Wii Night

Don’t have a Wii? You can use the Front Page’s system Sunday through Tuesday.

The Front Page – Ballston 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA Executive Airport 1005 Sycolin Rd., Leesburg, VA | 703-777-2420

Thriller Dance Class

Join in the simultaneous global rendition of Michael Jackson’s iconic dance.

Joe’s Movement Emporium 3802-3806 34th St., Mount Rainier, MD | 301-699-1819

Categories: Bars, Dating, Friends, Work