12.31.2007

Farewell 2007

I'm back in D.C. after a nice stay in ATL. I really enjoyed being at home. It was very relaxing and I think I spent most of the time eating or watching TV. The highlight of my stay was playing Scrabble with my family, seeing Enchanted with my mom, and catching up with my high school friends. I look forward to going home in February for my mom and aunt's 60th birthday and taking the full week to explore downtown and my old 'hood.

I can't believe that 2007 will be over in just a few more hours. 2007 was both the best and worst year of my life. I had so much fun spending time with old and new friends and pursuing and achieving personal goals. But, I had a hard time adjusting to life without Floyd, with a job that has increasingly become less enjoyable (time for a change!), and with the mistake/lesson learned that was Mr. Rebound.

I'm very optimistic that 2008 will be a great year. I will avoid the love/lust mistakes I made this year in favor of living up what I hope will be my final year in D.C. In particular, here are a few of my goals for 2008:

  1. Finalize the Peace Corps application process and go! I need to get serious with the application. I can't keep telling folks that I'm going to the Peace Corps next fall, if I haven't applied…
  2. Fitness: I want to ramp up my fitness routine in 2008. I know that my fitness level has improved since I joined the gym but I want to go even further in increasing my endurance, strength, and flexibility.
  3. Explore/Revisit: I have a ton of "bright ideas" of things I want to do to celebrate my last year in D.C. I've already drafted A-M, G.F.A., and other friends to come along and I hope that, together, we can check a few locales off my list. For example, I want to tour the White House, Washington Monument and Senate. I also want to head back to NYC, Philly and AC before I go.

So here's to a very memorable year, and I hope that 2008 is even better.

Happy New Year Everyone!

12.26.2007

Live from ATL

Greetings from Atlanta. I'm enjoying the time home with my family. I had a great Christmas. I ate so much food and we played Scrabble after opening the presents. I totally lost at Scrabble, but I won on the presents. The coolest thing I got for Christmas, which I bought for myself, is a tea infuser shaped like a teapot. Finally, I'll be able to sample the loose tea I bought this summer in Paris. Otherwise, I got cash that I hope to spend on clothes--probably jeans and a pair of boots.

I have at least two goals while I'm home, to finish my peace corps essays and to finalize my writer's group submission. I haven't worked on either yet, but I have spent a crazy amount of time watching television. It amazing how much television I've watched and how many snacks I've eaten while watching tv (yay, cheese puffs!!). It's no wonder that I weighed more when I lived at home. All I did was eat and watch tv in my free time. In D.C., because I don't have cable, I spend a lot of time reading and "going places" via metro or my own two feet to fill my day.

I'm hoping to dig out my old bike today. I'd love to ride it around the neighborhood for exercise. I would love to buy a bike for D.C., but I'm too afraid to ride it around given that the D.C. drivers don't know how to drive. But maybe, I will.

12.21.2007

Homeward Bound

In only a few more days, I'll be in Atlanta. I haven't been home since last Christmas and it will be nice to sleep in my old bed again. For my week in ATL, I plan on sleeping in and watching lots of cable television. I also I hope to make the usual rounds to the mall (Perimeter and Lenox) and the Varsity with my mom and to Waffle House with the handful of high school friends that I'm still in touch with. I might even head to the neighborhood gym for a few yoga sessions to help banish holiday stress and combat the excess calories I'll consume.

I do miss living in Atlanta and seeing my high school friends and family on a regular basis, but I've been in D.C. long enough that D.C. feels like home. So, even while I'm sleeping in my old bed and visiting my old haunts, I'll be thinking about D.C. and longing to be off I-85 and back on the Metro.

12.20.2007

Work Holiday Party - All about Karaoke

We set a pretty high bar at this year's work holiday party. A nice amount of people showed up and we had a pretty cool live band. After the band was the central event of the night, karaoke! Our office actually spent a few hundred dollars on a karaoke machine. It's definitely a good investment, given that we will use it at all our program retreats and office events. Karaoke was a hit at last year's party and this year was no different. I enjoyed watching my coworkers take the stage and belt out their favorite songs.

Among the songs I sang, A-M and I did a duet of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Actually, I did more of a William Shatner dramatic talk because I was unable to reach most of the notes. It's so sad that I've lost my singing voice. When I was a kid I was a fairly nice soprano, but now those extended octaves have disappeared. Perhaps, I just need more karaoke practice because I know that I can hit just about any note when singing in my shower.

Tuesday's karaoke was the first time since high school that I've done karaoke. A friend and I used to go to this random Korean/Thai restaurant in Doraville, GA and request songs by Madonna and Abba. Most of the folks there would request songs popular in their native country, so we definitely were a bit out of place. But it was a load of fun. Ah, that reminds me of going salsa dancing and also to clubs in Buckhead with that same friend. I was so into the nightlife scene during my senior year of high school—something that was intensified as a freshman in D.C. and continues today. It will be a sad day when I'm too old, unhip, and busy to go out. Or maybe, I'll just be the old hag in the corner wearing a metallic tube top and skinny, dark wash jeans (assumingly that won't be "in" in 2040).

Gosh, I'm starting to ramble. Let me wrap up. The work holiday party was great (and hopefully my last at my current employer!) and I think that I'll add karaoke to my list of things to do in D.C. before I leave.

12.17.2007

Another Holiday Party

This weekend, I attended a very memorable holiday party. A-M and a bunch of her friends rented out the top part of the 17th Street Cafe to celebrate the end of the year. Most of my buddies from work were in attendance as well as the trio I met through Tree Hugger happy hour (Chatty-Chica rules! I can't wait for our trip to Marvin in 2008!).

I must say that I looked hot. I don't mean to brag or sound superficial, but I worked really hard to transform myself from my usual drab tomboy look into a pretty woman with actual sex appeal. Most importantly, I properly repaired and accessorized the Betsey Johnson dress I scored at Marshall's.

I am not a fan of Marshall's or any of those other discount stores. In fact, every time I enter those stores, I feel faint. My mom says it's due to the recycled, unfiltered store air--mixed with an overwhelming array of junk. But last spring, I scored a lovely purse and just a week ago, I landed a $35 fixer-up dress. The dress was ripped along the split and was missing its belt and removable straps. But I easily remedied it with careful sewing and sniping and a $7 lace scarf from Target. I paired the dress with a cute pair of shoes I'd been eying at JC Penny's for a month--only $14 after $46-worth of discounts!.

I think I did very well for a holiday outfit on a very tight budget. I doubt that I'll ever wear the dress again--I don't think such a thing would be useful in the Peace Corps and I'll probably return from the Peace Corps fat--so that it will be given to a friend or to the Goodwill. As for the shoes, they are super cute but not that comfortable. I'll probably wear them a few times before also giving them away.

It's rather silly and wasteful for me to have spent $60 on an outfit I'll never wear again, but the joy and ego boost I got from transforming myself was truly worth it. My look and aura last Saturday isn't something that I anticipant recreating that often--in fact I've only dressed up a handful of times this year--but it is a great reminder of my potential.

I thank A-M for inviting me to such an amazing holiday party and I thank all my work buddies for sharing such a memorable night with me.

Happy Holidays, all!

12.14.2007

A Trip to the Renwick Gallery

Today, I decided to spend part of my lunch break at the Renwick Gallery. I've passed by that building so many times before and given that today is a rather slow at work and the sun is still shining, I decided to take a look.

First of all, the building is beautiful. The exterior and interior are both grand and reflect the architecture and styling of the time period. The grand salon really was grand, and I enjoyed viewing George Caitlin's stacked paintings of the "wild west" and the first peoples of America. I didn't get a chance to view the temporary exhibits on the first floor, but I did visit the rooms showcasing American crafts and decorative arts. I am still in disbelief that Wendell Castle's Ghost Clock is made entirely of Honduras mahogany (that just has to be a sheet and not bleached wood!). I also enjoyed "I am nobody" (I forget the artists), which I found haunting and raw yet beautiful.

I think I'll take one more trip to the Renwick before the end of the year to study the Ghost Clock once again, to adore the grandness of the upstairs salon, and to check out the exhibits on the first floor. Then, it's on to the Corcoran Gallery, Decatur House, and the Octagon. Am I missing anything else in this neighborhood?

12.13.2007

Fuel Economy - Up the MPG!

One of the environmental issues near to my heart is fuel economy. Particularly after a short internship in the House and researching background information for my thesis, I became very interested in the decades-long lack of federal action to increase fuel economy.

Low fuel economy hurts consumers, forcing them to fill up their vehicles more often. I'm sure that most folks never really thought much about fuel economy, that is, until gasoline prices broke $3/gallon and fuel costs started to affect the family budget. Now, people care and are clamoring for solutions.

Low fuel economy contributes to our oil dependence--which continues to be a major national security issue for our country. The more oil we use to power our vehicles, the more exploring and drilling we have to do in our own backyards or import from abroad (which we do the most).

And then, there is global warming. Raising fuel economy standards will reduce the amount of global warming pollution that is emitted by vehicles. Generally, for every gallon of gasoline that is consumed, about 24 pounds of global warming pollution is emitted (during the full life-cycle). With more efficient vehicles, folks can travel using less fuel--resulting in reduced oil consumption, global warming emissions, and fill-up frequency.

Fuel economy standards governing the vehicles on America's road haven't been substantially changed in 32 years (see note later about light trucks). That's right, 32 years. Congress, back in 1975--in reaction to the Arab Oil Embargo--passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act which set standards governing the fuel economy of passenger vehicles. Congress sought to double the efficiency of the American fleet by 1985, which they did. But no increase has been mandated since that time--except for a mere 1.5 mpg increase for light duty trucks. As a result, the average fuel economy of the American fleet has languished since the late 1980s and actually dipped a few points as a result of loopholes (what's a law without a loophole?) and the influx of light duty vehicles (SUVs, pickups, etc) that were governed by lower standards.

But now, the tide is changing. Our oil dependence was highlighted by our President, an oil man, and in the past few weeks and months, diverse groups have acknowledged the need for increased fuel economy standards. As the holiday break for Congress approaches, it becomes clear that D-day on fuel economy is neigh.

The 2007 Energy Bill contains an agreement that will increase the fuel economy of the U.S. fleet to 35 mpg by 2020. Assuming that the Senate renegotiates the "controversial" tax provisions out of the bill (of course, we shouldn't increase taxes for the oil companies--they've just had record profits!), both chambers of Congress are set to pass the Energy Bill, and thereby the fuel economy provisions. One can only imagine what our unfortunate president will do...

I've had my fingers crossed for the past few weeks regarding this bill and I continue to pray that Congress and the White House will do the right thing and finally, increase fuel economy.

[Hippo Q. quietly steps down from her soap box.]

12.11.2007

Cake at DAR

Last night, I attended the Cake concert at DAR Constitution Hall. Although they didn't play "The Distance" or "Let Me Go" (my two favorite songs), it was a great show and I wiggled and sang my heart out. The highlight of their performance, besides the hits, was their rendition of Kenny Roger's "Ruby." I haven't heard that song in a long time and I didn't realize that it is about a disabled vet.

Consitution Hall is such a weird place for a concert. Sitting down in the amphitheatre before the show, I felt as if I was about to hear a boring lecture on gun law. It is not at all inducive for rocking out to a band and the nazi-security guards were major buzz kills. We kept trying to get into the aisles to dance--instead of standing between the cramped row of seats, but the guards stopped us all. It was so weird to be at a concert where people are sitting and the security folks won't let you dance in the aisles.

I saw Celia Cruz perform at DAR a few years ago. It was an amazing show, and it was surreal that we were all sitting down--deterred by the guards despite the infectious music. After a few songs, we finally got up and invaded the aisles to dance. En masse the guards can't do anything. There was a need for an aisle invasion last night. But I settled for dancing in my row.

Last night made me really appreciate such live music venues as the 9:30 Club, Black Cat, and Velvet Lounge. Those place allow people to really get into the music and dance and jump along to the rhythm. Hmm...I think it's time for another show.

12.10.2007

Just Breathe!

I'm feeling rather antsy right now. I would love to write about Chatty Chica's party and the cute fixer-upper I scored at Marshall's. Or even, brag about going to the Cake concert tonight. But, there are at least two things hanging over my head right now that are keeping me anxious: my Peace Corps application and my writing.

Peace Corps
Last Friday, I finally summoned the courage to ask my supervisor for a recommendation—thereby, notifying him that I'll be putting in my 2 weeks notice in five to nine months (the normal Peace Corps application process time). Being a histrionic weirdo, I prefaced the request with a story about my desire for a challenge and to take the next step ("I've enjoyed my time working here and I've given it a lot of thought. I feel that now is the time to…"). For a minute or so, I even had myself believing that I was about to put in my two weeks notice.

The fact that I have put in my notice and continue to broadcast my Peace Corps dreams to all whom will listen makes me anxious to finally finish the damn application—which I started last December (and several other Decembers before) and just never finished because I didn't want to deal with writing the essays. But I've given myself one month to finish the essays. I figure that I can get an okay draft by Christmas and then, spend time in Atlanta finalizing it. The next step is to secure the other two recommendations and submit the application. Thereafter, I can focus on the interview, medical/dental records, and final nomination.

Ideally, I'd leave right after next year's election. I want to spend at least two more months at my current employer before moving to a position on the Hill (Keep your fingers crossed!). Most likely, I'll officially move home next fall to spend my last few months with my family before packing up for 2.25 years.

Writing
It's so bad that I haven't written anything new in weeks. I've been either avoiding my story all together or editing what I've already written (which isn't much—just about 20 pages that encompass the first third of the story).

I'm unsure how I want the story to proceed. I know the ending but I don't really know how to best go about the protagonist's actualization. My turn for critique at my writing group is coming up in about a month, so I need to have something by then. Mostly, I need to have text that shows an improvement since my last critique—and I'm not there yet. So again, I'm hoping that I can devote a few nights to getting some new thoughts on paper before working on a selection to submit.

I had hoped to be finished with the basics of the story by now, but instead I feel that I'm even further away from finishing. I guess I didn't realize how hard writing can be, and though I know the key is just to write, I have trouble finding the time or will power to spend an hour or two at the task. But when I do, as I did the Friday after Thanksgiving, it's quite exhilarating. Hopefully, my time at home will afford a few late nights of writing. I'll make some hot cocoa and cake and spend the night doing something I enjoy.

12.08.2007

The cosmos thought otherwise

Last night, I was supposed to see a production of the musical Hair at GWU. I thought that I had planned everything just right, but as seems to be the tradition of anything that I plan, everything sort of imploded. First was the problem of the dinner location being too crowded (a faculty holiday party took up all of Lindy's upstairs seating). We settled for tasty Mehran, which not everyone was enamored with, before getting in line at 6:20 for tickets. All except for six or so tickets are already sold, so we left the stage door without hearing so much as the first lines of the opening tune, Aquarius.

As a coworker put it, the cosmos had something else in mind for my first viewing of Hair. I've wanted to see the show since I was a child, listening to my father's Boston Pop Does Broadway. From that moment, I started researching the show, purchasing the Hair movie and soundtrack and original broadway soundtrack. I even stumbled across the screenplay at the local library. I was obsessed with the 1960s like most of the kids of my generation and Hair revealed to me a slice of that crazy time period.

So, seeing Hair in Central Park or on stage in NYC didn't happen this fall and seeing a production at my alma mater didn't happen. What gives? Perhaps, I'm supposed to see it in April of 2008, the 40th anniversary of the first Broadway show (2007 was the anniversary of the off-broadway production). And if not that, there is always the 50th anniversary. Someday, someway, I will see that show.

Where do I go
Follow my heartbeat
Where do I go
Follow my hand

Where will they lead me
And will I ever
Discover why I live and die

12.05.2007

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful..."

Aww, the first snow of the season! Although I love snow and think that it's beautiful, it always makes me feel rather wistful. I didn't grow up with lots of white stuff, but I have so many great memories of snow/ice/sleet; and I will always smile like a child at the sight of the first snow of the season.

Today, I'm reminded of "snow" days as a kid in Atlanta. In the winter, Atlanta normally get loads of ice or just an inch of snow--that results in the closing of schools, mass hysteria at the grocery store, and sudden driving incompetence on the roads. The house I grew up in was built on a random incline (it was weird because all the houses around us were a few feet lower than ours--as if the builder wanted to ensure that our house overlooked all the others). My sister used to slide down our iced/snowed over driveway, and I used to take out my sand castle set and make figures in the snow. I also made sure to save a few cups of snow in our huge freezer--that's how special and uncommon snow was growing up.

I'm also reminded of the few amazing snowstorms I've experienced in D.C.--going crazy with classmates on the deserted National Mall or cozily sip homemade hot cocoa with my first love. Oh, and the time my lover and I spent hours clearing the sidewalks and car, fearful of falling or being iced in--only to have the sun come out and the temperature rise to a balmy 55 degrees F the following work day. Despite the mountain of balls I made that morning, I never did pelt him with a ice/snowball. My aim was always off.

12.03.2007

A few more big ideas

Things are going well, and aside from my love life, I don't have any complaints. But yesterday, I felt unbelievably anxious and unchallenged. I know that my anxiety stems from finalizing my Peace Corps application and furthering my novella. But, I don't know why I feel unchallenged, given all the new things I'm doing these days. Maybe, it's just another flare-up of twenty-something-itis. So, I'll just apply a band-aid and give myself another near-term challenge involving fitness, income generation and/or creative expression to distract me:

Fitness: I've toyed with the idea of running a marathon or half-marathon for a few years now. Perhaps, 2008 is the year. Indeed, I was inspired by Bend It Like Beckham (which I watched, along with Casi Casi this weekend) to boost my fitness level. I think I finally will add more strength and endurance training to my mild fitness routine. I might even enroll in an adult ballet class to supplement the flexibility, balance, awareness, and strength training thrice-weekly yoga provides.

Income: I've already mentioned that I want to find a part time job. I've been talked out of the bartending and catering scheme, so I think I'll reapply to work at some of the stores in my 'hood. Someone has to be hiring for weekends and evening shifts. And, I'm ready to give a dozen hours per weekend to earn a cash for an amazing summer vacation, though I already sense that I'll regret the extra hours.

Creativity: I'm slowly moving forward with my creative writing venture. I really like the writer's group I joined and have learned a lot about writing from it. But there has to be some other route of creative expression for me. I've decided against music, so perhaps, theatre is it. Or, I could finally start that board game group I've been talking about forever. I'll keep you posted.

11.30.2007

Don’t Pass the Salt!

Once again, salt is in the news.  The FDA held a public hearing yesterday during which advocates from the American Medical Association (AMA) joined consumer groups (e.g., Center for Science in the Public Interest) in calling for federal rules that limit the amount of salt in food and govern how sodium content is labeled on food packaging.  As an AMA representative stated, "Americans don't consume large amounts of salt because they request it, but often do so unknowingly because manufacturers and restaurants put it in."  Check out this ABC News article for a list of common food items that many of us don't associate with a lot of salt.

I've been a salt warrior for several years now (hence, saltwarfare), and I always try to limit my salt intake.  I know that Floyd used to comment that the food I liked was bland and needed salt, but I think his taste buds were just too accustomed to salty foods (as mine used to be).  Overtime, that can change.  There are just so many other amazing flavor enhancers out there that won't increase my cardiovascular health risks like salt.  So, pass the cayenne, paprika, cumin and basil, NOT the salt!

11.27.2007

HIV/AIDS: Get Tested & Spread the Word!

I was going to wait until December 1 to talk about it, but given the troubling article I read yesterday in the Post, I guess I can go on my rant about HIV-AIDS now. D.C. has one of the highest rates of AIDS infections of any U.S. city. The incidence of infection is the greatest among African American women and among the heterosexual population, which is troubling for a straight black woman like me.

It's time for us all to wake up!

Saturday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a time to raise awareness about the estimated 38.6 million people worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS. It is a global health epidemic that has claimed over 25 million lives since 1981--when the first cases of a lung infection later associated with people who are HIV-positive was reported among the male homosexual population in Los Angles. The CDC provides a very nice, though abridged timeline of events: e.g., the 1988 national mailing of CDC/Surgeon General-created brochure, Understanding AIDS, was "the first time the federal government has attempted to contact virtually every resident, directly by mail, regarding a major public health problem."

Though significant strides have been made in the medical field to help prolong and improve the lives of those who are HIV-positive or have full-blown AIDS, the disease still claims too many of our mothers, fathers, best friends, siblings, lovers and children.

So please:

1) Know your status
More than one million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Of those, about one-quarter don't know that they're infected and are unknowingly spreading the disease to their partners. Take control and find out your status.

The Whitman-Walker Clinic offers anonymous, rapid response HIV tests. Planned Parenthood is another good option. For those not in the DC area, visit http://www.hivtest.org/ for a local listing of testing sites.

2) Protect Yourself
There are approximately 40,000 new HIV cases in the U.S. every year.

It's truly amazing that in an age of widespread knowledge about AIDS and all the other sexually-transmitted diseases, people don't or won't protect themselves. Believe me, I definitely haven't been a saint all my life. I totally understand what it's like to "be in the moment" or too naked & drunk to think, but your overall physical health must take precedence over your id at all times. It is lesson that is best learned when HIV-negative and not driven home by the reality of being diagnosed with HIV.

3) Spread the Word
It probably isn't the sexiest conversation to have with a lover, but talk about your status and ask your partner about his/her status. Whether or not the relationship is monogamous and long term, keep open the lines of communication about your sexual health status and risk of infection due to current risky behaviors. You never know…

Also, talk to your friends. You'd be amazed by how many of your buddies have never been tested. Or perhaps, all your pals have been tested. Either way, urge them to be aware of their status and take precautions to stay safe.

You can also put pressure on our political leaders to help hard-hit communities in the States and around the world. We need stronger programs and adequate funding, but to truly be effectively at combating this global epidemic, we must stress prevention, protection, and treatment not abstinence!

4) Take part in World AIDS Day events in Washington D.C.
This site provides great information about events in the D.C. area, including opportunities for free testing and a rally and vigil I'll be at this Friday.

I'm sure that this entry hasn't been as logical or informative as it should be, so if you have additional questions about AIDS prevention, transmission, or treatment, please visit:

http://www.aids.gov/
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/
http://www.unaids.org/

11.25.2007

Olazzo Alone

I treated myself to a pasta dinner last night at Olazzo. I was a bit skeptical about the potential for an enjoyable meal given the slow service when I first arrived.

“Aren’t you waiting for the rest of your party?” the waiter asked. Hmm…isn’t that why the hostess removed the napkin and silverware from the opposite end of the table? So that you’d know I was dinning alone?

“No, I’m just waiting to be served,” I replied, tightly crossing my arms across my chest.

I don’t know what is so odd about a single, 26-year-old female going out alone for dinner on a Saturday night. It was late, I didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to order the usual take-out. I’ve seen numerous other people (usually older men) eating alone. What’s wrong with me doing it? I used to get the same looks of pity mixed with wonder when I treated myself to celebratory solo dinners in Georgetown during freshman year.

The evening progressed nicely. At first, I was tempted to bring out my “eating-out-alone” armor, i.e., reading materials, my small writing notebook, etc. But once the bread arrived, I calmed down and began to enjoy the experience. Eating alone at a restaurant isn’t ideal—interesting conversation adds so much to a meal. But eating alone can be quite enjoyable.

I feasted on shrimp rose. The food was very satisfying on such a cold night, and I do believe that I’ll return to Olazzo with friends for half-priced martinis.

Before I headed home, I stopped at Starbucks for a devilishly sweet gingerbread latte. Mmm...

11.22.2007

Abuse

On my way into my apartment tonight, I encountered a woman I remember seeing in my upstairs neighbor’s apartment (when I was locked out). I thought I saw blood on her nose, but because I wasn’t able to read her eyes, I figured I’d imagined it or that it was just a nosebleed. But then, I saw two of my female neighbors leave their apartment, apparently to look for her. I guess I had just missed an argument upstairs.

I’ve heard my neighbors fight before—my neighbors to the right and my neighbors right above me. I always listen for wounded crying or an escalation to the fight—because then, I’d call the cops. For the couple living to the right of me, things rarely seemed to go that far (my walls are thin, so I can usually hear most arguments from my bedroom). For the apartment above me, I’ve only been awoken once by an argument. That argument was very intense. It started around 4:30 and didn't seem to end until make-up sex (I can always hear the bed squeak) around 6. I was repeatedly awoken by the noise that night, but I didn't call the cops. I just hopelessly listened and prayed for the argument to end without physical harm to either.

My heart breaks to think about the scores of women, children and men who face emotional and physical abuse everyday. I can’t imagine how much the abuse hurts their being and how hardened and numb they become as a result—and how that affects their future relationships and sense of self.

I understand that abuse begets abuse so that the abused become the abuser and the abused continue to seek abuse. I don’t know what to think or how to feel but I know that next time I see my neighbor pass by in the stairway with apparent blood on her nose, I will stop and offer help. I doubt that she’d take it but at least she’d know that she has one more female neighbor that wants to help.

Although I don't have any standing to seriously talk about this issue, I want to send a virtual hug and say:

  • To all those who are currently in an abusive relationship, please find the strength that’s always within yourself to leave. If not that, at least share your struggles with a trusted friend who will help you find a way out.
  • To all those who have been abused in the past, don’t let the experience limit your life. Stay strong and move forward through life not forgetting but forgiving and allowing the experience to inspire your cause and drive your passion.

Here's a short list of sites that provide more information:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

U.S. Dept. of H & HS Children's Bureau: Resource list

Kidshealth.org: Resource list

***

As a side note, I had a great, lazy Thanksgiving. I kicked ass at Cranium and my contributions—creamed corn and 7-up/Sprite cake were both hits. I was less satisfied with both items this year. I think I overdid it with the sugar, but as long as others enjoy it, my work was done.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Be safe & be strong!

Happy Thanksgiving 2007

Wow, another year is almost over. Time really flew, and I have so much for which to be thankful. Mainly, I'm thankful for my family and friends and all the new experiences I've had over the past year.

Friends & Family: I don't know how I would have gotten through the ups and downs of this year without my family and friends.

I have so many amazing memories with my buddies, particularly A-M, L-M, GFA, Organica, Chatty Chica, and Shimmy-Shimmy and the rest of GLOG, among others. I've danced, drunk, eaten, shopped and gabbed for hours and hours with them. A special thanks goes to those who lent an ear during my Floyd and Mr. Rebound drama; a special thanks to Floyd for being Floyd.

Of course, I've enjoyed having the unconditional support of my mom and the rest of my family. I know that despite all the crazy and not-so crazy things I did this year, I can always go home to Atlanta and be welcomed with open arms.

New Experiences: One of my mantras this year was to "say yes whenever possible." This enabled me to become more active in the community, meet new people, and have a blast exploring d.c. bars and restaurants. I remember being less inclined to do stuff when Floyd was around. But now, I'm in control of my own schedule and I don't have to consult with a significant other. Of course, I miss P&C time but I love, I relish, and I'm thankful for my freedom and my Me-Time.

This year, I truly sought to live by my favorite quote from Walden and "suck all the marrow out of life." And I think I experienced more this year than I've experienced during most of the years of my life--a major feat. I hope to continue this course of exploration and exposure in 2008.

11.20.2007

Traveling Solo

One of my "bright ideas" for 2008, before I pack my stuff for the Peace Corps (I'll be working on the application this holiday weekend!), is to travel abroad. I'm thinking about visiting the rainforests of Costa Rica/Belize or the ancient ruins of Italy/Greece. Given that I'll be gone for over two years for the Peace Corps, I may just stay in the States and have a blowout I-Love-the-USA week in NYC, Miami, New Orleans or San Diego.

If I go abroad in 2008, I want to do it alone. I was too scared to go to Paris alone this summer. I was afraid of getting robbed, scammed, or lost. But I believe I can find the courage to travel solo by this summer. Traveling solo will be more of a challenge, and therefore, more exhilarating. It will also provide immense time for introspection. I definitely had time for reflection in Paris, but I think I could have had even more time and space for musing if solo. And that's exactly what someone suffering from a post-midlife crisis needs (I'm about to turn 27!). I probably will get lonely on the trip—at least until I find others to tag-along with—but it will surely prepare me for the loneliness I'll feel as a new Peace Corps volunteer.

Anyone reading this blog who has traveled alone, please drop me a comment—any and all advice is welcome.

11.19.2007

Edward Hopper at the National Gallery

Before I decided to write a rant on the holidays, I had hoped to talk about my weekend. I accomplished a lot over those 48 hours, but one of the most memorable activities was unplanned.

I attended another silent movie at the National Gallery (The Merry Widow). Given that I arrived downtown much earlier than expected, I decided to take an hour to view the Edward Hopper exhibit. A-M had been talking about it for the past few weeks and I figured that I needed a bit of culture that day. The exhibit was wonderful. Hopper's use of color, light, and perspective was phenomenal. Throughout the exhibit, I felt aspects of my own existence reflected in his work. I sensed my own experience of isolation, loneliness, and unease in the female figures' expressions/non-expressions and the cold-warm, bleak-beautiful landscapes and cityscapes.

The painting that struck me the most, and the one that I'll be back to view this Saturday (yes, another movie…) is Summer Interior. Interestingly, this painting is said to have been influenced by Degas' Interior, which is another troubling, beautiful and ambiguous painting. I won't bore you with my interpretation of either because it's irrelevant and personal—just mentioning it in this entry reflects my own psyche. But I encourage you to go to the National Gallery to view Summer Interior (near the exhibit's entrance) and Hopper's other masterpieces.

Bah, humbug (already)

I hate the holidays.

Of course, I like going home and spending a little quality time with my family and old friends, but there is just so much unnecessary pressure and hollowness associated with this season. Maybe it's all in my head...

Thanksgiving is definitely more laid back and enjoyable, but the crazy travel delays are overwhelming.

Christmas is a whole other animal that has been largely usurped by capitalist endeavors so that what was once holy is now subjugated to the dollar and the self.

Don't get me started on New Year's Eve. There is so much hype and pressure placed on that night. I know that I've had amazing Eves and quite boring, anxious Eves. There is so much pressure to usher in the New Year in style while drunk and snogging your chosen mate.

I don't think that I was always this way about the holidays and actually, I know exactly when things took a negative turn. I'm just glad that the season only lasts a month and a half. Then, we can all get back to our normal, miserable (!) lives and start paying off the debt that we racked up in empty hopes of making the holidays bright, cheerful, secular and picture-perfect.

11.16.2007

Pilates: 1, Hippo Q: 0

I ventured to a Pilates class with A-M last night, and it was definitely an experience.

I took Pilates once in college but shunned the practice after struggling through an awful 60 minutes of trying to keep up with the instructor and a class seemingly packed with gymnasts and dancers.

I feel that I'm in the best shape of my life right now (even better shape than when I was a high school soccer player—and I was pretty solid back them). Yet, I still had the hardest time scooping, pointing, raising and lowering my legs and arms last night. I couldn't stop laughing at my own ineptitude—my legs/arms/head were just too darn heavy to "lift slowly while scooping." It was very humbling to realize that in spite of the fitness progress I've made this year, I have little to no core strength.

This morning, I can still feel the workout in my abs, lower back and legs, but instead of sensing defeat and conceding to the god/esses of Pilates, I've decided to add this class to my normal fitness routine. If the instructor's appearance was any indication, Pilates will surely do wonders for my body, posture and presence.

11.15.2007

Going on a Man Hunt

Going on a [man hunt]
I'm not afraid
Got a real good friend
By my side…
(I'm sure you remember the clapping and knee-slapping rhythm for this children's campfire song)

I was invited on a man hunt this Saturday, but I don't know if I should go. I know that it will be fun, but I'm a bit nervous about going out for the first time with the sole intention of flirting with guys. I guess I'm just so new to the whole single thing and it scares me beyond belief (especially after my missteps this summer).

It's pitiful that I lack the dating confidence and experience of most women my age—being in a serious relationship since 19 does that to you. My knowledge and experience with dating and guys is limited to a few anecdotes shared by high school and college friends. Let me be honest: I have no experience at all. I dated a guy in junior high for like a month and then, fast forward to freshman year, I started dating a 25 year old (My mom was not at all fond of the age difference). Being a wall-flower in high school and in a relationship during most of college limited my dating experiences.

The good thing about going out is that my chatty friend will show me how to effectively approach guys—about which I know nothing. Yet, I don't really see the point of man hunting at a bar given that most likely the guys there just want to get laid that night. So, if I do go out, I'm not going to seriously try to get or give out telephone numbers. Instead, I'll leave the man hunting to my friend and serve as a wing-woman for what is sure to be a memorable girl's night out.

11.14.2007

I'm a DC Blogger too!

I signed up for a DC bloggers meet-up group that has monthly meetings and a discussion board. I joined because I want to become more active in the DC blogger community and because I would love to meet other bloggers and get advice on how to effectively grow my blog.

My concern is that once I meet other bloggers and share my blog's url, I'll lose my anonymity. Right now, only about seven people know about my blog and I'm certain that I want to keep the number under 10. I feel that I already censor my entries enough now (I learned my lesson after Floyd read my entries on Mr. Rebound.). I truly value my anonymity--the freedom to write about stuff without having to worry about it being attributed to me, and I don't want my blog to harm relationships with my current/future employer, friends, relatives, etc.

Anyway, I plan on attending the next DC bloggers happy hour because I want to become a face (and not just a url) in the DC blogging community.

11.12.2007

Alcohol + Boys

I’ve had many memorable nights of being intoxicated. I can remember running down deserted streets in Foggy Bottom with my roommate, laughing and screaming. I can remember singing and dancing along to Britney Spears with several dozen of my new best friends. I can remember sharing my deepest secrets and fantasies with complete strangers. And there’s a lot more that I can’t remember at all.

I’ve had some of the best nights of my life while drunk and also made some of the poorest decisions of my life while drunk. My problem isn’t with alcohol—alcohol, on its own, is just fine. My problem is when alcohol is introduced in a setting with guys. It heightens the sexual energy of a place and does something truly dreadful to girls like me.

I will deny you any details of my own (very rare) crazy nights with guys and alcohol. I’m sure that everyone reading this blog can think of a night blurred by alcohol-fueled passion. But they always run the same script: girl goes out to have a good time, girl drinks a lot, girl becomes sexual goddess, girl finds responsive partner, girl wakes up wondering, "Did I really kiss/touch/shag my best friend/coworker/boyfriend's best friend/boss/that old creepy guy in the bar?". It’s just the power of alcohol. It thankfully and regrettably rids you of your inhibitions and fears, at least until the next morning.

I think that I've learned my lesson about alcohol and boys (The drunken events of this summer still make me cringe). So pass me another glass, and dear sweet boys, stay away.

11.11.2007

Silent Movies are Great!

I love old movies. I grew up watching AMC (and later TCM) with my mother, delighting in the performances of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joan Crawford, among others. Although most of the movies I like best came out in the 1930s (pre-code!) and 1940s, I do have a soft spot for silent film. I’m amazed by early cinematography and acting styles and how both impacted the modern movie experience.

Today, I saw Way Down East at the National Gallery. The restored film was accompanied by a pianist who played most of the original score (about 10 percent was improvised). The pianist played during the entire 2 hours and 25 minutes of the movie, without a break.

I was simply moved by Lillian Gish’s portrayal. She was amazing and her eventual love interest and rescuer, Richard Barthelmess, was quite dashing. Of course, I loved the famous blizzard (real frozen tears on her lashes and cheeks!) and ice floe rescue sequence. I also enjoyed the traditional silent movie characterizations of the villain and town gossip.

It’s interesting how the movie’s themes are so applicable to life today. I guess it just underscores how the human experience doesn’t vary much. The costumes may change; the lifestyle may change but there will always be love, loss, betrayal, sorrow, and joy.

11.08.2007

Dating 101: Divide & Conquer

I was the victim of divide and conquer. I know that I've been such a victim before, but this time I was very aware of its occurrence--perhaps, partly due to reading the amusing and thought-provoking, though rather juvenile, musings of Rooshv and Roissy.

Last night, at an alumni event I was chatting up this guy (Dude). I wasn't interested in him, just trying to be friendly and test my networking skills. A blonde chick standing nearby inserts herself into the conversation. A few minutes later, Dude's friend (Wingman) swoops in and starts talking to me. I take the bait and wonder off with Wingman, leaving Dude the freedom to apply his game on the blonde chick. This was a classic "divide and conquer" or whatever guys call it these days.

Summary: Wingman (6-7) swoops-in and rids Dude (7-8) of Average-Chick (6-7) so that the Dude can focus on Hotter-Chick (7-8).

Who knows if it was planned (and part of an unspoken Dude-Wingman agreement), I was just struck at how deft the whole maneuver was. The blonde got paired off with a compatible Dude and I was left with someone who I found interesting and perhaps, was a bit more "on my level."

Ah, "my level." I've come to accept "my level" (more or less). I'm at least 6 and I think I have the potential to be a 7. Unfortunately, instead of doing my best to ensure that my appearance and persona boost me to a 7, I lazily languish as a 6. Don't get me wrong, I get noticed by guys but my looks are better categorized as sweet and cute than hot and sexy.

So, based on my interpretation of the blog musings I mentioned early, my dating options are to find

1) A compatible 6-7,
2) An unfaithful (or in some other way defective) 8-9, or
3) A 4-5 with lots of money, superb bedroom skills and/or an amazing personality.

I'm aiming for option 1.

11.07.2007

2008 Election, Step One: Register to Vote

Wow, I can't believe that we are less than a year away from Election Day. Less than a year away from the end of the unfortunate eight-year reign of the Bush Administration. I can't wait for it to end! Ideally, the democrats will maintain power in both Houses and a democrat will once again walk the halls of the White House.

But, before I start blogging about candidates, parties, and platforms, I want to talk about registering to vote. I know that I've talked about the importance of this before, but given that there are only a few months until the primaries, I figure I need to reiterate the message.

Regardless of your party affiliation, economic status, age, ethnicity, or sense of disenfranchisement,

  • You should register to vote.
  • You should vote.

I remember talking with folks about the election in 2006. We were all excited about the possibility of change in Washington and throughout the country. Yet, I was dumbfounded to learn that a few of them weren't registered to vote! Among other qualifications (citizenship, at least 18 years of age, etc), you have to register in order to vote.

Registering to vote is a simple process. Just contact your local Board of Elections, fill out the necessary paperwork and you're in (Check out the Rock the Vote and Declare Yourself pages on voter registration for more info). Sure, registering puts you on the list for the annoyance of random jury duty, but it also guarantees that you'll be able to make your voice heard on issues that are important to you.

11.04.2007

November at last!

As I sit here at home sipping a tumbler-full of Champagne (a leftover mini-bottle from when Floyd moved into his DC apartment years ago), I want to acknowledge the achievements of another month gone by.

I'm glad that I kept myself busy in October with a heck of a lot of extracurricular activities and a full plate at work. Here, here, Hippo Q.:

  • Way to get the big project off the ground and not lose your head when your work tasks kept piling up.
  • Way to go complete and submit a story to the writer's group and bravely take their critique.
  • Way to experience a lot of new things, meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.
  • Way to put more reflection and space between your current life and your crazed life this summer. As always it was real, but c'est la vie. I'm the neither first nor the last to experience what I did.

I think that I will celebrate the end of every month from now on with a toast to my accomplishments. But, I guess that means that I have to actually accomplish something each month. My goals for November are solid bar action, completing my Peace Corps application essays, baking a pumpkin pie with A-M, and getting a bit more legislative exposure at work.

10.31.2007

Halloween 2007

I went to the High Heel Races last night. It’s a wonder that I never went to the event during the six years I was in school because it is a bunch of fun.

I glad that I got to see the actual race and parade of costumes this year, not just the crazy aftermath. The crowds were really large, perhaps given the milder temperatures. I remember freezing last year with L-M as we stood on a bar patio drinking strong $4 drinks.

Of course, there were tons of larger than life costumes on display. The most memorable was the wide stance Larry Craig and the two guys wearing chaps with thongs (yeah, I didn’t need to see that).

The focus now turns to a great Halloween night in Georgetown. I’m very pleased with my costume (or old school “wardrobe,” as Floyd meanly called it—hey, it may not be super cool or creative but it’s still a costume!) and thankfully, my hair, though not as big as I’d hope for, turned out well. In fact, I won the “Biggest Change from Everyday Office Persona” at my work party today!

My partying skills will be tested tonight. This will be my third later-than-normal night out in DC and I have to attend an 8 am training session tomorrow. It will be so hard to get up tomorrow morning if I have the sort of night out I’m hoping for. But whatever, I’ll recover this weekend by not leaving my house other than to take out the trash.

10.30.2007

It’s only Halloween!

Okay, so this year I might actually wear a “real” costume. No, it won’t be anything super creative but something close to my heart and my own retro-sensibilities. I will attempt to dress like a 1950s teenager (though I now realize that my outfit more closely fits with the late 1950s-early 1960s). Over the weekend, I attempted to draw inspiration from watching old movies, including Gidget (Yes, I'm a fan of Sandra Dee!).

I plan on wearing the adorable party dress that I bought this summer. The dress is white with tiny black dots, a fitted bodice and a somewhat full, swing skirt. I hope to pair it with a black sweater, flats and a headband (btw, the look at the right is what I'm going for). The outfit isn’t really appropriate for a fall day so I’ll definitely be cold tomorrow night in Georgetown or Adam’s Morgan.

Yesterday, I went to Meeps in Adam’s Morgan for cat-eye glasses, one of the three things (white gloves, headband, and glasses) I was stressing out about. Despite my special trip for the glasses, I’m feeling just so-so about them because they’re plastic, very costume-y and I can’t see out of them.

My main dilemma is figuring out if I want to flip my hair out or under with a slight bouffant. A traditional flip will be a major hassle and require lots of hairspray. Even then, I’m quite sure that it will fall flat by the end of the day.

I did a trial run of a flip this morning. I spent like 45 minutes setting my hair in rollers last night and had trouble sleeping comfortably (It’s pretty crazy that this would have been the norm for women during that time). This morning, my hair was full and perfectly flipped out--until I started fiddling around and ruining the tight curls. Tomorrow, I’m gonna do as little as possible styling with my fingers and focus on setting it with hairspray.

It is so typical that I’m getting stressed out about a holiday that is all about fun and creative license. I just feel that I need to work overtime to make up for all the years that I put so little effort into a costume (e.g., in 2006, I wore cat ears). This year is all about 1950s/1960s authenticity and fun. Wish me well.

10.28.2007

Just a Groupie

I have all the makings of a groupie.

Last night, I went to Iota to hear LTH's opening act, the Coalmen. I enjoyed the show. Their sound, though I couldn't quite place what it reminded me of, was interesting. It had an alternative-folk rock feel with a definite Nashville twang.

LTH was just okay. The band was super-huge and included an accordion and steel guitar. The weird factor of the night was definitely the masked, old couple dancing and running over people in front of the stage with their weird foxtrot or whatever it was. Who does that?

As is tradition, I was attracted to the lead singer of the band. Sure, I could have been just as easily attracted to the drummer and bass guitarist, but there was something about the lead singer's blue eyes and crooning voice that got to me. Of course, he has a significant other and I'm not the type to make anything happen. But, it's so silly how putting Average Joe on a stage, just 2 feet above me can serve to elevate him to a stratospheric hotness. It's like beer googles, but more groupie googles…

Hmmm. I don't know what it should be called. I just know that I'm quite susceptible to it. I'll still attend as many live rock shows as I can, but I'll steer clear of the groupie scene.

10.26.2007

Jacoby Ellsbury is the man!

Yesterday, I watched the second World Series Game. I enjoyed trash-talking with GFA, a Boston native, and commenting on the players' facial hair with A-M. But the highlight of the night was definitely witnessing Boston Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury steal second base in the fourth inning, enabling all of America to get free tacos.

I just love crispy tacos and though most people abhor Taco Bells' "meat" (yes, ground animal + feces) and non-authentic menu, I would totally be in line next Tuesday, Oct. 30, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to claim my free taco. The only problem is finding a location near work. There isn't one.

Oh, well. Thanks, just the same Ellsbury!

10.24.2007

Work Performance Review '07

Wow, work has really been kicking my butt during the past week—actually the past few months. I'm helping to orchestrate the update and reorganization of my programs' website content (over 170 web pages) and it's taking much more time than I had anticipated. Plus, I'm slowly adding more legislative tasks to my normal outreach workload, which is what I want.

I had my performance review today and I'm happy to report that I'm not getting fired anytime soon. It feels good to get back a positive review but I already feel the pressure to sustain my efforts and improve in those areas that were highlighted (similar areas as before: meeting participation, initiative, etc). It is amazing that I've been at my current employer for over 1.5 years. I can still remember my nervousness regarding my performance review last year. This year, I was more confident as I knew that I'd stepped it up a bit during the past year. But, there is definitely a lot more I can do.

I will try my best to reach for the stars before my next performance evaluation. I have a lot of work to complete in the upcoming year and a lot to prove before I tip my hat and say goodbye.

10.22.2007

Weekend in Review

Wow, I think I need another day to recover from my weekend. Friday night was great, Saturday night was not so great, and Sunday afternoon was redeeming.

Locked out!
It was only a matter of time before I locked myself out of my apartment.

With all the distraction that a normal laundry day brings, I left my keys in my apartment. I can remember closing the door to my apartment and then opening it again to lock the door. Normally, I would check for my keys before doing this, but this time, I didn't.

After freaking out for about 10 minutes, I started knocking on doors for help and eventually, got in touch with the maintenance guy. About an hour later, I was back in my apartment.

Floyd recommended that, in the future, I keep the door unlock while doing laundry. I think that would be a security risk given that I live a few feet from the front door. But if it means that it will help prevent another distressing, helpless hour of being locked out, then so be it.

I thought you went pumpkin-picking…
Yeah, that was the plan, but it didn't happen. Thankfully, Shimmy-Shimmy and her roommate were in the neighborhood and let me crash their trip to Leesburg Corner Outlets. I had a great time shopping and an amazing ride back to the city--the turning leaves were so beautiful and vibrant in the setting sun.

My Story
I have to turn in my writing selection today. The chapter/section I chose is totally not finished but definitely better than it was a few months ago. I am quite nervous about how the group will react, but ultimately I know their critique will help me improve my story.

Solly's U Street Tavern: A
You just can't beat $3 rail drinks that are heavy on the alcohol. The live music upstairs was a plus, but I would have preferred a lower volume.

Busboys and Poets: B+
Although I was starving, tired and drunk (perhaps, not the best state for a food critic), the food (pizza and stuffed Portobello mushroom) was great and the vibe was solid. I'll be back!

10.20.2007

Under 3 Yrs + Wedding Ring

Okay, so I've decided to add two new criteria when I'm judging a prospective mate: age and ring.

Age: I've already mentioned that I lost my father at a young age. As a result, I fear that I get easily attached to father figures when it comes to guys I want to date. This was proven in at least two cases. So, in order to avoid a warped, romantic attachment to a father figure, I've decided to limit the age difference between myself and whatever guy I like to three years.

I remember when Night Runner was dating a 50+ year old man (who was actually a friend of her father's…). I was so weirded out by it and she recently told me that, looking back, she agrees that he was way too old for her. She recommends that I go for guys that are much closer to my own age, and therefore are "on the same page" in terms of their life histories and immediate life goals.

Honestly, I don't know how much I have in common with a guy that is over 30. I'm still just starting out in my career, not rushing to get married, and want to move around a lot more before I settle down with a family. Assumingly, a 30+ year old is a bit more established and settled in his life or at least not as transient as I am as a 26 year old who wants to go back to school, join the Peace Corps, and live in NYC, CA and abroad before 35.

Wedding Ring: I told a friend last night that I'm looking for a guy with a wedding ring in his pocket. I know it sounds silly, but I don't see the point of casual dating. So unless a guy is looking for a wife, leave me alone.

I'm sure that there are a lot of great men that I'll miss out on, but I've learned that I'm not the type to play the field or handle relationships with guys that won't move toward the altar. And since I'm not looking to get married until I've accomplished a few more things in my career and personal life, there's no point of me seriously looking right now. So, I'll just keep my normal circle of friends, adding only male buddies that stay strictly platonic no matter what sort of beer goggles I'm wearing.

10.16.2007

My Rubber Band Ball

Last year when I was covering the front desk, I was disturbed by the number of rubber bands that were collecting in the desk drawer. Each day the mail would come in stacks bound by two rubber bands and over time, the front desk drawer had become full of them. So, I decided to start a rubber band ball.

At first, I didn’t add new rubber bands that consistently (as I only had front desk duty once a week). But now that Organica has taken over the front desk post, she enthusiastically puts aside each day’s rubber bands just for me.

I’m proud to say that my rubber band ball has grown to include over 475 rubber bands. It weighs 19 pounds ounces and bounces really well. It’s about four inches wide which makes attaching new rubber bands rather hard and dangerous. It’s gotten a little too big for the front desk drawer it “grew up in” so I graduated it to my mailbox.

Although I wasn’t faithful in applying the rubber bands in the beginning, its size reminds me of the number of days that I’ve spent at my current job. Perhaps, it even represents the amount of professional and personal growth that I’ve experienced during the past 1.5 years that I’ve been at my organization.

Before I leave, I think that I will slowly (and very carefully!) disassemble the rubber band ball. And perhaps, start a new one wherever I work next.

10.15.2007

No Hablo Espanol

I want to be fluent in Spanish. In fact, it is at the top of my list of "Things To Do Before I Die."

I've tried to learn Spanish. I've taken classes and listened to language tapes. I even nagged my ex to teach me but all I got from him was a basic knowledge of Spanish slang and curse words.

I've eagerly watched Univision and Telemundo. When I was a child, I used to watch a novella featuring Thalia because I thought she was so beautiful and loved the over-the-top acting that I could easily follow without understanding the rapid dialogue. Today, I close-caption Decisiones or Destilando Amor to help expose myself to the language.

But, at 26, I am still a monoglot. It's so sad.

Maybe, I just need to try harder and stop feeling embarrassed when I butcher a language that I'm learning. No one really cares if I'm horrible at speaking a second language. The key is that I'm trying my best to broaden my horizons and connect on a basic level with the culture of my distant Spanish roots.

10.12.2007

It's only 68 degrees but I'm so cold!

Yesterday and even today, I'm tempted to pack my belongings and head down south or out west or even abroad. I know this sentiment relates to stress/boredom/discontent and the approaching winter weather and shorter day length. But I just can't shake it.

I promised myself last year that I would never endure another DC winter, and here I am again, bracing for temperatures that will inevitably dip below 40 degrees.

I don't know if I'll be able to cheerily make it through another winter--another winter of tiptoeing around icy sidewalk patches and standing on the metro platform with the winter wind blowing right through my 100 layers. I think last year I broke my own personal record in piling at least 6 heavy blankets (including a thick wool comforter) on my bed and yet, I was still cold. My apartment is just so freakin' drafty, in spite of the blankets and sheets I've haphazardly hung on the windows.

Gosh, this has to be my last DC winter as I only have the strength for one more year!

But it will be just my luck that I'll either still be in DC next winter or worse, will be sent by the Peace Corps to some cold location.

10.11.2007

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Hippo Crusades!

The one year anniversary of my blog was a few days ago. I'm sorry that I missed celebrating it, but I figure a few lines now will do the trick.

A lot has happened in the year since I began blogging. I started this blog right around the time that my kindred friend was packing up to move back home. My blog was a way to keep in touch with my bosom buddy and a way to share a new chapter in my life. I feel that my blog has served me well.

One of the biggest lessons or realizations of the past year is the idea of choice and circumstance. Circumstances surround me. Whether society- or self- created, the response is choice. Choice shapes circumstance as circumstance shapes choice.

I made a lot of choices over the past year, some good and some bad. As a result, I have created both good and bad circumstances for myself. And the cycle continues. But the most important choice is to learn from one's mistakes and not repeat bad choices even as similar circumstances reappear.

As always, I'm sure this entry has become cryptic. My point is the power of choice—"good" and "bad" choices that can set you on the path where you belong. Eventually.

10.09.2007

Tuesday Talk

Another hobby
I think I have at least one free spot in my schedule. I hope to fill it with a creative or money-making activity, though I haven't decided what it will be. I'm thinking about violin lessons, dramatic arts (acting, attending, or ushering), book clubbing, bartending, language or philosophy classes, yoga instructor certification or catering. I hope to make a decision by the end of the month.

Weekend
I had a solid weekend. The highlights included Organica's barbeque, the Green Festival film fest and the GLOG happy hour. I also enjoyed finishing two new chick lit books and editing a few pages of my novel.

Week ahead
Work should be busy again this week. I hope to spend my evenings destressing via exercising. I also hope to get my writing ready for critique at the end of the month. So far, I have attempted to polish the first chapter/section of my novel but I recognize that I still have a long way to go.

Trains
I plan on going home for Christmas and New Year's this year. Of course, the airplane tickets are already shockingly high—over $300 roundtrip. Perhaps, $300 RT isn't that much to pay for DCA-ATL but I remember paying under $150 RT back in college.

So, I'm thinking about taking Amtrak home for the holidays and again for my mother and aunt's 60th birthday in February. I've always wanted to take the train down South and I think my schedule is flexible enough for it. Plus, I'll save about $100. It will take 13 hours to get home but I think that I'll be able to sleep on the train or just spend those hours reading books and magazines and writing more pages for my book. My reasoning is a) I LOVE trains, b) trains were the way to go back in the day, and c) I support Amtrak. I've only been on a train two times in my life: once when going between Los Angeles and San Diego (which took forever!!) and the other time from NYC to DC (that trip is a bit hazy). But I think that it will be fun and very interesting.

10.04.2007

Money on the Ground

I walked by a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk today. I wasn't torn about walking by it, just stunned that no one else noticed it. I thought about picking it up, though not to keep it for myself. It didn't belong to me. But I figured the homeless guy on the corner could use the money for food, alcohol, cigarettes, or whatever was his most pressing need. Unfortunately, the homeless guy wasn't there. So, I walked on.

This reminded me of the time I found a hundred dollar bill on the floor of a checkout lane at Wal-Mart. I figured the money belonged to the old man that had just walked out of the store. But I just gave it to the cashier, too lazy to follow the man and totally blanking on what he looked like. (I rarely pay much attention when I'm waiting to checkout. The impulse items—the candy, sodas, and magazine covers---are too distracting.)

I wonder what happened to the ten dollars on the sidewalk and the hundred I gave to the cashier. I hope that the rightful owners got their cash back, but honestly, I don't care. The key is that it's not on me. It did what I thought was right by not keeping the money. And though, I didn't do much to return the cash to its rightful owner, any negative karma from keeping it for myself was avoided.

10.02.2007

Facebook is addictive

Okay, so I got an email from Cha-Chi asking me to be his friend on Facebook. Though I've received a few other invitations over the years, I usually ignored them.  But for some reason, I felt compelled and bored enough to log-in and accept him and a few others as friends.

Today, I was unexpectedly sucked into the world of Facebook.  I spent over an hour updating my profile and seeking out high school buddies.  And I still feel the need to enhance my profile and poke or email all my old chums. Gosh, Facebook is addictive

I joined MySpace a few years ago and rejoined it this year.  So now, I have two entries on the site…  I didn't find MySpace as addictive.  It was fun to check out my friends' profiles and check up on classmates, but I didn't feel the need to fill my profile with a thousand details about my life like with Facebook.  Weird, huh?

I've decided to go on a MySpace-Facebook diet before I become addict.  I will allow myself no more than a few hours per month (total) on both sites.  They are great way to stay connected with old friends—especially all those high school friends I only see once a year but still love and miss—but a major timesuck.

10.01.2007

You only turn 21 once!

I took a walk down memory lane last Friday. I volunteered, more like sat around, at the Alumni Reunion Kickoff party on the Quad and met up with FOM, a college buddy who I haven't seen in at least a year.  We had a drink at Lindy's Red Lion—the site of my first legal drink.

I remember renting (free!) movies at Tower and ordering pizza on my 21st birthday.  Very lame, yes, but I had just finished a stressful exam and wanted to give myself the night off before ramping up for another marathon day and night of studying.  That's the problem with early May birthdays: they run right into reading and exam periods.  Every year, I'd spend my birthday taking an exam or frantically trying to finish a term paper.

Thankfully, one of my roommates didn't have an exam the following day and suggested that we go out for a drink.  We started with cider and beer, and soon graduated to shots in Georgetown.  Hey, you only turn 21 once!  I enjoyed mooching free drinks from the bartenders that night (the bartenders at the Rhino bar were the nicest). 

Hours later, I returned to the dorm without having consumed 21 shots, but with the happy realization that I wasn't so drunk that I'd miss the next morning's study session.

9.28.2007

“Waiting to Exhale”

I look forward to a little rest and relaxation this weekend which is weird.  Last winter and spring, I had too much R&R time on my hands and I was looking for a little excitement.  So, I got a part-time job, signed up for new groups, decided to plan a trip to Paris and tried to fill my weekend "dance card" with social events.

Then, when I probably needed R&R the most--frankly, just time to think about how I was actually spending my summer, I chose to fill up my "dance card" even more.  This summer was a whirlwind of my creation and now I want to catch my breath and eventually, exhale.

This weekend will be my first opportunity to catch my breath, reflect and exhale without any distractions.  And I'm a bit worried, as I was this summer, that too much free time will result in me obsessing over my past actions instead of working to make my future brighter.  I do believe that a fair amount of time for reflection is in order (which demands solo time), but I also want to focus on moving forward.  I want 2008 to be a fresh start in terms of my career, personal, and social life.  2007 afforded me new (both good and bad) experiences that gave me a better understanding of myself and the world.  I hope to spend this fall and winter internalizing all that I've learned and preparing to soar in 2008.

And for the record, I think I'll disregard Shimmy-Shimmy's V-Day invitation next year...

9.27.2007

"Summertime, And the livin' easy"

I haven't felt like writing much for my blog lately.   Sure, I've spent hours writing in my journal and for my novel, but I haven't felt ready to resuming writing in this forum--at least not as freely and as focused on my personal life (and I haven't since 09/11-- a day I should have been writing about terrorism...)  I guess I realize now and hate the fact that my blog is an abridged public record of my rollercoaster summer.

There are definitely issues that have arisen lately would be great to share in this forum.  And I know that I've learned a lot in the past few days and weeks that might help others understand me and perhaps, themselves better.  But those topics are just too sensitive and closely tied to the misguided choices that dominated my summer.

So, I'm going to refrain from mentioning my summer experiences and their aftermath in this public forum.  That's what candid journal entries and conversations with friends are for. Yes, it's self-censorship, but I've censored most of my entries.

I'm sure that I'll continue to have entries on dating and single life in the future but they will be a bit more removed like my last entry or just reference my friends' dating situations.

Sorry folks, no more personal news of guys that are/were more than friends.  At least not until spring, when I imagine the self-imposed drought will end.

9.24.2007

Independent Women

All the women who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
All the honeys who makin' money
Throw your hands up at me

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times regarding income disparity and dating. According to recent analysis of Census data, "for the first time, women in their 20s who work full time in several American cities…are earning higher wages than men of the same age."  It is interesting how this increase in young, professionally oriented, so called "independent women" is changing the dynamics of the dating scene.

I guess I am an "independent" woman in the traditional sense as I can pay my own bills and still have money for the occasional splurge.  But as an entry-level nonprofit worker, I don't think that I qualify for the class of "independent" women that are profiled in the article (i.e., those pulling over $100,000/year). And, I don't really know what it's like to date guys that are not at least as well off as me.

But I can understand that problems arise when you are a young independent woman seeking a breadwinner husband.  It puts too much focus on finding a guy that is financially stable, when instead the goal should be overall compatibility.  Not many guys will have it together when you first meet them, especially if you're still in your mid-20s like me.  But they should at least have some potential, i.e., determination, passion, and talents to accomplish their career and financial goals.  They should be someone that you can grow with not only professionally and financially but also emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

I guess I'm rather traditional as I don't want to be the breadwinner.  Particularly, if I decide to have children, there would be too much pressure against me being a stay at home mother if my paycheck supported the household.  So, I'm looking to date and marry someone who makes as much, if not more, than me.  Which means that I'll go Dutch on dates but eventually expect my man to occasionally (read: regularly) pick up the tab.

9.22.2007

Off the Market

I guess it is only fitting that a few hours before the official beginning of fall there is change.

Mr. Rebound is no more.
Floyd is no more.
Farewell to them both. It was real.

9.20.2007

Thursday's a Breeze

It’s been a pretty good week. I actually got some work done and spent quality time writing. One of the highlights of the week was the season premieres of ANTM and Gossip Girl (btw, Zac Hanson's Go was played during one of the scenes of GG. Yes, that's how much I like that song. I heard it once and now I can recognize it in a few notes. Ahh, "Name that Tune." I loved that show, but I digress...). I don’t have cable, so I rely on the major networks plus the CW and PBS to supply me with television entertainment. This season should be hot.

I can’t wait until the weekend. It is unfortunate that I won’t be singing along to the musical Hair in NYC, but I think that I’ve rather nicely filled up my weekend “dance card” in DC. I’m really looking forward to the weekend food outings: Matchbox on Friday, Oohs & Aahs on Saturday, and a picnic on the Mall on Sunday. I also look forward to returning to the gym for yoga and swimming.

Here’s to another solid weekend that doesn’t leave much time for relaxation but is heavy on satisfaction and fun.

9.18.2007

Girl, you’ll be a writer soon

I attended my first writer's support group meeting last night. The group is comprised of about 6 people, 2 males and 4 females between the ages of 26 and 50+. We spent the majority of the meeting getting to know each other and sharing our writing experiences and ambitions.

I left the meeting really fired up about writing (and I finally purchased a thumb drive so that I can more easily store and transfer my work). Lately, I've shunned the once-nightly task of writing in order to hangout with friends, go to fitness classes, or veg-out in front of the couch. But that will all change now because I'm scheduled to present a piece of my work in about a month. I don't feel as if my writing is ready to be revealed to the world, but I feel oddly comfortable with the group. Everyone seems really nice and open about what they're trying to accomplish, and I feel as if we will all experience writer's highs and lows together (particularly folks like me who are attempting creative writing for the first time).

So, here's to a night of getting a few more paragraphs and pages done. And here's to taking steps towards accomplishing my dreams.

9.17.2007

MmmBop, Not

Last night, I went with Organica and her friend to a Hanson Concert.

video

First of all, let me say that I am not a Hanson fan. In fact, I recall making fun of the band with my friends back in high school. To me, that group was a part of the manufactured, annoying, teen pop movement also populated by O-town, Jessica Simpson, the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Organica had an extra ticket to the show, and being a good friend, I offered to come along. I’m glad I did. Here are my observations:

Positives

  • Zac - He has a great voice, while Taylor’s voice is annoying and Issac’s is just too uneventful. Zac’s acoustic version of "Go" was definitely the highlight of my night. Plus, I think he is the cutest, though youngest, of the bunch.
  • Good rhythms - Thanks to the mixed cd Organica gave me, I was prepared for the concert. And I must say that, though catchy, some of their newer songs are solid.
  • 9:30 Club - I enjoyed checking out this venue for the first time.

So-so

  • Locksley - The opening band was okay. Some of their songs were amusing though their performance wasn't all that great. In fact, their performance made me appreciate the polished, seasoned vocals and instrumentals of Hanson—which, I guess, is the point of an opening act.
  • Hair Band - Even though they no longer look like little girls, Hanson gives new meaning to the hair band.

Negatives

  • Screaming girls are annoying - Period.
  • Bad gin and tonic sucks - I’m trying to branch out into other alcoholic drinks. With the encouragement of Floyd and A-M, I have started to order gin and tonics instead of my normal rum on the rocks or a girly drink. But last night, I forgot to request top-shelf liquor and was stuck with a horrible tasting concoction of bad gin and even worse soda water. Even the lime, I eagerly squeezed into my drink didn’t help.
  • Loud live music sucks - I love live music, but I hate unnecessarily loud live music. I guess I’m getting old, but by the end of the night, my left eardrum wanted to bleed. I think I’m gonna start wearing earplugs to concerts because I really don’t want to ruin my hearing. Good music sounds good even if the volume is turned down.
  • Incessant harmonies suck - Especially when coupled with an uncomfortable volume. I wanted to crawl into a ball and die.

Hopefully, this entry won’t upset Organica because I'm really glad that I went to the concert. It was a new (read: once-in-a-lifetime) experience. I was introduced to Zac’s pure vocals, and I got to spend time in Organica's music world.

9.13.2007

Hummers are Bummers

As a part of my job, I regularly search of newspapers and auto blogs for information on the vehicle market. One of my favorite things to uncover is quotes and comments from the Detroit automakers about the progress they're making to build more "clean" and advanced technology vehicles.

GM Chairman Bob Lutz undoubtedly ranks at the top of my list of quotable automaker figures. Here's what he had to say at this year's Frankfurt Auto Show:

"General Motors...is the anti-Christ that's trying to plunge us into the abyss,'' Lutz said in a Frankfurt Motor Show interview today.

When you consider the thousands of gaz-guzzlers they've marketed and sold over the past decades and their continued resistance to regulation whether in the form of seat belt or CAFE mandates, it's hard not to believe that General Motors is evil.

Yet, I don't see General Motors or any other automaker as evil. Aside from the fact that I'm really not a fan of cars, trucks or SUVs—I actually wrote my Master's thesis on SUVs—I don't feel any strong negative feelings toward the company, just toward its misguided leaders (read: selfish, capitalist, shortsighted, etc) and America's misguided consumers (read: selfish, capitalist, shortsighted, lazy, ignorant, etc).

By the way, the above quote is from a recent Bloomberg article. Here's the full text:

``People have a very simplistic way of organizing things: Toyota, because of the Prius, are saving the planet from certain destruction, whereas General Motors, which produces the (Hummer) H2, is the anti-Christ that's trying to plunge us into the abyss,'' Lutz said in a Frankfurt Motor Show interview today.

``It's totally ridiculous,'' he said. ``The only way we can get out of that is by being more environmental and leading with more environmental technology than Toyota,'' Lutz said.

I am hopeful that GM will turn things around and become the "environmental leader" (that Toyota supposedly is). I am hopeful that the Chevy Volt PHEV becomes a major breakthrough, supplanting its PHEV competitors in design and electric-only distance.

But, I'm doubtful that we'll be able to do that much to resolve the environmental and social problems created by our car culture if the automakers, policymakers, and consumer-voters continue their short-term, self/money-driven, fuck-the-little people (and-everyone-else) stance.

9.12.2007

All My Ex's Live In Texas

Floyd and I still aren't on the best of terms, yet we are both toying with the idea of me visiting him. Initially, I had planned to visit this summer for the Harry Potter book and movie releases, but I decided to book a trip to Paris instead. And then, came along all the Mr. Rebound drama…

But, I would still like to see him and I know he wants to see me too. So, perhaps, this fall, this winter or even next spring, I'll finally make my way down to San Antonio. I haven't been to San Antonio since I visited him in college, and I already have a few things in mind for the trip:

  • Luby's
    Fine, I'll admit it. Luby's is better than the Morrison's Cafeteria I remember from my childhood and the Piccadilly Cafeteria I can visit in ATL now.
  • Pico de Gallo & Mariachi
    Shrimp nachos, crispy tacos, and beautifully seasoned burgers--oh my! I always enjoyed this Tex-Mex restaurant during my visits because of the amazing food, family/local atmosphere and live mariachi music.
  • Cowboy boot shopping
    Ever since I saw a female UT football fan wearing a cute pair of brown cowboy boots, I decided that I must add a pair to my own shoe collection. It would also be nice to have a pair of really nice, "special occasion" red, blue, or black cowboy boots.
  • River Walk, the Alamo, etc
    No trip to San Antonio can be without these historic and touristy destinations.

Hopefully, this entry will convince Floyd (and myself) that I should visit. I know it is probably the worse idea given all that has passed, but I am sincerely excited for the opportunity to experience his hometown again.

9.11.2007

"I must have that man" (Billie Holiday)

I thought I swore off Mr. Rebound. In August, a month after our last meeting, I held out hope of his return and of us resuming a relationship that could be more that a rebound-hookup. But, in September, after his second disappearance, I decided to face the facts. He never gave any indication that he was interested in anything serious and he had a penchant for falling off the face of the earth. I mean, do I really want to hang around someone like that? So, last weekend, I decided to forget Mr. Rebound, a guy I barely knew and who'd only made me promises in my head.

But when he called last night, I answered and I accepted his proposal to meet this weekend. I don't know what got into me. Just a few days ago, I'd promised to avoid his calls, and there I was eagerly answering the phone. Yes, I was clearly perturbed during the entire conversation and tried to end it at least twice. I want to punish him, yet I still want to date him. Silly, huh? Not to Floyd. He already warned me of the unhealthy emotional attachment I'd formed.

So, I guess I'll see him this weekend—that is, if he doesn't disappear again. I know that I deserve better but I can't shake my attraction and the feeling that I still have unfinished business with him. I'll just see how things go, making sure to resist his charm and his lines. And I'll refuse to allow anymore silly girl fantasies about us. He hasn't proven that he's worth my time and anyway, given my aversion to flings, I'm not worth his investment either. My eyes are finally open, even if my heart is confused.

The biggest risk with seeing him again is that it'll probably setback the progress Floyd and I have made in rebuilding our friendship during the months that Mr. Rebound wasn't around. Things aren't perfect, but he's still a good friend and we have a meaningful and caring, though perverse, relationship that I'm not ready to throw away over a guy who doesn't call, won't admit his age and likes to fall off the face of the earth.

9.10.2007

"Don't stop believing!"

Life would be so much easier if I were shallow.

If I only cared about myself, how I looked, how much money I had, and whether I had enough cool friends. If I didn't care about genocide, famine, civil unrest, poverty, assault, deforestation, pollution, and neglect. If I didn't want to make a difference, save the earth, save the children, contribute to the paradigm shift, and be a better person.

Lately, I've become quite gloomy about the central purpose of my career and personal pursuits: contributing to the paradigm shift that helps heal the planet. The external and internal forces against me are building and I feel close to resignation. I'm weary of the rampant individualism and market forces babble that threatens the wellbeing (however you define it) of existing and future generations of humans and other species. I'm just tired.

Perhaps, I need to be on the front lines of the debate and the movement. I need to resign from my relatively plush lifestyle and get my hands and feet dirty enacting some sort of change and truly helping to make things better. Right now, I sit at my desk in an air conditioned high-rise in the middle of the city attempting to protect the environment through newsletters, emails and action alerts. It doesn't feel right. There has to be a better, more fulfilling way for me to contribute to the cause.

But am I strong enough to take that step? Deny myself the simple luxuries of running water, a private apartment and ease of transport? Enter into an unknown world with people who are just as resistant?

Once again, I'm not making any sense. I just don't feel fulfilled anymore in my career. And I don't think I will feel fulfilled with a desk job. I need to get my hands dirty. Whether than means working on an organic farm in rural Georgia, teaching inner city students in the slums of Detroit, digging a well in Africa, or teaching Latin American students the importance of safe sex, there has to be something else. Yes, I still want to become a professor and from my ivory tower, write papers and books about the paradigm shift as it relates to the environmental movement. But there is so much more I must achieve, experience and contribute before I can sit back and sit still.

9.07.2007

Friday!!

Ah, this week has been painful.  I've had the hardest time waking up each morning and have been feeling sluggish and lazy at work.  I blame my pillows.  For some reason, I can't get comfortable in bed and I usually wake up with the pillows thrown on the floor.  Plus, I've been having a lot of distressing dreams about work or a male figure (usually, Floyd or my dad).  But, I'm hopeful that I'll soon be able to kick out the bad energy and turn my bedroom back into the warm, comforting sanctuary it was just a few weeks ago.

Given Mr. Rebound's return to the abyss that silly, scared boys seem to vanish to, I'm going stag this weekend.  I'm heading out salsa dancing tonight with Shimmy-Shimmy and looking forward to a Cheese Fest (Mac & Cheese + Lasagna) at a GRU movie night on Saturday.

It should be a good weekend, and I hope that it will help keep my mind off of Mr. Rebound, Floyd, and my uncomfortable pillows.

9.05.2007

Lies, Silence, and Half-truths

Today, I had lunch with a friend who related some information about the guy she was seeing.  It turns out that he'd been silent about something in his past that directly affected their relationship.  Now, my friend is worried about the other skeletons in his closet and if he'll remain open and trusting enough to reveal them to her.  I told her to be careful but remain open to a relationship with him.  If he treats you well and you see a loving future with him, then it is surely worth a (cautious) try.

Today's lunchtime topic reminded me of my summer fling with Mr. Rebound.  I'd always been very open to Mr. Rebound, volunteering details of my breakup, my childhood and everything else that he'd question.  I've never been one to lie (because I'm horrible at it) and I'm not really one to remain silent (again, because I'm horrible at it).  That is why it was so vexing that Mr. Rebound never told me his age.  At first, I thought he was being playful (as Floyd often withheld information from me just to see me squirm…).  But now, I'm suspicious.  What else is he withholding from me?  Is he married?  Does he have kids?  I don't think I ever asked any of these questions.  But given his age, it is quite possible that the answer is yes.  I couldn't imagine dating a guy that was married, divorced or had kids.

If I ever see Mr. Rebound again and we decided to pursue a relationship (which isn't likely given my continued association with Floyd and the age gap...), I must find out the truth from him.  I must know his age and I must be assured that he's not married, divorced or a father.  And if he's not willing to reveal himself to me, as I was always so eager to reveal myself to him, it's goodbye.  I can't be in relationship—romantic, sexual or platonic—that is full of lies, deceit and silence.  I thrive on honesty and sincerity and I can't live (or love) any other way.