Brave

A couple years ago, I walked into a large church near my house one Sunday morning.  I was feeling lonely and alone and wanted feel part of a community, if only for an hour.  Sneaking in and sitting in a back pew, conspicuously dressed in jeans and a sweater, carrying a to-go cup of coffee, I watched as the mostly black congregation in their Sunday best greeted each other warmly before sitting down.  The priest, a round white man – who in his sermon used the word “amen” like a comma – walked around the church saying good morning.  He found me in the back and shook my hand to introduce himself, noticing that I was a new face.  Before services started, he asked all of the people new to the church to stand so everyone could welcome us.

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My boss said Thursday morning, thinking aloud, “How did they not notice him, didn’t he look out of place?”

“It’s a church,” I said.  “Everyone is welcome in a church.”

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A Politico artlce I read this morning said, “[Dylann] Roof told police that he ‘almost didn’t go through’ with the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, ‘because everyone was so nice to him.’”

Well, doesn’t that just break your heart.

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It was also reported that some of the family members of the victims said to Roof at the bond hearing, “I forgive you.”

The woman who spotted his car, the police that arrested him, the community that rallied, they are all commendable in so many ways.  But the families that forgave someone who did something unforgivable – they are the real heroes in this story.  And that is something I certainly admire in the face of such a devastating event.  Because I don’t think I could ever be so merciful.  And so brave.

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How to: Have stressful meetings with the boss like a professional

1.  Schedule Super Important Meeting with boss to discuss general feelings of discontent.

2.  Remain totally cool when meeting gets pushed two hours.

3.  Sit down with boss and try to convey all feelings with wild hand gestures in effort not to cry.

4.  Start to cry.

5.  Talk about feelings while wiping tears off face and chugging water out of Bubbles Hair Salon water bottle.

6.  Use all of boss’ Kleenex.  Remark that it is actually not Kleenex brand, so should be referred to as tissue and isn’t it weird that we call all tissue Kleenex?

7.  Sit in boss’ glass-walled office with back to the door for one half-hour past business hours so no one sees proof of super unprofessional red, blotchy face.  Talk to boss about the awesomeness of the play Newsies.

8.  Run out of office with sunglasses on.

9.  Vow to only correspond with boss via email until the shame of crying dissipates.

10.  Feel much better.  Mentally high-five boss for being a calm, cool and supportive mentor and woman.

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10 on Thursday

1.  Cabin in three weeks!  Iceland and Copenhagen in two months!  Special to Josephine, do we have a place to stay in Iceland yet?  Anyone got any grand suggestions?

2.  As for popular in the news this week, Caitlyn Jenner, all I’ve got to say is more power to you.

3.  Books you should read this summer:  Big Little Lies, The Boston Girl, The Slap, The Round House, to name a few.

4.  Things you should eat: steak tacos with cilantro and radish salsa.  I’ve made these no less than four times in the last five days, both with steak and rotisserie chicken.  If you cut up the radishes, cilantro and green onions in larger batches, it is a five-minute meal that doesn’t involve turning on your oven in the summer.  And at my sweet house without central air, we will not be during on our oven until the end of September.

5.  Congrats to my dear friend Spano on her baby boy.  It is remarkable to me that we’re now considered old enough and responsible enough to care for another human being, a tiny one at that.  I realized in my mid-20s that I was officially a grown up, as if I were to get pregnant people would congratulate me, as opposed to saying something along the lines of, “Her poor mother, she had such promise.  She got into such a good college, too.”

6.  With that said, I would like to confess I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  And it was 100% delicious.

7.  We found a new roommate!  Wait, did I tell you we needed a new roommate?  Our basement dweller, K, who will forever and ever complete the tripod of the most peaceful household in which I have ever lived (the frat house was lovely, but I would not necessarily call it peaceful with Roommate A’s very vocal sports fandom and the general debauchery), got a job near Dulles and for some reason selfishly choose to move closer to work than to commit to a roughly three-hour roundtrip commute every day if she were to stay with us.

I am trying real hard to not hold it against her but am unable to restrain myself as introducing her as “the roommate that is selfishly leaving me.”

Anyway, we interviewed one person, a dude in his late twenties named J, and he agreed to move in.  He seems nice and normal and like it’s too good to be true.  Because our other option was a Hill staffer that, according to a quick google search, liked to take family portraits with AK-47s.  Yep, husband (potential roommate), wife, three children, all posing with gigantic guns.

8.  Everyone on Facebook thinks I’m over reacting to this article – Snakes in walls: Realtor accused of selling infested home – but holy fuck, I’m OK living without a snake SUPER HIGHWAY in my home.  And I’m a pretty tough girl, I pulled a gigantic bug out of the shower this morning.  But snakes, raccoons…no fucking thank you.  This house should be burned down immediately.

9.  This made me laugh and laugh: Leaked Republic Campaign Emails, Re: White House Toddler Temper-Tantrum

10.  This song is doing it for me right now, don’t know why, don’t care:

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Tidbit

R is such a better dresser than I am – in a southern gentleman-esque type of way.  He’s always so coordinated and put together and I’m always so wrinkly.

“Why is that?” my dad asked.

“They don’t make a lot of wrinkle-free clothes for women,” I said.  “I think society wants to make sure we don’t forget how to iron.”

I also have a lot of holes in the toes of my tights.

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Five on Friday

1. My company’s website and social media manager very selfishly got married and is currently honeymooning in Mexico with his new bride.  Which means I am stuck doing all of the social media for my organization.  And you know what I hate?  Social media.  My boss likes to joke that I would make a much better 42-year-old than 27-year-old.  Which is true.

Yesterday I managed to code and get our newsletter out all by myself and set my mind to doing a little Twitter outreach to Members of Congress that we currently think are the jam.  I spelled cosponsoring wrong* in ELEVEN Tweets that went out last night.  Just as I was starting to think I was softening towards Twitter, I’ve rightfully returned to hating it now.  It’s for the best.

Luckily, I could delete that shit because it was a harmless mistake and not say, oh, a communications director trying to cover up a blunder.

My two favorite example here and here.  (Although that isn’t the worst thing in former-Rep. Schock’s office that’s going on lately, being that the congressman decorated his D.C. office with a Downton Abbey theme and has since resigned due to ethics violations.  I do adore a good gossipy political scandal.

2.  I was walking into work a couple of weeks ago, standing on the corner at a red light with one of the very conservative, religious older admin ladies from my office when a homeless woman stopped, pointed at me and said, “You look like you’ve got a tight pussy, get on your back and put your legs in the air.”

My co-worker burst out laughing, I stood there in stunned silence waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the light to change so I could walk away.  Livin’ in the city.  Always a dream.

3.  If you need a new blog to add to your list, head over to Camp Patton.  I kind of want to take this woman’s eldest daughter with me everywhere to provide colorful commentary, in the most non-kidnapping way possible.

I nannied for a 4-year-old when I first got to D.C. who looked at me one afternoon and said, dead serious, “Rachel, A-Rock-O-Bama [Barack Obama] is so handsome, no one can stop him.”

I think I also accidentally taught this little one a slight bit of road rage when, stuck in traffic on the way to preschool, she banged on her car seat and said, “Oh, come on!”

4.  Both my little brothers had birthdays this week – turning the grown-ass ages of 23 and 25.  My, how we’ve all grown up.  Joining me in wishing these boys a belated happy birthday.

5.  And a jam to get you through your Friday.  How happy are we that Missy Elliot is back?  Answer: Super stoked.

*Because I noticed the squiggly line and thought it was because spell check wanted me to hyphenate or put a space between “co” and “sponsor” which is not how we roll in D.C.

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That list could go on forever

R is in Europe for two weeks with his friends. Before he left I was doing some standard whining about his extended absence and said:  Who is going to spoon me while you’re gone?

R: Um, hopefully no one.

Good call.

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And by his friends, I mean that he is traveling with six – SIX! – other people for two whole weeks.  I got second-hand anxiety every time he mentioned the stress of planning a trip with so many people.  I’ve accepted I’m a crotchety old bitch that is set in my ways, which also means there are certain things I will never enjoy doing, such as:

  • Traveling with a grip of people that I am not related to and/or not being paid to travel with for business purposes;
  • dining out at a restaurant with more than three other people;
  • loud, crowded concerts;
  • loud, crowded bars;
  • bars that have lines to get in (never ever);
  • restaurants that involve waiting in line (thanks again, New York Times, for ruining my chances at eating at Rose’s Luxury)
  • WMATA metro delays that involve offloading the train and being stuck on the platform with 10,000 tourists that have no idea what the fuck is going on;
  • ticketed attendance of a president inauguration (crowds, lines and no place to pee, although I’m glad I did that once);
  • shopping at Whole Foods before a weather-related incident;
  • shopping at Whole Foods period;
  • not doing exactly what I want exactly when I want to do it.

Are we sensing a theme here?  I dislike mass quantities of strangers and not being the keeper of my own destiny.  And that’s just specifics I can think of on the fly.  Think of that list if I really dedicated time and energy to it.

Anyways, so R said, I assume in an attempt to be sweet and thoughtful, that he wished I was coming with him.  To which I responded, “Oh, no you don’t, I would ruin our relationship and your friendships within three days traveling with that many people.”

“Well,” he said, “I wish just you and I were going…?”

“Yes, that sounds nice.”

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5 on Thursday

NOON

1.  I am sitting at my desk shoveling Maruchan instant ramen – the good kind out a styrofoam cup – into my mouth before a conference call.  A poor college student-esque choice, but a nostalgic one on this rainy day, as it instantly brings me back to my maternal grandmother’s kitchen table.

My grandmother used to buy cups of ramen in bulk from Sam’s Club and serve it to me for breakfast – filling the styrofoam cup with boiling water from a tap on the kitchen sink, a kitchen standard partial to Duluth, Minnesota, as I’ve yet to see it anywhere else – with a side of bacon and Skittles candy.  She was a good grandmother like that.

My mother, of course, was appalled.  And not by the poor breakfast choices made by her young daughter, but the flexibility and accommodations of her once-strict mother.  “I can’t believe you’re letting her eat that for breakfast!” she say.  My grandmother would just smile and ask if I wanted seconds.

I can see this already happening in the way my mother dotes on my brother Tim’s dog, Mila, that she will strike the same cord as a grandmother.  For my mother, as no-nonsense as she is, shooed me out of a chair at her kitchen table last Christmas – “That’s Mila’s chair” – retrieved the blanket I had spread on my lap, and used it to tuck Mila in after she laid down.

Brothers, our future children are going to eat so many Skittles for breakfast in our mother’s care.

2.  I had my second class last night, and will say that my professor seems very excited and engaging and promised to bring us snacks.  Although it certainly wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time on such a lovely evening.  There was a slight breeze, the temperature cool by D.C. late May standards, perfect for a long bike ride.  It’s really too bad how much a higher education messes with your ability to do whatever you want now, isn’t it?

3.  Read this article – Judy Bloom Knows All Your Secrets – in the NY Times.  Judy Bloom was one of my favorite authors when I was a kid and I think I’ve read Summer Sisters no less than 1,000 times.  I keep a hard laying around and open to a random spot on occasion to read a couple pages.

4.  It’s almost Memorial Day weekend!  I celebrated by wearing khakis and a button down denim to work today.  My boss joked that I jumped the gun a bit on the business casual attire that we enjoy Memorial – Labor Day each summer.  I didn’t realize she was joking and launched into a full blown explanation of why I was dressed down (no clean clothes, no clean dry cleaning, the boss is gone, it’s cold, didn’t care), to which she responded, “I didn’t actually care, I was just giving you shit.  If you were dressed inappropriately, I’d just save it for your performance review [in December]!”

Needless to say, my boss doesn’t truly understand my life-long anxiety of dressing correctly.  I once forgot my nude bra at my mom’s cabin, which she then forgot to bring to Duluth, which we didn’t realize until 10 minutes before we were supposed to be out the door for my cousin Megan’s wedding.  So I showed up in a lovely white dress shirt, black skirt, black wedge heels and…a lime green bra.  My mother consoled me that it was very “Sex and the City.”  I fear I looked ridiculous.

4PM

5. It is possible to stress-eat a whole bag of popcorn in under five minutes, just FYI.

5PM

I’m blowing this popsicle stand – but 5 on Thursday is A-OK with me at this very moment.  And my sincere apologies if I did a crap job editing this thing.

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A Life Update of Sorts

I just got a notice that I either had to pay WordPress $26 to renew this here blog or allow it to vanish into the universe.  And while the vanishing seemed like an interesting choice – I have a much better grasp of correct punctuation usage these days – I decided to cough up the dough.  For posterity’s sake if nothing else.

So here are some things lately:

I finished another semester of grad school and am still rocking a 4.0.  It was seriously touch and go for a while.  At the midterm, one of my professors told me I was an “A student turning in B+ work.”  To which I responded, “Yep.”

Classes started again last night, so I bought a ticket to Minnesota the week of the 4th of July to console myself.  Five whole days at the cabin to sauna, read books on the dock, sit around a fire and allow my mother the pleasure of cooking my every meal.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

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I met a boy – R!  He’s very lovely and tall and nice and drives the tiniest two-door car that is practically impossible to throw yourself out of if he is parked on a hill.  He has assured me I can keep my Tinder app to help me muscle through staff meetings and also cooks me dinner.  And being that he just moved to D.C. less than a year ago and still isn’t very familiar with the city, I always get to be the boss when it comes to activities.  And I like being the boss.

R lives in Clarendon, Virginia – which means that A) I’ve been on a date with every single, straight man over 5’10” in D.C. proper and had to search elsewhere or B) I must really like him, as I am a firm believer that there is no reason ever to cross the river.  His close proximity to Trader Joe’s, as well as his central air and rooftop pool, has helped sway me into thinking maybe Clarendon isn’t the worst place on the earth.  Only maybe though.

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We survived our annual gigantic meeting of misery earlier this month.  I was still so exhausted the night after I got home that I started to cry because I had to wait seven whole minutes for a train.  I continued to cry: for the duration of my train ride to R’s house, which is 14 whole metro stops, thoroughly freaking out some tourists; with my head on R’s kitchen counter while he kindly encouraged me to drink some water; and laying in R’s bed while he gently rubbed my back and probably wondered what in the fuck was going on.  (Nothing was going on, I was just so tired.)  And then I fell asleep.

It was one of my most embarrassing hours.  So obviously, I told everyone.  Sometimes you just got to cry it the fuck out, you know?

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I guess that about sums it up!  How y’all been doing?

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Eight on Wednesday

1.  I’m on spring break this week, which I didn’t realize existed until last week.  I’ve been utilizing my spring break by staring blankly at the TV or my computer screen thinking really hard about how much homework I have to do before classes resume next week and how stressful that seems.  But I’m still probably not going to start the assignments until Sunday night.  Because that’s what spring break is for – not being productive.  Sadly, my boss did not think that sentiment translated to work as well.

It was suggested that I go to the Chinatown Hooters in my Georgetown t-shirt (the one I got free at registration, the third nicest thing Georgetown has done for me after a free coffee mug and tax rebate), get drunk and flash the bar patrons while yelling “SPRING BREAK D.C. 2015!” at the top of my lungs.  That seems unlikely but it a funny sentiment.

2.  Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, also roughly known as The Most Embarrassing Person the State of Minnesota has Produced for the National Political Stage is filming a scene for Sharknado Three in D.C. today.

3.  I loved this essay – Confessions of a Comma Queen – in the New Yorker.

4.  I’ve been dating a gentleman who lives in Clarendon, VA.  He was trying to convince me the other night that Clarendon wasn’t really a suburb, that it wasn’t really a terrible place.  I didn’t believe him until he claimed a Trader Joe’s around the corner.  “Well, why didn’t you say so to begin with,” I said, softening.

I stopped by the Trader Joe’s on Monday night to pick up a bottle of my favorite bottle of cheap vinho verde, which seemed appropriate on one of our first warm days.  The line snaked through the store and all the way through the wine section to the cheese case.

When I got to the register I said to the clerk, “Geez, this is like suburban competition grocery shopping.  This is serious business.”  He laughed as the women charged with keeping the line movin’ yelled “next!” as I finished paying, collected my groceries and was gentle hustled out of the way.

5.  I’ve been ordering the occasional Blue Apron box lately because, jesus, I am so sick of everything I cook.  The cooking instructions are in paragraph form which takes all of my slightly ADD-riddled brain to understand.  I’m a skimmer, I get about 80 percent of the jist and I am horrible at following directions.  Everytime I set the smoke alarm off because somewhere buried deep in 150 words of text it says “turn the burner on medium heat” that I don’t notice, I tweet at Blue Apron begging for recipe instruction in bullet point form.

6.  I had Natalie over for crispy chicken thighs with kumquat relish and freekah salad after I got one of my first boxes.  I have never purchased a kumquat in my life, let alone cooked one, and had never heard of freekah.  I inevitably set the smoke alarm off and burned the shit out of the chicken, pulled off the burnt chicken skin, finished cooking the rest of the dish and presented a bowl to Natalie with a solid, “I’m sorry.”  And “I’ll order pizza if this is truly horrible.”

Oddly enough, us Midwest meat and potato girls were impressed with the freekah, kumquat and cheese situation.  Even with the slightly flavoring of charred chicken skin.

Natalie’s review: This is oddly good.  But what’s up with the chicken?  Is it organic?  Organic chicken sucks.  I like my chicken with hormones.

And I agreed.

7.  My mother was in town last weekend and it was just wonderful.  We ate delicious food and drank delicious wine and both fell asleep on the couch at 11pm on Saturday night watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which is an excellent show and on Netflix.

8.  My younger brother Tim moved home recently and every time my mother tells me what she cooked for dinner I get blind with jealousy.  Then I remember that if I lived in Minnesota, I’d actually have to go to work when it snowed.  And that would be too bad.  But seriously, Tim gets homemade carbonara at his leisure?  That’s just not fair.

OK, back to work.  I just received my third reminder about February timesheets, so I should probably do them before our secretary disowns me.

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Some things lately

It’s almost March, did you know that?  Being a girl that lives just below the Mason-Dixon line, that means winter is almost over.  It’s been a cold one this year, even by my Minnesota standards.  I’ve biked to work in 15 degrees, walked home in eight and felt like a champion each and every time.

We have only had one snow day and a handful of late starts this year, which seems drastically unfair compared to last year’s level of snow accumulation/snow days.  The city of D.C. is generally a baby about weather but I won’t ever complain about staying home from work on a Tuesday and spending hours tending to a pot of homemade chicken broth for matzo ball soup.  Although, it would be nice if the city would pick my garbage in a timely fashion.

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My mom, younger brothers, Tim and Jack, and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Mexico.  Four people, seven days, one hotel room.  But after some initial low blood sugar-related fits (and starts) the first day, we enjoyed each other company.  I have not lived in the same city as my brothers or mother in over six years.  It is amazing to me sometimes how alike we are and at times, how little we really know about each other living so far apart.

What I do know:

Jack, age 22, recent college graduate and all around the most favored youngest child, is the best of us three.  He is quiet and thoughtful and has these gigantic muscles that we can’t stop talking about.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I have seen Jack outraged in his whole life, while Tim and I probably were outraged at least three times last week.  Tim, age 25 and the typical middle child, just moved back to Minneapolis – deeming it time for himself to grow up a bit, making the dreaded decision to become an adult.  In this choice, he is really going to shine.  I can tell already.

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Upon my return to the District of Columbia on January 4, I decided leaving the house was overrated.  And more or less did not for the next month, save for work and school.  Three Fridays in a row my roommate came home to find me buried on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns.  One week I ate summer sausage and goat cheese for dinner.  Top Shelf Ramen noodles the next.  And I was perfectly content.

I emerged towards the end of the month ready to be out in the world.  For my official reentrance to a social life, Natalie and I went to happy hour at our preferred early twenties dive (we’re not in our early twenties any more, it turns out), ordered pitchers of Bud Light on a Thursday and stayed out really late.  Over the course of the evening, we collected stray Hill staffers, including one bright and shiney 23-year-old from Michigan whose enthusiasm for life was nothing short of adorable.  We talked shop, talked politics, talked shit. I had a Shake-Shack-at-11:30am type of hangover the next day but was reminded the world was nice.

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Otherwise, I’m just stumbling forward, as my father likes to say.  My mom will be in D.C. next week.  I really need to start paying better attention in class.  Cousin Josephine and I just booked tickets to Iceland and Copenhagen for August.  I hope to bring home a pet puffin, but as my old co-worker comment, “I’m certain you can bring one home as a sandwich. As a pet might be more controversial.”

And speaking of Josephine, tomorrow is her birthday!  Happy birthday, Josephine!  My favorite I’m-happy-I-don’t-have-a-sister-because-I’ve-got-you, cousin.  And for a final thought, I highly recommend a “Return of the Mack” Pandora station.

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