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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Three things on Thursday

1. During my first communications planning course last night, my professor clicked to a photograph of the Mad Men cast in her PowerPoint and asked, “So what are some of the things that have changed in the PR/advertising world since the Mad Men era?”

The room was silent for a beat, until I offered, “You can’t smoke indoors anymore.”

I’m pretty certain I earned all my participation points.

2. This.  Group projects are a fucking mystery for me.  And the swear is completely necessary.

3. And apparently now you can pay to glitter bomb your enemies.  I have a fairly long list of nemeses but I think he would be worth the extra expense.  I should have factored that into my 2015 budget.

Well, that’s a start.

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Goodbye

I was 19, home in Minnesota on spring break from college, and up in Duluth for two of my cousins’ annual birthday celebration.  I walked into the funeral home hungover that Sunday wearing last night’s clothes to say goodbye to my grandfather before I drove the 2 1/2 hours back to Minneapolis.

He was eating breakfast – eggs, bacon, toast with jam, orange juice and coffee – his standard fare.  I sat down next to him and asked about his morning, about church.

“I prayed for the sins of my children and grandchildren,” he said, killing himself laughing.  I fixed myself breakfast and joined him at the table. That was the only meal I ever had alone with my grandfather.

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I saw my grandpa’s younger brother, Uncle John, now maybe 90 himself, a couple years ago.  Uncle John said, “Give your grandpa one of these for me next time you see him,” sticking up both his middle fingers and jerking them in the air.

A week later in Duluth, I greeted my grandfather and told him I’d seen his brother recently.  “Oh? What’d he have to say?” he asked.

“He told me to give you one of these,” I said – half mortified – and stuck up both my middle fingers.

“Well,” he said, “did you give him the finger back?”

I loved his laugh.  I loved that he could spot a nose piercing or a tattoo from 100 paces, even at 97-years-old.  That he’d share his 10pm-smoothies.  How he looked at my grandmother – after about a 100 million years of marriage and thirteen children – like he’d struck gold.  That he believed red lights on Christmas Day were optional.  How he’d haul us all to church and then promptly fall asleep once mass started.  How he always illegally parked, citing his POW license plate as his get-out-of-a-ticket card.  He told me to say hello to the president on his behalf every time I returned to D.C.  He believed a good story was better than the truth.  He believed in all of us.

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This week

I have a five page paper due Monday on integrated marketing strategies and a 1000 word essay on writing well due Wednesday.  I’ve been instructed to always use the oxford comma.  I’ve been reminded that there are in fact stupid questions.  And that I’m capable of staying awake through a 2 1/2 hour class on Wednesday night after two work dinners, two work lunches, one work breakfast and two committee meetings the days prior.  I probably like a total jackass in a $300 Banana Republic suit and equally expensive boots with a backpack (thanks Mona!) slung over my shoulder.  But I’m owning it.

Grad school has been an adjustment.  I returned from Minnesota in late August, moved out of the terrible house into a new house with two more strangers, got into an epic, knockdown, drag out fight with a friend that hasn’t been resolved, started graduate school, withdrew from the American University Saturday training course (something had to give), 100% abused my month-long Amazon Prime trial and have limited my stress-eating to a brownie and a bag of chips and two suckers.  At least today.

I’m not feeling very light on my feet these days or like I’m having any fun.  But these things take time, so I’m told.  Adjusting to a life I left behind long ago when I graduated college at 20 and swore I’d never ever return to.  We’re in the middle of a reorg at work.  I miss my mother.

So while I’m adjusting – I’m making fantastic breakfast tacos.  I’m forgoing a couple extra hours of sleep on a school night for a couple beers after a long day with my favorite pal.  I’m also staying in a lot.  I’m reading good faction books that have nothing to do with school or work or responsibility before bed.  I’m online shopping.  And most importantly, I’m being easy on myself.  Sorry if I haven’t called you back.

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My Minnesota Vacation

The second I enter the state of Minnesota I revert back into some old habits – I whine at my mother as often as possible, mostly just to annoy her.  I immediately start consuming more bacon.  Personal hygiene becomes questionable the second I get up to the cabin.  Twenty miles north on 35W I start referring to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as “the cities” and stretching out my vowels enough to make two letter words (n-o) up to two syllables (noooo-ah).

My Minnesota vacation was like summer camp but with alcohol.   I water skied and went horseback riding and square danced.  Then I water skied again so I’d have another two days of sore muscles to lament about to my mother (she 100% did not care).  I built exactly one fire and looked at the stars.  I let other people cook for me and took lots of naps and sat in the  sauna.  I tried as hard as I could to bottle up the relaxation before I returned to D.C. to pack and move and start grad school next week.

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Waterskiing is particularly difficult when the boat keeps choking and you’ve forgotten which foot you put in the front of your slalom ski.  It was literally all I could do to hold on I was so tired by the end of full the lap around the lake.  Muscles I forgot I had were sore the next day.  But I look so athletic and Minnesotan in this picture.

My legs felt like jello afterwards.

One super quick way to make your legs feel like jello.

 

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While horseback riding on Friday, my new Fitbit vibrated – Spankey the horse was pleased he’d reached his 10,000 steps.  Spankley the horse also accurately deduced that it had been years since I’d been riding and absolutely took advantage of me.  We quickly worked out a mutually agreeable arrangement – I agreed to swat the flies on his neck, he agreed to do whatever he wanted and not throw me off.  It was a win-win for both of us.

horses

The horses lose interest in you as a person once they’ve been fed.

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Saturday night my uncle had a party out at the farm  – the farm where my mom grew up and I spent many years as a kid horseback riding and swimming in the pool with my cousins.  My uncle hired a square dance caller for the festivities and the caller was not impressed with our abilities.  I’m pretty sure he would audibly sigh as we’d miss the call, stop moving and just stand in a circle looking at each other.  Or miss the call and just dosey doe because that’s the only move we had down cold.  I think he gave up on us pretty quickly.  And we gave up and switched to a 40-person game of flip cup because that’s something we’re actually good at.

sd

Our best efforts.

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My sweet grandfather is 97.  He still lives above the family funeral home – which is very confusing to everyone that we’re not related to.  I went out with my cousin Jean on Friday night and after one too many Jameson and gingers stood on a street corner and said, “I’m going to need you to take me back to the funeral home right now!”

“OK!” Jean said, “off to the funeral home!”

“Whoa,” said a stranger on the street, “what’s with people going to funeral homes?!”

That’s just how we roll.

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27 and then some

Last week – I turned 27.  I was tested for mono (negative).  Got an “atta girl” at work.  Was accepted to a master’s program at Georgetown.

“Oh good,” my mom said, “now you can be an education snob like everyone else in D.C.!”

I was also accepted to a professional development program at American University that meets on Saturday mornings once a month.  This will be the year of education.  My cabeza will get so big, my brain is going to hurt.  I’m going to network like a mother fucker.

I’m mostly excited to have an excuse to tote around a backpack.

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I’m moving for the second time in less than a year next week.  To a house back on the other side of the Hill with two different strangers off Craig’s List and a Costa Rican mural on one wall in my new bedroom.  It’s obscenely bright and busy and probably a great thing I don’t do hallucinogenic drugs.  But it has sentimental value to the landlord, whose father painted the wall, and I find that endearing.

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Thanks y’all for the birthday wishes.  And for being my friend.  And for the ill-advised birthday shots of Jameson.  Last week made a girl feel quite loved.  And I paid for it dearly on Saturday after a final birthday/grad school acceptance celebration.

No thanks ever again to Former Roommate B though – he had a shot of tequila waiting for me when I arrived at a very family-friendly restaurant Friday evening and told the waiter he wasn’t allowed to take my order until I drank said tequila, so he’s forever on my shit list.

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I’m off to Minnesota on Friday to spend a couple of days at the cabin.  I’m going to let my mother cook me breakfast and pat my head and take naps out on patio looking at the lake.  Then off to Duluth to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and spend some quality time with this man – who at 97 years old still reminds me that life is very sweet.

 

It’s amazing what can change in a year.  My world seems so much larger these days.

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Some stuff on Friday

I ate two tacos and drank three beers and wrote the perfect blog post in my head last night as I was brushing my teeth.  It was epic – what is said, we shall never know.  I really should write these thoughts down, but it’s hard to practice good oral hygiene and write down my random thoughts at the same time.  And usually my moments of literary brilliance come in the shower.  Figures.  

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I found a place to live!  After only 10 1/2 months of my current spot, I am returning to my beloved Southeast D.C.  I just prefer that quadrant.  And would prefer not to burn my current home to the ground, so it’s best I exit as soon as possible.  

I was emailing with my girlfriend about the new place and she said, “But you’ll be so far from H Street!”  Which is the location of our preferred bar hangout.  And by far she means like 9 blocks instead of 3.  

“I know,” I said, “but I’ll be so much closer to my gym.”  We both agreed that was the grossest thing I’ve ever said. 

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When you’re Craig’s List househunting in D.C. everyone has extremely pointed questions with a mild to extremely traumatic story behind it that mostly baffles all common sense.  

My questions: How many days should a pot of chili soak on the stove?  (3 hours – tops.)  Do pizza boxes EVER belong on the living room floor – let alone for 24+ hours?  (No.)  How many days do you think it’s acceptable for bags of garbage that includes your untrained dog’s pee pads to be left on the back sun porch?  (Fucking gross.)  You spill half a pot of spaghetti on the stove – how do you respond?!  (Clean it up!)

New roommate:  If we run out of toilet paper for our shared bathroom, you….  (Buy more!)  Would you ever leave all the windows open downstairs when no one is home and only lock the door knob lock and not the deadbolt?  (Nope – getting burgled sounds like zero fun.)  What’s your conflict resolution style?  (Passive-aggressive as fuck!  Just kidding, that’s only when I almost step in your dog’s shit on the kitchen floor at 7am*.  Usually I converse with people about my issues like a fucking adult.)

All that other life shit – TBD.  Have a good weekend y’all!  

*I’ve made so many jokes about letting my roommate’s dog and bipolar cat (the one that likes to curl up on your lap, snuggle her head into your hand and then promptly bites you) out into the wild to see if they survive that if I did ever accidentally lose them, I’d never be believed.  Ever. 

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