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.

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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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26 Going On…

I’ll be turning 27 next week.  I think that means I’m in my late twenties now instead of my mid-twenties.  My friend said to me the other day, “We’ll be in our thirties the next time we watch the World Cup.”  We did a collective shudder of our bodies and took a sip of wine.

I’ve been in D.C. now for over 5 1/2 years.  Over the course of those years and months I’ve had four jobs and three apartments and 14 different roommates.  I’m moving next month again, by the way, hopefully to a home absent of a tiny little dog that barks incessantly and often shits on the kitchen floor.  Where – that’s to be determined.  Luckily I am old enough now to have many friends with spare bedrooms, so me and my large collection of shoes won’t be temporarily without a home.

Being an adult – I think we can all agree it’s overrated.

I’ve got a good job and a savings account and a Roth IRA that I (un)wisely maxed out last year because I’m smart enough to save money each month.  But not always smart enough to resist large purchases like an adorable Vespa that I 100% don’t need so it’s best to get rid of all that cash.

I’ve got this pinched nerve in my neck that flares up during moments of stress or poor sleep or after 1 1/2 long hour bike rides on gorgeous Friday afternoons when I’ve called in sick to work and miraculously recovered around 2pm.  I’m diligently continuing my post-puberty battle with acne.  I don’t always remember the old adage “beer before liquor, never been sicker.”  Sometimes I chase a session at the gym with chicken tenders and french fries and beer.  Sometimes a salad and an early bedtime.

My friend told me once that as a child, she thought 24 was the perfect age to get married.  I recall being shocked the perfect age to get married was something I was supposed to think about – as a child or really ever.  Is that something I’m supposed to be thinking about?

So what exactly am I supposed to have learned by 27?  Besides that I hope to never never run for exercise ever again and I still think lima beans are fucking gross and you really should drink a shit ton of water every day.  That you should always use “I” statements instead of “you” statements when arguing, I look terrible in the color yellow and perfecting your early 2000s Pandora rap station is a valiant accomplishment.

There could be some hard and fast changes in the next month or so in addition to where I sleep at night.  There could be none.  Vague, I know.  But I’m one to worry about the jinx.

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10 on Thursday

1.  I was in Minnesota – specifically at my mom’s cabin in bum fuck USA – for five whole days last week.  And guys, it’s amazing how much my shoulders can relax when I’m standing on a dock looking at a gorgeous lake with a beer in my hand and polar fleece on my person and the firm knowledge that my mom is cooking me dinner at that very moment.  Because my mom is the best like that.

2.  Backstory: So my mother suffers from a crippling fear of missing anything fun ever.  She decided it would “probably be best” to fly from Minnesota to Atlanta where I was meeting my aunt and cousin this spring and drive the 4 1/2 hours with us to Nashville for a little mother-daughter bonding trip just in case.  Read: What if her flight got canceled because it never ever stopped snowing in Minnesota this winter and we had fun without her?!

So on Friday night we were all sitting around the fire at the cabin on her extremely comfortable outdoor furniture.  We had just consumed a delicious dinner, taken a delightful sauna and dip in the lake and were shooting the shit and enjoying a cocktail.  And mom falls asleep.

Now if you try to wake her up she just tells you she’s resting her eyes or she’s still listening, so we’ve learned to just let her hang out.  Plus she has insomnia like whoa, so she needs her sleep where she can get it.  Being the super lovely children that we are, we debated the pros and cons of drawing a penis on her face for a while (OK, we might have had more than one cocktail), but eventually decided against it.  Partially because it’s extremely unkind but mostly because we didn’t want to risk her refusing to cook us breakfast in the morning.  And mom makes a slammin’ breakfast.

Super sorry, mom.

3.  Proof she makes a slammin’ breakfast – one morning she made homemade waffles and turned them into sandwiches with honey ham and dijon mustard.  I highly recommend it for your breakfast pleasure.

4.  Do y’all know what loons are on the East Coast?  If not, this is a loon.  Also known as the other Minnesota state bird – besides mosquitoes.  They are very cute and have a lovely call that is very calming for us Minnesota kids.

loon

So cousin Josephine, brother Tim and I are all swimming in the lake on Saturday and Tim’s Jack Russell Mila decides she desperately wants to get in the fun while simultaneously being terrified.  She buckled to peer pressure (all of us yelling “Mila, come here!”) from various parts of the lake and jumped in.

On the way back she seemed to regret her decision and jumped up on Josephine like a baby loon to hitch a ride.  She later tried to do this to me when I was swimming without the use of any flotation device by climbing on my head and we both went under.

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5.  My mom’s cousin wrote this book – go buy it!  Here is the link directly to the Amazon page!  I gave it to two of my co-workers for their young daughters and then was like by the way – the main character lives in a funeral home.  Hope you don’t think that’s too weird!  Bye!

6.  I’ve had this song stuck in my head all week.

I’m bored now and need to get back to work.  Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July!

Side note – I hit publish by accident before I’d even read the damn thing, but it’s now been at least read over once but still not really proofed.

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My finest hour — Mexican-style quiche

I hosted book club (read: excuse to drink champagne at 1pm) last weekend and made some Mexican-style quiche.  Last time I made it was the morning of Thanksgiving and my brothers proceeded to unceremoniously house the entire thing.  Plus it’s pink, so that is generally awesome.  

Last night I used up the leftover shredded cheese and sausage to make a tart (quiche minus the crust) in a cast iron skillet which is just as delicious.  And much healthier.  Here you go – both versions.  

Tart:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Make sure your skillet is mostly clean, grease it up and add half a pound of sausage.  Or a pound.  Or whatever you have.  When the sausage is almost done, drained as much of the oil as you can without burning yourself or dumping all the sausage onto your kitchen counter (scoop out most of the grease with a spoon and then use a paper town to soak up the rest) and then tossed in some chopped onions and cooked those.  Then take some shredded cheese and dump that on top of the sausage.  Next mix 4 eggs, a little over a half a cup of cream and a cup of salsa together and mixed it all up and dumped it on top.  Pop it in the oven for like 20 minutes on 425.  

Quiche:

Do all of the above but dump the ingredients into a pie crust and not a skillet.  It takes about 45 minutes to bake a quiche.  And if your over sucks as much as mine does, precook the crust a little bit or else you might accidentally serve your girlfriends half-cooked pie crust.  And that’s a bummer.  

And then you eat it and it’s fucking amazing.  The end. 

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