Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

East of Elon

Check out the East of Elon brewing co-op, Mark and Ian's new venture into home brewing.


barf bag.

** Warning: Content is disgusting and may be unsuitable for those with weak stomachs **


This is how I started my Friday last week. The Friday I had looked forward to for about a month because it involved traveling to Asheville for a romantic weekend away with Mark.

And I was greeted with barf. Lots of it.

How's that for an introduction? Here's what happened:

Since I was leaving for the airport directly from work, I had packed up my orange suitcase and rolled it diligently for .6 miles from my apartment to the Woodley Park Metro stop. Because the bag was heavy (I'm not usually an over-packer, but for some reason I was one this week), I struggled down the broken escalator. Don't even get me started on that front. It's another ranting blog entry waiting to happen. It's been broken since January. 'Nough said there. But I digress. I struggle down the broken escalator and hop on to a train that pulled up right as I did. I find a seat and precariously make my way with my bag to sit down. I pull out my book, and begin the 30-minute journey to work.

About a stop later, a guy gets on the train and comes to sit next to me.

And wow. Um. Something stinks. In a city, particularly one with such an extensive transit system that's, until recently at least, fairly reasonably priced, you get to mingle with the unwashed masses. My friend Bridget and I have started keeping tabs on the weird/disgusting/odd/bizarre/only on the Metro-type encounters we have. We've actually talked about starting a blog about it. We encounter that many. Anyway, unwashed masses.

This guy stinks. Like. Bad. Hopefully he'll get off soon. And as if my silent prayers were answered. He did. About three stops later.

But it still stinks! What is going on? His stinkiness rubbed off on the seat. Gross!!

About three stops later -- I'm about four stops from work at this point -- I make up my mind to get up and walk to another seat. At exactly the same time, a Metro employee gets on the train and walks up to me and stares down at me with all the guile of someone about to pummel the living shit out of me says, "Ma'am, you need to move. Now." I look up from my book, and stunned, say, "I'm sorry, why?"

"Because someone vomitted next to you. You need to move."


Yes. Vomit.

I look down and there it is. A big old, stinky pile. And of course, I freak out. Jump up, and immediately drop my sweater on to it. The sweater that I have to wear all day at work. That I have to wear on the plane and then for a two-hour drive to Asheville.

I move myself, realize I've stepped in it, and check my sweater for incrimintating spots. Miraculously enough, there was only a pinky fingernail sized smudge that wasn't fiber-deep. And my shoes. Well, of course they were brand new, but the nastiness was limited to the bottom. OK. Gross. But I can deal with this.

I get to Silver Spring and run straight to the bathroom. I clean everything with scalding hot water and enough antibacterial soap to kill a small country. The shoes are clean, and the sweater, well, it's clean enough for me to feel comfortable putting it back on after it's dried and I've checked it for smell, spots and any semblance of the foul substance that was there an hour before. I sit down in my cube and start working, horribly mortified by the insanity that I've just experienced. And then. I smell it.

By some odd impulse, I sense that it's on my luggage. My beautiful orange luggage that's traveled with me to London, Prague, Italy, Ireland and everywhere in between. I gingely walk to the other side of my cube where the bag sits, and flip it over to see the bottom. And of course. There it is. Cow-patty sized splat of barf. And I lose it.

Images of Chunk in The Goonies crying about a barf-o-rama flash through my head. I'm laughing, crying and gagging all at the same time. It's horrible. It's ugly. It stinks and it's on my bag. MY BAG.

All the girls come running to see if I'm OK and I manage to control myself enough to take the bag into the women's room to begin the arduous task of cleaning the foulness off the bottom of the bag. Luckily, there was a really kind woman who took one look at me and helped me on hands and knees until every last bit of grime was Clorox-wiped, Lysol-ed and scrubbed.

So by 9:30 a.m., I could finally start my day vomit-free. The rest of the day wasn't any better. My flight was two hours delayed and we didn't get to our bed and breakfast until 1:30 a.m. But the weekend made up for it in spades. Photos of the fun to come soon.

Just another day on the Metro, and in the words of my friend Heidi, "Brings whole new meaning to the term 'barf bag.'"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the mono.

Yet again, blogging has been foiled by life's little quirks. This time the quirk came in the form of mononucleosis.

Yeah. That's right. At 23, I was afflicted with the disease usually reserved for hormone-crazed 16 year olds.

It's been a rough five weeks. It started with some scariness -- namely involving the doctor's being completely baffled by some impressively active lymph nodes in my groin. A week off work for doctor's visits. A six-hour stint at Suburban Hospital, which included a massive amount of blood drawn, and a CT scan. And ta-da! I have mono.

Really, I'd much rather have mono than any of the alternatives that come with swollen lymph nodes. But still. I'd much rather be healthy, too.

Now, five weeks later, I've almost fully recovered. Still waiting for my liver to cool it and catch up with the rest of my body. And until then, I'm teatotaling it, and minimizing any especially active activities (how's that for redundancy?).

Anyone who's read my blog before knows that I typically like to find a lesson, or five, in the things that I encounter and experience. So here are my lessons, in convenient list form, in no particular order:

01. When you get sick, and you don't know what's wrong, people worry about you. It's an incredibly wonderful feeling to know that there are people who truly care about your well-being and what happens to. I'm not talking about doctors and surgeons, I'm talking about friends and family. I'm so amazingly lucky to have parents close by, and fabulous friends and a boyfriend on-call who would check in daily for updates.

02. Health insurance is a god send. This experience has opened my eyes to just how essential it is to be able to just hand over your card, pay your co-pay and get the care you need. Thankfully, my experience ended in mono, but had it not, I would be even more thankful for health insurance. I cannot imagine life without it, and I'm really glad our government is working toward making it available to everyone. Politics aside, no one should have to worry about getting the care they need.

03. Mono sucks. It's a terrible, rotten, miserable virus. It knocked me on my ass. And it was absolutely amazing to me how little energy I had.

04. Puzzles are awesome. My friend sent me a care package full of "sick activities". A puzzle, coloring book, crayons, play dough. Yeah. I have great friends.

05. Knowing your limits is essential. I've never thought I had a problem listening to my body and knowing my limits. I've always been pretty in tune. But having mono has made me that much more aware.

06. Being healthy is a god send. I have so much respect and admiration for people who grapple with illness their whole lives. It sucks. And I'm sorry. I know I just had mono, but I feel that much more lucky that in a few weeks, I'll be back to normal and feel better. I wish everyone had that luxury.

OK, so I think that's it. I'm sure there are other things that I've learned/realized, but I can't think of them now. Other than the mono, things are going pretty well. Wednesday Night Dinners have continued, and now include another friend who is dead-set on blogging about it. So I'll post about that as soon as it happens.

I know I've fallen off this blogging wagon, and I'm struggling to get back on. So if you're still reading, thanks. And if not, I don't blame you.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

cooking up friendship

How do you solve the problem of lives that never seem to intersect? Dinner.

She still lives in Bethesda, but works Downtown at Children's Hospital. I work in Silver Spring but live downtown. She goes to Baltimore on the weekends to visit her boyfriend of three (almost four, right?) years who is still at UMBC. And I, well, I'm generally everywhere on the weekends.

We realized one afternoon in the summer before I moved that unless we came up with a standing date in the middle of the week, we'd never see each other.

Enter: Wednesday Night Dinner.

We meet at my place (it's on her way home) and cook ourselves a fabulous meal (sometimes, we've only had one disaster), complete with wine, beer or a stiffer drink if the work week's calling for it. And we talk as we cook. It's girl time. It's cheap. And it's wonderful.

About two months into it we instated the 1-new thing rule. We must cook one new thing every meal. It can be something we've had before, it can even be an old family recipe, but we cannot have ever made it ourselves. So now, about 7 months later, we're really becoming chefs. We even grilled for the first time last week. A huge accomplishment for someone who's only ever watched her dad grill (me) and someone who grew up a vegetarian (her). They say you should do one thing a day that scares you, well, we do one thing a week. And it's not scary because we have each other.

A quick list of successes:
  • Shrimp curry
  • Fattoush salad, kafta and tzatziki sauce with home-made pita chips
  • Lettuce wraps P.F. Chang-style
  • Pad Thai
  • Roasted asparagus with creamy mustard chicken with grapes
  • Chicken with balsamic glaze
  • Shrimp scampi
Four hands, two brains and my tiny kitchen make for wonderful Wednesday nights. A welcome respite at the middle of the week to help us over the hump and into the downhill of the rest of the week. The best part is that it's become a routine, which has even started to include a jasmine tea "ceremony" as we watch last week's episode of "30 Rock" or "The Office."

I've realized as I get older that when you're not seeing your friends every day at school, maintaining friendships, particularly really close, meaningful friendships, becomes harder and harder. It takes effort and time, and in our case, it takes lots of olive oil.

She and I are thinking about starting a blog about our dinners ... complete with recipes and photos and stories ... so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

snowy misery on foot

Warning: Mild-mannered rant to follow

Snowmagedden '10 has made it very obvious that there is very little respect for pedestrians in this city.

Taking to the streets to walk basically anywhere means taking your life into your hands. If the sidewalks are actually scraped clean, which about 50 percent are not, then they have random icy patches. Those that aren't scraped are landmines of ankle-rupturing pits and valleys. I understand that the roads are the first priority, but the roads are, at this point, at least passable by one lane of traffic. This isn't the case for the majority of sidewalks.

My usual commute to and from work takes me across a bridge on Connecticut Avenue. It's the "lion" bridge in Woodley Park for you Washingtonians. The bridge is incredibly high, and as a result is terribly blustery. There are sidewalks on either side of the bridge, as with most bridges. The roads have been clear since last Friday. The sidewalks are still dangerously covered in snow. As a result, pedestrians are forced to walk either in the street, being dodged mercilessly by ruthlessly fast traffic, or they must trudge laboriously through on the sidewalks, which are now slushy and incredibly hard to walk on. I nearly broke my ankle three times yesterday night. I'd forgotten about the mess and got off at the "wrong" stop. My alternative to falling and possibly pitching over the side of the bridge is walking an additional 1/4 mile up-hill from Dupont Circle. Not really that big of a deal, but at 9 p.m. when it's about 20 degrees out, that extra 1/4 mile sucks. A lot.

And let's not forget about the fear inspired by those in their 1-ton vehicles who are so pissed off that their commute is taking them 2 hours instead of 1 that they're ready to mow over any helpless pedestrian who happens to get in their way. Today, while walking up the hill in high heels carrying 1/6 of my body weight in groceries in 20 degree weather, I had to stare down a driver (who then gave me the finger) so he wouldn't hit me as I crossed with the light in a cross walk. I'm sorry, but you're sitting in your heated car. I'm walking up-hill in high heels carrying groceries and it's cold. You're honestly going to give me the finger? Seriously?

Now, I understand that no one is happy right now. Snowpocalypse has ruined our routines, and forced us all to languish over the possibility of high energy bills, broken ankles and thrown-out backs, 3-hour commutes from hell and any number of other snow-related stressers. And I know that DC has never been known as the kindest city, but come on!

The snow will melt. The road crews will scrape the sidewalks. Until then though, can we try not to kill each other? And can we maybe all band together to petition the city government to scrape the sidewalks a little faster so I can stop walking in the street and get out of your way?

The snow is ugly. It's like a brown slush-ee. Not so great. But why fight it? Yeah it sucks, but maybe if we all just tried to smile a little more, and understand that eventually it will be spring, and eventually we will see flowers and sun, and hell, grass, again someday, we can get through this.

And please watch out for pedestrians.

Monday, February 15, 2010

way too long.

Goodness it's been ages since I've done this ... and for that I truly apologize!

It's funny how when you actually have something to write about, when life is finally busy enough to be interesting -- you don't have any time to write about it.

Suffice it to say: My life at the moment is busy, but in a non-stressful way. Interesting, but in a non-dramatic way. And fun, exciting and all the other things people look for in moments of "good" in their lives.

I recognize that it's important that I keep up with my writing. The muscles will start to atrophy after a while, just like all other muscles. I can already feel the disintegration. Lately, my writing has been comprised of emails, the occasional memo and other random snippets at work. This just isn't going to cut it.

There will be more. I'm going to do it. It's time.