Saturday, September 29, 2007

me, myself & my two legs

After a looooong cab ride to the Greenbelt metro station from Laurel, MD I'm officially car-free. I almost made it a year with my car, but I must admit it's kind of nice to be back to solely public transit. It will be all too easy to take the payments previously made to Honda Financing and All State and reallocate them to the NYC landlord. No sweat at all.

My kitchen table is officially gone. I finally found someone non-flaky who picked it up last night. My living room instantaneously went from crowded to empty, soon to be filled with even more cardboard boxes.

Tam arrived into town last night. We met KM and headed to Lauriol Plaza, a definite must for my last weekend in DC. It's like things have come full circle. Lauriol was one of the first restaurants the Tour Guide took me to back in 2005 pre-move.

Afterwards, Tam and I headed to DC9 where I'd surprisingly never been and was one of her faves. Friday night is their Liberation Dance Party. Fabulous and occasionally fabulously hideous music. We had a perfect seat to take in some of the fantastic people watching right in our line of sight. There weren't many people on the dance floor, but definitely those there were amusement enough for us. It was good to catch up though. We called it an early night to save steam for Saturday.

Tonight it's time for some fantastic 80's cover action and theme attire, of course. I decided any dancing for this weekend should likely be reserved for Saturday. Thought the healing foot would appreciate that. Cause I'm still preoccupied with 19... 19... 1985!

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, September 28, 2007

farewell barry white

I hurried onto the metro this morning. I can't seem to stop packing. I start and before I know it, it's after midnight. Or, in the case of this morning, I start going through bubble wrap and packing tape right and left - taking on more than I have time to handle and I just happen to stop to look up for 5 seconds to see it is 15 minutes past when I have to leave to go to work. Argh.

I barely made it onto the train. I like that there are so many seats on the train for those wonderful, coveted rides where there happens to be few enough passengers that you actually get to indulge in sitting in one of them. More often than not though, in the early hours of morning rush hour, that's not going to happen. Instead, the fantastic space-hogging layout of WMATA's cars equates to not enough room for all of the passengers cramming in to go downtown on the orange line. I will add that to my list of things I will not miss about DC's metro.

I crammed myself in, just as some guy stomped on my healing broken foot. Nice, guy - thanks. My mood was instantly alleviated as the beautiful booming voice of the Barry White train operator came over the intercom. Ahhhhh. His version of "New Carrollton" was not quite as inspiring as "Vienna - Fairfax", but almost! And to think, he was one thing on my list of one-more-time-pre-move-must-do's - clearly an uncontrollable one at that. How nice of him to offer to help me add that check mark. Much appreciated.

So packing is going well. Last night I signed my intent to vacate with my apartment complex -- so my fantastic 615 square foot slice of Arlington will be on the market this weekend. I made my last run to the UHaul store. Tonight I have someone coming over to take my kitchen table, which should make my apartment more Manhattan friendly.

I'm looking forward to Tam's arrival tonight. As much as I could really use the whole weekend to pack, I think some distraction and downtime is exactly what I need to give me some extra umph to go into the final week of insanity.

The countdown has begun...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

operation down-size

What do you do when you move from DC to NYC? You try to take a reasonably sized smallish 1 bedroom and figure out as many corners as possible you can cut to eliminate even more of your smallish collection of most prized possesions (saving, of course, all 35-40 boxes of shoes - because those are non-negotiable).

What have I been doing to work towards accomplishing this ultimate goal? The initial step was throwing out all of my CD cases. Liberating. Next, I've been hand-folding all of my clothing and putting them into boxes and as I am doing so, I'm weeding out those things I never wear that I've held on to for many many shameless years. No mas. Poof. Gone. Now in the Trader Joe paper bags and soon to be happily en route to Good Will. What else? I have suits that are 2 sizes too big that I have not worn since college. Where are those going? You guessed it - donation. It's amazing how quickly you can compress your world down!

Next step? I'm selling my kitchen table. It's part of my congrats-you're-a-big-girl-and-got-your-first-real-job collection (circa 2005), but has been more of a large placeholder in my apartment because as I sadly own up to from time to time, I am not quite the world's greatest cook. Someday I'll be cooking, but in the meantime I'm not going to hurt in my wallet for a big hunk of wood that no one's eating on. Hopefully soon to say *POOF*, also gone...

I guess those who focus on the possibility of having spacious living arrangements will cringe at this next comment, but I'm still excited. Give me a cardboard box but let it overlook Manhattan in some way, and I'll be as content as can be. Bring it on ;-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

i felt a change a' comin' soon...

Perhaps it's been noticeable I've been a bit on the quiet side as of late. It happens. Sometimes things get busy. Sometimes I'm just feeling on the unsocial side. Or sometimes, it's because I'm having to highly censor life, and there's just not a lot to trickle through.

This time, it's the last scenario...

Rewind... so, a week and a half ago, I had a phone screen (first interview) with my former employer from Miami, but this time for their NYC office. The same team I used to work with closely from South Florida had an opening in their NYC headquarters location. And the job was ideal. Seemingly perfect.

I came across all of this following my Labor Day trip to NYC, as I'd finally allowed myself to admit that what I was doing career-wise was not where I wanted to be. I was getting specialized. Way too specialized. And in something my heart was not into. Somehow, it wasn't until I was practically fully out of the international realm that I realizes that was where I wanted to be. So some emails, some resumes, and I found myself on a phone call with a former colleague, who is also the manager for this role.

Last week on Tuesday evening, they brought me up to NYC for the on-site and final interview. And what a nightmare of a trip up it was... along with a night of missed connections. The interview went great. It was one of those things where you just feel at home. I was surrounded by familiar faces back in the crazy corporate environment I missed so much. It just made sense.

I was afraid it would be a long and torturous process, having experienced the bureaucracy on the hiring process upon other instances. I was surprised to receive the verbal offer last Thursday, with the final offer coming midday Friday. Noon on Friday, I was sitting in front of my manager, giving my two weeks notice.

But didn't I just move? Oh yes. Clearly, it is my joy in life. And back to those lovely cardboard boxes I've gone. Didn't I just sign a one year lease? Again, all details.

So the weekend has become a hodge podge of this and that, heavily focused on frantic get-it-accomplished-ASAP packing. I feel like I may have given a kidney to Goodwill by accident. I've had my car appraised by CarMax, where I will probably be robbed unless someone would like to make me a fabulous offer. I've reserved the loading dock at my apartment complex from when I'm guessing... errrr hoping to be coming back to meet the movers to load up my stuff to head north.

Literally, I'm off in two weeks -- Manhattan bound. People have asked why I didn't ask for extra time to move up. The answer is that in a way, I'm choosing this. I'm not good with goodbyes. Never been a forte of mine, and I don't see that as a negative by any means. Most of my friends learned the news midday Friday, as the Tour Guide sent out an Evite for a farewell happy hour. I hate goodbyes and it's the people that have made DC, and I knew those very same people all knowing the play-by-play prior to seeing if this would go through would make the decision process more difficult for me... and so, here I am.

And that's the scoop, before me and my cardboard box cut hands fall asleep over my laptop. I'm excited about the next chapter. I don't feel nervous. It just feels right.

Monday, September 17, 2007

how to make a beautiful life

Birthdays are another of many types of new years... your personal new year of sorts. The Fashionista gave me a really neat symbolic gift... two necklaces. One has a small silver dove, for when I am feeling free as a bird. The other has a pair of silver hearts, so whenever I'm feeling down I can wear my heart on my neck and not on my sleeve. I really like that (today - I'm wearing the dove).

My parents sent me a birthday card. The poem inside, no credit info beyond Hallmark, really struck me as well. Just in case I should somehow lose it, I wanted to include its words here to share as well...

Love yourself.
MAKE PEACE with who you are
and where you are
at this moment in time.

Listen to your heart.
If you can't hear what it's saying
in this noisy world,
MAKE TIME for yourself.
Enjoy your own company.
Let your mind wander among the stars.

Take chances.
Life can be messy
and confusing at times,
but it's also full of surprises.
The next rock in your path
might be a stepping stone.

Be happy.
When you don't have what you want,
want what you have.
That's a well-kept secret of contentment.

There aren't any shortcuts to tomorrow.
You have to MAKE YOUR OWN WAY.
To know where you're going
is only part of it.
You need to know where you've been, too.
And if you ever get lost, don't worry.
The people who love you will find you.
Count on it.

Life isn't days and years.
It's what you do with time
and with all the goodness and grace
that's inside you.
The kind of life you deserve.

(* Original poem said "MAKE DO", but my mom revised and personally, I prefer the revision)

Here's to hoping year 2-8 means many wonderful days in store and, of course, nothing but the best surprises around each bend.

Friday, September 14, 2007

weekend review: 'cause i'm the birthday girl, that's why...

I love the places that wish you happy birthday... Friday morning I found emails from Borders Rewards, MyCoke Rewards, and my Allstate Agent in my inbox. Awwww. So nice to feel loved, even by Coca-Cola.

I'll be honest, I didn't get much of anything done all day at work on Friday. With my phone set to vibrate, it was bouncing all around the desk all day as friends called, sent e-mails, e-cards, and posted comments on MySpace and Facebook. I was planning to offset this with working through lunch, but when Rio heard
I was lunch plan-less on my birthday, we made impromptu plans to head to my favorite, Cafe Soleil - which we capped off with their fantastic chocolate mousse. I came back to the office to 15 minutes later be whisked into a surprise birthday celebration, complete with homemade German chocolate cake. Yes, more chocolate. I don't know that I can be legally held responsible for not being productive post-lunch with all that sugar.

For dinner, I'd made a reservation for me and the ladies to check out a spot I'd never been to before, Sesto Senso. The DG and I arrived before the rest of the crew. She offered to buy me a glass of wine and we were planning on drying off and catching up before the others arrived. We ran into two gentleman at the bar, one whose cousin owned the place, who insisted on getting us a couple of glasses of wine. Fine. So we were chatting a bit with them before they learned it was my birthday. Well, oh my then, they were insistent on ordering a bottle of Dom Perignon. The DG and I soon found ourselves with two glasses -- one wine and one champagne. Classy... the ladies soon showed up and we bid them adieu and made our way to our table.

What a nice restaurant... our new "friends" sent over some appetizers to begin, which were definitely appreciated by the table. The conversation was quite amusing, centering on one particular friend's recent encounters with um let's just say an especially challenged male on He felt the need to explain that he was a habitual liar, even going on to state he wanted to be able to date but yet still keep his wife. Tip for the day... while females do tend to want closure and explanations in situations, sometimes silence is the best option!

Saturday was the Virginia Wine Festival. What could be more appropriate for my birthday weekend? We crawled out of bed bright and early to hike all the way to the end of the orange line to meet up with our bus at the Vienna metro with plenty of time to spare for our 10AM departure. The five of us made our way straight to the back, so we'd span window to window. We were just about to seek out someone to take a picture of us, when one gentleman, laughing, said we had to have a photo. Well, since you asked... instantly, there were 3-4 cameras out, on, and all five of us were smiling in his direction. =) MsH and JS had plans for the evening... the rest of us thought they were nuts, saying our plans for the evening consisted of nada, nada, nada. I said I'm going out... like a light on my futon. I am clearly a psychic (just ask my futon).

The festival was at the Morven Park Equestrian Center. The weather was beautiful, but a tad bit colder than anticipated and wind definitely amplifying the drop in temps. I soon found myself an owner of a threads of peace (?) sweatshirt. How do I always seem to find myself purchasing emergency sweatshirts? Oh well. Virginia vineyards might not be quite on par with California, but not all half-bad. I found myself coming home with five bottles -- three from Lake Anna Winery (Spotsylvania Claret, Lakeside Sunset, and Totally White), Rebec Vineyards (Autumn Glow - a fascinating blend of a Riesling and Cabernet Franc, love it!), and Kluge Estate (Cru - a Chardonnay made from grapes "fortified" with brandy and then aged in Jack Daniel's barrels - truly unique).

We met fantastic and friendly people everywhere we went, from the tasting tables to the line at the port-o-potty, where one time we encountered a couple of nice people, one who shared their recent purchase at the tasting table, a blush called "Fiesta". We later met a gentleman who said his daughter would have fit in perfectly with our crew. She had passed away from meningitis some years ago. It was a sweet moment.

It was close to 5:30 by the time we boarded the bus, where we were greeted by a small package of Hershey's Cacao Reserve. Mmmmm. We had basically devoured them when one of the group noted "um, the expiration date is July 2007?". Pish posh. We didn't let that keep us from our chocolate.

At 7pm as I arrived home, I was definitely happy with the birthday weekend. It was a weekend surrounded by friends and fun. I couldn't ask for more.

And now, I'm just refusing to acknowledge Monday's arrival, because I'm just going to keep living in weekend birthday mode...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

thursday's random smorgasbord of ramblings

(or Just Say No to Bank of America ATMs)

I was just reading the news and apparently Bank of America's ATM's will
now charge $3.00 to all non-account owners who elect to have the privilege of withdrawing their wad of one dollar bills from BOA's system. What do I say to that? Boo. Glad I'm reading so I know who to not get money from. Um, no. And now, you do too.

Granny Airlines

I am really amused by the recent news articles surrounding the young lady who was supposedly wearing provocative clothing on Southwest Airlines on a recent flight and was pulled aside. She was apparently allowed to board the plane after she pulled her skirt down to make it appear longer. Um, c'mon. I was trying to find a picture of her online, but I saw this on TV and I've seen much worse on planes I've been on. If she's provocative, then I must be flying next to porn stars on my planes. And now there's a second lady?

And what's my favorite part? Southwest used to dress its flight attendants in hot pants in the '70s. Their slogan was "the love airline". I would think the "love airline" would have some love for the crazy insane short skirt this passenger opted for. Guess not.

So, what happened to being focused on security measures at airports? Yeah, hello, that CODE ORANGE warning that blares over the loudspeakers at every airport across America. 'Cause last airport I personally left out of, the person working at the security checkpoint? Yeah, they had basically shut down for the evening. I was wearing my oh so fabulous cast. Did he mention it or check it for explosives? Negative. Wand it? Nope. He did scan my bag normally through the machine and then looked at me, commenting "eh, you don't look like a threat".

But clearly, Southwest has their priorities in order. Postage stamp skirts? Now THERE'S the real threat to America...

(Note - I do not personally opt for the skirts of the teensie variety. Just had to say... and if I did, yeah, I'd clearly not fly Southwest!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

weekend review: birthday x 2 x 3

The Tour Guide and I have an annual tradition - the joint birthday bash. 'Cause why not? Her birthday is the 9th and mine is the 14th. So close. We have friends in common. We're social. And who doesn't like an excuse to get all your friends together for a fun night out? Done deal. The tradition started my first year here, when I'd only been in DC for a few months. It's just kept on trucking ever since.

The past couple of years, the venue of choice has been Ozio. But we were Ozio'd out. We wanted to pick something fun and girlie. From their website touting their selection of fruity, girlie martinis, Topaz Bar was a clear winner for this year's option for our third annual bash. Beforehand, a group of us grabbed dinner at Mezza Luna to celebate with the Tour Guide. She was happy to have her boyfriend there (long-distance turned walking distance, as she's put it as of late).

Getting to the bar, we sized up the room we'd reserved. Not bad, but a bit tight size-wise. Nothing to despair though over, as we soon spilled out and pretty much took over the rest of the bar -- as we basically figured would be the case. The bartender told us they couldn't remember the last time they had a crowd like that -- always nice to know your presence is recognized and appreciated! At a venue like that where it's stuffed to the brim with smiling faces, all of which are your friends. What more does one need on their birthday? Presents? Yeah, they're just icing on the cake.

I jokingly told the Tour Guide that most of my friends were apparently going to be wave 2, arriving fashionably late as is the norm. The Fashionista arrived with many of my friends in tow who had been at her place around the corner beforehand. I finally got to meet MsH's friend who is a fellow MSU grad (go bulldogs!). The pictures were great - one fave being MsH icing her head with a drink to try to alleviate her champagne-induced headache.

For the most part, the evening was drama free and ended as the bar closed, they nicely shooed us out the door, and the very nice JS gave me a ride back to my apartment complex. Having stood up and socialized for the better part of the evening, my foot was super-sore and really appreciated the painless journey home.

It's been a fabulous birthday, and the festivities are just beginning... I'm looking forward to dinner with my girlfriends on Friday, the Wine Festival on Saturday, and who knows what else lies in store!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

weekend review: taking it to the east side

Ever have a weekend that might have been too good? One you can't quite put all down in a post with many details you outright shouldn't? A trip from which you just have no desire whatsoever to return to reality? Where you'd like to just have conveniently lost that return Amtrak ticket somewhere on the subway platform? Oh so tempting... yeah, you get my point here...

So I was thankful that my last minute planning at least was as early as morning of, as I waited in the huge snaking line coiled around Union Station. I was trying to get something to eat when I noticed the mob of people and decided to nix that. Managed to miss priority boarding - man, gimp benefit definitely foregone there. Oh well. Trip up was uneventful though, thankfully. I'd texted Tam (to make sure I had a place to stay) as well as Bama to see if he was up for an East Village meet-up as we'd discussed at the reunion a few weeks back. Specific details? All TBD.

I did quickly learn what I do prefer about DC's subway system over NYC's -- the beautiful and plentiful escalators. A NYC staple? Not so much. I did make friends with some nice fellow passengers, one a hippie who helped by carrying the back portion of the suitcase and another who just grabbed my suitcase and took it up to the top of the stairs (and, thankfully, did not keep on running clear on out!).

The plan was low-key. By the time I made it to Tam's it was close to 11:30. We sat for a bit and chatted. Around midnight, a text came in from Bama (who went to UA and I'll go with Bam here for the sake of simplicity) to see what was up. Tam and I had talked about hitting a nearby bar, low-key, so that was the plan. We wandered over to Sidewalk, which was pretty quiet when we got there. Before too long, Bam was there with his friend. From there, we headed to Bam's where we ended up watching a couple of episodes of Flight of the Conchords (the magical bling bling...). Amusing - how many new shows I have missed. Somehow, the low-key evening managed to close out closer to 6AM. But then again, if history is any sort of indication, no surprises there.

Saturday Tam and I hit 7A again for brunch and shopped in SoHo. I found some comfy flats that weren't too too granny-esque and we ended up doing dinner at Brick Lane Curry House. We felt very guilty when the server proudly brought out rice pudding along with the desserts we actually ordered. We got it to go hoping to find someone on the street to give it to. Sadly, I think it's still chillin' in Tam's fridge.

After some power napping, we headed over to try another karaoke spot recommended by Bam, Planet Rose. The decor and set up was perfect for karaoke. Loved the big plush zebra print couches. And the workers were much more personable than those we'd found at Sing, Sing during my last East Village excursion. There was a birthday party there which made the place more crowded and meant there was random candy strewn all about the place. Interesting. Tam did Amy Winehouse, I attempted a little Joss Stone, and Bam stayed out even though tired to bring down the house with some Lisa Loeb - too funny.

Sunday we mixed up our brunching options, branching out to check-out Essex. Tip would be to opt for reservations (Tam and I weren't aware here). From there, we were off to Coney Island. I'd never been and wanted to check it out before some things began to close. The Cyclone at Astroland seriously scared me - and I love roller coasters and they don't usually freak me out. This one? Exception. The aquarium wasn't half-bad, especially the sea lion show.

To amuse ourselves, we opted to check out the sideshow. It was a riot. Sword swallowing... a contortionist... guy hammering nail into his head... wolf man... man swallowing fire... and, of course the favorite - Serpentina. Her act was a semi-suggestive dance with a 15 foot white python, a dance which was heavily enjoyed by the audience member who appeared to have made mannnny a trip to the Freak Bar at the entrance. At any moment possible, he would let loose with a loud "Serpintiiiiiina!". At first it was a tad obnoxious, but it became increasingly amusing as her act continued.

Sunday evening we had reservations at Balthazar, sister restaurant to Pastis. It was quite good - everything we had, from the bread to my main course to the dessert, was superb. The plan was to try to do something afterwards but after returning back to Tam's place, I was crashed out on the futon within no time.

With a 3pm train back, there wasn't much time to do anything on Monday. A quick brunch at Sidewalk, a brief adieu, and before I knew it, I found myself back on the platform at Penn Station, headed back out once more.

See, the funny thing about stepping out and letting loose of what you view as your true self is you sometimes find yourself with ultimately more of who you are in the end. So I'm glad I made the change to head up for the long weekend. All those parties I was planning on going to and opted out of? Apologies for missing, but what a weekend.

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