25 August 2010

And then I got beat by a three year old...

I think it's time to write about something completely, 100% positive, for a change.

That's right. No discussion of public transportation, or the foul smell that often accompanies that experience. No mention of long waits, inefficiency, or any of those things. Just a great moment from today.

I went for a run a little before dusk tonight. The timing of my exercise is all part of a masterful strategy to keep myself running. You see, I don't live in the best neighborhood, and have made an agreement that I won't be out gallivanting by myself at night (I have to say that this is something I typically try to avoid no matter where I live, but I digress). I have promised to take a taxi when I come back after the buses have stopped running and get all of my running in during the daylight hours. There have been some interesting 'new experiences' as a result of my new location (like the time two police cars drove in front of me down the trail I was running on to chase what we will call 'unidentified males who must be assumed to be alleged delinquents' into the forest--which I proceeded to continue to run around), but in addition to all of the adventure, the one thing that I really love is that I feel like I live in a neighborhood. There are tons of parks and they are almost always full with organized and semi-organized games, parents playing with their kids and families just hanging out. I really like that.

But in addition to that, the people are really friendly, and I have enjoyed my interactions with them. And tonight just adds to that experience.

So, as I mentioned, I was out for a mid-evening run (because if I run far enough that I have just enough time to get home before it is too dark, then I am forced to keep running), and had just turned at the half-way point. I was passing a popular bus stop and was relaxed by the number of people who were around (strength in numbers you know). I was checking out my surroundings--as any street-smart person would do, of course--and was puzzled by a sign that advertised that 'We Sell Mattresses'--which appeared to be in front of a random souvenir/things-that-no-one-needs-but-someone-will-pay-for shop, and I wasn't even really paying attention to this couple with their small daughter who were talking in front of the sign. As I looked forward after gawking into the junk store, I saw that the little girl had run away from her parents, and could hear them calling to her over the music streaming through my headphones.

It only took me about 2 seconds before I thought, "Is she trying to race me?" Well, I was about 20 minutes in to the run at this point and pretty set on my pace, so I didn't think about speeding up. And then about 10 ft later, it was confirmed. I had just gotten beat in a foot-race by a three year old.

She ran down the wide open platform area where the bus kiosk was located, and then when the side walk narrowed, she kind of awkwardly lunged across in what must have been the natural reflex to break the tape. Then she looked over her shoulder and just grinned up at me.

It was awesome.

I kept hoping that that little girl would have the same qualities she just demonstrated--fearlessness in front of foes with more advantages, determination, and competitiveness--when she is learning to read in 1st grade, learning to multiply in 5th grade, writing a five paragraph essay as a freshman, and applying to a selective college at the beginning of her senior year. If she is like the typical kid in the school district where she lives, then there are probably plenty of things in her life that are similar to racing a bigger, taller, older runner. But hopefully, she will win those races too.

And I ran the rest of the way home with a cheesy grin and lifted spirits. And I might have even run a little faster.

24 August 2010

Isn't it ironic...Don't you think? No, Alanis, it probably isn't

Inspired by a friend who recently referenced Ms. Morisette's best-known (to me) song, let's talk about irony real quick. (No, in case you were wondering, I don't think rain on your wedding day is ironic, neither is meeting the man of your dreams and then his beautiful wife. This is just called 'bad luck'. Google it Alanis. And thanks for ruining the collective understanding of the literary term. Forever.)

Every time I go to buy a planner/agenda/schedule (something that I didn't even use until I went to Oxford), it seems like the year is divided by whatever system you are not on. I mean, if you are in school, you always manage to find a really great one that is based on the yearly calendar (starts in January and ends in January), and its great that you get it half-price because nine months have already passed, but when you go to write down anything past December 31st, it really is no help.

Then, if you are really into New Year's Resolutions--say, it seems like when you go to pick up your new planner on January 2nd, the only ones around are based on the school year. Although, that actually turns out pretty well--you know your resolution isn't going to last past May anyway.

Is this ironic? No, it's probably more of the Alanis Morisette variety, but my definition is distorted as well. But I'll tell you what is ironic--that I am blogging about paper planners, which I am sure are replaced by many people with blackberries, iPads, and Google Calendars.

Isn't it ironic....

That trains are the most expensive when the majority of people ride them? I mean, don't business principles teach us that increased demand drives down prices? And now, YOU (DC Metro) are price gouging me during rush hour?! (You know it had been TOO long since I talked about this).

Ok, you're right. This isn't really that 'ironic'. And everything I just said was untrue--when you have a decreased supply (in this case space on a STINKY public transportation vehicle) as a result of increased demand, you can charge more...even if said space is really stinky. (Yes, I was checking my armpits all the way home today to make sure it wasn't me. By the end, I couldn't be sure. Me and the stink were one.)

I am racking my brain, but have just come to a realization. My life is not ironic. I take this as a challenge.

I'll be back.

16 August 2010

All I have done since my last post is eat...

Yes, I am back in one of those 'posting-funks'. Apologies for the irregularity of these messages. I have been hosting a few visitors--a friend from high school and my brother--and have been enjoying the opportunity to explore the city a bit more. But, the drawback is that any 'update the blog time' which I might have otherwise had has been spent watching tourists allow their children to swing from bar to bar in the metro, elbowing past tourists who stand right inside the metro door because they MUST hang onto that bar for dear life--thus blocking all of the remaining aisle standing space from the rest of us, and walking all over town while observing the overly large fannie packs (think a backpack of the groin region) and eavesdropping on entertaining conversations ("Yep. We should stop at the CVS on the way home and pick up some Cokes." Living it up in the big city.)

But when I haven't been doing those things, I have been having some fantastic culinary adventures. Just to tickle your tastebuds from afar and give you a few items to put on your food-to-do list (or your 'bucklet list' if you will--and if you are a certain relative of mine).

1. Good Stuff. Yes, that's the name of the restaurant. It's owned and operated by Spike, the former Top Chef contestant (yes, that is my favorite show). It is basically a classic burger and fries joint, but oh-so-much-better. If you have ever watched Top Chef and wondered "Would I like that?" The answer (in this case at least) is YES. I had been flipping through a Rachael Ray magazine about a year ago when I came across a Roasted Marshmallow Shake. Unfortunately, I never got around to trying it, and also, unfortunately, I didn't realize that the "Good Stuff Cookbook" from which it came was an actual place. Well, Saturday, I finally had the 'real thing'. And let's just say that it is probably good that I didn't try to make it myself, because it wouldn't have been as amazing. The fries were fresh cut and sprinkled with herbs with four different kinds of mayo sauces to dip in (yes, it was heaven.), and I am still thinking about the burger. (In other news, I am still trying to lose the weight that I most definitely gained in that hour. But, I would do it again. Every day. For the rest of my life.)

2. Unnamed-Ethiopian-Restaurant-on-U-Street

If you ever really want to find it, just go to Ben's Chili Bowl (apparently Barak Obama's favorite joint--at least that is what the 700 tourists lined up outside have been told). Once you get sick of the line at Ben's, just look across the street for the nearly empty restaurant that might have even lost power for the night (yes, that is a true story). Head on over, and enjoy being seated right by the front window. It is like being the mannequins at a department store. As you eat with your hands, you can be the selling point for others to come in and dig in to Ethiopian for the first time as well. As far as food goes, no utencils are required--that is what the "nerf-football" (as my brother has dubbed it) brown tortilla-like (but not really like) substance is for. Just wad that up and break into some egg yolk, meat of your choice, fresh veggies, and 'cottage cheese' (not like any cottage cheese I have ever had, but good all the same).

3. Jaleo--owned and operated by a judge on Top Chef--aka, he could have judged Spike (from Good Stuff)--enough said.

Pretty yummy Spanish tapas located right around the corner from the International Spy Museum. So after you work up an appetite after pretending to be Jack Bauer in Operation Spy--a terrific little simulation for young and old alike--you can get some bueno food. (Take that Spanglish). It is perfect for those who want to watch their intake. They will charge you entree prices for bite-sized dishes. It's like 100 calorie packs at a restaurant--buy yourself some self-control. The only difference is that instead of what appear to be freeze-dried oreo cookies that you get in your handy snack packs, you can get some legit flavors. My favorite was the greenbeans served well-seasoned with mango and ham. I'm serious. It was real good.

04 August 2010

Randoms: For those moments when there just aren't words...

Yesterday, a co-passenger on the blessed DC Public bus that I was riding on hawked a lugie. Twice. Just to demonstrate how hard of a hawker he truly was, I was sitting in the front of the bus and he (I assume it was a he; it sounded like a he-hawker) was in the back. In other news, I had my headphones in and the volume up--all the way. I almost gagged when I heard it. I don't even want to think about what happend post-hawk (ergo propter hoc--that's for you Advanced Comp students everywhere). Let's just say I was thankful to be out of 'spit-shot' even if I wasn't out of earshot.

While we are talking about buses, it took me 8 hours to get home from Chicago (I flew. I know some of you were thinking that I might have driven--or run--in that time. Yeah, either option would have had to be really fast, but 8 hours?!). Just to put this all in context, it took my parents 9 hours to drive the rest of the way to Independence. I will no longer list 'convenient' under the list of things that public transportation is. Cheap? yes. Eventful? always. Smelly? Usually. Fast? I suppose all things are relative. Reliable? You don't want to see me when I get angry. Let's change the subject.

In other news, the 86 and 82 do not take the same route as the 81 and 83. Sure, it may seem like a good idea to get on them and 'see where they go' because they are sitting at the bus kiosk and you are impatient and don't want to wait. But don't do it. All you are going to get is:
  1. Lost
  2. Sweaty
  3. And a long walk home

Just to throw in a little British reference for you, you may remember that I was quite frustrated initially--and throughout the year--with the inefficiences of the banking system. Tomorrow, I have to try to figure out how to transfer money to an RBS account (from a random bank that I have to figure out how to get to via the bus) in order to pay a bill that is due on Friday. Sound like a recipe for adventure/disaster? I think so.

If you have any ideas about meals that can be prepared with a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a sharp knife, please send them my way. I can already tell that I am going to get tired of cereal, sandwiches, and salads (and Lean Pockets--I don't know what I was thinking) real quickly. Maybe I'll get tired of eating too? Or not.

01 August 2010


Hey, Mastercard. I don't buy this fun-(or-whatever-you-want-to-fill-in-the-blank-with-here)-is-priceless bit.

I can tell you exactly how much fun costs--at least in the world of my mother.

A pack of 12 legal pads costs $5.79 (according to Office Depot). A pack of twelve COLORED legal pads will run you $20.99. The colored legal pads are 'fun'. So, in this case, fun costs $15.20, or $2.53 per pad.

If you are in the market for sports bras (I have a friend, ok!), that colored undergarment will run you about seven bucks more than a dull grey one. Don't try to argue that no one will ever see it. That overlooks how much fun you will have every time you see it in your drawer or put it on in the morning. Fun costs $7.

Here are a few other things that are 'fun'.

  • Bright colored tshirts (ok, some of you may be picking up a trend here...)
  • A purple cell phone (nevermind whether it has the features you want)
  • Eating at new restaurants
None of these are to be confused with items that are on the 'Bucket List'. Those things are like a euphoric level of fun. But that is a-whole-nother can of worms. And the subject of a future blog post I am sure.

**Permission was secured before poking fun of my mom's 'fun'.

Fashion and National security

As if the conspiracy and hypocrisy of the skinny jean were not strong enough already, I have anecdotal proof that other industries are in cahoots with the 'skinny movement'.

A few weeks before I left Oxford, I found these great new pants. Let's just say that MC Hammer would love them and that I could probably still fit in these pants if I gained 50 pounds. They are fashionable sweat pants (well, I suppose the 'fashionability' of these pants is up for debate). Due to the fact that I love sweatpants but have finally been shamed into not wearing them in public (at least not ALL the time), these updated/European-style Hammer pants were a glorious discovery. I love them. And I wear them. A lot.

They are especially great for travelling. You can avoid that, 'I am a complete slob in my workout clothes' look that I achieved faithfully for years, while still maintaining the needed comfort for international and domestic flights alike. So, every time I have flown for the last 2 months, I have worn these pants. And almost every time I have flown, I have been patted down.

Coincidence? I think not.

You see, the first time, I got the full-body pat. I thought that I was just being randomly checked, or that I had somehow attracted suspicion. But then it happened three more times. And on those subsequent times, they only patted me down from the waist down. And then on the last time, after patting down the girl in front of me (who was wearing gaucho pants), the woman said 'I am going to have to check you too'. It only took me about 5 seconds to figure out what me and the girl in front of me had in common--we were not wearing skinny jeans.

So now, in addition by a fashion industry that pedals increasing snug-fitting clothing, airport security has decided that loose-fitting clothing also poses a potential national security risk. Now that sounds like a conspiracy if I have ever heard one. Next thing you know, you are going to hear about the 'skinny special interests' who have been lobbying for tighter airline regulation and soon will seek to outlaw any clothing that does not appear to have been spray-painted on. I know you think it is crazy, but just wait.

The clothes will get tighter, MC Hammer and his fashion legacy will be forgotten, and those of us who cling (only metaphorically of course) to our comfortable clothing that allows us to breathe normally will only stand out more and more. The day is coming my friend.