Sunday, January 29, 2017

Answer the Call

It's been a rough week, personal-life wise, but the cherry on top of this s**t sundae has been what is happening in our country right now. I don't even recognize the things that are coming out the White House, I keep waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out and say this whole thing was an elaborate prank. But it's not. It's a nightmare that we continue to live out.

My rage hit a high point in church today. When my pastor, who wasn't preaching this week, rose her voice in her pastoral prayer to the point that I wondered if it could be heard 8 blocks away at the White House. When the Bible spelled out exactly what we were supposed to be doing as God's children. When I realized that a beloved song was never more relevant than now.

I struggle with being a Christian and being lumped in a group that includes people who will pound their chests about the importance of an unborn child, and turn their backs on refugees. Turn their back on the people who this very country was founded on the backs of. 

For now, I'll strive to follow these rules. There but for the grace of God I go.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Decade Friends

I got an email from Shutterfly today, the first time I've ever gotten one like this. It was basically their version of Facebook's "On This Day", they showed me photos with the timestamp of ELEVEN years ago and asked me to log in and view them.

So I did. There were about five photos from sorority Bid Day my junior year. I logged in expecting to see photos of long-lost friends, people I'd forgotten about, to be reminded of when I used to be closer to some people.

Instead, I found myself face-to-face with friends that are still a regular part of my life. A guy friend lives here in DC and I see him regularly (and am going on a cruise with him tomorrow), two of the other friends I have seen in the past month over the holidays, one I'm visiting next week, and another I saw this fall.

I was so caught off guard by this. At the end of college, I knew things would never be the same with friendships, that we would all lose touch and photos like these would remind me how I used to be close to these great people and am not anymore.

And that's just not the case. I'm not going to say that we all stayed just as close over the past ten years. Some of us have lost touch and then reconnected. Some of us went from living in the same city post-college, and having regular happy hours and brunches, to living across the country from each other. Still, I was in three of these people's weddings, and actually still see them as frequently as we can.

So, I guess this goes to show, never underestimate the strength of a friendship and it's staying power. And only be friends with good people :-)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Things I'm Liking

A quick round-up of things that I'm liking this chilly winter Thursday (NPR kindly told me it was 30 degrees in NW DC on my way to work, maybe it's the Texan-turned-East Coaster in me, but I didn't think it was THAT cold)

Catching up on my programs: After the election, I kind of dove head-first into "pop culture comfort food" and only watched Gilmore Girls (also in prep for the revival--have I talked about that yet?) and re-read books I already knew I loved. I put some shows on the back-burner, but have recently picked them back up again. I finished season 3 of The Americans (and when will season 4 be On Demand, FX?!?!), am continuing to watch The Crown (I think I have two episodes left), and have started Six Feet Under again (did I mention I was watching this show? It's going to be slow-going, I can really only watch one episode at a time because death makes me sad, but it's SO GOOD). 

These gloves: Living in a place with Real Winter means I have learned a LOT about winter accessories and what cuts it. What doesn't? $5 gloves and hats from Target and Old Navy. Talk to my frozen fingers and ears about those. What does? Items from well-known and established brands. These gloves are Isotoner, fleece-lined (the minute I put them on I said "OOOOOO") and perfect for when you need your hands to stay warm, but still access your phone and use your fingers (love me a good mitten-hybrid). 

Downton Abbey: Thanks to a local PBS station running a DA marathon ALL WEEKEND LONG last weekend, I may have had a quieter weekend than planned. I was pet-sitting for a friend, and it was cold outside, so I chose to lie on the couch with her puppy and watch DA for many hours. And, man, you forget some of the earlier seasons and the problems they faced. A friend was over during the Spanish Flu episode of season 2 and truly horrified at what was happening on the screen (it got real in that episode, y'all). But gah, I think I will always love revisiting The Crawleys and that amazing house. 

Fab Fit Fun: Akin to Birchbox, this company sends you a box of goodies quarterly--a mix of beauty supplies, accessories, fun things (I got a to-go coffee mug and some adult coloring books in my box). The cool thing (to me) is that you get full-sized versions of things. Full bottles of beauty products, and real-world sized things (my blanket scarf I got from them is practically a blanket). And they're from real brands--Modcloth, Zoya nail polish, etc. So for $40 every three months, I get a box of treats. Given that I likely spend that much on useless CVS purchases in ONE month, I'm hoping this will curb those expenditures and also give me something to look forward to (want to try it out? Here's my referral link). Given my disaster with Stitch Fix (not sure I ever shared about that . . . ), I was skeptical, but my first box was a winner, so I'm looking forward to what's next. 

And that's it folks. Stay warm. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Not So Sweet, '16

2016 is not a year that I want to relive. When I think about all the things that happened earlier in the year, it feels so long ago. Between celebrity deaths (Yes, I cried on Christmas while watching Love, Actually because Alan Rickman died) and the election, I felt like there wasn't an escape from any of the bad news.

A recap of 2016 for me, personally:

A look at my 2016 resolutions, originally found here.

--Run 400 miles (roughly 8 a week). If I manage a half-marathon, this should take care of itself, but still, I want to keep running regularly. 
Well, getting pneumonia in January really tanked this goal. I took time off from the gym in general, and then had to start back slowly. Even with running my half-marathon and all the training, I think I only hit about 250 miles. 

--Take two classes. I took ballroom dance this fall and really liked it. I may take another dance class, but also want to look into learning French. 
Whelp, this also didn't happen. French wasn't taught this fall, and finding classes that work with my schedule proved difficult. 

--Learn to meditate (I have an app that will teach me, I just need to remember to do it)
I tried this off and on. I actually have employed some meditation habits, I should actually finish the app's 10-day meditation guide.

--Take yoga once a weekHuzzah! A resolution I kept. I do yoga about 3-4 times a month (hot yoga mainly) and am really liking it. I've gotten to the point where I want to actually do some more advanced poses. It helps that the studio I go to is a 7 minute walk from my house. 

--FINALLY make photobooks for all the photos I've taken since college *gulp*
Another resolution I've kept! I actually went back to photos from college and made books for sophomore and junior year, as well as some of the years leading up to now. Moving forward I think I'm going to utilize Chatbooks to make a photo book of my instagram each year. 

Book: Station Eleven and Eligible
Movie: Brooklyn
Song: "Closer" The Chainsmokers
TV Shows: Game of Thrones/The Crown/Younger
Meal: Rose's Luxury birthday dinner in August

Other notable things this year:
Ran my fifth half marathon
Attended one wedding
Officially joined my church in DC
Celebrated the births of kiddos to four close friends
Went to the Kennedy Center five times
Went to Vegas and didn't play blackjack
Completed another Whole30
Went to the ER (pneumonia in January)

So, 2016, it's been real. 2017, low bar but don't disappoint. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Catch-Up

I see that I'm doing a great job of completing this roughly every quarter, so huzzah!

What I'm drinking
I've officially moved in to dark beer season. So bring on all the porters! I've also been attempting to find an egg nog that I like, that isn't heavy on the nutmeg. Do share if you know of one. 

What I'm reminiscing about
My first half marathon. Facebook's "on this day" has been heavy with the reminders of it, and the 2016 race occurred last weekend in my hometown, and I enjoyed watching lots of friends finish it. I decided to run the race a year earlier when I was blocked from going to the gym thanks to road closures for the race. I had just started running on the trail that ran behind my apartment. I thought "hey, I could do this". Got running shoes for Christmas that year and voila, a year later was wearing a medal (let's not talk about the two injuries that popped up over that year). It's what started my love of running and half marathons. 

What I'm Loving
My Instant Pot. Yes, I'm posting about a kitchen appliance. But I bought this popular pressure cooker in a Black Friday sale and was honestly intimidated to use it until this weekend. Then I read all through the manual and cooked two frozen chicken breasts in ten minutes and my mind. Was. Blown. Last night I picked up some pork shoulder at Whole Foods, popped it in the Instant Pot with some stock, balsamic vinegar, garlic, carrots, and parsnips. An hour later, moist (sorry) falling-off-the fork shredded pork. Normally that would take eight hours or so in the crock pot. I'm obsessed.

What I've been up to
Planning travel for 2017. At this point, I'll be a third of the way to A-List on Southwest by the end of February. Between trips for weddings, bachelorette parties, a cruise in January, and visiting friends and family, I just might hit this in 2017. I had it in 2012 and it's great for frequent Southwest flyers. 

What I'm Excited About
Going home for the holidays. I'll be back in the Lone Star State for eight days, and honestly can't wait. There's something to be said for the familiarity of home--knowing where everything is and just cruising on autopilot. Plus seeing friends, family, and of course, the family dog. I've also rented what will likely be a sweet SUV--when in Rome, right?

What I'm Dreading
Honestly, it's been a constant state of dread since November 9. My stomach gets all knotty when I think too much about the next administration. So can we say I'm dreading the next four years (or at least two years, until hopefully Congress flips)

What I'm Watching
Lord. All the things:
--Westworld (have two episodes to go! It's a little weird)
--The Americans (stuck in the middle of season 3 and I can't get started again. I mean, I will, but it feels like a slog right now, and a little too close to home with current events)
--The Crown--it's no Downton Abbey, but I'm enjoying it all the same.
--Six Feet Under (yes, this show is 15 years old. I can only watch one episode at a time because it is kind of depressing, what with a death occurring every episode, but it's really making me appreciate funeral directors and the services they provide. Also, it's basically about a family running a business)
--Jane the Virgin--it's on winter hiatus at the moment, but pick it up if you haven't!
--Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: I gave up on this show at the beginning of the season when a main character left the show, but picked it back up a few weeks ago.
--Younger--the hour-long season finale is tomorrow night and I CANNOT WAIT. #TeamCharles

What I'm Listening to
My Spotify Christmas station, which is chock full of my Christmas favorites. And the Gilmore Guys recaps of the "Year in the Life" episodes. Y'all. I have THOUGHTS about the revival. But not sure they're worth a whole post/I can organize them into something that makes sense. TBD.

What I'm Reading
"Talking Just as Fast as I Can" by Lauren Graham. I saw her speak last week here in DC (sold-out crowd of 99.7% women) and we all got signed copies of her book. If you're super jealous of me seeing her speak, read the book--as a lot of what she talked about is in the book. It's a quick read, and very conversational. I feel like she and I would be friends. 

What I'm doing this weekend
All the holiday get-togethers. Two holiday brunches and other assorted merriment. This is also a weekend when the city seems to empty out and every bar, restaurant, and tourist attraction is empty. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Randoms

(Sidenote: I had and still have lots of emotions and feelins' about the election. Most of what I would say has already been said, and in person/via text/via phone/via GIF exchanges with my nearest and dearest. Some feelings and thoughts may sneak in here occasionally, but for the most part, I don't plan on addressing it in a public place. Now, back to a regularly scheduled programming).

I've had so many random thoughts that I've thought I need to share. so here's a round-up post of them:

1. There's a part of my commute where people treat a stop sign as a yield sign. A lane merges from a curve onto a parkway (where cars are going approx. 45 mph if the light ahead isn't red). The safest way for these cars to enter is to WAIT for a break in traffic or when the light is red, but they often pause oh-so-briefly at the stop sign and try to force their way in. Yesterday, I slowed down and waved a car in. And y'all, I felt like I deserved a MF-ing MEDAL for that. #littlethings

2. Turns out I hadn't been to Target since AUGUST (what?!?!). I popped in yesterday with a strict list (that I didn't stray from!). I feel like the things I buy are NEVER on the Cartwheel app, but this time, almost everything was, and I saved $5 (Spent $35 total--the cheapest trip to the Tarj EVER). I felt like I was winning all the things.

3. The Joe Biden-Obama memes are everything to me right now. I've always loved Uncle Joe (and his wife, Sassy Jill--my nickname for her, I like to think we're friends). These memes make me laugh and cry at the same time.

4. I haven't really watched much TV over the past few weeks, I've been listening to podcasts and reading. As a result, I'm woefully behind on what shows the kids are watching these days. I tried out a few new shows (This is Us, Designated Survivor, Speechless, The Good Place) and none were really for me. Anything out there I'm really missing out on?

5. Though, one show I have been watching is The Crown. I am impressed with people who can binge it, as each episode seems to cover so much that I need to take a break. I will say, I was gutted at the reaction of everyone to George VI's death (not a spoiler, he's Queen Elizabeth's dad. She starts the series as Princess Elizabeth, so you see it coming). It must be so weird to be alive and have a TV show made about your life.

6. Our office Thanksgiving was this week, and I have never made more friends at work than when I brought this pie and this red pepper dip. More people asked for the recipe for these and stopped me/emailed me etc. to tell me how much they liked both than anything I've ever made (and, if you look at the recipes, you'll see that they are not fancy, I'm almost embarrassed by the red pepper dip ingredients). I won first place in the dessert category! And, I got to leave work the day before with the farewell of "Bye, y'all, off to buy bourbon!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

The 2012 election came at a tumultuous time in my life. When I graduated from college in 2007, I'd always said I would move to DC within a few years. I loved this city and felt such a pull here. However, I got a great internship in Texas right after I graduated, which led to another internship where I was ultimately hired on full-time. The company was fantastic, I loved the work I was doing (I was that obnoxious friend who "loved her job"--my FIRST job, mind you). Then the recession hit, and we were all grateful to just have a job (and my company went through salary freezes and layoffs, so I felt doubly grateful to still have a spot).

At that point, it seemed crazy to upend my life and move across the country in such an era of uncertainty. I was too junior at my company to make a transfer to their DC office really seem valuable, and honestly the thought of moving probably scared me. I had wonderful friends in Dallas, family close by, and the dog I'd grown up with was 15/16 and still his delightful self. I started dating someone. Why would I leave?

My five-year college reunion occurred in October 2012. This made me literally screech to a halt. It had been FIVE years since college, and I wasn't living in DC? What was I doing? What happened to my "be there in few years" plan?

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't regret the time I spent in Texas over those five years (well, I may regret a few instances). I think that the happiness and contentment I felt during those five years helped distract me from the pull I felt towards DC.

So, around the time of my college reunion, I realized I was in a now-or-never situation. I wasn't getting any younger, but I also had very little baggage. I wasn't married, didn't have kids, didn't own a house, didn't even own a PET. So I started my job search in DC, talked to a few close friends who lived here about it, and took a tentative step into seeing if this new life I'd dreamed about was possible.

I remember waking up on election day in 2012, having early voted the week before. I dressed in red white and blue (and still have that outfit, ha!), stopped at 7-11 to buy coffee in an Obama cup, took a selfie in my car (oh to still have that photo, it's on a now defunct phone haha) and spent the whole day feeling very jittery. Feeling like this was not just a new presidency (even though the same president would win), but like it was a turning point for me. I'd taken enough steps to move to DC at this point that I was actually thinking about what it would look like.

And the rest, as they say, is history. So I take solace in knowing that while I'm viewing today's election with a lot of trepidation, none of it stems from my personal life. Let's do this, America.

(And now, one of my favorite West Wing scenes. Fun fact: this scene was supposed to have taken place at the library closest to me, but it shut down a few years ago to be rebuilt. And looked NOTHING like this haha)