Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

How can you not love Christmas?

It's just so much fun. Everything about it makes me so happy. The way the room looks with the Christmas tree light on. The way the air feels and smells. It's just different at Christmas time, you know?

Having the whole family back together is so great. And it happens less and less now. Obviously, I see my brother a fair amount because we both live in the DC area. And because we're both in the same area, my parents make it up our way a good bit since it's a reasonable drive. My sister, however, lives in south Florida for grad school. I am honestly having a hard time remembering the last time I saw her. It really might have been last Christmas. Well, she and her dog will be here tomorrow at the latest.

Every family has their own traditions and Christmas memories, and, obviously, I'm no different. I'm pretty sure I remember talking about this one, specifically, at some point over the past couple of weeks with someone. I think it's kind of funny.

I'm not sure when it started, but I remember it in the early- and mid-90s, after we moved to North Carolina. For reasons I'm not sure I'll ever understand, Kathy Lee Gifford recorded an album of Christmas music. Because of course she did. Well, my mom had the CD and loved it.

Whenever she made her Christmas cookies (for the WIN, by the way), she'd listen to the Kathy Lee Gifford CD. So many of my teenage Christmas memories take place with Kathy Lee Gifford singing "Gloooooooooooooooooria in excelsis Deo" in the background. Like you do.

But man those cookies are my JAM. I've already eaten way too many of the homemade chocolate chip cookies since I got home.

So! Since my dad's Jewish, we also celebrated Hanukkah. By celebrate, I clearly mean we just light our menorah. And since the exact dates of Hanukkah vary year to year, there were definitely years (like this year, P.S.) where we turn on our Christmas lights and then immediately light the menorah.

In fact, from my position on one of the more comfortable recliners on which I've ever sat, I can see a menorah ornament on our Christmas tree, which is also topped with a Star of David. Again, like you do.

Funny story. A few years ago, I wanted to buy my own menorah for my apartment. I was living in Raleigh at the time, and I know the south is not always known for its religious diversity. But I still felt reasonably comfortable that I would find a menorah someplace. I don't normally go to Wal-Mart. I generally find it to be a wasteland of humanity. This time, I figured its mass appeal would mean it would surely have a menorah and/or other Hanukkah things.

I walked out to the big holiday section they had outside. I didn't immediately find anything, so I asked the clerk.

"Excuse me, do you have any menorahs anywhere?"
"What's a menorah?"
"You know. It's what holds the candles you light during Hanukkah."
Well then. "Yes. Hanukkah. It's like Jewish Christmas."
"Ohhh. No we don't have any of that. You can check the candle section though."

Clearly, he missed the point. I humored him and went to the candle section. Predictably, I had no luck.

There was a Big Lots in the same parking lot as the Wal-Mart, so I walked over to that store to try my luck again. There was no sign of any Hanukkah things in the holiday sections, so I asked again.

"Hi. Yeah I'm looking for a menorah."
"You're looking for what?"
"A menorah. The thing that holds the candles for Hanukkah. Nine candles."
"Oh a candle holder. Those are over here. See? This one holds nine candles."
"Noooo that's not exactly what I meant. I don't need just ANY candle holder that holds nine candles. A menorah is a very specific item."

I went to Harris Teeter because I know they have a a reasonable selection of kosher foods and other Jewish items. When the clerk pointed me to the candle section, I just walked out. I did eventually find one at Bed Bath and Beyond, so it was, eventually, a successful effort. So yeah. That happened.

Anyway. Back to Christmas! My favorite Christmas tradition, by far, is our yearly Christmas Eve viewing of "The Muppet Christmas Carol."

We moved to North Carolina in October of 1993. So the Christmas of 1993 was going to be our first without all of our extended family involved. I was 11 years old, and we'd just gotten the movie. Christmas Eve rolled around, and I figured, hey why not. Who doesn't love the Muppets, right? Let's see what the movie is about.

Well. It was awesome. It's still awesome, of course. And this will be the 19th year we've watched this movie on Christmas Eve. I can't wait.

Every December for the past few years, once it gets to be two weeks or so before Christmas, I'll post the first line of the lyrics from the opening song on Facebook. My brother and sister will inevitably reply with the next lines.

And now, through the miracle of social media, some of my friends have discovered our mutual love for the movie, and they will join in as well. So good.

So yeah, I really can't wait to watch this movie. And I know. I'm 29 years old, but I don't care. I've come home and spent Christmas with my family every year so far, and I really don't anticipate that changing anytime soon. I love being home for Christmas.

To everyone who stops by this page to read when I write, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope all of you get to be where you want to be this Christmas. And a very, very happy holidays to you and your loved ones.

"It's in the singing of a street corner choir,
it's going home and getting warm by the fire.
It's true wherever you find love,
it feels like Chriiiistmaaas!"

Back next week with my week-long year-in-review. I really can't wait to write those posts. Anyway. Later, kids!


Friday, December 16, 2011

And Then What Happened: Boston Part 2

If you missed part 1 of the Boston story, here's where to find it. Really, this photo does more to explain the weekend than anything I could say. It was taken on Sunday afternoon, on our way back from watching football downtown with Katie, Lindsey and my cousin Justine. It took MAYBE 30 seconds for us both to fall asleep.

Anyway. I'm sure I've talked about this before, but I've never in my life had a hangover. I've never gotten sick from drinking too much. I've definitely had enough to warrant those situations, but for whatever reason, it hasn't ever happened. My working theory is that I'm a superhero of some kind with the lamest super powers ever. But I digress.

Now I'm not sure exactly what a hangover feels like. I've woken up and not felt great -- a little bit of a sour stomach sometimes, maybe a slight headache. But it's never been anything I couldn't just wake up and power through.

Well, I woke up on Saturday morning with the biggest headache I'd ever had after drinking. I blame the scorpion bowls. I had some water and took a shower, and I was good after I had some food. I don't know if that counts as a hangover or not, but it's definitely the closest I've ever come. I still say no.

Langdon and I were up around 7:45 or 8 a.m. to head to the airport to pick up J. Mike. Let me take a second to plug J. Mike's blog, where he posted his own story about Boston. Very cool. When J. Mike got in the car, we started recounting some of our old Technician road trip stories. J. Mike and I talked about our infamous trip to cover the Miami game in 2007 where we realized we did not have our press passes two and a half hours in the trip and turned around. "BG, turn around, man. I don't have the press passes." Oy haha.

Then Langdon and J. Mike told a story about a road trip to Winston-Salem to cover a Wake Forest game. The game was long over, and the interviews were done. Langdon and J. Mike exited the field house with the new writer they'd taken along with them, only to be semi-accosted by a homeless man who screamed, for no apparent reason, "And then what happened!" As Langdon told the story, he broke into a dead run as soon as the man yelled. J. Mike followed along quickly enough, leaving the young writer alone. Like you do. Naturally, they tried to spin it into a life lesson for the poor kid in the car.

So there you go. I did what I do, and I ran the saying into the ground all weekend. And then what happened.

We'd made plans to meet Carnell, Katie and Lindsey at this bar near BC's football stadium. There's not a whole lot of room to tailgate for games there, so people often go to bars. This particular bar -- City Bar, I believe it was called -- is where the N.C. State Boston alumni chapter meets before games. Carnell was nowhere to be found until the second quarter of the football game. The girls were very slow to arrive at the bar as a result of Friday night.

Langdon, J. Mike and I had a few drinks and some food and met up with a bunch more of the DC folks who made the trip. We made our way to the stadium, and the game was terrible from the start haha. We were down 7-0 before we even found our seats. What can you do. We laid an egg in the game and lost 14-10. Obviously, we now know how the regular season ends, so it's all good.

That game was the first time I'd really heard the song "Shipping Up to Boston." I documented my thoughts on that last week. I was getting fired up, and they weren't even playing it for me.

So there's not a whole lot to say about the game. After the game, however, Langdon, J. Mike and I hopped on the T to get back downtown to meet Langdon's roommate and his girlfriend for some drinks. We sat down, and I could already tell I was only minutes from sleep. But Langdon saw this guy in a Boston Transit uniform, drinking something out of a Gatorade bottle. Langdon, being Langdon, asked him what kind of Gatorade it was. "My own special blend," he said. (I'm sure it is, I add parenthetically.)

The man, whose name I cannot recall nor do I know if we ever knew, came and sat down near us to share his life story. All I remember is he "fackin' hates loyahz," and he and his ex-wife have a standing appointment in court seemingly daily.

I passed out not long after, but Langdon kept up a conversation the entire ride downtown. And then what happened. Indeed.

The combination of Friday night and a long day on Saturday left all of us pretty drained. We headed back to Langdon's apartment after a few drinks at an Irish pub downtown. When we got back, his roommate and roommate's girlfriend cooked homemade enchiladas for us all. LEGIT. So very good. The roommate made us some kick-ass drinks, too, but of course I don't remember what they were. If Langdon reads this, maybe he can chime in on that. I'd love to know what that drink was. Some kind of ginger beer mixture. For the win.

I tried incredibly unsuccessfully to make plans with Katie and Lindsey. They were, understandably, exhausted and not sure they were going to make it out. Well we were having none of that. So we hit the T and headed downtown. We ended up a bar called Hurricane O'Reillys. Carnell found us while we waited outside, and we headed in. It was pretty much redonk. J. Mike was so excited to be out with us, he joyfully bought all our drinks that night (THANKS BUDDY). Naturally, we drank, I think, four High Life tallboys each. Like you do. Keepin' it classy.

Well, you know how I roll. I got a couple of drinks in me, and it was time to dance. Listen. My arms get involved when I dance. Out to my sides. Above my head. I'm just grooving, man. I can't help myself. The problem was this: I've never seen a more crowded dance floor in my life. My arms were stuck to my sides because I simply couldn't move them.

Carnell peaced out to meet up with some other people he was in town with, so we worked our way over to a side bar and kind of made our own dance floor for a bit. J. Mike got really excited and bought us shots of straight Jager. I don't often take shots of straight liquor. The occasional shot of Jameson this summer, I suppose, but it's not common.

Here's how you know I had a good time. I was checking my Twitter feed after the weekend, and I found the following tweet, timestamped at 1:34 a.m. while we were out Saturday night: "Aww sookie sookie now."

Clearly, I was feeling it.

Langdon and I were finally able to get up with Katie and Lindsey, who DID make it out Saturday night. Katie sent us a picture of the wallpaper where they were and told us to find them and have fun with the scavenger hunt. Of course. As we were getting ready to leave, this guy walked by Langdon, J. Mike and I and LITERALLY showed his teeth to Langdon. What in the world. It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen.

I'm sure Katie and Lindsey have figured this out by now, but there's no chance we could have found them if Katie hadn't checked in at the restaurant/bar on Facebook. I saw the check-in, googled the name and we were on our way.

I left my sister a drunk voicemail. Langdon and J. Mike left Nick and drunk voicemail that went straight to his voicemail hall of fame. Like you do.

So we were walking down to street toward the restaurant where Katie and Lindsey were with some other friends of theirs when these two girls jumped out of an alley, grabbed me by the arms, pulled me into the alley and threw me against the wall.

In my head, I'm thinking, "YEEAAH BUDDY. Best night of my life! Pre-emptively!" I've seen this movie; I know how it ends. One girl was so drunk, all she could do was lean against me. The other girl said to me, in a reasonably thick Boston accent (which is surprisingly endearing on young, cute girls and not middle-aged drunk men), "Please help us. This guy has been following us for, like, five blocks now, and he's really scaring us. You look like you're really cool, so can you pretend to be our friend so maybe he'll leave us alone?"

I'm thinking, well you're the ones that have me pinned against a wall in an alley. Do I need some help? But I said, sure why not. Apparently I look much more intimidating than I feel because that was the second time in a couple of months I was asked to scare someone off.

What the hell do you do in that situation? I looked over at the guy as menacingly as I can (read: not very), and the girls started talking really loudly, "Oh my god, Chris, thank GOD we found you! We've been looking for you for so long!" I continued looking at the guy menacingly, and he seemed to get the point and wandered off.

The girls kissed me and ran off down the street, thanking me profusely. So. That happened haha.

Langdon and J. Mike watched the whole situation unfold and were totally engrossed in what I told them about it. It was so bizarre. I'll tell you what, though. Shit like that DOES NOT happen to fat dudes. It just don't! So once again, hooray losing more than 40 pounds! haha

We finally found the restaurant after some googling and wandering. Katie and Lindsey were extremely surprised we found them. Langdon and I just looked at each other, and we were like, c'mon. Of course we did. Lulz. J. Mike was barely coherent at this point, which was awesome because he began to tweet complete and total gibberish the entire time we were there.

Unfortunately for the world, he went back and deleted it the next morning. I wish I had some examples.

Around 2 or 2:30 a.m., we decided it was time to head back. Now, remember the cab situation I faced the night before? Yeah. Again. Not only was it hard to get the cab drivers even to stop, but when they DID stop and heard where we were going, they often drove off immediately.

So the three of us fanned out to try to get a cab. Langdon and I were on opposite sides of this main street, trying to flag them down. J. Mike, however. Oh lord.

J. Mike took to standing ON the center line in the street, punching cabs as they drove by. It didn't seem like a sustainable situation, but wow do I wish I'd taken a picture of it.

Eventually, we came up with a new strategy. Langdon flagged down the cabs and distracted the driver while I jumped in the backseat and refused to move. Once I got in the backseat, they hopped in too, and we were just like, dude. We've got cash. We're not moving. Drive us home, you know? Shit.

I fell asleep in the cab immediately. Like you do. Like I do, anyway. We got back, paid the cab and headed upstairs. I crashed on the couch so fast I didn't even have time to change clothes.

Sunday morning was a bit rough for J. Mike haha. We finally got him out of bed around noon so we could head downtown to watch football with Lindsey and Katie. And my cousin Justine! Justine lives in Boston, and we tried unsuccessfully to coordinate hanging out Friday and Saturday, but Sunday there was no excuse.

I hadn't seen her since the wedding back in September 2009 that I've talked about so much. Her brother is the one who got married. But she came and hung out with us, and she exhibited what appears to be a BG-family personality trademark: infectious enthusiasm and energy. Good times.

She definitely helped rally us because we were dragging from two solid days of nonsense and staying out until 4 a.m.

Alas, my flight was that night, so we had to head back. The photo up top is from this point in the story. We fell asleep on the T in no time. J. Mike was too nervous to fall asleep, but you could tell Langdon and I are seasoned subway travelers. We fell asleep and would wake up at each of the stations as we approached the station we needed -- which is exactly how I roll on the DC metro.

Made it to the airport and headed back to DC. As we were exiting the plane at National, Katie gave us the most appropriate quote for the entire week: "It's kind of weird being sober."

Indeed it was.

Final verdict: Boston was infinitely more awesome than I expected to be, and I would love to go back very, very soon so I can do actual nerdy touristy things.

Boston, well done!

As always, thank you so, so much for reading and for telling me you enjoy the stories. I get such a huge kick out of knowing people actually like reading my BS.

It should be another insane weekend, again, starting tonight with a party with some work friends, continuing on Saturday night with a holiday-themed bar crawl downtown and then finishing up on Sunday with a date! Doin' the bull dance. Feelin' the flow. Let's GO. Hopefully there will be some blog-appropriate stories! Have a great weekend, kids.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And Then What Happened: Boston Part 1

Oh boy is this post long overdue. For a few reasons, actually.

First, I went to Boston a month ago. Ha. Second, I've been trying to write this since Sunday night, but I keep falling asleep while trying to write. Like, falling asleep on the couch with the computer in my lap. But all night. Like you do. It is now Tuesday night, and I will do anything to finish this tonight (Ed. Note: I did, and then forgot to post it before I left work. I am clearly still adjusting to writing at night.)


Back in August during the CAN softball tournament, one of my teammates suggested we all head up to Boston for the N.C. State/BC football game. She lives in New Hampshire, and she said it'd be fun if we all came up. What a great idea! I'd never been to Boston, but I also never thought I'd want to go. In case you don't know, I'm a Yankees fan, and I'm kind of irrational about how much I hate Boston. I just never wanted to go.

Well. The city of Boston is pretty awesome. I'm totally glad I went, and I'd actually like to go back sometime when I won't be spending an entire day at a football game. I'd like to do some touristy stuff, you know? You do.

So here we go!

Lucky for me, the game fell on Veterans Day weekend. Since I'd just started this job a few weeks earlier, I didn't have much time off accrued. But Veterans Day was a floating holiday! We get three floating holidays a year, and since I was working the last third of the year, I'd get to use one. So I was able to get off work on Friday to fly to Boston. I managed to get on the same flight as Lindsey and one of the Katies (the only one of the three who made the trip, so she'll just be Katie from here on out haha).

As I was walking onto the plane, I heard the gate attendant say the following to another passenger: "You better buckle up! It's pretty windy, so you're probably going to have a rough flight!"

Do what now.

I would not say I'm scared to fly. I really do rather enjoy flying places. It's just that I have a sort of heights...thing. I don't care for them. So yeah. Definitely not afraid to fly, but you know. Nerves. That's all. And hearing Flo the Gate Attendant cheerfully tell another passenger we were in for a rough flight -- c'mon now. Thankfully, the flight did not live up to her warning. It was totally fine.

So we landed and my old Technician buddy Langdon came to pick us up. He gets out of the car, and he said, "BG what is UP, my dude?" Katie and Lindsey were amused someone else from an entirely different group also called me BG.

Brief tangent: I'm not entirely sure how BG came to be my nickname. Well, OK. Obviously I do because it's my initials, but it stuck with my Raleigh friends, and then my DC friends began calling me BG, too, and I'm reasonably certain I never told either of them to call me that. It just naturally came up and stuck. I like it, so it's all good. Just kinda funny.

We dropped the girls at their hotel downtown, and Langdon and I headed for his apartment outside the city. Awesome, awesome apartment, and a pretty cool up-and-coming neighborhood. We grabbed some drinks with his roommate and his roommate's girlfriend at this really cool bar up the street. They don't sell food at the bar, so they allow two things: you can bring your own food in, and you can bring dogs in. Awesome.

Lindsey, Katie and I wanted a unique Boston experience for dinner. Langdon and his roommate recommended this place called Pizzeria Regina, near Boston's Little Italy. Well, I don't know if you've met me, but you don't have to convince me very hard to eat some pizza. And everyone we asked raved about Pizzeria Regina, calling it the best pizza in Boston.

After a couple of drinks with Langdon, he pointed me in the direction of the subway, and I worked my way downtown to meet the girls. The restaurant was going to be, like, a 15-minute walk from their hotel, so we decided to cab it. Pizzeria Regina looked legit from the outside. It's a pretty small place, so waiting outside is almost guaranteed. But they do it right, with heat lamps and benches outside. Very nice. We were a small party, so we didn't have to wait long.

Naturally, we ordered a couple of bottles of wine to get the night started right, as you can see in the photo. You know how we roll. We end up deciding on a margherita pizza with green peppers added. See the photo. It was redonk. Lindsey asked the waitress for some ranch for the pizza. In what I imagine to be true Boston style, the waitress looked right at her and said, "Oh we don't do ranch here. I'll bring you what we do have. It's better anyway."

Well then.

It was some kind of oil and garlic mixture. It was, of course, quite good. The pizza was amazing -- I can't say "best pizza in Boston" because it's the only pizza I had in Boston. But I will say I don't believe the claim to be ridiculous. At all. The walls were lined with pictures of famous people who'd eaten there and left their autographs, including a photo of our waitress with Danny DeVito. Lindsey and Katie took a picture of an autographed Leonardo DiCaprio photo on the wall, uploaded it to Facebook and tagged all three of us in it. Like you do.

So obviously with two bottles of wine, we'd built up a solid buzz already. We finished with dinner around 9ish and cabbed back to the girls' hotel. We had, like, half a bottle of wine we needed to polish off before we headed out for the night.

A few frantic phone calls between Langdon, my cousin Justine (who also lives in Boston), Carnell (who also made the trip to Boston) and one of the three of us eventually led to us settling on going to this place called Hong Kong. We were told it was a grimy place with fun drink specials where you can really dance.

I mean. Sign me up.

So we went to Hong Kong, and it was exactly as described (read: awesome). Check out the drink special. It's called a scorpion bowl. I'd never heard of these things before, but it's basically fruit juice, sugar and the cheapest brandy and liquor you can imagine. In a giant bowl. With four straws. Aaaand we drank two of them between the four of us (Katie, Lindsey, Carnell and me). And then the dancing started. And it was, predictably, incredible. Gah we had such a good time.

So the four of us were dancing in a circle when this girl came up behind me, grabbed me around the waist and started dancing with me. I mean. I'll allow it. She seemed...interested (to say the least haha). After a while, she looked at me and said, "You do not move. I'm not done with you. I have to go get a drink." Well OK. What's your name? Let's just say she shared a name with a recent ex-girlfriend of mine. Because of course she did. Lulz. No matter. She never reappeared after leaving.

The dancing and drinking continued, and we decided to leave around 2 a.m. The girls' hotel was close enough to walk to from Hong Kong. Langdon's apartment was decidedly not haha. Here's my least favorite thing about the city of Boston: their subway closes at midnight! What in the world!

It has to be collusion between the city and cab drivers, who are all assholes because they can be super selective. They know we all have to get a cab, so it's insanely competitive. I've never seen anything like it.

Obviously, I am not a cute girl, nor was I wearing revealing clothing, so it took me a solid HOUR to get a cab. An hour! I finally made it back to Langdon's around 3:30 a.m. He offered me a glass of wine, which I'm pretty sure I aggressively declined. Look, we needed to go to sleep. We had to wake up the next morning at 8 a.m. to pick up J. Mike from the airport!

And so we did.

Come back for part 2, which may or may not be the conclusion, depending on how much I write haha. Anyway, it will include such exciting details as the explanation for the title of these posts ("And then what happened?!"), our encounter with a (probably drunk) Boston transportation employee on the T and J. Mike attempting to fight cabs in the middle of the street, like you do.



Friday, December 9, 2011

That's my JAM

First and foremost, I'd like to get this out of the way:

This is pretty much my favorite picture on the Internet at the moment, and it currently serves as my official position and motto.

So, you know, there's that.

In other news, I'm writing this pretty late on a Thursday night, and I really can't see a way where I finish this before I fall asleep. Hell, I may fall asleep while writing. It wouldn't be the first time. (Ed. Note: I did. Fell asleep and forgot to post it.) So yeah. What a night. At least Elf was on TV.

Anyway. Enough of that. Here's what I wanted to do: I wanted to share some of the songs with which I'm currently having a love affair so you can either join me or mock me. Most of you will probably mock me, and, you know, I'll allow it.

So here you go. Mock away!

"A Better Time, A Better Place," by Streetlight Manifesto

I first heard this song back in July when I went to the Reel Big Fish/Streetlight Manifesto concert. Thankfully, I have a pretty prodigious talent for memorizing quotes, lines of songs, etc., very, very quickly. I'd never heard the song before that concert, so I didn't know the name of the song.

When I got home, I googled the phrases I'd memorized from the concert and found the song. I youtubed it and liked it immediately, but the obsession didn't start until probably Thanksgiving. Since then, I've been listening to it several times a day. Like you do. I really like pretty much every Streetlight Manifesto song I've heard, so this should come as no surprise. I just love the guy's style of singing.

"We Gotta Get Out of This Place," by The Animals

Dammit I love this song. It's so 60s, you know? I just love the whole sound -- the driving bass line, the simple drum beat, the way it builds slowly toward the chorus before exploding, the gritty, imperfect singing of Eric Burdon. So good.

But my favorite part? At the end of each phrase of the chorus before the melody repeats, the keyboard has a few pick-up notes before playing the main melody of the chorus again. I don't know why I love it so much, but I do. Great fucking song.

"Shipping Up to Boston," by Dropkick Murphys

Believe me. It pains me how much I like this song. But that trip to Boston really softened my hatred of all things Boston, and it's now really just confined to the Red Sox. So as I'll write more about next week or the week after, I went to Boston last month to go to the N.C. State/Boston College football game.

I'd heard of this song because it was Jonathan Papelbon's entrance song at the end of Red Sox games, but man, they played this song non-stop during the BC game. Every few minutes toward the end of the game. And dammit if the beginning of this song doesn't get me fired up. It went immediately onto my running playlist.

"Time of the Season," and "She's Not There," by The Zombies

I know I've mentioned how I'll dance to almost anything, but "Time of the Season" -- whew. I can't help but dance in my seat or in the shower or walking the dog or wherever whenever I hear this song. So fucking great. I love how grimy it sounds, you know? Awesome. And "She's Not There" isn't quite as grimy, but I just love the sound. This is 60s rock done right, my friends. Soulful, gritty funk. I am all in. Shit, I'm dancing on the couch right now listening to them. Can't help it.

"Wagon Wheel," by Old Crow Medicine Show

I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I'd never heard this song before this week. I knew of it, obviously, having spent a considerable portion of my life in Raleigh, where it's kind of a staple for obvious reasons (listen to the lyrics). But even then, I found it because I was youtubing Mumford and Sons and came across a cover they did of this song. This is one of those songs I can put on and just chill. I love the laid-back, folksy sound.

I have no memories of this song, but hearing it already makes me think of hot summer nights back in North Carolina. It's humid and sticky and the stars are bright in a way only North Carolina knows. And this song is playing and the sweet tea is the only thing making the night bearable.

"Into the Mystic," by Van Morrison

This song man. Another song built for me to dance to like crazy. What a perfect piece of music. What a voice, too. Just listen to him let it rip at 2:34. I want to rock your gypsy soul. Let's GO. I could listen to this song on repeat for the rest of my life.

And I'd never really listened to it before this summer. I listen to Tony Kornheiser's radio show every day. Well I download the podcast and listen to it while I walk Allie. This is TK's favorite song. His show is a sports/talk show, but he plays a song before each segment. One day this summer, he played this song, leading into a segment, and he let the whole song play because he loves it. And then I loved it, too, because, well, listen to it. You can't listen to this song and NOT groove. Yes, I know how white I sound. Suck it, Trebek. Great, great fucking song.

If you made it down this far, wow. That's a great job by you. As always, thank you SO much to everyone who reads. I very much appreciate the comments you give me one way or another. Have an awesome weekend. I know I will for damn sure, starting tonight. Let us GO.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hey. Thanks.

Yeah. I know I'm a couple weeks late on this, but Thanksgiving happened while I was on my blog vacation. Naturally, I have some thoughts.

It's no secret 2011 hasn't been my best year -- although it did rally something serious starting at the end of October. Well, when you go through rough times, you learn a lot about yourself and your friends and the people who care about you.

I've definitely got that. I learned more this year than I ever have before -- about humility, about perseverance, about trusting my instincts, about not being afraid of accepting help, about the importance of a positive attitude, and so on and so on.

Finally, I feel like I've made it through the storm. I feel so good, and there are innumerable things for which I'm incredibly thankful. Since I didn't write anything on Thanksgiving, I figured why not now?

Fair warning, though. It's about to get real up in this piece. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving (two weeks ago), I couldn't have made it through this year without the following things (some very obvious, some maybe not so much), albeit it an incomplete list:

My Family -- My dad slipped me a $20 bill every time he saw me. My mom sent me home with food every time I saw her. My grandfather was so upset when he heard about my job back in January, he sent me a card with a check for $50 in it. Seriously. That happened. Is it getting dusty in here? I mean. There aren't enough words.

My Friends -- You guys. For reals. You're all ridiculous, and I don't know what I would have done without our weekly (or more often) debaucheries this summer and fall. You were there with a kind and encouraging word when I needed it and with a disparaging word when it was necessary haha. And you continue to be awesome.

Fridays at the Bottom Line -- The best happy hour in DC. It's tough to beat the $1 beer specials. We can go in there and all get drinks for like $25 total, which would cover like three drinks anywhere else in the District. Many a ridiculous night has originated at the Bottom Line, and I hope for more to come VERY shortly. Like this week, I hope.

Running -- Reluctantly crouched at the starting line. Engines pumping and thumping in time. The green light flashes. The flags go up. Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup. You're fired up right now, aren't you? The first few lines to "The Distance," by Cake. It's the first song on my running playlist every time I run. Since April, when I started watching what I eat and exercising intensely, there have been times where I was simply overwhelmed. And nothing cleared my head, got the blood pumping or burned the energy better than a solid four-mile run. Whenever I go a few days or weeks without running, that first run back is a rush of excitement, and I always remember how much I love it now. It's so funny because I hated running until I forced myself into a half-marathon two years ago. Since then, I've run two 5Ks, and I registered for a second half-marathon here in DC in March. CAN'T WAIT.

Losing Weight/Being Healthier -- You may have heard, but I've lost more than 40 pounds since April. You know what never gets old? I wore pants yesterday I couldn't even pull up to my waist just a few months ago. Never mind buttoning them, I couldn't even get them up to my waist. And I wore them comfortably yesterday. Incredible. I was wearing XL shirts just eight months ago. Now, I wear mostly mediums. I have a size medium coat. What in the world. This time last year? I was almost 230 pounds. I weighed in Monday night after my run at 186, which is even more of an accomplishment given how I spent the months of October and November up and down the East coast. More on that next week.

Dancing -- Dude. I never knew how much I loved it until this past summer. But, man, what an unbelievably freeing and exhilarating time. Play a little Jackson 5 ("I Want You Back," especially) or, really, any 60s music, I'm totally in. Oh who are we kidding...I'm good with anything. Lulz.

My Job -- First and foremost, I straight-up love my co-workers. You guys are brilliant and hilarious, and I could not be more excited about this opportunity. It challenges me in new and exciting ways every day, and I'm learning something new seemingly by the minute. What more can you ask for?

My Best Friends -- Jon, you are like a brother to me. We've been friends for, what, 17, almost 18 years now? Incredible. You have a way of cutting right to the point in exactly the way I need to hear it exactly WHEN I need to hear it. I often, unwisely, do not heed your advice (just as we both know I probably won't this time...LULZ), but, rest assured, I know I probably should haha. And it is always most appreciated. Sometimes I just need to go down magnificently in flames, consequences be damned, you know? C'est la vie. And Mike. There may be no stranger "bromance." Despite the fact that we have only hung out in person maybe four times total, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say I have talked to you more than anyone else this year. Disturbingly parallel. Whatever happens with one of us, I can know without question the other has either already done it or will be doing it shortly. Lulz, indeed.

Last and, most certainly, not least, the past five weeks -- I mean. What can I say? Simply amazing. Thanks, "Lola." Always.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Still Bull Dancing

So! How are things?

It sure has been a while since I've written here -- all for very good reasons, I assure you. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Holy shit, what a ridiculous few weeks."

I wholeheartedly agree.

If you've read this blog at all lately, you know I started a new job a little more than a month ago. When I started writing back in June, I settled into a routine of writing just after lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Well, I'm obviously not going to write while I'm at work. In addition to being wildly inappropriate, I also don't even have time to think about it haha. But that's neither here nor there.

I started writing this blog a few years ago, but I never had a real purpose behind it. I'd post every few days or weeks -- nothing exciting or noteworthy. Then the job thing happened. Then I kind of woke up from the slump I'd been in all winter. Then the break-up happened.

By the time June rolled around, I had a lot of feelings and stuff. You know. When that happens, I feel compelled to write about them. So then the blog had a purpose. I wrote about my weight-loss adventures (which I should update soon, actually), my experiences playing softball in the spring, summer and fall, the job search and my general thoughts on life, love and just getting through the days. It was cathartic. It was an exercise in getting to know myself better and learning what was important to me. It helped more than I ever imagined it would.

And to my everlasting joy and surprise, people seemed to want to read about it.

So much of what I wrote from the beginning of June through the end of October was building toward something. Whether it was approaching my weight-loss goal or finding a new job or any number of other things -- it always felt like an impending culmination was out there.

And then it came. Finally, it came.

Jubilation doesn't even begin to describe how I felt on that day and how I continue feel, really (for many, many reasons now). But that whole thing was such a release for me, and it seemed like the entire point of why I was driven to write, I felt like there was less to say for a while.

I mean, I got a new awesome job, working with some really excellent people, and I'd lost more than 40 pounds -- what could I write about? I felt less motivated to write. You know, less uncertainty and all that.

But I've found I missed writing about nonsense haha. I really like just writing about what's going through my head at any given moment. It's been a truly fascinating experience to go back through the archives and read what I wrote in June, July and August, especially. It's a snapshot into my mind, and it's incredibly interesting for me to see back to that time, which feels like a lifetime ago at this point.

Yeah so I was going to write down some thoughts on Thanksgiving here, but look how many fucking words I've written already just talking about where I've been. Incredible. Anyway.

What have I got planned now? Well, here are a few things I'd like to write about in addition to my, you know, usual rambling nonsense:

  • Boston trip a few weeks ago
  • Weight-loss update
  • A few very belated Thanksgiving thoughts
  • More music posts (Google Analytics tells me not many people other than myself like these, but, you know, whatevs haha)

So yeah. I figured I'd give this another go. I'll try to write ahead of time at night and on the weekends, and I'll do my best to stick to my usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. Hopefully you'll all still be interested in reading, and we'll see what happens!

Talk to you soon, for SHO.


Friday, October 21, 2011

I Love Everybody

Yes, I still do love everybody. What a week. My God, what a week.

It started on Monday with my job offer. Then, for the next three days, I marinated in the glow of a pure happiness and joy I hadn't known in quite some time.

It's funny. I built up the moment of receiving the job offer for so long, I began to wonder if it could ever possibly live up to what I envisioned when it actually came. I came so close to an offer three other times before this one. I had my celebration queued up and ready to go. I was ready to explode. And then, all three times I was denied.

The build-up and anticipation for this was seriously unbelievable.

And then the offer finally came. And it was everything I thought it would be and more. Just ask Allie, who witnessed me running through the house like a maniac, screaming like a banshee and attempting to make snow angels on the carpet after reenacting the scene from Jerry Maguire I linked to on Wednesday.

That celebration will really continue Friday night, when I go meet some friends downtown. It's someone's birthday, but I don't know her at all haha. Katie invited me and a few others we know just because we're fun, and we're always down for pretty much anything.

Anyway, we're starting at a place called Stoney's. It's on P Street near Whole Foods. I've been over to that area before, but I've never been to Stoney's. I'm sure it'll be fine. I already told Katie this, though. If the night doesn't end at Rumors for some dancing, I'm going to be VERY disappointed. This is as happy and energetic as I've ever felt. And that, my friends, is saying something.

Dammit I can't wait!

So! The first day at work is in the books. I'm pretty sure they'll invite me back for a second and third, so that's a great success.

The verdict after day one? Wow. 100 percent worth the wait. All the talk about "the right situation will come along" sounds like a cop-out to make you feel better when you miss out on something else. But after learning about this place and what I'll be doing, it sounds pretty accurate so far. The people are so friendly, and they seem so good at what they do. The work will be interesting and challenging, and there will be a ton of opportunities to do a lot of fun things. I'm so excited.

And the commute, driving in rush hour on the beltway? It took 30 minutes less, cumulatively, than it took me to ride the metro to work downtown. Incredible. I'm sure there will be days when it's beyond awful, and it takes much longer. But day one was a pleasant surprise.

For the first time in a long time, I am 100 percent at peace, happy and content. Physically, emotionally, mentally, financially -- I'm finally good in all phases of the game. I'm eating better than I ever have. I'm in better shape than I've ever been. I don't need to list all these things again. I feel like a broken record sometimes haha. I'm just so fired up and happy I don't know how to process it sometimes. Not a bad problem to have, if I do say so myself.

The weekend will be predictably awesome, too. Flag football games on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. N.C. State vs. Virginia on Saturday, McFadden's for the Panthers game on Sunday. Dammit I love everyone and everything right now.

Life is as good as it's ever been, and the outlook is only for it to get better. I am so, so lucky.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's Next

Oh boy.

Seriously. I am the exact opposite of Peter from Office Space right now. Every day of my life is better than the day that came before it. Every day you see me or talk to me is the best day of my life. Life is so, so very good!

I have been giggling like a school girl for almost three solid days now. I love everybody! This is pretty much an exact replication of how I reacted on Monday after hanging up the phone upon receiving my offer:


What's Next?

Well, tomorrow is my first day of work. God I really can't wait. CAN'T WAIT. I am going to dominate so hard.

I immediately canceled my move-out notice, and I will sign a new lease tomorrow. I know I may need to move at some point, but honestly, I can't emphasize enough how much I don't want to worry about that right now. Baby steps. One thing at a time. I like this apartment a lot, and the commute isn't going to be that much longer than when I rode the Metro. At worst, if the commute sucks, I'll deal with it for a while, and then look at some other living arrangements then.

I can finally book my flight for Boston next month now that I know from what city I'll be flying. A bunch of us have tickets to the State/BC game -- a true battle of who could care less, to quote Ben Folds. But nonetheless, it'll be an awesome trip with both DC and Raleigh friends heading up there. Plus, I have a cousin who lives nearby! Gotta go get down in Beantown.

While I plan on waiting and getting settled at the job before I do anything, I will absolutely begin my search for a band to join with MUCH excitement. I'd like to see how the first few weeks at work go, but I will be crafting my Craigslist ad before too long! Hell, I may just post the blog post I wrote about it over the summer.

The biggest challenge will be holding onto my fitness and eating habits while working all day every day now. I'll just have to wake up early enough to walk Allie and run or hit the gym before I leave. I just so much prefer to work out in the morning than in the afternoon. I love the feeling of an awesome workout, but I like to get it out of the way and feel the energy rush throughout the day. Like today, I ran four miles this morning, and I've felt awesome all day. Although there are certainly extenuating circumstances for that as well! LET'S GO.

I'm going to have to work hard to maintain my food discipline, too. I'll need to bring my lunch a minimum of three days a week. Since hitting 185, I've lost hardly any weight at all. Some of that is due to fun trips to Raleigh and Charlotte, to be sure. But I've also noticed my pants getting looser and looser in the interim. So it's not all that I'm not losing weight. I could just be toning and tightening up. I mean, geez. My new 34"-waist jeans that I was so excited about just a month ago were LOOSE on me last week, despite holding steady at around 185. What in the world!

I'll need to get my old dog walker back on retainer, too. There are going to be nights where I don't get back until later than Allie is used to. But she really seems to like the woman who's walked her in the past, and she's not too unreasonably priced, so it seems worth it. She'll come walk Allie for 30 minutes or so and feed her for me. Not bad at all.

So the blog. Obviously, I won't be able to devote time during the day to writing anymore. Honestly, I cannot believe I've managed to keep up with posting three times a week since early June with very, very few exceptions. I have no intention of stopping now either. I've gotten into a rhythm, and I really enjoy writing for whomever decides to stop by and read. What I plan to do now is write my posts the night before and just post the link during the day. I'm sure the new blog routine will take some getting used to, but it'll work out just fine.

Weekend Roundup

You may have read about my less-than-awesome drive last week. Turns out I completely busted BOTH wheels on the passenger side of the car. The car place ordered one wheel because they didn't know both were wrecked. The back wheel was wrecked on the inside, which they didn't know until they took the wheel off. To which I'm compelled to ask, "Why didn't you do that before ordering parts?" But I digress.

They called me on Friday to say it would be done by closing. Then they called 20 minutes later to tell me about the second wheel. The second wheel was supposed to arrive on Monday. It did not. The guy at wherever they were getting it from somehow failed at putting the wheel on the UPS truck, and it didn't arrive until Tuesday afternoon.

Anyway, the rest isn't that important. Both wheels eventually arrived. Both tires eventually arrived. And everything was put on the car. A good time was had by all.

I finally got home last night around midnight. What a week.

Oh and Kirk and Liz's wedding!

Wow what an awesome wedding. Incredibly beautiful and unique location. Excellent food and dancing at the reception. Old friends I hadn't seen in forever. The unbelievable experience of seeing my old friend Paul dance. I've never seen someone control a dance floor like he did Saturday night. It was really something to see.

I've got nothing else. I'm so incredibly giddy right now. Tomorrow's drive in the morning rush will be the best drive in the history of mankind. I can't wait!

Next time we speak, I will no longer be unemployed. GREAT SUCCESS.



Monday, October 17, 2011


Our long national nightmare is over!

I've been waiting to write this post for a long time. I've been waiting for this celebration for a long time. I mean, a loooong time.

This morning, I received a job offer from a PR firm in the area, and I will be starting my new job on Thursday! LET'S GO!

To put this situation in perspective, the lease at my apartment runs out at the end of October. For those of you for whom math is not your specialty, that means I was going to have to vacate my apartment in 14 days.

Needless to say, I canceled that move-out request. I may need to move at some point, but I don't even want to think about that right now. I'll see how this goes for a little while, and if it doesn't work, I'll reassess later.

I may or may not have (but definitely DID) reenact Andy's rain scene from Shawshank in the shower this morning. I am overwhelmed with so many feelings right now. Relief, joy, excitement, anxiousness. I don't even know how to process everything I'm feeling. So great.

I love everybody right now!

It's been a hell of a time the past nine months. The late winter and early spring was a really, really rough time for me because of the unemployment thing. It led to me becoming a little too depressed for my own good. I gained way too much weight. I stopped caring about a lot of things. I directly blame that for ruining some things I would have preferred not being ruined. Don't get me wrong; I know it's on me. I let a bad situation get to me, and it threw a wrench into quite a few things, which is really a shame given how awesome I've been since.


I am so thoroughly thrilled to say I don't have an OUNCE of negativity in me anymore. I am 100 percent optimism and energy. As I've happily documented on this blog, since mid-April, I've been a completely different person. Just take a stroll through the archives to see the transformation.

Since then, my life has been so completely amazing. I've met some incredibly awesome people, who I'm ridiculously pumped to call my friends. I've started playing softball and flag football. I'm going out with my friends like twice a week. I've been to Raleigh and Charlotte a few times and to Savannah. And I'm going to Boston next month. And, oh yeah, I've lost more than 40 pounds and counting.

So much good has been going on, and I've been so completely happy. Only one thing has prevented me from calling this the best time of my life: I didn't have a full-time job.

Literally everything else about my life was better than it had ever been before -- except the job situation.

Now, that is no longer the case. I am so excited about this job. It's a perfect opportunity for me to get in there and prove myself again. I cannot emphasize enough how ready I am to run through walls to get things done. I am so fired up.

It has been such a roller coaster this year. Including phone interviews, I've had more than 20 or 25 interviews. I've been a finalist four times. I've gotten so close so many times. It's heart-wrenching to get that close only to be denied and sent back to the beginning of the process.

But that is all in the past now. And God DAMN that feels good.

I cannot wait to go out downtown this weekend to celebrate. I've been holding this one in for months now. I am absolutely going to humpty dance all over downtown DC, so get ready.

Life is so, so, so good. And it's only going to get better. The one thing holding me back from being in the best shape of my life physically, mentally and emotionally is no longer an issue. My God I am going to tear shit UP now. Watch out for BG, my friends. Nothing can hold me back now.

Seriously, thank you to EVERYONE who has helped me through this. My family, friends and friends' families -- I couldn't have made it through one of the most trying times of my life without you. You were there to distract me, to offer an encouraging word (or a disparaging word, depending on the circumstance...lulz) and to listen to me vent more often than I can even count. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if you are in the area this weekend, you BEST come out to celebrate this with me. It will be soooo incredibly worth it.

Let's go, friends. LET US GO.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oh What a Night

So I had kind of a NIGHT last night.

As you may know, I planned to drive to Charlotte yesterday. Kirk and Liz are getting married on Saturday night, and Friday night, some friends are going out in Raleigh for Mike's birthday. Well, I wanted to get the seven-hour drive to Charlotte over with and then just drive the short 2.5-hour drive to Raleigh on Friday.

Well, I went to my interview yesterday morning, which I think went pretty well. I got home afterward and packed a few bags. I left my apartment around 3 p.m.

It was raining, so there was more traffic than usual. Just a miserable day, of course. But I got through the beltway and got to 95 without issue. I ended up making it to Richmond in 2.5 hours, which is a pretty good time -- it's typically a two-hour drive if you can hit it with no traffic.

It rained off and on, not particularly hard, but enough to be an irritant. I passed through Richmond and made it 85 in pretty good time.

A little while later, I was approximately 15 miles from the North Carolina border on I-85 south in Virginia. If you don't know, that stretch of highway is practically desolate. There are no lights, no gas stations, no restaurants, no hotels, nothing. If there aren't other cars around, it's difficult to see too far in any direction around you.

But it had stopped raining, so I didn't think anything of it. I was finally able to set my cruise control and relax a little. The only other car around me was several hundred yards ahead in the right lane. I was driving in the left lane.

All of a sudden, I saw something in the road. Because of the darkness and lack of lights or cars, it was too late by the time I saw it.


Oh good. I knew immediately the front right tire was done. I managed to pull over to the shoulder to assess the damage. Not only was the right front tire done, but the rim of the wheel itself more closely resembled Pac-man with his mouth open than a complete circle.

I looked toward the back. The back right tire also looked a little worse than I would have liked.

I called my parents to let them know what happened. I called AAA to get a tow truck. Then, not knowing what else to do, I called my friend Mike. To reiterate, Mike and I have hung out in person exactly twice, and neither of us particularly remembers the first time all that well. The other time? The insanity in Raleigh last month.

Our friendship prior to last month was entirely over Gchat. Lulz. And yet, he was the first person I thought to call haha.

I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know where I was. I knew I was still about an hour, maybe an hour and a half from Raleigh. I figured I'd get towed to some nowhere town in Virginia, and Mike would have to pick me up there.

Oh, also, I had Allie with me. So the poor dog is lying down in the backseat, super confused about everything. What a mess.

I waited on the side of the road for 30 minutes before the tow truck arrived. He hopped down and asked where I wanted to go. I said I didn't know because, again, I had no idea where I was. He said, well we can go to Bracey, but there aren't any hotels there, so I'll take us back to South Hill, just a few miles back north and you can find something there.

I told him it didn't matter, because I had a friend in Raleigh who agreed to pick me up.

Thankfully, the driver -- Roger, God love him -- was quick on his feet. "Well, if you want to go to Raleigh, AAA allows for free towing if it's less than 100 miles away."

I had no idea. So I did the math in my head quickly: 15 miles to the state line, probably another 40 or 50 miles to the exit I typically used, then maybe another 15 or 20 to where Mike lived. It would be close, but it seemed doable.

OK, let's do it. He loaded up the car -- thankfully, it was a flatbed, because the cab only had two seats and Allie is too big for that. I opened the windows in the car, and she must have figured it was just a normal car ride, because she ducked down and went to sleep after a few minutes.

I swear. That dog. I need to write a post about her. I've never known such a chill, laid-back dog before. She's the best. She rolls with it better than most people I know.

Anyway, Mike was relieved not to have to drive to the middle of nowhere last night. I was relieved the car was at least going to be in Raleigh, where I was familiar with the area, and where it's a manageable trip to/from Charlotte in case I need my parents to give me a ride so I don't miss the wedding.

Plus, holy hell. It could have been truly disastrous and tragic. I blew out two tires on one side of the car and somehow managed to keep control of the vehicle. Not only that, but if there had been cars around me? My God. Even when shit happens, I continue to be extraordinarily lucky.

So there you go. What a night. Mike met me at the car place where I left my car for the night, and he let me drive him to work today so I could use his car to go back to the car place to deal with this nonsense.

I'm not angry or annoyed. I'm a little inconvenienced, to be sure. But what can you do? Shit happens, man. C'est la vie. Keep calm, and carry on. And other sayings.

The car guy called me a while ago and said he ordered two tires and a new wheel. The tires are available today, but the wheel won't come in until tomorrow. All told, tomorrow is considerably better than I was expecting.

It's going to end up costing more than $550 for parts, labor and tax, but hey. Shit happens. Neither the dog nor I got hurt despite a situation that, in retrospect, could have easily led to serious injury.

Like I said, what can you do? We'll deal with it, and keep moving. I'm still looking forward to a fun weekend both here in Raleigh and in Charlotte! It's going to get nuts. CAN'T WAIT.

This will probably be the last post for the week, so I'll see you back here on Monday!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Grandpa Julie

It's hard to believe, but today marks 11 years since my grandfather on my dad's side passed away.

I was a freshman in college, and I'll never forget the phone ringing early one morning. Half asleep in my bed on the eighth floor of Metcalf Hall, I answered the phone, and my mom told me the sad news, "I'm sorry, but Grandpa Julie passed away this morning."

I remember not knowing what to do. I didn't know how to react. Family members had passed before, but none who were particularly close to me. Not like a grandparent. He was the first.

I didn't cry, not for a few days. It wasn't real, though. I had no concept of what "a death in the family" was supposed to feel like. I'd never felt one before. I still had friends all around me. I was still on campus. Nothing really changed for me in the immediate present at the time.

My parents drove up from Charlotte and picked me up in Raleigh, and we hit the road to New Jersey. Strangely, I remember almost nothing about the drive to New Jersey and the immediate aftermath of arriving. I don't remember where we stayed. I don't remember seeing my grandmother for the first time after we arrived. It's all gone, until the morning of the funeral.

I remember the car ride to my grandparents' condo in Woodbridge. I immediately grew attached to the song "In My Life," by the Beatles. I listened to it exclusively on repeat the entire day, and for months afterward, I couldn't listen to it at all because it reminded me of that day.

My emotions finally caught up to me when we got to the funeral home. We hadn't seen him yet, but the act of arriving at that place triggered it. I was inconsolable the entire time we were there before the funeral actually started. Finally, to break the tension I undoubtedly had a hand in creating, either my father or one of my uncles came up to me, and, as only one of them could do, said, "Listen, I know you're upset, but it's not like you can hop in the coffin with him."


It was funny then, and it's funny now, so don't feel bad if you chuckled. I certainly did at the time. I was better after that.

Anyway, this post is not so much about that as about him.

He was super outgoing and super friendly. And he always seemed happy and content wherever he was.

The very last memory I have of him, he called me in my dorm room. I believe he was in the hospital at the time, but someone had just given him a Backstreet Boys CD. Like you do. I know when I think of a 77-year-old man, I think of the Backstreet Boys, too.

But he had never heard of them, so he called me to do some research on them.

"Hey Bri, I just got this CD. I don't know these people. What kind of music is it? Should I like this?"
"Haha. Yes, Grandpa, you should like this. It's fun, peppy music. It's like dance music. It's really fun, and you should listen to it."

So he did. How can you not love that? haha.

The other lasting memory I have is one of my family's favorite stories about him. My uncle used to live in Atlanta, and one year, my parents and grandparents went down there to visit him and his family. We all went to the Coca Cola museum one day. I've been there a few times, and it's a pretty cool trip.

Well, the thing with Grandpa Julie was you always had to keep an eye on him -- not because he couldn't handle himself and he needed to be taken care of, but because he had the tendency to just put his hands in his pockets and wander around, checking things out.

He was very laid back, and he liked to walk around and check out his surroundings. So we're at the Coke museum, and we're walking around. Sure enough, we lost sight of him.

We're asking each other who saw him last, where was he, what direction was he going. We weren't panicking or anything; we knew he'd turn up like he always did.

Finally, after a few minutes of our own wandering around in search of him, the doors to the theater where they show old Coke commercials and films opened. Out strolled Grandpa Julie with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face.

"Grandpa, what happened?"
"Well, I was walking around, looking at everything, and I found this room with the screen. When I got to the other side to leave, the doors closed and the lights went down, so I just sat down for a few minutes."

Of course he did.

And I'll always remember how my grandparents had their own little game of Marco Polo in every store we ever visited. Because of my grandfather's penchant for wandering, they often got separated in stores. What happened next never failed to crack me up.

From one side of the store (or, in most cases, one aisle to the aisle next to it), you'd hear them shout to each other, exactly like a game of Marco Polo:


And hit repeat on that chorus until they found each other again. Hilarious.

So yeah. Sorry it got a little sad up at the top; it's just such a vivid memory for me, I felt compelled to write it down. It's still sad, of course, but after 11 years, it's much easier to remember and smile about the happy memories than that day.

And even 11 years later, I can still hear his one-beat laugh that broke the silence and traveled above the din of every room in which he found himself, either accidentally or on purpose. It seemed to come decibels louder than the rest of his laugh, "HEH!" And you know, I can't remember what his laugh sounded like, other than that. But I'll never forget that.

It's so funny -- the things that stick with you over the course of time.

Eleven years today. Incredible how fast time goes. Anyway, he was as much of a character as one person could possibly be. And it's truly hilarious to see my father picking up more and more of his mannerisms as he gets older. And it's truly terrifying when I catch myself picking up the very same mannerisms as I get older.

We're all destined to become our fathers, I suppose. But that's not always a bad thing.

We miss you, and we love you, Grandpa. Always!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Doin' the Bull Dance; Feelin' the Flow

First of all, let me tell you something about the traffic here.

Holy. Hell.

So last night, I met a girl in Alexandria for some drinks. Alexandria isn't exactly close to where I live, but then again, almost nothing is except for Jersey Mike's. Not the point.

Anyway, it's only 30 miles. We were meeting at 7, so I knew I'd be driving in some rush hour traffic, and I'm just so terrified of being late, I decided to leave at 5 p.m.

I figured, worst-case scenario I'll get there 30 minutes, maybe an hour early, and I'll just make friends at the bar, watch TV and wait for her to get there.

Well. Not so, my friends.

It took every minute of two hours to get there. I walked in the door at 7:05. It took me a solid hour to get to the GW Parkway, which is only 14 miles from my apartment.

Due to an accident on the GW Parkway, it took ANOTHER hour to go the remaining 15 miles. Incredible! I expect some traffic when I get on the beltway around that time. I'm fine with it. This was something else though. Two hours!

It's OK. Not even the traffic could get me down after yesterday afternoon. I had a job interview, and I believe it went very well. Shortly after I left, I was invited back for the next round and writing test. That's all I'll say here, but feel free to message me and we can discuss further!

To say the least, I was feeling GOOD. As I posted online, "Doin' the bull dance; feelin' the flow. Workin' it." I had my iPod blaring and my windows down in the car in an effort to attract as many strange looks as I could. It was as pleasant a two-hour traffic jam as it could be haha.

So that was yesterday.

As has become par for the course lately, there is an extremely exciting weekend planned so far. I'm about to get ready to go downtown. It is seriously amazing outside right now, and we decided we need to be drinking beer outside someplace. HOW CAN I ARGUE WITH THAT?! So we'll make a pit stop in the dungeon known as the Bottom Line because we LOVE that place and it's also hard to argue with their Friday $1 beer happy hour. But we'll definitely move on to a place with an outdoor set-up after that.

In an effort to stave off cravings for drunk McDonald's at 3 a.m., I'm going to walk over to Jersey Mike's before I go out so I can leave a sub in the fridge to satisfy my need for food late tonight! Great success!

And tomorrow morning is flag football! We're playing Boston at 11 a.m., and the weather looks to be perfect again. I'm excited to see what our team can do. I was really impressed at the first game I went to two weeks ago when we played one of the best teams in the league.

Following that is an all-day party for a friend of a few people I've met through the NCSU sports I've been playing. He's moving away. I don't know him at all, but Katie invited me, and who I am to turn down an all-day party, involving several different bars, football, hockey and dancing? Exactly.

Sunday is McFadden's again for the Panthers game!

One of those days I'm going to have to throw in a six-mile run. I ran five miles on Tuesday, but I've held off on the second run this week because of a little soreness in my hamstring. It's pretty much fine now, but I didn't want to push it. So I figured I'd give it a few days to rest and then go again on the weekend.

I'm going to need it, too. HUGE week doesn't even come close to describing next week. My God.

A softball doubleheader on Tuesday night, giving us another chance to sweep two games and move to 5-1 on the season. I feel so good about our team, man. I really do. We're really starting to come together. Then, another interview bright and early Wednesday morning with the place from yesterday. Seriously, it sounds like a ridiculous opportunity to do a lot of different things I've wanted to do but haven't had the chance, things I'm good at and everything in between.

Then I'm heading to Charlotte. Then back to Raleigh on Friday to go out for Mike's birthday. We will control the dance floor all night. No doubt. Then back to Charlotte on Saturday morning for Kirk and Liz's wedding that night. It's going to be so, so awesome.

I just feel so damn good. Like, seriously, the Yankees were eliminated last night, and I don't even mind all that much.

It's so hard to feel anything but unbridled joy these days. It really is. Life is good, friends.

Let's go. Let's go, indeed.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hooray Weather!


Awesome weather has returned to the DC area! For the better part of the past two weeks, at least, it's been awful. Cold. Rainy. Cloudy. Dreary. Blegh.

But yesterday was different. Sunny! High temperature in the 60s!

This week, I decided to bump up my mileage for running. For the past month or so, I'd been running four miles on Tuesday and Thursday, and then running five miles on the weekend (whichever day I didn't have to wake up early for whatever sport was happening).

I figured it was time to up the difficulty and run five miles on Tuesday and Thursday and six miles on the weekend. So yesterday was the first weekday I was going to run five miles. When I woke up to walk Allie and felt and saw how excellent the weather was outside, I was immediately pumped. Already, "The Distance" was humming in my head, and I just couldn't wait.

And oh man. It was a fantastic run. I ran every bit of the five miles and finished in just more than 46 minutes. While nine-minute miles may not seem impressive, it's important to note I had to really bust my ass to finish ONE mile in nine minutes last year. Now, I'm running all five miles in right around nine minutes each. Miles 1 and 2 were in the 8:30-8:40 range because I was pacing myself to try to run the entire time. Mile 3, as I've mentioned, is a lot of uphill, so I'm slower there. But still. Clear improvement.

It's also important to note if I can finish my next half-marathon with nine-minute miles, I'll finish in under two hours, which would be a 20-minute improvement over my first race. Needless to say, I'm really excited with my progress so far.

And, again, finally it did NOT rain on a Tuesday. Seems like that's the first time in a month. We've only been able to play one softball game, despite the season being a month old already. Before last night, we were 1-1 on the season. We lost our first game -- a game we should have won, but we had a bunch of errors in one inning that allowed a bunch of runs to score. And we picked up a forfeit victory last week.

We had two games last night against the same team. Allegedly, according to Andrew, this team was previously undefeated. Well, we beat them twice, 8-7 and 9-8. Let's GO.

I am compelled to mention our team almost entirely the same team that went 2-13 in the CAN softball league over the summer. Well, we won as many games last night as we did in that entire season. But not without making it interesting.

The first game was tight throughout. We were winning 6-5 going into the bottom of the final inning. We were the home team for the first game and the visiting team for the second. All we had to do was hold them to win. Of course, they scored a run to tie the game.

In the bottom of the final inning, we loaded the bases with two outs, but a harmless pop up ended the inning. The top of the first extra inning, their first hitter hit a ball so far we didn't even bother chasing it. Home run. They were up 7-6. We managed to hold them there, though.

Then we finally came through and scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to win. Dale scored the winning run on a throwing error, which is something we're usually accustomed to happening to us. So it was nice to be on the winning end for once.

We led the second game by a decent margin for most of the game. We played solid defense throughout, and scored runs in almost every inning. One of the better games we've played in either league. Up until the last inning.

We were up 9-5 going into the other team's last at-bat. We changed pitchers for the last inning because he wanted a save haha. He then loaded the bases with no outs to bring the tying run to the plate. In his defense, he yanked himself from the game right then haha. He knew what was at stake.

Evan got a quick out, but we were still facing a bases-loaded situation with one out. A couple of hits and errors later, and it was a 9-8 game. They had players on first and second base with one out.

Their next hitter smacked a liner right at Brent at shortstop. He grabbed it and saw the runner at second off the bag. His throw was a little low, but Jen broke out a Mark Teixeira-like scoop at second, beating the runner back to the base and securing the win. What a finish.

We're 3-1! I can't imagine any teams being all that much better than the team we played last night. Also, the improvement we've shown since the CAN league is incredible! I knew it would happen, and I totally called it this summer. We have so many people who are such solid players; we just needed to play together more often.

I didn't have a great night offensively. A couple of hits, a run scored. Nothing noteworthy. But I played first base for the entire first game and 2/3 of the second game. Wow, I loved it. Like, a lot.

I loved joking with the opposing players when they reached first. I loved being involved in some way in almost every play. I was able to field a couple of grounders cleanly and make some solid plays with the pitcher covering first. I missed a couple of scoop opportunities, but I blocked a couple of others from getting through.

Although, I did come away with a nice bruise on my left index finger. Our infielders really have to throw it hard to first to beat the runners, and one time I felt a throw from Sean hit my finger inside the glove a little more directly than I would have liked haha. Aaand bruise.

Anyway, I'm totally going to campaign to play first base in every game I can. Loved it. Let's go Pack! Keep it rolling now!

So yeah. Thank God the weather has turned for the better this week. It's supposed to be LEGIT awesome throughout the weekend, too. It's going to be a HUGE next few days, tomorrow especially. Feel free to IM me and discuss it if you'd like. Suffice it to say, I'm pumped.

And then Friday, there are preliminary plans to hit one or more of our favorite bars downtown. Great success.

Saturday, flag football in the morning, and a ridiculous day planned because a friend of Katie's is moving away. Katie promised me the day, which includes stops at several bars, WILL end in dancing. GREATER success!

And next week? Whooooaaa boy. Raleigh on Friday night to go out for Mike's birthday. It's also Laura's birthday so she should definitely make it out, too. And then Charlotte for Kirk/Liz's wedding on Saturday? Wow. WOW. That's a lot of dancing potential. GREATEST success!



Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Summer's Gone

Fall is undoubtedly here. The air is brisk. Leaves are beginning to cover the ground everywhere I walk now.

Another summer's come and gone, and what a tumultuous summer it was for me. I won't go into those details again. If you've been reading here at all, you know what's happened over the past few months.

Life-changing, to say the least. Some bad, some beyond amazing.

Growing up, I always loved the summer. What kid doesn't? School ended. Beach trips. Pool parties. Playing outside all day, every day. Non-stop sports. Water gun fights. Building tree houses. And my birthday is in the summer, too.

I mean, come on. That's awesome.

As I get older, I find myself gravitating toward fall more and more for a variety of reasons. The heat breaks, and the windows stay open. Running outside doesn't feel like I'm being waterboarded. College football is back. I can smell the first hint of fires in fireplaces around the neighborhood.

And I always connect the fall with falling in love. The last three girls I've seriously dated all began as fall romances.

I know the entire natural world feels that way about the spring, but when have I ever done things by the book? Don't get me wrong, I love the spring, too. But for the past seven or eight years, the fall has always felt different and special to me.

When the weather first gets cool in the fall, it smells different. And when I smell the first hints of fall air, I remember long walks around campus at night, staring at the stars for hours on end. Lying in the grass, contemplating the mysteries of the universe until almost dawn.

When the colors of fall invade the foliage, I think of long drives with the windows down, just to be in the same place alone together, feeling the cool air rush all around us with nothing but trees along the side of the road.

Lying on the cold cement of the bleachers from the old stadium on campus with our breath forming in puffs, looking out across the parking lot and wondering what it was like 50 years earlier when they still played football there. Breaks my heart to know the bleachers aren't there any more. Progress ain't always so great.

Or that first night we met for drinks just to say hello. A cool drizzle was falling, and I was so nervous my heart was in my stomach. I wore the nicest shirt I owned to work that day. Despite the increasing chill in the air, I could feel the heat in my cheeks as my head spun when I saw you walk up. I didn't know whether to hug you or shake your hand. I don't even remember what I did. I can't imagine how awkward whatever I did must have been. And then meeting over drinks turned into almost five hours of awesome conversation, dinner and the promise of so much more.

I guess it's pretty obvious I'm a romantic at heart, through and through. Is it any wonder I love the fall so much when these are the things that come to mind?

The relationships all ended for one reason or another. Life gets in the way, as it is wont to do. There are certainly less-than-happy memories as well, but these are the things that make me happy -- these are the things I remember.

These memories always bring a smile to my face, no matter how things may have ended up later on. I'm sure it's just been a coincidence that has led to them all occurring in the fall. But because of that, the fall brings a rush of joy with it when it sweeps in with rustling leaves.

This isn't sad story at all, so please keep that in mind. Fall is fast becoming my favorite season, though, and when it rolls through with it's assault on the senses, a lot of happy memories come with it -- moments forever frozen in time for which I have nothing but pleasant feelings.

Fall, it's good to see you again, old friend, and already overflowing with so much promise and excitement in so many different ways. Can't wait to see what you have in store for me this year.


Friday, September 30, 2011

The List

I'm overwhelmed with the desire and the compulsion to get out and do things. I have a tremendous amount of energy, and I find I must be out doing things most of the time now. I actually get antsy now if I stay put for too long.

A while back, I asked on Twitter and Facebook for blog ideas, and Erik's dad suggested writing about things I've always wanted to do but haven't yet for whatever reason. So, credit for this idea goes to Mr. H. I've adapted it a little bit. The job situation threw off a lot of things I wanted to do and ruined a lot of plans I had. But it's time to stop using that as an excuse. I'm perfectly capable of doing whatever the hell I want to do anyway.

The focus of this list isn't so much things I've always wanted to do but haven't yet, it's things I absolutely intend to do going forward over the next six-to-12 months or so. These may be things I've done before but not in a while or things I haven't had the chance to do yet.

In either case, here's a list of 10 things I will accomplish in the coming year. Not all of them may be spectacularly interesting to you, but they're things I want to do. Make your own damn list if you have a problem with mine!

In no particular order:

1. Half-Marathon

I will run another half-marathon. The Bermuda half-marathon I found is likely a pipe-dream. It would just be really expensive to get myself there, no matter how worth it the race might be.

But there are others! Mike and I are currently discussing a DC race in March -- the Rock 'n Roll Marathon/Half-Marathon on March 17. It starts and finishes at RFK Stadium, and the course is throughout downtown DC. Basically, it's awesome.

The race is a Saturday, so we could kill the race, and then wear our medals out when we go out Saturday night. Now to work on Nick so he'll run the half with me. Mike will run the full. No thank you, sir. I did my first half alone, so it would be fine either way. But we'd need Nick to go out Saturday night -- no question.

Training would start by the end of December. I love the idea of a March half-marathon. I don't love the idea of training throughout the winter, but c'est la vie. It will help keep my ass from refatting up, for sure.

Also, not only will I run another half-marathon, I will beat the time (2:19:51) from my first half-marathon.

2. Warrior Dash

I will complete a Warrior Dash. As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, I have my sights set on a race in south Florida at the beginning of December. One of my sister's best friends wants to run in it, and I'd love to do it as well.

It's essentially a 5k for the mentally unstable, and it includes rope climbs, mud-pit crawls, leaping over flaming logs, etc. You know, the usual. So, so great. I really can't wait to do one of these.

Plus, you get a viking helmet for completing the race!

3. Join a Band

I've also written about this on the blog before. Once the job situation is cleared up, I plan to scour Craigslist to find a band looking for a drummer. I want the band to be a bunch of relaxed, drama-free people who want to play some fun music that gets people dancing. Some original songs, some cover songs. Let's just have some fun.

I really, really want to play live music in front of an audience again. What a rush, man. I miss that, for sure.

4. Skiing

I went skiing for the first time in my life a little less than two years ago with the ex-girl and some friends from the ex-job. It was magnificent. It was exhilarating. There aren't enough good things to say about it.

I fell down, because of course I did. I went too fast. I had no idea what I was doing. It was awesome. Awesome!

I will go again this winter. Who knows, maybe I can get some friends together and pull off an actual ski weekend. How ridiculous would that be? Very ridiculous.

5. New York

New York is my favorite city in the United States. By far. My extended family lives close by, and I have some friends who live there as well.

I want a weekend in the city with everyone who can make it. I want to go to the top of the Empire State building again. I want to see Ground Zero again. I want to go to a Yankee game again. I want to go to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

Yes, I want to be a moronic tourist. And then I want to go out until the bars close at 4 a.m. (ATTN: NICK, MIKE AND EVERYONE. WE MUST DO THIS.).

Or I want to go for a weekend with some of my DC friends. Why not? It's only a few-hour drive away.

I haven't been to New York in a while. Maybe two years? Too long. Let's do this.

6. Cousins Weekend

I wrote extensively about my weekend in Savannah with my uncle and cousins. It was one of the most ridiculous weekends I've ever had.

We will do it again. Jeb and I already began preliminary discussions about the next weekend. We think April-ish might be the best time for it since the weather is mostly good anywhere then.

We have a few ideas for other cities, but we also kind of feel like a Savannah sequel would be pretty awesome.

In any case, beware. A pack of Grossmans will invade someplace this spring and cause scenes of debauchery all over the place. LET'S GO!

7. Look Good

My weekend in Raleigh set me back a few pounds, but it wasn't crazy. I'm so, so close to my goal weight of 180 pounds. It's unbelievable. When I set the goal, 180 seemed so far away -- an impossible pie-in-the-sky number I'd never reach. Now I'm within five-to-seven pounds of the goal.

I've said it before, but I won't stop at 180. My updated goal will be more body-fat-percentage related than weight-related. When I was up near 230 pounds back in the Spring, my body fat was 30 percent. Yikes.

I've gotten it down to 22 percent since then, which is an awesome improvement. But there's still work to do. I'd love to get down to 17 percent. That's my ultimate goal. Really, it's about fitting comfortably into smaller clothes, which I've been doing a LOT lately. I'm down from extra-large shirts to medium shirts in some cases. And I've recently downgraded from 38-inch jeans to 34-inch jeans.

Still work to do. Can't get satisfied or complacent. Gotta push as hard as I ever have. Time to crank up the intensity in the gym.


8. Run More 5Ks

If you've ever completed a race of any kind, you know how insane it is. Doesn't matter what the distance is. Running a race gets the adrenaline and the blood pumping like nothing else. After I absolutely kicked the ass of my last 5K, I want to run more.

I just love the race atmosphere. And competing against myself and pushing myself to do better than I did last time. It's a hell of a drug.

So why not run more 5Ks? No real good reason not to! The half-marathon training program I use calls for a 5K race about halfway through, so I'll aim for one around then. It also calls for a 10K race three weeks before the half-marathon, so I'll also look for one of those!

I'm so excited right now haha.

9. Camping

I haven't been camping since I was 14 years old. I remember loving it then. I went with a couple friends and one of the friend's parents.

We ended up breaking the tent somehow. I'm not sure what we did, but I know we were not successful in constructing the tent. We also made it impossible to be successful constructing the tent somehow. We ended up putting the tent exterior on the ground to sleep on and hanging a tarp in the trees above our heads so we were covered in some way. Lulz.

I'd absolutely love to go camping again. A decent tent isn't even that expensive. You can get an OK tent for like $60 at Dick's.

Sounds like an awesome weekend to me. Bring some friends, some alcohol and hang out in the woods? Yes and please.

Also, it would give me a chance to take part in one of my absolute FAVORITE pastimes -- staring at the stars. I can (and have, by the way) lie down and stare at the stars for hours on end. I'm fascinated. Always have been.

Even now, if I walk outside at night, I instinctively look up just to see what there is. Unfortunately, living so close to the city, there isn't much. If we went camping far enough away, I bet we could see some kick ass stars.

10. Kayaking

I've been kayaking a couple of times with my family on big family vacations with aunts, uncles and the aforementioned cousins.

I remember humorous situations involving my sister refusing to paddle anymore, leaving me to propel the two-person kayak on my own. And large insects/spiders falling into the kayak with us. I care less for the insects.

But the kayaking itself! It's a tough workout, man, but I remember loving it. There are a shit-ton of rivers around here. I bet it's possible to kayak in them.

DC friends, seems like it would be a good way to burn some of the calories we take in on some weekend nights, no?

There are other things I'd like to do, like visit California, spend some time in Europe, go snorkeling again, SCUBA, etc. But it seems irresponsible to do some/all of those things with the job situation uncertain. Baby steps first. I'm excited about every item on this list though; I know that much.

Once the job situation becomes clear, perhaps I'll update the list with things that will be more possible then.

Until then, I can't wait to start checking things off.

Do you have any interest in doing any of these things with me? Seriously, please let me know! We'll make some plans, and knock out some of this list.

Thanks for reading, as always. See you Monday!