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.