Archive for September, 2008

I was talking with a friend this past weekend about a race he plans on running. An 8K, he said, about 5 miles. (I didn’t even know they offered 8Ks, to be honest.) He sent me the site, and I laughed at the title: Run! Geek! Run! (Because no real runner would sign up for something so short. Our mutual friend even said, “I don’t pay for anything less than a 10K.”) But, in agreeing to do the 8K with him, I was reminded that running a race was actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions. Back in January. And it’s nearly October now. I may be a little behind schedule.

To be fair, I have completed some of my other resolutions.

  • I wanted to go to trapeze school up in Baltimore. I’ve done it twice now.
  • I wanted to read more for fun. I joined a book club. (Next up: Catch-22)
  • I wanted to start doing yoga again. In addition to classes, I’ve started incorporating yoga stretches and positions into my daily workouts.

And all of those things have either made me happier day-to-day (cue the sappy music) or challenged me by taking me out of my comfort zone. Let me tell you, standing on the edge of a platform, holding onto a bar, and then flying through the air with just a net below you…not the most comfortable thing.

So maybe this upcoming race will challenge me. Not necessarily because the distance is so long, but because running against other people will make me go just a little bit faster, push a little bit harder, and want it a little bit more. And who knows, maybe I’ll eventually work my way up to a marathon. Baby steps.

Next challenge? Skydiving. Who’s in?

*I can’t take full credit for this quote, but I can’t for the life of me think of where it came from.

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It’sa me, Mario

Last night I did something that I haven’t done in years. I played video games. And not just any video games – I played Mario Kart. On an Xbox, nonetheless. With all the original old school graphics. A friend of mine told me about his Xbox, that a friend of his had, essentially, tricked out to be able to play everything from the original Atari, to Super NES, to whatever fun, new games are out now. Although not usually a big gamer, I was intrigued, and made my way over for some wine and Mario. Of course, when I got there, he was in the middle of a snowboarding game.

“Just let me go one more time. I’m trying for a medal.”

Ha. Okay, buddy. Knock yourself out. One time turned into three, but he finally got his medal – a bronze. He was less than pleased, but humored me by showing me to the racing games (my personal favorites). I opted out of Road Rage (where, yes, the goal is to run the other driver off the road), and we settled on Mario Kart. Battle Mode.

Talk about a throwback to childhood. I distinctly remember playing all these games with my brother and at my best friend’s house. When we raced, I even had a list of my first three choices of characters to be: 1) The Princess, naturally; 2) Yoshi; 3) The little mushroom guy. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t limited to Mario games. The other favorite was Duck Hunt. And, while I’ve never shot a gun in real life (paintball guns don’t count, right?), I was a master with that bright orange “weapon.”

Last night, as we started playing and shooting each other with green shells and red shells, and running into each other in the invincible star mode, I remembered how much fun I always had playing video games! (And winning. Did I mention that I won last night? And that I’m competitive? No?)

I used to think that gaming systems were something that guys would grow out of. You know, once you become more social creatures, you stop wasting time on animated ones. But I now realize I was wrong. Guys don’t grow out of video games, which leaves girls with the option of growing into them. And if last night was any indication, I’m completely okay with that.

Pour me some wine. Hand me a controller. Watch me win.

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I don’t believe in horoscopes. I don’t think that the way the stars are grouped or aligned, or the way the moon is positioned is going to rule my day-to-day goings on. I am, however, fascinated that these horoscopes can be vague enough to apply to everyone born within that certain month, yet specific enough that readers take it to heart. (Oh! This is the day I’m going to meet my soul mate!) Maybe it’s this fascination that keeps me reading my horoscope in the Express on my walk to work every morning. For instance:

Gemini (May 21-June 20): You may have to be painfully honest with yourself in order to benefit from your own current circumstances. An important lesson can be learned. (Express, D.C.)

And I admit it: today, I thought, Wow, that is so appropriate to my life. Hm, I wonder what the important lesson is. And then I thought, And I wonder how many other geminis are thinking the same thing.

But what if I weren’t living in the D.C. area? Would my horoscope still be the same? I mean, the stars don’t align any differently if I’m here, back in Philly, elsewhere on the East Coast, or on the West Coast, right? Apparently, they do.

I did a quick Google search and, after filtering through sites that offered me “FREE Psychic Readings” and a “Past life report” (this life is plenty fine, thank you), I found that if I lived a few states south, the stars would tell me something different.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Strive for perfection and you will win the approval of your peer group. You can talk your way to the top if you set emotions aside and focus on what needs to be done. Money is heading your way. (upstatetoday.com, South Carolina)

Now wait just a minute: Money is heading your way. I may not be very materialistic, but I am a young research assistant who could use a financial helping hand, ergo, that’s pretty appealing. Maybe horoscopes are like the SATs: take them three times and then choose your best scores. Or, in this case, find three different readings and choose the most promising from each. So I looked for another:

Gemini (May 21-June 21): Daily tasks seem to be messing with your balance. You may throw up your hands in frustration. Then something wondrous happens. A kindred spirit comes to the rescue. (L.A. Times; Philadelphia Inquirer)

So…I can learn an important lesson if I’m painfully honest (not really a fan of the “painfully” part), and in doing so, will probably have to set my emotions aside. If I succeed, a kindred spirit will come to my rescue – maybe helping me learn the lesson, and bringing me money.

Hey, it could happen.

Update: For 9/23/08:

Gemini (May 21-June 20): A surprise is in store for you. Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open at all times.

Sweet! I love surprises!

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Confession time: I love bad TV. I do. It’s kind of my weakness. And as far as weaknesses go, it’s definitely not the worst one I could have, but it is rather time consuming.

When I first moved down here, I lived in Arlington with my roommate and was still in the midst of the job search. And because you can only write so many cover letters and send out so many resumes before your head hurts, I would do the only logical thing: completely shut down all brain cells and turn on SoapNet at 4pm.

If I remember correctly, it’s been nearly a year, after all, since I’ve done this, SoapNet would start with back-to-back episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 (the original, obviously), and then an hour of One Tree Hill. Ahhh. Three blissful hours of sitting on my ass, watching, according to the channel’s tagline, “pretty people, pretty messed up.”

Now, in my new place, I no longer have cable – mainly so I can’t waste away in front of the television. However, I was moderately regretting that decision today when the topic of conversation in our pod at work turned to bad TV. More specifically, the new 90210. The general consensus was that it couldn’t hold a candle to the original (although, I hear it’s trying by bringing back Brenda and Kelly). But the best comment, and one appropriate to pretty much ALL the teen soaps: “I just wonder, when will I stop watching shows about kids in high school?” Amen. I’m right there with you.

Why do we care so much? And why, as late-20-early-30-somethings do we like watching shows about high school kids? There’s no excuse about it reminding you of your own high school days. (Unless, of course, you were the most popular girl in school, dating the star of the football team, who was secretly cheating on you with your best friend, but it’s okay because you were sleeping with your guidance counselor – then, by all means, reminisce away.)

I thought about it a little more after that conversation and chalked it up to “car-wreck effect” – you don’t want to stare, but you just can’t look away.

And then I promptly watched an episode of One Tree Hill on my computer.

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I judge you based on your pet

Gentlemen, let me give you a tip: size does matter – at least, when it comes to your dog.

As a personal preference, I’ve always been partial to big dogs. I’ll admit that I was heavily influenced by my mother, who always taught me: “If it’s smaller than a beagle, it’s not a real dog.” With a few possible exceptions, I think that’s fair. So why, then, do I constantly see men walking down the D.C. streets with an ankle-biter on the end of the leash? Guys, this does nothing for your image. (Thanks to one of the many double standards still in existence, it’s far more acceptable for a girl to have a yippy, “tea-cup pup,” although I’m still not a fan. But girls and their purse-sized dogs are another story.)

A few possible explanations:

1. His apartment building imposes the 25-pound pet limit and he just couldn’t stand the idea of getting a cat. (The points he won, however, by choosing dog over cat are negated with an ankle-biter.)

2. It’s actually his girlfriend’s dog and he’s just taking it out for her.

3. The dog in question is still a puppy and will grow.

If it’s still a puppy, you’re off the hook, no questions asked.

If it’s your girlfriend’s dog, it’s semi-acceptable. Props to you for taking dog-duty in the first place, but you still look ridiculous walking something that would fit in her purse. May I suggest, if a small dog is necessary, that you settle on something whose bark doesn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard?

If the apartment is the problem, you have two options: move or wait. Move to a place that allows life-size animals and not just toys. If you don’t want to/can’t afford to move, then wait.

I, myself, would love to have a pet again. But until I have the space, I will wait. And I know it’s possible to have to a big dog in this city because I’ve seen it. For every five small dogs I’ve seen scurrying down the street, I’ve seen at least one big one, with owner in tow – thank God.

And don’t even get me started on cats – especially those on leashes. Ugh.

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I didn’t realize how big a Philly sports fan I was until I moved to DC. Some people call being a Philly fan a flaw – I call it inevitable. Sure, I grew up in a Philly suburb, but if anything, fans were even more intense – to assert their “Philly-ness,” I suppose. I tried be nonchalant and not follow the teams fanatically, but I can still remember the shocked faces on my guy friends’ faces one Monday morning in high school.

Boy 1: “You didn’t watch the Eagles game last night?”

Me: “No, I’m just not that into it. I don’t really follow football.” [Or any other sport, I added in my head.]

Boy 2: [incredulous look]

Boy 1: “You know what we should do: stick her on a street corner somewhere in South Philly and make her tell people she doesn’t watch the Eagles. Then see what happens.”

Me: “I’m sorry, are you trying to get me killed?”

Philly fans are tough. We are intense and often offensive. It’s part of our charm. I wouldn’t call it “brotherly love,” but “tough love.” We boo when our boys suck and we cheer like hell when they’re kicking ass.

To be fair, I can only include myself in the “we” as of this past year of living down here. I’ve always followed sports when it comes down to the wire, which means I’d pick up baseball around September; football around December/January; etc, but now I find myself getting fired up throughout the season. And, for football at least, it has a lot to do with being an Eagles fan in Redskins territory. It’s weird, and we can overanalyze later, but I love getting in discussions (read: arguments) with fans from opposing teams. (They’re usually friends of mine – I don’t go looking for trouble.) So you can bet that when the Eagles play the Skins (in about three and a half weeks, but who’s counting) I’ll be talking a fair amount of trash – and hearing it, too.

In the meantime, however, Philadelphia will play Dallas this coming Monday and I’d look for someone to fight with, but hey, everyone hates the Cowboys.

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Jumping ovaries

I’ve known for a long time that I want to eventually have children. I’ve also known, for slightly less amount of time, that I make people nervous with how sure I am about wanting a baby. (No, not NOW.) I am that girl, in that when my girl friends and I used to pass by a small child with their parents, I’d be the one saying, “Aww…I want one.” Which prompted my one friend to consistently respond with, “No, Liebchen – you can’t have one now!” Well, duh.

Since that time, I’ve learned to curb my vocal response to cute kids. But I still smile a little bit when I see one in their stroller, or even wreaking havoc as the parents try desperately to keep them in line. And yes, my ovaries jump a little bit. Every time.

A few weeks ago, while out celebrating a double win with my softball team, we convinced our pitcher to call his wife and have her and his nearly one-year-old child come out. (Yes, to the bar.) Now, I would categorize myself as shy about 95% of the time, but when there’s a chance to hold a baby, I step right up. And step up, I did. I held little Alexander for as long as I could, and not only were my ovaries jumping, they were doing back flips and other assorted tricks. And when he nearly fell asleep with his head on my chest, it confirmed my theory that a baby falling asleep in your arms is one of the most satisfying feelings ever.

A few days ago, I realized that a friend of mine had actually taken some pictures on his iPhone of me holding Alexander and I very politely asked him to please email them to me. (Okay, okay – I may have begged a little bit.) He laughed, and then said, “Why don’t you just get one of your own?” (I seriously thought he meant the iPhone at first.) It took every ounce of energy I had to not agree with him (although he made it easier as he offered up several of our friends as candidates for the father).

One day, I’m confident I’ll have my very own cutie patootie. (And yes, I’ll probably call them that until they’re old enough to tell me to knock it off.) But for now, I’ll settle for baby holding, internal “aww-ing,” and, of course, acrobatic ovaries.

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When I grow up…

I mentioned in my first post that when I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. And that’s true. It just might not be the whole truth. Obviously, as a child you go through numerous ideas of what you want to be. I distinctly remember phases of wanting to be a singer, the aforementioned writer, a teacher, a mommy, a detective, Catwoman, etc. And looking back on my childhood, it’s pretty obvious where all of these dreams came from. (I had awesome Catwoman pajamas.) There’s one, however, that I just can’t pinpoint. I don’t remember exactly how old I was (too young to know what I was saying), or where the idea came from, but I vividly remember sitting in the backseat of my best friend’s minivan and piping in as her parents asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up: “I want to be a stripper!”

Um, what? Where the hell did that come from? Don’t blame my parents – there was no inappropriate television at our house. And I’m fairly confident I can’t blame my best friend’s parents – they were even more straight edge than my own. So where on earth did I get that idea? To be honest, I’m still not sure. I just remember the stunned silence in the car as I realized that I’d said something wrong. And then we never spoke of it again.

Just to set the record straight: I no longer want to be a stripper. Shocking, I know. But what do I want to be? The same friend who convinced me to start writing again asked me that question a few weeks ago. At first I thought he was just being facetious (considering he added “when you grow up” to the question). But, surprisingly enough, he was serious: “No really, what do you want to do next?” (“Next” being whatever it is I undertake after the generic, D.C. position of “research assistant” I currently hold.) You know what? Aside from grad school plans, I have no idea.

Looking back to my previous dreams, I’m pretty sure Catwoman and detective are out (although, I’ll keep them in mind for future Halloween costumes). A singer, not so much, either – I was fearless as a child, but stage fright’s a bitch now. I could still be a teacher or a writer, and maybe one day even a mom. But for the foreseeable future, it’s all up in the air.

(Although, hey, if money gets tight during grad school, there’s always that original dream: what’s the best place for amateur strippers in D.C.?)

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The anti-blog

I have to be honest: I used to be very anti-blog. In fact, it was cause for mockery. That probably had a lot to do with both my disdain for people who put their personal lives online, thinking other people cared enough to read about their trivial problems, and my self-disdain, because I would be that person, who got caught up in others’ lives. To be fair, the first blog experiences I had were with Xanga, and things of the like, and it was people writing about how much their lives sucked. That’s great, I’m glad you have an outlet, but how did I come across it? And, oh wait, there goes 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back because I got sucked into that fight between you and your boyfriend. (You were right, though, he was acting like such a jerk!)

Seriously, though, now I feel like a hypocrite. (Not that that’s going to stop me, but I hear self-awareness is very in right now.) I think this might be easier to write if I had a theme, some central focus. But really, the only common thread between this and any further posts will be me. I know, so why bother with this when I could just keep a diary? Well, with a blog I can at least pretend I have an audience (even though I’ll pray to God that I was competent enough to enable the highest privacy settings so that no one can read this).

So let’s jump right in, shall we? Why am I even starting this in the first place? I was heavily urged by a friend, for whom I wrote a guest blog post, to continue writing. The funny thing is that as a kid, a writer is exactly what I wanted to be. I’m sorry, excuse me – I wanted to be a famous writer. I was positive that those stories I wrote all throughout elementary school would be a great start; I even tried to bind them into book-form myself. Suffice it to say, I was less than successful. Maybe it’s all about the baby steps. Maybe this will be my gateway back into writing and I’ll fulfill a childhood dream. Or maybe I’ll just waste my time and yours with incessant rambling. It’s hard to tell, but what the hell, here goes nothing.

Update: I was, in fact, competent enough to enable the privacy settings. I’m just slowly trying to come out of my shell. It’s all about the baby steps.

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