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Archive for July, 2009

I leave for camp tomorrow.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: camp? Are you 10?

And that’s valid, but no. This is a one-week camp for incoming sixth graders through incoming ninth graders that I’ve been working at every summer for the past ten years. I attended when I was in middle school, myself, and I just kept going back.

I love this week of the summer. I really, truly do. In fact, it was the subject of the very first blog post I ever wrote. Before I even had my own blog.

BUT, that said, it’s still a week spent with several hundred middle schoolers, who can be bratty, smart-asses, too-cool-for-school, inappropriate, and sweet and innocent, all within the course of an hour or less. I guess it’s pretty much like hanging out with my friends here – except I can’t call anyone an asshole (out loud).

In any case, enjoy your weekends/weeks, and I’ll be back in August to regale you with “one time at camp” stories.

Sometimes I swear the counselors are worse than the kids. All the better for you guys.

Happy Friday!

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Via Lilu: ***Alright, folks, you know the rules. Join us all in humiliating the crap out of yourself every Thursday by sharing some completely tasteless, wholly unclassy, “how many readers can I estrange THIS week??” TMI story about your life. Or hell, about someone else’s!***

Remember when I said that I was done with TMI Thursdays for a little while? Well, I was. Then this happened.

The other weekend, I participated in the Rockville Rotary Twilighter 8K. A long name for a race in which you’re actually just running five miles at night (trying not to trip), with the neighborhood cheering for you, while waiting for their streets to not be blocked off anymore.

In an effort to be properly fueled, we went to dinner beforehand. Nothing too heavy – just some dinner salads. No biggie. I should have known something was off when I couldn’t finish my meal. Since when have I not been able to finish a salad? And then the nausea started while on the metro out to Rockville. (It probably didn’t help that it took forEVER to get out there – stupid red line delays.) But I was determined.

Fresh air helped a bit, once we finally arrived. And there was no way I was sitting out while everyone else ran. (Way to go, pride. Thanks for that one.) And actually, I felt surprisingly good for the first half of the race.

Around the 2.5 mile mark, though, I felt it again.

Around the 3 mile mark, I promptly threw up a little bit in my mouth.

RunPukeRun

You’d think, after that, I would stop. You’d also be wrong.

I continued to spit my way through the course and chug water at each station. And finally, finally, I could see the bright lights at the finish line. So I sprinted. I was flying and it felt fantastic.

Right up until I crossed the finish line and booted on the pavement.

There were so many people that I couldn’t even get off to the side for the first round of vomiting. The volunteer firefighters who were on call for emergencies just stared at me, as I purged my dinner (and probably my lunch), as they took a tiny step back to avoid the splatter effect.

pukymcpukerson

For round two, I successfully made it around the fencing, and into a trash can, and was finally given a bottle of water and some Gatorade – as well as concerned looks, and offers to lie down in the medical tent.

But, the worst part of the entire ordeal was this: I made a point of crossing the finish line before I really let go and let my stomach do its thing – and the sensors didn’t even pick up my time! According to the results page, it’s like I wasn’t even there!

What a load of crap.

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The other week, things were kind of slow at work. And by slow, I mean I was able to read all the blogs in my reader, gchat, complete some ken-ken puzzles, mindlessly peruse the web and still have time to spare before 5pm. Then a friend sent me this link, with this challenge:

Can you name the most commonly used words in the English language?

commonestenglishwords

And, because I am a dork at my core, I had to test it out. Go ahead, you know you want to. Naming all 100 in just twelve minutes is a lot harder than you might think.

But wait, there’s more.

There are time-wasters name-that-blank tests for everything you can imagine. I did, to name a few, NFL teams, MLB teams, Disney villains, Pixar movies, and European countries. (Side note: I could use a refresher course in geography, but I’m solid on Disney. What does that say?)

Now, I realize that many of you may be Very Important, and not have time to participate in silly games. And that’s too bad. But I also know that everyone needs a break from Real Work from time to time, so I’m sharing. Because I’m a giver. So pick your favorite, and see how many whatever-they-ask-fors you can name in the time given, and by all means, share with the group.

You won’t be sorry.

Unless your boss catches you.

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My plan last night was to come home, have a quick dinner, and go for a run while it was still light outside. And then, around 7pm, I started playing with my new Nintendo DSi, courtesy of Lilu‘s party that Marie blogged about yesterdayBrand About Town‘s Girlfriend’s Guide to Gaming party.

Before I knew it, it was almost 9pm and I was still bent over the little device, trying to get to the next level of Dr. Mario. God help me when I finally get more games on this thing; someone might have to stage an intervention. For instance, if I were to get Mario Kart…

As Marie mentioned yesterday, four of us were able to race against each other, using the wireless connection of the DSi.

mariokart

Do you see how intent we all are? That’s because racing games require certain levels of concentration and determination if you want to win. And, of course, I wanted to win.

I mean…um, it’s just a game…it’s fun…it doesn’t matter if you win or lose…

Right.

Anyway, playing Mario Kart was a definite throwback to childhood.  My brother and I used to race each other in one of the earlier versions, him as Yoshi or the little Mushroom guy, me as the Princess (surprised?), each trying to knock each other off the course. (Rainbow Road was the most treacherous, due to lack of barriers.) Or throwing turtle shells at each other while in Battle Mode. Or planting banana peels for the other to slip on. You get the idea.

Princess-Peach-mario-kart

It may be hard to believe, but I’m a pretty competitive person. I don’t like to lose, and so, I try to avoid it at all costs. Which means that when I’m racing, I go all out. I’m not just holding down the buttons and toggling left or right. I’m turning the entire remote, and my body, while I’m at it, convinced that it’ll get me around the curve faster. In an effort to catch up with someone, I’ve been known to lean forward, and jab the remote toward the screen.

Don’t tell me that it doesn’t work.

I used to think that video games were something that you grew out of. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.

So, who wants to play?

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Well, I did it. I went to see Harry Potter this past weekend.

harrypotterhalfblood

I went to a 5:30  showing on Friday, totally underestimating the number of people who also had summer hours. But, despite the packed theater, there weren’t very many children – no one under 13 that I could see. Except for the little boy, two seats to my right. “Little” as in 5 or 6 years old. As in, he couldn’t sit through the previews without listening to his mom’s iPod. As soon as I saw that, I had misgivings about spending the next two and a half hours next to them, but by then it was too late. My only other option was to sit all the way up front and risk straining my neck.

In hindsight, that may have been the better choice.

First of all, there was the mom. Apparently she had some very important business to attend to, because her phone was buzzing like crazy. I would hear the buzz, see the screen light up as she checked the text, then hear tap tap tap as she replied.

Once? Okay. Annoying, but I can deal. Consistently tap tap tapping for the entire movie? Get the hell out of the theater. I saw the screen light up with an incoming call at one point, and I swear she contemplated answering it.

If only...

When she took her son out of the theater, about half way through the film, I breathed a sigh of relief. But then, they returned; he was crying, she was frustrated. Call me crazy, but usually you take a crying child out of the theater. You don’t bring him back, still in tears. But what do I know? I’m no parent.

I had initially been skeptical about this kid watching the movie considering that, even though it was rated PG, it had some intense and possibly nightmare-inducing scenes (especially if you’re still at the age where you use a night-light). Apparently, that wasn’t an issue, because he got bored with Harry Potter and demanded (in an outside voice) the iPod back, in order to watch a different movie on there.

It’s times like those that I wish I were a confrontational person. I wish that I’d had the guts to actually say something, instead of shooting death stares to my right, every time another electronic lit up and clicked. I rationalized that 1) to say something would have made even more noise,  and 2) if the mom got feisty (which looked like a possibility), there was nowhere for me to move.

But honestly, if I can pull myself away from my Blackberry for two and a half hours, lady, I’m pretty sure you can do the same.

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I’m a little bit confused – and it has to do with Facebook.

See, when I first signed up, many moons ago (fine, five years – I don’t know how many moons that is), it was limited to college students. It was very basic – no crazy bells and whistles, and not nearly as much advertising of your personal life. But, even if we were (too) open, it was still limited to our peers.

Then, Facebook eventually opened up, and I began to get friend requests from old campers of mine – who were still in high school. And then came the parents, reuniting with their old high school/college friends and friending their children. I don’t have a problem with being friends with both of my parents on Facebook. (Yes, both of them. My dad shocked everyone when he figured it out all by himself – and even posted a profile picture.)

That's him on the right - 60+ years ago...

That's him on the right - 60+ years ago...

Anyway, they’re more than welcome to look at my photos with the understanding that if there’s something they don’t like, there’s really not a whole lot they can say. Because I am an adult (for all intents and purposes [side note: for the longest time, I thought it was “all intensive purposes.” Oops.]).

BUT, I keep thinking – if I were still underage and friends with my parents? I would be a lot more careful with what photos I put up, what I made public and what my status updates were. Which is why it surprised me when I saw the status update of my 20-year-old niece:

stupid stupid stupid underage consumption while being in the passanger seat kiss my ass!” (Yes, the misspelling bothers me.)

1) I know you’re friends with your mom. Did you tell her before she saw your status?

2) When did it become normal to post run-ins with the law, however minor they might be? Hers is not the first I’ve seen. When my friends and I were younger, getting an underage was something we talked about amongst ourselves at the lunch table, not broadcasted in a public forum.

3) Does this just mean that I’m getting old?

misusing_slang

Listen, I like Facebook as much as the next person, but you can bet that if I ever get arrested (God forbid), I will NOT be writing about it on my wall.

A blog post, however, is a different story…

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narcissism2

I posted that article, by Wendy Atterberry, on my gchat the other day, just for kicks, but was pleasantly surprised with the reactions it got. The gist of it is this:

Some people say today’s twentysomethings are delaying marriage to focus on careers and build close friendships instead, but another explanation paints a less flattering picture of young people.

Apparently, they’re all just a bunch of narcissists. In an article on The Daily Beast this week, writer Hannah Seligson, explores this theory, writing: “narcissism, even in small doses, has shifted courtship into a high-stakes relationship culture.

Now that people think more highly of themselves, expectations of what a relationship should be like have skyrocketed into the realm of superlatives.

Twentysomethings not only expect to waltz into high-level career positions right out of college, they also expect partners who have the moral fortitude of Nelson Mandela, the comedic timing of Stephen Colbert, the abs of Hugh Jackman, and the hair of Patrick Dempsey.”

You mean that’s not realistic? I’m shocked.

One guy friend told me, “I just know a number of girls who think they deserve the world and no one but a movie star is good enough.

Another told me, “It’s not just girls; guys do it, too.”

narcissistic

And I think that they’re both right. Along with being a more narcissistic generation (as a broad generalization, sure), we’ve also lost the art of compromise. That’s not to say that we should compromise on everything, of course. And the issues we choose to be flexible on change from person to person. The point is that there has to be at least some give and take.

No compromising in a relationship is bad enough. It can lead to loneliness and/or endless fighting (perhaps the other way around). But if we get into the “me first” mindset and eventually take it to a societal level, we’re creating an “every man for himself” community. Even I’m not cynical enough, yet, to think that’s the way to go.

Atterberry suggests that twentysomethings can grow out of this narcissistic nature, that it just takes time and experience. But more than anything, I’m curious what you all think: Are we, as a generation, too narcissistic to be (or remain) happily coupled up? Or is it all just a phase we’ll grow out of?

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While watching the MLB All-Star game last night, something began to bother me. It wasn’t the fact that there are so many attractive American League players that I never knew about. (I’m a Phillies fan through and through, but a girl’s gotta keep her options open.) It wasn’t even the fact that when Obama threw out the first pitch, you could tell that his jeans weren’t the most flattering cut for his usually cute butt. (Where were you on that one, Michelle?)

It was, however, all the talk of trades – particularly intra-league ones.

BoysBaseball

I’m not a total purist; I know that professional sports are as much business as they are love of the game. But I have a hard time understanding how it can be so easy to bounce from one city – one team – to another. If you play somewhere long enough, doesn’t that become a home of sorts? You inherit the good, the bad, and the rivalries.

Take, for instance, Johnny Damon. He played four years with the Boston Red Sox and was key in the 2004 ALCS win over the Yankees. Anyone that remembers that series remembers how intense it was. It was arguably more exciting than the World Series that year. And yet, two years later, he gets traded…to the Yankees? Is it that easy to switch allegiances?

johnnydamon

In a similar intra-division trade, the Phillies will soon be acquiring Pedro Martinez of the New York Mets. The Phillies will be acquiring a Mets player. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with making the team better. I’d love the chance to chalk up another World Series win in my lifetime. I just don’t see how you can give your heart and soul to one city, then take it back, turn around, and give it to the so-called enemy.

If nothing else, think of the fans. Do you know how hard it is to start rooting for someone who you’ve spent so much time booing? You feel like a hypocrite. Though, I suppose, if I were paid a multi-million dollar salary, too, it might be easier than I imagine.

Shall we test that theory? Who do I call about this?

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mamieandpoppop

Dear Poppop,

Happy Birthday! I know it’s been over ten years, but I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently.

I don’t know if you knew this then (though I’m sure you do now), but you were my favorite. I never really said it out loud because, well, I felt like choosing a favorite grandparent was akin to a parent choosing a favorite child. We all know it happens, but you’re not supposed to admit it. I always secretly thought that maybe I was your favorite, too – or, at the very least, that we had a special bond – maybe because I was your only granddaughter.

You were the one who taught me all those old barbershop quartet songs, that I now sing to the kids I babysit. The first one to try to teach me an instrument – though, to be fair, the ukulele is a hard place for a child to start. I wonder if you knew how much I wanted to impress you. I tried to play; I sang my heart out; I memorized poems that you liked, just to be able to recite them to you. And I loved every minute of it.

The other day, I was walking by the World War II Memorial, here in D.C. It may just be the new kid on the block as far as memorials go, but it’s also one of my favorites.

IMG_0197

There are benches there that list the different branches of the armed forces, and the side labeled “Merchant Marines” caught my eye. I noticed it because, though I recognized the title, I didn’t know nearly as much about it as I should. I didn’t find out until far too late that you had been a Merchant Marine; I didn’t know that you had served in World War II until I could no longer ask you about it.

I’ve realized that there’s so much I never got a chance to talk to you about; there are so many stories of yours that I never got to hear. And I’ve done a lot of growing up, myself, since you saw me last.

But there’s still a little part of me that desperately wants to impress you.

Happy Birthday, Poppop. Miss you.

Love,

Liebchen

A haze on the far horizon

The infinite tender sky

The rich, ripe tint of the cornfields

With wild geese sailing high

All over upland and lowland

The charm of the golden-rod

Some of us call it Autumn

Others call it God

~one of Poppop’s favorites, and one of the first that I remember him teaching me

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I resisted Harry Potter for a long time. The first book came out in 1998, but the series wasn’t on my radar for another two years or so. One night, I was babysitting the kids next door and they started to rave about it. Given that they were all in elementary school at the time, I chalked it up to a good way to keep kids interested in reading, but figured it wasn’t for me. I mean, a boy wizard? A whole other magical world? Muggles? Don’t be ridiculous.

Then, in the fall of 2000, I was on a plane to California for a cousin’s wedding and I realized that I had forgotten to pack reading material for the six hour flight. Fail. My mother saw this as her golden opportunity to force Harry Potter on me, as she’d been swept away by the stories, as well. After just a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was hooked. In a way, I felt lucky that I’d started the series later, because by that point the first four books had already been published. I could tear through them without waiting impatiently for the continuation of the story. Waiting is torture when you’re so engrossed in a plot – as I found out during the time between the fifth, sixth, and seventh installments.

Ron might be my favorite...look at that face.

Ron might be my favorite...look at that face.

I distinctly remember reading the fifth book on the beach; the sixth on a plane; and the seventh book over the course of about eight hours – all of them within a day or two of being published. And when the movies started coming out? I can’t begin to explain how excited I was. (I may or may not have seen the first one on opening night.)

But I confess: while I continue to be able to read the books over and over (and over) again, the movies have started to leave me slightly disappointed. I understand that it got harder and harder to fit everything into two hours – or even three – which is part of the reason why movie number seven is rumored to be released in two parts. But I cannot understand why it’s necessary to change the sequence of events or who said certain key lines. And there was something about the last movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, that just felt off. I left the theater upset because my expectations were unmet and frustrated that the directors couldn’t see that they hadn’t stayed true enough to the original story.

I fear that the next movie, which comes out on Wednesday, will be another source of disappointment. I will see it. Don’t get me wrong. The trailers look phenomenal.

But I’m almost afraid to be even cautiously optimistic; I’m just plain cautious.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t want to be pleasantly surprised. Plus, I still kind of wish that I could Apparate.

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