Archive for May, 2011

When we were younger, we had a slew of tricks that we would use to try to impress the other neighborhood kids. They all centered around the illusion that we could read minds, and I was reminded of one in particular while on a run the other day.

We would explain to our willing participant, “Without you telling me, I can tell you whether or not you like butter.” And then we’d hold a buttercup under their chin, see the yellow reflection, and proudly declare, as though we’d just discovered the most fascinating secret in the world, “You do! You like butter!

And the audience was amazed.

But as I ran by the buttercups the other day, and thought about this “trick” that I hadn’t thought of in ages, I had to laugh at how absurd we were.

Because, let’s be honest: who doesn’t like butter? And, more specifically, what kid doesn’t like it?

On the one hand, you could think, wow, kids are so gullible. But on the other, we were also so open to being amazed and that’s what made it fun – and magical.

So I’ll keep those little tricks up my sleeve and eventually teach them to my children. Maybe they’ll run and show their friends, or maybe they’ll roll their eyes at how corny their mom is being. But either way, I’ll have fun with it.

And I’ll think about how simple but fun those childhood games were every time I run past the buttercups.

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I don’t have the arm strength,” I said. “And I can’t aim my hit.

Excuses excuses.

Since last year (really, since I joined the team), I’ve been trying to hit a home run. I can get on base, and I’ve even had extra-base hits. But that home run was proving to be annoyingly elusive.

The boyfriend-now-fiance (BNF) advised that I should try hitting to right field, because I’d have a better shot that way (even though, as I mentioned, I can’t aim). So yesterday during warm-up, I took a few hits and aimed as best I could. I hit a soft shot out that way and told DVo, the pitcher, “That’s where I’m going to have to hit my home run, if I have any shot at getting it.

And then came our first at bats.

As soon as I made contact I knew I had an extra-base hit. And once I stepped on second, and saw my base coaches waving me on, I felt the grin overpower my face and I knew I’d make it home. Even if I had to pummel the catcher to be safe (which I didn’t).

In fact, all the way down the third base line I was yelling, “I got my home run!” and practically skipping onto home.

First at bat of the game. First home run ever. And our first win of the season. It’s kind of like the runner’s high – lasting longer than I ever expected.

And now, as Memo said, I don’t have any excuses for not finishing my 25 list in full.

So does driving up to Baltimore this weekend count as a road trip?

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I promised that I’d get to it eventually. I’ve been on another type of adrenaline high for the week, so jumping out of a plane just didn’t seem to be that big of a deal.

Okay. I’m lying. Still kind of awesome.

I’ve wanted to jump since I turned 18, but I never could find both willing companions and the funds at the same time.

So when I saw the Living Social coupon announcing that the jump would be about half its original price, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. And, of course, at that price, I managed to rope a couple friends into it with me.

When we got to the field in the middle of nowhere (Virginia), I started to question my sanity. All I saw were a few barn-esque buildings, and two (what seemed like) toy planes. There’s no way we’re going up in those, I thought. They must be used for something else. And I looked around in search of the real plane from which I’d be jumping.

We got all harness-ed up, practiced our arch-kick technique, and then we waited.

"Show me your tough face!"

The waiting was the worst. We had no idea when it was going to be our turn, who our tandem jumper was going to be, or if we’d be the unlucky jumper who landed in the tree. One of the instructors, Captain America, seemed like a showboat, and neither LT nor I were really keen on having him.

Which means, of course, that he was mine.

Captain America would probably describe himself as a funny guy. But not even his jokes that it was only his second day jumping could distract me as we took off in a plane that felt like it could fit in my apartment.

I was the lucky little duck sitting right next to the pilot, who leaned over and pointed to something right by my leg: “This is my fuel gauge. Don’t touch it.

Awesome. Because there’s just so much room to maneuver in here.

But that anxiety, not even fear, but just genuine nervousness, all stayed on the plane. When Captain America took me out on the ledge and we began our freefall, I felt like I was on the best roller coaster ride of my life…but better.

I was screaming out of excitement. I couldn’t believe the literal rush I felt hurtling through the air. And when the parachute opened, I could only gasp, “Oh my god…” several dozen times.

The float down was peaceful. I could see everything in every direction and I felt like I could float there forever.

After we finally slid in for the landing, Captain America asked me if I’d do it again.

My answer?

In a heartbeat.

But maybe I won’t sit next to the fuel gauge next time. Way too much pressure.

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In one month I will be 26 years old.

That means I have 31 more days to:

– volunteer

– hit a home run

– read 693 pages, in order to finish all my books

– renew my Chinese

– go on a road trip

– rent a car

There are others that I haven’t checked off the list yet, true, but the above are the ones that I’m really not sure I’ll manage.

Home runs are hard, and everything else takes time that I don’t really have. The weekends between now and my birthday? I’m out of town for every one of them.

Yes, I know I made this list a year ago. And you’d think I’d have had time in a year. Funny how that happens.

So I guess a few things will just have to get pushed to the 26 list. Because, yes, there will be a 26 list. Doing this little experiment just confirmed for me how much I love checking things off.

There’s a feeling of accomplishment, even if it’s something as simple as riding a bike (without getting hit by a car).

That said, in this last month, I’d still like to check a few more things off. So if you’d like to speak Chinese with me on a road trip (in a rental car) to do some destination volunteering, I’m all ears.

Any takers?


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You would think that in a weekend in which I went skydiving, that that would be the most exhilarating event of the weekend.

You would think.

But this weekend you would be wrong.

Skydiving was a rush. That’s no surprise. And I’ll devote a whole post to it later this week – complete with photos. But skydiving was on Saturday, and something much more exciting happened Sunday morning.

It started out with the plan to do a long run with the boyfriend – down Rock Creek to the Lincoln Memorial and along the Mall. It was a gorgeous day, if a little bit warm, but we had a great few miles from home through the park. As we were nearing the back of Lincoln Memorial, however, we realized that we had not anticipated this heat and a brief break was in order.

We stopped at the top of the steps overlooking the Potomac and I played photographer again (trying to get a good angle like the boyfriend always does), with moderate success.

As we were preparing to continue on, and pick up some water, the boyfriend paused and told me, “I’m so glad that we can run together. I love that we can do this.

I agreed, of course, not knowing where this was coming from, and then came the rush.

He got down on one knee and asked me to spend my life with him. He pulled out the ring that he’d had tucked in the pocket of his running shorts and presented it, as I tried to pick my jaw up off the ground and gather myself enough to say, “Yes! Of course!

With the ring newly on my finger (and my happy tears mostly dried), we went to celebrate at brunch with RB, LB, K, and E. And then came the next surprise.

All during the cab ride I’d been trying to call Mama to tell her the good news, and she wasn’t answering her phone. I said to the boyfriend (now fiance), “I can’t call anyone else before I talk to my mom! Why isn’t she answering?

And then I walked into the restaurant and saw Mama, Daddy, and some of my best friends (including Cla – who had helped the fiance plan and execute), and I burst into tears once again.

Skydiving was a rush, for sure, but Sunday, May 8, was infinitely better.

A: Jumping out of a plane’s got nothing on simply saying yes.

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I heard an ad on my Pandora station that said, “Mother’s Day isn’t about celebrating mothers; it’s about celebrating all that your mother has given you.

And while I think I understand the idea behind the line, I respectfully disagree. Mother’s Day is about celebrating your mother. Sure, part of it may be what she’s done for you, but it’s also about what she does for her and who she is.

You celebrate her for…

…being an amazing role model

…her dedication to her own goals, as well as yours

…putting up with your phone calls while you’re driving, even though you know she doesn’t like it

…being as non-judgmental as possible, even when you tell her something that you’d judge if it were anyone else

…being incredibly supportive

…giving the best advice

…wearing the same size as you do, because closet-shopping during trips home is both fun and cheap

Mama and me circa 1992 - in homemade dresses, no less

…always sending something for the little holidays, just so you still get a taste of home

…having a more vibrant social life than you do (even if the night starts at 4:30 and ends after the NCIS reruns are over)

…living a life that you’re proud to aspire to

…being happy

People have extended their birthdays into birthday weekends, weeks, and months. And yet, we give moms a day.

Sure, that totally seems adequate.

So this time, Mama, and from now on, the parade is for you.

I’ll even let you wave the flag and wear the hat.

I hope you know how much I love you, appreciate you, and want to be like you. Not just this Sunday, this weekend, or this month, but every single day.

And if I call too much? It’s just because I want you to be sure of all of that.

I love you, Mama. Happy Mother’s Day Weekend.

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I have officially completed my first year of grad school.

Okay, so maybe it’s not official until the grades are in, but everything on my end is finished as of 9am this morning.

And it feels fantastic.

There were points when I thought I was going to go crazy, holed up in the library or the computer lab on these gorgeous, sunny spring days. But this one particular video always kept me smiling – and sometimes dancing in my seat:

Trust me, it’s a lot more fun to write about political risk and conflict resolution when you’re watching a Marine shake it to Britney.

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

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