Archive for June, 2011

Go, go, Jason Waterfalls…

I’ll beam you up; I ain’t going nowhere…

The incinerator, put it all together…

Words are hard for some people.

And sometimes you sing a song one way for so long, that the right way just sounds wrong.

Take the incinerator song, for instance. I’ve been singing about the incinerator since high school.

No, it didn’t make much sense, but I kind of brushed it off as “those creative types who write weird lyrics that I don’t understand.” It wasn’t until recently (with in the past few years) that I realized that “incinerator” was actually “Cinderella.”

I still like my version better.

When you add into the equation the fact that I don’t buy CDs anymore (and therefore don’t read/memorize the lyrics in the jacket), it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’m singing something wrong at any given time.

Sometimes it’s more fun that way.

And sometimes, you can be singing something right the whole time, but as soon as you hear someone else’s version, you can’t get it out of your head.

In high school, my brother and I worked at the same market and therefore were privy to the same continuous loop of “classic soft rock.” On one particularly long day, he heard me singing along to the classic “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” And as I sang the chorus he looked at me in confusion.

Why did you sing, ‘secondhand emotion’?

Because that’s how the song goes.

Oh. That’s not at all what I thought it was.

What did you think?

I thought she was saying, ‘what’s love, but a sexy man in motion…,’ and I thought, I guess that makes sense for her.

When you think about it, he has a point.

And now I can’t hear the song any other way.

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I was inspired last week after reading this post and realized that I, too, wanted to get back in touch with my inner eight-year-old.

I also realized that it’s probably not too hard.

1) Next time it rains (warm rain, of course), go outside. Splash in the puddles. Take a friend and see who can make the bigger splash. But mostly just revel in the storm.

2) On a non-rainy night go to a park and catch lightning bugs. You don’t have to put them in a jar or anything, but the simple act of chasing and catching is enough to transport you back.

3) Find a hammock. Lie in it. Don’t get up until you absolutely have to. Invite people to join you, if you feel so inclined. (Okay – this one may be harder in a city. Maybe see if there’s a tester at Target?)

4) Run through sprinklers. On a walk to Union Station from the ballpark recently we passed an entire lawn full, and I was sorely tempted. I was, however, being too much of a grownup.

5) Do arts & crafts. For no better reason than spending time with your friends. (I’d add the free food and drink, but that’s not really child-friendly.)

6) Ride bikes. Race a friend or go on an adventure. But while you’re riding, remember how cool your bike used to look with its streamers and spoke decorations.

7) Have bubble blowing contests and see who can make it the biggest – and who ends up with gum on their face. Added bonus: if you can track down Bazooka Joe bubble gum, you get a little comic with your treat.

8 ) For that matter, play with actual soap bubbles. Do it in the park or, at the very least, in the sink while you’re washing dishes. Trust me – it makes that chore more fun.

I’m sure I’m missing things, but maybe I’ll be re-inspired after volunteering with kids tonight.

They always have the best ideas.

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There are certain things that are frowned upon doing outside of your own home (or the home of your close friends or family). These things include (but are not limited to) walking around in your underwear (or less), burping so loud the walls shake, or hanging on to your own boobs (stay with me here).

There are ways, however, to sometimes get around the usual etiquette.

  • Maybe when you let out a burp that would embarrass your mother and make your father proud and you’re in the middle of a crowded Blockbuster, you can blame it on your younger brother. Because that’s what younger brothers are for.

But I’m still not sure on the boob hold.

Listen, before you think I’m too weird, it’s not like that. More often than not I’m just sitting there, unsure what to do with my hands if I’m not holding my iPhone or the remote (ha! just kidding – I never get the remote!), and that natural built-in ledge just seems like the perfect place to put them.

I realized it had gotten bad, though, when we were at a friend’s apartment and I did it out of habit while he gave me a quizzical look. BNF started looking at me, too, and it dawned on me: “I completely forgot I wasn’t at home,” I told them. “I forgot where I was.

RB didn’t really care – that’s how you can tell close friends – but I became hyper aware of this little tic.

The last thing I need is to be sitting in a staff meeting, holding my own chest.

On the one hand, this is a great excuse to take my iPhone everywhere I go.

On the other, I never want to have to explain that to El Jefe.

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I was sitting in the lobby of my doctor’s office on Wednesday, waiting for my physical therapist to call me back. As I was waiting, playing Words With Friends, naturally, a little girl bounded into the room with her dad, who had obviously just gone through therapy.

She said hello to everyone, told them all that she was five years old, and didn’t have to tell anyone that she was just a naturally happy child.

And then she came over and said hi to me.

Her dad stepped out to change, telling her she could talk to whoever she wanted (which, admittedly, surprised me a little), and she kept right on talking to me.

I learned that she’s an artist. She’s a singer. She’s a designer. And she doesn’t know which one she’s best at because she’s so good at all of them. But designing is her favorite.

And then she walked over to her bag and pulled out something that she’d made.

This is for you,” she said.

Are you sure?” I asked her. “Don’t you and your daddy want to keep it?”

No. It’s for you.

Okay – tell me about it.”

And she pointed to each of the three people, telling me about them. That’s her, all the way on the right, with the very pretty bow in her hair. That’s me, in the middle, with the awesome blue pigtails. And that’s mommy on the left, holding a brush, because mommy brushes everyone’s hair.

Then she signed it, so I have a Naomi original.

Impromptu gifts from children are heartwarming because you know that they mean it. They’re still genuine in their intentions because they haven’t learned how not to be. And they still talk to everyone around them, because they believe in the goodness of people and haven’t had to learn that sometimes stranger equals danger.

It kind of makes me want to be five years old again – or at least act like it.

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So far, 26 has started off slightly more hectic than 25 did. Between physical therapy (for my knee this time), a busy work schedule, and travel prep for the wedding where I’ll be wearing this, I hardly had time to finish my 26 list! (I know, I know – a true tragedy.)

But here it is, in all its glory, ready to be checked off.

1) Learn how to shoot a gun.

2) Graduate! (Again, this is something that should take care of itself.)

3) Become a Marathon Maniac.

4) Practice Spanish enough that I don’t have to ask BNF’s family to hablar mas lentamente, por favor.

5) Plan the better part of a wedding (my own, this time!).

6) Visit friends in Colorado.

7) Go to a Phillies playoff game. (This is assuming they make the playoffs, of course.)

8 ) Leave the country (and come back – probably).

9) Seriously: learn how to change a tire. And PRACTICE.

10) Get another tattoo.

11) Donate to a charity every month. I haven’t yet decided if it’ll be 12 different ones, but I really liked Alice’s idea.

12) Read more. Granted, I couldn’t finish seven books that I’d already started in the past year, but I’d like to dream big and set the bar at 10 new books this year. (Not including reading for school.) I’m starting with Seabiscuit.

13) Go on a Duck Tour!

14) Do some “spring cleaning” every other month (or so) and donate the casualties (instead of putting them in the hall of our apartment building with a sign that says “free.”)

15) Acquire a taste for scotch on the rocks.

16) Hit a marathon time between 4:45 and 4:50. (This is most definitely a stretch.)

17) Be slow to judgment.

18) Let go of old grudges.

19) Not turn into a bridezilla.

20) Learn to play golf not of the putt-putt variety – or at least go to a driving range.

21) Keep track of all the restaurants I say I want to go to and actually try them. (Recommendations welcome.)

22) Use my future mother-in-law’s recipe to make empanadas and orange chicken that would make her proud.

23) See the final Harry Potter movie – and try not to complain about how it’s not completely accurate. (Seriously, though, there is no point where Harry grabs Voldemort and falls over the edge of the building with him. Just for the record.)

24) Complete my DC list (minus the segway tour). I’ve already checked off Ben’s!

25) Take a little more pride in my personal appearance. I’m too old to continuously leave the house with wet hair and to not own a curling iron.

26) Minimize job complaints. To stop them completely would be unrealistic, but over-complaining is (no longer) productive. (This one might also be a stretch.)

Feel free to leave feedback, critiques, or what have you. Or just shake your head at my affinity for lists.

That’s also fair.

I’ll be back on Monday, complete with stories of this upcoming wedding – which is sure to be nothing less than entertaining.

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Let’s get the un-accomplished out of the way first.

Thanks for the tip, Foggy!

4) I’m not finishing Catch-22. And, let me be honest, I have no desire to. But finishing 6/7 books (I will finish One Hundred Years of Solitude by tomorrow), is still pretty damn good.

8 ) I learned what I’m supposed to do to change a tire, but I didn’t actually practice. So who knows if I could do it in an emergency. I did, however, learn how to check the oil, so that’s a step in the right direction.

10) I can say more than those three phrases in Chinese. And I can even write out some of the characters. But hold a conversation? Not a chance.

14) This is a tricky one. I did get a raise. But a title promotion is a little further away. I did, however, learn that I’m on the right track and that it’s possible (though not probable) that I could get the promotion before graduating. So there’s that.

24) I didn’t rent a car. I tried to convince BNF a couple times that it’d be a good idea, to no avail. And that was also in part because he doesn’t like it when (and how) I drive.

Now, for the ones I did, but didn’t blog about:

13) I was ridiculously proud of myself for being more outgoing. I organized study groups, made friends, introduced myself to new people at grad school and just generally took myself out of my comfort zone. It’s still not easy, but I like this more social me.

16) I went to New York! Saw friends! And have more trips planned for the future! But more than just going up to visit, I feel like I kept in better touch with friends who live there. And I think that was half the goal of this one.

17) Going on a road trip – what even counts as a road trip anyway? Well, I made the list, so I’m going to say that I make the rules. We drove up to New York; we’ve driven up to Philly multiple times; and we even threw a trip up to Baltimore in there. Maybe road trips should be more spontaneous, but frankly, our schedule this past year didn’t really allow for spontaneity. Maybe we can plan for that this year.

18) I cooked! A lot! And it’ll only get better/more inventive in the summer.

19) I didn’t play pool often, but I was able to move the balls while breaking. It’s a step in the right direction.

22) I found a church! Even if some of the members are a little odd

The “life goal” of meeting a Phillies player is still unfulfilled. But I’ve got time. And some of the other unaccomplished will be added to my next list. (Because you knew there had to be another one.)

Bottom line: 20/25 – and, even with the failures, a feeling of accomplishment.

I’ll allow it.

26 – bring it on.

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One of the best things about having visitors in DC is that it gives you the chance to play tourist, when you might not usually do so. I’ve been keeping a list (shocking) of touristy things I’d like to do for some time.

Now all I need are the visitors.

I would…

…do a segway tour. (But I’d also wear a disguise so no one recognized me.)

…go to the top of the Washington Monument and appreciate the view.

…take a pedicab tour around the monuments at night.

…visit the Museum of American History (even if it is “America’s attic”) and finally see Dorothy’s ruby slippers (which I’ve been trying to do since 5th grade).

…while we’re at it, visit the National Portrait Gallery.

…take a tour of the White House.

…cruise around the Tidal Basin on paddle boats.

…go on a Duck Tour!

…visit the Library of Congress.

I realize that I could do a lot of those things on my own. And maybe I will. But I also have a few quintessential DC things that I’d like to check off first.

I’ve lived here for nearly four years and have never…

…gone to jazz in the garden.

…eaten at Ben’s Chili Bowl.

…gone to a DC United game (though I have been to RFK for an MLS game). (Added bonus: Santino Quaranta. Rawr.)

…been to Arlington National Cemetery.

I’m sure there are things that I’m missing, both for my tourist list and my resident one, but I think this is a good start for summer fun.

Though, perhaps it’s lists like these that make my parents never want to visit me.

What would you add?

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There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities in the DC area. In fact, ever since I’d set volunteering as one of my 25 goals, I seemed to hear more and more about awesome ways to get involved.

Except – I always seemed to hear about them after the fact. And that wasn’t too helpful in checking this off my list.

Then the BNF* found a website that consolidated all of these opportunities into one place:

Greater DC Cares

All of a sudden I had all of these events at my fingertips. I could plan months in advance and pick whatever I wanted!

But I didn’t.

I would look at my favorites, realize that they were all on days that I was out of town (because, let’s face it, my weekends in DC have been few and far between), and I’d get discouraged. I don’t want to volunteer just to volunteer, I thought, I want to volunteer doing something that I want to do.

(I almost didn’t type that out because I know how bratty it sounds.)

I came to the realization in the past few weeks that sure, volunteering can be something I enjoy, but I’m also doing it for a reason. It is necessary and helpful and appreciated. And that was all reaffirmed last night.

The fact that my birthday is less than two weeks away has lit a fire under my ass, so to speak, and I signed up to help tutor Spanish speakers in English, unsure if there was a set curriculum or structure, and hoping that my tutoring skills were up to snuff.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to worry. The structure was loose, but it worked. I partnered with a guy, probably around my age, from El Salvador, and we reviewed vocabulary as well as just practicing speaking. It was just like high school Spanish class, but in reverse because I wasn’t the one struggling to express myself in a foreign language.

Overall, the experience was great, and the hour of volunteering just flew by.

Being able to check something off my list is great, of course, but this is something that I can see myself doing list or no list. And I can’t wait to see what else Greater DC Cares has to offer.

Honestly, if you’re looking to get involved, I highly recommend it.

*BNF=boyfriend-now-fiance, but when I wrote it it reminded me of BFG, and I got sidetracked thinking about how much I loved that book – and the movie. Trains of thought are fun.

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