"The Power of a Handwritten Note"

Buried amongst all of the ridiculously insane amount of junk mail that fill my email inbox, I found this email that coincides perfectly with my post from Monday. It came to me from LearnVest, a Website filled with interesting, practical and, dare I say, fun financial tips and advice. Their solid information flows over into "all topics," and I have found their articles to be worth receiving on a daily basis. (See: you can sign up for a daily dose of their antidotes delivered to your inbox.) Here are their tips on personal handwritten notes:

The Power of the Handwritten Note: From Thank You Notes To Condolences

Remember how exciting it was to get mail when you were a little kid? That feeling doesn’t change as you get older. If you want to make someone feel special, put it in writing. This holiday season, when you want to recognize someone—or need to thank someone who gave you a gift—remember that handwritten words are worth a thousand, well, you know.
Whether you want to show someone you care, want to thank someone who’s helped you out in the past, or want to be remembered by someone you met while networking at holiday parties, the receiver will appreciate the effort. And you? You’re all class.
Put The “Person” In “Personal.”
Sometimes an email or a text is totally appropriate, but in professional situations and those where you have something more substantial to express, we recommend going the handwritten route. Here are a few examples of when we suggest putting pen to paper:
* Thank those you spoke with during job interviews.
* Got a raise or promotion? Show your boss that you appreciate his or her effort on your behalf.
* A close friend’s grandmother passed away and you’re not sure what to say, but you can offer heartfelt sympathy in writing.
* You see that your favorite professor from college won a major award; handwritten congratulations are in order.
* You goofed, big time, and forgot your Aunt Wendy’s birthday – send her a letter.
Be Specific and Sincere.
Whether you forgot an occasion, or want to send a note of congrats or thanks, it’s never too late. Even after the fact, your recipient will appreciate that you’re thinking of her. Make sure your message is well-written and expresses exactly what you want to say. If you’re unsure, feel free to type it out on your computer first or use scratch paper until you get it right.
The Anatomy of The Perfect Note.
Longer isn’t better. A brief, to-the-point message is often more poignant than the longest of letters. Be as specific as possible. Instead of talking around the fact that you’re thankful, state clearly what you’re grateful for (even if the answer is that you’re grateful for the person’s friendship and want to wish him or her happy holidays). Aim to include at least one particular example of why you’re grateful, why you value the person as much as you do, what you spoke about at your job interview, etc. The more personalized, the better—the last thing you want is for the recipient to think that you’re jotting out similar, generic notes to a bunch of different people.
Send Smart, Save More.
Fancy stationery can get expensive, but you don’t need the triple-weight ecru to convey your personal message. In general, we recommend choosing something simple and elegant that would be appropriate for any occasion. There are so many gorgeous choices available when it comes to stationery that it’s hard to choose just one. We could only narrow it down to five, so click through our slide show to check out our favorites, then gather your goods and start writing.

Reindeer Games

Over the weekend we had our "family dinner" Yuledtide Potluck. There isn't a whole lot of genetic family that participates in our attempted weekly family dinners, but as Mark says, our chosen family. You know the ones -- everybody has an aunt or uncle that really isn't such. I imagine when that day comes that we are moms and dads (in the distant, barely glimsable future) these will be the roles we will act out.

The actual event of family dinner began when my cousin was just a we little House of Representatives intern and we made a pact to have a meal together a week. Then he moved back and we moved into the city and Jed moved to Rockville and Emily and Mark moved from the Midwest... and viola, suddenly hanging out isn't walking across the hall, it's a planned event, a la family dinner night. So, in true Yuletide fashion we found it necessary to have a holiday party before we all part ways for the upcoming anniversary celebration of Jesus's birth. And that we did.

Everyone pulled out all the stops when asked to bring a dish to share. There was lasagna, hot wings, crab cakes, garlic potatoes, sweet potato salad, butternut squash soup, celebration bread, baked brie, beef tips, cookies, veggies and the list goes on...no rhyme or reason to the menu and it was all delectable. Add in some vino, Champagne and Blair's great-grandmother's secret "grown up punch" recipe and you've got a family potluck.

Add in our "family" and you've got blissful ridiculousness. Two hours of Catch Phrase, attempted choreographed dances to Christmas tunes and the main event, making it's first annual debut...The Reindeer Game. It doesn't need much explanation: 10 balloons and one pair of panty hose per team and the first team to make wearable antlers out of the materials wins. However easy it may sound, it is in fact not. You would think we got control top nylons!

I feel so blessed to have friends who are, deep down, just as weird as me. I must admit that there is at least one perk to growing up: the pressure to conform is gone (or at least diminished) and enjoying life in your own way fills the spot. Not that I was ever really one to fall in line behind others...just trying to give this whole adult thing a positive spin. And, in the spirit of the season, it's hard not to just be happy.


$10 Gift Exchange

Until three years ago, my Grandma Dood had a longstanding tradition of Christmas stockings. She basically perpetuated everyone's youth and filled them with candy, Nerf guns, nail polish, infomerical gadgets, Gak amongst other, "just for fun" gifts. And when I say filled, I mean to the point that the stocking was draped on a paper grocery sack loaded down with our goodies.

And three years ago, my Christmas world came crashing down. Okay, not really, but I think it's been noted and confirmed that I struggle to deal well with transitions. Especially when I am transitioning out of gifts. My fragile state of being aside, Grandma thinks she is getting old (which is about as far from the truth as you can get -- she is younger than a few of my friends' parents) and needed to remove some stress from her holiday shopping. Again at my expense. Can you tell I'm bitter? And this is actually me getting over it. 

(Side note: I'm not actually angry with my Grandma, so no sharp breaths over my comments. I'm practicing a literary device known as satire and we have a much more closer bond than probably 95% of other grandmother/granddaughter duos. Check it out.)

Okay, so I actually am over it, because when killing one tradition, she replaced it with a new one... the family gift exchange. And perhaps I am being a little dramatic. Just a little. The rule is you bring a $10 gift to put into the mix and we follow the "Bad Santa Rules," where you can steal a gift from another player (which I have, from my Great Grandmother, don't judge). Since everyone joins in on the fun, we have quite the array of gifts...and some very, err, special wrapping techniques. 

Do you know how hard it is to find a $10 gift?! Well, actually every year is gets easier and I pour my Christmas shopping efforts into finding the perfect contribution to our exchange. And every year as soon as I have spent my $10, I find something else I like better. Sigh... Grandma took the stress from her shoulders and filled the basket on my head! (But let's be serious, I love this stuff!)

Today's Real Simple email came just a little too late for me, but perhaps someone else can benefit from Martha's "25 Stocking Stuffers Under $15." 

My personal favorite are the Christmas Crowd Glass Markers from CB2. They remind me of that drinking game we all played in college where there is a rule that you have to remove the imaginary little man from the rim of your glass before you take a drink. Ahhhhh, nostalgia. And the classiest of sorts.

Ho ho ho! 

Paperless Post

There is nothing better than a real live invitation, thank-you note, holiday card, just because were friends, birthday, anniversary or [insert anything else that warrants a cards here], but in this oh-so-digital age we live in, the etiquette of a physical card has become more of a novelty. And expect a physical invitation to arrive in your mailbox in the event of a wedding. (And even then, don't set your sites too high.)

Now what are you to do if cards are your thing? If you think every time your best friend comes over engraved silk and vellum should precede? First of all, that isn't cost effective. Nor do time constraints allow for such a production.

Well fellow neurotics, I give you Paperless Post, accessible at www.paperlesspost.com. Not only can you fully customize the wording, font color, paper and embellishments, but you can choose an envelope color and liner! The card arrives to recipients in an envelope and once clicked on it opens up to reveal the masterpiece inside. They make Evite look like Franzia -- weak and cheap.

It still has the great features of Evite -- tracking, messenging, +1's, etc -- only simplified and classy. That's right, classy. Trust me, once you send correspondence via Paperless Post, you won't dare send an electronic card sans envelope again.

Loose Tooth

What do our dreams really mean?

Now that the hubs and I have said our nuptials, the wedding nightmares -- like the one where I couldn't be in attendance, so Rosy stood in for me, or even better when my mom some how okay-ed that hot dogs be the entrĂ©e! -- have subsided. I am no longer searching for job, so visions of interview blunders -- some may have actually been reality -- are no longer waking me up. And we finally got the cat pee smell out of the closet, so my visions of social ostracization as side effect of my foul smelling clothes, are only a memory.

There is one theme that has popped up in my dreams over the past few years, and on quite a frequent basis. Nearly every other week, and sometimes more often, I dream about having a loose tooth; sometimes the tooth falls out after yanking and sometimes it is just wiggly when I press my tongue against it. If you think about the last time you had a loose tooth -- probably grade school -- you will understand the bizarre sensation of having a tooth loose. Albeit painful, it's almost comforting to experience a part of my life I never thought I would again (and in actuality won't unless it's by outside force). In the dream I'm never mad about losing my tooth, but more in a state of disbelief that my tooth is actually loose! And it's never exactly the same situation, but that loose tooth stays constant.

I told my mom about my strange reoccurring dream and she-who-is-probably-the-least-superstitious/mythological-person-I-know took it upon herself to Google the meaning of the dream and send me the below translation of my internalizations:

Psychological Meaning: Dreaming of teeth falling out may represent insecurity. These dreams often occur at a time of transition between one phase of life and another. When we lost our milk teeth, we also gradually lost our childhood innocence. Loosing your teeth therefore show that today you have similar feelings of uncertainty and self-consciousness as you did in childhood. The dream could also highlight your worries about getting older or your sexual attractiveness.

Could this have been more dead on?! Am I the only twenty-something out there loosing teeth in my subconscious? Although, I have made my life a perpetual transition, so maybe while everyone else in my age group has faced the fact that we are closer to 30 than 20, I'm just out in la-la land. I am very aware how neurotic and anxious I am, but surely there are others out there who feel the stress of turning the page to a new chapter.

Or, perhaps I just need to see the dentist to make sure these dreams just are premonitions of what is to come. Because I doubt if I had a falling out tooth in reality, I would be so embracing. No, I'm actually positive I would be horrified.

A New Chapter

My free time in October was dedicated to finishing my graduate school application. It seems that every August brings boredom and "wild" ideas that lead t results in more work when I am busy, and this August was no exception. I decided that I need another degree and spent the month tossing a ball back and forth from law school to political communications, which was no easy decision. This is a huge fork in my road and I have a hard time choosing dinner at restaurant, let alone something that may have a lasting effect on my career!

I concluded that the George Washington University's School of Political Management is the right choice for  me -- at least right now. Their Strategic Public Relations program is one I have been contemplating since my first year post undergrad and I can have my Masters degree for the price of one year at American University Law...a definite check in GW's "pro list." 

After biting the bullet and putting my application in, I found out that the former CEO of NAB is teaching at GWSPM and showered me with advice and support, even inviting me to a lecture. It's hard to believe that I have lived as a grown up long enough to have built a small network of colleagues that I can rely on in these instances. This process has shown me that that working hard and treating others as you want to be treated isn't wasted effort, nor does it go unnoticed.

In early November, it hit me that returning to school wasn't just a bi-product of the August lull that I had thrown to the wayside. I had actually sent in my application and earning a Masters degree could be a real possibility...oh wait, I had to get accepted first.

And two weeks I go, I did just that. I have been accepted into the George Washington School of Political Management and am going to be a student again beginning January 10! Checking off items on the life goals list is such a surreal feeling, but let's see if I am this excited mid-March

Now, onto the scholarship search...

December 1?!

Does anyone else feel like you blinked at August turned into December? I mean really -- it's December?! In less then three weeks we will be packing our bags for two weeks in Illinois for the Christmas holiday. It just doesn't seem possible.

I have noticed a common theme for my life this fall and it begins with b and ends with usy. My blog folder in gmail is over flowing with half thoughts I didn't want to forget to share, miscellaneous Martha Stewart tips and interesting financial advice, not to mention the endless random photos. Yet, you notice that November 10 was the last time I posted.

And yes, I have been able to board the bus and commute to and even from (once) work. Though it hasn't come with out more, err, learning experiences. Did you know that every bus that utilizes the stop I hop on by my office may not in fact take me to the stop which I need to exit to get home? It's true and I found out about 10 blocks further than I needed to be.

Also -- don't judge, this is a direct exhibition of my over crowded schedule -- whilst making cookies from a mix this evening -- in my defense, I happen to love Funfetti perhaps more than diamonds, come on, there are sprinkles in the dough! Who doesn't love that -- I a new use for a gravy boat. Use it to soften butter in the microwave; it makes the soften butter easy to pour and serves as a utensil rest through out the rest of the recipe.

Now, in lieu of trying to cram all the rest of my ramblings from the past twenty days in one post, I am going to put my best foot forward in the next few days in stringing together at least one [semi]comprehensible entry a day. Why? Because my over-neurotic brain is consumed with worry that at the age of 25, if I don't have my experiences, ideas and thoughts in writing that they will be forgotten. By me.

Bring it on, December.

The Bus Sagas Cont.

The third time is supposed to be a charm, but of course if it worked out like that, the situation wouldn't be worth sharing, right? So of course on my third attempt to traverse home via public bus, everything went the opposite way I hoped. And quite frank the way I assumed, over confident with the third try mentality.

Again as with the two previous efforts, I mapped out my walk of about a block and familiarized myself with the bus route and gave myself plenty of time to commute to the bus stop. Once I got there, I waited. Patiently. I waited patiently as a man with a lady hair cut scowled at me as I traced my route on the poster size map of the the bus system with my index finger, just to reaffirm I was headed in the right direction.

Stepping out to glance down the street to see if my public chariot was yet in eye shot, a little boy and his mother rounded the corner of the shelter. "Miss Abbi?!" It was Little B! And his mother! I was caught completely off guard and already in a vulnerable and fragile state, nervous that I would never conquer the bus system and starting babbling like and idiot. And for some reason in my vomit of nonsense I was spouting out I thought it necessary to tell Little B's mom that I had attempted to take the bus twice before and had failed, so was hoping to hop on tonight.

"Where do you live?" She asked. "Penn Quarter..." I replied.

"Oh dear, you are on the wrong side of the street! This bus goes to Maryland; you need to be over there," She pointed to the bus stop on the opposite corner from where we were perched. The stop that no less than three buses had utilized during my wait.

"Ugh, well, I guess I'll just walk!" I said, humiliated, my voice so shrill I was certain only dogs could comprehend what I was saying, "Thanks and sorry I'm not this flaky! I promise I'm not an idiot! Sorry I'm your son's mentor!"  WHAT? Sorry I'm your son's mentor?! Sometimes I think my speech is involuntary. At least I don't want to think my brain processed that and okayed that it exit my body in the form of words.


Public Transportation: 2, Yours Truly: 0

This makes day number two of a strong attempt to ride the Metro Bus to work...and day number two of failing miserably. I like to think I'm somewhat of an intelligent person, but this bus system is completely over my head. Seriously, I think a rocket scientist designed it.

I just don't understand how I was able to navigate the outrageously ridiculous bus system in Roma, Italia, when I couldn't eve speak the language and the drivers basically decide where they want to go, yet WMATA eludes me. Perhaps it's a conspiracy. Yes, let's go with that theory.

Yesterday I had to be in the office early -- plus, most of the city was probably hungover, either from celebrating or wallowing -- so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give this bus situation a test run. I checked and triple checked the stop, the time and my pocket containing my SmarTrip card, took a deep breath and headed out. Weirdly, I was excited, like I was about to conquer something.

But, I waited....and waited...buses would stop, but not the one that I was supposed to board...so I waited. After 20 minutes of standing and pretending to be deeply engrossed in my BlackBerry, I gave up and hoofed it as usual.

When I woke up this morning to 40 degrees and a foul drizzling rain, I researched the bus routes again, and this time more in depth -- discovering that there are indeed two stops .01 miles from my front door and yesterday I wasted my time at the wrong one. I chose a new route, psyched myself up and headed out again, walking with purpose and hoping to give off the image that I had done this a thousand and one times, the one and a half blocks to my chosen stop. When I got there and looked at the sign, the 54 Bus was not on the list of buses utilizing that portion of the sidewalk. WHAT?! I frantically looked around, swore out loud, but could not find any stops in the vicinity that I could have confused it.

Is this my life?! Really, how hard can it be? Is this the Universe telling me that I need the exercise? Or perhaps God testing my patience? This is not the time for funny business.

Argh. I'm giving it one last shot and then I'm throwing in the towel. Maybe I'm just not cut out for the Metro Bus system; I guess it could be worse.

No. No it couldn't.

The Results are [Almost] In

"The people spoke," John Boehner cried and I overhauled my blog's image (with intermittent scurries from the den to the living room to catch clips of speeches). It certainly was a big night for red voters -- at this  point, having gained over 60 seats in the House to take control and at least 9 seats in the Senate, closing the gap on Democratic control.

To be honest, I can't help but think a more even balance between the control of the parties is a bad thing. But, several polls indicate that 37% of voters chose the Republican on their ballot simply out of spite for President Obama. For real, people? For REAL?

The older I get, I don't necessarily become more conservative, but less loud, shouting over views that differ from mine and instead, trying to understand these differences. Though, when it comes to equal rights, you can't convince me otherwise and I won't be shutting up so long as the rights of my LGBT friends are the same as mine., but I digress. To vote opposite of the party in power, just because you think it will piss them off...well, that is foul. And, quite frankly, ignorant. This accomplishes absolutely nothing.

When the historic nature of this election is put into context, it's not difficult to see that time repeats itself and the similar issues continuously get similar responses. This is the largest swing of party control since 1948 -- they election when voters showed fatigue over the New Deal and its inefficiencies.. With the contempt for Health Care Reform a major issue in this election, you have to wonder...is this just a fad? Will a more universal health care system one day be the norm?

I suppose this is the nature of the beast. The good news is, we will carry on. Things have shifted and will be different, but the election is [almost] behind us, so let's get to work people.

If you haven't already...

Read Apt. 16's post from today and follow it's simple instructions.

If you don't vote, you can't complain.

Fighting Global Warming

Yesterday's mentor session with my third grader -- who shall be known as Little B from here on -- was, well, most enlightening. Because there were more students in the lunch session than usual, due to other reschedules like my own, my student and I were shuffled to the "library" to read. In a hasted to not loose the trail of other students and mentors leading out the door and up the stairs, we grabbed two books from the reading cart and dashed out after them.

While my student picked at his food, and for the third week in a row refused to drink his milk -- don't they have alternative drinks? -- we discussed how his week had been, most importantly how much candy he collected on Halloween. The innocence and blissful ignorance of children never ceases to amaze me and Little B is no exception. His bright eyes and sheer happiness is a light in the fog of all that is going on around us.

"So, what did you dress up as for trick-or-treating?" Little B grinned and said, "I was Pajama Man! I didn't have a costume, so I wore pajamas." My heart instantly panged, when I think about the amount of hours some of my friends have spent obsessing over simple pet costumes. However, he was none the worse for not having been a pirate or lobster or Woody from Toy Story; we decided there were probably no other costumes like his and that made it the coolest. Plus he got mountains of candy, which is the goal of the evening, right?

We opened our first book, which happened to be a picture book about things we can do to be environmentally friendly. Without fail, there were a few pages dedicated to global warming, "Miss Abbi, why do we shut the lights off to save the polar bears -- how does that help?" That is a damn good question is what I wanted to respond, because really, how do you make that connection to a third grader.

I strung thoughts together that went something like, "Welllllllll (dragging it out as long as I possibly could)...lights have energy and we know energy is hot and the more lights that are on, the hotter it is everywhere and the polar bears live on big ice bergs, so when it gets hot the icebergs start to melt. And that is why we shut off the lights when we don't need them on." Sort of kind of, I just hope he doesn't forward this information on.

Expecting Little B to not care what I said, or even really listen for that matter, I was floored that not only had he taken in, but had a solution of his own. "Well what if the polar bears got into the ocean to swim more often?  That way they would get exercise and their fur wouldn't melt the ice? Bears are warm too, you know. Then I can keep more lights on. Right?"

Well, yes. I suppose that would work, too. If we are concerned about the polar caps melting, asking the bears to swim more often solves that issue. "We should probably still only turn the lights on when we need to, because if you aren't in the room, you won't notice that they are off anyway." And, yes, I wanted to say, ask the polar bears to swim a little more.

Global warming solutions, brought to you by the third grade. Gotta love it.

The Highlight of My Week

This month I began volunteering as a mentor as a part of Everybody Wins! DC's Power Lunch Program. Once a week I spend an hour at Thomson Elementary School reading, chatting and usually laughing with a teeny third grade boy. The program focuses on children who are struggling with reading and/or need a little extra attention.

When I enrolled, as I usually do, I immediately froze with anxiety -- what if I am not a good mentor? What if we have nothing to talk about? What if I actually make him HATE reading? What if he hates me? And on and on. 

I was nervous that the poor little dude would sit and twiddle his thumbs and count down the minutes until he was rid of me. And then there was the no cell phone policy -- no BlackBerry for 60 minutes. How could I possibly be unplugged from work?! The world may just implode!

In the first five minutes of meeting my mentee, I realized I was already looking forward to the next week and the week after that and planning the books we would read and how I need this program just as much he does. For one hour each week, I care nothing about the outside world and only about this little boy and what exactly is going on in his tiny world. We are making progress on his reading and learning the meaning of words such, "expert" and "remedy," and like I mentioned -- laughing a lot.

Everybody Wins! DC has been nominated for a CLASSY Award and if the program wins, it will receive a grant of $10,000. If you have an extra minute, please go online and vote for EW DC and help build this phenomenal charity. Voting ends tomorrow and your support means the world to me and countless children across the District.

Click HERE to learn more about Everybody Wins! DC

Click HERE to vote

Happy First Birthday!

Attempted Domestication turns one today! 
And oh what a year it has been...
Full of changes, cooking, moving, snow, pets, hair cuts, vacations, family and friends. And they never ending epidemic of terrible style cursing the world...
Here's to another year of nonsensical blogging!

The Sun is Shining

I swear to you all, I just clicked on my Gmail tab as sunlight flooded my office to see I had a CNN update worth worthy of mountain top shouting. It may sound insignificant, because the content of these so called "breaking news" emails has ranged from sports victories to a runaway foil balloon supposedly carrying a child to devastation of entire countries. But I think the minute this news actually happened, the clouds even clocked out early early to celebrate the cusp of returning humanity....

-- Pentagon tells recruiters they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruits, following "don't ask, don't tell" court ruling

Since I never understood the purpose of asking -- or not asking, but if you find out -- anyone about their sexual habits in common conversation and thus world away from the realm of appropriateness in a professional setting, I see this as a come to Jesus moment for our lawmakers. A sort of, "ohhhhhhhhhh, this actually makes zero sense."

I really don't see how the bridge was built connecting someone's capabilities of serving their country and their sexuality. Why would the private behaviors of homosexual soldiers come into question and not that of heterosexual couples? They signed up to serve our country, put us all before themselves and we are questioning what they do in the bedroom? Why is John allowed hang photos in his tent of his spouse Christina, but another John cannot hang a photo of his spouse, Christopher?

I really cannot understand the mere existence of this law, so quite frankly it's dismembering is a big DUH to me. Try and reason it out; seriously, try and explain the sheer purpose of "Don't ask, don't tell." Bigotry and ignorance aside...still trying to think of something? Me too.

It's 2010, folks. And late in the year at that. Treating any citizen as second class is simply unacceptable.

Let's toast to today and the sweet sound of equal rights marching toward us.

This image says it all.

30 Things Every Woman Should Quit Doing By 30

Riffling through my Gmail folders this morning, I came across an email I had squirreled away for safekeeping that is begging to be shared. Halfway through my roaring twenties, now, thirty seems a lot closer than my anxiety is prepared to handle and I find this list of post-30 no no's quite spectacular. However, my personal code of rules and conduct categorize many of these behaviors are unacceptable beyond receiving your college diploma. Take a look and see what you think....

After the jump, 30 things every women should stop doing once she turns 30.
  1. Buying clothes from the junior section.
  2. Forgetting her parents’ birthdays.
  3. Making out with her BFFs at bars for attention.
  4. Making out with her boyfriend at bars for attention.
  5. Filling her bed with stuffed animals (really, even one is too many).
  6. Carrying a torch for anyone she hasn’t seen in the last five years.
  7. Rebelling against her parents for the sake of rebelling against her parents.
  8. Declaring an entire gender “all jerks.”
  9. Holding a grudge against anyone who wronged her in high school.
  10. Skipping regular gyno exams.
  11. Going to bed without washing and moisturizing her face.
  12. Being “that person” who had a bit too much to drink at the office party.
  13. Crushing on Justin Bieber.
  14. Thinking she’s got it all figured out.
  15. Calling her father “daddy.”
  16. Engaging in sibling rivalry.
  17. Trying to get by on her looks.
  18. Living paycheck to paycheck.
  19. Expecting a man/knight in shining armor to swoop in and save her.
  20. Aimlessly jumping from job to job.
  21. Using MySpace to pick up guys.
  22. Expecting a man to do all the wooing.
  23. Wishing she had someone else’s life.
  24. Expecting everyone to drop everything because it’s her birthday ...
  25. ... or because her “boyfriend” of two weeks dumped her.
  26. Measuring her self-worth by a number on the scale.
  27. Being cheap.
  28. Quitting a job without having a new one lined up first (especially in this economy!).
  29. Blaming her mother for all her issues.
  30. Romanticizing her 20s.

In Honor of the Upcoming Holiday

The eve of all hollows is just around the corner, so in lieu of regaling you all with the details of my costume -- which I will in a later post -- I would like to share this photo of the most horrifying creature I have even seen in person. Only because I have never seen Marilyn Manson in person, because that hideous freak show would certainly take the cake in that category.

As my tale telling usually goes, there is a back story that goes along with it. Now let's set the scene...

Dusty and I were sitting outside of our local watering hole, as we usually are in the after hours, enjoying our favorite food and drinks. I think the conversation wandered slightly in the direction of unions and their necessity at this day in age, and was quickly switched to avoid an inevitable argument. We were admiring the motley collection of passersby as is per usual with the crowd that Penn Quarter draws, when she/he/it turned the corner across the street and just like the Dementors in Harry Potter, I felt a chill pass over me.


For real, though -- what is that, that, that...thing?

At first glimpse I thought it was some sort of strung out drug dealer, preparing its batch, but then the creature slung an Ann Taylor Loft bag over it's hunched shoulder. I could be wrong but I don't imagine that store is a magnet for, well, crack heads.

The monster figure was sort of dressed like a gypsy hooker -- nothing matching and flowy, but dark and short, paired with insanely high  heels. And that creepy hood! I can't even explain where it came from; it was like it grew out of its skin, another appendage of sorts. Like a kangaroo pouch for its head. Oh, gross.

I don't know what we saw that day, but I'm certain we were staring in the face of death. That grim reaperish thing had come to steal our souls and we were spared. It was probably because we were hiding behind the bush by our table (if you can't tell from they hubs' photography). Now that is a really life Halloween story.

To Vie For

There is a new "daily deal website" that I have been meaning to share: ToVieFor. The site's motto is similar to that of my life...

Part game. 
Part shopping.

It just doesn't get much better than that, does it? Here is the gist -- you buy credits to enter a sale which is one bag at a time. Each time a person enters a sale, the price of the bag drops. At any point in time you can purchase, but choose your strategy wisely. You may want to hold out for a better price, but not too, long  because the inventory is limited and you may miss out all together.

Oh, and did I mention that these bags are all this season? Yes, you heard me correctly -- this season's designer handbags at a fraction of the price.

I don't want to brag....wait, who am I kidding? YES I DO! I am the winner of this Marc Jacobs bag. Me! Ya'll know free things make my heart pitter patter, but a free handbag? That might send me into happy induced cardiac arrest.

This video explains it all. Take a look and head to the Website. I'm sure I'll see you there.

Some People...

We have yet to make real friends in our condo building. Actually I try to avoid even riding the elevator with other dwellers; I have gone so far as to check our mailbox for a third time in one day and "forget" something and have to go back to our apartment. And it is mostly due to the ridiculous emails that circulate through the building's Yahoo group. Not to say that everyone in our building is heinous; I'm sure some of them are great. However, the lack of consciousness and drafty hallways in the brains of these idiots, who email the entire building like we are extended family, has really turned me off.

I am aware I can be snotty and even more aware that sometimes I vocalize my internalizations purely on accident. Thus, I wrote my judgments off as my inner jerk being too audacious. However an email I received last night, along with the rest of the building, made me think again.

Re: McDonalds

I don't mean to sound insensitive. However did anyone notice what has been going on in front of McDonald's the last couple of days? Today there was literally 4 people sitting outside with their suitcases...like they were living out there. And no it wasn't tourists. Can we ask McDonald's management to be more proactive in asking the panhandlers/loiterer's to leave? I feel uncomfortable everyday being asked for money every time I walk home or drive in or out of our garage door. I feel like I am being asked to pay a toll. 

I just feel like the issue is getting worse and McDonald's isn't doing anything about it. 

This is what I would like to say back, but will not because clearly these people are too far gone from reality to care.

RE: Re: McDonalds

Don't worry, you don't sound insensitive; a whining asshole and heartless is closer to an accurate description. Are these people hurting you in anyway, while you drive past them in your European luxury vehicle or when you are stomping past in your Burberry trench on your way into the comfort and warmth of your $500,000 condo? 

How awful it must be to feel so uncomfortable.

Get a grip. You live in a condo building downtown Washington, D.C., if you can't handle this, move to the suburbs so you can have a yard. I'm quite certain McDonald's isn't worried about their business plummeting, but good try. Simply moving these people -- which, I'm not sure you noticed, they are people -- to another sidewalk isn't going to alleviate the problem. But, I'm sure out of site, they will be out of your mind.

Open your eyes and count your blessings, jerk. And if you are so concerned, perhaps call the nearest homeless shelter and see if they are at capacity.

Your neighbor,

On second thought, perhaps I will send this.

I Come Bearing Good News

The latest and greatest from J Crew is about to decrease the productivity of your Friday workday and make the weekend all the more sweeter. Miss vintage herself, Jayme Lee, shared the good news with me a couple of weeks ago, but in case it was just a vicious rumor, I didn't want to get all ya'lls hopes up. 

However, in its third week now, I feel comfortable sharing the good word.

J Crew Factory Store is now online Friday through Sunday. It's true, I swear to you. You know I would never lie about something as close to my heart as this. 

It's throw back time to the days when J Crew was entirely affordable the pages reeked of dress code appropriate attire. Ah the days when the catalog dropped into our mailboxes and it caused such a ruckus the librarian banned it from his territory. Yes, you can have that silk top, the cashmere scarf, and the crystal earrings too. Why not?

And no, the nearest store is not programmed into my GPS as home. Yet. Bookmarking the site and setting a reoccurring reminder on my Outlook calender is an entirely different story, though.

So feast your eyes, ladies and gents -- J Crew Factory. It will make you believe again that there is good left in this world.

"My Vespa"

With Congress having one and a half feet out the door for the Recess that will lead them through the election, I can feel the waves calming and my workday significantly opening up. Until about five minutes ago, though, when I looked at my to-do list and it didn't cause heart palpitations, I assumed the next few days would be just as sardine packed as the past month.

So, before I could discover that my list of things that must be accomplished today actually spills onto the next page, I decided to finally get back to nonsensical writing. Life has been taunting me with so much material, seemingly knowing that I have had absolutely no time to spend sharing the musings that bedazzle my everyday life. The reentrance pressure has also be mounting -- like when you have skipped too many classes in a row, put off a conversation that needed to be had weeks ago, not answered a call for the tenth time. It's hard to hang your head in shame and put your best foot forward.

So in lieu of a foot, I bring you an email I received. A piece of electronic mail that I have seriously contemplated submitting to the late night TV shows and hope you enjoy as much as I have. To preface the email, you must know that our new condo building has a Yahoo Group that you can sign up for and is monitored by the management company. I believe the original objective of this list serve was to spread news in the building and neighborhood, electronically ask for a cup of sugar, etc. However, as with most things that begin with the best of intentions and then are man handled by douche bags, the emails that are traded -- mind you, amongst the entire building -- have become absurd, whiny and half the time completely irrelevant.

Without further ado, I bring you -- "My Vespa."


I own a black Vespa that is parked on B2 right next to spot 47. You see it as soon as you come out of the vestibule. It's been parked there for at least 2 years now.

I just had to have someone come pick up and drive it in a truck to get it serviced, because someone had clearly been sitting/playing on it and left the ignition switch in the "on" position and it drained the battery.

You're probably thinking that I am trying to blame someone for an error I made, because I am too arrogant to think that I would know better than leave the switch in the "on" position. Yeah I would probably think that too, but I offer you this:


Please be assured that these were not my toenail clippings-- 1) I do not let my toenails get as long as these clippings were, and 2) I don't clip my toenails on my scooter in the garage.

I refuse to believe that any resident would do something like this, but rather someone's guest.

In any case, I am asking nicely to please do not sit on, play on, or otherwise conduct personal hygiene on my scooter. Thank you.

Only to be responded with -- again, to the entire building:

I am outraged for you.

Saw it being taken away and wondered what had happened.

Aren't there security cameras in the garage? Or is it only in the vestibules?

Hoping someone is caught.

Outraged? Isn't that just a tad melodramatic? What will the culprit be caught doing and what exactly is his crime? Folks, we've got a serial toe nail clipper on our hands; please enact the buddy system and keep a close eye on your things. Now, oh horribly victimized Vespa owner, are you aware that you have just informed the entire building, and I'm sure all of our very entertained friends, exactly where your vehicle is parked? Basically an open invitation to gifts of mischief and conductions of "personal hygiene on [your] scooter," I would think.

People are so much fun and so very vain. I mean, this guy really thinks someone sat down, turned his scooter on and drained the battery whilst clipping their toenails. If this criminal mastermind was really hoping to do ill will, wouldn't he or she just have driven off on the Vespa after he had turned it on? No, that's right, he probably that he would really get the owner's goose by clipping his toe nails and draining the battery.

Really?! I mean REALLY?! I too, am outraged. (Insert grinning emoticon of choice here.)

Is it nearly fall already?!

I looked forward to vacation for so long and as soon as I blinked, the beach was replaced by my desk chair again and life is more chaotic than ever. My head is filled to the brim with thoughts and ramblings to spew out into this blog and all I have time for is this: next year I will be taking full advantage of August Recess. That and I caught one of my coworkers taking a newspaper to the restroom and wasn't able to choke down my laugh. Which, I believe was much deserved on his part, no?

Here are a couple of photos from Hilton Head Island and our one year anniversary celebration... and one from the big celebration a year ago.

Ciao Ciao.

Propellers and Wine

We are finally en route to our first REAL vacation in two years. Nothing to do but relax. The feeling is surreal and even despite the propellers rotating outside of my window, I admit, I am more relaxed that I have been in years. It may be the glasses of wine I consumed while our plane was continuously delayed, but hey, whatever it takes. Again because of the time of year I am extremely nostalgic and reminiscent, which has me counting my blessings that life has bestowed upon me – or that could be the propellers outside of my window – namely the people who have morphed me into the gal I am.

Life has a funny way of bringing people into your life whom you never thought would be starting players, but nudge their way in – perhaps without even knowing it themselves – and take root in your soul. I guess the old adage, “when you aren’t looking for love, love will find you,” is true. My best friends – including the hubs – seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Even when I didn’t know I was searching for a friend. Those whom upon first impressions I assumed I would rarely speak with again and would become merely a Facebook stalk now and again are the ones who have permanently staked claim in my life.

And there are those who come back. Friends who seem gone forever and bonds that appear to have been eternally severed, yet resurface unscathed and forgiven. There is something magical about a friendship that ends abruptly and then picks up years later unchanged and untarnished. Something inexplicably enchanting when you are reunited with someone and the once harbored anger dissipates into a foggy memory.
Then there are those who appear out of nowhere.

 Those you wished for and didn’t appear, those who you dreamt of and were imaginary, those who you needed and arrived right on queue. Co-workers who become best friends, neighbors who become family, friends of friends whom you should have been introduced years ago, immeasurable. And the most rewarding feeing is to give love in without expectance of anything in return.

My Own Nostalgia

Labor Day weekend has always been a place marker for me. "This time last year..." or "Remember three years ago now..." Aside from the irony they literary symbolism, I feel the summer days fading and never fail to feel the heaviness of one more year gone by. More than anything this vulnerability of change is directly connected to our position on the globe and nine month school calendar, which has always placed me in a new situation each year at this time.

Most recently -- boarding school, college, Rome, Washington and marriage. One year ago I was prepping to add a last name and become a partnership, no longer me against the world. Three years ago, I was beginning my life as an adult, having moved halfway across the country, trading in highway driving for the Metro, and quite possibly my soul. Four years ago, I found myself landing in the beautiful country of Italy where I could not count to ten in the native language, knew no one or what to even expect. But I knew that trip was what I needed. Seven years ago, I was pulling out of my parents' drive way, both of our cars loaded down with things for my dorm room and my youngest brother riding shot gun as we blared the Gatlin Brothers. I was completely blind to the winding road of college that was to come. And ten years ago, I was hugging my mom and dad good-bye, choking back tears after lobbying for boarding school and winning, of course, and  unaware of the difference the experience would make in my life.

So here I am in the present, packing my bags for the first vacation D and I have taken together that is not to Illinois in two years. Since we are taking a bottle of the wine left from the big celebration from this time last year, I get to take a big suitcase and check it. Such a luxury that I didn't realize I have not enjoyed in quite sometime. As I grabbed my old bag out of the closet, I ripped an old airline tag off, just to find the last time I had used the suitcase was my flight home from my Italian study abroad. As if I weren't nostalgic already.

As hard as I tried, I could not throw that damn raggedy scrap away -- it even made it to the trash can for a minute, until I felt compelled to rescue it. I just couldn't throw it away. So now I have garbage sitting on my dresser because I am not ready to part with physical evidence of that part of my life. Such is growing up and the growing pains that join in on the ride -- the places you never expect to go and those you thought you would, friends that are brief and ones that enjoy the ride right along with you and the fall that inevitably greets us each September.

Nostalgia, by Billy Collins

One of my favorite poems, by my favorite poets, perfect for my mood that seems to reappear each year at this time....


Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow."
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.

The 1790's will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

For Girls Only

I was watching the Today Show one morning this week, per usual, and they advertised an upcoming segment that forced me into overdrive -- yes, I do have a fast mode when I want to -- so I could be ready to pour my cereal and devote my full attention to the television.

The information I have to share is a White Russian mix of good and bad for us gals. Brace yourselves.

The guest on the show broke the information down into days/stages of a period and while I'm sure some of the information is transient among all post-childhood, pre-menopausal (or pre-hysterectomy) ladies, bits of it made me want to reach through the TV and strangle her. So, let's begin at the very beginning, a very good place to start... I have been listening to the Sound of Music soundtrack for days now, so it is possible the lyrics may transfer over into my writing.

Days 1-5, a.k.a. the period: Little miss sunshine OBGYN claims that these are the days when women are most creative and that artisans will find they produce their best works during this time and professionals accomplish more, as well. Oh, she said, there may be cramps, but...Scccreeeech. Stop. This woman must shit tulips as well, because in my ten years of experience, during this so called "creative period," the last thing I want to do is, ummm, anything except create a pain killing cocktail to relieve me of the horrifying cramps, aches, stress, you name it. Let me uncurl myself from the couch, put down the Oreos, change out of my sweatpants and take on the world. Idiot. If you can relate to this woman, please keep your comments to yourself, because I really don't want to hear about it. Misery loves company.

Days 6-13: This is when women should feel their best, because Estrogen levels are the highest. Now this I can believe. Seven days of happiness. Or maybe this is the week following the period, whence we terrorized the lives of those around us; so now, egg shells embedded in the soles of their feet, they are tiptoeing around us. Hey, whatever works. Happy wife, happy life -- right?

Then there are the couple of days when ladies can become a mommy, but since I have knowledge to share here, I will just float along to the next phase.

Days 16-28, dum dum duuuuum, PMS: What wrinkles my my brain is that PMS engulfs twice as much time as any other portion of the cycle. No wonder women painted to be hideous creatures. Apparently, over half of the month -- we are! At least we have a good excuse, because quite frankly, our behavior, attitude and any actions are out of our control. Now for the really good news -- apparently during this Hyde phase ladies burn between 100 and 300 more calories, just because. If that doesn't make your day, I don't know what will. So go ahead and eat that whole bag of M&Ms and feel a little less guilty. Besides, according to the doctor you will be feeling up to exerting your energy in no time, when days 1-5 rolls back around.

Watch the segment from the Today Show and pass your own judgement.

Do This...Not That

Do: Ride your bike to work in gym clothes and shower before changing into professional attire. Endorphines make happy people and fresh smelling people make happy co-workers.
Don't: Ride your bike to work in your work attire that is nearly too revealing for walking -- i.e. a dress that is in appropriately short and tight.

Do: Wear your husband's button down with skinny jeans. Why buy the ever popular "boyfriend shirt," when you have access to a closet full of them?!
Don't: Wear your husband's button down with skinny jeans with friends who recognize the shirt is his.

Do: Be an aggressive pedestrian. It's a big cruel world out there and you've got the right of way.
Don't: Be an aggressive pedestrian with a foul mouth. This won't win the sympathy vote from the crowd.

Do: Eat oatmeal for breakfast. Low calories and heart healthy are just two of the benefits.
Don't: Eat oatmeal for breakfast from Starbucks. Watch them prepare it -- oatmeal from a paper packet and add water. Save yourself the three dollars and take the 10 seconds to make it yourself. Duh.

Do: Rationalize your distinct need for owning a Land Rover. Obviously.
Don't: Rationalize your distinct need for owning a Land Rover by saying you are a better driver in SUVs due to their lack of a trunk. After you just hit a post in your parking garage. Consider your battle lost, or at least on hold.

Do: Make homemade whip cream.
Don't: Make homemade whip cream with lite cream. It's not meant to be healthy for reason -- it can't be!

Do: Keep that dress you didn't mean to dry. It may not have shrunk as much as you think.
Don't: Keep that dress you didn't mean to dry and wear it to work. Especially if you are nearly six feet tall and living in the land of L.L. Bean and pantsuits. Oops.

In the words of Willard Scott, "That's it, that's all!"

(Side note: these are not all personal experiences. I.e. I do not ride bikes.)