Since I'm already procrastinating, I'll tell you about my birthday. =) S & W schemed a smallish dinner party at W's house for about 15 people or so and I had a GREAT time. Having a birthday that falls in the 'valley of death' as I affectionately refer to it is sometimes difficult to pull off but they did it wonderfully. Frankly, any excuse I have to eat W's cooking is good by me. He, Steve & untold others prepared this asparagus soup with potato and chicken stock and other stuff, handmade summer rolls with shrimp, mini burgers cooked on the grill and finally, the City Ham from Good Eats. It was fabulous!
I got a handful of presents but it was really nice just to have good friends and good food around me as I entered my mid-thirites.
I love to fly. LOVE it! I wake up at the crack of dawn like a little kid on Christmas morning whenever I have to travel, get to the airport early and am all excited to hop on my plane, buckle my seat belt and let 'er rip. This is largely why this story just makes me laugh instead of freak out.
Tuesday morning, I got to the airport a good two hours early, spent some quality time with my McGriddle and my coffee while waiting for my flight to be called, then boarded my plane with the rest of my Zone 4 posse. We finally get all snuggled in and ready to go and the first officer gets on the horn and does his little song and dance.
"Blah blah blah, Seth is our captain this morning, I'm First Officer Joe and Lindsay will be serving you in the cabin today."*
Whoa whoa whoa! First thought: Dear G-d, 2Lips is in charge of flying the plane. Second thought: I'm all for maintaining a certain professional distance between my flight crew and myself. I don't need to be on a first name basis with them, we're not going out for drinks, I'm not getting them a Christmas present - we can maintain a certain level of mystery in our relationship. Please, you be Captain Jones and First Officer Smith and I'll be your happy passenger. That's all I'm saying.
So, I chuckled to myself (as I so often do) and dozed through Lindsay explaining the safety protocol on our Embraer whatever whatever commuter jet. Although I know it bothers a lot of people, I especially love takeoffs and landings (especially at National; I know - I'm sick). So, we're sitting at the end of the long-ass runway at Port Columbus International Airport and Joe gets back on the microphone to inform us we're first in line for takeoff. Excellent, here we go.
We make the last turn to lineup at the end of the runway and pause momentarily. They do whatever magical pilot sh!t it is they do up front, and the pitch of the engines gets higher and I feel the thrust throw me back into my seat. I grin to myself as the plane starts to roll...
For the record, NOT a sound you want to hear during takeoff.
Engines throttle back and we make a lazy left back off the runway.
Here comes our friend Joe: "Well, folks, some of you may have noticed but the cockpit door just fell open. We've got that all taken care of now and we're going to circle back to the end of the runway and we should be up in the air in just a few moments."
Um. The cockpit door fell open? Excellent! I get funny looks from security folks for my knitting needles, but Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam can't manage to lock a door.
Let's reflect on how very wrong this entire horror-scope is.
- Maverick moves - oh yeah, that's me all over.
- Family figuring in finances? - well, if you count the money I got from my grandmother for my birthday, I suppose that's not entirely cracked.
- Investments in February? Is that when I'm buying my plane ticket to Italy?
- Wedding bells in April? I don't know who they're talking about but it's certainly not moi.
- The only Scorpio I know is Dr. T and the only person he's adoring is S (and I don't even know if she's a Libra), so I'm not sure where they're going with that either.
So, insane horoscope aside, so far it's been a good day. My boss took me to lunch, I got the aforementioned $ from my grandmother (which went straight into the vacation jar), I got the NASCAR pets calendar from Rebecca (Killer and Junior are hanging on my wall as we speak), and I get to hang with friends and food tonight. I'm just hoping they don't break me too badly - I do have to work tomorrow.
Holly was also good enough to give me another (I think I'm up to my third) copy of the sock pattern. I have to figure out what I'm going to take to Lake Anna. I have to take my socks because I'm apparently teaching Stick - LOL, riiiiiiight.
OOH, speaking of Stick (and to add in that hint o' NASCAR) she got us kick-bootie pit passes to the Atlanta race in March! W'HOO! Yet another addition to the Stick ROCKS! encyclopedia.
However, don't believe her if she (or her mug) says she's an innocent bystander. Lies. All lies.
We had a good visit with Sweetie for Christmas and the day after. I was actually surprised that more family didn't do a fly-by while we were there, but I saw two of my cousins and my uncle while we were there. I still have to mail my aunt and cousin their Xmas presents. I SO don't have my act together.
Somehow over the course of the next couple of days, I have to manage to celebrate my birthday, work two days, use 3 coupons, bake for the trip to the lake, make a new packing list, do laundry, pack...I clearly have no time for this!
By and large the evening was a lot of fun - the only sour spot was at the end of the night when Tom told me I wouldn't be invited to their wedding. First off, they're not engaged yet, but they're on the verge - she was "hoping for hardware" by the new year. But when I was finally able to talk to him when she wasn't around he said he was basically doing it for her and it would probably be super-small - just family. I can respect that, I s'pose, but it still hurt my feelings a smidge. Once more, proof positive that he means more to me than I do to him. Then again, he could've just been getting me back for all my chit-chat about NASCAR, country music and the fact that I don't totally dig France.
We didn't drive down to Dayton 'til this morning. Something about strained sleeping arrangements since my cousin is currently living with my grandmother. A handful of family just left so the house is quieting back down again. I'm sure things will pick back up tomorrow - my uncle is supposed to come back by for sure.
Countdown is on: 36 hours til my flight leaves for D.C.
Once I landed in bright and sunny (NOT!) Columbi, I whipped up a batch of eggnog for the 'rents then stole the car keys and dashed off to hunt down the Franklin County LYS's.
Temptations in Dublin, OH was my personal favorite of the three I encountered. Huge house full of yarn and antiques on a snow-covered street. Large table in the front for sitting, probably where classes were taught. I could've snuggled into that place for hours. It would definitely be my LYS of choice if I lived in Columbus.
My next stop was The Yarn Shop over in Kenny Centre. Large and a fair amount of selection but just didn't give me that warm fuzzy vibe.
Third and final venture was to Knitters Mercantile in Graceland. I liked that there was a cozy knitting nook of sofas in the front of the store and the people seemed friendly but the setup of the store itself was kind of odd.
Of course, have to give KM props because they were the only store that had what I was looking for.
And for the NASCAR front, for the first time I saw a white Monte Carlo with red stripes and a big number 8 on the side. Oy.
p.s. For the record - I forgot EVERYTHING. So much for the stinking packing list.
- Wash hair
- Take home Sweetie's presents
- B&N: buy journal
- CVS: batteries
- Pick knitting for trip
- Print out TSA "needles are okay" page
- Pay bills
- Schedule cab
- Forget RMT's present at home
Yeah, we'll see how many of these things I forget to do.
My doctor put me on The Pill b/c I was having a teensy-weensy couldn't-stop-bleeding-to-save-my-life issue last month. Groovy, rock and roll, go drugs go, all taken care of. I just went to refill the script before going home for the holidays and the !#$%&^* pharmacy won't do it because insurance won't cover it before the 23rd - which would be fine except my flight's on the 22nd.
So my choices are:
- refill and pay for the whole thing out of pocket (which is no big deal b/c my !#$%&^* insurance company only springs for $1.71 anyway); or
- hold off and refill when I get home and go through the whole Pill song and dance with my parents (assuming, of course, that the pharmacist at home doesn't have a moral objection to refilling my prescription)
I loathe the system.
Last night M & I went to go see Carbon Leaf at the 9:30 Club. I've lived in D.C. for 12 years and I've been more in the last, oh - 15 months, than I have in the previous decade. Anyway, CL played an acoustic show and it was really excellent. They started off with 5 or 6 unreleased songs that they've written in the last handful of months; my favorites were "Unknown Bride" and "Native America." After that they switched over to tracks from their latest release, "Indian Summer." They played most of my favorite songs - the only one they missed was "When I'm Alone" but it's all good.
Barry - lead singer - is apparently starting to pick up on guitar, which he played for the first several songs. He was noticably more relaxed when he switched off to just vocals. Jordan (bass player) was incredible, as was Carter (electric/acoustic guitar). Loved him. He had a couple of riffs that were just incredible.
However, this wouldn't be a complete recap without noting the idiot in the white shirt who, during the 2nd half of the show would just stand up and start clapping (not on the beat, mind you) and trying to get the crowd into it. Now, I can see how getting the crowd into the show is one thing, but this idiot was standing up and taking bows after each song the band performed. Nice job, dude. M chimes in on Carbon Leaf, too.
Ye olde Xmas trip packing list is nearly done. I'll fine tune it at work tomorrow, but I have to do laundry tomorrow night and do as much packing as I can. That 6:00 a.m. cab pickup on Thursday a.m. is gonna SUCK!
Friday was chock full of red wine and hysterical laughter. We got together to plan our weekend at Lake Anna. Not quite as much planning happened as wine drinking, cheese dancing and general frivolity. I love my friends.
Saturday night was the annual Christmas party. It was all I could do to drag myself away from "The Sound of Music" - thank goodness for TiVo - so I finished watching it this afternoon. Anyway, the party was fun for the most part. There was this huge deal made about how it was a holiday party and that jeans and tee shirts were taboo, yet we were expected to stand outside under the rented tent and use the Port-A-Potty. I'm sorry, I'm supposed to wade through the mud in girl-shoes and ankle length velvet then use a Port-A-Potty? I don't think so.
For the most part the party was uneventful. Uncomfy shoes, Francisco the marshmellow/pretzel rod/fruit rollup dude, gorging on meatballs, feeble attempts to recreate Legspreaders and VAM & Steve seranading the living room with 'Do You Hear the People Sing' from Les Miz.
The evening culminated with my typical round of goodbyes and as I was heading over to say g'night to C, M walked up to me and said, "Merry Christmas, J." I never broke stride, but did say Merry Christmas back, and for some reason, he took this as an invitation to try to kiss me.
WHAT?!?!?!? Could he really be that stupid?
The answer is yes.
At first I leaned away and he kept pushing so I finally had to shove him off and yell, "No, M!" I don't understand how he could possibly think that it's okay to break one of my best friends' hearts and think that I'm still going to play nice. I didn't shove him into the firepit but that's about as civil as I'm capable of swinging. Ugh. Moron.
Tomorrow: Carbon Leaf and the long awaited project audit.
...it rocks for the 'Quakes no more.
On Monday, August 26, 1996, Steph and I piled into her Mercury Tracer and headed west. She'd had enough of this east coast mumbo-jumbo and decided to head home to CA, albeit to Moraga instead of LA. With 3500 miles to burn, we had lots to talk about: her move back West, my first trip west of Chicago, whether or not she was going to abandon my beloved D.C. United to begin cheering for her new hometown-ish San Jose Clash. She claimed allegiance to DCU but that only lasted as long as our trip to the old Mile-High Stadium (we beat the Rapids 2-1).
I suppose it's only natural. You have to love the one you're with ultimately. Over the years, her attachment to the Clash grew. Her devotion survived their name change from the Clash to the Earthquakes in 2000. She travelled to Columbus for their MLS Cup victory in 2001 and to Secaucus to see them play the MetroStars at some point or another, survived the Carter ratf*cker association, and took my favorite picture ever of Zach (*sigh*) ever in the friendly confines of Spartan Stadium.
Today, their relationship was dealt a blow, perhaps a fatal one. In their infinite wisdom, Major League Soccer has decided to move the 'Quakes from San Jose to Houston. Houston?!? Now, I can't pretend to know all of the politics involved in that maneuver; no doubt the move was motivated by money. In a league where the owners are still losing money every year, it's gotta be more and more difficult to find a place to play the game. But I've been to Spartan and I've sat with the Casbah and I feel for them as a group. I can't imagine what life would be like without D.C. United.
The Clash-Quakes were one of the original 10 MLS teams and the 2nd to go the way of the Dodo (name the first). The first game in the history of the league was played at Spartan Stadium. The first goal ever scored by a Clash forward (poor Jeffy) and the Clash was awarded the first MLS win.
We are the Clash! We are the Clash! We are, we are, we are the Clash!
And they will be missed.
My big sis and I got there a little bit early and started cooking a batch of pretzel/Hershey's Kisses sandwich thingies. Spread small pretzels on a cookie sheet, place a Kiss upon each one, then put the sheet in the oven for about a minute. As soon as the kiss is suitably softened, take 'em out of the oven, squish another pretzel on top and let cool. I personal prefer the chocolate/peanut butter kisses. Super tasty! Then she whipped up some magic cookies and eventually other people started showing up.
Two of my very-much-least-favorite people showed up not too long into the evening. M walked in first and I was probably the first person he saw. He said hi and I responded with civility. Didn't think bloodshed in PIO's swanky pad was a good idea. Of course, then I had to refill my drink and leave the room before I killed him. L showed up about 20 minutes later and we exchanged similar half-pleasantries. I spent the rest of the evening working in mini-circles to avoid them as much as I could.
Intellectually, I know they have every bit as much a right to be there as I do, but I really am okay with not having to share oxygen with them. As my friend Shannon said, 'running the gauntlet' at a party trying to dodge people just makes socializing not v. much fun. In some ways I'm glad the first encounter is out of the way. We've established that I'm not going to murder them and conveyed that I'm not going to play the "We're still buds, right?" game, so all's well that ends.
Only PIO would own a Billy Bass that sings Christmas carols. It's horrifying. He blames it on the MV White Elephant but I don't believe it.
Now, part of the problem could be that I don't lead anything vaguely resembling a life. I mean, how wittily can one actually write about yarn?
I only have one free night in the next 10 days so hopefully the fates will come up with something entertaining for me to convey to the world.
Don't hold your breath.
I realized as I was beating the eggs and whipping the cream that it's this particular ritual that marks the beginning of the holiday season to me. The first batch of Sugar's eggnog. The recipe isn't particularly complicated or unusual, but I'm still forbidden by family law to share it so share it I shan't.
I drink the first sip of 'nog the way wine connoisseurs sip a cabernet. The smell right before it hits my lips, the foam settling on my tongue, the sense of the alcohol brushing over the roof off my mouth. Mmmm...nog.
In a lot of ways, the nog is the source of a lot of my holiday memories. My cousin and I used to wake up at all hours Christmas Eve to the sounds of our parents and grandparents laughing uproariously while wrapping presents. My father still remembers the Christmas Eve that my grandfather ran his toy train off the table b/c Sugar had made a particularly strong batch of eggnog.
As I've gotten older - and consequently became legally permitted to consume alcohol and developed the requisite tolerance - I have different memories. Like when my aunt, cousin and I all realized we had different versions of the recipe. My aunt's is probably the most authentic, but I'm so accustomed to my version I'll just stick with it.
As Tanya once said, "Once a year, Just D creates this creamy, frothy, wet, gooey, sticks to your upper lip..."
So, that's my excuse for not discussing NASCAR much - which should leave me plenty of time to knit, right? Well...uh...theoretically.
I STILL haven't finished Jenny's blanket - and beautiful Lorraine was born a week ago. Well, in all fairness, the knitting portion of the blanket is done - it's just the finishing portion of the program that hasn't quite come together. My socks, Banff, Inishmore, top-down cardigan and Soliel are all still on needles. I need to do a more complete project audit tomorrow.
Tonight is my grown-up social outing: dinner at M&S Grill followed up by Les Miz at National Theatre. Ooh la la!
I know we had the odd snow day, especially if the snow started a couple of hours before sunrise and didn't even pretend it was letting up anytime soon as it got closer and closer to the time when the busses needed to pull out to collect students. I remember thanking every god I'd ever heard of the morning after pulling a near allnighter in high school trying to finish an English paper or college essay or something (procrastination is not a new development in my world). But by and large, snow days were few and far between and we had to have some serious downfall in order to procure one.
Now, maybe I'm just a little bitter because I work with not one, not two, but THREE school teachers and all three of those slackers is home today because we got an inch and a half, MAYBE two inches of snow last night. So far, J's winning the School Day Slacker competition (she had Tuesday off, too!), with S and S2 following up with one day apiece.
Whereas I'm more than willing to scoff at the amount of D.C. snowfall, it is actually starting to get a little nippy out. Wind chill has been in the upper 20s the last couple of mornings. It's wreaking havoc with my dislike of socks, hats and other cold weather gear.
Guess I'd better go finish my black Hermione hat.
Okay, so I found a teensy weensy bit o' holiday spirit. This morning, Elizabeth, Joan, Melyssa and I went to Old Town Alexandria to the annual Scottish Christmas Parade. We piled into M's PT Cruiser and headed south.
After a quick pitstop at Bread & Chocolate for coffee and muffins (and so J could ogle some Scotsmen in their kilts) we headed down to the parade route so we could stake out some territory. Good thing we did! We camped out on our corner and we're just hanging out chatting and people watching and a couple of women and their horde of children came to stand near us. This would've been fine except this little boy next to J decided we were in his way and started pushing at her and huffing about us being in his way. Excuse me? I don't think so, little man. Hrmphf.
With the roar of a dozen police officers on motorcycles, the parade began. I don't remember the order in which they came, nor can I come close to remembering the names of all the Scottish clans that took part in the parade, but I had lots of fun. Checking out all the different tartans (no bright yellow for me, thank you very much) and the oh-so-cute doggie groups. The exchange program between the Westies and the Scotties, the adorable cairn terriers, the lab rescue league, the airedales (just so M could ooh and aah), the Irish deerhounds, the St. Bernards - they were all SO cute.
There were a few different bagpiper groups - only a handful though. J's big comment was that they were mostly older men - who's going to be around to pipe in the next generation.
Anyway, E dashed off to hold a table for us at Pat Troy's and we headed in after we saw Santa arrive on a local fire engine. Coffee with Bailey's, fish and chips and The Unicorn Song - is there a better way to spend a Saturday a.m.?
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...