May 22, 2011

Roughly 638 Metro Rides Later...

Yes, I am doing the obligatory "I've been in DC for a year" blog post.  The first thing I thought of this morning was "Season's of Love" from Rent, so I wanted to decide how I measured a year.  It seemed too boring to say work days, and though I used to be able to measure them in Sonic diet cokes, that fell by the wayside this year (I still feel badly for the whole Sonic Corporation for their monetary loss this year from my lack of patronage, but I will make it up to them if/when I move back to a land where Sonic drinks flow abundantly).  Then, ah ha!  Metro rides.  I do it every day, twice a day--sometimes more.  So after counting up the days that I know I've been out of town this past year and did not ride the metro, plus factoring in a few days (especially during FunEmployment) when I didn't ride the metro at all, plus several days when I've ridden more than twice, I've come up with 638 metro rides, averaging about 17 minutes a ride, which means I've spent a little over 2% of my year on the metro. 

So what have I been doing with the other 98% of the year, you may be asking yourself...funny you should ask...
  • I've learned how to manage my finances (which is an especially large feat with you don't make a lot, but live in a place where everything costs a lot).
  • I've learned that the people you least expect end up being your best friends, and vice versa.
  • I've learned to love Arkansas and Southern culture even more than I used to (yes, my accent too!).
  • I've formed an irreplaceable bond with a roommate, turned friend, turned sister.
  • I've found that turning on "Friends" is the best escape and proves to be pretty applicable.
  • I've cried over friends and family that I left in Arkansas.
  • I've rejoiced in making friends that have turned into my family here.
  • I'm learning (I wish this could be in past tense) patience in the future and "figuring things out," with making decisions, with people, and with the metro.
  • I've learned that not having a Sonic diet coke at happy hour every day won't exactly kill you, especially if you replace it with an after-work happy hour.
  • I've learned that you really can't help you fall in love with. 
  • I've learned how important a church community is for support and growth.
  • I've learned that the best way to make girl friends is through a lot of prayer and honing in on guy friends' girlfriends. 
  • I've discovered that I abhor winter.
  • I've learned to try new cuisines and cocktails. 
  • I've learned how to say good-bye. 
  • I've become a Washington Nationals fan. 
  • And finally, I've learned that I have zero control over my circumstances, and that life is so much better because I don't.

April 25, 2011

So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way...

As all note-worthy things begin, one day I awoke with an idea.  An idea that I thought was brilliant--I'll plan a trip to Arkansas to visit best friend Becca and the boyfriend.  With my living on the East Coast and Becca's severe case of the travel bug, I knew the chances of us seeing each other before August were slim to none, and plus, I'm always looking for excuses these days to see Carter.  After consulting boyfriend, we got the grand idea of surprising Becca for her birthday weekend.  I called Johanna to get her thoughts and clue her in on the plan, and we decided it was, in fact, brilliant.

Next pay day rolls around, and I look online at tickets.  The prices are pretty decent, but seeing as I'm not very spontaneous, especially with money, I got very nervous buying the ticket (and yes, I'm well aware that purchasing something three weeks in advance isn't necessarily "spontaneous," but that's how non-spontaneous I am), but eventually just said 1-2-3, go, and did it.

Now the trip is set in stone, I just have to keep my mouth shut with Becca.  I tend to get excited about things, and I definitely didn't want to ruin the surprise, so I had to be especially guarded when talking to her on the phone.  She didn't make it easy with saying things like, "Who is going to plan my birthday this year?! I need you to be here!"  and "I just really don't think we will get to see each other before I go to South Africa for the summer!" etc...  I am proud to say that I was a rock--I let nothing on.  And poor Johanna had to live with Becca and keep the secret.  I got off easy in comparison!

Fiiiiiiinally, it's Friday, April 8th.  I'd cleared it with the bosses to leave early to catch my flight, and off to the airport I went.  Donning nude three-and-a-half-inch heels, skinny jeans, and a blazer, I felt the right mix of causal and professional, and was excited for boyfriend to pick me up at the airport in Little Rock.  It was further confirmed it was going to be a good day when there was a Potbelly's next to my gate, so I could snag a milkshake before taking off.

The weather was kind of gloomy and rainy, but no storms, so I wasn't anxious at all about delays or turbulence.  We began to board the plane (on time I might add), but since I was one of the last people on and the flight was full, the overhead compartments were at capacity.  The flight attendants offered to check my bag for free (soapbox from Dad--nothing is ever free; I'm beginning to believe him), so I thought I was good to go.  I got on the plane, and sat next to the nicest gentleman.  We talked politics, medicine, religion, and family before I even realized almost thirty minutes had passed and we were still on the ground in DC.  I checked the time of my next flight, and I would still have an hour layover, so I wasn't reaching panic mode--yet.  Shortly thereafter, we took off, so again, my mind was at ease.  I read my book, and continued to chat with the military surgeon from Colorado Springs next to me.  The pilot came over the intercom to announce that we had to take a long route to avoid a storm system, but still, I would have approximately 45 minutes to get from point A to point B at DFW, even so I could sense myself becoming anxious.  When we touched down several minutes later at DFW, I lost my sense of worry, because I was going to, in fact, have 45 minutes before my plane was to take off.  We were taxiing around the airport, and my new friend and I noticed that we seemed to be going in circles.  It turns out, we were!  We circled the DFW airport for an hour.  I literally watched myself miss my flight as time ticked by.

Determined to not lose this battle though, and knowing how many times I prayed on the tarmac (ask and ye shall receive, right?), I had a small glimmer of hope that the flight had waited on me.  I mean, I was going to Arkansas to see my boyfriend and to surprise my best friend.  How could American Airlines deprive me of that?!  After sprinting through the airport (mind you I'm still wearing the aforementioned heels), I get to the gate, catch my breath, and the attendant at the gate chuckles, and said I missed the flight by 25 minutes.  I'm not sure if it was her laughing at me, or just all the anxiety coming to surface, but I erupted into tears.  That's right, in the airport, like a two year old.  So I asked a man (who was also on my flight; not as nice as Colorado Springs) if he wanted to rent a car and drive from Dallas to Little Rock.  He looked at me like I was crazy (really, who can blame him?), and shook his head no.  So, I do the only sensible thing--call Carter and sob.  He is, of course, in the car with Governor Beebe, who has to a) listen to me sound like a lunatic and b) try and help calm me down, which the poor man had no idea was a losing battle.  To make a long story short, Carter decided to drive from Little Rock to Dallas to meet me.

The airline gave me a hotel voucher at what I was sure was going to be a sketch hotel.  So, I called Tina and Drew, who were luckily in Dallas that weekend, and they picked me up from the airport, took me to get food and to check out this place.  Turns out, NYLO (which stands for New York Lofts, not New York and London fusion, in case there was any confusion) was actually pretty swanky. So, I settled into my room, and talked to Carter.  I had not been able to retrieve my bag yet, but they assured me it would stay in Dallas since I was not going to Little Rock, so it was literally just me.  No phone charger, no anything, so I just wanted to go to sleep and put the day behind me.  While I was asleep, Carter, of course, got a speeding ticket. 

After what seemed like two years, he got to Dallas, and I'm sure the folks at the front desk think I called in a male hooker, but that is neither here nor there.  He was there, and I was finally able to relax!  We went to sleep (it was 3:30 a.m.!), but I woke him up early the next morning to start figuring out the bag situation.  We went to the airport at 8:30 a.m., and my bag was unable to be located (after my friends at the baggage station told me it would be at C14 first thing in the morning).  They told us to come back in 3-4 hours, and they could tell me where it is.  So we ate breakfast, showered, and at this point, since I have no makeup, hair dryer, clothes, etc... I am wearing my heels, skinny jeans, and one of Carter's large t-shirts.  Disaster.  So we take naps, and go back to the airport to learn that my bag is in Little Rock.  Wooooonderful.  Luckily, one of Carter's coworkers was coming to Fayetteville from Little Rock, and he swung by the airport to get my bag.

Now we were on the open road to Fayetteville.  The so open road, in fact, that the Master's visor Carter gave me to wear to cover my atrocious hair flew out of the window.  Turns out, you can only get those at the actual Master's, so we had to get out on the side of the service road/highway and get the visor that had been run over.  Girlfriend of the year, right?

After hours of dancing, singing, laughing, Sonic stops, and talking, we finally arrived in Northwest Arkansas. Now I was sooo excited to see Becca and the look on her face! Of course the stadium was packed and they wouldn't let us bring in our coolers, but I was determined to find her!  Johanna had told me where they were standing, so after finally spotting them, I walked up behind them, put my arms around them, and said, "So girls, what are we talking about??"  Becca turned around, screamed, and started crying.  Thankfully, Carter captured the moment.

She was sooo surprised, and it was so fun to embrace, laugh, and then tell her about all the planning and hullabaloo of the weekend.  We watched the Hogs pull out an amazing win over LSU with a walk-off homerun, and then went to Geno's to eat, and then out on Dickson.  Seeing old friends was very refreshing, and it was great to meet all of Becca's new MBA friends.

We ended the evening, and got up to have a delicious brunch at Common Grounds the next morning.  We sat outside, drank bloody marys, and enjoyed each other until at last, it was time for Carter and me to go back to Little Rock to the airport.  We were kind of hoping flights would be delayed, but alas, everything went smoothly to get me back to DC. And luckily, as my flight landed at 1:00 a.m., my dear friend Eric May was waiting at the airport to hear about this interesting journey and to make sure I made it safely home.  I've never slept so soundly as I did that night!!

February 8, 2011

Idiomatic Conversation

In case you've not figured it out, I'm an absolute cheese ball.  Sappy love songs?  Yes, please.  Happily ever after endings?  I'll take 'em.  Motivational quotes?  My middle name.  (The beauty of not actually having a middle name is that I can claim anything as my middle name without too much dispute.) 

Which brings me to my love for idioms.  One of the best gifts I've ever received was a book of idioms from my friend Jake.  And I must confess, my definition of the word "gift" in this instance is an item that a dear friend let another dear friend borrow, and here it sits three years later on the borrower's book case an ocean away from the lender.  In all fairness, he still has my copy of The Davinci Code. 

Back to idioms. I think my favorite, and most commonly referenced, is, "Hindsight is 20/20."  It really is often appropriate, and on several different levels.  If used correctly, it can also be a sure-fire conversation changer.  Take your friend who is obsessing over an awkward encounter.  After you exhaust your encouraging remarks of, "I'm sure it wasn't that bad," or, "Trust me, he didn't even notice you had asparagus stuck in your teeth," there isn't a whole lot you can contribute.  Smiling and nodding doesn't quite get it, so what do you do?  After aforementioned friend picks apart another detail of what she should have said or how she should have said it, simply say, "Well, you know, hindsight is 20/20."  There is absolutely nothing that can be said back to that.  Friend will stop, agree, and now you're back to discussing the crisis in Egypt, our looming deficit, or deciding whether you support Team Jacob or Team Edward. 

Note:  This post is not to encourage being an unsupportive friend.  It's more of a tid-bit to be kept on file for emergency conversations that may never end without this idiom's help or to stop your friend from dwelling on a topic to his/her own detriment and missing out on any fun that may be wasted by hashing and rehashing an event.

Thinking Outloud