Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thank You, Percy

Who knew such enlightenment could stem from housesitting? I certainly didn't. If I did, I likely would not have accepted the position on account of having already met my emotional stress threshhold for the summer. However being naive to the concept of caring for animals and other peoples' homes, I emerge from housesitting with the ability to relay the lessons I've learned and the things I've figured out.

(In no particular order...)

  • People should have tails.
  • I don't want to get old.
  • Driveways are a gift.
  • I am not ready to have children.
  • Hell, I'm not ready to have pets.
  • It's normally harder to stay mad than it is to forgive and forget.
  • It has been a really long time since I have taken care of someone.
  • It has been an even longer time since that someone truly appreciated it.
  • Kitty litter is fascinating.
  • Dog lick isn't that bad, after all.
  • 2 Benadryl is too much.
  • Always keep Resolve Carpet Cleaner on hand.

Housesitting has been an adventure. And it's left me anxiously awaiting the official kick-off of my Phase Five adventure to San Francisco. Thank you, fishes. And Theo. And Zelda. And Cassie. Thank you, Percy. Thank you especially to Percy.

Friday, July 29, 2005

You Do Run Run

I picked up running somewhere between my last soccer game in high school and all the beer I drank in college. The first time I ever felt Runner's High was early one morning in September of 2003 after I graduated from UVA. I was running across Memorial Bridge into DC, staring straight at the Lincoln Memorial and this new fantastic city I was to call home. It was 90 degrees, but I had chills. And it was then that I realized I had done it - I had grown up. While running on Memorial Bridge I entered my first official day of adulthood. It felt really good, and I kept at it.

In the spring, I ran DC's St. Patrick's Day 10K. Although I played soccer as a kid, my #1 was always dancing. I used to think I couldn't love anything more than being on stage. But running 6.2 miles and having a crowd of fans cheer me on for an entire hour, start to finish, was sooo much better than the sum of all the 45 seconds of applause I've received for the hundreds of 4 minute dance pieces I have performed on stage. Now I was hooked.

In the fall, I completed the RockN'Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. That's right, 2 full hours of people telling me I can do it! And that I am fast! And that I am strong! And that water's just ahead! I loved the Half twice as much as I loved the 10K. So, I though, "Let's double down again!" And a few more months later, in November of 2003, after hearing my dad yell, "C'mon Cole!" during my sprint through the final .2 miles, I crossed the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon in 4 hours and 13 minutes. I cried and I smiled. I hugged and I celebrated. (I spent some time in the bathroom.) It was the best day of my life.

Nearly two years later, I'm still at it. I've had a stress fracture in my hip. I am a snob about running shoes. I am Body Glide's #1 customer. And I have a marathon PR of 3:55! And, you guessed it - I'm getting pretty cocky. Because you'll remember, I have been waking up most weekend mornings with a hangover the past two months, which certainly means I haven't been completing too many long training runs. Which is a shame, because I'm running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco (the #1 running city in the country!) on October 23.

Should be interesting.

San Francisco is pretty flat, right?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cleaning My Plate

I should be working right now. It's after 5PM, but I should be working right now. Instead I am longing for the days when cleaning your plate excused you from the dinner table. These days, cleaning your plate results in your boss giving you more plates.

Just to be clear, I love my job. I love my job so much that I'm packing it up with me and bringing it to San Francisco. I just hate how many plates are being stuck on my shelf.

I hate the expensive plates whose functionality is useless. And I hate the paper plates that think they're Lenox China. I really hate the broken plates that I'm putting back together with Krazy glue. And I seriously hate the plates that are hot and "fresh" from the oven. Fresh in that, "We kind of burned this one..." way. And I also just really hate that so many of the bad plates make my good plates look bad.

I don't think all of these plates are going to fit in my Honda Civic.

I better talk to my boss about shipping...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

West Philadelphia

Saturday night I was sitting on the couch at my parents' house with my dad. The family had all left and we were trying to find something on TV to watch. However nothing was on, and we were flipping back and forth between the Golf Channel and CN8, a Philadelphia sports channel.

I wasn't in the highest of spirits. Until a new Philadelphia Eagles commercial aired. It featured a man (possibly someone famous, although with whom I am not familiar) dressed as a teacher. He was standing in front of a map of the United States with lots of thumb tacks in various cities. He pointed...

1. To Philadelphia - AKA "Center City Philadelphia"
2. To Boston - AKA "The Great Northeast"
3. To Dallas - AKA "South Philly"
4. To San Francisco - AKA "West Philadelphia"

Then he wrapped it all up with a nice, "E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!"

It's Eagles Country, Baby. I'm moving to San Francisco, but on Sundays or a few select Monday nights, yous guys can find me in West Philadelphia. (Does anyone know of a good Eagles bar in San Francisco?!?!?!)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Grammar Freak

This past weekend I went to PA to see my family before taking off for California. I arrived at my parents' house on Friday afternoon. I walked into the TV room to find a large poster of the Golden Gate Bridge in front of the fireplace and a sign that read, "Good Luck Nicole in San Francisco!" The sign was making me wince. I could hardly think about San Francisco with a Direct Address in the middle of a sentence without commas blinding me from the mantle. I quickly fixed the sign so that it read, "Good Luck in San Francisco, Nicole!"

Mom laughed and didn't say a word about me correcting her grammar.
Man, she's going to miss me.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the bakery in time to edit the message on the cake Mom ordered for the party we had on Saturday afternoon. "Good Luck Nicole in San Francisco" isn't nearly as blinding when written atop a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and a depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge in an edible format. Correct grammatical usage is important, don't get me wrong. But I'm not about to skip cake and ice cream
just because of a misplaced proper noun.

Forgoing dessert is something for which I just will not stand!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Already Exhausted

Day three of housesitting.

Day three of caring for 14 year old, blind, deaf, arthritic, pancreatic-problem-ridden Percy. I am used to smelling like dog. And I am able to fall asleep with the dog sleeping on top of me. And I am still finding little presents in the basement and on the couch. But I am starting to think he's a total sweetheart, anyway.

Day three of attending to three cats. I am still allergic to them. And I am still disgusted by wet cat food. And cat spit up. And I am still holding steadfast to my opinion that cats, in general, suck. Except for Zeus and Kobe. (Of course.) But I am continually amazed at how effing humongus cat crap can be.

Day three of feeding the fish. Not much to report on the fish front.

Day three. And I'm already exhausted.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

San Francisco, I'm officially YOURS. Sort of. At least my rent money is. I signed the lease to my apartment and put my first rent checks in the mail today. Somewhere in that picture to the right is my new apartment. Somewhere in that picture is my new life. It makes me want to run to the bathroom to get sick and run around dancing and singing all at the same time. Now that I have a place to call home - officially - everything is now much more real.

And naturally, everything is also that much more scary. And exciting. And sad. My clothes are all moved out of my place in Adams Morgan. My pictures and books are all packed in boxes. I cancelled my cable, and phone, and Internet, and electricity. And I'm feeling a little bit lost at the moment. Especially as I write this from my cubicle while thinking how badly I want to curl up in my bed that no longer exists as I knew it...

But on the bright side, I have this picture that I stare at all day. And I hear we can sit on my new rooftop and view the Golden Gate Bridge. And Old Roommie has already booked a flight to come and visit me. OK, she's coming to attend a wedding and see some family, but I am going to pick her up at the airport, so for all intensive purposes she's coming to see me. And the logistical mess that is my cross country road trip is starting to come together. And...

I'm moving to San Francisco!

I'm moving to San Francisco!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

8AM on a Saturday

Waking up on a Saturday morning without a hangover has been a rarity these past few weeks. But this morning, miracle of all miracles, I awake without a burning desire for water, Advil, coffee, and Diet Coke. The day is full of promise.

A quick run, followed by a yoga class. Maybe I'll stop in at Tryst to read my book and get some coffee. I may head to Pentagon City for a last Northern Virginia mall "fix." I'll drop off my old clothes at Goodwill, too. And pay some bills and possibly do some packing and cleaning. Likely won't get to the laundry, but it's a noble aspiration.

And in case anyone is wondering, I'm not ashamed to admit that the completion of all of these tasks is going to be made possible only because I stayed in last night and went to bed at 11PM.

Yes, I am striving to re-live all that DC has been to me the past three years during my final month in town. Yes, that may sadly involve a night at Tom Tom and another at Third Edition. It will also involve more noble evenings at Blue Room and Local 16. And it will certainly involve a Friday night in front of my television, eating cereal for dinner while watching (OK, interacting with) Zoolander.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Tribute to Murph

Sunday night I had dinner with a couple for whom I will soon be housesitting. This housesitting endeavor will involve feeding an enormous tank of fish, scooping cat litter for 3 cats (to which I am highly allergic), and generally attending to the hunger, exercise, and petting of a 15 year old dog who is blind and deaf.

I find this mildly amusing because I have never had a pet that actually required real attention.

The only "pet" I have ever been able to call my own was a Siamese Fighting Fish name Murph. I got Murph as a replacement to my then boyfriend - #1 - who decided to study abroad in Australia for 6 months. It was a fantastic idea, for Murph was a phenomenal fish. Just ask any of my roomates who also had the pleasure of dwelling with him. He moved with me from Dinsmore Row, to the Pi Phi House, to Alexandria, to Georgetown, to Rugby Apartments, to my parents' house and to Arlington, VA. He accompanied me on two Beach Weeks in Myrtle Beach, and spent Spring Break vacations being babysat by families in Burlington, NC and Richmond, VA.

Murph grew to be 3 years old. And yes, I cried when Murph died. A lot. Even at my cubicle at work.

I have a feeling Murph would have loved San Francisco.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Shameful, Painful Good Times

I am currently recovering from a bender of a weekend. Spent Friday night in the most shameful of DC Bars, Tom Tom in Adams Morgan. Tom Tom. Not Tom Tom's. You know shame when you look around a bar and at 25 can tell you're older than everyone else. So to compensate for feeling old, we consumed more alcoholic beverages than needed and topped the evening off with a shared Jumbo Slice. I woke up Saturday morning with a headache screaming for Excedrin.

Last night I attended a BBQ turned kegger. After kicking the keg, we all ended up at another shameful bar, this time in Georgetown: Third Edition. We pretended we were going to the Tiki Bar, but who were we kidding? The Tiki Bar is really just the back of Third Edition. You get to it by walking up an alley! Double shame. But add a few more bevs to the evening's consumption and you forget. Until you wake up Sunday morning with a headache screaming for the Excedrin that you finished off the morning before. And then it's good-bye feelings of shame, hello pain and doom.

Med School friend is always up at dawn, even on painful mornings after shameful evenings. And it's her philosophy that Tom B's - aka The Tombs - is better than Excedrin. Oh delightful morsels of crumb cake. Oh Hot and Famous omelet. In this dark crowded restaurant we hang our heads and recounted the evening. Each of us had three glasses on the table - water, Diet Coke, OJ, plus coffee. We told the waitress we are camels. She could smell us though, and she knew the truth.

It's not that we're out of control. It's just that we know I only have 32 more days until I leave for San Francisco! My friends drop everything to talk when I'm sad.
They support and encourage even when they don't agree with or understand my goal. They pretend to be interested about topics I discuss that I know bore them to tears. They give my ex-boyfriends a whole LOT of shit. So why wouldn't they lose sleep and strain their liver in the name of fun for my last month in town?

Thanks, guys. I love all of you. I just don't know how much more of this shame and pain my body can stand...

I'm thinking 32 more days is probably a good rough estimate, though.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Guy Friend Club

I used to think it was just because I was an engineering major in college. The ratio provided an ample environment for making guy friends. And now I seem to have more guy friends than anyone else I know. Probably even in the world. You think I'm kidding.

And I'm always getting romantically involved with these guy friends. My first love, which lasted 4 years and still creeps up on me here and there, was my best friend for 4 years before he became my boyfriend. And although we were never truly in love, boyfriend #2 was also a guy friend. Skip ahead to #4, never a boyfriend, but again, my best guy friend. Back up to #3, "Lover",
was not a guy friend first, and upon break-up/fade-out, did not tell me that he wanted me to be his best friend. I will cherish him always.

And now I have just told #5, albeit under the shittiest of circumstances, that I love him. He said it back, although I'm not even sure that it matters. The odds are looking pretty good that he is going to become one of the very special VIP members of my Guy Friend Club. The GFC is a great group of handsome, intelligent, funny, practically perfect men with whom I share a great deal of sexual tension. They are all incredibly special people who defend my honor at 3AM on the street in Adams Morgan and tell their parents I'm "fucking hot and cool as shit" while I stand next to them at family weekends. They invite me to play golf and drink beers and smoke cigarettes and eat pizza. They don't mind when I call them crying to let them know that another member has just joined The Club.

My relationship with #5 is complex - just like all the others - and I don't really know what to do with it. Part of me wants to put these feelings I've just shared with him in a jar on the shelf for a while. And a bigger part of me wants to put them in the jar and then fucking smash the jar to pieces. And obviously, the biggest part of me wants him to come running and sliding head first into my kitchen as I throw my jar into the floor and save it from smashing. He'll hold onto it and give me his own jar that he has in his back pocket for safe keeping. We'll accept each other's jars and be delightfullly sick with so much love.

But considering #5 is 1091 miles away, it's going to take some pretty impressive timing for him to catch my jar before it smashes to pieces on my kitchen floor.

So I'm thinking I will just keep these feelings in the jar and on the shelf for a while. Less mess. And if I do go through with the smashing, I'm going to have to invite him to join the GFC. But the GFC has really strict guidelines, including a 100% Lifetime Membership Guarantee. There's no going back and there's no tolerance for delinquency.

So #5, if you don't want to wear the Boyfriend label just yet, I'd rather not grant you GFC membership. We can swap jars in San Francisco in a few more months. And if it doesn't work out, I'll dig you up a GFC membership card. Promise. Just be prepared to have your ass hazed like hell.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Reality Bites

I've secretly - or not so secretly - always thought of him as Troy, me as Lelaina. We met in college - we lived in the same dorm. He walked me home when I could barely stand without his fraternity's banister. Later I convinced him to take a New Years road trip. After 16 hours in the car, plus Mummers and meatball sandwiches, our acquaintance became friendship.

He gave in when I begged him to take Prep Step lessons. He went with me to every date function my boyfriend refused to attend. He came to visit over the summer and hooked up with my best friend. He pretended not to notice my jealousy.
We went hiking. We had Sunday dinners. He was honest about my relationship with the boyfriend. I ruined his shirts with my tears and mascara, and he became my best friend. When she ended it with him we held sleepovers to numb the pain of our significant others becoming less significant. He gave killer pep talks and played me a special song. I tried to distract him. We drank a lot. A whole lot. And I turned into his best friend, too.

We didn't get along as roommates. I irritated him with my dancing and my vies for his attention. He never took out the trash.
I don't really remember that, though. I miss him playing Sam Cooke and practicing his pitching by throwing tennis balls into the Pappazan. I miss him cooking breakfast, followed by us drinking coffee and reading the paper. He misses me singing Coldplay constantly. He even misses me yelling at him to take out the trash. He likely won't admit any of this.

I rode the wave of Red Sox fandom with him. I sunk with his lows and shook with his explosions. I listened to him cry and told him it wasn't a waste of time.
He stepped in when enough was enough with another boyfriend. He read to me and gave me his bed. He protected like a big brother. He buys me books for my birthday, and I save all of his cards. He's an amazing writer.

He tells me I'm a good friend to people. I know this. I don't understand his relationships, and I am angered by his complacency. I think he deserves better. And I am confused by my feelings and his intentions. What we already have is more than enough. People - our friends - are jealous of this.

I don't think that this Troy and Lelaina are going to end up together. I'm not even sure I want that. But I am sure that I didn't want to leave this weekend. For the first time, I didn't want to leave.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Cure for SBKS

When using the Mason Dixon Line to divide the North and the South, Washington DC is clearly a Southern district. I know it's no where close to being in the Deep South, but for a Yankee from Philly, The District is more Southern than Northern.

And it has been a really EFFING hot summer this year. Deep South all the way. Yesterday I was outside for a total of 10 minutes at lunchtime and was embarrassed to look down and notice that boob sweat had collected on my shirt. Fear struck. I was soaked. Hair. Neckline. Forearms. Back. Back of the Knees!

My friends and I call it SBS - Sweaty Back Syndrome. It's in full effect for many of us in DC this time of year. SBS makes the Metro stink. It ruins our plans to skip the cab and walk to a friend's house. It makes us have to be on top of our drycleaning like no other.

Now, don't get me wrong. I effing HATE SBS. But there's one thing I hate more, and that's SBKS - Sweaty Back of the Knee Syndrome. SBKS is SBS's evil step sister. I don't think there is anything more nasty than sitting in your car in the summer and feeling the forbidden droplet of sweat run from the back of your knee down your calf.

I used to dream of one day striking it rich by inventing a tool to at least compensate for SBKS. I planned on making colorful sweatbands for the knee. Sure they'd be heinous, but I figure that Jams were heinous and they totally worked in the 80s. A little sweatband around the knee couldn't be much worse.

The thing is, it probably could be worse. So I'm moving to San Francisco. My practical cure for SBKS.