Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Overachieving Slacker

Hump Day. Finally, it's over. I am exhausted. My first week of working remotely for Xcalibur and I think I've put in more focused effort than ever. My boss said I'm the type of person he trusts to work remotely. I am positive that being this type of person is going to kill me some day.

It's not that I'm a workaholic. It's just that I hate screwing over other people. Plus, we have this really great flex-time policy, and all the extra hours I worked today discredit the vacation time I took last week while trekking across the country. Can't beat that. It benefits my vacation balance and the company's bill-bill-bill-bill-bill philosophy. A win-win-win-win-win!

Being considerate of others is an honorable personality trait. I am proud to be this type of person. But sometimes I wish I could have picked up Carefree and Flightly from the gene pool. Flighty does peak out every now and then, actually. So I guess I did knock into Flighty during my fetal swim for chromosones. To be honest, Flighty is one of the reasons I spent so many hours working this week. And Flighty is the MAIN reason I will be removing "Proficiency in Excel" from my resume. Immediately.

I'm also so tired because I've gotten more exercise the past three days than I have the past three weeks. I got in another run today. 7 miles. This time I could have touched the Golden Gate Bridge I got so close. If I were taller, that is. I had a nice runner's high today, but that only elevates me to a perceived 5'6". Not good enough. And in moving my car 5 times today, I racked up another 90 minutes of walking. And panting. They don't call this place Nob Hill for nothing. And yes, I've pulled my left buttock muscle. (But not my left boob, Dad.)

So, to balance my overachievement at work and exercise, I just want to admit that I know I am about to fail miserably at putting a dent in the last 200 pages of Harry Potter. Yes, I'm still reading it. Yes, it is taking me over a month. Yes, I am slacking. And YES, this is SO unacceptable.

Ha ha. So true to form. I even overachieve at slacking. Now THAT is one for the resume.

Easy Running

Throughout most of the summer, and especially throughout The (Last) 12 Days of DC, I just sort of forgot - intentionally - that I am registered for the Nike Women's Marathon on October 23, here in San Francisco.

So, yesterday I decided to suck it up and go for a run. My first run in San Francisco. I headed down Sacramento Street and North on Van Ness, and I quickly found myself at the edge of The Bay. I headed east again and had a rather pleasant run. And I got in about 5 miles. I think. I hope...

It's amazing how easy it is to run when the wind in your face doesn't feel like a hair dryer. Or the air that you breathe isn't sopping wet. And sweat isn't polluting your eyes.

It's amazing how easy it is to run when you're staring at the Golden Gate Bridge. And all the San Francisco hotties who are running alongside of you.

In the words of (in my opinion) the greatest of all the easy runners, "The Penguin" John Bingham, "Waddle on, Friends!"

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Furniture Fixation

My first day in San Francisco is drawing to a close. For the most part, I spent the day fixing up my room. Which involved a trip to IKEA, of course. I am beginning to worry that my obsession with IKEA is a little unhealthy. I only need to hit it up a few more times, though. Then I'll be able to stop, I promise. Cold turkey.

IKEA is great on many levels, but what I particularly appreciated today was the fact that the store layout is exactly the same as the layout in Woodbridge, VA. And College Park, MD. And King of Prussia, PA. See?!?!?! How can you NOT be obsessed with a store that is exactly the same, no matter where it is located?

This place still feels a little strange, but I know it will get better. Especially after I find a Target!

Put up some cool pics of the neighborhood. Check 'em out.

Final Destination

I'm here! Home! In San Francisco!

The drive yesterday from L.A. to San Francisco was decent. I totally wimped out and didn't do the drive up Pacific Coast Highway. RED (yes, he gets to be named, now, because we had a nice visit) couldn't go with me, and I was too tired to drive 12 hours by myself. We plan on making the trip soon, though. In a convertible, nonetheless. Which will be much nicer than squeezing into Honda with his stuff and my life in the backseat. Plus, L.A. has taken its toll on RED. Gone are the days of the hatchback Mazda 323. He now drives a Lex, and Honda just isn't up to par. His loss, though. Any car that can take you from DC to SF in 8 days and 3500 miles is a fine in my book.

So for my final day of driving, I only endured six hours in the car. Only 6 hours... Funny how my frame of reference has changed in a week's time. On the license plate front, it was pretty boring. CA, OR, WA, AZ, and CO. No East Coast. I like to think that people get excited to see my DC plates, but I have a small feeling that I'm the only person who takes this much pleasure from looking at license plates.

I got into the city last night around 7:30 P.M. It was an eventful arrival. Would you believe that I got stuck at a red light at the top of THE steepest hill in the city? (Or so my roommate says... Taylor and California? I'll do some research.) Remeber, Honda has a manual transmission. As I turned onto Taylor from Pine (and down-shifted into second gear) I could feel my heart start to pound. I swear this hill was almost vertical. I prayed the light at the top of the hill would stay green. The prayer did not work. Uncle Jim and JBB, the two patient men who taught me how to drive stick, would have been so proud. No stalling, but it still smells like burnt rubber around my car.

Sacramento Street, my new address, is also quite hilly. Hell, I'm in Nob Hill - not sure what else I should have expected. Our block is downhill, luckily. But the uphill parallel parking should be a blast.

I arrived to find my roommates up on the rooftop soaking in the city and a few bottles of wine. I joined them and learned within a few minutes how our circles overlap. Friends from college and high schoool are both shared friends between all of us. So even after a humbling 8 day drive to get here, I'm again feeling good about how small the world is.

And so now I am tackling the daunting task of fitting everything into my room. I'm a lot nervous. "Everything" hasn't even arrived yet. However, organizing is my #1 favorite challenge. And it's good to put my systems engineering degree to the test every now and then...

Friday, August 26, 2005

I'm Going Going Back Back to Cali Cali

In the words of Notorious BIG, I'm going back to Cali. And this time I'm staying... indefinitely.

We had to peel ourselves from Sedona, but we were able to get on the road by 12:22 P.M. And we arrived safely in Los Angeles, CA at 7:47 P.M. A rather enjoyable 484 miles, even with the added burden of navigating Los Angeles during rush hour while driving directly into the setting sun. I'm not quite sure I understand the glory of riding into the sunset. You can't see shit. And L.A., do me a favor and paint some goddamn lines on the freeway so I know where my lane is. But I digress.

I'll be in Los Angeles for a few days. I'm staying with my friend from high school. Yes, FRIEND. The original member of the GFC who messed me all up back in May when he told me his only worry about me was my tendency to play it safe. You remember the conversation. (And if you don't you can catch up...) It spurred the creation of my trip as well as this blog.

Therefore I find spending my first few days in California with him more than fitting. And it's been really great, so far. Before yesterday, we hadn't seen each other for almost two years. And throughout last night, that two year span sometimes felt like two days. At other times it felt like two lifetimes. Having known each other since we were 13, we know things about each other that friends from college and post college would never even think to ask. And it's always easy to be together because those "things" from childhood and adolesence always stay with us. They are the reasons we are so much of what we are as adults. On the other hand, we haven't been a part of each others' everyday lives in nearly five years. He's different. I'm different. And experiencing each other again right now is inspiring feelings of awe. It's hard - and yet so wonderful - to believe we're 25 years old and living in California.

And so last night we celebrated. "To California!" After the toast, he looked at me and smiled. Without speaking, he told me he was glad I proved him wrong. I know it had always been a part of his plan. He's a pusher. He pushed me to UVA and now he's pushed me to California. But I'm a runner. Once I'm pushed, there's no stopping me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"Stuck" in Sedona

We're in Sedona, AZ. And we may not leave. It's THAT gorgeous here. I know that some people would hate to wake up every day to a clear blue sky against tall red mountains with glorious sunshine and no humidity. HEG and I are not some of those people.

We kicked off the day in El Paso, in search of breakfast. We hadn't eaten since the Wendy's in Van Horn, TX the night before. We were starving, and we wanted a bagel. We stopped into a 7-11 to get coffee, but no luck in the bagel department. The cashier, who had lived in NJ for a few years, laughed at us when we asked if he knew where we could find a bagel. He said we'd better go back to the East Coast. But that wasn't an option, and we settled for Egg McMuffins. It wasn't settling, though. I love me an Egg McMuffin.

Within a few minutes of driving, we crossed the New Mexico State Line. I once (briefly) dated a guy from New Mexico while living in DC. He owned seven pairs of cowboy boots, but no sneakers. He smoked Marlboro Reds and didn't like goat cheese. All signs that we shouldn't be dating. So when it ended, I wasn't that upset. (OK, MMG, I know I initially was, but they were tears of pride. And EI - can't believe I can't remember your middle name - the break-up WAS a great excuse for a girl's night. And a great girls night it was.)

Anyway, my point is that New Mexico, like the New Mexican, are full of very helpful signs. Our favorites include:
  1. Dust Storms Possible
  2. Zero Visibility Possible
  3. Don't Stop in Travel Lanes (Just keep driving even though you won't be able to see a freaking thing...)
Luckily, we paid our dues the night before with the thunderstorm, and didn't have to experience a New Mexican dust storm. We crossed the Arizona State Line before noon, drove through Tucson, dined on Arby's for lunch, and then hit Phoenix, where we got off of I-10 to begin the journey up I-17 to Sedona.

The trip up I-17 may be my favorite stretch of highway. That is likely to change once I drive up PCH in California, but for now, it's Top Dog. Cacti line the highway, and the signs along the road are also pretty amusing.
  1. Agua Fria - Sign for a Creek - We recommend renaming the creek to Agua No Existe.
  2. Bloody Basin Road - Self explanatory, hope no one has to call that street home.
  3. Big Bug Creek - Yes, we have seen some bugs here today the size of small men.
  4. Dry Beaver Creek - Reminded us of a good college story featuring, GPSH...
545 miles later and we reached our destination. The Hilton Sedona Spa. It's pretty fantastic, too. We spent some time tanning by the pool (picked up ANOTHER extra hour today!) and took a walk around town. We had a lovely dinner - I feasted on Elk, a "regional" dish - and enjoyed some wine. Sat on our balcony and overanalyzed life, just like women always do, and then went to bed around 10:30 PM.

Of course, I'm jet lagged. Without the jet part. I woke up at 3:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time and have tossed and turned (and blogged and bloggged) all morning since then. The sun is now up, and we're going to go on a hike through the Red Rocks. I may develop a reason to never leave this place... Check out the pictures from yesterday on the Photo Blog, and you'll understand why.

BUT... Then I realize that TODAY I will arrive in CALIFORNIA! I can feel my heart beating through my chest. I have goose bumps, and I can't sit still. In fact, I need to pee. So enjoy the pics and I'll post again soon!

Today's License Plates: TX, NM, OK, IL, MT (a first for me!), AZ, OR (another first!), FL, NC, TN, NY.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Deep in the Heart...

...of Texas. Spent today driving from Austin, TX through the land of nothing out I-10 West. And we're STILL in Texas. But at least we're in El Paso and so very close to New Mexico. Hell, we're pretty damn close to Old Mexico, too. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We started our day with a hike. I really needed to move around (without the aid of a car) so this was great. We departed for the hike around 7:30 AM, which may be the earliest I have ever seen HEG awake. And not only was she awake, she was functioning. And making me coffee. "Motherhood" has changed her, for sure, and it's great to see her so happy and comfortable. She deserves it more than most.

We got on the road around 12:15 PM. And we didn't get off of it until 9:57 PM. Drove through some very rural parts of the country. Parts that are so rural there aren't even power lines. There aren't even animals. And there certainly aren't people. We went through one stretch of highway that was about 250 miles long without seeing a single building. It was creepy to be driving through such isolation, and made me think twice about calling parts of SC the boonies ever again.

I'm not going to lie, calling this stretch of Trek creepy is somewhat of an understatement. There were times when I wasn't confident we'd ever see human life and civilization again. (Truck drivers, because they are mean, do not count as human, civilized life.) I was scared. And hungry. The Better Cheddars just weren't cutting it. (So inferior to Cheez-Its.) And I had to go to the bathroom. And we've already discussed the size of my bladder. So when we FINALLY saw Wendy's, I almost said a prayer of thanks. And yes, I splurged and had a Cajun Crispy Chicken Sandwich. With a Frosty. And Fries. And yes, I savored every last morsel.

But we still had two hours to go, and I have neglected to mention that for this entire drive, we had been heading directly into some interesting looking storm clouds. Interesting in the petrifying sense. What's odd is that most of the storm clouds were to the left of us (South), but to the right (North) it was clear. We knew that I-10 would eventually head more Northwesterly so as to avoid running right into Mexico, and that curve couldn't be too far away. It wasn't, actually. It's just that we first had to traverse down a long Southwesterly stretch before making the Northwesterly climb to finish the day and reach El Paso.

And that's where the trip took a turn for the worse, because we unfortunately deposited ourselves right in the middle of the worst thunderstorm I've ever experienced. Very little visibility. I slowed to 25 miles/hour. Very large trucks. They flew past me at 70 miles/hour. Very high pulse. I clenched the steering wheel. Very amazing travel companion. She told stories about her dog and told me I was doing a good job. Cracks of thunder and strikes of lightning. I honestly didn't think we'd make it to El Paso. I was sure we were going to die on I-10 in West Texas.

Finally, we saw lights. Electricity! City! People! My blood pressure went back to normal. We blasted some tunes and joked at what a tool I am. And we safely arrived in El Paso. 9 hours and 48 minutes after we departed from Austin.

People talk a lot of smack about El Paso, but it may just be my new favorite city in Texas. If only it were in New Mexico...

Today's License Plates: 575 miles, and only three distinct plates - TX, NC, TX, CA, TX, TX, TX, TX...

Monday, August 22, 2005

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

I know, I know. *WE* were never in Kansas. Ever. And we're not going there. Possibly ever. But I say this phrase figuratively, because today I learned how possible it is to feel as if you're traveling internationally even within the borders of the continental U.S.

With Louisiana behind me, I feel comfortable saying I've never seen another state like it. Open container laws aside, daiquiris can be purchased via drive thru. Counties have been replaced with parishes. Louisiana may quite possibly be the only locale in the country - other than Philadelphia - where people ask, "What parish are you from?" And my favorite, you can fill up your gas tank and then press your luck at a few hands of poker, because casinos are attached to the gas stations!

But Texas. Oh, Texas. I must admit, I was afraid to enter The Lone Star State. But I'm feeling much more comfortable here, now. Anyone familiar with the Captain Obvious Concept should come to Texas. Within my group of friends, I am the leader of the Captain Obvious pack. So luckily, for my first time in Texas, I'm feeling pretty at home.

What do I mean? Well, everything in Texas is labeled as such. Burger King has a Texas Whopper. A Toyota Dealership outside of Houston is Texas Toyota. People add Texas stickers to their cars that are already labeled Texan by their license plates. Do people from any other state DO things like this? I've never seen a Pennsylvania BigMac. Or a sticker to signify the Commonwealth of Virginia. Additionally, every tenth (I may be exaggerating...) of a mile on I-10 from the Louisiana border to Houston has a sign that says (again and again) that we're headed towards Houston. And my favorite, there are signs on US 290 that label where you can turn left. Zoolander would have been at a loss, but Captain Obvious, thank you for reporting for duty!

All joking aside, it is great to be in Texas. It's great to be in another new state. It is great to be with HEG and Boyfriend and Jake. And it's great to be so full on margaritas and Tex-Mex that I can't move. I was expecting some culture shock this far down South, but I definitely got more than I bargained for. And its great.

So, I'm headed to bed. After anoter especially long, long, day. 525 miles in 10 hours. That includes 3 pit stops plus a pull-over to conduct a conference call for work. Damn having enough responsibility that I can work from anywhere, including a gas station/casino in Louisiana...

Today's License Plates.... AL, AR, CA (My first CA sighting!), FL, GA, HI (Yes, Hawaii!), LA, MO, MS, OH, OK, PA (they're everywhere...), TN, and of course, TX!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pic's by Nic

Man, I'm on a roll.

I just created another blog on which I'm posting pictures of my trip.

Take a look!

Oh BLUE-tiful

I drove another 530 miles today. Again, it took about 9 hours after all of my pit stops (someone has GOT to invent something to increase my bladder size) and the fact that I was slowed by very heavy rain in Mississippi. I know, right? MISSISSIPPI!!!

I've been so incredibly bored with myself the past year in DC. But today I was inspired, overwhelmed, scared, and invigorated. Today, as I laughed at myself for squealing (literally) upon crossing the Alabama State Line and entering the Central Time Zone, I amused myself.

I've been amusing myself all day, in fact; and I'm in a great mood. Honda is functioning not only as a method of transport, but as a glorious concert hall. Seriously, if Jack White were riding shot-gun today, he'd have asked me to join the White Stripes. I was that good. I'm in such a good mood that I even found myself singing, "America the Beautiful" while driving through 'Bama. Gazing at clear blue skies and green hills all morning makes it rather difficult to fight the feelings of patriotism. I had to sing.

Having successfully reached New Orleans, I walked out onto Bourbon Street to grab a Sausage Po Boy and Miller Light for dinner. Sitting alone in the restaurant, I concluded that what I felt in the car today was freedom. And I am confident that there really isn't much in life that can generate more satisfaction than traversing through unknown territory with your life in your backseat.

Today's License Plates: AL, AR, AZ,
FL, GA, MA, MD, MS, NC, PA, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Discovery and the Cross Country Road Trip - Part 1

8 hours and 56 minutes. 530 miles. I've made it to Atlanta. Traversed out of VA, through NC and SC, and down 107 miles of Georgia.

License Plates Seen: CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, LA, MA, MD, MO, NC, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, and Ontario. I have not yet seen CA. I cannot WAIT to see CA.

It's great to be on my own for the start of this trip. I've been living out of a suitcase and sleeping all over DC for 3 weeks, and while it was great to stay with so many friends, it just feels so good to be able to talk to myself again without fear of interruption from anyone other than me!

I spent half of my trip today listening to a book on CD entitled, Horatio's Drive. It's the story of the FIRST ever cross country road trip. The year was 1903, and our friend Horatio drove from San Francisco to New York City. His goal was to do it in under 90 days. I took him 72, and cost him over $8000. He traversed over 5000 miles - no paved roads, few signs, bad maps - and used approximately 800 gallons of gas along the way. And in some places, because of price gauging, the gas cost him as much as $6/gallon.

I *ONLY* have 3500 miles to drive, and gasoline is *ONLY* going to cost me about $2.50/gallon. (Today it was $2.59/gallon in South Hill, VA and $2.42/gallon in Greenville, SC.) And luckily I have miles and miles of paved road to lead me along my way. (Although some of 85 in North Carolina leaves a lot to be desired...) I have an iPod (his name is Wilson) with 2600 songs on it - thanks to my favorite guy from Pueblo, CO and the beautiful LGA's computer surgery skills. And I have maps, my friends. And what's more, I can read them.

Yes, my trek will be much easier than Horatio's drive. But I don't think it should be deemed any less inspring. I think William Least Heat-Moon, author of Blue Highways and commentator in the film version of Horatio's Drive, sums it up best:

"There's nothing that we can do that is more American than getting in a car and striking out across country. I think as a nation we can think of few things that draws us more strongly than a piece of roadway heading we know not where. This is the way we grow up, this is the way we enter our history: get in a car and find the country."

Friday, August 19, 2005

And We're Off!

The (Last) 12 Days of DC, plus 13th Night Bonus are over...

And I'm in Richmond, VA!

We (LEF and I) woke up this morning and took a walk around Mount Pleasant, a DC neighborhood I'm sad I didn't take the time to explore earlier. We packed the car and headed to The Diner for a final Spanish Omellette. I took LEF, who is the other half of my best and longest friendship, to work.

For the record, LEF is notorious for traveling. We used to joke in high school that she wouldn't go anywhere or do anything that didn't get her another stamp on her passport. I'm moving to San Francisco for many reasons. And inspiration from LEF is definitely one of them. I don't know if I'd have the courage to go through with this move if I hadn't seen LEF take - and benefit from - similar risks.

So after a several hugs, I finally let go. She said she was proud and jealous and excited. I beamed even through the tears. And with a final wave - a wave that is all too familiar for us - and an, "I love you!" from my car, I was off.

Down 395 South, into the Mixing Bowl and onto 95 South. Struggling through my final DC traffic jam. - 100 miles in nearly 3 hours. Enjoying all the license plates... MA, VT, NY, CT, NJ, PA, MD, DC, VA, NC, SC, TN, GA, FL, CO, and Diplomat.

But finally, I'm here in Richmond. Leg one of Destination San Francisco a success.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Trek Itinerary

It's done. Not set in stone, mind you. But complete enough to share. 6 more days and counting...

Day 1: Friday August 19
Start: Washington, DC
End: Richmond, VA
Google Estimated Distance: 107 miles
Google Estimated Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
(Google Map)

Day 2: Saturday August 20
Start: Richmond, VA
End: Atlanta, GA
Google Estimated Distance: 534 miles
Google Estimated Time: 11 hours, 12 minutes
(Google Map)

Day 3: Sunday August 21
Start: Atlanta, GA
End: New Orleans, LA
Google Estimated Distance: 534 miles
Google Estimated Time: 9 hours, 49 minutes
(Google Map)

Day 4: Monday August 22
Start: New Orleans, LA
End: Austin, TX
Google Estimated Distance: 508 miles
Google Estimated Time: 11 hours, 17 minutes
(Google Map)

Day 5: Tuesday August 23
Start: Austin, TX
End: El Paso, TX
Google Estimated Distance: 578 miles
Google Estimated Time: 11 hours, 30 minutes
(Google Map)

Day 6: Wednesday August 24
Start: El Paso, TX
End: Sedona, AZ
Google Estimated Distance: 545 miles
Google Estimated Time: 9 hours, 21 minutes
Lodging Information: Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa
(Really excited...)
(Google Map)

Day 7: Thursday August 25
Start: Sedona, AZ
End: Los Angeles, CA
Google Estimated Distance: 478 miles
Google Estimated Time: 8 hours
(Google Map)

Day 8: Friday August 26 - No driving. My butt is going to sit all day at the beach.

Day 9: Saturday August 27
Start: Los Angeles, CA
End: San Francisco, CA
*** Still working out the kinks for this leg of the trip. I want to take Pacific Coast Highway up to SF. It'll be a long trip, and is probably worth of two days...

Total Estimated Driving Distance: 3603 miles
Total Estimated Driving Time: 75 hours, 36 minutes

We'll see what a lead foot and a radar detector can do to the time estimates. And it will come as no surprise to many of you that I will be logging actual vs. estimated distance and drive. Google Maps is still a Beta Product, and I'm sure they'd love to hear back from a user like myself. A user who is also a Business Systems Analyst who wouldn't mind taking a job at Google... But I digress. Stay tuned for updates, and if anyone has suggestions for PCH, please let me know!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Adams Morgan: A Revival

I have one more Friday night in Adams Morgan. I know we're too old (and let's be honest, a little too pretentious) to have fun at all of these bars anymore. But do it for me. One last night on the 18th Street Strip. South of Columbia Road NW and North of Florida Avenue NW. It's a street of dreams! And we're going to make memories happen one last time...
  1. We'll meet up at SKBs house. We'll pass around some beers and start spreading the good times.
  2. We'll head out into the DC Night Air around 10PM. We'll stop in at Angry Inch for a shot. In honor of MMG, we'll request, "Hot Hot Hot" and do a conga line around the bar.
  3. We'll head down to Dan's Cafe for some LIQUA drinks. In honor of 4th of July 2003, SKB and I will purchase 3 or 4 bags of Doritos from the bar, eat them, and proceed to wipe our orange fingers on my white shirt.
  4. We'll drop by Blue Room. In honor of LEJ's 24th birthday, I'll tell everyone I'm going to the bathroom, leave the bar, purchase a Jumbo Slice, take off my shoes, run back to my old apartment, and pass out with my clothes on and an un-eaten Jumbo Slice next to my bed.
  5. We'll go to Tom Tom. We won't bitch about it. Because we were all once 23 and we all once thought Tom Tom was the best bar in DC. We'll toast to the fact that it no longer is.
  6. We'll move to Peyote Cafe. Because we are finally drunk enough to be there. We will ignore the nasty stench. JMK will sing, "The Rose." Because it is the second best Karaoke moment of my life. And then MJC will sing, "Let's Get It On." Because who doesn't want to watch him make love to the microphone pole?
  7. We'll cross the street and head for Millie and Al's. We'll realize it's a bad idea just in time.
  8. We'll stroll/stumble to Chloe. If the line isn't bad, we'll bitch about paying $5 cover. Some of you will bitch about the big deal I'm making of my last weekend in town. We'll all get over it, and we'll go in. We'll have a dance-off to all the songs I used to dance to....
  9. Or, (and more realistically) we'll stumble (and I'll definitely trip) across Columbia to Adam's Mill. We'll walk all the way up to the third floor, break a sweat, realize the bar is still crowded as shit, and we'll walk back outside to the patio where we'll buy a Miller High Life because they're out of Miller Light.
  10. After finishing our Champagne of Beers, we'll be drunk enough to go to Chief Ike's and get $6 pitchers of PBR. I will dance yet again, with very large men. You will all laugh at me.
  11. Forlorno will come out. She will start to say that she is tired and just wants to take a quick nap. ALL OF YOU will not let her. We'll head back to the 18th Strip. We'll dine on JumboSlices from Pizza Mart.
We will cab home. Heads spinning. Stomachs full. Feeling good about the night. Good times in Adams Morgan - again, one last time. Revival!

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Tonight I'm not doing a good job at sticking to The (Last) 12 Days of DC Plan. At all. Car issues and just a rough day prevented me from making it to yoga. And that prevented me from having the energy to go out and sit at Tryst. I'm starving and I don't feel like eating anything as much as I feel like eating a grilled Nutella with berries from Tryst. And yet I'm sitting here at the 'puter.

I can't explain the funk. I guess I wish more friends were calling me to go out. But everyone is on vacation or already out to dinner with other friends and family. And I'm feeling slightly sorry for myself, so I'm not being rational, and I feel like I'm kind of watching them go on with life without me here. Already. I'M STILL HERE! Call!

Oh, but I can explain the funk.

I'm lazy. Staying with friends who live a 7 minute bus ride away from the 18th Street strip instead of my old 7 minute stroll. I just don't feel like riding the bus. I already rode public transportation today and it made me cherish - yes, CHERISH - my bumper to bumper commute down Route 7 onto I-66. (Air condition and NPR vs. my face in someone's sweaty armpits? It's a no brainer!)

I'm sad. Work has been so bad for so long - it's finally starting to get better. I feel like I'm jumping ship right as it's about to get really good. And I know I'm taking my job with me, and I'm not really leaving. But I am. And part of me is going to miss the 2 hour long PM meetings. And the trips to Fuddruckers. And the megaphone. And the look the programmers give me when they can't quite tell if I seriously did just do a cartwheel to keep them motivated. Or the look they give me an hour later when they finish up and realize just how much that kartwheel worked.

I'm irritated. At my car. For needing a lot of tuning up before making a 3500 mile trek down, across, and then up the left side the country. And at myself. I totally just should have gotten the car serviced at 60,000 miles. My financial priorities just aren't in line sometimes.

And I'm anxious. Wishing I either had an entire month or only an hour to wait before I could get on the road. Still so much to do here. But SO much more to do and see everywhere else...

And on that note, I realize I just smiled. Might as well figure out places to stop while driving up PCH!!! Any ideas? Anyone?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sister Once Removed

I'm half Italian. And as my dad would attest, that's all that's really worth mentioning. When I think back to all the family reunions and Christmas parties of my youth, I picture my dad drinking Scotch, speaking with the South Philly accent he has never been able to drop, discussing the enormous Italian family tree. In particular, he was normally arguing with relatives about the difference between second cousins and first cousins once removed.

It goes like this. Cousins are the children of brothers and sisters. Simple enough. If my cousin has a child, and I have a child, both of our children are second cousins. My cousin's child, though, is my first cousin once removed. A first cousin one generation off. Confused?

So tonight my dad passed through DC on his way back to Philadelphia from a golf trip in Myrtle Beach, SC. It may be the last time I see my dad until Thanksgiving. Or until he puts his money where his mouth is and buys a flight to San Francisco to visit me in my new home. Dad has done an excellent job at irritating me the past three months regarding my pending move. Examples...

1) Why would anyone live on the Left Coast when the East Coast is so clearly RIGHT? (Not funny)
2) It's just that it's realy annoying to fly places. You get there and have to rent a car! (I offered to pick him up at the airport but he didn't hear me.)
3) And it's also really annoying to check luggage at the airport. Have you ever tried to check a set of golf clubs? (No, I haven't, but you did it when you went to Scotland without complaining...)

But last night, as we were saying good-bye for a few months, my Dad didn't complain at all that I was moving so far away. He said he knew I was doing what I had to do. And that he knew I'd meet tons of new friends. And that I would be successful at work and in school. And that he is just generally very proud of me, his sister once removed. It was good to hear. Even after all these years of saying I didn't need to hear it, it's still good to hear that your parents are proud of you.

There were tears. But he then he told me I didn't have to cry. And he said that I have more balls than most men he knows.

Daddy's Little Girl. (Sister Once Removed.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Not So Simplex Method

Back at UVA, I had to take a class in Operations Research as part of the Systems Engineering curriculum. For this class I purchased the heaviest, most expensive textbook of my life. For this class I spent more hours doing homework and studying than any other class I have ever taken. And my reward for surviving this dreadful class was the worst final class grade of my life. A solid C.

I am not complaining. I should have failed that class, so that C is fucking beautiful.What does a C in Operations Research have to do with my drive to California? Pretty much everything.

The continental United States covers 3,618,784 square miles. And according to Google Maps, my old apartment in Washington, DC and new apartment in San Francisco, CA are separated by a mere 2,813 miles of road. Given the limited amount of driving a car can complete on a tank of gas, and the even more limiting amount of urine my bladder can hold at any given moment, driving from DC to SF will require hundreds of pit stops.

But I think it’s pretty important to make these pit stops really count. I want to visit places I’ve never been (Texas! Grand Canyon!) and see friends I haven’t seen in years. (You know who you are.) So I will not be following the shortest path distance depicted by Google Maps.

My trip will more likely be depicted with a Network Flow. And the process of determining how I will get from DC to SF, becomes a problem in Operations Research.

Goal: Minimize the time (and cost) of driving from DC to SF while maximizing the enjoyment of the journey from DC to pit stop to pit stop to pit stop... pit stop to SF.


  • 1999 Honda Civic LX Gast Tank holds 11.1 gallons
  • 1999 Honda Civic LX gets approx. 35 miles/gallon
  • 25 Year Old Bladder capacity unknown
  • 25 Year Old Average Bladder Control Duration 3.5 Hours
  • 5 Friends to Visit along the Way

In the end, I need to pump as much satisfaction through the cross country network and as little cash as possible. And I know that this balancing exercise is a perfect Min Cost Flow problem. My real problem, however, is that I don't know how to solve the damn problem. The Simplex Method should do the trick, but how does one apply this algorithm – or any algorithm for that matter – to personal life?

The good news is that Law School Friend is in! One less variable. A start!

So (Dad), please check out the linked sites. Maybe you can figure out how to apply non-linear programming to my life. Until then, I will make use of the fact that I’m only quasi engineer. Time to abandon my systems engineering principles and use that right brain of mine to figure this out.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The (Last) 12 Days of DC

In the words of my pseudo big brother, I will soon be "joining a fledgling high-tech company, riding it to the top, selling out and completing [my] transformation into a corporate bulldog." So both in honor and direct avoidance of these events, we thew a party. One last chance to dance, party, and drink with the DC Young Professionals. One last chance to reminisce about songs I used to dance to...

5 handles of liquor.
4 magnums of wine.
3 bottles of champagne.
2 Kegs.
And 1 girl happily passed out at 1:30 AM. (Yes, she made it past midnight!)

Yes, 40 of my closest friends (and then some?) showed up to send me off to SF with a headache.
Yes, I wore an "I [heart] DC" shirt.
Yes, I drank too much champagne.
Yes, I had mascara streaks down my cheeks, for I did cry at the end of the night.
Yes, a few of the guys sang "Afternoon Delight" to me to try cheer me up.
No, I don't remember any of it.

Which means, it was a great party. We did dance. And we did drink. And we certainly did party. Although I never got around to showing everyone all the dances I used to do...

Lucky for all of you, I haven't been effective in planning my cross country drive. So I still have one more weekend in DC. I've got my costumes ready and my drinking face is still in the GAME ON position.

Let The (Last) 12 Days of DC Begin!
It's a tentative schedule, but I think it about sums up how I will be spending the last 12 Days of DC...
  1. August 7 - Recovery Day
  2. August 8 - Keg Clean-up and Coldstone Run
  3. August 9 - Arlington Trail Run and Dinner with Percy
  4. August 10 - Cafe Saint Ex with Special Guest, Mr. F!
  5. August 11 - Studio Serenity Yoga + Tryst (or Adams Mill?)
  6. August 12 - Adams Morgan Bar Crawl Complete with Jumbo Slice
  7. August 13 - Daytime Brunch & Booze, Evening U Street Bar Crawl
  8. August 14 - Memorial Bridge Morning Run (ha ha!), Evening Dinner Party with Special Guest, Mrs. F!
  9. August 15 - Chadwicks Half Price Burger Night
  10. August 16 - Recovery Night (Except for the Pi Phis...)
  11. August 17 - Rosa Mexicano Happy Hour
  12. August 18 - One Last Diner Breakfast
Remember, The (Last) 12 Days of DC isn't just for those who are leaving town, so start those liver pep talks and I'll see you all at Cafe Saint Ex on Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I have been looking forward to driving cross country almost as much as I have been looking forward to moving to San Francisco. I have been planning on leaving on the 18th or 19th of August. Driving the Southern route, stopping to visit friends in Atlanta, Austin, and Los Angeles, then driving up the coast into San Francisco. In between the stopovers to visit friends, I hoped to visit New Orleans, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas...

And I hoped to do all of this with one of my friends. Because we don't get to see each other enough. And because this friend has always wanted to take this trip, too. And because this friend is one of the few people with whom I can sit in a car for a week and not kill. And because this friend doesn't have a job and doesn't have to worry about taking vacation.

But now this friend can't go. And I've asked someone else, but it doesn't seem like that friend can go, either. And I know I'm taking this all wrong, but it's starting to feel like a personal rejection.

I know everyone has work, but d
oesn't everyone have a boss like mine? Am I the only person who is allowed to dip into negative vacation time? Who doesn't work flex time these days? Can't everyone just load up on 10 and 12 hour days for the next two weeks to compensate for being out of the office for a week? Doesn't everyone have the "freedom" to work from anywhere? They do give you laptops and cell phones and crackberries, right? Don't you find it impossible to leave your job at the office anyway? Surely you can work during the trip - I plan on plugging in at night!

Luckily, I have Old Roommate to keep things in perspective. She reminded me that most people in DC do work strict schedules: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm without much more than two or three weeks vacation that must be booked well in advance. They don't all have laptops and crackberries. Luckily, she pointed out, I'm not likely to run into this problem once I make friends in San Francisco.

So, I have asked one more friend. And I've lowered the companionship requirements from DC to SF down to Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA. Fingers crossed...