Wednesday, July 28, 2010

10 months 13 days later....

I was sitting in traffic this afternoon on my way home from work, and for no apparent reason, it dawned on me that I've been here almost a year already (10 months and 13 days to be exact), which prompted me to dig through the file cabinets in my brain at all that I've seen and experienced in that time. In some ways it seems like I newly moved here and I'm still just a tourist gawking at all this city has to offer, but in so many other regards it feels like I'm a real Washingtonian. I still can't believe everything that has happened to me.....
1. I lived in a basement with weird bugs ~ and survived!
2. Figured out how to use a credit card parking meter
3. Rode a city bus
4. Rode the subway system
5. Received more parking, speeding, and red-light camera tickets than I can count (yet not a single point on my license because I was never cited in person by an officer!!)
6. Attempted to do my own taxes but quickly realized that was the worst idea I'd ever had and turned them over to a friend to complete
7. Visited several new states/sites/cities~ NYC, Virginia Beach, Vermont, Maryland, and upcoming the Outer Banks and Shanandoah, VA
8. Shopped for a new apartment and decided on one by myself, which is huge for me considering I usually ask for several opinions when making big decisions
9. Went on several job interviews and decided on a new career ~ realized that I despise the corporate world and if I'm not intrinsically motivated by my job, I'm going to loathe getting out of bed everyday
10. Met the Russian Ambassador and had tea at the Russian Embassy
11. Am currently living without cable television ~ it was a rough first week but I'm doing okay now without it
12. Met my wonderful boyfriend ~ who knew I had to go 8 hours from Ohio to meet a nice midwestern Ohio guy?? God certainly has a sense of humor :)
13. Started painting with acrylics and oils and I even have an awesome French easel!
14. Spent my first holiday ever away from family, but hosted my own Easter dinner here for friends, neighbors, and strangers
15. Did laundry at a laundromat - once and never again!
16. Had my purse stolen at a gas station while I was standing next to my car pumping gas
17. Experienced a blizzard with record snowfall; then record heat temperatures this summer; and then a record earthquake (although I was asleep for that)
18. Rode a segway for the first time
19. Attempted Copeira classes - Brazillian martial arts and dance
20. Attended a protest rally on the Capitol lawn
21. Saw the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, WWII Memorial, White House, Library of Congress, Senate and House buildings, and the Supreme Court
22. Attended mass at the church that broadcasts mass on national television and which I used to watch as a little kid on Sunday mornings when I was too sick to go to mass
23. Attended the national fourth of July parade and fireworks - eh, not impressed
24. Competed in the Great Urban Race
25. Kicked open a secret passageway door (it was at the Spy Museum and completely legal but cool nonetheless)
26. Ate at IHOP for the first time
27. Shopped at a grocery store that has "thunder" and "rain" in the produce section

Hmmm.....there's so many new experiences and I want to remember all of them, so I guess it's a good thing I blog! Ha! I think I'm doing an okay job holding my own in this city, but no amount of time here will ever take away my midwestern roots :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here ya go, Sissy!

(below): Franklin Delanor Roosevelt statue
My 14 year old sister kindly brought to my attention that I only had 1 picture on my blog from her and my mom's trip to visit me, yet I have far more pictures of other things on my blog. So lil sis, here are some more and YOU are in all 3 :) Love you!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Duckpin Bowling

When I moved to DC, I promised myself that I would experience everything I possibly could and not pass up an opportunity to do something out of the, Sam and I went Duckpin Bowling! Never heard of it??? Me neither until one of my coworkers started talking about bowling and she mentioned the ball didn't have holes and fit in the palm of your hand. I was like hold on a second, that's not bowling but come to find out, Duckpin bowling is simply bowling to easterners....a native of Baltimore likely has never heard of midwestern bowling. Fascinating!

Anyways, in Duckpin Bowling the ball is about the size of a softball (no more than 5 inches in diameter) and weighs 2-4 pounds. It is made of wood and doesn't have finger holes. The pins are about half the size of a regular bowling pin and are more squat at the bottom. It definitely took a couple games to get used to throwing the ball! Luckily, each player gets 3 tries instead of 2 to knock all the pins down because it's more difficult. But what a fun game!!! And we were lucky enough to go on "disco Friday" so we had unlimited bowling all night and the bowling alley played music and had colored lights and disco balls up and down the lanes. The place we went was old school without electronic scoring, which was actually half the fun because Sam and I made up our own rules for different games and we could change the scoring methods :) Sadly, by the end of the night after 8 games, I went 0 for 8....Sam was a champ at Duckpin Bowling even though he claims he'd never heard of it ;-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The HOV Lane

The HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane should be renamed the ICT (I cause traffic) lane because that's really what that lane does. Think about it....HOV lanes are in effect during the busiest traffic times of the day to reward all the carpool people for sharing a ride (some HOV lanes are for 2 people, some for 3) but in essence, all it does is take away a lane during the time of day where the most number of cars are using the freeway. Hence, the HOV lane actually causes traffic jams. For all of you crunchy-granola-environmental-hippies reading this who like HOV lanes because it provides an incentive for people to share rides and reduce our "carbon footprints", stop and think about it for a minute.....HOV = cars condensed to fewer lanes = major traffic jams = cars sitting idle on the freeway much longer = increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. So, the HOV lane does not promote ecologic friendliness but rather causes people to spend an hour longer getting home from work every day, which is one hour longer cars run than if the HOV lane didn't exist and people were free to drive in any lane, thereby reducing travel time.

I have just solved the global warming problem. Do away with all HOV lanes and the environment will thank you. Next on my list of things to do: meet with Al Gore about this problem.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just call me Martha

My mom and sister came to visit me this weekend, so naturally we had craft time :) I am a huge craft person ~ scrapbooks, painting, glueing, coloring, building, etc. etc. etc. Give me a glue gun and pompoms over a rock concert any day! We went to this very cool store called Paper Source where they have not only craft projects but also stationary, old fashioned games, and lots of random items that no one actually needs but everyone thinks they do after seeing them - i.e. bandaids that look like a strip of bacon, soap carved into a gnome, and paperclips with fabric doilies on them. Anyways, they do have some really awesome crafts that you make from paper, such as this wreath! We bought the kit and assembled it in one afternoon so that I now have a beautiful decoration for my door. I think it would be really cool to have an entire wall covered in paper flowers....maybe that will be my next project after I make a mosaic of myself from jellybeans :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Heaven on Earth ~ It Really Exists!!

Dylan's Candy Bar

Me and a giant bathtub of gumballs ~ this proves candy belongs in EVERY room of a home!

The wall of famous people who have visited Dylan's and chosen their favorite kind of candy to autograph....I wasn't asked for mine, but I think it must be because the store was just too crowded that day :)

3 floors of yumminess

Owner Dylan Lauren, daughter of clothing designer Ralph Lauren. Her picture is made from jelly beans. My next art project!

The store is a candy mecca!

Always good to be prepared no matter where you are in the world!

Welcome to Dylan's Candy Bar - a.k.a. Colleen's heaven on earth come true! Situated on 60th St. and 3rd Ave., Dylan's is a must visit store for everyone who goes to NYC. It was founded by Dylan Lauren, the daughter of famous clothing designer Ralph Lauren, which in and of itself is ironic because I bet she is a size 2 yet has the metabolism of someone who can live on candy and not gain an ounce. Grrrr! Aggravating! But anyways, the store has 3 levels of candy - pretty much anything you could think of and ever want from gummy bears and gummy fried eggs to sour things and overwhelms your senses upon first glance! There is even a chocolate fountain that you can pay to dip fruit or marshmallows in....funny, it didn't list a price for just opening your mouth under it :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

NYC's finest

Welcome to Mannahatta Park located in New York City. No, I am not joking ~ you are looking at an actual park, NOT to be confused with a sidewalk garden (which may be the appearance at first glance). Just to show you that it's a real park, there is a list of park rules, including one that reads "Park closes at dark." REALLY???? Are you serious NYC???? On a recent trip to the city, Sam and I stumbled upon this most ridiculous park....I mean come on, the list of rules is as big as the park itself. And how exactly do you close a park of the sidewalk at night?? And why? So people don't get lost in the park after dark? I am dumbfounded right now. Shouldn't there be some kind of minimum requirement for a piece of land to be a park?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Celebrating the 4th DC Style

My first 4th of July in DC! I was very excited to celebrate our nation's birthday in the nation's capital, but I was sorely disappointed in the parade and fireworks. Don't get me wrong, it was neat to see so many people decked out in red, white and blue regalia and to be in DC amongst all the hype, but can you believe no one threw candy at the parade??? I've never in my life been to a parade where they didn't throw candy into the crowd. I mean really, why would someone go to a parade in 100 degree weather to stand with a million sweaty, smelly spectators all to see a couple gigantic character balloons and watch people walk down the middle of a street?? I'll tell you why, it's because the people walking down the middle of the street are suppose to throw candy to the crowd! I was so sad when I realized there wasn't going to be any candy....Sam warned me he didn't think there would be, but I just couldn't for the life of me imagine a parade void of candy. Oh well....

Now for the fireworks....the main DC ones were lame but the local ones were amazing! I didn't go to the mall for the fireworks because it was absolute mayhem with security checkpoints and a million people, so perhaps if I was actually at the Washington Monument with the live music, it would have been better. Instead, Sam, myself and some friends walked towards the fireworks until we could see them. They were just eh....nothing spectacular and a very very short display! I'd say 15 minutes maximum! But on our way back, we all stopped at a park and watched the locals setting off firework displays that rivaled the main ones! They were unbelievable and lasted a good 45 minutes to an hour. We all agreed that we would rather have skipped the main fireworks all together and just stayed at the park! Ha!

Overall it was an unforgettable 4th of July and there certainly was never a dull moment. Most of the residents in my apartment building, along with our friends and family, all got together for a BBQ in the afternoon. We ate and played games and had a great time getting better acquainted and celebrating.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another of life's mysteries

I'd really like to know what it is about heavy machinery left unattended at night on a residential street that seems to call out "climb aboard" it the fact that I know I'm probably not suppose to be on it? Or perhaps that I need to fill a subconscious desire to be a construction worker? Or is it simply that I write a blog and want to put on it every DC experience, which compels me to never leave home without my camera? So many unanswered questions, but here I am not merely sitting on the bulldozer thingy but acting as if I am driving it.....and yes, afterwards I promptly Purelled my hands :)

I couldn't resist

After Jazz in the Garden, Sam and I explored some of the gardens around the Smithsonian Castle and stumbled upon this quaint little brick-path area. Well, one of the gardens had gorgeous Stargazer Lilies growing and I couldn't quite reach the flower from the path but I really wanted to smell it, so I decided what the heck, I would climb right on up in the garden and take a whiff! It was delightful :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jazz in the Garden

Jazz in the Garden should be renamed "Masses of People Crunched in the Garden"! Wowzers! Sam and I went to Jazz in the Garden at the art museum and ended up running into one of my co-workers and her boyfriend outside the metro station, so the 4 of us enjoyed a fun evening of jazz.....well, couldn't really hear the music, but we did enjoy a nice picnic and a bottle and pitcher of sangria :) Every Friday, the lawn of the art museum opens up the sculpture garden to people for picnics and jazz music. Sam said it gets crowded and we should go early in the evening, but apparently 6:30pm was not quite early enough! We found a small section of open grass just big enough to fit the four of us. Thankfully it was a low-humidity day, which is probably why so many people decided it would be a good night for Jazz in the Garden! It was a nice evening and I liked getting to experience one more new thing in DC, but as someone who doesn't like crowds so much, I am content to enjoy a Friday night picnic elsewhere in DC :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Hidden Oasis

Theodore Roosevelt new favorite escape! The island is only accessible by foot and no bicycles are even allowed ~ purely a walking experience....although there were quite a few people running as well but really, who runs?? Why would you do that?? Runners miss all the beauty of nature because they zip right by! Anyways, the island is only 80 acres and it really is an island in the middle of the Potomac. Sam and I took a picnic dinner and enjoyed it in the serenity of nature (and a giant statue of Teddy Roosevelt) then hiked the island. We found a boardwalk that winds through swampy marsh ~ funny little side story, so there is a sign by the marsh that says it's a tidal marsh and when high tide comes in it can wash away the boardwalk....really?? High tide in a river?? My theory is that whoever was responsible for putting up signs on the island also had a side job putting up signs on ocean beaches and mixed up his two jobs. Okay, back to the island. So we saw a sign walking along a path that said "Stay on Trail" and naturally we saw a man-made path right behind that sign so we hopped over it and did a little off-trail exploration. Well, it completely paid off because we found a beach!!!! A beautiful beach overlooking Georgetown and as a reward for our off-trail exploration, we saw a magnificent sunset.....of course the park closes at dark and we had no idea where we were on the island, so we didn't take too long to savor the sunset knowing we had to vacate the island relatively soon! Ha! I saw one too many creepy spiders for me to even contemplate being trapped for the night!

Another awesome DC spot to check off my list :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

If you give a baby a lemon...

....he might look as adorable as Squishy here :) My friend's baby boy is 6-7 months old (can't remember exactly) and he is so precious! His real name is Henry but because he is so stinkin' cute and huggable, I think the name Squishy fits him better. Some people think all babies are adorable.....I'm not one of them. Let's face it, some babies are just not very pretty or they cry and whine all the time making them downright annoying, but Squishy doesn't fall into either one of those categories. He is a very content little guy ~ not too fussy, he fits into the crook of your arm like a football making him very lap-friendly, he smiles and giggles at all the right moments, and when you give him a lemon, he dutifully makes a hilarious face :)