Saturday, January 31, 2009

Joy to the Weekend

Hmmm, no posts in awhile so I figured I'd check in. Today is a cool but sunny Saturday, which mean I should (?) be out and about exploring the city.  Instead I've been quite content hanging out at the house and being productive around here.  My housemates LA and D are traveling, so I've had the whole place to myself since Wednesday.  I was looking forward to solo time and a little peace and quiet, but when I came home the other night it felt surprisingly... empty.  I lived alone for years (in a basement, no less!) in State College, but I guess I've gotten used to coming home to friendly faces.  I've really come to enjoy weeknights cooking dinner and sitting around the living room and unwinding with my new friends.  I was feeling a little bummed until Jesse popped in with Sky and the baby, a welcome surprise for a weeknight.  
Things have slowed down a lot around here since the Inauguration.  Did I tell you that I got to go?  I meant to post a recap of those few days and never got around to it, so maybe I'll do that later tonight.  Socially things may have quieted down but it's been crazy at work.   Everyone is running around (literally) trying to respond to urgent requests from the Transition Team for this stimulus package ordeal.  I'm not sure if you heard, but the House has 400 million dollars specifically for geothermal, which all comes from our office.  Our little office, which now manages only 20 million.   It's a little hard to grasp (I'm still not used to talking about money in millions) and we are literally scared of what this means.  If this indeed passes, what it means is that we have to a) put a LOT of thought into how to spend this wisely, b) spend it FAST, which is more difficult to do than it sounds, and c) justify everything we do, how many jobs it creates, etc.  It's exciting to be involved in the process and I'm learning a lot.  It amazes me how quickly certain things can change in government while other simple things can take FOREVER.  
Last night I went to see Thievory Corporation at the 9:30 Club, a place I've been meaning to check out for awhile.  They played a great show, which inspires me to see more live music here in DC. 
I'm traveling back to the west coast on Friday, so today I'm doing tasks to put my life together - aka, laundry, dishes, sorting mail, grocery shopping.  For me this is always extremely therapeutic.  I'm trying to figure out what to make for Missy's superbowl party tomorrow.  There will be plenty of I.C. Light and pierogies, so I'm thinking about sharing some of the hot peppers and making banana bars.  They aren't exactly Pittsburgh-esque but I'm thinking I can doctor them up with a little yellow food coloring in the cream cheese icing :) I am excited to watch the game with some Steelers fans.  I'm off to the store now...  Steelers here we go!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Here We Go

Inauguration weekend is finally here.  Everyone who lives here in DC has been scared to death to see what will happen when 1-3 million people come to town.  Last night didn't seem too crowded, but it was soo cold out;  I expect most everyone to be here by tomorrow morning for Sunday afternoon's free concert at the Lincoln Memorial featuring Beyonce, Bruce Springstein, and Garth Brooks (to name a few...).  
I'll be sleeping in my own bed instead of my car since we never ended up renting out our apartment.  I posted an ad once on Craigslist after the New Year but didn't receive any inquires.  I was a little surprised until I read this article in the Washington Post and discovered that lots of people in the city have the same experience.  The demand for housing here in DC essentially crashed about a week after the election, probably due to all the warnings about how bad it was going to be when people got here.  In my opinion not renting our place is a win-win situation.  With what some are calling 'crush level crowds', packed metros, and temperatures barely at 30, it will be great to be able to walk a few blocks back to our place for our own bathroom and a warm couch in front of the TV.  Reporters say that anyone who wants to see the ceremony should probably be on their way at about sunrise.  Since the bars are open until 5 AM this week, maybe that plan will work out perfectly.  
So yes, I'm fortunate to be a D.C. resident during this important event, but I'm not sure how crazy I'll feel to venture deep into the madness.  I'll do my best to take and post some photos of what I do experience.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

il a ete un bon week-end!

It was a good weekend!  Nothing spectacular, but in case anyone is interested in hearing how yours truly passes a 'normal' weekend in D.C. here we go...
Friday was my day off.  It felt great having a short 4-day week after the long holiday period.  We're given the option to work a 9-80 schedule, meaning nine hour days and one day off every other week.  Given that everyone in the office is on 9-80 and I would probably work a 9-hour day regardless, this is a great perk to my job.  
Despite the fact that it was my day off, I still had to go to a meeting for coffee at 8:30 with my boss and the head of a big organization in DC that we work with.  The meeting was at Starbucks in Capitol Hill so I didn't mind the motivation to get myself up early and make the most of my day.  I was hit with feelings of nostalgia as I packed my bag in the morning, ready to head to the coffee shop.  Snacks... laptop... gym clothes... current book I'm reading... check! It was just like grad school!  It was only five months ago that I would set out the same way - no particular agenda, just a long and varied to-do list and hopes to get most of it done.  I can't say I was all that productive, but I was pretty good for a Friday off.  
Friday night was incredibly fun as we ended up back at the Ghana Cafe in Adams Morgan.  The Ghana Cafe is a small bar/danceclub that plays west african and american hiphop music (alternatively... every 20 minutes or so) in the upstairs bar.  The walls are covered in mirrors just as they are (apparently) in Africa.  Everyone is friendly and dances the entire time and it's just a lot of fun.  After dancing pretty much nonstop from 10 until 2 I literally almost couldn't walk.  It's a good thing we took the cab ride home!
Saturday was supposed to be cool and wet so my plans were to hibernate pretty much all day, which was fine until I realized we could venture down to the gym to use the sauna and steam room.  I really like everything about the gym I joined but I absolutely LOVE the steam room.  I've used hot dry saunas before but never these that surround you in warm wonderful mist.  It's perfect after a tough workout but just as perfect on any random day you want to feel like taking a trip to the spa ;)  Then on Saturday night I made a ham and bean soup in the crock-pot and we all hung out at the house and played our favorite games: Apples to Apples and Catchphrase.  I still can't beat my roommates yet at A-to-A but at least I'm catching onto their humor enough to keep up. 
Sunday was... long.  We got up early to say goodbye to LA's friend and ate an awesome breakfast that she cooked for us.  LA wanted to try something different with spaghetti squash and I had no ideas so we ended up using them to make fritters, which were more like pancakes but so delicious.  For his birthday, Dennis got a growler of dark beer by Dogfish Head but it went bad and he needed a way to use it, so I suggested cooking with it and remembered a recipe for Emeril's chili that calls for dark beer and dark chocolate.  Who could argue with ingredients like that?  I've had this chili before but never made it myself, so this became my project for the day and it turned out great!  I used a combo of turkey and ground beef... the beer makes it slightly sweet and you can taste just a hint of the chocolate... so I think it's a keeper.  Let me know if you want the recipe.    We finished off the weekened with an awesome win by the Steelers and that's about it.  Ive got my house into Season 2 of Dexter, which I've seen before but it's fun been fun to watch with friends, although I find myself thinking of blood and duct tape just a little too often and in a whole different way.  Hmm, could this be the cause of my nightmares?!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I dream of... tornadoes?

I'm a pretty heavy sleeper and rarely remember my dreams, but I do have one reoccurring dream element that's been popping up for several years - tornadoes.  The story line always involves me stuck somewhere, usually in a car or a house, surrounded by tornadoes.  Sometimes there's only one, but I often see multiple funnel clouds dangling from the sky.  I never die in these dreams, and rarely do I remember actually getting swept up in them, but usually I'm very, very close. In these dreams I'm terrified, hiding or dodging them, but I'm never physically running away.  

I realize this is a pretty obvious dream symbol: emotional turmoil. Dreams of air represent thought and the thought process, whereas water is more emotional.  I've had a water storm dream only once, but I think the tornado is specific to me and my life based on my historical fear of tornadoes...
This all started on a camping trip with my friend and her parents.  This was probably almost 18 years ago, but I remember driving down the road to the campground and getting a very bad feeling in my gut as I noticed dark, charcoal blue clouds way out in the distance.  I was assured it was nothing, but sure enough, five hours later, we're trapped in the camper.   It's rocking back and forth and hail is pounding on the window.  We lose power after we hear the tornado warnings come through the TV.  I am young and with strangers.  My friend's dad is outside, cooking corn on a wet fire, a bowl over his head for protection.  He gave us strict instructions that if he came inside and said GO, we were supposed to run out for the ditch.  Needless to say, I did survive this catastrophe and there was never actually any tornado, but I think I was scarred for life. 

I love the thrill and beauty of big storms, thunder, lightning... just as long as these natural forces come without the threat of a tornado.  As a child, the first thing I'd do after school ever day was come home and turn on the Weather Channel (just in case...) but I'm a little better as an adult.  If I am driving on a highway, out on the water or outside somewhere and dark heavy clouds roll in, I usually have some sort of mild panic attack - at least until I plan my safety strategy (e.g., ditch, running for a stranger's house to use their basement) or call someone to check the weather and assure me conditions are not primed for a tornado within 50 miles.  

So yes, it's probably no surprise I dream of tornados.  Although I do still find it fascinating, and usually try and look for meaning in these dreams.  There's nothing serious going on now that anyone reading this would need to be concerned about, I just thought I'd share a little piece of what goes on in my head when I'm fast asleep ;)   

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ten years since we've partied like it was 1999

Happy New Year 2009!  Pete and Jill hosted a fabulous party last night and the pomegranate martinis I brought were a hit ;)  In case you're interested, the recipe: 2 parts vodka (I highly recommend Kettle One), 1 part orange contreau, lots of ice, 2 parts pomegranate juice, lime - shake and serve.  Today I'm cooking my first pork and sour kraut for everyone and then watching Penn State and the Rose Bowl.  This will be my first personal experience with a crock pot so wish me luck (and send me your recipes!).  But before that, I am cleaning everything... laundry... taking a trip to the gym (mainly for the sauna...) then taking a nap!  
We've had at least ten people in the house at all times since I got back from my Christmas trip home.  It's been pretty hectic around here, but in a good way.  Jesse's parents flew in from Oregon so they've spent a lot of time at the house with Jesse, Sky, and baby Byrom (who is getting bigger EVERY day - it's amazing).  We've also had some of LA's peace corp friends here.  It hasn't exactly made it easy for me to get up and go to work this week but it's a small price to pay for the good company.  Evening activities mainly consist of playing catchphrase, drinking wine, and eating fantastic food.  The other night Jesse's parents bought a huge ham and served homemade scalloped potatoes and I made a green bean casserole.  Last night he made two crockpots full of delicious chili, enhanced by the Reed's soon-to-be-famous hot peppers.  It was the perfect thing to have around with people coming in and out of the house all day.  
It's great to have parents in the house.  In addition to eating well, we are also enjoying improvements to the house.  Jesse's dad fixed a drawer, helped keep the front door closed, and then went around and insulated all of the windows in our place, which should make a huge difference in our gas bills!  You can see the plastic bubbling out constantly which makes me realize what a draft we had coming in every day.  We may not get much snow but it's cold and windy here in DC!