I would’ve made a good Boy Scout.

5 Jul
Next time... these are the underwear in the toolkit.

Next time… these are the underwear in the toolkit.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. In DC the weather was uh-mazing. As in: 80 degrees, sunny and no humidity. Very uncharacteristic of our nation’s Capital – but I’m not judging.

To avoid the crowds (which – based on the line snaking around the Washington Monument at 7am on the Fifth of July – I can assure you were huge), I decided once again to get out of the city for Independence Day and spend it instead with Alan, on his balcony and in his pool. For all you people who ask why we don’t live together, might I present the benefits of a City Home and a Suburban Home? Boom! 

Fortunately, as I was leaving my house, I remembered what a cluster it was to vacate the city on my bike last year. Realizing that the same checkpoints were likely to be in place, I altered my route and aimed for the Lincoln Memorial checkpoint. Turns out, the entire Mall was fenced off again and my intuition was on point, placing me right at the checkpoint to leave DC.

This year, the cops were really friendly (might have been the awesome weather) and there weren’t many people trying to sift through the security line to the Mall, so it was smooth sailing. I was the only person in the bike lane, so I had four cops ready to expedite my inspection. All went well as they opened my backpack, asking if I had any, “Knives, guns or other weapons” in there. Um, no.

“How about pepper spray?” the young cop asked. Nope – though that was just luck. I often do keep pepper spray in my bag in case I’m out on foot after dark. I paused for a moment, wondering if they’d just confiscate it if they found it, or if I could be in for more serious punishment. I’m woefully ignorant about pepper spray laws.

I was zipping up my bag and ready to high-five everyone for being so efficient when the officer said, “Is that a tool kit under your seat?” I nodded. “I’ll need to check that too,” he informed me.

It should’ve been no biggie to open my tool kit and show him the spare tube and wrench set I keep in there. Except, as I quickly unzipped it, a pair of clean underwear tumbled out onto the dirt path. Um…

Backstory: A few weeks earlier, Alan and I had gone for a long ride that ended at his house. When I finish riding, I’m sweaty and want nothing more than a shower and clean underwear – so I’d tossed a pair in my toolkit. However, it was such a great day that we ended up changing into bathing suits and using his pool to cool off, rather than showers – hence, I’d forgotten about the extra panties.

If you’ve never faced the prospect of your underwear lying in the dirt while an audience of four cops look on, then you might not know how you would react. In my case, I said, “I don’t have any weapons, but I DO have extra underwear. Because you never know, right?”

The cop looked embarrassed and said, “Congratulations?” It came out as a question.

“Congratulations?” I asked. “For having spare underwear in my toolkit?”

“I don’t know,” he was flustered. “I don’t know what you say to someone who has underwear in their toolkit. Good luck, maybe?”

I decided to take that. I offered a nod and rode away, hearing the chuckles of his fellow officers, presumably ready to take the piss out of him for getting so flustered over a pair of underwear.

And THAT is why you should never ask to go through a lady’s things. Ever.

Who says aging is a bad thing?

18 May
Image Source: PithyPants 2014

With Karen, left, and Rosaura, right – my college roommates!

I just returned home from a whirlwind visit to Chicago to surprise my college roommate for her 40th birthday.

Alan and I flew out Thursday afternoon and had to keep reminding each other NOT to post anything to Facebook that would accidentally reveal that we were in the Windy City prior to Saturday evening’s party. It was surprisingly difficult, which probably means I can skip any “How Narcissistic Are You?” quizzes that appear on Buzzfeed this year. (But then, isn’t that true of anyone with their own domain name?)

It started when our flight was two hours late departing. The plane’s door closed at 2:30, which was 15 minutes behind schedule. Not a big deal, until the pilot crackled over the PA system, “Well folks, the tower just informed us that we aren’t going to be able to take off for another hour or so due to some severe storms in Chicago. We’re going to have to push back because another flight needs this gate, but we’ll keep you posted.”

We ended up sitting on the tarmac at DCA for close to two hours before leaving. Passengers were remarkably calm, considering there was no beverage service offered and the air conditioning was off. Alan took a nap and had sweat running down his temples. I refrained from posting about our predicament on Facebook. It was unsatisfying.

Image Source: Terese 2014

With Terese, at Pop’s Champagne, after dinner.

We arrived in Chicago just in time to meet our friends Brian and Terese for dinner at Eataly. (We all lived in the same dorm in college 20 years ago, yet whenever we reconnect, we don’t spend much time traversing memory lane. I love friendships that evolve with time – and I love seeing a couple whose relationship has weathered the years gracefully.)

The next day, as planned, I worked from our Chicago office while Alan ventured out to explore. When we awoke to SNOW that morning, I was actually glad to know that my day would be spent at a desk/on a phone/in meetings – doing anything but being outside. (Hello, Mother Nature – it’s mid-May. Don’t you think it’s time to cut these people some slack?)

After work, we took the train to Southport, where our friends Dan and Molly live with their son Eddie. We haven’t visited them since they relocated there last July, so it was great to catch up and re-imagine them as midwesterners. Also? Eddie is now 18 months old, has a contagious grin and an awesome arm on him. He pulled out an assortment of balls shortly after we arrived and demonstrated more strength and accuracy  when throwing than I did when I played softball in seventh grade.

The next morning (Saturday, if you’re keeping track!) we met up with Alan’s mom and aunt for brunch just down the street from Dan and Molly’s house. This is VERY random, since Alan’s mom lives in Virginia. She’s driving cross country by herself to deliver a car to Alan’s brother in San Diego, and managed to time things so that she’d be passing through Chicago while we were there so we could pre-celebrate Alan’s 40th birthday together. Pretty cool, right?

After brunch, we walked to Wrigley Field, where Terese (of earlier Brian and Terese fame) had hooked us up with amazing tickets to watch the Cubs completely shut-out the Milwaukee Brewers. The weather had miraculously recovered from the day before, so we had blue skies and 60 degrees. It was a perfect day for a ballgame, and Alan’s first visit to Wrigley Field. Overall, a win. Thank you, Terese!

The Birthday Girl!

The Birthday Girl!

Finally… with these fantastic few days serving as a warm-up, we arrived at The Featured Event: Karen’s birthday party. It was great to see such a dear friend surrounded by so many people who adore her. She was absolutely glowing. It’s a good reminder for anyone who is upset about aging: The beauty that comes from decades of friendship, from knowing who you are and being confident about your place in this world trumps the effortless beauty of youth.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

As I close in on my 40th birthday later this year, I’m grateful to Karen for leading the way.

I booked my ticket to Chicago simply hoping to help a friend ring in a milestone. I returned feeling overwhelmingly fortunate for all the people who make my life so much richer than it was when I was half this age.

I’ll gladly trade wrinkles for them all.

(As long as I can post about it on Facebook along the way.)

Am I paranoid, or are you a creeper?

14 May

Image Source: http://neoexperiences.blogspot.com/2011/01/attack-of-creepers.html

Last week I stopped by Whole Foods on my way home from work to pick up dinner supplies. As is often the case, someone was conducting a wine tasting to promote a distributor’s offerings. Which explains how I found myself sipping a Spanish Tempranillo and chatting with the sales rep.

After telling me about the region in Spain where the wine came from, the rep changed gears. “I love your haircut,” she said. “Did you just come from the salon?”

Well, no. I’d actually just come from the gym. When I say I wasn’t having a good hair day, I mean it was kind of plastered to my head with sweat. Instead of insulting her taste, I simply said “thanks” and continued with the tasting. The cynic in me wondered if they’d found that flattery led to better sales.

While I sipped, she pulled out a brochure for the distributor. “I took these photos,” she told me. She then proceeded to flip through the brochure so quickly that I couldn’t actually SEE the photos that well, though  she did pause long enough to show me an unremarkable shot of a man standing in front of a group of people. “That’s the owner,” she said proudly.

I nodded with fake enthusiasm, then selected two bottles from her stash, thanked her, and moved on. A few aisles later, I had pre-buyer’s remorse and decided to only get one of the two bottles. Rather than walk back and interact with her again, I found the Spanish section of the wine shelf and set the bottle back with its peers.

Later, standing in the express checkout line that snakes its way back through the food bar and baked goods, I felt a tug on my sleeve. It was the woman from the tasting table. Apparently she’d abandoned her post. “Can I get a photo of you with the wine?” she asked. A weird request, but my first reaction was, “Crap. She’s going to bust me for putting the bottle back!”

Instead, I said, “Sure,” and picked up the bottle from my basket.

“No,” she said. “The other one.”

DAYUM. It seemed like a lot of effort to shame a customer for returning a bottle of wine, but I couldn’t imagine any other motive. “Sorry,” I offered. “I actually changed my mind on that bottle. I decided to just get the other one you offered.”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Oh, well, then… let’s do a photo with that one, I guess.”

Gamely, I lifted it clear of my basket and smiled.

“Can you hold it up next to your face?” she prodded.

So I did, trading looks with the people around me in line, as we all established that this lady was nuts.

I figured there was some other reason she actually wanted a photo of me. I don’t think it was because she liked my hair or wanted to show her boss that she’d sold a bottle of wine. My theory is that I look like someone she knows and she wanted proof to share with them – so she tried to construct  a plausible explanation for taking my photo.

But then I started to get paranoid that she was going to use it for some form of identity theft, though I couldn’t figure what good a snapshot of a face next to a wine bottle would do. By the time she’d gotten the photo, I was full on suspicious, so when she asked if I’d like her to send me a copy, I just looked at her, dumbfounded.

Um, no. Not giving you my email address, creeper.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is NOT how you hit your sales goals.

Yogis who look like bodybuilders are not to be trusted.

29 Apr

Based on the number of posts I’ve written about yoga, you might think I fancy myself a real yogi. I don’t. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost ten years, but my body is still stubbornly inflexible. It’s odd since gymnastics then diving carried me through my school years. There’s no trace of that body left.

Last night I found myself lying on my back, eyes covered, relaxing before a packed Flow class at my gym. The door was thrown open so forcefully that my eyes flew open, just in time to see a guy who looked like Tony Danza smiling broadly at everyone. “I am ok,” he began, in what I assume was a Spanish accent. “Last week I popped my tibia out of joint during class. But I was able to pop it back in and I am fine now.”

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Everyone tittered. Except me. I was thinking, “Wait. What? Exactly what happened in class last week that you dislocated your leg? And are we going to do it again this week? Because that’s not what I signed up for…”

Yup. That should’ve been a clue for the level of workout I’d inadvertently signed up for. It was a punishing hour-long practice with lots of chair-pose, push-ups and side planks.

When we finally collapsed into corpse pose with our eyes closed at the end of class, the guy on the mat next to me wasted no time dozing off. His snores were straight out of a cartoon.

As a result, instead of relaxing, I spent my final five minutes lying there, eyeing the guy next to me, wondering how the hell he could fall asleep so quickly. I mean, seriously – the guy snored as soon as we were instructed to close our eyes. Who does that?

I may not have achieved the zen-like state that typically comes with an hour of yoga, but – on the other hand – I also didn’t pop my tibia. All told, I’m considering it a win.

 

 

 

Where have I been?

26 Apr

Image Source: 2014 Pithypants

Short answer: Right here.

In this history of this blog – which I think is going on five years – I’ve never before gone so long without posting something. It’s almost been a month. I’m only mildly offended that no one reported me missing.

In case it happens again, let me explain why I’ve been MIA. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about. On the contrary, I have a list of topics (updates on my 40 x 40 list, a visit from my sister and nephews, bad fashion choices worn by women in my neighborhood, etc.) that nags me every time I sit in front of my laptop, practically begging for expression.

Alas, the challenge here has been TIME. Yup. I don’t think I’ve posted about it, but I started back to school earlier this year. I’m attending Georgetown’s Leadership Coaching program, and – when combined with my job – it’s a full load. The time that once went to blogging is now spent reading books, writing papers and – gasp! – coaching real clients as part of the pro bono practicum.

I know, it’s kind of crazy to think that people are trusting someone with an adolescent sense of humor to help them navigate the challenges of leadership. But there you have it. (Seriously though, I think humor is a much-needed aspect of coaching executives, because it helps remind them that authenticity is a key part of leading. It’s much more persuasive than being “boss-like.”)

Speaking of being boss-like or faking being boss-like… I’m off to NYC this week to present at the Social Learning Bootcamp. It’s being held at Microsoft’s new technology center in Times Square, so I’m excited to check it out. However, I’ll be toting my presentation on a MacBook Air, so I’m hoping they actually let me past security. I think I can guess how they feel about bringing enemy gear across the threshold.

Oh – and don’t worry that I’m going to pull a Jack Torrance over here. My motto is NOT, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” I’ve found time to squeeze in some of the good stuff over the last few months. To wit, I’ve:

  • Crossed the 30 mile mark on my quest to swim 50 miles before my birthday
  • Searched for the doors at the Mansion on O Street and finally visited the Phillips Collection
  • Been issued a library card for the Library of Congress
  • Hosted my West Coast bestie (aka Magston) for a visit
  • Helped Alan celebrate Aidan’s birthday with a Nationals Game
  • Read 20 books since January

So you were right not to worry. Silence isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a busy thing.

 

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