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I blame the lateness of this post on the time change.

21 Nov

Daylight Saving Time baby meme

Unlike most people I know, I get excited on both ends of Daylight Saving Time. In the fall, I gain an extra hour of sleep and the mornings are brighter to wake up to. In the spring, I lose an hour, but it means than I have an extra hour of sun to prance around in on my way home from work. Overall, I’m not complaining.

But not everyone is onboard with the plan.

As an example, a few weeks ago I went to yoga over in Georgetown the Sunday morning following the clock roll-back. My instructor usually teaches yoga at 10 and pilates at 11:15. I showed up at 9:57 and the classroom was empty, except for my instructor’s mat at the front of the class. I settled in, kind of glad that she took her sweet time to show up.

Another student arrived and rolled out her mat. “Weird that the instructor isn’t here yet, right?” she asked.

I nodded. Usually, the instructor was a bit regimented in the whole thing. “At least her mat is here…”

About 10:10 she finally strolled in, and told us she’d been hanging out in the sauna. “So nice on such a cold day,” she said. There was no urgency indicating that she was 10 minutes late to class. In fact, she sat on her mat at the front of the class and began chatting about Halloween and asking if we’d dressed up.

It was weird, but I was also feeling lazy, so I didn’t mind that she was burning up some minutes that would normally be sweaty. Finally she said, “Well, looks like it’s going to be just us, so let’s go ahead and get started.”

We started. The initial sequence was a bit different than usual. Instead of downward dogs, we were doing 100’s. (If you’re not familiar, a 100 is where you’re basically doing a sit-up/crunchie and waving your hands to a count of 100. It’s a classic pilates move.) As the minutes continued to tick by, I kept wondering when we were going to transition to the aerobic part of the class and stop doing core work.

Quick meme - Batman & Robin - Pilates vs. yogaThen it hit me – she was still running on old time. She’d probably shown up for yoga at 9am (thinking it was 10) and thought that she had no students. So she went to the sauna and chilled – until it was closing in on pilates time. Having formed that hypothesis, I was curious to see if the rest of the class would support it.

Also? Pilates is a pretty intense workout if you’re not used to it. The other student in the class was an older woman who I’m pretty sure had never done pilates in her life. She kept shooting me glances that were more like questions. I suppose I could’ve interrupted the instructor and clued her in that we were there for yoga, not pilates, but it was sort of like a game of chicken. I wanted to see if the other woman would cry uncle.

As it turns out: no. So there we were, the first day of standard time. One extra hour of sleep under our belts – and an hour of pilates. Not the worst pay to enter hibernation if you ask me.

Some ecards - pilates

From Russia, with (Not Exactly) Love?

9 Oct
Mom and Alicia on our train TO Naples - when everyone was healthy (but apparently tired).

Mom and Alicia on our train TO Naples – when everyone was healthy (but apparently tired).

 

I thought the Cold War was over, and – Putin aside – Americans and Russians generally got along now. I may have been wrong. That, or we encountered a group of Russians who were having an incredibly bad day as we left the Amalfi Coast.

Monday we took the train from Salerno to Rome. It was the same train we’d taken to Naples earlier in the week, so – having learned from our first ride – we wisely chose seats on the western-side of the car so we’d be shaded for the ride.

We were a bit nervous about the journey because my mom had woken up sick as a dog the previous day. She’d been in such bad shape (a self-rated “1” on a scale of 1-10) that we’d explored the airline’s policy for changing tickets so she wouldn’t have to travel until she was better. But, trooper that she is, she rallied for journey from the coast back up to Rome.

So we found ourselves sitting on the shady side of the car, my mom slumped in a seat with a wad of toilet paper in her pocket to combat her perpetually runny nose, crossing our fingers that we’d be able to make it to Rome with as little hassle a possible.

Things were looking good – until (about an hour into our journey) we pulled into the Naples.

At Naples, it felt like the entire population of Italy was boarding the train. We looked at each other, relieved that we had claimed our seats before the masses joined. And then, without warning, there was suddenly a group of five very large people hovering over us, frowning and pointing at our seats.

My sister, our translator for the trip, said, “Scusi…” then asked a few questions in Italian about the seats that elicited blank-stares. She tried English. They shook their heads, still frowning. Then – hearing them talk to each other – a lightbulb went off and she harkened back to her college years and tried Russian. Boom!

Turns out, the five angry people hulking over us were Russian and had reserved the exact seats we were sitting in. While there were plenty of other empty seats in the car, they were hellbent on having the precise seats that were on their tickets. The thing was – they wouldn’t show Alicia where on their tickets the seats were indicated. She wasn’t asking to challenge them, but rather the figure out how the seating arrangements worked since we couldn’t find any seat numbers on our tickets.

They just kept glaring at us and jostling us and speaking loudly to each other. My mom looked confused. I sat there uselessly holding a half-eaten apple.

[Back-story: Just before the train stopped, my sister asked if I wanted to split an apple. She handed it to me to start – then began composing a text message, which took about ten minutes. I’d eaten my half of the apple well before we’d pulled into the station, but had continued to hold the core, waiting for her to wrap up the text so she could have her half. In the middle of this, the confusion ensued, so I was slowly realizing we were going to need to move, I was going to need to somehow move a backpack and two suitcases down the car and my hand was incapacitated because it was lamely holding a half-eaten apple.]

Finally, I knew what needed to be done. I handed my mom the apple and said, “C’mon – we need to move. They reserved these seats.” I gestured to some other seats down the car. “We’ll just go sit there and get out of the way while we figure out where we’re supposed to sit.”

Much like a puzzle, where you need to move one piece to a temporary spot to make room to move the right piece into place, we needed to maneuver into a temporary space to get out of the Russians’ way so they could claim their seats. But they were standing in the temporary space and got angry when we tried to move into it, despite the polite hand gestures and earnest looks I was giving to show our intention was only temporary.

We finally managed to extract ourselves and move down the car, my sister and I relaying our bags to a new location while my mom carried the apple. We eventually got a nice Italian guy to look at our tickets a show us where the seat numbers were hiding – and got situated in our new block of seats on the opposite end of the car. (To do so, we also had to displace another group of people, but we were nice about it and took the time to point out on our tickets – and theirs – where the seat numbers were located. I’d like to believe our interaction was educational as opposed to confrontational.)

Once we were parked in our forever-seats, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. My mom offered up the apple, which was now browning and had been through too much – by which I mean “held by a sick person” – for anyone to want to eat. We wrapped it in a bag. Alicia pulled out her knitting and resumed working on a scarf.

“Well,” I commented. “That was certainly a cluster.”

Mom nodded.

Alicia got a big smile, “At least I got to speak some Russian!”

I’m not sure we did anything to strengthen US-Russian relations with that little interaction, but at least we didn’t start an international incident.

When I shared this with Alan after returning home, he got caught up in the frustration of the story. Before I could finish, he was offering up Russian phrases he’d learned while living in Georgia. I don’t speak Russian, but even I could tell he wasn’t using the word “mother” to talk about my mom’s health.

Probably best that he wasn’t on that leg of the journey.

 

More anxiety-causing than trying on a bikini – seeing if your fridge fits.

21 Aug

My fridge has been limping along in questionable health for nearly two years now. At least, that’s when I first started hearing it rev itself up like Herbie the Love Bug at odd hours of the night. And that’s right around the same time I’d periodically open the freezer to find my tray of ice cubes liquified. Probably not a great sign for refrigeration health.

While I tend to me meticulous in keeping  my place clean, I have somewhat loose standards when it comes to what I’ll test with my gut. I regularly eat products that are well past their expiration date (that’s a marketing ploy, people!), like the package of refrigerator biscuits I ate last week that allegedly went bad back in January 2013. (For the record: They were about as bad as Michael Jackson.)

[Also for the record, I just deleted a horrible pedophile joke. See – I do know how to self-censor!]

I tell you this by way of explaining how I’ve managed to rely on an unreliable refrigerator for two years. I cultivated a taste for freezer burn and began to think it was normal to scrape an inch of ice off anything before cooking it. I came to think of the sticks in popsicle bags as “stirrers” since the contents of the bag were always malformed and sometimes still liquified.

But today is a new dawn for fridge health in my house. Sometime between 10-2, the kind people from Home Depot will bring me a new appliance.

Until then, I will slowly be forming an ulcer as I check and re-check the measurements, noting that my current fridge is wedged into place so tightly that there’s literally no room to pass a piece of paper between it and the wall or the counter that serve as its boundaries. I now notice that even the baseboard has been pried from that section of the fall to slide it into place.

If my fridge were a vehicle.

If my fridge were a vehicle.

Oh, I’ve long known it was going to be a tight squeeze. In fact, that’s what prevented me from replacing it years ago. I’ve sat at my laptop multiple times, scrutinizing the dimensions of products, comparing them to the fridge in my kitchen and – like the vote counters in Florida – have walked away repeatedly, deciding it too close to call.

But finally, blindly, about three weeks ago I decided to work up my courage and just pull the trigger. So here I sit, armed with a shoehorn, a crowbar, a vat of grease and stack of twenties (for bribing/tipping the delivery guys), hoping the appliance gods are on my side today.

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.

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.

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