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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.

This tortoise needs to step it up.

30 Mar

I’m half-way to goal for swimming 50 miles before my 40th birthday: Yesterday I logged Mile 25.

It almost didn’t happen. I’m an early riser on the weekends – so much so that I’m often ready to go back to bed around 7am, when my gym opens. But yesterday morning I fought the temptation to stall and trudged the 1.25 miles to the gym. All uphill. In the rain.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

So it was with a certain self-congratulatory smugness (I’m conquering this weekend, dammit!) that I found a locker, stripped down, stepped into my flipflops and – CRAP. What is the one thing you absolutely can’t forget if you want to swim? That’s right: a swimsuit. Oh, I had my goggles and swim cap. I even had a lock for my locker and conditioner for the shower.

But my swimsuit was at home, hanging on the back of the bathroom door where I’d left it to dry earlier this week.

Clothes back on, I walked home, contemplating my next move. Should I mentally check the “gym” box since I’d made the effort, or grab my suit and take a Groundhog’s Day approach to the whole thing?

Tough call, but thirty minutes later, I was back at the gym with my suit in hand. (You don’t even want to know how pleased I was with myself for motivating not just ONCE but TWICE on a rainy weekend.)

I was able to get a good chunk of my mile in with a lane to myself, but with about thirty lengths to go, a guy climbed in my lane. The pool is fairly small – it’s only four lanes – so it’s not uncommon to share a lane. The thing that’s weird about gym-swimming is that almost no one ever circle swims (where you go up one side of the lane and back on the other), even though it would allow a small pool to accommodate more swimmers. Instead, the habit is to split a lane in half down the middle, with each swimmer sticking to his or her half, limiting each lane to a max of two people.

The lanes at my pool are a bit tight to begin with, so splitting a lane can shift my workout from great to frustrating if the person I’m sharing with has any bad habits, such as: being extra splashy, being scared to hug the lane marker, not holding a straight line, or kicking my kidneys when doing the breaststroke.

This guy was extra splashy, in no small part because he was trying to go REALLY FAST. When he hopped in and attempted his first lap, it looked like he was trying to outrun someone threatening to jam a bottle rocket up his ass. Watching him swim toward me, he was a blur of arms and feet, with splashes that would make a toddler proud.

My style tends to be really smooth and non-splashy. Not because I’m a good swimmer, but because I’m lazy. I’ve found that the easiest way to swim laps is by exerting myself as little as possible – so I rely almost exclusively on my arms and shoulders, allowing my legs to drag behind me, just enjoying the ride. I always figure I’m a good person to share a lane with, because I just move along like a sting ray, barely stirring the water.

Image Source: http://theosbornegroupblog.com/news/major-gifts-officer-fable/

However, when I’m sharing a lane with someone who is basically waterboarding me every time we cross paths mid-pool, I begin to get a bit testy. And so I’d deliberately land a few kicks on top of the water, just parallel to his face, each time we met.

At some point, I realized that although he was causing quite the commotion, by the time he stopped to catch his breath and rest at each end, I was actually out-pacing him, much like the Tortoise & the Hare.

In that scenario, I was totally cool being the tortoise – and was actually feeling somewhat smug about it – until I got home and saw on Facebook that my friend Brian just finished swimming 30 miles in the month of March alone.  Um.

Let’s do the math. I’m basically averaging one mile per week (which fits since I tend to make it to the pool weekly at best). Meanwhile, Brian’s doing a mile per day. And – to add insult to injury – somehow Brian has great hair despite the chlorine. So in this scenario, it’s kind of like the Tortoise and the Hair.

My take-away: Apparently the moral of the story isn’t that the turtle always wins. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and sometimes slow and steady is just – slow and steady. And has bad hair. I guess that’s what I get for all my smugness. Thanks for the reality check, Brian!

 

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Thank you, Self.

18 Mar

The other night, I noticed that I have a tendency to sit in my chair at the end of each day and offer thanks for something kind of ridiculous. Unlike the profound moments of gratitude that make people teary-eyed, my nightly acknowledgement of thanks usually focuses on something very tactical and that makes me happy in a small way.

I’ve noticed it enough that I thought I should try to document the habit to see what patterns emerge. So apologies in advance, my friends – but since this blog is kind of like a journal – you’re going to get a front-row seat to my gratitude, which will manifest itself in VERY SHORT POSTS capturing my nightly thank you notes.

(Feel free to tell me what YOU are grateful for too – even if it’s just that your tongue has bumps on it. And yes – that’s actually one of my mine.)

So with no further ado, here’s my first note of gratitude:

Image Source: pithypants.com 2014

Apparently, I should be an Econ professor. Or the condo board president.

11 Mar

Image Source: Someecards.com

I’ve purchased two homes in my life. In both cases, they were condos, and that was a deliberate decision. I find no joy in my weekend being consumed by landscaping and home maintenance projects. Oh, I’ve done it (and I’m pretty sure it accelerated my break-up with my ex) but I don’t like it.

I like my responsibilities to stop at decorating and cleaning. Let someone else worry about the other bits. And by “someone else,” I don’t mean Alan. I’d rather spend my weekend hanging out with him than watching him execute home improvement projects.

My home-owning friends wag their fingers at me. “For the amount of your condo fee, you could pay someone to handle the maintenance on your home.” Perhaps, but I’d rather cut a monthly check and leave the planning and worrying to someone else.

Imagine, then, how annoyed I was to receive a certified letter from our building’s management association, informing me that each unit owner is responsible for having the exterior of his or her windows painted every five years. (Did I mention that my building is five stories tall? And historic?)

That’s right. Rather than bid out the entire building as a project and divide the bill among owners, the Board decided it would be best if each owner went to the city and requested a permit for exterior work, then found a company with the proper insurance and equipment, to paint his or her windows.

YOU. MUST. BE. SHITTING. ME.

Image Source: The Daily ShowI’m sorry. I thought I lived in DC, where 53% of the adult population had a college degree. Apparently, my building’s condo board is made up of either the 47% who didn’t go to college. Or if they went, then they clearly skipped ECON-101 and the lesson on “economies of scale.”

So I read my certified letter, in which I was told that I must have my windows painted by July 1 or I would face a fine of $500 and an additional charge of $5 for each day beyond that until I got my windows painted. And I fumed.

Then I did what any OCD person would do: I bit the bullet and added it to my “to do” spreadsheet, calling the recommended painters listed in the letter first thing Monday morning.

The challenge was that each painter responded the same way. “Sorry, we only bid out a job like that for the entire building. There’s no way we’ll come out and erect scaffolding just to do your unit’s windows.” Um…

By the time I exhausted the list, I was ready to deliver some kidney punches to the board. Instead, I dashed off an email to my upstairs neighbor, who is on the board. “Have you figured out how you’re going to get your windows painted?” I wrote, “Because I’ve hit a wall.”

Image Source: http://mediashower.com/img/213/slipping%20man%20off%20ladder.jpgNote that I kept it productive, stating, “I’ve hit a wall,” instead of, “I’m going to hit your abdominal wall. Until you pee blood.”

He wrote back a few days later, saying, “Hey – that letter was poorly worded. That only applies to the people on the front of the building, whose frames are wood. Ours are metal, so we don’t need to do this.”

HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean I wanted to punch YOU. That was a figure of speech. We’re good.

But I’m still left with a few questions:

  • How are the people on the front of the building going to get their windows painted?
  • Why did the Board spend $6 per owner, sending certified letters to ALL units in the building rather than simply those requiring action?
  • What percentage of my building’s residents have college degrees?
  • Why don’t more people put me in charge of things?

Sigh. I guess I’ll just rejoice that I don’t need to hire a cherry picker to paint my own windows next weekend. Because that would suck.

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