Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Brought You To DC?

The other day I was walking to work and I received a compliment on my shoes while I was waiting at a crosswalk. Now I have to stop for a minute and talk about the shoes (cuz--I love me some shoes).
These beauties came home with me from Idaho, courtesy of my parents as a Christmas gift. I wore my last pair into the ground, so I have loved getting a fresh new pair, with a little flair too! I bleed gold between the University of Washington and the University of Idaho so these were pretty much perfect.  

Back to where I was going with this. I get a compliment, I start talking to the guy, find out he has some connections to the grand state of Idaho and we walk and pass some generic conversation (how un-DC right?!?!?). Naturally, after a few questions about the great Best Coast and how much I loved growing up there, I get asked the 2nd most common question I think one gets in DC:

"So what brought you to DC?"

Sigh. Well. What did bring me?

Or is it more important to say what has kept me here?

Now, I have learned you kind of have to judge your audience on this one. Sometimes it is best (and easiest!) to just take the easy exit and say "work". Coming for a job, professional, driven, and rarely receives a second thought. The next answer, which is my true answer is :" for a guy". Which then always gets: "Oh! Are you two still together?". Well, do I say this...."No. BUT!...." and down the rabbit hole we go with my  follow-up stories. Which is a little song and dance about a new boy, a job and the job market being better here.

People don't stay here long. Well not in my age bracket it seems. I feel like my 4.5 years, is a lifetime in DC. I have probably attended more going away happy hours, than I have birthday dinners in my time here. We all have our stories of how we got here. Jobs, love, family, passion for the intrinsic natured jobs, a love of gross swamp-like-kill-you-slowly summer heat (you can sense my enthusiasm). Regardless, it feels kind of like a secret society. You come for work, love, money, fame, glory, or whatever it may be, and you get your head completely rearranged here. Then you spread your little fledgling wings and fly out of the proverbial post-college nest and head (what we can hope for me) westward .

It is like a right of passage.

So while that questions seems to pop up all the time, and almost in an insincere way (similar to the "So what do you do?" question), it is more like the secret handshake for the DC secret society. Or saying the password and seeing if someone knows what you are talking about.

Having your own story to answer that makes you part of this...society or club, or whatever you want to call it. So to the person who complimented my shoes and asked me how I ended up here...thanks for making me realize it wasn't a typical fake DC were just making sure I was initiated.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When I get Nervous

When I get nervous (mainly at work), I twirl my hair. Not like the ditsy girl playing with a strand of hair and twirling it around her fingers, but like a good chunk of hair that I flip all around. HORRIBLY distracting I am sure. Talk about ruining my professional image!

Lately it has evolved into twisting my hair into a big bun when I get nervous. Perhaps it distracts me from what I am saying but it. has. to stop. I didn't always do this, so I am not sure where it came from!

I figure by saying it, I will be more aware of it and can hopefully stop myself from fidgeting when I am delivering some uncomfortable or unsettling information in the office.

The goal is to watch myself like a hawk this week and if I have to put my hair will be done.

Yup. That is me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Last week I was looking at all those beautiful photo montages that all the cool-kid bloggers are doing. Ya know, the ones with the circles, that look all cute and polished? Well I thought, how hard can that be!

Well it can be kind of hard. Or maybe I am just missing something easy here?

I am using Gimp over here trying to make some of those circle thingys. I made one. As you can see from my previous post. Naturally, I forgot to bookmark the tutorial that helped me make that one. So now I am stuck with a bunch of cropped circle images, that all have solid backgrounds!!??! What the heck! I. am. so. frustrated!

Anyone else out there use Gimp for photo editing and cropping things like this for their blog? Anyone have any other suggestions on how to up my blogging game? Or suggestions of where I can get a no-frills crash course in Gimp?? (Before I pull out all of my hair!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

These Are Some of My Favorite Things

It is Thursday people. THURSDAY. Did I mention I love 4 day weeks. Even more...I love 4 day weeks back-to-back.

Unconventional stuffed animals that seems perfect for an urban living space.

A pet lion that is really a poodle? I want!

A made-up boyfriend that cracks me up. Or the new state of dating and courtship.

Figuring out your boss and their personality.  

Being able to see something that has been something we can only feel. Pretty awesome.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comfort For Your Head and Heart

I have been on a bit of a book bender these days. It started when I was home for Christmas and I actually had down time where I didn't feel the need to drown myself in trash TV. I recently just finished all the books I had gotten around Christmas and I was in need of something new and preferably for the ipad since I was recently on a plane for 12ish hours making a round-trip visit to the Best Coast for some skiing.

As much as I love my ipad and reading on it...I get nostalgic and sometimes miss the feeling of a book. More than the book....I miss bookstores.

When I first moved to DC and Alex and I were tres poor, we used to spend our Saturdays camped out in a Barnes & Noble reading books for essentially free (we did purchase coffee to offset our shameful reading of books we never bought). While it was pretty stressful to not even be able to afford a book, I loved those Saturdays. I loved having no where else to be, and I loved feeling comfort in reading.

So to find my next book I wandered into a small bookstore in Spokane and did my usual assessment of the book covers to see if anything caught my eye. A few books caught my eye, but one really stood out as I looked over the stacks of new books.

I picked it up. Flipped through the cover and first pages thinking "could be a cute read", put it down and moved on. I later went back to snap a photo to remind myself I should look into it. 

A few days later I read some reviews on amazon and quickly got the hint that this was a MUST read book. I purchased it minutes before boarding my flight home and I read the entire way back.

I am hooked. Cheryl's words of advice are calm, rational, compassionate, heart-felt, re-relatable, heartwarming, eye-opening and a million other things that just fill you with goodness. I turn page after page and I realize how brutally spot on she is, and how so many of her responses, while not directly applicable to the deep questions of my life, have nuggets of truth that really hit home. I have laughed, I have cried, I have cringed, I have re-read certain letters just to soak in all of the beauty they contain. Simply put--it is a beautifully written compilation of advice letters that you will find comfort and inpiration in. So what I am saying is...go buy this. Read it. Love it. 

Couple this with a cup of my current favorite tea (since I can't afford this ), Yogi Egyptian Licorice, and I am set for a snuggly evening of feel-goodness.

Does anyone else get sad when a really good book ends? I try to have my next read lined up so I don't focus too much on the end of a good book. Any of you have some reading recommendations to help me through what will undoubtedly be a very sad finishing of this book?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Perfect Conversation...With Yourself

Who has those moments of pure inspiration? The perfectly crafted dialogue where you say what is exactly on your mind. You aren't overly wordy. You are well-spoken, witty in all the right places, serious enough to let someone know you mean business, and you finish the conversation getting your point across and the other person understanding exactly where you are coming from.

I have these conversations all the time in my head when I am doing idle tasks. In the shower, brushing my teeth, drying my hair, waiting for the the coffee to brew, walking. 

I walk home a lot, and those 20 or so minutes can bring about some of the most inspired conversations in my head.

Ok, so I am walking home the other day, having this pointed, confrontational conversation that is going so well. In my head I am thinking "Wow, yea! That is a great point Andrea! Remember that to use in real conversation!" and "Wooo, you go! You say it! Say it how you feel!"

Then it happened....

In this fake conversation where I was saying all the right things. I said the most brutally honest thing I could have possibly said. It hung there. My words to this other person that was in my head at the time. I froze. The tears started to prickle behind my eyes, and I started booking it to my apartment. 

Well I said it alright....and now it is hanging there. This unfinished conversation in my head where I know I said everything right, and true....and really really scary. 

Needless to say....I have been walking with my brain turned off. Listening to music. Going over to-do lists in my head. Keeping my head busy. You know...trying not to go completely crazy :) since I am clearly halfway there.

Where do you find you conversation inspiration? My friend and co-worker finds hers while brushing her teeth. I also know someone who has her brilliant conversations when she is running

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Day I Got Flowers At Work

Coming back to reality here in DC is always rough. It is ugly to say the least. Lots of tears, lots of moody moments, lots of wanting to be hugged one moment and not wanting to see another human ever again the next.

Where it gets really bad? When I come back from my home. You better believe I am one hot mess of a human being from the moment I wake up on the day I leave, to weeks after getting back to DC.

Sometimes I get embarassed just thinking about the poor souls who have ended up sitting next to me on the plane while I hiccupped, gasped and cried my eyes out for the long flight back here.

Coming back from Idahome this time around I ended up flying into DC pretty late on Sunday night. I had to take a shuttle from the airport which took forever.

I was so sleep deprieved on Monday and I had a ton going on at work, so I was almost numb to the saddness that I knew would sink in soon enough.

I was running around all morning getting new employees all settled in,answering hundreds of emails, saying my hellos to co-workers and trying to catch up on three weeks of work! Early in the afternoon I got an email saying that I had a delivery downstairs at the front desk. Not thinking much about it, I took the elevator down and asked for my delivery.

Our front desk looks over and there on the counter of the desk is a beautiful boquet of FLOWERS!

The bf was so thoughtful and sent me these beautiful flowers to help ease me into DC life and to put some pep in my step.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Manes of Meaning

Growing up I had really long hair. I would cry if I thought too much got trimmed off during a hair cut, and I certainly never envisioned myself with short hair, or hair even above my shoulder blades! I frequently heard how beautiful my hair was, girls on my sports teams always wanted to french braid it, and my sister used to always lament about how her hair would never grow as long as mine. It was what I considered my trademark for much of my life.

Oh, how things have changed! I still love having longish hair (not nearly as long as when I was young!) but I also have grown to love the times when I  donate my hair to Locks of Love and I have some cute and sassy hair for awhile. I usually opt for a longer bob-esque style, and I typically leave the salon, ponytail in hand, thinking: "Wow, I love my hair short!"

My goal is to donate seven ponytails by the time I am thirty. I am currently growing my hair out for pony #5.

(Why seven you ask? Well it takes between 6-10 ponys to make a wig, so I figured donate enough to make most of one wig!)

My list of donations:

Pony #1: Waaaaay back in 2004. It was the summer before I left for college and I knew I needed to update my 'do before sorority recruitment time. It was my longest ponytail and a huge shock after 18 years of life with hair that was past my waist.

Pony #2: Some time in the spring/Early summer of 2006. I kept my hair short for awhile after then. It was easier to take care of, and also provided less prep time before 8:30 classes and a 7am job in college!

Pony #3: December 2008. After a long stint of decently short hair, I grew it out through my senior year of college and then after starting my first job in DC in October, I cut it off when I went home for Christmas. I remember it was really fun coming back from Christmas vacation and seeing my co-workers (one in particular :)) surprised faces when they saw me with 12 less inches of hair!

Pony #4: October 2011. I had just reached enough length to cut a little over 10 inches off. This was the first time I was hesitant to cut it, as I had gotten back into the swing of having long hair and doing pretty curls and ballerina buns. Luckily, I had an awesome hair cut, and the timing for going to Turkey a few days later was perfect. Short hair when traveling was such a dream! Who wants to be spending time blow drying and styling 17 inches of hair when you have a new city or country to explore?!?

So Pony #5: I have six inches now. I am shooting for 11 again. Probably by October of this year I will be able to cut it! With my goal of getting #5,6 & 7 done in 3.5 years (eep! 30 is getting too close for comfort people!), I need to grow and cut as soon as I possibly can!

If you are thinking about donating you hair (Which I highly suggest!) I have some tips and tricks I have learned over the years:

  • Buy good products if you are not trimming your hair frequently and/or when it starts getting really long to avoid breakage and dryness. Good shampoo, conditioner, and a UV protector were essential for me! I've used the Alterna brand for the UV and heat protectants, and it has been great
  • Avoid a lot of heat styling, if possible. Now, I love to curl my hair, so I try to do it in moderation, and I have been using a heat protector to keep some of the damage at bay. Less heat damage=less hair cuts=faster donation times!
  • Trims. I used to trim my hair 4 times a year when I was growing it out (once a season) and maybe a quick appointment to clean up my swoopy bangs. For pony #5, I have even gone more rogue, and scaled back to 1-2 haircuts a YEAR! Yes, a year. Now, this is partially because my hair has remained in really good shape and the ends have stayed healthy. It is also partially related to expensive haircuts in DC and my budgeting limitations. Regardless, it can be done, but I would recommend at least 2-3 hair cuts a year just to make sure you don't get too mangy.
  • Something new I am going to start trying is Biotin. Sara swears by it for healthy hair and nails. I'll give it a try to see what happens, but I figure anything to keep my hair and scalp happy!
You can read about donation #4 here.

Have any of you donated your hair before? Would you donate you hair?

When I am done with pony #7, I am thinking about really going all out and dying my hair for the first time. Problem is, I don't know if I would want to go darker or lighter! What do you think would be more fun?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Utah Ski Vacation

To back track a bit, lets focus on Thanksgiving for a moment before we talk Christmas.
I was all set for a East Coast Thanksgiving, a few days out of DC meeting some more of the bf's family, some food, relaxation, you get the idea. I've kind of become immune to being away from my family on Thanksgiving as it is a very rare occasion that I can be in Idaho for Thanksgiving and then come back a month later for Christmas. (Particularly when I take three week Christmas Vacations ;)!) So needless to say, while I would love to be home with my family having a traditional Thanksgiving, I have certainly learned to adapt and have a non-traditional thanksgiving without much pause.

So we are all set for Mass. when the bf comes over one evening and says:

"I have a question."

Gulp. Internal monologue kicks in "oh myyyy gooood. What did I doooo? Oh wait, is this? Does he have a small box? Nope. No box. Ok. Was I mean lately? No. Well I don't think so. Oh my. Am I getting disinvited from Thanksgiving?!? Is he going home without me?!? Ok. ok now. Calm down.
I funny would that have been! You know. If I thought like that, or anything. But I don't think like that. Or at least I tell myself so. Ha!

Anyways, I respond with a " yea?"

Which I got a question and response that was far from what I expected!

The bf had figured out a way for us to stay in Park City over Thanksgiving and hit up the open ski resorts. BUT only If I wanted to go...

I don't think it was any surprise that I jumped on that plan pretty quickly.

So we spent Thanksgiving in Utah. Just the two of us. Or maybe I should say the four of us.

Oh gets better this surprise the bf put together.

With new skis, boots, and the whole kit and kaboodle I was excited to get on the snow! Our trip started out with a Thanksgiving morning brunch with some good friends and their adorable daughter, who was born around Thanksgiving last year. We cooked up a frittata, holiday rolls, a fruit platter and some mimosas. Since we were going to miss the bebe's birthday party we got to give her our gift early which was fun.

We packed up and headed to the airport where we dined on some fast food for a pre-flight meal.
After a painless flight we picked up our rental car and headed into Salt Lake to stay the night before driving up to Park City.

Slightly hungry, we ended up eating some baked potatoes and drinking a night cap of beer at the hotel.
The next morning we headed up to Solitude for the inaugural voyage for the skis. It was beautifully sunny, warm, and complete with a pretty empty mountain.
We did pretty well. Only stopping for a morning break and lunch and then skiing until about 3.
We then headed to our hotel in Park City, which was really a timeshare resort, which came complete with families of 13 and an event schedule that was similar to a Ledo deck on a cruise ship. We were exhausted and naturally took awhile to relax before heading out to dinner.
We also got to spend a day walking around Park City and stumbling upon a perfect Saturday date night activity....

The PBR was in the next town and we knew we had to go!

We had a romantic date watching some bull riding, drinking cheap beer and munching on hot dogs and red vines. It was perfect.

The next day we headed to Alta. Skied our legs off again. Finished the day off with some awesome beer and a peanut butter mouse (errr...did I say mouse? Let's try mousse) pie and a neighboring room full of loud women drinking far too much red wine. (Needless to say we opted to switch rooms to ensure some sound sleep.
Due to an awesome deal on Liftopia we decided to squeak in a final day of skiing before catching our flight and checked out Brighton.
After skiing to the point of barely being able to walk, we packed up the skis and headed for some food before the airport.

This is where things got a teensy bit rough. Our flight out of Salt Lake was delayed and we were going miss our connection in Chicago. The bf needed to get back so we flew a red eye that dropped us into DC right about the time I would be waking up to get to work. It was an ugly day at work. However, we survived and that night I was asleep by 6.

Phew that was a novel of a story!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oyster Cravings and Good Friends

I get these cravings which I am sure are not normal. I've never been pregnant, but these cravings make me scared for when I do have kids!
I love, love, love oysters.
I get cravings for their sweet, salty, briney, cucumber taste and it just gets worse and worse until I can track down some of these delightful creatures for consumption.
After a few weeks of moaning about my latest oyster craving, I was able to rope Ash into heading to Hank's for happy hour before the Thanksgiving holiday.
We easily polished off TWO DOZEN oysters and some glasses of white wine. Mission complete.

Now we just have to see when my next craving kicks in!
Ps you can ask the bf about my rather humorous dining suggestions to get oysters and watermelon. Which always sound good to me. ( yes, together!)