Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Snow

Seriously, winter? You're going to do this to me a second time? Here I was, with another perfectly planned action-packed weekend, and you gotta go and shit (or snow) all over it. Today I was supposed to see Rockapella, rescheduled from the snowstorm last month, but no. I was also supposed to make it up to Silver Spring for a game night with a bunch of friends from work, but no.

I made an effort. I went out around 11 and set out for a pre-concert lunch. But I knew I was in trouble when my car couldn't even make it up the little rise in my parking lot and I had to reverse out to the other exit. Apparently, Corollas weren't meant for snow driving. Who knew? And then I realized that nothing had been plowed. Even though we had notice of the pending storm for days in advance and it had been snowing for a solid 4 hours, NO PLOWS. So my street, and even King Street, were a complete and total mess. It didn't seem to deter a lot of the people who were driving around (the fools) but after slipping and sliding for a couple miles, I called it a day. I love Rockapella, but I'm not going to risk life and limb to hear the Carmen Sandiego theme.

And so I found myself stuck at home again. It's not all bad; I got some baking done, watched a ton of television, read some books (including revisiting some of my old Baby-Sitter Club books), but when you live alone being snowed in means you are alone all day. Which also means I spend a lot of time talking to myself. I bet the neighbors think I am insane. Of course, they probably thought that already.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to go to brunch with the law school ladies, have an afternoon of girliness including nail painting, and then meetup with the D&D folks. As far as I am concerned, I am going to brunch tomorrow even if I have to walk my ass across the highway to Shirlington, because nothing stands in the way of Maggie birthday celebrating! Since I'm hitting Atlantic City all next weekend, this is the only time I'll have to celebrate with these friends, and it is happening. Plus, Carlyle has this AMAZING chocolate flourless waffle and it will be mine.

Mark my words.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not even just a little bit country.

I'm not a country music fan. I like bluegrass, and I like the Dixie Chicks (they're more pop anyway, right?), but when it comes to twangy country rock where people sing about the man/girl/tractor that done them wrong, I'm out.

So I was a bit nervous about heading to Nick's Nightclub in Alexandria for a night full of country line dancing. Yeah, you heard me right there. Country. Line. Dancing.

Sidenote: I don't even like regular line dancing. No electric slide, no chicken dance, no Cupid shuffle. I enjoy just dancing on my own, and am convinced line dancing is for white people who can't dance and need instruction. If that's you then I hope you have a great time, but it's just not my thing. End sidenote.

Last year, I met a group of friends through Carly who call themselves, "Team Awesome" and get together for fun outings out. The most recent adventure was country line dancing. I agreed to go because a whole pack of people I know and like were going, but I wasn't too sure about the whole thing. But then! I went to Nick's Nightclub's website and lo and behold....they have karaoke! Suddenly, the evening seemed full of possibility.

We got there a bit early and got some drinks at the bar ("do you want some drinks? GOD YES.") and then settled in to a lovely corner booth. The bar offers country line dancing lessons for $5, but I decided to pass. I would rather just sit there and judge everyone else who is brave enough to try something new. From what I could see it looked like my friends did very well, but after the 45 minute lesson was over and the band started playing...none of them actually did any country line dancing. Let's just say that there were a lot of people in that bar who were clearly regulars and knew what they were doing. I'm not sure they would appreciate a bunch of bumblers out there crowding up their dance floor. And since it's a country bar, they probably all had guns under their ten gallon hats.

The good news is there was a back bar with the karaoke and another dance floor where they played some regular music (after yes, some country). We kind of scoped out a spot on the floor and had a grand ole (opry) time. My first karaoke selection for the evening was Alone by Heart , but after three hours of singing and dancing, it was time to call it at a night. I was still waiting for my second song, but the DJ was kind enough to move my last song to the top of the queue, and I sang right to my friends the touching ballad of My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson. Which is true. It would actually suck without them.

All in all, a good time was had. However, the DJ, while nice, was a little questionable. Observe the following exchange:

Me: Can you play "Forever" by Chris Brown next?
DJ: What song? "Forever??"
Me: Yeah, by Chris Brown.
DJ: Is that a song people will dance to if I play it?
Me: Umm.....yeah. (unspoken "duh")
DJ: If I have it, I'll play it.

"If I have it?" And I don't think she even knew who Chris Brown is. You know you're in a country music bar when...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nintendo goes BOOM.

Guess what I did last Friday night?

That's right, bitches! I played some classic NES (that's Nintendo Entertainment System for all you not true nerds out there) and rocked it out. Well, rocked it out until Super Mario Brothers 3, World Three, Level Two when me and my friend Jason repeatedly died about 20 times. For all of you SMB3 fans out there, that's the water world and the level with Big Bertha. She's the giant fish that jumps up and eats your ass. While it's kind of pathetic to only make it that far, in my defense, it's been about 15 years since I played. And Big Bertha was always hard.

Finally I got so fed up with the repetitive dying that I kind of jerked the controller too hard. And that kind of caused the entire game system to fall off the tv stand and onto the floor. That might have caused the whole machine to go kaplooey and stop working. Jason claims that I "broke the Ninendo," but I don't really think that's possible. I mean, imagine the years and teenagers that thing has survived. I can't believe that within 30 minutes of being in my possession it would explode. Right?


Oh, god, I hope I didn't break it. I still have so much Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt to play!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Burn, baby, burn!

A wise woman once said, "Fire bad. Tree pretty."

Last Friday just the opposite was true. I headed out to a friend of a friend's house in Arlington for a bonfire featuring last year's Christmas trees.

Now I don't know what you may have heard, but yes, I do enjoy a good fire, and yes, I do take great delight in building up, stoking, and maintaining such fires, but that is not call for referring to someone as a pyromaniac. People these days throw around terms like that with suck reckless abandon, when they really have no idea what such things even mean. Just because a person really loves fire doesn't make them a pyromaniac. And that's all I'll say about that.

Seriously though folks, I do like a good fire. And this fellow Todd had a very nice set-up in his backyard with a large firepit, many good hunks of wood, and several Christmas trees. And trust me when I say that those suckers went up like the dried out husks that they were. We would throw on one of those puppies and then immediately retreat because the fire would surge upwards and anyone standing within 10 feet could end up sans eyebrows.

While the fire was wicked awesome, having the fire department show up wasn't. Oh, didn't I mention? Yeah, the fire department showed up. Apparently some concerned citizen called them, not to make a formal complaint, but just to make sure that they were "aware" of the backyard bonfire. Narks. Anyhoodle, the firemen showed up, stood around, noticed that we looked like a group of responsible adults (good thing they didn't know about the 5 gin and tonics I had downed earlier) and hit the road. But not before ordering us not to burn anymore Christmas trees. Which actually makes them a bunch of Debbie downers.

but there was still a good fire going, lots of new people to meet and chat with, and gin and tonics aplenty. All in all, a successful night!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Thoughts of Life and Loss

Here's the thing about life. Nothing is ever easy. If you want something, life is going to make you fight for it. You're going to have to swear, scream, spit, and scratch all the way to what you want. And sometimes, you never even get it. So why bother fighting? Because that's the whole point. The fight is what makes us who we are. It's what develops strength, character, creativity, ingenuity, all those things that make us wonderfully human. Of course, sometimes the fight is what makes us all grotesquely rotten people, but that's also the point. In life there are winners and losers. And being a winner doesn't mean you necessarily get what you were fighting for, but it means you learn the lesson and move on. The losers never learn.

Is any of this remotely comforting when you don't get that thing you want? Hell, no. If someone you love is suffering crushing disappointment and you try to reassure them with thoughts of, "but this ordeal will make you a better person, so chin up!" you'll probably get punched in the face. And you would deserve it. But hopefully someday your loved one will look back on that time of heartache, pain, and loss and know that they emerged better and stronger for having endured it.

Someday can seem awfully far away when you or the people you love are hurting. But sometimes someday is all we have to cling to. Until then, you just keep fighting.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Three Christmases

Ah, the plight of the divorced child. The holidays mean hustle and bustle for everyone, but if you come from a so-called "broken family," it tends to be even crazier. In fact, I had a total of three Christmases this year, which while awesome, is also a heck of a lot of work.

Christmas #1 was actually on Christmas Eve. This evening is traditionally spent with my Dad, Grandmother, et al. opening gifts. However, as my brother and his wife would not be in town until actual Christmas Day, we decided to put off until the day after Christmas our gift opening. But since my stepsister and her husband were unavailable the day after Christmas, we opened gifts with Scott and Marin on Christmas Eve over at Grandma's.

Confused yet?

Christmas #2 was Christmas Day. This day is always spent with my mother and brother, and this year Bill and Amanda got into town towards the late afternoon. So Mom and I hung out, watched White Christmas and got my house ready to host Christmas during the day. And tried to stay away from all the cookies I had made, but dear God, it was hard. Activate will-power now!

Bill and Amanda ended up arriving safe and sound along with their dog, Sir Issac Newton, and we spent the evening visiting, opening presents, and cooking dinner. On the menu was home-made pizza with ingredients from Trader Joe's (what? We're Jewish and Amanda was a vegetarian so I was not making a huge Christmas ham or roast or anything). It was my first time hosting Christmas, or really any major holiday occasion, and I think overall it went off without a hitch. As they say, proper planning prevents poor performance, and I had been busting my butt for over a month to make sure everything was done way in advance.

Christmas #3 was back to Grandma's for our traditional Christmas Eve activities that were this time held on the day after Christmas. We had a full house with my Uncle, Aunt, and cousin who were down from New Jersey, plus our usual crew. I like to say that the Riley family Christmas is something of an orgy of consumption, since we always have so much food and so many presents that it's kind of ridiculous. But with 10 people, you need a lot, right? I guess we are just good old-fashioned Americans who believe that more is more. Especially when it comes to hugging. And laughing.

After Christmas I managed to avoid the post-holiday depression by taking the week off from work (which was AWESOME) and trying to cram in as much quality time with my brother and other family as possible. Of course, all good things must end, and early New Years day he and Amanda packed up the car and the dog and headed back to Michigan, or as I like to call it, mitten-shaped purgatory.

So here we are: a new year and the beginning of a new decade. I turn 30 in less than a month (!!!) but don't plan on letting it get me down. As long as I have the emotional maturity of an 18 year old, I'll never really age, right?