Monday, July 19th, 2010
The first outdoor adventure I really remember is when my girl scout troop (Maryland 1001, woot woot!) went camping around Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Most of the girls abandoned the tents to sleep in Volvo station wagons and I remember that the things I cared most about packing were several shades of lipstick (to play dress up with after hours of course). I probably had a pink Barbie sleeping bag or something, but I remember that I was required to have a mesh bag to string up my dishes in and that my parents bought that bag from Hudson Trail.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself at Hudson Trail a lot. Mostly because I was kind of a hippie and wanted to look like I could live in the wilderness at any moment. Yes, it might be third period geometry class, but I wasn’t happy unless it looked like at any time during the lesson, I could run out and live like a young wolf on the Appalachian Trail. I also frequented the store for actual products I could use while trekking, like my trusty Vasque boots (still going strong on my feet since 1995).
This weekend, I threw down several hundred dollars at Hudson Trail buying things like $50 Gore-tex hats that I hope keep the leeches from feasting on my head. That’s right, I’m heading to Nepal during the height of leech season. I also bought a lot of pink fleece, waterproofer, 100% Deet, a travel pillow that folds into the size of a tissue, and those ever so fetching zip off pants. I know, sounds like a Miss America check list.
What I love about Hudson Trail is that it feels like a store for real outdoors people. The ones who eat bark and summit Everest backwards. None of this soccer mom who likes to do yoga in the backyard nonsense. No, they cater to the real deal. And I’m definitely not saying that’s me, but I like to pretend it is when I’m buying leech blocker.
I'm the one in the raft with the bug net on my face, thus it looks like I am the girl without features. And yes, even in 1995, I was buying my bug nets at Hudson Trail.
Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
The other day when I was perusing one of my favorite sites, This is Glamorous, I came across some photos from a Home & Garden editorial the New York Times did in June. It was the smallest pile of glamorous bricks I had ever seen.
Sandra Foster is a fiscal administrator at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, but she’s a gardner by trade. And by the likes of what she did to a rinky-dink hunting cabin, she’s also one heck of an interior designer.
What I love most about this tiny cabin is the size, the fact that Sandra remodeled it completely on her own and that all the renovating and furnishing cost only $3000. Sandra lives in a trailer with her husband and escapes for privacy to the little cabin.
On a day when I received a legal notice in the mail from the DC government saying I had to clean up the tree debris in my parking space or I would be fined, Sandra’s house was an inspiration. The DC government said too much brush piled up like I had “was a breeding ground for rodents.” Hmm, that was enough to get me sawing. And while I sawed, I noticed that my garage is just a bit bigger than Sandra’s haven and shouldn’t I start decorating too? Yes it is. But first I will concentrate on keeping a rodent free backyard. Baby steps…
The hunting cabin turned Victorian hideaway.
That bed! I absolutely love it and would never ever get up in the morning if I lived in that nook of calm.
Those books! The white everything. I want to hide here and eat no colored food or drinks.
Thursday, July 1st, 2010
I don’t know where my love of adventure travel comes from. Certainly some of it comes from my international parents who have both traversed the globe. And a part comes from plain old curiosity. But I attribute a lot of it to Deer Hill and my amazing leaders. I did Deer Hill (like Outward Bound or NOLS but cooler) when I was in 10th grade and trying very hard to figure out life. I was pretty sure the meaning of life was freedom, the Grateful Dead and cute boys, but I couldn’t be too sure. Deer Hill helped me realize that life is also about community, playing with dirt, and having fun!
Of course I also had this really hot counselor named Jason who wore a cotton shirt sleeve on his head, sun bleached shorts and carried an ice pick. I basically thought he was god. So that hot boy thing continued to ring true.
There were so many things that surprised and inspired me during my Deer Hill days. One, was that after a month of living, I only had a ziplock bag of trash. Now I take out a Santa Claus sized sack every week. Then, I had a tiny handful after a month. Amazing. I also learned that mountain goats love to lick pee. I learned that one the hard way of course. I was innocently heeding nature’s call behind a large rock when I was basically violated by mountain goats. But I recovered.
As I get set to go to Nepal in less than a month, I hope I can travel with the same curiosity and gung ho attitude I had when I was half my age!
Here I am cliff jumping from god knows how many feet. I was screaming loud enough to kill an entire village during that fall.
That speck on the left is a very tan 15-year-old me with a really big and heavy backpack. We're on the Continental Divide and I think I forgot the word shower at this point, but it was such a blast!
Jason, the man I thought could walk on water when I was 15.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
There are some sports out there that I will never understand how to play. Football, definitely one of them. Curling? I have a higher comprehension of rocket science than I do curling. Biiathlon? Why should anyone on skis have a gun? And that’s why I love baseball. America’s pastime is so easy for all (except my Belgian mother) to understand. You hit a ball, run around some bases, people cheer, and tah-dah! That’s America for you.
Growing up in our nation’s capital, we always went to Baltimore to watch baseball, as they were the closest thing to a hometown team. Until the Nats came in 2005 and all my loyalties shifted. Finally, a DC team! And who cares if we aren’t the greatest. Rome wasn’t built in a day! That was my mentality for a while anyway, until we acquired the Stras-burger-nator. Now I want to win every game.
I went to a game yesterday for Father’s Day, and one today with my amazing colleagues and Strasburg didn’t pitch at either. I feel robbed!
Now if my team isn’t winning the game, I can always find something to keep me entertained, like binoculars and a nice uninterrupted view of the starting team’s butts. When I was in high school and my softball team would go to games together, we brought enough binoculars to put the best birders to shame. Our seats were nosebleed and our hormones were raging. So out came the binoculars and those Orioles posteriors in the mid-90s did we ever appreciate.
So Strasburg, please do some squats to keep us happy. And then win a few games and make us even happier. Go Nats!
All our hope lies in the hands of this young man with the prominent ears and the golden arm. Yeah, Strasburg! Here's to the man who inspired a thousand and one sandwiches named after him. Even I plan on chowing down a Strasburger.
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
I’m sunburnt and exhausted and Craig just passed out next to me wearing canary yellow shorts, but I had a great day. Amy and I decided to go on a long bike ride in Maryland and spent the entire time planning a bike across America trip we would like to indulge in one day. It just takes three short months to get from coast to coast on two wheels they say. Wow! I’m thinking April 2011 is as good a time as any to embark on that voyage.
Today we decided to do something a tad shorter and headed out together on our bikes in the 100 degree heat to enjoy a little nature/glute workout. Amy had never been to Glen Echo park so we scooted on over to wander the place. It was an amusement park from 1891 to 1968 and still has that eerie feeling, like you’re going to get chased down by the bearded lady and fed to an elephant. But that’s all part of it’s charm.
Another appealing factor is the shinny spinning carousel. Turns out they let disgustingly sweaty adults on with the very cute children and Amy and I got to bob up and down on pretty plastic horses for $1.25 each! I didn’t know anything on earth still cost a $1.25, especially something so entertaining. We made enormous fools of ourselves talking to our plastic ponies and pretending we were in the Kentucky Derby. I think even the tiny children around us were embarrassed for us. But never they mind. It was wonderful to pause and enjoy the simple things, like a carousel ride with your partner in silly. I just love the weekend.
- Amy, who always believes in safety first, attached her seatbelt on the carousel. Not surprisingly, she came out unscathed.
I love even a plastic horse when coupled with my unflattering workout ensemble and Risky Business sunglasses. Cheap thrills!
Saturday, June 12th, 2010
The World Cup has started! And I’m not in South Africa to watch it. Alas…Luckily espn.com is streaming it live so we were able to watch it at work while writing about cocktail parties. Kelly had the game on her computer and though the people looked like pixelated robots, we watched as the teams from Mexico and South Africa tied. Personally, I love a tie. I absolutely hate watching people loose. When I watch the Olympics I want everyone to tie for the gold. I mean they just try so hard!
But there can only be one winner at the Cup and of course my fingers are crossed for the US of A. I might be torn between rooting for the US and Belgium, as I am also a citizen of the latter, but sadly little Belgium did not make it to the World Cup this year.
In 1994, when the US was the host country, Belgium was in the Cup and yours truly got to march in the opening ceremonies here in Washington. How did I get this gig? Was it because I passed a series of vigorous physical tests? Or proved my child might over other rug rats? Nope. It was simply because I’m Belgian. And since there are very few Belgians (I’m surprised we haven’t been declared endangered), I was granted the right to march for my (other) nation before a major sporting event, in ceremonial dress. That’s right. My mother, all her Belgian colleagues and their offspring, ran around the stadium with our trusty tri-colored flag and medieval velvet dresses on. In the heat of summer. Got to love a northern nation.
Thanks mom for giving me your Belgian-ness and thanks Belgium for having such ridiculous traditional dress. Made the whole situation a lot more memorable. Let the games begin!
The love of the game! And the love of goofy outfits.
Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Today my coworker Kelly sent me a really funny blog that I am now totally obsessed with called Hyperbole and a Half. Allie Brosh, who writes the blog, most recently wrote about a big NCAA track meet she ran in Texas when she had a temp of 104 and actually stuffed ice down that heinous little bathing suit thing you have to wear when running competitive track. Her hilarious post brought back sooooo many memories of having panic attack after panic attack before running races in high school. I was a sprinter and mostly ran the 200, 300 and 400 meter dashes, the latter being the most hellish race ever invented by a human being, save perhaps the marathon. And of course, being the hoarder that I am, I still have the shoes I wore to run all those races. That’s right! More than a decade later I have those Nikes sitting in a prime little box in my closet.
My memory sneakers, as I like to call them, are perhaps the smelliest shoes that exist in America today. If you peed in your shoes and left them in your room for a year, they wouldn’t smell this bad. I think the problem with the shoes is that I tried to cover up the lovely odor with a wide array of household goods over the last couple years.
I have doused them in Febreeze, baking soda, overpriced perfume, Clorox bleach, etc.. I even burned sage leaves like this Native American shaman once did on my outward bound program. But nothing. It just smells like several small rodents have used them as their home for several generations. Like since the dawn of time. But I love them still. I even unearthed them for a road trip I took in Romania because they fold up really small.
While in Romania I wore them to do other very smelly activities, like milking a cow and feeding a small goat. The stench did not get any better. But still I held on! These are the shoes of a warrior! I ran myself a silver medal in the bad boys, and while I have no idea where the medal is, I still have the shoes.
Here they are!!
A picture drawn by Allie Brosh for her blog. This is pretty much what you want to have happen when you're about to run.
Sadly this was more of her reality. Ice down the pants and a fever. Got to hand it to her for trying though!
Monday, June 7th, 2010
As I fly over the friendly skies from Naples back to Washington, I’m kind of regretting the pact Craig and I made while observing our less than perfect washboard abs on the beach. We swore up and down that we are going to embark on “The Spartacus Workout” three days a week as part of our crazy-person six days our of seven workout. Craig found this Spartacus situation in Men’s Health and it is actually the really over the top regime done by the actors in the Starz show Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
My thirtieth birthday is 63 days away and one thing I really want when I hit the big 3-0 is a body I love. After running two marathons in the last six months, I’m pretty happy with having accomplished that, but now I am ready for that six-pack I can stop a bullet with. Or at least just bare by the pool.
THIS PART OF POST WRITTEN AFTER HAVING LANDED, GONE STRAIGHT TO GYM AND DONE SPARTACUS WORKOUT.
Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. But good pain. The kind that might give me thighs that Lance Armstrong would approve of. I think I just sweated out all the toxins in my body and my nine layers of beach-inspired bronzer. The hardest part of the workout is jumping in the air between lunges. Who knew jumping was so painful? If I survive this Spartacus training, I think I will wear that leather loincloth after all.
These three actors are all doing the Spartacus workout to get buff for their show, aptly named "Spartacus." While I don't need my bicep to be the size of my head, I will happily take a six-pack.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
I’ve always wanted to run a marathon for charity but I was really afraid that I would end up raising money and then not be able to run because I was too out of shape. But now that I have a few under my belt, I feel a bit more confident. Thus, today I signed up to run the Marine Corps marathon in October for the Make-a-Wish foundation.
The part of my job that I enjoy the most is getting to work with oh, every single non-profit org in the entire country. Samba against syphillis, mambo to eradicate measels, you name it, I’ve gone to their gala. But the gala that touched me the most, a.k.a made me visibly snot on myself I was crying so hard, was the Mid-Atlantic Make-a-Wish foundation’s fundraiser. I literally could not speak or eat during the entire thing. Of course they had one of the founders, Frank Shankwitz, there and he told the story of how the organization started when in 1980, 7-year-old Chris Greicius who had leukemia, officially became Arizona’s first honorary police officer.
Since then the org has granted 193,611 wishes, or a wish every 40 minutes. Kelly and I spent a good portion of our workday reading about the wishes, which are often so simple it’s humbling. One boy from Florida’s wish was to see snow. He was flown up to Minnesota and spent the day on a snowmobile and making snow angels. After fighting back the tears, Kelly and I decided that our wishes would be to see the seven wonders of the world and a trip to space. Hmm, both a tad pricey as wishes go, especially my ridiculous one.
Running for the Make-a-Wish foundation, I promised to raise $750 for the non-profit. I don’t have to start training again until June, but when I do, it will be nice to think that I’m pounding the pavement for a great cause!
This little girl named Izzy wished to be in her own fashion show and this is the outfit she chose. A really solid choice if you ask me. Raising $750 isn't much, but it will be really nice to know that I'm running to make a little difference.
Monday, May 10th, 2010
Today, on what felt like the last day of winter here in Washington, Georgia and I went to Nationals stadium to watch Nancy Brinker throw the first pitch on Mother’s Day. I collaborate with Susan G Komen often for work and just adore their staff and Nancy Brinker herself. I mean, not only did she fulfill her promise to her sister who died from breast cancer, but she turned the non-profit into a powerhouse and had the foresight to pick a very flattering shade of pink as its signature color.
So wearing said color, Georgia and I, along with other pink-clad press watched as the Nationals used pink bats to clobber the Florida Marlins. We also binged on Ben’s Chili Bowl and gave every man around us “Gentleman’s Names” like that of center fielder Nyjer Morgan. A national security expert sitting next to us became “Desmond Cashmere,” as we decided that all such names should have a distinguished name to start and then a type of fabric at the end, like Nyjer Morgan’s “Tony Plush.” Perhaps I will go by “Gwenivere Velveteen,” if I ever play pro-baseball.
Georgia is graduating from GW this weekend and I am very very sad to see her leave Washington. It was great to be silly with her for a few hours before she goes and we spent an excessive amount of time deciding on the song that would play when we were at bat, if we were to join the Nationals. This was an important conversation to have as the odds of are high. I obviously chose “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” by Big and Rich and Georgia selected something rough and tumble from the Phantom of the Opera. Guaranteed crowd favorites! Baseball, mother’s day, girl bonding, and the battle to save boobs = a fabulous day.
- Susan G. Komen on the left and her sister, Ambassador Nancy Brinker on the right. Nancy is the number one protector of boobs (and lives) in the land.
Nancy Brinker accepting the Presidential medal of Freedom from the man himself earlier this year. I was lucky enough to attend her reception afterwards at the Hay Adams and stood less than a foot away from Ann Currie. In fact, we literally rubbed elbows. She has really good skin and looks fetching in pink.