Archive for category Happenings

My Quake Take

Here’s the long and short of it, in no particular order…

1. The house stood up perfectly.  In fact, I think it’s better than it was.  The bathroom door does not squeak as loud and the front stairs seem sturdier (though Corey could have corrected it by falling down them yesterday and spilling and breaking  beer bottles on the sidewalk).  The only damage was that my earring holder fell down, and that seems to happen a bit.  Kitchen is sturdy!  Front stairs needed to be replaced anyway, now these are just two reasons to do it.

2. The office did not fair as well.  City Hall is opened tomorrow, except for my area and the area below me where the planners sit.  If you ask me, there were probably things wrong with that area before the quake, like incandescent blue and red mold (Party in Mold Town!).  But that’s what happens when a building from 1961 is integrated with a building from 1871 – you get a few weak spots.  From the five minutes I was there after the evacuation to gather my things, I saw one broken internal window, a few cracks on the wall (which, in all honesty, what building from 1871 doesn’t have cracks?) and plaster pieces on the blue carpet.  I was wise enough to bring work home with me, so I may be working from home tomorrow.

3. I watched the whole thing go down outside at the corner of Royal Street and Cameron Street.  Luckily, I had left Ross a few minutes earlier to hustle to get to a 2:00 conference call.  Could you imagine if “my story” was that I was shopping in Ross during the great quake of 2011?  No thanks.  That place is a mess anyway.   During the quake I had my wallet and a bag of extra large sassy underwear, including a size 42D bra, a small clutch and a packet of cheap lip gloss samples.  Oh, for shame! I was hoping my coworkers flooding out of the building would not judge if they could see through the bag because really, carrying that bag was bad enough.

4. So the corner of Royal and Cameron around 1:51pm…I felt what seemed to be an imaginary breeze.  My eyes saw a breeze – birds flew into the air simultaneously, trees were shaking, buildings were creaking, bricks were flying through the air and that steeple.  I will have dreams about that steeple.  It was swaying every which way.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  Which is probably why I thought it was a breeze.  My balance is not the greatest and I frequently get dizzy spells, so I’ve learned to trust my eyes.  Thinking back, I probably felt the quake because I remember taking a step backwards – why would I do that to hustle to a meeting?  Point is, it moved me, but I get “moved” by my dizziness enough not to notice.  I noticed today!

5. I felt certain that was not an earthquake.  100% certain.  I bet the intern $5 that it wasn’t – surely it was a gas explosion (the big breeze perhaps?) or something from the construction site a block away.  But then people started pouring out into the street.  Everyone was pretty calm for the most part, though some were a bit shaken.  We met at our safety spot, until we realized that was a courtyard on top of a parking garage that probably wasn’t safe.  After about 30 minutes (of hiding the Ross bag), we were allowed in to collect our things.  Our office was dismissed around 2:40pm.

6. Luckily, we had a “safe house”.  I remember on 9/11 my house on Capital Hill was the safe house for all the staffers who lived in VA, and now I was in VA going to a safe house.  Planner Katye, Planner Maya, Planner Brandi and Planner Nate made their way to Katye’s house to watch the news and relax while we let traffic pass by.  We mostly played with our phones and let out a single laugh from time to time at a clever Facebook post.  Speaking of clever, the news coverage was stellar.  And by stellar, I mean comedic.  Pat Collins at it again!  We were certainly entertained.  I got home around 6:30, and my plans for the evening have been postponed until tomorrow night.

The planner crew after the earthquake.

The planner crew after the earthquake.

7. At 1:59 I got my first text message, from Paul in Boston, asking about the earthquake.  How amazing is that?  We didn’t even know what was happening and I got word that quickly.  Our cell phones were blocked for quite awhile, and those things are useless in emergencies.  Folks, we should have better plans.  I had just finished my NIMS training, required by all Transportation employees for working emergency situations, so I felt extra prepared.  But not really because I didn’t even have my city badge on me.  But, thanks to those two workshops that lasted a whole day combined, I at least knew what was going on behind the scenes and I felt good about that.

8. Not that anyone is counting, but that’s one earthquake during my four years in Southern California and THREE earthquakes in DC in the last three years.  (Earthquake #1 post here, and the second minor one at work when Salsa Mike and I noticed it because we used to live in CA).  I remember having a debate with Sweet Pea, a west coaster, about earthquakes (west coast) vs. hurricanes (east coast), and here we are getting both in one week.  This is truly special.  Stay safe everyone!



Did you miss me?

Whew!  Did you realize that it has been over a month since I last wrote?  Some of you have noticed and have let me know about it.  For those of you who have encouraged me to continue writing, thank you!  Starting the new job and finishing the kitchen took a toll, and I have not slowed down since.  Well, there were two times I wanted to write, but writing when in a sour mood never helped anything!

Instead, I’ve been keeping a journal.  That doesn’t really help you, does it?

First, the kitchen.  It looks awesome.  Photos do not do it justice so I hesitate to post them.  Why don’t you just come visit and see it yourself?  My favorite part of all of the remodeling is revealing to my friends and watching their reactions.  It tickles me to no end.  Why would I miss out on that by posting photos?  I have a few items left on the list: move an electrical outlet, caulk the counter top, and figure out what to do with the backsplash…if anything.  Oh, and one more kink in the plan, the fridge just decided to quit working on Sunday.  Ugh.  Refrigerator repairmen are not easy to get.  And honestly, I’m not sure I can replace it because I think we trapped it in with the counter top!  Ahhh!

Next, the job.  I’m having a blast working for Alexandria.  It combines the best part of my transportation planning and marketing skills to try to get people out of single occupancy vehicles and into alternative modes.  I really like the people I work with as they are open to new ideas and trying them out.  That’s much different than my previous perspective of public sector work.  Plus, I get to carpool with Maya, and that has been fun, too.  Speaking of, the commute is beautiful – 25 minutes in the car passing the monuments and along the Potomac River on the GW Parkway.  Refreshing.

Family.  Everyone is doing fine – happy and healthy.  And I know this because I spent the weekend with the Cummings family at our reunion in Branson, MO.  Branson is like nothing I could ever explain here.  Corby is from Branson and she tried to prepare me, but nothing could have prepared me.  I highly suggest you make a trip.  The best way I can describe it is “an auto-centric Christian family values Vegas for middle to late aged.”  We enjoyed the go cart track, putt-putt, and rode a DUKW.  The best part was playing games with family and seeing some of my cousins I haven’t seen in almost 20 years.

What else?  Improv.  There’s always improv!  Subsidized Corn is going to the Del Close Marathon!  It’s 48 solid hours of improv by troupes from all over the country.  We’re very excited.  There were 12 teams from DC who were accepted (it’s a selective process), so it’s like moving the improv party to NYC for the weekend.  How fun is that?  If you want to see us, we’re playing on the UCB Theater stage at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.

I think that’s about it for this time around.  There are plenty of things to write about, and I plan to continue.  And there are some great things that I have no intention of writing about here…but you can ask!

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Goodbye, Unemployment

Dear Unemployment,

It is with bittersweet feelings that I write this note to you.  Over these past two months, we’ve really gotten to know each other.  We had some good times, right?  We traveled to New York City for a week of improv class at UCB Theater and hung out with Roy in Brooklyn.  We traveled to Los Angeles for a week of reuniting with my planner friends, spending a bit of time on the beach and recalling my planning roots.  We got some projects done around the house, including a good start on a kitchen remodel.  We entertained out of town visitors like Dave, Hirman and Christian.  I directed my first movie, and you were there to support me through it all giving me the time and space I needed to be creative.  We frequented the library and the free small business seminars.  We had lunch with my full-time employed friends, and spent most of it making them jealous.  I even managed to lose a few pounds, which doesn’t typically happen when I’m, ahem, involved.  And don’t get me started on the lazy mornings in bed together…

Yes, it’s been fun.  I wasn’t sure how we would get along at the beginning, but we made it work.  You were thrust upon me, surprisingly out of nowhere like a dreaded blind date that turned out more than okay.  We became a team, and anything was possible together.  Yes, I worried how I would afford our next date sometimes, but you listened when I said I had a budget to keep.  You understood me.

But tonight is our last night together.  As of tomorrow, I will be leaving you and getting into a committed relationship with your much older brother, Full-time Career.  I have high hopes for my future with him.  It’s just that I’ve known him longer and had a history with him before you came along.  I hope you understand.  He’s really all I know.  I’m looking forward to rekindling what we had before you came along to shake up my life.

And while I will always remember our spring fling, I have to do what’s right for me.  With him I feel mature, capable, responsible and needed.  I am free to be myself and travel the world with him.  I love myself more with him.  Sadly, I’ll be back to the land of the early bedtimes and setting my alarm.  But I will always remember the awesome times we had and how creative I felt with you.  I will always look back on this time in my life fondly with love.  I will miss you.

All my love,


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Kitchen “Before”

When I finished the bathroom, my one regret was that I didn’t have many “before” photos to compare.  I couldn’t appreciate the “after” in the best way because I wasn’t remembering the “before”.  Each time I walked into the bathroom, I would see the flaws that I created, and forgot how nonfunctional and not-so-pretty it was before I got to it.   Not this time!  I took a ton of photos to share.  Yay!

By the way, I’m not clear if this is a renovation or a remodel, so I’ll just use them interchangeably until someone sets me straight.

The whole reason for the renovation is to add a dishwasher.  One of my pet peeves on HGTV’s House Hunters is when the potential home buyers comment on how much they hate the kitchen.  The house hunters complain that it’s too small, lacking stainless steel appliances or drastically needs an update because it hasn’t been touched since the mid-80’s.  Uh, that’s okay folks.  Many of those kitchens are completely livable and functional!  We’ve created a snotty home-buying culture and it’s disgusting.  Don’t even get me started on how big garages and master closets need to be for these people!!  Bigger is not better.  But I digress.

So, we need a dishwasher.  Better said, I would like a dishwasher.  Could we live without one?  Sure.  But if I’m taking out cabinets to make room for a dishwasher, I might as well take out the whole shebang.  We need more storage.  The counter tops made of tile need another grouting and the front tiles are starting to loosen.  There is no back splash so the walls get dirty easily.  There is no hood over the stove to filter the smells from the cooking.  The cabinets are pretty cheap Ikea from quite a few years back and not exactly sturdy MDF.  Again, we have lived with it for a year and could probably live with it for another few years, or even until I sell the house.  But why not invest in my house, add value AND enjoy a fun and workable kitchen?

So, on to the photos!  That’s what you came for anyway.


William and Kate

Okay, my turn to share my thoughts on the marriage of William and Kate.  I have been following the wedding hoopla, but not to excess.  I’m still keeping it real.  Since I do not have too much going on these days, it’s a few minutes of daily fun time.  Might as well put all this knowledge to good use!  My random thoughts…

How exactly can I be so excited about this wedding?  It makes me feel old that I remember his mother’s wedding!  In 1981, my mom woke me up really early and we watched it in my pajamas at our house on Andover.  I think Melissa was too small and Emily wasn’t even born yet!  So yes, I feel old thinking about how I witnessed William’s parents wedding.  My cousin Brandon got married a few years ago, and I think I’m supposed to remember his parent’s wedding, but I don’t.  That’s the only example in my real life that I can remotely think of, and even that thought makes me feel old!

I’ve always been a fan of William and wondered who he would end up with.  Okay, fine, I admit he was on my freebie list for awhile, back in the early 2000s.  Kate is fine, but I’m not appreciating her recent look of poverty.  She’s 5’10” and down to a size 2.  That’s insane!  Quit losing weight!  She was a perfect size for the engagement announcement.  I know that brides-to-be want to look good, but I’m guessing this is just stress.  None of us can relate to what it could feel like to have billions of people looking at you on your wedding day.  I feel for the girl, but this is what she signed up for.  Is it me, or has she been looking a bit smug recently?  I swear she’s taunting me.

The comparisons between Kate and Diana are nauseating.  Could you imagine if you were being compared to your deceased mother-in-law all over the international media?  They never met, so why are interviewers asking Kate about her?  Weird.  And I would prefer if we gave the style comparisons a rest, too.  Kate’s style is fine as a result of playing it safe for eight years trying to land the Prince.  Once all that is done, she’ll probably come out of her shell.  She’s a tomboy, so why are we looking to her for fashion advice anyway?

Speaking of fashion, enough with the wedding dress speculation!  Or any speculation for that matter!  Reporters don’t know, so why are they reporting on it?  Idle chatter.  This is the part that I skip because I only want the facts of this wedding.  Speaking of facts, you know who makes me laugh every time I see her in an interview? Jessica Hay.  I don’t know this poor girl, but can’t we get someone else to speak on Kate’s behalf?  Jessica is terrible!  And I almost guarantee that she has no inside knowledge.  It’s hard to believe that she and Kate received similar upper crusty education.  Well, it’s worth a laugh at least.

All that said, I’m happy for them.  I guess they seem happy enough.  I’m not jaded, but I hope this works.  Something feels off, but I’m guessing it’s just that I have no clue what I’m talking about!  At this point, I’ll just blame the media and international hoopla.  Clearly, there are many publicists at work and lots of training of what to say and do.  It’s hard to think that behind all of that, there are two people who will be able to share an intimate moment with their friends and family on a very special day.  If it were me, I would elope the day before with a few family members and friends then do the public show for everyone else the next day.  I would leave Jessica Hay out.

Despite my ranting, I am excited for their wedding and all the events.  So yes, on Friday I will be up at 4:00 am watching the coverage.  I’m not sure which station to go with or what to record on the DVR.  At 6:00 am, I will share the wedding live with some of my girl friends, thankful for all my friends and my privacy.

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“Free Time”

When you are immediately given a surprise gift of free time,  it would be easy to think of all sorts of things you would do with it.  The possibilities are endless!  I could spend a whole day just getting caught up on emails and saying hello to friends that I have not been in touch with as much as I would like.  House projects are jumping out at me, especially since I’m at home during the day.  Once the weather gets nice, I’ll be sure to de-weed the garden.  Then you quickly realize how hard it is to get to everything on the wish list.  Like blogging more!!!!  Such is life.

So what have I been doing with my time?

Job search:

This is going well and I remain optimistic beyond what should be considered “normal.”  I have a better idea what gets me excited and which direction my career should head.  I attended the NCAC APA Conference and was reinvigorated remembering what planning used to be to me.  It was great to see so many familiar faces and to hear about a variety of planning topics, something I really enjoyed in planning school.  I also got my law and ethics credits for AICP, so that was an added bonus.

Thanks to so many fabulous people, I have been able to make some contacts and hold some informational interviews that have been helpful.  I’ve applied for a few positions, and every time the resume goes out it makes me feel good.   Thanks to Mom and Salsa for getting my resume polished.  I feel really good when I send it out because it’s a strong resume.


Subsidized Corn is still going strong after an amazing trip to the Adelaide Fringe Festival.  We have a show this Thursday at 9:30 at Source if you want to catch us again.  Just confirmed: April 22 at 8:00pm at DC Improv, SubCo will be taking the stage again.  We practice weekly at Nick’s new house, so that’s one free way to get out and about with friends!

SubCo is also organizing our first ever entry in the 48 Hour Film Project.  Basically, you get 48 hours to create/write/direct/act/edit a 4-7 minute short film using a line of dialog, style and prop that is provided to you.  Everything is new to us, so there is a steep learning curve.  I’m so excited about this and what the Corn can create!  The video below was filmed in Lenoir when we did the Kernels for Carolina…most of it is Laura’s greatness putting together snippets of us playing around with the camera.  She’s very talented!

My FIST team Pledged lost our first match, and it was disappointing because we want to perform together more!  So, we may set up a show just so we get that chance.  Alaina, Sarah and I had a blast remembering our college sorority days and geeking out on all things Southern Belle.  To celebrate, I hosted a Southern Belle Covered Dish on Sunday night.  The menu included fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, cornbread, pecan bars and banana pudding.  Yum. We heard that eating your colors was a good thing, so we went with yellow.  We will be doing this again for sure!

Since I have some time, I signed up for a UCB Intensive course in New York next week.  Totally thrilled.  This idea came to me at 4:00am on Friday when I was reminded that life is too short to not be doing something that you love.  I am staying with a very gracious friend in Brooklyn and living like an actor for a week.   I would never take a week off of work to do something like this (I would rather go abroad or far away if I have a whole week), so this is just perfect.  I’m excited about feeling New York’s weekday vibe, seeing some improv shows, and taking in a few museums and coffee shops for people watching.


Uh, yeah.  Now is the perfect time to remodel my kitchen, right?  Might as well!  I have the time to wait on electricians and plumbers and such…if I even need them.  Dad and HiM will be helping me with the demo and installation, and I can’t wait to see how the three of us work together (I have a hunch it will be a very positive experience).  So far, I’ve shopped for appliances and cabinets and counter tops.  Today I research everything, tomorrow I order everything.  No pressure.  I want to start it earlier rather than later because I’m not sure when I’ll have a new job and I’ll be able to enjoy it more by being at home!  A special thanks to Aunt Bonnie and HiM for shopping with me and to Cameron for suggestions and inspirations.  I will save some of it for a surprise.

Dave, Hirman and I in the Cherry BlossomsWhat else have I done with my time?  Clearly not blogging!  Dave and Hirman stayed with me this weekend and we went to see Cherry Blossoms and fireworks and Smithsonians (photos on FB).  Aunt Bonnie and I went to Ikea yesterday and I put together a bookcase when I returned.  I’ve had several work lunches with folks, yoga with Shauna, and volunteering at WIT.  Corby and I took a long walk on Saturday, and ended up at Bojangle’s at Union Station.  It opened on Thursday and I received four texts from four people letting me know.  Talk about a network in action!  The house was really clean for awhile, and it will be again today, too, when I’m done with it.  It took about a day or two to get the Australia photos somewhat organized.  All 876 (from the Corn alone, not including my Wellington and LA photos) are online, but now I need to choose my favorites, label and organize so you know what you’re looking at.  It just takes awhile!  I also have a few things in the works, like a baseball extravaganza and another cabin in the woods weekend.

I set my alarm every morning and get up at a very reasonable hour everyday, despite some insomnia that has been creeping in.  I don’t watch tv during the day unless it’s on my “lunch hour” when I watch HGTV-usually some sort of kitchen remodel project-so it’s sort of homework.  My routine has me showering in the early evening for my evening social activity, whatever that day may bring.  I find that the busier I am, the more I can get done.  At this point, I’m running out of phone minutes, but I love seeing people in the evenings!  It gives me something to look forward to and a reason to get my work done and not lollygag or dilly dally.  I really just wanted to use the words “lollygag” and “dilly dally.”

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It’s Tuesday

The days are starting to work themselves together now and I did not expect that to happen so soon.  Last week I was enjoying the sunshine and the freedom, but this week it is back to work.  And by work I mean looking for someone to pay me to do something I enjoy…I’m just trying to find out what that is.  I figure I’ll work from home now while I’m not bored by it, but pretty soon I’ll get restless and need to be somewhere else near people for most of the day.

I dubbed yesterday “Resume Day” where I sharpened my resume, references, writing samples and ordered transcripts in preparation of the Great Job Hunt of 2011.  I gotta say, ordering transcripts is not as easy as it sounds.  Plus, USC charged me $12 and UNC Charlotte only $5, and I’m still not clear how their services will differ for the price.  I also emailed a lot of my professional contacts to let them know that I’m looking and would appreciate if they kept their eyes and ears open.  It took all day to do most of it.  I never liked my alarm when I was going into an office everyday, but I really don’t like my alarm when my subconscious knows that really, truly, technically I don’t have to get out of bed.

Today was “Search Federal Jobs Day”.  Those puppies take so long to hear back from, so I thought it would be the most efficient use of my time and get a jump start.  There are several things out there, though none of them just right.  The trick with the Feds is that you have to know your stuff, or at least be able to answer their non-KSA KSA questions sufficiently.  Yes, I have a pretty varied background, but nothing that jumped out at me perfectly.  There was one non-Fed job that was awesome and my quals fit perfectly, but I’ll save that information for another day.  Needless to say, I’m already calling that job mine!

How hot is Darnell in this photo?

How hot is Darnell in this photo?

In other news, I’ve been pretty busy in the evenings, and that’s how I know what day it is.  On Sunday, after a great tea session with Robbie G, the ladies of Pledged came over.  Pledged is my Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament (FIST) team with Alaina and Sarah.  Our show is this Thursday, March 24th at 8:00 at Source Theater.  Please come out because we need your vote in the March Madness style single elimination tournament.  Whatever happens, it will be nuts ’cause these girls are craaaay zeeeeee.  We like to laugh and play and be silly, and that will really present itself onstage!  The ladies were over again tonight and we’ve wrapped up the format.  Lookout.  Also, 12 minutes seems so short after doing so many 45 minute shows…I’ll have to remember to get to the point faster.

Monday night SubCo came over for practice and it was great to see everyone together again.  We didn’t have enough time to chat or get caught up too much because we were missing Laura (Rachel if you live in Lenoir), and didn’t want to leave her out.  She’s also performing on Thursday night, but in the 9:30 show.  Other than that I’ve been exercising and Jillian Michaels kicked my butt today.  I went to Whole Foods for dinner.  My car battery died and Corey had to jump it, so for that I am thankful that he is around to do manly stuff.  That means I won’t get a ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street tomorrow morning.  Last thing I need right now is a ticket sitting on my windshield.

Finally, Wednesday is day seven of the cleanse diet and it seems to be working.  Again, I’ll have a post about my thoughts on this and more specifics, such as I don’t really believe our bodies need to be cleansed.   It’s complicated.  For now, just know that I’m losing weight like it’s my first week on the Biggest Loser Ranch (Lauren, they do weddings!!).  I’m not trying to lose weight, it just happens when you eat a diet of rice, veggies, fish, citrus and yogurt.  There are also lots of things you can do with this diet and I’ve had a good time experimenting with it.

And now it’s late and I have a ton of things to do tomorrow, like pay bills and finish my taxes.  Then off to see a movie at the Environmental Film Festival with HiM.  Speaking of HiM, here are all my shots from our fun day at the National Arboretum on Friday.  Good night!

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