Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ready to dive into summer...

I think that I've mentioned that I lived in a cave last summer while I wrote my dissertation. Just to give you an example of my state of oblivion regarding my favorite season, I only donned a bathing suit once last summer and I can even tell you the exact date. On Saturday, August 18, 2007 I attended a brunch/book club/pool party combo at my friend's house and we lounged at a pool in her neighborhood. Brad and I did squeeze in a vacation, but you can't exactly hang out in a bikini in San Francisco in August. Or ever.

But this year, this summer, I'M FREE!!! And we're taking the trip of all trips to try to reclaim some of the fun and togetherness that we've sacrificed over the past 3.5 years to the the prison that is also known as graduate school. To celebrate, I've ordered not one, but two new swimsuits! The first one arrived in the mail yesterday, which made me want to leave immediately for vacation. But a quick glance in the mirror reminded me that I have a few crunches to do before the fun begins.

I admit that I do plenty of cheating on running, but why is it so much easier for me to run semi-long distances (5+ miles) fairly regularly, yet absolutely nothing can make me stick to a simple, time-saving, in-house routine of crunches every other day? It makes no sense at all.

Running buddy or stalking stranger?

I ran to the National Mall this past Saturday morning and a fellow runner, a mid-40ish woman in decent running shape, befriended me. As I waited at a stoplight for traffic to pass, she approached me and said, "Do you live here? I don't know my way around. Where are you running?" and I responded excitedly, "I DO live here! I'm running down to Lincoln and back home." She immediately said, "How far is it?" and I answered, "six and a half miles, but that's from where I live to Lincoln and back." She then asked, "Mind if I follow you?" and without thinking I said, "Not at all!" and I darted across the street.

Meanwhile, my mind started playing tricks on me with this stranger running about 3-5 paces behind me. Does she plan to follow me all the way to my house? Then she'll know where I live? What if she's really trying to kill or rob me? Or, set me up to be killed or robbed by figuring out where I live and sending someone else back later? Maybe I should run to a different house so she doesn't know where I live. Is this woman the e-vite loiterer that I recently blogged about and now she's out for revenge?? Brad's going to preach to me again about being gullible and caving to the needs of tourists!

You have to understand that I was not regularly exposed to strangers until I went to college. My hometown is incredibly small; most people in my high school graduating class began kindergarten with me. I can be too trusting at times and I forget that some people have ill intentions. But enough preaching from my hubby and friends over the years has led to feelings of paranoia.

I think that the woman grew bored with following me because she caught up and started running with me along the reflecting pool. She asked a ton of questions about DC and running in the city, which I have to admit, I loved answering. Finally, she asked for some recommendations of "must-run" routes and took off while I circled around the reflecting pool to start my trek home, free of my potential stalker.

This experience made me think about how much more I trust women than men. Even though I'm not the most cautious person around strangers, I do believe that I would have reacted differently had the person been a man.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

E-vite Loiterers

I've received e-vites from my sorority's local alumnae club for years. While I've attended a few events, I skip most of them because they take place so far from where I live that it's just not convenient for me. No one has ever asked me if I wish to be removed from the list and because there are literally hundreds of names on the electronic invitations, I haven't worried about being singled out as "the girl who doesn't attend anything". So I remain on the list and I glance at every e-vite that arrives, even though I know that the chances of me attending the events are slim.

However, I manage the e-vites for a smaller, more intimate, monthly group that I love and we have an e-vite loiterer who I can't quite figure out. I have no idea who she is or who added her initially to the e-vites. But I do know that she wishes to remain on the e-vites and while she doesn't respond to any of them, she stalks the responses regularly (as the host, I can see when invitees view the invitation). I've learned over the years that people feel impolite if they ask to be removed from an e-vite, so I've taken to asking the loiterers about once a year, "Hey, are you still interested? I'm happy to leave you on the guest list, but I also don't want to continue to bother you if you're too busy to attend our events or commit to the group." This approach normally gives people an "easy out" and they usually respond with an "actually, since you brought it up, I AM busy and can't imagine that I'll ever make it, so you can take me off the list". As a stern "J" on the MBTI, I do love an organized and tidy guest list.

This woman though, remains a mystery to me. About a month ago, her response to my check-in email was to say "please leave me on the list" and THAT'S IT! Not, "sorry I haven't made it yet, but I'm looking forward to it at some point" or "hope to meet you soon". I think that she's been on the list for darn near a year now and she hasn't attended one meeting. She also never responds to the e-vites, but I can see that she checks them multiple times before the event. I think that she's stalking our club! And I don't consider a guest list for a group of only 15-20 people max an easy place to lurk without notice!

Because I have a hard time letting things go and can be a bit pertinacious, I insisted on having the last word. I responded to her "please leave me on the list" message with a "Great! I can't wait to meet you sometime soon!" note. We'll see if I've scared her off forever of if she ever reveals her identity and attends a meeting.

I hope that she's only stalking the e-vites and NOT my blog, or I will be thoroughly humiliated and will need to go into hiding immediately.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Most Heavenly Scent...

Check out my find of the day from Eastern Market...

Fresh lilacs - our apartment smells so divine!! One vase is a gift for my friend, who celebrates her birthday today, and the second vase is for moi. Peonies are my other favorite aromatic, spring flower and should be in bloom soon. Growing up on a farm has given me an incredible appreciation for plants, flowers, and all things green; our apartment and my office might as well be nurseries because they are filled to the brim with plants. Someday, when I have a yard of my own, I will fill it with flowers and plants, but until then, stay tuned for updates regarding my city-style garden. Spring planting time has arrived!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hill Visit Highlights

I had a grand time playing lobbyist yesterday. My team, which consisted of me and three men from Phi Kappa Psi (one collegian and two alumni), visited nine offices on Capitol Hill. Although I've grown smarter over the past three years of these visits and I brought a more comfortable pair of shoes with me to make the incredible amount of walking a bit more tolerable, I was wiped by the end of the day (and my feet are still sore today... I have no idea how women who work on the Hill manage all of the walking on the marble floors without killing their feet).

Yesterday contained a few notable highlights:
  • Because of the Phi Psi connection in my group, we actually met with two members of Congress who are Phi Psi alumni: Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), who I learned is very well known and is a potential VP candidate if Hillary receives the Democratic nomination and Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA). I shook hands with and spoke to both gentlemen. That doesn't happen everyday! We literally "hung out" with Congressman Dent in his office for nearly 30 minutes!
  • I enjoyed a tasty and free lunch at Tortilla Coast. I think that the men were just grateful that I offered an alternative venue to the Rayburn cafeteria and they were very sweet to treat me to lunch. I'm 4/4 as in terms of free lunches on these annual visits.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see and catch up with a friend/acquaintance from my doctoral program who moved away a year ago to work for her sorority's national headquarters. She traveled to DC for the lobbying visits and we were able to catch up over a drink last night at the Greek reception.
  • It was a beautiful day and I felt intellectually stimulated to be doing something different.

I will say though, that one day of lobbying per year is more than enough for me. I'll leave this job to my husband and others who really love politics and every nuance of Capitol Hill. It's my own fault, but I just don't keep up with politics as I should. The subject simply doesn't interest me. I earned Cs in both of my political science courses as an undergraduate (which horrifies Brad) because I was so bored that I slept through every lecture. I have no idea how I ended up married to someone who holds a true passion for politics and works in the field. I could never do it.

I think that I could, however, be an effective politician's wife. Now that is a job that I might enjoy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dr. Blondie, the Lobbyist

With all of my newfound free time post dissertation, I'm exploring yet one more career path. For the fourth year in a row, tomorrow I will join 400+ volunteers as we lobby Congress to sponsor and pass this bill, which basically allows 501(c)(3) educational foundations to use tax-deductible charitable contributions to make housing grants to local house corporations for the purpose of chapter housing improvements. Under the current law, I can make a tax-deductible donation to my alma mater and that money can be used to make structural improvements to residence halls (such as adding sprinkler systems). But my donation to the educational foundation or the house corporation of my sorority for the same purpose is NOT tax deductible. Considering that I lived in my sorority house much longer than I lived in a campus dorm, and the old, beautiful castle is always in need of repair, I'd MUCH rather help out my "sistahs" than the university. It's an issue of parity, really. (Have I convinced you yet?)

I am on a lobbying team with three Phi Kappa Psi men and we are visiting one Senate and eight House offices tomorrow. With any luck, the Phi Psis will treat me to lunch.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Race Recap

Brad and I awoke at 5 a.m. to the sound of rain pounding against our skylights this past Sunday morning before the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Luckily, by the time we left to walk to the metro, the rain had subsided to a drizzle/mist combo that was chilly, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. Waiting for the race to begin was fairly miserable; I was muddy, wet, and shivering in my running clothes. My shoes and socks were already drenched and squishy. But I will say that the new course made the race completely worthwhile. I think that I saw every single cherry tree in DC. Haines Point, usually considered a "no man's land" and detested by runners, included rows of cherry trees on both sides of the road for the entire three-mile segment. I love me some pink!

Brad and I are both satisfied with our times. I ran the race in 1:34:27 (9:27/mile pace) and Brad's time was 1:23:24 (8:21/mile pace). We saw each other on the course at two different "loop back" sections, and were even able to hit hands the second time we met! It rejuvenated me to see his beautiful red head (never mind that his hair clashed with the very pink surroundings)!

I do have one funny story that occurred during my last mile of the race, when it was windy and raining steadily. Keep in mind that 12,000 people run this race, so the course is crowded almost the entire way. You constantly dodge people and sometimes runners cut you off, but hey, it happens to everyone and it's never intentional. At the last water station, the runners right in front of me stopped abruptly for water. To avoid crashing into them, I darted about a foot to my left in attempt to squeeze by and keep running. Unintentionally, I cut off an old hag of a woman behind me. She then proceeded to chew me out about not giving her notice that I was going to dart around the people in front of me and how dare I cut her off! I responded by ignoring her and sprinting away, thinking that I'd show her; I'll just leave that old hag in my dust! Well, I sprinted for a little too long because I wore myself out and sure enough, she beat me to the finish line. And although she resembled an old hag, she was really just an older woman who has probably run outside in the elements for 25 years (thus contributing to her "weathered" look). Despite her appearance and snarky-like demeanor, she kicked my butt! I need to be more careful about who I cut off next time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Or maybe this one is more accurate lately...

I think that the CFO of New Balance should give the advertising department a raise; their new ad campaign is phenomenal!

I can really identify with this commercial this week. Brad and I have bailed on running each of the last three mornings!! He is really a bad influence on me.

This commercial says it all...

So true!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Blossom Bliss

The cherry trees have blossomed! Hurry, you must see them! Green leaves are already overtaking the pinkness of the cherry tree in our yard. The blush beauty fades rapidly during this season. I think that the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler this weekend will be devoid of blossoms, but I know that I'll still enjoy the race (after it's over, of course). They don't call it the runner's rite of spring for nothing.

I'm so glad that it's April. Farewell to wool coats, scarves, and black boots and hello to tulips, sandals, and bright green (and pink!) as far as the eye can see.