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Damn, Jonathan.

Dec. 27th, 2017 | 10:15 pm

Back at it with the window shopping.

First day back to work today was not very serious. I was set to get there around 10:45, but stopped for a burrito bowl on the way in, so let’s call it an 11 am arrival. Emails were responded to, not that I had all that many, and I made some tracker updates I’d been putting off. But I did not particularly need to be there. On the way home, I stopped into Papyrus to get heavily discounted Christmas cards, to finish my second batch tomorrow and then the rest to have for next year. Slowly I am turning into a well-oiled discount hunting machine.

There was more such discount shopping yesterday! With the weather being decent, Andrew and I agreed to pop into a few places on 14th Street. We met up and first went to Danielle’s apartment to drop off a bag she left in his car. While waiting and then walking around, he regaled me with the story of their Christmas, capped by getting a flat tire that resisted refilling and had to drive all the way back to DC stopping every few miles to check on it. Wouldn’t you know that Christmas Day is the hardest day to find any auto repair folks?

Anyhow, we started at Lululemon so he could exchange gifts for some more desirable stuff, then we went across the way to Room and Board to check out their after-Christmas sale with every other human in DC. The weather was nice, and we were admittedly enjoying a good sale so it was understandable. Lots of fun furniture, but we didn’t buy anything, just had a good conversation while moving from floor to floor browsing. In the end we just got coffee from Wydown and then I came home. But it was lovely and relaxed!

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Being Santa’s dutiful servant now that capitalist work requirements are done.

Dec. 20th, 2017 | 09:44 pm

Schnapps consumption is not optional in late December.

“Staycation” is kind of a lame term, but I am in fact starting a good and productive jag of time off work while staying in DC. Call that whatever you’d like!

Sunday was pretty lazy, but I did stop at the liquor store while driving B to work so he could buy the requisite coworker gifts. We went to the one on 11th Street that has angle parking along the side, and while he went in to shop I had the privilege of watching multiple people go in and out, also in a harried state and likely buying gifts and libations for holiday parties. It took a bit for the traffic to clear enough for us to even get out of there; bully for District Liquors on what is probably their busiest week of the year. On the way back from dropoff, I stopped at Harris Teeter for some survival groceries.

On Monday I’d committed to work from home but it was pretty nice. I opened the day at the Starbucks by my old internship, which is oddly shaped and thus had a perfect nook for me to hide in while taking calls, and I wrote a batch of Christmas cards during our staff meeting. Then I dropped those at the Post Office, got some lunch at Trader Joe’s, and grazed while on my check-in call with Manager. That was a tad depressing because this is supposed to be our “slow” season but the to-do lists are still unrealistically long, but whatever. Then I came home and did some followups, and was able to go to the gym around 4:45. Tuesday was my last day in the office until the 27th, for which I was magically there at 9*, and had Shake Shack lunch to celebrate the occasion.

Today was a bang up start to the time off! I was able to sleep in but still work out, then drop off my last library book before B and I went to Atlantic Plumbing to see The Last Jedi! I recommend 2 pm movies with beers. Sadly, when we were exactly 7 minutes into the movie the fire alarm went off and we were ushered outside, blinking at the sudden return to daylight. About 15 minutes later it was off and we got back to our seats to finish the movie. I liked it a whole bunch, and better than the last one as the characters got a chance to have more backstory and development (and I ship Frose). On the way out, a staff member was ready with free movie passes for each of us to apologize for the fire-alarm-but-no-fire. Good on them for that gesture.

We decided to head to DC9 to see what this “popup” bar situation was all about. Sheena was there and had a surprising amount of customers for 4:30 on a Wednesday, so I suppose it’s working. Basically, they were making fun of the bars earnestly doing this, but I’m not sure most people got the joke? So we had variations on vodka sodas for a while, and she was kind enough to serve me one forbidden bourbon, then we came home. Now we have Chinese food on the way, and I would pretty much call this a perfect day.

*My usual report time is 10. Thank you, East Coast dayjobbers, for normalizing that.

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How did I get through this December with only two holiday parties?

Dec. 16th, 2017 | 03:34 pm

By being antisocial, mostly.

Blake’s holiday party last night was a smashing good time! It’s also his last in that apartment (more on that below) so a bit of a bittersweet occasion. Based on his texts all week it sounded like the preparations were a bit behind schedule but he and Jack (and the housekeepers that actually cleaned in advance) pulled everything together, including the real Christmas tree that you can get mailed to you! The future is amazing.

His church runs a very good closet for homeless and recently housed folks to use, so instead of gifts he encouraged clothing donations to help them out. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to sort through my closets and drawers to find suitable stuff, but after work on Thursday I did manage to cull through and get a Target bag full of stuff.

I mostly talked to Joe, Jen, and Nasser while there, but cycled through much else of the crowd while I could. He got maybe 35 people in the apartment which felt very full especially with a tree in the living room and the second bedroom full of clothing donations. The snacks were ample and much appreciated since I came straight from the gym, too.

It’s hard to believe I have no other holiday parties with this one and the work party already done, but I’ll take it! Still need to finish up my shopping/wrapping and work Monday and Tuesday before I’m in the clear. And I should put up our own tree, even if it’s only staying up for a week.

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Last wedding of the year!

Dec. 11th, 2017 | 08:17 pm

Though I offer mad respect if you tell Santa to suck it and have your wedding in late December.

Elliott and Stu’s wedding was a smashing success! A very long day, as weddings tend to be, but worth it. B had arranged to take the day off well in advance, and we spent the morning ironing and obsessing over the right ties and accessories.

The couple of the moment, desperate to have a sip between thousands of photo requests.

The plan was to meet the group at Sara’s apartment at 12:10, then head over to the venue together. We Uber’d there and she was still out dropping off flowers and assorted other errands, so we stood outside on the sidewalk and got in the way of dog walkers while catching up. By the time she arrived, we had Brett, Jesse, Chris T., Patrick, and Kevin assembled. We caught up with Chris some on life in Orlando, then finally Sara arrived and we trooped inside to have mimosas and play with her new cat.

Finally we walked over to Darlington House, got drinks, and yakked with more of the assembled guests. The ceremony started basically on time and Drew was a super efficient officiant. That was only about a 25-minute ceremony and then we were able to enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres (note: mini-pizzas are as popular as you might think!).

Chris V., Stu, Sara, Kevin, and Patrick. Too much fun to capture in a still image!

It was lovely to catch up with everyone, notably Rich and his gorgeous J. Crew navy suit that I covet, and Chris V., who now travels frequently to northern Florida of all places for work. With that part of the day done but not yet time for the next, we fetched our coats and went to Larry’s for a couple of rounds while being the most overdressed of anyone in the Sunday crowd. Then it was back to Sara's place to change into marginally more comfortable garb; while turning on to her street, a car with a very flat front tire pulled over and Chris T. helped them change their tire in his tux! A very good person, he is. Eventually we made our way to Duplex for the afterparty, and got to talk to the grooms’ siblings some as well. Jesse got a giant burger and sat at the bar to eat it, a very appropriate muse for our levels of tired/hungry/calories don’t count on special occasion days.

We finally came home about 9, which felt much later after a day in formal shoes. Lots of weddings coming up in 2018, starting with Lajuan and Xavier on June 2! I may invest in a new suit for these, following the example of Rich.

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Guest visits of a NC nature.

Dec. 7th, 2017 | 06:47 pm

They always end with 3,000 extra calories.

Mario had been inquiring of B when would be a good time to visit and stay with us, as he has the free time of late. We finally settled on this week, because Thanksgiving madness was behind us and B’s days off are in the middle of the week anyway.

He arrived midday Monday and got settled while I was at work. As an aside, I managed to be early to work that morning even with a breakfast sammich stop at Au Bon Pain. Plus I made it to the gym by 6 and fit in a quick workout. Then I got home, change and dropped off my junk, then drove to AdMo for our planned dinner. Mario’s favorite DC restaurant was always Zenebech Injera, so we met there. One huge magic platter of food later, we were stuffed and I drove us home, then popped out quickly to get ginger ale for him. There isn’t a ton in Adams Morgan that I want to try, but that was on the short list so very glad that happened!

I had to be in the Suburbs Office on Tuesday, so another early morning and I spent the day mostly in meetings with scant time in between to be productive. Whatever, face time has value, at least for the people I saw there. I made it back home a little before 8, then B, Mario, and I promptly walked over to Da Hong Pao for dinner. It was much less crazy than our prior visit for brunch, and they still had some availability of dim sum upon request! We ordered an insane amount of stuff, ate extensively, and took home leftovers. During that I learned how they spent their day, primarily playing on Mario’s Switch (which we hooked up to our TV despite thinking we were out of ports) and visiting Eric’s bar at Logan for lunch. I would much rather have been doing those things than toiling in the suburbs, clearly.

Mario flew back to NC sometime during the next day, but I didn’t see him again as I was in the Suburbs once more. The occasion for that was the train-the-trainers portion of launching Year 2 of Big Project. Having been through this part of the pre-launch before, I felt a little more comfortable with what was going on but also a bit resigned to the fact that the next chapter would be rough. Unlike Year 1, users of Big Project will be in eleven of our offices so it’s hard to predict how troubleshooting will go with a handful of people each in all these remote places. At least they gave us free food for most of the training duration.

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Does Vanna have permanent tinnitus from the decades of DING!s?

Dec. 4th, 2017 | 09:33 pm

Or are the sound effects only added for TV? Deep thoughts.

The men’s locker room* here at LGay Fitness recently added a television at the far end, and there are speakers throughout to broadcast audio. I am not a fan of this feature.

Unlike in the office gym, there is no way to mute or lower the volume on the TV itself, even though it is within reach for me. So I just have to live with it. Most stuff can be easily tuned out, but the noise when letters come up on Wheel of Fortune is high enough to hear even from inside the sauna. I don’t know how I endured a whole childhood of having that on at 6:30 pm six days a week.

Other content is highly variable in the annoyance factor. Jeopardy!, the other weeknight staple, is actually kind of fun because you can tune in to try to mentally guess a handful of questions without knowing or caring how the contestants are doing overall. Local news is just as alarm-inducing and fake-objective as ever. Infomercials on Saturdays and old church dudes delivering sermons on Sundays are exactly as mind-numbing as ever.

Given the spotty maintenance record of the gym, I sorta hope it’ll just stop working at some point in the near future.

*I assume the same setup exists in the women’s locker room but cannot confirm.

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Retail holidays are for buying clothing worthy of being seen in public.

Nov. 25th, 2017 | 07:25 pm

And saving an arbitrary amount in the process.

After much excuse-making and procrastination, I finally went to Target around 3 pm today to stock up on pants.

The weather was fantastically warm and I didn’t even need my coat, making it a tad more justifiable to shake off the turkey coma and leave the house. First stop was to gas up the car, then I went to face my retail maker.

Target was crowded, as expected, but 1 of every 6 American workers was also on shift so everything went swimmingly. When have you ever seen three people staffing the fitting room area? Anyhow, I did find a pair of dark green jean-ish pants and a pair of chinos that will be ideal for work, so those were scores. Also picked up various other junk I needed, checked out, and got a 20% off coupon for the next visit. B had texted to ask for an Italian sandwich while I was there, so I piloted ably toward Bozelli’s which was of course closed. The internet magically steered me toward another comparable deli, I ordered two subs for a pittance, then I returned home. Pretty swell day off!

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I photographed every pie seconds before it was eaten.

Nov. 24th, 2017 | 03:28 pm

And have no idea what to do with all these pastry shots.

Thanksgiving was quite successful! There were even more people than I was anticipating, a crowd of about 30. But even with some nerves, Serg and Kelly managed it all and we had a fantastic day. I had successfully baked my two pumpkins pies the evening before, and managed to keep them on the counter to cool without knocking them over or otherwise destroying them. That allowed us to have a leisurely morning/early afternoon of quiet introvert time before the madness. And Zoolander was on! Bud picked us up in his gorgeous SUV, and we got there as planned at 3:15ish. Upon our arrival, the turkey had already come out of the oven and was resting but definitely needed more time. We jockeyed for oven space with the many other dishes that needed reheating, then talked Serg off the ledge about adhering to a strict 4 pm eat time and put the turkey back to actually finish!

When all was ready, we ate outside with Kat, Dawn, Jamie, and Jamie Jr. on the back patio picnic table, even though it was a little chilly. There was also a fire pit in the yard, which made for a nice rewarming spot. Overall we got much catching up/gossiping in, and even the kids stayed entertained on a looong day by doing the makeup of various adults present. We finally left after 10, laden with leftover stuffing and mac+cheese. This might have been the first ever occasion where we didn’t run out of those sides.

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"That makes it easy! You simply have two dinners."

Nov. 22nd, 2017 | 08:09 pm

Linus was always the problem solver.

It's done. College is paid off. This can be an expensive time of year, so I don't feel like a lot of these milestones happen between mid-November and the end of the year, but it worked out quite neatly this time.

This vacation week has been super laid back. Yesterday we did our needed grocery shopping in the early afternoon and got out of Giant with only minor scuffles. A very impatient woman in the baking aisle almost ran down B with her city cart, but no other issues. And by that point the inventory was still ample. After dropping the bags at home, we went to sit at Eric's bar at Logan Tavern for drinks, and I had an amazing salmon sandwich. This was also the crucial time where we coached Brett on how to get through the first Thanksgiving with her boyfriend's family, followed by moving next door to Stoney's for a drink with Amy. Then dinner at home was a ribeye, green beans, and French onion soup.

I successfully baked two pumpkin pies earlier today, and the can of Reddi Wip is already chilling in the fridge. B put most of the 20 pounds of potatoes we picked up to boil earlier, and prepped the garlic whipped cream to incorporate into them in the morning. Easiest Thanksgiving prep ever, and in keeping with this theme of a lazy week. I did a quick shoulder workout this morning and picked up my new hold from the library, too. At this rate I may be able to finish two more books after this one by the end of the year! I always enjoy accelerating my reading rate, especially given that my book lists together add up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 titles.

Currently watching a grad student kick total arse on Jeopardy! If she wins, she could probably pay off her own loans with the haul.

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We didn't get an autumn.

Nov. 18th, 2017 | 12:24 am

Down to two seasons in DC?

Unsurprisingly, getting New Manager up to speed and able to take over for me during my vacation was exhausting and trying but I did it. Now I'm free until 11/27!

On happier notes, I immediately transitioned out of work mode and into getting life back in order. Really excellent workouts every day this week except Tuesday, restocked our kitchen with the rest of the groceries that Shoppers didn't have today at Trader Joe's, and have gotten our Thanksgiving plans in order. We're going to Serg and Kelly's house, which you may recall from prior epic potlucks. Very much anticipating a good and food-filled event.

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