100 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 7

I HATE flying in the middle seat. HATE, HATE, HATE. So I was horrified when I discovered that the only remaining seat on the first leg of my trip to COS via IAH would be in a middle seat!

I’ll be completely honest here. My hatred for the middle seat is absolute snobbery. I think I’m better than being squeezed between two strangers in a pressurized flying aluminum tube. It’s an inconvenience to have to ask others to move when I have to go tinkle. With all the time I’ve spent in the air as a seasoned traveller, I somehow think I’m entitled to have my choice of seating, which is always an aisle seat.

So back to today. I was dreading the flight. First world problems, I know. As I approached my row, I began to get needlessly upset about the mere three hours during which I’d be subjected the MOST HORRIBLE THING EVAR. But to my surprise, when I did finally reach my row, the gentleman in the aisle seat asked me if it was ok to switch seats so he could sit next to his wife in the window seat.

HALLELUJAH.

What an unexpected gift. Thank you. Thank you.

Friends are Never Long Lost

During last night’s pre-wedding BBQ, I had a wonderful surprise when I found out that a former coworker and friend who now lives in Japan was also in Monterey for another wedding. Holla.

N and I were stationed together in Korea and Maryland, where our lives of partying and exploring were occasionally punctuated with keeping a metaphorical eye on the Axis of Evil. So we met up for breakfast at Rosine’s to pig out and catch up. (I must apologize first and foremost to myself for taking a picture of the food…) Of course, a lot happens in four years – different job, location, expanded waistlines, marriage, etc. – but our old career field is a very small one, so you get to know people quite quickly. It’s always great to hear your friends are being blessed in different areas of their lives.

After breakfast, I headed to the bride’s bungalow, where the families would be gathered to prep the food and supplies for the main event of the day: seafood boil on the Pacific beach. The mothers graciously paid for all the food, a serious help for the couple. What a joy seeing the mothers in the kitchen together, cutting, cooking, and forming new bonds as new family.

The mothers made ceviche, among other things.

The mothers made ceviche, among other things.

Me? I slept. Well, that’s not all I did. I also lounged on the enormous circular spinning Tiffany-blue sofa while watching trashy reality shows on Bravo. Bravo, never ever tune in because you’ll lose four hours of your life and four pounds of brain matter. It felt good, not doing anything while on vacation. A true vacation.

The seafood boil was a success. Nested in a nook on the beach with Pebble Beach in the background, we set up a table with more delicious food than a party of two dozen could possibly hope to eat. It took two tries to get the fire going for one of the two huge pots – the groom is very allergic to scallops – but after that, it was on to a night of eating, drinking, and making new friends around two bonfires by the sea. Perfect? Close.

One of the seafood boil pots over a roaring beach bonfire

One of the seafood boil pots over a roaring beach bonfire

I have to say that seeing the bride’s father play with his 10 year old grandson really warmed my heart. The bride’s sister is a single mom. I don’t know what kind of father figure he’s got back home; I never really thought to ask that during our conversations. Anyway, it was something else, seesawing between tender affection and firm yet gentle corrections, delight never leaving the patriarch’s eyes as he addressed his grandson. Playful, too. I wondered if that’s how God interacts with us. Anyway, the entire family and the entire KS friend-family are very affectionate, showering each other with kisses and never-ending I-love-yous. It’s something I’ve never experienced in my own life, and I couldn’t help feel a twinge of envy even though I was also one of the objects of affection smothering. How delightful it must be to have close friends to share a deep history together.

BWI-PHX-SJC

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Monterey deck BBQ to meet and greet all the wedding guests

The travel day did not get off to a great start. We had called for a cab for a 5:15 pickup, but the appointed time came and went, and…nothing. C calls the cab company and was told that he wasn’t coming. Too far. UGH. The rest of the travel went smoothly, however, and we arrived early at SJC.

The first thing I do in Cali? In-N-Out, of course! Definitely dangerous.

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Single cheeseburger, animal style, with animal fries

Its definitely amazing how with some friends you can pick up right where you left off. It’s unfortunate that when J was stationed in the area, I only got to see her 3 or 4 times. It was mostly my fault; I had a crazy work schedule. Seeing her little bungalow in Pacific Grove eclectically yet expertly decorate with mementos of her travels, some of which I had the pleasure to be a part of, definitely brought back memories. I realized how much I had missed her.

It was also a real pleasure to meet all her friends from home, an a special pleasure to meet her parents. I’ve heard so mic about them that I felt I already knew most of them. But this is what gives life it’s flavor, right? Friends gathering together to celebrate each other and the blessings we’ve been given.

100 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6 – A Day of Firsts

So it seems I’ve really let this “100 days of thanksgiving” go by the wayside. There are many reasons for that – too many to really delve into for now – and I’ll explore those more fully later on.

Living in the DC area is really great. So much diversity, variety, and history. I’ve lived in the area for four years now, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done nearly nothing to explore it. Cherry Blossom festival in 2010 (?), a Capitol tour in 2013, making snowman at the Mall in spring of 2014…wow I’m REALLY struggling to complete this list.

Anyway, I took the time after a long day of work – a local mission – to walk a little bit of the Custis/Mount Vernon Trails for the FIRST TIME. I thought about just walking the neighborhood to get some steps in – after all, I did sit most of the day – but decided the last minute that I’d take the Metro to Rosslyn and take the trails.

Seeing the traffic, buildings, the Potomac, etc., from a street perspective is always a bit jarring, a massive changeup from the windshield view I get on most days. You feel so much smaller, more vulnerable, and your senses are overloaded with cars whizzing by just over the curb. Runners and cyclists pass by with nary a stare at your direction, all so absorbed in the task at hand: burn calories. The smell of exhaust fumes do tickle your nose a bit; I bet it was so much worse a few decades ago.

Back to the trails. I’ve driven by the Roosevelt Island parking lot hundreds of times by now. This is the first time I actually reached it by any means of transport. The entrance to the trail is at the intersection of N Lynn St and the westbound exit ramp of  I-66. It’ll take you over the GW Parkway via a pedestrian bridge to the aforementioned parking lot, and from there you can take another bridge to Roosevelt Island.

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Georgetown and the Key Bridge from the Roosevelt Island pedestrian bridge.

This was my first time on Roosevelt Island. I didn’t go all the way around the small island. I saw a fork in the road and took it (har har). Actually, the one that led to the interior of the Island took me to the Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial, something I didn’t know existed. Out you come into a wide clearing that is dominated by a bronze statue of our Nation’s 26th prez and four huge stone monoliths with some of his quotes.

Teddy Roosevelt recognized me even from a distance.

Teddy Roosevelt recognized me even from a distance.

I’m ashamed to say that I knew none of them. Two large hemispherical fountains – bowls, really – flanked the statue, but they weren’t operational today. NHS cost-saving measures, maybe? Anyway, the Monument was an unexpected oasis in the midst of an urban jungle, its tranquility broken in only by my mental projection of operating water fountains and the jetliners crossing overhead on their way to DCA.

Teddy waved to the airplanes as well.

Teddy waved to the airplanes as well.

Rosslyn skyline at dusk.

Rosslyn skyline at dusk.

Fading sunlight and a growling stomached turned my focus back to my journey back to the urban jungle of Rosslyn. I took the route back to the Metro stop, boarded a moderately crowded rush hour train (Silver Line what!), and returned home. Well, almost. As the natural-gas cauldron of the ATR came into view, I realized to my horror that I had left my keys home. Roommate gone. Hungry. Oops. At least I had my wallet.

I grabbed a slice and a plastic bottle of Perrier. Then I walked over to the B&N to wait out the storm (lockout) until my knight in a silver Saturn (roommate) could come rescue me. Meanwhile, I picked up a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath, and FLEW through about 60 pages in about an hour. Very interesting book…will pick up a digital copy soon. Found out a very interesting speculation about Goaliath’s imposing physical state, but I’ll roll that into another post soon.

100 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

Public Transit

DC Metro at Reagan National Airport

DC Metro at Reagan National Airport

I live in an amazing location by our nation’s capital. I had to take my car into service today. In most American towns, that would mean arranging alternate transportation to work – friends, family, rental, etc. – or taking a day off from work. Me? I just had to hop on the subway.

100 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 4

Headed to the shore tonight for a long weekend with a couple of brothers. Looking forward to several days of relaxing, eating, sunbathing, conversations, laughter, etc. I’m thankful for the road infrastructure we have here in the U.S. and the automobile that allow for quick getaways when I need them.

100 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 3

A renewed desire and drive for physical fitness.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have fromGod, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

The verse above is first and foremost in the context of sexual purity. However, I think it can be applied to the totality of one’s physical existence here on this side of Heaven. As I live through the first years of the fourth decade (!) of my life, I’m thankful for friends and coworkers who’ve started a journey together towards greater stewardship of the one body we received.