Sunday, December 29, 2013


It's alive. I'm alive.

While I was feeling burnt out on blogging, and thought I'd take a break for a few weeks, I really never intended to make that more like a break for 20ish weeks. But then life hit.

There was a high-profile, high-pressure project at work with insane deadlines and stress and responsibility. There was a promotion. There was work travel, home travel, and best-friend-getting-married travel. There was a day at the U.S. Open, a week at the beach with the family, then a weekend at the beach with co-workers. There were plays, concerts, and movies. There were crying and breakdowns. There was trying to go in the wrong apartment, using the wrong detergent in the washer, and twice locking myself out of the apartment. There was a broken iPhone screen. There were happy hours, happy hours, and happy hours. There were dinners and brunches with my friends and not-a-dates with some other friends. There was book club. There was nightclub dancing in Miami with my besties and then there was a perfect D.C. wedding.

There was a lot that happened and I'm barely scratching the surface.

I miss blogging and writing and being creative here.

Yet every time I open "Learning to Fly" I realize that title just doesn't describe who I am anymore. I'm not saying I'm not learning or that I'm not still trying to figure it out. I am. Oh I am. It's just not quite as scary, intimidating, and mysterious as it used to be. All of those words and the feelings that accompany them are what I associate with this blog and this title. It's what I was feeling when I started this blog at 22, when the mere idea of learning to fly terrified me to my core.

I turn a new (big) age in a few days. While it's completely freaking me out, I'm not terrified to my core. And while I'm not about to wax nostalgic about the past 8 years, I also can't just say good riddance. I'll just say I'm ok.. I'll just say that I'm starting a new blog, and a new daily blogging project, and you should come along.

(This blog will remain but will no longer be updated. The new blog has all of these posts imported. I like everything in its place.)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Wednesday Words

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image." 
-Joan Didion, "The White Album" 

I'm on a deadline at work that is consuming me so please forgive the lack of blogging. I have lots to say, but if it's not on intelligent compaction of pavement, I don't have the time or energy to say it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

I Know Where You Sleep At Night

Or, rather, now you know where I sleep.

Since I'd had the same comforter set since moving to D.C., five and a half years ago, I thought a new duvet and pillows warranted a blog post. Wrong? Oh well, here it is.

The duvet cover, duvet, plus new sheets are from Target. They were on sale last month and after checking them out in person at the store, I ordered them online. They're all from the Threshold line, as is my newish mattress pad that was a Christmas gift.

The duvet cover had to be mine as soon as I saw it. It reminded me so much of an Anthropologie one I loved but didn't want to splurge on. I even contemplated making my own, but wasn't ready to make the commitment. Enter Target.

I haven't had a duvet since my time in London, so I'm still getting used to it. I just toss and turn so much, I have to shake it down every night to keep it straight. Even though it came with corner ties. There's also the fact that I fought to put the duvet in the cover to begin with; I got lost inside 2.5 times. That might be something I should keep to myself.

I also added four new pillows, the two damask-esque ones from Etsy, the center blue one on clearance from Target, and the impossibly tiny monogrammed one from Etsy. Even though I measured before I ordered, 8x8 really is quite small. But it's cute and has a monogram so it's still kind of perfect.

I swear I've even been sleeping moderately better since getting new linens. I mean, I still don't sleep straight through the night and I still never want to get up in the morning, but it feels different.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cape cape cape

Last month my friend, Shana, held her annual birthday cape party bar crawl. This was the fifth time she’s held it and the second time I’ve attended.

Whenever I tell people I’m going to a cape party they are always perplexed. Which I don’t really understand. Who says only superheroes and children can wear capes? Why wouldn’t you want to gather a group of friends and day drink whilst wearing a cape?

It was so much fun. Even though I only made it for a few hours and 3 bars due to extreme exhaustion leftover from brother’s wedding festivities and travelling.

We started in the party room at Shana's apartment building for sandwiches, cupcakes, and drinks.

Then we walked to the first bar. Walking down the street, as a group, wearing capes, really should be experienced by every one at some point in life.

The first bar we attracted the attention of several kids, which is always fun.

Pit stop on the way to the second bar to pet the doggie. Such a good doggie.

At the second bar everyone engaged in some beer pong. I subbed in for a round and drank water.

The third bar was farther away so some raced and some, like those in high heels, ambled. As we got closer, one caper spotted a fellow caper dancing in the road, and skipped to join him. You just have to love it.

The third bar brought another drinking game which I was terrible at. Ping pong balls are just too light and too hard to aim.

The third bar is also where I became the Wearer of The Worst. Shana had buttons that we all put funny sayings and titles on and one was The Worst. Shana got it for buying a round of drinks, Christian got it for yawning, and I got it for being the last to walk in the bar.

My costume was one I had thought of in January: Superstorm Hurricane Sandy from Grease.

Sadly, pretty much no one got it without explanation. They thought I was a lego, a dice, or that I was just supporting equality. Which is ok, because I do support equality.

My hair was nuts to start and then feel steadily throughout the day, of course. Since it required me to sleep with my hair all pinned up, it also may have had something to do with my exhaustion.

I'm sad this is the last year Shana will be doing this, but have no doubt she'll have something equally if not more ridiculous and fun next year. As she said in her thank you email afterward, it's just so nice to have people in your life who will willingly and happily don capes for you. Friends are good like that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Things I Learned This (Long) Weekend

Dante was foreshadowing the Crystal City underground when he wrote "The Divine Comedy."
Because Crystal City is a circle of hell. There were many metro delays on Friday evening that had me stuck on a train for about an hour at the CC station. I finally gave up and thought I'd find a bus. Wrong! I wandered around the impossible underground maze of stores, which were eerily devoid of shoppers and owners, for a half hour. On my third trip outside to find a bus, I instead found a cab. Best $25 I've ever spent.

If you love fruit dip and have no self control you shouldn't make fruit dip.
Especially when you're the only one around. But that damn fluff/cream cheese/vanilla mixture is just heaven on strawberries. And a fork.

They really mean "rummage" at a Rummage Sale.
A church at the end of my block had a rummage sale on Saturday, my first rummage! And they really mean rummage. They had tons of clothes in heaps on tarps. I skipped them at first, heading for books and housewares, where I picked up 4 books, a "Votes for Women" packet, a basket, a divided tray, and a solid tray. I then meandered back to the clothes and after spying some nautical flag napkins -- I'm kind of obsessed with nautical flags -- decided to jump in to the heap and dig. (I didn't actually jump, but there was digging.) I found 1 hat, 2 skirts, 1 dress, 1 pair of pants, 2 J Crew wool sweaters, 1 Old Navy sweater vest, and a child's Vineyard Vines polo dress I thought I could wear as a dress. (See more on that below.) What was the grand total for all of this? A whopping $16! (Actually $20 because I donated the change. It's a church!)

I have a big head.
Or at least a head that's too big for a child's dress. I gave it to my co-worker for his daughter. At least it was only a $1.

A sewing machine and a little patience can lead to a new wardrobe.
Or what feels like a new wardrobe. On Saturday I took in six skirts! Two were from the rummage sale and four were from my closet that I've been making fit with safety pins for the last two summers. It was alarmingly easy to take them all in and I'm so happy to have six new (to me) skirts in my repertoire.

The inside of an iron with a retractable cord is a mess.
I dropped my iron for the 100th time, but this time from a distance of about 3 feet on to hardwood floor. The iron still works, but the cord can no longer be stored neatly within.

The Jonathan Adler store is pretty.
And expensive. His store opened in Georgetown in the fall but this was my first visit. I only took one picture, as inspiration for what I can put under my own new (to me) cloche. But the entire store was lovely and modern and bright.

You know you're in for an interesting show when you have to take off your shoes and wear these.
This is B and I before a dance performance at the Kennedy Center. We knew ahead of time we would have to remove our shoes, stand for 45 minutes, and there would be nudity. Wowza was it a show. (See more on that below.)

Some people play fast and loose with the word "art."
I won't get too specific out of respect of the "dancers," but we saw what was billed as a dance show. We walked in to a long, white room with various large squares on the floor. Some squares had plastic cubes, some had piles of paint, two had a disgusting amount of fake, dark hair, and most squares had a person, wearing only flesh-colored undies. Yep. For 45 minutes the crowd walked around and amongst the squares, watching the performers dance, move cubes, freeze, and eventually roll in the paint. (And the hair, which was awful.) It was different, to be sure, but at least we have a good story to tell.

I seriously love a weekend trip to pool.
As I blogged repeatedly last summer, I'm sure I'll be blogging the same this summer in terms of trips to apartment pool. I just love it so. And this year they have new chairs that can lay completely flat! Hello, easy reading on my stomach.

I seriously love a weekend trip to the pool...even if my knees look like a "weird butt."
Or so says an FB friend after I briefly posted this photo. Umm, pretty sure everyone knows those are my knees, and not my butt.

Too much foot soak + electronic foot bath = bubble madness
I made three trips to the kitchen sink with a handful of bubbles before giving up. I bought the bath on crazy sale on Sunday, thinking it would be great for use with all my assorted foot products. I'm hoping it was just user error or else this thing will be going back.

Wednesday Words

"I see the creative process as a necessarily thievish undertaking. Dig beneath a beautiful piece of writing, Monsuier Boustouler, and you will find all manner of dishonor. Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly."
-Khaled Hosseini, "And the Mountains Echoed"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Be nice to the jury

I just finished watching the jury in the Jodi Arias trial deliver their "verdict" of no verdict for the penalty phase. I've mentioned before that I've been obsessed with this case since a month after it started, stalking every day for their live blog, evidence photos, theories, and overly dramatic commentary.

This jury has been on the case since the first week of January. They deliberated once to determine guilt, deliberated again to determine if she was unduly cruel, and then deliberated yet again to determine the penalty. They've been away from their jobs for nearly 6 months and have been unable to discuss what they've been living and breathing. Now, to many, their lack of resolution makes it all a waste.

Of course, I'm watching the HLN circus of histrionics so maybe that's not the case everywhere. But I feel compelled to write anyway.

I served on a jury that couldn't reach a verdict back in October. I never discussed it because it was truly one of the worst weeks of my life. It was a relatively minor case, no one died, no one was even injured, but it taught me so much about both our justice system and human nature. I am in no way comparing my little experience to the severity of Arias' case, the media coverage, or the repercussions. Just this: Be nice to the jury.

The defendant in my case was charged with possession of a gun that wasn't registered, that he wasn't supposed to have as a violation of parole, and one other charge I can't remember. He was seen running from the cops, trying to pull something out of his pocket, and a gun was found in his path. The trial lasted about 2.5 days and we deliberated for the same.

The last time I sat on a jury in D.C., I was the alternate and didn't have to deliberate. This time, I knew the chances of being alternate were slimmer, and I was terrified the entire trial about deliberating. I'm a reasonable person with great respect for our system of government, but I didn't know if I could convict someone. I also didn't want to let a guilty person go free.

I was leaning the entire trial toward not guilty. There wasn't enough evidence. There was some variation in testimony, though minor in my opinion. I did not like the defense attorney, but I couldn't let that influence my decision. When we took the first vote in the jury room, I knew he was guilty. I had doubts, but they weren't beyond reason. Reason didn't really get much play in our jury room, however.

We had jurors who didn't understand the basics of government and the legislative process. "The police shouldn't have charged him with this." (Police don't bring charges.)

One juror "had problems with D.C. cops going back to the '70s." (Good thing we weren't asked during voir dire if we had bias toward law enforcement and a good thing 4 of them didn't testify during the tiral. Oh wait, both of those things happened!)

We would all agree to ignore the testimony of an untrustworthy witness, only to have someone bring it up to support their vote.

Those who voted guilty argued for non-guilty so we could see it from the other side; the non-guilty voters refused to even pretend.

We had jurors blatantly ignore the juror instructions:
  • We were told to only consider evidence presented. Jurors drew elaborate diagrams and concocted alternate theories that even the defense didn't posit.
  • We had strict guidelines for the charges, aka the law. "Well, I don't think possession of a gun should be a crime." (Well, guess what, it is!)
  • We were told not to consider sentencing in our decision, that would be left to the judge. Jurors would constantly bring up the corrupt prison system in their refusal to convict. 
  • We had a clear definition of reasonable doubt. "I just refuse to convict without being 100% sure." (Then you shouldn't be here!)

One witness testified he was the distance from the bench to the courtroom door away from the defendant on the night in question. One juror challenged the measurement given in the courtroom, by the judge. I literally threw my hands up.  Once you start doubting rulers, there's really nothing that can be done.

In the end I believe we were 8 and 4. And worst of all, in my opinion, we were divided by race.

One of the days I sat on the steps outside a downtown hotel, called my mom, and sobbed. I was stressed from missing work, angry at the incompetency and intransigence of my "peers," and disappointed in the system I always believed in. I cried because I know the next time I'm called, I will have a lot to say during voir dire about my thoughts on the criminal justice system, on the jury system, on lawyers, on human beings.

Maybe you think I'm too dramatic, maybe you're rolling your eyes, but that's ok. As realistic-bordering-on-pessimistic as I often am, I still have a fair amount of idealism on certain topics, and it hurts a bit when it gets washed away.

After the trial ended, I looked the defendant up in the court system. He was currently in prison for another crime and has been in and out of prison on a variety of crimes for almost 10 years. He was charged with the exact same set of charges 2 years ago.

Be nice to the jury. It's not an easy job.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Words

"It would just make my heart soar if someone out there saw this, and she said to herself, 'Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself, conquer your fears, just go after what you want. And act fact, because life just isn't that long.'

There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things.
Isn't that kind of the point? "

-Pam Beasley Halpert, "The Office" series finale

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shoppping With Mom

I was so very excited to have my Mom up this past weekend. It's been awhile since we've had a weekend in DC together and it was great. Things haven't been too stressful lately, but they're certainly not perfect, and it's always good to have my Mama here.

The main point of trip was to hit the Luckett's Spring Market. Luckett's is a popular antique store in Leesburg that Mom has read about a lot. For their Spring Market, vendors cover the grounds, selling their vintage, modern, and re-made fares.

I have a dream of making a couch out of a clawfoot bathtub like Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and this just fueled that dream.

There were a lot of great vintage offerings, and a number of items that were already revitalized and re-purposed. Since Mom and I like the fun challenge of doing that ourselves, we weren't quite as blown away as we thought, but it was still nice.

And, of course, we each walked away with a few things. Mom bought a great hutch to put on the screen porch, and I got the following.

Old Pepsi crate, basket that used to pick up golf balls, tin watering can, and a stamp holder with stamps. If only my name were "Barbara H. Taylor," I'd have my own signature stamp.

They really did have a little bit of everything, from old hen houses to a GIANT corkscrew.

Even though it rained a bit, and we should have brought a rolling cart for our wares, it was a productive day that we hope to repeat in the future.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Words

Scene: A small group of us were leaving the office to get yogurt
Background: At a group lunch the day before, I had knocked over a water glass

Co-worker 1: Be careful, Bonnie!
Co-worker 2: Why?
Co-worker 3: It's really just best practice to always say that to Bonnie.


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