Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beer is a social lubricant.

Today my fancy think-tank company hosted an internal meet-'n-greet event for our new Military Fellows. For those of you not working (read: not completing indentured servitude, aka interning) at a think tank, a Fellow is like a guest scholar, someone who lends their skills and expertise at a particular subject for a particular period of time. Most of our Military Fellows work with our national security and defense programs.

Anyways, I got the email inviting everyone to the event. It happened to include that magical phrase, "interns invited," and I thought to myself, Why the heck not? I'm helping my boss out with some of his personal research projects, and they happen to focus on global security, so this meet-'n-greet might actually be pertinent. That, and I am always in slight awe of anyone in uniform -- one of our Fellows used to be the second-highest ranking military officer in all of the United States, so I thought it would be pretty cool to meet him. (I also at one point almost joined the military myself, and though I haven't gone far down that path I continue to hold enormous respect for those who serve.)

So at 4:30 I meandered down to the conference room. I stepped in, and this is what I saw: two small clusters of men, all older and very distinguished, all enmeshed in intelligent conversations about the military. Or rather, they were enmeshed in intelligent conversation, because when I walked in they all turned to stare at me. Still standing in the doorway. Very young. Very female. Very intern. 

I swallowed my embarrassment and tried to smoothly sweep in -- "Is this the meet-'n-greet for the new Military Fellows?"

"Yep!" someone answered and I awkwardly-trying-not-to-be-awkward moved toward that voice and joined that cluster. Ohmigosh, I panicked, what do I say? What does someone fresh out of college and fresh to the company talk about with someone who is a total military BOSS?! I was counting on a few buffer-people to gradually introduce me, I was not counting on jumping boldly into a "military memories moment"! I don't think the cluster quite knew what to do with me, either. There were a few awkward silences. I guess that's what happens when you break up the boys' club.

One of them finally moved to the table of hors d'oeuvres and beverages.  "I think it's time for a beer," he said, pulling a cold one from an ice bucket that I had definitely not noticed before.

My company is serving alcohol? Yes. I think it IS time for a beer.

As I made my beeline for the booze, the military guys joked (I think they were joking), "You are over 21, right?"

Yes. I am over 21. Dangit. And watch how fast I drink this.

Turns out, after we cracked the beer it wasn't so hard to chit-chat. (I hear that alcohol does that sometimes...) Turns out, the Military Fellows are new to my company too, so we're all just learnin the ropes and figuring things out. Turns out, after the beer was cracked a bunch more people showed up. (Still mostly guys, but at least they were interns too). And, turns out, I think I made some cool new friends. (A second beer helped. Is it wrong that I contemplated slipping a few spares into my bag?)

Thank you, beer. I knew I loved you.

Oh, PS: The event had a few bottles of wine too, but those remained untouched. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Something Strange Afoot

I recently went through one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Let me give you a hint.  Watch this video at time-stamp 6:04:

"I like feet. I do not know why."

Okay, so I was coming home late one night from salsa dancing.  A guy stopped me to ask for directions to the metro. I pointed him in the right direction, but as I turned to go, he stopped me again.

"This might sound weird," he said, "but would you mind if I took a picture of your feet?"


"Ummmm," I said, looking down at my toes, thinking he must be charmed by my lime green nail polish. (You see, I had been complimented on this polish numerous times by random strangers, one gentleman on a bus even appreciating how they matched my lime green raincoat – this gentleman then asked if I was Italian, and when I said no told me I was pretty anyways.)

The problem here, though, was that my nail polish was cracked and chipped, and I had dirt scuffs on the sides and tops of my feet from salsa dancing barefoot for several hours. I definitely lacked that "fresh shower" glow, shall we say. "Ummm, sure, I guess," I acquiesced, thinking he would take a quick snap of my toes and be on his merry way.

Not so. "Okay, now would you mind if I took a shot from the side?" he asked, crouching down to the sidewalk. "And would you actually mind picking up your foot? So I could get a picture of the bottom?"

I felt my eyebrows contract. "Like, you want a picture of the sole?"  Jeez, it sounds like a bad joke...Can I get a picture of your sole? (Get it? Sole, soul? Haha....I love stupid jokes. Sorry Sis, I know you hate them, but I threw that in just for you.)  Anyways. I was a bit flabbergasted at this point, but this guy didn't seem to notice.

"What we really need is a bench for you to sit on," he said, looking around. "Then I could get all the angles I need." In his search for a bench, he failed to notice the expression on my face. I'm sure it said something like, You went from nice stranger to random crazy-pants, so I think I need to leave now.

"Yeah no benches around here," I told him flatly, turning to leave. Unfortunately, the metro directions I gave him happened to be the same direction I was going, so we had to walk in tandem for a block or so. During that time frame, he spotted a concrete stoop. 

"Oh, look! Would you mind just sitting here for a sec so I can get a really good side shot?"


I took my sandals off and stretched out my feet. He asked for permission to move my toes into a more pleasing arrangement – "Some people get freaked out when I touch their feet, so I always ask first." So thoughtful, Crazy-Pants, I wonder why? 

(Honestly though, this guy was really nice. I didn't feel threatened in any way and we were in a really well-lit area with a few other people walking around. I did not feel in danger at any time.)

"Wow," he said, "your feet are really beautiful. I mean, REALLY beautiful. And they're so soft!! What do you do for them?"

"Um, nothing."  Truthfully. I have never had a manicure/pedicure in my life, and had been picking at my calluses only a few nights before. So I truly have no idea what he was talking about. But this guy was in raptures. I also couldn't help noticing that the photos he was taking were actually pretty poor shots, and as an avid photography lover and total know-it-all I was itching to give him some pointers, but there was no way under God's magnificent heavens that I was prolonging this strange event any further.

"Sorry, is this weird for you?" the guy asked as he moved to a different angle. No, I get accosted by strangers and put into impromptu foot photo shoots on random concrete steps all the time. Why would you ask such a silly question. Yes, I told him bluntly, this was VERY weird.

"Oh I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable!" I really wonder why he said that, because then he asked: "Would you mind if I stroked your feet for a moment?"

Yes I mind. 

"Well then could I kiss them really quick?"

Hell no. And I'll be leaving now. 

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable!" he repeated as I firmly pointed him in the opposite direction. Luckily, he didn't follow me home, and so I didn't have to ram my REALLY beautiful, super soft feminine dirty calloused feet-with-chipped-toenail-polish into his face.

Why do I attract the crazies? 

My feet. In all their beautiful glory. Except I'm wearing
canary yellow polish instead of lime green.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pardon the hiatus. Vacation.

I went home to Montana for a few weeks. And I gleefully did not even THINK about this blog. Well, that's not exactly true, I thought about in the sense of how much I loved not having to think about it. Does that make sense? Whatever.

Anywhooos...home was filled with family, water skiing, eating, hiking, horses, sailing, eating, basically all the things that make life wonderful. Allow me to make you jealous with the following pictures:
A view from within my favorite National park...Glacier

Saw this bear walking across and then along the road. So,
naturally, I snatched the camera out of my dad's hand
and leaned out the car window to get as close as possible.  

The Sis and I hiking a mountain near our house.
Not bragging here, it literally is a mtn. One of the
Rockies. Sadly dogs had to be leashed. It's a
National Parks thing.

Dad and I canoeing with the pooch. She hates cameras,
seems to think they're gonna suck out her soul or something,
but she was still for this shot.
Doesn't my home rock? I can't believe I'm out here living in this cramped metropolis when I could be back there. (And that, my friends, is the short version of the life-crisis I had upon returning to the me, you don't want details.)

Also, let me share a quick list of the things I saw in the middle of the road on my drive to the Montana airport at 3 am: One skunk (alive), two flirting deer (the buck was at least a 5x5 [that means his antlers had 5 points on each side, which made me hanker for a gun]), a coyote, a herd of at least 6 buck, ranging from spikes (look it up) to another 10 point (aka 5x5), a skunk (dead), and someone on a horse herding another horse in front of him with a dog trotting alongside.

Yeah. I love Montana.

Apparently, DC suffered through a hurricane and an earthquake while I was away. Darn. Missed 'em.