Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good Reads = Of my love be sure

I really want to make a point to remember our time in DC and Michael being in med school, both the big things and the little things. Something little is that before turning off the lights at night, I have been reading Harry Potter in bed while Michael is beside me reading Gray's Anatomy. This scene has more or less been a constant for us the last couple of months. I laughed when I realized what was happening and begged Michael to get out of bed to get the camera a few days ago. We did take a picture, but instead of posting it here, I put up this wonderful postcard that I found at a consignment store the other day. Sigh. I wish I spoke French.

All fall and winter, I have been re-reading my beloved Harry Potter, but also interspersing it with other reads along the way. The best interruption, by far, has been Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. My dear friend Molly gave it to me for my birthday in December. I read it along with another book (that was so disappointing that I won't even bother to mention it) while at the beach over Christmas. Unbroken is the unbelievable, true story of Louie Zamperini's survival after his plane crashed in the Pacific during WWII. The story is uplifting, moving, heartbreaking, and redemptive. Read it!

Michael and I walked to Kramer Books a few weekends ago and I wrote down a couple of novels I'd like to read once I get through the growing pile I already have at home. They are:

Every man dies alone - hans fallada.
New york: the novel - edward rutherford.
Once a runner - john l. parker.

Every Man Dies Alone, based on a true events, is the story of a couple in Nazi Berlin who resist Hitler in their own small way. New York: The Novel is a grand and sweeping history of New York City. Once a Runner is apparently the greatest novel ever written about distant running. I don't claim to be a distant runner, but I can run when I want to. I read Born to Run last year and LOVED it. It changed how I think about running, motivated me to not walk even when sorely tempted, and I'm still thinking about running barefoot every now and then (on a track, not down the street. That would be stupid... yet people do that too.)

I am half-amused and half-ashamed to admit it, and I know I am wayyyy behind the times, but I recently acquired the Hunger Games series. I read the first book on Sunday. These weird, implausible, sucks-you-in-and-your-hooked romances are so darn good.  Just like Twilight, The Hunger Games portrays two lovable boys who are after the heart of one girl. But unlike Twilight, this series actually has a plot.  I just started the second book.  I'm on team Peeta, all the way. Can't wait for the movie!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

District Sightings

There's no use in hiding it so I won't.

I get star struck.

Big time.

All wide eyed and excited and oooo play it cool, play it cool! Yea but no, more like play it go crazy. I go crazy anytime I see someone remotely, even a teentsy bit famous, well-known, or even just recognizable. I can't really figure out why. I love who I am (not that there aren't some parts of my character that will always need major development) and am happy being more or less pedestrian, so it isn't like an envy thing. It is just plain syndrome of the star struck.

When How Do You Know (not worth seeing) was being filmed in DC in 2009, I literally jetted out of work and power-walked ran in heels to Dupont Circle to try to spot a glimpse of Jack Nicholson coming out of his trailer. No luck. Darn. Dejected. The only thing I came home with was blisters.

It goes without saying that DC is a little bit different with its famous folk. There certainly are movie stars and Beyonce types walking around, but it's mostly on the Hill where they go to lobby or support a bill being passed. But the other category of celebritydom that people actually notice here in DC (probably a lot of people elsewhere don't know what 99% of them look like) is the politicians. My personal favorite is seeing politicians go shopping at the grocery store. One time in the Foggy Bottom Trader Joes, I saw Senator Joe Lieberman buying broccoli. Just a few weeks ago at the Georgetown Safeway, Janet Napolitano was eyeing the hummus. I wouldn't have noticed except that Michael and I saw her security people combing the store, ear pieces and all. Michael thought it was the coolest thing too...it's not just me!

Just this morning, I was jogging up Mass Ave. past the VP's house, when a motorcade of those motorcycles with the little sidecar attached started driving by. I was in rough shape at the moment because that particular part of the run is on a pretty decent incline, but as soon as I saw the motorcade start to pass by, I straightened up and ran like it ain't no thing. (Running these days is few and far between so the fact that I was even moving my body was good enough for me.) A few minutes later, I saw Joe Biden go by as he drank coffee in the backseat of his limousine.

Also, true fact, which honestly isn't a big deal because if you live in DC it's bound to happen at least once, but I've run into every member of the first family. Seeing Obama himself was a bit indirect: I used to work on Pennsylvania Ave. a block from the White House, so his motorcade drivebys were an every day occurrence.

But the very best was when my beloved friends Avery and Allie came in town for the 4th of July two summers ago. We had just dropped Allie off at the Bolt Bus to go back to NYC, and we were meandering around Georgetown until Avery had to fly out herself. Naturally, where do we go? Thomas Sweets, the iconic, overpriced-but-worth-it fudgery/ice-cream shop of Northwest DC. I remember very clearly what we were discussing while eating our ice-cream: boys (Michael had just entered my life), and art. There was a huge man sitting at the table next to us, which in retrospect was odd, but we paid him little attention as we continued talking. Five minutes later, four Escalades parked right outside and out popped... Michelle, her mom, and the wee Obama daughters.

No way. So cool. Play it cool, play it cool! Avery and I thought it was the coolest thing. And I did covertly obviously take some pictures. We continued eating our ice cream while Michelle sat at the table next to us. I sought the advice of three friends on whether or not I should actually post the pictures. One said go for it but two said not to. Sigh.

What I think is the funniest thing is that it turns out that the huge guy who had been sitting at the table beside us was actually with the Secret Service. I can only imagine that he said something like "Coast is clear, Mitch. Coast is waaaaaay clear" as he overheard Avery and I talking about love and the MoMA.

So, I get star struck. I love seeing famous people. In DC, it can sometimes be rather dull because the famous people are politicians, but I was still glad to eat ice-cream with the first lady. DC friends, puhleeeease always tell me if you see a celeb walking about town, especially you, Abianne. Abianne has a knack for it, aided by the fact that she works at the Georgetown LuLu Lemon. I told my brother that if he makes it big and goes to the Oscars, I better be his date. It's my thank you for all those years of rehearsing lines with him: To be of not to be that is the question...whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles... 

Come visit!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday mellow

This Will Destroy You - They move on tracks of never-ending light
Every day at 4pm I eat my apple while driving home. Yesterday my nails happened to be a perfect match. My fingers look like they are 70-years old. Lotion much? Today is a quiet day. "We are just waiting for news. But all of us are always waiting...right?"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Walnuts and Smiles

Some observations --

1) Jeep Cherokees run better on a full tank of gas.
2) Muffin tops bake well at 325 degrees for 13-14 minutes.
3) Little children love big trucks. They stare and point and everything stops when one rumbles by.
4) N'Sync's acapella version of "Oh Holy Night" is not good.
5) Calling a friend while driving past Reagan Airport will almost inevitably result in a dropped call.
6) Shelling a walnut with your bear fingers will undoubtedly result in puke brown stains under your nails for weeks.*
7) Pedestrians do funny things to make themselves look nonchalant while crossing the street in front of a line of cars.
8) People look weird when they give you their "mad face" if you accidentally cut them off in traffic. It's probably best just to smile.**
9) You actually get tanner when you wear sunscreen. Go figure.

*We have a walnut tree in front of our home. From October to mid December, the walnuts drop. Sounds like bombs. Non-stop. It's best when it's windy out. You seriously begin to think that the tree is mass producing walnuts: as quickly as they fall, the tree recreates just as many to fall again with even more ooomph. One day, upon arriving home from work, two kind-faced, Asian people were filling their plastic grocery bags with walnuts. "So you can really eat them??" I felt shy. I should have pondered aloud, but these two sojourners were serious about their walnuts and I didn't want to interfere. I did feel a bit awkward (torpe en espanol, FYI....Michael and I practiced Spanish this weekend) when I had to literally jingle my keys, kind of like in the movie Hitch when you learn to jingle your keys as a means of stalling outside your door to get that kiss, except in this case I was jingling my keys so that I could actually reach my door in the first place. The collectors seemed to have hit the jackpot right in front of our house - I guess I was invisible to them. Anyway, after making it inside and depositing my purse and briefcase Longchamp totally girly bookbag, I got the inspired idea to crack open one of the walnut shells myself and go for the gold.

Human Error #1 - presuming I can do things sans proper equipment.
Human Error #2 - realizing that it's trickier than one may think to get into an unshelled walnut, yet not stopping my pursuit.
Human Error #3 - deciding not to immediately wash my hands after the walnut oozed browny-yellowy pukey colored dye all over my fingers because I wanted to show my hubby the results of my attempt at being adventurously curious.

Pride goeth before the fall.

Brown puke stains under my nails for weeks.

**My brother taught me this trick way back in high school. He had the car, and I was his charge. His one duty: to deliver me in one piece and ON TIME to school every morning. The one hitch was that Chris had chronic trouble doing anything at all in the morning, let alone being on time to drop his little sister off at school. The result? Chris would gun his massive Tahoe down Hanover to Preston Road, cutting off anyone in his way. Everyone got so mad. The maddest were the moms driving carpool. They would give him seriously the most evil "I can't believe you did that, you don't deserve to have your license, where is your mother, who taught you to drive, I curse you" look in the book. And what would Chris do? He would roll down his window, flash a nice smile, and wave. Ohhh I would laugh so hard. I would try my hardest to be mad like the moms and try to reinforce the point that we should leave for school earlier than we do, but I could never hold it in. Oh I would laugh so hard.

This seems to be the only picture of the trusty green Tahoe I can find. This was taken before we plunged into Death Valley, California while driving home to Texas after Chris graduated from college.

By the way, this is the song that was probably playing 9 times out of 10 when Chris drove me to school every morning. Throwback to my-brother-loves-punk-so-I-do-too stage. Love. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Split Pea Soup Week

Looks like throw-up.....
But tastes like Split Pea and Ham Soup!
I can't figure out how to get this recipe upright. And disregard all the cross-outs. I followed the recipe 100% except I used real celery instead of celery salt. Oh and what is ham stock base? I did not do that. Oh and I didn't use the "meaty ham bone" either; I just used some leftover Thanksgiving ham that we had in our freezer. Ohhhhh stop rolling your eyes - it isn't gross. Meat freezes well. Oh and I used 6 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Mmmm so maybe I didn't follow the recipe at all. Did you know you can write so much in a caption?? Will wonders never cease. Recipe courtesy of Barbie Ryan. 

Get in my belly. Happy cloudy week in January. We bought not one, but two bags of split peas from the store yesterday. This means that I will make another batch of soup on Friday. One can never have too much split-pea soup. High in fiber, low in fat - I bet you didn't know that!

In other news, what else to do on a cloudy, cold week in January except go to the cinema. This week, I am attending a sneaky peak of Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseI have watched the trailer a few times now, and I cry every time. Not just get teary; I mean cry. Crying is really a new thing for me. The one movie that has always made me cry is Steel Magnolias, but honestly that was about it. Well, steel tower, no more; I am a soggy mess. I cried at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the second time I read it. I cried throughout each book while reading the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I cried the last time I watched Notting Hill (I have seen this movie at least 7 times) when Anna Scott says "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." Oh man, that scene. Gets my throat tight just thinking about it.

I honestly think it was the process of falling in love and being married that has turned me into a crier. Gosh, that makes it sound like I have married a monster. Not so! Michael is the most loving man I have ever known. And it is because of such love that I am what I now am.

So, with all this crying, I've got no choice but to share something that Grandma Catalino gave me last year. I am pretty sure that if you stick with these things, you're going to be just fine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Tops

This past year was a big one. So much love. I feel very blessed to have married my wonderful husband, as well as having celebrated several other weddings, gotten some good time with our families, and even welcomed a new baby into this world! Here are some of my top moments of 2011:

1) February 6, 2011 - Michael asked, I said yes!
2) July 2, 2011 - We got married!
3) Honeymoon. Love.  
4) Kathleen's wedding
5) Carrie and Bo got hitched, and we ran a race on their wedding day :)
6) Molly White + Lee J. Webb!
7) Jenn + Hall = love.
8) Thanksgiving with the Catalinos
9) Claire and Billy had a baby girl! Gwennan Magnolia Jones, born November 26, 2011. Claire is my first good friend to have a baby and the very idea of it has blown my socks off. Now that I'm more used to it, I am ready for my own little love nugget. Just kidding. Scary thought - right, Gwennan?
10) Wanda (the cutest little person ever) and Grant (Michael's younger brother) got engaged!
11) Christmas with the Ryans
12) New Years in the hills of Virginia with my main squeeze....
And here's for this new year: "You will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace." Let it be. Let it be.