Into The Woods

Tim endured SIX layovers when going home from my wedding in Amsterdam, so there was no way I would miss his nuptials, no matter where it happened.
Tim endured SIX layovers when going home from my wedding in Amsterdam, so there was no way I would miss his nuptials, no matter where it happened.

Went into the Santa Cruz mountains, home of the glorious Northern California redwood trees for the Tim Leong-Rachel Swaby nuptials-slash-YMCA-camp. We didn’t have to kill our own food. There were pretty nice little cabins shared among groups of 14 of us, just like Girl Scout camp. We had flushing toilets, but not two-ply toilet paper. These are some things that happened:

First I spent a night in SF hanging with my friend Chris. We came back to the apartment kind of drunk and promptly parked on the street. The next morning the car was gone. Guess what the minimum tow rate in SF is? $476. And on top of that, there are about $160 parking tickets to pay. So…somehow my one bad parking mistake cost more than my roundtrip airfare to San Francisco.

After getting out to the camp, we wandered into the “town” of Boulder Creek, CA and met some anti-government guys trying to get us to sign a petition against more gun restrictions. Had we signed, we could have gotten a “I don’t call 911” t-shirt with a giant AK-47 on it. We passed. But that night, one of our bunkmates was wearing the shirt.

Justin and I tried to go on a hike. The trail was awfully rocky and steep. The sign at its entrance told us it was named the Nit Trail, but upon turning back because of the rough terrain, we pulled away a leaf to realize the sign actually said “Not a Trail.”

Patrick Terpstra, yes, that guy, officiated the ceremony. He did a brilliant, funny, heartfelt job despite my utter disbelief anyone would choose him to officiate a wedding ceremony. After the bridal party exited, he ended his emceeing by saying, “Okay we’re good then.”

During a walk along the Embarcadero, I got some sage life advice from the appropriately-named Om, a lovely and generous human being who is now a venture capitalist but always a journalist at heart.

Capped off the weekend back in SF, where I took a nice long shower all by myself in a boutique hotel. The photos. Click on any image to begin the gallery:

We Graduated This Weekend, 10 Years Ago

All these fellow Mizzou grads live in Washington and were on my porch. Awesome.
All these fellow Mizzou grads live in Washington and were on my porch. Awesome.

From my Xanga blog, May 19, 2003 (Xanga was a blogging platform back then, okay?):

“So, I’m graduated, and it didn’t feel strange except high school graduation seemed a lot bigger.

My parents had a “So, what are you going to do with your life” talk with me, which means, I should probably get on that at some point. I’ve decided to chill for a few months and then go crazy job hunting in August. Because I like life chapters to be marked by a definitive start and end, I will begin the job hunt phase with a trip to San Diego for a job fair. Fitting, eh?”

This weekend brought back so many crazy wonderful memories about 2003, which marked the end of college and the beginning of whatever this “adult” life I should be leading now. A line from The Office‘s recent series finale actually summed up my thoughts much better than I could:  “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ol’ days, before you’ve actually left them. Someone should write a song about that.”

The rest of summer of 2003 played out exactly as I described back on my Xanga... we really just partied and chilled for a few months, and it was such a sublime period of zero responsibility that we call it The Lost Summer. I did go to a job fair in San Diego, and most of us found jobs and dispersed by August. I never would have dreamt back then that the last 10 years would be as surprising, interesting and fulfilling as they played out. Or that I’d wind up living and drinking in DC, at least weekly, with so many of the people I loved from college.

Today, I and two of my college besties Beam and Terp (who, fortuitously, also live in Washington now) hosted our fellow Mizzou alumni and other DC pals in a cookout celebrating our Class of 2003 graduation. Everyone got in on the Missouri theme: Friend Joey, who is a master griller, mixed up a signature rub for St. Louis Style ribs. Me and Matty made Jungle Juice, a big hit from my sorority days (which was often made in a bathtub, but we classed it up and made it in a large plastic party tub instead). My dad brought me toasted ravioli (a Missouri fave) from St. Louis to share. Friend Kate made Missouri-shaped cookies but the bootheels kept wanting to break off. Friend Doris brought wine from the Les Bourgeois winery in Rocheport, MO. Friend Patrick got us graduation cards. <grin>

In the spirit of college, we acted a fool, day-drinking to drunkeness, attempting to squeeze through the dog door, singing karaoke from the on-demand karaoke channel and, in proof that we are in 2013 and not 2003, we flew our family drone around in the front yard.

Matty's drone didn't stay up in the air for long. The battery wasn't charged.
Matty’s drone didn’t stay up in the air for long. The battery wasn’t charged.

Inauguration Is Over. Now I Have a Brain Cloud.

The presidential motorcade as it headed to the Capitol for the swearing-in.
The presidential motorcade as it headed to the Capitol for the swearing-in.

 

The single best thing about living in DC is that people I love come into town frequently for one reason or another. Since presidential inaugurations only come around every four years, MANY people I love came into town at the same time. I had been training my liver for this weekend for awhile.

My only other DC inauguration experience was when I covered Bush’s first inauguration in 2001 as an intern for WFAA-TV. Attending that swearing-in ceremony was the coldest I’ve ever been. I remember getting dressed up for the Texas State Society’s Black Tie and Boots ball in the public bathroom of Belo’s DC bureau building at 13th and G.  I remember anchor Gloria Campos being in DC to anchor the coverage and wanting her scripts printed in bigger type, and how I had to help rush reporter Jim Fry into a cab so he could go do a post-parade live shot.

I remain on maternity leave, so I got to take part in this inauguration as a straight-up spectator. I skipped the weekend balls but was looking forward to the Common/T-Pain/John Legend concert since, as many of you know, Stiles loves loves LOVES Common. (BTW: Where WASN’T John Legend this weekend? Anyway.) We waited until the day before to respond to the ticket email and it was too late. Instead, we went to a delicious Indian restaurant for our 2nd anniversary dinner, seven months late. (Hey, 2012 was a little busy, okay?)

Continue reading “Inauguration Is Over. Now I Have a Brain Cloud.”

Finally Getting to Fly Nonstop from DCA to AUS (And Back)

Due to my status as a slumlord (we kept our Austin house) and because Texas friends are getting married and/or having babies that require in-person celebration, we’ve made three-to-four trips back to Austin each year. I love going back but it’s been kind of pricey, not to mention a pain because flying out of Washington Reagan calls for time-zapping layovers in Dallas or Chicago.

A new DCA-AUS flight that Southwest Airlines introduced this week may be the antidote to my yuppie plight. It’s nonstop service between the only actual DC airport (the others are way too far out*) and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. I tried it out with my longtime pal Brad yesterday, and flew back to DCA just a few minutes ago. On the return flight was US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who volunteered for the exit row, which meant she was ready to help us all in an emergency evacuation. Luckily, there were no surprises and KBH spent her plane time just as I typically do — leaned up against the window, taking a nap.

My only travel mistake today was leaving a chicken fried steak sandwich from Dan’s Hamburgers in my carry-on until mid-flight, because the grease ended up soaking through into my stuff and the sandwich was so much less tasty cause of its short shelf life.


*As my pal and DC native Patrick Terpstra likes to say, “People in DC would rather do their taxes ten times in a row than fly out of Dulles. People in DC would rather run through flaming bags of shit than to fly out of Dulles. People in DC would rather be water tortured than to fly out of Dulles.”

The Costa Rica Memory Vault

After 2010’s raucous four-day party in Amsterdam with 30 of our favorite people, I asked nagged some of the attendees to write up what they remembered the most so that we could save them for posterity, since booze and time tend to erase some of the best moments from our memories. I love reading over that post every once in awhile, so I rounded up some Costa Rica 2012 memories, below. (Y’all know I’m a hopeless nostalgic, so my poor friends end up subjected to this activity more than most.)

The pals in Costa Rica in our matching “Sucia Treinta” birthday shirts they surprised me with.

 

TERP: Oh gee, how bout being TERRIFIED OUT OF MY MIND when you and Matty gave me my assault wake-up call. Or when I nearly went to the Sandanista GITMO because I was wearing a flag defaced with “that Chinese girl.”*
[Terp pauses. Then…] I’ll never forget swinging from treetop to treetop with my newfound friends. We climbed questionable ladder-stairs to the canopy of Costa Rica where goofball Sandanistas flung us down ziplines while flirting with Mon-Pon and calling me FLACO! (skinny.) Then at the end I paid them far less than we owed since I was convinced they were ripping us off… even though they weren’t.

ERICA: I think one of my favorite memories from our week in Costa Rica was the lunch we had at Eat @ Joe’s. We grabbed lunch at this beach-side restaurant whose claim to fame was their “Nachos as Big as Your Ass.” Unfortunately, the nachos were the best thing Eat @ Joe’s had going for it. After we polished off the nacho appetizer and were still waiting for the rest of our order and chalking up the delay to “Tico Time,” one of the wait staff came up to us and apologized for the food taking so long. “I don’t know what happened to your server. I don’t know if he died, or what.” Best. Excuse. Ever. A little while later, our food was delivered; well, kinda. Terp and I had each ordered grilled Mahi that arrived as grilled chicken, and Justin’s food didn’t show up at all (that didn’t keep them from charging us for his absent meal later, though!). The stinky cherry on top of it all, though, was that while we were eating our tardy meal, sewage started spilling toward us from the bathroom right next to our table. Nothing reminds you that you’re in a foreign country like late table service, incorrect or completely forgotten meal orders and a sewage spill seeping toward your table. Pura Vida, for sure.

Continue reading “The Costa Rica Memory Vault”

Day Four: Good Morning Terpstra

TAMARINDO — Each morning this week, I’ve been sneaking into Terp’s room and getting really close to his face, hoping it will wake him up. (It’s not creepy at all, right?)

This morning I tried it on camera and was barely in his vicinity before he stirred.

Day One: The Big Ass Fan in Baggage Claim

LIBERIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — The new airport facility was just completed about two weeks ago, we are told. It’s real shiny in there, and to maintain that gleam, a woman haphazardly sweeps nonstop for what could be all day. We were at the airport for more than an hour awaiting the arrival of a Dallas flight that carried friends Chris, Melissa, Brett and Monica. Enter this first clip we shot:

Day One: Here We Are in Costa Rica

Our vacation home for 10, at night.
TAMARINDO, COSTA RICA — Hello from paradise. After a travel day involving unattended bags, long waits, angry car renters and a sweaty but amiable cab driver, 10 of my favorite people and I are all together in this tiny surfing town to chillax. (And also, so I won’t be alone for my 30th birthday. Talk about awesome friends, right?)

We’re staying at a gorgeous home atop a bluff, complete with an infinity pool and gorgeous views of the mountain and beach vistas. My blood pressure has lowered considerably since arriving. And because our group happens to include a little HD video camera, a photographer, five reporters, a blog platform creator and an internet connection, HeyElise will be hosting our vacation vlogposts all week. WOOT!

Woody’s Goodbye Tonight (And Terpstra’s)

Tonight, Johnathan Woodward, aka “Woody,” aka “J-Wo,” aka “J-Dub” aka “my-friend-that-shares-an-affinity-for-the-TV-show-Ed” will have a get together at a local watering hole to say goodbye. But we can all keep up to date on his wanderings in OUT SAVING THE WORLD, his reknowned blog. Where would the world be without these things? Finding the cure for cancer and heart disease, perhaps.

Woodward, never to be self-indulgent, will share his goodbye with one Patrick Terpstra, who heads to Florida tomorrow to begin a job with a 24 hour cable operation in Orlando. I don’t know if Woodward knows this part yet, but he will also be sharing his goodbye with one Chris Becker, who took a job as a producer in Kansas City, at the Fox station, WDAF.

So, lots of goodbyes these days. My friendship base in Columbia is dwindling away, only to be replaced very soon by returning friends who have yet to graduate and must come back for fall semester. Not that anyone is truly replaceable…no one eats nachos quite like Chris Becker, has an obnoxiously long tongue as Patrick Terpstra, and borrows lines from pop culture just-so-appropriately as Johnathan Woodward.