Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaving tomorrow

The cab is scheduled, the bags are (almost) packed, the goodbyes have been said (for the most part) and tomorrow I leave for post.  I will spend two days in Miami and leave for Belize on Thursday.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friends with benefits

As I grow older, my friends get more and more awesome jobs.  I have friends who work on Capitol Hill, friends who work in television, friends working in Embassies and Consulates around the world, a friend who works in television and improv in Hollywood, friends who work in the Vatican and Rome, a friend who is a travel agent in Costa Rica, a friend who has made a feature film, dozens of lawyer friends in any number of offices around DC and St. Louis, my sister the flight attendant, and most importantly for tonight, a friend who works for OMB who has White House privileges.*

About a month ago, we tried to do the tour, but were done in by an AM/PM mistake on my White House grounds clearance.  Fortunately, there was no such problem today.  When we got in, I got to see where the Situation room was and see the Navy Mess (looks nothing like the cafeteria on the TV series).  When we got upstairs, we found out that the Oval Office and the other nearby offices were closed because the President was still in the office (around 930 at night).

Although no one ever said anything directly, our best guess is that President Obama was preparing for tomorrow's press conference about the oil spill.  (So, damn you BP, Halliburton and that other company who screwed me out of seeing the Oval Office by spilling oil in the Gulf.)  We tried to dawdle in the lobby (looks nothing like the TV series) in hopes that the President would finish up, and we could catch a glimpse of the President and see the Oval Office.  We got a look from one of the Secret Service agents telling us we should move on.

We did get to see the Cabinet Room and the Roosevelt Room.  The Cabinet Room was generally as I pictured it, but the Roosevelt Room was not at all like the TV series.  There were no glass walls around the room (that never made sense when you think about it, anyway), but there was the photo of TR on the horse.

We made our way outside and then to the Press Briefing room.  We were allowed to take a few pictures there.  The Press Briefing room was about what I expected, although a bit nicer furnishings (apparently it was just remodeled).

Other interesting tidbits

  • There are a whole bunch of rotating photos.  Most of the ones up today were from the State dinner with the Mexican President from last week.
  • The Press room is built on top of a pool.  During the FDR Administration, they built an indoor pool.  They later covered over the pool for the Press room.  The room really looks like a pool house.
  • The strangest/grossest part of the night was when we were outside.  I kept seeing things moving in the shadows.  It looked like a mouse or a large bug, but there were dozens of them.  Upon further inspection, it turns out that they were roaches.  Dozens upon dozens of roaches.  My skin is crawling just thinking about it.
*To be fair, I've had some pretty cool jobs with some pretty cool fringe benefits as well.  I've offered places to crash in Italy, Ireland, and Spain, as well as free tours in Rome.  And every lawyer has had to give free legal advice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Starting to say goodbye

After visiting my immediate family in Vegas and Phoenix, I made my way to Omaha to visit my extended family.  A little over a week ago, I had sent out a facebook invite (and a few phone calls) to invite everyone to a going-away dinner.  I hoped a few people might be able to make it out, but the turnout was amazing.  I had 28 aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents show up. Pretty much everyone who I am related to in the Omaha area came by.  As one Aunt put it, "This is an amazing turnout considering nobody died."  It really meant a lot to me to see everyone before I left, so thank you to all of you who came out.

The reason I could only stay one day in Omaha was that one of my great friends from high school, Kris, was getting married on Saturday in Nebraska City.  Not only did I get to see Kris marry his beautiful bride, Beth, but I got to hang out with two of my other great high school friends Ann and Sam.  (I also got to eat lunch with Betsy, who was just back from Tanzania).
Of course, while getting to see everyone was fantastic, I also had to say goodbye.  It was a little sad, but I've said goodbye to these friends before and we've always made our way back to each other.  So, while Ann and Betsy may be married by then and Kris and Beth will be parents, we will hopefully all get back together again in the future (that is what home leave is for, right?)

I have a lot more goodbyes this week with my going-away party on Thursday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fun with family

I am enjoying my relaxing week with my family.  I started off last weekend celebrating my sister's 30th birthday with my family in Vegas.  My family and I love Vegas.  We are gamblers.  In fact, we are usually so busy gambling that we often fail to enjoy of any of the other fun things that Vegas has to offer - shows, clubs, shopping, etc.

With that in mind, I decided I would go with my sisters out to a club on Friday night.  My younger sister Katie had a friend who had an ex-boyfriend who was a promoter who said he could get us a free table and free vodka at Vanity, a club at the Hard Rock.  We picked up my older sister Shelley's friend, a fellow flight attendant on an overnight in Vegas, and made our way to the club.  Katie's guy flaked out on us, but Shelley's friend had met some guys on the plane who were headed to the same club.  I pretended to be some guy named Sean and we got into the club.  As soon as we were there, I realized it was not the place for me.  While the eye candy and people watching was entertaining, I was feeling twice my 28 years.  Nevertheless, I bought a $9 beer while my sisters drank $13 cocktails.  The girls met up with the guy I impersonated.  As they were getting a table (with $800 grey goose bottle service), I made my way back home.

The rest of the weekend was great.  I won several hundred dollars at craps, broke even on slots and lost at blackjack and other card games.  All told, the entire weekend - including food, drinks, gambling, flight, transportation, and hotel cost me $300.  Pretty good weekend if you ask me.

I had to cancel my trip to LA, so I went straight to my parents house in Phoenix.  I've relaxed at home for a few days, had some good meals, played some cards with my family (I WON!), did some shopping, and slept in.  This weekend, I have 25 members of my extended family meeting me for dinner in Omaha on Friday.  Saturday, I will be attending my friend Kris's wedding and meeting some of my high school friends - including Betsy who has spent the past year in Tanzania!

Then, Monday morning, I will fly back to DC for my consultations.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Packout and beyond

You would think the second packout would be easier.  You would be wrong.  Most of the problems with my packout stem from three facts - (1) I had to work all week, including today; (2) not everything in the apartment is mine; and (3) I have to live out of a suit case for the next three weeks.

When I packed out in February, I had the whole week off before the movers showed up because of the snow storm.  That allowed me the time to sort everything properly.  This time, I was working all week.  Plus I went out with my friends a few times (it will be years until I see them again).  The topper was that I needed to do my packout today and I had class today until 330.  I tried to get them to show up as late as possible, but the latest they could come was 130.  Fortunately, my friend and neighbor David, was nice and agreed to let the movers in.

Everything went smoothly, except for the slight detail that they put all of my UAB stuff in HHE boxes and filled up the UAB boxes with a random 250 lbs. of HHE.  Very fortunately, I found this out and was able to get all of my UAB into the proper boxes.  Hopefully, it shows up properly.

I mentioned having to live out of my suitcase for three weeks because tomorrow I leave for vacation.  Whoooohooo.  I am spending the weekend in Vegas with my family, then 2 days in LA with my cousin and his wife.  After LA, I go to Phoenix for 3 days to spend time with my family.  Then, next weekend I will fly to Omaha to meet with some extended family.  Saturday, one of my best friends from high school is getting married in Nebraska City.  Then, Monday morning, I will fly back to DC to start my week of consultations.

I will finally leave DC again on June 1.  I spend a day and a half in Miami for DHS consultations and then finally 3 weeks from today, I will arrive at post.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Help me name my car

Everyone seemed so interested in all of the stuff that I was packing for Belize, so I thought I'd share my latest purchase.  It's a 2006 Jeep Liberty Renegade.

My last car - a 2000 Ford Focus - was good to me.  I got it during my senior year in college.  It survived law school and my move to DC.  I moved it across the country about 3 times.  It had its problems (mainly tires), but it was a good car.

This new SUV will be going with me to Belize and it needs a name.  So, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Crap I've bought for Belize

So, despite its location in Central America, Belize is considered a fairly expensive country.  Groceries tend to  vary in their availability (you see something you want, you buy it then as it might not be there the next time.  Moreover, paper products and cleaning supplies are either expensive or in short supply.  Plus, as you may recall, Belmopan is a bit on the small side, so I needed to bring entertainment supplies.  Finally, I am still furnishing my apartment, so I needed to buy things like dish towels and baking dishes.  So, I have decided to catalog for you the pile of crap I have bought to take to Belize.

  1. Cereal (I am a cereal fiend, so I have bought well over 20 boxes of cereal and most of those are double size boxes.  I love my cereal.)
  2. Listerine - a whole bunch of it because I can't order liquids online and have them shipped to Belize
  3. Lysol disinfectant wipes
  4. Laundry detergent - I think it adds up to over 300 loads worth of detergent
  5. printer paper
  6. Board games - Risk, Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble (accidentally bought that twice), poker chips, Phase 10
  7. Bike and bike helmet
  8. Tennis racket and tennis balls.  (Even though I literally have not played tennis since 6th grade, I will have a court near my house and I hear it is a very diplomat game to play, so I thought I'd better at least have a racket.)
  9. Guitar (I want to learn how to play)
  10. Dryer sheets
  11. Mac & Cheese
  12. Cooking spray
  13. peanut butter crackers
  14. a grill
  15. charcoal
  16. A set of knives
  17. animal crackers
  18. toilet paper
  19. paper towels
  20. paper plates
  21. Ketchup
  22. Jelly
  23. Peanut Butter
  24. Peanuts
  25. Deodorant - lots of it
  26. Tootsie Pops
  27. Pasta
  28. Pasta sauce
  29. Diced tomatoes
  30. Tea
  31. Apple Juice
  32. Cake mix and frosting
  33. Jello and pudding
  34. instant mash potatoes
  35. Pop tarts
  36. Pancake mix and syrup
  37. Spices and marinades (specifically for chicken, since chicken is more common than other proteins)
  38. A dog kennel, plus food, medicine, flea and tick stuff, shampoo
  39. Hamburger helper
  40. Cascade
  41. dish soap
  42. hand soap
  43. toothpaste
  44. tooth brushes
  45. floss
  46. sunscreen
  47. first-aid kit
  48. razor blades
  49. shaving cream
  50. cold medicine
  51. cough syrup
  52. advil
  53. advil PM
  54. Socks
  55. Shoes
  56. Underwear
  57. shorts
  58. short-sleeve shirts
  59. polo shirts
  60. Xbox 360 and games
  61. Video camera
  62. DVDs galore (seriously, I bought way too many DVDs.  My favorite purchase may be Adventures in Babysitting for $5.  That was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid).
  63. Pop
  64. A duffel bag
  65. vitamins
  66. a new car (yet to be purchased), plus tires, other spare parts and insurance to go with the new car
  67. sealed containers (for my food, for dog food, etc).
  68. a football
  69. camping chairs
  70. Sunscreen
  71. Bugspray
Seriously, there is actually quite a bit more, but I am tired of writing it all out.  I know I am taking too much and I could definitely live with less and end up more Belize like, but these creature comforts may make me feel more like I am at home.