Monday, August 14, 2017

7 Years Later And I'm Back Where It All Began ( whirlwind weekend in Washington D.C.)

It's been 7 years since I lived near Washington D.C. and started this blog.  It's been a busy chunk of time. Lots of new adventures; travel, food, life.   

But in a strange bit of irony, the weekend of this anniversary, I found myself back on familiar ground.

I hadn't planned to be in our nation's capital on a blog anniversary; sometimes you just get a wild hair to jump on a red-eye and spend a weekend a few time zones away from home.  The timing was incidental.

As I look around the city I left, so much has changed - and yet everything seems to remain the same.

Ever since coming here as a child on summer vacations with family, there are things that time just never touches.  For example, one of the strongest memories I have of D.C. is the smell of the Metro...

And no, I'm not talking about the aromatherapy smells that the Metro experimented with earlier this year.  This is more of  a mechanical type of smell: combine a garage with an air-conditioning repair shop with just a dash of...something.   It's not unpleasant.  Actually, I look forward to it.  It's a familiar scent that reminds me of happy summers and family.

Hey - some people equate home with apple pie.  Me?  The Metro.  Who knows why these things happen.

But that's Washington.  History is revered and preserved.  Memorials are right where you left 'em the last time you were here.

Local or tourist, even if you've seen the monuments or memorials a hundred times, there's always a new angle to see, new perspectives to consider.

Sometimes you're lucky to wake up early enough to feel like you have the city mostly to yourself.

But when the city gets going, it makes it presence known.

The difference between tourist and local is reflected in the look of awe versus annoyance when the motorcades stop and heavily suited people pop out of cars.
Sometimes, though, you forget where you are and what you're looking at.  For example - this is the not White House. the White House.

Yes.  This mistake actually occurred.  I confused the White House with the Treasury building.

Although to be fair - it was nighttime (this picture was taken the next evening), we had been up for nearly 24 hours on 4 hours of sleep, and I was slightly disoriented.  Hey...they both had flags and columns.  It's an easy enough mistake to make.  Except for maybe the way-more security in front of the actual WH.  I suppose that was kind of a hint....

Such a rookie mistake.

D.C. is a fun city to watch morph from day into night....

And although I love walking the grounds during the daytime -

There's something magical about the way the city comes alive at night....

Nick could have spent more time in the light tunnel at the National Gallery of Art:

officially named "Multiverse"
I could have easily spent the entire day at this cupcake/coffee shop:

Baked & Wired - Georgetown

Best.  Cupcake.  Ever.

I could move back for this cupcake.


But even if there isn't another cross country relocation in my future, at least I know I can always come back for a visit with old friends:

And familiar smells.

Well.  You know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Barbecue, Baseball, Blues, and.......Badminton? (ah...we must be in the Midwest)

Long, long ago I spent a brief portion of my life in the Midwest;  Kansas City, Missouri, to be exact.  It was my first move away from Arizona, which resulted in a whole slew of homesickness-related issues (let's just say that Kleenex had a stellar year).  And as I left, exactly 14 months after arriving, I swore that I would never return, never, ever, ever again.


Fast forward 20 years.

When Nick and I discussed where would spend our third anniversary, we decided use the trip to continue our Baseball Stadium Tour tradition of the past two years (Seattle last year, Denver the year before).  We've visited all the stadiums in the west, so that meant Texas or the Midwest was next.  Wait...the Midwest.  Didn't I live there before?  How did I never go to a baseball game in Kansas City?  Oh, that's right.  I was busy being miserable and homesick.  Well, what else did I miss out when I was there?

It was time to find out.


I know Kansas City is one of the top barbecue destinations in the US (if you don't believe me check it out HERE).  But just how good needed to be tested....

The Burnt Ends Sandwich at Joe's BBQ (the original gas station location) - totally lives up to its hype. But get there early or its gone before you can lick the sauce off your fingertips!

At Gates, it's the Single, pork, original sauce...the only way to order it!

At Jack Stack's, order Jack's Best for one of the most tasty, finger-lickin' bbq experiences you'll ever have. Oh, and their carrot cake is TO DIE FOR!!!!!!!!!!!

It took several times before determining that yes, Kansas City has some of the best barbecue that I've ever had in my life (sorry, Texas).


 This year's anniversary trip gave me not one but TWO baseball stadiums to add to my list.  The first, naturally, Kauffman Stadium.  And lucky me!  The Royals were taking on the Angels that day.

Go Angels!!

Also known as "The K", Kauffman Stadium was opened back in 1973 and underwent a renovation back in 2009.  The two biggest eye-catchers in the stadium are easily the beautiful back-field water feature:

 and their MASSIVE scoreboard:

The other stadium I managed to put a check-mark next to, was across the road a-ways in St. Louis; Busch Stadium!

Housed in beautiful red brick, the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the oldest National League teams (founded in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings) but with a new stadium that just opened in 2006.  The stadium sports a gorgeous view of the St. Louis skyline, is 4-tiers tall, and has an adjacent "Ballpark Village" area complete with food, museum, and rooftop viewing of the game.

Interesting fact - the Cardinals are the first team in nearly 100 years to win a World Series Championship in the inaugural season of a new ballpark.

The stadium is also built partially on the site of their old stadium.  "Ballpark Village" is built on the rest of the old site.

So there's stadiums number 12 and 13 down.  Almost to the half-way mark!!

Blues....(and jazz)

In addition to barbecue, Kansas City is known for being one of the greatest jazz cities in the world.  As one website put it, "While New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz, America's music grew up in Kansas City."  And indeed, I learned too late of the great venues in KC where the booze and blues flow freely.  This time around, I made sure to check out as many as possible.

At the legendary, The Phoenix, we enjoyed Saturday Jazz Brunch....

We were steered towards The Majestic for their fabulous steakhouse fare, but struck gold when we found out that not only did it house a jazz club, it was downstairs in the building's original speakeasy hideout!

Our last night in KC, we stumbled upon this nondescript looking door downtown that led to a luscious, red velvet, retro cocktail lounge.  Like stepping back in time, with no cover, doors open until 3am, and a jammin' quartet in the middle of the room, The Green Lady Lounge easily made the top of the list and fulfilled all of my jazz and blues wishes...

(at least, until we get to New Orleans....but that's a trip for another time)

A few other highlights:

Overall our visit to the midwest was wonderful.  Nick got to play with some new toys:

...and died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail

I enjoyed one little "beer" in the lively Westport area of Kansas City....

And saw where it came from in St. Louis....

We drove past national landmarks:

and walked through local...

We also tried our hand at badminton....

But something tells me we tried playing with the wrong equipment.

Overall, these 5 days in Missouri more than made up for anything I feel I might have missed the first time around.  Although cleaner, kinder and slower-paced than what I'm used to in La-La Land, I'm still not sure that I'd ever move back there again.

Probably never.

But then again...I've learned my lesson about saying "never" now, haven't I?

Happy Anniversary, my love!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Is It Time For You To Make A Sober Decision (Day 976)

I met a friend for lunch the other day.  Since it was a warm and almost spring-like day, we decided to enjoy the outdoor seating area and bask in the sun.

Once seated, the server asked for our drink order.  My friend ordered a glass of white wine and I requested sparkling water; no different than the last time we were at lunch. Chatting and laughing when the drinks arrived, as soon as the server left my companion instantly grew quiet.  I waited.  She looked at both glasses on the table, then up at me and almost meekly asked, "how did you quit drinking?  Because I've tried and tried and I just can't stop!"

My heart ached for my friend for a moment, because I knew the next words out of my mouth were not going to be what she wanted to hear.  I didn't even know if she would really hear them.  The way she asked the question already spoke volumes about her relationship with alcohol.  She already knew she had a problem, and she wanted me to tell her there was an easy way out.

"You just stop drinking."

I waited for The Look.  The "I can't do that" look.  Followed by the slightly shocked, "Oh, I could NEVER give up my glass of wine each night," statement.  Words said with almost a touch of pity in them.  Pity that I can't enjoy a cold beer, or a lovely cabernet sauvignon.  That there must be something wrong with me, because that's just not the right answer.  There has to be an easier way!

There isn't.

You have to be honest with yourself first, or nothing after this is going to matter.  If you're not ready to quit, you won't.  Because when you quit, you quit.  All together.  Cold turkey.  There are no cheat days,  no "only on weekends".  There is just you making a decision - do you want to drink, or do you not. (did Yoda say that in a movie somewhere...???). 


Now, do you?

If so, you start today.  TODAY!!!

You get all the booze out of the house.  ALL OF IT (even that $150 bottle you brought home from Napa for that special occasion).

You build your support system.  You tell your friends so they don't hassle you (nor should they...what kind of friends are they really if they're pushing you to do something you don't want to....) and help hold you accountable.  If you're a social media junky, post it online - "Day 1 of #soberlife" - you'd be surprised how many people will throw support and love your way.  Go online and find meetings - if you need them.  Join a book club.  Find a church.  Call me if you want!  What you don't do is try to do this alone.

And then, You.  Don't.  Drink.

You go do something after work that has nothing to do with drinking.  Go to Home Depot and plan out an herb garden, clean your house, do your laundry, see a movie, get coffee (I highly recommend decaf), go to a teahouse, go to the ocean, take a drive through the mountains, drive with the windows down and the music cranked.  Go anywhere where there is NO BOOZE!  Hours will pass, and eventually you will get tired and go to sleep.

Then you wake up the next morning, mark a #1 on your calendar.  Yes.  You mark your first day.

my sobriety calendar (I also use it to track how often Domino goes to day care)

Get ready and proceed with the Day 2.  You go to work, you talk to friends, you check in on social media.  You stay away from "trigger" places, invite a friend over for movie and soda, take a pottery class, go for another drive, ensconce yourself in a "safe, alcohol-free zone".   The next day you write a "2" on the calendar and proceed with day 3.

You do this each and every day.  Don't think about the next day - focus on the present.  DON'T think about the what-ifs, you just say "NO" and go without.  You take it day by day and tell yourself to focus on THAT DAY.  Don't get wrapped up in thinking about not drinking tomorrow, next week, or next month.  If you worry about not drinking on vacation, or holidays, or when your family comes to visit, you're just going to depress the crap out of yourself trying to look long term.  Choose to not drink today.  Each.  Day.


You are totally allowed to be selfish for these first few days.  These are tough days.  But you can do it! You have your support system - use them!

If you go out, order sparkling water (the effervescence mirrors champagne or beer).  Have coffee (decaf) with dessert instead of wine.  Don't sit at the bar. Tell yourself how much classier you are ordering coffee or sparkling water instead of alcohol.  Think about celebrities or people you admire that don't drink and realize you're just as hot and mysterious.  Even MORE so!

I've tried and tried....

It is a hard, hard habit to break.  I know.  Trust me, I know.  I love(d) wine, Napa, wine dinners - I got married at a wine bar!  Meanwhile, I also love(d) beer.  I worked at a brewery; the smell of hops and yeast is like perfume to me.  Sampling seasonal beers was one of my favorite things to do!  I love(d) drinking with my friends...the laughing, the social aspect.  Warm Bailey's and coffee on cold winter nights and ice cold beer at baseball games on warm summer days...I LOVED IT ALL!!!  But when my daily routine started looking like this:  8am -"not gonna drink today"....6pm-"well...just one glass of wine"...2-3 glasses later....8am-"God, I feel like crap...ok, not gonna drink today"...lather, rinse, repeat, then it was time realize that it was harmful than helpful and it had to go.

You can tell yourself that you're not me.  And that's OK.  If you tell yourself you're only going to drink on the weekends and really do pull it off, that's great.  You vow to only drink one glass of wine per night from now until forever - more power to you!  Not gonna lie - I wish I had your strength!


If you wake up each day saying you're going to stop and that evening raise a glass (or three) saying that quitting is for quitters....

It's Not All Rainbows...But it IS a Good Thing

I still see my friends, we go out to bars and breweries!   I have awesome dinners, throw parties, even see my family.  And I can do it all WITHOUT alcohol!

Every day is a new number on my calendar.  I don't want to start all over again, so I don't.
This may not be the answer you wanted.  It's not the answer I wanted at the time either.  But I'm GLAD I quit drinking.  The benefits far outweigh any bottles of beers, glasses of wine, or shots of tequila I could have had by now.  Knowing where my car is parked in the morning.  No hangovers.  Not being "that girl" at the bar.

I've had holidays, family dinners, bought a house and any number of other stressful, enjoyable, celebratory situations without a drink.

And Lunch....?

My friend and I finished lunch that day without discussing alcohol any further.  She had a few more drinks with me, went out with friends that night and had to call a cab to get her home.  I got a text message from her at noon complaining about what an awful headache she had and did I have any suggestions for curing it?

Yes.  Yes, I do.

And I gave my phone "The Look".