Saturday, September 29, 2012

Random Thoughts on Spies, Drag Queens and Naked Boys, Oh My!

This past weekend Darrell and I went up to DC for a quick getaway. He reconnected with an old friend of his via FaceBook and he’s now married and living in Maryland about 45 or so minutes outside of the city, so it’s the perfect place for an evening out to get reacquainted and for them to introduce their significant others to each other.

The weekend started immediately after work. We started the nearly four hour drive north to Washington, and of course traffic was mad getting out of Hampton Roads (that’s what they call the area I live in). Once we were clear of the Seven Cities, it was pretty smooth sailing. Waze, my GPS app of choice took us in to the city the back way “outsmarting traffic” (that’s their catchphrase) which was a bit confusing at first, but then, we were at our hotel: The Hilton Washington, DC. The Priceline Negotiator got us some stellar rates on this 4-Star hotel. There was a hiccup with the parking situation, but all-in-all, it was a pretty painless check-in process given how rude the lady was that Darrell spoke with when we tried to confirm our reservation over the phone a few days prior and make sure we had a King/Queen bed and not two double beds. I just knew that we would end up in a broom closet in the basement. We ended up with a corner room on the fourth floor. It was actually nice and somewhat spacious given that it was in DuPont. We got there and went for a walk. This is one of the reasons I absolutely love DC:

I thought it was a concert. Nope. Street performers. Awesome!

Saturday morning we slept in a bit, then we were off to Chinatown to go to the International Spy Museum. I had it on good authority that this place was quite interesting and fun. Before that, though, we had to eat breakfast. I had also been told that there was a great Irish pub in the area of the Verizon center that was really good, but I could not for the life of me remember the name of it. I reached out to a co-worker of mine to get the name of said pub, but didn’t hear back in time, so we ate at Fadó. We walked in and it looked very similar to Grogan’s Pub in Busch Gardens, which I assume is what many Irish pubs look like. I ordered a traditional Irish breakfast with hot tea – white (with milk). The waiter brought over a condiment caddy with HP sauce, Coleman’s English mustard, and Heinz malt vinegar and the other usual American suspects. I was floored. This actually was a real Irish pub! My breakfast came and it looked delicious. There was black and white pudding, eggs (sunny side up), ham, bacon, fried potato bread, sautéed mushrooms, and tomatoes. I dipped everything in English mustard, and it all was delicious! I  especially enjoyed the puddings (and yes, I know what they are).

On to the International Spy Museum. We went in we found out that they had a self-guided tour, and an Operation Spy adventure tour. The adventure tour sounded too awesome to pass on, so we did a combo pack for around $30 for both. Operation Spy was so much fun! From the second the tour started, we were “on.” There was one girl who gave us the run-down of what was going to happen, and what our mission was that we were going to be going to “Khandar,” this fictional country in the Middle-East (I presume) and our mission was under-cover as tourists (imagine that) to recover a missing nuclear trigger device. Once the mission began, it was pretty much non-stop clue finding and uncovering secrets from there. I was pretty surprised at how neat the whole thing was. We got to hack into a hotel’s surveillance, descramble a voicemail message, break into an office and search for evidence of the device (where I almost got us caught by the bad guys), and we had to jam the security cameras to get in, then go on the run where we had to do a polygraph test just before making our escape! It was a lot of fun, and well worth the extra money! After that, we did the usual tour and learned about trade craft and espionage. I got to crawl through some ventilation to spy on the other museum goers. Again, a lot of fun was to be had by all. Here’s a promo video about Operation Spy:

Go to Chinatown in DC and check it out!!

After we left the Spy Museum, we went back to our hotel and took a disco nap and met up with Darrell’s friend and his husband to go to dinner at Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse in DuPont. Apparently it’s the gayest steakhouse in DC (who knew there was such a thing). I had a chicken and pear salad. It was simply divine, and huge. The service was friendly, and decent, but nothing to write home about, the company was excellent!

After dinner, we went to Ziegfeld's/Secrets. It was a bit of a trek to get there, but luckily we weren’t driving, Darrell’s friend Steven was, and he (and his Garmin) knew where he was going. As we got closer, we turned down a dark alley and we were in this industrial area where I can honestly say that if I was lost I would not have wanted to be there on my own! Next thing I knew, we were there. This warehouse looking place. We went in and it was dead. There might have been a dozen people there, but it was only about ten o’clock, so it was early. We stood around for a few minutes, then decided to go upstairs (apparently there was an upstairs?) and that’s where everyone was hiding. There were at least 50 or more people up there, along with at least 6 completely naked boys dancing. I was not prepared for that. I knew that there would be strippers, but I assumed there would be, you know, stripping, not just bare-ball stark nudity. It was kind of awkward for me, and the “dancers” seemed to be bored stiff – get it! Anyway, at 11:00, the drag show started downstairs (that’s why the name of the place has a slash in it, it’s actually two bars stacked on top of one another: Ziegfeld's is the drag bar, Secret’s is the strip joint). So we ventured downstairs and grabbed a table near the stage and the show began. The queens were beautiful, and the show was amazing. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a drag show, and I really enjoyed this one! The emcee, Miss Ella Fitzgerald was hilarious and risqué. After the show, we went back upstairs, and I swear, there were no less than 300 people ogling at somewhere near a dozen naked boys shaking their money makers. Soon afterwards, we left and headed back to our hotel. It was very late before I got to sleep Saturday night.

She’s a girl gone wild! Sorry for the audio. It was REALLY loud!

Sunday, we woke up near 9:30, I think, and headed toward home. At the last minute, we decided to stop at Ikea. Neither of us had been there, and had always wanted to go. Wow. They have everything for the home. And I mean everything. We could have spent all day there, but we were exhausted from our outing the day before, so we kind of rushed through the store and got a giant cutting board for the countertop and a couple of candles and, of course some Swedish meatballs!

Our weekend excursion was pretty eventful, and a lot of fun. I hope this encourages you to head to DC and go to the Spy Museum, and hit up your local drag bar and Irish pub!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random Thoughts On Holiday Disappointment At Work

NO Holiday
So, I'm sitting here at work where it's employee appreciation day. They're having a cook out for us and they're making us hamburgers and hot dogs with all the sides. Potato salad, baked beans, fruit salad, there's a veggie tray, drinks, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Management is serving us as their way of saying thank you for all of our hard work throughout the year. Earlier this summer they took us to Ocean Breeze (it's a water park in Virginia Beach) all expenses paid. They do love us, or so it seems. Not long after the food started being served, an email was sent out that announced that they were cancelling our Holiday Gala (in caps because it's a formal event). We've not had an outside event since I've worked for the company (over 3 years now) due to the economy, or whatever. Meanwhile, we're having record growth? I've heard that back when we had Holiday Galas they were events to remember. I guess those times are long gone. I am thankful for my job, and I'm thankful that they do the things that show the appreciation towards us. I do wish that we could have fundraising to have our own, employee funded Holiday Gala, or at least Employee get together. I realize these are all First World Problems, and I could be unemployed, and again, I am thankful and appreciative for my job (that I love, by the way) with a company that does show appreciation, and offers great benefits (even same-sex benefits -- in VIRGINIA!). In all, I'm trying to focus on the positive, and not just blow off steam. I guess I'm going to have to start planning my own private (INVITE ONLY) Holiday Gala. I want to dress up and have fun!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Random Thoughts On Friendship

true-friendshipToday I wanted to write about friendship. I don't have many "real" friends. I can count on one hand the number of "real" friends I've had in my life. I have acquaintances. I have work friends. I have my family. Growing up, my sisters and my mother were my closest friends overall. They were always there, and I knew I could always confide in them with mostly anything and with very little judgment in tow. Now that I'm an adult and I've moved away from home, I have a lot of people I get close to temporarily and then we grow apart. I don't know if it's because I'm a flake or because I don't trust people, or what (it's because I'm a flake). In the end, I find myself surrounded with all of these awesome people that I just can't or won't commit to, and the ones that I always do commit to end up being the same type of person: the kind that need all of my attention all of the time. I don't know what it is about me that draws me toward this type of person, but I wish I would stop. I try to be everything to these friends, and in the end I feel like I can't be anything to anyone. Sometimes I feel so guilty about not being there every waking second for my friends in their respective times of need. Other times I feel like I overstep my bounds in being there too much, for some people. And then there are other times when I have to step back and realize that I do have my own life, my own job, my own relationship, and my own problems that I have to tend to, and I have no friends to talk to them about because all of my friends (that I would talk to about the intimate details of my life anyway) are in a seemingly perpetual state of meltdown, so I have nobody to vent to or confide in, other than my grandmother - she's the one stable rock that's always there for me with a fresh perspective. I'm sure there is a psychological reason for this, but I'm sure I don't know what it is. I'll call it Friend Disorder. At the onset of my writing this post, I really wanted this to be an empowering post for my friends in need, now I fear that I might have stepped on some toes. That wasn't my intention. I love you all (obviously). I'm not talking about any one specific person, so please don't feel guilty or take this wrong if you think I'm writing about you - I'm not. I wish I could be a better friend to you all with some solutions for your issues to make them better, but I don't have answers. All I can do is listen and be supportive in whatever you do, and tell you when I think you're being a dumb ass (hopefully I'll be nicer than that). I guess that's what makes me a lukewarm friend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Random Thoughts On Getting Healthier

Beach from last night's walk. Never gets old.So, we're getting healthier. We joined the rec last week, and we're trying to take this as seriously as we can. On Sunday we went to Busch Gardens and walked around the park from 10:00 to about 4:00-ish, then we went to Williamsburg Pottery and walked around. They've remodeled, and it's really nice! They had this international foods section, so I picked up a mint Aero bar (or 3 [some were for co-workers!]), and some treacle syrup. They had these divine organic flavored waters, too! I know most of the stuff I bought was junk, but hey, I walked at least 5 miles! After our excursion on Sunday, Monday I wasn't feeling all too well, so I took the day off from work. Tuesday, we were back at the rec center and did a real work out! We did a warm up on these sit-down bike things for 10 minutes, then we did a full 25 minutes on the elliptical! I made sure to pace myself so I didn't feel overwhelmed and so I didn't have to quit halfway into the workout. This strategy worked well for me. Afterwords, Darrell wanted to do some weight training. I was a bit reluctant, but then came around, because once I do start losing weight, my midsection will need firming up, so I'll need to work my abs to not be flabby! Unfortunately, the equipment was taken, so we took a pass and felt great upon leaving the rec center. We also decided maybe we should look into a personal trainer for a session or two just to see what areas we should hone in on to maximize weight loss and overall physical fitness. We're going to be going to the rec 2-3 times a week, and we're going to try walking (weather permitting) on the other nights. Wish us luck!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Random Thoughts On Joining The Rec Center

Great Neck Recreation Center in Virginia BeachI’m out of shape. Doesn’t that usually come with the territory of being a geek? I’m also a bit of a foodie and just generally like to eat. A lot. Now mind you, I’m not a cow, I’m just a bit overweight. Feel free to peruse my Instagram feed to the right, and you’ll see what I look like if you don’t already know me. I also have a slew of health issues that I probably shouldn’t have at my age like high blood pressure, migraines, back problems, sleep apnea, seasonal asthma and insomnia. Most of these things would probably magically go away if I lost about 50 pounds. My doctor swears up and down that they wouldn’t, but I’m inclined to believe otherwise, and would it really kill me if I goDeath Trap - Ellipticalt in shape? I doubt it. Well, unless I just up and had a heart/asthma attack on the elliptical, but I digress. Now, I don’t want to be some sort of champion weight lifter, or look like a supermodel, although in my head I already do (look like a supermodel, that is). Darrell is very unhappy with the way he looks, although I think he’s beautiful the way he is, so it’s due to his suggestion that we’ve joined the Virginia Beach Recreation Center. What is the Rec Center, you ask? It’s a locals only gym that is partially subsidized by the city, so it’s much cheaper than going to a private gym. All-in-all, it’s $80-odd per year, and they have all of the standard gym equipment of your Bally’s, Gold’s, or what-have-you, plus they have a pool. They also offer classes for $4 each and they have personal trainers you can purchase for an additional cost. I think this is a good low-cost way for us toGoodness in a biscuit get into shape. We do eat sensibly (for the most part). We don’t eat a lot of fast food. The thought of most of it just turns my stomach, but we do eat out – a lot. And I have a huge soft spot for Chinese takeaway. I like to do that once a week. But other than that, it’s Kashi lunches, and Greek yogurt and Belvita breakfast biscuit for breakfast, and usually – usually we cook at home for dinner. We have to get better at that! Next step is to find a great way to curb that sweet tooth of mine, I’m thinking home made Captain Crunch frozen Greek yogurt, who’s with me?!