Crazy Eyes

I was watching some cable news station the last time I was at home. My dad walked by the TV and said to me, referring to a politician or some political appointee, “Now see? Anybody can look at him and see that he just is NOT RIGHT. Something about him is OFF.”  It was true – something about the guy did look…off. He had the “crazy eyes”. Craziness was all up in his eyes, in his face, his mannerisms. And then the craziness started coming out of his mouth.

I often go with my “first mind”, meaning my intuition, when making decisions. I don’t turn it off, or try to rationalize or come up with explanations for why I feel the way I do about (fill in the blank here.) When I meet a person for the first time, I focus on how I feel about them and what I initially thought about them. If my initial thoughts are not to trust them or that they make me uncomfortable, I don’t try to explain it or figure out what about them makes me uncomfortable. I move on and try to stay away from them, or avoid them as much as I possibly can.

I recently saw someone who had the CRAZY EYES!  This was someone that I knew and had gone out with many, many years ago. He did not have the crazy eyes back then; he must have developed them over the years (“adult onset” crazy eyes). He contacted me via (curses!!!) Facebook. Note to self: I have got to even further limit my profile so that random people can’t even so much as email me. Anyway, I am often contacted by people of varying degrees of closeness to me who end up in DC on business, so (if I’m in town and free) I generally have no problem meeting up with seemingly normal people who contact me and say they’re in the city. But in this situation, since I saw the crazy eyes when he saw me, I couldn’t duck out and run away without him noticing. So much for plan A. My first mind’s plan B was to try and end the meeting as quickly (and unoffensively) as possible. (Success!)

And sure enough, the more I heard him say, the more my initial thought was confirmed. I don’t care about the argument that “you find what you’re looking for”, meaning that I was listening for the craziness to confirm the crazy eyes. Whatever. Either way – crazy is crazy. He’s a nice enough person, I guess, but…let me just say that I completely see why continues to encounter the volume of societal issues that he does.

Later on this week, I’m meeting up with a non-crazy-eyed good friend who is visiting DC from Atlanta for a work meeting. This will more than make-up for the crazy eyes experience from the other day. (Whew!!)

Content and ideas copyright Samee on Everything (2010).

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Masses of Asses

Today is April 15, the day personal income tax returns are due to be filed. Today is also a day of many protests by these “Tea Party” activists. Although I work in the District, I did not participate or go out to witness these events. Some people had to work today. BUT – I did have some eyes on the scene and the good ole WaPo to give me an overview.

First, though, I did some looking into this “Tea Party” movement. They official go by the “Tea Party Patriots” and are organized as a nonprofit social welfare organization, a section 501(c)(4) corporation under — what?!?!– the INTERNAL REVENUE CODE. You can’t take a charitable contribution deduction for donations to this organization. (Rejoice in the little victories!) Their mission statement is as follows:

“Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.” – from their website, teapartypatriots.org/mission.aspx .

That sounds like a decent mission, on its face. Especially the “educate” part. Check out these signs from today’s rally:

"Chang is Wat I Got in My Refund" - courtesy of JRN

"I'm Not A Hater But Your Working On It" - courtesy of JRN

My eyes on the scene said that the person introducing the speaker at the rally called “DC” the Devil’s City. If anything, the Tea Party members should see DC as a brother (or sister) in the struggle since DC residents really are taxed with NO representation, no votes in the Senate or HOR. I mean…since that was what the Boston Tea Party was about (taxation of the colonies without them having representation in the British government.)

Even more than the misguided reference to the Boston Tea Party, what troubles me is that my eye-reporter said that the crowd was all white. Couple that with the Washington Post article which interviewed a guy (Jerry Johnson), an attorney from Virginia who said this about President Obama:

“It’s not just because he’s black,” he said. “I wish I could tell you that I loved this guy, that he was a great president, that I had faith in him. But I have none. Zero.”

It’s not just because he’s black — oh no, there are many other reasons to dislike the President, to have no faith in him. Is that right? Not just because he’s black – that’s just ONE reason to dislike the President and have no faith in him?

I think that man’s quote is the essence of my problem with this “tea party movement.” They are dissatisfied with the President and oppose him on everything, but offer no meaningful solutions to the issues that they’re complaining about. But that might be because, at least for Mr. Johnson (but I suspect for many other supporters), there is no solution for one of his problems with our President. He can’t make Obama not black.

If that’s an underlying theme of the tea party supporters, then that explains the lack of racial diversity in the crowd. Because I’m telling you: if someone said to me, “Hey! Do you believe that our government should show fiscal responsibility and govern within the limits of the Constitution? Do you support a free market economy?”, I’d say yes to the first 2 questions, and “well…it depends” to the last one.

**

In other news, Caps game is going into O/T. I’m so mad that one guy in the picture has an Ovechkin jersey on…bringing shame to the Red! Go Caps and it’s still Thursday so I kept my word about posting! 🙂

Content and ideas copyright Samee on Everything (2010).

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I’m back!

My apologies for taking such a long hiatus from my beloved blog. So much has happened between “Have a nice fall!” and now. WOW! I think this post is going to be a sort of Year in Review for me. Yes. I think so.

First of all, since I’m off the water and not on the board of directors at my rowing club anymore, I now have time to dedicate to writing and my classes. Starting in January, I’ll be taking 2 more classes through UCLA’s online program. I’m excited! One is in writing for 30 minute television (sit coms!) and the other is in story and plot analysis.

As you may recall, I took the writing for films but I’m not quite sure that film writing is my “thing”. At least not right now. But TV…that’s different. I think it’ll be better for me to develop my thoughts and ideas over time (a length of a show) rather than have everything go from start to finish in a film. That’s my thinking now, having no knowledge of writing for TV. We’ll see if this changes. Besides…every time I hear about a new TV show, it inspires me. I think – boy oh boy, if someone got the ok to produce this crap, then I think I have a good shot! 🙂

surf's up! last year i took surf lessons in hawaii on my birthday. this year...i had to work. 😦

What else is going on in the life o’ Samee? Work is work. Still at my same position, still in DC. I did have the opportunity to participate in a trial, though. The trial was the only thing that could make me work on my birthday, something I hadn’t done in about 10 years. The trial ended on my birthday and I got to do the closing argument. The whole experience was awesome!! As one friend said – I was like Matlock in a nicer suit! Yeah I was. I never did get to say, “You can’t handle the truth!” or tell anyone that they were out of order, but the trial was fun nonetheless. I did use the words “fun” and “trial” in the same sentence; I’m weird like that I guess.

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to beat people (in a nice and friendly way, but still.) I like to win. That’s one of the things I like about rowing. My dad thinks I might be a little too competitive. After one of my races this summer, he asked me how it went. I said – we won!! He said, yes, but did you have fun? Hmm…fun… Let’s see. It’s hot as Satan’s armpit and the water looks like an ocean stirring. I just rowed 1000 meters at 38 – 40 strokes per minute. Afterward, I thought I was going to earl or choke or choke on earl. Fun… YES I had fun Dad!! WE WON!!!

That’s how the trial was. I worked somewhat regular hours leading up to the trial but during the ordeal, it was 16 – 18 hour days. It was a 4 day trial. You do the math. I don’t know if we won the case yet, but I celebrated my personal (small) victories on a daily basis. My objection was sustained – yes! Your was overruled – yes! I gets it innnnn. The trial was the highlight of my work life this year. As a result, I’ll gladly omit the other work stuff.

Social life? Pretty much the same. Nothing to report. It’s cold out and I’m spending all of my social funds to transport myself to warmer climates. If you live in one of those cities, clear a spot in your guest room or futon because I may be calling upon you to relieve me from the misery that is Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar in DC.

There’s about 2 feet of snow on the ground, mostly on the sidewalks since the snow-removal-people in DC seem to think it’s a-ok to plow the streets but give no regard to the sidewalks or the path from the sidewalk into the crosswalks. Damn all that – I drove to work. I moved closer in and now my commute (if you can call it that) is a lengthy 8 minutes  in the car and a 2 minute walk. Love it!

That’s all I can think to write about at this time. I need to eat my evening meal, thanks to leftovers from my branch’s holiday lunch. YES I did take leftovers from a work function. They were offered and they were GOOD, and now I have a date with that delicious shrimp and grits dish (with smoked gouda – heaven!!)

Deuces!

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Have a nice trip. See you next fall.

Well ladies and gents, I’m nearly fully recovered after my bout with seasonal allergies and a really bad sore throat. I am Germy no more. 🙂  Back to the grind. I start my temporary new job on Wednesday, too. (yay!)  Excited about that.  I’ve also started my writing class offered through UCLA’s continuing ed online division. It’s taking up more time than I’d planned and, as a result, I’m going to be posting on a weekly basis. I need to pick something I know I can stick to, so this is it.

In my last 2 weeks or so at my current job location, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the arrival of the tourists. Oh yes. Each spring, the tour buses hit the trails to DC with their many many high school students and chaperones. Foreign and domestic family vacationers, too, flock to the Nation’s capital. This year, they came for Inauguration first. But more recently they came for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and race, and just to visit the sites. As the weather gets warmer, it’s also the time that a group that I call the “local tourists” from the far-out suburban areas flock to DC to enjoy the museums, parks, national monuments, festivals and sporting events (like the Caps in the NHL playoffs!).

Living here, in a major metropolitan area such as DC with a pretty good public transportation system, I don’t drive to work often. I usually take the Metro (subway). I don’t have to deal with the vehicular traffic on the Beltway, complete with speed-then-brake-slammers, slow-drivers-in-the-fast-lane, non-turn-signalers, riding-on-the-brakers, uninsured motorists and the like. I get to completely avoid that kind of stress on my way to and from work.

biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. when visiting, do as the locals do.

biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. when visiting, do as the locals do.

Instead, I get to deal with the tourists on the Metro and walking around downtown DC where I work.

As yet, it is unclear whether the drivers or the Metro-takers are getting the better deal on reducing commute-related stress.

If you or someone you know is a non-city dweller that is going to visit a city anytime soon, please take a look at the following transportation-related complaints and try not to be that visitor, ok?

These offenses are equally egregious; they’re not in any order.

1) Can I park here?
After I’ve seen them reading the signage and the meter (which don’t always say the same things), I’ve had visitors ask me (walking down the street after work with my work bag) — can I park here? I always respond the same way — “I don’t know; what’d the sign say?” And keep it movin’.

If you can’t figure out whether you can park somewhere or not, then I can’t break stride and explain what “no parking/loading zone/7:30am – 6:30pm weekdays” means. I know – the signage may be confusing because it is unfamiliar to you.  But, if you’re not sure if parking is allowed and don’t want to be ticketed or towed, then take the Metro or park in a garage or deck. Or try again and hope to get someone who is willing to entertain your question.

2) Stand to the right; walk to the left.
I thought this was common knowledge but apparently it is not. Just like on the freeway, “slower traffic, keep right.” Same thing for escalators or moving walkways. Stand to the right. Yes – YOU. You and your kids. And your bags. All of y’all – get over to the right and don’t make me nudge you with my umbrella. I use it unabashedly, like a cattle prod.

If you find yourself in the unenviable position of standing to the left during rush hour on the Metro in Washington, DC, you will definitely get pushed, may get your feelings hurt and will probably think that District residents are the rudest people on Earth. Not even. We’ve just got somewhere to be, some train connection to make, some meeting to attend —  and we want you (with nowhere to be, because you’re on holiday) to stand over there, to the right. Stanks.

3) Stand clear of the closing doors.
This is a tricky saying. I know, it sounds like you should back away from the closing doors and wait for the next train. On the contrary, to the experienced Metro rider “stand clear of the closing doors” is akin to seeing a yellow traffic light and no red light camera — BOOK IT! Jam yourself into the train and push the people who are standing by the doors when there’s ample room in the middle of the car. They’re asking for it by standing in the doorway.

But please – this is only for the professional rider who can safely judge when it is ok to book it/jam in and not for those who get their body parts, clothing or accessories stuck in the doors and make the train go out of service and causing delays during rush hour. In other words, visitors and suburban novices, please stand clear of the closing doors so that we can rush past you and make our train. Again, we kindly ‘preciate it.

4) Get off the escalator and keep it movin’.
Once more, I thought this was not only common knowledge but a little physics too. Unless the escalator breaks down immediately after you exit it, there will be other people getting off right behind you. You cannot, therefore, stand in front of the escalator ending and not get mowed down. It’s physically impossible. To avoid injury, please keep moving and step out of the way of others before congregating to decide upon the next historic site you’ll visit.  Much appreciated.

5) Walking, walking, walking, STOP.
Don’t do this. Just don’t. If you are walking and there are people around you that are also walking and you must stop, then move to the side and stop. If you are adults and are joined by hand-holding or the like, please be aware of others trying to pass you as you stroll leisurely through the city. DC’s downtown sidewalks are pretty wide, but if you get 5 or 6 tourists joined up like those cutout paper-people it’s hard to get by without a curt “excuse me” and a chopping motion to break through you.

Consider this a short guide as to acceptable (and unacceptable) transportation-related behavior in the DC area, although the same rules would likely apply to any major metro with a transit system.  Travel safely!

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First Day of School

I hope everyone’s having a great week so far. I am. I’ve been busier than usual at work, getting ready to leave my current job in mid-April. But I’ll be back (probably.) At my place of employment, you can apply for a temporary reassignment to a different division, different office or different location. If you get it, you essentially get to do a test drive of a new job without having to commit to taking it and without risking being out of your current one! For someone as free wheeling as myself, this is perrrfect. The downside is that my current job is acting like I’m never coming back and, accordingly, are working me like a modern day slave. Still I prevailed in my mission to get in early and get out early, making it home by 5pm.

Today I was able to accomplish yet another step on my path. Remember waaay back in January when I said I wanted to be one of those people who looooved their jobs? Well, I still do. I started blogging to start writing, which I enjoy. I try to do it as often as possible because, as with anything you want to be good at, it takes practice. Like rowing, I enjoy my writing practice. In addition to starting this blog, I decided to enroll in a writing class offered online at UCLA. Today was my first day of school. I’ve never taken an online class and this one isn’t in real time. I can download it whenever I have time, within a 1 week time frame. I have some homework related to this class and I’m excited to do it! I can’t wait for UPS to finally deliver my textbook so that I can get started. It’s so exciting to learn something that I actually want to learn about.

I was talking to one of my brothers on his birthday last week. He’s #3 in the grand scheme o’children. He was an excellent student in high school and into college but stopped going some years ago and didn’t finish. Now he’s gotten his second wind and is enrolled in university to finish up his 4-year degree in computer something. He was telling me how much he enjoyed his classes, and his completely different outlook on school. Once you’ve been working, in jobs that you may or may not like but definitely do not love, going back to school for something you enjoy is a liberating experience. As a result, he’s the star student! He is that guy. You know who I’m talking about.

3 outta 4 brothers. #3, right.

3 outta 4 brothers. #3, right.

Anyone who went to college or a grad program that has part-time students – you know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about the older person in the class who is prepared. Who contributes to the discussion and responds to what the professor asks. Not the slacker 19 year old who shows up just to get credit for attendance. No. This person is coming because they want to learn the subject matter and retain that knowledge for use on the test and in practice. My brother is that person now! He is that guy.

I want to be that person in my UCLA class. My class isn’t part of a degree program; it’s continuing ed. Everyone is there because they want to be there. I’m continuing on my path toward possible career fulfillment. At least I know that if I’m not that person singularly, I’m still aiming to be one of those people in this class.

Viva la vida! (live the life!)

Content and ideas copyright Samee on Everything (2009).

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Metaphor for Life

My sincerest apologies for not being able to post until this evening. My rowing season started on Monday and I’ve been trying my best to adapt to this waking-up-at-4:30am schedule. I think I’m about adjusted now. Maybe.

A good friend of mine told me that the game of baseball was a good metaphor for life. I can’t remember what he said and I don’t feel like thinking about it right now since, as much as I like baseball, I like my rowing example better.

In the sport of rowing, you can row by yourself or with others. Rowing with 2 oars is called sculling. You can scull solo, or with 1, 3, or 7 other people. Rowing where everybody has 1 oar on alternating sides is called sweep rowing. You can sweep with 1, 3, or 7 other people but you can’t sweep row by yourself (unless you just want to row in a circle.)  I am on a competitive women’s sweep rowing team, and I also scull (but not quite competitively.) Prior to joining the team, I learned to scull for one reason — so that I could ditch everyone else.

on a leisurely row up to the starting line at Cap Sprints 2008

on a leisurely row up to the starting line at Cap Sprints 2008

Just like in life, other people are great. It’s nice to have a team of other people around you — there to boost you if you need it, help you out in a bind, pull you through the tough times. But sometimes, if you’re not careful, other people can act like anchors and weigh you down with their problems, needs, bad habits, or dependencies. If you are a friend to these people, you’ll probably want to help them sort out their issues and  provide them with advice. If you don’t want to take on those duties, then get out your sculling oars because you’ll probably want to ditch these people.

Such is life in rowing. When you ditch everybody and row solo, everything – the good, the bad, the ugly – is your fault. Your boat feels heavy? You’re heavy. Your boat is dipping to one side or the other? You are dipping to one side or another. You feel fast and won the race? You were fast and won the race! When rowing with a team, you add the power of others that should make the boat faster. But when rowing with a team, there’s more than power added to the boat. Boat feels heavy? Your eyes may naturally gravitate over to the heaviest person in the boat. Boat feels slow? You’ll find someone doing something to slow down the boat. Basically, with 1, 3, or 7 other people to divvy up the blame for a less than stellar race or practice row, many rowers will often find someone else to dump the blame on.

In life, we often say that other people or circumstances are to blame for our misfortunes or bad decisions. One of the hardest things to do is say to yourself, “Self – that was not a good decision. And look at what’s happened because of that…” It’s hard to turn that pointing finger around and point it at yourself, before accepting what happened and trying not to make that decision again.

Cap Sprints 2008 race, with teammates

Cap Sprints 2008 race, with teammates

Sculling has helped me with that. Now, if I’m out with my teammates and our boat is doing crazy things, the first thing I do is take a mental “systems check.” Am I leaning out? Am I rowing with everyone else? Am I wiggling around? On a morning of a bad practice, if I end up having to cox (steer the boat, call the commands) I remind my boatmates that, “It’s not them — it’s YOU. Fix what you can fix with yourself and you’ll have plenty to do, without worrying about anyone else.”

This is why I think that the sport of rowing is a great metaphor for life. Whether you’re at a point where you’re going it alone or with a team of other people, at the end of the day, it’s YOU. Do what you can to improve your own life and accept help from your team when you need it, but know that you’re accountable for your own decisions.

Content and ideas copyright Samee on Everything (2009).

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My wings have been clipped

I know you all must think I’m a real rollin’ stone, but I’ve just crammed all of my travel into my rowing off-season. And it’s a good thing I got back from PR this week — because rowing starts up on Monday!!! I am super excited to get back on the water and be on a regular (well, if you call getting up at 4:30am, 5 days a week regular) schedule. But, to help me get ready for being on the water here, I decided to be on the water in PR.

rowing starts on monday!!!

rowing starts on monday!!!

I went to San Juan for a few days with Dr. Kaitlyn, my roommate from law school. Dr. K is a swell travelmate and we roll out often. In 2007, we went to Mexico for my birthday and we’ve also been to LA and Miami. Yes. I quite like traveling with Dr. Kaitlyn. Hopefully she’ll be able to make it to DC this spring/summer!! We arrived on Thursday early afternoon to sunny, hazy skies and 80 degree temps. NICE. She said it was 17 when she left Chicago. Talk about appreciative! Thursday was for pool and hot tub, bevs and getting acclimated to the resort.

Friday – what did we do on Friday? Friday really did fly by. Let me think. More pool. More hot tub. We didn’t spend much time on the beach because Dr. K doesn’t like the sand, but also because it was quite windy and I didn’t want to deal with the wind kickin’ up the sand. That sucks! I think we just soaked up some rays. Oh – and it rained part of the day. On Friday, we also scheduled the jet ski water tour of San Juan for Saturday. We ended up going into Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan) later in the day and did a little sightseeing. That was cool. Played a few nickels and quarters worth at the Sheraton casino down there too. I’ll never get those $5 back… 😦

dr. kaitlyn whizzing by El Morro

dr. kaitlyn whizzing by El Morro

Saturday – we left out early (I mean, for vacation) and headed into Viejo San Juan. But on Saturday, while we were out, the jet ski people called to bump us to Sunday at 1pm. We were, however, already in VSJ and decided to do some real sightseeing in our would-be jet ski time. We went to El Morro and the Castillo de San Felipe, a National Park Service historical site. I like visiting historic sights and imagining what it was like when they were in use. People must have been smaller back then, I’m sure. Either that or these off-season weight workouts have me waaay too hulky. We also saw this cemetery that I can’t remember the name of and several plazas. The locals take the phrase “go fly a kite” to heart, and we saw families out on the windy Saturday afternoon flying all kinds of kites.

self-pic at El Morro y Castillo de San Felipe

self-pic at El Morro y Castillo de San Felipe

We also went into the Catedral San Juan Batista. I love visiting cathedrals. My fave place to go in DC is the National Cathedral, but not many people know that. Well…not anymore. There was a wedding taking place, but that didn’t stop the tourists like yours truly from congregating in the back of the cathedral, taking pics and being very quiet.

And on Saturday, we had to hit up the shops! I was on quite the budget for this trip and was VERY well-behaved.  🙂  Sooz Orman would be proud.

Saturday night was party time! We hit up the club at the El San Juan, next door to our hotel. If you ever go, this is the place to go on Saturday nights. It just is. Good times! So good that we were LOSIN’ come Sunday morning. Glad we didn’t book the jet skis for the earlier (11am) slot…

samee & Dr. K. - we be clubbin'

samee & Dr. K. - we be clubbin'

Sunday was the pinnacle of the trip. JET SKI RENTAL!!! This was all Dr. K’s idea. She saw it on TripAdvisor and I agreed to do it. It’s a jet ski tour of San Juan (from the water.) The guy was kinda corny because he kept referring to us as his “pirates”, which got old real quick. But the tour itself was pretty cool. We were around the bay and then out in the ocean. Nice! There is nothing like heading into 8 -10 foot waves on a jet ski! Insanity! If you ever (eva eva eva) go to San Juan, consider doing the jet ski tour of the city. It was awesome!

see samee's sea spray - say that 5 times fast!

see samee's sea spray - say that 5 times fast!

Monday – time to pack up to head back to coldness. But I had to get a few extra rays in! Too bad Mother Nature had other plans for my morning. It rained like a monsoon out there. I went back to sleep for awhile, but ended up going out for about 1-1/2 hours before it was time to leave. Ten minute trip to the airport, the total run-around trying to get checked in, and a connecting flight later, I was back in the cold, dreary Nation’s capital with only my memories of sun and sea spray in my face.

Oh – and my awesome March tan! 🙂

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