Party Time

I guess we’ve all shaken off our first-month-of-summer lethargy.* Now the party season begins. I do love this time of year–backyard barbecues, mid-week evening parties at friends’ homes, Sunday brunches, baby showers, bridal showers, a wedding or two, and in general lots of good quality time spent with friends and family. I look forward to this time of year, especially on those bone-chilling cold days in February when you start to wonder if you’ll ever thaw out again.

Now the summer party season (if one can call it a season) is a lot of fun, yes. But it comes with its fair share of Dangers. To protect the unsuspecting from said dangers, I have compiled a list of warnings for the party attendee.

1) Partying may cause loss of sleep, which increases the risk of: hitting the snooze button every 8 minutes for an hour; arriving late to work and spilling coffee/dropping lunch/tripping over your own feet/walking into your boss’s office to tell him something and promptly forgetting what the heck it was; dizziness; and possibly increased chocolate intake.

2) Partying has been known to deplete bank accounts. Proceed with caution.

3) Excessive partying (more than three in one week) can cause brain damage, up to and including memory loss. The hard-core party-goer may wish to invest in a planner to prevent unwanted side effects of said brain damage (such as: showing up at the wrong house for the wrong party on the wrong day; forgetting to RSVP; and forgetting which side dish one has agreed to provide.)

4) Partying increases the risk of Gossip. (For where two or three–especially of the female persuasion—are gathered for any reason whatever, there conversation about other people is also.) Stockpile convenient and subtle methods for changing the subject. These can include: “Speaking of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, just last week my uncle bought shares in…”; noisy yawns punctuated with, “Goodness, so sorry. All these parties. I’ve been getting, like, no sleep”; sudden fits of laughter; and, in extreme cases, blood-curdling screams and/or seizures.

5) Extroverted party-goers may lose their tolerance for moments of Quiet and Solitude after too many parties in a row. It is suggested that the extrovert engage in some solitary activity for at least half an hour before or after any party to restore equilibrium.

6) Introverted party-goers run risks of shut-down, snappishness, weight-gain, and/or mild depression. It is suggested that the introvert turn down at least one invitation per five invitations to reduce the risk of these side effects.  

 7) Partying may lead to sudden shopping sprees, when the party-goer decides she just can’t take another hour spent trying on every article of clothing in her closet and goes out in search of a cute outfit.

8) Partying may cause weight gain. The party-goer is advised to take it easy at the snack table…maybe eat dinner beforehand.

9) Partying has been known to cause jealousy and discontentedness, when the party-goer: starts comparing him or herself with others; finds out about other parties to which he or she was not invited; tells jokes that don’t make anyone laugh; discovers that the object of his or her affections is not interested, or is more interested in Someone Else; allows him or herself to wallow for any amount of time in self-pity. Be aware of these side effects. It is recommended that the party-goer find the most left out person in the room and engage him or her in conversation until negative feelings go away. If the party-goer happens to be that most left out person, he or she should either a) suck it up and push their way into a conversation; b) find out if there is anything he or she can do to help the host; or c) if all else fails, smile, call it a night, and head home.

10) Partying may cause one to fall out of touch with parents, siblings, and long-distance friends. To avoid this pitfall, make phone dates, or call early in the day. (Mothers do not take kindly to the excuse, “Sorry I haven’t called. There have been so many parties…”)

 The party attendee is urged to proceed with caution…and enjoy the rest of the party season.

*Refers to the first month or so of summer, when people retreat into their various cocoons to recover from the ever-frenzied spring/end of the school year.

 

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Domestic Adventures

“An adventure,” G. K. Chesterton once said, “is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”

I recited this to myself through gritted teeth last night as I bagged up and threw away all the food left in my refrigerator/freezer, which stopped working at some point between Friday morning when I left for work and Saturday morning when my visiting brother went to the freezer for ice and returned empty-handed.

“Um,” he said, sitting down at the table across from me with his glass of lukewarm water. “Is your freezer supposed to be cold?”

Ah, the things we take for granted.

The “adventure” part has been plotting my work schedule so I can be home when the repair man comes to fix it this afternoon, creating meals from non-perishables (apples and pasta, anyone?), and determining the most effective way to maximize space in my tiny cooler so I can save at least some of the perishable stuff. (You should know, by the by, that ice is very wet when it melts. And it leaves puddles on the floor, which are quite unpleasant to step in with bare feet.)

This is only an adventure.

I will never take modern technology for granted again.

 

Happy Monday

“How was your weekend?”

It’s Monday in the office, and that question is in the air. It’s the only regularly exchanged “pleasantry” here that we all actually mean. Remembering the weekend makes Monday morning bearable, somehow. Even those with the worst case of “the Mondays” brighten up at least a little bit when you remind them that Saturday happened.

I really enjoyed my weekend (though I can’t remember the last time I didn’t enjoy a weekend…). My brother came for a brief visit, and and he and I spent time with our sister and new brother-in-law. I attended a bridal shower (although I have to take them in small doses, I do love a good girl party now and then), and then saw a friend perform in a play at a local theater. Then there was some socializing with friends until far too late, and then (perhaps best of all) I spent Sunday afternoon and evening with one of my very dearest friends.

I got to do some thinking in snatches here and there. I thought about friendships and relationships and how good/odd/frightening/frustrating/wonderful they are. I thought about how nice it is to gather good people together to enjoy one another’s company. I thought about how I really ought to try to sleep a bit more on the weekends (but there’s always so much to do). I thought about the way there is nothing better than good conversation (with the exception, of course, of good prayer. Then again, that’s just the best form of conversation, so I think the point stands…).

And I thought about laughter. Weekends are good times to laugh, and I did quite bit of that this weekend. I wonder what it is in laughter that sets the soul free. I remember my spiritual director asking me in our very first meeting a couple years ago, “Are you able to laugh at yourself?,” and I was a little bit surprised by the question. I ask myself that now, though, often. It’s only when you lose that ability to laugh–especially at yourself–that situations become bleak.

I’m so grateful for weekends. They’re such a great reminder that we are not made for work.

Now it’s back to Monday. And even that is good. I love hitting the ground running, refreshed after a couple days away. Time to conquer a new week.

Happy Monday!

Help!

Need…new…recipes…

I threw romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, and a piece of flatbread into a bag and called it lunch for the umpteenth time today and thought, “I seriously need some new recipes.”

So please, if you have any suggestions: post! (Dishes not involving chicken are always a good thing. I don’t know why I have this bias against that particular meat; it’s not that I don’t like it, I do. It’s just that I never follow recipes when using it. It’s the “throw-together” meat, not something I take any care with.)

Thanks!

Missed Connections

Confession: I sometimes read the “missed connections” section of Craigslist, just for kicks. I find the way other human beings interact with one another, and the way they attempt to manipulate their social existence through cryptic (and anonymous) postings on a site frequented by untold millions, frankly fascinating. Besides, I think I’m waiting for the day when someone posts something charming and non-sexual, like, “To the elderly gentleman in the gray sport coat who sat reading the Washington Times over his bagel and coffee this morning in the Au Bon Pain on H Street and North Capitol: I hope you had a terrific day.” Or maybe, “You stepped back and let me get on the metro ahead of you during rush hour this evening at Gallery Place. We were both taking the yellow line toward Huntington. I was touched by your thoughtfulness. Too many people push their way to the front. Thank you.” And not, “Saw u getting on th metro at Foggy Bott. U had on a pink sweater. U r so hott!!! Post back and tell me what I was wearing so we can see if this goes someplace.”

In all seriousness, I think reading those Craigslist ads reminds me of how good I’ve got it when it comes to friends. I fall too easily into the trap of thinking that other people have these rip-roaring active social lives, that no one else ever struggles with feeling lonely or a little bit abandoned. But it’s not true at all, is it? We all struggle with that. And in the case of so many people, it’s not just a feeling–it’s the reality.

This state in life for us singles is a period of constant flux, and nothing changes faster than our social lives. I think it’s important to set that aspect of your life in a separate category altogether from “friends” and “community.” Social life can involve friends–and it should–but if you think of the two as synonymous, you’re in for trouble. It takes little effort to throw on a cute outfit and get together with a bunch of people to hang out. It certainly doesn’t require that you know the people you’re with on any personal level. You laugh, you talk, you flirt a little, you have a great time, you go home. After two or three outings with the same crowd you switch it up to keep things interesting. You get phone numbers, you become friends on Facebook, you text and message people for a little while, then you move on. Every now and then, though, someone “sticks.” Thus friendships begin. As a process, it works out okay. But there are days when it just rings a little bit hollow.

It hit me earlier this week, as I made up my half of the guest list for our upcoming housewarming party, how quickly our social circles change. This time one year ago, I didn’t even know most of the people I spend the bulk of my time with now. Currently I am out of touch with more than half the people I hung out with on any regular basis last year. And I can’t remember the last time I contacted anyone I spent time with two summers ago. C’est le vie: it is the nature of the “social life.” But that doesn’t mean one can’t regret the way things pass.

Of course the closest friends have remained the same, and in one or two cases we’ve even grown closer during these two years. But there’s still a little tug of regret (and yes, a little bit of guilt) over all those others. All further reminders that nothing lasts forever.

I got to thinking about how those relationships ended. Some had to be cut off; they were painful choices, but I still believe the decision was right. Personalities, expectations, desires were in conflict. Others fizzled out naturally; maybe we both got busy, or moved a bit farther away, or got caught up in other relationships. And others aren’t really “over,” they’re just non-priorities. We send occasional emails and talk in a hazy way about getting together “sometime” to catch up. It’ll probably never happen, and we both know it, but we still sigh after the possibility, true to form.

Things come and go. Places, events, periods in our lives, and yes–people. I catch myself thinking, “If only I had someone, I wouldn’t have to worry about this anymore.” (“This” being, I suppose, the temporariness of all my human interactions.) But that’s not really the case at all; the loss would just be that much more poignant when it finally came. And I don’t say all this to be morose. In fact, I have to laugh…to laugh at the way the answer is always the same. We thirst for eternity, and we’re immersed in the temporal. It’s always God, at bottom. God at the end of it all, sitting back with his arms crossed and not saying a word, just waiting for you to stumble upon him and figure it out for yourself.

But maybe it’s that sense of regret that draws me to Craigslist’s “missed connections” every now and again. We all have our regrets–some, granted, far more absurd than others. (I’m not pining after the “cute guy in the blue polo shirt at Starbucks in Largo this morning. He had beautiful eyes. We shared a look, but I was too shy to say hi. Wish I had.”) Beyond regret, we have that urge to make things permanent that are only meant to be passing. It’s okay to let things go. It’s okay to keep moving. The end is not here. And it truly is all good.

Tourists

I love sitting near families of tourists for the metro ride home on summer evenings. They’re exhausted, excited, hot and sweaty, and generally just a little bit lost. They clamber on board in a flurry of noisy conversation and laughter, sweat, shopping bags, and backpacks, and most of them throw themselves onto the nearest available seats, while one stands guard near the system map and peers at it periodically, calling out at each stop, “Three more!” “Two more!” “We’re next!” And they talk noisily about monuments and presidents and where they should go for dinner. It’s so real and all-American and good.

Besides, I love being reminded of family and summer vacations and good times even as I make my weary way home from work. And it’s such a nice break from the usual tired and cranky crowd of commuters I travel with at the end of a long work day.

Thank you, tourists, for keeping D.C. interesting–and human.