On Green Bananas . . .

bananas

There are some people who talk to their grandparents once a week, once a month or only on special occasions. I, however, am the complete opposite. I talk to my grandparents about three times a day – making sure to add every exhilarating detail of my life, like how Harris Teeter never seems to have zucchini in stock.

 Most of my conversations with my grandparents seem to go as follows:

  • How do I know what type of light bulb to buy for a standing lamp?
  • Can you BELIEVE that it cost this much to register your car in DC?
  • If I don’t have buttercream, what can I substitute it with to make banana bread?
  • Wow – Fairmont got a Dunkin’ Donuts … finally!

As you can see, my grandparents are basically my form of Google, except their answers are always a little unpredictable and more hilarious.

When I moved to D.C. on a Capitol Hill staffer’s salary, my family (Stanley included) told me that I was in charge of my own finances. I remember the first paycheck I received and how it was somehow lower than my rent. One would think that I would become good at budgeting, but in fact, I learned that another poor soul living in the city would sublet a walk-in closet from me. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

After four years, you would think that I would learn how to budget money, but, alas, I have not. On one particular day, my conversation with Stanley was about how I never seem to save any money at the end of the month. My priorities are in this precise order: rent, food, dog, food, traveling, wine, and food. Lately (read: usually), my savings account hasn’t seen any deposits.

This would bother some people, but I don’t lose sleep over it.

Most people would tell their children that they need to “be responsible” and “start saving in case of an emergency.”

So, when I called Stanley about my irresponsible spending habits, I expected a conversation like the one above to happen.

To my surprise, Stanley said the following:

You gotta have fun while you can — you could die tomorrow! Heck, at my age, I don’t even buy green bananas anymore.

And that’s when I knew what my New Year’s resolution would be: to save even less and travel even more.

Home(town)less

Coffee

Sometimes I miss home. I miss the way folks know exactly what you want to drink when you go to the local diner. I miss the way that neighborhoods have block parties, and kids run in the middle of the street with no worry of getting hit by a car – because the whole street is there and not a soul is driving. I miss summer on the river, hometown grocery stores, and the fact that in my hometown you can show up to your neighbors’ home unannounced and end up staying for a few hours discussing local news over a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

But, over the past few years, I’ve become a local to a new hometown. I’m officially a big city gal who has a metro card, understands you can’t give directions by using minutes or landmarks (even if you turn left at the church on the corner, and then walk four minutes and you’ll see the restaurant on your right), and has learned the art of training a puppy with no backyard.

In my new hometown, people aren’t as friendly. People push, people shove, people yell and people honk. And it’s really easy to become jaded and to say, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” But no matter how many times I try, I can’t shove someone on the metro or get mad at a kid running too fast on the sidewalk – because everyone has a story, and mostly everyone came here from somewhere else.

So this spring I decided that the best way to cure my homesickness for the kindness and compassion that small towns have to offer was to extend a hand to those in need. I decided to help feed the hungry.

In a city where there are roughly 7,700 homeless persons on any given night, I realized that I couldn’t help every single one, but I could help a few by serving them breakfast. So I took on the task. I was up at 5:00 a.m. and arrived very sleepy and confused, and a tad scared.

But then the coordinator asked, “Can you serve coffee?”

You bet your bottom dollar I can. Growing up in the restaurant business, I can serve coffee over my shoulder with my eyes closed. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration.

“Sugar is over there, coffee is over here. They get three sugars per cup,” she said.

Seems simple enough.

Promptly at 6:30 a.m., the doors swung open and people started walking in. There were elderly folks dressed for church, single moms, single dads, groups of friends, and those by themselves.

“Miss, can I have some coffee?” a man asked.

And every time they asked for coffee, I then asked how many sugars they wanted. And every single person replied with three. Three sugars. Take that in for a moment.

We live in a society where most of us need coffee to get going in the morning. We need a few cups to function, and then by the afternoon, we need a pick-me-up. We spend $5 for a brewed latte with a fancy logo, and we view this as a necessity. How many times have you heard yourself saying, “Hold on, I just need a cup of coffee before I can start this meeting.” I’m sure a lot.

But, here I saw a group of people who would like a cup of coffee, and they would also like three sugars because they don’t get the luxury of having this everyday. Something so simple, like sugar with your coffee is a thing that every hometown takes for granted.

I asked each person how his or her day was going and learned a lot from each person I spoke with. One man played the piano for the guests, and we learned who liked blues music, who liked oldies, and who could dance really well. We learned each other’s names, who likes grits and who likes bacon, and we learned who the favorite basketball team was in the room. And we learned all of this from who likes sugar with their coffee, which made me feel like I was home for a little bit.

An Ode to 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2015 has come and gone. With every year that passes, I like to reflect and realize the growth, struggles, and laughs that have come along with it.

I’m super excited for 2016, because 1) quite frankly, this year has been a roller coaster, and 2) I turn 25!

Here are the tales of my year, with all of the fortune and misgivings included.

January

I started the year celebrating with my best gals in Pittsburgh. I should have known it was going to be an interesting year when two of my friends ended up 60 miles outside of the city in the middle of the night. If we were looking for a sign that things may go a little off course for the rest of the year, this was it.

NYE

February  

Valentine’s Day … the holiday that all girls (and guys, too, I suppose) either love or dread. While the winter was FRIGID, I was cozied up in a small basement at one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Pasta, wine and tiramisu are guaranteed to help you fall in love. Gentlemen, take note.

March

Who decides to go on a bar crawl without a phone? This gal. Navigating the streets of D.C. are hard enough, but adding a few glasses of booze into your system makes it nearly impossible. While at the end of my crawl (which happened to be at approximately 4:30 p.m.), I realized I had Sally’s number memorized. Thanks to Harris Teeter’s rewards program. Instead of saving me, Sally proceeded to join in on the fun. And we all came out alive.

Sally

April

April was full of firsts … especially for my Nonna. The sassy little lady came to visit D.C. for the first time! We went out on the town, and I ordered an Uber black car, because I want people to think my life is together. I told Nonna that the Uber was arriving, and when she saw it she exclaimed, “Dev, you doin’ so GOOD.” The Uber continued to drop us off at a restaurant, we had a wonderful meal, and I ordered another car. WHATDOYAKNOW, the same Uber arrived.

Nonna screamed, “You just been drivin’ ‘round?” And the Uber driver replied, “Well, yes ma’am.” Once we got home, Nonna looked at the driver and screamed, “HUBER, YOU GO HOME NOW. WE ARE GOIN’ TO BED.”

She then looked at me and said, “Dev, I didn’t know your job paid you SO GOOD.”

Note: This is one way to trick your grandparents into thinking you are rich.

May

Folks, I traveled to Europe with Elizabeth and Sally. That is the short version.

The long version includes staying in hostels, drinking the bar out of Amstel, making friends, falling in love, seeing the Queen of England (gasp), missing flights, getting lost in Amsterdam, running into concrete barriers, seeing nakey gals in the Red Light district, being questioned by TSA three times, and more adventures that I possibly cannot name. Because what happens in Europe stays in Europe. Except for Sally’s relationship status … that changed ;).

Amsterdam

June

Oh, the month of heartbreak. Literally. June was a scary month. My grandpa, whom I adore beyond words, had a heart attack and then was rushed into triple bypass surgery. I rushed home and made it to the hospital in time to see Stanley and talk to him before his surgery. He was wheeled away, and after a few moments of prayer, we went into the waiting room to await news from the doctor.

Here’s the thing about heart attacks – they happen so quickly that it instantly bonds a family together. Stanley is the rock of our family – the one everyone goes to when they need something fixed, whether it is in their house or their life. For six hours, my family and closest friends waited and laughed, waited and cried. We were there for Stanley just as he has always been there for us.

The doctor came out and told us everything was A-OK, and we all let out a deep sigh. And in case anyone is wondering, Stanley graduated first in his cardio therapy class because he is just THAT badass.

July

There is something special about being in D.C. during the Fourth of July. And by something special, I mean it’s actually fantastic and nutso crazy. Instead of partaking in the festivities, I played Apples to Apples with my friend Katie and her parents as we drank three bottles of wine. And if that doesn’t scream MURICA, then I don’t know what does.

August

Have you ever scheduled a bachelorette weekend in Pittsburgh with 11 gals? You should try it. Laughter will be guaranteed. My best friend FOREVER, Rachel, decided the only way to properly celebrate marriage is by taking over a city. Festivities included, but not limited to, horrible dancing in fancy clubs, breaking hotel showers, Luke Bryan concerts, and matching t-shirts.

Rachel

September

September was a scene out of Steel Magnolias. At the beginning of the month, I celebrated Rachel and Bradley’s marriage with a perfect ceremony and a reception. Later that week, my grandma passed away from ovarian cancer. I then found out my parents were getting a divorce. All the feelings.

If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Rachel spent her one-week anniversary comforting and laughing with me. Old friends are truly the best friends.

October 

I love my Chi Omega sisters. Joining Chi Omega was, by far, the best decision I made in college. My pledge class BFFs try to get together twice a year, and this year’s reunion happened to be in D.C. over Halloween weekend. For a slight moment in time, we were 19 years old and we were at a themed party. To add to the nostalgia, Laura even lost her phone. Some things never change (except our alcohol tolerance…)

November

When is your life is already hectic, what do you do? You buy a puppy. I welcomed sweet Murphy into my life and instantly said goodbye to my sleep schedule. Murphy is a three-month-old Labradoodle who loves cuddling, his bone, and peanut butter treats.

While Murphy is adjusting to city life, I am adjusting to puppyhood. It’s not easy, but we’re in this together for the long run. Devin + Murphy Furever.

Murphy

December

THE LAST MONTH. I have never been so excited to welcome December. Even though it’s not officially over, I am ending this year on a bang. There’s approximately two more weeks of work, and then Murph and I are making the long trek back to West Virginia. From there, I will be flying to Paris followed by Copenhagen with Katie and will returning back to the states at the beginning of January.

Au revoir, 2015!

 

 

Brunch … Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It

IMG_2465Bottomless brunching – the act of eating your favorite benedict and/or waffles and/or M.Y.O.O. (also known as make your own omelet) while drinking your favorite mimosa that you can never seem to finish.

Does that seem like a lot? It is.

I like to brunch. In fact, “like” may not be the best way to describe my feelings towards brunch.

I have never felt towards a person what I feel towards brunch. There, I said it. Judge me.

This summer I have had my fair share of birthday brunches, going away brunches, “Congrats, you got a raise” brunches, break-up brunches, and “We survived the week” brunches. At this point, I don’t even need an excuse to drink champagne from noon ‘til night.

But people, Jesus spoke to me in the form of a cab driver.

Monday night I was going somewhere and it was raining, so naturally I ordered an Uber (and this is why I’m poor.) As soon as I hopped in, the driver looked at me and screamed, “I KNOW YOU. HOW DO I KNOW YOU? YOU’RE THE GAL FROM WEST VIRGINIA.”

At this point, I was all like Um, I think you have me mixed up with some other gal, who may or may not look like me, and I realize I’m rambling soI’mreallysorryforwhateverIdid, OK?

And then he started laughing and replied, “I PICKED YOU UP FROM BRUNCH… AND YOU WERE SO DRUNK.”

Can you give me more information, because this is basically every weekend, Sir. And, why are you screaming? Stop.

Kelvit (his name) goes, “IT WAS YOUR FRIEND’S GOING AWAY PARTY.”

Again, I’ve had a lot of people leave me, so can you be more specific.

 “YOU HAD JUST GONE ON A DATE.”

Oh, Saturday, July 19. Katie’s going away party. Yes, I was super drunk. So drunk that I fell asleep in her office after brunch. I totally remember you, Kelvit.

This whole time I thought Kelvit was judging me for not remembering him, my brunch, or my whole Saturday, for that fact, but as I went to leave he stopped me. He then handed me a paper with his number on it and told me to call him whenever I needed a ride home from brunch.

Just when you think the world is too big …

Side note: I will be abstaining from pancakes with a side of booze for a long, long time.

The Great Adventure

The time has finally come. After two long years, my Noni is finally trekking to D.C. to visit the city and take in all it has to offer (and mainly see her only grandchild.)

In preparation of her arrival, I have realized that 1) I am going to have to have something planned every minute of every day.

Which, in theory, shouldn’t be too hard considering D.C. has a plethora of activities to take part in. However, my Noni has explicitly stated that she does not want to see any monuments, museums, or historical sites and that she will not partake in public transportation. Oh, and she also made it very clear that she wants to go to Georgetown and eat macarons . . . because that is all this city has to offer. 

Continuing.

I have also realized that 2) my Uber bill is probably going to be around $500 a day. And 3) my apartment must be really, really clean.

So in preparation, I have mopped my floors twice, vacuumed, cleaned out the shower (that she will not see) and reorganized my drawers just in case the sweet lady decides to look through my dresser (ya never know.)

Also, sweet Noni also asked if she could go in the White House and if she could meet some important Members of Congress. Sure. Let me pull this one off.

She specifically asked if she could meet the Speaker of the House. Okay.

If anyone has any recommendations for our weekend together that doesn’t involve walking, drinking, or sightseeing, please help a sista out.

I’m Addicted and I Just Can’t Get Enough

There a few things that just melt my heart – grandpas, puppies, penguins in sweaters, Girl Scouts . . . shall I go on?

As you know, Girl Scout cookie season is upon us. It’s the best time of the year. During the long, cold winters, my body literally begins to shut down if I don’t supply it with cookies. Like clockwork, I begin to crave a combination of mint, peanut butter, coconut and chocolate. I wake up in the mornings and my stomach actually growls, “TAGALOOONGGGSSS.”

Don’t act like yours doesn’t.

This past week, little Scouts have been stalking me. No matter where I go, I see a tiny human that says, “I only need to sell three more boxes to reach my goal. Can you help me, pleeeeasseee?” Yes, of course. I will take 5 boxes of tagalongs.

Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout. However at the ripe age of 9, I realized that I was never going to make it in sales. I remember going from door to door trying to convince my sweet grandpa-neighbors to buy Thin Mints. They would politely say “no,” and that they already had promised Little Susie that they would buy cookies from her. Thus, my parents would buy all of the cookies, and my grandma ended up getting diabetes. THANKS, OBAMA.

So, I vowed to never be one of those grown-ups. Anytime a child comes to me and asks me to buy cookies, I oblige.

Which is starting to become a problem, because as of today I have bought 26 boxes of cookies. Yes, you read that correctly. I have 20 boxes of Thin Mints, 4 boxes of Tagalongs and 2 boxes of Samoas. People, help me. Teach me how to say “no.”

It’s quite hilarious, so you have permission to laugh. In the meantime, if you want some cookies just hollah.

Ice, Ice Baby

It all started when my friend Elizabeth and I decided that Sunday, January 25th would be the perfect day to go ice-skating. We slipped on some leggings, found some earmuffs, and convinced Sally that it wasn’t that hard.

While contemplating our fate over a hot cider that may or may not have been spiked with Fireball, Sally warned us that she really didn’t know how to balance (which I should have accounted for, considering she cannot walk without tripping. Also, she would attest to this statement, so I don’t feel bad for publicly shaming her.)

We laced up our skates, tucked in our laces, and headed to the ice. I must say that Sally was picking up on the technique. Everything was going so well that I thought we may have an Olympian on our hands, UNTIL . . . (Note: You know there is a plot twist when someone adds any of the following words: “but,” “until,” and “then.”)

Back to the original story. UNTIL . . . a small child who was wearing pink pajamas, which is another story, decided to skate underneath Sally’s legs. If you have many questions regarding that sentence, it’s O.K. I’m assuming your questions go as follows: 1) Why did said child skate UNDER Sally? 2) Why was said child wearing pink pajamas? 3) Where were said child’s parents?

WE ALL WERE WONDERING THE SAME THINGS.

Needless to say, Sally fell. And by that, I actually mean her legs came out from under her, she was in the air for about .3 seconds, and she broke the fall with her wrist. Had we been scoring this performance, I would have given her a 10.

After a trip to the doctor, we learned that said child’s failed attempt at being Kristi Yamaguchi successfully dislodged bones in my roommate’s wrist. The doctor politely told Sally that she would only have to wear a cast for a month and they had an array of colors to choose from. Because that makes it better. 

Sally not so politely told the doctor that she was calling his bluff. After a slight argument over which one knew more about bones, the doctor won and Sally surrendered by saying, “Well then, I want black . . . like my soul.”

The good news (if there is any) is that Sally does not have to undergo surgery and her parents did not hunt me down and murder me. Oh, and she can still drink wine. Priorities.