Merry and Bright

Where did we leave off?


Ah yes, the disappointing White House Tree.





Saturday night, we managed to make it to the tree before ten PM. (I know, I’m great at posting things super quick, but if you’re going to complain, then don’t look at the pictures. Your loss.)

It was pouring rain, and freezing, but this tree was beautiful.




In November 1923, Fist Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia public schools to erect a Christmas tree on the Ellipse south of the White House, to be known as the “National Christmas Tree.” That Christmas Eve, at 5 pm, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse and “pushed the button” to light the tree, donated by Middlebury College. The tree was harvested from the President’s native state of Vermont. From 1924 to 1953, live trees were lit on Christmas Eve.

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In 1954, the ceremony expanded its focus to include smaller trees, representing the states, District of Columbia, and the territories forming a “Pathway of Peace.” These trees are decorated with ornaments created by students at a chosen school in each state. I managed to snag a picture of the Pennsylvania tree. It may not look like much, but trust me: the ornaments were much more colorful than some of the other states (I attribute our superiority to the fact that we’re actually a commonwealth.)


This year’s centerpiece tree was a Colorado Blue Spruce from northwester Virginia (misleading name, huh?) cut down on October 27 th. I find it amazing that this little tidbit of information is on the sign nearby, but not how tall the tree is. Go figure.

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Of course, there’s an expansive train set and village surrounding the tree. Amazing.

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The weather attempted to deter my master photography skills (pfft),  but I was not having it. I immediately regretted taking this photo..   


But alas! Santa saved the day!


We ventured into what I can confidently say was a spectacular recreation of Santa’s workshop. And were greeted by the most enthusiastic and happy (and attractive. seriously, where do they find these girls?) elves in the District.

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There was only one way to end the night. And that was with.. NUTCRACKERS!

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Of course, Erika made some friends..

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All in all, a wonderful (albeit cold and wet) end to the semester.



Rent and Disappointment

The semester is over! I survived my first 110 days as a graduate student. Now what?


ZOOLIGHTS, that’s what!

Our adventure included a wide variety of animals, some organic and others a little more.. electric (boogey woogie woogie).

Flamingos                    Anteater

R Owls     R Lizard     R Croc
Owls                                                                                          Weird Lizard Guy                                                             Crocodile

Lang Game
he ape house had a neat little language game experiment.
Of course, we had to try it out.

R Another not monkey                    Bear Cub
Some super fuzzy guy                                                                                            

Zebras     Waterfall     Toucan

Tigers                    Seal 

Panda                    Panda 2
Cute, cuddly panda bears (BTW, they named the new baby!)

R Turtle 1

Moving on…

R Not a monkey      R Not a monkey 3      R Not a monkey 2
Much better..

Ocean 2                    Ocean 1
onestly, the under-the-sea theme was strange to me, until I saw the TURTLES

R Turtle 5      R Turtle 4      R Turtle 3

Monkeys                    Monkey2
                                                                                                                                  Of course, Erika had to hug the orangutan

Kyles stoma
k, let’s take a brief intermission to talk about the best thing ever. The orangutan at the National Zoo, Kyle, has a stoma! It’s such a speechie thing to get excited about but OH MY GOD THIS APE HAS A STOMA CAN I PLEASE JUST HANG OUT WITH HIM?!

Gorillas sleeping                    Dinosaur
One of these things is not like the other…

Mole Rats                    R Mole Rats
Story time (part dos): To your left, you see some pretty lights. To your right, you see this animal in its much less cute, and more real, form. Both sets of naked mole rats are getting the same amount of “stuff” accomplished. Those to the left are giving off light and providing joy to children. Those to the right are giving UP. One of them (call me racist, but they all look the same to me), spent about ten minutes trying to get into the tube. Instead, he ran head first into the wall. Let me repeat.. this rat ran headfirst into a wall without stopping for TEN straight minutes. When his friend finally helped him out (I assume), he just lay there. Victorious, yet defeated all at once. They were still there when we left.

Iguana                    R Small lizard

  R Cuddly (2)      Groundhog      R Cuddly
These pictures don’t match, I know. But these little cuddle guys were just too cute and I can’t remember their names.

Elephants                    Elephant 1

Dodo Bird                    R Bird
I think one is extinct. The other is a ball of awesome.

Butterfly     R Dwarf Sheep      R Porcupine
Let me take a minute to map this out for you.
Left: butterfly and flowers, normal things.
Middle: a DWARF sheep! Literally, it’s an even cuter version of a cute thing.
Right: A porcupine. Pretending to be asleep. He kept peeking, but closed his eyes when he saw people standing there. 

R SlothAnd of course, for Gina, the hiding sloth. 

As if our night had not been so spectacular, we decided to top it off with a visit to the White House Christmas tree. Now, kids, here’s a lesson: Quite while you’re ahead. When we got there, we were greeted by a wonderfully lit tree in the distance. It was 9:59.
When we had trekked across the lawn and were approaching the tree, ready to draw our cameras and capture the beauty before us:
Z Dark Tree

The clock struck 10:01. The jolly man running the tree kindly kicked everyone out and shouted something along the lines of too bad, the tree closes at ten. Happy Holidays! Oh wait, I ruined your night? Oh well, hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Our night thoroughly dampened, we boarded the metro. As the doors closed, a small commotion occurred. A young man let out an exasperated sigh. His friend just looked dejected.

Z No shoe

Oh yeah, and he only had one shoe.

So, when life gets you down, remember: At least you didn’t lose your shoe in a fight with the metro doors. Because, it’s true what they say: Those doors don’t stop for anyone. 

My First Time

Adventures in live blogging,

The Sound of Music. Let’s go.

8:08 – Movie is still paused. Gina is finishing her drink and we can’t start until we’re all in jammies. This is our life.
8:14 – Fiona the cat is wagging her tail like a dog. Still paused.
8:15 – This is now “not-so-live” blogging.
8:16 – Play!   Wait..opera?
8:19 – First mention of these “hills.” Are they alive?
8:20 – Yes. Yes, they are.
8:24 – Maria is a problem..
8:28 – You can’t sing?! But.. it’s Carrie Underwood!
8:30 – The song order is different, so I’ve been told
8:32 – LEAVE?!
8:34 – Erika is upset that the script has changed. This is serious.
8:35 – Fast forwarding through the commercials. Much better than really live shows.
8:25 – Getting a history lesson about Austria and the Nazis.
8:40 – Thanks to Barbara’s phone call, I’m missing most of this movie.
8:41 – God, this whistle is annoying.
8:44 – Everybody sings! Except nuns apparently..
8:45 – La, a note to follow Sol. How lazy.
8:48 – This is a lot of music lesson for a movie. Seems a bit unnecessary, doesn’t it?
8:49 – Seems a bit convenient that there’s one child for each for each note. I smell a conspiracy. Captain father did this on purpose didn’t he?

8:52 – Second commercial break. Erika seems disgusted.
8:53 – Fiona joins us. We’re only half an hour into this movie. A quarter way through. It’s going to be a long night.
8:59 – The birthday song. This guy is actually pretty creepy, following her around the dark woods and singing about taking care of her. I would not suggest pursuing this romance, girl.
There is a lack of gazebo.
Wait, I thought this girl had never sung before? How does she know the words to the creepy boy woods song?
9:03 – Dead wife. What a convenient plot element.
9:07 – and she yodels. I think I’m going to start yodeling during storms. My roommates would love me.
9:09 – and they can dance?! if there’s no music, they can’t have learned how to dance…!

9:11 – More commercials. Carrie is amazing. American Idol has gone downhill since then.
9:12 – this mom looks like a bitch.
“I feel like they should all have German accents” Picky, picky..
9:15 – By the time their voices changed, they were rich enough to live in America.
9:16 – This song was in the original musical, but not the movie. I don’t know if that’s a pro or a con.
9:19 – Nazis!!!!!
9:25 – How touching. Vampire Bill, now he will eat them all..

9:29 – More commercials. Fast forward saves the day again.
9:30 – This dancing is awfully dramatic.
9:33 – What aren’t they in love yet? Bitchy woman seems unimpressed.
9;34 – “I don’t remember anymore” translates roughly to “I want your hands on my body and its not Godly.”
9:35 – That cameraman messed up, out of focus. He’s fired now.
9:39 – That’s an incorrect use of “Adeiu.”
9:41 – She’s leaving! But she has to take care of these kids?! What are you doing Maria!? Stay for the kids!
9:42 – He’s got a secret wall that opens to the abbey. That’s strange.

Annnddd.. commercials.
9:45 – The only woman in the world to never want to be in love..
9:47 – The reverend mother is a Jamaican opera singer.

9:50 – More commercials. We’re out of fast forward. Back to real-live blogging.
9;51 – This is the most adorable commercial EVER!
9:53 -The child’s balls have clearly not dropped.  and this is a strange game.
9:54 – Gina feels drunk. Ho boy.
9:55 – This is where I pay. This is not where you pay.
9:56 – Gina is already forgetting what she wants to say.

10:03 – Don’t snack, you might just be tired or lonely, not hungry. Should we really be taking advice from a bathroom stall?
10:06 – Lemon flavored salted apricots

10:13 – Oh, now he sings..?
10:16 – The Jamaican nun convinced her to come back!  and she has new, motherly hair. hooray!
10:18 – You left with no explanation. It was your hot body. It drove me away.
10:21 – Gina has a huge boner, you just can’t see it. “I like when anyone massages my anything.”
10:22 – Oh, she gets a song? Everyone does, it’s a musical. Wait, what?! This is a new song?!
Is sasha this chick or Carrie Underwood? Clearly, Carrie Underwood.
10:27 – I didn’t know this was a love story..
10:29 – Men don’t actually offer you the world. Ever. Not even after the first kiss. This is unrealistic.
10:33 – That wedding dress is hideous. But its ok, because she’s Carrie Underwood.
10:34 – Are they really singing this song at her wedding?
10:35 – More secret walls

10:39 – I think this movie could have ended at the wedding.
10:42 – This movie is so long. I’m losing interest.
10:49 – I’ve lost track of this movie. He doesn’t want to be a Nazi, so they sing? Ok.
10:50 – That’s a five to one ratio of jam and bread.
10:51 – Erika tries to explain what really happened.
10:52 – He gets shot in this version, no one ever told you. Right in front of the kids.
10:54 – “Forgot they got married.”

10:56 – Von Trapps, get the fuck out!

11:00 Storm troopers?! BLOG THAT GINA!…I’m serious
11:05 – Finished. I don’t even know…

NaBloPoMo: I failed.

I put up a strong fight, but just couldn’t make it the full 30 days. 
The kicker was my trip back to West Chester for Thanksgiving week. Threw me right off schedule.’

Oh well, I celebrated my first Channukah, had a nice Thanksgiving dinner, enjoyed a whole week off of school, and got to see my friends.

So, really. I won. 

NaBloPoMo: Live Blogging

A night in the life of Erika, Gina, and Sasha.. As live blogged from my dying phone.

Scene: We’re going to a free pie/comedy show at some place called The Dunes. None of us have ever been there. 

6:22 Put on our matching cheetah shirts, ready to go.
6:27 Arrive at the station to see the Red line pulling in. Erika realizes she needs to refill her smart card. Miss the train.
6:28 Take a train going the opposite way.
6:31 Make it one stop, train is out of service. Get stuck at Rhode Island Ave and wonder why we went in this direction in the first place.
6:34 Get on another train.
6:35 We’re now stopped behind the first train, which is out of service. Debate how late we are willing to be. 
6:39 “In case you are wondering, we have a down circuit at Silver Springs. The train you were just on will be heading back to Shady Grove. We will be on our way to Glenmont momentarily.”
6:40 Curse the red line.
6:41 … and we’re off!
6:43 Miss our transfer by about four seconds.
6:48 Gina finds prospects.
6:49 They’re weird, one has a bulge. Turns out to be a glove.
6:54 Finally board the train. Keep in mind, the show starts at seven.
6:55 Discuss the green-ness of Iceland. My world is turned upside down when I learn it’s not always green.
7:00 Finally get off the metro
7:13 Arrive where the directions say we should be. It does not exist. Two scary men in a car knock on the window at us. We pretend to be Deaf and walk away (briskly).
7:16 It was this way…

7:17 Hipster kid at the door checks our IDs and takes our money. He can’t do math.
7:18 This place is so cute, loving it.
7:20 Oh. My. God. There is actually pie.
7:22 Meet Ben, mock his pie choice, chose the same thing.
7:23 Realize we’re at a comedy show in an art gallery, how DC of us.
7:27 “The only thing that could make this more hipster was if these were organic pies”
7:29 Notice the Whole Foods napkins.
7:32 Procure adult beverages
7:33 Gag on the bourbon
7:38 Ben may have a sister. 

7:48 Gina takes the last piece of pecan pie. We await the riots.
7:53 Trying to perfect the nose twitch. People probably think we have Tourette’s.
8:00 Gina finishes her first cup of punch
8:04 She shares the story of her first kiss. We giggle like school girls.
8:05 “It’s so visually quiet in here”
8:10 I lose my straw.
8:14 Finally starting, forgot I had to clap.

8:20 Agree that banana creme is the worst pie ever. 
8:27 “Your birthday is the only thing true about you.” Deep
8:54 Lust after this comedian

Phone dies. We laugh.

After the show, I try to look out the window and smash my face into it. 
I announce to the room and no one in general, “yes, boys, I am single and up for grabs.” 
I realize how wonderfully awkward I am. 

We go home, we hug, I’m in bed by 11:30.
Amazing night? Check. 

NaBloPoMo: Fright Night

Prompt: Photographers, artists, poets: show us FRIGHTENING.
This one is a little different because it comes from WordPress itself (themselves? herself?).

But, to me, THIS is frightening:


That’s my day planner, for the week following the end of the semester. It’s empty. It looks just like that for weeks following this page.

What am I going to do with myself? I need to be busy. I need to be interacting and doing people things.

Scary stuff, seeing those pages all blank..

NaBloPoMo: I, Robot.

Prompt: How much of the day are you plugged in? Do you consciously set aside offline time, or does it happen whenever it happens?

If my body had a cord, I would never be able to venture further than five feet from an outlet.

In a world where every building is wi-fi compatible, from the library to the grocery store, and coffee shops boast plugs under every counter, the convenience is too much to resist.

In class, I take notes on a laptop (while surfing the web). In between, I do work on that same computer. I text, I snapchat, I call, I surf.. all on my cell phone.

I blog.

At night, while trying to force my head to let go of the world and get some sleep, I read. Not a book, though. My phone doubles as a bedtime story. My laptop plays some movie or show, providing background noise for my sleep.

And then, in the morning, my handy dandy iPhone is there to wake me up, fill me in on what everyone is up to, and keep me on schedule.


Surprisingly, the only thing in my life that hasn’t been touched by the digital hand of Kind Midas 3000 version 6.2? My day planner. Go figure.