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The Mysterious Reappearance of Ginohn

Hi! We are alive and well. We’ve just been completely negligent about keeping this updated. John used to ask me to do it every week, and I did. But he doesn’t anymore. And I’m just a big old social networking addict, and have no time for anything else. Actually, I recently made the rule for myself – no internet before 5pm, and that’s helping a bit.

So, to pick up where I last left off, (looking at my calendar here) I guess the next event was a visit to the same laser tag place we went for Dave’s birthday – just ‘cuz this time. Well, mostly Chris wanted to do it and got a bunch of people together. We had lots of fun. As I recall we had us, Chris, Dave, Andy, Alison, TVTom, and Rich. I could be remembering wrong, tho. 

That was Friday March 13th. Nothing on the calendar from Saturday, and Sunday was Brandon’s memorial service. It was a lovely service (led by Izolda) and well attended. We stayed until the end to help clean up, and spent more time with at Dorian and Amethyst’s house afterwards.

The next Saturday was the Empty Bowls event my pottery group puts on almost every year (this was our 3rd or 4th event, but we skipped last year). It went extremely well, and we raised over $5000 for Help -By-Phone.

We had dinner at Rich and Izolda’s on that Sunday (22nd). It was a lovely gathering of friends.

The next Thursday night I went up to NYC with Renee and Alex for the weekend. We stayed at Renee’s parent’s place in Queens. We all sat down for breakfast together every morning, and Renee’s mom Amy made me oatmeal every morning too. After breakfast on Friday we went to lower Manhatten to buy some tickets to a Broadway show. We ended up with tickets to a matinee of Shrek: the Musical for Saturday (still quite expensive at half price!). As we walked from there toward the site of the twin towers, I overheard something I submitted to Overheard in NY: Teen girl: “New York couldn’t survive without the sun!”

We missed the observation platform for the construction at the twin towers site, and started to make our way north and east to a vegan ice cream store I’d found out about on the interwebs. We walked a long way, through Little Italy where the smells were delicious, and finally arrived at a very cute hole in the wall. All the vegan ice cream was made on site, but I was pretty disappointed. It wasn’t really very good. The vegan ice cream So(y) Delicious, that you can buy in any health food store, is way better. 

From there we walked to Greenwich Village and The Strand bookstore where we spent a good chunk of time. Then it was on to the Upper West Side, I believe, to get dinner before the Jonathan Coulton/ Paul and Storm show at Symphony Space. We were looking for an Indian place Amy had told us of, but couldn’t find it. We went into an Asian fusion place called Ozen, where my Thai curry was num num nums!

I had some left over and Alex kindly stored it in his Strand man bag. We went to the show and I videotaped a lot of it with my little Lumix camera, but I was holding it low so it wouldn’t be seen (wasn’t sure what the policy there was), and didn’t notice that sometimes it wasn’t able to focus. A fellow JoCo Forum member posted the whole show on youtube, though, so it’s okay. Meanwhile, Alex discovered that my Thai food had leaked in the bag and all over their camera. There was not much more in the bag, and while it was annoying and gross, Alex and Renee were able to get the pics they had off the camera and had been looking for an excuse to buy a new one anyway.

After the show I was waiting around, and RnA were in the bathrooms, when Jonathan walked up the aisle toward the back to start the meet and greet. Since he was walking right by me I said Hi, and he paused and came over and said Hi and gave me a little hug. :D

It was rather chaotic since there wasn’t a set area or a line, folks were just milling about. But Jonathan was busy with other fans so I went to talk with Paul and Storm and get a picture with my Minion shirt on with them (I am Souvenir Photo Minion). I gave them a little gift bag with some ceramic shot glasses I’d made and a cd of Lincoln by Lincoln (because I thought they’d like it). Then I talked to JoCo for a bit, gave him a box with a piece of pottery I made (a pretty little jar), and the same cd I gave Paul and Storm. 

Saturday we met up with Justine, Renee’s cousin, and walked around Times Square a bit before going to see Shrek: The Musical at the Broadway Theater. The seats were very close on the right side, maybe a little too close – and the seats themselves were low and cradling – and tightly packed -you felt kind of like a comfortable sardine. The show was great. I have only been to two shows on Broadway before (around 15 years ago), and neither were quite like this. The sets were amazing, and the costumes too. The show was very fun and funny and even sad at times, and totally ridiculous. The singing and dancing was good too. We had a great time. We went through Central Park and had a great time there, and headed to Candle 79 at my behest to try this most highly rated vegan restaurant in NYC. Even though I’d meant to, I neglected to make a reservation. They were going to turn us away when they decided they could slide us into a 45 minute slot – we weren’t allowed to order appetizers or dessert. Alex and I did have beers (and they were fantastic) and I ordered dessert to go – which wasn’t worth the $ for what I got. Actually it was the most expensive dessert I’d ever had. TWELVE dollars for a little chocolate tort thingy, and it just was not amazing. It was okay. But I LOVED my food – the special of the day involving encrusted  seitan, mushrooms, potatoes, and pineapple salsa on top. Every bite wonderful. 

Then we walked around looking for dessert for everyone else (ended up at a grocery store), and then we went to the Planetarium for a laser light show. It averages to pretty cool. Parts were great and parts I really didn’t care for. When you felt like you were shooting through space or swimming around a surreal universe I really liked that. The parts I didn’t care for were strange – like eerie faces floating around in patterns or bits of what looked like old home movies floating across the screen. It was Alex’s birthday so we talked about going to a bar or something afterwards but Justine needed to head home and we decided we were pretty wiped out as it was. So that was it for the night. And Sunday we drove back to MD.

Kory came to town on April 1st or so, then left with Jake and Ingrid on Friday for Columbus, OH. John, Dave and I left Saturday, June 3, to meet up with them at The Gathering Of Friends. Here is Dave’s report.

I’m going to post this now so there is SOMETHING new up, but of course I have a lot more to go to get caught up to current day. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I do that. See ya!

Memorial Day

We were were planning to have a picnic Monday with Rich and Izolda, but nothing solid. By the time we decided to pack up the cars and head to Greenbelt National Park, the storm clouds were gathering ominously. We found a lonely picnic table under a tree near areas with lots of other people, but the sky was getting darker and darker. So we grabbed our stuff and ran to the picnic table. We ran around doing picnic things as fast as possible. Rich juggled his pins for a moment then let them fall to the ground as he ran to do something else. Chris started throwing a frisbee to himself while John unpacked the cooler. I made a sandwich while Rich ran and got an instrument (okay, he says it’s a travel guitar, but it looks kind of like a lute), hurriedly played a few lines of Kumbaya, and ran and put it away. Then he got out a Bocce ball set and threw the balls out on the grass. John threw another one and then they put that away. Izolda mostly laughed. We all ate quickly and with much humor, as the thunder and lightning moved in. We took pictures and stuffed our faces as the rain started coming down. Flowers fell out of the tree and into our food with a splat. Once the rain started getting through the leaves we threw everything in the cars and got in. Then it really started coming down, and we could barely see on the drive home. All this took about 25 minutes. BEST. PICNIC. EVER.

What’s Up? Or something

A sheepish hello to anyone who is still with us, looking for us, or forgot about us but came back eventually. It is so easy not to blog. So easy.

Especially as time wears on, and you do all these neat things that you want to tell about and have a record of to help you remember, but it is so much that it’s a challenge to start.

On Feb 7th we went to the 20th anniversary of our friends Eryq and Deb getting together. They had a marvelous party at the New Deal Cafe. Treated everyone to dinner and drinks. What a fabulous couple.

The next weekend we attended the Pirate Feast. Lots of fun as always; I tended bar part of the night. Much merriment was had.

The following weekend was JAM packed. Friday night was a Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton concert at The Birchmere. TVTom, Renee, Alex, Rich, and Izolda all came, and Rich was celebrating his birthday that night. Ann and Duncan were supposed to come, but couldn’t make it. Some friends of Tom’s bought their tickets and sat at the table next to us with some of their friends. (Also saw other folks I know there – Buckley, and a couple I know from dancing.) Getting there early got us the most excellent seats in the house. I was directly in front of Jonathan at the front of our table. It was so great to see them again since it had been almost a year since the last time Jonathan played around here (John and I saw Paul & Storm a few months ago with Duncan and Ann), after seeing them all SIX times in one year. I playfully gave Jonathan a hard time about that after the show, and he said he could get audiences in so many more places now, he was busy playing lots of other places and couldn’t play here as much.

The next day we went to a birthday party for our friend Liam. He was celebrating turning 40, even though he was turning 29 – he was saving celebrating his 29th for a time when he was older and wanted to feel younger. Or something. We played some fun games and couldn’t stay the whole time, since John and I were going to see JoCo and P&S that night at the Ram’s Head! TVTom and Renee also came again, and Luisa and Dorian and Amethyst came along to this show. And, alas for them, Duncan and Ann couldn’t come to this show either, so I arranged for Craig and Nancy to get their tickets, which they were totally pysched about. There was a whole ‘nuther bunch of people that I know (mostly from The Gathering) that Renee knew too there as well. 

I took video of some of the songs from each show and put them up on youtube. Check them out! If you keep up with our blog you already know how AWESOME I think JoCo and P&S are. If not, let me tell you, that is one show where you will be thoroughly entertained. Renee suggested we go up to NYC to see them again at Symphony Space, and catch a Broadway show too. Which we are going to do.

The next day (now we’re at Sunday Feb. 22) we went to Union Station with Alex and Renee and met up with Dave and his mom and Jake there for lunch and to see Fanboys. Then we headed to the bowling alley to meet up with a bunch of people  to duck-pin bowl with Rich for another fun birthday celebration. I sucked at it this time. I’m usually luckier at it than I was this time. I say luckier because I obviously have no skills whatsoever. 

From there we went to Alex and Renee’s to watch the Oscars, and we stayed until the end. I’ve read some things here and there that weren’t too positive about the show, but I loved Hugh Jackman and really enjoyed his presentations. I don’t have many complaints about the rest of it either.

I told you it was a jam packed weekend!

I’m on twitter (ginamai), and following a local gal, Aparna, who is a comedian who I happened to see at some shows we went to in the past to watch Chris perform. After we saw her open for Paul F. Tompkins a couple of months ago, he tweeted something to her, and that’s when I noticed her there (on twitter) and started following her. So on Friday the 27th of Feb., she tweeted about a show she was doing with Maria Bamford that night at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. So I told a few folks who I thought would be interested and we ended up going. It was me, John, Dave, and Rich (same bunch that went to see Tompkins). It was a fun show; Maria Bamford is very kooky, but I like that. Afterwards I told Aparna that her tweet was why we came to the show, and she remembered us from the last show, and was very pleased that the tweet actually brought folks out. We started joking about stalking her, and she hung around with us while we waited in line to meet Maria and buy her cd. The line wasn’t very long but it took a long time, and as it turned out, it was because Maria was very friendly and chatty and did not seem the least bit hurried and talked with us for quite a while (there was only one more group after us). She asked me and Dave what we did and signed the cds we bought referring to what we said. Very amusing stuff. I got my camera ready and asked if we could have a picture, and she said of course, and I handed her the camera and posed with my friends. She was not the least bit confused by this and took our picture and got pretty excited about my camera too. Then we got some pics with her in them too.

The next night we had tickets to see Patton Oswalt at Lisner auditorium, the first of two shows being taped for Comedy Central (I hope our audience wins…). We drove down with Rich and Izolda and met up with Dave and two of his friends at The Thai Place nearby. We had a pretty good meal there.

Dave had an extra ticket that he couldn’t seem to unload, but once we were seated we thought the extra seat made a nice coat holder. Then I saw Kevin – and although his seat was in a row closer to the stage, it was waaaay over to the side, so he took me up on my offer of our extra seat. The show was very very funny; we had a great time, and if our audience does win (the show that gets aired), there is a pretty good chance you will see us, I think.

After that we all ended up going back to The Thai Place for desserts and drinks. I was actually a bit disappointed with my choices (fried bananas sound good, but they were wrapped in spring roll wrappers and not very sweet. And the hot chocolate/decaf coffee/Kahlua wasn’t as good as it sounded either). But the company was good.

I gave blood on Sunday March 1st. I sipped a Sprite while doing it. It took a very long time for me to fill the bag, and I took my time getting up from it, so no dizziness or fainting this time! Yay!

But when I got home I heard terrible terrible news. Our dear friends Dorian and Amethyst’s son Brandon had died the day before, likely from an accidental drug overdose. I’m still feeling shock and terrible sadness for them. The night of First Friday they came back from Indiana, where Brandon lived, and came to the gathering to find comfort in the arms of many friends there. 

If you know them or knew Brandon, there is a celebratory memorial service this Sunday, March 15th, at the Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, 3215 Powder Mill Rd. in Adelphi at 4pm. Vegetarian potluck to follow, same location.

We went to two birthday parties this past Saturday. We started out at the New Deal Cafe to celebrate Joe’s 40th. We ran in to Breno and Morwen there, celebrating Breno’s 34th. We ate and drank and were merry and watched Joe and Andy perform (their band is called Play With Me - warning, myspace page). We had to leave before their performance was over in order to make it to Satish’s 30th birthday celebration at Clyde’s in Chinatown. We had Chris with us by this time and Mary was also at Joe’s party and planning on going to Satish’s so we all went together. We arrived in time for the drinks after dinner. I put a candy necklace I got at Joe’s party on Satish and took pictures of me, Mary, another woman, and Dominic biting the candy off his neck. Except Dominic bit through the elastic and sent the remaining candy flying everywhere!

We had a lot of fun – although a lot of the time we were just hanging with and talking to the people we already knew and always see – Dave, TVTom, Chris… I did get to talk to Dominic and Satish some. I had a mojito which was very good. I mean really good. Yum yum. Then I split one with Dave that was not quite as good as the first one. Nope, not by a long shot, really.

Anyway… ah yes, dance night was Sunday – Beth finally came along and we both had a great time. That’s all for now!

Top of the rope!

Yesterday and for the first time ever I made it to the top of my climbing rope, climbing hand-over-hand without using my feet! It helped to rub magic dust on my hands to make the rope less slippery.

We didn’t have a video cam ready. I wasn’t even planning to climb because I had a tweaked shoulder from lifting on Friday. But my friend Rich (an ex circus clown) came over to try it. He noticed how slippery the rope was and mentioned rosin. Instead of nodding my head and doing nothing else like I’ve done every time someone’s mentioned chalk or rosin, I remembered that I had a bag of rock climbing mystery chemical right inside the house. I grabbed it and it worked a treat, as Judge Dredd would say.

Gina got very excited when she saw I was about to make this personal record that I’ve been craving ever since, well, childhood. She cheered me on and reminded me to touch the branch (it’s like ringing a bell).

Now I have to measure the rope. I think it’s about 15 feet high. If I climb to the top and measure in cubits on the way down (easy to do because my arms are right there), I can convert to feet, meters, etc.

Besides Rich and Gina, Jenny witnessed my ascent, too. Plus three dogs, but they won’t tell you anything.

When we last visited John and Gina…

…we had been running around as usual, trying to have fun. We had fun on inauguration day. We met up with Andy and Kristin at the New Deal Cafe to watch with our community. Surprisingly, there were few others of our close Greenbelt friends there – turned out a bunch went downtown. We had decided not to brave the cold and crowds. The tv in the room we were watching in had a bad feed and the sound kept dropping out, but we still had a great time watching the proceedings. After the swearing in was over, most people left and John, Rich and I took up residence at the bar. Izolda joined us a little later. We watched the parade and chatted away the afternoon. Our neighbor and friend Karl Hille came in and found us there, and interviewed us for a little article.

The next weekend we played Rock Band with Dave. We didn’t go to a lot of things that we were invited to. 

The weekend after that we went to a gathering for happy hour at Busboys and Poets near Chinatown with Luisa and Tom. What a neat place! They had vegan entrees on the menu, including a vegan cheese pizza, and desserts! We saw and met a lot of people and had a really nice time.

The next night we took Neha up on an invitation to meet her at Jaleo with Luisa and Dina. Unfortunately, Dina couldn’t come at the last minute because she’d fallen on the ice and was sore. Hope you’re feeling better, Dina! We got there on time and John dropped me and Luisa off and went to find parking. It took over an hour to get a table, so we got some yummy sangria. Then we got more with dinner. We ate too much and everything was delish.

When we finally left, we walked back to where John had parked in a garage and it was CLOSED! John was flabbergasted. They guy had told him it would close at midnight, and it was only 11:30. Fortunately there was a phone number posted; John called and the guy had to call back and said he’d be there in twenty minutes. We started playing word games and someone drove up and let themselves in. John asked if he’d let us in and he said we had to take it up with management. We kept waiting but the next car to show up was a nice couple who let us in AND out. So John called again and told the guy not to come.

I went shopping for some tile this week and I’m going to have part of the kitchen tiled. I’m excited about that.

Strong Quote

“Over and above any considerations of performance for sports, exercise is the stimulus that returns our bodies to the conditions for which they were designed. Humans are not physically normal in the absence of hard physical effort. Exercise is not a thing we do to fix a problem— it is a thing we must do anyway, a thing without which there will always be problems. Exercise is the thing we must do to replicate the conditions under which our physiology was adapted, the conditions under which we are physically normal. In other words, exercise is substitute cave-man activity— the thing we need to make our bodies, and in fact our minds, normal in the 21st century. And merely normal, for most worthwhile humans, is not good enough.” 
— Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength 

This paragraph really made an impact on my exercise philosophy. Recent research has shown that exercise combats depression as well or better than prescription drugs. But maybe the implied metaphor, exercise-as-a-drug, is wrong. Maybe this special kind of human behavior—good exercise—is integral to the human animal, like the other pillars of human normalcy: good nutrition, good sleep, good learning, good social interaction, etc. A person can survive without the support of any one of these pillars, but thrives with all of them intact. After all these years of using exercise as a kind of therapy, I’ve finally begun to think of good exercise as a necessary part of sane, healthy living.

Is this thing on?

Ahem. I’m not making any guarantees here, but with this new blogging system you might be hearing from us more often. So, what have we been up to the last 2 months? I will try to summarize.

So, when we last left off, we’d gone to a butt load of parties. The fun didn’t stop there. We also went to see comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who was totally awesome. I’d heard good things about him recently, but wasn’t sure about him since he didn’t really make a good impression when he was on the excellent Mr. Show. But I was laughing so hard it hurt at one point. The pitcher of beer we shared (me, John, Dave and Rich) didn’t hurt my mood any either. Be sure to check out his VH1 show, that you can watch on the internet: Best Week Ever. Aparna Nancheria opened which was a nice surprise since we’d enjoyed seeing her before. I bought Paul’s cd and got it autographed after the show and that was fun too. When we finally went to the car, I hopped in the driver’s seat then suddenly realized I was in no condition to drive (this was funny). Fortunately, John was alright.

Also back in November, we saw some movies, celebrated Renata’s birthday at a great party, and I played with PMC, or precious metal clay, with Diana and Lei. I made 5 pendants that session, and we did it again a few weeks later and I made some more, but I have yet to do anything with them.

At the end of November we went to see They Might Be Giants with Dave at the 9:30 club. They performed their album Flood in it’s entirety, then all the rest of their albums too. Okay not really, but that’s what they said they were going to do. And they did give us a sampling from each, I believe. Plus a new song that is yet to be released – it will come out on their upcoming Here Comes Science album. Yay!

The next night we went over to Alex and Renee’s to help decorate their Xmas tree and play games. We did both. It was fun.

In December I sold pottery with Greenbelt Pottery at the Festival of Lights. Our booth did really well and as it turned out, so did I. I did the usual wheel demo as well. 

I went to Constantia and Sean’s tree trimming party and had a great time there too.

We went to Politics and Prose to see Play With Me perform, but first stopped by Comet to enjoy a beer. It was a very fun show and afterwards we went back to Comet and Joe and Andy plus some friends of theirs joined us. That was fun too.

Later in the month my Mom came up for a visit.  Then I went to Florida and the ‘rent’s house for a week and so did my brother and we went running and cleaned the house and shampooed the rug and I made smoothies every day for everyone. We took a little trip up north and an old good friend, Michelle Biggerstaff, came down a bit south with her two boys and we met up in a little town and found a Golden Corral to eat at (pretty good buffet with salad bar) and got caught up. For that I can say “Thanks, Facebook,” for helping reunite us.

I was back home for New Years and we spent it at Alex and Renee’s this year again – dinner, gaming, and making lots of noise when the ball dropped. Good times (Happy New Year everybody!).

Some of my classes have started back up, but otherwise I’ve been moving slowly in January.  We’ve seen some more movies, John bought a giant humungous tv, and we’re trying to figure out how to set it up. Actually, we’ve been kind of agonizing about it. Do we buy a small, cheap, simple stand and have all our stuff lying around it? Do we spend a lot on a large entertainment center? Can we find one that will fit in our space, AND hold the TV, and all the other stuff it needs to hold, and not cost too much? Do we butcher the one we have and try to restructure it to hold the behemoth? Or maybe pay our friend Frank to build us a custom one (also likely expensive)? We’re looking at taking the current one apart and see if we can’t make it work.

Meanwhile, Lee Moyer came to the East coast for the first time since he moved to Portland 6 years ago. We saw him this past summer, of course, when we stayed with him and Annaliese for a week. And I had seen him at Gen Con a couple years before that. Anyway, he was seeing folks over at Greykell’s on a movie night so we went to that and saw Lee and other folks we don’t see much. Along with the movie Speed Racer (which I enjoyed) and part of Death Race. A few days later Lee came to visit us and a friend, Leslie, came to see him here and we all went to Franklin’s and Kevin met us there and we had a great time. 

The New Deal put in a new bar and we went to check it out. It’s nice. We got some beer and drank at it. Then we went to the movie and came back and drank some more and closed the place.

That was tonight so I am all caught up! Yay!