Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just Another Day...But With Tom Hanks

I intended for yesterday to be a quiet, boring day in filled with nothing but household chores and the live stream of the Casey Anthony trial. But, New York always has other plans for me, and yesterday morning I caught wind of another Meet the Filmmaker Event at the SoHo Apple Store (you may remember the previous one we attended, with The Lonely Island and Aziz Ansari) - this one featuring Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks?! Dude, I love Tom Hanks!

So, off I went. The talk was scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m., and I went early to make sure I could get a seat in the theater. I ended up in the back row, but I did have a seat! I was about an hour early, so I passed the time with my Kindle.

Tom Hanks was great. I'm sure that comes as a shock to you, because Tom Hanks is so well known for his mediocre work. He was there to discuss his new film Larry Crowne, which he directed and starred in. They showed a clip of the film, then Tom discussed a bit of the filmmaking process generally, and shared a few tidbits about Larry Crowne specifically. For instance, he talked about the character of Larry riding a scooter, and how the hair and makeup people didn't want him to be able to just ride up into a scene and take his helmet off because then his hair would be a mess. (Tom told them to just not worry about it, so I guess we can all look forward to his messy hair in the film!) He also said that they bought the scooter used in the movie from a retired vet who was going back to school - they saw the scooter parked on campus, thought it was perfect for the movie, and left a note for the owner to get in touch with them. The owner obviously eventually did, and now his scooter is famous!

Tom Hanks speaking at the Apple Store

Watching a clip from Larry Crowne

After his talk they opened things up to a Q&A session with the audience. During that time Tom talked about actually having music playing as they filmed dialogue for Philadelphia (apparently a rarity in the movie-making biz), reluctantly mentioned Castaway as one of the films he is most proud of, and gave the advice to aspiring filmmakers/screenwriters/whatever to just keep doing it, keep practicing, keep making it happen. He told the audience that Steven Spielberg (oh yes, Tom Hanks name-dropped!) gets tons of screenplays sent to him, and he just can't read all of them. But if someone sends him a short video they made, he will watch it, because those people have done the whole process - wrote it, directed it, put it together. He always watches those. How cool is that?

Also, for the record, Tom Hanks is a Mac, not a PC. To quote him (pardon my/his French), "PCs are shit." Hear hear, Tom. This using-a-Macbook-this-very-moment, iPod-loving, iPhone-coveting (GET WITH IT, SPRINT), iPad-longing girl agrees.

Great event!

For any of you Tom Hanks fans out there, if you're interested in hearing his full talk you will be able to download the free podcast on iTunes soon! Just search for "Meet the Filmmaker" in the iTunes store and you should be able to find it.

So there you have it - yet another cool NYC event that popped up out of nowhere. On top of that, Eric and I went to a "Movie Under the Stars" at Pier A Park last night, to see Breakfast at Tiffany's, complete with a Grimaldi's Pizza picnic. I'll share more about that tomorrow, but honestly - how cool is it that my "boring, nothing to do" day turned into a Q&A session with Tom Hanks, followed by a classic movie with some of the best pizza in New York and a view of the city skyline behind the movie screen? This city never ceases to amaze me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Life in D.C.: Part 3

So we've already covered Year #1 and Year #2 of our time in D.C., including grad/law school, engagement, marriage, new jobs, and fun with friends. Today will be the last installment in this series, and will cover Year #3: September 2007 through August 2008, our first year of marriage.

When we got back to D.C. after the wedding, we were welcomed by an absolute disaster of an apartment. As I mentioned in my previous post, we had been in a rush to get to Florida after Eric returned from New York, so our move to our new apartment was frenzied and painfully disorganized. Because we were just moving within the building, we did not put much (okay, any) effort into organization and careful packing. Rather, our strategy was simply "let's just throw stuff in a box/bag/suitcase/cart/crate/whatever, get it downstairs and deal with it later." And while that plan did make for a quick move out, it sure made for a stressful move in - especially after returning from a week of relaxation on a Caribbean island.

Mess! I wish I could say this was the worst of it, but I'm too embarrassed to even post those pictures. What a shameful moving strategy.

To add insult to injury (or more accurately in this case, injury to insult), Eric sprained his ankle in a basketball game with friends shortly after we returned to D.C. His injured ankle turned a lovely shade of purple and, needless to say, somewhat inhibited his ability to help me with the disaster that was our apartment. I mean, what are husbands good for, anyway? Sheesh. But, I am awesome and before long our new apartment was in tip-top shape. And I loved this apartment. Aside from the view in our last NYC apartment, this newlywed D.C. apartment was probably my favorite of all the ones we've had. It was spacious, with a glorious walk-in closet in the bedroom, a perfect little nook for Achilles, a pass-thru kitchen window, and a spot for our washer/dryer. It was perfect.

View of the living/dining rooms from the entryway. (Yes, that's a Gator shrine on top of that bookshelf.)

Right side of the living room

Dining room, and pass-thru window to the kitchen. The dining room table was a very generous wedding gift from my Uncle Nathan!

Kitchen, including lots of new wedding gift accessories! Our guests were very generous and really got us started in our new home.

We had a long hallway from the living room to the bedroom/bathroom, and we hung these pictures of all the Broadway shows we had seen along the hallway wall. We would need a much longer hallway wall now, if we wanted to do such things again!

Bathroom - all the towels/shower curtains/accessories were wedding gifts, and the picture on the wall is a framed map of the Caribbean we bought on our honeymoon.

More bathroom

Bedroom, with all new wedding gift bedding, and framed pictures we took of snowy D.C.

School was soon back in session for Eric - his last year of law school! As for me, I had already wrapped up classes in the spring, and I found out the week of my wedding that I had passed my comprehensive exam. All that was left was my actual graduation ceremony, which took place at the beginning of November at the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall. My mom came up for the occasion, so we did some sightseeing and some graduating, and a good time was had by all. And just like that, grad school was finished!

In the hallway of my school - I no longer have to spend hours and hours in those rooms!

Being hooded at graduation

After graduation with my husband and my mom

Sightseeing with my mom at Arlington Cemetery

In other career-related news, that month Eric was officially offered a post-graduation job with the firm he worked for over the summer. We had hoped he would be offered a job, so when he was, it was cause for celebration! That made it all official: we would be moving to New York, and I would soon be a lawyer's wife.

And so, the fall wore on. Eric and I spent another Thanksgiving in D.C. that year, our first as a married couple. That December Eric celebrated his 25th birthday, and Heather came to town for a visit that weekend. We celebrated with a fun night at home with Jeff and the three of us, plus the Wii. Good times.

Another Thanksgiving! This year we made even more things ourselves, including green bean casserole and real mashed potatoes.

Heather and Achilles hanging out in our apartment

The boys playing with the Wii on Eric's birthday

We went home to Florida again for Christmas, but before we did, we celebrated our first newlywed Christmas in D.C. together.

Someone left a dog under that tree.

Family Christmas photo

After Christmas, we came back to D.C. ready for a rather fun spring. For one thing, we got season tickets to Georgetown basketball games with a group of friends, so we spent many afternoons at the Verizon Center cheering on the Hoyas.

With friends Chris, Leah, Greg and Will at a Georgetown basketball game

Hoya Saxa!

In January, we also got to do something very cool: we heard oral arguments at the Supreme Court. We heard arguments in the case of Baze v. Rees, an appeal of two men sentenced to death in Kentucky, arguing that lethal injection inflicts "unnecessary pain" and thus should be considered "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the 8th Amendment. To get tickets to oral arguments, we had to wait in line in front of the Supreme Court building at the crack of dawn. We waited for some time, but were successful and it was a very cool experience to sit in that room, where so many landmark decisions had been made, and hear people arguing before the highest court in the land. And, because I am a dork, seeing all the Supreme Court Justices in person was something akin to a celebrity sighting for me. I had spent so much time reading opinions written by these people in my grad school research (I did quite a bit of research about the death penalty, so the case at hand was of particular interest to me), so it was so cool to see them in person. (I am a particular fan of Scalia's dissenting opinions - those are usually an entertaining read! Well, as far as opinions go.)

The Supreme Court

A view from the Supreme Court steps

We spent the rest of the spring doing our best to make the most of our last months in D.C. We took in the cherry blossoms for the last time, Eric ran a 5k along the Tidal Basin, and we hosted some visitors. We also tried to just make time to enjoy our favorite D.C. sights.

D.C.'s St. Patrick's Day Parade

Beautiful blossoms

Eric running a 5k along the Tidal Basin

My Aunt Rachel, Uncle Mark and cousin Sarah came to visit

My friend Megan is a junior high school teacher in Parma, OH, and she chaperones her school's trips to D.C. each spring (God bless her). I got to meet up with her briefly while she was in town with her students!

Molly and Heather came to visit, too!

In early May, we had another great event to celebrate: Eric's graduation from law school! His mom, grandma, father and stepmom all came up for the occasion, and naturally I was there to play the part of proud wife. We had a wonderful weekend with everyone, and I was so thrilled for Eric.

He worked hard for that paper!

The graduate and his proud wife

Eric and his mom

That Memorial Day, my Aunt Debbie came to visit. We gave her our most comprehensive D.C. tour, but our Memorial Day itself was really fabulous. We went to the concert on the Capitol Lawn again, and on Memorial Day proper we went to Arlington Cemetery to see if we could get in to hear the President speak. We arrived a bit too late and were relegated to the standing room at the back of the amphitheater, but much to our surprise, shortly before the speeches began we were pulled to the front and seated just several rows from the podium! The First Lady and other notable political types were just a few feet above us, and President Bush spoke right in front of us. It was a very cool experience - no matter your political opinions, it is a very awesome thing to be in the presence of the President and hear him speak.

Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol Lawn (that's Gary Sinise on the screen)

Arlington Cemetery

The First Lady

President Bush speaking at Arlington Cemetery

Just a few days after his graduation, Eric began studying for the bar exam and his summer was largely taken up with bar prep. He was unable to go to my family reunion because of its close proximity to bar exam time, and even my birthday had to be put on hold because of the bar exam a couple of days later. I don't fault him for this, of course, and I had a fine time celebrating with friends.

Drinks with Leah for my birthday! Her boyfriend (now husband) went to law school with Eric and was also studying for the bar, so we ditched those studious boys and celebrated on our own.

Eric took the bar in late July, and as we all know, he passed. Yay, Eric! With that out of the way, we took to enjoying our last month in D.C. in any way we could.

At a Nationals game

Fun at the Wax Museum

Tour of the Capitol, thanks to my cousin Dia

View of our fair city from the Old Post Office tower

Once the bar exam was over, time just flew by. We were finalizing everything for our new apartment in NYC (we had made a day trip up to the city in June to apartment hunt), and I was training my replacement at my job. Before we knew it, it was officially time to move. The movers came to pack us up and move us out, and we lived a few more days in an empty apartment before turning in our keys and bidding D.C. a fond farewell.

As the movers packed our belongings inside, Achilles and I hung out on the balcony with all the stuff we would be taking to Florida with us by car.

We lived like this - with lawn chairs and air mattresses - for a couple days before we left D.C.

When we left D.C. we went back to Florida for a few week's vacation (including a return to the Cayman Islands for our first anniversary), and then it was time to start our lives in New York. Just like that, our D.C. lives were over. Those three years were one of my most favorite times of my life, filled with changes for all of us. We went into those D.C. years as boyfriend and girlfriend, living away from our families for the first time, ready to start work on our graduate degrees, with little idea where our lives would lead us. We ended those years as husband and wife, with developing careers and great excitement for the next step to come. Those are memories I will always cherish.

Engagement photo by the Tidal Basin, 2006

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Life in D.C.: Part 2

In the first post of this D.C. series, I talked about our first year living in our nation's capital (August 2005 through August 2006). In that year, we moved to D.C., started school, I found a job, we got engaged and Eric worked for a judge in Florida for the summer. It was good times. Today I'm going to talk about Year #2, which covers September 2006 through August 2007 and brought many more great changes for us!

As our second year in D.C. got underway, we pretty much picked up where we left off in May. Eric returned from his summer in Ft. Lauderdale so all three of us were back in the apartment again, the boys got back into school schedules (I had been going all summer already), I was still working my receptionist job and we were working on wedding plans. Life was good, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves that fall. We got to go back to Gainesville for a Gator game, had a fun Halloween with Jeff and his friends, and enjoyed the colorful leaves of the changing seasons.

Back in Gainesville for UF v. Alabama, 2006

Eric and a bunch of his Kappa Chi fraternity brothers at the game

Lois Lane and Clark Kent for Halloween

Poor, sad cop dog and our Gators pumpkin

Fall at the Korean War Memorial

Beautiful leaves surrounding the Washington Monument

All three of us spent Thanksgiving together in D.C. that year, and tried our hand at cooking just a little bit more ourselves! No pre-ordered dinners this year, although there were probably some frozen veggies and instant potatoes (for shame!).

Cool guy checking the turkey (I did not let them throw this one off the balcony, in case you wondered. I think I used it to make soup.)

Roommate Thanksgiving dinner

Winter was soon upon us. We celebrated Eric's 24th birthday with dinner at the Hard Rock and some games at ESPN Zone, we caught some shows at Ford's Theater, and I got festive with my co-workers (it was tradition for several of us to dress up all Christmas-y and pass out Honeybaked Hams to all the building tenants each year, during which drinking on the job was not only condoned but expected - so, good times).

Eric's birthday at Hard Rock

By Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater

Holiday fun at work

We went home to the warmth of Florida for Christmas and New Year's, but when we got back we soon got a pretty decent snowfall. My two Florida boy roommates had a blast pelting each other with snowballs and building a snowman in the grassy area behind our building. My Florida dog, however, was not so enthused.

Snowball fight! (Jeff is on the left, Eric is on the right)

Gators snowman, obviously.

Poor, cold dog. (Yes, he's wearing a scarf.)

That March, Eric and Jeff went to the Final Four in Atlanta. Both Georgetown (Eric's law school alma mater) and Florida were in it, and it took place in Atlanta (driving distance), so off they went. Of course, that means they were there to see Florida win the Championship! Go Gators!

Eric is pretty Gator-ed out, but he does have that Georgetown polo on top to cover all his bases.

Eric and Jeff at the Championship game

Professionally, that spring marked a very important career step for me. As part of my Masters program, I was required to do an internship for one semester. I was still quite interested in jury consulting, so I researched jury consulting firms in the D.C. area with the hope of finding one that would be willing to take me on as an intern. I found one local consultant who was one of the first consultants in this field, who not only had an office in Old Town Alexandria and did they type of work I was interested in, but also was a fellow University of Florida alumna. I got in contact with her, and she agreed to let me intern with her. It was unpaid, of course (other than the school credit I got), but the experience I got working with her would be invaluable. So, I bid farewell to my receptionist job and hello to the world of jury consulting.

My very first week on the job, over 300 jury questionnaires were delivered to the office, for a capital case against an alleged "enforcer" of a D.C. gang. We spent many long days going through each and every questionnaire, flagging items for follow-up and noting which jurors were particularly concerning. Right away, in my first week, I learned about many of the important issues to address in a capital jury selection, how the death-qualification process ideally works, and what a consultant should look for in a juror, both good and bad. When jury selection actually got underway, I was able to go to court and witness the whole process up close and personal. I was also able to assist in writing the voir dire questions that would be asked of the jurors during jury selection. I really was forced to just jump right in with both feet, and just like that, I was hooked. It was exceptionally interesting work.

As my internship continued that spring, I was also able to work on a mock trial for a civil case in Georgia, and did more juror questionnaire analysis for a terrorism case in Miami. My internship then drew to a close, and I did my final presentation for my internship class at school (I discussed the death-qualification process in jury selection and the research concerning whether death-qualification results in a more conviction-prone jury). Much to my delight, the consultant I was working for asked me to stay on as a paid research associate. Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity, and soon moved into my own office in the small Old Town Alexandria building. Fascinating casework continued to keep me busy, and I was quite happy as my experience base continued to grow.

In front of my office building - my office window was the one on the left, on the second floor.
(My mom took this picture when she came to visit for a weekend - I didn't make a habit of wearing Indians hoodies to work, in case you were wondering.)

My office (I did eventually fill those bookshelves with files)

Working hard, or hardly working - who can tell?

Meanwhile, Eric was searching high and low for a summer associate position with a law firm. He interviewed with a couple different firms in New York, before finally being offered a job with his current firm. Hooray for Eric!

Celebrating his summer job offer with champagne!

So, we made the most of the remainder of our spring before Eric would head out of town for the summer once again.

At a Nationals game with Jeff

Date night before Eric left for the summer

When the spring semester wrapped up, I went up to NYC with Eric to help get him settled in to his rented room in a Harlem apartment. I would visit him several more times that summer, and I will probably dedicate a full post to those visits another day, because those visits made the summer of 2007 one of my most favorite summers ever. I would take the bus from Chinatown, D.C. to Penn Station, NYC for the weekend, which took about five hours. It cost only $35 round trip and was always about as sketchy as you would expect, but it got me to my fiancé! Each time I visited him, we had a wonderful time touring New York City, and I fell in love with it.

Eric's block

Eric's tiny little rented room

Eric's office building


Times Square smooch

Meanwhile, back in D.C., I was quite busy. Academically, I was studying for my final comprehensive exam for my Masters program, which I took (and passed, of course) the week of July 4th. With Eric gone and a big exam looming over my head, I once again skipped the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall, but did spend the Fourth at our friends' Chris and Leah's apartment, watching the fireworks from their rooftop. In addition to my hardcore studying, I was also tying up all the loose ends for our wedding plans. The day was fast approaching!

When Eric returned from New York, we packed up our apartment. Because we were about to be married, we decided to move to a new one-bedroom apartment (within the same building), so our roommate days were over. It was fun, Jeff! We packed up our stuff and moved it down to our new apartment, basically just dumping it on the floor before heading to Florida for the wedding festivities.

We spent the week before the wedding having our various shower/bachelor/bachelorette parties, hanging out with friends, and finalizing details. We were married on August 18, 2007 in a beautiful ceremony at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, FL, followed by a fabulous (if I do say so myself) reception at the Mahaffey Theater. I was just beside myself to finally be married to the man I love.

Our wedding ceremony

First kiss as man and wife!

I think this picture pretty accurately sums up how happy I was!

After a week's delay thanks to an unexpected hurricane, we spent a relaxing and romantic week in the Cayman Islands for our honeymoon.

Happy honeymoon!

After the honeymoon, we loaded up Eric's car with all of our luggage and wedding gifts and drove back up to our new apartment, ready to begin our first year as Mr. & Mrs., and our final year in D.C.!