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Yes.

Last Tuesday we survived a rare earthquake in DC, and this weekend we braced ourselves as Hurricane Irene swept through with high winds and an incessant downpour.

So yesterday, when the sun was shining and the sky was blue, after a necessary afternoon nap, we had to take advantage of the day. Hugh and I ventured out to the batting cages at Woody’s in Reston where I proved to Hugh years ago that I haven’t lost my eye-on-the-ball talents and am not too shabby in the batters’ box.

Hugh showed everyone up in the “very fast” cage while I took blurry pictures of him and fielded compliments from on-lookers on his skill (not kidding).

And then Hugh made fun of me for looking crazy in Woodys’ helmets and complaining that the batting gloves smelled like feet.

I think I was impatiently waiting for someone to get out of my favorite cage, the slow softball pitch (I said I could hit, I didn’t say I wanted a challenge). Look at this professional [blurry] stance:

I got really intense as I started hitting line drives up the [imaginary] left field line.

When we’d both hit twice and I was sufficiently grossed out by Hugh’s batting gloves, we headed back to the car so that we could make it to Manassas in time to have dinner with my parents (and borrow their truck for our move this week!). While I was sitting half inside the car changing out of my sneaks and into my sandals, Hugh suggested that we take a walk to “see what’s in the woods over there.”

Sure, Hugh. Whatever you want to do.

There, we were actually surprised to find grills, picnic tables and this old camp site complete with a triangle for summoning the cowboys to dinner.

And a path leading to who knows where.

And while I was poking around, investigating the area, Hugh said

Well, Lauren.

I turned around to find him on his knee, reaching into his pocket and shock set in as he recited a modified version of the speech he’d prepared (he admitted to having forgotten most of it in the moment, understandably so), which ended with

Will you marry me?

I was in shock, I think I said “oh my gosh, really?!” a few thousand times before Hugh reminded me to answer him.

I of course said, Yes.

Before the whirlwind of calling family and friends began, we spent some time reveling in the excitement and each other, and I asked Hugh a few times if he was sure.

He of course said, Yes.

True to form, before we left I had to take some self-timer photos to commemorate the moment and the spot in the woods behind Woody’s batting cages where we decided to take on a pretty significant adventure together.

We celebrated over a home-cooked dinner and a bottle of champagne with my parents.

It was perfect.

PS: Who wouldn’t want to marry this?!

The Lunch Discussion

Back in my younger days (read: college), I was busy all the time and I was enthusiastic, energetic and diligent about the responsibilities on my plate and the tasks on my to-do list.

I drank a cup of coffee for breakfast, usually while in class or while working, definitely while doing something else rather than just sitting and sipping.

I ate lunch when I thought about it. If I missed it, no big deal. I was busy, I had stuff to do and places to go, there was just no time to break for lunch some days. If my tummy was in danger of growling during class, I’d get a Diet Coke and a bag of chips and be fine until dinner.

Sometimes Jessie would call or text me, “Don’t forget to eat lunch today!”

Sometimes we’d set a time and place to eat lunch so that I had a really good reason not to skip it.

But mostly, lunch was just an afterthought in an already overbooked, attention-stretched day.

But now lunch is a whole different story.

Now that I spend my Mondays through Fridays sitting at a desk beneath fluorescent lights in an excessively air-conditioned building, lunch is an absolute. It’s the time every day that I can go for a walk, breathe fresh oxygen, eat something delicious often with bread and melted cheese, and feel more human than robotic for a little while.

Since its importance is well-understood in this office, my co-workers and I discuss lunch options for at least an hour (cumulatively, while working of course) every morning. Sometimes we plan Friday’s lunch during Thursday’s lunch. And on occasion, like when the Red Hook Lobster truck was scheduled to visit Dupont, we plan days in advance.

This lobster roll was completely worth the days of anticipation and $15.

Elizabeth, the lunch champion, also enjoyed it.

Thank goodness for the food truck craze in DC — it’s keeping our lunch options in the neighborhood remotely entertaining.

Last month we planned a visit to the grilled cheese truck — which made me anxious since it’s a lifelong dream of mine to own a grilled cheese shop. Thankfully the one I got ended up being just okay, so my dream isn’t totally shattered. There’s room for me in this market still.

And yet we spent an hour or more periodically discussing lunch options today because we’re bored of the usuals — sushi, Cosi, Five Guys, Sweetgreen — and the food trucks are apparently against Dupont today.

So Chipotle it is.

Blog Inspiration: Really Good Advice from Joy the Baker

I read a lot of blogs.

I read a lot of two kinds of blogs: blogs that deal with cooking (sometimes even healthy cooking), and blogs that deal with making things pretty.

Sometimes, during football season, I read sports blogs too.

Most of the time when I have a blog-posting hiatus here, it’s because I’ve been thoroughly distracted by other bloggers’ more interesting stories, better photos and superior writing.

Today, if I was going to post twenty-something advice, Joy the Baker would have said it one million times better than I ever could have.

Joy the Baker blogs about — surprise — baking. But check out her advice to a girl turning 21 today. It is pretty much spot on. It was hard to choose, but here are some of my favorites:

Six:  Make lists on Post-It notes and knock em out, cross em off, get things done.

Seven:  Look people in the eye and listen when they speak.  It’s a nice touch.  It’s the opposite of Facebook.

Eight:  Is your resting face… the expression that you have when you’re just hanging out watching Real Housewives of Orange County… is that face bitchy?  Change that.  Try not to look bitchy when you’re just hanging out.

Ten:  Don’t be one of those girls that carries one of those long, giant cocktail cups around the streets of Las Vegas.  It really gives the wrong impression.  You’ll also have to pee a lot.

Eleven:  If a guy is a jerk, he’s dead to you.  You don’t need that bologna.  Eat an ice cream cone and move the heck on.

Thirteen:  What’s important?  Make a list.  Honor it.

TwentyOne:  Work hard at the thing that you love.  Like… really hard.  Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s dumb.  If they do tell you it’s dumb… work harder and prove them wrong.  But don’t rub it in their face- just be gracious, and wear expensive lipstick, and smile, and keep working.

Such wise, wise words to live by.

Is There Anything You Couldn’t Do?

Growing up, my parents (the world’s best) made it clear that there is nothing you can’t do. Something may be difficult, inconvenient or exhausting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Mom often reminds me of how hard she worked at multiple jobs to get through college, while maintaining great grades. Dad had to walk uphill both ways (with no feet!) to get to school, but he did it. Well, that may be an exaggeration.

But the point is that, when I’m thinking about being grateful for my job, I often feel grateful to have a job that I can do. There are a million jobs out there that I could do (because I could do anything) but it would be a struggle. For example:

Dental Hygenist, Shampoo Assistant, or Nurse

Being in other people’s personal space for a living would take some toughening up. While I used to think it would be awesome to be a dentist — inspired by my own mandibular ups and downs — I’ve come to realize that I may just not have the stomach for digging around in strangers’ mouths. The idea that my parents used to deal with Dylan and me wiggling, pulling and yanking out our teeth makes my skin crawl. I admire nurses who are fine with finding veins and poking them with needles, but my skin crawls again. A shampoo assistant is probably the most feasible in this list for me, but I’d still rather not scratch scalps other than my own.

Veterinarian

Having my own pet that I love, I can’t understand how people are able to do things to animals like take their temperature, hold them forcefully to clip their nails or — I hate to even say this — put them down. I think my heart would be broken every day.

CPA

Excel spreadsheets? Numbers? Formulas? Rules and regulations? 90-hour work weeks? I’m sure I could learn the very basics necessary to be an accountant, but the four-part CPA exam would probably take me years and many, many attempts to pass. I admire those of you who have framed CPA licenses hanging on your walls. I admire you and I do not envy you. And I thank you for being so financially intelligent.

Truck Driver

I love driving, and I even love driving large vehicles. But I don’t think I would last months on the road. Well, maybe with a good passenger? And maybe if my truck was full of grilled cheeses and chocolate?

Lawyer

While I respect what Elle Woods did for blondes everywhere, and I happen to be a Reese Witherspoon fan, and I can enjoy a good argument here and there, I couldn’t see myself arguing when someone’s livelihood is at stake. And defense attorneys? No way I’d be able to defend someone I knew was guilty — even if all they did was flick someone on the forehead.

Picturing myself in jobs that I would not enjoy has helped my Lenten commitment to stop complaining. (Yes I realize it’s only day 2). I can imagine how much complaining I’d want to do if I flossed 56 dirty sets of teeth every day and it’s not a pretty thought. It also brings much needed perspective to this formative era of twentysomethinghood in which career development is a constant hot topic and often an open-ended question.

What are some jobs you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do?

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