Sunday, April 25, 2010

The End of an Era

Okay, the title is probably more than a little melodramatic.

Having conceded that, I think it's still somewhat fitting. I've had a beard since I was in high school. I've long forgotten what I look like without it, and I always had suspected I'd have a baby face clean shaven. Over the last few months, though, I've been thinking more and more about shaving it off. I've noticed a lot of gray showing in the beard, which probably made me look even older than just with the beard itself.

Finally this past week, I caved. I took a razor to the beard and shaved it clean off. After I had washed my face clean and saw myself for the first time all over again, I was amazed at how much younger I looked. Since it's been several days since I had shaved it off, I can say I've grown accustomed to being without it now. I don't feel as naked without it anymore. It actually feels normal. I've also gotten a few compliments on the look at work as well.

Who'da thunk it?

Since I hadn't really planned this move ahead of time, I won't cheat and add it to my list of tasks (especially since it's already been done). I haven't taken any pictures of the look yet, but I expect to be in Baltimore with my crew next weekend, so I'm sure there will be a photo op to sport the look.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Addition to the Family (No, Not THAT Kind of Addition)

I got a phone call last night from my sister with some fabulous news. She's been with her boyfriend now nearly seven years and has been living with him over three years now. To put things succinctly, they are perfect for each other. They bring out the best in one another, and they've spent a fair amount of time apart from one another during the course of their relationship (he's had to serve over in Afghanistan a couple times, and she had spent a semester at sea while in college).

Anyways, my sister called me last night to say that they finally are officially engaged! I'm extremely happy for the both of them. I've long since thought of my sister's now-fiancee as a brother-in-law already, but knowing they're finally moving forward with their plans is still awesome.

Every now and then, I think about the directions my life has taken, and my sister's engagement gave me a moment to reflect on that idea again. I've thought about stuff like what would have happened had I gone to a different college, chosen a different major, worked at a different job, etc.

When my family had first moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland, we had planned on moving to Pasadena. My parents had a contract on a house and everything was locked in. Through a series of complications, that house deal fell through and my family instead found a place in Bel Air. This series of events ended up shaping all my family's lives in a number of ways. I chose Towson University as my college of choice (and as a result most of my closest friends are people I met in college) and my degree program led me to pursuing my MBA with University of Phoenix. I would never have had the type of career or made the relationships I now have had my family moved to Pasadena.

This all brings me back to my sister and her fiance. Had we moved to Pasadena, she would never have taken a job as a paralegal, worked for a lawyer, or gone to law school. Most of all though, she would never have met her fiance. They wouldn't have spent the last seven years together, they wouldn't have bought a house, they wouldn't have gotten their dog Newman (who's become the family grandchild), and they certainly wouldn't be planning their wedding.

It's funny when I think about the sequence of events and how differently things would have ended up had any number of events been even slightly different. At the risk of repeating myself, I'm extremely happy for my sister and her fiance, and I'm proud to officially welcome him into the family.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take That, Betty Crocker

I'm sort of cheating with completing another task on my list, but I let anyone reading this blog (all three or four people out there) decide its relevance.

I baked banana bread tonight. It's not exactly cake, but it's darn close enough in my book. And this wasn't some Betty Crocker instant recipe or anything. This was for real, homemade banana bread.

It wasn't perfect, but it still turned out pretty darn well. And no, it wasn't burned and/or crusty at all. At least, not to the point where it was ruined. I made sure to check it at about the 50-minute mark in the oven (the recipe I found said have it bake for an hour), and left it for a few more minutes. I also thought I'd add my own extra flavor by adding a layer of cinnamon over top. Put some french vanilla ice cream on the side, and BAM! Instant tasty dessert.

One thing I am aware of here is how dangerously close I am to turning in my man card on this one. I've known many women in the past (my mother being one of them) who just get in the mood to bake a cake on a random night. Their logic is typically how relaxing cooking and baking can be, and I have to say, it kinda helped me tonight. I had a pretty rough day today for a variety of reasons, and baking the banana bread, in addition to making dinner simultaneously, helped me get my mind off things for a little while.

Man card be damned. In the words of my officemate Sarah, I'm going to make someone an awesome wife someday.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another One For the List

#75. Attend a playoff sports game.

I came close a couple times to having already attended a sporting event during the post-season, but those opportunities never came to fruition. There's a certain level of excitement and craziness attending such a game that isn't found during the regular season, for some obvious reasons. I remember in 2005 the Orioles were dominating their division during the first half of the season, and I had said at that time if the Orioles did end up making the playoffs, I'd have to make every effort to going to one or more games. I don't think I've ever seen Camden Yards packed top to bottom with fans all cheering for the O's; usually if the stadium is packed it's because the Yankees or Red Sox are in town and their fans travel to Baltimore to follow their team.

I've decided to use this task to take care of two tasks simultaneously. The Capitals are just killing the NHL right now, and they've already locked up home ice in the Eastern Conference, and have a chance to lock up home ice for the Stanley Cup Finals as I write this post. I'm going to have to find a way to get to at least one game, preferably against the Penguins, but it doesn't really matter. Either way, it's an opportunity to experience the playoff atmosphere up close and personal, and I think it'd be freaking amazing.

Wow, only 26 more tasks to list!