Gettin’ Durty

I love brunch. I love college football. I love crazy nights bouncin’ in da club.***

In short, I love Saturdays.

50 Cent vs_ Javi Mula - Come On In Da Club (Dj Oleg Petroff & Dj Cvet Mash Up)(P.S.- This is a really good Photoshop and not an actual album cover.)

This past Saturday, I moved a lot of mulch. 1,500 pounds of mulch.

Unlike the New England Patriots’ offseason, it was awesome.

20130728-215416.jpg

20130728-215255.jpg

Most importantly, I got to hang with 34 dear friends. We ate bagels, drank water, and sweated a lot. A whole lot. We also picked up trash and debris, powerwashed dirty stuff, trimmed hedges, moved a bunch of mulch, planted tons of plants, flowers, and trees, and removed one wickedly stubborn stump. We actually used an axe. It was kind of awesome.

20130728-215136.jpg

Why?

Because there was a need.

Amanda taught at Poe Middle School for seven years. The school has a huge courtyard that was in worse shape than Lindsay Lohan’s career. Our church, Capital City Church, is always looking for ways to serve the community. Amanda and one of our dear friends, Paul, were the visionaries, Capital City Church funded the project, and tons of church friends, work friends, high school friends, and all-around-awesome dudes and dudettes came out to help. The work was hard and anti-glamorous, but thousands of little kids will be able to enjoy the beautiful flowers, plants, and trees in that courtyard for many years.

And that is what life is all about. Loving and serving others. Our church is launching a new site in Kingstowne, Virginia in the fall and it is our desire to continue to do lots of community events, so stay tuned. Not all of them will be this dirty and sweaty.

I hope.

***Things I don’t actually do on Saturdays: go fishing, wear pants, or bounce in da club.

123photo

234photo

“Isn’t It Ironic?”

As four different Alanis Morissettes famously sang, life is fully of irony.  Life’s greatest irony:  we’re often too busy with life to truly enjoy life.

I’ve repeatedly found this to be the case throughout my 23 years.  When I was in middle school, I wanted to be in high school.  In high school, I wanted to be in college.  In college, I wanted to be in law school.  In law school, I wanted to be any other place in the world that wasn’t a law school.  And so on.

Yet, each time I advanced to the next stage of life, I looked back at my past and wished I had appreciated and maximized my time and opportunities so much more.  Instead of always stressing about the future, I should have cherished the present.

Case in point:  the 2013 Washington Nationals.

They are terrible.

The 2012 Nationals were studs.  They finished the season with the best record in baseball.  They made the playoffs for the first time ever.  They routinely won thrilling and exciting baseball games.  It was a magical time.  But it was a magical time often spent thinking about the road ahead, how many games we’d win next season, our future World Series titles, and our budding dynasty.

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

Although less than a year has passed, I long for those exciting nights at Nationals Park.  I desperately wish I had cherished those moments so much more.  I took them for granted because, you know, we were going to be winning division titles for the next five years.

Nope.

title

(A candid moment after winning the NL East last season. This is not happening this year.  Well, the shorts still happen.)

In short, enjoy today and stop stressing about tomorrow.

nard123

The wisest man on the planet, Andy Bernard, recently dropped some serious truth in the finale of “The Office” about this very issue.  Seriously, watch this.  And then go enjoy life.

Nacho Business

It’s time to end the great national debate:

Which burrito is best?

taco

Thankfully, our 21st Century world is full of fast food “Mexican” “restaurants.”  I’m not good at a lot of things, but I am good at eating Mexican food.  In fact, I believe that “more hot sauce” was my very first sentence (although that probably isn’t technically a sentence).  Plus, I ate nachos and/or burritos every non-breakfast meal in college for three straight years, so I have hundreds of thousands of calories of experience.

anchorman-burrito

So the next time someone asks you what the Top 5 fast food “Mexican” “restaurants” are, now you know.

5.  California Tortilla:  Sike.  This place is awful.  I pray the one by my office closes and they put a Potbelly’s in there.  Or anything else that isn’t California Tortilla.

On to the real list…

5.  Lime:  I’ve never been, but it looks cool.  And I hear the food is great and there is a salsa bar.  That automatically makes it better than Qdoba (and California Tortilla).

4.  Baja Fresh:  The name isn’t accurate because the food isn’t exactly fresh and isn’t exactly Baja (whatever that means). However, the portions are out of control, they always have coupons, and the salsa bar is ridiculous.  For dinner, my wife and I used to share a massive burrito, use a $2 coupon, and get two little “boxes” of chips and 817 mini-cups of salsa.  All for $5.  We used to run that scheme once a week and the workers didn’t even have to ask us for our order.  I always thought it would be fun to be a regular at a neighborhood restaurant.  I’m sad it was Baja Fresh.

salsa

3.  Taco Bell:  Haters gonna hate, but this place rocks.  Yes, the quality is lame. Yes, you might get Salmonella.  Yes, the “beef” might actually be horse meat.  Yes, a lot of the ingredients come out of squirt bottles.  Dude(tte), ease up and stop stressing about the little things.  Taco Bell tastes amazing.  Plus, if you stick with the Fresco menu, it can be pretty healthy too.  Don’t hate.  Embrace.

2.  Chipotle:  What was the greatest invention of the 20th Century?  The airplane? Nope.  The computer?  Nope.  “Saved by the Bell”?  Almost.  Correct answer:  Chipotle.  It’s fresh and it’s delicious.  However, they need a salsa bar.  Badly.  I’d pay a $1 extra for my burrito to get a salsa bar up in there.  They already have most of my money anyways.

1.  District Taco:  I often think about moving back to Virginia Beach someday.  However, there are a few things that keep me in the DC area:  my job, my church, my friends, the Nationals (bums!), and my mortgage.  Most importantly, District Taco.  District Taco is the best thing in DC since Teddy Roosevelt.  The food is SO good.  Plus, there is a slick salsa bar (Hello, Chipotle!).  Oh, and two random dudes quit their jobs and started making tacos and burritos because, well, they love making tacos and burritos.  This gives me hope.

Debate. Over.

Friday. Holler.

It’s Friday.

excited1

Baseball is back.

picstitch

Kristina Akra tweeted me. (Umm, hello!?!)

Amanda is coming home after a week-long absence.  (We missed her. No offense, Kristina.)

picstitch

I’m wearing yellow pants.

yellow

Free Fogo de Chao lunch.

Oh, and I’m doing a “One Direction” performance at work today.  (Hopefully I’ll still have a job on Monday.)

picstitch

Happy weekend!

What’s the Matter?

Some of us are Democrats.  Some of us are Republicans.

Some of us believe in God.  Some of us don’t.

Some of us cheer for good football teams.  Some of us cheer for the Redskins.

Despite all our differences, we all have one thing in common:

We want our lives to matter.

I should probably cite some famous philosopher or Bible verse here, but Eminem probably said it best:

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow,
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”

20130717-233410.jpg

We all want to make a difference. To leave a legacy. To live a life that people tell stories about.

Most days, I fall well short of those lofty goals.

I wake up, I iron my clothes (on a good day), I get dressed, I take the dog outside, I waste time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and sports websites, I look at Microsoft Word for ten hours, I eat junk food, I drink a few sodas, I watch TV, and then I go to sleep.

(Bleh.)

Life is supposed to be so much more than that.

In addition to trying to read, pray, and hang out with friends more, I recently started keeping a “matter list.”  Each day, I write down the ways I was a positive influence to those around me, whether stranger or friend, and how I made a difference in our world.  Much more than any Britney song or Haribo gummy snack, this simple act has revolutionized my life.  It is encouraging to actually put pen to paper (or thumb to iPhone) and record those instances, but more importantly, it has made me intentionally seek out those opportunities.  Some might be big, others seemingly small, but regardless, it has been priceless to go to bed at night and cling to the idea that today I actually counted for something (other than law firm billable hours).

Bye.

(Thanks, Em.)

A Word From Dog

I love my dog.  A lot.

He’s ferocious.

315865_10100176847637726_1501333_47874740_864378769_n

He’s hip.

zzz2

He likes cartoons.

gumby

He gets in the holiday spirit.

zzz5

He’s an avid sports fan.

zzz3

He likes my friends.

eddieandnapoleon

And, most importantly, he teaches me important life lessons:

Napoleon recently got into a tasty battle royale with a bowl of ice cream.  Like me at $1 hot dog night at Nationals Park, Napoleon went crazy and dove right into the bowl.  The frozen vanilla goodness disappeared as quickly as Lindsay Lohan’s career.  Of course, there was plenty of sticky residue left all over Napoleon.  I could have just left it there.  That would have given me more time to watch the Food Network and Napoleon would have been perfectly content to just nap the rest of the day away in his vanilla-coated fur.  For now.

However, in the long run, his fur would get all matted, he’d develop an old dairy stank, and he’d start to itch.  Thus, it was bath time.

As soon as I turned on the water, Napoleon darted out of the bathroom.  I hadn’t seen anything move that quickly since Amanda heard that Tom’s were on sale at Macy’s.  He did everything in his power to avoid the bathtub.  He ran.  He hid.  He growled.  He squirmed.  He cried.

Although he hated every second of it, a bath was exactly what he needed.

And then it hit me.

I do the exact same thing.

When I look back on my 23 years of life, I can cite plenty of frustrating moments.  Although I bemoaned them at the time, I now look back at many of those struggles as my greatest blessings.  Yep, they sucked.  Yep, they were painful.  Yep, I wish there was an easier way.  But after seeing how things played out, I’m infinitely thankful for a lot of those trials (I’d like a mulligan on a few of them).  I needed a “bath” and God was often there to provide one at the right time and right place, even if I thought it was the worst thing since “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.”  Although both the Bible and the Rolling Stones have been hollerin’ at me for years about this, it took a six-pound Chihuahua and his hatred of baths to make it clear:

Katy Perry is the real American Idol.

No wait, not that.

Our greatest struggles are often the prerequisites for our greatest victories.

Thanks, Napoleon.

photo

Justin Case You Were Wondering…

The news is usually filled with an endless bevy of depressing, frustrating, and tragic stories.

This is not one of them.

20130711-105927.jpg

For better or for worse, Justin Timberlake is one of the most influential individuals of my generation.  Music, movies, comedy, fashion, general awesomeness, and marrying Jessica Biel.  He’s got it all covered (except for Janet Jackson).  With so many hits over the years, it is finally time to decide, once and for all, JT’s five greatest songs.  Technically, JT’s top five songs according to a 30-year-old guy who should have outgrown this sort of stuff 15 years ago.JT3

Zach Morris aside:  “Suit & Tie” is terrible. (Sorry, Justin.)  The falsetto in that song is the worst thing I’ve heard since my co-worker told me the Potbelly’s across the street from our office closed.  Tragic.

JT2

If anyone is actually still reading, here are JT’s top five songs:

(1) Mirrors:  Yes, this is an unorthodox choice.  Yes, it is a brand new song.  Yes, it is JT’s best jam.  (Thanks for agreeing.)  The beat is sick, the singing is slick, and the song actually has a deep message.  However, be warned, it is a terrible karaoke song.  I’ve tried.  It’s too new.  And too slow.  And I’m a terrible singer.

JT

(2) What Goes Around…Comes Around  This was my jam during the summer of 2007.  I used to listen to it every weekday morning as I hung out in Farragut Square and ate granola bars.  One morning, a homeless guy with no legs asked me for some food.  I gave him a granola bar.  During our exchange, he tipped out of his wheelchair.  I tried to help him back up.  He got crazy mad and gave me a stank eye so hot that it made the August D.C. air feel like a crisp Alaskan breeze.  As for the song, it’s amazing, but it’s also seven minutes long.  I take naps shorter than that.

(3) Bye, Bye, Bye:   JT has some songs of better “quality,” but this song (and Britney Spears and eating at IHOP) defined my high school years.  Plus, me and some buds formed a fake boy band, memorized all the lyrics and dance moves to this song, and busted them out whenever it was borderline appropriate.  (I just realized this song is 13 years old.  And now I’m the creepy old guy still writing about it.)

byebyebye(4)  I Want You Back (Warning: if you click that link, you’ll painfully realize that the ’90s were a long time ago):  The kids who were born the day this song was released are now 16 years old.  (sigh)  Back in 1997, me and some BFFs would spend every afternoon playing “Goldeneye” on the N64 (usually rocket launchers in the Complex).  One dude’s little sister would listen to this song 8,000 times in a row.  These heart-wrenching and passionate lyrics (not really) are buried deep within my soul (really).  Oddjob was my character of choice and I’m comfortable to admit that, even if all my friends hated me because of it.  (If you don’t get any of these “Goldeneye” references, congratulations on having a life in 1997.)

(5)  Cry Me a RiverYep, “My Love” (What happened to T.I.?), “Senorita,” “Tearing Up My Heart,” and “Love Stoned” are all quality songs, but “Cry Me a River” is the song that made it cool to listen to Justin Timberlake.  No longer did a hypothetical guy have to turn down the JT on his car radio speakers when he came to a stoplight.  After “Cry Me a River” came out, that hypothetial guy was set free.  Plus, this song killed any chance that Justin and Britney would get back together, thus, leaving the door open for a hypothetical guy to swoop in and make a move…IMG_5282