Fireworks at Iwo Jima

Want a fabulous view of the DC Fourth of July fireworks? Turns out that you don’t have to camp out all day in the nasty summer heat and humidity, among the throngs of sweaty, patriotic people. In our case, you just have to head down the street.

We are usually too lazy to plan a Fourth of July gathering. Too hot, too many crowds, too many logistics to deal with, etc. But here in our last summer in our nation’s capital (ack, it feels weird to say that), we decided to do as the Romans do and check out the fireworks, along with hundreds of thousands of other celebrants.

Okay, so we’re not crazy. We weren’t about to camp out downtown on the Mall all day long. I did that plenty as a child (hi, Mom!) and while it’s certainly a unique experience, it’s not something I’m raring to sign up for again.

I have to say that I’m really proud of how well everything worked out this year. It was all quite perfect, actually. Around 4 pm, we packed up an amazing (if I do say so myself) picnic dinner, drove down to Rosslyn and parked at the public lot next to Holiday Inn, walked 0.7 mile to Iwo Jima, and claimed our spot on the grass. There was practically nobody there yet at that time.

We had the perfect view of the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.

Our view from Iwo Jima in Rosslyn

On the picnic menu: hummus, tabbouleh with goat cheese, charred corn salad, feta dip (spicy!), avocado lime fruit salad, various accompanying veggies/chips/pitas, and fruity sodas. For dessert: brownies and lime white chocolate chip cookies.

We ate very well.

It was a very hot and humid day yesterday, and the bugs were out in full force. Thankfully, it was also very cloudy, which saved us sunburns, at least. The clouds looked quite ominous all night long, and it even sprinkled a few times, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle.

We chatted, played a few rounds of the weirdo card game Fluxx, knitted, and watched all of the amusing people around us. There was an overly friendly young man in head to toe Under Armour who wanted to play Euchre with everyone around him. There was a crazily made up woman who waited by herself for at least couple of hours, shooing people away who tried to set their blankets down nearby, because she was supposedly saving the space for 25 friends. (They eventually arrived. It was a church group.) There was a rotund Asian baby sitting on his grandfather’s lap.

The fireworks were delightful (if not a little anticlimactic), of course. Note to fireworks planners: crowds LOVE it when you do heart shapes. Just sayin’.

The show wrapped up around 9:20-9:25. We fought the sea of humanity on the way back to our car, and won. We made it back to our apartments before 10. Pretty amazing, considering.

We like the Fourth of July. I think Thomas said it best: “You have to love a secular holiday in which people celebrate that it’s pretty cool to live here. And it ends with watching things blow up. Pretty cool.”


What I’ll Miss About VA: Our Apartment

Some of you know that I worked as a part-time dog walker several years ago. Pam was one of my regular clients. Every Tuesday and Thursday, at lunch time, I would head over to her place and walk her ridiculously energetic German shorthaired pointer, Hanna Bean. Man, what a handful she was. Anyway, I always admired Pam’s apartment. Located in a garden-style complex, old, super charming, and tastefully decorated. She lived there by herself and it was the kind of place where I always imagined myself living.

Pam and I eventually struck up a casual friendship, and I would sometimes meet her at the dog park with Hannah after work. One day, we were talking about my living situation, which was a bit up in the air. I had been living with Kim, my long-time college roommate, at the time, but she was getting ready to move out with her boyfriend, a guy named Matt she was really into. (They’re married now. Hi, Kim and Matt!) That was when Pam told me that her company was actually going to transfer her to South Carolina within the next few months, and oh, would I like her apartment? Um, YES PLZ. All I needed to do was convince Thomas to move in with me.

Obviously, that worked out, and we moved in to our place on June 2006. It’s amazing how quickly the last five years have flown by.

Our living room in 2006 - before it became dusty and cluttered. Oh well.

The apartment isn’t perfect. It’s on the first floor, so I don’t feel safe opening our bedroom window – sucks on cool, breezy nights. The kitchen is TINY with no dishwasher or garbage disposal. Our walls are super thin, and I’ve spent many an hour cursing our upstairs neighbors (the first was an old, large man with insomniac and polka playing tendencies; the second, young ass teenybopper types who also never sleep, stomp around in platform heels, and leave cigarette butts all over our stoop). There is no central AC – our only source of cold air in the unbearably humid DC summers are two loud, clunky units that never seem to work that well.

Wallace's first night home! Notice Neko's wary expression. We'd only had her for a week at that point.

But, the good far outweighs the bad. It is a really beautiful building, from the ’30s or ’40s – I’d take it over a generic highrise any day. Our landlord is the nicest, most accommodating person we’ve ever dealt with – he has never raised our rent in the five years we’ve lived here, and he has not charged us an extra cent for owning a dog and cat (the dog is a pitbull, mind you). It is a great location, in a family-friendly neighborhood that’s not too far from 2 Metro stations and just a short walk away from Lost Dog Cafe. Ballston, Clarendon, and the city are quick car trips away. Parking has always been free and ample. We are just a stone’s throw away from the divine Custis and W&OD trails. And finally, have I told you yet what we pay in rent? The amount that has never gone up since we moved in? $825. Total. We pay $412.50 each. Paying that little in rent should be illegal in this area.

No matter where we end up, I think that we will always remember this apartment. It’s where we first established our life together. We adopted our first dog and cat here. Thomas proposed in our dining room. Even though I look forward to upgrading a bit (hopefully!)  in Seattle, nothing will ever compare to this old place. I’ll really miss it!