Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from the Chicago to DC POV

I never understood why New Year's Eve is such a big deal. It's another day of a week of a month of a year of a decade of a century, etc. What's so special about it?

The sequin dresses, over-the-top partying, and ball drop never did much for me. I'm more of a "seeing the symbolism" behind the holiday rather than a "let's get wasted and forget the year" type of person.

It is with this thought that I urge you all to enjoy your New Year's Eve. Get wasted if you have to. Kiss someone had midnight if you feel so inclined. Get down witcho bad self. Do whatever it is you've gotta do to get through the night. But -- at the end of it -- remember what New Year's Eve means.

A dictionary definition won't provide any insight. You've got to do a little detective work of your own. Pick that brain apart. It might do you some good!

Cheers! I wish you a happy and healthy 2010.

Here's to hoping the next year is better than the last.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Don't Know A Lot, But I've Learned A Little -- 2009 in Review

History has proven that life is full of on-going struggles. Great battles between mind and spirit take place daily. The movies during the holiday season are proof of this. I most recently saw Sherlock Holmes. Granted -- the story didn't have much of a plot but it kept you on a mental journey that goes as close to full-circle as it can.

As a child, most of my lessons were learned from Disney movies, the (original) Power Rangers, the Disney Channel, or books read in literature class. While I'm not sure whether or not they were the cause for my mental preparedness in life, I must give these muses much credit for helping me get to where I am today.

My life's greatest struggle to date was the year of 2009. Never before had there been such a lengthy time span that's sole purpose was to beat me to the ground the second I got back up again.

The first punch was a sucker punch. Circa 12 a.m., I do believe I may have been drinking the night before. I had finished writing a speech I had wanted to give for over three years for one of my sorority's functions. Then I got a call telling me my dog was dead. Tears of sorrow ensued. Gasps for air followed. The life was being sucked out of me.

This isn't to say Coco was my "best friend" -- but she came pretty damn close. There were times when I was growing up that I would sit atop the staircase leading to the second floor in our house. There's a huge skylight there and it makes for quite the echo, so I would sit there with her while playing guitar and singing songs. I'll never forget doing that. She always seemed so happy to just be sitting with me. It's as if I never had to say anything, she just knew what I was thinking.

Then there was the shot straight to my gut followed by a quick rip to my heart. It was around 6 p.m. when my Bubbe (may she too rest in peace) called. I was babysitting. She told me I'd need to call her right back as soon as I was finished. But I couldn't. I knew something was wrong. So -- for the first time in my ENTIRE life -- she yelled at me, telling me I needed to sit down and to also get out of my babysitting engagement for the night. My dad had passed away.

This was on January 17th, not even 12 months ago.

Today, however, is another occasion all on its own. 10 years ago tonight, my dad got the call that changed my family's life forever.

If my memory is correct, I was rocking out to a VHS recorded version of 'N SYNC's visit to the Rosie show earlier that day. My cousin Hannah and sister Hilary were upstairs doing something. My parents were sitting around, watching TV I assume. And then the flood of frenzied hysterics. He got the call, he tried leaving, I was a bawling mess. All I can still remember is bawling my eyes out and then racing to our basement fax machine to use the phone line. I called three people: 1 - my ex-boyfriend/close friend at the time Luke, my best friend Lily, and my other close friend Keegan (may she too rest in peace). I'm no longer close with any of those people but there role in my life that night will never be forgotten.

The rest of that night feels like a blur. I was so convinced that Y2K was going to become a reality that the thought of my dad having a heart transplant on New Years Eve 1999 felt like a joke.

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed. An entire decade is now history. I was standing by the bus stop on my way home from work last night when I realized, "I am 22. I am a woman. And -- between the years of 1999 and now, I grew up."

The past 10 years have been the some of the most memorable of my entire life. I will never forget them. They are the years in which I graduated 8th grade, record 2 CDs of original music, walked the warning track at Fenway Park, sat in the Cubs dugout at Wrigley Field, played lead trumpet in jazz band, studied at one of the most world-renowned music camps, studied songwriting with John Mayer's old professors at Berklee, saw every tour 'N SYNC ever did, met Good Charlotte three times, saw Christina Aguilera live, experienced what it was like to be at a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Concert, got into my first choice college (and 10 others), pledged a sorority, traveled to three countries, lettered in a varsity high school sport, boycotted watching the White Sox in the 2005 world series, went to all four parks at Disney World in one day, learned to drive/got into a car accident, saw the Cubs at Spring Training, became buddies with George Clooney's dad, graduated college ON TIME and -- finally -- survived the biggest amount of any pain/suffering I've ever had to endure.

So as this decade and year come to a close, I ask you to take a moment for yourself. Sit there. Pause whatever it is you're doing. And think: how have I changed in the past decade? Who was there for it? Who's still here? Then ... I beg you savor all of the bad and realize that without it, the good wouldn't have felt nearly as good.

I don't know much, but I know this -- If I can survive this year, then anyone can survive anything.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas From The Chicago to DC POV

This is my first Christmas not spent with my family. Sure -- we're Jewish -- but that doesn't mean this feels right.

I'm used to a "White Christmas" even though we don't have a tree. My mother grew up Irish Catholic (and later converted to Judaism before marrying my dad), so we always had stockings by the fire with a few gifts. There were even two years spent in Phoenix, Az. with my Christmas-celebrating Grandma Irene (may she RIP) where there WAS a tree AND presents AND cookies left out for Santa Claus.

I guess you could say my sister and I grew up with the best of both worlds -- Hannukah for eight days and some sort of celebration for Christmas.

Now -- that's not to say we celebrated the birth of Christ. We didn't. Not by a long shot. And no -- watching Midnight Mass with our mom on TV while we played with our laptops or dogs in the background does not count as celebrating the birth of our non-savior. Christmas to our family was a time to enjoy family.

My most recent Christmas memory includes the 45 minute drives to a near-by suburb to have a Lobster-pasta sauce dinner complete with cocktails, Apples to Apples, baked clams, and crazy antics.

Last year was our first Christmas without my dad. He was sitting alone, in Northwestern University hospital, waiting for a new heart and kidney. It had just snowed a pretty massive snow in Chicago and my mom wasn't exactly used to driving the mean streets after a vicious holiday storm, let alone the Edens Expressway.

I manned the iPod with my festive holiday my playlist including all the classics (Bing, Frank, Dean, The Andrews Sisters) and some recent newbies ('N SYNC, Christina Aguilera, Natalie Merchant, Mariah Carey). We even played Adam Sandler's "Channukah Song" -- that was always a Christmas Eve tradition in our Volvo on the way to the 'burbs.

But the ride didn't feel right. Dad wasn't there. And to think -- just a year before -- my sister and I were buzzed off champagne, embarrassed at how loud our dad's laugh was while playing Apples to Apples. We had no idea that he wouldn't be around for the next Christmas, let alone the next year.

This year, I have no idea what my family is doing. I'm in DC and they're in Chicago (or least, I'm assuming they are).

For the first time in my life, I don't have to call my Grandma Irene to wish her a Merry Christmas. It always felt like a chore back in the day, but now I wish I could call her ... if only to hear her festive chuckle.

I'll be spending my Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Alexandria, Va. But my heart will still always be in Chicago.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A DC Snow Day

DC never gets "snow days". This angered me a bit upon moving to the District for four years of college. But due to this weekend's thundersnow experience, I got what I always wanted -- a day to do absolutely nothing because it snowed.

You see -- it's rare to get a snow day in Chicago. They are elusive and exclusive, so when they happen ... you count your lucky stars. This weekend in DC was no different.

The clock hadn't even struck 4:56 p.m. on Friday when my boss told me I could leave for the day. No one could believe the forecasts, but I being the "Snow Hopeful" was happy for the news. I fled this office with one song on my mind -- "Let it Snow" by Dean Martin was on repeat the whole bus ride home.

I, along with my closest friends, were part of the lone members of the DC-bar-district paying customers during the greatest storm in DC history consumed the city in white, powdery dust.

It was my best friend's birthday. So who cares if it was snowing? We braved the storm, had our fill of debaucherours fun a-la our undergrad Greek Life days, and were surrounded by maybe less than 500 others in the entire Adams Morgan area.

Adams Morgan was never a favorite of mine. I find it to be a disgusting hell-hole of vile human activity and copious amounts of drinking. This Friday night was special though. We hopped between two bars -- Bourbon (where we spent my 22nd Birthday) and Tom Toms. These bars are notorious (as are all Adams Morgan bars) for being sweaty, crowded late-night party spots for those looking to drink their work week away. It was not that place once the snow started.

Friday night's Adams Morgan was full of folks in snow boots, ugly Christmas sweaters, scarves, and hats. It was like being in Chicago without having to pay the $400 seasonal airline ticket. I felt home for the first time in 4.5 years. It was wonderful.

That wasn't the end of it. In the words of the most cliched story tellers, 'twas only the beginning!

2 inches of snow (give or take) fell in the District every hour until late Saturday night.

Monday, I got my snow day from work. Granted, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. in a frenzy about whether or not the snow day would mean a day off from work only to find an e-mail in my inbox saying I could stay home.

A few Gilmore Girls episodes and some Chinese food later, I took a nap only to wake up and realize: "2009 is almost over."

It was in that moment that I felt like Dorothy in the poppy fields overlooking the Emerald City. The snow woke me up and rekindled my fire. I've had the same dreams since I was 9-years-old. The snow reminded me that I've got to get to work if I want to make those happen.

The Greatest Snow Fall in DC History

Dear Chicago to DC Faithful:

The following features photos from this weekend's historic THUNDERSNOW storm in the Nation's Capital. A write-up on the experience is coming shortly. Stay tuned. And in the meantime ... enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Apologies For Neglecting You, Chicago to DC

This writer must apologize for her wayward ways. It appears that since my tenure on We Love DC started, my poor blog has been left a desolate wasteland. There has been no original content in weeks and I feel horrible about it.

But fear not Chicago to DC readers! A change is coming!

What is there to look forward to? Well, 2010 for one! For those of you who have followed this blog and taken my year's journey with me, you know that 2009 has been a difficult one. Look for a "Year In Review" piece just before the New Year in addition to a personal wrap-up of this year's THUNDER SNOW!

Yes. You heard me. THUNDER SNOW! Not sure what I'm talking about? Visit fellow blogger Karl Johnson's post on We Love DC dot com for the details.

In short -- the winter wonderland I've wanted since moving to DC in the Fall of 2005 is coming ... and it's coming in one fowl swoop. We're expecting anywhere between 10-20 inches of snowfall (in form a of a "thunder snow storm") this weekend. Look for photos and a write-up regarding the storm after it hits.

My best to all of you this holiday season,

R.H. Levitin

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December's One-Liner Of The Month

"When you stop day dreaming and start living, things really pick up."