Tag Archives: books

Satisfying My Inner Nerd

I have to blog right away about this weekend before I forget all of the details of why it was awesome.

First, I want to begin by including this video of Wil Wheaton talking about embracing your own nerdiness.

Well, writing, reading, authors, literacy, and the written word.  Those things make my inner nerd squee.

This weekend was the National Book Festival that was put on by the Library of Congress.  The festival used to only be one day, but now it is a two-day affair, which means, I spent two days on the Washington Mall listening to authors speak, collecting free books, bookmarks, and other paraphernalia pertaining to writing, reading, libraries, and the written word.  As an aspiring writer myself, I was in total nerdvana.

The book festival is an amazing, and free, event.

bookfest

I went to Poetry Outloud and listened to young high school students recite poetry, out loud of course.  Then I saw Margaret Atwood, Taylor Branch, the editor of the Washington Post’s food section, Bonnie Benwick.  And that was just yesterday.

Today my friend Lisa and I arrived early and decided we would camp out in the Fiction tent all day.  She wanted to see Khaled Hosseini, (author of The Kite Runner), who was speaking at the end of the day.  We wanted to get there early so that we could get good seats and just camp our butts there all day, which we did. The strategy paid off too, because we were in the first row.

As a result, I got to see Terry McMillan (author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale), Christopher Buckley, Adam Johnson, Roxana Robinson, Mark Halperin, and of course, Khaled Hosseini.

I took some fantastic pictures on my iPhone.  As an aside, I have to say, I’m not overly impressed with the iPhone 5’s battery, which died on me both days.  I tried to be conservative about how much I used it.  I only tweeted one picture of each of the authors today and tried to keep my phone off as much as possible, but it still drained very quickly.  Inconvenient to say the least.

From a writer’s perspective, I was in total nerd heaven.  I was able to listen to several prominent authors talk about their creative process in how they develop their stories and decide what is important.  This is like, Inside The Actor’s Studio for writers.  They just share all of this with us for free. (OK, seriously, they are there to peddle their latest wares, also, but so what!  It’s still amazing!)

From a former fat-girl’s perspective…I do not even know where to begin!

I went to the book fest about three years ago I think.  I went with my brother and his wife.  I was so sick.  Between my asthma, inability to walk, severe back pain, this event was just a nightmare.  I had such a hard time getting around, and standing around was equally as impossible.

This weekend, I walked miles and miles.  My friend Lisa drove us into the city and parked at her office, which is about a mile from the Mall.  Then, we walked all over the festival and then back to her car.  We did that both days. Also, today, we met up with friends from our writer’s group and walked to Starbucks after and then back to her car.  It was not very far out of the way, but just a year ago, I could not have done any of this.

I also met up with a former co-worker of mine who I have not seen in more than two years.  Reggie is just the sweetest guy, and although we keep in touch on Facebook, etc, it’s just not the same as seeing and speaking with him in person.  He has followed my weight loss journey via Facebook and this blog, but he still could not get over how different I looked from the last time he saw me.  It was so nice to see the joy on his face and have him tell me how great I looked.  I love that my journey has made the people I care about as happy as it has made me.  I know they want me to be happy and healthy, they are thrilled to see me doing well.  I love to see that reflected in their eyes.

I hope you all find a way to satisfy your inner nerds.  In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the bookfest!

Me & Reggie

Me & Reggie

Bonnie Benwick

Bonnie Benwick

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Mark Halperin

Mark Halperin

Christopher Buckley

Christopher Buckley

Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson

Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan

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Old Friends and New

Yesterday, a couple of my college friends from the University of Maryland came to DC for a visit.  They currently reside in Delaware.  They married each other as soon as they graduated and they now have two precious little girls, ages 8 and 10, to which I can only say, “OMG they are 8 and 10 already?!”

They wanted to bring the girls to DC to see some of the Smithsonian museums and visit with some of their friends, especially Miss Colleen whom they have not seen in about four years.  It’s been so long that the girls do not even remember me, which is sad.

Liz & Steve contacted me last week and asked me if I knew of an inexpensive place to stay close to DC.  They have family in Maryland, but they are in Baltimore, which is kind of far.  I told them that my apartment building has a guest suite for $100 per night, which is cheaper than anything they will find hotel-wise considering DC is a high-priced market for hotels.  To this they said, “Book ’em, Dano!”

They arrived late yesterday afternoon, which was perfect for me since I had to work yesterday.  I pulled into my parking lot just as they were unloading the car.  Liz was already inside.  I pulled in next to Steve and the girls and hopped out of the car.  Immediately, the youngest girl Sarah, testing my cool factor, asked, “Do you like Harry Potter?”  Not hello.  Not nice to meet you.  “Do you like Harry Potter?”

To which I replied conspiratorially, “I do like Harry Potter!  Do you like Harry Potter?”

“I love Harry Potter!” she replied.  Having passed her rigorous examination of my taste in books, she then shared with me every facet of her love of said stories.  All.  Night.  Long.

After getting them settled, I showed them my apartment, and both girls were very excited to see my four bookshelves filled with books, which they immediately scanned for proof of my interest in the great HP, while I changed into more casual clothes.  Then we walked down to the village to find a good restaurant for dinner.

cakelove

We went to a Chinese restaurant, which was wonderful.  We talked for a good long time.  It was nice.  I haven’t seen Liz & Steve in forever.  They are great fun.  Then I mentioned a place the girls would just love.  I mentioned Cake Love, which sells cupcakes and cake pops in addition to regular cakes.  This is an awesome place.  As soon as I said cupcakes, Ellie, their older daughter, turned and looked at me, her whole face lit up and said, “Cupcakes?!”  Then she turned to parents and said, “Can we get cupcakes?”  To which, they replied, “Thanks a lot, Colleen.”  Hey, anytime, guys.

We took a good long walk through my neighborhood, stopping to get cupcakes of course.  Cake Love is right by the Shirlington Library and the Signature Theatre.  Liz, becoming increasingly jealous of my neighborhood turned to Steve and said, “A nice walkable neighborhood.  A theatre.  A library.  A bike path.  Wonderful restaurants.  Honey sell your dental practice and let’s move here!”

signature

Ellie, too excited for words, looked at me and said, “Can we go in the library?”  I was astounded.  Her level of exuberance was off the charts.  One would have expected her to be saying, “Can we visit Hogwarts?”  She was that excited.  About the library.

Sarah chimed in with, “Yeah, let’s go to the library!”

“Your girls are book nerds!”  I said to my friends.  “Awesome!”  Kindred spirits, all of them.  Both are big readers and Liz is a former librarian, which explains the girls’ love of the library.

In the doorway of the library, they keep a stash of old books that the library is selling.  Ellie holds up an encyclopedic style book and says, “Look mom!  Pompeii!”  I was cracking up.  I remembered being obsessed with Pompeii, when I was just about her age.  But don’t worry, she is still a kid with kid interests.  She expressed the same level of excitement when she asked if she could borrow a book, “Look mom!  Fairies!”

They bought a selection of book from the front.  Sadly, no books were borrowed.

Now, my writer’s group meets on Wednesday, and this week, they were meeting at the Shirlington Library.  If they saw me wandering around the library, I’m sure they were thinking, “WTF?”  I did see them at the end of the meeting as I was watching the girls outside near the fountains while their parents picked up some food at the grocery store.

They also loved these yarn-bombs which are all over Shirlington.

busstop

Before that, however, we walked on the bike path for while and I gave them the grand tour of my neighborhood.  There are rent-a-bike’s on the path, which they were also thrilled about.  Then we walked back up the hill and played games for a bit.

I just love their girls.  They are so funny.  They talked nonstop from the moment I got out of my car until I went back to my apartment to sleep.  I think I maybe understood 1/3 of what they said, but I loved every second of it.  I cannot believe I have missed the last four years of their lives.  I will not be making that mistake again.  And it was great to see Liz & Steve, too.

I was so exhausted, I passed out cold at 1130pm.  But I had a great time!  We plan to meet for dinner tonight after my second writer’s group.  I cannot wait!

What? I Am Not The Center Of The Universe?

OK, maybe I’m the center of the Colleeniverse, and blogging about myself everyday certainly reaffirms that notion.  But I have conceded that I am not really the center of the rest of the universe. 

There are two events taking place today that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me, yet both are consuming every thought in my head and every ounce of my focus.  One is of a celebratory nature, the other more solemn. 

My niece, who is the actual center of the universe, is graduating from pre-K today and despite her request that I attend, I cannot be there to help her celebrate.  If I could choose to be anywhere today, it would be with her.  I will see her this weekend, and shower her with love, kisses, and presents, as aunties are wont to do, but I really wish I could be there today to cheer her on. 

The second, more solemn event…a good friend and fellow writer is having surgery.  He has been suffering from a horrible illness and today will determine if his treatment has been successful.  I hope that has been.

So, instead of thinking of me, my general health, my weight loss progress, my mental health, and all the petty problems that plague my life, I am asking that everyone cheer for my niece and send good wishes to my friend. 

Better yet, show your good wishes and buy one of his books or his music.

Writing About People, Places, & Things – Book

The Girl, The Drugs, & The Man Who Could Not Drink – Book

Cash & Carry – Music (also available on iTunes)