Delaware Road Trip!

Another working week is drawing to an end! Kara and I are celebrating this by escaping the hustling and bustling of the city to a beach house in Delaware. Now, I doubt that we will be the only ones with this marvelous idea so I don’t expect to reach our destination until very late tonight. We will therefore stock up on snacks, riddles, music and endless car-patience..

It has been ages since I went to the beach and I have been bursting with excitement ever since we decided to go! The prospect of once again being able to splash around in the water for no apparent reason, other than that it feels good, and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin has made me power through the day like true trooper! Like a super-hero Mermaid. A Merman.

Merman

 

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Titty Titty Bang Bang

As the title indicates, me, Margot and the bros had decided to have a testosterone-laden Sunday; going to a shooting range followed by lunch at Hooter’s. This outing inspired many word puns that kept us entertained days before the actual event. “Shoot and Hoot”, “Guns and Buns”, “Barrels and Butter” and last, but not least: “Titty Titty Bang Bang”, which we crowned the winner (thank you Cate!). Yes, this is exactly the kind of kidney-rupturing hilarities you can expect from our household. Mike had two years earlier been to the Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virginia and had called ahead to ensure that it was alright to bring a foreigner. “She’s Swedish? That’s awesome! As long as she’s accompanied by an American citizen she’s welcome!”. Unfortunately he didn’t mention that you needed gun experience before you could rent a gun. We failed the ‘safety test’ (pointing the gun in a safe direction, loading the gun and secure it, unload the gun and put it back in the box). How will I ever be able to look the National Rifle Association in the eyes now?! Last time Mike went  he was given a small introduction on how to use guns before being allowed onto the range, and we thought we’d be given the same thing this time around. Unfortunately, the management had changed and instilled a BYOG (Bring Your Own Gun) policy or pass a safety test-policy before renting a gun. As we had neither we sulkily escorted our liberal asses out of there.

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Moments before our rejection. The shooting range is safely tucked away in a warehouse invisible from google maps and four minutes away from the nearest Hooter’s. Coordinates doesn’t really need to be more specific than that. When you step in you hear the muffled sounds of guns being fired and the whole shops smells of pine. All along the left wall there were rifles and, in glass counters underneath, ammunition and hand guns. On the right side there was a plethora of urban and rural camouflage- PJs. Above the ‘check-in’ counter you had a variety of paper-targets hanging; a man, a skeleton, a skeleton with a turban (terrorist-skeleton, so many of them around) and finally, Usama bin Laden. Nevermind that the man has been thoroughly executed and disposed of, he’s still a possible target and undoubtedly a top choice amongst leisure- shooters.

Moving on from the disappointment and me mumbling “But this is AMERICA! I should be allowed to fire a gun if I want to!” and acknowledging that the rule is a rather sane one, despite the fact that they could have provided the information more clearly on their website, we continued to the next stop of our manly weekend: Hooter’s.
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An unfocused picture of fried pickles. Delicious!

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I needed to use both hands to hold on to this.

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The signature dish: Chicken wings rolled in cholesterol and guilt. We estimated that they probably have 20 deep-fryers in the kitchen. By now my food habits have become so American that if anything is fried, dipped in sugar and fried again, I’ll have it!

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Me and my bosom buddies. They both smelled like spring flowers and posed like professionals. I’ve heard that there are two different recruitment criteria for Hooter’s, both involving the generosity of your… heart, obviously: Your mammary glands have to touch the wall before your nose does, or standing straight, your toes and beforementioned characteristics have to touch the wall. So for those interested, applications can be filled out here.

After lunch we decided to drive to the nearby Air and Space Museum (the second one) where the Discovery shuttle lives now. Being a bit of a space nerd, I immediately went to the space section and was all emotions as I saw the shuttle. I am, like so many others, fascinated by space and often toy with the thought of life on another planet. Being from a country that has very little space-presence, I found it jaw-dropping to see a real space rocket close-up.

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Posing in front of an engineering master piece.

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Space wear-and tear. The whole rocket is built of what looks like tiles, the above ones are from the ‘belly’.

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Ain’t it a beauty?

In the space corner there were several satellites, missiles and space costumes along with tools and other space memorabilia. Among those things were copies of records and hard drives that have been sent into space in case they would run into any aliens. A sort of business card for Earth complete with samples of the many of the languages we speak, some of our greatest architectural feats and music. I don’t think Justin Bieber made it on the last one, sorry belibers of the outer spaces. If you want him, you can come and get him. Looking at all these attempts to market earth, Mike and I started to wonder what qualifications an item has to have to make it onboard a rocket our satellite. Relevance obviously, liked by the majority and maybe necessary for our survival? Being a bit tipsy after our boob-lunch I suggested chocolate. Mike looked at me and shouted with his broadest Staten Island-accent : “Put the Cadbury- boxes in the Space Machine and walk, pal! This is NASA and we’re on a schedule”. I don’t think I have ever laughed as much at a museum in my life!

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The Air and Space museum also has a considerable amount of airplanes and war souvenirs. These are called Ho Chi Minh-sandals, are made out of car tires from the Vietnam war and are apparently very uncomfortable.

We rounded off our Sunday with a bit more violence, sex and food, with Only God Forgives (which could be one of the most pretentious and nonsensical movies I have ever seen, and I’m rather pretentious! Doesn’t qualify to be sent like the aliens at all. ) and True Blood together with some homemade Spaghetti Bolognese. Sunday at it’s best!

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Bocce

Pronounced with an aggressive italian ‘cc’, like ‘Gucci’, Bocce is the American equivalent of the European Boule. Just like Boule, Bocce is best enjoyed with friends, sun and a cold beer. I was invited to join my friend Erin’s team as they kicked off the summer outdoor season. The season lasts 8 weeks and consists of solid playing once a week, drinks during and after, and team t-shirts. Erin’s team are proud owners of the Coral/Salmon T-shirt that has winner written all over it.

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The red solo cup is a standard drinking vessel when being outdoors in the US as it’s forbidden to have any open containers with alcohol (but it’s ok with a cup) in public spaces. The red solo cup is quite iconic and a couple of weeks ago I was shown this video praising it’s existence.

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Erin working the balls.

High fives are an important ingredient for a successful game. It lightens the mood, celebrates a common goal and can be accompanied with a loud ‘YEAH!’ to really emphasize enthusiasm as you slap other people’s unwashed palms. America is the land of ‘thumbs up’, ‘high fives’ and, more and more, ‘fist bumps’. I have bruises on my palms after all the high fives I have distributed and participated in over the last couple of months. I also feel that I can be recruited to the US Navy any day now as I have perfected the art of the ‘Thumbs Up’ à la Tom Cruise. I can do both the cheering thumbs-up as well as the affirmative and authoritative thumbs-up, mostly seen by Presidents and megalomaniacs. I have also been introduced to the fist bump by a four year-old on a crowded train once. We started with the thumbs up, moved over to the peace sign when, suddenly, he clenched his little fist and moved it gently towards mine, his eyes encouraging me to do the same. It was the softest bump I have ever felt. Like two lambs cuddling with cotton-squirrel tails in heaven. As we pulled our fists apart, he ‘boomed’ the fist bump, I didn’t. Never has a child looked at me with such disappointment and disgust. It was is I had violated the bond of trust forged by the bump. I’m not Obama! I didn’t know that you had to boom! The memories of his little fist and disappointed eyes still haunt me.

The team’s high-fiving prompted the question: How did this start? Who came up with the idea of (sometimes) violently slap someone’s palm in celebration of a joint achievement? There are several possible origins and John, one of the team mates, said that it was either from a baseball game or a basketball game back in the 70s.  A quick internet search showed that the first high five recorded was at 1977 when Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Glenn Burke spontaneously high-fived fellow outfielder Dusty Baker after a homerun. Others point to the 1978-79 Louisville basketball team that high-fived on the court.

There are rules to the high-five: always watch the elbow of your high-five mate to ensure accuracy; never leave a buddy hanging; and always have a hand sanitizer on you. National High-Five Day is third Thursday of April. Now you know.

It is a versatile gesture and you can high-five about practically anything, and as long as you are in America, someone will always be there to meet your palm; If your team scores- High Five, if you finished and assignment- High Five, took a shit, voted or mowed your lawn: High Five. I have assimilated so well to US culture and fully embraced the High Five that even if there isn’t anyone there when a high five-moment arises, I high-five myself. Best demonstrated by this:

High Five myself

After Bocce, me and Erin enjoyed a wonderful left-overs dinner and listened to Bob Marley to really get into the summer mood.

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The music-corner

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All in all, a very good Wednesday!

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The Weekend

After the antibiotics had worked it’s magic and I was back on my feet, it was time for the bro’s annual ‘Christmas in July’-party. We borrowed a Christmas tree from Chris’ mum in Anapolis and the whole apartment was sparkling with colourful lights, including the home gym. Me and Brian embarked on a new bourbon-infusion adventure; candy-bacon. Brian fried the bacon in brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon, poured the fat and sugars into the bourbon, froze it and removed the fat. The day after I took over and filtered the mix for six hours, very meticulous work.

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Brian putting the tree up, including the tackiest Cristmas-star known to man complete with 55 different colour-changes per minute. That star could work extra at nightclubs in Berlin.

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Mike’s sad sock taking centre stage at the mantle piece.It might have had other purposes than footwear by the looks of it.

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It’s so nice to get the whole family together for Christmas.

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As the sensation of having been committed to a mental asylum complete with blinking lights subsided, the coordinated dancing started. We also witnessed the ‘Crip-Walk’ majestically performed by Jackie and there was also a pretty serious twerking-competition going on at one point of the evening. Twerking is when you squat and shake dat ass, you can also stand on your arms and shake your ass. 33 students in San Diego recently got suspended for being part of a ‘twerking’ video as the dance is very explicit, to put it mildly. So serious shit went down in our flat. Of course, being white and in the ages between 25 and 35, we failed miserably at the twerking to look like anything else then escaped rhinos trying to order burritos with their asses.

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George W. joined the party. Doesn’t he look fab in drag?

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‘Tis the season to be jolly!

The day after was all about brunch at Cate’s and the main requirement was to bring Champagne. Not a problem. Mimosas were abundant and I had my first drink since antibiotics. Needless to say one was quite enough. Scones, bacon, scrambled eggs and pie was the food galore we all enjoyed and I later walked home, soaking up the sun feeling very content with life. The cherry on top was when I ran into Max, a strapping young man I met at the Bluegrass festival two months ago. We have been trying to meet up and watch another midnight movie at the E Street Cinema but never managed to make it happen. So imagine my surprise as I’m walking down the street and moments before seeing him think: ‘I wonder what Max is up to these days?’, and as if by magic, there he is standing right in front of me! I love when that happens, so strange yet so fantastic, as if the universe really is on your side at that particular moment, or as Max so articulately put it: ‘Aw, SNAP! It’s you!’

I also bumped into this:

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It’s ok honey, we’ve all had days when we just want to slip into our big lady-pants and disappear from the world.

DC:ers who bruncheon

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E.T. Phone Home

There is always a moment in a traveller’s life when you turn into E.T. Lost, stranded and confused with the only desire to phone home. I had that this Monday when I woke up with tonsils the size of peaches, swimming in my own sweat and a headache like I had been drinking tequila for the past 25 years. Searching in my memory I remembered a similar feeling from when I was 17 and had tonsillitis three times in a row. Oh no! Tonsillitis means antibiotics, antibiotics means prescription, prescriptions means doctor and doctor means.. what? Where would I find a doctor? Or a clinic? What kind of clinic would I go to? What would my insurance accept? Should I go to a hospital? I don’t like hospitals! I started to panic and did the only thing reasonable at the time: I phoned home.

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As always my dear mother has all the answers. Standing in the garden of our country house, no doubt in the process of clearing out weeds, she gave me four excellent options, psyched me up and ushered me out to the doctor. I found out that in the US you can go to an ‘Urgent Care Facility’ for quick help for less serious stuff. I have no idea if this will be covered by my insurance, but it wasn’t too bad: $85 to see the doctor, $15 for the doctor to do the test and $35 for the antibiotics. Sure, compared to the NHS or Swedish health care these are crazy prizes. Oh well. We can’t all live in a country where there is affordable or free health care!

All is well that ends well, and I’m definitely on the mend now.

My bro’s have been my heroes this last week, wether it was paying for my taxi at 3.30 am on a Sunday morning or taking me for a drive in the rain to Old Town Alexandria, to a genuine English pub and ordering a good old curry when I started to feel better, these two have shown that there is indeed a home here for a Swede.

So Brian and Mike, thank you for being there for an alien.

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The Department of Magic

 

 

 

I think I might have found the entrance:

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This is just by the Capitol Building, along Independence Avenue and as much as I have stretched my imagination, I have no idea why there is a striped antenna on the waterpost. Is it remote-controlled perhaps? It makes me wonder every time I jog past. I convinced my friend Erik that it was in fact a sniper marker, placed there for snipers to keep track of distance and wind speed. He believed me for a full minute!

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