A couple months ago, I discovered that I had been accepted to the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program at UMB. Finally, a journey that began with my registering for the GRE’s in January 2011 culminated in a teary-eyed, sweaty-palmed ultimately victorious meeting with the department chair last April in which I received my acceptance letter with trembling fingers. Naturally, I am only writing about it now because…grad school gave, and grad school hath taken away…and I soon became mired neck-deep in the unclean dreck I had just worked so hard to wade into. But I did want to take a moment and touch on the things the Greek and I did to celebrate…this and my recent birthday, a day now, since my thirties, celebrated by everyone but me (including all the citizens of Canada since it also happens to be their independence day). I was playfully calling it my third 29th birthday, but you’ll also notice that I have very saliently and intentionally neglected to account for the passage of time in the profile of this very blog. And so begins the period of my life in which I am only truthful and forthcoming of my age when not doing so is considered a felony…to be immediately followed, around the age of 50 I imagine, by my “Couldn’t give a shit how old I am” stage.
Conundrum: How do two suburban misanthropes enjoy the peak blooming of DC’s cherry blossoms and not have to interact with any people? I asked the Greek if he wanted to see the cherry blossoms that bloom along the National Mall (because it’s one of those things people nearby like me vow to do but then never get around to). He said sure, but he didn’t want to deal with the crowds and could I maybe play hooky from work some day during the week, confirming 2 things for me: 1.) That he had the same idea I had in my brain that I hadn’t shared, and 2.) That, apparently, people still say “playing hooky”. And why am I suddenly talking about something that occurred a season ago? Well, because this didn’t end up happening (see “Bad hostess”), but we did finally recently end up doing our ‘burb equivalent- the nearby nurseries, an outing that is both fun and utilitarian- since I’m pretty sure you can’t take the cherry blossoms on the National Mall home and plant them in your garden, speaking of felonies. This is an especial treat for me because, as we can now almost certainly conclude, I am an inveterate ‘brown thumb‘. The accidental arboreal Angel of Death, if you will. And I must accept that the most beautiful gardens I shall ever have will be the ones I create in my mind.
They had magnolias there that were lovely…far beyond the price range of the pay grade I recently forced upon myself…but lovely all the same. And of course cherry blossoms. And we have made another decision, or rather, another attempt to make gardening happen for me: azaleas (if only I were as tenacious at actual gardening as I am my unwillingness to accept my botanical limits!). Reputably quite hearty and even the dwarf bushes we had our eye on will grow big and cover more surface area at once. The Greek has proposed we come back later (which I guess is about now!) when they’ve filled in a little more (Translation: For you, we’re really going to need them to be at the peak of their health, my little flower assassin. Aren’t you adorable? You kill everything you touch, like some sort of manual Medusa).
After that, we dined for the first time at The Iron Bridge Wine Co., a small, dark, charming little place on Route 108. I departed from my normally vegetarian diet and had the diver scallops. The Greek had the duck in a delicate brown sauce. And between us, we split a bottle of a red blend from South America whose name I can’t recall. And for the close of this sumptuous feast, we each had an enormous crème brûlée with, get this, a thick layer of chocolate ganache gloriously discovered at the bottom and topped with fresh blackberries.
For my birthday, we went to a place called Honey Pig, a Korean BBQ my fellow grad students are basically obsessed with. Now that I’ve been there, I’m beginning to understand the prepossession. At my behest, our first trip there was actually the prior week when my mother took me out for a birthday dinner. This picture was taken at Honey Pig, part deux, when the Greek and I found ourselves back there a few days after my birthday: thinly sliced pork belly cooked right at the table (bring a hand fan; it gets hot in there!), udon noodle soup with fish cakes, and kimchi of course. Additionally, and it goes without saying, I have also clearly fallen off the vegetarian wagon for this one as well. Sadly, I am like Julius Ceasar: when I celebrate, something has to die.