Music festival or food festival?

As I lament my return to the real world from an absolutely amazing weekend with 8 of my favorite people and 2 of my favorite dogs (and one of my absolute favorite American holidays!), I’m just sitting here staring at my calendar and procrastinating getting out of bed. I’m like, “man, what do I have to look forward in the next couple of weeks?”

All summer, I’ve been meaning to plan a trip to Blacksburg for some business, a trip to Fort Lauderdale to visit one of my best friends, and to also finish the entire moving process that I began way back in FEBRUARY! BUT…instead of planning or really thinking more about any of those, I ended up scrolling all the way into September and remembering that my tickets have already been purchased for LANDMARK MUSIC FESTIVAL! I AM SO ECSTATIC.

And frankly even more exciting than the festival itself, at the moment (because I’ve been wanting to see Drake, live, for a while now), is this announcement that famed chef José Andrés is going to be curating the food court at the festival. If you read ANYTHING that I wrote about Firefly Music Festival, this year or last, you know how much I love the food at festivals. I’m happy to see that Landmark will absolutely, guaranteed-ly be no exception!

So. pumped. September: my birthday, Ohio State, and LANDMARK.

The rest of summer will just be filled in with random odds and ends at this point. :)

Lake vacation!

Good afternoon, friends!

As you know, the 4th is coming up. America’s birthday falls on a Saturday this year, which means the federal government has been gracious enough to give us the day before – Friday, July 3rd – off from our formal duties in the office. Therefore, a bunch of friends and I are scooting down to a secluded house on the lake in southwest Virginia, where we all went to college, to hang out, catch up, and just enjoy some general America-based shenanigans!

I’ll re-connect upon my return. Until then, remember these tips for enjoying a great fourth of July weekend holiday:

  • Even if your fireworks aren’t legal where you are (because let’s face it they probably aren’t), do your best to set them off safely – facing AWAY from ANY people, kids, pets, and your especially your face
  • Do a quick vehicle check before a long drive – I just got my oil changed this week!
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts
  • Alternate any other drink with water – this is a great way to get plenty of water and remind yourself to take a bit of a break
  • Practice safe grilling and do it SOBER!
  • Bug spray, bug spray, bug spray!
  • Check for ticks and their bites after the fun is over
  • If you have pets, make sure you know their triggers and check on them frequently! I’ll have Char Char on the road with me! :)

Emotional absolutes.

Earlier this week, I was watching one of my favorite shows, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. While I didn’t think Season 3 was as binge worthy as the first two, one of the best story lines this year (which started streaming on June 11th) involved Sam Healy, who has certainly grown on me over the 2 years I’ve enjoyed OITNB.

I wanted to share one of the more impactful quotes from this season – delivered by Healy himself. His words represent something I have practiced in most of my relationships and friendships, and strive to share with others every change I get. It’s valuable advice that translates well to being able to “argue well,” also.

“Words like ‘always’ are absolutes and using them is a way to reinforce what we want to believe. When speaking emotionally, absolutes can be dangerous.”

— Sam Healy
Corrections Officer & Inmate Counselor, Litchfield Penitentiary, Orange is the New Black

Life-changing: Firefly 2015.

“And in this particular case of crowd surfing, it also would not have been possible if not for the AMAZING strangers in the rows in front of us, willing to throw their bodies into support into allowing a man to cross something that had been on his bucket list, and thought may never come off of it.”

Going to a music festival is basically like being part of a little magical village community that is harmonious (literally) but only exists for a few days. You come with high expectations of great music, great people, (when I go to Firefly I’m excited for great food), and you’re usually going with your friends or family – which makes the idea of being part of a “team” to have this experience that much better.

Even having known all of that before going to Firefly, if you would have told me that I’d end up at an epic rock concert in The Woodlands, crowd-surfing to the music of an epic band known as Matt and Kim, surrounded by thousands of amazing people – I probably would have told you … uh, probably/definitely not. Absolutely not.

But that’s exactly what happened.
Here’s the story.

Read more…

2,922 days ago.

What were you doing 2,922 days ago? Just to give you a hint…that was 8 (yes, EIGHT) full years ago.

For me, I remember waking up so early on that particular day. I was a young teenager, who woke up nice and early, eager to head to his first big-boy job…

DHS Seal

It was the first day of my internship with the Department of Homeland Security. I was a GS-01 … definitely started from the bottom. I don’t even remember what my actual  job title was. I was, honestly, just eager for that paycheck. I wanted a summer job and I definitely wasn’t planning on flipping burgers or working at Blockbuster (yes, that was still a thing back in 2007. No Netflix, yet). But I was open to “making some copies and some coffees,” as I like to describe it.

Read more…

Pops 2 is open!

Earlier this season I wrote a restaurant review about one of my new favorite spots in DC: Pleasant Pops.

I’m very happy to share that their new location is now open! It’s just around the corner from the McPherson Square Metro stop – so it’s nice to have  Pleasant Pops on my way to work for my morning commute or, hey, maybe even on the way home!

You can check out some of their coverage here and here.

If you check them out, please be sure to let me know what you think!

Firefly 2015 Hiatus.

Good afternoon, friends! Just an FYI: HESONWHEELS will be on hiatus until early next week.

Why might you ask? Well many things. Let’s start with the two that I’m most excited about!

Tomorrow morning, I am so PUMPED to deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2015 at Woodgrove High School. I will most certainly be waking up early for THAT (I’ve got to be there by 6:30 and it’s an hour away!).

Then, after some mingling, tomorrow afternoon, I am STOKED to also be delivering the keynote address to the Class of 2015 at JEB Stuart High School. It will be a marathon, that’s for sure…

And when I am done there, I will come home, change, and then head…to Dover, Delaware for Firefly 2015. It will be quite a day.

Firefly Music Festival labels itself as the premiere music experience on the east coast. Firefly 2014 was my very first music festival – which is something that had always been on my bucket list. They are log days, you’re sweaty, you’re tired, you’re hot…but my goodness, is it worth it. The people are amazing, the music is even better, and especially when you are camping – you just chalk it all up to just being part of the EXPERIENCE. Firefly does great in way of variety and I thought the shows last year were some of the best I have ever (and honestly, probably will see) seen in my life.

I also have a personal rule of disconnecting a little bit while I’m at the festival. I did that last year, just after I moved away from Blacksburg, and it was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had.

So, here’s to Firefly round 2 and maybe even crossing some more things off the ol’ bucket list!

See you next week, friends!

So many great bands, and only 4 days! Let’s do this!

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies.

You know, meeting 1 new person everyday can either be a great thing or … It can be a not so great thing. My new person today definitely fit the underwhelming mold of “not so great.” One of the most useful quotes that I’ve believed in on this journey called life is “it’s not always rainbows and butterflies,” hence the title of this post. That’s the story that I’ll share today (I wrote this yesterday on the way home via Metro, but didn’t post it until today, just FYI).

I was taking my usual commute on the way home (so many blog posts involve Metro nowadays, it seems) and taking one of the many elevators I use throughout the system to get to one of the many trains I take. As I approached the elevator, there were two women standing there with a large suitcase, each, as they waited for the elevator to come up to the platform, and deliver us to the lower platform.

At the same moment there was another man, also a wheelchair user, approaching the elevator. Once they glanced behind themselves, and saw us approaching, they graciously moved aside. After all, Metro does frequently encourage elevator users to allow seniors and people with disabilities to board prior to any other population.

So, seeing as my train was four minutes down the tracks, I decided to go ahead and board the elevator first, since they invited me to do so. I do my customary “hug into the corner”, parking my wheelchair at a 90• angle so that we could fit as many of us on the elevator as possible. The other, older gentleman with his wheelchair board the elevator second, and he immediately cuts a right turn as he enters the elevator. Had he continued straight, we would have at least been able to make an attempt at fitting the other two patrons. I look at the gentleman and say “sir, if you come up this way we could try and fit them on the elevator, too.”

This is an almost identical elevator layout. Instead of coming alongside me, to my right, he stayed in front of me, and turned to my left, blocking the opportunity for any other patrons to enter the elevator.

He looks at me plainly.

“You really think I’m worried about them? I’m just trying to make sure that I get on. And it’s not like they would worry about me.”

I reply, pretty dryly …

“Well, obviously they did worry about us. They moved aside so we could board first…”

“Really, you think so?”

“I know so. I mean, based on their behavior…”

That was essentially the end of our conversation. Actually, I might have said something else but I really was more in my own head than anything else. I was shocked. As I write this blog post on my iPhone on the Metro, I’m still shocked. But, I guess I shouldn’t really be?

It surprises me that someone who was blatantly and obviously just cared for – the women cordially let us board first – didn’t see it. What kind of mindset do you have that you can’t see it when it is right in front of you? No, it’s not like they gave us a hug and a kiss or anything, it wasn’t some wildly overt form of caring, but still – what mindset must you have to be so insular and, in my opinion, selfish? :/

I’m not here to pass judgment on this man, but even though he was and is a stranger to me, I’m a bit disappointed. The new people I encounter on a daily basis are usually nicer, open to conversation, and atleast willing to make small talk.

Today…well, today was not one of those days. Like I said, it is not always rainbows and butterflies. I don’t think that using a wheelchair or having a disability gives any person the right to immediately be selfish or not be considerate of others. That’s what I felt this man was doing…and I can only hope that our mini-conversation will encourage him to maybe, hopefully, be a bit more considerate the next time he’s boarding an elevator. Hopefully.