The House that Sherman Built

I am on my way  back from a five day trip to DC…capped off by a two-hour delay due to an “accident” in the plane bathroom. Part of me wants details, the other part is already running wild with possible scenarios. All I know is that it took an hour to clean the economy section of the plane and they will not be serving beverages.

It was a successful trip to DC. Except for that part about me leaving my cell phone in IL and almost missing my flight home. I know you are super surprised. However, I did find out that if you are running late for a flight, you can completely skip the security line which is pretty sweet. I have probably written about this before, but I have a pretty zen approach when it come to flights; everything just works out. Mr. Swirley, on the other hand, likes to get to the airport about a day early and it annoys the crap out of me.

Every time I return to our nation’s capital  I am sad we moved, though I wouldn’t trade our Chicago friends for the Capitol Hill gardens I love so much. Saturday we spent the day moving furniture and preparing our new building for the Open House scheduled for Tuesday. I will say it again, the building is glorious; a “stealth office” according to Sherman as it’s face connotes a humble storefront, while it actually boasts over 6000 square feet with  four stories of (finally!) filled bookshelves (and ladders on rails to boot.) In the world of tiny DC non-profits, it’s a nice space.

After a “deep cleaning” by our amazing cleaning staff and time spent moving furniture, it really was a sight to see. Well, as much as an office space can be visually appealing. Sunday we spent at Costco and I wanted to die. i mean seriously. It took ever ounce of me to not keel over and poke my eyes out with a used sample toothpick. But we got all of the shopping done so we could feed and properly inebriate the 150 expected vultures, er, I mean guests. 10,000 lbs of shrimp? Check. An ocean of wine, coke, sprite and water? Donezo.

Don’t worry – this is only 1/100th of the food.
Monday was full of the chaos that precedes a party plus the usual games delegations play that include changing meeting dates at the last minute, frantically calling American participants and praying they are available and not too pissed off to join the discussion and of course pleading with the venue to change our contract. This time we JUST skated by…the alternative was owing the venue nearly 18K and hosting the group in our office. You know I don’t love my office enough to manage the delegation logistics while trying to prevent people from leaving the conference. Our primary strategy in hosting groups is holding them hostage for meetings – we are promoting democracy here people, but not when it comes to participants.

Even with all of the stress, (I think) we had a good time prepping the space. I spent part of my days in Herman’s office where he would say endearing things like, “Oh? That Justin Beaver kid?” while pointing out obvious tasks (like putting table skirts on tables.) This party was so exciting and important to him that he just couldn’t risk us being idiots. And honestly, redundancy is always best in situations like this. Especially when I am involved.

Party day was absolutely bonkers – but kind of exciting. Sherman was nervous about the outcome, but I think thrilled to show off the space to all of his old friends and colleagues. What started out of his house in Great Falls, VA in 1982, has become a fully-operational, bad-ass think tank rolling deep in sweet spot. And that is pretty much the reaction we received from folks over the course of the party. People started to arrive promptly at 6 PM and I can confirm that yes, we were working until the last minute putting up plaques, pictures and paintings, running out for approximately one ton of ice  and throwing on our dress clothes. The self-catered spread was fairly out of control and the bars were busy all night. I saw old friends, interns and donors – and for the first time in my ten years at AFPC, honestly felt 100% comfortable in my surroundings. I am not sure if it was the company, the generally jovial atmosphere or that I am an old lady who has been with the company for a longtime, but it was such a fulfilling night.

Rick looks crazy and Jeff is smiling. You will never see a photo of these two like this again.
Whoever said DC women are conservative dressers didn’t meet this lady. Four flights of stairs people, four.

I told JLee I loved his tie and Mr. Swirley had one just like it. Then he reminded me that I bought that tie for him as an intern gift. I was obviously on point Tuesday night. Yikes. 

Lots of laughs, inappropriate comments (which are expected), calf-building tours of the building (up and down four stories of stairs) and too short of conversations with people I could talk to all night…and it was already 10 PM. The bossman left happy and everyone else seemed pretty pleased with the building, free food and of course, booze. Just an average night in DC, I suppose.

All fun aside, this is the longest I have been away from Ellis since he was born and I am not going to lie when I say that I was ready for a break when I left Saturday morning. However, by Sunday I really missed him and found myself looking at pictures and annoying my coworkers with stupid stories about professor giggles. I finally understand what people talk about when they complain about traveling while you have kids at home and am so grateful I don’t have to do it very often. With that said, a night away watching Jersey Shore with your coworker and no baby is always welcome. Always. 

Wise words? Bring it.