An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ACTA Tennis Social

This weekend, I played in the ACTA (Arlington County Tennis Association) Annual Social. It was Saturday night - not generally my ideal time to play tennis - and mixed doubles - not exactly my favorite.

That being said, it was only $20 for 4 hours of indoor tennis, plus some food and drink. And I haven't played all winter and was itching to get back on the court plus I was curious to check out ACTA as I signed up for the singles ladder this year. So, all those things together and it seemed like a pretty good deal.

To sum up the actual event, I had really good time. ACTA (or at least the people there) had a nice representation of younger and older players, and a nice variety of skill levels. I had two very tough, very competitive matches that were a lot of fun, and two more relaxed matches (which were a nice break!). Plus, everyone was very nice and generally cool. I left feeling like I had had a really fun Saturday night, even if it wasn't a traditional Saturday night type of activity.

So, I'm going to play in their singles ladder this year. I 'm pretty excited about it. I've been playing way too much doubles in recent years and I don't really like playing doubles. There are definitely some really good players out there so I'm not worried about not being challenged. At the same time, if you consider yourself an only average player, there should be plenty of good matches for you too - I believe last year's ladder had around 100 people. If you are interested, ACTA also has doubles leagues. You can sign-up for all their stuff on their website. Oh, and they've got a tournament coming up at the end of April as well. I'm up for that too.

My confession - I'm sore! My abs and triceps are especially sore from serving - that always happens when I haven't played much. Tennis may seem like a wimpy sport to you, but it can definitely give you a work out.

So, if you are a tennis player, ACTA has my official seal of recommendation (not that I have an official seal of recommendation, but you get the point). Check them out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I went to this Introduction to Meditation Class. In the interest of full disclosure - it was actually in D.C. and the class was on Buddhist meditation - I'll get back to how this relates to Arlington, but anyway...

I was a little nervous. I'm not really a "meditative" type of guy. The Buddhist part didn't scare me. I'm pretty comfortable in a lot of environments, and Buddhists aren't really ones to try and convert you, so I figured that part would be comfortable. I just thought I would be bored silly and frantically staring at my watch counting the minutes until it was over!

On the flip side, I've always been interested in meditation - there is so much research out there on how it improves your health, helps you think clearer, make better decisions, and need less sleep. Although I don't really see myself as a "meditative" type guy, I wish, at least in some ways, that I was.

So the class started out with a little Buddhist philosophy. I actually have a Master's degree in religion (American religious history - that's another long story), so I knew most of that stuff, and I confess ... I zoned out through it -- maybe I was meditating already! Then we went in to different meditation practices. At this point, the religious aspects were dropped and it was just about different ways to meditate, best ways to sit, different techniques, etc. We did three 5 minute meditations (which went by remarkabley fast!) trying different techniques and that was the end of it.

The result -- I'm sold! I went home, and I felt incredible. I felt more awake, more energetic, more confident, and I slept great. It was phenomenal, and all from 15 mintues. I can't guarantee you would have that experience the first time or every time, but it was cool (and I tend to be pretty skeptical)

So, you ask, this blog is supposed to be about things to do in Arlington - how does this relate to Arlington? I'm getting there. Arlington is offering an upcoming 1-time Introduction to Meditation Class. The class is April 22 from 9AM - 12PM at Fairlington Community Center, near Glebe Rd, 395, and Shirlington. The cost is $38. Personally, I think that is rather expensive. But, on the flip side, it's a very safe environment - no religious affiliations and you know you're getting experts, no risk of some nut case teaching your class. For you, that may be worth the $38. If you're interested, you can register online. (FYI - the registration site is not that good, so just be patient and work you're way through it)

And even if you don't go to the Meditation class, I strongly reccomend trying out meditation for yourself, pick up a book, go to a class, whatever. It works, and it's pretty cool.

Open Houses

Last Saturday (or was is the Saturday before that, I forget, anyway...) I headed out to check out some of the community center open houses in Arlington. I had been to these facilities before, but it was always for a meeting and so I had never really paid that much attention to what else was there. So, I thought this might be a good chance to really see what was there and what went out.

I started out at Langston-Brown which is the newest recreation center in the County. It's not a great location, near the corner of Lee Highway and Glebe - not far from Ballston, but not Metro accessible. The center itself, though, is really nice! I had always heard that the weight room was da bomb, but let me tell you it really is. (P.S. - I totally forgot to bring my camera - pictures coming soon on this blog, I promise!)You can get membership to the weight room (which also includes the gym - also very nice) for $105 a month for Arlington residents - good deal I think. No, it's not gigantic and you don't have a ton of computers and TVs for every bike or anything like that. But, in this case, I'd say you get more than what you pay for. For details, on how to get a membership, check out the website (p.s. - the website says coming soon, but it's there, I promise)

Langst0n is also a "green" building which I think is very interesting. I meant to take the tour to find it what makes it a green building, but, well, I forgot :-(

My next stop was Lee Center. Lee is primarily known for its master arts classes, geared towards advanced and professional artists. I have the same beast on Lee as Langston - location! Lee had several of their artists there showing off their craft. It was very cool, but I wasn't really sure what was there for me - and the answer is that there really isn't anything there for me. But if you happen to be a kick butt artist, then I recommend the classes at Lee. (at least they seemed pretty cool)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mardis Gras in Clarendon

Mardi Gras in Clarendon. This may become a recurring them in this blog, but let me start by saying - to steal a bit from Nike - Just Do It - if you see something that you think might be fun, do it. Don't stay at home because your tired or have shows to watch (that's what Tivo is for) - get out and do it. You may be occassionally disappointed, but for the most part I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, I first have to confess I had low expectations. The combination of a small pardade, a slightly chilly night and the fact that Arlington never seemed like a real Mardi Gras type place to me all seemed to add up to what I thought would be a fairly uneventful night.

I was wrong - There was a real party going on in Clarendon last night! The parade was well-attended and people were loud and having a good time. Lots of people were dressed up (including lots of dogs - kind of funny) and people were screaming for beads. It was a lot of fun!

Ok, the parade was a bit short. More bands I say - I like marching bands. And props to Ballou High School for coming out. They were awesome. But even with a short parade, it was lot of fun, and a really fun atmosphere.

So, I say it again - just do it - get out there, explore, try new things, have fun. I suspect that most of the time you'll be glad you did.