Holiday Trip Out West

I'm headed to the airport now for my big holiday road trip with Floyd. Somehow, I got through this crazy week at work and am finally able to stop worrying about work stuff (unless I get a frantic email from my boss/coworkers...).

The highlight of the week was definitely the holiday lunch which gave me a chance to connect with some folks I rarely interact with. During the lunch, we had a holiday gift exchange, the first ever at which I didn't get shafted (Sure, white elephants are fun but I'm always the unlucky one).

I'm very excited about my trip with Floyd. It should be one of my most memorable road trips ever, and it will provide us with yet another chance to connect before the inevitable, final split. I will try my best to report on my adventures, but I won't make any promises.

For those interested, we are leaving from Texas on Sunday for the Grand Canyon. Then, we will spend a few days in Las Vegas before heading to San Diego. A day trip to Mexico so that I can practice my Spanish is also planned. Awesome, right?

So until my next blog, happy holidays and happy new year! Be safe!


Hot Ticket

My boss gave us the best holiday gift imaginable. No, not a raise or a week off. We were promised inauguration ceremony ticket(s)!

This is huge. We've been waiting for weeks to find out if we'd get tickets--especially given how historic this year's ceremony is. Everybody wants to be there.

I was hopeful but honestly doubtful that any tickets would be given to staff--especially low level staff like myself--after all the office's VIPs had been taken care of. But I was wrong.

This is excellent news for Floyd. I'm giving him my ticket(s) and all I really want in exchange is some QT while he's in town.

So excited! January really is shaping up well.


Work-Life Update

I'm feeling a bit blah again today. So, I'm just going to do a quick update on my work and life.

My anxiety about my next career move is growing, as is the tension between my officemate and me. If she tells me one more time that she has nothing to do, I will scream...

I haven't quite figured out the proper path up the Hill, and I've received a mix of encouraging and not-so encouraging news from mentors and friends. During the holidays, I plan on reworking the language of my cover letter and résumé so that I can be ready to network and apply full-force when I return in January.

The main bright spot at work is my role as an inauguration volunteer. I have a feeling that I'll be placed outside, far away from the ceremony (please, no rain!!). But it will be awesome to be a part of that amazing event.

Over the weekend, I finally finished my Spanish class and Christmas shopping. I'm really excited about the children's books I bought for my growing (in the womb) niece. I got three Dr. Seuss books and "Good Night Moon." Of course, for financial and environmental reasons, I prefer library books, but I made an exception for her 0th Christmas gift. As soon as she's born, she'll be getting used books and college money from me. Hmmm…. I guess I'm going to be a serious aunt—focused on her education instead of getting her the latest outfit/toy. I'll leave that to everyone else.

I am really looking forward to my road trip with Floyd. It will give me a much needed reprieve from the stress of the Hill and the hustle of DC. Floyd and I laughed about how much our trip has snowballed over the past month. It started out as a short visit to see him in San Diego, and now it's become a multiple destination road trip. I guess we miss each other.


The Real Reason

I've discovered the real reason why I decided to brush off my winter 2009 departure as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It isn't because of the glorious victory of the Obama Administration or the wonderful gains scored by Congressional Democrats (yay, new job opportunities!). It isn't because my sister's baby, my mother's first grandchild, is due in March. Nor, because I can't bare to be away from yet another annoyingly cold winter in DC.
No, it is entirely due to the fact that my 10th year high school reunion is slated for 2009.
Yesterday, I got an email from our senior class president about the reunion. I can't wait for to go back and reconnect with the folks that I've lost touch with. Of course, I want to see what has happened to my frienemies, the popular chicks, and the nerds. But, mainly I want to hug, laugh and toast with my old lunch bunch--the original lunch bunch of my high school years. We haven't been all together since freshman year of college and it will be amazing to see how far we've all come.
The reunion will probably be in the fall, which gives me less than 10 months to get my act together! I need the right look, the right attitude, and the right resume/CV to wow my friends and foes alike. I was a total dork in high school and I want to show everyone how much I've changed (and haven't changed) during the past 10 years. It will be a celebration of my roots and my growth since the days when I was that awkward girl who religiously sharpened her number two pencils before each and every class, had a long-term crush on the varsity soccer star, and regularly requested hugs from the friend who always responded with a "sure, hon."

 Wow, that brings me back. I can't wait.


On-hold: Peace Corps & Spanish

My last Spanish class is this Saturday. I'm so glad that it is almost over as it's been such a stressful, time-suck.

I started the classes back in March in order to meet the language requirement of my Peace Corps nomination. At first, I really enjoyed the challenge of the classes and the idea that I was working toward something—an eventual two-year stint in a Latin American country. But my interest and level of effort has waned in the last two months. First, I decided to postpone my Peace Corps dreams in order to see what sort of opportunities I can find on the Hill or within the Obama Administration in 2009. I don't yet feel ready to leave DC as I sense that there is still much more for me to learn professionally. Added to that, my current teacher is very disorganized, and I feel so out of place in my current class of assertive, advanced speakers.

Although the classes were an investment that I wouldn't make again, I am happy that I took them. I am disappointed that I haven't achieved the intermediate/advanced intermediate level that the classes should have prepared me for. Yet, I'm much better at grammar and speaking than I was back in the spring.  I can read most Spanish newspapers, but I only rarely follow Spanish telenovelas without the subtitles. I still lack ease in comprehension and confidence in speaking, but I am sure that given more time and real immersion (as a PCV!), I would improve.

I hope to continue watching shows and movies in Spanish and picking up El Pregonero for light-reading on the metro, but my big push to learn Spanish is over. I want to resume some of the things I put aside back in March in order to make time for Spanish. Things like working on my novel, volunteering regularly, and reading. They are the things that will make me happy and relaxed. So farewell, Spanish. I'll try again in a few years, but for now, I need a break.


Networking is making friends

That's what hit home today after a chat with a networking guru I know.

I've talked several times on this blog about networking--mainly lamenting my lack of skill and of ease in networking.

But on the Hill, networking is essential for success. Whether you are trying to get a bill passed or move up within your area of expertise, you have to know people.

It sounds so simple but to me networking has always been this other realm, separate from the social, the real me. And that was the problem. I took it too seriously and I wasn't myself. The moment that you see it as an opportunity to get something out of someone is the moment that it brings displeasure.

Networking should be fun, because making friends is fun.

So from now-on, I'm banishing "networking" from my vocabulary. I don't want to network but make friends on the Hill. And through cultivating those friendships, I will learn more about the Hill, D.C., and myself.


My shared house is a black hole

My belongings, kept in the shared space, keep disappearing. And I'm getting fed up.

I showed up in my 6 person house with lots of stuff. I found a place for most of my items in my room and the assigned shelving/space.

Then, it started happening. About a month after my move, things started to disappear. First, it was my can opener and fan. Then, it was the chair I use to sit on the front porch. Then, my awesome 8-year old "they don't make 'em like they used to" shopping cart went AWOL. Now it's my cookie cooling racks. The list goes on.

It would be fine if people we using my things for a short bit before returning them. Well, let me be honest: I don't do sharing. Yes, I'm in a shared house but I like the idea of my stuff being available for my use when I want and need it. That's why the disappearing act pisses me off so much.

But the kicker is that no one knows where any of my things are. That's just bull. I'm sending an S.O.S. to my roomies tomorrow about my prized possession, my shopping cart (you try lugging a huge bag of soil home and see if you miss the cart). I think that our old roomie might have taken it and I am determined to restore it (and everything else) to it's proper place before the end of the year.

I guess shared living is finally getting to me. I don't like sharing a bathroom with two guys and a kitchen with five, busy people. I don't want to pay to move again so I can only hope to out-stay the roomies that annoy me the most (at this point, 4 out of the 5 and the 5th has been on assignment since August).

Little Black Dress

There are two things my closet desperately needs: a little black dress and a great pair of jeans. I have no idea how I have survived this long without either. On Black Friday, I fought the crowds at Pentagon City in hopes of finally filling that void.

I had planned on arriving at the Mall early, encouraged by the news that the Metro would be open at 4 AM. Yet, I overslept---too much turkey, beer and gaming the night before. I arrived at the Mall around 4:30 PM. It was packed.

I felt a bit overwhelmed trying to dodge the hordes of shoppers. After hours of surveying the racks and trying on dozens of dresses and jeans, I left the Mall empty-handed but determined to extend my search one more day.

I headed to Georgetown early Saturday morning and hit the jackpot. A special thanks to the friendly saleslady, who was clearly working on commission. She pulled me aside before I was able to escape the store and convinced me to let her find the conservative, little black dress that I'd been looking for.

My new dress is lovely. It has an empire waist and sheer top. I think that it is classic and versatile—though more fitting for professional than cocktail events. But it fits! After trying on so many dresses that accentuated my problem spots or lack of curves, it was refreshing to find a dress that was tailored yet forgiving. I should be able to wear this dress for years, (assuming that I don't get fat! Step away from the pumpkin pie…). It turns out that the dress was 25% off---as was everything else in the store. That made the expense a bit easier to bear.

So, I finally own a dress that makes me feel like a grown woman. I just need to work on the rest of my wardrobe and finally rid myself of all my old college and gasp, high school clothes that are making me look like an awkward, immature 20 year old.


Holiday Plans

I am so relieved right now. I've been under lots of stress during the past week or so trying to figure out my Turkey Day and Christmas-New Year's plans.

For Turkey Day, I'll be here—hanging out with friends, checking out a museum or two, and venturing out on Black Friday to find the perfect little black dress.

At the end of December, I'm headed out West. Floyd and I are driving from Texas to California, stopping at Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Mexico on the way. It should be an amazing time.

It's a little weird that I'm not going home for the holidays this year. Sure, I only go home once a year--but it's always for Christmas. So I asked my mother for her permission and blessing for my trip out West. I hope that she is not too disappointed with my no-show given that I'll be home in March for my sister's delivery.

As Floyd reminded me, DC is my home. I'm 27 and no longer obligated by finances or lack of friends to go to Atlanta every holiday. And at this point in my life (as my mother always reminds me), I'm young and independent---free to explore and travel as much as possible. Yet, I can't help but feel a little guilty for choosing a flashy, romantic getaway with my ex over a quiet holiday with my family and ATL friends.

At any rate, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be safe and eat as much as possible!


Bonus Faux-Pas

I disclosed my end-of-the-year bonus to my coworkers. It was a mistake.

I was handed an envelope by a coworker who jokingly said that it was my bonus/raise for the year. I disbelievingly opened the letter.

What joy! It was a lovely bonus of a size I didn't expect. In disbelief, I disclosed the amount to my coworkers and handed it over to my coworker to double-check that it was real. One of my coworkers was happy for me and excited about the day when her own bonus would arrive—she's new. My other coworker was a bit upset that he hadn't received a bonus yet and had never heard of such a bonus amount.

I thought that our generation was more open with their finances. But I guess that it isn't true when it comes to people that you work with and who do a similar job—and probably think that they do more or just as much as you do.

But whatever. I know that I've worked hard during the past 8 months that I've been on the Hill. It's good to know that my efforts have  been recognized and rewarded.

This bonus is awesome. It doesn't elevate my Hill salary to what I used to make as an assistant in the nonprofit world. But it will be put  to good use (Las Vegas, here I come!).


Store Closings?

A friend emailed me this list of retailers that informed the SEC of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009. I hope that it's entirely bogus; regardless, I’m sure that the worst is still to come.

  • Ann Taylor 117 stores nationwide are to be shuttered
  • Bombay closing remaining stores
  • Cache will close all stores
  • Circuit City stores... most recent (? how many)
  • Dillard's to close some stores
  • Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January
  • Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
  • Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores
  • Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
  • GAP closing 85 stores
  • Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ (New Brunswick)
  • J. Jill closing all stores
  • JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
  • K B Toys closing 356 stores
  • Lane Bryant,, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 store nationwide
  • Levitz closing down remaining stores
  • Linens and Things closing all stores
  • Loews to close down some stores
  • Macys to close 9 stores after January
  • Movie Galley Closing all stores
  • Pacific Sunware closing stores
  • Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
  • Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
  • Sharper Image closing down all stores
  • Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
  • Talbots closing down all stores
  • Whitehall closing all stores
  • Wickes Furniture closing down
  • Wilson Leather closing down all stores
  • Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January

Is this list for real?! Partly, for real?! Either way, it's unbelievable!

There will be some great deals this holiday season—but there will also be so many folks who will lose their jobs in the retail industry. To be safe, try to use any old gift cards or credit slips for "troubled" stores ASAP. These days, you never know which retailers will be closing stores near you or closing for good.


Freshman Week

I love to watch the new Members. They are all so nice and happy. That is a stark difference from some of the veterans on the Hill who have bravely weathered re-election, scandal and/or legislative disappointments only to become mean and aloof.

This week, I watched new members meeting and greeting and wandering down the halls to check out soon-to-be vacated offices. Their arrival signals the wave of change and opportunity that the 111th Congress and 2009 will bring on the Hill and in DC. I'm keeping my eyes open to see which new Members get which committee assignments--as that will partly influence where I apply.

I'm thinking that my next move should be to a committee where I can actually (finally) work on legislation. But if given the opportunity, I wouldn't mind working for a freshman rank and file Member. They'd be less established and thereby, more open to new ideas and more grateful for insider, really any, help. Plus, it would be very cool to help shape the beginning of a Member's legacy and operation in Congress.


Leading me on

Floyd and I are at an interesting place. We've started communicating regularly and openly. And even started to plan for the immediate future.

It is a bit silly, our relationship. Of course our feelings remain strong--revived by recent time together. But we don't live in the same city and don't plan on crossing paths anytime soon.

So, as Floyd asked last night, "are we leading each other on?" I guess if it's mutual disillusionment, it isn't so bad.

And there doesn't seem to be a solution. We're both willing to forgo a bit of crazed singlehood for the false security that our relationship brings.

I know that when it is all finally over, as it will be in 2 years (my new deadline), I'll curse myself for letting an unfulfilled (marriageless) relationship go on for so long.

For now, it feels right. And that's all I can ever hope for.


Networking: Needs Improvement

I went to a work party tonight and totally bombed. I did all the things you aren't supposed to do when networking, including:

1) Staying with the group of friends with whom I came instead of using them as a base from which to work the room.

2) Avoiding openers about the party or current events from which I could engage a stranger in further conversation.

I don't know what got into me. I always whine that I need more opportunities to meet and greet the movers and shakers and there I was recoiling in my characteristic shyness. Unfortunately, that gets you nowhere on the Hill.

The nail in the coffin was when someone I thought knew me started to explain an inside joke. I didn't think it was polite to correct him but I felt awkward at having him explain something I already knew. But he's a big wig and I tend to clam-up in their presence. Is it a failing of me (my personality) or a failing of my sex to have such a tendency for passivity?

I don't think I can afford to figure it out. I need help ASAP as the prime networking season is upon us. Next week, Members return and newly elected Members will be scouting staff. Time to call-in my career mentors for a pep talk.


The Washington Monument

Somehow, I convinced myself to get out of bed yesterday in order to enjoy the holiday. By 9:15 AM, I was on the 52 bus, headed down 14th Street toward the Washington Monument. It was a beautiful morning in D.C., though quite cold and breezy.

It is absurd to think that I hadn't been to the top of the Washington Monument until yesterday. During the past 9 years, I’ve taken so many trips to the Monument and National Mall, but it never really dawned on me that I should take the time to go up. I guess I got discouraged by swarming tourists and lines.

I remember when the Monument went under wraps for renovations (DC’s salute to safe sex!). I also remember how upset folks were when they finally took down the scaffolding and refused to set it up elsewhere as a fine example of engineering and design.

I easily got a ticket for the 10 AM tour. I’ve heard that folks start lining up at 7 AM to get tickets during the summer, so I was very glad I decided to avoid such madness by going in the late Fall and on a holiday. I spent some time in the gift shop warming up before paying a visit to my favorite tree. Eventually, it was 10 AM, time for the tour.

The views from the top of the Washington Monument are amazing. At 550+ feet up in the air, you can see for miles and miles—the changing leaves in VA and MD and the buildings and landmarks throughout the city. The view of the Capitol was breathtaking, as was the view of the sparkling waters of the Potomac.

The six observation windows are rather small and the snotty kids and foreign tourists had a tendency of taking their time at each. Honestly, no one wanted to move! I can understand but there is no need to inhabit a window for 10 minutes. I plan to visit the monument again on a bleak, frosty morning in December to see DC at its starkest. Hopefully, there will be even less tourists around then.

On the way down, the elevator slowed down to allow us to view some of the beautiful commemorative stones on the inside of the Monument. It was interesting to see the change in the marble from within the structure.

Overall, it was a great and worthwhile trip.


Sick, again

I spent most of the weekend trying to rid my body of a nasty cold. It all started with basic fatigue last Sunday when I arrived back in D.C., but over the course of the week it matured from horrid, dragon-throat symptoms to sinus mayhem over the weekend. Despite the fact that I devoted my entire weekend to fluids, veggies, and bedrest, I'm still struggling to overcome it.

I seem to have gotten it while campaigning or once I returned home to a bathroom that I share with two grown men who don't value handwashing. Either way, it really sucks to be sick again.

Thankfully, I have tomorrow off from work. I may venture down to the Mall for a day of touristy fun. But most likely, I'll spend the day in bed cursing my weak immune system and all my germy friends and foes.


The Hottest Ticket in Town

I think I need to find a cave and hide for the next 75 days.

Yesterday, I got my first request for inauguration tickets, and I imagine that other folks are going to come out of the woodworks, assuming that I have a special connection to the ticket stashes.

I don't.

I'm just hoping that I can get into January's festivities—the swearing-in ceremony, parade, official inaugural balls, State of the Union address, etc.

Here's my recommendation for those interested in watching the ceremony. Call your U.S. senators and/or Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. A website for the Presidential Inaugural Committee should be up soon too. Also, this WPost article is a good primer.

As for the balls, most state societies have official balls. Numerous organizations and entities will also host unofficial celebratory parties and events. Keep your eyes open.

The good thing is that there will be a lot of festivities happening all over the city—some exclusive, some not. So no matter what, you'll be able to toast to our new president and to a new day in America.



What a madhouse on U street and I hear that the area around the White House is the same. I'd imagine that in cities across our nation, young and old are rejoicing in the streets.

I spent the night working and chilling at the DCCC/DSCC event. It was a great night made even more momentous by Obama's win. Like so many, I shed a tear for all the sacrifices and hopes of those who came before. I called my mom and Floyd before hugging my friends and toasting.

I paid an impromptu visit to U street after my bus was forced to detour. How surreal, exciting, and amazing to have so much spirit in the streets after midnight on a Tuesday.

Finally, home now and in my bed. I can't wait to hear all the analyses tomorrow and also hear a preview of what the new Congress has in store. For the record, the Congressman I campaigned for won his reelection bid.

All is well.


Vote! Vote! Vote!

What an exciting day! I woke up earlier than normal this morning just thinking about the importance of Election Day. Today, Americans will vote and decide the future direction of our nation.

Obama has my vote. I hope and pray that he wins. When he does, tonight will truly be an unbelievable occasion for celebration.

I can't wait for the House and Senate to take more seats. With D-domination, we'll be able to push for so many important reforms to ensure that EVERY American has an opportunity to achieve their dreams.

I wish everyone a great election day and a quick and easy experience at the polls. Go Vote! Go get out the Vote!


Waving Can Cause Carpal Tunnel

I'm back in D.C. after a week on the campaign trail. I had an awesome, though very tiring time. I learned a lot and got to work with some awesome people. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be involved. I hope that the Congressman wins because he's a down-to-earth guy who truly cares about his district.

During my week on the trail, I spent most of my time phone banking and doing visibility at early voting locations. In fact I did so much visibility—which means waving, handing out literature, and holding signs—that my right arm and shoulder began to ache by mid-week. I really developed my waving technique, which I'd say is an exaggerated beauty pageant wave with cuter "bye-bye" breaks. Just ask me the next time you see me, and I'll show you how it's done.

There were some interesting dynamics at the campaign office. Of course, everyone was stressed and tired. I can understand how they felt as after only one week of volunteering, my entire body is exhausted and sore. Also, at this point, I never want to call, smile, make small talk or shake hands with anyone ever again. I loved "being on" with the voters but it can get old very fast.

Some of my most memorable moments occurred when I got to call elderly folks, accompany the Congressman to a few sites, wave wildly on the side of the road, and walk a parade route 6 times (?!) in a quintessential American small town. Of course, the food and the company couldn't be beat.

Now, my attention turns to Election Day. I finally mailed off my Maryland absentee voter ballot, and I am looking forward to ushering-in a new era in US politics tomorrow.


My First Campaign

After major annoyance at DCA, I'm now at BWI awaiting my flight down south. Despite repeated attempts at getting an official assignment from the DCCC, I showed some initiative and secured an opportunity on my own.

I am so excited about getting campaign experience. Even before I started on the Hill, countless people recommended that I join a campaign for the resume building experience and also to make important professional connections. I opted out of Obama work in VA, which might have made more sense and given me a greater chance of working within his administration. But I feel that I made the right choice, and I know I will learn something new during the upcoming week.

If I don't get a chance to post much next week, I encourage my readers to get involved in the local, state and/or national campaign efforts (DC folks: there are important GOTV needs in VA for Obama and the senate and congressional races). There is just too much at stake this year. And of course, everyone should vote.

Finally, don't forget the high heel races this Tuesday in Dupont! I'm very sad that I will miss this year's event, but duty calls.


Love at the Club: Maybe it does happen

A month ago, I went to The Park with a coworker, Lacy. As I wrote in my blog, she found a "new boy toy." That new boy toy is now her boyfriend, and he is quality. What's up with that?

The old mantra is that you can't find a good man at the bar/club. My friends know the sort of "quality" I found in the bar last summer. And, all my friends have stories about the horrible guys they've met at the bar/club.

On a typical night out in Adam's Morgan, you tend to find three types of guys: single guys (A), unfaithful, attached guys (B), and faithful, attached guys (C). Guy C is aiming to get drunk and spend the night puking in the street. Guys A and B are aiming to get drunk and screw whatever relatively cute girl will have them. Given that that is what I encounter most often in Adam's Morgan (and many of the other bars I frequent in DC), it's no wonder that my expectations of finding Mr. Right in a club/bar are so low.

This is why I was worried for Lacy. Each day, she would tell me about their progress and their plans for the week. They seemed to be moving so fast. I was happy for her, but skeptical—and waiting for the big reveal.

Lacy and her man just celebrated their one month anniversary, and there is so much potential for their relationship. He is a quality guy and they have great chemistry.

So maybe I should reevaluate my viewpoint. Maybe, there are gems among all the duds at the bar/club. I guess that as a single girl, I should never automatically discount guys that I encounter in specific situations. You just never know.


Crashing a Speed Dating Event (sorta)

Over the weekend, despite the spending freeze I enacted in order to save cash for big my campaign trip down south, I headed out to Chi-Cha Lounge with some friends.

They had just thought of the best plan for meeting singles in DC, at least that's what I thought. The plan was to head to bars hosting speed dating events and just hang around after the event ends. The idea was that there would be a greater percentage than normal of guys who would be available, interested, and open to meeting someone for the long-term. I thought it was most brilliant plan ever, so when I got the call, I put aside my budget woes and donned my favorite heels for the night out.

I had a great time. My friends and I did spot a handful of cute guys that we tracked all night. Unfortunately, that is as far as it went. I would stare check out a guy repeatedly from across the room and when he would look my way and smile, I'd bashfully turn away or look down. It was so silly. Here was the perfect opportunity to practice my game, and I was cowering. I guess it's because of Floyd and the fact that I'm just not the sort of girl who has the ability to attract quality guys in a crowded bar—or anywhere for that matter. I just get so unreasonably shy. More liquor would have helped, but the girls and I weren't looking for a crazy night, just an excuse to get out our homes for a while.

For the record, the plan didn't really work. The folks leaving Chi Cha's side room, where the Speed Dating event had occurred earlier in the night, seemed older and quite ready to leave. Maybe an event earlier in the day would have been better because those speed dating events are quite draining.

So that's it. I was tucked into my bed by midnight--after over 3 hours of attempting to work the room. I'm glad I went out but I was even happier to be at home and in bed.


Don't take my tree!!

Of course, I am flattered that the fine folks at the WaPost Express decided to give a shout out to my blog in Thursday's Blog Log. It was awesome to see my words in print, and I know that myblog counter received a much needed, though short-lived, boost.

But hold on, all you lovesick DCites. Be warned that I've now publicly staked a claim on that tree. I would hate to visit my favorite perch this weekend only to find it damaged by love etchings and littered with pieces of Whole Foods wrappers. There are so many other special places in D.C. to choose from. Find your own. Just stay away.


Where to propose (to Hippo Q.)

I decided to take a walk along the National Mall yesterday after work. The sun was setting and the air was still quite warm. I didn’t make it all the way to the Lincoln Memorial but I did take in the view from the Washington Monument.

I haven’t been on the Mall in awhile, though it was my favorite weekend destination throughout college. I miss my picnics and poetry sessions, and the lazy days I spent watching the cute guys play soccer, rugby, or ultimate. Walking around yesterday reminded me of one of my favorite places on the Mall. That old, bent oak tree near the monument. This picture does not, cannot, do it justice--as the tree is truly beautiful and perfect for a pit stop or a picnic.

I decided yesterday that if I’m still in D.C. during the next five to ten years and during that time I find a guy that is to be my husband, I want to be proposed to on that spot. On a warm, fall day while the sun is setting so that everything seems to be alive and on fire, with amazing shades of red, orange, and yellow emanating from the sky. A day like yesterday.

They say that the wedding is for the bride and the proposal is for the groom. But I've decided that I want a say in both. Anyone who really knows me knows how much I love the Mall, picnicking and being outside. Anyone who truly loves me would give me such a picnic-proposal.

So there, I’ve put it out there, into the cosmos and onto the web. That’s what I want, and I ask my dear, sweet [insert name of future fiancé] to give that to me.


Capitol Dome Tour

I recently took a Capitol Dome Tour. My supervisor spent forever trying to organize the outing but it was so worth the wait. It was an amazing experience.

I thought I was going to die, climbing up (and down) all those steep, narrow steps. But I made it without injury. It was so fascinating to learn that the current dome was built over the original dome and that we were able to walk between the two on our way up to the observation levels. I’m slightly afraid of heights, so the view down was a bit unsettling. The little dots are people on tours. So far up--- 152 feet!

I don’t know how Constantino Brumidi and later artists did it. Climbing those stairs everyday and standing on a wooden platform in order to create the frieze. What an ability to establish proportion and shading that looks amazing from a few feet away and even more realistic and vivid from afar.

The view from the top was spectacular. It was a beautiful, breezy day. We all took lots of pictures and marveled at the view and Lafayette’s plan for the city. I enjoyed the bird’s eye view of the Senate’s private tennis court and hearing about the Supreme Court’s basketball court (top floor). I could have stayed up there forever.

What a great tour. I learned so much and gained an even deeper appreciation for the beauty and historicalness (is that a word?) of the buildings that I pass by and work under every day.


The Macallan Whiskey Tasting

Over the weekend, I attended a Macallan tasting event with A-M and GFA at the City Tavern Club—indeed the second oldest house in DC followed by the Old Stone House, also in G-town. It was a really great event and totally topped the Johnny Walker event I attend a few months ago.

It was a well-attended event and given the small space, it was standing room only. In comparison, the Johnny Walker event took place in the airy Mellon Auditorium where there was more than enough room for everyone to sit down comfortably. But what the Macallan event lacked in space and flair, it more than made up for in tasting opportunities. As soon as you entered the door, you were handed a drink and ushered into a larger room where servers were circulating hors d'oeuvres. Surprisingly, they didn't card anyone.

Once we found a table and settled in, the program began. I think I actually learned something at this event, which was nice. I'm not a whiskey drinker at all but I think that if given the choice among brands, I would probably opt for Macallan out of familiarity—which I guess was the point of the night.

We got to sample 5 glasses of whiskey up Macallan 18. And unlike the Johnny Walker event, they were quite generous. By the second serving, my mouth was starting to feel numb and I struggled to finish glass #2 while the staff was already handing out glass #3. Macallan isn't something to chug, so it would have been nice to have more time to enjoy the sensation of the drink. Unfortunately, aside from a tasty apple pastry at Le Pain Quotidien, I didn't eat anything before the event. I left the hall rather tipsy but very excited about the little Macallan sniffer parting gift. On to Julia's Empanadas for some grease and bread to help absorb the alcohol.

It was a very good night and I can't wait for the next tasting event.


You don't think he's cute? (Part II)

It's amazing how reluctant I've felt about posting to my blog. It's not that I don't have things to write about (I do!!), but I've been feeling sorta blah about life in general. I blame the weather and the disappearing daylight. I abhor waking up in the morning to darkness and cold. It's the worst way to start a day and puts me in a sour mood that nothing seems to get me out of. I don't know how I will get through yet another winter in DC.

At any rate, I want to provide an update after my last post. Yesterday, I talked to a friend in another office, Christina, about the cute guy in the Sergeant at Arms office and immediately she made a face. Although she admits that he is nice, she also doesn't think he's that cute—but cute for the Hill. Also, it turns out that he and another coworker have/had a thing, so he's basically off-limits. I don't feel any allegiance to my coworker, but I'd rather avoid any drama in our office because I sense that she has fangs.

Next, I told Christina about the cute guy down the hall. Immediately, she exclaimed, "he's gay!" So, he's out too. I mean I can look but sometimes I like to at least think that there is the possibility of a romance to develop.

Finally, there is this guy who works in a Leadership office, who I think is very cute and seemingly approachable. As soon as I mentioned him to Christina, she warned me of his reputation of disrespecting women in bed. More vaguely for those who aren't in the know (which included me until very recently): he likes to Superman, among other things. I still think he's cute but I plan on avoiding him altogether.

So that's it. After five months on the Hill, I feel that I can definitely say that the Hill is made up of guys who are:

a) gay
b) jerks
c) taken or off-limits for some reason

Christina insists that the Hill mainly has Type B but I always seem to encounter all three. Perhaps, things will change in '09, but I'm thinking that though DC is full of Types A, B and C, the Hill will always have a particular tendency of attracting Type B. Que lastima!


You don't think he's cute?

I know that this has been covered a hundred times before. But there is a lack of eye candy on the Hill. Of course, this excludes the youngins, the skinterns, that grace us every summer and make all the guys in our office happy. IMHO, the male interns are too pompous/entitled or awkward/annoying to deserve any notice.

Ever since I arrived on the Hill last spring and even when I was an intern back in 2004, I scoured the halls for a handsome face. I rarely found anything and instead, found myself crushing on the "cute" guy down the hall, who in any other setting, any normal girl would probably avoid.

Case-in-point may be that "cute" guy who works in the Capitol. Today, I admitted to one of my coworkers that I was developing a crush on one of the Sergeant at Arms guys. She was a bit appalled, which made me doubt my attraction meter. Has living in D.C. lowered my standards? If I was living in NYC, Miami or LA, would I consider that same guy attractive? Maybe not.

They say that DC is the "Hollywood of Ugly, Smart People," and given responses to The Hill's Most Beautiful on the Hill every year, the Hill may be no exception. But hold on, I don't think that folks on the Hill, or in D.C., are ugly, just average. No, I don't have any false sense of my own looks, as I've already admitted that I'm only a 6 and perhaps a 7 on a good day (i.e., if I had an expert stylist). I'd say that the Hill is full of 6s, with a few 7s and 8s thrown in, which is sad. I like having hot guys to look at. I think it makes me work harder and smile more.

Until things change, I'll continue to settle for the rarity of "cuteness" that I come across--and probably have a heart attack when I finally encounter a truly hot guy up here.

For the record, I still think the CAO guy is cute, just not hot enough to catch my coworker's eye. And that's alright with me (sort of).


Share the Sidewalk

One of my biggest pet peeves since moving to Columbia Heights is the alarming amount of encounters with folks riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Not just riding, but speeding along on the sidewalk--irrespective of whom or what else is in their way. It isn't just annoying but dangerous to pedestrians.

Despite the wonders of sidewalk cycling that have been professed, I don't understand why the cyclists in my 'hood insist on using sidewalks when there are perfectly sound streets and even a few bike lanes for their passage. I know that the DC streets are dangerous as I've witnessed and heard about countless pedestrian and bicycle accidents in DC. Taxi drivers and out-of-towners are particularly prone to ignoring traffic signals and signs and not staying within lanes. But that is no reason to transfer that risk and danger to the sidewalk and unsuspecting pedestrians like me.

So here are my simple suggestions for sidewalk cyclists:

1) Slow Down. If you want to go fast, try the street. The sidewalk should be the domain of the pedestrian. I don't mind dealing with little kids on bikes, skates, and scooters as they rarely are going fast. But an adult cyclist going several mph faster than I is ridiculous. Getting hit by a bike won't cause as many injuries as getting hit by a car—but that is no reason to put my flesh at risk.

2) Right of Way. Pedestrians have the right of way on the sidewalks. Don't even try to rush us or force us off to the side to let you by. If you feel the need to go faster, use the street. Same rule goes for those really narrow sidewalks where I have, in the past, stepped into the street to let a cyclist by. Also, in really crowded areas (e.g., DCUSA), it makes the most sense and is safer to get off your bike and walk along side it.

3) Pass on Left and Indicate your approach sooner rathern than later. I cannot count the number of times I either heard an approaching bike or heard a random "on the left" a mere seconds before having to jump aside to avoid a collision.

So, that's it. It's really simple. Please stop putting me at risk. It's not fair and I'd imagine it's not legal (or at least, shouldn't be).


Festivals Galore

After last Sunday's Fiesta D.C in Mt. Pleasant and last month's raucous Adam's Morgan Day, Columbia Heights finally gets its day to shine. Check out the CHD website for the schedule of events, noting the cupcake eating contest.

I almost forgot about Fiesta D.C., and if I wasn't forced to leave my house on Sunday due to dwindling food supplies, I would have missed it. As I headed down 16th, deciding if I wanted to venture to Giant or Safeway (both annoying and inadequate), I was greeted by lots of traffic. That's when I noticed the crowds and bandstand over on Mt. Pleasant Street. There were LOTS of booths. The parade of nations was cool, and I enjoyed seeing my new parade favorite, Bolivian dance groups. Before I left, I was reminded of the ignorance of others when I overheard this guy yell into his cell phone "Hey Dude – I'm at this awesome Mexican Festival!" You cannot be serious. But perhaps, he is exactly the sort that should be welcomed to such an event in order to get educated.

I resisted buying any mouthwatering food on display in favor of heading to Giant to buy supplies for my own Mexican feast. Thanks to Floyd's coaching, I made enchiladas with lime-avocado rice and refried beans. It was very good and surprisingly authentic. I've been dying for a real home cooked meal for a while, and especially dying for Mexican food (what I wouldn't give for Floyd's arroz con pollo!!). I think a soul food feast should be next.


College Reunion

On Saturday, I attended my 5-year college reunion party. I had a good time, though I only knew a handful of the folks in the crowd. But it was good to reconnect with the few old dormmates and classmates I remember. It is so odd to think that 5 years have passed since college. A few of my old friends are married and have moved away. I don't know what I have to report in regards to my five years. I'm older and wiser, but I haven't quite achieved all that I set out to do five year ago. I'm very happy that I decided to give the Hill a try, but I wonder how this choice is impeding my other key goals of experiencing other cities and countries sooner rather than later.

I think the weirdness of my college reunion foreshadows the weirdness of my upcoming 10-year high school reunion. Fortunately, for the high school one, I'll remember a greater percentage of my classmates. There are a few people in particular that I can't wait to see again—given that they seem to have dropped off the map. I'm certain that I won't be married by next fall, so as I did at all my high school dances, I'll probably drag along a friend from the Co'98.

Of course, I want to make an appearance in an awesome outfit to let folks know that I'm still around and on the "right" track. Most importantly, I want to see how folks have changed since high school, i.e., who got married/divorce, has kids, got plastic surgery, gained/lost 100 pounds, came out of the closet, etc. It should be entertaining, and very awesome to toast, with my old lunch crew, to another 10 years of "finding ourselves" and following our dreams.


First cold of the season

I feel so icky right now. I blame both my coworkers and my roommates. When I woke up yesterday, my throat was on fire. Today, my sinuses are acting up. Every year around this time, I get my first cold. I blame it on the changing temperatures and the increased stress of late. I've been drinking gallons of orange juice and green tea in hopes of staving off the worst but so far, my body has decided to let the cold take its full course. This is really unfortunate because I have a week packed with events and receptions, including my 5th year reunion at GWU this weekend.

Speaking of receptions, I went to a great one near the Capitol. The roof had AMAZING views of the Capitol and Pennsylvania Avenue. The food was great and the bar was well-stocked. Aside from one guest who was persistently annoying in challenging my boss's position on the food-fuel debate, it was a good night.

So keep your fingers crossed that I get well soon.


The Park at 14th

I finally managed to get into The Park.

About a month ago, Shimmy-Shimmy and I ventured to The Park for an drink before meeting the rest of our group. It was early and there wasn't a line but we didn't get in. The guy mentioned something about a guest list. I said no and we turned away to head to Lotus. Perhaps, we didn't try hard enough. We weren't assertive nor did we flirt with the bouncer. But then, we also weren't dressed the part as we both donned conservative black outfits that night.

I returned to Park on Saturday night dressed the part but fully expecting not to get in. I read lots of reviews on WaPost about folks not getting in and about the use of racial quotas to maintain the desired mix of people. I tried emailing and calling the club about the guest list and was only told that there was no public guest list (you have to get to know one of the promoters/ambassadors).

When I arrived, there were at least 30-40 people outside and I witnessed at least two groups be denied entry (one was a group of guys and the other was a group of girls that included a "big girl"). It's ridiculous that they are trying to recreate Studio 54 at 14th and K Streets. DC isn't a land of beautiful people and it really hurts to deny folks like me and others entry for not having the right look--whatever that may be.

We got in. I attribute it entirely to my friend's flirty ways and my sexy hair. Yes, I actually put some effort into my look and it paid off. I looked hot and felt really good.

I like Park. It has four floors of bars, dance areas and bottle service areas. The bouncers and other workers are all very attractive and the clientele was a nice mix. The place is dark and the televisions were broadcasting the UGA game, while the DJ on the floors played a nice mix of top 40 with a bit of house and old school mixed it. I had a great time of dancing and drinking with my coworker. Plus, she met her "future husband" that night.

I left the lounge around 1:30--totally fed up with being jostled around. It was so crowded and I was ready to go off on the next person who pushed me aside while I was trying to get my groove on. After a quick check in, I said farewell to my my friend and her new boy toy.

I will definitely check out The Park again--though earlier in the night to avoid the hysteria outside and the annoying crowds on the dance floor.


Yoga in the Park

I've always wanted to practice yoga outdoors. This Sunday, I finally got a chance. Aside from the pesky bug bites, slight sunburn and dirty yoga mat that resulted, I had an awesome session of doing sun salutations in the bright morning sun.

A few weeks ago, when talking at walk through Malcolm X Park (b.k.a., Meridian Hill Park), I noticed a small group of people practicing yoga near the stage. I waited around reading my book for a bit. Once the session was over, I walked over and introduced myself. The woman was training to become a yoga instructor and she held classes on most Sundays to get practice hours. I gave her my email address and two weeks later, I was back for an amazing session.

It's been a while since I last practiced yoga. Despite all the videos and handouts I own, I have yet to sustain a home-pratice—something an instructor/monk told me was key. But I hope to attend the yoga in the park sessions as long as they last (probably until it gets cold). Bikram Yoga-Dupont's sessions have ended, but there are others you can learn about through visiting Meet-up (like this one) and by randomly checking out huddles of folks in the park.


Save a Life – Give Blood

Yesterday, I went with a friend to give blood. I like giving blood. It's a simply way to help out someone in need. Plus, I love the Hi-C Orange and Nutter Butters that are normally given out after you give. I've given blood since high school and though I took a several year hiatus after college, I decided that now was a goodtime to start giving again.

But after yesterday's blood giving experience, I think that I will avoid giving blood for a while—maybe forever. It wasn't my entirely my fault that I failed to fill up the bag. As the women said, my blood was slowly dripping out and my tiny vein lay too close to the muscle to get the needle in properly. I've been told that I have small veins before but it's never been a problem with a skilled sticker. So I honestly didn't expect any problems though the finger poke to get an iron level reading should have foretold what would come. The woman had to squeeze my finger like a cow's udder to get anything substantial to come out. In contrast my friend said that her blood spurt out as soon as the needle hit her skin.

After 15 minutes of having the needle adjusted and readjusted and having to squeeze and unsqueeze a ball to get things moving, we gave up. I think that it was too cold in the room and that all the water I drank that morning just wasn't enough.

The blood I gave can't be used. It will just be thrown away. What a waste! I wish there was a way for them to return the blood back to into my body because I think I need it. By the time I left the room, my teeth were chattering and goose bumps covered my skin. I went outside for a bit to warm up in the sun, but that didn't help much. In fact, I didn't warm up until later that afternoon.

It is so odd to have had such an unfortunate donation experience. I've had a vein collapse before, but nothing compares to the dissatisfaction of not filling up the bag and basically wasting time and blood for naught.

But I shouldn't complain too much. While my friend did fill up a bag, she blacked out and had to spend the morning in the nurse's office. Craziness!


Goodbye, GW Hippo

I am very upset that my alma mater is getting rid of the Hippo as the unofficial mascot. I love the Hippo! In fact, the namesake of this blog is partly based on my fondness for GW's bronze riverhorse.
Sure, I was very skeptical and even angry when the hippo first came to campus. It seemed like another SJT diversionary tactic to defer University funds and student attention away from improving academic programs (rumor was that a drunk SJT paid over $80k for the statue). But over time, I grew to love the Hippo. I relished rubbing its nose for good luck before an exam or posing next to it after both my undergrad and grad graduation ceremonies.


Farewell to Floyd

I spent the past few days with Floyd. It was a good visit, though not perfect. I guess that things are never perfect between us. But that is irrelevant as long as we continue to enjoy each other's company. We do.

So now, I'm a single girl in the city again after a few glorious days of holding hands, snuggling and eating with someone special. Thankfully, he will return in October and we'll once again get to reconnect and work through more of our issues.

It's really nice to have someone who knows me well, accepts me for who I am, and challenges me to be the best that I can be. Wow, this is getting really cheesy now.

I guess I'm still in a haze from his visit. Dont' worry. By this evening, I'll return to my old, jaded self.


Three Things

I had an amazing week at work. Congress is back in session, which means an increase in tasks—but most importantly, it means the return of receptions and events. That's what makes my job so interesting and worthwhile: the opportunity to rub elbows and get my name and face out there. Of course, the free food, drinks and prizes are great too, assuming they don't get me in trouble (What's the House Ethics Rules limit, again?). After almost five months on the Hill, I am happy to report that I am still happy with my job and hopeful and excited about my career trajectory on the Hill. My Peace Corps medical application should be finalized in a few weeks, so it remains my back-up plan just in case things turn sour on the Hill. Let's hope it doesn't.

Right now, my attention turns to the arrival of Floyd. He'll be in town for a few days for a work event. I am really excited to spend time with him and show him how much D.C. has changed since he left. I can't wait to show him my new 'hood (which is actually his old 'hood) and enjoy dinner at Ben's like we used to. Of course, we have to spend a little time figuring out "us." But mainly, I want to enjoy his company.

After a few years of chaos, depression, and despair, things are finally good. As I told Chatty-Chica last night, I hope that I haven't reached the summit of happiness. Things sucked for a long time while I was trying to "find myself." I still haven't found myself but I think I deserve a bit more time in the sunlight before things fall apart.


The Newseum

During recess, some folks from our office went on a tour of the Newseum. Newseum tickets cost $20 so I jumped at the chance to check out the relocated museum for free.

I enjoyed my visit. I was amazed by the size of the museum--so many interactive exhibits and theatres. It is definitely a museum that you could spend a day in, without getting bored. I loved seeing the front pages from the newspapers across the country and the world. The Story of News exhibit was very interesting. I also enjoyed the possibility of "being a tv reporter." Unfortunately, I wasn't willing to part with the $8 needed to make that dream a reality. It would have been really funny to send the recording to my mom as a Christmas present. But, I'm thinking that getting something like that from me as a 27 year old wouldn't be the same as getting it from me as a cute 8 year old.

Of course, the 9/11 exhibit was very moving. All the front pages from around the country and world proclaimed the horrors of the day. The San Francisco Examiner headline simply stated, "Bastards."

The exhibit with the Berlin Wall was also interesting—the West side of the wall's surface was full of graffiti and free expression; the East side of the wall was stark and cold.

The museum has a great view of Pennsylvania Avenue and seems like an amazing place for a reception. I will definitely recommend the museum to my mother during her next visit, and hope that she'll be nice enough to buy my ticket.

Speaking of new tourist spots, I can't wait to take my mother to the new Capitol Visitors Center that will be open for business in only a few months (Dec.), after a 4 year delay and $500 million in tax dollars. I went on a tour of the complex a few weeks ago and it's really nice. It'll provide a lot of awesome space for meetings, receptions and other Hill events. It will also give visitors a better introduction to the history of the Capitol Complex and access to a larger gift shop and cafeteria. As a staffer, I'm excited that the throngs of tourists will flock to the facilities at the Capitol instead of cramming into our cafeterias, elevators and hallways. I appreciate the money that tourism pumps into D.C. and I love to hear the young people's astute policy questions and to see their looks of awe when they see the rotunda of the Capitol for the first time. But dear me, I don't think that any of them realized that folks actually work here. Hush up and get out the way! [Please?!?]


In da club, LOVE

I am so over the club scene. After years of nostalgia about all the fun nights I had as a 18-19 year old dancing and drinking at the club, I've realized that the club no longer offers the unique, fun time it did when I was young and stupid.

The club is a meat market and I didn't fully comprehend that until I stepped into a club called Love with my coworkers. We were all decked out in heels and figure-flattering dresses. We looked good and were ready for a fun night out. Unfortunately, it was just an okay night.

First, let me say that it is a nice club. Surprisingly nice. Dimly lit and full of wood paneling. Most of the clubs that I used to go to in D.C. (The Spot!!! and Platinum) were dingy places that were falling apart. Love is a trek from downtown but I think it is a worth the trip—assuming you arrive before 11 with a pass to avoid the $20 cover charge. There weren't that many cute guys in the place. The ones that were cute were bouncers or the skeevy sort that were enthusiastically grinding dancing with the women who were composed of an equal mix of skanks (sweetheart, that is a shirt not a dress) and good girls out with friends (which was my group).

Our enthusiasm of a girl's night out dancing was dampened by the unease we all felt on the dance floor. I don't know how a woman enjoying herself on the dance floor with her girlfriends always gets interpreted as an invitation to male advances. It's a known fact that women love to dance. Most of the time, they prefer to dance without worrying about stranger's wondering hands. I can't count the number of times my hand, hips or shoulder were grazed by guys trying to get my attention. Seriously, it is just skeevy and inappropriate. As I told one of the guys, I was there to hang out with my girls and not entertain the advances of men with only one thing on their mind.

But, overall it was a good experience. Not the amazing clubbing experience of the old days, but interesting and worth the time I spent getting ready. The visit helped me finally get over clubbing and reminded me of how much I love bars and lounges where I can show up without pretense, in jeans and a t-shirt.


Dancing Queen

It was so hard to get out of bed this morning after such an amazing weekend of napping, snacking, and dancing. Yes, the Hippo loves to dance!

Bravo Bravo: I haven't visited this place in years, and when I arrived to an empty place, I was a bit skeptical that I'd enjoy myself. But I did. I learned the bachata and got my fill of salsa, meringue and reggaeton. It got rather crowded and hot toward the end of the night, so we headed out around 130--when the party actually started to heat up and the thugs were headed in.

Black Cat: Sunday's Michael Jackson vs. Prince vs. Madonna (plus a bit of Janet) dance party was phenomenal. I don't think that I've ever danced and sang so much. I realize now how much Prince I don't know—and they seemed to play a lot of Prince. The dj didn't start playing the good stuff, i.e., back-to-back songs that I actually knew, until midnight. It was a great night of awesome music by the geniuses of pop.

I'll be back on the dance floor this weekend, donning a new minidress and killer heels—in my return to the club scene as an old lady for a symbolic last hurrah.


Tasty Hot Dog!

Mmm…I just had quite a tasty hot dog for lunch. A tasty hot dog from a vending machine.

My coworker and I finally ventured to Cannon to experience the hot dog that everyone has been talking about. It was quick and good.

Check out this Express article on the mechanics, location, etc of D.C.'s hot dog vending machines. It's neat that vending machine companies are now offering items besides the basics: chips, coffee, soda, and cookies. I look forward to the day when hot ramen is offered here, as in Japan. Or perhaps, grilled cheese sandwiches! It was interesting to watch my hot dog get violated cook and served on a warm bun (you have to see it to understand). I wish that relish or chili was offered as a condiment. But on a lazy Friday such as this, a $2.50 hot dog was just right. Now all I need is some chocolate cake...

And a trip to Ben's for the true experience—a half-smoke smoothed in chili. I'm already salivating.


Democratic National Convention

This has been a really exciting week in the world of politics. One for the history books.

I've been surprisingly glued to the television all week. Checking out the live coverage and quickly flipping to the cable news networks for the political analysis (FoxNews is unbelievably ridiculous!).

Last night, I was in tears during the end of the roll call vote. It was an amazing moment. A moment highlighted by two historical female figures working to put forth the acclamation of an African American presidential nominee.

I cried because it was a beautiful moment that made official what we've known for months, that Obama is on his way to the White House. I was witnessing history to share with my kids and grandkids. I was witnessing history that would similarly bring my ancestors to tears.

The whole convention has been charged. I've watched the headliner speeches of Michelle, both Clintons and Biden, and I was moved. They fired me up for this fall and motivated me want to work hard this fall to elect Obama. I can only imagine how surreal but magical the moment will be tonight when Obama makes his acceptance speech in front of a crowd of 75,000 while millions more watch from home.


Roommate Search ‘08

My house just finished our search for a new roommate. It was an easier process than I anticipated, and I hope that we made the right choice.

As on the Hill, it is all about whom you know. The guy we picked is dating a girl who is the younger sister of two of my classmates. He's from my hometown and that basically guarenteed my vote—once Frenchie objected to the older guy (33) that I was favoring. It would have been nice to get an older, more mature housemate. Instead, we have a 22 year old recent grad that seems to have a lot of energy though I don't think he has a job yet… Yes, I am concerned but he seems like the sort who has parents that foot the bill.

All four candidates we interviewed were fluent French speakers. In fact, one guy was fluent in 8 languages! This is problem for me, an insecure monoglot, who is barely able to hold a conversation in Spanish after months and months of studying. It brings up our house's French-fluency count to 3—that's half of the house! I guess I should take it as an opportunity to learn a few key French phrases, but so far, I've just politely demanded English-only when I've been in the room.

Another one of our roommates may be moving in with her boyfriend soon. So, we'll have to do yet another of these roommate searches. Hopefully, then we'll choose an replacement that meets my two requirements: older (27+) and a native Spanish speaker. Then, our house will be even: 3 French speakers and 3 Spanish speakers (though, I guess my roommate and I should only count as .5 of a Spanish speaker. We'll still learning).


The biggest time suck

Over the weekend, I invested in a $9 cable splitter so that I could finally hook up bootleg cable in my bedroom. Already, it has been the worst decision of my life.

I spent at least 3 hours mindlessly watching television shows last night—including The Hills. Yes, The Hills. The most pointless show in the world that somehow was able to suck me in—despite the important convention coverage that was being aired on several other channels.

Tonight, I'm going to unhook the cable and return to my trusty rabbit ears. I may only get 8 channels but it keeps my television viewing in-check and enables me to spend my time mindlessly reading chick-lit—my prefer guilty pleasure.



My sister is expecting a baby, which means I'll be an aunt very soon. I'm definitely excited for her and her husband. I'm also very happy for my mother. It will be her first grandchild and I know that she can't wait to spoil him/her. Yesterday, she joked that she'll have to start saving money so that she can properly spoil her first grandbaby. The baby is due in March, which is cool because it is the month of my father's birthday.

I guess this whole situation will force my sister and me to finally mend our strained relationship. I know that I don't know how to be an aunt, and at this point, I don't really know how to be a sister. I guess I'll be forced to learn both in the upcoming months.

I have to admit that babies weird me out. It will be great to play with and spoil my niece or nephew but I still haven't mastered the art of holding, cuddling or soothing a baby. I prefer older preschool aged kids that don't need to be changed and are most happy using their imaginations to play.

My sister's pregnancy reminds me of my own fleeting youth. We're both getting older and as the years past, we'll increasingly only have each other. I guess it's time for me to finally grow up and be a whole person and an adult.


Nobody wants a brownie

I decided to surprise my coworkers with a batch of my scrumptious brownie bites. We had a lazy pizza party for the few folks that are still in town. Over half of the office has been out for the past few weeks and I know that no one will be here next week.

I wasn’t able to convince my coworkers to eat all 50+ brownie bites, so I started to take them to nearby offices on my floor. First, let me say that a few of the R staffers on my floor are really unfriendly--actually snotty.

I am very shocked and appalled to report that almost everyone refused my offer. No one has ever refused a brownie in my presence—definitely not a homemade brownie bite. I still feel the pangs of hurt and confusion. Sure, I understand that almost every office orders food on recess Fridays. But, to turn down a brownie? Now, that is just shameful.

I hope to use the Ghirardelli mix to make another batch of brownies next week or post Labor Day—to celebrate our last few days of recess and last days without those annoying, but oftentimes helpful, interns.


Nothing to wear

I have two girl’s night outs coming up and I have absolutely nothing to wear. Most of my clothes are casual and everything else is basic office wear. While I was at Pentagon City over the weekend to order new glasses (soon, I'll be able to see clearly!), I checked out a few of the stores. But I couldn’t convince myself to purchase anything. The things that seemed age and style appropriate were not within my budget and the stuff that was in my budget didn’t seem like something a 27 year old should actually buy and wear (I love Forever 21, but aren’t I getting a bit too old for synthetics and jersey knits?).

I’ll just dig around my closet for something to wear to Friday’s GLOG trip to Tuscana Lounge, a new spot on K Street. But for my return to the club scene after a 9 year absence, I promise that I will scour the stores for something that is both appropriate and within my budget—or at least a good investment piece. I want to have an awesome club night with my coworkers and I want to impress myself and my coworkers with a "uncharacteristic" outfit. For me, of course that just means something short, fitted, and feminine.

I used to enjoy getting ready for the club when I was younger. But now, my efforts don’t go beyond donning a clean pair of jeans and a tank in order to head out to a grungy, dimly-lit bar. I do miss the club scene but I fear that it won’t be as glamorous and exciting as it was when I was 18 and confident/stupid/oblivious enough to wear a mini-dress and heels (a.k.a., hooker wear).


Um, are you my stylist?

Now that I’ve moved to NW, I don’t want to spend a full day getting my hair done out in Wheaton. So, I ventured to K Street to checkout a new stylist. She turned out to be great but she wasn’t at all what I expected.

In fact, I was on edge during most of my time there. I was vigilante of the treatments she applied to my hair and frequently asked her questions about the products. I feel bad that I didn’t trust her—but mainly, I feel bad that I didn’t trust her because she was White.

I’ve never had a White stylists apply a relaxer to my hair and I freaked out when I first met her. I’ve always had my hair done by female African American stylists, and I can still remember sorta freaking out the first time I had a male stylist. I didn’t freak out as much because he was Black and, in my mind, “knew” my hair.

But I was proven wrong this weekend. It is not about the race or gender of the stylist but his/her training and method. She did a wonderful job as I left the salon feeling very feminine and flirty and my hair was in much better condition.

She did annoy me with the typical new client lines of “oh, your old stylist did X, Y, and Z wrong. But, I’ll correct it during this visit and your next appointment. Trust me, I’m better. Stick with me!!” Otherwise, she was great and very reassuring. Before I left, I found out that she was the salon manager. I can’t wait to return to her chair again. The price was a little higher than normal but the location is ideal and the results are solid.


The Raven

After another failed attempt at practicing my Spanish conversation skills at Dos Gringos, my new alum buddy and I headed over to the Raven for drinks. He has raved about the Raven ever since I first met him. I’m glad that I finally checked it out and I’m quite sure that I’ll be back very soon.

For the record, my favorite dive bar in the area is the Quarry House in Silver Spring. It also has a long history, dark, wooden interior and a jukebox.

But, the Raven takes the label "dive bar" to a new level. There is no kitchen and the rumor is that the roaches swarm when customers aren’t around. Since IC told me that the place once boasted athletic rodents, I entered the bar unbelieveably cautious of what I would find within. It is a small and dark bar with large black and white photos of musicians and other notables of the old days (e.g. Hendrix, Dietrich, Marilyn, etc). The bartender, John, was very nice and the patrons—mainly locals and buddies when we arrived around 8/9 were older and very chill. By the time we left, closer to 11, the place was starting to fill up with late twenty- and early thirty-somethings and the music playing on the jukebox was a bit more constant.

It doesn’t seem like a hipster bar as noted in the WP review, but perhaps it turns hipster later in the night (ummm, I don't even know who hipsters are, but I sense that I don't like 'em). That’s not at all my scene, so I’ll only return to the Raven earlier in night, like on Saturday, when the crowd is all non-hipster locals and I can drop my quarters without having to wait an hour for my songs to play.

Also, for the record, I can't believe that tonic contains as much sugar as a soda. Vodka sodas are truly horrible. Geesh, I need a new signature drink!


City Club of Washington

I recently ventured to the City Club of Washington for a reception. It is a nice place with a tasty selection of wine (and I'm not a wine person).

I’ve never been to the City Club and in fact, didn’t know it existed before yesterday. Supposedly, it is one of the meeting places of the who’s-who of DC. Of course, no one was hobnobbing when I was there. Perhaps, because Congress isn’t in session. But it was nice to experience the club and see how the other half lives.

I can’t imagine that I’ll be hanging out at the Club anytime soon, if ever again. But I could see myself accompanying my super-rich, Mr. Big-like boyfriend/fiancé to an event there.

I had a really great time. I chatted with the older alums and networked with the young alums. I also connected two super-sweet modelesque alums who made me feel like a dwarf, mutant. After years of avoiding all things feminine and stylish, I've decide that I need to buy a bag to arm myself against such women (who are a rarity in this city) and boost my presence at such events. I think that if I was armed with a good bag, and had worn heels instead of my cute flats, I would've held my own with those women without feeling awkward. So, that's on my list for this Xmas: a good, statement bag that doesn't break the bank. But I wonder if that even exists.

I'm sure that I will have many other new experiences in D.C. during the upcoming months--especially as the election and inauguration draw near. And next time there is a major reception, I plan on being armed with heels and a bag (not tomboy flats and slacks) that reflect my independent, 27 year old self.


“Truth, justice and the American Way”

Last night, I saw Superman on the National Mall. It has been such a long time since I saw that movie (15 years?), and it was great to see it as an adult (as there are many jokes that I don't think I would have understood as a innocent young'n).

Given that it was the last Screen on the Green of the summer, it was very crowded—and unfortunately, quite cool (what’s up the weather?!). I met up with G.F.A., A-M, and a friend from grad school. It was great to see everyone and to revisit an American movie classic starring the late, great Christopher Reeves.

In other news, Floyd will be in town this September. It will be great to see him again but also, weird for him to be in D.C. I know that he'll be making the rounds to visit all of his old friends (including me). I look forward to showing off my new digs and 'hood, but mainly, I want to just chill and enjoy his close proximity.


Is it really August?

Our seemingly fall-like weather could have fooled me. I braced myself all summer long for the heat and humidity that has marked every August that I’ve spent in D.C. But where is it this year? Where is the oppressive heat and humidity that plagues the tourists and drives the locals out of town?

I actually donned a light sweater Saturday evening. That’s unheard of. Sure, I’d just returned from 95-degree Miami. But I expected more from D.C. This morning was the same—I was tempted to grab another sweater before heading out to work. What’s up with these temps?

I guess it signifies that the summer is drawing to a close. Lammas has passed (!), the days are shorter, and the daily low temperature is getting even lower.

It scares me that the summer is almost over, that these milder temperatures will only usher in cold temperatures that force me indoors—under the covers and near space heaters. I don’t know where the summer went. It was good, and of course, good things never last.


Back from Miami

I took a last minute trip to Miami on Wednesday. Floyd called me Tuesday afternoon to let me know that he was headed to Miami for a business trip. He knows how much I love and idolize that city—mainly the warm weather and beautiful beaches. I stressed about going all day. I am definitely not the spontaneous type and I wasn’t sure how I would get those days off from my boss. So after conferring with my coworkers ("just call in sick!") and checking and rechecking my flight options. I finally book my ticket late Tuesday night and shoved the basics into a small bag. I was going.

I’m so glad that I went. The weather was warm and humid and the beaches were beautiful. I had briefly visited Miami once in college. Miami was even better this time. Unfortunately, his office didn’t book him a hotel on the beach so we stayed downtown. But, it worked out well. Floyd rented a convertible which enabled us to drive to Sobe if desired, and staying in downtown gave me easy access to shops, snack stops and public transit.

I went to Sobe on Thursday--exploring a few of the sites on foot before heading back to the hotel tired and sweaty. Later that night, we headed to Sobe for drinks and a walk on the beach.

On Friday, we headed back to Little Havana for meals and to check out the cantankerous, old men in Domino Park. It rained for a few hours, which forced Floyd to focus on work stuff at the hotel. I stayed with him most of the afternoon, only venturing out to run an errand and experience the Monorail system. That evening, we had a magical, sunset swim on the beach before heading to Coral Gables for dinner.

The most memorable thing about my trip, besides the sunset swim with Floyd and driving around Miami with the top down, was the food. The food was amazing. We ate in Little Havana three times. Breakfast at El Exquisito and lunch and dinner at Versailles. I can’t even begin to explain how delicious the black beans and rice, fried pork, yucca, etc was at Versailles. Plus, Versailles has a great bakery full of delicious sweets. El Exquisito’s café and café con leche beat Versailles’, and I consumed at least 2 cups on Friday (and was wired).

At times, the trip was rocky. Floyd and I have a very long, complicated history. Ours is a love-hate relationship that doesn’t seem to fade. I’m so all mixed up about us now. Seeing him reminded me of all the things I disliked about him (and why we had problems), but most importantly, it reminded me of how much I still care for him and how much I enjoy spending time with him.

Who knows when we’ll see each other again. Perhaps, this September. We’ll see where things go. I don’t plan on letting all this prevent me from enjoying being single in the city, but I will be more mindful that I'm still not over him.


Relaxing in St. Michaels

Thank you, Organica, for a memorable weekend in St. Michaels. Running home from work Friday evening, I totally wanted to flake and just spend the weekend hiding under the covers—surrounded by snacks and dvds. Instead, I joined the Wheaton carpool to St. Michaels. I'm so glad I did.

I had a very relaxing weekend at Organica's family place. I ate lots of junk food, played lots of games, and laughed a lot. It was beautiful, welcoming, and just perfect. I can only hope to have a place like it once I get established.

Crabs, corn, and other veggies made up our Saturday dinner. For the record, I don't like Maryland-style crabs but the crabs themselves were very good and full of meat! It took so much work to pry open my two that I donated number three and opted for eating more delicious local corn and tomatoes.

So, now I'm back at work and wishing I could sit once again in the rocking chair, battle the hammock under the oak tree, and spy on the boaters. Instead, I'm stuck in the office under the glare of the fluorescent light, trying to convince myself to work.

Thanks again, Organica, for the weekend. It was a great Lunch Bunch last hurrah. I hope that we'll continue making memories for many more years to come.



Yay, Congress is in recess! All the Members are headed back to their districts and many staffers are taking a much-deserved break from politics and DC. Unfortunately, I'm not going anywhere. I want to save my days to campaign this fall (More on that later once I get approval).

I look forward to an amazing, hot August and then, lots of excitement in the fall. I plan on spending this month catching up on work, networking with the few folks that are sticking around, and focusing on my personal life (i.e., connecting with my new roomies, excelling in my Spanish class, and finalizing my Peace Corps medical app).

I didn't realize how tiring this month has been—full of stress and general craziness. But, it has been a good month. My teammate at work arrives on Monday and her presence will take some stress and responsibilities from me, which will be nice.

For the record, I donated money to the Obama campaign last night. I met the deadline to be entered in a contest to go backstage before his big convention speech. That would be cool, but more than that, it was just time for me to commit more than my voice and my vote to his campaign efforts.


Drinking the Kool-Aid

"Wow, you've really been drinking the Kool-Aid..."

That's what Floyd told me last night after I spent 30 minutes defending my boss's stance and efforts on the Iraq War and other issues. I now realize how insulated I am within my office and I can only imagine how hard my colleagues have to work to insulate our boss from attacks while ensuring that he is always informed. It's a tightrope walk, a delicate dance. There will always be folks that denounce every proposal that the Member puts forth. At the same time, there will always be folks that will commend every action and view regardless of how stale-groundbreaking, wonderful-horrible it is. You have to learn to always be mindful of the traditional line taken by both your detractors and supporters.

It's amazing how partisan the Hill is. I know that it is very silly for me to be saying that—of course, the Hill is partisan! I've always been a proud liberal Democrat but I find myself even more aligned with my party and further to the left as a result of my work on the Hill. Yes, I've studied group polarization and this is that psych concept in action.

So, I'm drinking the Kool-Aid. I've poured over our statements, listened to our rehearsed responses, and processed response letters in my boss's voice. Thankfully, my views aligned beautifully with my boss's before I arrived so there is no risk of me being brainwashed. Yet, for as long as I'm around, I will defend my boss because I believe that he and all of my coworkers (in positions of power) are mindful of the big picture and are truly committed to the interests of all Americans, young and old. Yes, I'm drinking the Kool-Aid but the Kool-Aid is good.


Next goal: Working in the White House?

I'm really excited about the job prospects for 2009. Last night, I attended a talk about the road to the White House for staffers. It was very interesting to hear about the speaker's own journey, and I loved that concrete steps and tips were shared. Once Obama gets sworn into office, I plan on putting my name out there for consideration (though, as I learned, my name has to be out there now). It would be an amazing honor to work for him even as a lowly staffer--definitely something to add to my resume and tell my kids.

But that brings me back to what I've been reminded at every event I've attended on the Hill: the importance of relationships. I've been working hard to plant seeds and make my presence on the Hill known. But I have so much further to go--so much further to go even in my own office. I've been in my office for 3 months now and I still don't know all of our staff. That has to change. I have all of August (yay, no interns!!) to get to know more staffers and share campaigning opportunities and Hill climbing strategies with my small circle of Hill allies.

It is so amazing to be on the Hill but the pressure is building to get myself positioned and to make the most out of my "short" time here. The key indicator is a feeling of ease. I feel comfortable in my position right now and as I learned at my last job, that is dangerous. During the first weeks of August, I plan on wiping out backlog tasks so that the next time the CoS asks if I need more to do, I will proudly say yes. Then, I'll be able to take on more, diverse tasks that will improve my skills and prove my value to the office.

I'll be sure to give you an update on my progress near the end of August. I know that there are at least a dozen lunches, fro-yo breaks, and informal pass-bys that need to be accomplished in the few weeks. It is intimidating to reach out to others (especially senior staff) but I know that it will be hard to move up on/off the Hill without those contacts.



One of the cardinal rules everyone learns is to not date/hookup with anyone that you work with or live with/near. I successfully avoided the cute boys that lived on my floor in college (not that there were many) and the cute boys that I’ve worked with.

But I’m being tested again, and I fear I might fail. I’m a sucker for accents and proximity. My cute Frenchman roomie has both. He’s already been in two of my dreams, and they were so real that I actually woke up seriously worried about how I would face him. Don’t worry. Our interactions in the dreamworld have been entirely PG, but I can only imagine how things might escalate in la-la-land and in reality. Just add beer and as Chatty Chica always says, alcohol + cute boys = fun/trouble.

I know what the problem is. It’s summertime, an extended spring fever. I will do my best to stay sane but dreams of an impossible rendezvous make it hard.

Speaking of an impossible rendezvous, I want to note that I wouldn’t have minded a rendezvous with my old classmate. Maybe, it’s just the whole rock star-groupie thing, but I was seriously aware of my “come-hither” body language while we were chatting. Yes, I know Celestyn! It is shocking and weird for me to say that, but I liked his vibe. Plus, it’s been a while.

Tilly and the Wall

I went to the Black Cat last night to see Tilly and the Wall. It was a good concert, and actually a very good day.

I went to school with one of the band members and it was nice to chat with him and our other classmate (who also lives in DC). It was a mini-reunion of sorts that made me smile, though it mainly reminded of how quickly time flies. It was weird to see him after nine years. My recollection of him in high school was of quiet, straight-laced though odd guy. I can still see his high school mannerisms now but he seems older and more mature somehow and assumingly, to be having an awesome time.

The band was solid. Their sound and performance was a bit odd but I liked it. It was an eclectic mix of styles ranging from 60s/80s melodic pop to today’s alt-punk---with a bit of country/folk thrown in. Hmm…I don’t think that even makes sense. The key is that they had a lot of energy, and I loved the two lead vocalists. Of course, I was also amazed by the stamina of the tap dancer who kept the beat and the crowd pumped throughout the show. I really want a pair of purple sequinced wrist cuffs.

The openers were Exit Clov and The Ruby Suns. I really liked the sound of The Ruby Suns. They were all over the place but it was a fun ride.

A special thanks to my friend’s boyfriend for providing earplugs. The show was good but loud. I'm getting way to old to not be concerned about hearing loss. Good call, D.

One more thing. Guess what is coming up at the Black Cat!

Sun Aug 31- DJ Dredd Presents: PRINCE vs MICHAEL JACKSON vs MADONNA w/ live visuals

Oh, my! I am so there!


Screen on the Green: The Candidate

I ended up going to Screen on the Green last night. I had planned on going to sleep early but I grew restless around 7. I always say what's the use of having principles if you don't live by them. In the case of my "say yes whenever possible to social outings" rule, it was time to practice what I preach. So I grabbed a bus down to the Mall and met up with a former coworker and two of her friends.

Last night's showing was of The Candidate. I had seen the movie before, in high school, but it was nice to see it again—especially in light of this crazy election year. It is amazing how many of the themes, perspectives and issues that arise in the movie are still applicable today and to this year's presidential election (e.g., race, age, international conflict, the environment, the economy, and energy). It was a great, fun movie with good performances.

Aside from the few annoying bugs, late arrivers/early leavers, and this huge dog that was sitting near us and keep inching closer and closer to our space, it was a good experience. I always seem to forget how beautiful this city is at dusk and at night. Seeing The Candidate with the Capitol in the background was amazing and drew home the fact that I'm in an amazing city—full of selfless idealists who are fighting to make the world better, edgy wonks who are doing a great job of deciphering/muddling up the debate, and evil-doers/ambitious pricks that are only after glory, money and fame. I'm in the first camp, though my idealism wanes. I plan on fleeing this city before my dreams of a paradigm shift are totally crushed by the stark reality of the man, the machine, and money.


Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park

The one thing I truly love about my new place is its proximity to Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park. MHP rocks.

This morning, when I was packing my bag for a day at the Mall, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to go all the way downtown to sit, read and write under a tree. I could walk a few blocks to MHP. So that’s what I did.

I spent just an hour or two in the park, watching the ultimate Frisbee game and listening to a few locals drum and sing songs that reminded me of the little Buena Vista Social Club that I've heard. It was great. It was peaceful. It was beautiful. It was still cool out and a light breeze was constant. I sat under a clustering of trees and wrote, read, drew, and mainly just enjoyed the late Sunday morning. I plan on sitting in the Park every Sunday—as long as the weather cooperates. I still need to go in the afternoon to see the drum circle—perhaps next weekend. I’ve always loved being outside and sitting under trees and given my house’s issue with the deck, I think that it will be my new backyard.

Speaking of yards, I’ve decided that I will try to fix-up the front yard. It just needs a bit of sweeping and maybe a plant or too but it is a great front area for passing the evening. I sense that my neighborhood used to be a place where everyone hung out on the front stoop in the evenings and I hope that I can get that started again. It helps to create a sense of community and lets folks know that I am here. I just need to check with my housemates, resolve the critter problem, and then, I’m all set to start my new project (yay, I have a new project!). When I’m done, I plan on setting up my folding chair on the front stoop after dinner. All I’ll need is a 40 and maybe a small radio to keep me company until it catches on and I have a few neighbors and passersby to greet and eye.


Saturday Blahs

I'm in one of the weirdest of moods right now. I think it relates to things finally settling. I've achieved most of what I set out to achieve this year so that now there is nothing to consume me—in the way that the job hunt, apt hunt, and Peace Corps app did during the beginning of this year. I still have my Spanish class to fill some of my time, and I guess I could (and should) always revisit my writing. But, it's weird to have all this free time now and lack of pressure to achieve the next big thing.

Work has been killing me lately. It's just me in the outgoing mail department and I have yet to truly tame our interns. I've gotten off to an unfortunately slow start this month. But that will all change starting this week. I've gotten my head around it all, I think, and I'm ready to re-conquer my position.

And yet, I still ask what's the next big thing? I thank A-M for reminding me that I should be having fun right now. She's right. I want and need to have a little diversion (no, not the sort of last summer). I don't yet know what form it will take but as of today, my door (and window) is open for whatever life brings my way.