Something Old, Something New

Eek.  If only my work life would calm down, I could post more regularly. I apologize to my loyal readers, but my free time is limited these days. I'm hopeful that the upcoming 2-week recess will give me time to create a bunch of great posts. But I'm not making any promises.
Over the weekend, G.F.A., A-M and I went to one of my favorite DC restaurants, Busboys and Poets.  No, not the U Street location that is mere blocks from my animal house. We ventured to the spanking-new location north of Chinatown.  The food was perfection as always—one day I'll venture to order something other than the immaculate veggie lasagna.  But something was missing. The vibe seemed cold and less urban than the hip and always-bumping U Street location. Perhaps, it's just that "NoMa" (WaPost coined?) hasn't finished gentrifying so there are still many abandoned buildings and lots next to towering, unfinished/uninhabited condos.  Of course, I didn't let that interfere with my meal, but I don't think that I will return to that location any time soon.
Afterwards, we headed to Rocket Bar. I love Rocket Bar. From the moment I entered the bar, I was greeted by all the late 80s and 90s songs that I grew up with. It was crowded but we managed to score a table in the back between two pool tables. As an added bonus, I spotted several cute guys in the crowd that night---definitely a place I will return to with my single gal friends.
Chinatown is rarely an area where I choose to hang-out. It is always swarming with annoying high schoolers, Verizon Center junkies and movie-goers.  But the young, chill vibe at Rocket Bar makes me at least reconsider it as a weekend destination.
Speaking of Chinatown and NoMa, I have decided that I want to have a pizza party at Ledo's for my birthday. I love, love, love Ledo's, and I am so excited that a downtown location is in the works.  If only, they would build a Sparkles skating rink right next door. Then I could really go old-school.


Business Cards

After 11-months on the Hill, I finally have business cards. When I
first arrived, I didn't care if I had cards. I was only a staff
assistant and I didn't plan on staying. But as it became more and
more apparent that I would be sticking around, I started to want
business cards. My supervisor told me that cards should have been
ordered for me, but never really told me how to go about securing
them. I decided to let it go, betting that I would be out of the
office by the time my cards were delivered anyway. So for the past 11
months, I've been sheepishly telling folks that I don't have a card. I
guess it hasn't really affecting my ability to network, but it is
something essential when it counts.

So now I have a set of about 200 cards. I look forward to finally
exchanging, not just receiving, cards at the receptions. It would have
been awesome to have had a card from my first Hill job, but I'm
thinking that my signed farewell shot more than suffices as a memento.

I will mail a small stack of my business cards to my mother. She's
always asking for my cards as she likes giving them out to her
friends. I also plan on giving her my inauguration ceremony and ball
tickets, programs, and ID badge. I think she'll be even more excited
to see that. I think my small collection of memorabilia would look
nice framed, along with a signed pic of the President.


Metro has new seats

This morning on the green line, I noticed the latest Metro upgrade. I must stay that I hate the previous Metro upgrade--the new metal and cloth handles--new handles that Metro proudly advertises with signs in almost every Metro car. I have yet to see someone actually use the metal ones and the dangling cloth ones always hit me in the head on the way out of the metro car.

A friend told me that metro spends a good portion of its revenue on refurbishing seats and cleaning the carpeted floors. Apparently, they decided to get rid of the carpet and instead, invest in velour (?) covered seats that are also seen on some of the newer Metro buses. It makes sense to not have carpet. I've seen my share of puking drunks on the metro to recognize metro's rationale for replacing the carpet with easy-to-clean vinyl. But cloth seats? I think the plastic-leather seats are a better choice. Sure, annoying high school kids can't write on them, but the vinyl seats are better at repelling dirt or at least alerting riders of their relatively cleanliness. And that matters to me, especially when I am wearing my best suit or dress to work.

My vote is for no new handles, no new cloth seats, but yes to the vinyl floors. Spend money instead, Metro, on maintenance to avoid breakdowns, derailing and delays.


Spring is Here!

I heard songbirds again this morning. I'm glad that today marks the beginning of spring. I'm not so naïve about DC's crazy weather to think that today marks the end of extremes--snow storms one week and 70 degree weather the next. But I am encouraged that soon enough summer will return with the heat and humidity only a southerner could appreciated and even love.

This weekend, my potential roommate is moving to DC. It remains to be seen if we really are compatible but I am hopeful that we can find a perfect place to share. After visiting and calling countless places and only getting the run-around and lots of pressure to reserve the apartment now(!), I am convinced that given our budgets and desire for location and space, renting a house may be our best option. This has opened my eyes to living on the Hill, though Columbia Heights remains my first choice.

We'll see what happens but I am glad that I am one step closer to finding a place to call home.


A Lingering Crush

Last fall, on the campaign trail I met a guy who worked in a district office. I found myself instantly attracted to him and to this day I can't seem to shake him.

I've never been the sort to act on crushes. I just like the stage of flirtation and flutters without the worries of rejection and unease. I'm a habitual crusher, and I tend to have a new male crush every few months. Some guys continue to be on my mind months after our last interaction, and that is the case with this particular guy.

The best part is that he has moved to DC. I saw him a few weeks ago and he invited me to visit his office. Though I want to, I haven't visited him yet. I feel that would cross the line because I know that I would be going there for the sole purpose of flirting and doing everything in my power to get him to ask me out. And that's the problem. My heart still belongs to Floyd. Also, I hesistate to pursue a guy on the Hill. It is too much like high school--peolple gossip and folks tend to get around a lot.

So for now, I'm going to be immature and just relish our chance meetings. Once I know more about him and more about my own heart, I will find the courage to go after him and every other crush).


Networking 101

This week, I attended a very informative event on the art of networking. I've lamented my difficulties with networking on this blog before. But as long as I want to succeed on the Hill and in politics—where networks are essential for success—I need to get as much insight and practice as I can now. I want to avoid rookie networking mistakes once I've made it to or near the top. Here are just a few tips that were given during the event:

1) Be confident: This one is basic. If you don't believe in you, why would anyone else believe in you? Everyone has something to offer. Both interns and CEOs offer information, experiences, etc that can be of use to others. My tendency was, and is, to always be like, "Oh no, I'm just a [intern, assistant, etc]." Who cares what your current position is! You are still a gatekeeper to information and contacts within that organization. Plus, even if you are an intern, there are high school and college students who can learn a lot from you.

2) Say your first AND last name, and mean it: I often break this rule, which is reminiscent of a Suze Orman adage. Assert yourself and you will be remembered.

3) Be a catalyst of connections: When you meet people in a room, introduce those folks to other people you know in the room. Same with information. If you know about a great event, pass it along to your networks. Eventually, folks will start coming to you as the person in the know. It's a rather cool place to be!

4) Keep track of your contacts: After an event, I always write information on the back of all of the business cards I've collected. Such info as where and when I met the person and key things that I learned about them may be helpful for a follow-up calls/emails.

5) Do be afraid to email or call: Remember to follow-up, especially if you way you will. A simple email saying "it was great to meet you. Can we meet for coffee to chat about XYZ" will suffice. Remember that even super-busy folks are often willing to take time out of their schedules to help out others. Everyone remembers what it was like to start-out and how important key contacts and advice was to them. It may take weeks or months for them to schedule a meeting. But, they'll be flattered that you sought them out as a "guru" in the field/industry. Be persistent (without being rude) because it is worth it.  At the same time, don't waste their time. Be prepared and focused in your questions and requests.

6) Nurture your contacts: A simple email update every once in a while is great. Emails are particularly important when you have success (i.e., you get the job, finalize a project, etc). Who doesn't like to know that they were part of someone else's success?

7) Don't forget about your non-professional groups and networks: Book club members, kickball teammates, roommates, and alumni all have something to share.

8) It's not always about work: Those same networks that help you succeed at work can also be helpful in learning about other, non-professional ventures (e.g., a good tailor, realtor, book club, bar, etc).

So with this new wealth of knowledge, I have pledged to do a better job of building, nurturing, and diversify my network on and beyond the Hill. A Hill buddy has already offered to team-up with me in going to Hill receptions. Eventually, we'll get enough practice and be able to work rooms and cultivate contacts like the pros.


She didn't press charges

Last week, there was a bit of drama at my shared house. Yes, it is the last and absolute final straw for me. My roommate's ex-boyfriend was arrested for simple battery in front of our house. I was the only witness but I didn't see much.

I am a bit fearful that her ex is now truly pissed off and may come back for revenge. All I know is that I'm calling the police if I ever seem him hanging outside our place again.

For this reason, she is supposed to get a restraining order but who knows. She refused to press charges and actually tried to change her story after he was arrested. Yeah, so crying and trembling in fear one minute because he wouldn't leave the front stoop after we finally got him out. And now it wasn't a big deal? I was there and I was scared of the odds that two weak women would win against a pissed-off, probably imbalanced dude.

But this brings up a larger issue. It's crazy to think that women are often victims of mental and/or physical abuse from their boyfriends/husbands and often they choose to not press charges and to not get restraining orders to keep them away and to keep themselves and their children safe. I don't understand it.

The story of Rhiana, my roommate (though a more minor offense), and that couple who lived above me last year...it all makes me sick.

Yes, you love and care about him but he hurt you. Of course, in his right mind, he would never want to do you any harm. But things can sour very quickly and escalate so far that he might have actually kill you.

I understand that in those situations it is often childhood trauma or dysfunction merely repeating itself. It is a cycle that rarely breaks without counseling and lots of inner strength.

It is sad to think of how many women are living in silent terror of the one person who is supposed to love them the most and protect them from all others.

Women need to be stronger. Women can be stronger. It sounds cliche, but love shouldn't hurt. You have to realize and fight for love that is pure joy, and not pain.


Roommate Revenge

Last night, it seemed that I was living in a dorm. My roommate had a birthday party that started calm enough but became much more prolonged and loud as the night wore on.

I was in no mood to party given that I didn't leave the office until 730 and had to report again at 8 this morning. Of course, I was late this morning because I was unable to get to sleep until the party ended at midnight.

I went down twice to ask my roommates to turn the music down or at least move the festivities to the back room which isn't directly above my bedroom. But they disregarded my requests. I resisted going down again only because I knew that the third time would get ugly. They were getting drunk and I was fuming. I don't care to create a hostile living environment until I am certain that I have a new place to live.

While I waited for the party to die, I sent out a few emails for roommates and plotted on different ways to get revenge. Besides disregarding the 30 day notice, which I could given that I don't have an effective lease, I only have a few ideas. I've already decided that I'm not doing anymore house chores, but I could also report the house's free cable, have my own rager and specifically not invite them(cause I wouldn't want them there anyway), and start early the process of selling my surplus furniture that is currently in the shared rooms. I could definitely use the extra cash to buy boxes and moving supplies. But all that just seems petty. Well, I am the petty type...

Any other ideas?

Last night was the very last straw. I take my career way too seriously to have anything but quiet time during the week. There is just too much reading and preparing that I have to cram into the 3 hours I have each night between the time I get home and the time I'm ready for bed. When I first moved in, the house was much more sedate, but the new roommates have changed the house's lifestyle. Now, my roommates are too young, foolish and immature to mesh with the home atmosphere I want and the lifestyle I now live.


Elementary School Lunch Nite

Over the weekend, A-M, GFA, and I had a dinner party focused on eating some of the foods we loved in elementary school. It was an idea born at least a year ago that finally was realized.

There are many things that come to mind when thinking about elementary school. For me, I remember mostly recess, field day, nap time, chorus, my first long term crush, and of course, lunch time.

I ate lunch at school everyday until 7th grade--when eating cafeteria food became uncool, expensive, and not so appetizing. I remember paying $0.90 in the early years and $1.15 later on. My allowance (aside from cash for grades) came from the small amount of change I got each week. It wasn't much, but I always felt lucky to add a dime or nickel to my piggy bank.

Saturday, our menu included two main courses. We started with an appetizer of fish sticks and tater tots. Next up was mini corn dogs and a salad--to balance it all off. Yes, it was a night of grease and breading. And we definitely opted for wine over cartons of whole milk. But it was memorable.

Next time, we're going to try for a dessert night. Nothing but flour, butter, and sugar allowed. Things are really crazy for us at work and nothing beats down time with friends and an abundance of not so healthy food.