Almost every young Hill staffer has the fear of being overheard divulging office secrets in the elevator or of being caught in the middle of a Member photo-op. For that reason, I always try to avoid Members, VIPs, and camera crews like the plague, and I am always tight-lipped around folks.

Last week, cameras were swarming the halls and I was unlucky enough to be caught in a published picture next to a few Members. It is a bad picture and I look obviously uncomfortable. I can clearly remember trying to scurry away from the scene, but was blocked by a gaggle of chatting Members. The look on my face is obviously that of distress--last week was nothing but stressful.

For the record, I officially hate my profile now.


Another Move

What an intense week. Work was out of control and I've been stressing out about my housing situation. I decided to go for a smaller shared house in Columbia Heights after much pressure (from myself) to get a new place. I'll be sharing a 3BR/2BA house with two girls. They seem very nice and most importantly, seem to be at a similar place in their lives as me. That means no reliving college and the ability to clean-up after themselves. I hope that I haven't made a rash decision but I have been itching to move out of where I live for months.

So the race is on to pack my stuff and organize movers. I hate to pay $300 to move basic furniture .5 miles down the street but I don't want the hassle of driving a U-haul truck. This is the one occasion (besides VDay) when I wish I had a boyfriend or at least a few, buff male friends who owe me favors. Thankfully, a few gal pals agreed to help, and I'm thinking that we'll manage. Of course, this is all scheduled during a crazy-busy legislative period, but I think that if I devote a few hours every day during the next two weekends to packing, I should be all ready for the moving men on May 10.


Fine Lines

I see them.

A few around my eyes and a growing collection on my forehead. They say that "black don't crack" but I am seeing evidence of major, future wrinkles.

Since I turn 28 in a few weeks, I guess it is okay for me to start using wrinkle creams but I don't know if I will ever opt for Botox, skin rejuvenation, a face lift, or whatever else will be on the market when I hit 40.

I like to think that I am a low-maintenance, natural woman who embraces her imperfections, but the impact of aging on a woman's body is too much for me. I don't want saggy boobs, a flabby neck, a hunchback, frown lines, or sunspotted skin. But I know that it is on the way and there is little that I can do.

I don't want to be the weird lady who has clearly had work done--who can't smile or whose hands/neck/belly belies her plumped, radiant face. I want to love my wrinkles and see them as beautiful signs of maturity. But I don't know how to get out of our society’s youth-obsessed mentality so that I can embrace and love my aging/decaying body.


Birthday Party Planning

I want to do something different for my birthday this year. Right now, I’m thinking about a picnic on the Mall or a Ledo’s pizza party.

Picnic on the Mall
I love picnics and I love the Mall. That’s why it would be perfect to spend a warm spring day under the shade of the trees in front of the National Gallery. I’d ask friends to bring fruit, veggies, hummus, sandwiches, salad, etc to leisurely eat while sipping on contraband wine. We could play Frisbee, fly kites, or throw around a random beach ball. It would be very low-keyed and focused mostly on celebrating the warm weather. The main problems would be transporting everything to the Mall, the fact that pollen isn't my friend, and the threat of spring showers.

Ledo’s Pizza Party
I love Ledo’s, and I think it woud be the perfect location for an old-fashioned pizza party, with hats, horns, goody bags, and ice cream cake. It would bring out the kid in all of us and give me an excuse to pig out on pizza and beer. The ultimate party would be to bring a few Ledo's pizza pies and a cake into Rocket Bar. Although the place isn’t great for chatting (too loud), we could easily spend hours playing all the board games and other games offered. The only problem is that I don't know if the Ledo's Chinatown location will be open in time.

So those are my option. I still have time to figure out the logistics, and most importantly, which option would be best for bring together my different groups of friends.


Missed Connection

Two blog entries in one day are a big no-no for Hippo Q., but...

OMG. I sat next to the dreamiest guy on the plane. He started talking to me as soon as I sat down. At first, I was antisocial, favoring to do some reading for work (will I ever catch-up?!). But when I was done, we started chatting again. Mainly about work and DC.

He's a military officer/lawyer and in town for only a few days, which means that he would be good for a short fling. A ONS isn't my style, but I would give anything to makeout with him. He was just so tall, tan, and strong with perfectly kissable lips.

No, I didn't ask for his number. Not when we were getting off the plane or when I said goodbye to him again near baggage claim. I am such an inexperienced flirt, relegated to relieving such exchanges over the blogosphere.

Any normal woman would have closed the deal. But I feared rejection and didn't know how to say, "hey sweetcakes, I'll give you a tour of the city you will never forget" without sounding cheesy.

So unfair. Why can't I get over my wallflower, traditional approach to guys? I fear that my lack of game will result in me becoming a crazy catlady that no one visits.

So here is my game plan. I'm going to try my luck with an ad on Craiglist and in the City Paper. Then, I'm going to burn in my memory this experience so that when the next Mr. Right(now) is presented to me, I won't fuck it all up.

Airport Musings

After a few days in Atlanta, I am ready to return to my reality. It was a nice trip home. Although I didn't get to see my grandmother, I did see my niece (so tiny and squishy!) and I spent some quality time with my mom. I always get restless at home. The suburbs are so quiet and calm and I don't have easy, walkable access to stores for browsing or parks for people watching. I honestly can't see myself living in ATL for a long while. I like the energy of DC too much. But the real deal breaker is that I refuse to be reliant on a car to get to work, run errands or visit friends and family. ATL is definitely a car dominated city, and that's uncool.

I won't miss the pollen that has made my eyes burn, my nose run and my skin itchy. But I will miss having a backyard. I planted marigold seeds and impatients for my mother, and it was really nice to get my hands dirty in GA red clay.


Going Home

My flight leaves tomorrow for Atlanta. I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends and family. I haven’t been home in over a year—so my visit is very much overdue.

There are a bunch of things I want to do while I am home, including see my grandmother and niece, hang out with my high school buddies, and plant new flowers for my mom. I also want to take at least one bubble bath, ride my bike around the ‘hood, and eat Chick-fil-a, the Varsity, and Waffle House. It’s a lot to fit into a 3 day vacation but I will do what I can.

I am so happy that it is recess. I feel unbelievably relaxed and calm—quite a change from the stressed and anxious feeling that plagued me during the past two months. I love my job but it can be really intense. So this two week break is exactly what I need before the next round of madness. Plus, it is always nice to get away from the city and out of the bubble.

On a side note, my roommates and I bonded last night over a few hours of card games. It was a very fun night and I am glad that I ventured downstairs for the impromptu game. Yes, I still want and need to move but given that I've blown off most house functions since I arrived, it was time for me to be present.


Sunday Stroll in Old City (?)

Yesterday, I took a walking tour from Mt. Vernon/NoMa to Logan Circle. I fell in love with the 400th block of Ridge Street NW, among others with, when I checked out a few rental units in that neighborhood a month ago. It is such a quiet area that has a lot of potential. I also like the area between Logan Circle and the Convention Center. Sure, some of the streets are still undergoing transition but I think that it is a good location for me in the long term. And that's what I want, a place that will fit my lifestyle now and for the next 10-15+ years. I may party in Adam's Morgan and on U Street now, but will I still want to have easy access to that area later? So barring a lottery win that would enable me to buy a house in Foggy Bottom or Dupont, I'm thinking that an area a short bus ride from Chinatown/Penn Quarter is more my style.

Yes, I am still interested in purchasing a home in D.C. I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a condo, but now I am quite sure that I would be the most happy with a house and a small yard. This means that I will need to save even more money.

I've decided to go for a place with 2-3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms—to ensure rental income and easier resale. I want a place that has been updated but not renovated. I want a structurally sound house with new appliances, updated bathrooms and revitalized floors. But I don't like renovations that strip an old house of its character. I've seen many places like that and in fact, I live in that sort of house. It is modern and comfortable but it lacks the charm and workmanship that an updated, old house can have.

A yard is a must. Nothing huge that I can't manage, but something that will allow me to "play in the dirt again."

I don't think that I'm asking too much. But houses are so expensive in D.C., even in transitioning areas I like. Can I really save and raise five figures during the next few years to manage at least a 5 percent down payment? Given housing prices, that means at least $30k, not to mention the money I'll need for closing costs, an emergency fund, etc. That's where government grants and family gifts will have to come in. I hesitate to ask my mother for help, and I've heard that many of the HUD, etc programs are tailored to low-income families, not underpaid single Hill staffers. Where does that leave me?

When I go home this weekend, I hope to talk to my mother about my plans and get her advice about how to properly proceed. I still have at least two years to save and research but I want to be fully prepared before I start seriously looking and sign my life away.

**I am quite confused about the proper name(s) of the areas where I was walking. The real estate listings say Old City 1 and 2, the street signs said Mt. Vernon/Naylor Court/Blagden Alley, and wiki calls part of the area NoMa. I apologize to the locals who are offended by my ignorance, but where was I?


Donde Estan Hopper Cakes?

I am having the hardest time finding hopper cakes this year. They are my favorite seasonal snack and I look forward to them every spring.

I can remember buying five boxes of the sweet little cakes a few years ago. I don't know what came over me as I'm not the sort to get swept up by "limited time offers," but hopper cakes are hard to find. They are only sold around Easter and only at select stores that tend to have only a few boxes or individual packs. You go back the next week, and they are all gone. That's probably why I go crazy and buy so many whenever I see them. They are just so rare.

Of course, I can and should live without them. No one needs to ingest such an artificial, sugar-packed snack. Yet, I love them and can't imagine the beginning of spring without them. Keep your fingers crossed that I find some before it's too late.


A Mentor

Today, I had a brief meeting with my new mentor, a senior staffer in my field. He is supposed to show me the ropes and help me feel a little less overwhelmed with the new trajectory that I seem to be taking on the Hill. My new job has opened my eyes to a whole world of possibility on the Hill and I haven’t quite figured out how/if it fits into my career and life plans.

I’ve been itching for a mentor since I first arrived on the Hill. I have had pseudo-mentors, established Hill contacts that have given me insight on how to get and keep a job on the Hill. But I've never had a mentor who could give advice specific to my job and tasks. I’m hopeful that my mentor will help me feel a bit more confident about my capability to excel in this field.

I will continue to seek other mentors on the Hill, specifically a minority female mentor. I am meeting many young female, minority staffers and we are all thirsty for a role model. Some one to support us as we seek to break the ranks in a White male-dominated Hill (unfortunately, that is still the case for both Members and staff). A role model who can relate to our concerns about pursuing a demanding career while also seeking to settle down and start a family. That’s the sort of role model I am looking for and I hope, eventually, I will find.