Friday, August 27, 2010

The Way We Were

It turns out the lyrics to David Bowie’s “Changes” don’t actually make much sense. Or if they do, they don’t make any sort of meaningful sense, which is unfortunate, really, because behind love, the subject of change is possibly the topic that lends itself best to verbal depth.

I’m notably bad at change. Not day-to-day change, like when you’re asked to work on a new project at the office or when you have to buy a different shampoo at CVS. I can dig that. But all those little day-to-day changes add up eventually, when you’re not looking, & the next time you take a glance back at your life, it’s largely unrecognizable from the way it used to be.

Much to my consternation, I’ve never been able to get a handle on not pining for days past. This is foolish, really, because the past has not always been good to me, & in the past, I wasn’t always good to myself. But it’s always easier to look back through a lens of nostalgia that longs for the good & funnels out the bad, reminding you only of the parts you miss most.

And sometimes it seems I miss everything.

It seems that when I’m faced with an impending & obvious change, I’m flooded with memories of things I didn’t even realize I missed – other things that have changed, that are long gone, that my brain didn’t even know I’d retained. I have a terrible memory for timelines & dates, for direct quotes & current events. But somehow, my memory is teeming with things I used to do & people I used to do them with, like a silent film that plays through my skull & taunts me: “Remember when?”

I miss first days of school, posing in front of the oak tree in my backyard for photos my mom insisted upon taking. I miss riding bikes & making tchotchkes out of clay in the unfinished bedroom of my best friend’s childhood home. I miss vacations to Hilton Head with my family, Thanksgivings at my grandparents’. I miss summers spent working at the local swimming pool, the free food & weekend parties that came with it. I miss being a performer, the long practices in the local dance studio or on our high school’s stage. I miss Friday night football games & midday pep rallies. I miss being a sorority girl, the hard-partying days spent at fraternity houses & outdoor keg parties. I miss working for college publications, the pace of the newsroom & the humor of the people in it. I miss spending weekends at the neighborhood bar, singing karaoke & eating cheese fries with half the town. I miss my first year in D.C., with five inarguable best friends, exploring a new city together & making our way.

And the people. Don’t even get me started on all the people.

But it's killing me. I want to be able to just look back fondly, to stop remembering & longing & wishing away the present – because I know that when this is gone, I’ll miss it, too. “Remember the last few months in DC?” I’ll ask myself, “Getting everything in & spending time with those people you never see anymore?” By then, it’ll just be more film to add to the reel. But sometimes I get so stuck on the past that it becomes nearly impossible for me to appreciate what’s happening now, to appreciate this before it’s gone, too.

I'm always shocked to realize: The film is never going to stop playing, is it? And in fact, it’s only going to get longer. Maybe parts will fade, be replaced by new scenes, but this is just how life works. There's no going back. I can review but I can't rewind.

How do you stop missing what was & start loving what is?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Had a Dream: The Perversion

It’s a nightmare of epic political proportions: Sarah Palin & Glenn Beck in the same place, speaking to thousands of Tea Partiers

It’s a nightmare of epic civil rights proportions, too: Their speech will happen on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, in the exact same place where the civil rights leader stood.

And it’s also a nightmare of D.C. proportions: Did you hear me? They’re speaking from the same place where MLK stood. The steps of the Lincoln Memorial. That means they'll be here. This weekend.

Basically, just so we’re all on the same page about how I feel, this is a nightmare – for the country, for the city, etc. But I’m toying with the idea of going anyway.

Yeah, you heard me. @BlakeTheMega & I – a black guy & a Jewish girl, the antithesis of the Tea Party’s target audience – are likely braving the Mall to watch this nightmare in action. What are we going to do there, you ask? Well, I might cry, for starters. And I’ll try not to trip anyone. And I’ll try not to talk to anyone for fear of whipping myself up into a political frenzy. And I will also delete all my Jo Dee Messina songs off of iTunes because she’s the featured performer at this freakshow. I wish I were joking about owning Jo Dee Messina songs, but I’m not.

Actually, I wish I were joking about any of this. But I'm not.

So far, more than 106,000 people have liked the event on Facebook, & the Washington Post is predicting more than 300,000 attendees at the rally, which I forgot to mention is called “Restoring Honor” – because usually, when I’m thinking about honor, Sarah Palin’s face is the first thing that comes to mind. And what better way to honor the memory & legacy of one of the nation's greatest advocates for peace & tolerance than by spewing hatred & intolerance in his name?

The only good news is that maybe – just maaaybe – the crowd won’t make it too far into our fair city, especially with Tea Party leaders instructing attendees not to use the Metro’s Green & Yellow lines & to limit any city time to Northwest DC, a.k.a. the safe part. Yeah, infer for yourself what they mean by this.

There will be so much to tell, of that I can be sure. Here’s hoping I’m not too distracted by devastation to notice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Some Other Beginning's End: My Big Announcement

Three years ago, I started this blog as an outlet for telling crazy stories about my new home & the many weird observations I made on my long Metro rides to & from the Glenmont stop. Fresh out of college, having just made a surprising switch from journalism to politics, I was embarking upon a huge life adventure in a city where I knew almost no one. It's been three years since then, & so much has changed.

I've tried writing this post more than a few times during the past two weeks. I've tried recapping the people I've met & the things I've learned from them. I've tried putting into words just how huge it was for me, who's perpetually homesick, to leave home & do something drastically, dramatically different than everything I'd prepared myself for. But I can't find the words, & it's disarming. The bottom line, I guess, in the simplest terms possible, is that it was entirely worth it, & that because of it, I'm someone new. I'm the same me, of course, but I'm also a completely new me. And I guess I don't know how to say it any better than that.

I didn't expect to fall in love with the place & the people, who kept me here longer than originally planned. But I never planned to stay here, either. I always knew this was a temporary locale, that I'd return to the Midwest - & probably to Ohio, though I can't expect most people to understand why I love such an economically depressed state. I've been waiting to go back, living a life here that I've always known would end with my heaving a combined sigh of relief & devastation as I pull my moving van over the state line.

And now? Is that time.

So here's the big announcement, which many of you already know: At the beginning of October, I'm moving back to Ohio.

It's a huge announcement, really, & there are a ton of unknowns. I don't have a job lined up, which means there'll be a mad scramble of sorts as soon as my feet hit the soil in the Buckeye State. I don't know what I'll be doing or where I'll be headed, & I'm keeping my options open - starting with Cleveland & Columbus, but with an eye on Dayton & Cincinnati & everywhere in between. I'm hoping to find something that will allow me to write, whether that means a writing-all-the-time-at-the-office gig or a simple 9-to-5 that gives me time to do some freelancing in my personal time. I'm frantically trying to make connections, seek advice, point myself in the right direction, whatever the heck that means.

And yes, the prospect of beginning again is terrifying. it's overwhelming, daunting, awful, every synonym under the sun. I can't fathom starting over, with no idea what comes next - unsure of my next job, my next city, my next set of friends. My next life. There's an impending sense of doom, like maybe everything is about to fall apart or implode, but at the same time, it's mixed with equal parts excitement about the possibilities.

I am 26 years old & totally lost, but I guess I'm not the only one. I don't know what I'm doing, & "scared as hell" doesn't begin to cover it. But here I go anyway. See you soon, Ohio.


*****
This post is part of Jewels of Elul, which celebrates the Jewish tradition to dedicate the 29 days of the month of Elul to growth and discovery in preparation for the coming high holy days. This year the program is benefiting Beit T'shuvah, a residential addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. You can subscribe to receive inspirational reflections from public figures each day of the month. You don’t have to be on the blog tour to write a blog post on “The Art of Beginning... Again”. We invite everyone to post this month (August 11th - September 8th) with Jewels of Elul to grow and learn.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stuff Tourists Like, Part IV

It's that time again! Time for another look at tourists' favorite things to see & do - &, especially, their favorite ways to dress - while vacationing:
  1. Matchy-matchy outfits: There was a time in my life when I envied families who wore his-&-hers-&-all-of- theirs tees, a gaggle of neon green "Jones Family Reunion!" shirts weaving their way through Disney World. In retrospect, I think what I actually wanted was siblings, not a uniform that I identified me as having them. I thought this was one of those fads that ended in the '90s, just like neon green died, but lately I've seen a frightening number of similarly clad families near the National Zoo. And then there's this couple, who wasn't at the zoo but walking down U Street, which means they were likely not tourists at all, which gives them even less of an excuse to be dressed like this.


  2. Fanny packs: Including this one just feels weak. It's a total gimme. Tourists adore fanny packs, obviously. I don't even think I need to say much else, as this is self-explanatory: Fanny packs are convenient, sure, just like tool belts. They keep your most vital stuff (maps! sunscreen! money clip!) nearby so you can reach it easily, without rifling through an entire bag's worth of stuff. You know what else is similarly convenient? Tool belts. But you don't see people wearing tool belts around the city.
     
I often wonder what would happen if one of the people I surreptitiously photographed discovered his or her photo on my blog. Who would feel more terrible: me, for being unabashedly judgmental, or them, for committing such grievous fashion faux pas?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home is Where the Art Is

Remember how I told you I like food carts? And the Ohio State Fair? It follows, then, that I also really like street fairs & any kind of craft show that takes place outdoors, where I can peruse the booths & probably drink lemonade. For examples, please see Oktoberfest & Crafty Bastards.

Today, my pal Rebecca set up shop at a small arts & crafts show out in Silver Spring. Because I love Rebecca just as much as I love small arts & crafts shows, a friend & I made the 30-minute ride out to the 'burbs to check out her wares & keep her company. Rebecca sells jewelry at Scarlet Begonia Jewels, but what's displayed there isn't even half of the awesomosity she's got stockpiled. Her stuff is pretty & fun & whimsical (for example, please see photos to the right & at the bottom of this post), & I am eternally jealous of but also very impressed by her mad skills. So for starters, I encourage you to go spend a bit of your next paycheck on something pretty from her Etsy store.

And secondly, seeing all of Rebecca's jewelry on display at the Silver Spring show (where she was quite popular with customers, by the way!) reminded me just how much I miss having a creative outlet. I used to be  quite the crafter - I collaged scrapbooks & cards, I painted pottery, I even made a few pieces of (not exactly lovely) jewelry (except for this, which was actually sort of cool). But when I got to DC, my outlet dried up. I became so busy - busy working, busy socializing, & did I mention busy working? - that I gave up on that side of myself almost completely. No time to breathe, much less to craft. The fact that there's no craft store in the District didn't help much, either.

One of the goals listed on my 101 in 1,001 List  is to open an Etsy shop - but of what? Wearing one of Rebecca's steampunk-eque necklaces as a reminder, I'm committing myself to rediscovering my excitement about art & creating it. I don't really know what that means, I guess. What will I do? And will it be any good? I have no idea. But I know that I feel better when my hands are busy doing more than just Facebooking.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Lobstermobile Cometh. Yuck/Yum?

I love a street vendor as much as the next girl. In fact, I love street vendors with the combined love of both a city dweller & a tourist: As a city dweller, I find them convenient & delicious; as a small-town transplant, I find them exciting & cosmopolitan, in that dirty, "I hope this gyro doesn't give me botulism" kind of way. But we've come a long way since the days when gyro stands & hot dog joints dominated the street-side scene. These days, it's all about trendy food carts: in Portland, fine French cuisine is served from within a vintage schoolbus; in LA, popular local chefs serve $10 meals from a truck to raise money for Carts for a Cause; and the craze is even big in Columbus, the capital of my home state, where you can stop by one of many popular taco trucks or be bold & try Japanese crepes instead.

Photo purloined from Washington City Paper
Frankly (hot dog pun intended), the District of Columbia's not doing so wildly well with its meager & difficult-to-locate variety of food carts, which have received only mild hype. Apparently there's a Bulgogi cart, which serves Korean fare, & the Fojol Bros. Indian food cart is a staple at street fairs. Sweetgreen’s bright green van sells “sweetflow” (a really menstrual name for its froyo) across the town like an adult ice cream truck, & apparently Baja Fresh even serves their sub-par faux-Mexican on the go. One problem: I never see these trucks. Like, ever. And I know I don’t go out a lot, but it’s not like I’m (usually) a hermit. Where are the food trucks & why aren’t they parked in places where people want to be eating? I certainly do that enough.

Considering DC’s sorta-lame food cart track record, I was surprised to see so much excitement about today’s big debut: the lobster truck. That’s right, NYC's Red Hook Lobster Pound has brought Maine lobsters to the District's streets, & the enthusiasm has been quite overwhelming. Blogger The D.C. Universe waited two hours for a simple Connecticut roll; @LobsterTruckDC says they served more than 400 rolls today before closing at 3:30. With more than 50 people reportedly lined up at a time in Farragut for $15 mobile seafood - even in 90-degree heat - I suspect a lot of bummed, sweaty lobster-seekers missed out.

Here’s my beef (these hot dog segues just keep coming): D.C. is not particularly coastal. Lobsters aren’t raised anywhere within the District, to the best of my limited knowledge, & Maryland is famous for those other clawed crustaceans. This lobster's apparently being trucked in from the Pine Tree State, but... that's a long way away, yo. And do I want my lobster (if I want my lobster at all) taking an hours-upon-hours-long road trip from up North only to be dished out from a hot, sticky vehicle that's baking in the DC sun? Lobster just seems like a meat better served in... well, like, a real restaurant.

I'm skeptical, but I’ll try one. When the lines are shorter. But until then, the Ohio State Fair aficionado in me doesn’t require much of my food carts. Just fry me up a good old-fashioned funnel cake, OK?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All Around the Town

You can find me in two different places today, one writing & one crafting. Hope you'll check them out!
  • I wrote a review of Ulah Bistro, my favorite cheap-eats brunch spot, on Capitol Bites. This newly established food blog, run by District foodies Elyse & Elliot, focuses on dining regularly & inexpensively in the District.
  • Four bracelets I made are up for auction on my friend Jaclyn's jewelry blog as part of her two-week fundraiser in honor of her brother Joey's 21st birthday. All money raised will benefit Joey's school for students with autism.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Return to Sender

Just under a year ago , I lost my wallet – and the driver’s license, credit cards, & $80 in cash inside it – when I left it on the seat of a city bus. After so much crying & wigging that I had to take a personal day off work to recover (and to try to get my finances in order) I was shocked to receive a call from a Days Inn employee who said he had my wallet – & who gave it back to me with all its contents still intact. Good Samaritans, it turns out, do exist.

Since then, thankful for the good fortune the universe bestowed upon me, I’ve returned two renegade driver’s licenses and one dropped credit card through the power of WhitePages.com and Facebook.

And apparently I’ve got the best karma – or luck – in the world. On my flight home out of Boston last Monday, I managed to misplace my license somewhere between security & boarding. How? Beats me. Where? If I knew, it wouldn’t be lost. I returned home chagrined & annoyed & quite afraid I’d also somehow misplace my passport (which, I should note, contains zero stamps, despite one very cosmopolitan business trip to Toronto).

Yesterday, I got a karmic favor. The text from my mom read, "Envelope came in the mail, I think it's your license." And indeed it was.

I guess I don't know why I'm so shocked that someone would do it - would see my license lying on the ground at Logan International Airport & think it was worth 44 cents & the cost of an envelope to get it back to me. I'd do that; I've done that, & more. But somehow, when the universe pulls through for me like this, I'm always astounded all over again that good people exist. Despite news reports that constantly depict heinous acts of abuse & terror & neglect & violence, there are tons & tons of people out there who are kind enough to put my driver's license back in the mail for me. It's a little thing. But you know what they say about the little things.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful but Birthday Cupcakes Are So Delightful

When it looks like this outside...


...it's particularly nice when it looks like this inside.


Many thanks to my boss for eight reasons to be happy on an extraordinarily stormy birthday: chocolate-chocolate, vanilla-chocolate, strawberry, carrot cake, red velvet, something unidentifiably fruity, & two very delicious instances of lemon-blueberry. They've made a Baked & Wired believer outta this newly 26-year-old.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

26 Things I've Learned by Age 26

In a few hours, I am 26. I'm not nearly as excited about it as I've been about past birthdays, though I can't pinpoint why - maybe because I've now reached that dreaded "late 20s" period, or maybe because there are a lot of (yet-to-be-announced) changes on my horizon, or maybe because in adulthood, birthdays just become less exciting, period.

But I've been thinking a lot lately about 26. What have I learned by 26? Surely I've got stories to tell & things to say & lessons to impart. So what are they? Inspired by my boy @BlakeTheMega over at Food for Thought, here are just a few. Twenty-six of them, to be exact:
  1. When you don't trust yourself to verbalize your feelings, write it down. It shows that you care, that you've put thought into it, & maybe that you were big into signing yearbooks in high school. Two of these, at least, are good.

  2. If you would be forgiven, be forgiving.

  3. Moms don't, in fact, know everything (sorry, Mom). But they know a whole heckuva lot, about everything from household chores to current events, so file away all your mom's knowledge for future usage.

  4. Skills in life worth having include the abilities to: write a sincere thank-you note, leave a succinct voicemail, & deliver a eulogy that is both properly somber & appropriately humorous.

  5. Being brave enough to love is one of the scariest things on the goddamn planet. Everything about loving is scary - most notably, the opportunity to get hurt. But I’d rather have my heart broken a million times over, by friends & lovers & enemies & strangers, than have never cared enough to let it happen.

  6. Freaking out is a fact of life, but it doesn't have to rule your (my) life. When I think about it now, I can remember how I felt when freaking out, but I can rarely remember what it was actually about. Boss was yelling, plane was delayed, friend was angry? Rarely are any of these blips big enough to warrant freakage. If no one will care about it in a month, it's not worth worrying about now.

  7. Things will always, always get better. Even if they get a whole lot worse first.

  8. For every one of life's little problems or major calamities, there is an episode of "Dawson's Creek" to dispense appropriately sage advice. Sleeping with your high school English teacher? Dad in jail for trafficking? Drunkenly stumble off a pier & drown? There's an ep for that.

  9. Nothing is more relaxing or refreshing than spending time alone - particularly at the movie theatre.

  10. Our lives are not meant to be the same. She may have a hot husband & he may have a great job & they may have gotten an adorable puppy or a beautiful new house - but as enviable as all of these things are, it's extraordinarily likely that there are quite a few aspects of your life that are worth envying, too. And someone is probably envying them right now.

  11. People you've never met can be your strongest supporters, your biggest fans, & yes, the creepiest motherfuckers you've never met. (Hi, Twitter.)

  12. I am not my hair or my weight or my eyeliner. I am my laugh & my sense of humor & my writing skills.

  13. We may be defined by the things we do, but there's wiggle room. You do not need to be defined by the things you did when you were 18 or by the way that insipid small-town people feel about those things.

  14. Live for the living.

  15. Dating sucks. If you'd rather spend time with people you know you like - you know, your friends - that's OK, too. Yes, you should put in an effort not to be closed off to the world & to do some networking, but no, you do not need to go speed-dating or be on OKCupid or beg your friends to set you up if you just don't effing feel like it.

  16. In kindergarten, I asked my mom if I had to like everyone. "No," she told me, "But you have to be kind to everyone."

  17. Not everyone is the friend you want them to be. Find better ones & keep them instead.

  18. There may come a point in your life when you're too old or too full to seek out new music or get hooked on new television shows. Embrace your newly retro tastes.

  19. Be courageous. But don't be so intent on being courageous that you make decisions that fly in the face of your gut instincts.

  20. There's no shame in having bad taste sometimes, as long as you have good taste sometimes, too. The former includes watching "Home Alone" on repeat in June & making mac & cheese with sriracha for dinner; the latter includes... well, I guess I'm not there yet.

  21. Tell the people you love that you love them, or at least how much you value them. Even when you're mad at them & want to hang up the phone or punch them in the face. And even if you do those things, make sure they know how much you value them. But maybe wait a few days & throw an apology or 20 in between.

  22. Traveling to visit new places is not as important as traveling to visit old friends.

  23. Just because it's right for you right now doesn't mean it'll be right for you forever. Something, someone or someplace you once loved may not fit the bill anymore. And that's OK. Something/someone/someplace else will - but only if you let it.

  24. Even the people who know you the best don't know you as well as you know yourself.

  25. It's seriously OK to not like dogs & babies. But please refer to #23 & know that someday you might want a dog &/or a baby, or multiples of each/either.

  26. Love yourself, believe in yourself, & give yourself permission to listen to yourself.
And trust me on the sunscreen.
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