Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Here's to the Night

I just took my last late-night walk home from Rachel's apartment in Adam's Morgan to mine in Woodley Park. Not a big deal, I know; just a walk, I know. Ease up on the misty-watercolored-memories thing, Kate. I know.

Obamarama on Kalorama
But I decided to walk instead of wait for the bus so that I could take a conscious walk down memory lane, a mental tour of times past before my memories of D.C. are relegated to whatever I can conjure up without visual cues. I was almost overwhelmed by the volume of things I remembered as I made my way down 18th Street, a place I'd hardly say I frequent & would rarely say I like. But they came easily.

There was Bobby Lew's, where my friends & I had a dance party upstairs to a lot of Rob Thomas-esque tunes - but where, another time, the bartenders gave away my debit card to someone who wasn't me. And then Soussi, where we went for hookah one freezing night but had to sit outside because there was no space available elsewhere. The townhouse at the corner of 18th & Kalorama, where my friend Ben used to host hopeful liberal parties in those pre-Obama days.

Late night at Amsterdam
Next block, the tennis courts where Jill & I waited to play but gave up after 45 minutes to go get ice cream instead, from the Maggie Moo's that closed down just this month. "We look like we just worked out," she rationalized. Next to it is the Marie Reed Community Center, where we wandered through the Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair on a too-hot-to-be-outside day so Rachel could buy herself a new purse to replace one that had fallen to bits.

Late-night staple Amersterdam Falafel, where a group of us celebrated before a few friends left the District last summer, sharing an after-party meal that consisted of far too many french fries dipped in peanut sauce. The Tibet Shop, where Micaela & I shopped for African beads & other foreign treasures before she left for Rwanda. Grand Central, the site of a crowded Campus Progress fundraiser packed to the gills with young liberals clamoring for free cocktails.

Dancing at Bos
I passed The Reef, where I met other DC bloggers for the first time at an awkward rooftop happy hour. The Leaky Faucet, which we dubbed "The Sticky Bar" after a birthday party that found all of our shoes practically glued to the floor. Bossa, where Rachel's college friend bounces & sometimes waives our cover fee, where my single friends & I celebrated New Year's 2009 after all the couples left our party. Weird hippie brunch spot Asylum, birthplace of the Great DC Brunch Tour. Caliyogurt, home of the best grapefruit froyo in the land & more than a few post-hang-out dessert adventures.

There's more: Over to the right, just down Calvert, there's Mixtec, of the tequila-heavy mango margaritas & total lack of air conditioning. Pasta Mia, the only food I've ever had that's worth a two-hour wait. The old Blockbuster, where we couldn't find "The Sandlot," & Adam's Mill, where we enjoyed many a classy Sunday Night special of chili dogs & tater tots. And so on & so on, all the way home.

Are you bored yet? I'm sure I've lost most of you by now, rattling off places & people you're unfamiliar with, just listing my memories like they're episodes of TV shows you probably haven't seen. I expect that many of these memories will fade with time, & that the next time I'm in town, I'll discover that many of these places have been replaced with new ones, ones that hold no meaning for me.

But walking down 18th Street tonight, I couldn't help but feel like each place lit up as I walked past it, just like those big, interactive maps at science museums that help kids identify bones or organs in the body, or something. Each place lit up & reminded me of all the things I've done, a grimy neighborhood full of colorful memories.

This place has been good to me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Double Rainbows by the Dozen

Tonight looked like this:


Which puffed up into these:

Which @missallisong & I made into these:

 Which culminated in this...

...in my stomach.

Unfortunately, none of my photos really indicate how beautiful the cupcakes' insides were. Or how delicious they were. But they looked a little bit like The Dainty Squid's, albeit with a less-vibrant purple. Our purple was a little muddy but, you know, still really delicious. I brought five home in a shoebox but gave one to my cab driver along the way. He, too, agreed on the deliciousness factor.

In baking these - OK, co-baking them, really - I checked something else off my 101 in 1,001 List. Did I mention that they were beautiful & delicious? These last D.C. days sure are full of win.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee Shop 'Til You Drop

In my past life (that is to say, my previously employed life), whenever I walked into a coffee shop & saw the tables filled with folks on laptops, I always wondered, "Don't these people have jobs?!" The answer, I can now report back to you, is no. We don't.

I love working from coffee shops. During Snowpocalypse, I was so excited to work from a coffee shop (& to have human interaction after being snowed in for a week) that I trudged to Open City, laptop in arm, to sip chai lattes & live the coffee-shop-as-office life. Now that I'm (f)unemployed, I'm capitalizing on the, um, opportunity to patronize Starbucks during normal business hours.

A few thoughts on hanging out in coffee shops: 
  • I'm trying to stick to a normal schedule, so I've been leaving my apartment around 10a.m. or so, & not coming back until 5p.m. or later. And though $5 is a cheap price to pay for office space, it seems eight hours is a liiiittle too long to spend in Starbucks.
  • Comfy armchairs may look comfortable, but don't be fooled. They're basically designed to discourage folks like me from loitering too long after our lattes are finished. Also, I may have developed carpal tunnel from sitting Indian-style & holding my wrists vertical to type at a too-tall table.
  • Inappropriate behavior abounds:
    • People who don't wear headphones when there's sound coming from their computers in public are the worst kind of people. I'm looking at you, Dude Playing a Computer Game With an Autotuned '90s Theme Song.
    • While coffee shops can make for quaint, intimate date spots, they're not the appropriate place for boisterous, not-so-witty banter & the kind of arm-smacking, shoulder-punching "flirting" that most of us mastered in the fourth grade.
    • If you have a voice like Leslie Mann, you should not talk. Ever. But especially not in quiet coffee shops. Leslie Mann has a number of admirable physical qualities, but the sound of her voice is not one of them. My ears, they bleed.
Suddenly, I'm struck with a thought of mind-blowingly simple proportions: I have become one of those people who blogs from coffee shops. Temporary position or not, mission accomplished.

A D.C. Rant for the Road

Yesterday's post was a little emo, to be sure - but of course, I couldn't leave this city in good conscience if I didn't also leave with a few lingering rants. Because my brain is still mush, I'm mostly thinking in list form, but that's A-OK because bullet points are the best way to stage a countdown - in this case, to my number-one city-related pet peeve.

I present you: The Top Five Things I Won't Miss About the District of Columbia
  1. Too-hot-to-breathe summers. It's almost October, yet I still feel like I'm suffocating from the waist down any time I wear pants outdoors, & my . The South is not my friend.

  2. City vermin, i.e. rats (I swear I saw one the size of a cat the other night) & roaches (uh, remember this? And then THIS? I'm twitching just thinking about them.)

  3. The bad kind of tourists. Like the "Mommy Patriots" I got stuck between on a Metro ride last week. As if the phrase "Mommy Patriots" weren't bad enough, they had to go & make these shirts, which I'm sure they must've thought were quite clever:

    Come rallyin' day, though, I bet they felt a lot less clever about choosing light blue...

  4. Grocery shopping. You suburban folk would be appalled if you had to get yer foodstuffs the way we do here in the city. The closest supermarkets are one mile in either direction, which means loading my groceries upon my body like a pack mule as I bus home. A very sore, sweaty, whiny pack mule. My achin' back is cryin' out for a four-door sedan & a roomy trunk.
And finally, the number one thing I won't miss about our nation's capital....
  1. Escalefters. I still hate you, escalefters, & that's all there is to it. After three years of your left-standing bullshiz, I don't even have any words left for you.

    Wait! Don't go! I found some more words: If you are standing on the right but balancing a stroller on the left, you still count as an escalefter. In fact, I'd wager to say that you count double because you're less likely to move when I say "excuse me." Or maybe I won't even say "excuse me" because, you know, I actually am a nice person - & what if there's a baby in there, precariously balancing on the left as you try to He-Man its stroller up a mechanical hill? I'm not about to risk any babies' lives here, so I'll wait. But that doesn't mean I won't have a silent temper tantrum about it behind your back the whole time & then zoom past you like Michael Phelps in the final lap as soon as the escalator meets the pavement. And then? I'll blog about you, too. Because my ire knows no bounds.
This list could probably be a whole lot longer. I didn't even include, for example, the crazies who've threatened to kill me while I tried to enjoy my public transportation experience. For that matter, I didn't even include public transportation. But I'm trying to keep it upbeat, all right? And five is a concise, not-too-much-complaining number, lest you think I'm all rant & no rave.

Anyway, I'll probably post a list soon of things I will miss. And it'll be longer, & much less whinier. But it'll probably also feel at least marginally less satisfying. So there.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Goodbye to Everything That I Knew

    Twelve days.

    That's less time than Lindsay Lohan spent in jail.

    And that's how long I have left in DC.

    My brain is mush, basically. I have nothing funny to say. But I have nothing devastatingly sober to say, either. I'm just thinking - about what I'll miss, what I won't, what I've learned, what I'm leaving. What I'm returning to, what might come next, what could go wrong, what I hope goes right. It's like my mind is on constant spin cycle, but everything's still all wet & lumped together.

    Twelve days left to fit it all in.

    I'm applying for jobs, of course, but I'm also trying to live. I'm ticking things off my 101 in 1,001 List before I go, like visiting Eastern Market & trying 10 new beers & doing some freelance work. And though there are a million things I'd like to do before I go, my remaining days are already booked with lunches & dinners with friends, with activities like trivia nights & cupcake-baking, plus the necessary evils of packing, of selling things on Craigslist, of figuring out how on earth I'll transport my bike back to Ohio - & leaving time in between for tears over packing tape & cardboard boxes, of course.

    Twelve days left until the end of this chapter.

    "It's been a good adventure," my mom says. But it's not just an adventure: It's my life. After three years here, there's nothing else I know much of except these people & this place. It was my decision to go, & I can't regret it. But packing my bags & driving away from this city is about to be one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    The Case for a Kindle

    An overview of unemployment: I've applied for about 10 jobs this week, so I'm taking a Friday break before Yom Kippur is upon us. And some break it is: I'm packing for The Big Move, which deserves capital letters, while watching "The Departed" in an effort to knock off all the Best Picture films of the past 20 years (part of my 101 in 1001 List). It's almost 2pm, but I'm still wearing flannel pants - no excuses - & eating leftover pizza & sneezing up a storm because packing is an allergen.

    I started by packing up my books, playing a little game of Tetris to get them to fit nicely inside the boxes I filched from my apartment's receiving room. I successfully fit all but three of my books into the biggest of the boxes, which now weighs as much as a small horse. Carefully hoisting it off of my bed, I turned to carry it into our spare bedroom; ten seconds into the process, the result is this:


    Dear Amazon: Don't tell my librarian mother, but I think I'm the poster child for needing a Kindle. What say you?

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    No Me Gusto

    Spotted out the window of my bus on September 11th:


    I wish we could just deport the bigots instead. Who's with me?

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Better Late Than Never: Four Simple Goals


    A month ago today, the fantastically creative Elsie of A Beautiful Mess wrote up her "Four Simple Goals" for the remainder of 2010: four ways to make her life richer & happier before the year ends. Since then, dozens of bloggers throughout the interwebz have posted four simple goals of their own, & each one has inspired me just a little bit more than the last. After a refreshing vacation week in NYC & Philly with my best friend, I've come up with a few goals of my own to start off the Jewish new year of 5771 & this new (unemployed) phase of my life. So with a little bit of thought & a lot of commitment, I present you with my four simple goals for the last three & a half months of 2010.
    1. Embrace disconnectivity.
      My iPhone is an extension of my arm. It plugs in behind my bed & rests just next to my pillow at night. It's the last thing I see before I fall asleep & the first thing I head to when I wake up. I have zero unread emails. I've tweeted nearly 18,800 times & have 1,200+ Facebook friends. The other day, I stumbled upon an e-card (ironic or apropos?) that read, "Enough with the iPhone. It doesn't love you back (there's no app for that)." Indeed, I fear I've been ignoring face-to-face interaction in favor of thumbs-to-screen interaction, foregoing human connections in favor of online connectivity. I think it's time to take a break, even if it's small steps: not bringing my phone with me to the bathroom (TMI? You're welcome), plugging it in across the room overnight, not checking it when I'm mid-conversation. It's the little things, right?

    2. Make healthier choices.
      September has been quite a month - of eating. Just 12 days in, I have already consumed so much deliciously fattening food. But the result of that? Well, it's self-explanatory. And it's not just that: I'm simply not feeling my best, & I want to pay attention to what my body needs. It's the only one I've got, y'know? It would be easy, upon my return to the Midwest, to indulge in the fast food & chain restaurants that run so rampant, but I can't let myself take that path. I'm not saying I need to lose a billion pounds or start barfing up pizza or running marathons, but it's time to start treating myself a little better, even if it just means choosing yogurt & granola at brunch sometimes over French toast & bacon. Eat better, eat less, move more - feel better.

    3. Indulge in hobbies.
      My time will surely be filled with job-hunting, it's true, but all work & no play has the all-too-real potential to make Kate both a dull & a depressed girl. Everyone needs a hobby or two, right? I want to knock off a few things on my 101 in 1,001 List. Maybe I'll take a (cheap) pottery class or take up running (again) or bake something from Love & Olive Oil's delicious-looking recipes. Maybe I'll teach myself a song on my guitar (finally) or attempt to knit. Indulge in my creative side, make some jewelry, start an Etsy shop? So many options. I don't need to do them all, of course, but I'd like to give some new things a try - & when better than now, when spare time abounds?

    4. Believe I can - & will - succeed.
      Unemployment is terrifying. Like, super-duper, insanely scary, particularly the not-having-health-insurance part. I am prone to moping, & I'm sure it will be tempting to sit around & lament my newfound joblessness. But I'm too good for that, a fact I need to bear in mind as I face this new phase of my life. It's time to figure out not just what I need but what I want, to find something that will both satisfy me & support me. This means not listening to everyone else, not fearing the future, & not settling for something I know isn't right for me. And trusting the process.
    What do you want to do before the year ends? 

      Thursday, September 2, 2010

      D.C. 2010: The Perfect Storm(s)

      The National Weather Service sends me approximately 30 (largely useless) email alerts a day, most of which I ignore: Heat Advisory! Flood Warning! Hurricane Watch!

      Wait, what? I don’t typically pay much attention to the first two, except to wear dresses on hot days & pack an umbrella on rainy ones. But that third warning appeared in my inbox today, quickly followed by an email from my landlords about precautionary measures to take in case Hurricane Earl touches down & tears the District to shreds (my wording, not theirs).

      I am from Ohio, which means that never have I ever even thought about hurricanes in my vicinity, much less received an email telling me to expect one. Lake Erie, while dirty & cold, does not exactly produce powerful, spiraling storms.

      My thought process on hurricanes goes something like this: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

      But today’s Earl Watch email also got me thinking about the year in weather. Mother Nature decided to play a lot of practical jokes on the District of Columbia in 2010. What do you think her to-do list for the District looked like? Based on the eight months & two days we've already been through, I came up with the following:

      You know what else should have made the list? The breaking news of bull sharks in the Potomac. EARTHQUAKES & SHARKS (& HURRICANES). This city is a Brandtson song.

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Grey Matter: Bill, Barack & Me

      I have a tragedy to announce: The other day I discovered not one, not two, but, like, seventy-billion grey hairs lurking within my uncolored roots. You may recall that I recently turned 26 years old, & in case you're not sure, yes, 26 is too young to go grey.

      I blame the District of Columbia.

      At least I'm in good company. In 1993, fewer than 100 days into his tenure as Commander-in-Chief, the LA Times described President Bill Clinton as "a premature and unabashed silver fox." Observe the change:

      Dramatic, no? "But Kate!" you're countering. "That's just the regular aging process! Dudes go grey!" And I concede that point. After all, Old Bill was in office for eight (wonderful, blessed) years, giving him plenty of time to get his grey on.

      But how about this the new guy? In 2008, Senator Barack Obama was a young whippersnapper on the verge of greatness - &, as it turns out, on the verge of greyness. At an Indiana campaign stop that spring, the pre-Pres told a group of old folks, "Seniors, listen up. I'm getting grey hair myself." And how!

      So what gives, D.C.? President Clinton blamed his grey on nature. President Obama has blamed it on having teenage daughters. I, of course, am neither aged nor parental - & OK, OK, I'm not running a country, either (guess they call it the White House for a reason!). But I still blame the capital - with its early mornings & late nights & fast-paced jobs & all of the checking email in bed & taking conference calls on the go - for the loss of my locks' lustre.

      Taking all of this into careful consideration, I wonder whether I should consider myself folically fortunate to be on my way out of the District. I've been here for three years now, & the grey is slowly creeping in, especially around my right temple. Who knows what I'd look like in another three years if I stuck around?

      "Silver fox" my behind. I shudder to think.
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