Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chronicles of a Resident Mover

There may be no greater responsibility for an unemployed friend than to be the resident mover. On the occasion that you come across the week-day move, when all the normal friends are at "work," the jobless friend sure as hell better be there. She just has to be. The obligation is not suggested of the friend--oh, no--but the perk that came with the package of becoming jobless in the first place. It's why I did it. Why I left my job, essentially. To help a friend move ... and more. I did it to have more time for friends, for people who need me or could need me, and for myself who needed me a little, too. I got legitimate work done this morning and I'll do a bit more tonight, but today--today--I could flex my bulging mascles and make a serious dent on the work someone may have had to do alone. It's not all for the other person, either--for me, manual labor is very therapeutic. And I also get a kick out of imagining that we're playing hooky or something and I've just corrupted my friend against the corruptible corporate workosphere. Ha HA! I'm just kidding...I don't really know what that means. All I mean to say is that I enjoy it--helping someone move--for exactly the reason I intended to.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meetings in Random Places

I was meeting with my tax guy at an undisclosed, central location off of one of the metro stops in suburbia Virgina today when I thought of the strange meetings that must happen all over the city, just like this. People who must meet people, things to discuss over the course of a coffee or lunch, and how much a person's world could expand by taking a more outgoing approach to life. To network, in essence. I'm not naturally one of those people who networks because it's good for the career. I think of the idea of a random meeting with a person I barely know and wonder how low my life has sunk so low as to bring me to this point in my life. You don't have to agree with me. I don't agree with me, most of the time. But you have to wonder if adapting to a world that is a piece of bologna, when you know better, is really the only option a person has. At the moment, I like new conversations. But I didn't. And I wonder if I'm a sell-out or becoming more normal.

I haven't written a lot lately because I've been busy. Not just busy, but overworked, though not in the clear-cut literal sense that you expect from the word "worked." In any case, thanks for still reading this nonsense, if you are still reading it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The boomerang: Dangerous Weapon, Harmless Plaything or Oracle of the Future?



An afternoon with the ol' boomerang yesterday... the heat is unbearable and I refuse to leave the shade until the last minute. One throw, that's it, I'm too hot for this crap. But the boomerang has the power of the potato chip: I can't resist compulsive tendencies after the first bite. My objective: to throw with considerable force 45 degrees into the wind at perfect gradient, then stand still and wait for the glorious moment when it soars right back into my gentle, loving hands, like magic, like the world has meaning and order and symmetry.

Fucking thing never soared back. Alas, life is chaos and destiny is a cruel joke. In the park - as in life - we have no way of knowing what we're going to get when we let go of the boomerang, what plans it has in store, whether this chiseled weapon will return out of love or with the intent to slice off our head. In actuality, it has no intent at all. It's an inanimate object made of wood. Instead, one is forced to ask: Did I intend to slice off my head, deep down inside? I'm embarrassed to say that I kind of feared the boomerang in the past, like my future would be revealed if I touched it or something - I mean, there's quite a bit of potential meaning for a piece of wood that's thrown high in the air, only to return! No crystal balls this time, but I did learn one truth: Some things just won't come back full circle, even if you think you want them to.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alone Again

JBO came back last Sunday - he had been gone for a month - but he left again today, leaving me alone for another 3 weeks. I wonder what I'll do with my time, this time, since something tells me I won't go through the hours of TV and bad chick-flicks again. I'm different. I've changed. I still have a few big tasks to attend to, actually. And my little brother is coming to D.C. next week for his first big trip out of the small town where we were born. Still, three weeks is plenty of time for... life to happen, I guess. Look at all the living that's happened since I went to Buenos Aires in April. And in three-week increments, coincidently. July 15th... it's a lot to look forward to.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fridays Make Me Want to Watch a Movie

I'm guessing that many of you out there have to find a pretty darn good reason to say you've had it with this crazy week, you're spent, it was fun and all... but see ya, I'm heading home to watch a movie. I, of course, without boss or coworkers to answer to, may do so if I so please. After all, I was a champ this week. I got some serious shit done, and so much in fact that my assistant (iPhone) says he can cancel my appointments for the rest of the day. That means I get to lay around and watch a movie this afternoon, guilt-free, in my underwear, thankyouverymuch.

Having a flexible schedule is the custard-cream filling of any freelance existence, and the reason we put up with the epochs of poverty and blows to our fragile self-esteem. In my ex-job, I remember spending hours just staring at my computer, too fried to even move or decide what to do next. I don't know if it's the field I used to work in, a phenomenon of the nonprofit world, or a hiring stipulation of my then-company to work to the point of delirium, but I did it. And so did my friends. We could be found in the building until 7, 8pm... which is to say we were either working too hard or taking too long to get things done.

I can admit that now, in retrospect, because there is a crucial part of understanding personal productivity that comes with working your own gigs on your own schedule: Time is money. No, actually, it's something else: It's easy to do what you love. Or wait, I think it's more that: Many full-timers perform nonsense to fill certain 8-hour days, work like maniacs until midnight on others, and still can't take a goddamn afternoon off once in a while just because they feel like it.

Also, oxygen and sunlight are pretty nice things to have. My health collapsed at one point last year, and I had horrible back pain, headaches, I slept a lot during the weekends, called in sick, and experienced some depression, I think. Nothing was happening in the rest of my life--my life was work. A chiropractor informed me I spent too much time looking at my computer which was just a hair to the right. He gave me a shot of steroids and a prescription for more activity during the day, especially outdoors. Since I needed to be at my desk in case a supervisor came by ("Where were yooou at?" they'd say, with an accusing smile), I didn't take the daily walks I should have and things got worse.

I recently learned that lower-class monkeys who were given the option of high-fat foods overindulged while the leaders, despite being given the same choices, took the healthy, low-calorie snacks. Scientists believed this was a sign of stress eating, since the lower-class monkeys often had to submit to the whims of these rulers, and give up their cozy patch of grass or food on demand. There were no other variables to explain the different eating habits. Just that stress had pushed them to an eating disorder.

I went to see an acupuncturist who undid the damage of the steroid shot and restated that if I didn't get daily activity and fresh air, that I was the one to blame, I had to make the time, and to just do it already. So near the end, I started going for tea, like, 5 times a day and went to the gym at lunch. Telling my boss I had gone for a "walk" was out of the question, but tea and even the gym were things that other workers were doing, so I could do them, too... kind of like the way I've heard people smoke for the guilt-free outdoor breaks.

The kicker is, I went back to work so energized that I was unbelievably productive, and I got out of there at a more reasonable hour as each day went by. So let's see: I was taking breaks during the day, I was leaving work "early"-er than before though still full-time, and I was healthy, happy, and not only finishing my work but coming up with new ideas. Every reason for a boss to hate my guts. If I was not working the same amount or more hours than my boss did, than it was easy to believe that I was not "working hard." I guess this was probably like those monkeys asking for their patch of grass back because they need grass too, you know.

Which brings me to the problem here: Guilt. Worker's guilt runs rampant, it's serious, and it needs to be acknowledged for what it is: Unwarranted, toxic and a contradiction in terms. If you work hard and find a little balance in your life and you become even better at your job, it seems crazy that you should feel bad about it. And you probably don't... Unless someone is telling you should be.

Now, when I feel guilty, it's because I'm slacking, I know it, and I deserve it. Because I say so. So I'll watch a movie this afternoon... and I hope you can, one day, too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lobster Rolls - Tackle Box

When I first learned about Tackle Box, the new (and “first”) lobster shack in D.C. and sister business to neighbor Hook, I remembered my time in Maine two summers ago and my daily trips for lobster rolls. I was there for a week long film workshop and met a girl from Mexico City, who then joined me on any excuse to leave campus daily, even if it meant forgoing our free lunch. We found a convenience store down a two-lane highway close to town, and there on the other side of the parking lot was a little wooden structure no bigger than two parking spots with a big sign that said, “Lobster Rolls!”

Neither one of us had eaten a lobster rolls before but somehow we instinctively knew this was heaven. More a hotdog than, say, a round dinner roll, the bread looks like a slice of white bread specially baked as if it had been folded in half and sealed at the bottom, like a hotdog bun. It’s then stuffed with large chunks of white lobster tail that have been mixed with a light mayonnaise dressing and eaten as is. The filing was warm and the bun was perfectly toasty, a feat that amazed us, as it seemed that each had just been cooked the minute we arrived.

Lobster is plentiful in the area, and at $14 dollars a roll, the meal was excellent and affordable. After the amazing quality, the humble outside argues that a few planks of wood, some pots, and good ingredients can deliver great food to the masses. Like the taco stand and halal cart, the lobster shack is a fundamental eatery that isn’t duplicated enough.

Especially in DC, which was my first attraction to Tackle Box. I didn’t believe the lobster would be as good as our lobster shack in Maine, which likely fished their lobster that morning from the bay 15 miles away. I imagine higher quality seafood at Hook next door or superior lobster rolls at Hanks Oyster Bar or Kinkead’s. Better yet, why not opt for the local favorite lobster burger at Central if you’re looking to feed your lobster craving.

What the Tackle Box offers is the nostalgia and setting to eat lobster differently: lobster is wonderful, but it’s just food after all, and you can have it any time you want to. I rode my bike to west M Street in Georgetown after running some errands and didn’t worry about what I was wearing or how long this would take. The rolls had thin strips of meat and were filled sparingly – a predictable disappointment – but still delicious. The sweet potato fries (the roll comes with house cut fries, though they allowed the substitute this time) were fried to the point of brittleness, unfortunately. I had hoped for a more natural and unique hole-in-the-wall quaintness, but the place felt a bit more like a cross between Chipotle and Potbelly, two very well known chains.

Tackle Box boasts a frequently changing menu of sustainable seafood, and currently offers several of sides, like mac & cheese, grilled asparagus and even chorizo hot dogs. Though the most exciting feature of Tackle Box have to be the lobster pots to go, which include Maine lobster, oysters, mussels, chorizo, potatoes and corn. Just add water and boil. The various possibilities and no-frills aspect of picking up a quick bite of seafood are enough to bring me back for more, and hope other similar dives are soon to follow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Capital Pride in Dupont











For the last week, multi-colored flags have been going up all along 17th street and the neighborhood is bubbling with excitement. It's all for this weekend's Capital Pride parade - which winds through Dupont, and will come complete with parade floats, a wax figure of Elton John, and Bruce Vilanch as Grand Marshall. I haven't been to the parade in the past - as a local who doesn't keep track of serious events, I end up planning a simultaneous grocery day that goes nowhere - but like the High Heeled Drag Race, it's a community must. I will definitely check it out this year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The IDEAL Day

310 days into my jobless experience, and I have finally developed and executed, on my own, the perfect day. Not an average day or a miserable, useless day... but a glorious, simple, focused, exciting, ideal day. What is ideal, you ask?

One where I:
  • Accomplish significant things
  • Take advantage of the day
  • Get money (income, yeah!)
  • Finish my To-Do list
  • Eat good food
  • Spend a significant time outside
  • Learn something new
  • Do something generous
  • Have an afternoon siesta
  • Do yoga
Whether it takes 10 months to get into the groove of working "freelance," at home, on my own schedule with my own plans... or I've just been pre-occupied/retarded/lazy... I do not know.

All I can say is: There does come a time when all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, the clouds part and the path ahead is clear, brain waves dance, buddhas sing, mountains move and snowballs finally start rolling.

It's because I like to plan. Planning is good. Planning is fun. I plan for weeks, months, years, even, depending on the circumstance, but long enough to say "I'm going to do this" and try it on, see if it fits. For instance, I began planning to move to D.C. a year an a half before I got here. I've been planning to apply to grad school since last April. I've been planning to plant flowers all week.

Today, plans - BIG plans - were executed. Step one. I then had coffee and read three newspapers, outside, in the amazing morning air. Step two. Momma got paid! Step three. I did EVERY errand on my list, including mailing my dad a father's day card... I've never mailed a card to anyone in my family, they're reserved for the special occasions when I'm in town... but things are changing! Step four. I ate a lobster roll - that magical food! - a red velvet cupcake, and sushi, all in one day. Step five. I was out the door by 10 (after working since 7) and spent most of the day running errands and eating, outside, on my bike, in a skirt (with shorts underneath, for safety). Steps two and six. I then learned how to control the mosquito empire that invaded my entry way (lemon juice), buried a dead bird, and kicked ass in yoga. Steps seven, eight and ten. Okay... I missed out on the siesta - Step nine - because siesta time went to a last minute trip to Kinkos (Step one) - but I was so close, and the day was so good, let's just say it happened.

All this, and "getting a job" wasn't even on the list. No word back still, but today, I did do what I said I would do, all my chips in, and now I know it's meant to be or not, and I'm ready for it.

Perfect, no?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

R.I.P. - Little Bird


I buried a little bird today, which was very sad, because I had just spoken with it yesterday when I found it, alive and chirping, on my walkway... but I sensed a little anxiety at being so close to a big-person, and probably the first big-person it had spoken with. So I said goodbye and wished it luck as it tried to fly again or whatever.

This morning, I found it in the rain gutter. I knew I should have gone back out to check on it later in the day, feed it some bread or a bug or something. And then the storm last night! That rain must have been too much for it's little bird wings.

I once did a short film about a dead bird. It was called Pticka ("little bird" in Bulgarian). Well, really, it was about how the murder of a little bird affected a young boy and, as a man, he goes into a mass-murdering frenzy. It was a horror flick.

Ciao, little bird.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ideas As They Occur

Bad Idea: Riding my bike to Georgetown wearing jeans during a heat advisory.
Good Idea: Stopping at Dolcezza for chocolate amargo, avocado and lemon gelato. Mmmm!

Bad Idea: Watching Sex and the City, the movie.
Good Idea:
Watching Sex and the City, the movie.... and bringing the new David Sedaris book to occupy the surplus 45-minutes.

Shorts:
I wish I could wear shorts. I don't like to wear shorts and I really don't know why (it probably has something to do with my hips, my skinny ankles, cargo short flashbacks, feeling like a boy when I wear shorts and sneakers, etc.). And I can't wear a skirt on a bike, at least not without a lot of paranoia and top-drawer underwear, but the jeans are just killing me. I have one pair of shorts, but they're short-shorts, which I bought to wear over tights two years ago when that look was "in fashion." Capris are fine, but in what fabric? And linen/thin cotton slacks could result in embarrassing sweaty-seat. I've given up walking for biking, even if it means exerting a little extra energy, so I can get back to air conditioning before I melt or die. I'm not made for swamp weather, I'm afraid. I just hadn't expected to revisit my short phobia because of it.

Jobs:
Speaking of sweating, I'm still waiting to hear back about that job. Luckily, I'm plotting a tenth-frame strike-out, all my chips in, final sprint to the finish kind of comeback. I just hope it works and I don't make a fool of myself. What's the worst that could happen, right?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday


This is the earliest I've been awake in ages, so let me take a moment to say that laziness is real, and you may not realize it until you've slept through,like, every episode of Car Talk for a month and curse how things have gone too far.

What I needed was fresh, 8-am air, early, cool-ish, undamp air, so I spent the morning watching the good people of the city head into their respective places of work with a cup of tea and a newspaper to swat away the herd of mosquitoes looking for breakfast. The cat hunted down the morning flock of singing birds. Nature gesticulated. The world turned.

And boy, do those working people look excited! They have stylish sunglasses and colorful skirts and office-appropriate summer shoe wear. I reflect on my first summer in D.C. as a young professional harassed by the heat waves that were as constant at 9 am and 7 pm as my linen separates and Steve Madden flats. Seasonal allergies beckon me back to the present and I marvel at the limitless species of insects I can find in the clover bed alone. I worry the cat is not as bored or as hot as I am. I fantasize about the job I want, how I will 'head to work' by this hour, but I wonder if the the catastrophic scenarios that are causing them to take so long to get back to me will be permanent, and whether a singing telegram falls in the category of "over the top."

I think I'll go in and poach an egg and make some iced tea before yoga. The cat will be under my arm in a moment after she runs to the neighbors bushes to avoid the cool, bug-free, uneventful indoors. Typical. Monday.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

American Cheese

Some friends and I were at the Mayflower yesterday, eating a cheese plate and drinking it up, when we got onto the topic of yummy, artisinal cheeses and the very trendy shop that recently opened in Chinatown. I saw a documentary not long ago about how European-style cheeses weren't produced in U.S. before three or four decades ago. I then explained, "Cheddar is the only cheese we can call American," and a friend said, "No, cheddar is English!"

So am I to understand that we Americans can take credit of the processed, gooey slices of Kraft singles and nothing else?

What a catastrophe! I exclaimed... yet each and every one of my friends noted the unique melting quality of sliced singles and shared their favorite ways to eat it: In a sandwich, in grilled cheese, on top of a cracker, etc.

I found this refreshing somehow, I'm not sure why.

In other news, take a look at what I was surrounded by over the weekend:

My ridiculously cute niece and the ridiculously cute things she would do.

Family is fantastic. And maybe... like American cheese... it's nice to have an option in life that is unpretentious, dependable and sobering.

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's No Act, I Need a Job

I'm sitting at the airport because I missed my flight this morning (I
know, retarded) and just read an article in today's NYT's about the
crazy things people are doing to get a job. Listen to this: "Japanese
culture tells you not to brag; in the U.S., interviewing for a job
means bragging about yourself and I am not comfortable doing that."
That's what I was saying! Does anyone else feel this way? The article
also gives some scary statistics on job scarcity and how to "stand out
and differentiate yourself." It's some interesting advice.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Interview Tips: Selling Yourself

I had a JOB interview today, out of nowhere, and I guess I could blame the last-minute nature of the meeting as to why I'm sure I came off as a dork, but that would be typical and stupid. You'd think that after 8 months in constant "job seeking" mode that I would be an interviewer's dream, ready with oodles of bright and thoughtful answers to typical interview questions and gems on how to "wow" potential employers tucked up my conservative, pressed sleeve. Actually, I didn't do badly - I have the experience and the job is a perfect fit. And then I was asked to list my strengths. Christ! Listen, I have strengths, I have loads of strengths, really good strengths even, and I know this is typical interview crap. But for some bizarre reason, my splendid ego loves to book it at the first glimmer of any abrupt disclosure. How can we not compare interviews to the experience of meeting those people at bars who ask all the personal questions he or she has no business asking after knowing you for only 5 minutes--age, occupation, birthplace, net worth--so it can be decided whether to shoo you away or give you the big break you were looking for? What's wrong with getting to know each other, hanging out a bit, going for a walk or two and maybe watching a movie to see if you have similar tastes?

I've never been able to sell myself. My mom could barely get me to smile when I was in the state pageant at age 6; I avoid giving personal highlights to anyone I haven't known at least 2 to 5 years. I feel like a floozy when I sell myself, which is not a terrible stretch of reasoning, people. Truthfully, I don't know if interviews, as they are, even work, and I've been on the giving end several times. Which is probably why the expression "It's not what you know, but who you know" exists... first impressions don't seem to be enough these days. But more importantly, there's this to consider: If I get the gig, it would last 27 weeks. 27 weeks! That's, like, a real job! Which is not a bad promise in light of the most special bout of cabin fever I've been nursing over the last couple of weeks. But I'll worry about that later. I'm off to the west coast in a couple hours to see my family and eat well and watch Lost. Nice. I also have a meme to pass on....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Best Friend, The Boob Tube

I've just USED television to comfort my loneliness after cleaning, cooking tofu for the first time and drinking a bottle of wine had nothing to offer. The cat and I just watched an hour of Seinfeld, and I swear, I'm going to sleep like a well-milked baby, a well-wine'd youngster. Earlier, I listened to an episode of "This American Life," where David Rakoff attempts to watch 29 hours of television and reveals that people who watch steady episodic television might get the benefits of actual "friends" by staying tuned... well, quite an interesting offer, until you need someone to call the authorities because you've died, alone, in your apartment. Even the cat became calmer when I switched to Seinfeld from public radio, I swear to god. Obviously, every other human being in the country watches television nearly every night (29 hours a week, according to TAL), so who am I to complain? I watch a ton of movies, but as David says, those movies-people are not the same as Elaine, Jerry, George and Kramer, who I've known for years, thanks! The drug-like trance I got tonight reminded me of another needy time in my life.... when I first came to D.C. and I had just left my then-boyfriend in Seattle and thought I was going to die. Were it not for That 70's Show. Sitting in the friend's cousin-who-I'd-never-met-'s apartment, I watched those funny people and wondered what it was like to be happy. No knitting or reading could sooth that sad little girl, and in later retrospect, I wondered--Was that a moment when TV saved me? Well, that sounds stupid... I mean, it's the boob tube. Isn't the real answer for tranquility meditation or writing or volunteering for world peace? Oh god... the Tira Bank's talk show is going to make depressed, un-sexualized couples "touch" each other in the green room with a therapist on hand.... this is so depressing....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Bad Smell in the Apartment that Won't Go Away

I'm nearly positive something died in my apartment a few days ago because I could smell a pungent, death-scent every time I walked past the door to our home office on the way to the loo. JBO is in Australia playing with koala bears and I'm stuck here dealing with dead, bloated carcases. That outburst was "anger" three days ago, followed by "denial" on Sunday when I played bocce ball all day, then at last "acceptance" yesterday when I got a friend to come over and stand there in case I freaked out at the sight of rotted rat guts. We looked everywhere. This is the longest time I've been alone in this apartment - 3 weeks - and I (of course) wonder what this incident says about me, my self-sufficiency and general ability to be alone. I suspect that months of working alone in the apartment all day is advancing a disconnectedness that is getting exceptionally morbid, especially when evenings alone and dead bodies are added. For example, I wonder if I'm in a weird horror film where the star will eventually find HERSELF dead and bloated under the floor!!! But seriously, I don't think all this alone-time is good for me, and yet, I love it. The cat laid next to me the whole night and whenever I opened my eyes, her head was up... which was obviously a sign of someone in the apartment or something diabolical happening, so I didn't sleep. Today I cleaned out the whole apartment and I still can't find where the smell is coming from!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nothing like a Drunk on the Sidewalk to stir Philisophical Thoughts on Existence

A friend and I were sitting outdoors at a bar on 18th street last night when a man in a wheel chair had in one way or another shimmied down to the sidewalk in front of it. A few people attempted to help him back in the chair and we could see the guy was tanked... evidenced by the way he waved his hand around and his head flopped from one side to the other, and in the lack of complete shock or terror from the people helping him back in the seat if it were serious. We couldn't tell if the people helping him into the chair were his friends or strangers offering a hand. The man was older, maybe in his late 60's, wearing a camouflage green button up shirt and hat. We drank mojitos. My friend said to me, what should a person walking by do in that kind of situation? I said if I were a man, (since I, as a cute girl, avoid drunk guys at all costs, even in bars) I would go up and ask him if he was okay, make sure he's conscious, and if he was, help him to a nice patch of grass where he could sleep it off. We've all been drunk before, after all. Yeah, and maybe ask if he lives close by or if you could call someone. What else is there? He recommended calling someone. Call who? The police, the paramedics, 911. Well that's a bit severe and doesn't that turn into some sort of petty offense, like public drunkenness? I said. And he's a grown man, after all, probably a POW even, give the guy a break. But he was in a wheel chair, and maybe that made the difference. Left on the foul streets of Adams Morgan, he was also likely to be robbed or pissed on or abused in one way or another; plus then, you have all those people standing around with thier deep fears of guilt who must "do the right thing" with nowhere to put their good deeds. It's hard to know what the "right thing" to do is, I said, and we--as in our generation-- lack any kind of social mores that would have helped previous generations pick one or two of the tried and most-accepted (therefore least offensive) options in this kind of situation instead of everyone taking a crack at it for themselves based on their own limited experiences and judgment because we all have a mind of our own even if we're actually a complete idiot. I slurped a bit more of my drink. "What's best for him" can be subjective, so why doesn't he decided for himself? Doesn't he at least deserve a say? Maybe what's best is we just sit here and drink and think nothing of it? Another swig. Existentialism has resulted in idiots taking charge, I ponder to myself. The paramedics and fire department came and picked him up, and we ordered another drink before heading to the Prince Dance Party at Chief Ikes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quitting the Gym, At Last, the Unemployed Girl Gets Realistic

Today, I'm heading to the gym to end my membership, which is something I have been dreading since unemployment. I think I looked at my gym membership as a sign of some stability in my life, some level of security, some level of accomplishment, combined with a love for elliptical and the unease of losing the corporate rate that somehow never disappeared. Maybe I looked at the gym as an office, some place I could go to every day, a place I belonged? I'm over it now. A sympathetic but practical voice says, "It's okay, it's time, you'll live." On to bigger and better things. I've rekindled old passions that I abandoned when I moved to DC, when I was too overworked and young and exhausted and ambitious to do anything else. Yoga, rock climbing, dance. Okay, so I'm not exactly going to be saving money. But maybe the money alone isn't exactly the point. Maybe what's more important is what it gives back, and though the gym gave me a good dose of dopamine and the promise of a good bod, it didn't give me a life outside of my job/jobless identity. You know how I was saying that people don't have much of an identity in DC other than their work? Yoga may not be the answer to everything either, but I know it's a solid part of who I am, and knowing that, and giving it it's fair share of attention seems worth a shot at bringing me closer to figuring out what I want professionally and who I am as a whole, if that makes sense. This is my once chance to rebalanced my life before I really get into the heat of it, so I'm kind of pissed that it took so long to get here. I also wished I had picked up hobbies that were free. More cutting of the nonessentials, as I get closer to figuring out what the nonessentials are.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jobless People Are Not That Scary

An article in The New York Times Sunday found that nearly 240,000 American jobs disappeared from January to April and all those rejects (I use this term endearingly) don't know how to deal with the shame of it all with their friends and neighbors. Instead, they're staying in the house and away from soccer fields. But don't blame it all on them-- they say friends stopped calling, too!

This country has an amazing stigma about joblessness, one that supposes laziness and lack of ambition and something wrong with the person who can't keep a lame job. Okay, some people are exactly that. But not everyone. Ex-coworkers still have a hard time around me... I sense they're worried I'm depressed (no fun) or I'll ask them for a job. I guess it's not really their fault--In D.C., what more do you know about a person than what he or she does for work?

Some great advice - for both the jobless and the rest - was expressed by one man interviewed in the article: Put it out there, give friends a way to be useful if they want to, and stop feeling sorry for yourself or anyone else. I'll add: talk about something other than work, for godssake! Then it won't be so hard to be around your poor, sad, little jobless friend.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh Hell - Another Identity Crisis

From the lack, and random assortment, of postings you've seen on this blog in the last month or so, you may have figured out that I'm currently in the middle of what some people call an "identity crisis." An identity crisis is a moment in ones life when one is uncertain about his- or her-SELF due to a change in aims or role in society. As a mostly-broke professional who must practically flaunt herself daily to find ways of making money while still trying to hold on to some level of integrity and "artistic" expression... who is young, inexperienced in her new career, alone most days, cute (just to throw that in there) and locked in a sunless basement apartment... a change of aims is so common that a regular identity crisis is practically fucking guaranteed.

Am I jobless or not? Am I a selfless journalist or an ego centric? Am I a writer or a filmmaker? Should I go back to programming or stick with production? Is my favorite movie Chinatown or Wings of Desire?

I've heard that certain individuals who function well in a state of chaos will... um... seek trouble. But when I think of life in that unhappy job, I can't believe leaving it was more destructive than staying, or that change is a bad, or that learning to be myself and comfortable with it isn't necessary, just because it can really suck to feel so confused and to be poor. It's just temporary, after-all. But long-term temporary, no doubt.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reality Check: Stevie Wonder

First of all--Let me tell you how much I love Stevie Wonder. That dude is the shit people... he's happy just singing, playing the hell out of a piano or harmonica, and spreading the funk. "Sir Duke" will cheer up any gloomy, wet day, guaranteed, friends. I walk differently listening to Stevie Wonder, I don't buy things I don't need listening to Stevie Wonder, I just keep it REAL listening to Stevie Wonder, you know what I'm saying? And "In the City"... shoot, that's good stuff. This idea of "real" has been at the forefront of a few weeks of traveling without a job and visiting to two very different but similar places: Buenos Aires and New Orleans. Complex, I know. What's real? (For me anyway, at this point?) Stevie Wonder. We'll go from there.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Take On Doing The Unemployment Thing In Buenos Aires

Que tal chicas y chicos! I'm back in the wheeling, dealing, global, commercial economy of America and enjoying the spoils: highspeed internet, an iPhone, a DVD player and lighting that doesn't short out every other day. The question that comes to mind is: Is this really all that better? Especially as an unemployed gal struggling to live in this country? Uh... yeaaah.

Ok... Maybe.

Yes, America feeds my addiction for advanced technology and satisfies my multi-tasking nature...a deep rooted beast that needs to read, listen to my iPod and eat at the same time. YES--I like to download a video and upload a photo and post a blog at the same time... is that so wrong? Does it matter that I overwork and overspend and feed myself latenight movies and Craigslist purchases at all hours?

I can't say Buenos Aires was exactly relaxing or low-cost either. It's like New York intensity and image consciousness mixed with South American inefficiency mixed with cigarettes and eating disorders and soot. Let's weigh out the pro's and con's: I drank less and smoked more. I watched less TV and did less work. I bought fewer things and bought more clothes (the fashion is great). I spoke more Spanish and spoke less Spanish (if I didn't mention it before, the portenos speak Castellano, which means they turn every double-L into an "sh" sound and throw in a lot of slang... can't use that anywhere else!) You can live there quite well if you have foreign money, but it would be very hard to live off any money you make while you're there.
In fact, it's quite a severe economic situation, as the city is quite full of money but urban slums hug the city perimeter... then foreigners live it up in the city like they have a hotel on Boardwalk and the locals hike up the prices to get some good tourist dough. Of course, is this any different from anywhere else? Not really, eh?

Plus, t
here are quite a few local artists, musicians, filmmakers and people just kind of moving from one job to the next with gaps in-between, jobless, artsy, stying out late during the week. What do they do for money? It is very easy to live on very little, I imagne, especially outside of the city. Plus, Argentina tends to lean towards funding more social programs, such as unemployment benefits, education and health coverage across the board. And they have a very political culture (we saw a protest nearly every day on Avenida de Mayo) with many unions and social networks. It's nice.

I may enjoy my capitalism, but there is something so right about 3 hour meals, tea time in the afternoon, long walks in the park and late nights. The moral of the story is: Could I live and do my semi-work thing in another country and find a little more tranquility or a lot less? Not sure. My verdict on Buenos Aires is still up in the air. Next stop: New Orleans!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Los Cartoneros-Street barbage collectors

Ever since the economic crisis of 2001, a group of people called cartoneros have pillaged garbage bags laid on the streets in search of paper, plastics and glass to recycle. The primary motivation was money--they could earn quite a bit with large quantities and everyone was out of cash. Now it seems they serve as the city's only recycling vehicle. The only problem is that bags of garbage are torn open and trash is everywhere. I heard that there was an attempt by the government to create an organized system for the cartoneros... they asked citizens to simply place recyclables in separate bags to place on the street. Didn't work. I plan to separate my recyclables and make an offering to a cartonero and see what more I can learn about this interesting phenomenon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get Some Raid, It Kills Them Good

this is what we were told today by the real-estate agent when we told her we had cochroaches. Oh, Argentina, oh South America.

Dulce de Leche--Best Food Ever

I've eaten my share of dulce de leche thanks to Dolcezza in Georgetown, but never like this before. In the spirit of “When in Rome,” I have grown into what my friend NM has penned as an “alfajore”. Alfajores are an argentine sweet—dulce de leche sandwiched between two sugar cookies that one must eat after every meal. Dulce de leche is cream and sugar heated into an awesome, delicious, creamy paste that is often mistaken for caramel but is much, much better. At Dolcezza, you can enjoy in three forms: Churros, Alfajores and gelato (of course). Here, you can have it on everything, in everything, as any meal so long as you breath. This food is a gift from heaven—truly… it's the most pure and sinful of milk-meets-sugar bliss—but, as you can imagine, if eaten every three hours, it goes straight to the middle region and results in the partaker having a cookie-like appearance. Ergo, I am now an alfajore. Add bottles of red wine to this diet and we have a massive caloric dilemma. How can I resist the local cuisine when in a foreign country for a limited amount of time? My only hope is to head straight to zy-oga (yoga) tomorrow morning until I leave or stop eating dulce de leche. Since I don't plan to do the latter, zy-oga it is. No one said temporarily adopting a culture was easy. NM will buy a whole tub of it from the supermercado and attempt to eat the whole thing with a spoon. Quite the cultural and nutritional experiment that I plan to document from first bite through painful completion... stay tuned.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obeying the Argi's sense of time

In the span of one week, I turned old, finished a short video and moved to Argentina. I had been told that as a freelancer, I should forget planning two months ahead of time because that "now" moment might move you to another country for three weeks. the key, I gathered, was to go with it... who knows if I'll be able to take that other trip I was planning in May anyway? what if I'm working then, what if I'm dead?

I planned to post from my lovely, adoptive city --a sort of jobless on assignment-- but let me tell you a little something about the porteno (the term for the Buenos Aires city dwellers) and their sense of time. In five days, I've progressively stayed out later at tango milongas, began to eat after midnight, avoided (or conveniently forgot) the most obvious of errands (getting a new set of keys), and am now sleeping until noon. Lunches take two hours and if my friend and I are not going to order desert, we should be sure to show our regrets to avoid that "Americans" look.

I've come to Buenos Aires before, but for work, and with all the American comforts of my swank hotel--highspeed internet, good food, air conditioning, a shower basin... yup, our shower is a curtain and a drain in the floor next to the toilet. Of course, I never thought of the these items as comforts, but standards, right? Not quite so. For highspeed internet--which my friend has worked to get set up for two weeks--we've got to be willing to haul a laptop to a corner cafe (it's not exactly a good idea to walk around with a mac laptop) and wait for the battery to run out before a full day's work is complete. So I think, why work?... let's go have a te... because that is so easy to do. Work is definitely not encouraged, and I'm going to say it's outright frowned upon. Seriously... it's like swimming against the current! Well... I could get used to this. And with the exchange rate as good as it is here, this is a jobless haven. It's true... I've met tons of jobless ex-pats. I must be in the jobless capital of the world!

More on assignment from Buenos Aires... next time I can get an internet connect.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Video: Typical Day, Psycho Squirrel from Hell




This psycho squirrel taunts the cat for an hour at a time, several days a week, front yard and back yard, until I throw something at it. I think it tries to sound like a bird to lure the cat closer...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is Ben Affleck in town?

Speaking of the movie business and Ben Affleck (State of Play)--and in case you run into him in G-town and haven't seen his last film, "Gone Baby Gone,"which you should--read this review:

Enchanged vs. Ben Affleck...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Working Makes Me Fat

I’m sitting at my kitchen table in my bathrobe and slippers, hunched over my laptop with increasingly bad posture, my enlarging ass sinking further into a crappy and uncomfortable wicker chair that I hate. I’ve been working for the last two weeks, which a throbbing temporal vein and bad case of tendinitis can attest. What the hell was I thinking? - I think. I had it made. I was happy. I worked hard… to maintain the bod at the gym, to flex my intellect with klassical novels (Count of Monte Cristo), to entertain my soul with blog sites, and to eat cream pastries at cafes as I strategized my “next steps.” Somehow one of those next steps worked out and now my achy back hates my guts. I can no longer deny an undeniable truth: working hurts and makes me fat. Seriously…while working 15-hour days out of town last week, I ate McDonalds twice. Twice! In two days! I haven’t eaten McDonalds since before that kid got his head stuck in the Hamburglar playground equipment. I haven’t eaten partially hydrogenated oils for at least a couple of years, and now all those free-radical-clearing drinks I’ve been chugging lately have gone to shit. I knew my qi (chee) was pathetic when I had a job but I though that was from years of negative-energy build up, I thought I beat all that, I never thought two weeks on two pots of coffee a day would bring me back here. A thought: Is this a message? Yeah, well, I’ve learned my lesson! Except…um, it is nice to have money. But if I’m a beached whale on painkillers at the end of two more weeks, I’m reevaluating this whole making-a-living thing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Photo of the Day: The Big Time Movie Making Business Visits DC - Aka Russell Crowe

Did I ever tell you about the time I auditioned to be an extra on a Russell Crowe movie and then didn't get a call back? I guess you have to be SAG just to be an extra, too, or something. All I wanted was to be on a big-time movie set.

Close enough!




Rachel & Russell


the man - kevin macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland")


3/24 - I had requests for "more Rachel"... here you go boys...



....and all three together!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Manifesto for the Happily Unemployed

It appears I'm still just an unemployed newbie, a pup at little more than four months weening on little income and loads of insecurity. According to this article in the WCP, seasoned jobless professionals really do exist out there! It's hilarious, and disturbing?, but does ring a certain truth to the wacky, ironic logic that is joblessness. Namely, life is too short to go on putting 10-hours a day into a job that you hate, that hates you back, and leads to the deterioration of your mind, body and soul. It is possible to live on very little. And doing what you really want, and snatching the time to do it by any means possible, may be more a contribution to society than running the corporate rat wheel so you can buy another flat screen TV. I don't plan to never work again (I've got a paying gig right now, as a matter of fact) but remaining without office, boss, or business-casual flare doesn't seem quite half-baked these days. It might just pay off in the end.

Movie Days

This weekend is perfect for watching a few movies. See the review for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day at my new blog, Film Gal DC. The NYT's didn't think it was half bad, either....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chronicles of a Coffee Drinker--Log #1: Big Bear Cafe

Over the last few years in DC, I've had large quantities of seriously crappy coffee. Add to that the number of Starbucks in the district alone (DC has the fifth highest number of Starbucks per capita in the country) and my observation of dear friends who keep returning to the same watery, burnt, boiling sewage found close to home or the office because it's convenient and cheap, and it's clear coffee guidance is needed in DC. Coffee can lead to nasty mood swings, hypertension, overworking, stomach ulcers (really) and poor taste, so "It better be worth it" is my motto.

To a non-worker and one-time college student from Seattle,
coffee shops are a second home. To those with more to think about than coffee roasting traditions, the beauties of a perfect cappuccino, or the sweet, sweet cafe life (you) much can be learned from the diligent research and trials of a coffee addict. I propose to do the work for you.

DC has a growing number of indie cafes--we all know coffee/life at Tryst and Murky, though there be more out there. Try the coffee I mention and be ready to open your mind and taste buds to stimulation and perfection you never knew one could crave in coffee. (Warning: coffee/espresso drinking can lead to snobbery and a suspected surge in fine wine drinking.)

My (current) favorite stop in town:


Big Bear Cafe

Big Bear has become my favorite in the last couple of months for several reasons:


1. I only learned of it in November (it opened last July).
2. The espresso drinks are consistently awesome (translation: smooth, rich, slightly sweet and caramelly, milk is silky and at the right temperature to not burn the tongue or espresso, done with a foam design so familiar to northwesterners.)
3. It's a neighborhood, non-chain cafe, privately owned, with a very friendly staff.
4. French press coffee is available by the cup or 17 oz press.
4. The great space, large windows, couches, and outdoor tables have a Northwest feel unlike other DC cafes and make me warm and fuzzy.
5. Really great sandwiches, salads and paninis.
6. Movie screenings.
7. Tuesday knitting groups.
8. Listen to me when I tell you about the goodness of the coffee.
9. Free wireless all day, all weekend.
10. Good pastries (croissant w/prosciutto and gruyere), teas (ginger is yummy), and GLASSES available to drink free filtered water, not disposable cups!

Yesterday, I had two macchiatos, a house coffee, and a deelish chicken pesto panini. Big Bear is a little out of the way for those not already living in Bloomingdale, but U Street buses all stop at the corner of Florida and 1st, and street parking is largely available on weekdays (weekends are another story, but not nearly as bad as Adams Morgan or Eastern Market.)

My peeve: the Washingtonian twice listed the city's indie coffee houses and both times forgot Big Bear. Bad news for the many in the District who are still missing out.


Big Bear Cafe
1st & R St. NW

Monday, March 3, 2008

Photo of the Day: Margaritaville



The last couple of weeks, I've had dreams of Miami--the February destination that was one of my business trips over the last three years. (Note: For the job I left.) I never realized how much the guilt-free ways of that sunny, manicured town balanced the conservative and calculated ways of DC. Seriously, the day I came back from the South Beach for the first time, I sat at the outdoor seating at Sparky's, surrounded by my usual concrete solace, and realized how much I had gone to the drab and dreary, black-and-white dark side. The lounge couches and billowing tapestries at the Delano and private parties at the Versace mansion were my secret (though very slight) sin, and my salvation. But ever grateful: the margarita at Lauriol today is doing the trick. I recommend it to anyone who can take a long lunch, or a day off, for your health's sake.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Replenish and Restock!

What does a girl do when a long awaited new commission comes in? She wishes to shop, eat well and tend to a little self-polishing, of course; despite the pragmatism gained by adapting to a here-and-there income. Every sensibility in me says: Hold on to that money, girl! You have no idea what’s coming and it’s not like you haven’t already gone several months on a tight regimen of a limited comforts anyway, right? What’s a little longer?...whispers the wise, humble me inside me. But the level to which I had to fight the urge to head to Georgetown today to pick out a new pair of tights (etc.) was so strong that it likened to the time I went without eating for ten days (for charity, not poverty’s sake). My mind was strong then, too, and I felt like ten days could stretch to twelve or thirteen, but my body had an agenda of it’s own. From the moment I ate my first bite of pho, it began to horde every calorie in preparation for another surprise attack. Now, like then, an underling sense of self-preservation (I think?) asks, pleads, begs me to horde! Build up stock, replenish supplies, regain good footing and get ready for the next dip, the next phase of privation! As a wise and jobless friend eloquently put it: In our profession, without fixed incomes, there is no money sometimes but loads at others and we live both as paupers and kings (and queens, TYVM).

I’m only now getting my metabolism back to normal after six months, which means this other hording instinct could take a while to get straight. Until then, I have a few sales to go to.

Georgetown Cupcake Siesta

After a chocolate break at the Cocoa Gallery with two very lovely Jobless Girls (one just ending a job, the other beginning tomorrow), I made the effort to return to Georgetown to do two things I had no time to finish yesterday: Get a deal at a two-for-one dress sale (today was the last day!) and see what was going on with this cupcake place I saw while walking down west M St. See, on my way to Leopold’s Kafe yesterday afternoon for a cappuccino (nice, nothing exciting, but I think I’ll try the Austrian coffee next time), I saw a crazy line out the door of a little shop on Potomac Street across from Dean and Deluca. By the time I returned after the coffee, a sign on the door said they were closed and sold out. Of cupcakes. Georgetown Cupcakes.

I’m not a person who really ‘gets’ cupcakes—I’m more a crème brule and gelato fan where deserts are concerned—but nothing sparks curiosity in me like a line outside a small and stylish boutique. By the time I reached the front door this afternoon (after getting two fab dresses!), the chocolate cupcakes were gone and a few in the line turned away. But thanks to my previous chocolate fill, I was prepared to enjoy one each of the few Red Velvet and Lemon Blossom cupcakes remaining.

Here’s what was going through my mind… What is it about cupcakes? I think back to my childhood cupcake—you know, the kind bought in the supermarket with that so-wrong inch-thick confectioners sugar icing and yucky rainbow sprinkles—and I wince. I now live next to Cake Love and go often, but ...wait in line for cupcakes? Chocolate I'll wait in line for—Chocolate gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. That I get. Why cupcakes? What's in it for me besides sugar and calories? Is it that we enjoy the chance to lavish ourselves, and a beautiful cake dressed with citrus glaze and gourmet sprinkles—and individually sized, just for us—speaks to a deep, psychological craving? Are we dying to live out the child and Marie Antoinette buried deep down within us all? Does “happiness in the palm of your hand” really a cupcake make?

The girls at Georgetown Cupcake think so, as well as everyone who keeps wiping the place out. At 5p.m, the dears were scurrying to bake another batch of chocolate cakes, which they promised would be ready an hour later, though a sign on the door showed they’d already closed once that afternoon to restock. Since the shop first opened it’s doors on Valentines Day, the cupcake output has grown daily but not quite as fast as the number of fans.

So I tried the cupcakes. Okay, I get it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Funny How the Days Go By

Today, I made appointments and plans for Friday, confirmed times and locations, and said to people, "Okay, see you tomorrow!"

Of course, today is Wednesday and it took until about 1pm to figure it out. How silly! But maybe you can understand what my life is like. I would say that it is in fact more difficult to keep my activities and my hectic schedule in order than the average office person who can rely on someone else to reference the time of day or day of the week. In other words, you have activities that take place around you that can give you helpful markers. I, on the other hand, have only garbage pick-up days to rely on, and I haven't taken the garbage out in weeks (thanks, BF!). All I'm saying is a jobless person must work pretty damn hard to keep all this straight.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Metro Mobbing

I went to Cork for drinks last Friday and went out for sushi with the BF on Saturday night. I was excited for both, went to both spots early to beat the crowds, but only to remember that it was the weekend and Friday and Saturday nights are cursed. Both spots were so packed, I nearly swore to order delivery every weekend from now on forever. My friend and I nearly lost heals pushing our way out of Cork on Friday when the standing crowd flooded in at 7:30, and on Saturday, when my craving for sushi was almost hormonal, the wait at Sushi Taro was longer than the time it would take to fillet my own fish. Instead of walking to Taro we ended up driving to Cleavland Park. We drove to Cleavland Park! By Saturday, I was demanding to know, "Who are these people packing into my places?" (By 'my' places, I mean bars and restaurants so close to home on 16th and U that I can safely stumble home at the end of the night. I've also declared them mine.) Nearly every car outside Taro had Virginia or Maryland plates. I was hot with madness on two levels: as an environmentalist and as a person who pays harsh DC taxes. You know where I'm going with this... Not that I have anything against Virginians or Marylanders--many of them are my friends--but do all of them have to pack into the handful of decent places in my hood every weekend? I don't go to their places, after all. No doubt out-of-towners are so sick of hearing this, and of course it's all been said before, and I'm not even sure I blame them alone, I somewhat extend this to other districters that flood into Dupont. But why only prime nights? This weekend was a final straw in my own personal score book of metro mobbing. For years, similar mobbings have plagued Saint Ex, Bar Pilar, and 16th & U. Now my sushi place and the only respectable wine bar? I went so far as to demand (to no one in particular, but tell me what you think of it) that from now on, doormen should also check IDs for proof of local addresses before entering. Ha! Or they should at least allow them in first, perhaps even to reserved seats, and lavish them with treats. But this brings me back to the larger problem that I've always disliked about DC--that without enough options in more neighborhoods in the city (and with Georgetown and Capital Hill remaining inconvenient), we will all continue flocking to the one or two places in my hood that rule.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

WORKING FROM HOME… FEELING LIKE A HOUSEWIFE














I was making chile rellenos today when I was struck by a horrifying suspicion. More and more lately, I’ve been staying at home rather than spending the entire day at coffee shops, working on my laptop, writing or researching my current projects (I love coffee, you know, but it adds up). So I’ve started making breakfast, then fixing something for lunch, and then thinking what to make for dinner for my cute little boyfriend and myself. Then, of course, I need to clean the cooking area, which expands to the living room, outward… you get the idea. So I'm starting to feel I may be turning into somewhat of a possible interpretation of what one would call a… well… housewife. Horrors! I’m not married, I’m not even what you would call the nurturing-type, so I have no idea how or when this ridiculous suspicion popped into my head; but now that I think about it, it seems pretty likely and terrifying. Of course, domesticity is not a pastime limited to housewives… but this is what it leads to for sweet girls like me, people, and it’s the rightful fear of any young independent woman!

Being between projects that pay (that is always the trick of freelancing), I have less to contribute to things like
rent payments, and therefore more time in the day that can seem unproductive, strictly monetarily speaking. That leads to guilt that persuades me to consider my subsidy to the “household” which leads me to cook, clean and fluff. Here’s what’s most foreboding: It’s satisfying. I have closure at the end of the day because I create things with my hands—my secret pleasure—and I have impending goals to make my own bread, paint chairs and pick out end tables.

A few women in Great Britain are calling the apparent new generation of work-at-home housewives the “Generation Nigella.” The tag is being bestowed upon the woman who now replaces the feminist work-horse of the nineties for the modern gal who wants everything; wants a fabulous career but also wants to be at home taking care of babies, being domestic, or even making a career of being domestic, like Martha Stewart. Critics argue this to be neither achievable nor practical and a sign of a generation of women who don’t know what they want. We, in our ambitious post-feminist age, have confused ourselves with too much to do.

In any case, my mom is a great cook and finished grad school after I left for college, so today I’m daring to make tamales and other foods I've never made before as a tribute to her kick-ass, do what you want, I’ll-be-bringing-in-good-dough-next-week sort of way. That's the plan for today, anyhow.

Photos: Lunar Eclipse












In case you missed the lunar eclipse last night, I froze my ass off so you could have a look.

If I hadn't been reminded about this on my way home from a movie, I swear, I would have cared less. But then I saw it and thought of all the things I might have considered doing that are best done during a lunar eclipse... I'm sure there's some rare, exotic herbal remedy I should have prepared... and isn't my sign in the right house or something? Also, what does this mean for magicians, the Virgo-Pisces axis, and the elections?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Photo Of The Day--Mayorga Macchiato














I could do this everyday, you know. More on coffee to come.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oh Right, It's That Holiday Again. Better Get Some Chocolate at ACKC.

I have a boyfriend, so I'm not exactly one of those typical people (singles) who hate Valentine's Day because it reminds me of being alone or those other people who become completely ridiculous about hearts and red bows and cheap lingerie. Scratch that--I'm exactly the second half of that last sentence.

Simply put, I'm just one of those types who would rather do everything that this holiday wants me to do--go to dinner, buy lots of loot, cards, flowers, chocolates--some OTHER day. So instead, my boyfriend and I will get a good bottle of champagne (this is my one exception, since I LOVE champagne), I'll go to the gym, and then we'll sit a home and shuck oysters and watch a movie.

However, as I finally made it into the Cocoa Gallery (ACKC) on 14th Street last week--and back several times since then (I live in the neighborhood, okay?)--I remembered the one damn good thing this holiday brings--specialty food items.












Photo from the Washington City Paper, see their ACKC article here.


The Juliet hot chocolate is a chocolate lovers heaven and a foodies fascinating experience. All of the hot chocolate here is made with real cocoa shavings, not powders, and the Juliet--a Valentine's Day special-- is infused with a hint of rose water, topped with whipped cream and garnished with a rose petal. I just had the most interesting white wine from Germany the other day at one of the daily tastings at Vidalia, which had a flowery infusion in addition to a somewhat dry and clean finish, and I liked it, loved it really, and it didn't
make me gag as if I had just walked into a cloud of cheap perfume. So I was feeling good that this Juliet was not going to let me down.

It didn't. It was creamy, a great blend of dark chocolate and what must have been whole milk, with the most subtle, unpretentious hint of rose, more like a scent in the air than a flavor in your mouth, though maybe a tad over-garnished with the whipped cream. My chocolate tolerance is well above the average nonprofessional, yet I had some trouble drinking the whole mug. No matter... I'll be going back for at least one more if they carry it throughout the week.

The place was packed on Tuesday with eager shoppers hoping to surprise their loved ones with designer truffles (the lavendar pistachio is fantastic, and I'm eager to go back and try several of the others that fill three full cases towards the back) and kitschy little chocolate Valentine's items--Chocolate Voodoo dolls, body frosting, chocolate shower bar.

ACKC also sells Vosges chocolate bars, which I love and only used to buy when in Soho. The Black Pearl Bar with wasabi and ginger is my favorite, though the Oaxaca bar is a spicy classic--chili and chocolate were meant to be together.

My friend bought the chocolate pasta packaged and available on one of the many display tables, which he plans to cover in mole sauce in the hopes of making a serious impression on a potential Valentine.

The atmosphere is a bit loud, in color an in noise--without rugs, couches or curtains to dull some of the echo happening, it can feel like the lobby of a hotel or a wine tasting room-- not exactly the coziness I want with my hot chocolate.

When the holiday's over, I'll go back to ACKC for the Audrey hot chocolate--a nice, tight blend of dark chocolate and the slightest bit of milk, full of body and just a tad sweet without being bitter. It's an espresso personified in a hot chocolate, if you get my drift.

Although, the Audrey is still a second (a FAR second) to my favorite form of chocolate in the world--the extremely rich and devilish dark, dark chocolate gelato at Dolcezza.

Can You Believe This Cat Got the Shaft by the Washingtonian Pet Issue?





I really don't know what kind of show those Washingtonians are runnin', but look at how freaking CUTE this cat is? Cute enough to make it past some of the howlers that made the finals in the recent Washingtonian Cutest Pet Contest, that's for sure... especially the honorable mentions! No doubt another high-level Washington conspiracy....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Film Screening: Oscar Nominated Foreigns at National Geographic

There's nothing like attending another Oscar party and looking like a boob when you loose your bet in every category, and your friends think that you must be a hermit, good for nothing, and sad. Maybe if you watch some of the nominated films this year, you could show your face again after that silly little vote you made for Little Miss Sunshine last year.

National Geographic is here to help you with the foreign films, at least. NG will screen each of the Oscar Nominated Foreign Language Films beginning tonight through Sunday.

Just think... by Monday, you could impress girls with foreign film aplomb... impress your friends who power through their Netflix queues... I mean, some of these films haven't even been released in the U.S. yet!

Tickets are an affordable $7 dollars. Visit the All Roads Film Project site for more details. And pray the tickets aren't completely gone, slacker.

Thursday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m. The Counterfeiters
Friday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m.
12
Saturday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m.
Beaufort
Sunday, February 17, at 2 p.m.
Mongol
Sunday, February 17, at 5 p.m. Katyn



Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hello, I'm Addicted to Facebook

In the past two months, with the slightest bit 'o extra time available in my--ahem--flexible schedule, I have steadily been sucked into the vacuous black hole of time and space that is Facebook. My attachment is deep and true, and insatiable. Flixster, Super pokes, and Wall Postings have replaced any real human interactions I could be having... yeah, well, and thank god for that! But has my dependence gone too far? Do I need an intervention?

Here are twelve questions all Facebook junkies should answer to get wise on whether you, as do I, suffer from this completely ridiculous problem.

PLEASE ANSWER YES OR NO TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS

1. Have you ever decided to stop [Facebooking] for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your [Facebooking]-- stop telling you what to do?
3. Have you ever switched from one kind of [Status Update] to another in the hope that this would keep you from [seeming boring]?
4. Have you had to have an eye-opener [of Facebook] upon awakening during the past year?
5. Do you envy people who can [Vampire Bite] without getting into trouble?
6. Have you had problems connected with [Super Poking] during the past year?
7. Has your [Wall Posting] caused trouble at home?
8. Do you ever try to get "extra" [Pokes] at a party because you do not get enough?
9. Do you tell yourself you can stop [Facebooking] any time you want to, even though you keep [Movie Trivia Challenging] when you don't mean to?
10. Have you missed days of work or school because of [Facebooking]?
11. Do you have [Wall Post] "blackouts"?
12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not [Facebook]?

Speaking of networking site issues, did you miss out on International Delete Your MySpace Account Day?


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday



This election sure does have some fine multimedia. See the newest Barack Obama video created by supporters.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Love Affair with Tryst


This is my third consecutive day at Tryst, so it seems only right that I give a "hell yeah!" to it's existence as a damn-fabulous coffee shop and a place I could visit nearly every single freaking day if I wanted to.

Let me tell you--When I moved here from Seattle five years ago, I swore that if I couldn't find a respectable place to call my 'coffee home', I was gonna get the hell out of this crummy town before my three-month employment commitment was over. No joke... good coffee is much more important to us Northwesterners than you could possibly imagine... more important than some silly JOB. As luck would have it, I squatted with friends on Biltmore and Columbia in my first week and my tryst with Tryst (could I avoid the pun?) began. It was exactly the magical, caffeinated dream I sought: Cozy ambiance; a perfect work space for students and writers; a neighborhood joint; and damn fucking good coffee.

Here are the top ten reason I love Tryst:
1. Cappuccinos
2. The Portia sandwich (heavan)
3. Everything served with Nutella
4. The Cuban Coffee
5. That orange juice and cardamom infusion tea thing (so classy!)
6. Chai Tea Latte (the best in the city; only the fallen Sparky's could challenge it)
7. Iced Green Tea (garnished with a piece of pineapple)
8. Lemon Poppyseed waffle
9. All the other waffles
10. I can sit for as long as I goddamn please

Despite your pissyness about Tryst---how damn impossible it is to get a seat, confusing table service, how easy it is to feel ignored or forgotten, and your issues with it being "sceney"--I will argue that you need to get your issues and your shit together.

My tips: Go during the day, know what you want, waive to your waiter when you want something else or the check (they prefer it to reading your mind), and smile. (It's hard for the waiters, too... just so you know.)

Here's an apt pledge from their website:
"The French have their cafes, the English their pubs, the Greeks their tavernas and bodegas; what do we have in America? Somewhere between home and work we all need a ‘third place’ to go -- where we can escape the stresses of everyday responsibilities but still connect (with high speed internet access if you choose) to the outside world. Tryst is defining that third place for us."

In case you didn't realize the additional and crucial (in my case) true brilliance of Tryst COFFEE: Tryst serves Counter Culture Coffee, which is one of the most respected coffee rosters on the East Coast that delivers to all the top coffee counters in D.C.--such as Murky, Big Bear and Dolcezza. Counter Culture epitomizes sustainable and artisanal coffee as a company motto. David Fritzler of Tryst works diligently to select the best crafted coffees for your Tryst consumption, which are brewed to perfection every time. And lets talk dirty about the espresso: the perfect pull of the shot, savory and sweet creme, the exact temperature for silky-smooth froth in the milk-based drinks... like a tall, hot drink of milk that you never saw coming because you had no clue what real, sultry, naughty coffee pleasure was in the first place....

Plus, I love the staff! Can I give a shout out to Aya, David, Kat, Stephanie, Orlando, and Jocelyn! They've been there at least five years or more--as long as I can remember--and they know their shit.

So don't crowd my space, but let's give some proper cred to Tryst.

Cork on 14th

By the way.... I was buying my cat all-natural food and took a little peak into the new Cork Wine Bar, which I've been waiting for forever, to find all the paper gone from the windows and a seriously cozy, brick and tin/steel interior. I'm so excited! I heard Ron Tanaka, former sous chef of CityZen, was to add to the deliciousness. Turns out the place opens tomorrow night--ahem, I didn't get any word from the Cork newsletter!--and could take some well-timed reservations for a table. To somewhat fill the "neighborhood bar" niche so desperately missing in D.C., will they give preference to those living within a two block radius? Let's hope so.