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.

The Mysterious 98 Bus

Did anyone know this fucking bus existed??

I was hauling ass to one of those new wine bars to pop up in the city to meet a friend for a much needed after "work" drink, when I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to make it without some kind of motor vehicle assistance. Seeing as I had only $40 dollars to withdraw from my account, a cab was totally out of the question. It was raining, I was wearing dam cute shoes, my hair would be ruined in a matter of minutes, so my only option was to run over to U street and see if I could catch one of those buses I think heads straight out all the way to, like, North Capital.

When I get to the bus stop, I realize I'm a dime short for the new fair hike! I can either walk away defeated, the way I usually do when I don't want to ask people for money or beg to get on the bus, or I could beg to get on the bus for a dime short. The rain is wet. I decide to beg.

Then suddenly a small bus without any header, any bus number, and without the typical full-and-sweaty bus look of the typical U Street kind pulls up and lets me in. Something is odd, I think. I ask the driver if he heads across U Street. Yes, he says. For 25 cents. I'm thinking, I'm already ten cents short, and now there's some 25 cent surcharge? No... 25 cents is the fare, he says. That's all.

After some investigation, I learn this is the 98 bus, the Adams Morgan-U Street link, which has been running since at least last spring and covers the span of Adams Morgan from the Woodly Park station through U Street to 9th Street NW. FOR A QUARTER. So basically, I could hit all the good spots to get my drink on without a cab for A QUARTER. And I got a transfer.

Which is good, because it turns out that I was at the OTHER wine bar, not the one where my friend sat waiting for 30 minutes while I sat and got drunk waiting for her. Good thing I could hop on the link and head in the other direction.

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of My Life Address

Sitting at Tryst today, again, drinking bloody good coffee to finish up some writing before going to the gym and then heading out to hear Bush go on about loving america. Which reminds me... I remember a particularly ridiculous Bush S.O.T.U.A. day when I cried a lot at a bar after drinking many martini's. It was, in all truth, only somewhat connected to what was being said on television, therefore I had disappointment coming from many directions and suffered an all-around particularly pathetic state-of-my-life. Remembering this embarrassing little affair (thank god the bartender who handed me tissues that night soon left said bar, taking with him the only witness account!), it's hard to not look in the mirror each time this year and consider the present and how it compares to this day, one year ago. Let's see... unemployment has gone up, economic outlooks are spotty at best, but growth levels are good and could expand exponentially in short time. Morale is sensational all things considering, enterprising and educational investments are up, technical and trade stocks continue to rise. Personal investors are seeing the payoff of a delightfully less-bitchy me. Health and haircut are the best they've been in ages. All in all, a pretty fucking great State of My Life. Aside from Bush, of course.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Library, Meet Jobless

I got my very first DC library card yesterday. i wanted to get out of a weird funk from a very complicated week of ups and downs... you know, when you don't know which direction to go next. so i went to library. I showed my Nexflix envelop to prove my address and picked out the "adventure" style library card, though I saw too late that I could have chosen a green frog "hop into your local library" design. i asked a lot of stupid questions... "how do I find a book, some sort of decimal system?" and "does this mean I can reserve books online?" I imagined the librarian pegging me for a youngster from the digital age who's never entered a library, and wondered if we're only ten years away from this being a reality. I picked out a book I've wanted to read but haven't since I don't have a pay check to split with Kramers, as I used to. an acrid blend of sweat, body odor and something coveted deeply for years by the carpets filled all porous space including my new coat. a small price to pay for free literature.

I got a job this week, or a "gig" to be more appropriate, for march. I've been asked a lot by friends what this means for Jobless Girl in DC. I reply hastily that absolutely nothing has changed, this isn't a real job, I have to get projects to stay jobless, yada yada, don't you get it? obviously, it's complicated. A jobless manifesto should clarify everything... yes, yes... it's time.

Photo of the Day

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kimya at Crooked Beat

A shocking display of media power, finding such a huge line outside Crooked Beat last night to see Kimya Dawson. We remembered her little voice a few years back a la The Moldy Peaches and paired with some perfectly-matched cinematic moments by our friends from The Guatemalan Handshake. And then that other movie, Juno, came along and sent Kimya and Adam to The View and the top-ten list stratosphere of mainstream hell.

Eschewing all that, Kimya, on her walk into the shop, saw the heinous line of people outside waiting in the bitter cold without the slightest chance of getting into the crowded little record shop, and graciously squatted on an icy stoop to play a few songs for us poor saps. It was classic and oh-so NOT D.C., which we sure as hell need more of around here. Perhaps you were one of the lucky bastards to walk past and stop for a bit, wondering what in God's name was happening? You lucky, dirty dog. And, excuse me, where was this crowd was when Georgie James played Crooked Beat in November?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust: Dupont 5

Horror upon horrors! No one ever tells me shit around here.

I walked out of the metro at Dupont and took the "south" entrance, which is further from home than the Q Street "north" entrance but provides a little more entertainment.... I could make my leisurely walk past the cineplex at Dupont to see what was playing, maybe take a quick peak in Olsson's Books, and stroll through the ever titillating Dupont Circle to see what the dudes were up to.

Understand my utter shock, walking up the escalator stairs to the blinding midday light, my retinas finally contracting enough to make out images and details after a few steps down 19th street. And there it was.

Empty. Abandoned. I thought I had walked out of the wrong metro stop for a split second and was about to turn around. But it was real and constant. The familiar cineplex--the Dupont 5--the mistress of my midday affairs, without movie posters, the word "CLOSED" unceremoniously written out on the marquee, and foul little orange signs on the windows saying something polite and infuriating.

How did this happen? Is this for real? Why didn't I hear about this, why were there no protests, why does God hate me? Have I really not walked past the theater since January 13th? I watch movies here! Can we really take another blemish on the deteriorating, conquered callous that is the independent art scene in Dupont Circle?

Sure, the screens were miniature, the seats were short and cramped, I felt way too close to the runny nosed guy next to me, and the toilets could hold only two smelly people at a time. But I endured! I watched plenty of movies there because it was convenient, had small-time flicks, and it was local and mine.

This is the second theater to close in Dupont since I've moved here in early 2004. Visions Bar Noir, a fantastic though poorly executed cinema, bit the big one later that fall. (Sure, they could have reduced their filth quotient by a tad, offered more "Brown Bunny" and less "Monty Python" and replaced the surly staff, bit it wasn't so bad....)

In fact, after some further investigation, I found there was quite a lively art-house scene in Dupont circle in the late nineties. At least three theaters could offer off-beat, art house selections in the neighborhood: the Dupont 5, Janus 3 - which had a film club and midnight showings- and Embassy Circle, the precursor to Visions. Add to that two very popular houses in Georgetown, the Key Theatre and the Biograph Theatre on M Street, which focused on classic and foreign films, including Keislowski's Blue and plenty of Goddard. Amazingly, all of these, plus a few others--Outer Circle on Wisconsin, the Inner Circle on M street, the Foundry-- closed between 1996 and 2004 with the exception of Dupont 5. Key Theatre became Restoration Hardward on Wisconsin and the Biograph is now the unflattering CVS on M Street. Visions replaced Embassy Circle in 2001 to only to perish three years later.

To make matters worse, these were the last of the independently-owned theaters. A few were bought up by chains -- Cineplex Odean, Loews-- that were later bought up by even bigger chains--Landmark and AMC. Landmark's E Street Cinema, although indy in concept, ate up the independent competition. Now we're reduced to fight for a small movie houses even if it's corporate-owned, such as Dupont 5, property of AMC when it closed. But there is one more. The Uptown.

AMC owns the Georgetown 14, the lush Mazza Gallerie 7, Shirlington 7, the Uptown and others. No doubt AMC is moving from smaller movie houses to large multiplexes, as is the growing trend. The average AMC theater has 14 screens these days, a far cry from the 5 at Dupont and the one--ONE!-- at the Uptown.

What does this mean for the Uptown? Is it next? Can we really be forced into these vapid, overly-equiped mega-theaters? It's bad enough we have only theater chains to chose from but now we have to pack into shopping centers and distant neighborhoods without metro access.

Doesn't anyone else feel like there should be some serious hell to pay? I hope all you slackers are with me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mucking up a Job Interview Doesn't Help

I've had dreams like this before, nightmares set in an interview-slash-interrogation room, bright, exposing lights that set you up in a bad way. I forgot to wash my hair, it's ratted on top of my head and I'm still wearing my slippers. Damn. How did this happen? Wasn't I prepared? Every question is inaudible, and after a couple stammers, I start rambling about something, anything, until I can get the hell out of there.

My job interview this week was something like that.

I admit, I was completely unprepared, but I didn't realize it until after the interview. I could have read more about the company or understood their content better. I should have asked every single friend I knew there EXACTLY what they were going to ask.

....Or maybe I should look further back, to my childhood, when I began my destructive, procrastinating habits; or look to my gene pool for an overdeveloped sense of self-importance....

I haven't applied for a job in ages, probably three years, but that's not the matter. I just strolled right in (washed hair and pressed clothes) with what limited background I had in this line of work and left it all, once again, on my "personality" to cover up any rough spots. This plan has succeeded countless times before. But they had my number. They were more studious than I. They talk faster and don't care about personality or sensibilities. They are aliens from a completely different universe in my field--BROADCAST NEWS.

Back when I left a nature-friendly news show, I swore I'd never go into traditional news. I argued that news lacked perspective, it lacked--by definition--an opinion, which I have a lot of. How would that make me any different from a word processor?

A hint of that may have followed me into the interview. Could they smell me hating on their trade? The interviewer was an older, very smartly dressed man and his speech was as tidy and succinct as his slick, gray blazer. He was my nemesis and smartly dressed. I was thoroughly intimidated.

The problem was the translation--My version of being an evolved cultural literate who might consider a news job, translated to an idiot who can't read. I read "From Beirut to Jerusalem," what more is there? In all fairness, just so you know what I was up against, I was asked to discuss American-Iranian politics. All I could think of was my favorite Iranian film, Children of Heaven, and then I regurgitated some outdated headlines I had read in the Times and something idiotic about democracy.

I take this all as a good sign that news is not for me. I want to make films, so what does daily news have anything to do with that? In my complicated way, I saw the chance as a great segway, to be exposed to an exciting new perspective and more international culture. I could write and be paid for a steady 2-3 days a week. I would challenge myself and enjoy the daily turnover rate as a balance to the long months and years that can go into a film.

After the harrowing interview, despite (or exactly because of) my feelings of inferiority, I wanted the job even more. I just needed a couple more days of reading and a few ready examples of films I've analyzed that lend to this sort of news, and it would have been in the bag. If I had really, truly wanted it, or deserved it, I realize now that I could have been ready.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Photo of the Day

Freezing rain is no match for SUPER BOOTS.

Some D.C. News to Beat Snow Coma

Hey out there. Good morning (or afternoon for the rest of you.) Nothing like a little snow to make you want to curl up under a big, warm blanket, read and eat toast all day, huh? I can do that. But you, YOU, have to be alert and productive, which is very hard when you suffer from SNOW COMA.

So to help you fight the unflattering 'dumb head' effects of Snow Coma, I'll summarize a few highlights of what's happening out there that you can drop into conversations and appear to be 'with it' throughout the numbing day.

Anything to help, short of a hot toddie.

Mayor Fenti made a big dent in proposed taxi cab fares, dropping the staring price to $3 dollars, with an additional 25 cents for each 1/6 mile, and a complete drop-kick to rush hour surcharges and additional passengers. Citizens are thrilled, drivers are P.O.'d. President of the Taxicab Industry Group calls for weekly strikes for one full day from 7am to 7pm beginning February 4th. Read more here.

See what the Washingtonian says are the new 'Ins' and 'Outs' on the foodie front, especially if you're on your way out for Restaraunt Week and want to get the thumbs-up from the sommelier (key "in" word.) Some in/out parings to pique your interest: Hungarian wines oust Australian wines, chic cheese plates to cheese carts, lobster mushrooms to poached lobster, and take a half bottle over a wine flight any day... see the full list here.

I am soOO bad about keeping up with politics, I don't know how anyone can keep up, but there's nothing worse that not even knowing who's having primaries today and who said something clever yesterday, and who's winning. Until I found Citizen Jane Politics. The website began when founder Patricia Murphy learned that only 20 percent of women followed online campaign news but accounted for 55 percent of the voting population. Bad girl! Now you can keep pace with nifty daily highlights and coverage of the race that we women want to know.
A highlight:
"Barack Obama learned the lesson in New Hampshire that any Jane in the country could have told him, “As women go, so goes the state.” The Clinton and Obama camps are now signaling that the battle for the Democratic nomination will come down to who woos the women best. Let the race begin! [AP]"

So, Hillary Clinton picked up the flight attendant intercom and welcomed everyone to "Hill Force One." She warned that if polls dropped suddenly, they would be diverted to New Hampshire. If they looked to the right, they would find tax cuts for the wealthy and a war with no end; to the left, a sturdy middle class and a good international reputation... or something like that. Watch it yourself, it's sure to entertain.

Last but not least, the Library of Congress started their own Flickr site with rare and fantastic photos from their archive now available to the general public. They also hope people will can help catalog the images by leaving comments and tags. Visit the site here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Week In Review: Think Cheap and Sustainable

I hate to admit it.... but money's running PRET-ty thin, and in one direction: right out my senseless little fingers as if I had oodles of it coming from a generous, seductive little money fairy. This week was time to get serious on expenditures... and make a real budget and reschedule my day so that all my pricey little habits could be avoided. But then I bought a new pair of shoes and pants on Tuesday (they were on sale, I needed them).

I pledged to try again starting right then, and went straight to Dupont Circle to sit for free with the homeless people and ruminate on my potential future.

I thought, "Think cheap... free even." By god--I bet I could do the stuff I like to do for less or no money but I've been too lazy and too proud and too picky. I could have done this when I had a job. Happy hour specials, for instance... I should drink the happy hour wine instead of good, flavorful, full-bodied wine... if I must. I could also make my coffee at home though it's never the same, eat my lunch at home though I can't cook, watch movies at home on my smallish HD TV without Dolby digital surround sound... and NEVER LEAVE MY HOUSE.

I had a little time to think about things... life, the economy, the planet.

Wednesday: The warm wind blew through my just-washed hair, I was outdoors and happy and guilty and had the willies... because our planet is about to melt from the effects of global warming. I thought: Why can’t we all just buy TP made from post-consumer (recycled) material and use clear, reusable WATER BOTTLES and get the planet back on track? I vowed to do both, felt good about doing my part to save MILLIONS of gallons of oil and nearly half a MILLION trees, and was intent to spread the good word. The Washingtonian suggests clear Nalgene bottles (I like Klean Kanteen) and a purse made from bottle caps.

Why is it so damn expensive? Not only did Starbucks go up, like, 11 cents last October… now milk is more expensive per gallon than oil. How am I expected to have my two delicious cappuccinos a day in this kind of economy? I consider switching to maté
exclusively and decide I will sleep on it for a couple of months. In the meantime, I’ll go to a coffee cupping this morning.

I love movies nearly as much as Fandango loves me and those services charges... but I have to pay my cell phone before it's disconnected. So I need to find some free screenings. Saw Star Wars last night, for the umpteenth time. Two free movies on my list for this weekend: The fab Audry Hepbern in Charade @ the National Postal Museum; and The Gates--a documentary about those oh-so-quirky NY artists who did that crazy instillation thing in Central Park that one time a couple years ago and can explain it to us after the screening.

Boy, I sure hope this doesn't happen or things will really get tough....

With that in mind, a few no-cost events this weekend:

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Free screening of STAR WARS at Big Bear Cafe tonight at 7:30 pm.
(But you might want to buy a coffee or something....)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

D.C. Scorneth Again

If you have the time today, you should follow up on the city's most important news of the week: Is the Pantless Metro Ride scheduled for this Saturday for unoriginal sheep or self-expressing do-ers? Hipsters and uglies face off in a string of comments on BYT (Bright Young Things) that I blew a full 20 minutes on... do the same and enjoy... or puke.

Read it here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Very Jobless Resolution

Each year, I consider “New Year's resolutions” and usually start by deciding whether or not this year I think they're bullshit. Some years, I go with it. I make a short passable list of crap that I probably, actually, should do anyway--have a photo exhibit, learn French once and for all, apply to graduate school.

But let's face it--what's so great about January 1st and why must this be the time to make a change? It's an easy starting point, the beginning of a year, to not only compare ourselves to ourselves one year ago, but also to compare ourselves to each other. We can say, "I did this in 2008," ask "what did YOU do this year?", and then rejoice with eminence and nostalgia when the ball drops again. It's silly and I won't do it.

And then a thought occurred to me--a desperate hope of reason that might be behind this crackpot tradition: If we“improve ourselves" in unison at the new year... maybe... as everyone begins to kick righteous ass at the same time... in the end (it's possible)... we can create this magnificent change as a whole, en mass--a movement, a revolution!... and all be kinder, for example. World peace is within our grasp and I've been too stubborn and foolish to accept it. Ya, well... It's a nice thought and I wish it would happen, people, but let's get real.

In truth, I am in a constant state of “self-improvement.” Endless self-improvement. I demand a regular reflective moment, an annual thrashing plus a few lazy days of self-judgment along the way to dutifully keep myself in check. I have to keep my ego in check, my serious spending in check, my forward movement and goal fluidity in check. Normally, this depressing moment of truth is saved for my birthday, since the New Year has nothing to do with me and I like everything to have to do with ME.

Birthdays in my journal are plagued with the hideous ups and downs of the last year and the expectant, fluttering cherubs of hope and possibility for the coming months. I make an effort to report back to these pages and make note of any advancements, however unoften they're met with success. (Ahem... the examples I gave above were on my list from almost 2 years ago...)

But I've had a few breakthroughs, a few years with one or two substantial goals struck from the list like the tramps they are. A few years ago, I traveled abroad alone for the first time. Before that, I wrote my first television script for broadcast. Another year, I moved across the country. Last year, I swam in the ocean again and quit my job to finally make my own films.

I also did a few things I never expected to do but remembered as milestones in retrospect, like learning the most rudimentary, passable Italian and going to dinner completely alone... a new tradition. I’ve made friends with some very cool and unexpected people, and I've visited places I never thought I had an interest in, like Nicaragua and Sicily.

In fact, it's pretty goddamn fun to write down fleeting fantasies that spring into my gullible mind. Especially the ones that are at first glance completely ridiculous but also from a cruel source of credibility. A look back a year later will usually prove these were the real enchiladas. These triumphs confirm that my soul has not completely wimped-out to the schemes of my brain. I've also found the best stuff takes more than a year to materialize, which is fine, I'm slow, I can live with that.

That being said, I have a few thing I think I can“resolve" to change this year. For the sake of you readers (and for my current jobless situation that needs as many checks as possible,) I'll do it now and you can call them New Year's resolutions or whatever. My birthday hasn't exactly given me the results I've wanted, anyway.

My Current Resolutions:

I want to be nicer. Or something like that. I want to be a little less hostile, the poor saps who start up conversations with me at bars and or at the grocery store, or the homeless guy who always waits outside of CVS asking for credit cards, for example. To cheery, commercial holidays and non-recyclers. To things I don't like, basically, and can't bear to deny the satisfaction of letting my big mouth have a say. To networking, crowded happy hours and meeting people. To making passing eye contact with a guy and having the retard think I'm saying,“I want you.” Really, now!

I want to be more open with my friends, let them in more and feel confident enough to let out more of my crazy insides. I want to give them more hugs. I want to tell them stories. Do you know that in the past I've been told,“I like you better when you're drunk"? Yeah, well, that's so not true! Anyway... there's nothing wrong knowing you're most you at the Big Hunt... it's a cool place.

I want to buy less stuff. Seriously, this is a problem. THINGS are costly, they pollute the world... they bog down my free nature and impressionable spirit! This also makes sense, since I don't have money. My insatiable thirst for all things pretty and hip may inevitably prove this daunting. But I'm so dead-set on making a dent in the amount of consumption happening in this world, people, that I'll do it looking like a worn-out floozy if I have to. I hope I have your support.

I want learn how to surf and play the guitar.

I want to obsess more about music. I want to shoot a documentary about day workers who wait at street corners, and their families. I want to live in Cuba. I want to learn Arabic instead of French.

I want to conserve more, waste less, and protest lousy politics.

I want to meditate every day and find some serious tranquility.

I want to stay jobless and make a living. I want to get into grad school. I want to finish my short documentary by July and have a rough draft of a feature film by December.

I think--THINK--I want to dive out of an airplane.

I want to know more about people, suck them in, read their minds and express camaraderie.

I want to read this post a year from now and realized how much I've changed, and still unbelievably find myself the same, as always. Strangely, it's how I'll know I'm on the right track.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A day before New Years, drunk, in the back of a cab. I wondered, "What will the new year bring?" My cab buddy and I hoped it would include a lot of Beirut.