Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jack Rose: so much better than Titanic, OR "2 Years WASSUP?!"

I realized something this morning, as I was sitting in the eye doctor's office filling out paperwork -- today is my two-year anniversary of living in DC. (On an unrelated note, you probably shouldn't wait two years after relocating to find a new GP, dentist, eye-doc, etc. Doctors will scold you.)

All told, it's been a pretty zippy and fulfilling two years. I have a (mostly) stable job, wonderful housemates in a cute lil rowhouse (let's just skate over the whole mold thing), fabulous friends (remember when I lived in a cave and complained about my social life?), and am looking at getting another degree (apparently this involves studying for the GRE. Psh).

So thanks, DC, for being pretty good to me. All I need is my family and the mountains and I'd be set.

Since my 1-Year Anniversary Post was a mild tribute to Irish whiskey, why not continue along that theme?

There's a bar here in the District, called Jack Rose. It is not an homage to Titanic. It is an homage to all things whiskey. And I've had some pretty good experiences here, one of them just last week, which is close enough to serve as my annual nod to whiskey.

One of my best friends in the city is moving to Colombia for a Fulbright. (#baller) I promised her a Whiskey Education Night before she left, so on a quiet weeknight we tripped over to Jack Rose for the evening. Most of my knowledge I gleaned from working at my fine wine/liquor store, but if you're interested in a primer on whiskey, start here. And ignore the sexist title of the article. *grumble grumble*

We started with beer. Cuz you need something to sip on. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I get very animated (and, well, loud) when I'm excited about something, so basically anyone sitting near us could hear my whiskey spiel. The bartender had a little grin on his face, and the guy next to us (sitting alone, my age, and very attractive, not that I notice these things) was blatantly eavesdropping.

I get about halfway through my lecture, and the bartender approaches with two drinks. "Here ya go, ladies," he says, as we pick them up with curiosity. "Some of us bartenders are participating in a gin mixology contest for GQ, will you be our guinea pigs?"

Um, YES. I don't know much about gin and it isn't my favorite, but I'm not about to turn down free drinks.

We take our sips and the bartender asks for our opinion. "Well, to be honest," I say, "I think it's missing something." I give my recommendations, since Bartender was going for a gin chai flavor -- up the citrus, add more spices, maybe try a more floral gin to make it pop more. The cute loner leans in.

"Whoa." He stares at me with serious eyes. "That was incredible. Are you a professional?"

I laugh and explain the whole worked-in-a-liquor-store thing. Bartender raises his eyebrows and says, "I remember you! You've definitely sat at my bar before." [I have, indeed, dear readers. But that's a separate story.] Oddly, Cute Loner doesn't say anything more and returns to his burger -- gentlemen, *cough cough*

Just sayin.

We sip our gin and order some bourbon. Girl talk. Appetizer. Bartender brings us another, improved round of gin drinks. Cute Loner leaves, to be replaced by Gaggle of 4 Dudes. I order a Scotch. More girl talk. Another bourbon. Gaggle of 4 Dudes eye-flirts with us for a while, but we don't engage and they leave. Bartender brings a different gin drink. Another bartender wants us to be his guinea pigs, too, and brings over yet another gin drink. At this point it's late, we're almost the only ones there, and we've made friends with all the bartenders. There may have been more gin involved, I don't remember. One more bourbon and we're almost done for the night. We've probably been here for hours, I think.

"Excuse me," I hear a voice say from behind. "But have you ladies been here drinking whiskey for almost four hours?"


We turn. It's one of the Dudes from the Gaggle of 4 Dudes. "Um, yes," we say with slow grins. "Yes we have."

"That's AWESOME," he says. We exchange brief small talk and he explains that the Gaggle didn't leave, they just went upstairs. And that they all couldn't help noticing what beautiful blue eyes we each have, and how they couldn't stop talking about us once they got upstairs. I'm about to roll those beautiful blue eyes, but he interjects. "I'm not trying to be creepy!" he protests. "I'm actually married -- but I just wanted to let you ladies know that we think you're beautiful."

"Oh. Well, thanks," my friend and I say, genuinely appreciative. "We were actually just sitting here complaining about men, so....really, thank you. It means a lot."

"Oh, I'm sorry about that," he says. "I promise we're not all terrible. You ladies have a great night. And just know that you're appreciated." Then he smiles and leaves.

My friend and I turn slowly to each other. Well, that

Bartender comes over to ask what just happened. When we tell him he laughs -- "Are you kidding me?" -- and goes to fetch our bill.

Second shocker of the night: our bill, together, comes to a grand total of 20 dollars. WHAAAT.

We each protest, surely we ordered more than that and it's very sweet but we'd feel terrible not paying for more and we don't want to be those girls always looking for free drinks, but he overrides us, quite firm. "I don't remember pouring any more than that," he shrugs.

We stare, thank him profusely, and leave a very generous tip.

"See you ladies next week!" the bartenders all call as we gather our things. "You're regulars now, so you better be back!"

Oh, trust me, we will.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Fungal Affair

My housemates and I have planted a garden.

Townhouses in DC don't offer much yard space, but we have a modest little plot with just enough room for trash bins, a rangy rosebush, and a tired box garden that had clearly seen nothing but neglect before our arrival.

We ripped out the dried up tomato plants, tilled and mulched and etc, and sprinkled some seeds. Now we're nurturing carrots, beets, peas, arugula, spinach, basil, daisies, and marigolds. I've never successfully grown anything from seed before, but I would say we've seen raging success.

You may notice (or not, the pic is kinda small) that the beets refuse to be nurtured. No matter, I don't like 'em anyway -- instead, tonight I had a lovely arugula salad for dinner. Yummo.

You know what else we're growing? Mushrooms. You know where we're growing them? In our kitchen wall.

Situation: DC has experienced some heavy rains recently. (Welcome to spring. Yay thunder!) I had water issues occasionally in my old cave-like apartment, but have since then moved to a posh lil townhouse. Unfortunately, our new house has not proved exactly, um, waterproof? Let's just say an evening of games and guests turned into a frantic dash for towels and pots to catch drips.

The water damage is especially obvious in our kitchen, which was pretty terrible to begin with. Envision narsty pink wallpaper from the 60's, cobwebs that have fused to the surface in the humidity, grease stains splashed randomly here and there, and pink formica countertops with permament stains on them. Classy. Now add peeling narsty pink wallpaper to the mix, with dark blotches of water damage. KLASSY.

A contractor came to fix the leak. A few days later we noticed some wires poking out from behind the peeling-back wallpaper. Must be leftover from the contractor, I mused idly, grabbing an apple as I rushed out the door. Whatever, deal with it later. I kind of purposefully ignored the fact that wires poking out from a random pink wall with no outlets in it made no sense whatsoever.

Wires, amiright?!
Later that day, my housemate: "So, are those wires...or, something growing?"
Me: "Wires. They're definitely wires."
Her: "Are you sure?"
Me: "...Yes." *Leaves room abruptly.*

Upon closer inspection, they're not wires. They're mushrooms. Or fungi of some kind. And while I do love our garden, I don't want it that conveniently located. I prefer my veggies to grow outside. 

Landlord is on it, though. He's great. And I think when our back wall gets replaced, we'll be able to replace all the wallpaper. Win? I think so.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tips from The Sis

Hey guys, as some of you may know, The Sis is here in DC, too! As she is also living through the intern/extra job/no time cycle, I wanted to bring her in to share some advice. Read on for a guest post by The Sis!

Hello fellow blog-o’readers! I’ll start with two things—first, a welcome/thank you to Aftan and you, her dedicated (yes, DEDICATED—so spread the word!) readers on what may be the first of many guestspot blogs (spogging? Blottings? Hmmm…). Second, is an apology to Twin, since I’ve been promising her I would write a guest blot/spog  for….oh, about 8 months. *Insert wry—I mean, ashamed, very very ashamed face—here.*  Sowwy seester. *Sincere chagrin this time*

That being said, I’ll get write to it (see what I did there?).

I’m going to delve today into that messy, discontinuous, often painful, always transforming, unexpected, surprising, character-building experience we all face after college (or any other kind of school for that matter): getting a job. I know Twin has expounded on this before, her tips and her experience, expertly wielding both realism and hilarity, and maybe only a slight dash of hyperbole. I want to add to this topic, provide some advice that was given to me, as well as my own reflections on the matter now that I have been in this job-hunting underworld for over a year.

I moved to DC over a year ago, taking a stab in the dark and a leap of faith with an internship at an Undisclosed Relevant Organization (URO). To my dismay, the internship had been somewhat (read: a lot) misrepresented to me over my phone interview, and the job was nothing like I was expecting it to be. But I trucked through, despite my disappointment and dissatisfaction with the turn of events, determined to make what I could out of the experience.

Essentially, the experience was a very humbling one that taught me how to continue to give my best efforts for a supervisor for whom I held little to no respect or affability. This is, actually, a very, very important lesson. You may not always like who you work for, whether it’s your direct supervisor, CEO, or a lateral colleague in another department. You cannot let this affect your performance. No one wants a surly, unhappy employee, whether or not they’re justified.

One positive thing the internship did provide was some new connections to expand my network. Since Twin has amply dissected this topic, I’ll only add that she is absolutely right. In this day and age, in this city, it’s not really WHAT you know (although that does help!), it’s WHO you know. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve witnessed obtaining jobs because of who they knew already on staff. It’s important. Do it. You can’t get anywhere on credentials alone anymore—there are too many people with equivalent experience, and too few jobs. You need another foot in the door.

One of the people I met gave me his idea of some valuable fresh-to-the-job-market advice. I found his thoughts particularly helpful, which I will share. First, he recommended getting business cards. It’s an easy, smooth way to exchange contact information, and it avoids the awkward tackiness of “Oh, erm, let me scribble down my email address for you… Do you have a pen?”  You don’t need a job to have business cards

Or a pen. Get a pen.

So where can you pass out these cards? Why, at events of course! Policy events, social events, informational events, you name it! Also, who knows when a chance encounter on the metro can turn into a serendipitous opportunity? Got your business card on you? Sweet, now you look smooth, prepared, AND professional.

At these events will be like-minded people who usually have a job in that kind of field. Be personable! Chat them up! Keep your ears and eyes peeled, and start a conversation with someone next to whom you are sitting!

And try not to be too utilitarian. Beginning a conversation, even though, yes it’s DC and that’s how everyone does it, by asking what they do is obvious and can backfire, especially at such an obvious networking-potential event.

Instead, try to start a conversation through a back door. Show your interest in them as a person, not as someone you hope can do something for you. “Hi, I’m So-and-So. Pretty interesting so far, huh? I like what the speaker said about [fill in the blank]. …What brought you to this event? Oh, really? Tell me more. That’s so neat, I love work like that as well. I hope to work my way to [fill in the blank]. ” This works a lot better than, “So, what do you do?”

At the end of the event, maybe you can ask for an informational interview, to learn more about the kinds of things that person does, and their tips or thoughts on how to accomplish that. People are much more responsive to enthusiastic individuals sincerely interested in a conversation rather than someone who clearly just wants to use them to get somewhere else. Odds are, at the end of the interview, they’ll either offer to be of some help to you or perhaps put you in touch with someone who can. At the very least, they’ll remember you. Especially if you stay in touch with them (depending on the rapport established of course).

Connected to this is the notion of connecting over drinks or other casual settings—people are more relaxed, approachable, and communicative with a beer in their hand. So go to those networking happy hours! They exist for a reason! Whether it’s an organized young professionals happy hour (they exist all over) or just an informal outing with friends, go out. See and be seen. In a city of high stress, high tempo, high workload kind of jobs, most people loosen their ties and hairnets at a bar at the end of the day. Also, be open to events with people you might not know so well; they can connect you to other circles. You know that game, Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon? Yeah, well, it’s true and applicable.

Speaking of alcohol…. In addition to being a perfect wingman for happy hours, I might also recommend alcohol when writing cover letters. Cover letters should be passionate and tell the potential employer about yourself, but not in a boring, predictable, template manner. And sometimes there’s no better way to eschew over-formality and embrace creativity and flow than with a drink in hand. DO NOT BLAME ME IF YOU TAKE THIS TOO FAR. Discretion, people; we’re professionals.

Finally, faithful readers, find out what and who it is that does the kinds of thing you like. Don’t just think of the Big Name Places. Look at littler organizations. The organizations that may not be as well known—competition there might not be as fierce, either. Find those places that are in your field, find their offices, go to their events, talk to them. Be present.

That about sums it up for my first guest entry. I hope I’ve adequately been able to share some of the advice provided to me, and that you can take it and run with it, little peacocks. There is so much I could say on the matter, more heavily weighted in my own personal experiences and tips, but this is a nice start.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


So I went and read a bunch of other people's blogs over the past week, and I came to the conclusion that I will never write as deep or funny posts as some of them. In an attempt to make myself feel better, I thought I'd mess around with giving the blog a makeover. Like the rejected women of dating culture, I'd just go get my blog a new haircut or new gym membership and everything would be hunky-dory.

Big oops.

Kudos to women who got their new haircuts and loved them, but this is a bit of a hack-job. I was just browsing new templates, minding my own business, and saw something that looked like a "preview" button. Intriguing, I thought. I should just test this out.

Nope. One errant click of a mouse -- poof! Old style gone forever.

I had, like, 10 minutes to try and fix it yesterday, then I had to run out the door. Unfortunately I had to leave poor bloggie with its bangs all messed up, ends chopped unevenly. I've tried to restore some semblence of style (after blogger crashed no less than three times), but, um...well, it's not what I wanted.

Sigh. You'd think blogger would have some sort of list of your past templates or something. I think I saw a "download" button that would let you keep a local copy of it on your desktop? Whatever.

Part of the problem is I don't know what I want this space to look like. Suggestions? What makes a blog look professional, readable, and intuitive?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Okay. Hi Internet. Been awhile. How ya been? Cool.
You know what’s not cool? Job insecurity. Job insecurity during a recession (potentially The Recession?). I interned for a whole year after graduating – I scraped and clawed and brown-nosed my way to a steady paycheck, and no one’s taking that away from me. You’ll have to pry it from my white, lifeless fingers, and then you’ll have to sprint away because my zombie body will come to life and chase after you for it, arms outstretched, yelling, “My paycheck…my paycheck…” Maybe I’ll be one of those sexy zombies. They seem to have fun. They make movies n such.

(Do I have a flair for the dramatic? Just a tad. Ask my friends about it sometime.)


I’m not saying I’m in imminent danger of losing my job. *smoothes hair into place and pastes on confident smile* I’m just saying that my department is experiencing some changes in the next few months, and those months do contain the very, very small chance that I might get laid off. Needless to say, I’m dusting off my CV and doing some quiet searching for new opportunities.

But the idea of being thrown back into unemployment terrifies me.

Part of it would be great – sweatpants, mac n cheese, and sleeping in – but really. That’ll get old after, like, a day. Then I’ll be bored, miserable, and discouraged.*

For some reason I always figured that doing the intern/whatever job/60-hr week thing was a one-time thing, a pattern for a stage of life that would not need repeating. But I guess that’s no guarantee. If I lose my job and can’t find a replacement in time, I’m gonna HAVE to pick something else up. Girl’s gotta make rent.

This gives me a lot of compassion for workers in retail, restaurants, etc, even the people on the sidewalk with cardboard signs who we all rush past and avoid eye contact with – it’s so easy to let ourselves judge based on appearances. But really, we don’t know anything. Maybe s/he had a great job and got laid off. Maybe a family member had crazy health problems and s/he went into debt. Maybe s/he just likes working in a restaurant.

Point is, anything can happen to anybody.

You all know that Robert Frost poem? Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… Yeah, my high school had the last few lines of that poem painted on a stairwell wall. I stared at it every day as I trudged to Biology, honors English, and honors government (yeah, we didn’t have AP, podunk small town that we were). Sometimes the words annoyed me, but most days they simultaneously inspired and vindicated me in my nerd-dom: "Yeah! I’m just over here taking the road less traveled!"

I’ve thought about those lines a lot since I’ve moved to DC. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I/I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference.

They still assuage my troubled soul at times, but ya know what? Here, let me put it in words from our dear Kid President: “Two roads diverged in the woods…and I took the road less traveled…and it hurt, man! Really bad! ROCKS! THORNS! And GLASS! Not cool, Robert Frost!”

Kid President "Robert Frost" T-Shirt
Available at

Yeeeaaaahhh, dear ole Robbie forgot to mention that part. Rocks n thorns n glass n stuff. That’s what this whole “road less traveled” things is all about, huh?

Awesome. Lemme grab my hiking boots.

*[Editor's note: when I zapped this post over to The Sis for editing, she said, "haha, everytime you talk about job uncertainty, unemployment, being bored, miserable, discouraged, i [want you to] insert 'ie: my sister' *sad, slightly hysterical lawls*" Reprinted w permission, cuz there are no sissy fights here.]

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's late, but this is the Valentine's Day rant.

I would just avoid this subject entirely, but I hate to pass up an opportunity to be sarcastic and annoying.

Ok, folks, Valentine's Day.

Can I just share a few things that make me want to barf? Also, can we pretend I posted this last Thursday? Don't run for the hills, this post isn't the ranting of a cynical single gal who is secretly (yet publicly) bitter about her singlehood -- although that would be funny, right? And not overdone at all.

No, these are the rantings of a very content single gal (who may hold just a tad of bitterness every now and then, whatevs whatevs shrug it off) who feels ambushed every year by overpriced flowers, insincere cards, and those boxes of chalky-tasting candy hearts. 

Ok, no. I shouldn't be angry at these inanimate objects. Chocolate is meant to be eaten, not hated on. Ya know what I'm really ambushed by? Two groups of people.

The first is predictable, and I'm sure y'all don't mean to do it. But really, all you couples: you are adorable. You are. I applaud your right to hold hands while waiting for a coffee at Starbucks, it's cute that you're taking your time (and space) strolling leisurely down Capitol Hill's uneven brick sidewalks, I don't even mind the public make-out-sessions while I'm jogging around the monuments. Go for it, ye snoggers!

HOWEVER. Just because Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrating love (I'll come back to that in a moment) doesn't mean that the normal rules governing public displays of affection have suddenly disappeared. What this means for you: I know you want to stand next to your honey on the bus, or the metro, but dude seriously it's rush-hour and I'm being crushed by a wall of frustrated commuters and can you please just budge up there a bit? You and your boo can stand apart for a few minutes. Also, the Metro is not an appropriate (or sanitary?) space for a make-out session.

Group 2. All the single ladies! AaaaAAAAlll the single ladies, put yo hands up! (My parents will not get that musical reference, I'll explain it later guys. Also, thanks for letting me tease you online. Again.)

Single ladies. Stop hating on love. It's annoying. I know your heart was broken by That Guy, but c'mon now. Don't try and ruin it for everyone else. And don't try to pull us neutrals into your hate-camp, drinking martinis at the bar and snapping your fingers for "Another round!" while you list off all the annoying things about couples. Yup, some of those things ARE annoying. But I don't see how getting publicly drunk and belligerent will help. (It's totally ok to do that with your gal pals at home, though! *cough cough* I've never done that.)

I guess that brings me to Group 3. Bonus!

Hey, Commercialization -- you suck. You've taken something really beautiful, rare, and life-changing and reduced it to red heart-shaped balloons, frilly lace, a box of plastic-y chocolates, and requisite roses. "Hey, I love you today. Because it's February 14." What about all those OTHER days of the year? Isn't it just as important to love me on October 22? Feb 14 is a holiday that marketing companies have discovered they can use to guilt people into demonstrating affection -- and if someone forgets *ahem, guys* then BAM. You must not love me. And now I'm gonna be angry because you've forgotten it's Arbitrary Affection Day, and you're gonna be angry that I've forgotten all those other times you brought me flowers "just because."

Yup. Sure makes sense.

Furthermore, there are so many kinds of love. Feb 14 only showcases the soppy, happily-ever-after kind. What about sacrifical love? Or sisterly love? Or parental love? My parents have never failed to send me flowers on Valentine's Day, no matter where in the world I am.  But you don't see commercials encouraging you to tell your best friend how much you appreciate her.

Wanna read another excellent blog on this last point? Check it out: Love is Not Pretty, and It is Not Pink. Good read.

Ok, I think my rant is over for now. Cuz I'm tired and, ya know, there are fresh cookies in the kitchen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I've Discovered in the Last 2 Months

1. I occasionally have trouble motivating myself. I thought about forcing myself to write TV-show reviews in order to instill some consistency to this blog -- what's something that is fascinating yet terrible, trying to be serious yet easy to make fun of, and generally wants to make me run out in traffic? Of course, The Bachelor. But whelp, no fewer than four of my friends already write reviews. (They're hilarious, read here, here, here, and here. Yes, I consider Time Magazine a friend.)

2. Apparently, I currently live in a land of fantastical realities: even though half a million people live here, DC has no congressional representation; some people hate their job and yet pull 12-hr days; and the weather swings drunkenly from high 20's to low 70's in the course of 2 days.

3. The DMV area closes schools 2 hours early because there *might* be .5 to 2 inches of snow.

4. The DC/Maryland/Virginia area is sometimes called the DMV area. And saying it makes me feel like a boss.

5. Not going home for Christmas, to put it eloquently, really really sucks.

6. ...But an empty house, a crackling fire, a bag of BBQ chips, rye whiskey (my newest obsession), and bad Netflix Christmas movies can cure just about any bad day.

7. Hey, Inauguration is pretty cool. And intense. Cops and people, cops and people everywhere. Throw in some spicy and unsolicited political opinions, a bit of Barack's speech, a dash of Beyonce's pre-recorded voice, and one of FLOTUS Michelle's purple gloves, stir vigorously, and you've got yourself an official Experience.

The Sis' and my view from a ticketed area,
(cuz we got connections, yo)
in the furthest away of the ticketed areas
(so our "connections" weren't that great, whatever.)
8. I'm sure I've discovered a lot more, but I've also learned that on warm rainy nights I would rather curl up next to an open window, listen to the steady beat of rain on the sidewalk, and sink into a good book. Can you believe I've never read To Kill A Mockingbird? (My high school failed me. And I make a terrible college English major. Oops.)