Tagged: Washington DC

What I’m Into, April 2014

Wow, April.  I can’t believe it’s over and I can’t believe we survived.  After nearly seven months of winter isolation, I got out and about A LOT in April.  It was incredibly fun.

What I’ve been up to:

We spent a weekend in Washington, DC, with our very best friends.  It was so lovely to see them all and to celebrate birthdays and first-zoo-trips and drink coffee at my favorite coffee place ever.


The following weekend I rented a car and drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Festival of Faith and Writing.  It was weird and awkward and wonderful.  I met some really lovely new friends!

ffw dinner group!

Kristin from halfwaytonormal.com // Brenna from brennadambrosio.com // Emily from emmillerwrites.com // Anne from modernmrsdarcy.com

I loved so many of the sessions, but I really started feeling my writerliness in a session with Peter Orner (a non-practicing lawyer who is an MFA professor in San Fran and is from my city!).  His novel Love and Shame and Love is set in Chicago and is waiting for me to finish up a few other things I’m reading.  I’m so excited to read it.

Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner

Love and Shame and Love, Peter Orner

Sometime that week we also made it to our first Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  The next weekend was Easter Sunday, and we spent the holiday with my friend Brenna and her lovely family.  One of her three daughters sat in my lap all day (except for the parts where she was throwing up everywhere) and H and I both felt like we belonged.  Brenna set a lovely table as well:

Easter Meal

Because we spent so much time out of town this month, it’s been hard to do all of the things I really love to do — such as staying at home in my jammies and watching lots of television.  I’ve seen the season finale of Scandal but I’m still a little behind on all of my shows (which is probably good since the season finales leave me with nothing left to watch all summer!  I should probably try to spread them out a bit, but I’m pretty sure I won’t.)

Instead of a subject-by-subject breakdown of the month, here are a few random things I’ve loved this month:

  1. Dark Chocolate Chili Almond KIND bars.  Holy cow they are delicious and only 200 calories.
  2. Eating healthy(ish).  It’s a work in progress.

  3. Kappa Delta.  The Illinois-Wisconsin State Day was last weekend and it was so fun to attend!  I’d never been to a state day before and I didn’t know how adorable it would be to see my Kappa Delta sisters celebrate 50+ years of sorority membership.  They are a d o r a b l e.  And also, smart and kind and funny and stylish.  And even more – seriously, there’s more – they had Midwestern accents.  I nearly died of happiness.

  4. Body shop bath products.  On a related note, I won a raffle for coconut-scented Bodyshop products and they. are. awesome.  I’ve never been one to spend a lot of money on fancy shower/bath stuff, but my showers have been quite lovely this past week!

  5. Pitch Perfect.  I mean, I think that movie is on TV every single day, but the thing is: it is hilarious every single time.

6.  FUMC at the Chicago Temple.  I have so many notes in my journal and things to write about how lovely it has been, but without getting into all of that, it’s just basically the greatest church I’ve ever gone to.  I can really focus on the sermons and enjoy the services because I’m not counting grammatical or historical or factual errors or constantly crossing and uncrossing my legs to distract myself from completely inappropriate comments about poverty, race, or gender.**  It’s really what I’ve been needing and I’m so glad we found it.

  1. Edward Gorey.  Do you guys know about Edward Gorey?  I totally didn’t, and then I went to this Goreyesque event and I fell totally and completely in love!  Apparently Goreyesque is a celebration of funny morbid creative things, like a short story written from the perspective of a recently deceased seventeen year old who makes fun of his sister’s vapid friend while watching his sister wrestle with the details of his suicide.  Which was sad and hilarious.

8.  Me.  Is that weird to say?  This month I’m totally into me.  I’m into goal setting, I’m into believing in myself, I’m into my writing and my blogging and my spiritual development.  I’m also into my brain: I went to a lawyer training event one afternoon and for a few hours remembered how fun it is to think about the law and how much I love doing that.  So that’s cool, right?  I’m kind of into me right now, and working hard to take care of my whole self (brain/heart/body).

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for you this month!  How are things in your world, and what have you been loving this month?  Leave me a note here or join the link-up over at Leigh Kramer’s blog.

What I'm Into Link-up LeighKramer.com

What I’m Into Link-up

** I’m not blaming other churches for my inability to fit in, but I am excited to have found a congregation where I can be myself.  If you’d like to let me know that feeling these feelings or thinking these thoughts in church is my fault and not the church’s fault I’m happy to receive that feedback below.  Thanks in advance.  ;)


DC Weekend Play-By-Play


It’s weird, how they say you can’t go home again and yet — you can.  You just purchase a plane ticket and pack a bag and there you are.  This weekend we traveled back to Washington, D.C. (our home for the previous five years) and spent a few days in our favorite city, visiting with our favorite people and eating at our favorite places.  This isn’t a recipe for a perfect tourist weekend, but here’s a DC resident’s perfect weekend in our Nation’s Capitol.

FRIDAY NIGHT:  land in city and sleep in the guest room of your bestie’s house.

SATURDAY MORNING:  eat Bethesda Bagels.  Recommendation:  bacon, egg, and American cheese on an everything bagel.  Grab coffee at Quartermaine next door.  If you go with a friend one of you should order coffees while the other stands in line for bagels because, unless it’s snowing or raining the bagel line will be out the door.

SATURDAY ERRANDS:  close your old bank account.  Or, you know, whatever.

SATURDAY MORNING HANG-OUT: meet your best law school buddy for coffee at Politics and Prose Bookstore‘s Modern Times Coffeehouse, the place where you studied for all of those finals before they instituted completely unacceptable laptop policies that ruined everything forever.  Recommendation: London Fog.

SATURDAY LUNCH-ISH: brunch/lunch at Open City in Woodley Park.  We learned that the music makes babies dance.  The service can be a little slow so make sure to tell the waiter exactly what you want the first time.  Recommendation: Greek Pizza, BLT, iced mocha.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON HANG-OUT:  Smithsonian’s National Zoo.  Avoid boring pandas but be sure to see the Lions.  They are awesome.  Best part of America are the Smithsonian’s river otters.

SATURDAY DINNER: Coal Fire Pizza in Gaithersburg. Recommendation:  Dark and Stormy, Ring of Fire Pizza (Italian sausage, banana peppers, and spicy marinara).

SATURDAY POST-DINNER:  Celebrate your friend’s birthday back at her house with carrot cake and red wine.  They are a perfect pairing.

SUNDAY MORNING:  Grab a coffee and cheer for your husband and friends as they run a ten mile race around the National Mall.  Take in the monuments for a bit while it is sunny and relatively warm, but head toward brunch by 10:30.  It’s definitely time to eat.

SUNDAY BRUNCH:  Ted’s Bulletin on Barracks Row is a bit of a wait, but totally worth waiting for.  Recommendation: homemade poptarts (strawberry is the best), sausage biscuits and gravy.  If you’re lucky you’ll see the cadets marching around with their giant guns.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON: After a shower for the runners, head down to H Street to hang on the back patio of the German Biergarten.  Recommendation: the hefe-weizen that is “very carbonated,” pretzel buns with mustard.  The mustard is the best part.

SUNDAY EVENING: Return the rental car and grab your last dinner at The Silver Dinner, airport edition.

We landed in Chicago late Sunday night and it was technically early Monday morning before we were back in our Condo in the South Loop.  We both worked today and we are exhausted, but our wonderful weekend was worth every minute.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 3.1.2014

Five 2

Well, we’re a day late and a dollar short with Five Things this week.  I haven’t been reading and saving blogs at my typical frequency because I’ve been, well, doing other things.  However, while it is Saturday instead of Friday, these links are still just as awesome as they were yesterday, and I hope you enjoy them!

1.  How to Improve your Presentation Skills — without an eccentric professor vibe.  I read Ask A Manager almost religiously.  So many things that I didn’t understand or did wrong in the first year of my professional life could have been avoided if I’d read all of this first, and so I make sure to check in each day to AAM as well as to skim through the comment sections.  There is so much good information in here, and the comments on how to be a better presenter do not disappoint.  My two cents:  you make a presentation for an audience, not yourself, so think about what they need to know, not all of the things you have ever known so you can prove to everyone how smart you are.

2.  When this is all I have to say about Jesus and religious freedom, by Preston Yancey.  I don’t know Preston, and nearly every time I comment on his blog it somehow gets a-w-k-w-a-r-d, but some people who I love know him in real life and call him friend, and I can see why.  I’m so glad to hear him and other popular internet people speaking love.

Will bakeries be declining to make cakes for gossips and slanderers and the proud also?

If so, then my wedding is tanked.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I would bake the cake.

And I think Jesus would too.

I operate from the premise that Jesus is kind.

3.  Discuss: The Empty Hearing Room, at Capitol Hill Style.  I love it when Belle gives an insider’s perspective on how things work ‘on the Hill,’ and this post is a good one.  It is shocking to see how empty hearing rooms are on Capitol Hill — I too have visited a session to see a senator making a speech to basically no one — but while it seems weird it actually isn’t:  she is getting her words on the record and that’s what counts.

4.  The Lectionary and a Legacy: A Letter to Myself, by my friend Caris Adel.    Caris is knocking it out of the park these past few weeks, as she wrestles with being white and privileged.  I’m sticking with her as she journeys into her history, which is also my history.  Only good can come from asking these hard questions.

5.  How to Create a Progress Gantt Chart in Microsoft Excel 2010, a video by Euguene O’Laughlin (YOUTUBE).  If you follow me on Facebook you heard already how I successfully made a beautiful Gantt diagram in excel this week, under the auspices of ENGLISH MAJORS CAN DO ANYTHING.  If you’d like to know what that is, or how to do it yourself, watch this short video that taught me how.

Tuesday’s Lunch Break: Mentos, DuPont, and Chili Paste

So sometimes you just have to break out of the office and take a stroll.  Now that I’m working near the Farragut North metro stop, walking outside is way more entertaining.  Not that walking past a bunch of federal buildings that all look exactly the same isn’t entertaining, but the beautiful combination of shoppers + workers + tourists + homeless people + restaurants and embassies and happy hours is a good time.

Today I had a phone call with a troublesome client struggling with depression and really needed something happy.  So, I got lunch from my “favorite place” across the street, Suki Asia.  And I use those quotes because it is not honestly my favorite place, but it is my favorite place where you can get bibimbap and miso soup for $5.99 in Washington, D.C.  Legit.

Good looking, right? It’s rice, bean sprouts, unidentified green veggies, lettuce, carrots, egg, and marinated beef with chili paste. YUMM.

I wanted to eat outside, but Longfellow’s benches looked a little crowded.

So I headed up to Dupont Circle to eat there instead.  And while there was an ominous rain cloud hanging overhead for a while, no rain drops fell on my lunch and it was an all around fantastic choice.

Sorry these photos are so awkward, I was just using my blackberry like a total dork. I need to get an iPhone but I HATE TOUCH SCREENS. Oh, that was a tangent. Anyway…

DuPont Lunchtime was made even more fantastic by a Mentos freshmaker!  Okay, not going to lie, I just made that name up.  She was just a girl who wandered aimlessly like a bad drug dealer and tried to give people free candy.  People do not always take free candy from strangers.  It is the city, you know.  There’s still a chance the mentos roll she gave me is full of heroin or something. 

While I’m pretty sure she wasn’t technically a “freshmaker,” I am absolutely certain that pass-out-free-samples-in-the-city-minimum-wage-employees should be called freshmakers from this point forward.  Freshmakers are the-bomb-dot-com.  Yes, my husband actually uses that phrase a lot.  Side note.  

So I ended my lunch with two free rolls of mint mentos!

ha! freshmakers are awesome!

And I was totally stoked until I realized that she gave another guy FRUIT Mentos, which are SO much better.  And then I was bitter for about four-fifths of a second, until I remembered that these candies were free and that I shouldn’t be such a whiney baby.  So then I was happy again.

Thanks, freshmaker!  You rocked my lunch break. 

Going into debt: my story (abridged version)

I’ve been thinking a lot about student loan repayment since I started my research about how it works, and while I don’ t have another “gripping” (ha!) installment of SLR information for you today, I wanted to share what’s been on my mind.

I keep remembering a conversation I had with a beloved political science professor during my last semester of undergrad.  This was that professor that would really engage conversations, and argue and force you to think things through.  I mean, luckily most of my professors were “liberal” in their belief that students should think critically and come to their own conclusions about things.  I’m pretty sure that most days my professors thought I was completely insane and laughed at my ridiculousness and then went home and prayed for my soul… Other majors at my conservative religious private school were not so lucky, and doctrine/dogma was heaped upon them.  Not me.  Praise God for the liberal arts: for the weird, history-challenging, rhyme-busting men and women who taught me to think.  Unfortunately this specific professor tended to get the brunt of my crazy arguments, the ones I hadn’t thought through and that often made absolutely no sense — the ones where I struggled against the church and its oftentimes ridiculous approach to politics.

While sitting in his office to discuss my law school plans, I was explaining how excited I was to have been accepted into my future law school alma mater in Washington, D.C.  It went something like this:

Me:  I think I’m going to go to DC.  It’s where I want to be.  It’s the kind of school I want to go to.

Beloved Professor (BP):  I see.  How are you going to pay for that?

Me:  Loans.  

BP:  [eyebrow raises]

Me:  No, seriously, it’s how you pay for law school.  They don’t give scholarships like they do in college, because everyone is supposed to have a  stellar academic record.  I’m getting a half-tuition discount and that will be enough.  

BP:  What about living expenses?  It’s expensive to live in D.C.  

Me:  It will be fine; I’ll get a roommate.  [I did get a roommate.]  I’ll make it work. 

BP:  You should probably reconsider how you feel about the University of Tennessee’s program.  Isn’t it a lot cheaper?  [Yes, only $12,000/year after my scholarships were taken out. . .  But I had attended a sample class there and I’d hated it.  No one had raised their hands when the professor had asked questions.  Students spent more time on Facebook than on class discussion.  If only I’d known that’s what every law school is like in those mass classrooms.]  

Me:  Look Dr. ——, stop killing my dreams.  I think this is really what I’m supposed to do.  Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts and have a little faith!  This is where I need to be.  

BP:  Okay, I hear you, but I just want to be certain you are being realistic.  These loans aren’t just going to disappear. . .

I remember this conversation vividly, although the details of what he said and what I said are completely made up.  Who knows what we really talked about.  What I remember is that by the time the conversation was over, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to go to DC and live this experience.  And I remember being sad that this dream wouldn’t be easy to pay for, and that the people who cared about my future couldn’t be as excited as I was about this opportunity to soak up learning because they could also see how hard it would be to pay for.

I learned that my commitment to following this inner direction [God’s will? Hard to say, but maybe so… Actually, I really do think so, but I’m not always sure how to tell] was stronger than my fear of debt.  

And now that I did it, and it’s over, and I’m paying for it, it is hard.  Not impossible,  certainly not easy, but a worthy sacrifice for a working, thinking, useful brain that can look at shenanigans, spot the real questions, and try to answer them.   

Waiting for the BZA

Today my friend and I woke up early, met at the metro, and traveled into the city with the morning commuters to see a BZA hearing in action.

Zoning and the underlying land use policy is one of my top five legal interests, and I was personally excited to see the Board in action. Further, one of my clinic clients is considering pursuing an application before the BZA, so observing the hearing setting and procedural format seemed like the responsible thing to do.

The hearing was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. It is currently 9:56 a.m. and while more than a dozen people are waiting the Board has yet to make an entrance.

An older man with hair as styled like Donald Trump is telling people that there is “a mammoth amount of corruption” among the BZA members stemming from the Fenty administration. A nice woman is asking every female in the room if she is her lawyer, because she cannot find the person she was supposed to meet. People seem nervous, but not highly prepared, as we continue to wait for the public hearings to begin.

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