My day in the District…

Some would say that I have a tendency to D.C. bash.  Some might be right. But, today I’m going to try to offer a fair and balanced view of our nation’s capitol. Here’s a day in the life, as told by my iphone3 photographs. #vintagetelecom

First, I tried to catch the train. D.C. has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to the metro. They’ll threaten your life if you drink your morning latte on your morning metro commute AND they always have those handy, dandy signs that tell you just when the next train is coming. Imagine my surprise when I reached the platform and found this: 
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I waited for a few minutes with the mob of people on the platform. Turns out that they were doing construction on the Virginia bound platform and trains in both directions were sharing the same track. Luckily, within just a few minutes the train came and the board changed. Mass confusion ensued:

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En route to Dupont Circle, which is on the infamous red line, I had the pleasure of taking a shuttle bus to try to get around Metro Center. Why around? Because, wmata decided to close its busiest station all weekend…IMG_0725

I eventually got off at Dupont Circle and had the pleasure of knowing that if I wanted to buy a pack of Newports at this gas station, I could actually take out $9 whole dollars to make the purchase. Who needs even numbers anyway? IMG_0711

I ate – guacamole – and drank – Diet Coke – at Lauriol Plaza. And honestly, I wish my iphone3 took better pics in the dark, because there were some fashionable folks coming in the door. And everyone knows that I don’t dole out fashion kudos easily. Alas, on the walk back to the train, I stumbled past an institution that I’d heard about in books and on cnn. Who knew that the German Marshall Fund was just blocks away from Dupont Circle? This is one of the perks of living in the epicenter of political power. You learn something new every day!IMG_0709

Since today was quite nice, I figured I’d roam around the city some more and soak in the sun. D.C.’s weather has been having serious mood swings lately. Just think, the temperature today was in the low 50s. Just Monday we had a snow day!
And the streets looked like this:
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Anyways, the snow is behind us, so there’s no better D.C. haunt on a Sunday than the flea market at Eastern Market! Today, I discovered that a Huffington Post Poll named this flea market the 2nd best in the world. I still can’t find the poll to determine which is first or first best or best – however you’d say that. This sign vaguely reminded me of that time that I was in the IGIA Airport and they had a sign that named the airport the 2nd best airline in blah blah blah… you should re-read the post to recollect. (This isn’t the HuffPo poll that this market is mentioned in as 2nd, but here is a recent HuffPo review of world flea markets, in case anybody is interested: http://huff.to/1fiDyXb) IMG_0713

I loved to see that vendors I love still have booths and are still doing well. I dropped by the BAMI booth and it was nice to see a friendly face. Though I didn’t buy any new soaps today, I’m now kinda regretting that decision. I also saw a few home decor must haves at Olde Good Things, but I’m often shocked by their sticker prices – especially at the Manhattan store – so I didn’t dare browse too seriously. Anyway, I did nab a whole gaggle of scented diffusers from CandlesbyGeeda.com! I was the lucky buyer-beneficiary of a scented oil that smells like man. Yes, people, man! I’m so excited I could do a dance. IMG_0715

I found two new booths that will become my new regulars. Well, maybe they’re just new to me, which isn’t saying much. But, I loooveeeddddd the goodies I bought from Was Paper. I’m going to tell you what I got, but please hold your horses. Don’t be copy cats and try to have a safari fridge theme in your house too. Get horses or elephant’s butts (yes, she has those too!) or anything else other than my beloved rhino. Consider this a warning…

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And just as I mustered the will power to walk past this sign and not give in…

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… i found Mirasa! The lovely woman at the booth was already packing up, but she didn’t seem in the least bit perturbed when I started digging through the bib box. I noticed her accent and was so enamored when she said she was from Bombay (only Bombay people call Mumbai Bombay. That’s an insider tip!). I LOVE Bombay! Turns out she came to the U.S. to study at F.I.T. and found her husband. I can relate, since I went to India to work and found my fiance. I told her that I got engaged in front of the Gateway of India in her hometown of Mumbai AND I went to college in NYC too! #smallworld

Honestly, after weeks of feeling disconnected and misunderstood in D.C., this conversation was a light in my lonely heart. It was lovely to find someone who also understood the craziness of the Delhi I left behind – its positives and its negatives. It was really cool to connect with a perfect stranger and to feel so familiar with her personality and her designs.

Bombay has a booming design scene for fashion, housewares, art and more. In fact, since I haven’t been to Helsinki yet, I’d argue that it’s one of the best places to find innovative contemporary design. Alas, underneath a string of baby bibs and onesies, I found that Delhi wasn’t so far away and D.C. might not be so bad after all.

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I pressed on and tried to avoid the rest of the tempting vendors…

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I navigated my way back to the metro…

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I made it back on to the train and decided to stop at Chinatown for a peak around…

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…but it was reaching the doggie’s walking time, so I headed back to the far, far, away land that is Northern Virginia. I left D.C. behind somewhere in the wmata space after Foggy Bottom, before Rosslyn and underneath the Potomac river.

THE END.

From LA to L.A. in 30 days

From this blog you might get the impression that I am a world traveler. This is only partially true. I am often on planes traveling to obscure corners of the world and griping about the lack of vegetarian food along way. But, the map of my travels would show that I’ve done the bulk of my globe trotting around the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, there are huge swaths of my own country that I haven’t seen. Every election year, I’m dumbfounded by just what’s going on in the middle of the country. I completed Buzzfeed’s ‘What city should you actually live in’ poll and I got Portland. I had to google where Portland was. Sad, but true.

I’ll have you know, though, that I do not take lightly gaps in my travel portfolio. So, I spent the last month visiting friends and family in the United States. Only the United States. No going a’foreign for me! In that four weeks, I covered from sea to shining sea, literally. Most of these cities I had been to before, but that’s beside the point. Making the deliberate choice to stay within the confines of the 48 contiguous was huge for me. And since it had been years since I’d traveled to some of these destinations, it was like discovering them all over again.  You’ll remember my last trip to New Orleans was over two years ago. And though I’m a frequent visitor in New York City, I fail to blog-scrutinize it as if it were a ‘destination.’  Well gone are the days when I undervalue all things domestic. I’m going to hit you with the highlights of my month of American couchsurfing.

Newark (2014)Destination 1: Newark, NJ, Last visit: October 2012, Highlight: Family time! Down side: Chris Christie’s political career imploded. Sights worth seeing: Newark Museum

 

Destination 2: New York City, NY, Last visit: October 2012, Highlight: Having post-birthday celebrations with CharlieDown side: Didn’t get to make it to Harlem. Sights worth seeing: The Whitney

IMG_0091Destination 3: Washington, DCLast visit: October 2012, Highlight: Brunch! Down side: Most of my friends who like to party have moved. Sights worth seeing: Rock Creek Park

 

 

Destination 4: New Orleans, LALast visit: July 2011, Highlight: Reunion with Alyson & Chlovah! Down side: It was friggin’ freezing. Sights worth seeing: Antique Bookstores

DSCF3001Destination 5: Los Angeles, CALast visit: December 2008, Highlight: A day at Matador beach in Malibu with Leah! Down side: I’m convinced that most people in L.A. are delusional. Sights worth seeing: Cirque de Soleil

 

Destination 6: Arlington, VA, Last visit: October 2012, Highlight: I have my own apartment and my dog is here too! Down side: I live with my co-workers. Think: bad episode of “Real World – Federal Employees” Sights worth seeing: Pentagon Row

Washington, DC

DC is all about lovers and friends. You have them or you don’t. You’re solidifying connections or on the prowl. You live near them or, in your quest to approximate, you haunt the metro by day and pray for cabbies by night.  By my estimation, about 20% of people move to DC for a significant other whose employment is grounded here in the District or surrounding DC, Maryland & Virginia areas (lamely referred to as the DMV). The other 80% of us cut out the middle man and dive face first into our jobs. While what brought us here and what keeps us here may be a government paycheck (or a paycheck from some other institution that prides itself on being anti-government, but can only exist because of the government… I digress), what makes the experience bearable are the relationships we hone.

When I first moved here, I hated it. Now, I still hate it. MESSAGE! But, what I hated most when I first arrived was the fact that people introduced themselves with their resumes. What happened when I dared to be so bold as to not wear my employer on my sleeve? Either, I was (1) voluntold to answer the question or (2) outed by one of my friends or co-workers who thought my job was cool, impressive or otherwise relevant to the conversation. And, at the end of the embarrassing jig, these people still could not pronounce my name. So, after almost 2 years here (lord, help me), why do I still find it oxymoronic that in the superficial, politically correct, networking capital of the world relationships take the cake?

Let me explain. In my humble experience (read: gospel truth), people who find this way of life repugnant form bonds with those also allergic to DC’s politically public and pretentiously frequented spaces. Through college alumni connections, mutual friends, social networks, or community events, we seek out the other wall flowers, the anti-social, the non-believers and we do the unheard of… we stop networking. We try hard to come home after work, and live the rest of our lives. We don’t talk to the girl from the mail room just because she happens to be walking out of the front door at the same time as we are; we acknowledge her, but only launch into conversation if we genuinely are interested in getting to know her. We throw out the idea that we should keep Pompous Pete’s business card from High on-the Hill, Inc., just because he can do something for us in the future. Instead, for people like me, D.C. after 7pm and before 3am turns into a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ search for people who are genuine.

Once you find them, I can’t guarantee that their political beliefs, sexual behaviors, eating habits, ethnic identification, economic status, educational background or support for the Redskins will mirror yours. But, I can bet you 2 DC United tickets and admission to The Park that you all will be equally as busy and that squeezing each other into life outside of work will be like trying to get from Foggy Bottom to BWI on a Friday at 4:30: a long and hard road. What I’m trying to say is that finding real friends here can be hard, but making time to enjoy them is much harder. And the same applies for those single like me, who are finding time to date or finding time to pretend that we don’t have time to date.

I’ve come to think that DC residents are often trying to find some bit of a genuine human connection in this conservative city that’s little understood and politically artificial. A paycheck is never enough, but that’s the only thing consistent in this town. So, it only makes sense that how one earns it can be defining. And let’s face it, a lot of people move to the nation’s capital because being an amateur politico flunky turned incumbent insider is really their life’s dream. Whether Huff Po is your schtick or HIV/AIDS prevention is your passion, everybody here works too many hours to not have an outlet.  All of our jobs are too stressful not to have someone with whom to go to happy hour or to plot the next day’s sabotage of a co-worker.

DC is defined by this quest to find these people, these friends, these lovers, these love-worthy DMV residents who understand that you are worth more than your security clearance, the degree you’re pursuing, or the money you make. You have a name: that is printed just as clearly on the front of your business card as on the numerous DC traffic camera tickets you will inevitably receive by mail. ARGH!