An American Girl in Washington

Life on H Street

Posted in Just another day in DC by AGinDC on 31 January 2012

This weekend I moved to H Street NE. It was a devastating move. I really didn’t want to leave Columbia Heights. However, since I was absolutely devastated when I had to leave Adams Morgan (which I still miss and WILL get back to one day) and thought I hated CoHi when I moved there, I am assuming that pretty soon I’ll think H Street is the pants. Sigh. I hope so. Right now, it’s a little depressing. It’s soooo far away from everything. It’s mid-regentrification (rather than just-recently-regentrified like CoHi) which means I can’t help but think about the politics whenever I walk down the street, the closest metro is the red line (enough said), and because I’m now traveling 6 days a week I downgraded myself from my fabulous but expensive apartment to a cheap, windowless, humourless apartment. There will be no parties in this house. I feel like I’m living in a dorm room again, but at two-years-to-30, that’s not as much fun as it was back in the day. The good news is, I’m saving a ton of money, the other girls who live in the house are really sweet, and after less than 24 hours in the new place I know that I am ready for domesticity (the single kind Mom, don’t get excited). The better news is that I live in hotel rooms anyways so I just need to survive the trips to my insanely small bathroom and tears that fill my eyes whenever I look at my not-walk-in-closet on rare occasions. And, to top it all off, the reason I moved to H St was because I figured this was the perfect time to get to know a part of DC I might never otherwise live in and so I shall.

What I know about H Street so far:

  • The curious mix of herbal remedy shops with dashikis in the window, high end spas for six year olds and yuppie pubs has hitherto been unknown except in some small corners of Brooklyn circa March, 2003.
  • I am in Ward 6 (I miss you 1!!), more specifically, 6a, more more specifically, 6a06 (only DC could be this confusing). Andrew Hysell is my commissioner. I don’t know who he is, but he better not let me down.
  • I am very close to Fruit Bat, the only bar I know in H St, but one that I happen to really like.
  • I am also very close to Popeye’s. I have already eaten Popeye’s since the move. This is a problem.
  • I am also quite close to Taylor. I have eaten at Taylor. I like it. This is not a problem.
  • I am medium-far from Union Station, and it’s a decent walk with a long hill. This is a good thing. I like the exercise but I can still make it from home to the station with my suitcase obnoxiously rolling behind me.
  • I get live in “DC” rather than “Washington”

If you have any tips on awesomeness on H St that is not to be missed, let me know! I’ll be visiting as many as possible whenever I’m home and reporting back on what’s awesome and what, sadly, is not. I have been in DC for 18 months and this is my third address in my third neighborhood in my second ward in my second quadrant. I guess I’m going for the full tour!

Now though, I’m in Cleveland. Home of all that rocks.

That is all.

AGinDC

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Lisbon, Portugal

Posted in Travel by AGinDC on 30 January 2012

Last weekend, thanks mostly to Bloomberg Businessweek and the amazing fellowship they gave me, I went to Lisbon, Portugal for the Sandbox Global Summit. There were about fifty reasons that I was excited about this, and not one of them came even close to how incredible the experience actually was.

First of all, I have been lucky enough to have been to most of Western Europe (not Spain yet and it’s killing me). I had not, however, been to Portugal and had no idea why everyone who has been there seems to be so in love. Well now I know.

Lisbon is covered in cobblestone streets, rolling hills, and beautiful buildings with iron gates and balconies. The government cares deeply for preserving the beauty of Lisbon. In the 70s, a man who is probably under the jail right now was going bankrupt so he burnt down his warehouse. Unfortunately, he took several city blocks with it. Rather than rebuilding with awful, ugly modern buildings in the center of town, they rebuilt the city exactly the way it was except with modern amenities like, you know, central heating. So now, walking through the beautiful shopping district, you can’t tell at all that the buildings are brand new. How many other governments would do that?

In the same spirit, the city of Lisbon was extremely kind and welcoming to the Sandbox summit because they are working hard to make Lisbon an entrepreneurial hub. Honestly, I can’t imagine they’ll have a problem. The city totally kicks ass. By the end of the weekend, we were all planning to move there.

The city wanted us to hold our summit in Lisbon because Sandbox is an international organization of young entrepreneurs. So perfect, right? Right. I expected this weekend to be full of talking about entrepreneurship, getting some ideas, and maybe making a friend or two. Instead, it was what I can only describe as ephiphanous. Yes, that’s right, I had to make a word up to describe the awesomeness of Lisbox. I had conversations like I’ve never had before with people I’ve never met before and found solutions I didn’t know I needed to problems I didn’t know I had. It was that kind of weekend.

Other than the awesomeness of the Summit itself, the city was also amazing on its own terms. My favorite thing, besides the unseasonable warm weather, amazing architecture and the fact that it’s right on the water, was the care and attention that every little shop paid to their customers. Every shop was absolutely delightful and when I bought something the item wasn’t just thrown in a plastic bag, oh no. It was wrapped in custom paper with pictures or stamps (one woman hand rolled a custom made stamp onto every piece of paper used to wrap my mug), then they put it in a perfect little bag (at the candy store (see below) they had bags with separate compartments for each type of candy) and then they tied a bow or ribbon on the bags. It was amazing. I almost didn’t want to open the bags!

Two of my favorite shops were Papabubble, where they hand-made absolutely delightful candy and Lisboa Carma, which is owned by a husband and wife who got tired of crappy tourist merchandise so they work with artists in Lisbon to create really unique and beautiful Lisbon-themed merchandise. Please can we do this in DC? Pics are below! Including of the super awesome candy art at Papabubble.

Anyways, Lisbon rocks. Below are some pictures, and, because I promised Bloomberg, a really embarrassing video that they did of me. Feel free to ignore. And go to Lisbon!!

=)

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The best tourist shop ever

The Raven

The candy store!

Cutting long strips of candy…

… to make candy roses

Candy Trolley!

Candy Punch and Judy!

Sheep!

The video:

Sitting here in the Frankfurt airport

Posted in Travel by AGinDC on 23 January 2012

Hello people!

I can’t wait to write all about Lisbon but it’s going to take a lot more than my 30-minute allowance of German internet. They’re very efficient, there’s a timer and everything. I’m sitting here in Frankfurt, waiting for my flight to New York, and I am simultaneously delighted and annoyed to be in this particular airport. I’m delighted because I haven’t been to Germany since I lived here as a little girl and even just being in the airport is marvelous. I’m annoyed because they have more security measures than Fort Knox and I just had the most intrusive pat-down of my life. I’m a single girl, I’m not used to being groped in inappropriate places, even if it is by a chick. She even checked inside the zipper flat of my jeans. Seriously. I feel dirty.

I also had to show my passport about 85 times and I had to throw away a bottle of water that I bought IN THE AIRPORT! All of this after the man at the gate of my incoming flight sent me to platform 9 3/4 (if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, you shouldn’t be reading this blog) and after searching unsuccessfully for said gate for a little too long, a woman from Iran Air looked at me like the raving mad woman I am when I asked her where it was. She said, and I quote, “Yeah, that gate definitely doesn’t exist”. Awesome. I have now found my way however, and I am safely settled into my gate, waiting for a plane to fly me to Newark, so I can take a train to Union Station, so I can take the metro to Gallery Place, so I can switch to the green line and go home. It’s going to be a loooooong day.

That is all.

AGinDC

DC is not good for me

Posted in Weekend in Washington by AGinDC on 16 January 2012

Living on the road has its perks. I have no friends, so I don’t go out. I have a tiny per diem and no peer pressure, so I eat healthy. I work all of the time, so I spend very little money. Then, I go home. Back in DC, back to my friends, back to the fabulous bars, restaurants, and cafes. And, apparently, back to the thousands of empty calories and insane amounts of money that I spend here! I have spent more on food and drink in three days in DC then I have in a month and a half on this job. Sure, a lot of that is because I’m on a per diem, but still, if you live here, you know. I am stunned. When I end this job and move back to DC permanently, I am going to have a lot of thinking to do. And a lot of working out. I go over my budget all of the time and theoretically I knew how much it costs to have a social life in DC. But having such a vivid example is shocking. So, if you live here, and you find yourself broke even if you make a more than decent salary, I’m here to tell you why.

Want to know what I’ve been spending my money on? Well:

Saturday lunch at el Centro. Yum.

Saturday night drinks and risotto at Lost Society with @ekanerealestate.

Sunday brunch at Vinoteca with my adorable mentee.

Sunday tea at Big Bear Cafe.

Sunday dinner at Founding Farmers. Why do I love this place so much??? Because it’s amazing.

Monday nutella crepes and helping a friend job search at SNAP.

Monday night dinner at Dickson Wine Bar with @designbyjihee and @danieldzn.

Thank goodness I’m back to work tomorrow and leaving again on Wednesday. Neither my wallet or my scale can handle any more going out! But, I have to say, as far as restaurant choice is concerned, I couldn’t have made better choices!

Sigh. One more day in DC and then off to Cleveland again!

AGinDC

San Diego in January

Posted in Travel by AGinDC on 14 January 2012

San Diego is so gorgeous right now, it’s unbelievable. It’s sunny and bright and not chilly enough to justify more cover than a light cardigan. I was able to drive around the city a bit more this time and it is really quite beautifully laid out. This is a terrible shot from my car window but note the blue sky, the palm trees, and the buildings that seem to match perfectly.

 

 

 

 

I also stayed at an amazing hotel. The Manchester Grand Hyatt is beautiful and enormous. It is, in fact, so big that they actually gave me a map. Of the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My room was on the 37th floor and had an amazing view. I prefer to be as high up as possible and this was no disappointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While driving around the city, I ended up close enough to the border to buy Mexican Insurance but sadly did not have time to stop for food. It was a sad day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It actually was a pretty sad day. I knew this was going to be a tough job when I took it but these were the first two days when I really broke down. The combination of the mad travel, the isolation, the running around and then stopping at 5pm and having nothing to do but sit in my hotel room and work, the working from 6am to midnight every day even on weekends, the calendar that is relentlessly packed with travel and meetings for the rest of my life, and then the having to fight the people whose job it is to provide children with an excellent education because they could really give a fuck that their high schools have a 5% proficiency rate. It’s infuriating. After two horrible days in San Diego (not all awful, there were some great moments like the happy hour at Finch’s Wine Bar with our amazing alums. Finch’s is great, I highly recommend it for an intimate dinner, pre-dinner wine and small plates or a small gathering) I was stressed and tired and had only been home for four hours in almost a month and then the TSA agents were their usual massive asshole selves (there are no words to describe how much I hate TSA) and then my terminal didn’t have any restaurant nicer than California Pizza Kitchen and I just couldn’t take it. I broke down crying on the phone with my assistant and then cried on half of my flight while writing a strategy paper for my bosses on how to handle the situation. Ugh. Then my flight got in around 10.30pm, and I accidentally got on the wrong train from Reagan and ended up at Huntington! Not a good end to a bad day.

But now the weekend is here and I get to see the friends I haven’t seen since I got the job and actually relax a little. Today I had lunch at El Centro with a friend and I’m soon on my way to Lost Society for drinks with @EKaneRealEstate and dinner with @danieldzn and @designbyjihee. Yaay!

More later. If you haven’t found an MLK Day service project yet, go find one! I’ll be doing something involving children and voter registration, apparently. Not exactly sure what.

Have a great weekend!

AGinDC

Cleveland again!

Posted in Uncategorized by AGinDC on 11 January 2012

Back in Cleveland this week for three rockin’ days. Sorry, I feel the need to use the word “rock” whenever I talk about Cleveland. But the CLE is actually a pretty cool town. They’ve got great architecture, about 3/4 of the people are super friendly, and I’ve only begun to explore the eclectic neighborhoods. The housekeeping at my hotel could not have sucked more (seriously, I ran out of toilet paper) but I had sushi made by a white guy for the first time ever and I didn’t die! So that’s a mark in Ohio’s favor.

This week I stayed at the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade. I got to the “Arcade” around midnight and it was creepy as F. Dark, abandoned, full of windows with ugly clothes in them. Seriously, I feared for my life. But the next day things had livened up and, though the clothes were still ugly, the atmosphere had markedly improved.

Not all clothing in Cleveland is hideous however. In fact, I found a great boutique and a store clearly started by graphic designers who really, really like Cleveland and I can happily report that there is hope in the sartorial life of the Midwest. I’ll write more next time when I have more money and fewer pounds and can divulge myself of boutique-y fabulousness.

Other things that are cool about Cleveland? Cleveland State University is really pretty. Seriously, their alums must really like them. Either that or Development is being run by Daniel Ocean. The student center and law school are particularly awesome. I would post pics but I had just decided to take a quick walk without my Blackberry and since I’m still rockin’ the iPhone 3GS the picture quality is, shall we say, without flash? Soooo, no pics for you! Next time.

That’s all to report on the Cleve. Right now I’m in the airport in what seems to be an attempt at an airport sculpture garden. Next stop, San Diego! And then home! I actually get to spend four whole days in DC. I am absolutely beside myself. I’ll probably spend the whole time in bed.

Happy Trails!
AGinDC

P.S. I’m writing this from my iPad so pics are below with little to no formatting.

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The Arcade

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From the outside

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Cleveland has trash cans that say “meh”. I have nothing to say about that.

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There are guitars everywhere. Just in case you forget that this is the city with the Rock and Roll hall of fame, Cleveland will be there to remind you.

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Sculpture garden in the airport. Ohhhhhh yeah.

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San Francisco Retreat

Posted in Travel by AGinDC on 8 January 2012

Happy New Year!

I didn’t write over the break because I was too busy hanging out with the fam. But, then I went to San Francisco for a retreat with my team and it was wonderful. Not only did we get a ton of work done but… I got to be in San Francisco! At this point, it doesn’t beat DC, which I am dying to get back to (I have another week before I can go home minus a four hour suitcase exchange tomorrow =/) but it’s a great city. Plus, for the first time I stayed at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, which is gorgeous and has been a part of San Francisco culture since 1928.

 The Staircase

 The Bar

 The Vintage Bed

 A chair in the lobby

The super awesome red dresser

Luckily, the San Francisco office is right in Union Square so we were in the perfect location for some shopping (clearance at H2O!) and delicious eating. The first night we had dinner at Tropisueno, a delicious Mexican restaurant. The second night, we unfortunately had dinner at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square and it was terrible. The mac and cheese tasted like boxed Velveeta and the waiter was really rude when I said they weren’t good. Like, “Oh, well I’m sorry that you have pathetic taste buds and don’t know what good is”. And the rest of the food wasn’t good enough to justify the cost and the rudeness. But, then again, it was a tourist trap, so consider yourself warned.

After the terrible dinner we took the miserable streetcar (one of my team members had never been to SF) back to the hotel. Or, at least, we tried. At the crest of a hill the streetcar died and we sat there forever before we finally just gave up and caught a cab. On the way back to the hotel we passed two other immobile streetcars. Apparently this is a thing that happens sometimes. Good thing we weren’t on a hill!

Today we drove the gorgeous drive to Sacramento, had a delicious lunch at Grange at the beautiful Citizen Hotel, stopped at Temple Coffee for a tea refill, and then drove back up, which was even more beautiful because the sun was setting.

Now I’m taking advantage of the free wifi at the San Francisco airport, watching Archer on Netflix and getting ready to fly a red eye on Jet Blue back to DC, change my suitcase, and head to Cleveland and then San Diego! And then, finally, I get four whole days at home! Woohoo!

So that’s that. I’m off to sleep on the plane! Ciao!

AGinDC

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