“Sometimes you gotta run naked”: Thoughts on the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest

It has been well established on this blog (and my Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram…) that I am a huge “Gilmore Girls” fan. And this past weekend, my mom and I got to partake in something pretty special: the Gilmore … Continue reading

Under Pressure

Well, it’s been a long time.

As to be expected, life started interfering with this little ol’ blog around a year ago. And when I say life, I mean the sheer amount of grading I was dealing with on a daily basis. And while I still have a whole lot of grading to deal with on a daily basis, I have managed to discover a slightly better work-life balance over the past year. I’ve figured out how to make time to read (for pleasure), to see friends on a regular basis, and to basically take some “me” time. (And, of course, I continue to have the time to watch the 130454234 shows I’m usually watching on a regular basis, which I always made time for. Priorities, y’all.)

Anyway, to get to the point, I’ve been feeling the urge to write lately. Ever since getting my MFA two years ago, this urge comes and goes in waves. Not being “required” to write for workshops anymore is a double-edged sword: on one hand, I don’t have to pressure myself to finish a story in time for others to read it. And then, on the other hand, I don’t have the pressure of needing to finish a story in time for others to read it…in other words, I have discovered that I seem to operate well under pressure. (Cue Queen.) This doesn’t come as too much of a shock, as most everything else in life that I consider myself successful in involves pressure in some way. I grade on a schedule because my students need their papers back. I run on a weekly basis in order to do well in whatever race I’ve signed myself up for (side note: I’ve noticed that running long races is probably the craziest thing I do). I even turned re-watching “Gilmore Girls” for the 1234983520954 time into a thing of pressure–I pushed myself to re-watch the whole series before attending the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest and by golly, I did it.

Anyway, the point of this post is to be open about my writing and how I find myself yearning to write. I find myself still creating characters and stories and listening to conversations around me for inspiration. However, when I sit down to actually put these ideas on paper (or rather, computer), I face a brick wall. The process breaks down. I don’t feel a sense of pressure; therefore, it becomes easy to continually put off something that is usually such a large part of my identity.

Last Fall, I had pretty much decided that my blogging days were over. Blogging was taking up a chunk of my time and not that many people were reading it, so what was the point? But now, as I harness this desire to write, I see that readership and receiving a million comments is not the point, especially when you are blogging because you love to write. So I’m hoping if I return to blogging, I’ll not only be writing, but perhaps find that sense of pressure that is apparently a necessary part of my writing process.
Plus, at least I’ll be writing in some capacity .

 

 

The Wydown

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series.

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I popped into The Wydown one summer morning after spending a few hours at Slipstream. The weather wasn’t insufferably hot yet and, even though I had forgotten my sunglasses (a travesty!), I decided the walk from Logan Circle to U Street would be a nice addition to the day and also (hopefully) prepare me for my third round of coffee.

Upon spying the open garage door entrance, I was immediately a fan. I love these kinds of open spaces, which is probably why I’m such a fan of Qualia. For The Wydown, the open door helps brighten up the space, while also making it feel immeasurably larger. The space inside is a bit small–only a few communal tables and a couple of booths. The open door helps open up the space, while also making it more inviting. Not sure what the place is like in the winter, though–guess I’ll have to pop back by in a few months to see.

The barista behind the bar was immediately friendly and let me use my debit card, even though I didn’t meet the price point with my latte purchase. Win! We then shared a casual conversation on how the problem is not so much taking out cash (so then you have some for such occasions), but more so keeping the cash long enough to help you when faced with such situations.
Um, wow. The mind is incredible. I did not realize I had that memory until I started typing this post.

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The place is very relaxed and trendy, without shoving their “cool” factor in your face. I love their mix of light wood and white furniture against the black walls and chalkboard like signs. To me, this combination is very fresh and inviting. Plus, their coffee stained art, while being très chic, adds a simple, original addition to the place. Plenty of people stopped in while I drank my latte and wrote, and many of them were clearly friends or regular customers. The barista making the drinks seemed to be somewhat of a celebrity, as several people spoke to him–and I mean actual conversations, not just “oh, the coffee looks great, thank you kind sir.” (Umhmm, me).

Lastly, I’ll add that a man that looked EXACTLY like Milo Ventimiglia drifted in at one point and I definitely stared at him for five minutes until I determined that it was, in fact, NOT Milo V and instead a stranger. He chatted with the popular barista for a bit before spending five minutes putting cream and sugar in his coffee. Okay, maybe my people watching has gotten a little out of control…

What I ordered: I ordered a latte, obvi.

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Latte grade: The latte helped me understand why the barista is some kind of coffee celebrity–it was delicious and beautifully presented. The latte was hot upon arrival, which was a nice change from the sort-of-warm latte at Slipstream. The flavor was delectable, with the strong espresso flavor dominating the milk. Perfect combo, in my book! As an added bonus, the delicate heart design in the froth remained as I drank the latte, still present even halfway through! I was extremely impressed. Overall grade: A+

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What I’ll get next time: I’ll probably try another coffee beverage, like a cappuccino or mocha, as the coffee flavor was so great. Maybe just even a regular coffee! I’m definitely interested in trying their flavored scones, and kind of wish I had sprung for one on my first visit. Oh well, next time!

Best time of day to go: I popped in around mid-morning and the tiny place was packed. Many people drifted in and out pretty quickly, but there definitely wasn’t a lull moment. Luckily, I missed the morning rush, which made the place a bit more relaxed while I was there. I’d say mid to late morning or early to mid-afternoon in order to miss the crowds.

The ambiance: As stated above, the place has a refreshing, trendy allure. The blend of light and dark makes The Wydown feel homey and comfortable. The friendly baristas and regular customers makes this place seem relaxed and welcoming, even for a first-time customer. The only downside is the close quarters–when a few others joined my communal table, I quickly left soon after because the accidental elbow-brushing and unintentionally overheard conversations made the spot a little uncomfortable.

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Good for: As stated above, most people drifted in and out, only sitting for 15 or 20 minutes. There were only a couple more people working on their laptops, like me. The place definitely seems laptop friendly, but since it’s so small and popular, I can see the appeal of stopping by for just a few moments instead of camping out. I don’t think I would have stayed if the place had been any busier. I know some people don’t mind taking up space with their laptop when a place is packed, but it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I’d recommend this place for a spot to grab coffee to go or catch up with a friend.

Will you need a jacket? Not in the summer when it was blazing hot. Probably now as it starts to cool…not ready to accept that Fall is almost here.

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Other things to know: They had coffee, coffee makers, and other paraphernalia for sale. Nice touch!  Also, no wifi. 

What I did: I wrote for a little bit. The no wifi thing can be a huge bummer, but also helped me stay focused on what I actually needed to do…who woulda thunk!

I apologize for the pictures in this post, which don’t really portray the beautifulness of the coffee shop itself. 

Slipstream

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series.

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I’ll be honest in that I visited Slipstream almost two months ago. When I had more time on my hands, I knocked as many of the coffee shops off my list as I could. I metro’d into DC with Rahul one July morning and visited Slipstream and Wydown back to back, which made for a very jittery afternoon–so much coffee!

Luckily, I have an excellent memory (most of the time) and took some notes.

I was a bit nervous about visiting Slipstream, because it’s not “just a coffee shop,” and I’m always a bit nervous to visit these places with my laptop in tow, afraid I’ll be shunned for occupying a table by myself. Luckily, no shunning occurred. It was early enough that there were plenty of open tables and there were a few other laptop people, which put my mind at ease.

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Slipstream’s space is long, providing an awesome variety of seating. The tables in the front face the street, natural light brightening the space. The coffee/drinks bar separates the front seating from the back, where tables rub up against abstract art work. There’s a little something for everyone here, table wise–two-person high tops, long communal tables, you name it. The place is polished and trendy without feeling too calculated or perfect. It’s not quite cozy, but it’s definitely comfortable enough to sit and chat/work for a few hours.

As far as their menu goes, the key terms are “experimental” and “thoughtful.” (I’m teaching key terms to my new English classes right now, so it makes sense that it would bleed over into my blogging). They offer classic food and drink, but with a twist. Many reviewers online have commented on their selection of food and drink being TOO wide (as in you can’t be a coffee shop AND a lunch spot AND a happy hour place, etc) but I don’t see that as an issue. If Tryst can do it, why can’t other places? Plus, their playful approach to coffee and cocktails will keep them on the map.

What I ordered: I ordered a latte and the poached egg on brioche bun (with bacon!) I felt rushed while ordering (not by the barista, but by my own awkwardness) and wish I had taken more time to explore the menu in full. I had read about their toasts online before visiting, and was confident that this would be my order. However, poached egg jumped out and me and I had to follow my instincts. I was not disappointed–while the bread was a bit much, the poached egg provided a delightful reason to literally wipe my plate clean. The bacon was thick and wonderful, which means a lot coming from me as I’m more “meh” about bacon than the rest of the Internet. 

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Just like with their seating options, the menu provides a little something for everyone–avocado toasts, experimental coffee cocktails, breakfast bowls, nitrogen infused coffee, cashew milk, and tons more. If you’re into experimental coffee and cocktails and you’re looking for something more than mimosas/Bloody Marys, I recommend this as a brunch spot.
Not that there’s anything wrong about those two drinks…after all, I love a good Bloody Mary with brunch.

Latte Grade: I loved the presentation of the latte, and that it was served in a glass instead of a mug. Delicious flavor, but was warm to begin with, which meant it was ice cold by the time I was done drinking. Normally I order my drinks extra hot, but on this coffee shop adventure, I’ve just been ordering “regular hot” (I don’t actually say that) to see what the temperature of their latte is to begin with. Next time I visit, I’ll definitely have to ask for a little more heat. To me, the good flavor eventually became overrun by the low temp. Overall grade: B+

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What I’ll get next time: I’m SUPER INTERESTED in their coffee creations (espresso, lemon, and tonic water looks delicious and refreshing!), as well as their many cocktail options. Hoping to return for another visit when my timing is cocktail appropriate. 

Best time of day to go: Like I said above, there was plenty of seating when I arrived, around 8 AM. I sat near the windows, which provided for some nice people watching and work distraction. The place was more crowded when I left, around 10 AM, and I’m sure is even more crowded in late afternoon/early evening. If you’re hoping for a window seat, I say the earlier, the better–most of them were occupied by the time I left. I will say, for how uncrowded it was, it took a little bit for my latte to arrive. The food service was speedy, however. 

The ambience: As mentioned above, Slipstream is trendy and artistic. There was good music playing–a very “Chuck” like soundtrack–which I’m now listening to as I finish this. The noise level was manageable, and the service was friendly enough. I’ll say that it definitely did not seem like a neighborhood place, even though it in’s a prime location. Unlike other coffee shops, where I’ve overheard the baristas and customers chatting amicably, everyone here seemed to be minding their own business. 

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Good for: The majority of people were chatting with friends or conducting business meetings. Only a few other people were laptoppers like me. With the seating variety, it seems that this place is good for all three. However, I did visit very early on a weekday morning–I imagine it’s a completely different story on the weekends. 

Will you need a jacket? IT WAS FREEZING. 

Other things to know: They take care in selecting the best coffee, and rotate their blends. 

What I did: I wrote on my laptop. 

Stupid thing I read online: I can’t remember, but I can speak to the stupid things I’ve read this week, which mostly revolve around the Nicki Minaj/Miley Cyrus thing. I could care less about this feud, yet I somehow continue to read articles on it…

Blogging vs. Real Life: Sometimes Real Life Wins

Things have been busy around here! Between wrapping up the last two weeks of teaching the 6-week summer program, day trips and weekend activities, and a girls’ trip to Nashville, I got a little behind on my blog. I really try to stay on top of the posts, but sometimes real life gets in the way, whether it’s in the form of a grading marathon, or a relaxing afternoon at a winery, or endless lesson planning. All three, plus many more, present good reasons to put the little ol’ blog on the back burner until more time opens up. Don’t fret: next week I will return with the next coffee shop post on Slipstream near Logan Circle. But this week, I am planning and gathering my materials for the Fall semester, which starts on the 31st.

The whole planning process takes a lot more time than expected. There are so many layers. First, you have to decide what’s due when. Then what reading to do on certain days. Then what overarching activities and objectives you want to accomplish. Then what you will actually do to accomplish those activities and objectives. It’s borderline overwhelming. In many respects, it feels exactly like this:

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At the same time, I love organizational tasks, so I don’t really mind.

With summer drawing to a close, I’m sad about the impending coldness and weekends full of grading, but glad that I was able to make the most of my summer over the past few weeks. Also, there are fall leaves already. WTF?!?!

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Having Rahul here PERMANENTLY is amazing, because we not only get to see each other every day, but we can enjoy our weekends together. We’ve explored our city a bit more, drunk wine and “listened” to a 90s cover band with friends (the band was far away and mostly illegible), visited the beach for our engagiversary, celebrated multiple friends moving away (with joyfulness and sadness), saw “The Book of Mormon” at the Kennedy Center (so funny!), and much more. In doing so, I’ve marked off a few things from my DC area to-do list, which included going to the beach in Maryland, going wine tasting in Virginia, and seeing as many plays as possible at The Kennedy Center.

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I also enjoyed a fabulous weekend with some of my dearest friends in Nashville. The weekend officially kicked off our wedding countdown–less than 100 days to go! It was amazing to spend some quality time with my best gals, while also dancing it up all over Nashville. Country music everywhere! We stayed in a house for the weekend, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting the Nashville area. We were in East Nashville, which is an easy and cheap Uber ride to the city. Plus, we had space to spread out and hang during downtime.

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Now that I’ve entertained you with details about my fabulous life, I promise to return to my regularly scheduled programming next week.

 

The truth about being a chronically late person…

…is that you’re always hoping for a miracle.

I’m not talking like John Green’s Paper Towns, where Quentin believes Margo is his one miracle in life. I’m talking, “crap-I-left-10-minutes-later-than-I-meant-to-why-I-am-surprised-by-that-oh-here’s-hoping-I-still-get-to-work-on-time” kind of miracle.
I will say, though, that I’ve had several trips to Target/CVS/Safeway/ etc that were exactly like the Paper Towns’ characters’ speedy trips to gas stations, except with one crucial difference: my trips were speedy because I was making them before class when I really didn’t have time.

As a chronically late person, I’m constantly hoping for some kind of time miracle where I miraculously get to work five minutes early, even though I left 10 minutes late. I’m constantly hoping that some kind of time warp thing will happen and I’ll get to my class with plenty of time to spare to leisurely look over my class notes for the day, or write on the chalkboard. I’m constantly hoping that time will play its tricks, as time does, and I’ll be able to walk to class at a normal pace instead of an awkward mix of speed walking and hopping.
As a reminder, this awkward mix of speed walking and hopping is exactly how I fractured my leg this past February. While walking to my first class. While (sort of) late. I’m definitely doing this to myself.

As I constantly route and reroute my travel to and from work, looking for the quickest and easiest drive that day, I’ve begun to realize something: as a 28-year-old adult, I still don’t understand how time works. I’ll usually set a goal leaving time and, even though I know I have to be out the door in thirty minutes, or 45 minutes, or whatever, I lie to myself about the time. I let myself eat lunch slowly, or prep dinner for that night, or try to finish grading a paper, forgetting that a leaving time of 1:20 means out the door by 1:20, not “oh crap, it’s 1:20, let me run around the apartment like an idiot to collect my stuff so I can leave.” I’m usually out the door five to ten minutes after my goal leaving time. Three on a lucky day.

Then, because this has happened before (not a lot), I hope for a time miracle as I drive to work. I hold out hope that ten extra minutes will pop up somewhere, forgetting that all of this is contingent on traffic, other cars, and other people in general. Which all points to one very simple thing:

I’ve got to slow down.

Even though I can lollygag with the best of them, I usually jampack my day with to-do lists. I really try to prioritize the to-do lists but, on some days, I have a hard time keeping an order straight and try to accomplish several things at once. This morning, I let bleach soak in my shower while I vacuumed and checked my email. I’m often on my phone (even if it’s just Instagram or WWF) during a movie or TV show, trying to get two things done at once. I multi-task and try to soak every second out of every hour to make sure I’m not wasting time.

And then I drive to school like an idiot, hoping that extra time will appear.

Anyone struggle with the same problem? Do you have suggestions on better time management? I’m not talking like “lay out your outfit the night before” or “just leave earlier, dummy.” Like, for real advice on looking at time realistically and not Katherine-ally.

Using planners and to-do lists has started to organize my mind a little and help me manage my time in a more realistic way. I’ve loved Erin Condren planners for YEARS, even though they’re a bit pricey. The “get it done” zebra notepad is a new purchase and I LOVE IT. Every time I look at it, I chuckle at the little zebra essentially telling me to get my shit together. 

Rifle Paper Co. // Erin Condren 

 

I always knew Andy Dwyer was my Spirit Animal

I recently started a 6-week summer job, which means I’m back in my office for office hours. Those first office hours always seem to drag on, as most students don’t come to office hours the day after their first session and I have no papers to grade yet. So, what did I do to pass the time? In addition to some class planning and other busy work, I took this quiz, of course.

I answered truthfully instead of trying to manipulate the outcome (it’s so easy to get the result you want on these stupid quizzes), so the fact that I got Andy Dwyer means A LOT. What does it mean, exactly? It means that ANDY DWYER IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL.

I loved Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy, but Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer is still my favorite thing. I think it’s awesome that he has found such success as an action star–just like it’s amazing the success that Melissa McCarthy has found after “starting out” on GG–but goofy, good-natured, hopelessly helpless (most of the time) Andy is my favorite character.

PLUS, HE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. Here’s how I know, expressed in GIF form, of course.

When I’m running in a 1,000 degree heat for the half marathon my friend Cassie and I signed up to run in September: 

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Why we decided to train for a race in the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN SUMMER, I will never know. Or, better yet, why the marathon people decided to hold a race that forces participants to train in the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN SUMMER.
In all honesty, my runs have actually been very frustrating lately. Like, discouraging to the point that I dread a run, which has never happened before. Sure, I’ve not wanted to run sometimes, but I’ve never dreaded it. The only way I was FINALLY able to run three miles yesterday without stopping was by watching “Parks & Rec” on TV. 

When I explain to anyone that will listen (because I talk a lot) why I’d never be able to do any of those crazy diets because I love cheese too much:

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Seriously. I love cheese. And diets are stupid. (Tell that to Katherine who ate pizza twice on Saturday…#oops #noregrets)

Whenever I surprise someone with my intellect:

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Whenever I try to do anything related to technology in anyway: 

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Technological related things Rahul has had to help me with in the past: losing my entire iTunes library, not being able to figure out how to set up new pages on WordPress, signing up for HBOGo and then not being able to access it on my computer, getting locked out of my Verizon account, 1,000 other things I can’t think of right now…he’s very patient when it comes to me and my lack of technology knowledge.

Whenever I try to do things in general: 

anigif_enhanced-11666-1406775913-1OK, I’m maybe not THIS bad, but I have broken two wine glasses this year, a plate, spilled my water bottle in my bag and on student papers more times that I can count, broken a fourth of the blinds in my apartment (they’re really crappy blinds!), and other general problems.

When I realize how frustrated I am at my current lack of creativity:

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This is actually a serious, legitimate one. I’ve been in a major creative rut lately. I can’t seem to land on a story idea that I like enough to keep writing. Also, all of my recent ideas have become too long, and I really, REALLY just want to write some short stories right now until I feel up to finishing my thesis project, which is a novel-length project. I feel like I used to have SO MANY story ideas and, lately, I’ve had nothing. It’s very frustrating and upsetting and makes me question my abilities as a writer. A lot of the stories I’ve started recently start to feel POINTLESS because I don’t know where they’re going or what to do with them. Plus, all of my plot lines become too serious and too bizarre, and I just want simple storytelling. I loved the first season of the TV show “Broadchurch” (seriously, go watch it now if you haven’t) for many reasons, but one of the main reasons I loved it was because of the last episode. The whole season centers around a young boy’s death in a really small town, where everyone knows everyone. Thus, the idea of a killer among them was hard for the townspeople to grasp. Instead of the show leading up to a serial killer or killing someone to cover up a secret (kind of like in “The Killing”), the death was caused by pure human error. It was caused by a character who was experiencing something he didn’t fully understand, which caused him to do something he never expected to do. I’m speaking cryptically because I don’t want to give anything away, but I LOVED this about the show. Even though the mysteriousness of his death kept me watching, I loved (I can’t stop saying that word) that his death was caused by humanity, in a sense. So, all of that to say, I’m trying to find a way to do that in my writing, and it’s hard. And it makes me feel like the above gif. Sigh.

Whenever I try to explain science-related things:

anigif_enhanced-21527-1406774805-3 (2)Also, on a related note, I love snacks. Written while I shovel popcorn into my mouth. I LOVE this popcorn but I can’t find it in my grocery store anymore, but their website says it should be in stock there…LIES!

Whenever I miss Bella and try to convince Rahul we need a cat:

Plo5yPpBecause cats are the best…

Whenever I’m at the grocery store and I forget the difference between 1% milk and skim (read: every time):

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Whenever I drive in D.C. and get upset at the terrible, mean, type-A drivers who clearly all have more important places to be than anyone else on the road and I consider throwing my  car into the Potomac (because I have superpowers like that):

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Whenever I accidentally find myself in a conversation about politics or anything government related: 

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Lastly, whenever I’m freaking out about my medical complications, which happened a lot this past year. 

I used the phrase “they took my blood away for science” WAY too many times. But hey, it kept me laughing during my super anxious moments, as did this!

Source for above GIFs: NBC via Imgur & Buzzfeed.

 

 

The Coffee Bar

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series. 

Just like Compass Coffee, The Coffee Bar has a very straightforward approach to their coffee and the coffee shop itself. They make good coffee, and don’t need to attach any bells or whistles to make it special or any better than it already is. Just like with Compass Coffee, I like this approach, as it keeps the focus on the coffee and not the extras that many coffee shops rely on. This line from their website encompasses this approach: “We want to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone, from your average Joe to the coffee connoisseur.”
They also believe coffee should be its own food group, which I’m totally on board with.

IMG_2579The coffee shop is in the shadow of U Street, but is not nearly as busy or loud. TCB is tucked away a few blocks over, but is clearly a neighborhood favorite. In the few hours that I was there, I witnessed several regulars come through, as well as groups of people using the coffee shop as a place to gab or do business. In fact, the girls sitting next to me were talking shop about some kind of business or blog or something they were in charge of. I know this because they were very loud.

What I ordered: I ordered a latte and an everything bagel with cream cheese. Very basic, I know, but also delicious. As I said, TCB seems to have an no-frills-needed approach to their coffee and food, which makes ordering very simple. At the same time, you’re not cheated with what you get. I love everything bagels, so this was a great way to start my morning. Plus, added bonus, their bagels are from Bethesda Bagels, which I’ve been told are some of the best bagels in the area.
I say it this way because this was my first time trying their bagels. My thoughts: delicious, but you’d have to work really hard to make a bad bagel, right? 

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Latte Grade: The latte was warm, had great coffee flavor (good coffee/milk ratio), and was decorated with a simple and pretty heart. As I said above, they make good coffee, and it showed in the latte. The coffee flavor shined (shone? my English is failing me) through as I enjoyed the drink. Overall grade: A.

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What I’ll get next time: I’m interested in the London Fog or dirty chai, both drinks I’ve heard of before but have never ordered. I’m a fan of earl grey tea, so having it in latte form is sure to be delicious. Plus, I’m very curious as to what chai tastes like with espresso. I could see it being either delicious or disgusting. Let’s be honest, it sounds like a drink a tired and poor student made up because espresso and chai is all they had in their dorm room at the time.

Best time of day to go: I got there at 8:45 and it was already brimming with people.The space inside is sort of limited, with only an options of sofas or communal tables. I ended up sitting at the communal bar, which was fine until the chatty girls made an appearance. The advantage and disadvantage of the communal bar is that you are near people ordering. Good for people watching, bad for doing work. A steady stream of people wondered through and the place stayed busy the entire time I was there, which I’m sure is representative of the whole day. However, since the space inside is limited, and it’s a stupid swamp town outside (where is the Leslie Knope gif for this? Someone please make one.), I would go in the morning to avoid having to sit outside if all the spaces inside are taken.

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The ambience: TCB has coffee-related quotes written on the chalkboard behind the counter, which I love. The place seems equal parts relaxed, and fun-loving, as evidenced by the chill attitude of most people in there and the 80s music. 80s music! I love it. There were a lot of familiar songs, but my favorites? “Jenny,” which I love because 1) I have a cousin named Jenny that we used to sing this to and 2) 5 of the number’s 7 digits were the copy code for my first job at UMD, which I always found hilarious. “99 Luftballoons” was the other favorite, which my dad did NOT realize was IN GERMAN until my best friend and I told him when we were in high school.

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Good for: As I said earlier, there were plenty of people talking with friends or doing business, as well as people working on their computers–like me! The communal spaces provide a perfect place for both, as evidenced by the communal bar where I was sitting. On my right was another man working on his computer; on my left were the three girls doing business. One of them watched my computer when I went to the bathroom, which was a plus, but then she also let her phone receive texts full volume and sang along (OUT LOUD) to one of the songs, which was a big, big negative. In addition to those of us inside, there was a steady stream of people grabbing things to go. It did start to get loud midday when more people showed up, which was my cue to leave.

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Will you need a jacket? It’s so effing hot outside that a jacket, even inside, is unnecessary right now.

Other things to know: They love coffee, which makes me love them! This is definitely a place I could see myself easily returning to a second or third time.

Did they spell Katherine with a K or C: WITH A K! Yay.

What I did: I had a typical Monday morning: I caught up on emails and worked on blog stuff. I also read some of 12 Years a Slave, which I’m reading for a job I start in a few days.

Stupid thing I read online: I read about celebrity dads and what they tweet, which was actually kind of cute. My favorites: #12 and 18.

On Friday, I’ll share my thoughts on La Colombe, the third coffee shop on the list. 

 

 

 

“I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee”: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene

School’s out for the summer which, on one hand, is great. I don’t have oodles of papers to grade, I don’t have to worry about lesson planning, and I have more time to do literally everything. I can take as long as I want to clean my apartment, I can dawdle when I’m in the grocery store, I can lay out at my apartment pool and listen to the Undisclosed podcast (obsessed) and read FOR FUN. In the weeks since school finished, I’ve cleaned and organized my apartment, which resulted in bags of clothes that need to be donated, a crap-ton of old beauty products in the trash, and organized storage spaces. I’ve written some, even though I’m in a bit of a creative rut right now. I’ve started a new book, Everything I Never Told You, and then started to worry when I realized that the book I’m reading, the podcast I’m listening to, and one of the TV shows I’m watching with Rahul (“Broadchurch”) all revolve around children going missing and then later showing up dead. Strange obsession? Anyway.
Side note: I’ve since finished the book and the show’s first season and both are FANTASTIC. 

I look forward to this free time, because it means my time is my own, and I know many working professionals don’t get the same luxury of SUMMERS OFF that teachers do. However, instead of taking full advantage of this free time, something strange happens: I get on a weird sleep schedule where the only reason I finally get up is because I literally can’t sleep anymore, I dilly-dally around my apartment and on the internet, reading about things that I LITERALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT (I’ve finally reached a point where I’m actually annoyed with Buzzfeed, as opposed to last year when I couldn’t get enough, I’m becoming an adult!), before finally becoming productive in the mid-afternoon. In short, I waste my time.

When I first moved to Maryland to get my MFA, I would venture in D.C. every week to try out a different coffee shop and explore the city a bit more. Coffee + writing time+ DC=three of my favorite things! Now, almost 4 years later, I’m decently familiar with the city, but I stopped the coffee shop traditions and my writing has slowed to a trickle as opposed to the river it was before (BAD METAPHOR, I KNOW). So, I decided to change that.

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IMG_2518For the next however-many-weeks-it-takes-me, I will make my way down the D.C. Eater’s List of 25 Essential D.C. Coffee Shops. Doing so will solve a few problems with one stone—I’ll get out of my apartment at a normal-human hour, get some work done, and get to try different coffee and snacks all over the city. After each visit, I’ll review the coffee shops here. I know, I know, don’t get too excited.

Follow along if you’re interested in coffee and live in and/or will be visiting the D.C. area. Each week, I will review one or two of the places, commenting on the drink/food options, atmosphere, and other applicable things—like whether or not they spell my name correctly on the drinks, what ridiculous thing on the internet I distract myself with while writing, whether or not you need a jacket inside, and more. My goal is to provide feedback on things that Yelp doesn’t tell you.

Also, I’ll give each place a latte grade. I’m pretty simple when it comes to my coffee, and often find myself ordering lattes when I go out for coffee. At the end, I’d like to be able to look back and know which places I’ll go to for a second, or third time, based on beverage appeal.

If you’re a new reader, a few things you should know about me: I love coffee, as about half of the world does. My day always starts off with coffee. Furthermore, I worked in a few coffee shops in college and consider myself knowledgeable when it comes to making a decent cup of coffee, as well as a good latte, cappuccino, mocha, you name it. While I may not be as knowledgable on some of the “cool” coffee stuff–I didn’t know what a pour-over was until I moved to the DC area–I consider myself pretty capable of distinguishing good coffee from bad, as well as a good coffee shop from a bad one.

Disclaimer: I am doing this solely because I love coffee shops, DC, and writing. Wordifications is not affiliated in any way with any of the coffee shops I will visit. Furthermore, I will follow the order of coffee shops listed in the DC Eater’s article. 

 

Turning the “when” into “if”

I’ve always been sort of a high strung person. While I’m not as vocally expressive as others–i.e., I don’t like to make waves–I definitely need a schedule to function, even if it’s a loose one. When I wake up in the morning, I like to know what I have planned for the day and what I need to do. I’m a list maker, and I love crossing items off my to-do list. Nothing bothers me more than a neglected to-do list (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I mean), because then I feel super unproductive–even if I actually got a lot done, or did something enjoyable with my day.

Another way of describing this part of my personality can be best expressed through Lorelai Gilmore. fb3e2850-bb5b-0131-4878-6e98995d6e3eWe’re totes twins, as 95% of other fans of the show claim.

I say all of this to prepare for the rest of the post. Even though I’m high strung, I never really considered myself an anxious person. Sure, I would get nervous if I realized I forgot to lock the car door, or if I realized I put my laundry on the wrong setting. Minute things. But as far as overwhelming, mind-controlling anxiety, I didn’t really struggle with. Until this year.

A few things happened that contributed to my heightened anxiety. For the first time ever, I was ONLY working, which was an adjustment period, even if I was excited. Last year, I moved to a new place, which (again) is exciting, but it was further away from my friends in the area. But the tipping point was when I fell in February and fractured my ankle.

I consider myself a pretty well-adjusted person, so when I realized the leg I had been walking on for two weeks was fractured, not sprained (thanks, first doctor), I took the news in stride. I understood what it meant, and I was able to acknowledge the next steps necessary for recovery. This didn’t stop me from breaking down in tears in Perkins with my parents, or having fears of never walking again (my brain went nuts), or any number of irrational fantasies. Luckily, my mom came to MD with me and was able to help me get around, which helped tone down many of my irrational fears. I was doing OK, until…

I visited the ortho for a check-up, told him about a pain in my leg, got an ultrasound, and ended up in the ER because of a blood clot. Let me tell you, guys–I have not cried that hard in months. I was literally breaking down in the waiting room because I literally couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on. A blood clot? What? This was something I had never worried about in my life, ever, and suddenly I was sitting in the ER because of one, listening to doctors tell me about blood thinner medications, and getting CAT scans to make sure my lungs were clot free.

Even though I didn’t express it this way at the time, I can understand now what happened. Something I had never worried about was suddenly consuming my  life. What other things that I’ve never worried about could pop up next? What did I need to prepare myself for?

And then, like knocking over a witch’s cauldron (bad metaphor, let’s just move past it), my brain was FLOODED with anxieties and worries. I spent hours reading online forums about DVTs (blood clots). I cried on the phone to Rahul, to my mom when she flew back up to stay with me (because she’s awesome). I would have to stop grading to have intense thinking sessions about what the DVT meant and what the blood thinner was doing in my body. I put off taking Xarelto by one day because there was no antidote if I ever started bleeding a lot and only felt mildly okay taking it after talking to Rahul, Rahul’s dad (both doctors), and hearing advice via my mom through my aunt and uncle, who are both nurses. In the midst of freaking out about what was going on in my body, I fed the anxiety monster that had taken over my mind with several full meals many times a day. I let the anxiety win. Suddenly, I was imagining what would happen if I happened to cut myself cooking, or if I got in a car accident, or if someone mugged me on the street. Bad circumstances at any point, sure, but a thousand times worse while on a blood thinner.

I just finished my course of medication, and I’ve moved away a bit from the initial panicking. I have my follow-up appointment this week, and will probably get another ultrasound image to check in on the clot, even though it’s not required. If the xarelto did its job, my body should be clot free. Since receiving the initial news, I’ve done certain things to help my anxiety: I stopped reading medical forums. I (tried) to stop overwhelming conversations with friends about the medicine, because I was only doing it to make myself feel better (again, feeding the anxiety monster). Rahul has helped a lot, because he won’t engage in conversations that are purely motivated by my anxiety. What he’s doing, and what every person who struggles with anxiety needs, is providing support through not engaging my anxious self. Anxiety often pushes you to place certain needs, thoughts, etc, over others, and most of the time, they’re irrational fears, or things not related to the present. Also, for any person who has ever read up on anxiety, you know it’s often future-focused. Most anxiety is stoked by concerns about future problems, not present realities.

Through all this, one thing has stuck with me. One thing that reared its ugly head when I became convinced that I would majorly injure myself while taking the blood thinner; that popped up the other day when I became convinced I had appendicitis; that shows up every night when I check my locked door: the WHEN. Lately, my thoughts have been consumed by not “if” something happens, but “when” it will happen. And through all of it, I’m amazed by the powerful hold anxiety has on the mind, because it’s all mind-related. The minute appendicitis pops in my mind, it becomes “WHEN I get this.” WHEN I get into a car accident on 495. WHEN my apartment catches on fire. WHEN the blood clot lets go and travels. WHEN I fall while running and break another bone. Some are based on some level of reality–i.e., the blood clot concern. But most of them are severely irrational, and only cause my anxiety to increase by the thousands.

I know anxiety is mind over matter. It’s controlling your emotions, it’s refusing to feed the monster. But, you guys, it’s hard. It’s hard when it’s so simple to feed that monster just a little bit, just a bite. But it never works that way. It’s like opening a bag of salt & vinegar kettle chips: once you have one, you have to have 25 more. Anyone that struggles with anxiety knows what I’m talking about, and how unhealthy this is. Also, anyone that struggles with anxiety understands the upsetting confliction of being able to understand what’s going on in your mind, and understand what you need to do to stop it, but not being able force yourself to take the leap.

Instead of leaps, it’s much easier to start with baby steps.


I really like this quote from the clip: “All I have to do is take one little step at a time and I can do anything.”

In the baby steps I’ve taken since receiving the blood clot news, I’ve been able to, for the most part, successfully squelch my need to do certain things, like look up medical advice online, or talk about my health problems with everyone under the sun. Amazingly, once a few days pass without doing the thing, the desire passes. It alleviates. Of course, I could reignite it by one simple Google search, but now I’m removed enough to tell myself I have the option NOT to do so, and I feel okay about it. Also, I think about it this way: how easy it is to strike a match, start a fire, but how hard it is to put one out. The same applies for feeding my anxiety, and I’m slowly, slowly (baby steps!) choosing not to do so.

The big thing I’m working on right now is changing the when back to if. I’m reminding myself that just because it happened with a blood clot doesn’t mean it will happen with everything. The terrible part about the blood clot was how blindsided I was: suddenly, I was in the hospital, learning about blood thinners, hemoglobin tests, staying away from sports and heavy drinking; all these things that were literally so far from my radar the day before. I was scared, most of all by how unaware I had been. I’m trying to remind myself that that isn’t the case with everything. Just because I was blindsided by this doesn’t mean the rest of my life will be terrible. This one incident doesn’t mean my life will become a series of “whens.”
Plus, I’ve made a deal with God, or whoever is listening, that the first half of this year can suck, and that first half ends tomorrow on June 30. I would really like the second half of this year to be awesome. So, a deal is a deal.