History Class

Carpe Diem

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Holidazed and Confused

Bahahahaha... me in a nutshell

Bahahahaha… me in a nutshell

Overwhelmed with scheduling holiday parties, making sure you don’t miss out on cultural events, or tracking down those seasonal activities you always seem to miss? Or the worst: not taking advantage of those favorite seasonal beers/drinks finally back for winter? [Speaking of which, where did my whiskey-nog run off to….]

Yea, I have trouble with that, too. Not just the leaking-glass issue, but keeping the season straight. Nothing is more traumatic than finding out you RSVP’ed to five different parties on Saturday, but Friday is empty. OH, THE HORROR.

So I’ve added a new page to help. All my favorites are there: family favorites like the Zoo’s lights and the Nat’l Christmas tree at the W.H… to non-family-friendly classics like bartender competitions and late-night holiday shenanigans. My personal mission: as many beer/liquor sponsored holiday parties as possible. I have two this week alone. The page is constantly under construction as the days tick by, so keep in touch!

My next week:

Wednesday, Dec 12:

HA! Get it? Get it?

HA! Get it? Get it?

Wednesday is my only full night off this week– so I’m spending it with my favorites. Sally, Theon, and any other of the crew interested in throwing back serious holiday cheer will be gathering at one of our local spots. I’m campaigning hard for the first one:

DC Brau’s Holiday Party, via Meridian Pint. As the Pint says, “the Brau boys will be in-house spreading holiday cheer as only they can”, with 19 Brau drafts at happy hour prices all night. I’ve sent out the alerts, folks– I’ll be there in full force. Those barrel-aged beers are MINE. And I adore the bartenders; you know my weakness. The younger ones are cute and flirty, the older ones are badass, and they all know their shit. Sit and ask for a pull of their favorite, and you’ll never be disappointed.

OR

Head to the Churchkey for  the unveiling of L’Interimaire, the new Bluejacket/ Dogfish Head collaboration. No cover, pours start at 6pm, and individually priced. As Dogfish Head holds a special place in my heart, this event might bring me unique seasonal cheer. We’ll see where I decide.

Thursday, Dec 13:

Beer in front of roaring fire: can actually be accomplished at Madam's Organ, first floor, back bar. Totally awesome.

Beer in front of roaring fire: can actually be accomplished at Madam’s Organ, first floor, back bar. Totally awesome.

Though I will likely go to Madam’s Organ for drunkeoke and my favorite salsa band, I’m insanely tempted to check out the Secret Stash Party at Scion. With over 50 beers not usually offered in DC, this is a brewnerd’s winter acid trip. Regardless of venue, I will likely be seeing a gentleman caller for our second date Thursday night. Mildly nervous. Details to follow.

Friday, Dec 14:

I’m stoked to finally check out an After Hours event at the Crime and Punishment Museum. This month, they celebrate the end of Prohibition with an all-out Roaring 20’s party, hosted by Canadian Club whisky. Throw on your pinstripes and flapper dresses, get to the speakeasy bar, and run free in the shut-down museum from 7-11pm. I’m so flustered, I don’t know which of my gangster getups to wear! Tickets may be purchased on the Museum site, or for half-off for one more day on Groupon— doesn’t matter for me, I’m on the guest list!

Team United Nations will merge again for a night of combined alliance for seasonal shenanigans.

Saturday, Dec 15th:

This coming weekend, my newest favorite neighborhood dive, The Pinch, is hosting a four-day Holiday Apocalypse Party. I’ve been a few times for food and late-night fun. The owner is a great guy, and passionate about quick, fantastic service, and the staff definitely deliver it. Plus, the downstairs stage throws me back to my years as a college live-band-party coordinator, and I mean that in the best way possible! Drinks are strong, beers are quite choice, and it’s all served with the neighborhood dive vibe we all love.

Friday the 14th is a JAILBREAK party, with four DJs bringing 70’s punk, glam, garage, and power pop on vinyl. Saturday night is an album release party for PRIESTS, with three additional performances. Sunday is Hangover Brunch Day, highly recommend the french toast and donuts; bottomless screwdrivers rock my world. The Apocalypse ends with a final show Monday, with DC’s the Sniff and a hometown throwback with Philly’s Cousin Brian. No Cover, any night. Killer atmosphere guaranteed. Wish Big Bro and Jules Junior were here to enjoy a joint DiscoCity-Philly bash.

ALCOHOLIC GOAL OF THE WEEK:

I want this in my mouth SO BAD. #dirtysecrets

I want this in my mouth SO BAD. #dirtysecrets

If I don’t track down and consumer the new Crown Royal Maple whisky, I will die. This is not a joke. I don’t joke about whisk[e]y/bourbon. Unless I tell you your drink doesn’t have any, because that’s a funny lie. If I made the drink, it’s in there. And the joke is, you’ll enjoy it.

So if you help me find this, I will buy you a drink (of your choice), on a night (possibly of your choice). I have been searching like a heartbroken, lost puppy every since my stepdad told me about this over Turkey Day. Message me here, or please tweet me, so I’ll receive news even faster. Thanks for keeping my holidaze cheery!

Late– for a Very Important Date!

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Or at least it could have been.

Waiting for a date at Jack Rose, I learned more about Notre Dame basketball than I care to remember (my F’in Irish friends would be so proud). By the time he arrived, I had already turned one attractive guy down and had been chatted up by the charismatic bartender for a solid fifteen minutes.

Here’s the thing about being late: it’s not just what it says about your priorities on meeting me. It’s not just my time you waste. It’s about the interest you lose to the hotter, more ambitious men at the bar who are not only approaching me– they’re present. Too bad this kid struck out before he even arrived.

I swear, I gave him a chance. He was as tall as advertised. Definitely as smart. But just not as cute, and his lack of punctuality cost him. Time is money, no? This is why, when I give advice to guy friends, I tell them to get there early. That way, they don’t leave opportunity for this to occur. And bonus: they have time to down a Scotch to calm any nerves. [Or just to enjoy in solitude.] Honestly, that’s why I don’t mind arriving first. Just sucks for the guy when the unfortunate happens…

He shoots! He misses...

He shoots! He misses…

The dating collateral lost by running late creates a sub- or fully-conscious predisposition to judge any further dealings with you at that level. Before you even take your seat, I’ve seen cute guys. I’ve been hit on by cute guys. And now, I expect you to match or improve on my night so far. No matter how cute some of you are, these memories will remain. If, at the beginning, I think, “this bartender is hot”– at the end, I will still think, “this bartender is hot”. With the addition of “and my date is not”.

Sorry, but the truth’s a bitch. If he had shown up on time, I wouldn’t have had attractive experiences to get me all charged up for disappointment. I still wouldn’t have been attracted enough for a second date either way [probably not]. But it might’ve been a more successful date [maybe]. He at least might have had the chance to ask to meet up again [unlikely]. Instead, we had interesting conversation while I internally had to block myself from scoping out the bartender too often.

The night would've gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck...

The night would’ve gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck…

So while you’re banging you head against the metro door, cursing yourself for running late [or just not giving a shit, because you’re an asshole], just remember this: all those thoughts of the girl you’re meeting being stolen by some charming stranger at the bar? It isn’t paranoia. It’s actually happening.

Because while my date was struggling with the Red Line, I had a bourbon bought by the bartender who then introduced himself, asked again where I mentioned I work, and talked about returning the favor by coming to visit my bar sometime.

Guess who had my number in their pocket by the end of the night.

Our Day Will Come

Oh, geez, so cute. So cute, it hurts. Hurts so cute.

Tomorrow, I will be seeing my high school sweetheart for the first time in eight years.

It’s a crazy thought on so many levels. The fact I’m getting to see him; the fact we’ve kept in touch over the years– hell, the fact it’s been EIGHT YEARS. I’m not even close to old enough to have that long since I’ve seen someone significant, but there it is.

I should start at the beginning.

We were just kids when we met. When I started high school, I went on a volunteer trip with my church group. This one guy was a bit older, and I had a harmless schoolgirl crush on him. That is, until we talked a lot the last night of the trip and found out he liked me, too. Our group had stayed at the church we were rebuilding in the Blue Ridge mountains. We started talking about his training in the Army Reserve and plans to join after high school, and my particular hippie leanings as a pacifist. We wandered around the grounds and ended up in the field behind the church, under the night sky. Epic, adorable, romantic. Sparks flew. My teenage heart didn’t stand a chance.

And neither did our relationship. When my mom found out how old he was, she was [ok, fine, somewhat understandably] unsettled. I was a freshman, he was a senior. Three years is a pretty big difference, at that age. But I had always been an old soul, and a damn stubborn one at that. We fought over it. I had my first real taste of teenage rebellion, and relished the secret online contact and late-night phone calls that ended in us falling asleep. We talked constantly. I daydreamed in school. He wanted me to visit, meet his family, even go to Prom. I was smitten with the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe of it all. Not only was he a soon-to-be solider and I a card-carrying pacifist, but our families didn’t remotely approve.

Distance never works.

This continued for months, until we had another church trip that winter. By then, the strain of distance and family disapproval had weighed on me. The adult supervisors were keen to the situation, and it soured the experience. It was bittersweet to see him, knowing I might not again. I crumbled under the pressure, and we agreed to get emotional distance to match the physical separation. I gave him a peace sign ring I always wore, as a joke to remember me by. I was utterly heartbroken.

In retrospect, I was a kid and bounced back just fine. We hadn’t been exclusive the entire time, so it wasn’t much of a social change for me, but the emotional impact felt real. The romance was over.

But the story didn’t end. We looked each other up over the years, and kept in contact pretty consistently. I found out that after we lost touch after the initial break, he did actually sign up with the Army. He was deployed to Iraq from ’05-’06, and was injured twice. The second injury was enough to have him sent home.

I heard through the grapevine that something had happened to him, and tracked him down via the wonderful interwebs. It had been two years since we’d talked. He said he had wanted to find me the second he got home from Iraq, but didn’t think I wanted to hear from him. Absurd. Of course I wanted to hear that he was alright. So we caught each other up, and went back into a sort of pen pal connection. We’d talk about our days, what kept us busy, who we were seeing, the heartaches, the happiness. Our favorite color. That awesome band we just saw live. The usual conversations of our age. Friendship.

There were sweeter moments, too. On nights when he couldn’t sleep after work, or I was up late writing a paper for college, we’d talk about that summer night under the stars, or the winter trip in the snow. It was fun to think back. When that movie, Dear John, came out about an Iraq War romance, we both watched it online together. [The movie is total crap, don’t watch it; we ended up just laughing the whole time.] At some point over the years, he confessed how often he thought of me in Iraq. It comforted him to have someone to fight for, and it brightened his day to think of how I would have hated him holding a gun in the first place. Said he could hear me in his head sometimes, railing against the concept of war. Surrounded by bombs thundering and guns firing, I made him smile.

Our personalities in a nutshell.

One night, he told me that he even brought the ring I had given him with to Iraq, and sometimes kept it on his dog tags for good luck. The second time he was injured, his Humvee was blown up. The explosion tore away both his tags and our ring. He told me how furious he was to have lost it. He always thought to come home safe, find me, and show me that it had been his good luck charm. I cried that it hadn’t been good enough to keep him safe. He replied that it did work; he was alive, wasn’t he?

Our relationship has represented a sort of romantic nostalgia over the years. It’s mellowed into a calm, warm place inside me. No matter how small other heartbreaks might tear me, those memories can always piece me back into a smile. He’s my chicken soup.

And now I get to see him, after all these years. He’s from Silver Spring, so he’s back this week for the holiday family visit, and we’re meeting up tomorrow. Jules Junior asked if I’m nervous– I can’t lie, butterflies have invaded my stomach. He hasn’t seen me since I was fifteen! Now that we’re adults, is this going to be weird? What the hell should I wear? And I’m concerned that he might want to initiate something! I don’t want to ruin what we have together by reigniting long-distance yearnings that spoil it. [And if Fairfax is too far away for me to date, South Carolina is practically the moon!] But it will be unreal to be in the same place just the same.

We’re going to meet on the steps of Natural History and kick around the museums and monuments. He hasn’t been down to DC proper in years, despite being a semi-local, so we’ll play at being tourists. Apparently we have a knack for being a picturesque, cliché duo. I’m not complaining. I’m pretty confident about our status in each other’s futures as the bright light/ chicken soup, and am bubbling with butterflies at the chance to add another day of memories to the story.

You know you’re just as excited for the sequel.

To be continued….

Return of the Jedi

You know how Star Wars started off brilliantly, sucked for a bit in the Empire Strikes Back, and then nailed it again in the final film? Because that’s been my past few months.

Wait– you’re not a 40 year old nerd-virgin [nerdgin?] reading this at 4 a.m. in your parent’s basement between Halo games? My bad; I’ll explain.

Fuck. King. Adorable.

So Star Wars is hands down one of the greatest stories of all time. [Just accept this as fact and continue.] I’m not talking about those new-fangled crap ones with Hayden Christiansen and CGI with speech impediments, which are not recognized in my world. I mean the original three. I grew up fighting with my siblings over whether to watch the one where the guys have to slice open and climb inside an unlucky animal in order to survive arctic weather, or to watch the one with those fucking adorable ewoks.

Y’know which one typically won out? The one with fucking adorable ewoks. Because Return of the Jedi is the best of the trilogy, and Empire Strikes back is just a heap of daddy issues and really weird incestuous undertones. Can’t beat ewoks.

So my past year’s been stellar. It had it’s ups and downs, sure, but it’s overall been pretty on par with A New Hope [the lesser-known but actual title of the first Star Wars film]:

Pretty sure this scene is actually a DC documentary; see end of article

1: I moved away from my childhood home [which was considerably cooler than Luke’s, despite our lack of robots].

2: I’ve met a bunch of charismatic, attractive new friends who are equal parts totally awesome and complete trouble: check.

3: I’ve even hung out in bars with aliens to drink questionable cocktails and listen to funky jazz. Done and done.

Conclusion: I am Luke Skywalker.

Which brings me to the Empire Strikes Back– the second movie, and my past few months.

I switched restaurants to one in my actual neighborhood, with the added bonus of live music three nights a week. The food is great, drinks even better, and staff rocks my socks. My coworkers are a great [yes, and dysfunctional] family. I’ve mostly worked five or six shifts a week, have added ‘Bartender’ to my growing list of titles, and remembered just how much I genuinely enjoy serving. [Much better than hosting.] It’s been a lot of hard work, harder hours, and working to properly balance the ‘party hard’ end of that equation. I struggled with my identity as a college graduate working in underemployment. Never thought I would identify with something as dorky as Luke Skywalker, but I was definitely feeling his level of angst at my current state.

After two months of that, I received a call from my former Middle East policy internship. They needed a new, part-time coordinator during the week, and wanted me. Oh, happy day! So now I’m working at the office during the day, fending off pushy calls from diplomats and journalists, and nights and the bar, indulging my smartass social side. It’s a fair balance. There are even ewoks. [In the form of cute, nerdy hipsters; working our Trivia Night every week has been fun.] I’m still mid-movie and have yet to do final battle with Darth Job-Market to triumph for a full-time, stable, field-appropriate job…. But I’m definitely enjoying the plot for right now.

And, folks… there are even some dating shenanigans afoot. I happen to be a bit sweet on a certain cute nerd from one of my bar’s regular trivia teams, and just might do something about it. He’s no Han Solo, but his dimples and stellar trivia scores make up for it. And to throw family back into the mix, Jules Junior is coming to visit this weekend… I’m sure THAT will stir up enough trouble for our next chapter….

Signing off to return to top secret Dating-Jedi business [until I tell you about it next time],

-Jules

p.s. I would like to conclude that this has, without a doubt, been the dweebiest thing I’ve ever written– but hey, since I wrote it, it’s now geek chic. And if you’ve read this far, it looks like I’m in good company.

Grow a Pair

It’s all fine and dandy for advice columnists to write about “putting yourself out there” romantically, or “staying positive” on the job hunt. That’d be just peachy, if I had picked up your article to save on a psychiatric bill– but I’m not here for my mental health, I’m here to figure how to get results. I don’t need your feel-good platitudes, I need a damn job.

What I realize more and more each day is that, for most people in this world, you only get what you want if you barrel into an obstacle with the bull-headed determination to refuse anything other than success. [Trust fund babies can politely bite me.] You might smash half the china shop, but at least it’s progress– right? You sure as hell won’t get anywhere sitting on your ass, unless you’re looking for obesity and a cardiac trip to the ER. So walk up to the cute person at the party, introduce yourself, and show some damn initiative.

College: one educational step forward, two financial steps backwards, and a professional step upside-down.

Clearly, I’m in a feisty mood this week. [Or maybe it’s just frustration? I’ll go with both; they tend to go hand-in-hand with me.] My restaurant is closed for the next few months for renovations, and I’m left not only looking for a real job, but without the measly paycheck I’ve subsisted on the past year to support my fanatic career hunt. This is a terrifying time, folks. I have a three-digit bank balance and bills due in two weeks. My conclusion: I need to up my game, pronto. Evidently, the 100+ applications I send out a week aren’t cutting it, and the two staffing agencies I’m a candidate for haven’t helped. At most, they get my hopes up for a day or two a week, only to promptly smash them with a “the client chose someone with more relevant experience”. Which, to me, only says: “Hey, Jules, another employer thinks you’re irrelevant!” Well, fuck you kindly, too. I didn’t want to process your advertising information anyway.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. A friend told me that one of his buddies got a job last year by walking her resume straight in to HR. The ad only specified no calls. So I’m compiling a list today of places to drop in for mild harassment next week! Hey, it’ll be lovely: “You asked for no calls, but said nothing about walk-ins, so I thought I would hand it in personally and say hello.” That’s charming, right? Right??

The moment I realize I like someone:
when I get these bad enough to blush.

Which bring me to this week’s problème d’amour: if I need to up my game professionally, a large majority of this city needs to step up personally. Washington needs to take its professional motivation and translate it into social life. Grow a pair, initiate, and follow through. Why doesn’t anyone walk up to the guy/ girl they’re into and say, “Hi, I think your cute/ interesting/ cooler than dinosaurs, want to go out/ dance/ jump in a fountain with me sometime?” Because honestly, those sort of straightforward shenanigans are just about all that I want. Chalk it up to being a budding adrenaline junkie. Nothing makes me smile like those butterfly whirlwinds that speed out of your stomach and overwhelm the whole body. What can I say? That’s what I want. To feel like crazed little butterflies are electrocuting my nervous system.

But hell, it seems like no one does it anymore– walk right up to someone pretty and say hello. So, to chase down the possibility of this idea, I went to the Offline Society’s inaugural event for DC singles last week, and was blown away. It was a remarkable collection of incredibly attractive, active, and interesting individuals. The ladies of the Society put together a superior event of classy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and first-rate characters. I saw some sparks fly, and later recognized several connections made at the party continuing their night together at Wonderland Bar. Success? I think so. Common for DC? I think not. What made the event– and concept as a whole– so wonderful is the sad rarity of such behavior. Men and women were walking right up to each other to introduce themselves and take a leap. The Offline ladies did a fantastic job of getting everyone pumped up for putting themselves out there, and there was constant evidence of their skill in each stranger’s approach. But how is this sad?

LIES. Real men grow a pair and do it, Boromir.
No wonder Tolkien killed you off.

Because it just doesn’t happen like that often. Sure, guys approach hot girls at the bar, maybe to offer a drink, though more often than not it’s just a solicitation to rub bodies on the dance floor. And of course, at house parties, new people meet and talk. But while clubs are meant for the carnal alcohol, parties are more platonic social. We go to parties with either someone [or two] in mind for the end-goal, or for a night out with a crew of friends. Even if you meet someone new and interesting, you’re out with a group and it’s a bit difficult– or sometimes embarrassing– to throw out some game with friends looking on. So we pull back and act more reserved under the limelight. [Yes, even me. For the most part, I’ve no problem with it, but we all have shy days!]

Once you get past that first hello, first date, or even first kiss, people around here still seem to have a problem with courage. I know the whole world isn’t keen on actual communication, especially when it involves emotion– but grow up. I’m very clear with what I want out of life, relationships, and even simple hook-ups. So figure out what you want [even if it’s that you don’t know], and be up-front about it. At the very least, it’ll earn you less social confusion. I was talking with a friend recently, and he agrees. If he likes someone, he asks her out and he doesn’t waffle over the details. It’s a question of “this-day-this-time-this-place, you in?” Cole’s definitely on to something there, because it shows both initiative and follow through. It’s honest, assertive, and endearing; what could be better?

Right now, I want something real. I want to have an affair of uninhibited passion, where it’s no one’s damn business what’s going on but our own. I want to stop wanting to do something, and having to tell myself ‘no’ because it’ll come off as too intense. We’re all comfortable with publicly showing our driven ambition here in DC, so why not allow that same freedom in our dating world? I’m tired of restraining myself for fear of scaring a guy into thinking I want to settle down and be exclusive. That’s not on my mind right now. I just want the freedom to feel what I’m feeling, and that involves a heaping dose of passion. I want the freedom to be me.

Next to any definition of ‘classy as fuck’, notice her lovely portrait.

When someone kisses me and tells me they’re interested, after I tell them when I want, this is what I DON’T expect to happen: not hearing from them again until the next time we’re out with mutual friends. It happens to the best of us—and we all know the best includes me! Apparently I need to make myself even clearer: I don’t play those games, so don’t fuck with me. Each time something like this happens, Sally and I discuss the many ways that people suck over a bottle of wine [it’s wonderfully cliché, you should try it]. What constantly happens is her exasperated, “What is wrong with men?”, and my immediate, “These aren’t men—they’re boys.” When this weak or wishy-washy behavior happens, you’re clearly dealing with a Peter Pan of some sort who needs to grow a pair. So move on, Wendy, and find a man who knows what he wants, or at least wants to figure it out.

So if I tell this to someone I’ve sparked with, and he says he wants it, that communicates a green light to me. Because when other people talk, I actually listen. If you tell me something, I’m going to take you at your word. Being genuine might come naturally, but honesty takes some serious backbone. Saying what you mean isn’t always easy, or comfortable, or expedient. This isn’t naïveté, it’s a solid expectation. An expectation that you aren’t a liar with your fingers crossed behind your back, or a wimp that will later bitch out on the follow-through.  I don’t use my words just because they feel right in that moment, or because it’ll get me what I want for the night– I speak because it’s true.

expect better from the people I spend my time with. It isn’t a standard I will ever lower; it’s a deal-breaker. It might come off as the cause of many-a-sticky-situation, but really it’s very straightforward. Say what you mean, mean what you say– or get the hell out of my way. It’s that simple. Whether it’s balls or ovaries, we all need to man- and woman-up and grow a pair.

I have the audacity to go for what I want. Do you?

And because the lyrics crack me up so perfectly, I have to include your Ke$ha dose for the month. It’s true– when you grow a pair, you can call me back.

Singles’ Mixers, and Jules Joins the Pink Line Project

These girls are wicked classy; tomorrow will be a gas, without a doubt.

“Once upon a time, offline wasn’t even a word… You caught someone’s eye across a room. Your stomach leapt. There was chemistry. This was back in the time of romance. Back in the real world.” –The Offline Society

Hello, world! So I’ve joined on with the Pink Line Project as a society-and-dating writer– three hips and a hooray for me! Below is a teaser of my article, found in their Noise section, “The Offline Society: Bringing Romance to the Real World”

Our generation doesn’t live in the real world often anymore—we live online. With all the social media sites “you just have to join!” popping up, it’s tough enough to keep up with your evidently-crucial internet life, let alone an actual one. So many of us, craving that fabled romance of times gone by, search in the only place we know: the internet.

“Hi, my name is Jules, and I am an online dater.”

Yes, you all better chorus a dull “hiiii, Juuulllless…”

The Offline Society has an answer for this generational dilemma:

The three lovely ladies of the rising Offline Society have witnessed—and experienced—this struggle they call “internet-dating fatigue”. They’re offering a solution. In a strange mix of futuristic innovation and historic throwback, they have created a novel concept. According to their press release, “the Offline Society is a carefully curated club of ladies and gentlemen who could all be described as ‘quite the catch’. We gather in a private row home over old -fashioned cocktails and lively conversation. The mood is relaxed and there’s a hint of magic in the air.”

Again, read the full article here with Pink Line Project, and maybe step up your game with me tomorrow night? They’re bringing DC to ‘an era of people, not profiles’, and I sure as hell want to be a part of it.

Don’t you?

Booze, Brilliance, and Birthday Bonanza!

It’s Friday the 13th, and the day before France’s and my birthday– oh lordy, Washington, you’re in for a whole mess of trouble!

As I rattled off a list of increasingly elaborate specialty cocktails and hot-weather treats the other night that I’ve planned for Saturday, my friend Theon’s expression grew more and more amused. With a mildly sardonic grin, he sassed back, “So, you really like birthdays, huh?”

Every year, I imagine that the entire nation of France is celebrating the glorious anniversary of my grand birth– July 14th is a special time.

Well, sort of. I really like celebrations. Commemorating anything from anniversaries and birthdays to a promotion or new house: they all deserve parties. I see them as a way to show karma that I’m grateful for not being beaten up for once. Everyone should be thankful for the sweet things in life. I enjoy throwing parties just because it’s Thursday and I’m bored– but something legitimate, like a birthday? Oh, it’s going down.

Anyone from my pre-DC life is well acquainted with the legendary parties. Theme parties were a huge thing (Sally can attest to this; her Sexual Fetish Party was my favorite), but our celebrations were just as killer. But I haven’t actually thrown a party here yet. Potlucks, yes. Little 25-people soirees, sure. but parties? Not as I understand the definition. My own birthday has fallen through the cracks many-a-year. Last year, I’d just moved to DC and didn’t know many folks. My good friends on Team United Nations definitely made it a wonderful night, but it made it clear that I was no longer in my home of two decades, where I’d be instantly surrounded by 50+ friends and funnies the second I set foot outside my door.

This year, I plan to change that. And since I’m one of the best party planners I know, I’m taking the reigns for my own parade! So we’re going to have all sorts of fun yummies. There will be firecrackers/works. There may be a water balloon fight in the back alley. I also just bought a punch container from Target, which I plan to keep full all night.

If you know/meet me in real life, there is one thing you should know: I love whiskey. No, not in a “yay, whiskey sours are yummy, let’s make it sugar-rimmed!” way. I mean in a drink-neat-because-ice-dilutes-it way. [Though I do drink certain ones on the rocks.] I’ll hold back before I write a full post on whiskey instead of parties, like I planned, but that’s the bottom line: it isn’t a party without whiskey. And I’m not a happy birthday girl without my favorite, the ultimate whiskey drink:

He will be mine… Oh, yes… He will be mine…

the Old Fashioned:

2 oz bourbon whiskey
2 dashes Angostura® bitters
1 splash water
1 tsp sugar
maraschino cherry
orange wedge

Melt sugar in dash of water and bitters. Drop in cherry and orange; muddle [i.e. smash together with blunt object]. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice, and stir. Enjoy that you are now classy as fuck, and more likely to be friends with me. I just might have one for breakfast, to start my birthday off perfectly. Hey! There’s fruit in, so it’s healthy… right?

[Some add a splash of club soda; I am not one of those people. If I see you pour soda, grenadine, cherry juice, or any other contaminates into my Old Fashioned, I will smack you into next Tuesday. Don’t argue.]

Anyway, on to the really exciting treats prepared for tomorrow:

It’s all the alcohol and sugar, with none of the “digging around a shot with your finger and looking like a moron” embarrassment.

Orange Slice Jello Shots

Hands-down the coolest idea I’ve heard since home-brewed beer. Alright, maybe not that baller, but still pretty nifty.

STEP 1: make your vodka jello [or non-adult jello]. For two packets of jello, I did four cups boiling water, two cups cold, and two cups vodka.

STEP 2: You take large oranges and cut them in half. [I’m talking softball-sized.]

STEP 3: Scoop out the yummy parts– I used a thin spoon– and consume. Or save for later to make a rum bucket. [I swear I’m not an alcoholic.]

STEP 4: Now, don’t make the mistake I did and think that your jello-filled orange halves will stand up and not spill; you will be covered in jello. So fill a pyrex or cookie sheet with something to prop them up [I used uncooked lentils], fill the halves, nestle them into the dish, and pop into the fridge.

STEP 5: 4-5 hours later, take out, cut like a cantaloupe, and marvel at the brilliance of orange peel jello shots.

Picture of my actual ones coming soon: but those look delicious.

Strawberry Rum Popsicles

That’s right, kids: we can take every childhood memory and turn it into a fun, drunk party throwback!

STEP 1: Mix together your juice of choice, rum: two parts juice, one part rum.

STEP 2: Pour into freezable containers. I used these Dixie-type little plastic shot glasses. Rule of thumb: when debating which to get, remember it has to fit in your mouth. No showing off– make it enjoyable for everyone.

STEP 3: Put into freezer and forget about them; set alarm for 4+ hours later.

STEP 4: Check the freezing process. When there’s a substantial 1.4 inch slushy frost along the top, take out and shove sticks in. I found colorful drink stirrers at Target, instead of the wooden classics, but there are loads of options.

STEP 5: Return to freezer and actually forget about them until the next day, when you can bring guests melting from the heat to the fridge and surprise with icey goodness.

The classic “Funnel Method”, and my traditional process.

Wodkamelon

Use your head: it’s exactly what you think it is. That’s right! Vodka watermelon, everyone’s favorite! Not everyone? Well, more for me!

I’m not always a serious vodka-lover, but this is a case where it is absolutely called for. I keep passing the fruit vendors around Columbia Heights with naturally-impossible, gargantuan melons piled high in the back of their trucks. Every time I do, I imagine what a bitch they must be to carry home, or have the strong urge to insist on the massive one right at the bottom of the pile. Either way, the sight fills me with mischief, and I’m inspired to purchase and fill one with alcoholic glory.

It’s an easy process.

The “Risky Technique” that makes me nervous.

STEP 1: Purchase a plain-old-watermelon [preferably from one of those sketchy fruit-pushers on the street corner.]

STEP 2: Carve a hole in the top like a Jack-o-lantern. Make sure it cuts a few inches down into the red fruity bits. Keep plug for later.

STEP 3: This is where the time-consuming aspect comes in. Prop a funnel into the hole, and fill with vodka. Leave for awhile. Come back, and repeat.

STEP 4: Continue process until your melon is suitably intoxicated. For the giant one I’m going to buy today, I will likely use a good 2/3+ of a handle. And I chose a flavored vodka– you have to guess which one.

STEP 5: After a full night fermenting in inebriated wonder, bust it out mid-party and share the wealth.

Controversy: The marinating-process is a debated affair. Some people, like I was taught, use the “Funnel Method” [i.e. gradually returning to pour more into the funnel over a series of hours]. Others will cut the hole deep enough and upturn the entire bottle over the melon. This concept makes me nervous; I don’t want to return to a kitchen covered in vodka. I understand the physics of it, but still don’t trust it. I welcome feedback on the debate, though.

Jungle Juice: ginger ale, vodka, V8 Splash, possibly fruit and/or sorbet.

Skippy: beer, vodka, lemonade. As I like to keep regular drinks about for non-alcoholic friends, lemonade is always in the house. But with all the vodka around for a party, that also means one of my favorite summer beer-tails! And with a full keg [Yuengling, I think?], there will be plenty of beer.

In short: tomorrow will be a very long, spectacular show of intoxication, love, and magnificence. How will YOU be celebrating my birthday?

Timing’s a Bitch in Limbo

DC in a nutshell: The Waiting Place. Where people are waiting for things like a Yes or No, the fish to bite, a Better Break, or Another Chance.

No, seriously: she really is.

In love, as much as the rest of life, Timing is a bitch. Nothing fun happens when she isn’t there, it’s all about her, and we all love to hate her. But we also need her. Because, without Timing, your efforts are futile and will likely land you in some sort of purgatory.

If you had sent in your resume right at 9am Monday, instead of dicking around with the semantics of your cover letter, then you might have had a chance to be in the first 50 applicants for that new job in a Hill office. Instead, you agonized over the perfect wording to properly present just how fantastic you would be for the grunt-position of constituent correspondent, or whatever dirt-level job is open. Congratulations, you are the 300th applicant! As a wonderful prize, you will receive an automated rejection e-mail in 2-6 weeks, long after you have forgotten you even applied, and will only serve to remind you about just how pointless job hunting is! [Related: job hunting is also a bitch.]

Correction: This is a gender-neutral message, my Brobi-Wan Kenobi. Evidence: Ted and Robin. #HIMYM

If you had leaned in to kiss the girl even an hour earlier in the night, she would have realized it wasn’t just a late-night decision based on alcohol and hormones, but something you’d wanted to do the entire day you spent with her. But instead, because you waited until too late (and we all know nothing good happens after 2am), your night ended with a “we should probably go sleep it off” tragic dive-bomb into the Friend Zone.

This is not a discussion of the Friend Zone– that will have to do for another day. But I will say this: I don’t do well with ambiguity. I strive for a fair equilibrium in my life, and manage to juggle pretty well on my own two feet. I prefer knowing where I stand in the world, so I’m intensely unsettled when outcomes hang in the balance. Uncertainty is a part of life, and I accept it, but the whole point of life is to take change and push that uncertainty in a specific direction. Namely: forward. Only you can decide which way is the right forward for you, but don’t be a wishy-washy bitch about it, Charlie Brown. [More on Charlie Brown and life in the Friend Zone in my next article.]

So for me, those are the moments when Timing is the Ultimate Bitch. We’ve all been there. [If you haven’t, then you clearly haven’t lived, possess all the luck stolen from Ireland, or are possibly a-sexual.] Timing blows enough as it is for those of us on the job hunt, but being the bitchy busybody she is, she has to go and stick her nose into our love lives as well. And here in DC? People rarely give the Time of Day, let alone giving away their Free Time, because Time is Money. And there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so the same goes for Time. Right? That seems to be the attitude here, myself included.

I’m nowhere close to an exception to the rule. I use the excuse “I just don’t have the time” for everything from dates I’m just not feeling or parties too far out in suburbia to visiting family and friends or going to job fairs. Sure, sometimes we really are too busy– but most of the time we’re just posturing. Whether it’s for propriety’s sake or procrastination, Timing is the butt-end of countless excuses. So is she really a bitch, or simply the universe’s scapegoat?

In this case, I’d say Timing’s being more than just a scapegoat– she’s a Grade-A Bitch.

If you need good timing to find a job or date, why not adopt a make-your-own-destiny mentality? Yes, both the professional and romantic worlds have a multitude of levels, each with their own factors influencing the outcome. But at least with this mindset, you can eliminate a few of them. Don’t go for the guy/girl who is clearly recently single and burdened with baggage, or contact HR for a company that is downsizing and obviously not hiring. Timing gets blamed for what are actually a lot of failures in common sense. The true Timing situations, like  crushing on your roommate/boss/best friend/etc are genuinely sticky situations. More than Timing, those are issues of social taboo. We have protocols to follow, and most people toe the company line. But it isn’t Timing’s fault, it’s your decision. So fess up and take responsibility for your life; and if you want to change it, take charge.

At the end of the day, you can cave to the concept of fate and surrender. Or you can woman-[or man]-up and show Timing who’s boss. If she’s going to be a bitch either way, scapegoat or not, then I’m going out to make Timing my bitch, and use her help any way I can.

DC and Me: Our 1st Anniversary

It has been a full year since I moved here to the day, and this is now officially the longest relationship I’ve been in– way to break my record! Honestly, if anyone could do it, it would be Washington. This city has stamina.

And it seems like, for anniversary presents, DC is sending a bunch of changes and exciting things my way. Hooray! I love surprises!

Double Trouble

I swear, she even does the bouncy-walk Ducky does.

First and foremost, my sister has come to stay for the summer! The lucky little genius is interning at one of those extra-important buildings downtown, which security measures prevent me from naming at this time [though I’m told I’ll be allowed to divulge this after her program is over]. So this means we’re time-travelling back to the good ol’ days when we shared a room way back in the 90’s. [She will hereafter be known as Jules Jr., Junior, JJ, or any other inanity that strikes my fancy. Especially Ducky, her character from Land Before Time when we were kids.] Yessirree, it’s going to be a summer-long slumber party, backyard potluck, and city life sisterhood– with the added big-kid-bonus of [mostly-] legally-obtained adult beverages.

Everyone’s response to the news seems to be a cautiously probing, “So… is this a good thing?” And my answer is always an ecstatic “YES!” Junior and I are perfectly alike and wonderfully different in all those fun, symbiotic ways that make sisters awesome. I’d say it’s worth giving up some privacy [and yes, certain adult uses of the bedroom] to share an epic summer with my Second in Command. Call it the honeymoon phase, but it’s been a week, and we’re having a blast. We will be hosting our first shared soiree this Saturday, and it’s sure to be full of memorable, wodkamelon-induced shenanigans.


Hmm… tempting addition.

Pending Professionalism

That’s right, there have been some moves on the job-front. Last week, I found a wonderfully enthusiastic staffing agency that’s excited to help, and within 24 hours, secured me an interview. I ran over to the development firm interested in meeting me and had a fantastic interview; unfortunately, they went with someone more qualified.

In an effort for full honesty, I was a bit broken-hearted after the news yesterday. I called my mom, reached out to some friends, had a therapeutic cry, then went to the restaurant for work. At work, everyone seemed to pick up on the mood and were extra-adorable in playing around with me. It turned into a pretty zen night, despite the chaos of a surprisingly hectic turnout for a Monday night. I think I find my inner balance way easier when surrounded by chaos– my place in hospitality and politics should be no surprise.

C’est la vie, right? At least they wanted to meet me in the first place! Now waiting for the next interview to be lined up, so fingers crossed that big changes come my way.

Heatin’ Up for the Summer

And I’m not just talking about the weather… That’s right, I’m rather taken with a guy. Next post will cough up the dirt, I promise, but I’ll just say this: the Classicist is absolutely fascinating. It was out of nowhere, and is still surprising me, but I’m loving it. No, I’m still stuck in my monoga-me lifestyle, so no domestication is in sight. But now I can explore the new concept of ‘affair’ I’ve been toying with. More to come [pun intended?].

What now?

I’m recommitting to writing here. After recent advice [of both the maternal and friendly varieties], I’ve accepted that I can only keep truckin’ to fight the job market. But until then… I should try to figure out what it is I genuinely enjoy doing, and maybe find a way to make a living with it. I know I deeply love growing this site and expanding its possibilities, so that’s my mission for the summer. Take Dating the District to a new level, and see where it in turn takes me– are you ready, DC?

And the ultimate summer feel-good tunes:

Does size matter?

I swear I’m going as her for Halloween one of these years– any takers to be my Roger?

Get your minds out of the gutter– I’m talking about height.

As a rather tall woman myself [stretching out to an often-contested but even 6″], height has played quite a role in my life. But hey– if Jessica Rabbit was a statuesque sex symbol with a shorter, adoring man, then anything is possible, right? I keep repeating a favorite book quote in my head while thinking about this post, “We’re all the same height lying down.” (Kudos if you comment where it’s from!)

There are some pretty ridiculous variables that go into attraction and compatibility, so there’s no point in borrowing trouble and making up new ones… but size is undeniable. Tradition– and basic animal instinct– dictates a larger male/ smaller female dichotomy. But is it required, or just a socially-learned habit?

I don’t know how many times girlfriends joked that it would be great if I were a guy, because I’m their favorite height. Or guy friends tried flattering me by saying they would totally date me if I were shorter– as if that would make a girl feel better, you goobers.

My new standard response. LOVE IT

Apparently it doesn’t bother one of my guy friends (let’s call him Theon, because he’ll like that). He’s dated girls an inch or so taller, and had no problem with it; he actually thinks it’s girls that are ones uncomfortable with the role reversal. A girlfriend and I responded that we always thought it was guys with the height hang-up, and that taller women make them feel less manly or something. Theon laughed and said that he always feels like a man, so he doesn’t have a problem with it… for the most part. “Only, when you’re holding hands with a taller girl, your arm lengths are mismatched and it gets tiring bending your elbow all the time. It’s very hard to look cool with the awkward elbow…”

Awkward elbows aside, I’ve heard the same from several other average-height male friends. My co-worker [of the “Shit Charming Guys Say” article] says that taller women have a certain attitude that he finds attractive– he often tells me that he loves the way I walk around the restaurant with this calm confidence that says “don’t mess with me”. He then proceeds to attempt an imitation, and always fails miserably with a huge grin on his face. But his bottom line is that height doesn’t matter so much as body type. The taller women he’s dated were up to four inches taller, but curvy or slim; compared to his built, stocky figure, it matches. So I’m thinking that Pop-eye and Olive Oil might have been an appropriate representation?

Men don’t have to be taller to be charming.

My romantic history is in no way restricted to 6″4 giants– I’m an equal-opportunity dater! A number of past interests were just my height (which means slightly shorter, since I’ve great posture and a lot of guys don’t), and a few shorter. One was even significantly shorter– by a good five inches. I mostly attribute that to the fact we were friends first (persistence really can earn you a ticket out of the Friend Zone!) Another factor, though, was body type. He might’ve been shorter, but he was stocky and muscular, and I never felt big around him. Despite our reversed vertical roles, he always made me feel properly portioned and feminine.

My problem has always been that dancing and music play very big roles in my life, and mechanical issues arise with shorter guys. Especially since I also like wearing heels on occasion. So it has a lot to do with attitude and self-esteem. Do you have the confidence to date someone of the opposite height-expectation? It worked out the one time with my shorter guy, we danced naturally and had a blast with it. If you’re attracted to them and get along, isn’t the rest just a bunch of details to iron out later? You can always figure out a way to hold hands without the awkward elbow somewhere down the road.

Last night, I met up with a guy that I knew was an inch or so shorter [let’s call him the Classicist, over our shared love of ancient history]. He’s rather cute, and intriguing as hell, so I rolled with it and figured I’d have interesting conversation over drinks at the very least. It went better than well– by the end, we both admitted we hadn’t had such a great time talking to someone in a long while. And he dances; when the subject came up, he jumped on it enthusiastically. At the very end, as we decided we both had fun and would like to meet up again, he leaned in for a good night kiss– that also went very well. So I think we might be able to figure our vertical differences out… we’ll see.

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