History Class

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To Be, or Not To Be [In Love]

What a question!

Oh buddy, am I in trouble.

It has now been six months since I last wrote [refresher: Luck of the Irish]– eep! Yes, I’m still alive, kicking ass, and taking names [i.e. job applications]. Sorry about that. I could blame work, friends, job hunting, or Martian invasions, but we all know the reason: a boy. [Man?] Isn’t that always the reason! But I had half-finished this article, and it stays true. So let’s jump back to the end of the summer, and roughly two months into our relationship.

Two months: my most common expiration date. I’ve only ever dated someone for longer once before, my only titled ‘boyfriend’. But just that week, my Mick was goofing with my hand, gave me a look, and told me my claddagh was facing the wrong way.

thCA848KEZSide note: the claddagh, commonly called the Irish Love ring, is our symbol for true love. I prefer not to call it the Wedding ring, because my grandma told me all good Irish girls wear one; I have since age 16. It is fashioned of a pure heart clasped in the hands of friendship and crowned with loyalty. There are four ways to wear the ring, each with its own meaning. On your right hand, the heart facing out [so others can see the shape properly] tells others you are unattached; facing in means your heart is taken in a committed relationship. The left hand out says engaged, and in is married. Only supposed to be worn on the ring finger. [Duh.] The choice of metal and stone used mean anything from sterling strength, heart of gold, or diamond in the rough. Personally, I go for silver with a heart of green. The color of passion, strength, and Ireland. A perfect claddagh.

Which is now turned in. I’d said it only turns for monogamous relationships, and I’m clearly dating a dozen other guys. Right? [Circle: false.] I later turned it in, quietly beaming. Last night, he noticed again, “It looks like a much better fit this way.”

So that’s that. A subtle answer from a simple man.

Only actually accomplished.  Not fake-accomplished.

Only actually accomplished.
Not fake-accomplished.

When I say ‘simple’, it is meant as the most genuine admiration possible. It is difficult to finish this description of Mick from that earlier perspective, with six months more experience now. But I’ll tell you, I was absolutely starred. He is the kind of strong, good person you don’t meet often. He is a five-year Army veteran of both wars, medically discharged and half-homesick for his military life. We initially met only six months after he got out, he was still adjusting to civilian life when he started working at my Bar. He deserves a medal for being the first coworker I’ve dated; should I have said for ‘War Hero’? Well, the valiant effort succeeded. Mission Accomplished.

The effort was mine. True to form, I do believe I seduced him. He was new, an unusual novelty. Tall, broad, attractive in that solid Irish way. A real man. Maybe a bit withdrawn, a little quiet. I don’t hear it often anymore, but when he did speak up, it was with a slight lisp. Being me, I’d call him out in the kitchen for his silence. Finally, he joked that he was quiet to start, but won’t shut up once he gets going. Nearly a year later, I can vouch for that.

I was a goner from the start.

I was a goner from the start.

So I always had this running Hangman game with the sous chef during slow times at the Bar. It helped keep me from sticking my hand in boiling oil out of boredom. Trying to be inclusive, I pulled Mick into the game, only to find out he is seriously dyslexic. I haven’t figured out if the lisp is from the dyslexia, his severe war injuries, or a combination of all three. All I know is that from a cute, withdrawn veteran… it was rather endearing. So I’d invite him out with the Teambuilders to find trouble. Sometimes it worked; it was hard for him, living out in the boonies without a car. Then one night, I offered the couch instead of his trek home.

I have never been so caught up in a whirlwind. Though we kept it professional at work, all I wanted to do was grab him. After a month, everyone knew. After two, we were exclusive. He called me his best friend, the best thing to hear from your boyfriend. After three, we met the families. A bit early for the judgment, but still another first for me. The first night I met one of his best friends, he told me he had never seen Mick like this. The teasing over him loving me was received with mixed emotions, and made me blush to my Irish roots. After that, we essentially lived together. He bought me a new claddagh for Christmas.

Word-for-word what I wrote six months ago:

“So in the weirdest progression possible, I’m pretty sure I’m falling in love with him. Which is terrifying. I’ve never said that about anyone before. And definitely haven’t said it to anyone. He’s so uninhibited and honest, it makes me shy sometimes. But I’m working on the nerve to say it first. I think. Oh, lordy.”

Though it was rough, I did say it first. And it scared him. A little [lot] tipsy [drunk], it sort of slipped out. He said to not say that word; everything goes to shit after it happens. I was in shock; it was jumping off a cliff and not knowing if I’d be caught when the fall ended. I had never said ‘I love you’ to anyone before. I told him so. It was important for me to say it, even if he couldn’t. I only speak what I mean, so I couldn’t fault him for not saying something he didn’t feel.

The first time he did, a week later, drunk and still scared, I almost cried.

So here I am, ten months later, and I love him. In the immortal words of one of my favorite artists, in my absolute favorite song…. he’s got a hold on me.

)

Three Blushes Make a Crush

Sweater unnecessary-- I will turn that red on my own.

Sweater unnecessary– I will turn that red on my own.

One blush means I’m amused (or have done something stupid). Two blushes = definitely interested. Three blushes, and the deal is sealed.

I have a crush.

Once upon a time… fate, genetics, and a healthy sense of humor got together one night and created my complexion.

We’re talking seriously pale here, folks. To the point of multiple childhood nicknames and countless burns. (I once got a sunburn sitting on a cafe patio by the time I finished lunch. [Okay, it’s happened more than once.]) So the general exertion of walking from A to B, thinking hard, or even the general frustration of where I left my phone– they visibly show. I wear my heart on my skin tone.

Sometimes, I’m like reading a book. I can play a mean game of RISK, and a decent hand of poker… but certain emotions are easy to tell. Denying a crush would be like me calling a ream of paper white; the pot and kettle have nothing on me. So, color me intrigued– literally.

An honest to God, old school, makes-me-blush crush.

We run in the same group of friends, so I can’t tell you who it is. But I can tell you what he’s like.

He’s tall [no surprise], strong [makes me shiver], and goofy as hell [is there any other type I like?]. He’s the kind of guy every girl sits up a little straighter for when he enters a room, but doesn’t notice. He simply knows who he is, and puts it out there in a confident, natural way. Such a straightforward personality is refreshing in a city of professional ladder climbers and social manipulators. The world zeros in when he’s around, to the point where I’m more aware of his proximity to me than whatever I’m actively doing. The rest of life is just on auto-pilot. I’m not just saying he’s attractive; he’s actually beautiful. A lean build, great smile when I tease him, and perfect eye contact. The kind you can’t look away from; as if you would even want to. [Like in oncoming traffic? Doubtful.] I can be quite the cool cucumber, but he’s tripped me up more than once into being damn flustered. And I don’t get flustered.

This drink order says to me: "I have taste, pride, and roots"... Can I join?

What this drink order says to me:
“I have taste, pride, and roots”
…Hey there, can I join?

He’s not the only one I’m sweet on, though.

I pick up crushes like baseball cards. Like this one, most don’t amount to anything more than simple appreciation. I like picking up on something that fascinates me about a person and admiring it. That’s the beauty of crushes. And any little thing can kick start it. A common one lately seems to be a cute guy sitting at My Bar ordering a great beer and shot of Jameson. That one gets me every time– there is something admirably simple about ordering the working-man’s boilermaker that pulls me. Especially when followed by great, easy conversation with an attractive smartass. (I’ve said it before: you DC kids really need to step it up and put yourselves on the line more. Hint: a free drink means the bartender is interested.) This week definitely introduced a new rockstar crush of the boilermaker variety. He only got me to blush twice; we’ll see if he returns as promised to earn the third.

But more than the tripwire that spins me into infatuation are the qualities that keep me there. A quick mind and clever tongue. Culture and curiosity. A sweet nature and spontaneity. Impulsive ideas and the confidence to see them through. Assertive smartasses really steal my heart; no wonder I moved to DC. Right now, I want someone who actually thinks, recognizes their impact on others, and puts it to good use. I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of girl.

I put serious effort into making other people smile with random stunts or little gestures on a daily basis; I like to think there are kindred spirits out there. I even see small moments like someone offering their metro seat, or running after an elderly man to return his dropped glove [happened in front of My Bar Saturday afternoon]. Today, I watched a businessman– fresh off the train with a suitcase and the distinctly-DC running-late look– stop to give a homeless guy two $20’s and tell him things will look up eventually. Heart = warmed. But apparently my personal karma is playing it a bit sadistically these days. Life’s been throwing a number of sharp hardballs my way, and I’ve have a rough time of it. Nothing terrible, just consistently difficult. So I thoroughly enjoy fun times when they come, and safe-keep the sweet moments in my pocket for later.

You owe me a few random acts of happiness, Karma

You owe me a few random acts of happiness, Karma

That translates into when a sweet friend-crush interrupts me to say I have beautiful eyes, or a cute bar patron says I’m trouble and will have to visit again next week….. well, those are the butterflies I keep to make me smile again later. I take these little moments to heart– so don’t break them.

Everyone needs a little more love in their lives. I’m not just talking about candy hearts and teddy bears (though I won’t reject the classics). I mean acknowledging the homeless person you breeze past every day outside Farragut North, or the Metro Express lady in Columbia Heights (who is a real sweet woman). How about helping the mother off the bus with her toddlers and stroller, or giving the elderly a hand. And yes, maybe even bringing a flower to that cute someone who comes to mind, or asking them for a drink. Happiness and romance don’t have to be grand gestures at the Empire State Building or airport terminals. They also don’t have to have some weighted end-game of commitment or marriage. They can be little things. Like just saying, “Hi, I think you’re cool– want to go for a walk?”

So here is my challenge to the City of Politics and Pride: how about you try making a random gesture to brighten someone ELSE’S day, with no goal in mind beyond making someone smile. If you want to share it with the world, tell me about it and I’d love to have a follow-up article of stories. If you want to make it selfless and keep it to yourself, more power to you. But just try it– it’ll make this week more bearable for everyone involved. I promise, warm fuzzies are contagious.

And since I will be working Thursday night: Happy Valentine’s Day, world. This gem is thanks to an NYU Improv friend:

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?

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:

Spring Cleaning and Summer Secrets

In the past month, I have had friends tell me they’re breaking up, changing jobs, moving houses, or switching cities in general– there is clearly something in the air.

Self-portrait in my house in Columbia Heights; critter and gender-ratio representation is accurate

To me, spring cleaning is intensely cathartic. Out with the old, in with the new! It’s all about brushing off the cobwebs, sweeping away the dust, and reestablishing a sense of order and rightness to your life. [Clearly Snow White is more than a simple doppelgänger for me; have I mentioned my apple crisp is legendary?] With this sort of meditation, you’re cleansing yourself both physically and mentally. Gotta love multi-tasking!

So we all switch out our clothes for the colorful and carefree, call friends more often to picnic or happy hour together, and suddenly the entire world seem more appealing and fun. In order to help everyone else de-clutter their lives as squeaky-clean as I have the past week, I’ve made a nifty list of what I’m getting myself into. The first are more expected suggestions; the latter ones, a few extra amusing ideas from yours truly.

DANG, I want a feather-duster! This cartoon is so much cooler than me…

The Kitchen: In my world, a home starts in the kitchen. It’s where you cook and bake and people come together, and ours was falling woefully behind any generally-accepted condition of ‘home-y’ this past winter. So I’ve attacked the entire fridge for a [mildly disturbing] clean, scrubbed our stove, scoured the cabinets, and washed the windows. All that’s needed now is a thorough [read: violent] mopping and fresh coat of paint on the walls. [Just got the okay from our landlords– who likes red kitchens?]

Yardwork: no one wants to party with untrimmed hedges– so get to work! I’ll admit, I’ve only cleaned up the front porch and walkway, but this weekend will be dedicated to tackling the backyard. A jungle seems to grow at a frightening speed at our little bungalow here, but I’m determined to take advantage of having backyard space and hosting people here more often. This means clean patio furniture, pruned veggie plants, and sparkly garden lights, people, so get to Target! [And if you ever want me to grace your potlucks with my presence, please include Citronella candles; DC mosquitos are frighteningly prehistoric!]

 Phone contacts: I went through a deleted all the old college classmates I’ll never hit up, ex-flings I’ll definitely never hit up again, and all those mystery numbers that find their way into your phone after a late-night partying; not sure where they come from (okay, I lied; it’s all the club’s fault, they always appear after going out in Dupont).

Personal projects: You know there’s a mountain of things you want to do, but sweep under the rug in the back of your mind. For me, it’s finishing paintings like the world map I’ve been working on for over a year, and the pile of presents I’ve been making for a certain sister of mine. I’ve wanted to paint my room since I moved in [also a year ago], and have half a dozen articles of clothing that need mending in my sewing bag. I want to de-clutter my closet/life, and donate a bundle of things to the local charity store, Martha’s Table, since I can’t afford monetary support right now.

I do believe I will name him Stephen Colbert Jr., after his father.

My Spring-Forward Resolutions

I want to get a pet goldfish, because taking care of something else always helps remind me to take care of myself. (Though I’m not sure what it inevitably dying will remind me of…) I never seem to really get into the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, and gave up Lent along with going to church back in the day– but every spring, I always seem to dedicate [or re-dedicate] myself to little self-improvements. This year, I’m going to stop biting my nails. Regardless of the increasing severity of my finances, I’m going to get involved in local volunteering and charities more. I’m going to drink less (which will help with my finances as well as health!) and exercise more. I’ve gotta get back to practicing/ expanding my Arabic and French skills. And I really need to keep up with keeping my room clean.

And what it always comes back to, here at Dating the District: ROMANCE.

You know, something dark and secret that you don’t want to share

Reorganized and reenergized, you are in a much better position to get back out there. No, I’m still not personally looking for a monogamous relationship, but I’m definitely open for some adventure. More to come on the concept, but I’ve realized what I want is a passionate affair. Something fun, exciting, and maybe a little bit daring– but not committed and certainly socially no one else’s business. So my next move is to keep an eye out for an exceptionally awesome guy that might fit the bill. I know he’s out there somewhere, in such a hot-blooded city. We’ll find each other.

I’d ask you if anyone comes to mind, but it would ruin the whole point if you knew about it. It’s going to be our little secret.

Good luck with your spring cleaning and summer secrets, readers. I sure as hell know I’m going to enjoy mine, just as much as I enjoy the delicious intensity of Andrew Bird’s song, How Indiscreet.

Just Do It

DON’T JUDGE ME

Sometimes after telling a friend about my most recent flirty shenanigans, they ask how I get up the guts. How? Easy-peasy: I just do it. Seriously, it’s that simple.

You have an impulse struggling to break free from the prison you’ve locked it into in the back of your mind? Slip it the key. Or better yet: explosives, so it can bust outta confinement in style. Out with a BANG!

That’s how I’ve tried to liberate myself since moving to DC. I’m in a new city, new lifestyle, and trying all the lovely new things along with it. I’ve been outgoing and decidedly-Me for most of my life, but this is bringing it to a whole new level. I go out dancing half the week, soak up new friends like it’s my job [wouldn’t that be cool if being social was my job??], and strive daily to do ‘carpe diem’ proud. Vulnerability can be a surprisingly delicious feeling.

I always have a crush on the bartender.
Does that make me an alcoholic?

Most often, this fun growing habit [addiction?] manifests itself in my dating life. I think the bartender that always finds a way to knock down my tab is cute? Well, last Friday, I left him my number on the check along with a note saying “in case you’d like to grab the drink I definitely owe you now”. [Note: this is at a bar my friends and I frequent often, so there is sure to be follow-up on this particular one.] Impulses like these are healthy, natural, and downright exciting as hell– so everyone should take some initiative spice up their own life.

Months ago, there was this boy who played an acoustic and sang  outside the metro across from my restaurant. He was cute, obviously did it just for kicks, and had a variety of genres he’d jump around in. All summer and fall, I’d listen to him while getting the patio ready for dinner or waiting for my bus home, and we’d do that adorable smiling-at-each-other-from-afar thing. Sometimes he’d play this great Hank Williams song, and I one time shouted that was my favorite– after that, any time I walked by, he’d immediately switch over to that song. I don’t usually carry cash on me, and started kicking myself nights he was there. So, I did what any decent girl would do.

I dug through my purse for paper, and wrote him a note. “I always seem to only have bus fare home on me, but have listened to your music long enough that I figure I owe you a drink by now– here’s my number in case you’d like to take me up on it some night.”

He called the next day. Not a text, but a phone call. We talked a bit, and he said he didn’t know bars in the NW neighborhood area very well, but I said the Red Derby had great beer. We each brought a friend, had a great night of conversation, and that was mostly it. He still played my metro stop, and was adorable but a little too timid for me to date. But that’s not the point. We’d talk whenever running into each other, so I just made a cool neighborhood friend and an even greater story.

Don’t give me that “oh, but you’re so much more outgoing than me, Jules!” crap. I was a morbidly shy girl up through most of middle school, complete with bright red blushes and the inability to speak when it came to boys and bullies. Then I took to heart my mama’s best piece of life advice: you are who you want to be. Seriously, it’s that easy. You want to be the extroverted girl flirting in a circle of guys or walking up to a cute guy to buy him a drink? Then get over yourself and just do it. The only thing holding you back is you.

I know this is coming off as preachy, but it’s because this is what’s running through my head whenever I get into such situations. I like a guy at a party, bar, coffeeshop, or any other random place. There’s something I want to say to him. The introvert deep inside wants to just watch or run away, so I tell her to shuttup and walk over before I lose my nerve. I’m a recovering shy girl, it’s a daily struggle to overcome. But I decided early on that I didn’t like being quiet and overlooked, didn’t like being the cute-girl’s-best-friend, and definitely didn’t like that feeling of lost opportunity.

So here’s the deal: the end game for this kind of thing isn’t finding a boyfriend, or even a date. I do them because they make people smile. If the Cute Bartender never calls because he isn’t available, isn’t interested, or isn’t assertive enough to do it, that’s fine. I’m peachy keen without any response. Regardless of the outcome for me, everyone likes knowing they’re admired, and I know my note brightened his day. And isn’t that worth taking a few seconds of your time to express something as simple as “I think you’re cute”? Because it always makes them feel a little better, and it will definitely give you awesome butterflies that you will soon learn to crave. Just like me.

So just do it!

So my little sister and her friend Abigail shot me this video the other day, and it’s naturally been stuck in my head ever since. I think the ridiculously cute lyrics/video/everything about it are pretty appropriate here. So thanks, sis.

Shit Charming Guys Say

I’ll admit, the “shit people say” trend is cracking me up. I’ve ignored most of them, but a few snuck by and stole a few giggles. What I’d love to see one for, though? Pick-up lines. They’ve been on my mind lately.

Who am I kidding? That’s always on my mind. I’m what you’d call a pick-up line connoisseur. I blame Night at the Roxbury; those SNL goobers instilled a love of the ridiculous in me at a very young age, and I’ve never recovered.

For me, the more absurd the line, the better is works. My theory is that a guy with the guts to walk up to a girl he thinks is pretty and knowingly make a fool out of himself deserves at least a drink. (Note: key word being ‘knowingly’; guys that pull those lines thinking they’re smooth are just gross. It’s a fine line to walk, so please know you can pull it off before opening your mouth.)

Last Saturday, my group was out in Dupont Circle. We like to start the night at a sushi-place-turned-nightclub because some friends work there and great cocktails should be enjoyed while still sober. We ended up befriending two men that had been at the end of the bar and looking our way awhile. The attractive Lebanese one seems to take to one of my friends pretty well, and joined us for our night of club-hopping. [This eventually led, once the other guys went home, to me spending the later part of the night with two couples.]

At one point, though, the new guy told me that I looked like ‘someone he used to know’. I could tell by his look that he was genuinely being appreciative, but I still replied with a raised eyebrow and “I’m not really sure how to take that. Who?”

“Don’t worry about it. But it’s a good thing.”

Look, guys, if a girl looks like an ex- and you want to compliment her appearance, just tell her she looks pretty and leave it at that. Don’t try to be clever– because ‘someone I used to know’ makes me feel like I look like I’m your high school girlfriend. No woman wants to be a walking reminder of teenagehood– it was all pimples, hormones, and angsty confusion. At least I don’t; but maybe because it’s still in my semi-recent past? Weigh in on this, ladies.

A friend at work says that his approach is simple: if he’s out and thinks a woman is beautiful, he walks right up to say hello and ask if he can buy her a drink. (Full disclosure: working at a Middle Eastern restaurant means that my ‘friends from work’ are foreign, charismatic, and possessing those great accents that trip over the English language in an adorable way. This man is no exception.)

I’ll also say that if this man walked up to me at a bar and asked to buy me a drink like that, I’d find myself in a deep conversation about the beauties of Morocco before I could blink twice. He’s confident, naturally charming, and very comfortable in his own skin. Chalk it up to age, but he’s grown out of the younger-man’s conviction that having game involves complex approaches. You don’t need battle tactics, boys, we aren’t a football game. It’s tennis: volley an opening our way and wait for a response. Simplicity! And this is the advice of an anything-but-simple girl.

Don’t get me wrong, ingenuity has its rewards, too. If you have a unique way to make contact, then go for it. After migrating to our favorite DJ-established vinyl-and-bands lounge and then spending enough time with the two couples, I grew tired of 5th wheeling it and went to the dance floor to listen to the jazz band.

I could tell that a guy nearby was looking, but wanted to see what he’d do. What can I say? I’m a curious girl. To his credit, it wasn’t a long wait. A guy in front of us was blatantly taking up too much room, flailing about like an idiot, and kept knocking into me. I was happy enough listening to a great band, so it was more amusing than anything. In this guy’s favor, it made me back up several times, and the last one that almost knocked my Manhattan from my hand was the last straw. Cute boy went from a smile to busting out laughing and leaned closer to my ear to suggest I fight back.

Threaten my whiskey at your own risk, buddy.

Sure, such romantic comedy opportunities are rare enough outside of Hollywood, but it’s extra-special when a guy is clever enough to take advantage of it. We went on to have a great conversation over jazz, music, and eventually the fact that he claimed to know how to dance. Naturally, I asked him to prove it. I was far from disappointed.

So sure, sometimes things that would otherwise seem trite actually do work– if you can back them up. And the absurd might pan out, if you’ve the humor to play to the right audience. But the best way to go really is the easiest.

Because in the end, the most charming guys aren’t the ones with the most interesting pick-up lines, which take a deal of contrived forethought and are likely recycled. No, you want to know the shit charming guys say?

They say, “Hello.”

Big D and the Kids Table got it right in their stroll song, A Kiss A Week:

Social Butterflying

Yes, DC and I have been hitting it off swell lately. It’s been night after night of wining-and-dining-and-dancing. Minus the wine and food most of the time. In a city of high-energy overachievers, the work hard/party hard mentality is practically a required lifestyle for residency.

Unfortunately, I’ve always had trouble choosing from which awesome thing to do with my life, and that includes my social life… including how to structure this whole writing idea. So I’m going to go with my usual plan, and say whatever comes to mind, even if there isn’t an obvious continuity to it.

Deal with it.

So one of the first things I was told upon arrival in DC was that there is a huge gender disparity. Being accustomed to being one of the few females in a circle of ambitious, political guy types, I assumed it was the same here.

Apparently that is not so anymore, for the 20-something crowd. Some single girlfriends told me there is a huge lack of eligible, intelligent, SINGLE guys here. There is a huge influx of women, and most of the guys already have girlfriends. Bad news bears to a single girl, right?

I don’t know where they were getting their intel, but that’s not the truth. At least, not how I’ve experienced it. I’m thinking they’ve a much more selective taste, whereas I’ve a broader interest.

I’m an equal-opportunity dater. And that isn’t just race, but religion, background, profession [or lackthereof], partisanship…. pretty much anything. Except those of the Westboro/Tea Party persuasion. *Imbeciles need not apply.*

Beyond that, most people find the nook they fit into and feel comfortable, and coast along happily. I tend to bounce around from group to group– depending on my schedule, the weather, or whatever strikes my fancy– so it broadens the possibilities.

The key: you have to take risks. Whether it’s going to a house party/bar you’re unsure of, meeting up with people you met only once weeks ago but have invited you out, or walking up to that cute guy across the bar that hits some secret nerve electrifying your spine– just do it. Don’t say no, don’t think, don’t rationalize… just do it. After a few too many life-altering “learning moments” over the past few years, I’ve come to embrace ‘carpe diem’ not only as a motivator, but as a true lifestyle.

Because of that, I’ve made friends with everyone from the Mexican guys living in the group house on the corner of my block to White House staffers and diplomats on Embassy Row. I’ve asked a cute street musician for a drink because I liked his bluegrass, and been on ritzier dates in Dupont with guys well above my pay grade. I don’t let things limit me.

And you know, I’m happier for it. DC and I are getting to know each other much faster and more profoundly than we would have otherwise. Even if it’s something simple like stopping to take photos of a half-renovated church, or giving my lunch to someone hungrier than me in a park, it’s worth your while to stop rushing around the city inside your own head and actually take a LOOK at the real one around you.

It might not smell like roses, but DC is beautiful, and this butterfly likes the perks of being more than just a wallflower.

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