18th and Columbia

How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives

As I’m writing this to you, my stomach is in knots. It turns out the Sunday scaries don’t really go away even when your only commute is to the living room table, so I’m here, taking deep breaths and trying to compartmentalize tomorrow’s deadlines from you know, all of that out there.

On some level, we must all be questioning our life choices, right? In our free time, David and I trade pictures of cabins and homey-hygge interiors that we want to build one day. We say that for now, we’d even settle for being in the middle of some woods with a tent and our dog and a campfire. We don’t even try to hide from ourselves that this vision is some real yuppy REI shit. But this all leads to bigger questions too, because how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. And so when this is all over, how do we stop talking about that life we’re imagining and just go do it already. That mostly means we’re looking at beater cars that can take us from Manhattan to the middle of nowhere in a hurry.

In spite of that kind of existential questioning, I’m cautiously enjoying this time. David and I have been living in the same place for 5 full weeks. We eat our meals together. I’ve been sleeping a consistent 8 hours. At my new job, all pretenses have been wiped away—I see my co-workers in sweats, no makeup, looking exasperated because their kid just wants to play—and it’s been a welcome equalizer. I feel like the entire world is at my doorstep. I’m joining poetry readings, and marathon viewings of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and listening to music and stories that I might not usually think were my style. The other night, we just laid in bed and turned on old 90s songs on the Apple TV; Apple Music now conveniently shows the lyrics for most songs and we suddenly found ourselves singing a lazy kind of karaoke, sans microphone. My friends are sending us pictures of their kids and they are a gooddamn delight. Our dog is getting fat. My clothes are uncomfortably tight. I try not to care—too much.

Maybe it’s because it’s finally spring—and even though my stomach is currently in knots—I feel something opening up. Just a little bit of hope. A feeling like this was all a springboard—the universe is giving us a mulligan and another chance to get it right. A chance to care a little more about our neighbors and to build a better plan for next time. A way to jolt us out of our complacency.

Let’s see if we get it right this time.

To Read

  • The last train trip before everything changed.
  • “A decade later this instance—like a fingerprint pressed into wet concrete, even with thousands of other days on top of it—will still be visible.” If you only read this piece for that line, it will be enough.
  • We’ve lived in New York nearly two and a half years now (shiiiiiit, when did that happen?) and I’ve got a pretty good food map going. I haven’t been to all of these places, but they’ve been recommended in some form by others.
  • Fran Lebovitz is never leaving New York. And for now, neither am I. An interview with an unusual character.
  • Hard to look away from these photos of a disappearing South.
  • Explain it like I’m 3. What a treasure. Thanks, Sameer.

To Watch

  • Better Things and Breeders on Hulu have been the sweet surprises of my isolation TV viewing.
  • I did a marathon viewing of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and discovered Colin Firth and Ira Glass kind of look alike now.
  • Table of Contents has become one of my favorite New York activities, even if it means an hour on the train to Brooklyn. They’re doing a live reading tomorrow night. Tune in.
  • David Lebovitz is making dranks on Instagram. Join him for his daily Apero hour (live at noon ET).
  • Literally days before the shelter-in-place order was given, I was scheduled to go see Emma with my pal Sahar. I decided to pay the $20 fee to rent it instead. Honestly, even with a rockstar cast, it was incredibly flat. Do not recommend.

To Listen

  • I randomly (truly, so randomly) stumbled on Radio Artifact, a local radio station out of Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve tuned in a few times and have never regretted it.
  • I hope we’re all hearing new/old things in lockdown.
  • Maybe you don’t know that I’m part of the team making this podcast? It seems to be providing a lot of people comfort right now.

To Eat

 

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18th and Columbia

On the Road Again

For the next two weeks, I’m packing my life into a 3×2 ft suitcase. When I leave for a trip like this, I always wonder: if everything I ever really need is in this bag, why is my home always such a mess of all the other stuff I own? I leave vowing to clear out the miscellany when I return.

This week, I’m heading to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend AltSummit, a sort of conference for bloggers. The timing is ideal. After 10 years of blogging, I took a 2-year hiatus. I gently set aside my beloved Metro(poetry)lis and picked up the reins here at 18th and Columbia. I was a different kind of blogger and that demanded a different kind of blog. This has also coincided with the opportunity to helm Threespot’s company blog. [Go ahead, ask me which one I’m more nervous about.]

During the second week of travel, I’m heading down to Norfolk, VA for work. We’ll be near the beach, but unlikely to visit, so I’ll be sending my missives from the inside of a hotel room.

The good thing about travel is after living your days all from the inside of a 3×2 ft suitcase, you come home, sigh, and say, thank goodness I have so much life beyond this little rolling box. And you look at the dog that you’ve missed and the partner that you’ve been miserable without and all that damn stuff you’ve accumulated and vow to never, ever leave it all for that long again.


 

The Good Shit

 

Life and Thyme

Image via Life and Thyme

Let’s be real for a second. You’re in the middle of a city you don’t know and you *really* need to use the bathroom. Where do you go? If you’re like me, it’s to the nearest Starbucks, which boasts relatively clean bathrooms, iced coffee and now free mobile phone charging. The future is here, ya’ll.

Life & Thyme has a sexy tutorial on how to make a killer cup of  coffee using an Aeropress. And while we’re on the subject of coffee, can someone please sherpa me these adorable little iced coffee cartons from Blue Bottle in NY/SF?

If you’re looking for a book to read that comes from beyond the Young Adult section, why not enjoy one of these recommendations from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? My beloved Jane Austen makes the list, but so do a number of other books that might surprise you.

“Whenever José is in town, I know I’m going to do two things: drink too much and spend a lot of money.” I’ve had the pleasure to see/meet Chef José Andrés a few times. He’s a really good guy. Like a really, really good guy. This story proves it.

Next time the asshole at the bar won’t leave you alone, tell him to call you at 669-221-6251. Then get as mad as I am that this has to exist.

Alright ya’ll, let’s go.

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18th and Columbia

What I’m Wearing To AltSummit:

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It doesn’t matter.

Next week I’m heading to #AltSummit. I’ve got all kinds of feels about this ya’ll. I advocated for AltSummit as part of my professional development plan at work because I had hoped to meet a community of digitally savvy people with which to have real conversations about the role of blogging, the business of self-publishing and why it’s so damn cool to be a writer in the 21st century. Instead, the Facebook group has largely involved conversations about what to wear to the dinner parties and the right hand-crafted, letterpress [insert-other-crafty-word-here] business cards to bring. People are getting weird about business cards. It’s making me cynical.

And then of course there is the really big issue: Salt Lake City isn’t a coffee town. Luckily my buddy Cameron has plyed me the names of two legit coffee shops: Jack Mormon and Nostalgia Coffee. You’re welcome, AltSummit.

Despite my initial misgivings about the vibe at AltSummit,  I can’t wait to meet my feminist lady crush, Meg, from A Practical Wedding (Which, P.S., I’ll never stop name dropping the fact I was cool enough to once appear on her blog).

Tweet from @practicalwed

Because this happened one time.

Martha Stewart will be there, and for whatever I feel about craftiness and homemaking, she’s still a dynamo in her own right.

I’m optimistic that once we arrive, it will be less about vintage shoes, golden barrettes or how much we spent on our business cards. Instead, I’m betting it will be about inspiration, education and camaraderie. I’m just betting.

Reads for Bloggers

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18th and Columbia

A Digital Tonnage of Reading

Man, today is going to be kickass. How do I know, you ask? Because there is just so much goddamn possibility in a Monday, you know? Enough with the pleasantries. Let’s get to the good stuff.

I mentioned I’ve been reading–on long train rides for work, or just before bed, I’ve been trying to make my way through this list of slightly more than 100 fantastic pieces of journalism cultivated by inestimable

If (slightly more than) 100 articles feels a bit overwhelming, why not start with this worthy list of 17 essential short stories written by women? Oh god. Even just seeing the cover for Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery makes me shiver with teenage anxiety. Jhumpa Lahiri’s piece from Interpreter of Maladies was one of the first truly grown up things I remember reading. You’re welcome.

On a lighter note: I basically kind of hated Tumblr when it first came out. It didn’t really feel substantive, you know? But I can really get behind the fact that it’s a free platform of which my nonprofit friends can take serious advantage. Tumblr put together a whole mess of tips about “Tumbling for Good,” and that’s something I can get behind.

Food (for Thought)

God, this pear and nutella bread from Indigo Scones makes me weep.

Nutella Pear Bread | Indigo Scones

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18th and Columbia

Hitting the Books

I’ve been all sorts of moody, so I’ve fallen in love with reading again lately. Luckily this seems to be a good thing.

What have I been reading, you say? Well, I’ve been going through a phase where I feel like I need to catch up on the books people said were great. Even if they happen to have been great 20 years ago. The whole time you’re really just hoping they hold up to the now distant hype. I just completed The Shipping News and The Handmaid’s Tale, the latter which was so epic in a sci-fi, post apocalyptic way.

I’m currently working my way through Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, while also trying to complete The Goldfinch. That’s making for some weird dreams. I’m also actively avoiding these books about dying teens that everyone seems to be reading.

So, what’s on your reading list? What should I pick up next?

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18th and Columbia

Apps that Changed My Life

I’m not going to lie, one of the best things about working for a digital agency is taking advantage of our collective interest in being early adopters. My colleagues are often using smart tools long before they make it the popular market.

In my time at Threespot I’ve been introduced to a number of apps that change the way I work. I’m sharing them here because I want them to be around and to iterate and that means I can’t be the only one using them.

One Tab

Do you seriously have like 20 tabs open right now? One tab takes all those glorious little bits of internet ephemera and puts them on a single page. God, I love the Internet. (Sorry Safari and Firefox users, this extension is for Chrome only. Don’t even talk to me if you still use IE)

CloudApp

You remember having to FTP image files? Or worse yet, emailing them to yourself? What bullsht. Drag images to CloudApp and they automatically give you a sweet little link to share with others. An easy peasy way to get your images to others.

Draft

As a writer, I’m obsessed with Draft. It’s such a clean space for getting your ideas on virtual paper. And the Hemingway mode (no deleting…not even for misspellings) helps you focus on the message and all those little red squiggly lines. Seriously. I use Draft to journal, to sketch big ideas or to write whole pitches.

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18th and Columbia

What You Missed

You guys, I owe most of this week’s links to the lovely Rachael King (whom I only know from Twitter, but can still verify that she is indeed lovely).

This Medium post from Airbnb co-founder Brian Cheskey talks about the value of not fucking up your workplace culture, that is if you’re lucky to have one. I work in a pretty damn drama-free office. I can’t even tell you the layers of infinite anxiety that are relieved by this.

Quartz has some killer tips on how to structure you work day and they’re doable. Although they suggest waiting awhile after you’ve woken up to have coffee. Not doable.

This Songza playlist of Acoustic Pop Songs is blowing my fking mind. Mostly because I have a secret affection for Acoustic Sunrise and now I don’t have to wait until the crack of dawn on Sunday to access my slow jams.

Let’s do this.

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Earn Your Sleep Image by Jason Vandenberg
18th and Columbia

The Business of Careers

Earn Your Sleep by Jason Vandenberg

Do you remember where you were in your career just five years ago? If you’re among my generation/cohort, it wasn’t such a good place. You were probably someone’s assistant, or an intern, or maybe just starting to figure out that very few people have careers that are as decidedly defined as the ones we imagined when we were kids.

But you know what? You’ve come a long way. And if you haven’t, well, it’s time to do something about then, isn’t it?

Work has been on my brain a lot lately. I’m lucky to be in a job that I’m absolutely mad about, but the recession walloped a good many of us. A whole generation of baby boomers are retiring and that is going to mean a lot of things for us in the working class. And what about the next generation? I had a chance to meet with a few lovely women on the cusp of beginning their careers and I gave them the only advice I could, the only advice I truly wish someone had told me: You’re smart and capable. Be bold in sharing your ideas. Stay humbled by the intelligence peers, colleagues and mentors. Do the thing that scares the shit out of you. 

You’re smart and capable. Be bold in sharing your ideas. Stay humbled by the intelligence peers, colleagues and mentors. Do the thing that scares the shit out of you. 

I said that. At my university. In front of teachers. They may not invite me back, ya’ll.

 

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18th and Columbia

What You Missed

Look, I know you’re coming to the office, same as me. Slightly resentful to have left the comfort of you bed and just clinging to your cuppa joe as tightly as if they were prayer beads. Your day is only going to get more complicated my friend, so start things off right with a few reads that are well worth the trouble.

“One of the most obscene things I learned as a barista was how eager people are to be liked.”

I’ve been sitting on this article from The Awl for a few weeks. The truth is, the way I wanted to be a cashier at McDonald’s so I could press the buttons is the same way I feel about being a barista so I can be in a coffee shop all day. But Molly Osberg’s article on the Barista Class has made me think differently about the people behind the counter.

NPR has been on their game lately. I was already a huge fan of their public personas–Michelle Norris, Audie Cornish, Linda Holmes–but Melody Kramer has cracked wide open the NPR social media space. Her approach to a transparency in public media reminds me quite a bit of the work done by Wendy Harman at the American Red Cross.

I’m also digging their series on women and finances, “She Works.” Good advice from women who mean business.

Hurrah for ladies in digital, double hurrah for ladies breaking barriers.

And finally, I’m all for anyone who can use the phase “turgid philosophers” in a graduation speech. Especially if that person happens to be Bill Watterson.

 

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18th and Columbia

18th and Columbia, the Epicenter

“Adams Morgan? Oh, Jumbo Slice, right?”

Ouch. Is that all Washingtonians know about Adams Morgan? For the record, I’ve still never eaten a slice of pizza that is the size of my head, especially when there are so many other options in our neighborhood. After living in Adams Morgan for five years, I realize we haven’t explained very well that our part of this city is growing and thriving beyond its bar-district reputation. We’ve got a farmer’s market. We do outdoor movies and summer concert series too. And our street festival kicks ass. In fact, I’ve got a few other reasons you should rethink a visit to Adams Morgan.

5 Reasons You Should Revisit Adams Morgan

  1. We got really good at food. 
    The standards, like Cashion’s Eat Place, So’s Your Mom, Julia’s Empanadas, have always been good. There are hidden gems you probably don’t even know about like Jyoti, Casa Oaxaca, Napoleon. Lately, a few new chefs have made Adams Morgan their home and we’re seeing fresh perspectives from the likes of Mintwood Place, DonburiSakuramen, Roofers Union and The Cake Room. We’re getting serious about our drinks thanks to Jack Rose. Adams Morgan is still home to the only 24-hour diner in the District, and you can never go wrong with a cup of coffee from Tryst.
  2. We dig green space.
    Adams Morgan is home to an abnormal amount of green space: Kalorama Park, Walter Pierce Park and a short walk away to Meridian Hill Park.
  3. We take fitness seriously.
    How many other neighborhoods do you know with five fitness options in a 2 block radius? Get your swim on at the Marie Reed Rec Center or hit Solid Core, Mint, Stroga, The Studio.
  4. We’re in the middle of everything.
    Bikeshare? Please, we’ve got 6 stations. Buses? Jump on the Circulator, the 42, 43, L1, L2, 90 or 96. Metro? We’re equidistant between Woodley Park and Columbia Heights. We’re a short walk to Dupont Circle, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, U Street and Woodley Park.
  5. Our boutiques, shops and jewelry stores are better than yours.
    Your first stop (after eating, of course) is Idle Time Books. The owners live on the third floor of this used book store, but they don’t mind if you settle in and make yourself at home among the shelves of books. The book smell. It’s glorious. If you’re into vintage clothes, you have to stop by MeepsMercedes Bien or Via Gypset. If you’re into vintage records, it’s Smash and Red Onion. Save yourself a trip to Eastern Market and pick up your costume jewelry from Turquoise instead. The coolest store you’ve never visited? The Brass Knob.
  6. Bonus: We’re no longer a destination for undergrads or summer interns. And it’s as glorious as you imagined.

See you soon.

 

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