Warmer Weather Means Solicitors Every Two Feet

It’s that time of year when you can’t go ten steps in the entire downtown DC area without someone trying to be your pal and then sign you up for a recurring payment to their charity. I feel so bad for them! But I’ve been suckered in too many times, I refuse to stop anymore.

I’m obviously not the only one with this attitude, because their approach seems to have become even more bold over the years. Recently I’ve heard, “Hey girl, can we be friends?” “AWESOME glasses!” “I bet you are the only nice person on this block, you’ll stop and chat for a sec!” No; thanks, I know; and no. And do they EVER get up in your personal space to try to slow your roll! I swear, a Greenpeace fundraiser could have stopped Genghis Khan in his tracks.

Today I walked out into the street around parked cars in order to avoid interaction. I have absolutely broken into a light jog to get around them before. I was thinking about learning the sign language for “I can’t hear you,” but faking a disability might be another level of shitty. I’d have to ask a deaf person if that’s offensive.

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Restaurant review: Ghibellina

This is probably my favorite happy hour spot right now, and truth be told, happy hour is the only time I’ve gone because the prices are irresistible.

It’s very cute inside. Exposed brick, wood beams, bare light bulbs at half power, a big pizza oven in the back and a huge open-air window in the front – it has excellent ambiance. And it always gets busy and buzzing so you feel like you’re somewhere people want to be.

The cocktails are just heaven. They have a real mixologist in there that I chatted with on one visit, and his creations are excellent. Infused syrups, spritzes of absinthe, purees, zests, roots, shrubs, swathes, I don’t even know. They are so perfectly mixed and delicious, and change with the seasons. So like you’ll get stuff with apple cider and maple in the winter, and rose water and prosecco in the spring. Some are more tart or sweet, but just chat with the bartender to help you decide. The bartenders are all unfailingly attentive and friendly. They also have seasonal sangrias that I find more flavorful (and stronger!) than most sangrias. During happy hour, the cocktails are $6 and a huge goblet of sangria is $5. That’s an excellent deal in this city for quality cocktails. Lots of places have them for $8 and up, even during happy hour.

Now for the best part: the wood-fired pizzas. I have had pizza all over this city: Two Amys, Pizzeria Paradiso, Pete’s Apizza, yada yada. Ghibellina’s is the best! I’m serious! There is one in particular, the olive e carciofi, that I just LOVE. It has nostraliana olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, basil, garlic, peperoncino and is simply perfection. I never get tired of it, and though I’ve ordered several others on the menu, I always come back to that one. All the pizzas are served with peperoncino-infused olive oil for drizzling (or, in my case, copious crust dipping) and your own pair of scissors to cut it. During happy hour, all pizzas are half price. See what I mean about the good deals? You could share one, but at half price, why? I don’t. Or if I do, we order another one later.

Two thumbs up for happy hour. If I ever go for dinner, I’ll let you know.

1610 14th St. NW
(Logan Circle neighborhood)

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Strange, Sad Story

Of course it’s a strange, sad story. Aren’t those the only kind I tell? Sigh.

I had an acquaintance that we all knew was a barely functioning alcoholic. He was harmless, but just constantly behaving inappropriately. And smelled of alcohol to the point that you knew it wasn’t just from the night before.

He was older (maybe around 60 but not aging well) and had been having health problems. Heart and stuff. But that’s not THAT old, and everything seemed manageable. He started working from home a lot to accommodate medical appointments. But then a couple days went by when he was supposedly working from home, but nobody had heard from him. One of his friends called his cell: no answer.

Long story short, the police were called to do a wellness check and he had died inside his home two days prior. It was a massive stroke. All of us who knew him are pretty sure he drank himself to death.

This type of stuff happens every day. Addiction is real and it kills. Not just moody rock stars, but the guy you knew down the street or in the office across from yours.

It always makes me wonder – is it fixable? Is it because this is how he always would have been, or could things have been different? Is our society and how we treat addiction to blame? Is our society and how humans are expected to live in it to blame? Why do so many people use consciousness-altering substances, even to point of death? Is this just a part of being human, or is there another way?

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Restaurant review: Lou’s City Bar

Lou’s City Bar in Columbia Heights is good for two things: bringing your dog with you to hang out with your friends during the winter months when patios aren’t open elsewhere, and being EXTREMELY close to a metro stop. That about it.

They enclose their patio year-round in a plastic tent, so even on rainy, freezing days, it’s open with wait service and TVs showing sports. They are also half a block from the Columbia Heights metro.

The food is bad, even for bar food. The service is fair, but the service is “fair” almost everywhere. The service is fair at the fricken IHOP. The drink prices are not that great.

Don’t bother unless it’s blizzarding and you really want to see your friends but are suffering from dog guilt cos he’s been home alone all day.

Lou’s City Bar
1400 Irving St NW

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Happy Spring!

Spring was never my favorite season, it was always fall when I was growing up. As I’ve gotten older, though, I really think it might be spring. Not only is it all flowering and beautiful, but there is the sweet, sweet anticipation of the upcoming summer. Beach, camping, hiking, vacations, swimming hole – OH but I love it. I might love looking forward to it even more than I love summer itself!

So far this spring I’ve gone to a Holi festival, which is an Indian festival of spring. Everyone got together in a big outdoor area with a stage set up, basically like an outdoor concert. The music was typical Indian stuff, good for bouncing around like hippies. The real point of the day, though, is throwing brightly colored dust all over each other and screaming “HAPPY HOLI!!” That, and enjoying a delicious meal from one of the vendors and patting the sacred cow. ♡

Getting dirty and happy.

I also went to opening day for the Washington Nationals baseball team. It was so fun! The weather could not have been more perfect. We got a great spot in the standing room only section. The Nats ended up losing, which was a total bumski, but the rest of the day – including a half-price, insanely delicious pizza from Pete’s Pizza after the game – was sooooo much fun.

All dressed up in our Nats gear.

The outdoor stadium is glorious.

Not to be forgotten – a Washington Capitals playoff game! After first checking out the soft opening (for investors only) of the new bar Brick & Mortar in the basement of Prequel (I’ll tell you more about that later), we walked over to the Verizon Center for the Caps game. The arena was PACKED and the crowd was crazy, but again, the Caps lost. Maybe we are bad luck? But it was still a great night.

caps playoffs game
Almost every seat was filled.

What is a beautiful spring Saturday without a wedding? My lovely friend got married over the weekend, so we were treated to a full Iranian reception. That means women dancing with knives and LOTS of Persian music. I forgot to get a photo of the flowers, but they were so beautiful. She had pink tulips and dogwood blooms in giant vases on each of the tables, and peonies in her bouquet. They were just gorgeous. And the place cards were color coded little chick cutouts. The color of your chick corresponded with your meal.

Ramona, Ghazaleh, and I laughing during the reception.

bahareh placecard
Cute little place cards.

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My Take on Current Groupthink Trends

Public Shaming and Mass Hysteria – This from a recent conversation with Jason, where we talked about people who have posted something on social media or some other public forum and been swiftly, and might I say often abusively, dressed down for it.

Don’t you kind of love it? It feels good to get mad when someone finds something like a receipt with no tip, or a racist tweet, or a bro wearing a misogynistic t-shirt, and they share it all over the place with their abject outrage. And everyone gets more outraged! And it’s very fun to be outraged at these horrible people that would do such a thing!

But what good is it doing, really? Is the world a better place because we’ve all made someone who made a mistake wish they were dead? Just today the internet is up in arms about the Britt McHenry, the ESPN reporter who belittled a tow company clerk (see the video, if you care to: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9d1_1429192014). Nobody should get a pass when they’re being mean, but aren’t we RIGHT NOW doing the same thing to her? All this online tit for tat spirals completely out of control when the tit is completely out of proportion to the tat.

I don’t like people manipulating my emotions, period. And I feel like the coverage this type of stuff gets, the obsessive retweeting and anger and hysteria that gets picked up by people on social media and then covered far out of proportion by regular media, is manipulative. Manipulating me into thinking you’re ‘smart’ because you’re outraged, too; manipulating me into thinking your news outlet is hip and relevant because you cover it; manipulating me into being outraged myself because let’s face it, none of us is immune to mass hysteria.

I’m tired of it. You know who else uses social media to create hysteria, demonize ‘wrongdoers,’ and get followers? ISIS. The Islamic State recruits almost exclusively through the use of social media using these exact techniques. So the next time you decide to take up some social media public stoning, think about why you feel that way. Think about what good it’s going to do. Ask yourself if there might be a better way for us as an enlightened people to handle antisocial behaviors.


Feminism and Dressing Racy – You say you believe in women’s rights (which I argue is itself antithetical to true equal rights, when you get down to a purely rational level, but I guess we humans are not at that place, so I’ll have to learn to deal with it), but when you harp that women who dress provocatively have low self esteem or are somehow “bad feminists,” you are VASTLY missing the point.

Because to say that they are dressing to be sexy or ‘dressing for men’ when they wear revealing clothing (by the way, who decided what “revealing” is? We have to cover certain parts of bodies because WHO decided?) takes away their right to dress whatever way they want to, for whatever reasons they want to, and isn’t that supposed to be true feminism? Or do you believe that if you dress this way, behave this way, only THEN you are a good woman? And dress THAT way, behave THAT way, then you are just doing what men want and are a bad feminist, and probably a sad, weak, superficial woman in general?

How about everyone gets to dress the way they want to? How about I don’t have to wear a pantsuit or a fucking burka for you to decide I’m following the rules of feminism? Maybe I don’t care about your stupid social rules to begin with. And you can like it or not like it without relating it back to my self esteem or worth as a woman or worthy follower of your feminist ideals.


Fatceptance – This is sort of along similar lines to the body weirdness I talked about above. Being overweight is unhealthy. Smoking is unhealthy. Yet every day I get it crammed down my throat that I’m supposed to find the naked obese body attractive, and the face of a lifelong smoker unattractive. Every day. Except, what is attractive to a person is actually a result of biology, evolution, and successful reproduction, and the human brain is designed to find proportionate bodies and symmetrical faces attractive.

So you can tell me from every mountain that obesity is beautiful, but neither smoking nor being excessively overweight are healthy and neither are attractive. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings.

No I’m not.

I will say, though, that the obesity epidemic is not actually our fault, but the fault of the additives in our foods. Perhaps instead of trying to make us believe something that inherently isn’t and will never be true (unless some massive biological changes take place in every human body in the next couple of years), we should find out what we are really eating and get the poisons out. It worked for smoking, look how much we hate cigarettes now. We can make it work for food, too. Fatceptance should not be a thing.

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Restaurant review: Donburi

Oh goodness, is this little place delicious. It’s a teeny, tiny spot on 18th Street in Adams Morgan, with only one counter for seating. You walk in, place your order at the front register, then take a seat at the counter and wait for your delicious, warm, flavorful Japanese rice bowl to arrive.

You can get a variety of toppings, I of course chose tempura vegetables, and it comes with other small pickled items. There are also meats and fish to choose from. My favorite part was this delicious sauce they give you on the side, I guess it’s called donburi sauce, and wow, does it make the flavors of everything else pop.

They prepare everything right behind the counter, so you get to watch them slice, blowtorch, fry, chop, all of it. Very entertaining. And you can tell when your order is about to be up, too. I honestly don’t know how they keep all the orders organized or remembered, it looked like the guy taking them at the front was just yelling them back to the chef and he’d remember each one. That can’t be right, though! Anyway, it was neat.

When you want a hearty, delicious, flavorful meal of comfort food, I highly recommend this place. Two thumbs up!

2438 18th St. NW
Adams Morgan

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Trends in Ireland

I know I need to just bite the bullet and finish writing up my trip, because it really was fun and we had sweet little adventures that I want to tell you all about! But I’m a procrastinator, so today I’ll just write about a couple of trends I noticed in Ireland.

1) Reflective Vests: in every town we stayed in except Dublin, you would see people walking around in groups, all wearing reflective vests. At first we thought maybe it was some kind of cleanup crew or road maintenance situation, but we kept seeing them everywhere. We finally realized it was just people taking walks. But why the ubiquitous vests? Was it a law you had to wear them after dark? Angela decided to just ask an Irish girl. The answer was so funny! Apparently there was a TV show similar to our Biggest Loser, and in it, when they were working out the contestants, they always made them wear reflective vests. Probably some kind of legal thing. People watching it started getting together with their friends, sometimes even making little workout clubs, and exercising out on city streets. And they, too, wore the reflective vests, I guess to feel like they were part of the show.

2) Shorts with tights: Girls everywhere were wearing this ensemble. I know we used to do it here in the States, too, but that was at least five years ago. I gotta say, Ireland was not a fashion capital.

3) Minimal cell phone use: NOBODY had their phones out at bars and pubs. Seriously, you never saw it. The most you would see was someone talking on it, trying to meet up with their friend. But never were they texting, facebooking, tweeting, reading, or otherwise locked to their screens. They interacted with each other like crazy, even when they didn’t know each other. I was jealous, and sad that it’s not like that anymore here.

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Ireland: Day One evening

After a late dinner at The Brazen Head, which claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub (established 1198, nbd) on Day One, we drove up to Kingscourt, where the castle we were staying in was located. At this point, we are just delirious. We had the heat up way too high and were both falling asleep. Fog was getting thicker by the minute. Suddenly, rising in front of us, we see this surreal bridge on the N1 motorway.

Boyne Bridge at night
The Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge [Image credit: Wikipedia]

I thought we were going to get beamed up, man.

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Restaurant Review: Baba’s Dumplings at EatsPlace

First, let’s talk about what EatsPlace is. To hear them tell it, it’s a “Park View food incubator, restaurant, accelerator and pop-uppery! We’re a neighborhood restaurant and bar that hosts guest chef residencies, food producers, classes and events.” Whatevsies. I don’t even know what Park View is, I’m guessing a new neighborhood name so the white people gentrifying Petworth don’t have to admit they live there.

Okay, I just looked it up. I’m correct. Meaningless neighborhood name. Onward.

The concept is actually quite cool. It seems to be a rotating selection of chefs/restaurants that have no home to call their own. They try it out at EatsPlace, see how things go, and maybe go on to open their own permanent location. I like it. The service there is a little weird, like you can’t open a tab at the bar and keep it open. The only way the food order makes it down to the kitchen is by closing the whole thing out and paying. So for my friends and I to order a beer, then appetizers, then another drink, then entrees, we had to close out our tab three separate times. It was silly. Other than that, nice enough atmosphere and pleasant employees.

Now for this month’s restaurant selection, Baba’s Dumplings. The dumplings were superb. I got them fried, and they made the vegetarian ones with a deliciously seasoned seitan*. That’s another thing – in both the dumplings and the noodle soup, you had a choice of vegetarian or meat. I really appreciate that. There were several sauces on the counter to try with them. Very good.

Next came the noodle soup. This I was less enamored with. The broth was just not that tasty. I know it’s hard with vegetarian broths cos you don’t have that delicious meat bone to work with, but it can be done and my Asian soup standard is fairly high (DC has some great ramen spots). It was OKAY, but not the best I’ve ever had. Their seitan offering was sparing, I had hoped for more pieces. I ordered the optional egg on top, but it wasn’t very warm. Maybe it’s not supposed to be, but it rendered it a little slimy in the mouth.

I will be back to EatsPlace, but not for Baba’s Dumplings. There are too many other good noodle spots to hit in DC. One thumb up, one thumb down.

*Seitan is a vegetarian ‘fake meat’ made out of processed wheat gluten. It can be seasoned, usually with soy sauce, and is used primarily in Asian dishes, but works for lots of things. Now that gluten isn’t bad for you anymore, I encourage you to try it!

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