Well-played, DC

The last thing I’d want you to think about me, as the co-writer of a DC-based blog, is that I am some surly Midwestern grouch with an appetite for nothing but whining. When I am not bitching about bars with no chairs or inappropriate things to sprinkle on comfort food, I manage to find things about this city I really do enjoy. Since it is Friday, and since I am feeling winsome, here is a list of things to adore about Washington, DC.

DC Shoes top

(Editors’ note: Don’t you dare wear this, you ass.)

The People
Sure, complaints about ambitious brown-nosers in ill-fitting grey suits run as freely as water in this town. These allegations are not without basis, especially those leveled against sartorial shluppiness. Still, I would argue that this stereotype emanates mostly from Capitol Hill and indicts Congressional staffers and interns specifically. And, yeah, they can be lame. Anyone who is 22 and so obviously in a position of aspirational power-grubbery is lame. Plus, their suits are often the worst.
But I don’t work on Capitol Hill, and I don’t know many people who do (a quick note to readers who do happen to be Congressional staffers: I totally didn’t mean you. You’re awesome. Plus, whatever, it’s not like you’ve never heard this stuff.) Most of my friends work for non-profit organizations. They are smart. They do interesting things. They don’t have inexplicable moneymaking jobs with names like “consultant,” and they are putting their liberal arts degrees to work. I have never until now been surrounded by so many friends who care about Ukrainian election fraud. I love going to parties and a) realizing that every guest already knows at least three of my friends and b) not feeling pressured to talk about indie bands and the ethics of eating a Dorito.

Big Bear Café
At the risk of sounding like someone who would want to discuss whom exactly you’re exploiting by eating whatever you had for dinner, as well as the finer points of the Decemberists’ career trajectory, I hereby confess that I love wiling away the hours in coffee shops. I spend a few days a week clocking time in wi-fi cafes writing, procrastinating and sucking down iced lattes. I am skittishly anal about my physical orientation, and sitting in a seat I don’t like at a table can ruin my evening. I’ve tried a great many wi-fi coffee shops in DC, and they all have their pluses and minuses. Big Bear Café in Bloomingdale takes away top honors. It is lively enough to be stimulating, but subdued enough to allow me to drift into my work. There is such an aura of community there – strangers share tables to manage to squeeze into the place at peak hours. One such evening I shared a table amidst a poetry slam crowd, which resulted in a new Facebook friendship. The spicy vegan chili is mighty tasty, and I have an easily-skeeved palette.

Happy Hours
Despite the fact that socially-encouraged early-evening boozefests threaten to deplete my bank account, liver efficacy and non-alcohol blood levels, I must admit that I am rather fond of stopping for drinks after work. Although high prices in DC have probably knocked my relative understanding of cost and value out of whack, happy hours allow me to trick myself into believing I am saving money. They also trick me into believing that eating mozzarella sticks for dinner is a good idea.

If you prefer to spend your lunch hours listening to PhDs discuss esoteric new research to unwinding with friends in a park or break room, this is the city for you. There is a constant flow of free programs at various organizations, schools, bookstores and restaurants given by very important and brainy people. Hitting a few of these a month will make you feel as if you’re intellectually exerting yourself, and will give you a good topic to steer a conversation toward when you are hanging out with people smarter than you (which, let’s be real, happens a lot in DC…but not as often as you’d think.)

– A suspiciously positive Natalie

About Natalie Shure

literature, life and latte lady

2 Responses to “Well-played, DC”

  1. Are you actually Midwestern? Just curious.

    I was a Midwestern transplant in NYC for five years and now I’m back in the Midwest. My best friend lives in DC (great place). She came to visit me recently in my landlocked college town and was not only surprised at how giant our CVSes are (and that they sell an abundance of liquor) but how friendly everyone is. I, too, after a year of living here, still get surprised by the friendliness. It’s hard not to be suspicious when someone chirps out, “Good morning!”

    • Zoe,
      Yes! I (Natalie – there are two blog writers,) am from Chicago and moved to DC last year. I too am dismayed by the lack of booze at CVS – not to mention the fact that booze can only be sold at stores until 10pm or so, and I think the Chicago cut-off is something like 2am. I have been to many a DC party that wilted shortly after 10 because of critical alcohol shortages. The Midwest would simply not let this happen.

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